Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Guest Blogger Patty Smith Hall: EVERYTHING BUT THE KITCHEN SINK: Building Conflict in Our Stories (and giveaway!!)

When Julie asked me about writing a blog today, I was knee-high in entries from the ACFW Genesis contest. I’ve got to say that the manuscripts I had the pleasure of reading were impressive! The thought-provoking ideas, the new voices, an exciting twist on an old theme—all of these excited me about the direction Christian Fiction is heading while reminding me how far we’ve come since the days of Catherine Marshall’s Christy or Janette Oake’s Love Comes Softly. But even in my excitement, I noticed a problem that ran through most of the manuscripts I read.
Little to no internal conflict.
I can only speak for myself but personally, I don’t like conflict in my daily life. The thought of working through a problem, agonizing over making the right choices, sometimes patterns that you’ve been living for a lifetime are, at least to me, EXHAUSTING. But in writing fiction, internal conflict is a necessary evil.
Why do we need internal conflict in our stories?
My husband claims that he fell in love with me one Sunday evening. I was asked to come forward and sing a request during evening service and as I made my way up the aisle closest to the wall, my stiletto got caught in the heating duct. With everyone in church watching, I pulled the duct out of the floor and placed it in a pew along with my other shoe then proceeded to the front of the church, laughing at myself. Dan said that in that moment, he knew that he wanted to spend his life with someone who could so easily laugh at herself.
It’s a cute story but in reading it, it’s just that—cute. But what if you knew the struggle going on inside me at this time? What if I had been trying to prove to this strapping young man that I was an elegant woman; that just speaking to him made me tongue-tied, that I had already lost one boyfriend who thought I was too goofy and clumsy? Then it makes the whole episode seem like a horrible experience, something that would send me running from the sanctuary in embarrassment, thinking my klutziness had once again lost the man I loved.
Now it’s a story loaded with internal conflict!
Internal conflict usually comes from our hero/heroine’s deep desire for that elusive something they think they NEED in order to be happy. So how do you do that? How do you get your characters to spit out what their deep, dark needs are?
Get in Touch with Your Inner Two-Year-Old!
The other night, Dan and I were sitting in a pizza parlor when this man comes in with this adorable little girl. Sunshiny blonde hair with the perfect button of a nose, she spent the next fifteen minutes, pointing her pink-tipped finger here and there, and asking the age-old questions of every two year old on the planet.
Who? What? Where? When? Why? How?
When developing our characters, we need to ask the tough questions. While finding out what your character looks like or how they came to be in this place in their lives, the questions most readers are interested in having answered are the motivations behind the hero/heroine’s actions. As writers, we seem to run away from digging into these motivations and shying away from conflict. Is it because deep down, we hate the idea of conflict in our own lives so much, we can’t stand the thought of finding out the problems of our fictional characters, fearful they might mirror our own?
In my book, Hearts in Flight, Maggie Daniels is determined to do her patriotic duty and fly B-29s as part of the Women’s Army Service Pilots. Sounds like a great thing for her to do, doesn’t it? But when I dug deeper, I discovered her reasons were very personal and not nearly as noble as I had thought—that she was intent on proving herself to a family who never really believed in her. She was dealing with a respect problem and to a lesser degree, a pride problem that was keeping her from what could truly make her happy.
If you’re looking for more direction in this department, I recommend Laurie Schnebly’s Plot Via Motivation class Plot Via Motivation that’s she’s teaching the month of June. It is a phenomenal class, and one that changed my whole way of plotting conflict and helped me get sold.
Don’t’ be afraid of throwing the kitchen sink at your characters.
The fun begins once you know what your character’s deep dark desire is. I call it the kitchen-sink phase because this is where I look at my historical data I’m using as a setting and figure out what will cause my characters the most problems. This use of external conflict can rev up the internal conflict to the next level..
For example, the heroine/hero from my second World War II novel have two very different desires. My heroine, a 3rd generation American, is running away from a shameful secret—her brother enlisted in the German army. Now after I ask her why she ran and got down to the bare bones of her deepest desire, I discovered she seeks self-preservation, just to get through the war unnoticed, almost invisible. My hero (who is probably my favorite character of all times!) was a bad boy who found God in a POW camp and has returned home to prove to everyone that he’s not the man he use to be. By now, you’ve probably guessed that his deepest desire is to find acceptance from the family and friends he left behind.
So what kind of real life history would pump up the internal conflict in my fictional characters? When I started planning out this book, I found so much local history (a natural suspicion of outsiders and the fear of German spying, a hospital that only had four beds for black patients, a polio outbreak that shut down schools) that would challenge my hero/heroine’s long- term desires, throwing the kitchen sink at them came easily. Use external problem to heighten your characters’ discomfort over their internal conflict/deepest desire.
Conflict (in a story) is your friend.
In closing, don’t run from injecting conflict in your stories. That’s what makes a reader pick a book and read it—to see how a character works through a problem they themselves might be going through. Conflict makes your characters believable and compelling while giving hope to those of us who love to read Christian fiction.
How do you build conflict in your stories? Leave a comment to enter a drawing for a copy of Patty’s debut novel, Hearts in Flight.

The only girl in a family of military men, Maggie Daniels knows what it's like to deal with a brood of overprotective males. But with all her cousins on the front, she's finally free to go after her dream--ferrying bombers for the newly formed Women's Army, Service Pilots. And no one, not even Captain Wesley Hicks can keep her out of the cockpit.
After the loss of his sister over the skies of London, Wesley has one battle plan--to captain the Flying Fortress into the Pacific Theatre. Training WASP Maggie Daniels wasn‘t in his sights. But when hostilities are fired at the spirited yet tender-hearted woman, he finds himself focused on a new objective--winning Maggie's love.
A romantic at heart, Patty Smith Hall is an award winning, multi-published author. Her stories of encouragement and hope can be found in Guideposts, Journey and Chicken Soup for the Nurse’s Soul. Her Genesis award winning manuscript, Hearts in Flight, will be released by Love Inspired Historical in July, 2011. Patty resides in her home state of Georgia along with Dan, her husband of 28 years. You can visit Patty’s blog at: Patty Smith Hall.


  1. I love your cover. Totally absolutely gorgeous. Congratulations!!!!

  2. Coffee will be ready at 4 a.m.

    Kudos on your success.

    Hate conflict. Hate it.
    Yeah, I know it's necessary for a story. But in real life it STINKS!

    I'm getting better at creating it, but still consider it heavy duty.


  3. Patty, this is a timely post for me.

    Conflict is something I'm really working on, especially internal conflict. I find it very difficult. Maybe I'll just do a little brainstorm here and see what you think :)

    I seem to be either too vague with it or too specific. I'm working with a character right now who is known for not liking surprises.Of course, he's about to get the surprise of his life. :) But, that's external.

    People joke about his not liking surprises and he is accomplished so it doesn't really give him self-esteem issues.

    Maybe I should have this come from a deep-rooted experience. Something that was traumatic as a child and so he actually is afraid of surprises. They never turn out well.

    Is that a decent example of creating internal conflict?

    I don't really have time to take the class in June and find out. lol

    Also, I find it challenging to figure out when and how to let the reader in on this deep-seated reason. Is there a guideline. You don't reveal his real motivation immediately, correct? Maybe hint at it initially?

    I've been up way too late so forgive me if this is murky, or politically incorrect.

    I'd love to win the book cathy underscore shouse at yahoo

  4. /waves/ Hi Patty!

    Hmm... I'd like to think I've got internal conflict, but we'll see I suppose. I don't have mine back yet from Genesis so...

    Allergies are driving me nuts today. Eyes are so watery it's insane. So I've got Chick-fil-A for breakfast. It's set up on the table next to Helen's coffee pot.

    I'd love to be entered in a drawing :).

    carol at carolmoncado dot com

  5. Hi Everyone,
    I just wanted to drop by early this morning to say I won't be around for most of the day--I have the opportunity to use one of the offices at my husband's work for a long day of writing so I'm taking it.

    But I will be around tomorrow evening and will join in on any questions/discussions then.


  6. Patty!! I am SO excited for you that your book is finally about to be in print :) I remember you talking about it at the fabulous lunch a few years ago and now it is a reality!

    I never thought of inner conflict the way your describe it (I avoid conflict at all costs!) but what you said makes so much sense and now that I am thinking about it some of my favorite characters had some fabulous internal conflict ;)

  7. Ooh! Conflict. What a great tropic. This is something I've been working on. In my newbie days I used to be too easy on my characters. I wanted them to be happy. These days I'm learning to be tough on them so they can grow and really appreciate their hard-earned HEA.

    Helen and I connected on Facebook recently, and I realized something. Her teensy little gravatar image doesn't do her justice. She's quite a classy lady when you can see more of her. =)

  8. Welcome to Seekerville, Patty! This is the first time I've seen your cover--it's fantastic!

  9. I love internal conflict...well, not personally...but in characters. A story is always so much richer when we can get inside the character's heads. Thanks for the great post!

  10. I read once that an easy way to inject conflict is to have the characters coming at a conversation from two different perspectives. We would call it a simple misunderstanding, but it might be hero wanting ask a heroine out, and the heroine thinks the hero is engaged, so she's hating him for being a cad. :)
    I used to want my characters to spill the beans imediately, on every thought in their littl heads (and hearts) but by waiting and just letting little details slip one at a time, it builds the expectation...

  11. Hi Patty,
    Great cover! I wanna win!
    And yes, conflict is the necessary evil we must use in our stories. I'm getting ready to reword one of my 'conflicts' in my almost finished manuscript.

  12. Oh, I always forget!
    belindapeterson at tds dot net

  13. I love the look of your new book it looks so cool I love the books with women airpersons. Would love a chance to read the book.
    being a reader I dont have to worry about writing.

  14. Good Morning! I thought I'd get up early but WOW, you people are real early birds.

    TINA--thank you! I love my cover too!

    HELEN--Thanks for the coffee. Yeah, I hate conflict too, but Laurie's class that I mentioned in the blogpost DOES help. Now I don't feel nearly as bad at throwing conflict at my characters!

  15. CATHY--So your character hates surprises? Me too, mainly because most of the surprises in my life haven't been so great. What you've got to do is figure out what events turned him off from surprises--was it a late night phone call with some bad news? Or did he expect one thing and ended up getting something horrible instead?

    Or maybe he likes to be in control and when he's faced with a surprise, it's too much of a loss of control for him. Then ask him what made him such a control freak--see how this is going?

  16. I'm not a writer - just an avid reader. I agree, I don't like conflict in my daily life either. I love a schedule where things flow peacefully. But that's not real life because you know things happen. I know this book will be great!


  17. CAROL--Hope you get great feedback from the Genesis! It's contest like that that helps grow a writer. I put your slip in the hat for the drawing.

    CHRISTY--Thank you for listening to me go on about this book! I really appreciate it! Thanks for coming by!

    KELI--I was the same way, letting my characters off way too easy. But now, I'm getting to enjoy throwing the kitchen sink at them! Thanks for coming by!

  18. CAMY--thank you! I'm so tickled over it! The first time I saw it, I cried! Poor people at the mail box thought I was nuts!

    CARLA--you're right! The story is always better when there's a well thought out internal/external conflict. Thanks for coming by!

    VIRGINIA--That's a good way to start but to really build on conflict, your characters have to have something deep inside that they think they need in order to be happy, and when that desire is challenged, you've got conflict.

    LINDI--Glad to hear your next book is almost finished--once your readers read your first book, they're going to want more!

  19. AUSJENNY--is that a picture of you while you were in Hawaii? You look absolutely fantastic! Your name is in the hat for the drawing. Thanks for coming by.

    PATSY--my great aunt used to call me that! A lovely lady who planted those first seeds that eventually lead me to the Lord. Thanks for coming by!

  20. I'm going to be out for a while today, but back later this evening for any discussion or comments. My Seeker friends are so much better at the conflict thing than I am so I'm sure they'll be ready to jump in with a great answer.


  21. Welcome to the the posting side of Seekerville, Patty! Hearts in Flight sounds wonderful! I'll be looking for it in July.

    Thanks for the reminder to make our characters miserable. LOL I've heard it said that story is conflict. I find internal conflict easier to write than external but both are vital.

    I brought breakfast sandwiches this morning. Thanks for the coffee, Helen.


  22. For my story...My male character brings a lot of tension and trouble to the female characters life because he has been hired to ruin it. The conflict comes from the male character not wanting to do it to her.

    Pretty cover, Patty. Intriguing book!

    ~ Katy

  23. BEAUTIFUL cover. Can't wait to read the book! Thank you for sharing your insight with us! :)

  24. I hate conflict. I'm a natural peacemaker so I find it difficult to torture my characters. A few months ago, someone gave advice similar to yours. Since then, I've been throwing the kitchen sink at every character. I can tell it's helping to strengthen the story.

    Your book looks great! I would love to win a copy.


    Oh, gosh, I have to laugh because I think that I may be the ONLY person in this group today who actually THRIVES on conflict in my own life as well as my story, which is probably why my books have so much drama and ... well, conflict! :) Thus my occasional nickname:
    CDQ (caffeinated drama queen, or in this case, certified drama queen.)

    Don't get me wrong -- I'm not crazy about sicknesses or car accidents or any bad things that can happen, but I have to admit, the one thing I appreciate about them is how they drive me to my knees before God -- one of the few fringe benefits of conflict in one's life.

    But, without question, I absolutely LOVE romantic drama, good or bad, in my life or my books, because it's just SO much more exciting than a ho-hum kiss, you know? I mean, steal a kiss, push somebody to the wall or end a knock-down, drag-out argument with a heated love scene, and it makes the pages ANYTHING but dull!! I'll tell you what, I've got some doozies in my own life that not only have brought my husband and I closer and make us laugh now, BUT are great fodder for stories ... :)

    Patty, I loved this blog today and I am crazy about both your cover and your title, girl -- cannot WAIT to read this one!! Because like Christy, I remember the luncheon a few years ago when Hearts in Flight hadn't "taken off" yet, but was just a wonderful ms. waiting on the runway!!


  26. Thanks Patty.

    Even the title of your blog today is great too! Really good questions for us. Lots of super info.

    Enjoy your writing day - sounds like a great plan.

    I think there is enough conflict in my WIP, but I'm chewing on the next one and how to start tossing things from the counter at our heroine. It takes me to the dark side. ;D

    Your latest is lovely - and how fun for people to have heard about it previously and now see the lovely cover! may at maythek9spy dot com

    CarolM - I'm so with you. My allergies have hit with a vengeance. Muddle-headed. Not something you want anytime, but especially not with a deadline in 2 days. ugh.

  27. Hi Patty,

    First, I love the cover for Hearts in Flight! And the story sounds fantastic.

    Great topic today. I love conflict both external and internal and throwing as much as possible at my characters. Why should they have it easy? Right?

    Sometimes it takes me a bit longer to get them to talk about what's driving them internally. But I have my ways to make them talk and then I can get to stacking it on. (Excuse my evil laugh)


  28. JANET ... Thank you SO much for the breakfast sandwiches, my friend. I always seem to forget the food, and not just on Seekerville!! I was so caught up in what I was writing one day last week (conflict that had me by the throat!!), that I literally forgot to eat both breakfast and lunch and didn't realize it till dinner. :)

    So I will supplement the sandwiches today with lots of pastries such as peach cobbler, cheese danish, banana chocolate chip muffins and apple-cranberry-pecan coffee cake. Enjoy!

    Thanks, Helen, as always, for the coffee setup -- you ROCK!!


  29. KATY1!!! Hired for ruin -- I LOVE it!!! Yep, I'd say that's a natural setup for conflict, girl! :)

    SARAH ... I agree -- LOVE Patty's cover!! Thanks for coming by, sweetie.

    CHRISTINE ... ooooo, being a peacemaker is sure nice in real life, but yeah, you gotta get rough on the pages, so I'm glad to hear you've worked your way to the kitchen ... :)

    KC ... for some reason, I see you as the type of person who would be good at conflict, and I'm not sure why I feel that way, but I'm glad it's not a problem for you!! Sorry about the allergies, girl. Love the blooming trees and flowers, but yeah, not a fan of pollen ...

    KIRSTEN ... YES!! We have a sadist in the group along with me -- you go, girl! (evil laugh here)


  30. KC -

    Fortunately [? At least in this case], I have only self-imposed deadlines :p. And kids. They don't understand as much why I don't want to take them outside to play. I want to, but I like seeing too... Or breathing... depending on how the allergies are affecting me at the time.

    Good luck meeting your deadline!

  31. Good reminder, Patty. I'm at the point where I need my 'beta-readers' to tell me how conflict is working--or not. Thanks for suggesting the plotting class in June.

    I'm diving into some carbs today. I made zucchini bread and brought an extra loaf!

    Happy Wednesday!

  32. I have conflict Writing the big black moment in a story is tough for me because I don't like bad stuff to happen to good people :-) However, I read about Lyn Cote's use of the Conflict Grid and I tried it. That helped me out a lot!!

  33. Hi Patty:

    Your timing is fantastic! The Women's Army, Service Pilots, has been in the news of late. It seems they have finally been given full veteran rights. They had been considered not fully in the real military! I just learned about these women and here you have a book coming out. July seems like forever away!

    Question: Did you listed to WWII era music as you wrote the book? Do you have “In the Mood” playing in the background in your book?

    In one way I’m very happy that WWII is now considered historical by Love Inspired but I’m also sad to think that I was born during the ‘historical’ period. Can you spell dinosaur?

    Donna Alward said she always starts the novel with both the hero and heroine at turning points in their lives. I love this. It starts the character ARC in the first chapter, creates internal conflict, complicates the hero/heroine relationship, and it provides some hint as to what external conflict would best complete the story.

    I now notice when authors do this. If you do this, I think it makes writing the rest of the story much easier. I also think that having life changing conflicts going on from the start helps eliminate the sagging middle.

    I’m looking forward to your WWII book.


    vmres (at) swbell (dot) net

  34. Just think if Romeo and Juliet had been from two nice families that were lifelong friends.

    Wonderful, story.

  35. I am pathalogically non-confrontational. I will do nearly anything to avoid conflict.

    But that leaves me with a lot of frustration to work out....and so I write books.

    And no one gets hurt...outside the pages of my novel.

  36. This is such a timely post for me, as I just got crits back on my current WIP and both of them said "We need more conflict!"

    So, I'm ramping things up, internally and externally. :)

    After all, no conflict, no story.

  37. Love, love, love that cover!!! :D

    I try to progressively think of what could get worse and worse in the story. My characters tend to deal with a lot of internal termoil, so my job is then to make it not cliched, fresh, different and then put more angst into the EXTERNAL conflict.

    Oy. What we do to write a good story! :)

    Thanks Patty for the great post. :)


  38. Oh, I love that cover, too. I actually have several prints in that dress-style except I haven't fit them since... oh... 1990. But I still have them because they're timeless and I have hopes. Ha!

    Great post! Lots of good information to copy, paste and file.

    Like Carol, I'm waiting for my Genesis feedback as well. I see others on different loops have rec'd theirs and I'm having a hard time concentrating on my wip because of it. But I guess if I need a good reason to procrastinate during NovelTrack, then visiting you lovely people is the best there is. :D

    Anita Mae.

  39. Thanks Patty for your timely post on internal and external conflict. I know I need to add especially internal conflict in my WIP:) So far my heroine, a young girl has lots of external...she's poor, her family gets ousted from the estate where they earn their living, her dad is an abusive drunk, etc. I guess I need to talk more about how insecure, lonely and angry this all makes her feel? I've only given a few lines on that...but maybe I need to go more in depth. How do you do that without going on and on and boring the reader?
    Thanks so much for sharing...needed to hear that today:)

    I'd love to be entered for a chance to win you book:)

    lornafaith at gmail dot com

  40. Anita - you're NovelTracking? Then you best get back to that WiP young lady! =D Even if you are still waiting for Genesis returns.

    Goal for today is 2K. What's yours?

  41. Great thoughts on conflict! Sometimes I have too much external conflict (action) in my stories and not enough internal conflict (problems in the protag's mind). This is a good reminder that I need to work on that.

    Your WWII story sounds great!

    Donna Robinson

  42. Oh, that cover. Oh, oh, oh....

    Just breathtaking. Super congrats on grabbing those contracts!

    And why is conflict in REAL LIFE never as much fun as reading about it in a book???

    Someone tell me that, please.

  43. CarolM - it's 1500 - but I'm doing lousy the last few days and haven't reported in since Friday.

    I seem to be spending a lot of time outside with my camera. Lots to see as the birds come back and I love watching that snow melt! Heh

    I'll watch for you on NovelTrack, Carol.

    Anita Mae.

  44. Hey Everyone,
    I've captured my husband's computer for just a few minutes so check in. Sounds like everyone is working conflict into your stories--my question now is how are you weaving your internal conflict and external conflicts together to get more bang for your buck?

    And to those doing NovelTrack--I'm doing that this month too! Got a okay word count of 1100 a day but hope to blow by that today as I'm already at 1000+ words. Had some cleaning up to do on my last scene.

    Talk to you more this evening!

  45. Enjoyed your post, Patty. Am anxious to read your sounds very good... so please enter me. I live in GA, also!!

  46. i enjoyed this posting...thanks for the opportunity to read this beautiful story.

    kmkuka at yahoo dot com

  47. Patty, I loved your story about your husband (to be) and you in church! Good for you! Grace under fire! :)

    Thanks for the advice about conflict!

  48. I also have some exciting news to share...

    Yesterday, I got "the call"!!!

    Emily Rodmell from Harlequin signed on my novel set in 18th Century Scotland for their Love Inspired Historical line!!!

    Name Pending. it is set for release March 2012!!

    I am still celebrating today!!!

    If you want to read my "call" story, I wrote it on facebook.

    Hope everyone else has a fabulous day! :)

  49. Woo hooo, Eva Maria!!!! Congratulations!!! :) I'm so thrilled for you!

    Patty, I will be back to read your post. I have to go pick up at school. I just wanted to make sure Eva had announced her news. :) :)

  50. Sounds like a great story, Patty!

    How do I insert conflict? Hmm...I'm not sure how to answer that. My heroine was already in a frantic state of mind when I met her. I had to dig about a fourth of the way into the book before I realized what threw her into such a precarious situation to begin with.

    The hero was so wonderful that I had to figure out why he didn't trust the single females from his hometown yet was instantly attracted to my heroine.

    I think my own life experiences have taught me enough about inner conflict - both mine and others, that it comes somewhat natural to me. Well, I say that, but when I first started writing, I didn't want to dig into their inner conflicts. I'm tenderhearted and I didn't want to feel their pain. But I realized that if I didn't feel their pain, neither would the reader. And if the reader doesn't feel their pain, they won't connect and therefore they'll have no reason to read the story.

    I've come a long way with the inner conflict thing!

    Thanks for sharing!

  51. Love the cover of your debut, Patty. My brother still calls me Patsy, too. I know I need to have more internal conflict in my stories, but I hate to see the heroine suffer too much. I especially enjoy reading stories set in the WWII period. Please put my name in the hat for a copy. And congratulations on your success.

  52. Great post, Patty!! Since I'm still working on building conflict in my stories, I SO appreciate your suggestions. I tend to be way too easy on my characters! ~ Congratulations on your book coming out in July--wonderful cover, and the story sounds fascinating. ~ I didn't realize you're also a "Georgia girl"!! So in honor of your Seekerville visit today I've brought along a freshly-baked Georgia Pecan pie to share! ;)
    Blessings, Patti Jo Moore

  53. P.S. CONGRATULATIONS to Eva Maria on getting "The Call" - - WOW!!! :)

  54. Patty,
    Can't wait to read HEARTS IN FLIGHT. I had the pleasure of judging it in a contest...perhaps the Genesis or the Maggie. Loved the submission and loved that Steeple Hill is publishing the story.

    Great info on conflict today and your personal story about catching your heel made me smile. Hubby is one smart man to recognize the woman of his dreams that quickly!

    How interesting to hear how your wove various historical facts, such as the polio outbreak and German spies, into your novel.

    Thanks for being with us in Seekerville! Congrats on your success!

  55. Well, I didn't make the Genesis semis, but I'm anxious to see my feedback. I'm still working steadily on revisions and hope I'm getting it right.

    The one conflict that frustrates me are the verbal misunderstanding ones - especially when they aren't done well. I get frustrated reading those scenes when I myself don't fully understand the mentality or reasoning of the characters.

    Please include me in the drawing, Patty. :D

  56. Eva Marie:

    Way to go, girl!!!

    Congratulations on joining the world of the pubs.


  57. EVA MARIA!!!!




    JUST SAYIN'...



    (okay, that was a little ridiculous, blame it on Dinosaur Train. Totally Henson Productions fault. Not mine!)

  58. Just got a newtome Ruthy book in the mail! Waiting out the Storm.

    AND a kids book!

    Thanks Sandra for the prizes! I'm so excited =D!!!

  59. And yay! Eva Marie! That's soooo awesome!

  60. Great post, Patti. Thanks for causing me to think deep thoughts...not an easy thing to do after a loooonnnngggg day at work.

    I would love to read your book, too!!

  61. Missy, thanks so much. I hope you know you and Seekerville and all it's friends will be on my dedication page! :)

  62. Helen Gray, thank you! It'll have to be your turn next to get the call :)

  63. Ruthy, thanks for partying with me! I am so excited! Dreams really do come true. If there was something more than bold or caps I would use it to write with now to show how happy I am :)

  64. I LOVE THAT COVER! WOW. Can't wait to read it, Patty.

    Great post on conflict too. Coming up with external conflict is one of my biggest challenges in plotting.

    Thanks for coming by today!

  65. Patty, I'm back. What a great post! But I have to say the best part was hearing the story of you and your shoe!! That's the sweetest thing ever!! :)

    Thanks for your guest blog today! I love, love, love your cover!

  66. YIPPEE Eva Maria!!! Congratulations. Lifting a mug with Ruthy and everyone!

    Mary - that is such a GREAT point about Romeo & Juliet. Honestly.

    Vince - you are too funny. NO one around these parts would call you a dinosaur, by ANY stretch of the imagination.

    Funny about conflict, Julie. Are you saying we're kind of alike here? Would that it were so. We'll see.

    Book one is so much from "real life" it's been pretty easy on the story. Book two - we shall see. Exciting but daunting.


    Still dancin' with Eva Maria... WAHOOO! Even May is singing and celebrating with us!

    Thanks on the well-wishes with the deadline. Can't believe it's HERE. Wow.

  67. Hey Everyone,
    Well, I'm home after a day at the office which was absolutely great--got over 2300 words down today! Whoo Hoo! Now, dinner is over and I've fed my nightly Castle obsession so here I am!

    JANET--thanks for having me today! And I'm so looking forward to reading your recent release--I've just downloaded to my nook!

    KATY--It's great that you've got all this external conflict going on, but what about the situation challenges your character's internal desires, the one thing that he or she thinks will make them happy?

  68. Great cover, Patty! Your story sounds wonderful. My uncle was a B-29 pilot in WW2, so I'm interested in stories about flying.

    I hate conflict in real life, but I don't really mind putting my characters right in the middle of it. It's getting easier and easier all the time.

  69. SARAH--thanks for coming by--I certainly appreciate it!

    CHRISTINE--I totally understand the whole peacemaker thing--that always been my role at home. Glad to hear you've found peace in throwing the kitchen sink at your characters--in the end, they'll appreciate it!

    JULIE--thank you for asking me here today girl! And why am I surprised to find out you LOVE DRAMA--I mean, I HAVE read your books!

    KC--Sounds like you've got a clear handle on conflict! Great going!

    KRISTEN--it's always fun to get those characters talking, isn't it?

  70. Yes Patty it was at waimea canyon which was beautiful.
    Had to stop by before starting to do some study (which I have been putting of a little)

  71. CAROL--I certainly know about allergies. I've been sniffing and sneezing around here for the last two weeks--feel better soon!

    DEBRA--Plot Via Motivation is a great class, and Laurie is brilliant! I've taken the class twice and learn something new every time.

    PRESLAYSA--I haven't seen Lyn's chart yet--going to have to look into it after I get finished here. Thanks for the heads-up!

  72. Hi VINCE--I'm always amazed at God's timing with this book. When I first started researching the WASP, WWII books weren't selling at all, but the day LIH received it, the WASP Memorial was dedicated in the Mall. And yes, I listened to TONS of big band music while writing.

    MARY--I just love the conflict in your books. And you're right--Romeo and Juliet would have hated each other if their parents had been best buds. Thank goodness, Will knew how to write conflict!

    ERICA--you're so right! No conflict, no story.

    CASEY--I love my cover too! And you're right--we have to work hard at not being cliche.

  73. ANITA MAE--okay, girl! It's time to get cracking on the WIP! I'm doing Noveltrack this month in hopes of finishing up my latest manuscript. We Noveltrackers have to stick together.

    JACKIE--hey there, Georgia girl! My book happens to be set in Marietta at what is now Lockheed.

    LORNA--You can feed your character's internal conflict to your reader a little at a time. Let's take someone who has control issues--think about some of the behaviors that person may have. First, they're not going to like surprises or change for the matter. They're going to think that their way is the best way because they've already thought though every situation possible--see how this is going? Behaviors acted out in our scenes tell our readers a lot more than the physical, but also the mental. Hope this helps.

    DONNA--it's all just a balancing act between external and internal conflict--and I'm still tinkering with getting the right combination.

  74. RUTH--thanks so much for having me here today, and I agree--personal conflict is kind of icky!

    KAREN--Thanks for coming by today.

  75. EVA MARIE!!!!

    CONGRATULATIONS, GIRL!!!! So excited for you and welcome to LIH!

    And you write historicals!! YAY!

  76. LINNETTE--I wished I had the kind of handle on internal conflict you seem to have--I'm a tenderhearted person too so just the thought of causing my characters pain BOTHERED me. Thankfully, I got over it--LOL.

    PAT--we PATSYs have to stick together. And I love WWII stories too--have you read any of Sarah Sundin's books yet? You'll love them!

    PATTI JO--I LOVE pecan pie! Thanks from one Georgia Girl to another!

  77. DEBBY--thank you for having me here today! And thanks for judging that contest! It was feedback from judges like you that helped me get the 'call.'

    And yes, I love to work the historical facts as barriers to the characters internal desires--it's sick, I know, but tons of fun doing the research!

    LINNETTE--I don't know whether it was a class or I read this in a book, but any conflict that can be resolved in a single conversation is not strong enough to carry an entire book. A good rule for all of us to remember.

    DIANA--I'm glad I could make you think, and hats off to you for working on the craft even after a long day at work!

  78. CHERYL--thanks for having me here today. You're so great at internal conflict, you don't need external problems!

    MISSY--Me and that blasted shoe! I actually went to a funeral for a member of that church not too long ago. This young woman walked up to me and said she knew me. So of course, I go through every way I could have known her when she grinned at me--"You're that girl who got her heel caught in the heat duct when I was just a kid!"

    Good to know my legacy lives on! LOL!

    CARA--thanks for having me here today. You throw just the perfect amount of conflict at your lovely characters, all who I adore reading about!

  79. AUSJENNY--GREAT PICTURE! I hope I get to Hawaii some day!

  80. EVA MARIA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WHOO-HOO, GIRL, WE ARE SOOOOOOOOOOO HAPPY FOR YOU!!! What an EXCITING day for you, my friend! I am celebrating in St. Loo in your honor!!

    And, KC, if I'm saying we may be alike, be afraid ... very, very afraid. :)

    PATTY ... what a wonderful day in Seekerville -- THANK YOU for coming and for such a great post!! Love ya!!



  81. First off, Patty, your story sounds very interesting and the cover IS lovely. I would love to win a copy of Hearts in Flight. Congratulations!

    I think balancing conflict of all kinds is pretty tricky. I’ve read some stories that are major overkill on the internal and external conflict sides. It’s hard to keep a reader’s interest with excessive internal conflict in a book that’s 400+ pages. I want to say, “Get it over with!” or “They could have written this same story in half the pages.”


  82. Thanks KC and May!
    Don't know if I've told you before, but even if I have, I'll tell you again, your website is great!

  83. Thanks, Patty. It's difficult at times to allow myself to get into character so to speak, but it's very rewarding. I'm one of those people watcher/readers who is always trying to figure out and understand why people do the things they do...REAL people, not just my characters. I've been that way ever since I can remember and I think that's helped me a lot.

    Thanks for coming today!

  84. Thanks Julie! Seekerville truly has made all the difference :)

  85. Great post, I should probably work on developing more inner conflict in my stories. I used to do that (when I was younger, about 11) to the point where the character would go raving mad, and have since tip-toed around stuff like that. But I'm working on it!

    Please enter me for the drawing.

    crazi.swans at gmail dot com

  86. Patty,

    Thanks for sharing your great advice on conflict. I struggle with tension and conflict all the time.

    Is it ever okay to give your characters a mini break and have a happy moment before you wallop them again?

    Eva Marie - HUGE Congrats on your first sale! How exciting is that?!!! Enjoy every moment!

    Take care,
    sbmason at sympatico dot ca

  87. Thanks Susan, I will!
    And I just realized we live within about an hour of each other :)

  88. Susan, it's perfectly okay to give your characters a break before smacking them with another problem. In Hearts in Flight, my characters go to the USO for a break--nice little side trip. But I used the USO incident to provide me the next external conflict that will play on my characters' internal desire.


  89. I love the cover of your book Patty. I just love historical military books too.

    I'm having trouble with not showing too much conflict. I find my lead character is really in need of some conflict rehab. Your post has really helped me to rethink some things and in turn hopefully will help her to find really discover herself. Thank you for sharing.

    Blessings to all in Seekerville today.

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.


  90. Hi Patty!
    You will be my blog pick for tomorrrow for this week. I always do that on Fridays. Love this topic! Can't wait to read your book. Awesome cover. Come over and say hi tomorrow. Hugs, Jill

  91. I enjoyed the story on a personal level. i had just been told that my short story was cute but without conflict. truly, the conflict comes later, but needs to be sooner to engage the reader.
    yes, i like peace too, but alas, conflict is like change - it's inevitable. justin_autumn at

  92. Thanks Patty for the help...appreciate it!

    lornafaith at gmail dot com

  93. I think about what could go wrong when I think conflict.

    But I just read a great blog post by author Steven James in which he suggested writers should ask what their character loves most in order to get to their deepest fear, then make them face that fear. He also suggested asking how things could be worse.

  94. Sorry I missed your day in Seekerville, Patty! GREAT post! Now I want to take that class! And your books sound wonderful! Hope I get to read them.

    God bless!

  95. I love the cover of your book, and I love Historical Fiction, and I love Love Inspired!! So I really think this book would be a great read!