R.L. Merrill on Writing Characters, Romance and the new release ‘Typhoon Toby (Forces of Nature Book 2) (author guest blog)

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Typhoon Toby (Forces of Nature Book 2) by R.L. Merrill

Dreamspinner Press
Cover Art: Kanaxa

Publication: January 22nd 2019

Buy Links:
Dreamspinner Press https://goo.gl/58pSJS

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words wants to welcome R.L. Merrill here today on tour for Typhoon Toby. Welcome, R.L., into our author’s interview chair.

 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with R.L. Merrill

 

 

Who do you think is your major influence as a writer?  Now and growing up?

 

I never set out to be a writer, and I didn’t read much romance growing up. I read Stephen King and Anne Rice and I figured if I ever wrote stories, I’d want to scare the hell out of people. IO didn’t read for a long time because of college, being a brand new teacher trying to figure out what I was doing, then grad school. I read while I was pregnant with my daughter, a whole bunch of thrillers and mysteries, and then didn’t read a book again until I got sick in 2009. This time I started with paranormal romances. Sherrilyn Kenyon and Charlaine Harris were both authors I loved for their unique characters and great dialogue as well as flawed heroes who deserved redemption. My first self-published romance ended up being a contemporary so I have no idea where that came from, haha. I never really read much. I loved Colleen Hoover’s early books and I wanted to make people feel like she does. Her career is probably the one I’d love to have, although I don’t think our books are similar. I have yet to find anyone I read and think A HA! My readers tell me my characters and zany situations remind them of Kristan Higgins. I’ll take that. She’s pretty amazing as well.

 

How do you feel about the ebook format and where do you see it going?

 

As someone with diminishing vision, the ebook has been a lifesaver. I can’t read print books anymore. Between the dark spots in my vision and the fact that my progressive bifocals are tricky to read with, I’m struggling on a daily basis to do my job and sometimes to write. My docs are usually somewhere between 150-200% and I read on my phone or my paperwhite with the font enlarged. I’ll keep on keepin’ on as long as I can,

 

If you write contemporary romance, is there such a thing as making a main character too “real”?  Do you think you can bring too many faults into a character that eventually it becomes too flawed to become a love interest?

 

Contemporary romance is tricky. I’ve given up trying to write the kinds of heroes people want to read and focus on who I’d like to know and hang out with. In that sense, a lot of times my characters are based on real people, my own heroes, or celebrities that I respect. There are things that would make me personally not want to be with a person so I avoid those traits in my writing, but then other readers love those types of characters, so I just have to hope there are enough like-minded readers out there looking for flawed-but-redeemable characters.

 

What traits do you find the most interesting in someone? Do you write them into your characters?

 

Lately I’ve been looking at the quirky ways people deal with stress and failure in my characters. I’m also fascinated by characters that survive in that gray area. My absolute favorite TV show ever is Justified. Talk about a whole bunch of flawed characters that wallow in the gray! There’s a delicate balance, though, between how much is too much. This goes back to my last answer. Where’s that line that readers won’t blur with you?

 

Ever drunk written a chapter and then read it the next day and still been happy with it?  Trust me there’s a whole world of us drunk writers dying to know.

 

I’m not a drinker, but if it were possible for me to write amped up on too much caffeine and write something ridiculous, I’ll do it. My drunken exploits go back twenty years and involve drunk shopping haha. My husband loves to remind me of the awful red and orange dress I bought in Hawaii on our honeymoon that had to go back the next day.

 

If you could imagine the best possible place for you to write, where would that be and why?

The best possible place for me to write is an old building. I’ve written some of my favorite stories at the Holbrooke Hotel in Grass Valley which dates to the late 1800s, the Weller House in Fort Bragg, California… My friend’s house in Portland, Oregon which was built in the early 1900s and is all dark wood gorgeousness in the woods. I’ve had great writing sessions in the Jupiter, a beer pub in Berkeley as well. I’d love to find someplace old that’s closer to me that I could visit on a more regular basis.

 

With so much going on in the world today, do you write to explain?  To get away? To move past? To widen our knowledge? Why do you write?

 

I write to give hope. I write to recognize the struggles people I respect go through. I write to save my sanity.

 

What’s next for you as a writer?

 

This year is going to see a lot of different projects. After Typhoon Toby, I’ll revisit my boys Orrie and Dalton from Worst Holiday Ever and give them a Valentine’s Day Surprise. Then it’s on to a f/f story for a #loveislove anthology in June and hopefully a paranormal. Later in the summer, a new project from Dreamspinner will be out titled Summer of Hush. I’ve got lots of writing to do, including more stories in the Forces of Nature series and Summer of Hush, as well as some indie projects.

More about Typhoon Toby

Forces of Nature: Book Two

On the surface, Toby Griffiths appears to have it all—talent, money, a brilliant mind, and model good looks. With his best friend, Reese, he’s built an empire as a singer/songwriter.

But beneath that glittering exterior, Toby suffers the lasting effects of abuse. To keep his tempestuous past where it belongs, he insists on anonymity with lovers—no names, no personal information. But a vacation fling in Bali changes all that, and he can’t get his recent playmate out of his mind.

Therapist Spencer Hart left Bali with a bad case of pneumonia and a broken heart. Although he’s recovering, he’s shocked to find his secretive partner on TV, and he’s determined to see him again. Spencer arranges to attend one of Toby’s fundraising galas, and their reunion is tense.

Toby tries to stick to his rules… until a New Year’s kiss with Spencer washes away the last of his resistance. But Toby is a man with secrets, and when the storm comes ashore, it could devastate not just his professional life but his fledgling love affair and his longtime partnership with his best friend.

Will Spencer stand by his side and help him weather the storm as Toby faces his worst fears?

About the Author

Once upon a time… A teacher, tattoo collector, mom, and rock ‘n’ roll kinda gal opened up a doc and started purging her demons. Several self-published books and a debut from Dreamspinner Press later, with more tucked away in her evil lair, R.L. Merrill is still striving to find that perfect balance between real-life and happily ever after. You can find her lurking on social media where she loves connecting with readers, being a mom-taxi to two brilliant and busy kids, in the tattoo chair trying desperately to get that back piece finished, or headbanging at a rock show near her home in the San Francisco Bay Area! Stay Tuned for more Rock ‘n’ Romance.

 

 

Contact the author

Website

 

Twitter

 

Cover Reveal for Typhoon Toby (Forces of Nature #2) by R.L. Merrill

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Title: Typhoon Toby

Series: Forces of Nature: Book 2

Author: R.L. Merrill

Release Date: January 22, 2019

Category: Contemporary

Pages: 220

Cover Artist: Kanaxa

Buy Links:  Dreamspinner Press Ebook and Paperback

Blurb:

 

On the surface, Toby Griffiths appears to have it all—talent, money, a brilliant mind, and model good looks. With his best friend, Reese, he’s built an empire as a singer/songwriter.

 

But beneath that glittering exterior, Toby suffers the lasting effects of abuse. To keep his tempestuous past where it belongs, he insists on anonymity with lovers—no names, no personal information. But a vacation fling in Bali changes all that, and he can’t get his recent playmate out of his mind.

 

Therapist Spencer Hart left Bali with a bad case of pneumonia and a broken heart. Although he’s recovering, he’s shocked to find his secretive partner on TV, and he’s determined to see him again. Spencer arranges to attend one of Toby’s fundraising galas, and their reunion is tense.

 

Toby tries to stick to his rules… until a New Year’s kiss with Spencer washes away the last of his resistance. But Toby is a man with secrets, and when the storm comes ashore, it could devastate not just his professional life but his fledgling love affair and his longtime partnership with his best friend.

 

Will Spencer stand by his side and help him weather the storm as Toby faces his worst fears?

 

Author Bio:

 

Once upon a time… a teacher, tattoo collector, mom, and rock ’n’ roll kinda gal opened up a doc and started purging her demons. R.L. Merrill is still striving to find that perfect balance between real life and happily ever after, and she’ll keep writing love stories until she does. Both self-published and traditionally published with Dreamspinner Press, Ro writes romance in contemporary, paranormal, and horror settings inspired by love, hope, and rock ’n’ roll. She writes stories set in the places she loves most, such as Hollywood, New Orleans, Las Vegas, Northern California, Iowa and Spain. Ro also loves connecting with other authors online, at conventions, and chapter meetings for the Romance Writers of America, of which she’s been a member since 2014.

A sucker for underdogs, Ro has adopted a wide variety of pets including cats, dogs, rats, snakes, a chameleon, and some fish. Her love of horror is evident the moment you walk in her door and find yourself surrounded by decorative skulls and quirky artwork from around the world. You can find her lurking on social media where she loves connecting with readers, or else find her educating America’s youth, being a mom taxi to two busy kids, in the tattoo chair trying desperately to get that back piece finished, or head-banging at a rock show near her home in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Connect with Ro:

Website: http://www.rlmerrillauthor.com

Twitter: @rlmerrillauthor

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/rowritesrocknromance

Stay Tuned for more Rock ’n’ Romance.

R.L. Merrill on Writing, Research, and her new release Hurricane Reese (author interview)

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Hurricane Reese by R.L. Merrill
Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Kanaxa

 Buy Links:

 Dreamspinner eBook and  Paperback 

 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host R.L. Merrill here today on tour for Hurricane Reese. Welcome!

 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with R.L. Merrill

  • How much of yourself goes into a character?

A lot of me goes into characters, and a lot of people I know show up in aspects of characters. I also tend to have a “muse” for my characters, especially the musicians. I can hear them singing.

  • Do you feel there’s a tight line between Mary Sue or should I say Gary Stu and using your own experiences to create a character?

I put my characters in experiences I’ve never had before from time to time and so it’s fun to figure out how they’ll react to certain situations because they’re foreign to me. But I’ve also been quite candid with some of the things that have happened to me that have ended up in books.

  • Does research play a role into choosing which genre you write?  Do you enjoy research or prefer making up your worlds and cultures?

I absolutely love research, but I don’t go crazy. I’ll do just enough to get the right feel into my stories. I don’t tend to write stories where there needs to be a ton of detail. With Hurricane Reese, I’d had experience with the issues involved, but I did talk to friends that are currently caring for their parents as well as a friend who is a nurse in a psychiatric care facility who deals mainly with patients experiencing dementia and Alzheimer’s.

  • Has your choice of childhood or teenage reading genres carried into your own choices for writing?

I read a lot of Stephen King and Anne Rice as a teen, and I’ve only just become brave enough to dabble with horror and romance together. I loved Judy Blume as a kid and I think I was actually influenced by her tendency to put her characters in real-life situations and grow them as characters while they work out their issues. I’ve done a lot of that. In Hurricane Reese, I wanted to explore a man dealing with the care of his grandparent on his own. I have had a lot of experience with that in the past few years and it really changes you, often for the better. And life tends to go on around you when you are in the thick of it.

Have you ever had to put an ‘in progress’ story aside because of the emotional ties with it?  You were hurting with the characters or didn’t know how to proceed?

Yes! The more personal the story, sometimes I find myself getting a little too into the murky waters and I need to work on something else or lose myself in some books for a few days. With this story, it was different. I loved these characters so much, I couldn’t bear to bring on the black moment. I took a couple of weeks off until I was ready to torture them. It sucked and I was really sad. I cried along with them. But then it makes me work faster toward the end so I can fix everything.

  • Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?

I do like them and I write them, but I honestly don’t need them. I read books often that don’t have a happy ending and I actually don’t mind cliffhangers. I had to get past that when I started writing romance because my editor was like “Uh, you can’t do this. Your readers will hate you.” So I gave in. But someday… heh heh

  • Do you read romances, as a teenager and as an adult?

I didn’t really, no. As a teen it was horror, and then in my twenties I read a lot of mysteries and thrillers. Patricia Cornwell, Tony Hillerman, Caleb Carr were devoured quickly. But then I got sick and I discovered J.R. Ward and Sherrilyn Kenyon and I was hooked on the darker romances with monsters and action and adventure. Sold! When I started writing, however, that’s not really what came out.

  • How do you feel about the ebook format and where do you see it going?

I can really only read ebooks now because I need to make the font gigantic in order to read and I love the portability. I read on my phone so I always have a book with me. I get way more reading done that way. You can also sneak books easier when they’re on a phone, you know, when you’re supposed to be doing other adult things? But young folks tend to prefer print so I don’t think they’ll be going away ever.

How do you choose your covers?  (curious on my part)

Do you have a favorite among your own stories?  And why?

What’s next for you as an author?

  • If you write contemporary romance, is there such a thing as making a main character too “real”? 

I don’t think so. In fact, the more real the better for me. Yes, contemporary romance should be an escape and fantasy for the reader, but honestly, I like characters who are real and who have to deal with real-life issues.

  • Do you think you can bring too many faults into a character that eventually it becomes too flawed to become a love interest?

There are certain no nos for me as a reader. Cheating? I can’t go there. I don’t like love triangles much. So those things, while not necessarily character flaws, I don’t dig them. I can deal with some pretty damaged characters so I don’t know if a flaw necessarily makes someone unlovable. I tend to have hope and believe in redemption.

  • Ever drunk written a chapter and then read it the next day and still been happy with it?  Trust me there’s a whole world of us drunk writers dying to know.

I don’t drink anymore, so unless I’m drunk on chocolate and Diet Coke, probably not. I have had a drunk shopping experience that my husband has never let me forget. It involved a certain red and orange sundress. I did try to write whilst in the throes of ‘roid rage. I have frequently had to take steroids for my asthma, which leads to late night insanity, so yeah, I don’t recommend that.

  • If you could imagine the best possible place for you to write, where would that be and why?

I love to write around people. My favorite places have an all-you-can-drink soda fountain and good music. I have done some amazing writing at our #wordsonthepage retreats sponsored by the San Francisco Area Romance Writers of America group. We went to Fort Bragg, CA and stayed in an old bed and breakfast and I got like 14k written! And I’m headed to Grass Valley, CA in three weeks and I have lofty goals for this one too. But the next best thing is curling up in my bed or on my couch with my dog and cats. They are great writing assistants.

  • With so much going on in the world today, do you write to explain?  To get away?  To move past?  To wide our knowledge?  Why do you write?

When I started, it was to deal with an awful situation I’d found myself in. Then it was to deal with the death of my father. Then it morphed into a way to keep me sane while trying to work as a teacher and keep up with my two busy children. It was something that was mine. And now, it drives me, motivates me, and keeps me moving forward.

  • What’s next for you as a writer?

Hurricane Reese will be out 1/30, then I will release three anthology pieces in May and August. Other than that, I’m hoping Reese will become a series, I’m working on finishing some stories in my self-published worlds, and I’ll be attending RT Reno, RWA in Denver, and hopefully the Dreamspinner Workshop in September. I hope to get to meet more readers and authors in the coming months!

Thank you so much for having me and thanks for supporting stories of romance and hope!

—R.L. Merrill

 

Blurb:

Tony award-winning musician Reese Matheson’s life resembles a natural disaster, and caregiver Jude De La Torre is caught in the eye of the storm. Can the love these two opposites find together survive caring for an ornery octogenarian with wayward balls and a meddling family insistent upon tradition?

 

A public break-up is not what Reese expects upon returning from the successful run of his musical in London. All he wants to do is spend time with his beloved grandfather and musical mentor, who suffers from Alzheimer’s. Reese knows he doesn’t have much time left before the elder Matheson doesn’t remember him. In classic “Hurricane Reese” form, he moves into the cottage by the sea, displacing Jude, the intriguing caregiver he’d hired two years before. When Grandpa proves too much for Reese to handle on his own, Jude comes to his rescue, taming Grandpa… and the Hurricane as well. Soon all Reese can think about is how to get Jude out of his scrubs and into his bed. Permanently. Will Hurricane Reese destroy everything in its wake, or will this gay odd couple learn to harmonize together?

Spotify Playlist Link: https://open.spotify.com/user/rlmerrillauthor/playlist/79BaPjDRZXUwVr5tPI9FNC

About the Author

Once upon a time… a teacher, tattoo collector, mom, and rock ’n’ roll kinda gal opened up a doc and started purging her demons. Several self-published books and a debut gay romance with Dreamspinner Press later, R.L. Merrill is still striving to find that perfect balance between real life and happily ever after. She writes stories set in the places she loves most, such as Hollywood, New Orleans, Las Vegas, Northern California—and Iowa. Ro also loves connecting with other authors online, at the annual Romantic Times Booklovers Convention, and chapter meetings for the Romance Writers of America, of which she’s been a member since 2014.

A sucker for underdogs, Ro has adopted a wide variety of pets including cats, dogs, rats, a snake and fish. Her love of horror is evident the moment you walk in her door and find yourself surrounded by decorative skulls and quirky artwork from around the world. You can find her lurking on social media where she loves connecting with readers, educating America’s youth, being a mom taxi to two busy kids, in the tattoo chair trying desperately to get that back piece finished, or head banging at a rock show near her home in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Connect with Ro:

Website: http://www.rlmerrillauthor.com

Twitter: @rlmerrillauthor

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/rowritesrocknromance

And stay Tuned for more Rock ’n’ Romance.

A MelanieM Release Day Review: Hurricane Reese by R.L. Merrill

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Rating: 3 stars out of 5

The life of Tony-winning musician Reese Matheson resembles a natural disaster, and caregiver Jude De La Torre is caught in the eye of the storm. But can the love of two opposites survive caring for an ornery octogenarian with wayward balls and a meddling family insistent upon tradition?

Fresh off the successful London run of his musical, the last thing Reese expects when he comes home is a house surrounded by paparazzi and his girlfriend throwing his stuff into the pool. All he wants to do is spend time with his beloved grandfather and musical mentor who suffers from Alzheimer’s. Reese knows he doesn’t have much time left before the elder Matheson forgets who he is. In classic “Hurricane Reese” form, he moves into the cottage by the sea and displaces Jude, the intriguing caregiver he hired two years before. When Grandpa proves too much for Reese to handle on his own, Jude comes to his rescue, taming Grandpa… and the Hurricane as well. Soon all Reese can think about is how to get Jude out of his scrubs and into his bed—permanently. Will Hurricane Reese destroy everything in his path, or will this odd couple learn to harmonize together?

I’m going to start off this review by saying that my perspective on this story and my review is based on my feelings towards one of the main characters and not on the writing or perhaps even the storyline of Hurricane Reese except with regards as to how the author met her obvious objective of her story themes.

I found Hurricane Reese to be well written, her characters well constructed, especially so in the case of Grandpa Matheson, a musician now battling dementia.  Grandpa’s music still flows out of him when he’s not playing cards with gangsters and flirting with red heads.  He’s engaging and poignant. But then there’s the times he can’t remember or take care of himself….that’s shown in equal devastating measure.  It’s with Grandpa and Jude’s large Filipinos family that my heart lies.  I adored them. I found them, their interactions with Jude and Reese to be realistic and believable.  Even Jude as he fights to remain true to his family’s expectations and his roots is understandable and  someone you can connect to (outside of his affection towards Reese that it).

No, all that reads like a 5 star story.

Then there’s the title character Hurricane Reese,Reese Matheson.  Therein lies the rub.  At least for me.  I   just can’t abide this character.  He’s self absorbed, oblivious to the effects his actions has on others, nor does he seem to actually care once he realizes the turmoil he’s left in his wake.  Self involved to an amazing level that he can descend on a grandfather he barely visits, toss out a caregiver without thought to his grandfather’s needs or his caregiver’s, and then panic on when it appears like it’s not working for him? Uh no.

I would like to say he redeems himself or demonstrate enormous growth as a human being, but for me, that never really happens.  It seems that this character takes a sort of pride in the fact that he stirs things up, causing havoc wherever he goes.  Yes, he makes a sort of amends for several events that leave you gobsmacked, but you wonder, honestly, how much he’s changed.  And throughout the story, I always question, other than this guy’s obvious good looks, what on earth  made Jude sleep and fall in love with him?  What a total lapse in judgement!

So where does it all leave me?  With writing that I like and 3/4 of a story’s worth of characters I enjoyed.  But none of that was the romance and none of that was the title character.  You might feel differently.  If you are a fan of this author, take a chance on this book.   For me I just can’t get past the hurricane that’s Reese Matheson.

Cover Artist: Kanaxa.  I loved the cover.  From the color tones to the model.  Great job.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 205 pages
Expected publication: January 30th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781640801769
Edition LanguageEnglish