Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The deadline is approaching for Angela Knight's August onlline writing class

If you're interested, I'm teaching my next online class beginning in August for the Kiss of Death chapter of RWA. It costs $30 for non-members of the chapter. You don't need to be a member of RWA or Kiss of Death, though KOD members only have to pay $15. You need to sign up by July 27, 2008 to get in. You pay via paypal. There will be thirteen lessons, presented on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. You can find the class here:

To participate, you'll be sent a link to the class's yahoo group after you give your paypal payment. There is no set time or chatroom involved. You read the lessons and ask questions via e-mail, which I also answer via e-mail. You will also be able to download the lessons to your computer from the files section of the group and keep them.

Please note that I have presented "Dangerously Sexy: Putting Heat As Well As Danger in Your Romantic Suspense" before. However, I'm going to do a rewrite on it, and probably add some material to boot. And I will answer questions, which can be asked anytime, not just on days I'm giving the lesson.

Here's the Introduction of the class as a sample:

Dangerously Sexy: An Introduction

First, I'd like to thank you for signing up for my Kiss of Death class, "Dangerously Sexy: Putting Heat as Well as Danger in your Romantic Suspense." I hope you find it as useful and informative as the KOD classes I've taken since myself.

Putting sizzle in your romantic suspense is a topic I'm definitely familiar with. I'm the author of eight novels and more then twenty novellas that incorporate a blend of erotic romance and suspense. The combination has been an effective one for me. My books have hit a number of bestseller lists, including USA Today and Publisher's Weekly. My last novel, Warrior, is a New York Times bestseller.

This, however, is not a class on writing erotic romance. My intent here is to help you learn to use sensuality and sexuality - which are not the same thing - to give your romantic suspense more realism and power.

Sex is enormously powerful in human relationships, but it's often dismissed by romance writers as annoying and boring to write.

There are a couple of reasons for this. One is that we've all heard our genre dismissed as soft core porn for women. There's a temptation to say "But our books are not really about sex." Actually, it would be more accurate to say that they're about a lot more than sex. Sex is an inextricable part of romance, because like it or not, all romantic relationships are at their core sexual. If you ignore that dimension of your characters' relationship, you deny yourself and the reader key scenes of character interaction and development that are integral to the romance.

Another factor is that writers sometimes dislike writing sex because they're not comfortable with it. They've been taught that "good girls DON'T." But to pull off a good sex scene, you have to be totally honest in portraying the act of love in all its passion. That means revealing that you and your heroine DO like sex, and that can be really frightening. After all, you're talking about something very private, which you may have been taught not to discuss at all. What if people think you're kinky? What if – Oh, GOD – your mother, kids or preacher reads your book?

Thus it's often emotionally safer for writers to write one really mechanical love scene where the characters have sex in the missionary position for three pages with as little sexual detail as possible. No wonder people hate writing scenes like that.

The key is, don't worry about what this scene says about you. Hard as this might be to believe, it's not about you – it's about the COUPLE. How do THEY experience making love? Be honest. Do you really think this passionate, gorgeous, heroic young couple is going to thrust at each other three times in the dark, climax, and then roll over and go to sleep? A scene like that cheats the readers, the romance – and YOU, as an artist.

So tell it like it REALLY is.

Real artists take risks, folks. Great artists are brutally honest about what their characters feel, whether or not it's politically correct, whether or not Mother and the kids like it. If you're worried about it, do what I did: make a deal with Mother and the kids. "My books have scenes that are sexually explicit. I don't feel comfortable with you reading them." I pretty much guarantee that neither your mother or your kids WANT to read any sex scene you've written. Mine don't.

If you're really paranoid, use a pen name and refuse to tell anybody what it is. I did that too for a while.

But no matter what solution you arrive at, have the guts to show your characters' passion in all its emotional intensity. It's not easy, but if you really want to write a book that blows away readers and editors alike, that's what you have to do.

Which is why the porn accusation never fails to irritate me. As I've said more than once, "If it was nothing but porn, I wouldn't have to work so hard at it."

My objective in these classes is to demonstrate the techniques of writing deliciously romantic sexual encounters that also advance plot and characterization.

In our next three classes I will discuss the creation and motivation of heroes, heroines and villains and their respective attitudes toward sexuality. How can you construct these characters to maximize conflict?

Next we'll talk about creating a strong romantic suspense plot while simultaneously motivating sex and romance believably. After all, thinking about sex when someone's shooting at you is a little dumb.

In week three, we'll talk about the nuts and bolts of writing a highly sensual love scene. We'll explore ways to build romantic conflict during love scenes, and we'll dissect a love scene to see what makes it work.

In week four, we'll discuss language - just what do we call all these body parts anyway? We'll also talk about violence and sex - how far is too far? And finally, we'll look at building a believable Happily Ever After ending that pays off everything that went before.

Feel free to ask questions. I will be more than happy to answer, or at the very least, find an answer for you.

Angela Knight

Sunday, July 13, 2008


Thought I'd share a little about how things have changed on the TIME HUNTERS series. I had originally intended to do five books, but I developed a killer case of writer's block, and realized it was because I couldn't figure out how to plot that many books. So now it's going to be a three book series instead.

If you've read WARRIOR, you know that I included the first chapter of a new book called ENFORCER. As it happens, I couldn't get that book off the ground no matter what I did. Just wasn't working. And I was pulling my hair out.

About the same time I was struggling with that, my gallbladder went south. It's a side effect of gastric bypass, basically. The gallbladder stores gall for use when you eat fatty foods. If you don't eat much fat, the gall hangs out and turns into stones. Which then get shot out when you eat something like a hamburger. This is excruciating. First time it happened, I honest to God thought I was having a heart attack. My surgeon told me I was going to have to have the gallbladder out. I didn't much want to do that, but after five or six attacks in the course of a month, I decided pain sux. So out it came.

Now, I had to go on hydrocodone, (AKA Vicodin or Loratab.) First because of the pain of those damn stones, then because of the surgery, which HURT, then because my back went out because I was favoring my abdominal muscles.

(By the way, I developed a thankfully brief addiction to that shit, which I kicked by going cold turkey as soon as I realized I was hooked. Jesus, that was scary. DO NOT TAKE THAT CRAP one second longer than you have to. It's evil. Getting off it was no fun, either. The first three days I was miserable, because I craved the damn stuff so BAD. But I refused to get the prescription refilled, and now the craving is, thank God, gone.)

But while I was floating in my fluffy pink hydrocodone fog, Nick Wyatt came to call. Nick is absolutely the sexiest freaking hero I think I've ever created. He's half Xeran (Yes, the evil bad guys in the series) and he has cool psychic powers. To be honest, he was inspired more than a little by Jim Butcher's Harry Dresden, except sexier. HA!

Thing was, I knew he wasn't the hero of ENFORCER. I also knew that if I put him in ENFORCER -- and I tried -- he would take the book right over. He was that hot. So I talked to Cindy Hwang, my editor goddess. Somewhat to my surprise, she told me to drop ENFORCER and do Nick's book next. ENFORCER will be the third book; Dona and Alerio will get their story, just not the way I originally planned it.

So now I'm writing GUARDIAN, which stars Nick and Riane Arvid, Jane and Baran's daughter. (Jane and Baran being the couple from JANE'S WARLORD.) I am really stoked about this book, and I think the fans are going to love Nick. I'm already in love with him.

In other news -- WARRIOR made the New York Times list! I am SO excited. Oh, yeah! Doing the dance of joy!

Anyway, wish me luck on GUARDIAN. Thanks!

Angela Knight