Writing With The Stars - Vote For The Best Hero And Heroine

Best Hero and Heroine

Round one of Writing With the Stars got off to a big start; we had a record number of people voting for their favorite contestant to be the next Kensington Brava author. The voting has been tallied and it¹s time to say goodbye to Mari Manning (Daddy's Girl) and KC Klein (Dark Future). Given that they beat out many other aspiring writers to make it into this competition, we know we'll hear more from them in the future! You can keep up with them at their websites: MariManning.com and KCKleinbooks.com. Now it's time for round two — the best hero and heroine summaries.

This month's guest judge is Miriam Kriss, the vice president of the Irene Goodman Literary Agency, who says, "I think that one thing you should always have in descriptions of the hero and heroine is a clear idea of what in their history will put them in conflict so that there is something fundamental that will create a natural and real conflict in the story rather than having an episodic relationship book."

Voting for round two starts on November 8 at RTBookReviews.com. As for round one, you the reader will be able to post your comments on the voting page. So get ready, get set — vote!


Kriss joined the Irene Goodman Literary Agency in 2004 and currently serves as the agency's vice president. Her focus is on commercial fiction and she represents everything from hardcover historical mysteries to all subgenres of romance, from young adult fiction to kick-ass urban fantasies, and everything in between. If it's fun to read, she probably represents it. She

doesn't look for specific stories, focusing instead on finding a voice she can fall in love with and champion. This strategy of taking on only clients she's passionate about has lead to six-figure deals for first-time authors and numerous clients' appearances on the USA Today and New York Times bestseller lists.



Maeve Greyson
Gilbertsville, KY


Eternity’s Mark (Paranormal)

HEROINE: She's the last of her line, a Draecna Guardian. Sacred blood flows through Hannah MacPherson's veins; she's just too hardheaded to realize it. Widowed by the Iraq war, she's shuttered herself away on her mountain next to a miniscule town. Any man foolish enough to glance at the tiny, auburn-haired veterinarian discovers the magnitude of her wrath and the bitterness in her green-eyed gaze.

HERO: Taggart de Gaelson knows more about Hannah than she knows about herself. Wisdom and pain of over 700 years burns in the depths of his ice blue eyes. Humiliated by his betrothed, stripped of his birthright, Taggart hides his Draecna blood beneath the form of a powerful, dark-haired warrior. As her protector, Taggart's frustrated with Hannah's utter disdain for her calling. The blessed race of his beloved Draecnas depends on Hannah for survival. She's ignored her destiny as long as he's going to allow.

Mentor Rebecca Zanetti: Maeve did a fantastic job describing the inner strength and emotions in her characters. I suggested she add more outward descriptions so the reader could picture Taggart and Hannah as well as know them. The comparisons between their personalities might be reflected in their physical appearances as well. Boy, do I love how Maeve describes the hero and heroine. Just from the descriptions, I'd want to read more!

Miriam’s comments: I'm afraid I'm finding it hard to understand how Hannah could not know this about herself. We need more details to understand how she's being hardheaded and what she's ignoring to get a better sense of her motivations for it and for what the underlying conflict is. Is she truly just being pigheaded? Or does she have good reasons for avoiding this truth? We also need to get a sense of what people from such different worlds are going to have in common so that we can be rooting for them to resolve the conflict.

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You can find this contestant online at MaeveGreyson.com and MaeveGreyson.Blogspot.com. You can find her mentor, Rebecca Zanetti, at her website, www.rebeccazanetti.com


Lisa Kessler
San Diego, CA

Moonlight (Paranormal)

HEROINE: Hi, I'm Lana. I'm 23 with dark brown eyes and hair to match. I wish I could tell you that I look like my mother, but I actually grew up in foster homes. My parents and my past are a mystery. It taught me to survive and depend on myself.

Oh, I'm also a jaguar one night a month.

HERO: Lana forgot to mention the sexy way she gnaws at her bottom lip when she gets nervous. Her dark eyes sparkle when she looks up at me, drives me crazy. By the way, I'm Adam. I train horses for a living at my ranch, Whispering Pines. I'm also a werewolf, heir to the alpha of our pack. My hair is dark brown and I've got my father's light green eyes. At six feet, I tower over Lana. Some say I'm hot-headed, but I'm just passionate about the ones I love.

Mentor Bianca D’Arc: I love that Lisa wrote these in the first person, since her book is written in alternating first person. It's good for consistency and also adds a lot of interest to these introductions. The only recommendation I made was to make it a little clearer that we were switching points of view from heroine to hero halfway through.

Miriam’s comments: So that's where Lana comes from, but who is she now? What brings her to Adam? None of the characteristics you've given bring them into conflict yet and of course there needs to be conflict for there to be story. What is fundamentally going to complicate their relationship? And does that conflict have anything to do with the fact that the animals that are their other halves are so incompatible? Adding a bit more about how they are connected would make this description stronger.

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You can find this contestant online at Myspace.com/Lisas_Lair or Blogs.Myspace.com/Lisas_Lair. You can find her mentor, Bianca D'Arc, at her website, www.biancadarc.com


Alannah Lynne
Greenville, NC

Last Call (Contemporary)

HERO: Gavin McLeod has spent the past 12 years climbing the corporate ladder of Holden Enterprises, positioning himself to become the next CEO. While the climb has netted him financial wealth, allowing him to provide for the grandfather who raised him, Gavin realizes it's also left him on the brink of ethical bankruptcy. He's torn between family obligations, a boss he views as a father-figure, salvaging his self-respect and the woman who's starting to mean everything.

HEROINE: Sunny Black is a hard-working woman whose inner light and capacity to love touches everyone. She was forced to adopt a never-give-up attitude at 10 when her mother took off and Sunny took on the care-taking of her 1-year-old brother. Once again, she's forced to dig deep and find that inner strength as she fights to save her business and falls in love with a man she's not sure she can trust.

Mentor HelenKay Dimon: She worked really hard revising these descriptions to emphasize the characters' internal and external struggles and focus on who they are rather than just the plot points. She wanted them to be multifaceted and did a good job of portraying that. Fitting the important information in such few words was a challenge, but she kept editing until she got it!

Miriam's comments: These descriptions are very clear and I like the way they are put into a natural state of conflict. The only thing we could get a little bit more of is what actually attracts them to each other, but it's a minor quibble, this is a very solid description.

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You can find this contestant online at AlannahLynne.com or AlannahLynne.Blogspot.com. You can find her mentor, HelenKay Dimon, at her website, www.helenkaydimon.com.


Dale Mayer
B.C., Canada

Tuesday’s Child (Romantic Suspense)

HEROINE: Samantha Blair is a powerful psychic who wakes up to find herself inside victims as they are being murdered. When she taps into a local killer, Sam contacts a detective - a man who makes her re-evaluate her solitary existence and lack of trust. As the danger escalates, Sam is determined to make a difference for the victims and herself. Steel runs through her spine. Life may have knocked her down in the past, but not out. Never out.

HERO: Tall, rugged and with a soft spot for his matchmaking mama, Brandt Sutherland is a cop on the trail of a serial killer. With his piercing blue eyes and "take no prisoner" attitude, Brandt has spent years avoiding serious relationships while delving into the darkest of crimes. Then he meets Sam, the one woman who makes him think "unconditional surrender" - especially if it's his own.

Mentor Cynthia Eden: Dale has some very complex characters - with lots of intriguing layers. I suggested that she focus on the strongest traits of her characters and use examples of those traits in her descriptions. Dale revised and her work clearly gives me a great glimpse into the lives of her characters

Miriam’s comments: While there's nothing structurally wrong with this entry, my biggest concern here is that psychics who see vicariously through eyes of a killer is something that has been done many times before and I don't see from these descriptions how you are going to make this story stand out. The most unique element you give is Brandt's mother. We need more details about what makes these characters individuals. What in Brandt makes Sam re-evaluate her policy of not trusting others? I'd also like to have a better sense of what seeing murders like that over and over is doing to Sam, because realistically it would be giving her some kind of PTSD or other disorder. The more fantastic you make the elements of your world, the more completely and believably human your characters need to be.  

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You can find this contestant online at DaleMayer.com. You can find her mentor, Cynthia Eden, at her website, www.cynthiaeden.com.


Diana Quincy
Ashburn, VA

Seducing Charlotte (Historical)

HERO: Cam exudes vitality. His striking form and effortless manner cloak a steely resolve as well as genuine warmth, even kindness. Tiny specks of gold glitter in his sea green eyes. They crinkle at the corners even when he isn't smiling, giving Cam the appearance of being perpetually amused. It is a deliciously dangerous combination, a flame Charlotte can't help but be drawn to, all the while anticipating the sizzle that will surely follow. 

HEROINE: Almost plain at first glance, Charlotte possesses a tart intelligence and energy radiates from her lithe form. She has a way about her Cam can't quite put his finger on. Perhaps it is her eyes. They are a compelling tint of blue, like an island sky, clear and cloudless. The amazing translucent shade appears endless, making it almost startling to gaze into those plunging depths. The thought of drowning in those pools entices Cam to move closer.

Mentor Mary Wine: The way Diana wrote these descriptions has me eager to read the book now. We worked on making the descriptions more personal, to really draw the focus onto the love story these two are going to experience.

Miriam’s commentsThese descriptions give me a good picture of what these people look like but no sense at all of who they are. What are their motivations? What are their backgrounds? What is their conflict? The answers to these questions create a fuller picture of hero and heroine. Moreover, I would be careful to not get too flowery in your physical descriptions. Often when writers are trying to make their descriptions lusher what they end up doing is overwriting passages and obscuring their meaning. Saying things more directly is often more efficacious.

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You can find this contestant online at DianaQuincy.Blogspot.com. You can find her mentor, Mary Wine, at her website, www.marywine.com.


Madeline Smyth
Buffalo, NY

Aliya Arabesque (Contemporary)

HEROINE: Aliya Roberts is a woman of conflicting worlds, her hair a piece of Arabian silk in the color of western wheat, yet her eyes the green of the West set in the almond shape of Arabia. For years, she has rebuilt her life in New York and swallowed her hatred of the Middle East, the world from which her parents' murderers came. When her sister disappears, Aliya must journey across a world not only to find her sister, but her destiny.

HERO: With dark eyes, hawkish nose, and sensuous mouth, Sheikh Faruq of the al-`Aziz is a man as harshly beautiful, deeply mysterious and dangerously forbidding as his desert. During a sandstorm, he comes upon an American infidel of al-Jabir blood and carries her off to his harem, challenging his tribe. To settle an ancient grievance, he must marry his enemy, but to capture her heart, he must betray his world.

Mentor Emma Lang: Describing the hero and heroine can set the tone for the book. Madeline knew her characters well, bringing them forth through words. Readers can visualize not only Aliya and the sheikh, they are ready to embark on a journey with them, to find out what happens, to become a part of their unforgettable story.

Miriam's comments: Even in these short descriptions, the physical characteristics of your characters are very overwritten. Often in an attempt to make whriting that is lusher, writers use so many adjectives and adverbs that they actually get in the way of giving their readers a clear image of what they are describing. Moreover I would like to have a better sense of when this story is taking place and what her attitude to not only the Middle East but to a man who keeps a harem would be. If this is historical it isn't an issue, but since it's modern it is more problematic.

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You can find this contestant online at MadelineSmyth.Blogspot.com. You can find her mentor, Emma Lang, aka Beth Williamson, at her website, www.bethwilliamson.com.


Meredith Simmons
Wilson, NC

Indentured Hearts (Historical)

HERO: Jason Anders, a former transported convict, carries the cruel scars of his servitude on his back and in his soul. Since his release, he's amassed a fortune, and he now aspires to become a gentleman. With a body made powerful by manual labor, Jason doesn't look the part, but he hopes his new servant, Cassy, can give him the polish he needs. He soon realizes that from this compelling woman, he wants so much more.

HEROINE: Lady Cassandra Spathe, with her ready wit and golden beauty, is society's darling. Her life unravels when she stabs an unwanted suitor and impulsively flees to the Virginia Colony. Arriving as the indentured servant, Cassy Spade, she no longer has the protection of her aristocratic name. She must remake herself into a new woman with new attitudes if she's to survive in this brutal land. The last thing she expects to find here is love.

Mentor Bronwen Evans: Meredith has done a great job with both the hero and heroine; she obviously knows them well. I suggested a focus on tightening the information in order to show more of their personalities. Cassandra is obviously strong, competent, determined, as is Jason, yet two different worlds have molded them. When their worlds collide, can their love survive?

Miriam's comments: I really like this couple. They're coming from two very different places that are going to put them in direct believable conflict. The only thing I would like to see a little more of is what qualities Cassy is attracted to Jason; in other words, what is going to help her to overcome their fundamental differences? I can see clearly from this what attracts Jason to Cassy but what does she come to find in him? I'd also like a little more background on what happened with the "unwanted suitor." A word or two more would be enough but I assume he wasn't being gentlemanly when she stabbed him. "Overly aggressive" might be better than "unwanted" since it gives a stronger sense that she was acting in self-defense.

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You can find this contestant online at MeredithSimmons.com. You can find her mentor, Bronwen Evans, at her website, www.bronwenevans.com.


Maria Zannini
Terrell, TX

Mistress of the Stone (Historical Paranormal)

HEROINE: Raised as a pirate, Luísa Tavares minces no words and does her negotiating with the point of a cutlass. Her beloved father's been kidnapped and his captors mean to send him back in pieces if she doesn't sail into Caribbean waters before the blood moon. Proud, resourceful and fiercely loyal, she will challenge the very hounds of hell to get her father back and hunt down the man responsible for his capture.

HERO: Pirate-hunter Xander Daltry is falling in love with a woman he cannot have, not if he's to free his dead sister trapped in the mortal plane. A rogue wolf, he's defied pack law for too long, forcing the pack to side with his rival. He'll use all of his cunning and charm to convince Luísa to help him lift an undeserved curse. But to save her, Xander will do whatever is necessary - even if it means stealing her!

Mentor Terri Brisbin: I suggested that Maria add more about the characters' strengths and weaknesses so readers would learn about more than their looks. I think she's captured both characters here and gives a great "flavor" of their personalities in her descriptions and included the paranormal aspects that are critical to both.

Miriam's comments: While it is wonderful to see a woman strong enough to stand up to an alpha male, we are left with questions about how their relationship proceeds. Is Xander the one who captured her father? Also, does being trapped in the mortal plane mean his sister is a ghost? Beyond those questions, I would have thought the reason Xander can't have Luisa is she's a pirate and he's a pirate hunter, so why is saving his sister the reason? With pirates, curses and werewolves who go to sea, the world being built here seems very complex and a bit chaotic. Keep in mind that at the heart of it your characters, no matter how fantastic their powers or their world, ultimately need to be very human. This is important for your villains as well, their motives need to seem real and plausible.

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You can find this contestant online at MariaZannini.Blogspot.com. You can find her mentor, Terri Brisbin, at her website, www.terribrisbin.com.


Last Call

Submitted by Teri P on November 9, 2010 - 11:46pm.

Immediately I want to know more about Sunny and Gavin. Obviously Gavin has his work cut out for him, if that work is enticing Sunny in to his life. I get the feeling he's been multitasking for so long, real every day life has passed right by him. What will it take to get these interesting people together? I want to know!

Mistress of The Stone

Submitted by jackiebcentraltexas on November 8, 2010 - 5:16pm.

High seas adventure, mystery, romance and a curse what more could I ask for in a Paranormal Romantic Historical... I want to sail away with Luisa on her quest to find her father today!


Last Call

Submitted by roxhill on November 8, 2010 - 1:36pm.

I loved your descriptions and I'm not even that crazy about contemporary stories. It was hard to choose as I wanted to vote for more than one, but in the end your H/h stood out.