Thursday, February 17, 2011

Kisses, SEALed, and Otherwise


By Mary Margret Daughtridge

The other day, Shana admitted that her first kiss did not transport her with delight. Well, Shana, I can beat that. I don’t remember my first kiss at all unless seventh-grade spin-the-bottle counts.

But we all know those exploratory kisses of nascent sexuality are not the real thing. They’re practice runs, dress rehearsals. They’re not the make-or-break test that kissing will become later when finding a kiss unpleasant kills any hope of a relationship ever developing.

The first kiss of true love or true lust—now that’s something to write home about.

I well remember the first boy who kissed really well. But not the second. Or third.

When it comes to the first kiss moment in a romance, writer of contemporary that I am, I often envy historical and Regency writers. Those guys have it easier, in my opinion. Heroines are almost always virgins, and what with chaperones and all, haven’t been kissed more than a few times in their lives—and almost surely they haven’t done any down and dirty make out sessions.

Making that first kiss life changing is a piece of cake. Any kiss that’s really, really good is going to rock the heroine’s world.

Not so for the far more experienced contemporary heroine—or her hapless writer. My heroines have likely had several serious relationships. They’re not going to be bowled over by a kiss—even a fabulous one. For the modern heroine, one kiss does not a turning point make.

My challenge is to come up with a kiss that’s good—it’s gotta be good—and also changes the course of the relationship. I like to solve the problem by making the setup to the kiss something that confounds the hero or heroine’s expectations.

Here’s the set up to the first kiss in SEALed Forever which will be out in May.

Garth, a SEAL working undercover, finds a baby stowaway aboard a spy plane. Alarmed by the baby’s condition, he takes her to Bronwyn, a physician who is new in town. He lets her think he’s the child’s father. In short order she begins to see through the holes in his story.

“You’re not this baby’s father. You were in Afghanistan when she was conceived.”

Garth didn’t deny it. His face registered no emotion Bronwyn could read.

“If I’d been able to reach JJ,” she added, “I would have already put all the facts together and called the police.”

“What facts?”

His dead-level-calm voice made her see red.“What facts?”

“What facts necessitate bringing in the authorities?”

“Fact: you are in possession of a baby who is not yours. Fact: she was drugged and allowed to get dehydrated. The simplest explanation is that you kidnapped her, accidentally overdosed her and became alarmed.”

She reached into her pocket for her cell phone and remembered she’d plugged it into the charger. She crossed her arms under her breasts. “Start talking. And you’d better include all the reasons I shouldn’t report a kidnapping.”

The house creaked in the silence that ensued as they faced off. He sat absolutely immobile—immobility she had no doubt he could maintain for hours.

His intensely blue eyes were the only life in his face. Once, on an Alaskan cruise, Bronwyn had seen icebergs breaking off a mountain of a glacier and dropping into the sea. The deep clear aqua of ice that had been under pressure for eons had been exactly the same color.

Deep inside she shivered. The color thrilled her now as it had then with its beauty and with its message that she was in the presence of immense forces. Her heart pounded. Her nerves stretched tight. Still she refused to look away. She had already yielded to the force of this man’s presence too many times today.

At last the brilliance of his eyes faded slightly—almost sadly—but his eyes didn’t waver. “I can’t.”

“Huh?”

“I can’t tell you.” He elucidated.

“Why not?”

“I can’t tell you that either.”

“Not good enough! You really don’t think I’m going to let you walk out of here with her, do you?”

“I don’t know,” he responded gravely as if he hadn’t understand the rhetorical nature of her question. “I want to tell you more than I’ve ever wanted anything in my life. More than I’ve ever wanted anything at all,” he repeated in the same gravelly, uninflected tone, “except to kiss you.”

Don't forget that those who comment shall be rewarded!

47 comments:

  1. Mary Margret, I love the set up here and the tension between the characters. I can see your talent as a writer in this excerpt.

    As to first kisses, I can't remember mine either. Oh my gosh. I just had a flashback. I think it was a guy named Terry. It was just a quick peck. Now, I need to remember the first real kiss.

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  2. What a wonderful set up for a story, much less a first kiss! Quite a twist on the secret baby--I am impressed and curious and ready to read the whole book, you dawg you. Thanks for a lovely post!

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  3. I love the description of his eyes. I've never seen that kind of "ice blue" but the picture helps explain it.

    Thanks for posting!

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  4. Wonderful scene, Mary Margret! I love the depth of emotion that you create here. ;)

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  5. MM! Now where did that baby come from? And what's going to happen to it? Please don't let those two people put it into the system! See, I'm already right there in the middle of the argument and wishing he would hurry up and kiss her because I just know that if he does she'll understand that he's a wonderful hero!

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  6. That was a great build up between them two. I also want to know where the baby came from and what happens. Will have to read the book:)

    I am getting too old to remember my first kiss, I do remember several that stuck in my mind.

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  7. Great scene, MM!!! Super way to show conflict and a wonderful twist.

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  8. That is a fun scene! I hope he doesn't have to wait too long to get that kiss! LOL. I barely remember my first kiss so it couldn't have meant very much to me.

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  9. Loved the scene...makes me want to read more!

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  10. Anita,

    Thanks for the kind words.

    As for remembering kisses...In foresight one's first kiss seems so significant, and in hindsight turns out to be about as momentous as a soap bubble popping. :-)

    In these days when young people are allowed lots of experimentation, I figure my job is to make the first kiss anything but experimental.

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  11. Glad you liked it Grace. And of course, you saw through me. :-) I had an actual kiss scene picked out, but realized this one encapsulated the heart of the conflict, and made a perfect teaser for the entire book. Couldn't resist. :-)

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  12. Ashlyn, adding the picture was a complete afterthought--as you can see by looking at what it did to my layout. But I began to think some people would find the scenelet unsatisfying because they didn't know what color "iceberg blue" was.

    I'm glad the picture worked for you, even if it trashed my layout.

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  14. Thanks, CH. There's no higher compliment to an author, in my opinion, than to be told she put real emotion on the page.

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  15. What a great scene, I can just picture it in my mind.

    My first real kiss was at a teen age party playing kissing games, will never forget it. I thought myself to be in love after.

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  16. Carolyn, how beautifully your comment encapsulates something that can be very difficult to teach newbie writers. Which is, that the reader's hopes, fears, and expectations are part of the book.You mention several plot elements that are not in the excerpt but are in the book.

    And just to tease you further, I'll tell you that failure to turn a foundling over to "the system" is a felony. If Bronwyn guesses wrong, at the very least she stands to lose her medical license, and at this point, her work is all she has.

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  17. Grace, you spotted the "hidden baby" twist!

    I adore hidden baby plots, but in a modern setting the standard "she had a child and never told the father" plot is too hard to motivate--just another reason I envy Regency writers. They get all the best plots.

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  18. Judy, you're not too old to remember. You're too wise to carry such non-essential baggage.

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  19. Stacie, I do make him (and the reader) wait--but hopefully, not TOO long. IMHO, the buildup is everything!

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  20. Wow, Virginia. A first kiss that was worth remembering.:-) Good for you!

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  21. Oh that picture was so not needed that description was truly chilling! I can't blame Bronwyn for being overwhelmed. Thank you for sharing.

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  22. awww you left us wanting more!! I remember my first real kiss (back in the day it was called French kissing - don't know if it still is lol). I married the guy so need I say more!!

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  23. Fabulous! I well understand the dilemma of the writer of contemporary, much-kissed heroines, but you certainly made the kiss special!

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  24. Stephanie,

    Technically, this scene shows the "copulatory gaze" stage of the sexual dance, rather than the first kiss.

    Thanks for reassuring me that the picture wasn't needed--since it's not in the book! It's good to know the metaphor comes through anyway.

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  25. Ah Castlady! Goooooood first kiss!

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  26. Shana,

    {grin} "Contemporary, much-kissed heroine." I love it. I think I'll steal it.

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  27. What is it about a Navy SEAL that draws me in every time? Perfect excerpt! The unanswered questions leave me wanting more!

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  28. What a fantastic excerpt. I cannot wait to read this and see what happens next!

    As to my first kiss I do not remember it at all and my experience is limited, much like those Regency virgins ;-)

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  29. Cindy,

    Darned if I know. The other Casababes and I have recently been pondering what makes Scotsmen in kilts, SEALs, and cowboys so sexy. The discussion quickly degenerated into gossip about what they have on underneath--which shows you the tenor of our minds. :-)

    Glad you liked the excerpt.

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  30. Well Venus, there goes my theory that a plethora of kisses reduces the meaning of any one kiss!

    I guess you're saying: few or many, a kiss just means what it means.

    Thanks for weighing in.

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  31. Oooo nice plot set up - leaves me wanting more! I also don't really remember much about my first kiss. But I do remember the first kiss of the man I married. Lots of fireworks!

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  32. Now see, Amanda. Regency or contemporary, that's what we all want to hear. :-)

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  33. Oh goody!! I loved the first three books. Love the premise of this one already.

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  34. What a tease you are, MM! Love the build up!

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  35. Thanks Mary G. Dare I say I hope you'll like SEALed Forever, too?

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  36. Yeah, Cheryl, I'm a tease.

    I feel bad about it.

    Well, anyway, I know I should feel bad about it.

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  37. I love the comparison to the color of his eyes as the deep blue aqua of ice. Lovely!

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  38. How do you do that? I read a couple of sentences and BAM I'm in the story, and now I have to wait to read the rest! I pre-ordered it at Amazon, today. I had to know I would have it in my hot little hands ASAP. Hate waiting. And loved the other SEALed books!

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  39. I've never seen that particular shade of blue and he has eyes that color. SWOON!

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  40. Kathryne, I'm glad you think the eye color passage worked. Sometimes I would read it and think it was "overwrought" but the metaphor was exactly what I wanted--and I didn't have a better idea. :-)

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  41. great scene. Sounds like a great book and now I want to know what happens next. LOL :-)


    Larena

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  42. Wow Judy. That's high praise. Thank you.

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  43. Olivia, I hadn't ever seen that shade until I saw icebergs--real, in-the-flesh icebergs.It's jaw-dropping.

    Now, have someone ready to catch you and imagine eyes that color set in a deeply tanned face.

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  44. Oh I loved that excerpt. Great set up. I love it when there is some sort of tension. I really want to know what happens.

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  45. My first kiss was gross. Seventh grade. His first kiss, too.

    My REAL first kiss lasted forever, peppermint sweet and eternal.

    I write. My writing has romantic elements, but is non-genre specific (first kisses always touch me, though) and I read the occasional romance for fun.

    Thanks for the excerpts.

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