Thursday, June 27, 2013

What is your favorite method for reading? #reading

Seventy-five percent of Americans sixteen and older, according to Pew Internet survey, said they've read a book in 2012.  That's a decrease of three percent from 2011.  Eighty-nine percent of the readers said they read a print book.  Thirty percent of the readers said they read an e-book.  Seventeen percent said they listened to an audio book.  (According to the survey, readers read a median of six books.)

What does it all mean?

It means the world of reading is changing, and my publisher--Vanilla Heart Publishing, is changing right along with it!

Sunday, June 23, 2013


By Paisley Kirkpatrick
A while back I watched the Civil War movie Beguiled with a very young, very handsome Clint Eastwood as the northern soldier who is taken into a southern girls’ school to be nursed back to health. I remember seeing it years ago and how much I enjoyed it then.
First, I must confess I have this fetish for moss hanging on those gorgeous big trees in the south. I was lucky enough to see the trees draped in moss in person. Yes, it did give my heart a flutter. Anyway, I digress. One really great part of this movie was the way the director used the setting to bring out the mood of the story. The director skillfully added the items in the school and the garden to surround us with what it was like to be in the South during the Civil War. I know it enhanced my watching pleasure.
My time period is set during the California gold rush. I love to explore the old Victorian houses when they are open to the public, but it isn’t the same as living in them during the 1800s. One thing I noticed in the movie was when the women walked through the otherwise dark house at night, holding a candlestick with one candle to light her way, it only lit up the area where they walked. I hadn’t even thought about how dark it would remain in the rest of the room, hallway or staircase. I guess I just took it for granted the single candle would light the entire room, even though we’ve endured living by candle light during blackouts. It got me to thinking about other things that I knew, but didn’t think about when setting my scenes. I have started back into my stories and using my sensory words to enrich my plot.
What this movie brought home for me was to stretch my imagination and put myself into the setting more and pull out all the little things that can bring your story to life. I’ve always been one to notice everything when we are traveling. Now I have to start noticing what goes on around me and try to spiff up my stories by making them more human.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Give Me a Minute to Catch My Breath…

Wow! So much has happened since announcing here at Voices my intention to indie-publish the Highland Gardens series.

The first mind-blowing event was the phone call from RWA with the news that my manuscript, Sea Panther, was a Golden Heart® Finalist in the paranormal category. Lots of confetti throwing over that news.

Yikes! My blog wasn’t done yet, so I scrambled to get that up and running. Stop by Dawn Marie Hamilton Writes when you have a moment and let me know what you think. Fortunately, I was already on Twitter, but needed to scurry to join Facebook.

Then there was the scramble to finish edits on Just Beyond the Garden Gate, design the cover, and complete the formatting in order to meet the planned release date in late May. Cool! Three people purchased the book before I received the email that it was available for Kindle on Amazon. Then I got a thrill setting up my author page. After a couple of weeks, the e-book was also available for Nook at Barnes & Noble. More confetti throwing.

What? I need an author page on Facebook? Okay. Done. My author page would love a visit the next time you’re on Facebook.

The next place I joined was Goodreads. Not sure what to do there, but I’m sure to figure it out.

Now, I’m getting Just Once in a Verra Blue Moon ready for a planned September release and getting myself ready for the RWA National Conference and more celebrating. Can’t wait to go to Atlanta.

Just Beyond the Garden Gate 

The Scottish Highlands—a place where faeries and brownies and other fae creatures dance through time. On occasion, so do mere mortals.

Determined to regain her royal status, a banished faerie princess accepts a challenge from the High-Queen of the Fae to unite an unlikely couple while the clan brownie attempts to thwart her.

Passion ignites when a faerie-shove propels burned-out business consultant Laurie Bernard through the garden gate, back through time, and into the embrace of Patrick MacLachlan. The arrogant clan chief doesn’t know what to make of the lass in his arms, especially when he recognizes the brooch she wears as the one his stepmother wore when she and his father disappeared.

With the fae interfering at every opportunity, the couple must learn to trust one another while they battle an enemy clan, expose a traitor within their midst and discover the true fate of the missing parents. Can they learn the most important truth—love transcends time?

Journey from the lush gardens of the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina to the Scottish Highlands of 1509 with Just Beyond the Garden Gate.
~Dawn Marie

Thursday, June 20, 2013

On the psychiatrist's couch

      "I love books, Doctor Lexicon," I say. "Hardcover, softcover, classic, trashy. Every kind of book. Even e-books."
      He nods sympathetically and then urges me to continue.
      "When I was young, I wanted to be a biblipole. I'd scour garage sales hoping to discover an original Little Women. That came in two volumes, you know. Or a first edition Whitman." I sigh. "I was so naive."
      "How so?" he asks in his high-pitched, born-in-Austria voice.
      My face floods with shame. My secret, the reason I've come to him, is horrific.
     "I love all books," I repeat. "And books are made up of words."

       I stop on the precipice of my confession, search his sunglasses until I see a glint of reassurance, and  
abandon my verbal defenses. "I should love all words and I don't."
      He gasps. His cheeks flap like they've taken the entire windblast of a slammed-shut Gutenberg Bible. Consummate professional, he quickly reasserts his composure. "Which words?"
     "Pert and frisson," I whisper. "It happened when I started reading romances."
      He opens a dictionary. "Pert: Impudent; a pert remark. High-spirited, as in lively. Jaunty, like a ponytail."
      "Doctor, does pert mean turned up? Can can a nose be pert? A chin high-spirited? Breasts impudent?"
      "The meanings of words evolve over time. Let's move on to frisson. It comes from Latin frgre, meaning to be cold. Old French changed it to fricons, a trembling. An almost pleasurable sensation of fright or shock. A quiver, shudder, tingle, chill, thrill, shiver."
      "Can it be used in love scenes?"
      He smiles. "Close your eyes. Imagine you are at a party and the man you secretly love walks in. His eyes search the room until they land on you. He starts toward you, wanting to talk to you. You shiver with anticipation, with excitement. That's frisson."
      My mind relaxes, and I know I will finally be able to sleep again. I understand frisson.
      And pert implies sass mixed with beguile.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

A Mother & Grandmother

Let me introduce you to my latest release, MOTHER’S DAY BABIES.

The heroine, Barbara Ramsey, could be your sister, your cousin, your neighbor or dear friend—a woman who met a wonderful man years ago, fell in love and married him. Together they worked and struggled to raise beautiful children and give them a good education. A happy couple many envy, they understand and support each other.

But suddenly their world shattered. He dies of a heart attack or a long painful cancer.

After thirty wonderful years with a man she’s always adored, she’s alone and lonely, and she tries to continue the same life on her own. A mother in the true sense of the word, Barbara helps her daughters, babysits her grandchildren, volunteers at the church, and makes an effort to visit with her friends.

She claims that her life is perfect. But she misses a man’s hugs and kisses and warmth. At night she cries and feels empty. Will she always be a mother and a grandmother—and a lonely woman when her children don’t need her anymore?

How about being a woman again, Barbara?

Let’s hear it from my heroine, Barbara, who lives and breathes for her five grownup daughters and their babies.

“Why would anyone expect me to play the dating game at fifty-five with forty extra pounds on my hips?” Barbara pinched her side. Yep, definitely more than two inches there. Not that she usually cared about her weight, but under the circumstances...

Instead of commiserating, Heather and Madelyn burst out laughing. If her three other daughters were here too, the five of them would have a swell time ganging up on her with comments and advice.
“Mom, you’re beautiful.” Heather grabbed her mother’s shoulders and spun her back toward the mirror. “Look at your pretty face. You have almost no lines. How many people had told you that you look like our big sister?”

“You’re too kind, sweetheart.” Barbara patted Heather’s cheek. “So what if I have good genes. I still can’t go to Paris with your sister’s boss.”
“Mom, let’s put things in the right perspective. You’re not going to Paris as Lou Roland’s date. Roxanne and her family will be there too.” Madelyn threw aside the outfits she’d been holding and rubbed her mother’s back.

“You’re just accompanying Roxanne on a business trip to France for two weeks,” Heather added. “Why do you assume he has an ulterior motive?”
“I don’t assume anything. I just don’t know him very well. It’s been two months since we met at Roxanne’s friends’ wedding and I haven’t seen him since.”

Madelyn planted her fists on her hips. “Lou calls you several times a week. You told me you chat and laugh for hours. You even called him your best buddy.”
Heather chuckled, her blond ponytail bouncing on her back, and tapped her sister on the shoulder. “I bet you’re not aware that she even sent him a box of her famous cookies.”

“No way!” Madelyn’s censorious look annoyed the heck out of her mother. “Well, well, if your friendship with Lou has reached that level, I don’t see the problem. It’s about time you started living again.”
“My life is busy and perfect as is.” Barbara’s mouth twitched and she automatically reached to readjust the golden cover’s corners. She had a beautiful house, the same one where she’d lived with her late husband David for thirty years, and she still attended the same church where they were married. What more could she wish for?

“Come on, Mom.” Heather threw her hands in the air. “All you do is spend your days in the kitchen, cooking or baking for your grandchildren and church events.”
“And probably tasting your delicious food,” Madelyn added. “No wonder you’re putting on weight. It’s time to do something different and discover what the world looks like outside of Lexington, KY.”

Panic struck Barbara’s chest. Oh David, why have you left me? “Leave me in peace, you two. I’m a mother and a grandmother. Not a glamorous thirty-something bimbo like the women your sister’s boss usually dates.”
So what do you think? Should Barbara accept Lou’s offer to travel to Paris with his TV crew and her daughter? His compliments flatter her and she’d love to accompany her daughter on a business trip with Roxanne’s boss.

Is she letting herself in for more than she can handle?

Blurb: Powerful News Director, Lou Roland is certainly not marriage material, yet he has suddenly decided he wants Barbara in his arms. Not an easy task when his pretty confidante from Kentucky proves so difficult to date—unless he follows her rules. Can the over-fifty confirmed bachelor and the widow loyal to her husband’s memory find true love and share a future?

MOTHER’S DAY BABIES is dedicated to the mothers we celebrate on Mother’s Day and those we remember with love.
Available for 99 cents at,


TO LOVE A HERO will be FREE on June 19-29, 2013.

Grab your copy.

Other books in The Holiday Babies Series:


Mona Risk Amazon Page of books

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Awards and free books

Today's post may seem a little disjointed but I have several cool things to talk about.

Now FREE at Amazon!
The first is that I have a book that's free today (Sunday, June 16). This is one of my older titles, Fangs For The Memories, which is part of my Hollywood After Dark vampire series. It's about a female vampire whose been in hiding for years until she's spotted by a man who not only knows who she is but has had a crush on her for years. When she runs out on him after a single night of near bliss, he chases her down and kidnaps her so that she's forced to listen to him.

It was a lot of fun to write and well received by the critics back when I wrote it, garnering several four and five star reviews, as well as being a Romantic Times Magazine Top Pick and nominee for their reviewers choice award. So if you haven't read it, pick it up for FREE.

Or if you are reading this on Monday you can still get it for the seriously low price of $1.49. How can you lose?

PRISM nominee for
Best Futuristic 2013
The other thing I wanted to talk about is my Samhain title Beloved Stranger, which is up for an award at this upcoming RWA Convention. I entered it into the FF&P PRISM contest (no relationship to the NSA program!) and it finalled about a month ago. I'm up against two other great books, The Marann by Christie Meierz, and Heart Secret by the amazing Robin Owens. This is terrific because even if I lose, I lost to one of these great writers, and there is no shame in that.

Plus I get a new pin for my badge and I love my little PRISM pins. I have nine of them already, and they are the coolest, shiniest things.

I'll be signing Beloved Stranger at the RWA convention as well, actual print copies! Samhain sent a few copies to me already and they are so nice looking, full trade-paperback sized books.

Free July 1st
for two weeks
The final thing I wanted to mention was that July 1st I have another story that will be free at ebook retailers everywhere. That is my story Darkpilot's Bride which is one of the six stories in the Ellora's Cavemen anthology: Legendary Tails 1.

As you can see from the cover, this book has some other great authors in it as well as me: Elizabeth Lapthorne, Lynn LaFleur, B.J. McCall, Callista Arman, and Charlotte Boyett-Compo. The stories were all great and we got a number of good reviews and awards.

My story was based on a joke I once made when the anthology was first announced. They said they particularly wanted stories with heavyset heroines, vampires, futuristic, and bondage, so I said I would write a story about a futuristic vampire who lands on a planet and finds the heavyset heroine tied to a tree.

I wrote it and it was accepted into the anthology. So now everyone can pick up a copy of this book when it goes free on Amazon, and all those other electronic book sellers. Be sure to check out the adventures of Dimitri, Josia, and Arthur, Dimitri's fussy computer.

That's all from me for this month. See you in July where I'll be posting from the RWA convention.

Janet Miller aka Cricket Starr

Friday, June 14, 2013


Most of you know about Hints from Heloise or other columns like hers which transmit tips for easing our everyday lives and eliminating peevish behavior.  I'm adding three pieces of advice I learned late in life which might be useful to users of lettuce, mascara and lipstick.  

1.  I hate limp lettuce.  My sister (a home economics teacher) told me to bathe the lettuce in ice water to crisp it up.  The problem: sorting the ice out of the drained lettuce.  Better: put the ice water in the bottom of your spinner and cut the lettuce in the strainer portion of the spinner.  Set the strainer section into the ice bath, with the ice imprisoned below the strainer.  When the lettuce is nice and crisp, lift the strainer out of the water, dump the water and spin! 

2.  I  dislike seeing mascara smudges under/around the eyes.  Waterproof mascara is the answer.  The only answer.

3.  I'm offended by lipstick marks on cups, glasses, clothing, cheeks or any other part of a victim's body.  Simple solution: use 16 hour lipstick.  My favorite is Cover Girl.  I pick from among a multitude of colors that remain on my lips.

Next, I'd like to list simple advice for how to market my books.  So far, the list looks like this:
1.  ?
2.  ?
3.  ?

If only I could fill in THESE blanks!

So, here's SWOON, of the Funeral Planner Suspense Series.  She's a boutique funeral planner whose dead clients refuse to rest in peace.  Trust me, she knows how to wear lipstick and mascara and her salads are fabulous!

Don't miss SWOON by Rolynn Anderson! If you like an interesting cast of characters, a heavy dose of mystery and a lot of fabulous surprises, you'll be happily turning pages late into the night.ˮ
~ Brenda Novak, NYT and USA Bestselling Author of WHEN LIGHTNING STRIKES

When the dead tell tales, Jan Solvang’s first reaction is to RUN!  But then she gets caught up in their mysteries.
Jan’s a boutique funeral planner, new to risk, hired to bury a missing woman and memorialize an infamous man.  Yet when she digs for clues to write their eulogies, she disturbs family secrets and unmasks killers.
Roman Keller, hard-driving documentary writer, is in complete control of his life and his stories, until he falls for Jan, a woman who trusts her dog, her faint-dreams, and her instincts more than she trusts him.

Can they make the sacrifices necessary to cement their relationship or will the mayhem caused by the dead ruin their second chance at love? 


Wednesday, June 12, 2013

When you borrow a book from the library is it paperback, hardcover, or digital?

Recently, I read an article that said there was an increase in e-book borrowing from libraries of two percent over last year (increase from three percent to five percent.)  There was also an increase in the amount of people who were aware that libraries allowed e-book borrowing.  I have to admit, I was one of those who only recently realized that libraries were seriously offering this service.  I've never done it, so the hows of it all  are still a mystery to me.

Libraries have always been one of my favorite places.  I love being surrounded by books written by authors from The Harlem Renaissance to some of my contemporary favorites, like Jane.  But, I guess it seems a little odd to me (an e-book reader owner) that libraries allow the borrowing of e-books.  In all fairness, I have to admit that I also find it weird that Amazon allows returns on e-book purchases.

I don't know why I feel there's a difference between e-book borrowing and print book borrowing, but I do.

But, I would never want to see libraries die.  If e-book borrowing helps save libraries, I'd prefer libraries allow borrowing to Amazon e-book return policy.

What do you think?

Monday, June 10, 2013

What I've learned in 6 years

My first book released in June of 2007, so I thought I'd take a look back and figure out what I've learned.

After 30 books, I've finally figured out that I shouldn't panic when words don't flow off my fingertips via the keyboard onto the screen. There will be times when it's damn hard to get even a page written.

I've also discovered that I work best with a deadline. Give me a date to shoot for, and I'll hit it every time. Don't put a bit of pressure on me, and I'll dither and dally all day long.

I can't write about somebody I don't like. Even my villains have to have a redeeming something that makes me understand how and why they tick.

Let the story go where it will. I never plot it ahead of time. All I know is I want to get from Point A to Point B. I've learned I shouldn't try to jerk the story back to the spot I think it should go. Just let it go and follow along and see what happens.

But maybe the biggest thing I've learned is that you can't predict success. I know so many authors who are great writers -- they tell a fabulous story, they've got great characters, and they write a nice, tight novel. And they're not financial successes. And I know of others who are raking in money with crappy stories and poorly written books.

It's not all about talent. There's luck, there's talent, there's perseverance, and more luck. That's why you have to define success for yourself because if you compare your career to somebody else's, you'll go crazy.

I always said I'd keep writing as long as I'm having fun. Every year, around this time, I reassess and see where I am.

Yep. I'm still having fun.

So I guess there's still a few more stories in me!

J L Wilson

Friday, June 7, 2013

Shenandoah Waterfalls and Recharging the Muse

Rose River Falls

Sometimes a writer needs to recharge her muse. So last Thursday, we loaded the car with camping gear and drove up to Shenandoah National Park for a long weekend getaway. One of our favorite places to unwind.

We did a bit of walking. The first day out, we hiked the Rose River Loop trail. For most of the trail, we enjoyed the pleasant sound of running water along the river, cascades, and falls.

Upper Section of the South River Falls
While camping at Lewis Mountain we heard an interesting presentation from Ranger Mike on the origins of the campground and met several thru-hikers making the trek along the AT from Georgia to Maine. Wish I had that kind of stamina.

On the second day of hiking we traveled along the South River Falls trail, stopping at the oberservation point to take this photo of the upper section of the 83' waterfalls, returning to our car via the South River fire road. We were exhausted when we reached the parking lot, but it was a good kind of tired.

How do you reenergize?

Now that we're home, I'm back on virtual tour with Just Beyond the Garden Gate. Here is where I'll be for the rest of the month.

06/11/13 Romance Junkies - Guest Post
06/12/13 Nancy Lee Badger’s Blog - Guest Post
06/13/13 Books ‘a la Mode - Interview
06/14/13 Star Crossed Romance - Guest Post
06/18/13 Anne Lange's Blog - Guest Post and Recipe
06/19/13 House Millar - Interview
06/21/13 Sweet ‘n Sexy Divas – Soulful quotes by Renee Vincent
06/23/13 Dawn Marie Hamilton Writes - Full Moon Book Giveaway
06/24/13 Fresh Fiction - Guest Post
06/27/13 Melissa Limoges's Blog - Guest Post

I'll also be visiting the Firebirds blog on June 26th as a 2013 Golden Heart® Finalist.

~Dawn Marie

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Dangerous Curves

Who hasn't written a book, but then shelve it for one reason or another. Dangerous Curves was that book. It is a contemporary romance that starts with a case of mistaken identity. A middle school principal, Krista Harlow,  at an administrator's concert is mistaken for a corporate terrorist. How could that happen you might wonder? She was framed by the actual terrorist .

This fun, fast-paced book was my baby almost seven years ago. I stopped writing it when I went through a divorce. It is always difficult to write about romance when you have none in your life.

Recently, I finished it. It is now out and eBook form. Here's an excerpt.

“Rachel, didn’t you hear me calling?” He stepped closer and put one hand on her arm, sending an arc of electricity through her body.

This is where it got difficult. How well did Rachel know him? If they’d been lovers, she would know him very, very well—definitely well enough to remember his name.

“So sorry, handsome,” Krista purred. “I was thinking about the dress I didn’t buy.”

“Sounds like you. Have you had dinner yet?” He watched her with one expressive eyebrow lifted.

“Um…no.” Krista had doubts about how far she should go with the Rachel thing, but she needed to eat sometime. Why not have dinner with him? Oh sure, it would be a hardship to have dinner with Mr. Stud Muffin.

He cupped her elbow and guided her in the direction of the steak house where the aroma of mesquite-flavored beef enticed shoppers. There was a significant wait so they moved to the bar. A few people called out greetings as they entered. She listened closely in effort to catch his name. Krista was sure his name wasn’t buddy or friend—no help there. He ordered oversized margaritas for both of them. Krista was about to tell him iced tea when she remembered Rachel might love margaritas.

“Wolfe, Wolfe Jackson. You don’t remember me, do you?”

His grin was devastating against his tanned skin. He reminded Krista of a pirate, the swashbuckling type as opposed to the peg-legged ones. She was lost. Perhaps someone would scrape her up as she melted at his feet. Krista shook her head since talking was more than she could handle at that moment.

“We met at my cousin’s wedding, Samuel Levinson. I believe he married your friend Ruth, or is she your cousin?” Wolfe placed his hand over hers on the bar.

Krista nodded eagerly at the verbal lifeline he’d thrown her while she tried to ignore the heat radiating from his hand. “She was, um, is, my friend. I don’t see her much since I moved.” He might wonder if she never talked to her cousin. Krista gulped the margarita in an attempt to alleviate the sudden heat streaking through her body, but the alcohol raised her body temperature instead. Not one of her better ideas. The liquor singed her empty stomach like three-alarm chili, while giving her an air of flirtatiousness she normally lacked. She remembered why she didn’t drink—she couldn’t hold her liquor.

The bartender lingered nearby and asked if they needed anything. Krista looked Wolfe up and down boldly and knew she had everything she needed. Wolfe’s wink caught her unawares, and she almost slipped off the stool. In a flash, he was beside her, wrapping an arm around her waist. For an instant, she leaned into him, inhaling the smell of sandalwood, soap, and a hint of gasoline. Then she remembered she was supposed to be sitting on a stool not oozing all over him like a melted ice cream bar and jerked upright. What kind of girl was Rachel? Krista was secretly hoping Rachel was a touch fast. Fast sounded superb.

My question for you isw hat books have you shelved?

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The Unlikable Protagonist

Most of us read books where we can somehow identify with the main character or at least feel sympathetic toward the character. What if you have an unlikable character? What makes your character unlikable? My husband is a huge science fiction fan and picked up a book whose protagonists are always perfect. They are genetically perfect. Handsome to look at, smarter and more charming than anyone else and never ever make a mistake, he dislikes the characters. Such people existed in Wrath of Khan, but at least those perfect people had greediness to mar them.

As women changed, became head of households and held down jobs heroines changed. The perfect virginal beauty without two thoughts to rub together who waited breathlessly for the much older hero to rescue her from her boring existence lost her position as heroine. Women passed over books like this because they wanted women like themselves. It was good for the heroine to have a career, a broken relationship and a backbone. As women, we preferred a female we could befriend, which leaves out the constant whiners and mean girls.

I read books for reviews with all sorts of heroines. The characters are not similar, but the majority is likable. I seldom come across a protagonist where I stop reading in disgust. This happened to me last night. The beautifully edited book held promise with its attractive cover. I wanted to like it since I just finished my most recent book and needed a new one. I couldn’t read past chapter three. The woman was amazingly selfish to both her son and everyone else in her life. Then she would whine about how she was the victim. She refused to see her father for years because she’s unhappy he remarried. She punishes him by refusing to let him have contact with his grandson. The father was an all-around great person that the fatherless boy could have benefitted from having in his life. The heroine’s behavior reminded me of a spoiled five year old. When she shows up at her father’s funeral, all she can do is complain that black makes her skin look bad. The actual point of the story was a handsome, thoughtful doctor with oodles of money spots her and falls in love with her.

I read someone else’s review that mentioned that the author employed weak, whining women who had father issues. Do we write about what we know or are familiar with? We tend to reject what we aren’t familiar with. Often historical romances are very misleading because many authors give the heroines the same rights and freedoms an average modern woman enjoys when it wasn’t actually that way.

We like characters based on our backgrounds. The book I started I had a woe is me character because she had a low wage/no skills job. I finished college while working, pregnant, divorced and had two other children under five. In other words, I don’t feel sorry for characters who whine about how hard life is. Instead, I prefer characters who do try, they might fail, but they get up and try again. I have no use for perfect characters either.

The book I could not stomach will be a favorite of women who feel like victims. They whine and pout through life waiting for their prince to make things better. News flash: he isn’t coming.

On the other hand, you have to realize some people might dislike your heroine because of her name, her appearance, even her job. Elisabeth Naughton wrote an excellent romantic suspense in Wait for Me, but I was surprised how many reviewers disliked the hero and his job. He was a pharmaceutical executive. He needed to be one for the plot to work, but many readers viewed that career in a negative light.

In the end, your main character can hamstring the entire book. I am a person who is very capable of putting down a book, but often it is with great regret. The plot was good, the settings memorable, the secondary characters quirky, but the main character stopped the story in its tracks.

In the end, you have to like your heroine/hero. It wouldn’t hurt to get input from a critique group either to see if anyone else likes her.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

My Characters Own Me

I turned 65 last week--a wonderment, really, since I'm so young. I find that I adore this age. I can now be me without hunting for an excuse. You see, I'm a curious mixture of "I Love Lucy", Blanche Devaraux on "The Golden Girls" and "Maxine" in the cartoons. People just watch me for a few minutes, raise their eyebrows and then shrug, no doubt thinking that is one crazy old broad.

When Calvin and I married ten years ago, he insisted I retire. He claimed he wanted the pleasure of my company all day long. Poor soul soon learned I needed something to keep me occupied so I wouldn't dust him to death or launder his clothes while he was still wearing them. One day he cuffed his hands on my shoulders, pushed me toward the computer in the spare bedroom and said, "Sit down and start writing. You keep talking about it, but never do it. I'll see you later." He hurried back to his beloved news channel on the TV.

That was the day he lost possession of his wife. For I am now owned by my characters. They snatch me from my office chair and drop me in the coolest places: Texas, Paris, Budapest, Scotland. They've had me on horses, on the backs of bucking bulls, speeding along on Harleys, scrambling across the rooftops of vans, and running from terrorists on the streets of Paris. They make me laugh, cry, growl and tremor in fear. They shower with me. They talk to me while I'm driving. They whisper in my ear as I toss items in the grocery cart. And they invade my dreams. I'm telling you, they won't give me a moment's peace!

I am one lucky woman!

Right now I'm being bossed about by a hunky Scot in a kilt. We don't always get along, either. Believe me, I've asked myself more than once why I made him so stubborn. To which, he quips, "Ye dinna make me, lassie. I came to ye fully formed." And he did.

You see, two years ago, I had a cancerous cyst removed from my saliva gland. A four-hour surgery that has left my left cheek and ear numb. About a month afterward, two golden orbs started glowing in the back of my mind. Cancer, I thought. Despite what the doctors told me, I was convinced that cancer has spread to my brain. I went into major worry mode. I researched online and not once in all my research did I read that brain cancer glowed. Nor did I have any of the symptoms the Mayo Clinic and others listed. I was just about to call the doctor's office when the golden orbs blinked. Eyes? Those are eyes? (By now, I suspect your gaze has drifted up to my last sentence in paragraph one...that's okay...I understand.)

Those golden eyes watched me for months...silently...waiting...and I had no clue what they wanted.

Then one night as I was in that fragile, fluttery state between wakefulness and sleep, the eyes moved from the back of my mind to the foot of the bed and slowly the shape of a huge bear formed.

"Oh, I'm sorry," I whispered to the bear. "You've come to the wrong author. I don't write children's stories." He shook his head. "Oh? You're not a children's bear?" Slowly the bear shifted to a man in a kilt. "Oh dear, you're still in the wrong writer's bedroom. I don't write paranormal."

He stalked around the foot of the bed and stood next to me. "Aye, lassie, but ye will." He lifted the covers and I slid closer to Calvin to make room. The Scot settled into our bed and folded his hands over his broad chest. "Let me tell ye how bears came to be extinct in Scotland..." And from that point on Creighton Matheson has owned me...and will until I finish this book and another character moves into the dank, dusty recesses of my mind.

Do your characters own you?