Tribute to Love

What is love to you? Do you define it by the tender moments? Or the fun? Is it knowing someone is always there to give you support? Is it holding on or letting go? Is it the undying loyalty of a best friend? The embrace of the years? The innocent smile of a child?

Can it be a faithful companion who would do anything to make you smile? Even share a dog biscuit? Does love give comfort in the storm?

Does love heal all hurt? Or is love at the root of the pain?

I love all of you, whether you’re pictured  on this page or not. You all know who you are.

Lifeline Echoes on Six Sentence Sunday

As they turned onto the long driveway to the ranch, the sun burst through the window, and shards of rainbow-colored light danced over them both. Sandy gently captured the source of the prismatic effect, a tiny crystal angel dangling from the rearview mirror by a pale blue cord.

“Pretty.ʺ She glanced at Ryan to check his reaction, arching an eyebrow when he studiously showed none. She released the angel. “And a little . . . unexpected.ʺ

See the Lifeline Echoes trailer here.

Available at:

Astraea Press

as well as Amazon and  Barnes & Noble

Thank you for visiting. See more Six Sentence Sunday offerings here.

Six Sentence Sunday

This week’s entry is from Hidden Echoes – current wip, and third in the Echoes of Orson’s Folly series. Watch for the first of the three, Lifeline Echoes, scheduled for release in early April 2011.

 

“I know this sounds lame, but you really do look familiar.”

“Outstanding line. You must never want for a date.” Ren sighed with exasperation, and wondered what it was about the words I’m in a hurry this man simply did not get. “I work here, so maybe you’ve seen me around. Now, if you don’t mind, please move your compensatory truck so I can leave.

Check here for more Six Second Sunday fun: http://sixsunday.blogspot.com/

Purchase Heartsight from this link and generate a donation to the USO Wounded Warrior Program, now until June 1, 2011.

http://www.astraeapress.com/#ecwid:category=662249&mode=product&product=2626233

 

 

Hippity Hop to the Head Shop

WHOSE HEAD AM I IN???

What does point of view mean? If you’re a writer you have probably at some point in your life seen your editor question your POV. Simply put, this is the perspective from which the story is currently being told. A large trend these days is to tell stories from the third person-limited point of view. This means the story is written as though being observed by an outside party, but with the added ability of the narrator to tell the thoughts and feelings of the main characters, usually two per story, and one at a time. Good-sized chunks of the story are told through the eyes, or point of view, of each of the main characters. The chunks don’t have to alternate, and sometimes they don’t, but generally each character’s points of view should end up approximately equal at the end of the book for a more balanced read.

The focus of POV for each chunk is usually chosen for which character will show the scene in the strongest light. Who is going to have the greatest impact on that particular part of the story being told? Which character has the most investment in that scene? For instance, if a woman is waiting to see if she’s pregnant, that scene will probably be hers. However, if her husband is waiting with her and he’s got a significant stake in the outcome, for instance if he has a fertility-robbing type of cancer, or if he knows he has Parkinson disease (which is a genetically transmitted disorder, which he could pass to the child), his stake might be slightly higher and the emotional impact greater if the scene were shown through his eyes. Or if the writer wants to keep his thoughts about these things secret, it would be shown through the heroine’s eyes with no explanation given about any negative reaction (that builds tension and is a whole other subject to post).

Once the POV is chosen, it should be an easy thing to simply tell the story from that character’s perspective, right? Not so much as you might think. For some reason, we writers like flashing eyes, whiskey-honey voices, luscious red lips, and sexy swaying walks. All of these are fine if the character relating these can actually see, hear, feel, and THINK about them.

However, when we are being shown the story through the heroine’s eyes and she says something to the hero using her best sexy voice, he may hear it as a whiskey-honey voice, but she wouldn’t necessarily think of it — or describe it — in those terms. Reading and writing from a specific point of view means we must think like that character. Would you see your own eyes flash in anger? Assuming you don’t chronically look at your reflection when you’re mad at the hero, probably not. Would you think of the way you talk as sounding like honey? Even if you knew you had just put on your best blazing red lipstick, would you think of your own lips as luscious and red?

Successfully writing in from one POV or the other, without hopping to the next head mid-scene is a matter of paying strict attention to what the character would logically see, hear, feel, taste, smell, and think. If we are in “her” head, it’s highly unlikely that she will know how entrancing “he” finds the wind lifting a tendril of her hair (unless he speaks the thought out loud). From her POV, the tendril isn’t some sexy reminder of how soft her hair is or how glorious it looks when it spills about her shoulders; it is an irritating piece of hair that keeps getting caught on her hoop earring. When we are in “his” head, he isn’t going to be thinking in terms of his flexing muscles or the way his behind fills out his jeans. He’s going to grunt when he picks up something heavy and wonder if the jeans are going to hold or split up the middle when he bends over to lift the tire onto the car.

One way I’ve found to keep the POV straight is to put myself into the character as I’m writing. Inside the POV, the character sees (everything but himself), feels, smells, tastes, hears, thinks (but in a specific way ABOUT him/herself), acts, reacts, and speaks. The non-POV character can only be shown acting or reacting, and speaking. By remembering the limits of the scene’s secondary character, we can police our work and edit out things the POV character in that scene cannot possibly know or see, etc.

The trick is to realize that even one tiny word can signal a POV shift into the other character’s head. Think about the following several lines and try to figure out if they are being shown from the main pov or could be the secondary character.

1.  “I’m the medical examiner. I’ll nail you to the wall.” She snapped her latex glove into place with a knowing smile.

Her POV or someone else’s?

2.  She secured her hair with a pony tail, gasping at the pinch from the elastic band on her fingers.

Hers? Or from the outside?

3.  He ran a hand through his sun-kissed hair.

His? Or not?

4.  It was obvious she didn’t believe him, and he wondered why he kept trying.

His or hers?

What do you think? Go ahead and answer in the comments below.

Heartsight, available now at http://www.astraeapress.com/#ecwid:category=662249&mode=product&product=2626233

For every purchase of Heartsight at the Astraea Press website, $2 will be donated to the USO Wounded Warriors Program until June 1.

Watch for a special announcement about Lifeline Echoes, coming from Astraea Press in April 2011.

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/

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

facebook.com/pages/Kay-Springsteen-Author-of-Romance/143469035711422

A Place in the World

Have you ever felt out of place? Most people have at one time or another. An awkward social situation, a feeling of just not belonging. Can you imagine feeling that way about your entire life? What if everything you ever worked for was suddenly ripped away? What if the pages of your life were no longer already written but were suddenly blank and you had no way to fill them?

My hero in Heartsight was born into a family of Marines. His entire life was geared toward serving in the USMC.  But a tragic incident in Afghanistan robs him of his sight. Not so much call for a wounded warrior, let alone one who can no longer see. This story is 100% fiction, but, like most stories, it imitates real life. War injuries happen.

available March 2011 from astraeapress.com

I can think of no more painful outcome to serving our country than for those who were wounded to be forgotten, to feel that because they may be missing limbs, or not have the ability to walk, or see, or carry out business in the way non-injured people do, they have no productive place in the world. All persons have value and worth, something to contribute to the world. Sometimes it just takes a little push to find our purpose.

If you’re a vet or you know a vet who needs a hand, please reach out. The help is there. If you can offer a hand, please show our vets that you care.

http://www.bnwest.woundedwarriorregiment.org/

http://www.militaryonesource.com/MOS/MarineCorps.aspx?MRole=Family&Branch=MarineCorps&Component=Active

http://www.uso.org/

*****

http://www.astraeapress.com/