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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

POV shifts - How to make them seamless!

By Zee Monodee

Hey beautiful people!

It's the last Wednesday of February, so this means my spot on the blog. Was wondering what to talk about and then it struck me that recently, I've been noticing quite a lot of POV shifts in books. The editor in me didn't need more to get all worked up, so there you have the topic and post for today - POV Shifts and how to make them seamless.

Ever watched table tennis? Yup, ping pong. Or even, tennis. Like a really long exchange between Federer and Nadal on the beaten red ground of Roland Garros French Open. Ball goes front, comes back, goes front, comes back. You move your head first to follow the exchange. Then your head grows tired, and you only move your eyes. Then you brain starts to rebel - your eyes are moving so much, it's got to be motion sickness! And you throw up.

In a story, badly done POV shifts that look like a ball exchange between these two tennis hunks makes you probably wanna throw up right away. How do you not throw up then, and also too, rework this sad state of affairs?

It comes down to a simple thing - POV. Whose POV are you in? At worst, ask the question, whose POV should you be in?

Writing, especially romance where you will mainly have your scenes with your Hero and heroine (H/h for short), is not a tennis game, nor is it ping-pong. Yes, the dialogue has to flow, and that's an exchange. But going back and forth between the characters' minds will tend to make your reader sick with mind motion sickness.

The thing is - when your reader is reading your story, she is identifying with a character, with the lead in your scene. She is putting herself in that person's shoes, in that person's body, in that person's head and consequently in his or her mind.
Stand up and talk with someone. Look at where you are standing, and then look around you. This is exactly what it should feel like for your reader, and to do this, you as the writer have to be in one character's place, spot, shoes, head.

You may go, but I'm writing this and it would be so much better for the story to show what is going on in the other person's mind.

All right - this can work, but not when you are going back and forth between two minds like a tennis exchange between Federer and Nadal! You can, and I repeat, CAN, do away with the POV shifts by seamlessly integrating the information into your lead character's POV.

Let's take an example that has a POV shift. (Shameless plug, but these are taken from Storms in a Shot Glass, my upcoming romantic comedy with Decadent Publishing)


“Jane,” he [Michael] said, “I’m sure you know half the business Vista Standard Bank handles comes straight from my clients.” He paused for effect. “As their lawyer, it wouldn’t be hard for me to tell them to take their accounts elsewhere.”
He had to be joking! Jane thought. One long look at his hard-jawed face and she knew he wasn't kidding. Don't flinch, don't show him how much he's affecting you. “That’s blackmail,” she said softly.
“I don’t want it to come to that, but I will if I have to. Think about it, Jane. Deflect a few calls, invent a few excuses. It doesn’t take more than that.” Michael kept his gaze on her, studying her. He needed to get her into a tight spot so he'd have her cornered.
Jane was flustered under the steady perusal. This one was a shark and he had sniffed blood. Damn it - he was a right, bloody arse!


So yes, here, we see the interaction between the H/h. Yes, you are giving me what's going on in their heads, the crucial happenings in this scene.
Take a look at the same scene, with highlights.

“Jane,” he [Michael] said, “I’m sure you know half the business Vista Standard Bank handles comes straight from my clients.” He paused for effect. “As their lawyer, it wouldn’t be hard for me to tell them to take their accounts elsewhere.”
He had to be joking! Jane thought. One long look at his hard-jawed face and she knew he wasn't kidding. Don't flinch, don't show him how much he's affecting you. “That’s blackmail,” she said softly.
“I don’t want it to come to that, but I will if I have to. Think about it, Jane. Deflect a few calls, invent a few excuses. It doesn’t take more than that.” Michael kept his gaze on her, studying her. He needed to get her into a tight spot so he'd have her cornered.
Jane was flustered under the steady perusal. This one was a shark and he had sniffed blood. Damn it - he was a right, bloody arse!


I dunno about you but these colours kinda made me want to give up my breakfast.
Now in this scene in the story, it is Michael's POV. He is the lead, and not only that, the scene belongs to him. Let's rework this from Michael's POV only.


“Jane,” he said, “I’m sure you know half the business Vista Standard Bank handles comes straight from my clients.” He paused for effect. “As their lawyer, it wouldn’t be hard for me to tell them to take their accounts elsewhere.”
Jane paled and her lips tightened in a nervous gesture. But she didn’t flinch or gasp, and for that he gave her credit. This girl had balls.
“That’s blackmail,” she said softly.
“I don’t want it to come to that, but I will if I have to. Think about it, Jane. Deflect a few calls, invent a few excuses. It doesn’t take more than that.”
She stared at him for a long time, her narrowed gaze travelling over him before coming back to rest on his face. He wondered what was going on in her head, but like any good legal negotiator knew, you should never betray what was going on in your head. So he simply allowed her to peruse him while he settled back and took small sips of his coffee.
As the seconds ticked by, perusal turned to disbelief and finally to something remarkably like spite on her features. Her lips pursed to a tight line, stretching the skin over her cheekbones and making her bone structure appear formidable as the soft shadows in their secluded corner played upon her face.
Michael didn’t flinch, not even when she opened her mouth and said calmly,
“You’re a bloody arse, you know that?”



Basically, these two scenes are telling me the same thing. But in the second one, the POV of the character who is not the lead is integrated into the main POV. Yes, I'm not going into Jane's head. I'm not getting a chance to see what's happening with her-- Wait a second! You're wrong! Because I am seeing what is happening, with Michael's eyes. I am getting an interpretation of the scene from his POV.

And this reworked version is not just telling the reader what is going on. It is showing. Jane may have been thinking, don't flinch, Don't show him how he's affecting you, this is shown, through Michael's eyes, as such: Jane paled and her lips tightened in a nervous gesture. But she didn’t flinch or gasp, and for that he gave her credit. His next thought then, in deduction, is: This girl had balls.

See how this gives your reader a stronger handle on the hero? We are not just seeing what is happening but we are getting a whole other view of it when his perception is brought forward as the lead. POV shifts do not allow for this depth into a character and persona because the POV shift makes you skim the surface and relate only what is happening.

Here's another bit that has been reworked: Jane was flustered under the steady perusal. This one was a shark and he had sniffed blood. Damn it - he was a right, bloody arse!

Okay, she thinks him a shark. She's flustered. She thinks him an arse. How the heck do I show this if I am not going into her POV, you may ask.

Well, think of this - humans are not robots. When we think, some of it reflects in our body language. No human being is totally impassible. Something has to give this person away. You can hold a poker face for just that long, and maybe too, another body tic is working you up and you are hiding it.
When you are interacting with someone, you are not talking to a static poster. You are dealing with a human being. And a human being always shows non-verbally, through body language and other such gestures, what is going on in their head.

And from your lead's shoes, this giving away gestures get to be interpreted. What Jane was thinking above, is relayed through how Michael comes to figure out what is going on in her mind:


She stared at him for a long time, her narrowed gaze travelling over him before coming back to rest on his face. He wondered what was going on in her head, but like any good legal negotiator knew, you should never betray what was going on in your head. So he simply allowed her to peruse him while he settled back and took small sips of his coffee.
As the seconds ticked by, perusal turned to disbelief and finally to something remarkably like spite on her features. Her lips pursed to a tight line, stretching the skin over her cheekbones and making her bone structure appear formidable as the soft shadows in their secluded corner played upon her face.


(This bit, as an aside, also gives your reader a visual description/image of how Michael is seeing Jane, and it gives you setting and atmosphere, too. All this was not present in the POV shift version. Plus, too, Micahel is a lawyer, who negotiates corporate mergers. See how he thinks like one here too, with the bit about how a good negotiator knows to never betray what was going on in his head? All this was absent in the blow by blow version, denying your reader a deeper view into who Michael really is and how he thinks.)

And what she actually thought, use it. Dialogue conveys what you cannot convey through a POV shift. When you go in her head, you see she is thinking of Michael as an arse. But Michael is not a telepath; he cannot go into her head. So how do you put this across? By using dialogue:

Michael didn’t flinch, not even when she opened her mouth and said calmly,
“You’re a bloody arse, you know that?”


Think of yourself in a conversation. Use your senses. Use your intuition (and let me know if you happen to be a real mind reader!). Interpret things. Yes, it is easy and terribly tempting to shift POV and give a blow by blow, ping pong account of what is going on in each character's head.
But by doing so you are limiting yourself to skimming the surface. Sticking to one lead allows you to delve deeper into the character, to explore his or her psyche, to see things as he or she is seeing and experiencing.

That's the experience your reader is looking for - this "in his/her shoes" bit. Not a ping pong match that can give you mind motion sickness, or worse, make you give up on the book because it is shifting too much and leaving no room to get into a character's head.

Clear as mud? Any questions, just holler.

From Mauritius with love,

Zee

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Excerpt Sunday: Waking up in Vegas

What happens in Vegas…
Waking up to the bright lights of Vegas in an unfamiliar penthouse suite, cocktail waitress Phoenix Montgomery finds she’s covered from head to foot in gold glitter and not alone – aside from the empty bottle of champagne, there’s a mystery man in the shower and a huge sparkly ring on her finger!

Stays in Vegas?
There’s no denying Max Waldburg’s demi-god sex appeal but commitment-phobic Phoenix doesn’t do relationships. Only it seems her new husband (agh!) has other ideas…he’s trying to keep that ring on her finger and his wife firmly back in his bed. The only question on her lips is – why? Or maybe, why not?

* * *

“Since I’m obviously at the disadvantage here, I don’t suppose we could speed this up a little? Like full name, place of birth, age, job description?” The reason why I married a complete stranger?
He eyed her for a long moment and she resisted the urge to squirm. For a mad second she thought he was weighing something up and deciding how much to tell her. God, she hoped he wasn’t a con man. That would be awkward if she was left with the bill for this fancy suite. She didn’t think her life savings would stretch to breakfast, let alone a night in this hotel.
Then he smiled, mouth wide, eyes crinkling, and her heart thundered against her chest. With a smile like that, it was amazing he was still single. Well, single enough to marry her, of course.
Assuming he wasn’t some Mormon with three wives back home. Was bigamy legal here in Nevada?
“Max Waldburg. I was born in a tiny principality in Europe you won’t have heard of, my age is on our marriage contract, and I work for my grandfather on his farm.”
Farm. Napa. Something clicked. “A vineyard. You make wine.”
“I’m a vintner, yes. Five years of studying viticulture, and a whole lot more as an apprentice to my grandfather, and the critics say I’m getting quite good at it.”
He reached for her hand, and this time she didn’t push him away. His touch was more than a caress; it was as if she stood in a rainbow, in a shaft of sunlight on a cold day.
“You’ll love it there. The farmhouse has a wrap-around veranda and a kitchen the size of forever. You can stand at the front door and look out over the entire valley and see nothing but vines and trees. At sunset, it’s truly magical.”
She’d married a poet. That figured. She always managed to attract men with very little grasp on reality.

Waking up in Vegas is available from Amazon, Amazon UK, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iTunes and All Romance eBooks.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Excerpt Sunday: THE OTHER SIDE by Zee Monodee

Blurb:

Divorce paints a scarlet letter on her back when she returns to the culture-driven society of Mauritius. This same spotlight shines as a beacon of hope for the man who never stopped loving her. Can the second time around be the right one for these former teenage sweethearts?

Lara Reddy is fleeing London. After her husband dumps her and she bumps into him and his pregnant new missus, she jumps on a prestigious job offer. The kicker? The job is in Mauritius, the homeland of her Indian-origin parents, and a restrictive society she ran away from over a decade earlier.

Divorce paints a scarlet letter on her chest when she returns to the culture-driven island. Once there, Lara has no escape—not from the gossip, the contempt, the harassing matchmaking...and certainly not from the man she hoped never to meet again, the boy she’d loved and lost—white Mauritian native, Eric Marivaux.

In the past, fear of social repercussions from the Sectarian crowd her family belongs to kept her from giving her all to Eric. Will standing on the other side be the impetus she needs to take a chance on Eric and love again?

Excerpt:

Lost in her thoughts, she rounded a dead corner of the hall, slamming into someone’s side. Disoriented and dizzy with confusion at the jolting oomph of impact against a solid form, she stumbled, losing control over her legs. She saw the walls moving up rapidly, but a strong pair of hands grabbed her under the arms before the back of her head hit the floor.
Bon sang, mademoiselle! Où courez-vous comme ça?” a rich, deep masculine voice asked on the sharp yet lilting accent of white Mauritian natives.
Where are you running to, miss? he’d asked, from what her rusty French could figure out.
Away from you. Something inside her acknowledged the danger before she could process his words. She knew that voice. Her head spun again, yet her mind was very alert.
Could it be…? No, it couldn’t. Her brain had to be playing tricks on her. The sound with its particular accent belonged to the very distant past. How was she hearing it at this moment? Had she fainted? That’s it. She wasn’t conscious, and since she’d probably worked herself to exhaustion, the condition had triggered all sorts of switches in her muddled consciousness.
The image of the man from the airport burned itself into her mind, and she gasped. No!
“Is everything okay?” The chuckle had gone from the tone, replaced by worry.
Solid strength still held her ribcage, the back of the hands warm and smooth where they touched her arms. The heat from them went to her head, churning all coherent thought into a jumble.
Her mind had to be playing a trick on her. He couldn’t be who she was imagining. When, after a few seconds, it didn’t appear like she’d come around, doubt invaded her heart.
Your eyes won’t betray you, they’ll see the truth.
She risked a glance up beneath her lashes. She had to be certain if this was real or not. To know this was all a trick of her imagination….
Lara encountered a tall form with broad shoulders outlined in a short-sleeved shirt. The lapels of the opened collar framed a strong jaw and a wide, full, and sensual mouth was set in a worried line above a square chin. A fine, straight nose sent faint shadows over his lips.
She had to gulp back the ominous lump wedged in her throat. Her heart beat a hammering throb in her chest, and her mouth went dry. Her suspicions looked dangerously close to being confirmed, and the nagging notion played havoc with her thoughts. She closed her eyes.
When she opened them, she found herself staring into a pair of blue irises. A blinding flash went through her head, plunging her heart to her knees. She’d recognize those irises anywhere. Deep-set, bright, and laughing eyes the colour of the deepest ocean. The heavy, golden locks brushing his forehead accentuated the frown knitting his eyebrows.
Locks that had somehow broken free from the thick, smoothed-back hair. She itched to sweep them back, to run the tips of her fingers along his smooth skin, like she used to in the past, onto the soft buzz of hair he used to keep so short….
Her mind went into a crazy spin, and all her senses reeled as everything became a vivid kaleidoscope of colours. Her stomach heaved, and her knees went weak as her body became limp. But the man’s strong grip was still on her, and he kept her steady on her feet.
“Are you okay? I think you better sit down here,” he said.
The voice made its way into her perception, and she couldn’t suppress the relief that flooded her. His voice had always had such power over her.
He still hasn’t recognised me.
She’d changed a lot in the past decade, and with her head still bent forward, her hair shielded her face. She wanted to escape. She wanted to close her eyes, and then open them to find it had all been a dream. Or a nightmare.
But this was real, and how long could she remain incognito? Lara swallowed painfully. Of all the people from her past, fate had had to choose that precise person to shove along her path.
All of this battled inside her mind as she allowed him to lead her to a sofa. After having lowered her into her seat with extreme care and gentleness, her saviour sat down next to her, turning to face her profile. The movement triggered the air to move around him, and the smell of his aftershave—fresh, spicy, and very elusive—filled her nostrils and made its way into her foggy mind.
He still smells the same. Like a cool sea breeze wafting through the unique musk of a man’s warm skin.
Lara took a deep breath and gathered her courage. She would have to face him sooner or later. A part of her had always known she ran the risk of coming across him on the island. She’d preferred to hide from the probability, but she couldn’t run anymore.
So she lifted her head. A frown marred the wide forehead on the face she encountered. As devastatingly handsome as ever. Or maybe, even more than ever. His features were arresting, masculine, adult. No longer those of a teenager.
Her mouth went dry again, and her heart beat faster when the straight line of his lips broke into a large smile a few seconds later. His eyes lit up as well, and widened.
“I’ll be damned! Lara? Is it really you?” he asked, switching effortlessly to English.
She forced a smile and took a deep breath. “Hello, Eric. How are you?”

***end of excerpt***


Buy Now from the following outlets!

Amazon US (Ebook & Print) ~ Amazon UK ~ Amazon CA (ebook & Print) ~ Barnes & Noble (Nook & Paperback) ~ Smashwords ~ Kobo ~ AllRomance Ebooks ~ Decadent (ebook) ~ Decadent (Paperback) ~ Kalahari (Paperback)


Find more about Zee at her blog/website!

~~~~~

From Mauritius with love,

Zee

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Writing for an Anthology


I've wanted to write for an anthology for so long and when the call came out on the Astraea Press Author Facebook Group to write a short story for a Valentine anthology, I was super-excited and very nervous. I'm not too great at writing short stories. I've entered countless competitions for them and none have succeeded. Short stories are very different to novels. You can't put in all the detail, background and plot that you can for a full-length or even novella. Every word, speech and thought should be tight and communicate much. The story has to have impact somehow. It has to convey a message even though short. Or touch the heart deeply. Even make the reader laugh or ponder afterwards.

I loved the topic for the anthology and kept on looking at my engagement ring. That inspired the story, The Engagement Ring.

What was scary, is we weren't guaranteed that our story would be chosen. I knew I was up against stiff competition. I've read some Astraea Press books. I've been blown away by the wonderful stories - unique and out of the box.

Well, I was over the moon when I received my contract. Hooray for South Africa and our continent!

I think the biggest lesson I'm learning from this anthology is about promo. The other authors are so clued up about ways to promote the book and I'm learning tons from them. They're also so pro-active and motivated which is something I need to work on with marketing.

Considering writing for an anthology? I think it's a great idea. People who buy the book to read their favourite authors, will also read your story. It's short, so they'll be willing to try it. They may become an instant fan. There's a team effort with promotion - the book gets a much wider exposure.

The camaraderie of working with a team of authors has been such fun and made all the work worthwhile.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book over the weekend. There were some amazing stories in it and such a variation of interpretations of the theme, different writing styles, and settings. I'm not just saying this, but it would make an awesome Valentine's Day weekend read.

Today, we have started a blog hop for the anthology where you can win book bundles and other prizes. Here's the link to the first stop for the blog hop where you will learn what to do to win these prizes:

Scavenger Hunt Blog Hop

You can buy Love and Diamonds here: Amazon



Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Picasso anyone?


FreeDigitalPhotos.net
I have an appreciation for priceless artifacts in the same way that I appreciate shoes. I admire them from a distance but seldom indulge in them. (Sorry, shoe lovers but as I’m permanently on the go with small kiddies, I need simple, practical flats! I'll stick to admiring yours!) As for the art, read on ...

My latest book, Cat Got Your Tongue?, consists of hot romance interweaved between a world of cat burglars and art heists. I had so much fun writing this story but as my knowledge of art and the theft thereof is fairly limited, writing this book involved a lot of research.

I soon realized that there are a variety of art collectors with an eye for art work from different artists and eras. As my hero is a billionaire with an art fetish for works by renowned artists like Degas, Monet, Picasso, Renoir etc, I focused my research mostly around the sales and theft of antique art from as early as the 18th century.

I was surprised to discover that art theft is a thriving industry with an estimated annual loss running in the billions and not something that only happens in the movies. Museums and private owners are both targets and go to great lengths to protect their art. But what surprised me most was the value attached to these paintings. Clearly, there are many enthusiastic collectors with monster wallets and a desire to possess the most prized artwork.

One of my favourite auction events is the sale of Picasso’s painting of his mistress, Marie Therese Walter. The painting, Nude, Green Leaves and Bust, sold on auction at Christies in 2010 for $106 million dollars. Wow.

To top that off, another gorgeous masterpiece went up for sale at Sotheby’s two years later. Edvard Munch’s The Scream sold for $120 million dollars. Double wow! (That's a lot of shoes! Just think of all the books we need to sell to afford that!)

The Scream has been the target of several thefts and theft attempts. Not surprising considering its value. Two gorgeous paintings that are icons in the art world, with a combined value of over $200 million dollars ... I bet there are a few art thieves itching to relieve these collectors of their magnificent paintings.

Hm, makes for a fascinating new story, don’t you think?

I’m on it!

Thanks for reading.

Rae Rivers
www.raerivers.com

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Excerpt from Unbound - Wanton Witches Book 1

Staid and straitlaced Michelle Stein has two thoughts fueling her mind… 
1. Floor the first man to walk into her antique shop.
2. Throttle her three witch-practicing aunts. 
They promised her a tiny spell to fix her ridiculous inhibitions, but instead mischievously delivered a full-blown, sanity-squashing lust spell. The temporary curse apparently has no boundaries, either…since the first man who walks through her door is the same man who broke her heart ten years ago. 
Despite Michelle’s vociferous resistance, Sebastian becomes the only man who can appease her unending physical hunger.

Thirty, heirless and restless, Sebastian Gray is drawn back home to Cape Town to claim the only girl he ever loved. What he finds in her place is a hotly bewitched erotic seductress. 
Now with the reparation spell her aunts cast gone awry, Sebastian might be on the losing end of a futile battle against a strength-ascending hex, no matter how hard he tries to keep Michelle satiated, alive…or even just human.


EXCERPT:

She wobbled out of her office to the entrance of the store. Pressing her legs together, she chewed her lip in agony as the slightest movement ricocheted spasms of pleasure through her body. Her eyes fixed on the gold-plated sign hanging on the inside of the glass door meters away from her. Her mission to flip it around and keep out any possible victims until the crazy her aunts bestowed upon her evaporated.

Too late.

The door swung open. Eighteenth-century chimes hanging from the paneled ceiling danced in the afternoon breeze. Their former melodious jingle a sex-alert siren in her ear now.

She zeroed in on a musky scent mingled with the clean, self-assured aroma of pure red-blooded male. Her senses hummed. She licked her lips then swerved to a dead halt.

Bedeviled with the worst kind of heat known to any man, woman or animal for that matter, and who chose to walk into her ordinarily sedate but presently doggoned world?

Sebastian Gray.

He who broke her heart in two.

“Glitterbug.” His gravel-and-silk voice spiked and inebriated her nerves. She tore her gaze away from his killer smile and stared into his wicked green-tinged blue eyes, which teased her the same way they did ten years ago.

Only one thought shot through her mind.

Oh dear, I’m going to molest Sebastian Gray.

She stepped back—her restless hands crossed over her breasts, curled around her neck and intertwined behind her in a clammy mess. She squelched the incoherent reverberations tickling against her closed lips, afraid she’d growl at him instead.

She backtracked into her office. He followed her, his stride unhurried, lazy, unaware of the red-hot danger he seemed intent on pursuing. She held up her hand. Cease! her palm screamed at him. He closed in, his eyes narrowing at her fidgety silence.

“Glitterbug?”

The part of her wanting to keep him out of her office died in distress. The other part, the part her aunts had concocted wicked mischief with, purred with glee. She’d managed to lure her prey into the confined space of her office.


No, he is not your prey.

Available at