Monthly Archives: February 2014

Growing the Story

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This week, Growing the Story. Most stories, including romance, grow around conflict. Conflict occurs when one character is at odds with the objectives of another character or force. Conflicts within the story create tension and interest, especially when the resolution of the conflict is in doubt. Who wants to read a story where a couple meet, fall in love at first sight, marry, and live happily ever after.

Conflict within the story may be internal or external for one or more character(s). In romance, one element of conflict is resolved when two (or more) characters achieve a happily-ever-after or, in the case of some erotic romance and erotica, a happily-ever-after-for-now ending. The romantic hero/heroine’s internal conflict may relate to meeting the expectations of society, loss of freedom/lifestyle through marriage, whether this is “the one,” or making a relationship a success. The external conflict in the romance occurs when the couple resolves their relationship conflicts to achieve their happily-ever-after. The external conflict of the romance may involve other individuals or situations around the couple.

Other conflicts revolve around the setting in which the romance occurs. Whether a high-tech office, a Regency soirée, or a medieval battlefield, secondary conflicts keep the readers’ interest and provide an opportunity for the writer to enrich the characters and show them in other contexts, so that the story goes beyond a simple romance to bring about a satisfying ending.

In my new erotic romance series, Cupid’s Back in Business, Teddy and Diana, who met on Aphrodite’s Island in Her Teddy Bare and achieved a happily-ever-after-for-now, return to New York to consider a more permanent relationship. Teddy in real life is a billionaire real estate investor and much more. The gym/spa where he first saw Diana occupies the bottom floors of his multi-story business/home. His first task will be to convince author/artist Diana to move in, so he can pursue his permanent courtship with the love of his life. Both will be constants throughout the series. More about them next week.

A note – I HATE cliffhanger endings. Whether as a reader or a writer, I want a SATISFYING ending. There is nothing satisfying about buying a book and reading it through only to discover that you must buy another book to discover the ending, if then. To me, it’s a cheat and should come with a warning. There’ll be no cliffhanger romances in Cupid’s Back in Business or anything else I write.

Next Week, Developing the Characters

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Sci-fi inventions for the year 2723 for PLANET

My inventions: 2723 A.D. for the novel PLANET by January Bain

I thought someone out there in virtual land might enjoy reading about the things I needed to invent for a sci-fi book I wrote a while ago. It was a very interesting process for this writer and one I hope to repeat as often as necessary, doctor’s orders.

(1) Rejuvenation Institute for DNA stem cell therapy serum injections that “sets” the body back 50 years to enable a type of immortality.

(2) 100 Earth Zones under one United World Government.

(3) Automatic robot that cleans the apartment: Turbo-Robot (my personal favorite)

(4) Titan: More than twenty-three hundred kilometers across, the massive rock and ice structure was bigger than the total square kilometer size of Area Two. The largest of the one hundred Zones that gridded the planet, it stretched its tentacles from the Mississippi River system through the Great Plains to foot of the Rocky Mountains, from the former Canadian/US border to the state of Texas.

(5) New Earth

(6) An army of unleashed von Neumann probes, those self-replicating robots that are “seeding” the galaxy with terraform. (I didn’t invent this as it has already been mentioned for by scientists.)

(7) Previous Disasters: tainted through the centuries by numerous plagues of man-made viruses, nuclear explosions, naturally occurring volcanic eruptions of scalding lava that had burst inopportunely through the crust on occasion, the near collapse of the ecosystem that planted the idea for their current United World Government and one biotech disaster that decimated the entire population of Zones Ten through Twenty.

(8) Gabaray (space incinerator) turns space junk to dust.

(9) Implanted miniature chip that allows instant access to a device that acts similar to a twenty-first century cell phone. Also, it has reduced crime to virtually nonexistent due to its tracking nature.

(10) Flash-8, their very own personal flying conveyance that holds one to three people depending on style: ex. Rover (two people) or Viewer (one person) or Sedan (three people) Mind-controlled crafts.

(11) Nearly invisible headsets that allow you to mentally key in your thoughts to be later downloaded and stored in the library memory hard-drive for future generations.

(12) Movie screens inside your head or that can also be projected to a 3-D hologram for everyone to enjoy.

(13) Library of Data.

(14) Space Arks for the Exodus.

(15) Runatrons as slip-on, one-size-fits-all magnetic shoes that you ride just above the ground sort of like the old fashioned Segway people mover.

(16) Communiviewer: internal viewer much like a cell phone.

(17) Cyber-replicates to use for mundane and dangerous jobs.

(18) Hand-held FTL88 processor for recording information: lightweight, sturdy and see-through.

(19) Child-find trackers.

And so the list will grow. Hope you found it fun to peruse. Wishing you a great day!
Best, January Bain
The Forever Series

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Building a Series: Building the World

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The next element in building a story/series is “Building the World.” Authors can take free rein with their imaginations when creating a world. Based on the intended theme, they can fill it with their own visions, values, beliefs, and prejudices or craft a totally different reality in the future or in a different world.

Regardless of what is being created, certain questions common to all societies and cultures must be addressed by the author to make the story believable. What is the society’s explanation of the world? Where did they come from (origins)? Where are they heading (the future)? What should they do (ethics and values)? How should they attain our goals? What is true and false (knowledge)?

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In my series, tentatively named “Cupid’s Back in Business,” billionaire real estate developer Theodore C. Bareston III has a secret identity that he’s kept hidden for centuries. In Her Teddy Bare, he convinces Diana Harper that she should give love another chance – with him, of course. In Conquering Cupid, the first story in “Cupid’s Back in Business,” while he courts Diana after they return to New York City, Teddy is moved to embrace his past which lies buried in ancient Greece. But Diana is no fool and a series of “guest” visits raises doubts about her new boyfriend who is reticent to answer her questions. Finally, shadows from her past may imperil her future with Teddy.

As the plot develops and conflicts emerge some of the questions about the world will be answered. It’s not necessary to answer all the questions, especially all at once. No one wants an information dump. Snippets of the world can be delivered in later books. In scifi/fantasy, my favorite series is McCaffrey’s Pern series – a masterful creation of an entire world and culture. Do you have a favorite series?

Next week, Developing the Characters

RITA BAY’S WEBPAGE & BLOG / FACEBOOK / TWITTER

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My Writer’s Passion – Guest Post by Keith McCoy

My debut novel “The Travelers” was released by Burst on February 3, 2014.  While I am admittedly excited and anxious at the same time, I find myself reflecting on how the novel will be received by readers who lean mainstream, paranormal, or literary.  I majored in English with an Emphasis in Creative Writing and encountered mentors who were definitely literary-oriented and dismissive, even hostile, to anything that might appeal to a mainstream audience.   “The Travelers” is a mainstream novel with a paranormal/fantasy hook.  My fictional premise involves a 1947 radio signal from the luxury liner Queen Mary which is intercepted by an extraterrestrial intelligence leading to a North Atlantic encounter between a World War II GI and his British war bride and an otherworldly, desperate mother and her two small children.  The couple left Southampton with only each other but arrive in New York as a family.

When my college mentor read the manuscript before I even began querying publishers, he told me that he was very impressed and pleased but in the same breath indicated “I only wish it were more literary.”  I expected the response, to be honest, but still am somewhat irritated.  Should all readers and writers be admonished because they do not adhere to an elitist viewpoint?  My favorite author is F. Scott Fitzgerald but I still admire mainstream, fantasy, and science fiction authors.  I personally feel that every reader deserves a means of escape from everyday difficulties and if this means a mainstream work is in order, so be it.  Although I was not born at the time of the Kennedy assassination, I read recently that Jacqueline Kennedy told acquaintances that she needed an escape from reality and found it daily on the 60s soap opera Dark Shadows, hardly a high-brow program but hugely popular to this very day.  Perhaps academics and the literary elite need to take a cue from the former First Lady and acknowledge that excursions into fantasy is necessary in today’s society.

My characters are realistic people who deal with fantastical situations.  Readers, both friends and family as well as strangers, relate that once they reached a critical point at the beginning of the novel, they were unable to stop reading.  While quite complimentary, I do wonder if my college mentors would approve.  I have come to the point that I no longer condemn myself for my fantasy forays and embrace the fact that a larger part of the population are enjoying my work than they would a strictly literary one.  So for all of us authors who write for the masses, kudos!  Our work is just as detrimental to satisfying readers as any other form of writing.

Visit  www.keithwaynemccoy.com for more information about Keith McCoy and his writing projects.

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Building a Series: SETTING THE THEME

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This week in Building a Story/Series, we’ll focus on setting the theme. Why set the theme first? Whether we’re looking at an individual story or a series, setting the theme is a critical component in the development of a story/series. The theme provides the cohesive underpinning for the world that we build, the characters that we develop, and the stories that we grow.

No! No! Some assert that the characters are the center of the story. Others claim that the plot is the end-all of the story. Au contraire, I say. The theme provides the guide for the world we build, how the characters behave and how the story unfolds (plot). Without a theme, stories become disjointed collections of scenes that muddle through to an unsatisfying haphazard ending.

So, what’s a theme? The theme of a book/series is the universal idea or message that stretches throughout the entire story or series. It is often a lesson about life or people. There’s a long list of themes that run throughout stories. Non-romance stories can address many themes–coming of age, fate and free will, necessity for change of power, emptiness of attaining false dreams, good versus bad, greed as downfall, identity crisis, injustice, or materialism as downfall. There are dozens more.

The overriding theme for romance stories is achieving happily-ever-afters (HEAs) or happily for now (HFN). As an aside, I must admit that I need an HEA for a satisfactory conclusion with everlasting love conquering the transitory hookup any day. Romances, regardless of the subgenre, have additional themes. Examples include convention and rebellion, dangers of ignorance, disillusionment and dreams, male and female roles, the heartbreak of betrayal, finding inner strength, losing hope, desire to survive, loss of innocence or love, love and sacrifice, and conquering fear or weakness or adversity.

NewObsessionCover180 x270At one of the conferences I attended, a presenter asserted that authors have preferred themes that predominate their writing which are based on their personal histories. Can’t say that’s always true, but I choose to write stories about conquering adversity to achieve goals. I’m a confirmed optimist who believes in putting the past behind you so you won’t break your neck tripping over opportunities in the present or future. Maybe a more positive way of stating that is embracing the future. What say you?

IntoThe LyonsDen-EBOOK180X281In my first historical, His Obsession (Siren BookStrand, 2012), Emeliese Alexander is kidnapped and sold into slavery in the pirate republic of Bou Regreg. Believing the man she loves is responsible, Emeliese chooses life in a pirate’s harem to survive. The cost is dealing with the heartbreak of betrayal, even after she is rescued and – years later – her husband convinces her of his innocence. In my first paranormal, Into the Lyons’ Den (Champagne, 2012), Marie Maxwell discovers her shapeshifter heritage and – despite her go-it-alone and use-then-discard lovers attitude – finds herself attracted to an aggravating man who is the alpha of the shapeshifting clan.

For the new series, I’ve chosen “walking the paths less taken in search of happily-every-afters” as the underlying theme (and maybe the tagline or shortened to “walking the paths less taken”). Each story will feature individuals who depart from the mundane mediocrity of their current lives to embark on journeys along paths less taken. Not all of the paths will be easy or traveled willingly and a humorous element underlies all. All, however, will feature scorching hot romance.  The impetus for the journey will be one of my characters that I’ll reveal next week.

Next Monday, World Building

RITA BAY’S WEBPAGE & BLOG / FACEBOOK / TWITTER/ AMAZON

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Love always wins, but which one?

When people hear the L word, most often they associate it with an amorous setting, chocolate, and flowers, especially around Feb 14. But there’re many different kinds of love. Love for your children and your parents. Love for your land. Love for poetry or music or any other artistic endeavor, your own or someone else’s. Love for a pet. Love for a god.

Sometimes, those loves collide at cross-purposes, and you have to choose one at the cost of another. Those are the most stressful situations in real life and the most interesting in fiction.

My protagonist Eriale from my recent fantasy novel Almost Adept finds herself in such a situation. She meets a man – of course, she does, she is seventeen – and falls in love with him. He occupies her thoughts. She wants to give him anything, shield him from any danger, assist him in any endeavor. She wants to see him smile, hear his voice, share his days. Sadly, she can’t spend the rest of her life with him, no matter how much she wants to, and she knows it.

Eriale is a princess of Varelia. Well, kind of. Her much older half-sister Tamara (they share a father) is Varelian queen by marriage. Like many siblings, the sisters don’t often see eye to eye. Besides, Eriale is a magician, and like any magician, she is strong-willed and independent. She craves freedom to roam the world, to learn new magic, to encounter new mysteries. Rebelling against her sister’s rigid rules, Eriale runs away from home, towards mayhem and adventure, but she could never totally forget her responsibilities. Even if she bickers with Tamara, her sister, she would never endanger Tamara, the queen.

When travels bring Eriale to Grumesh, she falls in love with Kealan, a local courier, but unfortunately, he is not a suitable partner for our wandering princess. Once, he might’ve been, for he was born a high-ranking nobleman. But ten years ago, an aggressive Empire invaded Grumesh, and all the country’s native nobility were disbanded.

Now, Kealan is an outlaw, a leader of the resistance movement, with a price on his head. Even if he stopped fighting the occupants and became a law-abiding citizen, he would still represent a subdued nation. Any alliance between Kealan and the royal house of Varelia would be frowned upon by the Emperor and might cause a diplomatic incident or even armed hostilities between Varelia and the Empire. Eriale would never allow that to happen, would never jeopardize her country’s security for her own pleasure.

Nor would she repudiate her land and family for Kealan’s sake. But she couldn’t deny her love for him either, not to appease the political whimsy of the Emperor. Instead, she chooses a compromise. She would spend as much time with her beloved as she could. She would hear him laugh, savor his touch, relish his kisses. She would bestow the protection of her magic on him, but when the time comes, she would leave him behind. And although she knows her joy is transitory, the knowledge doesn’t diminish her happiness, maybe even makes it more acute.

AlmostAdep180x270J In a similar situation, another girl might’ve followed a different set of priorities and opted to remain with her sweetheart, come what may. Neither love is right or wrong. Eriale’s choice of patriotic love over romantic love is dictated by her personality, but also by the demands of the genre – a high fantasy quest. If my novel was a romance, Eriale’s choice might have been different.

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Love in a fantasy world

Creating a fantasy world means coming up with your own set of cultural norms. When it comes to love, what does it look like? Does age matter? Does gender matter? Does social class matter? What’s expected? Do people always meet those expectations?

For my fantasy setting, I started with a western medieval culture, and then made changes to suit my characters and my personal style.

In medieval times, people married very young. The legal age for marriage was 12 for a girl and 14 for a boy. It just didn’t sit right with me to have my characters married off while they were still practically babies, so I bumped it up closer to twenty in my world. In medieval times, marriages were arranged for political reasons based on monetary worth. So people rarely married outside of their own social class, and never really married for love. In my world, arranged marriages based on social class is the norm, but the couple would likely know each other ahead of time and would probably have a say in whom they were to wed. I wanted romantic love to have a place in my world.

One of the things I did to break free from the medieval box was to have a culture on the “other side of the mountains” that was more advanced than most of the kingdoms in my world. So one could assume that even the less advanced kingdoms have been influenced by the advanced culture. This gave me just the right amount of wiggle room to work with. For instance, if someone chose a different path than monogamy or heterosexuality, they could do so without fear of getting put to death for it.

So in the end, love in my fantasy world is very relatable and recognizable to the modern reader. It’s just that in my world, people might have to conquer evil empires, slay a dragon, or save the world from doomsday prophecies before they can be together.

out_of_the_darkness_300sigAudra

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Building a Series: THE BIG PICTURE

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When I thought about the content of my February posts, I wanted to do something with a romance theme that was also related to writing. I admit that most of my posts on WOTI have been about stories, cultures, and heroes (I LOVE heroes.) rather than the mechanics of writing. For the next month, I plan to share my ideas for developing a story or series. Can’t guarantee that any of it will work for you, so check it out and toss the trash. You’ll also score a few handouts that might land in the trash also.

Each Monday I’ll discuss a topic related to building a series: The Big Picture, Setting the Theme, Building the World, Developing the Characters, and Growing the Stories. Finally I plan to close with Confessions of a Rogue Storyteller in which I’ll share the lowdown on the “You must always” rules of writing which haven’t worked for me and a few that did. I’ll also include a few “rules” garnered from conferences and successful authors that have been helpful for me.

FYI, throughout this month, I plan to develop a series of mythology-based erotic novellas with a common theme. I promise not to get too risqué here. One of the hints that I’m not holding back to the end is the importance of planning ahead. I keep a physical folder of “story plans,” not just a sheet of ideas for stories but plans that evolve over time. I use those individual sheets to update matching folders in the computer under MY DOCUMENTS – WRITING. Each story has its own folder under WRITING. Right now, I have about twelve stories that I plan to write over the next two years with written and computer files. Since I write novellas and novels below 60,000 words with occasional short stories thrown in, that’s not too ambitious.

When Champagne’s Carnal Passions line issued a Call for Submissions for Aphrodite’s Island, I saw the perfect opportunity to write one of my stories that I had filed away in my WRITING folder. When Aphrodite opened the island resort, it had one goal…to give the guests the ultimate in fantasy experiences. Miss ‘A’ established rules which guide the guests in their quest for the ultimate romantic fantasy…one sensual encounter at a time. I took my Coop’s Gym & Spa series plan out of the file and took the couple to Aphrodite’s Island. Her Teddy Bare is a humorous short story published last year which includes a bit of BDSM with a chuckle. Her Teddy Bare is available HERE for $.99. Check out the blurb below.

FINALHerTeddyBare_600x900Diana will be his to serve if only he can convince her to play the game. After dumping her cheating fiancé, Diana Harper accepts an invitation “to attend a private event at Miss A’s island retreat to experience your most secret dreams and fondest fantasies.” Miss A gives “Teddy” to Diana as an “attendant.” Despite his best efforts, Teddy isn’t a submissive and the skimpy gold thong is ridiculous on a man his size. Although she’s not a domme, Diana plays his game to see where it leads. When Teddy offers her profound passion, the best sex ever, and the prospect of love, will she take a chance on another broken heart?

Theodore Bareston will do whatever it takes to win Diana’s love, even though “whatever” includes wearing a thong and posing nude in chains when Diana’s interest in her art revives. As the sexual tension builds and passions explode, can Teddy convince Diana that he is the only man for her?

Next Monday, Setting the Theme for my new series.

RITA BAY’S WEBPAGE & BLOG / FACEBOOK / TWITTER

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