Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Guest Author -- Claudia Dain

Historical author Claudia Dain began her writing career in seventh grade and instantly fell in love...with descriptive essays. She continued writing them and eventually attended the University of Southern California as an English major. She was first published in 2000, is a two-time RITA finalist, and a USA Today Bestselling author of over a dozen books. Her latest is the mass market release of THE COURTESAN'S WAGER, out April 6. She is also one of the ten lovely Goddesses over at The Goddess Blogs. Please help us welcome Goddess Claudia Dain to The Romance Dish!

I don't know if this is a secret or not, but some books are easier to write than others. You never know when you start if a book is going to fly out of you, laughing and carefree, or make you suffer the agony of death with every word choice. (You may think I'm exaggerating. I'm not.)

You also don't know if a book is going to stay easy just because it starts easy. Some books lull you into a sense of confidence only to turn on you like a snarling wolf at page 127. Suddenly, they turn hard, and you sweat to get the words on the page.

Books are tricky, tricky things.

What I've noticed is that you can't tell later on, once the blood has been spilt and bleached away, once the book is on the shelves, once the ink has long dried out and the pages faded. You can't tell which books were easy and which were hard. You can't tell which scenes flowed out in a magical torrent of words that you didn't even have to think about, and which scenes took forever to write.

I've had scenes that took me 30 minutes to write and others that took me 30 days. And you can't tell. One doesn't read strained and the other smooth. I'm convinced of that. I may be kidding myself, so you be the judge. There are two snippets of scenes below from The Courtesan's Wager, available April 1. One was easy, the other hard. I can remember which was which because I =never= forget agony in any form, but can you tell?

I'll mail an autographed copy of The Courtesan's Wager to one commenter (continental US only), whether you guessed right or not, because I really don't think you'll be able to tell, and what kind of rigged contest would that be?

Excerpt 1:
She was trapped within roses, could she not see that? She couldn't get away now, not even if he allowed it. Even so, he could not resist. He never could. He never had.

He raised his arms out toward her, and with his fingertips, he pushed against her shoulders. She stumbled back slightly, more fully wedged in rose petals, the thorns grabbing at the muslin, holding her fast, holding her deep within their embrace.

Embrace, yes, that was the word.

He moved forward, lifted her chin with a fingertip, gazed once more into her luminous eyes, and for what had to be the last time, what must be the last time, kissed her on the mouth. She opened beneath his lips like, yes, like a flower. Warm and moist and ready. And the kiss deepened and lengthened far beyond what he had intended, though he had intended none of this, and he fought the urge to pull her against him, but he kissed her still.

Kissed her amidst the roses.

Kissed her in the dark quiet of the conservatory.

Kissed her, knowing he would never be the man she wanted.

Excerpt 2:
Everyone stopped, turned, and stared at her. She couldn't have been happier. She was so very tired of everyone ignoring her at the first opportunity. Everyone except Cranleigh. If being slightly scandalous and forward was what was required to keep a man's interest, well then, that's what it required. There was little point in bemoaning the fact. She had suspected long ago, long before Cranleigh's first kiss, that men were little better than ravaging beasts. After Cranleigh's first kiss, and indeed upon all his subsequent kisses, she had known it for a fact.

Iveston looked down at her from his very compelling height, his brow furrowed in surprise. He glanced around the room almost negligently, smiled slightly at her, and said softly, "Perhaps the conservatory?"

Amelia swallowed firmly and answered, "Why not?"

The Courtesan's Wager by Claudia Dain

Lady Amelia is the daughter of a duke and, unlike her cousin Louisa, is not at all distracted by a rakish wit or a pair of seductive blue eyes. She is going to be a duchess, which means that she must marry a duke. In the three years that she's been out in Society, she has, to her complete dismay, not found a single duke who appears even slightly interested in her. Being a sharp girl of a very determined nature, Amelia cannot ignore that both Caroline and Louisa made very quick and very happy marriages. It was beyond obvious that Sophia Dalby had a firm hand in each match. Swallowing her considerable anxiety about approaching a former courtesan, Amelia asks Sophia for help in snagging a duke.

Sophia is delighted to help. But, as is becoming obvious to even the most casual observer, Amelia gets more than she anticipated from her alliance with Sophia. Will Amelia marry a duke, after all?

For more about Claudia and her books, please visit her website: http://www.claudiadain.com/


  1. Claudia,
    Thanks for leaving Mt. Oly and the other Goddesses long enough for a visit here. Both excerpts are great. I'm going to say the first was easy, the second hard, just because it seems counter-intuitive that way! (And I'm told Goddesses do behave that way.) I look forward to reading your book.

  2. Hi Claudia,

    I own your 1st two books of this series and although I bought them on the recommendation they were erotic romance novels (and they are not) I loved the main character Sophie and want to know more about her family (especially her American/Indian connection).

    As far as the excerpts, I'm not sure which one was more difficult to write...but I'm going to guess...the 1st one??? Because the 2nd one seems to flow a little smoother...but then again, that might be because if was more difficult to write???

    Looking forward to more of your novels involving Sophie and her manipulations.

    mitzihinkey at sbcglobal dot net

  3. Welcome to The Romance Dish, Claudia! We are very excited to have you spending the day with us.

    Though I do not write novels, I do write book reviews and can totally relate to your post. Some of the reviews seem to almost write themselves and others take days. I just hope my difficult ones appear as smooth as YOUR difficult ones!! :-)

    I'm guessing here, but I am going to say Excerpt 2 was the more difficult one.

    Thanks again for joining us today!

  4. Hey Claudia, my dear!

    I'm wondering how you view those pulling-teeth books later? Are you still thrilled to see them on the shelf, or is the glow ruined?

  5. Hi, Claudia! It's wonderful to have a goddess with us today. :-)

    Like Buffie, some of the reviews I write are incredibly easy, others I will agonize over for days.

    I'm going to say the opposite of everyone else and go with Excerpt 1 as the hardest.

  6. Greetings Goddess Claudia!

    I love the Courtesan books, and I'm looking forward to reading The Courtesan's Wager. I have no idea which of the two passages was easier to write. I'll guess the second just because the first seems likely to have required more conscious effort. Both are wonderful, but I have a particular fondness for great romantic kissing scenes, and Excerpt 1 certainly qualifies.

  7. Why, LSU, I am very counter-intuitive! How perceptive of you to notice! LOL

    Hmm, the first was easy...writing that down in my little book.

  8. I'm sorry for being late to the party today! I slept 10 hours last night and feel WONDERFUL today, so relaxed and refreshed.

  9. Oops, meant to say that I'll be revealing which scene was easy and which was hard later on today, so stay tuned!

  10. Oh, no, Mitzi! Definitely NOT erotic! LOL I'm so sorry, but glad you enjoyed them anyway.

    You can find out lots and lots about Sophia by reading all five books in the series (book 5 out in July) and the novella Private Places. Between all six sources, you'll have a lot of questions answered. I also have some info on my website, if you're interested.

    I'm so glad you were as fascinated by her as I am. She intrigues me; I love her!

  11. Buffie, so true, and I had never thought of that. Any kind of writing has to be either easy or hard. The thing that =kills= me is that you can never predict it. I like to live a predictable life. *g*

  12. Deb Marlowe, good question. The glow is definitely ruined, in a minor way. I never forget which books gave me trouble and I never really like them as much. One of them was a Rita finalist! I still don't have good feelings about that book. LOL

    Once the milk has soured...

  13. Gannon, thank you! It's so good to be here.

    Thank you for asking me!

  14. Janga, thank you. I'm so glad you like the Courtesan books. I've had a ball writing them.

  15. And Mitzi, if you have any questions for me today about Sophia and her American/Indian connections, please feel free to ask. Some things, not spoilers, I can reveal.

  16. I guess excerpt one. Because I think writing believable or "lose yourself in" love scenes (and the whole catching her in the thorns, et al, was a love scene of sorts) is harder.

    The other one reads like something that tripped gaily off the keyboard.

    (But maybe this is a reflection of what scenes I find tougher to write myself. I'd rather write stuff like excerpt 2 than excerpt 1. I'm more natural at it.)

  17. (I want to clarify that I thought excerpt one was harder to write; and excerpt two was easier. I didn't pay too close attention to the question. Clearly I didn't do well on exams as you might surmise.)

  18. Claudia said . . . I like to live a predictable life.

    Me too, Claudia!! I always have a plan of how the day will go in my head the moment I get up. And if anything causes that plan to derail, I really don't like it. :-)

  19. MsHellion, I was with you all the way, no confusion at all. Did I write a trick question? Oops, I didn't mean to.

    I used to think, or at least it was true for me, that certain kinds of scenes were harder than others. That's not true for me anymore. I don't know why. I'm not even sure if it ever was true, not quite trusting my memory of things. For me, some scenes give me trouble (and some books) and others don't. It's not predictable in ANY WAY. And I hate that.

    Hate, hate, hate.

  20. Buffie, I'm the same way. You'd think I'd learn to be adjustable, given that my days so rarely go as planned. But I'm not a go-with-the-flow type, except when I'm on vacation, then I don't care what happens. I have no agenda. It's like I'm a different person (which my husband has pointed out to me numerous times...hmm).

  21. Hi Claudia!

    Certain things I write are easier than others. I don't write romance novels, but I am in college and I have to write papers. I'd have to say that writing stories and research papers are easier for me than writing essays. I think too much when I write an essay and it takes me a lot longer to get it finished. I can write a research paper the night before and it can be a decent paper. Essays, not so much.

    I'm gonna say Excerpt 1 was more difficult.

  22. Hi Claudia! Thanks for being with us today. I'm going to say #1 was easy and #2 was hard.

    Btw, I loved that scene where she was trapped in the roses!

  23. Hi Claudia.
    The new book sounds H-O-T! Can not wait to read it!
    I think the second scene was the hardest to write. The imagery in the first is so clear that I feel like it just came to you and then flowed from there.

  24. It's not predictable in ANY WAY. And I hate that.

    But that's the charm of writing. Isn't that why most of us write? To see what's going to happen next? Even if you're a planner-plotter, it's not until you're writing the scene that it's fully realized. There are some surprises left.

  25. Hi Claudia,
    I've been hearing a lot of good things about your books. ^^ I think the first scene was the hardest the write since it seems the most thoughtful in terms of word structure between the two. ^^


  26. TrishM, that is so weird! I would have thought that research papers would take longer. It just goes to show that you never can predict.

  27. PJ, thank you! I think it's such a romantic scene, such broiling sensuality. ;) I guess I'm allowed to say that about my own writing...I hope.

  28. Cyndi, thanks! I hope you like it.

    I'm still tallying the votes...

  29. Melissa, yay on hearing good things! Better than hearing bad things. Or nothing. *shudder* That would be the worst.

  30. At 5PM EST I'll be revealing which scene was easy and which was Too Much Work.

    I'll also have my husband choose the winner in a completely random manner.

    Check back in and the mystery will be SOLVED.

  31. I'm guessing #2 -- not sure why as the writing in both sound fab. Hopefully knowing that when it's all done and the book is in the stores, and you're bringing pleasure to tons of readers makes all the heartache, headaches, other related aches worth while. I could never do what you do, but sure am glad every time I escape into a wonderful romance that you and your follow authors do. :)

  32. Gami, I do hope I'm bringing joy to readers---for me, that's the whole point. It's what I'm thinking as I'm strangling the book in my dreams.

    The problem is, the book is usually stronger than I am and hits me back!

    Bad book! Down, book! Down!

  33. Claudia said But I'm not a go-with-the-flow type, except when I'm on vacation, then I don't care what happens. I have no agenda. It's like I'm a different person (which my husband has pointed out to me numerous times...hmm).

    WOW, Claudia, are you my long lost sister??!!! We sounds SO much alike.

  34. Buffie, sister!! For my birthday, jewelry is always a great gift.



    Excerpt 1 was easy.

    Excerpt 2 wasn't.

    Honestly, I felt like I wrote the 1st scene (and it's quite long in the book, pages and pages) in a daze. It just fell out of me. I remember writing every word of scene two, a much shorter scene. Remembering every word is Not A Good Thing. *G*

  36. Claudia, can I gloat for a moment. *vbg* I just knew that first scene was easier--it is so vivid, and , at least for me, when an image is that strong the rest just seems to follow easily.
    Okay done gloating, now looking forward to getting my hands and eyes on this book!

  37. And the winner is...

    Melissa! (jedisakora)

    Congrats, Melissa. If you'll go to my website (claudiadain.com) and send me an email with your home address (continental US only), I'll mail the book off to you next week.

    Thanks, girls! It's been great fun today. I've really enjoyed spending time with you.

    This is a great blog! Thank you for inviting me.

  38. Cyndi, gloat away. *G* Winning feels soooo good, doesn't it?

  39. YAY! I was right too!! :P

    Congrats, Melissa!!!

  40. Claudia, thank you so much for spending the day here. We have so enjoyed having you with us.

    Can't wait to meet you in Nashville! You'll be there, right?

  41. Buffie, sister!! For my birthday, jewelry is always a great gift.

    Of course, dearest sister, just as long as it is reciprocated. :0

  42. Hey! TICD is hanging out with the Dishies today! :> Claudia, I'm putting money on #2 being the one that was most difficult.

    Just popping in briefly from the Romance Bandits Lair to say hi! I missed Christie yesterday so I figured I'd at least say hello to YOU! Grins.

  43. Hey, Claudia! Sorry I'm late to the party. Tuesdays are always so busy because it's my husband's only weekday off and we try to do everything we need to then. And it's so beautiful out!!

    I agree with Buffie and Gannon that some reviews are more difficult to write than others. Some write themselves almost! I'm currently helping my son write a book report on Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. I enjoy book reports and we LOVED the book, but it's a bit difficult to write because there is so much that happened in it! Luckily, he's only in fourth grade so it doesn't have to be too detailed.*g*

    I would have said the first one was harder and I would have been wrong!! LOL

  44. I'm guessing #2 was hard and #1 was easy. But you're right, it is impossible to tell!

  45. Congrats, Melissa!

    Claudia, thanks so much for being with us today. It was a blast!

  46. Yes, I will be in Nashville! Can't wait.

  47. I think Excerpt 1 took 30 minutes and Excerpt 2 took 30 days. Excerpt 1 seems like the type of scene that comes unexpectedly and just flows. Excerpt 2 it the type you need for set-up.
    Hope there is some way for you to let us all know the answer to this question.
    Have enjoyed your books. I look forward to reading this one.

  48. I thinkk excerpt #1 was the harder of the two. But definitely very difficult to tell.