Try a little tenderness . . .


A touch of angst and sweetness.  A excerpt from the second chapter in the latest revision to my novel-in-progress The Lady & The Panther  . . .

“I can’t claim to fully understand you. But I cannot believe you are a truly bad man, somehow.”

He gave her an enigmatic smile, tilting his head as he stretched out his hand to capture another errant strand of chestnut hair to smooth it back.

“And in spite of the fact you seemed fully ready–if not, dare I say, well prepared–to kill your husband, I cannot think you are a truly bad woman, somehow.” His voice was mocking and gentle all at once.

The colour in Lizzie’s cheeks deepened and she dropped her gaze.

“It is more than his lordship being a drunken, faithless lout, is it not? He’s ill-used you in some way, hasn’t he, Lizzie?”

She nodded slowly, her eyes still fixed on the floor.

“I also know what it feels like to be desperate,” Lizzie whispered. She raised her eyes to meet his.

So much pain inside this woman.

“Lizzie, ma pauvre petite . . .”  The stranger leaned forward and, ever so gently, pressed the tenderest of kisses to her mouth.  

Her lips were just as soft and sweet as he had imagined. Oh, I am being tested tonight.

 Not without some reluctance,  he lifted his mouth from hers, and gave a small sigh as he pressed his forehead against Lizzie’s.

 She was breathless. The kiss was–lovely. So unlike any she had ever received from Horace. So unlike any kiss she had ever expected to receive. Lizzie almost felt like crying again.

 The stranger lifted his head. He cupped Lizzie’s face in his hands, gently stroking her jawline, his eyes rather somber, his voice husky.

“Forgive me for the impertinence, Lizzie. But it seemed as if you–needed that.”

Gisborne in his sweet moments and tender JT at the train station were definitely inspiring me here.

I am reading a new book on writing  titled Wired for Story: The Writer’s Guide to Using Brain Science to Hook the Reader From the Very First Sentence.

Author Lisa Cron makes an excellent case for how we as humans are hard wired to need stories in our lives, that stories tell us about what it means to be human. Here’s a quote addressing the subject of theme:

The universal is the portal that allows us to climb into the skin of characters completely different from us and to miraculously feel what they feel . . . it is only when expressed through the flesh-and-blood reality of a story, that we are able to experience a universal one-on-one, and  so feel it.

I think as a storyteller (for that is what I think of Mr. A as being) he is able to help us climb into the skin of characters with him, to see through their eyes, to experience what they experience, the joys, the sorrows, the pleasures, the pain. And in turn, inspire us to write our own stories of what it means to be human.

6 responses »

    • Thanks, Nadia. As I mentioned in reply to z13, I probably won’t post anything else for now. I am approaching the revised version from a different POV and it’s not all going to mesh very well with what I have already written. I guess everyone will have to be patient and wait until I get the book finished to find out what ultimately happens to Lizzie and the Panther . . .

  1. {sigh}
    Wonderful excerpt! Can’t wait to read the whole “new” version …

    RA is definitely a “storyteller.” In one of the interviews on the RH audiobooks (The Siege, I think), he talks about being a storyteller, with just the page in front of him with nothing to use but his voice and his imagination to bring the story to life. He describes that as “the best kind of storytelling.”

    His habit of creating the backstory for each character, of defining who they are in his head and on paper before putting on the costume and speaking the lines, is what gives us that feeling of being “inside the skin” with him. Thornton’s anguish. Guy’s vulnerability. Paul’s shame. Those notes of his tell the story that he uses to bring us along with him. –mho–

    So, should I stop reading the current Lady and the Panther? (I’m seriously hooked on your stories!) 🙂

    • Thanks! Re TL&TP, I probably won’t update the original version anymore whilst I am working on the revised version. I think I’d like to save the denouement of the story for the finished novel (sorry, guys, I really didn’t start out planning to do this, leave you hanging). For one thing, the original version is done in alternating first person and this new version is all third person omniscient with some first person flashbacks. It was getting way too unwieldy for me to handle in the original form, which was part of what was slowing me down.

      Richard references using his imagination when envisioing Smaug in that latest clip to surface from SDCC, using it to build excitement, fear, even if Smaug as conceived by the artists is very different from his idea of the dragon. He needs that internal vision to “hang his hat on” while playing the role.

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