Monday, February 28, 2011

Are you a Creator or a Discoverer?

So I’ve bee wondering, lately. Is writing really an act of creation, or is it actually an act of discovery? My hero and heroine, Rob and Marguerite, in The Lady and the Minstrel caused me to ponder this as I struggled to write their second kissing scene last week. I have a sparse draft of the scene from the original novel. All I thought I needed to do was to punch it up a bit. Easy, right? So this was my original, punched up version.

He lowered his head very slowly and saw her eyes drift shut just before his own did the same. The trap did not slam around him until his mouth found hers. This time her arms did not creep, but flung about his neck. She kissed him back with a desperate fierceness and he sank helplessly into the swirling tempest of pleasure that stormed through his veins. One kiss. Just one. But he could not keep this vow any better than he’d kept his first. Again and again their lips snatched together until she finally pulled away with a gasp. He darted a quick kiss to her forehead before she hid her face against his shoulder.

Her voice came muffled against the cloth of his homespun. “So this is what it is like, then.”

He moved a hand to stroke her dark curls. “What, my heart?”

“Love.” And her arms tightened around him.

I wrote the rest of the scene that followed and went to bed convinced that all was well and that I would be ready to move on with their story the next day. But when I sat down to write again and reviewed the above paragraph, a strong feeling came to me: "No, that’s now how the kiss happened."

Now, there was nothing really wrong with the paragraph. It didn’t make what followed any more or less effective. Why did I need to rewrite it? Nevertheless, my characters were stubborn in their insistence that I do so. So after some wrestling, I came up with this instead:

Her smile was the final nudge he needed. He saw her eyes drift shut just before his own did the same. He did not hesitate as he had in her chamber, but settled his mouth warmly and firmly over hers. Her arms slid around his waist and her body leaning into his reminded him how small she was. Just once more? How had he ever thought one kiss could be enough? He had lied all these weeks to himself. It had not been enough that night in her chamber, and it was not now, not when she met his lips again and again with this snaring fervor. Because Robert had chosen to tamp down his passion with the many women who had tried to entrap him through the years did not mean his hot nature was immune to temptation, and this little ball of fury tempted him as no other ever had.

How long he would have stood there drinking from her nectared lips like a man parched he did not know. When she finally pulled her mouth away, gasping, he continued to press kisses to her cheeks and brow until she hid her face against his shoulder.

Her voice came muffled against the cloth of his homespun. “So this is what it is like, then.”

He moved a hand to stroke her dark curls. “What, my heart?”

“Love.” And her arms tightened around him.

Again, there was really nothing wrong with this. The rest of the scene would have worked just fine with this scenario. And yet this time, even before I shut down my computer for the night, again I heard Rob and Marguerite say, “That was not our kiss.” And I knew I’d have to tackle it again yet a third day.

After more mental and emotional gyrations, the next day I came up with this:

He cupped her face in his hands and lowered his head very slowly. Her eyes drifted shut and she leaned her body into his, leaving him no doubt of her anticipation. The hesitation that had checked him in her chamber, the fear of how she might react to his kiss felt like a distant, illogical dream. His mouth settled now over hers with warm confidence and found an eager welcome. He felt her arms weave around his waist, reminding him how small she was as she nestled still closer against him. Small, but surprisingly vigorous, for her mouth quivered swiftly from candid acceptance to a clinging fierceness. His blood surged and his kiss deepened. All the careful caution that had guided him o’er the last five years swirled away as he sank hopelessly into the eddy of pleasure.

How long he would have stood there drinking from her nectared lips like a man parched he did not know. She pulled away at last with a tiny gasp. He caught one more snaring kiss before she hid her face against his shoulder. Deprived of her lips, he took what comfort he could in pressing his mouth into the soft cloud of hair atop her head.

Her voice came muffled against the cloth of his homespun. “So this is what it is like, then.”

He moved a hand to stroke her dark curls. “What, my heart?”

“Love.” And her arms tightened around him.

“Ah, yes,” Rob and Marguerite said with beaming smiles. “Now you have it.”

Again, what amazed me was that technically, any of these versions should have “worked”. And yet, my characters insisted that only one of them was “right.” As fanciful as it sounds, it was as though somewhere out there in the ether, their “true” kiss existed. My challenge, after all, was not to “create it”, but to “find it” as it had already occurred.

So I’m curious. Am I the only one who has experienced this with their characters? I would love to hear from you! When you write, do you feel like you are creating a story out of thin air? Or like you are “discovering” a story that somehow already exists and you only have to find it? 

Friday, February 25, 2011

Get to Know the Reviewer: Sheila Staley of LDS Women's Book Review and Why Not? Because I Said So!

Today's interview is with a reviewer so talented that she needs not one, but two review sites to keep up with all the books she reads! Sheila Staley is one of the four reviewers behind LDS Women's Book Review (click here to read my interview with LDSWBR reviewer, Mindy Holt). She also has her own review site, Why Not? Because I Said So! More about both blogs below.

JDP: Thank you for joining us today, Sheila. Did your mother read to you as a child?

Sheila: Oh Yes! My Mom would read chapter books out loud to all of us, my 1 sister and 2 brothers. She also read plenty of picture books. All of us are avid readers today. Our children are also avid readers. This is a great tradition in our family.

JDP: Do you remember a favorite book from your childhood?

Sheila: I loved the Little House In The Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder. My favorite Christmas present was getting the whole series for Christmas when I was nine years old. I also loved reading Rebecca From Sunnybrook Farm, The Little Women Series, and The Hobbit.

JDP: Name a favorite author as an adult.

Sheila: Besides you (Joyce blushes here)...Jessica Day George, Jeff Savage, Rebecca Talley, Suzanne Collins and Brandon Mull and....I go on forever!!

JDP: Share a book you’ve read multiple times.

Sheila: The Harry Potter Books (several times),  Fablehaven and The Work And the Glory Series.

JDP: Kindle, Nook, or good old hard copy?

Sheila: I am a die-hard for old hard copies. I am not sure if and when I will break down and get a Kindle/Nook. I love the feel of a book in my hands, flipping the pages of a book and going to the library and walking down row, after row of books.

JDP: I’m still adjusting to my new Kindle. I like it very much for some things, but I don’t feel myself giving up my love of hard copies anytime soon. (Just ordered 3 more from Amazon.) What’s your favorite place to read?

Sheila: In bed, on the couch, in the car, at school while eating my lunch, while brushing my teeth etc. I just love to read!!

JDP: What are your three favorite reading genres.

Sheila: Fantasy (YA or adult), Romance, Speculative.

JDP: What’s the last book you read?

Sheila: Paranormalcy by Kiersten White

JDP: What are you’re reading now?

Sheila: Cold As Ice by Stephanie Black

JDP: What’s next on your reading list?

Sheila: Matched by Ally Condie and Meg's Melody by Kaylee Baldwin

JDP: What you would like to read more of? (author, genre, etc)

Sheila: I always read a little of everything. I am waiting to read your next book, Joyce. (Joyce: Uh oh. Now the pressure’s on!) I can't wait to read Brandon Mull's new book, Beyonder's #1 A World Without Heroes. I also am very excited to read Robinson Wells new book coming out this Fall called Variant

JDP: Share a favorite book that you’ve read in the last 12 months

Sheila: Two come to mind #1 Pathfinder by Orson Scott Card and #2 The Cross Gardner by Jason Wright

More about Sheila! : I am a very busy, single Mom to my two great kids; a 12 (almost 13) year old girl and an 8 year old boy. I work full time teaching 2nd grade. I love to read and met my goal of reading 100+ books last year. I love to write and enjoy attending writing conferences. I am seriously working on a romance novel. I have a YA fantasy and a mystery suspense in the beginning stages. I have been a member of LDS Women's Book Review for five years. I love podcasting with the ladies of LDSWBR. I also love to do book reviews on my own personal book review blog and at the LDSWBR site. For fun, besides reading, I love to play games with my kids (especially Harry Potter Scene-It), go camping, scrapbook, and play the piano and sing.

Please come and visit my blog Why Not Because I Said So where I review all genres of books. I do "Tuesday's Teaching Moments" sharing something I hope is helpful to my readers.  I also do "What Do You Think About...Wednesday" where I invite guests to come to my blog and answer a variety of questions that I pose to them having to do with reading and writing. I also am starting to have guest bloggers. My first guest blogger was my daughter and she did a very awesome job!! I would love to have people come visit me at my blog and become a follower and participate by commenting. I also hope that people will come and visit all of us at the LDSWBR site. We have great things going on there.

Note from Joyce: Sheila interviewed me for her "What Do You Think About...Wednesday" post on the subject of romance novels. Ack! If you'd like to read a few of my thoughts on the matter, click here.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Tuesday Teaser

Tuesday Teaser is a weekly bookish meme (rhymes with “cream"), hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. (I’ve borrowed it from LDS Women’s Book Review.) Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share at least two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page

BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)

Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR lists if they like your teasers!

I'm adapting the rules slightly. I'll be quoting some random lines from the last chapter I read before I post a teaser. I'm a slow reader, so you may get multiple teasers per book. Here's a teaser from The Chariot of Israel:

It was a question asked, but it was not charged with any real degree of urgency, and that disappointed me. For a moment I had actually begun to feel some sympathy for the King, but now I realized that he was simply a man to be pitied for having become entangled in a web of his own weaving.

From The Chariot of Israel, by James S. Sangster, p 33

If you'd like to share a teaser from a book you're currently reading, I'd love you to do so in the comment section. And you don't even have to share it on a Tuesday! Be sure to include the title, author, and page number in case others would like to check out the book you're 

Monday, February 21, 2011

What Am I Reading Now?

I recently had the wonderful opportunity of going to a performance of Handel's oratorio, Elijah. The story of Elijah has always been one of my very favorite Bible stories, and this oratorio about his life and mission touched me so deeply that I literally wept. And coming away from that experience, I immediately knew what I wanted my next read to be. I had to wait a little bit while I finished Dearly Departed, by Tristi Pinkston (which I'll be reviewing for Tristi's blog tour on March 1, so check back then), but I finished it Friday night and immediately picked up The Chariot of Israel, by James S. Sangster. This book is so out of print, it doesn't even show up on Goodreads! But my mother bought a used copy for 10 cents when I was in junior high, and this book immediately fired my imagination. Partly because I had never pictured Elijah as an old gray haired prophet when I heard his story. For some reason, I'd always, always pictured him in my mind as a much younger man with long black hair. So imagine my excitement when I opened the pages of The Chariot of Israel and read a description of Elijah with...yes! long black hair!

But beyond this coincidence, The Chariot of Israel turned out to simply be a wonderfully written retelling of the story of Elijah. Several scenes from this book, including the falling of Elijah's mantle to the shoulders of his successor, Elisha, when the chariot of Israel takes him up at the end, have remained vivid memories through the years and linger with me even today whenever I read the story directly from the Bible.

I have long since lost the dust cover from my copy, so I don't even have a blurb to share with you. But look what I found on Amazon! A review of The Chariot of me! (Posted the last time I read it in 2008.) For what it's worth, this is what I wrote:

One of my favorite retellings of the story of Elijah in the Bible. Elijah is no grey-bearded, elderly prophet here, but a dark-haired wild man uniquely in tune and obedient to the commands of Jehovah, yet completely human in his occasional struggles with his faith. Good luck finding a copy to buy, but you'll be rewarded if you do.

I'll share a Tuesday Teaser with you on Tuesday, just in case you're able to track this book down on interlibrary loan or something!

PS The Chariot of Israel now appears on Goodreads, because I just created a profile for it there!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Get to Know the Author: Donna Hatch

Today’s Getting to Know You interview is with Regency and fantasy romance author, Donna Hatch. Donna has previously been interviewed at JDP NEWS to share with us her love of the Regency period and some of her favorite research sources.

JDP: Donna, did your mother read to you as a child?

Donna: Yes, every night until I was about 8.

JDP: Do you remember a favorite book from your childhood?

Donna: I loved the Laura Ingalls Wilder books and also A Little Princess

JDP: Name a favorite author as an adult.

Donna: I have many, but Georgetter Heyer is near the top of the list.

JDP: She's at the top of my lists, too. :-) Share a book you’ve read multiple times.

Donna: The More I See You by Lynn Kurland

JDP: Kindle, Nook, or good old hard copy?

Donna: I don't own an ebook reader. Yet. But I plan to -- not to replace hard copy, but to have in addition.

JDP: What’s your favorite place to read?

Donna: A comfy old arm chair in the corner of my bedroom.

JDP: What are your three favorite reading genres.

Donna: Romance. Historical. Fantasy.

JDP: What’s the last book you read?

Donna: To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis. Funny, quirky read.

JDP: What are you’re reading now?

Donna: The Conquerer by Georgette Heyer

JDP: Oooo, that's not an easy book. I re-read it a year or so ago. But worth the effort, I think! (This from someone who celebrates Norman Conquest Day every year, of course.) What’s next on your reading list?

Donna: Spellweaver by Lynn Kurland

JDP: What you would like to read more of? (author, genre, etc)

Donna: Sweet or traditional historical romance

JDP: Share a favorite book that you’ve read in the last 12 months

Donna: The Magic of Ordinary Days by Ann Howard Creel.

Thank you for joining us again today, Donna!

More about Donna: Donna Hatch's passion for writing began at age 8 when she wrote her first short story. During her sophomore year in high school, she wrote her first full-length novel. Her writing has won or been nominated as a finalist in many writing awards including Golden Quill and SARA Merrit. In between caring for six children, (7 counting her husband), her day job, and her many volunteer positions, she manages to carve out time to indulge in her writing obsession. A native of Arizona, she writes Regency Romance and Fantasy. And yes, all of her heroes are patterned after her husband of over 20 years, who continues to prove that there really is a happily ever after. You can learn more about Donna by visiting her website at and blog at

Books by Donna Hatch:

The Stranger She Married
The Guise of a Gentleman
Troubled Hearts
Queen in Exile

Summary of Queen in Exile:

Rumors of war hang over Princess Jeniah's peaceful country of Arden, a land that shuns both magic and warfare. Following a lifelong dream, Jeniah forms a telpathic bond with a revered creature called a chayim, who is prophesied to save her kingdom. But when a Darborian knight comes upon Jeniah with her chayim, he sees only a vicious monster about to devour a maiden, and he slays the beast.

Devastated by the loss of her chayim, and fearing that her own magic is evil, Jeniah doubts her destiny. When an enemy invades Arden City, they slaughter the people, storm the castle, and execute the entire royal family except the princess. Rescued by the knight who slew her chayim, Jeniah is now heir to the throne of Arden and the only hope for freeing her people from tyranny.

On the run and hunted by enemy soldiers, Jeniah must place her life and the fate of her kingdom in the hands of this trained killer. Torn between embracing her destiny as queen of Arden, and her love for a mere knight, she must ultimately rely on her magic to save herself and her people from death and tyranny.