Archive for August, 2010

Good Out of Bad

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010

Dear Author reports that editor Leah Hultenschmidt, formerly of Dorchester Publishing, is now with Sourcebooks, where she will acquire romance and young adult fiction. Good for her. That didn’t take very long.

Congratulations to both Leah and to Sourcebooks!

Peru, Day 14: Machu Picchu

Monday, August 30th, 2010

Finally, I’m back to posting about Peru! My apologies to those who were following my anecdotes and pictures only to get left hanging as soon as My Liege and I reached Machu Picchu. If you need a refresher, here’s a link to my last post on the subject. If you’d like to follow our travels from the beginning, check out the sidebar and then scroll dowwwwwwn, way dowwwwwwwwwwn (and I’ll call Rusty—sorry, Canadian childhood reference) to “Categories” and then click on “Peru 2010.” That will take you to the Archives for all the Peru posts. Or be lazy and click this link to get to the first Peru post.

For a quick primer on Machu Picchu, check out Wikipedia. I have so many piccies, I’m concentrating on those.

Above, an overview of the terraces and residential sections (minus roofs). See those triangle-shaped peaks? Thatched roofs went on top.

One of the coolest things about Machu Picchu is the fog that rolls and wisps around the site, literally almost like a live thing. It took my breath away. You can see it here just starting to creep in on the right.

The fog reminded me of a cat. Slinking in, then slinking out again. It moved fast!

The clouds and mist swooping over the panoramic view of Huayna Picchu, the biggest peak on the Machu Picchu site.

See what I mean? It was just surreal. One minute there, the next gone again.

The view from inside a bedroom for a very important person. I think it was for a princess, when she visited the sanctuary. Her bed was carved out of rock, and this was the view that greeted her when she woke in the morning.

Steve on the right by the "crappy" Inca wall, and our guide, Wilmington, on the left by the "good" Inca wall. Why such perfect construction on the left and not-as-stellar construction on the right? Because nobility and royalty either lived in the rooms walled in on the left, or the buildings were used for ceremonial purposes. The wall on the right was either "just" a wall or a wall for a building without ceremonial or religious purposes. In Machu Piccu, wall construction = status.

More excellent Inca construction, and an example of the thatched roofs (not an original roof, of course!)

In the mood for a little human sacrifice? Step inside!

Close-up of wall construction shown in previous photo. Isn't that crazy?

Baby Be Gone

Friday, August 27th, 2010

Y.S. turned twenty on Wednesday. Yesterday he flew to geology field school. E.S. and also Y.S.’s girlfriend accompanied me to the airport to see him off. I had a good cry in the bathroom beforehand. As soon as field school is finished, Y.S. starts his second year of university—but his first year away from home. He has a good head on his shoulders, so I’m not worried about him. Much. And I’ll see him in a few weeks when my husband and I drive his stuff up and move him into residence. But my baby is still gone. Empty nest redux around here for the next couple of weeks, I’m sure.

As E.S. points out, at least I have him again! For another year. I call him The Stomach now. Our grocery bill dropped substantially when he was gone.

Those who have been following my Peru posts, I’ll get back to them next week. Finally! I know I left you hanging at the entrance to Machu Picchu, which was definitely the highlight of our trip. But life and deadlines intervened.

They Saved the Best for Last?

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

I’ve gotta spin this some way.

A couple of days ago I found out that the Five Star Expressions hardcover library line, to which I sold my contemporary romance, WHERE SHE BELONGS, will cease publication after December 2011. That’s when WHERE SHE BELONGS is coming out. Five Star/Tekno is still acquiring manuscripts for their Mystery line, but women’s fiction and romance, which had a home in Expressions, is no more. I was very sad to hear this news. My first sale to the line, and I had hopes for more sales. I really enjoyed working with my editor. She really went above-board for me. For one thing, my submission came about as a result of a conversation on the Novelists, Inc. email loop. My editor contacted me and said when I was ready to submit to Five Star/Cengage, she wanted to see the manuscript. I hadn’t planned on submitting in February. I wasn’t going to submit until after I finished revisions on a single title. But as soon as I heard that she wanted to see my book, I dropped those revisions faster than a flat potato pancake. I polished WHERE SHE BELONGS until it shone, working my way through a dead computer and a new Dell that wouldn’t see delivery for two weeks. Just a couple of weeks ago, we worked on the edits. My manuscript went “into production,” and I expected the next news to be that my cover art had arrived or that proofs needed looking at.

Those will still occur. As far as I know at this point, WHERE SHE BELONGS is still in the queue to be published. I know of at least one other December 2011 Expressions author, Stacey Coverstone. She and I, I believe, will be the last Expressions authors.

I have no idea what this means for my print run, distribution, or how quickly the book will go out of print. At this point, especially in light of everything that’s happening at Dorchester (including the recent axing of two editors), I’m counting myself lucky that my story will see print at all. Working on this book again made me realize how much I love it. It’s a “book of my heart.”

You know what this means, don’t you? When I say, at some point in 2011, that the book is available for pre-order, tell everyone you know to pre-order the heck out of the thing. When I announce, in December 2011, that the book is available, buy it right away. Help me help the Five Star Expressions line go out with a bang.

Strangely, I’m not depressed. I’m sad, but I’m not down and out. I’ve become so accustomed to looking forward in this industry, I’m not sure I even know how to look backward anymore. I’ll dust myself off and move on to the next opportunity. A little sad at the news, but a whole lot glad that I had a chance to become part of the Five Star/Cengage family.

Writing Tortured/Tormented Heroes

Tuesday, August 24th, 2010

By Jeanmarie Hamilton

In romance, the tortured hero, or probably more accurately, the tormented hero, provides a main character with a dark, and possibly mysterious past. He may also have a physical problem, or in the case of werewolves and other shape shifters, an other-worldly characteristic, as in MOONLIGHT DESPERADO.

We want to know how in the world he deals with his challenges, how the heroine responds to him and his actions, and how the story problem is resolved at the end with a happily ever after ending. 

At the start of the story, he has shown us at least one good quality, and his dark moods and sometimes harsh words for the heroine don’t fool us. Deep down, he’s a good guy with big problems to overcome.

What drives him? His problems usually stem from something that happened to him in the past. Most of the torment for the hero is mental and emotional. His past keeps him from enjoying the life and love others around him seem to have.

What happened to him? We readers, and writers, want to know. How will he overcome his past that’s still tormenting him? How will the heroine save him, or prove to him that he’s worthy of love and can love her?

What conflict keeps the hero and heroine apart? Usually a tortured/tormented hero doesn’t feel anywhere near worthy of the heroine. The hero’s torment will influence his life on many levels including decisions he makes regarding his behavior toward the heroine, and what he mistakenly believes is “best” for her.

He wants to protect her. He pushes her away for that very reason, to protect her. She deserves the best, which he isn’t in his eyes. He doesn’t believe he deserves her.

The hero fights his demons but doesn‘t believe he can conquer them. The reader hopes he will be successful and the heroine will win her man. Why? When the characters reach success, it makes us feel good and maybe even gives us a sense of everything is possible if we try.

The tortured hero provides the writer and reader escape from daily routines of life, like washing the laundry. (Mine is in the dryer now.) Characters sparring with each other may have you gripping your book, asking the question, “Will they find happiness together?”

The escape for many readers takes the emotional form of angst which is eventually eased with that sense of  success and emotional relief.

When the tortured hero makes the decision to leave the heroine in order to protect her, the heroine will fight against all odds, no matter what they face, to bring the hero back to her side where he belongs.   

The tortured hero drives the journey toward success, for both the hero and heroine, and makes for an edge of your seat emotional experience with an awesome conclusion.

What is your take on tortured heroes? Or heroines? Have you written one recently? Are they your favorite read?


Please leave a comment to enter to win MOONLIGHT DESPERADO. If you’re reading this blog through a feed at Facebook, Goodreads or another social network, please note you need to leave your comment at to enter.

To read the back cover blurb for MOONLIGHT DESPERADO or to read Jeanmarie’s bio, see yesterday’s post. Visit to learn more about Jeanmarie and her books.

Jeanmarie Hamilton Guest Blogs Tomorrow!

Monday, August 23rd, 2010

Tomorrow please join me in welcoming paranormal historical romance author Jeanmarie Hamiltonto the blog. Jeanmarie is blogging about Writing Tormented Heroes and will give away an ebook copy of MOONLIGHT DESPERADO, her December 2009 novella from Siren-Bookstrand Publishing.


In post Civil War Texas, Mary Ann Beauclere is trapped by raiders demanding bedding and food. Though she’s outraged when Captain Craig Wolfe steals a kiss, and more, in front of the men, she follows orders, desperate to protect her little sisters asleep upstairs. But when Captain Wolfe helps her, she softens toward the desperado, accepting his kisses as she’s drawn to him like no other.

Admiring Mary Ann’s courage, Confederate spy Captain Craig Wolfe recognizes her as his life mate. But when he claims her as his mate, secret identities and a vicious pack member threaten their lives and their future. Will Captain Wolfe have to spend his life without his mate?

About Jeanmarie:

Jeanmarie Hamilton is an award winning author of western historical and shape-shifter romance. She was a finalist in the RWA Southern Heat Chapter Contest (2nd place Historical), and the 2005 American Title Contest for historical romance for her western, Seduction. With a contemporary shape-shifter story, Moonlight Guard, she was also a finalist in the RWA 2006 Gothic Chapter Contest, (2nd place contemporary paranormal), and the 2007 RWA Dixie First Chapter Contest (3rd place, paranormal). “A couple of my historicals were inspired by my Texas ancestors’ history, their daily lives and the life threatening incidents they faced in the late 1800s.”

Also writing erotic romance as Jenette DuPris, Jeanmarie’s stories have received top ratings in reviews. When not writing, she enjoys oil painting, walks in the desert foothills, gardening, her family and pets, romantic movies, and reading a gripping story.

To learn more about Jeanmarie and her books, please visit her website.

“Just”ified…Or Not

Thursday, August 19th, 2010

No, I’m not blogging about a TV show. I’m celebrating finishing my edits for WHERE SHE BELONGS (Five Star Expressions, Dec. 2011). A few things I learned through the editing process:

  • My characters smile and laugh and chuckle too much in this manuscript. I could not see this until my editor pointed it out. She axed a bunch of smiles, and I axed more after axing hers.
  • I overuse ellipses…and why not? I love ellipses! But my Five Star/Cengage editor isn’t the first editor to point out my overuse of the dot-dot-dot. Penny’s last editor for Red Sage Secrets caught me on it, too. To me, ellipses are a stylistic technique, but I can see how too many ellipses can…slow down the pacing (I had to think about that, thus the ellipses). I don’t think I STET’ed any ellipses that my editor took out (she replaced them with commas or dashes). My problem is, I need the editorial eye to point out which ellipses should stay and which should go. I’m too close to the characters and the story. Because I know I’m too close to the story, I didn’t “accept all changes” (using Track Changes in Word) and then read the manuscript to see what screamed “Clunk!” Instead, I went through each and every change, a learning experience.
  • I overuse italics…and why not? I love my italics! I love my italics sooooooo much! I love my freaking italics! I do know I’m not alone in overusing italics. You see, Penny’s last Red Sage Secrets editor caught me on them, too, but assured me that I overuse italics less than other authors. So there. That my Five Star/Cengage editor and my Secrets editor both caught me on my two biggest faux pas…I realized something. They both must be right! So, yes, alack, alas, amiss, I agreed with 95% of my Five Star/Cengage editor’s corrections.
  • I overuse “then.” This is the first editor who’s ever pointed that out to me, so maybe it’s a stylistic/house thing. You know, those sentences, “I did this, and then I did that.” Or “I did this, this, then that happened.” My Five Star/Cengage editor prefers another “and” to “then.” Or starting a new sentence. Okie-doke, I’m easy-peasy.

Other than that, I rocked! No revisions, just the edits. I was pretty happy.

After going through my editor’s edits, though, I couldn’t help but notice other things popping out at me that I’d never noticed before with this manuscript. So I went ahead and fixed them.

  • I overuse “just.” I’d love to justify my overuse of “just,” but I’m afraid I…I just can’t. I took out all the extraneous justs and just left the ones that just had to be there.
  • I gave two extremely minor characters, one who isn’t even seen on the page, similar names—Ellen and Elaine. I did not see this before re-reading the manuscript five times in one week. So Elaine is now Louisa.

Realizing that I’m too close to my manuscripts is a reason I’m hesitant to go the self-Kindle/”indie” route at this point in time. If I ever did go that route, I’d want to hire a copy editor to go over my manuscript first. We think we’ve caught every error, we think our critique partners or beta readers might point out overuse-age, etc., but, frankly, critique partners and beta readers, IMO, should read more for story. A good editor who has never looked at the manuscript before, who hasn’t brainstormed story elements with you, is the person who will catch little ditties like my Five Star/Cengage editor caught for me. Plus, that she liked the story feels great. I’d love to work with her again.

What are your editing bugaboos?

Adventures of the Sleep Deprived

Monday, August 16th, 2010

I’ve struggled with bouts of insomnia since my early twenties while I was at university. It’s not unusual in my family. Two sisters and my mom suffer from it. I think my grandmother suffered, too. After awhile, you get used to it. I learned over the years that my insomnia is usually hormone-related. And now that I’m, um, approaching a certain stage in life, it’s getting worse. Whereas before I could generally predict when I’d have insomnia, now it’s a bit trickier.

In the spring, I mentioned my lack of sleep to my M.D. He gave me a prescription that, quite against his intentions, made me stay awake even more than normal—I just felt this weird brain buzz while I was awake. So I went on my merry (sometimes not-so-merry) sleep deprived way, bought a face mask for my trip to Peru with My Liege and ordered some most excellent ear plugs off the Internet (sometimes the dh, um, mildly snores). In Peru I was so exhausted from hiking and jet lag that I didn’t have much trouble sleeping, but when I came home the problem began again. I went back to my doctor. He prescribed something different. I asked if I could take just half a pill instead of a full one if I wanted. He said, “By all means.” My idea was to take as little of the sleeping aid as possible.

So I tried out the new pill. Half a pill. It worked well! No staying awake all night with a weird brain buzz. Now, some nights, I take a whole pill, other nights half a pill, other nights no pill at all. But I’ve discovered I simply can not do without the ear plugs. I’m such a light sleeper that I need “de-sensitization,” is the only way I can describe it. The sleep mask can also help in this regard, especially when the moon is shining through the blinds or it’s a time of year when the sun rises far too early (my dh always rises far too early—5:30 a.m. is a late start for him).

So, Sunday night I went to see Eat, Pray, Love with Claudia, her mom and sister, and a bunch of other women. Enjoyed the movie immensely. Although I thought the Julia Roberts character was a little slow in learning her lessons. I guess you could say I’m not much of a searcher, so I lose patience with searchers. When I came home, I was nicely worn out and thinking about dropping off at 9:30. Then My Liege retired early, and I got suckered into watching my recordings of Mad Men and Rubicon. I knew then I might be in trouble. If I’m tired at 9:30 p.m., the worst thing I can do is not listen to my body but instead watch TV until 11:45 p.m. But I couldn’t resist Mad Men, and so I set myself up for a bad sleep night.

I figured, hormonally, it was a night for an entire sleeping pill. So I got ready for bed, put in my ear plugs, and swallowed that little white capsule of mercy. And did not sleep a wink. Then I realized it was an ear plugs + entire pill + sleep mask night. But I could not find my sleep mask! My Liege was snoring softly beside me at this point. He’s a very deep sleeper. It’s not wise to wake him up, because he might mistake you for a Great War sniper and strangle you. I keep my sleep mask with my ear plugs in the top drawer of my night stand, which also holds the “top level” of my To Be Read pile. So there I am rummaging about in the drawer, getting up and going to the en suite in case I’d left the sleep mask in there, stressing about taking another 1/2 a pill to make up for lack of sleep mask, and realizing TV + my hormones = dangerous mix. I did succumb to another 1/2 pill, which I’ve never done before. But I was getting desperate! I hate taking “extra,” because then all I can think of until I fall asleep is Michael Jackson and his “milk” or Heath Ledger. You know how these things go. The pills weren’t working, which meant I NEEDED MY DAMN SLEEP MASK. I NEEDED MY DAMN SLEEP MASK NOW!!!

I realized I must have knocked the sleep mask off my head and under the bed the last time I used it. But I rummaged through the holes in our headboard to the floor beneath the bed and could not find the mask! I rummaged, all in the dead of dark, in my night stand drawer, took out every pair in my huge collection of ear plugs and placed them on the floor, took out all the books in the night stand and placed THEM on the floor—all to no avail. Meanwhile, My Liege continued snoring softly, oblivious.

At this point, I realized I had no choice. I had to find a flashlight. So I crept into the kitchen, found my tiny flashlight, realized the kids had left the lights on in the basement and didn’t lock the door, which had come partway open, leaving us vulnerable to thieves and killer bees (see? there was a reason for my insomnia!), so I closed and locked it. Checked the mini-flashlight to make sure it worked, flashed on the beam, then covered it with my hand while I crept back into the bedroom. I would not wake My Liege! Not I!

I did not trip on the ear plug collection, crafty of the tiptoeing was I. I got on my knees and shone the beam under the bed. THERE IT WAS! My sleep mask. Of course, in the middle of the floor thankfully against the wall beneath the king-sized bed. I could not believe that I was rummaging around like this with a flashlight and still my husband slept soundly. I could have robbed him blind (but tiptoe outside the bedroom window, and he’s up in a snap—I didn’t wake him because he trusts me implicitly, awwwww). I couldn’t reach the sleep mask by stretching under the bed, so I had to get back onto the mattress and flash the light down behind the headboard…right beside my husband. THERE IT WAS!! My sleep mask! I stretched and stretched and stretched—and then I reached it. Huge sigh of relief.

It’s only a crappy little travel sleep mask I bought on the spur of the moment for Peru. But as soon as I put it on (well, it was 2 a.m. by this point), the sleeping pills kicked in and I sacked out until 7:30 a.m., 90 minutes past my usual wake up these days.

Now it’s 8:15 p.m. Monday night, and I’ve learned my lesson. I’m posting this blog, HOPING that writing it hasn’t spun my brain into overdrive again like watching Mad Men and Rubicon did, and I’m hightailing it to bed.


Dorchester Dropping Mass Market Books

Wednesday, August 11th, 2010

If you’re a romance writer and at all savvy in the ways of the ‘Net and keeping up with news of the industry, you know about Dorchester’s announcement to drop its mass market publishing program in favor of ebooks with eventual trade publication down the line. Or something like that. I’m in the midst of edits for my December 2011 Five Star Expressions release, and while I’ve been following the talk throughout the weekend, I haven’t had time to pay the attention to it that I’d like. What I do know is that I have friends who write for Dorchester, and I feel for them. I hear even the editorial staff was surprised by Dorchester’s decision. But Dorchester has fallen on hard times, and at least the company is trying to do something about it. Whether how they’re going about it will make authors happy remains to be seen. If Dorchester is abandoning the mass market publishing model, does that mean they’ll also abandon advances and offer higher royalties instead? I don’t know. I figure the people who are more likely to discover these things are the people, the writers, who have a vested interest in them. IE. Dorchester authors. And so I’ll hand you over to the likes of Anna DeStefano, a Dorchester author who is blogging about the changes at Dorchester on her blog as she experiences them. She’s doing a great job. The link I just provided will take you to the first in Anna’s articles on the subject.

I admire several Dorchester authors, and I have bought several Dorchester books. In fact, on Friday, just before I heard that the rumor bandied about on Twitter was in fact not a rumor, I received notification from my favorite on-line bookstore that a Dorchester novel I’d ordered was on its way in the mail to me. I expect to receive it this week. And I really want to read it (Book 4 in Gemma Halliday’s High Heel Mysteries series). But maybe I should wrap it in plastic and store it away instead—as one of the last mass market paperbacks Dorchester might ever print.

Who am I kidding? I’ll read it. I love Gemma’s writing.

I’m an epublished author (or “digital author,” if that’s your preference). (“Digital author” makes me think of  little Jack Horner sticking his fingers into a pie, I must say). “Digital first,” as some larger publishers are now calling themselves. That means ebook first, then trade paperback somewhere down the line, whether it’s a month later with the trades printed with Print on Demand technology (basically no warehousing involved) (by the way, this was how my first two cindypks were published with Amber Quill), or digital release (there’s the finger popping out of the pie!) with the trades releasing several months down the line (like Samhain and others; I only mention Samhain because they have a great reputation and I know several of their authors, so I’m familiar that they indeed do publish their ebooks in print several months down the line). Some publishers use POD technology for the trade paperbacks, and others run small print runs.

Okay, so I’m an epublished author, we’ve established that. Why does hearing that Dorchester is dropping mass market sadden me? Because, to me, “mass market” (meaning a printing format) = distribution. And distribution = a greater chance at sales. A greater chance at earning an income beyond what I fondly term The King Family Kraft Dinner Fund. I know a lot of people who pretty much only buy their books in mass market format—at the grocery store, maybe once in a blue moon through a trip to a bookstore. I don’t know many people who order books on-line (I do, because I don’t have to leave the house and I order enough to qualify for free shipping in one go), I don’t know anyone outside of some American writer friends who owns an e-reader or plans to buy one. Yes, this will change as the publishing industry changes. I don’t even own an e-reader yet, but have plans to buy one next year (must wait for a good reason, like a birthday, and my most recent birthday was in January). Yes, as an epublished author who first ventured into the arena ten years ago (I signed my first epublishing contract in 1999 or 2000, but then cancelled it before the book came out because I’d learned some not-so-good things about the company), I’ve been hopeful and waiting for the time when e-readers would come down in price and the public would begin to embrace ebooks. But I didn’t envision that happening at the expense of other publishing models, like mass market. And that, honestly, isn’t what’s happened. The recession in the U.S. has played a major part. I WANT the public to embrace digital publishing, but I don’t like seeing any format disappear. Certainly not a format to which I aspire to publish my books. I’m sad for new authors who recently sold to Dorchester and thought they’d finally achieved their dream of mass market publication, only to discover that all the bucks they’d spent on promotion, etc., might be for naught, because Dorchester’s entire (now trade) print publishing schedule is being pushed back. I feel for authors who have 3 or 4 books out in a series in mass market who are facing the last book in the series getting published “digital first.” Will their mass market readers follow them? If those readers don’t follow them, what will that mean for those authors’ careers? I feel sad for readers who can’t afford e-readers and don’t use credit cards (I know such people), which are useful little items for ordering things on-line. I think, as the industry changes, readers as well as writers will get caught in the crunch. We are living in exciting times…as long as you aren’t personally affected by it. We’re living in exciting publishing times…you know, when you look back on it fifty years hence and can think, Hey, wasn’t that kind of like when the whole Gutenburg thing happened? And I was part of it. Cool. But right now, the times, they are uncertain. Authors careers, they are uncertain. If you are a reader and you have a favorite author, the best thing you can do for them is support them and buy their books new. Not from a used book store and, for heaven’s sake, not by downloading “free” ebooks from a pirate site. Those “free” ebooks are illegal copies and authors don’t earn one penny from those downloads. Authors don’t earn money from non-existent “sales.” If authors don’t earn money, publishers might axe them—because publishing is a business and businesses like to make money. If publishers don’t earn money, then they might drop entire publishing programs. And if you like to buy your books from the grocery store, then that WILL impact you.

Okay, I’m rambling. I’ll admit it. Time to stop. I don’t know if anything I’ve said here makes sense. The publishing industry is changing, not all of it for the good, and as an author I need to learn as much as I can about those changes. And I need to adapt and change along with them. Which I intend to do. But first I have to honor my contract and get those edits in under deadline. Because I’m a writer, and that’s the way we roll.


UPDATE! Dorchester now has some information about the transition to their new publishing program on their website.


Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

By Kris Kennedy

The thing that can’t be undone. Ringing the bell that can’t be unrung. It means you’re committed. In for the long haul. The act, however unconsidered it was at the start, is now binding.

I believe this is one of the things we seek in our stories. Oh, it’s among other things, of course. But one of the reasons great fiction moves us is because we see characters doing things that we ourselves often back away from: being irrevocable. Doing the thing that can’t be undone.

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

It’s part of the reason why the characters in novels don’t do the mundane tasks of their lives on stage. Things like cleaning the house don’t matter, in terms of Story. (Did you hear that? Just tell your family cleaning the toilet doesn’t have a fundamental turning point within, so you’re giving it up.) Most of the 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 make a difference.

(In fact, cleaning is the the antithesis of irrevocable. At least in my house.)

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. Diamond rings don’t grow in toilet bowls, so that means someone lost it. Or tossed it. And you found it. And your rent is a month overdue.

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. Or a heroine.

In all our ‘keeper’ books, one of the things we generally 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 like our heroes and heroines. We know their histories, their full potential and their pathetic pitfalls. We love them. Or at least really like them.

In any event, we want them to have a happy life. We don’t want them to be thrown to the wolves. To feel despair. To have Dark Nights of the Soul. To say ‘no’ when it’d be safer to say ‘okay, fine.’ To walk the plank. To face the witch in her very own castle, surrounded by guards, with nothing but a scarecrow to protect them.

But we’ll do it.

For you, the reader.

Because in the end, we’re storytellers. We know heroes and heroines have to walk through the fire. Happy, easy things happening to nice, good people, all of which can be taken back at the first sign of discomfort, is not drama.

Drama means conflict. And that means being committed. Doing, at least once, something that cannot be undone, ever.

Check out the books on your ‘keeper’ shelves. I’ll bet you can find at places the characters made 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 own worst fears. Right in the other person’s arms.

Come share a moment of irrevocable choice in a book you’re reading or have read. A classic or an unknown. And to the writers out there, how about from a story you’re writing? Why does that moment feel powerful to you, as the reader? What is irrevocably different after that choice, and why do you think it makes the story better?

Or, if you could re-write a scene from a story you’ve read, to include an irrevocable choice, what would it be? Something they can’t take back, and will change everything to come after.

I’m giving away a copy of my latest release, THE IRISH WARRIOR, to someone who gives a great example of irrevocability in romance fiction!!


Please leave a comment to enter to win THE IRISH WARRIOR. If you’re reading this blog through a feed at Facebook, Goodreads or another social network, please note you need to leave your comment at to enter.