Writing “The Kiss.”

When we think of the romantic kisses we’ve had, I think many of us may agree we consider them a prelude to something greater. A beginning. As far as initiating physical relationships with our significant others, that initial kiss is often a first step. Foreplay, if you will.

In a romance novel, as far as I’m concerned, the first kiss is something much greater than a stepping stone to deeper intimacy. It is an explosion of awareness. In my books, it is generally the moment when the characters suddenly realize the person they are kissing is “the one.”

Momentous, right? One would hope.

In writing about a couple’s first kiss, it has to be about more than just two sets of lips becoming acquainted. Yes, there is an element of discovery there and it’s important to show that. The embrace might be tentative at first, as the main characters discover what their partners like. It might also be a savage kiss, fraught with withheld lust and a measure of frustration. ¬†Either way, the characters are learning about each other and hopefully learning about themselves as well.

For me, it’s also a turning point in the book and as I mentioned above, it’s all about awareness. It should be a catalyst. Very often in my stories, it’s the moment when the hero and heroine realize something has changed, not only in their respective worlds but in themselves. Going forward, all their actions will be impacted by that kiss and the emotions it inspired.

Emotion is always key in any love scene but certainly in this first physical union. I like to describe the kiss as a moment of surrender. It might be blissful or it might be vexing, but no matter what, it has to be life-changing for that character. The kiss should make the heroine understand there is more to the hero than arrogance and machismo. And the hero should come to realize the heroine is his match.

How does one show this? Again, emotion needs to drive the actions. Perhaps this is an opportunity for the heroine to confront a painful moment from her past. Maybe this could be a chance for the hero to look at an issue in a new way. It is an opportunity for development and should drive the characters toward that all-important fork in the road.

One can show how they feel by describing their physical reactions as well. Is her heart pumping? Are his hands shaking as he cups her cheek? Are her hands fisted at her side because she hates this man so much but can’t resist him? Does he dig his fingers into her hair, desperate to experience its softness?

Do you see what I mean?

The kiss changes the characters, physically and emotionally. If it’s done well, it might just change your reader too.

Too many feels, Kelly Clarkson.

If you’ve been listening to the radio lately, you will have heard Kelly Clarkson’s beautiful song “Piece By Piece.” It’s a heartfelt performance, sung from a daughter to the father who abandoned her. I’ve always been a big fan of Ms. Clarkson’s but I have to admit this is one song I can’t listen to, at least not often. It’s not because I don’t appreciate the song. If anything, I appreciate it a little too much.

The first time I heard it, I was thrust back to a time I don’t allow myself to visit very often. My father has been an absentee father for much of my life. There are reasons for it. He is a compulsive gambler and we had to make the decision to remove him from our lives. When someone is in complete denial, there is only so much one can do to help. My family’s story was the inspiration behind my book Vice.


Writing Vice was cathartic. It was something I always knew I’d need to write about but once I did, I was ready to put those feelings to bed.

I didn’t expect them to flood back while listening to a Kelly Clarkson song. The first few times it came on the radio, I changed the station. My husband gave me a comforting smile as I did so.

“You don’t mind?” I asked.

“No,” he replied. “I understand.”

But not long ago, I forced myself to listen to the song in its entirety when I was alone in the car. It’s raw and emotional. Kelly’s voice wavers here and there and yet one can hear the passion behind it. You can hear how the topic affects her. Before I knew it, I was confronted with memories I’d suppressed long ago.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t turn into a blubbering fool when I think of my father. If anything, I feel sorry for him. He was offered help, time and again, and refused it. He’s probably still at the tracks, waiting for the right horse to come in. That’s got to be a lonely existence when it’s all you have.

I moved on with my life. I healed and raised my own family. And yet, whenever I hear Kelly sing that song, I am destroyed again. Dismantled, piece by piece, as she describes.

I suppose that is the power of good art. It doesn’t have to be highbrow or hanging in an art gallery. It can be a pop song or a book. If it makes us feel, sometimes even a little too much, it has value. Sometimes, we need to experience those brutal emotions so we can get them out of our systems and resume life. Sometimes we need to feel the pain, if only to remind ourselves of how far we’ve come. Her song reminds me I survived.

It might be a song I can’t listen to often, but it will be one I never forget.


The healing power of books.

Those of you who follow me on social media will know our family lost a dear member this week. My husband’s grandfather died at the age of 95. He was a lovely man, a kind man, and he will be very much missed. After a long and emotional battle with dementia, he now has peace. The rest of us mourn the loss, our second loss in a year.

We had the service yesterday. It was intimate and filled with jazz music, his favorite. When we got home, we were all exhausted. My husband and I sat down for a while and then went for a walk so we could grab a coffee. When we got back to the house, I felt at loose ends. I immediately picked up a book and began to read.

Before I knew it, I was halfway through the book. In this case I didn’t read a romance, although that is my usual fare. I recently picked up a book at my library called The Swallow: A Ghost Story by Canadian children’s author Charis Cotter. That might seem like an odd choice. However, I often find I go back to my first love when reading, and my first favorite stories were all ghost stories.


The story revolves around 2 young girls in Toronto in 1963. They live next door to one another, next to the Necropolis cemetery, which still exists in east Toronto. I visited it once and it’s an amazing place. One of the girls would love to be able to see ghosts and the other might just be one. The story is how they solve the mystery of the second girl’s existence.

It might sound morbid but I was completely drawn in. This children’s book rescued me from my melancholy last night. No, it didn’t fix it. Only time will do that, but it got me through the night. It gave me something else to ponder and took me away to another time and place.

Good books will always do that. They are the best escapism ever. Books put a poultice on our wounds, providing us with a bit of relief, so that time can do the rest. I’ve often heard my readers say they appreciate my romances because of the escapism factor. I don’t think I’ve ever been as proud of that as I am today. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to escape sometimes, especially in such a safe setting. We all need a break here and there. Authors do, too.

I hope you escape to somewhere marvelous and magical this weekend.