Falling in #Love with your #Characters #amwriting @jacqbiggar

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Readers often ask where do writers come up with ideas for their characters? In my case, the birth of a hero comes from a variety of sources. News reports, television programs, books I’ve read; all are great resources.

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But my favorite characters grow organically from stories I’ve already written. For my new release, Missing: The Lady Said No, the idea for my hero, Augustus Grant, came to me from a previous book where the main character was a mystery writer suffering from writer’s block.

Gus is the character my hero, Joel Carpenter, (in the holiday romance novel Silver Bells) was writing about. I fell in love with the bumbling detective and decided then and there he needed his own story!

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Gus is smart, irreverent, a little bit clumsy (okay, a LOT clumsy!) and still in love with the girl he let get away.

Rebecca Hayes.

Here’s a short excerpt. Gus is investigating a murder at a horse ranch and runs into the one person he never thought he’d see again.

Becky stood at the top of the grand staircase and felt the world give way.

Augustus.

It had been too long.

And not long enough.

She couldn’t believe he was here. Or maybe she could. It had always been his dream to become a detective. After all, that was the reason they had split up, wasn’t it? He’d craved the excitement, and she’d needed stability. Safety.

Well, it was too late now, on many levels. The best thing she could do would be to put on a brave face and escape with her pride.

“Hello, Augustus,” she called. Careful not to let him see her trembling, she gripped the banister and reluctantly went to join the man who had stolen her heart. He was every bit as tall as she remembered. Still just as handsome, too. A few more lines around the eyes and mouth maybe. She shied away from his lips, focusing instead on the crooked tie and wrinkled shirt. A wry smile touched her mouth.

“I see you still haven’t figured out the right side of an iron,” she murmured.

He glanced down and ran a strong, tanned hand down his chest. Something fluttered to life in hers.

He met her gaze with a grin that slowly faded away. “I looked for you,” he said.

Oh, God.

This wasn’t what she expected. After leaving Bourbonville and moving here, to Balmoral, she’d second-guessed her decision often, but never realized maybe he did too, just a little.

“You’re the cop. You could have found me if you tried.”

As you can see, there are a lot of unresolved feelings between these two. The question is, can Gus make it right? You’ll have to read on to find out. 🙂

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This is part of a branded series set around the running of the famous Kentucky Derby. I hope you’ll enjoy my story and give the other books in the Chandler County series a try!

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Sneak Off and Read: Lines about HOPE, #RSsos #RomSuspense

#OneLineSunday by #RSsos Lines about HOPE for a great start to the week. Enjoy!


I just needed to dig deep, finish the adventure, and hope that I would be stronger in the end.

S.A. Taylor
Follow Me (work in progress)


What if her fan was one of those nut cases who hurt the object of their affections when they realize their case is hopeless?

Marsha West


Sharon WrayHe wasn’t just a bastard. He wasn’t just a fool. He just wasn’t the man he’d once hoped to become.

Sharon Wray
When Next We Meet (work in progress)


He looked…magnificent. His eyes gleamed with hopes and dreams.

Vicki Batman
Raving Beauty” from Just You and Me set


Becky stilled, and gazed up at him with so much hope and doubt and disbelief, his heart cracked.

Jacquie Biggar
Hold ‘Em- Luck of the Draw Box Set


He doesn’t understand everything that drives him and he guards his feelings like the Hope Diamond.

Sam Bradley w/a McKenna Sinclair


Her hope of job fulfillment, of using her hard-earned knowledge and skills to make a difference in someone’s life, washed away with the torrential rain outside the window and ran off into the gutters.

Claire Gem


I hoped Elsa’s heart attack had scared them enough to stop practicing witchcraft for a while, but I had no illusions they would give up the pastime

Joanne Guidoccio


Hope. There was always hope.

Kathryn Jane


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Sneak Off and Read: Lines about FLOWERS, #RSsos #RomSuspense

#OneLineSunday by #RSsos Lines about FLOWERS to celebrate Easter and the start of new week. Enjoy!


He’d heard it was wonderful, and green, with trees and flowers and streams. Soft places to sleep, lots of great food to eat.

Kathryn Jane


A translucent figure rose from the hospital bed and hovered in the air before drifting my way. I rubbed my eyes, blaming the image on fatigue, but it became clearer. A young girl dressed in a lacy white dress, dainty flowers tucked in her hair, and an angelic smile stopped in front of me.

S.A. Taylor
Follow Me (work in progress)


The last item she picked up was a big bouquet of cheery flowers. Maybe they’d help dispel the gloom threatening to overwhelm her.

Marsha West


Sharon WrayRafe inhaled the smell of orange oil and flowers and waited for his bride. The white church with eight rows of pews had been polished and decorated with gardenias, roses, and lavender.

Sharon Wray
When Next We Meet (work in progress)


Rounding the corner, I took the shortcut and struggled through the flower bed of Indian hawthorn and Knock Out rose bushes into my apartment’s parking lot.

Vicki Batman
Raving Beauty” from Just You and Me set


The moment Sophia’s gaze landed on all the pretty flowers and the butterflies dancing in the breeze, she forgot her disappointment. It was a magical garden, and they got to stay there for days. Just her and her dad.

Jacquie Biggar
Hold ‘Em- Luck of the Draw Box Set


Gentlemen, this fire hose is not a garden hose and you’re not waterin’ flowers. Step in front of it and it could kill you.

Sam Bradley w/a McKenna Sinclair


After busying herself unwrapping the dozen, delicate flowers, Laura arranged them in the spiked holder they’d picked up on their way in. Gladiolus—signifying strength, in memory of the Roman gladiators.

Claire Gem


He was like a brother to all of us. And he adored Mom. He’d bring her flowers whenever he was invited for dinner.

Joanne Guidoccio


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The Long & The Short Of It.

What are we talking about? Hair. Mine, yours, and our characters.

I think I’ve mentioned here before that I don’t like change. Any kind of change. I wore my hair the same way for over twenty years. My daughters kept telling me I should change. (Both are much more okay with change than I am.) I didn’t believe them until I went through some photo albums for a project for my husband. OMG! They were right. I was a curly headed blonde for over twenty years. I got perms and had it highlighted—expensive, but I felt like I looked good pretty much all the time and I didn’t have to do too much too it. Definite benefit. If it’s not broken, don’t fix it is my moto.photo(55) Very, very highlighted blond on wedding day. (We’ve both improved with age. :))

Hair says a lot about us. I was busy and needed something that was fast to keep up. Kind of no-nonsense, but fun. (I’m not sure the daughters would agree it was fun. LOL)IMG_5214  Still very blond, but not so high.

Ever since I’d been in college I’d wanted to have red hair. I played a role in a play that I used a rinse on my blonde hair to fit in more with the family. I remember the first time I looked in the make-up mirror after I’d put in the hair color. I’m not kidding, my eyes seemed to jump right out of my face. Play ended. Life went on, but that memory remained.

My husband over the years commented about how much he like red-heads. I told him one day I’d surprise him. (Neither of us are high on the spontaneity scale—it takes us two years to decide to buy a car.)  I can’t remember how many years ago it was that I took the plunge and changed my hair color. Kept the curls. Can’t do too much at one time.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Don’t remember what my older daughter (in pic above, too)  & I were doing here. Don’t even recognize location. 🙂

Met my husband for supper and sat across from him for over ten minutes before he asked if I’d done something to my hair. LOL  Since then I’ve lost the curls. And I love it. People who haven’t known me for a long time think the color is real. And I do like how my eyes look now. I must’ve been meant to be a redhead. My mother had red highlights in her hair when she was a child and I did, too. So it is kind of natural. 🙂

FullSizeRender(15) In researching for this post, I found I’d worn nearly this same hairstyle (but in my natural dishwater blonde hair color) as a young mom.)

Our character’s hair say a lot about them, too. In my first book, VERMONT ESCAPE. One of the things the hero doesn’t like about the heroine is she’s blonde. His ex had bleached blonde hair and wore it in a high bubble—stereotypical of Texas women’s hair styles. Well, it’s stereotypical because a whole bunch of us wore our hair like that for years. (See wedding pic above.)  The heroine’s hair was more the color of corn and she wore it in a low ponytail down her back. You learn some things about the hero from all of this. He notices details-like hair, and he was very hurt by his ex. We learn about the heroine. She wants a no-nonsense hair style. What’s easier than pulling your hair back in a ponytail? The low ponytail is classy. When my daughters were kids, I wore mine like that. Easy upkeep. (Couldn’t find the pic of me just before I cut it.)

Each of the women in the Second Chances Series has a different hair style and color. I found pics of 4 actresses to suggest the characters. Really helps with keeping them straight. One is dishwater blonde (surprise), another brunette, another red-haired, and the last is a very dark almost black color.

Do you use hair to say something about your characters? Are you a fan of change? Do you want a different style every year or so or every six months?

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Sneak Off and Read: Lines about BIRDS, #RSsos #RomSuspense

#OneLineSunday by #RSsos Lines about BIRDS for a great start to the week. Enjoy!


Miller had a suspicion Laura had been hurt, badly, sometime in her past. She was jumpy and panicky, like a frightened bird, trapped and uncertain what to do next.

Claire Gem


Then there was playtime, exploring, and sometimes they went out on the screened porch where they’d snuggle in a big chair and watch the sun push night aside, while they listened to the birds sing in celebration of a new day.

Kathryn Jane


Sunlight filtered in between the canopy of tree branches, birds chirped, and strains of Etta James and the Righteous Brothers spilled over from the reception area.

S.A. Taylor
Shutter (work in progress)


They’d eaten their dinner on the terrace where a breeze rippled the surface, and the water lapped against the dock. Sea birds landed on the dock and then lurched away.

Marsha West


Sharon WrayA flock of startled black birds flew away. He tracked their path to freedom, wishing he could follow.

Sharon Wray
When Next We Meet (work in progress)


The framed bird prints decorating the living room wall bounced like a 6.5 quake had struck.

Vicki Batman
Raving Beauty” from Just You and Me set


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Getting to Know My Cast

Happy Friday! What better day than this to share some writing inspiration—and perhaps inspire us to make use of some the weekend to further our works-in-progress.racehorse-152697_640

I would have made a bad racehorse. My writing on a new project tends to start out like hellfire: I get a fabulous idea, a great premise for a story, and there I go—bang!—out of the starting gate with all the speed of Affirmed or American Pharaoh. I’m banging away at the keys in a fevered frenzy, the first ten thousand words or so flowing out of my imagination with effortless exuberance.

But then I get to page fifty or so. My burst of writing energy gets winded. And just like a racehorse who leads the pack until he reaches the first turn, I find, sadly, I’m out of gas.

Why does this happen to me? Because although I began with a great story premise, I never really had a story to begin with. Just a story idea.

This doesn’t happen to plotters, who carefully outline their projects and know exactly (or pretty close to exactly) what’s going to happen in Chapter Two and Chapter Fifteen and at The End. I’ve never been able to write that way: out of a box. I’m a confirmed pantser. Perhaps because the other side of my life, my day job, is in scientific research. There I am ruled by outlines and protocols. I find them confining. They are a quick kill for my creative muse.cube-1002897_640

The same muse who finds herself scratching her head around page fifty. We both (she and I) know how the story ends, but getting from that first turn and on toward the finish line is like trying to cross the Rocky Mountains on horseback—with no guide, limited rations, and in January.

This time, I’m trying a new tactic. I’ve acquired some help. I figured, who better to help me write my story than the people most closely involved in it: my characters?

So before I began writing my current WIP, I selected four of the most prominent characters in my book and decided to interview them. I didn’t use a template of pre-determined questions I found in some writing book. I just created an imaginary scene, in the place where my book is set and where my characters live, and met them at various places. I started by taking my heroine out for lunch at a lovely cafe in downtown Tampa overlooking the waterway.

And you know what? A funny thing happened. First, I got to know her—I had no idea she had a Southern accent! She also seemed the very reserved, nervous type—what is she hiding? She exhibited some character-unique tics and mannerisms she will carry throughout the book.

When I followed my imaginary heroine back  to her place of work, a strange man walked in and encountered us in the lobby—not the hero. This guy was sort of sinister-looking, not terribly warm, and looked at my heroine like she was lunch. He was her coworker and superior, but I have the feeling his intentions will become much more intense as the story progresses.bat-2029809_640

My story has an antagonist. One I never planned on.

It’s either an amazing trick of the imagination, or a mental illness, but by simply creating a scene in which to interact with one of my characters, an entirely new facet of my story revealed itself. I highly recommend the practice. You never know who will walk in on you as you get to know your character.

I can’t wait to see what happens when I interview my hero.

This time, I think I may just make it to the finish line a whole lot easier.

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~~~

Claire Gem writes supernatural suspense and contemporary romance. She recently released an Author’s Resource Book, The Road to Publication, which you can find along with all her other books on her Amazon Author Page.

Getting Fit On Facebook

Hi all!

I’m Kathryn Jane, and if it’s the first Tuesday of the month, it’s my turn to share something about my life as a writer…so here goes.

Somewhere around the beginning of the year, when I’d been several weeks without my usual beach walks due to snowy weather, I thought, no problem, I’ll just crank up my tunes and dance to get some exercise indoors.

Hah! Didn’t happen. Well, not much after the first couple of days at least.

A few more weeks went by, and constant discomfort from sitting at the computer for endless hours had me once again anxious about how unfit I was becoming, and horrified by how quickly my muscle strength was vanishing. (I used to be very strong and fit due to a lifetime of working with horses.)

Determined to stop the downward slide of inactivity, I set up a plan for daily floor exercises and stretching, but knew I’d be lucky to keep it up for more than a few days before I’d be sloughing off. How the heck was I going to stay motivated?

A few years ago, when I started posting my daily gratitude on Facebook, it was to make my commitment public, and that’s what kept me on task. Made sense to carry on with what was already working, right?

Yep.

On March 17th, I added an Exercise Journal to my Daily Gratitude post, and I haven’t missed a day yet. Ha ha, lots of nights I’m on the floor going through the paces just before I do my post, but heck it’s working!

And I’m happy to say, my strength is returning much more quickly than I expected.


Tell me…what keeps you motivated?????


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Sneak Off and Read: Lines about Laughter, #RSsos #RomSuspense

#OneLineSunday by #RSsos Lines about LAUGHTER for a great start to the week. Enjoy!


“When did Ben become a foot doctor?” Laughing, Daniel’s look journeyed past me to Ben. “I guess when he graduated from med school.”

Vicki Batman
Raving Beauty” from Just You and Me set


He laughed again, a friendly sound that washed over her like a warm wave. “And to think I was worried about the crazy patients you’d be dealing with.”

Claire Gem


Four hours later, he and Louie walked in Louie’s front door, smashed to the gills, their arms wrapped around each other’s shoulders and laughing like loons.

Marian Lanouette


She threw up her hands. “You two are unbelievable.”

Both guys busted out in a chorus of laughter which only made her want to smack them more.

S.A. Taylor
Shutter (work in progress)


“Because you suspect I’m gay?” “Hell, no.” Laughter rolled out of him, breaking the stillness of the night. “Never crossed my mind, Ms. Lawson.”

Marsha West


Sharon WrayLaughter shook the room and Nate was able to do the regular inhale/exhale thing. It felt like he’d been holding his breath for a year.

Sharon Wray
When Next We Meet (work in progress)


Sneak Off and Read: Lines about Spring, #RSsos #RomSuspense

#OneLineSunday by #RSsos Lines about SPRING for a great start to the week. Enjoy!


Sharon WrayShivering, Juliet wrapped his too-big jacket around her. It smelled fresh and cool, like cut grass on a spring morning.

Sharon Wray
When Next We Meet (work in progress)


“I’ve okay-ed springing Kelly. An attendant will bring a wheelchair to roll you to” -over the top of his glasses, he looked at Daniel- “I guess he’s your ticket out of here.”

Vicki Batman
Raving Beauty” from Just You and Me set


Augustus Grant drove slowly down the gravel drive lined with towering oaks waving gently in the early spring breeze.

Jacquie Biggar


In his peripheral vision he saw flames spring from the arms of his coat. The angry dragon was making a final attempt at catching its escaping prey.

Sam Bradley w/a McKenna Sinclair


The late spring breeze was pleasantly cool, and the sky was stippled with stars. The nearly-full moon cast an eerie glow over the overgrown shrubs flanking the boundary of the massive brick building.

Claire Gem


How could I forget the Group of Four as they liked to call themselves? The three Godfrey sisters and the visiting cousin were inseparable during that spring so long ago.

Joanne Guidoccio


The radiant sun shone over the green Virginian landscape, and the scent of mown grass greeted her as she meandered, half floating, down the sidewalk. At the edge of the duplex lawn, she crouched down to touch the rounded petals of a large pink peony.

Jeannie Hall


Hunger gave her tunnel vision, and she was bellied down like a seasoned hunter, prepared to take a creature almost double her size. Her heart pounded as though too big for her insides, and her toes vibrated with the need to spring.

Kathryn Jane


A cool spring, though tonight promised a warm night even as he wished for the lazy hot summer days.

Marian Lanouette


Each inhale brought a sharp, stabbing pain on her left side, the muscles spasming like a tightly coiled spring.

S.A. Taylor
A Twisted Fate (work in progress)


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Psst: A Secret #2 Adding Emotion to our stories

author 100 x 100When I was a tad younger, I went to a party with friends. At that time, a college buddy owned a moped shop. He was searching for a young lady to represent his store at an RV show’s beauty contest. I had modeled in college and knew I could do it, but should I?

After plying me with a couple of margaritas, he, my roommate, and another guy convinced me to do it.

In my later years, I’ve told this story, describing the (younger) contestants (especially the tiaragirl with blonde cornrows), the judges (one was a former professional football quarterback), and attempting to drop a few pounds. When I began writing, people would say, “You should write a story about that.”

Huh. Could I? Do writers take elements and experiences from their own lives and add them to their work?

The idea germinated. I had to try. It grew and grew and flourished into a romantic comedy short story, “Raving Beauty.”

I’m a pantser, and when my fingers are flying over the keys, images and words pop in my head and flow to the keyboard. If my heroine put on pajamas, bingo! pink polka-dotted ones filtered into my brain. I have polka-dotted pjs. If my hero or heroine has a pet, I might name them after mine or a name I’ve considered.

I could describe what a beauty contestant felt like (and I must admit, not my first rodeo). When the heroine fell off the stage, I knew how to perfectly describe her torn ligaments (dance team performance during halftime at a high school football game). And for backup, I asked my fellow writer friend for her experience with the surgery she’d had and with the knee trolley.

I call it a secret.

I just don’t rely on myself for information cause that seems rather narcissistic. I ask others. I do research. Romance stories convey emotion and by placing myself in predicaments or asking others for their personal knowledge, I’m better able to translate the information, but more importantly, the emotion to the page. We want the reader emotionally involved in our stories so they continue to turn the page.

So I bet you’re wanting to know if there are more secrets in my stories. Psst: want to know a secret?

just-you-and-me My romantic comedy short story, “Raving Beauty,” is in the Just You and Me boxed set and is available for preorder now. Check it out and all the other authors at: Amazon

 

By the way, a tiara is on the line. lol

 

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