Thursday, September 22, 2016

L is for Love

Debra ponders the many different meanings of love.

Not to sound too lame and wedding toastish, but one of the ways (the entry takes up almost half a column in my Webster's) the dictionary defines love is: A feeling of warm personal attachment.

Love is such an interesting concept. We use the word in so many different ways.

We can love pizza.

We can love hockey.

We love our families and friends.

We love our spouses (or sweethearts or significant others).

The same word can mean so many different things and have so many different levels of emotion. The way I feel about pizza and hockey certainly isn't the same way I feel about my family. And the way I feel about my family is a different kind of love than I have for my hubby.

As romance writers we fill our days and pages with love. The love our characters have for inanimate things tells us about them. Their likes, their hobbies, their hopes, their desires. The love (or lack thereof) of their families shapes and defines them. Past relationships can do the same, giving us oodles of background and internal motivation and conflict.

Of course the crux of our stories is the love the heroine and hero will eventually find with each other. Going back to good ol' Webster: a strong or passionate affection for a person of the opposite sex. Love scenes (hopefully) are filled with this passion and emotion.

Yep. Love is an interesting concept. And I love that I get to spend time creating stories about how two hearts and souls come together in love!

Until next time,

Happy Reading!


Wednesday, September 21, 2016

L is for Luke

Meet Luke, the hero of Paula's second Irish book, Irish Intrigue.

Charley reached Clifden shortly before five o’clock and pulled into the parking area of the supermarket on the outskirts of the small town. Still familiar with the layout of the store, she didn’t take long to collect some basic supplies.
A tall man in a sheepskin jacket stood near the chilled cabinet of yogurts and desserts, speaking on his phone. “Kate, which yogurts do the kids like? Melissa said something about pink pots.”
She reached past him to pick up some mixed fruit yogurts at the same moment as he turned and bumped against her.
“Oops! Sorry,” he said.
“No problem.” She put her yogurts in her shopping trolley, but couldn’t resist pointing further along the cabinet. “The pink pots are those strawberry ones.”
“Thanks.” He gave her a quick smile before speaking into his phone again. “It’s okay, Kate, I see them.”
She started to push her trolley toward the cash desk, but stopped when the man said, “Thanks again, but don’t I know you from somewhere?”
With a small grimace of resignation, she half-turned back to him. She didn’t recall meeting him when she lived here, but perhaps he’d seen her on television. Or else it was a clich├ęd chat-up line.
“I don’t think so.” She gave him a perfunctory smile as her glance took in rugged good looks in a square face and dark wavy hair. Not exactly tousled, but certainly untamed.
The man frowned for a moment before his face cleared. “You remind me of my mother-in-law.”
“Really?” She suppressed a grin. Being compared to a mother-in-law was a novel kind of comment.
“Not really, no. Her hair’s short and straight, not long like yours, and her face is rounder.”
She couldn’t help but laugh. “So I’m nothing like her?”
“You’re much younger, of course, but your eyes are the same colour. Unusual.”
“Brown eyes are unusual?”
“Kind of coppery. I’m useless with colours, but that’s what she said hers were.”
“Oh, I see.”
It seemed an odd conversation to be having with a stranger in a supermarket, but her heartbeat quickened at the attractive twinkle in his dark eyes as he smiled.
He held out his hand. “Luke Sullivan. Pleased to meet you.”

Irish Intrigue
Charley Hunter returns unwillingly to Ireland to complete the filming of a TV drama series. She still hasn’t come to terms with the tragic loss of her husband there two years previously, and the last thing she expects is an instant attraction to an Irish veterinary surgeon.
Luke Sullivan’s life is full as he tries to balance caring for his two young children with his busy rural veterinary practice. After the break-up of his marriage, he vowed to leave women well alone, but now finds himself drawn to Charley.
While Charley struggles with the re-awakening of her emotions, Luke faces a series of unexplained crises at his clinic, as well as an impending custody battle with his ex-wife.
They grow closer as their initial interest in each other develops into mutual support and then into love. But how can an English actress and an Irish vet reconcile their different worlds? And will their relationship survive when Luke believes Charley has endangered his children’s lives – and then betrayed him?

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

L Is For Lily

Jennifer talks about names...

How do you come up with names for your characters? On really lucky days, my characters pop into my head already named. But often, I put a placeholder in there and come up with final names as I get to know my characters better.

In my first book, A Heart of Little Faith, however, I used a baby name book. I wanted the names to symbolize character traits. The hero was strong, so I named him Gideon. Each name usually has multiple meanings, but I liked the “warrior” definition I found. The heroine had to be everything he wasn’t, though, in order to turn and soften him. So I named her Lily, which means pure (and yes, it’s also a flower). It was one more way of unveiling who the character is to the reader.


Monday, September 19, 2016

L is for Lucky

Ana muses about luck's role in writer's life.

Serendipity. We often write about it in our stories. The pouring-rain traffic jam that delays the heroine so she misses her train. Drenched and dejected, she slogs into a bar for some napkins to dry her face and meets the love of her life.

At a writer's conference I attended last Saturday, Faith Sullivan told the story of a National Book Club award-winner. He sent out his prized novel under an assumed name, and every publisher rejected it. "This proves," Ms. Sullivan said, "that acceptance is a crap shoot. It in no way reflects the quality of your story."

I've heard similar anecdotes before, and they are heartening. A book goes through stages, and when it's finished, It's time to send it out and let the wheel of luck spin.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

K is for Kyle

Debra 'doubled up' on a character's name.

My story An Unexpected Blessing features a little boy named Kyle. I didn't pick that name for any particular reason, but it came to me and I liked it, so I went with it.

When it came time to write Fourth of July at The Corral, I needed another boys' name for the heroine's son. I really didn't know what I wanted it to be, but I wanted to keep moving with the story, so I tossed Kyle in there as a 'place holder', fully intending to go back and change it when I came up with his 'real' name.

Wouldn't you know it? Turns out the little boy in that story really was a Kyle. The more I wrote, the more I didn't want to change it. I especially loved how it played off of the hero's (his father) name: Tyler. With the similar pattern in the spelling, it helped to solidify their connection.

I debated and debated with myself. How terrible would it be to have two characters in two different books with the same name? It bugged me for a long time. Ultimately, however, I stuck with Kyle for the Fourth of July book. I never would have done it with a hero or heroine, but in the end, I couldn't name that little boy anything else. He WAS Kyle.

I did once 'borrow' a character's last name in a WIP for a character in another book I was going to finish first. In that instance, I did go back and change the original name to something else.

Sometimes coming up with the right name is harder than others. I've also learned my lesson with secondary characters. Since I've used so many of them from my 'main' stories in spin-offs of their own, I've learned to think carefully about those names too. You never know when they might demand a story of their own!

Until next time,

Happy Reading!


Wednesday, September 14, 2016

K = Knowing Your People

Paula thinks about how she gets to know her characters.  

I’ve had quite a lot of reviewers say they feel like they ‘know’ my characters e.g. “so well written that I feel I know all the characters personally” and “you feel that you have actually met them”.

Comments like this are great because they show the reader has really engaged with the characters – and it goes without saying that this will only happen if we, as writers, have also engaged with our characters. Or rather, with our ‘people’, since according to Hemingway, “When writing a novel a writer should create living people; people not characters. A character is a caricature.”

We probably all have different ways of getting to know our characters in order to portray them realistically. At one end of the spectrum are the authors who write a detailed biography of their characters before they start the story and sometimes find pictures of them all to pin up near their computers. At the other end of the spectrum are the authors like me, who start simply with a name, and maybe (but not always) an occupation.

I’ve seen character ‘bio sheets’ or profiles that suggest you list everything from the person’s shoe size to what they like for breakfast, and from their best/worst childhood experience to their favourite movies/books/singers, and their political or religious beliefs.

Fair enough, if this helps a writer to ‘know’ their characters, but it wouldn’t work for me. I couldn’t work from a pre-formed ‘creation’ of a character. I prefer to get to know my people as I write the first draft of the story (and even then I probably couldn’t answer all the questions on a character profile!). It’s rather like getting to know a person in ‘real’ life, and I find they gradually reveal more of themselves, their backgrounds, their personalities, and their hopes and fears. Quite often I blink in surprise when a character tells me something I didn’t know.

In my current ‘work in progress’, I knew the hero needed some ‘back story’ but when my brainstorming partner asked me about it, all I could say was, ‘I don’t know yet, I’m waiting for him to tell me.’ Well, it’s taken a while but eventually, almost 60K words into the story, he finally got around to telling me! Yes, I’ll have to go back now, and layer in some extra details earlier in the story, but to me, that works better than foisting a back story on him in advance. Better for him to tell me, than for me to tell him!

I’d be interested to know how much you need to know about your ‘people’ before you start writing their story.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

K Is For Kiss

Jennifer shows the first kiss..

My romance, Skin Deep, is about a makeup artist and the star of a TV show. Here is the scene with their first kiss.

Her eyes glowed with warmth and he could find no trace of disgust in their smoky depths. Her lips curved in a soft, sweet smile. He couldn’t imagine them ever curving around hurtful words.
She held out her hand. He looked at it, and back up at her face. Her gaze remained fixed on him. He reached for her hand in slow motion. His hand trembled at the first contact of skin on skin and his knuckles brushed against the back of her hand. He turned his hand and took her small one in his. His fingers caressed her delicate bones and silk smooth skin. She didn’t flinch. He looked at her face and saw the smile he adored. He relaxed. She led him over to the sofa and they sat down next to each other. She left her hand in his and he froze, afraid if he moved, she’d remember where her hand rested and move it. When she didn’t, he played with it, turned it over, looked at it, amazed she let him touch her.
Her voice interrupted his thoughts. “If you don’t want me doing your makeup, that’s fine, but don’t run away from me.” He squeezed her hand, unable to find the words to apologize. She rubbed his hand, and he exhaled.
“Oh, and one more thing.” She leaned over and kissed him. As their lips met, his entire body stiffened. He pressed her back against the sofa and supported his weight with his arms. One hand cradled the back of her head, the other slipped around her waist. Noses bumped, breath mingled and fingers intertwined as their kiss lengthened and deepened. Sofa springs bounced, sofa pillows cushioned and toes touched as they leaned into each other.

John’s senses shrieked into hyper-alert. Her soft mouth caressed his, her warm breath tickled his upper lip. Her silken hair flowed between his fingers. Behind his closed eye lids, sparks of bright color shot like fireworks. He felt like he was drowning; yet at the same time, he felt like he might be finally saved.