Rootin’ N’ Tootin’ with Paisley Kirkpatrick

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Writing romance is like shooting the wings off a gnat at 40 paces. Sometimes you’re Annie Oakley and always hit the  mark, but most of the time you’re that crazy prospector that nobody really understands what he’s saying.  Writing is a hit and miss business — a spent cartridge at times; a fiery blast of awesome at others. What we can never forget is that quitting is never acceptable.

 

Think about the miners who left their families and traveled across this country in search of the elusive gold. It was hard, back-breaking work day after day without any conveniences. It took perseverance and a dream to find the nugget or vein of gold. It’s a waste of time if your dream is mediocre…go for the big one, the one you think is out of your reach. When you catch it, the reward is beyond your wildest imagination.

 

Twenty-three years ago I dreamed my dream. I never gave up because it wasn’t something I could do. I wanted to write a book. I had to write a book. Every day as I traveled down the mountain to work, my story ran through my head like a movie. When it was complete, I sat for ten hours and wrote it from beginning to end. I finally had my story, now I had to learn the proper way to present it.

 

I had no idea what kind of journey I’d travel. How many detours and dead ends I’d run into. I also had no idea how stubborn I am. I always knew my Mother was stubborn. You know — that good old Scottish dig-in kind of stubbornness. Over the years I perfected it to a science. I would not give up no matter how many judges gut-punched me in contests or how many rejections filled my wastebasket. I had a dream and it would never come true if I quit.

 

Looking back over the years I can honestly say the journey was the best part of getting published. We had some devastating years and roadblocks. I almost lost my way, but my friends held out their hands and led me back. I changed my target – my goal if you wish. I focused on writing the best story I could write and turned the negative into the positive. Writing became fun again. I wrote a second story, a third, and then a fourth. Now I am writing my fifth. Ideas and words come a lot easier with experience under my belt.

 

I found inspiration in my great, great grandfather’s handwritten journal written while he traveled from Missouri to California in 1849 on a wagon train. The makin’ of this great country came from great, strong pioneers. They lent their strength to its beginning. If we pay attention and look around, we can learn from what they left us. We are a strong and proud people. Their pioneer spirit never ceases to amaze me and I love expressing a small part of it in my stories.

 

It’s time for me to say ”Head ’em up. Move ’em out!” But before I head dem doggies on out, let me leave you with a bit on my second book in the Paradise Pines Series, the Marriage Bargain to chaw on.

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PARADISE PINES SERIES

 

I have five books in the Paradise Pines Series. Book one is Night Angel. It tells the tale of Amalie Benjamin, the oldest of the three Benjamin sisters when she arrives in the mountain community of Paradise Pines. Marriage Bargain is based on the adventures of the middle sister traveling west on a wagon train. Darrah Benjamin is a jilted bride who unknowingly enters a marriage of convenience with the man who left her at the altar.

 

EXCERPT:

 

Dear God, I need help, and I need it now.

She had no idea where she was. What direction they traveled. A movement across a clearing caught her attention. She stole a quick glance at the rider bearing down on her at a full gallop. Hair, as dark as the charger he controlled, whipped about his broad shoulders. His posture on the bareback mount gave credence to his power and confidence. He rode alongside her and stretched out his hand. She lashed at him with the ends of the reins.

He wrapped a strong arm around her waist and hauled her out of the saddle. She landed prone across the shoulders of his stallion, gasping for breath. Flailing for something, anything solid to grab onto, her hand knocked against the slick fabric of his pant leg. His arm clamped around her waist, pulling her secure against him.

The enormous black horse slid across the muddy ground to a stop. Darrah slipped to the forest floor, thankful to be on firm ground again. She flipped the tangled mess of curls enmeshed with twigs and leaves out of her eyes. Rain and wind whipped across her face as she stared into probing dark eyes.

“How dare you take such liberties with me?”

“A bit ungrateful, aren’t you?” The brim of his dark hat tipped low, blocking a better view of his face. “Did I hurt you?”

She shook her head.

“You’re all right then?”

She drew in deep gasps of air. Straightening her bodice and skirt the best she could, Darrah nodded. “Yes.”

He leaned closer. “Take my hand. I have shelter.”

Common sense urged her to use caution. She didn’t want to act ungrateful after he’d come to her aid, but who was this man appearing out of nowhere? Her father could have sent him to bring her home. She ignored his command and took a couple of steps backward.

He moved his restless mount forward, blocking any attempt to flee. “Don’t be foolish. Take my hand and step on my boot so we can get out of here.”

Darrah drew herself up to her full five feet eight inches and slapped his hand away. “I’m not going anywhere with you.”

A brilliant shaft of lightning struck a nearby tree, followed by a massive crack of thunder. Acrid smoke permeated the air. Prickles ran through both her hands and feet as every hair on her rigid body stood straight on end.

He extended his hand again.

Staring into the surrounding woods in frustration, her heart thumped rapidly. The forces of nature pounded in furious frenzy, whipping, tearing at her resolve. Without a horse, there was no way of escaping the storm. She thrust a near-frozen hand into his strong grasp and placed her boot on top of his.

Without an ounce of strain, he lifted and placed her upright in front of him. In full command of the animal, he turned the powerful stallion and headed back through the woods from where he’d come. His right arm enveloped her waist, forcing her against his solid chest while he maintained an equally tight grip on the reins.

She shivered, all too aware of the power the stranger possessed.    

 

 

 

Website: http://www.paisleykirkpatrick.com/

 

Where to buy Marriage Bargain:

 

http://www.desertbreezepublishing.com/paradise-pines-the-marriage-bargain-epub/  

 

http://www.amazon.com/Paradise-Pines-Book-Two-ebook/dp/B00BXQNPZ2/ref=sr_1_3?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1363882709&sr=1-3&keywords=paisley+kirkpatrick  

 

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/paradise-pines-book-two-paisley-kirkpatrick/1114876203?ean=2940016273693

 

Where to buy Night Angel:

 

http://www.desertbreezepublishing.com/paradise-pines-night-angel-epub/

 

http://www.amazon.com/Paradise-Pines-Book-One-ebook/dp/B00909PON0/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1362888498&sr=1-1&keywords=paisley+kirkpatrick

 

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/paradise-pines-book-one-paisley-kirkpatrick/1112576086?ean=2940014889667

 

 

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Anatomy of a WiP

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As I sat around thinking to myself what am I going to blog about this week, an idea came to me. I’m always being asked two questions when people find out I’m a writer. The first being, where do you come up with your ideas, and the second one always seems to be… So, how do you…uh…write?

 

Both of those are good questions. I’ve covered the ideas thing already, but both are so closely intertwined it’s hard to blab on about one without talking about the other. I could generalize the whole process but decided to explain my writing process using my current work in process, Bite Mark Books Two: Bite the Neck that Loves You. So, you’re entering the book from the beginning. For those of you who have been with me since Love Bites came out, this may be a treat, or it could turn you off the series completely. Either way, here goes.

 

First, I have to get into the mindset of whichever series I’m working on. This is scary but currently I’ve got five series going. True some of them are interconnected in my created universe, but each of the series are defined by the boundaries of the characters and the story already set in play. It takes a lot to take your head out of a female werewolf’s mind and toss it into a Vampire’s. The same is true for writing in first person and switching it into third. Feel free to ask my editor how many times I’ve done it and she’s had to write me nicely worded comments on the subject.

 

Okay, let’s assume I’ve switched gears and am ready to begin writing. I’ve just finished Scrolls of Eternity, a superhero young adult book. It was written in third person, so I’ve got my first person hat on.  That means I must be ready to start work. Right?

 

No. before I begin any book, I’ve got to have my hero and heroine firmly set in my head. Especially, my heroine! The entire book is coming directly through her eyes. Luckily, the whole series is already plotted– a new concept for me. But, being me, I’ve already complicated things. Toward the end of Bite the One You’re With, I discovered that the book that was originally book three needed to be book two. Sucks to be me. On the bright side, I already have an outline and my two main characters, so I’m still good.

 

Wait! Where do these two dude and dudettes come from?

 

Good question. Who asked that? Oh, it doesn’t matter. Franki, or Francesca, was an addition to the Love Bites mythos in Bite Marks Book One, and is based loosely– my lawyer made me say that — on a friend of mine. Huh? So, you’re just ripping off people’s lives and throwing them into your books? No, it isn’t like that at all. For me getting into the minds of my characters, I need to know who they are. Love them completely, as I do my friends, so I tend to picture my friends when I craft a character. If you’re a writer, or thinking about becoming one, that should be lesson one.

 

Rule 1: Know thy character so completely they should become as real as possible.

 

On a side note, this asking and answering my own questions, is starting to give me a split personality complex. That last bit aside, once you’ve established who you’re writing, it helps you come to grips with how they’re going to react to the situations you’re about to throw at them. And, am I ever going to throw some crap at them.

 

Back to my hero, now. Alexandre is based on another friend of mine. I also knew I wanted him to be a musketeer. Why? Because my favorite fictional book of all time is The Three Musketeers, in no small part to the movie of the same title staring the incomparable Michael York. The best version of the movie ever if you ask me.

 

Come on! Basing a character solely on that seems silly. Silly it might be, but it gives me the qualities I saw in Alex when I thought of him for this book. Nobility, honor and a higher sense of duty. This time around I actually wanted a knight in shining armor as my hero. Of course, there’s no armor, but you get the idea.

 

Having characters before I even begin thinking about a plot or what the book is even about might sound funny to some of you. To me, doing it any other way is backwards.  If you don’t have a complete sense of your characters, it doesn’t matter how great a story is, your readers won’t empathize with your hero and heroine. They can’t.

 

Before I even thought about my book, I knew Franki. I knew her strengths, her faults and most importantly the pain that drove her. I also knew that Alexandre was the only one who could drive that pain away, and make her realize that pain doesn’t define who you are, overcoming it does. Same with Alexandre. I knew exactly who he was.

 

That in no way means, I don’t get thrown for loops. Just because you know a character, that in no way means you KNOW them. Like real people, though they assure me they are real, a character will grow through the course of you writing a book. They’ll evolve as the situations change them. We grow as we go through life from the experiences we endure and overcome. Some of that bleeds into the lives of our characters.

 

Rule 2: We write what we know!

 

You’ve probably heard that before, but it’s no less true. I know I’m writing about vampires, werewolves, and what have you, but the STORY is anchored in the real world. I could easily make this a historical, a science fiction or contemporary novel. Okay, maybe not easily, but it could be done. My characters are who they are because of who they are, not because they happen to suck blood to survive. You may begin reading because it’s a vampire romance, but you stay reading because the character becomes a friend to you. You care what happens to them. You root for them to survive the insanity the author — in this case, me — puts them through. If I’m good at what I do, you forget they’re vampires and see them only as Franki and Alex. Unless you really want them to be Vampire Franki and Vampire Alex, then it’s still cool. They multi-task like that.

 

We now have our main characters. Now, we can move onto story, plot, and… Uh, yes. Excuse me, but it appears someone from the peanut gallery needs a word.

 

 Sorry, my split personality just informed me I forgot secondary characters, villains and assorted nastiness of that sort. In Bite the Neck that Loves You, most of the above mentioned has been set in place already. I shamelessly, ripped off family and friends to make them to, so you can use the pattern for Franki and Alex to figure them out. Bite Marks Two, will have some new characters introduced.

 

This brings up an interesting question. Why do authors introduce all these characters? Simple answer. We want to. Simple answer 2. To give us fodder to continue our dreams. The Love Bites/ Bite Marks/ and whatever part three is called story needs characters to drive the underlying plot that will eventually come to a satisfying end. Another reason is the real world is full of people with rich and varied backgrounds. What would a fictional world be like with the same sort of people living in it? Boring! That’s what. I’m not saying every character you see in my books will eventually get their own book, but with them around my world is deeper. It isn’t flat. It’s well rounded and hopefully fun.

 

Well, that ends part one of this Blog series. Please return next week as I — we — bring you the beauty that is plot. Sorry, about that WE but apparently split personalities now expect recognition for being there.

 

Til next week, Happy Reading!

Old hippie?

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When did I become an old hippie? Was it too much Bellamy Brothers as a child? Not sure, but it bears investigation. At 44 I don’t consider myself old, or a hippie. Being from the south I’m not sure that’s even possible. Redneck, maybe, but Hippie? Yet two days ago I traded off my pure bred American hunk of Detroit muscle car off for a Prius of all things. Granted in this time of high gas prices, I could be called pretty smart. It does get 50 mpg.

 

As I sat there waiting for the paperwork to sit in front of me, my life flashed before my eyes. Was I some old hippie? No, but I was growing up. Sure after being a father, you’d have thought it would have already happened, but most of the fun of being a parent is being able to be a kid again with your kids. I was always a sports car type of guy. My first car was a Celica, not sure it that counts as one, but it was sporty. Then, I moved on to a Z-28. Through the years, I’ve stuck to that mold when it came to vehicles.

 

What does any of this have to do with being an author? Because, that’s what I am, and normally, what this blog is about. Here’s the deal. When I first started writing, I went as fast as I could. Throwing sporty out like it was Mardi Gras beads. Seven years down the road, I see that sporty and flashy doesn’t cut it all the time.

 

With age, I’ve discovered that what you know, isn’t as important as what you allow yourself open to learning. At its root, that is what writing is. A learning experience. I hope that if you’ve read my books you can see the growth from those first hastily written stories, full of expectation and childlike wonder of the worlds unfolding in my head, to those today, where that wonder is still there but tempered with experience instead of expectation.

                                                        

Writing in the beginning was fun — a hobby. As are all things in our first steps down a road. Your editor beats you up a little bit because you’re the hard headed type, and you figure changing your ways is easier than applying ice bags to relieve pesky knots on the top of one’s head. As I’ve grown in my craft, I’ve learned one lesson above all others. When you stop learning, you’ve reached the end of the road. All that’s left to you is rehashing the same ideas until not even you want to read them.

 

So, what is growing up all about when you talk about writing? It’s about finding the balance between maturity and the exuberance of youth. It’s about getting excited about a new story while tempering it with the experiences that have brought you to the stage in your life where you can see the story in terms of layering in those experiences so you don’t just have a fast car that looks good from the outside. When you do that, what do you end up with?

 

Apparently, a Prius, but hey, you still end up at the same point, only you’ve got a chance to see the scenery without the blur getting in the way. Who knows? You just might see something worth writing about while you’re at it. Hey, stranger things have happened.

 

 

The Idea of It All

Some ideas are better than others.

 

For a writer those are more than just words to live by. They’re an unspoken curse that haunts us every day of our literary lives. I’m not sure why, but an idea that just screams ‘Use me, use me!’ in your head rarely plays out as well on the screen. For every, ‘Eureka! Moment’, you end up with a ‘What in the hell was I thinking?’ revelation when you slap that sucker down.

 

I’m not saying that’s always the case, but you can bet that with that MacBook you’ve had your eyes on, it happens more than Eureka is worth uttering. Now, that doesn’t mean those ideas don’t serve a purpose. Because, they do. They lengthen neural pathways to the glimmer of better ideas lurking behind that brick wall you’ve just hit as an author.

 

Sometimes writing is like a game of Pac Man. You’ve been thrown into a giant maze. As you run this way and that vainly hoping to avoid the ghost of writer’s block looming constantly over your head, you spot a flash of red and you race toward it. Sometimes, it’s a cherry. Sometimes it’s one of those ghosts tricking you into a wall. It’s up to you if you get trapped and eaten, or turn around to see a path toward a blinking banana. I’m partial to that getting eaten thing. At which point, I walk over to the Galaga machine and start a new game. But, that’s just me.

 

But, where do these ideas come from? That’s been one of the most asked questions I as an author have come up against. Where do you come up with this stuff? Are you on medication? Okay, that one has cropped up a bit too, but only after a person has read my books. To answer this question — the first one, not the second one — I think the simplest way is to start at the beginning.

 

Ideas are products of your environment. Sure, everyone blames environment for everything, but in this case it’s true. How you’re raised has a big influence on the way ideas come to you. Your family engrains certain morals, for lack of a better word, onto you. Growing up, you have two choices. Accept those ideals, or rebel against them. That’s it. Sure, most of us rebel only to discover around age 30 that crap, I’ve become my parents. Usually this involves telling our kids something in our parent’s voice. Yep, a true Linda Blair moment if there ever was one. Whatever path you pick, who you are is the result of those formative years. As are your thought processes, so ideas are rooted in where you came from.

 

Your friends are endless font of story ideas. Every person has that story, or a crap load of that stories. Whether its ‘Uncle Bob walking fifty miles in the snow to get to school’, or ‘Do you remember that time back in high school when we tipped that cow?’. Not that I would ever tip a cow, but you get the point. Our lives are made up of a lot of that stories. Some of us are just able to translate them from standing around talking about them, to twisting them into the written word. Some of them we may not even remember. They’re just stuff in our subconscious waiting for the right chance to jump out and become the basis for a book, or scene. Scary, isn’t it? Who knows what writer has used your stupidity for their livelihood.

 

So, I’ve covered family and friends. What’s left? Pop culture. How could I have forgotten that? We as humans, or whatever you consider yourself to be, are constantly inundated by different forms of media. Movies. Television. Books. You name it, someone will throw it at us. It’s also why some people write one thing, and others write another. Humans pick at an early age what they love and pretty much stick with it. We’re monogamous that way.

 

I grew up watching science fiction and fantasy, not to mention a ton of SitComs. I also read the same, plus anything I could get my hands on. That included such strange fare as Westerns and Classical Literature. You rarely see those influences in my work, but they’re there.  I was raised Catholic, so that seeps into my storytelling, as does my unshakeable faith in God. Granted my subject matter doesn’t lend itself to you knowing that. I know growing up I didn’t see many Vampires and Werewolves walking down the aisle during mass, but hey, they could have. I’m not one to say they didn’t, but I highly doubt fictional characters have time to go to church on Sunday, unless it’s because they’re deeply rooted in my head, which they are.

 

Every day, things happen. Some you may not even be aware of, but they give birth to ideas, dreams, or whatever else that strikes your fancy. Most people just shrug them off, but it takes a writer to embrace them, shape them and ultimately use them as fodder for your entertainment.

 

It is also why writers are inherently insane. It’s true. Normal people are content with the world around us. Writers come out of the gate saying normal isn’t good enough. I can do it better. Science Fiction writers show us the world that will be. Fantasy writers show us worlds that could have been. Historical authors show us the world that might have been. Non-fiction writers show us grains of truth among the might have beens. Romance writers? We show you all that only it’s wrapped in love.

 

It all starts with an idea. The better ideas result in finished books that you one day hold in your hands with an addicted glee. So, next time you’re off being normal consider this. That weird coworker in the next cubical over there, just might be stealing you for the greatest story ever told. Maybe, not, but you never know.