Tag Archives: Author

From the Archives: IT’S ALIVE!!! Creating Characters that Come to Life

To celebrate the one year anniversary of my blog (March 13th), I’m publishing select posts throughout the year under the title “From the Archives” for those who may have missed them the first time around. Next up…

IT’S ALIVE!!! Creating Characters that Come to Life

Do the characters you write about become real to you? Do you sometimes find yourself wondering what they’re up to as if you could simply call them up and chat? I must admit I have done that once. Okay maybe more than once.

Sure, they’re a figment of your imagination, and you’d do well to remember that, but creating good fictional characters involves more than mere physical description. In fact, some authors don’t provide a physical description at all; they leave it up to the imagination of the reader. What I’ve learned is that physical description is the least important part of good characterization.

If you want your characters to come to life, to know what they would say or do or feel, you need to get into their heads. You need to understand what motivates them. To do that you need to know where they’ve been. What has happened to them in the past? What was their childhood like? What environment did they grow up in? What are their likes and dislikes? What are their hopes and fears? What have they experienced that would give rise to any quirks, phobias or disorders? Do they have any special talents or abilities? Do they have any unique expressions? How do they treat other people?

“Sow a thought, and you reap an act; Sow an act, and you reap a habit; Sow a habit, and you reap a character; Sow a character, and you reap a destiny.”  ―    Anonymous

Of course, all of this is up to you. The answers to these questions come from your imagination. When you create a character that goes well beyond physical description, it is as if you have brought that character to life. They not only become real to you but they become real to your readers. The reader becomes invested in your book and that is the main goal.

“I will go to my grave in a state of abject endless fascination that we all have the capacity to become emotionally involved with a personality that doesn’t exist.”  ―    Berkeley Breathed

From the Archives: Words of Wisdom on Writing from the King

To celebrate the one year anniversary of my blog (March 13th), I’m publishing select posts throughout the year under the title “From the Archives” for those who may have missed them the first time around. Next up…

Words of Wisdom on Writing from the King

Yesterday I published, Reading Fiction: Guilty Pleasure or Worthy Pursuit? In that post I stated that I only read fiction. Well it’s just one day later and I must retract that statement.

I received a copy of Stephen King’s On Writing in the mail yesterday afternoon. Yeah, it’s obviously not fiction but it’s a book on writing fiction so cut me some slack, okay? I’ve read several excerpts in the past but decided I needed to read the entire book. Well, I couldn’t put it down.

Cover of "On Writing:  A Memoir of the Cr...
Cover of On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

It’s a book on writing but it doesn’t read like an instruction manual and that, is a lesson on writing right there. It felt like I had sat down with a wise, yet fun-loving uncle as he imparted nuggets of wisdom, but first hooked me in by sharing funny anecdotes from his childhood.

The section where he offered advice on writing is a must read for any aspiring author. There are many great tips but I’ll highlight just two (sorry, but you’ll have to buy the book to get the full benefit).

King believes “plotting and the spontaneity of real creation aren’t compatible.” His advice was reassuring because I’m not big on plotting and I’d wondered if that was somehow a weakness. I have a general idea of the story I want to tell and create very detailed character bios, but they are mostly for my reference only. Once I’ve completed the character bios it’s almost as if I have breathed life into them. They become real and end up telling me what comes next and it’s often different from what I had originally imagined.

He also believes that factual information belongs in the background of your story unless you’d like your book to read like a user’s manual or history text. He mentioned a couple of authors who are a little heavy on the factual information and then made this statement:

“I sometimes think that these writers appeal to a large segment of the reading population who feel that fiction is somehow immoral, a low taste which can only be justified by saying, ‘Well, ahem, yes, I do read {Fill in the author’s name here}, but only on airplanes and in hotel rooms that don’t have CNN; also I learned a great deal about {Fill in appropriate subject here}.’

It’s interesting that I just published a post on this topic yesterday. I love it when that happens. It’s like the moon and stars are aligning for some future event.

At the end of the book he tells about an accident that occurred during the time he was writing it. While going on his afternoon walk, he was struck and almost killed by a reckless driver. This part was mesmerizing because I was almost killed in a car accident too. Then he said it occurred the third week in June. Hmm…my accident did too. What are the odds it was on the same day? Well, what do you know? We were both almost killed by drivers who couldn’t control their vehicles…on the same day, June 19th, but eleven years apart, mine occurring in 1988 and his in 1999. But there was another similarity: the driver who caused his accident was reaching behind his seat, trying to prevent a dog from opening a cooler full of meat and the driver who caused my accident was reaching behind his seat, trying to open a cooler for another beer.

As he talked about the long road to recovery, I recalled my own. Maybe I’ll write about it? No, not today.

Instead, I closed the book with a smile on my face and thought, “That was a good story. Thanks, Uncle Steve.”

From the Archives: How the Life of a Writer Resembles a Bee

To celebrate the one year anniversary of my blog (March 13th), I’m publishing select posts throughout the year under the title “From the Archives” for those who may have missed them the first time around. Next up…

 How the Life of a Writer Resembles a Bee

On this journey to becoming a published author, I’m discovering that the life of a writer resembles a bee, a very busy bee. I’m not referring to a queen bee or a drone, but a worker bee.

Honey Bee in Sunlight
Honey Bee in Sunlight (Photo credit: Scott Kinmartin)

The worker bee buzzes from flower to flower collecting nectar and pollen to make honey, but that’s not her (yes, a worker bee is female) only job. She builds the honeycomb and keeps it clean. She makes wax. She cares for the babies and protects the hive. When she finds a good source for nectar and pollen she buzzes back to the hive and communicates the good news. She is a social creature that shares her discoveries for the benefit of the hive. She collaborates with others to make something sweet. She is a very busy little bee.

So how is the life of a writer like a bee?

The days when a writer could simply collect thoughts and ideas and write a novel (as if writing a novel were simple) are long gone. No, writers, that is not your only job. You need to do your homework.

  • Read books on the art of writing.
  • Read books on formatting your manuscript, query letter and synopsis. I’ve read a dozen or so over the last few years and recently ordered several more.
  • Read the top rated novels. I started a project over a year ago to read the Modern Library’s Top 100 novels and recently merged it with Time Magazine’s Top 100.
  • Read current bestsellers.
  • Read books within your genre.
  • Read books outside your genre.
  • Research the submission process.
  • Research agents too. Read their blogs and get to know their likes and dislikes. After all, you hope one will represent you some day.
  • Read the blogs of authors they represent.
  • Read those authors’ books too.
  • Read…A LOT.

Of course most of you know that already, but did you also know that you are expected to market and promote your work? I’m sure visions of book tours and interview flash across your mind as you think, “Uh, duh. I knew that.” Let me rephrase that then. Did you know that you are expected to market and promote your work before your book has been published?

I didn’t know that. I neglected to read anything on social media. I skipped those chapters in the books I read. That comes later, after you’re published, right? Wrong. A writer needs to create a buzz, a following, prior to becoming published. In this technology driven world the best way to do that is through social media. Agents are more likely to take a chance on you if you can show that you have a presence on the internet.

Take a lesson from the honey bee. She visits several different sources (species of flowers) to make honey. Writers should do the same when writing and publishing a book. Don’t trust just one source for information. Read about the mistake I made doing this in my post, Word Count for Novels. Be social, like the bee. Flutter among the cyber flowers (blogs, online forums, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, author and agent websites, etc.) and make friends. Collect all that you have learned and create something that, like honey, lasts. Then go back to the hive (the internet), do the crazy bee “waggle dance,” and share what you’ve learned.

If you don’t have a blog yet, start one. I know. It’s a little intimidating at first. Creative people tend to be more introverted so this “social media thing” can push us out of our comfort zone. You may wonder if anyone will be interested in visiting the microscopic spec in cyberspace that is your blog. If you are like me, you may feel more like a bumble bee: poorly designed for flight. Sure, it may be a little difficult to get off the ground at first and you may wonder if your paper-thin wings can support your awkward body. You may fumble a bit, but remember:

“Aerodynamically, the bumble bee shouldn’t be able to fly, but the bumble bee doesn’t know it so it goes on flying anyway.” Mary Kay Ash

Defy physics and reason and soon you will be soaring high. Plus, I’ve learned that writers, by nature, are generous people. The followers will come.

Oh, and by the way, my name means “honey bee.” So, you see, I have been a very busy bee, indeed.

Against Idleness and Mischief

How doth the little busy Bee
Improve each shining Hour,
And gather Honey all the day
From every opening Flower!

How skillfully she builds her Cell!
How neat she spreads the Wax!
And labors hard to store it well
With the sweet Food she makes.

In Works of Labor or of Skill
I would be busy too:
For Satan finds some Mischief still
For idle Hands to do.

In Books, or Work, or healthful Play
Let my first Years be past,
That I may give for every Day
Some good Account at last.

Isaac Watts

From the Archives: WORDLE: A Nifty Little Tool for Writers

To celebrate the one year anniversary of my blog (March 13th), I’m publishing select posts throughout the year under the title “From the Archives” for those who may have missed them the first time around. Next up:

 

Wordle: A Nifty Little Tool for Writers

I stumbled across this program a while back and recently tried to recall the name because I thought it might be a useful tool for writers. Well, I was reading through the comments on Kristen Lamb’s blog (if you haven’t been there you must check it out) and, what do you know, there it was: the name of the program that had eluded me.

So, what the heck is Wordle?

Wordle is a program used to create word art from text. Words that occur more frequently are visually amplified (displayed in a larger font).  While this makes for some pretty cool art (just explore Pinterest and you will find all kinds of creative art using Wordle), there are other benefits too. For example, you can summarize survey results to see the most popular answers or pinpoint the main idea of an online discussion.

I’m sure by now you can guess the benefit for writers. It will magnify the words used most often in your writing. This can help you find words you are overusing, like those pesky little adverbs!

After I came across the post with the reference to Wordle, I jumped on the internet to find it. You can find it here: www.wordle.net. You may need to enable JAVA applets in your browser (the website provides instructions), but it’s fairly easy to use. Just paste the text into the window and press the “go” button.

I pasted my MS into the application and generated the Wordle. I discovered that the main characters in my novel were the most prominently displayed words. The next largest word was “back.” Huh? Do I really overuse that word?

I toggled back to my manuscript and read back through the document. I glanced back and forth between my MS and the Wordle. I was puzzled. Okay, not really, just surprised. I had no idea I used that word so often. I went on a search and destroy mission and discovered that in all but a few instances the word was unnecessary. UNNECESSARY! Wow, what a helpful little tool.

I wondered what the Wordle of the work of a famous author would look like. Well, there was no way I was going to type War and Peace into a document but I did happen to have a digital copy of one of Tolstoy’s short stories. I pasted A Spark Neglected Burns the House into the window and waited for a visual representation. Here is what it looks like.

Tolstoy Wordle

Hey, there’s that word again: “back.” It’s in yellow font next to Gabriel. It’s somewhat prominent in his story. I don’t feel so bad about my overuse, but don’t regret removing it either. I generated a few others for comparison purposes.

The Fiddler by Herman Melville

The Fiddler by Herman Melville

The End of the Party by Graham Greene

The End of the Party by Graham Greene

The main characters were the most prominently displayed words in all three Wordles. You can get a general idea what the story is about by looking at the remaining jumble of words. Okay, well, maybe not, but it looks cool! If anything it would be an artistic way to display your creative work once it’s published. 🙂

Legends of Windemere: Family of the Tri-Rune Cover Reveal!

Cover Art by Jason Pedersen
Cover Art by Jason Pedersen

Legends of Windemere: Family of the Tri-Rune is set to debut on Sunday, March 16th!!!

The magical adventure continues after Luke Callindor and his friends recover from their battles in Haven.

Nyx still has nightmares about casting the genocide spell in Hero’s Gate. Every night her heart is gripped by the sensation of hundreds of goblins dying by her magic. By the request of Lord Highrider and Duke Solomon, she is returning to fix the damage she caused. With Luke Callindor and Sari by her side, Nyx is ready to face the vengeful goblins and opportunistic thieves that plague Hero’s Gate. Yet, there is a darker threat that was born from her violated magic: The Krypters.

It is another action-packed, character driven story that will reveal one of our heroes has been lied to for their entire life.

About the Author:

Charles author photo B&WCharles Yallowitz was born and raised on Long Island, NY, but he has spent most of his life wandering his own imagination in a blissful haze. Occasionally, he would return from this world for the necessities such as food, showers, and Saturday morning cartoons. One day he returned from his imagination and decided he would share his stories with the world. After his wife decided that she was tired of hearing the same stories repeatedly, she convinced him that it would make more sense to follow his dream of being a fantasy author. So, locked within the house under orders to shut up and get to work, Charles brings you Legends of Windemere. He looks forward to sharing all of his stories with you and his wife is happy he finally has someone else to play with.

Blog: Legends of Windemere

Twitter: @cyallowitz

Facebook: Charles Yallowitz

We’re still taking volunteers for the April blog tour. So fill out the form HERE!

Read the Previous Volumes of Legends of Windemere!!!

Cover Art by Jason Pedersen
Cover Art by Jason Pedersen

Cover Art by Jason Pedersen
Cover Art by Jason Pedersen

Cover by Jason Pedersen
Cover by Jason Pedersen

Volunteer: Legends of Windemere Blog Tour Sign Up!

Help spread the word about the next book in The Legends of Windemere series!

The D/A Dialogues

Charles Yallowitz

, that prolific scribe of Windemere, is getting ready to release

The Legends of Windemere: Family of the Tri-Rune

, and he needs your help!

Cover art by Jason Pedersen Cover art by Jason Pedersen

Cover Art by Jason Pedersen Cover Art by Jason Pedersen

CALLING FOR VOLUNTEERS FOR 2 EVENTS!

We’re getting close to the debut of Legends of Windemere: Family of the Tri-Rune. So, now is the time to get volunteers for these events.

  • Cover Reveal- This is a simple revelation of the cover, book blurb, and author information, which will occur on Wednesday, March 12, 2014. The author will be sending an HTML file of this to all volunteers.
  • April Blog Tour- Like last time, the author will give a day to each volunteer to make their post and he’ll do a thank you post in return. Any authors who join will have their book mentioned in that post along with any social media…

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Author Interview – Seumas Gallacher

An interview with indie author and crazy Irishman Seumas Gallacher 🙂

An Author's View

I’m delighted to be hosting Seumas Gallacher on An Author’s View again. For a while now I’ve been a huge fan of Seumas’s highly entertaining and often hilarious blog, andprofile I’ve recently read and enjoyed the first of his gripping thrillers THE VIOLIN MAN’S LEGACY. I can highly recommend both. Seumas was kind enough to submit a guest post to An Author’s View a few weeks ago which proved to be very popular, and today he’s visited me in Blogland to chat about his life, his work and his inspirations. Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome – SEUMAS GALLACHER.

Alison – Good morning Seumas – or good whatever time it is where you are! Thank you for stopping by today and allowing me to bombard you with questions. What made you decide to write action packed thrillers? Is it a favourite genre (or should that be jongrrrr?) of yours to read?

Seumas – I like any…

View original post 1,140 more words

An Excerpt of Captive at Christmas by Danielle Taylor

captiveCover Image

#GetCaptive

After a particularly harsh break-up, Hannah Magnus decides to spend Christmas away from her Vancouver home, enjoying a little time for herself, and picking up the pieces of her broken heart. She crosses the border into Washington State and locates the idyllic cabin that will serve as her home for the next two weeks.

Mackenzie Dunlop is a man of action and reaction. A creation of his past and his profession. When he travels to the cabin he rented to stay in until the repairs on his house are complete, there is a surprise waiting…and Mac loathes surprises.

Thrown together in the least likely of circumstances, Mac and Hannah find solace in each other after a harrowing event. But the future holds no promise for either of them. Distance and circumstances stand in their way. Will love prevail? Or will Hannah and Mac remain two solitary souls sharing love and memories, living separate lives?

Amazon:

US:http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00H8XOCEC

UK:http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00H8XOCEC

CA:http://www.amazon.ca/dp/B00H8XOCEC

Author links:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Author-Danielle-Taylor/217716295040976

Twitter: https://twitter.com/DTaylor_Author

Blog: http://authordtaylor.wordpress.com/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/19226935

WattPad: http://www.wattpad.com/user/authordanielletaylor

danielle taylor button

Bio: Author. Coffee Addict. Reader. Supporter of indie authors, troops, cake makers, and more. Danielle Taylor is the author of the Captive Hearts Series and the WattPad sensation Falling for You, which broke 100,000 reads in less than a week.

Excerpt:

“John?”

Damn that name.

Why didn’t he tell her the truth?

Fear seemed the most logical explanation – fear of losing his heart to someone that might turn out to be something other than what they portrayed themselves as.

Fear of giving himself over to something that he did not deserve and losing them, after he lost his heart.

“Hey.” Hannah removed her glove and pressed her warm hand to his stubble-roughened cheek. He forced his eyes open. “It’s okay, John. You can be yourself around me. I’m no stranger to the effects that war and violence can have on the people who protect us from our enemies.” She searched him with her eyes. “I think I have a pretty good idea of the things you may have done and gone through in the name of your country and freedom. And I want you to know that it’s okay to feel deserving of friendship, even love.”

This woman kept shocking him. Mac detested the feeling. Like she could possibly know what he had done. And if she truly knew, Hannah most certainly would not be standing there with so much compassion in her eyes. She would be running from him faster than she ever ran before.

“John,” she captured his attention once more, forcing him to meet her gaze. “It’s okay. Really.”

The harsh rasp of air escaping his body was ragged and hunger-filled, displaying the constant desire he experienced in her company. He needed to control his thoughts and emotions around this woman. A low growl sounded in his chest and Mac shook her hand from his face, immediately missing the feel of her skin on his.

“You don’t have a fucking clue what is and isn’t okay when it comes to me, Hannah, so stop trying to understand me! Jesus Christ! Just…stop trying to fix me! I’m not some fucking shelter dog who needs your charity!”

Wide eyed, she stuttered, “B-but I never–”

“Keep walking,” Mac instructed, harsh and furious. “And whatever you’re thinking about me, you’re wrong. You don’t know me and you don’t goddamned well want to!”

Teaser Tuesday: Andromeda Rising by James Ramsey

Today’s teaser comes from Andromeda Rising by James Ramsey. I won a copy of the book in a virtual book tour and recently received my signed copy from James.

andromedarisingsignedI’m not one of those people who will go to great lengths to get an autograph. In fact, the chance that I will ask for an autograph is pretty much nil. Just not my thing, I guess.

But I must confess I felt all giddy when this book arrived in the mail. It is one of two autographed books I own. The other book is signed by Dan Rather but this one means more because it is tangible proof that yet another one of my blogging friends has published a book. Pretty cool stuff. Thanks for the book James. I’m really enjoying it!

Here is an excerpt:

“I held my breath as one of the small shadows came closer. The amulet on my chest began to vibrate softly, barely more than a hint of a humming–something to ask Mateo about if we lived through this.”

Here is the book description from Goodreads:

I should have been paying attention. Growing up on the run from religious fanatics gave me more than a few good reasons to be careful, but I was just too tired to be as vigilant as I should have been.  My mind was occupied with my latest case—a missing nine year old girl. I was usually good at my job, but sometimes I needed a little extra help from magick. I always managed to track down a cheating spouse or the occasional runaway, but now it seemed more children were missing from the streets of Seattle and nothing I did worked.

A cat jumped on my shoulder and jerked me from my exhaustion induced stupor.  I spun into a defensive crouch only to see the cat had landed on the sidewalk behind me.

Time seemed to stop for a moment when the cat spoke.

“RUN!”

My name is Jocelyn Matthews and if I live through tonight, I’ll tell you all about my life as a witch.

Now click on the link above and get your copy today!

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Guest Blog: Maniacal Mal’s Monster Market by Charles Yallowitz

Please welcome my first guest blogger, Charles Yallowitz, author of the Legends of Windemere fantasy series. You can find my (not so typical) review of the first book, Beginning of a Hero in the post, Whisked Off to the Magical World of Windemere: One Reader’s Adventure. His newly released Prodigy of Rainbow Tower is available on Amazon at just 99 cents for the month of August. Join the adventure and pick up one or both of his books today.

I follow Charles’ blog faithfully because:

  1. He writes fantasy fiction (one of my favorite genres),
  2. The content of his blog is interesting and informative (especially for aspiring authors who want to self-publish),
  3. I’m generally always guaranteed a laugh, if not in the post then in his interactions with others in the comments section, and
  4. I love to see Ionia (no last name necessary) pick on him. Don’t be surprised if she takes a stab at him here.

And now, drum roll please, the inaugural guest blogger post.

Maniacal Mal’s Monster Market

www.zazzle.co.uk
http://www.zazzle.co.uk

Welcome to Maniacal Mal’s Monster Market!  So, I’m told you’re going to write a story and use some monsters.  We have everything in stock from dragons to zombies to four-faced catfish that eat ships.  What do we call that last one?  Name it whatever you want.  Last author called it behemoth and the guy before that leviathan.  I believe the person before that simply called it Burt.

I see you’re interested in the undead area.  They’re a common choice these days, so we have a lot of specials on zombies.  Buy one horde and get three special zombies free to use when the plot needs a surprise.  I’ll leave the explanations behind them to you since I’m not the one writing the story.  If you’re interested we also have some skeletons.  Not as scary and mostly sold for children’s movies these days.  The rest of the undead are in the back collecting dust.  I hear mummies might be coming back.  I know.  Everyone loves zombies.  The zombie obsession is putting thirty kids through college and only two of them are mine.

We have a lot of aliens that we’re trying to get rid of.  We thought there would be a surge of unique alien types after M.I.B 3, but people still want the tall, bipedal gangly ones.  For those, we give you the basic model and you can alter in the transformer tube.  Still, I would like to point out that we’re practically giving away the non-humanoid aliens.  No?  They’re going to be used for dragon food by the end of the week, so now’s the time.  Sure, I’ll get that fluffy . . . oh . . . do you want the alien that ate the fluffy one?

I wouldn’t go over there unless you’re sure you want one of those.  That building has the orcs, goblins, and other humanoid creatures you find in fantasy novels.  We have a few samples in there and bulk order the others if you decide.  The problem is that they’re incredibly needy and have been known to board the doors until a customer chooses one.  Ever wonder why you’ll read a fantasy book and a lone hobgoblin is shown for some reason?  This would be why.  Makes no sense since they’re pack creatures and the loners that go out never come back alive.  They may look ugly, but they can die of loneliness like the rest of us.

What was that?  No.  You’re too green for Cthulu.  Don’t even ask where we keep him.

I can see you want the big monsters for those death-defying fights.  Come out onto the balcony and I’ll show you the reserve.  See all those roaring, screeching, and deadly beasties?  We have dragons, giants, griffins, pegasi, unicorns, and whatever else you can remember from your childhood.  Each one can be altered to your whim or you can choose from the catalogue where we keep all the previous ideas.  All we ask is that you return them intact, so you’ll get a rebuilding kit for when they’re slain.  Small word of warning on the dragons: they really appreciate lozenges and mints.  Give them some of those and your furniture will be fire free until you’re done.

I see you have that glint in your eyes.  You’ve made a decision?  Ah, you want some unique monsters.  For that, we would have to go to the Egg Dispenser.  You sit in the chair and look at all the choices of body parts, powers, and whatever else is in the machine.  We put a special helmet on you to pick out any options that aren’t listed.  You piece your monster together and we give you the egg, so it will imprint on you upon hatching.  Once you’re done with it, you can keep the monster or send it back for store credit.

Made your decision?  Okay.  That’ll be three dragons with one red, one black, and one pink.  You want five snake monsters and a couple hundred ogres.  You know, we have a deal where you get a free demon if you buy a fourth dragon.  Great.  I suggest an orange one because you don’t see them very often.  Would you like anything else?  Three eggs to be determined after lunch.  Excellent.  Glad to do business with you.  Mind if I ask what series you’re working on?  Legends of Windemere . . . sounds interesting.  Good luck.