Sunday, February 27, 2011

Hot Kiss Blogfest

Thank you to Tara Fouts for hosting this blogfest.

The premise:
1. this blogfest tests your skills on writing a hot kiss scene without the sex. Of course, if it leads up to that, that's fine.
2. scenes can be up to an R rating

This is the first kiss between Mary and Charles in Courtly Scandals.  They just met and escaped a crowded ballroom together.  She doesn't even know his name. 

As if the joy were too much, the sky opened, softly coating the dark in a flutter of snow.  Their flight slowed as the delicate kiss of ice floated around them in the winter night.  Whether it was Mary herself who slowed first or her companion, after several more steps in the flurry of snowflakes, they both stood still, eyes up to the heavens, faces raised to embrace the fresh, cold air.
Panting puffs of icy breath, Mary stifled her laugh, afraid the harsh sound of her voice would ruin the beauty of the moment.  A warm hand reached to cradle her cheek, her jaw.  The warm flesh against her skin was a sharp contrast to the increasingly cold night.  Snowflakes settled on her lashes as she turned to face him.  He was a beautiful man – he belonged in this moment.  Icy flakes lay against the blond waves pulled back from his face, the shine in his blue eyes echoing the glimmer of moonlight against the ice.  She did not know who he was, but he had run with her – he had flown and laughed with her.  They had shared a moment of abandon outside of any boundary.  Slowly he drew her toward him even as his lips lowered upon hers.
The touch was so soft.  So warm.  The snow fluttered around them, but where his hands held her, she felt nothing but heat.  His lips moved and she welcomed the deeper touch.  She wanted to smile at the joy of it.  Her hands moved up to caress the planes of his chest, her fingers seeking upward toward his collar and his neck.  He was so strong, his mouth a steady pressure against hers.  His tongue teased the corner of her mouth, gliding warmly against the smooth fullness of her lower lip, coaxing her to open herself more fully for him.
He invaded her mouth, claiming it, twining his tongue with hers.  Her body was heated under his touch and she wanted to feel his hands everywhere.  Her lips moved against his, her hands seeking to learn the strength and warmth of his body.  Around them flurries of snow spiraled to stick to the frozen earth, encasing them in icy silence.  They were alone in a magical world. 

Don't forget to sign up for my Paint it Purple Blogfest on March 25th!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

March 25th: Paint it Purple Blogfest

The time has come for me to host a blogfest.  I've been mulling it over for some time and it can no longer be held back.

The premise:
1) Post a short segment (a paragraph or two, really no more than 100 words) of your work-in-progess.

2) Paint it purple with enough metaphors, similes, and poetry to gag the most die hard beatnik.  This version is sure to be much longer than you original work (hence the word limit for the first selection).  Feel free to run wild, spitting in the face of good taste, genre norms, and Occam's razor.

Comparing the two selections should be a lot of fun.

Sign up below and schedule your blogfest submission to post on March 25th.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Calling a Spade a Spade

Of course, I am talking about genitalia.  What else would I be talking about?

In reading romance, I always note the terminology and/or euphemisms.  While there are some cliche expressions, in well written stories, the character's perspective leads the way in the naming of body parts.  Is she a aristocratic virgin who is unfamiliar with her own body?  Is she a doctor who looks at sexual encounters as mammalian couplings?  Or is she a dock-side strumpet with a dirty mouth sadly in need of Orbit?  Whoever she is, it will guide the way she views her experiences.  An older sister who raised a herd of younger brothers may look on the penis as a pizzle, peanut, or whatever cute name they used for the toddlers.  Her prior knowledge of it as a non-sexual organ will color her experiences when, ultimately, she discovers its other purpose.  The educated modern woman may be specific and scientific -- and if she did start talking dirty, it would be part of her character development.

But what none of these ladies would think is that the penis is a velvet encased steel lance or a pulsating rod of power.  Unless the author has established an omniscient narrator, all third person perspective descriptions are deep point of view.  The story is from the character's perspective and unless that character is a poet and completely disengaged enough from whatever sensual activity is happening in the scene, she is not going to describe her own nipples as ruched peaks of rose petals atop milky mounds of downy softness.

For years I referred to the female genitalia as the 'area' (usually accompanied by a vague hand gesture).  There was no slang term I liked and the technical terms just seemed too formal and specific.  With my current w.i.p., my main character is really earthy and sensual so it's going to be a challenge to label from her perspective without coming across as crass.  What are your favorite, least favorite, or just plain silly euphemisms?

Friday, February 18, 2011

My Right to Blog

I am a teacher.  I have my "18 or older" warning on my blog at the request of my school administrator.  It is a nod to preventing my students, who could easily Google my name, from reading my blog.  Why?  Because I occasionally discuss orgasms, penises, and the like.  I write romance and I blog about writing romance -- of course my content may be explicit in nature.  If a student finds my site, reads it and is offended, I would blame the parents of the child for not properly supervising his/her internet access.  Although I may occasionally mention my teaching as it pertains to writing, I consider this blog and my writing completely outside the scope of my day job.

I started this blog with the idea of developing a web-presence in order to promote my writing.  I discovered I really enjoyed blogging and the online writing community.  It never occured to me that there might be a problem.  While I am not currently in any trouble, another teacher in Pennsylvania is.  She blogged with a small following of friends and family.  Known only as Natalie M., she shared her personal feelings about her life (which included her job) but never named names or locations.  A student found her blog and it became an issue.  Why?  Because she dared to share how she felt and her feelings were not politically correct.

Read an article about it here.

Although I agree that having a public blog (you can make it available to members only) where you share that you hate your job is not a smart move in any profession, I think the response is excessive.  She never slandered anyone, she merely stated her opinion.  She has been suspended and will probably be fired in a knee-jerk reaction to please the masses.  I could understand if she was breaking the law in some way or potentially predatory, but no, she was disgruntled and disillusioned and lacked the foresight to realize something almost anonymous would become an issue.

If she is not fired, she should probably find another job.  Not only will it be impossible to teach with her students believing that she has no respect for them or their potential, but it seems like is no longer inspired to be a teacher.  And believe me, in order to survive each day, you have to honestly believe you're making a difference.  Of course, now that I've said that, I wonder if I should worry about my own livelihood? 

So this is a shout out to a fellow blogger who, foolishly perhaps, dared to state her opinion.  She can help herself to the Risk Taker Extraordinaire award if she happens by.  Best of luck, Natalie M.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Bernard Pivot Blogfest and Legalized Insanity

Thank you to Nicole at One Significant Moment at a Time for hosting this Bernard Pivot Blogfest.  You know, when I think of Behind the Actor's Studio, I always think of the Robin William's episode where he took complete control of the show.  That, and the SNL spoofs.

Anyhow, the premise is to participate in a questionnaire as if I were being interviewed by Mr. Lipton himself.  Not being as animated or high as Robin Williams*, I will just stick to the questions. 

  1. What is your favorite word?  Spelunk
  2. What is your least favorite word?  You sure you want to know this?  Okay... well, you strangers who don't know me now will think I'm quite foul when I'm only occasionally foul.  And, if I were on the show, the word would be bleeped out.  Ready?  Oh, I can't do it.  But it starts with a C.  The last letter is a T.  The two letters in between are N and U, not necessarily in that order.  I hate that word.  Got it?  Good.  Moving on. 
  3. What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally? Feelings of accomplishment (whether it's a well taught lesson or a scene that almost wrote itself).  Songs by Duran Duran and A-ha.  Wilson Creek's Almond Champagne.  Spa treatments.  Good cheese.  Down time. Critique group meetings.
  4. What turns you off? Issues hanging over me like the sword of Damocles.  For example, right now I have a massive amount of grading to do.  Things not going as planned can get me so stressed out I get sick to my stomach.  Yeah, I need to address my anxiety issues.
  5. What is your favorite curse word?  I say Jesus Christ a lot.  Why?  Because years ago I decided the "Lord's name in vain" was really open to interpretation (a sentiment supported by my religious studies in college) and it really offended my mother back in the day because she took it very seriously. 
  6. What sound or noise do you love?  I love the sound of rain and wind against the window.  I live in the desert in So. California, so it's a rare sound and always brings me back to my childhood.  White noise machines don't work the same way.
  7. What sound or noise do you hate?  Any gagging, slurping, mucousy sound.  It may very well make me vomit.
  8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? I would like to be a full time, well paid, prolific romance novelist. :)
  9. What profession would you not like to do?  Anything with customer service.  I did my time and no longer have the cheery disposition to smile at jerks.
  10. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?  "Erin, I understand your doubts and lack of faith.  Heck, I gave those characteristics to you and would have been disappointed if you had chosen complacency.  Plus, it says a lot that you were a good person without the dangling carrot of salvation.  So, remember how I said I'd never leave you or forsake you?  It's true!  Come on in to paradise." 

    This is only section one of the episode of Behind the Actor's Studio listed above.   Robin Williams doesn't even give Mr. Lipton a chance to ask a question.  Well worth watching

    *Disclaimer: I believe this episode happened long after Robin William's drug issues.  "High" merely worked to describe the behavior.

    Monday, February 14, 2011

    Show Me the Love Blogfest

    Thank you to Stephanie at The Writer's Cocoon for hosting this Show Me the Love blogfest.  She provided a series of questions to answer and I have to laugh at how unromantic my answers are, considering I write romance.

    Here are the questions:

    1- What is the most romantic thing anyone has ever done for you?  I had recently ended a relationship where my boyfriend (who truly had the mentality of a young boy) would get busy playing nintendo (he was 23, I was 20) and forget to pick me up and not answer the phone (because he was busy playing nintendo), so I had very low expectations.

    After the breakup I started seeing Brian (who is now my husband of 13 years).  He was visiting from out of town (long distance relationship) and borrowed my car for the day while I was at work.  At the end of the day, I went outside to see if he was there.... AND HE WAS!  Not only was he there on time, but part of the reason he had wanted to borrow the car was so he could detail it and change the oil (himself).  That thoughtful gesture coupled with the fact that I learned I could count on him to be there for me is the most romantic memory I have.  I know, it's not chocolates, serenades, or whatever, but it was meaningful.

    2- What is your favorite love song?  At our wedding we danced to "In Your Eyes" partly because NIN's "Closer" was inappropriate.  I also really love the song "Someone" by Depeche Mode and "Hunting High and Low" by A-ha.  Sigh... Morten Harket....

    3- Do you have a favorite romantic movie or book?  My favorite movie is Dangerous Liaisons, which is romantic in a dark way. 

    4- Do you have any romantic plans for Valentine's Day this year?  No.  It's a Monday and I have school --which is going to be hell (Middle School kids on Valentine's Day... sigh).  It's also my 35 1/2 birthday.

    5- What's your favorite romantic treat?  A massage.  Head.  Back.  Full body.  Whatever.  With oil.

    Friday, February 11, 2011

    Valentine's Day.... Meh

    I'm in the pout-pout fish mode this week.  My youngest decided to gift me with her head cold and I've spent a lot of time under the influence of Thera-flu (tm).  The good news is the doctor said it's just a cold.  The bad news is that I'm a big, whiny baby and all I want to do is sleep.  If I can make it through this week I'll be energized and wake up Saturday ready to conquer the world.  By which I mean catch up on lost writing time and scrub my kitchen floor.  Right now though, I'm about to go take a nap and let my kids eat crayons and pudding while I'm unconscious.

    Also adding to the 'meh' factor of this post is the upcoming Hallmark holiday.  This is Valentine's weekend.  Valentine's day started sucking somewhere around middle school when all the slutty girls with boyfriends got presents and I, being painfully shy, did not.  It continued that way throughout high school, partly because of the lack of romantic attention thing and then, when the tide turned, because I was above it all.  I was too cool and jaded to have fun with it.  Now I get to tape heart shaped lollipops to Tinkerbell cards for my kids to pass out and it's fun.  But still not romantic.  In fact, if my husband did try to get all romantic on me, I wouldn't be able to take it seriously and it would end up being a wasted effort.  And I call myself a romance writer.

    I'm not even going to try to find a picture to go with this post.  I will just fix my typos, schedule it, and call myself done for a couple days. I'm sorry this had very little to do with writing, other than the fact that I need to write.

    I hope you had a great pre-Valentine's week.  Do you have anything fabulous planned for the weekend?

    Tuesday, February 8, 2011

    On Blogging and a New Award

    I wrote my first book completely alone.  I say alone in that I was not a part of the writing community.  I had my sister and my husband helping me brainstorm, edit, etc... but as much help as they were creatively and as a support, they were both as woefully ignorant as I was about the writing industry.

    When I started trying to get published, I had the misfortune to get an immediate positive response on my first query to the only publishing house I had researched.  I say 'unfortunate' because it ended up creating a misconception about the process.  After that bubble burst, happenstance (Facebook) reconnected me with an old friend -- a writer.  We formed a critique group and she introduced me to the blogosphere.  Through the blogs, I discovered this world full of published and unpublished authors, editors, and publishers that were there as a resource.  I could find the answer to any question.  But more importantly, I was no longer alone.

    The blogs that I found most effective were just musing about the writing process.  Whether the authors wrote romance or not, they still were writers trying to tell their stories.  Our conditions were so similar, each of us trying to find time to write the story, the drive to jump through the right hoops in the right order in order to find an agent -- we were all around the world, writing dramatically different works and yet we were all the same.  When I decided to create a blog, I chose to make it anecdotal, sometimes analytical, but always about my persona experiences in the writing and publishing process.  I did not expect anyone to learn from me, but rather to relate. 

    In honor of the blogging process and in homage to some of the blogs that I first started reading, I have created an award.  Yes, blogging awards are silly, but it's nice to get a gold star from time to time.   I created this "Risk Taker Extraordinaire" award specifically with the idea that I would give it based on out-of-the box blogs.  Then I thought that an unpublished author jumping feet first into a community of strangers with the hope of acceptance and camaraderie is taking a heck of a risk.  So, even if I do not name you in this impromptu and silly award ceremony, feel free to take an award for yourself.  You're out there, exposing your work, your heart, your soul, to a bunch of strangers who may well be insane.  You, my friend, are a risk taker extraordinaire.

    So, without further ado:
    To Raquel Byrnes -- for writing the message from her heart despite industry standards, challenging existing norms, and having it pay off.
    To Roland Yeomans - for the very nature of his blog, his work, and the way he approaches story.
    To Taryn Tyler -- for hosting monthly writing contests and giving us the ability for immediate gratification in a industry of rejection.
    To Patti Struble -- for giving shout outs and introducing me to bloggers I may not have otherwise discovered.
    To Andrew Rosenberg -- for sharing his OCD writing strategies with a smile.
    To Katie Mills -- for my first blogfest/contest experience and for introducing me to the perils of stalking agents.
    To Susan Kane -- for jumping into the online writing community with that new fangled computer thingy. Go team Kane!

    Note, I have no idea where I got this pic.

    Sunday, February 6, 2011

    Let's Talk About Sex

    Today's world of contraception  and sex-education has made sex more of a fun thing to do when you're bored than a big, meaningful event.  Age, both very young and very old, is irrelevant. Marriage is not a requirement by any means for anything (except for shared health benefits).  Modern Western culture is as much an anything goes society as any in the history of the Western world (except for maybe Ancient Greece in regards to homosexuality).

    I think I can objectively say that these are modern sexual mores as presented by the media.  The stakes, in regards to sex, are not high.

    Given the prevailing openness about sex, even among adolescents, never ceases to amaze me when those sneaky Puritanical values that occasionally give us guilt or the perception of a right to be judgmental rear their intolerant, bonnet clad head.

    Recently a young lady of my acquaintance shared that she was expecting.  She is over 18, a high school graduate, and on the way to developing a career.  She is a capable young adult.  She and the father plan to marry, which was their plan in the first place.  Now, I'm sure even she would acknowledge that the situation is not ideal, but it's not terrible or anything worthy of scandal.  The buzz amongst the younger crowd, however, is quite different.

    I don't know if the fact that she's pregnant is what makes it rumor worthy.  Since she's not showing any sense of shame or embarrassment, that should have squashed the rumor mills in the bud.  But it hasn't -- which leads me to think that the titillating factor is that the pregnancy is evidence that she's sexually active.  I cannot believe, in this world that these adolescents wish to be a part of and claim to be mature enough to participate in, that they care that an adult is sexually active. Really?

    This goes on to debunk the media's portrayal that our society actually believes that anything goes.  Apparently the stakes are still high.  Parents still opt to have their children excluded from sex education and abstinence is the preferred method of birth control.  Perception of being sexually promiscuous (which apparently means sexually active) is just as big a deal now as it has ever been.  And marriage counts for something.  I mean, I don't think the buzz would be nearly as exciting if I, a married, 35 year-old, mother of two, announced I was pregnant (I'm not, btw). In fact, the young people would probably be grossed out.

    This is where I seguay to writing....
    I write historical romance.  The most popular historical romance genre is Regency.  During the regency era and the ensuing Victorian period, sex was a very private thing.  There were strict moral codes.  Judgement was high.  The stakes for being sexually active outside of marriage could be life shattering.  In a way, this makes Regency romance that much more exciting.

    I write about the Elizabethan era.  Sex was, well, rampant.  Obvious.  In poorer communities, life was still almost feudal, and generations of a family would share one home without having their own rooms.  Sex was not private, nor was it illicit or sinful.  It was a normal thing that happened between a couple (especially since England was experiencing a mini-Ice Age at that point).  Sex outside of marriage may have been a bigger deal to the lower classes, but among the nobles it was commonplace.  In fact, a betrothed couple would sometimes not marry until the woman was pregnant in order to ensure that she could breed.  If a woman got pregnant outside of a betrothal, she'd go and have the baby in the country, then come back to court.  She also had the option of taking a 'herbal remedy,' and many women did.  The idea of being ruined by lack of virginity happened much later.  Virginity was not all important -- what was important was that the blood lines be preserved. 

    This said, raising the sexual stakes in an Elizabethan romance is difficult.  Of course, modern readers put their own perceptions of what life was like 'back then' and attribute values to things that were not valued -- so they put their own stakes on the event.  So far, my stakes revolve around other aspects of the story.  Sex is part of it, of course, in that it goes to grow the characters and the relationship.

    In my current w.i.p., I am making a point to make the stakes on sex high.  Jane is a sexually promiscuous widow -- sex is not be a big deal for her.  She has to change her ideals when she decides that she want to marry again and she wants to marry well.  If she is going to marry the Earl of Kingsley, she should not give in to her desire for the tutor, despite the fact that he was her first, innocent love years ago. This time I'm going to withhold sex for quite some time and see if the tension is enough to titillate through the story.  The problem I see with this is when they actually do come together, I had better deliver that scene with an intensity that makes the wait worth it.

    Of course, these are my plans now.  Who knows what the characters will decide to do, if the want to abide by my outline or not.

    Friday, February 4, 2011

    Jane, What's Your Sign?

    Those of you who have followed my blog for awhile know I like to run astrological charts on my main characters.  It helps me flesh them out with characteristics I may not have imagined.   I posted once before about Mary in Courtly Scandals.  Right now I'm working on Mistress Jane Radclyffe from my W.I.P., Courtly Abandon (btw, should I be punctuating it like a book title when it's only 10% finished?).

    I knew I wanted Jane to be on the cusp between Aries and Taurus, but I had not done her chart.  For the record, the birthdate of 4/20 was strictly for the cusp factor, not for Hitler, legalizing marajuana, or anything about school shootings.  If anything, call it an homage to my long time friend Ed Rydzinski III.

    In all, I was spot on with what I wanted for Jane.  Energy coupled with a sense of responsibility.  Passionate, earthy, and ambitious.  The reading really followed what I had already decided on.  It also gave me some new characteristics that will really help me make her three-dimensional.

    Name: Jane Radclyffe

    April 20 1990 (ideally, it would have been 1552, but that wasn't an option)
    2:00 AM Time Zone is BST
    taunton, UK

    Rising Sign is in 07 Degrees Capricorn
    You are practical and reserved but very ambitious. An achiever and a hard worker, you respect success. Older looking and very serious as a youth, things lighten up and you relax more as you mature. You have a serious view of the world as being a difficult place to be in. Very envious of those who seem to have an easier life than you have, relaxation and play do not come easily. It is important that you had abundant parental support as a child so that you do not feel lonely and isolated as an adult. Generally, you have a good, earthy sense of humor that can carry you through when times really do get tough. You are purposeful, self-willed, industrious, realistic and responsible.

    Sun is in 29 Degrees Aries.
    By nature, you are very energetic and high-spirited. You are fiercely independent -- you must be first in everything you do, and you enjoy taking risks. You are the one who will rush in where angels fear to tread. Quite brilliant at initiating new projects, you are terrible at following them through to completion. You are an enthusiastic leader but you tend to be a reluctant follower. Often you are quick to anger, but you usually recover just as fast, regretting later things you said when you were upset. One of your best traits is that you are simple and direct, blunt and honest -- just be careful you do not hurt others' feelings. Your need to be competitive at all costs may provoke resistance from others, but, as long as you maintain your usual Sunny good humor, this should not prove to be a major problem for you.

    Moon is in 20 Degrees Aquarius.
    Very freedom-oriented, you must always be able to do what you wish, no matter what. You become stubborn and recalcitrant when others try to force you into a mold. You are a true democrat -- you are not a follower, but you enjoy being with those who are like-minded. You appreciate emotional self-control -- you practice it yourself and you look for it in others. You solve problems, including emotional ones, with your brains and intellect, not your feelings. Try to be tolerant of those who have powerful and obvious emotional responses -- not everyone is as objective, cool, dispassionate and detached as you are.

    Mercury is in 17 Degrees Taurus.
    A slow and careful thinker, you like to present ideas visually and concretely. Abstractions are quite difficult for you to understand. For you, everything must be practical and useful in order to merit your attention. You are a perfectionist -- you enjoy being skillful enough to handle the dexterity required of fine craftsmanship. Cautious and conservative in your thinking, you are very slow to change your opinions. You are more apt to respond to an appeal to your feelings than to an appeal to logic or reason.

    Venus is in 14 Degrees Pisces.
    You have a dreamy, fanciful, romantic nature and a very creative imagination. Indeed, at times, your private fantasies are more appealing than the reality around you and it is difficult for you to leave them. You tend to be unselfish and giving in relationships and are extremely sensitive of the needs of others. Be very sure that those you help are worthy of your devotion and are not merely taking advantage of your innocence and naivete.

    Mars is in 29 Degrees Aquarius.
    Your ideas and opinions are usually inventive and original, but sometimes they are merely eccentric and offbeat. You are altruistic -- you will work hard for the attainment of group goals, as long as they meet your high standards. You tend to resent traditional authority figures because you think that your ideas are better thought out and more valuable than theirs. Very idealistic, you are a rebel WITH a cause!

    Jupiter is in 05 Degrees Cancer.
    You must be emotionally secure in order to grow and develop. You are happiest when your family and community support and nourish you and boost your morale. Whether your childhood experiences of love and emotional dependability were positive or negative will set the tone for your emotional growth and stability as an adult. When you feel at ease with yourself, you are able to offer assistance to those who need a helping hand.

    Saturn is in 25 Degrees Capricorn.
    Very serious-minded and mature, you have the ability to take on responsibilities and to carry out important duties. You can also be trusted to be extremely practical and thrifty. A good organizer, you are the ideal one to be counted on to take a clearly defined project through to its logical conclusion. An achiever, you pride yourself on your ability to focus your attention totally on some worthy goal and then attain it.

    Uranus is in 09 Degrees Capricorn.
    You, and your peer group as well, seek out practical solutions to a changing society's attitudes to customs, traditions and authority structures. Your logical and orderly manner of dealing with these matters will result in permanent and carefully planned, but sweeping, reforms.

    Wednesday, February 2, 2011

    Telling the Story FTW!

    Not counting the Fabio books I read when I was too young, my first real romance novel experience was with Stephanie Laurens' The Promise in a Kiss.  My mother recommended it to me.  It had been recommended to her from my aunt.  I honestly enjoyed it and should probably dig it out to re-read it.

    The Promise in a Kiss opened up a whole world to me.  Prior to that book, believe it or not, I had been a loyal sci-fi/fantasy reader.  Romances had the same escape, adventure, and promise of a happy ending (let's face it, the hero of the fantasy novel will always save the day) plus sex.  The passion rekindled feelings that complacency had replaced.  I'm sure this is TMI, but reading romance was good for my marriage.

    Sex aside, it also taught me something about writing.  Grammar rules could be bent and remolded in order to suit the pacing of the story.  As a history major, I was used to churning out research reports and papers bursting with analysis based on cited sources.  My writing was with thick with credibility, scholarly vocabulary, and strict adherence to grammar and format rules.  Stephanie Laurens' writing reflected the mood of a scene with the use of sentence fragments - -sometimes just a single word.  She started sentences with 'and' and 'but' because the heroine thought that way.  This was her story and she was telling it her way.

    As I write, I know I have been influenced by these formative romance experiences.  Sometimes a scene is too fast paced to write a beautiful, descriptive sentence.  Sometimes a word paint is too much and detracts.  Sometimes repetition is good for flow.  And a sentence that would never pass an English teacher's muster is exactly what it needed.

    I gave myself permission to use and abuse fragment sentences. It was hard to shift gears from scholarly to fiction so dramatically, but it has been done and there is no going back.  I will mangle grammar if that is what is needed to tell the story.

    By the way, "FTW" means "For the Win" in leet speak (which is gaming lingo).
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