It’s All About Character

by Katherine Reay, @Katherine_Reay

Our ability to engage our readers, surprise, delight, antagonize, or even offend them when we want, all comes down to our characters. Compelling characters make a compelling story — and keep readers wanting more. Even if you write fast-paced, plot-driven fiction, no one wants to head down that road unless the character is worthy of the chase.

So what do we do to create such characters? Ones who “jump off the page” and keep the reader glued to their ups and downs late into the night?

I offer these suggestions:

  1. We feel multiple emotions simultaneously – so they must too! When writing Lizzy & Jane, I realized you could look at your sister and feel (off the top of my head) five emotions instantly: fierce love, equally fierce dislike, jealousy, loyalty and adoration – especially if you’re the younger sister. Use that! Layer the emotions for your character just as you feel them layered within yourself. And the more those emotions conflict, the better! They’ll bring depth to the reader’s experience and the character’s substance.
  2. Look at all those emotions (even list them) then choose any but the most obvious. The reader will feel that one instinctively. Again, in Lizzy & Jane, Lizzy was angry with her sister. She felt betrayed. And, while those two emotions came through often, it was more interesting and in many ways more realistic when I explored Lizzy’s adoration, hero-worship, and yearning for Jane’s acceptance and love. Anger was the lens through which the reader found those softer and more vulnerable feelings. By bringing those emotions out, through and beneath the anger, I also increased the micro-tension between the sisters – that’s the push and pull beneath what’s written on the page.
  3. Make sure what your characters do is an extension of who they are. I use profession, dress, reading preferences, food tastes, decorating, season, quirks, hobbies, and more… Everything is planned to express an aspect of character, either to the positive, the negative or the unexpected. When writing, you have tons of descriptive detail to lay out, don’t let a single size, color, shape or nuance go to waste.
  4. Take a blank page occasionally and “talk” to your character. You don’t need to make it formal, but do write it down. As a writer, that’s how you think and how you communicate – so make sure you don’t just chat, make sure you write down that chat. By doing this, you’ll learn more about your character’s cadence of speech, inner thoughts, and expressions. It’s an interesting exercise and can reveal things that surprise you… Only by doing this, late in the manuscript process, did I learn how truly angry Sam Moore (Dear Mr. Knightly) was by all that happened in her childhood. This changed later scenes and made the story more authentic to her voice.
  5. Have fun! I end every post with this because it’s so important. Enjoy your characters – even the “bad” ones. The more you enjoy them and explore them, the more real and expressive – and unexpected – they become. And that’s more fun for you and for the reader.

Thanks for spending time here with me today. Please find me and connect on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or my website at www.katherinereay.com. I’m always out and about…

Katherine


The Austen Escape

Mary Davies finds safety in her ordered and productive life. Working as an engineer, she genuinely enjoys her job and her colleagues – particularly a certain adorable and intelligent consultant. But something is missing. When Mary’s estranged childhood friend, Isabel Dwyer offers her a two-week stay in a gorgeous manor house in England, she reluctantly agrees in hopes that the holiday will shake up her quiet life in just the right ways.
But Mary gets more than she bargained for when Isabel loses her memory and fully believes she lives in Jane Austen’s Bath. While Isabel rests and delights in the leisure of a Regency lady, attended by other costume-clad guests, Mary uncovers startling truths about their shared past, who Isabel was, who she seems to be, and the man who now stands between them.
Outings are undertaken, misunderstandings play out, and dancing ensues as this company of clever, well-informed people, who have a great deal of conversation, work out their lives and hearts.

Katherine Reay is the award-winning author of Dear Mr. Knightley, Lizzy& Jane and The Bronte Plot, an ALA Notable Book Award Finalist. Her latest novel, A Portrait of Emily Price, released in November 2016 and received Starred Reviews from Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and a Romantic Times TOP PICK!All Katherine’s novels are contemporary stories with a bit of classical flair. Sheholds a BA and MS from Northwestern University and isa wife, mother, rehabbing runner, former marketer, and avid chocolate consumer. After living all across the country and a few stops in Europe, Katherine now happily resides outside Chicago, IL.

What is Love?

by Yvonne Lehman, @YvonneLehman

When I gave the call-out for Loving Moments articles, I knew the end result would provide me with a greater understanding of love. I knew the articles would be varied, meaningful, delightful, and as inspiring as they have been in the seven other Moments books.

Love—a valid word that can be applied to…bugs…or our Savior dying on the cross for our sins.

And that’s what you’ll find in this recent release. Both professional and never-before published authors share their stories, revealing the many faces of love. They remind us of how important are family, friends, provision, simple joys, and moments of delight.

Why would these hundreds of authors eagerly submit stories to these eight books (and more coming!) for no payment, other than one free copy? Because, since the first one, lives have been inspired and changed. They are delighted to donate all royalties to Samaritans Purse, an organization providing spiritual and physical aid to hurting people around the world.

These generous contributors certainly deserve some recognition. Those in this collection are:

Ellen Andersen, Sheryl M. Baker, Robin Bayne, Mason K. Brown, Elsie H. Brunk, LeAnn Campbell, Rebecca Carpenter, John Chaney, Josh Clevenger, Andrea Cronrod, Jeanne Doyon, Kritin Tobin Dossett, Terri Elders, Debra Elliott, Georgia Florey-Evans, Dorothy Floyd, Janice S. Garey, Theresa Jenner Garrido, Dianna Good, Carol Graham, Kay Harper, Lydia E. Harris, Lori Hatcher, Judith Victoria Hensley, Helen L. Hoover, Cynthia Howerter, Amanda Hughes, Alice Klies, Nancy Julien Kopp, Barbara Latta, Marcia Lee Laycock, Yvonne Lehman, Diana Leagh Matthews, Beverly Hill MKinney, Lenora McWhorter, Julie Miller, Marybeth Mitcham, Vicki H. Moss, Marilyn Nutter, Colleen L. Reece, Phyllis A. Robeson, Toni Armstrong Sample, Karen Sawyer, Beverly Sce, Cindy Sproles, Shari Struyk, Annmarie B. Tait, Donn Taylor, Myrtle V. Thompson, Ann Greenleaf Wirtz. Books are available on line or from Grace Publishing.

Past collections are Divine Moments, Christmas Moments, Spoken Moments, Precious Precarious Moments, More Christmas Moments, Stupid Moments,and Additional Christmas Moments. Merry Christmas Moments is scheduled for November 2017.

Writers and anyone with a story are welcome to submit your stories. Up-coming collections are Coola-nary Moments (culinary mishaps & recipes), Christmas 2018, Romantic Moments, Personal Titanic Moments, Broken Moments, and Questionable Moments. For more information you may contact  me at yvonnelehman3@gmail.com.

Although a lot of instruction isn’t generally needed for these personal, true stories, I do teach a “Writing for the Moments” class at various conferences. The next one is October 8-12, at my Blue Ridge “Autumn in the Mountains” Novelist Retreat held at Ridgecrest NC. www.yvonnelehman.com – We also teach craft, creativity, movies, and social media. Would love for you to join us!

Wishing you a very Loving Life!

TWEETEABLES

What is Love? @YvonneLehman on @NovelRocket #writing http://bit.ly/2xzyYGl

Because, since the first one, lives have been inspired and changed. @YvonneLehman on @NovelRocket #writing http://bit.ly/2xzyYGl

50 authors and 59 stories that tell of meaningful, inspiring faces of love. @YvonneLehman @NovelRocket #writing http://bit.ly/2xzyYGl

____________________

Loving Moments

59 stories from 50 authors that tell of varied, meaningful and inspiring faces of love.

 

Yvonne Lehman is an award-winning, best-selling author of more than 3,000,000 books in print, who founded and directed the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference for 25 years, is now director of the Blue Ridge “Autumn in the Mountains” Novelist Retreat. She earned a Master’s Degree in English from Western Carolina University and has taught English and Creative Writing on the college level. Her latest releases include Have Dress Will Marry (Heart of a Cowboy collection, Mountainbrook Ink), Better Latte Than Never (Winged Publications), Stupid Moments and Additional Christmas Moments in the non-fiction Divine Moments series (Grace Publishing). Her popular 50th novel is Hearts that Survive – A Novel of the TITANIC, which she signs periodically at the Titanic Museum in Pigeon Forge TN.

Juggling Family & Writers Conferences

by Lisa Jordan, @lisajordan 

Autumn is my favorite season because September and October bring several special dates to mind—my wedding anniversary, the birthdays of my two boys and the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) Conference.

I’ve been attending ACFW since 2005, which is the first year I met Susie May and knew she was someone I wanted to help mentor me through this crazy writing journey.

That initial conference was everything I dreamed and even more. I formed friendships, realized I had a ton of things to learn about the writing industry and leaned into the knowledge God called me to be a writer.

Attending conferences are not required to get your books published, but they allow you to build relationships with other writers and industry professionals, which is one of the essentials for a writer’s career. Investing in a conference means investing in educating yourself as to what industry professionals are looking for as they read hundreds of proposals that come across their desks or fill their inboxes.

However, the months and weeks leading up to the conference can be challenging especially if you’re a parent, working inside or outside the home. When I made plans to attend my first conference, I needed to take time off from my day job and find care for our two boys, who were ages 14 and 11 at that time because my husband worked second shift at the time. We needed someone who could be available for our boys after school and help with their extra-curricular activities.

One more juggling act for writers wearing many hats.

For us, our primary responsibility was to find care for the boys. They stayed with friends who had kids close in ages to our boys, and they lived within walking distance to both boys’ schools. I felt confident leaving them with responsible adults because I knew they’d receive great care.

In order to help our friends take on the additional responsibilities of our boys’ activities, I used a weekly calendar and wrote out all of their after school activities and homework projects that needed to be completed while I was gone. I made sure my boys understood their responsibilities in seeing these things to completion. I wrote out checks for lunches, school pictures and made sure they had clean clothes for school and practices.

I reviewed everything with Hubby, the boys and the family who would be caring for them for those days. I made a few casseroles ahead of time that could be frozen, and I gave them to my friend’s family to help with evening meals. Even if they decided not to serve them for dinner, she had an extra meal on hand for some other time when cooking time was tight. Plus by adding two extra boys to their family of 5, I wanted to make it as easy as possible for her.

Once my boys’ needs were taken care of, I focused on preparing for the writers conference. I studied the ACFW conference information on the website, ordered business cards, prepared my one-sheet for pitching and communicated with my upcoming roommate. I packed my suitcase and printed boarding passes for one of the greatest adventures of my life.

Having peace of mind about things on the home front allowed me to keep my focus where it needed to be while sitting in workshops, meeting with editors, chatting with agents and getting to know other writers. I called my boys each night and talked about their days, making sure they were ready for the next day.

Once I returned home from conference and after passing out hugs, I made notes about what worked that year and what needed to be improved for the next year’s conference. Yes, I was already planning ahead because I needed that time to budget the money and have the days marked off my work schedule.

If you desire to attend a writer’s conference, but wonder how you can leave your family, don’t despair. With a bit of planning and asking family or friends to help out, you can work everything out in order to attend your favorite conference.

TWEETABLES

Juggling Family & Writers Conferences @lisajordan on @NovelRocket #writing http://bit.ly/2xDZmQF

Want to attend a writers conference, but unsure because of family? @lisajordan shares on @NovelRocket #writing http://bit.ly/2xDZmQF

Trying to balance kids and a conference? @lisajordan shares how she managed it on @NovelRocket #writing http://bit.ly/2xDZmQF

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Lakeside Romance

A Recipe for Romance Sarah Sullivan will do whatever it takes to make her summer youth program permanent. But when she’s tasked to teach the teens basic kitchen skills, her hope goes up in flames. Not knowing the first thing about cooking, Sarah needs help. Smelling the delicious aromas coming from her neighbor’s apartment one night, she thinks she’s found her answer. Alec Seaver might know his way around pots and pans, but the lone-wolf widower doesn’t want anything to do with the free-spirited beauty next door. But after he becomes Sarah’s reluctant partner, Alec realizes that she might just be the key ingredient missing from his life.

Heart, home, and faith have always been important to Lisa Jordan, so writing stories with those elements come naturally. Represented by Rachelle Gardner, Lisa is an award-winning author for Love Inspired, writing contemporary Christian romances that promise hope and happily ever after. She is the Operations Manager for Novel.Academy, powered by My Book Therapy. Happily married to her own real-life hero for almost thirty years, Lisa and her husband have two grown sons. When she isn’t writing, Lisa enjoys family time, kayaking, good books, and playing in her craft room with friends. Visit her at lisajordanbooks.com.

Simplifying Writer Research

by DiAnn Mills, @diannmills

Writing and research go hand in hand. Every topic in a novel needs an element of research. If the manuscript isn’t accurate, the reader will recognize the flaw and toss our work aside. If a writer is spot-on, she will be rewarded with good reviews and more readers. Sort of a no-brainer for us writers.

How do we conduct the process effectively and efficiently?

Focus: List what is needed for the writing project in chronological order. This includes plot, culture, setting, dialogue, and characterization.

Develop: What specialty people need to be contacted to ensure reliable information? Determine if an email or phone contact is sufficient or if they can accommodate a face to face meeting.

Map: Where does the writer need to visit for experience and sensory perception? Can the setting be visited at the same time of year as the story?

The following questions and suggestions will help the writer focus, develop, and map out a strategic planand enhance your story for readers.

  1. Visit the area’s chamber of commerce.
  2. Conduct a web search of the area. Some apps will help with this: Google Maps, Google Earth, Weather Bug, or travel sites that can be found via apps or websites.
  3. Take or download more pictures than will ever be needed.
  4. Interview people living in the area. For a historical setting, this also means reading diaries and journals. How has history affected the community?
  5. Listen to how local people talk. Do they use a distinct vocabulary?
  6. What are the community’s values and expectations for life and each other?
  7. What is their diet? How much of their food supply is local?
  8. How is the area governed?
  9. What are the local hotels? Restaurants? What’s featured on the menus? Any daily specials?
  10. What are the sources of entertainment?
  11. How do the residents celebrate holidays?
  12. Does the community have special festivals?
  13. How does the area experience the seasons, and what are average temperatures?
  14. What are the medical concerns? What kind of medical care is available?
  15. In what kinds of homes do they live?
  16. Where do they shop?
  17. How do the people dress?
  18. Do the arts play a vital role in the community?
  19. How do the people view education, sports teams, and favorite colleges?
  20. How do they earn a living?

Other Considerations

  1. If the area is near a national or state park, look for research material in the visitors’ section.
  2. Discover the wildlife and birds of the region.
  3. Locate a map of the area.Visit the local library.
  4. View newspaper archives.
  5. Look for documentaries on the area.
  6. Visit themed or local museums.

When a writer is cognizant of what is needed to make a manuscript zip with authenticity, readers clamor for more.

How do you conduct writing research?

TWEETABLES

Simplifying Writer Research @DiAnnMills @NovelRocket #writing #writingtip http://bit.ly/2fqYSUy

Writing and research go hand in hand.  @DiAnnMills @NovelRocket #writing #writingtip http://bit.ly/2fqYSUy

How do we conduct the process effectively and efficiently? @DiAnnMills @NovelRocket #writing #writingtip http://bit.ly/2fqYSUy

_____________________

High Treason

When Saudi Prince Omar bin Talal visits Houston to seek cancer treatment for his mother, an attempt on his life puts all agencies on high alert. FBI Special Agent Kord Davidson is the lead on the prince’s protective detail because of their long-standing friendship, but he’s surprised – and none too happy – when the CIA brings one of their operatives, Monica Alden, in on the task force after the assassination attempt.Kord and Monica must quickly put aside inter-agency squabbles, however, when they learn the prince has additional motives for his visit – plans to promote stronger ties with the US and encourage economic growth and westernization in his own country. Plans that could easily incite a number of suspects both in the US and in countries hostile to Saudi Arabia. Worse yet, the would-be assassin always seems to be one step ahead of them, implicating someone close to the prince – or the investigation. But who would be willing to commit high treason, and can Kord and Monica stop them in time?

DiAnn Mills is an award winning writer who believes her readers should expect an adventure. She currently has more than fifty-five books published. Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists and have won placements through the American Christian Fiction Writer’s Carol Awards and Inspirational Reader’s Choice awards. DiAnn won the Christy Award in 2010 and 2011. DiAnn is a founding board member for American Christian Fiction Writers and a member of Inspirational Writers Alive, Romance Writers of America, and Advanced Writers and Speakers Association. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country. DiAnn is also a Craftsman mentor for the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild. She and her husband live in sunny Houston, Texas. Find her on the web at www.diannmills.com.