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Saturday, May 31, 2014

PLOTTING WITH WOUNDED HEROES BY CHERYL PIERSON

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 Western Trail Blazer 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. A NIGHT FOR MIRACLES will be released in July, just in time for PRP's CHRISTMAS IN JULY sale toward the end of the month, but here's a little look into what's happening...

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 these stories and others, see my Amazon page here: https://www.amazon.com/author/cherylpierson

I will be giving away a copy of FIRE EYES to one commenter today! Be sure to leave contact info, and thanks for stopping by.

24 comments:

  1. Good morning, Cheryl! Sounds like you have another dynamite story! I think you're right about wounded heroes...we identify with a wounded hero much more easily. We CARE about what will happen to him and that makes the difference all the way around. The story moves to a deeper level at that point and we can commit ourselves to it....we want to know what will happen next.

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    1. I agree, Gail. And the funny thing is, in real life, I probably wouldn't know the first thing to do for someone who was wounded that badly--especially someone I cared about--I might just turn into a bowl of jello or something. LOL But in our books, we can be strong and determined to do whatever needs to be done. And that deeper level of commitment has to come.
      Cheryl

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  2. Hi Cheryl. I have this book on my TBR list, not got it yet but it's one of the next in the shopping cart, not least because your wounded hero has a similar name to my own favourite hero I wrote about 'Cade' your man being 'Kaed' made me want to read it!! Reading this piece has whet my appetite even more! You're right there's something about a handsome wounded man isn't there? YUM!

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    1. Hey Jill! You bet--there really is something that pulls is in--yanks us in--to a story with a wounded hero--because he's the one who normally saves the day--so how is he going to do it when he's hurt?
      Cheryl

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  3. A really helpful piece of information. Of course in both stories the reader knows they are going to be taken on a wonderful ride of recovery and redemption. Love it. Doris

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    1. Doris, yeah, it's kind of predictable in some ways, because if the hero doesn't survive there can't be a story or a romance. LOL So the recovery and/or redemption has got to happen, and I think that's my favorite part of the writing.
      Cheryl

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  4. I already have FIRE EYES although I haven't read it yet. Your new short sounds interesting.

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    1. Hey Robyn! That short is one that was pubbed through Western Trail Blazer and is now coming home to Prairie Rose Publications with a brand new cover in the next few weeks. I'm so excited, because this story has a very small twist of the paranormal at the end that is just delicious.
      Cheryl

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  5. I sometimes worry that I have latent sadistic tendencies with how 'mean' I am to my western heroes and/or heroines when I have them beaten/shot/knifed and then abandoned to die only to be found and saved from death. Funny how they survive the abuse without modern day antibiotics, though. *wink* Now, when it comes to doing-in the villain, it's Katie-Bar-The-Door. No amount of suffering is too bad for them after what they put my H&h through. *insert maniacal laughter* Oh... but I'm the author manipulating the whole thing. Oops. 0_o

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    1. Sorry, my first comment posted twice, so I beat a hasty path to delete it. ;-) Apparently, I was so clever, that it was worth saying twice. lolol

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    2. Well, of course it's worth reading twice! LOL Mine did that the other day, too. Oh, yes, our heroes survive so much without modern day meds! For sure! But that is part of their "super-strength-ness" ...or whatever you want to call it. LOL I'm so glad you think like I do--Love those wounded guys.
      Cheryl

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  7. Good morning Cheryl. Fire Eyes is on my TBR list for sure. Here's my chance.
    julieaalexandria@me.com

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    1. Hi Julie! I've gotcha entered! Thanks for stopping by!
      Cheryl

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  8. Terrific excerpt, Cheryl!

    I love most all heroes, wounded or not--ah, the delight of romance! Mine mostly aren't wounded, though, at least not physically, especially if I'm writing a hotter story (believe me, there's no whoopy going on if you have a broken rib). But of course that doesn't mean I don't put the poor guy through the meatgrinder in other ways. Bwahahaha.

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    1. Jacquie, if I could write humorous deliciousness like you do with your heroes, I wouldn't wound them -- at least, not every time. LOL Yes, it's nigh on to impossible to make whoopy with a broken anything, but we sometimes have to suspend our disbelief and just figure hormones and love overcame the pain.
      Cheryl

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  9. I also write wounded heroes whether emotionally or physically. I know when I start a book that my hero will go through a lot to get to his happily ever after. I also like writing strong women and the wounded hero brings that out in a woman.

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    1. Hi Rain! Oh goodie, another wounded hero writer. Yes, I'm like that, too--the hero is going to go through hell to get to his heaven, but it's always so worth it in the end. And I like strong women, too. Having them caring for a wounded guy gives them a chance to show their feminine caring side as well.
      Cheryl

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  10. AND my winner of FIRE EYES IS....

    JULIE DUFFY!!!! Congratulations, Julie, and I will be sending you your prize coupon very soon!

    Thanks so much to everyone for stopping by today and commenting! We always have such a good time here at the PRP blog, and couldn't do it without you all!

    Cheryl

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  11. Thank you so much. I'm looking forward to reading Fire Eyes.

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  12. I'd have a hard time coming up with one of your stories that doesn't have a half dead hero in it. LOL
    Fire Eyes was one of my favorites. I loved the villain--Fallon, the crazy lunatic who was just vicious. (Hope I didn't mess up the villain's name).

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  13. Cheryl. Thanks for the insights into your stories and ideas. You just answered a plot point I have been debating. At least I eliminated a couple of possibilities. :)

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  14. Enjoyed the post and the excerpt. I got a copy of Fire Eyes. A Night For Miracles sounds even better. Can't wait! :)

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