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 →
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 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 →
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?
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 →
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 →
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 →
I’m guessing this is a great time to be a news reporter or journalist. Every day seems to bring a slew of new stories to follow and report on. The challenge is not finding a news topic, but rather deciding which of the many things happening during the course of the day to choose.
This past week, of course, the news was all about the storms battering the Atlantic. Now we’ve moved on to clean-up efforts and our tumultuous political environment. I’ve been so distracted by the evening news I didn’t even notice that football season had started!
After bingeing on the news for the last week-and-a-half after my news-free vacation in Scotland, I’m ready for to dial things back a bit. Now that I’ve finished today’s New York Times crossword and caught up on the day’s headlines, it’s time to turn off the news and focus on something else. I’m thinking a little Random Word Improv will be just the thing to get me into a more creative frame of mind.
Today I’m in London, visiting Jilly, and we will go (or have gone) to Highgate Cemetery, a place I’ve always wanted to see. George Eliot is buried here, as well as Christina Rossetti, Radclyffe Hall, Douglas Adams (author of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy), Karl Marx, George Michael, and 170,000 other famous and not-so-famous people.
I’ll be gone for more than three weeks—after I leave here, I go to Italy where I’ll meet up with another friend in Bologna and then take a bus trip around the country. I’m looking forward to it all—brainstorming with Jilly in addition to doing fun stuff—and then seeing the high spots of Italy, a country I’ve never been to.
You remember Achilles, right? He had that “heel” problem.
I read two books this past weekend (it seemed much more appealing than cleaning the garage). One was a keeper and the other probably not; one had a historical setting and the other was contemporary; but both had something in common: a realistically vulnerable hero.
First off was Lori Foster’s Under Pressure, book 1 in her Body Armour series. It was one of the freebies from the recent writing conference and, since I’d read and enjoyed her books before, I figured it would be a relaxing way to spend a Saturday afternoon.
Though I’m pretty sure I’m not the target reader for this particular series, there were a couple of elements that I thought worked really well. The first was the chemistry between the hero and heroine. It can be difficult to capture instant (or very quick) attraction between characters, but in brief brushstrokes the author did just that. The story features a resourceful heroine (Cat), a hunky bodyguard hero (Leese), and a nefarious Bad Guy threat.
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