Ever gone to a party and no one showed up? That’s what happened to today’s guest blogger and I. We were told there was a chat we were supposed to be representing Samhain at way back in … January I think it was. Except we were the only ones there. No moderator showed up, no other authors, no readers … just us. Yup, even though I was buried under three foot of snow I could hear the crickets chirping. (Turned out someone gave us the wrong date and we were a week ahead of schedule.)
It wasn’t that bad because it gave me some time to get to know another (then) brand-new-to-Samhain author, Meg Benjamin. We’ve both had our first books release since then – my Private Property, and Meg’s Venus in Blue Jeans.
What I learned from Meg that night is that she’s a Texas girl and so she’s set her book in Texas hill country, in the fictional Konigsburg, Texas. We chatted a while, and we’ve kept in touch over the past six months. Meg’s sold a second book Wedding Bell Blues that will be released on July 21st. Her third, Be My Baby, releases in December. (she puts me to shame!)
Who knew you could find the love of your life at the wedding from hell…
Konigsburg, Book 2
Janie Dupree will do anything to make sure her best friend has the wedding of her dreams, even if it means relinquishing what every bridesmaid covets and never gets—the perfect maid-of-honor dress. Problem is, family drama as tangled as a clump of Texas prickly pear cactus threatens to send the skittish bride hopping aboard the elopement express.
Janie could use a hand, but the best man’s “help” is only making things worse.
Pete Toleffson just wants to get through his brother’s wedding and get back to his county attorney job in Des Moines. He never expected to be the engineer on a wedding train that’s derailing straight toward hell. Janie’s the kind of girl he’d like to get close to—but her self-induced role as “Miss Fix-It” is as infuriating as it is adorable.
If they can just fend off meddling parents, vindictive in-laws, spiteful ex-boyfriends, and a greyhound named Olive long enough to achieve matrimonial lift-off, maybe they can admit they’re head-over-heels in love.
Warning: Contains hot steamy sex, wedding-based cussing, drunken revelry, dart assaults, Momzillas, and the most beautiful bridesmaid dress ever.
(I love those Samhain warnings! I wish I could write them as well as Meg does.) But while writing these cussing sessions and drunken revelry, Meg’s discovered that there’s certain things she expects from her heroines. From all heroines. So say hi howdy to Meg Benjamin …
I just finished a thriller that made me want to throw my e-reader across the room. It’s part of a long-running series by an author I like (thus I’m not going to identify either author or book). However, at the climax of this particular book, the heroine has to make a decision about whether to go alone to a rendezvous with another character. Now although the author tries to make the clues fairly unobtrusive, only a really dim reader will not have figured out by that point that this particular character is actually the villain. Only a really dim reader, I should add, and the heroine, who’s still clueless. The heroine spends a few moments wondering if she should call her boyfriend the cop, but ultimately she decides he’d be too “protective,” and so she waltzes into the villain’s lair, still totally unaware that she’s walking into a trap.
Once I’d finished grinding my teeth, I flipped through the chapter in which the heroine is almost—but not quite—killed off, muttering imprecations. Because, you see, the only way the heroine could get into that situation is by being an idiot. Even if she hasn’t figured out that the villain is the villain, she knows something nasty is out there. Although the villain has specified no police, there’s no reason to think her boyfriend the cop couldn’t follow her without being detected. And her reason for not contacting her boyfriend is so flimsy that it defies logic. So the normally logical, intelligent heroine suddenly behaves like an idiot for the sole purpose of putting herself in jeopardy. That, my friends, is lousy plotting!
The whole heroine-in-jeopardy plot is a true can of worms. I’ve done it myself—in Venus in Blue Jeans—and I really had to work hard to get Docia into a situation where she could legitimately be threatened. Wedding Bell Blues has less of a threat, but there’s a moment when the heroine is in danger in a parking lot, and I had to figure out how to get her there without having the hero at her elbow. Be My Baby, the third Konigsburg book (which is due out in December) has an even greater threat and again I had to spend a lot of time figuring out how a woman who already knows she’s in danger could end up in a situation where she’s in serious jeopardy.
If you’re doing the heroine-in-trouble thing, you have to come up with a plausible way for the heroine to be there in the first place, and the threat has to be substantial (there’s no real reason to send a heroine into minor jeopardy). In general, you have to come up with a plausible reason for the heroine to place herself in harm’s way without making the heroine’s choice seem idiotic. In other words, you’re trying to avoid the old “There’s a monster in the house, you stay here while I get help” plot.
Once upon a time, you could have had the hero rescue the heroine (and you still can, I guess, if the book is from the hero’s point of view). Now, well, not so much. Today’s heroine has to at least try to get herself out of the soup and that means you also need a plausible reason for the hero not to be around when she’s in danger. In Venus, I used the ever-popular lovers’ quarrel diversion, and that’s always a possibility, assuming you can do it without making either heroine or hero seem like a jerk. The hero can also be called away on real or bogus business; that is, he can be called away legitimately or called away by the villain in an attempt to separate him from the heroine. Or, most interestingly, you can have the hero come along and then be incapacitated, so that the heroine ends up rescuing him. Kathy Reichs does this in one of her best Temperance Brennan novels, Death Du Jour.
But here’s my point: if the heroine is standing outside Dracula’s castle, she’s got to have a good reason to go inside, assuming that’s what she does. Maybe she doesn’t know it’s Dracula’s castle and she needs help with something. Maybe she does know it’s Dracula’s castle and she figures, probably erroneously, that he’ll still be dozing in his coffin. Maybe she thinks someone she loves is in there and needs rescuing. Maybe she’s Buffy and has decided it’s time to take that sucker out. But what she can’t do is say, “Well, it’s Dracula’s castle all right, but I’ll be perfectly okay because nothing will happen to me.”
Or rather, she can say that, but if she does, she’s an idiot. And who wants to read about an idiot heroine?
So what do you think? What makes you buy into a heroine in jeopardy? Have you run into any really smart heroines lately (or even any idiots)?
Konigsburg, Book 1
Coming off a broken engagement to a lying charmer, all bookstore owner Docia Kent wants is a fling, not a long-term romance. And for her fabulously wealthy and fabulously nosy parents to butt out of her life for a while. The Texas Hill Country town of Konigsburg looks like the perfect place to get both. Especially when she gets a look at long, tall country vet Cal Toleffson.
Cal has other plans for Docia. One glance at the six-foot version of Botticelli’s Venus, and he knows he’s looking at the woman of his dreams. Now if he can just fend off the eccentric characters of Konigsburg long enough to convince her romance isn’t such a bad idea.
One night of mind-blowing sex isn’t the only thing that leaves them both stunned. With Docia’s bookstore under attack, Konigsburg suddenly doesn’t seem so welcoming. Once again she finds her trust tested—and is left wondering if she was ever meant to have a happily ever, after all.
Warning: Contains explicit sex, hot Texas nights, cool sarcastic friends, the world’s sweetest hero and the world’s saddest Chihuahua.
Normally I don’t put two excerpts into one post, but Meg is giving away a copy of one of her books (your choice) and I figured I’d save you some surfing … although you really should wander over to her website. You see, Meg’s a little out of sorts lately – she’s been turfed from her Texas home and has settled into a new home in Colorado (where the neighbors worry about dry spots on the lawn. *Gasp*)
But don’t forget to answer Meg’s question – What makes you buy into a heroine in jeopardy? Have you run into any really smart heroines lately (or even any idiots)?
(wondering what TSTL means? Too Stupid To Live.)