Wine Fiction – Writing the Vines

As it turns out, I’m kind of falling in love with my own idea — writing romance fiction about wine. I realize that I’m not the first to do it, but to be honest, I’m surprised that there isn’t more of it out there! There is a series set in Napa… and I do realize that Napa is probably the best known American wine region, but there are so many other amazing places making wine… good wine now! So in my mind, they’re ripe for making good romance, too.

After all, wine is nothing if not romantic… So it is surprising to me that there aren’t thousands of romances — or heck, fiction in general — set in the fantastically interesting world of winemaking. Think about a winery might offer in the way of plot points alone — you could have a family struggling to make ends meet, working to save the winery (not all wineries are dragging in the dollars by the tractorload…); you could have an evil competitor, striving to ruin the next bottling of the more successful vintner; you could set the wheels of phylloxera in motion, ruining an entire harvest! (okay, maybe that’s too wine techie, but you know where I’m headed.)

Wine itself is a character in so many ways – it’s a living and ever-changing thing, captured in a bottle. Have you ever noticed how a bottle of wine tastes completely different from the moment you open it to the moment you pour the last drop? Whether you drink it over the course of a couple days or — who am I kidding? — a couple hours. The compounds in wine never stop interacting with their environment, and are constantly morphing into new versions of themselves… just like the characters in the best books!

And let’s face it, wineries themselves are pretty sexy. You’ve got cavernous cellars with huge barrels left to age… hardworking passionate people slaving over crushers and tanks, mixing and blending in barns and outbuildings surrounded by vineyards… You’ve got the fancy visitor-friendly tasting rooms set in sprawling estates (or not-so-sprawling if you don’t happen to be in Napa or Sonoma, the “Hollywood” of wine tasting.)

I guess the world of wine can seem intimidating, which might put some writers off. I have a slight advantage since I used to sell wine, and was a wine writer for a couple magazines and blogs before heading into fiction (you won’t find my credits…you’re not surprised to know that Delancey is a pen name, are you? (; ) I just think that there’s a great opportunity to share my love for wine in my writing in this way, and for anyone with an interest in learning about wine, it’s probably fun to learn about a particular varietal this way. Sexy man and hot romance versus dry wine book? yes please!

My book, A Rare Vintage, highlights my love of the Rhone Valley varietals — Chateauneuf du Pape specifically…  and Redemption Red, which comes out late this summer focuses on Oregon’s amazing Pinot Noir.

What’s your favorite varietal?


New Adult Author Profile: A Day in the Life of R.L. Griffin!


R.L.  Griffin resides in the Atlanta area with some cool dudes: her husband, son and two dogs.  She was born and raised in the South.  She attended Georgia Southern University and moved to Washington, D.C. to intern in the United States Senate during the impeachment trial.  Falling in love with the city, she went to law school at American University, Washington College of Law.  By A Thread is R.L.’s second book, but is the first in a series of books.





How it Starts…

I think for many writers, we’re almost as surprised and flabbergasted when a project is finished as those who seem amazed that we’ve actually gone and written a book. I’ve published two and written more than that, and every time one is finished, I find myself sort of wondering how it happened. Don’t get me wrong — there’s nothing magical about it. I’m not saying that I don’t recall the hours of work and tearing my hair out trying to figure out niggling details that don’t seem to want to fit… I remember all of it, but as with so many things worth doing, the outcome is worth the difficulties, and I usually end up just appreciating that it’s done rather than focusing on how difficult it was to get done. (Kind of like having kids in that way…)

The revision process for the first Girlfriends of Gotham book, Men and Martinis, for instance, has been a long (and did I mention LONG?) road. It started as a fairly ill-conceived novella, went through some difficult edits at the publisher and came back to me. The recommended changes were so sweeping, in fact, that I had to consider whether I even wanted to try. And to be honest, I was terrified that I couldn’t do it. But I had to try. And I knew they were right. And it took more work than I’d expected, but now I have a draft that I’m pretty proud to hand back to my awesome editor at Swoon. And it’s not a novella anymore…it’s a novel. (I just hope she doesn’t hate it… see? the fear is still there). But the point is that it was HARD. And now I’m kind of just basking in the completion of one phase of that effort… and I’m already forgetting the deep dark forests of despair through which I wandered to get here.

So now it’s time to start something new. I’ve had a lot of people asking about the next Wine Country Romance… And I’ve had to explain to a few that it’s a series linked by concept, not by characters… so the next book won’t follow Isabella and Jonathan any further… it won’t be in Paso… and we may never know what happens to Vicki or Charlotte. At least not right now. The next Wine Country Romance, I’ve decided (with a bit of help from the lovely and talented Melanie Harlow), will be set in Oregon’s Willamette Valley.

So that was step one.

  • Decide what kind of book you’ll be writing
  • Decide where to set it (this may or may not be critical, depending on your premise. For the wine country romances, the whole “wine country” thing is kind of important.)

Step two is hammering out the basics of the story. And before you can really do that, you kind of need to figure out who the story is about… Chicken, egg… you get the idea.

Step one and a half:

  • Choose your characters. You might define them loosely, having no names in mind, no idea what they might look like. For me, I knew that I wanted a kind of tortured hero, one who had been through something that would make it hard for him to see the world in front of him the way others did… so I knew I needed to think about his back story. Slowly, the image of Tyson Dawes began to form in my mind… I had ideas for the heroine, too. I wanted her to be independent and mature, maybe carrying some kind of burden of responsibility. I knew how they would meet…and from that event, some of the other story elements emerged.

So this is how characters and story are intermingled. For me, the next step is to do some outlining. I use the Save the Cat romance beat sheet offered at Jamie Gold’s blog. It’s awesome because it targets events to particular page numbers or word counts and lets you draft just major story elements without having to know all the details. It’s an excel sheet that actually adjust word counts to your targeted finished length. (macros and formulas, oh my!) Then you can play connect the dots while you’re actually writing.

Step two:

  • Set the story elements in place.

I use Scrivener for the actual writing, so the next step for me is to set up the manuscript document. I’m using a dual POV, so I divide the chapter folders between Tyson and Audrey (my heroine) and throw a couple scenes under each folder for starters. Then I use the note card area to jot down ideas for what might happen in the first few scenes. I don’t get too far ahead with this, because I inevitably take longer to explore an event than I think I will, and what I jotted down in one scene might actually span several. Scrivener makes it super easy to drop in new scenes and move things around.

Step three:

  • Map out the first few scenes.

The next step is the fun part, and for me it usually begins over a cup of coffee at about 5:15am. I started “Redemption Red” (book 2 in the Wine Country Romance Series) this week and am happy with its direction at about 8,000 words after four days of writing. I get in an hour each morning M-Th, and usually pump out about 2000 words an hour if I have a clear idea where I’m headed. Fridays, if I have a clear schedule, I can generally double what I’ve written in the first part of the week. If I follow this process, it takes me about a month to turn out a first draft.

Step four:

  • Write.

From here, I pretty much just rinse and repeat. I go back and edit the beat sheet as needed, but generally it stays static and the scenes just evolve around it in Scrivener.

And that… is how I write a book. I’m curious how other writers do it. Have you ever actually sat down and thought about exactly how you do it? Or does it just seem to ‘happen’?

NA Author Profile: A Day In the Life of Lisa Sanchez!

Adayinthelifeoflisasanchez,jpgLisa’s lifelong love of writing, coupled with her ability to weave together and intricate and compelling story has led to the release of her New Adult paranormal romance trilogy,the Hanaford Park series (Eve Of Samhain, Pleasures Untold, Faythe Reclaimed).

In her role as a busy stay-at-home and self proclaimed “cheer mom,” on any given day Lisa wears a number of different hats. From taxi driver to chef,nurse to seamstress, laundry woman to enforcer, and, of course, writer, Lisa manages to keep everything together while caring for her husband and three children. The few spare moments left in her day are usually spent reading or writing, and if she’s really lucky, possibly even catching up on some much needed sleep. Lisa and her family currently reside in Tracy, California.

Lisa is represented by the fabulous Brittany Booker of the Booker/Albert agency, and has two projects on submission and a third in the works.

NA Author Profile: A Day in the Life of Bethany Lopez!

Another fantastic new adult author is here today!


Bethany Lopez was born in Detroit, Michigan, and grew up in Michigan and San Antonio, Texas. She went to High School at Dearborn High, in Dearborn, Michigan, which is where she has set her Young Adult series. She is married and has a blended family with five children. She is currently serving in the United States Air Force as a Recruiter in Los Angeles, California. She has always loved to read and write and has seen her dream realized by independently publishing her novels through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords.

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