Descriptions for heat levels in book list

------holding hands, perhaps a gentle kiss
♥♥ ---- more kisses but no tongue-- no foreplay
♥♥♥ ---kissing, tongue, caressing, foreplay & pillow talk
♥♥♥♥ --all of above, full sexual experience including climax
♥♥♥♥♥ -all of above including coarser language and sex more frequent

Sunday, March 15, 2015

the main course-- distaff

It's a bit ironic that romances, which are read most often by women, have at their heart a hero. That does not mean, however, that the heroines are not important. If they are obnoxious and frustrate the reader, they can end up ruining the book. Still, if they are perfect, without a flaw, they seem unreal. So writing a heroine who can carry the story forward is as challenging as getting the right hero.

In the past i have written about how in a romance, one of the characters is mythic and the other represents the rest of us more ordinary folk. Most often, it's the hero who is mythic although it can go the other way. Heroines though generally represent a version of the reader and through their experiences, the reader gets to share in a world they will never know any other way (nor would they want to).

To some level, this is true of all really good writing. It takes you inside the head of someone else and lets you experience an alternate life. Anybody actually want to live The Life of Pi? But feeling like you did through words and imagination, that's just fine.

With my wagon train story, my heroine is the youngest I've ever written. Amelia Stevens is not yet eighteen. She is the only heroine I ever wrote that young. My average heroine is in her late twenties or mid-thirties. Amy Stevens had to be not much more than a girl to suit the story. Of course, that was how old I was when I first had her come to my imagination.

Amy, not unexpectedly, has a lot of growing to do. The story in Round the Bend will give her plenty of opportunity on multiple levels. She begins her journey full of naive (but understandable) concepts about life-- most of which she has gotten from her extensive reading. Coming from a well-off, loving and protective family, she has had every opportunity to explore learning. 

She fancies herself a bit of a bluestocking or maybe a bluestocking wantabe. In Amy's time, the term was regarded rather insultingly to be intellectual and frumpy women. Bluestockings came out of the era where such groups, which sometimes included intellectual men, met to discuss ideas and critique work. The literary society that had so intrigued and formed many of Amy's early ideals had been founded in England in the 1750s by Elizabeth Montagu.

Amy also admired the female poets, of her time, women who wrote about social conditions and were early feminists. With a few exceptions, their work was not widely known then or today, but their fiery way of speaking their minds and leading unconventional lives inspired some women-- not to mention worried men.

As Amy saw it, before the big wagon train headed out, this might be only the beginning of adventuring. She could visit places she'd only read about like the Sandwich Islands. She could write and put her thoughts forward for others to consider. Up until this time she had written poetry but shared it with no one-- except her best friend, Matt. She did not see herself marrying. Although she admired and loved her mother, she had no intention of giving up her dreams for any man. What she doesn't understand, in Missouri, is the power of love; and how when a woman truly loves a man, it will impact all else that she does.

Amy has two possible suitors on the wagon train. One looks much like those fictional heroes she's been reading about. She loves the other. He has been her best friend since childhood, but she could never see him the role as a suitor.

The trip west will both challenge her notions and force her to face physical reality. It's an irony that while she is eager for change, she also fights it tooth and nail. The girl she is when she leaves Missouri will not be the woman she becomes by the time she reaches Oregon. This transition doesn't just come through a man but through the things she sees and comes to understand about physical reality. Words can only take it so far.

For book trailers and an eventual cover, her face was easier to find as she was beautiful with long black hair. Harder for me was to keep her interesting and make her changes believable. Having gone through that age myself, remembering how my set ideas didn't often end up the final ones, helped a lot.