Genre Month: What Makes Romance Suspenseful?

By Fay Lamb

There are elements that go into every great romantic suspense:

An Introduction of a Likeable Hero and Heroine

A romantic suspense is first and foremost a romance. So, the same rule applies when in comes to the introduction of a hero and heroine. While most rules can be broken by those who are intimate with them, generally the reader must meet the hero and heroine by the end of the first chapter or no later than the second. If possible, the couple should also meet within that time frame. These main characters must be likeable. Otherwise, forget the villain. Your readers will want to kill them for you.

Bolster the hero and heroine with personalities that will make the reader want the couple together. In Frozen Notes, the hero and heroine are in vastly different places, but they are both facing traumatic events: one a murder-suicide that leaves the character shocked and filled with grief. The other is an accidental overdose that makes the character want to live. The hero and heroine know each other. In fact, the hero’s long-ago actions caused both horrific events. Because both are facing an uphill battle that started with the demise of their relationship, the reader’s want these two together.

A Conflict Fueled Plot Driven by a Troublesome Villain (or Two)

Conflict is the fuel that drives a story forward. Without fuel, the story won’t even sputter and die. In a romantic suspense, this fuel is often what drives the couple’s separation, keeping them apart.

The conflict in the main plot of a suspense novel must be the villain (person or thing) that will bring danger to the hero and heroine. The villain’s actions may be toward only one member of the dynamic duo, but at some point in the plot, the villain must be a threat to both the hero and heroine. The conflict he or she brings to the story must build as the story moves forward.

In Frozen Notes, there is more than one villain, but all want what the heroine has hid from everyone. Yet, the heroine has only one of the items sought—the item that can hurt someone she loves. The hero has been entrusted with information that can bring all the villains down. The chapters build with the reader being made privy to new information—new twists in the story—with each scene building on the conflict.

 

 Pacing: the Right Speed in the Right Scene

I’m often asked the difference between a thriller and suspense. The difference is the pacing. Generally, a thriller moves quickly. The author uses short, clipped sentences or other techniques to develop a sense of urgency to the scenes, which amp up to a fast pace with a lot of action. The action might build to a point where the reader is clinging to the seat waiting to see what’s going to happen next. The key to this type of writing is to keep the characters in motion, fighting against conflict.

A writer of suspense, though, must develop the skill that allows them to recognize when to slow the pace of the story in order to draw out the tension of a scene.

In Frozen Notes both techniques are used. In a scene where a shot rings out and a bullet hits the outside of the heroine’s home in close proximity to her head, you can be assured that time of the essence. The action moves quickly. Later, though, when a villain is holding the hero captive and he sees a way to get the gun out of the villain’s hands, the action is slowed. Each movement scrutinized, drawing out the scene for the reader. That’s the Alfred Hitchcock style of suspense, and when done correctly it works on the page just as it does on the screen. A student of romantic suspense will study these scenes to make sure that the pacing used is just right.

Oh, and no writer ever wants to hurry the romantic kiss. The key is to turn the slow pace of the suspenseful moment into one the reader wants to see occur rather than one the reader wants the character to avoid.

And last, we have our …

Happy-Ever After Ending

Spoiler alert: in Frozen Notes the hero and heroine have a happy-ever-after ending. I don’t mind telling you that because while the sweet kiss, lover’s embrace, or a poignant moment is nice, it usually comes at the end of the story. The heart of a romantic suspense—the part that an author wants the reader to remember—is the journey that got them to that moment.

So, find that lovable hero and heroine, put them into conflict with a villain or two, and amp up or draw out the suspense to take the reader on an adventure they will never forget. Give the hero and heroine a happy ending, and let the villain get what he or she deserves.

Click to tweet: A Month of Genre. Romantic Suspense post by Fay Lamb. “A writer of suspense, though, must develop the skill that allows them to recognize when to slow the pace of the story in order to draw out the tension of a scene.” #Suspense #amwriting


Frozen Notes

Lyric Carter’s dreams of fame and fortune in a rock band ended the day Balaam Carter left to pursue their dreams without her. When Balaam’s brother promised to love and protect Lyric and to love her son, Cade—his brother, Balaam’s child—as his own, she believed him. But Braedon turned her dreams into a nightmare by killing Balaam’s best friend, turning the gun on himself, and placing Lyric in the middle of a criminal investigation that could leave her and Cade dead. Balaam Carter’s every dream has come true, but he’s living in a nightmare of addiction and regret. The famous rock star would give everything he has to return to the girl he once held in his arms—back when his only crime was running moonshine for his father.

Now, he’s seeking redemption for all the destruction his dreams have brought to the people he loves. No one said the road to recovery would be easy, but Balaam is also desperate to protect Lyric and the little boy he left behind from a state full of drug lords who believe Lyric has the evidence that will tumble their lucrative cartels. Balaam’s continued sobriety, his natural ability for finding his way out of trouble, and his prayers to God above for the strength to never let them down again are all that he has to protect Lyric and his son. And still, he doesn’t know if he’s up for the task.

Coming in April: Delilah

Genre Month: True Southern Fiction

By Jennifer Hallmark

The woods are full of regional writers, and it is the great horror of every serious Southern writer that he will become one of them.” Flannery O’Connor

The Deep South: South Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi, Louisiana, and of course, Alabama. That’s the definition I found online. Some added in Tennessee, North Carolina, Arkansas, Texas, and Florida—but everyone knows Florida isn’t too Southern since its population is from everywhere.

Why is this information important on a genre-based post? Look at Flannery O’Connor’s quote again. Anyone can write a book and throw some Southern lingo and sweet tea into it and call the work Southern fiction. To me, fiction of that sort is more of what O’Connor calls a regional book.

True Southern fiction has to be lived. One must mingle with the people of the Deep South, taste black-eyed peas, embrace the aroma of jambalaya, the texture of freshly picked cotton, the humidity, the Bible belt, and the redneck. Southern fiction is about family, not just one generation but how our ancestors shape each and every character.

You must be able to write in such a way where it’s not like reading about a foreign country, for those who’ve never set a foot below Kentucky. It must have its own flavor but be relatable. One must be able to feel the emotions and live the story as if it could happen to them. Readers need to feel the sweat, swat the mosquitos, and relish the fried okra right along with the characters.


Only then do you have a story that is immersed in the culture. That’s the kind of Southern fiction I read.

 

New to Southern fiction? Classic writers include:

And some of my favorites are authors I call friends:

Check out any and all of these to put an overall face and voice to the South. And don’t miss my debut Southern fiction release, Jessie’s Hope, releasing on June 15, 2019, published by Firefly Southern Fiction.

Click to Tweet:  Southern fiction is about family, not just one generation but how our ancestors shape each and every character. #South #amreading

Writing prompt: Dixie grabbed a red solo cup and filled it with sweet tea. She made her way through the church fellowship hall toward…

3 Questions Wednesday with Ginger Solomon

Ginger 6 - brightened smallIt is my sincere pleasure to welcome author, blogger, and mother of 7, Ginger Solomon to 3 Questions Wednesday. Let’s get started!  First question–

 Can you describe yourself in three words?

Ginger:  Introvert, Mother, Writer

As a mother of 7 children, I would bet you have lots of patience also! Next question–

Someone offers you a fully-paid writing research trip to any place you desire to go. Where would it be and why?

Ginger:  Scotland, hands down. I would love to spend the time researching and visiting the castles. 😊 I’ve done my ancestry, and I’m not in any way Scottish (I am mostly Irish and English), but I have had a love for that country for a long time. I love their accents. I love castles. I have to say, though, that I will not be trying haggis. LOL

haggis-3094697__340Haggis is a Scottish dish consisting of a sheep’s or calf’s offal mixed with suet, oatmeal, and seasoning and boiled in a bag, traditionally one made from the animal’s stomach.

I had to look that up…ewwww!!  Now–

If someone made a movie of your life, what would be the theme song?

Ginger:  It’s a newer song, but I’ve related to “You Say” by Lauren Daigle.

I have often felt like I’m not enough, that I will never measure up to other’s expectations. But one line keeps running through my head. It says, “The only thing that matters now is everything You think of me, in You I find my worth, in You I find my identity.”

I have to remember, daily, WHOSE I am. As another song says, “I am a child of God.” He is my father. He loves me. And even when I fail, He is there to pick me up, wipe away the grime, fix my boo-boos, and encourage me to try again. And again. And again.

Those are lovely songs with such beautiful messages.

Thanks, Ginger, for taking time out of your busy schedule to answer our questions and help your readers get to know you better.

Readers, Ginger will be giving away The Heart of Christmas collection to one commenter. So, leave her a comment, or ask her a question, and your name will go into the drawing for the book.

Click to Tweet: Author Ginger Solomon is our guest today at 3 Questions Wednesday. #InspiredPrompt #Interview #Christmasgiveaway


The Heart of Christmas: A Romantic Christmas Novella Collection

Announcing five new stories filled with faith, hope, forgiveness, and of course happily-ever-afters. Each story focuses on an element of the Nativity, from the angels to the wise men. Be swept up in the love of the season and the promise of forever that the Christ child, the true Heart of Christmas, brings.

On Angels’ Wings by Ginger Solomon
Bakery owner, Jenna Wing prepares to spend Thanksgiving alone—her first without her family. When her former neighbor, Thomas Hayes, invites her to dinner, she finds that she can’t say no. Their previous friendship turns to something more, but Thomas’s family issues threatens their new-found relationship.

No Room in His Heart by Bonita McCoy
What happens when Evie’s car breaks down on the highway and her only hope is the handsome, sure of himself inn owner who can’t find his phone and lives off pizza?
A sweet Christmas romance … with lots of zing that will have you laughing.

Born for You by Leah Fornier
Ryder has never set foot in a church. But when his best friend, Kenna, begs him to direct a church Christmas play, he can’t refuse. As he and Kenna work through a series of mishaps, Ryder finds himself drawn to the One born for him. And also to Kenna.

Finding Wisdom in Noel by Janie Winsell
Travel photographer Billie accepts an assignment in Noel, Montana, to escape her ex-fiance’s wedding. Aiden takes custody of his nephew Kris and embarks on a journey of parenthood. When a luggage mishap brings Billie and Aiden together, they must find healing and wisdom in order for their love to flourish.

Season of Forgiveness by Darcy Fornier
Ruby Larson adopted Ivy Carlyle as her granddaughter when Ivy helped her arrange her funeral. When Ruby’s estranged grandson, Denver Reese, appears, Ivy is reluctant to share Ruby’s attention. As the two plan Ruby’s Christmas, unexpected attraction draws them closer. But Ivy’s painful past challenges their friendship.

Introductory poems by Betty Boyd


Ginger 6 - brightened smallGinger Solomon is a Christian, a wife, a mother to seven, and a writer—in that order (mostly). She writes or reads inspirational romance of any genre, and if she’s busy homeschooling, doing laundry, or fixing dinner, books are on her mind.

She’s a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, president of her local writing group, and blogs regularly for InspyRomance.com and at gingersolomon.com.

You can connect with Ginger at:

Website

Inspy Romance Blog

Facebook Author Page.

Twitter @GingerS219

Pinterest

Amazon Author Page

Take Time to Look at the Past

Writing in the Historical Genre.

When I started writing it wasn’t hard for me to choose a genre.  As a young girl I loved reading Nancy Drew. Nancy was everything I wanted to be, smart, popular, and fearless. When I turned thirteen all that changed with a book I checked out from the bookmobile. It was called “The Distant Summer” by Sarah Patterson. Romance had taken hold of my page turning habits.  Boy meets girl just made my heart zing. In high school I found a new love, history. Putting my love of history together with romance just made my world complete.

My first novel is set during the American Revolution. With some help from a writing group; a brainstorming session created my hero and heroine. The historical facts took a bit longer. A lot of research goes into historical fiction writing.

There are many sources available to research a historic period. Books, the internet, libraries, and historical societies are all a wealth of information. This summer my husband and I went to Washington, D.C. for a short trip. About two hours south of that city in Virginia is  Colonial Williamsburg, a living history museum. I fell in love with the place! Doing a research trip is totally worth it. I found so many interesting stories while doing my research. There are truly so many real characters who played instrumental roles in forging our country that adding  your interpretation of those historical characters to your novel can add a bit of authenticity.

Throw a dart at a map of our original thirteen colonies and land on a spot rich in history to use in your historical novel. You could choose any time period and do the same. Some of my favorite historical novels are not necessarily considered romantic. You can weave a historical tale without the romance. A character study of a type of historical figure like a spy during the American Revolution, or the Civil War, who happens to be a romantic is a great historical story.  The possibilities are endless.

I have learned through this writing journey to listen to the advice from those who have traveled this worn path. Save everything. Not that you need to become a hoarder mind you, but there may come a time when your historical facts need to be proved. Keeping track of your sources will make this less stressful. A notebook, or three ring binder for keeping documents and the ideas you’ve chicken-scratched on little bit of paper. I also keep a notebook on my nightstand, I can’t tell you how many times an idea will present itself while I lay in bed at night.

There is also a computer application called Scrivener which will allow you to keep all your sources, documents, notes, pictures, and your manuscript all in one place. It will even help you format your book. So, think about those days gone by, there just might a story there.

 

Take a page from the #past

 

Writing Prompt: You just found a diary in a dusty old trunk in your Grandmother’s attic. It tells a story of one of your long lost ancestors. Tell me about him/her and the time period they lived in.

More Winners in November

Happy holidays! Christmas will be here before you know it.  Have you finished your decorating, baking and shopping? Me either.  But  I’ll get to it as soon as I tell you about our November winners…

Anne Baxter Campbell will give away a print or Kindle copy of Blessed by Time to Marilyn RCongrats!

Jean Peterson would love to give a gift card to her personal website to Katie Clark. Yay!

Judythe Morgan is gifting either a print or a Kindle copy of her book, When Love Blooms, to Ginger Solomon. Woo hoo!

Donna Schlachter is offering a free print copy of MissAdventure Brides Collection to Linda Matchett .

Our faithful readers mean so much to us. We appreciate each and every one of you. THANK YOU!