Elizabeth: Stock Characters

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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

Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints – From the Headlines

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.

Care to join me? Continue reading

Kay: On the Road with Journey Novels

A view of Highgate Cemetery

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.

I think travel is good for people. Continue reading