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Friday, January 30, 2015

Valentine's Day Confessions by Kimmie Easley

Hello, February and the time of candy hearts, roses and plush stuffed animals. Yes, I'm a sucker for love. I'm a romance author, after all! So I wanted to share with you a few of my Valentine's Day confessions. 

Confession #1: I bought myself a heart shaped box of chocolate (yes, I know it's still January) to indulge in while I hunker down in my writing cave to meet impending deadlines. 

Confession #2: A good love poem stirs my soul.

Love is More Thicker Than Forget 
By: E.E. Cummings

love is more thicker than forget
more thinner than recall
more seldom than a wave is wet
more frequent than to fail

it is most mad and moonly
and less it shall unbe
than all the sea which only
is deeper than the sea

love is less always than to win
less never than alive
less bigger than the least begin
less littler than forgive

it is most sane and sunly
and more it cannot die
than all the sky which only
is higher than the sky

E.E. Cummings, “[love is more thicker than forget]” from Complete Poems 1904-1962, edited by George J. Firmage. Copyright 1926, 1954, 1991 by the Trustees for the E.E. Cummings Trust. Copyright © 1985 by George James Firmage. Reprinted with the permission of Liveright Publishing Corporation.

Source: Poetry (January 1939)

Confession #3: I collect old, vintage Valentine's Day cards. 

Confession #4: My ideal date with the hubs is a chilled bottle of wine, or cold beer on the front porch while watching the sun fade and listening to classic country on the radio. 

Confession #5: A gal's first Valentine should always be her daddy. 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The Journey Behind Writing Historical Romance

If you've ever written historical romance, you will appreciate the staggering research that goes into anything set in the past. None of us were born knowing this stuff, unless you're vividly recalling a former life. Even after all the enormous preparation required before typing a single word, more research is inevitable as new scenes demand added detail. I have yet to discover one that doesn't. Such was the case with my latest release, historical romance novel, Traitor's Legacy, the sequel to award-winning historical romance novel, Enemy of the King. Both stories are set during the high drama of the American Revolution. Yes, I studied the entire war before launching into my focus on the Southern Front, because I needed to know how it all fit together. You can't dissect one facet of an era, but must see all the parts, or you will be like an ant viewing the bottom of the elephant's foot and trying to gain any real notion of the creature.

Before the holidays, I signed with The Wild Rose Press for the third novel in the Traitor's Legacy Series, Traitor's Curse, a mysterious, ghostly, Gothic flavored romance and am awaiting edits from my editor, so the saga continues. Back to the research. You may ask, do I enjoy these forays into bygone days? For the most part, yes. I find myself engrossed and often come across information that enhances the story, spawns a plot line, or even a new book. But there are those times when I'm exhausted and fervently wish someone could simply answer my question and save me hours of laboring to unearth what's needed. And historians do not always agree with each other, so I'm left to gain an overall consensus of an episode or the particulars of life in that time period. I also continually consult an etymology as I write to be certain my word usage is appropriate. 

Visiting the settings featured in my stories is a huge aid and I do so if possible. I toured all the North and South Carolina sites in Enemy of the King. In Traitor's Legacy, the primary setting is Halifax, NC. I had a wonderfully informative tour and guides there, plus visited and revisited Colonial Williamsburg and historic Yorktown, as both locations figure into the story. Traitor's Curse is set in an old plantation home outside of Halifax, and in and around the town itself. Living in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley of Virginia makes these treks feasible. Scotland, not so much. For British settings, I am dependent on family and friends who've visited, or live there, and research. Always research.

I am grateful for all the assistance I've received along the way. For my Native American themed stories, I've had the help of historians and reenactors (also for my American Revolution themes). Anthropologists, archaeologists, language experts, and the Shawnee themselves have been invaluable in my NA Warrior series. Copious reading material has been generously gifted to me, or purchased from museum bookshops, or borrowed from the library. Family accounts I've come across while doing genealogy enter strongly into my work. Some online sites are hugely helpful, but didn't exist in my early writing days. These sites vary depending on the particular era I'm focused on at the time. Do not rely on Wikipedia. Serious sites put together by historians, reenactors, hard core authors who've done their research, historical societies and museums, etc, are more reliable.

My knowledge of herbs is extremely useful in doctoring my characters, or sedating, even poisoning, them if necessary. Herbs were vital to every aspect of life in times past and the reason I give herbal workshops to various online writing groups. Authors need to know more about herbs and herbal lore to lend authenticity to their stories. Some of this knowledge is also important to have for ourselves today, and can be lifesaving.

My point in all of this, is a plea for appreciation of the tremendous effort poured into writing historical fiction of all lengths. Even shorter works require much research. I challenge anyone who thinks this is easy, to go for it, If you already know writing historicals is an arduous path, but long to venture into the past, then do it for the love of the journey. It's the only way I know of to time travel.

For those of you who are interested, here's the link to my Author Page at Amazon. Amazon has all of my work. Other online booksellers have a number of my stories, but not all. I've indie published some of my titles, but many are with the Wild Rose Press, an excellent publisher.

For more on me, pop in to my blog One Writer's Way:

Monday, January 26, 2015

I'm a Confused Writer by Vonnie Davis

When I try to write something serious, readers laugh. When I try my hand at comedy, readers email me and fuss that I never warned them it would pluck at their heart strings so badly. I don't know how I manage to put in the wrong emotion. I mean, I feel like a sweat suit at the Spring formal.

I had a goal of writing deeper emotion. To see if I could make readers go from laughter to tears. So, I wrote For the Love of a Fireman, with two wounded souls. The hero was especially hurt; his co-workers at the fire station had taken to calling him Ice Man. My heroine lost her mother in a car accident a few months earlier, was dealing with a father in the early stages of dementia and was being stalked by an ex-fiancĂ© who had beaten her when she broke off the engagement. Serious stuff, right? I've gotten more reviews and emails from readers who claim they've never laughed so hard the whole way through a book.

Well....that's not what I was aiming for! How did I screw that up?

The truth is I do enjoy starting a book with a humorous scene, for I feel it draws the reader in and makes them like the characters right away. Often the characters tell me how to do it. Barclay, my hero, told me how to write this opening scene of For the Love of a Fireman as an example.

“Quick! What aisle are the douches in? I’ve got three bitches at the beach cottage and they all stink to high heaven.” The broad shoulders of the harried man appeared solid under his faded t-shirt, worn inside out and backward. His pale whiskered stubble was pulled tight by his clenched jaw and tensed lips. The customer practically vibrated with frustration.
“I can’t let them in bed with me smelling like that.” His fingertips tapped a beat of annoyance on the check-out counter. “What is it with females, anyway? Ain’t got the good sense God gave them.”
Molly Devon’s temper flared. Oh, yeah, as if you men are the sharpest knives on humanity’s chopping block.
He brushed his neck, his fingers tangling in the worn tag. He looked down, plucked the material of his shirt and muttered a curse. “Sorry, I grabbed the first top I could find and just yanked it on. He reached back with one hand and jerked it off, trying to set it to rights.
Molly’s Colorado born-and-bred gaze took a skiing trip over the mountains of his hardened pecs and skied down the ridges of his abs. Along his downhill masculine slope, she noticed other things. Skin tanned dark. On his left side, a wide tribal rib tattoo ran from below his armpit to beneath his pants to who knew where. A light tan treasure trail of chest hair thinned at his navel. The waistband of his raggedy jeans barely hung onto the V indent at his hipline created by well-toned obliques.
Sweet Lord, what a girl couldn’t do with…
For Pete’s sake, swallow this mouthful of drool. Stop gawking! Haven’t I learned my lesson? Men are bad news. Not to be believed and never to be trusted.
Firm biceps flexed as he slipped the faded t-shirt, advertising boogie boards, over his torso, tugging it down and shifting his wide shoulders. “Sorry, about that. But, believe me, I’d sooner be home, hammering away, than in here.”
His crass remark jerked her admiring attention to his overconfident square jaw.
Yeah, just give me a hammer, buddy. I’ll pound some sense into your arrogant over-sexed brain.
He leaned toward her. “Well? Where are they?”
The stranger’s bark startled her. With her nerves on edge from her mother’s recent passing, her father’s increasing signs of dementia and Wade’s violent reaction after she broke off their engagement, any perceived threat—no matter how minor or brief—set her insides to trembling. Paranoia had her in its grip for she was sure she’d seen Wade’s battered, dark blue SUV cruising Gulf Boulevard in Indian Rocks Beach, Florida. Both times she hid, her body having slipped into fear mode.
Molly tussled with her anxieties, scrambling for internal control.
“Ah…” She lifted her index finger to indicate she needed a second or two as she scanned the overhead signs, listing the items stocked in each aisle. Where had she seen the feminine products during her brief new-hire orientation two days ago? Another deep breath and calmness returned, her mind finally chugging into gear.
The customer lifted his blue ball cap with some kind of marine rescue emblem on it, forked his long fingers through straight hair—bleached nearly pale blond by the sun—and resettled the hat. “You do carry Massengill, don’t you? That’s the best brand, according to my research.”
“Ah…” My God, what kind of man researches douches? A man who goes to bed with three women, Molly. Now concentrate.
Two broad hands clasped the edge of the counter. His index finger had a nasty red-rimmed cut on its side. An appealing mixture of sawdust, lime and ginger snagged her attention and, when the man cleared his throat, her gaze snapped upward to lock on a pair of surf green eyes flecked with blue. “Is my question too difficult for you to answer…” he glanced at her nametag, “Molly?”
Oh, this guy has a good tongue lashing coming. Molly sucked in a breath, pulled together a string of insults to hurl at him and then changed her mind. Better to smile while she enjoyed her private opinions of this man-whore, especially since she needed every penny to buy groceries and her father’s medicines. She’d put a big dent in her credit card balance to substitute the laptop her dad had misplaced, along with his wallet and her carryon of her clothes.
Finally the product’s location slipped into place. “You’ll find them in aisle six, on the right.”
The knuckles of his fisted hand rapped once on the counter before he sauntered off.
Big-headed, demanding jerk.
Her gaze settled on the box of chocolate bars calling her name, taunting her. Why did everything she ate have to settle on her ass? Two women strolled in the store wearing shorts that showcased slender, toned thighs and itty-bitty butts. Her thighs were toned, but thick by society’s standards. Unfortunately, the only things slender on her body were her earlobes and toes. Life just wasn’t fair.
Molly was shoving packs of cigarettes into racks behind the register when someone thunked items onto the check-out counter. She pasted on a smile, did a quick pivot and sighed as the grin slid off. Douche-man was back with twelve double packs of Massengill disposables.
“You only had two boxes of the mixable kind.” He read the printing on the box he held, never once sparing her a glance. He tapped the second carton resting on the counter with his cut finger. “Would you mind checking your inventory in the back? I’ll need more.”
“I’m not allowed to leave the register, but I’ll be happy to page our stock boy.”
Douche-man grunted and flipped the package around. “It’s gonna take at least two boxes for Lola. She’s big. Got wide hips. Skinny legs, though. Kinda like a twenty-gallon tank on toothpicks.”
What an ass, talking about his girlfriend like that! Molly sneered and depressed the button on the store’s intercom. “Cruz, could you check our supply of mixable douche powder? I have a man who needs three or four boxes.”
“Make it five or six. And they have to be Massengill, don’t forget. God, I don’t know which girl smells the worst.”
Well, quit putting your nose in their hootchies. Molly cleared her throat and rolled her eyes before depressing the button on the intercom. “Could you make that six boxes of douche powder? Massengill, please, Cruz.” A few snickers floated over from aisle two.
“I can see I’m gonna have a rough night ahead. Maggie Mae hates when I give her a good scrubbing, especially if I get soap in her beady eyes or get too rough with her.” He pinched the bridge of his nose between his thumb and index finger and sighed like a man greatly imposed upon. “God, I hate a whiny bitch.”
Oh, I am so going to belt you.
“Caroline handles her bath pretty well. She likes it rough, especially when I hold her head under the faucet.” He had the audacity to chuckle. “She tries to drink the water, but then she’ll drink most anything.”
She’d have to be drunk to put up with you, buster. You need some serious help.
Cruz hurried to the register, his arms full of boxes. “Here you go, Molly.” He shot the customer a curious glance.
“Thanks. Would you do me one more favor, please?”
The pimply-faced teen’s head bobbed. “Sure.”
“Our customer needs a bottle of peroxide and Neosporin for the cut on his finger. It’s showing signs of infection.” Cruz nodded and hurried back to aisle four.
Douche-man glimpsed at his hand. “Thanks. I do have a first aid kit, but I’ve been too preoccupied with work to take care of it. Ain’t nothing but an infected splinter. Can’t seem to dig deep enough to get to it."
Oh, just give me a machete. I’ll show you how deep a good woman can cut.
He slid his fingertips into the front pocket of jeans, pulling them a little lower on his hips, and she fought to inhale her next breath until he finally tugged out folded bills secured with a silver fire truck money clip. “What’s the damage?”
To your wallet or the self-esteem of those poor women?
After totaling his purchases, Molly handed him his change and six plastic bags. “Hope you get them cleaned up.”
He grunted again. “Sure as hell hope so. Don’t know if I can sleep without the girls laying all over me.”
She planted her hand on her hip. Oh, puh-lease.
He headed for the exit, high-top sneakers clunking the tile floor.
Molly glared at his retreating form. What a piece of macho jerk.
He snapped his fingers and returned. “Where’s the dog toys? They’ll be expecting a treat after I scrub the skunk smell off.”
“Dogs? Dogs!” Had he been talking about dogs all this time?
Douche-man nodded, his blond five o’clock shadow more an eight o’clock sexy scruff. “Yeah. An overweight Black Lab, a beady-eyed Chihuahua and a Collie mix. I’m kinda partial to my girls, but not when they chase skunks and get a good spraying.”
“Skunks? Spraying?” God, I sound like an echo.
“Used to wash them down with tomato juice after being sprayed, but Caroline would lap at the juice and get terrible gas.” He shook his head once. “Couldn’t stand to be around her for days.” He grinned and dimples slashed his cheeks. “So, I researched online and found out about bathing animals in Massengill after encounters with skunks.”
Boy, talk about a miscommunication.
Although I stuck in bits of humor here and there throughout the book, I also thought I wove in moments to take a person's breath away, to play on their sympathies and to make them feel sorry for this man who has lost so many loved ones in his lifetime. Somewhere along the line, I got confused.