Thursday, August 5, 2010

PNR Week Guest Post by Monica Burns would like to welcome Monica Burns to the blog. Monica is the talented mind behind the Sicari Series from Berkley Sensation, one of the hottest Paranormal Romances that I've read.

An award-winning author of erotic romance, Monica Burns penned her first short romance story at the age of nine when she selected the pseudonym she uses today. From the days when she hid her stories from her sisters to her first completed full-length manuscript, she always believed in her dream despite rejections and setbacks. A workaholic wife and mother, Monica believes it’s possible for the good guy to win if they work hard enough.

Join us in giving a warm welcome to Monica Burns.  

When I first started to write my Sicari series in June of 2005, I started out with the snippet of a story—five pages actually. It was a scene between a Roman general and his wife. It was a sensual, steamy read, and it didn’t even come close to being a paranormal. It was a historical. And not just a normal historical, but an ancient Roman historical. In brief. NO SELL.

But I held onto that snippet because I loved it. I loved the chemistry the couple had, and I didn’t want to give them up. When I first started to develop the Order of the Sicari, it started out as something completely different than what it became. The Sicari actually started out as a slave race from Atlantis who were responsible for the sinking of that ancient city. My agent nixed it and I started from scratch again.

The Sicari arose from the ashes of that doomed proposal, and from there Assassin’s Honor was developed. When I contracted with Berkley for the series, I’d not even completed Assassin’s Honor, and I had a couple of problems. A) This was my first paranormal series B) I didn’t know where the series was going and C) I had a deadline of five months for the first book.

Assassin's HonorI’d only had one other deadline before, but that was for a historical novella. Writing isn’t easy, but it’s easier to write a story in a world you’re comfortable with (Victorian era) as opposed to a paranormal/urban fantasy that you’re still learning about. As a pantser (a writer who doesn’t plot out the story, we just write it), I had to navigate some rocky waters in the series. When I finished the Assassin’s Honor, I wasn’t sure what I was going to do for the next book. I knew I wanted to tell Lysander and Phae’s story, but I didn’t have a clue as to WHAT their story was. Worse, I had less than two months to develop a proposal and hope that my editor would accept it. Then I remembered my Roman General and his wife. BAM! It was a lightning strike, and I realized I had my background for the Sicari Order staring me right in the face.

But how to tie the past and the present together? I’m a firm believer in past lives, and I thought using the premise of past lives was a good way to tie Lysander and Phae’s story directly to my ancient Roman couple. I’d always had a vision about the Roman general and how he’d suffered a terrible injury to his face. Subconsciously, I’d made Lysander scarred in Assassin’s Honor just like my Roman general, and it still amazes me that I made that connection without planning it. Well, at least not consciously planning it.

That’s what I love about writing and being a pantser. A lot of times, I’ll be working on a story, and I’ll write a scene that has me going WOW, how did I know way back on page 65 that I was going to need this character to be/do/say this on page 295? It’s what I love the most about writing. I don’t plan things so much as they just happen. I get these little moments of revelation that my subconscious has been guiding me all along, I just didn’t know it. It’s actually a lot like being a reader and having one of those OMG moments when something unexpected happens!

Assassin's HeartI believe in things happening for a reason (go figure since I believe in past lives and destiny LOL). For Lysander and Phae, I think my subconscious had their story all planned out when I first wrote that brief snippet five years ago this past June. Now that the world is established, I’m finding new facets of the world and its inhabitants. I love my Sicari, and I love how each story evolves into something bigger than I expected. For example, I’m currently working on Cleo and Dante’s story. In the third book, I’m exploring the Sicari Lords and who they are and how they fit in this world.

So exactly what am I saying in this rambling post? Just this. Some stories just happen. They’re not plotted out, they just write themselves. For the most part, Assassin’s Heart wrote itself. I only had trouble toward the end pulling all the pieces together. It was a difficult book to write and yet an easy one to get on the page. While the book is NOT my baby, it’s got a small piece of my heart, and I’m hoping it will grab a small piece of readers’ hearts as well.

How many books have you read that have captured your heart and stuck with you? What was it about the book you read that rang true for you?


jeanette8042 said...

I've read several books that have captured my heart and one of them is Mercury's War by Lora Leigh. There were really deep emotions and the ability to relate to the characters and hardships/events.

Monica Burns said...

Hi Jeanette,

Isn't Lora Leigh fab! I'm so excited that I've been invited to her event in Sep.

Jane Eyre is a book that's stayed with me since I first read it as a teenager. It just sang to me.

ParaJunkee said...

I hate to say this, showing my dorkier side - but a book that rang so deep that I cried for hours while reading it was, Where The Red Ferns Grow. I was just a child when I read it, but I think the deep emotions that the book brought out made me fall in love with reading. I already enjoyed it, but that one showed me that the book can actually become a part of me.

Monica Burns said...

ParaJunkee...I've heard of the book, but can't remember it. Probably read it, just don't remember and probably because reading is personal in how a book affects a reader. Jane Eyre affects me on a visceral level from Edward's POV. I feel I am him with all my drama queen antics. LOL

Emily said...

That's the kind of experience I had while reading Masked by Moonlight by Nancy Gideon- I'm so enamored with the characters that I can't wait for their HEA, especially in light of the conflicts between them (a mobster and a cop definitely have a tough row to hoe, that's for sure.)

In terms of YA literature, Kristen Cashore knows just how to yank on my heart strings. Graceling and Fire both grabbed me by the nose on the first page and didn't let go until the end. Such excellent books, waiting for the next one is so hard!

I'm going to confess a romance reader sin here, though....I've never read Jane Eyre. There I said it!

Jerrie Alexander said...

Mine has to be True Colors by Kristin Hannah. Her husband had been wrongfully sent to prison...mine hasn't :)and when he gets out he surprises her. was tender and touching and real. It's one of my keepers.

Monica Burns said...

Emily -- *thud* Never read Jane Eyre! Oy! If you love angst, this book is for you. I won't paint a pretty picture, it's first person point of view, and it has a lot of narrative, but the story is so incredibly awesome. I highly recommend it. Edward is the quintessential hero, IMHO.

Monica Burns said...


Not read that book. Isn't it amazing how many books there are and how little time we have to read them? I think I could read two books a day and never read all the ones I want to read. Hell, my research books alone go neglected half the time. *sigh*

DforDarla's Definite Reads said...

It's not really books that have captured my heart, but characters. I fall in love with these characters and it makes the book stick with me forever.

Monica Burns said...

Darla, Now why didn't I consider it from that perspective. Dain, Lord of Scoundrels is one of the few heroes I can remember that really sticks out at me. I'll have to rethink things maybe!

Nicole said...

I just wanted to drop in and tell you how much I love your covers!

Monica Burns said...

Awww, thank you Nicole. The artists at Berkley do a fantastic job giving 2die4 covers. I've loved them all. My cover for my March historical is awesome! The only thing it's missing is the scarf for the tie me up scene. LOL

Alice said...

The Kushiel Legacy books (especially the first three) by Jacqueline Carey. I truly love the story of Phedre and Joscline and I think Carey does a spectacular job of historical fantasy -- I really love the world she's built for her characters to play in.

Monica Burns said...

Alice, Don't you love it when a book really stands out so that you remember so many piece of the story! I like that aspect about movies as well.