Six Sentence Sunday

This week’s six is from BLOOD DRAGON.

Kiellen and Jaden are having dinner together. Despite his best efforts, he is hopelessly attracted to her. He has to keep reminding himself that isn’t okay – not only is she a vampire, but she is the subject of his mission, and has been recently brutalized by the humans he rescued her from. There has to be something very wrong with him thinking of her that way.

She dropped a bit of sesame chicken. His heart stopped. The morsel rested in her cleavage, tempting him to reach over and pluck it out. He bit his tongue to stop his mind from going there.

She laughed at herself and fished the chicken out with her napkin while he stared, fascinated. She glanced up and caught his eye and froze for a moment. 

Kiellen is about to find out exactly what Jaden thinks of his attraction to her.

Advertisements

Book Review: Short Stories by Angel

Angel

Born: November 19
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Angel was born in the small town of Humboldt,TN. She’s currently going to college
online at The International Academy of Design and Development going for her Associates degree in Web Design and Development.
Angel is a mother of two. When she’s not writing, she enjoys playing video games, listening to music, reading, and relaxing.

Angelsworld
Angel’s LinkedIn Profile
Angel on Facebook
Angel on Twitter

Desires

A Short Story by Angel

Publisher: Sugar and Spice

Erotic Romance – Contemporary

Menage – f/f/m, m/f/m

Purchase “Desires” on Amazon

Blurb: Daphne is a single mom who isn’t sure if she’s ready for love and commitment. She was used to having her way. Almost every fantasy she’d ever had, Gideon fulfilled. Will she leave or will her every Desire come true?

Summary: Truck-driver Daphne fantasizes about sex with Star and Gideon. Gideon arrives and he and Daphne have sex, and he reveals he loves her. Her regular casual hook-up, Daemon, shows up and joins in the fun one last time.

My Thoughts: Nit-picky stuff first, distracting little crap. The mechanics of the writing are pretty good, without major grammar, spelling, or punctuation mistakes, and I only spotted one or two typos. The sentences are fairly well constructed and easy to read.

There’s quite a bit of action between the sheets in this short story, but it isn’t as detailed as it could be. With little in the way of emotion or description of sensation, the sex scenes were almost – not quite, but almost – anatomy lessons. The character growth and conflict resolutions feel a bit contrived.

Angel spent a lot of time in the characters’ heads with them reflecting, and showing their backgrounds, rather than in current action or dialog. In a short story, there just isn’t enough words or time to do that.

Over-all, I’m giving this story 2 ½ Flames.

Wanting

   A Short Story by Angel

Publisher: Sugar and Spice

Genre: Contemporary Romance with Paranormal elements.

Hetero

Purchase “Wanting” on Amazon

Blurb: Heather and Jasper had been through everything together. After his divorce, she thought she’d never reach him again. Will she be able to heal him and his son?

Or will he forever leave her Wanting?

Summary: Jasper’s wife screwed him over, and his friend Heather was there to pick up the pieces. Heather puts her life on hold to help Jasper, but doesn’t admit to him that she loves him. He finally figures it out, and reveals that he loves her, too.

My Thoughts: The mechanics of the writing – grammar, spelling, punctuation, sentence construction – are all good. I didn’t have to try and puzzle out what Angel was saying.

The story opens in real-time, but moves quickly into a long flash-back to show why Jasper’s head was so screwed up. I think the story would have been better served by limiting the flashback to a paragraph, two at most, and spending more time with the growth of Jasper’s relationship with Heather.

Jasper and Heather both spend time fantasizing about each other, with one real-time sex scene. There was some emotion and description of sensation, but the scenes didn’t get as much page-time as they deserved.

Heather is Pagan, a witch, and works spells to help Jasper and his son heal from the betrayal of his wife. Though the scene was a bit glossed over, the parts that were shown were accurate.

Over-all, I’m giving this story 2 ¾ Flames

Falling In

A Short Story by Angel

Publisher: Wicked Nights

Genre: Contemporary Romance with Paranormal elements.

Purchase “Falling In” on Amazon

Blurb: Miriam was in love with her best friend. Will her love be able to penetrate

the poison and ill content another woman has placed in his heart?
Or will she be forever ‘Falling In’?

Summary: Miriam is in love with her best friend, Sean, but he’s involved with another woman. When the other woman dumps him, he’s actually relieved. Miriam confesses her love, and Sean realizes Miriam is the one for him.

My Thoughts: Again, Angel shows good writing mechanics – grammar, spelling, punctuation, and sentence construction.

Angel spends quite a lot of time with the characters reflecting on their feelings, but it is balanced a bit with action and dialog, which keeps the story from being too slow. After Sean’s thoughts of wanting to work things out with his current love, I was surprised at how easily he accepted being dumped.

Miriam’s natural abilities and beginning study of witchcraft are well portrayed. Miriam’s lack of self-confidence seemed a little at odds with a woman who just tells her best friend that she loves him, out of the blue.

Overall, I’m giving this story 3 Flames.

Conclusion:

These stories feel to me like they’re written fairly early in a writer’s journey of learning the craft. As Angel continues to write, I believe she will grow and progress. She has potential that’s certainly worth watching.

Six Sentence Sunday

This week’s Six is from the first draft of BLOOD DRAGON II. The hero, 300+ year-old vampire Chayton King, has just announced his intention to seduce weredragon Ardrianna Bennett, the Enforcer sent to investigate a break-in at his apartment. Never mind that they’ve just met – King is used to having everything, and everyone, he wants. And he wants Ardrianna. They’ve struck a bargain a moment before this snippet – she will allow him one kiss, and if she can say she doesn’t want more, he will back off, at least until she finishes her mission.

Ardrianna stared up at him, lips parted. The sudden urge to run struck her. This male was a master at seduction, and far out of her league. An insane thought struck – if she didn’t flee, she would lose her heart to him. Ridiculous.

Guess what’s next…

Writer Wednesday: 6 Steps To Diversity In Fiction

Not so long ago, an American author could pretty much count on having an exclusively North American audience, unless their work was translated into other languages. It was the same for writers of other nationalities – the vast majority of their readers would be from their home country. Thanks to the internet and satellite communication, that is no longer the case. I speak regularly with friends and acquaintances from all over the world. South Africa. New Zealand. Namibia. Hungary. Great Britain. Argentina. The list is endless. They read many of the same books I do, in English.

The world grows smaller every day. I think it’s important that our work reflect the diversity of our readers. How do we go about doing that in a way that: 1.)isn’t offensive, and 2.)is realistic? Changing skin color and dialogue that conforms to racial stereotypes is certainly NOT the answer, even though some writers seem to think it is. Giving the character the “accurate” clothing and taste in music for their race isn’t the answer either.

The writer who chooses to use those “techniques” is either too lazy to do it correctly, or they just don’t know how. Either way, it’s poor writing. I’m not an expert, by any means, but I have picked up a few things. Making our writing racially diverse is much more complicated. The steps below will help, though they are not all-inclusive.

  1. Decide on a mix of ethnicities that fit your setting. For example, in a tiny town in rural Kentucky, you wouldn’t expect to see a group made of up Caucasian, African American, Asian American, and Hispanic American teenagers. While such a group is possible, it is hardly the norm, which will make it a bit less than believable, if that’s what you’re going for. To help decide the ethnic makeup of your group, look up census reports for a community like the one you are writing about in a location as near as possible to your setting. The ethnic composition of the community will show you the likely makeup of your hypothetical group of teens.
  2. Once you’ve determined the races of your teens, it’s time to go deeper. It’s common for people who aren’t extremely well acquainted with people of other races to have stereotypical expectations of members of those other races. But the fact is, most people don’t line up neatly within racial stereotypes. Remember, your characters are people, with a specific gender and a specific age, before they’re members of races.
  3. Remember that hypothetical group of teens? You need to know their cultural background, as well as their personal history. Each ethnicity has its own history and culture, which is going to have some effect on who your characters are. Things as obvious as speech patterns and holidays, to how children are disciplined. When you know the cultural background of the character, you can decide how that background affects the character.
  4. Personal history will tell you more about the character. People raised in a large city will be different from those raised in a small town. The character’s family income will determine things like peer groups, education, career paths, etc. Those factors will also affect speech pattern, as well as behavior, beliefs and morals, tastes in music and clothing, etc.
  5. Your setting will also influence your characters, as it would in any type of fiction. A lone African American student in a classroom full of Caucasian kids is going to act differently than one in a classroom of mixed ethnicities. Crime rates, ethnic mix, economics and the like of the story setting will, to some degree, determine what the characters do and what happens to them.
  6. Of course, if you’re writing fantasy or science fiction, or an alternate reality or alternate history, real ethnicities may be different from the ones you are writing about. Still, the same principles apply.

If you want to create dynamic, well-rounded characters, with realistic dialog and interactions, each character should reflect their individual racial, cultural, family, and personal backgrounds. When you know those backgrounds, you’ll be able to select which qualities your characters will have, rather than relying on tired old racial stereotypes that no one fits into.

New Feature: Sharing Saturday

I come across some fabulous websites as I interact with readers and other writers, and various people who don’t mind answering really weird questions from a complete stranger. Somehow, just adding a link to the sidebar doesn’t seem enough for those sites. So, I’m going to start sharing those links with you here on Saturdays, once or twice a month. Some will be of interest only to other writers, some to both readers and writers, and some will just be general interest. If you’d like to suggest a site or blog to add to Sharing Saturday, just leave a comment, or drop me an email at kenradaniels AT gmail DOT com.

Today, I have 2 Shares.

SheWrites.com will be of interest to female writers. This online community is made up of women writers of all levels and all kinds of material from all over the world. Everything from novices to multi-published authors. The entire community is geared toward helping each other achieve goals in writing. Those with more experience freely give information and advice to those with less. If you’re female, and a writer, you definitely won’t regret the free membership!

Readers and writers who are interested in Horror, Dark Fantasy, and anything with Dark elements will love Dark Media City. In addition to books DMC is also all about movies, videos, music, and art. You like zombies? How about vampires? Werewolves? Death? Darkness? You’ll find it all at DMC, along with regular chats and interviews with the creators of all that darkness. You can share your own work, or just enjoy that of other members, all while getting to know others who like the same things. Last but not least – membership is free!

That’s it for today. Watch for another Sharing Saturday in the coming weeks.

Romance Novel Pet Peeves Part 2

This one really isn’t about the actual novels, but about those who criticize Romance as a genre. In recent months, various people, from writers of literary fiction to someone calling herself an expert in psychology, have publicly bashed Romance.

Romance novels have been called everything from unrealistic and unimaginative to outright dangerous. The image of romance readers as vapid housewives fanning themselves and eating bonbons while reading about a pirate ravishing a virgin still prevails in some minds. The so-called danger comes in with accusations that Romance novels cause readers to have unrealistic expectations for their relationships. Readers supposedly expect their balding, slightly overweight accountant husband to behave like the virile, dashing hero. When the hero doesn’t fulfill those expectations, the reader becomes dissatisfied with her life.

While other genres are allowed to be blatantly unrealistic, with elves and fairies, aliens and spaceships, Romance is criticized for being unrealistic. The characters and relationships, the central focus of the book, bears the brunt of this criticism. A hero who is willing to listen to his heroine, or put her before himself, or even have her best interests at heart, is too unrealistic, as is the man who swoops to the rescue. Well, duh! The idea is to take the reader to a different place, where her dreams of the perfect man are realized, not where the man would rather watch the game and drink beer than spend time with her. The heroine draws her share of the hate, too, never mind that she’s meant to be the kind of woman the reader can wish circumstances allowed her to be.

And then there’s the belief that all Romance novels are written by the same formula. The only thing that changes, such critics say, is the name of the characters and details of the circumstances or conflict. This one is hard to refute at times, especially when some writers believe it as well. The fact is, some writers find a combination of factors that works for them, and continue to use it. Others start from scratch every single time. Part of what perpetuates this myth is that, in order to be a Romance, the focus of the novel must be the couple and their developing relationship, and there must be a Happily Ever After, or Happily For Now ending. Regardless of what other elements are present, if those aren’t there, it isn’t a Romance.

One of my favorites is the belief that Romance novels are easier to write than any other genre. People think all you do is plug the variables into the equation, add an exotic location, and viola, you have a Romance novel. Sorry, just not true. It doesn’t work that way. If anything, it’s more difficult to write a good romance, especially one of the many sub-genres. The author has to combine the romance with elements of another genre in a way that’s balanced, and satisfies the reader. A plot is absolutely essential. There has to be a source of conflict, either from outside sources, or internal – and in some cases, both. And the conflict must have a satisfactory solution.

And everyone knows Romance is full of poor writing and purple prose. Again, just not true. The quality of the writing in a Romance novel is just as high as any other genre. Sure, it might not be full of convoluted sentences and obscure words, but the standards are high for both traditionally, and e-published, novels. (Just like in any genre, self-published, or indie, novels vary in quality, depending on the ability of the writer and whether they’ve put the in the necessary time and work to prepare the book for publication.) As for the purple prose – yes, Romance novels written 20 or more years ago commonly used euphemism and purple prose to refer to the body parts and actions in intimate scenes. Social mores were different then, and the frank language of today wasn’t tolerated as well then. Today’s romances are written with mature language and eschew purple prose as much as any other genre.

To all those critics of Romance as a genre, I say: Our readers are educated and accomplished, from powerful CEOs, trial attorneys, teachers, parents and grad students. Our characters are as solid and well developed, maybe more so because of the very nature of Romance, as those of any other genre. Our stories are as well plotted and imaginative, and well written as those of any other genre. Our vocabulary is as complex and varied as as that of any other genre – with the possible exception of the fact that we don’t normally use obscure words that require our readers to stop every few sentences to refer to their collegiate dictionary. Yes, we write about fantastic heroes and heroines that our readers can imagine themselves in the place of. Rather than creating unrealistic expectations of relationships, our stories often inform readers of the ideal relationship. Sometimes, they have no other point of reference for ideal relationship standards. Yes, we do write fiction that allows our readers to escape their every day life for a while. Doesn’t everyone?

The following links are from both detractors and defenders of Romance as a genre.

What do you think? Are the critics right about Romance? Is their position founded on fact?

Six Sentence Sunday

This week’s Six is from the opening scene of BLOOD DRAGON. Jaden is in a nightclub, waiting for friends to arrive.

An approaching heartbeat drew her attention. The cutie from the next table stood beside her, as tall as she’d hoped, hand out. “I’m Tommy.”

The rush of awareness his smooth voice roused wasn’t unexpected. She’d mentally prepared herself for an evening of physical responses to random stimuli. She shook his hand, then motioned for him to take a seat at her table. 

This moment seals Jaden’s fate, and everything that comes after is a direct result.