Monday, January 30, 2017

Character Sketches

How to bring your characters to life.
Assuming you've chosen your POV, you will already be thinking about your characters. True, too, you may have been thinking about your characters before choosing your POV. The two go hand in hand, or word-for-word.
In order to flesh out your characters and give them ample zing, it's a good idea to make lists of attributes for each player in the plot. However thorough, you must then write your scenes to fit each character. That is, each scene that you write when a character appears in the story should reveal what you planned for him or her when you made your list, and how you planned for them to act.
Of course, as the story develops, any character may take on a different persona than you first imagined. That's not a problem. Amending the original sketch will suffice, keeping in mind how the new character image affects all the other characters and the plot overall.
I've always been interested in how characters are set up in stories. It's no longer good enough to list features and attributes in paragraph or outline form, which seems like we're looking at a person from head to toe and describing what we see. That's vital, but characters do something while they act out who they are. Sometimes one thing they do can set up the reader's impression of them for the entire story.
Here's my list of traits for the character Randy Osborne from my Egyptian suspense novel, The Ka:
Highly educated
Physical anthropologist
Works with biochemistry and genetics
Mama's boy
Totally insecure
Always eating
Short brown hair, greasy and matted
Wrinkled clothing
Kind of short
Embarrassing to be around
Obnoxious, to cover insecurities
Not very well liked
Dislikes Chione (the protagonist)
Thorn in everyone's side
After you make your list, the next practice that will prove immensely productive would be to write a paragraph or two incorporating those characteristics. Then the first time each character shows up in the plot, you'll be able to incorporate some of the qualities or lack thereof that you've assigned to them.
You do not need to use all the attributes in one paragraph when the character makes his or her entrance.
Simply use their habits and traits soon as possible to help round out that personality. If the story goes too far along without clueing your reader as to what they can expect from each character, those characters will seem flat or unimportant.
Here is Randy's character sketch from the completed novel:
"Everyone looked to Randy, who stood supported with a hand on the back of a chair, flagging a leg back and forth as if his underwear might be caught in the wrong place. Then he lifted the leg a couple of times in a last ditch effort to end his discomfort. His personal habits were reason for a good snicker among the tight knit team, who could politely ridicule one another, then laugh. At times, criticism from any of them seemed all in jest, a way this group of high-strung colleagues dealt with stress.
"At other times, Randy's behavior was repulsive. He seemed to take great pleasure in eating all the time and, thanks to his mother packing his lunch, he always had an ample supply nearby to pick at. His continual weight gain and lack of personal hygiene turned people off. He always looked sweaty and wrinkled, with matted hair. No one relished the idea of sharing a tent with him in the heat of the desert. Finally, he reached behind himself and gave the seat of his pants a tug. Not the kind of professional posture one would expect from a Physical Anthropologist who worked with genetics and biochemistry."
This is similar to the rough paragraph I wrote soon after making the list of attributes for Randy. When I got to the first part in the story where I needed to show him in action and give the reader the full blast of what they could expect from him, I was shocked to find I had already written what I needed!
This paragraph appears as soon as Randy ridiculously makes a big issue of something in the story. After that, we know full well what to expect from him as the story proceeds.
Readers know that all characters go through what is called a character arc which is more fully explained in another of my articles. That's when the character starts out as one persona and then changes to another by the end of the story. Sort of like the good-guy-gone-bad or vice-versa. Despicable Randy goes through a shocking metamorphosis but, well…. I'll leave that for another article.

Mary Deal is an award-winning author of suspense/thrillers, a short story collection, writers' references, and self-help. She is a Pushcart Prize nominee, Artist and Photographer, and former newspaper columnist and magazine editor.

She has traveled most of her life and has a lifetime of many and diverse experiences, all of which remain in memory as fodder for her fiction. A native of California's Sacramento River Delta, where some of her stories are set, she has also lived in England, the Caribbean, and now resides in Honolulu, Hawaii. Having traveled a bit, she continues to paint and use her art and photography to create gorgeous products.



Author, Painter, Photographer
Eric Hoffer Book Award Winner
National Indie Excellence Book Awards Finalist (past)
Pushcart Prize Nominee
Global eBook Awards Nominee
2014 National Indie Excellence Book Awards Finalist
Global eBook Awards Bronze
Global eBook Awards Silver
Art Gallery:
Gift Gallery:*

Thursday, January 26, 2017

A personal road map for spiritual growth

A personal road map for spiritual growth
Dr. Cockrum-Murphy has provided a personal road map for a spiritual journey to enlightenment for anyone willing to embrace the message. She has provided a gift that is a must read for all.  ~ Lynda Hemann, PhD., LISAC

As the illusion of the material world melts, communion with angels, ancestors, teachers and masters becomes common place when Lynne Cockrum-Murphy shows we are all guided throughout our lives. This awareness and self-realization is available to anyone who seeksUnfolding the Mystery of Self – We Are Never Alone is a descriptive illustration of the author's development of her spiritual path, intuitive awareness and deep inner peace. In an easy-to-read style, this book illuminates transition from her early life traumas and discouragement to gracious awareness of All That Is. Sharing wisdom from spiritual teachers and insights from mystical experiences, the possibilities beyond our physical lives become real.
PO Box 1223, Conifer, CO 80433

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Wednesday, January 25, 2017

The End of Sagging Middles by Mary Deal


Many books I've read start off with great beginnings and even end with surprises. However, their middles left me wondering why I should keep reading. Truth is, the beginning had set up a situation I wanted to see to completion, so I read to the end, but getting through the middle was nearly an arduous task.
You've heard the term sagging middles, right? Many books begin and end in a spectacular manner but the middles offer little. In order to keep your story from developing a sagging middle, you must keep the action going.
In a crime investigation, have some clues show up, only to be disproved. Or have the perpetrator almost caught but gets away.
In science fiction, when the hero flies to a distant planet to rescue his love, have him meet with landing bays locked down tight with no other access to the dying star which will eventually explode. He further meets resistance from ships guarding the planet who want to see it explode into oblivion, taking all inhabitants with it.
In a romance, have two people falling in love, only to have one person come in contact with the person with whom they were previously involved in a obsessive and addictive affair.
The prescription for sagging middles in all genres is to bolster the action by keeping it going. Anything new can happen in the middle of a story as long as it follows the rest of the action and is written in such a manner as to not look contrived to hold the beginning and ending together. Whatever happens must be natural to what was offered in the beginning. Whatever is offered in the middle must also be instrumental in bring about the plot's stunning conclusion.
What action is included should serve to keep the conflict and great tension building throughout. By building in intensity, you not only hold interest through your story middle but set up a more dramatic ending.
Mary Deal

Author, Painter, Photographer
Eric Hoffer Book Award Winner
National Indie Excellence Book Awards Finalist (past)
Pushcart Prize Nominee
Global eBook Awards Nominee
2014 National Indie Excellence Book Awards Finalist
Global eBook Awards Bronze
Global eBook Awards Silver
Art Gallery:
Gift Gallery:*

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Love, lust & betrayal...

Love, lust & betrayal...
I couldn't put it down. I literally read it cover to cover in 3.5 hrs. This was a fantastic book with excellent use of a refreshing variety of literary devices from flashbacks to foreshadowing. One of the things I enjoyed most about it was the way the book concluded with an amazing roller coaster ride over the last 3 chapters. Also included a delightfully accurate description of the actual local area that it's set in.  ~ Mike T.
When wealthy Charlotte Phillips-Pierce is found murdered on a trail, Detective Parker Williams finds himself with a long list of suspects. Who would want to kill her? Or, as her son tells Parker, who wouldn't?

From her children to the murderer she once befriended, the list of suspects seems endless. As Parker delves deeper into the circumstances of her death, a life of privilege, greed, sex, dark family secrets, and lies begins to unfold.

The sins of the past emerge, leading to a showdown with a killer.

Told in a series of flashbacks, from the Swinging Sixties of Europe to the Free Love Seventies of the United States and beyond, this is the story of how one woman's idyllic life and trust is shattered forever by one brutal, unspeakable act. One that changes her life, and the lives of those around her forever, setting in motion a path that ultimately leads to murder.

Susan M. Viemeister has long been fascinated by things that go bump in the night. She realizes things aren't always as they appear to be, which she brings to life in a captivating, thrilling way in her novels. Living in an antebellum farmhouse in rural Virginia, where things really do go bump in the night, has reinforced this belief. From the time she was a small child, telling ghost stories on dark, summer nights, to the present, Susan enjoys sharing these possibilities with her readers.
PO Box 1223, Conifer, CO 80433

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Sunday, January 15, 2017

A government cover up that destroyed many lives...

A government cover up that destroyed many lives...

"I loved this book!! What a matter​-​of​-​fact inspirational story. I found it to ​be so ​heart felt, ​h​eart warming and genuine. It gives hope to the hopeless and faith to those struggling. ​Very empowering!" ~Brenda R.

cover up of one of the worst environmental disasters in the history of the United States took place at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina from 1957 to 1987. An estimated one million Marines and families were exposed to multiple sources of unregulated chemicals discovered in base drinking water systems. One specific chemical was benzene, a gasoline additive, which is a carcinogen known to cause cancer. One point one million gallons of gasoline leaked into the drinking water. This has been the subject of at least three congressional hearings over the last few years. Numerous documents containing explosive information have been unearthed. 

Another chemical was Trichloroethylene (TCE), a chlorinated solvent in fire extinguishers, aerosol propellants, degreasers, cleaning solutions, paint thinners, pesticides, and glues - to name a few.

PO Box 1223, Conifer, CO 80433

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Monday, January 9, 2017

Okay Is Not Good Enough by Jean Lauzier

This past spring, I attended a semi-local writer's conference. One of the speakers said that it was okay to publish a book that had errors in it. That it didn't matter, because you could always upload a revised version any time you want. He also said if you were to get a bad review due to the errors, that was okay too. You just need to grow a tough skin and ignore it. Then he stated that if the reader likes your story, they will buy your next book, even with all the errors. By the time I recovered my senses, he'd gone on to promote his "how to write and publish a book in thirty days or less" book.
I don't know about you, but I dislike a bunch of typos and grammar mistakes when trying to read. Sure, I understand a book will never be totally error-free, but we should strive to get as close as possible. I'm an avid reader and have returned books riddled with formatting issues and errors. And I certainly won't be buying anything else from them.
Authors such as this are the reason self-publishing still leaves a bad taste in many reader's mouths. And, I understand the legacy publishers aren't perfect, but they do try.
As an editor for a medium-sized publisher, I see many submissions that really aren't ready. Even though we require a professional edit before submitting, it's amazing how many manuscripts still need editing when we get them.
One thing I often see at the start of a submission is page upon page of backstory. Naturally, the author needs to know their characters' past. Especially since that character's past tends to have a bearing on the story at hand. But, it needs to be woven in. A little bit here, a little bit there. Yes, it's easier just to lump it all together, but many readers are going to skim over it or will close the book and find something more interesting.
Dialogue tags are another area where authors take the easy way. So many times, I see "he said angrily" or "she stated emphatically".  How much better it would be to add a beat such as "He slammed his fist into the wall." Or "She stomped her sneaker-clad foot."  Yes, doing it this way is a lot of work, but so worth it.
I think a lot of the problem is many authors don't study their craft. And it is a craft. A woodcarver doesn't become a master craftsman overnight. He spends years practicing, making mistakes, starting over, and continues learning.
Same thing with musicians. Sure, there is the occasional genius who doesn't need to practice, but those are few and far between. Most musicians start with the basics, practice and practice, then practice some more.
Writers must study our craft, too. We can't be content with "okay". When I read, I want to be transported into the story, to escape from my reality for a while. If I have to slog through ten or fifteen pages of backstory before something happens, I'll find another book. If grammar issues keep jerking me out of the story, I'll find one that doesn't.
As writers, we can't edit our own work. At least not well. We tend to read what we think should be there, what we meant to write. Many of us don't know all the nuances a professional editor should. (I'm still trying to figure out commas.) A professional editor is a writer's best friend and worth every penny they charge.  A professional editor wants your book to be the best it can be and will work hard to make it so.  And, that professional edit will get you an acceptance letter and publishing contract. 
I'm a mystery and fantasy writer who plays in a lot of different genres.  I'm also a mom and a wife. When not writing, doing social media stuff, or any of the 900 other things that need to be done, I kill bonsai trees, (not on purpose) try to train the cats, and spend time with our Doberman Pinschers, Mocha and Sonnet.

I'm also the Acquisitions Editor for White Bird Publications. I love reading submissions and working with writers to bring their dreams of publication true.
Jean Lauzier

When the Curse of Tutankahamen was unleashed, Elvis stepped in...

When the Curse of Tutankahamen was unleashed, Elvis stepped in...
As with Carolyn's books on Astrology I was impressed with her meticulous research and clever skills as a writer. The possibility of Elvis being the incarnate of King Tutankhamen seems so very possible as she brings together the lives and similarities of the two "Kings". It just so happened I finished the book the day before the anniversary of Elvis's death bringing an even deeper appreciation of Elvis and all he contributed to our lives. Thank you Carolyn for sharing your experience,knowledge and dream. This is one of those books that will have a lasting effect on my life. I was sad to read the words "The End".  ~Susan S.
A time travel about the reincarnation of Elvis Presley from King Tutankhamen, Kings of Memphis begins 3,400 years ago when the instructions of King Tut's carpenters were inadvertently reversed. The doors of King Tut's tomb should have been opened to the West so he could emerge and walk directly into the afterlife. Instead, on February 16, 1923, the doors opened to the East and the unthinkable happened. The famous Curse of Tutankhamen was unleashed until 1935 when the misfortunes appeared to have stopped, and when the new King of Memphis, Elvis Presley, was born. 

This book was written by a member of a small group of fans who had the privilege of spending time with Elvis in Bel Air in the 60's. Her account of actual events is interwoven throughout the novel. 

Elvis was interested in the metaphysical. Here are some of his quotes: "I don't believe that death is the end. Reincarnation has gotta be explains a lot about why people are the way they are." (and) (About Priscilla): "It's reincarnation. How else would a grown up man be so drawn to a fourteen-year-old-girl? She was only a dress rehearsal."

Interestingly enough, King Tut married his Queen Ankhesenamen, when she was only fourteen, just one of the eerily similar coincidences between the two.

The book has something for everyone, Elvis fans, King Tut fans, alternate history buffs, time travel enthusiasts, mystery readers, and fans of love stories. This love story is Elvis' search through the landscape of dreams for his lost soul mate, the beautiful Sataiu.

PO Box 1223, Conifer, CO 80433

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