Is Your Dinosaur Needy or Aloof?

Is Your Dinosaur Needy or Aloof?

Is Your Dinosaur Needy or Aloof?

crocodile face - to represent dinosaur

What, you must be thinking, can this blog post possibly be about? Is your dinosaur what? Well… it’s not about dinosaurs. Though apparently there are some romance novels in existence where they play a key role. Not any written or read by me, though. However, it is about relationships, with whomever… or whatever… you choose.

 

I came across this article in Verily online magazine called Being Needy Gets a Bad Rap in Romance: What’s Really Going On? Perhaps you’ve seen some of this psychology before. I know I have, though it’s nicely summarized in this article, for quick digestion. (Read it here.)

 

Believable Characters Have a Past

It reminded me how much writers need to understand human psychology in order to create fully fleshed out and believable characters on the page. There are many sources that writers use to do this, beyond personal experience, and many different systems to sort and categorize personality types. These include the Myers-Briggs test and its derivatives, the Enneagram, Master Characters and Jungian Archetypes. Some of these books have been written specifically with writers in mind.

 

What struck me in particular about attachment style as an attribute of personality is how important it is for writers of Romance, or any story that focuses on relationships. Certainly all of Women’s Fiction would be included, but any writer who wants to enrich her story with true-to-life human interactions would be wise to consider this.

 

man embracing woman who looks out at camera (detached?)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Secure, Avoidant or Anxious Attachment Style?

In brief, the three attachment styles, imprinted early in life, are Secure, Avoidant and Anxious. My imagination is already filling in with the characters that populate my novels, both written and still to meet the page. Since attachment style derives from early childhood, and the relationship one had with one’s parents or caregivers, naturally there is a strong connection with backstory and family of origin stories.

 

These play an important role in many of the stories I (and other writers) imagine, as wounds from the past often influence or determine how we go through life (our Identity, in Michael Hague’s terminology), and what our hopes and attitudes are towards mating and family life. More importantly, they influence behaviour and communication, things that show up concretely on the story page. Understanding where your character sits on this continuum (and I do believe it’s more of a continuum than a tidy list of three neat categories) is critical.

 

When involved in a new romantic relationship, what happens when your emotions begin to be engaged? When you suddenly realize you need this other person in your life? Whether you realize it or not, you’re falling in love. Some may leap in and hang on tightly— Perhaps too tightly, suffocating the other or creeping them out by being needy. Others may panic and put up barriers, artificially create conflict to avoid uncomfortable intimacy, or… run for the hills. It’s a rare healthy and balanced person (IMO) who is fully secure in their attachment style. And if everyone were, well, where would be the fun in that?

Good fiction depends on conflict and troubles and angst

man with bouquet of flowers, romantic intentions

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Good fiction depends on conflict and troubles and angst. A smoothly running relationship does not make for a good romance. As every reader of romance knows, there must be barriers to the HEA or there is no story!

 

Those who aren’t familiar with, or shy away from, the genre perhaps think the “formula” makes for boring or predictable reading. On the contrary, it’s not the fact that boy and girl (or boy and boy, or girl and dinosaur) meet, fall in love, and live happily-ever-after that’s the point. It’s HOW it unfolds. It’s what the obstacles (internal and external) are and how they are overcome, and how the characters must grow and change in order to reach that ideal resolution. And those obstacles are infinitely variable. These relationship issues, of course, apply equally in non-romantic relationships, between parents and children, between siblings or friends, and are equally influenced by attachment style.

 

In my own fiction, the obstacles are rarely external, though there may be life events, or external goals, that propel the plot forward. More importantly for me is what motivates my characters to seek out or avoid relationship and intimacy.

 

Though I could talk about this all day, I’ll end with an example from my Work in Progress. Perhaps you’ve already sampled a few chapters. If not, sign up for my email list and they are yours.

 

I Love You… Don’t Leave Me

In the book, called Coming About (although the title is currently up for debate,) my hero, Bruce, has serious abandonment issues. He’s the youngest of four sons. His father is a cold, bullying, macho man’s-man who raised his sons in his own image. Bruce has three much-older brothers as proof, scars and all. Bruce, being the baby of the family, was the apple of his mother’s eye, and his intimacy with her shielded him from identifying with and emulating his testosterone-fuelled father and brothers.

 

Until she left.

Man standing alone on a dock, in silhouette

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An event he never recovered from, and one that created in him a deep-seated anxiety about intimacy and real relationships. Perhaps he’s unlovable and unworthy of devotion. How can he trust anyone with his heart when, clearly, they are going to up and leave without warning? That hurts too damn much. And so, he’s lived his life on the surface, bouncing from one-night-stand to one-night-stand, never giving anyone the chance to get close.

 

Do You Still Love Me? Yes… But Dude, Give Me Some Space!

One aspect of the anxious attachment style that I had overlooked, however, is the constant need for reassurance once the heart is engaged. This is a valuable detail that can help me flesh out my character by giving him internal emotional angst about what the reciprocal feelings or intentions of his love interest might be (that’d be the fiercely independent Alexa, of course.) Her attachment style is on the secure-to-avoidant continuum because she believes marriage and family conflict with her passionate commitment to her career. So she’s decided to do without, despite inner yearnings.

 

Woman in white dress floating on her back in water

You can see where this is going, and how understanding attachment style provides fodder for conflict. As my hero and heroine get intimate and fall in love, the way one (Bruce) behaves is interpreted in a negative way by the other (Alexa) creating conflict between them. At the beginning, he avoids intimacy while she seeks to connect. Then the closer he wants to get, because things are getting serious, the more she pushes him away. This push-and-pull dance propels their relationship toward its climactic resolution. It’s beautiful… storytelling, that is.

 

What have your personal experiences been with mismatched attachment styles in your own relationships? Do you recognize yourself or your loved ones in the pages of novels? Leave a comment below and let me know. Thanks for reading!

 


 

GIVEAWAYS GALORE

I’ve got THREE giveaways going on right now, all for my book Reconcilable Differences. The first is with LibraryThing, for 100 digital copies. Request one by scrolling down and clicking the yellow button– and then leave a review, please.

The second is for 10 signed print copies with Goodreads. If you haven’t got a copy yet, enter and maybe you’ll win. Here’s the link. For the third awesome giveaway, see the box below. It started Monday and ends October 3rd. You won’t want to miss out.

Life Change and Personal Growth in the Face of Adversity –
Women’s Fiction at its Best

I’m one of several authors doing an Instafreebie Group Giveaway for up to 58 Women’s Fiction titles you can download for free just by clicking… and you choose which ones you’re interested in. So easy! Click here.

VOTE FOR ME PLEASE

Also, The Art of Enchantment is nominated for the 2017 Readers’ Choice Awards. Will you do me a huge favour? I hope you’ll consider voting for The Art of Enchantment here. Scroll through to Romance. Fingers crossed! Thank you so much.

GRAB A COPY – LEAVE A REVIEW

You can buy either book if you haven’t yet. Go to my Home Page or the RD Store for convenient links to Amazon, Indigo and elsewhere. Don’t forget to leave a review when you’re done. Thanks!

The Art of Enchantment: FREE Sept 1-3 on Amazon

The Art of Enchantment: FREE Sept 1-3 on Amazon

The Art of Enchantment book cover
Below see my latest Book Bubble on Bublish to read another tempting sample from this Chatelaine Grand Prize winning, Reader’s Favorite Five Star, Romantic Women’s Fiction novel. Or click the link above to see my author profile and read all my book bubbles. Then browse other authors and read theirs too!

 

My Romance Writers of America Women’s Fiction Author Interview

My Interview with the Romance Writers of America Women’s Fiction Chapter

Last week my featured author interview with the Women’s Fiction Chapter of the Romance Writers of America came out. Find out: what I like to read while I’m writing, and when I’m not, recurrent themes in my writing, what I’d advise an author who’s just completed their first manuscript, and how I feel about plotting (hint: passionately!). Click to read the full interview!

Read the interview here.

M A Clarke Scott, author interview, romance writers, women's fiction

My recent visit to the Princess Diana fountain in London.

Coming soon: Highlights of my fabulous trip to Europe this summer. With photos!

Abandoning My Babies

Heading off on summer vacation feels strangely akin to abandoning my babies

woman embracing book

I’m referring to my books, of course.

Strange as that might seem, they’ve been with me so long, they do feel like my children. And since I’ve so recently launched them into the world, I feel a pretty constant anxiety about their welfare. Even though, like our young adults gone off to college or world travel, there’s little we can do for them.

University Tours

Ironically, the other activity that’s characterized my early summer is touring a number of universities, both close to home and across the country, with my teenage son. My real empty nest looms on the horizon.

Though a full year away, the fact that he’ll be leaving home so soon is quite daunting. And like my books, I want to do as much to smooth his path and make sure he’s safe as humanly possible. I want him to succeed!

 

A Well Deserved Break

Of course after a very busy winter of editing, publishing, promoting and moving house, a few weeks of travelling, visiting friends and R & R is well-deserved. I don’t really feel guilty about it.

In fact, planning the trip, designing the perfect capsule wardrobe so I can go three weeks with one small carry on bag (Incredible. I know, right? But I’m doing it) and anticipating all the museums, galleries, sidewalk cafes, gardens and monuments we’ll see is rather exciting. I’m really looking forward to spending time with friends we haven’t seen for years.

A Writer’s Research Never Ends

I’m also excited about researching new locations for future books since travel abroad has always fueled my writerly imagination. I won’t be going to Spain or Greece this year. But I’m sure London, Paris, Amsterdam and Rotterdam will supply plenty of inspiration. I have a notion I might want to set one of my future “Life is a Journey” novels in Utrecht or Amsterdam. My mind is already playing with the idea of a student of Art Restoration, and Holland seems a perfect place for such an endeavor. All those Vermeers, Rembrandts and van Gogh’s! So I’ll be on the lookout for locations, and the seed of a story. All I need now is a nice tall Dutch romantic hero to set things in motion.

fantasy picture of book with woman and birds flying

It’s Hard to Let Go

Nevertheless, after birthing and nurturing my books over many years, I guess the constant worry and vigilance gets a bit addictive. I think, probably this is the source of empty nest syndrome. We’ve been preoccupied for so long we just don’t know what to do with ourselves. We don’t know who we are anymore without the child, or the project, we’ve been dedicated to for so long.

Frankly, it’ll be nice to stop worrying for a while. I have the sense that I’m already doing everything I can. Like an anxious parent, I read books and study (i.e. blogs and webinars) about how to best care for my fledgling offspring. I swear, I’m doing it all. I’ve checked the list. And, like parenting, we very often hear conflicting advice. Each new strategy or tactic is something we’re trying for the first time. We have no expertise, and no real idea if what we’re doing will work. Maybe we’re doing our babies more harm than good.

But there’s only so much you can do. Sometimes the true test of survival comes only with the passage of time.

Of course, as a modern author in the digital publishing world, that’s only partly true. Our books, our community and our careers truly do need our constant cultivation. There are just too many books out there to leave our books on there own. They’re likely to get lost forever.

In truth, the analogy to growth and maturation probably applies more to “me” the authorpreneur than to my books, per se. I need time and tons of support to “grow up.” I need to learn new tricks and practice and stretch continuously in order to take my career as a published author to the next level.

I need to continue to hone my craft, write and publish more books, continue to nurture my author platform, study, apply and even innovate book marketing strategies. And over time, just like adults, we get a little more polished, a bit more confident, and closer to achieving our goals and dreams.

And toward that end (because it’s a lifelong road) I guess it won’t hurt to take a few weeks off.

 

Bon Voyage!

So have a great summer. I’ll be back in August with more stories to tell. Make sure to sign up for my email list (form in top right sidebar) to get your free copies of bonus summer reading, including short stories, deleted scenes and a sneak preview of Coming About. Follow me on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter if you want to see photos and videos of my travels, because that’s where I’ll be (buttons also in sidebar.)

I’m also running a big promotion of The Art of Enchantment over the Labour Day weekend, so keep an eye out if you want to grab a copy for FREE. I’m still hopeful book two in the Having it All series will be ready to release by then.

And if you have any great ideas about my handsome Dutch hero, or some fun ideas about a story set in the Netherlands, please leave a comment or suggestion below!

Author Book Signing at Indigo Marine Drive – Today!

Poster regarding North Shore Authors signing books at Chapters Indigo Marine Drive in North Vancouver, BC, Canada, Including M A Clarke Scott, Alexander Boldizar, Lawrence Verigin, Jackie Bateman, 1pm . PST, prize draw free books & gift card

Meet North Shore Authors Today!

Four award-winning North Shore authors, including  Jackie Bateman, Lawrence Verigin and Alexander and myself, will be at Chapters Indigo on Marine Drive in North Vancouver today, Saturday, June 10th from 1pm to 5pm.

On the North Shore, or just looking for something to do with friends or family this weekend? Drop in and meet the authors. Better yet, if you’re an avid reader or already a fan, this is a great opportunity to buy books. Get them signed by the authors, and enter a draw! Support your local talent.

Lawrence Verigin, author of Dark Seed, winner of the 2014 Chanticleer CLUE Thriller Award, the 2015 Eric Hoffer Award, and more, as well as the sequel Seeds of Control, 2016 Chanticleer CLUE Thriller Award for Eco/Natural Resources.

Jackie Bateman, National Book Winner in Canada for first book Nondescript Rambuncious, and it’s sequel Savour, shortlisted for the 2015 Relit Awards,

Alexander Boldizar, author of The Ugly, 2015 Chanticleer BEST BOOK Award, the SOMERSET Prize for Literary Fiction, 2016 Indie Lit finalist in both Literary and Humour, NGIBA winner (and more).

M A Clarke Scott (that’s me!), author of The Art of Enchantment, Grand Prize winner of the Chanticleer CHATELAINE Prize for Romance and Women’s Fiction, and Reconcilable Differences, Book 1 in the Having it All series.

Don’t miss out on this great opportunity to chat with local authors one-on-one, ask them questions about their books. What inspires them? What are they working on right now? And what does that bizarre, drawn out metaphor really mean?! Or just share the love.

Visitors can pick up a “Reading Passport” when they arrive. Make sure you stop to meet all four authors. Get them to autograph your passport, then enter to win one book from each author plus a $40 Indigo gift card.

See you there!

The Art of Enchantment receives 5 star Readers’ Favourite Book Review

The Art of Enchantment receives 5 star Readers’ Favourite Book Review

Readers' Favourite Five Star review sticker for The Art of Enchantment by M A Clarke Scott

5 Star Readers’ Favourite Review for The Art of Enchantment

“Awesome characters…. A masterpiece, this is!

Loved it, loved it.”

Reviewed By Christian Sia for Readers’ Favorite

“Excitement, pure delight, and an emotional adventure await the reader in this thrilling contemporary romance, The Art of Enchantment by MA Clarke Scott. Clio wants only one thing: to complete her PhD program, hence fulfilling one of her father’s greatest wishes for her. But then Guillermo, the hot and charming Italian architect, happens. Two powerful souls with a great and refined appreciation for beauty and art and history! They are from two different backgrounds, irrevocably drawn towards each other. Things get even more complicated when Guillermo’s ancestral home risks being sold to an American pop star who may not value the historic significance of such an investment. Can Clio pursue the exciting romance, help Guillermo save his home, and still succeed in getting her PhD?

The Art of Enchantment is exciting and I enjoyed the themes of art, romance, history, and family and how they are masterfully written into the engaging plot. Clio and Guillermo are interesting characters. While Clio is shy and composed, Guillermo is boisterous and outgoing, two opposite personalities that perfectly complement each other. The prose is equally exciting, composed of descriptions that are absorbing, and great dialogues that read like natural conversations. It is wonderful to note how the characters evolve throughout the story. The external conflict is evidently developed throughout the story, but the one that arrested my attention was the internal one taking place within the minds of the characters. It was fun watching Clio faced with multiple dilemmas. MA Clarke Scott has become my new master of the romance. Can’t recommend this one enough.”