Character Building

Holly adapting, author, characters, Friends, inspiration, Readers 3 Comments

Writer’s use various techniques to form their characters. More times than not they are composites of people we know or of people we have observed. We tend to be observers of human nature thus have ample ideas for our writing. Occasionally we let our inspiration sources know they are in a story.

In Sunstone I built a secondary character loosely based on a writer I know online. The man is very Edwinintelligent, has a sharp, sometimes cutting wit and, due to deep extenuating life hardships, a gruff, irascible shield. These personality traits were the basis of the character Thom. In the book Thom stays alive by gleaning. It’s a tough way to endure and he rightfully takes pride in that survival. He has a slightly grumpy way of speaking but his actions are honorable and kind. He befriends a newly hired worker in the area (the main character Kes) and looks out for the young man, advising and rescuing him from certain death. Thom even has the last speaking line in the story. This is Edwin who inspired the character.

Over the weekend I read a blog post  from Edwin. It appears that he saw the gruff side of the character but not the wonderful aspects of Thom’s personality. That was an unfortunate oversight in his reading. *sigh*

Kindle CoverAt first I was upset that this man would see Thom in that limited light. By the end of the day I saw the humor of the situation. The whole thing of: ‘“No, I’m not grumpy,” he said grumpily.’ is a LOL moment. I’m still uncertain if he was upset or if it was an example of his cutting humor. The point is the character shows qualities I believe are admirable. I wouldn’t change a single hair on Thom’s head. (Well…Thom is bald but you get my meaning. LOL)

As I stated earlier, writers are observers. Thom and other characters I write into my stories resonate as believable and contribute to the story line. Why bother making characters that don’t. It’s my job as a writer. I hope you enjoy Sunstone and relate to the people residing on the pages.

HollyCharacter Building

Sunstone’s Launch on Amazon: A Tale

Holly adapting, author, Books, Dreams, Learning, persevere, steampunk, strength to overcome, suspense 5 Comments

1 copyMy newest book, Sunstone, was scheduled to be released on March 31. This was an exciting moment which my publisher, Sheenah from Paper Crane Books, and I had been working hard toward for at least the past six weeks. There were three rounds of edits, the blurb, dedication and acknowledgement to write. On top of that there was work with a designer for the cover and a table banner. For fun I invented two beverages for the book to fit in the story line and drew some pictures for inclusion at appropriate spots. Right near the end of March a friend of mine, Shirley Hayes, offered to make a book trailer for Sunstone. The trailer is incredible: http://youtu.be/r7hmql-mnZo . This meant I needed to write a script, find free pictures and choose some free music. All of this was done around other work. It was a race to meet our launch date.

Sheenah uploaded the files on the 30th with plenty of time for Amazon’s regular review and posting on their site. The only problem is… Sunstone hasn’t posted. It is now April first. No, this isn’t a hoax but believe me it feels like a cruel trick. Both Sheenah and I watched Amazon for the long awaited birth, checking the bookseller’s site frequently. By late afternoon on the 31st I was contacting Amazon’s live customer service chat in an attempt to find out the reason for the delay. It was unsatisfactory as they preferred to speak with my publisher and not me. I passed on the message to Sheenah and she emailed them. By early morning on the 1st they got back to her with a nonspecific message and alluded to April 8th as a date. WHAT?!?! I wanted more information so back to the live chat I went. This time when they emailed Sheenah they explained that they were having problems in their system and processing for all new books was slow.

Believe me when I tell you Sheenah and I are very unhappy with this delay after all of our work and effort to launch on the promised day. Nothing can be done except frown in Amazon’s direction and try to be philosophical. It will happen. I tell myself Sunstone’s much awaited launch and availability will be sweeter when it finally posts. It doesn’t make me happy …but there it is. Please stand beside me and practice patience. I assure you I will be straining under the effort. Meanwhile I will leave you with a dream graphic that my awesome cover designer, JC Clarke, made me. Imagine this. Hugs everyone!4-1

HollySunstone’s Launch on Amazon: A Tale

Children are Little Sponges

Holly be careful what you say, children absorb information, innocent listeners

child listeningHow many times have we seen adults talking to each other over the heads of their children as if those tiny people are deaf. After all the child is looking around while standing near their parents as if the words being said are of no interest. That parental assumption is a big mistake. Our little ones are sponges with fully functioning ears. They may not be indicating they hear but they do.

So what are these children overhearing? Disparaging comments about themselves or family members? That can be damaging and hurtful. Perhaps they are learning insults or swear words of which they don’t know the meaning but the tone of voice attracts them. What is said can seem innocuous to the adult…but is it?

Let me give you some examples from my own childhood. I recall standing next to my mom as she registered me for first grade. I was looking around the room and appeared to be inattentive. The woman at the table asked her if I should be placed in a slower learning environment or a more accelerated classroom. My mother answered. I was placed in the slower classroom. A week later found me clutching my pencils and crayon box as I was moved to the accelerated classroom. At that moment my mom’s words took on a deeper meaning.

Sometimes the conversation floating above the child has serious notes that won’t be realized for some time. I was very young when Joe McCarthy’s anti-communist hearings were going on. Before WW2 many disenchanted college aged students had joined the communist party in a search for an alternative political system in a time when our country was working though big issues. It was an innocent choice that took on serious connotations when Hitler rose to power.

I remember adults talking about one couple in our community who had joined the Communist party in just that manner. The conversations I heard were about if they were to be trusted– if they were good people. I must have asked my grandmother something about all of this strange talk because she took me to a school play starring one of their sons. I watched that young man on stage and remember thinking that he looked so normal. He didn’t even have horns! At that moment I just shuffled the overhead conversations into the “grown-ups don’t make much sense” file in my head.

Roll forward about twenty-seven years. My son was a toddler and we were going to Grandma’s house for Christmas. As I was getting ready to get in the car I was listening to the TV playing in the background and a news item stopped me in my tracks. It concerned that same family I had heard about as a child. Someone had followed the McCarthy era controversy, had heard the stories and believed the demonization that was floated about them. The nut case had broken into one of the son’s home, tied the family up and bludgeoned them to death.

These examples may seem extreme but the damage–from mild to catastrophic– is real.   Please think before you speak and do not disregard who may be listening…even if it is a child.

HollyChildren are Little Sponges

Read: It’s as necessary as the air you breathe!

Holly Books, Dreams, Learning, Readers

Screen Shot 2015-01-18 at 9.56.03 PMIt’s interesting. I recently saw a sign that said, “Read More Books than Blogs” and here I am writing a blog post. I think I understand what that person is saying but it doesn’t have to be an either/or sort of things. That would be like saying just fiction is worth reading…or only non-fiction books are worthwhile. Actually I’ve found that you can glean information and truth from both kinds! The key is to READ!

I have the interesting pleasure of working with my five-year-old grand niece. She’s in kindergarten and they’re expected to be reading a little by the end of the year. She is a smart child but her learning pattern isn’t the usual audio/visual-wham-bam-I’ve-got-it. The teachers are stretched thin and this little one is slipping between the cracks. She has already learned how to guess and fake it as well as how to wiggle and avoid to give herself thinking time to come up with the right answer. Neither technique works all that well and she is slipping further behind.

There are several things I need to work on simultaneously: Learning strategies and focusing, confidence, phonics and sight words to name a few. If we can get a handle on those elements this child will soar. So-far-so-good but we have a lot of ground to cover before May. Wish us luck!

Reading is so important. There are people who aren’t big readers for a variety of reasons. In some ways that makes it rough as the world is spinning faster everyday. I think it’s extra important for this upcoming generation to be able to read as more and more information is thrown at us and we need to sort through it and analyze. I won’t say that you can’t accurately evaluate information without reading… but it certainly helps. Otherwise you are vulnerable of getting your information from other people’s spin.

When my son was in school he too had a different learning modality and was being lost in the system. Working with him every night did wonders and in one years time he moved up five grade levels in his reading. Woot! Success! The teacher wanted him to read a variety of genres and got a bit nasty because he wasn’t interested in biographies but preferred science fiction or Sherlock Holmes. Good grief! He was reading! Wasn’t that the main idea? Today he’s primarily a non-fiction reader and while it is a trifle sad that he will never read my books I’m delighted that he is proficient. That’s a valuable tool he takes through life.

Books, blogs, newspapers, magazines, internet articles are all wonderful and each have flaws but the more you read and learn the better you are prepared for dealing with life. Yes, read them all! Give your kids comic books and picture books when they are small. Encourage them. Reading is an incredible gift.

Thomas Jefferson once said, “An educated citizenry is a vital requisite for our survival as a free people.”

And education starts with reading.

 

HollyRead: It’s as necessary as the air you breathe!

In the Spirit of the Season: Pay-It-Forward

Holly Cancer, Friends, In the Spirit of the Season, Innocent Victims, inspiration, Pay-It-Forward, Reach out and help, strength to overcome

This is the season where people of many different beliefs celebrate special days. We get caught up in our plans, our shopping and decorations. It’s easy to do …but today I’m asking you to take a moment and do just one thing for someone who is hurting. Perhaps they are hungry, need a coat or scarf or are ill. Can you give of your time or spare something you have which they can use?

I’m typical of many. Our business gets frantic busy this time of the year. There are deadlines that have to be met. People need their table (or other furniture pieces) back to them before the big family dinner or holiday party. It’s our job to meet those dates. At the same time I have gifts to make, a story to finish, dinner to plan and a house to decorate.

Into this whirlwind my sister contacted me. She asked if I had time to crochet a hat for a toddler of two and a half. The little girl has cancer and is going through chemo. She won’t have hair during Christmas and the cold winter months. How could I say no?

We all have our troubles but sometimes when we stack them against someone else’s worries…ours pale in comparison. Cancer has not touched my family but I’ve lost wonderful friends to the disease. This is a child! It makes my heart bleed that she and her family are going through this. So– I made time and have sent two hats. I hope they brighten this child’s day.hats for the child

So I ask of you…please pay-it-forward. Do something for someone less fortunate. It will mean so much and that is the spirit of the season. For me the wish is Merry Christmas but I’m not so narrow that I don’t recognize that there are many other celebrations out there. Happy Holidays everyone. If you can…give the gift of caring.

HollyIn the Spirit of the Season: Pay-It-Forward

Tell Captain America, “I’ve got your back!”

Holly elections, inspiration, News, persevere, Personal responsibility, politics, Veterans, Vote

UnknownIt’s November and thoughts drift to things happening this month. In the US we start the month by voting on the first Tuesday and move to Veterans Day on the 11th. In my mind the two are related in a way. Individuals who are willing to put their lives on the line for us, help protect our freedoms. They deserve to be honored. Those of us who are not part of the armed services are the ones who have dropped the ball. I’ll get to that in a moment.

The roots of Veterans day began on November 11,1918 with the cessation of fighting in the World War 1. It was the first time a war had been fought on that global scale and was called “The War to End All Wars”. Unfortunately that label didn’t prove accurate and later it became a day set aside to honor veterans of all wars.

We now have another related holiday for our vets, which in my mind is a little confusing as the two overlap. It is Memorial day which is celebrated on the last Monday in May honoring those veterans who have died while serving in the armed forces. Don’t get me wrong. I think the vets deserve two holidays for the work and risks they take, it’s just the definitions of the two holidays that seem redundant.

Be that as it may, these soldiers are doing a service so we can be safe at home and have certain freedoms. Voting is one of those privelages and yet many Americans just can’t be bothered to vote! There are countries where voting is mandatory and their turn out is in the upper 90%. In the US  it isn’t a must  but a please take this responsibility seriously. Our numbers are not that impressive. During the presidential elections we might have about 57% but with the midterm elections it’s frequently less than 40%. I personally find that shameful. This is our duty to our country and is one way to honor our soldiers. It is saying, “Thank you, troops. We’ll do our part to protect our freedoms.” Our voting participation is backing up our troops and saying to our leaders, “I’m watching you and you need to listen to what I have to say!”

I have friends and relatives who don’t believe that voting has any impact. I get that. The politicians are bought and aren’t paying much attention to the good of the people. But it is a question of which came first. Was it voter apathy which left a vacuum which was filled by monied interests? Or was it campaign finance policies that allowed the money to talk the loudest? Either way you look at it there will be no getting back control and our voice without a concerted effort to vote.

Everybody plays a part. Do yours. If you are too young to vote at least stay informed. Volunteer your time and talk to people. When you come of age and can vote, be active and don’t let one election go by without your participation. You may think your vote isn’t listened to but trust me, when you don’t vote your silence screams that you don’t care and the politicians will listen to someone else.

 

 

 

HollyTell Captain America, “I’ve got your back!”

What is Steampunk?

Holly Dreams, fantastic alternate timeline, Fantasy creatures, other genres, society & culture, steampunk

Steampunk photo

There are delightful aspects of steampunk that draws interest. If you are into cosplay nothing beats a fantastic steampunk outfit: Corsets, brass goggles, top hats or newsy caps, pocket watches and fascinating sci-fi level gadgets. A blend between the Victorian steam-powered world and advanced machines. Wow what a combination!

There was the Wild Wild West series and decades later a movie with the same name. Both fit the above description but when I began reading steampunk, I realized it really is poorly or loosely defined. Some were labeled steampunk but had little of the four core elements. So today I’m going to take a crack at defining it.

STEAM:

Let’s start with the fact that the world has to run on steam: cars, dirigibles, trains, factories all steam powered. That places the general era as sometime from 1870 to 1915, roughly, if the story takes place on Earth though it’s really an alternate timeline or history. It fits as a sub-genre of science fiction or science fantasy so it can take place on another world as long as all other characteristics are correct.

CHANGE:

Elements of that time period set the society in an early industrial frame complete with the tug of the problems that era had. It was gritty with old social standards yet going against convention (which is the PUNK in the title).

The era had the very rich and the very poor. Factories were becoming the main working situation but regulations were not necessarily in place. It was free-wheeling and fanciful yet at the same time outlandish, dangerous and possibly grotesque. Sometimes the change is handled through the players of the story. Kick-ass heroines step out of the Victorian norm to be cutting edge, society changing characters. Other times the culture itself is on a pivotal point of transformation.

The birth of the change between the old and the emerging new opens up with the fantasy inventions that are liberally sprinkled in the stories. Steampunk could be seen as Victorian science fiction. Believe me, that’s a fascinating part of it’s charm!

FANTASTIC MECHANICALS:

Steampunk has the romance of that bygone time yet has incredible, futuristic inventions and mechanicals that run with gears, clockworks, primitive computers and pressure plates. It can have robotics from household helpers to war machines and these inventions are woven into the life and story line.

A FANTASY MIX?

There can be magic (shades of Harry Potter) or can have elements of Sherlock Holmes. Fantasy creatures can be present as can elements of the occult but these are secondary to the above core elements: steam, change and fantastic mechanicals.

I hope that helps. I’d love to hear your input as it is a fascinating genre. Go forth and read Steampunk!  :D

 

HollyWhat is Steampunk?

Michelle Franklin’s Blog Tour

Holly Uncategorized

The House Guest Tour Badge
Follow the tour!
Today I’m pleased to host Michelle Franklin for this stop on her blog tour. I’ve read,  enjoyed and recommend The House Guest. It’s a wonderful tale for the young and young at heart.
When winter comes early to Frewyn and the first snowfall of the year traps a young mouse in her home, fate brings an old mole to her door, but is the young mouse prepared for all the challenges that catering to a fussy house guest can bring?


Buy the book atAmazon | Smashwords
 

Children’s Books That Inspire Me: Black Beauty by Anna Sewell

It was one of the first books I read by myself once I was old enough to do so, and though I can remember enjoying it, I can certainly say that at the time I had no idea what it was really about. Black Beauty, like most classical literature, is often grouped into the children’s genre and I cannot really understand why. The book was not written for children; Sewell wrote it as means of helping readers to understand the torment that horses underwent in the Victorian Era, and while readers sympathized with the character of Black Beauty and the book revolutionized the way many Victorians treated their horses, the book became marketed as a children’s story. Of course Black Beauty can be read by children, and what young child obsessed with the idea of having her own pony doesn’t want to read a story of a horse who is saved from torture, but there are lessons in Black Beauty beyond just being good to animals that might be lost on a younger audience. There is a deeper meaning to the text which is missed by the average nine-year-old. To a young child, it’s nothing more than a very good story with a moral, but to the adult it’s an exquisite tale of cruelty, abuse, redemption, and the power of true friendship. It tells the story of Black Beauty, a carefree colt who is bought, sold, and traded several times over the course of his life. He is called by many names and is many different things to his various owners: a cab driver, a conveyer, a steed, sometimes a friend, and other times a mere beast of burden, but always valuable and always a companion to the other horses he is paired with. Though Beauty endures much suffering throughout his life, he is always hopeful and thinks the best of men, even of those who mistreat him most. Given the overall dark tone of the book, beginning with the death of a rider, and the gravity of the prose, I cannot understand how Black Beauty is still being considered as a children’s book, but so it is. My love of the story has inspired me to write from an animal’s perspective on numerous occasions, encouraging me to express how they might think and feel. If you have only read Black Beauty as a child, I urge you to go back and read it again, and I can guarantee that the text will have much more meaning the second time around.


About the Author: Michelle Franklin is a small woman of moderate consequence who writes many, many books about giants, romance, and chocolate.

Follow the author at: Website | Facebook | Twitter

HollyMichelle Franklin’s Blog Tour

The Chain-Letter Blog Tour

Holly adapting, author, Author interview, Blog tour, Dreams, Friends, Fun Social Network, Indie YA Books, inspiration, Jade Kerrion, New world, Paper Crane Books, Patience and writing, persevere

1.edgy Holly PhotoA while ago I was tagged by my friend and fellow indie author Jade Kerrion to participate in a chain letter / ongoing blog tour. The idea was to have fun and to pass that convivial moment forward. So without further ado…

What am I working on?

Just a few days ago I finished Sunstone. It is a sci-fi / steampunk / thriller. Where my Sage Seed Chronicles series flowed fairly easily out of my fingertips and were written quickly, Sunstone and I have played ‘Twister.’ (Anyone remember that old game?) It started as a futuristic sci-fi piece with elements similar to a few in SSC. Those were ripped out and, taking the remaining threads, I bent and braided it into the early industrial steampunk time frame with strong parallels to our contemporary world. Sunstone is currently with its second beta reader. When it comes back to me in a few days I will finish my edits and send it on to Paper Crane Books. It may get out late this year.

Currently I’m mentally plotting a fantasy short story which will complete my multi-genre collection called Tendrils.

How does my work differ from others of this genre?

My writing has been somewhat hard to classify. Basically I write crossover between genres and age categories.

I like to separate my stories from the here-and-now because I’d like the reader to see the story with fresh eyes instead of slipping into a predisposed mind set. I invent a fictional world to do that, complete with believable science and mechanics. That makes it a soft sci-fi. I also add elements that are not necessarily possible which puts it in the fantasy genre.

In the SSC series most of the characters were adult but my protagonists were seventeen. To be classified as Young Adult fiction usually means most of the characters are in their teens and dealing with teen related issues inside the story. Primarily my lead characters are dealing only with adults and at the tail end of the growing-up-and-finding-themselves process. So technically the Sage Seed Chronicles can be classified as YA but it also has appeal to people of all years. Crossover.

Sunstone, and my short story anthology, Tendrils, won’t be YA.

Why do I write what I write?

I write what appeals to me. When I was a teen I needed to deal with adults. I also moved around a bit so anchoring my middle and high school experiences with one set of friends was impossible. I write stories of all ages working and blending together as I think that’s closer to reality. At least it was mine. *grins*

The stories come from inside me and have different layers. For instance I live in a beautiful area and am very conscious of eco balance, niches….. My publisher says my voice is green. That doesn’t necessarily mean wacko tree-hugger. It means that I weave eco themes with things that are on the news or that concern me. Have you ever watched the news and wanted to throw something at the TV set? I have, so I make my own worlds and I fix things my way.

How does my writing process work?

It starts with an image or an idea. If it intrigues me I examine it from all sides and see if I can stretch and embellish it. I build layers for the world to work. Then I add the adventure, thriller aspect. I weave in memories, concerns and liberally mix with my imagination. I do this until I have at least half of a story in my head and on an outline.

I mentioned that Sunstone mutated as it grew. There were a few scenes that were the early kernels of the idea for the book. I liked those and kept them even as everything else changed. It was a bit of a mess for awhile as I filled and refined around those disparate pieces. I really hope I don’t write another book that way again or you may find me committed to a padded room. Whew! Tough going!

So the short answer would be that inspiration comes from my core beliefs, my concerns, my memories and imagination. *smiles*

Now I’m suppose to tag three authors. I would rather the writers tag themselves and answer these few questions. Just reference me so I can see who passed this baton.

So those writers who read my blog posts, I’m throwing down the challenge. Have fun!

HollyThe Chain-Letter Blog Tour

GEM: Linda Lee Williams

Holly author, Colorado, Dreams, Friends, GEM Feature, Linda Lee Williams, Paranormal romance

Today’s GEM is Linda Lee Williams. She is an author that has become a friend and she writes Paranormal Romance. I’d like to share an excerpt with you from her book Elsewhere. Linda

First here is the blurb to set the scene:

When Errol Fleming moves in across the hall from Andie McNaughton, her life takes another unforeseen and perilous turn.  Sweet, shy, and a bit reclusive, Andie has enough phobias to confirm that she’s “crazy.”  Beautiful but imperfect, Errol bears his own disability.  Despite the challenges their relationship faces, they decide to take a chance on each other.

Their future is threatened, however, when she hears a voice and dreams about “Noah.”  She begins having visions of the handsome stranger and traveling in her mind to a mystical tropical island.  Errol’s haunting dreams about the island and Noah’s obsession with Andie only add to the mystery of what’s happening…

Is Noah a figment of Andie’s imagination?  Or does he exist in an alternate reality?  More important, can Errol save Andie from Noah and the idyllic world she’s escaped to?  Or will he lose her to her phantom lover?

EWFinal-smallElsewhere by Linda Lee Williams

He leaned over to kiss her lips.  They were dry and cool, not at all the way he remembered them.  Her fair skin, which normally blushed at the slightest provocation, was colorless, as if the life had already been drained out of her, and her spirit wasn’t far behind.  It made the deep bronze hair that framed her face seem even darker.

“Andie,” he whispered, close to her ear.  “Andie, please hear me.”

Errol sighed in frustration.  He had to find the right words.  Words that could break through the barrier of the other world she had escaped to in her mind.  Something he could say that would convince her she belonged here, not there.

His grip tightened on her arm, as if willing her to pay attention.  “Andie, wherever you are, wake up.  Wake up and listen to me.  You can’t leave me, Andie.  You can’t.  I need you, more than you ever needed me.  I know I’m not perfect, like he is…but I’m real, and what we have together is real.”

For a moment, he thought he detected movement behind her eyelids.  He kissed her lips again, more firmly.  “I’m here, Andie, and I love you.  I love you, just the way you are.  You’ve heard voices in your head before.  Damn it, hear mine.”

Intrigued? Contact or find Linda at these links:

http://www.lindaleewilliams.com

https://www.facebook.com/author.linda.lee.williams

https://twitter.com/williamslindal

https://www.amazon.com/author/williamslindalee

http://indielindy.blogspot.com

linda@lindaleewilliams.com

lindalee.author@gmail.com

 

HollyGEM: Linda Lee Williams