View Full Version : Help me decide!

Cathy C
12-09-2005, 02:50 AM
Okay, as promised, this thread will give thumbnail sketches of some upcoming projects my co-author and I have worked out (just the stand-alones). Help me decide which one to write! Now, for this first one, I'm leaving out the name of the heroine. Presently, the heroine's name DOES NOT EXIST in any geneological record I've found, and I'd like to keep it that way... ;) <g>


#1 - Working Title: What’s in a Name?

Genre: Dark Paranormal Romance OR Paranormal Chick-lit Romance

Setting: Current time, Nevada desert

Heroine: Eu**** Christina "Tina" Longstreet. Tina Longstreet is the manager of a small chain bookstore in the Tumya, Nevada mall. She is 28, average height and weight and pretty, but not gorgeous. She has dark hair which she recently cut very short and has pale green eyes. Her dream has been to run a major city library, but nobody will hire her. Unfortunately, man trouble follows Tina, and she can’t understand why. Men constantly fight to date her — literally. Bar brawls start when she walks in for a drink, men challenge each other to duels while she’s grocery shopping and, while she does nothing to provoke it, she has been the cause of many a marriage break-up.

Hero: Eadger William "Bill" Lather. The hero is an aspiring author who works for a major book distributor that supplies the heroine’s chain bookstore. He is approximately 30, with medium brown hair and hazel eyes. He is very attracted to the heroine, but feels he has no chance due to all of the men surrounding her all the time, so he very pointedly pretends to not be interested. This does not go unnoticed by her. She presumes that he must be gay, but finds talking to him refreshing because he treats her like a real person, unlike the handsome, determined men who try to woo her in all manner of dark corners. Bill is the first man that Tina would like to get in a dark corner.

Storyline: What Tina doesn’t know is that her first name, "Eu****" is a cursed name. Back in 1066, her ancestor, Eu**** Longstreet, was sought after by a man with actual magical powers. When she spurned him in favor of "playing the field," he placed upon her a curse so powerful that it followed anyone who would ever bear the name. He vowed that all men would fall in such powerful love with her that they would fight each other to the death just to speak her name, so that she would never have any man she wanted. The only way to remove the curse would be to die or to fall in love with the wizard. Eu**** killed herself to spite him. The family removed any mention of her story from the family history after several other descendants suffered the same fate. When other families began to have the same trouble with girls being fought over, the King ordered the name removed from all historical records. That is, until Tina’s mother discovered it in a family bible while pregnant. The situation has been getting worse as Tina nears the age her ancestor was when the curse was placed. Men constantly follow her, starting fights with each other. When she finally gives in to Bill’s charms and they make love, the situation comes to a head, as all of the men in town descend on the pair, trying to kill them both.

Sexuality Level: High Sensuality, R-rated sex, sexual tension

Resolution: As a dark paranormal romance, the resolution will be to have them escape and race to find a counterspell. Afterward, they will wind up together.

As a paranormal chick-lit, the resolution is to have a series of comedic duels where each of them are having outrageous battles to save each other. In one scenario, Tina is "killed" by a sword, but Bill brings her back to life with CPR. When she died, the curse was ended and they could have their HEA.

Series Potential: None. Stand-alone novel.


Okay, that's possibility #1. What thinkest thou? :)

12-09-2005, 03:41 AM
Here's some off-the-cuff comments and questions from someone who normally doesn't read genre romance.

-The story has some interesting ideas. You've piqued my interest. However, I do like it better as a dark romance than as a comedy. It would be a romance with fantasy elements. According to how it's written, it could almost be described as mainstream fiction.

-How are the two going to discover the long-forgotten curse? It seems that the search for the reason behind Tina's unexplainable allure would make a good subplot, or a good sequence for the first part of the middle of the book.

-Not that you asked for it, but here's one idea for a title: The Name of the Beloved.

-You only gave a general idea of Bill in your synopsis. I assume you're going to make him more than just Tina's helpful and protective tagalong boyfriend. I think it might be interesting if Bill has his own dark secret(s) or strange past -- but avoid the obvious of there being a curse on Bill as well, which we only find out about at the end.

-The only part of the story as you described it that I personally didn't care for was the part about everyone wanting to kill the two. As a comedy, that would be okay but as a dark romance I think it needs something more mysterious, more sinister, darker.

-I hope you're planning on putting the desert setting to good use. There could be scenes under the star-filled, lonely nights, or mirages (what do they mean?), or even a wild horse or Indian medicine man (I'm not sure what the currect PC title for someone like that is) that becomes part of the plot.

Anyway, those were just my thoughts. Good luck with whatever you decide.


12-09-2005, 03:45 AM
First, let me say that I don't give a flying furball what colors a character's hair and eyes are. The romance novels I've seen make way too much of that.

I think your idea has plenty of potential as a humorous paranormal, in a Terry Pratchettesque sort of way. Of course, anyone with a name like Eu**** can expect to have a funny life. (Oops, there I go again.)

The cursed name must have descended through the male line, right? Women with the name, and therefore the curse, wouldn't have had children.

Maybe the couple can invent a counterspell or ritual to undo the curse. This process could provide a basis for humor as they study old books (tie in: she wants to be a librarian) and try different things, increasingly absurd things, and fail until they get it right.

If undoing the curse comes with some minor chronic disadvantage, like a side effect, that would be a nice touch. Maybe birds start following her around... It seems that way to me, anyway, for reasons of esthetic balance.

Cathy C
12-09-2005, 04:14 AM
Thanks, guys! Oh, yeah -- the characters will be fleshed out much more. These are just thumbnails, basic concepts that will be developed much more fully.

I'm really torn between the dark and light for JUST the reasons you both mention. I think I could write it either way and have it work. It just sort of depends on my frame of mind when I write it. (LOVE the birds comment, reph, if I go with chick-lit! LOL!)

Okay, here's idea #2, to compare and contrast:


Working Title: Chasing Darkness

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Setting: Current world and time, major city

Hero: Russell Hobbs - Russ is an inner-city cop. He spends most of his shifts tracking down small-time drug dealers and keeping the peace in a near war-zone. At 6' and 200 pounds, he’s got the bulk to manhandle most of the punks he deals with, and stays in shape by martial arts and long hours in the weight room off-duty. He’s pretty much married to his job, and has never given a second glance at his partner, Max, despite the looks she gets from the other men in the squad house. She’s a good cop and that’s all he cares about. He’s seen some strange things in the line of duty, and doesn’t actively disbelieve in the paranormal. But nothing like what he’s about to see has ever come up.

Heroine(half): Darlene ("Max") Maxwell - Max is just like Russ. She has spent the better part of her life since graduating from the academy ten years ago on the streets in uniform. Even though men bite their lips at her dynamite figure, auburn hair and deep green eyes, her idea of a sultry night in bed is curling up with a weapons product catalogue and a box of chocolates. But when they respond to a hostage situation downtown, and she confronts the assailant, she realizes that the gunman, once a sweet, simple man who she’d known for years, has been transformed. The man she knew isn’t inside the eyes of the person behind the gun. She knows she’s going to die. But in her final seconds in the ER, with her panicked partner looking down at her, another offers to help. The spirit that enters her consciousness can’t save her life, but she can possibly bring her killer to justice. Max need only cooperate and give up rights to her body.

Heroine(half): Emma - Emma is a non-corporal being who has been chasing a body-possessing evil spirit through the ages. She’s nearly forgotten why or when she started to chase "Darkness." She has been many women, in many times and works hard to assume the life of the person who she takes without notice, so she can continue her quest.

Storyline: Emma’s foe has been any number of serial killers through the centuries, from Jack the Ripper to Ted Bundy and beyond. He slides into bodies just as they die, and then commits terrible acts in the guise of the dead person, leaving the body in as violent a manner as possible, in order to claim another body and continue his reign of terror and death. Emma has been chasing Darkness in the same way, moving from body to body, trying to stop the madness. When she tracks Darkness to the body of a gang-banger in the ER, she realizes that only Max is close enough to death to inhabit. She also discovers that she’s happened upon the one body that might actually accomplish her goal at last – as a trained police officer, with the skill and resources of the position, she can track Darkness down and lock him away before the person can die. But she doesn’t expect to be attracted to Max’s partner, Russ, nor he to her. For the first time since she died centuries ago, she might have a chance at a real life – all she has to do is let Darkness get away, just once.

Resolution: Russ learns that Max is no longer truly "Max" and realizes that Emma might very well slip away from him just after they’ve discovered each other. He nearly sacrifices himself in order to capture Darkness without any violence, so he can spend the rest of his existence in a padded cell, far from danger – the ultimate revenge on the killing entity.

Sexuality Level: High Sensuality, R-rated sex, sexual tension
Series Potential: None. Stand alone novel.


Feel free to comment at will! :D

12-09-2005, 08:22 AM
Well, I'm not going to recommend that you do that one as a humor work.

The HEA isn't there. Isn't it required in romances? Maybe you have a different genre here.

Sp.: "noncorporeal."

I don't think I understand how Darkness operates. Specifically, you say it inhabits a body just before death and does its vicious deeds, and it's been many serial killers. However, a serial killer is the same person committing multiple murders over a long time, and that person dies only once.

More questions about the plot. I miss some of its logic. We first meet Darkness when it's possessing the gunman downtown, but is he dying? Isn't he healthy at that point? Then, by the time the scene shifts to the ER, Darkness has moved to a gang-banger; presumably his injuries are fatal. But Emma realizes only Max is close enough to death to inhabit. Does that mean Max is dying faster than the gang-banger? (Why can't Emma enter the GB and confront Darkness directly?) When the GB expires, Emma is inside Max, keeping her in a quasi-alive state, right? Or does Darkness keep the GB from apparently dying, too? Why would Emma have to let Darkness get away in order to continue to live as Max and pursue the relationship with Russ?

This isn't the kind of book I'd choose to read. No reflection on it, I'm just saying the one you outlined first suits my tastes better. Fans of grim paranormal could give better opinions.

12-09-2005, 08:44 AM
Ok, I like both ideas.
On the first, I'd definitely like it more as a dark paranormal romance. Sounds like a great plot.
The second can still have an emotionally satisfying ending after a strugle and unique resolution. What's great about that one, is it sounds like the reader would be fretting the whole time, wondering IF...She can't let Darkness get away, she can't let her one true love be lost to her forever, yet she can't have both...or can she???

To pick my favorite is difficult. The more I think about the second one, the more I like it, though initially, I would have chose the first one. They both sound great. I've read hundreds of romance/suspense/paranormal books, and I'd pick up either one of these with the same basic blurbs, so either way, I don't think you can lose.

clara bow
12-09-2005, 10:31 AM
My level of engagement was stronger with the first idea. I really liked the idea of the curse, and to second the feedback above, the heroine should definitely utilize her research skills to uncover the counterspell or whatever. Maybe she has access to special caches of books, or through her network (like a Lone Gunmen type of idea) she obtains access, but of course not without additional obstacles to mix it up! Also, wouldn't she have to rely mostly on female allies, as most men in her path would end up wanting to fight over her? Maybe there needs to be a limit on the curse that she discovers (e.g., men of a certain age or appearance, or the heroine says something to trigger it). What is it about Bill that makes him immune to the curse? Is there a loophole that holds the secret to counteracting it?

The idea of men fighting over her everywhere--sorry, but it struck me as cartoonish. If you wanted to make this a humorous paranormal, then fine, but make it really light and frothy...campy even. Laugh out loud funny to overcome the potentially eye-rolling moments that would happen whenever a fight broke out. What might take me out of the story is wondering, why aren't all these fights attracting the attention of the police? If it's tongue in cheek, I'd forgive it, but a story like that delivered on the straight and narrow would seriously threaten the willing suspension of disbelief. Especially if "all the men in town" descend upon her and Bill. How do they know they consummated the relationship? Again, I think this points to a need to place certain limits on the curse so it's believable vs. all consuming.

The idea itself of the men fighting over her is okay...my personal taste (but I like things dark and gritty and graphic) would be geared toward making these fights very sinister but on the down low. Maybe the heroine finds dead bodies across her path, the result of these fights, or around the bookstore, etc. Make the curse strong enough to instill vicious territoriality in these men, but have them still be prudent enough to avoid the attention of the police. After all, each believes he will defeat the opponent and win the heroine. He doesn't want the cops chasing him after the murder! Maybe the curse makes men come on so strongly it borders on rape, but then she is saved by yet another opponent who starts yet another fight. Then it becomes a vicious, tragic cycle. Bill and Tina can go on the run, trying to undo the curse, avoid further harm, yet also be in the throes of passion, unable to keep their hands off of each other as their new relationship ignites (ignore those cliches behind the curtain!). Plus, maybe Tina worries that Bill will be killed prematurely, and wants to be with him as much as possible whenever doubts arise as to their ability to surmount the curse's obstacles.

Overall, I think the idea for the first book sounds much, much tighter and will lend itself to snappy marketing hooks.

12-09-2005, 12:51 PM
Maybe the heroine finds dead bodies across her path, the result of these fights, or around the bookstore, etc.
If the fights are that serious, it'll be hard to keep the tone light and comic.

Cathy C
12-09-2005, 07:31 PM
You all bring up good questions about the plot. Of course, I'm not quite far enough into any of the worlds to answer them individually, but they're definitely food for thought! Thanks! Again, the first one hinges on whether it's done as light or dark. If light -- no dead bodies, and comedic, flamboyant duels. If dark -- sinister plans and dead bodies works well. No mixing the two, obviously!

Okay, here's the third and final one! How does this one grab you?


Working Title: Blue Lights

Genre: Paranormal Romance OR Science Fiction Romance

Setting: Current Time, Pueblo, Colorado

Hero: Ramon Santos is a disillusioned FBI agent who formerly lived in Pueblo and has been assigned to "quickly review" a case file while on vacation attending his grown daughter’s wedding. A federal employee of the Department of Transportation was killed in a train accident at the Transportation Technology Center outside the city. This actual facility is a joint operation between the Association of American Railroads and the DOT, where new railroad components are developed. (Note: I grew up in Pueblo, and used to work at the TTC, so descriptions will be very detailed.)

Heroine: Destina "Tina" Marquez is an assistant coroner in Denver, who is filling in for the coroner in Pueblo, in hopes that she will get permanently assigned to the position when the older man retires. She comes from a family of women with psychic talent, and grew up in Pueblo. She and Ramon were friends in high school. They were attracted to each other, but dated and married other people. The marriages didn’t work out, and they always wondered what might have happened if they’d chosen differently.

Storyline: The story surrounds a REAL paranormal phenomenon in Pueblo called Blue Lights, which for the purpose of the story, can EITHER BE explained to be a computer of alien or future origin, OR ghosts of dead war soldiers. Nobody knows its origin or purpose, but many residents swear they have seen it floating above the city — a triangle of three bright blue lights that appear and disappear before important things happen. Pueblo is also the actual home of the Pueblo Depot Activity, a compound of the U.S. Army where chemical weapons from bygone wars are stored pending disposal. An incinerator to dispose of the mustard gas, dioxin and other dangerous chemicals is in the planning stages. Presently, the issue is whether to construct a high temperature or low temperature incinerator. Blue Lights is a sentient entity, regardless of the nature of it, and realizes that the low temperature plant which has been constructed will not destroy the chemicals, but will instead mutate them, causing massive death over most of North America. It determines that many lives could be saved by creating circumstances to bring people to the location who can solve the problem, and realizes it can communicate directly with humans for the first time in decades, through Tina’s psychic talent. Ramon doesn't really believe in the paranormal, but knows that Tina was always prone to "woo-woo" psychic moments (whether or not he actually believed it was real), so when she is adament that something bad is happening, he finally comes around and agrees to investigate. The pair are drawn to the incinerator, and to each other, as they come closer and closer to the truth.

Sexuality Level: High Sensuality, R-rated sex, high sexual tension

Resolution: Tina finally realizes that Blue Lights is the one feeding her the visions, and when she finally learns how to contact the entity, they discover the disaster about to occur. They manage to stop the plant in time (very action/adventure-ish) to prevent the release of the toxin. They come to realize that they might be able to make it as a couple, because they’d both grown up in the time since high school. She attends Ramon’s daughter’s wedding on his arm, and he decides to transfer to the Denver office of the FBI, so they can be together.

Series Potential: None. Stand-alone novel.


Okay, that's the last one! Which one do you guys like the best? Thanks for your input so far, too! It's been a lot of fun to think about some of your questions. :)

clara bow
12-09-2005, 09:15 PM
The ideas for Blue Lights comes across as more sophisticated, which I like, but also a little dry. My first impression is that the plot basically consists of a benign entity trying to warn us humans about an impending disaster, if only one of them, a psychic, will listen. The obstacles seem almost too easy to overcome, at least in terms of how the plot is presented above. There doesn't seem to be much conflict or obstacles. There's potential here to set up a kind of sexually charged Mulder/Scully relationship, especially if Ramon and Tina are working together in such a professional capacity that they can't immediately get together, but the growing attraction creates major er, distraction for them. I'm sure you'd be teasing all of that out in the writing of it, but my humble opinion is that the *basic* plot outline needs more punch.

Without any other added info, I still like the first idea best, and Blue Lights second.

12-09-2005, 10:27 PM
I'd rank them as clara did: first one #1, third one #2.

The Blue Lights entity is treated as a character, right? I have a question about its motivation. In your proposed book, it wants to prevent a particular disaster. What does it want the rest of the time, before the book starts, that's kept it hanging around Pueblo? Was it lurking there in case people developed a flawed plan for disposing of the toxins?

If BL is made of veterans' ghosts, let some of them have served in the Army Corps of Engineers. Plausibility. That way they'll have the expertise to evaluate the incinerator plan. But then why don't the current engineers see the problem?

12-09-2005, 10:42 PM
Setting: Current Time, Pueblo, Colorado

OMG!!! That's where I grew up!

I lived there until a year ago when my husband was transfered out here. Sorry to say, I've never seen the blue lights myself. I guess I really like this one because of personal interest, but I still like all the ideas, which I know isn't helpful. Though against popular opinion, I still like the second because of the duel conflicts...lots of emotion in that one and sets the stage for an interesting twist. Then I reread the other two and I can't say which out of the three I think would make the best book. I really think no matter which one you choose, you'll be fine.

12-10-2005, 01:01 AM
My personal preference is the 3rd one and then the 1st one. Blue Lights really intrigued me as I'm a closet Sci-fi fan. To avoid easily overcome obstacles in the 3rd story, I envision the Army severely hindering the investigation. Something like Stargate SG-1 on the flipside. Where the emphasis is on the Air Force trying to help and they have issues with Washington? Well, I see the bigwigs of the Army wanting to keep the plans for the incinerator debate as hush-hush as possible. (Seriously, wide spread panic would ensue if the public knew the military wanted to burn mustard gas and other chemical hazards)

The 1st one came across as comical. I'm picturing the heroine walking outside, waving to a couple gentlemen she knows, they wave back, glance at each other and start brawling, followed by her sighing and carrying on down the street. LOL. It has a lot of potential, but the only thing that made me raise an eyebrow while reading your summary was how Bill could revive her through CPR if she was killed by a sword. That made me scratch my head, I'm afraid. As just a thought, (please feel free to tell me to shut up at any time) one person asked how Bill could be immune to the curse. I have two scenarios that might explain it. 1) Bill is a descendant of some sort to the wizard (or the wizard himself in reincarnation). He would be clueless to this of course and it might aid in them uncovering the truth of the curse. 2) Bill has some tie to the man Tina's ancestor was truly in love with. The whole, to make right what once went wrong. (Totally stole that line from Quantum Leap, sorry)

Those are just my thoughts on it. I'm sure you'll do a fantastic job with whatever one you decide.

Cathy C
12-10-2005, 01:05 AM
OMG!!! That's where I grew up!
You did?! Too funny! :D I lived there until I was 19, when I moved to the western slope. What section of town did you live in? I was out in the county, in Blende and went to County High.

There's potential here to set up a kind of sexually charged Mulder/Scully relationship,

:ROFL: Good guess, clara! This book was originally written as an X-Files tie-in novel! Unfortunately, the publisher of the tie-in novels stopped publishing them, so it went back in the cabinet. But the plot is strong enough that our agent asked us to re-write it as a stand alone.

Obviously, these being thumbnail sketches, no subplots are mentioned at all, so yeah -- they all tend to seem rather drab and dry. But rest assured that there are quite a few in each story -- we actually write really crowded novels that are somewhat dizzying, roller-coaster rides.

The Blue Lights entity is treated as a character, right?

Yes, but probably not with a POV. The motivations will be more thoroughly discussed through Tina's psychic link.

12-10-2005, 01:29 AM
You did?! Too funny! :D I lived there until I was 19, when I moved to the western slope. What section of town did you live in? I was out in the county, in Blende and went to County High.
For most of my life I lived in the Rye and Colorado City area, and of course Pueblo is the closest town. Then later we moved to Pueblo West and lived there for a while. My mom still lives in Blende, kind of...the Mesa area.

Cathy C
12-10-2005, 01:36 AM
My mom still lives in Blende, kind of...the Mesa area.

Hahahaha! :ROFL: That's WHY I said Blende, because nobody knows where Mesa is! I grew up off of 25th Lane, and my Mom worked for the Greenhorn Valley News in Colorado City, selling ads, for many years! REALLY small world! :)

12-10-2005, 06:30 AM
Further thoughts on Idea #1.

The fights don't have to be physical. If you go for the comic angle and want to keep it light, you can have two candidates for a local office get interested in the woman. (Sorry, I forgot her name.) Both of them phone her and show up at her door, asking for her vote as candidates do, except they bring flowers and bottles of wine. They send gifts. In speeches and public appearances, as they fall deeper in love, they slander each other more and more. The voters, disgusted with the mudslinging, elect a write-in candidate.

Two merchants have stores of the same kind on opposite sides of Main Street. They sell something the woman uses, maybe clothing or shoes, maybe something she collects. To draw her into their stores, they outdo each other with deeper discounts. At last they give away their stock and go bankrupt.

Two men in some other situation that allows an escalation of rivalry...