Monthly Archives: November 2014

Why Heroines Need Journeys Too

Heroines NeedIt’s probably safe to say that most writers are familiar with the Hero’s Journey,  or some variation.

Years ago I read  “The Writer’s Journey: Mythic Structure For Writers” by Christopher Vogler, which is based on Joseph Campbell’s work (and described in his book, The Hero with a Thousand Faces).

But it wasn’t until I took a mythology class with Susan Sipal, that I discovered that the Hero’s Journey wasn’t the only story. Actually, there is a feminine version and its based on the story of the Sumerian goddess, Inanna, an epic that describes her descent into the underworld.

Writers have used the archetypes in Inanna’s story to map out a Heroine’s Journey.  Victoria Lynn Schmidt did that in her book, “Story Structure Architect.”

Stages of the Heroine’s Journey

1. Perfect World – the heroine’s everyday world
2. Realization/Betrayal – an inciting incident and decision point
3. Awakening: – decision to take the journey
4. Descent – the heroine faces her fears but can’t turn back
5. Eye of the Storm – tests and ordeals
6. The Death – an actual or symbolic death
7. Support – help comes, possibly from the larger community
8. Moment of Truth – rebirth and facing the biggest challenge
9. Full Circle – heroine returns to the perfect world with more self awareness

In the second book of my series, “Hathor Legacy: Burn,” I used the Heroine’s Journey to create a character arc for my heroine, Nadira.

She starts out in a perfect world (or so she thinks) as a Guardian on the planet Hathor. Then as she starts investigating a series of fires, she discovers information that’s been hidden from her. After a series of setbacks, she’s forced to accept that she needs support from others in order to solve the crimes and confront the conspirators.

Her journey isn’t just about dealing with the threats to the perfect world, but she has to come to terms with her own identity as well.

When she gets to the full circle stage, she has a different awareness of herself, her relationship with Jonathan Keel (the hero) and the Guardian organization that she’s a part of. That stage also provides a jumping off point for the next story in the series to begin.

The heroine’s journey is not so much about taking a quest to slay the dragon, as it is a journey within to face her deepest fears. By addressing her own needs and desires, she can come to terms with herself and her place in the larger community.

In book two, Nadira must come to terms with her vulnerability and her strength. All the while, she has to accept that, though she’s stronger than most of the Guardians, she can accept help and support when needed. 9275550146_784d7a0988_b

There are variations of the Heroine’s Journey, including a version in Kim Hudson’s book, “The Virgin’s Promise.” If you’re looking for an alternative to the Hero’s Journey (or want to read more about the archetypes) there are a number of resources that go into more detail. (Author Susan Sipal has a listing of workshops on her site.)

If you’d like to read more about Victoria Schmidt’s version, here’s the link to the post on the Sharper Stories site: http://sharperstories.wordpress.com/2013/04/06/the-feminine-and-masculine-journeys/

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(A version of this article originally appeared on the Science Fiction Romance Brigade blog.)

Behind the Mythology in the Hathor Legacy Series

431865017_451a0aeaab_bHathor is the planet of the Guardians and of the hero and heroine, Jonathan Keel and Nadira. The name of the planet is a perfect fit for the theme of the story. Hathor is an Egyptian goddess who symbolizes joy, love and motherhood.

In my books, mothers play a key role in shaping the events. Both Jonathan Keel and Nadira’s mothers rebelled against the established order of society.

Their rebellion ultimately led to Jonathan and Nadira getting together and falling in love, and that relationship will help shake things up in a culture that is controlled by Novacorp, the corporation that runs the planet.

The Egyptian goddess Hathor is also known as the “cow goddess,” and her symbol is a sun disk sitting between the horns of a cow. Novacorp’s U-shaped corporate logo is based on that symbol.

Since Hathor is also known as “Mistress of the West,” I had Jonathan’s mother be from that part of the planet. Hathor is the patron goddess of miners–-and mining is at the core of the Novacorp economy.6968297375_4af8f17649_b

Hathor’s mythology is similar to the goddess Isis, and over time a lot of their characteristics were merged. But Isis has her own story, and it inspired me to name the twin moons of Hathor, Isis and Osiris. This relates to the myth of Isis searching for her husband Osiris after his brother Set killed him to assume the throne.

There’s a lot more to Isis’ story that I won’t go into here, but I used the imagery to symbolize the journey that Nadira and Jon take when they’re searching for Jon’s father who’s presumed dead.

Jonathan Keel is from the planet Astarte, which is about three days away by space cruiser. Astarte is a goddess who’s also known as Ishtar. Known to the ancient Greeks and Egyptians, she was also associated with Aphrodite and Isis. Since she’s the goddess of love, it’s fitting that when Jon arrives on Hathor, he and Nadira are in a romantic relationship at the end of book one.

One of the moons of Astarte is Demeter (where Jon’s father is CEO of the mine). In Greek mythology, Demeter went into mourning when her daughter Persephone was taken away by Hades. This is a reference back to Nadira being taken away from her mother so that she could be made into a Guardian.

There’s a wealth of stories to be pulled from mythology, and we don’t have to limit our influences to Egyptian, Greek or Roman gods and goddesses. For instance, Nadira’s mother is named after Minona, a West African deity who protects women and the home. And in the books, Nadira’s mother takes action to protect Nadira from the forces that want to use her for their own purposes.

For the beach scene in Hathor Legacy: Burn, I referenced the deity, Yemanja when Jonathan describes seeing Nadira going into the water. Yemanja is an Orisha (a spirit reflecting a manifestation of God), originally of the Yoruba religion.

However, she’s also known as Yemayá in Santería. In Brazil, she’s “Queen of the Ocean,” and the patron deity of the fishermen and the survivors of shipwrecks.

There are countless stories from various cultures and belief systems around the world. When you’re looking for ideas, mythological characters and themes can provide a great deal of inspiration.

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The More the Merrier! Spicing Up Romances with Ménage

 UltimateNightsDelightsby Kelli Wilkins

Hi everyone,
I write romances in nearly every genre – historical, gay, contemporary, and paranormal – and each book varies in heat level from mild to super-spicy.

However, my historical/fantasy trilogy A Midsummer Night’s Delights, A Midwinter Night’s Delights, and Ultimate Night’s Delights are my only romances containing ménage scenes.

I didn’t let the historical setting deter me from writing some scorching-hot love scenes. Throughout history, people have loved and lusted after each other, regardless of social, political, or so-called “moral” rules. Forbidden romances and “kinky” behaviors aren’t new. Long ago, there were plenty of “sordid” affairs going on behind closed doors. People were having sex (in all sorts of combinations), but it wasn’t mentioned openly or discussed in proper social circles.

I thought about this and decided to write a romance (A Midsummer Night’s Delights) that addressed that “taboo”. It became the theme to the trilogy. (Basically, a respectable man in high society is running an invitation-only sex club for swingers.) These novellas gave readers who considered historical romances boring and stodgy a real shock!

A Midsummer Night’s Delights started out with a shy newlywed couple (Julian and Annabelle) exploring their hidden desires and soon blossomed into same-sex and ménage encounters. Why? They were ready to indulge in their wild fantasies.

Over the course of the books, Julian and Annabelle get to experiment, be naughty, and break from the norm without any guilt or worries. The threesomes liberate the characters and everyone leaves satisfied. Of course, as the trilogy continues, things get complicated.Delights 150

My ménage scenes are as varied as my characters. I write M/F/F, M/F/M, F/M/F, or any combination I can think of. The most common threesome I include is M/F/M. I often write these scenes from the female character’s point of view and show how she’s enjoying herself while being taken by two lovers.

But everyone gets “equal time” in my books. Sometimes a hero wants to be dominated and ravaged by two eager ladies, or a man and a woman, or….you get the idea.

As a writer, I can use ménage to explore my characters’ thoughts and motivations. A threesome can bring the hero and heroine closer together if it’s something they share as a couple (invite a friend over to “play”, or a wife gives her husband the gift of a threesome for his birthday). It can also give a single character a chance to break out of his or her shell and indulge in a secret fantasy, whether it’s a one-time thing or an ongoing activity.

It’s important that writers understand why the ménage is in the story and not just drop it in there. (You know, two girls are at home one night and the pizza man shows up…) Why do the characters do it? For fun? To have crazy sex? Rebellion? Revenge? Or is their reasoning deeper? Maybe they have the urge to control or be controlled. Or maybe it’s something else…MidwinterNightsDelights

Ménage can also be used as a plot device. Suppose a character becomes jealous after a ménage encounter. What if he (or she) starts stalking a member of the threesome? Maybe one partner loved the encounter and wants to do it again, but the other one has regrets or guilt.

What if someone is being blackmailed? Is the hero or heroine hiding a “shameful” threesome experience from a current lover who wouldn’t understand? Complications can arise, and authors can use ménage (whether it happened recently or in a character’s past) to add conflict and drama to the story.

Ménage adds a bit of spice to a story and can heat up a love scene with something unexpected, but keep in mind that not every reader is willing to “go there” with the author and the characters. Some readers are completely turned off by the idea of threesomes, others may only read certain ménage combinations, and then there are those who read super-hot books and delight in the ménage when it comes along.
Whatever your preference is, enjoy!
Happy Reading,
Kelli A. Wilkins

Kelli A. Wilkins is an award-winning author who has published more than 90 short stories, seventeen romance novels (for Medallion Press and Amber Quill Press), and four non-fiction books. Her romances span many genres and heat levels. Kelli had two historical romances debut in 2014. Wilderness Bride from Amber Quill Press: http://www.amberquill.com/store/p/1941-Wilderness-Bride.aspx and Dangerous Indenture from Medallion Press: http://medallionmediagroup.com/books/dangerous-indenture/.

Kelli publishes a blog: (http://kelliwilkinsauthor.blogspot.com) filled with excerpts, interviews, writing prompts, and whatever else pops into her head. She also writes a monthly newsletter, Kelli’s Quill, and posts on Facebook and Twitter. Kelli invites readers to visit her website, http://www.KelliWilkins.com to learn more about all of her writings.

Catch up with Kelli on the Web:
Website: http://www.KelliWilkins.com
Blog:  http://kelliwilkinsauthor.blogspot.com/
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Kelli-A.Wilkins/e/B001JSAB24/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1
Amber Quill Press Author page: http://amberquill.com/AmberHeat/bio_Wilkins.htmlhttp://www.amberquill.com/store/m/149-Kelli-A-Wilkins.aspx
Medallion Press Author Page: http://medallionmediagroup.com/author/kelli-wilkins/
Twitter: http://www.Twitter.com/KWilkinsauthor
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1123678.Kelli_A_Wilkins
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/kelli.wilkins1

Pangaea: Eden’s Planet by Tom Johnson

New Pangaea1Pangaea: Eden’s Planet was a concept I came up with several years ago while looking for a possible book proposal to submit to Hollywood Studios. Yes, I’ve submitted several proposals without success yet, but I keep trying. I’ve actually gone through two agents that were not hungry enough to sell my books to Hollywood.

Basically, Pangaea: Eden’s Planet is a character-driven novel and focuses on seven astronauts on a mission to Mars to begin a terra-farming project after a nuclear war on Earth.

But problems arise when they enter a space anomaly that disables their ship, sending them back in time. The planet’s gravity pulls them back to Earth, where they crash land on an alien world 250 million years in the past.

Their mission now turns into a survival situation, as fierce reptiles of the Permian Period, as well as explosive nature, endangers their very lives.

The seven astronauts are scientists in special fields that will be needed to fulfill their mission on Mars. This includes Colonel Evelyn Peterson and Major Adam Cooper, the pilots of Galileo Two; Colonel Peterson is the leader of the mission, the major is her second in command. I gave each character individual personalities.

The subplot was a romance building between Peterson and Cooper. When I first conceived the story, Evelyn was black and Cooper white, which I figured would be one of the problems keeping them apart, but later I changed my mind about pursuing this element of the story, and dropped all reference to her race. After all, her responsibility of keeping those under her command alive in a harsh environment is concern enough. Besides, in the 21st Century race should no longer be a stumbling block to romance.

My love of biology and study of paleontology and other zoological areas of science has always been a driving force in my writing. In Pangaea: Eden’s Planet, I fill my world with known creatures from the period, as well as a few from my own imagination.

Sixty million years before the dawn of the dinosaurs, there were still predators as menacing as T-Rex. Colonel Peterson and Major Cooper were the only ones armed, and that consisted of small caliber pistols, each holding 15-round clips of ammunitions, and they were faced by incredible odds.

Their survival would require ingenuity and fearlessness. We have seven people alone in a world of fierce reptiles, volcanic activity, and danger from the heavens. But yet love will also find a way.

Readers that enjoy a story with action and danger, with a light touch of romantic tease will find Pangaea: Eden’s Planet a work of fiction both entertaining and, hopefully, memorable.Tom's Back Cover Picture

There is drama and humor as the characters face each situation, good and bad, with the knowledge that life or death could be ahead of them. Their survival may depend on their next action. You will find laughter at times, and cry at others, but I believe you will come to know and love the characters, whatever their faults might be. Happy reading.

Where to find author Tom Johnson on the web:

Blog http://jurnovels.blogspot.com
Website http://www15.brinkster.com/jur1/index.html

Where to buy Pangaea: Eden’s Planet:

First Realm Publishing
http://www.firstrealmpublishing.com/pangaea-eden-s-planet

Amazon
http://www.amazon.com/Pangaea-Edens-Planet-Tom-Johnson-ebook/dp/B00L9A7SAU/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1415551384&sr=1-1&keywords=pangaea%3A+eden%27s+planet+by+tom+johnson

 

Why I Love Writing Science Fiction

6473906493_637a5f822c_bMy love for science fiction started when I was a young girl watching Star Trek and the Twilight Zone. Stories about aliens and space exploration always caught my attention.

I’ve also got a rather large comic book collection stashed away, with my favorites being Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman (and just about anyone else with a flashy costume and superpowers). So, it wasn’t hard for me to imagine my own characters and to put them into stories.

When I started writing my book, “Hathor Legacy: Outcast,” I knew it was going to be set somewhere in another solar system. Though I didn’t know exactly where! As I worked on it, the history of the planet unfolded and the pieces came together.

In my story, the planet has been colonized by settlers from Earth. After many generations, they developed psychic abilities. These powers allow them to read minds and move objects by using energy from their bodies.

With science fiction, the story elements should be probable and not magical. My heroine has psychic powers–which to some people may seem very unscientific. But then again, is it really?

Depending on which studies you read, maybe not. For instance, if you look at the theories about alternate universes, or time travel–there are a lot of things that might sound like fantasy, but are accepted by the scientific community.

In my story, the characters use aircars. Sounds very futuristic, doesn’t it? Well, I recently saw a story about an aircar prototype. You can fly it, and drive it home after you land. So science fiction becomes fact rather quickly these days.

Readers can see themselves on a spaceship bound for Mars, or in a future settlement on a faraway planet. They can fall in love, encounter alien visitors, or try to survive in a future dystopia.

Sure, a lot of science fiction stories focus on science and technology, but that doesn’t mean they can’t also be fun, sexy and full of adventure.

This post originally appeared on The Reading Addict.

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