Monday, May 31, 2010

Irrevocability by Kris Kennedy

Ah, the thing that can’t be undone. Ringing the bell that can’t be unrung. Saying the thing that makes people stare. Doing the thing that makes you scared. (Hmm, I didn’t mean for that to rhyme. I’ve been reading too many kids’ books.)

There is nothing like doing something people will remember. Because that means you can't take back. It means you’re committed. In for the long haul. The act, however unconsidered, is now binding.

For good or ill, that’s one of the most exciting parts of reading—and writing--fiction.

It’s part of the reason why, as Hannah was saying in her May 25 blog, heroines don’t scrub toilets. (Additionally, we all know cleaning is something that, whether you do it or no, is utterly irrelevant, because you’re going to need to do it again. In about 15 minutes if you have young kids or dogs. Cleaning is almost the antithesis of irrevocable.) Scrubbing toilets, and all the other mundane tasks of daily life, are revocable. Nothing ‘turns’ on them. You could take them back, and no one would know or care. Nothing is fundamentally different as a result. They’re forgettable.

They never made a difference.

You can walk away from a clean OR a dirty toilet. That is . . . unless you found a diamond ring resting there, after you’d pushed back the hair from your sweaty forehead with a forearm and knelt to scrub your 20th toilet of the week. And then you saw it. Sparkling. A diamond ring. Which means someone lost it. Or tossed it. And your rent is due.

NOW you have a story. Now you have a protagonist. Someone with a choice to make.

Make the right ones and you have a hero. And a heroine.

In all our ‘keeper’ books, I think one of the things we’ll find is characters actively getting themselves deeper and deeper into worse and worse trouble, particularly with the hero/heroine, and there’s simply no backing out. Nothing they do can be reversed.

Sometimes this is hard for us as authors. We actually like our heroes and heroines. We discover their histories, and fall deeply in love with them. They’re part of our family. We want them to have a happy life.

But we also like you, the reader. We know you want a good story. Happy, easy things happening to nice, good people is not terribly dramatic.

And, in the end, we’re storytellers at heart. We know true heroes and heroines have to walk through the fire first. Sure, they can have their Happily-Ever-After, but the old-fashioned way: they have to earn it. :-) The happy endings in our stories are earned, they are not handed out.

Check out the books on your ‘keeper’ shelves. I’ll bet you can find at least three or four places the storyteller had the characters make irrevocable, un-take-back-able choices. Decisions that—even if done in the spur of the moment, especially if done in the spur of the moment--pushed them closer to the dark edge of What They Known, then straight off the cliff, into peril and danger and their worst fears, right in the hero’s arms.

Big thanks to Hannah for having me here today!

My sophomore release, The Irish Warrior, comes out tomorrow, June 1. It was the winner of RWA’s 2008 Golden Heart® Award for Best Historical Romance, and is a super sexy, adventurous medieval romance. You can check out an excerpt here ( !

My debut, The Conqueror, came out last May—and Hannah’s quote is on its cover! I am currently at work on two more books for Pocket, both medievals. Please stop by the website (, check out excerpts ( , sign up for the newsletter (, and I’d love to hear from you (

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Why Don't Heroines Scrub Toilets?

First off - apologies for being so absent.  Booked myself a bunch of conferences and didn't calculate well how much time that would suck up or how little else I would get done.
Second - the picture.  That's the spirit one wants in a heroine.  Perhaps a little less suicidal, but you get my point.

The question that headlines this?  Well, when was the last time you read of a heroine scrubbing a toilet?  Or a floor?  Or hanging laundry?  Or cleaning up cat barf?  Not very romantic or exciting, is it.    Too close to the real life we all lead day to day as well.  It's not that you never read of them doing such things, just that it's not too common in a romance. 

We want our heroines to be different from us and yet be able to see ourselves in their place.  We want that vicarious thrill, that sense of mortal danger, those efficient maids unseen and offstage that keep the house so tidy, and toilets that are always clean as if done by some magical Brownie in the middle of the night.  That's if toilets are mentioned at all.   Heroines should be able to meet any threat or danger and triumph even when they're scared out of their minds.  They should always smell nice.  A heroine should always be able to send the stunningly macho, strong, handsome, tall, rich, etc.  hero into a state of blinding need for her.  She never gets gas, or bloat, or pimples, or even hangnails.  And embarrassment? Rarely, or easily overcome.  When was the last time you read of a heroine still angsting over that time she did something stupid in front of someone last month or earlier? Briefly, maybe, but not like we'd do.

But that is what makes them heroines.  That hint of strength of mind and spirit that many of us wish we had.  They overcome those moments that haunt we normal people - like the time you tried to give a speech and suddenly developed psychological laryngitis.  Or didn't notice your skirt was caught up and showing your underwear as you walked out of the bathroom into a crowded room. Your plain, boring Hanes-for-her white briefs.

Despite all that perfection, however, a writer has to make the heroine someone a reader can identify with.  Even if she's a high-born lady in an historcal or a CEO in a contemporary or a deadly vampire-hunter in a paranormal.  There has to be something in the heroine that appeals to the reader, that makes the reader slip into her shoes as she reads her tale, sympathize with her travails, and revel in her accomplishments.

It's not easy.  We all want our heroines to be Wonder Woman but readers really don't, not completely.  They want that quirk, the touch of angst, that flash of insecurity.  It makes the character more human.  And, trust me, it's really not easy to develop a strong heroine yet make her vulnerable enough to appeal to a reader, to make her less a superhuman and more just human.   If you make your heroine a bad-ass,  kickass woman who can take down any enemy, you have to give her some softness.  If you make her a normal woman thrust into abnormal, dangerous circumstances, you have to give her the strength to conquer and come out of it without serious psychological scars and make that believable.

So, make your heroine the kind of woman that can tree the bear but her heart ought to be pounding with fear as she does it.  Make her a woman who can appeal to that hero we all would like to walk into our life and can make love so expertly that our eyes cross, but enough of an ordinary woman to wonder if she can hold him.(after all he's a hero and mega-scrumptious)  Make her a woman who can take care of herself but still holds the wish for a partner, a happily-ever-after, a love that will last. 

And that's just my opinion.  Maybe next time I'll pontificate on heroes.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Spend a day with Catherine Anne Collins

First of all, I’d like to thank Hannah for being kind enough to host me on her blog today. I was fortunate enough to meet her at the RT Booklovers Convention in Columbus, Ohio just a short time ago. It was a fun week and I certainly enjoyed the experience…the convention, as well as meeting Hannah.

To be honest, I had trouble deciding what to write about for the blog. My creative juices just weren’t flowing the way they should be and I was stumped. So, that’s what I decided to write about. Stroking the creative muse. Stoking the writing fires. Striking the old gray matter into full drive…you get the idea.

Part of what pushes me to write is my own warped sense of reality. Yup. I have a warped mind, but don’t tell my husband because he tells me I do and I keep denying it. Anyway, I love to write about places that exist only in a briefest flicker of memory tucked in a hidden part of our minds. You know, Avalon, Atlantis, Lemuria, Camelot. Creating these places as they might have been and populating them with characters who each have a story to tell is what I love. Ideas run through my mind daily and trying to shape them into some semblance of a story that my readers might enjoy is one of the motivating factors of my writing.

The other thing that motivates me…ahhh, I wish you could see and feel what I do at this moment. I’m sitting in our front yard inhaling the scent of lilacs, watching birds of all kinds dive to the feeder and fight for the peanuts on the ground. A gentle breeze blows the cedar trees that surround our house and yard, while cows low a mellow sound in the distance. Once in awhile one of our resident red squirrels scatters the birds from the ground as he runs in for a peanut and darts back to his hideaway under our flowering bush. (Don’t ask me what kind of bush. The flowers are pink, that’s all I know.) Soon, I’ll go down to the barn, where the sun will be setting beyond the forest of trees and my goats will run to greet me—crying all the way. As they all get their hugs and I put fresh straw on their bed, peace will swell within me. The peace of nature at its best and the love of animals that I’ve raised from kids. That is the other half of what motivates me.

Now you know my secret. I’m fed by the love of a mystical story and the surroundings of 50 acres of nature that I’m fortunate enough to enjoy every day. I’ve told you what motivates me to write 1000’s of words a day, (okay, 100’s of words a day) now, I’d love to hear what gets you motivated. If you’re not a writer, that’s okay as well. Share with us what motivates you to make it through your day, whether you’re a stay-at-home mom, career woman, student…whatever.

Oh, gosh, I had better not forget to promote my books. My two most recent are The Crystal of Light and A Witch’s Lament and you can find information about them here:

Thanks again for having me, Hannah. I hope everyone has a great day.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Finding Time for Mef by JM Griffin

Writing is a wonderful outlet, though when it comes time to stop, I often find it difficult. The words keep flowing, but the body says “Enough”. How do I overcome this problem? It isn’t as if I don’t try, but when my eyes cross instead of my t’s, then I know I need fresh air, some exercise and a good cup of tea. Prying myself away from the computer screen is the easy part. Staying away from it for at least a brief period of time is what’s hard. When I do return to work, though, I find that I have a fresh view of what I’m doing and where my characters are heading. Since I’m a pantser, this is fairly easy. But, I digress….

Finding me-time can take planning, strategy and doesn’t always work out the way I want it to. Since I have no children at home you would think this is easy, right? Wrong! It takes more planning. At least when I had young ones running around, I could acquire a half hour of quiet time (you know, nap time for the little darlings). At this juncture, I find the only time I take for myself is when I am driving to and from the market or to Walmart. Since I drive across a causeway sandwiched between two bodies of the Scituate Reservoir, I find serenity in the scene and often take a few moments to stop and admire the view. I guess that counts as “Me-Time” in a way.

I can’t stress how important it is to take time for yourself. Even if it is fleeting, it allows your brain to recuperate and energize. Something we all need. So take a break, plop your feet on your desk, look out your window and dream of the place you would like to be most. Let the image sink in, surround you and block out all the stresses in your life. Now, don’t you feel better? I sure do!

For more information about JM Griffin and her titles please visit her site