Reader Q on abuse in books

So I had recently somebody ask me why I had abuse in my books, specifically Kit’s books…was I having fun torturing her?

This comes up a lot, so I’m just going to blog about it and when I get asked, I’ll direct people here.

Do I torture my characters or write about abuse because it’s fun?

No.

I’m not a plotter.  I don’t set out with a plan in mind lets see how much hell I can put these characters through.

Now when I’m writing romance, I do work at finding realistic ways to keep them apart, because if you’re not doing that, you don’t have a romance.  You just have a HEA.  There has to be a conflict, internal and external, or there’s just no story and what’s the point.

But yes, I do have a habit of writing about people who have gone or are going through abuse.  And no, I don’t do it because I think it’s okay.

Abuse appalls me.

Sexual abuse appalls me.

It pisses me off.  I regularly donate to RAINN and I’ve mentioned the organization in at least one, if not more, of my books.

Bullying appalls me.  I’ve the one who will approach kids and teenagers when I see them picking on somebody else and interfere.  Have I gotten yelled about this?  Yes. Do I care? No.

Domestic abuse appalls me.  There’s been more than one time when my husband was almost positive either he, me, both of us would end in either in jail, or the hospital because I’d see something happening that I didn’t like and I’d shoot my mouth off and the guy involved wouldn’t like it.  When I go out of town on a trip, he tells me to stay safe and behave, and more often than not, I suspect it’s because he knows how I am with my mouth.

I had to leave my day job in nursing, in the end, because of burn out and part of that involved a boy who’d been abused by his father. It was breaking me inside.

I grew up seeing more than a few people I knew in life be abused and I know people even now in those situations.

Trust me…abuse isn’t okay in my book.  And if it’s okay in anybody’s book, they had a deep problem that is probably unfixable.

But abuse is out there.  Much of society turns a blind eye.  I don’t.

One reasons I’ve written the FBI Psychic books, particularly THE MISSING was because like most moms, I have fears of bad things happening to my kids. No, nothing ever has.  But I put my fears down on paper..I make them more manageable and I twist the bad things I see in society into a way that makes to where the bad guy is the one who goes down.  We don’t see in that in real life often. THE DEPARTED had a scene that was inspired by a real life bullying of a high school girl by some boys during her senior prom. I changed the set-up, I changed the outcome, I changed the methods of the madness, but I left the way one of the parents responded as it played out because the parent of one boy tried to act like …hey, it was no accident…her death was a tragic accident.  My character-well, one of them, didn’t die, but the abhorrence of what they tried to do is still there.

My romantic suspense that recently came out was set in Madison Indiana and yes, it is completely fictional, although some things I’d seen in the media – other years – did play a part in some of the things I wrote about, particularly about how people will turn a blind eye to some of the most disgusting evil in society.  Somebody made a comment along the lines of I can’t see this happening anywhere.  I hoped it never does, but the fact is, child abuse happens.  It happens daily.  It’s happening in your town.  Possibly on your street, or by people you know.  Pretending otherwise doesn’t change it.

I’ve always written about some of the harsh facts of life in my romantic suspense stories and yes, in the urban fantasy stories.  Evil happens and sometimes, there is no justice for it.  When I write about it, I can find justice…I can make it happen.  I always thought this was the main reason I did it…to make sense of things that have no sense in my head.

But I’ve realized it goes deeper than that and it took attending ConFusion and speaking on one of the panels to understand just what it was.  One of the panelist, I believe it was Christian Klaver, made a comment.

Horror is the most moral of genres

That sounds like a strange statement, doesn’t it?

Horror is about hacking people up, the woman running naked into the field…

Or is it?

See what WhatCulture says about it?

After watching Carrie, I bet you will never pick on the underdog or weakling in your life again for fear that you will go up in a blazing inferno or be killed by flying kitchen implements.

and

The Living Dead at the Manchester Morgue tells us to avoid messing around with nature lest we unleash a wave of flesh hungry undead zombies. 

Sure…they are graphic moral messages, but those messages still exist.

Now, I don’t write horror, although yes, some things are rather horrific. I don’t think I try intentionally to write a moral message.

I don’t turn my back on the ugly things that exist in society, but what I do try to do is this…the people in the books I write are often broken.  And by the time I’m done with them, they are stronger–they come into my head as broken and they have a story.

I’m not going to fight the stories that God gives me. Humans are capable of remarkable things.  Some of the people that I’ve known who have lived through abuse are now free of it…and they chose to escape it.  It wasn’t easy, but they left it behind.  They fought free of it…some ran from it. But they escaped it.

Others, sadly, didn’t get away.  Or haven’t. They are still trapped in that ugly cycle. People turn a blind eye or think, Why don’t they just leave…if it was just that easy, they would.

But many of the stories that come to me are about broken people and during the course of the book, my job is to take that person (or persons) and make them stronger, to help them find the bits and pieces and put them back together.  And find a happy ever after, hopefully, justice or closure for whatever was done.

This is what I have a voice for.

I’ve lost track of how many emails I’ve gotten from survivors of abuse, be it domestic, sexual or emotional–there’s one in particular that I can remember reading her email even now and I cried as I read it.  It’s been years since I received that email and I still remember her name–that’s not just unusual, it’s unheard of for me.  She wrote of how she’d read FRAGILE…how she’d cried…and then she thanked me, because she felt like it had helped her take a step toward healing after her own abuse.  She felt that book had given her a voice.

Has Kit from the Colbana books been through hell?  Yes.  Am I trying to break her? No.  What people didn’t see is that she was already broken, even in book one.  She used her sword as a crutch, put all her value in it.  Others saw that she had more worth than that.  Why did things have to happen the way they did? Well, if Kit was around to ask, you’d have to ask her, because I didn’t plan that.  I can tell you that Kit probalby won’t have an answer, though.  Bad shit happens, period.  That’s the truth in fiction as well as in reality.  Kit was never going to be a character where life was smooth-sailing for her.

But I don’t plan these stories…they play out for me and I write them down.  They come into my head,  almost like a silent movie reel and I’m just the narrator.  I couldn’t have changed that ending if I tried–the only thing I could have done was written it…and not published it.

Nobody has to like how the book turned out and nobody has to like the book either.  But I didn’t write the book just to abuse my character.

I don’t carry these themes in all of my books.  My contemporaries are lighter, they’re fun and easy and sexy.  But the RS books and the UF books take a hard, sometimes brutal look at things.

I don’t write about abuse in my books because I think it’s okay.

I write about survivors.

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#dabwaha Ladies and gentlemen… your mission, should you choose to accept it

Author-GameOn-Nominee2013

Your Mission:

Help me win.

The Obstacle:

MELJEAN BROOK… she’s a tough opponent.  The good news… she’s in her writing cave and we can do a sneak attack.

 

(1) Riveted v. (16) Blade Song

The Prize:

More Damon POVs…maybe even an excerpt from BROKEN BLADE.

and just to give you an incentive…an unplanned POV.

This is from in Kit’s office…right before things went to hell. Don’t worry… this isn’t too spoiler-rific.

 

She flipped the lock and I felt that low level burn I’d come to associate with magic.  The wards were up. Good enough.

She turned to face me and I did the one thing I had to do…I gave into the urge and I tore that fucking shirt off her. She smelled of another man and I knew it was from work–I knew her job, knew the kind of shit she had to do, but the smell of another man on her skin had the animal inside me snarling.

And it made me ache.  I wanted to be the one who was there for her, helping her do whatever she needed done and I couldn’t be.

But I could do this.  Could touch her now, could have her with me.  Brushing the shreds of the shirt off her, I reached for her and pulled her against me.  She was pale and soft and she sighed under my hands.

“Baby girl,” I whispered, mindless and desperate.  She shivered against me as I pressed my mouth to the mark on her neck.

She felt small but so incredibly strong, soft but steel ran through her core and she drove me out of my mind.  I lifted her up and braced her against the door at her back. She arched against me and I could feel the heat of her, all wet and sweet and that alone had me ready to come.  She moved again and my dick pulsed.  “Be still,” I muttered against her mouth. Be still or I’m going to embarrass myself…  The soft, subtle scent of her flooded my head, but there was also something else.  The cloying, dark thread of a male.  Magic.  Fowled. Wrong.  It clung to her, pissed me off.   Tearing the sturdy, solid material of her pants away helped.  Getting her naked help even more.  Feeling her wrapped around my dick would be the best thing yet.

“I don’t ever want you wearing those clothes again.”  Not that it was an issue.  The clothes were trashed.

I watched her eyes, that sharp, cunning green, soft now with want…

Damon (yeah, yeah, I know it looks like Dwayne Johnson)

Damon (yeah, yeah, I know it looks like Dwayne Johnson)

Want more?  I’ll write more!  If you help me advance to the next round of the #dabwaha!  Go!  Vote!  Voting here… open 3.21.2013 at 12:00 pm – 11:59 pm CST.

Image from Dwayne Johnson’s Instagram account. 

 

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My bribe… or the first part #dabwaha

If you’ve read NIGHT BLADE already, you can read this now. If you haven’t, read it, then read the bribe.  Trust me, you don’t wanna read it unless you’ve read the book cuz you’ll be confused.  Maybe mad at me.  It makes sense if you’ve read the book.

Really.

So…the bribe…I’ve had the Damon POV for a while, and if I get into the DABWAHA with BLADE SONG, I’ll expand it.  If I do well, I might even write more.

J.C. site

Look for the link that reads DAMON.

Go read it.  Then… if you want it longer… :)  Vote for BLADE SONG please… it’s here.  And you only have a day left.  It’s for the PNR/SF category and the ISBN is 9781617507779.  The author name is J.C. Daniels pen name.  :)

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Character worksheets


I’m working on Veil # 3.   A few days ago, on twitter, I mentioned I’d forgotten what color eyes Morne (the hero of book 3) had.  Then I mentioned something about checking my character worksheet.

Which immediately led to…character worksheets?  A dozen variations of…what’s that, where did you find one, etc, etc, etc

I use a couple of different things and you can make up whatever will suit you.

If you need want something really comprehensive that will hit character details, background and all the way through cover art ideas, plotting, etc, try Lynn Viehl’s The Novel Notebook.

If you’ve never checked out her writing tools, you should…she offers some helpful stuff-even the disorganized mess that I am finds helpful stuff there.  *she’s scary organized*

If you don’t want anything that comprehensive, just make up your own, what you need to hit and then save the file, print it out and fill it in as you need it.

Something like:

Book:

Series:

Character:

Sex:

Race:

Eye color:

Hair color/style/length:

Job:

Special skills/abilities:

Marriages?

Children?

Siblings:

Notes regarding character/story:

If I did one like this for Morne, it would be…WARNING, IF YOU HAVEN’T READ BOOK 1 & 2, THROUGH THE VEIL and VEIL OF SHADOWS, SOME SPOILERS AHEAD

Book: Veil #3

Series: Veil

Character: Morne Ramire

Sex: Male

Race: Anqarian Warlord *informal-never fully achieved rank*

Eye color: midnight blue

Hair color/style/length: shoulder length, platinum blond

Job: lieutenant in rebel army, healer

Special skills/abilities: healer, skilled soldier, stronger & faster than the humans of Ishtan

Marriages? N/A

Children? N/A

Siblings: one brother, lost in the end of book 1

Notes regarding character/story:

not sharing these because that’s TELLING!  ;)

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Harder on Heroines

Be warned…today’s post might irritate some people.  Sorry, not my intention-just need to get this off my chest.

Something that has always amused me in Romanceland about reviews, discussions on heroines & heroes, etc…some people are always harder on the heroine. Please note… I said some.  And this isn’t about getting negative reviews.  It happens even in good reviews.  And it’s not always in reviews, sometimes it’s just discussions.

FYI…  I’m going to do very MINOR spoilers-although probably not really, since it’s all mentioned in the blurb.

A case in point… some people have mentioned Sarel from my Hunters books…and this is to me, so I feel it’s fair to use this as an example.  She’s the heroine in book 2, HUNTERS ELI & SAREL.  They loved Eli.  He was awesome.  He was wonderful.  His heroine?  They hated her.  She’s a bitch.  She’s spoiled.  She didn’t deserve him.  Why do they feel this way?  Well… the blurb reads:

After three long centuries of aching loneliness, Elijah Crawford, Hunter of the Council, has finally found a woman. Maybe she can replace the obsession he has for Torrance Reilly, the wife and lover of his best friend.

Sarel is a lean, red-haired, wild-eyed witch with a soul to match his. She has a thirst for justice, and a yearning for a love to fill the void inside her. Sarel has been searching for Elijah. She is here now, prowling his grounds, waiting to get into his house.

Sarel has come to kill him.

She’s there to kill him.  Why does she want to kill him?  When she was just out of her teens, I think 19 or 20, she returns home after being gone quite a while and finds her sister just gone.  The house is a bloody-and I mean literally-wreck.  She thinks her sister is dead.  And she’s a witch, self-trained.  She doesn’t know entirely about vamps,weres, etc.  But she knows Eli had been there, she knows her sister is gone-assumes she’s dead.  In her mind, she sees Eli as her sister’s killer and she wants vengeance. Now once she realizes how wrong she’d been? She’s willing to make amends, even willing to die for it, even though she’s not happy over it.

Had this been a guy?  Sorry, I can’t help but think everybody would have been just peachy keen with the scenario, because some people are just harder on the heroines. Now…that heroine could go through hell and back and try to be strong as Job, overcome more hell than I’d ever want to consider…but if that heroine does anything so human as make a mistake? She gets slaughtered.

The hero? Oh, he’s fine. There are definitely some who will flay a book over a hero being an ass, and that’s perfectly understandable. And don’t get me wrong-if a person doesn’t like the heroine, that’s fine.

It just always amuses me that the hero can screw up, make mistakes and still come out smelling like roses. But the heroines? If they don’t do everything perfect? They judged so much harsher. They are bitches, they are petty, they are shallow, they are immature…ironically, that’s kind of the way some women are about other women. Some judge so much more harshly. We can’t screw up, we can’t make mistakes–we aren’t allowed to be human.

That’s kind of sad, when you think about it. Not sure why it amuses me so much in romanceland, but it does.  Maybe it’s because I still so often see the arguments where we get pissed off when we don’t get treated equal, or when we get pissed that people mock or deride the genre or give it a fair chance.   I just see some serious irony going on, I think.  And irony very often amuses me.

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The last and final (sob) Stardoc…

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Sniffle.

Okay… I had a pointed reminder that some people were wanting to hear from me on the last and finalllllll *sob…sniffle… noooooo* Stardoc book.

Dream Called Time.

What can I say about this book?  Other than wailing over the fact that it ended…well, I guess I can say that I think SL Viehl ended it beautifully. Now, bear in mind, she took some serious fricking risks here. But oh…how she ended the series?  It left me with a smile.  It left me happy.  It left me thinking that this was a fitting end to this series… these characters that I loved so much, Duncan, Marel & Cherijo, who had been through so much would have exactly what they needed to be happy…each other.

Am I happy with it?

Oh. Hell. Yes.

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Tortured heroines…

I had a fantastic review over at Kate G’s blog the other day…a guest reviewer, Stacy, had reviewed Hunter’s Need and loved it.   Her review, like this part:

So is up to Duke to teach this tortured heroine that it’s okay to love. Him. “If you can look at my scars without flinching, I can do the same to you” he says to her the morning after an extended lovemaking session. “If you can touch mine and still want me, I can touch yours . . . and still want you.”

This slow, difficult path to love dovetails with the investigation Duke has been sent to help her with. And this is why I love this book, and Shiloh Walker’s writing so much. The mix of the paranormal and the suspense, of romance and eroticism; all of these fuel the other in a beautiful dance that doesn’t let up until the end.

Just thrilled the hell out of me.

Ana’s character wasn’t typical.  I knew that going into the book.  I knew even before I wrote the book…geez, I think I knew that writing Hunting the Hunter, when Duke and Ana first appeared-that was when Duke more or less staked his claim-Ana was his doing, not mine-a lot of the time, I’m more like a narrator for the stories and he knew who he wanted.  Besides, Ana, while her character isn’t typical, she is real.

She’s one of those people that some of us who have screwed up in life can probably relate to-now not many of us, hopefully none of us, have ever turned over a man to be tortured, and yes, she did.  But she also knew he wouldn’t die-she did it to catch the attention of the one group of people she knew would save the life of her young brother.  She was barely more than a kid herself at the time, and the actions she made, she did with her eyes wide open, fully willing to accept the consequences-if they would just save her brother.  Considering those consequences could have easily been death?  She’d spent years under the control of a psychotic, one who had kidnapped her and her brother just to exploit their gifts, and despite that, she hadn’t broken.  She’d done things that left her shamed, but she never broke.

Fast-forward a few years later-her and her brother are with the Hunters, both are getting trained.  Ana has her gift under control so nobody can use her like that again.  But underneath, she knows it’s not enough.  She screwed up, and she screwed up royally and she’s still paying-worse, her brother is paying the price, too.  She’s fine with suffering the disgust she catches from those around her, but she can’t let her brother suffer. She can leave.  Her brother, though, he can’t.  He’s still too young and his gift is too powerful-they are still working with him.  So she does the one thing she never wanted to do.  She walks away from him.

All the bad choices she’d made in her life were centered around trying to care for him.  Does that excuse them?  Nah.  But as I got to know her?  I could certainly understand.

Was she the strong, ultra-pure heroine I know some readers wanted to Duke? Nope.  I knew that going in-I’d heard from a number of people before I’d even written the book that they really hoped I didn’t put them together.  But I didn’t have much choice.  Not if Duke was going to get a book.  She was who he wanted, and if I was going to give him the best book I could, I had to give him who he wanted, who he needed.  So I could either not write the book…or I could write the book with the knowledge that Ana would be a heroine who wouldn’t work for everybody.

I chose to write to write the book.  She’d made mistakes, but we all make them.  She wasn’t as strong as some other heroines in books, but she was trying to find her strengths.  She wasn’t perfect, but I don’t really want to write perfect people.  Perfect people are people I couldn’t relate to…at all.

Partly inspired by…

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Did you read The Missing?

The Missing

The Missing

It’s the paranormal romance I did a year or so ago about a psychic.

If you did…got a question.  There was a character–Taylor Jones–he worked as Taige’s kind-of boss.

Remember him?  Just out of sheer curiosity, what do you think of him as a character in his own book?  I’ve had a couple of people ask and my original thoughts were along the lines of, ‘Are you nuts?  He’s an asshole.’  (and he is-they agreed).  But they wanna know why, what made him that way…etc, etc.

What about you? What are your thoughts, and you are at all curious about his story?  Uh…assuming he even has one…

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Perfect people

I got a headsup from Michelle over the Barnes & Noble boards that she’d blogged about Devon from FRAGILE.

She was discussing the subject of addicts and addictions in romance.  For those that don’t know, the heroine in FRAGILE is a recovering addict-she was abused as a child and ended up hooked on drugs at 13.  Devon certainly had baggage to deal with.  She lives with the addiction, she lives with the memories of her childhood.

Looking back, I see it’s a pretty weighty topic.

But the post at BN.com got me to thinking-I like writing scarred people.

I don’t want perfect characters.  Reading them tends to bore the hell out of me.  That’s not going to appeal to everybody, though.   Just like I don’t want to read westerns, self-help books or anything even remotely political, some readers aren’t going to want to read about scarred and/or broken people.

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