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.

Drama-free zone.

I see it all over social media these days. People, many readers, in particular, are shouting, “No drama, please!” I’m inclined to agree.

I’m not talking about good drama, the kind that fuels great books. I’m talking about the sort of melodrama one might find on a reality TV show. Social media has become a dumping ground for bad sentiment. Person A develops a beef with Person B and immediately vents on Facebook or Twitter.

In some cases, Person A has been justified. There are some nasty sorts out there. It’s only natural we get riled up and our friends want to show support. That’s a good thing.

Nevertheless, it can get out of hand. There are those who grow weary of seeing their feeds littered with negativity. In many cases, a negative comment can lead to a positive movement, something many of us witnessed recently in the romance community. It’s wonderful when a hurtful sentiment, meant to tear a spirit down, can result in so many being uplifted instead.

However, not every comment inspires a movement. I’m noticing more and more people posting about keeping their feeds positive. “Be mindful of what you post.” Be mindful, period, as far as I’m concerned. I’ve always been of the opinion you reap what you sow. Be a source of kindness and kindness will return to you. It’s not always easy. We make mistakes but it’s important we develop an awareness. I’m learning everyday. I’ve certainly made my own errors.

Perhaps, when bad things happen to us, we don’t need to share each detail on Facebook. When a co-worker makes a snide remark, perhaps we don’t need to vent on Twitter. Why pollute another person’s day by sharing negativity on our timelines?

I’ve made a personal pledge to steer clear of this sort of drama. I don’t want it in my life and I don’t want it on my feed. Life presents enough challenges. I don’t need to navigate rocky social media waters as well.

I often joke I’m the last person to hear of drama when it occurs. I suppose I can be oblivious, but I’m realizing I prefer if that way, at least in this instance.

Will you join me in this drama-free zone?

 

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.

Vice_EPUB

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_Swallow

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.

Rolling with the social media punches.

Have you noticed how much Facebook has changed since a year or two ago? I remember a time when I would post a comment or a photo and I’d receive a veritable flood of comments and likes. Bear in mind, this is me, not Danielle Steel. Sure, I have some followers, but not millions. And yet I still saw lots of action on my pages.

Nowadays, I post something and if I’m lucky, the proverbial tumbleweed rolls past. Some days, I want to tap my mike and say, “Is this thing on?” In fact, as I publish this post, I am aware of the fact very few people will ultimately see the post on Facebook.

As most of us probably know by now, Facebook has changed its policies and visibility of posts. I get it. They want us to pay to promote our posts. I haven’t done this yet. Call me tight, but I don’t see a need to shell out hard-earned cash to promote my books in this way right now. Maybe that will change. I figure if someone wants to buy my books, they will know where to find them.

I can’t help feeling this might also be a measure to stop rampant promotion. After all, people don’t want to see buy link after buy link. They want to be engaged and to feel as if others are interested in their news as well. I notice that my most popular posts are simple status updates. As soon as I add a picture or a link, the visibility goes down. So what is a writer to do? Resort to updates about what my cat did that morning? No. I want to engage people and promote reading, not just of my books, but others too. I want to share in the love of literature and I would assume anyone who is friends with me wants to do the same.

I’ve dropped out of many of the social media groups I joined as a newbie writer for the same reason. There’s no sense (in my mind anyway) in posting hundreds of links, only to have no one see them. So, again, I seek to engage and have restricted myself to only a select number of groups that interest me.

At the end of the day, as much as we complain about the costs of Facebook and the changes in social media, we probably won’t change them, not while someone is paying those prices. I understand a lot of writers are only too pleased to pay for Facebook ads. More power to you. We do what we have to do. I hope they sell books.

As for me, I would just like to feel connected again. I’ve missed the connection. I never wanted to talk my readers to death. I wanted to hear about their lives as well, and I don’t feel I’m getting that right now. I suppose we’ll just have to roll with the social media punches.

It’s just too bad they don’t always feel “social.”

The writer in submission mode.

Beware all who enter! This writer is in submission mode.

What does that mean? In a nutshell, I have submitted my manuscript to a publisher and I’m now awaiting “The Call.”

Anyone who’s done this before knows the drill. You polish your manuscript until it shines or until your eyes bleed, whichever comes first. You research publishers or self-publishing options and make the choice that you feel best supports and represents your work. You read the submission guidelines on the publisher’s website (thank God we don’t have to send these things by snail mail any longer). As soon as you are ready, you hit “send.”

And then you wait. The wait can often take about twelve weeks, and that’s if the editor isn’t drowning under a massive slush pile.

I remind myself this often. “Don’t check your emails for the fourth time today. They haven’t sent one yet.”

And then I check my emails, you know, just in case my submission reached the editor at a prime moment and she decided she had to have me or die.

No email. (Of course. What did you think, dumbass? These people are busy. They have schedules.)

If I’m being particularly stoic, I might go a day without peeking at my emails. Did I mention I’m not stoic very often? I check my emails again. Nothing.

I remind myself I’m a multi-published author. This publisher would be thrilled to have me on board. I wrote a good book, dammit.

And then I remember the publisher might have already filled their quota of sexy contemporary romances for the month and they might be looking for a book featuring a unicorn heroine who falls in love with a magical tree stump. (By the way, I did not write that book. I don’t suggest you do either.)

I breathe. I check my social media pages and see announcements from friends who got publishing contracts. I shout “Huzzah! I’m so happy for you!” And I am.

I check my emails again. A big part of me dies inside. And this is all by the second day.

Do you see what I’m getting at? We writers are insecure creatures who need constant reassurance. Okay, maybe that’s just me.

I focus on other endeavors. I sign up for yoga. I hear it helps with mindfulness and the tendency to double-check emails. I take a seminar at my day job. I can’t forget I do work elsewhere and need to be mentally present there as well.  I scrub the toilets because I neglected them while writing my goddamn book. I talk to my family members. I do everything I bloody well can to distract me from the notion my literary life hangs in the balance.

What happens if it comes back as a “no?” I move on. I find another publisher. If the previous one was kind enough to offer a critique, I take it to heart and see if I can fix the book. But wait! The book is perfect, right? Why change it just because some editor decided chapter four needs cutting. Well, because those editors are smart. They know stuff. I listen when they talk. They make me a better writer who doesn’t say things like, “They know stuff.”

And then the process begins again. It’s painful but nothing gets my adrenaline pumping more.

Am I a lunatic for putting myself through this? You betcha. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

 

Awakened by a Demoness Cover Reveal.

Awakened by a Demoness – Cover Reveal

awakenedbyademoness-felicityheaton

It’s time for the cover reveal of the next Eternal Mates series book, Awakened by a Demoness. Following on the heels of Bleu and Taryn’s epic romance, Possessed by a Dark Warrior, this more light-hearted story of Rey and Asteria packs action and forbidden romance into a novella that is hotter than Hell on a summer’s day! What better way to celebrate the milestone of the series reaching 10 books?

 

If you haven’t had a chance to step into this passionate and action-packed world of dark elves, fae, demons, vampires, shifters and hunters, then you can take the leap with the first book in the series, Kissed by a Dark Prince, which is only 99c / 99p right now. Find the links to your favourite retailers at: http://www.felicityheaton.co.uk/kissed-by-a-dark-prince-paranormal-romance-novel.php

 

Here’s more about the next book in the series, due for release on May 21st!

 

Awakened by a Demoness (Eternal Mates Romance Series Book 10)
Felicity Heaton
Asteria of the Second Legion of demons has messed up. Royally. With a capital everything. Certain that her dark lord is about to end her in the most painful way imaginable, she’s stunned when the fallen angel offers her an uncharacteristic shot at redemption—and determined not to fail him again. With her life on the line, she sets out on a mission that sounds easy but proves to be far from it when a hot slice of angelic eye candy comes storming into her life, stirring dangerous desires and tempting her more than any male before him.

 

Fifth Commander of the Echelon, the highest order of angels in Heaven and those responsible for hunting demons, he will allow nothing to stand in the way of fulfilling the mission he began close to a century ago so he can finally return to his home. On the verge of securing the half-breed he has been hunting, he can almost taste victory—until a sassy demoness struts into his life, awakening wicked needs and forbidden hungers that will test him to his limit.

 

When their mission brings them on a collision course, can they fight the fierce heat of the passion that blazes between them to claim a victory for their side or will it burn their resistance to ashes and set their hearts on fire with a love both forbidden and eternal?

 

Pre-order your copy of Awakened by a Demoness today at:  http://www.felicityheaton.co.uk/awakened-by-a-demoness-paranormal-romance-book.php  

 

Awakened by a Demoness is due for release in ebook and paperback on May 21st 2016 and will be available from all major online book retailers on that day.

 

Join Felicity’s mailing list to receive a notification when Possessed by a Dark Warrior is released, PLUS a sneak preview of the first 4 chapters of the book and chances to win a signed paperback copy: http://www.felicityheaton.co.uk/newsletter.php

 

Add the book to your Goodreads shelf at: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29409499-awakened-by-a-demoness

 

Books in the Eternal Mates paranormal romance series:

Book 1: Kissed by a Dark Prince

Book 2: Claimed by a Demon King

Book 3: Tempted by a Rogue Prince

Book 4: Hunted by a Jaguar

Book 5: Craved by an Alpha

Book 6: Bitten by a Hellcat

Book 7: Taken by a Dragon

Book 8: Marked by an Assassin

Book 9: Possessed by a Dark Warrior

Book 10: Awakened by a Demoness

Book 11: Haunted by the King of Death – Coming Summer 2016

 

 

About Felicity Heaton:

Felicity Heaton is a New York Times and USA Today international best-selling author writing passionate paranormal romance books. In her books, she creates detailed worlds, twisting plots, mind-blowing action, intense emotion and heart-stopping romances with leading men that vary from dark deadly vampires to sexy shape-shifters and wicked werewolves, to sinful angels and hot demons! If you’re a fan of paranormal romance authors Lara Adrian, J R Ward, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Gena Showalter and Christine Feehan then you will enjoy her books too.

 

If you love your angels a little dark and wicked, the best-selling Her Angel series is for you. If you like strong, powerful, and dark vampires then try the Vampires Realm series or any of her stand-alone vampire romance books. If you’re looking for vampire romances that are sinful, passionate and erotic then try the best-selling Vampire Erotic Theatre series. Or if you prefer huge detailed worlds filled with hot-blooded alpha males in every species, from elves to demons to dragons to shifters and angels, then take a look at the new Eternal Mates series.

 

If you want to know more about Felicity, or want to get in touch, you can find her at the following places:

Website: http://www.felicityheaton.co.uk

Blog: http://www.felicityheaton.co.uk/blog/

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/felicityheaton

Twitter: http://twitter.com/felicityheaton

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/felicityheaton

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/felicityheaton/