Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Comparing Summer Wine Lee to Eliza Doolittle

Since My Unfair Lady was inspired by Shaw’s Pygmalion (and the movie, My Fair Lady), I was asked to compare my heroine, Summer Wine Lee, to Eliza Doolittle.

First, a little bit about My Unfair Lady. Raised in a Wild West mining town, Summer knows she’s an unacceptable bride for her fiancĂ©’s knickerbocker family. So she goes to London to hire a sponsor to turn her into a lady. The Duke of Monchester reluctantly takes on the task, and Summer’s penchant for carrying a knife in her boot, picking up stray animals, and not knowing the least thing about acceptable polite society, makes his job difficult. When the duke starts to fall in love with her just the way she is, it becomes nearly impossible. But they are both determined—even when things get more complicated when it becomes clear that someone is trying to kill the duke.

There are a few similarities between Summer and Eliza. They are both products of their environment, their speech and mannerisms determined by where they were raised. Eliza in the East end of London, with her cockney speech and crude behavior. Summer in the untamed west, with her uncultured speech and masculine pursuits. They both have indifferent fathers, men who are more concerned with their own happiness and pursuits than they are with their daughters’. But in Summer’s case, she wants to become a lady, and Eliza was pretty much bullied into it. Summer couldn’t be bullied into anything.

But I think this aspect of their character is also a product of their environment. Eliza is a product of the Victorian attitude that men are superior persons. That their needs are more important than a woman’s. Whereas, Summer pretty much raised herself. She made her own rules, and although her father’s opinion is important to her—perhaps too much so—in her every day life she’s used to making up and following her own rules. Because of this, I have a tendency to think of Summer as more similar to Annie Oakley. A girl who can compete in a man’s world. Who can ride and shoot and fight with the best of them.

Although Eliza has compassion, I think this is one of Summer’s strongest traits. Especially her compassion for injured animals. She picks up quite a menagerie, which provides for some humorous moments in My Unfair Lady, and also allows us to glimpse Summer’s fears and insecurities.

The way Summer interacts with men is different from the way Eliza does, as well. Summer trusts her instincts, knows a good man when she sees one, despite what persona he chooses to reveal to the rest of the world, and acts accordingly. She doesn’t fear men, doesn’t see them in the role as her protector, or her superior. She considers herself an equal and treats them accordingly. I think this allows her to see beyond the surface of a man, and in many ways, get closer to him on a more equal footing. Eliza never views herself as an equal to Henry Higgins, even after she is successfully transformed into a lady. Perhaps this is why there is no happily-ever-after for the two of them. And why the author left it open as to whether she goes off with Freddie, or stays with Higgins.

This is why I love writing romance.

In My Fair Lady, Eliza does come to respect and stand up for herself. Summer has always done so. But in many ways, I think Eliza is more accepting of her true nature. Summer has a long journey before she even begins to understand herself. And her hero is going to help her toward that realization, not bully her into it.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

We have some winners!

Congratulations to Anita Clenney, who won a copy of guest blogger Kris Tualla's ebook! Anita, please contact Kristin Tualla ktualla@cox.net to claim your prize.

And over on my Casablanca group blog, we have a winner for an autographed copy of BENEATH THE THIRTEEN MOONS! Congratulations to StacieDM!

It's a pleasure to spread the romance around. :}

Friday, February 18, 2011

Win an autographed copy of BENEATH THE THIRTEEN MOONS http://casablancaauthors.blogspot.com/

I have posted a 'first kiss' excerpt from THE FIRE LORD'S LOVER on my group blog today, and I'm giving away a copy of BENEATH THE THIRTEEN MOONS to one lucky commenter, so stop by and say hello! http://casablancaauthors.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Top Ten Reasons Why My Hero is Irresistible

Reason Number Ten:
Byron, the Duke of Monchester, my hero in My Unfair Lady, shares the same name of one of the most romantic English poets from the late eighteenth to early nineteenth century, who wrote She Walks in Beauty and Don Juan. Byron has some similar qualities to the English poet: He’s handsome, has had numerous love affairs, and is infamous for being a little bit ‘bad’. But unlike the poet, my Byron meets his soul mate, and is redeemed from a life that might have become dissolute.

Number Nine:
He was taught how to fight by his Chinese gardener. The discipline of Kung fu has made his hands lethal weapons…and yet he can still manage to touch a woman with gentle persuasion.

Number Eight:
Despite the fact that my heroine can take care of herself, Byron is constantly putting himself between her and danger. His bravery and perseverance can only be admired, especially when my heroine, Summer Wine Lee, keeps managing to get them into one scrape after another.

Number Seven:
Byron is like chocolate. Melt-in-your-mouth smooth and creamy, with a dark undertone of rich sweetness that makes you crave even more.

Number Six:
He has a thick head of golden blond hair, piercing blue eyes, a mouth so perfect it will remind you of a statue of Apollo, and above that masterpiece a nose that seems slightly crooked, saving him from being extraordinarily handsome to just boyishly so. Of little-bit-less than average height, my heroine never gets a crick in her neck when she kisses him.

Number Five:
He’s a man of contradictions. He appears bored, arrogant and completely jaded. And yet he helps Summer rescue baby foxes, allows her tiny dog to scuff up his boots with her pointy little teeth, and tolerates a monkey’s hug of affection.

Number Four:
It’s hard to resist a man in a cravat, a white lawn shirt…and only a button flap to separate my heroine from heaven.

Number Three:
He loves Summer because of her faults, not in spite of them. My heroine has hired him to turn her into a lady, and he desperately tries. But for a man bored of London society, her mannerisms are completely intoxicating. A visit to Paris to purchase Summer a new wardrobe turns into a chaotic involvement with her knife, the fitter, and silk drapes. A trip to the races turns into a match of wits involving Prince Albert. A jaunt in the country results in a bullet to his shoulder (not that this was the first time he’d been shot since he met Summer). Despite it all, or because of it all, Byron is having the best time of his life.

Number Two:
He has a wicked sense of humor. See Number Eight, Five, and Three above. He will desperately need it.

And the Number One reason why my hero is irresistible:
Byron knows how to pleasure a woman in bed, because really, after all is said and done…

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Comment here today to win free books from author Kris Tualla!

I'd like to welcome Kris Tualla to my blog today! She's a fabulous person, funny and kind, and she wrote a great post today for my readers, so please enjoy. Make sure to leave her a comment to enter to win her books--see below for more details.

Who says an intense historical can't be funny, too?

Certainly not I.

Humor is timeless; people laughed in every era. You know as well as I do that some Neanderthal somewhere tripped on a rock, wind-milled his arms frantically, and fell on his arse in the mud. And someone was laughing. Hard.

Humor makes manuscripts more believable. Humor makes characters more real. It can keep a scene from becoming overly maudlin or sappy. Or harsh. It can start - or halt - an argument. Besides that, life is funny. People are funny.

And humor can get an author out of some boring situations. For example, I just finished the draft of a book that has a medieval knight staying on a Scottish border estate. He is assigned a valet as a matter of course. But I got really tired of pointing out every time the man came into the room. Those lines were boring and they slowed the pace of the scenes.

So I stared having him just appear - and sort of freak out the hero when he did:

The first "odd" reference:
Jamie led Drew to the room that was once Eryn’s. To the bed where he slept a full, blissful night beside her.
“The Lady moved into the master’s chamber,” Jamie answered Drew’s unspoken confusion. “I’ll have ye in here now.”
Ian began to help him undress, though that was not Drew’s intent.
Where did he come from? Drew mused. That man always seems to materialize out of air.

The second reference:
Drew pulled a deep breath and blew it out. “I believe I ken where she’s gone—”
“Elstow Abbey?” Jamie interrupted.
“Aye. So now I must find out what made McDougal so angry.” Drew stood and wiped his mouth. Ian appeared at his elbow with a clean tunic over his arm. “How do ye do that, man?” Drew sputtered.
Ian looked at the garment in his hands. “Water and a brush. Why?”

The third reference:
“I’m afraid we met with some unfortunate circumstance on our travels, and this sorry apparel is all that I now own,” Drew said to the smiling steward. He pulled at the fabric. “I fear that even Ian might not be able to salvage these.”
“My lord, you do me a disservice,” Ian said.
Drew startled. He looked over his right shoulder. “How long have you been standing there?”
The valet looked puzzled. “I only just arrived, sire.”

It's not slap-your-knees funny. It's just quirky-make-you-smile funny. Of course, intentionally funny single scenes can happen as well. This exchange takes place in A Matter of Principle between Nicolas the hero, Rosie the prostitute, and Leif, Nicolas's adolescent cousin - as observed by Sydney (Nicolas's wife):

Rosie addressed the teen, “How old are you now?”
“I’ll be fourteen next month.” Leif stood taller. Sydney noted he was now the same height as she. Rosie nodded. “Almost time.”
“Rosie!” Nicolas barked. “He’s a child, yet.”
“I’m not a child!” Leif objected, his voice cracking.
Rosie poked Nick’s belly through his cloak. “Just ‘cause you had to wait for that woman in Norway’s no reason to keep this young man in a state of distress!”
Nicolas spoke slowly and clearly. “He is not in distress, Rosie.”
“Yes I am! I’m distressed!” Leif squeaked.
“Rosie, I believe we should let Leif’s life follow its natural course,” Sydney opined.
Rosie considered her friend. “Are you sure?”
“No!” Leif jumped up and down. “No one’s sure!”
“I am,” Nicolas answered for them all.
“It wouldn’t cost anything,” Rosie added. “I’d see to him out of friendship.”
“Did you hear that, Sir?” Leif’s voice took on a pleading quality. “Out of friendship!”
“No, thank you.”
“But I’m distressed!”
Nicolas stopped the group under a gas lamp. “What, exactly, distresses you, son?”
Leif’s mouth flapped as he glanced from Nicolas to Sydney, Rosie and back.
“You know.” Leif’s voice lowered. “Don’t make me say it in front of her.” He tilted his head
toward Sydney.
“Leif, if you cannot express it, you are certainly not ready to experience it!” Nicolas chided.
Nicolas leaned down to his young cousin’s eye level. “No.”
Leif’s countenance implored Rosie. “Ma’am?”
“You heard the boss. See me when you can manage it on your own.” Rosie laughed and started walking. “The offer stands until then.”
Sydney looked over her shoulder at Nicolas. She wasn’t sure if he was fighting anger or laughter; but when the corner of her mouth lifted, his lips twitched and pressed, barely holding back his mirth.

I can't help it. My characters have enough of me in them, that they are always finding the ridiculous connection - and they say something barely appropriate or quirky at the oddest times.
So. Isn't it time you found a humorous brand of hero or heroine? Norway IS the new Scotland, after all.

For every 10 people who comment here, I will give away one free e-copy of A Woman of Choice - the beginning of the trilogy. And, yes. Commenter #11 warrants 2 copies! Comment #21? I'll give away three.


In February at the end of my blog tour, I'll give away one SIGNED PAPERBACK SET of the trilogy. Here's how you can get in on that deal:
1. Go to http://www.kristualla.com/ and find the "Secret Word" on my home page.
2. Send an email to http://www.blogger.com/ktualla@cox.net%20 with "Signed Trilogy Giveaway" in the subject line. Put the secret word in the body.
3. Comment on any blog at any time in the tour to activate your entry. Each day's blog location is listed at http://kristualla.wordpress.com/blog-tour-dates-locations/

A Woman of Choice, A Prince of Norway, and A Matter of Principle are all available at http://www.goodnightpublishing.com/

A Woman of Choice - Missouri Territory, 1819
A woman is viciously betrayed and abandoned by her unfaithful husband. She is rescued by a widower uninterested in love. In desperation, she becomes engaged to his best friend. One woman, three very different men. Life is about choices.

A Prince of Norway - Christiania, Norway, 1820
American-born Nicolas Hansen has been asked to candidate for his great-grandfather's throne. His new wife Sydney isn't about to let him go to Norway and face that possibility alone. The moment they arrive at Akershus Castle, the political intrigue and maneuvering begin. Can Sydney trust anyone? Will Nicolas resist the seduction of power? Or will he claim the throne for himself? Most importantly: will their young marriage survive the malicious mischief of the ambitious royal family?

A Matter of Principle - St. Louis, State of Missouri, 1821
Nicolas Hansen has returned from Norway determined to change the world. But when he runs for State Legislator in the brand-new state of Missouri, the enemies he made over the past two years aren't about to step quietly aside. Sydney has made enemies of her own, both by marrying Nicolas and by practicing midwifery. When a newspaper reporter makes it his goal to destroy them, Nicolas must rethink his path once again. But this time, it's a matter of principle.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Sharing News and New Reviews

Just giving a shout-out today to an RWA chapter, some reviewers, and…Thailand!

BENEATH THE THIRTEEN MOONS recently received some very kind reviews:

I am always amazed by the depth and breadth of writing that Kathryne Kennedy offers to readers. Her ability to create new worlds that are realistic and believable with characters of immense depth astounds me. Here is a master storyteller who continues to improve with each book. I loved this book and the sub-themes that echo around humanity no matter where you live.

Not being a great writer myself, I wish I could write exactly how wonderful and magical this book was but I hope if you are a fantasy fan you pick this up. This is one of those books that will be with me forever, and one that I could read again and again.

Volusia County Romance Writers awarded MY UNFAIR LADY third place in their historical romance category, and sent me a lovely certificate.

Grace Publishing in Thailand recently purchased the foreign rights to THE FIRE LORD’S LOVER. Hopefully, I’ll receive a few author copies and be able to share them with you all.

It’s always wonderful to receive good news! Thanks a million for letting me share it with you!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

My step-by-step guide to how I get inspiration for my writing:

Step 1:
Get out of the house. People watch. When they speak, what mannerisms do they use? What features make them attractive? I often use the eyes, nose, and mouths of different people to create the image of my character. What color/style clothing are they wearing? How does it reflect their personality? I let my imagination run wild, guessing their background, what events in their life have shaped them, even what kind of day they are having based on their actions. All of this is great inspiration for developing my characters.

Step 2:
Write. My writing often inspires my next book.

Step 3:
Read. Watch movies. There’s an old saying that art inspires art, and I’ve often found this to be true in my case. I will catch a theme, or a character, or part of a story that captivates me, and give it my own spin.

Step 4:
My favorite book for inspiring my characters is Laurie Schnebly’s Believable Characters: Creating with Enneagrams. I look for the personality of the character I’ve already created in my head and study the attributes for decision-making that defines them. If I’m stuck on a character’s motives, this always gets me inspired to search for a deeper motivation!

Step 5:
Research. This gives me such inspiration, allowing me to step into the historical world of my characters and to truly visualize their every day life. My research will also often inspire scenes in my books and help me create adventures for my hero & heroine.

Step 6:
Bounce ideas off my family. My husband and sons are great listeners, and will often let me talk my story out loud, which often leads to me solving a dilemma in the plot. They are careful to listen much, and add comments rarely. What more could I ask for?

Step 7:
Attend my writer’s meetings. Talking to other writers always inspires me to write. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m in a roomful of other creative people and we feed off of each other, or if their excitement for the story generates my own excitement. But I’m always a fiend at the keyboard the next day.

Step 8:
Read my saved mail. I’m not sure if other writers do this, but whenever I receive an email from a reader, I save it in a special folder. If I’m having a difficult day writing, the stormy kind of ones where I doubt myself or my work, I read through all the wonderful notes from people who have loved my books, and are looking forward to my next one.

Step 9:
I go back to step 2. And if I get stuck, I repeat step 1, for it always helps to clear the mind and remind me that there’s a world of characters out there besides the ones I create. People who I don’t know, but I might have touched with my stories. How magical is that?