Friday, February 3, 2012

External vs. Internal Conflict - Jannine Gallant

Today I have a special Guest - Jannine Gallant visiting about her new release, Bittersweet.  

First of all, I’d like to thank P.L. for having me on her wonderful blog today. She told me to talk about anything I wanted, so here goes.

What draws you to a book? Is it the setting or the characters or a combination of both? Honestly, I tend to get hooked on the bigger picture, the external conflict. I love books that keep me on the edge of my seat, wondering if the characters will survive the circumstances in which they find themselves. My romantic suspense books have great villains—stalkers and serial killers terrorizing the poor heroine. I choose settings with pizzazz—Lake Tahoe, the Redwood Forest, a cross country road trip… Sure my characters have emotional issues, internal conflicts, but overcoming the external problems is often more of a challenge. So why did I do a complete turnaround with my latest release, Bittersweet?

I have no idea, so let’s figure it out. For starters, this book is character driven rather than plot driven, and it’s my first foray into the historical romance genre. Bittersweet is set on a Colorado farm in 1880. Yes there are external problems—some of them major. The outlaw who killed Tess’s husband is still threatening the community. A dry summer may destroy their livelihood. But the core of the book is emotional. Tess is determined to provide a normal life for her infant daughter, and that means overcoming her grief at the loss of her husband and remarrying. Daniel loves his sister-in-law, but he remains fiercely loyal to his brother’s memory. A moral dilemma is at the heart of this story. The internal conflict actually creates an external conflict in the person of the new sheriff in town and his relationship with Tess.

So, back to my original question, what do you look for in a book?


Eight months after her husband is killed in a train robbery, Tess Moran knows she must pick up the pieces of her shattered life and build a future for herself and her infant daughter. Daniel Moran’s love for Tess is bittersweet. Acting on his feelings for his sister-in-law will betray his dead brother’s memory. Watching her search for love elsewhere may very well destroy him.
In 1880, life in rural Colorado is filled with hard work and simple pleasures, but trouble looms on the horizon. Together Tess and Daniel battle drought and the outlaw who killed the man they both loved, but the greatest challenge of all is finding solace for their battered hearts.


Daniel followed her across the kitchen. He stood beside her in the doorway, looking out at the star filled sky. “It’s late. I’ll walk you home.”
            “You don’t have to. Shadow is with me.”
            “I’ll walk you home,” he repeated.
            Only the scuff of his boots on the road and the sound of crickets broke the silence. Tess sighed.
            He cleared his throat. “Why did Nathan come to see you?”
            “He asked me to the dance at the Leightons’ barn raising.”
            Daniel kicked a rock in the path and swore softly.
She stood still. “You’re the one who said there can’t be anything between us.”
            “I know, but I’m only human. Did he stay long?”
            “No, why do you ask?”
            “I haven’t the right, I know. The way you looked with that wet chemise clinging to you—” His voice trailed off.
            Tess blushed and was glad of the darkness. She hurried toward home, unable to outdistance her thoughts. “A gentleman wouldn’t mention it.”
            “You were hysterical over Emily, and all I could think about was how beautiful you looked. I hated Nathan for seeing you that way.”
            She stopped a few yards from her back door. The light shining from the kitchen window illuminated his face. His misery was clear.
            “All it would take is one word from you, Daniel, just one word. Say it,” she pleaded.
            “I can’t.”
            She swallowed hard. “Then let me be happy with Nathan.”
            He turned away. “I’m sorry, Tess. I’ll leave you alone.”
            “Fine. Goodnight, Daniel.”  Turning, she ran into the house before he could see the tears on her cheeks.

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Kathy Cottrell said...

this is a gorgeous blog face! Intriguing and alluring all at the same time. Nice job, PL.
Jannine, quite a change from the usual for you. It's nice to see a writer stretch her wings. good for you.
Wishing you the best in sales--

Jannine Gallant said...

Hi Kathy,

Thanks for visiting. P.L.'s blog is very striking. I like!

This book is quite a departure for me, both in the genre and the theme. But I hope readers will be pleased with the results.

Calisa Rhose said...

My books are mostly character driven, too Jannine. But I have a problem keeping the conflicts equal and not one overriding the other. I tend to lessen one more than the other I guess. I can't wait to add your book to my tbr!

P.L. Parker said...

Good Morning Jannine, ladies! Little late checking in - slept in for a change. I think Bittersweet sounds wonderful, love the cover and the title. Congratulations!

blcsdina said...

Hi Janine-Great conversation! Your book sounds fascinating! To play devil's advocate, I tend to be drawn more to plot and storyline, although the character's reactions to conflict make the story more interesting. You're right about balance. One tends to get stronger than the other as the book progesses.
In my book, Halo of the Damned, the main character, a fallen angel, gets sick of serving Satan. His own set of circumstances that change the plot.

Mary Vine said...

Looks like a great story! Isn't it fun to do something different?

Jana Richards said...

Hi Jannine,
The books I love the most,the ones that stay with me, are the ones in which the emotion practically jumps off the page. I want to feel what the characters are feeling.

Loved your excerpt. Can hardly wait to read 'Bittersweet'.


Cynthia Woolf said...

I loved the blog and the excerpt. I have a really hard time giving my characters internal conflict. Oh they have it but I think it's by accident on my part. I'm a plot, external conflict, driven writer.
Thanks for posting today.

Cynthia Woolf Blog

Jannine Gallant said...

Good points, ladies. I often think I'm more tempted to pick up a book that promises a great external conflict. You say to yourself, oh wow, I have to read this to see what happens. But as Jana mentioned, it's the internal conflict, the emotion, that sticks with you. A well balanced book will give you both.

S.A. Hunter said...

Patsy, a lovely blog and enjoyed your guest, Jannine's comments and excerpt. Interesting to consider the degree and kind of conflicts any particular piece of writing draws from us. As my YA Fantasy, Elanraigh the Vow, has a young heroine (on the verge of womanhood, in her culture), most of the conflicts, both external and internal, result in some sort of personal growth—and insights into the world around her.

It looks to me like Bittersweet will enjoy great success..

S.A. Hunter said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Katherine said...

Hi Jannine,
I tend to write character driven books and find myself gravitating to them in my reading as well. That's not to say I don't love a good plot driven book as well, but I think I have to be hooked by the characters first.

Jannine Gallant said...

Writers of books that rely heavily on plot (such as action/adventure, horror, etc.) should still put the effort into creating well-developed, likable characters. In romance it's essential, but I think books in all genres are improved when we can love the characters we're reading about.

P.L. Parker said...

Oh I agree Jannine. If I don't love the characters, I don't love the book.

P.L. Parker said...

I want to thank Jannine for being my guest today. Great post! All my best on your new release and many sales!

Jannine Gallant said...

Thanks so much for having me, Patsy. It's been fun and informative.

Margaret Tanner said...

Terrific blog Jannine, love the sounds of Bittersweet, plenty of conflict even the title seems to reflect this.



Jannine Gallant said...

Hi Margaret,

I changed the title to this book a half dozen times while writing and editing it. I finally came up with Bittersweet shortly before I submitted it. It did seem to fit the story. Right now I'm having issues with a title for my current WIP. I may have to beg for help on Facebook!

P.L. Parker said...

I know the feeling Jannine. My WIP - finally decided on Flight of the Hawk after many many ideas

Isabella Macotte said...

Great question and blog. I do like both external and internal. Maybe a bit more on the external side.

Jannine Gallant said...

Patsy, love your title!

Isabella, thanks for visiting. Bools are like chocolates. You hve to have a delicious looking external with that gooey internal center to sink your teeth into!