Thursday, September 10, 2015

Conflicted

I haven't written in over a week, and I totally missed fifth day! But in my defense ...

Lately I've been super pressed by plans to rehype the Kingsley Series, in preparation to release More Than Friends on November 10. I'm in line to do that, and most of the plans I had set for myself are working out nicely, which I love, but I have been thinking a lot lately about my choices for the plot and character conflicts within my books.

In Fighting For Freedom, there is external conflict. In Selkie, there is external conflict. In Courageous, same thing. External conflict is a valuable tool, a way for authors to endear their characters to their readers. A way to express a character's strength and morality, the way they view the world and the way they work within it.

But what about when a writer purposely chooses to (mostly) ignore external conflict in an effort to get deeper? Throughout the Kingsley Series, internal conflict is the largest focus. Yes, this creates a slower pace, and yes, it doesn't have a lot of super exciting action. But what it does is get down to the heart of why we read ... to be touched by the way people can grow and develop in spite of the external factors. Fat Chance has some external conflict, but only to fuel the pain and rejection Cass is already feeling internally. Only to fuel her depression, because a woman like Cass ... the truth is, the world at large tells women like Cass that they aren't good enough, that they don't deserve to exist. You've all probably heard about, read about, or seen the recent youtube video that caused such a fuss by doing exactly that -- and I'm purposely not linking it here because it's vile and disgusting. It's why people like Cass need books about people like Cass; to remind us in our hearts, we, like everyone else, want to belong to something. To be accepted, to be wanted, to be loved. To be somebody's somebody. The struggle is no less real for the fact that it's internal ... and maybe the fact that it's internal makes it more real.

In Prescription For Love, the theme continues. Cameron doesn't have a lot of external conflict, because I felt that what she had endured in the past was more than enough. It helped to make her who she is in the beginning of the story, and it helps to bring her around to who she'll be in the end. We're all made up of the sum total of the events in our pasts, right? And Cameron's conflict exists now in the deepest places in the back of her mind, in the most vulnerable corner of her heart. It's internal. A terrible event still affects her daily life, but it does it by hurting the way she sees things, the way she feels about things. She isn't fighting a monster or running from a bad guy, but she's living with a struggle just like everyone else, and yet a seed of longing still exists -- a longing to believe that love can be a real and lasting thing, in spite of the horror that she has experienced. The external conflict is over long before the story begins, but it leaves behind an internal monster that does not die easily.

In Wrestling Harmony, there is a very small amount of external conflict, but there is still plenty of battling for our character to deal with. She's living under the grip of crippling anxiety, spawned by one singular but very traumatic memory, and is somewhat stagnant in her daily life because she's too nervous to move forward. She has no idea what she wants or where she's going. But then, along comes a boy, and her calm everyday routine is gone. Everything changes. And sure, there's external issues like work and friends and fitting into the Kingsley family dynamic. But the deeper conflict is the one that changes Harmony from what she was to what she can be, as is true of the entire series.

When you read The Kingsley Series, don't read it seeking bullies and fight scenes, drama and crashes and things like that. Even if it's there you won't catch me focusing on it, because that's not what these stories are about. But if you want to open your heart to real characters who are buried in the process of becoming, and you want to watch them learn to be something even they didn't think was possible, then it's past time for you to meet the Kingsleys.

Introduce yourself to Cass and Drew, Cameron and Mac, Harmony and Xander. See them learn to open their hearts, not just within the bonds of family, but in love.

And if you like them, then you will LOVE Michael. I already do.


In other news:
  • I was interviewed last month by Jodie Pierce, an awesome author who loves to shine her spotlight on others. It was great to sit down and answer her questions! Check it out here.
  • Also, I won a spotlight post from Just Another Girl and Her Books (blog). In it, Katie was so sweet to share not only the info and links to one of my books, but for all of them! There are a few teasers you may not have seen, too, and there's another interview!
Interviews are an amazing way to get to know your favorite authors, so if I'm one of yours, don't forget to check the links above, and leave a comment to tell us your favorite part!

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