The Mystery of Attraction

“He drew me like gravity.”

~M. Leighton

Attraction doesn’t always make sense.  Why that slightly dorky guy standing in line to buy coffee will appeal instead of the hunk at the table is a mystery.  Have you ever gone shopping in a crowded mall and met the gaze of a complete stranger and felt a tug, an unexpected awareness that makes you take a second, longer look?  C’mon, admit it…you know you have.

Being a writer gives you the opportunity to explore the attraction between your characters and make sense out of the inexplicable – at least in your book.  From the first time they meet until the HEA we delve into their emotions, dance around their confusion and resistance to each other and help them understand why that sizzle of awareness exists.  We don’t leave it as a passing glance and mild curiosity.  Where would be the fun in that?

Most of us like to put complete opposites together.  The resulting fireworks can be fun. We take characters whose lives have been so completely different there is little common ground and root for them to find their way.

In Rayven’s Keep I took a naïve young woman and threw her in a situation so far outside her experience she didn’t know how to cope.  Add in a cynical, driven man, an instant attraction and throw them alone together onboard a ship traveling to the end of their star system.  Ahh, now it gets interesting.

They can’t hide from each other, can’t walk away or slam a door for privacy.  Petty grievances can fester, feelings can be hurt and underneath it all is that simmer of attraction making it impossible to ignore the ache of unfulfilled desire.

Below is an excerpt from my book.  Tru is struggling with the knowledge she is attracted to Nick.  I hope you enjoy 🙂

Excerpt from Rayven’t Keep:

Tru edged away from the callscreen. She hated being caught between two powerful, determined men. Even Callen and Seth watched intently, their stances showing they were alert to every nuance. It made the hair at the nape of her neck stand on end.

“I’m also sure you know my reputation and it means more to you than any official report, which can be easily manipulated. You also know I’m going to put a serious dent in your funds to protect Tru. I don’t work for free. Let me do my job, Creighton. I’m very good at it.”

Tru uttered a small, shocked protest before clamping her mouth shut. She glanced at Nick, but his attention was focused on her grandfather.

“It seems like we understand each other.” The smile dropped from his face to be replaced with something more genuine. “I assume you have a plan for protecting my granddaughter and flushing out the bastards at Lodestone?”

Tru didn’t stick around to hear the details, slipping unnoticed out of the room while all attention was on Nick. She resented being the topic of conversation without any consideration being given to her opinion. To think Nick thought of her as just another job to be done with a hefty payout at completion stung. The fact she’d intended to hire him herself didn’t matter and was beside the point.

What she was feeling wasn’t logical, but her emotions were in turmoil and logic was a distant memory. Confused and off balance, she sought a peaceful place to think and, if she were being honest with herself, to sulk. Muttering unladylike imprecations under her breath about Nick, and men in general, she went outside to get some fresh air.

Sundown set the sky on fire with streaks of deep purple and scarlet. The humidity had lessened along with the oppressive heat of earlier in the day. Night creatures stirred, their rustling in the shrubbery drawing her attention and making her nervous. She wasn’t familiar with the wildlife on Alludra and opted to remain close to the house. She wandered along the path she’d walked up earlier in the day surprised to realize it hadn’t been that long ago. So much had changed in such a short time and she acknowledged her rash decisions had put her here. She couldn’t blame Nick. He’d been direct and honest with her from the beginning.

Miserable, she clasped her arms around her waist and stared unseeing at the darkening landscape. She’d never met anyone quite like him before and the attraction she felt had been immediate. She didn’t know why her heart insisted on skipping a beat whenever he was close, or why she found the scar near his eye charming. He didn’t smile, ordered her about without compunction and treated her like a nuisance.

But, he’d also shown gentleness on the ship when she cried and offered gruff comfort when she told him what happened on Lodestone. His touch sent shivers down her spine, while warmth pooled low in her abdomen. She had no control over her reaction, didn’t fully understand all it meant, but there was no denying what she felt.

Sighing, finding no solution to her mixed emotions, Tru turned to go back to the house and ran smack into an immovable, solid wall. Strong arms grabbed her and pulled her close, preventing her fall. It took a moment for her brain to catch up and recognize what her body already realized.

Nick. Warm, solid and holding her too close. Her heart stuttered once before settling into a steady rhythm and her forehead dropped against the hard wall of his chest. She relished the contact even though she knew she should move away.

A Perfect Day

May you always find new roads to travel; new horizons to explore; new dreams to call your own.

     ~Unknown

Have you ever had a perfect day?  The kind of day you hate to see end? That was Sunday for me.

A friend and I started the day out at a winery.  It was a little off the beaten track, but the setting was absolutely gorgeous.  To get there we took a ferry across the river bisecting the area and then followed the road winding through the grape fields until we came to the tasting room. Now I don’t have a particularly educated palate when it comes to wine, but the tasting showed me what I did like and, of course, I had to buy a bottle 🙂

The sun was warm when I stepped out of the car.  The sky that lovely clear blue not often seen in the Pacific Northwest.  My friend knows the owner of the winery and I was soon swept up in conversation with him and learned more about wine making than I ever thought possible in a short time.  The whole time he was chatting he was pouring samples of the various wines available – starting with the whites and moving through the reds.  I learned what “legs” meant when applied to the wine, how to sip and identify the undertones and notes of the vintage and that most reds taste bitter to me.  I had a great time.

Once we made our purchases we got back in the car for the next adventure.   Our drive wound through farm country and quiet back roads.  It was a real pleasure to be a passenger and not have to concentrate on driving for once.  We were scheduled for a tour of a Frank Lloyd Wright home.  Like wine, I know little about architecture, but I have heard of Frank Lloyd Wright.  I was interested in his design philosophy and how the home fit in its surroundings, but I found it more about nature and expanding the living space to include it than a comfortable place to spend time.  Low ceilings in some areas made me claustrophobic and the hard angles in the home made me want to add soft pillows.  Obviously, his designs were not for me *shrugs*.

No trip is complete without a visit to the local chocolate shop.  Seriously, who can pass one by without finding themselves inside debating the pros and cons of each selection?   Happy with my purchase and the mouth-watering goodies in my bag we toured the hamlet we were in and looked at some fabulous old homes.

We ended the day at a small bistro for dinner.  Everything offered was fresh that day.  I swear you could taste each vegetable used in the gazpacho! I won’t tantalize you with what I had – let’s just say it was a feast for my taste buds J.

I arrived home relaxed and with a smile.  You can bet somewhere in my current manuscript I will find a way to incorporate the sights, sounds and experiences of my day.  Why not let my characters indulge in the pleasures of a lovely day?  I am sure you would do the same 🙂

The Only Way to Travel

“It is pretty hard to tell what does bring happiness; poverty and wealth have both failed.

            ~Kin Hubbard

I recently had the pleasure of flying first class.  Having made the first leg of my journey in the back of a plane it was an unexpected delight to be bumped to first class for the longest stretch of my flight home.  Let me just say…wow!  From start to finish it was a wonderful experience and one I hope to  repeat in the future.  I am now officially spoiled and I can totally live with that 🙂

I admit I savored everything from the warm, damp towel to freshen up with to dinner served on china with linen napkins.  When offered my choice of dessert I chose ice cream with candied nuts and smiled to myself to have it in a glass bowl.  This was a huge difference from the $9 sandwich I’d bought when seated in the more economical part of the plane.  Okay, fine – the cheap seats.

Of course, every experience can be fodder for writing and this was no exception. The difference between classes could not have been more obvious and I realized I have the perfect opportunity to explore this divide in my current WIP.

Lyra D’Kir has a lot of responsibility resting on her shoulders, but has been surrounded by wealth and privilege her whole life. How is she going to cope when circumstances thrust her into a situation where sleeping on the hard ground and being asked to carry her own weight are temporarily the new normal? Will she rise to the occasion or be defeated by it?

By the same token, how does a former soldier react to the wealth and privilege he finds himself surrounded by?  Burke Wulfric has little sympathy for his latest charge, but can he appreciate the finer things in life or will he be too busy comparing the differences in their lives and circumstances to see beyond the glitz to the real person underneath?

Interesting questions, right?  I guess we will see what happens 🙂

Kylie Wolfe Interviews Chandra Ryan, Author of Ulterior Motives

I am thrilled to have Chandra Ryan as a guest on my blog today.  Her new release, Ulterior Motives, is right up my alley –  a SciFi romance.

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Kylie:  Hi Chandra and welcome.  I want to start out and say I love the cover of your book!  Why don’t you tell us a little about your new release?

Chandra:   Ulterior Motives is a sexy, sexy story about eminent domain. What? Eminent domain isn’t sexy, you say? Well it is when you have the devastatingly handsome lawyer, Jasper Lee, fly across the galaxy to champion the cause and help you save your land.

Kylie:  You had me at “devastatingly handsome lawyer” :-).  I am also curious about your heroine.  Here’s a challenge for you…describe your heroine in one sentence.

Chandra:  Kat is a tough but lonely rancher who loves her land and is willing to do whatever it takes to keep it out of the hands of the government cronies trying to steal it away from her. Whew! That might be the longest sentence I’ve ever typed.

Kylie:   What drew you to the type of book you write?

Chandra:   The characters. For me, it’s always about the characters. It starts with, “What if…” and then I have to create people who could, and realistically would, make that story come to life. Somewhere along the way, they become real. And that’s not just in my stories. I can’t count the number of times I’ve started bawling in public because I’m reading a good book. But for the book to be good, to really make people care, the characters have to shine.

Kylie:  Okay, curious minds want to know – are you a plotter or pantser?

Chandra:   I’m kind of a hybrid. I have a general idea what needs to happen when I start a book and then I just write until I find my way to happily-ever-after.

Kylie:  What would be a perfect writing day for you?

Chandra:  A perfect writing day….Hmmm….. I’m not sure I’ve ever had one. I think if I did coffee would definitely be involved. And an empty house. Yeah. That would be really nice.

 Kylie:   Rejection letters are a part of every writer’s journey.  How do you deal with them?

Chandra:   Ice cream and good friends. You’d be surprised at the number of crises that combination will get you through, though. You need a really good brand of full-fat, extra rich ice cream and a couple of people who never mind being cried on to live life to its fullest.

Kylie:  I like the way you deal with a crisis!  Now I am craving ice cream….must resist! Let’s switch gears a bit here; what was the biggest challenge you faced in writing your book?

Chandra:   The biggest challenge I have is overcoming that little voice of doubt that’s always saying the story isn’t good, or that I’m never going to finish it, or that nobody’s going to want to read it when it is done. I think I read a meme once (and we all know that those things only tell the truth) that doubt kills more dreams that failure ever will. It really resonated with me.

 Kylie:   You hear that horrid little voice, too?  Good thing you didn’t listen! So, what do you do when you are not writing?  Any hobbies?

Chandra:  My biggest hobby is reading. Big shock there, I know. I sometimes tease that I write so I have the money to buy books. But I also love hiking and swimming. It’s kind of a life of both extremes. I either want to be inside buried in a good book or outside in the sun sweating.

Kylie:  Do you consider yourself an introvert or an extrovert?

 Chandra:  I’m an introvert all the way. And I know my friends are probably laughing at that one because I’m pretty good at hiding it. But the thing is, I’m always saying the most ridiculous things. Or zoning out in the middle of conversations. It’s really embarrassing. I know I’m socially awkward and that only makes me more awkward. I ordered ribs on my first date with my husband. Who does that? (He found it charming btw, which is why we’re still together fifteen years later.)

 Kylie:  As a fellow introvert I totally understand!  Your husband sounds like a smart man 🙂  I want to thank you for stopping in and sharing a little about yourself.  Here’s wishing you many, many sales.

ulteriormotives_msrBlurb:

Universal Defiance, Book One

On a rural settler planet, Kat must resort to putting out an ad to find a husband. She doesn’t expect to find love—that’s a dream in these parts—just a partner to help work her ranch. Then the devastatingly handsome Jasper answers her ad and turns her on in ways she never dreamed possible. Too bad he’s not who he says he is.

Jasper doesn’t know what he’s getting into when he ventures undercover to investigate a legal claim against Kat’s ranch. But after a toe-curling night under her roof and in her bed, he’s willing to do anything to stay there. He can’t say no to the tough-as-nails businesswoman who makes his body come alive.

When people start getting hurt, though, both Kat and Jasper have to decide how valuable one piece of land is. And the ranch that brought them together might be the very thing standing between them.

A Romantica® sci fi erotic romance from Ellora’s Cave

Excerpt:

Kat stared at the man on the platform. With thick dark-brown hair and a muscular body that filled his clothes out nicely, he was handsome enough. Not that his looks mattered. Not really. She needed a husband to be a partner. She wasn’t some young, naive thing with silly notions of lust and love. Practical and pragmatic were a much better fit for her life. Still, a pragmatic woman could admit that having a man about the house who was easy on the eyes wouldn’t be a hardship.

She chuckled under her breath as she made her way over to him. She doubted she would fare as well if he were hoping for a piece of eye candy for his wife. Oh she could be pretty when she needed to be. But coming all the way to town to collect a man didn’t merit the fuss. She worked long days on the ranch and this excursion had already caused enough of a delay. If she got all gussied up, she’d not only lose that time but also the time it took her to get back into her work clothes when they returned to the ranch. Time was her most valuable commodity right now. She couldn’t afford to squander it.

“Excuse me, sir.” Her calm words broke through the chaos of the port station and gained his undivided attention. This close to him, staring into his rich, brown eyes, her stomach began to churn with nerves. She quickly pushed through the sensation though. She didn’t have the time for silliness. And it was the height of absurdity for her to be uncomfortable around her soon-to-be husband. “I’m Katarina Maxim. My friends call me Kat.”

She held her hand out to him in casual greeting as she tried not to fidget. She’d debated how to greet him as she’d driven to the station. A kiss seemed rather forward. But she did want him to feel welcomed. A handshake seemed like the best idea at the time. Now, as she waited for him to take her hand, she started second-guessing herself.

“Katarina, that’s a lovely name.”

She noted that he’d called her Katarina but tried not to let that color her first impression of him. She didn’t hate the name nor did she hate being called by it. It just didn’t fit her. Not anymore. Katarina sounded soft, delicate—refined even. As she’d been before her family had moved here. She could only hope that he didn’t see her as any of those things. If he did, he would be sorely disappointed when he got to know her better. “Kat. Only my mother called me by my full name,” she pressed.

“Kat it is.” His smile seemed genuine but his palm was as soft as new leather when he finally took hers. If he stayed, that would change. This planet demanded calluses and blisters. Her hands were proof of that. “Jasper Lee, ma’am. I’m honored to meet you. Out of the thousands of applications you must have received, I am grateful you selected mine.”

Apparently his tongue was as smooth as his hands. That didn’t bode well for their future. Smooth men didn’t do well when faced with the harsh realities of settler planets. “I’m not a politician nor am I a starlet, Mr. Lee. Out here we speak our minds and we keep our words straightforward. My ranch is a great opportunity, especially if you’re looking for a fresh start. But I think we both know there aren’t thousands of men out there looking for backbreaking work on a world so uncivilized that its brothel is its only restaurant.” She took a moment to look him over carefully. He wasn’t a dandy. His stance spoke of power and awareness. She couldn’t very well start patting him down like a horse at auction, but as far as she could tell, her first impression had been spot-on. The man looked to be in shape. “But if you’re willing to put in the time and the work, I’ve a feeling you could make it here.”

Social Links:

Webpage: www.chandraryan.com

Twitter: @ChandraRyan

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/chandra.ryan

Buy Links:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Ulterior-Motives-Universal-Defiance-ebook/dp/B00DSOY4SO/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1373510747&sr=1-2

Ellora’s Cave: http://www.ellorascave.com/ulterior-motives.html

Vacation – Woot!

Vacation used to be a luxury, but in today’s world it has become a necessity.

~Author Unknown

Vacation.  What a lovely word.  It immediately brings to mind sandy beaches, island breezes and relaxation, doesn’t it? Did you hear the big sigh from me?  That is the kind of vacation I would like, but my reality will never make the pages of a travel magazine.

Don’t get me wrong – I am excited to have a week off and the chance to visit my oldest daughter and her family.  I haven’t seen them in…well, forever.  There is a lot to catch up on and grandkids to spoil 🙂  But, let me share what is leading up to boarding a flight out of here and flying across country in two days time.

Let’s start with the day job that graciously allows its employees to have some time away to relax and renew (do you hear the sarcasm here?)  I have a things-that-have-to-be-accomplished-before-I-leave list.  On it are tasks that are job critical and must have all the loose ends tied up before I can escape – um- leave.

Ha!  My day started out bad and disintegrated from there.  Let’s not mention the disagreement with my boss before I even had a cup of coffee, or the disaster everything I touched turned into kind of day.  So much for quickly tying up loose ends.  My things-that-have-to-be-accomplished-before-I-leave list has now turned into a crap-I will-never-get-this-done-in-time sort of list.  With some reprioritizing I might be able to get the most critical of the critical things done.  Yay, me.

Let’s move on to packing.  Sorting through clothes to take is not fun.  That cute shirt I bought at the beginning of summer is a little snug.  It’s too late to regret the stress eating that caused the – ahem- slight weight gain and my much more limited clothing choices.  No problem, I will just have to manage with what I have.  It’s a vacation after all, right?

Writing.  Somewhere in all the chaos that has become my life just lately I have barely had time to keep up with email, never mind work on my WIP.  Double crap.  The 500 words a day I was aiming for is now 1,500 words behind and gaining fast.  Maybe I can sneak some writing time in on my long flight.  Yes, that is the Universe you hear hysterically laughing at me in the background.

Oh, let’s not forget the conversation with my daughter who is taking care of the house while I am away.  It went something like this:

  • Yes, wonderful child-of-mine the flowers need to be watered every day without exception.
  • Don’t touch the paperwork on my table.  I know where everything is and your habit of stuffing things in corner cabinets is not okay.
  • The cat will be unhappy if you do not pet him when he demands it and have his food bowl full at all times.
  •  No, I don’t think my neglected knitting basket would look better hidden behind that big chair.
  • Do not leave my kitchen in a mess.  Clean up after yourself or I will have to hurt you when I get home.  Stop laughing, I’m trying to be serious here….

Luckily for me I don’t have to drive to the airport.  I will have a few blissful moments where I know I have done all that I could before leaving and can now relax and leave the driving in her capable hands.

I’ll worry about getting through the airport when I get there.  After all, I’m on vacation. 🙂

Is He Hero Material?

“I think of a hero as someone who understands the degree of responsibility that comes with his freedom.”

~ Bob Dylan

What makes a hero in a story?  Is it a strong and disciplined body?  The way he moves across a room and commands attention or that roguish glint in his eye?  Initially those are the things that will catch a reader’s attention.  But, if that is all your hero has going for him then your reader won’t stay long.

When I began Rayven’s Keep I wasn’t sure what my hero eventually would be like.  I had a basic idea, but it took time to make Nick Rayven more than one-dimensional.  I had to ask myself what traits did he posses that would make my heroine fall in love with him.  What was it that made him a hero in her eyes?

To know that I had to understand where he came from, what experiences molded him into the man he was now.  Right away, I knew he was an honorable man, driven by duty and his own moral compass.  I knew he could be impatient and once set on a course he would see it to the end no matter what.  He’s a man who has seen the worst life has to offer and still managed to survive.

In other words, he’s one tough dude.

That might be attractive at the on-set, but my heroine is feisty and a romantic at heart.  There had to be more to Nick’s than a tough exterior to keep her interested and willing to break down the emotional barriers he’s erected.  After all, this is her journey as much as his.

So how does a man who spent his life in the military fighting for a cause he believes in deal with the destruction of everything he’s fought for?  How does he move past seeing his home world destroyed?  For Nick those final horrendous minutes of battle are relived in nightmares.  This is a vulnerability he hates and has no control over.  Yet, in spite of everything, he has managed to build a new life for himself by being focused on establishing his business, Rayven Security.  It’s how he copes.

He’s also lived in an emotional vacuum for so long he doesn’t quite know how to deal with one small female getting under his skin and shaking up his world. It’s his gruff kindness, his protective instincts and the vulnerability she senses in him that draw her.  It’s the heat she see’s in his eyes and the baffled expression he can’t quite hide.  Its knowing he will walk through fire for her and recognizing it goes beyond his sense of duty.  That’s the Nick she fights for.  Wouldn’t you?

This is one of my favorite scenes with Nick.  What do you think?

Nick was no stranger to the tumult of feelings coursing through his body. He’d felt the punch-drunk assault of adrenaline many times in his career. He understood the heady rush of euphoria once the danger had passed and knew firsthand the reckless need for physical release in its aftermath. He recognized it a very human response to the need to reaffirm life continued.

All those feelings and needs made his hands shake and drawing breath into his oxygen-starved lungs difficult. He wanted to follow Tru to her bed and sink into her warmth with a painful intensity leaving his muscles taut and his emotions a tangled mess.

If the situation were different, he would have gone with his friends to a tavern and indulged in the usual male bonding ritual of congratulatory back-thumping and drinking until he was either too drunk to stand or had found a bed partner. A sobering thought. He’d been younger then, still idealistic and sure of his ability to survive what life threw at him. It seemed like a lifetime ago, and he’d learned surviving was sometimes almost too painful to be endured.

To let her walk away had cost him. The heavy thud of his heartbeat pulsed in his temple and restless energy held muscles rigid. He called himself ten kinds of a fool, even though he knew he did the right thing. He ran a hand across the back of his neck before he went in search of a canister of ale he knew was onboard. He didn’t drink often, but tonight promised to be long and lonely.

After he snagged the chilled canister, he returned to the bridge. Slouching in his chair, he nursed the drink and stared moodily into space.

A Writer’s Voice

Never give up. And most importantly, be true to yourself. Write from your heart, in your own voice, and about what you believe in.

~Louise Brown

If you Google Writing Voice you will discover pages of material.  I literally found everything from what Voice is to instructions on how to develop it.  There is information in abundance to help you discover your own unique style. Wow.

Apparently this is a very serious subject and one a writer needs to pay attention to.  Who knew? Certainly not me. When I first started to write it never occurred to me I needed to find my Voice. I had no idea what it was to begin with. I just wanted to tell a good story.  So I wrote.  And wrote some more.  Then I rewrote.  Along the way I discovered a tendency to head hop just a teensy-weensy bit – okay, I raised it to an art form, but, hey, I eventually figured it out.  Adverbs are not my friend and the word “that” can be overused.  Good to know.

Writing a sentence is fairly easy, but what gives it life beyond the words you read? What glues you to the pages anxious to see what happens next?  Words have power and the way they are put together on a page can transport us to other worlds and on wonderful adventures or make us want to hurl the book across the room.  We laugh, we cry, we smell the ocean on the breeze or hear the thunder of a waterfall and we fall in love with characters that become real to us for a short period of time. All because of words.

Okay, so we’ve established the importance of sentence structure (my English teacher would be so proud), but that alone isn’t enough to keep us interested is it? I know you’ve picked up a book and several paragraphs in you are wondering why you are wasting your time. Maybe you keep reading, hoping it will get better or toss is aside because you would rather wash dishes. Yet the book came highly recommended from a friend/co-worker/stranger on the street (you get the picture) because they loved this book and thought you would too.  What is it about the book you just didn’t like?

You know where I am going with this, right? It is Voice!  It is the cadence of the words put together, how it is punctuated, the dialogue between characters and how they are developed that either bores you to tears or keeps you awake half the night reading.  It is how the writer perceives his vision and translates it to the page that we either respond to or turn away from.  It is an emotional reaction.

If the writer is lucky his Voice will touch the right cord with a lot of readers, but I can say with great confidence that even bestselling authors have detractors. Not everyone will like what we produce and that is okay.  If everyone liked the same thing then we wouldn’t need a wide variety of reading material. Boring!

So, I’ve discovered along the way my rhythm for words and descriptions – my Voice.  I am comfortable there and fall easily into the pattern when I sit down to write.  My hope is others will like what I have done and few will be tempted to toss my book aside.

In my world, that would be pretty darned cool. 🙂