This is what I really, really, realllllyyyyyy want for Christmas--and throughout all of 2009:
1. A hero who makes me drool. Making me laugh counts, too. And if he can make me weep, all the better. I'd like to find a hero who yells, "Hey, Kath, over here! Look at me; let me show what I can and will do for you." I want heroes like the three men in Kathleen O'Connor's "Men Of Paradise"; Diane Amos' "Getting Personal"; and Lainey Bancroft's "The Trouble With Tessa", all from TWRP due out in the spring of 2009.
2. A heroine with a backbone. Perhaps it's always been there but might need a little softening. On the other hand, it might emerge as the story progresses. That's even better. The one with the strong exterior shell but who underneath is a mass of fears and anxieties is best of all. She'll make the hero work to "uncover" her weaknesses. And I'd really like it if she has a past.
For great heroines, IMO, Check out Dara Edmondsen's "Compromising Positions" and Nicole McCaffrey's "The Model Man", both Last Rose of Summer best sellers in 2008, and Diane Amos' "Mixed Blessings", due out in 2009, also part of the Old Lady Saloon.
3. I want someone [hero or heroine] whose motivation goes beyond wanting to acquire a tract of land so he/she can build condominiums on it because they grew up poor. Yawner of all yawners. How about someone who might be scared to death each day, but goes out there and does it because it's the right thing to do? Think TV's Monk; the psychic hero on "The Mentalist"; or Charlie Crews, on "Life".
For those of you who aren't familiar with these three darling men--all heroes in my book--Adrian Monk, a former police detective, suffers from numerous phobias and idiosyncracies, yet he manages to reach beyond them to solve crimes and save lives. "The Mentalist", a new fall show on TV, focuses on a psychic who advises the California State Police on violent crimes and who, on a daily basis, is reminded that his much loved wife and child were murdered--in part due to his arrogance and Grand Canyon sized ego. Charlie Crews is a cop who spent 12 years in prison for the murder of his police partner, railroaded by other law enforcement officers. He is released on appeal, wins a gazillion dollar lawsuit against the LAPD, yet returns to work there as a homicide detective. Think about the stress of working with some of the same people who put you in a maximum security cage for 12 years, hoping they'll watch your back, knowing they won't.
4. I realize Hogwarts has been taken. I'd still like to discover a setting that jumps off the page and becomes as real as the humans. The kind of place that I feel I MUST visit sometime [Kathy O'Connor's gated Florida community "Paradise"] even though I loathe hotter climates--or go back to so I can burn it down [No Man's Land in Kat Henry Doran's "Captain Marvelous"]. It can be a small town or a big city, or a neighborhood inside a big city. It might be a college campus or a high school. Check out Eileen Dreyer's "Sinners and Saints", a 2006 release through St. Martin's Press. If New Orleans isn't your cup of chicory, read Sandra Brown's "Envy" for a look at one of the sea islands off the coast of Georgia.
5. Conflict is the basis for the story and it must consist of something more serious than what can be resolved in a 5 minute conversation. Sorry, the reluctance to offend the other's sensibilities, or fear of what the parents might think are more than yawners to this editor. They put me into a coma faster than a duck . . . never mind.
I want to think from the beginning of the story "these two do not stand a chance of a popsicle in hell of staying together". I want to know that one of them would give up their life-long dream in order to keep the other in their life--and if it's NOT the heroine who does all the changing/giving/making compromises, that's even better.
6. Proper spelling, punctuation, a dearth of frothy prose, limited speech tags, and tight narrative goes a looooong way with this Wild Woman Editor, so take advantage of spell check, a thesaurus, and a good critique group.