Start Over. Again. And, Again.

Friendly reminder that even though Mondays are notorious for being awful, they also offer us the opportunity to start again. Whatever the goal or project that lost traction over the weekend, it gets a chance to revive on Monday.

So, here’s to Monday and to your shot at digging in and finding the courage to keep working toward success.

Historical Romance and Women

I am a feminist at heart. In my soul, I believe the female form is sacred and is therefore equal to the male. Therefore, I have struggled with my love of the romance genre.

As an English teacher, I studied many, many classics and works of “literature” – no commercial fiction, and certainly not works that followed a “formula”. During that time, I learned so much about writing and the beautiful ways in which words strung together illuminate the soul.

How then, could I reconcile loving a genre that was supposed to be formulaic, that put men and women in rigid roles and the core of which was something as mundane as romance and love?

Because romance written by women, for women, is sacred. The stories of women learning who they are so they expect to be loved on their terms is exactly what we need.

Romance was tarnished for me by the typical fairy tales of my childhood where the damsel was saved by the dashing prince. As an adult woman, I didn’t wish to be saved. But, I believe we have all collectively felt the change of direction in modern day fairy tales for little girls which show empowered young women taking ownership of who they are in order to achieve the life they want. Which is great for the generation of girls who will be growing up with different stories as their foundation and mothers who give them the foundation to truly be themselves.

But, what about us? The women who were fed the bogus stories as little girls and now yearn for stories of women being themselves and knowing in their core they deserve a life that honours every one of their desires?

Enter Romance being told by these very women, for every woman.

Modern storytellers provide us with rich characters who know what they want (and, if they don’t, they discover it), and refuse to compromise on their worth and how they deserve to be loved. They provide us with characters who access both their divine masculine and their divine feminine. Strength and softness – physical and emotional.

I’ve read that the reason Romance was not given its due is precisely because it was for women, and therefore the holders of the keys to literary greatness (white men) scoffed and belittled it, thereby relegating it as a lesser genre of writing – as a fantasy of how men and women can never be.

Romance inspires more than feelings of lusty, love (although, those are fun too) – it really showcases how deep emotional intelligence can significantly improve the lives of individual people. The characters in romance novels experience loss, grief, fear and shame…and they overcome these through relationships. Through communication that is open and honest, they thrive and rise and are willing to be open to love. These characters are willing to face their fears and be vulnerable. They believe in the power of love so fully, they fearlessly jump in and feel all of its glories.

Historical Romance then becomes tricky because there are so many entrenched gender rules that characters must abide by in order to be historically accurate. However, any kind of knowledge about women in history shows that women in every time period struggled with and against the norms set out for them by society.

I love historical romance because even though the characters know the rules they must follow, their human spirit – the need for connection and vulnerability and love – is so strong, that most times the rules need to be broken in order to achieve that. Therein lies the fun of historical romance. Modern women can read about women in a different time period whom were not free to be themselves, and yet find a way to do so and be loved on their terms.

We seem to be very accepting of the tales and love stories of witches, wizards, shapeshifters, vampires, soul-finders, etc. each time we read a work of fantasy or dystopian literature. So, why is it so difficult to accept that true love, vulnerability and an elevated unbreakable connection can exist between two human characters?

What has your experience of reading romance been like?

I am a published auhor

It has actually happened and I couldn’t be more happy or more proud. Funny, though. It isn’t the jump out of my seat, holler from the rooftops kind of happiness. It is a such body hugging warmth. I feel accomplishment. I have reached my goal. It is so calming and peaceful the sheer joy which is radiating through every single cell.

Available here.

Available April 8, 2020!

While I would want to spend more time marketing and on social media, Covid-19, in addition to my own health odyssey have inspired me to take action NOW.

I want my family and friends to feel happier during these unprecedented times. I want to give them some kind of sense of love and joy – and the best way I can think of doing that is by releasing my new book earlier.

Find it on Amazon and Kobo

So excited to share my work with everyone I love!

Review: The Duke’s Disaster

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The Good:

  • The novel began with a bang – a really great concept with lots of tension and promise for a wonderful novel
  • Noah Winters is a great alpha
  • Thea Collins is a believable heroine with an interesting backstory
  • Noah’s support of Thea near the end is touching (expected, but nicely written nonetheless)
  • I wish I had more “Good” because I really wanted to like this one

The Meh:

  • Plot moved at a snail’s pace
  • Noah was so lovable I had a hard time believing he wasn’t nice, even though we were repeatedly told he wasn’t, his every action was that of a nice, thoughtful person
  • The Winters’ family history was difficult to piece together
  • The minor characters did not enrich the story
  • I didn’t find their inner conflict compelling enough to keep them from HEA sooner
  • While the sweet breakfast routine was a nice way to show the couple getting closer together, it, like everything else in this novel, became stale rather quickly

Overall:

  • I wouldn’t recommend this novel, but I have a feeling it was a poor introduction to the writing of Ms. Burrowes
  • The conflicts were not complex, or perhaps were not developed enough – I’m not sure what it was but I was unable to connect with the story and characters
  • Simply put, it was a boring novel – many a time I found myself closing it and loudly saying “Oh for crying out loud!”
  • The final scenes of violence were not very believable
  • Save yourself the time and perhaps give another of Grace Burrowes’ novels a try, I know I will.

Thanks for reading!  Any comments on this or another Grace Burrowes novel?

Summary from Goodreads:  Noah Winters, Earl of Anselm, spent months sorting and courting the year’s crop of debutantes in search of an ideal bride. When the sweet, biddable young thing he selected accepts another’s proposal, Noah decides to court her companion instead.  Thea Collins, though, is anything but biddable. She has learned the hard way that men are not to be trusted, especially the handsome ones. When she reluctantly accepts, Noah rushes Thea to the altar before she can reveal her deepest secret. Can she finally move on from her past, or will it come back to haunt her?

Caryn Emme Sign Off

Glue Readers to Your Story #amwriting

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free stock photo from pixabay.com

The inciting incident in a work of fiction is what gets the plot moving.  Think of it as the first flashy set of fireworks that leads into an awesome display which lights up the sky and sets up the crescendo at the end.  In other words, it will also lead directly to the climax.

A superb inciting incident will keep your audience glued to your words, reading at warp-speed with the driving desire to finish your story.  And this image is what keeps our fingers flying on the keyboard, right?

Here are five suggestions to help you make your inciting incident heart-stopping:

  1. Immediately place your protagonist in a dire situation where a decision must be made and there is precious little time in which to make it.
  2. Force your protagonist to compromise on her ideals –  give your reader hope that this compromise will lead her to a bright outcome.
  3. Give your protagonist the opportunity to feel pain – allow him to be uncomfortable, hurt, vulnerable – give your audience a reason to root for him.
  4. Allow the villain free reign and control to show the strength in the protagonist, the refusal to give in despite towering odds.
  5. Forget the introduction altogether and begin the novel with the inciting incident – start your story with a bang!  The rest can be filled in throughout the rising action.

There are many ways to keep your readers engaged.  Obviously, voice and style are key.  However:

  • We live in an era designed to take our audience’s attention away.
  • Readers are also quite savvy and images/settings/backstories that once took pages or even chapters to create can now be created in a paragraph or even a sentence!

Therefore, it is essential to keep the plot moving.

I hope these suggestions help to spark your creativity and perhaps inspire you to try something new with your writing.

Would love to hear from fellow writers how you navigate your inciting incident and where you place it, first or later in your novel?  What works for you?

Thanks for reading!

Caryn Emme Sign Off

Slow Going on The Duke’s Disaster

Was super excited to read:

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When I started, I felt like: (cue the chirping birds)

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My surroundings are of course not quite so serene, but you get the idea.

A few chapters in and I’m feeling more like:

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I don’t want to feel this way…and I will finish the novel fully hoping for a reversal in my experience.  This is my first Grace Burrowes book and I want to really like her works after going through an impressive list on goodreads.  Not to mention there are two more of her novels sitting in my e-reader.

Do you have a suggestion for plowing through a book that has you feeling a little let down? Would love to hear how you rally yourself to the finish!

Thanks for reading!

Caryn Emme Sign Off

Note: photos are free stock photos from pixabay.com

Dream Deferred #amwriting

Dream Deferred

Dreams have to be put aside for a plethora of reasons – some valid, some are mere excuses because we fear failure.

It is our most sacred duty to ourselves to be true to who we are and what we want to achieve with the time we have been granted on this earth.

I refuse to give up on my dream of being a published writer which has been set aside for far too long.  My short-term commitment to making this dream a reality is:

  1. Write everyday
  2. Blog regularly – write and interact with other like-minded people
  3. Read
  4. Research/Bookmark/Follow-up
  5. Complete editing current MS
  6. Finish plot notes for next MS

My long-term commitment to making this dream a reality is:

  1. Write everyday
  2. Submit current MS
  3. And/or prepare current MS for self-publishing
  4. Write next MS

My dream will not sugar over and it will not explode. It will take time, but it will happen.  Thank you Langston Hughes for the haunting reminder to remain true to one’s dream.

Do you have a deferred dream?  How will you challenge yourself to bring it to completion?

Caryn Emme Sign Off

How to Plot Your Romance Novel #amwriting

Every word counts.  I tend to skim and skip passages when I feel the plot of a novel is not moving.  So I try to put myself in my future reader’s shoes (or, eyes) and make every effort to ensure the plot is not stagnant.

My notes as an English teacher inspired me, as did the blog of author Nikki Owen, to use the tried and true plot graph in order to achieve this goal.

PLOT

For an explanation of each plot point see: how-to-plot-a-novel

Please note, I used this method once I had a very good understanding of my protagonists’ motivations and backstory, not before.  Knowing my heroine and hero first helped me to plot their story.

The following steps might help you organize all of the wonderful ideas buzzing inside your head:

  1. In point form, list the main ideas of your novel
  2. Then, use the graphic above to plan where the main ideas should fall
  3. In point form, on the triangle, write down what will happen at each plot point in the novel.
  4. Then repeat this process for each chapter – draw a triangle, label the plot points, then write what will happen in the chapter at each plot point.  This will ensure you have a clear goal for each chapter which includes a climax and a way to flow into the next chapter. (NOTE: ensure to use only the front of the page, keep the back blank for notes later on)
  5. And voila!  Novel done.  Haha!  Kidding – if only it were that easy 😉  You won’t have a finished novel, but you will have a clear outline of each chapter when you sit down to write.  And, since each chapter has been outlined on a separate sheet of paper, you may reorganize the chapters before you start writing.

In order to accomplish the above I bought a cheap notebook to keep my ideas together:

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I found that this process helped me to stay focused during precious writing time (which is hard to obtain with marriage, career and children).  Also when other ideas came to me as I wrote I could jot them down on the blank side of the page.  If it was an idea which didn’t fit into the chapter or the novel as a whole, I was able to set it aside (after writing it down of course) for future books.

I hope this helps you on your writing journey!  Please remember, every writer has her or his own process and this might not work with your style.

I’d love to know how other writers plan and plot out their works.  What do you do when you start to write a novel?

Caryn Emme Sign Off

Review: Falling Into Bed with a Duke

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The Good:

  • Minerva Dodger quickly became one of my favourite heroines because she knows herself and is beyond strong.
  • Ms. Heath creates a female protagonist who is confident in every aspect of her life and relationships – except, in love.  This is something that many women of the modern age experience.  The biggest lesson Minerva Dodger delivers is to remain true to yourself.
  • Her counterpart, the Duke of Ashebury, is everything one looks for in a male protagonist.  He is arrogant, gorgeous and powerful.  Naturally, he is considerate and thoughtful as well.  Watching him fall in love with Minerva is a definite treat since he is so unaware that it is occurring.
  • I really enjoyed the minor characters too – very well defined without distracting from the romance.  I particularly enjoyed Minerva’s friendship with BFF/sister-in-law Grace Lovingdon and her relationship with her parents was both strong and tender.
  • I also liked the way Ms. Heath created her world and gave us just enough back story to understand the context in which Minerva and Ashe moved without huge info-dumps.
  • And the ode to Dickens’ Miss Havisham and her clocks? C’mon! That was pretty cool.

The Meh:

  • I tend to skim over too much description about the angst.  While angst is a necessary component of a character’s development in a romance novel, I quickly get bored of extensive analysis of emotions.  I also find that modern readers easily understand a character’s predicament – once it’s been stated, is it necessary to go over it again and again?
  • Having said that, there were times when I skimmed or skipped entire passages where too much rambling was occurring.  “Does he love me? Why is he spending time with me? Is Minerva really Lady V? etc. etc.” Again, this is my reading quirk and there are many readers out there who love the analysis as the protagonists evolve.

Overall:

  • This novel is a beautiful read.
  • I loved reading the evolution of Minerva and Ashe’s relationship.
  • I especially loved Minerva’s realization and acceptance of her own beauty on her terms.  And, Ashe’s realization that his feelings extended well beyond sexual attraction for Minerva.
  • Ms. Heath had me cheering for these two from the very beginning.
  • If you’re looking for a well-written book with a strong heroine give this novel a try.

Favourite Lines:

“‘I could suffer through [my father’s] disappointment much more easily than I could suffer through not gaining retribution for being wronged.’ A corner of her mouth hitched up. ‘On the other hand, I might just kill you myself.’ She gave a quick nod. ‘Probably would.  I’d find immense satisfaction in it, come to think of it.'” (Minerva to Ashe in Chapter 3).

“‘Dear God, how can you possibly believe there is any part of her that is equal to nothing?‘” (Ashe to Jack Dodger in Chapter 20)

Did you read Book 1 of the Hellions of Havisham?  If so, let’s chat about it!  Thanks for stopping by.

Caryn Emme Sign Off

Summary from Goodreads:  After six unsuccessful Seasons, Miss Minerva Dodger chooses spinsterhood over fortune-hungry suitors. But thanks to the Nightingale Club, she can at least enjoy one night of pleasure. At that notorious establishment, ladies don masks before choosing a lover. The sinfully handsome Duke of Ashebury is more than willing to satisfy the secretive lady’s desires—and draws Minerva into an exquisite, increasingly intimate affair.  A man of remarkable talents, Ashe soon deduces that his bedmate is the unconventional Miss Dodger. Intrigued by her wit and daring, he sets out to woo her in earnest. Yet Minerva refuses to trust him. How to court a woman he has already thoroughly seduced? And how to prove that the passion unleashed in darkness is only the beginning of a lifetime’s pleasure?

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