Writer Wednesday – Meet Irene Vartanoff

It’s been a while, but today I’d like to welcome Irene Vartanoff to the Writer Wednesday feature on my blog. Take it away Irene!!

Captive of the Cattle Baron

Blurb:Captive of the Cattle Baron by Irene Vartanoff

He’d Abducted Her!

Abducted by rancher Baron Selkirk—okay, it was an accident, but now he won’t let her go—former TV child star turned horse whisperer Addie Jelleff enjoys a respite from the media circus that ruined her quiet retreat in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, but she’s due back to town to defend her actor pal at his trial very soon. Baron’s vast, isolated ranch is only one of his many attractions, but he’s awfully domineering and she can’t possibly give in to their growing attraction while she’s virtually his prisoner, can she?

Baron sees the situation differently. He wants to save Addie from he thinks is a sordid drug connection. Forced to drop his geology career and take over the family ranch, he’s frustrated by too many people saying no to him. Isn’t he in charge? Why is Addie so mysterious about her past and her commitments to another man? Why won’t she give in to Baron, when every time they touch, they catch fire?

It’s a battle of wills—with neither one backing down. Addie can tame the wildest stallion, but restraining her own growing attraction to the high-handed rancher and keeping him from breaking through her defenses requires all her strength—and some help from unexpected sources.

Now that you’ve heard what the book is about, let’s hear from Irene.

How did you get the idea for the beginning part of this novel?

Diana Palmer once did a story about a country guy who didn’t want to be involved with a glamour girl from the city. That rejection of the glamour life was key to my initial thinking about Captive of the Cattle Baron. I thought, “What if some glamorous woman hid out from the media in some rancher’s car? And then he got the wrong idea about what kind of person she was?”

That was the start, but then I had to build my heroine as someone who had glamour but did not want to lead the in-the-spotlight Hollywood life. She couldn’t have a believable happy ever after on a ranch if she had constant commitments elsewhere. That’s when I started thinking that my heroine could be famous but not want to be anywhere near the fast lane. From there, making Addie a former TV actor who had spent years while a child on a sitcom was the next logical step to keep her as normal a person as possible.

Tell us a little bit about the setting. How did you choose Wyoming?

I chose Wyoming as the setting because I went there once on a car trip with my mother and sister. My mother had driven the west with her dad when she was a mere kid and most of the roads were single-lane dirt—and mud. She thought nothing of piling us into her car decades later and taking off on modern paved interstates, although without motel reservations, cell phones, or solid plans. After visiting Yellowstone National Park, we came down from the Grand Tetons into Jackson Hole and it was just so beautiful there I’ve always wanted to go back. So far, I haven’t. I did read up on the state and talk to a geologist who knows the rock formations in the southern part. I believe my descriptions of Wyoming’s geography and plant life are accurate. As to the hotel and the mention of a casino in Jackson Hole, I made those up entirely. I made up the overly ambitious, glory-seeking district attorney, too.

What is your favorite thing about your female character?

What I like about Addie Jelleff is that although most people think of actors as volatile personalities, she is a very logical and sensible person. She spent her childhood doing a weekly television show and adhering to legal work rules and having to memorize her scripts, and do schoolwork, and so on. She still thinks the rest of the world is run logically, the way the TV show was. She can’t quite understand how illogical and irrational real people can be in the grip of emotion. Including herself.

What is your favorite thing about your male character?

My favorite thing about Baron Selkirk is that he’s got the instincts of a hero. He wants to save Addie. He’s not the alpha pig his emotions keep pushing him to be, although he does make mistakes. He thinks he has to be the big tough boss, and he feels a huge sense of responsibility to do right by running the family ranch, but it’s a massive burden on his shoulders, a burden he’s carrying alone. His parents have checked out. His brother has his own problems, and his sister is acting up. No wonder he’s trying to control his world and everyone in it. Especially Addie, to whom he’s tremendously attracted and whom he desperately wants to save from what he believes is a sordid life situation. Unlike a genuinely abusive man, Baron’s motives are pure. Sometimes his actions are over the line, though. After all, abducting someone is a crime!

Baron acts very domineering with Addie, but she gives as good as she gets. She is never intimidated by him. In more than one scene, she’s the one who starts the fight. She also has a lot more control over her sexuality than he has over his. Well, he’s a guy. What do you expect?

Are other books planned in this series?

As I was writing this story and fleshing out the circumstances that make Baron behave as he does, I realized that by giving him a wounded warrior brother and a nearly off-the-rails sister, I was opening the door to sequels. Who wouldn’t want to know if J.D. will ever get out of the V.A. hospital and attempt to resume a normal life? How can an outdoors type cope with serious permanent injury and still lead that kind of existence? Did being in war change him drastically? What about Paula’s so far hopeless love for him? She’s rich, but mere money can’t solve his problems. And poor Tess, who thinks she wants to be a movie star. How will she ever find fulfillment? This family has big problems to solve, and it won’t be easy. Readers will have to tell me whose story they want to read next.

Excerpt

Baron Selkirk watched the beautiful blonde weave a meandering path until she turned a corner and drifted out of sight. Only then could he breathe again. The hot blood pounding in his veins finally began to cool off. He allowed the elevator doors to close.

He punched the Door Open button. As the metal walls parted, he lunged between them. He charged down the hotel corridor. Sure enough, once he’d turned the corner, he found her leaning against the wall, half-fainting.

“You’re ill,” he said. “I’ll call the desk for a doctor.”

Her eyes widened at his words.

“No, don’t,” she said. “Don’t call anyone.”

Was that fear in her expression? What was she afraid of?

“I’m not leaving you alone here to keel over,” he said. Although he wasn’t touching her, he stood close enough to catch her if she crumpled. Close enough to notice that her blue eyes were very dilated.

She half-lifted one arm and pointed down the hall to double doors. “Help me to that suite?”

“Lean on me,” he said, putting an arm around her soft shoulders. The moment he touched her, a thrill shot through his body. He willed himself to concentrate on getting her to safety.

When they reached the double doors, she disentangled herself and rested against the doorframe. “Thank you. I’ll be all right from here.”

He frowned. “Where’s your key?”

She shook her head. “It’s not my suite.” She knocked softly on the wood.

Baron spotted a doorbell and reached over to jab it. He kept his finger on the bell until he heard someone approach the door.

“Who is it?” a muffled voice asked.

“It’s me,” the blonde said.

The person inside must have used the peephole, for his next words were, “I can see you’re not alone. Who’s he?”

She glanced up at Baron. “A hotel guest. I’ve been feeling weird. He helped me here.”

“Make him leave.”

She shrugged. “Thanks for your help,” she said to Baron, “but you’d better go now.”

He got it. The door wouldn’t be opened until he left. “Are you sure you want to do this?” He angled his eyes at the door, indicating his doubts about who and what awaited her inside.

“I’ll be okay,” she said. “Thank you.”

Baron didn’t move. This was wrong.

“Please,” she said.

He tipped his hat. “Your call. Have a nice life.”

Her sudden look of dismay almost made him refuse to budge, but he turned and walked to the elevator, forcing himself to not look back. Once he was a few steps away, he heard the suite door open and muffled words. At the corner, he looked behind him. She was gone.

***

Bio

Irene Vartanoff

Award-winning author Irene Vartanoff started reading romances and comic books as a teenager. Emilie Loring and Superman were her gateway drugs, which led to the serious stuff, Gothic novels and Lois Lane comics—and romance comics. Writing comic books and working on staff at Marvel Comics and DC Comics absorbed her early career years, aspects of which are gently spoofed in her superhero adventure novel, Temporary Superheroine. Editing for major publishers of romance Harlequin, Bantam, and Berkley inspired her next career shift to writing novels. Captive of the Cattle Baron is her first sweet contemporary romance. Visit the author at www.irenevartanoff.com.

A Note From Lily

I don’t always had time to read the books that I present on Writer Wednesday, but in this case, I just finished it, and I highly recommend it. Despite the captive/abduction theme, it’s not heavy on sex or BDSM. I found it a sweet read with a lot of sizzle.

Denver Part 1 – If You Don’t Like the Weather, Wait 20 Minutes

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Denver and I became fast friends. Over the next few days, I plan to tell you a little bit about my trip to Denver, and notable differences from the Southeast, where I live.

First, about that weather thing… I had heard it said by friends before that if you don’t like the weather in Denver, wait twenty minutes. I thought they were exaggerating. Um no. They were not.

The shots in the gallery above were from my hotel room window. We stayed downtown for the conference, and had amazing views. On the first day, it was raining on and off. We walked from the hotel to an art fair a couple of blocks away, and listened to all of the vendors talk about how it had snowed, hailed, and been 60 degrees the day before. That day’s drizzle was nothing. No wonder everyone we saw was either carrying a North Face jacket or no less than three layers: some of them tied around their waist, or draped over shoulders like yuppies in the eighties. All of them with layers. Lots and lots of layers.

 

We do get weather in South Carolina. Our area has been known to get  tornadoes, or bad thunderstorms. But he way the land is, with rolling hills and trees, you can’t really see it coming more than a few miles. So if you see a storm, odds are high that you will experience that storm.

All of these storms were hours from our hotel, and never hit downtown. The deep dark clouds stayed between us and the mountains, but to my eye, trained by South Carolina weather patterns, I thought it was going to hit immediately.

We walked everywhere downtown, so I had to be careful of the weather. Most nights, we didn’t have nay problem. One night it rained, and we waited it out in the restaurant where we were eating.

 

Over the next few days, we explored downtown Denver, including the Capital area. One day we joined a tour that went up to Loveland Pass and the continental divide. Another afternoon I met an author who I have previously only known online and she gave us  another tour of the mountain area, came back down through Boulder canyon and showed us Boulder. We kick things off with a rainbow.

 

 

Plotting Versus Pantsing

or Why (my) Novels Take so Long to Write!!

Anywhere novelists gather, you’re sure to find a discussion of plotting versus pantsing. Do you write a detailed plot in advance, or do you wing it? There are shades along each spectrum, from pages and pages of outlines to the plot summarized on a cocktail napkin.

I have a general idea of the plot, including major turning points, but then I wing it. Here’s a better explanation.

For the Win City Lights Book Three__200x300I don’t write short stories, but if I did, envision a trip from Greenville, SC to Atlanta, GA. About 150 miles, or 233 kilometers. Having lived near both cities, I’ve done that drive. It’s fairly easy, without a lot of issues. If you set your GPS, or your phone’s map app, you might find it says it will take you two hours and thirteen minutes with no stops. That’s reasonable. If you choose to stop off halfway at the outlet malls in Commerce, that’s your choice, but it doesn’t change the drive time. You will just get there later. You arrive, short story done, crank out a few edits, and that’s that.

Some writing websites meant to encourage writers try to throw math into the equation. If you sit down and write ten pages a night, you will have three hundred pages in a month. That’s the premise behind National Novel Writing Month (NANOWRIMO) in November of each year. Thousands of people are determined to write a novel in a month, and they try to churn out fifty thousand words, no editing, and call it a novel. Some of my writer friends who don’t have day jobs or kids can do that, and their work is still good. I am not that writer.

For the Win, around 105 pages printed, about 39,000 words, took me from August to April, nine months. That was a record time. Its companion, Breaking Even, has 40,000 words and I’m not done with edits. The grand finale, Winner Take All, has about 30,000 words and there are major holes. While I’m not working on them both at the same time, I had to nail some issues down before I could finish Breaking Even.

Right now I’m doing first edits, where I review the book chapter by chapter and send it to my editor. I’m halfway done with that. Ric and Lindsey are living in separate places during a good bit of this book, which makes the writing of a romance difficult. They are also an odd couple, especially considering how they came together.

Going back to my GPS metaphor, things happen during the first round of edits that you wouldn’t expect. If you are traveling from Atlanta to New York City by car, all sorts of things could happen. It’s 880 miles, or 1416 km. One online calculator says 13 hours two minutes. (Two minutes? Really?) Flat tire. Bad traffic. Road construction. Interesting sights that cause delays. Most people would split this trip into two days, so that adds to the time, including meals, bathroom stops…

The same thing happens when writing a novel. Real life gets in the way. Even with a first draft done, for me, things can happen during the first edit. A scene that sounded like a good idea suddenly reads flat. Or when you read it, you think Why on earth would this character do that? Or you left a hole with a note – fill this in with x, but suddenly x is the last thing you can fit there because of some other change. Or you read a scene, realize there’s no point to this particular interaction, and start cutting. This is when the GPS notices you’ve changed routes and you hear that dreaded computer voice Recalculating.

For my fans who want to know when the book will be out, I have committed to a release date of September 7. I’m hoping I can get these characters to stop arguing long enough to finish edits on Breaking Even earlier. If edits are done sooner, I will release it sooner, but I don’t want to rush it and have a bunch of errors either.

If you want to know an exact date, well, all I can say is Recalculating.

 

News:

Check out my new Pinterest board over at https://www.pinterest.com/MissLilyBishop/

I have just started using this to post inspiration and research ideas for my books, particularly with furnishings and that sort of thing.

 

If you are an author, how do you feel about pantsing versus plotting? If you are a reader, would you rather see fewer, longer works, or more frequent and shorter?