Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Guest Blogger - Nicolette Derens

First I want to thank Lucy, one of my all-time favorite people and writers, for letting me join you all here!

Lucy and I have been reading each other’s writing for years now I’m so glad she still wanted to co-author a book with me after reading some of my early attempts at romantic fiction! J But seriously, working on Miss Fix-It with Lucy was such fun and I think the book is a wonderful blend of our two styles. I would love to hear from readers of her other books if they can “tell” which elements, scenes, dialogue, etc. are hers and which might be mine.

It’s a very unique book, with distinct things from each of us, but I’ll be surprised if (and will send chocolate to) anyone who can specifically pick something out from the story that is just Lucy’s or mine. In truth, Ginney and Caleb wrote their story. They are warm, wonderful characters who truly love each other, even when they are not totally convinced they should! I love the book and can’t think of another writer I would be so thrilled to share a cover with!

Of course, we all know that Lucy writes some of the best books in romantic fiction and that they have fabulous love scenes! This book is a bit different from her others in that it’s an inspirational romance.

Inspirational romantic fiction is obviously a little different from what some of you may be used to reading. I’m very interested in what you think! I have personally read and written inspirational romance over the past ten years (among lots of other things!) and I think I understand why some people shy away from it. Sometimes it can seem preachy, or too simple, or too… chaste. Not that characters have to sleep together to have a great love story. But there has to be chemistry. Certainly they can choose what to do with or about that chemistry.

In some stories, some of my favorites in fact, the characters choose to eventually act on that chemistry. In inspirational romances, they choose not to. But that doesn’t mean they don’t feel it. They have to. Otherwise they would be content to go for coffee every once in awhile and just chat about the weather. Inspirational romances have a bit more to them than the ‘no sex thing’, of course. There is also a strong faith message. God is a character in the book. However, the characters are not necessarily preachers and virgin church choir directors! J The best stories, always, are about people finding that love conquers all. Miss Fix-It is one of these books. I hope that you’ll check it out and let us know what you think!

So, my question to you all is, what images, thoughts or words does the term “inspirational romance” conjure for you? Are inspirational romances too sweet, too preachy, too ‘tame’, too… whatever… for you?

Nicolette Derens
Miss Fix-It
Samhain Publishing


Estella said...

Inspirational romances are a bit too tame for me. I like a little spice along with the story.

Amy said...

I love romance books, I really don't care which catagory they fall into as long as the story line is great. I read everything from the Love Inspired line at harlequin to erotic books and everything inbetween. I look forward to downloading Miss Fix-it tomorrow afternoon after work.

Lucy Monroe said...

Hey, Nicolette...WELCOME!!!! I'm so excited about this book with you. :)

Amy said...

I thought the book was not out until the 12th. I just found it and bought it. I have read the first couple of pages and if I had to guess I would say Lucy wrote the second page and Nichlette wrote the first page. Well I am off to finish the book. It has started out great and caught my attention right away!

Nicolette Derens said...

Thanks for jumping right in everyone! Lucy... you know I'm THRILLED to be here!
Estella, I have to say that I agree. The inspirational romances I've read in the past are a bit tame. Lucy's books, Susan Andersen, Erin MaCarthy, Kate Davies... those are all right up my alley with spice! But, that's another reason I'm so excited to write for Samhain. They'll let us push the "sweet" envelope a bit. In this story, Caleb and Ginney don't let things go too far, but they are tempted :)
Amy, you're so funny! I went back to page one and two and I have to admit... you're right that the bulk of page one is me and most of page two is Lucy :) How did you know?? And send me your address at nicderens@nicolettederens.com and I'll send the chocolate!

Amy said...

LOL! I am about to start chapter 5 and I am loving the story. As to how I could tell?? You and Lucy have a slight way of wording things differently. You will sometimes use a phrase or word that I have never know Lucy to use in any of her books. I can't tell who wrote what in most of the book so far but every once in a while there is a word or phrase that I am pretty sure is not Lucy's work. I guess it comes from reading and re-reading all her books so many times

Maureen said...

I think Inspirational Romances can tell many different stories but I think that the story also uses one or more characters faith in God as part of the story.

Cryna said...

I have read a few Inspirational books, none in the print form, but I have a few on my hardrive that are ebooks. Looking forward to getting this one. It sounds like it will be a great read.

As you know, Lucy and a few others, my daughter is a writer and has quite a few ebooks published and also a couple of print books. She did an inspirational story - to spread her wings over different genres and it turned out really well. I am proud of her talent and her ability to write the hot, humourous and inspirational.

I admire you as Authors.

anne said...

I enjoy romance books but prefer that they contain depth and great characters. The story is what keeps me interested. If an author can be multi-talented that is a create ability. Nice to have Nicolette here.

ruth said...

Welcome Nicolette. Great topic today. What I enjoy the most and look forward to in novels is a great storyline with wonderful character portrayal. This leads me into the plot and I am captivated. Sounds like your new book is a hit. Best wishes on the release.

Nicolette Derens said...

This is so fun!!
Lucy, does it feel wonderful to have a reader so dedicated she can pick out your wordings over mine! I'm just really grinning over that, Amy! I'm so happy to hear so many of you talking about it being the *story* that matters. I so agree. That and the characters. I have to be able to identify with the heroine and want to be her friend. As for the hero-- well, he has to make your heart flutter a bit, right?
But, for instance, I never thought I'd like werewolves, yet I gave it a try because it was Lucy... my mind was changed because of the story and people behind the premise.
One thing I love about writing inspirationals is that there is a level of challenge there... the writer has to make the reader feel the attraction and chemistry, and believe that it will last a lifetime, without them consumating it.
One of my best friends wrote to me to congratulate me on this release, then asked "Why couldn't you let them get married half way through and then write the hot sex scenes?!" LOL! I got a huge kick out of that! Maybe i'll try that with a future book ;)

Amy said...

I just finsihed Miss Fix-it and I loved it. Ginney and her Miss Fix-it ways had me rolling in laughter. I even cried in places. It was a very heart warming story and I give it 5 ***** even without all the "hot" love scenes.

ellie said...

Hi Nicolette. Sweet name.
I have been reading for years and what appeals to me in romance is the relationship between the major characters as well as the intense story that holds my interest. Congrts on the book.

Lucy Monroe said...

Oh, man, Amy...that is so cool. Can I admit here that I can do the same thing for my favorite authors and it means more to me than I can say that you can do that with my *voice*. :)

I'm loving this discussion too, Nicolette. I totally agree it's all about the story.


Lucy Monroe said...

And, smooches Amy on the KUDOS on the book. I'm so glad you liked it!!! Nicolette is uber talented and this book is all the better for our co-authoring it. :)

Stacy~ said...

Hi Nicolette :) I admit I don't read a lot of inspirational romance because of the more tame aspects. I am more of a spiritual person, yet I have no problem if there is strong faith in the story, but I also think it would be wonderful if these books could be sexier. After all, God gave us the ability and desire to enjoy physical love with our partner in a monogamous relationship, so why shouldn't we celebrate that in these books as well?

Good luck with the new release :)

Brandy said...

I've read many inspirational books and I have to say I like them because sex isn't the ultimate goal, finding love is.

Nicolette Derens said...

Amy, thanks for the kind words! So glad you liked it! You are officially my first review lol
I think Stacy said it best-- who created passion, desire and... sex after all?! I think it's one of God's greatest gifts, personally ;)
You have all been so great to stop in and say hi and give me your comments!
I'm going to be hanging out here all week and next as we continue to celebrate our new release and talk romance and give PRIZES! So I'll see you around! But, now I'm off to write for a bit and then to bed. I'm a couple of hours ahead of Lucy... which has occasionally made finding time for chatting interesting! I'm going to leave you with an excerpt from the book (hope it copies in here well). Enjoy! 'Night all!

Excerpt, Miss Fix-It, Samhain Publishing

“Pastor Macintosh seems very nice.”
“He is,” Ginney agreed. “And very knowledgeable about the Scriptures.”
“Well, I would hope so,” Caleb muttered, pulling the schoolhouse door open with more force than was strictly necessary.
She glanced at him. If she wasn’t mistaken, he was gritting his teeth.
He led her into the schoolhouse and began pointing out the improvements. She was impressed with the new bookshelves covered with books and the neat little desks that had replaced the long tables and benches. She turned to ask Caleb about the blackboards, but she lost all train of thought as she found him staring at her.
“What?” she asked softly.
“You’re so beautiful.”
She couldn’t breathe for a moment. “Thank you.”
“He’s perfect for you, isn’t he?” His voice was rough.
She didn’t even pretend to not know who he was talking about. “Pastor Macintosh and I will likely be good friends.” They did have a lot in common and their conversation over lunch had been invigorating to them both.
Caleb moved in closer and she noticed that his gaze flickered to her lips before returning to her eyes.
“I can assure you that he is not thinking of you as a friend, Ginney.”
“He is,” she said confidently. “We got along very well over lunch.”
Caleb looked pained as he shook his head. “Not just a friend, then.”
She swallowed. God had arranged this moment. She couldn’t shrink away from it. “Caleb, it doesn’t matter.”
“Unfortunately, it does to me.” He stepped even closer. “Somewhere in the back of my mind, I realized that if we weren’t together, you would be with someone else. Which would mean that he would hold your hand, hold you…kiss you. But it wasn’t until I saw you with Brian, and saw how he looked at you, that I realized that if I’m not going to be the last man you kiss in your lifetime, I want to at least be one of the men you kiss in your lifetime.”
Her eyes widened. “Are you saying that you want to kiss me?”
He smiled. “I’ve wanted to kiss you since you turned sixteen.”
She had thought this would be more difficult. She smiled. Then stopped and frowned, remembering his words from just moments before. “Why won’t you be the last man I kiss in my lifetime?”
He lifted his hand to her cheek in the gesture that always made her heart melt. “Because your husband will be the last man to kiss you.”
“But, I thought…”
“I’m a man, Ginney. Just a mortal man. And as hard as I try to be true and do the right thing, I’m weak. When it comes to you, it seems, especially.” His voice was thick and his thumb stroked over the skin along her jaw. “Just one kiss. Just one to remember.”
She felt lost in his eyes. He seemed so intent, yet distressed, yet amazed at the same time.
“I’ve always wanted you to be my first,” she whispered before she even thought the words.
Caleb’s hand stilled on her face and he stared at her for a moment. Then he asked huskily, “What do you mean?”
She blinked up at him. “I want you to be my first kiss, Caleb.”
He breathed in deeply, then out all at once. “You’ve never been kissed?”
She shook her head.
“Not ever? By any of the men who courted you in Chicago?”
She shook her head again and wrapped her hand around his wrist where he still cradled her cheek. “I never let them get that close. I never wanted to kiss anyone but you.”
Several seconds ticked between them. Then he said, almost to himself, “This is so selfish. But I’ll just have to live with that.”
She thought to reassure him that this was part of God’s plan, but his lips touched hers before she could and she gave up everything but breathing and staying on her feet.
At one time she’d thought anticipating a kiss had to be sweeter than the actual thing. She had been so, so wrong.

Caleb had thought that he’d experienced craving and satisfaction in his life. But nothing had ever come close to this. Surprised by his reaction to Ginney’s kiss, he pulled her closer, marveling at how good she felt in his arms, how sweet she tasted.
He drank in every detail, wanting to remember the sound of her sigh, the feel of her skin under his fingertips, the smell of her hair. He could have gone on kissing her, gladly, gratefully, for the rest of his life.
But it was that thought that brought him back to reality.
This was one stolen moment. This wasn’t just a first kiss; it was also a kiss goodbye.
He let himself linger for a few seconds more, but finally lifted his head, setting Ginney back from him. Her eyes were slightly glazed and she pressed her lips together as she stared at him. He drew in a long, ragged breath.
This wasn’t going to help anything.
Giving a starving man a single taste of sustenance did nothing but make his hunger more ravenous.
“I’m sorry. That got…carried away.”
She touched her lips with her fingertips, then gave him a beautiful smile. “I didn’t mind.”
His eyes widened. She was so honest and open. It just might be the death of him.
“I shouldn’t have…I shouldn’t have even started this.”
She reached out and touched his arm before he could move away. “Caleb, it’s all right. I asked this time.”
He had no idea what she was talking about and didn’t know if it was because his emotions were still coursing and tumbling rapidly, or if it was because she wasn’t making sense. “Asked what?”
“God. I asked what He wanted. And this is it. Us. Together.”
She looked so happy that he just wanted to smile and hug her. But he had to maintain some sense. If he got close enough to hug her, he would most certainly kiss her again. He pushed his hand through his hair. Why did she have to wait for his kiss? And why did she have to tell him that? It was more than God should expect any man, even one with the best intentions, to resist.
“What did you ask?”
“I asked Him to show me what He wanted for us. And here we are.”

CrystalGB said...

Hi Nicolette. For me, inspirational romances are stories that have a "feel good" message. They are heart warming and optimistic. I always feel upbeat and happy after reading one.

tetewa said...

As an avid reader of all genres, I don't mind reading an occasional Inspirational Romance. They always make you feel good after reading them. I also don't mind a good Paranormal or Suspense. As long as the book can keep my attention, I'm there.

Denysé said...

Hi, Nicolette (& Lucy, of course!),

When I see the words inspirational romance I don't automatically think preachy, or sweet, honestly. I think of a story that is going to touch my heart, and my spirit, and make me think and feel a special love affair in the making. Something that will be an experience that enriches the soul as well as the lives of the people who are falling in love. Faith is one of the key elements to come into play between any two people who are learning to trust each other and fall in love, because it's that faith that assures you the risk is worth taking. So, I think inspirational romances can evolve into stories that have little to do with being preachy, and everything to do with being rich, deeply felt stories that leave you feeling positive and smiling for a long time after you've put them down with a happy sigh.

Congrats on your book, too!!

Hugs, always ~~ Denyse