Valentine Kisses

Since it’s Valentines, I thought it would be appropriate to talk about kisses. An important part of any romance. I write Historical Romance and will be using some examples from my Hearts at War series. (Which is on sale right now!)

HeartsAtWar_Series(1)

So, what do we look for in a kiss…um, a book kiss, that is?

 

  • The physical: Readers want to be able to picture the kiss, to see it play out in their imaginations.

 

“Please be careful.” Rachel’s chest hurt as he gave her a half smile and moved to mount. “Andrew?”

He glanced back, his expression tender, his gaze moving from her eyes to her mouth and back again.

“Captain Wyndham.”

Rachel wasn’t certain who called, and it didn’t matter. How could she let him go again, not knowing if she would see him again, and with his kiss—his almost kisses—burning in her mind? “Wait.”

Andrew looked down as she rushed to his side. Pushing his boot out of the stirrup, she replaced it with her own, grabbed the pommel and leaned into the horse to pull herself up. Half sitting in the saddle in front of him, she touched his face. “I love you, Andrew Wyndham. Never doubt th…”

The warmth of his lips silenced her. She closed her eyes as the horse shifted under them. His mouth drew her in, his arm strong around her. His taste, the cascade of scents, the coarse brush of whiskers on her chin—everything intoxicating.

“I love you.” Rachel sank back to the ground.

~excerpt from The Scarlet Coat

 

  • Another aspect of the kiss in writing is the senses. How do you bring their senses alive and put them in the moment?

 

Lydia tipped her chin up at Daniel’s touch, her lips parting as they met his. Her eyes closed, but not to darkness. A strange sort of light filled her, along with the scent of moss and earth, and something distinctly and wonderfully him. She deepened her breath as Daniel deepened the kiss, his fingers traveling across her back, drawing her against him. Slow and needy, his mouth moved against hers. An ache welled within her, as though she were being ripped in half…and then a sudden release. Her defenses crumbled. Her hands slid with a will of their own to his face and the hair at the nape of his neck. She answered his silent plea with an equally silent yes.

Daniel’s withdrawal was gradual, as though weaning her from his touch. He never completely let go, but gave a boyish grin that broke dimples in both cheeks and melted her reserves as surely as his kiss had.

~excerpt from The Patriot and the Loyalis

How many senses were used in this excerpt? Sight. Smell. Touch. Don’t cram all the senses in there, but add a couple to bring it to life.

 

  • With all that, there is still the mental. What is the character thinking and why? How does that change the kiss?

 

Joseph ducked his head and touched her mouth. First with his finger. Then with his lips. No movement, just their mouths touching, lingering on the brink of something more.

A shiver moved through her. She’d never wanted anything so much, and feared it so greatly. The moment seemed to balance on one question that remained unanswered.  Did he love her?

Pressure built upon her mouth, and she realized he was kissing her. Soft at first, but then with an increasing neediness. Or longing? She couldn’t be sure which, but a huge chasm divided the two. What if she were only a memory of Fannie? Joseph, please…

How could she fight against something she craved so dearly?  One of his hands slipped to the bow she had just tied and he pulled the ends free. His kiss paused as he looked at her face. He froze, his gaze never wavering though the light of moments earlier faded away. He cleared his throat and stepped back.

“We should go down to dinner.” Without another word, he collected his hat and moved to the door. Hannah gasped for a breath, but it wouldn’t come. All her attempts to emulate Fannie, and to what end? So that Joseph could lose himself in a memory? Reality was not so kind to him. She’d seen it in his eyes when he’d looked at her and saw her as she was. No, she could never be Fannie. And what good was his love if it wasn’t for her?

~excerpt from The Tory’s Daughter

 

Here, she spent the whole kiss analyzing their relationship? It might have been very different moment if she had been contemplating something else. Like how much she loved him… or what they were going to have for dinner.

 

  • And finally, at least in this list since I’m running out of books, the emotional. If your characters aren’t feeling anything, neither will the reader.

 

Myles traced the tips of his fingers down Nora’s sleeve, a simple muslin gown.

She stepped nearer.

“Nora, I…”

What could he tell her that wouldn’t drive her away? Better to remain silent and forget who either of them were. Forget the war—pretend it really had ended. He closed the distance and found her mouth. He needed her strength. Her acceptance. Her.

Myles’s hands felt full as he held her head in place and allowed his heart to bleed. Her lips moved against his, reminding him that he had, indeed, survived and would continue to. Life coursed through him, pushing back the shadows, breathing hope into him.

Hope?

He’d forgotten what that felt like, tasted like. His eyes burned as her hands smoothed across his back. She pulled away and stared up at him with wide eyes and rosy cheeks. Concern marked her brow. “What happened to your back?”

“What?” He blinked, not ready to let go of her or the feelings she’d given life to.

~excerpt from The Return of the King’s Ranger

 

So, these are just a few examples of kisses and different focuses to bring out during them. Which do find moves you most as a reader? Do you have a favorite kiss or a scene you’ve written and want to share?

What’s in a name?

As a writer of Colonial fiction, one of funnest things to do is choose names for characters. More and more I see the huge influence the Puritans had on what became common names in the American colonies. They also had a lot of names that didn’t rise in popularity as some of the Bible names did, but still hold a lot of meaning…and sometimes a chuckle (like ‘Search-the-Scriptures’, ‘Joy-in-sorrow’ or ‘Sorry-for-Sin’)

Here are a few of my favorites:

For girls: (Besides the usual Bible names)
Berenice
Charis
Charity
Chastity
Comfort
Constance
Chloe
Clemence
Damaris…

Pop over to Colonial Quills for the rest of this blog, including an excerpt from The Scarlet Coat!

Loving the short story–and why it feels like Christmas!

And so August comes to an end. I must say, it was a great month for me and so I thought I’d share. First was the IMG_1540abundance of vegetables from my garden. So good! I also had lots of fun at playgrounds and wading parks with my kids. Family walks. BBQs. And then on August 26th I found out that my short story, When I’m Gone, won the romance category of the “Storming the Short Story” Contest hosted by two Texas chapters of the American Christian Fiction Writers. My story about ballroom dance partners facing the WWII draft will be included in a dance themed anthology.

And life continued… My hubby took some time off work for family and we finally got tomatoes and corn out of our garden (remember we live in Canada so this is an exciting thing). To end the month off with a bang I just found out that a second short story I wrote won a contest, too! I Heard the Bells, inspired by one of my favorite Christmas songs (I’m sure you can guess the one, but if not click here) will be published; my forth anthology since February of this year.civil-war-gingerbread-recipe-225x300

To celebrate, and to get yourself in the Christmas spirit, have some of the gingerbread loaf featured in I Heard the Bells, and stay tuned for more info on my stories and their release dates.

KISS Front CoverAlso keep your eye open another one of my short stories to be released in the anthology: A Kiss is Still a Kiss that will be released on November 1st! Maybe add it to your goodreads “to read” list! 😉

Thanks for dropping by to celebrate my exciting news! And have a very merry Christmas!

 

Shackled (included in A Kiss is still a Kiss)

Arizona Territory 1883

He came west to find freedom and ended up shackled to a chair. She’s not sure she ever wants to let him go.

Martha Fern–So much I never knew!

I recently decided — aka last week — that I should write something a little different on Sundays. Something with more meaning than a novel can hope to possess. A person’s life. A real human being who lived and loved and then said farewell to the ones she loved. She said farewell to me. Martha Fern Stutz was my maternal grandma. She lived on the family farm two miles from where I grew up and I spent a lot of time between those two wonderful specks on the earth. She passed away ten years ago in January. It doesn’t feel near that long ago.

As I’ve started researching, or “phoning Mom”, it’s amazing the little things I never knew, or thought about before:

It is hard to say how concerned 33 year-old Joseph Reuben Stutz, and 29 year-old Clara McLean Coombs were with world events, on July 19th, 1914 in the small hamlet of Leavitt near Alberta’s Rocky Mountains, as they welcomed their fourth child. In Alberta, the first great wave of immigration that had spanned that last twenty years was coming to a close, and in exactly nine days the world would charge headfirst into World War I.

Fern, (as she disliked the name Martha and so went by her middle name) came into the world with the help of the local midwife “Grandma Baker” who became legendary for the hundreds and hundreds of babies she birthed without losing any of them or their mothers.

Martha Fern is the adorable girl in the middle:

grandma

 

I look forward to more Sunday evenings delving into this wonderful life that has affected mine so greatly. I’ll share a few of the most exciting tidbits here 🙂

Of Books and Babes!

On the third of February my first publication was released, a story in the anthology Out of the Storm. Exiting, but slightly anti-climactic as I waited for my printed copies of the book to arrive. To save a significant amount of money on postage, I had the shipment sent to the a US address. Because of one delay after another, they probably sat there a full month and a half, their delivery to Canada out of my power. Finally, Saturday, they made their way to my door! I must say, even after a full two months, it’s surreal seeing your words printed in a actual book — a feeling I wouldn’t mind experiencing on a semi regular basis. 😉

 

IMG_2187

 

But it can’t compete with the euphoria of a delivery that took place exactly seven days earlier…

 

IMG_2173

 

What can I say…the past week has been a good one.

The Gorgeous Georgette: by Carolyn Miller

I’ve always hankered for an era not my own. Growing up, some of my favorite authors included such notables as Laura Ingalls Wilder, Louisa May Alcott, Mary Grant Bruce (an Australian author who wrote the Billabong series, about turn of the century Australian graziers—hello, I am Australian ), and of course, my favorite (perhaps because of her red-haired heroine): L. M. Montgomery. (Fresh thought: should I include a middle name for publishing purposes?)

The writing of these ladies varied, from flowery flights of imagination to pragmatic epistles of life on the land, but their skill in drawing the reader into their worlds made for many a pleasurable hour, envisaging Jo, Anne and many other spunky, imaginative girls from an era so different from 1980s suburbia.

My tastes matured, to appreciation for Jane Austen, Agatha Christie, and others who wrote evocatively about eras long gone. A more recent addition to my library is Georgette Heyer, an English novelist whose first novel, The Black Moth (written to amuse her sick brother), was published in 1921 when she was all of 19! Over the course of her life she published more than fifty books, many of them set in Georgian times.

Romance will always be a popular fiction genre, perhaps because it can be seen as a reflection of the hunger we all share for the God who is Love itself. Many historical romance novels, including those set in Regency times, tend to reflect modern (read: carnal) mindsets, with a lack of understanding of the moral sensibilities of the day. While Jane Austen could write about the times in which she lived, Georgette Heyer described settings and events that happened booksover a century earlier, yet did so with such finesse she could be considered to be one of the 20th century’s pre-eminent experts on Regency customs and language. Indeed, she is considered by many to have created the Regency genre of historical fiction.

Georgette Heyer is said to have amassed literally rooms of research – no Google searches for her! – a fact which further cements my belief in her brilliance. Books on everything from 18th century signposts to snuff boxes filled her shelves, her attention to detail so precise she is reported to have bought a letter written by the Duke of Wellington to ensure she could employ his manner of speaking in the novel An Infamous Army. Commitment indeed! Her zest for period precision is reflected in how she casually refers to events, such as the reactions of onlookers to the procession of Allied Sovereigns, as mentioned in A Civil Contract. Her depth of knowledge was such she could write with astonishingly accurate recall about the mid-18th century adventures of former Jacobites in The Masqueraders, all from a grass hut in Tangayika (Tanzania)!

Whilst Georgette Heyer does not write an overtly Christian worldview as presented in, say, Lori Wick’s English Garden series, her characters still exist within the moral code of the day, with definite consequences for actions. But despite her understanding of social structure and strictures, her novels offer hope, often displaying a form of redemption for those GHborn into unfortunate circumstances, or with pasts they now regret, and demonstrate that love and a successful marriage does not depend merely on emotional attachment, but the daily decisions that recognize the hero or heroine’s flaws, but chooses to love and bless them anyway.

My current favorite, The Unknown Ajax, tells the story of Hugo, an unpopular heir, whose long-estranged family become reconciled to his less than desirable heritage as they learn to appreciate his kindness, his generosity, and his willingness to turn the other cheek. Another novel, Frederica, sees a selfish marquis transformed, challenged by the heroine whose concern for her family overrides thought of her future. A Civil Contract shows how the thoughtful actions of a woman, who knows she is her husband’s second choice, can see a loveless marriage of convenience lead to a state of contentment, an ordinary life, which might not be “filled with moments of exaltation” BHbut consisting of times, not “very romantic, but they were really much more important than grand passions or blighted loves.”

If you want a little more period detail than what is provided by Jane (Austen, of course), and would enjoy some sparkling repartee without seeing any bodices ripped, be sure to check out Georgette Heyer. Like reading Shakespeare, it may require some time to tune your ear in, but if you value historical accuracy, you will enjoy the wit and wisdom of a writer who appreciated the value of love conquering all.

 

 

CMCarolyn (Ann) Miller

Carolyn Miller lives in the beautiful Southern Highlands of New South Wales, Australia, with her husband and four children. A longtime lover of romance, especially that of the Regency era, Carolyn holds a BA in English Literature, and loves drawing readers into fictional worlds that show the truth of God’s grace in our lives. Her novels have won or finaled in over a dozen contests, including the 2014 RWA ‘Touched by Love’ and 2014 ACFW Genesis contests. Carolyn is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and My Book Therapy, and is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of the Steve Laube Agency.

Connect with her:         Website        Pinterest        Facebook

 

Guest Author: Hallee Bridgeman – Bringing WWII to Life!

My love of the WWII era started in my early teens when I watched Casablanca for the first time. I became obsessed with magazines and newspaper articles from the 1940’s, with the fashion, with the lifestyles. Even now I enjoy looking look through old books and pictures and see how kitchens were set up and how homes were run.HAB_2014a

I’ve been writing for about 15 years now. My interests lay in suspense and romance, so writing romantic suspense just became a no-brainer for me. I can sit down at the keyboard and just let my imagination run. I enjoy coming up with scenarios and intricate plots that twist and turn and keep readers completely breathless from one chapter to the next.

When I started writing, I started researching writing a series set in Europe in World War II. So, while I was busy writing my contemporary romantic suspense titles, I spent any down time I had researching the 1930’s-1950’s Europe and America. When I finally reached a point in my work schedule to start writing my book, I sat down at my keyboard and expected to have the words just flow through me like they always have only to find out – they wouldn’t.

It wasn’t that I didn’t have a plot: espionage, female heroines, inspired by real women. I had the plot. What I didn’t have was the knowledge. I had no idea how much I didn’t know until I realized I didn’t know it. I couldn’t even begin because as much as I could picture my character in my head, I couldn’t be certain that what I had her wearing was something that she would actually wear. All of those years of research, looking into espionage tactics and military warfare had done nothing to prepare me to write about the most important thing in any novel: the characters.

What kind of school would she have gone to? What kind of shoes would he wear? What would she eat for dinner on a Friday night? How would they go from their apartment to that play?

As much as I had spent most of my life in love with that era, the little day-to-day things that help characters come to life in a story completely escaped me. I had to go back into research with a fresh eye for what was important and what details I needed to learn. Loving the era like I do, that research was fun and easy for me.

When I finally sat down again to write the series, with all of the proper research under my belt, it came much quicker and easier.

Tomorrow, the final episode in my Virtues and Valor series releases. Every book in the 7-part series was inspired by a different heroine in WWII history; every woman on the covers did something remarkable in the war. It has been an amazing journey to research and to dig into their stories.

7FlightOfFaith_800Flight of Faith: HELEN MULBERRY, the youngest child and only daughter of a wealthy Texas oil tycoon, has always had her every wish granted immediately. When the Germans march into France, no one denies her request to fly her plane to England and help free up a male pilot for combat. Her father’s influence opens doors, and 19 year old Helen joins the Virtues team.

Now under the code-name FAITH, she flies between Britain and France, transporting passengers, supplies, or performing reconnaissance. The Nazis guard their skies with vigor, and Helen learns to fly in combat, land in a field with no lights, and evade the anti-aircraft fire. She masterfully takes on each mission, despite the perceptions and chauvinistic attitudes of many of the male pilots.

Shot down over France during the mission to rescue the agent code named TEMPERANCE from the clutches of the Gestapo, Helen must make her way through enemy territory with no language skills and somehow come through with a means to get her team back to Britain. Can she save them, or will they all find that they have no way out?

Virtues and Valor Series:
In 1941 Great Britain a special war department assembles an experimental and exclusively female cohort of combat operatives. Four willing spies, a wireless radio operator, an ingenious code breaker, and a fearless pilot are each hand-picked, recruited, and trained to initiate a daring mission in Occupied France. As plans are laid to engineer the largest prison break of Allied POWs in history, the Nazis capture the Virtues’ radio operator. It will take the cohesive teamwork of the rest of the women to save her life before Berlin breaks her and brings the force of the Third Reich to bear.

Some find love, some find vengeance, and some discover the kind of strength that lives in the human heart when all they can do is rely on each other and their shared belief. Courage, faith, and valor intersect but, in the end, one pays the ultimate price.

virtues

 

Hallee online:             Website        Twitter        Facebook        Google+     Amazon