Saturday, August 30, 2014

Lighthearted thoughts about writing THE kissing scene by Kaye Spencer

I've written couple dozen romance stories, books, and novellas. Some have been published, others will someday be published, but many—for a variety of reasons—will remain unpublished and tucked away in the File Dungeon inside my computer. However, they all have one attribute in common.


Not just any kiss, but THE kiss. This is usually the first kiss that occurs for my hero and heroine.
I've written stories with plots that were simple to plots that took an Excel spreadsheet to keep all the details straight. I've written...
  • an Old West gunfight that included paranormal elements of a herd of phantom cowboys chasing a phantom herd across the sky
  • scorching love scenes that will make your toes curl
  • a contemporary vampire story with a cowboy thrown in for good measure
  • a love triangle that wasn't a 'threesome', but it will leave you sniffling and grabbing the tissue box at the end
  • family saga of 150k that spans 15 years
  • a mail-order bride story
  • sweet romances that make you say 'ahhh'
BUT the kissing scene—the kiss that makes or breaks the story—holds me up every. single. time. In fact, during the rough draft stage in most of my stories, it's typical for me to *insert kissing scene here* and come back to it (them) later.

The kiss can't be too detailed or it can have an 'ewww' factor. But neither can it just be "...and they kissed". There's no emotion, no feeling in that. Whose point of view to write it from is sometimes difficult to decide. Is it the hero or the heroine who instigates the kiss? What are their hands doing during the kiss? Are they standing body-pressed-to-body or is there a little distance between them? Are they completely embraced in each other's arms or just 'holding' on to each other? Are the characters close to the same height or is one significantly taller than the other? This makes a huge difference in where they put their arms and how they have to bend their necks to make that kiss happen. Are they standing? Lying on a bed? Leaning across a fence or across the front seat of a car? Tongue or no tongue?

Decisions. Decisions.

Really, it all depends upon how well the two characters know each other when THE kiss happens, which is the major reason I write the kissing scene after my hero and heroine have spent the entire story together. By the end of the story all three of us know the emotions in the kiss.

In my current work in progress, a Halloween-themed western romance short story, I'm down to the wire before the deadline to submit the story to the publisher, and guess what scene is holding up the show. Yuppers, the first kiss. 0_o

So, I must trot back to the manuscript and finish that pesky kissing scene. The hero has figured out how he's going to accomplish the first kiss with the heroine, but the problem is, she's a hereditary witch, and he's just a little nervous that when he kisses her, he might turn into a toad.

But it's a chance he's willing to take. ;-)

Until next month,


Fall in love...faster, harder, deeper with Kaye Spencer romances
Twitter - @kayespencer 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The scary vampires are back

I read The Strain and now I am watching the TV series based on the books. The premise behind The Strain is that vampirism is more like a virus that transforms the human body into some kind of creature or organism with no sense of humanity. All they want to do is feed and make more vampires. And the way they feed is really gross—they have these long tongue-like things that extend out of their mouth. It’s really freaky to imagine something like this could be real.

What I like about this vampire series is that there is nothing loveable about these vampires. They are frightening. And changing into one of these vampires is anything but sexy. I love being scared and the recent vampire books and movies are not scary at all. In fact, some are just silly. I grew up in the era of the non-sparkly vampires, and I welcome this new wave of vampires like the ones in 30 Days of Night that spent the whole movie wearing dried blood and Let Me In where childlike innocence is a disguise for a true predator. And now I look forward to watching the truly inhuman ones in The Strain.

Finally, vampires are scary again and there is nothing better than a good scare.


Kelley Heckart, Historical fantasy romance author



Two mortals are caught in the midst of the battle between the Titans and Olympian gods.

Buy links on author website:

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

New Book Baby

I have just signed my first YA contract! "Narvla's Celtic New Year" is the story of a step-dancing champion who finds love, loss and plenty of adventure when she moves into the American Embassy in Dublin after her mother is appointed U.S. Ambassador to Ireland. "Narvla's Celtic New Year" will be published in February 2015 by Astraea Press.

And so it starts again … the big build-up not unlike pregnancy as I begin to prepare for the new arrival. I find myself poring over possible review sites, wondering what the cover will look like, driving myself mad with questions about blog tours, advertising, and interviews. And the release date isn't for another six plus months!

So that brings me to my question: how do YOU prepare for a new release? A new venture? Do YOU like a lot of lead time? Do you fritter it away, feeling like it's so far in the future as to be unimaginable? Or do YOU compile lists of what you would like to do?

Please share your experience and YOUR good news! Here's hoping August is bringing you a lot to celebrate.  XO

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Sunshine Yellow Days and Popping His Cherry

I'm so excited about "The Paint Store Boys". I love these men and their stories. "Sunshine Yellow Days" is still sitting there on the best seller list looking so purty I could scream, beside famous authors like Sophie Oak and Lynn Hagen (inset fangirl squee here).

Edward Robinson is a failure, nervous, frightened, bullied, and unemployed. Basil King, a flamboyantly gay interior designer, sees the man behind the pain. He has designs on Ed. Basil is one of the owners of The Paint Store, along with Cuthbert, Roland, and Max, and he offers Ed a job there. As Ed settles in and enjoys the work, Basil invites him out to a gay bar for a drink.

Ed has tried so hard to fit in, to be invisible, to be ignored. Someone who looks and dresses as outrageously as Basil, yet without being hated, is an inspiration to him. Not that he could ever look or act like that. But maybe working for Basil and his friends will help him get some self-confidence so he can begin to reclaim his life and his self-respect. When Basil wants to date him he can’t believe anyone would care for a person like him. But he accepts the date anyway.

And now book 2 "Popping His Cherry" is out!
Builder Max Hall and Detective Nicholas O’Hare have a wonderful night together after the court case between The Paint Store and serial pest Mitchall. But then they’re both very busy at work, and Max doesn’t answer Nick’s calls. Is their romance over before it really began? Max had admitted to Nick that this was his first gay romance. Max was adamant that he’d gradually realized he wasn’t attracted to women and craved the rougher, tougher love of another man. Was he lying? Was all his talk about wanting to have his male cherry popped just talk, and once he’d had the experience he’d decided to revert to loving a woman? Had Max just used Nick? Nick thought there was genuine love between them, but if so, why isn’t Max answering his cell phone anymore?

Berengaria Brown

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Magical elements of cosmos flowers in a western romance? by Kaye Spencer

My current short story in progress (SSiP), is an October/Halloween themed western romance for the upcoming Halloween anthology from Prairie Rose Publications, Cowboys, Creatures, and Calico. My heroine is a hereditary witch for whom fate brings the last living male descendant of the judge who condemned her grandmother, of 10 generations in the past, to hang as a witch. The tentative title is For Mercy’s Sake.

In creating the heroine’s home, I drew upon three of my personal interests, which are paganism, witchcraft, and Wicca. I have an extensive collection of resources on these subjects, some of which I learned first-hand from my maternal grandfather. Although it was never said outright, as I look back on my childhood and teen years, I realize my grandfather was probably a solitary practitioner of pagan beliefs. As a youngster, I knew the community thought he was odd and eccentric, but they seemed to accept his oddness with amused acceptance.

Now, back to my heroine’s home. Since the way she supports herself is by selling the tinctures, salves, oils, powders, etc. that she makes from the plants she grows, I spent a few paragraphs in the story telling about the plants, herbs, vegetables, and flowers in her garden and around the house. One of the flowers my heroine grows is orange cosmos.

While cosmos have no particular herbal or medicinal attributes other than attracting certain insects that prey on 'worse' insects, it does attract fairies (but I'm not including fairies in this story). The main reason to grow cosmos in your yard or garden is for their powerful influence in sorting out life's confusions and for helping to put everyday 'things' in order. These flowers mostly offer the gift of integrating body and spirit to keep them in tune with the other so that one doesn't get out of sync with the other, and these flowers assist with a person's clarity of thinking as in keeping a sharp focus.

Although the flowers have a light, barely discernible scent, cosmos are not for picking, confining in a vase, and setting in the middle of the dining room table on display. These flowers are free spirits meant to be treasured in their natural environment. They are a silent flower, meaning they make no
sound in the wind when they rub against each otherthey keep your secrets.

Cosmos are low-maintenance perennials that actually thrive in adverse conditions of poor soil and little water, but they do need a lot of sunlight. They bloom in late June to mid-July and will continue to bloom through frost. Once the flowers dry up, the seeds are available for hand-harvesting. Store in
such a way that they can dry out before putting them in a paper sack. You don't want them to mold. Stored seeds are still viable after several years of dormancy. If you plant a new bed of cosmos, just scratch them into the ground, and lightly cover with dirt to keep birds from eating the seeds.

The word 'cosmos' derives from the Greek 'kosmos', which means order and harmony (and 'the world'). Cosmos are considered group flowers because each individual flower grows close to its neighbor to offer the strength of community effort to withstand the onslaught of the wind. To take this farther, cosmos flowers embody a balance of all four elements of Air, Fire, Earth, and Water, in that order, and here is why...

First and foremost, the cosmos is a flower of the wind. It thrives in windy conditions, which makes it a perfect prairie flower, which is where I live. Even though it is a tall plant, it reaches toward the sky and will often grow to chest high, especially the pink, purple, red, and white varieties. The orange variety, which is my favorite, has a different leaf structure than the pastels and does not grow as tall. All colors of flower heads sway in a graceful dance in the tiniest of breezes, they are flexible, yet strong enough to withstand even strong winds. The foliage is fernlike so there is an airy quality to it. The blossoms, though delicate, flutter with the wind rather than take the wind's battering, and the seeds are well-adapted to blowing in the wind for distribution. Seeds of the orange variety are longer than the pastel

Cosmos thrive in hot, sun-beaten conditions with little or even a lack of shade. It seems that they 'look' for places to grow that expose them to the heat and light of the sun without even the tiniest hope of shade. In the wild, cosmos choose to thrive in dry and sunbaked, ground, and they prosper
during the hottest, driest time of the year, which is during the height of the summer and into early autumn. The blossoms expand up and then outwards in the manner of the sun's rays. The centers of each flower are dark to flame-yellow, and the blossoms tend to orient their faces towards the sun. When the woody stems dry after frost, they can be used as fire-starter material.

At first look, the main stem of the cosmos flower appears spindly, even willowy, and certainly not strong enough to withstand winds, but they are actually thick, tough, and woody. They have a strong connection to the Earth element because of their expansive root system, which is in  counterbalance
to the tall branching stems, thus allowing the plant to resist uprooting by wind.

Because the cosmos plant is made up of thin, flat, dry-to-the-feel leaves and stem that offer minimal area for transpiration or moisture retention, and that the plant physically  needs little water to thrive, the element of Water may not, at first thought, be much of an influence in this plant. The seeds are also thin and dry, which makes them easily airborne. The root system does its job in inhospitable, even hostile, soil environments in the driest growing season. However, when water is available, the cosmos takes full advantage of the precious gift and does not waste a drop. Since the cosmos is in full bloom in the late summer/early autumn and is considered an autumn flower, the Water element is actually strong in it because the ancient Celtic calendar associates autumn with the element of Water.

So, to tie this back to my SSiP, my heroine has cosmos flowers growing all around her house to help keep harmony and balance in her life. *insert evil author laughter* She doesn't know it (because I haven't written it, yet), but I'm going to turn her harmony and balance upside down like a James Bond
martini—shaken, not stirred.

Until next month,


Fall in love...faster, harder, deeper with Kaye Spencer romances
Twitter - @kayespencer

**Pictures are from Kaye's flower garden.**
Note - for more information about Cosmos flowers, visit: and

Monday, July 28, 2014

Dealing with change

This has been a time of big changes for me. After losing my second dog—a dog I’d had for 15 years, a dog that was always at my side and a dog I had cared for when he became sick about 2 years ago—I have entered a new phase of my life. Losing my first dog 2 years ago was hard, but I still had my other dog. But now that both of them are gone, I realized a whole section of my life is lost. So many changes came about with them—good and bad, but mostly good—and now I find myself wondering what the future holds for me. Taking care of a sick pet is difficult and a part of me is relieved to be free of that, but a part of me is also heartbroken.

Luckily, I have one dog remaining. He came into our lives about a year ago. Without him, I would truly be lost. A huge chapter of my life is gone and new one begins. Even though I am sad for what I have lost, I look forward to the future. I’m using this time of change to reinvent myself, to clean out my clutter and to focus on what lies ahead and not dwell on what has past.

Change can be a good thing. It depends on how you choose to look at it—you either accept it and move on or you don’t and risk becoming depressed. I’m hoping to move on. Here’s to what the future holds.


Kelley Heckart, Historical fantasy romance author



Two mortals are caught in the midst of the battle between the Titans and Olympian gods.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

The Equal Rights Blog Hop

The Equal Rights Blog Hop, with a passel of prizes to be won, begins tomorrow. My post is below:

For Bron who moved across the country so her FF romance would come true.

My only female cousin was thirteen years older than me, so by the time I was old enough to know she was my cousin, she already seemed completely grown up to my little girl self. One by one my cousins got married but Bron didn’t. I longed for her to tell me she was engaged because I planned to ask to be her flower girl, but all that happened was that she took a job in a state a long way from where we lived. I was much older before I understood that she and her female best friend were closer than that. And it was even longer before I understood that where she and her lover had chosen to live was a state that accepted lesbians.

It was Bron who opened my eyes to the obstacles that two women face in finding their own happy ever after. I’m so glad she and Nancy found theirs in the end.

For a chance to win your choice of one of my backlist digital books answer this question:
What is my cousin’s name?
EMAIL your answer to berengariabrownATgmailDOTcom

To read more stories by authors on the theme of “Your first experience in the LGBT community” Keep hopping. Return to the blog hop page and click on the next author’s link:

Berengaria Brown

Monday, June 30, 2014

What are your favorite genres to read and write by Kaye Spencer

Readers, have you ever wondered why you ‘read what you read’?

Authors, what is your response in interviews about why you 'write what you write'?

For both readers and writers: If you're drawn to a particular genre over all others, have you ever considered why?

Over the years of my publishing career, I've encountered variations of these questions in author interviews. I have three general points for why I tend to write historicals and particularly stories set in the American Old West.

Reason 1—Research

Every historical I write allows me to follow rabbits down research rabbit holes. I've discovered the most intriguing and amazing tidbits of history in my historical research Wonderland. Researching is my ‘happy place’. It’s important to me to have the details in my stories as historically accurate as possible.

Reason 2—Living vicariously in the past

While I’m writing a story set in the past, I get to travel to a different place and time and live in someone else's shoes, so-to-speak. I’m like Anthony Marston in Quigley Down Under: “…Some men [women] are born in the wrong century.” All my life I’ve felt out-of-place living in our ‘modern’ world. So when I transport myself to the time in which my characters are living, I’m in another one of my ‘happy places’.

Reason 3—Challenge of overcoming inconveniences

I like writing stories that lack modern day conveniences. Without the amenities we’re accustomed to nowadays, there are so many juicy complications for the characters to face, deal with, and overcome that otherwise could be written away with a call on the cell phone or by hopping an airplane. The possibilities for plot complications in the areas of communication, transportation, physical relationships (particularly in the area of limited contraceptive options), and medicine—to name but a few—are endless.

Any thoughts on this? I’d love to hear them.

Until next time,


Fall in love…faster, harder, deeper with Kaye Spencer romances
Twitter - @kayespencer

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Writing help: Finding my way back

I’ve reached a place in my writing where I’ve become complacent, especially when it comes to revisions. I need some discipline, maybe a kick in the butt to get myself back on track. I’m not sure how this happened. Maybe I have become uninspired when it comes to rewrites. What frustrates me is I can read through an unknown manuscript and easily find what needs to be fixed, but when it comes to my own writing, I’m blind. Something needs to be done to find my mojo again and get me out of this writing funk. I wonder if other writers experience this at some point.

I thought back to when I first started writing and how excited I was to get those words down and get them right without worrying about how I did it. Maybe it’s inspiration I need in order to find my way again—inspiration and some discipline when it comes to revising my work.

Discipline I can manage. So, how do I get that elusive inspiration back that I need? That’s the million-dollar question. This is almost as bad as writer’s block. One thing I noticed is I worry too much about breaking the writing rules now, and I think that fear is holding me back. When I was a newbie writer, I didn’t worry about the rules because I didn’t know all of them yet. I think some of my earlier writing is also my best, or at least, more unfettered than it has been lately. To be creative, I think you need to let go and not worry about rules too much. Yeah, I know. I just said I need to be unfettered and have some discipline—contradicting meanings. Surely, I’m crazy. Possibly. But, what I mean is there needs to be a balance of letting go of the rules and having some discipline during the revising process. I can’t just casually read through my manuscript. I need to go through it line by line and have a list of things I need to look at. This is where knowing my weaknesses can be useful. My editor helped me with that one. Smile

So, how do I find the inspiration to write and revise my book to make it the best it can be? I need to let go of my hesitation, my fear of breaking a rule. I need to let the words flow naturally. That and a little kick in the butt of discipline might just help me get back what I lost.


Kelley Heckart, Historical fantasy romance author



Two mortals are caught in the midst of the battle between the Titans and Olympian gods.