Thursday, September 29, 2011

Mad, Bad and Dangerous to know



The above line was said of Lord Byron, and one lovely reviewer of Fledgling on Amazon said the same of my vampire, Will. Women are often attracted to the bad boys – they don’t necessarily keep them for long, but bad boys are the forbidden fruit who can tempt women to stray.

I adored writing Will’s character, although it almost seemed that he developed and grew on his own. I had enormous fun picturing his face in my head, then his hair, his eyes ... his build. I knew he would be tall – my husband is over six feet tall and I have a ‘thing’ for tall men! But once he ‘fleshed out’ in a manner of speaking, his personality was the next most important thing. I felt he needed a dry sense of humour ... he’d need it after all those decades on this earth. He would be ruthless, powerful and passionate. Also, let’s face it, after three hundred years, he’d know how to win a woman over too, or at least he did until he met Elinor!

A character clash is always fun to write, and I wondered what would happen if the very modern Ellie didn’t swoon at the elegant feet of the Vampire Elder of London as he expected her to. He wouldn’t be accustomed to rejection that’s for sure. Ellie’s character became the foil to Will’s old-world charm. She scoffs at him, turns him down, and leads him a fine old dance, which is how it should be. He, in turn, is bemused, angry, frustrated, yet totally besotted.

A man from Will’s era, particularly a member of the aristocracy, would have been used to everyone deferring to them at all times, and his character had to have moments when the 18th century Duke peeked through. I needed to show parts of the story from his point of view in order for that to happen, and for his occasional frustration at not understanding Ellie to become obvious.

I have lived side-by-side with Will and Ellie for a while, and they have become a permanent part of my life now, almost like old friends. I find I talk about them sometimes as though they’re real – which I suppose in my imagination they are! Will has actually become the Elder of London and he really does live in Highgate, North London. I know what he would say at almost any time, and I know what Ellie would retort back.

The dialogue between characters is what helps make them real in my opinion. It is so important to get right. I made a decision early on not to allow Will any contractions of speech, so he would always say, “I do not” instead of “I don’t.” It helped create the illusion of great age and his ‘Duke-ness.’ He is usually very courteous – except when he isn’t – and is totally unpredictable. Sometimes it has been difficult to rein him in, he’s a very forceful character after all, but thank goodness for Ellie!

Neither of the two main characters are based on real people, although I’m sure bits of my own personality comes out in them both. It’s inevitable I think. Some of the secondary characters in Fledgling have odd characteristics, some of which I’ve noticed in people I’ve met, liked or disliked, and I think that’s probably true of every author. Writers do tend to soak up atmospheres and personalities, which occasionally, pop up in varFont sizeious guises in their books. Having said that, none of my characters are based solely on one person, they are all a mish-mash of different traits and foibles I’ve observed over the years. Some good and some bad! I wanted all of the characters in Fledgling to shine, and to ring true in their own right, no matter how minor their part in the story. I hope I succeeded.

Excerpt of the part where Ellie begins to notice Will as something other than her oppressor.

Will led the way through the other cellar, to the door which I now knew opened onto the walled garden at the back of the house. We went out into the cold night. The dark sky was clear, with just a sliver of winter moon, shining bright and alluring. I stared up at it, feeling an affinity with her cold beauty. “It’s so beautiful.”
“As are you,” said Will.
Okay, who are you, and what have you done with Mr Spooky?” I responded to a compliment in my normal flippant manner, much to my own surprise.
“Is that who I am?” he murmured, and I twisted around to look at him.
The moonlight shone on his dark hair, and illuminated his pale chiselled features, accentuating the cheekbones. His eyes glowed with an ethereal light. I looked at him as he gazed down at me with those incredible eyes. Oh yeah, there was definitely something really spooky about him. His expression appeared softer than usual, which I found confusing, and I stepped away from him in sudden panic. His expression instantly became amused again.
What would it be like to be held throughout the night in those strong arms? The thought leapt unbidden into my head, followed by more treacherous thoughts…

Sunday, September 25, 2011

What's an ennagram?


I took a wonderful class by Laurie Schnebly Campbell  about using Ennagrams to build characters. I'd never heard of ennagrams before and found the class fascinating. It divides personalities into  basis types. When we write we assign characteristics to our people and this is a basic tool. For more information Laurie can be found at www.BookLaurie.com

Here is a breakdown of what notes I took giving all credit to Laurie for the list.

1. To the Perfectionist life is always right or wrong; moral decisions black or white and he sets high standards for himself and others.
2. A Nurturer is constantly giving and doing for others. She is always proud of being needed, sometimes secretly by acting humble
3. An Achiever can be either a Prince Charming or a Golden Girl with a facade concealing his weaknesses.
4. A Romantic displays his powerful emotions and  her grand visions for life. Her reality is always less than her ideal.
5. An Observer is analytical and detached. He prefers private study to involvement in emotional situations.
6. The Skeptic is always doubtful. She constantly considers possible risks to loved ones and to oneself and is hesitant.
7. An Adventurer is one who loves trying new things and constantly seeks excitement.
8. The Leader is our hero,  confident and in control. As a villian he can have a lust for power. He  hides a vulnerable core.
9. The Peacemaker shows her balance. She never takes sides and tries to keep everyone content.

Can you guess from my excerpt what types my hero and heroine are?
From Ancient Blood

 “What makes you so important? Or is this another secret?”

Cole’s eyes darkened. “Lily. I’m pushing the line with you. Give me some slack.”

“I want answers, Cole.” She grabbed his arm as he turned and pulled him to a halt.

He gently, carefully drew her fierce grip into his grasp. His golden eyes heated as he lifted her hand to his lips. “I already told you, Lily. You’d have to mate with me to learn all my secrets.”

Urgent need raced from his lips to her center. His scorching gaze melted her from the inside out. All her being longed to step into his arms, to become one in a way she’d never known. She trembled as she recognized the danger.



For those of you in New England, I'll be at the
Write Angles Conference 2011
By writers, for writers — in our 26th year in Western Massachusetts Mount Holyoke, East Hadley MA

PANEL SESSION II – 11:15 am to 12:30 pm (Choose one)

Exploring the Avenues and Lanes of Sci-Fi/Fantasy (Andreola Room)
Moderator: Tanya Shersnow
Panelists: Holly Black, Corrina Lawson, Barbara Edwards
This panel will explore the sub-genres within this ever expanding genre, giving attendees a sense of what’s new in 2011, and offer advice and inspiration about associations and publishers within this genre.


I can be found:
 




Ancient Blood http://on.fb.me/naHRY5





Ancient Blood Buy link http://tinyurl.com/3f627vh

Monday, September 19, 2011

Writing Characters - Hero Style

I. Love. Heroes.

Of course, what's not to love? They're big, protective, complicated and tormented, and sexy as hell. I could read about what's going on in the hero's head and heart from page one to "The End."

And that's why I love to write them, too.

Our theme around here this month is characters. For me, heroes come much easier than heroines, which is maybe odd, of course, since I'm not a guy! But in most of the books I've written, it was the hero who spoke to me first and most consistently. It was the hero whose motivations, backstory and feelings I understood best. It was the hero who I most personally identified with.

My love for writing heroes is part of what led me to write my vampire romance, Forever Freed, in first person point of view from Lucien Demarco's perspective. First-person POV romance is not as common, as you know, because the readers want to see the romantic relationship come together from both sides. And that makes sense. But Lucien insisted that wasn't how his story was to be told. And it truly was his story. The romance is absolutely central, but his character arc is, by far, the most dramatically transformed of the two. And, so, first person point of view...

But, for this story, that was what made the most sense. It allowed me to really delve into the depths of his thoughts, feelings, reactions, and needs. It allowed me to put the reader right into the heart and mind of a vampire and make them sympathize with him when he wasn't always acting good or moral.

Here's a passage that builds empathy for the hero's plight:

I entered my dark parlor, knelt down before the hearth and built a fire. Starvation clawed at my gut. The girl’s unprecedented observation nagged at my mind. I needed a distraction.
Pulling a chair closer to the radiating heat of the fire, I bent and flipped the latches on the antique case. Raising the lid revealed one of the few mementos I permitted myself from my human life. The neck of the reddish-brown instrument filled my hand and felt like the only home I’d ever known. Nothing helped fill my endless time like my violin.
The instrument smelled of pine rosin, reminding me of idyllic days in Italy. Whenever I played, my human memories echoed as loud in my head as the notes sounded in the room.
Any pain those memories brought…well, it was deserved.
Soon, rich yearning tones filled the room. The melancholy of the anniversary hung over me still, and my dire need for sustenance didn’t help. It didn’t take long, therefore, before the image of the smiling blonde girl transformed in my mind’s eye into another girl, with olive skin and chocolate ringlets.
A girl who had once been my whole life.
        A daughter whom I had failed.

Who's not feeling a heart pang after reading that? Now, in this excerpt, we know Lucien's on a very wrong path, but we empathize with why he's behaving this way:

This new source promised freedom from my ancient dependency on the weak blood of animals and the punishing blood of evil-doers. Imagining what that freedom could mean for me, I wound my way through the hospital corridors towards a side exit.
And gasped as I walked into a haze of pure bliss.
A young woman approached the same exit, wearing the green scrubs of a doctor or nurse. Her golden blonde hair hung in a thick braid well past her shoulders. Her arms were tanned and, as I caught up with her, I could see where the sun brought out a light freckling across her upper cheekbones and nose. The color of her eyes was striking—a dazzling blue-green with nearly black edges around the iris. She was young and vital and pretty in a girl-next-door kind of way.
As beautiful as she was, her most remarkable quality had captured my attention in the first place: the extraordinary feelings of joy, affection, gratitude, and contentment washing off her. Her emotions tasted sweet and gripped every part of my body in warmth and pleasure. My borrowed euphoria left me dumbstruck as she hurried through the door and around the hospital drive. The intensity of the feeling diminished in direct correlation to her growing distance from me.
I gasped for more. Having lived without such feelings for so long, this reminder of true unqualified happiness beckoned to me. So I followed her. I stalked her emotions, grateful for the cloud-covered evening, and learned the location of her residence.
And then an unbidden thought entered my brain: If her emotions felt this good, what would it be like to consume her blood?
Certainly I’d feel her regret. But what came out of her would also be life-giving, humanity-restoring, beautiful, and sweet.
The thought of it was intoxicating. She was a temptation of such magnitude, I lost all capacity for reason or rationality. I simply had to have her, had to have that one fleeting feeling of light in the darkness, that one richly sweet moment free from pain and grief.
In that instant, I was so far gone it never occurred to me that my efforts to avoid the blood of bad humans led me to plan to kill a good one.
****
Driven by the promise of rapturous relief, I lurked around the edges of the beautiful woman’s life that night, but had no opportunity to claim her. She always seemed to be surrounded, as if the humans she knew were equally drawn to her.
I wasn’t interested in taking out others to get to her—hell, going after her at all was unconscionable, violated the rules I’d created to try to bring meaning and structure to my unnatural life. But defying her pull was about as possible as a moth resisting the lure of a flame....

Stalker much? LOL But don't you still feel just the littlest bit of sympathy for his plight? That's selling your character, and making your reader care even when they're misbehaving. And I don't think that would've been as possible without the first-person approach.

Plus, for the vampire lovers among us, who doesn't want to spend the majority of their reading time in the vamp's head? Come on! Tell me I'm wrong!!! LOL

 So, that's my take on characters. For my money, I'd rather read a character-driven story with a more common plot, than a plot-driven story with characters I don't care much about, like, or identify with. What do you think?

Thanks for reading!
Laura Kaye


A multi-published author of paranormal, contemporary and erotic romance, Laura Kaye’s hot, heartfelt stories are all about the universal desire for a place to belong. Laura is the author of the bestselling contemporary romance Hearts in Darkness and the bestselling paranormal romance Forever Freed. Just Gotta Say is Laura’s third published book, and she has a fourth releasing in November 2011. Laura lives in Maryland with her husband, two daughters, and cute-but-bad dog, and appreciates her view of the Chesapeake Bay every day.

GIVEAWAY ANNOUNCEMENT!!!

In celebration of the 4-month book birthday of Forever Freed tomorrow, TWRP author Calisa Rhose is interviewing Lucien at her blog and I'm giving away one signed copy of the book! Stop on over on 9/20 and visit me, Calisa, and Lucien!!!

OH!

A BIT MORE GOOD NEWS!
Forever Freed is a dual finalist in the NJRW Golden Leaf Contest for Published Authors in the best first book and best paranormal categories! I'm thrilled!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The People in My Head


My characters are the people who talk in my head. No, I don’t think I’m crazy. I have a little movie playing in my brain and those people acting in that movie are my characters. Basically, I just write down what I see, hear and feel. Those people are born (okay, created) to play that role. Most times, I learn about my story people as I write them. It surprises me, just as my readers, that the hero is a vampire! Well, okay, I might give that one away early, as in Sebastian’s case from The Witch and the Vampire. But, I didn’t know Lillian had a sister until she contacted her through her magic in The Witch and the Wolf. As soon as Melora appeared, I knew I had to tell her story, too.

Many authors I know create a character chart or conduct interviews with their story people to get a better understanding of who these people are and why they behave the way they do. I tried several times in the past to do this, but that method never worked for me. I found it too constricting. Perhaps it’s just that my story people like to rebel! But, now that I’ve started a series with The Merriweather Witches, I’ve found I need to keep track of their personalities and appearances. I’ve started an in-depth character chart for each of my characters. I’ve included details such as eye color, hair color, all the way through family history, likes and dislikes, and what sort undergarments they wear (don’t laugh, this is important when they’re undressing each other!). The trick with my method is I can’t fill in the chart until after I’ve finished their story. It makes it a little more difficult when plotting (especially if you’re not a panster!), but I feel like I know them better after the story is finished.

It’s sort of like if you meet someone for the first time at work. You see them every day, you know what they look like and how they appear, but you don’t really know them until you’ve spent some time with them, perhaps gone through a crisis or two together (why is the fax machine not working?, or worse, who spilled coffee on my notebook!?!). Then you begin to understand their little idiosyncrasies. You understand why they’re always late or always early, you find out about who they’re dating, if they’re married, do they have children, why they like to always wear blue. You must give them time to tell their story.

That’s how my characters and I operate.

Lillian Merriweather appeared in a snowy lane one day.

I was curious as to why she was there and where she was going. So, I followed her.

~Tricia Schneider worked at a bookstore for 12 years, 6 of those years as Assistant Manager. Now she writes full-time while raising her three young children. For more information visit her website, Facebook, Twitter or GoodReads or visit The Wild Rose Press to purchase her books.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Characters with Character

We've all met boring people. Some might even say I'm boring, if they were unfortunate enough to meet me on a zombie-like day, which are fewer and farther between now that my sleep schedule is returning to normal. (I've heard that happens as children age.)

But I digress. Boring people exist. They are characters with character merely by the fact that they are so boring, whether by droning on and on in monotone about how the fungus Gliocladium roseum produces hydrocarbons--not necessarily boring to those interested--or sitting in stoic silence while everyone else laughs uproariously at the funniest joke on earth--or course, that might just make the bore a boarish.

However, no one wants to read a book about a bore, or at least not one where the bore is the only character in the book, but I still bet the reader would remember the character if the writer were consistent enough in making him, or her, a bore.

Consistency is key in making characters with character. Even the mercurial character must consistently, though hopefully only in the most unpredictable ways, maintain the role by doing the unexpected or responding with an unlooked for biting or supremely witty response.

But how does one write a character with character?

Personally--assuming somewhere along the way I've managed to actually learn how do this--I've found it is impossible to do this in the first draft. The first draft captures the essence of the plot, provides a rough sketch of the character. It's the polish that brings out the shine though. Like an artist painting, pass after pass illuminates certain aspects of the characters, draws the reader's eyes to main features.

So, don't look at writing as a race to the finish. Don't think the first draft is the piece de resistance. Instead, take your time. Set the first pass aside for a day, a week, a month, whatever it takes to gain some perspective then layer on a second coat. Repeat until your work shines.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Characters

What makes a good character? A character needs to be realistic, to say and do things that a real person would. It throws me out of the story if the hero starts talking in a way I've never heard a guy speak. Cardboard villains are a pet peeve of mine when I read a story. However, that's rather hypocritical seeing how I have the worst time writing villains and having them seem real. :) I once read something that said when you write a villain, give them a trait the reader can like. As in the psychopath that loves animals. Or the demon with a case of OCD who lost her Jimmy Choo shoes. You as a reader might hate what they do--being evil--but you'll still have a bit of sympathy for them.

I've used the occasional character trait from a real person, but I've never modeled a character after a person. Ok, I lie. My very first book (which is hiding in the closet never to see the light of day again) was based on a guy I knew in HS. It didn't work out so well, and I've never done that again. :) My characters come to me when I think of the next story I want to write. So I know a bit of their backstory before I begin writing, but the way they express themselves, their particular character traits, don't come out until I start writing.

Who is your favorite character and why?



Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Fuel for Characters


Hi everyone

It's been a little while since I poked my nose in here at the blog. I thought I would drop by to talk about where the fuel for building characters come from (for me anyway).
Characters... where do they come from, how can a writer create a realistic person on paper? For me I like to think of characters as a fire. To build a good fire, that will burn strong and true, you need the right fuel, and you need to lay it out right.
My characters are always a mishmash, part out my head, and part from the real world. I've never used people I know in my stories, but things they've done add elements or shadings to my characters. Mostly though, it's little bits and pieces I pick up around me as I go about my day-to-day that help me build characters.

Here's an example. I recently went to a wonderful writers conference and one of the workshops was on sword-fighting. It was hosted by 4 wonderful gentlemen, dressed for a fight, with real swords in hand. Not only was it informative, but seeing real fighting in action was great. Not only that however, those men and their enthusiasm etc... were fuel. A little twig here, a larger log there, all fuel for future characters.

You looking for a little fuel of your own, or just want to watch two guys whack each other with swords?  Here's Nic Harrison & Shay doing a demo (they kept things pretty slow so we could see what they were doing).



Hope you enjoyed :)

Louise Delamore
 http://LouiseD.weebly.com






Sunday, September 4, 2011

It's all about Character


It’s all about the characters-

Or maybe not.  Plot has a lot to do with whether a book is good or not. If the plot is too big or the characters get lost in all the subplots, then the main plot isn’t strong enough. Or, the author wandered off course and forgot what the story is about or whose story it is.  But even a good plot can get bogged down by too many characters or characters with, well, no character.

When a writer creates a character, that character has to have a personality. And a backstory. But every character in a book can’t have his/her entire backstory spelled out. Then it wouldn’t be a book. It would be a list of traits and historical facts on people no one cares about. The backstory has to be woven into the characters’ personalities.  Events from the past motivate the characters to do what they do or think the way they think.  The past shapes them and the writer must be true to each character’s personality when making them act, re-act, or speak. Nothing is more irritating than male characters in a romance novel that all start sounding alike mid-way through.

If a secondary character is a prankster, then don’t have him brooding like the hero or saying things that aren’t in his nature.  Remember who your characters are and be true to them and their goals.

I have a tendency to get bogged down in the plot, but I don’t really have a problem with my characters. Except when they insist on becoming something I never intended.

Released May 2010
Set to release 9/28/11
While writing Out of the Darkness, I didn’t initially plan to make it a series. I had two historicals I was editing for submission.  But vampires were hot and I thought I had a unique twist. So, I concentrated on OTD.

Published 6/3/11
Initially, I wasn’t sure if Gerard was going to be untrustworthy or unforgiving of Vincent for turning him into a vampire. But Gerard was sure.  He wanted his own book and he wanted to be the hero. So, I let him have his way. Now, I'm working on his story, which is the sequel to Out of the Darkness. Now, a couple of other characters are whispering in my ear..."Tell my story next."

So, with a bit of luck and some plot changes, I hope to finish Gerard's story this year and submit it. Then, I just might have to listen to those other characters. 

All three of my books are available from http://www.thewildrosepress.com/index.php?main_page=advanced_search_result&search_in_description=1&zenid=1cfe0ab9ef1e11005af7c84a1b7a9ec6&keyword=Lilly+Gayle&x=45&y=7

And don't forget to check out other TWRP titles. www.thewildrosepress.com There's a romance for just about every taste!