Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Perspective matters

It really helps to be busy. When you're busy, you take a lot of things in stride. At least, I do.

I've been frantically busy in my day job, and we're house hunting (again). My husband got a job in a nearby town and we're considering moving. So we're looking for a house, prepping our house to put on the market, I'm working on a new book that must be done in a week (3 chapters to go, whee!), I have family coming to visit for a week, I'm crazy busy at work, and I lost a tooth.

Yep, a tooth just fell out. It was one of those that had a crown, a post, and glue keeping it in place. The thing lasted 10 years longer than it should have, but one day it just fell out.

I barely noticed. Quick trip to the dentist. "Let's pull it." Okay, but not today. I'm too busy. So I'm getting it scheduled for April sometime (it doesn't hurt, so it's cool).

On any other day, I would have been all "OMG, a tooth!"

Today it's, "Next."

Perspective. It's all about perspective....

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Unusual Inspiration for Sea Panther by Dawn Marie Hamilton

Thursday was release day for Sea Panther, a Scottish inspired paranormal romance. How did the vampire hero become a Florida panther? Well that's part of the story. But I will tell you how I came up with the idea of a Florida panther shifter.

At the very infancy of the story's development, I drove through Southern Florida with my husband. On the way north from  Everglades National Park, we passed one of those signs that read something like ‘Panther Crossing Next 7 Miles’. The idea hit me like a splash of cold water. What if the vampire hero shifted into a Florida panther? How cool would that be?

Florida panthers are beautiful animals, in danger of fading away, and must be protected.

Here is an excerpt form 'Sea Panther':

E-book available from Amazon,
Amazon UK
  SmashwordsApple,and Barnes&Noble.
Trade paperback available
at Amazon.
She nodded and followed Robert along a corridor of closed doors until he stopped in front of a plate glass window. Inside, a young woman fed a small cat with black spots from a baby bottle. Two other young cats sat in an animal carrier on a stainless steel lab table.

“I was told these kittens were rescued from the side of the road after a car killed their mother on a highway south of here,” Robert said with a frown.

The kittens were beyond cute. It was hard to believe they would grow into full-sized panthers. Her nightmare from the evening before replayed in her mind, and she shivered again.

“You are cold.”

“I’m fine.”

He stared at her for a moment then turned. “Come on.”

She followed him along the hall, past window after window where men and women, dressed in white lab coats, worked with test tubes and microscopes.

“All of this in an attempt to save an endangered species?” Kimberly asked when they stopped in front of a closed door. “You must be proud.”

“Aye.” Robert’s cinnamon eyes glistened. “We have field biologists, veterinarians, geneticists, along with other specialists working on a solution.”
“What about your blood disease?”

His hand froze on the doorknob. She took a step back when his hard stare locked on her, his emotions masked. “Doctors and scientists are working on a cure as we speak.”

Hope you enjoyed this wee snippet.
~Dawn Marie

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Hero as Romance Protagonist?

Notes from a Deep Story workshop presented by Carol Hughes (adapted and reprinted with permission):

In a romance, the Protagonist is the character who is going to undergo the emotional growth in your stories. 

You can actually have 2 different protagonists -one character is the protagonist of the love story while the other character is the protagonist of the overall story. The Protagonist is the one who must learn to fall in love/be willing to trust enough to fall in love. And the other character is your Love Interest.

Since women are the predominate readers of romance stories - and since your reader becomes your protagonist inside of your fictional story world - the romance genre stands out once again for being unique in that your heroine is usually who helps the Hero/Protagonist to open up and fall in love.

Why are romance stories different like this in having the heroine be the inside character that your readers ID with inside of your story world?  EASY - YOUR FEMALE READERS WANT TO BE THE ONE TO MAKE YOUR ROMANTIC HERO FALL IN LOVE WITH THEM!! And they usually can't do that when they are the one who is the protagonist in your romance. 

But please note - this is not set in stone. There are wonderful and successful romance stories where your heroine is the one running away from love and is the story's protagonist. Just remember the story Protagonist is the character who undergoes the emotional growth in your stories.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

How to write a love scene

A couple years ago, I attended a fantastic presentation by Angela

Knights on how to write a good sex scene.

Here is more or less what Angela said—I hope I got it right, Angela.

Love scenes illustrate the development of romance. They reveal the way people feel about each other.

A love scene reveals characters, enhances the conflict, and develops the romance.

Love scene and the characters:

How does it reveal the hero? The hero must be experienced. Don’t ever write about a virgin hero! Mention his romantic and sexual history before the first sex scene.

Show how his attitude toward the heroine change in the course of your story.

Show how the heroine helps him develop his strengths and overcome his weaknesses.

The love scene should reveal how he makes love to the heroine, how he finds her different from past lovers, and how his way change toward her by the end of the story.

Before a love scene, we should also know the heroine’s romantic history: how does she feel about sex? In historical romances, a love scene is a big conflict for the heroine who is usually not experienced. Give the heroine good reasons to trust the hero enough to sleep with him.

Picking up a hero in a bar and making love with him is dangerous and borderline erotica.

Is she sexually confident?

How does making love to him change her?

Does she gain confidence in them as a couple?

Let the heroine take the lead in some scenes.

Love scenes make them both grow. A love scene is always a turning point. You develop the plot with a love scene. You also develop the conflict with a sex scene. To intensify the conflict through a love scene you can make him dominant if she doesn’t like an alpha hero. And then make her reaction to him strong and dramatic. Let one character turn the tables on the other—heroine dominates the hero.

Logistic of a love scene: 

A hero can’t go directly to kissing before a few steps of touching that establish trust.

You have to create the environment of trust for her to accept his kiss.

Love scenes should complicate the situation: A love scene is a critical turning point. What problems does it cause? How does it change the way the characters view each other now?

To know if your love scenes make sense read them back to back by themselves and see if the romance grow and develop through these love scenes.

Love scene pacing:

 Where does the love scene fall in the romance? What kind of emotion do you want to communicate? The love scene can intensify the mood: We are at our most vulnerable when making love. This is a perfect time for drama. Taking off clothes is a big act of trust.

Or it can lighten the mood: for example it will keep a romantic suspense or a thriller from getting too dark.

Watch your timing: Characters who are supposed to be hunting the bad guys can’t waste their time making love. Don’t follow a gruesome murder with a love scene.

 Love scene construction:

Don’t rush. You need at least five pages for a satisfying love scene, for emotional impact. Don’t cheat the reader

Set the scene with a sensual environment: sharp vivid emotions with five senses.

A long pre-scene is acceptable but stay clear of purple prose.

Who makes the first move? Stay within characters.

More interesting when there is more than one objective to the love scene.

Sexual roles of hero and heroine: The heroine sets the sexual pace. She decides when characters make love because she’s the one who has the most to lose.

Concentrate on sensual details. Focus on sensations that characters feel. Use lots of sensual details, smell, touch, taste. Reader doesn’t want to guess.

It’s always better to be in her point of view. Don’t shift POV in the middle of a sex scene.

Use a lot of emotion to give love scenes their power.

Use dialog during a love scene

Pillow talk: remember blood doesn’t go to a man’s brain when it rushes elsewhere. So keep dialog lines short and sexy. Moans are not considered dialog!!! Use sense of humor but keep tenderness to the last chapter otherwise your story is over.

Keep sex language appropriate to time and characters.

Keep heat levels corresponding to your readers’ comfort. Trade paperback and ebooks allow sexier content than mass market in terms of language and erotic details.

 Look at other books in the same genre to decide what you can get away with.

Happy Ever After: Readers want to know what it’s like to find HEA with a sexy hero. Capture that experience with passion and imagination.

Remember that your first paragraph sells your book and your last paragraph sells your next book.

{more details in A Guide To Write Erotic Romance by Angela Knights}

 The four books in my box set, Foreign Lovers, follow Angela Knights’s advice. They sizzle with sensual tension and offer you memorable love scene.

Available at Amazon.com

Sunday, March 16, 2014

The Woman Who Couldn't Say No

I once wrote a short story about one of those ladies who everyone knows. She might be a friend, or a family member, possibly your sister, or your mom. She might even be you.

She is the woman who can't say no. When there is a volunteer job that needs to happen, she is always being asked to help out and, even though she’s got a dozen other things she either must or should do, she says yes. Somehow she’ll get that new task done and still manage to get the rest of her tasks accomplished even if she has to stay up late or deny herself a well-earned rest to do it.

The premise of the story started when I was part of a writers group and someone suggested hypnosis and “past-life regression” to stimulate story ideas. I joked I’d be afraid to do that since undoubtedly I’d discover that one of my previous lives had left some major chore undone and it would come to haunt me. You see, I've been one of those volunteering ladies at many times in my life. 

My joke stimulated the story idea of a woman who does get involved in a past-life regression and afterwards a village chieftain time-travels to the future to get her help.  In my story the woman learns a lesson... sometimes she needs to take time for herself instead of always helping others first. This short story, The Woman Who Couldn't Say No, is part of my collection “The Lizard’s Tail and other stories” (99 cents at Amazon and other ebook outlets). 

Recently I’ve decided I need to take that advice I so glibly wrote in my short story so many years ago. At the moment my day job is too intense to be taken lightly and by the time I return home I’m too stressed and too tired to take on any responsibilities greater than possibly getting some writing done and even that hasn't been happening. Volunteering as I have for the past few years has led to burn-out, a mental state where I can’t seem to get anything actually done, including finishing any of my current works in progress.

It’s time to stop that. I need to take the time for just meeting my needs, and not be the woman who couldn’t say no for a while. Get some rest, relax, and maybe once I have fewer goals on my To Do list I’ll be able to actually complete some of the ones I already have there.

At least that’s the goal anyway.

Janet Miller/Cricket Starr

Friday, March 14, 2014

MY HOUSE IS FULL OF MEN! by Rolynn Anderson

Our home renovation has reminded me how much I miss having a house full of men.  I grew up with three younger brothers and a sister, so activity and noise was a staple in the Shellum home.  When I married Steve and we determined, together, not to have children, an upside and a downside was a fairly quiet home life.

Enter a major renovation: tearing down a kitchen wall, gutting a bathroom, hardwood floors in all but two bedrooms, a new island/bar, refaced kitchen cupboards...the list goes on.  For the last two months, our house has been alive with men: carpenters, plumbers, electricians, tilers, painters.  And they show up early, so instead of writing, I have to shower quickly, get dressed, open the garage door, turn on lights and clear my stuff out of their working area...because it's show time!  I know all the men's names and a good deal about their families and I'm acquainted enough with them to share jokes as well as engage in design discussions.  By 4:30 p.m. when they've rolled up the cloths that protect the floor, I have to gear myself for the quietude.  And, yes, it's a nice contrast, but I have to admit I look forward to their entrances the next day.  Part of this pleasure comes from the brilliant work they're doing on our house and the eagerness with which they seek our opinions.  These are skilled men who are extremely proud of their work...and interested in testing those skills with challenging approaches to our reno.  The result is truly eye-popping...and we aren't done yet, though we may be bankrupt by next month :-)  Best we not talk about the expense of this endeavor.

Yes, there are hassles with this reno as well as the mind-numbing moving of things from here to there and back again. But I've enjoyed having all these men in my house and when the project is done, I'm going to miss them!  Do any of you share this experience?

If you’ve got a quiet home life and need a suspenseful read, pick up a $2.99 copy of LIE CATCHERS - http://amzn.com/B00HJDS1LG

Two murders, decades apart, embroil an Alaska fishing town.  He’s a Treasury agent, savvy at tracking criminals by computer; new to street investigation.  She’s struggling to save her family salmon business and solve an old cold case that haunts the town.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Pick up, examine, then ....

pitch or keep?

I'm in a clean-out binge lately, and that's been my mantra. Look at something, examine it and think about it, then keep it or pitch it. I can now say that every closet and every drawer holds only what I want to keep. I have the garage, the "gun room" (a.k.a., the secret room in the basement: a long story), and the porch to do, and I can't do the garage or porch because it's too freaking cold.

I recently did the same thing with the book I'm writing. I was a bit stuck in the mid-book blues, so I left the book for a day or two, fussed around with another book, then came back and re-read what I had. I immediately saw the problem. I was at a mid-book crisis for the characters, but I hadn't properly set it up.

I had to do the same thing with my most recent release. I originally wrote 2 books: one set in the past, and one in the current day. Then I thought I'd combine the two and alternate chapters. Talk about editing! I examined every scene -- no, every word -- and had to decide what to keep or pitch. I lost a lot of scenes I adored, but it made for a better book to lose them.

Keep or pitch ... my mantra going forward.


Friday, March 7, 2014

Pre-release Jitters and Giveaway for 'Sea Panther'

Jitters? Yep! I have them. Sea Panther is scheduled for release on March 20th. I'm as nervous as a parakeet being stalked by a cat. Or in this case a Florida panther shifter. Oh, and don't forget he's a vampire too.

Robert MacLachlan sails the Atlantic seeking to reverse the Voodoo he believes turned him into a vampire shifter. One taste of crewmember Kimberly Scot's blood convinces him she is the one woman who can claim the beast's heart and break the curse. But at what price to his honor?

For the full blurb and an excerpt, visit the Sea Panther page at my blog,
Dawn Marie Hamilton Writes

So...to overcome the jitters, I thought the best thing to do was have a Giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

~Dawn Marie Hamilton