Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Book Launch: One Tough Marine! UPDATED

Welcome to the book launch of One Tough Marine, my August 2010 release from Harlequin Intrigue, which just made the Borders Series Romance Bestseller List! It's my first time to ever make the list, so I'm beyond thrilled.

By the way, due to my very bad scheduling, I'm also featured in a Q & A on Mysteries and Margaritas today, so if you want to drop by and hear my answers to Kari's great questions, you know how to click the link.

Now back to the book launch!

One Tough Marine is my seventh book from Harlequin Intrigue, but it's the first one to ever deal with subject matter I once swore I'd never touch as an author.

That's right, I'm talking about secret babies.

I've never really understood the appeal of secret baby stories. I know a lot of readers must love them, because a lot of books are built around that popular hook. But I always have trouble with the motivations involved.

Why would the heroine keep something so important from the child's father? I mean, I could see why she would if the father was an abusive creep or a crime lord or something. More power to her for lying her head off. But she's invariably lying to the guy who's going to be the hero of our book. How are we supposed to root for a woman who'd keep that kind of secret from the hero?

So you can imagine my surprise when I was plotting One Tough Marine and realized that the heroine's young son belonged to the hero. See, when I first started conceiving of the story, I thought the baby was the son of the heroine's late husband, and the hero would be protecting her and the little boy because he was the late husband's best friend.

But almost as soon as I got into the meat of the story, I realized the little boy had to be the hero's son. It raised all the stakes exponentially, complicated both the internal and external conflicts, and just all around made for a better story.

But once I committed to the secret baby story, I had to work really, really hard to motivate my heroine—and hero—in ways that allowed both characters to remain honorable and rootable. To generate sympathy for the heroine, I had to give her a very good reason to keep the secret. And then, for the hero, I had to provide a sympathetic reason to have deliberately made the heroine believe he would be an unreliable or indifferent father. Whew! That was a tough assignment.

I'll be interested in seeing if people think I've accomplished the task—not just people who love secret baby stories but also people who don't.

I'll be drawing four--that's right, four--winners from the comments to receive copies of your choice of any 2 back list books I still have available (including my January and February Intrigues, the first two books in the Cooper Justice saga)--or a $10 eGift card or certificate from the online bookstore of your choice.

So get to talking! Are you a fan of a secret baby story? If so, what makes them appealing to you? And if you're a secret baby story skeptic, like I was (and mostly still am), what would a writer have to do to convince you to go along with her secret baby story?


I realized a $5 gift card wouldn't cover shipping for even one book, so I've upped the total to $10. And you get two back list books if you go that route. So even bigger prizes! Tell your friends. Tweet about it. Drop a line on Facebook. Let's get this party started!


Kea said...

Your book is finally wending it's way to me as I type. I have September's release on order too.

I'm actually not a fan of secret babies. Okay, I'm not a fan of babies in general, but secret babies in particular, for all the reasons you've already stated.

So I'll be very interested to see how you handled this one. I haven't been disappointed in any of your books to date, Paula, and I'm sure this will be terrific as well.

Paula said...

Please do tell me what you think! I hashed the plot out with a friend of mine who is downright allergic to the secret baby hook, and we finally got to a place where she felt that I'd addressed everything, but I'll be interested to hear other opinions.

I don't see myself doing many secret baby stories in the future, though. That was hard!

Anonymous said...

I'm not a fan of secret babies either, for the same reasons as you, Paula. I do (kinda) like babies and little kids, though. One of my failed Nanowrimo novels is about a toddler. I may pick that one up again in November.

Can't wait to read your new book, hon!

Paula said...

What genre are you writing in these days, Genia? I know you were doing short stories the last time we really talked about it, but now you're taking shots at a novel? That's great!

Carla Swafford said...

Congratulations, Paula. I'm actually one of those people who likes secret babies, but for the last few years, they've been done horribly. Knowing how talented you are, I'm looking forward to reading how you handled it. Hugs.

Laryssa said...

I'm always a big fan of the tragic separation and then triumphant reunion plot line and I think that secret babies, if done right, can make a story more poignant.

I look forward to reading what you wrote.

Good luck with your launch!


MJFredrick said...

While I don't love secret babies, I do LOVE reunion stories! Can't wait to read this one.

EllenToo said...

There are secret baby stories I like and some I don't~~it all depends on the reason for the secret. I think in your story there was a reasonable excuse to keep the baby a secret.He's the one that disappeared on her so why would she tell him? In the book I just finished reading there was a secret baby and again the excuse was reasonable so I enjoyed it.

Lisa G said...

It depends on the story and the writing for me. If I can't accept and like both of the key characters then I'm not going to enjoy the story. That said, I tend to avoid the secret baby stories for all the reasons you listed. I am looking forward to seeing how you handle it though.

Nicole said...

It reall depends on if the writing is done well, and how the story plays out. I can be very picky once babies get involved...

Paula said...

Carla, I think the popularity of secret babies as a hook has created the problem--some writers know it's a hook that sells, so they jump on the bandwagon without stopping to consider how hard it is to write a secret baby story well.

I hope I've done the secret baby convention justice. I can promise you, I didn't jump on any bandwagon. My character dragged me there kicking and screaming. :)

Paula said...

Thanks, Laryssa (beautiful name!).

The reason I let my characters talk me into the secret baby story was for exactly the reason you talk about--it made all the emotional (and plot-oriented) stakes exponentially higher for the story. And I don't think that writers should pull their punches. If you know something will make a story bigger and stronger, even if it makes things a lot more complicated for you as a writer, you have to go for it. Find a way to make it work.

Paula said...

Mary, I love reunion stories, too. Both this one and the September book, BACHELOR SHERIFF, are reunion stories. Of a sort. ;)

Paula said...

Thanks, Ellen. I do think the key to any story element, like a secret baby, that can make the character unsympathetic is to give your characters really strong, understandable motives for their actions. I mean, normally I'd think theft is bad, but if a desperate mother in a dystopian future steals bread to feed her starving child, that's an understandable motive.

Paula said...

Lisa G, I hope you'll let me know how you think I handled it. It's okay if it didn't work for you--I like to hear what I do wrong so I can learn from it and become a better writer.

Paula said...

Nicole, I know what you mean. I'm pretty protective of the babies, although I've sometimes had to have scary things happen to the children in my books. That's the nature of writing suspense.