Monday, September 19, 2016

"Pucker Up" your Hero and Heroine Within Publisher Parameters



Janet here. I attended the Christian Fiction Readers Retreat held in Nashville before the ACFW conference and was part of the “Pucker Up” panel with authors Julie Lessman, Ruthy Logan Herne, Kristi Ann Hunter, Melanie Dickerson and Pepper Basham. The discussion of kissing in our books was lively and fun. The level of sensuality in the panelists’ books varied with our publishers. 




As many of you know, I'm blessed to write for Love Inspired Historical. I've never seen rules on kissing for this or other LI lines. So how do un-pubbed writers know what a publisher prefers when it comes to kissing? I'd suggest studying the level of attraction or sexual tension of the publishing house you’re targeting by checking their guidelines and more importantly, reading their published books. Editors within a house may also have personal preferences. If your kissing scenes require a fan and that's too much sizzle for the editor, I'm guessing she'll offer suggestions, not reject the book. Still, why not try to nail it?   

I've found these tips help me write kissing scenes that please Love Inspired readers, while keeping the romance strong and believable.             
  • ·         Watch the focus.

I don't focus just on the hero and heroine’s physical attributes such as beauty and physique. Instead I try to show the traits these two admire in each other. That doesn’t mean the romance has to be unemotional or devoid of magnetism. Far from it!

  • ·         Up the sexual tension with conflict.

The key to writing emotionally satisfying love story is to give the reader loads of sexual tension. Sexual tension is the emotional reaction/the attraction that the hero and heroine feel for each other, yet resist because of the conflicts between them. Their conflicts come from the external goals in the plot and from internal goals from their back story. Back story is what they experienced before the story opens and is still impacting them today. I love the push-pull of the romance. When the characters are ambivalent, both attracted yet not trusting one another, the sexual tension will be strong. 

  • ·         Make them wait.
Normally kisses in Love Inspired novels shouldn’t come early in the story. Though the hero and heroine may feel attraction early on, they need time to discover what they admire in each other, to develop that attraction so that even with all the conflicts between them, they’ll take the risk of kissing.
  • ·         Use the “almost kiss”
With all that attraction, how do we make them wait to kiss in a way that’s believable and forwards the plot? The best way I’ve found to delay the kiss and still keep the attraction strong is to use the “almost kiss.” The hero and heroine want to kiss, come close to kissing, but then she/he comes to her/his senses and resists. Another technique of the “almost kiss” is for someone or something to interrupt them. Though if the “almost kiss” is overused, your readers may be irked. 
   
To show the progression of kissing, all of my examples are from my Love Inspired Historical novel The Bounty Hunter’s Redemption.


The “almost kiss” in the hero Nate’s point of view:

“You’re a beautiful woman, Carly.” He lowered his head until his lips hovered over hers, wanting only to kiss her. Desperate to kiss her. Waiting for her permission.

Disquiet filled her eyes and she lurched back. “You should leave.”

What had he been thinking? A kiss suggested permanence, a future. Something he couldn’t offer.  Didn’t even know he had.

Though Carly broke off the kiss, Nate realizes kissing her would’ve been a big mistake. The attraction is strong but the conflict between these two is stronger. Give your hero and heroine’s strong external conflicts and strong wounds from their past so their reluctance to kiss is believable.  
  • ·         Combine admiration and caring with the kiss’s sensuality.

This first kiss in The Bounty Hunter’s Redemption is found on page 188 of a 280 page book. At this point Carly feels Nate is trustworthy, a good man, and wants to kiss him, yet the conflicts between them are still unresolved and they both have some “growing” or changing to do before they’re ready for love. 
  
     Nate brushed two fingertips over her lips, so soft, parting now, rosy and beckoning. He wanted to kiss her badly. He wanted to be that good man she sought. He wanted to give her everything.
     
     “You smell good,” she said, leaning in, as if she couldn’t get enough of his scent.
     
     He touched the silky, fragrant strands of her hair. “You’re beautiful, Carly, inside and out.” He lowered his head, looking into her eyes for permission.
     
     Her eyelids drifted closed. “Nate,” she whispered.
     
     His name, rolling off her lips, filled with longing, was all the invitation he needed.
With a moan, he pulled her to him, brushing his lips over hers. With Carly in his arms, the years of loneliness fled. As he deepened the kiss, Carly rose on tiptoe and slid her arms around his back. The touch of her soft curves shot through his veins, igniting the wild beat of his heart.
    
     With a sigh, she broke away. “I…I have to work. I can’t get wrapped up in…”
     
     “In what?”     
     She raised her forlorn gaze to his. “In foolish dreams.”
  • ·         Relive the kiss

I don't use a lot of kisses in my stories so I try to get as much impact as I can from each one. One great way is to have the hero and heroine relive the kiss, either the next time they meet, or when they’re alone or both. I usually relive the kiss in both characters’ points of view.

Here Carly is reliving the kiss in her thoughts. The memory of the kiss still impacts her and gives her hope:

     Her gaze swept the shop and the walk beyond. Seeing no one, she hurried to the full-length mirror and held the shimmering red confection in front of her, swaying to the tune of the Blue Danube waltz playing in her head, visualizing Nate’s strong arms around her, holding her close. His arms would cherish and protect, exactly as she’d felt during their kiss.
     
     Her mind zipped back to the soft pressure of his lips on hers, the thrilling tingle that raised goose bumps on her arms and warmed her clear to her toes. That kiss suggested tomorrow. A relationship of permanence.
     
     Would he kiss her again?
Then she relives the kiss again when they meet for the first time since the kiss:

     He moved closer, his stride loose, confident, almost a swagger. Carly’s traitorous thoughts zinged to his kiss. To the softness of his lips, the hard muscles of his chest beneath her palm, the wild beating of his heart.
     
     As wild as her erratic pulse now. He stopped near her, his smoldering eyes locking with hers then lowering to her mouth.
     
     He must be thinking of their kiss. That kiss had left her exhilarated, full of yearning, and oh, yes, of trepidation, leaving her as unraveled as a tattered tea towel.

  • Make the kisses sweet, playful. 

With all the conflict and struggles the characters go through, I sometimes like to end my stories with the spirit of fun. The kisses in these last scenes are typically sweet with promise and not as sensual. By now Carly has changed enough to risk love, even to take the lead in the relationship:

     She motioned to the gun belt riding Nate’s hips. “Are you giving that up?”
     
     Without one word, Nate released the buckle and tossed his gun belt onto the floor, then pulled her close. “Only a fool would choose a six-shooter over an amazing woman like you.”
     
    Tears stung her eyes. “I love you, Nate. Goodness knows I’ve fought it with everything in me. But there it is.” She raised her chin. “So what are you going to do about it?”
     
     He grinned. “I like a woman who knows her own mind. Guess it’s time to buy a livery.”
     
     “What?” she said, swatting at him.
     
      “Appears my feisty seamstress’s apt to stitch a nip or a tuck in my hide if I don’t get it said.”
     
      He dropped to the floor on one knee and took her hand, gazing up at her. What she saw in the depths of his smoky-gray eyes spoke the words she longed to hear and knew were coming.
    
    “I love you, Carly, with all my being. Will you do me the great honor of becoming my wife?”
     
     “Yes, I’ll marry you!” She rose, pulling him to his feet and into her arms. Nothing had ever felt so right.
     
     He lowered his head and kissed her. She gently cupped Nate’s jaw and returned that kiss, her heart hammering wildly in her chest.

Then in the last lines of the book, Carly’s son Henry appears. Nate’s kisses are not about the romance here. They’re a pledge to Carly and her son for a Happily Ever After and hopefully a sigh-worthy moment for the reader:

     Nate gathered Henry in his arms then stood and tugged Carly close in the other, kissing both their cheeks. A kiss with the promise of now and forevermore.
     
      Henry took Nate’s cheeks in his hands. “You aren’t gonna leave town, are you?”
     
      “No, my boy. I’d never leave a town where I found myself, found my family, found God. All waiting on a bounty hunter to find his way home.”

Whatever publisher you’re targeting, have fun writing those pucker up scenes, add conflict, add heart stopping romance and those kisses will be a highlight for the reader.

For a chance to win your choice of one of the Seeker’s eBooks, share a memorable kiss from a novel you read or wrote.

Or tell us about your real-life first romantic kiss. That should be fun!  

I brought a breakfast buffet of scrambled eggs, fruit, fried potatoes, crisp bacon and French toast, along with persimmons, guaranteed to make you pucker up. Actually when they’re ripe and made into a persimmon pudding, persimmons are a delight, at least for me.

Or tell us if you’ve tasted the unique flavor of persimmon pudding?  


Janet Dean grew up in a family who cherished the past and had a strong creative streak. Her father recounted fascinating stories, like his father before him. The tales they told instilled in Janet a love of history and the desire to write. Today Janet spins stories for Love Inspired Historical. She is a two-time Golden Heart finalist, a Genesis and a Carol finalist and a member of Romance Writers of America and American Christian Fiction Writers. Her novels are Golden Quill, Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence, Booksellers Best, Inspirational Readers Choice Award finalists. Visit Janet at her Website: www.janetdean.net and group blog: www.seekerville.blogspot.com


129 comments:

Melinda Galloway said...

Such a good read! Thanks Janet for the great advice for writing a real tummy twisting kissing scene!
Melinda

Melissa Jagears said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Melissa Jagears said...

Ha! I don't remember my first romantic kiss, but I remember my first (only ever kissed one guy, so that makes memory easy :) and it was bad, still married him anyway. So the story is, my hubby was not a Christian when we met, and he knew from the get-go his previous dating life would look nothing like what ours would be like and of course, as a new Christian he didn't want it to. So, he knew that he'd be taking this romance thing sloooooooooow in comparison to how he was used to romancing. So, we'd been dating for a few months and he was going waaaaaaaaaay too slow. I mean we were already talking about getting married and he hadn't kissed me yet. So at a restaurant, I have this thing where times like 3:33 and 5:55 is make a wish time. So he saw the clock and said, it's make a wish time and my wish was that he'd finally kiss me. You can't share your wish, it's the rules, but when he asked me, I tried to give him a look, a desperate 'get on with it' look. So we're walking in the parking lot afterward and he told me later he didn't understand the "look" but he'd decided it was time to kiss me. He leaned down and kissed me before I got into my car, but all he did was a simple quick peck on the lips like you kiss your grandma or your niece! And then he straightened back up and said, "Now that wasn't so bad, was it?" Gah! Like no one had ever kissed me like that before! Ha ha, that kiss in all its glory overshadowed all other future kisses because neither of us can remember our first real one.

Janet Dean said...

MELINDA, thanks! Kissing scenes are such fun to write. Guess I'm anticipating the kiss as much as my characters. :-)

Janet

Rhonda Starnes said...

This is a great post. Thanks, Janet!

In one of my manuscripts that I'm revising, there was an almost kiss on page 100, and the editor commented that it was too soon for this. I'm thinking, we're half-way through the book so it's perfect timing for an almost kiss, but I guess I'll have to push it back another thirty pages or so.

Janet Dean said...

MELISSA, your real life kiss is hilarious! Even funnier is you can't remember the first good one. :-)

My first kiss was with the first guy I dated. I was nervous about kissing, I think. Or maybe just a chatty Cathy. But when he leaned down to kiss me, I was talking and bit him on the lip.

Janet, the vampire

Jackie said...

Hi Janet,

What a great post. My granddaughter is in first grade and a little boy has a crush on her. First he told her she was the most beautiful girl in their class and now she's the most beautiful girl in the world. (How cute is that?) I told her to be careful because my first boyfriend was in first grade.

In writing, I have to force myself not to rush the kiss. Thanks for the great tips!

Janet Dean said...

RHONDA, we make our editors happy. I'm sure pushing the "almost" kiss back will keep readers turning the page. Attraction/conflict is a fine line to walk. Sometimes the conflict is so strong, even an "almost" kiss may feel unlikely. Thanks for sharing.

Janet

Jill Weatherholt said...

Great post, Janet! I loved reading your excerpts.
My favorite kissing scenes are the playful and funny ones, probably because my first kiss was kind of funny. It happened in high school, in front of my locker. The boy I was going "steady" with decided to spring one on me right when the bell rang for class. I don't remember walking from my locker to gym class, but my best friend told me I was as white as a ghost. :)

Janet Dean said...

JACKIE, that little guy is smitten with your granddaughter! Sounds like she's following in Grandma's footsteps.

How fast that kiss can come varies by publisher, by editor. Personally I like to make the hero and heroine wait, as they anticipate. Now Julie will have another strategy. :-)

Janet

Janet Dean said...

JILL, I'm chuckling because I'd expected you to say you were walking on air, not white as a ghost. Care to explain your reaction? Romance is not for sissies. LOL

Janet

Jill Weatherholt said...

I think it was the PDA factor, Janet. I've never been a fan of that. :)

Rose said...

Great topic, Janet!

I love the 'almost kiss' in a book. I don't even mind if there are two. After that, though, I want the characters to kiss. I will say that more than one 'almost kiss' works better in historical books than contemporary...my opinion only!

Terri said...

Thanks for sharing Janet. Love be Inspired did tell me the kiss in my story came too soon.

Josee Telfer said...

Love this post Janet because I love, love, love to read kissing scenes - only secondary to writing them!

My preference when I'm reading is to build the sexual tension up so that you're flipping the pages thinking "JUST KISS ALREADY"! When the readers are begging for the kiss the payoff is much bigger when it finally happens, IMO.

On the flip side, I just recently finished a popular contemporary romance (clean but not Christian though written by a Christian author) and there were so many kisses, they lost their impact, for me, anyway.

I also happen to believe the second kiss is usually better than the first. That first kiss can tend be tentative and exploratory but the second kiss is where more passion can be described.





DebH said...

As a reader, I LOVE the almost kisses for upping the tension because the finally first kiss feels that much more special.

I don't remember my first romantic kiss, but I do remember the first time I got clued in on when a boy might want to kiss me. In college I was dating a guy and we were talking when he suddenly got a weird look on his face - like he was in some sort of severe pain (or a cramp or something). I asked what was wrong and he just leaned in and kissed me. After that, if I was out on a date and noticed a weird look on the guy's face, the trend was that a kiss followed right after. I used this info to "duck" kisses from guys I wasn't that interested in by either turning away, pretending to notice something of interest out of range of his lips, or asking a question that would have them stop to answer (and again, get out of range of lips). Hopefully I did it well enough to help them save face and keep their ego intact, but I'm not sure.

After getting married, I realized that weird look was my man's "I love you, I want you" look. I'm guessing when I was thinking "kiss me, you fool!" I had a pretty weird look on my face too. Well, out of the norm, anyway.

Cool post Janet!

Janet Dean said...

JILL, a kiss during school would be a shocker. So how long did this relationship last?

The first boy I kissed was a 4-H summer romance. He stood me up for a date for the County Fair. There was nothing serious about us but still, that hurt.

Janet

Glynna Kaye said...

Beautiful examples, Janet! "Almost" kisses are fun to write. Playful kisses, too. And even if your publisher won't let you do TOO early of a kiss, there's usually a little more leeway in them THINKING about a possible future kiss and tamping down those thoughts. :)

Missy Tippens said...

Janet, I love your examples. And especially love the ending of that story. I loved that book! :) Using the almost-kiss is one of my favorite scenes to write.

BTW, I love sweet, ripe persimmons!! My sister-in-law's mother-in-law has a tree that produces the best ones!

Janet Dean said...

ROSE, your opinion is spot on with mine. Too many "almost" kisses and you risk irking the reader. For me that's true with contemp and historical romances. Historicals may have more of an expectation for easing into the relationship, though I'm not sure that was true back in the day. :-)

Janet

Missy Tippens said...

DebH, that's so funny but true! Very observant of you and smart to use it in a story. :)

Janet Dean said...

TERRI, I had the same experience with my debut. The reason writers need to tweak their kissing scenes for the publisher they're targeting. The good thing: moving the kiss to a spot later in the book is an easy fix. Often you can replace that earlier one with the "almost" kiss. The main thing is to keep the sexual tension strong.

Janet

Missy Tippens said...

Melissa, what a great story about your first kiss! :)

Missy Tippens said...

Oh, Janet!!! LOL I just read your comment about your first kiss. So funny. :)

Missy Tippens said...

Jill, that would have been unnerving to have that first kiss in front of a school locker! :)

Janet Dean said...

JOSEE, I agree completely. Anticipation is always a huge part of kisses. Too many kisses lose their impact for me, too. Writers must find the right balance in every area of craft. We're tightrope or balance beam walkers. :-)

Janet

Missy Tippens said...

In the first book I sold, I was told I had too many kisses. I had to take many out and ended up pushing the first kiss back quite a ways. Then I ended up having readers write to me and tell me they thought they'd NEVER kiss! LOL So I think making the reader wait ended up pushing them to keep reading. :)

Janet Dean said...

DEBH, giggling at your fun memories of kisses. I don't remember guys looking pained before they kissed me, though the guy I bit might've looked pained afterwards. LOL You are an expert people watcher!

Janet

Janet Dean said...

GLYNNA, you're so right! Thinking about kissing is a great way to up the sexual tension without actually doing it. Not sure I mentioned that in my post. Thanks for your input!

Janet

Janet Dean said...

MISSY, we're romantics at heart! The "almost" kiss is fun for me to write, too. Thanks for your sweet words about The Bounty Hunter's Redemption.

I've never eaten a plain persimmon! Thrilled that you have. Was it rotten looking? I've heard that's when you know they're ripe.

Janet

Janet Dean said...

MISSY, biting the guy was so embarrassing! As I recall, he howled. Not that I drew blood. He must've been a wuss. :-)

Janet

DebH said...

Ha Janet. I'm guessing the first time a guy wants to kiss a girl he really likes is a bit painful for the man. Fear of rejection and exposing his true feelings is tough on a guy (according to my two brothers - the younger of which told me once that I had kissed WAAAAYYYYYY too many boys for his liking). My two brothers schooled me on the agonies that guys go through when they like girls. They gave me advice on how to not make things tough on a guy and save his ego as much as possible. Usually couched in "don't ever do 'thus and such' to a guy... you're better off just punching him in the guts"

I love my brothers.

Cindy Regnier said...

This is so nerdy of me, but I have always loved Almanzo and Laura's first kiss in These Happy Golden Years. Laura actually initiates it, I guess, with "You may kiss me goodnight," and holds up her face in the moonlight. Pretty much unromantic to ask for it like that, and yet soooo romantic for them - if anyone gets that.

Thank you Janet. Great post. And I loved The Bounty Hunter's Redemption. So fun to reread the excerpts.

Janet Dean said...

MISSY, I think our editors know our readers and waiting is spot on, as long as we make sure the kiss was worth the wait. Aren't reader letters great!

Janet

Caryl Kane said...

JANET, thank you for this fun post! I miss "kisses" from my Golden Retriever, Happy.

I'm not a persimmon fan!

Have a MAGICAL Monday!!!

Please enter me in the drawing.

Janet Dean said...

DEBH, love how your brothers tutored you in Kissing 101!! I had two brothers, too. The older one was shy and didn't date early. I think I'd dated before he did. The younger one never gave me advice or sought it. It would've been fun to get a guy's point of view.

Janet

DebH said...

p.s. Janet I absolutely LOVED Bounty Hunter's Redemption! (and not because the hero shares my little man's name). That was such a wonderful read for me.

Janet Dean said...

CINDY, giving permission was part of those times, I guess. But we do like a hero with a little more gumption. :-) Thanks for your kind words about this story!

Janet

Janet Dean said...

CARYL, dogs love to kiss! But like you, I like them to miss their target. :-) We have two grand dogs. Both are beginning to get that I don't like licks. I've heard they like to lick our skin for the salt. Do you think that's right? I don't sweat enough to believe that.

Janet

Tina Radcliffe said...

Raising both hands high for the almost kiss!

My favorite kiss award still belongs to Jude Devereaux.

"Putting one big hand behind her head, he turned her to the side and began to kiss her with all the passion she had missed in her life. He kissed her the way she had always wanted to be kissed, had dreamed of being kissed, kissed her the way fairy tales are supposed to end, the way all the books say a kiss should feel-the way no one had ever kissed her before.

Marianne Barkman said...

Loved the post and the comments. I love how your novels have the kisses, Christian fiction is great that way! Thank you!

Connie Queen said...

My first kiss was in junior high and REAL mature. There were 3 of us couples and we walked down to the railroad tracks before a football game. One guy said on the count of three we were all to kiss. So we did.

A couple of dry spell years later, my now-husband drove me home. Will never forget because I was supposed to be in the house by midnight. I really wanted him to know I liked him, and evidently he felt the same way, because the clock read 11:58 when we started the kiss and 12:01 when we stopped. I don't think we've ever came close to lip-locking for one kiss that long since...

Connie Queen said...

And Janet,

I'm absolutely horrible at writing kissing scenes, but this posts helps. I'll be coming back to this until I get it down.

Tina Radcliffe said...

I have never, in my entire life, had a persimmon.

Myra Johnson said...

Love all these tips, Janet--thanks! And you were so cute on the CFRR panel. Wise, witty, and absolutely charming!

Missy Tippens said...

Janet, I didn't think the persimmon looked rotten. It was just soft and juicy and sweet. It was a particular species of tree that seems to grow particularly good fruit, but I can't remember the name. Maybe a Japanese persimmon?? They were a dark orange color.

Missy Tippens said...

Tina, a Jude Devereaux book is what got me interested in writing romance novels! :)

Sandra Leesmith said...

Fun post Janet. Love those kisses. smile And I've never had persimmon pudding. Sounds great as does the whole breakfast. I"m hungry this crisp fall type morning.

I can't remember that far back as to my first kiss. I think it was during some dumb game like spin the bottle and it was more hilarious than real.

Now I remember my first kiss with hubby. Hmmmmm. I'm saving that for my next novel.

Edwina said...

My first kiss was when I was a freshman in high school. This guy and I liked each other so we arranged to meet and sit together at the game. While everyone was standing and cheering, we were seated (so my dad wouldn't see us) and he kissed me. It was awful!!
He had been smoking and that kiss was nothing but smoke. We broke up that night.

Sharee S said...

Janet, thank you for this wonderful post. Kissing is an art, yes?
I've never had a persimmon but the name is so pretty, I'd be willing to give it a whirl.

Tina, I used to love Jude Devereaux and that description was lovely!

As a few other folks have already mentioned, I enjoy that part of the book when you're thinking "come on already! kiss her/him!"

Chill N said...

Fun post, Janet! Thanks for the examples . The fact that Nate doesn't kiss Carly shows he takes the kiss seriously, as a pledge, and endears him to me :-)

Several of the kissing stories shared in comments would be fun to read in a romance.

Nancy C

Debby Giusti said...

Janet, I loved this book when I read it. Now, I'm ready to read it again after your lovely excerpts. Oh those kisses, each so perfect. Love your "almost kiss," too. And the way you look back at that first kiss so the emotion can simmer anew within the hero and heroine. All so good.

Watch out, Julie Lessman. Janet is giving you a run for your money on the subject of kissing! :)

Debby Giusti said...

Are we doing first kisses?

Hubby barely brushed my lips with his the first time we kissed. He must have know that less was more, so to speak. My toes tingled...and I wanted to get to know more about the handsome captain at Fort Knox, KY, who was stealing my heart!!!

I'm still crazy about him and his kisses!

Janet Dean said...

Sorry to be behind with the conversation. My Bible study gals just left my house. We had lots to say and pray about today. God is so good!

Janet

Janet Dean said...

TINA, love the kiss from Jude's book! That was so romantic! Thanks for sharing.

Janet

Janet Dean said...

MARIANNE, you're such a faithful reader and encourage those of us writing Christian Fiction. Thank you!

Janet

Heidi Robbins said...

I love books with good kissing scenes! My all-time favorite is in Edenbrooke by Julianne Donaldson. The romantic tension between the characters steadily builds throughout the whole novel, and like you said Janet, conflict is what made it so great! When Phillip finally kisses Marianne, it's amazing. Sigh. Now I need to go read that book again ;)

Please put my name in the hat for the giveaway!

Janet Dean said...

CONNIE, love the fun examples of young kisses!! The countdown is a new one for me. :-) The lip-lock with your DH may have set a record for the longest kiss, though I have never timed them. A curfew turned timer. LOL

Believe it or not, I once played Spin the Bottle at a church youth group party. I remember being so nervous. But the kisses were very chaste. Almost "almost" kisses. :-)

Janet

Janet Dean said...

CONNIE, practice makes perfect with written kisses, the same as with real kisses. :-)

Janet

Janet Dean said...

TINA, I'm not sure persimmons grow just anywhere. The trees are in Southern Indiana. Maybe all southern climates except dry desert climates have them. I must Google that.

Janet

Janet Dean said...

MYRA, you made my day. Thanks! Honestly when I get up front I'm leery of what will come out of my mouth. Or what foot will fly in. :-o

Janet

Janet Dean said...

MISSY, not sure what type grow in Indiana. The color is right. We used to say they were ripe when they fell off the tree onto the ground. That is messy.

Janet

Janet Dean said...

SANDRA, you played spin the bottle, too! It was more funny than romantic.

Glad you remembered that first kiss from hubby well enough to put it in a book. :-)

Janet

Janet Dean said...

EDWINA, I'm laughing at the image of that smoke-laced kiss!! Ugh. Those first experiences wiht young romance teach us a lot. I hope that guy learned the value of keeping gum on hand. Or better yet, gave up smoking.

Janet

Janet Dean said...

SHAREE, Kissing is an art. Did you ever hook glasses or your noses got in the way? LOL Maybe I was a geek kisser!!

When trying a persimmon, make sure its ripe. If not, your mouth will pucker up in a terrible way! Shivering at the mere idea.

Janet

Janet Dean said...

NANCY C, I was thinking the same thing! These stories are so cute but they might work better in a YA romance. Where's Melanie??

Janet

Janet Dean said...

DEBBY, thank you but I don't think JULIE has anything to fear from me. She wrote an eBook on kissing! Still we can all add that sigh factor to our books and take fewer kisses and milk them with anticipating, almost kissing, reliving the kiss. So much fun to write!

Janet

Janet Dean said...

DEBBY, thanks for sharing your first hubby kiss. Obviously he was the one, if just brushing his lips over yours made you tingle clear to your toes! So romantic!!!

Janet

Janet Dean said...

HEIDI, you've made me want to read the book! When characters hang in your head, you know it's a great read! Thanks for sharing.

Janet

Nicky Chapelway said...

I spend a lot of time figuring out what my character's first kisses will be. I think the leading up to the kisses as well as the different types of kisses really counts on the characters involved. For instance I have a couple in a series who wait three books to kiss (though, the guy does get kissed by a different girl in the second book- I know I'm pretty diabolical). Up until then the girl isn't exactly sure she wants to kiss the boy (they've only ever been just friends) and there are quite a few almost kisses. Most of which are interrupted by circumstances and other people, although she does stop the kiss (therefore making it an almost kiss) at one point telling him that she only wants to remain friends. However, the guy finally got his kiss right before he was dragged off by a bunch of assassins who wanted to deal with him the permanent way. That kiss basically signified the beginning of their romantic relationship.

Whereas I have another couple who kiss shortly after meeting (she had hypothermia and he was trying to shock her into waking up some, sleeping beauty style) but that kiss doesn't exactly mean that much for their relationship as they really just met (though there was some attraction involved mind you!) and the girl figures the guy just kissed her in the need of the moment.

And as for what my first kiss is... well I haven't had one...yet! Yet, being the important word here, people. I'm not an Old Maid.

Please enter my name for the drawing!

Nicky Chapelway said...

Heidi, oh my word! Edenbrooke? I LOVED that book! I haven't read it in a while though, something that I should probably rectify soon :)

Tina Radcliffe said...

I think the beauty of that Jude Devereaux kiss is that she doesn't over describe, there it become a universal kiss. We all interpret differently.

Beth Erin said...

Here's my favorite kissing scene (also a first kiss) from the book I just finished reading A Heart Most Certain by Melissa Jagears page 371 of 383 (after a blissful 5 pages of building up to the big moment here!) Forgive me, Melissa is this is over sharing (I'm usually very careful about no spoilers but this is
...
He captured her hand and kissed her palm. "Please."
Her fingers caressed his temple as she brushed back the hair at his forehead. The shimmer in her eyes had nothing to do with the light of the flickering gas lamps.
His gaze traveled to her lips, pale and glistening in the lamplight. "Show me how much you love me, my fair Lydia."
"I'll try every day you let me." She closed the space between them, her lips brushing against his as soft and light as the snowflakes floating around them.
When her fingers wove into his hair, he moved his lips against hers in an effort to give her the tender fairy-tale first kiss she's probably dreamed of.
However, there was no sleeping beauty needing to be awakened, but rather the shaky faith of a disillusioned knight.
She pulled back, but he drew her closer, kissing her once, twice - but when she broke away again, his lungs lost all air as her mouth traveled slowly along his jawline.
"I love you, Nicholas," she whispered into his ear.
And with each brush of Lydia's lips, each subtle caress, the enchanted briars entangling his heart slipped off one by one. The moment her mouth came back to his, he couldn't contain himself any longer, and for the next minute or two, he let her know exactly what kind of man's heart lay beneath the brambles and chains she'd broken through.
...
I love Christian ficton kisses!!!

Tina Radcliffe said...

That's simply lovely! Go Melissa Jagears.

Debby Giusti said...

Tina, what's that YouTube video on kissing that you posted some weeks ago? It made my heart pitter-patter for sure!

Jackie Smith said...

We have a persimmon tree here in NE GA. We leave the persimmons for the deer; just saw one yesterday ..enjoying the treat!

Nicky Chapelway said...

I think my favorite kiss I have read (off of the top of my head, which means I'll probably remember a kiss I liked more later) was the first kiss in the short story Courtin' Patience. It was so funny! Both characters were already stepping out with someone else, and they ran into each other while trying to enjoy a luncheon with the person they were stepping out with. However sometime during this they ended up alone together and the guy highly jeolous over the fact that Patience is courting another man, leans in and kisses her probably shocking them both!

And then he has the audacity to accuse Patience of MAKING him kiss her! The nerve!

In case you haven't noticed it didn't exactly end well, but I found it amusing all the same :)

Kathryn Barker said...

Janet, all your tips are perfect! The almost kiss you shared from your book is compelling....good job! So many favorite kissing and almost kissing scenes from books it's hard to pick just one!!!

Fun reading through the comments.

It is curious how sometimes you're not aware of someone else's feelings for you...

I had to have a talk with our son when an enchanting gal came to work on our ranch for the summer...she was clearly in love with him, but our son thought she was just a really good friend...shortly after our discussion, things changed and they married about two years later!! Still together and have two delightful children!! My Sweet Husband had to have a little talk with our daughter when she was about thirteen...a young man very attracted to her had been hurt by some of her comments/actions...he explained to her that guys are really sensitive. Fortunately, the young man forgave her and they married--going on fifteen years with an adorable three and half year old!!

Have a blessed Monday everyone!! Wishing for pumpkins scones to have with my tea!! Hmmm...I wonder what persimmon scones would taste like?

Janet Dean said...

NICKY, your stories sound action packed! Hope the hero whose kiss was interrupted by assassins lives so he and the heroine can find their Happily Ever After ending. The hero's use of Sleeping Beauty style kisses to bring the heroine with hypothermia around should build some attraction and conflict between those two.

We can wait for the real life kiss stories, Nicky. No kiss before its time. :-)

Janet

Janet Dean said...

NICKY and HEIDI, I just purchased Edenbrooke for my iPad. After your glowing reviews, I had to read it!

Janet

Janet Dean said...

TINA, What I love about this excerpt is that I feel I know this heroine just from that kiss. I know she's a reader, a daydreamer. I know she yearns for love. Most importantly I know she's been disappointed in past relationships. Now I'd love to know what the hero is thinking. I'd worry that he might let her down but this is a romance so her happy ending is guaranteed. :-)

Janet

Janet Dean said...

BETH, thanks for sharing the sigh-worthy kiss of Melissa's hero and heroine. It's beautifully written and shows what the love of a good woman can do for a man! Yummy excerpt!

Janet

Janet Dean said...

JACKIE, have you tasted one? Fun to know the deer like persimmons. But then what don't they like? LOL

Janet

Janet Dean said...

NICKY, ooh, they probably both deserve for the kiss to end badly. :-) Sounds like a fun read!

Janet

Julie Lessman said...

JANET SAID: "Though if the “almost kiss” is overused, your readers may be irked." LOL ... and some readers (like moi) may even get a wee bit testy the first time ... ;)

JANET SAID: With a moan, he pulled her to him, brushing his lips over hers. With Carly in his arms, the years of loneliness fled. As he deepened the kiss, Carly rose on tiptoe and slid her arms around his back. The touch of her soft curves shot through his veins, igniting the wild beat of his heart.

WHOA, BABY ... Janet!!! LOVED this kiss when I read it, my friend, but then God knows I am partial to moans, which to be honest, I am shocked that LI allows you to use. And the touch of her soft curves??? Mmmm ... LI has come a long, LONG way, baby ... ;)

YOU ASKED: " Or tell us about your real-life first romantic kiss. That should be fun!"

Well, I've never had persimmon pudding, but I guarantee you one thing -- my first real romantic kiss was a WHOLE lot sweeter ... ;)

But ... I'll just tell you about my first kiss ever, which came from MY lips to those of Johnny Huels' in kindergarden, where I cornered him one day in the coatroom at the age of five. I don't think he liked it very much, but I sure did. :) I moved to another school in 2nd grade and thought I'd never see him again. But lo and behold, one day two years later this new family moved in next door, and I eyed this boy over the fence, thinking he looked familiar. He thought I did, too, but it wasn't till we got to talking that we discovered I had chased and kissed him in kindergarden. From that moment on, my older sister and his older brother teased us unmercifully, even putting together a neighborhood wedding with cake and punch. Problem is, I was SO crabby when I woke up from a nap, I refused to go to the wedding. Sigh. I've always regretted that.

Fun post, Janet!

Hugs,
Julie

Janet Dean said...

KATHRYN, I love that your kids didn't realize the other person had a romantic interest in him or her until it was pointed out. Glad both couples have had many happy years together.
Wouldn't it be fun to make a character just as oblivious in a story?

Your DH sounds like a great dad!

Janet

Debby Giusti said...

Am I the only one sharing a personal kiss story?

Next time I'll read the comments before I respond.

Hiding under my desk in my office and feeling very foolish! :)

Janet Dean said...

JULIE, the level of intensity varies with the editor. I think it helps if the passion is interlaced with the character's hurt and loneliness so the kiss is not so much physical, as a form of healing that bonds the two.

You really got me! I was expecting a description of that very sweet romantic kiss. Instead you give a hilarious account of your grammar school groom with the bride too cranky after her nap to attend the nuptials.

Thanks for sharing, Julie!!!

Janet

Janet Dean said...

DEBBY, you're not the only one to share. Some have been the very first kiss, not necessarily the first kiss of their future spouse. Some have been funny.

My first kiss with my DH was hero worthy. And I didn't bite his lip. I call that progress. :-)

Janet

Valri said...

Janet, thanks for your post. To me, the "kiss" is different in just about every book! It always depends on the story! I love "almost kisses" but they have to be in the right place.....I don't care if there are multiple times when they happen either - if it's right! There have been times when an "early" kiss in a book has been right, the story line made it right and I was ok with it. To me, it just depends on the story!

Janet Dean said...

VALRI, you make an important point. Publishers or editors may have preferences, but the story and the relationship will also play a part in deciding what kind of kiss and where it will come in the book.

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Another point I'd like to make is that new writers may not have the same freedom veteran writers have. This can be confusing for writers, especially if they read the line and see a variety for what's permitted.

If an editor falls in love with a story, I doubt she'll let the timing or passion of a kiss stop her from buying the book. She may ask that the kiss be moved to a spot later in the story. Or ask that the kiss be toned down. But those are easy fixes.

Janet

Trixi said...

My first kiss to my (then future) husband was actually quite unexpected! I have always been a bit of a shy person so I usually wait for the man to make the move to kiss first. One night, I was at his house cooking dinner and spending time with him. He was sitting at the dining room table & I was up doing something (probably setting the table), when WHAM, I suddenly leaned down and pecked him on the lips! I hadn't even been really thinking about our first kiss, or considering it at that time. It's like my lips had a mind of their own...lol! I quickly pulled back, felt like I was shocked with a bolt of lightning, my eyes went wide and I just stared at him for about 5 minutes! Then he said to me "Bring those lips back"...haha! I think it really surprised both of us :-) We've been kissing ever since *wink*

Janet, I really liked your post and all the different ways to feature a kiss. As I reader, I really don't like when the first kiss is too soon or the author waits way too long. It especially frustrates me for them to wait a long period of time, I find myself yelling at the characters to "kiss already!!!!" You know they are attracted to each other, you know they care about one another heart & soul, and you know they know it too! Also, as an avid Christian fiction only reader, the author must balance the passion level. I don't want to feel like I'm getting a peek into someones bedroom or feel like I have to hide my eyes behind my fingers. I do enjoy the Love Inspired line of books as each one has the quality I come to expect in a novel. I know I'll never be ashamed to take them out in public :-) And I agree with you, I so LOVE the push/pull of the romance!

Please toss my name in for a Seekers choice of eBook, thanks!

P.S. I've never had persimmons, how do they taste?

Tina Radcliffe said...

Janet, you are so deep. I want to think in layers like you do.

You are right!!!

"TINA, What I love about this excerpt is that I feel I know this heroine just from that kiss. I know she's a reader, a daydreamer. I know she yearns for love. Most importantly I know she's been disappointed in past relationships."

Tina Radcliffe said...

LOVE, love all those personal experience kisses!!

I don't remember mine so I am guessing it wasn't very impressive. hahahahaha

Janet Dean said...

TRIXI, thanks for sharing the first kiss with your future husband. It sounds so sweet. I may have to remember what he said, "Bring those lips back." and use it in a book. Love the sexual tension of staring at each other for a long time first.

Just like Goldilocks likes her porridge, you like the timing of the kiss to be just right! We writers aim to please. I'm picking up that waiting a long time drives readers nuts but maybe in a good way. LOL When the kiss fits what's going on, then it works for me.

I've never eaten a persimmon alone. But in a persimmon pudding, the flavor is unique, something I can't describe but love. Others haven't cared for it so perhaps its an acquired taste. Missy loves persimmons. We'll ask her if she returns.

Janet

Vince said...

Hi Janet:

Just loved this post!

I found it a crystal clear way to explain the most important aspects of 'the romantic kiss' -- all in the fewest words. I've already cut and pasted the post in my Scrivener Writing Reference Project.

I was trying to think of memorable kisses and the most memorably identifiable kisses are what I would call 'more than just a kiss'. For example:

The Air Kiss: when one party wants to safely test the reception a real kiss might garner.

The Accidental Kiss: when it is truly an accident and lips just toutch. This is a way of getting early hero/heroine reactions about 100-150 pages before they might be expected.

The Accidental on Purpose Kiss: when one party plans the 'accident' in order to gauge the reaction a real kiss would get. The reader can be in on the plan and even get the other party's thoughts -- which the kissor cannot.

The Peck on the Forehead: like one might kiss a small child. A safe way to test reactions and a way to cause speculation in the minds of the hero and heroine early in the story.

The Dominate 'Take that Kiss': when the two parties are having a heated dispute and one party, usually the hero, ends the dispute by kissing the heroine. This is a real surprise to the heroine and the reader.

The Slap Kiss: I believe Julie has two of these where the hero tried the 'dominate' kiss and gets slapped for his efforts. I wonder if Julie can remember which books these were in.

The Goodbye Kiss: when one has been dumpted and wants to make the other party feel what they are missing. (A way to show what the kissee is feeling. Helps judge the 'black moment' situation.)

The Revenge Kiss: A kiss to embarras the other party as in front of her mother or boyfriend.

The Express Consent Kiss: as when the hero asks, in no uncertain terms, if he may kiss her. Woody Allen did this in Annie Hall. The question being: will this take all the romance out of the kiss. This kiss can also be expressed as a question: "Should we kiss and make up?" This is best when they have not yet kissed in the book.

The Hypothetical Kiss: when the hero asks the heroine, "if we were to ever kiss, how would you like to be kissed?" (He seems willing for a lesson.)


Those are a few different types of kisses that I find interesting in a romance.

Vince

Yes, please enter my name for an ebook by a Seeker. I'm now at the state where I don't have them all.

Janet Dean said...

TINA, sometimes those layers of thought are fragmented. :-) Actually I was just critiquing the passage. The writers curse. :-) Jude is a pro. She added all those elements to reveal her heroine. That last part--the way no one had ever kissed her before--added a wallop of strong emotion for me and I don't know this character. If I'd been reading the book till then, I'm sure I'd have gotten misty-eyed. On the other hand, Missy would be sobbing. ;-)

Janet

Evelyn Hill said...

I was worried about my romance scene not meeting the LIH guidelines, so I tried to make my heroine's reaction emotional rather than sensual:
Warm lips brushed across her temple and traced a path down her cheek, butterfly-light kisses that made her feel warm and whole and accepted.
And even then, at that point I introduced a kitten into the scene to act as a chaperone.

I think one of the most memorable kisses that I can recall was from one of the film versions of Persuasion, when Ciaran Hinds (swoon) very chastely kisses Amanda Root for the first time at the end of the film. Had to wait two hours for that one, but it was worth it :)

Melissa Jagears said...

Beth, I'm glad you liked it! I worked hard on that one. :)

Evelyn, I hate that kiss in Persuasion, it's my totally favorite persuasion adaptation but the kiss makes me want to scream! But then, the other persuasion? Ugh, the worst first kiss ever, though the second one makes up for it. Give me North & South on repeat! :P

Evelyn Hill said...

Oh, North & South! I think I need to go rewatch that :)
I think the most memorable part of that series was the scene where she walks away and he's just standing there... watching her walk away and willing her to turn around and see him. I wanted to shake the heroine. ;)

Janet Dean said...

TINA, for some of us--not saying you--that first kiss was a while ago. :-)

Janet

Janet Dean said...

VINCE, you identified a lot more kisses than I did! I'll be thinking about the kisses that are new to me. If writers used them all, the book would be littered with kisses. Not saying that's a bad thing. :-)

Thanks for raising the bar.

Janet

Janet Dean said...

EVELYN, your excerpt conveys the power of healing in a kiss. Excellent!

I've had kittens give me the eye, perfect for a chaperone!

I don't know the movie, but if the kiss was chaste, yet the wait was worth it, the kiss must've been fantastic!

Thanks for sharing.

Janet

Janet Dean said...

MELISSA, I loved North and South but don't remember the kiss. :-( Grumpy.

Janet

Janet Dean said...

EVELYN, when we want to shake the heroine, the story is working! Sure we might want a different scenario, but it's not our story to write. Indifference is what we don't want.

Janet

Josee Telfer said...

MELISSA - North and South...probably THE best kiss ever for a masterpiece production. And that kiss from your book. SO good.

JANET - the kiss comes at the very end in the train station.

TINA - Jude's kiss has given me inspiration. Thank you!

Since we're sharing stories over...we'll say a cup of herbal tea since it's past 8 on a Monday...my first kiss was when I was fifteen. and it was straight out of a romance novel. I saw stars, heard music and swayed on my feet. BUT the most memorable was the first kiss my husband and I shared. We were friends only and had known each other for years, spending lots of time together. We had taken students to the beach where I got a brutal sunburn. That night he came by my apartment to see if I needed anything. I was miserable. He applied aloe vera gel to my back to ease the pain and leaned forward and kissed my neck, just under my jaw. I shot up off the couch and asked him to leave, panic stricken because he had crossed the friendship line. Every time after that, all I could think was "When is he going to give me a proper kiss?!" I had to wait an agonizing 7 days!

Debby Giusti said...

Trixi, you saved the day!!! Love that you kissed first! And that he wanted you to kiss him again.

So fun!

Coming out from under my desk.

Hugs to all!

Walt Mussell said...

My first kiss was at a middle school dance. The first shooting star kiss didn't come until high school though.

There is something I would like to ask all the women here. Have you ever used a kiss to tell a guy that he "blew his chance" or basically tell him he's a moron for not noticing you until it was too late?

Boo Smelser said...

I've never had that romantic kiss yet, but of my characters, I think my favorite- and the first one I actually wrote down- would be the one in which the heroine used it to try and use it as proof that the guy liked her because he kissed her back, but he was still stubborn about it until the second to last chapter. Then there was the one that started a paradox to send them back to reality, and the one that stopped the girl from accidentally destroying the world with her mental powers, and the one... I don't have many kisses in my books (this excepting my OCD girl who feels compelled to do kisses in threes, though the hero doesn't complain much) as a general rule, so I make them count.

Tanya Agler said...

Janet, I've never had persimmon pudding. One thing I loved about your post was how it made me think. I, of course, have favorite movie kisses - one of my favorite is the Ingrid Bergman/Cary Grant kiss in Notorious, it went on for minutes, and you think they're kissing but they aren't while they are - but I couldn't think of many kisses in books. I do love Tina's example of Jude Deveraux's characters (and I have Jude Deveraux to thank because I rediscovered romance novels in later years of college with A Knight in Shining Armor although I read many in middle school and middle school). Makes me realize I need to pay more attention to all facets of a book. Thanks for making me think (and I'll probably look at my bookshelves tomorrow, looking for memorable kisses).

Janet Dean said...

JOSEE, for those seven days to be an agony waiting for a proper kiss, I'd say you quickly moved past the friendship thing. :-)

I need to watch North and South again!

Janet

Janet Dean said...

WALT, you were young when you started romancing the girls. :-)

A shooting star kiss is a great description!

I never kissed a guy to make him sorry he blew his chance. Did that happen to you??

Janet

Janet Dean said...

BOO, I'm with you, always make those kisses count!

Janet

Janet Dean said...

TANYA, when you find great kiss examples in books, study what the writer did to make them memorable. Then share with us!

Janet

Walt Mussell said...

Janet,

Yes.

Melissa Jagears said...

Evelyn, the look back at me scene is even better than the kiss. Oh how I felt for him!

Walt, no, not that I had the opportunity, but even if I did, that's mean! So sorry someone was that mean to you. :(

Janet Dean said...

WALT, ouch. Sorry. Some memories never leave us. Some are lessons to learn. Hope some good came from that.

Janet

Walt Mussell said...

Melissa and Janet, I've been married over 21 years to a wonderful woman. It all worked out in the end. :-)

Vince said...

Hi Janet:

Very perceptive is "littered with kisses" I must say that's a mental image that will stay with me. : )

Personally, I'd pursue the alteration: "Littered with Love". Perhaps establishing an embarrassment of riches.

Vince

CatMom said...

I'm a day late but still wanted to say AWESOME post, Janet! I just re-wrote a kissing scene recently, so now I'm using your post to help me even more. :)
It was SO wonderful seeing you at ACFW and CFRR - - you are always so very kind and I'll admit - - you're one of my favorites!
Hugs, Patti Jo

Rebecca McLafferty said...

This is a topic I hadn't thought too much about. Great fun and good food for thought that I will use in the future. Many thanks! Blessings to you.

Janet Dean said...

WALT, I knew you that, though not how long. We gals kiss a lot of frogs before we meet our Prince Charming. Must be the same for you guys. :-)

Janet

Janet Dean said...

VINCE, Maybe it's just me, but I can't picture love being littered on the page like kisses. :-)

Janet

Janet Dean said...

PATTI JO, don't tell but you're one of my favorites, too.

Have fun with the kissing scene!

Janet

Janet Dean said...

REBECCA, hope you can use a tip or two in your next kissing scene.

Blessings to you as well.

Janet

Kelsey said...

Hi Janet. I'm literally sitting with The Bounty Hunter's Redemption in my hands right now! I got it when you and I met at CFRR! And yes, I finally made it out to Seekerville like you all suggested :) Loved this post. All the first kiss stories are giving my little writer brain story ideas!

Janet Dean said...

KELSEY, I'm delighted you stopped by!! I loved meeting you and your mom at CFRR!

Weren't those first kiss stories fun? Fodder for stories for sure!

Hope you like The Bounty Hunter's Redemption and will visit again.

Hugs, Janet

ohiohomeschool said...

Hello

I have never tried Persimmon pudding, but think I clearly need to. I think I would like it.

Great post,
Becky who is too shy to share about kisses.