Tuesday, August 30, 2011

How well do you know your characters?

All through the how to books, you will find some writers put plot over character development and some the other way around. In my world, the two go hand and hand. The characters create the plot; the plot creates the characters.

When I begin a new project, my first step is to capture an idea germ. These little creatures come in many shapes and forms and can appear anywhere. My next step is to brainstorm around the idea germ. Who is the character? What does she want? How will she reach her goal? Who will stop her? What if the villain turns out to be a nice guy? And on and on goes the questions.

Then it’s time to get to know my characters. Usually through the brainstorming session at least 3-4 characters will show themselves and volunteer to be participants in the story at hand.

In short stories and novellas, the characters usually grow in my head. But with my work-in-progress, a novel, I’m feeling a need to really get in touch with these characters and what motivates them. The story is on the complex side and the better I know these people I’ll be spending so much time with the better we’ll all be.

I believe the information needed about your characters may depend on the story at hand and how long you anticipate on spending with them. That’s not to say knowing your character is any less important with a short piece.

Through the years, I’ve read many suggestions on getting to know your characters. From information sheets, to character interviews, and even producing scenes just to see how they react. I believe the depth and technique you use will depend on you as an author. You may not need to know your character’s favorite color or her favorite food. But, knowing such things can give you added insight you may find useful during your time with your new family.

Ask yourself, “What is my favorite color? In what way does this affect my everyday life?” Does it?

I’m partial to blues, maroons, and browns. I feel this aspect of me does affect my life to a certain degree. I find these colors to be earthly colors, but others may find them boring. What does this say about me? I think it has to do with my down to earth nature, my mature and responsible attitude. Not to say anything’s wrong with hot pink. It’s a fun color, but you probably won’t see me wearing it, at least not on a normal day.

Did your character have a happy childhood? Did you have a happy childhood? How did this affect you during your teenage years, your adult years? If you really think about it, a person’s likes, dislikes, childhoods, parents, and so on, make us who we are. So, why would it be any different for our characters?

Some authors take it further by producing birth charts, reading tarot cards, and even shopping as their character.

How well do you know your characters? How deep do you go?

Friday, August 26, 2011

Procrastinators Unite! Tomorrow

Are you a procrastinator?

Do you put off what you could do today till tomorrow?

Or are you creating quietly in your head?

It is important to realize that all lazy days are not actually a waste of time. Our minds work 24/7 - or at least mine is continuously rattling away, lol. Sometimes you are preparing for your next step, rather you realize it or not.

This preparation could be for a creative project, or life.

Someone brought it to my attention, "I am a thinker." I'm not sure if it was meant as a compliment or not, but the truth was spoken. My mind is never still. Even in sleep it goes on, creating the most bizarre things you could imagine.

Is this a good thing? Sometimes, yes - sometimes, no. As a thinker, I also find I am a worrier, but not as much as I have been in the past. Most of my thinking now  revolves around my next project, whatever it might be.

So, the next time, you feel defeated at the end of the day because nothing was achieved, think back over the day. How many times did you think of what needed to be done? How much of that time was spent deciding in what order to accomplish this goal? Did you have a quick moment of thought on that next scene in your book and jot down the one sentence moment of inspiration?

Sometimes our best ideas come forth while we are doing nothing at all.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Paradise 21 by Aubrie Dionne

Paradise 21 takes you on a ride you’ll never forget.

Aries finds herself trapped in a world where she has no choices. As a Lifer, her husband and profession are chosen for the good of future generations.

Determined to be her own person, Aries takes the ultimate risk and escapes the confines of New Dawn, a ship traveling toward Paradise 21. Landing on her targeted planet, Aries finds more than she ever expected – dangerous life forms and another human.

Aubrie Dionne did a wonderful job. The story is well-written, vivid, and heart touching. I’d recommend this read to anyone who enjoys a fast-paced story that delves into a sweet romance set in a futuristic atmosphere.


Friday, August 19, 2011

Blogging - Your Target Audience

The top discussion around writing blogs seems to be whether picking writers as your target audience is the wrong direction for a published author. Some believe this isn’t the best way to get readers for your publications.

When I began blogging, my goal was to build a following and meet others interested in the same things I am. The main suggestion I found was to blog about what you enjoy. Writing and Tarot became my topics of choice, and the results were two different blogs. I’ve built a following on both my blogs. I enjoy my readers and my article writing. 

So now that I’m published - Am I supposed to concentrate on a new, different audience?
I’ve thought about this from different angles.

What blogs do I follow? Writing and tarot blogs
How do I decide what to read? Reviews, recommendations, and favorite writers

How do I find these reviews, get recommendations, and discover favorite writers? Writing blogs
If I changed to writing about my cats, my cross-stitching, and my job, would I gain a new audience? Sure, but would that bring them to read my book? I wouldn’t think so, but it is possible, I guess.

Would I enjoy writing about such things? Maybe an article or two, but definitely not a whole blog. My life revolves around writing, tarot, and other spiritual matters. The rest really isn’t that interesting. Don’t get me wrong, I love my cats, enjoy my cross-stitching, and well the job is a job, nothing more.

Tuesday, I went in a different direction with the blog and shared an interesting tidbit I discovered during research. I enjoyed writing the post, and I hope some enjoyed the topic. The response for this post will determined how many more posts will appear similar in nature. But for the biggest part, the blog is not changing.
I plan to do more interviews, guest posts, and book reviews, but that was already a part of the blog, so not much difference there, just more of it, which is actually just a part of the plan for more posts overall.

At this moment, the schedule on Footsteps of a Writer is Tuesday and Friday writing related posts, and Wednesday has been set aside for any promotional type posts. I’ll be over at Tarot Guidance on Sundays and Thursdays. Saturday and Monday are my days off from blogging. This schedule was only recently decided upon, so you will notice it gets off track over the next couple of weeks due to previously scheduled guest posts, but bear with me as I get settled into the new routine.
Happy Friday!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Living with Half a Brain

While exploring new story ideas, I tend to venture onto Google and research a little. My latest idea brought me to an article I found interesting. Sometimes Google leads me astray, but I feel there’s a point in such directions, so I read if it catches my attention. Can a human survive with only half a brain? The logical answer would be no. Or perhaps yes, but the person would be a vegetable. Right?

During my wanderings, I discovered a person can indeed live with half a brain or even a small sliver. Now don’t ask me to explain how. I haven’t the slightest idea.

A Chinese woman, discovered to only have the right side ofher brain, lives a normal life.

A 44 year old male, only having a tiny amount of brain matter, lives a perfectly normal life with his wife and two children.

The article goes into more details and theories on the question: if one can function without part of their brain, than how can it be different parts of the brain control different aspects, when these two people are perfectly normal without all the parts?
I’m sure you are wondering what this topic could possibly have to do with something I would write. Paranormal Research, of course. I was looking for the term related to someone creating physical matter with their mind. And although the article I found finally made it to this topic, it wasn’t exactly what I was looking for, but how interesting is it to know that you can indeed live with only part of your brain?   
Could it be that the conscious is more powerful than we are lead to believe? Do we actually create our own reality with our conscious? And if this is all valid, why could we not create physical items with our consciousness?
Would you like see more topics such as this on the blog? Articles I come across during Google sessions, what if scenarios and brainstorming session posts? I’m attempting to broaden my readership, but don’t want to lose my follows who already support me. I’d love to hear your thoughts on directions you might want to see the blog take.

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Restorer by Amanda Stevens

Amanda Stevens sweeps you away in this tale of Amelia Gray, a graveyard restorer who sees ghosts. Warned by her father to never acknowledge them, among other rules, Amelia finds herself breaking the rules and getting into trouble and love.

This is one of those rare books you find you can't put down. The writing is smooth and flows extremely well. Best of all, this is the first in a series. There's more to come.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good ghost story, mystery, and exceptional writing. The Restorer (The Graveyard Queen) is a series I will continue to follow.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Author Branding

With my debut novella, Escape to Love, and more projects on the rise, I’ve been thinking a lot about author branding. I can honestly say I revolt at the concept of being pigeonholed as a particular type of writer. Limiting what I write, or writing under another name seems like a punishment.

Do you, as a reader, not take the time to look over a book before buying? Even if it’s Stephen King, I read the blurb and the first few pages before making the purchase.

Don’t get me wrong. I do understand the concept and the benefits, but is it necessary?

My published short stories are all suspense thrillers. My recent novella is a historical romance. I have a children’s story book under contract, and a paranormal romance under consideration. My novel in progress is a paranormal suspense thriller.

Does an author have to pick one road and stick to it?

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Character Interview - Constance Spenser

I’d like to welcome Constance Spenser, the main character of Escape to Love, to the blog.

Blurb - Constance Spenser is no ordinary woman, and neither are her problems. Unhappy in her life, she seeks knowledge of the spiritual side of life, but what she finds is another world, a world where she has no place. She must gain the council’s trust and discover a way home, but in her attempt she finds herself falling for the enemy. Can she survive long enough to discover her destiny?

Constance, would you like to tell us a little about yourself?

My creator claims I’m no ordinary woman, but to tell you the truth I’m very ordinary. I enjoy the company of my cat, Angelica. We both love the outdoors. Reading and crocheting are my favorite pastimes. That is, when I’m not cooking. Love to cook.

When your story begins, we find you playing with witchcraft. Can you tell us a little about that?

Oh, that. It was a phase. I’d just come out of a confusing relationship and needed to re-discover myself. What woman hasn’t experienced that at least once in her life? I’ve packed away my tools. All I need is nature to connect with my spirit guides. It’s very freeing.

How well do you like your creator?

She’s a good girl, very down to earth.

Do you think she’ll have you reappear in later stories?

That would be nice, but I haven't heard any news. The latest rumor is of explorations into Esmeralda's storyline. Not sure how much truth there is to it, but I’d love to come back and be a part of that. Esmeralda’s a wonderful woman, and her son is just adorable.

Is there anything you’d like to share with the readers?

I hope you all enjoy my adventure, I sure did. What could be more exciting than a handsome man pulling you under his wing, protecting you from the bad guys? Oh sure, it was a little scary, the threat of being hanged can’t be taken lightly. I guess I better hush before I give too much away. Look forward to hearing what you all think about the story.

Thanks for joining us Constance. We all hope to see you in the future.

If anyone has any questions for Constance or her creator, feel free to ask. Please refrain from question which would result in spoilers.

Have a wonderful Thursday!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Escape to Love Review

Another great review!

The second review of Escape to Love is available at Joylene Butler's Blog. Joylene begins her review with, "Constance Spenser, an aspiring witch, considers herself ordinary, but she has more magic in her than even she realizes." Pop over to read the rest of this review.

Thank you all for your support.

For anyone who hasn't signed up for the monthly newsletter, you can see what you are missing at my archived newsletter page. I hope you decide to join me in this wonderful journey by subscribing.

Escape to Love has been included in the anthology, Sweethearts In Bloom, available for purchase.

Interested in the Tarot? Check out my latest post, Tarot Cards Misbehaving.

Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

New Guy In Town - Joylene Butler

We have a guest today. Joylene Butler is the author of the suspense thrillers, Dead Witness and Broken but not Dead. Copies of her books can be purchased at Theytus Books, Book and Company, and Amazon.ca

New Guy in Town

2011 © Joylene Nowell Butler
There’s a new guy in town and his name is Deep POV. I know what you’re thinking: Omniscient, Third, First, and now Deep! Give me a break!
Honestly, Deep POV is actually a kewl guy who will give your scenes new life. Remember when you were a kid and you’d be sitting on the toilet trying to pee and your mum would yell through the door, “Hurry up!” And because you were all due for Sunday dinner at Grandma’s (or someone equally important), exasperated mum would burst in, turn on the faucet--and voila! Wonder of wonders. My mother is gone now, but when she visited, I locked the bathroom door.
Many good writers struggle over POV. But they needn’t. It’s like peeing whenever you hear running water. In time it becomes a natural process. It’s like riding a bicycle; once you learn, you never forget. In order to trust your instincts and pick the POV that best suits your particular story, you need to understand your choices. Deep POV is just one more choice.
To recap, let’s agree that Omni is a god-like character for a reason. Like God, Omni knows everything. Where writers make a mistake is thinking Omni means head-hopping. It doesn’t.
Omni is the novel’s camera. Omni shows you, he doesn’t tell you what’s happening. Imagine what it would be like if every single time you watched a movie and the camera moved to a new character, there was a new voice over. It would drive you nuts. And like everybody else, you’d do one of three things: leave the theatre, switch the channel, or eject the DVD.
That’s why when I work with writers who choose Omni, I remind them Omni should never appear in the story. He’s the narrator/host who takes us on a journey and shows us what happens.
Unlike the formal Omni, Third person draws the camera closer so that we experience intimacy with the character. We hear what he hears, see what he sees, feel what he feels, taste what he tastes, and read what he thinks. If the protagonist doesn’t experience it, we don’t. That simple. “Jump inside the head of your protagonist” effectively describes the technique.
Today on television Deep POV is nicely illustrated on Dexter and reruns like Veronica Mars. Voiceover makes the experience of watching those shows more intimate. We’re privy to information directly from the star of the show, or in the case of novels, the protagonist.
Deep POV, a combination of 1st person (intimate) and third (limited) lets us experience the pure expression of a character’s being without anything being filtered. There’s no he felt, he thought, he said. It’s all immediate, personal, no tell.
Why bother using Deep POV? I promise you nothing pulls your reader in faster and allows him to instantly appreciate and care about your character. You’ve made them forget they’re reading a book, and instead, they’ll be immediately drawn right into the heart of the story.
Here’s some crude, but simple examples:
He felt his heart break … becomes:
She spoke, and inside his chest – snap! His heart broke in two.

“Kiss me, baby,” she teased, and grinned widely. … becomes:
“Kiss me, baby.” Gripes, if she grinned any wider her cheeks would crack.

Joylene, thank you so much for joining us today.
I hope everyone enjoyed our guest and her thoughts on deep Pov. I'm actively seeking out guest bloggers for the blog. If you'd like to be a part of the blog, contact me and I'll get you set up with a date to join us.
Happy Tuesday!

Blog Directory