Monday, September 29, 2008

Happy Birthday to my Son!

Today my little guy turned 5! He's such a big boy now :) Amazing how fast they grow up. Just wanted to say a quick Happy Birthday to my favorite little guy. I love you Connor!!

Monday, September 22, 2008

My novel in a Wordle

Okay, so my awesome friend Heather pointed out this fun site that makes Wordles out of bodies of words. I pasted the synopsis for my book, Treasured Lies, into it and this is what I got.

I like it :D To see a bigger version, follow the link :D

title="Wordle: Treasured Lies"> src=""
style="padding:4px;border:1px solid #ddd">

To make one of your own, go to

Friday, September 19, 2008

Visual Inspiration

Sometimes I run across pictures that are just so breathtaking and so emotion inspiring, I want to sit and write the moment I see them. Here are a few I came across the other day.

This one is on my website:

And this one I think will make an appearance in my book - I am probably going to add a scene just so I can write about it.

Some pictures, like the one above, make me want to create scenes that take place in them. I can see my characters walking through them, interacting with them, and I want them to be a part of my storyworld. Others, like the first picture, invoke very strong emotions. I see all that beautiful red, the gorgeous tree, the lone bench beneath it, the incredible color of the sky, and I want to write about, not the picture itself, but how the picture makes me feel. I want to write about romance and passion and love. It is interesting how different pictures can affect me; very similar to the way music can affect me. Some music makes me want to write a fight scene, other melodies inspire death and despair. These pictures create a similar effect.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Blog Chain - Storyworlds and Authenticity

Time once again for a Blog Chain post. I am skipping ahead of turn a bit, as our wonderful Mary is currently holed up in her house hiding from Hurricane Ike. All our thoughts and prayers with you Mary!! Stay safe! So, just for this round, I will be posting after the incredible Heather, who started this chain. And the adorable Kate will continue the chain after me. Our other blogmates are listed in the roll to the left.

The topic for this round is - How do you as an author choose or create your story-world and give that setting authenticity?

I love this question!!! Choosing my setting is one of the most enjoyable parts of writing a story. I write historical fiction, so I need to pick a location, but also a time period. One of the reasons I obtained my Bachelor’s degree in history is because I love getting lost in other times and places. I can’t wait to write a book set in ancient Egypt or Greece, I have ideas for Italy and Russia, I want to delve into the old royal courts and medieval countrysides. I even have a small novella project set in the old American West (not something I ever thought I'd write, but I'm always up for a challenge). I am very partial to England, Ireland, and Scotland, and my first two novels are set in those regions.

Where I set my books sometimes depends on if there is a particular event I am writing around. For example, the story I mentioned a few blog chain posts back, of the girl who escaped an arranged marriage…this took place in England in the late 1100s or early 1200s. So, my location and time period was set for me. Treasured Lies is set in Victorian England, because I wanted my main character to be a clumsy, quirky character that was a little out of place in her refined world. And I needed her to be able to travel by train. So, Victorian England it was. My current novel is set in England in 1665 – why? Because I love that period in time and I wanted to get lost in a world of huge, fluffy dresses, ringlet hairdos, and sword carrying, swash-buckling men.

But in order to get lost in these time periods, and most importantly, in order to suck my reader into the past along with me, the setting needs to be believable. A woman in a huge satin ball gown, walking through the palace of Charles II, had better not have a cell phone ringing in her handbag.

Which brings me to how I give the setting authenticity. The answer…a LOT of research. I research everything, from clothing (down to the undergarments) and weaponry, to money values and housing availability, to who was on the throne and what the political setting was like. In order to make my reader believe that they are really in whatever time period I have chosen, I have to make sure the historical tidbits that I have sprinkled throughout the story are authentic and accurate.

This has made for some interesting emails on my part. I’ve emailed horticulture societies to find out what kind of flowers bloom in January in a certain region of England (not so odd). But, I did once get to ask a bone expert if a body that has been buried for a century would still have any hair (it wouldn't, in most cases). I have researched things as odd as what a laudanum bottle would look like in 1755 England, to when crowbars came into existence and what exactly they were called, to whether or not toilets were commonly used in 1855 England (they weren’t).

Setting a story in the past is a tough job, much tougher than I ever thought possible before I started to write. It is amazing how easily modern phrases and mannerisms make their way into my books. (This is where incredible critique buddies come in!) For Treasured Lies, I would often watch the movie An Ideal Husband in order to get into the Victorian mindset – so I could get the speech patterns and mannerisms in my mind before I began to write. And when I found myself starting to write too “modern,” I would often have to stop for the day until I could get in that old-fashioned mindset again.

But it is an absolute thrill for me to get lost in the past. Which is why what I do. I write historical novels because I can use the knowledge I have been acquiring over the years, indulge my love of research, mix it all up with the stories that are percolating in my head, and get lost in a world that was once real. I choose a place I want to go, a time period I would love to have seen (at least for a short visit) and create the perfect characters to live in them. And it’s a grand adventure every time :D

Next up, as stated earlier, is the fabulous Kate. And don’t forget to head over to Heather’s blog to follow the chain from the beginning!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Next link on the Blog Chain: How Real are Your Characters?

It is time again for a round on the ol’ blog chain. And the topic up for consideration: how real are your characters to you and how well do you know them? The last post was from the always excellent Archetype and the next post will be from our lovely Sandra.

This is kind of a difficult question for me to answer, because to be honest, I really am not sure. I do get attached to my characters. I think about them all the time. I can’t wait to find out what will happen to them (even though for the most part I know what will happen….but, things change sometimes). I had a hard time moving on to my new book from my first book because I didn’t want to let the characters go. I hear their voices in my head as I write (often it is the reason that I do write). So in this sense they are very real to me.

I do not know every little detail about them, although what I do not know, I will create when needed. I can describe their features down to the tiny hairline crack in someone’s front tooth; but I do not really see their face clearly in my head. When I write a scene, I know how my character will react. I’ve created their personality and to a certain extent I am bound by what I have created. If I have a bad guy pull a gun on my main character, I know if she would fall apart and scream, or if she would stand stoically and stare him down. And it is very obvious when you deviate from a character’s given personality. But, if I need my character to break down, and it isn’t something that is really in her personal makeup to do, I manipulate it so she will believably behave the way I want her to.

There is a quote I love by Vladimir Nabokov about his characters. “That trite little whimsy about characters getting out of hand; it is as old as the quills. My characters are my galley slaves.”

This is the way I feel to a certain extent. I know my characters. I get attached to my characters. I have a hard time killing them off (and sometimes can’t do it at all). I watch them in my mind, like I’m watching a movie, and I write what I see. And often, the given plan of how a scene is going to go is completely changed, because as I write, the movie plays out differently than expected. But, I do what's needed for the story whether my character wishes it or no :D

While I write, my characters are real, the unexpected happens, the characters are kind of in charge. But after the words are on the page, when I go into edit mode armed with my delete key, then my characters cease to be as “real,” and become my toys to do with as I please. Then I will hack away at whatever poured from my mind. I manipulate and change and rearrange and do whatever else needs to be done in order to get things the way I want them. My characters are real to me, but not to the point that they are in control…at least not for long :D And I know them as well as I need to. I have no idea how Minuette from Treasured Lies would take her tea. But if the situation arose, I would figure it out.