Tag Archives: Brenda Dyer

Who, What, Where.


WHO, WHAT, WHERE?

Last weekend, I had the luxury to take my morning coffee outside. The sun was shining. It was a balmy nine degrees. Okay, not tropical weather, but it’s still February after all. As I sat and looked over my bare gardens, envisioning what they will hopefully become in the months ahead, I wonder who inspired my love of all things that grow. The answer comes quickly; my grandmother.
My mind then turned to my writing—as it eventually always does—and I wondered who, or what inspired that particular desire. At first, no answer came to me. Writing was something I never aspired to do. I loved reading romance novels, I had for years, but the thought of writing one never occurred to me until three years ago. It all started after I finished the fifth novel in a series from an author I love. This particular novel featured my favorite character from her series. After reading his story, I was disappointed. I didn’t care for the heroine chosen for him. His happily ever after left a lot to be desired. I felt cheated.
My mind was filled with ways to make his story better—or more to my liking—I sat down and wrote a heroine I felt would have suited him better and a happier happily ever after. During this recreation, the floodgates opened and two completely different characters started speaking to me. At first, I ignored them. As time went on, I jotted down notes, names, and places. It wasn’t long before I had the bare bones of a story. Secretly, I started writing. My characters took shape. They had voices, personalities, a past, present and a future. It wasn’t long until I held in my hands the rough draft of my first novel.
Was it the author who inspired me? Was it just coincidence? Were my characters always there, just waiting for the perfect opportunity to come out?
I’ve always been creative, had a wild imagination, but writing for me didn’t come easy. I had a rough time getting the ‘right’ words from my head onto paper. It seemed as if I had a block somewhere between my brain and hand.
Again, I searched my mind, trying to find out who or what had been my inspiration. I still came up blank. Maybe it was a combination of the author and my own imagination? Maybe it was simply the right time in my life to explore something new? Maybe . . . maybe it was fate? All four?
My thoughts shifted gears and I pondered what kept me writing? I’m not a natural born writer. The art of stringing words together to form coherent sentences and paragraphs doesn’t come easy to me. I struggle every day. Some days the effort becomes too much; all I succeed in doing is giving myself a headache. Yet I carry on, I persevere. Why?
The honest answer is: no matter how trying writing can be for me, there is nothing I would rather be doing with my life. I love it. I love creating characters. I love creating conflicts they need to overcome to be happy. I love to blend fact with fiction.
I would love to hear what inspired you to become a writer. What was the defining moment that started you on your writing journey.

DOES ANYONE HAVE THE TIME?


Many days I feel there just isn’t enough time in the day to accomplish all I would like. Along side writing and editing my manuscript, I belong to two critique groups, I’m taking a writing course, and I write a weekly blog.
Sigh.
My writing life is full—taking up a large chunk of my time–but I have another life, what I call my real life, that needs my attention as well. There’s housework to be done, bills to pay, groceries to buy, never ending yard work, dinners to cook, and sleep. In a addition to all that, my husband and I own a small hobby farm: two miniature horses, chickens, ducks, two miniature goats, and a rabbit. All need feeding three times a day, cleaning and care.
Sigh.
Then there’s the relationships–people–in my life who also need attending to, from my husband, my two teenage sons, my parents, siblings, and friends.
Sigh.
Normally I’m pretty good at balancing it all, but there are days when my energy levels run low and something has to give. On these days, I take stock of my life—see what I can cut out. House work? No, that wouldn’t work. I’m very OCD when it comes to house work. Besides, I can’t write in chaos. Maybe cut back on gardening? I love gardening. It’s soothing, helps me solve writing and life related problems. My gardens bring joy and tranquility to my life. Cut back on my writing? Never. I love writing and critiquing. In fact I wish I had more time for both.
So what’s left? My relationships. Sadly, it’s usually the ones I love who end up taking a back seat. Wrong, I know.
Sigh.
Can you say guilt? There are days I look at my husband, and when he smiles at me my stomach aches as guilt eats a hole through it like acid. He has been so patient, trying his damnedest not to complain on the many nights I don’t get to bed before midnight because I tell him the words are flowing, I can’t stop writing now. He doesn’t complain when he comes home from working hard all day to no dinner cooked or slop just tossed together, barely edible. Doesn’t complain—much–when my characters are having more sex then he is.
Sigh.
Guilt eats at me when my boys ask me if I can helped them with their homework. I always do, but usually not before I say, “Yes, but can you give me half an hour? The words are flowing, I can’t stop writing now.”
Sigh
Then there are the times friends and relatives ask my husband and I if we’d like to go out for dinner. I say yes, loving the idea at the time. Yet when the evening comes, I secretly don’t want to go. I would rather stay home and write. Deep inside I feel I’m wasting precious time that could be spent editing my MS, returning critiques, or writing another short story for my writing course.
Sigh.
Lately, my attention is always divided. No matter what I’m doing, be it, cleaning, cooking, yard work, helping my sons with homework, even talking on the phone, my mind is only half on the task at hand. The other half is on my characters, on how to word a particular scene, whether my sex scene is hot enough, etc, etc.
Sigh.
As I’m writing this, I can smell the dinner I’m cooking, burning on the stove. I guess that’s my cue to cut this short and deal with my real life. I glance at the small chicken clock on my desk. Another day gone, and I haven’t finished all I had hoped to accomplish.
Sigh.
I would love to hear from other writers, to know if you feel like I do at times.
Thank you for reading. Until next week, happy writing.

I’ll Show You Mine If You Show Me Yours


 

I’LL SHOW YOU MINE IF YOU SHOW ME YOURS

It’s a tough thing to allow someone to read your manuscript, but an even tougher thing to allow someone to read your manuscript who’s job it is to look for mistakes, weaknesses.

After months, even years of working on your baby—yes, to some their MS becomes just as precious as a child—it can be devastating to hear anything less than glowing praise. It would be lovely to receive a critique where the critter had nothing but nice comments to say. “This is the best story I’ve ever read. I couldn’t find a thing I’d change. It’s perfect!”

As writers we know that rarely if ever happens. Nothing in this world is perfect.

Someone new to writing might wonder why one would join a critique group. Why would one subject their baby to strangers picking it apart? What are the benefits?

The benefits are numerous. Though if all you are seeking is praise, maybe a critique group isn’t for you.

Don’t get me wrong, praise you’ll find, in addition to encouragement, helpful advice, and guidance to aid you in turning your good story into a great story.

Furthermore, you’ll receive support from other writers who know what you’re going through. Others with whom to share the ups and downs. You’ll acquire feedback, knowledge, and understanding.

Writing for the most part is a solitary endeavor. As writers, usually the ones closest to us have no idea what it takes to create characters, complete with a past, a present and a future. What a struggle it can be to create a world using only words. It can be very draining. At some point you may find you want—need–to talk, interact with others just like yourself.

The smartest decision I’ve made since I started writing was to join a critique group. The amount of knowledge I’ve gained is staggering, improving my writing beyond my expectations. Not only have I learned from receiving critiques on my MS, but I learned from giving critiques. In fact, I feel I have acquired more knowledge giving then receiving.

A critique group is a fantastic place to meet writers of all stages in their writing careers. A great place to hone your craft. A wonderful way to make lasting friendships.

If you are just starting out on your writing journey, the best advice I can give to you is join a critique group. Learn, laugh, make friends, and have fun.

Until next Saturday, happy writing.

Brenda Dyer

My Sex Scene Hang-ups


MY SEX SCENE HANG-UPS

Conner slowly thrust into her. His lips brushed hers in a feather light caress before he whispered, “I want you again, Sandra. I’ll never get enough of you.”

Desire once more coiled through her. His words tugged at her heart. She wound her fingers in his thick hair, kissing him with all her love.

I smiled and pressed save on my computer. My first sex scene, complete. I clicked on the printer and printed out eight pages of what I thought was a hot, sensuous love scene between my hero and heroine. I gathered up the pages, grabbed my red pen and sat in my—well, okay my husband’s—lazy-boy recliner to edit.

As I read the pages over, my cheeks burned with embarrassment. Not because what I had written was unbelievably hot and erotic. Horrible was more like it. Instead of erotic and sexy, it was dull and flat.

So back to my computer to delete and rewrite. This time I would get it right, I reassured myself. Wrong! Again, bland.

This pattern continued for two weeks. I’d write, edit, revise, then eventually delete. By this time, panic had taken over. Every time I sat in front of my computer I would sweat and shake. Why was I having so much trouble? Writing a love scene shouldn’t be this difficult. I’ve written battle scenes complete with swords, guns and blood. And with a few revisions, they turned out quit well. Plus, I’ve never been in a battle, most of my fight scenes came straight from my imagination and what I’ve seen on TV. As for sex, well, I’ve been married for eighteen years and have two sons, so I’m no stranger to the act of physical love.

After a few more tries, with no usable results, I slumped back in my computer chair, wanting to give up.

Confused, tired and more then a little frustrated, I finally called an emergency meeting with my hero and heroine. While they sat across from me—in my mind–I stared at them, hoping they would enlighten me, but they remained silent. I spread my arms wide and asked, “Well?”

They looked at each other and shrugged. Then my hero cleared his throat. “We’ve been showing you over and over. It’s not our fault you can’t seem to get it correct.”

“And frankly, we’re exhausted, “ my heroine said.

Feeling even more depressed, I told them to take five. They smiled, linked hands and strolled off.

If they were taking five, I may as well take five—heck, ten.

I poured myself a coffee and sat at my kitchen table, gazing out at my yard. I allowed my mind to drift, wandering where it will. I’ve used this trick over the years to help me solve tough problems, be it writing related or life. My first thought was how nice the day was. The sun shone through the window, warming my face. I won’t bore you with the details, since most of my thoughts centered on gardening. But eventually my mind skipped to taking a week off writing. I decided to buy a romance novel and read—something I haven’t had time for lately. Then my mind skipped to how I determine what novel to purchase.

When buying a novel, the first thing I look at is the cover. If the cover catches my attention, I read the blurb on the back. If I’m still intrigued I open the book. Not to read the first sentence—the opening hook–or the first paragraph. In fact, the opening never factors in to whether or not I will buy that particular novel. I open to the first love scene. Now, keep in mind, I know nothing about the characters, just their names from the blurb. I don’t know their conflicts, what drives them, I haven’t been with them as the sexual tension mounts. I’m in the dark.

If the love scene held my attention both emotionally and physically I would make a purchase. If the scene felt flat and dull, or I couldn’t feel the passion, the heat between the hero and heroine, the book went back on the shelf.

Suddenly, it hit me. The fog lifted from my mind. Sure I was writing the action in my love scene, but I missed many key ingredients. Emotions, and the use of the five senses: touch, taste, smell, hearing, and sight. My characters were just going through the motions. No thoughts on how they felt, what they saw, what the other tasted like, what they whispered in the heat of passion, how the other smelled and how it affected them.

Elated, I ran back to my computer, but didn’t start typing right away. Before I got carried away, I needed to check to make sure I had used the senses to build sufficient sexual tension. I quickly looked over my manuscript and sighed. Yes, I had used emotions and the senses.

In fact, I had built the tension so high, I was afraid—and obviously with good reason–I wouldn’t be able to deliver when it came down to the sex act itself. I had spent so much energy getting them to the juicy stuff and now that they had arrived, I dropped the ball.

I realized if readers made it this far, went through the build up with my characters, they would expect a hot, emotionally driven, satisfying love scene. This knowledge only further added to my stress.

With my notebook in hand, I sat down in my lazy-boy recliner and closed my eyes. I opened my mind to my characters, watched what they had to show me, felt what they felt, tasted what they tasted. It started with a kiss. I allowed their emotions to wash over me, listened to the sounds they made and heard. Slowly, I started writing. As nature took its course, I wrote everything down, no matter how small or insignificant it seemed. When all was said and done, I read over my notes. I was pleasantly surprised.

Back at my computer I sat down and wrote. I made sure I used the writing rules; stayed in my POV character’s head, showing my other character’s emotions through actions and whispered words. Used simple direct words for the action. Avoided passive voice. But more importantly, I was attuned to my character’s emotions, and made use of all the senses. My end result was a hot, spicy love scene.

Another small useful trick I learned in writing any action scene is as the action escalates, use short, punchy sentences. They should become shorter, and shorter, shorter, shorter, until, until, until . . . it’s over. Then you slowly ease the reader down from the pinnacle so they can catch their breath right along side your characters.

I hope you’ll join me next Saturday. I’ll be talking about the little voice in my mind. It’s the one that loves nothing more then to tell me I can’t write. Mocks me at every turn.

Until then, happy writing

Brenda Dyer

Know Thine Rules


KNOW THINE RULES

When I first decided to write a novel I knew nothing about the many rules we writers must learn. I often wonder if my lack of knowledge hindered me. Or did the ‘not knowing’ allow me to just write?

Armed with only the facts I learned in high school, I sat at my computer and wrote—start to finish. Though pleased with the characters and world I had created in my novel, I knew the writing wasn’t up to the standards it needed to be to submit. So I joined an on-line writing group and proceeded to learn the golden rules.

The first rule I learned was show don’t tell. I had no clue what this meant. How do you show action? How do you show what a room looks like or a character’s face? Isn’t it easier to just tell the reader what your heroine’s expression looked like after she got an eyeful of the hero’s hot body? I was baffled. How do you show not tell?

The answer is by using strong action verbs, clear, uncluttered descriptive words, and by using the senses:taste, touch, and smell. Let the reader see the action happening, smell the scents your characters smell, taste the hero’s lips, feel his muscular arms as they crush the heroine to his warm, hard chest.

As I went back over the first chapter of my novel, I realized most was telling. It was riddled with LY adverbs which is a good indication you are telling.

I scratched my head. What’s wrong with that? It told the reader how my characters spoke.

She said, quietly.

He shouted loudly.

Told how my characters walked, ran.

She walked slowly.

He ran quickly.

Even told the readers how my character was feeling.

She felt his touch. She felt sick to her stomach.

Then I realized yes, I was telling when I should have been showing.

The next rule I learned was tense. Once again I was in the dark. What did my instructor mean by don’t change tense part way through the story? When she showed me the error of my ways, it was like a light bulb going off in my head. Pick one tense and stick with it. Present or past tense.

Present tense: I walk to the store.

Past tense: I walked to the store.

The next rule was POV. Point of view. There are three basic POV’s: First person, third person and omniscient.

First person simplified is the “I” voice. It is useful in allowing the reader to become deeply involved with one character. Though on the other end it can be limiting since you can only write what your main character could know.

Omniscient simplified is scenes written in more than one point of view. If not done well it can be very jarring. Plus it is harder to become intimate with the characters.

Third person simplified is a balance between first and omniscient. You write with distance yet with intimacy since a scene is written in one character’s POV at a time. Everything that happens is filtered through that character until the writer changes POV, usually when you start a new chapter or at a scene break. But unlike first person where you use I, me, we and us, third person you use, she, he, they, them, him and her.

Again, I went through my first chapter and realized I had head hopped like a flea. I constantly switched from one character’s head—from ones thoughts and feelings to another without a new chapter or scene break.

But you may say, I’ve read books where the author head hopped and I loved it. Yes, you’re correct, but they are usually experienced writers who have learned the rules, taken their lumps, and came out the other side better for learning and following the rules in the beginning. In short, they have earned the right to head hop and they do it well, without jarring the reader from the story. For an inexperienced writer it is best to stay in one POV at a time.

There are many more rules—with rules attached to them—that we will touch on next time.

So back to my original question. Did my lack of knowledge of the rules hinder me when I wrote the first draft to my first novel? Undoubtedly it would have made the rewriting easier, but in my ignorance, at the time all I worried about was getting the story from my head onto my computer. And that I did. Rough, but it was written. Since then I have learned the rules and I realized they make writing much easier.

    Here is a small excerpt from my second novel. The first example is written without the basic rules applied.

Catherine rubbed her forehead, slowly and sighed heavily. She looks over at Kal. “What do you want from me?”

Kal smiles tightly. Damn she was sexy and he loves her temper. “You really want to know?”

She nodded her head.

“I want you naked on my bed. That is what I want.” he said.

Stunned, Catherine’s mouth dropped open and she blinked her eyes rapidly. Did he just say what I think he said? “I . . . I can’t believe you just said that!”

“Well, you asked,” he said, shrugging his shoulders.

—-

    Now here is a more polished version with the rules applied.

Catherine rubbed her forehead and sighed. She glanced at Kal and crossed her arms over her chest. “What exactly do you want from me?”

Kal smiled. “You really want to know?”

She nodded, tired of the games. Tired of always trying to analyze him.

He leaned a hip against the dresser, his grin widening. “I want you naked on my bed. That’s what I want.”

Stunned, Catherine’s jaw dropped. Did I just hear him right?

She narrowed her eyes and clenched her hands. “I . . . I can’t believe you just said that!”

Kal shrugged. “Well, you asked.”

—-

A History has a new and improved look!


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Thank you Shiela for your time and effort in making our site beautiful.
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Tomorrow is the big day!


A History of Romance is open to visitors tomorrow. Please come by and see what we have in store for you. Be sure to check out the contest, and the new blogs. Have fun looking around the site.
April Dawn

Say Hello to Brenda Dyer


I live on beautiful Vancouver Island, off the coast of British Columbia with my husband, two teenage boys, two miniature horses–both boys–chickens and three cats–two of which are males. Hmmm, a lot of testosterone flying around my house.
I’ve been an avid reader of romance since I was a teen and always dabbled in writing, but not seriously until 2007. From the moment I sat at my computer and starting writing my first novel, I was hooked! My idea of the perfect day is my coffee, my computer and the company of my character’s speaking to me–directing my hands.

You can find me on facebook. New friends always welcome!