Thursday, 7 December 2017

The Heroine Factor

Another favourite from 2006 was one I did on heroines. Are they strong or just a raging bitch?


Bitch: n. a spiteful woman • an unpleasant or difficult thing

Strength: n. the quality of being strong; the intensity of this • a source of strength; the particular respect in which a person or thing is strong

So...your heroine is strong. She's tough. She can kick ass be it fighting vampires, the justice system, or that bastard ex of hers. She's got grit, she's got moxy, she's got sass. Then why oh why is she a bitch?

Every time she opens her mouth toxic ooze flows out so that I'm wondering why the hero is salivating for more of her. Every time she does something she hurts someone - and it's intentional. Every time she turns away, someone's got a knife sticking out of their back and her prints are on the grip. This, to me, seems to be happening more and more in books I read and it's making me bitchy.

Being tough is no excuse to be mean.

And yet more and more I'm reading about mean heroines. Heroines who say they're doing something for the greater good but really, they're just evil wenches. I just finished reading a book. I'm pretty sure I was supposed to sympathize with the heroine. She had a horrific childhood, her marriage was in the pooper but the methods she went through to get out of her marriage and to supposedly save her child were, well, crap. She set the hero up. She never emotionally connected with her child because of her childhood. Did you catch that? She set the hero up. Again and again. How the hell is this heroic? I shut the book and felt ill that this heroine was out there in the world. All I could think was "Wow, the heroine is a sociopath." Nice thought to have. When logic didn't work, she rubbed her breasts over the hero, teased his fly then sulked when he basically said "Uh...wtf?" Then she became devious, drawing him deep into her web of deceit.

You. Were. The. Heroine.

A cold, abrassive heroine isn't strong. She isn't tough. A woman who can drop the f-bomb like bullets sprayed from a machine gun isn't brave. A woman who can gleefully shoot up the bad guys is not tough.

So...what makes a heroine strong? Her motivation. Motivation, motivation, motivation. It's the why behind everything. I don't care if she's got two six-shooters strapped to her thighs unless I know whythey're strapped there. Why does she need to do what she did. A horrific childhood is not good enough for me. Sorry, toots, that's just not good enough. When I read the scene, I think I was supposed to be horrified. I wasn't. Why?

Emotional connection. The thin thread of humanity that stretches from the words to my heart so that every time something happens to her or she does something the thread goings "ping" sending a painful jolt to my heart. And this heroine had no humanity. Even the heroine said it. She was empty on the inside. At the end she was still hollow on the inside. How do you get emotional connection?

Motivation, motivation, motivation. Why am I going to root for her? Okay, her childhood was horrific (kidnapped by a pedophile) but if she only felt remorse that she felt nothing towards her child I would have been happy. One little drop of "I feel nothing for this child and it breaks my heart" and I would have rooted for her. Instead she'd think "I feel nothing for my child" and go get a manicure. Not once did she seek help to help her connect with her child. Nope...she went to the spa for a massage. Then at the end she says "I would do whatever it takes to protect my child. Whatever!!" (Summarized) and all I thought was bullshit. Not once through the book do you see the heroine gazing down at her son wishing/hoping to feel something. Nope. In truth, you don't see a lot of this kid. I kind of forgot he existed until the writer reminded me.

Strong means enduring through the crap life has dealt your because she has one teeny, tiny drop of hope that it will work out. Even if she doesn't know it's there...it's there. Maybe the hero sees it.

Mattie Adamson in Scorpio is tough. Let's face it...she's an assassin. She pulls the trigger and walks away. Does she feel remorse? Does she regret? Does she think "I'm becoming the monsters I hunt"? Of course she does. If she didn't I'd be writing about a sociopathic heroine and who the hell wants that? She'd be incapable of loving Max, his mother and his daughter. She'd be comfortable with the dark shadows that live in her, but she isn't. That side scares her. What she does...scares her. But when Bree (Max's daughter) is kidnapped, what does Mattie do? She goes after her. Why? Because it's her job? Because's she's happily boffing Max? No. She goes after Bree because there's a faint, tiny glimmer of hope within her that she's lovable despite her penchant for killing scum through her crosshairs, that she's lovable despite the crap life has dealt her. That is what makes her strong. Not that she can shoot a guy in cold blood.

A strong heroine isn't about who has the most guns or who can spit the furthest. A strong heroine is one who refuses to lie down. She gets up, dusts off the crap and forges forward. Strength comes from within.

When reading the next strong heroine you like, pause. Why? Why do you like this woman? Then when you're penning your strong heroine - pause. Ask yourself this: is she truly strong or is she just a massive bitch? If you don't know...odds are she's bitchy. Ask yourself: if she's strong...why? Because she can stand up for herself or because she can stand up for those who can't?

She's the heroine - she better damn well act like it.

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

2017 In Retrospect

December's IWSG question is: As you look back on 2017, with all its successes/failures, if you could backtrack, what would you do differently?

This is a toughie because it's the same as every year's look back. I wish I had gotten more books written. The only book released this year was Her Surrender. I was going to have the second book in the series out by, well, now but I got sidetracked by a flop of NaNoWriMo. What I should've done, in retrospect, was just finished Surrender to Him THEN focus on an upcoming project.

Instead I let myself be distracted by shiny objects, the decision to go back to school (yes...yes I am.), and what happened? Nothing got written. Not S2H and not the next WIP.

Nothing happened.

I have three dry erase wall calendars decorating my wall and for a while I adhered to it until...shiny! shiny objects! then it all went to shit.

At my RWA chapter meeting we established goals for next year, others discussed if they met their goals over '17 and what our career successes were.

This is my retrospect of 2017: I re-released Scoring Lacey, I rejoined my writing chapter (third time's a charm), within weeks I applied for RWA PAN, and received a 5 Book pin. Her Surrender was released under a different pseudonym and within six months I'd kill off that name (second pseudonym assassination) and re-release HS. 3 books were covertly put into print: Sarah Mine, Yield and Her Surrender, and I decided to hit up one of the universities for some Continuing Education and then...

My momentum stalled because shiny...shiny!

2018 I have given myself to publish 3 books. I had hoped to attend the major RWA conference but that's unlikely because moola is tight...it's why I'm going back to school.

You know...in retrospect...my 2017 was pretty freakin' amazing. But it would be pretty sweet if 2018 was even more awesome. There's a 10 book button out there with my name on it...time to start going for it.


What is the Insecure Writer's Support Group? ISWG is a community for writers to share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Friday, 24 November 2017

The First

Every writer has a beginning. That first story that sent them on their way. This is the first page of my first book and no lie....it's terrible. I wrote it in the summer of 1992, when one of my best friends came to visit from Kingston, ON. We tossed an air mattress on the front lawn of my childhood home. She tackled her story and I tackled...mine.

It's historical. Why? Because at the time those were the only romances I had read (list provided by said childhood bestie). It's terrible. Why? I was 19 and knew NOTHING. But for all it's horribleness and purple prose, I love this story. Because it was the first and you always remember (though hazily) your first. I say first page because it was handwritten....wait for it...in purple pen. Which goes beautifully with my purple prose.

Brace yourselves for this is...(wait for this terrible title - I'm sure it means something but for the life of me I can't remember what. And I apologize for the first paragraph. It's...yeah...)

Tell Me A Story.

Chapter One

1382 (because if you're going to go historical go to a time you know nothing about, which was pretty much any time before I existed.)

The breeze danced across the field. The assorted flowers gently swayed as the wind lightly kissed them. The rising sun glistened off the dew, reflecting like a multitude of jewels. The small brook raced along the rocks disappearing into a small wooded area. The serenity was not disturbed by the girl standing on a large boulder in the middle of the field.

She tilted her face into the breeze and shut her eyes. Her bare toes wiggled against the cool stone. The slippers she had worn had been kicked carelessly to the base of the rock when she had climbed to the top. The skirt of dress softly flared in the wind, letting the cool breeze wrap around her ankles. Her light brown hair whipped against her face as she ran one hand through it.

"I do declare, Katarina Bradwell, you are not behaving as a lady." A voice laughed from below her.

Katarina smiled slowly as she opened her eyes. She looked into the admiring eyes of Terrence Oakly. "Good morn." She curtseyed as he slid off his horse and climbed up the rock.

"What would your mother say?" He laughed as Katarina crossed her arms in front of her stomach and shook her hair.

"Katarina, you are lady. Stop behaving like a wild child." She stopped smiling as she sat on the rocks. "Father's arranged me a marriage."

Okay, I took it to a good cliffhanging ending. I'm fairly sure Terrence turns stalkery and Katarina (ha! that's my cat's name!) is wed to some barbaric knight. And I'm 50/50 on there being a rapey scene. I'm also pretty sure there's my first love scene in this book. Off to find it.

Man alive...it's probably when she's deflowered...in a rapey-scene. Gross.

And I just flipped through the pages - every page is in purple ink. Oh my.

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Commitment Issues

November's question: Win or not, do you usually finish your NaNo project? Have any of them gone on to be published?

Every November, I sign up for NaNoWriMo and I think only once I've finished a book and it was never published. I intend to one day but it has some issues: forgotten plot strands, weak conclusion. This month I've signed up again and this book is on the schedule to be published next year. I need to just commit to writing. 

I was at an orientation for my health (I'm fine...I just need help making my jeans stop shrinking) and she said that she heard somewhere that it takes 6 weeks to form a habit and 3 days to end it. That quote has been wiggling around in my head, more in regards to my writing than anything. My spotty release schedule is of my own making and I firmly plan to fix that. 

It's not fair to my readers, it's not fair to everyone who supports me and cheers me on and it's not fair to me.

I love this job. It's the best. Where else can I create stories for the people in my head? And sexy stories at that! But I'm well aware I have commitment issues with my writing. It was one of my "things I've done wrong" at last month's PRO/PAN meeting: Promising books come out and they never do, starting a series but never getting to book two. I need to stop this shit because in the end I'm only hurting myself. 

So dear November: I can so do this.

What is the Insecure Writer's Support Group? ISWG is a community for writers to share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Why erotica?

I was asked...

Why erotica? 

I already write erotic romance, so why would I zig from the zag? The answer is simple. Really, really simple.

I like writing sex. Truthfully, I love writing it. And in erotic romance there needs to be a balance between the erotic and the romance. But sometimes I just want to do wickedly kinky things to my characters that don't fit in those parameters.

Take Her Surrender. The story opens with Amy having sex with someone and she doesn't know who. She has a naughty moment in the kitchen with another character who...spoiler alert...isn't the hero.

Because...spoiler alert...there's no hero. Well...he's certainly not heroic.

There's public sex, sex with other people, sex with rope, sex with a major mind-fuck. Shit I just can't get away with in a romance - of any heat level. The second in the Surrender series goes even deeper down the erotica rabbit hole.

And what do you do with a book that doesn't fit within the normal parameters? I could...not write it. I could've written it just for me. I didn't need to slap a cover on it and throw it up for sale...but where's the fun in any of that?

And erotica is fun. So much fun. I don't have to ask myself: "Whoa...was that too far?" I don't have to tone down a sex scene. It's fun and liberating.


So now I ask: why not erotica?

Have a question for me? Have at 'er.


Sunday, 29 October 2017

Her Surrender

I have a new release. It's dirty. Extra dirty.


Amy Ridgefield's life is spiraling out of control and has been for the past couple of years, ever since she lost her stepbrother. She hasn't quite hit her rock bottom but she seems to be getting closer.

They call themselves the Dog Pound. Trust fund babies who spend more time in depravity than anyone she knows and she inherited them upon her brother’s death. They call it Roulette. Pick a number and you indulge in a decadent night of sex. Amy’s pick is more than decadent. She doesn’t know who he is thanks to a blindfold but he awakens things within her with his domination. Things she’s tried to deny herself for years now.

Including Wellsley Darling and his domination.

How far will she go before she surrenders everything?

Her Surrender contains BDSM elements. There’s a lot of delicious fuckery going on so this book is intended for readers over the age of 18.

    


      

Why do I do this to myself?

A year ago I came up with the swell idea to create a new pseudonym and write erotica. You'd think I'd learned I can't handle to writing identities when Riann Colton was born. Instead I had forgotten the joy of two websites, two Facebook pages, two blogs, two Twitter accounts, two Goodreads accounts. And out came Her Surrender...then titled Roulette.

Then came this fall when I started to work on print editions (yes...PRINT!) of my stories, including my Sophie Haas book. As it was going through the edits, I was attending my RWA Chapter meeting in Edmonton (road trip!) when a conversation with the very lovely and talented M Jane Colette went like this:

Her: "Exactly why do you have two names?"

Me: "Sophie is dirty."

Her: "Isn't Jenna dirty?"

Me: -crickets-

I stewed on it and this is the part where I confess that I had been ready to kill off Sophie in the summer. The domain was up for renewal and then I recalled I had just created business cards for her. Let me just say - business cards are not a good reason for keeping a name that doesn't wrap around you like a second skin. I would go on to create bookmarks and replace the cards (too small font) because like an idiot...I was going to do this. I reupped the domain and...are you hearing the cash register in my head? All because of those first business cards.

And I was about to put the book into print?

That's when I called a halt to my stubborn stupidity. And I killed off Sophie. This wasn't my first axing of a pseudonym (Riann Colton anyone) but this one was certainly a touch more complex and costly.

My word of caution to anyone considering a second pseudonym is "Do you truly need it?" Because at the end of the day it's going to cost you a shit ton of money. Just thinking about it makes me nauseous because there's now a domain I have a committed relationship with for two years because I'm past the cancellation date. I am going to see if maybe they'll make an exception but right now all I feel is...nauseous.

Aside from money - consider time. Two of everything is a lot to juggle. Especially if you already write dirty books.

I'm considering Sophie an experiment. A costly experiment. I'm smart. I know better. Why on earth didn't I listen to that first voice telling me to let it go in the summer? I can only blame the business cards for so long...