~ By Mary E. Thompson
I really like four letter words. Some of my favorite words are four letter words.
I’ll spare you the ones that I save for the person who cuts me off in traffic (when my kids aren’t with me) or my books, but my favorite four letter word is Love.
What does love mean?
According to dictionary.com, love means…
A profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person
A feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection, as for a parent, child, or friend
Sexual passion or desire
We have a lot of ways to use the word love. I love the Buffalo Bills, even though they have the longest playoff drought in NFL history. I love pizza, even though my waistline doesn’t. I love my kids. Period. No conditions on that one. I love my parents and my family and my friends.
And I love my husband.
I’m very lucky to have a husband who is always there for me. He’s my best friend and the love of my life. He stood by me when I lost my job. When I had no idea what to do with myself. When I decided to pick up a career without any idea what I was doing. When we had kids. When I was scared, countless times. When I faced, and beat, stage four cancer.
Today is the day to celebrate that kind of love. It’s Valentine’s Day. Everyone around the world is getting flowers or candy or cards or some other token of affection from their loved ones. My kids brought Valentine’s cards in for their classmates and teachers. The grocery stores have been filled with flowers and everything you can imagine in a heart shape. Pink and red have exploded everywhere.
Don’t even think about ignoring the day, because you can’t.
Why is a holiday with very little ties to any one culture or religion such a big deal?
St. Valentine was a martyr of the Catholic church and is reported to have been put to death on February 14, 269. He was imprisoned for marrying Christian couples and converting people to Christianity. While he was imprisoned, I’ve heard he wrote letters to people, love letters in a way, encouraging them toward love. In the third century, love was still a foreign concept as arranged marriages and betrothals claimed most people.
These love letters inspired Valentine’s of today. It’s a holiday that has become far less religious, even removed from the Roman Catholic calendar in 1969, and much more secular. You will find people of every faith and background celebrating.
But again, why?
Because love knows no boundaries. Love doesn’t care if you’re from different backgrounds, different races, different countries, or the same. Love doesn’t care if you knew each other growing up or just met yesterday. Love is love. And when you love someone, nothing else truly matters.
What would you do for love?
Would you sacrifice a friendship?
Would you give up your favorite food?
Would you skip your favorite tv show?
Would you give up your life?
They may not all be easy answers, but I’m willing to bet you would say yes. Love is so powerful that you would do anything for it. Not just to hold on to it, but to spare the person you love from suffering. To see them smile. To hear I love you.
Every single person wants to be loved. We all want to find that person we can laugh and cry and yell and fight with. The one you can say anything to and be your true self and know they’re going to love you no matter what. We all want to find that one person who makes us feel like we can do anything. Because when love is in our lives, we can.
We are surrounded by love every day. It’s on the radio, on tv, and in the books we write and read. Love adds an element of humanity to the most vicious of people. It makes things okay that wouldn’t be if not for the love driving them.
Love takes the darkness of life away. It makes you smile. It makes you healthier. It makes you get up every morning.
Just try to say I love you without feeling good. Without feeling that love seep into you, making your heart race just a little faster. Making your lips turn up in a grin. Making you reach out for the person you’re saying it to.
Love is the one thing in the world that can never be taken away. And that is why today is such a wonderful day. Because it’s a chance to celebrate how much we love each other. As friends, as family, as lovers.
Say I love you to someone today. You won’t regret it.
Then do it again tomorrow, and every other day. Because love should be celebrated… always.
Mary E. Thompson writes scintillating stories with a side of hope. As a lover of love, her stories center around love in many forms from family to friends to, of course, romantic love. Her 30th release comes out March 7. She spends her days hoping she’s raising her daughter and son to be good people and her nights snuggling with her own romance novel worthy husband. Visit her website at http://MaryEThompson.com to learn more.
The perfect man is flawlessFlaws make a person human, and flaws on a man are endearing and intriguing. Maybe, such as in It Happened One Wedding by Julie James, he’s too cocky for his own good and can’t believe it when a woman can’t resist his charm. Or, like in What I Love About You by Rachel Gibson, he is an alcoholic with PTSD so he doesn’t want people to get too close. So wait, he has fears to overcome? And the heroine can help him?
The perfect man lacks conflictConflict is the driving force of a story, it’s the fuel, it’s the heart. Whatever you want to call it, conflict is necessary in a novel because without it there is no story. A perfect man has nothing to overcome, nothing to change, and no problems to face when he and the heroine connect. I don’t know about you, but my eyes are glazing over already. Take It Happened One Wedding again as an example. In this contemporary romance, our hero hits on our heroine and she shoots him down hard and fast. He can’t believe it! They think that’s the last time they’ll see each other, but what do you know—they are the best man and maid of honor in a wedding and they better learn how to get along. I’m definitely staying awake for that story. One of my favorite writing quotes is by Linda Howard. She says,
If your hero is a firefighter, your heroine better be an arsonist.If there is nothing holding the hero and heroine back from being together, then we’ve reached their happy ending 50,000 words early.
The perfect man doesn’t experience personal growthIf a man has no room to grow when he meets the heroine, are they really meant to be together? When I read a romance, I want to see how the characters compliment each other—how they inspire each other to become their best selves. A man (or any character for that matter) that doesn’t grow by the end of the book makes you wonder why you’re reading in the first place. “If conflict is the lifeblood of a story, the protagonist’s goal is its compass.” And the only way a character can accomplish that goal and defeat the conflict before them is to grow as a person. For example in Taste – A Love Story by Tracy Ewens, the man who takes care of everyone around him finally learns how to rely on someone else. In conclusion, we may dream about meeting the perfect man or woman in real life, but meeting them on paper is about as boring and flat as a blank piece of paper itself. To write an enticing hero, he should be flawed, conflicted, and grow as a human being. Basically, our hero’s not perfect until he meets his mate. Have you read a story with a boring hero or heroine? What made them so? Leave a comment and share your thoughts [no specific book titles, please]! KATIE McCOACH is a freelance developmental book editor at KM Editorial working with authors of all levels to help them create their best story possible. Katie is a member of Romance Writers of America and the Editorial Freelancers Association. She has had essays published in TrainWrite and Kalliope and is currently writing a contemporary romance novel. For advice on editing, writing, and publishing visit her blog at http://www.katiemccoach.com/blog and be sure to also follow her on Twitter @KatieMcCoach.
"There's a certain slant of light, winter afternoons that oppresses like the heft of cathedral tunes." That, my friends is the first verse of a poem by Emily Dickenson. Now read some of those tonight, and as you do, consider the fact that Emily Dickenson writes convincingly about passion and about the world in spite of the fact that she lived as a virtual recluse. It'll help you appreciate her mind.You see? If Emily Dickenson can do it, so can we! Here are my theories as to why.
- We’re human. We’re wired to tell all sorts of stories. We instinctively understand story structure. That’s because we understand human emotion.
- We’ve read romance, seen romantic movies, watched our family members and friends fall in love, and in many cases, been in love ourselves.
- Romance novels are fiction. Yes, we authors insert ourselves into our stories, but our characters live their own lives. We’re just here to tell their stories. If they want to go to the moon, we can send them. If they want to perform open heart surgery, we let them.
- Most of us, single and otherwise, have been burned at least once in the dating world. Yes, the stories we write are fiction, but wow is it fun to throw in little gems from our own experience. We can turn our ex’s into villains, or rewrite our experiences the way we wished they’d turn out. Not that I’d actually turn an ex into a villain. Oh wait. I lied. I totally would and I have.
- I can’t speak for all single romance writers, but I know what I want in a guy. Don’t believe me? Here’s proof. I know what would make me happy, which means I can write characters who are just as confident in what they want, make it almost impossibly difficult for them to get it, and then celebrate when love finally conquers all.
- We have imaginations. Enough said.
Enjoy! Melina writes contemporary romance with a pinch of oregano and a dash of chutzpah. She loves to travel, especially to her family’s village in Crete, and turn her adventures into research for her novels. In July of 2012, she moved to Jerusalem with her adorable but sneaky cocker spaniel. You can visit her at http://melinakantor.com
Are there any songs that have taught you about craft and story-telling? Leave a comment and let us know!Susan Meier is the author of over 60 books for Harlequin and Silhouette, Entangled Indulgence, Red Hot Bliss and Bliss and one of Guideposts’ Grace Chapel Inn series books, THE KINDNESS OF STRANGERS. In 2013 she lived one of her career-long dreams. Her book, THE TYCOON’S SECRET DAUGHER was a finalist for RWA’s highest honor, the Rita. The same year NANNY FOR THE MILLIONAIRE’S TWINS was a National Reader’s Choice finalist and won the Book Buyer’s Best Award.Susan is married with three children and is one of eleven children, which is why love and family are always part of her stories.
“I have such mixed emotions with this story. I can’t say there is a single character in the story that I liked. I got angry with so many of them. I guess it brought out so many emotions, yet I could not relate to a single person. Having said that, maybe in reality that is ‘a good thing,’ the author took me outside of my ‘comfort zone’ and made me react to what is different for me.”The review continued into more on the book and characters and I did give this story a 4-star review. Kathy’s Bonus: Jeff, I have a webpage that is available by a group of authors that is templates or guidelines to use towards writing reviews. It is something I use regularly and it made writing reviews easier. https://authorsofmainstreet.wordpress.com/2014/10/13/how-to-write-a-review/?blogsub=subscribed#subscribe-blog About Kathy: I have been married for 39 years to the love of my life, Steve. We are blessed with 3 children and 10 grandchildren. I was an Army brat so I lived everywhere. We currently live in Sevierville TN which is at the Foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains. This is truly God’s country. Besides reading, I enjoy cooking and spending time with family. Find Kathy's reviews at Goodreads and Amazon. About Jeff: Besides 8 novels and 4 novellas (with three different royalty publishers), I’ve published non-fiction monographs, articles, book reviews, and over 120 poems; my writing has won nearly 40 awards, including several in national contests. As a newspaper photo-journalist, I published about 150 bylined newspaper articles, and some 100 bylined photos. I worked nearly 30 years in the field of librarianship. I’m a decorated USAF veteran (including a remote tour of duty in the Arctic). I’m the married parent of two and grandparent of six. Find more of Jeff's posts at Four Foxes, One Hound.