Strong female leads? Yes, please!
My favorite way to connect with other writer’s blogs is with flash fiction. It’s the best way I’ve found for keeping up my chops, too. I just stumbled upon this Sunday Writer’s Link Party this morning, so I don’t have a new piece ready for today. But, I’ll share my favorite that I wrote earlier this year, as part of the April A to Z challenge…
April swatted her nose and pushed hair from her forehead, her hand limp and clumsy with sleep. Feeling itchy, she moaned, flopped over on her belly and scratched her rump. Something tickled her back and she jerked herself missionary again. Eyes snapped open, blind in the dark and searching the blank gray ceiling. Blankets were puddled around her ankles, nightgown rucked up to her waist.
“What the hell?”
The clock read 12:07 a.m.
Yawning, she disentangled her feet from the sheets and swung her legs over the side of her bed. “S’long as I’m up I might as well pee.”
She rearranged her jammie-cammie straps so that her nubile breasts were more modestly covered. Eyes half-mast, she padded down the hallway. 70-watt Energy Star light bulbs seared through her pupils when she flicked the switch. Blinking against the glare, her reflection fuzzed in the mirror. One tiny detail forced immediate focus and spiked adrenaline: a dark brown, antennaed, almond-shaped bug scuttled over her shoulder and burrowed away from the light. Under her pajamas.
“Oh my god!”
The nightgown flew over her head and across the room, landing in a heap on the other side of the toilet. April choked out hoarse, secretive screeches while slapping every inch of skin and raking fingers through rat-nested hair. Malignant eyes scanned the room, found their prey, and then ceramic soap dish met unfortunate cockroach.
Gasping at the clatter in the eerie quiet of early morning, April caught her breath. She wadded up soiled panties and tossed them in the hamper, then gingerly shook out her nightgown. Sleep was far off and the thought of her bed was revolting.
Another jolt racked her nerves when flashes from half-a-dozen cell phone cameras greeted her. Her bedroom hissed in familiar stifled laughter.
“April Fools Day already, huh?”
Today, I enjoyed an interview with Nancy Gaskins, on her BlogTalkRadio channel, Author Universe. Originally, this was a selfish endeavor to promote my new book, Catchpenny. I did just that, and got in a plug for myself and my husband’s band, Her Last Boyfriend. I even learned something new about my own book, which was that I don’t believe it would be appreciated by young adults only (as I had been marketing it). A good love story is a good story for anyone, regardless of gender, race, age, or sexual orientation. It was a great interview, check it out HERE.
But I digress. At the end of the interview, Nancy highlighted some of my marketing strategies, addressing her audience of regular followers who were looking for tips and insight into authorpreneurship. She described my book cover design and explained why she thought it was eye-catching. Then, she mentioned the sneak peak of The Tramp that I put at the end of Catchpenny, as a smart marketing decision.
And I had an ah-ha! moment.
Could sharing some of my own tips, tricks, insight, and pitfalls (oh yes, many pitfalls) actually help other beginning or aspiring authors? If so, I am happy to share.
So, I’ve started a new column on this blog, “Happy 2 Share!”
I’ll do what I can to help. In the spirit of the column, please help me in return by sharing any post you like on your social media outlets. And if you’d like to see a post on any topic in particular, please email me or share a comment below.
Big thank you to Sara F. Hathaway, author of Day After Disaster, for her guest post today! Read what Hathaway says about creating memorable, consistent characters…
Characters are key to a great novel and developing them can expand your mind to new places. Readers appreciate being able to feel the emotions and understand the feelings of each character not just your main character. Make sure that all your characters have their own stories and motivations. Some of your characters may come straight out of your life and some may be completely fictional but either way you have to bring them to life and keep their profile consistent throughout the story.
When I created Day After Disaster, I did it over a very long period of time so maintaining the same characters throughout the story was a challenge. To tackle this obstacle I kept a notebook that has notes not just on my characters but on timeline of events, camp layouts, supply lists, etc. so that the flow of the story is never broken.
Here’s some character details that you will want to have written down and refer to often:
- Physical characteristics – age, height, hair and eye color, build, etc.
- Background – where were they born, how was their childhood, what motivated them to get where they are today?
- Family tree – who are their parents, siblings, etc. and where are they now? How was their relationship with these people?
- Main personality traits – how do they react to situations, what do they know, were they formally educated, etc.
You should lay out all the details for each character. Even if you never use any of the information in your book you should still consider these factors. They are key to bringing out who the person really is and why they react the way they do.
*Helpful hint – a great place to go to find new character information is any type of forum on the internet where individuals are asked to introduce themselves. You will gain knowledge about people from many walks of life. Of course you need to change names and personal information but there is a never ending supply of character details all over the internet. You can combine details and create vibrant characters of your own.
Sara F. Hathaway is the author of the book, Day After Disaster. Sara grew up in the country where she developed a profound interest in the natural world around her. After graduating from The California State University of Sacramento with a Bachelor’s degree in business management, she returned to her passion for a rural existence. She has extensively researched and practiced survival techniques and utilized forgotten life-sustaining methods of the generations past. She currently lives with her husband and two sons in California where she is at work on the sequel to her first novel and helping other authors skyrocket their careers to the next level. For more information and a free copy of “The Go-Bag Essentials” featuring everything you need to have to leave your home in a disaster visit: www.authorsarafhathaway.com
Follow Sara online!!
Day After Disaster is an apocalyptic, adventure novel, featuring a dynamic young woman, mother and wife, Erika, who is thrust into a world turned upside down by a series of natural disasters. Finding herself alone in a city mutilated by this disastrous situation, she must save herself. Once free of the city confines, she desperately tries to navigate through the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains to get back home to her family. Not knowing if they are alive or dead she must call on all of her survival instincts to plot a course through this broken environment.
Luke is one of those guys who is dangerous to fall in love with. I always do, invariably. But, I’ve known too many Luke’s too often in my life and he’s the kind of guy that breaks hearts as easily as snuffing out cigarettes. He’s a little lost and a little wounded, made even more alluring by a pretty face, careless hair, and a cool demeanor. He’s cool enough in the beginning as to be the kind of dick you might want to slap in a bar after you’ve just found him with another woman. But that’s okay with me, because since King of Fools is written in Luke’s point of view, I get to be the dick. That’s one of the things I love most about this book—being able to step into the shoes of my favorite kind of guy to love and hate. And the plot thickens from there…
You wouldn’t know it to look at him, but Luke has experienced an accident that brought him too close to death to ever be the same. Mentally, possibly physically, definitely spiritually. You see, something followed him back from the beyond. Something cold, vaguely needy and slightly terrifying, and from the beginning I’m not sure whether I should be turned on or repulsed by that something. Luke isn’t sure either. In fact, he’s trying very hard to ignore it and pretend that he wasn’t in an accident at all. Luke’s accident is only touched on delicately at first. The author does give us the juicy details later in the book, and they are worth waiting for. Having been in a death defying accident myself, and perhaps crossed over to the beyond for a brief moment like Luke, I love the way that BL Pride handles this life (or death) experience. She nailed it. But we aren’t fully initiated until close to the end.
As soon as Luke arrives in the Farthest Islands, however— a place legendary for the sheer number of hauntings reported and ghostly creatures observed there—I knew that the something that is “always with him” is going to make some kind of move. The thing that followed him back from the beyond and this haunted place have to be related. But this is the beauty of BL Pride’s imagination and the journey she weaves the reader through. Her tales are unique, her stories so finely layered, that I can never tell what the heck she’s up to. And the journey is possibly more beautiful than the desire to know. I don’t like to rush through her books—even though I always finish them in a few days, since I can’t put them down—because her language is so expressive, her emotional landscape so lush, that I enjoy every word. Imagine seductive mixed with haunted, with a side of beautiful horror and you’ve got what BL Pride is best at.
You will find some answers by the end of King of Fools, but at the same time glimpse the iceberg lurking beneath the surface with all its crystalline, relentless power. You will feel satisfied, but left wanting more and sort of scared by what might come next. Kind of like Luke, poor thing. There is something undeniably attractive about seeing the girl who stole his soul twist it too, like rubbernecking at a car crash on the highway, but the aloof cool guy weighs heavy on my heart by the end of this book. I feel his frustration, I know his desire, and I admit I would call myself Queen of Fools in his place, because I probably would’ve done much the same. Oh, Luke. I can’t wait to see what he does next, or more to the point, how he reacts when the next thing—the next ungodly heavenly, ugly gorgeous thing—is thrown at him.
Check out BL Pride’s website www.blpride.com to learn more about their work and follow their blog. Subscribe to receive a free short story and stay up to date with new releases and special offers.
It’s quite hard to write something unambiguous about B. L. Pride. She was born in Maribor, Slovenia, went to a particular high school, chose a university that seemed more or less interesting, and now she does completely different things. She’s a teacher and a frelancer. She’s got two different men and four children. She’s full of opposites but has one great passion – books. Confusing? She’s actually an avatar of two best friends and a symbol of their lives’ project.
When the author Barbara Pristovnik finished her first novel that was originally written in Slovene, she never dreamed of sharing her lunacy with the rest of the planet, but the other half of the team Lea Dežman put her foot down and decided to translate it into English. Two absolute beginners were swirled into the overwhelming world of self-publishing and took their Sunday coffee dates to a completely different level. Addiction is the result and at the same time it is merely the beginning. Slovene became secondary, and The Farthest Island series began emerging in English, and a new world was created.
Read BL Pride’s guest post Writing: A Universal Language of Passion.
Ariel Morton has hit rock bottom. Or, is it just her attitude that has? Well, she’s recently lost her dream job, lost her driver license, gotten dumped by the love of her life (who was also her best friend). She lives in a hovel, has no friends, feels outcast from her own family, and is in credit card debt that seems impossible to get out of. She’s made a few mistakes and has told a few lies, but she finds herself trapped in a prison inordinate to the mildness of her foibles. Ah yes, the quarter-life crisis. This is where we enter the story.
On the first page of the book we’re introduced to the mysterious Muse Agency, a private—very private—consulting company reported to have worked miracles in Ariel’s hometown of Singapore. Details are transferred strictly via whisper network and shrouded in something close to legend. This seems to be the plot in store for us: The Muse Agency is going to change Ariel’s life. That’s far from the case.
In fact, her life does swing a hairpin turn by the end of the book, but only because she finally learns to steer. Very little actually changes for Ariel on the outside. Sure, there is a new love interest (expect something closer to Emma than Fifty Shades of Grey), and that credit card debt is taken care of in a surprising twist. But mostly, the agency forces Ariel to scrutinize her life and make the uncomfortable changes she’s been avoiding for years. We suspect Ariel’s changes must happen from within pretty early on in the novel, but it’s still fun to watch it all play out. Her dry sense of humor and resistance to conformity makes for an entertaining soul journey.
The most interesting part of the book, and one that I thought unique, is Fia Essen’s way of bringing the world of the expat into focus. This is a microcosm of which I had no real understanding and it’s a fascinating life. Essen’s own experiences make Ariel’s life as an expat seem realistic and authentic. I call Singapore her “hometown” in the beginning of this review, but that idea isn’t something she really understands. Born in one country, with heritage in two others, Ariel has globe-trotted for most of her life; first, because of her parents’ careers, but later because constant travel was what she knew. A peek into this lifestyle makes Ariel worth the read on it’s own.
If you’re looking for hardcore realism in which main characters are killed off, x-rated scenes abound, and everyone is generally unhappy, this is not your book. If you believe in that light at the end of the tunnel, and maybe hope there is one at the end of your own road, you’ll enjoy Ariel.
I have to give an obnoxiously loud shout out and virtual air kisses to Joss Radillo today, for hosting Tristan’s coming out party as part of her 100,000 blog visits celebration! If Joss hadn’t reached out to me to to participate in her special occasion, I may never have written this character study or admitted to this beautiful face (Lee Williams) haunting the entire writing of my new serial novel, Catchpenny.
Introducing Tristan Jameson, the boy that steals Meg Shannon’s heart in Catchpenny! Part One was just released July 1st, and it’s called Wicked Lover. Get the ebook for $0.99 on Amazon HERE. Also available in paperback.
When I first began writing Catchpenny, I had just seen a mini-series called the Forsyte Saga on Netflix. The Welsh actor pictured here, Lee Williams, made such an impression on me that his is the face I’ve always pictured for Tristan throughout the whole writing process of Catchpenny. The mini-series was actually released in 2002, and Lee Williams is now 41-years-old, so he wouldn’t actually play Tristan today. Tristan is 17, just turning 18 in the book. But, here’s a good idea of how hot he’ll be as he matures…
Watch a clip of Lee Williams in film HERE.
And here’s a closer look at Lee/Tristan’s “Mentholyptus” blue eyes, which Meg often mentions in Catchpenny…
A Short Synopsis of Catchpenny, Part One: Wicked Lover
Have you ever wondered about that girl at the edge of the crowd? The one who has dark, bushy hair that hides her eyes while she’s reading, but tight shirts that don’t even try to hide the size of her breasts? You’ve heard the rumors, you know the rude nicknames, and you wonder what she really does when she’s not in school. She never comes to parties and she lives in a neighborhood where nice girls never venture. Everyone tries to ignore her…but there is something about her that’s impossible to ignore. Especially for the star quarterback, apparently. Because he just asked her to the Homecoming dance, after dumping the head cheerleader.
Catchpenny tells the story from the eyes of “that girl,” and Wicked Lover is just the beginning of this coming of age serial novel. The small town minds of Shirley County have underestimated Meg Shannon for too long. She’s even more fun than she is trouble…but maybe she has finally met her match.
Who is Tristan Jameson?
Tristan is, of course, the quarterback mentioned in the synopsis. He has played by the rules all his life and he’s over it. Meg is fun, honest, and real, in a way that most of the friends in his crowd are not. At first, he seemed to have asked Meg to the dance on a whim, but as the story develops we realize he’s had his eye on her from afar, for a long time. He thinks she’s the most interesting girl in school—it just took him a while to work up the nerve to breach the social barriers that he’s been cocooned in for so long. As he gets to know Meg throughout the course of the evening, she continually surprises him. He’s fascinated and his feelings deepen more than either of them were prepared for. She’s an enigma to him, and he’s ready to take some risks, too.
An Excerpt from Wicked Lover
A narrow column of rock jutted up from the valley, separated from the main cliff by about two feet. We had always called it the exclamation point (or just “the point” for short) when I was a kid, because that’s exactly what it looked like. It was the first and smallest of the buttes, as the valley below met the canyons, and the mountains on either side squeezed the land into a bottleneck, with violent rapids rushing below. The point was wide enough for a couple people to sit on, maybe four people to stand on carefully. I hopped out onto the column of stone, my bare toes gripping the stone when I landed, steady and sure. I’d done it a million times. I focused on the moon; it looked as big as a planet about to crash right into the earth. A yellow sphere of Swiss cheese, in planetary proportions.
“The wolves will be out in force tonight,” I said, then threw my head back in a long howl. A prompt response echoed in the distance, the owner of which was more likely a hound dog hunting with his master than a roaming wolf. I laughed and looked back to see my date turning green behind me. “Don’t worry, I’ve got good balance—my mom says I’ve always been a mountain goat.”
He shook his head, sizing me up from the rear. “More like a mountain lion. Please come back, though.”
He held out his hand, obviously closer to the rim than he was comfortable with, but I ignored it. I turned back to the moon. “It’s not full yet.”
“Looks pretty full to me.”
“No, it’s still waxing. It’ll be full tomorrow.”
“Want to bet?” He stuck his hand out further, daring me to accept a shake on it.
“Okay. I know I’m right.”
The instant my hand made contact with his, his grip turned to iron and he yanked me towards himself, off the point and across the chasm. I crashed into his chest and he moved backwards with me—solid, not stumbling. His arms wrapped around my shoulders like steel girders, his body immovable and his face unflinching.
“You’re dangerous,” he mumbled, eyes blazing.
I tried to say, “You should talk,” but I’d somehow lost my voice.
“Away from the sheer drop.”
“Okay.” I nodded, glad to finally produce a sound with my startled vocal chords. I let him thread his fingers through mine, and he led me back to the car.
In the safety of the limo, he lounged back onto the seat, his eyes smoldering as he watched me. I settled myself opposite, arranging the beads of my cocktail dress and fluffing my curls, not really sure what had just occurred between us. Maybe he was angry with me; he sure looked it. I said, as innocently as I could manage, “Are you afraid of heights?”
“Afraid of having to dive off a cliff to catch you, maybe.”
I snorted. “Right.”
“Reckless,” he sighed, shaking his head.
“Sorry? You’re not like any girl I’ve ever met, Meg. It’s a lot to take in, but there’s no reason to be sorry.”
I fumbled with my beads a little more, unsure of how to proceed. I felt the car start to roll and I looked up in reaction, to see a door in the ceiling just over Tristan’s head. I had an idea. “Hey, we can get a perfect view of the moon from in here. That’s a sunroof, right?”
He looked above his head and his expression cooled. “Actually, I’ve been wanting to try that ever since I first got in.”
“You mean…ejector seat?” I met his spreading grin and he nodded, then reached over to push a button by his armrest. The window in the ceiling slid open and Tristan grabbed my hand, pulling me over to crouch with him on the seat below the skylight.
“Ejector seat!” we yelled together, springing up through the open roof, him laughing and me cheering like a five-year-old. The sky spread over us like velvet lavender, a blanket of winking stars around the glowing lunar orb. It felt so close I wanted to reach up and touch it—moments like that are the closest I ever get to church.
We watched the sky together in silence. I slid my eyes in Tristan’s direction and saw his own closed, his face content. The air was getting cooler, twilight fading into night, and I shivered as Barney picked up speed. My hair started to whip around my face and I grabbed as much of it as I could in one hand to save the ringlets, gripping the roof with the other. I wondered if my “frizz eliminator” would hold up to such abuse, and I squeezed eyelids shut against the wind and frenzy of escaping curls. Strong fingers encircled my wrist, pulling it down and trapping it behind my waist. My eyes snapped open and found him so close I could feel the tickle of his cheek against mine. My hair whirled around us like a tornado.
His voice was deep and urgent in my ear. “Don’t put your hair back.”
“It’ll be an afro in a minute.”
“I like it wild. I like you wild.”
I turned a fraction and my lips brushed against his. His eyes watched my mouth. “Kiss me, Tristan.”
He cupped my face with his hands, so large and warm I felt my cool cheeks blaze instantly, but so gentle he was barely touching me. He looked at me and hesitated, holding my gaze as if he were about to say something first, his face close enough I swear I could feel a spark between our lips. I couldn’t wait another second. I found the heat of his mouth and slid my hands inside his jacket and around his waist. He answered me, caution forgotten along with the moon. Was that him who moaned in relief or me? I couldn’t tell, melted together as we were. As one.
Both our knees gave way and I felt myself collapsing onto the seat below, then toppling to the floor. His arms were around my shoulders and under my thighs, catching our fall in an expert roll. He landed on top, hovering over me and devouring my neck while I locked my ankles around his back. His lips were as soft as his body was hard, and I felt an electric zing at every point where we connected. All thoughts of preserving my pristine Homecoming costume faded into the smell of his skin, the taste of his mouth, and the hills and valleys of his body. I blended into the texture of him.
And look for this scene, a favorite of another awesome book blogger, Romorror Fan Girl, who awarded Wicked Lover 5 Stars:
Check it out, please do. HERE.
Wow. What a well-written interview, capturing my long-winded tale in so few, eloquent words. Many thanks to to Lois Shearing! Read on, please…