Friday, February 12, 2016

What Makes a Dynamic Fictional Couple

This is something I found myself asking recently. Who are my favorite fictional couples? Why? Do the characters I write measure up to the same standards?

Friendship (or enemyship) First

Insta-love has never done it for me. Here's why: a good relationship is always based on a strong foundation. Sure, "love at first sight" can exist, IRL as well as fiction. But that instant attraction will soon wither away if it isn't cultivated with a reason to stay connected. Do your characters personality types fit well together so they form a friendship quickly with subtle flirtation? Or do they clash and form a bond of mutual resentment? Sometimes we cover up uncomfortable feelings like attraction with negative feelings, and that's okay for fiction. Think Lady Mary and Matthew Crawly from "Downton Abbey".

Odds Are Stacked Against Them

A good love story, whether the center of your writing, or in the background, could always use a dash of angst. Give your characters a reason they have to stay apart, at least for a time. Is one trapped in a not so great relationship? Is one going to move to a third world country for two years to give medical attention to sick orphans? One of the reasons I loved Richard Cypher and Kahlan Amnell from The Sword of Truth is because they loved each other deeply and stayed faithful despite the fact that Kahlan's magical gift prevented them from being intimate. When a problem insists on keeping characters from being truly happy, you feel their pain and want them to be together even more.

Overcoming Crisis Together

Okay. Katniss and Peeta from The Hunger Games weren't exactly friends at first, but they still had somewhat of a history before being thrown into the Games together. If they were going to make it out alive, they had to work together. Give your characters something to work towards. Easy. In fantasy, have them save the world together despite outrageous odds. If you like more contemporary, have them fight a terminal disease together. Nothing defines and tests the bounds of a relationship like adversity and hardship. Give your readers something to root for.

Banter (but don't over do it)

Obviously, a good couple has chemistry. That chemistry should always be reflected in your dialogue. It's not just about the narrative of oh he's so hot with his pressed white shirt and stubble on his chin. What is their tone when they speak to each other? Sarcastic? Flirty? Is one character kind of awkward? What emotions are evoked by what the other just said? Kingdom From Ashes is a great example of good couple banter with Bennua and Zahid.

Also with banter, make sure you have the right amount. Too much back-and-forth can get awkward and boring. Like when you're hanging out with friends and two of them will just not stop flirting and openly admit they like each other already. You know it. Everyone else knows it. Let's move on. 


Realistic Characters

One of my all-time favorite fictional couples is Jim and Pam from "The Office". Why? They're nothing special. They don't have magical powers and they aren't royalty. They flirt over a reception desk and get caught up in office shenanigans. They are good, well meaning, everyday people. Anyone could be Jim and Pam and that's why everyone likes them as a couple.

Just so we're clear: magical powers and secret royal heritage are great in the right concept. I truly love it. Even if you write fantasy. you can still make sure your characters are well rounded. What are their flaws? What's holding them back? What do the other characters not about them? Have believable characters and you'll have a believable romance.  

Love and War

Couples fight. Everyone does it. And if Romeo and Juliet had lived long enough, they would have fought eventually, too. No matter how compatible two people are, they are not the same, and sometimes their differences will cause problems. Think about what would cause a rift in your characters' relationship. How do each of them react to the fight(s)? Does it affect the overall goal they are trying to accomplish? How do they resolve it?

Give and Take

It's important to understand what each character gets out of they relationship, and for your readers to understand the motivation as well. One reason I never liked a very popular couple was because I could never pin-point what it was that attracted them to each other. Besides of course their smokin' good looks. But a real relationship is more than just looks. What is the glue that holds the couple together? Without it, you don't have a couple. You have a fling.

If you're having a hard time with this, think about your own current or past relationships. Why are you with the person you are now? What do they do for you? If you're currently between relationships, think about someone from the past that didn't work out. What more did you need from that person in order to have made the relationship work? To get a little personal, one of the reasons I ended up with my husband (besides his smokin' hot good looks) is because I need his positive energy in my life. Seriously, I can't live without it. He is usually always upbeat and making me laugh and we have so much fun together, even if we are just cutting his hair or getting the oil changed in the car. He is the perfect balance to me, who battles depression and constantly worries about everything. What does he get out of the relationship? Well, I have my guesses, but really you'd have to ask him. ;)


I hope this helps someone. I am a Lover of Loving Love and an advocate for healthy relationships. If you have any other points as to what makes a dynamic fictional couple, I'd love to read them in the comments!

 Happy Valentines Day!

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Sigil in Shadow

Here it is! Everything is official...


In Stores and Online

July 12th



 Ellary Dane knows she deserves to die

- but not for a crime she didn’t commit.

She believes her 19 year streak of bad luck is over when she accidentally saves the life of a highborn officer and is taken to court to study under the tutelage of the most renowned healer in the kingdom. Suspicions surround her sudden presence, making her more enemies than allies. She soon finds herself ripped from her warm palace sheets and thrown into a dank prison cell.

As nobles vie for their spot on the throne, Ellary learns she is bound to a secret history that could change the kingdom forever. If she is going to break her chains, she must trust the charming stranger labeled as her accomplice and face the lie that pushed her into the silent warfare of highborn society.

Now available to


Monday, February 8, 2016

Book Review: The Last Night by Heather Kirchhoff

The Last Night


Heather Kirchhoff


After Sarah Hill's boyfriend dies, everything changes. Caught up in her grief and desire to see him again, Sarah is challenged in moving on. She's sucked back into the world Sarah was in before they started dating-being invisible, bullied. She slowly begins to pull away from everyone, unable to do it anymore. Then one day her reality comes crashing down all around her, pushing Sarah to the edge...



I received a free ecopy of this book for participating in the blog tour. It was a really quick read and I read it in about 3 days (which is really rare for me)

Holy cow, the feels in this book. I knew that going in, but it was still heart wrenching. The reader is dumped right into the lap of Sarah's grief right after her boyfriend commits suicide. Her family doesn't seem very supportive either. For awhile, it looks like the only person who truly understands is her kid brother, which made me tear up a bit. 

I'll warn you, the subject matter in this gets a little dark and if you don't take the book in the right context it can be kind of a downer at times. But I honestly think Sarah goes through some feelings that cross through a lot of people at one point or another in their lives. She doesn't deal with them perfectly, but this is a beautiful story if you like to read about someone overcoming tragedy. It's a little slow (as is the norm with this genre) and it will make you sad and even angry sometimes, but the ending leaves you with a nice surprise. 

4 stars
* * * *


Friday, February 5, 2016

Book Review: Queen of Tomorrow by Sherry D. Ficklin

Queen of Tomorrow

(Stolen Empire Series #2)


Sherry D. Ficklin




Sophie―now Catherine, Grand Duchess of Russia―had a tough first year at Imperial Court. Married at sixteen to Grand Duke Peter, heir to the throne, and settled in their own palace, things start to look up. As a new day dawns, Catherine thinks only of securing her future, and the future of their country, during one of the greatest political upheavals of her time. Fighting desperately against forces that try to depose the Empress Elizabeth and put the young Prince Ivan on her throne, Catherine soon finds herself in the middle of a war brewing between her beloved Prussia and her new empire. While navigating the fragile political landscape, she quickly realizes that she has only begun to discover the tangled web of deceit and infidelity woven over the lavish court of Oranienbaum Palace.

When a strange and delicate alliance forms between the young couple, Catherine glimpses a future of happiness, only to see it vanish at the hands of those who still seek to end her life―and prevent her reign. Out of favor with the empress and running out of options, Catherine must sacrifice her own innocence on the altar of Russia if she is to save the nation and herself. To survive, she will have to do the unthinkable, betray those closest to her and become something greater and more dangerous than she ever imagined she could be… a queen.


I became obsessed with this series while reading Queen of Someday, which you can get get for free in the Kindle store. I got the paperback of Queen of Tomorrow for Christmas and I started it right away. (I actually finished the book weeks ago, but because I've had to focus on hitting my editing deadline, I've had zero time or motivation for reviews...or for anything else. Hopefully things will go back to a normal pace next week.)

Book #2 has all of the intrigue, history, and romance that I loved about the first one. Things were a little different this time around though. Peter's wrath gets more intense and there's some pretty dark stuff that readers will have to deal with. The story takes you back and forth between two castles and courts. I was surprised to find out I didn't want to leave Winter Palace as much. After reading the first book, it kind of felt like home.

There is great character development for our dear little Sophie. After the heartbreaking events in Queen of Someday, she is certainly hardened. She has a lot of tough decisions to make and there isn't always a "right one". After she is finally pushed to her breaking point, she resolves to do something I don't think anyone saw coming.

Ficklin's story telling is beautiful and brilliant, as always, and I didn't want this book to end. I think the only real problem I have with these books is that they're too short! I'm definitely getting the conclusion, Queen of Always, soon, so catch up to me and watch out for the review!

5 stars   
* * * * *   

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Book Basket Giveaway!

Gryfyn Publishing is giving away an autographed copy of 
Kingdom From Ashes! 

This was one of my favorite books last year so I wanted to share the opportunity with everyone. In addition to winning a fantastic book, you'll also get a basket of goodies. 

(psst...That's how I got all the books in the Kingdom Saga for free!)

Good Luck!


Monday, February 1, 2016

Author Spotlight: Sherry D. Ficklin

Guess what!? I'm officially a #HACKER!

Okay, stop laughing. You're right, I can barely remember my password for my email, BUT, I did sign up for the Digital Horizon blog tour, book #3 in the #HACKER series. Which means...I got an exclusive interview with the author Sherry D. Ficklin!

This is super exciting. You remember how much I raved about her book Queen of Someday from the Stolen Empire series. (Review of Queen of Tomorrow coming later this week) Well I had to check out her YA contemporary series #HACKER. The first book is Playing With Fire and it's currently FREE in the Kindle store. Catch up to me because I'm going to read book #2 soon and book #3 will be released on 2/8/216!

Sherry D. Ficklin



 Sherry is a full time writer from Colorado and the author of over a dozen novels for teens and young adults including the best selling Stolen Empire series. She can often be found browsing her local bookstore with a large white hot chocolate in one hand and a towering stack of books in the other. That is, unless she's on deadline at which time she, like the Loch Ness monster, is only seen in blurry photographs.
Sherry also writes New Adult fiction under the pen name Ranae Glass and is a contributing writer for You can find her at her official website,, or stalk her on her Facebook page 

Your most popular series' Stolen Empire and #HACKER are in completely different genres. When writing, was it difficult to switch from historical fiction to YA contemporary?

It wasn't has hard for me is it is for everyone else. My mind is always spinning off in new directions, so each project is decidedly different from the last. I'ts a VERY hard way to build a fan base though, because they are so different. But I don't think i could just write one type of story over and over. 

The main character in the #HACKER series, Ferris, is a military brat. Did you have a similar type of childhood?


I did, as a matter of fact, the locations in the book are all places I've lived myself. Though, I'm roadkill on the internet and terrible at programming stuff. I had a WONDERFUL group of talented people helping me with the research in those scenes. 


Ferris is very tech savvy, obviously. Did that aspect of her character require a lot of research or do you have a similar skill set?

So much research. Farris is sort of a blend of myself at that age and a handful of people far more tech savvy than myself. 

In your book Queen of Someday, the first book in the Stolen Empire series, there are links to commentary videos at the end of every few chapters. Such a neat feature! Do you have plans to do that for any other books?



What we discovered with that (and I LOVED doing it BTW) was that it made the files so big that older readers couldn't open them. At the end of the day, it was decided that if I ever do them again, it will be hosted on my website as opposed to in the digital files, for the sake of file size. 


How do you balance the busy life of a full-time writer while taking care of your big family? 

Badly! I have a Life Planner and it helps keep me on task, helps me sort of portion out my time. The best part of my job is that  have the luxury of always putting my family first. If one of the kids has the flu and i miss a week of writing, I'm not getting fired. A lot of people don't have that option. 

If you were locked in overnight in a fully functioning amusement park, what's the first thing you would do?

Ok, so fun story. When I was in High School we lived a few miles from an amusement park. So one day my best friend and I ditched school (I'm a TERRIBLE example here) and went down. Only it was like ten in the morning and the place was a freaking ghost town--maybe a handful of people in the whole place. So we rode the big roller coaster till we puked, then rode it some more. I'm bad at making good choices, lol.

What's a typical writing day like for you?

It varies, but I always start with 30-45 minutes on the treadmill and then some tea and music. Helps me get into the right mindset to start my day.Right now I'm writing on my new top secret project which is set in the 1920's, so there is lots of swing and jazz happening. 

What advice to you have for aspiring writers?

Don't quit. It's the hardest thing you will ever do, finishing a book. But just keep pushing. Even if every page feels like crap, just get it done. Because once you've done it once, it becomes easier and easier and you get better and better. 

What's next for you after the third #HACKERS book?

Well, there's still 3 more in the #HACKER series, so I will be working on those over the next year, we're hoping to release book 4 in the winter 2016. But I'm taking a short break to work on The Canary Club and a paranormal novella serial I'm going to be releasing this summer. Basically, just lots and lots of writing. And i wouldn't have it any other way!

My favorite series of the year so far!