When I first started writing, critique partners and contest judges would often have a problem with my heroines. When I sold my first book, my editor said I needed to make my heroine likable.
Geez. She’s a cold-blooded assassin (Circle of Desire) and I understood why she was that way. Why couldn’t she?
I had explained piece by piece throughout the book how she was a dumpster baby, grew up in an orphanage and foster care. Then she was molested and became a runaway, walked the streets for a small time pimp, and then trained by a psycho to be an assassin. Why couldn’t the readers feel sympathy for her?
Well, if more than one person tells you that they do not like a character, you have to listen. And a big clue is the two words I used above. I understood.
So that means, I didn’t help the reader recognize where she was coming from when she did or said bad things. You can’t guarantee that the reader will read the whole book to grasp all of the fine details that made the heroine become that person. You have to give the reader a reason for her behavior. Of course, I do get aggravated with a reviewer when they say “I skipped through the book.” If she/he had read every word, they would have understood the heroine’s thought process. But it is the author’s responsibility to make it clear in the beginning that the main character(s) is someone you want in your life or sympathetic to their faults.
With encouragement from my editor, I went into the first chapter and added a sentence. That helped. See, it doesn’t take an info dump to get a point across. If you’re wondering, I showed in the narrative that her hands shook. Showing she was human.
I believe women often have a problem writing women because we think our readers (majority women) know the motivations behind the female lead’s actions. But that’s not true. Not every woman feels the same way about a situation. So we have to explain or show her rationale.
Funny how I forgot that lesson from my debut book when I wrote my first Brother of Mayhem book, Hidden Heat. Several reviewers felt that Cassidy was being immature by the fits she dealt the MC. She’s a strong heroine who knew if she didn’t stand her ground the club would run all of over her. I obviously didn’t make that clear enough in the beginning. But thankfully some reviewers/readers understood. Here’s one review that proved it. Debbie’s Reviews in Goodreads.
This means we (authors) have to stay on our toes and give our readers the information needed, within reason and in the most entertaining way. And readers need to give strong (or weak) heroines the benefit of doubt. If you want to skip pages, just don’t read the book.
No. I didn’t leave out anything between heroine and hero. Lately, there has been a debate of rather or not the word heroine is outdated.
Someone on Twitter had said that comics…oops…graphic novels (or whichever term you prefer) refer to superheroes no matter the sex of the character, not superheroes and superheroines. Okay. Sounds cool right? There’s more I can say about female superheroes and some of their costumes, but that’s not really what I’m talking about here.
I understand why people are saying there shouldn’t be a difference, but I disagree with that when it comes to traditional romance novels. So you can say there are certain stories or books that it should always be okay. It’s to do with their gender, and the two are equal in their importance in the story.
My novels have a heroine and a hero. They have a man and woman who fall in love. It is just my preference to write those type of stories.
Okay now on to the heroine hero point I want to bring up. I see this happen mostly in paranormal romances. I’m sure it happens in other genres. Maybe romantic suspense. You know, a female detective with a male lead who isn’t in law enforcement.
Anyway, it’s where the female lead has all of the skills to the point she doesn’t need the male lead, and she has big time control issues. As in she wants to control everyone and everything around her. It’s most tiring to read. While the male lead is there merely so they can have sex, and the book can be called a romance. Sure, he may come in and help out, but he is really just beefcake. Kind of like how the woman is sometimes treated in other books. (Then she would be just cheesecake. Look it up. LOL!)
I prefer that the male lead possess a certain skill or object she needs (get your mind out of the gutter) to defeat the evil entity. That gives him a solid reason for being there.
While I’m writing this, I’m mentally going through my published books. Do I have a heroine hero? No. I have a few heroines with control issues, and the heroes certainly have their own issues, but they have skills.
Circle of Desire has a female assassin, and she loves to use men for relief (this is where you can let your dirty mind run free), but the hero is certainly there for a reason. He kidnaps her and works on bringing her over to the good side.
In Hidden Heat, the heroine is bossy and unafraid of the bad guys. They are like uncles to her. Men who she grew up around. So she knows the Brothers of Mayhem MC inside and out, and the hero (undercover cop) can use her knowledge to bring the bad guys down.
My heroines are not wimps, but the two above are the most gutsy.
I like to think most of my lead characters are on equal footing, but the heroine is all woman and the hero all man, and that makes the dynamics of the romance more interesting.
I had the pleasure meeting Joy and Melissa at the RT Book Lovers Convention in Kansas City (2013) at the Avon event I was part of with my Circle series. Nice ladies indeed.
Be sure to check out the website. Link below.
And their Facebook page.
See. I even like sites that do not review my books. One of my books did showed up there through a blog tour. It was just an announcement with an excerpt of Hidden Heat coming out at that time.
Here’s another review site you might want to check out. I’m a little partial to this one, not because she rated my book perfectly, she didn’t, but because I admire the woman who runs the blog. Sweet lady who loves romance books. Be sure to check her out.
Here are her links.
FYI – HIDDEN HEAT received a 3.5 – average -not everyone has to be totally in love with my books. Plenty of readers out there. 🙂
A couple weeks ago, I came across my list of book review sites/bloggers I like and decided to let my readers know about them. Kind of give back to them what they do for all authors out there. You may find a few books you have to buy.
The first site I’m pointing you to is one of my favorites. Yes. She loved my first two books in the Brothers of Mayhem series and even understood my heroine so well in HIDDEN HEAT she almost made me cry with happiness.
Side note: If you’re wondering about book three in the series. I just haven’t sent it out to be reviewed.
Here’s the link to her blog:
And her link to her Facebook page:
She told me once that she likes more than just YA books. So true, considering the only thing about my books being YA is the age of the heroines and heroes. HA!
Oh, I see on her blog that she said, “I review Mature YA, New Adult and Adult Books. Romance is my heart!”
If you’re interested in the review of HIDDEN HEAT, click below.
And here’s FULL HEAT’s review. Click below.
Sizzling with passion and suspense, perfect for fans of Joanna Wylde and Julie Ann Walker, the Brothers of Mayhem series revs up as a headstrong beauty faces off against an outlaw motorcycle club—and falls for the bad boy she never saw coming.
Cassidy Ryder refuses to be intimidated by anyone, even the hell-raising, hard-drinking Brothers of Mayhem. The daughter of their former president, she’s not above smashing a few heads to keep her teenage brother safe. But when Cassidy’s big mouth gets her in trouble, the only thing that saves her is some quick thinking from the Brothers’ bartender. He’s commanding and strong, and as smooth as the whiskey he pours: the ultimate temptation for a girl who swore she’d never be a biker’s plaything.
But Thorn Savalas is no ordinary biker. He’s a cop, and he’s worked too hard earning the Brothers’ trust to blow his cover over a female—even one who rocks a pair of jeans like Cassidy. The only way to protect her is by claiming she’s his old lady. Trouble is, Thorn can’t just pretend. He wants Cassidy, and every scorching touch tells him she feels the same. But acting on their hottest fantasies could leave them both exposed . . . even if nothing else has ever felt so real.
“Hidden Heat is a keep you on the edge suspense with a sizzling hot romance.” ~~ I Heart YA Books blog
My book, HIDDEN HEAT, is on sale for 99 cents. Presently, it’s on sale at Amazon and Kobo. Probably by Wednesday, it will be on sale at B&N and elsewhere. Remember that it only comes in e-format.
Here’s a small excerpt.
Her gaze moved over the hood of the car and skidded to a stop on the man leaning against the bar’s outside wall facing the car. He inhaled on a cigarette and continued to watch her. Thorn. That was what Stonewall called him.
His eyes squinted against the bright sun. No sign of embarrassment in being caught staring, he remained there, one foot flat against the brick and a thumb hooked on a belt loop, taking another long draw. Silver rings on long fingers glistened in the sun. How long had he been there?
With a flick of his finger, the cigarette stub sailed over the hood to the asphalt parking lot.
Please go away.
When I received a notice of another five star review for Hidden Heat, I was excited to click on it and see what it said. (We authors can be such needy people.) The reviewer at I Heart YA Books blew me away with her insight into my heroine.
Several reviewers had mentioned their dissatisfaction in the heroine’s easy acceptance of the hero’s return at the end of the book. Of course, everyone feels differently about many situations, but no matter how I feel about it, this was Cassidy’s story and her reactions are her own. So I had planned to write a post on why my spunky heroine became such a pushover at the end.
But when I read the review, I felt the reviewer had said it all, and I asked permission to reprint. Debbie was a sweetheart and said okay.
Here’s the review.
Hidden Heat is a fantastic read. This might be one of the few times that I’ve loved the heroine more than the hero. Cassidy Ryder is a girl who definitely has her stuff together. I loved that Cassidy wasn’t a whiney girl—that she’s a mature-thinking woman even though she’s only twenty-one. And this came from Cassidy’s hard life of being raised around a Motorcycle Club. Daughter of an ex MC President and her mother who was murdered when she was a young girl, has made Cassidy tough. She had to grow up fast, especially when she had a young brother to take care of. With that thought in mind about Cassidy, that’s why I loved Cassidy and Thorn’s ending to their story. It’s just the way I would imagine Cassidy to be when Thorn returns.
Cassidy handled her relationship with Thorn—who’s an undercover cop—with the right frame of mind. Cassidy knew that when she was falling in love with Thorn, there was no guarantee that she and Thorn would have a future together. Cassidy also knew Thorn would go on to the next undercover job, so she accepted what she was getting into when she fell in love with Thorn. I know I’m talking about the ending first in my review, but I just thought it was an awesome, happily ever after ending with Cassidy and Thorn, because of Cassidy’s maturity in the way she handled things. Great communication between the Cassidy and Thorn.
Thorn Savalas is a cop working undercover to bring down the top leaders in the Brothers of Mayhem MC. But just when he’s close to getting the information he needs to finish the job, Cassidy Ryder walks into the Brother of Mayhem’s bar with a baseball bat looking for her younger brother, Storm, who’s been hanging with the MC. And the only way for Thorn to protect the headstrong, sassy mouthed Cassidy from getting killed is to claim her as his old lady. Cassidy and Thorn’s hot, steamy hook-up will become their most dangerous adventure to their forever love story.
Hidden Heat is a keep you on the edge suspense with a sizzling hot romance. It also has a tiny little twist at the end that will melt your heart. I recommend Cassidy and Thorn’s story as a must read.
5 Hearts of Love for Cassidy & Thorn
Well said, Debbie. Thank you. Hugs.
Be sure to check out her reviews. Click here.
I’m over at Harlequin Junkie’s website today. Be sure to come over and comment and sign up for the giveaway. You might win a copy of HIDDEN HEAT (ebook)! They interviewed me too. You might find it of interest and a little entertaining.
(Plus I made a boo-boo on the interview. Geez! I placed an “ing” on a word that didn’t belong. Yes. It bothers the crap out of me. *sigh* Oh, well. Play WALDO and see if you can find it there.)
If you liked the movie Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, you might be amused by how I described HIDDEN HEAT. LOL! I’m so retro 80’s lately. I blame my buddy, Meda White, for that. Check out her latest book and you’ll know why. HA!
This is what readers on Goodreads are saying about HIDDEN HEAT coming out February 16.
“This is a great ride that has a lot of surprises . . . I am looking forward to see what’s next from this author because I have become a fan.”
“I promise you will love it!!”
“I completely enjoyed this story, it’s many plot twists & turns had me riveted. I loved Thorn’s crazy relatives!”
“Overall Hidden Heat is a fantastic introduction to the Brothers Of Mayhem with more characters to be explored such as Wolf, Angel and of course Storm…his story is not yet over.”
“Fans of the genre will love this book. I have added the author to my must read authors’ list.”
“Wow! I really liked it. This author will definitely be on my watch list.”
“There is a LOT of drama and angst and twists, so there will be no further story line hints given… READ IT…. and start begging Carla for the sequel!”
“A thrilling story, full of surprises, intrigue, steamy passion and some really nasty sounding dudes (makes a change from everyone looking hot and sexy). I loved it.”
“For me it was fast paced and an exciting read. Will definitely be looking for more of the Brothers of Mayhem in the future.”
“I really liked Thorn. A LOT.”
“Cassidy is a tough chic that looks out for her brother.”
“The bat swinging bundle of hotness who busted into the Skull and Bones is none other than the daughter of the founding Skull…
“Swafford wrote a compelling story of how far will the love for a brother take you.”
“I liked the fact that Cass was a kick ass take no prisoner chick, and Thorn (Holy hell) he sounds totally HOT!”
“I couldn’t put this book down.”
“This is my first book by this author and I loved it.”
“I cannot wait to read the next book in this series.”
“My Favorite Moment: I really loved when Cassidy found out the real story about who Thorn is.”
“Super easy read, great flow, great character development and I really enjoyed it.”
“Cassidy was a strong female lead and even though she knew something would get her into trouble, she did it anyway because she knew without a doubt it was the right thing to do.”
“The plot is fairly well developed with about as much mistrust as you might expect within the motorcycle club . . .”
“Every few pages, just when you think you have a handle on the plot line another twist comes along.”
“I was instantly pulled into this story. It was an easy read. It had a great flow to it. I am looking forward to the next in the series. ”
“I could not put this book down. I loved Cassidy and her determination to protect her brother from the harsh life within the MC.”
“Such an amazing and exciting story!! Started reading and could not stop until I was completely finished! 100% recommend!!”
“I hated to say goodbye to Cassidy and Thorn. 5 stars!!”
“Carla S[w]afford has a new fan due to her depth of characters and twisting plot lines”
“Two very different people, with lots of plot twist to make you keep reading to find out more.”
“Carla is great at weaving suspense into her romances so this was hit for me.”
Hey, I believe in celebrating the positive! Thank you, everyone! I can’t wait until you read Storm’s book (FULL HEAT). It’s going to blow your socks off! An angst filled hero and a laid-back heroine. What a switch, heh?
Forget shining armor. Motorcycle shop owner Mary Jane Parker could use a knight in black leather right about now. A local gang has been extorting her for protection money, and standing her ground would be a lot easier with the Brothers of Mayhem at her back. She just needs to convince the club’s new president to take the job. The powerful, brooding biker claims he’s not interested-but if his version of tough love is supposed to be punishment, Mary Jane would gladly misbehave for the rest of her life.
Storm Ryder has no interest in rescuing anyone but himself. He spent three agonizing years in prison, and there’s no way in hell he’s going back, not over a spoiled rich girl who’s flirting with trouble. So why does he find himself craving Mary Jane’s lips-and holding her close when he should be pushing her away? Deep down in his tortured soul, Storm knows she’ll be there for him. And when Mary Jane needs him most, he’ll find the courage to give her everything he’s got.
He kinda makes you think of this photo.
Author Meda White and myself are having an Angel and Demon Party with lots of giveaways. Come by and say you’ll be there on February 16, 2016. That’s the day HIDDEN HEAT will be released. YAY!
We will be giving away gift cards, books, and swag. A few of these for example.
The red oval is a jar opener/coaster. I’m sure you can guess what the other two items are. HA!
Staring Feb. 8 on Goodreads is Romance Week. Be sure to stop by my profile and ask me questions. By the way, here’s my choice for most romantic quote.
I will be signing at several places this year.
April 7, 2016: The Novel Experience, Atlanta GA
June 11, 2016: Heart of Dixie Romance Readers Luncheon, Huntsville, AL
October 1, 2016: Moonlight and Magnolias Conference, Peachtree Corners, GA
November 5, 2016: Southern Magic Romance Readers Luncheon, Birmingham, AL
If you’ve been following me on Facebook, you know that I love hockey. If you’re in Nashville on February 20, I’ll be at the Predators’ game against LA Kings. Let me know if you’ll be there, and I’ll meet up with you and give you some swag. Hope to see you there.
Whew! That’s it for now. Time for me to get back to working on NAKED HEAT (after the game tonight). That’s Wolf’s story. He’s kidnapped the love of his life, and he’s in deep do-do. LOL!
When I began writing the Brothers of Mayhem series, I had already read a couple MC (romance/fiction) books and watched all of the Sons of Anarchy. Click here to read my post about researching the series.
So I thought readers of MC books would be interested to know that the first book (HIDDEN HEAT) of the Brothers of Mayhem is not the typical MC story. The majority of the bikers in that story are not good guys. But you will see a shift in book two (FULL HEAT – Storm’s story). It has a mixture of good and bad. New blood.
By book three (NAKED HEAT – Wolf’s story) you’ll see more of the brotherhood that you come to expect in a MC romance. And in the fourth book (RAW HEAT – Cutter’s story), the club heals and the brotherhood tightens.
It’s like this, throughout the series, each book can be read separately as stand-alones, but like the romance in each story, the club has a path to take with all of the ups and downs. The growth of the club as an unit will ensure its survival. In the end, it will have the right guy in place and everyone will be happy. *sniff* I do love for my people to have a happy ending.
And you could say each story has something for everyone, from the unique MC story to the hard core.