Seekerville: The Journey Continues | category: Melanie Dickerson


Seekerville: The Journey Continues

Hidden Identity Stories – What Do I Need to Know?

Melanie Dickerson here, talking about one of my favorite story devices – main characters with hidden identities.

I don’t think I’ll ever forget how much I loved reading The Scarlet Pimpernel as a young teenager. Here was this courageous hero, risking his life to save innocent people from the guillotine, a British aristocrat in love with a woman who might actually be his enemy. So he kept up his disguise even in front of his own wife, pretending to be a silly, empty-headed fop when he was actually the heroic Scarlet Pimpernel.
Hidden Identity Stories – What Do I Need to Know?
And then there was the old black-and-white TV show about Zorro that I loved as a kid. It was a similar story, about a young man who pretended to be a coward by day, but by night he was the courageous crusader against the unjust and corrupt authorities in Spanish California. This character directly inspired my hero in Magnolia Summer, my historical romance set in 1880 Alabama.

Hidden Identity Stories – What Do I Need to Know?
One of my favorite movies is the version of The Count of Monte Cristo with Jim Caviezel. The sweet and innocent hero is treated so cruelly by his friend-turned-enemy, locked up in a brutal prison for 13 years, so that when he gets out he is determined to get revenge. He becomes the wealthy and clever Count of Monte Cristo, fooling everyone who knew him, except for the woman who loved him and still loves him. In the end, he realizes that love is so much more important than revenge, and God may have seemed to have abandoned him, but He was there all along, believing in him when he had stopped believing in God.

And this story device shows up in fairy tales all the time. 
Hidden Identity Stories – What Do I Need to Know?

Snow White is forced to suffer abuse at the hands of a wicked queen/stepmother, treated like a servant when she’s actually a princess. And The Goose Girl is actually a princess who was forced to work as a lowly servant while her handmaiden marries the prince. And of course, there’s the Beast in Beauty and the Beast, who’s actually a young, handsome prince under a spell. In The Frog Prince, the prince has been turned into a frog. All of these hidden identity stories were fun for me to turn into my own medieval versions, as I love the hidden identity device.

So is it only possible for historical writers? Not necessarily. Nicholas Sparks did it in his contemporary novel, Safe Haven. The heroine was running from her evil abusive husband. She changed her name, took a deceased person’s social security number, dyed her hair, and ran away, settling in a town where she knew no one.
So what do you need to keep in mind if you want to do a hidden identity story?

Make sure it’s plausible.

This is important with any story, but pay particular attention to making the hidden identity plausible. In my Little Mermaid story, I needed a plausible reason that a pampered, privileged ward of the king would run away and live as a poor, lowly servant girl, lying about her identity. So I made the heroine in TheSilent Songbird desperate to escape an arranged marriage to a disgusting man who had the king fooled but not my heroine. 
Hidden Identity Stories – What Do I Need to Know?

I allowed her to fall in love quickly, or at least become infatuated quickly, with a handsome young man who was traveling back to his home village. Who would care about a comfortable, privileged life if she was in love with a poor man? Not my Evangeline.

And for my most recent published novel, The Warrior Maiden, I did something I didn’t think I would ever want to do, which was to have my heroine disguise herself as a man. I generally thought those stories, where the heroine fooled everyone into thinking she was a man, weren’t very believable. But when I took on the Mulan story in my newest retelling, I dived in and wrestled with all the things that make it difficult to disguise a post-adolescent girl as a boy.
Hidden Identity Stories – What Do I Need to Know?

First, I had to give her a believable reason for wanting to be a man and go to battle. So I made it necessary in order for her mother to be taken care of. (There’s more to it than that, but you get the gist.) Second, for the problem of the fact that a young woman’s body just does not look like a man’s, I had my Mulan wear her father’s baggy clothes. I also had her cut her hair and smear mud on her face so it would be less obvious that she didn’t have facial hair. Third, I had her disguise her voice and her walk. I think it also helped that she had a friend with her, her armor bearer, who basically treated her like a man, which would make it more believable to the other soldiers.

Next, I had to consider how she and the hero would interact with each other while the hero thought she was a boy. I didn’t want him to be attracted to her as a boy, but I wanted him to like her, to be drawn to her as a friend, almost as a younger brother. I did want the heroine to be attracted to him, but of course she could not show how she felt about him. I didn’t think I could sustain this deception, however, for very long, so I had the hero discover she was a woman about one-third of the way through the story. So then there was the conflict and story question of how and when her other fellow soldiers would discover her identity and how they would react, and how and when the hero would cease to think of her as a brother and fall in love with her as a woman. She was already pretty much in love with him. Which brings me to another point.

Decide who will know the secret and how the secret will be kept. 

This is pretty self-explanatory. In Magnolia Summer, no one knows Truett’s secret except one friend, who leaves after the first chapter. It’s less complicated that way. In The Golden Braid
Hidden Identity Stories – What Do I Need to Know?Hidden Identity Stories – What Do I Need to Know?the only person who knows the true identity of Rapunzel is the evil villainess, Gothel. The truth is revealed by a scar and a woman who knew her as a little child and who recognizes the scar. In my Snow White story, 
The Fairest Beauty, the truth is proven by a birthmark on the heroine’s neck. 

Have fun with the reveal.

This is the most fun part. You can make it as dramatic as you can dream up. Mulan’s identity as a woman is revealed when she gets shot and she begs the hero not to look at her wound. The only way she can persuade him is to tell him her secret. My Southern Zorro, in Magnolia Summer, is revealed to the heroine when she finds his hiding place for his cape and hood disguise in a cave. Her suspicions are confirmed when she holds the cape to her face and breathes in the hero’s scent.

It’s a romance, after all.
Hidden Identity Stories – What Do I Need to Know?

Beware the lying and deception problem.

It can be a bit tricky for us when we write for a Christian audience. We don’t want our heroes and heroines to lie and deceive other people for their own gain. And even in the general market you probably don’t want an unlikable, deceptive main character. Which is why we have to give them a really good reason for disguising themselves and basically deceiving everyone around them. And that can make the reveal all the more dramatic, because the hero or heroine may feel guilty for deceiving the other, as Evangeline did in TheSilent Songbird. Westley wondered how she could have deceived him, not only into believing that she was servant girl when she was actually a king’s ward, but also because she pretended to be mute and unable to speak, when in actuality, she was famed for her beautiful singing voice. Drama drama drama. I love it.

So now it’s your turn. Tell me if you love hidden identity stories and which is your favorite. Have you ever tried to write one? Let me know in the comments, and one lucky commenter will receive a signed hardcover copy of The Warrior Maiden, my Mulan story just released in February.
Hidden Identity Stories – What Do I Need to Know?

Hidden Identity Stories – What Do I Need to Know?
Melanie Dickerson is the author of fairy tale retellings and other historical romances, many of which have hidden identities. She's in love with drama of the fictional variety while enjoying sunsets and peace and quiet at her new house on a hill in the country in Alabama where she can hear geese, sheep, cows, and donkeys while she dreams up lots of angst and drama for her characters and stories.

Why I Love Fairy Tale Retellings


Why I Love Fairy Tale Retellings

by Carrie Schmidt

From the first time I watched Disney's Cinderella as a starry-eyed three-year-old (who watched it in an old theater with sweeping staircases... and became Cinderella as much as any one little girl can), I have loved fairy tales. 

I love the way they champion the power of love & kindness & courage.

I love the way they always end in happily ever after. 

I love the way they reflect the Gospel and my relationship with Jesus. 

But most of all, I just love everything they promise us about life and love. 

Why I Love Fairy Tale Retellings
Fairy Tale retellings continue to be a wildly popular subgenre in, particularly, Young Adult fiction but have a huge adult following as well. (It's been a long time since I've been a 'young' adult and this is still one of my very fave types of fiction to read) They can be historical or contemporary, a more literal retelling or a loose reimagining. Maybe all the details but one are changed to suit the author's purposes, or maybe all the details but one are the same. (Retellings are also crazy popular for classic literature - Austen & Dickens, etc. - and beloved stories from the Bible - Ruth & Esther tend to be the go-to stories to retell here.)

So why do I love them? 

Because they do everything that a fairy tale does (see list above) PLUS they remind me of my childhood, of that princess-wannabe who fell in love with story as Cinderella fell in love with Prince Charming. They remind me what it's like to discover the wonders and intricacies of a beloved plot and characters for the first time. 

Not only that, but retellings of any kind remind us that our stories are never really over. 

I will pretty much gravitate toward any book that claims to be a retelling (for all the reasons I've already mentioned) but allow me to take a moment to share some of my favorites. This can definitely act as a syllabus of sorts for anyone wanting to do more research!


The Captive Maiden by Melanie Dickerson (medieval Germany)
Cinder by Marissa Meyer (sci-fi)
Texas Cinderella by Winnie Griggs (historical/western)
Cowboy Charming by Lacy Williams (reverse Cinderella/contemporary/western) 
It Started With Goodbye by Christina June (YA contemporary retelling)


The Merchant's Daughter by Melanie Dickerson (medieval England)
The Lady & The Lionheart by Joanne Bischof (turn of the century Appalachia/circus) 
Whispers In the Reading Room by Shelley Shepard Gray (Gilded Age mystery)
The Beastly Princess by Lacy Williams (reverse roles/contemporary/western)
The Beautiful Pretender by Melanie Dickerson (medieval Germany) 


The Fairest Beauty by Melanie Dickerson (medieval Germany)
Winter by Marissa Meyer (sci-fi)
Once Upon a Cowboy by Lacy Williams (contemporary/western)
The Shadow Queen by CJ Redwine (YA fantasy)

Can't imagine a contemporary retelling of Little Red Riding Hood? You need Everywhere You Want to Be by Christina June.  

Intrigued by an allegorical retelling of The Wizard of Oz? Make sure you grab a copy of Emerald Illusion by J. Rodes.

And what about....


I'm so glad you asked!

Turns out that Seekerville's own Melanie Dickerson has a Mulan retelling releasing in just two weeks! 

Why I Love Fairy Tale Retellings
She knows women are expected to marry, cook, and have children, not go to war. Can she manage to stay alive, save her mother, and keep the handsome son of a duke from discovering her secret?

When Mulan takes her father’s place in battle against the besieging Teutonic Knights, she realizes she has been preparing for this journey her whole life—and that her life, and her mother’s, depends on her success. As the adopted daughter of poor parents, Mulan has little power in the world. If she can’t prove herself on the battlefield, she could face death—or, perhaps worse, marriage to the village butcher.

Disguised as a young man, Mulan meets the German duke’s son, Wolfgang, who is determined to save his people even if it means fighting against his own brother. Wolfgang is exasperated by the new soldier who seems to be one step away from disaster at all times—or showing him up in embarrassing ways.

From rivals to reluctant friends, Mulan and Wolfgang begin to share secrets. But war is an uncertain time and dreams can die as quickly as they are born. When Mulan receives word of danger back home, she must make the ultimate choice. Can she be the son her bitter father never had? Or will she become the strong young woman she was created to be?

This fresh reimagining of the classic tale takes us to fifteenth-century Lithuania where both love and war challenge the strongest of hearts. 

Preorder your copy HERE


I'm giving away a copy of The Warrior Maiden (or a Melanie Dickerson retelling of your choice) to anyone who comments below. Open internationally as long as Book Depository ships to your country.  

Do you like retellings? Why do you think they are so popular?


Plotting is a Strange Animal

Melanie Dickerson here.
One of the things I get asked about most often from young writers is plotting. Even though they may not know they’re asking me about plotting. For example, they may tell me that they have started a novel but they’re stuck and don’t know what to write next. Or they may ask me, “How do you finish a book? I always get about 50 pages into it and then I never seem to be able to finish.” And even more common is, “Where do you get your ideas?”

In these cases, the problem is usually that they don’t have enough plot. So if you know you need a plot, where can you get one? Or if you have a partial plot, where do you get the rest?

Plotting is a strange animal. Some of us outline meticulously, and others get a few vague ideas for a story and just start writing. But either way, you have to have a plot. So it’s important to know the basics of what makes up a good story. It’s important to know the essential elements. It’s important to read about how other writers come up with their plots. And it’s important to figure out what methods work best for you.

When a young writer asks me for advice, I will usually send them my list of writerly websites, with Seekerville and the Seekerville archives at the very top. I also give them a list of several books on writing for them to read, such as Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell and Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass. This is what I did, I read how other writers do it. I tried to learn as much as I could about story and characterization and plot. And I went to workshops at conferences and took notes.

I have 15 published novels but I still like to get tips on plotting, even though I’m a pantser who hates outlining. I sometimes say I don’t do a whole lot of plotting, but that’s not really true. I have to plot. I just don’t like to plot in too much detail too far in advance. I’d rather plot as I go along and keep the ideas percolating in my head. But however you plot, it’s good to figure out what works best for you.
And it’s also good to acquire some plotting tools.

One tool I’ve used with several of my books is Donald Maass’s Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook. It’s a fill-in-the-blank workbook that is a companion to the book by the same name. It can help you come up with ways to make your plot more interesting.

These days I have a Plotting Worksheet that I made for myself. I fill it out before I start writing. The first part is basically the GMC chart from Debra Dixon’s book Goal, Motivation, and Conflict, or GMC, which is a classic and should be read by every fiction writer. I focus on one of the main characters and I write down an external goal, a motivation for that goal, and the conflict for that goal. Then I do the same thing for the other main character. You might also find it helpful to write down the GMC for the villain as well, but you definitely should have one for the villain.

The rest of the worksheet are a series of blanks that I do for each of the main characters. These are mostly questions about the characters’ past, and I got these from a workshop taught by Susan May Warren and Rachel Hauck. (So I did actually go to at least one workshop while I was at a writers conference, instead of only socializing my friends!)

I would love to tell you all the questions I ask myself about my characters, but that would seem like I was giving away Susan May Warren and Rachel Hauck’s information, almost like plagiarism. So I suggest you check out their materials. Susan May Warren’swebsite  has a section of her website Writing/Teaching, and you can explore there, but she also has a separate website here with her My Book Therapy information called Learn How to Write a Novel.  She and her team have workshops that they teach, writerly services where they teach you one-on-one, and they have books. Some of their services are expensive, of course, since they’re teaching one-on-one and you’re getting their focused attention. So if you can’t afford that, don’t despair. I didn’t shell out a lot of money in the beginning, either. I read books from my library. I bought books on writing. And I read the great blogs out there that are chock full of free articles.

I will tell you some of the questions I ask about my characters. I try to come up with their greatest fear, the lie the heroine believes about herself, her biggest strength and her biggest flaw. Her deep wound she acquired from her childhood. If you can come up with this stuff about your characters, it will help you with plot, because plot and characterization go hand in hand. Think about it. If you know your character’s worst moment from their past, or their biggest fear, you can use that to create tension and conflict and create something for your character to overcome, something the villain can use against them. Before you know it, you’re coming up with scenes in your head.

Something else your plot needs is a Beginning, Middle, and End. It needs a trajectory. What is the big “inciting incident” that starts your story, that thrusts your character into conflict or on a journey? For the middle, you have to ask yourself, What is going to keep the tension and conflict going? How can I make things worse for them in the middle? What is a good plot twist that ramps up the conflict? Where are my characters going, and what do they have to go through and learn before they can get there? And of course, you need to figure out the ending, preferably before you get too far into the story. What does Happily Ever After look like for my characters? And if you don’t write HEA endings, then how are you going to tie up all the loose ends and bring closure for your characters?

Another plotting guru who has tons of resources and books on writing is James Scott Bell. You can check out his website where he has a section For Writers.

Okay, let me know if that’s helpful. You at least have a TON of possible resources now. And if you’re willing to share, tell me how you plot, what resources have helped you, and how you get ideas for your plot, or what your plotting process is. One commenter will win an e-copy of my new book Magnolia Summer.

From New York Times Bestselling author Melanie Dickerson comes a story of romance, heroism, and secret identity. Will this Deep South Zorro succeed in saving his sleepy Southern town? 

Truett Beverly returned to Bethel Springs, Alabama, after finishing medical school. Fighting a secret war with a corrupt lawman wasn’t in his plans, but when Sheriff Suggs threatens his childhood friend, Truett dons a cape and hood and becomes the Hooded Horseman, placing him squarely in the sheriff’s crosshairs. 

Celia Wilcox arrives in Bethel Springs in June of 1880. She’s come from Nashville to help her sister care for their younger siblings. She hopes only to be on the small farm for the summer, just until her mother recovers from the shock of Celia’s father’s death. She must return to Nashville in order to fulfill her dream of opening her own dress shop. 

Celia catches Truett’s eye from the moment she steps off the train. He finds himself wanting to impress her, but she flatly refuses to flirt with him or to fall for his—if he does say so himself—considerable charm. Truth is, Celia’s attraction to Dr. Truett Beverly terrifies her. What will happen when Sheriff Suggs discovers Truett is the Hooded Horseman? Will Celia's greatest fears come true? Or will she be able to prevent the sheriff from carrying out one last lynching?

Write Your Feelings

Melanie Dickerson here.
Ten plus years ago when I was trying to get my first Medieval fairy tale retelling published, I was having no luck at all. It couldn’t have been any worse if I’d been selling ice makers to penguins in the North Pole. And penguins only live in the Southern Hemisphere. You get my point. Nobody wanted it because it was Medieval. Nobody wanted it because it was a YA romance. And nobody wanted it because I was nobody. You know?

Since Medievals and YA romances weren’t selling, I decided I’d better write something closer to what was selling, which was romances set in the 1800s in the U.S. I also got the idea that I was going to follow the advice I’d often heard, which was to “Write What You Know.” And since what I know is the South, having grown up and lived nearly my whole life in the Deep South, mostly Alabama, then I’d set a romance in 1800s Alabama.

Write Your FeelingsBut looking back, I don’t think the advice to “write what you know” means to write books set in the places you are most familiar with. I think it has more to do with the writer’s own experiences and emotions. You can research a setting. After all, I’ve been writing books set in Medieval Europe and I’ve certainly never been there. I’ve been to Germany, but just being there for a few weeks doesn’t make me an expert. I’ve mostly learned about Medieval Germany from the internet, from pictures and books and videos.

But in those books, I’ve written what I know. I’ve drawn on my experiences and given them to my characters. I’ve drawn on the emotions I’ve experienced going through certain situations and trials and I’ve transferred those to my heroes and heroines. And even my villains.

When I started writing Magnolia Summer, I’d just experienced, for the second time in my life, fainting in front of strangers, so I put it in that book. Yes, it is a cliché for a romance heroine to faint. And some people hate that. I got a wee bit of smack from readers over having my heroine from A Dangerous Engagement faint a few times. But fainting is something that’s happened to me. It’s something I know.

I know the emotions of it, how embarrassing it is, firsthand. So I used it in Magnolia Summer. And then, years later, I wrote it into Felicity’s story in A Dangerous Engagement, because hey, a little angst and drama are good for a story, and fainting is angsty and dramatic. And the truth is, there are people who are physically prone to fainting. My daughter also has this, and it’s frustrating. It doesn’t happen because you’re weak or wimpy or pathetic. It’s a physiological hiccup, and let me tell you, if your body decides to faint, there is nothing you can do to stop it.
Write Your Feelings

There are tons of other things that occur in Magnolia Summer that I know firsthand. In fact, the books in which I put my most personal experiences are the books that have a special place in my heart. Now, I’m not saying the exact things that happen in my books actually happened to me. But similar things, or things that produce the same type of emotions, happened to me. They’re what I know. I know what it feels like to be sexually harassed by an older man. That happened to me in my teens, and the same thing happened to Annabel in The Merchant’s Daughter. I used that experience and those feelings. I gave them to Annabel because they worked for the plot, and maybe also because I never intended to share that with anyone and I felt safe dealing with it in my book. (Sorry, Past Melanie. Present Melanie sometimes overshares.)

In Magnolia Summer, a rattlesnake is threatening a little girl. My heroine beats the snake to death with a stick. When I was teen, I came upon a rattlesnake next to our front steps that was only inches away from my puppy, who was completely oblivious to it. I shoved my puppy back, grabbed my long stick that I took with me on walks, and I bludgeoned that snake to death. So that scene in the book is pretty much identical to what happened to me, once my heroine grabs that stick.

Write Your Feelings

Let it never be said of me that I wasted a dramatic experience from real life.

I also know what sweet, chivalrous, Southern men are like, and I tried really hard to duplicate that “Southern gentleman” experience in Magnolia Summer. Some of the Southern gentlemen in the book are only gentlemanly when it suits their purpose, as in the case of the villains in the book, Sheriff Suggs and his son, Curtis. But others, like my hero Truett Beverly, are the real deal—strong and soft-spoken and unfailingly heroic and chivalrous to women and children. I hope I captured what it feels like to have a man treat you that way. Because that’s what fiction is all about, making the reader FEEL. If I can make you feel something, I’ve done my job well.

I know the terror of the thought that I might have to give up my dream—in my case, writing, and in my heroine’s case, owning her own dress shop.

I know the pain of losing my father, which I had recently gone through when I wrote Magnolia Summer, and I gave that pain to my heroine.

I know what it’s like to want something so badly and yet, at the same time, to fear that it will ruin your life, so I gave that desire/terror to my heroine.

I know what it’s like to live in Alabama with no air conditioning. I know how Southerners speak and how it feels to have someone think you’re stupid just because you have a Southern accent. And I know how it feels to be nearly destitute and worry you won’t be able to buy food. I know how it feels to stand up for someone that others are mistreating. And I used all those feelings in this book.

Write what you know. Write your life experiences. Don’t let anything go to waste, hold nothing back. Don’t eat your feelings; write them.

So now it’s your turn. If you’re a writer, tell us in what ways you “write what you know” or “write your feelings” and life experiences. You don’t have to get too personal if you don’t want to, but it’s more interesting if you do. LOL!

And if you’re a reader, how do you think it increases your reading enjoyment if the emotion in a book feels real and authentic? Do you feel like you can detect whether a writer is writing their own feelings authentically, or just phoning it in?

One commenter will win either a paperback copy or an ebook copy of Magnolia Summer, which just released in paperback and will release on Kindle Sept. 5th.

Write Your Feelings

Truett Beverly returned to Bethel Springs, Alabama, after finishing medical school. Fighting a secret war with a corrupt lawman wasn’t in his plans, but when Sheriff Suggs threatens his childhood friend, Truett dons a cape and hood and becomes the Hooded Horseman, placing him squarely in the sheriff’s crosshairs. 

Celia Wilcox arrives in Bethel Springs in June of 1880. She’s come from Nashville to help her sister care for their younger siblings. She hopes only to be on the small farm for the summer, just until her mother recovers from the shock of Celia’s father’s death. She must return to Nashville in order to fulfill her dream of opening her own dress shop. 

Celia catches Truett’s eye from the moment she steps off the train. He finds himself wanting to impress her, but she flatly refuses to flirt with him or to fall for his—if he does say so himself—considerable charm. Truth is, Celia’s attraction to Dr. Truett Beverly terrifies her. What will happen when Sheriff Suggs discovers Truett is the Hooded Horseman? Will Celia's greatest fears come true? Or will she be able to prevent the sheriff from carrying out one last lynching?

Pre-order the ebook, which releases Sept. 5th, or order the paperback, available NOW.

Write Confidently, Even if that Scares You

What does it mean to write confidently? Does it mean to write without worrying if your story is too controversial? Does it mean to write a story that you know will be hard to pull off, but if you can pull it off, it’s going to be amazing? Does it mean to write without worrying that it might not be your best seller? Does it mean to write what God has put on your heart even though it’s not a popular genre?

Yes. Yes to all of the above. Not to say that you should always write whatever strikes your fancy. I once decided it would be a good idea to write a YA series about teens who had to save their town by killing zombies. While I still think it’s not a terrible idea—Buffy the Vampire Slayer was pretty popular, after all—it wasn’t the best idea for me. At all. So you should definitely pray about it if you’re not sure.

"I'd rather regret the risks that didn't work out than the chances I didn't take at all."

- Simone Biles

Writers are gymnasts who take risks with our words, with our imaginations and our characters and our stories. Not just for the sake of taking a risk. But just like an Olympic gymnast, we do it to win the gold. And winning the gold for us means to write something that will touch a hurting heart. Make a reader not feel so alone. Make our readers catch their breath at how beautiful and true our words are. We take risks for the sake of truth in our stories. The truth of love and hope and dreams coming true, as well as the truth of pain and disappointment and that bad decisions have consequences. But always the ultimate truth, that Jesus is the Way, and He loves us.

"I have learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."

- Maya Angelou

We take risks and write confidently because we have to make our readers feel it. We study and learn and revise because we want to choose the very best way to say something to make the reader feel all the feels. But first we have to be confident, almost reckless, as we write that story, that dialogue, that action. We pour it out, drawing on our own pain and experiences, the truth inside us, the things God has taught us in the crises and difficult times we’ve walked through. And we do our best to make them feel.

“Accept who you are; and revel in it.”  -- Mitch Albom


What do you love? Write about it. What makes you unique? Write that. What makes your heart race and your breath shallow? Write about that. Don’t write what you know; write what you LOVE.


“To write something you have to risk making a fool of yourself.”

-       Anne Rice

Be yourself when you write. That’s how you write with confidence. Be completely and fully you. Don’t be afraid of making a fool of yourself. Go ahead and risk it for the sake of your story, the sake of being fully, completely real.

"I can shake off everything as I write; my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn."

-       Anne Frank

What do we love about Anne Frank? She was real. She told it like it was, without holding back. Her emotions were real. Her struggles were real. Our characters have to be the same way. They must show real feeling, real struggles. After all, that’s how we learn, and that’s how our characters learn, by struggling with real problems.

So let your courage be reborn as you write, as your sorrows disappear from the joy of writing, of creating characters and a story that’s never existed before in this exact form. God created us in his image, and since he’s the ultimate Creator, we were made to feel the joy of creating, just as he did.

"Courage doesn't mean you don't get afraid. Courage means you don't let fear stop you."

-       Bethany Hamilton

When you’re afraid, you dig deep for your courage and write anyway. Don’t let anything stop you from writing confidently.


“You don't start out writing good stuff. You start out writing crap and thinking it's good stuff, and then gradually you get better at it. That's why I say one of the most valuable traits is persistence.”

-       Octavia E. Butler


When you get back those revisions or those critiques from your critique partners, don’t let yourself stay discouraged. Get back in there. Figure out why they said what they said. If you agree that what they’re suggesting will help your story, then change it. If you don’t agree that their suggestions will improve your story, then don’t change it. But most likely there’s a reason, something you can do to change the story and make it better, to make it as flawless as possible, so your reader doesn’t get hung up on something that distracts them from the meaning and emotion of the story. And that might be the ultimate test of your courage and confidence. Being confident enough to make changes.

So, what is your greatest struggle in writing? What keeps you from writing confidently? Or are you writing so confidently, you struggle with the practical side of things? Let us know, and I’ll give away a copy of my recent release, The Orphan’s Wish, to one commenter.
Write Confidently, Even if that Scares You
And now for the "surprise news" I've been posting on my social media. I am self-publishing a new book in a month and a half. It's a book I wrote over 10 years ago, a book I always hoped would be the first in a series of books set in my neck of the woods, the place I've lived nearly my whole life--the Deep South. So instead of "playing it safe" and sticking with Medieval fairy tale retellings, traditional publishers, and another Regency romance series, I'm branching out to write what's been on my heart for a while, my Southern series.
Write Confidently, Even if that Scares You
Truett Beverly’s hometown needed a doctor, so after finishing medical school, he returned to Bethel Springs, Alabama. Fighting a secret war with a corrupt lawman wasn’t in his plans, but Sheriff Suggs thinks he’s above the law and can lynch anyone who crosses him. When Suggs threatens his childhood friend, Truett dons a cape and hood and rescues him—placing “the Hooded Horseman” in Sheriff Suggs’s crosshairs. 

Celia Wilcox arrives in Bethel Springs in June of 1880. She’s come from Nashville to help her sister care for their younger siblings. She hopes only to be on the small farm for the summer, just until her mother recovers from the shock of Celia’s father’s death. She must return to Nashville to fulfill her dream of opening her own dress shop. 

The lovely Celia catches Truett’s eye, and he finds himself wanting to impress her. But she flatly refuses to flirt with him or to fall for his—if he does say so himself—considerable charm.

Celia’s overwhelming attraction to Truett terrifies her. What will happen when Sheriff Suggs discovers Truett is the Hooded Horseman? Will Celia be able to prevent the sheriff from carrying out one last lynching? Or will her worst fears come true?
You can pre-order it on Amazon! 

Conflict and Tension, Part 4

Melanie Dickerson here. I hope y’all aren’t tired of my posts about Conflict and Tension, but I thought I needed to do one last discussion on HOW to add appropriate Conflict and Tension in your stories.

I have to admit, when I’m plotting, I don’t like making an outline or even filling out a worksheet on my characters or my plot. I have done the worksheet thing, and even created my own Plotting Worksheet, but I find that it doesn’t really help me. I have to work out my plot and characters in my head.

One thing I don't have trouble with is getting my characters to fall in love. The hard part is keeping them apart long enough. But that's a blog post for another time.
Conflict and Tension, Part 4
I also have trouble explaining my process, or even understanding what my process is! Sigh. I’m not methodical. At all. But, having said that, I think talking about certain aspects of your characters can help you figure out ways to create and add to the conflict in your story. 

We’ve already talked a little about the need for conflict. No conflict equals a very boring story. Every story must have conflict and tension or there is no story. But how do you create a conflict that works for your story?

Look at what you already have. I tend to start with a character that I know a few things about, then pick a fairy tale (when I’m writing my fairy tale retellings), and just let my imagination take it wherever seems fun, interesting, and romantic.

When I was coming up with The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest, I remember I was thinking about fairy tales and familiar stories I might want to use as a basis for a story. I decided I wanted to take two stories and mesh them together. I started thinking about Robin Hood versus the person in charge of the forest. That would be instant conflict. What if my Robin Hood was a woman who was killing deer to feed the poor, and the hero was the forester who was in charge of catching poachers? And then I thought of Swan Lake. What if the forester fell in love with the “Swan” character from Swan Lake and [spoiler alert!] ended up shooting her? Just like in the Swan Lake story, the hero is in love with the heroine but doesn’t know her true identity. And then, when she’s in her alternate state—not a swan, but a poacher—he shoots her, then immediately realizes he’s shot the girl he’s in love with! Lots of angst and drama and CONFLICT!

That’s an example of something I learned from Mary Connealy many moons ago on the Seekerville blog, which is: Give the hero and heroine competing goals, or competing occupations.

So if you already know what occupation you want one of your main characters to have, then give their love interest an opposing occupation. An oil driller will fall in love with an environmentalist. A mayor will fall in love with a political protester. An aristocrat will fall in love with a poor governess (Jane Eyre). A duchess will fall in love with her betrothed’s brother (The Fairest Beauty). A margrave who disapproved of his brother falling in love with a servant will himself fall in love with a servant girl disguised as an aristocrat (The Beautiful Pretender).

I could go on and on but you get the picture.

Conflict and Tension, Part 4

Another way of adding conflict is to think about your main characters’ greatest fear and force them to face it. Do you know your main characters’ greatest fears? Do you know their goals? Their motivations? What happened to them when they were children that scarred them and gave them their greatest fears? This is all great stuff to use to create conflict and tension. And it’s not enough to know what their goal is. You have to know WHY that’s their goal, what their motivations are.

Does your character have trust issues? Use that. Do they have issues with rejection and abandonment? You can use that. What is their greatest strength? You can even use that, especially if their strength becomes a weakness by causing them to be prideful about that one thing. Make sure you challenge their strengths and weaknesses. You can use events, circumstances, the villain, or the other main character to do this.

As an example of the characters’ greatest fears causing conflict . . . In A Viscount’s Proposal, the conflict comes from the hero’s disapproval of the heroine, as well as her fear of marrying someone who wouldn’t feel any passion or genuine love for her, since that’s the kind of marriage her parents have. The hero’s stuffiness and arrogance, as well as his disapproval of the heroine, come from his fear of scandal—his father was embroiled in a scandal that got him killed when the hero was just a boy, which also led to his mother’s death. You can imagine their horror when, toward the middle of the story as they get to know each other, they each begin to feel an attraction for the other. Their fears are still there, so there’s lots of inner conflict now. Their trust issues also come into play, creating more tension and conflict.

So, your turn. How do you come up with conflict in your stories? If you’re having trouble coming up with enough conflict in your current WIP, have you mined their worst fears? Their goals and motivations? Their childhood scars and traumatic events? Leave a comment and let’s discuss.

And if you're on Goodreads, I would love it if you would add my Aladdin retelling, The Orphan's Wish, to your Want to Read shelf!

Conflict and Tension, Part 4

Conflict and Tension Part 3, When to Resolve Conflict

Melanie Dickerson here. Have you ever started a story thinking you had this amazing conflict that would keep your readers enthralled until the end of the story, only to realize early on that it’s not feasible to keep this conflict going for the whole story? You don't want the story to get boring. 

I used to panic when this would happen, but I realized something. Rather than dragging out a problem beyond believability, why not just let that conflict be resolved—and add a new conflict?

Conflict and Tension Part 3, When to Resolve Conflict

I try to let my conflicts resolve themselves in a believable amount of time. I don't want the story to drag, and it will if there isn't enough believable conflict. The trick is to make sure there are other conflicts that will take prominence as soon as that other conflict, or problem, is resolved.

For example, in one of my favorite movies, Penelope, starring Christina Ricci and James McAvoy, Penelope’s parents hide their daughter from the public, since she has the nose and ears of a pig, as they search for a society blue-blood to marry her and break the curse. This tension of hiding keeps the viewer wondering what will happen if and when people see Penelope's "disfigured" face. But this is resolved partway through the movie when Penelope runs away from home and her photograph is plastered all over the media. She immediately becomes a media darling, beloved by the public. 

Conflict and Tension Part 3, When to Resolve Conflict

But there is another conflict that takes that one’s place—the bad guy begins dating her and she gets engaged to him. We knows he’s only doing it as a publicity stunt to repair his reputation--and the hero, who's really in love with her, knows that too. This is a huge point of angst for our hero and heroine, both of whom we have grown to love. There are also other conflicts that were started in the beginning that carry over. So even though one of the main sources of conflict is resolved, there are still plenty of unanswered questions and unresolved conflict keeping us engaged in the story.

In my book, The Beautiful Pretender, which is a Princess and the Pea /slash/ Beauty and the Beast mash-up, the heroine is an imposter. She’s not the daughter of an earl, as the hero supposes, but is actually just a maidservant. In my mind the climax would come when [spoiler alert] the hero chooses the heroine from all the other marriageable daughters of dukes and earls and other nobles—and immediately discovers she has been using a false identity. All manner of sparks will fly.

Conflict and Tension Part 3, When to Resolve Conflict

The problem was that about halfway through the story, I realized the plot would soon start to grow boring if I tried to drag out that "climax/black moment" scene until the end. There were only so many scenes I could write about the hero “testing” the young ladies to see who was the most noble, building up to the moment when he would choose a wife. So I did a bit more brainstorming, even getting my editor on the phone to brainstorm with me. I realized I still had a lot of loose ends that would need to be tied up, not to mention more time for the hero and heroine to fall in love and resolve the conflict caused by her deceiving him.

I went ahead and had the big scene almost two-thirds of the way through the story—too early to be a true “climax/black moment” scene, which the reader was already expecting anyway. However, the reader would not expect me to let that scene come with a third of the story left. This is tricky. On the one hand, I surprised my reader. But on the other hand, I couldn't let that last third of the book be boring because all their questions had been answered. So I created lots of danger, which had already been building and was foreshadowed earlier. Also, my hero and heroine had not declared their love for each other, and the obstacles keeping them from marrying were as great as ever.

Conflict and Tension Part 3, When to Resolve Conflict

I allowed my villains to wreak havoc, making the conflict stronger than ever. The heroine was stranded in the woods where wolves were lurking and the hero had to save her. The villain took over the hero’s castle, and he and the heroine spent several hours hiding from him. This led to lots of lovely scenes of danger and angst and longing. It worked well, I think, because that book has the highest ratings of any of my other books on sites like Amazon and Goodreads. I was able to resolve that major conflict—revealing the heroine’s true identity to the hero and everyone else in the story—because there was plenty of other conflicts to deal with, including the fall-out from the revelation.

I seem to have a lot of stories with characters who are using false identities. In The Noble Servant, both the hero and the heroine are hiding their identities, for different reasons. I was not quite sure when I wanted this to be revealed. The question keeping the reader reading was: When will the hero and heroine discover the true identity of the other? I decided to answer that question fairly early, since I didn’t want to drag it on so long that it lost its tension. But there were lots of other questions to take its place. Will the villain discover that the hero is still alive? Will he see him and kill him? Will the hero and heroine find proof of the hero’s identity so he can resume his rightful place? Why does the villain think the heroine has something valuable enough to kill over? And what is that thing? And there are lots of other questions, hopefully not least of which is, Will the hero overcome his fears about falling in love, fall in love with the heroine, and marry her? (Of course, we know he will, since this is a romance, but hopefully the reader desperately WANTS them to fall in love, and wants to see HOW this lovely event will come about.)

Conflict and Tension Part 3, When to Resolve ConflictConflict and Tension Part 3, When to Resolve Conflict
So, it’s time to dish about your own stories, or about the stories you’ve been reading. Are you making sure you’re not dragging your conflicts out too long, afraid of resolving them too soon? Are you making sure you have enough different conflicts so that resolving one of them (perhaps unexpectedly and thus delighting your readers) doesn’t defuse too much of your lovely conflict and tension? And as a reader, do you ever get delighted by a conflict that gets resolved sooner than you thought, only to be replaced by more lovely conflict? Do tell. One lucky commenter will win a copy of your choice of The Beautiful Pretender or The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest.

And I can't help getting excited about The Orphan's Wish, releasing on June 26. Aladdin and Kirstyn . . . sigh. Available for pre-order on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, CBD, and all the others. 
Conflict and Tension Part 3, When to Resolve Conflict
I nearly forgot to mention, The Noble Servant is $1.99 today! Get it while you can! 
Conflict and Tension Part 3, When to Resolve Conflict

Conflict and Tension, Part 2: Be mean to your characters

Conflict and Tension, Part 2: Be mean to your characters 
by Melanie Dickerson

As I spoke about in Conflict and Tension, Part 1, Conflict is one of the most important factors in any novel. We discussed in that first blog post how much and what kind of conflict and tension we need. Now I want to address some of the comments my post received, in which writers said they struggled with being “mean” to their characters, or not wanting to hurt them, as this is something I've struggled with too.

I recently came across my notes from a workshop Davis Bunn taught a few years ago. I don’t know if it was a paraphrase of something Davis Bunn said or a direct quote, but I had written, “Forget your attachment to your characters. Detach.”

We want our readers to feel an attachment to our characters, to feel what they’re feeling, and to empathize with them. But it can be a problem if we as the author are too attached to those characters. I had been taught this (or read it somewhere) early in my writing endeavors, but I’ve needed to be reminded of this recently! More on that later.

Conflict and Tension, Part 2: Be mean to your characters

In my first published novel, The Healer’s Apprentice, I was plotting as I wrote. I reached a point where I thought, “If the heroine gets deathly ill, that could work well for the plot.” But I cringed inwardly. I didn’t want my heroine to get sick.

Wait, WHAT!? This was a no-no and I knew it! I couldn’t let compassion for my character cause me to pull back from a conflict that would make the story better. Basically, it came down to this: Did I want to write a great story? Or did I want an imaginary friend? Seriously. Think about it. Do I want and need to write a great story that keeps readers engaged and sells lots of books? Or do I need an imaginary friend who’s happy with me for protecting them from harm?

It sounds silly, but it’s true. If Rose, my heroine, had been a real person, then I would never want to make her get seriously sick. I’m not sadistic or into being cruel to people. But this was a story, and I could NOT let myself feel sorry for my character, or get too attached to her. I needed to detach from my character for the sake of the story.

And so I let her contract meningitis and get to the point of near-death. And that led to a lovely scene where the hero was able to show off his heroism by finding and saving the heroine, who was stranded in the woods. He was in great anguish over the heroine’s possible death, and it pushed him to declare his love for her as soon as she was recovering. That led the heroine to selflessly refuse his proposal of marriage, in order to save him from the consequences that would ensue if he gave up his rights as the oldest son of a duke to marry a peasant. That's a mouthful, but just know that it produced a great chain of events and lots of lovely angst. And angst is conflict, and conflict is good.

Conflict and Tension, Part 2: Be mean to your characters

I came up against this problem in the last book I wrote, The Orphan’s Wish. I was too attached to my hero, though I wasn’t really aware of it at the time, and it made it so much more difficult to write the story. I knew bad things needed to happen, but it was hard, and I found myself smoothing things over for my hero. I let him get out of his difficulties rather too easily. But through rewrites and editing, I worked hard on fixing this problem, thanks to great editors and a great agent, who read the story and said the words you never want to hear: "This needs more work." 

But it just goes to show, you need to keep reminding yourself of good writing techniques and principles. Or I do, anyway.

Keeping your reader engaged is so important, and conflict and tension are key to this. You have to continually ask yourself, What is keeping my reader turning the pages? The answer is . . . a question. You have to plant questions in your reader’s mind and keep them in suspense. And the question could be, Will the heroine’s—and hero’s—secret identity be discovered by the bad guy? (The Noble Servant) Or, Will the hero realize he’s in love with the heroine before he marries the wealthy land-owning widow? (The Golden Braid) Or, Will the hero find out the heroine is not who she pretends to be? (The Silent Songbird) Or, Will the hero be able to rescue the heroine from the villain before the villain kills him? (The Captive Maiden)

Conflict and Tension, Part 2: Be mean to your characters

The possibilities are endless, and one question won’t necessarily carry you through till the end of the story. You must be prepared to let one question be answered—let that conflict be resolved—if that is what works for the story. But if you do, you MUST HAVE A NEW CONFLICT to take its place, more tension, more reasons why the reader will want to keep turning pages.

And that will be our topic for my next post, Conflict and Tension, Part 3.

So, discussion time. Have you caught yourself holding back because you didn’t want to be “mean” to your characters? Are you being "mean enough" to your characters? Also, what questions are you forcing on your reader so that they will keep turning pages to get that question answered? I will give away a copy of my Little Mermaid retelling, The Silent Songbird, to one commenter.

Conflict and Tension, Part 2: Be mean to your characters
Orphaned and alone, Aladdin travels from the streets of his Arab homeland to a strange, faraway place. Growing up in an orphanage, he meets young Lady Kirstyn, whose father is the powerful Duke of Hagenheim. Despite the difference in their stations, Aladdin quickly becomes Kirstyn’s favorite companion, and their childhood friendship grows into a bond that time and opposition cannot break.
Even as a child, Aladdin works hard, learning all he can from his teachers. Through his integrity, intelligence, and sheer tenacity, he earns a position serving as the duke’s steward. But that isn’t enough to erase the shame of being forced to steal as a small child—or the fact that he’s an orphan with no status. If he ever wants to feel equal to his beautiful and generous friend Kirstyn, he must leave Hagenheim and seek his fortune.
Yet once Aladdin departs, Lady Kirstyn becomes a pawn in a terrible plot. Now, Aladdin and Kirstyn must rely on their bond to save Kirstyn from unexpected danger. But will saving Kirstyn cost Aladdin his newfound status and everything he’s worked so hard to obtain?
An enchanting new version of the well-known fairy tale, The Orphan’s Wish tells a story of courage and loyalty, friendship and love, and reminds us what “family” really means.

(Oh my heart. I'm still attached. LOL!)

Conflict and Tension, Part 2: Be mean to your characters

Melanie Dickerson is the author of fairy tale retellings set in Medieval Europe, as well as a trilogy of Regency romance novels. Her 14th book releases June 26th. When she's not plotting mean things happening to her characters, she's writing, spending time on facebook, reading devotionals (which she has an addiction to), or panicking over a deadline. Oh, and you can frequently find her in Seekerville, blogging and commenting. Visit her Amazon author page, where you can click the "follow" button and get notified whenever she has a new book out.

Conflict and Tension, Part One

Conflict and Tension, Part One
by Melanie Dickerson

It’s my first official post as a Seeker! I’m excited to be here on a regular basis, and I pray that I will be a blessing, as much as Seekerville and its Seekers have been a blessing to me these past ten years.

When I tried to think of something helpful to share with fellow writers, I thought of Conflict and Conflict’s first cousin, Tension. Without these two elements, your novel will be boring. And as any reader knows, boring is the kiss of death.

Conflict and tension are essential across all genres. But conflict and tension are slightly different in different genres. For example, in a thriller, the conflict and tension may be life and death drama—the hero is running for his life. He’s been shot, tortured, his wife murdered, and now he has to stop a killer before he detonates a nuclear bomb and destroys half of North America.
Conflict and Tension, Part One
Crestock Images
In a romantic suspense, you might have the hero and heroine running for their lives. But in a romance you wouldn’t see them get tortured, they wouldn’t be trying to save the world, and you probably wouldn’t have a close relative murdered in front of them.

So how do you keep up the tension and conflict in a romance?

You can give them a conflict of interest. For example, in the movie While You Were Sleeping, Lucy is falling in love with Jack, but Jack’s whole family believes she’s engaged to Jack’s brother Peter, who happens to be in a coma. Lucy is afraid to tell them the truth—she’s never even met Peter and certainly isn’t engaged to him—because she has no family of her own, is really lonely, and Peter’s family has practically adopted her.

So you have Jack suspicious of her, afraid she’s going to hurt his family when they realize she’s a fraud, and he’s trying to prove that Lucy isn’t really engaged to Peter. Yet he’s falling in love with her. But how can they tell each other how they feel? She’s engaged to Peter. So the conflict involves Lucy losing her newfound adopted family if she tells the truth, the tension of keeping this huge secret, and the fact that she’s falling in love with her fake fiance’s brother.

Now, I’m not the best at teaching the craft of writing. In fact, I don’t claim to be a very good writer. (The bad reviews that criticize my writing? I'll be the first person to say they're mostly RIGHT.) But I do think I’m a good storyteller, and when my book is putting me to sleep, I know I don’t have enough conflict. I know I need to identify or strengthen my characters’ motivations and the obstacles that are getting in the way of their goals. (And here you have the three-way interaction of Goal, Motivation, and Conflict, which Debra Dixon talks about in her book GMC: Goal, Motivation and Conflict. Which, if you haven’t read, you need to. Or at least read the posts about GMC in the Seekerville archives.)

In The Golden Braid, my heroine Rapunzel is a poor peasant who has a fear of men, which was instilled in her by her mentally unbalanced mother. The hero Sir Gerek is determined to marry a wealthy woman in order to show up the older brother who cast him out of the house. They don't stand a chance of falling in love. Or do they? When Sir Gerek is forced to teach Rapunzel to read, her biggest goal in life, I use their fears and goals to keep up the conflict and tension, and to keep them from admitting their feelings, as they start to enjoy spending time together. External events also intrude to cause tension and danger.

Personally, I think it’s easier to keep up the tension in a romantic suspense story, or a story that has a lot of action and danger. The scenes where my hero and heroine are running for their lives, bullets (or arrows, in my case) are flying thick and fast, flow from my fingers to the page more quickly. That kind of conflict propels the story forward. After all, a threat to your life is definitely a conflict of interest. But in a romance or women’s fiction, most of the conflict and tension has to be more subtle and complex.

One thing that can be hard to maintain is the tension between the hero and heroine. We know they are going to fall in love and probably get married at the end. They can’t hate each other until the very end and then suddenly decide they’re in love and want to get married. (I've read books like that, and I didn't like them.) But they also can’t fall in love too soon, or if they do, there must be something keeping them apart, keeping the conflict going, and it must be believable.

Conflict and Tension, Part One
Crestock Images

In my first published novel, The Healer’s Apprentice, my hero and heroine pretty much like each other from the very beginning. The tension and conflict comes in because of class issues—he’s the oldest son of a powerful, wealthy duke and she’s a peasant. That could be overcome eventually, but there’s another problem—he’s been betrothed to a duke’s daughter since childhood, betrothal being a bond almost as binding as marriage in that time period. And he is a man ruled by a strong desire to do his duty and always do the right thing. So even though they are in love, there is enough internal conflict to keep them apart until the end. Add in some external conflict, and it’s even more fun.

Conflict and Tension, Part One
Crestock Images

And stories that have lots of conflict are just more fun to write, because it's fun to enhance my story's angst factor. It’s fun to cause problems for my characters and NOT give them what they want too soon. The more real, believable conflict, the more fun I’m having. And the more fun I’m having, the faster my fingers type. 

In my Regency romantic suspense story, A Dangerous Engagement, Felicity is in danger of losing her head--literally. She's just learned that the house party she is attending with her aunt is full of insurrectionists bent on overthrowing the government. The hero is a government spy who has infiltrated the group. He suspects Felicity is an innocent who got caught up in this mess against her will. He discovers that's true pretty early in the story. So that conflict is overcome, but I needed more conflicts, so I had her get engaged to one of the insurrectionists--and immediately regret it. Whenever one point of conflict is overcome, I better have two or three more to replace it. Never let all your conflicts get resolved until the end.

And that’s Part One of my series on Conflict and Tension. It’s such a huge topic, I’d like to talk about it some more in a future post. 

Time to discuss. What conflicts and tensions are your characters dealing with? Is it enough? Is it appropriate for the genre you're writing? And if you’re not a writer, as a reader of romance, what’s your favorite kind of conflict? Characters who hate each other from the beginning but gradually fall in love? Or characters who like each other from the beginning but have to overcome other obstacles to get to their Happily Ever After?

I’ll be giving away your choice of a paperback or Kindle copy of A Dangerous Engagement, my romantic suspense story set in Regency England, to one commenter.

Just as merchant’s daughter Felicity Mayson is spurned once again because of her meager dowry, she receives an unexpected invitation to Lady Blackstone’s country home. Being introduced to the wealthy Oliver Ratley is an admitted delight, as is his rather heedless yet inviting proposal of marriage. Only when another of Lady Blackstone’s handsome guests catches Felicity’s attention does she realize that nothing is what it seems at Doverton Hall.
Government agent Philip McDowell is infiltrating a group of cutthroat revolutionaries led by none other than Lady Blackstone and Ratley. Their devious plot is to overthrow the monarchy, and their unwitting pawn is Felicity. Now Philip needs Felicity’s help in discovering the rebels’ secrets—by asking her to maintain cover as Ratley’s innocent bride-to-be.
Philip is duty bound. Felicity is game. Together they’re risking their lives—and gambling their hearts—to undo a traitorous conspiracy before their dangerous masquerade is exposed.

Melanie Dickerson is the New York Times bestselling author who combines her love for all things Medieval with her love of fairy tales, and her love for Jane Austen with romantic suspense. She is a Christy Award winner, a two-time Maggie Award winner, winner of The National Reader's Choice Award, and the Carol Award in Young Adult fiction. She earned her bachelor's degree in special education from The University of Alabama and has taught children with special needs in Georgia and Tennessee, and English to adults in Germany and Ukraine. Now she spends her time writing stories of love and adventure near Huntsville, Alabama. 
Hidden Identity Stories – What Do I Need to Know?Why I Love Fairy Tale RetellingsPlotting is a Strange AnimalWrite Your FeelingsWrite Confidently, Even if that Scares YouConflict and Tension, Part 4Conflict and Tension Part 3, When to Resolve ConflictConflict and Tension, Part 2: Be mean to your charactersConflict and Tension, Part One

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