Monday, August 4, 2014

Putting Emotion on the Page - Part #1

Emotion—is it too late to learn a new trick???

Here’s the thing.

I have a reading habit….I mean the kind of reading habit a person might turn to a 12 Step Program to fix.

And I have insomnia…I mean the kind of insomnia a person might turn to a doctor to fix.

And though I read new books ALL THE TIME, I have a problem with reading new books because THEY KEEP ME AWAKE AT NIGHT.

(Yeah, as if EVERYTHING doesn’t keep me awake at night) But books do, too

I just need to see how it ends, you know???

So I have developed this trick for getting to sleep which works somewhat. Nothing really works! And it is that I re-read an old book that I love.

I enjoy them enough to read them, but the book doesn’t have that ‘what happens next’ quality of a new book. So, though I do read cover to cover, every word, sometimes, mostly, when re-reading, I skim. I skim from scene to scene, pausing over scenes I especially loved.

It’s just an old, old habit. I own … yeesh … 300-400 books that I love. And I’ll have one of them flicker though my brain, and that’s it. I have picked the book I will re-read.

Click to Buy
So my point, beyond just giving you a glimpse into my own personal mad sleeplessness is, I’ve been PONDERING why some scenes have impact like that. Why do they haunt me, come to me, stay with me?

And I’ve decided lately that, of course, some scenes are just so well done on all levels that to dissect it is a disservice to a talented author. But ultimately I think it’s emotion.

It’s a POW of emotion that makes a scene, an exchange, a chapter…a whole book even…stick with me.

Now I like comedy and I like action but comedy…well, that’s an emotion. And action is full of MOVEMENT but if it’s well done you are FEELING what those characters are living.

So I don’t think it’s the action scene that has the impact so much as the emotion of the action scene.

So emotion. Let your characters feel.

And here’s something I try and get to in my own writing.

Poorly done emotion, a reader will see the character is sad.

Well done emotion, a reader will BE sad.

Can you see the difference in that? To know a character is sad is … distancing. It’s you on the outside, reading, looking in.

To BE SAD YOURSELF, then you’re in the book. You’re sad, you’re living the character’s life.

You’re gone-and I think a well done book takes you into the world, takes you on an adventure, to another world. And I think that’s what most of us read fiction for, to get away for a while.

I’m going to write more about emotion in the next month or two. How to drag your reader into your book. Today, to kick off what I hope will be a new series on putting emotion into your work, I’m going to have the FIRST EVER IN THE KNOWN UNIVERSE GIVEAWAY OF TRIED AND TRUE.

You may have to wait a week or two to get it. I’ve got my single, only, sole author’s copy. YAY. It’s a beautiful book.

But once I get this usually the author’s copies come soon. So, if I can get my act together! I will get the winner their copy LONG BEFORE THE BOOK RELEASES AT THE BEGINNING OF SEPTEMBER.

(let’s all act super excited about that, shall we?)
Leave a comment to get your name in the drawing and today: Let's talk about scenes from our own work we love.
I'll kick things off by saying, one of my very, very favorite scenes/moments in my own work is when Seth appears in that cave and Rafe realizes his brother has come home.
Julia's shock and fear. Rafe's love and worry. Seth's vulnerable madness. There in that cave when Julia thinks they've found the man who trapped her in the cave and wants Seth arrested and Rafe says, "Not only can't we arrest him, we've got to take him home to live with us."
Seth steps out into the light and Rafe realizes who it is. One of my favorite scenes.
Let's hear yours and the EMOTION of the scene and why that helps make it one of your favorites.
Tried and True
Book #1 of the Wild at Heart Series
Releasing September 2nd
Saddle up for a wildly fun ride with the Wilde sisters! Kylie Wilde is the youngest sister--and the most civilized. Her older sisters might be happy dressing in trousers and posing as men, but Kylie has grown her hair long and wears skirts every chance she gets. It's a risk--they are homesteading using the special exemptions they earned serving in the Civil War as "boys"--but Kylie plans to make the most of the years before she can sell her property and return to the luxuries of life back East.

Local land agent Aaron Masterson is fascinated with Kylie from the moment her long hair falls from her cap. But now that he knows her secret, can he in good conscience defraud the U.S. government? And when someone tries to force Kylie off her land, does he have any hope of convincing her that marrying him and settling on the frontier is the better option for her future?

"Connealy’s (Stuck Together) view of the Idaho Territory in 1866 is a surprising delight in this inaugural novel of her Wild at Heart romance series." -Publisher's Weekly
"Connealy spins a Civil War-era romance with book one of the Wild at Heart series. Her feisty female characters win our hearts." -RT Book Reviews


  1. As you know, Mary, I LOVE YOUR BOOKS!!!! But a novella I read in the SEALED WITH A KISS -with Love, Cowboy, by Lacy Williams really sucker punched me ... It's been weeks since I read it, but I still find myself thinking on it

  2. Hmm, an emotional scene from my own work.

    In Ozark Sweetheart I have a scene where the hero brings the heroine a car that he had seen her admire in his dealership.

    In Ozark Sweetheart I have one where the heroine has sold her bicycle so she can give her sister a piano.

    My oldest son got stung 5 times in the head Friday by a red wasp, but he finished the last three hours of his mail route. Silly boy. Then he preached both morning and evening services at his church today. (Their pastor retired at the end of June, and this is the second time he has filled the pulpit.)

    It's been a long day. Think I'll go to bed with a book.

    Coffee's in the works.

  3. Aw, Marianne, don't you LOVE THAT???!!! When a book has that kind of impact. YAY LACY!!!!!

  4. Helen the heroine selling her car for her sister, that is self-sacrifice. I am a sucker for self-sacrifice, someone doing good for someone they love at a terrible cost to themselves.
    Very powerful emotional experience.

  5. An emotional scene in my wip The heroine is working with the hero for the first time. He is head of the ER. She is stabbed by a patient who snuck in a knife. The interaction and sparks between the two hero and heroine is intense. I find myself going back to read this scene over and over.

    I would love to win a copy of your new book.

  6. Helen, hope your son gets some rest and the sting from the wasp heals quickly!

  7. Wilani, just reading your description of the scene has emotional impact.

  8. Too long, but I'll post the scene I referred to as one of my favorites. From Out of Control:

    Rafe's eyes followed the hole to the far side just as a man holding a torch stepped into view.
    Julia screamed and tightened her hold. "That's him. The man I saw duck into this cave the other day. And it's got to be the man who stranded me down here."
    The man tensed for a moment as if prepared to run but he…didn't.
    Instead he straightened and lifted his torch.
    Rafe stared, slowly rising to his feet, pulling Julia up with him. The man looked bone thin. He had a full beard and hair so shaggy, long and wild a grizzly would have offered him a comb. The clothing hanging from his skeletal frame was in rags, the sleeves torn into strips. Holes showed his legs to the point of indecency. Rafe rubbed his eyes and looked again. And saw the same impossible thing.
    "We need to get him." Julia yanked on Rafe's arm. "We'll take him to town and turn him over to the sheriff."
    "We're not going to have him arrested, sweetheart."
    "Oh yes we are."
    "Oh, no we're not." Rafe couldn't look away.
    "But he's dangerous. I could have died."
    "Not only aren't we going to have him arrested," Rafe looked down at her but only for a moment, afraid he was seeing a vision that would vanish if he looked away from the man, "we're going to have to let him live with us."
    "What?" Julia's voice was so high-pitched Rafe though his ear drums might have sustained some damage.
    "Rafe?" The man's voice sounded ragged, like he hadn't used it in a long, long time. "Rafe? Rafe is that you?"
    Nodding, Rafe tried to reply but his voice failed. He cleared his throat and found himself so close to tears he was terrified he'd shame himself. Clenching a fist, he bore down on his feelings and breathed in and out slowly until his throat stood a chance of working.
    Finally he could answer. "Yeah, it's me. It's me, Rafe."
    "What are you doing down here? You never come down here."
    "Today I'm glad I came."
    "Me, too. Can you help me find my way home?"
    That question made Rafe realize he was dealing with a man with only a slim grasp on reality. A crazy man. "I'd be glad to help you find your way home."
    Julia sank claws into Rafe's forearm. "What are you saying?"
    "Thanks, I keep getting lost." The man's voice sounded hollow and forlorn as it echoed off the walls of this tunnel. "I'm so tired of being lost."
    "Well, you're not lost anymore. Welcome home, Seth."

  9. And here's one I especially love from the Trouble in Texas series, book #1, Swept Away:

    After she poured them each a cup of coffee, she decided to make her intentions known. Talking to Luke before they’d come into Dare’s tonight, she'd been upset at being pulled into the middle of a gunfight. No more. Now she knew exactly what she wanted. Her goal was as clear as the Texas sky and as straight as a Comanche arrow. She sat beside Luke at the table straight across from Dare, with Vince standing behind Dare at the door and Big John sitting across from Luke. She waited until their mouths were full, which took no time at all.
    "I'm going to be right in the middle of this fight, or I'll know the reason why."
    Dare choked on a chunk of potato. Vince spit coffee onto the floor. Big John's Texas Ranger badge flickered and flashed until it matched the fire in his eyes.
    Luke slammed down his fork with a sharp clatter. "I'll give you a reason why."
    "I'm good with a rifle." She cut him off. "If there were plenty of us and it was a fair fight, I'd stay out. But even if you wait for John, and a lot of Greer’s cowhands ride away, you're still outnumbers and Greer's got a well-defended home. It'll be hard to flush him out. I won't sit by while you all risk your lives."
    "It's no place for a woman." Dare tapped his fork impatiently on his plate. Even sitting the man could not be still.
    "I've been slapped too many times in my life to let another woman endure that if I can stop it. And I was harassed too often by that stinking pig Virgil to sit safely at home while a woman puts up with worse than happened to me."
    "Miss," Big John Conroy sounded so wise and reasonable it was all Ruthy could do not to dump his cup of coffee over his head. "This is best left to—"
    "I'm going to help. You can leave me here, locked up, unarmed, but I'll get out. I'll arm myself. I'll find the fight. I'm good with a gun. I'm good in the woods. I can be of use to you. Tell them, Luke."
    Luke acted as if she were pouring hot coals down his throat when she asked him to side with her. "Tell 'em what? That this is a plan hatched by a half wit?"
    "Tell these men honestly how I handled myself in those woods.” She turned to meet his eyes dead on. “If you won't honestly admit I'm a sight better than you, then I'm saying, out loud, to every man here, that you’re a liar."
    All four men froze at the deadly insult, even Dare. To call a man a liar, in the west, was to ask him to meet you at high noon. Land deals were struck on a hand shake. Thousands of dollars worth of cattle changed hands just on a man’s word that he’d pay what was owed. A man with the reputation of a liar was ruined. No one would do business with him. He had to leave the state and find a new home and hope his reputation didn't follow him.
    Ruthy knew that very well.
    One by one, the men at the table turned to Luke.
    "That true, kid?” Vince asked. “She's better'n you? Cuz you're all mighty good."

  10. Tough one, let me think. I have a scene in an unpublished suspense where my heroine finds a picture of her deceased sister on the floor with a footprint ground in to it. She knows her sister's husband did it. (He also murdered her sister) She feels like she has failed her sister all over again.

    Long explanation, so maybe I didn't get it right. LOL. However, if you want to read a master at putting emotion on the page try a novel, any novel, by Linda Goodnight.

  11. Note that these scenes are filled with intense emotions. Even some humor. And I think that EMOTION, more than action or even STORY are what make a scene powerful, memorable and just plain GOOD.

  12. Marianne - Lacy is in my local ACFW group. And I agree, she is an awesome author.

  13. Thanks to Terri Weldon for telling me to get over here--Marianne *thank you* for the lovely shoutout!
    I loved writing that novella and loved the characters. So thank you thank you for mentioning it. :)
    PS the last story (Maddox's brother) is coming in time for Christmas!

  14. Ooh, Terri, I like it. Do you want to post part of the scene for us? Not at all necessary if you don't want to, but how cool if the whole blog today was loaded with EMOTIONAL SCENES. We'd all be basket cases by the end of the day. LOL

  15. Lacy! Thanks for coming over, and ... for writing great books.

    Anyone who wants to post a scene, go for it!!!!

  16. We're BOOK TWINS next month!!!

    So, I'll choose A Bride in Store's emotional scenes.....that's what I live for is to put them in. I may not be good at them in the rough draft because I'm actually an emotionless robot in real life, and that is WHY I read so I can FEEL.

    So, I have big ones when they almost kiss (frustration), at the midpoint (can't say, spoiler alert!)(even bigger frustration and despair), during several doctoring visits (Sadness), at the dance (frustration and self-sacrifice), and at the end (Wove, pure wove!)!

    I know a beta reader cried at one of those points, so SCORE! I MAKE PEOPLE CRY! Muwhahahahahaha

  17. I could probably do a scene, it's coming out in less than a month, right? Almost kiss:

    She held a hand over her brows to keep the feathers from catching on her eyelashes and puffed at the ones trying to find shelter in her mouth.
    Will sneezed. A rather small sneeze for a man. His hand came up to his nose, and he leaned his head back for another sneeze, sure to be more intense.
    Pew! His face contorted as if the mouse squeak he’d let out rivaled musket fire.
    Laughter rolled out, from the bottom of her gut. She couldn’t help it.
    He loosed three more petite sneezes in a row. His scowl only made her dam of merriment break wider. He ruffled his hair to extricate the feathers, but his nose wrinkled again, and he let out another pitiful sneeze.
    She pressed hard on her abdomen, hoping to stop laughing enough to take a deep breath, lest she faint for lack of air. Her tightly-laced corset helped not one bit.
    Though a pillow making a grown man cry was such a sorry thing, she shouldn’t laugh. She gulped in air to stop herself. “I wish I sneezed like you—” She accidentally snorted in an attempt to stay her laugh. “My father would have had one less thing to criticize me for.”
    “They might not sound like much, but they hurt my diaphragm like the dickens,” his voice was clogged with stuffiness, and he rubbed at his nose. He wiped at his watery eyes and sneezed again.
    She gulped some air and swiped at the feathers on his shirt. “Surely you’ve got something in your medical box of tricks to take care of the sniffles?”
    “I don’t normally get attacked by feathers.” He glanced down at her hand as she pushed his shoulder to turn him around. “Avoiding them is the best treatment.”
    She beat the fluffy white bits off his back and then reached up for the ones stuck in his hair. Her fingers ruffled through his hair, dislodging the feathers like she used to remove freshly cut hair from her father’s head.
    Except Will’s hair was much thicker than Pa’s. And amazingly fine.
    Will’s neck tensed, so she dropped her hand to his other shoulder and went back to swiping. She circled around to his front. Her hand brushed along the dark blue of his vest, his chest stretched hard and solid. Not that she should be noticing such a thing.
    Eyes downcast, she kept defeathering him until every last piece of fluff was evicted. “There.” Her voice was ragged. Too ragged. She shouldn’t have tried to speak—maybe she could blame her clogged throat on the feathers.
    Silence drew her gaze upward. His eyes blinked, but nothing else moved.
    She swallowed and reached out for one last feather clinging to the stubble near his cheekbone. “Now go back to work. I’ll clean this up.”
    William dragged in a rough breath and shooed away a feather floating toward him.
    Should she brush off the feather she’d missed on his shirt sleeve?
    William put a hand against her face, and she froze. His thumb wiped across her brow, a flicker of white floated away in her peripheral. He ran his hand across her hair. Not like she had his—his touch was more a caress than anything else.
    His fingers grazed the side of her face, and heaven help her if her whole body didn’t shiver. He pulled a large feather away and let it drop, but didn’t watch it fall. His eyes flitted to hers for a second—bloodshot . . . and haunted.
    Then his gaze slid down to her lips and stilled.
    He took a step back, looked at the ground where feathers lay at their feet, and rubbed the back of his neck.
    Her chest suddenly filled with air now that he moved away. “Will you be all right?”
    He shook his head, but didn’t say anything. Didn’t look at her. Didn’t move.
    Was something other than feathers bothering him? Why was he withdrawing from her again? “Will, I—”
    “No, just—” He held out his palm before stomping away, muttering something under his breath about casting down imaginations.

  18. I LOVE THIS POST!!! I have the same method for falling asleep- right now my go-to re-read is Edenbrooke by Julianne Donaldson. And you are so right about the emotion of a book making it memorable. When I can feel the emotions of the characters instead of just reading about it, that bumps a book from 3 stars to 4. When all the elements come together awesomely, that bumps it up to 5 stars. That, or if it makes me cry or have butterflies :) I can't wait to read your new book, and Melissa's too!

  19. One of my favorite scenes from the manuscript I just finished is when the hero shows up at the heroine's door, out of the blue, with pizza.

    A couple of hours before he's stood up for her in a fraught family situation when she's used to fending for herself and not needing anyone to take care of her. She's been trying to keep him at arm's distance because of a big secret she's keeping but his unexpected care unravels her.

  20. I don't have any works of my own except a short story or two in a college compilation of student work some 40 years ago. One of them was about a man who had to fly when he was dearly afraid to do so. It follows his emotions from abject fear to actual enjoyment of the flight and excitement to tell of his conquering his fear of flying when he landed...except his plane crashed on landing.

  21. Oh, my goodness, this is fun reading. I love it when a book lingers in my mind.

    I re-read books that I really enjoy and I skim to the parts that I liked best when I know what happens next.

    Would love to win a copy of your book! :-)

  22. Okay, I read a lot too and the last book I read, "All Right Here" by Carre Armstrong Gardner, has a powerful scene on Christmas Eve (YAY CHRISTMAS SCENES) where the heroine Ivy is at a Christmas party with her family. Her marriage is in trouble and while she's trying to revel with her folks she receives a text message from her would-be lover. Gardner makes us experience the conflict she's feeling and the resolution, which is of course "dump the boyfriend." That's my latest "wow," though I admire emotion in any writer. I'm in and out today, will try to check in later, and would love to be entered in the drawing for Mary's book.
    KB, who still hasn't found her mug shot.

  23. Melissa, let's just call you SPOCK, you emotionless girl, you. :) Or maybe R2D2???



    You had me at hello, Connealy!

    Who wouldn't want this book, it is the BEST COVER EVER! I love this girl already, I love the premise already, I love the idea of these sisters (reminds me of some Nebraska sisters I researched, Mary!!!!) striking out on their own and gettin' it done!

    I want that copy, but I shall wait and buy mine, wait.... it's pre-ordered for my Kindle!!!!!

    Which I will then WRASSLE from Beth. Mary, I've just about finished Stuck Together, and I'm having so much fun with this book. Oh, I love Tina more than life itself and Vince is such a good hero! I love the mix of mother and secret baby sister, and the humor and everything about this book.


  25. I'm loving these scenes! Melissa, thanks for the teaser on your upcoming book! So fun. :)

    Mary, I'm the same way about books keeping me up. I was up reading a Susie May Warren book last night until 2 am!

    One of my favorite emotional scenes in my upcoming (October) LI is when my heroine, who never cries, actually cries when she realizes the hero has always done something simple for her (no spoilers) that he doesn't like but does because he knows she likes it. (That's a hard to read sentence!)

  26. Okay, I'll play. I've been haranguing you with my Oregon Trail stuff for months, so let's take a break and look at my other unpublished series, City On a Hill, Hell's Kitchen, New York just after the First World War.
    Excerpt starts here.

    Mamie was pulling away from Julia. "I can't, Miss Julia. Don't ask me to do this. If God's a father, he ain't the one for me. You seen what my Pa done to me, set me to whorin' when I was but 14. What kind of a Pa does that? Let God go His way and I'll go mine,” she finished on a ragged sob.
    Julia was crying too, her cheeks streaked in the moonlight and the faint glow from the mission. "He's not like that, Mamie. Not like any of our human fathers, even the best ones. He loves you so much. His heart is breaking for you right now. His heart broke when your father put you on the street.”
    "Then why didn't He stop 'im?” Mamie’s voice was like broken glass.
    "I don't know. I don't know why He didn't stop me. Maybe we weren't listening, your father and me. But I do know we don't have to live like that. That's why he sent Jesus. Mamie, did your father ever beat you?”
    Beside Violet, Karl sucked in his breath.
    "Off and on,” the girl admitted sullenly.
    Julia spun to face Violet and Karl. "Karl, give me your belt,” she ordered.
    Like a man under hypnosis, he unbuckled his belt and gave it to her.
    Julia unbuttoned her shirtwaist and dropped it to the sidewalk. She knelt beside the garment. She wore no corset, only a camisole whose thin straps left her shoulders bare to the October night. The tears had dried on her cheeks. Her bun had come loose, the bone hairpins hitting the sidewalk like hail, and she looked up at Mamie through a curtain of fair hair. "Hit me, Mamie. Hit me with the belt.”
    Mamie recoiled. "No, Miss Julia. I can't. You been so good to me.”
    "Hit me, Mamie. Hit me for every time your pa hit you. Let me take your blows. This is what Jesus did, Mamie. He took the punishment for us. So you don't have to suffer for what your pa did to you, and I don't have to suffer for what I did to myself. If you won't let God take your punishment, let me take it. Hit me, Mamie.”
    Violet cried out and took a half step forward. But the look in Julia’s eyes stopped her. Violet, this is what it takes.
    Mamie was weeping again, her red hat askew. She lifted the belt, stood frozen for a second, and then flung it on the sidewalk as she knelt beside Julia. They clung to each other, rocking back and forth. "No, Miss Julia. No. If that's what Jesus done for me, I won't turn away from Him. I'm sorry. I'm so sorry.”
    Karl retrieved his belt. Without taking his eyes from the kneeling women, he threaded it through the belt loops. Julia's fair skin was already red from the evening chill. He draped his jacket around her and walked coatless back into the mission.
    Julia prayed with Mamie, their tears mingling, their fair heads together in the moonlight. Violet looked at them for a moment, and walked back into the mission. She stood briefly, adjusting her eyes to the harsh and artificial light. The rest of the congregation was seated. The organ music had stopped, and in the front of the church, members of the congregation prayed with the “seekers.” She saw Karl’s bright head and straight back as he walked down the narrow aisle and knelt with the other penitents on the bare wooden floor.
    And suddenly the room seemed flooded with a different kind of light.
    Excerpt ends here

    Kathy B.

  27. I'm not particularly good at emotion. It has been noted by contest judges and agents who say, "This almost made it, but..."
    Maybe it's being from New England. We are not good at game shows either, we don't like to jump up and down.
    I will check in later...

  28. mary
    your books are a go-to for repeat reading for me - especially when I want laughter with my warm fuzzy feelings (Golden Days is my fave 'cuz it's short enough to not keep me up through the entire night - you're murder on my sleep otherwise). Ruthy's books as well, hers really make me cry from the heartstring pulling going on, so I have to save them for when I need a good cathartic purge.

    as for a scene from one of my WIPs, um... I'll have to think on that one. I've got one planned (read: not written yet) Hero was abandoned at birth by his mom who was unwed and he has just rescued the heroine who is about to become an unwed mother. The similarities between his birth mother and the heroine are going to do a number on him...hopefully.

    I do remember reading a book when I was a senior in high school (a lifetime ago *sigh*) that when the black moment came, I literally sat up and yelled "NO!!!" when I read it. I distinctly remember my heart racing for the next few chapters to get to the HEA because there was no way I was going to put the book down before resolution was acheived.

    Awesome post Mary. Your book cover is GORGEOUS. I am envious of the artist who created it. Inspiring for me. Please put my name in the stetson for the drawing.

  29. HI Mary, I so agree that the emotion is what draws you in and keeps a book memorable.

    But how do you write it? How do you make sure you have it? I often think I do but then crit partners say no. What is that secret that gets the emotion going?

    I am thinking it ties in with universal emotions that we all relate to.

    Get some sleep girlfriend.

  30. Looking forward to all your blogs on emotion, Mary. Love your mention of emotion in action scenes. The reader does have to live the story!!!

    Sorry about your trouble sleeping. I have to read someone else's book before drifting into slumber. If I've worked on my own story just before bedtime, my mind keeps focusing on my own writing. Getting into someone else's story allows me to relax and drift off into dreamland!

    By the way, do you dream about shooting folks? I do, at times. Probably when I'm under a deadline. :)

    And no, I don't dream about shooting my editor. She's not the problem. I am! LOL!


  31. Good Morning Everyone,

    Even though I'm not a writer we have a lot in common, Mary. I have a reading addiction too and sleep doesn't come easy without a little help from Night Rest (by Source Naturals)just thought I'd throw that in, in case you wanted a little help to sleep, after reading, of course :) It can be a problem though when I start getting sleepy and I want to turn just one more page, lol. I know I've been hooked when the saying, "I can stop any time I want to, right after this next chapter" applies to me.

    Books that draw me in and make me feel are what it's all about for sure and as you say, they help you get away for a while. There is such a difference in a book that TELLS me a story and one that I EXRERIENCE as if I'm LIVING the story through emotions.

    I would love to read Tried and True, please enter me in your drawing.

  32. Wow, Kaybee!

    I just backtracked and read your emotional scene and you got me! I want to read the book!

  33. Love the cover of that book.

    Am off to go practice being sad.

    or possibly mad as in crazy. All for research of course.

  34. Beautiful cover and I like how your heroine isn't afraid to like being a girl.

    Great post today. Definitely a keeper!

  35. Oh Mary - Seth appearing in the cave is one of my favorite scenes too. There is something about male emotion that really appeals to me - maybe because a lot of men seem to think they shouldn't show emotion.
    And I think I will try your solution to insomnia. What a great idea. Love that book cover and can't wait to read it!

  36. Melissa, I love the feather scene. Very sweet and romantic as they .. ahem ... PLUCK each other.

  37. Heidi, I just spent ten minutes on Amazon looking at Edenbrooke. I could have done Kindle but AHHH!!!!! My Kindle Broke!!!
    I still haven't figured out how to proceed.
    New cheap Kindle? That's what I had before. New fancy Kindle? Intrigued by that.
    iPad? Then do the Kindle apps, I could do Nook this way and I'd like to have that capability but wow are iPad's pricey!!!!! I do the iPad or the mini, the newest version or the older ones.

    My brain is atrophy-ing as I type from all the decisions.

  38. Kara I love the idea of a self-sufficient woman who suddenly finds someone who will take care of her. Not because she can't take care of herself but just because he's kind and generous.

    Great emotion in that.

  39. Granny's Attic, what a great blogger name. And you've got writing from 40 years ago? I think that's so great.
    So, you're not writing now? Because you should....but it's fine if you don't, too.
    We love READERS here at Seekerville just as much as we love WRITERS! Thanks for commenting! It's always fun talking BOOKS.

  40. Hi Jessica. You won't have to wait much longer!

  41. Mary Hicks, you sound like I feel. I just love a well written scene and it always ADVANCES THE STORY as well as makes you FEEL.

    Emotional scenes is no excuse for not making forward progress.

    I may have that be part two of this series.

  42. kaybee, that's such a wrenching scene. Christmas, piled on the lure of new love when the old love is seeming like more work than it's worth, balanced against infidelity.


  43. Aw, Ruthy, this is so great of a moment. I finally wrote a book you liked.

    I'm all kinda weepy here.

    An emotional scene right here in my living room.s


  44. Miaay that reminds me of a scene, I'm foggy on it but the hero buys the heroine an Elvis Presley CD. They've been bickering because he loves Elvis Costello and she loves Elvis Presley and he buys her an Elvis tape and she assumes it's Costello because he's been trying to persuade her to give that music a chance.
    So she opens it and it's Elvis Presley and she's surprised and he said, "Why would I buy you a tape I Like? A gift for you should be something you like."
    And she said, "Wow, you're good at this."

  45. Kaybee, that's a powerfully emotional scene. I love the whole image of it, the thought of her taking that punishment and explaining Jesus that way.

    Excellent. Thank you so much for sharing it!

  46. DebH, I can't help just LOVING that a book made you yell.

    I'm grinning as I type. An author would LOVE knowing they did that to you.

    Do you remember the book? The title and author? You should hunt down the author now, she may have a website or facebook page. Tell her how that impacted you.
    She'd be so honored.

  47. Sandra, tough question.

    A few things, and I'll expand on them in the series (I hope) but drawing a reading in so they don't WATCH the book but rather are LIVING the book, that's done by NOT including distancing language like 'he knew' or 'she felt'. But using the senses to create realism in a scene. So if you say the scent of chocolate cake filled the room, every reader knows that scent. Suddenly they're not WATCHING, they're remembering, solidifying the depth of their involvement through references to the senses that are familiar.
    I guess that's why it always annoys me when a hero smells a heroine and thinks something stupid like, 'She smelled like honeysuckle.' or 'she smelled like jasmine.'
    Since I really have no idea what jasmine or honeysuckle smell like, to me that's distancing. I can read it but I'm not living it. And while I'm not living it I'm also thinking, What Man Knows What Honeysuckler Smells Like.
    Vanilla...sure, maybe
    Diesel fuel.

    I mean don't use obscure references because you love the poetry of the word Jasmine but no one really knows what that is.

    To anchor a reader you need to awaken memories ... so pick familiar things to draw them in.

    Like the crack of gunfire for example. That's always good. :D (You all know I'd go to gunfire at some point, right?)

  48. Debby, once in a great while I've dreamed something that works in a book, but mostly, no. My dreams are more in the 'searching for something I lost' category. Frustrating and twisted...which is the nature of dreams, right?

  49. And DEBBY I find writing late at night to be CAFFINATED. I can't do it. Sometimes I do it, but I shouldn't because it's not conducive to sleep.

  50. Okay, I just put Night Rest in mu Amazon cart. I'll read more about it before I buy it but I sincerely appreciate any help.

    I've tried about everything and it all seems to work for a while, just quits. At some point I realize the pills no longer work and I stop them, so at least I'm not addicted to them, books.

  51. And Tracey what you say about READING vs LIVING the story, that is so vital and so HARD to explain. And I guess I'm going to try but as with all other things I teach people......... they usually get DUMBER for having listened to me.

    So let the student BEWARE!!!!

  52. Great topic! I can't wait to read future posts on this topics. I've noticed with my own writing I write best when I'm emotionally involved in a scene. I've had to sit my fiction writing down for a while to focus on other things, but I can't wait to get back to writing some of those scenes!

  53. Tina, you're going to practice being sad and crazy?

    Trust me, babe, you've already nailed BOTH.


  54. Jackie, my heroine Kylie is the baby sister of three and she's the one who least likes the disguises they're wearing and is the first to admit who she is and embrace it.

    She nudges her sisters to be honest and helps them grow up a little, though they're not used to taking advice from the baby sister they seem to always be taking care of.

  55. CINDY! You know the moment I'm speaking of? Cool.

    It's funny writing scenes like that. I just have to revise a LOT to get just the feel I'm going for. Of course I seem to have to revise a lot to get ANYTHING so why not emotional scenes, too???

  56. Jennifer the beauty of loving to write is, you can always come back.
    I hear people say they're quitting, they're too demoralized by writing and struggling to get published and I always say, "Quit if you can. Do it. Forget writing. But I bet you'll be back."

    If you're a writer then that's just WHO YOU ARE. Quitting is almost impossible, but taking a break...that's something a writer can do once in a while and you shouldn't feel bad about that.

  57. Intriguing post, Mary! My whole reason for reading a novel is to be swept away on the tide of emotion. It doesn't have to be dramatic. I just have to feel it along with the characters.

    The novel I'm reading right now, My Stubborn Heart, by Becky Wade, is really drawing me in. It's partly the heroine's quirky humor, partly the tortured hero's background, partly the realistic descriptions that make me feel like I'm right there.

    In my own books, I'm pretty sure I've succeeded with the emotion when I reread a scene months after I've written it and still get goose bumps or teary eyes.

  58. hi mary
    the book that made me yell: Romance Along the Bayou by Sallie Lee Bell

    i have to say your books consistently have at least one or two pages where I burst into laughter because of your humor.

    p.s. Seth is still my favorite hero you've created thus far.

  59. HOW EXCITING MARY!!! Congrats! The cover is gorgeous.

    I have the same problem with books. I especially have to watch it if I'm having a snag in my own writing, because it's way easier to continue reading and being sucked into someone else's story than to create my own sometimes! LOL

    I'm so, SO glad you're doing a series on this, because it's one of those areas I need work in.

    Today I'm celebrating because I had one of my best writing days EVER yesterday. My words per hour got over 1000, and I had time to write over 2500 words!!
    Ya, I know, all you full time, fast hasher writers are laughing at me, but for this lady, that's a feat. :D I'm getting REAL close to "the end" in my WIP, which is totally exciting considering I've been working on it for over a year, but then more pressing projects got in the way, and ya, really ready to get this one DONE.

    Thanks for all ya'll do!

    Amber Schamel

  60. I also stay up to late to finish my book. Once I finished The Cubicle Next Door by Siri Mitchell and had to go back and re-read the blog posts all through the book to see what Joe thinks of her. I also love Mary how you make me laugh and cry in the same book. I started with Doctor in Petticoats and now can not leave your books alone! I need them all in my library!

  61. Myra, I decided to do this more to just EXPLORE a topic that's in the front of my brain right now. I hope I can bring something interesting and UNDERSTANDABLE to the table.

    The trouble with teaching about writing is, it's just one of those THINGS that's hard to put into words.

    How do you draw a reader in.
    How can you tell when you write something distancing?
    How can you tell when you've interjected something, author intrusion, aside, slogging backstory, that grinds the action to a halt and pulls the reader out of the story.
    A lot of it is just PRACTICE at recognizing it and teaching that sometimes just boils down to GO WRITE. The only way to really improve is practice.

    So we'll see how this goes.

  62. I feel like this is dancing around Vince's Rewards Per Page methods.

    Maybe VINCE you should publish your book so I can steal chapters for my blog post. LOL

  63. Romance Along the Bayou by Sallie Lee Bell
    It's currently fifty cents on Amazon.

  64. Amber those great writing days feel so great...CONGRATULATIONS! But for me, slow and steady wins the race. String days and days and days of 1000 words/day writing and it adds up faster than the occasional huge writing day.

    On the other hand if you can do BOTH, than that's sweet! :D

  65. DebH, you know, Seth is a lot of people's favorite, I suppose because he's so wounded.

    But to me, the doll of the Kincaid brothers is Ethan.

    Why does no one else get that? He's the easy going nice one?

    Rafe's a great alpha male. Seth's wounded. Ethan is just nice.

    I'm such a fan of nice.LOL

  66. Tonille, thank you. I appreciate the kind words.

    I ACTUALLY avoid long books just for this reason. Not ALWAYS but often. I've never read the Twilight books, for example, just because they're so THICK.

    Also not a big vampire fan but that's not really what's stopping me. :)

  67. Mary, I don't have to act like I'm excited about Tried and True, I AM excited! I remember when you mentioned the idea of females posing as males in the Civil War, here in Seekerville a few years ago. I can't remember if it was something non-fictional you read about or if it just came to you. But I've been eagerly waiting since then!

    This series of post are going straight into my keeper file. Please don't make us wait too long for the next one!

  68. I'm really looking forward to your series about emotion, Mary, and I absolutely adore your cover! The horses nose-to-nose like they're getting to know each other just like the h/h? LOVE!

  69. I'm really looking forward to your series about emotion, Mary, and I absolutely adore your cover! The horses nose-to-nose like they're getting to know each other just like the h/h? LOVE!

  70. oh how I wish reading would cure my insomnia but I think the only cure right now is a new bed one that doesn't use me to bruise and beat up and a hammer not necessarily in that order!.
    Worked our my insomnia is due to the fact I cant get comfortable cos having to be in bed so much the past week I my body hurts and my bed hates me. I go from drug that made pain bearable but left me like a drugged out shell of a person barely able to function to once off a person back in high head pain with the added problem of a bed that hates me.
    Yes Bed shopping is high on todays list of things to do if I can handle it. Need to try and get some sleep.

  71. Yep, pretty certain if I took one of those "which star trek characters are you" quizzes I'd end up with Spock....but I think R2D2 had feelings, he at seems pretty attached to people.

  72. Emotion. It's the epitome of "show, don't tell," isn't it? Because when we show the emotion, we pull the reader along with us. It's something I strive for, but it's so hard to know when I've gotten it right.

    This is an excerpt from Bunk's story. Except Bunk's name is now Nate. (One of the hazards of being a character in a story!).

    Nate has been away, and the heroine, Sarah, has been caring for his nieces and nephew. The youngest, Lucy, hasn't spoken since she witnessed her parents' deaths more than six months ago.

    “What’s the first thing we need to do to get this ranch going?” Nate asked Coop as they dug into the cornbread and canned beans.

    “We need to mark those cattle before very much time goes by. Have you decided on a brand?”

    Nate nodded. “I've been thinking on it.” He sopped up the last of his beans with the edge of his corn bread and stuck the mess into his mouth. “Are all the cows bred, do you think?”

    Olivia looked up from her supper. “Miss Sarah said not to talk with your mouth full.”

    He swallowed and then stared at her. Across the fire, he saw Coop’s grin before the cowboy ducked his head. “Did Miss Sarah also say that children should respect their elders?”

    “Yes. But that part about not talking with your mouth full is important.”

    When did she get so grown up? “You’re right. I should mind my manners. Thank you for reminding me.” He reached over and squeezed her shoulder. “Now you’ll mind your manners and let Coop and I talk. Right?”

    “Right. Except....” Olivia pushed her beans around on her tin plate.

    “Except what?”

    “What about school?” Her eyes were wide. “I really want to go to school, and if we’re branding cows and all the other stuff, we won’t be able to go.”

    Nate looked from Olivia to Charley. The boy was watching him, waiting for his answer.

    Lucy pulled on his sleeve. “I want to go to school, too. I want to see Miss Sarah.”

    Nate stared at her. Swallowed. She smiled her sweet, little girl smile. “What did you say?”

    “I want to go to school.”

    Charley sprang up from his seat, whooping as he danced around the fire. “We did it. We surprised you.”

    Nate looked from Lucy to Olivia’s giggling face, and then to Charley. “How long has she been talking?”

    Olivia hugged her sister. “She started last week, just like she never stopped. Miss Sarah said it would be a surprise for you.”

    Nate’s empty plate fell to the ground as he turned to Lucy and gathered her up in a big hug. “You can go to school." The words whispered in her hair. "Anything you want. Anything.” He squeezed his eyes shut as the hard knot unraveled.

    Lucy pushed back from him and rubbed at his whiskers. “Can we go tomorrow? Miss Sarah said I could draw a picture tomorrow.”

    He couldn't contain his grin. “Of course you can go tomorrow.” He glanced across the fire at Coop. “I’ll take you into Deadwood and order the branding irons while I’m there.”

    And he’d see Sarah. Could he bear seeing her, after watching her with Montgomery today?

    He smoothed Lucy’s hair and gathered her in as she settled in his lap. He needed to thank her for this miracle, even if she didn't want to see him again.

    And I've found a new goal to shoot for - to be one of those authors Mary Connealy reaches for on a sleepless night :)

  73. TRACEY, thanks. Unfort. it is not yet published but it is one of the two I am shopping around. We'll see...

  74. MARY, I agree with you about writing late at night. It IS like caffeine, and I have had to limit myself to times I know I don't have to get up the next day.
    Also agree with you about having the reader LIVE inside the book. Which can be accomplished in part by our old friend, Deep POV.

  75. JAN DREXLER, Nice excerpt! There is nothing better than a child being healed, and I can sense how much it means to Nate.
    Kathy Bailey

  76. Ouch, Helen, but I bet that he preached some fired-up sermons yesterday!

  77. Oh, I need this series. Emotion is the hardest thing for me and I don't know why. I can be sobbing over a scene in my mind, but after I've written it, it's blah. I think I try too hard. Emotion can come through with a single word or a gesture or a look or a memory. Now if I could just convey that. The book I'm working on now has soul-shaking emotion, so I've got to get this.

    What I really like about your new cover is the horses with their noses together.

  78. Virginia, your book Pride Prejudice and Cheese Grits just arrived and it is already in my reading stack. I'm ecstatic.

  79. Saucy

    Hi Mary:

    I love the cover on “Tried & True” but isn’t it a little bit saucy for the times? I think a woman who threw a look like that in 1866 (anywhere outside a saloon) would be arrested! And can you imagine the first question every woman she meets is going to ask her?

    “Where do you get your hair done?” : )

    That was my first thought and I’m not even a woman!

    I agree with you 100% about the importance of creating emotion. I consider an ‘emotional experience’ a type of reward for reading. I once did a post on “Telling, Showing, and Feeling” to go along with a chapter in RPP that states when you ‘tell’, the reader can understand the situation. When you ‘show’, the reader can develop sympathy for the characters. But when you convey ‘feelings’, the reader can develop empathy. (That’s feeling what the characters feel.)

    Like you, I believe that writers should go to the third level and not just stop at showing. It’s not just about showing. It’s also about showing with emotion.

    You wrote,

    “And I think that’s what most of us read fiction for, to get away for a while.”

    I also think this is true but I believe what is even more important is that people read to lead other lives. They want to experience what it would be like to be someone else. I believe this is why ‘hitting the emotions’ is so important to great writing. When you feel what the character feels, you’ve had an actual taste of what it would be like to live that character’s life. (There are a million other ways for a person to ‘get away’ and be distracted for a little while. Reading offers much more than that.)

    BTW: I also selected a Seth scene as a favorite for its emotional impact. I picked the end of “Over the Edge” where Seth is about to find himself, regain his memory and make a major advance on becoming sane. (A tall order for a few short words!). He is racing into a very dangerous cavern to save his wife who is being held hostage.

    “He raised his torch. The fire wasn’t an enemy; it was light and warmth. It gave him strength in a way Seth knew came straight from the Light of the World.

    As if that Light illuminated his mind, suddenly he remembered everything. His memories of Callie were fully awakened. Callie caring for him after Andersonville. The almost crazed need he’d felt when she’d awakened him from a nightmare. How generously she stayed with him day and night. It seemed as if she never slept, never left his side. He remembered waking up one dark night with her in his arms, drawing him out of the nightmare and helping him to cling to sanity.”

    This passage shows a major turning point in Seth’s life and the reader is right there feeling it along with the character.

    Besides possessing a Mark Twain sense of situational comedy, I think one of your greatest talents is writing about characters whose whole life is changing right before the reader’s eyes. (And not just one character either but several such character transformations per book.)

    I want to write just like you when I grow up. : )


    P.S. The long term head of the local hospital sleep disorder clinic spoke to a group I attended not long ago and he said that the very best book ever written on the topic was, “Say Good Night to Insomnia: The Six-Week, Drug-Free Program Developed At Harvard Medical School” by Gregg D. Jacobs. Dr. Jacobs is a pioneer in curing sleep problems without the use of drugs. The speaker said the book was well worth reading for the parts on reducing stress alone. You might give it a read some night you can’t sleep.

  80. Hi Mary:

    You wrote:

    But to me, the doll of the Kincaid brothers is Ethan.

    Why does no one else get that? He's the easy going nice one?

    Rafe's a great alpha male. Seth's wounded. Ethan is just nice.

    Ethan soon became my favorite and now I think I know why. Ethan is the middle son, just like me. My older brother, Walt, was the alpha male doing everything first and best and always being the smartest in school. My younger brother, Larry, was always trying to do what the big kids were doing and thereby always getting hurt and being wounded and being a center of attention. (No kidding). Of course, I was in the middle always being the nice peace maker. I was just the right age to best relate to each brother. I was definitely the nice one…why ‘nice’ is even in my name. (Slightly scrambled but it is there.)

    Did you consider the ‘birth order’ factor in this series? It seems to fit perfectly.


    P.S. Ethan is the middle son, right? : )

  81. Mary, I'm looking forward to this series! Writing in a way that pulls a reader into the story to feel what the character feels? I'm still mastering that fine skill. :) One thing I hope is that, if I'm feeling the emotion at the end of a scene, hopefully my reader is too. :) I wrote a scene where a husband had to come to the place of realizing he needed to ask his wife for forgiveness for some choices he made that affected her. It was hard to get into character and see things through his eyes. But doing that (and listening to appropriate music) helped. I think. Maybe someday I'll know for sure if that story ever gets published.

    As for insomnia, I'm sorry. I've been down that road, and it's frustrating. I'll be praying for sweet sleep for you tonight. Sending a strong dose of virtual Ambien your way.

  82. Hi Mary:

    My favorite scene from my own work comes at the end of “Stranded in a Cabin with a Romance Writer”. The scene is at the RWA awards dinner where the heroine and hero’s sister are both sitting at the same table and are both up for the same RITA award. The hero is secretly brought back from Afghanistan where he has been on a ‘black mission’ for eight months. The heroine thinks he has abandoned her because his mission did not allow him to communicate with the outside world.

    As a big emotional surprise, the RWA arranges to fly the hero in from the war zone to announce the winner of that RITA. To make the surprise even greater, the hero has bought a big diamond ring and is going to ask the heroine to marry him from the podium in front of a few thousand romance writers. He is going to do this when he ‘discovers’ the ring in the envelop announcing the award winner’s name.

    When he’s introduced and comes out on stage to announce the award winner, the crowd gives him a standing ovation. His sister screams and runs up to the podium to hug him before he can say a word; however, the heroine stays in her seat. When things calm down in the banquet room, the hero looks out and sees the heroine sitting stoically at her table. To cheer the heroine up and to put a smile on her somber face, the hero opens the envelop and pulls out the diamond ring. He flashes a big smile and says into the mike, to the ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ of a roomful of romance lovers:

    “I have a surprise for you.”

    The heroine stands up, nine months pregnant, points to her belly and says, “And I have a surprise for you, too!”

    As the crowd goes crazy, the heroine goes into labor and has to be rushed to the hospital. Pandemonium reigns.

    A little later, at the hospital, after a baby girl has been delivered in record time, the heroine looks up at the hero with her big brown eyes and says,

    “I have one question for you, soldier-boy.”

    “What would that be, love of my life?”
    He thinks she wants him to ask her to marry him.

    “Who won the RITA?”

    “Why don’t we name our daughter Rita?”

    BTW: I wrote this last scene first. I’m almost done with the second draft.

    Do you think I need an epilogue or can I leave who won the RITA up in the air and to the reader’s imagination. His sister writes military romances and the hero has been her CP for years. I can’t decide who should win the RITA.


    P.S. Now I have to do 'work' work and then do RPP revisions.

  83. Oh, WOW, Mare ... there is NOTHING I love more than "putting emotion on the page," so bring it on!!

    An emotional scene I love from one of my books??? LOL ... uh, yeah, quite a few, actually, since I am a total CDQ who likes to wreak havoc with emotions.

    I would have to say the book of mine that sucker-punches me emotionally more than any of the others is my last O'Connor book, A Love Surrendered. There is a scene in that book where the heroine reads a birthday letter her pastor dad wrote to her before he died of cancer and gave it to her aunt to give to her on her birthday. She reads it at time when she's angry at God, and WOW, every single time I read that scene, I go through at least five Kleenex, God's truth. And then there's a scene at the end of the book when the hero finally turns to God, and that one gets to me too.

    I have found that it's mostly the spiritual scenes that rip me up because they are all taken from spiritual epiphanies I have had in my life and therefore are SO close to my heart.


  84. Mary, I really need to read this about putting emotion into books as I get ready to work on my novel. I also like the way you talked about characters getting into your head because they do that to me, which often makes me sad to finish a book. I know I need to make my own characters get into my head in that same way and then I will be able to put the emotion I need into my characters.
    Please enter me into the drawing for your book!

  85. Once a month for as long as I can think of something to say, Donna which might mean.............I'm done. :)

  86. Hi Meghan. I love this cover, too. I don't know if I've ever had a close up of a woman on my cover. Used to be THINGS, like boots and hats and then it was MEN. So this is fun for a change. Something most romance novels always have is fresh and new for me. :)

  87. DONNA this idea came out of research for The Kincaid Brides and we developed more through research for the Regulators, the friends in Trouble in Texas.
    I was chomping at the bit to write it. It was a lot of fun!!!

  88. There's a line in one of the Wild at Heart books when one of the sisters, when asked how a woman could stand the horrors of war, says something like, "I think in smaller things maybe a woman is more easily frightened than a man, maybe. But war is so huge, such a horror, so terrifying, that the difference between how scared a woman is from a man just don't matter, anyone and everyone is deeply terrified in the midst of battle. Being a woman didn't change that much."


  90. Good luck finding a comfortable bed. Hope you find the perfect one.

  91. Jan!!! I loved the name Bunk! I actually love the name Nate, too, but still!!!!!

  92. I'm also now hungry for cornbread!

  93. Hi Mary that sounds interesting (hope shes not a wimp!)

  94. This comment has been removed by the author.


  96. MELISSA J, I think you're wrong, I totally see you as SCOTTIE!!! Fixin' those retro rockets, giving the captain MORE POWER!!!

  97. KAYBEE I really think Deep POV is key. I hope to try and make sense of that during a point. But Deep POV and Showing vs Telling, well it's all been done before so we'll see if I can come at it from a different angle, maybe...not talk about HOW to do it, but talk about WHY to do it. What it brings to the story.

  98. Elaine it can be so hard to judge our own work. Are you in a critique group?
    Sometimes fresh eyes can really help.

  99. Hi Mary! Hmm, emotion in my MS... I was just reading over some of the closing scenes of my YA, and I LOVE this scene where the hero and heroine FINALLY get together. They are dancing together at a wedding, with Nora Jones' "Come Away with Me" playing in the background. She is going home, which is 2,000 miles away, the next day, and he just HAS to tell her how he feels before she leaves...and they kiss...

    Have a great day!

  100. I'm actually looking forward to Vince publishing his RPP book, which is based on how many emotional rewards the writer delivers per page.

  101. Vince I like the way you put that, "We read to lead other lives."

    Then when we get pulled deep into a book we are really 'living another life.' and that's why it's so satisfying.

  102. Vince I love that moment for Seth, too. It's the moment he really finds himself again.

    I hope I didn't play fast and loose with PTSD, because I didn't want to disrespect the men and woman who have it. So I tried to really show a struggle and not give simple answers and miraculous, easy healing.

  103. I ordered the book, Vince. Soon I will be cured. (why am I so pessimistic?) But I'm willing to try something new!!!!

  104. Mary, I don't have a date yet!

    But I DO have a contract, and that's the most important part, right?

    I'll let everyone know when I know :)

  105. Vince the Kincaid Brides series is in large part inspired by the Dr. Kevin Leman's Birth Order.

    I took three 'typical' brothers, bossy oldest, charming middle, coddled baby...and stuck them in a crucible with Seth's accident, then had that experience just ramp up all their natural behaviors to a neurotic degree. And then, by facing their past, growing up, making peace with each other and God and of course, finding true love, the were able to let go of the trauma and find their best selves again.

    I'm a middle child, too. Third of eight, so yikes, there's a herd of middle children in my family, I'm not sure how that works exactly. :) But maybe that's why I liked Ethan so much.

  106. Jeanne T, honestly I'm so used to being an insomniac that years ago I just quit fighting it.

    One of my life mottos is, "I've been tired before, I'll be tired again."

    And also, "I've done every major event in my life on four hours of sleep. I've found I can function pretty well, so just accept it."

    At this point I'm philosophical about it and don't even try to cure myself. I just think it's how I am and I started writing, years ago, in large part to pass the hours of the night. So my insomnia has led me to a wonderful place. I can't quite go so far as to feel blessed by it. But I can accept it as natural to me.

  107. Vince I just cannot wait for this book. I am loving the Rita Award, hero returned from war, pregnant heroine. All just so perfect. JUST SO PERFECT!!!!
    You've got to get this thing in print!!!!

  108. Vince if you leave it in the air, can you write a sequel? :)
    Honestly it's not what you do, it's how you do it. So I'm leaving it up to you to choose wisely. LOL (Mary wimps out)

  109. Julie your books pack such a powerful spiritual punch and that's emotion at it's deepest.

  110. Sandy I guess me re-reading books I love is a way to never let go of Characters I love.

  111. Stephanie, I am just a sucker for dancing scenes, a chance at intimacy and privacy in a 'not private' place.

    Great song, great set up, great conflict! YOU GO GIRL!!!

  112. Tina, yeah, bring it Vince. We all need this book. :)

  113. YES!!! JAN!!!! I do miss the name Bunk though. So original. Nate is all scarred up right?

    Great set up. I love Nate already.

  114. An emotional scene I really love from Tried and True:

    Aaron closed the space between them and thrust his hand down to shake. A stretch of seconds went on far too long, and finally a gloved hand came out and took Aaron’s. With a single jerk, Aaron dragged the youngster up and whipped that stupid hat off.
    Honey brown curls sun-streaked with yellow tumbled down around Kylie Wilde's falsely-padded shoulders.
    She squeaked and looked up at him, her starburst eyes wide with fear.

    Chapter Four
    “I—I can…can explain.” Kylie had no idea how she was going to explain.
    “No need. I think I see things more than clear.” Aaron’s eyes flashed with contempt. “You’re using your brother’s identity to claim a homestead, using the service exemptions to get out of doing your five years. That’s fraud, Miss Wilde. A woman is free to homestead on her own, you’re just lying about your time in the Army to get out of two of those years. You can go to prison for that.”
    “P-prison?” Kylie tugged against his iron grip and it didn’t give at all.
    “And you can certainly get thrown off this land and be barred from ever homesteading again. Does your brother know that his years of danger and sacrifice are being stolen and used by his lazy, dishonest little sister? Is he in on it or are you cheating him too, on top of cheating your country?”
    “Let go of me.” She jerked her hand free of his, leaving her glove behind.
    Her hands were so obviously feminine she’d had to keep them covered with the buckskin gloves.
    “Did you know that on top of being a land agent I also have authority from the Government to make an arrest? I don’t have to let go of you.” He threw her abandoned glove down on her porch floor, and grabbed her wrist.
    Kylie froze at the word ‘arrest’.
    “In fact I can arrest you right here and haul you to jail.”
    His jaw tightened and his grip on her wrist hurt. He leaned down until their noses almost touched. “Is your brother even alive, Miss Wilde? Or did he die fighting to preserve the Union and now, like a vulture, you’re profiting from his death?”
    “You stop right there.” The last was just too much. “I did have a brother who died in that awful war. Everything I’ve done for the last five years has been because of Jimmy. I will not let you stand there and accuse me of profiting from his death.” She no longer wanted to escape, instead she was tempted to blacken his eyes.
    “Jimmy? You said his name was Kyle. You said he was at Vicksburg, you said he was a spy.”
    “My brother’s name is Jimmy, you idiot. I’m Kyle!”
    Aaron jerked his face away from hers. “Y-you’re Kyle? What?”
    “And I was at Vicksburg fighting with the Ninth.”
    “B-but women can’t—don’t—”
    “Women can and do, Mr. Masterson. I’m living proof that there were women serving right there alongside men. I faced all the danger I was called to face, and I earned that service exemption.” Her voice grated until it could have ground glass.
    Aaron’s face was a picture as he lost the last of his anger. She could see his mind working, sorting through the surprises of the last few minutes. “And you couldn’t have the exemption because you’re a woman.”
    “You tell me who’s being cheated. I say I’m being cheated out of what I rightfully earned.”

  115. Please let me into the drawing for Tried and True! If not: I will be Truly sad. Having said that--my experience with characters is that I have to "live" with them to "feel" about them. As far as joining the legions of bedtime reader the backlit dressers are a blessing. I have been doing this so long that my first clipon light had a name!!!

  116. Mary, Thank you for your post about putting emotion on the page.

    I love emotional resonance in a book. Once I care about a character, I get much more interested and vested in a book.

    In the WIP under my bed, the hero is a widower who lost his wife in a car accident. Towards the end of the WIP, he and his 2 year old daughter, Lizzie, are in a car accident. Lizzie is rushed to the hospital and he clutches her stuffed teddy bear who never leaves her side.

    As far as the Rafe/Ethan/Seth debate, I like Ethan since he's a middle child like my husband and I also like Seth because he's survived so much.

    Thanks for the post.

  117. Great stuff, Mary! I'm looking forward to those upcoming posts! :)

  118. Olivia, you're in the drawing. You have a clip on light when you were so young you named it like it was one of your dolls?


  119. Tanya, it was so fun to get to know you at RWA.

    Love the circle of a wreck that starts all the pain and a wreck to be the black moment.

    That's a powerful story. GET IT OUT FROM UNDER THE BED!!! :D

  120. Anna, I honestly don't know how well I can explain it all. Being a 'teacher' is tough with writing because it's just plain HARD to explain. It's something a writer needs to learn by doing.

    But I want to explore it and I am interested in what you all have to say about it. You can help me get to the heart of it, I hope.

  121. Anna, I honestly don't know how well I can explain it all. Being a 'teacher' is tough with writing because it's just plain HARD to explain. It's something a writer needs to learn by doing.

    But I want to explore it and I am interested in what you all have to say about it. You can help me get to the heart of it, I hope.

  122. Anna, I honestly don't know how well I can explain it all. Being a 'teacher' is tough with writing because it's just plain HARD to explain. It's something a writer needs to learn by doing.

    But I want to explore it and I am interested in what you all have to say about it. You can help me get to the heart of it, I hope.

  123. 123 comments????????

    I go away for about 12 hours and you have 123 COMMENTS???????

    Did you bring food? Did you bring drinks? Is there enough T.P.??????

  124. I'm a bad cook, Ruthy. My food would actually reduce the number of comments. I've saved everyone a lot of pain by letting them go hungry.

    You're welcome.

  125. My gosh there's a lot of good writing in these comments! Well done, everyone!

    I tend to respond better to 'underplayed' emotion -- the 'still water runs deep' kind of emotion. I want emotion expressed or shown (not just thought), but not exploited for the sake of appealing to readers. Does that make sense?

    Probably not.

    Maybe it's because I grew up with brothers, but some of my favorite emotional scenes are the ones in the Kincaid Brothers series. So true to what I've observed.

    Thanks for starting such an interesting discussion, Mary!

    Nancy C

  126. Thanks, Nancy, you know you make a great point. In our efforts to get emotion we can OVER play it, turn it into something maudlin and unnatural and phony.

    With writing it is ALWAYS a balancing act.

  127. Lots of good comments. Love your books Mary. Would so love to win your book Tried and True!
    Keep up the wonderful writing!

  128. I love your books and would love to have your latest. As for my favorite scene, well I don't really have one. In every book I read I find a favorite scene. My own wip has stalled and I just can't seem to get going.

  129. Hi Mary:

    You wrote:

    “I hope I didn't play fast and loose with PTSD, because I didn't want to disrespect the men and woman who have it.”

    Don’t worry. There was no PTSD problem in what you wrote. First, I think you won your bones with the “Andersonville” story; second, the key factor with PTSD is making the character sympathetic. Realistic problems can be faced if the poor vet is able to deal with them. It’s when the PTSD is used as an easy way to turn the vet into a dangerous villain that causes unnecessary hurt and criticism. Seth is an inspiration.

    I wish you would publish the “Andersonville” novella in one piece – even if it is always for free and even if it is simply a PDF file downloaded from your website. It might make a good Mary Nealy book.

    Reading the "Andersonville" story made all the associated romance novels much more enjoyable for me. The novella provides the kind of backstory that greatly enriches the reading experience but is usally not possible to provide in a genre romance.

    I wanted to refer to the “Andersonville” novella in a review of “Stuck Together” but the link to the story is very unfriendly. The website starts on the last chapter and the reader has to work backwards chapter by chapter. It is almost as if the novella has been lost at the bottom on Carlsbad cavern along with Jasper’s diamonds!

    BTW: The hero’s sister in “Stranded” is strongly attracted to the hero’s best Army buddy who wants to be a country music singer and who has a hit record, written by the hero, ("Looking for a Hero") as the story opens. The problem: the hero’s sister is a war widow who, even after three years, will not even date another serviceman. The buddy has just 8 years to retirement and does not want to leave the Army. There sure is a romance here but I don’t think there is a meta-romance. I used all my meta-romance fireworks in the first book. I don't think I have any more left. :(

    Also, I'm on the second draft of the whole book. The first and last chapters have been revised over a dozen times. I think I need to finish the second draft and then send it to Tina's service.

  130. In one of my WIPs, the heroine has escaped from being kidnapped and must lead the person she fears most, the lead investigator, to the site where she was held. At some point she realizes that the investigator is keeping close proximity to her in order to protect her. It changes her opinion on him.

  131. The beam from Aubrey Jackson’s flashlight wobbled against the sign hanging from her neighbor’s sagging chain link fence.
    Shoot first, ask questions later.
    It was a promise he’d keep if he found a trespasser on his property.
    Aubrey took a deep breath to steady her shaking hands as she slipped her phone from her pocket. She reached for her glasses, then bit back a frustrated sigh. They were still on her nightstand at home.
    She had no problems reading the big, bold letters on the sign a moment before, but now she squinted, trying to re-read the blurry words of the text message that had pulled her out of bed half-an-hour ago. Her thumb swiped over to the contacts screen and hovered over Caleb’s name. She should call her half-brother the police officer. File a report. Let the police handle the situation.
    Aubrey hesitated, knowing that asking for Caleb’s help would mean seeing his partner Nathan Turner. And she’d have to explain why she hadn’t reported that Ms. Ida’s car had been stolen days ago.
    She hit the last number, then thought better of it and disconnected the call before the first ring. She wasn’t ready to deal with either of those complications.
    And another text message she’d received flashed in her mind.
    Please don’t call the police.
    Jessica promised she’d meet Aubrey today to deliver an explanation. And to return the $10,000 she’d taken from Aubrey.
    Aubrey shoved the phone into her pocket. Wiped her sweaty palms across her black scrub pants then dropped to her knees and prepared to squeeze her nearly six-foot frame through the deer-sized hole in the fence separating the two properties.
    She wiggled her top half through. A biting pain dug into her arm. Her yelp punctured the pre-dawn silence. Aubrey jerked her head and prepared to fight off one or both of the neighbor’s Dobermans who were trained to enforce the no trespassing rules of the property.
    A laugh shakier than her hands escaped. There were no dogs. A jagged piece of chain link had sliced across her arm.

  132. ...The wet grass brushed across her arm cooling the stinging welt. Clumps of dirt and rock dug into stomach as she dragged her body across the ground, determined to stay below the shield of the knee high grass. Dust drifted up and tickled Aubrey’s nose. Her eyes darted across the lot looking for evidence that she’d woken her neighbor or his guard dogs. Given the choice s he’d rather face the Dobermans that patrolled the junkyard than the ill-tempered junkman and his shotgun.
    But she saw no one else around. Only a rusty refrigerator stood sentry over mountains of scrap metal. Fog crawled across the river settling around the dozens of abandoned cars.
    Just a few more feet.
    She stopped. Listened. Something squeaked. The sound of a foot striking a loose board on the dock? Or just a bull frog’s chorus?
    Aubrey took a ragged breath. Crept ahead. The Lincoln sat drunkenly between a doorless pick-up truck and a VW van. Exactly where the anonymous text message said it would be.
    Whoever had stolen her car had been considerate enough to return it, but not where they’d found it.
    She eased open the door. Her body sagged in relief as she slid across the cool leather seat. It took three tries for her shaking hands to get the key into the ignition. A click echoed in her ear. Her arm flew up to protect herself from the gun. But no bullet came. The sound was the automatic locks securing all four doors.
    It was time to get out of her before she gave herself a heart attack. Or an asthma attack.
    She flipped the headlights on low. The beams danced on the water like fire flies. In front of her the bank dropped steeply, sheared off by the fast moving waters. Aubrey checked the mirror. She’d have to dodge the leaning tower of tires behind her to back out.
    A flash in the car’s side mirror caught her eye. She froze. Moonlight bounced off of metal. The barrel of a gun?
    An explosion pierced the air. Aubrey threw the car in reverse. Tires tumbled onto the ground, blocking her escape.
    She eased the car forward, keeping a foot on the brake. The car picked up speed.
    Aubrey punched the brake. But the car only accelerated. She jammed the break with both feet.
    The car ate up the short stretch of grass, spitting chunks of wet earth from beneath its tires. The front wheels spun as uselessly as Aubrey’s mind as the car seesawed over the bank's edge.
    The front fender kissed the river. The reality of her situated sprayed over her just like the water on her windshield.
    Aubrey reached for the door just as the car slid into the water.

  133. Mary, I'm sure the patrons at the library where I work would love your books. We get requests for more historical Christian fiction all the time. I'll add your titles to the wish list.
    I'm a big re-reader. I've reread the O'Malley series by Dee Henderson more times than I should admit!
    I'm sorry you battle insomnia but I'm glad you find solace in reading. Even if reading is a double edge sword that helps to slay insomnia but can be a weapon to keep the sheep at bay. :-)

  134. Vince I moved it on my blog to it's own pages, in order.
    But I will look into publishing a Kindle version.
    I sort of hate asking for 99 cents when it's available free, but I guess if I made it Clear that it is available free and make it free on Amazon as much as possible it might be okay.
    Check Here:

    Closer Than Brothers in One Document starting at the beginning

  135. Cheryl, thanks for stopping in. You're in the drawing

  136. brassy, you're stopped in your own book?

    A couple of thoughts that might rock you off the bump you're stuck on. Go back a few chapters and see if some BIG conflict got cleared up to soon. Sometimes we solve a problem and drain all the tension out of our story.

    Second, have you considered some kind of explosion, maybe emotional, maybe actual dynamite? That adds an action scene.
    In other words.....shoot somebody. Perhaps metaphorically, but I prefer to see bullets really start flying.

  137. Hi Walt, thanks for chiming in. I love the idea that she fears him and then changes through the scene.

  138. ouradvocate, this is a terrific scene. Thank you for sharing it. LOVE IT!

    And you left us all hanging too.


  139. ouradvocate, you work in a library? I've always thought that would be such a great atmosphere. Surrounded by books and people who love books.

    Thanks for thinking of my books for your library. I hope they get them!!!!! :)

  140. I'm currently writing a nonfiction with real-life examples included. There is a scene where I'm given shocking news. It has been a challenge to write this scene, honestly expressing emotions without over-kill. I'm looking forward to your articles on emotions!

  141. I'm enjoying all the examples here. Stories I obviously need to catch up with.

  142. Mary, informative post! We can have fabulous characters and a dynamic plot, but without emotion, the story dies on paper.

  143. Hi Mary:

    You might want to rethink that link. Here’s the message you get on that page:

    Sorry, the page you were looking for in this blog does not exist.

    As for the 99 cents for the Kindle book, why not add a small enhancement for the for sale books? This is what Louis L’Amour did when someone published his out of copyright short stories as a collection. Louis published an official version with a short introduction added to introduce each short story. Add even a little enhancement and nobody will think twice about the 99 cent fee.


    P.S. As a marketing ploy, I’d offer the “Andersonville” book as a free gift mentioned only at the end of your novels. Only the readers who read to the end of your books would know about the offer. You’d be offering them a bonus right at the time they would be thinking of buying your next book. This would be a good point to mention all of your novels that have an “Andersonville” tie-in.

  144. Mary, call me Heather. :-) I'm a children's librarian / Jane of all genres. :-) Some days I feel like I spend more time with computers than I do books. But the library has been a great ministry for me.
    Thanks for the compliment on my scene. I can't wait to read your new book. It's such a unique premise. And wow chapter for had me opening my mouth for the crow the hero is about to have to eat!
    *Heather H.

  145. VINCE if you go to my blog and click on Trouble in Texas Prequel it's all there.
    But I'm seriously considering what you suggested.
    I'd make it perma-free but I'm not sure Amazon allows that.

    But I'll definitely (If I do it) make it free or cheap as much as possible. :) And adding some new material is a cool idea.

  146. Hi Heather.
    Thanks for commenting and introducing yourself. :)

  147. TRIED AND TRUE sounds terrific and I love the cover. Please sign me up for the drawing.

    All best wishes with this book.