Sunday, June 22, 2008

A Kiss Is Just A Kiss…Guest Author: Kathy Kovach

A Kiss Is Just A Kiss…
Or Is It?
By Kathleen E. Kovach

I love symbolism. Adding it to my own work or seeing it in books or movies, it adds a delicious depth that makes me want to see more.

Before I had studied the craft of writing, I used symbolism intuitively. I'm shocked when I see it in my earlier works, which tells me that it may be God inserting these nuggets into my stories.

In Merely Players, now bundled into a 3-in-1 called Florida Weddings from Barbour Publishing,

I incorporated symbolism in several ways. And in one instance as I stated above, I had done it and didn't realize I had until I took a class at an American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) conference given by Louise Gouge. It was on the very subject of symbolism and was such an eye-opener for me. She mentioned several ways to insert symbolism, and one blew me away.

Allow me to first tell you what my book is about.

Bethany Hamilton is a dolphin trainer with no clear direction for her life. She's in the business because her father is the senior trainer at the Gulfarium in Northwest Florida and she's never known anything else. Brick Connor is a movie star, typecast into a role playing a spy named Dan Danger ala James Bond. He has several Danger movies under his belt and is currently working on Danger Down Under, a film that takes him on location to the Gulfarium where Bethany works.

Bethany and Brick, whose real name is Ricky O'Connell, were high school sweethearts. The story opens at their graduation, with gangly drama geek Ricky excited that he's just gotten agent. He fully expects Bethany to follow him as they've been Hollywood High's star attractions in every school production. However, Bethany must say goodbye.

The next scene takes place ten years later. Bethany is in Florida and going about her job. When she hears that Ricky (Brick) is coming to her little aquarium on the beach to film, she freaks out. The rest of the story explains what happened to these two, their journey back to each other, and how they deal with forgiveness.

This story is also about masks. People pretending to be who they aren't, people hiding who they really are to keep from getting hurt, and one person who is a wolf in sheep's clothing. Hence the title, Merely Players.


The masks are the overlying symbolic structure for this story. But there are other more subtle instances, as well.

Take their names, for instance. The name Bethany is my take on Bethel, or house of God. Okay, it's also the name I would have given my daughter if I'd had one. Bethany is Brick's sanctuary. In the past, he ran to her house to escape an abusive father. He found comfort there with her Christian family, people who loved him unconditionally. Now that Brick and Bethany are reunited, she becomes his sanctuary from a lifestyle he's grown tired of, and he yearns for her stability. Further, he often refers to her as a dove. This suggests peace.

Brick is as his name suggests. He has become hard. His past abuse has caused scarring on an emotional level as well as physical. He reenters Bethany's life as Brick, but the more he's in her presence, the more she sees Ricky behind the mask.

Remember when I said one of Louise Gouge's suggestions "blew me away?" After taking her class at ACFW, I realized that I had a theme going with the weather. (Yes, the pun was intentional and a small way for me to demonstrate what I'm talking about.) If it wasn't God who placed those instances there, it was at least my dramatic nature. I went home and re-read my story. It seemed whenever there was to be a change in one of the character's lives, there was a storm of varying intensity. Sometimes a small flicker of lightening off the shore. Sometimes something more ominous. I added some other storms throughout the story to give the reader a subconscious amusement ride.

A third form of symbolism was out-and-out blatant, but it worked. Sand dollars, when broken, have five tiny pieces inside that look like doves. When we lived in Florida, we saw dozens of these in gift shops, mounted in small shadowboxes with the "doves" flying out of the shell. Bethany is given one of these shadowboxes -- I think I called it a plaque in the story. She is touched by the gift, but is more touched as God begins speaking to her heart. There is coral on the plaque to make it pretty, but God tells her that she's to help Brick through the coral. This is a pivotal moment for her. But, it's short lived as she and Brick face more conflict, and one more humongous storm.

I'm sure there is more symbolism in Merely Players/Florida Weddings. But this gives a taste of how I approached it.

And what about that kiss that's just a kiss? Well, it may not be symbolic in my story, but my reviewers sure liked it! Michelle Sutton of Edgy Inspirational Author said, "Reading this Heartsong novel was like delving into a delectable dessert. Delicious. The romantic element was fabulous...every reader's fantasy. Who wouldn't want a hot Hollywood movie star to be in love with them? I enjoyed every minute of this savory romance. The tension was great and the storyline...exciting!"

Check out my website at or my Blog…With A Giggle at There are a couple more stops on my blog tour, so please go to my blog for those dates. And while we're talking about movies, at my new blog, Craft Cinema, we'll discuss movies through the craft of writing.

About Kathy:
Kathleen (known as Kathy by her friends) believes that if they'd done an ultrasound on her mother while she was with child, they'd have found a writing instrument clutched in her tiny hand.

After a lifetime of writing short stories, plays, and poems, God finally released Kathy to write as a career in 2002. This happened at the Colorado Christian Writers Conference where she won first place in the unpublished writers contest for her article "If Anyone Hears My Voice." She also met her editors, Jim and Tracie Peterson from Barbour's Heartsong Presents, who became intrigued with her heroine's profession, a dolphin trainer. By 2006, that novel, Merely Players, became published and went on to place second in the Inspirational Readers Choice Contest (IRCC) 2007. Then in May of this year it was bundled with two other stories by Lynn Coleman and Kristy Dykes under the title, Florida Weddings. In 2007, Kathy teamed up with Mary Davis, Sally Laity, and Jeri Odell for Love Letters, a Barbour novella collection about unique expressions of love, (hers takes place through fortune cookies.) Heartsong holds a readers poll every year, and in 2008, Kathy placed in the upper five of the Favorite New Author category.

After her contest win at CCWC, Kathy became leader of her local critique group, JOY Writers. She joined a local association, Colorado Writers Fellowship, and also a national organization, American Christian Fiction Writers, Her affiliation with ACFW eventually led to a position as the Colorado Coordinator, and she just recently moved up as the Rocky Mountain Zone Director.

Kathy lives in northeast Colorado (out where the buffalo roam) with her husband of 33 years. She has two sons, three grandchildren, and two grandpets - all of whom, at one point or another, have taken advantage of the revolving door on her empty nest.
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