Tag Archives: character development

Looking for Love…

…In All the Wrong Places.

Even if you hate Country music, I think you’ll agree that the songwriter really hit the target…or a nerve!

A Treasure Chest

I’ve had seasons when I was a carbon copy of this song. Sometimes I was the recipient. Other times I was the devil. As a writer, these emotions/experiences are a treasure chest for character development.

Acceptance

We all want it. We all crave it. But do we ever find it? In my journey, it’s taken a professional counselor to help me face the truth about myself. Such insight and discovery has not only freed me to be a better friend, husband and dad, but has empowered me as a writer when fleshing out my characters.

So when that guy or girl dumps you, don’t loose heart. Instead, turn them into a character and let ’em have it! 🙂

For those following the “300 x 2” FREE book, here’s the next installment.

Chapter 2

Forged Friendship

Elabea darted away from her home, longing to escape her parents and more importantly, the shackles of the Oracles. She did not consider herself a rebel, or one brave enough to defy Ebon’s might. She simply hungered for two qualities her home and village could not provide.

Love and acceptance.

She glanced at the parchment clutched in her hand. The tingling sensation was gone, but the thought that it had been delivered from Claire sent goose bumps racing over her back. After all, she had been taught that Claire was destroyed in the Dark War, and that it was a land of death and deception. The parchment and the Moon King were proof otherwise.

As she ran, she took in the cottages of Hetherlinn. Constructed from planed boards, they were stained white while the windows, of which there were only two, were sealed with dark green shutters. Thatched roofs sloped off the quaint two story dwellings and nearly touched the ground. However, the most notable feature was the numbers above the unpainted doors. Black stain, sloppily brushed by Ebonite warriors, numbered each cottage.

Another requirement from the Oracles so Ebon can tally us like cows!

Hers was Number 17 and sat at the bottom of the crescent. She liked being far away from the others, especially when her father had had too much wildeberry wine.

Another glance. Another painted number.

Fourteen.

She recalled seeing a young boy, Phinnton, peering at her from his bedroom window. She would wave, but he was too shy, and would dart back into the shades.

At night, the sweet refrains sung by Phinnton’s mother floated like a dream into her bedroom. She would open her shutters and rest on her window frame, soaking up the musical serenade. Every now and then, when the wind was blowing her way, she would catch some of the lyrics.

The Singing Stones of Addoli, she reflected. How I wish I knew what that meant…

Several summers ago, the singing stopped. Elabea assumed the boy was older and grew tired of bedtime lullabies. A rumor spread that she had been whisked away one night by the Ebonites for violating an Oracle. From that day forth, Phinnton and his father became hermits.


I’ve Been Duped!

“Its Beauty is its Deception!”

Have you ever wanted something SO BADLY simply because it was attractive?

Maybe a new car? A relationship? The dream job?  And let’s say you get it only to discover that the car still breaks down, the relationship comes with baggage, or the perfect job is managed by crazy people?

Well, I have! As a writer, I draw upon these experiences to craft my stories. Sometimes I regurgitate it unfiltered through a character and let them deal with the consequences. Now THAT’S fun! Other times I become the magician, getting you to focus on the shiny, red scarf in my left hand while my right hand is preparing to WOW you with a rabbit. Well, not a real rabbit, unless of course that’s part of the plot, but that’s not the point I’m trying to make right now…or is it? 🙂

(For those following the “FREE Book” posts, here’s the conclusion to Chapter 01, Tears of Min Brock.)

Quinn lifted his throbbing head and glared at the women. “Why must you two be so loud?” he thundered.

Elabea remembered a time many summers ago when his eyes sparkled with life, but that was before he went off to fight in the Dark War. Now they were opaque and lifeless. Spying the parchment in the fire, he asked Elabea, “Where did you get that?”

His eyes became icy.

Backing away, she meekly answered, “It was attached to an arrow stuck in our door. What is it?”

It is from the land of lies!” he slurled.

Claire!” Elabea whispered, noting that despite the flames, the parchment was not burning.

“Don’t say the word!” Areall yelled, her placid expression now like churning rapids. Turning her fury on Quinn, she shouted, “Your night of drink is making you talk too much!”

“I’ll talk when and how I like!” he yelled back.

While they argued, Elabea knew this was her chance. Darting to the fireplace, she grabbed a small stick on the hearth and plunged it into the coals.

“Stop!” Quinn roared as he struggled to rise from his chair. “Leave it!” Becoming dizzy, he slumped back down.

“Amazing,” Elabea muttered as she dragged it onto the cool hearth. “It’s not burnt and is even free of soot. It’s so…beautiful.”

“Beautiful?” Areall replied derisively. She crept toward the parchment as if an evil spirit possessed it. “Its beauty is its deception!” she snarled. Unwilling to get any closer, she whispered,“Burn it! Destroy it or you will curse us. The Cauldron will know and see. They will come!”

Elabea calmly picked it up. “They’ve never come before! Besides, how can something so beautiful be evil?”

Areall reached for her but Elabea was too quick. She raced out the door.


Just Get Over It!

Pulltight Hill

Pulltight Hill…on a CLEAR day!

Since I’ve been cycling a lot more than writing, I thought I’d take time to share my recent ride and how it’s comparable to writing.

But first, let me give you some back story. This coming Saturday, I’ll be riding with a bunch of other crazy folks who think that grinding gears for 100 miles is “fun.” Well, it is if you adhere to the adage “misery loves company.” And the main reason I’m doing this is so I’ll be in top shape for the 100 mile fundraiser I’m doing September 21st. If you’re curious about the event and would even like to contribute, then please go to JDRF.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s refocus on last Saturday’s ride. The goal was 75, which I’ve already done, so this was simply to maintain endurance. However, at our refueling stop at mile-marker 40, my riding partner, James, announces to some local farmers that we’re doing 80. I cringe. I know 5 extra miles doesn’t sound like a big deal, but that wee bit can usher in disaster and misfortune. Fortunately the weather was overcast and cool by Tennessee’s standards, but we still had 2 big hills to climb, one of which–Pulltight Hill–we’d never ridden before.

Not being one to back down from a challenge, even one from a zealous friend, I set off with James in the mist. We joke how we have to do 80 or else those farmers will hunt us down with their 4×4’s or Tweet snide comments.

At around the 55 mile mark, we reach Pulltight and start our ascent. James, who is a much stronger rider than I am, makes some upbeat comment about taking it easy while scooting up the incline with the ease of a mountain goat. I’m more like an old mule plodding, groaning and making funny noises as I breathe.

When I reach the top, James is snapping pics and blabbing stuff like, “THAT wasn’t so bad!” I was too busy coughing up lung and sucking my water bottle to reply.

We roll on and the mist turns to rain, which makes drafting a nightmare. When we hit the 65 mile mark, we’ve ridden out of the rain and discuss route options in order to reach our goal of 80.

At this point, I’m not feeling so good. At the time, I just thought I was having an off day. But as this is Tuesday and I still have a sour tummy, I think I had a stomach bug. All of which is important to what happens next.

As we head up the last big climb of the day, I get light-headed, lose focus and wreck. James races back and is horrified at the sight. I’m sprawled in a rocky ditch near a metal drainage pipe. He told me later that he expected to see blood spurting everywhere and having to dial 911. As for me, I was just relieved he didn’t have to do mouth-to-mouth!

Thankfully, no, actually miraculously, my helmet and left hip took the blunt of the fall, and aside from some cuts, strawberries and my woozy head, I was okay. Even my bike survived; only the front wheel needing to be trued.

I steel myself, climb back on, and we finish the ride. No, we didn’t reach 80 (I ended up with 76) but it would indeed be the ride, or wreck, to talk about for some time.

All of that to say that writing books is an endurance event. It takes a ton of hard work, a boat-load of dedication, some days suck, and you will wreck. But you don’t quit and you hunger to be better, and the only way to improve IS to write (bike) with those stronger and better than you.

So you climb back into the saddle, grind over the next hill, and hope the downhill leads to a better tomorrow. And despite the misery and frustration, the setbacks and rainy days, there’s one truth that keeps you spinning along.

You really do love it.


Three Rules To Writing

If life is a river, then I’m body surfing white rapids!

Work is SO busy that I hardly have time for anything else, but has that ever slowed me down? Of course not. I simply pick up the pace, sleep less and wonder why everyone is so irritable (after all, it ain’t me!)

Crammed into the work week is my training for a 100 mile bike ride to raise $$ for juvenile diabetes (JDRF) I log 150 miles a week which takes a ton-o-time and energy. And yeah, that was a plug to see if you’d consider donating or at least cheer me on.

That would be enough, right? BUT NO! I’m also working on Book III of my War of Whispers series. When? Well, that’s a silly question! Naturally this is done before sunrise. DUH!

So it’s little wonder that blog and Twitter posts have fallen by the wayside.

Nevertheless, I’m squeezing one out this morn and wanted to share a quest post I did for Jill Edmondson’s Blog.

I shared my experience with characterization and referenced Tears of Min Brock. Yeah, it’s a shameless plug for my book, but ‘ya gotta do whatcha gotta do! I hope you check it out and let me know what you think. Kinda bummed she posted the old cover for Tears and not the new one, but those things happen.

That’s it for now. After all, it’s 4AM and I’ve gotta pack my lunch before I bike @ 6 so I can run to work and get to Saturday in order to bike which leads to Monday when it starts all over again and…and…and…


I’m NOT a Creeper! I’m an Author!

Whale RiderI tried not to stare at her, but I couldn’t help myself. She was stunning, perfect in every way. Her image burned into my psyche and her movements–fluid arcs of grace–made me smile.

The girl in question was the actress, Keisha Castle-Hughes, the star of Whale Rider.

Now before you report me to the police, let me explain.

Years ago, when I began to write Tears of Min Brock, I roamed about  like a casting director in search of faces to use for my characters. This meant staring at folks in the checkout line or in the mall, to which my kids would elbow me and call me a creeper.

I’m not! I’m an author, which in actuality is probably worse! 🙂

My search for Elabea was going nowhere until I watched Whale Rider with my kids. Keisha was superb as Kahu Paikea Apirana, the 12-year-old Maori girl who wanted to become the chief of the tribe.

She had a strong inner strength while her demeanor was tender and vulnerable yet not overly dramatic. Even her looks–a natural attractiveness that she carried in a nonchalant manner–were what I had pictured for Elabea as well.

I did not model Elabea after the movie’s heroine, but instead, used the performance to confirm what I had envisioned and created as the writer.

So next time you’re caught staring at someone, kindly tell them you’re not a pervert but an author looking for new characters. They’ll be flattered, and it just may keep you out of jail! 🙂


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