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Sunday, September 18, 2011

PLOTTING WITH WOUNDED HEROES


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My heroes are all wounded. Not just emotionally, but physically, as well. Being a hero in a Cheryl Pierson story is like being an expendable member of the landing party on Star Trek. If you had on a red shirt when you beamed down to the planet’s surface, you could pretty well figure you weren’t going to be returning to the Enterprise in one piece, or alive.

In my debut TWRP historical western release, Fire Eyes, U.S. Marshal Kaed Turner is tortured and shot at the hands of the villain, Andrew Fallon, and his gang of cutthroats. A band of Choctaw Indians deposit Kaed on Jessica Monroe’s doorstep with instructions to take care of him. “Do not allow him to die,” the chief tells her.

Can she save him? Or will he meet the same fate that befell her husband, Billy? Although Kaed’s injuries are severe, he recovers under a combination of Jessica’s expert care and his own resolve and inner strength.

The injuries he sustained give him the time he needs to get to know Jessica quickly. Their relationship becomes more intimate in a shorter time span due to the circumstances. Under normal conditions of courtship, the level their relationship skyrockets to in just a few days would take weeks, or months.

Wounding the hero is a way to also show the evil deeds of the villain. We can develop a kinship with the hero as he faces what seem to be insurmountable odds against the villain. How will he overcome those odds? Even if he weren’t injured, it would be hard enough—but now, we feel each setback more keenly than ever. He’s vulnerable in a way he has no control over. How will he deal with it, in the face of this imminent danger?

Enter the heroine. She’ll do what she can to help, but will it be enough to make a difference? This is her chance to show what she’s made of, and further the relationship between them. (If he dies, of course, that can’t happen.)

From this point on, as the hero begins to recover, he also regains his confidence as well as his strength.

It’s almost like “The Six Million Dollar Man”: We can build him stronger…faster…better…

He will recover, but now he has something to lose—the newfound love between him and the heroine. Now, he’s deadlier than ever, and it’s all about protecting the woman he loves.

Or, his injuries may give him a view of life that he hadn’t hoped for before. Maybe the heroine’s care and the ensuing love between them make the hero realize qualities in himself he hadn’t known were there.

In my holiday short story, A Night For Miracles, wounded gunman Nick Dalton arrives on widow Angela Bentley’s doorstep in a snowstorm. Angela is tempted at first to turn him away, until she realizes he’s traveling with three half-frozen youngsters, and he’s bleeding.

As she settles the children into the warmth of her home and begins to treat Nick’s injury, she realizes it’s Christmas Eve—“A Night For Miracles,” Nick says wryly. “I’m ready for mine.”

In this excerpt, the undercurrents between them are strong, but Nick realizes Angela’s fears. She’s almost as afraid of taking in a gunman with a reputation as she is of being alone again.

FROM “A NIGHT FOR MIRACLES”

Angela placed the whiskey-damp cloth against the jagged wound. The man flinched, but held himself hard against the pain. Finally, he opened his eyes. She looked into his sun-bronzed face, his deep blue gaze burning with a startling, compelling intensity as he watched her. He moistened his lips, reminding Angela that she should give him a drink. She laid the cloth in a bowl and turned to pour the water into the cup she’d brought.

He spoke first. “What…what’s your name?”

His voice was raspy with pain, but held an underlying tone of gentleness. As if he were apologizing for putting her to this trouble, she thought. The sound of it comforted her. She didn’t know why, and she didn’t want to think about it. He’d be leaving soon.

“Angela.” She lifted his head and gently pressed the metal cup to his lips. “Angela Bentley.”

He took two deep swallows of the water. “Angel,” he said, as she drew the cup away and set it on the nightstand. “It fits.”

She looked down, unsure of the compliment and suddenly nervous. She walked to the low oak chest to retrieve the bandaging and dishpan. “And you are…”

“Nick Dalton, ma’am.” His eyes slid shut as she whirled to face him. A cynical smile touched his lips. “I see…you’ve heard of me.”

A killer. A gunfighter. A ruthless mercenary. What was he doing with these children? She’d heard of him, all right, bits and pieces, whispers at the back fence. Gossip, mainly. And the stories consisted of such variation there was no telling what was true and what wasn’t.

She’d heard. She just hadn’t expected him to be so handsome. Hadn’t expected to see kindness in his eyes. Hadn’t expected to have him show up on her doorstep carrying a piece of lead in him, and with three children in tow. She forced herself to respond through stiff lips. “Heard of you? Who hasn’t?”

He met her challenging stare. “I mean you no harm.”

She remained silent, and he closed his eyes once more. His hands rested on the edge of the sheet, and Angela noticed the traces of blood on his left thumb and index finger. He’d tried to stem the blood flow from his right side as he rode. “I’m only human, it seems, after all,” he muttered huskily. “Not a legend tonight. Just a man.”

He was too badly injured to be a threat, and somehow, looking into his face, she found herself trusting him despite his fearsome reputation. She kept her expression blank and approached the bed with the dishpan and the bandaging tucked beneath her arm. She fought off the wave of compassion that threatened to engulf her. It was too dangerous. When she spoke, her tone was curt. “A soldier of fortune, from what I hear.”

He gave a faint smile. “Things aren’t always what they seem, Miss Bentley.”

I hope you’ve enjoyed this peek into what makes my heroes ‘tick.’ For more information and excerpts, I semi-maintain two blogs for your reading pleasure.

http://www.cherylpiersonbooks.blogspot.com is my writing tips and news blog, and
http://www.westwindsromance.blogspot.com is my western historical blog. You can visit my website at http://www.cherylpierson.com

TO VIEW ALL MY SHORT STORIES, NOVELS AND ANTHOLOGIES, PLEASE VISIT MY PAGE AT AMAZON.COM: Cheryl's Amazon Author Page:
http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B002JV8GUE



Thanks for reading! Please leave a comment!
Cheryl

18 comments:

Tina Donahue said...

I love wounded heroes. And if the fan mail I receive is any indication, readers also like heroes like this. Makes them seem so real. Great post, Cheryl! :)

Cheryl Pierson said...

Thanks, Tina! I love them, too. In fact, I wrote a short story one time where the hero wasn't wounded. I just couldn't let it pass. I had to go back and make him recovering from rescuing puppies in a fire. LOL
Cheryl

Adele Dubois said...

I also love wounded heroes! The pain and angst makes for great characterizations.

Good post, Cheryl! Best of luck with your releases.

~Adele

Cheryl Pierson said...

Hi Adele,

Thanks so much for popping over and leavinga comment. I'm right there with you about the pain and angst factor. And I love to read books by others that include a wounded hero.

Cheryl

Celia Yeary said...

Cheryl--I totally agree with the description of a "Cheryl Pierson" novel. And that's just the best thing, a good "brand," something we're all looking for but might not quite be able to put into words. What you do, you do best, and someday you will hit it big--I promise.
This must be a popular site, the Sweet and Sexy Divas--this is the second time I've visited here this week--Keep up your good work and write from your heart. Celia

Cheryl Pierson said...

Hi Celia,

Thank you so much for always being so supportive and such a dear friend. And congratulations to you on your wonderful review from TRS for TEXAS TRUE! YOU ROCK, CELIA!

Hugs,
Cheryl

Sarah J. McNeal said...

Lordy Cheryl, your broken heroes also have the marvelous capacity for recovery, too. They would still make love to a woman if they had to crawl over catus with bullet holes in their chests to get their heroines and show her their love.
Your villains are beyond the pale. When one of your heroes comes on board against the formidable foes you put in their path, the reader knows there is a serious hero between the pages.
Great blog, Cheryl.

Cheryl Pierson said...

SARAH!
You always are so encouraging and supportive. Thanks so much for coming by and telling me how much you love both my heroes AND my villains. LOL Yeah, I always have to create a totally evil bastard for a villain that the hero can get the best of, no matter what shape he's in!LOL
Thanks again, Sarah!
Hugs,
Cheryl

Calisa Rhose said...

Tortured or wounded heroes are my fave to read and write. Thanks for the insight and Star Trek analogy. Loved it.

Cheryl Pierson said...

Hi Calisa!

Oooohh, they are my favorites, too. When I find a good book with a wounded hero, I always put it on my keeper shelf. So glad to find another Trekkie, AND a fellow "Okie"! Thanks for coming by and commenting.
Hugs,
Cheryl

Bianca Swan said...

Cheryl, you have great titles! And your cover for Fire Eyes is really intriguing. Thanks for an interesting post.

Nightingale said...

I loved the witty opening paragraph to your post, Cheryl. And thanks for some interesting Sunday reading.

jean hart stewart said...

Great post... reminds me I haven't wounded my hero enough. He's too strong right now, but now I'll take care of that. Thanks.

Cheryl Pierson said...

Hi Bianca,

Thanks so much! I knew the title for FIRE EYES from the very beginning, because when my kids were little, I asked them what they wanted their Indian names to be (we are part Cherokee and Choctaw, but never went through any kind of naming ceremony or anything, and they were wishing we had done that.) Anyhow, my daughter said (she was about 8) "I want to be FIRE EYES." Ohh, I thought. That is a GOOD ONE. She has brown eyes, very dark and very expressive. My son was about 5 and he said, "Mom, I know what I want my name to be, too." I said, "What?" He looks up soooo seriously, and says, "I want to be EAGLE TALON." LOLLOL

Time Plains Drifter was a natural, too, because of the paranormal time travel content. Sweet Danger was a hard one. I felt like it needed to have SOMETHING to do with the fact that they were in a deli, and that they actually met over a sugar ring. One of my friends suggested Sweet Danger, and the editor liked it. Titles usually just give me fits. LOL

Thanks so much for popping over and commenting, Bianca!

Cheryl

Cheryl Pierson said...

Hi Nightingale!

I have been a Trekkie since I was about 11 years old. LOL Loved that skit they did on Saturday Night Live about the guys in the red shirts. It's sooooo true. LOL Glad you came by and enjoyed the blog!
Cheryl

Cheryl Pierson said...

Jean,
Get over there and WOUND that guy! LOL We can't have them totally strong all the way through the story! I'm writing a short story right now, and the hero is getting ready to be wounded. Gotta figure out how it's going to happen for sure, though--I have several good ideas...LOL
Cheryl

Maggie Toussaint said...

Hi Cheryl,

Isn't the phrase "Cheryl Pierson novel" music to your ears? You write the absolute best wounded heros. I get so drawn into your stories I forget to move. I'd forget to breathe if that wasn't automatic.

I'm also a trekkie, though I've never been to any of the conventions. I do have two communicator pens my husband bought me as gifts. I don't think its the stuff that makes you a trekkie. I think it has to do with your imagination plane. Sci-fi really hits me in the sweet spot.

Enjoyed the blog post!

Maggie

Cheryl Pierson said...

Oh, Maggie...thank you so much for those VERY kind words. That means so much! I'm so glad to know how much you enjoy my writing.

I'm so with you on STAR TREK! I have not ever been to a convention, either. But wouldn't that be AWESOME? There's a lady in my writing class who used to go to them all the time,and has the uniform and everything. One day she wore her ST pin to class. VERY FUN. I used to be soooo in love with James T. Kirk. WHOO HOOOOOOO!!!!

Thanks for coming by and commenting, I know you are really busy right now!
Hugs,
Cheryl