Welcome to the NEW My Book Therapy!

Okay, I think i FINALLY got the Feedblitz feed to work after a week of angst — so if you’re getting this in your mailbox, YAY!  I’m so excited to introduce the NEW and Beautiful My Book Therapy site!  I hope you love it as much as i do — be sure and surf around – you’ll find some articles, and info about a retreat we’re putting together (Date TBA!) Also, note the CHAT box — we’ll be having some fun Chat coming up to talk about writing and the writing BIZ.  Also, we finished up our romance talk last week so be sure and read the back articles! 

AND – Heads up to all the ACFW conference attendees — if you’re looking for something to do Friday Night for dinner, My Book Therapy is thinking of having a PIZZA Party!  Just so we can get a tentative head count —  if you’d be interested in attending something like that to meet your fellow Voices, do some brainstorming and win free stuff, email us just a YES, Count me IN! at: booktherapy@susanmaywarren.com  More formal information to come! 

Thanks for being a part of My Book Therapy!  ~ Susie and Rachel

Make them fall in love!

(Note:  I thought I posted this on Tuesday, but it didn’t show up for some reason…so you’re getting it today. *g*)

I spent the weekend driving again – to camp to drop off my sons this time. I saw my daughter looking cute and directing traffic (she’s working at camp for the summer), and stole a few moments with her and her girlfriend (delivering home-made cookies, of course!). The first thing out of her friends’ mouth was…. “I met a boy.” And then I saw it…that sparkle in her eyes, the glow in her expression, the way she hunched her shoulders and giggled. Oh…she met a BOY.

I love to fall in love. (and when you’re married, you get to do it over and over again *g*). And I love to watch others fall in love. To me, that’s my favorite part about writing romance in a novel – the parts where we make them fall for each other.

Today we’re going to touch the two elements in a book that make our characters fall in love…

Entertain Me – I’m going to tell you a trick I use….in every book, I always have a DATE. Something sweet and perfect for the hero and heroine to do that ignites their romance. I love scenes that are out of the ordinary, things that the hero and heroine do that make me smile. Like go fishing. Or play hockey. Or go camping, or cook s’mores. Things that are out of the ordinary leave an impression in my mind and make me enjoy the story more. I want to see him doing little things for her tell me he’s falling for her, even if she doesn’t see it, and vice versa.

Like, in Cutting Edge when Dorsey gives Kate his hockey jersey. She doesn’t like it, but I, the viewer know what it means to him to give it to her.

In every book, I try and create a unique “date” for my hero/heroine, something that might not be a typical date, but something that, if you look in the story, you see as the turning point in their relationship.

One of my favorite scenes in CE is watching Kate and Dorsey jogging together — but it’s not just any jog – they race. Over and over, and as they do, we see their relationship develop, see him beating her, see her plotting on how to win.

Give your characters a creative date!

Dialogue that Sparks – You can’t fall in love without talking to each other. A great romance has witty, spicy dialogue that focuses on drawing out emotions and plot essentials. Make your characters say what they are really feeling, unless of course, it’s part of the plot to have them hide information, and even then they can be sarcastic and rude, and even flippant. I love it when a heroine pushes all the hero’s buttons and drives him to his last nerve. This is where your voice comes alive.

I have a course that teaches how to write great dialogue – but here’s a few essentials:

1. Dance around the issues, don’t confront until later in the book.

2. Say things that will make them believe certain plot or emotional facts about each other that aren’t true. If you reveal everything to each other off the bat, then you have no intrigue to the relationship.

3. Go with your gut. Sometimes, I’ve written my gut feeling into a piece and had to go back and edit it out. But I put their emotions to say what they really feel, if it it’s only in internal dialogue.

4. Speak in run-on and choppy sentences. Don’t make their speech perfect or they will be perfect…and uninteresting.

5. Give them things to taunt each other – (Remember — Toepick! It drives him crazy!)

Make your reader fall in love again, put that sparkle in their eye, that glow on their face as they share in the romance of your characters!

Tomorrow we’re going to talk about the dreaded Black Moment in a romance. See you then!

No, no, it can’t end this way!

Every romance has to have that moment when we as the reader jump up from our chairs and are tempted to throw the book against the wall, furious that these two can’t be together.   In other words – it has to have a BLACK MOMENT.


        Your black moment is where everything goes south.  It’s when the hero loses the heroine, maybe he finds out some truth about her and turns his back, or maybe she finds out something about him and runs away.  Maybe the external obstacles become so large that they can’t be overcome and both turn away.  But you need to force these two apart, and you need to make miserable.  Really despairing, so that they are in a worse place emotionally than they were before they met.  Make us hurt – because only if we really hurt – and they really hurt will we long for them to say, “I don’t care what it takes, I gotta be with him!”


The big black moment in Cutting Edge comes when Kate says she’s going to quit skating – and Dorsey realizes he loves her and doesn’t want it to be over.  And he doesn’t care if he skates, as long as he’s with her…


When you’re deciding what kind of black moment to create, ask:  What would drive these two apart despite their love for each other? 


You see, only in this black moment will they also be poised to change, to see their faults and weaknesses and have the motivation (the thought of living without the person they love) to confront them.  The black moment leads up to the epiphany…and finally…


The Happily Ever After ending!


        Romances should end happily.  Even if something bad happens at the end – lik eone of the characters die – they can still have a moment when their love is sealed forward, and they’ve given each other something that will empower them for their journey alone.  An example of this is Cold Mountain – not your classic romance (mostly because they were in love with the hope of love rather than truly each other), but a romance all the same.  And although it ends sadly, Inman has given his woman the knowledge that she was loved, and that her hopes were not in vain. (and of course, a child.)


        So, give the reader a sigh, something that makes them say, “well, I’m glad I just spent eight hours reading that story.”  The character don’t have to get married, but we do want to see them overcoming their internal obstacles, sacrificing their external obstacles for each other and finding a way to be together.  It’s lovely if, in the end, they think they’re giving up something for each other, but really, they’re gaining the world. Tie up the romance thread and give us a hint as to why they will be together, happily, forever.


In the final scene of CE, Kate and Dorsey skate, and we don’t know if they win the gold, but it doesn’t matter, because she’s found her match… When he says to her… “remember, I said I loved you first,” we know the competitiveness is still alive, yet that is the spark of their relationship, which tells us that they will live happily ever after.  


Whether you’re writing a full-out romance, or just a thread of a romance, these elements will make your romantic thread strong and help weave the story together in a way that will satisfy even those unromantics out there. 


Our next step in the journey is: Overcoming Temptation – where your hero is misled, sometimes by the lack of ability or knowledge, or some weakness in himself.  We’ll be diving briefly into the MIND OF A VILLIAN!  And touching also on the elements of suspense in a story. 


Don’t forget to head over to Voices and let us know what your favorite romances are!  Have a great weekend!


Love me Tender

“Christian Romance, is there such a thing?”

Wow, I sure hope so! But you have no idea how often I’ve heard those words from nice, church-going folks who I know are married and once fell in love.

Today we’re going to take a look, real quickly, at Sexual Tension in a romance.

No, no, no, our Christian books don’t have sex in them. But it doesn’t mean our characters are made of cardboard! You don’t have to say the s-word to create sexual tension. The author can focus it on eyes and lips and thinking about kissing or holding someone…because this is a natural response to the deepening affection characters have for one another. This is a very normal part of their relationship – it’s how far they pursue this normal part that makes a difference (as in every relationship).

It’s normal for character to be thinking about kissing their romantic interest before they kiss…and afterwards. I always like my heroes to ask the woman before he kisses her – and if he doesn’t ask, to allude to the fact that he should have asked. I just think that heroes that go around smacking kisses on a woman are invading her personal space. Unless, of course, she kisses him first.

Here’s the key: But don’t rush the kiss. In fact, if you have to, take that logical place where they would kiss, where the reader wants them to kiss…and then make it not happen. It will build tension in the reader and make them long for the hero and heroine to finally declare their love, and have that first kiss.

I usally have about two great kisses in a book – the first one a surprise, sort of a “really? Is that where this is going?” kind of moment. The second is when they know…yes…He’s the one.

In the Cutting Edge, their first “kiss” is on New Years Eve, and it’s a dud, which builds their tension even more. Kate is engaged and Dorsey knows it and it just infuriates him, which they play out in a hilarious scene where they are trying to decide music for their event. But when they do kiss – it’s a delicious, perfect kiss because we’ve been waiting for it so long.

Don’t be afraid of building in some desire for your characters for each other. After all, we want them to be real, right?

Have a super weekend! We’ll be back next week to finish up our Romance discussion!