29 May 2013

Guest post - Skylar Kade

Today I'm pleased to be hosting a guest post from one of my writing buddies, author Skylar Kade, as part of her Heat up the Night blog tour.  :3 

So, without further ado,I give you her guest post about writing:

Writing Punchy Sentences

Writing 101: Write good sentences. But what the hell does that even mean? Most beginning writers will load their sentences with vivid adjectives and adverbs and wildly imaginative verbs.

But this may not actually accomplish what you want—a sentence that punches right at the reader’s psyche. In romance, this is especially important because when you’re dealing with stories about sex and love, you want to bypass the logical forebrain and have the characters’ trials hit the reader as if they were their own.

In this scenario, our heroine is getting ready to have sex with the hero for the first time. We’re going to take the most basic sentence that summarizes her feelings, and looks at ways to take it from blah to punched up. Remember—not every sentence has to hit this level of precision, but this is a good way to selectively hit the reader in the face (or the heart, if you’re into that kind of romance) on occasion.

WHAT WE WANT TO EXPRESS: She felt excited.

This isn’t a bad sentence, per se. It’s just bland. You’re not giving the reader any access points, or ways to approximate what she’s feeling. Is she excited and nervous? How does she experience excitement--what does it feel like to her? “Felt” is what I like to call a nothing verb. You’re telling the reader she’s experiencing something, but in an empty way. Don’t get me wrong—feel is a great verb, and I use it in my writing. But when you’re going for a scene of high emotion or high intensity, every word counts.

IMPROVED SENTENCE: She thrilled at the excitement flooding rapidly through her body.

To me, this is a little heavy-handed, and it has three main issues. First, we have the same problem with “thrilled” as we did with “feel”—it’s kind of a nothing verb. We want to evoke a visceral, physical reaction in the reader.

Second, “rapidly” is an adverb that doesn’t do anything to the sentence that a stronger adjective than “flooding” couldn’t solve.Actually, the whole phrase “flooding rapidly through” could be replaced by a single, strong verb. You could use “flooded”—good enough by itself—or “swamped” or “deluged.” Technically, I don’t think deluged is a verb, but this is one area of creative license I’m passionate about—appropriating words in one part of speech and using it in another. For example: using the noun “mouse” as a verb, as in “The shy girl moused into the back of the classroom.” Vivid, right?

The other problem is that pesky “she”.  If we’re trying to punch the reader, we need to be in deep point of view, which, as much as possible, closes the distance between the reader and the POV character. Instead of being told what she’s experiencing, we feel (see, nothing verbs are ok sometimes!) everything along with her. Here’s where we get super-tricky and all sexy grammatical. Right now, “She” is the subject of the sentence, “thrilled” is the verb, and “excitement” is the object. We’re going to invert this a little bit and say that “Excitement” is the main actor in this sentence.

EVEN BETTER SENTENCE: Excitement flooded her body.

So we’ve deepened POV by making “Excitement” the subject of the sentence. We’ve tightened the verb and have something action-y: “Flooded.” This is a pretty damn good sentence, especially since we started with “She felt excited.” This is leagues better. But how can we make it even more visceral? We have to show the reader how excitement feels to the heroine.

AMAZEBALLS SENTENCE: Excitement gripped her by the throat.

Punch to the face! We feel this along with our heroine. We know what kind of excitement she’s experiencing—part terrifying, mostly thrilling. Ka-pow!

Let me reiterate—not every sentence needs to be amazeballs. Not only does it not need to be this way, it shouldn’t. The moresentence you have that punch the reader, the more exhausted they’ll be by reading, and the less impact each punchy sentence will actually have. Pick and choose. String a few together for the turning points, or pepper them in your high emotion scenes. Use this power judiciously!

Pro tip: If you try to write like this your first draft, your head might explode. When you’re drafting (especially fast drafting) write those crappy-to-mediocre sentences. This is why we edit, my friends: to create a damn good story and to keep our heads from spewing pieces of brain matter onto our writing buddies. Edit your way to punchy sentences.

Can they find love without losing themselves…

Tovia Douglas has devoted her adult years to sheltering her mentally ill mother and ensuring her sister's independence. When Tovia turns 27, those lost years come into sharp, painful focus and she decides it's time to start enjoying life, starting with a little mental vacation through submission at her local kink club.

Keilor Branson grew up believing in love at first sight. He just figured his other half would feel it too. Instead, feisty new submissive Tovia runs from their emotional connection. Determined, Keilor must chip away at her walls and prove that love is worth the risk.

When family troubles lead to Tovia's change of heart, their roles are reversed. Now she must prove to her man, her Master, that while love isn't always perfect, they are perfect for each other.

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His face hit her like a fist to the stomach. Even after seeing him in her dreams every night for a month, she was still awed by him. Dark brows framed laughing hazel eyes, now serious, which led to a nose that would have looked oversized on anyone else, with its reset-bone bump. It just gave him character. More laugh lines around his mouth, and the beginnings of a goatee. That was new. It was the only hair on his head.

She’d never been attracted to bald men, but Keilor was so sexy that even his bare skull turned her on. She knew it was by choice. She’d worked a little Google-Fu after their first scene together and found recent pictures of him with a full head of thick, brown hair.

Warning bells went off, but they were drowned out by his voice.

I’m sure Master Mike will be tickled to learn he has such a steadfast champion.”

Waves of subtle lemony air drifted over her, as they always did in his presence. Or they did during their one scene together. She hadn’t been able to serve a Lemontini since without her panties getting wet.

Tovia sighed at his teasing even as the little hint of jealousy in his voice made her stomach jump. She shouldn’t react, but her body betrayed her so easily. “What do you think you’re doing here?”
Laughter rumbled her bones at every point of contact with his body. “I’m an elite member. I’m here all the time.”

Not since we—” She bit off the rest of her sentence before she could dig herself in further and tried again to wriggle from his lap.

Silly girl.” His words gentled, soothed. One rough hand slid up and down her arm. Damnit, she should not like that. “I was in Greece. The owner of the Hellena sent me over there to sample food and wine vendors. I assumed you knew.”

Now he’d think she was pining after him. Just because she hadn’t been able to stop thinking about him didn’t mean she missed him. Or wanted a repeat that lasted all night.

No, because that would be ridiculous. Douglas women didn’t need men. It was practically the family motto.

To keep things light, she teased him back, ignoring the way her skin heated beneath his touch. “Oooh, poor thing. That must have been such a hardship.” A smile even teased at the corner of her lips despite her efforts to remain unaffected by his presence. When was the last time she smiled at a man who wasn’t tipping her for drinks?

Keilor stared down at her. “Actually, it was.”

Oh boy. She wasn’t touching the wealth of subtleties in those words. Not going down that path.
Keilor lifted her hand and pressed a kiss to her palm. Butterflies hatched in her chest, then died when he said, “You look tired.”

She scowled. “Well if that isn’t what every woman wants to hear from an attractive—” Her jaw clunked shut around the foot in her mouth.

He nipped her forefinger, zinging arousal to all her naughty bits, then stole her breath when he kissed her nose, her cheek. “Do you get a freckle every time you sass a Dom?”

An indelicate snort escaped her. “Sure. The freckles are a little-known Dominant Warning System saying ‘steer clear of the angry redhead!’” Yes, she thought, hold dear to your sarcasm. It was her current chastity belt of choice, and that was swiftly crumbling at the edges.

Good. Less competition.” His lips drifted to her neck, where he pressed kisses to random patches of skin still exposed around the edges of the blanket.

Oh shit. She clutched the soft brown cover around her, remembering what she wore beneath—absolutely nothing aside from her short shorts. Like flipping a switch, her nipples hardened and her pussy clenched. He could so easily expose her. Not that she hadn’t been naked in the club every weekend, but it was different now, with Keilor watching her.


What…what are you doing?” His exploratory kisses had turned into sizzling nips to her collarbone.

Counting your freckles.” He tugged at the blanket, playing momentary tug of war with her until he stopped fighting and simply went around the mountain. His hand slithered beneath her shield to scald her stomach, then higher. When the back of his hand brushed across her nipple, she moaned. “I need a baseline count. Scientific study and all of that.”

Skylar Kade is a logophile who spends her days reading, writing, and dreaming up new characters. She lives in sunny Southern California with her sweetheart and their two dogs. When not immersed in words, she loves long walks on the beach…er, make that sitting on the beach and watching others walk by. Find her blogging with the Nine Naughty Novelists (http://ninenaughtynovelists.blogspot.com), or on Twitter (@skylarkade),Facebook (www.facebook.com/AuthorSkylarKade), Tumblr (http://skylarkade.tumblr.com), and Goodreads (www.goodreads.com/SkylarKade).  

03 May 2013

Busy, busy times

So many things have happened since I last posted, and I apologize for the silence, but I'm getting back up and on my feet, so we'll be back to a slightly more regular updating schedule soon.

I've almost finished my LHNB story, and hope to get it wrapped up this weekend so it can take a trip to one of my betas to get a second pair of eyes looking at it.  This story has been ridiculously fun to write, and I'm really hoping Shaz likes it. *crosses fingers* Hopefully this weekend I'll be posting a second teaser both here and on Goodreads. :3

My living situation took a bit of a nose dive, which is why I've been nonexistent, for the most part, on the internet.  Long story short, my long time roommate had been planning to move to CO, which I knew all about, so I've been helping her pack and prepare, as well as say goodbye to CA.  In the meantime I'd been hunting for a new roommate, and thought I found one:  he moved in on the 1st of April, paid his portion of rent for that month, as well as his security deposit.  All of April went by without a hitch until last weekend, when I got a call from my other roommate telling me that he was packing his stuff up and leaving.  So he left, with no warning or intent to say anything to me, and I've been scrambling ever since.

I'm good right now, but it's been a rocky couple of weeks.  XP

But enough whining about my personal life; writing!

Alongside working on my LHNB contribution I've been writing the story that picks up where Rock 'n Roll Seraphim leaves off, as Seraphim was only intended to bring the two together. *tries not to say anything that might be considered a spoiler* Now I get to write all about the ups and downs of them adjusting to their relationship, and the stresses both current and former jobs puts on them.  I love my boys, but I know relationships aren't all fluff and hearts, so I wanted to visit that, and show how they become as strong together as I've seen them in future stories.

Other than that, there are a couple of ideas I'm poking at but nothing concrete as of yet.

And now I'm off to paint my nails a shiny Tardis blue, and try to wrap up the lose ends in my LHNB story.