Thursday, August 1, 2013

Earthquakes And Lightning

Congratulations to "Jonetta", the winner of Virginia's giveaway. Thank you to all who participated!

When I started writing my contemporary romantic novella, DANCING IN THE DARK, I wasn't sure where I was going with it. I never do. I'm what you call a pantser. I write by the seat of my pants—just sit down and begin. I had a hero, home for some R&R, exhausted. But I write romance, generally romantic suspense (although this story is not RS), so having him home to fish, drink some beer and hang out with the guys wasn't going to give him his happily ever after. I needed a heroine and a complication.

I took a break, turned on the radio to do some housecleaning, and CCR belted out “Bad Moon on the Rise.” Suddenly, I had both.

My super tough hero, Matt Kincaid, wakes up, still exhausted from his dangerous high-pressure job, and discovers that his little vacation isn’t going to be what he’d hoped. There was a storm, the power’s out, his small town’s flooded, and the fictional bridges are closed. Poor Matt, he’s stranded, he needs coffee—he doesn’t need any more complications. Here’s an excerpt from just after the opening that will introduce you to what Matt’s about to go through:

No coffee. No power. Floods.

What the hell else could happen? Earthquakes and lightning?

A flash lit up the living room, followed by a boom of thunder so close the house shook.

Yeah, lightning.

And he knew better than to tempt fate.

He looked at his watch, again. Judging from the time in Abbottabad, it had to be nine-thirty a.m. here. 

He could use another couple of hours of sleep. Maybe then he could straighten out his sleep patterns and enjoy the next few weeks off. He'd promised his mother he'd take care of some problems on her always-in-need-of-repair one-story. And he'd promised himself some fishing. 
He rolled his head and shoulders to loosen the kinks of sleeping on the too short couch, and made his way down the hall to the bedroom he used when he visited, pulling off his shirt as he went.

Thunder boomed, rattling the windows. The spare room door opened and a person stepped into the hallway.

In one quick movement, he lunged forward and executed a chokehold that efficiently subdued the intruder. "Don't move," he ordered, and instantly realized that his intruder was small and soft and wore a too big shirt that shifted so he touched bare skin. 

Not his mother.

He recognized her just from the way she smelled, fresh and unpretentious and familiar. From that silky skin. From the feel of her curves against him.

Hell, earthquakes and lightning were nothing. 

Janey Blackmon was everything.

Did you catch the reference to “Bad Moon on the Rise?” Isn’t falling in love a bit like being surprised by earthquakes and lightning? Metaphorically speaking, of course.

A few chapters later, another favorite rock 'n roll song inspired me. Bruce Springsteen's “Dancing in the Dark” worked on several levels. (Copyright law does not protect titles, so I am able to legally use this one.) Yes, it's dark because of the power outage, but there's a play on the word dark in this story, one that involves Matt's career. But the word dancing, now that one’s pretty obvious.

I've mentioned two songs that inspired me. What about your favorite songs? What if the lights were out and you had some quiet time with your significant other for a little dancing, what songs would you hope to hear?  What songs do you consider romantic?

I’ll gift a digital copy of Dancing in the Dark to one respondent. If you prefer a print book, I can snail mail a copy of To the Limit, my romantic adventure/romantic suspense novel, published by Harlequin.

What if you discovered all you ever wanted were the things you left behind?

Covert CIA agent Matt Kincaid is back in tiny Walton Springs, only to find Janey Blackmon waiting to ask him a favor. Matt's not there to reminisce with the girl he's never forgotten...and he's definitely not there to divulge government secrets about her missing brother.

Ten years...and Janey hasn't forgotten the love of her life...or that he abandoned her on prom night. Bound by duty and honor, he was shipped out to parts unknown by Uncle Sam. But she knew he'd go because adventure is in Matt's blood. Being stuck in a small town with plain Jane the librarian wasn't ever in his plans.

Trapped by a flood, with no phone or power, desire tempts them. Will passion—and Matt's offer to recreate prom night--lead to a future together? Or are they just dancing in the dark?

This is a novella prequel to my romantic suspense novel, In the Arms of a Stranger. Look for it in October 2013 from Entangled Publishing’s Ignite line. If you’d like to be notified when it’s available, sign up for my news & updates to receive a reminder. 

Dancing in the Dark is available at:

You can find me at:

Giveaway ends 11:59pm EST Aug. 2nd. Please supply your email in the post. You may use spaces or full text for security. (ex. jsmith at gmail dot com) If you do not wish to supply your email, or have trouble posting, please email with a subject title of JCR GIVEAWAY to be entered in the current giveaway. *Print book is eligible for US residents only.


  1. I'm one for the old stuff when you talk about romantic music...the soulful stuff by Marvin Gaye (Let's Het it On) or anything by Anita Baker. I could listen to both of these artists all night long. I also used to listen to the music by this group called Ambrosia that still reminds me of my beach vacations.

    Enough of that! Your book sounds wonderful. Thanks for taking me on this soundtrack.

    Jonettaallen77 at yahoo dot com

  2. Oh, yes, Anita Baker. I love her "No one in the world" and others. I just looked up Ambrosia. I don't remember them, but love what I heard on YouTube.

    Thanks for stopping by and posting--and giving me some artists to think about :-)

  3. I can give you a thousand wonderful songs...but how about these two:

    I'm Yours by the Script (beautiful lyrics)
    The Luckiest by Ben Folds (also beautiful lyrics and melody)

    I'm a pantser who always uses playlists to help me "understand" my characters, too. Fun post...thanks!

    1. I love pantsers :-) I find it hard to pinpoint and understand my characters until I've written a good bit.

      Isn't it fun listening and finding that one lyric, or maybe the entire song, that inspires? Love "I'm Yours"--just listened to it. And "The Luckiest," wow. That could work for a time travel.

      Thanks for stopping by and giving me more songs to ponder.

  4. I'm not a big listener of romantic music. Need the edginess of the harder rock bands (ac/dc, van halen) But songs that calm me are most by Fleetwood Mac, Elvis - An American Trilogy, Colorful by the Verve Pipe, The Lonely Shepherd by Zamfir to name a few. Oh I think one of the most haunting love story songs is not even in english and sung by an actress - Selma Hayek called Siente Mi Amor.

    Looking forward to In the Arms of a Stranger coming out.

    1. Yes! Van Halen! You don't want to hear me sing along in the car. I'm awful and I'm sure everyone stares, but ... :-)

      Oh, my. Salma Hayek's Siente Mi Amor. I'm a native Spanish speaker, hadn't attention before--probably too busy gazing at Antonio :-) Love the latin beat and the lyrics. This could work for my current WIP. Thank you!

  5. Great post, Virginia. I, too, am a pantser and I totally understand needing that (lightning) flash of inspiration to tell you where the story is going. I love music and it's always around me in the house and the car and even in the fact that my son has been in rock bands a lot of his life. But, oddly, I rarely have a long playlist for my books. Usually there are one or two songs that play a role somewhere in the story. And my romantic songs come often from old, old records. Two of my favorite love songs are old Beatles/Paul McCartney tunes "Here, There, and Everywhere" and "Maybe I'm Amazed." I would love for someone to write lyrics like those to me--holy smokes!

    Looking forward to reading your books--they sound wonderful!

    1. Ooo, great! Another pantser! Absolutely on the flash of inspiration. I, too, lack a playlist. It's that line or two from the lyrics that gets me going. Oh, yes, singing along as Maybe I'm Amazed plays. :-) I had a boyfriend in high school who sang to me. He had a gorgeous voice, but all I can remember now is I'm On the Outside Looking In. Must have been right before we broke up, tho' it was never very serious.

      Thanks for stopping by, sharing, and making me remember.

  6. I tend to get my inspiration from country radio (though I can't listen while I write). The problem is, the ones that get my muse fired up are usually the somebody done somebody wrong songs...gotta work on some HEA songs! Taylor Swift, where are you?

    1. I like country "pop"--I guess that's what it's called. Faith Hill's "Breathe" is a favorite. Taylor Swift's It's a Love Story (the one about Romeo, I always get the title wrong) is one of those songs that if I hear it, sticks with me until another song takes over. It is the perfect romance novel song, though, love at first site, forbidden love, HEA and all.

      Thanks for commenting.

  7. Great post! And your book sounds fun.

    My husband always tells me that I listen to depressing music, but I just can't help it. I love all the emotion (my book picks are usually jam-packed full of emotion, too). Sorrowful songs aren't usually romantic though. But some of my favorites are "My Only Exception" by Paramore, "I Will Follow You into the Dark" by Deathcab for Cutie, "Kiss Me" by Ed Sheeran, and "Hazy" by Rosi Golan.

    1. Wow! You sent me to YouTube. I'd never heard of any of these. The lyrics in these are gorgeous. You're absolutely right: tons of emotion, angsty emotion, which I love.

      Thank you for sharing! I've just learned about some fabulous songs.

  8. Another pantzer here. I can't listen to music with lyrics when I write. The words get in the way. LOL When I read your question the first song that entered my mind was "Take My Breath Away" from Top Gun. Something about the bass gets to me. Very emotional.

    1. Daine, I can't listen while I write, but since my version of "pantser" is sit, write, get up, move around, do ANYTHING else, sit, repeat cycle :-) there's a lot of in between time.

      Oh, yes, on "Take My Breath Away"--lyrics, music. Ah!

      Thanks for reminding me of that one.

  9. Virginia, the tune to Dancing in the Dark has been going through my mind since I saw the title of your book! Guess it's a good way for folks to remember, right? :)

    1. Sometimes that tune gets stuck in my head, too. Right now "Take My Breath Away" is stuck there :-) I do hope folks remember the title, but it really does, in so many ways, have to do with the story. And not just in the literal sense.

      Thanks for stopping by.

  10. Great post! I love those flashes of inspiration (and I love your heroes -- can't wait to dive into this book!) I was listening to an old CD yesterday during the commute, and some lyrics from a song perfectly described a scene I was working on. It's like the muse knew I needed that to get me on track!

  11. Isn't it wonderful when the muse helps us like that? So many songs mentioned here are going to help me in the future. Some spoke to completed books, which will help me focus during revisions.

    Thanks for the lovely comment about my heroes. :-)

  12. Great post, Virginia! Music "is" my muse...before writing, when taking breaks and when done writing for the day. Like Diane the words get in the way if I'm actually writing. I won't list my favs because they are too many, and all over the place, from alternative to pop hits, hard driving rock to oldies, but under it all, I'm a bluesy kind of girl and love the old as well as the new. Lately I'm listening to a lot of Edith Piaff, mainly because I'm going to Paris soon. :-)

    Thanks for reminding me of all the songs I love...and Dancing in the Dark!! A great read!

    1. Okay, I'll admit to more ignorance. I had to look up Edith Piaff. I'm very much the hard driving rock oldies. The responses here have certainly opened my eyes.

      Paris! Ah, I wish! Enjoy!

      And thanks for stopping by :-)

  13. I love using music as a muse! I have a lot of faves, but most of my books actually have a theme song. How funny that Linda mentioned Edith Piaff! I heard a torch singer at Hollywood Bowl singing her songs and one of my characters in Brotherhood of the Blade became a French torch singer (and vampire hunter!). =)

    1. At least I didn't have to look up someone else, since I'd already looked up Edith Piaff :-)

      I'm intrigued: a French torch singer/vampire hunter. Off to find that one!

      Thanks for stopping by.


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