Friday, June 10, 2016

Who's Who? Keeping track of the cast.

The best books have interesting characters with unique personalities. It's a writer's job to keep everyone straight, or her character will all start to look and sound alike.

To keep track of my characters, I create character profiles for my protagonist and the supporting cast. This starts with a brief biographical sketch of the characters that includes age, occupation or grade level if a student, hair/eye color, any other pertinent description evident in the story, relationship to other characters, etc. Next, I get to know them by developing their back story. And while I may not always know the intricate details of what brought each character to where they are when the book starts, I know the highlights of their lives. After all, a person's past helps to shape who they are today.

Below is the character profiles for Madison Riley, the brave, loyal, and sometimes impulsive protagonist in the Embrace Series. It's my go-to sheet whenever I can't remember the small yet important details that set her apart from her friends:

   Madison Elizabeth Riley 
  • 16-years-old / Born in March
  • Junior in HS
  • Naturally curly chestnut-brown hair / hazel eyes like her mom's
  • Has her mom's high cheekbones and fair complexion
  • Book 1 drinks hazelnut lattes. Book 2 pumpkin spice lattes. Favorite cold drink, Nantucket Nectars Lemonade
  • Madison is a loyal friend, a positive person, and she's always there for her closest friends. She depends on Kaylee and Josh more than she realizes. She avoids conflict and hates change in her life. She has a good relationship with her father and brother.
  • Her magic tastes like chocolate covered strawberries when fueled with positive emotions and copper when fueled with negative emotions. Her fear tastes like rotten strawberries.
  • As the series progressed, I added even more detail to this list.
  • I also add notes based on character interviews Madison participated in.
I repeat this for the supportive cast, listing their quirks and strengths and making it easier for me to keep track of my characters then and now.

Do you create character sheets? If not, how do you keep track of your characters?

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Book Blitz & Giveaway: The Midnight Sea by Kat Ross

The Midnight Sea by Kat Ross 
(Fourth Element #1) 
Publication date: May 10th 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult


They are the light against the darkness.

The steel against the necromancy of the Druj.

And they use demons to hunt demons….

Nazafareen lives for revenge. A girl of the isolated Four-Legs Clan, all she knows about the King’s elite Water Dogs is that they bind wicked creatures called daevas to protect the empire from the Undead. But when scouts arrive to recruit young people with the gift, she leaps at the chance to join their ranks. To hunt the monsters that killed her sister.

Scarred by grief, she’s willing to pay any price, even if it requires linking with a daeva named Darius. Human in body, he’s possessed of a terrifying power, one that Nazafareen controls. But the golden cuffs that join them have an unwanted side effect. Each experiences the other’s emotions, and human and daeva start to grow dangerously close.

As they pursue a deadly foe across the arid waste of the Great Salt Plain to the glittering capital of Persepolae, unearthing the secrets of Darius’s past along the way, Nazafareen is forced to question his slavery—and her own loyalty to the empire. But with an ancient evil stirring in the north, and a young conqueror sweeping in from the west, the fate of an entire civilization may be at stake…

3 signed copies of Kat's first book, Some Fine Day.
(US and CAN)

Kat Ross worked as a journalist at the United Nations for ten years before happily falling back into what she likes best: making stuff up. She lives in Westchester with her kid and a few sleepy cats. Kat is also the author of the dystopian thriller Some Fine Day (Skyscape, 2014), about a world where the sea levels have risen sixty meters. She loves magic, monsters and doomsday scenarios. Preferably with mutants.

Keep in touch with Kat

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

It's a ghostly project update #IWSG

Hi everyone!

It's hard to believe it's May already. I hope 2016 is proving to be a good year for you.

To all my cyber-friends who participated in April's A to Z Challenge, congrats on making it through the month. I know it's not only fun, but a lot of work.

April was a busy month. I finished the first draft of my latest work-in-progress and revised my MG ghost story based on feedback I received. I'm excited about both. I'll be getting the ghost story line edited before it goes out on submission. This way I'll know it's as polished as it can be. And I'm going to try my best to step away from my WIP and use that time to flush out another idea I had. As far as insecurities, I've stuffed them in a box for now. I think it's best to focus on positive things, don't you?

Did you participate in the A to Z Challenge? How was it? How's your writing coming? Do you take breaks between drafts? How long do you wait to dive into revisions?

Thanks for stopping by!

This has been an Insecure Writer's Support Group post. It's where writers share their thoughts, insecurities, and encouraging words. Thanks to Alex Cavanaugh and our co-hosts for keeping IWSG going. If you would like to know more about the group, just follow the link above. 

Friday, April 15, 2016

Feeding the Imagination through Research

Research isn't just about fact finding. It’s about discovering the perfect little detail to weave into a novel or some obscure tidbit of information that can add a unique twist to characters, places or plot. Research feeds the imagination, and that’s a good thing no matter what you’re writing.

For better or worse, a lot of my web browsing is on the paranormal: witchcraft, demons, angels, faeries, you get the picture. If someone were to look at my browser history, they’d think I’m working on a way to break through the delicate fabric of the veil to be able to open a door to another realm or that I’m trying to raise the dead. I assure you, I’m not. But my characters are and have.

Photo Credit
I often scour the internet or search through books to find little known nuggets of information that I can add to my novels. Like tricks to seeing faeries or that cinnamon helps with concentration. And did you know the hierarchy of demons is as complex as the one for angels?

Once I know the lore, I add my own unique and intriguing twists. The magic in my paranormal romance/thriller, EMBRACE, has a taste and a feel that those who possess the Powers recognize. The taste of chocolate covered strawberries kiss Madison Riley’s tongue when she draws upon positive emotions to fuel her magic. Whereas she feels as if she sucked on a mouthful of dirty pennies when her powers are fueled with negative emotions. The scent of vanilla and spearmint fill the air when Isaac Addington draws upon hope and courage to cast a spell, and the strong stench of metal saturates the air if he draws upon jealousy or anger.  The witches in the Embrace Series also have to worry about their powers colliding, causing a shock much like static electricity. Not a good thing when you’re new to the Powers and very much wish to get close to your witch boyfriend.

Witchcraft isn’t the only lore I’ve shaped to my needs. The demons in my books are often good and bad. Most have once been human and no matter how many centuries they’ve spent in Hell, the remnants of what it means to be human remains with them. My angels are as loving and understanding as they are fierce and a force to be reckoned with. Both creatures from Heaven and Hell have complicated pasts that lead them to make difficult and often surprising decisions.

That’s the thing about the supernatural—there are so many ways to add your own twists to known myths and lore to come up with original stories. Done right you’ll keep readers turning the page, guessing who to trust, and trying to unravel the mystery right along with your protagonist.  

Photo Credit

For those who are curious about how to see faeries, there are spells a witch can cast to grant you faerie sight. If you’re short a witch, then you’ll need a stone that has a natural hole in it. One hollowed by a river or spring works best. Looking through the center will grant you faerie sight. But beware: faeries can be mischievous, vindictive, and evil.

Do you enjoy research? What fun facts or tiny detail have you found that added to your character or plot?

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Out with the old, #IWSG

Hi everyone! 

It's time to share our thoughts, insecurities, and encouraging words. Thanks to Alex Cavanaugh and our co-hosts for keeping IWSG going. For those who aren't familiar with Insecure Writer's Support Group, just follow the link. It's a wonderful group.

I'm feeling pretty good this month, mostly because at some point in March things clicked. I'm more of a panster than an outliner. Most of the time, an idea will percolate in my head for several months before I start writing. By this time I know the characters and what they'll face, and I've usually mentally plotted out several scenes. I've found being a pantser more challenging now that I'm re-writing my middle grade novel. I think this is because I know the old plot intimately and like many of the scenes. Talk about killing your babies, I took a match and set fire to an entire novel. 

(Give me a moment, sometimes I still can't believe I did it.)

Okay, I'm better. So I tossed out the original plot (a.k.a filed the novel in a safe place on my laptop, because one day I may recycle a scene or two) and I started fresh. After a few false starts, some bumps and bruise, wine, chocolate, hair pulling, and binge-watching Charmed, I'm in a nice flow. I just checked my word-count meter and I'm 80% done with the first draft. This past weekend I mapped out the rest of the book. (I might even be able to call what I have an outline!) I'm hoping to have the first draft completed by the end of April. Wish me luck.   :) 

How's your writing coming? Are you a pantser or outliner? Are you participating in the A-Z Challenge? (I'm not, but I'll still hop around the blog-shere to visit friends.)

Happy April, and thanks for stopping by!

Monday, March 21, 2016

The Music Behind What the Clocks Know by Rumer Haven

Congratulations to Rumer Haven on the release of What the Clocks Know!

I'm very excited to have Rumer with me here today. But first, lets get a look at the lovely cover....

Released March 18, 2016
Paranormal Women's Fiction

About What the Clocks Know: Finding a ghost isn't what Margot had in mind when she went ‘soul searching’, but somehow her future may depend on Charlotte's past. Woven between 21st-century and Victorian London, What the Clocks Know is a haunting story of love and identity. A paranormal women's fiction, this title is available as of March 18, 2016 from Crooked Cat Publishing.

 "A unique tale of the paranormal – as beautiful as it is haunting." ~ Shani Struthers, author of Jessamine and the Psychic Surveys series
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Please help me welcome Rumer Haven!

Thanks so much for hosting me, Cherie!

I don't typically listen to music while I write, yet it's a constant influence on what I write. Being a film buff as much as I'm bookish, I can't help but "hear" a soundtrack play through my stories, so I like to compile an actual one to rally me through the later revisions. And as long as I've done that, why not share it with my readers, too! So I've got a YouTube channel for my tunes and trailers:

In this cozy corner of cyberspace, though, I'd like to share a few songs from my What the Clocks Know playlist that actually appear in the story. So let's get our Goth on!

1. "Charlotte Sometimes" - The Cure
I've been a Cure fan since childhood, but little did I know until adulthood that one of my favorite songs by them was inspired by a book of same name--the 1969 children's classic, Charlotte Sometimes, by Penelope Farmer. So I eagerly read the book and, sure enough, recognized song lyrics in the passages (which is a whole separate, cute story of copyright infringement between Robert and Penelope, which you can find at her blog here: The music and its muse are beautifully haunting and set the right tone and theme for my story, so I made a point to reference both in the first chapter. "All the faces all the voices blur / Change to one face / Change to one voice..."

2. "10:15 Saturday Night" - The Cure
My protagonist, Margot, has a lot of quirks, one of them being a fascination with coincidence. With an eye for detail, she notices even the tiniest instances of synchronicity. In Chapter 4, for example, this song starts playing at the same time Margot notices the computer clock switch from 10:14 to 10:15pm. No cause for alarm, of course, but it's her nature to read into it somehow. And you know what? She gets that from me. Not only the trait but this incident! "And I'm crying / For yesterday / And the tap drips / Drip drip drip..."

3. "Cemetry Gates" - The Smiths
First of all, nooo, I did not misspell cemetery. That's how the The Smiths spell it on their The Queen is Dead Album (which, along with my Cure albums, has been one of my favorites since grade school...I was a dark little lass. Blame my older sister.). The cemetery that Margot visits in the book is the same one that I frequent--an overgrown, chipped, and gorgeous Victorian graveyard--and I can't help but get this song in my head whenever I'm there. "So we go inside and gravely read the stones / All those people, all those lives / Where are they now?"

4. "Untitled" - The Cure
I'm cheating a bit with this one, as this specific song isn't mentioned in the story (which is just as well since it's untitled anyway), but Margot does listen to the Disintegration album that it's on. And this is the particular song in my head when I envision the scene. She's about to experiment with self-hypnosis so tries to lull herself into a relaxed state. And I don't know, it's just one of those songs I used to listen to on repeat in high school when feeling a bit chill and melancholy. "Hopelessly drift in the eyes of the ghost again..."  

5. "Ordinary World" - Duran Duran
This one plays in a pub during the final chapter. Margot has undergone an epiphany that she's trying to process and find peace from so she can move on. This mournful yet determined melody suits the mood and motivation so well. "But I won't cry for yesterday / There's an ordinary world / Somehow I have to find..."
Well, the record has hit a scratch, so it's time for DJ Haven to pack up her turntables. Thanks for tuning in, though, and may you read and rock on!

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** Click here to add it to your TBR list! **

** Read it today! **
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Author Bio:
Rumer Haven is probably the most social recluse you could ever meet. When she’s not babbling her fool head off among friends and family, she’s pacified with a good story that she’s reading, writing, or revising—or binge-watching something on Netflix. A former teacher hailing from Chicago, she presently lives in London with her husband and probably a ghost or two. Rumer has always had a penchant for the past and paranormal, which inspires her writing to explore dimensions of time, love, and the soul. She debuted in 2014 with Seven for a Secret (in which a Jazz Age tragedy haunts a modern woman’s love life), and her award-winning short story “Four Somethings & a Sixpence” (about a bride who gets a little something she didn’t register for) was released in 2015. What the Clocks Know is her second novel.
Learn more about Rumer at: Website -  Facebook - Twitter -