Fiction Writing and Other Oddities

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Making Someone Love You

The reality is that you can't make someone love you…or can you?

I'm not a psychiatrist, psychologist, sociologist or anything like that. I'm a writer and I'm interested in portraying how people interact. How they fall in love. How a bad guy can manipulate others. Because let's face it, some people seem to be masters of persuasion. You know they are terrible people, but you can't help yourself.

There are a lot of articles about how criminals can essentially brainwash an individual, break them down and make them do what they want, but really…most criminals probably don't do that. They've probably discovered easier ways to get someone to love them. Once you have love, you have the person. You have a measure of control.

Sociopaths and con men do it all the time because they are masters of manipulation. They learn very early several lessons that the rest of us just don't think about. Subconsciously, those of us on leaning toward the more "normal" end of the spectrum may also do it, although perhaps not consciously and deliberately the way a con man might.

So, how do you make someone love you?


I'm writing this for writers, to help them portray attraction (and control) in their fiction. So…take that under advisement.

If your character (or you) is physically repulsive to the target, then this is probably not going to help much. Although…often time itself can be on the character's side. Over time, ugliness can sort of disappear in the eye of the beholder.

So, I'm assuming that the two people (characters) involved are not repulsed by each other. It is even easier if they are physically attracted to one another, meaning: pheromones are good; not physically repulsive; may have one or two physical traits that are a "turn on" for that particular person, e.g. be it good legs, a certain smile, or whatever.

We want an even playing field, in other words. Although, under certain circumstances, if you do this right, even someone who you would never be attracted to in a million years can become attractive if…

Basic, Underlying Theory

Everyone has one or more (usually many) triggers. Just like you can have a hot button that instantly provokes your anger, there are similar triggers that can give you that feeling that the other person loves you (or cares for you). And once you feel the love, all things being equal (see assumptions) it is very, very difficult to resist falling in love. If a person seems to love you and "sees you for what you are," you will feel an inexplicable closeness to them and are one step away from being in love. It's easy enough, then, to just go ahead and fall in love.

If you want to make someone love you, all you have to do is identify the triggers. And then pull them.

Because triggers work in wonderful ways in the human subconscious. If someone is pulling a trigger, the recipient believes s/he understands him and sees him for what he is. And loves him. (I'm going to drop the s/he stuff and just use "he." It's easier.)

Because our triggers develop when we are infants and we associate the trigger with the kind of unconditional love we get from a parent. If the child gets no love, then he will still develop triggers, but they will probably be developed later in childhood and based upon other relationships or activities.

What if someone isn't pulling my triggers? If you are in a relationship and your significant other doesn't seem to understand you. Or you just have this sadness/hollowness feeling that something is missing. Or you love your significant other—you really do—but this other person just really attracts you…

It is because of triggers.

In the case of:

  • You are in a relationship and your significant other doesn't seem to understand you. Or you just have this sadness/hollowness feeling that something is missing.
    • It is because your significant other is not pulling your triggers.
  • You love your significant other—you really do—but this other person just really attracts you…
    • Your significant other is not pulling your triggers
    • The other person is pulling one or more of your triggers

What are Triggers?

Whatever triggers that warm, fuzzy feeling for you. They can be almost anything. A gesture, a phrase, an action taken (or not taken), an object, a fragrance, food, clothing, basically anything or any action. They are the "hot button" for affection and love.

There is no such thing as a list of triggers. Triggers are unique to the individual. The only thing I can guarantee is that if you listen or watch someone long enough, you will discover their trigger(s). If you then wish to show your sociopathic side and use this information for evil, well, you're probably already doing so and don't need to read about it here.

With all triggers, if you have to ask about it, the trigger loses about 90% of its effectiveness because you've brought it to the level of awareness.

A few examples of triggers include:

  • A wink
  • A slight grin and shaking the head conspiratorially while someone else is speaking (because you both know that other person is a nutjob)
  • Liking the same thing (book, movie, song, food, whatever)
  • Making someone his perfect breakfast in the morning—when you apparently had no way of knowing what that was. (Not your perfect breakfast, his.)
  • Siding with them in an argument—sticking up for him
  • Insulting them (but in a good way—like, you idiot, said in that warm, playful tone)
  • Ironing his shirt with real starch
  • The scent of real, homemade apple pie baking
  • Cleaning
  • Grabbing the back of her neck as you're walking along (loosely—we're not talking strangulation here)
  • Giving her a rose for no particular reason (note that for some people, gifts can be a negative trigger—and seen as an attempt to buy affection—so you do need to be a little careful)

Universal Trigger

Down to business. There is one, universal trigger. Women have used it for ages with men. Perverts are using it on the Internet to scam others—particularly young teens.


That's right. That's all it is. Listening to the other person. Keeping your mouth shut and actually hearing what the other person is saying. Because you know what? Among all the detritus, the other person is probably going to tell you what their triggers are. And you can tell when they do because when the other person talks about it, whether it is something their mother did, or a particular object, or a song, or a movie, whatever it may be, their face will be suffused with joy. He'll get all sappy looking. He'll sort of grin sheepishly. You can hear it in his voice. It's one of his best memories. He'll stop and stare at someone doing it (a young mother giving her child an apple—whatever) and get all kind of weird and soft looking. Take note of this—he's revealing a trigger.

And by the way, listening, itself, is a trigger for almost everyone.

The one thing most people want and never get enough of is an audience. Someone to talk to. More specifically, someone to listen when they talk.

It's what all the blogging is about, really.

A Specific Trigger

Recently, there was a show about ghosts and ordinary people who thought they had seen something supernatural. I wasn't so much interested, but it got my attention when one of the men started talking. Because right there, on television, in front of the whole, wide world, he revealed one of his triggers. I doubt he realized it.

He was talking about his mother—he thought he had seen her ghost. He remembered that the house was always spotless, and he never saw her without a rag in her hand. (This ghost looked like it had a rag in her hand—whatever.)

Right after he said that, I could tell you these things about that man:

  • He views a clean house as evidence of love.
  • If he's dating a woman and she comes over and helps him clean his house, or she cleans his house, he will almost certainly view this as evidence that she loves him. He will be well on the way to loving her.
  • If his significant other keeps the house spotless, he'll feel cherished and loved. If he sees that significant other with a rag in her hand, he will get a rush of warmth.
  • If his significant other is a slob, he'll always have a part of him that wonders if she really loves him.
  • If his significant other is a slob and they hire a housekeeper, watch out. Chances are very good he will either fall in love with the housekeeper, or have an affair with her. He's always going to be a little attracted to anyone who will clean up after him.
  • He may deliberately leave things lying about or create messes, just to test if his significant other really does love him. Obviously, if she does, she will clean up after him with an indulgent smile on her face. (And it should also be clear that he probably won't even realize he is setting this test up.) If she objects, he'll always feel a little resentful, hurt and uncertain if she really loves him. He may even stop making messes, but the act of cleaning up after himself will always make him feel isolated and alone. He may eventually fell punished every time he does it. (I know I do.)
    • Scenario: This guy (from the above paragraph) has finally learned to pick up after himself after his wife has worked on him for a while. He's out in the park, eating. When he's done, he balls up his brown paper bag and puts it on the bench next to him, intending to throw it away in a minute. The wind blows it off the bench. A woman about his age bends down, picks it up and puts it in the trash. She smiles at him.
    • Trigger. He's going to feel an amazing rush of warmth for her. He'll think: she's not gorgeous and little old (after all, she's his age) but she's got a really nice smile. He'll want to talk to her. Ask her to lunch. He may get up the nerve to do so.
    • At lunch he'll think: she's got nice eyes, too. I like her. He's nervous and spills his coke.
    • She wipes up the spill and cleans up his jacket.
    • He's in love. Okay, maybe not completely in love, but he's going to have a hard time walking away because of that hole in his gut that doesn't get filled when he's at home.

So that how this trigger thing works. That probably won't be his only trigger, but from the expression on that guy's face when he talked about it, and the tone of his voice, it's a major one.

By the way, if you're dating someone, it's worthwhile to see if being around them makes you glow (they are pulling your triggers) or if you always have a sort of hollow space that is not getting filled. If you have any hollows, be warned. It is doubtful they will be filled and divorce is probably in your future. And if all your hollows are being filled but you suspect your "loved one" is a sociopathic mass murderer, then consider that he may be quite deliberately manipulating you. He may have identified your triggers from your babble and is very deliberately pulling them when they need to be pulled. Sorry. Bummer.

Triggers can be as simple as a bowl of hominy at night and someone reading to you. It can be as simple as someone calling you "Butch" (one of my triggers—from the days when that didn't mean what it means now—my family used to call me that occasionally as a nickname—and it still gives me warm fuzzies. Although I doubt I would react well, now, if someone used it. Simply because of the connotations. And no, I wasn't masculine nor in any way, masculine looking—in fact, others called me Teeny because I was somewhat delicate…okay, enough.).

Interestingly, a lot of high-powered working women have triggers like their significant other making the decision of what to have for dinner. Because she's freaking tired of making decisions all day long and she'd like someone else to drive for a change. Even better, to have her significant other do something without being asked, simply because it needed to be done.

See? Triggers can be almost anything. A gesture, a nickname, an action…anything that resonates subconsciously with you and brings back that warm feeling that you are cherished and loved. Once you feel cherished and loved, it is but a short step to being in love.

That's it for tonight.

Rather rambling, I know. I just hope it inspires other writers and makes them think about how their characters interact and respond to one another.

I may eventually clean this up and post it as an article on my website—but I'm not making any promises. J

Good Night!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

January is nearly over…

I got my galley for I Bid One American back this evening and I've been working on that, trying to spot any errors. I'm sure some will slip through—my mind is excellent at supplying what should be there and ignoring what is there. But, I have found two more errors and I've got to get back to it, so this blog will be short.

For those of you following the adventures of the poor, abandoned cat I found in a derelict barn near us…well…I've been feeding it and playing with it and letting it sit in my lap. You can see from the picture that this barn is not the best environment for it, so I'm considering how to introduce it to a new home. Actually, I guess I'm getting ready to adopt it, even though we really don't need another cat. And I'm not sure how our current cat, Psycho, is going to feel about this. Or our dog, Honey. She loathes cats and will barely tolerate Psycho. Our lab, Rowdy, on the other hand is fine with everything. The more, the merrier. I also haven't broken the news, yet, to my husband, although I suspect that he suspects, since he knows I've been feeding and playing with the darn thing.

Don't know what I'm going to name it. I'm lousy with names. I've always been very fond of names like: dog 1, dog 2, cat 1 and cat 2. Or big dog, little dog. Orange cat, Tortie cat (the barn cat is a tortoise-shell cat with white paws and a white chest). My husband named Psycho. I named Honey because she's honey colored. We named our lab Rowdy because we expected him to be rowdy, considering our experiences with other labs, but he never really lived up to that, being more of a I'm-going-to-sleep-now kind of dog. I guess being 120+ pounds took the spunk right out of him. He's really laid back.

Anyway, so I'm trying to think of a name. I thought of Annie (as in "little orphan") but when I called the cat that, it didn't much care for the name. It likes words that start with "c". It loves the word "come" so other than just plain "Cat"… Sigh. I know. And the cat isn't nutty enough to be called Crazy (which would go so nicely with Psycho).

If anyone has any good cat names for a sweet (slightly nervous) cat, I'm all ears.

And finally, I've been considering an article on how to make people love you. It's really for writers and character development, but it sort of works with living, breathing humans, too, if you don't mind being a complete sociopath who manipulates the heck out of everyone. I've been sort of putting off writing the article because I'm actually a little paranoid that it might actually be used for evil instead of just good writing. J But what the hey. It's not like the sociopaths out there haven't already probably figured this out. That's why they are so effective at manipulating others and making them fall in love with them, and us nearly-normal folks aren't.

But it has to do with triggers—not the kind found on guns.

And here's a hint: if you actually listen to your significant other, s/he will eventually reveal one or more triggers. And all you have to do is pull that trigger and s/he will be yours. Unfortunately, you do have to listen to her (or him). Sorry.

Strangely enough, the act of listening itself can also be a huge trigger.

Anyway, I may eventually write the silly article as part of my other articles on developing characters and characterization. Or not if I get too engrossed in writing my next book. :0-)

Have a great evening and huge success in the coming months!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Edit, Edit, Edit

I'm about two-thirds of the way through editing The Bricklayer's Helper and having a ball with the manuscript. That is definitely one of the great things about being a writer. Each new story is a fabulous opportunity to try something different and shine. When I'm writing, I feel like a kid making stuff up and rubbing her hands with glee at each twisted turn. What other job lets you make stuff up for a living? (Okay, maybe ad execs also get to lie for a living. And actors. And…)

For years I wanted to be a writer and I even wrote a few things, but I felt sort of intimidated by the whole "writer mystique". And I thought I could never come up with story after story after story. But for my entire life, I've always made up little stories and scenarios in my head. I thought everyone did that, in fact. It never bothered me if we had an hour commute or a three day car trip because that just meant more time when I could dream stuff up and not get in trouble for doing nothing except stare at the scenery.

Strange how the mind works. Or doesn't work. It never occurred to me that my fear that I could not "come up with a storyline" was completely silly. What the heck had I been doing all along but coming up with strange little scenarios and stories? Then I had that epiphany when I realized that I was already creating plots, I just needed to actually write them down.

It was a little difficult at first. It's still difficult. Writing is hard work even if you do it mostly sitting down. The characters get wayward and don't want to cooperate. You build a plot only to realize that your characters and your scenes don't mesh. The heroine would never, ever do that. Stuff like that. But the more you work at it and master the basics, the better you become at creating real people and plots that work for those people. It never gets easier, but it doesn't feel so much like rusty gears trying to turn without oil. And you learn ways to cope with the dead ends and irrational characters.

Tonight, I'm fumbling around blogging instead of getting back to my edits. Mostly because I'm lurching into that nasty final third where you have to bring your characters' to their ultimate moment of painful truth and then somehow get them out of the mess they are in and tie up all the loose ends. And I was distracted by the discovery of a little tortoise-shell cat someone abandoned in a derelict barn near us. I fed the poor thing and was sort of shocked when it ran up to me, rubbed my legs and wanted me to pet it. Cats are supposed to be aloof. The darn thing wasn't even really afraid of our huge, 120lb lab until he started to sniff at it. That's what makes me think it was abandoned, because it sure isn't wild. I'm not such a nut that I think all animals will automatically fall in love with me if I pour a little kibble on the ground.

Anyway, we've already got a cat that showed up one day—also not afraid of the dogs. He's pretty much insane so we called him Psycho. Despite encouraging him to leave, he moved in. The nutjob thinks water is a toy and comes running whenever you turn on a faucet or flush a toilet. If you aren't careful, he'll climb into the sink and try to bite the stream of water. I guess it offends him. And he thinks nothing of having a stream of icy liquid flowing over his head and face as he tries to bite and smack it. Tries to bite and play with the dogs' tails, too, and they aren't all that fond of cats. Like I said: Psycho. Sometimes it's like living in a demilitarized zone around here with the dogs eyeing the cat and just begging for a few, quiet minutes alone with him…

I don't think my husband is up for another cat, although I caught him feeding a stray a couple of weeks ago. Don't think Psycho or the dogs will appreciate a new pal either, so it's a big of a quandary. Guess we will see what happens. Maybe I'll get pictures of the new beast tomorrow and post them.

[You can see I'm still wasting time here instead of editing.]

I've really got to stop fooling around and get back to work.

Have a grand and glorious evening…


Tuesday, January 08, 2008

2008 Starts on a High Note

Today my editor at The Wild Rose Press sent me the final edits for my new book, I Bid One American. I'm hoping to get through the manuscript this week and get it back to her, which means they will soon fit it into their publication schedule and give me a release date. I am so incredibly excited about this.

I Bid One American is a romantic mystery set in the Regency period, set in London around 1818. I had such fun writing this story and I was privileged to sign with a wonderful agent on the strength of this manuscript. I literally can't wait until I have a release date. But I'm trying to control my excitement and do due diligence to the editing—I don't want to rush through at this point and botch the job.

One of the things that has stuck in my mind at this point is what I owe my readers. Jen Crusie and Bob Mayer recently went through an entire year of knowledge-transfer to help other writers learn the craft. And one of the points they made during their concluding remarks was how much writers owe their readers. After all, if someone spends money on your work, and then devotes several hours to reading it, you should give them the best product possible. I totally agree with this and don't want to mess up the story now.

Of course it seems virtually impossible to eradicate all errors. No matter how many times I read something, the next time through, I inevitably find something wrong. And that's true of other writer's published material—I'm not sure I've ever read anything that didn't have an error or two. But we do our best and hope the readers will forgive us.

So, hopefully, within a month or two, I will have a release date—and even more incredible, my book will be available in the Amazon Kindle store for all those gadget-lovers who have gone out and bought the latest in e-book readers. This is so exciting! I'm dying to get my hands on a Kindle. I've always loved electronic gizmos and one of the coolest things about e-books and e-book readers in general is that they are green.

E-books don't require paper and therefore, don't cause massive numbers of trees to be pulped for paper. I don't think most folks realize how wasteful the whole print industry is. When bookstores stock books, they only have them on the shelves for a set period of time. Then they have to make room for new books. And when this happens, they strip the covers off the old books they didn't sell, and send them back to the publisher for reimbursement. And the publisher disposes of the stripped books.

Totally not green.

And while I love printed books too and buy dozens, I'm having severe bookshelf overflow problems. So I'm now thinking of seriously developing my e-book library. No shelf space required. No trees cut down. No waste, no fuss, no muss. And with an e-book reader, I can carry around a small library wherever I travel.

The change has been coming for some time. I know that as a computer geek, I've gradually moved away from computer books to online material, because I don't have the shelf-space or time to thumb through dozens of books that get outdated in a year or two. I'd rather search my desktop and the web for the references I need to work. And now, after working this way for a while, I've started buying my historical reference material for my novels in e-book format.

I'm ready to go green. I'm ready to start a green library and invest in an e-book reader.

And don't think I'm an e-book snob only interested in the Kindle. I like that particular product for my very own, specific reasons, but I totally see the value of other readers. I'm not plugging the Kindle over others—I just happen to be interested in it because it fits what I want to do.

I want to be able to download books when my computer is not available. This is sort of critical for me, because when I travel, I have two choices:

  1. Have personal devices that don't require a laptop or computer to support their functions
  2. Or carry TWO laptops with me

Because you see, my "day job" will not allow me to use my company laptop for non-work activities. And in fact, they've applied security to it to ensure I can't plug anything into it, like USB devices. And I simply refuse to carry two laptops with me when I travel.

So any personal devices like e-book readers need to operate independently. Hence my interest in the Kindle.

And…TADA! My new book, I Bid One American will be available in the Kindle store, so there is a weird sort of synchronicity to it. And all sorts of other books from The Wild Rose Press are already available through the Kindle store (just search for The Wild Rose Press) so it is extremely exciting.

Well, I've got to stop for the evening and get back to the serious task of editing.

Enjoy and have a wonderful week!

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Roscoe, 1995 – 2008, The Best Dog in the World

Our chocolate lab, Roscoe, died at 8:00am this morning. My husband had gone out and when he got home, Roscoe greeted him as usual, ran around the truck, and then collapsed. By the time my husband got out of the truck, Roscoe was gone. We think it might have been a stroke—but whatever it was, at least it was mercifully quick.

There will never be another Roscoe.

I've had dogs before, but I'd never had a lab, and never one like Roscoe. He was the most amazing dog I've ever known. Sure, he was stubborn and could be a royal pain in the ass sometimes, but he was just so darn smart. Heck, he was smarter than some people I've worked with. In fact, thanks to Roscoe, I now think that chocolate labs are the only kind of dog to have.

I don't know what I'm going to do in the garden anymore. Roscoe always guarded me from snakes. If he found one, I had to rush him into the house or he'd just kill it. If the snake was lucky, I got Roscoe away, picked up the snake tongs, and move the snake into the woods. If the snake was unlucky, Roscoe got to him first. I'd find bits of snake for weeks after, all over the garden.

If there was a particularly pernicious weed that I could not pull up, I just had to call Roscoe and give the weed a little yank. Roscoe would then take hold with his teeth and absolutely would not give up until that weed was out of the ground.

If something blew into the pond—say, our picnic umbrella—all I had to do was tell Roscoe to go and get it. Darn if he didn't. I'll never understand where he learned the word "umbrella."

God help you if you were shooting and missed what you aimed at. You were in for a very lively "talking to" by Roscoe, who would have shown you how to do it if he just had opposable thumbs. He despised bad shots. He expressed his opinions so clearly and with such a disgusted tone that it was almost as if you would be able to understand what he was saying if you just listened to his mumbling a little more intently.

He went everywhere. He dove without hesitation into the coldest, frozen-over lakes to fetch. And he wouldn't give up until he brought back whatever he had been sent to find. We might have cursed his stubbornness when we were trying to train him, but that trait is what made him a fabulous hunting companion. He simply would not give up until he had accomplished what he set out to do. He was amazing to watch in the field. He never missed a bird and was relentless in "getting the bird" no matter the weather. It could be a hundred degree day or a minum ten degree day—he just liked being outdoors. He loved gunfire, despised you if you missed, and would go after anything.

He was, without a doubt, the best and smartest dog we will ever know.

We will miss him.