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Mollie Blake & Dressed To Tell

  Posted by Jemi , 11 September 2017 · 72 views

Please welcome Mollie Blake to the blog today!

***

When I’m reading a book, I want to get to know the characters. If it’s well written, with a good story line to keep me hooked, they will get inside my head. One way I “see” them and begin to understand them, is from the way they dress. I won’t have much thought for a sophisticated business woman who isn’t wearing a suit. I’ll have more respect for her if it’s one by Ralph Lauren, for example.
And that’s the way I work in my writing. My characters are defined by their actions and words, but I also like to dress them appropriately. I will often scour magazines, photo websites, even high street advertising boards to find images that fit my characters.
Let me give you some of examples.
In Guiltless the hero is a photographer who doesn’t earn very much. This is quite an important factor in his make-up. Byron wears jeans and T shirts, drives an old Nissan truck and lives in a rundown farmhouse. This is one of my favourite images I have for him:


There is a scene in the book where Byron appears in “a black suit, grey waistcoat and stark white shirt with a narrow black tie.” This attire is totally out of character with the man Lauren, the heroine, has come to know. There is a reason he has to dress like this so I go into detail about his clothes, underlying their significance.
I have great fun “dressing” Lauren, the CEO of her own fashion house, who also wants to model their next range of lingerie herself. Here is an image I have on my website:



The high heels are important – Lauren is only five feet four inches and she wants to be taller. She is very comfortable wearing four-inch heels.
The images help me to use words so the reader can visualise the characters. Of course, if someone was ever to make a film of my book, my idea may not quite work. Anyone who has read Jack Reacher and watched one of his films will know what I’m talking about.

I also use visuals on social media. It’s a great way to connect with an audience and try to promote your book without splashing the cover everywhere all of the time. When you’re character is well developed and has been “living” inside you for a long time, it’s hard to pick out photos that make a good match. One way I avoid this is to use silhouettes, but I don’t want to over-use them. In some instances I take a photograph and cut the head off. It’s not as drastic as it sounds – the photo of Byron above is a good example.
I was lucky with the protagonist of my third book, Keeping You, which will be published end 2017,early 2018. When the reader meets this guy, Lawrence, he is quite the opposite of Byron. Lawrence Bane only wears designer labels. The reason for that lies in a damaged past when he never had control of his life. I drop names such as Hugo Boss, Calvin Klein and Karl Lagerfeld into my descriptions as often as he drops his pants! But there comes a time when Lawrence has to revert to bargain clothes. I have great fun contrasting descriptions, and again imagery helps me.
For example: Suit man



and Hoody man



My aim is to describe clothing to help both explain and determine the scene. In this example, one scene is about a proud man, protective of his privacy and his past. The other is a man filled with shame as he is forced, once more, to become the man he used to be.


In this article I stick to clothing, but my laptop is full of images of buildings, furniture, bouquets, cars… I could go on. Let me know what helps you to “tell” your story. 

***
Mollie Blake is a published author of contemporary romance. A lover of reading sexy stories, Mollie decided to go one step further and write her own. Her romances are filled with danger and peppered with hot sexy scenes. She is a member of International Thriller Writers and UK Romantic Novelists Association.
Connect with her on the web:
Website     Facebook      Twitter       Author Page
Managing Director of her own successful fashion house, Lauren Chandler should have everything going for her. But at twenty-nine, she finds herself single again, and bored. Seeking a new challenge in her life, under the guise of saving her company money, Lauren embarks on a mission to model their latest range of lingerie herself. She just needs a photographer. When Byron Lord makes an unusual proposal, Lauren is adamant he won’t win the contract.

Co-owner of Broadway Studios, Byron Lord is determined to provide job security to his off-beat workforce, and he needs Lauren Chandler’s help to do so. Byron may have underestimated how far Lauren would be prepared to go. He had definitely underestimated how much she would demand of him.

And with an ultimatum of her own, Lauren gets far more than she bargained for.
Buy links:
Enter to win signed copies on Goodreads!

***
Wow! I'm NOT a visual person so this is fascinating to me! I can't even tell you the hair colours of the MCs in the new book I'm attempting to plot! Very cool ideas here - and they totally work.

How about you? Are you a visual person? Do you use clothes in powerful ways like Mollie?



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IWSG & Surprises!

  Posted by Jemi , 06 September 2017 · 74 views

The Insecure Writer's Support Group is the brainchild of Alex J. Cavanaugh. He, his clones, minions, friends, and fellow authors make it an amazing event every month.




Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

And we’re revving up IWSG Day to make it more fun and interactive! Every month, we'll announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG Day post. These questions may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Include your answer to the question in your IWSG post or let it inspire your post if you are struggling with something to say.

September 6 Question: Have you ever surprised yourself with your writing? For example, by trying a new genre you didn't think you'd be comfortable in??

My poetry always surprises me. I don't write it all that often, but when I do it is often dark. Scary. Deep. Disturbing. Twisted. Definitely showing the darker side of humanity.

For those who don't know, I write contemporary romance and romantic suspense with light-hearted banter and doses of humour. Always with a Happy Ever After.

It's quite a contrast, but that's just the way it happens.

What about you? Any surprises in your writing? Do you write poetry too? Do you prefer the dark and twisted or the HEA?

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To Sleep, Perchance To Dream

  Posted by Jemi , 28 August 2017 · 92 views

Ay there's the rub, for in this sleep of death what dreams may come...

Shakespeare had it right, (not Hamlet, never could stand that whiny character!), dreams are scary.

I'm a vivid dreamer. Always have been. My parents took me to a few doctors when I was young because they were so concerned about my nightmares. I used to scare the daylights out of my mom when I'd tell her my dreams. One night, when I was about 5, I relayed a dream that had her too scared to put her feet on the floor and go back to her room. I still remember that dream.

The doctors said I just had a vivid imagination.
No kidding.

No one in my family or extended family/friends dreams as vividly or as frequently as I do. I've become extremely skilled at pushing away the dreams when I wake up so that I can function throughout the day and not remain stuck in the nightmares and emotions (they can be overwhelming and sometimes debilitating).

Most family members and friends dream rarely and aren't troubled by dreams. Makes me curious.

Are people who are invested in fiction (readers and writers) more likely to dream and/or dream vividly?

So, do you dream a lot? Do you remember your dreams? Do you have nightmares?
Anyone else still able to quote most of that soliloquy? 

Curious minds want to know. 


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Hold On, Reach Out

  Posted by Jemi , 14 August 2017 · 97 views

Hold on
     to the good
     with the strong

Reach out
     with both hands
     filled with love

Hold on
     to the true
     to hope

Reach out
     to the needy
     to the battered

Hold on
     with everything you have
     with everyone you love

Reach out
     with everything you can
     with all that you are

Hold on
     to love

Reach out
     to love

Hold on
Reach out

Hold on





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Nicole Locke & Creating Characters

  Posted by Jemi , 07 August 2017 · 68 views

Please welcome Nicole Locke to the blog today!
***

It’ll happen to you someday. While creating your latest secondary character, who will eventually become a primary character, you draw a blank. 
Oh, you have the name, and a good idea of what they look like, but what makes them tick? What are their mannerisms?
Now those are two different character traits. One is based on motivation (abandonment issues), the other is a characteristic (hair twirler).
No problem, you’ve lived some years; you can make things up. Except…you can’t. You’ve used up all your own motivations. You can only address that bully in school for so long. You’ve even used all your own characteristics from your love for cake to your twitchy right leg. You’ve got nothing left in you. So it’s time to use your friends and family and reveal their likes/dislikes and their mannerisms.
Except, you’ve already run the gamut of relations and friends. Even your great Aunt Maude, who reportedly had three teeth and chuckled, was used for that hag in book three. You could watch people at airports, but you know from that brief observance you can’t glean the depth your character deserves. 
Something more is needed. Long ago, a fellow writer confessed to using Linda Goodman’s Sun Signs for creating characters. Easy enough, and incredibly helpful. Suddenly character motivations can be determined if you make their birthday in May, and know they are a Taurus. Your character can now be bull-headed and loyal. 
Except Sun Signs, as brilliant and useful as it is, doesn’t address the breadth of mannerisms needed when creating characters. Neither does Love Signs, which explores the different signs in relationships.
To make your character distinct from every character you’ve written, you need even more depth. My tip? Birthday books. 
These books are a wealth of quick information for 365 days of the year. That’s 365 distinct personalities. Some of them are detailed enough to give you motivation and characteristics. Do I recommend one book? No. Because you can’t get the depth you need from only one.
For example, I’ll use the birthday of November 11th.  The astrological sign is a Scorpio. According to one book, it says: If sports isn’t your career, it should be your hobby.  However, another book says: You’re defensive and suspicious. Both those reveals are gold when creating a character. And that character won’t match your other characters because they won’t share the same birthdate (I do recommend marking the birthdays you use).

So what happens when I’ve used up all the dates? I’ve thought of this, but I have no worries. I’ll probably be too doddering to remember, and will gleefully write them again.
***
Nicole first discovered romance novels hidden in her grandmother's closet. Convinced hidden books must be better, Nicole greedily read them. It was only natural she should start writing them (but now not so secretly). If she isn't working on the next book in the Lovers and Legends historical series, she can be reached at:

The Knight's Scarred Maiden (Lovers and Legends)
A maiden for the mercenary 
Mercenary knight Rhain is living on borrowed time. With a vengeful warlord pursuing him, he has accepted his fate—though first he must get his men to safety. 
When he rescues mysterious and deeply scarred Helissent from her attackers, Rhain soon wishes he wasn't marked for death. He can never be the man she deserves—his scandalous lineage alone dictates that—but Rhain can't resist the temptation to show this innocent maiden how beautiful she truly is… 
Lovers and Legends A clash of Celtic passions

Buy on:
Amazon Kindle          Amazon Paperback           Harlequin US          Amazon UK             

Book Depository        B&N                                   Kobo                         iBooks


Enter to win signed copies on Goodreads!
***
Thanks Nicole!

I've never heard of birthday books but that'a a great tip! I tend to use mannerisms and quirks of some of the kids I've taught and the adults I've worked with over the years.

How about you? Have you heard of birthday books? Used them? Planning on trying it now? 



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IWSG & Pet Peeves

  Posted by Jemi , 02 August 2017 · 58 views


The Insecure Writer's Support Group is the brainchild of Alex J. Cavanaugh. He, his clones, minions, friends, and fellow authors make it an amazing event every month.




Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

And we’re revving up IWSG Day to make it more fun and interactive! Every month, we'll announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG Day post. These questions may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Include your answer to the question in your IWSG post or let it inspire your post if you are struggling with something to say.


 IWSG Day Question: What are your pet peeves when reading/writing/editing?

Fun Question!

Reading Pet Peeve 

  • when I come across authors who use "that" instead of "who". When people who earn their living with words make this mistake, it's like nails on the chalkboard!!!

Writing Pet Peeve 

  • Titles! These are so hard. I tend to come up with super cheesy ones first and then they're so hard to get out of my head!

Editing Pet Peeve

  • redundancies!!! My first drafts are littered with them! I'm pretty good at catching them when editing, but I need to learn to eliminate them when writing in the first place!

How about you? Any pet peeves you'd like to share? Do you sprinkle redundancies everywhere as well?




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Genre Help Please!

  Posted by Jemi , 10 July 2017 · 95 views


For the last couple of years, our lives have been dominated by dementia. Two of our loved ones were diagnosed over a year ago, although the condition was consuming us all long before the diagnosis.

As part of a way to deal with it all, I've been compiling the stories into a book (because that's what we do, right?).

I don't plan on using real names. I'm not out to embarrass anyone (some of the stories are snort-laughing funny, others are heartbreaking).

It's not a memoir. It's not a self-help book. It's not strictly nonfiction as I've changed names and have avoided some details to avoid identifying anyone.

It reads like a story. It is a story. A story of our family, our struggles, our victories, our pain, and our love.

This isn't a medical book. I have no medical knowledge, just experience. While it could be considered a guide for people caring for those with dementia or Alzheimer's, it's not exactly that. It's a journey. Our journey. One that might help a lot of people in similar positions.

The tone of the book will be light-hearted despite the pain and sorrow, because that's the best way we know how to survive.

My question of you, is:

What the heck am I writing? How do I classify it? Any ideas?


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IWSG and Lessons Learned

  Posted by Jemi , 05 July 2017 · 121 views

The Insecure Writer's Support Group is the brainchild of Alex J. Cavanaugh. He, his clones, minions, friends, and fellow authors make it an amazing event every month.



Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

And we’re revving up IWSG Day to make it more fun and interactive! Every month, we'll announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG Day post. These questions may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Include your answer to the question in your IWSG post or let it inspire your post if you are struggling with something to say.


July 5 Question: What is one valuable lesson you've learned since you started writing?

So many!

One of the most valuable is to be much more careful about sharing my work.
I was a member of a small online critique group with a few absolutely wonderful women. Kind, generous, talented, thoughtful, insightful. Everyone brought something different to the table and I think we helped each other enormously.

A friend of one of the women asked to join the group and we agreed. She wasn't a good fit for me.

Her critiques were cruelty disguised as humour. She didn't have a single good thing to say. I'm not someone who needs false or effusive praise. I enjoy a crit buddy pointing out where I can improve and when something isn't working. I like the truth.

But, I couldn't handle her crit style. Her vicious comments hit me at a vulnerable time and it took me many, many months before I could face the keyboard with any joy. I slipped out of the critique group and backed away from sharing my words with anyone.

I've come to realize that the problem may have been hers, not mine. She didn't like the genre, didn't think humour belonged in romance, didn't like banter between the characters, didn't like the lack of description (she had a point there!), and wanted more introspection. Her complaints were more about a conflict in styles than a comment on my writing, but they were nasty. Thoughtful and encouraging advice I received from two agents at the same time helped me see that her critique was not only unnecessarily cruel, but not justified. Nonetheless, her words set me back a long, long way.

Now, I'm much more careful about crit buddies. And while I mourn the loss of the other members of the crit group, removing this woman from my circle was worth it.

How about you? Any crit buddy horror stories out there?

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IWSG and Quitting

  Posted by Jemi , 08 June 2017 · 151 views

(I am the worst!!! I had this post ready to go, but didn't press Publish... *sigh*)

The 
Insecure Writer's Support Group is the brainchild of Alex J. Cavanaugh. He, his clones, minions, friends, and fellow authors make it an amazing event every month.




Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

And we’re revving up IWSG Day to make it more fun and interactive! Every month, we'll announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG Day post. These questions may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Include your answer to the question in your IWSG post or let it inspire your post if you are struggling with something to say.

The IWSG question this month is:

Did you ever say “I quit”? If so, what happened to make you come back to writing?

I haven't said "I quit," but life has insisted I say, "I pause," at different times.

My life is a little beyond hectic. (I know we all say that!) A fellow teacher recently used me as an example of, "You might have some challenges in your life, but it doesn't mean you have to take it out on people around you. Look at Mrs. Fraser. If you knew the things she was juggling in her life, you'd expect her to be mean, miserable and constantly cranky, but you'd never guess that, would you?"

Still not sure how I feel about the whole description, but my life is incredibly busy. Finding time to write is challenging enough. Finding the appropriate energy to apply to writing, revising, & editing is even harder. Exhaustion and sleep deprivation have reared their ugly heads on occasion and I've had no choice but to slow down on everything but the necessities.

And that all sounds incredibly self-pitying. It's not meant that way. Truly. I love my life - every crazy bit of it.

It's just an example to show that while I may appear to the slowest writer on the planet, it's actually not completely true. I'm growing and learning and still writing. And, no, I don't think I'll ever say, "I quit." Writing is too much fun!

How about you? How crazy-busy is your life? Any other slow-but-growing writers out there?

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IWSG & Bloo Moose

  Posted by Jemi , 03 May 2017 · 111 views

OOPS! I missed last month's IWSG post! The flu had me in its grip and I totally missed it - sorry!

***
The Insecure Writer's Support Group is the brainchild of Alex J. Cavanaugh. He, his clones, minions, friends, and fellow authors make it an amazing event every month.



Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

And we’re revving up IWSG Day to make it more fun and interactive! Every month, we'll announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG Day post. These questions may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Include your answer to the question in your IWSG post or let it inspire your post if you are struggling with something to say.

May 3 Question: What is the weirdest/coolest thing you ever had to research for your story?

That's a great question! I think CSIS, the FBI and Interpol probably have all of us on a special list. We do look up some weird and wacky things!

For my current story, I've looked up:

  • wolf reintegration
  • winter survival tips
  • pay scales for freelance journalists
  • Afghanistan (terrain, climate, and culture)
  • skinning an animal
  • deaths and injuries caused by wolves, moose, hypothermia, gun shots, machetes, and snow machines
My least favourite research was for the name of the town I'd created. I'd named it Blue Moose and there are a lot of quirks to the town that go along with the name.

Turns out Blue Moose is a name for a coffee shop, a promotional company, a paint company, a pub, ... well, you get the idea. 
I don't want to infringe on any copyrights, so I've changed the spelling to Bloo Moose. Now to get the stories done so I've got my own copyright going on!

Some of my other stories have had much weirder searches, but that's for another day!

How about you? What's one of your weird look-ups?


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