Tuesday, September 30, 2008

It's all cosmetic

You're the stylist. You realize that, right?
You decide what the character wears. From the shade of his/her skin to hair to make-up to clothing to body style and shape.
No pressure, right?
This can be a tricky proposition. Do you make your hero/heroine physically foils for each other? Do you match them? How about the builds? Him slight? Her curvy?
You have a million options!!!
One caveat, in my opinion. Do NOT make caricature characters. The ditzy blond with big boobs and no IQ. The jock with more muscles than sense.
Just ewww.
Each character is unique such as each person is unique. Strive to be different yet true to your character's voice. Physical appearance is often extremely telling in the story. And that can be a lot of fun.
Okay my lovelies...my example for the day: Ewan McGregor
Study the two pictures at the top of my blog.
The one on the left is hot. I gotta go with that. The one of the right is certainly not. I think he was attractive in the Star Wars flicks but watched Deception, hope that's the right name, the other night, and he looked like a pre-Spiderman Peter Parker. ugh
Same guy.
Different hair and threads.
Amazing, huh?
I was going to post Hugh Jackman as Wolverine and then Leo in Kate and Leopold. But I was afraid I'd be too distracted to post.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Secondary Characters

I like secondary characters. They're a nice cushion to the story for me. The only problem with a secondary character lies in ego. When he/she gets altogether too big for his/her literary britches, there must be a "Come to Jesus meeting."

Most secondary characters realize their importance in your story. They are content to listen to hero/heroine bitching-whining-moaning-sexual exploits. It's fun. Kinda like therapy. They do their thankless job and then mosey on back to whatever it is they do besides occupy a story.
But not ALL of them.
Every once in awhile, you have a secondary character that stands up and gives his/her version of the "I Have a Dream Speech."
"When you took on the responsibility to write a book, you were signing a promissary note to all characters herein. This note was a promise to all characters that we would be given certain unalienable rights such as life, liberty, and the pursuit of our own story arc. I have a dream that all characters are created equal. And I live in hope for the day that you finally find me Mr./Mrs. Right with a modicum of headaches."
If this character waits until my other story is almost finished or, I WISH, completely finished, then said character and I will sit down together and discuss business. If this character interrupts every scene I attempt to write by showboating and upstaging my main character(s), then there are issues.
What to do. What to do.
This can be tricky territory for a beginning writer. Or a writer with a series.
A beginning writer will spazz smooth out most times because...My God! Not only do you have one story to write, you now possibly have two. Simmer, JohnBoy. A beginning writer writes one story at a time. Start multi-tasking when everything else is smooth.
Series writers have a delicate operation to perform. Put secondary character(s) in the flow of the story without disrupting the main storyline. Tricky, my friends, tricky.
If you feel like you've veered off the main path and are now skipping down another trail holding hands with a secondary character while they bend your ear...GO BACK!!! Cease and desist. Shake free and RUN back to the main road.
You're the author. You don't get to meander.
Once again...LISTEN. It is honestly the best advice I can give any writer.
If Mr. SnappyPants continually butts into your writing flow and whines about his own story, set him straight. If he's really an annoying ass, jot down basics but do NOT push your main story aside.
Characters are pushy.
Sometimes ya gotta break out the whip and the chair.
Of course, with some of my books, they kinda like it.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

I'm not a jackass. The author wrote me that way.


I know we've all read characters that we would love to bitch slap. Myself included. They're infuriating. Arrogant. Conceited. Sorry pieces of work.
But can they change?
That's a bit of a loaded question now, isn't it?

I don't redeem a Too Stupid To Live character. *grins* Because I don't put any in my books. If you want fluff, go pick up a kitty from the pound. And if you want a vapid idiot with a blank look 0n her face, watch a Macy's ad with Jessica Simpson. (That was for you, Tori. *grins*)
Eye candy is great. Eye candy with an IQ less than his shoe size with a personality that's completely below his belt is just fucked up.
Moving on.

However, if you have a "wounded" hero, or an emotionally stunted hero (and I'm so not going there right now)...then you have possibilities. If you can engage a reader deep enough into this character's psyche and thought process, you've won. If you can wring a laugh or tear from a reader with this character, you've won. But if you only scratch the surface of this villainistic (is that a word?) character, then you've done the character and the reader a disservice.
Readers are voyeuristic.
I don't need to know that Mr. Emotionally Stunted man wears blue boxer briefs. But I do want to know what has made him into the person he is today. What happened to him? Sit him down on the mental couch in your therapist office cranium and let him speak. Will he open up to you?
This is big.
If you can open up this character and listen while he tells you of past tragedies and scars that he has, you've found a winner. If the arrogant prick simply looks at you and suggests making better use of your office table, move on.
It takes all kinds. Remember that.

If you place the sorriest piece of shit character in your book, you've lost. Keep in mind I'm talking about Romance here. I believe that these asshat characters are alive and well and living the high life in other genres.
The main story of any romance is love. Simply love. If I want to take an ice pick to a character's fictional heart, there's a problem. If every time I see the character, my blood pressure rises and not in a good way, there's a problem.

Look at the character. If he/she adds something to the story, keep him/her. If, however, you're wondering what in the hell possessed you...get rid of the character! My GOD! You're the AUTHOR. Don't ever forget it.
Next up:
I know you're the author. Now write me my own damn story.
Secondary characters with ego issues.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Progress and possibilities

First things first. I edited Earth Goddess this weekend. *grins* YAY!
I also wrote 6000 or thereabouts on WATS. That's puts me a little over half way. Love that.

But I have other things on my mind today. Mostly characters.
What makes a good character? How do characters fit together? What happens when you have an obnoxious ass of a character and then you must redeem him/her? What happens when a secondary character fairly screams for a book of his/her own?

Let's start with this basic fundamental idea: A good character is a REAL character. Not someone who is completely good or bad. Not some stupid caricature of what you think a character should be. The character must be as real to you as your own friends. Because, in fact, he or she certainly is or will soon be extremely important to you.
You two must talk one-on-one. You must cut through the bullshit with a blowtorch and find what makes that character tick. You and your character may hate the process. Too damn bad. Do it anyway. Be the therapist. Listen to what the characters says. Even the unspoken.
How do you picture the character? Freeze that image in your mind. What do you notice? What stands out to you? Take that. All of it. And remember it.

Throw two characters in a scene together and let the good times roll. Or the furniture fly. Either way. It's been said by many that if your hero is a fireman, let your heroine be an arsonist or varying variations on that. I say pft. And you can quote me.
That may make for some interesting conversations. And probably some dynamic external conflict, but let's face it. Is that all ya got?
Characters come in every flavor under the sun. You can have the Alpha. Which, holy shit, the Alpha Hero is HAWT. *fanning self* But he can also come off as an asshole. The Alpha Heroine is bold. That can translate into "bitch" fairly easy. Then you have the Betta Hero. He's the "get along-go along" type guy. Laid back and all that.
And I've read that there is a Gamma Hero which nicely combines the two.
This ties into my whole black/white theory. PEOPLE are complex!!! Alpha men do not drag their collective knuckles on the ground and gnaw on a turkey leg. Okay. Some might. But you know what I mean.
A man and a woman thrown together in any given situation will have his/her own opinions, actions, and feelings. The fun part is watching it unfold.
Two Alphas would be like watching Maddy Hayes and David Addison (God, I loved Moonlighting. Remember the spin-off from Taming of the Shrew?) right before they (finally) got horizontal. She slapped him. He slapped her. Then they got to rolling around on the ground. And it was hot. Because there was so much verbal foreplay and tension built up between the two of them.
Throw your two main characters into a lovely locked room in your head. I know you have a couple empty rooms open. All writers do. Then watch from the two-way mirror. What happens? Does she scuff her toe while he paces? Or do they work together to figure out what's going on? WATCH THEM. Take it all in. And then use that. If they don't fit, then let them go. Or sequester them in a different place until you can find his/her better half. Don't force a coupling simply because you think they would be "perfect."
That's exactly my point.
Perfect doesn't exist.
Not here. And it shouldn't exist there, either.
Next blog: Asshole Characters. Kill them or redeem them?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

It started again.

Yes. It.
The creativity which flows from my poor tired cranium.

Let me explain something about my lovely self. The first thing, the VERY first thing, I have for my book is the title. Then I fill in the details.
Is that laughter I hear out there???
Told you I was backwards. lmao

So I'm at work pondering the nature of the cosmos and what grenadine really is when it hits me.
Four new titles. In a series.
*considering doing harmful things to myself with the nearest paper clip*
I swore when I finished the Elemental Guardian series that I would never NEVER do that again.
More laughter?
You sadistic buttheads.

It's messed up. Seriously. That's all I'm saying. But here I am editing Earth Goddess (Book 4), and I LOVE that book. My editor loves that book. Can you see the sunshine and hear the birds sing? I'm not KIDDING!!!

I'm likening this to childbirth.
After I had the Oldest Chicken (all 8 lbs and 12 ozs of her)...I looked up at her dad and said, "We're only having one."
Yeah. Two more daughters later...
Because you forget!

Sure it hurt like hell. You don't think you're ever going to be done. There are no drugs good enough for this, I swear. But in fact...Baby Chicken's water didn't break. And I was in labor. So about 11 minutes after the doc broke my water (after two days, I shit you not)...out came BC. And no. The answer to your question would be...the fucking stadiol had NOT kicked in yet. But she was only 6 lbs 5 ozs.

Wow. Went off on a Mama tangent there, didn't I?

So to sum up:
I have another idea for a four book series.
I obviously have issues about childbirth and lack of good drugs.
I cannot freaking BELIEVE that I did this to myself.

Carry on.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Crossing genres and pissing readers off

Sometimes these two items walk hand in hand. The cause-and-effect can leave a nasty little taste in the readers' mouths.

When a reader picks up a romance...they want happily-ever-after.
When a reader picks up a thriller...they want a nice game of cat-and-mouse.
When a reader picks up a horror...they want nightmares.

A reader will know what they want when they pick up the book. Books that cross genres are subject to being tossed at the wall and generally defamed and defiled on Amazon.com discussions--IF the reader does not receive what he/she expected when he/she picked the book up.
There is much of a fuss about J.R. Ward's books. Some, okay many, say that she's gone the way of dark, urban thriller type. Some readers don't care for the graphic sex (and sometimes a little bdsm) that goes with the story. And I will readily admit that her HEA's are a bit iffy.
I'm picking on J.R. for one reason. I read her books. In fact, my dearest one gave me the entire set for Christmas. heh
Okay. I'm simply saying that a ghost/vampire relationship can be a bit iffy. I can understand Rhage's story because Mary can't have kids. It was sort of a trade-off for the Scribe Virgin.
No problem.
I loved Butch and Marissa's story. Even with the homosexual overtones from V. *shrug* No big deal. Then we have Phury and his multitude of Chosen Ones at his house. Lord love the man. Or pity him. Too bad he gave up the red smoke, huh?
To Rhev. And the Princess. And all the sick, twisted shit she makes him do to get off. The scenes are graphic. But I know it's not about love/sex. It's about control. They fight for it. And it can be pretty fucking ugly.
Sometimes I wonder if J.R. has let the romance go a bit in order to go darker with the BDB's stories. I've hung so far because I have time invested in the Brothers. They are as real to me as my own characters. I haven't quite reached that point where I will call it quits and look for someone else to appease my Paranormal Romance wants.
Not. Quite. Yet.
Stephen King writes horror. Though I wager some would be surprised at the romance in his books. Yeah, I said it. ROMANCE in a Stephen King book. But that's extra. I read his books to savor the magnificence of his storytelling. I don't look for a HEA. In fact...get this...he LOVES to kill off at least ONE major character. He does it all the time. But I take that with a grain of salt because I know I'm not reading his book for warm fuzzies.
So I offer up a bit of a warning here. Be careful if you try to cross genres. It's kind of like Ghostbusters (Yeah. I'm pulling an eighties movie out of my mind vault. So when you find yourself humming the theme to "Ghostbusters" and craving marshamallows later...don't blame me.). If you cross the stream...you don't know what you're going to get.
Please...for the love of GOD...do NOT tell me it's a romance if it's not. Don't lead your readers to your book with promises that you can't or won't keep. There's truth in advertising. Believe me.
Your readers will thank you for it.
ADDENDUM: I don't want to come off like I'm saying that crossing genres is bad necessarily. But it's when you deviate from your original genre and spiral toward another...you can keep your balance, or you can forsake what brought readers to you in the first place. It's a consideration.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

I had no idea

Over a decade ago, I gave birth to three lovely girls. A year apart. Every October.
I didn't have a clue. I had not thought ahead to when the three babies would be thirteen, fourteen, and fifteen. I had not thought ahead to the advent of said children absolutely dying for a cell phone. Or a car. Or college.
Oh no. Not me. Didn't give it a second thought.
But think about this...I carried a diaper bag around for five years. I was pregnant 1993, 1994, and 1995. During the summer. I had two children in diapers for four years in row. It was a love/hate relationship with Luvs. You get the picture.

I thought life was good when I gave up the diaper bag. I bought a little bitty purse that would barely hold a pack of cigarettes. Not that I smoked at the time. I didn't. But it was so nice to downsize into something I couldn't fit a small child into.

Baby Chicken will turn thirteen in 3 weeks. Oldest Chicken will turn sixteen next October. Middle Chicken is all over me about getting her a cell phone.
Me? I'm just trying to keep us in feminine products.
Just saying.

And not only are there BIG items that I just didn't have a clue or chose to ignore...there are small items.
The television for example. When the girls were young, I would watch Barney six times a day. This is NOT an exaggeration. I even took them to go see the big purple guy when he was at the State Fairgrounds doing a show. I have watched a two hour VHS tape of Gumby. My brain cells fought the good fight but eventually gave up the ghost and died. It was one of the most mindnumbing experiences of my life.
My point? I made SACRIFICES!
That's what we Moms do.

But now the girls are more than happy to try and impose their television watching will on me.
Color me displeased.
As I was bitching to Tori about the other day...I didn't watch 90210 the first time around. Why in the hell would I want to watch The Next Generation??? Middle Chicken likes Gossip Girl. They watched Privileged last night.
I am DYING here!
Wasn't it enough that I gave til it hurt with Barney and Gumby?
Apparently not.

The only trade-off being...it's football season.
Guess who has control of the tv on Sundays?
You better believe it.
Are you ready for some football?
And you Chickens...ready or not-here it comes.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

It's that time again...

I can't stay away from my bag of candy corn!!!
Look at all that waxy sugar in fall colors! Who could refuse all that??? lmao

So tell me. What's your Halloween weakness? God knows the stores already have the candy lining the shelves.
OC loves snickers. MC loves anything sour. Warheads will do. And BC love Reese's.
I'm usually not that into the sugar, but you wouldn't be able to tell today.

Different but the same

I'm a different type of woman. I enjoy ballet, opera, and the UFC. It's all poetry in motion to me.
So I was saddened to hear about Evan Tanner passing. He was only 37. That's a hell of a short life.
One year older than I am.
Ok. Five months older. *smile* If you want to nitpick.

It simply goes to show that nothing is guaranteed. There is no money-back clause anywhere. He or She who dies with the most toys doesn't win. It just leaves those left behind something to fight about.

And that brings me to something else I've been pondering over lately. I have taken up poetry again. I usually only pick it up when my emotions are chaotic, and I look to sort things through. But I've found that I enjoy the self-expression that poetry affords me.
Romance writing comes from my heart.
Poetry comes from my soul.

So rest assured my lovely blog readers. I'm still the same prolific and snarky chick as always. The introspection doesn't change me. It simply lets you see another side.


Saturday, September 06, 2008

Not a day wasted

sometimes I see the clouds
sometimes I see the sun

sometimes I hold it all together
sometimes I come undone

sometimes I cry to my depth
sometimes I laugh with all my soul

sometimes I clench it tightly to me
sometimes I simply let it go

sometimes I know the reason
sometimes it's so unclear

sometimes I stand unwavering
sometimes I'm simply lost in fear

sometimes I think I'm getting it right
sometimes I fear that all is wrong

sometimes I'm weak with thoughts of worry
sometimes I realize that I am strong

sometimes I wonder with days that pass
fragile as snowflakes
sharp as glass

then I take a deep breath and let it go
each day I live
is a day I grow

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

What did I do this Labor Day weekend?

I wrote.

Now most of you are nodding your collective heads and thinking...of COURSE you did.
But here's the stunner: I wrote 10,000 words each Saturday, Sunday, and Monday.
And why in the world would I do that?

Because I'm a procrastinating goober.

I've known that I had to get my rear in gear for Earth Goddess. I didn't have to struggle with the story like I did Wind Goddess. That wasn't it. But all the outside influences of my life, and they are NUMEROUS, totally shut down the creative juices.
Write while my ulcer flares and burns? Eh. No.
Write while I ponder how in the hell I'm going to pay my electric AND put propane in the tank? Not so much.
Write while dodging calls from school administration informing me that Middle Chicken has gotten into hot water? I was seeing red. How was I supposed to write?
Write while dealing with two exes? Are you SHITTING me???

I postponed and put off. Watched the calendar tick day after day away. It was slightly terrifying.
So that prompted my writing marathon. And can I say that I wrote over a thousand words an hour?
The story was more as if I were transcribing than putting it together.
It was fantastic.
I laughed. I cried. I LOVE this story!!!
The girls played a new PS2 game all weekend. I would look up from my writing business and root them on or give them hell...whichever the time called for.

This Labor Day weekend I wrote. I wrote 30,000 words and finished Earth Goddess with a smile a mile wide and pumping fists.

If I can bottle that goodness for WATS.