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Romantic Gestures

SantoriniSunset_w6096_300Valentine’s Day. The day every single woman on the planet despises. The day every man dreads. The day every woman in a relationship prays her significant other gets right. A day when the girls with the perfect boyfriends/husbands gloat.

Yeah, not my favorite holiday.  Why? Because I think there is too much pressure. Romance isn’t once-a-year thing. It’s an always and forever thing.

I’m reposting a blog I wrote back in May about romantic gestures. I think it sums up my thoughts on romance and love.

Since I write romances, people often ask me to define what makes something romantic. That’s a really good question. Let’s review a couple of scenarios, then discuss.

Your lover knows you enjoy reading. Valentine’s Day rolls around and he decides to show he understands you, cares about you and wants to make you happy. Which is the romantic gesture?

  1. When you come home, you walk into a cozy den. A fire crackles in the fireplace. A fluffy blanket drapes over the arm of your favorite chair. On the table, a pot of Darjeeling swirls steam into the soft glow of the reading light, the fragrance of dozens of roses mingles in the steam. A pile of crisp, never creased books by your favorite authors and the recommended reads from Amazon sit at the foot of the chair waiting to take you on adventures.
  2. Your lover e-mails you a $50 off coupon for a new Nook.
  3. Your man takes you to Barnes and Noble, buys you a triple mocha frappe and waits patiently while you shop to your heart’s content.

You’ve had a really stressful week full of meetings, demanding phone calls, schedule changes and budget overages. Which is the romantic gesture?

  1. At 5 o’clock Friday afternoon, your lover meets you in the lobby of your office building with an armful of roses. He whisks you off to the honeymoon suite at the nicest hotel on your area, champagne, chocolate, roses and bedding spun by angels are the last thing you notice before he pulls you close and you get lost in his kisses.
  2. When you get home on Friday night, he tells you to go ahead and order takeout. He had burgers and beers at the bar.
  3.  When you arrive home, your man has run a bath for you and sent the kids to his mother’s for the night.

You have the flu and can’t go to work. Shoot, you can barely get out of bed and wish the bathroom wasn’t fifteen miles from your bedroom. Which is the romantic gesture?

  1. Your boyfriend calls his grandmother to get her homemade chicken soup recipe. After shopping the farmers’ markets for organic carrots and fennel, he spends all afternoon simmering the healing broth.  He delivers the meal to you on an antique silver tray complete with roses and a lace doily.
  2. He sleeps on the couch to avoid germs while you convalesce.
  3. He goes to the store, buys chicken soup and several different cold/flu remedies, hoping one will relieve your symptoms. He rents your favorite movies and watches chick flicks with you while you recover.

Okay, so what do you think? I’m sure Option #1 led to swooning. Option #2 resulted in groans and possible recognition. Option #3 caused some “aahs.”

There are three elements to romantic gestures: 1) Caring and understanding 2) Thinking of another more than yourself and 3) The slightest bit of effort.

Sure, Option #1 sounds absolutely divine. Who wouldn’t want someone putting that much thought into a gesture, but honestly, wouldn’t everyone be just as happy with option #3?

But do you want to know the secret to romance? Do you really want to know?  Here’s the secret. It’s really very simple.  When a man cares about and understands you, thinks of you more than himself and goes to the slightest bit of effort to please you, say “thank you.” Guess what? If you say “thank you,” he’ll probably do it again.

Santorini Sunset by Claire Croxton—now available in print at The Wild Rose Press and Amazon. E-book available May 18, 2012.

http://www.thewildrosepress.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=191&products_id=4870

http://www.amazon.com/Santorini-Sunset-Claire-Croxton/dp/1612171508/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1336425266&sr=8-3

Blurb:  Caroline Clayton’s sister, Gabriella, is getting married . . . to Caroline’s former fiancé, Albert. Instead of drowning her sorrows in a vat of ice cream, Caroline recruits her sultry co-worker, Raul Sobrevilla, to be her wedding date. Showing up with Mr. Hotter Better Sexier has the desired effect. Both Gabriella and Albert are jealous and Caroline’s mother is speechless for the first time in history. Even Caroline’s dad is happy with that result.

Raul Sobrevilla hired on at Synergy so he could work with the best, Caroline. When she asks him to attend the wedding in Santorini, Greece, he sees it as an opportunity to prove to her that he’s her perfect partner both at the office and in the bedroom.

Excerpt: This is the day after the Gabriella’s wedding. Caroline has spent all her time in Santorini working for the caterer and organizing the reception and seating charts. Raul does this romantic gesture for her. Do you think Caroline appreciated it?

Raul took my hand and I followed him. Mother and Daddy smiled as we walked past them. They were moving very slowly. People milled around the yard, taking down tents and cleaning up the evidence of a party well appreciated. Raul helped me in the Jeep, even though I was no longer hindered by the confining dress. At the harbor, he pulled a picnic basket out the back the Jeep and we walked to Daddy’s sailboat.

Oh cool, a picnic on the boat. How nice. I was floored when he maneuvered out of the slip. Daddy never let anyone touch his boat. We sailed around the western point of the island and when we turned back eastward, I smiled.

“You said Red Beach was one of your favorite places. I asked your dad about it and he said that driving to it, like we did, was good, but sailing to it was much better. He agreed that you didn’t have any fun this trip, so we arranged this little outing for you.”

“That’s very thoughtful of you. Thank you so much.” I wasn’t sure what to say. We were going to miss our ferry back to Athens, but I didn’t care. A few more hours of pretend sounded good to me. We moored in the cove and took a dinghy to shore where we feasted on wedding food, wine and, honestly the best wedding cake ever made, if I did say so myself. The red volcanic cliffs soared behind us. The mixture of red and black sand was warmed by the sun and counteracted the cool breeze. The contrast of the deep blue sea against the dark sand and red cliffs could only be experienced in person. Even the most skilled photographers were unable to capture the magnificence of the beach.

My mind raced with questions for Raul, but I didn’t even know where to start. Hung over and dreading the long trip back to the States, plus the fear of what the answers would be kept me silent. I breathed the salt air, watched the seagulls ride the breeze and threw my head back so I could catch all the rays of the warm sun that I could. For the first time in a week, I relaxed.

My first impulse was to cry. There were so many pent up emotions in me that needed releasing and only a sobfest would purge me, but I didn’t want to subject Raul to any more of my emotional outbursts. Instead, I sat silently and felt the splendor of the magical place repair my soul. All the negative events were washed away and I was left with a future of happiness and levity. Raul didn’t say a thing. He let me revitalize. Something else to admire about him, he knew when to be quiet. When it was time to go, Raul took my hand and helped me from the coarse, rocky beach.

We sailed back to the harbor in companionable silence. At the house, we threw things in our suitcases and met

Daddy, who drove us to the airport. He and Raul had rearranged our itineraries to allow for the sailing trip.

Book trailer:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fpqlJumrDA4

Contest: free copy of Santorini Sunset

Website: www.clairecroxton.com

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The Next Big Thing Blogfest

Miss Velda Brotherton, the co-founder of the Northwest Arkansas Writers Workshop and an amazing, multi-published author asked me to participate in The Next Big Thing blog series. Her Next Big Thing blog posting can be found at: :

http://veldabrotherton.wordpress.com

Ten Interview Questions for the Next Big Thing:

What is your working title of your book?

My latest book is called Ex-Ray. My mom came up with the title. She’s terrible at naming things. She didn’t even name me. Daddy was in the hospital in Tulsa having a kidney removed. She called him to let him know he had a daughter and he named me over the phone. Her cats have all been named “Kitty” or “Fluffy.” I had to name her last two cats—“Betsy” and “Priscilla” So, for my mother to give me a book title is a BIG deal.  My first release was Redneck Ex, so she thought it would be cool for me to have an “Ex” series. Goodness knows I have enough exes to provide material for a 30 volume series! It’s all them, you know? I’m a peach.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

Ex-Ray is about a woman who disappears without a trace to escape an abusive marriage. She obtains a new identity and moves to Barrow, Alaska where she becomes a 911 Emergency dispatcher. After I’d finished the edits on Santorini Sunset and I was ready to start a new book, I looked through some old files of mine and discovered a novel I started twenty years ago. I was working as a 911 dispatcher in Barrow, Alaska at the time and the novel included some of the very interesting calls I’d received while I worked there. So, I dusted it off, spruced it up and went to work. It’s darker than my usual work. I’ll admit to days of prevailing indigo moods and nightmares while writing it, but it was worth it. I believe it was extremely cathartic for me.

What genre does your book fall under?

At first, I thought it was contemporary romance, but now I think it’s romantic suspense or possibly women’s fiction. It actually falls into the contemporary romance guidelines, but it’s too dark. I don’t think it’s dark enough for women’s fiction. I absolutely cannot stop the snark. So, even though it’s a dark topic, there are a lot of lighter moments. After talking to a couple of editors, I’m labeling it romantic suspense.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Oh, I love playing this game.  Just love it!

The point of view cmaggiegcharacter is Anne Sutton. I see Maggie Gyllenhaal as Anne.

The antagonist is her husband, Ray Malloy. I see Christian Bale or Toby Keith as the really, really bad guy.

christianbtobyk 

The love interest is Joe Carducci. Joe is simply dreamy. He would be played by Channing Tatum or Orlando Bloom.

channingt   orlandob

Anne’s best friend is Bernadette Brower. I see Gwich’in actress Princess Lucaj playing that role.

princess

What is the synopsis of your book?

The isolation of the Alaska’s Arctic is the perfect place to hide, but you can’t outrun your past. Maggie Shaw flees an abusive husband and assumes a new life as Anne Sutton a 9-1-1 emergency dispatcher. Her husband, Ray Malloy, a meth-dealing, dirty cop with a violent temper and a powerful right hook, is determined to find her and the three million in drug money she stole. Using her computer hacking skills, Anne is able to stay one step ahead of Ray until he goes off the grid. Even though she lives in constant fear of discovery, friendships develop and she falls in love with the new cop in town, Joe Carducci. When her past comes crashing down on her, will she be able to overcome her fears and protect her friends or will she once again become victim to Ray’s evilness?

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Praying that it will be represented by an agency.  Could everyone reading this take a moment and visualize Ex-Ray with a Random House on the spine of the book?  One second, that’s all it takes.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

I was editing another book while writing this one, so I’d say about a year.  In addition to being the President of the Oklahoma Writers Federation, farm life keeps getting in the way. If I have the opportunity to actually write every day like I should, I can get a first draft done in a couple of months.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I describe Ex-Ray as Sleeping with the Enemy meets Hope Floats.  I do realize those are movies, but what can I say? I don’t follow rules very well.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Good question.  As I mentioned, I’d started the book twenty years ago. A lot has changed since then. Anne and the love interest Joe were always there, but Anne’s reason for being in Barrow changed. It turned out that the guy I was living with at the time I first started Ex-Ray was abusive. Like everyone in such situations, I discovered the extent of his temper and violence too late. This book took a turn toward the dark underbelly of life when I decided to make Anne a victim of domestic violence. Hence the nightmares and indigo moods while I was writing it. I hope Ex-Ray will be helpful and encouraging for women in similar situations. The book is dedicated to my father because he’s the one that dragged me out of the mess.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Alaska. Barrow. Fall sunset by bowhead whale jaw bones and umiaq frame.Well, the fact that it’s written by the still unnoticed greatness that is Claire Croxton should be enough, right? Just kidding!  It’s set in Barrow, Alaska, the northernmost community in North America (300 miles above the Arctic Circle.) I lived there for fourteen years, so folks can get a real taste for life in the Arctic. All of the 911 calls happened in real life. My magical formula for NY Times Bestselling novels is: cats + snark + sex = bestseller. NY seems to be unfamiliar with my magical formula, but they’ll discover it soon enough, right? Especially with everyone visualizing a major publisher on the spine of my hardcover book. So, of course all three elements are in abundance.

So, this is where I’m supposed to list 5 authors who will also be blogging these questions. Unfortunately, all the bloggers I know are already blogging on this topic.  Having the same people post the same interview on the same blogs could get a tad bit tedious. So, Velda Brotherton took pity on me and told me I could explain why I failed to do my homework and get other authors’ participation. Bottom line? I procrastinated (big shocker) and by the time I got around to asking folks to participate, they were already doing it for someone else. My bad. But, don’t you just love Velda?

You should check out these blogs by some brilliant writers!

http://janmorrill.wordpress.com/2012/12/05/next-big-thing-blogfest/

http://lindacapple.wordpress.com/

http://pamelafosterspeakerwriter.wordpress.com/

Shakespeare, Dickens and the Song of Solomon

Shakespeare, Dickens and the Song of Solomon.

Shakespeare, Dickens and the Song of Solomon

Yep. Santorini Sunset has been compared to all of the above.  Check out the latest review on Amazon or read it here:

Now available on Amazon!

Santorini Sunset by Claire Croxton is the first romance novel I’ve ever read. Shakespeare, Dickens, and biblical literature are more my taste and background in reading. Yet, I found myself turning page after page, eager to see what the next turn of events would be. Caroline, the main character, was made more interesting by having her thoughts juxtaposed to her actions. Readers can find this technique used by the Bard himself in such characters as Hamlet and Iago. Ms. Croxton also found use for Dickens’ technique of switching points of view, as in A Tale of Two Cities. Besides Caroline, there’s Raul, her love interest. Moving from Caroline’s view of a situation to Raul’s perspective gives readers insights into the psyches of both characters. Finally, there is sex. What I suspect all readers of this genre anticipate. Ms. Croxton understands its importance in this novel, but doesn’t abuse it, or the reader, by making it tawdry. When love-making occurs, the author portrays it with a sensuality that is enticing and more reminiscent of passages from Song of Solomon than porn magazines.

Santorini Sunset is a fun read. Claire Croxton has done a wonderful job of portraying characters in a meaningful fashion. That doesn’t mean that this novel is one melodramatic moment after another. It’s FUN! Caroline’s views, actions, and relationships are often hilarious, which adds to the page turning effect this book had on me. For such a curmudgeon of classical literature, I found I enjoyed this novel, and I think many others will as well…even if you don’t care for romance novels!

Santorini Sunset Gets 5-Star Reviews!

 

Santorini Sunset Gets 5-Star Reviews!.

Santorini Sunset Gets 5-Star Reviews!

  “This is the first book [Santorini Sunset}I have read by Croxton and it will not be my last! Her style of writing is so easy to read as the story flows well, the writing is so descriptive, and the characters are so real and lovable. ”

“This book [Santorini Sunset} is filled with humor and romance. It has been a long time since I have read a book of this genre that truly please me. I wasn’t familiar with the name Claire Croxton: now that I am, I will be watching for more books by her.”

“This [Santorini Sunset] is a funny, sexy book. It is full of twists and turns! . . . Whatever could go wrong does. It’s a comedy of errors and you will not want to put the book down.”

For the full reviews on Readers Favorites, go to: http://readersfavorite.com/review/6231

Please leave a comment.

Visit me at Laurie’s Thoughts

You can’t possibly be tired of reading about me. It’s been a couple of months since my last interview and this is an interview about a different book. Woohoo!!

Laurie at Laurie’s Thoughts has great interview questions and you get to read an unreleased excerpt from Santorini Sunset–kind of like the director’s cut of a move.  I’m telling you folks, excitement abounds.

Oh, and don’t miss an opportunity to win a free digital copy of Santorini Sunset.

Hope to see you there.