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Friday, March 27, 2009

How Many, How Many?

How many points of view do you think should be included in a romance novel? Just the hero and heroine? Or do you like for secondary characters to also have their turn?

In general, I’ve always thought that if you had a full length novel you needed secondary characters’ POV to enhance and move the story along. Imagine my surprise when I recently received a very nice email from a publisher to whom I had submitted a novel. She told me she loved it, but I had to get rid of all POVs except the hero and heroine.

I suppose I could do it, but I think it would weaken the story because a major portion of the novel centers on how the hero and heroine hurt others with their actions. I think having multiple POVs gave a sense of urgency to the story that would be missing without the secondary characters voice.

On the other hand, The Welcome Inn has multiple POV's, and the reviews on it were great.

So, what’s an author to do? I spoke with Karin Gillespie a few months ago, and she said she doesn’t have too many POVs. In her next novel she has four main characters, but she only has two POVs.

Authors and readers, what do you think? Do you like the secondary characters to have a voice?

Friday, March 20, 2009


The Southernisms in my part of the south came mainly from Scotch-Irish immigrants who immigrated to America for political and economic reasons. Beginning in 1750 they arrived in large numbers, many coming through the port of Philadelphia which was the largest port in the country at that time. They found that land along the coasts had already been taken so they found open areas that suited them in the uplands of the Piedmont and along the rivers and streams of the Appalachian and Allegheny Mountains. Continuing migration filled in the inland South.

Okay, enough history. This isn’t a history lesson. All I want to do is share a few southern expressions with you. This might be helpful if you ever visit the South because we still say some of these. However, don’t be saying too many of them. TV and newcomers have influenced the South, and diluted our regional dialect. People might think you were mocking them.

1. ya’ll This means you all and is PLURAL. How are ya’ll doing means you AND your family.
2. kin to-related to. Are you kin to Robert?
3. idnit-isn’t it. The weather is fine idnit?
4. fixin-getting ready to do something. I’m fixin to go to the store.
5. hissy fit- you lost your temper and carried on. She had a hissy fit when she found out about the car.
6. sorry-no account. He’s about as sorry as they come.
7. thang-any object I almost broke that thang.
8. thank-think I thank I left it at Joe’s house.
9. caint-can’t I caint solve this problem.
10. frazzle-fatigue, nervousness His nerves are frazzled.

Here are some expressions I’ve heard older people say, but younger people don’t use them regularly.

Poke-a sack
Holler-a small valley
Spell- a stretch of time
Study-think about it

What about the rest of you Southerners? What words would you add to the list?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Love Fairy

Most people have heard of leprechauns and maybe the Banshee, but have you ever heard of the lianhan shee? She’s often called the love fairy, but she doesn’t specialize in happily ever after endings. Her goal is nothing else than the love and dominion of mortal men.

Few men are able to resist her, and those who answer her call become her slave. She can be compared with a vampire, for she drains her victims body and soul. If you’re one of the luck ones who can resist her then she becomes your slave.

Each fairy woman who falls in love becomes one with her, for there is only one lianhan shee, and she is more force than woman. When a man is caught in her web, she becomes the center of his world. The more suffering she inflicts on him, especially by her absence, the more he’s drawn to her. She creates such desire in men that they’ll do anything to be with her.

There is one thing, though. To possess her they must meet her in Tir-na-n-Og. That means they have to die to enjoy her. W. B. Yeats (1888) thought the ‘leanhaun shee’ would inspire a poet or singer so intensely that its earthly life would necessarily be brief, and truthfully many of the Irish poets and singers died young.

We don’t know what she looks like because she is invisible to anyone except the mortal man who loves her. I guess that’s just as well; she’s the essence of desire, and who can adequately describe that?

Happy St. Patrick’s Day to all of you.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Remember your first kiss? What if the man you loved more than life itself gave that kiss to you, and after five years of happiness and the birth of a child he died and left you alone? Would you risk your heart again when a new man comes along, or would your memories and your precious child be enough for you?

That’s the situation Jenna West finds herself in. In this excerpt from Purple Heart, Jenna and the new man in her life, Mike Hightower, share a first kiss.

Purple Heart is available as an ebook or in print. Order it from

I have another first kiss scene posted under the Romancing February post. Just scroll down to find it. That kiss is from The Welcome Inn now available at

It felt nice to be part of a couple again. It had been a
long time since a man opened doors for her, paid for her
dinner, or took her to a movie. She and Ethan had done
all of those things, but Ethan had died six year ago. She
usually went to the movies with Crystal, and while she
appreciated Crystal’s friendship more than she could say,
having a date with a man did make a nice change.

All too soon for Jenna, the evening ended, and they
went back to the duplex. She hated to go inside. The night
sky was filled with stars, and the smell of the roses she
had planted last year filled the balmy air with a sweet
perfume. She wondered if Mike too hated for the evening
to end; she thought he did.

Jenna knew that she should shake Mike’s hand and
go inside, but truthfully, she had something else in mind.
She hadn’t felt a man’s kiss in a long time, and she
wanted to kiss Mike. She wanted to kiss him to see if it
was okay to kiss a man other than Ethan.

She thought that Mike wanted to kiss her too. He
took a small step closer to her and put his arms around

For a moment, Jenna thought that she had made a
mistake because Mike didn’t smell or feel like Ethan. In
another second, she would have pulled out of his arms,
but he shut his eyes, and his lips touched hers.

And Jenna thought she might have died and gone to
heaven. Kissing Mike sent little chills up and down her
backbone, and her insides felt all squishy and warm.

So, what do you think Jenna will do?

Friday, March 6, 2009

The Music Of The South

My special guest today is Steve Cantrell, a guy who's near and dear to my heart. Steve's a great musician. His obsession with music began in high school where he played the violen in his high school strings group. He decided he liked the drums better so for four years he was lead drummer in the high school band. After he graduated from high school he switched from drums to the guitar, but he found what he was looking for when he found the mandolin.

Steve's going to talk about the music of the south so I'll be quiet and let him get started. Oh, why is he so near and dear to my heart? He's my son. Thanks for helping Mom out, Steve.

There’s really no way to properly examine southern culture without discussing the music that is such an integral part of it, and there’s really no other place to start such an investigation than with the man who has properly come to define the music of the south: Bill Monroe.

Bill Monroe was born in Rosine, Kentucky in 1911 and spent the majority of his youth in relative isolation, with it generally being understood that he might be retarded due to his vision, which made him quiet and reflective. In the crude terminology of the day, Monroe was “hug-eyed”, meaning one eye seemed to drift away. Perhaps as a result of his poor vision—if you buy that one disabled sense can lead to an augmentation of another—Monroe began to have a keen ear for music. As a youth he became close with his uncle Pendleton Vandiver, a local fiddler of some renown, who began to take Monroe along with him when he played for square dances, this being a major form of entertainment for those with no radio or television to offer them diversion. As well, Monroe had begun to associate with an African-American blues musician named Arnold Schultz who has a near legendary reputation as a bluesman of consummate skill, sadly never recorded.

Eventually, Monroe and his brothers found their way into the city for work, where they began to play their rollicking, old-time fiddle music for groups of fellow southerners who were also transplants and eager to hear the sounds from their homes. Monroe eventually had corrective surgery to straighten his eyes, perhaps adding enough confidence and marketability to make him appealing to the regional “barn dance” shows. Bill and his brother Charlie became professional musicians.

The Monroe Brothers were a household name in the south in the 30’s, traveling North and South from their base of operations in Greenville, SC and appearing on short radio segments. Monroe developed a high, keening tenor (perhaps mimicking the field hollers used to communicate across the valleys of Kentucky) and accompanied with his brother’s soothing baritone and guitar made a pleasing combination. The essential element was added by Monroe’s mandolin.

In stark contrast to the size of the instrument, Monroe played with ferocity and swagger, developing his own style of hard downstrokes combined with a shuffling right hand reminiscent of the country shuffle of his Uncle Penn’s bow, and bluesy, fast-as-lightning slides which were certainly a result of his exposure to Arnold Schultz. It changed the role of the mandolin from a parlor or orchestral instrument into a front-and-center lead.

By the 40’s, Bill had left his brother and formed his own band, called the Bluegrass Boys as an homage to this native state of Kentucky. To his lineup he added Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs on guitar and banjo respectively, and the now-traditional bluegrass band began to take shape. Characterized by a driving beat, the roll of a banjo and the jazz-like, long, improvised solos, Monroe had created a distinctly American sound, and one that would shape the course of modern music.

It is Monroe’s fiery mandolin that can be heard in Chuck Berry’s guitar work for “Johnny B. Goode”, and of course it is a known fact that Elvis Presley was hugely influenced by the work of Monroe, picking the Monroe-penned “Blue Moon of Kentucky” as the first song he recorded for the legendary Sun Records. While Monroe himself became marginalized within popular music, his musical footprint was so large that most didn’t even realize they were stepping in it.

For years he toiled in near-obscurity until the folk boom of the 60’s, when Monroe was once again brought center stage and acknowledged as the father of an entire genre of music, most notably through the efforts of folklorist Ralph Rinzler. The advent of music festivals exposed Monroe to another generation of wide-eyed fans, who surely had to comb their hair back down after hearing Monroe sing so loudly that the mics would distort, or hear the long, scorching instrumentals like “Rawhide” or “Jerusalem Ridge”.

Monroe is one of the few people to have been inducted into both the Country and Rock Music Halls of Fame, and remains force today despite his death in 1996 . Any new Bluegrass sound is placed against the Monroe measuring stick to discover whether it is worthy of listening.