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! 😉

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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.

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

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?!

Rambling about life

Weekend Plans

Ahh, this weekend will be fun and busy. The little monster is leaving tonight to visit his grandmother for the weekend. I think they’re going to a jamboree. It’s either this weekend or the next. Yes, he’s gone for both. Whoo-hoo! Now that’s not to say I don’t love my kid. I adore him to bits, however see previous posts about him. He’s energetic, talkative, and loves his mommy so much that I get no moments of peace. *laughs*

Tonight we drop him off which means Friday night, I’m spending it gaming. Yep, I caved and installed FFXIV. *sigh* It’s so pretty. I haven’t had the chance to play it yet since I couldn’t get on the server my husband was on. The kid did, though. He spent some time yesterday playing and had a blast. A few more years and we’ll have the perfect adventuring party. Me, a healer, husband as the tank or maybe a wizard class, and the kid as an archer. Hmm, okay, we might need to find a solid tank since my husband isn’t a huge fan of the class.

On Saturday, we’re getting a crossbow for my husband. Yeah, don’t ask me. I just smile and nod. He’s done all his research, he knows what he wants, and by golly, he’s getting it! *laughs* He has other friends who will be hunting with him. One with a bow and another with a crossbow. Even if they don’t catch anything, at least he’ll have fun, right?

On Sunday, I’m getting one of my tattoos expanded upon. I already have a maple leaf tat on my right hip so I want three more leaves floating down my side. *squeal* So excited!

And yes, of course I’ll also be writing this weekend. I’m half-way done Chained in Desire, and I’m a third finished For the Love of a Good Fae. Victor is a delicious book boyfriend. Can’t wait for everyone to meet him. I already have his cover done and yummy! Isabella has impressed me, too. I’m totally girl-crushing on her right now.

PS, I’ve got a little sneak peek for Chained in Desire’s book cover. Enjoy! 🙂

Sneak Peak 1 for CID
Everyone knows demons can’t be trusted.
Rambling about life

A lonely profession?

Happy-Friendship-day-20132

I know, I know, this should be chapter 4 for Elijah the Bloody. Well, these past few days have been a tish bit busy, what with me gearing up for camping. My mind has been focused on that, and trying to get other things done before I disappear into the woods for four days. *squeal* I do so love camping.

So what’s up with the title then, eh? When I first started writing, I had a few facebook friends who encouraged me and enjoyed the stories I wrote. Although, in all fairness, the early drafts sucked. I’m just glad they didn’t tell me to quit writing because I’m horrible at it. *laughs*

However, my friends aren’t writers. They don’t understand the slightly insane thoughts and doubts that plague us. This is horrible. Why can’t my brain think of the correct word?! I’m never writing again! Why did I think I could ever do this?! And yet the thought of never writing again makes me nauseous. I love creating worlds and characters. Even when it frustrates me, the end results make it worth while.

About a year ago, I joined Goodreads. First it was because I wanted to network. And then I fell into the groups that enjoyed the same kind of books as me. I started buddy reads, discussions and even joined a group that was for indie romance writers. Surprisingly, I threw my hat into the ring to become a mod for the romance group and was accepted. A wonderful, helpful and fun group, one that I check every day just because I like the people.

Through that goodreads group, I met other authors, ones as passionate about romance as I am. I found people who understood the struggles, the doubts, and the fears. Ones who helped me with blurbs, cover art, critiques, and gave me encouragement when I needed it. They actually wanted to read my snippets, speculate over which character would appear next and fangirl with me. And I found some amazing authors whose work I adore.  I’m a fangirl at heart and I have no problems expanding my obsessions. 😉

In fact, two of them I talk to through facebook on a daily basis. We send each other cover art so we can ooh and ahh over them. Squeal over reviews. Ask for little beta reads to tweak a scene or if it draws forth the correct emotions. Still not over my little crying breakdown at work… good thing I sit in an isolated cubicle. And we talk about life in general. I look forward to talking to them both. Aww, sappy moment!

I found my amazing, talented, and simply fantastic cover artist through one of them. I’ve already had Julie create four covers and she’s working on my fifth. They blow my mind. And she’s agreed to create the covers for my other series as well. Whoo-hoo!

My editor started off as a beta reader for me. She’d read one of my books, liked it, and offered to beta read the next one. So, very hesitantly, I sent her Sylvia’s Torment. I wasn’t expecting much, maybe a “I liked this, didn’t like this” kind of thing. Nope, it was red marked so much I could barely see where my story was. And I loved it! Her comments were snarky and spot on. I spent most of my time laughing through the edits at this comment and that. By the time I finished Sylvia’s Torment, it was completely different and so much better than anything I could’ve produced on my own.

I’d just received Dawn’s Keeper back from her and again her observations are spot on. She’s amusing, friendly, and does a great job of pointing out where I’m going wrong without hurting my feelings. And goodness knows, authors are sensitive when it comes to their “babies” even when we try not to be. *laughs*

So yes, writing can be a lonely profession since writers spend so much time in their own heads. But when we find that connection with others, ones who share the same passions, it’s an amazing thing.

About me, Rambling about life

Ten on Tuesday with Veronica Del Rosa

Check it out! Jen Winters and I had a nice chat about, well, me. 😉

Jen Winters is an Indie Author

Veronica

Please welcome Veronica del Rosa today! I met Veronica on Goodreads when I first published Kissing Demons. She read and reviewed and through her help, influence, encouragement, and support I have become a much better writer and supporter of indie authors. Without her, this blog would not exist and my novelette would never have been conceived much less written and published. So, enjoy this little tidbit from her and go get her books! Seriously. They are fantastic!

You write paranormal romance. Do you read it as well?

Oh yes, I adore reading paranormal romances.  There are so many series and books I’ve devoured over the years that I’ve lost count of them. The great news is I can re-read and still have them fresh since I usually forget all the ins and outs.

Is there an author that makes you strive to be a better writer? Who is it and…

View original post 1,009 more words

Making my son happy, Writing exercise

Ghost Town – Chapter Four

Read Chapter Three here

Screams, some harsh and loud, others a wailing against death, filled the air. People were hurt, shocked at such an outcome. The ghosts swarmed the town, taking advantage of the confusion their cannon had caused.

Bones yelled orders, searching for the humans who might fight back. Many would not, though, their spirits broken along with their homes and bodies. Jade and Chet both sped through the air, abandoning the cannon. It had no use now. It had served its purpose.

“Bring the leaders to me. I will make an example of them!” Bones commanded. This town was his and no one would dare to fight back. Not after he showed them the price of disobedience.

Within the hour, a mass of bodies huddled in the town square. An unending moan of pain vibrated from them. The leaders, three of them, knelt before Bones with straight backs and lifted chins.

One of them, a tall man with a shave hair and a scar running down his face, spat on the ground at Bones’ feet and sneered, “This is our town and we will take it back.”
Bones laughed as he floated closer. The power of the lay lines boosted his own natural power. So much strength and a near limitless source of energy. This, this was the true reason why the ghosts wanted the town. They would have no worries of fading away, groundless to this plane. No, the lay lines would feed them for centuries or more.

“This is our home now. I’d suggest you humans get used to that idea. We will not leave. Try to force us and you will find just how dangerous of an enemy we are.” Bones floated closer and, in a blur, slammed his essence into the human’s body. Had the man been expecting such an action, he might have succeeded in blocking Bones. Instead, he lost all control of his body.

Bones settled, adjusting to the unfamiliar weight. He curled his borrowed lip in disgust. So limited and lacking. Had he really lamented the loss of his body after death?

He turned to the assembled mass, lifted the arms high and shouted, “We can control you, control your bodies anytime we choose. There is no way of stopping us. Just think of the damage we could do to your fragile shells. Take you to a cliff and jump off. Put a gun to your head and pull the trigger. Kill your loved ones. And we wouldn’t take any damage. Either bow before us or leave. This is your only chance.”

Silence descended. As one, the humans bowed down to their new rulers. Several fell, unable to stay upright due to broken bones. They made no move to pick themselves up. Bones flicked a sharp glance to the two leaders and both grudgingly dipped their heads. He made a mental note to keep an eye on them.

With a quick push, Bones exited the human, grateful to leave behind the cumbersome reminder of mortality. Chet and Jade flanked him, a show of power and solidarity. The rest of the ghosts gathered behind them and cheered.

This was their town.

Ghost Town.

My Books

Almost done NaNoWriMo

I’ve learned something about myself this past month. I can not constantly write a large amount of words each day. I burn out. My ideas and thoughts swirl around each other, making no sense. I can’t seem to grasp the storyline and plot. My mind jumps everywhere and I hate what I write.
I need the little breaks I take. It gives me a chance to digest what I’ve written and where the story is going. Sure, I have an outline (very bare bones) but the characters evolve as I write about them. They show me how they would react in a situation and it nudges the story in a different direction sometimes.
Even worse I had no time to read. I’m obsessive over reading. Absolutely love to do so. Usually it’s a book a day but this month I’ve only read one. That’s it, just one! Thankfully the book was fantastic and I loved it. However it showed me how much I was missing by keeping up this pace of writing.
After this month is over, I will go back to my original writing schedule. The next book, Sylvia’s Torment, will be out in January. Five months between books seems like a fair time to me, especially since this book will also include a bonus novella.

My Books, Rambling about life, Writing Tips

NaNoWriMo

I’ve taken the plunge and signed up for NaNoWriMo. Last year wasn’t possible as I had no clue what to do. This year I’m more prepared. I have a  outline. I know my characters. And I have a daily goal to meet.
Now I just need life to follow my desires so I have the time to write. 😉
Writing with an outline is a new concept to me. Not that I hadn’t heard of it before but I’ve never used one. An idea would come to me for a story and I’d start writing. Since I’m doing a series, I do have a clue about where it’s heading but not all the little side trips along the way.
Most times I stare at the ceiling and wait for inspiration to hit. Usually I just get dust in my eye. With a tight schedule I don’t have time to twiddle my thumbs which means making an outline.
True to my myself,  the outline is very sparse.
M meets with S.
R follows S.
and etc. until I’m at the end of the book. I’ve put all the major points I want to hit. Goodness knows with my memory I’ll forget something.
I’ve also good a breakdown for the important problems and the difficulty in solving said problems.
I have to say, it feels great having it written down for me to refresh my mind.
Next up, create a character outline to ferret out any secrets they’re hiding from me. I do know the characters as this is the fourth book in the series and each one has appeared multiple times, but you never know what they might be hiding.