Sunday, January 14, 2018

Character Relationships

One of the vital elements for me to develop characters and develop conflict in a story are the relationships between the characters. Romance is all about the relationships between people--and character relationships seem to be the common thread between the stuff I like to read.

Usually, an author has more than one character to play with. There are protagonists, antagonists, secondary characters, and walk-on characters. As they interact throughout the story in various ways, their interactions form scenes, sequences, chapters, conflict and resolution--particularly in romance, which is all about how the main characters interact, process each other, come together and fall away, then finally come together for that Happily Ever After.

I'm hoping I can write a romantic relationship effectively, but I know that reading a lot of romance since my teens means that I can identify a healthy relationship from a not-so-good one. Whether romantic or platonic, soul mates or the way deeper bond of best friends, a healthy relationship consists of back-and-forth communication, giving, honesty, support, understanding, and some shared interests and a shared sense of humor. Attraction helps, too.

Some of the relationships I've written in past stories are: a father and his daughters (as seen in Pearl, through the nanny's eyes) or best friends turned to lovers turned to co-parents (in my one paranormal, which will remain unpublished), best friends or sisters (in more stories than I can name or finish) or a boyfriend and girlfriend with friction between them ("Haunted Lake"). "When Mary Left" was a short story about a variety of relationships, none of them what we would term "healthy"-- there's the thread between Mary and her ex-lover, Mary and her resentment of the child she's carrying, Mary and her feelings of obligation to the people she's staying with, Mary and her apparent rejection by her family.

People act differently with people depending on the relationship. There are different dynamics at play--maybe people are friends because of proximity or through one particular interest or they're enemies because of a very twisted event. Maybe they're obligated to each other or one's crushing on the other. Maybe one has power over the other character. Maybe one character is manipulative and the other can't break away; maybe that's their conflict. Or maybe breaking away from the manipulation is part of the story's plot.

You have to keep backstory in mind, to some degree--how was one person raised as opposed to the other? What is their relationship? How did they meet? Are they close or not so much or do they hate each other? Why are they interacting with each other? How often have they met? Is one a social butterfly and the other not? What happens when their personalities collide?

In my current outline, one character is a warm, happy, confident person--because she was brought up by loving parents and she's naturally even-keeled while her counterpart is moodier, with a much bigger ego, and is awkward around people--because he was sent to boarding school at an early age and his parents divorced and he's not close to either of his parents because he's a movie star and he's been away from home a lot. Their relationship is sort of opposites attract, I guess, but not entirely.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

The Very Basics of the New Project

Okay. I have a rather unabashed reading habit when it comes to devouring romance novels. Y'all have seen me blog on the topic plenty of times. You've seen romance on my Goodreads reading challenge year after year, particularly historical romance. You may even know that once upon a time, I tried to write romances--first with the original idea of the Keegan series, then again last year with another incarnation of the same story world.

The slowness and lack of progress with that last project convinced me to put away that story world for good. Also, it convinced me that--at least temporarily--historicals aren't cutting it for my creative bug right now.

I picked up my first romance novel when I was about 11 or 12. It's debatable whether it was the Old Skool romance The Taming by Aleen Malcolm, a Harlequin book about a female football coach with MS who falls for the small town's hot basketball coach, or this one book in a Reader's Digest volume about a girl named Claire and a boy named Roan who were like neighbors or something, but he was from the wrong side of the tracks and I think his father tried to assault Claire when she was a kid, but then I don't remember what happened.

Over the years, I've gone through times when I've read more romance or less romance, when I've grown sick of the samey-samey type of romance (which occurs a lot when one tends to read in the same romance subgenre), when I've denigrated the writing style and the weirdo plots, and thought I should be writing something More Important or More Literary.

(I am, after all, still a Recovering Writing Major. Shedding that takes time).

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Misfortune of Vision by Christy Nicholas

Misfortune of Vision by Christy Nicholas,
Book #4 in The Druid’s Brooch Series
Historical fantasy set in 12th century Ireland
~ Prophecy can be dangerous ~

In 12th century Ireland, Orlagh has been Seer to her king for forty years. He doesn’t want to hear her prophecies of war and destruction, and dismisses her efforts to warn him. Therefore, she is determined to fulfill her own quest: to find a worthy heir for her magical brooch.

In the course of events, she must pass judgment on a thief, escape a Norman war camp, and battle wits with a Fae lord. She receives some prophecy of her own and enlists the help of a grizzled old warrior, who happens to be a long–time friend.

Excerpt:


January 24, 1177 AD
Dún Dá Leathghlas (Downpatrick), Ulster, Ireland


“Clodagh, do pay attention. Someday your woolgathering will get you in trouble. What happens if you forget you’re making a tincture? Some of these herbs will burn and turn to poison if you aren’t careful.”
The girl hung her head. “Yes, mistress.”
“And don’t ‘yes, mistress’ me so meekly! I won’t bite your head off child. But if you’re meek, the world will treat you like a slave. You must be strong to survive. Have you learned nothing from me?”
“Yes, mistress.”
Orlagh sighed. She despaired of ever making something of this sweet child. Ever since that incident at the market, she’d watched the girl closely, but nothing else happened. Perhaps it had been an isolated incident.
With a growl, she measured more celandine into the concoction she was making. A little more hemp nettle? Not too much. It was poisonous in great quantities. Just a little helped soothe the stomach. Speaking of soothing the stomach, she needed another drink. She took a long swig on her meadskin.
“Go on, then. Clean those bowls and then pull down the herbs. Check each one for mildew. You know the signs to look for, yes?”
“Yes, m—”
“Call me mistress again in that tiny voice and you’ll feel my hand, child.”
“Yes… Orlagh.”
“That’s better. Now go, do your work. Ask if you have questions.”
With Clodagh appropriately occupied, Orlagh turned to her tincture.
The tincture was an excuse. She could make this compound in her sleep if she must. What she needed was quiet time to concentrate. She’d had a troubling dream the night before, and many years of prophecy had taught her not to ignore her dreams.
It had been chaotic and confusing. There was fighting, but not with Gaelic soldiers. Could they have been Normans? She had a flash of short hair and odd helmets. Not the Ostmen, then. Their hair and beards were longer and wilder than the Gaels. No, it must be the Normans. Unless there was a yet unknown threat.
But the Norman army was only in the southeast of Ireland. They had never ventured north of Dublin, and that was far to the south. Never say never, she reminded herself. There was always a first time, and for something disastrous, that first time always came when you could deal with it least.
Normans, then. Normans coming north for the tuath of Ulaidh.
Ulaidh had been her home for most of her life. Her Dunn Sléibhe grandfather was born here. Her other grandfather, Maelan, had left his good position to search for her, so many years ago. He’d been a warrior for his chief in Ceann Coradh, far to the southwest. She still missed him. He’d died just a few years after that adventure.
Well, she assumed he’d died. One day, he had simply disappeared. All the Chief’s men had been unable to find him. She even searched herself, both physically and with her Vision, but found no trace of him at all. Ah, foolish youth. But now she’d settled in the north and had grown her roots.
Were those roots to be severed? Her dreams suggested it. There was to be blood and death, and a catastrophic shift in the land. Try as she might, she couldn’t pick more details out of the Vision. Things were too murky, as she was part of the events.
Her head ached. Using her talent always made it hurt. The pounding made further concentration impossible. Suddenly the warm, cozy herbarium felt stifling. She needed to be outside.
Abruptly she left, letting her bowl clatter to the floor. The noise distracted Clodagh, and she dropped the herb rack she had been carefully lowering from the ceiling. This disturbed Bainne the cat, who hissed and attacked the closest cluster of lavender. Orlagh closed her eyes and prayed for patience of fools. Then she exited and breathed in the harsh winter air.

Links:




Author Bio:


Christy Nicholas


Celtic Fairies, Fables, and Folklore! Bestselling author (top #100 Amazon Canada, #1 in Paranormal Fantasy, Amazon Canada) Christy Nicholas, also known as Green Dragon, is an author, artist and accountant. After she failed to become an airline pilot, she quit her ceaseless pursuit of careers that begin with 'A', and decided to concentrate on her writing. Since she has Project Completion Disorder, she is one of the few authors with NO unfinished novels. 

Christy has her hands in many crafts, including digital art, beaded jewelry, writing, and photography. In real life, she's a CPA, but having grown up with art all around her (her mother, grandmother and great-grandmother are/were all artists), it sort of infected her, as it were. 

She wants to expose the incredible beauty in this world, hidden beneath the everyday grime of familiarity and habit, and share it with others. She uses characters out of time and places infused with magic and myth. 

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

IWSG: January 2018 and Flaming Crimes blogfest!


Welcome to the first IWSG posting day of 2018! The Insecure Writer's Support Group is a large network of writers--we post our insecurities to the world every first Wednesday of month. 

This month's question: What steps have you taken or plan to take to put a schedule in place for your writing and publishing?

So, a fair portion of my life is scheduled to the nth--work, mainly. I'm outlining a new series idea--I'm still on the first story outline, though I have characters and stories mapped out for the other three stories--and I plan on getting all four outlines finished before writing any of the books. 

Because before you can schedule writing or publishing, you have to be sure your ideas actually work. And my longer story ideas tend to fall into mid-drafting meltdown, so we're taking care of the underlying structure first. Without a foundation, there can be no building. Without a decently worked-out plan for a story, there's no way my brain can spin out full-on book-size tales.


Also today, I'm part of Chrys Fey's Flaming Crimes blogfest:


Prompt: What is something ridiculous you would save if there was a fire?


My feet are always, always cold. Always. I have numerous pairs of fuzzy socks as a result, which I pretty much wear indoors all year round. So, I think the most ridiculous thing I'd 
panic-grab in the event of a fire are a pair of fuzzy socks.







Series: Disaster Crimes #4
Page Count: 304 
Digital Price: 4.99 
Print Price: 16.99
Rating: Spicy (PG13) 


BUY LINKS:


BLURB: Beth and Donovan are now happily married, and what Beth wants more than anything is a baby. Her dream of starting a family is put on hold as fires burn dangerously close and Donovan becomes a victim of sabotage.


Donovan escapes what could've been a deadly wreck. Their past enemies have been eliminated, so who is cutting brake lines and leaving bloody messages? He vows to find out, for the sake of the woman he loves and the life they're trying to build.


Amidst a criminal mind game, a fire ignites next to their home. They battle the flames and fight to keep their house safe from the blaze pressing in on all sides, but neither of them expects to confront a psychotic adversary in the middle of the inferno.


Their lives may just go up in flames…





About the Author: Chrys Fey is the author of the Disaster Crimes Series, a unique concept blending romance, crimes, and disasters. She’s partnered with the Insecure Writer’s Support Group and runs their Goodreads book club. She’s also an editor for Dancing Lemur Press.


Author Links:


Friday, December 29, 2017

2017: A Year In Blog

Well, it's been a hell of a year, hasn't it?

2017 did not start off happy or calm for me. 2017 was a year long exercise in seeing how much outside events can seriously mess with your head and make one feel instantly drained in a creative sense. I'm referring to the political climate in this country and around the world this year; the balance between staying informed, researching the news to gain accurate information, but also needing some space for self-care is not a balance I've yet perfected.

On a personal note, my grandma was declining and died in January. In November, my aunt and uncle moved out of the house they'd shared with my grandparents for over forty years, a house I grew up in because grandma's house was my afterschool. It was a bit sad to sell the house, but also good in other ways.

But there were good things about 2017 as well!

The big news of the year is this:

Guys, that's my name in a paperback!!


Which was published on October 30th in Full Dark.


"Haunted Lake" was the one short story I wrote during my weeklong try in 2016's NaNoWriMo.

If 2016 was the year of distraction for me, then 2017 was the year of exploring. I was still working on my Victorian idea at the beginning of the year, but that quickly went on hold and I started drafting a Regency-era romance--related to my previous historical fiction efforts--which dragged and dragged. The draft floundered, I grew bored, the characters had no chemistry, and then I had a new idea--a contemporary series. I could include the diversity that I so believe in. I could do "research" instead of Research. Still outlining that idea. I will talk about it in due time.

But outlining--me, the long time pantser--actually outlining


Exploration--I went with my family to Japan in March to take my grandmother's ashes back to Japan. We stayed in the Tokyo area for ten days. Our family's not from Tokyo, but we have friends there and they took such good care of us. (I now require some fruit or even a small salad with my breakfast, thanks to what I was eating in Japan for breakfast).



In August, my cousin and I went to Ireland. We had a great time! (I now do not wake up in the morning without a big cup of Irish breakfast tea.)

Closer to home, me and my best friends saw five Broadway shows this year--Amelie, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Groundhog Day, Bandstand, and Once On This Island

I finished my 35 book reading challenge. 

This year, I've also become hooked to the romance novel review site Smart Bitches, Trashy Books and its accompanying podcast, which I listen to almost every week and enjoy tons. 

I also had two friends release books this year--two from Ms. Krystal Jane Ruin, No Rest For the Wicked and Winter's Siren. My friend Emily Steers released her second novel, Pursue the Unknown End. 

I had five guest posts this year, all five pertaining to those three books. 


Here's to 2018!