Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Turn It Up Tuesday: My Imagination

Hey! It's Karlie in the house with another sad love song. Sorry. I'm just a sucker for them. Besides, this one is so perfect I couldn't not use it.

Standing there, with her arms around no one
No one who'd die for her right where he stands
Looking around like she's looking for someone
Looking like she's got time on her hands
Funny how much you can see in someone
Across the room, who you don't even know
Telling you things she would tell to no one
Taking you places she's wanted to go

Yes, he watches her. The way she pretends not to need anyone. The tough mask she always wears. The sunlight curving around her hair, the way she moves. He watches, and he dreams.

Like a walk in the rain
A place in the sun
With a lifetime of love that has only begun
Doing all of the things only lovers can do
My imagination is running away with you

Of course, he'd never tell her that. He doesn't fancy a broken nose...or worse. Nope, she's off limits to him. But that doesn't stop his imagination from picking her up and swinging her around, telling her how much he loves her.
Sometimes she even says it back.

Walking away and I'm walking beside her
Into forever here in my mind
Dreaming a dream that we're dreaming together
Finding the things only lovers can find

Thing is, Aria's caught up in a war that was never hers. She's determined to see it through, and giving up on her is not an option. So he's going to stand beside her until she either realizes they're supposed to be together, or she doesn't need him anymore.

His imagination supports the first option...but truth is he knows it's all but impossible.
(the link is below instead of the video because Youtube is being screwy)


Sunday, February 23, 2014

Insta-hate is okay but insta-love isn't?

Hi, everybody. *waves* Lisa here.

Since Karlie's post last week, I've really been thinking a lot about love and how we portray it in stories. One question that keeps plaguing me is: If we don't believe in insta-love/love at first sight, then why are we so accepting of insta-hate turned kiss-me-now? Are they both passionate emotions that ought to require more justifying before judging? Or are they at different ends of the spectrum, making one believable and the other not?

Caitlin: I don't like insta-any-emotion. Even if it only takes ten minutes to decide "hmm, I'd like to get to know this person better, and God is he cute," or "hmm...I'd rather scrub my bathtub with my toothbrush than spend another millisecond with this person," those thoughts should be supported by the interaction. Or, if they aren't supported by the interaction, that irrationality should be part of the character's development. Perhaps I wouldn't mind a book with an insta-love if the character later realized later he fell in love too quickly and needs to learn to take things slower, for example. It's the insta-love where the characters just "know" in those first ten minutes that they will live happily ever after...and then they do, because, sigh, it IS possible to "know" these tings (fluffy, fluttering hearts fall from the sky)...that just doesn't interest me.

Karlie: One reason for me is that it's a lot more complicated to love someone than to hate them. And don't get me wrong - I believe in instant attraction, just not instant true love. Sometimes hate is a person's automatic defense against unwanted attraction. And sometimes all that emotion needs somewhere else to go.
As for turning away from a story immediately because it contains insta-love? No, I'll usually give it a chance. Like you said, Lisa, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. It depends on the style, cliche level, and originality of the story.

Lisa: I feel the same way about insta-hate as I do insta-love. Skeptical. But I do wonder why readers and writers are so quick to be derisive of insta-love yet actually enjoy and believe in insta-hate. No one can say that it's because insta-love has been done more than insta-hate as I think the latter has been done so much more. My theory is that people are just so much more familiar with the classical insta-love stories. The fairy tales. So they stand out more in people's minds. In the past week, I actually started seeking out modern insta-love stories. Some are really bad, but some are actually really good. I admire the bravery of some of these authors. Brave authors oftentimes (though not always) write damn good, edgy stories.

I've always been an equal opportunity story lover. I never shun a book because I hear it has insta-hate, written in second person, has an unreliable narrator, etc. I guess my equal opportunity-ness is the reason Karlie's post has been on my mind all week. I hate to see people closing themselves off to the possibilities of great stories.

Do you think insta-love is worse than insta-hate? Is one a reasonable emotion while the other isn't? Have you ever turned away from a story immediately because it had insta-love or insta-hate? Or were you able to see it through? Enjoy it? Hated it still?

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Love and Instant Coffee - A Comparison

Hi, all. It's Karlie again!

I think the whole romantic experience can be classified in three categories:

1. Love at first sight.

This is the stuff of fairytales, the "I can tell just by looking into your eyes, darling, we were meant to be together forever. I'm sure we're perfectly compatible in every way." They ride off into the sunset together, and we never actually get to see the post-marital adjustment, spats, flying kitchen utensils, etc.

2. We're just friends.

"I've known the guy my whole life! He's my best friend, my shoulder to cry on when my heart gets broken. I don't know what I'd do without him."
"Ever think he might...you know...like you?"
"Of course he likes me! Oh. You mean...like romantically? Seriously?"

3. Turns out hate and passionate love really are two sides of the same coin.

She just really ticks you off. Stubborn, argumentative, REALLY ANNOYING...and then you're yelling at her for something stupid she implied about you and suddenly you just want to kiss her and where the heck did that come from?

Now, there are a lot more facets to the anomaly we call love than only those. But I think those are the three basic love plots - most stories use one of them.
Over the next few posts, I'm going to cover the pros and cons of each one.

The whole love-at-first-sight thing worked for Cinderella and Snow White (as far as we know, anyway) but those are classic fairytales. They can get away with it. Now, though, we roll our eyes at that. We want something more from the characters we care about - we want them to struggle, to deny their feelings, to be confused, to hate her and need him, to shove her away and pull him closer, all at the same time.

 It’s a fact that couples that are friends first, last longer.
If all you base a romance on is whirlwind passion, what happens when that dies? What’s left? Two strangers who know almost nothing about each other. If they build a relationship one block, one revealed secret, one touch, at a time…that’s a relationship we can root for. That’s something a reader can watch, can sympathize with. So not only do we have a stronger bond between the characters, we have a stronger bond between the characters and the reader.

Nine and a half times out of ten, instant love is not the right way to go. It's like coffee - sure, instant is easy and fast, but it lacks something. It'll work in a pinch, but leaves you feeling dissatisfied and maybe ending up pouring half the cup down the drain.

It's usually worth it to wait for the brewed version.

Do you struggle with crafting believable romances? Do your characters tend to fall in and out of love every ten minutes? What are your solutions for this?

And readers, which of the three love plots do you prefer to see? What really ticks you off about storybook romances?

The romance that bothers me the most is "I hate you. Come kiss me." I realize everyone is moaning (no pun intended) more about the insta-love romance lately, but I guess I've been reading a different set of books. The thin line between love and hate has been cooked up way to many times to be satisfactory for me. I'm done. As far as insta-love, I don't mind reading it. But I've never written it for two reasons: I don't fully believe in it, and because people talk so badly about. Note my "fully believe in it" remark. What I do believe in is two people can have an instant connection so intense that it doesn't feel normal. So in the abnormality of the situation, the two people think they've hit upon an anomaly--love at first sight. But they're hormones have tricked them. However, there's no reason that instant connection can't become love; it totally can. So, I believe people in real life can be fooled. Why can't characters in a book be fooled? After all, fiction is emulating real life. So I'm not as tired of insta-love in novels as I am hate=passionate love...love. The kind of romance I'd rather write or read about is simply two people meeting, realizing they are attracted to each other, and making plans to spend more time with each other, whether it be an official date or just getting together in a group setting. I see nothing wrong with a girl meeting a guy and thinking "I don't want to be his friend. I want to explore the possibilities of being much more." I find that refreshing and honest.

I don't have much interest, either as a writer or a reader, in #1. I just don't buy it. Perhaps ironically, my husband is more of a romantic than I am and he thinks that you can have an instant connection to someone. Sure, fine. But even if it exists in real life, it's very difficult to write that convincingly (in my opinion) and is rather boring compared to #2 and #3.

I LOVE to read #2 and #3 plot lines, but, I also really like reading (and writing) plot lines that blend #2 and #3. For example, having a guy around that is your friend (though perhaps not best friend) and who you get annoyed with sometimes (though not in a really fiery way) and then, all of a sudden, you realize hey, I REALLY like having this guy around. And he feels the same way! Kissing commences. :)

What are you thoughts on l-o-v-e? Like one of the options above better than the other? Reading it or writing it? 
Comment below - we'd love to hear your thoughts!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Turn It Up Tuesday - Knights in White Satin by The Moody Blues

I want to start this post off with the actual song. (try to ignore the cheesy opening and the cheesy video).

This song doesn't work with just one of my novels, one of my characters. This works with any novel that contains a love story. The male in this song is so open about his love. The intonation of his voice breaks my heart every time. And this so puts me in the right mood to write about tragic love.

And I love you, yes I love you,
Oh how I love you, oh how I love you.

How can you NOT be moved by such open declarations?

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Past, Present or Future Tense

Hi everyone! Lisa speaking. Let's chat about tense - past or present.

Which do you prefer to write in? Which do you prefer to read in? Have you ever written a tense out of your comfort zone?

Caitlin: I tried writing my first book in present tense to be trendy and had a terrible time with it. I ended up writing it in journal format, which mixed past and present. In the end, my writers' group and a few agents didn't think the diary format worked and when I revisit it in the future, I'll probably change that.

For my second book, I tried the present tense again, and I'm not sure if I grew as a writer or if the story made more sense or what happened, but it just FLOWED. So, I loved that! 

I am in the midst of two other projects now, both past tense (one first person, one third person.) I think it's fun to vary things up.

Karlie: I prefer to write in past tense - it's just more comfortable for me. I have written one present tense novel. It was fun and different, but not something I intend on doing very much. I do agree with Lisa's views on present tense, I'm just not very good at pulling it off. 
As for reading, I don't really have a preference. I'll read either one as long as it's well-written and an enjoyable story. 

Lisa: My preference is to write in the present tense. In the past tense, an author is  telling the reader, "I shaped this story; I wrote this." In the present tense, there seemingly isn't an author, just a point-of-view character. With the character's actions in a present tense novel, the reader traverses this life. In a past tense novel, the reader is told about this life. I like to compare this phenomenon to reality t.v. 

For me, writing in the present tense if done right, will leave readers feeling like they are reading the messiness of a possible real life. Much like reality t.v. shows that rope people in, it's real and it can get messy. And it's current. In reality t.v., the watcher feels like they're watching the action as it's going down. Whereas in a constructed television show, the watcher is conscious these series of events are shaped, edited and portrayed by actors. And none of it's real.

Of course, many believe (including me) that reality t.v. is almost as constructed; however, to the regular watcher tuning in, they don't believe it. Or else they don't care because it feels real. After all  it is real. Snooki does get drunk; Brent does actually have a huge fight with Jennifer. And in present tense books, the characters are fighting, eating, barfing--right then and there. There's no waiting, there's no being told about it after the fact.
I wish there were studies done on how often people put a present tense novel down vs. past tense novel. In my opinion, more people would continuously read a present tense book without pausing because they have the uncomfortable feeling it would continue on without them. They might miss something with the story that they are in. But in a past tense novel, there's always that division line - "I am being told a story. I can take a walk then pick this back up when I come back."

With that said, some of my favorite novels are in past tense, but it's because they're classics. Who's to say I wouldn't love them better if they were written in present tense? There's also my love for Harry Potter that totally bellies everything I said above too.

What tense do you prefer to write in? Which tense do you prefer to read? Or does it completely depend upon the story?

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Turn It Up Tuesday: Still Holding On

Hiya! It's Karlie again and I want to introduce you to a pair of secondary characters from my WIP, Kismet. The song for today is Still Holding On by Clint Black and Martina McBride.

It's a hard thing to say goodbye knowing there's a very good chance it's the last time. But Keisha and Jay knew the risks when they started out; they both know what they have to choose when it comes down to their love or an entire kingdom.
But that doesn't mean it's easy.

There's something out there left for you, but it's not me
We've reached the point of no return, it's only right I set you free

I know I have to turn away, but there's nowhere for my love to go
And there won't come a day when I won't honor what we had

Captain Jay Graeme and Dr. Keisha Lockhart share more than one deadly secret.
Not only are they both Gifted - though their gifts are passive enough to hide easily - but they also have a hand in the underground network of spies and fugitives.

Captain Graeme, a respected former member of the king's personal guard, is trusted and revered by even the suspicious Keepers. His front, a tavern/inn in the isolated little town of Faleatha, makes it possible to help more rebel fugitives escape being caught and executed for the Gifts they can't help having.

So I'll go on with my life, we can even say goodbye for now
If that's what we have to do
But here in my heart, even when my arms are empty
I'm still holding on to you.

Their relationship is the one foolish risk they just can't give up.
They guard that secret with their lives and a hundred others, because both of them know if one was ever taken the other would break. And a hundred people would die, all for one person. They can’t let that happen.
And then they receive the news they dreaded - Keisha has been blacklisted. And she can't stay around Jay anymore - she's being watched. They simply can't risk Jay being found out; too many people depend on him.
And that comes down to sending her away, both for her safety and his. Lyndoreth is one of the few safe towns left, but it’s miles and miles away.
  But they don’t have a choice.

We can't deny that this one's out of our control,
Stronger than the both of us, and bound to take its toll

But I can stand the test of time, and as far as I can see
There are no walls that we can't climb
Standing between you and me...

If anyone can make it, they can. Because they know something most people never consider - they don't have to be together for their love to thrive. A thousand miles apart, or even in death, Jay and Keisha swear they can survive.
And they will.