I’d been meaning to write an article concerning this topic for a while now. Actually, I’d been meaning to write an article to post on this blog period! But as they say, life comes atcha fast, and here I am sitting in the middle of a whirlwind wondering when I’ll ever have time to actually write something that’s not related to my books between work and everything else grabbing at my attention.
Including games of solitaire. Like … ?
But okay, let’s get going while the going’s good, and today’s subject, boys and girls, is the Mate’s Trope in PNR (I know it’s featured in a few other genres, but I’m going to focus on PNR since that’s largely what I write for). To best understand this trope, one needs a little insight into what romance is overall, so allow me to offer a brief explanation.
Romance novels are stories of how two people meet, fall in love, and make a lasting commitment to each other. Whether contemporary, historical, or fantastical in setting, someone is finding true love! Thankfully, imagination has given us writers a vast number of tools to both create our stories and pair these couples off as an item. The couple meets, and may not like each other at first, but something about this person eventually draws them in, and romantic shenanigans ensue! A look, a touch, a few words spoken, all of it feeds an emotional development that will eventually lead to the discovery that hey! This person is the one I want to be with, for better or worse!
Bottom line: Romances are stories of true love with a happy ending.
With that said, let’s really talk about these tools authors use to get their couples off the ground. Whether the two meet and know from the start that there’s an attraction, or they don’t really discover/acknowledge their true feelings until the last few chapters, there are hundreds of ways to develop the relationship. But where most romances do this via use of human psychology to evoke romantic responses, there’s another means of getting these people together without all of the emotional hoopla getting in the way, and it’s a means the paranormal genre has taken huge advantage of:
The mate’s trope!
This trope is honestly unique among romance. Instead of having a couple meet and remain friendly (or enemy-ly) for several chapters of the story with no hint of romantic affiliation, an instinctive response instantly manifests, and something tells this character they’ve found the person they’re meant to be with without any of that pesky soul searching and emotional baggage gumming up the works.
The reason this trope operates in such a fashion is that one or both of the characters aren’t actually human. They’re werewolves or vampires or elves with supernatural traits and/or abilities, and they just know they’ve found the one!
Here’s an excerpt from one of my books that might better explain what I’m talking about:
“Dalris, you’re squeezing me!”
Somehow, Robi’s complaint broke through his stupor, and as he loosened his grip enough to allow her to hop down to the floor, he also heard her gasping.
“Whoa! Are you okay?”
“Oh shit,” Jada cussed, sounding strangely surprised, and he couldn’t figure out what was wrong at first.
But then he heard a possessive growl, and soon realized it was his own.
Dalris was in Wrath at the sight of his eternal mate.
This is a very popular trope in the romance community, specifically because it allows for some interesting twists and turns that won’t be found in other books. Yet, like all tools, it has both pros and cons to consider when using it, though before I get into any of that, let me back up a few steps and tell a quick story (don’t worry, I’m a writer, this is what I’m paid to do! :P)
I hadn’t thought too much about the difference between the mate’s trope and your “average” (for lack of a better word) romance much, even when I started writing The Crucible Series (which is PNR and features the mate’s trope). What I’d really considered was how the trope had been used, what I liked/didn’t like about it, and how to proceed with using it in my first book, Blue Moon. I’ll get into this a little more later, but for now, I’ll just say that it wasn’t until Fangirl-Musings did a video review of Strange Brew that I really started considering it.
Strange Brew was the first book I wrote where at least one of the characters (Troy) knew who their mate was without even knowing their name. My first two books, Blue Moon and Light of Dawn, differed in this regard (the couples in those books didn’t just look at their partner and declare yep! You’re the one!). With that said, in the video review, Fangirl-Musings critiques the story by stating that it seemed as if Troy and Aislinn hook up without a real bridge between the meeting, the sex, and the I love you’s. The rest of the book seems to have pleased this badass book reviewer, but like any good writer, I’m going to consider the negative as well as the positive, and try my best to apply what I’ve learned to future works.
So I really started breaking down possibilities of why it seemed as if there wasn’t a strong connection between my couple’s first meeting and the final outcome, and came to a pretty solid conclusion: The mate’s trope eliminates a great deal of the emotional development most romances exhibit.
Instead of having a period where the two main characters are realizing they might actually want to try for something more, or that their feelings are going beyond the friendly variety, we jump right into “let’s-go-for-a-relationship-ville”. There’s still a period of courtship, and still tension, but it’s a different kind. For example, in some paranormal romances, imprinting on a mate has a drawback in that one can’t live without the other, meaning that if these characters don’t hook up, someone’s life is on the line!
Sadly, this type of dire circumstance can (and has been) used to justify some really problematic situations. I won’t name books or authors, but I’ve read plenty of stories where one partner will get uncomfortably close to this literal stranger just because they’ve found a mate, even when that mate is human and not only lacks the same connection, but also has no idea such things exist. To add an element of “creepy”, the set up is usually (though not always) “supernatural male meets human female”, and I don’t think I have to explain why this can take the situation to an uncomfortable level if the writer isn’t careful.
But to clarify, this kind of situation is all too reminiscent of the “Boys will be boys” mentality, a phrase uttered numerous times as a means of justifying the way men disrespect (or just flat out assault) women by insinuating they have no or less control than women, and shouldn’t be held accountable for their actions due to that lack of control. With the mate’s trope, the only difference is “supernatural will be supernatural”, meaning we shouldn’t hold this character’s misbehavior against them because “they’ve found their eternal mate and want them so badly they can’t help themselves!”
I don’t buy it, and I think we can all do much better as writers when/if we decide to employ the mate’s trope in our books.
This is why it’s important to really make this trope our own. I’d mentioned before that I was considering it when writing my first book, and I certainly ended up creating my own “rules”. In fact, I’m not entirely sure if you could say the mate’s trope applies to Blue Moon, and it might be better called “the bonding trope” instead. Cade and Ashley (lupines or “wolf shifters”) don’t just see each other and declare themselves mates. Instead, they start bonding which, eventually, leads to a permanent “matehood”.
This bonding doesn’t work the same way with all “species” in my stories, however, because it’s much more interesting (and arguably realistic) if different beings have different “biological processes”. For example, the draconian, Dalris (as seen in the excerpt above) knew Jada was his the moment he laid eyes on her. Jada, however, is an elf, and they don’t exactly know their mates just by taking a single look. But again, no matter what processes characters undergo in this fashion, the point to this type of parsing is that it’s important for us, as writers, to not only figure out what works best for our stories and develop the trope to suit its needs, but also to employ the trope in a fashion that’s not, well, creepy.
So while I wouldn’t say this trope has more potential pitfalls than your “average” romance trope, they definitely exist. The relationship could come off as unhealthy (just imagine being eternally mated to some asshole who mistreats you!), specifically in cases where the character never decides, for themselves, to embrace their fated connection and recognize their partner as the one they truly want to be with instead of simply saying, “Well, I’ve got no choice, it is what it is, so I might as well settle”.
In those cases, the relationship loses both legitimacy and likeability as the pages turn. You could have the greatest plot the world has ever seen going on in the background, but if our couple isn’t making strides in the foreground and/or has no chemistry, the end product will come off as hokey, forced, and potentially boring.
So in conclusion, the mate’s trope is best used as a catalyst, and not the focus of the relationship. Sure, it’s going to be a large part of a protagonist’s life and possibly even their reason for checking this person out in the beginning, but what is it that keeps them coming back? How are they dealing with what’s changed as a result of finding their mate? What do they intend to do about it? How do they feel about this person they’re supposed to be paired with and what makes them ultimately decide it’s actually a fortunate turn of events?
In other words, how do they fall in love and why is that so amazing? This is why the reader has picked up the book. They already know someone’s going to find their mate, and want to learn why they should love the couple as much as the couple has come to love each other!
Thoughts? Opinions? Is the mate’s trope something you adore, or avoid at all costs? Let me know in the comments! :D
The Crucible Paranormal Romance Series Book Nine: Tempting Eternity
As one of the first vampires created by the original five thousand years ago, time has taken it’s toll on Mathias, weathering him until nothing seems like a surprise anymore. Yet even he isn’t prepared for a chance encounter with a fae who proves to have a lover’s blood link.
For a vampire, such a connection is a fevered, hopeless fantasy. None have blood as sweetly enticing as the fae, but they’d never survive the turning, making it imperative to resist Isadora’s charms, otherwise put her very life at risk.
Yet distancing himself from the beguiling fae isn’t so easy.
Nearly killed by one of her own sisters, the last thing Isadora expects to hear is that a vampire saved her life while she was vulnerable—no being poses more of a lethal threat to the fae. Even more troubling is knowing she’ll have to seek his help to have any hope of saving her fae sisters from the control of a powerful witch.
But though the ancient vampire should be feared, Isadora finds Mathias compelling, pricking her innate curiosity in a way she’s never experienced. Ignoring such intrigue is impossible, and the more she learns, the more quickly her feelings turn into heavy attraction, tempting her to do the impossible—spend eternity with a vampire.
Estimated Release: Summer 2018
To celebrate Tempting Eternity’s cover reveal, from now until April 3rd, 10 copies of Strange Brew and Fated Fortunes are completely FREE (only at Smashwords)!
Let me start this by explaining the reason Strange Brew and Fated Fortunes are on sale with this announcement, and it’s pretty simple: their stories are the most closely related to this book’s. Some loose ends are going to be tied up in Tempting Eternity, and specifically, Fated Fortunes got this book (and what we see in the synopsis) started.
Now, let’s get a little more into the story. Those of you who’ve read this series know that each book features a different couple, and when I say different, I mean we get a different “species” each time. There’s been a lupine and a human, a draconian and a fae, a Perosian and a mage, and so on. But Tempting Eternity is going to pair two beings together that are polar opposites, and when I had the idea for this story, the very first thought that came to mind was “A vampire and a fae? That’s impossible.”
The second thought was, “Challenge accepted.”
Mathias was introduced in Fallen Hearts, and we learned that though vampires and draconians don’t get along, he’s good friends with Dalris Dra’Kai (Fated Fortunes). Isadora (from Light of Dawn and very briefly mentioned in Fallen Hearts) is also a close friend of Dalris, and that’s where it all begins. As for the reason Strange Brew relates so closely to this book, that’s something left to be seen! :D
There’s one other character who’s been mentioned pretty regularly throughout the series who’ll finally make an appearance in this book, and I can’t say I’m not happy to finally have the chance to write them into a story. So things are coming along, and I’m excited to share this book once it’s all done!
So, I realize that after I posted about the release of Cast Into Shadow, I kind of up and vanished from this blog. There’s been a lot of stuff going on in my real life, however, and I kind of just wanted to focus on writing and whatnot because I’ve been feeling so stretched thin. But I wanted to come by here and post this notice up because I do have some things to share in the works, and they’ll be up pretty soon!
That said, get ready for a book sale! Free books incoming! :D
Okay, so I have some good news, and some bad news–and I’m gonna start with the bad first because, well, it’s honestly annoyed me, which is putting it mildly. So here goes!
Smashwords gave me until January 6th to upload a formatted manuscript for publishing on the 9th, and I just got to that today, which is the 6th. But when I uploaded the manuscript, it said the soonest available publish date was a week from the 9th. I have no idea why, but I can’t adjust it despite being told the deadline was today and actually uploading it today. So sadly, my hands are tied with this issue, and Cast Into Shadow won’t be available until January 17th.
You know, at this point, I’m just gonna blame all the trouble I’m having publishing this book on one of our cats. They’re plotting against me because they want a dedication or something.
As for Kindle readers, the closest date Amazon is allowing me to publish is on January 10th, but I’m not entirely sure I want to publish the versions so far apart. But as soon as I have the plan laid out, I’ll be back here to make an announcement!
Now, as for the good news: Despite being unable to buy the book, the first 25% of the story is now available to sample on Smashwords! So if you’ve been waiting, hopefully this will hold you over!
My apologies to everyone again! I’d really hoped to have this book out next week, but I guess you could say it’s better late than never!
So, before I get into the actual fun stuff, I have a report to give, and a confession to make. Actually, the report is about the confession, which is pretty simple: I’m durpy–and here’s why:
I’ve been going over some of my book notes recently, and in turn, scanning through certain scenes to fact check. In doing so, I came across a glaring error in Fated Fortunes that I think needs to be called out. For that reason, I’m going to give a SPOILER ALERT! because I’ll be digging into a few things from both Fated Fortunes and Strange Brew here. So let me share the scene in Fated Fortunes where the error is contained.
The captain, an older man with long, stringy white hair and a bushy beard, stepped inside, holding the door for a middle aged brunette passenger following him.
“I know it’s an inconvenience,” the human stated, “but Lydia’s condition is delicate, and I can offer a higher payment.”
“It’s going to take a much higher payment, Mr. Rowden,” the captain returned, never once spying the elf standing next to the open door because her pendant had rendered her invisible.
And there you have it. I’m pretty sure people reading this are scratching their heads wondering what gives, but let’s just say the name “Lydia” is the one that’s inaccurate, and there’s a longwinded reason for it. But first, I’d like to mention that those of you who’ve read Strange Brew might recognize the name of “Mr. Rowden”, and wonder whether the person in question is Derrick Rowden, Aislinn’s estranged father.
I’ll confirm it here and now; it is, in fact, Derrick, and the name Lydia should actually be Sylva–as in, Sylva Abbott, the ghostly specter who possessed Aislinn in Strange Brew to open a magically sealed doorway into an old alchemy lab where a powerful tome was stored away.
I fixed the problem as soon as I found it, which was thankfully pretty easy to do considering her name is only mentioned once throughout the entire story. Still, I thought it would be a good idea to post a lengthy description of the issue if only because I know quite a few people have read Fated Fortunes now, in addition to Strange Brew, and would probably appreciate the clarification.
But why, oh why, did I call her Lydia from the start? And why did it take me so long to catch the error? Well that, my friends, stems from my development of Sylva Abbott and her backstory. My readers already know that Sylva was one of The Abbott Sisters, three witches in the 17th century who formed a coven called The Trine to protect others like themselves. What the story doesn’t mention is all three sisters’ names, being Sylva, Myra, and Lydia.
The reason gets a little more complex in terms of editing Strange Brew, but let’s just say, for brevity’s sakes, that I’m constantly getting Sylva and Lydia mixed up, to the point that even though I read that passage at least a million times while editing Fated Fortunes, I still didn’t catch the problem. Even when my beta readers went through it, it wasn’t noticed probably because I was referring to Sylva as Lydia aloud. UGH!
So! There’s a little clarification on this scene which I now realize must’ve seemed out of place to anyone who’s read the entire series. But yes, we’re getting closer to finding out what happened to Derrick and Estelle after they escaped at the end of Strange Brew, and I’m reeeeeeally sorry for all of the confusion (and my durpiness!).
With that said, I have one other thing to make an announcement on. For the past several weeks, I’ve been having Flash Friday’s over on my tumblr blog, which is a pretty simple thing, but also pretty cool for anyone looking to take a risk on a “new” book! So here goes:
Every Friday, I pick a book in my series at random, and offer a coupon to get it for free from Smashwords! The coupon is only good for 5 redemptions, however, so it’s first come, first serve! At some point in the future, I may increase the number of redemptions, but that all depends on how much interest is generated!
So feel free to follow my tumblr blog if you’re currently using it!
Thanks so much everyone! Cheers! :)
|Cast Into Shadow will release on January 17th at the following retailers:
Synopsis: As an intelligence agent for The Bastion, Jennifer Kivsey usually works behind a desk, assisting other operatives from afar by supplying information whenever it’s needed. But the one time she volunteers to travel during an investigation, her journey takes her much farther from home than anticipated.
After discovering a random portal, Kivsey is unexpectedly pulled through worlds and stranded in the dark, underground caverns of Ithelyon. In immediate danger, she’ll need help if she wants to survive long enough to return home, and a random encounter with a Dok’aal Warlord could provide just that.
The problem? She’s part elven, and Dok’aal are notoriously leery of elves.
Mikail is a Warlord serving the hidden, subterranean city of Satorala, and his highest priority is the safety of his people. So allowing a stranded human to wander about and potentially discover the location of his home is out of the question, meaning he has no choice but to help her find her way.
But despite their inherent differences, Mikail quickly discovers that Kivsey isn’t the helpless human he’d expected. She’s clever, witty, compassionate, and soon has him wondering if she could be the woman he’s been dreaming of. Likewise, Kivsey finds the Warlord as sexy as he is suspicious, but how could a union ever be possible with two worlds standing between them?
As much as it breaks my heart to do so, I wanted to offer some notice that I won’t be able to publish Cast Into Shadow in December as I’d wanted. Currently, it’s starting to look more like this book won’t be out until sometime in January (or possibly February depending on circumstances). I also wanted to offer some (potentially vague) reasons for the delay.
I’d posted some hiatuses up on my social media accounts a few months ago because things in my personal life simply aren’t great right now. Basically, I’d promised to be around, but probably not as active as normal, and if you take a look at the dates on my previous posts here, you’ll see that’s pretty much what I’ve done. Currently, I’m most active on my tumblr blog, which honestly isn’t saying too much when it’s easy to simply scroll down the page and reblog a post of interest from time to time.
I wish I could say more about what’s going on, but a good bit of it is private. Health issues (both my own and those concerning family) have been up in the air, as well as financial burdens which have been taking a huge toll. Due to the inconveniences these issues have caused, it’s been hard for me to write as much as I would like, and Cast Into Shadow has fallen behind in productivity.
That said, I do have most of the story written out and prepared for final edits, which I’ll start working on in the next week or two, and as much as it saddens me that I won’t be able to publish this book as soon as I’d wanted, I’m not skimping on the quality of the story just to have something ready sooner rather than later. The people who enjoy my books deserve the best story I can possibly craft, and no matter what, I’m going to put as much effort in this story as I can.
So I really do apologize to anyone who’s been waiting for this book, and I hope you can understand! I do, however, have something on a higher note to post about, which I’ll get around to in the next week, so keep your eyes peeled! :)
We all know Halloween is a time for ghosts, goblins, ghouls, and other things that go bump in the night. But it’s also a good time to curl up with a good book, and since I have a whole list of Paranormal Romances to offer, I thought I’d put ’em on sale for everyone! It’s not exactly candy, but hey, Trick or Treat! :P
So, after an admittedly long silence on this blog, I finally have something to post! But right before I get to that, let me throw out an apology over how long it’s been since I’ve swung by here to say more than a word or two on anything. Life’s been hectic on the downside lately, and things haven’t exactly panned out the way I would’ve liked for them to go in some places. This includes my progress on writing Cast Into Shadow, which is coming along, but it’s going more slowly than preferred.
But the good news is that I finally have an excerpt to share! At first, I thought it would be fine just to post this excerpt as text here, but then I realized the formatting is off and it’s kind of hard to read. So instead, I decided to post a downloadable PDF file! This will require adobe acrobat, but at least your eyes won’t cross! Haha!
I hope you enjoy, and as always, the following is still considered a work in progress that’s subject to change before the book’s final release! :)
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