Category Archives: Erin Kellison

Character first

A very long time ago I took a class on writing the short story from a community college. I had dreams of becoming a writer. I had a new laptop. I had story ideas. At that time (and often still today), my imagination skewed to horror and suspense—I don’t even think I’d read my first real romance yet. And I had yet to give up on becoming a writer for a huge chunk of time between then and now. But I still remember hard lessons I learned, and this is one of them:

One of the first assignments was to write one page about a closet. My impression was that the teacher, who’d been part of the editorial staff of a magazine dedicated to fiction, wanted a writing sample. I have no memory of him going into more depth about the assignment, very likely because the word “closet” had set my brain on fire. I think I was figuratively absent for the remainder of the class.

I buckled down and wrote a short short story about a woman who hears something from the vicinity of her closet. She goes to investigate, though she is already a little nervous. She opens it, summons her courage to look deeper, and is pulled inside to her doom. Dun dun dun!

I was very proud of this story. I think I even jimmied the fonts to fit a little bit more on one page. I turned it in and waited in agony for the stories to be returned at the next class.  I got it back—he didn’t grade them, but if he did, mine wouldn’t have been stellar. He wrote comments, and his to me was that I had missed a massive opportunity in the story for character. I had glossed over the contents of the closet as clothes and shoes, some bags thrown in for a generally messy effect so that the woman couldn’t see whatever was going to “get” her. But the teacher pointed out that her clothes and shoes and whatnot would’ve revealed who she was—not just a random scared woman. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t thought of that.

Character before story. I remember the lesson well some fifteen years later. And I really should do a little investigative work and find out who that teacher was to thank him.

Le Hero

“Be not afraid of greatness; some are born great, some achieve greatness, and others have greatness thrust upon them.” The Bard

As an exercise in writer’s craft, the quote goes a long way to outlining character. Take “some are born great” for example. It may be that “born great” actually refers to the birth of the hero, but I was kinda thinking of it in terms of the hero’s introduction to the story. Lots of heroes in paranormal romance are already great—great with power, great with authority, great lovers. Their character arcs take a different form, perhaps humility or sacrifice. Then there are those who belong in the second group, who are pouring their blood and sweat into attempting to achieve something. I love these guys—they’re the stuff of the American Dream—which promises that if you work hard enough, you can achieve whatever you set your mind to. I love to see them work out their dreams in stories so that I can have the immediate gratification of their efforts, while my dreams are still works in progress, slogging through one day at a time.

The third variety is the kind of hero or heroine that would rather be watching a movie or canoodling than kicking butt, but circumstances require them to act, to fight and to reach beyond what they (and the reader) ever thought possible. These kinds of protagonists, forced into greatness, are I think closest to the average person, you and me. We live our lives, surf the web, eat too much chocolate—but we hope that if ever there is a moment when we have to step up and do the brave thing, that we will have the mettle and presence of mind to do it. I get a thrill every time I read a story online of some random, regular person being the hero of the day. Recently I saw a yahoo video of a boy jumping up to drive a school bus when the driver lost control. And once—it still makes me want to cry—I saw an online security video of a parent wrapping themselves around an infant as a car crashed into them. They both survived, the adult with two broken legs, the baby unharmed. There are a million examples, and most of them make me want to weep and/or cheer.

I’ve written all three kinds of protagonists, but the third is by far my favorite.

What about you? Think of a favorite book… What kind of hero or heroine does it feature?

First loves…

Some years back, I was house/dogsitting for a work friend and I caught a pretty bad flu. My husband couldn’t even sleep in the same bed because any movement would… be very alarming (enough said). So while I tried to breathe as shallowly as possible to survive the day, my husband searched the room’s bookshelf and found a whole lotta paperback romances. He selected Honor’s Splendour by Julie Garwood, which became my first romance. (Full disclosure: before that time I think I had read one category romance, but it had been stripped. More on that book in another post.)

Anyway, I was so sick the first day of the Dread Flu that I couldn’t even hold the book myself. My husband did the sweetest thing, worthy of a romance—he read it aloud to me. I hung on every single word, not just to save my life (which I was sure was coming to an end), but because I’d never encountered a book that put all the good bits right up front, instead of burying them in a subplot.

The hero’s name was Duncan, and he will forever have my husband’s voice. It’s one of my all-time faves.

After the first hell day passed, I was able to read by myself to pass the time. I conquered a few more of her Garwoods, and as I already had an interest in writing fiction, soon after I attempted my first romance, a medieval. I didn’t get very far into it (I think it opened with the heroine trying to escape the invading Normans). But secretly, one day I hope to go back and write the story. I’ll have to name the hero Matthew.

What was your first romance?

A rhythm to the madness

One of the keys to completing a novel—actually I think this is the biggest, hardest of them all—is the self-discipline to sit down day after day and put words on a page. The story can always be revised, grammar and punctuation learned and corrected, but the act of doing the work consistently and making forward progress, forgiving your errors in favor of reaching THE END, is the ultimate key.

A schedule, a daily rhythm to the madness, is what helps pull me through. When the schedule gets messed up, as it does 80% of the time, it’s hard to find during that remaining 20%. Recently I went to a conference, then I came home to Spring Break—kids everywhere, not an hour free. Today was the kids’ first day back at school (maniacal laughter from their mom), which means my first real day at the computer.

I’ve actually been struggling for a while with my schedule. I’ve always started the day on email and FB, with a little Twitter thrown in. But lately that time online has lengthened into “research” then random surfing. Once my mind is in that skippy, feed-me entertainment zone, it’s an act of herculean proportions to settle into a story.

But I think I may have found the solution. At the conference there was a panel on writing through adversity that has stayed with me. During the discussion, one of the authors (either on the panel or in the room) talked about her schedule, and today I stole it. Bwhahahaha! I am pleased to report seven pages. Today I was a rock star.

The change was simple. I moved my workout from the evening to the morning. In the past I’ve never wanted to give up peaceful writing time for something that I could do later with the kids running wild around me. (Earphones are awesome.) But that author was right. Somehow during a workout my imagination goes to the stories I’m working on. So instead of coasting online and then trying my hardest to buckle down, I gave up 45 min to the elliptical machine (sadistic torture device) and thereafter became galvanized to write.  I’m saved.

It’s hotter in space

This week I was supposed to unveil my newly and fabulously redecorated office. Alas, nothing has been done to beautify the space in the past two weeks. No wait—my husband moved the boxes to the other side of the room and it has become slightly messier. I’m just getting over the flu, so that didn’t help. I have a new goal to have the office done by the time I blog again in two weeks. We’ll see.

In the meantime, I have another unveiling… HOTTER ON THE EDGE, an anthology of science fiction novellas. I’ve had a space adventure going on in my head since I was a kid. I’ve tried many times to attempt to write the story, or parts of it, but it has grown too epic and unwieldy to contemplate putting into words.  I actually don’t even know who the hero or heroine is anymore since I change the main point of view character every once in a while.

Anyway, it was inevitable that I’d give space a try. I’m so excited to be included with authors KC Klein and Jessa Slade. Blurbs are below, but check out www.HotterOnTheEdge.com, my husband’s contribution to our space endeavor, for excerpts and more.

On the edge of space…

On the edge of danger…

On the edge of desire…

“All That Glitters” by Erin Kellison

Cheated out of a fortune by the Sol royal family, lowborn Simon Miner will do anything to get his revenge, no matter how ruthless. When Princess Mica Sol, a terraforming expert, is shot out of the sky on the way to her sister’s lavish wedding, she fears the worst—scavengers—and flees into an alien jungle to avoid capture. But the man who pursues and captures her is none other than Simon, her former lover. Passions reignite as violence rocks Sol City, and Simon and Mica must fight for love, family, and their world…or lose everything.

“To Buy A Wife” by KC Klein

In a harsh land where corruption rules and women are few, cold realist Hudson Land must purchase a wife to save his farm. Instead of an auction, he witnesses the start of an execution. With his first look at a beautiful woman in years, Hudson knows he has to have her—no matter the cost. Lake, a chemist and a rebel fighter, is resigned to her death, but when some back-hill farmer rescues her from the chopping block she has no intention of simply becoming his wife. She’s pledged her life to the Rebellion and being bought for some stranger’s bed doesn’t change a thing, though his soft caresses have her longing for more. As lies and secrets build between them, are the quiet moments during the nights they’ve shared enough to stand against two warring factions in a world where only the strong survive?

“Enslaved by Starlight” by Jessa Slade

Transformed by empathic crystals into the perfect paramour, Benedetta Galil is the last treasure of her fading world. When raiders attack—seeking to corrupt the crystals and conquer all of charted space—she gives herself as a prize to the one man in the universe who values freedom over power. Mercenary sheership Captain Corso Deynah left oppression behind him on a burning planet and has no use for a sex slave, even one as seductive as Benedetta. But while he stubbornly resists her body, her fierce spirit tempts him, and he will risk everything—his ship, his seclusion, the very stars—to win not just her passion but her love.

You can find HOTTER at Amazon, B&N, and Smashwords!

Reclaiming the office

Most of my Shadow series has been written from a big, comfy chair in my bedroom. And most of the time, the long ottoman from our loft has been dragged in so I can have a place to rest my feet. The surrounding area is often littered with the pages of one of my stories, usually from crit or from having my keen-eyed husband review for typos. And then there’s the day’s snack stuff. My work spread easily takes over a third of the bedroom. Not good.

So last year, we moved the kids into a room together (under duly noted protest) and my husband and I took over the empty room for our office. I tried to work in there, but somehow my mojo was tied to the chair in the bedroom. Plus, the office got cluttered quickly with random stuff from the house. And it’s been overhauled for visitors, most recently the Christmas crew.

Well, it’s January—the month of fresh starts. And I am taking the office back. It’s cleaned out now, as you can see from the photo. Curtains and rods have been purchased. And I have a bunch of random stuff I need to put for decoration or utility. My absolutely necessary whiteboard needs inconspicuous wall space. I need more shelves. A little table. My comfy chair. And I’m going to buy myself a small ottoman so that the loft can have the big one back. And I hope this transformation can happen by the end of the month.

I am not particularly talented where home decoration is concerned (suggestions welcome), but I’ll post the results next time. I’ve got a lot of writing to do this year, and I have a fantasy of doing it in a great room.

Shadow Play cover!

I am very excited to post the cover to my upcoming novella release!

Shadow Play is the second in my Shadow novella series, and though it stands alone, it also continues the story of Cam and Ellie, the main characters of the first novella, Shadow Touch. Two more novellas are planned in the series–I just turned in the synopsis for the third, tentatively titled Shadow Hunt. I can’t wait to write it.

SHADOW
The world is growing dark with it as mysteries from antiquity and legend creep into our time, bringing a new world of danger, beauty and…

MAGIC
Dr. Cam Kalamos has dedicated his life to studying its strange properties, but nothing is more intriguing than a woman whose soul is split in half, one part under her control, one part bent on…

SEDUCTION
How can he resist the lure of a lover with no inhibitions and an insatiable desire to possess him? Both Ellie and her shadow want Cam, but there is an innocent child to be rescued from the forest and the strange fae creatures of…

TWILIGHT
Love, loyalty, betrayal—which will rule? As Ellie sends her other self into the darkness, there is only one certainty: Trusting in shadows is a dangerous game.

Shadow Play releases May 2012 from Kensington Zebra.

Darker Temptations Holiday Kindle and Book Bundle Giveaway!

Update: While the Kindle Contest is running, this post will stay at the top of the blog. Please scroll down for new posts. Thank you!

Hello everyone! We have a HUGE holiday giveaway going on this month at Darker Temptations—A Kindle and a bundle of fabulous books.  The winner will be a random commenter from any post between now and December 19th. It’s that easy.  Check out the official rules below.

*Hi folks! Erin here adding that these are ebooks for your new kindle:

Kristin Miller: INTERVAMPTION
Sayde Grace:  RIDING DOUBLE, THE HARDER THEY BUCK, UNTAMABLE, and VOODOO, I DO
Erin Kellison:  SHADOWMAN and e-novella SHADOW TOUCH
Marcella Burnard:  Winner’s choice of either ENEMY WITHIN (book 1) or ENEMY GAMES (book 2)
Danica Avet: Winner’s Choice of either RUBY: UNCUT AND ON THE LOOSE or SUCCUBUS-IN-WAITING
Rebecca Zanetti: Winner’s choice of either FATED or CLAIMED
Cynthia Eden: ANGEL OF DARKNESS and my two e-novellas: BOUND BY BLOOD and BOUND IN DARKNESS
Katie Reus: DESTINED MATE and DEADLY OBSESSION

Open to all readers, 18 years or older, in US or Canada, who are legally allowed to participate in such a contest as allowed by their local laws. All federal, state, local, and municipal laws and regulations apply. Void where prohibited. No purchase necessary. Grand prize winner drawn randomly by random.org. By participating in the contest, participants agree to be bound by the decisions of the contest sponsor. Winner will be notified via email and posted on the blog.

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