Friday, February 27, 2009

The Plot and Nothing But the Plot

By Teresa J. Reasor

According to Ansen Dibell in his book, Plot, How to build short stories and novels that don’t sag, fizzle, or trail off in scraps of frustrated revision-and how to rescue stories that do., plot is a verb. The struggle a writer goes through to hew his plot is certainly worthy of verbal recognition. And the story itself should be as well.

The important points in your story are the Hook, the inciting incident that starts the ball rolling, and the Climax, the moment in your story where the bad has become as bad as it can get. The climax should be the point where the heroine/hero prove themselves worthy of their heroine/hero status. Everything between these two points, the hook and the climax, should build from one to the other.

Most of us are familiar with the Story Arc that some plots follow. This structure divides a plot into increments between the Hook and the Climax in this manner:

1. Hook, Call to Action
2. Choice, Bad Things Happen
3. Gray Moment
4. Black Moment-Crisis
5. Climax
6. Resolution

The above structure is based loosely on The Hero’s Journey by Christopher Vogler which is:

1. Ordinary world
2. Call to Adventure
3. Refusal of the Call
4. Meeting the Mentor
5. Crossing the First Threshold
6. Tests, Allies, Enemies
7. Approach to the inmost Cave
8. Ordeal
9. Reward (Seize the Sword)
10. The Road Back
11. Resurrection
12. Return with the Elixir

I much prefer the Stairway to Suspense structure which is:

1st step: The hook (the Call to Action.)
2nd step: The decision or choice the heroine/hero makes that turns the story in the direction it will travel. This choice is based on some character flaw that guides the character’s motivation for the choice.
3rd step: The choice creates obstacles to solving the situation.
4th step: The character makes another choice which causes more problems and the situation worsens.
5th step: The more choices a character makes the more obstacles will be thrown into his/her path.
6th step: The climax where the greatest obstacles and the greatest attempts must be made to overcome the situation created in the hook.
7th step: The resolution, which is short, sweet, and should tie up all the loose ends and leave the reader feeling completely satisfied.

During the building from Hook to Climax, the plot should be firmly held in the writer’s mind and everything that happens should be working toward that climatic point of discovery, self-understanding, or solution, or all three.

There are many structures a writer may use to create his/her plot.

The Linear Plot structure is one that moves from the inciting incident (Hook) through a sequence of events to the climax in a seemingly straight line. Sound boring? It shouldn’t be if we do our job as writers. In a linear plot the main plot takes precedence over other things in the story. Between the hook and the climax you can have as many subplots, twists, and turns as your story needs or will allow. But by the moment of climax the subplots should be tied off leaving the hero and heroine to bond together and face the climax together. Most contemporary romances and romantic suspense follow this kind of plot structure.

In a Braided Plot there is a main plot that threads its way through the entire story, but plot lines that move out away from the main plot then fold back in tying the entire story into a cohesive whole. Each plot line that breaks away from the main plot can be an opportunity for the writer to introduce and build a story line for a character. For example: Your story is about three sisters who travel out to Los Angeles seeking fame, fortune, and love. One meets a producer who falls in love with her and puts her in a movie, one meets an architect who seems to be the answer to all her dreams, and one meets a drug dealer who snows her and gets her hooked on cocaine. Say the drug-dealer boyfriend is murdered and all the evidence points to the sister who loved him. The murder may be the main plot, but each sister will have her own point of view, her own story, her own struggles, her own risks she must take, and things she may loose by being involved in the main plot. Each strand must dovetail and loop around the main plot to tie the whole structure together. By the climax of the story all three sisters will have bound together to solve the crime and face the bad guy.

In the Circular Plot structure the Hook and the Climax are bound together by an intimate set of characters, an object, or a location. For example: In my own manuscript, Captive Hearts, the hero, Matthew Hamilton, has been imprisoned unjustly for smuggling. By the Black Moment of the story, he is once again imprisoned, this time for murder. The book begins in the prison and the Black Moment takes us back to that same location.

Most circular plot lines have a conclusion that is quiet and introspective. In the case of Captive Hearts, the villain, Garrett Blake watches the hero and heroine, sail away to America, and thinks, though he has nearly been captured, he will live to fight another day. When he turns to leave the dock he discovers a group of English soldiers waiting to arrest him. Who says quiet has to be boring or without action. (This character and ending were edited from the story before publication.) Captive Hearts, 2007.

A Parallel Plot is where two different plots are traveling through the story at the same time. These two plot lines may mirror each other in terms of action or events, though the characters in each may be totally different. For example: In my manuscript Timeless, a reincarnation/parallel universe story, my heroine in the past, Coira, dies underwater. My heroine in the present, Regan, is a marine archeologist who is studying the monoliths underwater. Coira is a druid priestess who runs afoul of the village priest. Regan runs afoul of someone on the dig. Coira is kidnapped by the priest and his followers. Regan is hunted by the bad guy (can’t tell you, who it’s a spoiler). The two plot lines converge when Regan has to fight off the present day bad guys at the same time Coira is fighting off the bad guy of the past, in the same room. The plot strands become parallel again when Regan is reunited with her lover and Coira is reunited with her husband.

In parallel plot lines, in order for the pacing to be kept quick, the chapters should be kept short, the point of views structured so that there is no confusion about who is speaking or thinking in each chapter, and the points of action in each plot should be strongly established, but mirror each other sometimes. And there has to be some points of convergence between the story lines that tie them together.

A word of caution about the mirroring technique. I’ve explained mirroring in my own plot very broadly, but though similar events happen, they have to be written in a dissimilar fashion in order to add variety to the plot and keep it interesting. Mirroring should be done in such a subtle manner that the reader doesn’t realize that’s what you’re doing.

The most current example of this I can think of is the Disney movie Finding Nemo, produced by Pixar Studios. At the beginning of the film, father Marlin and son Nemo are together. Catastrophe happens and they are separated. Marlin meets Dory, who becomes his support network, Nemo meets all the fish in the fish tank, who become his support network. Marlin risks his life to save Dory from a run in with jelly fish, Nemo risks his life in the tank filter to try and free himself and the other fish. The events mirror one another, but are totally different. At the conclusion of the film, father and son find each other and bond together to save Dory and their parallel plots have merged to end the story.

These Plotting structures and methods are by no means the only ones available to writers, but some of the best I have found. Like everything else in writing, there are a myriad number of techniques to use in plotting and an unlimited number of scenarios to write about. Those can only be limited by a writer’s imagination. Your imagination is perhaps the most important plotting device, so use it well.

Ansen Dibell, Plot, How to build short stories and novels that don’t sag, fizzle, or trail off in scraps of frustrated revision-and how to rescue stories that do., 1988, Writer’s Digest Books.

Teresa Reasor, Captive Hearts, 2007, The Wild Rose Press.

Christopher Vogler, The Writer’s Journey, 1998, Michael Wiese Productions.

Robert Kernen, Building Better Plots, 1999, Writer’s Digest Books.

Walt Disney, Finding Nemo, Produced by Pixar Studios, 2004.

Teresa Reasor, Timeless, Work In Progress, 2008.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

ANYA BAST is Our Special Guest Today

Hi all – Thanks so much to Inspiration, Ink for inviting me to guest blog today!

My name is Anya Bast and I'm the author of over twenty five published works of fiction, most of them paranormal and most of them scorching hot. I write for Berkley Sensation, Harlequin Spice and Samhain, among other houses.

Today I thought I'd talk about that critical first line. I love writing that very first line of a novel. Actually, I obsess over them, rewriting them several times before I end up with the final version.

The first line is the first impression the reader gets of your work while they're standing in the bookstore deciding whether or not to buy your book. It's pretty important! It needs to hook the reader and make them want to read on. Your objective is to intrigue the reader, make them wonder what's going on and why.

If you can accomplish that much, then it's your job in the next few paragraphs to dig that hook in a bit deeper and add a dash of emotion, make the reader care about one of characters enough to invest even further.

Here is a sampling of some of the first lines from my books…

1. He looked like sin and seemed like salvation. Salvation for her sluggish libido, anyway. (Witch Fire, June 5, 2007 — Berkley Sensation)

2. How to Catch a Warlock 101. Isabelle could teach that class. (Witch Blood, March 4, 2008 — Berkley Sensation)

3. Twenty years as a daaeman's handmaiden had prepared Claire for many things, but not this. Nothing could've prepared her for this. (Witch Heart, January 6, 2009 – Berkley Sensation)

4. Sarafina might've been named for the angels, but she'd always known one day she'd end up in hell. (Witch Fury, June 2, 2009 – Berkley Sensation)

5. Alejandro leaned against the bar and watched the crush of dancers gyrate to the pounding beat in the Blood Spot. Lights flashed through the dark interior of the building, periodically illuminating bodies clad in almost nothing. (The Darkest Kiss, October 2008 — Berkley Heat)

6. The brown-haired businessman beside Cassidy at the roulette wheel held up a chip. “Kiss it for luck?” He gave her smarmy grin and a slow head-to-toe perusal. (The Deal, What Happens in Vegas…. May 2008 — Harlequin Spice)

I guess the reason I feel so strongly about my own first lines is because that's usually how I judge whether or not I'll buy someone else's book. My purchasing test goes something like this if the name on the spine is someone unfamiliar to me:
  • Cover art…yeah, I'm shallow. ;) A good cover will get me to investigate a book further. Doesn't mean I'll buy it, just give it a closer look.
  • Back blurb – Does it sound like "my kind" of book? My kind of book invariably being something of the paranormal or fantastical nature.
  • First line – Does it catch me?
If the book passes all those tests, I skim the first page. If that looks good…GLOM. It's mine. *g*

How about you? What are your buying criteria when you encounter an intriguing book at the bookstore by an author you've never heard of? Some people pay attention to the cover quotes, others have a complicated test of flipping through the book at every forty pages or so and reading.

And how about those first lines?

If you're an author, I invite you to share some of your opening gambits in the comments. If you're a reader, what's your buying criteria and do first lines figure into them? Got any fav first lines you'd like to share from anything you've read lately?

I'll give away an autographed copy of my latest release, Witch Heart, to one commenter.

Available NOW from
Berkley Publishing
ISBN-10: 0425225534
ISBN-13: 978-0425225530

Monday, February 23, 2009

Hero Archetype: The Charmer

The Charmer

The Charmer is the ultimate playboy, irresistible and unreliable, the guy who can’t commit. He is sexy and charismatic. He’s the man whose heart-melting smile and charm have you fanning your over-heated face. Hard work is not his mantra, and he tries to get by on his looks and sense of humor. He believes he can talk his way out of anything. He knows how to play people. His parents and friends are just as enthralled with him as he is with himself. Charmers are the life of the parties and appear to have their life together. People are attracted to charmers and are easily persuaded to their viewpoints. Charmers tend to run away if the conversation turns to anything with emotional depth, and they rarely show their true feelings.

In Failure to Launch, MATTHEW MCCONAUGHEY plays a thirty-five year old who enjoys rock climbing and surfing and suffers from a fear of intimacy. He also happens to live with his parents. He uses them to protect him from developing serious relationships. He always seems to be clever enough to stay ahead of the women he dates. When he realizes they’re getting serious, he breaks the news that he’s not interested in a permanent relationship with anyone. He’s a boat salesman; a perfect occupation for a charmer where a smile can make him a fortune without hard work. He can sell anything, and his customers walk away believing they made the perfect purchase.

JAMES GARNER played Bret Maverick, TV's most reluctant hero. He’d rather talk his way out of trouble by buying a fella a drink, or offering up a cigar. He played his cards close to his chest and always seemed to know the cards in the other guy’s hand. Not a cheater but not afraid to bend the rules either. He was a keeper of secrets with the ability to bluff his way through the worst of situations. While not a fighter by nature, he was never afraid to fight if there was no other way. Afterwards, he’d dust off his jacket, resettle his hat, and walk away the winner. Too often, though, he found himself rescuing a damsel in distress. Gambler by trade, Maverick travelled the West in search of good times and the easy way.

LEONARDO DICAPRIO as Jack Dawson, a devil-may-care artist in the Titanic, is a perfect example of a Charmer. He’s a free spirit and knows how to have a good time. After winning two tickets in a poker game he boards the doomed ship moments before it sails. Rose finds his carefree life alluring. She’s a deeply romantic dreamer and Jack’s life represents freedom and all that she’s never had the courage to live; as seen in the following dialogue from the movie.

Rose: “Teach me to ride like a man.”
Jack: “And chew tobacco like a man.”
Rose: “And spit like a man.”
Jack: “What they didn’t teach you at finishing school?”

How could Rose possibly resist his charm?

CARY GRANT was the quintessential handsome charmer who often played the role of wealthy, privileged man who never had to work to maintain his hedonistic lifestyle. He had technique and charm. He was the suave-about-town man who could punctuate a joke with the lift of his brow. He was quick-witted and won the hearts of women without trying. He was not a womanizer, but he loved women. He was a man of natural intelligence and style who could wear a tux better than any man in Hollywood.

Who’s your favorite charmer? It might be a character in a movie or a book, or a real-life guy who has charmed the beegeebees out of you! Give us a shout back and let us know.

Happy Reading!

Posted By: Katherine Lowry Logan

Thursday, February 19, 2009

KYRW Writing Workshop

Spring Into Writing With KYRW!

Have you ever wondered just what goes on behind the closed doors of an RWA chapter meeting? Or maybe you're entertaining the idea of writing a romance yourself (believe me, it's not as easy as it sounds). Or still yet, maybe you've finished that manuscript, and you're looking to fine tune it, but could use a few pointers. This workshop could give you the very answers you've been looking for!

Just to name a few, we've scheduled Alicia Rasley as our featured guest-speaker, and she'll be presenting a workshop on Channeling Your Characters for Dramatic Plot through the Story Journey. Best-selling paranormal author Anya Bast will also be in attendance, presenting a workshop on moving from epub to NY print. We'll also have Leigh Collett, Resplendence Publishing's CEO -- and she'll be taking pitches, so call or email Kathy Logan to set up your appointment ASAP!

What more could you ask for from a writers' event when we've recruited our very own experts in the field of craft and publishing?? And as an added bonus, this time only, KYRW is opening its doors to everyone. That's right, member or not, you're invited. This is your chance to sneak a peek behind the veil, so make it a point to be there! We'd love to meet you!!

(**Permission to forward or repost granted and encouraged.**)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

A Slight Change in Plans

Afternoon Pink Readers!

I just wanted to let everyone know that, due to unexpected circumstances, Virginia Henley will not be blogging with us today. We hope to reschedule her soon. I'll post more information when I have a firm date.

Until then, you can all look forward to next Wednesday's special guest, paranormal and erotic author Anya Bast! I hope you'll join us then.

Tracy Preston

Monday, February 16, 2009

Hero Archetype: The Professor

The Professor

I just watched a movie titled Murder 101 where Pierce Brosnan played a college professor who gets set up for murder. He’s a little absent minded. A little arrogant. A little driven. Very self-absorbed. And teaches a writing class that focuses on plotting and writing suspense novels. And I have to say even knowing all that, had he been a teacher at my college, I’d have never missed a class.

But he wouldn’t have been my choice for either a boyfriend or a husband. And true to the storyline he had an ex-wife who refused to depend on him or take his promises seriously. He’d left her hanging too many times.

When he’s set up for murder, he has to use his superior intellect to think his way free of the trap into which he’s fallen and learns there may be things that are more important than his own little world inside of academia. I’m not going to spoil the movie for anyone, but the stakes are raised higher and higher for our hero and his intellect serves him well.

The Professor doesn’t deal well with change. Jeff Goldblum’s character, David Levinson, in Independence Day is content to use his brilliant talents in small ways in the public sector and has been left behind by his wife who’s followed her own path and kept her focus on a bigger picture.

But David has given his heart and though they’ve been apart for some time, he still wears his wedding band and still loves his wife passionately. He doesn’t waver in that love, no matter how bad things get and he risks everything to save her. So the moral is, the Professor may be absent minded, analytical, and insular, but once he’s let that special person inside his world, he doesn’t stop loving easily.

The Professor is an expert. He feels he was born to do the one thing at which he excels. He’s an acknowledged authority in his area. He has no hidden agendas. Doesn’t try and take on any disguises or try to be anything or anyone else than who he is. He doesn’t understand deceptions, hypocrisy or lies and is confused when they’re used against him. In January Man, Kevin Kline, plays ex-cop Nick Starkey. He’s been forced out of the police department under the suspicion of accepting bribes. Nick becomes a fireman, but his brother, the chief of police, and the mayor look him up when a particular nasty serial killer leaves a trail of dead bodies throughout the city.

Nick has communication problems with the opposite sex, is quirky, and stays inside his head a great deal of the time. But he’s brilliant at solving puzzles. And he doesn’t stop until he gets his man. Even when no one else believes in him, he knows he’s right.

And the ultimate Professor is compulsively organized and obsessive in his need to think things through logically. He doesn’t trust intuitive thinking. Logic and intellect are what counts. He’ll spend hours seeking a solution and be totally oblivious of the woman standing next to him, eager for his attention. Until she grabs him by his pointy ears and kisses his socks off.

The sexy attractiveness of the Professor Archetype lies in his intellect, and his single mindedness. When the chips are down he’ll go the extra mile to find a solution. And he’ll think outside the box to discover it.

Put him in a situation where he finally discovers his lady love, he’ll take care of her with the same single minded devotion as he does to saving the world, the planet, or just the day.

Tell me about the Professor Archetypes you’ve discovered in books and movies you’ve read or watched. I’m eager to hear about them. I’d really like to discover some books where this character is explored. If you have any suggestions let me know.

Write on,
Teresa Reasor

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Congratulations Winners!

A big congratulations to our contest winners!

We deliberated for a long while over all of the wonderful entries, which is why I'm so late in posting. Thanks to all who entered, and if you didn't win this time, be sure and keep an eye out for our next contest. It's just around the corner!

Drum roll please......

The winners are:

1st place - Melissa
2nd place - Natalie
3rd place - Karen H in NC

I'll be notifying all winners by email to request addresses. Thanks again everyone for making our first contest such a huge success!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

What's in a Name?

Good day to you, Pink Thinkers! I’m so happy you could make it to the blog today. Watching the site bloom from a seed of thought since January has been a joy for me, and I truly appreciate all of you. (My fellow Pink Ladies included!)

Being that it’s my turn to blog, of course I wanted to come up with something interesting to write about. I thought about it, and considered doing something cute on the best masculine bodies Hollywood has to offer (sorry, couldn’t resist a little eye candy).

But, after a short deliberation, I chucked the puff piece idea for something more relevant, something that’s been nagging at me and rolling around in my head for awhile now.

Out of the masses of authors available in the publishing world, there are basically two kinds. Those who stick staunchly to one genre, and those who dally, dipping their lil' toesies into different genre pools to check the depth and temperature of the waters.

Myself, I’m fond of dalliance, not quite able to tie myself down to just one genre. I find myself volleying back and forth between my first love, the English/Scottish historical, and the tempting lure of my new flame, the darkly sensual contemporary paranormal.

Don’t look at me like that. I know what you’re thinking. But I’m not the only one who can’t seem to practice genre monogamy! More and more authors seem to be strapping on unique nom de plumes and pasting them boldly onto the covers of a shiny new genres…most prevalently – erotica.

Even mega-author Nora Roberts has jumped onto the multi-genre bandwagon, penning futuristic romantic suspense novels under the pseudonym J. D. Robb. And, from what I understand, Jayne Ann Krentz has slipped into not one, but two other alter identities, also writing as Amanda Quick and Jayne Castle.

Nora and Jayne bring me face to face with my latest writing dilemma…taking on multiple pseudonyms. To name or not to name, that is the question. Most authors (or rather most of the ones I know) are writing under pen names. When they decide to experiment with a second genre, many of them are taking on yet another identity.

I’ve toyed with this idea until it’s so muddled I can’t make up my mind what I want to do. Should I take on another pen name to go with my paranormals?

Is it really easier for readers to discern exactly what they’re getting if I go with a different name that’s specific to my paranormal work, or should I just trust that even though they all have Tracy Preston on the cover, readers can flip them over, read the blurb, and decide whether or not they want to read it?

Do all the names just get confusing and more difficult for readers to keep up with who’s who?

I’d love to hear some opinions on this subject from both authors and readers!

Posted By: Tracy Preston

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Today, Today, It Could Happen Today! (By Guest Blogger Jenna Petersen - aka Jess Michaels)

Today we welcome special guest, Jenna Petersen. With multiple releases from Avon, including Lessons From a Courtesan, Scandalous, and the Lady Spies series, Jenna also writes for Avon Red as erotic romance author Jess Michaels. And, on top of all that writing, Jenna still manages to find the time to run The Passionate Pen...a valuable web resource dedicated to helping aspiring authors.

All that and she still finds time to blog with us. Thanks so much and welcome Jenna!
(And readers don't forget that Jenna is giving away a signed copy of A Red Hot Valentine's Day AND Lessons From a Courtesan right here at Inspiration, Ink! She'll be choosing at random from your comments, so don't be shy! Today's the day to say hello!!)

Hi everyone! I’m so excited to be here at Inspiration Ink! I love that this blog really seems to be for new and aspiring authors in some ways (the blogs covering archetypes were great). I guess I know a little about that section of the writing population because of The Passionate Pen (, which you guys so kindly gave a shout-out to a couple of weeks ago. But more than that, I know about being an aspiring author because I was one… actually for quite a long time.

So today I’d like to talk about the long and winding road that often takes us to publication. For me, it started in 1996 when I wrote my first romance novel. I was in college, I had never really read romance, I thought it would be “easy” and I wrote it single-spaced, on both sheets and handed it out page by page to the girls in my dorm. I fell back in love with writing (I say “back” because I’d always wanted to write) and also in love with the feeling that people loved reading my words. These girls would knock on my door at all hours asking for “one more page”.

But life intervened. I didn’t think I wanted to be a romance writer of all things! In 1998, I graduated with a degree in psychology, my husband got a great job at a major company and I took a year off to get field experience before returning to school for an MA in counseling. And then I started typing that story back into my computer, editing as I went. All the love came back to me, all the joy of writing and creating. We talked about it for a long time and ultimately my husband’s support convinced me to give up on my return to school and dedicate myself to writing romance full-time.

In my own backwards way, I decided hey… maybe I should read some! Instantly I started to question my decision to pursue my dream. I mean, these books were good. How had I missed that before? Anyway, I decided to keep on, and for years I slogged. I wrote books. I submitted books. I got rejected. I wrote more books. I cried. I got an agent. We parted ways. I cried. Lather, rinse repeat.

One day, four years plus into my journey and more than 12 books in… I gave up. I had parted ways with an agent a few months before. Since then, I had sold a couple of novellas to a small publisher and I was writing more erotic short novellas, but I had this thought that I would never sell a historical romance. Never. It was time to give up the ghost. But I had one little book in my collection that I had never sent out. I made a list of five agents I would love to have and sent queries and proposals out. I figured I’d try once more with an agent, when they all rejected me, I’d query it on my own. When THEY all rejected me, I’d stop.

To my surprise, one agent from one of my top picks called me. She wanted me. And she had faith in my writing as a historical romance novelist. Her enthusiasm picked me up, carried me back to my desk and had me writing books again. And believing, in some tiny part of me, that maybe she was right. She seemed smart enough, after all!

It turned out she was. Within six months of us deciding to work together, she sold two books to Avon, my dream publisher. And here we are, five years and 10 books+ later. There were so many stars that aligned for me to take me to where I am now. I decided to try for an agent just one more time. I reached for the stars when it came to agencies. I found an agent who loved me. She gave me back my faith and I gave her books. My editor was in the right mood and had a slot for me.

So I guess the moral of this winding story (sorry) is that it’s so easy to want to give up in this career. I certainly was on the cusp of doing just that. But it’s at those very moments of darkest despair and fear that sometimes we see a light.

Before I published, I used to wake up and say to my husband, “Today, today, it could happen today.” One day, it did. So even when you’re feeling down and like that magical call will never come, look yourself in the mirror and say, “Today, today, it could happen today!”

I’ll be around… um… today. Stop by and let’s talk!

by Jenna Petersen
Available 3/31/09!

"By Valentine's Day"
by Jess Michaels
Available NOW
from Avon Red!

(Click covers for info.)

Monday, February 9, 2009

Hero Archetype: The Best Friend

The Best Friend

I wanted to take this archetype because it’s so completely opposite of what I write and I’m trying to expand my horizons. I write Warriors, true alphas, bossy, sometimes brash, stubborn, sometimes arrogant, who are able to face life threatening experiences without flinching.

The Best Friend Archetype is a true Beta. He’s an all around nice guy, kind, decent, who offers his shoulder to lean on, or cry on, which ever the situation merits. When emotionally things are bad, he’ll be there to hold your hand or mop your tears. But he’s so understated that the idea of romance never occurs to you. But it might sneak up on you once you get to know him. I think he's growing on me.

The Best Friend archetype is so laid back and easy going he fits in everywhere. He does nothing to call attention to himself, yet everyone seems to like him. In a crisis, he’s the cool head of reason. In a fight, he’s the negotiator, or the peacemaker. He’s supportive, stable, dependable, and tolerant, but his lack of assertiveness pushes him to the background and denies him the attention he deserves.

The Best Friend Archetype may have dreams he wants to pursue but never shucks the responsibilities of friends and family long enough to follow them. He has a set belief in how he should behave molded by his place in society. His self-confidence bolsters others self-confidence. He’s practical, understanding, and a good listener and can offer level- headed advice.

The Best Friend Archetype is very observant and can read people. He has a need to help others because it appeals to the nurturing side of his personality. He’s the guy next door who’ll come over to help you move in. Or barring that, he’ll fix you a meal after you’re done.

The Best Friend Archetype is drawn to occupations that help others. Vets, carpenters, dentists, doctors, policemen, or teachers. His empathy for other people makes him understanding and generous. He may not be as dynamic as some of the other characters, but his inner strength and stability makes him good husband and father material--once he’s gained the heroines attention.

One of my favorite movies is Dave with Kevin Kline. Dave is a Beta hero every moment of the film, but by the end of the movie you’re cheering him on because of his ability to maneuver through the political shark-infested waters of Washington D.C. and still mange to do the right thing-- without once raising his voice or becoming anything less than what he is.

Tell me about some of your favorite Beta characters in books and in movies. Or some of the Best Friend characters you’ve created. I’m eager to hear about them.

Write on,
Teresa Reasor

Friday, February 6, 2009

When Your Plate Gets Too Full, Buy A Bigger Plate!

For the past few days I've been teetering on the balance beam. I've been throwing more balls in the air than I could juggle. I've been . . . well, you get the picture.

It started when the electricity went out and my 83 year old mother wouldn't leave the house. "I'll stay in bed until the heat comes back on," she said. "You run along now and do what you have to do."

Right! Like I'm going to leave an 83 year old woman in poor health in a house without power. "Nope, I'm going to sit right here, Mom, and when you decide to get up we'll go somewhere warm." She finally did, and we went to a friend's house until the power came back on a few hours later. We were lucky!

I had agreed to judge a contest and had read the entries a couple of times, but they needed a final reading and a dreaded score. The deadline was approaching, and I couldn't put them aside another day. My problem was figuring out how to handle a couple of the manuscripts. What do you say when the writing's not good, but the plot has potential? Bless their hearts.

I had a Super Bowl lunch party to plan for the office. I work with seven men. One's from Pittsburgh, PA - "Go Steelers". The others are from Wisconsin, Tennessee, Virginia, and one from Kentucky. I called the caterer, and we decided on chili and pimento cheese sandwiches. Then I went to the store and bought Super Bowl plates and napkins. And, I ordered a DVD of the last Steelers Super Bowl victory. I had this party under control - no sweat.

The UPS delivery didn't arrive because of the weather and none of the guys had ever heard of pimento cheese sandwiches. "Where are the Kielbasa and Knackwursts?" they asked fully expecting the caterer to return with another armload of food.

I had a full day of writing planned for Saturday, so I stopped by the store and bought a rump roast and put it in the crock pot. Yum! Dinner at 7:00 after hours on the computer would make for a nice treat. Well, it was terrible. Took a bite and put it in the refrigerator. Maybe I can throw it in a pot and make soup next week! Anybody got a good recipe?

My daughter wanted me to babysit, but I-75 was still reporting patches of ice, so I stayed home and missed out on sweet little arms around my neck and tiny kisses on my cheek. Sigh, maybe next weekend.

So today is another day of writing and editing, or is it editing and writing? Not sure, but it's never ending, nonetheless.

This morning I saw all the things I had to do as food on a plate. The meat (my manuscript) covered a third of the plate, the vegetables (family) covered a third, and the potatoes (work) covered the remaining third. Then I threw in a salad (KYRW, Pink Ladies, and critique groups), a roll (breakfast with a girl friend), and a second vegetable (the books I've been trying to read) and there was no more room on the plate.

"You have to try my casserole," my sister said.

"It looks delicious, but seriously, I don't have any more room," I said.

"Then get a bigger plate," my brother said.

As women, we tend to keep getting bigger plates because we're not very good at saying "No, can't do it, don't have time. Wish I could, but sorry." We try to be all things to all people and feel guilty as-all-get-out when we drop a ball or fall off the balance beam. We will continue to say, "Yes," until the plate companies agree not to make plates larger than twelve inches in diameter.

Maybe we should form a consortium and buy up all the plate companies!

Posted By: Katherine Lowry Logan

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Hey You, Get Off of My Cloud!

Between housework, kids, and the hubby there's not a lot of time left to dedicate to writing. And for those (like me) who work in addition to that, you just know they love writing so much, lack of sleep and a disintegrating household simply doesn't matter.

Even though it's hard to manage, developing characters and leading them into adventures and steamy love scenes requires a certain amount of time and concentration. Those artful phrases don't create themselves. They require the right kind of alone time, with no kids fighting over the remote and no husband yelling, "Honey, what's for dinner?"

Each and every time your muse is rolling along, those eloquent phrases dripping off your fingertips from your creative genius, you're thoroughly engrossed in expressing your thoughts and the scene is just right...knock, knock, knock.

An all too familiar sound.

"Mom, the dog chewed up my shoe again."

Well darn, that takes care of that. How am I going to write now? Gotta go buy shoes.

Back from the shoe store, and here we go again.

He raised his hand to caress her cheek, still damp with the tears of his unexpected arrival. She never thought she'd see him again, thought he was lost to her forever. But now here he was, smelling of expensive cologne and chicory coffee, and looking as handsome as he had at nineteen. If she knew that look in his eyes...

Knock, knock, knock. "Honey, do you know where my keys, are?"

"They're on the kitchen counter, beside the bread basket."

Where was I? Thought he was lost forever...yada, yada, yada...If she knew that look...Oh, here we are. If she knew that look in his eyes, and she was pretty sure she recognized the hungry expression in those all too familiar baby-blues, she knew he was about to...

Knock, knock, knock "Did you remember to call the cable company today?"

I roll my eyes. "Yes, the repairman will be here on Tuesday."

Now I ask you, how's a gal supposed to think romance during all this chaos?

Later, the house is settled and quiet. Dinner is over, kids are in bed, hubby is snoring contentedly, an aroma therapy candle puts off a soft glow from the table, peace at last...

...pretty sure she was about to prove exactly how much he'd missed her. Her fingers curled around his in a silent gesture of welcome just before his arm, much larger and more muscular than it had been the last time he'd held her this way, snaked around her waist to pull her toward him...

Thump, thump, thump. Is that a tail wagging? Oh no, they forgot to walk the dog.

Ok. Dog walked, I resume the writing position, laptop poised for optimal word-count annialation. At last, maybe this time...

But wait...after all that, I can't quite concentrate. Maybe a nice relaxing bubble bath would help put me back in a writing frame of mind.

Ah. Much better. Now that darned hero can finally kiss the heroine... Now, where was I? Skim, skim... Hands fall away from keyboard... "Zzzzzzzzzzzzz..."

Oh well, maybe tomorrow I'll be able to call upon my muse and the time will be there. I know I can manage it. I think I can...I think I can...I think I can...

Just me, my muse and prose...

Posted By: The Blog Fairy & Tracy Preston

Monday, February 2, 2009

Hero Archetype: The Bad Boy

The Bad Boy

Who among us hasn’t known, or maybe even fallen in love with, a Bad Boy at some point in our lives? My first encounter with a Bad Boy occurred, oh… a long time ago. Who was he, you ask? Well, he was Elvis as Vince Everett in Jailhouse Rock (not that I mean to date myself or anything). He had me the moment he leaped onto the bar and started singing, “Young and Beautiful” to an infatuated Judy Tyler. To this day, whenever I see a snippet of that movie, I get a silly grin on my face.

Why do we find this archetype so appealing and memorable?

The Bad Boy projects raw sexuality. When he walks into a room, all eyes turn in his direction. His bold stare holds a challenge, daring all he encounters. But his cocky stance and bad attitude are nothing more than camouflage, cloaking the real man and his well-guarded secrets. He never goes looking for trouble, it just naturally gravitates to him. Perhaps it’s because he’s not too keen on following the rules. Instead, he thumbs his nose and forges onward, making up his own as he goes. When trouble comes calling, the Bad Boy never backs down, no matter the risk. His survival skills are honed by years of hard knocks and his intuition is seldom wrong. He’s grown accustomed to stepping up and taking the blame. He seems hardened to it, but deep beneath his façade of indifference beats a tender heart that aches for the injustice he’s seen.

When the Bad Boy turns on the charm, no woman can resist. But he’s a player, a love ‘em and leave ‘em kind of guy. While he has an eye and appreciation for the sweet bloom of youth, at the end of the day, a world-wise woman is more to his taste. No strings and no promises, because on the rare occasion he does give his word, he’s honor-bound to keep it, so he avoids that trap at all costs.

Although he works hard to preserve his “I don’t give a damn” image, deep inside, the Bad Boy needs to love and be loved. Only a woman who can withstand the inferno of his sarcasm and bitterness has a prayer of touching the true heart of the man. The ride is certain to be wild and the closer she gets, the more he turns up the heat to drive her back. But, oh, what a lovely way to burn!

The Bad Boy is the survivor of a tragic youth. He’s seen too much, been betrayed, or beaten, and finally abandoned by all the ideals he once held dear. The wounds of his past go soul deep and never truly heal. They’ve ravaged and shaped him, and made him into the man he’s become. Rage simmers just beneath his calm, ready to erupt at the slightest provocation. He fights hard and makes love even harder. So, beware the Bad Boy, for he feels he has nothing to lose.

So… there’s our Bad Boy, my favorite type of romance hero. All my heroes tend to have some of the Bad Boy characteristics. There’s just something irresistible about a man who needs saving from himself. Who’s your favorite Bad Boy character, either in print or on film? Or, maybe you know a real-live Bad Boy. Tell me about him, I’d love to know.

Posted By: Devon Matthews
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