Thursday, November 26, 2015

Friday Fun -- New Words

Today Pink Heart Society editor Jeannie Watt talks about words that have recently obtained official status by being added to Oxford Dictionaries reference site.

Here at the Pink Heart Society, we love the magic of words, the way meanings evolve and new words are coined to fill empty niches in the language world. My favorite new word is hangry, which was recently added to Oxford Dictionaries. Hangry is the perfectly description of a cranky hungry person. Have you ever been hangry? I have and now instead of saying, “I’m feeling irritable because I haven’t had time to eat,” I can simply say, “I’m hangry.” In a perfect world, someone would then hand me a sandwich.

Other words that have recently been added to are:
Butt dial

The meaning of awesomesauce is obvious, and butt dial is pretty easy to figure out, but manspreading was new to me. According to, manspreading is when a man on public transportation sits with his legs spread wide, thus encroaching on adjacent seating. Manspreading itself is annoying, but saying manspreading is pretty entertaining. And who doesn't love the word mansplaining, which was added to the dictionaries last year? If you've ever been mansplained, you fully appreciate the beauty of the word.

Here are a few more words that were added to the Oxford Dictionaries in recent years--brain fart, amazeballs, time suck, beer o'clock and snackable.

Do you have a new word or phrase that you find particularly entertaining?

She’s not running anymore… 

After a decade away, Jacie Rose has returned with her daughter to Cherry Lake to renovate a historic hotel…and to lay some ghosts to rest. She knows she’ll have to confront mistakes she made in the past, but she didn’t expect to be living right next door to the guy she once asked to be her husband. 

When Brett Jackson was approached ten years ago by Jacie Rose with the wild scheme of marrying her to help her out of a jam, his white knight instincts kicked in and he agreed to be her emergency groom. The only problem was that the bride didn’t show up for the wedding. How’s he supposed to get used to seeing the woman he’s never forgotten every day now that she’s his neighbor? 

Determined to provide the secure home life for her daughter that she never had, Jacie is not about to bring a man into her life—even one that she sometimes thinks should have been there all along. But Brett and Jacie soon discover the spark between them is even stronger than before… Now that their paths have crossed again, will they lead them back to the wedding that almost was? 

Jeannie Watt lives in rural Nevada and writes fast-paced, character driven stories set in the western United States.   To find out more about Jeannie and her books, please visit her website, her Facebook page or her retro sewing blog.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Writer's Wednesday: Common Pitfalls

This Wednesday, columnist Donna Alward is back with a different side of the writing coin: her work as a freelance editor, and what common pitfalls she's been seeing lately in submissions.

I've been thinking about this blog for a long time. On one hand, I thought maybe I shouldn't write it. I don't want to be preachy and I don't want to be negative and overly critical. And yet, highlighting some of the more common trouble spots I see, especially in new writers, may help someone as they revise or polish their manuscript. These are mostly things I never really even thought of until I started editing!

So here are my Top Five Common Pitfalls:

5) Lack of emotion. Emotion is the key to the reader connecting with the characters. Know what else can fall into this particular topic? Showing and not telling. They really do go hand in hand. You can tell me that Sally was sad. Or you can show me Sally sitting along in her chair, struggling not to cry, blinking her eyes to keep the tears from falling. Maybe she struggles to take a sip of her now-cold coffee or huddles under a soft blanket to comfort herself. Body language and internal thoughts go a long way to showing the emotional state of your characters.  Don't skim over it.

4) Awkward dialogue. Dialogue that's stilted, that uses words most people wouldn't use in basic conversation, that is choppy and formal... it slows down the story and disrupts the flow. Example: imagine a woman in 2015 being angry at a man and saying, "You are despicable, an utter cad, and I do not want anything more to do with you." A more natural version might be, "You know what, buddy? You're a cheating jerk, and if I never see you again, it'll be too soon." Several times I've seen a lack of use of contractions. Most of us wouldn't say, "I will go to the store when I am done." We'd say, "I'll go to the store when I'm done."

3) Hand in hand with dialogue is dialogue punctuation. I see a lot of periods and then "he said", or commas and then an action that is not a dialogue tag. Example:

Improper: "Let's take this to the bedroom." He suggested.
                 She shook her head, "I don't think so. I'm still mad at you."

Proper:     "Let's take this to the bedroom," he suggested.
                 She shook her head. "I don't think so. I'm still mad at you."

Quick and dirty rule of thumb: if you can replace the "tag" verb with said, it's a comma inside the quotation marks, or after the tag and before the dialogue. In the above example, you could replace suggested with said, so there's a comma after bedroom. If you can't, it's an action and not a tag so you use a period and uppercase as appropriate.

2) Point of View slips. I see this in one of two ways, generally speaking. The first is the head hop, where in the middle of a scene the author switches to the opposite character's point of view for only a paragraph or two, and then slides back again. The second way I see this is when the POV character experiences something, usually visually, that is impossible. For example, say my main character is Doris. "Doris's face went as pale as the milk in the pitcher." Unless she's looking in the mirror, Doris can't see her own face. Or the color of her own eyes, or lips, or how her hair appears. Blushing is a big one! "Doris's cheeks turned pink." How does she know that? However, Doris might indeed feel the heat rise to her face in embarrassment.

1) Comma splices. By far, this is my number one punctuation issue. In essence, two independent clauses can be punctuated in one of three ways:

By using a semi-colon: "I fell asleep; the book I was reading was boring."
By using a conjunction: "I fell asleep, because the book I was reading was boring."
By creating two sentences: "I fell asleep. The book I was reading was boring."

You do NOT write it as: "I fell asleep, the book I was reading was boring."

If it's in dialogue, semi-colons are rarely used. We don't tend to speak in semi-colons. Whatever form you use, you need to determine which flows better and which is more natural and helps vary your sentence structure. If you have a lot of short sentences, you may want to use a conjunction to mix things up a bit. If your narrative has several complex sentences, making it into two shorter sentences might keep it clear and keep the pace moving.

Do you have any other pitfalls you notice as you're writing? Share away!

Donna's latest novel is THE COWBOY'S CHRISTMAS FAMILY, out from Harlequin American this month. You can also check out her editing profile at

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Tuesday Talk - Write What You Know, Write What You Don’t – Just Make It Good

Today the Pink Heart Society welcomes author Avril Tremayne

A recent conversation on one of the romance fiction industry Facebook pages I follow got me thinking about the ratio of reality to imagination in my writing.

The discussion was prompted by a post by an author who wanted to write a book set on a cruise, but had been told in no uncertain terms by writers in a different (non-romance) group that this would be tantamount to a literary crime, given she'd never been on a cruise herself.

Her situation got me thinking about how many times I’ve heard the phrase ‘Write what you know’. And after some deliberation – about five minutes’ worth, all up – I came to an important conclusion: that phrase is total crap

Most crime writers haven’t actually killed someone; I don’t know of any Regency era writer who’s been transported back to early 19th century London; I’m pretty sure most paranormal writers haven’t been bitten by a vampire or savaged by a werewolf; and (letting you in on a little secret, here) I have not indulged in every sexual position I’ve manipulated my fictional characters into trying.

There’s no doubt it can be easier and faster to write what you know, and more power to anyone who can manage that in every single book they write. But this is fiction, people – we’re supposed to make things up. And there’s a little thing called research that lets us sound like we didn’t just make things up!

As it turns out, every one of my books has a little bit of my own reality in it, but those little nuggets of reality are stomped over by all the stuff that finds its way in there that I’ve never seen or done, and sometimes never heard of until I've started digging around on strange internet sites.

My settings are often places I know – inner city Sydney is the most obvious example. Likewise, my characters often have jobs that reflect my various careers – public relations, journalism and event management; banking and aviation. Some of my very own obsessions even make it into my characters. For example, Here Comes The Bridesmaid’s heroine, Sunshine Smart has my own carnivorousness and shoe obsession; and Ella Reynolds in From Fling To Forever became a nurse working in the developing world in sympathy with my own unsuccessful attempt to land a job with Medecins Sans Frontieres.

It is true, also, that sometimes a real life incident of mine has prompted a story. For example, my all-consuming crush on Matthew Macfadyen, after he played Mr Darcy in Pride and Prejudice, kick-started Wanting Mr Wrong. The Contract came about because a banking colleague once joked that I should make my hero an economist just like him (anyone who’s read the book knows he actually became my heroine, instead). Somewhat
hilariously, the scene that starts my book Turning The Good Girl Bad happened to me, after a fashion, when to my horror I suspected I'd accidentally given a banking executive at my office some pages of a steamy novel I should not have been writing at work.

But – and it’s a big but – if I really wrote about my own reality, I doubt I would have any readers. My life has had its passionate moments, its dramas, its highs and lows, triumphs and failures – but I have to say, the characters in my books live a lot larger than I do. What happens to them is more amazing, their emotions are heightened, their situations more dramatic. What I’m basically saying is that what might start out grounded in a little bit of my reality quickly becomes something much more wonderful.

And wonderful is hard work, folks.

Wonderful requires me to talk to people, fling questions out into cyberspace, search the internet, keep abreast of what’s in the news, watch countless videos, and generally turn my browser history into something extremely disturbing.

I’ve done everything from pop in and out of chat rooms to get details on precipitous births (From Fling To Forever), to typing in ‘sex on a desk’ to see the positioning options (The Millionaire’s Proposition – and boy, did I get more than I bargained for that time), to watching documentaries on typhoons (Escaping Mr Right), to trawling the web for strange but true facts (Here Comes The Bridesmaid) – and that’s just the veriest tip of the iceberg. I’ve researched job descriptions, watched old movies, checked out real estate sites, harassed doctors and lawyers, sent friends into hotels and bars in overseas locations to report back to me on ambiance and decor, found obscure medical presentations, taken myself off to football games, been on site visits, and submerged myself in assorted YouTube videos. (And believe me when I say YouTube is an author’s best friend – seriously, I just learned to surf on YouTube on behalf of the heroine in my next book.)

The bottom line from my perspective is that no reader cares if you, yourself, have actually lived any or all parts of your novel, as long as you write a damn good story they can imagine themselvesnot youin.

If you're a reader, I'd love to know when a writer really nailed some research for you – or even when they didn't. And if you're a writer, what's your mix of reality versus imagination?

My own research skills were at their best researching Escaping Mr Right. It's got a little bit of Sydney, a fair bit of Manila, a rugby league playing hero, a television journalist heroine, bars and penthouses and orphanages and typhoons and even vibrators and Barbie dolls. The research was a full-on ride – and so is the book. Available for pre-order now, and coming out on January 13 2016.
  Sometimes Mr Right is Mr Wrong, and Mr Wrong is definitely Mr Right . . .
Television reporter Chloe Masters is a woman of cool control . . . except when Casanova rugby league player Nick Savage is around. Then cool control goes out the window. Her boyfriend, Marcus, is everything she ever wanted – but it's getting harder to deny her body's reaction to Nick . . .
Nick Savage has been head-over-heels since he first laid eyes on Chloe – just a moment too late to stop her connecting with his team mate, Marcus. But when the goalposts shift and he and Chloe are thrown together on a week away, Nick dares her to get physical in whatever way she wants – with a kiss, a punch or anything in between. And if Chloe claims to feel nothing, he'll leave her alone for good.
How can Chloe say no to a week of mindless passion with the man she hasn't been able to get out of her head?
Trouble is, a lot can go wrong (or right) in a week . . . - See more at:
 Sometimes Mr Right is Mr Wrong, and Mr Wrong is definitely Mr Right . . .
Television reporter Chloe Masters is a woman of cool control . . . except when Casanova rugby league player Nick Savage is around. Then cool control goes out the window. Her boyfriend, Marcus, is everything she ever wanted - but it's getting harder to deny her body's reaction to Nick . . .

Nick Savage has been head-over-heels since he first laid eyes on Chloe - just a moment too late to stop her connecting with his team mate, Marcus. But when the goalposts shift and he and Chloe are thrown together on a week away, Nick dares her to get physical in whatever way she wants - with a kiss, a punch or anything in between. And if Chloe claims to feel nothing, he'll leave her alone for good.
How can Chloe say no to a week of mindless passion with the man she hasn't been able to get out of her head?
Trouble is, a lot can go wrong (or right) in a week . . .

Find out more about Avril Tremayne by visiting her website, or linking up on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Wattpad.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Male on Monday by Melinda Curtis

Today the Pink Heart Society is thrilled to welcome Harlequin Heartwarming author Mel Curtis. Take it away, Mel! 

It's that time of year again - People Magazine's Sexiest Man Alive issue hit newsstands on Friday. This year's pick was David Beckham, who has always been some good eye-candy, but if you look at this video retrospective...well, I wouldn't have predicted him winning any sexy awards.

Which made me wonder if all hunkalicious dudes were once...well, not quite so hunky. Here's what I found:

Here's one of my favorite transformations - Joseph Gordon Levitt starred in the sitcom 3rd Rock from the Sun. Now he's a major movie star and we couldn't be happier! Not only is he good looking, but he has a sense of humor (and if you've read any of my other posts here - or my romances - you know I like a man with a sense of humor!).

All you Harry Potter fans have got to be blown away by the transformation of Neville Longbottom, aka Matthew Lewis. He was a heroic player in Gryffindor, who showed up in the final movie completely transformed! I saw him interviewed soon after the movie was released and he poo-poo'd any hunk label. Humble and hot! I'm loving that!

If any of you have sons who watched Disney XD channel, you'll recognize the early picture of Daniel Curtis Lee. Today, he presents a much different picture - actor, rapper, intense. Le sigh. Who would have guessed this transformation would ever occur? Not me, my friends.

Freddie Highmore charmed us with his wide-eyed wisdom in Charlie & the Chocolate Factory opposite Johnny Depp. Sure, he was nerdy and oh so average back then. Now he's got depth as the tortured anti-hero Norman Bates in the Bates Motel.

I may write a lot of sweet romance for Harlequin, but that doesn't mean my heroes aren't hunky. But even I was shocked to see the cover for my December release - A Memory Away. Duffy looks hot! I mean, like he's been hot from birth! Not only is he gorgeous, he has a sense of humor, which he'll need to deal with Jessica, who woke up from a car accident without memory of how she got pregnant and thinks he's the father of her baby. This is the first Heartwarming of mine Harlequin has labeled a romantic comedy and I can't wait to share it with the world (so much so, I've got a pre-order $50 sweepstakes you can enter here). Here's a taste of their first meeting...

A man got out of the truck. Dark hair. Straight nose. Familiar eyes.
It’s him.
She leaned forward, peering through the paned glass, her heart sailing toward him, over hope-softened waves of roses and rainbows. Jess didn’t usually let herself dream. But now…today…him…
And yet…
He wore a burgundy vest jacket that clashed with a red, long sleeve T-shirt. Worn blue jeans. A black baseball cap. Instead, she saw him in a fine wool suit. Black, always black. A navy shirt of the softest cotton. A silk tie in a geometric pattern. Shiny Italian loafers…
He took the stairs two at a time, work boots ringing on wood.
Jessica’s heart sank as certainly as if someone had drilled holes in the boat carrying her hopeful emotions. Clouds blocked the sun. The rainbow disappeared. Unwilling to sink, Jess clung to joy, to hope, to illusions. To the idea of him.
He entered without a flourish or an energetic greeting. He entered without the smile that teased the corners of her memory. He entered and took stock of the room, the situation, her.
Their eyes met. Same color, same shape, so heart-achingly familiar.
It was the cool assessment in them that threw her off. Not a smile, not a brow quirk, not an eye-crinkle.
He came forward. “I’m Michael Dufraine, but everyone calls me Duffy.”
His name didn’t ring true.
Had he lied to her?
She couldn’t speak, could barely remember her name.
The wind shook the panes. The house creaked and groaned.
He smiled. A polite smile, a distant smile, an I-don’t-know-you-smile.
Disappointment melted her insides. Jess resisted the urge to dissolve into a pity-puddle on the floor.
“And you are…?” He extended his hand.
On auto-pilot, she reached for him. Their palms touched.
Jessica’s vision blurred and she gripped his hand tighter as clips of memory assailed her – his deep laughter, him offering her a bite of chocolate cheesecake, his citrusy cologne as he leaned in to kiss her.
It is him.
Relieved. She was so relieved. Jessica blinked at the man – Duffy – who she vaguely remembered and, at the same time, did not.
She’d practiced what to say on the hour drive up here. Ran through several scenarios. None of them had included him not recognizing her.
She should start at the beginning. Best not to scare him with hysterics and panicked accusations, of which she’d had five months to form.
Don’t raise your voice. Don’t cry. Don’t ask why.
And don’t lead the conversation with the elephant in the room.

Despite all the cautions and practicing and caveats, she drew a breath, and flung her hopes toward him as if he was her life preserver. “I think I’m your wife.”

Do you have a favorite hunk who wasn't always so hunky? If so, please share!

Award-winning USA Today bestselling author Melinda Curtis writes contemporary romance that spans the fun and sexy scale. As Mel Curtis she writes the fun, steamy Hollywood Rules series. As Melinda Curtis she writes the sweet, light-hearted Harmony Valley series and the sweet,romantic Bridesmaid series. To find out about Melinda and her books, please check out her website.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Friday Fun - Robert McKee, The Story Seminar & an Exciting Long Weekend of Learning in Killarney

Heidi Rice talks about why learning something new can actually be surprisingly good fun, if you have the right teacher. And there really isn't anyone better at teaching the art of Story than the incredible Robert McKee... Add in some gorgeous Killarney scenery and you're all set for an amazing long weekend.

Two go mad in Killarney!
When my good mate Abby Green told me that Robert McKee was doing his famous four-day Story seminar in Killarney this November I immediately jumped at the chance to sign up. But it was only after I'd paid the fee, booked my flight to Kerry and downloaded McKee's seminal book about scriptwriting onto my iPad that I began to panic about the thought of having to learn something new for the first time in a very long time.

Many years ago, in a galaxy far far away I finished my American Studies degree at Warwick University and then ceremonially burned all my essays and notes, determined never to have to sit through another seminar again in my lifetime. I was now officially a grown up. Which meant I didn't have to do that boring shite ever again. And now here I was signing up for classes again. What had I been thinking? This could end up being the opposite of fun. Would my brain explode trying to learn something new after all this time?

Ready to get down to business...
Well, as it turns out, my brain did explode, because this was mind-blowing stuff at times, but I didn't just learn something new... I fricking LOVED every minute of it. So much so, I might even consider trying to learn French again now.

Now, that said, McKee's four-day retreat is very full-on, very intense, and extremely hard work. What you're talking about is eight hours of lectures a day, with only two half-hour breaks and a one-hour break for lunch for FOUR consecutive days. I can tell you for a fact, I never had to work that hard at college. But the Story seminar is also fascinating, thought-provoking and delivered by a guy who knows how to hold an audience. McKee - an old school alpha male who can happily name-drop John Cleese and Kirk Douglas as past students - makes no bones about the fact that he is the guy in charge. No interruptions or questions are allowed during the lectures (although you can go up and ask him in the breaks), also no chit-chat, no late-comers and if your mobile phone goes off, you're in deep shite. Then again, as McKee explained, everyone had paid serious money to be there, and anyone who thought it was okay to interrupt another's learning experience was going to get short shrift from him, and frankly I was with him on that... It's not that hard to turn off a mobile phone.

Subplots and how to use them.
So what was the seminar about? Well, surprisingly, I discovered that a lot of what McKee was teaching was actually fairly intuitive, stuff that as a writer I was already doing without even realising it. But there was other stuff - some of it fairly specific to screenwriting - that gave me lots of important information about exactly how an audience (or a reader's) mind receives and processes information about character, plot, etc that I'd never realised before now... Even though I (like everyone else) had been doing it myself ever since I had my first story read to me.

Good omen on Day 3
Who knew for example that everyone tries to minimise change, that human beings' instinctively shy away from deep emotions, that we are always seeking to return to the status quo. That even positive change can be disturbing when it forces you to move outside your comfort zone? And that audiences (and readers) have always used stories to help them understand the human condition on a purely visceral level because it allows them to feel those changes, experience those emotions, within the comfort zone of their own home (or their own imagination) . And therefore, that the ability to understand and enjoy story-telling is in fact the thing that makes us all human. Pretty cool stuff, right?

McKee's basic lesson though to writers can be encapsulated in one particularly enlightening sentence (which I'm going to attempt to para-phrase here from my FIVE notebooks full of notes - uh-huh, FIVE. I am such a swot!):

Your characters reveal who they really are through the choices they make under pressure while trying to obtain their object of design against the forces of antagonism. 

Lunch break by the lake in lovely Killarney.
What does that actually mean? Well, you'll have to take McKee's seminars (or read his book) yourself to understand all the details involving subplots, controlling ideas, positive and negative charges within scenes, crisis decisions, resolutions, set-ups and pay-offs, etc. But basically it's about knowing that you as a writer have to challenge your protagonist (or protagonists) at every turn. You have to know exactly who they are and why they do what they do and what they truly want (and this can often be subconscious). And you have to be giving them choices – real choices not contrived ones – which they must respond to honestly at every turn according to who they are - so that every step they take towards (or away from) their goal changes the dynamics of your story and reveals more of who they truly are.

Ultimately, it turned out to be a pretty emotional four days. Because McKee imbues a lot of his own life and opinions into his teaching - and he shoots straight from the hip (i.e.: expect to hear the f-word creatively used on occasion!). After a six-hour dissection of Casablanca on our last day (that movie has five subplots!!!) I was exhausted, while at the same time feeling energised and excited about the stories I'm currently working on.

Mission accomplished!
I know I'll still make the usual mistakes, and probably still be tearing my hair out at times, and wanting to weep over my laptop at others... But at least now I have some more tools to figure out what's wrong. A lot more insight to help me fix it. And the knowledge that this is meant to be hard work, because what writers do is THE most important and difficult job in the world. (Yup, tougher than brain surgery, folks, you heard it from me and Robert McKee.)

Best of all, am pleased to announce me and McKee appear to be kindred spirits when it comes to film appreciation, because he loathed Titanic as much as I did. One comment on the movie is somewhat unrepeatable (something about floating turds but ruder) but I had to wholeheartedly agree with his main observation which speaks to the heart of what he was saying about honest story-telling: "Why did she let him die? Didn't we all think there was enough room on that pallet for the both of them?"

Of course, the movie was a huge hit, so McKee isn't infallible, and he does point out that his theories are guidelines, rather than hard and fast rules - but that comment still made me chuckle!

Special thanks go to Abby Green and Katrina Cudmore for joining me on the journey (and bringing wine and orange flapjacks as required)!

Heidi is currently working on her next novel for Harlequin Presents after being offered a new contract! And getting over excited about the release of her first longer book, So Now You're Back in Feb 2016. You can contact her on Twitter (@HeidiRomRice), Facebook, her blog or through her website if you want to know more.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Writer's Wednesday: Off Kilter

PHS Columnist and Harlequin Historical author Nicole Locke asks - How do you find your characters' centre of gravity?

Warning: Don’t read this while eating lunch.

What is your centre of gravity? I’ll admit this question never popped into my mind until I tried to take the kids to see the Mademoiselle Prive’ exhibit and failed. We didn’t leave on time, accidentally left behind the required food for the tube ride and the queue was 150 people deep.
Yet, with aplomb, we grabbed sandwiches and went to the Science Museum, where there’s 3000 children and we’ve been 1000 times. But I’m flexible; I’m rolling with the day’s punches. There’s no culture or civilized lunch, but it’s still fun, and even better, I have a seat next to the massive pulley pebble system. In fact, I’m feeling quite smug having saved this day.
Big Machine
Then…and then. A little boy next to my daughter got a big mouthful of pebbles. I don’t know what he was doing looking up with his mouth open, but it was a shock to him and to me. After all, I had a ring side seat to what happened next. That the child produced the amount of saliva and slime only a hagfish could be proud of. Then, without reservation, he hurled said salvia and trapped pebbles back into the pulley system’s trough.
More, oh, there’s more. As thick strings of salvia continue to trail from his mouth to the intricately tubed system (that no amount of cleaning will help now), the 50 children witnessing this marvel: Just Keep Playing. With their bare hands, they scoop the ever-growing pebbled smear into a bucket that will release it throughout the system, and to the other children.
Now, I’m not squeamish. I can take blood, eyeball poking and cleaning other children’s vomit from carpet. But something about this mucus-y event is just the straw to my camel. I’m no longer rolling with the punches. In fact, I’m reeling.
Then I see this sign: What is Your Centre of Gravity?
At that moment, I wasn’t sure. I thought I knew myself, but clearly, I have some hidden heebie-jeebies depths. So, taking the sign as a Sign, I went to investigate:
I loved this definition that our body’s centre of gravity is somewhere above our waist. Which begs this question: Is that centre the gut or the heart? Can a person’s centre of gravity be knocked over by something that happens emotionally or physically?
To get to the HEA in writing, you have to know your characters centre of gravity. What it is, what will knock them off and how to get it back. If their centre is family, the punch to their axis could be something emotional like abandonment. If their centre is looks/strength, it could be physical, like a lost limb. When you write romances, trust and love will return the centre to your characters.
But what if it’s a villain, and you want him permanently off kilter? My current series has a villain, but I can’t find his centre of gravity to knock him off of. First, he eats daggers for breakfast, so he won’t be affected by a physical punch, but can I give him an emotional one?
It’s difficult. He’s been betrayed by the only person he trusted. Yet, instead of kneeling in the dirt to die, he intends to betray and kill her. Oh, and did I mention she’s his daughter? Yeah, I think this guy chews emotional daggers as well.

So what’s this guy’s centre and what will knock him off it? I don’t know, and I’ve been plotting the series for months. But I have a sneaking suspicion it’ll be like that wad of spit, sudden and unexpected. Something simple, messy and unclean-upable.
In the meantime, I have to anchor myself to the keyboard, be like the kids, who have seen all the sliminess of life before and just keep playing.

Oh, and by the way:

 Her Enemy Highlander, out now, is book two in the Lovers and Legends series. To find out more about Nicole Locke, visit her website, and follow her on Twitter.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Tuesday Talktime: Our World of Fiction

PHS Columnist and Kimani Romance author AlTonya Washington discusses her quest to create a fiction world as she finishes her long running series.

Presently, I’m completing the final chapter in my long-running Ramsey Tesano series. How long of a run? Try 10 years. The first title in the series A Lover’s Dream (BET Arabesque) released in January 2006. This story came about for a couple of reasons. Dream marked my first potentially connecting title. Until that time the majority of my books were standalones. I was still a relatively new author so naturally folks were quite curious about the kinds of stories I had (or intended to add) to my credit. One of the questions I was asked most was whether any of my titles were connecting stories. At the time I had no idea how popular connecting stories were. Throw in family drama-a family that was filled with devastatingly attractive men-and well… you had the makings of splendid reading time.

Enter reason two for the creation of A Lover’s Dream- I had just come off a rather stressful time creating my last hero. Stressful because my editor and I had some very different opinions about how…Alpha he should be…I guess that was the problem- we just always seemed to be butting heads about the guy (whom I loved by the way). Anyway when the time came for me to start crafting my next story, I decided to write a book about the PERFECT hero. I mean this was to be a quintessentially prince charming of a guy. A guy that would certainly not spark the kind of head butting I dealt with in the crafting of my last hero.

So…creating the perfect guy…not difficult right? I mean, after all he’s…perfect. That proved to be exactly the problem as well as the solution. My quest to create the perfect guy was actually a lesson learned. I realized that I can’t write those kinds of guys. He’s got to have an edge. Something that; as his character unfolds within the pages, gets you both curious and a touch uneasy. Let’s face it, we do enjoy reading about what makes those guys tick and what type of woman could give him pause.

Quest Ramsey was definitely that guy-quintessential perfection with a subtle edge. This…demeanor wasn’t anything intended, it just perfectly complimented that unfathomable edginess-like a very compelling dance. Now, it’s almost ten years later and A Lover’s Return; the 20th book in the Ramsey Tesano series, is set to release in January. The heroes have changed- Hilliam Tesano is soooo not a perfect guy but he; like the Ramsey Tesano heroes before him, wields that same surge of quintessential perfection.

If there’s any question that comes out of this blog today it would be why is the flawed character always such an attraction? We often go out of our way to avoid these characters in reality, only to seek them fervently in our reading escapes. Could it be that the allure of the quintessential perfect guy with the subtle edge can only be alluring in our world of fiction?