When I embarked on my professional writing journey just under two years ago, one of the first authors I had the pleasure of meeting was Pauline Allan. Our debut books came out around the same time and we found ourselves in many of the same circles. I immediately gravitated to Pauline’s kind nature and wonderful talent, and enjoyed reading her first book See Me. (I still think about a certain strawberry scene!)
Therefore, it is my great pleasure to welcome Pauline as she celebrates the launch of her new book Gilded Lily.
I hope you’ll sit back as this incredibly talented author shares how to be the architect of your own story. Welcome, Pauline!
“Be the Architect of Your Story”
There’s a term in publishing. The word is elusive, coveted, and unique. Well, if you plan on selling any books you better damn hope it’s unique. Voice. The word has slipped across your ears a thousand times, but in writing the word is pivotal. Critical. If crafted, it’s the one word that will get you bee-lined to an editor’s desk. If your voice is fragmented or lost. The manuscript you’ve slaved over for two years falls into the slush pile with the millions of other wanna be novels that didn’t declare a voice. No voice. No contract.
The concept of the writer’s personal voice is essential for any genre, but unmistakably invaluable when writing erotic romance. The reader plays a movie in her/his head and senses the tone of the book according to the writer’s voice. The weaving of a writer’s craft is a direct reflection of how an author relays everything from how the character sips from a glass of wine to how she puts her bra on in the morning. Every word is constructed from our personality, experiences, and nuances all rolled into one.
When writing erotic romance/romance we draw from experience. All of us have had bad, unhealthy relationships. The way we build a story reflects those feelings about the highs and lows of that union. It’s the subconscious spilling out on the pages. The plot is determined by the journey of our life. In erotic romance it is imperative that the reader make an emotional connection with the characters. If they are not feeling the heroine’s angst and the heroes self-torment then they quickly lose the connection with the book. You have to bond with your characters. They have to speak your voice to the reader through them.
When I received my first contract I asked my publisher, “Why me? Why this book?” When I read the email I was floored. She said it was my voice that had struck the editor. My voice? What in the hell did that mean? I dove into research about this voice concept. During this process I discovered that I did in fact have a distinct voice. The development of a voice is two-fold. One, you can’t wa-la have a voice overnight. Your uniqueness develops over time. And two, once you have discovered the motivation behind your style the sky is limitless. Remember. Sell your voice. Sell your book.
Just as Gena Showalter adds humor to her stories, and J.R. Ward adds kick-ass-ed-ness to her books, I add a tone of darkness to my novels. I work off the concept of the sacred and profane. I was a religious study major in college so every book I write has an undercurrent of the sinfully forbidden and quiet redemption of crushed souls. I, at first unknowingly, craft characters that appear to be too broken to be put back together. Somehow by the end of the book they are not perfect, but they gain self-acceptance and see the light leading them to happiness. I push the boundaries of what is acceptable, both for the reader and the publisher.
In See Me there is a scene regarding rape and attempted murder of the heroine. In Gilded Lily, set in the heart of Louisiana, the shacks on the property have a horrific history. My next two projects push those boundaries again delving into suicide, mental illness, infidelity, drug use, and prostitution. I must add that peppered through these dark threads are points of humor. I honestly have no idea where these little nuggets originate, but they just seem to appear. Again, the subconscious playing its part.
A productive task when learning the style of your voice is to write down certain events in your life that have affected you. Correlate those events to a feeling you experienced. Do you see a thread? Is there a common theme of how you reacted, dealt with those situations? Now, brainstorm a list of story concepts. Same thing goes. How would these scenarios play out in reference to how you handled the real life experiences? Do you use humor as a coping mechanism? Are you quick to get angry? Do you problem solve quickly? Do you laugh at your own mistakes? These emotions are embedded in who you are and can be siphoned into the natural dialogue and essence of your character’s personalities.
Read several books by your favorite authors. Those books are on your keeper shelf because you bonded with the author’s voice. You somehow connected with the tone of the book. Let’s be honest here. How many ways can a vampire find his human, a wolf find his mate, or a captain rescue his woman from the hands of a pirate? This isn’t rocket science when looking at sweeping romantic themes. So, why do you choose Lisa Kleypas’s over Charlotte Featherstone or Cara Bristol over Cherise Sinclair? You connect with the way the writer speaks to you. Think of the voice as the soul of the story. While we can construct plot, arcs, appearance of the characters, the nature of the story is buried somewhere deep in yourself.
The most emotional and gripping storytellers can’t tell you where exactly their style originated. They can tell you they wrote a scene because it was funny to them. It was heart breaking to them. Or it was scary as hell to them. The essence of those feelings make the exciting world of the writer’s voice.
So remember, when you’re preparing a manual for submission, are you in this story? Are your feelings hidden in the pages? If not, rethink the tone of the book and study yourself to make the pages shine.
If nothing else, take this piece of advice and tuck it in your thoughts when you sit in front of your next manuscript. No voice. No contract.
Gilded Lily Blurb:
Adam’s ferocious sexual appetite for submission has left him frustrated and alone. He turns to the photo in his wallet. The woman’s full lips smile with laughter. The yellow sundress hugs her soft curves. The beautiful muse. His elusive flower.
Lily has a dark secret. A submissive without a Dominant, her life had derailed with grief, solitude, and rejection. Until a mysterious stranger’s erotic education led to unfathomable pleasure.
Tony knew Lily’s training would be his last attempt to escape the void in his life. An experienced Dom with the very nature of his control shaken, he has to run. There’s one last responsibility to take care of before he can leave.
Lily, his once timid sub, is testing her boundaries and craves more. A love he can never give.
Tragedy leads Adam to Lily’s plantation in Louisiana. While packing his brother’s belongings, Tony offers the one precious thing Adam could never deny. The submission of his elusive flower.
The clock is ticking. Tony wants freedom. Adam demands total submission. Lily must choose. Does she cling to the safety of Tony’s commands or risk the rejection of Adam’s love?
Either way, a submissive’s trust is a fragile thing. Once broken…it’s lost forever.
Buy link: http://www.loose-id.com/gilded-lily.html
How to reach Pauline Allan: