Thursday, June 11, 2009
Serenity blanketed my bucolic existence. The children sat politely, using bowls and spoons for soup, a wonderful achievement. The utensils, not the soup. The radio offered Brad Paisley, never a bad thing. Full from a 10 oz. bottle, Baby Logan bestowed chubby-cheeked smiles to the world from his doorway bouncer.
I should have known it was too good to be true.
Sadie, our three-month-old Golden Retriever puppy grabs the baby’s bottle AND Missy Tippens new book “His Forever Love” from the porch table, (Good book, Missy! I find the best books are those that look well-read, don’t you????) curls up on the welcome mat, nuzzling the bottle with Missy’s now gently- chewed book beside her, looking for all the world like she’d just settled in for some inspirational romance chill time.
I rescue the book and the bottle. Sadie runs to the yard to do her ‘business’, and a forgotten 6 week-old kitten has decided the living room rug makes a great litter box. Oy vey. I take care of that, return said kitten to her mother in the basement, and open the front door. Sadie prances in, tail-high, a true hunter, her mouth full of the crusty remains of a really bad-smelling, decomposing BIG frog.
Talk about sensory overload.
“Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeewwwwwwwwwwww,” shriek the children. “Something smells really BAD!”
Thank you, Captain Obvious.
Pry really nasty remains from pup’s mouth. Kennel Sadie with stern admonishments about dead animals in the house. Quiet the kids with ice cream. Change the baby.
Ya’ see why I write? Total escapism. Writing allows me to capture these moments and share them with an unsuspecting public. Well. I’ll share them once I’m pubbed, LOL! Good writing offers crazy, poignant, funny, heart-warming vignettes of real life and makes them relatable to the reading public.
And keeps me out of the institution for the criminally insane.
And now, for our feature article:
Take the meat of one cowboy…
Now cowboy meat comes in all shape and sizes. Most cowboys aren’t six feet tall and 190 lbs. Just sayin’.
They can be rangy. Tough. Muscled. Arrogant. Antagonistic. I mean, seriously, how freakin’ friendly would YOU be after getting kicked around and embarrassed by a 1500 lb. animal whose rankings rise depending on how mean and ornery they are and how fast they KICK YOUR BUTT? I might be a little testy, too.
Even the nicest cowboy can use a little tenderizing. Toss in some sweet talk, followed by two cups of sexual tension. Heck, the only action this guy’s seen for months on the circuit is the dirt floor of the arenas. Let’s lighten him up a little. Give him something to think about, pray about at Cowboy Church.
Add pretty girl.
Now I’ve read novels without pretty girls. I’ve read overweight, really plain, positively witchy and stuck on themselves heroines.
Soooooo not a fan. There’s a reason romance heroines are attractive. We ALL want to be attractive to our mates. That’s like the basic law of survival. If we’re not attractive to them, we’ll never procreate, end of story, end of species. Simple, really.
Pretty girl does NOT have to be a cowgirl. Might be better if she’s not because despite what George Strait sings, a good balance can be had by mixing careers and goals, thus ripening the stew stockpot with TENSION and INTERNAL CONFLICT. Talk about adding pepper! Yee Haw! We’re startin’ to ride high now!
It never hurts to throw in a good horse…
There’s something about a man in the saddle that puts us in mind of… Dare I say it here?????
God’s eternal wisdom!
Grinning. Couldn't resist.
Toss in a crooked smile or a rakish grin, one or two “Ma’am’s” and you’ve got juices flowing. Oh my, why on earth don’t they make more Westerns???? Are ya’ kiddin’ me?
Horse can be any color, but should be an old and trusted friend OR a new recruit, a bit skittish, reflecting hero’s inner turmoil or heroine’s discomfort at finding herself in cowboy land.
Good stew needs potatoes…
Now I’m Irish, so I’m a big fan of potatoes. Boil ‘em, mash ‘em, fry ‘em, bake ‘em. I haven’t met a potato I didn’t like.
The potatoes in your stew are your secondary characters. They can be red, white, yellow, brown, thin-skinned or thick, meaty or slim, any shape or size, young or old, or a mix of the above. Potatoes differentiate the plot, building the sauce with natural starch. They provide a filling interlude that bridges the gap between the meat and the gravy. Or boy and girl.
Don’t skimp on potatoes, but leave plenty of room for meat and gravy interaction. Sometimes the meat will hide behind the potatoes. That’s okay, as long as the gravy (girl) finds the meat eventually. Draws him out of his hard-workin’ cowboy shell.
Sometimes the gravy spurns the meat. Well, that just means the meat ain’t puttin’ forth enough effort. A good piece of meat (I cannot tell you how much fun I’m having with this analogy. Seriously. Writing a blog should never be THIS MUCH FUN!!!!) knows how to seek the gravy, dabble a bit. Heighten the gravy’s awareness. There are many ways to do this, depending on your target market. This crucial step allows the gravy latitude to mingle with the meat, melding flavors.
Ah. Yes. I’m a big fan of melding, aren’t you?
Throw in a honkin’ big bull…
He bucks, he heaves, he bellows, he careens around, tail switching, testicles strapped.
The bull is your external conflict, what everyone sees. Man wants to ride bull, bull wants to kill man or at least relieve himself of those straps. Let me just say “OUCH” again. External conflict should be apparent, just like it is with the bull. There should be no doubt in anyone’s mind (recall Mary’s words yesterday, that if people don’t ‘get’ your story, it really is your fault because they need you to guide them through things you may just know) what your external conflict is. The bull is what keeps the hero and heroine apart.
He wants her ranch, she’d die before selling.
He knows Georgia peaches aren’t tough enough to handle the Texas Hill country, she faces her nemesis to prove him wrong.
She knows cowboys are nefarious lotharios from past family experience, his past makes her look totally on target.
Cook for approximately 250 pages at increasing temperatures…
Stew should never be eaten tepid. Raising temps raises the stakes. And good stew is only made better by forcing the H/H and the reader a little cooling-off time. It’s too hot to eat, everyone will get burned…
Enter black moment.
Take a chill.
Smooth things out.
Show them the error of their ways, the path toward the end you’ve been priming readers for since page one.
Enjoy your dinner!!!!
We’ve gotten to the HEA we’ve been waiting for, hoping for. If you’ve done your work well, no one really expected you to be able to bridge those gaps so smoothly, without lame intervention, but you did! A good gravy makes all the difference!
I've got some fresh baked bread and sweet churned butter to go with our stew. Gallons of coffee. I'd love to see how your 'stew' comes together, ladies and gents. Doff those cowboy hats, step up to the mike and give Seekerville a glimpse of how your hero is the prime component in a great pot of stew!