Monday, February 17, 2020

My Kinda Hero: A Purrfect Romance Week


I have always loved curling up on the couch with a good book. But I'll admit, curling up on the couch with my DVD collection and choosing an oldie-but-goodie love story is a purrfect pastime too.
For Hero week on The Writer's Alley, let's chat about the men in my DVD collection! In the comments, would love for you to share yours...and any CBA/Clean read heroes you can think of that might fall under each of the following categories:

(And don't forget to check out the info below for a fun opportunity to celebrate Heroes later this week and an ADDITIONAL giveaway to the Purrfect Romance Alleycat bundle)!


BOY NEXT DOOR TURNED MAN: They are the guys who’ve always been there. They see their heroine through awkward stages, not-so-great stages, and the woman they’ve become. These men have grown up, just like their heroine, but their soft side for the heroine offers hope in all she’s lost and has come home to find again. From my collection:

  • Matty from Thirteen going on Thirty 
  • Jake from Sweet Home Alabama
  • Justin from Hope Floats 


ENEMIES...OR NOT: It’s always fun to see the trope of a hate-love relationship where the love wins in the end. Whether there is a secret being covered up, or a conflict of interest, the hero finds redemption when his vulnerable side comes out—his family life woos the heroine—or the heroine brings out his own soft side beyond their conflict. It’s always fun to see how the writers will bank on the moments that crack the tough exterior. From my collection:

  •  Andrew from The Proposal 
  •  Ben from How To Lose A Guy in Ten Days 
  •  Joe from You’ve Got Mail 


SECOND CHANCE AT LOVE: They’ve loved before. And they aren’t quite sure they can love again. As an audience member, it’s easy to fall in love with a hero who gave his heart away only to return with a wound. We want to help them in their pain, we want to drag them along and stand them right in front of the heroine and say, "hey, look at him"! These heroes have backstories wrapped up in a different woman, but all they’ve gone through brings them to a new heroine and the love story of a lifetime. From my collection:

  • Bob from Return To Me 
  • Sam from Sleepless In Seattle
  • Graham and Miles from The Holiday


MORE HERO TALK! You can nominate your favorite heroes in CBA or Clean Reads by checking out the pinned post at the Heroes on The Red Carpet Event . Be sure to join in the fun on Thursday night! 


YOUR TURN: Comment for a chance to win the Purrfect Romance giveaway. Any good romantic heroes to add to the list? How about your favorite in CBA or clean reads? 

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Angie Dicken credits her love of story to reading British literature during life as a military kid in England. Now living in the U.S. heartland, she's a member of ACFW, sharing about author life with her fellow Alley Cats on The Writer's Alley blog and Facebook page. Besides writing, she is a busy mom of four and works in Adult Ministry. Angie writes historical romance and historical fiction. She enjoys eclectic new restaurants, authentic conversation with friends, and date nights with her Texas Aggie husband. 



Find her on:

Website: angiedicken.com

Monday, February 10, 2020

Romantic Gestures...the many 'expressions' of Love



Pepper here, and we're talking about Romantic Gestures today!!
How do people in books and movies (and real-life) show love? Oh!! Let's count the ways :-)
Let's start with the little ways :-)

Small gestures
These are "simple" everyday ways of showing love.
Let's hear what some readers have to say about examples of this type of love expression:
Kristine: He goes out on below-zero days to clean off her vehicle and starts the car so it's warm when she leaves for work."
Summer: A foot rub after a long day of work, putting the kids to bed.
Denise: Getting up and making coffee every day before she leaves for work, even though he doesn't HAVE to get up for two more hours.
Rachel: sweet notes hidden around the house, or a note "just because"
Paula: writing a poem on their 48th anniversary and showing love by going shopping with her (because he hates shopping).
Author Janine Rosche added: I love a good running of fingers through hair.

Other ways: using his/her skills to build something unique for the one they love. Supporting the other person's dreams/passions/likes. Giving the other person time and resources (when possible) to explore those interests. Finding ways to keep each other safe. Keeping a letter/book/gift of your beloved because it came from or belonged to them. Or Colonel Brandon staring with such rapt wonder at Marianne as she plays the piano in Sense and Sensibility. Sacrifice can be small or big, so can acts of protection.

One of the most romantic gestures EVER (which fits into both small and grand gestures category) is KNOWING the "loved" person by listening, remembering, and finding ways to express they've "heard" you and want to celebrate the things that matter to you!

Grand gestures
These are the ones that are usually celebrated on movies, right? "Big" things.
Does the hero uproot his life in order to be with the heroine? Does he work all summer on a project in order to pay for something the heroine wanted? A trip for her to take? Does she race across an airport and get on the intercom to stop him from catching his flight so she can tell him she loves him?...um...oh wait...I digress ;-)

Julia Lynch reminded me of Gilbert Blythe giving up the Avonlea school for Anne.
In my case, my husband worked out our finances so that we could take a trip to Ireland at the end of March (for ME...because I love traveling/research. Him? Not so much :-)

Bottom line: Time and intention are super romantic, no matter how big or how small. 

Non-kiss touches
Romantic touches come in all shapes and sizes...and they can be just as unique to the couple as favorite gestures, but there are a few that show the sweetness and meaningfulness of touch.
Stacey shared that her husband will take her in his arms when she gets home and say, "I'm so glad I get to be home with you." (cue the 'aww').

What about the moment on North & South with the hero and heroine touch fingers while she's serving him tea? A guy pushing back a girl's hair from her face? A hand to the small of the back? Linking arms as two lovers walk? Holding hands? Caresses to the face (super intimate). Dancing. Tender glances. HUGS!! (and so many more).

Kissing
Okay, so this is one of my favorites, but I have to tell you, I'm not a fan of watching kisses on movies if the couple looks like they're trying to eat each others' faces off. I do love kisses like..well, as I mentioned above, the kiss in North & South!! Tender, gentle, intentional, sweet...Mama Mia!!!

A kiss is NOT just a kiss!

Romantic kisses come with stories behind them.
There is intention, knowledge of each other, care, and, yes, there can be a sense of awe and passion too!

Kisses of love are expressions of something that's already happening in the heart and, in my opinion, are just extensions of the appreciation, knowledge, tenderness, and delight two people have in (and for) each other. Without the story behind the kiss, there really isn't any romance in it.
Kisses are kind of like the exclamation marks of a million conversations between two people who love each other. 

Words
It goes without saying...hee hee...words DO matter in romance. But it's more than just sweet words. Of course, there are compliments and expressions of appreciation, but there are also thoughtful discussions, intelligent conversations, careful questions to show care, encouragement, healthy debates, and so much more.

One note about the art of innuendo: It's a beautiful thing to see subtlety in stories that show the love and romance growing between characters - the messages between the lines. Even in those more "intimate" moments that are tastefully and beautifully rendered.

Author Rachel McMillan reminded me that there are some beautifully subtle expressions of love shown in the movie/book The Magic of Ordinary Days when Ray begins reading archaeology books so that he can have something to talk to Livy about (and so she won't feel alone). What about Mr. Knightley's rushing back from London to check on Emma's wellbeing after he finds out about Churchhill's engagement?

A few recommendations from Rachel regarding well-written intimate innuendo in romance is Laura Frantz's The Lacemaker, Jolina Petersheim's How the Light Gets In, Deanne Gist's Tiffany Girl, and Kate Breslin's As High as the Heavens...for a start :-)

I'd LOVE to hear about some of your favorite romantic gestures shown in movies, books or REAL LIFE...and, to make things more interesting, you can't list the kissing ones :-)

Plus, join me on Thursday evening at 8am EST for a FB live chat about Romantic Gestures in fiction & movies! Bring some examples from your favorites and we'll swoon together :-)Let's talk romance!
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Pepper Basham is an award-winning author who writes romance peppered with grace and humor. Both her historical and contemporary novels have garnered recognition in the Grace Awards, Inspys, and ACFW's Genesis and Carol Awards. Her historical romance, The Thorn Healer, was a finalist in the 2018 RT Awards. Her most recent historical romance, My Heart Belongs in the Blue Ridge, showcases her Appalachian heritage and family history, as well as her love for humor, the mountains, and family. She currently resides in the lovely mountains of Asheville, NC, where she is the mom of five great kids, a speech-language pathologist to dozens more, and a love for chocolate, jazz, hats, and Jesus. Pepper loves to connect with readers and other authors through social media outlets like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Learn more about her and her books at www.pepperdbasham.com

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Monday, February 3, 2020

The Purrfect Romance - Why Romance?


Pepper Basham here! And guess what?

It’s February.

And you know what that means?!?

ROMANCE TALK!!!

Of course, as many of you know, I’m a big fan of romance-talk all year long, but February gives me a little extra excuse to celebrate big time! 

Speaking of big…the romance genre is the largest selling fiction genre out there – mainstream or Christian. So…maybe there are lots more people than just ME who find romance fascinating all year round too 😊…(Yes, I’m looking at all of you people who keep the Hallmark channel on 24/7 😉 #mypeople


Have you ever wondered WHY romance is such a "hot” commodity?

Well, here are a few of my thoughts, but I’d LOVE to hear yours too!
1.     We love STORY. It’s in our genes. For millennia, story has been the way to captivate, explain, inspire, capture memories, provide encouragement, and offer hope. Histories are made up of STORIES. Jesus used stories to teach deeper truths in a winsome way. So, while romances are stories about relationships, growth, and love…at the heart, they’re stories.


2.     Relationships without the everyday commercials - Most readers of romance are women…and we enjoy watching relationships happen. Even moreso, we like to see things turn out well (thus the reason why most romances are happily-ever-afters- HEA). If you’re like me and want to ‘fix’ everything, but know you’re human and haven’t been bitten by that radioactive spider yet, fiction provides a wonderfully condensed way for us to see broken people in broken relationships find fulfillment, community, and love within a few hundred pages and everything is FIXED (with all the mundane laundry, vacuuming, and toilet cleaning taken out to keep the pace going). 

3.     Escape – Stories provide a way for us to travel, experience, enjoy, and learn from worlds, people, and places that we’d never see in real life. And, most readers aren’t looking for a ‘real’ escape from their lives, but, similar to a vacation, romances provide a little bit of ‘magic’ in the everydayness of life. Instead of turning on the television to escape into a sports game, romance readers flip open the page. (or maybe they do both. Touchdown!)

4.     HEA – let’s go back to that for just a minute because there’s something to this! According to Psychology Today, readers of romance novels are not a population of women who are pining away for unrealistic or unmet expectations, but in fact, are people who are “happier overall” (https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-real-story-risk/201212/the-allure-romance) Why? Because, as Peter Pan so wonderfully pointed out to Wendy Darling…HAPPY THOUGHTS make you fly!!  So…in other words, the way of our thoughts goes the way of our behavior and perspective (hmm…that sounds Biblical! Philippians 4 for a start) 😊

      So, let’s get those thoughts shifted in a happily romantic direction!


We, here at The Writer’s Alley (affectionately called Alleycats), are so excited to celebrate this month of Purrfect Romance with you!! In fact, you’re so important to our celebration, we want to make sure you get involved. How, you might ask?

Let me count the ways 😊


1.     This Thursday we’re going to have our first Instagram Slam. What is an Instagram Slam? Well, it’s when we take over Instagram to post your FAVORITE romance books of all time!!! (okay…or of the last 6 months. “Of all time” is too big for some of us to handle). We’ll spend all day on Thursday, February 6th, ‘showing the love’ of romance books that have left us feeling all the wonderfully romantic HEA feels. Don’t forget to tag the featured author, share it with us (@alleycatwriters), AND use some of the hashtags #PurrfectRomance, #AlleyCatWritersSlam or #InstagramSlam. We also have a graphic you can grab from down below to add to your post!!...check it out:



2.     Next week, we’re talking KISSES and I plan to host a FB LIVE, so bring some of your favorite fictional kissing books to the table for some lipsmacking conversations. You know I’ll bring mine 😉

3.     The week of February 17th, AlleyCat, Angie Dicken, will be chatting about top romantic heroes and why we love them, following with a FB live later in the week. 

4.     And the last week of February, Angie will bring to light some fantastic romantic heroines and the two of us (Angie and Pepper) hope to offer a FB live together later in the week to discuss YOUR favorite heroines in romantic fiction.

Icing on top of the love cake?



We have an awesome giveaway planned for those who participate. All you have to do is comment on this post to be added to the drawing…and each additional comment you make on the other posts throughout the month will be an additional entry for you!

Now, let's talk! Why do YOU read romance?
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Pepper Basham is an award-winning author who writes romance peppered with grace and humor with southern Appalachian flair. Both her historical and contemporary novels have garnered recognition in the Grace Awards, Inspys, and ACFW Carol Awards. Her historical romance, The Thorn Healer, was a finalist in the 2018 RT Awards. Her most recent historical romance, My Heart Belongs in the Blue Ridge, showcases her Appalachian heritage and family history, as well as her love for humor and family. She currently resides in the lovely mountains of Asheville, NC where she is the mom of five great kids, a speech-language pathologist to about fifty more, and a lover of chocolate, jazz, hats, and Jesus.

Pepper loves getting to know readers and other authors through social media outlets like Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. You may also learn more about her on her website at www.pepperdbasham.com

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Tipful Tuesday: The Key to Writing a Memorable Story Is...




The key to writing a memorable, lasting, bring-the-reader-back-for-more story is:

You.

Seriously. Our stories are best, the scenes flow, the characters are genuine when we insert the experiences from life rather than sit at the screen and attempt to create what happened next. Using these experiences will make the scene natural--and--it will intrigue, interest, and invite readers to want more.

Here's an example. Yesterday, I wrote this scene: younger adult brother arrives at older sister's house. He hasn't seen her in four years, and he didn't tell her he would visit. She opens the door. We are in his POV

To play the scene out, the worst I could do at this point is have the sister break into tears. Tears of joy, tears of memories. So happy to see him tears. etc. 

The second worst I could do to portray the scene is to have her ask a million questions. "What are you doing here?" "I didn't know you were coming? "How have you been?"etc.

Both of these would be expected. Have been done a million times. Reasons for readers to scan over the scene until something good happens.

Instead, I considered my own family dynamics. Four girls and one boy. I was an older sister to my brother. Being the perfect, wonderful person that I am, I couldn't possibly help this poor male character in this moment. BUT, I recalled MANY stories told by my husband. He, the younger brother of an older sister. Oh the tales he spun of his youth. The terrible sister, that he really loves. The horrible things she did, that he never retaliated for. Uh huh.

Yes, now I had great fodder for a humorous scene. She opens the door, and while projecting her absolute joy at his unexpected visit, she casts out the first insult, the kind only a sister shares with her brother while holding the door open for him. He returns the favor with brotherly harassing, picks up his suitcase and walks inside. In the muddled flinging of banter from days gone by, seasoned with grins and laughter, they greet each other and are now ready to move forward in the scene. Oh yes. This reads really well and hopefully leaves the reader feeling at home with these characters.

I've used my favorite childhood cake made by my grandmother who always ripped open the label in the store to read the ingredients. The cashier always wondered why she bought an open package. Grandma said the cake didn't taste as good when she didn't. See? 

When you sprinkle you into your stories, they will flow and be memorable. This, by the way is your voice. 

Your turn. Think of a memory from the past that could flavor a scene in your story. OR, tell one that you have used in a story already written. I'm excited to read them. :)


~Mary Vee
Photo by Mary Vee




Link to Mary's books: https://amzn.to/2Fq4Jbm

Mary loves to travel to places like New York City and Paris. Mary has been a finalist in several writing contests and writes for her king.  

Visit Mary at her WebsiteBlog, and her ministry blog to families: God Loves Kids. Or chat on Facebook or Twitter


Tuesday, January 7, 2020

TipfulTuesday: The Hidden Promise In Our Stories


I confess. I am one of "those" shoppers who walk through a bookstore, glancing at covers and titles, seeking one to pick up and peruse.

The huge Barnes and Nobel in my mall put up a new display for "new releases". I glanced through the forty books beautifully shelved. Sadly only one cover caught my attention. I walked on to the next display.

My point today will not be that a great cover sells. Although it sure helps.

My point also is not the title, back cover, and/or the first page enhances sales...although they seem to.

The key to a fabulous book is this: If a reader is enticed to buy a book, then takes it home and snuggles up in their comfy living room chair, opens the cover and doesn't read the whole story in her normal time, she will set down the book with the fabulous cover, amazing title, enticing back cover, and intriguing first page and most likely not pick it up again.

One writing instructor (sorry can't remember which one of the many I've heard) said:

We the writers make a contract with the reader, 
promising a story that will follow a course so compelling
she has to turn every page until the last.

This year, let's focus on ... not so much fixing a sagging middle, although this too is important--

But a growing overarching story that, like blowing up a balloon, expands, becoming with each word. Becoming what? Why the next recommended book by very appreciative readers.

For this reason, I chose today's photo. Colorful, cheery, glass-blown balloons floating in a Venetian store.

Some pitfalls to watch for:

1. While your MC should have a problem that gives the story purpose, she must be likable. Think Cinderella. We love her and feel for her plight from the beginning. Had the stepmother been the MC we probably would have put the book down.
2. When adding backstory, be careful not to repeat. Even when sprinkling in this essential information, as we are taught to do, readers will remember what was said before.
3. Shake up the beats. Lordy, lordy, do people really cry so much? Smile so much? Laugh so much? Instead, use setting, sounds, nature, anything that "is" to shake up those beats. Expand this essential storytelling time to bring meaning to the scene. Help readers see.

Let's aim for stories that "Become" until the last page.

~Mary Vee
Photo by Mary Vee




Link to Mary's books: https://amzn.to/2Fq4Jbm

Christmas is Mary Vee's favorite holiday. She loves to travel to places like New York City and Paris. Mary has been a finalist in several writing contests and writes for her king.  

Visit Mary at her WebsiteBlog, and her ministry blog to families: God Loves Kids. Or chat on Facebook or Twitter




Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Merry Christmas



We are so happy to spend another Christmas with you. 


As writers, we are ever on the lookout for fresh, inviting ways to make our narrative and dialogue inviting. 

I love Christmas stories. Yes, even the Hallmark ones! And while the stories repeat the same message, they somehow invite us to read or watch yet another story. 

Whether you have a manuscript that takes place during the Christmas season or another time of the year, you can use Christmas when describing. Seriously! Because of God’s goodness, it is timeless. 

So, I'm hoping you will help grow this Christmas list for all of us to morph, borrow, or simply use:

Sweet like candy cane (use in kissing scene)
Warm as Christmas fire (hugs, kindness, etc.)
Merry as a child opening a Christmas gift
Joyful as Christmas music (spirit)
Sparkling like Christmas lights (eyes)


Your turn: Add an inviting Christmas picture to our list. 

Merry Christmas!
~Mary Vee
Photo by Mary Vee




Link to Mary's books: https://amzn.to/2Fq4Jbm

Christmas is Mary Vee's favorite holiday. She loves to travel to places like New York City and Paris. Mary has been a finalist in several writing contests and writes for her king.  

Visit Mary at her WebsiteBlog, and her ministry blog to families: God Loves Kids. Or chat on Facebook or Twitter




Tuesday, December 10, 2019

The God Effect in Stories




Even as writers we don't always see details or truths or influences flowing in our books. 

Not all readers will either. 

BUT there are the many who will notice amazing details that spark their interest, cause them to think and respond to ... well... us, and their friends, and ... others.

This week I posted a photo. My thoughts: this is a dreamy place. A dock reaching out to a lake surrounded with trees. The unique aspect from my pov: part of the dock is underwater. This looks good... I thought. It was a photo story.

More than almost any other photo I've posted, this one sparked many responses. A few responders mentioned the dreamy doc setting. BUT the majority noticed a detail I had not.

In the foreground, small, and not in my thoughts, was a tool my husband uses. It rested on a wooden plank. Underwater. Although silver, it didn't especially stand out since the sun didn't reflect the shiny surface. Commenters asked questions that grew into conversations. 

How odd, I thought. I didn't even see it there when I took the photo.

As writers called by God to tell stories, we describe scenes, use interesting dialogue, explode action on the page, and develop relationships. Behind the scenes, God is using our work to touch lives in ways we don't even realize.

If this isn't incentive to set aside time to write, edit, and write more, I don't know what is. Our stories are important in ways we don't understand.  A tool used by God to impact someone we may not know...for His glory. Perhaps the story you have written or are writing is God's tool to impact your life.

So, friend, ready to write?

Has a reader pointed out something amazing in your story you didn't see?

#story #writing #behindthescenes #MaryVeeWriter #Godeffect #thewritersalleyblog

~Mary Vee
Photo by Mary Vee





Link to Mary's books: https://amzn.to/2Fq4Jbm

Christmas is Mary Vee's favorite holiday. She loves to travel to places like New York City and Paris. Mary has been a finalist in several writing contests and writes for her king.  

Visit Mary at her WebsiteBlog, and her ministry blog to families: God Loves Kids. Or chat on Facebook or Twitter