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The Importance of Characters

Published Books with a Host of Characters

 

Lately, I've shared character interviews on my Blog. They included a protagonist, an antagonist, and a support character.

 

The importance of characters to a story cannot be understated. If readers can't identify with characters, love characters, or despise/hate characters, why would they care about what happens to them in the story? They won't.

 

I try to create interesting characters in each story. I strive to give each and every character their own voice, their unique life, their own goals, and their own motives for doing what they do. The last thing I want are cookie-cutter people marching to a set formula.

 

I enjoy giving characters a sense of humor that emerges in quirky ways. That touch of humor adds an interesting dimension to a character and story. It's useful to lower intensity and add silliness to a situation.

 

Relationships with other characters provide opportunities to explore the dynamics of a situation through their interactions. I enjoyed creating the brotherly feelings and attitudes between Caleb and his older brother, Josh, in Sparks Fly. Their interactions when together or talking on the phone added insight into the protagonist, Caleb.

 

Creating bad guys or gals is interesting. Antagonists are especially needed in romantic suspense stories. In the Consequential Love Series, Garrett faced a host of bad guys. And in Playground Antics, both Jace and Beth had confrontations with the scheming Mayor Roebel. Personally, I found him an easy guy to hate. Those characters add to the conflict in a story, which is an important element to the plot.

 

I like creating loving, caring support characters. Parents and friends have filled this role in my stories. Ben and Julie in Accidental Attraction added support and humor to the story. I still laugh at the thought of Ben scurrying across the hall to the bathroom, naked as a jaybird!

 

Bottomline is characters can make or break a story. I hope you have enjoyed the many characters found in my books.

 

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Character Interview - Mayor Paul Roebel, the Antagonist from Playground Antics

 

 

1. Introduce yourself to our readers. Where do you fit into the story? What should we know about you?

 

I'm Paul Roebel the mayor of Tyson. As mayor, I take care of my citizens by ensuring their tax dollars buy only the best work. So, many of the contracts are awarded to my longtime friend Tom Hadler's construction company, H.C. Construction. Playground Antics revolves around my new Special Projects Coordinator, Beth Collins, and her misguided efforts to award and manage a contract for our new park's playground. By using "fair" practices instead of our tried-and-true procedures, the contract goes to an upstart company, Falcon Construction. You should know I'm willing to go to great lengths to ensure my city runs smoothly.

 

2. What do you think about the author? Tell us everything. We want to know.

 

Elaine writes well and has a flair for suspense and romance. On the downside, she only captured the disreputable side of my life and activities.

 

3. What are your feelings about this story?

 

The focus of the story was unfairly misdirected away from me, the true hero of Tyson! Other than that, it's a well-written romantic suspense.

 

4. How do you feel about being a character in this book?

 

I'm a pivotal and necessary character. Without me there would be no Playground Antics.

 

5. What do you see in your future? (No spoilers please!)

 

Nothing earth-shattering as I'll be out of touch for a while.

 

6. Is there a Sequel in the future? Will you be part of it?

 

I doubt if there's a sequel. If there was one, it's doubtful I'd be invited back. For some reason, I'm persona non grata. Go figure.

 

7. Say a movie producer comes knocking. What actor would you want to play you and why?

 

I'm leaning toward Billy Zane. Why? His character in Titanic was a misunderstood rich guy, the same as me.

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The Meet Cute Beat for a Romance

 

I was working on future Facebook posts and hit on the idea of posting on how I tackled the meet cutes in my books. That led to this blog post discussion/review of this critical element of any romance.

 

According to various writing books and experts, every story flows through a variety of beats. The critical one for a romance is the "Meet Cute" beat. This is when your main characters have their initial meeting, hence the name…the meet cute.

 

After introducing my characters, how they first meet, and their reactions are important moments in the story. I prefer tingles or sparks of awareness hitting each one during their first meeting, but I haven't always held to that preference.

 

In Resolute Love, which contains the meet cute for The Consequential Love Series, Leigh discovers a wounded and nearly frozen to death Garrett in the backyard during a blizzard. They experience instant positive reactions to each other.

 

However, in Accidental Attraction, Zach's immediate response to Emily is anger because her shank from the driving range ruined his chance for a course record. Of course, he quickly realizes the error of his ways.

 

In Restoration, Alex expects to meet with an aging, stoop-shouldered farmer. Imagine her surprise when Seth shows up—young, tall, muscular, and handsome. When they shake hands, mutual awareness occurs, and their romance is in high gear from the start.

 

Sparks Fly hops back to a questionable meet cute. Ivy suspects Caleb of being a con man out to fleece her grandma. When they meet, Ivy confronts Caleb with glares. He actually backs away from her. There's no touching, no tingles only wariness and hostility. As he remarks to Avis, the grandmother, "Rather intense, isn't she?" Needless to say, Ivy and Caleb get beyond this initial hostile meeting.

 

With Playground Antics, I returned to tingles of awareness with Beth and Jace's first meeting. The development of their attraction builds within the confines of the story and with each meeting.

 

In my current work in progress, Green Eyes & Dimples, Beth and Matt's meet cute doesn't require touching, although they do shake hands but without tingles. It's more their initial impressions and thoughts during the meet cute. We learn of Tracie's reaction as it happens, and Matt's is uncovered shortly after.

 

Bottomline, a romance needs a meet cute. It's a critical moment in any romance.

 

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Character Interview - Avis Cox, the Heroine's Grandma in Sparks Fly

 

Another character interview. Enjoy!!

 

1. Introduce yourself to our readers. Where do you fit into the story? What should we know about you?

 

I'm Avis Cole, the grandmother to the heroine, Ivy Cole, and neighbor to the hero, Caleb Grant. I'm key to these youngsters meeting and accepting their attraction to each other. Some may think I'm a meddling grandma, but I claim I'm looking out for the well-being of my granddaughter. I'm an excellent judge of character and recognized the good in Caleb—no matter that he looked like a pirate (eye patch and scarred cheek.) I aided in their successful picnicking excursion. They're bright youngsters and understood the concept of picnicking without a detailed explanation.

 

2. What do you think about the author? Tell us everything. We want to know.

 

Elaine knows what she's doing and crafted our story with precision. Our personalities came across well. I enjoyed interacting with everyone, especially Caleb's parents.

 

3. What are your feelings about this story?

 

Poor Caleb went through so much in his life, but my Ivy helps him. The ending is satisfying, and I'm especially pleased with it.

 

4. How do you feel about being a character in this book?

 

I have an important role in this book, which I performed with grace and feistiness.

 

5. What do you see in your future? (No spoilers please!)

 

I have grandma duties to keep me busy and in my happy place.

 

6. Is there a Sequel/another book in the future? Will you be part of it?

 

Oh my goodness! I don't believe another book is necessary unless one of Caleb's brothers needs my help.

 

7. Say a movie producer comes knocking. What actress would you want to play you and why?

 

Someone like Estelle Getty, who played the feisty Sophia on The Golden Girls. Unfortunately, she's passed, but she's the type who could capture the true essence of Grandma Avis!

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Spring Has Arrived!

Springtime in my backyard

 

With the arrival of spring, my thoughts have turned to writing outside and enjoying the warmer weather and nature. That leads me to thoughts of where authors write.

 

I believe in writing wherever you can. A fancy space isn't a necessity.

 

Some have rooms filled with aids to help them like boards filled with note cards to track the story outline by scenes. Others may use electronics to plot their story. I'm nowhere near that organized and, besides, I'm a pantser meaning I write on the fly by the seat of my pants! No outlines for me.

 

Some may have a dedicated space for their writing. Be that a dedicated room or a separate building like a cabin or writing shed. Think she shed or man cave dedicated to writing.

 

There may be music involved. I follow an author on Facebook who listens to ambient music while writing. I listen to my old LPs of '70s and '80s music when I'm editing or working on Facebook posts.

 

Writing for me usually happens in the living room with the TV on. What's playing you ask? Golf, news, or a movie I've seen way too many times. Often, this is at night when I'm sitting beside Mike, and Missy is either sleeping or asking to play with a squeaky toy. During the day, I may sit on the back porch in nice weather with Missy with me or she's out in the yard. Then I'm serenaded by the calls of crows, blackbirds, cardinals, killdeers, mockingbirds, a variety of small birds, or the sounds of machines used by neighbors as they tend their yards. That last will drive me inside!

 

I have even written in the Durango while Mike drives us somewhere on vacation. The trick to this location is being able to read my writing. LOL

 

So, as I said write wherever you can. The important thing is the writing!

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Character Interview - Garrett Dane, the Hero in The Consequential Love Series

First Book of The Consequential Love Series

My publisher came up with the idea of conducting interviews of characters from our books. I thought it sounded like fun, so I'm sharing them with you on occasional Blog Posts. Enjoy!

 

Character Interview – Garrett Dane, The Consequential Love Series

 

1. Introduce yourself to our readers. Where do you fit into the story? What should we know about you?

 

Hi, I'm Garrett Dane from The Consequential Love Series, Resolute Love, Challenged Love, and Victorious Love. I'm the male main character, guess you could say I'm the hero. You should know my history. I served in the U.S. Air Force. Enlisted after graduation from high school and got my dream job of serving in the Security Forces, I learned I had a knack for investigations, so I transferred to the Air Force Office of Special Investigations. I survived deployments to war zones. The loss of my partner in an investigation led to my separating from the Air Force and returning to my home state of Minnesota. I continued serving in law enforcement with the MN Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.

 

2. What do you think about the author? Tell us everything. We want to know.

 

Elaine is creative and writes steamy love scenes! She's what they call a pantser, so she didn't mind when we characters took over her plot with ideas of our own. We appreciated that freedom!

 

3. What are your feelings about this story?

 

Personally, I loved each of the stories. The mixture of romance and suspense with a touch of humor struck the right chord for my taste.

 

4. How do you feel about being a character in this book?

 

I'm glad she wrote me as the hero, I appreciate the strong name she gave me, even if my first name came off a road sign. Inspiration is all around us after all.

 

5. What do you see in your future? (No spoilers please!)

 

All of my dreams coming true, including those I don't realize I have.

 

6. Is there a Sequel/another book in the future? Will you be part of it?

 

I sincerely hope so. Elaine wrote a nice short story for a challenge that centered on Leigh and my first May Basket Day together. It holds significance to us as it came up in Victorious Love.

 

7. Say a movie producer comes knocking. What actor would you want to play you and why?

 

Someone suitable for my charming personality, courage, and physical attributes. Do I get a say in the final selection? Although Elaine did a wonderful job at selecting photos for our book covers! Did you see me on the cover of Resolute Love? Can we get someone like him?

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Why I Write and More

My Writing Tools

The other day I created a future Facebook post for my author page and it began with the question, Why do I write? I thought it would be fun to delve further into the answer here on my Blog. So, here we go!

 

I enjoy writing fiction, and it turns out I have a knack for it. This type of writing is way different than the writing I did in my work: performance appraisals, award citations, and official reports just to name a few, and all were nothing like writing fiction.

 

Once I have an idea, the story basics formulate in my head: main characters, the beginning, the ending, and possibly some stops along the way. As I write, details and scene ideas fall in line.

 

I have often contemplated scenes I'm not satisfied with at night while lying in bed. My mind stays active with alternatives, so I don't fall asleep until late. Fortunately, I do remember the next day what I came up with!

 

I enjoy creating believable characters, the type of characters readers will care about, urging them to succeed, or hate, cheering for their defeat. Giving characters their voice and personality is fun. Their names need to fit them, also. I try to stick to the suggestion of three to four syllables for the names.

 

Dialogue is a joy to write. I use more dialogue in my stories than other authors. I find how the characters talk provides insight into them and gives me an interesting way to share their personal story. I hope my readers enjoy the dialogue in my stories. I had one person comment on how much they enjoyed the banter between two characters and how they'd never seen that before in books they'd read.

 

Writing romances is enjoyable. Writing about the characters from their first meeting (the meet cute) to their happy ever after is a pleasure to create. Of course, for my stories, there are a few steamy love scenes thrown in for good measure! Yes, I love happy endings! Adding a touch of suspense is enjoyable. I even tried a romantic comedy, but perhaps need a bit more humor.

 

I've learned my characters often grab hold of the story and run with it in a direction I hadn't considered. Yes, this happens, and I like it when my characters take ownership of their story!

 

My stories become movies in my head. Visualizing actions helps me describe gestures, body language, and action. Whenever I read a book, the same thing happens. When I put a book down, no matter how much time has passed, the movie picks up where I left off. The same thing happens when I write.

 

So, I write to share my stories with others. I'm always hopeful people enjoy them.

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The Craft of Writing: Show Don’t Tell

This is age old guidance we authors receive over and over again. At least for as long as I've been writing my romances.

 

How am I supposed to show you? By using the five sense of my characters. What do they see, hear, taste, touch, and smell? So, rather than TELL you what the character is experiencing, I should SHOW you. This way you experience what they do.

 

How do you feel about that? Do you want to imagine why the characters crinkled their noses upon entering the house? Or would you rather be told directly that garbage and a decomposed body greeted them?

 

Personally, I believe show don't tell requires an author to trust the reader to understand the scene through the showing. So, the words I use are critical and requires deep thought and deliberate choices.

 

I find this a challenging concept, and I have a tendency to fall into telling mode too often. It's not that I don't trust my readers, because I do. I'm unsure whether I've shown what I intended for the scene in a thorough and concise way. Did I  use the right word? Did I use the best word? It's a work in progress.

 

There are appropriate times for both showing and telling, so I must decide which works best for my story at a particular point. No one ever said writing is easy! I continually try to give you a story that transports you into the world and situations I've created. Trust me, I'm constantly learning more about the craft of writing!!

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Holiday Writing

Holidays! What wonderful, magical settings for stories, especially romances.

 

Last month was Thanksgiving. The word alone brings to mind family, travel, and delicious food. Plenty of opportunities for stories: conflicts between family members, the anxiety/exhilaration of bringing a new boyfriend/girlfriend to the family gathering, adventures of winter travel (flight cancellations or vehicles plowing into snowdrifts--meet cutes possible under either circumstance), or even humorous disasters with cooking mishaps.

 

Christmas is mere days away. Again family issues exist—whose home does the couple go to? Shopping escapades might begin with Black Friday sales and continue to frantic Christmas Eve shopping (picture a gas station convenience store.) And let's not forget decorating woes or accidents. This could be house decorating or cookie decorating. Travel again comes into play.

 

Next comes New Years. OMG! New Years Eve is fraught with story opportunities for turmoil, conflict, humorous meetings, and questionable decisions. The promise of the new year might lead to new beginnings or resolutions of unattainable desires or expectations.

 

[I'm sure as you read this, thoughts of stories you've read or movies you've seen have come to mind.]

 

On we go into a plethora of holidays to enjoy and write about. I'm talking about those on the calendars. Authors can create their own holidays to fit the story they envision!

 

Enjoy the holidays of any season. As you celebrate, consider what's happening around you. They might inspire your inner writer!

 

 

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Holiday Prep

The holidays are upon us! Many romance authors write stories focused on the holidays, especially Christmas. After all, it is a premiere holiday associated with love and romance. (Yes, I've been watching Hallmark Christmas movies. Have you?)

 

Unfortunately, I still haven't followed suit. I've considered a Christmas-themed story, but my creative juices fail me. ☹  Perhaps a post-Christmas story? Now I have ideas…love found in the gift return line; an accident while taking down outdoor decorations and a beautiful paramedic responds to the 911 call; a single mother with an adorable little one (they're always adorable, aren't they) hires a hunky handyman to take down her decorations. The ideas are percolating!! Appears I do better with post-Christmas ideas than pre-Christmas ideas. I suppose the last two could be turned into pre-Christmas…hmm, there may be hope for Christmas 2024.

 

Completing stories prior to the corresponding holiday is necessary for success. My February Blog post of story ideas was based on "forgotten/neglected" holidays. I've been running with my 4th of July idea about an errant rocket setting a she-shed on fire. The story is taking shape, and I have time before 4 July 2024 to finish writing and editing…timing is everything!

 

So, with thoughts generating for holidays, I give thanks for the fans of my writing and the gift of creativity.

 

Happy Thanksgiving!

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