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Using Sensory Description in Paranormal Romance

Originally posted on Paranormal Romantics 5/20/2017


A frequent tip you’ll hear in writing workshops, seminars, and blogs is to include the senses in your descriptions. One workshop I attended mentioned trying to include all 5 senses on every page. I took this to be a bit of an exaggeration, as that would be a LOT of description on every page. But it gives you a goal to shoot for so you remember to include sensory description as much as possible.

My personal rule of thumb is to attempt to get all 5 senses to show up in every five pages. This is actually much harder than it sounds, so let’s dig into a little bit.


5 Commonly Learned Senses


Sight tends to be the easiest of the senses to remember because you can describe what the character is seeing in terms of surroundings, other people, gestures, or even what’s inside their head. However, since this one is the easiest to include, don’t forget to include little details that we all notice without realizing it… colors, shapes, changes in the surroundings, locations of objects or people in relation to the POV. For that deep POV touch, have characters note things that they would notice. No two people would walk into a room and notice the same things. Think about what in the room/the scene/another character might catch your characters eye.


Sound can be relatively easy because you can describe voices if you include a lot of dialogue like I prefer. But I find I forget to includes sounds of everyday life that we all tend to tune out, but are there nonetheless. Things like cars passing, low murmurs of voices at parties, background music, etc. You don’t need a lot, just a touch here and there. Again, try to incorporate things your character might notice.


Touch could be the bread and butter for a romance writer. Touch can be a very sensual experience. Wonderfully descriptive words come from touch – rough, smooth, silky, hard, soft, lush, scratchy. Think about textures of furniture, of food, of clothing, of skin, of pets, even the air. You get the idea.


You would think that smell would be easy to include, but unless there’s food involved, I find I really have to think about smells. (I guess I love food.) Smells surround us, but unless they’re strong we don’t think about it much. Next time you get out of the car or enter a new building, think about what it smells like. Does it smell like a hospital? Like Christmas? Like a trash bin? Like piney woods? Like flowers? What do people around you smell like? Like what they just ate? Their cologne? Their shampoo? The pool water they just swam in?


This is perhaps the hardest sense to include regularly because most of us only think of taste in terms of food. And, at least for my characters, I don’t have them eating in every chapter. However, taste can come into play in ways that are more subtle. Have you ever tasted the metallic flavor of blood, or the lips of the person you just kissed, or a scent in the air is so strong you can taste it?

Other Senses

Did you know there are more than 5 senses these days? I heard a trivia question recently saying that there are more than 5 senses–which, as a writer who tries to include these details in my descriptions, I found fascinating.

In researching this a little, I discovered that scientists are still divided on the additional senses. Some link them to specific sensory organs in our bodies (eyes, ears, olfactory, tongue, skin – but also inner ear, etc.). Some consider that there are subcategories to the main 5.

Regardless of classification, here are some additional senses that most of the websites I reviewed agreed on:

  • Temperature – Hold/Cold
  • Balance
  • Pain
  • Sense of where your limbs and body parts are
  • Thirst
  • Hunger
  • Time

Just think of all the new ways you could incorporate these additional sensory details!


Paranormal Senses

Now let’s take it yet a step further, into a genre specific bonus!

In paranormal romance, we are dealing with creatures that don’t have just their human senses. They could potentially have heightened sense. Take werewolves and wolf shifters for example. Several articles pointed out that animals have heightened versions of these senses. Dogs smell 100x better than humans. So it stands to reason my wolf shifters would as well.

Think about having fun with the possibilities this presents. For example:

A dragon might be cold intolerant, because they like heat better. They might also have a great sense of balance which could be needed for flying. How much fun would a dragon with inner-ear issues be to write, because suddenly they are grounded (and more interesting).


A vampire might be a great CSI because they can taste elements in blood. What if they could be a DNA tester? Or  blood-alcohol tester?


A psychic can’t stand to be touched because it triggers visions. That’ll make intimate relationships difficult. Build in conflict right there.

I think you get where I’m going now. (In fact, I might go write that dragon with balance issues right now.)

I hope you have a ton of fun trying to fit in some new sensory detail, and maybe even make a character more interesting because of it! Let me know what you come up with!

You Might Be a Romance Writer If…

Depositphotos_22233231_l-2015I’ve been writing all my life. I think just about every writer/author will tell you that. We write long before we are published. The publication part just lets the rest of the world know that we are writers.

I’ve been a romance writer for most of that time. Actually I’ve been a romance reader ALL of that time, and the writing followed naturally. So…after 7+ years of doing this gig for publication, I’ve started to notice a few signs about being a writer, and especially a romance writer.

Do any of these sound like you?

You might be a writer (especially a romance writer) if:

  1. Every time you start writing a non-romance story, it doesn’t get good (in your head) until a romance suddenly appears.
  2. You change the endings of movies and books in your head (or add characters, new plot lines, a better romance…whatever).
  3. Proper grammar has been drilled into your head, and you’ve yelled at the TV “It’s ‘I’ dude. The crew and I. ” When a newscaster just said, “The crew and me went on location.”
  4. Other writers, and definitely editors, still find mistakes with your grammar, so you are far from perfect in that department. Just perfect when it comes to “I” vs. “me”. Lol.
  5. At a reunion, an old schoolmate asks if your mom (previous high-school English teacher) is proud of your writing, and you answer that absolutely she is, but it’s a little awkward to know your mother reads all the sex scenes you wrote. Followed by dead silence and stares.
  6. Your husband walks into the living room to find you straddling the couch with your hands “tied” behind your back to see if you could physically reach your foot in that situation while riding a horse (in a “stealthy” manor). (Yes, it is possible, though cramps ensue.)
  7. You post on Facebook declaring for whoever is watching (big brother-style) that all your searches involving knives and knife throwing (plus martial arts, ninja skills, breaking and entering, climbing tall walls, special positions, and whatever else) have to do with research for a fictional book.
  8. You check out Wikipedia for the plot of a series of books, because you can already tell it’s going in a direction you wouldn’t have written, and hope you’re wrong. But you don’t want to read ALL those books if you’re right.
  9. You stop reading a book or don’t like a movie because they royally f’ed up the romance bit.
  10. You commonly wake in the middle of the night exclaiming “That’s it!” But if you don’t write it down, your brilliant idea is gone come morning.
  11. You’ve missed actually hearing/participating in a meeting at work, or a conversation with your spouse, because you realized the fix for your latest WIP and you were working through the details in your head.
  12. You start hearing sexual innuendo in everything people say, and it makes you snicker every time.
  13. You stop at a red light and desperately search for a scrap of paper and a pen so you can write down your latest brain wave before it disappears.
  14. Every October 31st you warn your spouse, children, family, and friends that you’ll be unavailable for the  next month while you write a book. And on your fifth consecutive year of this, your husband declares that if you get to write a book for NaNoWriMo, he gets to grow a mustache for Movember.
  15. You get to a point where every month is NaNoWriMo.
  16. You tell people that the voices in your head are why you feel compelled write, and they nod and smile like that’s normal, then exit the conversation as soon as they can without appearing rude. (They don’t want to upset the voices.)

Fellow (romance) writers, what other signs have you noticed? Readers, what about you?

WINNER: Character Name Contest!

In April, my fabulous newsletter readers signed up for a contest to name a lead character in my upcoming Legendary Consultants novella, TO THINE OWN ELF BE TRUE.

Contestants were given the following description and asked to provide a name. Bonus points for reasons for the name.

A paranormal doctor (a healer). She is tall. She has medium brown hair with golden highlights (about shoulder length). Stunning blue eyes with an exotic slant keep her from ending up “girl next door” pretty.

She is a city girl who has ended up in a backwoods town in the north to help a bunch of elves. She is super smart, sassy, and sarcastic, but not snotty. She’s actually a people person. 

From the roughly 75 entries, I selected my favorites and put them up for a vote from all my readers. Without further ado, the winner of the Name a Character Contest, with 42% of the vote, is….

Christine B. with the name of:

Sapphire Sirona

Sapphire for her eyes and Sirona for the Gallo-Roman and Celto-Germanic goddess of healing.

Congrats to Christine, and a huge thank you to all who entered the contest. I’ll definitely hold another one of these soon! 🙂



2017 RONE Awards Nominee

I am thrilled to announce that 5 of my books have been nominated for the 2017 InD’tale RONE Awards!

The way these awards work, throughout the year the InD’tale stable of reviewers read and review submitted books. All books that receive a 5-Star review are automatically finalists in their category. All books that receive a 4-Star or 4.5-Star review are nominees which go through a round of reader voting.

After reader voting, all finalists are then read by a panel of industry judges (editors, agents, librarians, etc.). Their scores will determine the RONE winners. Winners will be announced during InD’Scribe Con in October!


  • Her Demigod Complex – 5-Star Review (Novella, Finalist)
  • The Worse for Were – 4.5-Star Review (Novella, Nominee)
  • Home for the Holidays – 4-Star Review (Anthology, Nominee) *Pub’d Nov’16-Jan’17 Only
  • Tieryn’s Fury – 4.5-Star Review (Paranormal Short, Nominee)
  • Seneca’s Faith – 4.5-Star Review (Paranormal Short, Nominee)


Reader voting will be for 1-week at a time for each category. If you’ve read and loved my books, I’d appreciate your votes! Please check out the voting dates.

Novella Voting – April 17-23

Anthology Voting – April 24-30

Paranormal Short Voting – May 8-14

Thank you for your votes!

VOTE: Choose a Character Name!

Due to my website being down for 2 weeks, I am extending this contest through May 15th!

In April, my fabulous newsletter readers signed up for a contest to name a lead character in my upcoming Legendary Consultants novella, TO THINE OWN ELF BE TRUE.

Contestants were given the following description and asked to provide a name. Bonus points for reasons for the name.


From the roughly 75 entries, I selected my favorites. And I am now asking for your help! Please check out the finalists and vote on your favorite.

I will announce the winner on May 15th, 2017 by 8pm CST.



A paranormal doctor (a healer). She is tall. She has medium brown hair with golden highlights (about shoulder length). Stunning blue eyes with an exotic slant keep her from ending up “girl next door” pretty.

She is a city girl who has ended up in a backwoods town in the north to help a bunch of elves. She is super smart, sassy, and sarcastic, but not snotty. She’s actually a people person. 


Samara “Sam” Winters (Submitted by Kelesea F.)

She was named after her father’s best friend from college.

Rian Nakoha (Submitted by Cheryll McM.)

The first name bc it’s striking and unusual like her beauty. The second bc I’m part Cherokee, and it means mother/nurturing which is what healers do in our culture.

Raine Storms (Submitted by Norma S.)

Her mother was a librarian with a warped sense of humor and her dad was an engineer who thought puns were the only way to make someone laugh. She had also been born during a horrific thunder and lightening storm and was older by 6 minutes than her brother Thor. Thank the gods that they hadn’t been triplets because the unlucky 3rd sibling would have been called either Lightening or Gayle depending upon their gender.

Yep I’m the librarian and my husband is an engineer. We didn’t have kids of our own (2 fosters that we adopted) and the thought did cross my mind when we were trying to have our own kids.

Sadie Powers (Submitted by Cassandra H.)

People-oriented and fun-loving. Makes things more fun for others by their enjoyment, good at getting others to have fun. Outgoing, social, group oriented. Does not like to be alone, feels at ease around others. Talkative, open, Values relationships and family. Interested in serving others. Likely to be the center of attention in social situations. Living for the moment loves new experiences. Well-developed common sense and practical ability. Feels the emotions of others. Likes teamwork. Guided by moods

Sapphire Sirona (Submitted by Christine B.)

Sapphire for her eyes and Sirona for the Gallo-Roman and Celto-Germanic goddess of healing.

Brigid Mender (Submitted by Michelle V.)

Brigid is the Irish Goddess associated with healing.

Kaytlyn Althea (Submitted by Angelina B.)

Althea is Greek and it means one who brings healing. Her paternal grandfather came over from Greece as a preteen. Kaytlyn is English and means smart and beautiful. Named after her maternal great-grandmother.


Oh! And if you’d like to get in on fabulous contests like this, make sure to join my newsletter!


Website Back Up & Running

So this thing happened…

About 2 weeks ago, my website went down. It took me 5 days to get a response from, who let me know that they’d had a “file failure” and were rebuilding my files.

2 weeks later, and there are still ZERO files rebuilt. Which means my website was gone, kaput, lost. Thanks to the help of Kika Designs, I was able to create a new website with a different host. I at least had some old info from 2 years ago when WordPress was still hosting. But still, I had to rebuild this sucker entirely from scratch. Took me 3 full days of this and just about nothing else.

So the good news is, I have my website back!

The bad news is, all my blog posts are toast. Almost 600 posts over 5 years, gone. I am hoping to recover a few from my old site. Even so….

I’m starting over with the blog as of today. Welcome (back) to the wonderful world of Abigail Owen. 🙂


Update 5/15/2017

Good news! I managed to recover a majority of my blog posts. I’m still missing posts from Nov 2015-May 2016,  July 2016-Sept 2016, and from Nov 2016-May 2017. I “recreated” a few of the most important ones in those time periods. Still great news. Yay!

New Tagline for Abigail Owen

While I was in the process of splitting out my personalities, I realized something… I needed a new tagline for both personalities. Originally, as Abigail Owen, the tagline I chose was:

love…write. read. imagine.

I picked that tagline because it was generic. At the time I had no intention of writing under multiple pen names. Obviously, I changed my mind. *grin*

So when I started creating my new logo for my new contemporary romance pen name, Kadie Scott, it struck me that with my pen names being genre-specific, I should have taglines which were genre-specific.

For Kadie Scott, I already had an idea of what I wanted included. So the tagline for that persona was easy.

Sassy. Sexy. Seductive.


My Abigail Owen new tagline was a bit tougher as I couldn’t decide between several. In the end, I had my newsletter subscribers for Abigail vote.

I’m thrilled with both taglines, and had a ton of fun picking them. Hopefully they stick. Lol.

Signed with Evan Marshall

I am thrilled to announce that I have signed as an author with literary agent Evan Marshall of The Evan Marshall Agency.

My husband and I met Evan and his lovely wife on the FRW Fun in the Sun cruise/conference. We had a chance to spend a little time with them–especially playing trivia. I won an opportunity to pick Evan’s brain for 1 hour, and really enjoyed hearing Evan’s take on some different questions I posed to him.

Evan will be representing all my genres (and split personalities) moving forward, and I very much look forward to working with him to further my career!


Spring Break in Santa Fe

If you’re wondering where I’ve disappeared to for the past week…I’ve been in Santa Fe with my family enjoying my kids’ spring break!

While I’ve driven through Santa Fe many times on my way to Colorado, this is my first visit. We had a spectacular time, and I thought I’d share a bit with you.

From where we live in Austin, it’s approximately a 10-hour drive (not including stops), so we make it in one day which is great. This means we spend less on travel, but still have plenty of time at our destination. The house we rented was only a 20-minute drive from the slopes and only a 10-minute walk from the old-town plaza of shops and restaurants. Perfect location!

Our first day was spent settling in and grocery shopping. We also took the kids to MeowWolf–this really wacky, cool place that was like a jungle gym with each room a different weird world. The pic I’m including was like walking through a human-sized aquarium. There’s apparently a story you can also follow, but we just ran around. Sounds like one may be coming to Austin in the near future.

We spent three days there skiing at Ski Santa Fe. My kids skills have really developed and we spent a ton of time with them skiing (or snowboarding). I am a mediocre skier. By this I mean that I enjoy blues and greens. I am too afraid of heights to handle the steeper slopes on blacks and so forth. Plus, despite living only 1-2 hours from Tahoe ski resorts, the last time I skied was 10 years ago. I was happy to discover it’s like riding a bike and picked it back up.

Wednesday night, we hired a trusted babysitter to watch the kids and went for an adults-only night of dinner and drinks. Thursday we went to Bandelier National Monument and hiked to the old Pueblo settlements in the mountains. I grew up in a family that always incorporated historical sites in our travel, and so thought it was fascinating. Don’t be surprised if the culture shows up in one of my books!

Our last day was “lazy.” We took the kids to make pottery and then went to see the new “Beauty and the Beast” movie (which was fab).  Somewhere in all of that we also managed to do a little shopping in the plaza, visit the gorgeous Loretto Chapel with the gorgeous “miracle staircase” described in Willa Cather’s “Death Comes for the Archbishop” and eat. A lot of eating.

We had such a great time, we hope to go again next year. Here’s hoping your spring break–whether it was a lovely stay-cation at home or a destination like ours–was just as terrific!

Favorite Hero Archetypes

depositphotos_21944159_l-2015I write romance, which means I come across similar character archetypes regularly. The fun part of these as an author is taking something well-known and putting my own fun spin on it. The fun part of these as a reader is having my favorite archetypes to read.

I’m drawn to certain archetypes more than others. Most readers are. Don’t lie. You know you have your favorites too. Here are my personal favorites to read and write:


I love the charmer because he’s fun. My favorite charmer is Curly in the move Oklahoma, as portrayed by Gordon MacRae. He’s fun to be around for the other characters (mostly). Liked by all.  He’s fun as an author because the charmer has a lot of growth to become both charming and responsible. I also love the interaction with the charmer and the heroine and how she grounds him, helping him become a better man.


The fearless, daring guy who jumps in to save the day. I’ve loved this archetype ever since I saw Errol Flynn in Robin Hood. And don’t even get me started on Westley from The Princess Bride. Swoon. As an author, what I love to write is a counterpart to the swashbuckler. Rather than being rescued by him, I have the heroine be his equal and maybe even do the rescuing.


The guy who will protect and serve until his last breath. There is nothing sexier than a man in uniform because we want to believe they will have our backs and fight for truth and justice (and the heroine). Like with the swashbuckler, I like to write a heroine who doesn’t necessarily need to be protected because she can do it herself. It’s fun to watch those dynamics.

Bad Boy

Who doesn’t love the bad boy? Michael Fassbender as Magneto, Patrick Swayze in Dirty Dancing, Paul Newman in The Long, Hot Summer. Come on ladies, we all secretly want to help this rough edged man with a gold heart open up or settle down or finally find the love and acceptance he deserves. I love to write bad boys because they have very few limits, but you can also make them very human.

You can probably tell that I enjoy reading and writing strong male characters, although I prefer to avoid the alpha-hole. That guy who runs roughshod over everyone. I love strong heroes because I REALLY love strong heroines, and I need the hero to be her match.

What about you? What are your favorite archetypes? Do you like the same ones as I do? Or do you prefer the Chief, the Best Friend, the Lost Soul, or the Professor?

For more info on these archetypes, check out, “The Complete Guide to Heroes and Heroines: 16 Master Archetypes.”