“Before there is a touch, a taste, a moan, a smell, there is perception, seeing and being seen, eye-beckoned.”  This quotation from Anne Taylor Fleming in her article, “Awaken Her Senses:  Look,” in Best Life, persuades us that sight is the primary sense that we use.  Other senses may be touted as being more important, but the sense of sight in a romance novel is paramount to an excellent read.

Romance writers are always told to “put the five senses into your writing.”  What is meant by that is we need, as much as possible, to put our readers into the virtual bodies of our heroes and heroines.  Most romance readers want to vicariously experience the joys and thrills of love by putting themselves into the characters they read about.  In order to do this, the author needs to describe in detail, everything the characters experience—what they hear, touch, taste, and smell, and see.

In this final post on the senses, I’m exploring the sense of sight and how much our readers depend on us to be their eyes within the world of the novel.  When creating a scene, the writer must visualize that place, those people, the action–must see them in her mind before translating that onto the blank page of the manuscript.  In doing so, the writer becomes the guide for the reader, helps them navigate a clear path, shows them exactly what they want the reader to see and thereby creates the vision of the book for the reader.

The best way to do this, at least for me, is to submerge yourself in the character, much as
the reader will do, and experience the setting, action, and other characters first hand through them.  Like an actor who takes on a role, if the writer takes on the persona of his/her character, he/she can see what they see and pass that imagery along–vividly–to the reader.

This technique is called “showing,” and is usually tied to the advice “show don’t tell.”  Excellent advice for a writer, but what exactly does it mean?  Beth Hill, a fiction editor, writes in the article “Show and Tell–Not Just A Game We Play,” that “Telling forces a reader to stand outside a candy store window, able to see, perhaps, and hear what happens inside.  But he remains outside.  Yet when a writer shows, he invites the reader into the store to taste the bite of bitter chocolate or the tang of a lemon drop.”  It is not, however, description.

“When a writer shows rather than tells, the reader is allowed a more active role. He draws conclusions, he projects himself into the story and into the character’s shoes, he experiences the character’s emotions with the character.”  In short, when show is employed correctly, the reader can live vicariously through the characters, seeing what they see, hearing what they hear, tasting what they taste.  A good “show” can involve the reader, suck them into the book, let them become part of the book themselves.  So much so, they will come joyfully back to experience more.

Do you have problems with showing rather than telling?  How have you overcome this in the past?  Tell me, how do you put your reader into your scenes?  Thanks for coming by!

Posted by: Susan Hanniford Crowley | April 12, 2014

The Name Game-Marian Didn’t Say I Couldn’t Help

I’ve taught a workshop on character naming. Using baby names books is really only the tip of the ice berg. Let me give you some additional resources.

1. Baby name books for other cultures or countries
2. Telephone book
3. Cemetery stones
4. Family trees
5. Take any common name and rearrange the letters
6. Take a scrabble board and toss the letters
7. Random name generators http://fantasynamegenerators.com/  There are several on the web.
8. Write down all the names of all the authors on your library shelf or go to a library if need be, then switch around first and last names.
9. Look at signs and products and start mixing up names – just go through cupboards and drawer or to a store and list down everything possible first or last name you see.
10. The Bible is also an excellent source of names.

I think this is plenty of help.  Good luck in Marian’s contest.

- Susan
Susan Hanniford Crowley


Posted by: malanouette | April 11, 2014

What’s in a name?

Happy Friday everyone. What are you reading this week? I’m reading 25,000 Book of Baby Names. No, LOL, I’m not pregnant. I’m looking for a unique name for a character in my next book. Tomorrow I’m going to head to Barnes & Noble and buy some more books on the subject.

Wow, a thought just struck me. I’m going to run a contest. The prize a signed print copy of Burn in Hell, when it’s released in three or four weeks. Sorry, but the contest is only open to USA and Canadian residents.

naughtyWhat is the contest, you ask?

Submit your suggestions for the female lead in my next book. The character will be similar to the model above. Put on your thinking caps. The contest will run through April 25th. On the 26th I’ll pick and announce the name and the winner in the comment section of this post. Don’t forget to add your email addresses so I can contact you. Or if you prefer your Facebook address and I’ll PM you.


Good luck! I can’t wait to discover who she’ll be. If you’re submitting your own name as the character, a release will have to be signed if the name is chosen.


Posted by: Susan Hanniford Crowley | April 10, 2014

Thursday’s With Gerri-Catching Up by Gerri Brousseau

Hi Everyone. I feel as if I haven’t talked to you all in a long time, so let’s catch up. First of all I want to personally thank each and every one of you who contributed to Therapy Dog for Teo. We were able to raise enough money for Leia’s family to get the dog! The power of social media is amazing. Now we are trying to raise money for the local training for the dog, so if you still haven’t gotten her book, please do. https://www.createspace.com/4723746

Secondly, for those of you who remember that I was going to start a diet and be accountable to you, I’m happy to report that I have lost 15-pounds and I’m still going! Changed eating habits and reduced portions significantly. Will begin working out soon (see further comment below).

The next thing I wanted to share with you all is that I’m in the process of moving. Now we all know that moving SUCKS, and although we all know it, we tend to forget just how much it sucks until we are actually doing it. I didn’t realize how much stuff I had until I had to pack it up! Good Lord, it’s time to have a major tag sale. I’m moving as many of the light boxes to the new place as I can carry so that the movers won’t have to deal with it, but after a while I decided it’s what I’m paying them to do. Further on the matter of moving, the new location has a gym on the property and I plan to begin working out as soon as I’m all settled in. In the meantime, while figuring all this out, I came up with a great story idea so it all pays off.

Catching up on the situation with my poor little pug that’s failing. I’ve made the decision that it’s his time and I’ve set the appointment with the vet. I’m sick over it. I love him and he’s a great little dog, so loving and trusting. But, this decision has to be about his quality of life and so we approach his final days with sadness.

Still working at the DDJ (dreaded day job) with the boss that’s a creative energy vampire and by the time I get home at night, I’ve got zero creative energy left. Between this and moving, I have not written a word on my work in progress, despite the fact that I have things all laid out in my head as to where I want the book to go. I have been spending my evenings packing up the house. Just finished packing up all my books (sad face), and now I’m wondering which box I packed the charger for my Kindle in. If packing and moving are not stressful enough, my son and his wife (and baby girl) are also moving. Boxes, Boxes Everywhere! It’s crazy because we are moving within 5 days of each other!

The next thing I wanted to share with you that I’m super excited about is that in 33 days from today, I will be at RT in New Orleans. I’ve never been there and I can hardly wait. Somehow I feel that a paranormal vampire romance may be coming out of this trip. Looking forward to the whole “Big Easy” experience and all I have to say about that is “laissez le bon temps rouler!” (let the good times roll) If any of you are planning to attend, please look for me.

In June I’m going to be speaking at a writer’s retreat in CT. I’m thrilled to be asked and can’t wait to share with them. I’ll post more on that as the time grows near. Also in June, my third novel, “To Kill a Monarch” will be available in print. Can’t wait to hold the book in hand. Nothing like opening up that box and seeing your book cover.

There now, I feel as if we are all caught up. Do you have any exciting news to share with me? Would love to hear what’s going on in your lives. Oh, almost forgot . . . I’m thinking of posting a story here, one episode at a time. Would anyone be interested in something like that?

Posted by: Toni Kelly | April 9, 2014

Project Book

I’ve recently been tasked with a fairly big project during my day job, which requires a lot more planning than I’m used to. It has required quite a bit of effort on my part and as I learn to plan it out and set a timeline, I can’t help but see the correlation between this particular project and one’s plan for a book.

Okay, so let me back up a bit. First off, I have been for most of my “author career” a punster. For those of you new to that term, there are pansters and planners. When it comes to books, most of what I have written comes sort of spur of the moment, fly by the seat of my pants. I’d say that I’m currently going through an evolution when it comes to that as the longer I write, the more I want to plan. Perhaps I now realize how much time I am saving myself during the editing phase.

Anyhow, back to the project. As I go through the planning on this project, I’m using my knowledge of planning books to influence how I plan this project and hoping I’ll learn more about planning/plotting my books. Either way, I came up with 5 points to my plan and thought I’d share them with you all, especially for any of you new authors looking to get started.

  1. First off, you must decide what your goal or purpose is. In the world of books we call this GMC (Goal, motivation and conflict)
  2. Next, create your timelines. With books, there are a couple. The first is your own timeline on writing the book. Do you have a deadline? If not, set your own. It will help with disciplining yourself when it comes to writing. The second timeline involves your storyline. This can vary depending on the plot and pacing of your book. My simplest recommendation for beginners is to use an easy rhythm when you start out. Sort of like: action scene, recovery scene, action scene, recovery scene, etc. You want some sort of pace but it needs to fit with your story.
  3. Afterwards, you have your moving pieces. Just like with projects, books can have their own difficulties: potential plot twists that come up, characters who demand more attention—not to mention all the external factors of agents and publishers who may request or suggest changes. My advice is to be flexible and willing to adapt as long as you don’t feel you are compromising a large part of you.
  4. Know your audience. Most of us write to tell stories to someone. Whether that someone is me, you or millions of readers worldwide, we should usually have a target in mind. We don’t need to please all of these people or have them experience the same reaction, but ideally, you want them to feel something after they read your work. To do that, you need to know your target audience.
  5. And of course, before you present or publish your work, check it. This is largely known as editing and is hugely important whether done by your publisher or by yourself. A project with faulty information will lose its audience and turn them off to its owner. As such, a book with incorrect research/facts or tons of grammatical errors will not only be tossed aside, but it will also turn off readers to said author.

That’s all folks. Hope this helps and good luck with the planning. Happy writing this week!


Posted by: Susan Hanniford Crowley | April 8, 2014

Dressing for RT by Leia Shaw

RT is in 35 days.

Recently I’ve been asked about appropriate attire at the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention, as well as planning my own wardrobe for the event. The way I describe RT to people who haven’t been there is like a giant party about books. And when it comes to dress, anything goes. Literally.

Last year, I saw people walking around in full steampunk gear, kitty ears, corsets, blazers and heels, tutus, and jeans and t-shirts. Nobody seemed to care if you were covered in glitter or wearing all black. When it comes to the evening parties, which usually have a theme, many people go all out, spending months making or buying an outlandish costume. It’s definitely fun to watch people, and if you like having a reason to dress crazy, it’s extra fun to attend.

For me, I like the idea of dressing up in costume. The little girl inside jumps up and down clapping. But I’m also a bit of a tomboy. Something to remember is you’ll be doing a lot of walking and standing around. Drinking, talking, maybe dancing… It’s also not so easy running up and down to your room a million times to get changed, especially if you’re not staying in the hosting hotel. In my case, comfort is important. I may get dressed to the nines in heels, lipstick, spanx, jewelry, etc. But by the time I walk the many hallways of the hotel, down the elevator or stairs, and to the banquet hall, I’m ready for the heels to come off. Once I start a drink or meal, the lipstick gets wiped off. When I start dancing or wanting to move in any way, the hair goes up and the spanx come off. So within the first hour of partying, I end up barefoot, hair in a ponytail, wearing just my dress. Happens every time. So why bother?

vampires2  vampires

Maybe that one special moment, the entrance, when you feel pretty and special is worth it. Last year, I used a lot of suitcase space on costumes just for a three second entrance. This year, I’m broke and busy and probably just going to comfort. I applaud those who plan and sew and put together dazzling clothing for RT, I admire your sparkles and fancy boots from a distance, but this year, that will not be me.

Come say hi anyway. I do have one corset I plan to wear, probably just with jeans. And I have a couple funny t-shirts, but I’ll be the boring one, looking all normal and stuff. Another year, when I have more money and time, and maybe aren’t such a baby about walking in heels, I’ll dress up again.

But those of you worrying your little heads off about looking professional, just don’t. RT is cool like that. You can wear anything and still fit in.

Posted by: Susan Hanniford Crowley | April 7, 2014

Killer Bunny Weekly Paranormal-Scope

While I’m not qualified in any way to read neither stars nor planets, I am intimately linked with the paranormal in the world. In many ways, so are you.

The Paranormal-Scope is for entertainment purposes only and is not meant to guide your life by. Let’s have a little fun.  Spring is upon us and clearly bunnies are not what they seem.

The week ahead for:

Killer bunnies are running down your street. Seriously, run and lock your doors.

Killer bunnies have eaten everything in your garden. It’s time to eat out and visit friends for dinner.

Killer bunnies do not purr.  If it purrs, pet it and make a new feline friend.

Vampires do not fear killer bunnies.  Vampires have bigger fangs. Make friends with a vampire.  You know what they say about the size of a male vamp’s fangs being in direct proportion to …

Killer bunnies run a lot and need water.  Put out a water dish and you will not be harmed.

Temple cats and dogs are brave defenders of the hearth, and killer bunnies fear them and run in the opposite direction when they hear them growl.

Zombies ran down your street away from the killer bunnies.  Just stay out of the way of trouble.

Carrots attract killer rabbits.  Eat other vegetables this week and get some exercise.

Shapeshifters love to disguise themselves as killer bunnies.  They think it’s funny. Things are not always what they seem. Be prepared for surprises.

Dragons do not tolerate killer bunnies.  They eat them.  Many problems will be solved this week.

Killer bunnies fear hats.  Get yourself a nice hat!  But not one with flowers on it.

Killer bunnies are suckers for a carrot cake.  Be kind to others this week and receive a gift.Vampire King of New York


Susan Hanniford Crowley
Specializing in Vampires and Rare Supernaturals
Where love burns eternal and whispers in the dark

P.S. VAMPIRE KING OF NEW YORK is not out in Print at Amazon and Barnes and Noble, in ebook  in Kindle, Nook, and Kobo!

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Romance writers are always told to “put the five senses into your writing.”  Over the past few weeks I have been exploring the use of the five senses in romance writing.  Most romance readers want to vicariously experience the joys and thrills of love by putting themselves into the characters they read about.  In order to do this, the author needs to describe in detail, everything the characters experience—what they hear, touch, taste, and smell, and see.  This week I’m focusing on ways to incorporate the sense of sound.

Hearing is an obvious channel of communication.  Each time we hear a sound, we receive information about something.  So hearing is a major way that we communicate.  The article “The Voice of Love:  Building Romance through the Sense of Hearing” gives ideas for how to use the sense of hearing to make romance bloom. Some of these tips can be utilized in romance writing as well.

Another way to utilize hearing is the use of paralanguage to make your dialogue pop. Paralanguage is all the sounds we hear connected to language other than the words themselves.  Using these elements—vocal fillers, pitch, tone, rate, volume, inflection—you can give a complete picture of how the characters sound when they speak and reveal themselves.  A character who uses vocal fillers–um, er, well, you know, and like—has a character trait that may suggest hesitancy.  A heroine whose voice squeaks signals her excitement; the hero who drops his tone to husky is also excited, but in a different way.  How fast or slow they speak, how loud or soft their voice is, all set the scene and enhance what characters are experiencing.

And finally, make your romance novel richer by adding sounds the POV character would naturally hear or be aware of within the scene.  The crackle of leaves underfoot in a dry forest, the swift, dull thudding of horses hooves on dry mud, the blood pounding in the heroine’s ears as her heart beats faster at sight of the hero.  Sounds that surround your hero and heroine should sink the reader into the psyche of the character, letting the reader “hear” what the character does.  The better your descriptive writing skills, the better the experience for your audience.

For more tips on using the sense of hearing (and the other senses) to add emotion to your scenes, check out Rosemary Gemmell’s article “How to Write Romantic Short Stories.”

The following excerpt from Heart of Deception, one of my early short stories, shows how effective sound can be used to bring the reader into the scene.

Heart pounding, he laid her on the frilly coverlet, still clothed. His strong fingers slid her gown and chemise off her shoulders.  Celinda looked up at him, her eyes liquid pools of golden brown heated by the sure touch of his fingers.  She sighed, a slight sound that sent a blow to his heart.  Then he watched, incredulous, as her small hand gripped his, led it to the neckline of the gown now barely covering her nipples.  Sliding his hand beneath the fabric, she pressed his fingers into the soft white flesh and moaned as they brushed the tip of her erect peak.

Do you regularly use the sense of sound in your writing?  Or do you find yourself using only your favorite senses?  Thanks for sharing!

Read More…

Posted by: Susan Hanniford Crowley | April 5, 2014

Why Max? Coming out in Print This Month?

I was talking recently to a fan of the vampire Maximillion Vander Meer, Vampire King of New York.  We were trying to analyze what makes Max such an amazing Vampire King of New York yet reachable character, a person who has staying power with the reader.

1. He is Kingly and all the best qualities that goes with that, as seen in the scene when he is meeting with Arnhem Knights.

2. The reader was impressed that Max had been there with the Dutch and was part of the negotiations with the native people for Manhattan Island.  When I asked him if he used “mesmerization”, Max would only admit it wasn’t his finest hour.

3. I’ve always been amazed by Max’s financial prowess.  Throughout the history of the state, at one time or other, people have borrowed money from Max. He wasn’t a loan shark, and most people did not know there were borrowing money from Max.  His corporation V Meer Industries has so many subdivisions, you may be working for one and never know you’re really working for Max.

4. I asked the reader, what do you like best about Max?  He would do anything that he would ask his Arnhem Knights to do, like when the savage vampire escaped the courtroom and went right after Evelyn, Max caught him and ripped the creature’s head off.  It is sad that a vampire can become a savage, which is like a mindless shark.  Max when he goes to battle is right out there with the Arnhem Knights.

5. I love how Max can be vulnerable and at times silly, and Evelyn brings that out in him.  When he tried to court Evelyn he made mistakes. One night in particular, he tried to rush her. She freaked and went home to her sister Laura Cordelais (a vampire) and her brother-in-law David Hilliard (also a vampire). Evelyn is at the kitchen table crying and telling Laura how she wrecked everything with Max. David feels the King summoning him, and kisses his wife goodbye and goes to a closed bar where Max is seated with a bottle of blood wine in front of him. He related how he has ruined everything with Evelyn and how miserable he is without her. David hands him his phone to call her.  When he does, they are both apologizing to each other.  It’s a cute scene.

6. There are other scenes, silly ones, revealing ones, hot romantic ones.  We can’t share them all with you.  But we can share that Vampire King of New York will be out in print sometime in April.  I’m so excited.   Woo Hoo!

If you prefer an ereader, it’s at AmazonNook,  Kobo and other fine ebook stores.  I have a feeling it maybe going into print today!  If that’s the case, I will send a new post.   YAY!

Susan Hanniford Crowley
Specialized in Vampires and Rare Supernaturals

Update: Thank you to all the Nights of Passion readers for having mercy on an author who is still recovering from being very ill.  I just re-edited this piece.  On a happier note, Vampire King of New York has come out at Amazon and Barnes and Noble in print!  YAY!  Next Saturday I will have a launch party and contest.



Posted by: malanouette | April 4, 2014

What are your thoughts on writing programs?

Happy Friday, everyone! What are you reading this week? I’m reading Intrusions by Arlene Kay.

A quick update as promised on my first experience teaching a class. It was awesome. The students participated with lively conversations and great questions. I can’t wait to do it again. I actually ran out of time before I ran out of material. Phew!

Have you purchased software that has sat on your computer that have never been used? Well, I did this a couple of years ago. The learning curve on this program threw me for a loop. One of my New Years resolutions was to learn and use this particular software. I’m taking an online course on how to use it. Plus I went through the tutorials again. Maybe the first time I tried it I wasn’t ready to learn it. I am now.

What’s the name of the program you ask?

I think you’ve already guessed it. It’s Scrivener. Every author I know who uses it said they would never go back to Word or any other writing program. That’s quite the testimonial isn’t it? After working with it this week, I starting to be a believer. The course I took to make my life easier is Learn Scrivener Fast. I can’t believe I’m using the software. And I’ve only been through the basics. I can’t wait, to get to the tips and shortcuts section.

I’ll let you know if I can snag the coach as a guest here. Now I’m wondering what took me so long to use it. It has taken away a lot of the stress and maintenance to keep my series bible. organized.

Do you use Scrivener or another writing program? If you do, what do you think of them? How would you rate them?

I’ll keep you appraised if I still love it in a month or two.

Back to writing now. :)


« Newer Posts - Older Posts »



Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 4,758 other followers