Monday, April 30, 2012

An Excuse to be nosey!

That’s all research is really. I love people watching anyway, and I am addicted to snatches of other people’s conversations. I like to imagine an ‘end’ to their stories.
Obviously my ending would include vampires, werewolves and romance, but hey – it’s all good fun.

I don’t really do research for my characters themselves, unless I am writing a flash back to a different time in history. I always research the clothes, and the way of life in the relevant period, but the people themselves are purely imagination. Although the people-watching is a help of course. In Renegades there are a couple of stroppy teenagers, and it helps having known a few!

Fledgling is set in my favourite part of North London – Highgate. It’s a leafy, elegant area, close to Hampstead Heath, and is home to the famous and spectacular Highgate Cemetery. There are probably more millionaires per square mile in Highgate and Hampstead than anywhere else in England – with the possible exception of Alderley Edge in Cheshire, where a lot of famous footballers live!

Finding a house in Highgate for Will, my aristocratic three-hundred and thirty-six-year-old vampire, was a lot of fun. I spent many sunny afternoons walking around Highgate, looking at the beautiful Georgian houses, taking photographs, and imagining a secretive vampire living behind any one of the lovely historic facades.
Of course Google is a dream come true for most writers; everything you could ever need at your fingertips. I managed to find out the value of Georgian properties in Highgate, and have now officially given up any hope of ever living in one!

I walked around Highgate Cemetery many times too, taking notes and surreptitious photographs (they charge an exorbitant fee to take a camera in.) Thank goodness for smartphones with cameras. As a North Londoner, I know the areas in Fledgling pretty well, although places can change frighteningly fast, so it still made sense to revisit some of them. For instance, Jack Straw’s Castle, once a famous, historic inn, is now exclusive apartments, and the beautiful Kenwood House on Hampstead Heath is closed for the whole of 2012 for renovations. Luckily, Renegades, the sequel to Fledgling, is set in 2005, otherwise I wouldn’t have had my ideal wedding venue!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Create a Compelling Character by Barbara Edwards

What is the key to compelling characters who make a story live? 
There are a few basics. The first is to make them unique. That means make them so individual they draw you into their lives.
The idea for your character may be an actor, a trait from an acquaintance, or your imagination. It’s up to you to take that character and expand that start into a living, breathing person.
At a lecture on enneagram types by Laurie Schnebly Campbell I learned about dominant traits, something I’d been using for years without knowing it. This is a basic tool to associate three or four characteristics that illustrate his/her character. For example a perfectionist might have a need for order, control or an adventurer seeks excitement and new things. Check it out or attend a lecture. It’s extremely useful.
Every scene should show one or more of these characteristics through her dialogue, body language or thoughts. Add other related traits so your character is multifaceted and different form the others.
Use her surrounding to show who she is, her relationships or lack of, and her actions. She lives in the woods, a solitary life or in a busy city to be with or avoid people. Little things like a collection of cat figures from her childhood or a love of blueberry jam lend reality.
Use tags to distinguish your character. E.g. the hero is described a moving like a predator, his hair a golden mane, his moves cat-like.
In Ancient Awakening, my hero has animal characteristics. He’s comfortable in the dark, his hearing is keen, his sense of smell sharpened, so I balanced that with a logical mind.

Example from Ancient Awakening:
Steve’s fingers clawed through his rumpled hair as he absently adjusted the focus on his microscope. He needed another trim badly. His rapidly growing hair was more than an irritation. Along with his thickened nails, it was another symptom.
Frustrated when his vision remained blurred he closed his eyes. He had to take a break. He hadn’t slept since early yesterday morning. His ability to concentrate on the task at hand was keeping him sane, but his thoughts twisted with the implications of the discovery at the dump.
Swallowing a mouthful of the artificial protein drink he’d concocted when nothing else would settle in his stomach, he stared at the fresh slide sample.
What he’d seen of the bloodless corpse had poised him on the edge of panic. He couldn’t hesitate any longer. He pressed the heels of his hands against his eyelids to blot out the memory of Mel concentrating on the puzzle of the dead man, her changeable hazel eyes green with curiosity.
He didn’t want to think about Mel. The way she always moved like those too thin, sensuous women on the covers of glamour magazines, with slim hips, long legs and no breasts had his groin tightening. The longing to taste her lips added to his misery. He could smell her scent on the breeze.

What do you think is the most important characteristic?

Thursday, April 12, 2012

New Mates of the Guardians Story Released

His Capture, Her Rescue the third book in the Mates of the Guardians series released from The Wild Rose Press yesterday. Click here to visit the buy page. The story picks up where His Hope, Her Salvation left off and follows Eallair as he searches for his mate in Victorian England.

Masquerading as an American, Eallair, a Guardian Steward from another world, is searching Victorian England for the kidnapped mate of a fellow Guardian. When he meets Miss Harriet Cartwright, he knows her for the spirited, intelligent mate he has longed to find.

Since the death of their parents, Harriet has used her intelligence and sharp tongue to guard her sister from fortune hunters, but now that Prudence is close to choosing a husband, Harriet can consider her own future—one hopefully filled with adventure. When she meets Eallair, an American rancher who likes to travel and isn’t put off by her outspokenness, she is intrigued.

But before Harriet and Eallair can explore their attraction, she and her sister are kidnapped. While Eallair scours the countryside for them, Harriet discovers Eallair’s off-world origins. Now she must decide: just how much adventure does she want in her future?

Harriet squinted at the unknown man towering over her. The sun behind him deepened the shadows of an angular face. Hollows carved the area beneath prominent cheeks, and a sharp jawline led to a pointed chin. Where some men might have chosen to sport a beard to relieve the harshness, he did not. His lips were rather full and his nose a tad crooked, as if broken and never properly reset. Focusing on each individual feature, he was rather unattractive, but coupled with strange tawny eyes and golden hair, he was arresting, an American mountain lion among English lapdogs.

Her heart leaped though she told it he was probably seeking permission to speak with her sister. She sighed. After all, it was the usual reason strange men approached her.

He bowed. “Miss Cartwright, might I have the pleasure of your company for a stroll in the gardens?”

Her pulse raced at his accent—an American mountain lion in truth. If he was looking for an introduction to Prudence, surely he wouldn’t want to stroll in the gardens?

Her eyes narrowed. But, why would he be interested in her? Every other man of her acquaintance considered her difficult to manage at best, a termagant at worst. Perhaps he was another American in need of an heiress? She sniffed. She hated fortune hunters.

“Sir, you are unknown to me.” Sudden silence descended, even the birds ceased singing, but she refused to apologize for the bite of disdain in her voice. What do I care what a stranger thinks?

Readers can find out more about the series and me at the following places:

I’ll be giving away a copy of His Capture, Her Rescue to a commenter from today and at the end of the month will draw the winner of a $10 gift card from all the people who have left comments on my Fool for Love blog spots at as well as those who visit me at any of my guest spots for His Capture, Her Rescue release (see my blog for the full list of places I’m at.