Author Voice


Author voice is something many young authors obsess about. In the early days of writing, we search for the “aha moment” of discovering our unique voice. Voice is sometimes even a difficult subject for authors who’ve developed their craft. I’ll raise my hand and admit to being such an author. Although I believed my voice was clear enough for my editors to enjoy my work, I could more easily hear the voices of my co-authors and critique partners, Mechele Armstrong and Maureen Gianinio. They were unique to me and I could describe them in words, unlike my own, which I couldn’t seem to highlight. I wanted to pinpoint my own voice. I needed to be able to describe my voice as easily as I could those of my friends.

 I understood the concept of voice. Voice is everywhere in the entertainment industry with artists, musicians, directors, composers, even guitarists. Ever notice an Ann Geddes photograph? She’s got a brand, a style of her own. What about a Kim Anderson figurine? Do you have a favorite singer you’ll buy or at least recognize on the radio just from the first few strains? What about an actor? Is there an actress whose film you just have to go see? Ever notice movie directors like Alfred Hitchcock, Quentin Tarantino, Tim Burton, and Mel Brooks have a distinct feel to their movies? The placement of cameras, the position of actors, a certain light quality, etc. Who doesn’t recognize the sounds of the late great Jimi Hendrix or Steven Ray Vaughan? What about the drawn-out sultry strum of the fleet-fingered Keith Urban’s guitar playing? That style is their voice, and it’s something that makes them recognizable.

Our voice is something that sets us apart from the next author. Voice is distinctive. Voice is like your personality, or for some (like me), an alter ego personality. Anyone who knows me knows I’m bubbly and easy-going, yet my writing always has a dark quality. Style is a particular way a writer uses words or phrases in their writing. There are certain quirks or traits you take with you no matter what you do. It’s part of your personality, your voice. It’s how people recognize you. Of course, there is another part of voice that will definitely change depending on what is going on at any giving moment in a story. When I write historical romance, my voice becomes formal, while in a contemporary story it will be more laid back. A time or two my voice has been compared to that of Lori Foster and Karen Robards. Voice is something that resonates or doesn’t resonate with a reader.

I’ve heard more than one author say even if you write very different genres or under different pen-names, you carry over your voice throughout your career. So, you’re still “you” and people recognize that. I believe this. My former Ellora’s Cave editor, Nick Conrad, told me time and again that I had one of his very favorite “male” voices. Patti Steel-Perkins stated in a critique that I had a good clear voice. Roberta Brown, my former agent, echoed Patti statement that I’ve a good clear voice. And my Samhain editor, Lindsey McGurk, went a step further by describing my voice as clear, tight and fast-paced. I believe this means readers will find a lot of white space in my stories since I write heavy dialogue. And no matter the genre or theme I’m writing, my muse doesn’t spin a light-hearted romp. Instead, I write a darker atmosphere. I can’t imagine the core of my writing style changing.

The best advice I can give a budding author is to be honest in your writing. Truth is what counts, in character, in plot and everything else. Just write, write and keep writing to develop and tone your voice. Craft can be learned, while our voices just are what they are. There are no shortcuts, no workshops, no easy answers, because your voice is part of you. It’s your attitudes, the way you talk, the way you look at the world. It all comes through in your voice. Eventually, someone will say “I love your voice” and you’ll likely think, “I didn’t know I had one”. Once upon a time I sure didn’t.


Author Voice
© 2011 Melissa Lopez

Navy SEALs: Favorite character 7/8/’16

I know, I know my post says character, but it’s actually about an author’s series. Suzanne Brockmann turned me onto Harlequin category series romance with her Tall, Dark and Dangerous SEAL team series. Until I discovered these I’d preferred meatier single title romances. Once I discovered the first TDD story I had to go back for more. I fell in love with ALL the heroes. These well written quickie (50K) romances are each just different enough that they all feel fresh while still connected as a whole, with totally delicious alpha male heroes and just the right amount of sex, suspense, action, and drama.

#1 Joe Cat from “Prince Joe” was my first SEAL romance ever. This SEAL was just arrogant, combat hardened and rough enough around the edges. Yum! Prince Joe is the 1st from Brockmann’s 11 book Tall, Dark, and Dangerous series. For Brockmann’s Troubleshooters fans, TDD are ‘lighter’ and except for a couple of issues it’s an equally fantastic series. Brockman sure can write a delicious hero. Seriously.

#2 “Forever Blue” is about a murder mystery and a couple with some history. I loved Carter “Blue” McCoy and Lucy, too.

#3 My vote for most tortured SEAL hero goes to Alan “Frisco” Francisco from “Frisco’s Kid.” Disabled SEAL hero, anyone? Frisco has a huge chip on his sculpted shoulders. I had never read a book where the hero’s identity and feelings of self-worth were so closely tied to his career.

#4 Sparks fly when hostage Melody Evans is rescued by a SEAL team member, Harlan “Cowboy” Jones in “Everyday Average Jones. “

#5 Any virgin heroine fans? “Harvard’s Education” I’ll admit, Harvard and P.J.’s story made the top of my “this is how to lose your virginity” list. Wonderful read. Oh, be aware of the themes of racism and sexism in this one.

#6 “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear” (longest title) is about our brooding, stoic hero. Navy SEAL Billy “Crash” Hawken. Oh, this tale is structured quite differently from the others. And by-the-way, this story contains my favorite line from the whole series, “if you’d die for me, why won’t you live for me?”

#7 “The Admiral’s Bride” was a wonderful read. Although I am, I know not everyone’s a fan of the “May to December” romances. However, it was done in a way that made it an exceptionally enjoyable read for me.

#8 OH! Are you a sucker for an amnesia story? “Identity Unknown” is just the SEAL tale for you…

#9 Lieutenant Luke “Lucky” O’Donlon in “Get Lucky” is simply delicious! Lucky’s a gorgeous blond haired, blue eyed, walking-talking Ken doll, (Syd -our heroine- often refers to him as “Navy Ken”). Seriously! He’s a ladies’ man who’s never wanted to settle down before in his life. That is, until he meets Syd Jameson and his world turns-upside-down.

#10 When it comes to protecting the innocent, Navy SEAL Bobby Taylor is your man. And guess what?  In “Taylor’s Temptation” he gets his girl, only she happens to be the sister of his best friend and SEAL partner Wes.

#11 Night Watch is about Wes a real badass, badboy with some seriously bad habits. But you’ll love him as much as his team mates, if not more!

I just loved this fun, sexy and exciting series. It gives us larger than life Navy SEAL heroes, capable of anything. For full length SEALS check out Suzanne’s Troubleshooter series. It’s awesome, too.  12250139_10153111889276502_3028514639853359831_n (1)