writing

Creating characters

July 3rd, 2018

Hello, lovelies! I hope you are having a good week so far. Happy Camp NaNoWriMo for those of you who are participating, whether you’re editing, writing, or outlining. I hope to write a novella set in the world of THE LOST SAGES, and explore one of my secondary characters, Tsura. I’m excited to learn more about her 🙂

I’ve decided to start blogging about the craft of writing, with the hope of better understanding it. In my own search to understand various techniques, I’ve found some neat books and informational videos.

The wonderful thing about being part of a writing community is getting to share information and tips with one another. After you read this blog, I would love to hear your own thoughts on how to create compelling and real characters 🙂

Writing video notes 

I stumbled upon Kim Chance’s writing videos on YouTube. I really enjoyed listening to her break down some of the various craft elements. In this video, she shared how she creates well-rounded characters. Kim kindly provides a character profile questionnaire that can be found on her website.

She discussed these key points: cultural influences, mannerisms, occupation and socioeconomic status, family relationships, spirituality, and education. Life experience is a big one. What have the characters gone through or what has happened to them before we meet them on page one.

In my book, THE LOST SAGES, Evren is poor and alone at the beginning. This really influences her decision making when Captain Sa’av, infamous pirate, arrives on Ionoke Island, seeking a navigator to bring him to the sinister Sea Queen’s lair.

Personality, of course, is a huge one. How does a character view themselves and how do other characters see them? I loved these two questions!! Oftentimes, we can see ourselves in a different light than those around us 😉

Growth

To become three dimensional, the character must experience some change over the course of the novel and journey.

What is the character’s goal? What is the motivation behind the goal and what is at stake if the character fails? For example, if Evren does not find the sinister Sea Queen’s lair, then her and Captain Sa’av won’t be able to retrieve an antidote to an epidemic that is claiming the air from thousands of lungs across Tarkais.

Question Time

Do you brainstorm all the details of a character before writing them? Do you have an image of the person or perhaps a feeling or situation they are involved with?

When I received an edit letter from a manuscript critique I won, the editor kindly suggested I begin to think about how Evren moves, talks, and interacts with others.

There were some things I knew from the beginning when I drafted THE LOST SAGES. But as always in revisions and rewriting, I learn MORE about my characters. A bit of backstory sheds new light. It’s amazing, the continual unfolding and learning that goes on.

Building Character 

With the help of the questionnaire and a character profile sheet an editor sent me, I found I had plenty of questions to answer when it came time to brainstorm Evren.

I also like to listen to music and let my brain wander, imagining Evren in certain scenarios and wondering how she would react. Free-writing also helps a ton before drafting a novel. I write a random scene with Evren in it. This allows me to see how she would handle a confrontation with a character or a dangerous situation.

Finding their voice 

I find voice a bit tricky and elusive. However, each draft I write or re-write, brings me that much closer to capturing the voice of the character. I think details in the book revealing how they walk (do they slouch, stride, or saunter) and talk (do they have a lisp, accent, or use certain words repeatedly) for example, help with capturing the unique voice of the character. Everything that makes them unique and different, will stand out.

Captain Sa’av, in the first draft of this book, was ice cold and arrogant. I realized early on that wasn’t really him. In fact, he was more goofy and eccentric. Evren appears to be uptight at the beginning, but she really relaxes once she is around people whom she feels safe with. All of this I discovered as I re-wrote.

What do you do?

How do you create characters? I’d love to hear in the comments below!

Until next time,

Loie xo

Book Reviews

Book Review: Quinsey Wolfe’s Glass Vault

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Published by Parliament House Press

 June 26th, 2018

Book 1 in a Duology

Goodreads 

Some see it… Some don’t…

People in the town of Deer Park, Texas are vanishing. There is a strange museum, known as Quinsey Wolfe’s Glass Vault, that appears overnight. Perrie Madeline’s best friend and ex-boyfriend are among the missing. Perrie and her friend August go on a pursuit for them in the mysterious museum. Could the elusive Quinsey Wolfe’s Glass Vault have anything to do with the disappearances?

Quinsey Wolfe’s Glass Vault is the start of a thrilling duology full of magic, danger, and romance.

General Gushing and Characters I Love

Candace created three dimensional characters that I fell in love with from the get go. Our main heroine, Perrie, is a spunky and real teenager. She’s fallen in love and has had her heart broken. She is a great friend to her cousin and bestie, Maisie. I love that she is a musician and plays the cello. (Sidenote, I’ve always wanted to play the cello or harp 😉

Maisie is so fun and cool. If only I had her rocking confidence when I was a teenager ❤ I love how quirky she is. Perrie and Maisie are #friendshipgoals. There is a quote from Perrie that I scribbled down that I wanted to share.

“That’s what I love best about her is the fact she doesn’t care what anybody thinks, and just wants to see everyone happy.”

This is Perrie observing Maisie inviting everyone to dance at their prom, not caring about the different cliques. I loved that so much ❤ This really shows us how kind and caring Maisie is.

Neven and August are intriguing. (Aren’t all the character names awesome ?!?!) Both boys have interesting personalities and vie for Perrie’s attention. There is a twist at the end of the book that I absolutely did NOT SEE coming. Well done, Candace. I have a #bookhangover and I need the sequel ASAP, pretty please 🙂

Favorite Moments

When Perrie goes to the Glass Vault to rescue Maisie. Talk about fearless! She does not only seek to help Maisie but others as well.

A funny moment with Perrie and August: “Please tell me you’ve taken karate or something like that.”

(This is when August and Perrie are facing a fight, haha! I laughed out loud.)

If you love horror, mystery, and fairytales, I highly suggest you pick up this book. It is a brilliant mash up and it did not disappoint. The pacing was outstanding. Every time I came to the end of a chapter I felt propelled forwards, unable to stop reading. (I also took notes, as a writer, haha.)

Writer Thoughts

Like I said before, the pacing was brilliant. I also enjoyed how Candace seamlessly weaved backstory into various chapters. This helped me understand Perrie and her friends a lot better. I saw how much Perrie loves Maisie and cares for her best friend. We also got to see what happened between her and Neven.

Her descriptions were spot on, building a lush and horrifying world at times. Can’t wait for your next book, Candace!

Author Candace Robinson 

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My name is Candace Robinson. I’m just your average hemiplegic migraine sufferer. My days are spent writing, book reviewing and traveling through books for my blog, Literary Dust. I live just outside of Houston, Texas, where it feels like the hottest place on Earth with the crazy weather. No, seriously, one day it’s 30 degrees and the next it’s 70 degrees! I live with my husband and awesome daughter!

Candace has an awesome book blog called Literary Dust! Go check it out 🙂 Isn’t that website name awesome?!

If you want to order this book on Amazon, just click here 🙂

You can also order it on Parliament’s website!

What are you reading at the moment? I would love to hear in the comments below.

Until next time,

Loie xo

Book Reviews

Friday Book Review: The Fix

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Published in 2015 by SkyPony Press

Young Adult Contemporary

Standalone

Goodreads

“One conversation is all it takes to break a world wide open.

Seventeen-year-old Macy Lyons has been through something no one should ever have to experience. And she’s dealt with it entirely alone.

On the outside, she’s got it pretty good. Her family’s well-off, she’s dating the cute boy next door, she has plenty of friends, and although she long ago wrote her mother off as a superficial gym rat, she’s thankful to have allies in her loving, laid-back dad and her younger brother.

But a conversation with a boy at a party one night shakes Macy out of the carefully maintained complacency that has defined her life so far. The boy is Sebastian Ruiz, a recovering addict who recognizes that Macy is hardened by dark secrets. And as Macy falls for Sebastian, she realizes that, while revealing her secret could ruin her seemingly perfect family, keeping silent might just destroy her.

The Fix follows two good-hearted teenagers coming to terms with the cards they were dealt. It’s also about the fixes we rely on to cope with our most shameful secrets and the hope and fear that comes with meeting someone who challenges us to come clean.”

General Gushing

So, I mainly read young adult fantasy or adult fantasy so this was a change. Did I ever love it! I went to my local bookstore and was browsing through the teen fiction section and my gaze landed on that beautiful cover with the shiny gold sticker 😉 After picking it up and reading the first chapter, I decided that I wanted it. It was raw and real and tugged my heart strings. I related to it so much, about meeting someone in your youth that truly saw you, not the image you had created but rather the hurts and secret dreams that you cradled within.

I read it in one sitting. I was supposed to be working on a project but I couldn’t put this book down. I cried and laughed and cheered Macy on. Thank you Natasha, for writing such a moving and real story.

Characters I loved

I loved Macy. I loved her with all of her imperfections and could understand why she acted the way she did with guys. Sebastian was swoonworthy and so intriguing. I loved how honest and open he was with Macy, where she felt comfortable enough in his company to share her darkest secret.

Moments I loved 

There were a few scenes from the beginning that came full circle by the end of the book. The swimming pool scene at the END of the book was my favorite ❤ Powerful way to end the book and I cried again 🙂

Upcoming books by Natasha Sinel: 

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Woohoo! This book came out on Tuesday, June 12th. I will definitely be heading to the bookstore to pick up Natasha’s latest book.

Writer Thoughts 

As I writer, a goal I hope to accomplish in my writing is to create real characters that people can connect with, love, cheer for, and maybe even cry with. I loved Natasha’s book for this reason – I fell in love with the cast of characters and felt the heart in each and every one of them. They were complicated and messy and broken. But they also had hope.

Until next time,

Loie xo

writing

Writing is re-writing

May 2nd, 2018

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Good afternoon all!

Some of you may have heard this phrase before: writing is re-writing. A lot of the time, we look at the finished book in our hands and don’t realize the amount of drafts it took to get to the final copy. As a reader, I certainly didn’t know much about the process of writing a book.

When I first began writing more seriously in 2012, I was a newbie and didn’t know much about drafting and revising. I finished my first complete novel during NanoWrimo that fall and then in January took a look at the manuscript. It was awful. There were plot holes and two dimensional characters and hardly any description. The bits I did like I saved and then decided a re-write was in order. That was when I began researching how to re-write and revise.

Marissa Meyer has a great series about how she brings her story idea to a complete novel. She outlines what she does in each stage from brainstorming, research, first, second, third drafts, etc. I found that to be quite helpful when tackling my own first re-write.

Presently: the continual learning curve 

I received feedback on my current fantasy WIP, THE LOST SAGES (formally titled EVREN) and am working on it now. There was so much helpful feedback that I’ve created a TO DO list and am tackling each one separately. Even though it feels like I have to climb a mountain, I know in my heart of hearts that I will be so proud of this book when I’m done.

The thing I am realizing too is, this book is one of the first projects I’ve taken on and I am learning SO much. I am receiving insight into myself as a writer and where my strengths and weaknesses lie. I am learning a lot about grammar and proper punctuation and the age old, show don’t tell rule as well as the infamous info dumping in fantasy novels 🙂 It is all good and encouraging. I know this is the path I need to take to grow as a writer. I want to feel confident in my ability to pen a story and have the proper tools in my toolbox, as Stephen King explains craft.

I am at the point in my writing career where I can sense a few things coming down the road. I want to write stories I am proud of and that have heart in them. I want people to to resonate with them and perhaps see themselves in the characters. I also want to write the best story possible. I don’t want to settle.

This week I have been thinking a lot about creativity and projects we take on. Sometimes if we take on too much, our writing suffers because of it. I’ve noticed that I haven’t been able to focus as much and find it hard to return and work on THE LOST SAGES. I sat down and wrote in my journal, trying to discern what was keeping me distracted. Too many projects on the go. I needed to narrow my focus and so I have. Now, I set myself a reachable goal for each week and hope to have this latest draft done by June.

What are you all working on? How many drafts do you write? I would love to hear below.

Until next time,

Loie xo

Uncategorized

Spring showers and fairy tales

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April 26th, 2018 – 12:35 pm

Hi dear friends!

Today has been an overcast day with a steady stream of rain. My porch plants are getting their fair share of a drink. Hopefully not too much 😉

Fairy Tales 

Popping in with a quick little post. This week has been full of lovely surprises. I received word that a fairy tale flash fiction I submitted for publication has been accepted by Enchanted Conversation Magazine for June’s issue. I will post the link when it goes live. This will be my first creative writing publication and I am super thrilled. I also sent out a proposal for an article about the importance of the library in our digital world and it was accepted. *inhales deeply* This writing gig is working out and I am grateful.

#RevPit 

There is a contest going on right now called #RevPit. A couple of days ago, the window opened to submit one’s manuscript’s first five pages and query letter to two potential editors. If you get chosen, one editor will work with you over the next five weeks to go through your book and strengthen it for querying. It has been a lot of fun stalking *coughs* I mean, watching the twitter feed to see if the editors I submitted to have posted any snippets or hints at what submission they are currently reading.

Writing Plans 

I received an editor’s feedback (different from #RevPit) on EVREN a week ago. I’ve been mulling over some of the suggestions or questions that came up while she read the manuscript. She sent me twenty pages of detailed notes, for which I am so grateful for. Currently creating detailed index cards for every scene in my book and deciding which to keep, edit, re-write, or trash. I believe this will bring EVREN to a stronger place than ever. Also, she suggested changing the title 😀 I agree with her suggestion and will be now calling my YA sea-faring fantasy THE LOST SAGES.

How are you all making out? What are you currently working on? Please let me know in the comments ❤

Until next time,

Loie xo