Monday, March 30, 2009

Upcoming Fun

We won't be posting an article today because we have two special guests planned this week! We're excited that Resplendence Publishing's own Maddie James will be with us on Wednesday, and on Friday we'll be posting a very fresh and interesting blog from Siren-Bookstrand's Judah Raine. So we do have a great week coming up and hope you'll join us for the fun!

Also, I wanted to remind readers about our new contest! Enter today for your chance to win...(just click on the Contest button for details)

Before I close, I thought I'd share a few pictures that some of our fellow KYRWA writers took at this past weekend's writers' event in Lexington, KY -- which I had to miss!! (*stomping foot in agitation*) But everyone seemed to have a wonderful time, and came back fully recharged and ready to write. I'm so glad it was such a success...

More Wednesday!

Tracy Preston

Alicia Rasley

Anya Bast

Teresa Reasor

Jan Scarbrough, Anya Bast, Maddie James and Renee Demarcus

Leigh Collett, Magdalena Scott, Jan Scarbrough and Anya Bast

Teresa and Renee
(Note the empty chair where I was supposed to be! Yes, I'm pouting, I admit it!)

Friday, March 27, 2009

Special Guest: Author Keena Kincaid

Paris doesn’t sell.

I’ve heard that statement quoted with the fervor of the newly converted and the weariness of the ancient cynic since I first decided I wanted to write. So me being me, I set my current release, ART OF LOVE, in Paris.

As anyone who knows me will verify: I tend challenge assumptions (and authority, but that’s a different blog). And my perspective from a small coffee shop on the rue Voltaire, there was no reason Paris shouldn’t sell. It’s a fabulous city filled with the scent of age and weighed down history that is a historical romance writer’s nirvana.

And for better or worse, the hero that came to me while I meandered the winding, medieval streets was a Scotsman. I was so excited about Alain of Huntly Wood that I couldn’t not write his story even if it did take place in Paris and even if Paris is the kiss of death for a romance.

But Alain’s story is intricately bound to Paris of the 12th century and the exciting, overcrowded and malodorous Latin Quarter. If set in London or Edinburgh or even the absolute gorgeous landscape between Inverness and Thurso, Alain’s story would be a different tale entirely—and a much less satisfying one—because in ART OF LOVE, Paris is not “wallpaper” but a thriving character in its own right.

So my questions to you, the readers:
• Do you notice setting at all? If so, how much? If not, why not?
• Do you want “place” to be as active and interesting a character in the story as the hero and heroine or are you happy with “wallpaper” settings?
• Do you read stories set in your favorite places or those on your wish list?

About Art of Love
Abigail d'Alene has been sinfully in love with learning all her life. Now a widow, she has the means and freedom to indulge in her passion. Pretending to be Abelard, a fifteen-year-old boy from an outlying village, she heads to the Latin Quarter of Paris and the abbey schools that will one day change the world.
Shocked by her ineptitude at masquerading as a boy, Alain of Huntly Woods takes the young “Abelard” under his protection until she recovers her sense and goes home. But her audacity, intelligence and refusal to compromise spark enough friction between them to burn through his cold logic and carefully laid plans. In Paris as a spy for Henry II, Alain has sold his soul to the Angevin devil in exchange for the king's promise of an heiress, land and power.

As his good intentions bring him unexpected passion, he struggles to ind a way to have it all. Then he discovers Abigail's uncle, confessor to King Louis VII of France, plots against the English king, and Alain must choose between protecting his king or the woman he loves beyond all reason.

ART OF LOVE is available in both print and e-book formats from The Wild Rose Press, Amazon and other booksellers. ISBN: 1-60154-381-6. To read an excerpt, go to:

To buy:

Keena Kincaid, author of ANAM CARA and ART OF LOVE from The Wild Rose Press, lives on the frozen tundra sometimes called Chicago. Her only house rule: don’t talk to her before the first cup of coffee in the morning. You can find her at, as well as MySpace, FaceBook and Twitter. Her books are available at The Wild Rose Press, Amazon, Fictionwise, Barnes & Noble, Sony and other online and offline booksellers.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Mother's Day Contest Giveaway

Hello, Readers!

Today I get to post about a subject everybody's time for another contest giveaway. Yay!

We had a blast with our last giveaway. So much so, we began making plans for the next contest almost right away. Our prize this time will be similar to our grand prize basket from Valentine's Day, with autographed books, a $25 Barnes & Noble giftcard, adorable crafts that Teresa Reasor and Sloan Seymour have volunteered to make with their own two little hands, and more!

For the last contest we had over 50 entrants. We'd love to top ourselves and get even more this time, so don't hesitate. All you have to do is leave us a comment related to Mother's Day. You could write a little paragraph about your mother, or maybe a humorous story about something you did together, or even something about what actually being a mother means to you. As long as it pertains to the holiday, it's up to you.

We'll be choosing a winner the night before, and announcing it the day of, Mother's Day. Good luck!

Here's a picture of our grand-prize Valentine's Day Giveaway basket, won by Melissa.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Some Updates and "Tearing Down the Big B"

Hello pink thinkers! :) I hope this Monday finds you all doing well, not suffering too much from the instability of the economy.

As for me, my day job was phased completely out last week. But, I'm taking it in stride. I choose the silver lining! Now that I'm off work, I can focus some much needed attention on my writing (which is what truly makes me happy anyway). So no worries!

With that said, on to Pink Lady business. Last Monday's Inspiration, Ink. entry was dedicated to the final hero archetype, The Chief. We had so much fun doing them, and had such a great response, we do intend to go on with the archetypes, doing blogs on both the heroine and the villain, fun! So you can expect those in the very near future.

This week, however, we're going to post another wonderful article from Teresa Reasor's bountiful archive of goodies. What a fantastic talent she is -- and a wonderful teacher. So kudos to her for taking the time out to write these gems up for us.

Another thing I wanted to let everyone know...the Pink Ladies are planning another contest. We were thrilled with the success of the last one, and have planned another for Mother's Day. I'm going to officially announce all the details on Wednesday, so there's a little something to look forward to.

Before I turn the forum over to Teresa's article, I wanted to remind everyone of the upcoming book signing at Barnes & Noble in Lexington, KY on Friday, March 27 (6:00-8:00pm). Drop by if you can, we'd love to meet you! There is also a writing workshop on Saturday, March 28. It's hosted by our home chapter, KYRWA, and is $20 for members/$30 for nonmembers. It lasts all day, and we have some really great speakers/presentations lined up.


And now, on to the article......


Tracy Preston


Tearing Down the Big B
By Teresa Reasor

Writers Block is a condition that no writer ever wants to think about or experience. I refer to this condition as constipation of the mind. Norman Mailer said it better, “Writer’s Block is a failure of the ego—it’s a matter of not being in charge of your own mind.”

There are several things that cause this condition, but don’t despair, there are things you can do to break though the blocks they cause as well.

Fear of Failure is one of the things that cause writer’s block. You may not even be aware of this fear. In order to conquer it, you must face it. Write down all the things about the writing process that frightens you. (100,000 words to face. How will I begin? How will I end it? What if it sucks? )

Now write down all the things that anger you about the process. (All this time I’ll spend on this story and some editor will reject it.) Get all that negative energy out of your system and face it down.

Now ask yourself, what do you gain by not writing and write it down? (More free time to watch television, eat, and sleep.) Ask yourself, what do you gain by writing? (Fulfillment, pleasure, creative fluency, sanity.)

Just putting all this down on paper will free you from the emotional baggage that prevents you from writing and point out to you all the benefits that you reap from allowing yourself to pursue our dream. Post those benefits somewhere you can read them often.

Find a book that you think is badly written. (There are some out there, trust me.) Keep it next to your computer. Whenever those self-doubts rear their ugly heard, open up that book and read it. You know you can do better.

Fear of Success is sometimes known as Perfectionism run amuck. You’re stuck on those first few chapters and never get any further. You keep going back over the same pages polishing or making minor changes. You spend an excessive amount of time doing research or worrying about minor details.

This is a behavior that is difficult to break, but it can be conquered. Read the pages you’ve written and allow yourself a tweak or two then get on with it. To keep from toying too much, Alicia Rasley has an exercise called the 10 minute Block Buster you can use.

Give yourself time to think about what you want to accomplish with the scene. Call a friend who writes also. Each of you sit at the keyboard and discuss what you are going to write about. Set a kitchen timer for 10 minutes. Say go and hang up. Don’t allow yourself to stop for misspelled words or grammatical errors. When the alarm goes off, stop and call your friend back and exchange results.

This exercise will jump start the process, but it will not dissuade you from editing and polishing yourself back to the beginning again. It will give you new material to edit though and perhaps inspire you to move forward instead of back tracking.

Another thing you can do is to set a number of words, paragraphs, or pages, you wish to get done within a reasonable time frame and stick to it.

Achieving perfection in a first draft is not going to happen. You can train yourself to write as clean a first draft as possible, with practice, but there will still be things that need your attention. Pretend this first draft is going to be the only one and don’t second-guess yourself. Go with your first instincts, they usually prove to be the right ones.

Fear of finishing is a part of the fear of success. You write the end of your story over and over. You send the manuscript to contests but don’t submit it to a publisher. Take a minute to clarify your goals for the story. If it wasn’t to get it into print, then why put forth the effort? Write down all the bad things that could happen by submitting it. It could be rejected. There’s as good a possibility that it won’t be. You’ll never know unless you take the chance.

Set a date that you’re going to submit your manuscript and tell your friends, your family, and your fellow writers and do it. Once you’ve said you’re going to do it, it will be more difficult not to follow through.

You’re overwhelmed by the magnitude of writing a novel. Don’t allow yourself to think of your story in terms of the completed manuscript. Just the thought of that 50,000 or 100,000 words that you have to produce is enough to make every one of your creative urges dry up. Your plum of an idea will turn into a prune without the benefit of a dehydrator. Think in terms of sentences first, then paragraphs, then pages, then chapters. Don’t concentrate on the number of pages you’re producing, but the process of writing instead. After a week or two or even a month, allow yourself to look at the manuscript as being part of the book. By then you’ll be well on your way.

Lack of planning can bring on the next block. You’ve written the first few chapters with little trouble. A wave of enthusiasm for an idea that you feel is wonderful has made every word fall into place. All at once you come upon the next chapter with the force of a runaway freight train only to slam into the big B. What happens next? This is simple enough. It’s time to take a step back and take a closer look at your plot and your characters.

Using a large desk calendar and post it notes. List all the major plot points of your story using the blocks as though they are chapters. This can be planned in as loose or as detailed a fashion as you wish. Just writing it down will fix those major points in your mind. Writing them down on something big so you can see them each time you look up will help you brainstorm for ideas.

Build the imagery of how your characters look and sound in your mind and create for them a background. Step into their shoes and walk around for a while. Pay close attention to their body movements; listen to their thoughts and feelings. Transport yourself to the locale your characters live at. Take a walking tour of the area, historical period, country, or house. Try to see the area through their eyes, hear what they hear, smell and taste what they do. Now conduct an interview with your characters. Ask them how they feel about the things you have planned for them. List all the possible motivations your characters may have and brainstorm for others.

Keep a notebook in which to organize all this new information and the impressions that arise from it so you can refer back to it. Now focus back on the point you’ve reached in your story. Write down what your character’s internal and external conflicts are and what they want. Now try raising the stakes and see what happens.

Help my characters have taken over! This block occurs when all your plotting has gone for naught and your characters are behaving in ways you had not planned. They are making speeches to explain what’s happening rather than reacting to the things going on in your scenes. Somewhere along the way you’ve gotten off track or lost focus.

Read over the entire story and analyze it with the critical questions of:

1. Do I know my characters well enough?
2. Have I depicted their motivations, their thoughts, and their feelings consistently?
3. Are my scenes furthering the plot or are they just so much fluff and filler?
4. Have I begun each scene in the thick of some action or reaction?
5. Have I relied too heavily on predictable answers and painted myself into a corner?

These are tough questions, but ones that will point out weakness or unnecessary side trips. Find the place where your focus began to waver, then cut and do some restructuring.

If none of the afore mentioned solutions destroy the block between you and your writing there are still some techniques you can use that may help.

Keep a notebook in which to organize your research. When you reach an impasse in your work, go back and research details you’ve put off for later. Sometimes new information can jump start a blocked passage of work or inspire a new passage all together.

Think in terms of your book being a movie. Movies depend on their pacing as much, if not more than books. Perhaps the scene you’re stalled on is holding back the flow of your story. Change the scene so that it starts in the midst of some moment of action or emotional intensity.

We are affected by our surroundings and so are your characters. Change the setting of the scene to a different locale.

Try writing the scene from the opposite perspective than what you’ve written it. Or just as a technique to get you going again, write the scene from the perspective of a secondary character as though they are observing your main character’s actions and reactions. This will give you a true reading on your character’s motivations.

Write anything that is related to what you are writing, including your feelings about it.

Brainstorm either alone or with a network of friends and write it down so that the fluency of ideas can be studied.

Write the middle or the end of the story and work your way backward.

Talk to your readers, hypothetically. Ask them what they are most interested in finding out about your story.

Using index cards, write down the main ideas of your scene, and arrange them in the order you think they aught to go. Tape them to a large sheet of paper or poster board. Brainstorm ideas for dialogue, characterization, and narration around them.

Pick out the most outrageous thing your characters could do and allow them to do it.

Switch from a computer to a notebook and pen or change location where you write.

Spend some time meditating and playing your favorite writing music. Let your mind wander over other territory before fixing it upon the problem at hand.

Write a letter to a friend or make a phone call and talk about your story. Ideas will surface.

Allow yourself to play. Inject some unexpected humor in your scene to jump-start it.

Try another skill. Write a poem that describes what you want your scene to convey.

Take a walk. While your body is in motion, your mind will be thinking about your story. (Stephen King did this every day, until a car hit him.)

Take it in small steps. Say I’m going to finish this sentence, this paragraph, this page. Before long you’ll have finished a chapter.

Take a listening tour of your scenes. Read your scenes aloud into a tape recorder and play them back or have a friend read them aloud to you. Ask a friend to read your dialogue with you as though your scene is a screen play.

In his book, How to Write Fast ( While Writing Well), David Fryxell suggests something that will prevent Writer’s Block. He calls the technique building creative pressure. You plot and plan letting your ideas ferment until you can practically read the scenes in your minds eye, then you sit down to write them. This technique takes patience but insures you will always know where your story is going.

He also suggests setting a reasonable time frame in which to work and to be consistent. Don’t work past that time. Get up and leave it even if you’re tempted to continue. This gives you time to think through your ideas and allows them time to incubate. It also keeps your momentum going for the work.

Frank Hajcak makes a profound observation in his book Expanding Creative Imagination Through Active Perception. He says, “A creative thought may come in a flash. A creative act, on the other hand, is formulated over time. It requires patience and effort. The time between conception of an idea and its completion may be weeks or months. Creativity cannot be rushed. It is a labor of love: love of the craft, of the skill, of the idea which engendered the act, and love and acceptance of yourself the creator.”

Be patient, allow your creative thoughts to come to fruition in their own time and love and accept yourself as a person and a writer. Most of all have faith in your self. That alone will allow you to knock down all the blocks between you and your dreams.

Phyllis A. Whitney, Guide to Fiction Writing, The Writer, Inc., 1982.

Nancy Kress, Beginnings, Middles, and Ends, Writers Digest Books, 1993.

Julia Cameron, The Artists Way, Jeremy P. Tarcher/ Putnam, 1992.

Donald Maass, Writing the Breakout Novel, Writers Digest Books, 2001.

David Fryxell, How to Write Fast (While Writing Well), Writers Digest Books, 1992.

Frank Hajcak and Tricia Garwood, Expanding Creative Imagination Through Active Perception, Human Potential Press, 1993.

Kathleen Gerberick, Character Exercise,, 1994.

Alicia Rasley, Writer’s Block Buster,

Idea Miner, Writer’s Block,

Deane Gradous, Techniques for Getting Started Writing,

Friday, March 20, 2009

Special Guest Margay Leah Justice

Getting Into Character

I have a confession to make. I hear voices in my head. Now, under normal circumstances, this confession would make one question their sanity and perhaps lead to years of intensive therapy. But I left out an important part of the confession: I am a writer. The voices I hear in my head are those of the characters that live there, in the land of my imagination, toying with my gray matter until I finally tease them out and onto the page. And there is the secret, at least for me, of characterization. I have to be able to hear the voices before I can get a fix on the characters.

As anyone who takes a pen to paper will tell you, characterization is an integral part of the story. You can have a mediocre plot, a tried and true plot, and yet still make it come alive with fascinating characters. Likewise, boring characters can sink a good plot. Just ask any reader what kept them enthralled in a book and more often than not they will give you a detailed description of…the characters. What do you remember most about Romeo and Juliet? The intricacies of the plot – or how passionate the lovers were for each other? What about the movie Titanic? What remains fixed in your mind, the fact that the ship sank after striking an iceberg or the ill-fated love affair between Jack and Rose?

Characters define a story; they are the backbone of the plot. Everything that happens within the story depends upon the type of characters that populate it. So the writer owes it to the reader to give him or her characters they will not forget. Characters that will live within them long after the last page is read and the book is closed. Characters that make them want to revisit that book again and again. How? For me, it is the simple matter of feeling that way about the characters myself. After all, if I can’t feel passionate about my characters, how can I expect my readers to? And so I listen to my characters.

For me, listening to the way they speak, the words they use, is an integral part of characterization. That is how I “get into” character. I playact in my mind. Visualize the character in a scene and play with her emotions. It helps to imagine a certain actress playing the character in a movie, to run the scene in my head like it’s a filmstrip. How does she sound? How does she stand? What does she look like when she’s angry? These are all key ingredients to characterization. You have to think of them as real people, full-bodied and well-developed. When you start wondering how your character would feel about a certain situation or how she would handle a certain crisis, then you have done your job. If you can write a line of dialogue and on a second pass realize that your character would never say that, or at least not in that way, then you’re totally in synch with your character and are one step closer to remaining true to them.

At this point, you might be thinking that’s all well and good, but how do you get so in tune with your characters? Another good tool that I use, in addition to the filmstripping, is the character interview. This is a fun and cool exercise for the writer because we never know just what our characters are going to say until we ask the questions. As evidenced in an interview of one of my characters – Dante, from Nora’s Soul – when he was interviewed by Pat Bertram Suffice it to say that Dante’s true nature leapt right off the page from the moment of his introduction – and he didn’t let up once. Not only did this make for an interesting interview, it made the character more memorable.

Why not try it for yourself? You just never know what you might learn when you open up your mind to the voices in your head.

Margay Leah Justice is the author of Nora’s Soul, published by Second Wind Publishing, LLC. To learn more about the author, visit her website at Nora’s Soul is currently available at

Monday, March 16, 2009

Hero Archetype: The Chief

My opinion on “The Chief” archetype is somewhat biased, and maybe could even benefit from a disclaimer….

My belief is that the best Chief prototypes (drum roll)… don’t wear undergarments. Yep, you heard me correctly. As in, naked underneath!

Think, Last of the Mohicans and Daniel Day-Lewis as Hawkeye. What better quintessential alpha hero could there be? This hero was born to lead. He fights for honor and protects the weak. He doesn’t follow rules; he made the rules. He’s the man that takes care of everyone and everything. Dependable and decisive, don’t you dare smart-mouth this fiery lord. Because he can be overbearing and unbendable at times.

Bound by the law to join the militia to aid the British, Hawkeye is forced to leave his family defenseless against the Huron Indians who are allied with the French. Tough, used to being in charge and merciless with his loyalty, I wouldn’t have wanted to be one of the guards arresting him for sedition!

Two other chief examples come from the same motion picture and are why we love the film Troy. Two non-undergarment-wearing, bad-ass chiefs in one climatic feature. Wow. I need a drink. As both these honorable souls fight for their beliefs, we clench our teeth and watch Eric Bana, as Sparta’s Prince Hector, and Brad Pitt, as Achilles, show us examples of what real chiefs should be.

Russell Crowe in Gladiator. Case in point, this hero is lovable. Fighting to avenge his murdered family, fighting for the deceased Emperor, fighting for Rome, and for his freedom, this chief personality rises through the ranks of the arena to become the historical gladiator we all know him to be. A true chief in every sense of the word.

Lastly, let’s not leave out Kevin Costner as John Dunbar in Dances With Wolves. Because he wasn’t wearing much under that Indian skirt-thingy! Devotion defines this hero. With his heart on his shoulder, this chief would rather starve than allow his wild wolf, Two Socks, to go hungry. Relentless courage enabled him to fight off the enemy Native Americans who threatened his own beloved Indian tribe. Talk about conquering the West...

All in all, I think it’s safe to say: ya gotta love the chiefs. Undergarments or not. :)

Posted By: Sloan Seymour

Friday, March 13, 2009

Special Guest: Harlequin Author Kay Stockham

When Timing Is Everything

I asked Tracy for blog suggestions and her request was to blog about craft or publishing, maybe something career oriented?

Well, that I can do. Because I have a dilemma maybe you can help me with. You see, it’s release week for me. HER BEST FRIEND’S BROTHER officially hit the shelves on Wednesday, which means I’m a busy gal this month. Why? Publishing is a numbers game, we all know that. And during release week you want the sales figures for your book to be as HIGH as they can be. Which means blogging, promoting, chatting, whatever you can do to get those numbers up.

I’ve been so busy here lately though that I feel like I’ve dropped the ball this time around. I’m blogging, but not as much. I’m chatting, but not as much. I’m promoting, but not as much. Why? Because that’s just the way it is. I feel I’m at a very strange stage in my career right now. I’m busy, busy, busy as a still fairly new author, but I could also use the help of an assistant.

That brings up a whole ‘nuther round of questions, the least of which is money. Even after 9 stories in print, I’m a new author, meaning new author money. Can I afford to hire an assistant in an economy such as this? Gotta tell you, it’s iffy.

Then again, if I don’t, I see my writing suffering because I’m doing so much of the busy-work involved in promoting myself as an author that my output is being compromised. And we all know you can’t promote what you don’t have to sell. Timing is everything in this business, so you need to make the right moves at the right times. But is this it?

It’s such a hard decision to make. Can I justify an assistant? Yes. Oh, my yes. I sat down one day and made a list of things the assistant could do that would free up my time. Believe me, it was a long list. But just to play devil’s advocate—we all know how writers are. If I actually have that free time, would I write or would I play?

Ahhh, see?

Before I take such a step I have to make sure I’m committed 100 percent. Not to writing, I am committed to writing, 9 books proves it. But I have to be 100 percent committed to myself and know for a fact that this is a wise decision for me. I’m not the type to jump first and look later. Anytime I’ve ever done that, I’ve paid for the bad decisions. Usually in horrible and embarrassing ways. sigh

Beyond actually paying an assistant, there’s the whole act of actually finding an assistant. I wouldn’t need someone full time, just a few hours a week at first.

Then there’s the whole privacy/trust issue. I have a home, a family. In this day and age, who do you trust? Having been burned in the past with personal relationships of various sorts, I have trust issues. (LOL Yeah, I know. Who DOESN’T?)

So, any suggestions? Most of you here are authors and/or business professionals and I’d love your take on when you think the time is right. I’ll even offer up a copy of HER BEST FRIEND’S BROTHER to one lucky poster who comments.


KayKay Stockham’s latest release is titled HER BEST FRIEND’S BROTHER and is book three of the Tulanes of Tennessee series. HER BEST FRIEND’S BROTHER received 4.5 stars from Romantic Times and was chosen as an RT Top Pick! Kay has also been a RITA Award, HOLT Medallion and Book Buyers’ Best finalist. For more information on Kay’s series, backlist, contest, blog or to read excerpts or check out her book videos, go to

The Tulanes of Tennessee Series

Available NOW!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Poetry and Music of Voice

By: Teresa Reasor

The voice of fiction sings to the reader as clearly as any vocalist who croons a melody. But just as a choir is made up of a variety of strong and pure, or thin and reedy voices, so are the voices that speak through the written word.

Voice speaks through the devices of plot, character, dialogue, description, tone, style, pacing, and theme. But how?

Wanting to strengthen my own voice, I decided to find out. I chose three writers who have distinctive, strong voices: Joanne Rock, Catherine Mann, and JoAnn Ross. All three are contemporary writers. All three have voices that sing on the page.

In her September Harlequin Blaze, Sex and the Single Girl, Joanne Rock’s turns of phrase jump off the page with an energy that’s natural and inherently part of her voice. Every sentence is constructed to convey a story within a story.

Real life collided with the image on the monitor as Brianne walked in on Aiden and the cigarette girl in a liplock to set a woman’s heart racing. The stacked little blonde pressed every one of her considerable curves against Aiden and practically climbed her way up his tall body.

In two sentences Joanne has nearly constructed an entire scene, but she’s also done much more. She’s paced those two sentences in a snappy rhythm that invites the reader to jump from one to the other by using words that convey action--even when they’re not used as verbs. Collided, walked, set, racing, stacked, pressed, climbed. Her words punch the imagery she uses into the reader’s consciousness.

The word liplock, a colloquialism, has an onomatopoeic zing to it. It stamps an immediate image in the reader’s mind of two people kissing one another with the inseparable intensity of a suction cup on glass.

The stacked little blonde pressed every one of her considerable curves against Aiden and practically climbed her way up his tall body.

With the phrase considerable curves, Ms. Rock uses alliteration to enhance the rhythm of the sentence. The sound of the C is repeated in the verbs collided and climbed and the words stacked and practically tying the whole paragraph together.

Do you feel the snappy beat of Joanne Rock’s voice yet? If not let’s continue a little further into the scene.

Instead, she steeled herself against the sultry overload of hormones in Honeymoon Heaven and took command of the room in her best director voice.

“Am I interrupting something?”

Aiden Maddock had been waiting to hear that throaty purr all night.

He hadn’t particularly wanted to hear it while he had Daisy Stephenson clinging to him like a honeysuckle vine.

Once again look at the words that convey action. Steeled, overload, took, command, interrupting, waiting, hear, purr, wanted, clinging.

Listen for the alliteration again. Hormones in Honeymoon Heaven.

Look at the concentrated imagery she conveys in the phrases sultry overload, throaty purr, and the Simile she uses in the last sentence, clinging to him like a honeysuckle vine.

Do you feel that sassy sizzle in the tone she sets in just these few paragraphs with the word choices she’s made? That’s her voice, completely natural for her and impossible to imitate, with any consistency, by anyone else.

Catherine Mann writes for Silhouette Intimate Moments. Her special ability to weave emotional intensity into almost every paragraph through internal and external dialogue makes her voice rich and full. Here’s an excerpt from her Wingmen Warrior release, Strategic Engagement.

“I’m so damned scared, Danny.”

Mary Elise’s thready words barely whispered against his neck until he might have questioned his hearing. But he felt each word and all her fear soak into him along with the heat of her rapid breaths.

“Tell me,” he coaxed. “Tell me what to do for you.”

Look at Catherine’s action oriented word choices. Scared, whispered, questioned, felt, soak, coaxed, tell.

Feel the intimacy building between the characters in the turns of phrase, whispered against his neck, felt each word, fear soak into him along with the heat, and even in the dialogue tag, he coaxed. Even though the dialogue is about fear there’s a sensual push and pull going on the entire time that connects the characters on an elemental level.

She inched back, her hand sliding up his face again. “Oh Danny, can’t you see that you and all this---“ she slipped her hand around his neck in a sensual glide “--- this tension between us that we can’t ignore is a big part of the problem? You need to believe me when I say I just can’t risk staying here with you.”

His arms around her twitched, muscles convulsively tensing to hold her closer, safer. As much as he wanted to reassure her, he couldn’t. He knew himself too well.

Listen to the action words that once again convey sensual tension, inched, sliding, see, slipped, glide, tension, ignore, believe, risk, staying, twitched, tensing, hold, wanted, knew. Her word choices impress upon the reader the sexual awareness between her characters in a tactile, natural tone that is entirely her own.

Catherine Mann’s ability to build strong, tender male characters is one of the elements that make her voice resonate.

But he felt each word and all her fear soak into him along with the heat of her rapid breaths.

“Tell me,” he coaxed. “Tell me what to do for you.”

His arms around her twitched, muscles convulsively tensing to hold her closer, safer.

The character is strong, willing to jump into the fray, and nearly vibrates with tenderness and a desire to protect. He’s every woman’s fantasy, warrior, lover, husband, yet he still comes across as realistic.

Her choice of that kind of character is as much a part of her voice as the words she chooses to convey the emotional attachment between her characters.

JoAnn Ross writes Contemporary Mainstream Romance and is published through Pocket. In her book Out of the Mist, she weaves the element of theme throughout her writing and ties the entire story together with it.

Her character’s are of Scottish heritage, her setting the highlands of North Carolina, the theme interlaced throughout the story Smokey Mountain-Gaelic-Medieval Scot in texture.

To demonstrate what I mean I must jump around within the text instead of choosing a single scene.

Ian had seen that look before. It was the look of his grandfather’s Westie, right before the dog grabbed onto the postman’s trousers and refused to let go. It was also the look Duncan got in his eyes whenever he’d parade some local girl in front of his grandson in hopes of ensuring a MacDougall heir.

JoAnn Ross’s descriptive passage sings with the flavor of bagpipes and tin flutes melding the modern and medieval cultures together. Her use of repetition places emphasis on the words It was the look portrays as much persistent determination as a Scotsman clutching a horn of ale.

Her ability to pen similes with fresh appeal lends a melodic quality to her voice that’s all her own.

Her brain was washed as clear as the Star of Edinburgh tumblers she’d dusted today; color as rich and dazzling as Saxon Falconer’s blown glass flashed behind her closed lids.

She moaned, her hands fisting in the ebony silk of his hair, as he lifted her off the floor to deepen the kiss. Her breasts flattened against his chest, which was as rock hard as the mountains of his homeland, their bodies so close together she couldn’t tell whether it was his heart pounding she felt, or her own.

His teeth nipped at her bottom lip, just hard enough to send desire surging through her like a bolt of lightning from a summer storm.

By tying her character’s emotions to things both concrete and elemental, she anchors their feelings and responses in reality and gives the reader a point of reference making them more visual to the audience.

He flashed a grin as wicked as a devil’s wink, as dangerous as a Highlander’s blade.

The hyperbolic phrasing of this sentence uses dramatic overstatement with playful exaggeration and gives the reader the idea that the character is as larger-than-life as he’s intended to be.

Do you recognize the theme meandering through the story? Do you hear the poetic lyrics penned through the use of similes, repetition, hyperbole? Her use of these devices in her descriptive passages is part of what makes her voice distinctive.

And last of all, look at all the action words that pepper each one of the lines and scenes I’ve just used as examples. Seen, look, grabbed, parade, ensuring, washed, dusted, flashed, lifted, deepen, flattened, pounding, nipped, surging. Those words were chosen with an eye for visual or tactile appeal and an ear for the pacing of the story.

Joanne Rock, Catherine Mann, and JoAnn Ross use all the elements of writing that I’ve mentioned, not just the ones I’ve focused on in their writing. It is their unique way of interweaving them within the structure of their stories that constitutes their voices. Their plots are as varied as their characters and their styles. But the similarities in the components in their writing are there to discover for anyone who picks up their books and opens their pages.

Their choice of words, ensures the pacing of their stories, is always geared toward action, and tactile or visual richness. Their use of similes or metaphors never leans toward the cliché and always offers a new and fresh visual clue to the reader. Their characters remain constant and true to what the reader expects from them. The themes they ribbon through their story lines create symmetrical connections that complete their stories. And their abilities to cast sensual, romantic spells that draw their readers in and capture their imaginations and emotions, through their use of description, are acknowledged by the success of the books they’ve produced.

Johnny Payne, author of Voice and Style, paraphrases an idea first penned by Aristotle when he says, “The ability to imitate, marks the beginning point of art.” As writers, we can certainly attempt to imitate these writer’s voices. But like so many Elvis impersonators who have tried to emulate the King, we’d most likely fall short of the mark.

But by studying their voices, any writer can learn and perhaps discover the poetic music of an original written voice.

Joanne Rock, Sex and The Single Girl, Harlequin Blaze, ISBN 0-373-79108-9, 2003.

Catherine Mann, Strategic Engagement, Silhouette Intimate Moments, ISBN 0-373-27327-4, 2003.

JoAnn Ross, Out of the Mist, Pocket Books, ISBN 0-7394-3824-7, 2003.

Johnny Payne, The Elements of Fiction Writing Voice and Style, Writers Digest Books, ISBN 0-89879-693-8, 1995.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Hero Archetype: The Lost Soul

The Lost Soul

The lost soul archetype is one of my absolute favorites. Something about this tortured hero calls to my inner Libra, imploring me to drop whatever I’m doing and fix what has been broken immediately!

The lost soul is exactly that -- lost. At some point in his life, be it during child or adulthood, he has suffered great pain in some form, which (in most cases) eventually drove him into a protective shell of solitude. He is typically solemn, passionate, deep, and brooding. But most of all, he seems outwardly incapable of leaving himself vulnerable to the risk of further heartache. This hero has been burned by fate and doesn’t relish the thought of tempting her wrath by reaching out to another person.

One good example of a lost soul is widowed police officer, Martin Riggs in Lethal Weapon. This poor hero was so devastated by the premature loss of his wife he became a kamikaze–style cop, immersing himself in the dangers of his job, and often in the bottom of a whiskey bottle. With nothing left to lose, Riggs plowed into criminal cases with an unspoken desperation that courted suicide.

By the end of the movie, however, he’d found some amount of solace in the welcoming acceptance of his partner and his loving family. And by the end of the series, partly because of the growth and healing his partner helped guide him through, he was finally able to trust his heart, and allow himself to love and marry again. (You’ve gotta love a HEA!)

Another good example would be Frank Castle. Talk about your tortured souls…Frank did not consider himself lucky to survive when a crime boss out for revenge ordered his minions to wipe out the entire Castle family at their annual reunion. He was forced to watch helplessly as his entire family was brutally assassinated, including his wife and son. He then transforms himself into The Punisher, completely void of self, his mind set on one objective – to make them pay.
By the end of the movie, Frank viciously manipulates his revenge. But along the way he meets a loveable group of misfits who eventually manage to burrow into his gloomy good graces. Though he doesn’t quite find that happily ever after place that we all love to see our heroes reach, he does find the will to feel again, and leaves you with hope that one day he’ll find that special woman to help put the pieces of his shattered heart back together.

The last hero I wanted to discuss is the consummate lost soul. No discussion of this archetype would be complete without him. He is the only lost soul who became even more lost after his soul was returned to him.

The prime example of a lost soul, Angel is a vampire with a soul, forced to live for eternity bearing the burden of his soulless misdeeds. Dark and solitary, not only is Angel hesitant to open his heart to a woman, he suffers from the knowledge that no matter what, it will always be a lost cause. Because of the Gypsy curse that restored his soul, he is forbidden from experiencing even one moment of peace lest he lose his soul again, returning him to the demon-possessed monster responsible for so many deaths in the past. Simply put, Angel is strictly prohibited from physically consummating any meaningful relationship he might otherwise have nurtured.

The bad news is, even though he found himself involved with Buffy Summers in one of television’s most memorable love stories, it wasn’t meant to be, and the two star-crossed lovers parted ways with heavy hearts. The good news…look at it this way, even though he didn’t find his HEA in Buffy’s arms, he has the rest of eternity to find a way to love again. And Joss Whedon willing…he will!

Tell me about your favorite lost soul, and why you do or don’t love them.

Posted by: Tracy Preston
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