Use a bit of Sense

When developing a character, I like to think of everything. it’s almost as if I place my character on it examination table.   I go over him from limb-to-limb, cell-to-cell, wondering what makes him tick.

I recently wanted to create a new character and take away one of his senses, but which one which would he lose? Then I thought, well which one would I lose willingly – or, at least, miss the least.

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Would have been my sense of sight? Would I miss watching a morning sunrise or looking into the face of a loved one? Would I miss looking into a garden seeing all the flowers in full bloom or watching a child take his first step? How could I enjoy a quiet snowfall or a thundering storm? No, this isn’t the sense I could lose.

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Maybe I wouldn’t mind losing the sense of smell? Goodness knows there’s enough things to smell throughout my day; the sweet scents coming from my garden flowers or the spicy fragrance from the herbs. Or, that home cooked meal, made from scratch, that you know will stay with you for the whole evening. Or the aroma of the first cup of coffee in the morning, helping wake you up to face your day. No, the sense of smell helps me get through the day, so I don’t want to lose that one either.

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What about the sense of hearing? I have two ears – would it be so awful to lose the sense of sound, or diminish the ability, from just one ear?  Then I remember the beautiful music that gets me through the day, and the sound of laughter from my friends as we share a quiet joke. Or the voice of the newscaster as he tells us what went on during the day and, most importantly, the sounds of my loved ones. No, even though I have two ears, this is one sense I do not want to lose either.

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And what about the sense of taste? It goes along with your sense of smell, but the sense of taste can also protect by keeping you from eating something that is bad. Yet, the special flavor of certain ingredients can help you devour a whole chocolate bar and smile afterwards. Certain distinguishing flavors can bring back memories of food  you’ve had before, like a seasonal fruit. There’s nothing like biting into that first strawberry of the season, or the Christmas cookies only gets baked once a year. While I might lose some weight if I lost my sense of taste, I wouldn’t want to give it up for one pound.

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Then there’s the sense of touch. This is sense can offer us protection by warning you if you are near something too hot or cold. It allows us the luxury of feeling a soft cashmere sweater on your skin, the sweet kiss from your lover. Or the sensation of the smoothness of our baby’s skin and the silkiness of your dog’s soft fur. I wouldn’t want to miss out on the joys the sense of touch can bring either.

I ponder long and hard, finally deciding I don’t want to lose any of my five senses. And it would be cruel-hearted to make my character loose one of theirs. How could I relate to what they’re going through when I can’t experience it myself? Besides, it would make for one miserable character.

So, cherish each of your senses and remember them as you write.

Let your characters feel all they are capable of. Weave each of the 5 senses into your words, so your reader knows what the character is feeling and experiencing.

 

Everyone loves a Villain

 

I recently spent an afternoon with my husband at one of the local tourist spots down here in Florida. I think you all know which one I mean…the main character has big ears and a long tail.

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Like about everybody else in the place I wanted to buy a souvenir. So, I was practical in this issue, and, since it was a hot sunny day, I decided on a ball cap. I examined the selection and saw all the favorite characters that everyone loves; the beautiful princess’s, cute animals and favorite cartoon characters. Then I found the one I had to have! It was embroidered around the cap with villains from the most popular stories and movies.  It surprised me that nobody else was picking it up to buy. It called out to me, with its deep purple color and my favorite villain characters. Characters that scared me when I was a child and made me laugh as an adult.

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This weekend as I was finishing up my first rough copy of the second book in my series, Storm Voices, and I had to do some serious thinking about the villain in my book. Because up until the ending, he’s been a very likeable character.

This made me realize how important the villain is to your story. It would be boring if everything was good in your story and nothing ever posed a challenge or a threat to your characters. Even cartoons have a villain character. It adds interest to the stories suspense, making the reader want to fight and cheer on the main character to defeat that evil villain.

Remember, you need to give your villain interest and depth. Give your reader a reason to cheer on the main character into defeating the villain. It’s up to the writer to make your reader love or hate the villain.

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You can create circumstances where the villain is a nice character and you feel sorry for him, or you can create circumstances where the villain is pure evil and you can’t wait to see him defeated. It’s critical, that your character is  strong; whether it’s the hero or the villain. In some of the best stories I’ve read by Agatha Christie; her hero turns out to be the villain. Now there’s a twist!

So, don’t flat-line your story with boring characters. You created a great hero, now give him the counterpart to make him shine. Make your villain the best you can, whether it be an evil persona or just somebody down on his luck making bad decisions.

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Remember, as a writer, it’s your job to create a villain that grabs your readers.

The Challenges We Face

Facing Challenges.

How do you react to a challenge?

Big or small, we’re faced with challenges every day. Some, it might be best to walk away from, but others can take your life in a whole new direction.

I’ve had serious challenges throughout the course of my life, as I’m sure you have. So I thought I’d share…

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The first one was in college I was in the landscape design program and I walked into a room full of men and three women. The instructor looked at us three women and said, “you’ll never make it through the first semester and you’ll never graduate”. Well, that put my back up against the wall and I accepted his challenge.  Surprise! I graduated with one of the highest grades in the design class.

Another time was right after I got married. I was working for a large design firm and the son-in-law of the owner approached me after I came back from my honeymoon. After congratulation me on getting married, he asked how long he could count on me to work before I got pregnant and left the firm. That was enough for me to look for other avenues of income. When the opportunity came for my husband and I to leave the area and move the Florida, we didn’t hesitate. And little did he know, my son wouldn’t arrive  for 13 years. He sure missed out on the benefit of my employment in those 13 years!

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Of course, being married and raising a child there’s all kinds of challenges that face you on a day-to-day basis. Medical issues pop up, school crisis are averted, and human dynamics are worked through. So far, I’ve been blessed and had few major crisis in this area.

But, I did face another personal challenge just recently, and that was a challenge involving writing…

I was challenged by a group of friends to pursue a lifelong dream and write a book. With a little bit of prodding and poking, I accepted the challenge, and, settled myself down to overcome one more challenge. My goal was to write a full-length book and know somebody read it.

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I overcame that challenge with flying colors I now have 8 books written in 2 different series, with the outlines for many more.

Yet, I found as I accepted this challenge there were many smaller hurdles to overcome. Probably the biggest for me was overcoming my spelling and grammar insecurities. I never seem have a problem finding a story to tell, my problem has always been getting it down on paper so others can enjoy it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m by no means perfect, and I still make a lot of the same mistakes, but at least I don’t  let them hold me back.

The other big challenge I faced was publishing independently. There were so many things to learn and it changes daily. Thankfully there is a good network of other writers that are willing to share their information and support.

Another challenge I faced in this writing process came from some fellow writers. Take part in the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). This meant I would attempt to write a 50,000-word novel in just 30 days.

I figured there was no way this would be possible, but, like every other challenge I imagined unattainable,  I somehow completed it. Since that first NaNoWriMo challenge, it has come a little easier for me. I’ve learned how to prepare and enjoy it. I’ve made some wonderful on-line friends who are more than willing to share what they  learned through their  writing challenges.

And through it all that is what has made each and every challenge achievable; the love and support of my family and friends.

Announcing…

It’s always exciting

when a book is published.

 

And I wanted to share my excitement with you!

 

 

Scent of a Memory

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Have you ever had something small and insignificant trigger a memory?

A memory so powerful that it takes you away from what’s going on around you? Does it immerse in the past, causing you to smile in fondness or frown in frustration?

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Regardless of your reaction, good or bad, it takes you back to something important. This just happened   recently when I entered a candle shop. I wandered the store, looking at all the items for sale, sniffing in the array of scents. It was when I took the lid off a candle that I smelled a garden. but not just any garden- it was my grandmother’s garden.

The memories came rushing back, and I can remember long weekend days spent with my family done at my grandmother’s. She lived on Lake Ontario along the shoreline with a huge yard covered with planting beds. She was always out working in her planting beds and more times than not I would be with her. Raking away the leaves in early spring to unearth the lily of the valley coming up, watching for the crocus and Iris peeking out and stealing the daffodils to present to my grandmother with pride. She never scolding me for picking her flowers, and a vase full could always be found on the kitchen table. Other memories rush back; being chased by a mean old rooster called Sam,  playing with it friendly boxer named Lucky and a territorial Terrier named Snoopy. My grandfather would always be there puffing out his pipe sitting on a lounge chair watching us work.

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When it got too hot, we’d all sit underneath the willow tree where the shade cooled us and created a somewhat secretive hideaway. The trees long flowing branches would hide us kids from view of the parents, and there was always cool drinks and snacks to share. But what triggered my memory the most is something I will always remember about the flower gardens.  My grandmother’s lilacs. A huge hedge of lilacs it ran the property line, probably all of nine feet tall, but to a young girl they felt like a wall. We could pick as many as we want  while they bloomed and there was always a bouquet to take home when we left for the day.

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 To this day, the smell of a lilac is my favorite Northern flower. And you know it’s funny, once that single memory returned, many more came flowing back. I was lucky to have such a great childhood where family was important; it was mandatory to play outside, do your share of the work and most of all to respect your elders and love your family.

Share That Book!

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When you finish that last page, do you simply close the covers of the book, sigh because it’s finished and go on to the next one?

Or are you a more involved reader? Do you follow the writer’s blogs (thanks for reading!)? Do you rush to write a review or make a recommendation on the site where you purchased the book? Do you belong to a book club where you can meet with other readers and devolve further into the writer’s words, finding hidden meaning? Maybe you do more research on the subject matter of the book if it has sparked an interest? Do you find possible avenues the story line might have taken that other readers might  miss?

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As a writer, we certainly hope you would write reviews and tell your friends about a good book you’ve read. If a spark of interest in a new topic develops for you, then that is a bonus. If we’ve helped you lose yourself in our story, then that spells success.

But as a reader, I value the word of another reader more than I do over fancy blurbs and sales pitches. Nothing means more to me as a reader than to hear somebody tell me how excited they were to finish the book, to gush about how romantic it might be. There might be an involuntary shiver if the story was spooky or horrible enough to mesmerize interest, like an accident you can’t look away from, no matter how hard you try.

When a book is so good that other people are talking about it it’s amazing. Re-hashing key points, and new items are brought up to other people’s attention. Details are examined, details the author may not  even realize would be so important to a reader.

When I’m finished with the book, it’s important to me  it doesn’t just sit on a bookshelf, unless it’s good and I know I will read it repeatedly. No, if it was one I  enjoyed, I want to pass it along to other readers to enjoy. It doesn’t matter if I distribute the book through used bookstore, at my county library, or at the community book deposit. Not everyone can afford the price of a new book. Sometimes even a used book could be out of reach. But everybody should have the opportunity to read-when they want and what they want.

Being able to share a good book with somebody you know who will enjoy it gives you a special satisfaction and you can’t wait to find out what they thought when they finish.

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So, readers, share those books, share your thoughts, and share your opinions good or bad. The more book is talked about the more exposure it will get and more other readers will want to pick it up for themselves.

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Book Joy

Every reader knows the joy of a new book. There’s something exciting about spending hours deciding which book to get. It doesn’t matter whether you’re browsing the book catalogs online,…

Source: Book Joy

Book Joy

Every reader knows the joy of a new book.

There’s something exciting about spending hours deciding which book to get. It doesn’t matter whether you’re browsing the book catalogs online, wondering the rows of books in the library or sniffing in the clean scent of a fresh book from the bookstore.  Every reader knows that special feeling you get picking out your books.

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When you’ve finally decided and you’re walking home with that new book, there’s an air of anticipation and you want to read right away. Sometimes you may need to put off reading that a new book because of other obligations. But it’s always there in the back of your mind, it’s waiting with a new adventure just for you.

But if one book makes a reader excited, then you’ll be overjoyed to   buy a complete series at one time. It’s like having your birthday and Christmas wrapped up at once- and all the other little holidays thrown in at the same time. When I can buy books in a series, I feel like I want to be shut away from the world for at least a week until I’ve read every one in a row and in order. I rarely buy a series of fiction books in print. Those I buy on the internet; space is an issue, because if I bought every series I liked, I would need to build a new house just to hold my books.

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But when I buy a series of nonfiction reference books, it’s  like I’ve invested in my future. My future as a writer, because these are the books I’m usually buying. And although I may not read them right away, I display them on the bookshelf, in their proper order, waiting for the opportunity to use them for reference. Oh, don’t get me wrong; I will look through each book to see what is  in each chapter, but it doesn’t get quite the attention that a series of fictional books will get. Those I dive right into and become part of the series.

And I must admit as an author seeing your own series ready for purchase-well there’s just no words to explain the sense of awe and pride. Knowing somebody else might buy  your complete set of works or at least what you wrote in that series is mind-boggling. Self-satisfaction doesn’t begin to cover the words.

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If there was a way, I think every writer would like to sit on the shoulders of the reader and gauge their reaction. Do they like your favorite passage, or smile at that little joke you included? Do they hold their breath in anticipation of a climax, do they sign with your ending-content the story ended the way they wanted? If you’re a mystery writer like me, are they following all your clues? Are they catching which ones are red herrings and are they surprised by your ending? Are you getting the right results with each book in your series?

You hope that these questions will come up every time, in every book.

So, thank you to all who have purchased my books; one at a time or in a complete series.

I hope you’ve enjoyed them as much as I’ve enjoyed writing them.

Looking for Love?

February is the month of romance. Cupids, hearts, chocolate, wine, murder…Ooops, did I slip on that last one?

Nope, this February is also for murder. Cozy Mysteries in particular. A select group of cozy mystery authors have gotten together to offer readers 14 days of free and discounted books. The common theme is a romance is intertwined with each book.

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So you can download a different book each day, from the 1st through the 14th.

Now if that’s not love….

Hope you all take advantage of this great offer (look for my book on the 9th of February!)

Happy Valentines!

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Write, Weather, Mood

Have you ever noticed how much the weather affects your day-to-day life?

 It’s not just whether it’s raining or cold; it’s the whole feeling of the weather.

On sunny days, you’ll find people smile more and they are more apt to greet you kindly and engage in conversation with you. If it’s one of those perfect weather days, we’ll even prolong the conversation to stay outside to enjoy the weather.

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On a cold rainy day, people barely even look up at you as you walk by. If words are exchange, the  conversation is grumbling about the weather.

As a writer, I’m amazed at how much the weather affects my mood for writing as well.

Seriously, it’s kind of hard to plan a deep dark murder or some villainous crime on a bright sunny day when you’re sitting by the beach. These are the days when I am more in the mood for writing a funny scene or even a romantic one.

However, if you’re curled up inside shivering because of the cold and it’s overcast and rain is hitting the panes of glass of your windows, well that’s different. On a day like this, it doesn’t take too much to put you in the dark mood to write a dark scene. Plots of murder and misdeeds are easy to put down on paper. I have no qualms about putting my main characters in a miserable situation. If I’m miserable, then they can be, too.

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Copyright: <a href=’http://www.123rf.com/profile_stieberszabolcs’>stieberszabolcs / 123RF Stock Photo

Unfortunately, as a mystery writer, I can’t wait for dark rainy days to write about a murder. My imagination must work overtime to create the mood or scene I’m working on at that moment.  That’s when I often will use other stimuli to help me get in the right frame of mind. Music is a big component as I write, setting the mood for the writing I wish to accomplish. Often going online and looking at pictures (I love Pinterest!) will spark the needed thought process. After all, a picture of a lethal weapon can lead to thoughts of crime.

If these methods don’t work for me, then I find it best to go ahead and write a scene that will fit my mood. I will sneak it into my work in progress later. Or, maybe, put it away in a file to be used in another book.

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No matter what the weather ,as a writer it is important to take control of your work. You should write every day, 1 to 2 paragraphs or 1 to 2 chapters. And if that fails, pick up a book and read someone else’s words. You’ll be amazed at how much this will spark your imagination!

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