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I write contemporary category romances. They’re short. They’re intense. And they’re sexy. But each new book needs new plot and I’m always looking for suggestions as well as inspiration. Some of my best research and freshest ideas have come from:
1) People Magazine (especially the annual issue of “Sexiest Men”)
Writing for Harlequin Presents I revel in the Alpha Male, particularly the International Alpha Male. For great faces, not to mention lots of attitude I love the “heroes” featured in People (i.e. “Hottest Import from Chile”…”Sexiest Internet Mogul”…”Sexiest Philanthropist”…you get the picture).
2) The Wallstreet Journal, particularly Friday’s Weekend section
My first Presents, The Italian Groom, features an Italian vintner living in Napa Valley. The Wallstreet Journal not only gave me my information on the Northern California grape industry, but it also introduced me to a grape blight, the Napa social scene and a small winery’s expected profit margin.
3) Sports Illustrated
Okay, call me a magazine junkie, but I swear by the in-depth athlete profiles featured at the back of each issue. The articles are beautifully written, moving, and insightful. I’ve learned a lot about tough men, loving men, and broken men. These guys, nearly all Alpha males, dream big. They’re not perfect but oh, how they try.
4) National Geographic
This wonderful magazine isn’t just for grandmothers! I love my subscription to National Geographic for the photo essays on different cultures and places. For The Sheikh’s Bride and my current work in progress, In Dante’s Debt, I’ve relied on National Geographic articles to help flesh out my research and visual description.
5) Other Great Magazines
Smithsonian Magazine, Gourmet, GQ, Architectural Digest, and Travel & Leisure are all wonderful resources for everything from fashion trends, hot travel spots, market forecasts, to profiles on successful entrepreneurs. Whenever I read something interesting, I tear the article out and save in a “Presents File” for future reference. It’s amazing the number of times I’ve gone to that file and found just the thing I needed–last time it was on a rare sports car, and before that it was a feature on Portofino, a resort town on the Italian coast.
6) Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association Website
Don’t know the PRCA? Then you’re probably not a fan of cowboy romances, but the PRCA website introduced me to real-life bronc riders and bull-riders. It taught me how the titles are won, the importance of the different events, the constant change in standings, not to mention the annual big event in Las Vegas.
The website’s worth a look just to get to know amazing cowboys like world champ Ty Murray who is young, handsome, and so dang decent you want him to keep on winning. Although I’m not writing cowboy heroes right now, I haven’t given up on them and enjoy visiting the website to stay informed.
7) Reading Books!
Last source of inspiration? Just reading– non-fiction, new fiction, classic fiction–I rediscover the power of language, the conflict within ourselves, and the stories I want to tell.