Friday Spotlight: Lyncee Shillard

What is….believable?

Creating a believable world for your romance is key, but often the most difficult. While I’ve never stopped reading a book because the hero has a beard and I’m not a fan of facial hair, I have when the world he is in is too far out there. This isn’t saying I don’t read paranormals; actually I do and I have written two that will be released this year. What I am saying is, if you’re going to have a werewolf, then have a world that supports him. Just like with my female pirate, I couldn’t force her into a historical setting without it being a disaster so I created a world she would fit in.

So what makes a world believable? Details. As with every element of writing, details are key. If a writer has a werewolf living in Chicago then the author needs to set it up so I can believe it. I’m not necessarily saying tell me about the stoplight on the corner of Jackson and Carver. How does he roam the street in his wolf form? The streets of Chicago are never deserted so don’t go there. I’m willing to give an author a wide path, I mean, I’m accepting the fact there’s a werewolf but it has to have solid elements to the world. And a deserted street in Chicago isn’t it.

World building isn’t just for paranormal or sci-fi romance authors. Every romance needs to happen somewhere and by including a believable world, the reader becomes more invested. While Treasure Hunt takes place in an entirely ‘made-up’ world, The Gamble takes place on a horse ranch. I included details of the ranch, but also of landscape so the reader knew they were in California.

What have been some your favorite settings? How did the author use it to enhance the romance?

Thursday Spotlight: Lyncee Shillard

What is…sexy?

Johnny Deep vs Matthew McConaughey

Jennifer Garner vs Reese Witherspoon

When I critique and come across the word handsome as a beginning description I comment, “Your hero looks like Danny Devito?” And in most cases he doesn’t. Handsome, sexy, beautiful, and cute are all generic terms that bring different images to our mind – and no, Danny Devito isn’t my definition of handsome. Now, after the character has been described it’s fine to use one of these adjectives but before that the reader craves an image.

One comment I receive over and over when questioning the ‘handsome’ hero – what if my reader doesn’t think the character I describe is sexy? I’m not sure if this is a valid thought. Personally, I’ve never read a description of a hero or heroine and thought, gee he/she is ugly there is no way I can read this book!

But, I have become frustrated when an author has refused to give me a good idea of what a character looks like. Not just the hero or heroine, but important secondary characters. Now unless the mailman is going to play a major part in some scene or throughout the book, I don’t need a full description of him, otherwise tell me.

The same with a setting– don’t just tell me the heroine had spent the afternoon making the bedroom an ideal oasis for their first love making. Show me it through descriptions, let me feel the romance, smell the fragrances, and tingle with the same eagerness as the heroine. As I said earlier this week, an author can create a romantic setting just about anywhere so….do it!

Another aspect of sexy that I believe many authors overlook are gestures. The simple kind. Not boxes of candy, or vases of flowers, but doing the dishes or waiting at the bus stop in the rain with an umbrella to walk her home. I mean what woman wouldn’t think a guy standing in a downpour waiting to walk her home wasn’t sexy?

As with all things I’ve talked about this week, sexy is as the author makes it. But what are some of the things that contributed to the sexiest scenes you’ve read? A setting? The hero or heroine? A gesture?

Wednesday Spotlight: Lyncee Shillard

What is….a heroine?

A lady in distress? A top-level spy? A woman running from a dark secret? Or the girl next door?

Where a hero needs to fit the plot, a heroine will determine the romance book’s storyline. The standard rule of thumb is if multiple point-of-views are use, sixty percent is from the heroine’s. So it stands to reason the person doing the most talking will have the most influence on the story.

Often an author will have a heroine in mind and then create a story for her. In Treasure Hunt, I wanted to write about a female pirate. I thought about writing a historical, but decided the restrictions of the time period wouldn’t work for my heroine so I created an entire world for her.

The heroine will also determine what type of hero she needs (a good author listens to her heroine and doesn’t force a hero on her if that isn’t who she’s going to love). The heroine will also determine what type of romance setting will work. If she has major allergies, a love scene in a meadow probably isn’t going to work. Nonstop sneezing isn’t sexy.

So every book needs a real kick-ass heroine, right? Well…sort of. I disagree with the idea every heroine needs to be wonder woman on steroids. I do think, however, she needs to well-defined. By that, I mean she needs to be fully developed, her only weakness can’t be her desire for the hero.

Some readers will have certain types of heroine, the spy, the homemaker, or business executive – they prefer, but as with the hero, don’t force the story. The best plots are those that allow the characters to develop, grow, and fall in love.

What makes a great heroine for you and why?

Tuesday Spotlight: Lyncee Shillard

What is….a hero?

This is, hands down, one of the most discussed topics in the romance – writing world. Should he be dark? Or tormented? Or if he’s sensitive will he be viewed as a wimp? What if I make him a strong brooding type, will he be viewed as heartless?

As a writer we’re faced with all these questions and so many more. Now a lot will be determined on plot and the effect the author is going for. Some will demand a stronger, less emotional type where some heroines will need a sensitive guy. But nothing can kill a romance book faster than a misplaced hero. Regardless of the great setting and incredibly romantic props, an unsuited hero will make the scene fall flat.

With the latest ‘fad’ offering shelf after shelf of the dark hero, a writer can often feel pressured into creating a dark hero of her own. A great romance includes a hero who belongs to the plot. He enhances it and makes it real.

Think about the romances that have warmed your toes on a cold winter night. The hero and the plot fit perfectly. Some of mine have included the most surprising hero. Not just the tough guy who now finds himself a dad but an average guy, living an average life, who all of a sudden is forced to climb the hero ladder. He’s the one who can make my heart skip a beat….but what makes you swoon? It is probably something else all together. And there is the hurdle facing the romance writer. Creating a hero that will appeal to many readers.

Who have been some of your favorite romance heroes and why?

Monday Spotlight: Lyncee Shillard

What is……romantic?

Flowers?

Or candy?

Or candlelight?

Or a bubble bath?

Some would say all of the above while others would have their own ideas. In writing romance, there are several unique definitions that a writer must deal with. So – what is….romantic?

Often, the same scene can have a double meaning. For example….

The shrill buzz of the doorbell shattered the silence. Darla glanced at her watch as she sat her book down. Twenty after nine. Who could it be? She stood and walked to the front room. The low rumble of distant thunder echoed in the night air as she opened the door. Michael stood in the pale yellow porch light.

“I thought you were still stuck in Colorado.” Darla’s pulse raced as she tripped over the words. “They said all flights were still ground.”

He held out his hand, offering a rectangular box with a green silk bow decorating the top. “It’s your birthday. I couldn’t miss it. So I rented a car and drove. Here, your favorite chocolates.”

“Oh, Michael,” she stepped outside and into his embrace.

OR – same scene and props but totally different outcome –

The shrill buzz of the doorbell shattered the silence. Darla glanced at her watch as she sat her book down. Twenty after nine. Who could it be? She stood and walked to the front room. The low rumble of distant thunder echoed in the night air as she opened the door. Michael stood in the pale yellow porch light.

Darla’s heart skipped a beat, panic surging through her. “What are you doing here?”

He held out his hand, offering a rectangular box with a green silk bow decorating the top. “It’s your birthday. I couldn’t miss it. Here, your favorite chocolates.”

“No, Michael,” she stepped inside and tried to shut the door, but his fingers stopped it.

While these examples are very basic, they show how the same thing – a box of candy – can mean two entirely different things.

As a romance writer, I realize it’s more than a simple prop that makes romance. It’s the characters and the setting. I’ve read great romantic scenes set in places I’d never have thought of as a romantic place yet through skilled writing they were.

What are some of the more ‘off-beat’ romantic settings you’ve read?