I’m so thrilled to post on Sue’s blog today. You see, Sue is my critique partner. She lives in Washington State and I live in Virginia. The Internet brought us together and aids in our helping one another. She is a fabulous critique partner—and, NO, you can’t have her.
I wish I could recall the author of a blog post I read recently (darn those senior moments!). The writer, one of the talented Roses from The Wild Rose Press, said she merely takes dictation from her characters. I smiled and nodded. For some days—and nights—that’s all I do, too.
Long distance runners talk about the rush they get after they’ve pushed themselves into the zone. They often classify it as a feeling of euphoria. Writers get this, too. Not from running or physical exercise, but from getting inside their character’s psyche so well that the character takes over and writes the story. When this happens, we merely take dictation.
In my current WIP, my heroine and hero were about to make love for the first time. I had an idea how I was going to write it. My hero would put a blindfold on my heroine, and she would experience the heightened sense of touch. My heroine, however, had other ideas. “Let me blindfold him,” she whispered in my ear. “I want him to be the vulnerable one, not I.” I shook my head. She insisted on having her way. “Watch what happens.” My fingers could barely keep up as she showed me all she did to her man and how she drove him wild. Before long I was muttering, “You go, girl!”
My characters had me in the zone. Knowing them as I did, I know how they would react to certain touches and kisses and tongue torture. Twice I had to stop and wipe the fog off my laptop monitor from someone’s heavy breathing—and I think it was mine.
In Storm’s Interlude, my contemporary romance coming out July 15th, I’d intended for Storm to be the typical alpha male—hard, demanding, opinionated. Halfway through the book, I realized he was also a caregiver. He felt part of his duty as a man was to take care of those he loved. He fretted over his twin sister, suffering from leukemia, he doted on his three-year old nephew and he was prone to give little gifts to those special in his life. This softened his rough edges and endeared him to me even more than his muscles or his sexual prowess. I hadn’t intended for him to be this way, but he revealed these qualities to me as I wrote the story.
Characters that are strong tend to take over the story, making our jobs infinitely easier. But it’s up to us to make them strong in the first place. This is one of our jobs as writers; to create strong characters who can take the plot and run with it.
Nurse Rachel Dennison comes to Texas determined to prepare her new patient for a second round of chemo. What she isn’t counting on is her patient’s twin brother, Storm Masterson.
Half Native American with the ability to have “vision dreams,” Storm dreams about Rachel for three nights before her arrival. Both are unprepared for the firestorm of emotions their first chance encounter ignites. Even so, Storm has two things Rachel won’t abide: a domineering personality and a fiancée.
Yet, ultimately, it is Rachel’s past—an abusive, maniacal ex-boyfriend—that threatens to keep them apart…and Storm’s dreams that bring them together again.
Here’s an excerpt:
“What’s wrong? Headache?” Rachel laid her sewing aside.
“Yeah. I was on my way to get some aspirins; three or four ought to knock out the worst of it.” He rubbed his temples some more.
“Uh-huh. Sit down, cowboy.” She motioned to the sofa, and he sat. “Where does it hurt? We can’t have you going to see your fiancée tonight with a headache, now can we?”
“Look, you think I don’t feel like an ass for my behavior?”
She looked away and sighed. Did she really want to have this conversation? Wouldn’t it be better to let sleeping dogs lie, as her daddy used to say. “I knew my attraction to you was wrong. That you were off limits. Let’s just drop it, okay? Just show me where your headache hurts. I’ll see if I can help.”
He sat and then pointed to the areas of pain with his index finger. “Up the back of my neck into my head. Around my head. Behind my eyes.” He’d long since associated his heartburn to stress, now he was wondering if the headaches came from the same source, too.
She started massaging, using her trained thumbs at pressure points. “You get these often?”
“Yeah. Anytime I’m stuck in front of that computer for hours.” Or when I think about marrying Pilar. He blinked several times at that personal revelation. Why hadn’t he made that connection before?
“Maybe you need glasses.” She slowly worked her fingers up and down his neck and then across his shoulders, pressing in hard with her thumbs and gently rippling with her fingers. “You’ve got knots of tension back here. Big knots.”
She leaned over him and dug her elbow into his shoulder. He didn’t know which felt better: her massaging or her breasts pressed against his back. Scents of her perfume wafted in the air, luring and beguiling like a floral siren. Her breathing had quickened in his ear as she ministered to him. His had quickened in like manner. Every one of his senses homed in on Rachel. She was consuming him.
“My God,” he moaned.
“I know I’m being rough, but this is the best way to get these subscapulari muscles to relax. Your trapezes are so tight, too. Goodness.”
Her voice was deep and breathless with exertion, which only fueled his arousal. He closed his eyes. While her massaging and pounding of his muscles sent chills up and down his spine, the smell of her perfume, the sound of her voice, the feel of her breathing against his neck and his ear was inflaming his manhood to near madness. The warmth of her sensual touch was killing him. If he lived through this, he was heading for a cold shower. Hell, a dozen cold showers couldn’t undo the effect she was having on him.
“Tilt your head forward, Storm. I’ve never seen anyone so tense. Even your rhomboids are knotted.” She pressed against him more, rotating her elbow into his knotted muscles. “It’s almost as if the harder I massage, the tighter your knots get.”
No fake! His whole body was a mass of sexual knots. He glanced over his shoulder, taking in her determined expression, her teeth gritted as she pounded and elbowed his muscles into submission. She was clearly in nursing mode, clueless as to what she was doing to his libido.
She leaned forward and increased her pressure on his shoulder. “Can’t...talk...now,” she grunted.
“Maybe...maybe if I try from the front.” She hurried around the sofa. To his utter amazement, she crawled onto the sofa, straddling her knees on either side of his lap. “Lean down and put your head against my chest. Let me attack those knotted subs and traps from this angle.”
If she wasn’t the cutest thing, hell-bent on ridding him of his headache. If he leaned his head between her breasts, he’d be a goner. No male, unless he was six feet under and been there for twenty years, could take this.
“Come on, lean against me. Wish I had one of my wooden rollers to run over your muscles. Maybe I should go upstairs and get one.”
She finally stopped talking and peered into his eyes. He watched her slowly shift from nurse to woman. Saw her blink as awareness surfaced. Her blue eyes, wide with shock, shifted to his mouth. “I...ah...should...get off your lap.”