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Kissing Games

28 Aug

Kristen Koster is one of those First Friends of Writing who you know you’re going to keep forever. She’s also got one of the best blogs on Regency Writing around. But today, she’s going to talk about kissing games. Get your bottles ready!


Why is it every generation believes that they’re the first to discover kissing games? Spin the Bottle, Postman, Truth or Dare or even just playing a game of Tag, where the method of tagging is a kiss. These have been around for ages.

I have to admit, I was appalled to find my daughter and her friends playing Truth or Dare at a slumber party at our house two years ago. Oh, not so much that they were playing it… but that they were relying on an app to provide questions and dares. Have we lost all sense of imagination?

The truth is, when you put a bunch of hormonal youth together, you’re gonna get experimentation. It doesn’t matter when or where. Curiosity is gonna get the better of them, especially if there’s a lack of supervision (which leads to things like 7 Minutes in Heaven where anything goes) or possibly even more surprising, adult sanctioned activities that allowed youths to explore their sexual compatibility.

What?! Encouraged sexual exploration? I know Bria likes to keep this PG-13, but wait-a-minute… what on earth am I talking about here? Especially since the time period that I write in was 200 years ago and I know you’re thinking, “Weren’t they tight-laced, prim and proper goody-goody-two-shoes?”

Well, in 19th Century France, young couples would meet at their churches to practice “maraichinage” or what would come to be known as “French Kissing”. Couples would engage in some tongue dueling and their partners changed on a weekly basis. In some regions, this meant kissing behind parasols for some semi-privacy, but in others, the youths were forced to sit on opposite sides of narrow benches. In either case, this was a socially acceptable way to judge a potential spouse’s compatibility, or rather, it was until the clergymen banned the practice on the grounds that it was loveless and done only for the pleasure of kissing. Can you imagine?

In Regency England, things weren’t much different. Parlor games allowed a bit of naughtiness to creep into what we think of an as otherwise staid and proper society. In the game of “Blind Man’s Bluff”, one player sat in a chair and their identity had to be guessed by a blindfolded individual only by touching them. The game of “Guess the Kiss” was similar, only the blindfolded person was kissed and had to identify their kisser. I’ve seen a print possibly also from Le Bon Genre of an unknown game that looks an awful lot like a naughty version of Twister.

I can only imagine that many different cultures throughout time have had their own versions of kissing games as a way to size up their potential mates. There probably haven’t been as many variations on the basic themes as each generation would like to believe they’re responsible for inventing either. But we can hope imagination and common sense don’t become lost to future generations.

– –

"Bride Kissage"Kristen Koster grew up totally left-brained and logical but always enjoyed right-brained and creative activities too. She started reading her mom’s stash of historical romance novels in the early 80s and never really stopped. Reading over 30 novels one summer in college convinced her she could do better. But life had other plans, including the introduction of her own hero to smooch. Twenty years into their HEA (after detours through some graduate work in Economics, a stint in online game design and wrangling two kids into their teenage years), she finally found her way back to writing Regency romance. One day, she might even get a novel published, if she can just stop over-analyzing everything. You can also find her on Twitter at @KristenKoster.

First Kiss

23 Aug

The wonderful Amanda Brice is a friend from over at Romance Divas. She’s a lovely lady, a talented writer, Golden Heart alumnae, and just plain fun (she’ll never live down a certain spin-turn-oops in a San Fran Thai resturant. Not only did she write a fun blog about her own first kisses (and who doesn’t love to hear those stories???) but if you go to the bottom, make sure to check out her book trailer for

Do you remember your first kiss?

I so totally do.  Both my first-ever kiss and my first kiss with my husband. Not sure why, but I seem to get urged by others to have that all-important first kiss.

I was 12-going-on-13 when I had my first kiss. I’d been “going out with” Matt (and I put that word in parentheses, because we didn’t really go anywhere) since the junior high Valentine’s Day dance. Mostly we just talked on the phone and sat next to each other at lunch or on the school bus.

Oh, and held hands. I can’t forget that.

Anyway, about a month or so into being boyfriend and girlfriend, our friend John poked his head over the top of the seat on the school bus to ask why he’d never seen us kiss. Of course, a better response than immediately turning a deeper scarlet than the dress I’m wearing today would have been for me to ask why he’d been watching. But that didn’t occur to me at the time.

Instead, my boyfriend Matt said, “We kiss. All the time.” Um, we do?

John said, “Oh yeah?”

So I guess Matt felt the need to live up to his claim, and leaned over and kissed me. Right then and there in front of an entire bus full of 7th and 8th graders.

I wish I could say it was magical, that it left me reeling and I saw hearts and flowers or fireworks or all the clichés. But that would be a lie. To be honest, I don’t remember what I felt. I think I was just so surprised at the time.

Fast forward 12 years. I’d been flirting with Mr. Brice for a few months at that point, after inadvertently spitting red wine on him the very first time I met him (at the Student Bar Association party during law school orientation). We were study buddies for first semester exams, and, well, let’s just say that had we flirted a little less we both probably would’ve had much better grades first semester. (Oops!)

Anyway, I went home to visit my parents over Christmas break, but returned before New Year’s because my old roommate Amy came to visit me. We went to Sedona and the Grand Canyon and all the cool touristy places in Arizona, but on New Year’s Eve we went to the Fiesta Bowl Tostito’s Block Party at Tempe Town Lake to watch the fireworks and enjoy the free Bryan Adams concert.

Yes, I said Bryan Adams.

Anyway, I went with my friend who was visiting, plus one of my law school friends, Alyssa. Oh, and Mr. Brice tagged along. Just before midnight, just after Bryan Adams finished singing “Everything I Do (I Do It For You)”, Alyssa started encouraging Mr. Brice to kiss me.

“Kiss her, kiss her, kiss her,” she chanted.

I rolled my eyes. “We’re just friends.

I guess we weren’t really just friends, however, because Mr. Brice listened to Alyssa. And we went on our first official date (a day trip down to Tucson, ending up later that night with yet another kiss – this time in the hot tub) a week later.

We got married two years later.

So both of my most important “first kisses” happened as a result of someone else’s prompting. Weird, huh? Maybe I ought to work that into my books….



Amanda Brice leads a double life. By day, she’s an intellectual property attorney for a large federal government agency in the Washington, DC area. In her spare time (when she’s not wrangling an 8-month-old and a terrorist – I mean a two-year-old), she writes young adult fiction. A two-time Golden Heart finalist, Barnes & Noble called her newest release, Pointe of No Return, a “compelling read from an author you need to know.”

What I Talk About When I Talk About Learning to Kiss

22 Aug

As the Month of Kisses continues and we race on to the Kiss / Kiss-off contest Agency Sister @ValerieFM80 & I are having, I may have sucked another Agency Sister into the mix. I’m excited to welcome Sashi Kaufman to the blog!


I can be as swoony as the next person when reading a great smooching scene. But when I write, I’m more likely to write about a kiss gone awkward than one gone awesome. Maybe it’s my own personal history. Or maybe it’s because I teach middle schoolers and write YA. Regardless, I’m charmed by the awkward factor when lips meet, mesh, slop and slide around for the first time.

Learning to kiss, like anything it seems, is not natural. Everyone has to learn at some point and I’m willing to bet that a majority of people learned to kiss by turning to their good friend (regardless of gender) and saying, wanna try it? That’s how it went for me anyway.

My favorite all time learning to kiss scene is this one.

Watts, the tomboy, asks her best friend Keith, about to head out on his date with the super popular diva Amanda Jones, if he can deliver the kiss that kills. Apologies for the synopsis to those of you that screamed OMG as soon as I even mentioned the scene. Like it needs explaining.

The best part of this scene, is that after she tells him where to put his hands and how to turn his head, it turns into this uber hot -I might really love you- make out scene that you’ve been waiting the whole movie for. In addition to being initially awkward, it’s unexpected, and ultimately supremely sexy. Such was not the case for me in my parents’ basement the summer after freshman year. But that’s why I write. So I can upgrade my own reality with just enough of the truth to make it painful. Not scalded flesh painful; awkwardly painful….and charming, of course.

Sashi Kaufman writes contemporary YA with some kissing and lots of awkwardness. Her debut Go West is due out from Carolrhoda Lab sometime in the next year and she is represented by the amazing Lauren Macleod of the Strothman Agency (Clan MacLeod). You can find more of her wit and embarrassing life stories at;

Almost Kisses, or Hand Me The Tissue Scenes

17 Aug

Today’s Kisses Guest is Caitie Quinn. Caitie’s made a study of kisses, or at least her main character has… which leads to a little more than she bargains for. Let’s see if either of them learned anything 😉


It’s going to come as no surprise that I loveeeee me some kissing. Even though my books are sweet (and so my kisses are too) I love the build, the emotions swirly-swirling, the anticipation and nerves and joy and gut-dropping, gut-wrenching excitement of a kiss.

But, there’s one thing that can out angst even the angstiest kiss: The Almost Kiss.

I give you, Exhibit A:

Fanny has just walked in on Henry (who she is working really hard to love so everyone will leave her alone) in bed with someone else. Of course Edmund comes to her, emotions high. And, cue scene!

OMGOSH! The pain, the heart-shredding pain of that. To want that much. To not be able to have it for so many reasons. To back away knowing – knowing – that was most likely the closest thing to intimacy you’ll every share?


But why stop there? Let’s move on to Exhibit B, shall we?

Peter and Oliva from Fringe!

So much baggage, so much temptation!

And then so much panic. How often does kissing lead to panic? Maybe I should have done a study on that instead!

Lastly, Exhibit C:

The ultimate Did They Or Didn’t They Couple. People argued about what was going on for years (until the baby showed up… then we were all like, ok. If you say so.) But no Almost Kiss montage is complete without the incomparable Mulder and Scully…kind of.

And finally, let’s end with something sweet. An ALMOST kiss that turns into a First Kiss. Who can forget the complete heartbreak and growing pains of The Man in the Moon? *sniff*

*goes to get tissues*

Ok, I’m back. Here we go:

Now, luckily for e, I’m scheduled to write a kiss this weekend. They’re both going to shy away from it, knowing it’s too soon (or, in his case, she’s too crazy) but sometimes, no matter how hard you try, that Kiss takes a swipe at Almost and knocks it out of the ring.

I’d LOVE to hear about your favorite Almost Kiss. Tell me why that leashed passion shoots you straight through the heart – Would you rather watch them or read them? For me, it’s a win-win!


Caitie writes stuff. Stuff that’s funny — hopefully.

If it’s not funny, you can totally blame the weather, or her lack of chocolate, or the formatting, or her cat. Wait, she doesn’t have a cat. Scratch that last one. Check out It’s in His Kiss on Amazon.

Caitie blogs at, or you can check her out on twitter @CaitieQuinn or email her at Caitie.Quinn (AT)

Near Miss Kiss

16 Aug

Today we have Megan Whitmer on the blog! This girl is a riot. You’re going to be giggling through today’s whole post.


If you know me at all, you know that I love kissing scenes. Timid first kisses, insane deep kisses, fast, slow, sweet, rough—I love them. Whenever I’m stuck, I write a kissing scene. It doesn’t even matter if the scene makes sense for the story—in fact, usually if it’s a scene I’m writing just to keep writing, it typically makes no sense at all. But it keeps me going.

And my most favorite type of kissing scene? The one that almost happens, or as I like to call it, the Near-Miss Kiss.

A boy and girl are sitting on a bench outside at night, spending just a few more minutes together before he has to leave. Shreds of moonlight spill across the yard. He can’t stop looking at her, and he knows she’s noticed. If he’s going to make a move, now’s the time. He brings his hand to her face. She lifts her eyes to his, then leans into him. He runs his thumb across her lower lip, and her fingers curl through the t-shirt he’s wearing. He dips his head closer. She feels his breath against her lips.



For me, the anticipation of a kiss is almost as good as the kiss itself. Sometimes, it’s even better. Angi’s post yesterday showed us that we’d all be better off if a few kisses never happened at all. The trick, of course, is to know when enough is enough. Too many near-misses, and your reader is going to hate you (and I’m going to feel sorry for your characters.)

A couple of my critique partners have pretty strong feelings about the near-misses (Hi Dahlia and Leigh Ann!) so the balance between near-misses and full-on kisses is something I think about a lot. Here are a few rules I have to satisfy my love for the near-miss kiss without making my friends hate me:

  1. You’re allowed one near-miss before the first kiss. One. Make it good. The tension should peak and then cut off so suddenly it makes you literally ache. Later when you’re building up to the actual first kiss, the reader is already emotionally involved because on top of your fantastically hot writing skills, they’re also still reeling from the near-miss. Everything is heightened.
  2. Just because your characters have kissed already doesn’t mean there can’t be a near-miss later on. Those are even more fun because your reader already knows how sexy that kiss is going to be, so expectations are high. This only works if the previous kisses have been good ones though. Otherwise, the reader is just relieved by the near-miss…and what’s the point of that? (My goal here, obviously, is to torture my reader along with my characters. I’m a mean person.)
  3. The last kiss in the book had better be an actual kiss. I beta read a book once that had a near-miss for the last encounter between  two characters and that was too frustrating even for me. It’s like making a promise and not keeping it. A near-miss has to lead to a real kiss. Don’t make me beg for it.

Kissing is fun. It’s downright OUTSTANDING. But don’t discount the thrill of making your characters (and readers) wait, at least for a few more pages.

When she’s not writing kissing scenes, Megan spends her time playing dress-up with her two daughters, drinking absurd amounts of Cherry Coke Zero, and wishing someone would pay her to tweet. You can find her online at or on Twitter at @MeganWhitmer.

Kiss, Kiss — But Not Like That!

15 Aug

I met Angi Black awhile back and she has never let me down when I needed a gigle. This post… well, I hope you’re in a giggle acceptable area when you read it!

Thanks Angi!


Thanks for having me on the blog, Bria!

Kisses. What can you say? They are the ever important step toward the relationship. In books, and often TV and movieland, that first kiss is the seal, the moment they know, the last thing you see before happily ever after.

I love watching a kiss on TV or film. There are so many things going on. The eyes shutter themselves to half lids. The heads tilt. The hands grip tightly on shoulders. The lighting changes. The music swells. A picture is indeed worth a thousand words.

A thousand words? That is why I love writing and reading about those kisses. Every nuance is there for you. You can describe every single detail, every small movement, every near miss, every feeling they feel, all right there in your thousand (or more!) words.

I devote a lot of my books to kisses and the things that follow. Normally they are the perfect kisses followed by burning desire and only thoughts of getting right back to that perfect pair of lips. I love that.

Nothing compares to a great kissing session. Especially those first ones. You kiss for hours and after you get home and you’re in your room listening to the 100 songs that are “your songs” you run a finger over your still swollen lips. They tingle as if he is there, kissing you, only you. You fall asleep and wake up thinking of nothing but those lips and how you can’t wait to not watch TV with him again tonight.

But lately I’ve been thinking. A dangerous pastime. I know. (Yes. I just quoted Beauty and the Beast. Don’t judge me!)

What I don’t see enough of are those bad kisses that come in real life. You know the ones I mean. No? Here’s five examples to remind you of the boys you left behind.

1. Brace Face:

To kiss with braces. Ah, junior high, maybe freshman year. The first boy I ever really kissed had braces. He pretty much tasted like a quarter. I got my braces shortly after that and was terrified by the urban legend of two kids kissing and becoming interlocked. I could not imagine being face to face with him for that long. So we broke up.

In hind’s sight, maybe he was just a bad kisser and needed to brush his teeth more. Lesson learned.

2. The slobberer:

You know the one I mean. After you kiss you feel like you just got mauled by your English Bulldog? Yeah. And if you kiss Slobberman too much you could end of with dreaded Kool-Aid mouth because your lips, chin and part of your cheeks are chapped from his generous love. *Note – Slobbermen are usually mouthbreathers. This may account for the chapping.

I also dated this guy. Once. Once was clearly too much as I’m still scarred from it and think of him every time I see a thirsty dog on a hot summer day with his gums full of sloppy dribble.

3. Tight lips vs. The Lapper:

You are on a date. The guy makes you laugh. It’s the end of the night. He takes you home. Your heads lean in together, as if magnets pulled from an unknown source. Your pulse pounds and your lips touch. You hit something hard and open your eyes to see if you veered off course somehow. His lips are drawn so tight you feel like you’re kissing plastic. He has a look of pain on his face because they are pulled so tight. You try to readjust your face to this angle or that, but no luck, you’re not getting in.

As a girl, you automatically assume it’s you, not that the guy is just inexperienced or a K-hole. Is my breath bad? Does he not like me? Am I doing it wrong?

NO. You are not. It’s him, not you.

An aside on this – it’s worse if after the thin lipped smooch his tongue darts out just a bit. I won’t kiss a frog to find a prince, I’m not kissing you lizard boy!

The opposite is the guy who wants to wrap his tongue around your head when he kisses you. He likes you a lot, obviously. And he wants to prove it by roughly shoving his tongue into your mouth so hard it bruises your own. I firmly believe this guy used to be Slobberman. Some girl probably finally told him, Dude, I don’t need a spit bath, so he overcompensated by shoving his entire mouth in your face to avoid drooling on you.

4. The Pecker:

(Sorry. Wait for a minute while I giggle at the word pecker because I am 12.)

This one doesn’t drool. He isn’t rough with his tongue. No kisses that feel like they came from a Ken doll. No, this one is much worse.

Cue mood lighting and the swell of your favorite love song in your head. The stars are twinkling. He smells of caramel, which is great because that’s the exact color of his eyes. You lean close and so does he. Then peck.

He kisses your lips quickly. Huh, you think, it was only the first…

Another one. Now you’re thinking what the…

Again. Peck, peck, peck. Like fifty small kisses instead of one good smackeroo. He moves from your mouth to your jawline, your neck, and you should be enjoying it, but you can’t because he lifts his head away after each one and comes back in. He’s like a bird getting food from a feeder, except the feeder is your face! You tense, sure at any moment the beak will emerge and a cawing sound will issue from it. AhHHHH! You’re under attack!

No intimacy can be achieved by this. Who even thinks this is a good idea? No. Just no.

5. The back breaker:

This one is the trickiest of all bad kissers because this guy knows how to kiss. He is beautiful and usually taller then you. He wants you and it all seems fine.


He’s kissing you and kissing you and they get a bit more forceful. He leans into you. Over you. He holds you tight so there’s no where to go. Your back bends over his arms he has circled about your waste. You become insta-gymnast in the final pose of presenting to the judges. You bend further. And further.

Are his feet even still on the floor? Is he at a right angle yet? All he needs to do is move those glorious Ryan Lochte arms up to your hair, let you straighten for a minute, and it would be fine, but his arms have molded into some kind of reverse iron seatbelt holding you securely to his pelvis. Maybe he’s afraid you’ll get away. Maybe we should just lay down on the couch. Maybe…oh God let me up! I have a cramp!

Bonus section:

The worst kiss of all is the one you forget. You can remember the bad ones, dream about the good ones and write about the perfect moments, but the ones you can’t remember? That’s its own special tragedy.

The moral of the story is this:

“A have to kiss a lot of frogs to find your prince.” That may be the princess motto, but it holds true. If his kiss doesn’t buckle your knees and make your head spin (Even if he does look like Ian Somerhalder) keep kissing.  *Note – If he looks like Ian Somerhalder, you should probably kiss him a few times, just to see if you can work out the kinks.

Bottom line – You’ll know a good kiss when it’s worth writing home about.

Angi Black is a dance and performing arts instructor at Centerstage preforming Arts in Baton Rouge, LA. She loves music, life, wine and has an unhealthy crush on the written word. She has 3 adorable children who are growing up far too quickly. Angi is prone to road trips across the country to see her writing pals at a moment’s notice. Being the Ambassador of Awesome is hard work, but between that and dance she finds time to write an absurd amount of words each day and is currently in the query trenches. Her only publication to date is the “Write Your Own Book Contest” seminal classic,”What’s in the Trunk?” from fourth grade. Sadly, it’s out of print.Find her tweeting far too often @AngiNicole722
Blogging about all things writing here:

The Magic of First Kisses

14 Aug

I am amazingly lucky to be able to tell you that not only is Sara Ramsey’s writing super fun, but so is Sara. She’s a lovely person and a talented writer. I’m so glad to have her here kicking off our first week of writers *waves another thanks to last week’s reviewers*) for the Month of Kisses!

Welcome Sara!


Thanks for inviting me to blog, Bria! I must admit, though, that I deeply regret accepting this challenge. Writing a couple’s first kiss scene stresses me out so much that even writing a blog post about first kisses had me panicking and procrastinating all day. How embarrassing is that?

For romances, whether they are traditional romances or YA, that first kiss is crucial — it’s no wonder they give me ulcers. A first kiss is a declaration. It says, in no uncertain terms, that one or both characters recognize some potential between them, some connection that they want to explore. It usually forces the characters to acknowledge that even though there are seemingly insurmountable obstacles standing between them and happiness, they are helpless to control their attraction to each other. It’s a little piece of fantasy for a reader, and it’s fun to imagine being so swept away by someone that you forget everything else — a rare, magical us-against-the-world feeling that so many of my favorite romances seem to capture.

That first kiss has to serve many functions. In a traditional romance (one with a happy ending for the couple, whether it’s YA or adult), it has to get the reader to care about and cheer for the couple. It has to increase the emotional and sexual tension and convince the reader that this is a story they want to follow. It has to entertain. It has to make the reader feel something — perhaps remembering her own first kiss, or dreaming of a first kiss with a perfect partner. And it has to come at exactly the right point in the book — not too early, or the characters look like they’re crazed by instalust, but not too late, or the reader begins to feel ripped off by the author throwing artificial obstacles in to keep the couple apart.

When a first kiss is well written, it shows the reader something beyond just a bit of passion or exploration. It goes deeper than that, into the hearts of these characters, and reveals the first glimpse of the love that might exist for the two of them if they can overcome whatever external obstacles stand in their way. And while the kiss might not be perfect (comedy gold!), or might get interrupted by overbearing guardians, or might lead directly into something more passionate, that first kiss is an opportunity for us as readers to see whether a couple has some spark that will make us follow their love story all the way to the end of the book.

Is it any wonder that I love reading first kisses, but hate writing them? I’m curious to know your opinions — what makes a first kiss work for you? Are there any first kisses that make you stop reading the book? Please share your thoughts in the comments!


Sara Ramsey reads too many novels, drinks far too much caffeine, pays excessive attention to fashion, and is inordinately proud of her bad taste in music and movies. Her second book in the Muses of Mayfair trilogy, SCOTSMEN PREFER BLONDES, came out in April 2012. Sara is currently living the hip Regency writer life in San Francisco, California. You can find her online at, or on Twitter at @sara_ramsey.

The Kissing Olympics

10 Aug
Show Me the Kissing!
Ryan Lochte .gif via tumblr

As a book reviewer, I read my fare share of stories and if there’s one thing I thoroughly enjoy, it’s a good kissing scene. I’m talking about the kind of smooch that gets my heart racing, makes me fan my face and leaves me as breathless as the characters themselves. *sigh*

The who/what/where/when and how of a kiss are important details and sometimes writers miss the mark. As a reader, I want to know exactly what’s happening…where are they?  What are they wearing?  What’s happening around them?  What are they doing with the other parts of their bodies while their lips are engaged? (I’m referring to their hands, so get your mind outta the gutter.)  Speaking of hands…if a guy is cupping a girl’s face, are his hands clean? (I have a thing about dirt and I don’t care if Ryan Lochte is moving in with a gold medal kiss, he’s not touching me if he’s dirty. Or smelly. Btw, this scenario is assuming I’m not married with kids or old enough to have been his babysitter.)

I want to know how the characters are feeling when they’re kissing?  Are they secretly wishing it was over before it started or have they forgotten their own names because it’s just.that.good? I also think it’s important for the kiss to be creatively realistic because if it’s too far fetched, then the entire scene ends up feeling awkward. What do I mean by creatively realistic?  Well, I once had a guy pretend to drop his hat  and when he leaned down to pick it up, he kissed me.  Another one kissed me after I’d refused to give he and his friend a ride home from a party but I promptly reconsidered based on his boldness. Then there’s my husband, who was the first guy to touch my face when he kissed me (with clean hands of course) and made me forget my name. He also brought me cake which made me want to kiss him that much more. *winks*

Some of the best kissing scenes don’t actually involve kissing. Those make up what I like to call the “near-kiss” – where the characters are so close but get interrupted by something or someone.  A good writer can hook me with the promise of a kiss but a smart  writer knows I will only be put off for so long. Too much buildup that falls flat or too many “near-kisses” just leave me frustrated and yelling, “FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THE THINGS, KISS HER ALREADY!” 

Some books have kissing scenes so swoon worthy, I think they deserve an award, so, in the spirit of the 2012 Olympics, here are a few that had gold, silver or bronze medal kissing scenes in them. Your welcome. 

*cue kissing national anthem* “Kiss Me” by Ed Sheeran
Bronze Medal Kissing Scenes:
Shatter Meby Tahereh Mafi ~ Most people need to take a shower AFTER a fantastic kiss…just sayin’.
There You’ll Find Me
by Jenny B. Jones ~ What do you get when you mix dancing vampires,
Catholic School uniforms and shamrocks?  A kissing scene that will have you
on the next plane to Ireland, that’s what.

Silver Medal Kissing Scenes:
Hush Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick ~ A baseball cap, tacos and a Patch make up this yummilicious recipe for kissing.
The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer
by Michelle Hodkin ~ Some kissing scenes build up not just anticipation
but hunger too and require snacks, like…animal crackers. 

Gold Medal Kissing Scenes:
False Memory
by Dan Krokos ~ Lemme just say that this is written from a girl’s POV by
a guy and he nails it. Who knew a bathroom stall could be so
hot?! *fans face*
Shine by Jeri Smith-Ready ~ Aye, this kiss burns up the Emerald Isle with barely any touching and is ab-so-lute-ly Kilt-tastic! *swoons*

Jen can be found at Jenuine Cupcakes where she likes to blog about books, boys (both fictional and real) and cupcakes. You can also find her on twitter @cupcakegirly where she rarely refers to herself in the third person.


Jen this was GREAT. Two fabulous posts in a row for the Month of Kisses!

I thought, we’d end the week with a giveway! Tell us what book or movie would win your Gold Medal of Kisses and win a kindle copy of:

I Love the Earl by Caroline Linden was the first digital Rita winner and a great short read. And, if asked, I’d pick a heart over Bronze, Silver or Gold 😉

How to Kiss

8 Aug

Kicking off the Month of Kisses (which is going to be amazing btw) with something to get you all thinking.

You know at the end of this there’s a contest. You know the contest on my blog is #TeamKissy, but that’s about all we’ve shared so far (besides the hint about how FREAKING awesome the prize is… which is just, so much clearer now, right?) But you don’t know what the contest is.

With that in mind, I’m going to tell you all how to win while @valeriefm80 isn’t looking….

….just kidding.

But I am going to talk about kissing and writing and doing both at the same time… No, wait. That’s not quite right. I’m going to talk about writing kissing. Yes, that’s right.

The Set Up

Unless the point is to have no set up (like Nick & Nora (which I would argue there’s external set up)) then, you’ve got to have something to bring the kiss into focus before it happens. Do the characters spend all their time specifically not kissing because of attraction, dislike, a misunderstanding? Or, have they been slowly walking toward is? Maybe they’ve met and the sparks flew.

Whatever has happened, a kiss isn’t like walking into someone on the street. It’s not just a mistake with no build.

Your kissing scene may start pages before your kiss and your build may (and probably should) start on page one…even if they haven’t met yet. What is your protags personality, physical experience, ideas about love and attraction.

A kiss should be built up to, even if the kiss isn’t “planned” or anything the characters see coming.

The Setting

Where and when a kiss happens is as important in storytelling as a kiss itself. How often have we all joked about those people who have stopped to have sex during a shootout. Yes, an exaggeration, but where and when a kiss happens says a lot — not just about the characters, but about how they feel about each other.

When I write a kiss, it typically is a mirror and a camera – It shows us each of them and the pair as a couple (even if just for that moment)…and it shows them the same thing.

If your kiss just happens because of heat and only because of heat, then you’re missing huge opportunities.

The Kiss

I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately (and I think we’ll have several authors talk about it during Month of Kisses) but it feels like to me there’s two ways to attack a kiss scene: The emotional and the physical.

Don’t get me wrong. Of course a good kiss scene needs to have both, even if the emotional is — I don’t care. I’m just kissing him because he’s hot (oh, famous.last.words.) But for me, I like my kisses to be about they why — Why am I kissing him? Why is he kissing me? How do I feel about this? How do I feel about the kiss? How does this change anything/everything/omgoshpanicpanicpai… Ok, wait. *ponders kissing scenes* *comes up with one without panic* Okay. Okay. It’s going to be fine.

Backing up. especially first kisses (not just in YA) — They’re defining moments. Here is the chance to show not just the reader, but the characters as well how they’re feeling. Kind of a emotional trial-by-fire. I’m a big believer in tbf moments 🙂

Then there’s the physical. Every kissing scene needs to have the physical. Even if it’s as little as where his hands were and his lips touching hers. You need to physically choreograph the kiss. Then there’s the hotter kisses (the physically hotter kisses, because, let’s be honest — there are some sweetly written kisses that blow your socks off because of the emotions behind them).

The Fall Out

Dun Dun Da….. He pulls away, she jerks out of his arms, they make out all night. Fall out time number one.

The next time she sees him, when he doesn’t call, when she runs into an ex, they become joined at the hip. Fall out number two.

Where are we now? Fall out number three.

Yes, all those could be wrapped into one. but what I”m saying is, you can’t have a kiss without aftermath. If you did, then what was the point? Why did you have the kiss? If I was critting for you, and I went through and I marked your scenes as “Why is this here? How does it move the story forward?” Your kiss scene would get a big X through it.

But to win at kiss writing, to really make a memorable kissing scene, you need to roll those all together. The set up, the setting, the kiss and the fall out. Without them all, it’s just knocking lips when you walk into each other on the sidewalk. I see a lot of split lips in that equation.

So, let’s discuss! I’d love to hear about a couple of things actually:

  1. What makes a kissing scene work for you?
  2. What type of kissing scenes do you like to write or read (heavier physical description or emotional description)?
  3. If you’re a writer, what do you struggle with when writing kissing scenes?

Stick around this month – You can see the schedule of amazing writers and reviews who will be talking about kissing throughout August in the blog sticky.

You know what they say — August is all about the heat!


Month of Kisses

7 Aug

Welcome to August.

You may have noticed looking back over the summer that I basically took the time off blogging. I’m really pro-this. A writer needs to know when to shift focus and/or take a break. That’s one thing about us — No one is paying us vacation time, so we feel like we shouldn’t take it.

But, the truth of the matter is, vacation stops burnout.

So, here I am back and ready to get the blog going with an exciting new topic — KISSES!

If you go anywhere near my twitter stream, even walk by it without looking, you’ll have noticed the new challenge put out by me (@briaquinlan) and my agency sister Valerie (@valeriefm80) — Coming next month: KISS / KISS-OFF contest.

You heard me right! A contest! I’ve always had a ton of fun with the contests I’ve run here, but now — joining up with Valerie — we’re bringing you something crazy. While I run the Best Kiss contest, Valerie will be running the Best Kiss-Off contest and then we’ll go head to head.

In preparation of the contest, this month will be a Month of Kisses. Lots of folks from writers to reviewers will talk about kissing, kissing scenes and writing the Big Moment.

Stick around – It’s going to be fabulous 🙂


FWIS: How I Got Where I Stand

2 Nov

Hi there everyone!

First off, let me tell you about this new idea I’m involved in (I know, I know. It’s always something with me, right?)

I’m doing a new series called From Where I Stand (FWIS) with @abbymumford and @jessicacorra – two of my twitter friends! If you saw my blog a few weeks ago about how the two of them had inspired me to start blogging again, you saw the beginning of our new adventure… talking about how writers see things differently at different points in their career.

So, to kick us off, we decided to do a round-up of how we got where we are today… So, Hello to all my usual readers (and again, don’t you have anything better to do than point and laugh at my foolishness) and Welcome! to anyone coming over from Abby’s and Jessica’s blogs!


I was that girl always writing things down and telling stories, but it never dawned on me to want to be a writer (yup, oblivious to my own dream) — but in college, something horrible happened. We had a fire and I lost all my work… not to mention several other things that I was editing hardcopy for other writers — And I stopped writing.

Flash forward a whole bunch of years. I’d lost my job and someone handed me a Julia Quinn romance. I (being the snotty English major) said, Oh, thanks, but I don’t read romance. But the person talked me into giving it a try — and I loved it. I went in search of the next one. At the library, they didn’t have it, but the librarian said, You sound like a writer, are you part of RWA.
ME: What’s RWA?
HER: Romance Writer’s of America
ME: No. I don’t read romance.
HER: Glances at book in my hand
ME: This is my first one. Plus, I’m not a writer. *goes on my merry way*

I got to the book store and asked for the next book. We talked about it and had a conversation… just to keep things simple, read the conversation above. It’s pretty much the same one here word for word… I’m a little MORE sure I neither read romance nor write tho.

I get on the bus to go to a job interview….and sit next to a girl…who has obviously talked to both the librarian and the book store clerk.

HER: What are you reading?
ME: Shows here
HER: Oh, romance. I love romance.
ME: Really?

<Insert conversation about romance and books in generals here>

HER: You should totally write. My roommate is a writer and she’s in this group…
HER: Yes! You should totally join!
ME: *smiles and tries to ignore the universe*

Only that night I went out with a very good girlfriend who eventual gave me a lecture about telling myself stories in my head that ended with: Would you please start writing again so that you’re with people when you’re with them.

I made a deal with myself, if this supposed RWA existed, was near-by and there was a meeting soon, I’d go. *Googles* Oh. Wow, there’s one tomorrow… 10 mins from my house. Fine Universe, fine. I”ll go.

I went. Then went almost immediately to the conference. I met some great writers, a very encouraging agent at her first conference too (Shout out to the fabulous Jenn Schober),  and really got bitten to start writing those things in my head down.

I made a deal with myself: I’d give myself 3 years to see if this was doable. Everything — free time, money, conferences, focus, learning time, etc — would go toward writing.

I wrote my first book…and made EVERY querying mistake out there… got an offer of rep by the time it was over but passed. Wrote my second book, a totally different style, voice and genre… and got five offers of representation. Had my first agent (a very nice, very smart lady) but we didn’t fit… and that’s when I luckily ended up with my gut agent… Lauren MacCleod (@bostonbookgirl) at Strothman… the agent I talked myself out of the first time around.

This year, after fighting so hard to not be a writer OR join RWA, I finaled in the Golden Heart, the most prestigious unpublished writer contest for people who write books that contain a Romance of some type (whether it’s straight romance genre or just has romantic elements). WOW!

I’ve been actively writing 3.5 years now and have 2 books with Lauren, 1 book I’m reworking for her, one in the it-needs-to-start-edits-and-revisions-stage and notes for several next things.

So, how do things From Where I Stand? Pretty darn good! I’m amazingly excited to be working with the MacLeod laird and writing books I love. I’m relearning some things right now and readjusting back to my success line. My goals got a little squishy this year, but I’m getting them firmed up for 2012. 2011 has been an amazing year and I can’t help but hope that 2012 will be even better.

And that’s how I got right here *points at spot on ground* But don’t expect me to stay standing here long. I’m looking for my next spot as we speak!


RWA Here I Come!!!!

27 Jun

Hi all!

I hope you’ve been enjoying the series on the 2011 YA Golden Heart finalists as much as I have! It’s been a joy to get to know my fellow finalists in such a fun way. Now, we’re all off to meet (most of us for the first time…some of us getting to catch up after not seeing each other for a long time.)

At the end of the week, one of us will be a GH Winner. Some will have new agents or book deals. Some will have made connections that will move their writing career forward for years. Some will make lifelong friends.

But all of us, in some way, will be a winner. Just finaling has brought so much energy, attention and excitement, that it feels like the world is ours — the Dash-Boards — for the taking.

One of my inner circle — Jeannie Lin — won two years ago. She told me it’s going to be crazy, you’re going to be tired, you’re going to be treated like a princess, people are going to be introducing themselves all week… enjoy the GH ride!

I plan on it!!! And, while I’m enjoying it, I’ll be tweeting at #Table7 – if you want to follow along, I’ll be there. I’m only semi-mobile so I’ll be able to see DMs and @briaquinlan comments – I’ll try to respond to everyone, but I only have small blocks of free time (who knew finaling would fill your schedule up so fast!!!) If there’s something at RWA11 you’d like to hear about – @ me on twitter!

And so, I’m off to meet my GH sistren!!!

NYC better look out!

YA Survey

8 Apr

On March 15th, Kate Hart did a great blog post on YA genres for the last year. If you didn’t get a chance to check it out, I highly suggest you scoot over there now. It’s HERE.

Welcome back.

Didn’t Kate do a great job… I mean, she even has cool graphs and charts. Do not ever expect that level of cool from me. She also did a lot of work and hunted down a lot of information. It got me thinking (as any good post does) and had me creating something to see what else we could learn. Plus, I’ve always loved Brenda Hiatt’s Show Me The Money page, so I decided to add some places to collect YA deal information as well.

If you’re a YA author who has signed  a publishing contract (not self-pub) in the last year (March 2010-today), please fill out my survey. It’s 100% CONFIDENTIAL. I actually did it on a survey program instead of email so people could feel comfortable being as honest as possible. So, here are some thoughts before you click the link:

  • Please fill out one survey for YA each deal you sign
  • Use whatever genre your publisher has slotted you as
  • Pass it on – the more people who fill it out, the more interesting it will be
  • If you want an email – ONE TIME – to notify you when the survey results are posted, please put that in the survey’s final comments box

Specific information won’t be shared unless you write something in the comment box at the very end of the survey. If you have something you’d like to share, or you’d be interested in answering follow-up questions, please put it there. Otherwise, everything reported from the survey will be generalizations.

Thanks so much for taking the time.

Click here to take survey

BosYAM – huh?

4 Mar

Hey there Boston YA Writers!

With all the YAish movies coming out this spring, it just made sense to get an organized meet-up for them going… or it did when I said it on twitter only 1/2 meaning it and a bunch of people said YES!

Here’s the deal.

It took a lot of calling around, but I’ve narrowed it down to the theater at Freshwater Pond. Why? I wanted something that had public transportation but wasn’t crazy on the driving/parking for the people come in. I also wanted to keep the ticket price below $10… didn’t know what a challenge THAT would be. Yes, I realize I may be driving Special Agent MacLeod home, but you always do what the Clan Laird tells you to do.

So, the first BosYAM will be there.

The first movie will be I AM NUMBER FOUR, next Tuesday (March 8th)  at the 7:00 showing. Afterward, everyone is welcome to travel down the street to the Alewife train station to one of the restaurant (I just need to figure out who will put up with us *grin*) to discuss the movie.

PLEASE RSVP – If you do, and can’t come, that’s okay. If you don’t and show up, that’s okay too. I just need a general headcount of who might be joining us for drinks and chat after.

When The Stars Go Blue ~ Caridad Ferrer

19 Nov

Every once in a while some benevolent being somewhere grants you some special wish you didn’t even know you had. Mine: Get to read WHEN THE STARS GO BLUE by Caridad Ferrer a few months ago. If this post had to end now, it would basically say: IT COMES OUT NEXT TUESDAY, ORDER NOW! RIGHT NOW! WHY ARE YOU STILL HERE? GO ORDER IT!

But, it’s my post so I can keep going 😉

I actually sent her back a totally gushy-gushy email after getting to read it. I just reread the email and the whole book rushed back over me.

You know those books that stay with you, the feelings, certain scenes, certain moments. They don’t happen that frequently. Unfortunately (at least for me), they’re usually of the not-so-great variety. Two books come to mind right away that every so often I just sit thinking “what the heck went wrong there” – Well, STARS is so-very-not that book.

STARS is based on the opera Carmen. Now, I know, some of you just glazed a little there. Opera? It’s like when people say “bible” – but they have one thing in common: High Drama! I mean, big, Big, BIG stakes. There’s love, hate, romance, sex, risk, betrayal, loss, passion, gain – basically, pick an emotion and whoomp, there it is. Opera is a place where things don’t just change for now…but forever.

Caridad tells that story – that Life Changes Forever story.


A dancer driven to succeed.

A musical prodigy attempting to escape his past.

The summer they share.

And the moment it all goes wrong.

Dance is Soledad Reyes’s life. About to graduate from Miami’s Biscayne High School for the Performing Arts, she plans on spending her last summer at home teaching in a dance studio, saving money, and eventually auditioning for dance companies. That is, until fate intervenes in the form of fellow student Jonathan Crandall who has what sounds like an outrageous proposition: Forget teaching. Why not spend the summer performing in the intense environment of the competitive drum and bugle corps? The corps is going to be performing Carmen, and the opportunity to portray the character of the sultry gypsy proves too tempting for Soledad to pass up, as well as the opportunity to spend more time with Jonathan, who intrigues her in a way no boy ever has before.

But in an uncanny echo of the story they perform every evening, an unexpected competitor for Soledad’s affections appears: Taz, a member of an all-star Spanish soccer team. One explosive encounter later Soledad finds not only her relationship with Jonathan threatened, but her entire future as a professional dancer.

(glances at emails) – I just remembered why I don’t do reviews. Here’s the problem with writing about this book: You know those stories that are so good that you want to sit down over dinner and tell everyone about it? And then, when someone shows up late (you know who you are) you want to tell them again, but the story is so good no one minds. This is one of those stories.

But, the flip side of that is that, this book is so good… so surprising… that I don’t want to tell you anything. Not a thing. I want you to just trust me and go read it. Do NOT even read the back cover flap, just read the book. Honest.

But, since no one ever does that:

Soledad is an uber-talented dancer. I love how Caridad made her passionate, driven and ambitious without being a B-Word-We-Abuse. Seriously, sometimes when a girl is portrayed as those things, she’s often scarified on the alter of the Nice Girl. As a nice girl chasing a big dream, I have to say how very much I love and respect Soledad. She rocks the house with her dancing, challenges the norms of the drum corp and overcomes … well, read the book. Soledad overcomes what looks like the problem and then another one and then another one and then… Let’s just say, this is not a girl who walks the easy road.

Jonathan. Jonathan, you break my heart. You were exactly the boy a passionate girl would embrace. And did you ever need embracing. And that is all I’m going to say about that. Okay, no it’s not: You’re also cute and hot at the same time. Talented, driven and haunted. (Not a spoiler because we see it pretty darn quickly: Parents who read this book, I’ve worked with ones like Jonathan’s dad. Do not become that parent, do not become the thing that haunts your child.)

There are two lines in STARS that resonated with me so much, that I read just those pages to Vicarious Writing Girl (who is a more a ‘literary fiction’ snob girl, no real genre or YA going on there). You know when a page – a line – tells a truth so beautifully, so absolute, that you can read it to someone who doesn’t know what going on and they are just as struck as you. This whole book is like that, but these two lines… Wow. The drive home lessons we all learn. Lessons I’d forgotten I knew and needed to be reminded of.

 And so, even though my reviewing skills suck, this book does not. Not even close. If I could tell you there was a definite must read and you’d believe me, then consider yourself told.

ETA: WordPress won’t let me insert links. Check out WHEN THE STARS GO BLUE by Caridad Ferrer here: