Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A Writer's Guide to Creating a Hero

Physical Requirements:
-6 feet tall or more
-Expressive eyes; color not important
-Kissable lips
-Broad shoulders
-Light sprinkling of chest hair (or none)
-Lean muscles; no Mr. Universe wannabees
-8-10" cock (or at least have a 'massive' erection)

Character/Personality Traits:
-Must be flawed, either by past hurt or misunderstanding/lapse in judgement
-Kind, but staunch defender of values
-Willing to do Whatever It Takes to keep chosen female in his life
-Carry a never-ending supply of condoms
-Must be a committment-phobe before meeting said female (in some books, anyway!)
-Occupation: Doesn't matter.
-Oh yeah; must be SINGLE! Don't want any cheaters here...then he gets downgraded to the 'slimy ex-prick' status.

Sprinkle in hair color, eye color, a chance encounter with female, and heart-stopping, instant connection, along with mind-blowing sex and you've accomplished your goal: An erotic romance hero.

Some authors build their stories around heroes with money, be it any high-powered career. Others go for Public Service. Some go for the blue collar man. They all have the above characteristics and fall head over heels in love with the woman (or man!) of their choice. Yes, M/M is hot right now, as is M/M/F or M/F/M. Don't understand the difference? Ask Brynn. She'll tell you:)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Sex Sex and More Sex

Have I got your attention now? Or totally turned you off?

"Oh God....not another essay on sex, please..."

"Sex? (Heavy panting) Bring it on, baby!"

"Kenzie...what are you up to now...?"

Face it people; sex is all around us, even if when TV debuted, married couples had to be shown in separate beds. So how did Lucy end up 'in the family way'?? And did you know that Fred and Wilma Flintstone were the first married couple to share a bed on TV? Trust cartoons to shatter the tabboo...

In older romance novels and movies, what happens in the bedroom is behind closed doors. The music swells, the camera fades to black or pans upward toward the stars...and the next day the couple is shown with blissful, sappy smiles and holding hands. In books, the act is described in pretty vague terms, and certainly not until 'I love you' or even 'I do' has been uttered.

The first romance book I ever read was The Flame and the Flower, and the first sex scene is pretty much a rape, because the hero has mistaken his virginal visitor for a prostitute. And when she escaped the next day, he looked all over for her, finding her about the same time her family realized she was pregnant. Eventually they learned to love each other, but the sex scenes were more sensual; no mention of certain slang terms.

First Love by Judy Blume came along, and while body parts and the eventual act itself was described, it was all very loving and girls my age couldn't wait until we fell in love enough to give ourselves to our one true love.

Valley of the Horses by Jean M Aul really opened the bedroom door for me. This is what I wanted; several pages of what went on between two consenting adults in the bedroom, er, cave.

And so I started writing.

The first book my alter ego submitted to an agent, he admitted he blushed several times, and labelled it Erotic Romance. I was surprised; I hadn't been introduced to the erotic romance genre yet, and thought erotic meant it belonged in Men's Magazines! Two years later, I learned about the online publisher Ellora's Cave and read some of their excerpts. I blushed; I wasn't raised with some of the language used, but kept returning to the site. And finally, bought my first two books.

I was instantly hooked.

As I said last week, my first attempt was written in longhand, while locked in my bedroom. I didn't want the kids, or even my husband to know what I was writing. But in 2007, I'd read enough books to become slightly more comfortable with the terminology, and now have no problem writing it on the computer, at my desk, where anyone can view it. (Although, if the kids are near, I'll use discretion if I'm writing the sex scenes. S snuck up on me once and yelled, 'Oh my gawd...Mom's writing porn!')

Speaking it, I have more issues. I was on a friend's blogtalk radio show in April, and when I chose the excerpt to read, I'd forgotten it contained both 'pussy' and 'cock'. I sort of exhaled when I said those words, and rushed through that paragraph, but thankfully they were only mentioned once; I was alone in my house and was recovering from laryngitis. Later, T told me he heard his producer, rather startled, in his ear, 'Pussy and Cock at almost 3 in the afternoon...Okay!' And in later shows, featured guests whose frequent use of the word 'Fuck' jolted me out of the top 'shocker' spot and I'm actually one of his tamer shows! I've since told him that if he ever has me on again, to put me in a 10pm slot, lol:)

But the point I'm trying to make is this: Whether you like your written sex sweet and fifties' style, sensual and mainstreamy-like, or in-your-face-bedroom-wide-open-use-oven-mitts-while-reading-or-at-least-have-the-air-conditioning-on, it's out there.

And I'm on the tamer side of the burning-up-the-pages-scenes. Yes, I've written four books which my mother will NEVER read (or if she does, she'll blush profusely, call me up and yell at me for the language, and then smile when I tell her about reviews or sales), and I AM capable of keeping the heat level up. But I've noticed this comes in cycles. Sometimes I don't want to read about every time my hero and heroine copulate; the first two times are fine, unless they decide to go at it in a differnt location, or play around with sex toys.

But other times, yeah...bring it on!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

My Name is Louisa Judy Lavryle Nora Mary....

...and I'm an author.

My all-time favorite author is Louisa May Alcott. My copy of Little Women has been read so many times, the cover is completely gone, and there is duct tape on the spine. I think the first illustration, copywrite page, and other 'cover' pages are missing.

I checked out her biography so many times in the library, my name was the only one on the checkout card, in my childish, 4th-grade handwriting.

My entire library of LMA books is mismatched. Every time I'd find one I didn't have at a garage sale, I'd buy it. Some collector is probably furious with me for buying only Eight Cousins instead of the entire set. But that was before I learned the value of keeping a matched set together! (And yes...I'm slightly irritated with my high school self too...)

Anyway...I wanted Meg's wisdom; Jo's ability to write; Beth's musical talent; and Amy's name. Later I would also envy Amy marrying Laurie Lawrence! But I digress.

In the 6th grade, I was introduced to Judy Blume. She took ordinary, flawed girls and showed how other issues besides boyfriend or popularity problems could be dealt with effectively. In fact, when I began writing, I patterned book #3 of my AU series after her controversial First Love book, which chronicled a HS senior losing her virginity.

When I finished the 6th grade, my mom let me read Kathleen Woodiwiss' The Flame and the Flower. I was instantly hooked on romance. But I don't care to write historicals; too much research. I did, however, fall in love with the Civil War era, and was soon allowed to watch all of Gone With The Wind. I was always sent to bed after the war was over, but stayed awake to listen to the rest. I always wondered what the big deal was about the staircase scene; I'd gotten up during Rhett and Scarlett's 'fight' and Mom discovered me in the hallway as Rhett carried Scarlett up the stairs.

In college, I read my first Danielle Steele book, but soon discovered I didn't like the guilt the heroines always felt. After college, a friend introduced me to Lavryle Spencer, and I instantly fell in love. Separate Beds. Hummingbird. The Hellion. Three of my favorites of hers, as well as Family Blessings. When she retired, I thought, 'I can take her place!' I had three books under my belt at that time, and was working on completing #4.

During the same period, my mom gave me my first Nora Roberts book, Montana Sky. I now own many Nora books, and my favorites include the Key Trilogy and the Sister Trilogy (Megan, Kate, and Laura).

And among the erotica authors? Take a look to the left. I started an erotica on the sly after reading Mary Winter's Water Lust. I still haven't finished it; I wrote it in longhand and in private, as I blushed every time I used certain words. And as I continued to read other authors' work, I continued to write and worked up the nerve to submit some of it. All because a certain author dared me to challenge myself, to see if I could keep the heat level up. And promptly 'borrowed' my idea, but the stories are in no way the same, so I'm not upset. Initially, yes. But I got over it.

So there you have it. Influenced by many, but my voice is my own. Maybe someday there will be someone saying, 'Thanks Kenzie, for inspiring me'??

Thank you Louisa, Judy, Lavryle, Nora, and Mary! And to Brynn, Bron, Kelly, Anny, etc for furthering the 'corruption', ha ha! Seriously, if any of my books get to be half as beloved as yours, I'll be thrilled!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Wired Differently?

I guess history does repeat itself.

Growing up, I marched to my own drummer, or at least seemed to be either ahead of the times or lagging behind; you be the judge.

In school, even though I wanted to 'fit in', my best friends were mainly guys. I wore what I was comfortable in. I read books and wrote nonstop.

As a young adult, I was slightly fashion-conscious, and when I found a brand of clothing I liked, I pretty much wore nothing else. And continued to read books and write nearly nonstop.

Over the past year, I've studied other published authors; we've become close friends; I've finally written something publishable. So why the small gripe?

Over and over I hear others complain about the mainstream published books and the head-hopping; the not-always-HEA; the 'obvious' mistakes; and how they will quit reading a book because of it. Or give up on an author mainly because they've 'betrayed' them somehow.

I guess I'm still inexperienced enough not to let these issues get to me. Yes, I've noticed a slight tendancy over the years to think in the back of my mind, 'I would have worded this differently; like this...' or throw the book across the room (not literally) if I was unhappy with the ending. But the only times I've 'given up' on a particular author was 1) when every book dealt around something which didn't particularly interest me; 2) I didn't like the way the series was going; or 3) I discovered I was mislead by the blurb or excerpt and it wasn't to my liking, after all. And to be honest, I've only found one author who I will NEVER read again, strictly because this author's work is unappealing to me. I never even made it through his first book, and when his books arrive on the bookstore shelves, I skip over them. I don't even admire the covers.

But for the record, I don't mind an unhappy ending, especially if it ties up loose ends; the only books where the writing drives me slightly crazy are the 1st drafts of authors who can't spell or use punctuation/grammer properly (I'm not talking typos here...I mean throughout the entire 20+pages!); I don't mind the head-hopping, as I have no problem keeping the characters straight!

And in college, I was puzzled by my fellow classmates' 'confusion' when we had to read 'Common Ground', a book about the integration/bussing issues in Boston during the 1960's. The book showed three different families and how the issue affected them, alternating chapters. I was the only one, it seemed, who read the entire thing cover to cover and had no problem following the storylines of all three families, even when a fourth POV was introduced halfway. The only time I skipped around was while I was writing my paper, and that was stricly for footnotes, and to make sure I had my facts straight.

I guess I'm just wired differently.

Chalk it up to inexperience, ADD, early menapause, or whatever. I'm just getting tired of hearing about it and others who chime in to agree all the time. This is the way I am; I might comment and risk being ridiculed, but for the most part I stay silent.

Until now. I just couldn't hold it in anymore.

Friday, August 7, 2009

And The Winner Is...

I picked two random winners; one from last night's chat and the other from Raine's interview.

Winner from the chat:

Carol P!

Winner from the interview:


Thanks for a wonderful chat last night; I hope no one felt left out or ignored. I am so touched and honored that everyone showed up and a good time was had by all! And what I enjoyed the most was finally being able to post excerpts with everyone! Great way to end a week:)

Now I'm waiting to hear whether or not Teacher's Pet is publishable. Here's hoping!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Scenic View

How do I set the scene? I look at it through my characters' eyes. Lately they've all been in small towns, but as is the case of Wild At Heart, they ended up in Rocky Mountain National Park in Estes Park, Colorado. I hadn't intended on traveling to another state; Brad just decided to go on his own. And while he was there, he met Emma.

Since I had been to RMNP as recently as 2002, I had a clear idea of what the place looked like. And it only took a few phone calls to my mother and a call to our favorite steak restaurant in Estes Park to get a few details straight.

But usually as I'm writing, the scenery will set itself; all I have to do is describe it.

Now when it comes to describing clothing or home furnishings...that's a different matter. I was not blessed with the fashion-conscious gene, nor the decorating one. If I get bogged down, I'll turn to either a magazine or remember a friend's color scheme that I admired. And once in a while, the character will tell me what she has in her home, if she favors modern glass or antiques!

On Vacation!
The kids and I are at Grandma's for the next few days, but my interview on Raine Delight's blog is up and running! Check it out here: http://authorrainedelight.com/2009/08/guest-author-day-with-kenzie-michaels/

Go over and leave me a comment? You might find yourself on the receiving end of a surprise!

Monday, August 3, 2009

I'm A Best Seller!

Received the following email from editor Chuck yesterday:


Did you know ASEW is # 3 on eBookwise for Freya's Bower?

I told my husband who looked at the screen, looked back at me, cleared his throat, and asked, 'So...can I call GMC and order my truck now?'

And when we went to the grocery store, I was so excited I completely forgot it was SUNDAY and tried to buy a bottle of wine. Head slap...I'll have to do it today!

I guess my little e-baby is doing fine?

Tomorrow, I'll be over in Raine Delight's spolight. Come over and leave a comment? www.authorrainedelight.com/blog (I hope that link works!)