Character Inspiration

Today’s blog challenge’s theme is character inspiration.

I’ve mentioned before (once or a million times) that I am a pantser. That goes for pretty much everything when it comes to writing. And it certainly applies to the creation of characters. I normally start with a vague idea of what my MCs are going to look and be like, and then allow them to tell me who they really are. I admire writers who will sit down and complete character profiles before writing a single word down. I really do. I have tried to do that and it was not pretty. Not only the characters all end up being a lot like me, but as I write the story the list always ends up forgotten and neglected.

I will give you a few examples of my process (all very scientific). When I was writing the novel I just finished, “Loved You Always“, I started with the two main characters, Em and Jem. Jem had a boyish charm, blue eyes, and dark-ish curly hair (I was basing it off the picture below) and Em was in love with him. Nothing else. But as I started writing the first chapter their personalities began talking to me.  Em was an always-think-twice kind of girl, Jem was the impulsive one. Em loved gourmet food, Jem loved junk food. Eventually even their physical attributes changed. Em became an Asian-American and Jem…well he remained the boyish charmer. Another surprising thing that happened was their sidekicks, Em’s sister and her witch friend. These were totally unplanned and I have to say, I love them. I may even write a whole novel about them.

In “Desert Jewel” I wanted characters that were almost a total opposite of each other both in terms of their physical appearance and also their background and experiences. Jaali was based (physically) on a comic character I found online, but ended up having an actual human form. Milenda was based on another picture I saw online which I found intriguing.  He is white with platinum hair and blue eyes, Milenda is black with bright green eyes and unusual skin markings alongside her neck and shoulder. Jaali is an ex-slave, Milenda is an heiress to the throne.

My current WIP, “Predators” also started with sketchy character profiles. I actually started with a headless picture of a girl (no, the girl was not headless, the picture was) and the objects she had in her hands; a gas mask, a gun and bloody knees. Jia (the girl) crosses path with Cees, a young man from another social caste. They are both running from (you guessed) the Predators. Just a couple days ago they started talking to me and they now have a complex past history, and an equally complex sidekick.

I love creating characters and watching them grow, sometimes in spite of myself. Having traveled and lived in many different parts of the world, I love creating multicultural characters that challenge my view of the world and force me into looking at things through a different lens. More than anything else in the creative process–more than the plot, the action, the setting–the characters keep me excited about the story, keeping me guessing and keeping me on my toes.

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Doppelganger- Cover Reveal

 

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DOPPELGANGER by Camille Taylor
Harbour Bay Series Book #4
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Publisher: Limitless Publishing
Cover Designer: REDBIRD DESIGNS
══ SYNOPSIS ══
A new killer has descended on Harbour Bay, and he’s already killed five women…

Bestselling author Megan Bailey is devastated when her young cousin Stacey goes missing. She’s been watching the news and knows what this might mean. Stacey could be the newest victim of Harbour Bay’s newest serial killer. Megan is determined to do something, and enlists the help of her friend, the superintendent of police, Amelia Donovan.

Amelia has her best detective on the case…Dean Matthews.

Dean doesn’t believe in love. It makes men weak and vulnerable, and as a retired soldier, he’s experienced enough heartache to last several lifetimes. He also has difficulty dealing with emotional women. So when he shows up to interview Megan at the request of his boss, he isn’t exactly looking forward to it. Except Megan isn’t what he expected.

Megan is intelligent, witty, and not to mention, beautiful. Dean tries to maintain a professional distance, but with a killer on the loose, he breaks all his rules and gets involved. He offers Megan comfort and promises he might not be able to keep.

The body count continues to rise and Dean’s leads are empty as ever…

When Megan disappears too, Dean knows his time to solve this case is up. He must unravel the twisted web of clues the killer has left behind or risk the one woman who might finally teach him to love again.
══ MEET THE AUTHOR ══
Camille Taylor is an Australian author who resides in the Nation’s Capital with her small dog. She was the typical 90’s kid and was raised on Goosebumps, Roald Dahl and Paul Jennings. In her teens she began reading the Queen of Crime, Agatha Christie and in later years found Christine Feehan, Janet Evanovich and Julie Garwood.
She started writing at sixteen and enjoys spending time with her family, doting on her nieces and nephews, writing the many stories floating about her head and working on her genealogy where she can trace her heritage to England, Scotland, Ireland and Russia.
Her other interests include, anything creative – such as scrapbooking and drawing and has traveled across Western Europe, New Zealand and the UAE, after spending a year living in London. She’s also dabbled in tae kwon do.

The Importance of Context

I have a song stuck in my brain. It’s a song by Ruelle, in itself pretty emotional, but the real reason why it won’t leave me alone is the scene I attach it to now.

Recently they have adapted Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments’ series to TV. After the monstrous disaster the movie adaptation turned out to be, I was more than a little leery about this version. I wanted to be excited, but I was afraid of expecting too much and getting too little. Once again, the gods-of-adaptations totally missed the point of the book series. I could point out a million things that they messed up, starting with the fact that the gothic atmosphere of the “Institute” is totally lost in this modern, shiny vision of what the rather dark and brooding world of the Shadowhunters is. In the show, the Institute has an army of tech people (technology and Shadowhunters?) hanging around all the time. Give me a break. Where’s the silent hallways and the sense of haunting loneliness?

The acting is over the top melodramatic (got a little better toward the end of the season, I admit), they’ve jumped around separate books and timelines, created new characters that did not exist in the series, and Hodge is a buff, muscled fighting machine (what’s up with that?). The fairies are irksome instead of fair and magical, and the Shadowhunters’ weapons are made of light-up plastic…you know the kind you can buy at a Party City during Halloween.

That said they have done one thing right (okay maybe two; the music is awesome). They have picked the right actor to play Alec. I am giving him all the credit for the fact that Alec is the reason I’m still watching the show. He played the sullen, pissed-off Alec to a tee and even though the TV gods jumped three books so they could get to the part they thought  would attract a certain segment of the audience (and made up a whole non-existent scene), in the end they gave us an unforgettable scene which was full of heart (again kudos Mathew Daddario).

Would I have felt the way I felt about that scene had I not read the whole series and witnessed Alec’s growth and struggles throughout three whole books? Doubtful. It would still be a very sweet, romantic scene but without the depth and the meaning it now holds in my memory. The song in my head will be forever connected to that amazing, gooey, romantic kiss marking the moment Alec decides to challenge convention, face all his fears of hurting his family, and embrace who he is and how he feels.

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Which leads me to the point of this post; context. I think that’s where a lot of screen adaptations of amazing books fall flat. In their urgency to make it “exciting” and—in most cases—compact, the screenwriters skip important contextual pieces. The difference between good adaptations such as the Hunger Games, Harry Potter, the Princess Bride and terrible ones like City of Bones and the Divergent series is lack of context and/or the addition (in the case of the failures) of things and events that have no place there and that change the context of the story. The story which originally focused on the characters, their feelings, and their relationships now focus on objects or actions. Instead of looking inside, it looks outside.

That kiss meant so much more than just two characters who, having flirted a little with each other, finally get it on. For those of us who knew how Alec had been struggling with himself and his feelings for a long while—his fears, his fierce loyalties—that kiss meant a giant leap in this character’s development.

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So, screen gods, don’t forget the all-important context; the feels, the heart…without it, it’s just an empty shell. And even though that empty shell will probably sell well, you would have lost a large segment of the audience. Those who were there when the true story was happening. Those who felt, cried, and laughed along with the characters. Those who felt the overwhelming sense of victory and freedom alongside Alec the moment he decided to be himself.

 

Six Book-Marketing Tips

Being a new published writer, I don’t feel I am qualified to give anyone advice in the marketing field. I am still learning. However, I will share with you the small pearls of wisdom I have acquired in the last year or so, since my adventure into publication began.

 

  • Build your platform (this takes time). Expect this to take over a big chunk of your life and cost some money.

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  • In order to build your platform (see above) one of the most successful things I have done so far was participating in a FB Hop. But participate in online parties, create a blog (if you have time to keep up with it), make yourself visible any way you can.
  • In social networks such as Twitter make sure you use the right hashtags and reach out into other groups of people that may not be necessarily writing-reading related. A lot of my followers, for example, came from the art world since I like to include the arts in my stories.
  • Be “social”. I’m an introvert but I find that the beauty of virtual social mediums is that they don’t exhaust me half as much as the face-to-face thing and they are also a lot less anxiety-producing.

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  • Network with other writers. Most of the many writers I have networked with so far are very supportive. You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.
  • Conferences and workshops. This is one I have not done much because of my day job. However, I am planning several for the summer and next year. Not only you learn, but you also network and get pumped up and validated as a writer. If you feel your inspiration run dry, go to a writing and/or reading conference or workshop. Instant inspiration.

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On Dry Land-Cover Reveal

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ON DRY LAND by Rebecca Barber
Publisher: Limitless Publishing
Release Date: June 14, 2016
Cover Designer: WICKED BY DESIGN
——— SYNOPSIS ———

 

Tyler Andrews, Olympic swimming superstar, has always gotten his way—until he falls in love.
Living in the spotlight was just part of Tyler’s life. Magazines, paparazzi, and being the topic of every sports radio show in Australia…it was either adjust or be driven insane. He’d gotten used to his fame. Hell, he even enjoyed it. But there is one thing he can’t get used to—his girlfriend, Ava Jacobs, hates being the center of the public’s attention.
Ava has lived her life in the shadows—and that’s exactly how she likes it.
But after fulfilling her lifelong dream to have her debut novel published, her world is turned on its head by Tyler’s fame. She writes novels for a reason—it’s a quiet, peaceful profession. The last thing she wants is to be thrown into the spotlight.
Love and life don’t always fit as well as fame and fortune.
Frustrated by Ava’s continuous reluctance to publicly embrace their relationship, Tyler takes every opportunity to make his own declarations—social media posts, visiting her at work, and even crashing her first television promotional appearance, which she grudgingly accepted as part of her publishing deal.
So when something changes and Tyler abruptly pulls away, Ava knows something is terribly wrong.
With Olympic selection looming, Ava’s publisher eagerly awaiting a sequel to her hit novel, and day-to-day life taking a toll, Tyler starts to see that life is much easier in the pool than… 
On Dry Land.
——— AUTHOR: REBECCA BARBER ———
Rebecca, one of four kids to her parents who are both primary school teachers, was born in Wollongong on the south coast of Australia before moving to the country with her family. After a few years of embracing all that country life had to offer, the family relocated to Port Macquarie with its white sand beaches. After a brief period enjoying the sun and the surf they finally settled in Canberra where Rebecca still lives today. But all through her childhood a notepad and a book where never far away. These days Rebecca is an avid reader, and when she isn’t buried in a book or cheering on her beloved football team she’s spending time with her husband Robert and their overly spoilt dog Levi.

My Bookshelf

My bookshelf. That’s a joke, right? I don’t have a bookshelf, I have many throughout the house, all of which are overstuffed with books I have been collecting since I was a kid. A lot of people claim to hate e-books, but I couldn’t be more thankful someone came up with a way of allowing me to carry tons of books without actually needing the physical space to store them. Otherwise, I probably would have to buy another house just to shelter my books.

 

I’m a very eclectic reader even though I do not like every genre out there. I do not enjoy nonfiction (even though I am currently writing one. Don’t ask) and I just cannot stomach erotica. My shelves are covered in children’s picture books, middle grade chapter books, fantasies, romances, humor, dystopic novels, classics, mysteries and historical fiction.

My bookshelf is a map of my voyage as a reader since I was a child. You can follow it just as surely as you would a real map from my tender years when I was reading the adventures of Anita, to my teens when I fell in love with the Gaelic cartoon characters of Asterix and Obelix, shortly followed by Quino’s Mafalda and many others of the genre.

 

My fascination with the intricacies of crime solving is well represented from Agatha Christie’s books to Father Cadfael Mysteries.  Then, I went for a few years only reading fantasy. David Eddings’s books still grace my shelves alongside Sheri Tepper, and Guy Gavriel Kay. When I became a teacher I found that I absolutely adored picture books with all their amazing art and to the point fiction. I also came to find out that some of the best authors were hiding in middle grade fiction; Sharon Creech, Nancy Farmer, the great J.K. Rowling. More recently I discovered the love for young adult fiction and you will find a myriad of authors from John Green to Suzanne Collins, Veronica Roth, and indie author Megan Whitmer.

 

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At the moment I am reading The Princess Bride, Lady Midnight, and Heart of Betrayal. Yes, all at the same time. Loving all three so far.

Do you wonder now why I get so upset when someone asks me to pick a favorite book? What does your book shelf look like?

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Breaking Hearts-Cover Reveal

BREAKING HEARTS by S. Briones Lim
B. BOY SERIES #2
Release Date: June 28, 2016
Publisher: Limitless Publishing
 Cover Designer: REDBIRD DESIGNS
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— SYNOPSIS 
Estelle Donovan knew college would force her out of her wallflower ways—but she never dreamed how far…
Known as shy and insecure, eighteen-year-old Estelle left for college with the hope it would bring an adventure of excitement and discovery, and give her plenty of room to spread her wings. But she couldn’t have predicted how many changes she’d face—or that one of them would be named Jacob…
 
Jacob Silas—or B-Boy Spinja, as he’s called—isn’t just another college heartthrob…
After meeting Jacob, Estelle is determined to win his heart. When she stumbles into his world of breakdance, she falls in love with its culture, music, people, and most of all—the realm of competitive dance. For once in her life, the spotlight shines on her, forcing her out of her introvert ways.
 
But just like life, love is unpredictable…
When Estelle’s plan to win over Jacob backfires, even a new, exciting life can’t heal her broken heart. And as the years pass, Estelle lives with heartache of a once in a lifetime love slipping through her fingers.
 
Will they ever have a second chance at love? Or will Jacob continue with his dangerous trend of…
 
Breaking Hearts?
— B. BOY SERIES 
BREAKING PROMISES, Releasing May 31st!
— S. BRIONES LIM —
Thanks to her Mom’s unwavering devotion to read a childhood bedtime story to her every single night, S. BRIONES LIM’s love for books began before she could even speak.
Raised in Southern California, Lim initially dreamt of becoming an artist. After a Psychology Degree (Summa cum Laude), a stint in Art School, and a career in Advertising/Media she is finally diving back into her first love – books. As a self-renowned bookworm, Lim’s love for reading has inspired her to pen her own novels and hopes her readers will fall in love with her stories as much as she enjoys writing them.
Her obsessions include time with family, Cherry Coke, popcorn with jalapeños, watching movies and her dogs, Tobi and Roscoe. She currently lives in Virginia with her husband.

My Writing Room- Blog Challenge

#LifeBooksWriting

I don’t really have a writing room. I have a library with a desk where I could most likely write in comfort and relative peace. I also have an office with another desk where I have written in the past. However I very rarely write in any of these great spaces.

My regular writing “hang-out” is my couch with my tiny Ikea laptop table (see picture) or a single booth at Panera after work. I also write in the library once a week with my writing group.

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I’m not sure why I prefer to write in the middle of everything when most writers prefer to write in solitude. I think life going on around me actually inspires me. It all started, I believe, when I decided to go back to school and take a second degree. I was a mother of two energetic boys and I quickly found out that if I tried to study or write papers at home, they would almost invariably get themselves in some kind of  trouble. I found a creative solution for this problem; I started taking them to Chuck E. Cheese’s where they could play for hours in a safe environment while I dove into my textbooks. It was chaos, but it sure beat having to get up every ten minutes to go get them out of trouble.

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Panera is my favorite place to write. Having people around me (with the possible exception of those who watch videos on their phone super loudly) feeds my imagination, and the stories just seem to flow easier than anywhere else. The coffee helps, of course!

Where do you like to write and why?

 

 

ESCAPE by J.L. DRAKE

ESCAPE by J.L. DRAKE
Coming June 21st from Limitless Publishing!
|| COVER REVEAL & PRE-ORDER ||
ESCAPE by J.L. DRAKE
Blackstone Series #2
||| SYNOPSIS |||
One decision will haunt Blackstone soldier Keith for a lifetime…
Keith left behind the feisty love of his life, Lexi Klein, ten years ago when he chose to become a soldier and leave for Iraq, but after a tragedy struck Lexi’s family and Keith couldn’t come home, she felt abandoned. When Keith finally managed to make it back to Boston, Lexi had completely withdrawn from everyone, including him. She decides to end their relationship and move on.
Lexi has always owned Keith’s heart. He just didn’t know how much…
Keith returns to Boston years later for a wedding and finds out Lexi is dating the leader of the infamous Almas Perdidas Gang. Lexi is in over her head, and Keith will stop at nothing to keep her safe. Having never recovered from her broken heart, Lexi wants no part of his grand savior routine. She made her choice, and she has her own reasons to stick to her guns about it.
Keith fights to regain Lexi’s trust, but old wounds are slow to heal…
After Lexi is beaten for not following gang rules, Keith decides to take her on a trip to convince her once and for all to let him back in. But Lexi is holding on to one last secret, and it will change everything. Happiness comes at a price, and once the front Lexi put up comes crashing down, that price will be paid in blood.
Keith must make a decision. Does his loyalty lie with the military? Or with the woman he loves? Or has too much time and history been lost for them to make one…final…
 
Escape.
 
||| PRE-ORDER |||
||| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |||
J. L. Drake was born and raised in Nova Scotia, Canada, later moving to Southern California where she lives with her husband and two children.
When she’s not writing she loves to spend time with her family, travelling or just enjoying a night at home. One thing you might notice in her books is her love for the four seasons. Growing up on the east coast of Canada the change in the seasons is in her blood and is often mentioned in her writing.
An avid reader of James Patterson, J.L. Drake has often found herself inspired by his many stories of mystery and intrigue.
She hopes you will enjoy her stories as much as she has enjoyed writing them.

When First They Practice to Deceive

When First They Practice to Deceive

by Carolyn Laroche

Buy at Amazon here

 

All Jessy Wallace wants is a happy marriage, but her husband is a liar and in over his head…

Jessy has spent the last decade happily married to her husband, Sam. But when she finally lands a job at Dixie’s Place, a hole-in-the-wall diner, she learns not all is well in paradise. Officer Sam Wallace has been spending the majority of their marriage in the beds of other women. Fed up, Jessy kicks her husband to the curb.

The last thing she wants is another messy relationship…

Uncertain if her husband ever truly loved her, Jessy gets caught completely off guard by the intense attraction she feels for Trey Smith, the night cook at Dixie’s Place. But she recognizes some telltale signs, and discovers he’s an undercover FBI agent. Jessy curses herself for falling for another lawman. To make matters worse, her soon-to-be ex-husband might be involved with Trey’s case.

After the death of his wife, FBI agent Trey Smith has spent the last four years married to his work…

But when Jessy starts waitressing at the diner where he is working undercover, he falls head over heels for her. Her ex-husband, however, is one of the top suspects in Trey’s case, and all Trey wants to do is protect her. He can’t lose this once in a lifetime chance at love.

Jessy is the soon-to-be ex-wife of a suspected criminal.

Trey Smith is an undercover FBI agent.

Can their love overcome the odds, or will it all come crashing down under the weight of lies and deception?

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Excerpt

Dixie dumped her packages on the counter with a grunt. “Where the hell is that cook? Trey!

Trey’s appearance in the dining room was announced by the slam of the back door. His cheeks were red. Jessy caught sight of a cell phone sticking out of his shirt pocket. Trey rubbed his hands together.

“It’s mighty frosty out there tonight. Was just taking out the trash. You need something, Dix?”

“How many times have I told you not to call me that? It sounds too much like dicks.” She swatted at him but Trey sidestepped the hit.

“Aw lighten up, Dix, no one is going to think that of you.” Jessy experienced an annoying twinge of jealousy as Trey ran a long, lazy glance over Dixie’s body, making the woman flush a deep crimson which just made her look sexier. Jessy glanced down at her own, curveless frame and frowned. Life is so unfair.

“Just take this stuff into my office so I can sort it.”

“Sure thing. What’s in all these packages anyway?” Trey flipped open a box lid. “Christmas decorations?”

Dixie shrugged. “Well, yeah. It’s December.”

Trey rummaged around and pulled out an ornament of a tiny ballerina. “Shattered dreams going on the tree this year, Dixie?”

“Gimme that!” Dixie snatched the figure from Trey’s hand.

“Okay, so which one of us is the angel supposed to represent? Knowing all of you like I do, I have to go with the only logical conclusion. Me.”

“Yeah, ‘cause you’re a real angel all right.” Arnetta gave Trey a searing look, like the ones they write about in romance novels.

“You know nothing about my angel status.” Trey returned the angel to the box as he winked at Jessy. “That is a mystery that remains to be discovered. Oh wait, maybe this will help.”

“What is it?” Jessy, intrigued by the contents of the box as much as she was interested in just how much Arnetta knew about Trey’s status, stepped forward. Trey whipped around to face her, his hand on his head.

Only it wasn’t resting on his head. It held a little sprig of green vegetation in his hand and a grin on his face that rivaled that of the Chesire Cat. Mistletoe. Aw, crap.

“Oops, I’m stuck under some mistletoe. You know legend says I have to kiss the person nearest to me.” His eyes burned into Jessy’s skin as her cheeks heated to new proportions never before experienced.

“I don’t think that’s quite how it goes,” Arnetta said.

“Shut up! He’s about to have his meal!” Surrey whispered loudly behind Jessy.

“I think the legend says someone is supposed to kiss you.” Jessy looked into Trey’s eyes without blinking.

“Breaking legend is bad luck. Very, very bad luck.”

“I think you mean tradition. It’s bad luck to break tradition.”

“Legend. Tradition. Whatever. All I know is you are leaving me hanging and potentially exposing both of us to many years of pain and suffering.”

Jessy could feel three sets of female eyes on her, but she only cared about Trey’s. His eyes were so warm and so welcoming, and they were doing things to her insides so she couldn’t think straight.

“Well, I guess we wouldn’t want that.” She rose up slightly on tip toe, closing some of the height gap between them.

“No. I guess not.” He leaned forward, closing just a little more of the distance.

“It’s never a good idea to tempt the fates.” Jessy heard three breaths sucked in as one.

“Nope. Definitely not.”

Freezing air wrapped around them as the sounds of laughter and chatter suddenly filled the diner.

“Show’s over, folks. Time to make some money.” Dixie grabbed a few bags and headed to her office. “Trey! Get the rest of those boxes for me then get in the kitchen!”

Trey stepped back and lowered the mistletoe, never breaking eye contact with Jessy. “Yes, ma’am! I’m right behind you.”

He blew her a little kiss then stepped over to the counter, scooped up the boxes, and was gone before Jessy could remember to breathe.

Surrey was the first to grab up a notepad and take a table, but not before she whispered in Jessy’s ear, “Just like I said. Looks at you like his next meal.”

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About the Author

Carolyn LaRoche grew up in snow country but fled the cold and ice several years ago. She now lives near the beach with her husband, their two boys, two finicky cats and one old dog. When she is not at the baseball field cheering on big hits and home runs, she is busy teaching science to unwilling teenagers.

Social Links:

Facebook   https://www.facebook.com/AuthorCarolynLaRoche

Blog:  http://carolynlarocheauthor.blogspot.com/

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7734909.Carolyn_LaRoche 

Twitter: @CarolynLaRoche

Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/Carolyn-LaRoche