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Kiss Me, Kill Me Tuesday – A Writer’s Inspiration

One of the things that has been coming up often on the ARE YOU STRONG ENOUGH blog tour are questions about how I get the inspirations for the books that I write.

Which makes me vaguely remember a quote somewhere about writers being able to talk to themselves without being labeled crazy (or at least not at first) and some very popular writer kinds of T-shirt quotes, such as:

    Watch out or you’ll end up in my novel.
    I kill off my enemies in my book. You’re on page 12.

Truthfully, those quotes are accurate. For example, a very nice waiter was the inspiration for the Ryder name. Roman mythology helped create Ryder’s lover, Diana. I confess to killing off at least one person who truly pissed me off in very gruesome fashion. Last, but not least, the names of friends and family have graced characters that I like, sometimes more than once.

But beyond that, where the ideas originate is difficult to say, although it is safe to say that a writer’s mind never stops observing and recording those things around them in order to use those observations in a story. Whether it’s a meal that you savor or where you eat it, a walk along a street with a different vibe, a new city that you visit… Any and all of those life experiences may germinate the kernel of an idea that takes root and grows into a story.

STRONGER THAN SINTake STRONGER THAN SIN for instance. You may have heard me mention on other blogs that the idea for the genetic engineering came about as a result of my science major geekdom. But my love of sports was what influenced the hero’s occupation. Rather than choosing baseball, which is more a game of physics and strategy, I needed the hero to suffer serious physical injury in a bone-crushing collision. Bazinga-he had to be a football player. Someone big and powerful cut down in the prime of his life.

Enter the heroine who I had already introduced in SINS OF THE FLESH, but who I came to love and needed her own big story. Was it coincidence that she was a doctor in book one? No because I needed someone who could offer medical assistance on the sly in that book. Was it coincidence that she was training to be an orthopedic surgeon? Not really either since I knew even then the second story was going to be about someone with a bone disease and I also had a friend with that profession who I could ask questions about treatments, etc.

My life experiences and influences eventually led to ex-football player Jesse Bradford and Dr. Liliana Carrera and their story.

Other life experiences, namely my love of history and travel, are what helped set up the evolution of the SINS series for books 3 and 4 – THE LOST and THE CLAIMED as well as the two books coming out from Carina – AZTEC GOLD and THE FIFTH KINGDOM. Although I’m a little crazed right now with trying to finish THE CLAIMED, I’m going to dig through some photos and get them scanned so you can see what inspired some of the story elements and locations that I chose for those books!

I guess what I’m trying to say in a very long way is that a writer’s inspiration comes from everything around them and in particular, from those things about which they find interesting or about which they are passionate. Why are those last two things so important? Because when a writer is interested or passionate about something, it shows in the words that they put on the page and bring the story alive for readers.

Thanks for dropping by today’s Kiss Me, Kill Tuesday. Don’t forget to visit the various stops on the ARE YOU STRONG ENOUGH blog tour to learn more about STRONGER THAN SIN and also, to possibly win of the giveaways.

Also take a moment to visit with my very good friend and fellow author Mary Kennedy at SOS Aloha today! Mary is chatting about Sherlock Holmes which is thoroughly appropriate since she has the wonderful Talk Radio Mysteries out on shelves. Just click here to visit!

The Sig Sauer P226 on Kiss Me, Kill Me Tuesday

A few weeks ago we discussed the importance of choosing a weapon you can handle in the Hit Me With Your Best Shot blog. As the videos in that blog attested, unless you have some reason for your hero to end up on her ass after firing, the right weapon is essential.

Choosing the right weapon is also necessary to add some level of authenticity and/or help reinforce your character’s personality or history. For example, in MORE THAN A MISSION, the hero is ex-military and has participated in a number of clandestine missions. Because of that, his weapon had to be one which might have been favored by military men and which might allow for use of a silencer/suppresor.

After doing some research, I decided on a Sig Sauer pistol in order to reinforce the hero’s military past and secret agent kind of work. In particular, the Sig Sauer P226 would make a perfect weapon in such a situation.

The pistol was specifically designed for Army small weapons trials in 1984. It was only one of two guns to meet the challenges of the trials. Originally designed by Sig, a Swiss company, it was later manufactured in connection with Sauer, a German company, due to Swiss export regulations on hand guns.

The P226 chamber can use certain 9mm, .40 caliber S&W or .357 Sig ammunition. When fired, the slide and barrel lock together until the bullet leaves the chamber and after, the slide recoils back, expelling the spent cartidrige. In the next step, a spring moves the slide forward which chambers another round from the magazine in the handle. During the last part of the slide motion, the barrel moves back into place and the slide and barrel lock together once again.

You can use guns which use a slide in your novels since those unfamiliar with their operation, or involved in a struggle when the weapon discharges, will sometimes suffer what is known as “slide bite”. This happens when your thumb or any flesh nearby is too high up on the back of the weapon. When the trigger is pulled, the action of the slide causes injury to that part of the hand, usually some kind of cut. Slide bite will leave DNA on the weapon and also, visible injuries on whoever handled the gun when it was fired.

In the 1980s, Navy Seals began using a P226 which had been adapted to their use. Eventually special commemorative versions of these weapons were available for sale to the public to raise money for the Special Operations Warrior Fund, an organization which provides full scholarship grants and educational and family counseling to the surviving children of special operations personnel who die in operational or training missions and immediate financial assistance to severely wounded special operations personnel and their families.

The P226 Tactical weapon has an extended barrel and threads which allow it to be fitted with a silencer.

Today’s photo shows a stainless steel P226 which never went into production although a different stainless steel model is now available.

Hope you enjoyed today’s Kiss Me, Kill Me Tuesday. Thanks to Wikipedia for some of the information and also to Sig-Sauer.

Photo Credit: Michael Kneisch@en.wikipedia.com

Hit Me With Your Best Shot on Kiss Me, Kill Me Tuesday

Subtitle: Why it’s important to pick a gun you can handle.

I often write stories with kick-ass heroines who need to use pistols in their line of work. When deciding what kinds of pistols they are going to use, I ask myself the following:

1. Are they big women with big hands? Men can use larger weapons, but women will generally need guns that are smaller, lighter and more compact. Smaller guns will usually also have less recoil (and if you’re wondering why that’s important, take a moment to watch the video at the end of this blog!). In addition, a smaller gun will allow your trigger finger to reach the trigger which sometimes is difficult with a bigger weapon.

2. Is the woman physically strong in general? If the woman is athletic with good hand/grip strength, she might be able to handle an automatic weapon which sometimes requires you to move back a slide on the top of a weapon in order to clear a jam. The slide has a very strong spring and a weaker woman may not have have the strength to budge it. If that’s the case, consider using a revolver for your heroine. It’s easier to load and if for some reason one of the bullets does not fire, a pull on the trigger will advance the chamber to the next round.

3. Where will the weapon be kept? If it is being stored in a behind the back or shoulder holster and your gun has a hammer, that might not be such a problem. If the pistol is being kept in a purse and has a hammer, the hammer may snag on items in the purse. If the gun will be kept in an ankle holster, you will probably need smaller model, like a Glock 26, also known as a Baby Glock.

4. Also consider whether the gun is bulky or has a low profile. When undercover, you do not want a large gun that will be obvious and scream “COP!”

5. You also need to consider the situations in which the weapon will be used. The first situation is one where you will require a lot of take down/knock down power. This refers to how much damage the bullet will do – in other words how efficiently it will take down your attacker so they won’t come back at you. .45 caliber weapons are quite effective at this, but remember #1 above about the size of the gun. It might be too hard to handle.

6. In a situation where there is a risk of collateral damage, your heroine may decide to change out her normal rounds with hollow-point bullets. Such bullets do a lot of damage on a human body, but because the bullet expands upon entering a target, it does not penetrate armor or walls very well. That makes it great for avoiding collateral damage.

Hope this information on picking a hand gun for your heroine was helpful. We’ll discuss rifles and shotguns some other day as well as different kinds of guns you may wish to use in your stories. After all, the weapons your hero chooses will make an impression on your reader.

But now, back to that pesky recoil issue. Sit back and get a gander of what happens when recoil gets the best of you!

If you can’t see the videos below, click on this link or cut and paste this link into your browser:

Kiss Me, Kill Me – A Recipe for Action

Action scenes. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, but as a genre fiction writer you probably will have to someday write an action scene for your novel, especially if you write Romantic Suspense. Getting the best results often involves having the right recipe and ingredients and I’m today offering up some of my secrets for creating an action scene that makes readers keep turning the pages!

The first ingredient is the characters. It’s important for you to know the kind of fighting experience that your characters have. Are they trained military or law enforcement? Do they have martial arts experience? What kinds of strengths or weakness do they have physically? How tall or short is each of the fighters? Each one of these will make the difference between your action scene being a bar room brawl slugfest or a well-choreographed and precise battle between two opponents.

The next item to add to the mix is location. Where is the scene taking place? Action that is happening on dry land is going to be very different than that occurring in wet sand or water. Will the combatants be at risk in the location, i.e., near the edge of a cliff? Are there any possible weapons that can be used at the location? On the beach, sand becomes a weapon when it is tossed in someone’s eyes. In a closed environment, such as an office, a heavy bookend or letter opener can be used as a weapon or as defense against an opponent.

Physics is the next important ingredient to add to your mix. How do bodies and things react to the application of force? It’s important to know how a punch will move the combatants so that you can plan for the next logical step in the fight. For example, a blow to the face will likely have an opponent’s head moving back and so following up with a knee to the face might not be possible. If you have any hesitation about the action/reaction that will occur, physically go through the steps in yourself in slow motion to make sure the physics of the scene make sense Also keep in mind the characters’ physical traits when doing so. The height, weight and the sex of the characters will make a big difference in the physics behind the action/reaction.

Next up in our recipe – Dialogue. I vaguely recall that one critic said of Buffy the Vampire Slayer that the only thing sharper than her jabs were her one liners. Good advice for any action scene with dialogue.

The words your combatants exchange should be like body blows, short, precise and stinging. Nothing slows down an action scene more than long discussions between the various combatants. In general, it’s probably best to keep dialogue to the beginning and end of the scenes – the first to incite the action and the latter to help transition to the next scene in your book.

Likewise, internalized dialogue as the characters fight should be kept to a minimum. Although the character may be in a life or death struggle, your action scene is not the time for the character to have her life flash in front of her eyes. As with spoken dialogue, keep internal thoughts to a minimum and have them up the ante in the fight. For example, if the heroine knows there is a weapon nearby, have a quick thought flash through her brain about how to reach that weapon or how to use it. Or spice the scene with a thought about the heroine’s reaction to either receiving or connecting with a punch.

Hand in hand with dialogue is the narrative in your scene. Much as with dialogue, keep it short. Short sentences create tension and move the scene along. If you’re doing an action scene correctly, there isn’t room for long winded narratives about what’s happening, except to possibly set up or end the scene (more on that later.). Also think about using elements of deep POV to heighten the tension and keep the action moving, namely, a new paragraph for each thought, action or punch. For example:

    A sharp jab to the nose had his opponent reeling backward.

    Mick charged ahead.

    A left hook glanced across the man’s cheekbone, but landed with enough force to daze him. Mick’s opponent dropped the sharp-edged broken bottle and it shattered against the concrete floor.

    Blood dripped from a cut on the man’s temple and nose as he swayed, eyes glassy. Unfocused.

    Mick cocked his arm to deliver the coup de grace.

Last but not least, the final ingredients in the recipe are the beginning and ending of your action scene.

When it comes to the beginning of the scene, keep one very important thing in mind: Does the action make sense in light of the characters, location, weapons, and story line? I always think about that scene in Indiana Jones when Jones is challenged by a rather large and muscular man. Bull whip in hand, Jones realizes he is no match for his opponent – until he pulls out his gun and shoots the man.

Like Indiana Jones, a smart hero knows when to back off and avoid a fight unless it’s absolutely necessary. Heroes who charge in without a thought to their own safety or possible collateral damage come across as too stupid to live.

Where do you start the scene? The best place to do so to keep the reader turning pages is to start the scene at the end of the chapter before. Make them turn the page to see if the hero will engage in combat.

Where do you end the scene? That’s a hard question and really requires you to do one thing – write the entire scene from start to finish. Then find a good place smack in the middle to insert a chapter break, usually at a place just a millisecond before a punch will be landed or a knife will be thrust (see the example above with Mick – Did he throw that last punch? Did you want to know what happened next?).

Keep the reader wondering about what happens as it will force them to turn the page. At the start of the next chapter, resume your action scene.

One other important thing to keep in mind when it comes to ending a scene — Remember that a real hero won’t inflict damage above and beyond what is necessary. Doing so diminishes her in the eyes of the reader and that’s the last thing you want to do. Even justified lethal force can be difficult for readers, so keep that in mind so as to not put off people. For example, in the above scene with Mick, Mick may have determined that his opponent was no longer a threat. The next chapter can open with Mick deciding to just walk away from the fight rather than inflicting any more punishment.

By combining the above ingredients, you have a recipe for writing fast-paced action scenes that will keep readers turning the pages.

If you want more great information related to writing about fight scenes, martial arts and other cool self-defense info, take a moment to visit my friends at Attacking the Page!

Attacking the Page