Monday, August 31, 2015

I think, therefore I am

,Ana isn't ready to write first person stories.

When I was writing a weekly essay for my CSA newsletters, I wrote in first person. I recounted what I saw walking through the garden, expounded on ideas for the next season, held mini-rants about pesticide drift, and waxed poetic about the sightings of bumblebees and dragonflies.

Writing novels in first person is a different kettle of fish.
It means you'd type "I" a lot.
Your main character would speak and think in this immediate context. You'd be limited to one POV and go deep. The main character would have to be somewhat self-centered or self-absorbed. A bit judgmental. Opinionated.

First person seems to work well for YA/NA stories. Also novels where the "speaker" opens with a reminiscing and the bulk of the story unfolds in 3rd person.
Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series is a first person classic, but she did lapse into other characters' POV after the first book.

Have you read a first person book you really liked?

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Sunday Snippet from Margaret's latest book

These are the opening paragraphs from the book I am currently working on:

This was Frazer Benedict’s favourite time of night. And this was his favourite place. Walking along the beach, the dark, clear sky filled with a zillion stars, very little sound apart from the ebb and flow of the incoming tide, it felt like an oasis of peace after a busy, meeting-filled day. He’d even sailed his first yacht in these waters long before he set up his own company.

A final late meeting had been called off at the last moment and he’d slipped away. Now he paused to inhale the fresh ocean-filled air, filling his lungs, breathing out again slowly, listening to the faint call of a sea bird. A rare moment. He was normally so busy such self-indulgence played no part in his life.

The tide was coming in fast, lapping at his toes, and he hopped out of the way, almost falling when his foot caught something lying on the sand. He frowned, visitors didn’t usually discard rubbish here. They respected it as one of the most striking natural bays and took their litter home.

On closer inspection he discovered to his horror, what he had thought was a bag of rubbish was actually a person. A woman! Asleep! Of all the places to fall asleep...

He touched her with his toe. Nothing. He touched a little harder. Still nothing. He bent low and shook her. No response.

A frown dragged his brows together as he slid his arms beneath her and picked her up. She felt like a rag doll. His first thought was that she might be dead and a shiver ran down his spine. But she was still breathing – just about.

He carried her to his parked car and gently lowered her on to the back seat before driving as fast as he dared to the nearest hospital. Which was five miles away! Never had a journey seemed so long. Even so he knew it would be quicker than waiting for an ambulance.

After explaining the circumstances to the medics he left her in their care but he couldn’t get the woman out of his mind and an hour or so later rang the hospital. Much to his annoyance, because he wasn’t a relative, they wouldn’t give him any information.

The next morning, determined to find out what was happening, he drove straight to the hospital before going to work. This time, when he explained the situation, he was shown into a doctor’s office.

“You are the guy who found her?”

Frazer inclined his head. “I am indeed. How is she?”

“First things first,” said the doctor. ‘Tell me all you can about this woman and her circumstances.”

Frazer stared at him as though he was out of his mind. “I don’t know anything. I found her lying on the beach. If I hadn’t been there she would have drowned. And it’s not often I walk there, I can tell you. She’s damn lucky. Will she recover? Have you found out who she is?”

The doctor shook his head. “She had no identity on her. My belief is that she desperately wanted to die.”

“What makes you think that?” He was stunned by the man’s theory. How could such a young woman want to kill herself? It didn’t make sense. She could have simply felt unwell and collapsed. Surely they were making harsh assumptions?

“It is the only possible conclusion.  She had an alarming amount of drugs in her body. Enough to kill most people. She’s very lucky you found her.”

“Does she know?”

“No!” The man looked sad. “She’s not recovered consciousness. But she is alive and is being carefully monitored.”

Frazer reached out one of his business cards and placed it on the man’s desk. “I’d appreciate it if you’d keep me informed of her progress.”



Friday, August 28, 2015

H is for Hearts

Margaret talks about writing from the heart


As this blog is called Heroines With Hearts I thought I’d dwell on the word Heart. What do we actually mean by it?


I was always told to write from the heart. To believe entirely in what I was writing. So that is what I do. I live the life of each of my heroines. I am that person. It’s not an easy ride, not for me, the author, or for my heroines until they actually settle down into their Happy Ever After. But what fun it is. Naturally nothing runs smoothly, there would be no story to tell if it did.


For instance, in the book I’m currently writing my heroine has been forced to marry a man she does not love, simply to make this man’s father happy. Because she tricked her way into the hero’s life (she’s a newspaper reporter and wanted to do a story on him) his payback is to fulfil his ageing father’s dream of his only son getting wed. The problem is - they live in the south of England, his father in the Caribbean. This was something she certainly hadn’t counted on. Of course things happen when they get there – but that’s not something I’m giving away at the moment. I will tell you, though, that his father falls ill and needs treatment in England, so my poor heroine has no escape even then.


I know the story will have a happy ending but how they get to it even I don’t know yet.






Thursday, August 27, 2015

H is for Heather

Heather Morgan is the heroine in Debra's A Christmas to Remember.

Heather has just been dumped by her boyfriend. They'd planned on spending the Christmas holiday skiing. Instead, he decided to go to the Caribbean with his secretary. However, since she'd already paid for an airline ticket, a room at the lodge, and copious amounts of new ski gear, Heather decides to take the trip on her own. However, going down to dinner...alone...on her first night, is a bit more humiliating than she bargained for. She feels like everyone KNOWS. It took her forever to work up the courage, and then the hostess tells her there are no tables available without a reservation.

Enter Sam.

He's handsome and mysterious. And he persuades Heather to have dinner with him. He happens to have a reservation at the restaurant, and since his brother ditched him for a ski bunny, he also happens to have an extra spot at the table.

And thus begins our love story.

A quote from Heather:
”You know.” She gestured toward him. “A mysterious stranger asking me to dinner. Stuff like that only happens in romance novels. It’s not something that happens in real life.” Not to her.

And a bit more about her from the blurb:

Newly single, Heather Morgan gathers her courage and decides to take a Christmas ski vacation on her own. However, the festive holiday atmosphere reminds her how dispirited and alone she feels. When she meets a mysterious stranger, her lonely vacation takes an unexpected turn.

Sam is at the resort at the urging of his brother, who thinks he needs to get out and have a little fun. Having no desire to get involved with anyone, Sam needs a way to get his brother off his back. The intriguing Heather seems like the perfect solution to his dilemma, so he makes her an offer she can't refuse.

Sam restores the joy of the season to Heather. Their time together is magical, something she'll never forget. Soon her feelings for him deepen beyond their romantic holiday fling. But Sam has a secret, one that could prevent the fantasy from ever becoming real.

And, finally, a glimpse of Heather through Sam's eyes, the first time we're in his POV:

At eight forty-five the next morning, Sam glanced at his watch for the thousandth time since he’d sat at the small table in the corner of the coffee shop.

He grimaced. The damn thing was shock resistant, water resistant, the hands glowed in the dark, it could measure elapsed time and split time, and tell him to the nanosecond what time it was in twenty-nine different time zones. What it couldn’t do was speed up time.

Would Heather show? She still had fifteen minutes until the proposed deadline. How long would he wait once the hour had passed? He imagined himself sitting in the same spot all day. Staring at the pine boughs draped across the front of the barrister’s stand. Slowly going insane from the endless tracks of Christmas music playing subtly in the background.

After all, chances were good she wouldn’t accept his offer. Who in their right mind would? She probably figured he had several thousand ulterior motives. He still wasn’t quite sure what prompted him to ask her to have dinner with him. Offering to teach her to ski in exchange for spending time with him had been nothing short of lunacy.

Which was exactly what she must think of him. A raving lunatic. Who else would propose such a preposterous idea? Of course she wouldn’t show for breakfast. Most likely she’d spend the rest of her vacation in her room to avoid the chance of running into him at all costs.

Still, he hoped she’d accept his offer, as crazy as it must seem. He couldn’t say why. He didn’t know her. Had only spent a couple of hours with her. But for some reason he wanted to get to know her better. He admired her courage in coming to the resort on her own even after her asshole of a boyfriend jilted her. She deserved better.

Until next time,

Happy Reading!


A Christmas to Remember - from The Wild Rose Press

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

H is for Health and Hospitals

Paula thinks about our characters’ health problems.

Many of our UK 'soap operas' frequently have either some major health issue for one of the characters, or a dramatic hospital scene where a character hovers between life and death or seems to be half paralysed for life.

Miraculously, most of them recover the following week – and everyone seems to accept this! None of them seem to go through any post-op trauma or repeated visits to the hospital for physio or some other therapy.

For non-soap writers, this doesn’t work, unfortunately. I’m sure our readers would soon point out that someone who breaks a leg in Chapter 2 wouldn’t be climbing a mountain in Chapter 3 (unless there was a long gap between those chapters). They wouldn't even be driving a car for at least six weeks.

If we want one of our characters to have an accident or some health problem, obviously we need to research the facts carefully (assuming we haven’t experienced the problem ourselves). In the first draft of one of my novels, my heroine broke her ankle. This led to some good (although I say it myself!) scenes between her and the hero, but in the end I had to scrap them all. It can take weeks, if not months, for a broken ankle to heal, and a heroine’s immobilisation for such a long period can slow a story down to crawling pace (literally?)

One ploy we are warned against is the melodramatic reunion of the hero and heroine (at the end of the story) when one of them has an accident or illness that sends the other rushing to their hospital bedside to pledge undying love. This may create a tear-jerkingly sentimental conclusion to a story, but it probably doesn’t resolve any of the issues/problems the hero/heroine might have been having, at least not in a satisfying way.

I’ve only used health/hospital scenes as a plot device in a couple of my novels. In ‘Changing the Future’, the heroine’s son is taken to hospital after a minor accident at school. This actually created more problems for the heroine because she had to rush off to the hospital without telling the hero where she was going, which added to their problems.

In ‘Fragrance of Violets’ which I’m currently editing for re-publication, my heroine goes to see her father (who is dying in a hospice) and makes her peace with him. It’s a life-changing event for her, but comes too late (or so it seems) to resolve any of the problems between her and the hero.

Thus my health/hospital scenes don’t solve anything for my characters but invariably make things harder for them!

I’m curious about what health/hospital incidents other writers use – and how these contribute to their stories. Over to you!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

E is For Emotion Thesaurus

Jennifer returns to the letter “E,” since she missed it the first time around...

Paula turned me on to this resource and it is gold for a writer! The Emotion Thesaurus helps writers show their characters feelings in more than just the basic ways.

For me, when I write my stories, I hear my characters talking in my head and I write down what they’re saying. I know what situations I’m putting them through (or they tell me), but I don’t always “feel” what they’re going through. Part of it is that I’m in such a rush to get it on the page, I subconsciously skip over what seems obvious to me. It’s only when I go back to read it that I realize I haven’t shown my characters’ reactions to what has happened. I haven’t made the reader understand or feel what the characters are experiencing.

And that’s where The Emotion Thesaurus comes in. The book is divided alphabetically by emotion. Each emotion is given a definition, physical signals, internal sensations, mental responses, cues of acute or long-term emotion and cues of the suppressed emotion.

So instead of saying, “Claire was happy” or “Claire smiled,” I can say, “Claire’s eyes danced” (physical sign), “Claire felt breathless” (internal sensation), “Claire wanted to make everyone else feel as good as she” (mental response), “Shaking with excitement, Claire hung up the phone” (acute/long-term), or “Taking deep, calming breaths, Claire turned to her boyfriend” (suppressed).

Which one I choose to use depends on the situation as well as the POV. I tend to use physical signs when I’m in the other person’s POV because they can see it. I tend to use internal sensations when I’m in my character’s POV because they can feel it. I might intersperse one of the other responses if I feel they are necessary. The key is to keep it simple and not to overuse them, or use multiple ones all the time. Our readers don’t need to be hit over the head.

Have you used this resource? Tell me about your experiences.

Monday, August 24, 2015

H is for Happily Ever After.

Ana confesses: I never remember my wedding anniversary.

My husband and I eloped after I suggested we get married, and he said, "Okay." We'd known each other for six weeks. I was eighteen. He was twenty-three, an ex-Marine who'd mesmerized me with his honesty and intensity. We had karma.

We got the required blood tests. Found a minister who would marry us. Asked his best friend and his best friend's girlfriend to be witnesses. I wore my favorite purple bellbottoms and cowboy boots. He wore his best light blue jeans and a long sleeved shirt. (It was 1969.)

Perhaps reflecting the after doubts of my impulsive decision, I have a perpetual blank of the date we tied the knot. It's either November 6th, 7th or 8th.

My hubby remembers. He's got a mind like a steel trap.
I wait until he asks me what I want to do for our anniversary and then I know it's that day.

After 40+ years, I'm convinced he wanted to marry me. I still don't regret not having a fancy - crazy wedding.  And I believe in happily ever after.