Friday, May 27, 2016

Character Inspiration

Hey, all! I didn't post last week because I was revving up for my two day long book release for Dead Beat Dates & Deities. I will be posting about that sometime this weekend, but first I was want to write my post for #LifeBooksWriting.

Character inspiration ... well, now ... a writer's mind is a messy thing. At least mine is. I think that, for me, each one of the four books I've published has started out with one, maybe two characters that have lived in my brain for a while. The rest of the characters are developed to fit around them.

My debut novel, The Color of Thunder, started with Faith Linsey. She's six years old when the story opens, and it progresses for more than thirty years. Faith is not me, but she's pieces of me. I was not alive in 1946, which is the time frame in which the story begins. I have never lived in Jackson, Mississippi, nor have I ever experienced any real, personal racial issues in my life. My father was not a Baptist minister, either. Far from it. I won't go into detail about him, (at least not in this post) but know he was much closer to hell than he ever was to heaven. While they did not have the same profession, my dad and Jacob do have a lot of similarities, and his character was based largely on the man I knew throughout my childhood. He was always right, no matter what, and he enforced his rules and way of thinking through verbal, and sometimes physical, abuse. As for Hope ... well, Hope is special to me ... but I'm not even sure that I can explain why. Perhaps she is the sister I always wish I had, (I'm an only child) and she has the spunk and tenacity I lacked while growing up.

The idea for Alabama Skye was sparked by my grandmother. I called her Mimi, and she inspired the character of Sarah, the matriarch of the Gannon family. Sarah was always at the center of this book for me. She is suffering from Alzheimer's, which is the disease that ultimately took Mimi's life, and much of the story is about Greer, the granddaughter who loves her dearly. (Perhaps there are some pieces of me in Greer, as well.) Cheney McGillivray, also a main character in the story, hails from the Isle of Skye. She was also inspired by Mimi ... or better stated, Mimi's love of Scotland. 

When I wrote Alabama Skye, it was meant to be a stand alone novel. When I published it, I had no plans to visit Kelby, Alabama or Portree on the Isle of Skye again. The book, however, received such a positive reaction, and I was asked many times when the Gannon family was coming back for a sequel. The interest in these characters excited me, and I began thinking about how I could continue the story.

I was happy to bring Greer back ... and even more excited about writing Cheney's character again. (She's one of my personal favorites.) But what I kept hearing about was that readers wanted to know more about Noah Wilson, Greer's lifelong best friend. I love Noah. Again ... she's a lot of things I'm not and wish I was. She was a lot of fun to write in A Skye Full of Stars, and because Cheney is such a colorful, wonderful character, (who doesn't like to write dialect?) I enjoyed coming up with a background for her. I did a lot of research for this book, most of it Scottish. That was Mimi again, and I learned a lot about a land she was so intrigued by.

That brings me to Dead Beat Dates & Deities. Wow. I'm still on an emotional high with this book. It went live exactly two weeks ago today, and the response I've gotten from it has blown me away. It is currently my baby, and I smile every time I think about it. This book has made me so unbelievably happy ... and yes, a lot of that has to do with the characters. Where the inspiration came from for this unseemly group, however, is more of a mystery to me than the rest. Maybe other authors do this ... I'd like to think that writers insert themselves into all of their work somehow ... or maybe they don't and I'm an oddball. It's probably the latter, but that right there ... that's Frances Reed, the main character in DBD&D. So, there you go ... there's a bit of me in her, too. She's successful and kind. She has a crazy family, but they love her and she loves them back. She's got a supportive best friend and a good job. She loves food ... all kinds of food, and coffee. She loves to take bubble baths and sleep in on Saturdays. I can relate to this character ... but she isn't me. As for Archer ... well ... you'll have to read the book to figure him out. There was definitely inspiration for his character. 

Inspiration is a funny thing. Sometimes I can pinpoint exactly where certain characters come from. Other times, I have no idea. I'm just glad they show up at all ... and feel really lucky when they turn into people I come to love and enjoy.


Friday, May 13, 2016

My bookshelf/Newest reads

It's Friday, again! That means another blog post for #LifeBooksWriting!

I absolutely love to read. I always have. My mom read to me as a child, as did my grandmother, Mimi, and I remember one of my most favorite places in all the world when I was younger was the library in my elementary school. I read the Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden series'. I read Danielle Steel, even though I was probably a little young for them at the time. When I got older, I loved Sidney Sheldon and V.C. Andrews. Then I got into Dean Koontz, and Stephen King.

When I was a freshman in high school, just like so many other freshmen in high schools all over the country, I was introduced to Harper Lee's wonderful To Kill a Mockingbird. That, after all these years, is still my all time favorite book. Whenever my life goes pear shaped, that's what I pick up. It helps ... every single time.

I was on a Patricia Cornwell kick for a long time, and I really liked John Sanford. Perhaps my favorite genre is Southern Lit; authors like Karen White, Sarah Addison Allen, Sandra Brown and  Loraine Despres. I've got a lot of James Lee Burke's novels, who is my most favorite author in the history of forever. He writes Southern Lit ... sometimes. He's got a twenty-book series that I absolutely love based in Iberia Parish, Louisiana. Dave Robicheaux, the main character in Burke's series, is so real to me. He reminds me of my biological dad. I can't explain why that's a good thing ... just know I'd happily read any one of the Robicheaux novels 100 times and still never tire of it.

My shelves are filled with all sorts of books ... autobiographies, how-to's, (I'll eventually teach myself how to knit, you just wait and see!) travel books and educational texts. I love books. I love them all.

Newest reads? Well, I'm usually reading a few books at once. I just finished proofreading a wonderful new book called Fortune's Treasure by author A.K. Lawrence. I would include a link, but it is in the process of being republished. I did an author spotlight on this author not too long ago. If you're interested in learning more about her, please click here.

I also had the chance to read a new crime thriller novel by indie powerhouse S.L. Shelton called Hedged. It's in the process of being published, but if you're interested in reading an amazing spy/thriller series, I highly recommend his Scott Wolfe series. Be careful, though ... his books are a little like potato chips. It's hard to read just one.

Another one of my most recent reads has been Billy Purgatory: I Am the Devil Bird by Jesse James Freeman. I'm only about halfway through it, but I'm thoroughly intrigued by the story. Fortunately for me, he's got a second book in the Billy Purgatory series. I like knowing there's more to read from author's I enjoy.

Did I mention that I love to read? Yeah ... I thought so. Thank god for books. They have always been my happy place.

Friday, May 6, 2016

My writing room

For some time now, I've been thinking that I'd really like to write regularly here on my blog. When my friend and fellow author, Jennifer Sivec introduced this challenge to me, I decided to jump in. This was organized by author Sophia Valentine. 

So, here goes week number one ...

My writing room. Well ... I'm one of the few people around (at least that I know of) that works on a desk top. I had a lap top for a long time, and then my writing room was wherever I wanted it to be. I'll admit, though, I didn't cart it around much. I'm old school in that I carry a notebook and half a dozen pens around with me in my bag, and if an idea strikes, I write longhand. 

Notes for A Skye Full of Stars
Notes for Dead Beat Dates & Deities
I even take notes longhand when I'm reading a book I plan to review.
I've had a dedicated writing room in every place we've lived. In several houses, a couple different states ... even in two different countries. I'm a homeschooling mom, as well, so my writing room is also my teaching room. I write in whatever time I have, be it during a forty-five minute class period where the kids are on their own, or while I'm waiting for a lasagna to bake.

My office space in North Carolina
Same desk in a different country. Here's my office space in Germany.
When we moved back to Colorado about two and a half years ago, I settled for an office downstairs, but the placement of my office didn't work for teaching. I moved upstairs to a spare room. I liked it just fine, except that said room is covered in horse wallpaper. Now, I like horses as much as the next person. Truly, I do, but this was a little too much horse for me. As you can tell by the rest of this post, I tend to take photos of my writing rooms. I don't have any of my 'horse room'.

I then moved my office one room over. There's wallpaper in there, too, (our house was built in 1970, and the previous owners really, really loved wallpaper) but this pattern was a bit more understated. Flowers and swirls ... still not what I would choose for the walls, but not as distracting as a field full of horses.

I quite liked this room, and was happy here for some time. 

Horses are great, but I'm more of a giraffe kind of girl.
I mentioned that our house was built in 1970. I moved my office again, this time back to the basement, (although not in the same place as it had been before) when we began remodeling our master bedroom. This relocation happened when we moved our bedroom furniture into the room that was my office. I took pictures of my writing room then, too.

I've been using this desk for a great many years.
I've moved again, just recently. Now the remodel is taking place in our basement, alongside the continuing remodel in the master bedroom. The kids and I are currently at the dining room table. It's not ideal, but it works. Yep. You guessed it. I have a photo.

I'm in the middle, book ended by both kids.
So, I've had many, many writing rooms. (Five different ones in just this house alone.) Where would I like my writing room to be?

Who knows? Maybe someday it will be. God knows relocating won't be a problem. I'm a pro.