Monday, July 31, 2023

A Change in Location and Life Style

Things have changed since November. Bill suffered a stroke and our son wanted us nearer to him in Traverse City. At the end of June, I bought a condominium apartment in the city and we moved in on July 1st. Luck came my way as the old house was only on the market for two weeks. The condo is only about a third the size of the house, so I had to downsize and get rid of a lot of stuff. However, it has been a good move. I am now five minutes from my son's house rather than ninety minutes, and I live across the street from Traverse City's Civic Center Park. 

So most days I can sit on my balcony and watch young men and women on their skateboards and scooters going up and down ramps and doing jumps and tricks; plus, the park has a mile walkway around its perimeter. I am now walking five to seven miles a day and the park is full of black, grey, and brown squirrels. I even saw a skunk once. Plus they have an outdoor theater where special events take place. 

It is quite a change from the silence of my house where I seldom saw anyone even while walking and only heard the periodic road noise of trucks. Here it is noisy. The traffic in Traverse City is heavy, but I don't have to drive much as I am within walking distance of everything I need including my bank, dentist, eye doctor, doctor, and hair salon. I do drive to the grocery store, but it is only three blocks away. So while I am still adjusting, I love it. I still have to get rid of a lot of stuff, some of it valuable, but have time for that.

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

 Back porch on Sunday morning. Such fun driving to work over the weekend. 

Saturday, October 22, 2022

Villainous Characters

This month's topic is about villainous characters who might have reached redemption and how did I go about making this happen?

In my first novel, the fantasy story of Magic Ageis, one man, Eldin, is a childhood friend of the character Ottillie. He is a royal guardsman, although his father is an aristo, his mother's family disavowed the pairing, making Eldin a bastard.  It has rankled within him. He is guiding and guarding her on a trip to the southern province when a royal messenger arrives and gives Ottillie a message that the king and his family have been killed and Pertelon is invading the eastern coast along the river. Ottillie tells him he must go and inform the eastern garrisons to be on alert. He leaves but does not do as she asked, instead he goes back to court and works for the current regent who wants to become king.

Months later when Ottille goes back to the court she learns what he has done, but also accidentally overhears him talking in a circular staircase. She cannot recognize who he is talking with, telling Eldin he must kill the new king, Warrick. She learns he has been working for the Pertonalese. She waits until he comes down the staircase alone and asks him why he has committed treason. He replies, 'To improve my status!" He pulls a blade on her neck but knows he cannot kill her because of his love for her. Her feelings for him allow her to tell him to escape--to get out of Kaereya, their homeland. He does.

In the book Acceptance, Eldin is mired in the Pertelonese court but is not held in high regard even after doing some spying for the current King Clement. He is given the assignment of watching the previous king's son, a young man consider a dolt. Eldin knows the new king usurped the previous reigning family. But Eldin, still wallowing in his guilt over his actions in Kaereya, suddenly swears fealty to the dolt Prince Uilleam. Eldin goes on to prove his loyalty to Uilleam and even saves the idiot's life. It turns out Uilleam is not a dolt, but a smart young man playing an act to save his own life. Eldin thus, although forced to leave his home country and a ruined reputation, becomes an important supporter of King Uilleam.

It took two books, and although Eldin's reputation remains repugnant in Kaereya, he has proved his loyalty and worth in Pertelon.

Often, villains have a strong background of different types of abuse that makes them develop into an evil person. Depending on their mental background they can revert to descent people.

Visit these authors' blog to see their take on this topic:

Diane Bator 

Skye Taylor 

Judith Copek 

Connie Vines 

A.J. Maguire 

Dr. Bob Rich 

Saturday, September 24, 2022

Character yes and nos.

This month's topic is how characters are defined in writing and what do I leave to the reader’s intuition? Is there anything I never tell about a character?

Well, writing is all about the story's purpose, and the characters must work to carry out that purpose. So, of course, the reader needs to understand the characters and think of them as real people, either good or bad, for them to carry out that purpose.  At the same time, readers pick up hints about the character's personality from their own experiences. They also get hints from what the character wears, does, and says. While some traits of a character must be made, such as appearance, manner of speaking, and tone of voice, often the reader has their own perspective on a character’s behaviors that develop as they read which makes the reader part of the writing process.

Characters fall into categories. The main characters are those the reader needs to know intimately as they are most important in the story. Supporting characters help or hinder the main characters in some way the reader can relate to, and placement characters, who often remain unnamed, just help create the fictional world as a real place.

Is there anything I never tell about a character? Absolutely. The character doesn't need a biography. The reader doesn't need to know everything, only the pertinent information for developing the character as a real person and supporting the story's purpose

Please visit these authors' blogs for their views
on this topic:

Skye Taylor 




Saturday, August 27, 2022

Developing Characters As Individuals

This month's topic is how do you create your characters--their quirks, habits, values, and what part they will play in the story, etc.? Do you have a process, or do they come to you instinctively?

Generally, ideas about my characters start when I'm just thinking about a new
 story's plot. Once the story's idea is in place, then only the main characters get established with backgrounds, although sometimes they just appear. Being developed from my mind means my process may have an instinctive basis. Yet, based on the plot, many of the problems they will face have already evolved. Once this background is established, I start looking at the characters and try to add the essences that make them different.

We all have different quirks, habits, and values. Some are due to our genetics, and some come from how we were raised and the many different experiences we have enjoyed or endured. With each of my characters, I develop a background based on both the good and bad experiences in their past and how these have affected them.

This doesn’t seem to be a set-in-stone process. Stories change, and as they evolve this often changes the characters, too.

Most writers have a good understanding of people and how they differ, but creating a character also involves much imagination. However, keeping our knowledge of the real people in our lives out of our stories is an important principle in writing. So is borrowing characters from stories we’ve read

Of course, the pleasure of a series of novels is that the characters are already somewhat developed, but that doesn't mean they can't change somewhat in attitude, beliefs, and commitments. For me, they seem like friends.

Check out more posts on this topic with the following writers:

Skye Taylo 

Connie Vines 

Fiona McGier 

Dr. Bob Rich 

Anne Stenhouse

Saturday, July 30, 2022

Where Do Characters Come From? What Happens to Them?

We have a number of related topics to choose from this month: the inspiration behind our characters, characters we have just killed off, our characters' names, or aspects about our characters that were cut from the story. Also included were deleted scenes and characters who didn't make it into the story.

Ideas on Characters:

All stories have to have characters, human or not, or there can be no story as dialogue and action have to come from someone's viewpoint. Many books have had animals as characters, like the story of Bambi (not the 1942 movie versions, but the original 1928 translation of the Austrian version written by Felix Salten), or the story of Black Beauty. And, of course, many fantasy and science fiction novels have non-human, human-like characters.

But where do my characters come from? I'd have to say my imagination, although I will admit my mind sometimes works behind closed doors. I remember a long-time ago, before I started writing, I was having repeated dreams about someone I'd never met in real life. She inspired me to begin a story. During the writing, she changed and evolved into a somewhat different person-character than the dream one, who has never visited me again. 

Sometimes ideas for stories occur first, either from imagination or occasional contemplation of problems. I might understand what I want a character to be like in a story, but before they can come into being, they have to have a name, which I imagine makes them individuals in my mind. So in those instances, I know a character's personality before I met them, but once I know them by name, they often change. I've written about character names before and where they come from, and why some names can never be used--which is part of the selection process. I've also written a post about evil characters and how I name them.  

Character's death:

I've never had a major character die, but some minor ones have; mostly this shows the effect on the main character. The story often continues with how the main character moves on from this devastation. I've also read stories where the ghost of a previous character haunts the main character. That also can prove interesting. I will say that in one of my books a minor character who died is shown alive in another time warp of the story's universe. 

Deleting Characters and Scenes:

Writing is time-consuming and sometimes arduous. Cutting a scene is difficult, but I've done it because the scene did nothing for the story. I cannot remember ever cutting a character from a story. 

Visit the following sites for more perspectives on these topics.

·         Skye Taylor 

·         Marci Baun  

·         Helena Fairfax 

·         Dr. Bob Rich 

·         Anne Stenhouse   

·          Judith Copek 

Saturday, June 25, 2022

Do I use current issues in my writing?

This month’s topic is about using current social, political, or environmental problems in any of your stories or if you have ever thought about doing so? Why or why not? Such as:

  • Do you ever include politics in your stories (why and how?)
  • Do you ever address topics like discrimination or race relations?
  • After your characters with or against law enforcement and do you include the current climate of anti-law enforcement in your writing
  • have you incorporated gay/lesbian characters? 
  • how does the current economic climate feature in your books?
  • Have you ever included current wars in your books?
  • Has terrorism ever appeared in any of your stories?
  • Do any of your characters address going green/global warming?

I thought I would say no to all of the above because most of my stories are fantasy or science fiction; but then, after some thought, I realized I did deal with some of these issues but in very minor ways. For instance, in Dragoons Journey the setting has humans living within enclosed habitats on a planet still developing an inhabitable climate. While starting their expanse into the outdoors world, it is mentioned that they should avoid the problems of human contamination of Earth and continue to live in habitats. From another perspective, future humans might have to adjust to living in constructed habitats if the projected dire consequences predicted for Earth’s changes come true. So perhaps I was forecasting changes to come?

Then I realized that both my Black Angel and Homeworld series are filled with politics. Yet these are not today’s politics. The Homeworld series also shows the female gender losing the equality they’ve worked so hard to gain in our cultures. The conflict between those who rule and those who must follow the rulers’ edicts seems to be prevalent in all societies.

Overcoming problems is one feature that makes writing and reading interesting. Readers have their concepts of what life is like in the contemporary world and what types of problems there are, so they can relate to almost any issue. (Which is probably a good thing.)

So yes, I’ve dealt with politics, global warming (future), and other current issues in an incidental manner, but not as a direct issue in any story.

Visit these authors to see their answers to this question:

Skye Taylor 

A.J. Maguire 

Diane Bator 

Connie Vines 

Marci Baun 

Anne Stenhouse

Dr. Bob Rich 

Judith Copek 

Saturday, May 28, 2022

Stalled Writing. What do I do?

Writing is enjoyable but can be difficult, and making each story and each character different can be challenging. I imagine all writers run into writing blocks where they can't decide which direction the story should take next. Sometimes  I know that I have to take a break from my writing and clear my mind before I take a story further...or even start a new story. 
Matter of fact, I've been on a bit of a hiatus from writing for a while as other important projects have been interrupting my story imagination.

One of my favorite projects to start when my writing is stalled is painting, whether a  piece of art, a craft project, or even painting a room. Sometimes these projects take precedence over writing. My granddaughter recently graduated and my daughter asked me to paint her a box. I've painted many boxes. Why boxes? I don't know, but I still have a few more to paint. My granddaughter called hers a keep-sake box for her odds and end. I also have a few rooms that need painting and updating.

Saturday, April 23, 2022

How Much and What Do I Read?

This month's round-robin question is about how much reading I do, both for pleasure and for a work in progress.

I love to read and love my Kindle! My Kindle has more than 40 books on it, and I carry it with me all the time, along with a recharging cord and adaptor for electric outlets. I read during breaks at work, or while traveling (if not driving), and while in bed before sleeping. I've already worn out two Kindles. 

I also read a lot of non-fiction, mostly in historical or science genres, but some are on various other topics like gardening, art, writing, psychology, and more. When  I'm gone, I sometimes wonder what will happen to my 1000 or so books. 

In the novel category, I love to read fantasy, contemporary romance, historical romance, or just historical stories, mysteries, and even general fiction. Becoming immersed in a story is satisfying as it generates all types of emotions, and becomes relaxing at the end when all (or most) problems are resolved. Stories I love I read multiple times.

I also read a lot of non-fiction. (Why do we call in non-fiction? Isn't there a better name, like factual or informative books? Something without the 'non' moniker.)

In history, I love reading about the earliest civilizations. In this category, I've read the Sumerians: A History From Begining to End, and I was fascinated by all the knowledge provided about a civilization existing from 5000 to 2000 BCE. I learned they came up with the concept of a 24 hour day, a 360-degree circle (a sexagesimal system which we still use today in our timekeeping), the year was split into 12 segments, they had a written language (cuneiform), they identified all the planets although the Greeks and Romans named them, and developed the zodiac. They had mathematical calculations to predict the future position of planets, multiplication and division tables, square roots, geometrical exercises, financial and loan contracts, and much more! I was so surprised to learn what humans knew over 4000 years ago and at the very beginning of humans living off the land in one location rather than roaming! Learning is one of the pleasures of reading!

I've read many non-fiction books for background information on stories I have had in progress.  For instance, for my novel Constantine's Legacy, I read numerous books on the Roman Empire, the Carolingian dynasty, and the dark ages that are now known as the early middle ages. While the novel is fiction, many facts about the era were needed. Not much fiction is written about this era, but like the Sumeria, I think much more information is now available.

Because I like to write science fiction, I also need some groundwork for basic science in those novels. While some science can be fictional, it cannot be science from this age, or else the book turns into fantasy. Admittedly, I've written fantasy, but sci-fi is different (or should be—I've read a few that were based more on fantasy than science—but that's writing for you). So I've also read information for story background data on how to bioform a planet for future inhabitation, how different police departments work (for books in a contemporary settingalthough policing has changed with time, too), and about various military ranks, and more on other various story topics.

I have to admit reading for me is more than a hobby—more like a passion.

Read more on this topic at the following author's sites:

Marci Baun 

Connie Vines 

Helena Fairfax 

Diane Bator 

Skye Taylor 

Dr. Bob Rich  

Saturday, March 19, 2022

Message Within the Story

The tension in all stories is achieved by the adversity the characters must overcome. This is what keeps the reader's attention and keeps them reading. This tension delivers messages about facing challenges, overcoming difficulties and differences, discovering love, and how to become an ethical and understanding person. The plot will also contain a message about how the characters reach a final resolution. 

Can a book have other messages? Messages that the reader must intuit? I think so, and in part, those messages might be what attracts the reader. What is amazing is that different readers can comprehend these messages differently.

Stories tell readers so much about humans, their characteristics, faults, and virtues. We are all different but all alike. A story can also reveal why individuals act the way they do. So reading might teach the reader understanding and how to deal with certain situations and people. 

I think all of my books have these messages. The funny thing is that I probably didn't plan or recognize all the messages, not even as the author. In the Black Angel series, it is about the heroine finding herself after her mind has been destroyed. In the Homeworld series, it is about finding a home. In the Aegis series, it is about belonging and acceptance as the person you are.  In Constantine's Legacy, it is about discovering a world-changing lie that cannot be stopped.

For other author viewpoints on this topic, visit the following posts: