When Trish Met Dan

Following is an excerpt from Heartsight, being released tomorrow, at www.astraeapress.com. Remember, all sales of Heartsight through the Astraea Press website from March 1 to June 1, 2011 will generate a $2 donation to the USO Wounded Warriors Program. Many thanks to Astraea Press for matching my donation and helping support this great cause.

Thanks for stopping by! Hope you enjoy these paragraphs.

Bella sat on a large, flat rock facing the ocean, next to one of the most attractive men Trish had ever seen. He wore faded blue jeans. A light gray T-­‐‑shirt hugged his lean,  muscular build. His skin was deeply tanned, and somewhat weathered. This was no indoor executive. His dark hair was cut fairly short but still curled at the ends. He was a few days late for a shave, giving him an appearance of vacation laziness combined with just a hint of danger. His eyes were hidden behind mirrored sunglasses. Too bad. Trish had a thing for eyes.

His head was bent low as he spoke in soft tones to her daughter.  Trish surveyed the serene scene she’d stumbled upon, noting the sense of simple connectedness between Bella and the stranger, and instantly felt like an intruder in her daughter’s world. Now she was torn between relief because Bella was safe and trepidation that she had so easily and trustingly placed herself in the company of a stranger.

Apparently having readied herself for the day, Isabella was wearing a pair of rumpled blue shorts and a pink T-­‐‑shirt, both from the day before. She had on one white sock and one pale pink. At least her shoes were on the correct feet, though they weren’t  tied. She’d eaten her own version of breakfast, if the sticky ring of caramel icing and strawberry fruit filling around her lips was an indication.

The important thing was finding her baby unhurt, Trish reminded herself with a sigh. Pushing her perpetually sagging eyeglasses up on her nose, Bella turned to Trish and shot her a wide-­‐‑eyed smile. “Hi, Mama.”

She released the man’s hand and got off the rock, taking her time crossing the distance to Trish, stooping to examine a piece of driftwood, finally picking it up and bringing it along. At last, she gave her mother a hug.

Trish let out a slow breath, allowing herself to relax. Who was this man? Why hadn’t she noticed him before? Did he live around here, or was he vacationing? Finally, she realized she’d been staring. “Thank you . . . for finding my daughter.”

That earned her a chuckle from the stranger. “I was beginning to wonder if you could speak.” He shrugged. “Actually, she found me.” His words were light, easy. It was hard to tell with the sunglasses in place, but while he gazed generally in their direction,
he never looked quite at her.

“I’m so sorry if she interrupted your morning. I fell asleep in my studio last night and overslept. I didn’t know Bella would just leave. She never ran off in the city. And . . . I’m babbling like a complete idiot.” She held out her hand. “I’m Trish Evers.”

The man made no move to accept her handshake and Trish dropped her hand awkwardly. Startled, at first, by such blatant rudeness, Trish gradually took note of the way Bella’s companion held his head at an angle, as though listening intently. She noted the German shepherd sitting quietly at his side with the working harness in place, and realized behind the mirrored sunglasses, the man was blind.

Squelching the insane urge to apologize for not noticing his impairment, Trish stepped forward and snagged his hand, giving it a light squeeze. “I’m Trish and you met my daughter, Bella. We just moved into the house at the end of the street.”

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Six Sentence Sunday

My six, are from Heartsight, which will be released by Astraea Press this Tuesday. www.astraeapress.com

An edgy feeling started in between his shoulder blades. It moved up to the back of his head and drilled its way into his brain. It was exactly the feeling he used to get on recon missions in-country, the feeling that told him he’d missed something and needed to take a second look. He turned around, placing his back against the base of the lighthouse, trying to conjure the picture in his mind based on long ago memories.  Nothing filtered into his awareness.
“God, if You’re there, this would be the time for a miracle,” he whispered.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ablmbMwlS5A

In honor of my hero, Dan Conway being a wounded U.S. Marine, purchases of Heartsight made directly at the www.astraeapress.com website from March 1 to June 1, 2011, will each generate a $1 donation to the USO Wounded Warriors Program. Thanks for stopping by!

For more Six Sentence Sunday fun:http://sixsunday.blogspot.com/

 

Heartsight and the USO

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT!

Support our Troops!

“The USO recognizes the sacrifices the troops and their families make for this country, and it is more important than ever that they are remembered and supported. The USO offers a variety of programs and services to support the morale, welfare, social and entertainment needs of troops and their families, free of charge.”

In honor of the USMC hero of Heartsight, purchases made through the Astraea Press website, www.astraeapress.com, from March 1 through June 1, 2011, will generate a $1 per copy donation to the USO Wounded Warriors Program.

Learn more about the USO here:

http://www.uso.org/programs.aspx

Enjoy a copy of Heartsight and contribute to the welfare of the troops who keep us safe.

Spread the word! Let’s make this the worst-kept military secret in history!

Many thanks to the folks at Astraea Press for their support of this donation. And thank you in advance to my readers for your donation to this great cause.

~Kay

On a secluded beach in North Carolina, three lonely people find hope in each other.

Trish Evers is an artist and single mother, who has inherited her grandmother’s Bed and Breakfast in a North Carolina coastal town. Though she must sell the house, she decides to bring her daughter to the beach for one last summer vacation in her childhood town.

Bella is a six-year-old girl who has Down syndrome. Rejected by her father, Trish, is the only parent she’s ever known. Bella likes to explore the beach and has a tendency to wander off. One day, Bella goes exploring on her own, and Trish finds her in the company of an intriguing stranger.

Dan Conway is a U.S. Marine, who had been born into a family of Marines. Now blind as a result of combat injuries and unable to “suit up,” he feels he no longer has a purpose in life. He’s come home to the beach, where he spends his days in solitude. Dan must learn to believe in himself and to love life again, which he begins to do through his interactions with Bella and Trish. When a hurricane strikes, and Bella wanders off again, her only hope for rescue is Dan.

Working within the confines of his blindness, he must overcome his fear of failure and recall his training in order to search for the little girl and bring her to safety.

The Many Ways our Characters Get Burned

FOR THOSE WHO READ MY SIX SENTENCES SUNDAY AND EXPRESSED CONCERN FOR THE HEROINE TRAPPED IN THE FIRE, THIS ONE’S FOR YOU!

Smoke stung her eyes and tears blurred her vision. Heat seared her lungs, scorched along her nerve endings, the pain breaking the fire’s spell. She spun frantically. Which way was out? Pillars of flame blocked her path in every direction. Sandy was in the devil’s domicile, with no idea which direction led to safety and which led her deeper into hell.

Gasping for each breath, her vision began to film over with a purple-red mist. Thickened blood pounded hard through her carotid arteries, struggling to carry oxygen to her brain. Her arms and legs were clunky, hard to move. Her neck didn’t have the strength to hold up her head.

She was going to die here.

He came for her on the gush of artificial rain, pushing back the firestorm; her personal white knight rescuing her from the grip of the enraged dragon. She felt his confident touch as he pulled her into the safety of his embrace. He used his own body as her shelter against the ravenous inferno.

She followed his guidance with complete trust. His muscles contracted around her as he launched them both into a desperate leap through the waves of heat. They landed with breath-stealing pain and he rolled them over the muddied ground, in the wash of spray from the pumper truck.

Ryan pushed to his feet, hauling Sandy up with him, swiftly pulling her away from the fire. She clung to his arm as coughing wracked her body, nearly knocking her back to her knees. Once she had her bearings, she nodded and stepped away from him.

“I’m good,” she shouted over the angry howl of the fire.

He pointed her toward Justin. Sandy barely had time to register this new, all-business side of Ryan before, with a last quick look into her eyes, he left her side.

From Lifeline Echoes, contemporary romance by Kay Springsteen currently in the pipeline.

Of course fire burns, but there are so many other ways our heroes and heroines can be burned, aren’t there? Love and sexual attraction can generate heat, and the fire of anger can ruin a character’s whole day…or at least that scene. Michener wrote a book called The Fires of Spring, about the awakening of young love. Harry Potter had a Goblet of Fire, which was a take on trials by fire. Go to Amazon and type “fire” into the book search engine. Hundreds of books pop up – themes such as Forbidden Fire, Sacred Fire, Fire and Ice. Fire and heat make the reader think of passion; the passion of love, passion of a sexual nature, passion for life. The thought of heat often draws a reader in. But even if you don’t use “fire” in your title, your novel must contain passion in some form.

I believe, in order to hold the interest of the reader, a novel must contain the author’s own passion for life. If we carefully construct a manuscript but do not breathe life into it through our own passion for the characters, we show we don’t truly care about those characters. If we don’t care, why should anyone else?

What ways do you use to add fire to your writing?

Just over one week until the release of Heartsight, where the element of danger is not fire, but wind and water…

www.astraeapress.com

And watch for an exciting announcement about Heartsight this week.

Until next time, good reading!

Kay

Six-Sentence Sunday Entry

My 6-sentence excerpt, in which my heroine has been trying to fight a prairie wildfire:

She never noticed the shifting wind, nor the change in the fire’s tone from snapping puppy to snarling wolf. The rusty amber glow swirled into a vortex of smoke and flame with Sandy in its eye. Promising exquisite torture, the monster fanned her with its hot breath. Greedy licks of orange and yellow stretched toward her, as if eager for a taste of tender flesh. Invisible flames charred the tips of dried grass at her feet. Sandy stood transfixed by the beauty and power of the blazing entity.

From Lifeline Echoes, current work making submission rounds

Six Sentence Sunday is the idea of Sara Brookes, in which writers–published and otherwise–share six sentences from their current project, manuscript making the editor-agent rounds, or published masterpiece. If that description fits you, feel free to click here and join the fun. http://sixsunday.blogspot.com/

Heartsight is almost here! March 1, 2011!

www.astraeapress.com

 

 

 

And check out my interview on Sherry Gloag’s blog:

http://sherrygloagtheheartofromance.blogspot.com/

He Said, She Said…But What Did They DO?

Those Pesky Dialogue Scenes

We’re still exploring how we can learn from Hollywood…or in this case Hawaii. Hawaii 5-0 to be exact. I can’t get enough of the chemistry between Steve and Danno.

Want to write realistic dialogue that doesn’t come off looking like talking heads on the page? Watch TV.

As you watch whatever program you choose, pay attention to the scenes where there are heavy uses of pure dialogue. You will get hints on showing what your characters are doing during those all-important dialogue scenes you write. Even if characters are having a conversation while driving, they are usually DOING something with hands, body languages, facial expressions.

That’s where my beloved Hawaii 5-0 comes in. In the hit CBS series, the two hot-hot lead males on the show, Steve (Alex O’Loughlin) and Danno (Scott Caan) spend a lot of time driving together. The writers of the show use this time as opportunities for sharing information with the audience. The unique and very lovable chemistry between these two characters is always evident, but more to the point, during these car conversations, they are DOING things that are easily translated into a written story. In one episode, Steve, at the wheel, looks up and sees a postcard of New Jersey (where Danny is from), and asks about it. He pulls it off the visor and it becomes a prop being brandished in Steve’s hand as we learn about how much Danny misses his hometown. Finger pointing, impatient gestures, eye-rolling facial expressions follow. Describing such things add necessary beats between dialogue without the constant and repetitive “he said,” and “she said.” Learning how to describe small gestures will make even scenes in a car work.  Wrinkled his nose (in distaste), stabbed a finger in the air, waved the postcard around, turned away to look out the window. In yet another scene, Steve and Danno are part of a wild chase. Watch that part of the video below and pay attention not as much to the dialogue as to what the characters are doing, and see how you would use these actions to add beats to a fast-paced dialogue.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jSjvDbFaGns&feature=relmfu

Did you catch it? Finger stabbing/pointing, facial grimaces, jerking the steering wheel, bracing in the seat, holding onto the door handle, pointing at oncoming traffic, and so on.

If you write, how do you handle dialogue within tight spaces, such as in a car or on the sofa in front of a fire? As a reader, what keeps you reading during such scenes?

The Twisting Tale

If you’re looking for Kim’s scavenger hunt, you’ve come to the right place! Read on.

~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~

I once had a dog named Hero. His tail was broken in three places before he even left his puppyhood behind because he had been born with tail bones that were on the brittle side. His tail had a natural curl over his back, then it twisted severely to the right, then to the left, and then back toward his rump. He never seemed to feel the breaks when they happened. He kind of just accepted them. One break happened when he was born. The second when he was about 8 weeks old and got it caught in the wires of the puppy pen. The third break we were never sure what happened. We went out for the evening and when we came home, he had another broken place.The twists and turns of his tail became woven into his personality. In the same way, the various twists and turns our stories take become part of the personna of the tale we are telling.

Most people read or write fiction in order to escape into a story that takes us out of our daily lives, and puts us smack in the middle of someone else’s life. Maybe we crave more excitement, maybe we want to forget the fact that our electric bill tripled this month. Either way, without a little creative storytelling, a few unexpected twists to the plot, or breaks in the tail, there is no story to tell. Enter the writer’s friend: The Plot Twist.

Who cares if we can relate because the heroine’s fiance broke up with her? That’s old news, possibly even happened to us once. So honey, suck it up and get on with life. But when the heroine who lost her fiance gets on a plane to track him down in a foreign country, meets a cute but somewhat shady French native. loses her passport, can’t get it replaced, and finds her cute new friend used her luggage to smuggle something through French Customs…THAT’S more exciting. In case you don’t recognize the scenerio, that’s French Kiss with Meg Ryan and Kevin Kline. In the same vein, how many Cinderella stories can you tolerate? Who really cares about the hooker on the street corner? But put one on a corner being picked up by an uber-rich hunk of a guy with a brooding nature, who wants to pay for the pleasure of her company for the rest of the week and then falls in love with her…that’s fodder for Hollywood, baby. That’s Pretty Woman. Writers take the mundane, everyday things of life, such as a group of men and women with a passion for fast cars, and spin it into an adventure of street racing, rivalry, murder, and high-stakes highway robbery (The Fast and the Furious).

So what can we, as writers, learn from Hollywood fiction? Everything. Movies are generally 1-1/2 to 2 hours of story with tight dialogue, visual stimulation and interesting plot twists. Watching how the story unfolds via the movie will give you an idea how to tighten your writing, how to develop plot twists.to make them hook the reader/watcher.

What drives your story, the characters or the plot? How do you decide where your story will take the reader and how? Do you plan the overall plot, the subplots, and the various twists ahead of time? How do you make sure the story flows without becoming too cumbersome?

Available March 1, 2011

What do a divorced mother, a child with Down syndrome, and a U.S. Marine who was blinded in battle have in common? Find out when you read Heartsight, available March 1, 2011 from Astraea Press.

And watch for another exciting announcement coming soon!

http://astraeapress.com/.

 

~~*~*~*~*~*~~Kim’s Scavenger Hunt~~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~~

To celebrate the launch of her new book Wayward Soul, Kim Bowman is holding a BLOG SCAVENGER HUNT February 15, 2011.

RULES: The contest will start at 9 a.m. EST at the Astraea Press blog http://www.astraeapress.blogspot.com/. Every half hour (9:30, 10, 10:30, and so forth) Kim will post a comment letting you know which blog to visit next. You will visit a total of 10 different blogs through the day. YOU MUST LEAVE A COMMENT ON EVERY BLOG IN ORDER TO WIN!

There will be a 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th place winner!!

First Place will receive an ebook gift basket that will include a copy of my new release Wayward Soul as well as two other Astraea Press releases, Rebekah Purdy’s Seeking Shapeshifters and Bri Clark’s Familial Witch, the future Astraea Press release Spartan Heart by Kristine Cheney, Stephanie Taylor’s new release My One True Love, a hard copy of Sylvia Browne’s book Contacting Your Spirit Guide, and a $20 ecoupon to use for future purchases at http://astraeapress.com/!!

Second Place will receive 3 future Astraea Press ebook releases (Sucker for a Hot Rod by Joselyn Vaughn, Legend of the Oceina Dragon by J. F. Jenkins, and Therese Gilardi’s Matching Wits with Venus) , an ecopy of my book Wayward Soul, and a $10 ecoupon to use for future purchases at http://astraeapress.com/!!

Third Place will receive 3 future Astraea Press ebook releases (Vanessa Barger’s Into the Ether, Elaine Cantrell’s A New Dream, and Kay Springsteen’s Heartsight) and an ecopy of my book Wayward Soul.

Fourth Place will receive an ecopy of my new release Wayward Soul.

Check out my Astraea Press Books offered in the contests http://astraeapress.com/.

It’s going to be a ton of fun! I hope to see all of you!

Here’s Your Valentine!

Knock, knock. Who’s there? Justin. Justin, who?

TLA

Justin time, here’s your Valentine!

 

It’s February 14, and that can mean only one thing. The colors of the day are red, white, and pink, with maybe a little gold tossed in for good measure. So, legit holiday or card company confab?

While it’s true the day may have become glamorized and commercialized over the years, Valentine’s Day actually has roots in the legit, and is thought to have originally been a day set aside to honor one of several martyred saints known as Valentine or Valentinius. The elements of the celebration itself, however, can be traced back to several pagan cultures as parts of fertility rituals.

Symbols of Valentine’s Day

The Heart was thought to be the source of all emotions, and later came to be associated only with the emotion of love. It’s not clear when the valentine heart shape became the symbol for the heart. Some scholars believe the heart symbol as used to signify romance and love came from early attempts by people to draw an organ they’d never seen.

Red roses were said to be the favorite flower of Venus, the Roman goddess of love.

Lace was used to make women’s handkerchiefs. Hundreds of years ago, if a woman dropped her handkerchief, a man might pick it up for her. Sometimes, if she had her eye on the right man, a woman might intentionally drop her handkerchief to encourage him. So, people began to think of romance when they thought of lace.

Lovebirds, colorful birds found in Africa, are so named because they sit closely together in pairs.

Doves are symbols of loyalty and love, because they mate for life and share the care of their babies.

Greeting cards: Esther Howland created the first commercial American valentines.

For more information: http://tlc.howstuffworks.com/family/valentine3.htm

Hearts to you!

Whether you’re with your honey or with 30 kids, do something appropriately nice to celebrate.

Be Mine!

And if you number among the single crowd, maybe thinking of Valentine’s Day as Singles Awareness Day…why not do something extra nice for yourself that you wouldn’t ordinarily do?

Tell me your plans for Valentine’s Day!

And don’t forget Heartsight is due out in March 2011, through Astraea Press. Watch for a very exciting announcement!

Stop by to check out other great titles available now at

www.astraeapress.com

 

 

The Things We Do For Love

Happy Six-Sentence Sunday!

Love sees with the heart

What would you do for your love? Would you take a bullet? Give your life? Would you walk through a hurricane blind to rescue someone you love? Would you be your love’s eyes?

“…The beach is flat where the tide comes in, but just beyond the high tide line, these little mounding dunes start. The beach grass is more brown than green, a couple of shades darker than the sand, and it’s tall and scrubby. There are four or five rows of drift fences instead of one like on other parts of the beach. The sun is getting low so the drift fences make very long shadows pointing toward the water.”

“Harkening Point,” Dan breathed. Her words took him right there. Emotion welled as he saw it in his mind, exactly the way she described it.

From Heartsight, available March 1, 2011, at www.astraeapress.com

And don’t forget to check back on Tuesday for exciting news from Kim Bowman about her new release and a scavenger hunt with prizes!

For more six-sentence Sunday excerpts: http://sixsunday.blogspot.com/

Be the Character

If you want a realistic character, you have to be the character. You can fill out character worksheets, learn what makes your character tick. And one of the best ways I have found to do this is to answer the character questions as though you are the character and the questions are an interview.

But worksheets will take you only so far. If you want to write the character, you have to spend some time being the character, walking that virtual mile in his/her shoes.

Let me just take a moment to caution you here…if your character is a jewel thief or a shoplifter, or is into black magic, I am NOT suggesting you need to or even should do these things. In some instances for realistic characterization you are just going to have to be creative. If your character is the mother of a child who has just gone missing, I truly don’t recommend you start screaming, “Timmy! Where are you? Help! Someone took my child!” in the middle of a crowded mall. But you CAN spend time people watching in the mall, studying how parents watch (or don’t watch) their children, imaging which (innocent) person might be likely to kidnap a child. NOTE: Try not to act too suspicious here or they will think you are casing the joint and you might get more attention than you desire.

If your character is a bad boy who happens to love driving fast cars a little recklessly on winding mountain roads, you shouldn’t do that, either. But when you sit behind your own steering wheel, you don’t even need to start the car to put your hand on the gearshift and go back to your childhood, to the days when you liked to sit or stand behind the steering wheel of your parents’ car and “vroom, vroom.” Let your imagination take you on those winding mountain roads. Maybe your character enjoys the thrill of taking the curves too fast, of driving close to the edge, tempting the hand of fate, when one too-slow reflex might send him hurtling over a cliff. With your hand on the steering wheel of your safely parked car, send that writer’s imagination off to the mountains and think like your wild hero–how does he feel as he downshifts through the turns? Put your hand on the gearshift (make one up if you drive an automatic), visualize the road, feel it through the brake pedal, hear the wind through your window. See that turn up ahead? Will you make it? Do you care?

When you’re grocery shopping, something everyone does in one form or another, become your hero/heroine while you go through the store (another word of advice here–if your hero has a taste for anchovies and you hate them, don’t buy them unless you plan to make friends with the neighbor’s cat). You are your character, perhaps a little gritty around the edges, perhaps kind of a hermit. How do you respond to the crowd on a Saturday morning, with the screaming kids running everywhere, or the elderly people parking their carts in the middle of the aisle? Or that clueless bachelor thumping every watermelon and smelling every onion? Remember, you are the character…notice how you’re reacting to the stimuli around you.

On the road to home, can your character wait to get out of the city? How does it feel to have to follow the conventions of city driving when he longs for his reckless assault on the winding mountain roads?

Become your character as you clean your house or cook dinner. What does your character think about such things? Is he/she confident or awkward in the kitchen? Are you babysitting, or staying at home with the kids? Think in terms of how your character would react to the sudden encroachment on his turf of a kid. Be your character while you’re working, driving, having fun, standing in line at the Department of Motor Vehicles. What thoughts cross your mind?

You don’t have to (and shouldn’t) do anything extreme to get into your characters’ heads, but even as you carry out your daily activities, you can think in terms of your character. You don’t even have to (and probably won’t) use this research in specific passages of your writing (though people watching is a great way to learn descriptive writing). But your character will come to life as part of you, and when you write from his/her point of view, you will be amazed how easily your hero/heroine’s voice will pop up in your creative mind.

Winter on the Blue Ridge Parkway

If you’re a writer, tell me some creative ways you get in touch with your characters!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ablmbMwlS5A

www.astraeapress.com

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