About me, Book Process, Writing Tips

Character Interviews

This week’s blog post on how to keep your ideas fresh and exciting to you is all about character interviews. Character interviews seem like a no-brainer. Write out some questions, get some answers, and viola! Or perhaps it’s something that you haven’t thought about before. It’s your character so why should you need to interview them? Everything is already in your mind, right? Trust me, having an in depth conversation with them will enlighten you. In fact, you might be surprised to find your hero has a crippling fear of water fowl because he was almost smothered once by a duck. Don’t ask me what happened, he’s your hero! 😉

alone-friends-imaginary-friends-favim-com-171149

When I’m stuck with a plot and the character’s motivation, or the character has lost some of their luster, I like to do an interview with them.  There are so many questions to ask, like what’s their motivation for saving the world’s tomato supply, what would they do if they had to unload a plane full of jelly beans, or even what their childhood was like. It’s amazing how much information you can fill in when you do this.  I even spend time creating scenarios for them that won’t ever make it into the books, but it fleshes out the character. For instance, one of my characters enjoys annoying others, so it amuses me to think up ways he would irritate his friends.

character-interview

And don’t forget about your villains. No one wants a one-dimensional, mustache twirling villain who’s nothing more than a cliché. Speak to them, spend time with your evil side and find out why your villain wants to commit genocide, subjugate his neighbours, rule the universe, or steal all the puppies in the world. Your villain isn’t there to prop up the hero. In fact, your villain thinks they are the hero of the story, so find out why!

snidely-whiplash_rocky-and-bullwinkle

So go, talk to your characters, hear what they have to say outside of the story’s plot and be amazed at all the crazy ingenious stuff in your head. 😉

Next week we’ll discuss what kind of questions need answers regarding your characters. And if you missed last week’s post about pictures for inspiration, you can find it here. If you have any comments or questions, feel free to share.

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About me, Book Process, Writing Tips

Pictures for Inspiration

This month we’re going to talk about how to keep things fresh in your mind when it comes to writing. Right now, you’re either thinking “I love this story. I’ll never get bored with it!” or you’re at the “I hate this story and I can’t figure out what’s going on!” stage. Hmm, maybe the latter is just me. I waffle between absolutely loving or hating what I’m writing. Good news is, just because you hate it one day, doesn’t mean you’ll feel that way forever. Sometimes it’s the lack of freshness, the whole “familiarity breeds contempt” dragging you down. So the question is, how can you shake the funk?

It’s always a learning process for me. What worked for one book might not work for the next, but I always keep an open mind, since I never know what will give me my ah-ha moment. With my latest book, I spent months hating everything I wrote. The beginning had been rewritten at least five times, and couldn’t figure out how to get past the “Ugh!” feeling every time I opened the word doc.

On a whim, I decided to try Scrivener. It took a little bit of fiddling because it’s not a newbie friendly program, but after about a day I figured out how to create a corkboard with pictures. Now that I have it somewhat sorted, it’s been invaluable. I can see how my characters look–at least those who’ve inspired me–as well as read tidbits of their personality. I’ve learned I’ve created around a hundred characters and trust me, after a while, it gets confusing! As you can see, I haven’t entered all of them yet. Plus this is only a small snippet of the actual page. character-inspirations

I broke the story itself down by its major plot points. Now I’m the first to admit I’m not a plotter by any means, hell, half the time I have no idea where the story is going while I’m writing it, but I always know the big conflicts/resolutions. Seeing the major highlights helped solidify the story in my mind, however, I still got bogged down in the words.

This is where an inspirational picture for the setting comes in. Whatever scene I’m working on-a Fay forest, a beach pier, or a Russian village-I glance at the picture, insert my characters into the scene, and type. It’s shocking how much it’s helped me, like I’ve freed up some brain power or something. *laughs* I no longer have to visualize everything, just the slivers I find important while still maintaining the whole setting.

I’m also the same person who needs to create floor plans and see pictures of houses in order to describe what it looks like and etc. I need to block out fight scenes in my mind before I can fully write them and sometimes I’ll act them out. Ah, the crazy life of a writer.

And isn’t this just gorgeous? It transports me to the world I’m writing about and allows my mind to wander.

fae_forests_redux_by_artessan-d4x5un1 Fae Forests Fedux by Artessan

As one of my fellow authors mentioned to me, it can be problematic staring at places you want to visit. Her bucket list keeps increasing each time she searches for a new location. 😉

That’s it for today. My next blog post will be about using character interviews to help keep the story fresh and interesting while you write it. If you have any comments or questions, feel free to share.

About me, Book Process, Writing Tips

Writeometer and Aeon Timeline

I recently heard about two software programs, Aeon Timeline and an app called Writeometer. I wish I’d heard about Aeon ages ago! Holy crap, it’s fantastic. So far I’m only about an eighth done entering all the information about my Enforcers and Coterie series *cough* plus three more series *cough* and that’s taken me two days.

In a nutshell, Aeon is a timeline for characters and events. Enter in the characters name and their birthdate, then enter in the event, and you’ll know how old the character is and the time lapse between one event and the other.

Aeon.JPG

As you can see from the picture, I can see at a glance how much time has passed between Osiris and Isis meeting and when Horus was born. While it may seem simple at first, once you have over 20 characters, it gets a little difficult remembering who was doing what when. I’m seriously at a standstill in my last Enforcers and Coterie novel because I need to figure out the timeline. The damn thing has gotten way from me!

The beauty of this program is that you can also make adjustments quickly and easily. Say you realized an event was off by a month or a year, you can highlight and then shift the event. If you have child events, they get calculated for you. Admittedly, there is still a lot I need to learn about this program. But first, I need to enter in all my data. Anyone out there feel up to doing this for me? 😉

As for the Writeometer, well that sucker makes me feel so guilty when I haven’t written anything. You can set what your daily goal is for writing, create timed sessions, and earn little “treats” for when you complete your session. I prefer 25 mins, although sometimes when I only need a hundred or so more words to hit my goal, I bring it down to 15 mins. It’s enough time to motivate me to get stuff done.

writeometer

See those empty bars? It drives me crazy that I haven’t done any writing today. Yesterday, I was like “Oh, it’s okay, I can have one off day. I’m feeling mentally blah.” But it nagged me until I wrote. I’m happy to say that all except the short story hit their goal.

You can also set reminders, which is the little icon in the upper left. I missed my start time, so that reminder will go away when I either complete my goal or dismiss it. Myself, I prefer to not dismiss it since it defeats the purpose of nagging me. 😉

Now some people might not like the stress implied with the Writeometer. Me, I’m a procrastinator. Case in point, it’s 5 pm and I haven’t done any writing yet. I probably won’t write for another hour or two, but this app means that I won’t let the day finish without 600 words written in three different books.

Of course, it’s a little bit insane to write three books at the same time, but I’ve never claimed to be sane. Since the three books are in separate series but has interconnecting characters, I find it’s keeping my mind a little fresher. Except, you know, when the mental fatigue hits me and I want to whine like a child and say, “I don’t wanna write!”

Any programs that you find you just have to use for writing?

 

About me, Rambling about life

Canadian Thanksgiving 

Do you ever feel like you need to recharge your batteries? Like everything is pressing upon you and you need time away from the day to day grind? For myself, nothing feels better than a weekend in the woods. It has to be with good friends, the kind you love spending time with, and those who don’t get upset over mishaps. Thankfully, I have those kind of  friends. In fact, I have a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. My family, my friends, my job, and just life in general.

Since our Thanksgiving is the first weekend of October, we decided to celebrate it by spending the weekend in the woods. Nothing shows you how thankful you are than appreciating nature.

We arrived mid-afternoon on Friday and set up our new tent. My husband thought it’d be nice for our son to have his own tent, so we upgraded ours and he could have our hand-me-down. Even after 12 years of use, it’s still in great condition, just not the best for winter camping. And no, I won’t be winter camping. Hells to the no! I love my warmth, October camping notwithstanding.

See our pretty new tent. We even have our own camping pit. Yay!

And as you can see, I take my warmth at night seriously. There are two fuzzy blankets inside my sleeping bag. It was heavenly. I slipped into bed and passed right out. First night wasn’t too chilly, probably about 10*C. Next night dropped down to about 3*C. And still I stayed nice and warm.

Our other friends made themselves an awesome little spot up the hill. A part of me would love this setup, except I like keeping the bugs out of my face while I’m sleeping. *laughs*

The little fire pit kept them warm at night when it burned down to a bed of coals.

One of our friends showed up at 11:15 pm Friday night. I so did not get butt out of bed to greet him, even of it was his birthday weekend. I was warm, cozy, and not moving.

Saturday was turkey day. Turkey on the fire, whoo-hoo! The men improvised a spit and colour me impressed. It’s amazing to see what people can come up with when they want.

There were a few mishaps, like the turkey was still a little frozen, the spit motor didn’t work so we had to turn by hand, some of the top sticks caught fire, and the coal flamed up from the dripping liquid. The skin became quite crispy.

My husband was able to fix the motor, something to do with the thingies being misaligned. As for the flare ups, we kept watering the coals and also put in aluminum wrapped logs to help disperse the flames.

But then, *sigh* the stuffing fell out of the turkey. The string burnt away and the legs fell open. Let me tell you, I was upset to see the stuffing burn up. I loooooove stuffing! That sucked.

The flame to the left is a chunk of butter from the stuffing buring.

But in the end, we had delicious turkey, stuffing (our friend was smart and had some in tinfoil to cook), baked potatoes, roasted corn, and gravy. Best of all, though, was the amazing friends I spent the day with.

And, uh, yes, that’s a lot of gravy on my food. Hey, I was in the woods and something, something about fresh air and appetites.

We then played cards, took shots of Patron Tequila, trash talked, and enjoyed some key lime pie and apple crisp. I’ve made key lime before and didn’t like it. Turns out, I just sucked at making it. *laughs*

Then it was fireworks time! Okay, so we only had one firework to set off, but it was still pretty. Plus it was too damn cold to stay out there for long.

Overall, a fantastic weekend with good friends. I’m lucky to have them in my life.

About me, My Books, Preorder

Anthology with 8 fabulous authors

Yes, you read that right. There is an anthology coming up with eight fabulous authors and I will be one of them. Hey, I’m allowed to believe I’m fabulous. 😉 My first book, Magic Resistant, will be part of it. And let me guess, you’re curious about who else will be part of this amazing offer. Well, wonder no more!

Primal Claim by Marie Johnston
Phoenix Rising by Heather R. Blair
Magic Resistant by Veronica Del Rosa
Kissing Demons by Jen Winters
One Knight Only by Michelle Miles
Bewitched Familiar by USA Today best-selling author Ari Thatcher
Dead Girls Don’t Cry by Casey Wyatt
Tainted Kiss by award-winning author Sharon Kay

Pretty damn awesome, right? I thought so, too. Oh and let me guess, you’d also love to see the cover for this little beauty? Wait no more because here it is.

ebook 2d

3d snipped down

The wonderful and talented Julie Nicolls made the cover art for us. Yes, I’m still a fangirl for that woman.

And now, the order links. You didn’t think I would forget about those, did you? I mean, come on, you get eight amazing books for a steal!

Amazon: Kindle   iBooks:itunes-words Kobo: Kobo Nook: Nook Smashwords: iTunes

 

About me, Campground Camping, Provincial Park, Rambling about life

Killarney Camping 

I haven’t gone campgrounds camping in a long time, Algonquin notwithstanding. We usually go to our out-of-the-way spot where the only ones who know about it are friends.

We drove four hours, give or take a few minutes for pit stops and arrived just shortly after 3:30 at this gorgeous provincial park.

Killarny

Is that not beautiful or what? We’re near the lake, but not so close that we’d see a lot of foot traffic. However, that wind! Note to self, when by the lake, it’s freaken windy and can be cold. Luckily, we had decent sleeping bags and remembered to bring some warmer clothes.It was a treat to unload the Jeep and just set everything up. Less exhausting than usual. *laughs* Everything was set up and ready to go within an hour. Supper was a breeze since we bought fire wood – kind of have to in a provincial park, don’t want to introduce foreign species. And the fire pit was decent. Love the grill on top.

And the view is simply wonderful. Definitely no complaints there from me.

Sadly, the raccoons didn’t get the memo that we were in Woodchuck, not Raccoon.

See, Woodchuck:

Woodchuck

Not Raccoon, you jerks! We had about five or six of the ballsy buggers show up around 3 AM to visit and fight! Ugh, the hissing, growling, and sheer noise they made. We, thankfully, have a Pelican cooler which latches shut and has a gasket seal, so they couldn’t get into the food. They did attempt to get into the Jeep. We found footprints on the hood, the mirrors had been moved, and they even tried to open the gas cap.

After that wonderful disruption to our sleep, we decided on Wednesday to hike to The Crack. One of our sole reasons for coming to Killarny was this hiking trail and damn, it was worth it!

The walk took about two hours in and an hour and half out. Some of the extra time in was due to us getting slightly lost. Really need better trail makers in the pine forest. We weren’t the only ones lost, though. *laughs* Another family played the Marco Polo game as they tried to find the path and each other. Don’t worry, they found one another and also got to The Crack before us.

How about some pictures, huh?

One of the many uphill parts we had to climb. It wasn’t any more fun to walk down this. My poor, aching knee. So worth it, though!

That is The Crack in the distance, where the two white rocks split. We went up on the right side.

Start of the climb in The Crack. Let me tell you, it was interesting. Some parts, we crawled up, searching for the proper footholds, hoping the end was near! I did some cursing, almost quit, wondered why my husband would punish me with this hike, but continued on. Truthfully, I’m a whiner and the climb wasn’t difficult. Heck, our eight year old son did it. And did a fantastic job, too, I might add. He’s also used to hikes and while this one had a lot of uphills and a little rock climbing, it wasn’t one of our longer hikes – only 4.6 km.

In the Crack

The kid and I in The Crack.

This is the top of The Crack and look at that view. My god, isn’t that just stunning! I would do this hike again in a heartbeat… Once my knee stops hating me.

Looking Down into The Crack

Looking down into The Crack. Nope, I didn’t take this picture, my husband did. I’m afraid of heights.

A wider shot of our view. So incredibly beautiful.

Panaramic

And now a panoramic taken by my husband. Yes, that’s me in the picture. 🙂 We stayed for about half hour, just soaking up the majestic nature and eating our sandwiches. Took several selfies of the three of us but due to privacy, I won’t be posting those.

The Crack

My husband brought his GPS with him so we could see how far we walked. Plus, in case we got lost, which we almost did. Okay, not really. We would’ve found our way back easily enough.

After we hiked back, we decided a swim was in order.

A little private beach for us to enjoy. The kid had a blast in the water, after we got past the initial “Holy crap, it’s freezing!” screams from all of us. We had a nice sandy section that dropped off really fast. Great for swimming and again, a beautiful view. My crazy husband decided to jump off one of the rocks into the water. Good thing it was so deep! Of course, we’d checked that out beforehand.

Then, because we’re crazy, we decided to walk the Bog trail. The pink rocks were striking and after his initial complaints about them being pink, the kid appreciated the beauty of them. He even found a few small pink and red rocks to keep.

Unfortunately, my knee couldn’t handle the full trail. With all the ups and downs of the previous hike, I was in ouch mode. We walked for about twenty minutes and then headed back.

Da Bear!

Oooh, my husband and our friend saw a bear on their way into town! A little cub, probably about a year old or so. The picture is a little fuzzy because they were driving. Don’t worry, our friend was driving and my husband took the picture.

Overall, we had an amazing time and it’s sparked a desire in us to visit other national and provincial parks. Next year, we’re booking at another park.

Where was your favourite spot to camp?

About me, Writing Tips

How to Deal with Writer’s Block

writers-block.jpg

Step one: stop staring at a blank screen hoping it’ll magically appear with some words.

Step two: umm, I have no idea. Damn it, I thought you knew how to fix this?

No, you don’t? That’s why you’re here, hoping for some words of wisdom? Oh. Me, too.

I have the worst case of writer’s block right now. After four novels, three novellas, and several short stories, you’d think I would’ve figured this sucker out by now. Instead, it seems harder to overcome. I’ve tried starting my new (and last in the series) novel three times now. Today will be the fourth beginning I’ve written. And I’m still stumped.

However, all is not lost. There are actually several good tips to try when faced with writer’s block. A few have even helped me in the past and it sounds like I need to revisit them.

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Take a walk. No, seriously, take a walk, get your blood pumping and let your mind drift. What you have to say is in there, somewhere, and maybe you just need some quiet contemplation. Make sure you have a pen and notebook to jot down notes.

freewriting.jpg

Free write. Let the words spill from your mind to paper. Don’t worry about the content or how beautiful it sounds. You’re looking to open up your creativity, not stifle it with rules. Turn off your internal editor and critic. Find out what is swirling around in your brain. Maybe it’s useful, maybe it’s not. Who cares? At this point, it’s all about finding the zone.

Interview.png

Interview a character. When I was writing Dawn’s Keeper, I couldn’t fully understand the motivation behind one of my characters. Was he good, was he evil, was he in between? And because of that unknown, I was stumped. I couldn’t write the ending since I had no idea why he was acting the way he was. I pulled out my notebook and asked him questions. I was surprised by what he had to say and it cleared up a lot in my mind.

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Use pen and paper. Have you noticed a reoccurring theme? Pen and paper, not computer, tablet, or phone. No electronics. I’ve had more success with overcoming writer’s block by writing it down instead of typing. When I’m stuck for the next words and staring at the computer screen gives me anxiety, I pull out one of my notebooks and write the next scene. It’s never perfect. In fact, most times it’s downright ugly, but it sets the scene.

Remember, you don’t need perfection on your first draft, or heck, not even on your fifth draft. Perfection is for after the story is written.

And never be afraid to remove what doesn’t work. I’ve ripped out chunk of my book. The last one, I removed several chapters, rearranged scenes, and wrote new ones. However, I don’t delete. I have another word file that is for removed scenes from each book. You never know when it might give you inspiration for another story.

About me, Rambling about life

Employment and other updates

new-job-not-working-out

Soon, oh so soon, I’ll be working again. I won’t bore you with the details, though. I’ll enjoy the job since it’s something that interest me, but the techy stuff isn’t for everyone. 😉

February 1st is when I start which means I won’t be online often or writing. Boo! I’ll have to focus on learning the new job and not getting fired. But have no fear, I’ve been hard at work writing the next two novellas, plus I have Chained in Desire with the editor right now. There shouldn’t be too much of a hiccup with my writing, although we know that things rarely go as we planned.

And speaking of planning, I have some interesting stuff in the works for my newsletter. Because I love my readers, I’ve written a few short stories centering on secondary characters in the Enforcers and Coterie world. Starting in March, I will send out a new short story each month to my newsletter subscribers. The first one with be when Sarah took the housekeeping job with Dawn. For those of you who love Dawn, you’ll love this peek into her past.

Once all the short stories have been sent out, I’m bundling them together and sending it out free to my subscribers.

So sign up for my newsletter if you haven’t yet. The link is right over there –> with the “Sign up for our newsletter” picture. Like how I made it so easy. 😉 Yeah, I’m all about the love…and laziness. Mainly the laziness.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some writing to do. Lots and lots of writing if I want to make my self-imposed deadline. What was I thinking?!

About me

Twenty Questions

So some evil woman *cough*Jen Winters*cough* tagged me to answer these twenty questions.

Straight or curly hair? Straight, my hair can’t keep a curl.
Favorite movie? Don’t have one.
Favorite holiday? Victoria Day. It’s the first long weekend of camping.
Best year in HS? Hell no, I hated high school and glad to be done it.
# of serious relationships? Two
Sleep with or w/o a fan? With one in the summer, without one rest of the year.
Android or iPhone? Android, always and forever
Texting or call? Texting. I hate talking on the phone
Facebook or twitter? Facebook
Favorite type of food? Lasagna
Dream job? Writer
Favorite pizza? Creamy garlic sauce, chicken, tomato, and feta cheese
Favorite cake? Black forest
Talking or fighting? Talking
Night or day? Day
Summer or winter? Summer. CAMPING!
Wine or whiskey? Neither, I don’t drink acholol
Makeup or no makeup? No makeup
Favorite TV show? Doctor Who
Hair up or down? Depends on the day
Jeans or leggings? Jeans
Painted or none painted nails? non
Favorite color? Purple
T-shirt or dress shirt? T-shirt
Flip flops or sneakers? Sneakers
Big purse or small? Small
How many piercings? 5
Diamonds or pearls? Neither, I don’t like jewellery.
Favorite animal? The one that isn’t in my home, like a tiger.
Rap or country music? Old school country
Sports or couch? Couch. I hate sports, both playing and watching.

A clean copy for those who want to answer these questions. 🙂 And no, I’m not tagging anyone. I’m a rebel like that. *laughs*

Straight or curly hair?
Favorite movie?
Favorite holiday?
Best year in HS?
# of serious relationships?
Sleep with or w/o a fan?
Android or iPhone?
Texting or call?
Facebook or twitter?
Favorite type of food?
Dream job?
Favorite pizza?
Favorite cake?
Talking or fighting?
Night or day?
Summer or winter?
Wine or whiskey?
Makeup or no makeup?
Favorite TV show?
Hair up or down?
Jeans or leggings?
Painted or none painted nails?
Favorite color?
T-shirt or dress shirt?
Flip flops or sneakers?
Big purse or small?
How many piercings?
Diamonds or pearls?
Favorite animal?
Rap or country music?
Sports or couch?