Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Nineties-a milestone decade for me

Note: I’ve given you a taste of Once Burned below. Leave a comment and you might win an ecopy.

As I read through the other posts about the Nineties here I thought, holy crap!  How can I match these other posts? Then I let my mind wander and realized that yes, I’d had some life-changing experiences that affected how I moved forward. So what happened to me?
To begin with I changed jobs, moving from the development division of a state university to that of a smaller private university. My objectives were publicity and fundraising and it was rewarding to do it in a setting where I could connect with students, faculty, alumni and donors. I worked in a beautiful setting, made some incredible friends and expanded all my world horizons.
Early in the Nineties my oldest daughter married. Can I tell you that there are few things in life as pleasurable as watching one of your children embark on a life journey with a mate so perfect for them they might have been special ordered. It was such a joyous occasion, made even more special by the fact that my mother, who was not well, was able to be there and celebrate with us. It wasn’t too long after that we lost her but while sadness tinged our joy she left us with a wealth of wonderful memories.
It was my mother who first interested me in books. Our house was always filled with them. She and my sister were ravenous readers and she taught me the power of the written word. While she herself had no desire to write, she encouraged my own fledgling need. Because of her I began a series of journal where I jotted down ideas that I hoped later would become part of stories.
The Nineties were also the decade where my urge to write, to create my own stories, began to grow and blossom. Soon my plotting became a collaborative effort with my staff. They would email me ideas, drop into my office to suggest characters, ash if I wanted to brainstorm with them. The journals I had begun so long ago continued to grow in scope and size.
The Nineties (1990 to be exact) also saw the release of what to me will always be the best movie of all time. There are many who will disagree, but The Hunt For Red October had all the elements of an outstanding production: it was faithful to the book (Lord, how I hate it when producers buy the rights to a great book and then think they can do it better.), it was riveting every single minute, cast excellently. I think I have seen that movie more than three hundred times and I never tire of it. And while many criticize Tom Clancy’s style of writing as pedantic, but I think he knew how to get to the reader, grab the attention and keep it. I have tried to remember all of that as I journey in my writing career, even though what I write are not political thrillers.
If you’ve read any of my books you know that I write romance. Would you believe in the Nineties the book I plotted for my debut was “a mystery with romantic elements?” I had everything outlined, included character profiles. But when I finally sat down to write I couldn’t seem to get past Chapter Three. Then I read (gasp!) my first romance and realized I was on the wrong train. I don’t even have the draft of those three chapters any ore, or the outline, or the plot. But I did carry it into my new-found love of romantic suspense. So today I thought I would treat you to a book that has been a staple of my backlist for a long time—Once Burned. I think I love it so much because there is a lot of me in the character.
One hot summer Cassie Fitzgerald gave her virginity and her heart to Griffin Hunter. When he married her sister, Diane, she fled Stoneham and for six years nothing could make her return. Not her sister’s murder, for which Griffin was and continues to be the only suspect. Not her father’s suicide, which the police chief wants to sweep under the rug. But now her mother is dead and she has legal obligations she can’t avoid. Nor, it seems, can she avoid Griffin, who wants her more than ever and makes no bones about it and to whom she finds herself just as susceptible. Will Cassie be able to control her own hot need for this man or will she be pulled back into the same sensual vortex? Can she uncovers the secret Stoneham’s hiding, the riddle of Diane’s murder and the answer to her relationship with Griff without destroying herself in the process?


Her breath was frozen in her chest. Swallowing hard, she made her feet move, one in front of the other, doing her best to ignore him, her eyes still drawn to him. This was a different Griff from the daredevil who lived in her darkest dreams. He was not only older but harder, less yielding. His hair was still sun bleached and too long, his body fuller but still tanned and muscular. Aviator sunglasses hid the remembered blue of his eyes but his mouth that had pressed such passionate kisses on every part of her body was set in an expression of bitterness. There was something almost lethal about him now. If she hadn’t known him so well, she might have been afraid of him.
And something else defined his posture. Anger? Sadness? She didn’t want to know. She especially didn’t want to feel the quickening of her heartbeat, the tightening of her breasts, the instant hardening of her nipples and the primal beat that began throbbing between her legs. The heat had burned her once—scorched her—and she wasn’t about to play with fire again.
But her brain apparently had taken a vacation, along with her ability to make a sensible decision and stick to it. All these years, all that pain and it took only seconds for her body to leap to life in the once familiar response.
She detoured to the trunk of the rental car, her keys in her hand that trembled despite her best efforts.
Griff reached out one arm and pressed down against the lid of the trunk so she couldn’t open it. “I heard you were in town. I came to see for myself.”
“Please let me open my trunk.” She tried to make her voice as flat as his.
“We have things to talk about, Cassie.”
“You’re wrong. We have nothing to say to each other.”
“Oh but we do.” He moved until he was standing right next to her, crowding her space. “We have a lot to say. We have unfinished business between us.”

Check out this book and others on my backlist at www.desireeholt.com


  1. Desiree:
    The birth of legend. How unusual that you shared your passion with others who lent assistance. Only my wife knows of my secret life as a writer and I'm very happy to keep it that way.
    You mentioned your book "Once Burned" had a character with a lot of you in it. At this stage of you career are you still "in" your stories? Has your presence in your books changed over time?

    Hunt for Red October was one of the few adult movies I saw in the 90's in original release. I was so so on it. I have read Tom Clancy books, but not that one. He is very hard on a reader with a short attention span even though his stuff is gripping. I chuckle when writing coaches encourage showing vs telling. Clancy made about a $billion telling more than showing.

  2. I still love Hunt for Red October. The movie was actually better than the book, tightening up the sprawling sage and narrowing the viewpoints to two instead of dozens. Of course if I'd read the book first, I might feel differently, but I only got to it recently with a book-on-tape. (And if I'd read it before becoming an editor myself, I might have given it more slack.)

  3. Every decade of our lives can be 'formative' years to the lucky ones who stay busy and adventurous.

  4. It's funny to me how I loved books practically from birth, and yet it was many years before I read my first romance. Even when I did, it was a dirty secret. I snuck around with the books and never put them on my shelf where they could be seen.

    It sounds like it also took you a long time to discover romance, and that you liked to write it. I, too, tried to write other genres before settling on what I write now, and it's funny to me to look back and see how strong the romantic and erotic elements always were in my writing.

  5. The movie Hunt for the Red October was one that I think improved upon the book. In a way Clancy's books are made for the cinema - he leaves so much room for improvement. Was that a meow?


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