Friday, August 29, 2008

HUGE RB Welcome to Roxanne St Claire!

Jeanne: A huge Romance Bandits welcome to fabulous Rita-award wining Suspense author Roxanne St. Claire. I've been a huge fan since I read French Twist, Tropical Getaway and Like a Hurricane in quick succession four years ago. Since then, Rocki has written 22 award winning books so far in four areas - romantic suspense, category, chick-lit, and novellas in anthologies. But one of the most fun things, I think are her the series she's created. Rocki, I'm dying to know about how you write these complex, interwoven series. First You Run was an April 2008 release, Then You Hide is just out as of July, 2008, and I'm waiting with bated breath for the September release of Now You Die. Rocki, tell us what it's like to write about The Bullet Catchers, and the hot, hot...suspense .. yeah, the suspense, that's it...that inspires your novels. :>

Rocki: Thank you, Jeanne, and thank you so much for the invitation to join the Romance Bandits! It’s an honor and a thrill to be here. And, of course, I’d lurve to talk about my fearless, gorgeous, alpha-to-the-bone bodyguards – the Bullet Catchers! Because they’re so…suspenseful. Right. That’s it.

You know, it’s kind of ironic that I write a series of any kind because I was never a huge fan of recurring characters or continuing series back when I was only reading, and not writing. I always had this sense that the author was being arrogant in *assuming* I’d read all her books, not to mention I hate the sensation that maybe I’ve missed something important. But when I was researching my fourth romantic suspense, KILL ME TWICE, and learning about the life of a bodyguard, some creative lightning struck (I read the slang term “bullet catcher” for bodyguard and the whole series just popped into my head) and I decided I’d give a series a try. It’s worked out well, since now there are six full length books in the series, and two novellas. But because of my earlier anti-series bias, I kill myself to ensure that each book stands completely alone and that recurring characters are included for a reason that makes sense for the story.

So things got real tricky when I decided to write a “trilogy within the series” – the three books that come out this year. They do stand alone, in that each is a romantic suspense adventure with a hero/heroine who ultimately find a happy ending, but there is a story thread that starts in the first, knots up further in the second, and is finally tied into a bow in the third. But, wow, a trilogy that’s released “close together” (mine are each two months apart) is NOT for the faint of heart. The first book is in production while the third one is being written, meaning, Thou Shalt Not Change the Plot.

But guess what I did? Changed the plot? Uh, yeah. And the heroine. And the hero. And the villain. And the entire direction of the trilogy I’d originally proposed. It worked out, but, wow, there were some dicey days last spring.

Jeanne: So for our readers, why don't you tell us who the Bullet Catchers are, and what the books are like?

Rocki: The Bullet Catchers are an elite, high-end group of bodyguards and security specialists that handle some of the most difficult, dangerous, and daring assignments doled out by their uber-controlling leader, Lucy Sharpe. In every story, the Bullet Catcher hero (or heroine) has to face both a physical and emotional challenge, bringing their particular skill set to the adventure (as well as their singular “weakness” – which Lucy, the boss, always knows), and, in the process, they save lives, solve a crime, foil a few villains, fall miserably in love, face daunting conflict, and, ultimately, find HEA bliss.

And, boy, was I wrong about recurring characters! Readers love them. In fact, the very first character I introduced was the woman who runs the Bullet Catchers operation, Lucy Sharpe, and from the get-go, she generated the most mail and interest among readers. I hadn’t planned on making the third book in the trilogy Lucy’s book (because I thought that when I ended the series, I’d do so with her book), but she is one of those *demanding* characters and she’s the reason I changed the entire trilogy so that she could be the heroine of the third book. That book came out this week, NOW YOU DIE, and I hope readers love the story I’ve given her. (Or, I should say, the story she insisted on having!)

Since so many people like to start a series from the beginning (although it’s not necessary!), here are the books to date, all still available.

KILL ME TWICE (hot Cuban-American hero with major libido issues)
THRILL ME TO DEATH (big, sexy former DEA agent brought to his big, sexy knees by former lover)
TAKE ME TONIGHT (spicy Italian boy who can cook and does amazing things with a canoli)
FIRST YOU RUN (Aussie hero on the hunt for a woman hiding secrets)
THEN YOU HIDE (slow southern boy meets feisty New Yorker girl in deep Caribbean trouble)
NOW YOU DIE (Bullet Catcher boss has to team up with the one person who makes her lose what she values most ~ control)

There are also two novellas, and, I’m delighted to say, at least two more Bullet Catcher books coming in the summer of 2009.

Jeanne: Wow! That's fabulous! Oh, man, even more Bullet Catchers! Sigh... But you also write for Harlequin - and several of their lines at that! I know that your first Single Title, Tropical Getaway and your first category, Like a Hurricane, came out one right after the other. How did you manage that? Was the experience bliss or terror? Grins.

Rocki: It wasn’t terror then because when I sold my first book, as is the case for most writers, it was complete. And I had another completed manuscript, also, which Pocket decided to release as my third book, KILLER CURVES (my first foray into the world of NASCAR). And, since those books were coming out two years apart (with FRENCH TWIST in the middle), I had a lot of time to write. So, I broke into category! I have to say that writing category books (specifically the Desire line) is F-U-N for me, because there are no dead bodies, no conniving villains, no heroines in jeopardy, but there is tons of sex and emotion and banter and romance. I’m not writing any now, as I focus on the Bullet Catchers, but I would love to do more at some point.

Jeanne: I know you've said that you love writing romance, and especially romantic suspense. You certainly put that love into your work, you've won everything from a Rita to the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence to Daphnes and Maggies and more. We've debated over and over, here in the Bandit Lair, if contests, both for unpublished and published, are worth the entry fee. What are your thoughts?

Rocki: I’m really honored that my books have done so well in contests. Before selling, I was a contest slut (Oh, who are we kidding? I was truly a contest whore.) and entered many unpublished contests. At first, all this did was validate my *suspicion* that maybe, just maybe, I could write a book. I really needed that, and that’s why I strongly recommend contests for new, unpublished writers. The feedback (even the tough stuff) can be invaluable, and the process forces you to hone your craft. When my manuscripts started to final in contests, that boost of confidence was just the magic elixir I needed as I was slammed with rejection after rejection.

As a published author, I entered contests to build my bio and reach more readers and booksellers who are the judges. Now, I only enter a few, because with an average of four books a year, it can be costly in terms of time and money.

But here’s why a published writer should enter contests: you can’t really put fabulous “reviews” in your bio, but when the first few lines are “winner of the RITA, the HOLT Medallion, the Daphne, the Maggie, Bookseller’s Best, Book Buyers, Best, Award of Excellence, etc.” – you have instant credibility with readers and workshop attendees. So, I don’t enter them all anymore, but I’m delighted to have won for almost all of my books, including the Reader’s Choice, which I just received in July for one of my Bullet Catcher books, TAKE ME TONIGHT! And, let’s just be honest here, there is nothing as sweet as a RITA. That night is simply magical. After I won, I wished that everyone in RWA could experience that night just once, because floating around with that golden girl is a little bit of heaven on earth.

Jeanne: I admire anyone who can write both single title and category. Several of our Banditas write fabulous categories for Harlequin, but I find it quite difficult to "write short" and tell a compelling, complete story within the word count. I really appreciate the mental flexibility you have as a writer to do both. Can you tell us a little bit about that?

Rocki: I definitely think long and hard about the story premise before I start, and I believe that helps me craft a book that fits the page count limitations. In shorter books, I don’t have room for the complexity I have in longer books. Therefore, I outline a “simpler” story – a conflict that can be resolved without multiple steps, usually a very strong “external” conflict because that works really well as the spikes to “hang” all the internal conflict (assuring that you don’t have an “introspection heavy” book.) I’ve written three novellas, and, wow, those can be challenging to a writer who likes to write “big” stories, as I do. Two were Bullet Catcher novellas, and that was really tough to weave a suspense plot (with plenty of sexual tension, a scary climax and believable resolution) in 25,000 – 30,000 words. The trick, I think, is to start with a premise you can keep uncomplicated – and make sure the pace is lightning quick. Limit introspection, description, and backstory as much as possible, and stay focused on tight, clean storytelling.

Jeanne: Finally, do you have an inspiration for your heroes before you start a book? Do you use a movie star, an imaginary character (Captain Jack Sparrow, anyone?), or real life heroes you've met to build The Bullet Catcher heroes?

Rocki: Oh YES! I absolutely cannot start a book without two things: a picture of my hero, and a title that I love. My hero goes on my screen saver, and he is my MUSE. Without him, I will battle the book, and have been known to spend hours combing the internet to find just the Right Guy. (This is hard work, I tell ya!)

Oh, you’d like to see some? All right…

Here’s Jack Culver (to the left)…the hero who has the honor of snagging Juicy Miss Lucy in NOW YOU DIE (did I mention that book is out this week?)

And here’s Dan Gallagher… the hero who didn’t get Lucy but, fear not. I’m writing his book right now and he’s getting…plenty. I was so happy when I found this one, because the look totally captures my Dan.

You want MORE? Greedy, greedy girls. Okay, two of my favorite Bullet Catchers:

(Left) Johnny Christiano from TAKE ME TONIGHT.

(right) Adrien Fletcher from FIRST YOU RUN:

How can I thank these men for the inspiration??? I couldn’t have written a word without them.

Jeanne: Oh, my. Mymymymymy. I'd write too, with that for inspiration..... Okay, focus, Jeanne. Back to the matter at hand....Last but not least, you've been in marketing, public relations, television and now, writing full time. What's the best part of The Writer's Life, from your perspective? No pantyhose? What's the worst? Revisions? Do you still, like most of us, doubt your work from time to time?

Rocki: The best part is the writing, and the worst part is the writing. When it *works” – you know, that day that your fingers fly and the story spins like magic on a wheel, when you close a doc and push away from the desk with bone-deep satisfaction that you nailed it….priceless. The rest of the time, it’s like chiseling marble, tapping and digging and hammering into it for the characters, story, and emotion you know is hiding underneath. Writing is very hard work, but when it sings, it is the greatest high a creative person can enjoy. When it doesn’t, I lose sleep, tear out some hair at the roots, and drink large glasses of Kendall Jackson.

Doubt? Puh-lease! I doubt every book, every scene, every sentence, every word. The only difference is now I know what “doubt” sounds like – it’s a totally different nag than the screaming gut hollering “Something Is Wrong. Emergency! Emergency! You Are Screwing Up the Story!” When I hear that, I react. When I hear inner doubts, I try to let them do no more than keep me on my toes, always striving to write a better story than the last.

Jeanne: Oh, yeah, I listen to that one too. Like you I try not to listen to the other one. Bandita Nancy and I were talking about the line from Dune "Fear is the Mind Killer..." Okay, back to the Bullet Boys - YUM - and our fabulous fans. We usually get our guests to ask a question of our Banditas, and Bandit Buddies...get them to quit drooling over the pretty pictures and actually chat...So, do you have a question for the Lair?

Rocki: Oh, yes, I do have a question!! It’s about series – do you love them, hate them, insist on reading them in order, or are you indifferent to the series concept? What turns you on most about a series – what do you dislike? More recurring characters for you, or less? I’ll give one poster THREE BULLET CATCHER BOOKS (winner’s choice – get the first three, or, if you have them, the three books in the 2008 Bullet Catcher trilogy), signed and ready to read. Post away!!


Christie Kelley said...

Did I get him?

Christie Kelley said...

Woohoo...the GR wanted to see the almost finished house. I'll take good care of him today and hopefully he won't scare the new kitten.

Christie Kelley said...

Now that all the fun business of our Golden Rooster is out of the way, I can say a big hello and welcome to Roxanne.

Your bullet catcher series sounds fantastic. Now I have more books to go out and buy!

I love to hear that experienced writers still doubt every word they write.

As far as your questions, I love series and I have to read them in order. There's nothing worse than starting a book only to discover it's the second or third book in a series. I have to stop reading and go get the other books and finish them first.

The only thing I dislike is when series go on too long. After 4-5 books, I personally have had enough.

CrystalGB said...

Hi Rocki. Good to see you here. I love your books. I am a big fan of series. I do like to read them in order.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Hi Everyone! I know Rocki will join us shortly, she's resending me the hunk pictures! Somehow blogger (whispers)...ate them. Scary! Then again, they are pretty scrumptious. Just wait till you see! :)

rebekah said...

I love series and have to read them inorder. The only down fall is when they go on to long. There is one series I read that right now has 16 books in it. Which I wouldn't mind but it the series itself is going down hill. Almost like she is running out of good ideas and needs to end it. But everytime a new book in this series comes out I have to buy it and read. No matter if I'm getting tired of a series I have to have and read them all.

Rebekah E.

Buffie said...

Hey Rocki!!! Great to see you again!!

I absolutely love a series! I like being able to see secondary characters get their HEA. And it is always great to revisit characters from a previous book.

Susan Seyfarth said...

Welcome to the lair, Rocki! So glad to have you with us today! And thanks, Jeanne, for dragging her in!

Personally speaking, I LOVE series. I nearly cried when Mary Balogh finally wrote Wulf's book in the Bedwyn series. I'd fallen a little more in love with him in each book that featured him as a secondary character, & when he finally got his own story, I was so happy.

You've got to be careful, though. If you're going to let us love a character like that, & build it up & build it up, his story had been be spectacular when it arrives! (Thank you, Mary Balogh, for understanding that & delivering!)

The Bullet Catchers sound great! Can't wait to add them to my already precariously tall TBR stack!

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Mornin' Crystalb, Buffie and Rebekah! I agree with each of you - love the series, love to revisit the characters, but really dislike it when it goes on "past its time"

16 books in the series, Rebekah? Urg. I'm not sure I could go for that. I like a few - trilogies and so forth - but 16?!?! Wow.

Susan Seyfarth said...

p.s. Nice work on the GR, Christie. Best of luck. :-)

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Hi Susan! Mary writes great stuff, doesn't she? I'm just starting on her work, but already...yum.

Joan said...

Ok, ok....where are the pictures {tapping foot}?

I'm all primed after seeing a pic of my hero Damon (ok, in this world he's known as Hugh Jackman) from the upcoming movie "Australia".

I know Jeanne will take care of it. She is my idol.

Anyway, welcome, welcome to the Lair Rocki! I've read THRILL ME TO DEATH and it rocks!

I love trilogies, series or connected stories. Don't HAVE to read them in order, but it adds just that much more enjoyment to the whole experience of the world if I do.

My three Roman guys came as a package. I could not have just written one. They would not have stood for it. And believe me, you don't argue with an's not healthy.

NOW, I have another group of Romans knocking at my creative door. I cracked it open and peeked and wow....lots of stories there.

And contests. We've talked and talked about contests and I think they serve a different purpose depending on where you are with your writing...valuable feedback vs opportunity to get in front of a favored agent/editor.

They do provide you with vallidation and some name recognition even as an unpubbed. My "boys" have met a lot of the "girls"...Molly, Suzannah, Laurie, Maggie, LOL.

I have a question for you. What are your favorite type of covers? Symbolic? Shadowed faces? Close ups of the hero and/or heroine?

PJ said...

Congrats on nabbing the GR, Christie and welcome to the new little kitten!

Donna MacMeans said...

Here I was drooling for the piccies. Nothing like a little inspiration first thing in the morning. I'll check back later.

Congrats on the GR, Christie. Watch out for rooster tracks across your freshly varnished floor.

Rocanne - Sorry to say, I haven't read the series, but those titles are to die for. I can see how they would inspire you through the writing.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Hi Joanie T! The hot hunks are UP now...wait. That sounds suggestive. Hmmmm. Freudian? I think so. Hehehehehe.

JT, I'd love to see the inspiration for Bran...purrrrr.

Hey PJ! Great to see you today.

Christie, I don't think I said Congrats on the Rooster boy. He'd be jealous of the inspiration boys...who are now visible on the blog. Grins.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

I was probably hitting Post whn you looked, Donna. Go back now...oh yeah...

PJ said...

Great interview! Morning, Rocki! You, my friend, are the reason I just dragged my sorry self out of bed at 10:24am. I bought NOW YOU DIE last night and stayed up waaaay too late! I'm only about 1/3 of the way into it (fell asleep with glasses on, book open and dog drooling on my feet) but I am loving it!

I love series. Love, love, love them. I like revisiting characters from previous books and catching up with what's going on in their lives. I love the interaction between all the characters and the build-up of anticipation for future heroes. I'm a stickler about reading the book in a series in order. I won't start in the middle. I'll buy the middle book but then I'll go search out the previous books before I start reading.

You already know how much I adore the Bullet Catchers. I hardly ever shut about them. :) This is a rockin' series with incredible heroes and I, for one, hope it *never* ends!

Joan said...

Oh, yeah indeed....


GREAT inspiration, Rocki!

Well Bran is sitting here looking at me..well, figuratively speaking (darnit).

A hawt, black hair lad from a Nautica Voyage advertisement.

Sigh. I love me some inspiration.

jo robertson said...

Hi, Rocki, a big hearty welcome to the Lair! Wonderful interview.

I attended a plotting workshop you gave at National one year. Best workshop I ever went to and good, sound advice I could apply to my first book.

I'm amazed at how prolific a writer you are. Can you tell us something about your writing schedule?

jo robertson said...

Hey, Christie, I wanna see the finished house too! Congrats on getting the chook.

jo robertson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Aren't they yummy, Joanie!? And You have to tell me what mag and what page so I can see Bran. :>

PJ, how late were you up? I've been known to stay up till about 3 w/ one of Rocki's books. She just hooks you in. Ha!

I've got the latest two sitting here tempting me, I'm waiting for Then you Die before I start. I understand I can get it today, Rocki? Is that right?

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Jo, I've been to Rocki's plot braiding workshop, is that what you went to? Fabulous info, BTW, if you're tying multiple elements together.

PJ said...

Ohmygawdohmygawdohmygawd. OH. MY. GAWD! All I can say is that it's a damn good thing I didn't see the photo of Adrien before I wrote my review of FIRST YOU RUN. I wouldn't have been able to get a single coherent thought down on paper! LOL!

Okay, Jack is not exactly as I pictured him but hey, I'm flexible. :)

Dan, Johnny and Adrien are exactly as I pictured them in my mind, except Adrien was more of a towhead. Gotta say, I like him better in the photo. Mighty, mighty fine lookin' inspiration there, Rocki. I'm thinking I may have to go re-read a few BC stories. (grin)

jo robertson said...

I agree with what Rebekah and others have said. I think a good series is like a good TV sitcom. Go out before the writing sharpness dies down. Seinfeld and Everybody Loves Raymond did that with grace, but others have jumped the shark.

That said, I do love a well-crafted series. Rocki does her BC series wonderfully!

I've started a book only to find that it was part of a series and I had to stop and go back to read all the others from the beginning. What, anal, you say? 'Tisn't so!

Rocki, I love the idea of using your hero's image as your screensaver. What a great idea and so, uh . . . rousing. Hey, it's rousing the inspiration! Jeanne, quit snorking!

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Sorry Jo. You heard that? I was trying to be discreet with the snorking, kinda got away from me. SNORK! Nothing like a good rousing...inspiration!

Joan said...

Alas, Jeanne it was from a People magazine last year....

But if Natutica has one lick of sense, they kept in on for adds THIS year.

In this one, he's scruffy (I have a thing for scruff :-), his black hair tousled around his head as he stands at the wheel of a sailing vessel. (I think in small print he's asking for directions to the Ohio find Joanie T)


PJ said...

Jeanne, I don't know the exact time, just that it was after 2am.
If you plan on reading all three of the current trilogy in succession be sure to block out a whole weekend because once you start these books they will not let you go!

NOW YOU DIE came out Tuesday. I picked up my copy at Wal-Mart.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Ah, well, I got to admit Joanie, if he was sailing on the Ohio River he's probably pretty brave. SNORK!

PJ, I got the other two from Amazon, but I'll have to just make a trip to B&N or WalMart for Then you Die. Just. Have. To.

Good thing its a three day weekend. ha!

jo robertson said...

Okay, I just took a look at the hunk piccies. Oh. My. Good choices, Rocki.

Yes, Jeanne, your snorks resound from coast to coast. They are very invigorating here on the west coast.

Another question for Roxanne: What's next after this trilogy?

Roxanne St. Claire said...

Good morning everyone and SORRY for the delay in posting those pictures. I had embedded them into the doc and sent to Jeanne, but she needed jpegs. All is well with the world now. Enjoy my Bullet Catcher boys!

Great thoughts on series books, all. I do think a series can go on too long. With the two books coming out next year, the BCs will be up to 8 books (plus two novellas) and I'm sure that will be when my editor and I have a long talk about where to go from there - more Bullet Catchers or something new. Right now, I'm totally into them, and the stories still feel fresh. Even though they are all "bodyguards" - the are not ALL "he protects her" kind of books. Especially NOW YOU DIE!

Let's see, some notes. Congrats to Christie on the GR, and hello to PJ, my dear friend and fan. Great to see so many familiar names here! Thank you, again, to Jeanne for the invitation to join the fun.

I'm going to jot down the ?s you asked and answer them in my next post (immediately, I promise).

Roxanne St. Claire said...

Joan asked about my favorite types of covers. Good questions! My publisher had the cover conference for my 2009 Bullet Catcher books this week, and they always ask for my input. (Do they use it? Sometimes!) I want HAWT GUY COVERS. The last three have been very big book, very atmospheric, and classy. They tied together beautifully, but I think they look very suspense-y, as opposed to romance. My books really straddle "romantic suspense" - as much emotion as danger.

I guess I just like a cover (and title) that draws me in and really captures the overall sense of the book. I also like sexier covers, as long as they're not too cheesy!


Roxanne St. Claire said...

Jo, my writing schedule is...constant. I write every single day (often on the weekends, too) for at least five or six hours, sometimes more. I have always been this way, even before I was published - writing every minute that my kids are in school. I will spend the morning doing "other stuff" (email, blogs, marketing, writing back to readers, obsessively checking my amazon numbers!) and then write all afternoon and sometimes in the evening. (My kids are teen and pre-teen, so I have a little more freedom now than when they were babies. Also, my husband is retired and he - get ready to hate me - does all the cooking! Yeah!)

My goal is to write one great scene a day. If I can do that, I'm happy. Sometimes that takes two hours, when my muse is kind. Sometimes it takes ten hours, and then I have to rewrite it the next day. Don't like those days!

This month, anything can happen. I'm on deadline, and there are three hurricanes off the coast of Florida. Grrrr.


Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Rocki, just have 'em get your inspiration pictures. No question about what will go on the cover...or under cover...or...

Sorry. Drooling over here. :>

Roxanne St. Claire said...

Jo also asked about what's next. I have two Bullet Catcher books scheduled for 2009, probably one in the summer, one in the fall. They are tentatively titled WHEN HE LIES and WHEN HE STEALS, and the first one features fan favorite Dan Gallagher. I'm writing that now.


Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Rocki, I was worried that you'd be ducking and covering - to borrow a BC image - from the him-i-canes and her-i-canes headed your way.

We've got the last remnants of Fay here in DC today. I guess Gustav's headed for N.O. and Hanna...well, our own PoshT and Nancy in NC should probably be getting ready to duck Hanna! Yikes!

Reminds me of your first category. Ha!

Minna said...

I love series as long as I'm able to get all the books.

Kestrel said...

Hey everyone, congrats on the GR, Christie!

Roxanne, I have not read any of your books, sadly, my TBR pile seems to grow and grow and grow and I just never have time to tackle it! However, your concepts sound wonderful, so I will have to take a peek!

As far as series go, if it's going to go on longer than a trilogy, it has to be really fantastic. There is nothing worse than having a great start to a series, and great secondary characters that people love and want them to be happy in later books, who don't get what they deserve later on. I am glad you like to keep each story (aside from the trilogy) as a stand alone, so you can still feel satisfied as a reader if you don't get to read all of them RIGHT NOW! :)

I was tickled to see that you also use pictures as inspiration, I do too! Being able to SEE what you are trying to describe or an image that inspires you is a great help in the creative process. I go hunting for pictures of all of my major characters. Not to mention you have great taste too! :)
Now I really have to read the books to see if my mental picture coincides with yours!

Kestrel said...

Oh yes, I meant to include that I prefer to read series in order, even if that means I have to wait to find the proper book that comes next. I get confused easily, lol, so if there is a story thread I should be following, I don't want to miss something important or wonder what the private joke is somewhere.

Virginia said...

I love a good series. In a series it let you know what happens to most of the characters. Sometimes just reading one book leaves you wanting more.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Hi Kestrel! Hi Virginia!

Kestrel, I agree about a series better be pretty darn strong if there's more than a trilogy. :> Rocki's books are addicting, however, I have to tell you. They do stand alone, and yet you have the "familiar faces" too. It's great!

Cheri2628 said...

I love reading a good series. It is fun to revisit old characters and see secondary characters get their own story. This trilogy that you have right now sounds exciting and sexy. I love the idea of bullet willing to take a bullet for you! Be still my heart! ;-)


Terry Odell said...

Waving at Rocki --
In addition to writing fantastic books, she's a great lady. From our first meeting, she's been super supportive and is always there offering encouragment. If you want to learn something about handling narrative, read any of her books. There's never an inkling of author intrusion, and every word on the page fits the character.

flchen1 said...

Hi, Rocki! Congrats on the Bullet Catchers--I haven't read them yet, but they sound terrific! As for books in a series, I tend to love them, as long as they are good stories with good characters to begin with. If so, I love them--I really like revisiting characters and places and getting little updates on characters I'd "met" before (so, yep, recurring characters are good, in my mind), so I don't mind even a longer series, as long as each book's plot still feels fairly fresh and interesting. If they start feeling recycled, AACK! And it's a tricky balance between focusing on the main characters and introducing/catching up with secondary characters in the plot balance :)

I definitely prefer reading them in order, and will sometimes try to hold off until a series is finished before starting because I so do hate waiting for the next book to be released! (That does sound a little neurotic, doesn't it?)

Congrats on the GR, Christie!

Kestrel said...

It would be ideal for a series to be finished before starting it, but whew, that's alot of reading at one time!

On the other hand, sometimes it takes a bit of buzz to get me even interested in branching out into new series, and then I'm suckered and am drooling for the next one!

Let's take Harry Potter (yes I mentioned HP), I made so much fun of my sister and best friend for reading these 'kids' books, until I just went ahead and picked up the first one just to see what the fuss was. This was just before book 5 came out, so when I got hooked, it wasn't too long before I had movies and the other books to keep me going. I can only imagine what long term series fans experience!

How far do you see this series going, Roxanne? You've already got a hefty line-up! (I'd like to see your bullet catchers in a line-up...)

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Hi Cheri, Fedora and Kestrel! Oooh, Kestrel, a line up...I loike it, I loike it...does that mean we get to frisk them too??? Mwah-ha-ha!

Beth said...

Welcome to the lair, Roxanne! I'm behind on my Bullet Catchers reading (okay, I'm behind on all of my reading) but I love the series and will strive to catch up soon *g*

I adore series but I don't have to read them in order. Probably because I'm one of those people who likes to know what's going to happen :-)

Can you share with us what system you use to keep track of everything and everyone in your series?

Maureen said...

I do enjoy series and like them most when I start with the first book. It's a pleasure to see characters you've enjoed reading about come back and I feel like I know their character.

Anna Campbell said...

Christie, congratulations on the chook! It's a while since he's been to visit you, isn't it?

Rocki, fantastic to have you here! We're all excited in the lair. And wow, that's some CV you're sporting, my friend! Seriously smoking! The books sound absolutely fantastic. Congratulations on all your success.

robynl said...

I love series books; there are more characters that one can become friends with and also, you get to here about the friends you made in the other books before.

I don't mind reading out of order if I can't get one or more of the other books but prefer in order.

I don't like series if one has to wait for one or more of the books to come out before you can finish the series. I hate waiting.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Hi Beth! Hi Maureen and Anna and Robyn! Great to see you today. More series lovers, Rocki. Grins. It is fun to have the "old friends" aspect, isn't it.

I'm looking forward to hearing about how you keep it all straight, as well.

Roxanne St. Claire said...

Can it be Friday afternoon already? I haven't reached my page count today - but I'm loving reading all these comments about series. Hey, Terry, thanks for the kind words! And Kestrel, I have no idea how far the series can go - it's open-ended. I always thought I'd end the series with Lucy Sharpe's story, but that is not going to be the case.

Someone asked me about a "series arc" and I have to say that there really isn't a "beginning-middle-end" to the Bullet Catchers, but it's more like episodic television. Some recurring characters, a world that's built around them, but a wholly different story premise each time that is resolved by the end of the book. Even with the trilogy, the books stand alone, however there is a trilogy story arc that spans those three books.

Very challenging and fun to write, I can tell you.

Beth asked about my system. I keep pretty comprehensive research notes for each book, and when I introduce a character or setting that will be "back" I try to keep it in a "Bullet Catcher" file. I'll make notes on timelines, people's backgrounds, certain characteristics - usually when a book is finished.

I' a visual writer, and can see the movie in my head. I worked in television and learned a lot about set design and what it "shows" to the viewer. For example, I know exactly what "the set" of Lucy's library/office looks like, what furniture is in it, where she sits, what art is on the walls. More important - I know *why* it's there. That's not something I may ever reveal to the reader, but it helps me understand her character. I do hope readers can see it as clearly, too.

About series: sometimes I wonder, with the huge popularity of series, is there any room for that *stand alone* book in the market? My first three romantic suspense novels were purely stand alone, and I remember being very happy to say goodbye to those people and that world, and move on to a fresh one. I hope the joy of the "one off" book isn't gone!

What do you think?

Cassondra said...

Late to the party but OOOOOOOH YEAH. THOSE are some inspiring uhm...inspirations.

Veeeeery nice. Pant pant drool....

Oh...uh...ahem...Rocki, thanks so much for joining us. ;0) And HUGE congratulations on all of your success and awards. Way to kick the old Demon of Self Doubt down the stairs and out the door!

I do love series, but I prefer them as you do them--so that each can stand alone without my feeling as though I've missed something. If I happen upon an author mid-series and fall in love with the work, I want to be able to go in search of the earlier books and pound the bookseller's desk for the next ones, but I admit that if there's a required reading order, I'm less likely to go there. The book may get put down until I "get time to read correctly" and that time may never happen. I LOVE to read in order of course, but sometimes my life just doesn't work that way. Nowadays getting to read is a guilty pleasure and the fewer restrictions necessary to have it be enjoyable, the better. Continuity issues drive me batsh*t, and that's often one of the issues if you haven't read in 'correct order'. I appreciate that your books don't require that. (Okay that ramble probably made no sense.)

I wanted to say though, that I truly appreciate your comment about knowing the difference between the "normal doubt thoughts" and the "SOMETHING IS WRONG YOU'RE SCREWING UP THE STORY" kind of thoughts.

As an unpubbed writer, I often wonder if I'm letting the former wreck the book. Finding the place of trust in your own muse is not easy for me. So if you have anything further to say about this distinction, I'm all ears!

Jeanne, fabulous interview, and congrats Christie on the GR!

Jane said...

Wtg, Christie.

Hi Rocki,
I love series and I admit that I don't always read the books in order. The more recurring characters the better. I like reading about what the current and past characters have been doing since the previous book. I look forward to reading Lucy's story.

Helen said...

Congrats Christie have fun with him

Great interview loved the inspiration photos took me a while to finish reading after I got to those photos.

I love books in a series probably because when I read a book I get right into it and feel part of the story so the hero, heroine and the characters become real to me so I like to know what is going on with them after the last page and love it when the next book is released in the series so as I can catch up with them.

Yes I must read them in order I have read series book out of order before only because I have picked up a book read it and then relised it is part of a series and then I get the rest of the books.

Whenever I pick up a book in the shops now I visit the authors web page first now to make sure it isn't part of a series if it is I wait till I have them all to read it.

Roxanee these books sound wonderful and I will be out looking for them.

Have Fun

Anna Campbell said...

Rocki, the question about stand alone books is one that I ask myself too. Especially as my ideas are definitely stand alones rather than series - or at least they have been so far. I like series but I also like a story that wraps up at the end of 400 pages and doesn't insist that I go out and buy the next ten books (although personally I hope that people WILL even if they're not linked, LOL!).

catslady said...

From one Jeanne to anothere, great interview. I have to read them in order so if I can get all of them at once I'm a very happy camper. Trilogies are my favorite. More than that you may have to wait too long or take a chance on not getting all the books. I have to add I loved French Twist :)

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Hi Jeanne! (from the other, non-catslady Jeanne) :>

I loved French Twist too. I was so glad to see an alternative setting and some European action. Heehee. But I've enjoyed ALL of Rocki's books. Not that they could've been set in Poukeepsie, but you know, they probably could have been and she would have made it exciting! :>

Cassondra said...

Catslady that's the thing isn't it?

If it's a ton of books, something might happen. You might not get to it until some of the books are already out of print, or you might get interrupted by life and get out of sequence and miss long as the book is still good I don't mind. But if I lose track of stuff because of that, it bothers me. Trilogies are perfect in that way.

And I also like secondary characters that show up in later books, but I don't like them to take over the later books.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Cassondra, that's one of the things I like about books like Rocki's. You can read them and feel like the characters are familiar and interesting, but you don't feel like you HAVE to go read anything before hand. :> Like you, I've got the life happens thing going and my TBR pile is ready to tip over as it is. If I have to "wait" to figure out which book comes first...well, I might not read it.

jo robertson said...

That's true, Jeanne; some authors are better at making the individual books stand-alones. I imagine it takes quite an effort and sense of control over the plotting and characters.

Rocki, you do find yourself struggling to avoid repetitions in your efforts (which you do very well, BTW) to make your BC books able to work as stand alones?

And even though the trend is toward series, which I do enjoy very much, I hope the purely stand alone books are not a thing of the past. As a writer, sometimes I just don't want to visit a particular world I've created!

And as a reader, there's something awfully satisfying about that once-in-a-lifetime story.

Okay, that probably made no sense. I need a nap!

Shari C said...

Welcome, Roxanne. Enjoyed your post today.
I like series as I want to hear about people from earlier books that I got to know and find out more about them. Also many times the earlier books have secondary characters that you would love to read more about and also have them find their 'happy ever after'. I prefer to read a series in order if I can, but will read them out of sequence if I enjoy a book and want to read earlier stories I missed.

Joan said...

See, I think series, stand alones, trilogies etc. are so individualistic. It depends solely on the story and how the author tells it.

Take Donna's "The Trouble with Moonlight". I really, really want to know Portia's story. And the youngest sister much potential! Maybe someday I'll get to.

I also love getting the connected books quick as in one every month for 3 months. Hard works for the author I'm sure, but man, it's torture waiting 3 mo. 6mo. or a year!

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

I agree with you, Joan. I like them all. Sometimes an author will go years between series with several stand alone books in between. Sometimes, it's all two-book and three-book series. Depends on the story, but I like 'em all.

Dina said...

If I get to read them in order that's great and I'm happy, but if there are alot in a series and I come in the middle or towards the end, it's hard for me to bo back, so I'll just start there.

Ann M. said...

Welcomes Rocki. I love your Bulletcatchers.

Suzanne Welsh said...

Welcome to the Lair, Roxanne!

Hey Christie!! Congrats on the GR!!

So, series books.....LOVE THEM! Especially when the hero from the next book appears in the previous one; however, I don't read anything in order. Usually, I stumble onto a writer somewhere after book two, so I have to go back and read the whole backlist of the series.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Hey Jo! Did you get a nap? I thought the comment made perfect sense. :>

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Hi Suz! I usually do this too..the stumbling on an author thing. :> Our guests here in the Lair are usually the cause! Ha! Its nice to discover they have a backlist that you can devour, isn't it?

Joan said...

Its nice to discover they have a backlist that you can devour, isn't it?

It is, Jeanne unless you can't FIND the backlist....

Gena Showalter...The Stone Prince...The Pleasure Slave....

jo robertson said...

Hehehehe, of course I napped. I'm not a young chick like you and Rocki. Plus doing the treadmill in 100-degree weather is so not smart.

The Lair really is a great place for readers to pick up names of debut authors and young-old favorites like Roxanne.

If you haven't tried her BC books, I promise you won't be disappointed.

And honestly, I'm still amazed at how fast you write, Rocki. Hats off to you! Uh, can I steal some of your energy?

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Ya' know, Joanie, I'll bet that IS irritating to not be able to find the backlist. I went looking for Patricia Briggs's backlist and couldn't find it, but was able to order it. Still...yeah, that's irritating! :>

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

JoMama, are you crazy? On the treadmill on a day like today? Just breathing in and out in that kind of heat is workout enough! Ha!

Virginia said...

I like the series to be a triolgy. To me three books usually tells the story. I also don't like the books to be spaced out to far in between each book. I had a series that it took two years to get the last book. I hated that. I am not sure what happened for it to take so long on the last book. I am sure it was out of the authors control.

By the way Roxanne I do love your books, so keep up the good work.

Louisa Cornell said...

Way to go, Christie! Give him the grand tour! Maybe we could get some photos with a "bird's eye" view of the new house?

Hello, Roxie!!

Stay safe from the hurricanes please. My buddy, Tammy Lynn of the Book Basket is a BIG fan! I've read some of your books and I really LOVE them. Your heroes are just irresistible. And with photo inspiration like that I can see why!!

I love series / trilogies. Any time I read a book in a series I feel like I am visiting with old friends. There is something comforting and FUN about that.

As you are writing the unfolding of the crime, how hard is it to know which clues to include for the reader and which ones to leave out?

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Hi Louisa, Hi Virginia! I love trilogies too. Something about the rythym of three books works really well, don't you think?

Glad you stopped by and yes, aren't those "inspiration pieces" lovely? Hmmmmm yep. I'm inspired.

Pat Cochran said...

I'm another reader who loves a series but I have to read them in order. I even have to have them
all in hand to read them back to back, 'cause once I start reading
I usually don't want to stop!

Thanks for stopping by for a visit, but I have to get back to my list-
making. I need to get out tomorrow
to prepare for company. Seems this
fellow named Gustave wants to come to call, but hasn't made up his
mind where he will be dropping in.
Houston is still on the list of

Pat Cochran

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

hey Pat, be safe, okay? We'll be watching the storm and will be thinking about you here in the Lair. Keep us posted on how you're doing, all right?

Pat Cochran said...

Thanks, Jeanne,

I will keep in touch with you all
over the next few days! Please keep
all the Gulf Coast in your thoughts,
these type storms are not one bit of fun for the folks who end up being
the victims!!

Pat Cochran

kim h said...

any kind is ok with me, i will read anything, bu t i prefer to read them in order. have agreat weekend, congrats on the books roxi

Roxanne St. Claire said...

Sorry I disappeared yesterday afternoon - I have a good excuse. I picked my daughter up from dance and she had been DROPPED ON HER HEAD in a flip. (She's 11 and a competitive jazz/modern dancer.) The fall left an egg-sized lump on her forehead, and her thumb was purple, and swelling fast. I zoomed to the walk-in clinic (hoping to avoid the ER) and they did an Xray - nothing broken but torn ligs - but the doc was super concerned about her head and ordered a CT Scan on her head, using the words "possible skull fracture" (Mom's worst nightmare, huh?) and that took hours. SHE'S FINE, but it shook her up and I ended up glued to her all night, doing the nurturing thing instead of the blog commenting thing.

So, I hope I can still answer some of these questions and comments! Jo asked about struggling not to be repetitive. YES, YES, YES. I think this is one of the greatest challenges of series, and, honestly, writing in the same subgenre. I write romantic suspense - there are only SO many creative ways the villain can try to kill and so many dramatic rescues. It's those plot elements that cause me to worry about repitition, not the characters or story premise. I sit here and think, "wait, I did a helicopter rescue in this book, and I had the heroine hanging off a cliff in that book, and I've had the boat chase in such and such...." I have to force my brain to work harder and be more imaginative, but still true to the characters and story.

I'm going to post this, and look for the doubt question - another subject I love!

Roxanne St. Claire said...

Cassondra asked about doubts, and knowing the difference between normal, garden-variety "gee is this the right way to lay out this scene" doubts and showstoppers that send you back to Page One for a Do Over. Learning that difference is probably the one thing that does get easier in this business. You have to listen to your storytelling gut, but not constantly second guess every decision.

Critique partners can help enormously, especially before you have an editor guiding you, but I don't think you should trust critque partners on the big storytelling issues - because this is your story, coming from your head/heart. I DO think you should trust critique partners on the craft-issues, the "little" elements of the story. But biggies come from your gut.

I have learned that when something really bothers me in a book, it will result in my staring at the page or writing the same scene ten times. That means I've veered in the wrong direction, and I have to go back scene by scene and figure out where I made the decision to have something happen or reveal something that isn't right. But when I just "don't love that scene" - it's usually not a huge storytelling problem, but something as simple as the wrong POV or setting or hook at the end.

I hope that helps, Cassondra!

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Wow, Rocki! So sorry to hear about your daughter's accident, but good to know she's okay.

Have to confess I'm also glad to know other people worry and obsess about not repeating a villain's M.O. or a chase scene. I keep a list.

Thanks for being with us, Rocki and best of luck with those intriguing...inspiring...yeah, that's it, inspiring, Bullet Catchers!

jo robertson said...

Rocki, how kind of you to come back and answer the last questions for us. So sorry about the trauma. I know how scary a head injury can be. My daughter hit her head around that age (jumping on a pogo stick -- bad, bad mommy -- but when you have 7 kids -- well stuff happens).

Glad she's better and thanks for coming back to answer Cassondra's and my question. Great advice!

Anna Sugden said...

So glad your daughter is okay, Rocki! Heads are tricky things.

Sorry I couldn't pop in on the day to say how much I love your Bullet Catchers and to thank you once again for sharing so much advice - but migraines have laid me low.