Monday, September 29, 2014

Foursomes-Chosing the Right Partners

Foursomes-- If you follow me, you know I love a good euphemism or double entendre, but in this post, I'm talking about casting. Finding the right number of characters for your readers to care about.

Four seems to be a magic number. 

Here are some examples, from a romance writer's point of view:

Sexy in the City-We have Carrie, Samantha (my favorite), Charlotte, and Miranda. The main story line leans toward Carrie and Big finding their happily ever after, but if we didn't have the other three, the show would've been boring. We cared about all four women, their ups and their downs, and each played a vital role in the show with their own distinct personalities.

Big Bang Theory-We have Sheldon (my favorite), Leonard, Raj, and Howard. The main story line could also be the relationship between Leonard and Penny, but there is no show without Sheldon, Howard and Raj. All of these guys keep us in stiches and play so well off each other. I want to see Sheldon and Amy kiss, Howard and Bernadette finally have a baby, and Raj finally find his match.

Seinfeld-We have Jerry, George, Elaine and Kramer. Again, the main love story could be Jerry and Elaine, but without Kramer (my favorite) and George, the show would fall flat.

All of the above are wildly successful. I know this, and you know this.

My point?

When building your cast of characters, you may have "the Stars" of your show, but supporting characters are equally, if not vitally important.

In the examples above, each character has his/her own unique personality. That is also key. You can't have four characters that are all exactly alike. Each should have their own unique traits and flaws. They are there to challenge the others, to provide a fool to the straight man, and to give depth.

With a larger cast of characters, you give your readers a bigger pool of personalities to identify with. Too many characters, and you dilute the story, possibly confusing the reader. Too few, and you may lose a reader who can't identify with your hero/heroine.

There are many romance writers who know how to do this well. Melissa Foster, Patricia Eddy, Robyn Carr, Tami Lund and Rebekah Ganiere, to name a few. Each of these writers I've read, and each did an excellent job of introducing supporting characters that bring depth to the story and end up with their own books.

Look closely at your supporting characters. Give them a life, give them a story line, give them some depth and development.

The foursome could be your key to success.

By the way, I keep trying to convince my friend (photo above) to start her own shoe blog. I thought since I was mentioning Sex in the City, the photo would be appropriate.

Jennifer Senhaji

Find me online at

Monday, September 22, 2014

Want to be a better writer? Hire an editor.

This weekend, I finished the final edits on my current WIP with the help of my new editor. During the process, I learned so much about what I do right and what I do wrong. All of it, even the realization that I have a serious aversion to the comma, was amazing.

The process of sending your baby off to be judged by a professional editor can be scary. We all doubt ourselves and fear that someone will come along and say, "You suck. You're terrible. Find another passion." But I am here to tell you that as a newbie writer, my editor's suggestions and corrections are pearls of wisdom and I'm soaking them all up like a sponge.

Maybe I'm lucky. I have heard that the relationship between writer and editor can be a tough one. I think, if you find the right person, someone who encourages you, someone who is there to help you succeed, then having an editor can only make you a better writer.

What are the different types of editors and what do they do? Read this article. It explains it all and just happens to be written by my new editor.

Here are some of the things I've learned about myself:
It's okay, not ok.
The comma, in compound sentences, still confuses me.
The word "just" tends to be a crutch.
Numbers under 100 should be spelled out.
If you have described something in dialogue, you don't also need to describe it in the narrative.
Repeating the same words, in the same sentence, or same paragraph, sounds awkward.
When writing dialogue in contemporary fiction, it's better to use contractions.

The way I see it, this is a learning process. I have always been the type of person who wants to be the best at whatever I attempt. A barista at a coffee house or an office executive - I've been both. And in each and every job I've ever had, I've always wanted to be the best.

Now with art, and writing is an art, there is no such thing as the best. People may argue, but writing, like any art, is subjective.

do want to be the best writer I can be and that means constantly growing. I don't want the first book I ever write to be my masterpiece, I want the last book I ever write to by my masterpiece. I want to learn and reach and improve with each work I create.

I love my editor and value my editor and thank the stars I have found her, because she is going to help me become a better writer. I anxiously await her comments and suggestions. Yes, I am editing.
In the words of one of my favorite characters, I'm ready!

You can find me at

Monday, September 15, 2014

Swoon Worthy Kisses

Swoon worthy kisses. Film makers have actors to bring those screen play kisses to life. Writers, have to find the passion in between the lines. For me, the kiss is all about the anticipation. The build up to the kiss is just as important as the actual kiss, in my opinion. The reaction, once the kiss is in progress is also important. Did his pulse race, did her lips swell, basically, did the kiss arouse. No one wants to read about a kiss that doesn't, or, at least, I don't. Here are some of my favorite film kisses with a couple of quick lines on the fly from me.
Some Kind of Wonderful is my favorite movie from the 80's. I've  watched this movie hundreds of times. The best part about this kiss is the build up. Best friends, one secretly in love with the other, and the moment Keith (Eric Stoltz) realizes Watts (Mary Stuart Masterson) is a woman and a great kisser. "An unexpected zing of electricity ran through my body at the touch of our lips." I like to make a point to acknowledge the stomach flips characters feel when they finally get that first kiss from someone they are truly attracted to.
Originally the  video clip for this kiss from YouTube was embedded here, but due to technicall difficulties had to be removed.
Reality Bites is one of my favorite movies from the 90's, definitely in the top five. Love the music, love the movie, love it. Here we have two friends again, but both are fully aware of the other and the chemistry is palpable throughout the entire film. The best thing about this kiss, is that breath that Troy (Ethan Hawk) releases when he finally has Lelaina (Winona Ryder) in his arms. "I released the breath I was holding, at the sweet relief of finally connecting my lips to hers," would be my quick version of this.

  Originally the  video clip for this kiss from YouTube was embedded here, but due to technicall difficulties had to be removed.

The almost kiss is another type of scene where we see two characters barely restraining themselves. Secretly we hope one of them will break. The proposal scene, from the newest version of Pride and Prejudice, is a good example of this. Me. Darcy is awkwardly declaring his love, she is offended by his manner and rejecting him, but even though they are arguing and at each other's throat, the more angry they get, the more electrified the attraction. "Their breath mingled, desire pulling them together like magnets, against their better judgment," could be part of the description. 

Originally the  video clip for this kiss from YouTube was embedded here, but due to technicall difficulties had to be removed.
Pure lust, a kiss between Colin Farrell and co-star Bridget Moynahan in The Recruit. Go check it out, I'll let this one speak for itself.

Originally the  video clip for this kiss from YouTube was embedded here, but due to technicall difficulties had to be removed.

The almost painful kiss, not in terms of biting, but in tasting the forbidden fruit. Let's look at this one with Patrick Dempsey and Michelle Monaghan in Made of Honor. Watch Michelle's facial expressions. Listen to her breathing. Notice the eye contact.
Originally the  video clip for this kiss from YouTube was embedded here, but due to technicall difficulties had to be removed.
There are so many more where these came from. When writing a kiss, you want the reader to be able to visualize the big moment based on your words, just as easily as watching it on screen. The common thread in all of the above; passion.
Here is a little exercise for you writers. Pick either the scene from The Recruit or from Made of Honor, even if you haven't seen either film. Go to YouTube and watch each one. In the comments section below, write your description of that kiss.
Come on, romance writers, make me swoon. I dare you.
So I don't have to throw up a disclaimer, let's also keep it PG13.
Thanks for reading. I look forward to your comments.

Originally the  video clips for all the kisses above were embedded here, but due to technical difficulties had to be removed. Please go watch each one on YouTube if you get a chance. 
Jennifer Senhaji

Monday, September 8, 2014

A Moroccan Wedding

The beat of the drums, the scent of mint tea permeating the air, the rich and savory meats and the sweet almond filled pastries, the brilliant colors of the hand made caftans and takchitas, the comfort of a home away from home; Morocco can evoke these senses all at once. The smells, sounds, tastes, feel, and sight of so much beauty in one place is magical. Morocco is an exotic place to visit and yet the people there make you feel at home right away. I have been to Morocco several times, and there are still places I have yet to see. The architecture, the history, the coast, oh and did I mention the food.

 Here are some pictures of my Moroccan family
 celebrating my nephew's birthday. This is early
in the day before the musicians arrived and before
most of the guests arrived. I wanted to capture as many of the different caftans and takchitas I could before I was too caught up in the dancing. 

 Most events, birthdays, baby showers, engagement
 parties, weddings are hosted at home, but it's not
just lunch or dinner. No. It is an all out celebration including live music, dancing, dinner, sometimes breakfast, since you can't let your party goers go home hungry and a display of the latest in Moroccan fashion. Most couples meet their future spouse at a party or wedding and these events are what make up the majority of your social life.

In the summer time, most people stay out and awake later than your average person. If it's not a party, it's a wedding. Weddings are most often hosted in outdoor tents built for the occasion in the bride's neighborhood. You an hear the music from blocks away, but no one complains. They acknowledge a wedding is taking place and somehow sleep through it.

From my experience, a Moroccan wedding typically takes about 3 days to complete. First you have the wedding contract, hand written by the religious leader of the local mosque. Then you have the henna party, where the bride and usually most of the women in the family have their hands and feet decorated in beautiful henna tattoos. Next you have the actual wedding, that typically starts in the evening and can last all night long. The following morning, there may be a brunch or breakfast hosted by the in-laws. It is like having a three day party. You enjoy delicious food, amazing music (usually a live orchestra or band), and admire a gorgeous bride who changes outfits more times in the one night than most people do in a week.

I have been to many Moroccan weddings over the years, including my own. Yep. I had a Moroccan wedding. Why you ask? Easy. I married a Moroccan in Morocco.

My wedding was planned for me. I didn't wear a white dress or walk down the isle on the arm of my father when I married my husband. I didn't have to worry about flowers or food or guest lists or even my own wedding dress. What I did have to do is show up. My mother, father, stepmother, my mother's best friend, and my daughter, all got on a plane to Rabat, Morocco. We had a small family wedding, as there had been a recent death in family, but it was amazing and I wouldn't change a thing. I did decide to bring one thing with me; an Indian sari, which many brides choose to include in their wedding wardrobe. In Morocco, the bride traditional changes seven times during the wedding ceremony, not to mention the changes she makes during the henna party. My wedding dress had already been made for me, but I've always loved how beautiful women look in a sari.

The wedding was wonderful. My hands and feet were decorated with henna tattoos, along with my mother, stepmother, daughter, mother in law, sisters in law, etc. Most importantly, the people I love most were there.

Rings were exchanged, along with the sharing of dates and milk. Then we were admired by all and gifted with dancing, food, laughs, hugs, and well wishes. The party continued all night and in my case we ended our celebration somewhere around 5am. Most weddings last until 7am or 8am the next day, but I was just fine going to bed when I did :)

My husband and I have been married for fourteen years. Since, I have been to many more Moroccan weddings, some here in the
states, most in Morocco. If you ever have a chance to go to Morocco, I highly recommend it. If you go in the summer, you are sure to find yourself surrounded by weddings.

How did I meet my husband? That is another story.

You can find me online at www.jennifersenhajiauthor,com

Thanks for reading.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Writing Wenches

Who are the #WritingWenches ? You have heard me mention them before, you have seen the hashtag on Facebook and Twitter, but you still have no idea what or who I am referring to.

I am proud to say, I am a Writing Wench.

You can enjoy a new post everyday by one of our talented wenches on our blog at

We are writers and readers of every genre and are consistently pulling together the best that the literary world has to offer in the form of writing tips, author interviews and entertaining stories about life. We are well trained in the art of cheekiness, and are proud to serve up content that is both engaging and informative.

We reside in seafaring ports, idyllic rural spaces and urban enclaves across the globe—and our interests are as diverse as the places we live.

We call ourselves wenches because we throw ourselves into our craft with fiery determination and reckless abandon—but don’t let the name fool you—our status is not defined by gender!

With authors, editors and readers at your fingertips—be prepared for the most well-rounded literary experience on the web—and a whole lot of laughter along the way!

Currently, we are working on a holiday anthology that will be available for purchase this holiday season. My contribution to the anthology is a sweet and spicy romance entitled Angels in Disguise.

Angels in Disguise takes place on New Year's Eve when Gabe and his friends and Alex and her friends all head to a New Year's Eve music festival looking for a good time. Gabe, a self proclaimed connoisseur of women, is looking for a fun hookup and Alex, is a good girl, trying to reclaim her fun after a bad breakup. The two meet and soon friendly banter turns into an unexpected attraction. Who will end up with who at midnight? Who is the angel in disguise?

I never thought about writing a short story before, but the Writing Wenches have made it possible and together, we are publishing a boxed set of holiday stories.

Maybe the Writing Wenches are my Angels is Disguise.


You can stalk me online at

Thanks for reading.