Elizabeth: Shamelsssly Eavesdropping

Since the stories I write include characters who are not 100% me (surprising, I know), I occasionally need to do some reasearch to figure out how they might think or act.  One of my favorite ways to do this involves shamlessly eavesdropping while standing in line, sitting in a restaurant, or just walking down the street.

That’s not weird, right?

I have a little notebook that’s always in my purse, just in case I encounter someone who says or does something that I think might be perfect for some as-yet-to-be-thought of story.  The quickly jotted down notes have been helpful on occasion, but more frequently have been a source of amusement as I attempted to decipher what I could have possibly thinking of when I wrote them.

Here are three examples of random bits of information I’ve picked up while out and about:

While having brunch at my favorite French bistro, I was seated next to (far too close to) a young man and a woman (his girlfriend, perhaps) and a set of parents.  The young man was talking about his recent job-searching efforts and my coffee cooled while I shamelessly eavesdropped.  HIs thought processes – expressed at length and in a completely oblivious manner – were so contrary to what my own were at that age that I was fascinated.  It certainly helped me understand why the folks in our HR department find dealing with a millennial workforce so challenging.  Hopefully I’ll find a story for this individual while I can still read my notes, though he’s unlikely to wind up a hero. Continue reading

Elizabeth: Up All Night

Since I’m a card-carrying night-owl and a chronic alarm-clock-snooze-button pusher, there are very few occasions when I’m up in time to see the dawn.  With my college days behind me and no new puppy in the house, there are even fewer occasions when seeing the dawn means I’m still up from the day before.

There has been an recent upswing in those up-all-night days though, thanks to the latest series of books I’ve been reading.  Last weekend, I was in the midst of a book around bedtime, with no chance of finishing it any time soon since I’d started it late that evening.  I put in a bookmark, closed it, got ready for bed . . . and then decided I’d read just one more chapter.

I’m sure you know what happened next. Continue reading

Elizabeth: Stock Characters

Image designed by Freepik.com

I’ll admit it, I’m an anglophile.

I like books and shows set in England/Britain; I like to travel there; I enjoy the accents when I watch the BBC; and don’t get me started on scones and clotted cream.

Naturally, one of the pages I follow on Facebook is The Royal Family.  They post lots and lots of pictures that enable me to enjoy a curated fairy-tale like royal experience from a distance, without being bothered by those pesky less-than-delightful details of real-life.

Periodically I am foolish enough to read the comments people make on the pictures, usually when it is a photo of someone I don’t recognize, like the Earl and Countess of Wessex in today’s photos.  They are apparently well-liked, because the comments were polite and positive, but other photos seem to bring out the worst in the commenters. Continue reading

Kay: Creating Conflict in the Next Book

from moneycrashers.com

Now that I finished the book I’ve been working on (yay!), I’ve been casting around for my next project (eek!). I have a few ideas lined up—mostly centered in worlds I’ve already written—but I’ve been thinking about who my characters are and how I should develop their relationships.

I’m lousy at writing conflict, and conflict is crucial to any good story. Where should my hero and heroine converge? Where should they struggle? Over what, and how?

Continue reading

Justine: Making Your “Alpha Male” More Like Nature’s Alpha Males

We all know what sort of man an alpha male is…strong, usually buff, definitely tough, and the one who gives orders, not takes them. He typically gets what he wants when he wants it, and if he’s threatened, he’ll go up against that threat, even if it means getting physical.

The trope of the alpha male is alive and well in many romances these days. But is that what nature intended when she created alpha males? Continue reading

Kay: Are Your Characters Meant for Each Other?

I’ve been making pretty good progress with my WIP, the third and final story of Phoebe’s escapades. This is the book where Phoebe marries her hero, and I want to show why she waited until book three, instead of tying the knot in book one. I’ve been writing mostly just the action scenes first and tying in some feelz afterwards, trying to connect the themes and show why Phoebe and Chase are meant to be.

In this trilogy, Chase is divorced from a marriage that he rushed into, and now he wants to rush into this one with Phoebe, too. Phoebe wants to wait. And I want readers to know that just because Phoebe wanted to wait doesn’t mean she doesn’t think Chase is the perfect guy for her. Continue reading

Kay: Writing Authenticity, not Gender Swapping

The all-female cast of the “Ghostbusters” reboot. From left: Leslie Jones, Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, and Kate McKinnon. (Hopper Stone/Columbia Pictures, Sony via AP, File)

Just recently I finished a fantasy story in which the protagonist was a female warrior. It didn’t really grab me. The heroine seemed to slash and burn her way through the opposition without much worry, and while consequences resulted, they were plot points rather than shifts in her character development and emotional outlook.

Guy in a skirt, I thought, and moved on.

But lately I’ve noticed that there’s been public discussion of this phenomenon—that is, the “gender swapping” effect. Continue reading