Panthers

If you love paranormal romance, then you’ve probably been bitten by the shifter bug. Who isn’t drawn to a man or woman in touch with their primal side? We’ve all been exposed to werewolves, but my first real experience with a werecat of any kind was with Sookie Stackhouse in the Southern Vampire Mysteries series. Crystal Norris is refered to as a werepanther and ignorant as I was, I blindly accepted this without question.

Recently, I decided to write a shifter romance and thought the elusive black panther would be a great choice for my hero. I have many faults, but the one thing I pride myself on is my willingness to do research before I commit to any idea–the information I gather isn’t always right, mind you, but I do put forth the effort.  I was surprised to learn that a panther is not a specific species of feline, but rather a broad term usually used to describe one of the four “big cats” of the Panthera genus: leopard, jaguar, tiger, and lion. All four are well known for their ability to roar, which makes them distinctive among felines.

Black and White Panthers are melanistic, leucistic, or albinistic felines. Their unique coloring is a resolute of genetic mutation. Many scientists believe that such mutations are a resolute of climate and/or other geographical factors.

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Written Right Wednesday: Dead to the World

True blood premiered Sunday, June 26, and I missed it. We don’t have HBO here because no one in this house is a big fan of television. It’s hard to sign a twelve month agreement for channels I’ll only watch once per week for three months. However, True blood is worth it, so today I threw my frugal common sense out the window. Tomorrow, I’ll be able to watch the first episode of True Blood and I’m ecstatic!

In honor of the True Blood season four premiere, I thought we’d discuss Charlaine Harris’ Dead To the World. In my opinion, it was the best book in the entire series (so far ;)). One of the things I admire about Harris’ writing is her ability to use the first-person point-of-view without using “I” in every sentence. It’s a skill very few writers have and as we can all see, it pays off. Just imagine what Mrs. Harris’ bank account looks like.

Moreover, I love the originality of Harris’ characters. They all have serious character flaws that are realistic and funny, at the same time. You have to admire an author that is willing to make her heroine hot-tempered and prudish, while having a hero who wears red bikini underwear and admittedly gets on the heroine’s nerves.

Below is an excerpt of an excerpt of Dead to the World:

Under the overhead light in the kitchen, Eric looked pretty pitiful. His bare
feet were bleeding, which I hadn’t noticed before. “Oh, Eric,” I said sadly, and
got a pan out from the cabinet, and started the hot water to running in the
sink. He’d heal real quick, like vampires do, but I couldn’t help but wash him
clean. The blue jeans were filthy around the hem. “Pull ’em off,” I said,
knowing they’d just get wet if I soaked his feet while he was dressed.

With not a hint of a leer or any other indication that he was enjoying this
development, Eric shimmied out of the jeans. I tossed them onto the back porch
to wash in the morning, trying not to gape at my guest, who was now clad in
underwear that was definitely over-the-top, a bright red bikini style whose
stretchy quality was definitely being tested. Okay, another big surprise. I’d
seen Eric’s underwear only once before—which was once more than I ought to
have—and he’d been a silk boxers guy. Did men change styles like that?

Without preening, and without comment, the vampire rewrapped his white body
in the afghan. Hmmm. I was now convinced he wasn’t himself, as no other evidence
could have convinced me. Eric was way over six feet of pure magnificence (if a
marble white magnificence), and he well knew it.

I pointed to one of the straight-back chairs at the kitchen table.
Obediently, he pulled it out and sat. I crouched to put the pan on the floor,
and I gently guided his big feet into the water. Eric groaned as the warmth
touched his skin. I guess that even a vampire could feel the contrast. I got a
clean rag from under the sink and some liquid soap, and I washed his feet. I
took my time, because I was trying to think what to do next.

“You were out in the night,” he observed, in a tentative sort of way.

“I was coming home from work, as you can see from my clothes.” I was wearing
our winter uniform, a long-sleeved white boat-neck T-shirt with “Merlotte’s Bar”
embroidered over the left breast and worn tucked into black slacks.

“Women shouldn’t be out alone this late at night,” he said disapprovingly.

“Tell me about it.”

“Well, women are more liable to be overwhelmed by an attack than men, so they
should be more protected—”

“No, I didn’t mean literally. I meant, I agree. You’re preaching to the
choir. I didn’t want to be working this late at night.”

“Then why were you out?”

“I need the money,” I said, wiping my hand and pulling the roll of bills out
of my pocket and dropping it on the table while I was thinking about it. “I got
this house to maintain, my car is old, and I have taxes and insurance to pay.
Like everyone else,” I added, in case he thought I was complaining unduly. I
hated to poor-mouth, but he’d asked.

“Is there no man in your family?”

Every now and then, their ages do show. “I have a brother. I can’t remember
if you’ve ever met Jason.” A cut on his left foot looked especially bad. I put
some more hot water into the basin to warm the remainder. Then I tried to get
all the dirt out. He winced as I gently rubbed the washcloth over the margins of
the wound. The smaller cuts and bruises seemed to be fading even as I watched.
The hot water heater came on behind me, the familiar sound somehow reassuring.

“Your brother permits you to do this working?”

I tried to imagine Jason’s face when I told him that I expected him to
support me for the rest of my life because I was a woman and shouldn’t work
outside the home. “Oh, for goodness sake, Eric.” I looked up at him, scowling.
“Jason’s got his own problems.” Like being chronically selfish and a true
tomcat.

Dialogue

Properly structuring dialogue is not an easy task if you are unfamiliar with the rules. In this post, I’ll give you some basic guidelines to follow that should make crafting dialogue much easier.

1. First and foremost, it is important to remember that all spoken dialogue goes in quotation marks.

 example: “That hat looks hideous on you,” Amy said.

 2. The punctuation at the end of the dialogue blurb goes inside of the quotation marks. Remember that this applies to all ending punctuation (commas, periods, exclamation points, etc.).

 examples: “Stop!”

“I really hate when you do that.”

“Would you like me to tie you up first?”

3. Dialogue tags (Amy said, Thomas asked, Julie warned, etc.) should be used when it is unclear who is speaking, but it is not necessary to keep repeating them when you are writing a long conversation.

 Example: “Is it really you?” Rachel asked.

“Yep,” Adam replied, with a quirked brow. “Don’t you recognize me?”

“You look so different without all your hair!”

 Adam ran his fingers through his shoulder length hair. He smiled, before looking away from Rachel’s questioning gaze. “It was time for a change.”

4. Lastly, it is important to remember to separate each character’s dialogue into different paragraphs to avoid confusion. The example for number three is sufficient for this rule  as well.

The best way to familiarize yourself with these rules is to practice them, AND pay attention to how authors you read structure dialogue. This is one situation when it’s okay to copy your favorite writer.

Kisri

Cover art can make or break the sales of a book. Don’t judge a book by its cover may be good advice, but it isn’t always followed. I’m not ashamed to say I won’t pick up a book with a poorly designed cover unless someone recommends it to me. We live in a competitive society. It is no longer enough to have a well written story with a fantastic blurb. Your book has to have sex appeal. To draw in the younger generation, it has to appease all the senses, especially sight.

While you’re busy drafting your masterpiece, keep an eye out for covers that impress you and the ones that don’t. It might not help you now, but when you do get published and your editor sends the artwork for your book, you’ll be able to look it over with a critical eye. Remember that the publishing process is all about give and take, and if you see a correction that needs to be made don’t be afraid to respectfully request it. This is a business, and like you, publishers want to sell as many books they can. Requesting a cover edit is much like your editor requesting a copy edit, it’s in everyone’s best interest, so don’t be afraid to speak up.

My Can’t Resist Cover for this week is Moira Rogers’ novella, Kisri.

Its vs. It’s

One of the most common grammatical errors I run across when editing manuscripts is the misuse of its/it’s. They are easy to confuse, and most people do not even realize there is a difference because the its/it’s differentiation is not an issue stressed in most grade schools. But I am here to tell you there is a difference, and it is easy to know when to use the word or the conjunction once you understand what they each mean.

 Its is a adjective. It is used to describe a noun.

Examples:  Johnny knocked his cup onto its side.

                               Alice bought the necklace because she liked its color.

It’s is a contraction. It replaces “it is” in a sentence.

Example: It’s (it is) the yellow one.

                    Bring a blanket, it’s (it is) cold outside.