Friday, October 27, 2006

Taking You Out of Your Comfort Zone

I get that from my readers many times. Over the years as I’ve written, I fascinate myself of the process I go through to get from 0 words on the page to over seventy thousand words of twists, turns and romance. The first time I ever looked at my own process was when I was twenty-nine, trying to look for a thing for my daughter and I wandered upon my second published book, Stone’s Revenge, that had been handwritten when I was sixteen. I forgot about looking for the thing and begin to read what I had written before I even knew what love was, let alone a love scene and had never experienced a day of abuse. Yet, I was able to bring forth a character named William Stone, who was just the most beautiful Hispanic man this side of the Mississippi, but with a father as a serial killer. I don’t know how or where this man came from, but he was complicated and needed love, but didn’t know how to obtain it. That’s where Abigail McPherson came in, who was the daughter of the prosecuting attorney that was William’s nemesis. (I told you I have twists and turns).

From analyzing that experience as I rewrote the book, which was very little from its original concept, I found that I had a knack for taking ordinary people going through the same things you and I are going through and making their lives extraordinary.

How? By taking my reader out of their comfort zone. I found that in order for the reader to accept the situation that I thrust my protagonist in, I had to make them like something that shouldn’t be right.

How? For example, (and I can’t go into real detail without giving away the story), in my newest book, Mistaken Identity, I took a twin, who was jealous of her sister – rich fiancé, beautiful house, and wonderful life – and once the reader sympathize with this jealousy, it was alright to allow the protagonist to sleep with her brother-in-law. Of course there are a lot more twists and turns in the story and one reader said it’s the crying game of erotic where no one will tell the secret ending (LOL), but when I published Mistaken Identity my fear was that people would just say, “Sylvia, you’re nasty.” (Which I was about to call this post) .

Yet, people who have read the story say, “I was uncomfortable, but I couldn’t stop reading.” I like when they say that, because that means I’ve accomplished what I set out to do, give you a good story by taking you into my world, made you accept it and enjoyed yourself. I hope to do this with each and every book.

So let me take you out of your comfort zone.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Darling Nikki

"Why did you write My Invisible Husband?" is a question that I'm often asked. On a subconscious level, the story idea actually developed after hearing people ask me one too many times "So when are you getting married?" The second reason is because the character, Nicolette "Nikki" Montana, wouldn’t let me sleep well until I wrote her story. (smile)

For those who haven't read My Invisible Husband yet, here’s a short synopsis: To appease her family and friends, 34-year-old Nicolette Montana fakes a Las Vegas wedding. On her return trip to Dallas, she meets the dashing Byron Matthews. When she gets caught up in her web of deceit, she's forced to ask Byron to step in to fill the void. Byron vows to help Nikki even if it means making certain sacrifices. How Nikki handles her web of deceit makes for a dramatic and sometimes comical story.

I will let Nikki tell her story in her own words:
Shelia Goss: Please introduce yourself.
Nicolette Montana: My name is Nicolette Montana but everyone calls me Nikki. I am 34 years old and as far as everyone knows, I'm engaged.

Shelia: What advice would you give other women who are in their 30s and have never been married?
Nikki: If you find a man that you love and the feelings are reciprocated, go for it. Otherwise, don't let your age cause you to bow down to the pressure.

Shelia: Were you pressured?
Nikki: Uh. Well. No. I just felt the need to share that with your readers.

Shelia: Tell us something special about your relationship.
Nikki: Where do I begin? He's everything I've dreamed of. He treats me like a queen and he's good eye-candy.

Shelia: If you could change anything about your relationship, what would it be?
Nikki: I wish he didn't travel as much.

Shelia: Do you think having a good sense of humor is important in a relationship?
Nikki: Yes. Very. Once we get married, he'll be away so much - I've already started calling him My Invisible Husband.

Of course in the interview, Nikki fails to reveal that it’s all a façade. Some would say that Nikki's world is unrealistic. The fiction world that was created around Nikki Montana pales in comparison to the real life drama of Jennifer Wilbanks—the Runaway Bride that made the news last year and who recently made the news again when she filed a suit against her ex for $500,000.00. Jennifer Wilbanks proves that someone's fiction is another person's reality.

All of my books are "stories with a twist." My goal is to take real life situations, make them entertaining, but also make you think.

P.S. - Thank you Donna Hill Promotions for allowing me the opportunity to introduce Nikki on your blog.

Shelia M Goss

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

In The Beginning...


So it’s another love story, well that’s a given. But the most important part to me in a romance is the journey to finding that love. LOVE ME LIKE NO OTHER starts a new series with Kimani Romance, a series of journeys and the beginning of several beautiful friendships. Okay, okay, I watch too many old movies. :)

This story started with a vision. Picture this: three absolutely yummy black men with more money then they could possibly spend in three lifetimes and enough negative female experiences to erect another Great Wall in China.

Lincoln Donovan took the lead mainly because I love the name Linc, and secondly because he’s the oldest brother and thus sets the example for the others to follow. I’m the oldest child in my family so my parents constantly fed me that tired line. Linc is too fine, too rich and too arrogant, thus making him too much for any woman to deal with. I like this type of hero because it’s so satisfying to find that small crack in his heart and break through.

Jade Vincent was the perfect nemesis because she was also a victim of the ‘too’ syndrome. She’s too loyal and too trusting which is what lands her at the mercy of the infamous Lincoln Donovan. And because life is always throwing curve balls Jade and Linc share the memory of one scorching night together. Needless to say as I went through the process of drafting the scenes that would finally pull this couple together I was touched by their contrasts and encouraged by their tenacity.

A.C. Arthur

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Building a Character

One of my most compelling female characters was Rayne Holland of IN MY BEDROOM. It was the first time that I attempted to do a psychological story--really get into the mind of a character who stood on the precipice of sanity. There were many questions I asked myself about what would cause a person to develop a split personality or become bi-polar. The answer that I settled on was a traumatic sexual assault. To up the ante I made that assault an incestuous one.

In looking through the stacks of papers that I have in my makeshift office, I ran across the original handwritten notes that I used to build Rayne Holland. From these notes an unforgettable character was born.

Rayne Holland:
Raised in her early years by her father. Mother died when Rayne was eight, the result of a weak heart, weakened further by the pregnancy and the ensuing years. Rayne always felt the loss and a sense of guilt--heaped upon her by her father. She felt at fault and believed she had to "make up" for her mother's loss.

Rayne was in desperate need of love. Father, in his own twisted grief begins assualting Rayne (who looks just like her mother) shortly after her mother's funeral and continues to do so until she is almost sixteen and her remarries (Edith). Although Rayne was terribly ashamed she felt this was maybe a way to "please" her father--get him to love her. Inside she knows it is wrong and in an attempt to deal with her self-hatred and guilt her personality fractures.

Edith suspects what is going on. Convinces her husband to send Rayne to live with his sister--in an attempt to protect Rayne and her marriage.

Rayne grows up withdrawn. Becomes absorbed in books, reading, television and movies. Ultimately gets a degree in film.

The nature of her work as a filmaker is reflective of her reality/personality--all fabrication. Making something out of nothing--creating an imaginary world. This is where she can bloom and feel almost human when she is creating.

She has successfully buried the assaults deep in her subconscious and it is not until a life-altering accidents takes place that the demons begin to rise to the surface and the two personalities begin to battle.

Well... that's how I began to build Rayne Holland and took her on a journey of self-discovery and healing.

How SWEET SURRENDER Turned Into A Story

First, major thank you for this blog by Donna Hill Promotions where I and my fellow authors under DHP will chat about interesting details behind our work.

My September release, Sweet Surrender, like most of my stories start with creating the characters and then the plot follows when I'm in creating mode. I literally have my characters side by side on the page and work on their strengths and weaknesses, aiming for as much conflict, as possible.

In this particular story, I introduced the Masterson family. This family is without a leader in the form of a mother or father. But like all group forming processes, someone has to emerge as a leader to keep cohesion in the group.

This is especially personal to me since my brother stepped up in the big brother/paternal role when my mother, brother and I moved to the U.S. My father was still in Guyana. I remembered how much I hated my brother to transform into the big brother role. Since he is seven years older, you'd think that I could accept this permanent hierachy. But, oh no, we fought like you wouldn't believe until after my college years. Around the time of my wedding, the relationship changed and now, I'm not likely to clobber him when he begins a sentence with "As your big brother...."

Phillip Masterson, the eldest brother, acts as the self-appointed leader. His siblings would probably accuse him of being a dictator. Yet none of the siblings can deny that he did play a major and vital role in them all being reasonably successful, productive members of society. Of course, Phillip would disagree with that claim when it comes to his youngest brother, Omar. Omar doesn't care for the smothering from her brother or sisters.

As far as the story setting, which takes place in the mountains in Western Maryland, I borrowed the images from the history of many suburban cities in my home state. Many of the cities were small populated areas near a major train station, factory, or port. Cities are now aggressively pursuing revitilization of historic buildings and areas to keep a bit of the past in the rapidly expanding present and future. Street names, like Main Street, is a common sight with shopkeepers and older residents knowing each other, along with past generations. Hampton Mews where the story is set provides a wonderful fantasy retreat for me.

I also think that the house has its own personality. Here is a house that sheltered a family where the father abandoned them and the mother died. While the outside world was cold and painful, at times, the Mastersons could come home and enjoy their familial bonds.

When Haley and her daughter move to the town, it is only right that they should find their refuge in this home of love. This house will be a central part in each sibling's story where forgiveness, acceptance, and even repentance occur.

I have several autographed copies of Sweet Surrender available at Turn The Page Bookstore - This link will take you directly to the Order Books page -

As I often say - Books make great gifts!

Michelle Monkou

A Brotha in Timberland Boots

Yesterday a reader asked me where did I come up with my latest hero, Reginald Hodges? Well, I'm gonna tell you. I was at the club with my girls one Friday night sipping apple martinis and bobbing my head to the beat of the music when this man walked in. My heart started racing. My hand was shaking so bad I had to put my drink down. Brotha was fine! Cornrows. Throwback jersey. Loose fitted jeans. And Timberland boots. All three of us noticed and I couldn't take my eyes off this man. He looked like the good Lord had dipped him in a pot of chocolate, and them eyes! Oh me. Oh my! They were large and light brown and drew you in with one long piercing look. After asking around, the girl at the next table told me his name was Reggie and that he did odd jobs in the neighborhood. Painting. Remodeling. You name it. I didn't move the rest of the night. All I did was stare and try to decide which room I needed painted first. By the end of the night I had his business card in hand, and as soon as I got home, I started preparing a character description for my next book. Just a regular brotha from the hood, wearing low riding jeans and Timberland boots. With that in mind, A Delight Before Christmas was born.

Angie Daniels