Thursday, June 30, 2011

Dreaming Big with Henry Kinsey--Character Interviews Pt. 2


In keeping with this week's interviews from my current WIP, Hallelujah & the Rowan Stone, I'd like to introduce today's victim... err... interviewee: Henry Kinsey. We met at a local coffeehouse in futuristic (well... futuristic for him) downtown New Orleans, and ended up digging way deeper than I anticipated. Owing to her busy schedule, Hallie was unable to attend as originally planned, although I can personally attest to her presence in spirit. As to whether her absence proved an unfortunate happening... well. I'll let you decide.

SWBD: You keep checking your pocket watch. Not late for another appointment, are you? A previous engagement? I hear you're a busy young man.

HENRY: No, no. Bit of a compulsive habit I have, actually, checking the time more often than necessary. My father gave me this watch five years ago, for my thirteenth birthday. Belonged to my grandfather, who was a watchmaker. So...[shrugs] I suppose I inherited the impulse from him, fretting over time so.

SWBD: Ah, time. The corrector when our judgments err.

HENRY: [smiles] A fan of Byron, are you? Hallie despises him, you know. Has since she was old enough to read.

SWBD: I think perhaps I did know that. Can you tell us how you met Hallie? 

HENRY: Oh, why, I... [pushes out a long sigh] When we were five or six, perhaps? Yes, I believe that is correct. We met in the summertime, at an al fresco luncheon. Ah, that is a midday meal prepared for the open air, in the out of doors. Preferably in the shade, as it can become quite hot during the summer months. The children, about ten or eleven of us, if memory serves, were fishing in the river downhill, away from the adults. And, ah, well... [blushes] whilst I was... indisposed behind a nearby tree, Hallie stole the worm off my lure.


SWBD: [laughs] Indisposed. A mild way of saying you were relieving yourself in front of God and everyone.

HENRY: I'd had quite a large helping of terrible punch beforehand.

SWBD: I'll say. So, she stole the worm off your hook, did she?

HENRY: Quite deliberately, yes. The amusing thing about it was that she thought she had actually gotten away with this bit of... well, thievery, I suppose would be the right term. But I saw her do it. Quite clearly, unfortunately, especially from where I stood. Unable to do anything about it.

SWBD: And let me guess: You said nothing?

HENRY: Of course not. A gentleman always refrains from telling a lady she is in the wrong.

Such a gentleman...

SWBD: Boy, my husband could take a few pointers from you.

HENRY: Beg pardon?

SWBD: Nothing, nothing. So, would you say you and Hallie have been friends since then?

HENRY: Friends? Yes, I suppose. It is a strange thing, really, that elusive state between two people we call friendship. When we are young, it is easy. Laughing, running about the countryside, dirtying one's clothes, knowing full-well you shall receive a proper chastising from Mama once you're inside and the maids are forced to scrub you down before supper. But sooner or later, we grow older. Wiser. People begin to change in one another's eyes.

SWBD: Is that what happened between you and Hallie?

HENRY: I wouldn't exactly say it happened. Not on her part, anyway.

SWBD: On yours?

HENRY: [runs hand through hair] I... yes, I guess it did. Change, that is.

SWBD: What did you do about it?

HENRY: I asked Mr. Farrington--ah, that's Hallie's father--I asked his permission to court her.

SWBD: That's a really big step in a young man's life. How did Hallie react when she discovered your intentions?

HENRY: [inhales quickly through teeth] Not good. Not as I had originally hoped, that is. In fact, I do not believe she took me seriously at all.

SWBD: But you were serious.

HENRY: Absolutely.

SWBD: Have you reason to believe she's in love with someone else?

HENRY: Hmm. How shall I put this without coming across as a complete horse's ar... Ah, I do apologize, madam. Courtesy of having an American father, you see--decorum deserts me at the most inopportune times. Especially when I am in the presence of someone with whom I feel comfortable. I would advise you to take that as a compliment, but...

SWBD: Thank you, Henry. I believe I will. Now... you were saying? About Hallie?

HENRY: Right. Well, I am of the opinion she believes herself to be in love with someone else.

SWBD: But you don't think she is.

HENRY: I'm not exactly certain. Not yet. She is hard to read, this woman. Complex, yet straightforward and uncomplicated. Cheeky, yet kind and endearingly confident. Really, I don't know where she acquires the energy for such a high level of vitality. Incredible, she is. Extraordinary.

SWBD: Amiable qualities in any member of the female sex, I'd say.

HENRY: Quite so.

SWBD: All right, Henry. Let's move on to the big questions, shall we?

HENRY: At your leisure, madam.

SWBD: What is your biggest fear?

HENRY: A difficult inquiry, that. Probably finding myself old and unaccomplished. My father is part owner of the railroad depot in Middlesbrough, which is extremely successful. Not to mention he possesses extensive knowledge on the locomotives themselves, as well as the steam engines which run them.

Early engraving of the Blücher locomotive;
built in 1814 by George Stephenson

SWBD: And so your goal is to follow in his footsteps?

HENRY: [chuckles] Heavens, no. Obviously the engines and locomotives are of a common interest to me. One cannot escape what surrounds them on a daily basis. However, I would much rather try my hand at politics.

SWBD: Politics? Really?

HENRY: When the time is right, yes. And preferably in America, though I know at least fifty people who would rather see me hanged. [laughs] We are a traditional lot, we citizens of County Durham. But what good is it if one loses the ability to dream? Just so happens my dreams veer far westward from home.

SWBD: Well, let me be the first to commend you for keeping hold of your dreams, Henry. I'm a firm believer in chasing after that which you want more than anything in the world. As long as it does not cause anyone harm, naturally.

HENRY: Of course.

SWBD: Next question: What do you feel is your greatest accomplishment?

HENRY: Without a doubt, coaxing my father who, in turn, coaxed Marquess Beaufort--he owns almost every square inch of land in Darlington, and then some--to bring a police force into our village.

Bobbies or Peelers, circa 1830

SWBD: A police force? Have you had an influx of crime in Darlington?

HENRY: Not really, no. We have the occasional theft or public drunkenness, as does, I suspect, every other town in the world. The suggestion was more for the protection of the people and their property, rather than to catch a particular criminal. Also, I considered it an opportunity to bring a bit of modernization into our otherwise quiet town. Sure, we have a theater and a number of balls and soirees throughout the season, but oftentimes the rest of the country rather forgets we are up here. Without basic necessities.

SWBD: Like men trained in detective work and policing.

HENRY: Precisely.

SWBD: Fair enough. All right, what about your biggest regret? Do you have any regrets?

HENRY: Several, unfortunately.

SWBD: Can you name one?

HENRY: [pauses for several seconds] That I didn't tell Hallie from the start how much I liked and cared for her. It was a poor choice on my part, keeping silent for so long.

SWBD: Do you mind if I ask how long?

HENRY: Too. Since we were fifteen, and she arrived at the first party of the season. She wore white flowers in her hair, a single strand of pearls around her neck. And blue. Cornflower blue--that perfect melodic combination of blue and purple, made into a silk gown. Certainly you are familiar with the shade of which I speak?

SWBD: I am.

Evening gown, circa 1867

HENRY: Yes, well, I shall never forget it; that is for certain. Or the way she looked. I've been working up the courage to extend a proper offer of courtship ever since.

SWBD: Have you received an answer from her yet?

HENRY: An answer?

SWBD: On the courtship?

HENRY: No. No, not yet.

SWBD: Do you suppose she'll say, "yes?"

HENRY: [smiles ruefully] As I said before, one must never lose the ability to dream.

Henry went on to share several interesting (and, admittedly, hilarious...) stories from his early childhood, including but not limited to the time when he poured a can of worms down the back of Hallie's dress. Guess he finally repaid that little incident with the fishing lure, eh? Thanks for stopping by, folks! Until next week...

Peace, Love, and Junior Mints,



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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Exclusive! Adris & Hallelujah Get Intimate with SWBD


In the YA follow-up to my last novel, an adult historical entitled Enraptured, headstrong seventeen year old Hallelujah Farrington sees her life plummeting straight for the virtual prison of genteel society's strict expectations: Find a wealthy husband, start a family, and live out the rest of her days in fashionable boredom. That is, until futuristic time-traveler Adris Crane sweeps her across the globe on a secret journey, beyond the boundaries of space and time, and into a world of unparalleled adventure.

Joining us today are the aforementioned Hallelujah and Adris from Hallelujah and the Rowan Stone: The Time Travelers' Chronicles Book One.

SWBD: Good morning, you two. Thanks for agreeing to the interview, especially since you're so busy these days.

HALLELUJAH: And a good morning to you, as well, ma'am. We are most honored.

ADRIS: [murmurs incoherently]

SWBD: You seem a little on edge, Mr. Crane. Is the couch comfortable enough?

ADRIS: The couch? Yeah, it's fine. [shifts, leans back, props one ankle on knee opposite] Just been a while since I've seen something this new, that's all.

HALLELUJAH: It is a wondrous work of craftsmanship, indeed. Why, I cannot imagine when last I saw a piece of furniture so... so... [hesitates] different. What is it called?

SWBD: A love seat. The material is leather.

HALLELUJAH: Oh... [blushes] Oh, my. A most fascinating name for a sofa. My papa has a similar model in his personal office, though I do not believe the cushion is quite this... this, ah... hmm...

ADRIS: Plush?

HALLELUJAH: [laughs] Plush! Yes, precisely. And a trifle intimate, I daresay.

SWBD: Well, that was the idea, actually. Getting you and Adris into an intimate setting for the sake of a more revealing interview, just as we discussed. That's still okay, right?

ADRIS: [shrugs, throws an arm over the back of the couch] Fine by me. Hallie?

HALLELUJAH: Of course!

SWBD: Then, let's get down to business, shall we? Adris, you mentioned it's been a while since you've seen something this new. Do factories and/or manufacturers of various goods not exist where you live?

ADRIS: Oh, we have factories. They just don't make couches.

SWBD: What do they make?

ADRIS: Weapons.

SWBD: Sounds dangerous. Doesn't your government have some sort of policy on weapon control, something of that nature?

ADRIS: [laughs] Government? Yeah, right. Forget your comfortable twenty-first century Starbucks-lovin' U-S-of-A, sweetheart. Elected president, voting, and all that powder puff fantasy rigmarole. In Twelve Cities, we have the Counsel, and they uphold laws made almost a century ago by the founding fathers. Break any of 'em and you're dead. It's as simple as that.

SWBD: That's a brutal way of life. I have to ask: What are the women like?

ADRIS: What few women mingle about our primarily male-driven society either work in the weapon, chemical warfare, or clockwork factories. Assembly line type stuff. Old school.

HALLELUJAH: Old school?

ADRIS: Old-fashioned. Out of style.

HALLELUJAH: Like Grecian gowns?

September 1807 La Belle Assemblee

ADRIS: [chuckles] Not exactly. [to SWBD] She's a bit behind on local lingo, if you know what I mean. I try and teach her as much as I can, but it's kind of an "as we go" type thing.

HALLELUJAH: [brightens] But I am a fast learner.

ADRIS: That, you are.

SWBD: Speaking of which, Hallie... Do you mind if I call you Hallie?

HALLELUJAH: [nods vigorously] Please do! All my closest acquaintances refer to me as thus, and I should like to imagine us as rather close, do you not think?

SWBD: I should hope so. All right, then, Hallie. What went through your mind when Adris first took you through time? What did it feel like? Were you frightened? Thrilled? Did you get sick?

HALLIE: Ah, well, let me see... [holds up five fingers & begins ticking off one by one] "Oh my merciful heavens, I cannot believe I am really traveling into the future." Falling. Very. Most definitely. Thankfully, no, but Adris did warn me it could happen, and God's truth, I worried over casting up my accounts throughout our entire short stay in the Great City.

ADRIS: You were a trooper.

HALLIE: Why, what a terrible thing to say, Adris Crane! I think I behaved quite well, thank you very much!

SWBD: I think he meant that as a compliment.

ADRIS: [lowers voice conspiratorially] See what I mean?

HALLIE: Do not speak about me as if I am not present. It is most rude. Not to mention ungentlemanly.

ADRIS: Sorry, Hallie.

SWBD: My apologies, Miss Farrington. I'm certain time travel can't be easy. By the by, you said, "the Great City." Where did you take her, Adris?

ADRIS: New York City. 2272.

City Ruins


SWBD: Wow. That must have been incredible.

HALLIE: It was quite sad, actually. Devastation had consumed what must have been, at one time, a marvelous, exciting city. Much like a futuristic London, or so I imagine, though I have never been there.

SWBD: Oh? Where do you live?

HALLIE: Darlington, County Durham. [sighs] Where railroads and steam engines are all the rage, and no one speaks of anything but their investments in one or the other.

SWBD: You sound a little resentful. Care to elaborate?

HALLIE: Not really, no.

SWBD: Yikes. Touchy subject, I gather. Okay, then, moving on. How exactly does one travel through time?

ADRIS: [looks to Hallie] You wanna get this one?

HALLIE: [shakes head] No, no. You should explain. It will make more sense coming from you.

ADRIS: Several years ago, before I was born and Mom died, Dad made a time machine. He's a scientist, you see. Dreams up all sorts of inventions, then... I don't know... [shrugs] draws up the plans, builds 'em, puts 'em through a series of tests...

SWBD: And everything he's made works?

ADRIS: Pretty much, yeah. But the time machine is exquisite. Made out of scrap metal, atomic clocks, and a whole mess of stuff I could list, but we'd be here all day and, as you mentioned earlier, we're on a tight schedule.

HALLIE: [nods] Truly, we are.

SWBD: The short version, then?

ADRIS: The time machine aligns to a wormhole Dad discovered after this huge supernova when he was, like, my age or something. Eighteen or thereabouts. When activated, it sends a signal through the atmosphere, to the wormhole, and to the external devices. All in, like, a nanosecond.

Wormhole Extravaganza courtesy of deviantart

SWBD: Wow, that's really quick. What do you mean by "external devices?"

HALLIE: [reveals a red amulet attached to a long chain around her neck] The Rowan Stone. Fashioned in part from the Rowan Tree, which grows wild in our mountains.

ADRIS: Mine's the same, but blue in color. Made from ancient Scorzalite. Contains the bark of the Ash Tree.

SWBD: Both known for supernatural protection and virility, Rowan and Ash. Even healing powers and, in some cases, psychic ability.


ADRIS: Someone's done their homework.

SWBD: Kind of my job, right? So, are these the only external devices?

ADRIS: This, too. [pulls up jacket sleeve, baring a complex looking watch] Dad fashioned it to mark precise date, time, longitude, and latitude. The machine activates the watch, which activates the stones, which activates the wormhole portal. Basic science.

HALLIE: Genius, it is.

SWBD: I was going to say the same thing.

ADRIS: Maybe a little. Hey, do you wanna have a go? We can take you on a ride along, no problem. Hallie can just loop her chain around your neck, too, and poof! [snaps fingers] We're off.

SWBD: Maybe some other time? I've gotta hang around for Hallie's interview with Henry on Thursday. You can join us, if you like, Adris.

HALLIE: That's not such a good idea.

SWBD: Why?

ADRIS: Because her boyfriend hates me.

HALLIE: [visibly bristles] He most certainly is not my... my... whatever you just said. Boyfriend. Honestly.

[a hushed argument ensues]

SWBD: Clearly you two have some major issues to work out, so... [raises voice] Why don't we just skip to the last three questions, all right? Adris... ah, excuse me? Earth to Adris.

ADRIS: Yo. Right, sorry. She just... [sighs] Nevermind. You were saying?

SWBD: What is your biggest fear?

ADRIS: That we'll be unable to locate the final ingredient for the cure my dad's been testing for the last seven years.

SWBD: The cure for what?

ADRIS: Remember what I said about us having few women in Twelve Cities? Well, most lose the ability to bear children before the age of eight. Sometimes earlier.

SWBD: So, in other words...

HALLIE: Either we find what Adris's father needs for his anecdote, or the human race becomes extinct.

SWBD: Wow.

ADRIS: I know, right? No pressure.

SWBD: I'll admit. It's a lot to take in. So, Hallie? What about you? Your biggest fear?

HALLIE: Having to marry out of duty, instead of love.

SWBD: Those sort of unions happen quite a lot in your society, do they not?

HALLIE: Too much. I want to be free. Able to do as I please, when I please. Accomplish what I aim to accomplish in the time in which I deign to accomplish it.

SWBD: I see. On that note, what do you feel is your greatest accomplishment?

HALLIE: [nods toward Adris] Meeting my best friend.

SWBD: Adris?

ADRIS: Meeting Hallie was a once in a lifetime chance-happening. I stumbled upon her father's antique story in downtown Darlington, and she was standing outside, attempting to move this monstrous statue of Hebe all by herself. So, if you can imagine, here's this small-ish young woman, 5' or so, moving a sculpted piece of rock twice her size... Yeah. [smiles] That was a good day.

HALLIE: It was rather amusing, really, because when Adris tried to help me, he nearly toppled the goddess atop both of us. [laughs] We couldn't agree on which way to move her. He would go left, I would go right, and so forth.

ADRIS: We finally got it done, though, right?

HALLIE: Indeed, we did.

ADRIS: And she hasn't been able to get rid of me since. So, yeah. I'd have to say that was a pretty great accomplishment. I'm also really proud of mine and my dad's success with time travel. Let's just hope we can meet with success on this vaccine-slash-antidote.

SWBD: No doubt. Last question: What is your biggest regret?

ADRIS: That I never met my mother. She died giving me life. Dad used to talk about her all the time, but not so much anymore. I think the memory just got too painful.

SWBD: Very possible. Losing a loved one is never easy. Hallie?

HALLIE: I fear my biggest regret bears nowhere near the weight of Mrs. Crane's misfortune. However, I wish every day that I had met Adris earlier. Of a certainty there are a few... ah, how shall I put this? Circumstances? Yes. There are a few circumstances which, to my mind, could have been otherwise avoided if only we had crossed paths at a much earlier age.

SWBD: I tend to believe everything occurs in its own due time; that, as you said, paths cross when they're supposed to cross.

HALLIE: Like fate?

SWBD: Exactly like fate.

HALLIE: [smiles] I like the way you think.

Well, that wraps up our first interview for Hallelujah & the Rowan Stone! Thanks for joining me today, Adris and Hallie and, of course, YOU, gentle reader. Your continual support is always appreciated. Be sure to check back on Thursday for my exclusive interview with Mr. Henry Kinsey. Until then...

Peace, Love, Junior Mints, and Happy Time-Travels,



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Thursday, June 23, 2011

Characters + A Preview of What's To Come!

Characters. Oh, how we love 'em.

Now I've finished blogging out my name, I shall lay off the challenges for a while and continue with our regularly scheduled program. Not that I've done tons of challenges in my short blogging career, mind, though I do find it difficult to dedicate a blog post everyday. At least for now. And so, Tuesdays and Thursdays it is from here on out, unless of course the fancy strikes me on an off-day. Kind of like veering off the beaten path or choosing Raisinets instead of Junior Mints...

All right. Maybe not that extreme.

Yesterday, while browsing through several of my favorite blogs, I stumbled upon award winning author Elizabeth Mueller's latest post: a character interview with her hero, Alex Stormhold. I must say, it really struck me. I mean, what a great way to get to know your own character! Not to mention introduce him or her to the public. Elizabeth's reasons for the interview were many, the main being that her current WIP is in first person/heroine's PoV. So, the reader doesn't ever experience Alex's PoV, save for facial expressions, actions, and dialogue tone--all of which happens through Winter's eyes.

Photo courtesy of deviantart

Now, if you're a plotter, you probably already do something like this. Outlines, charts, maps, and knowing your character down to the day of their birth and every little hair on their head is simply part of your repertoire.

However, if you're a pantser, I'd highly recommend it--before you start your manuscript. What! Sacrilege! Go ahead and say it: "Yeah, right, Alyssia. If I write by the seat of my pants, I actually get to know my characters as I go along. How the heck am I supposed to do an accurate character chart?" Here's the thing: The chart may not be accurate. Not now. But by the end of the novel, it will be. Because you can change it throughout the writing process. That's right! I said it! You can change your own outlines and character charts and potential-plot pages, etc. etc.! Who'd'a thunk it??

photo courtesy of bristol-street-art.co.uk

One of the best character charts I've come across was recommended to me by romance author Shelia Goss, and can be found here. It's fully downloadable, completely free, and you can fill in as much as you want. Don't feel obligated to complete the entire thing, although I can attest from experience: If you make yourself do it--and I'm gonna warn ya, it may take hours--you'll be surprised by the renewed bout of confidence whenever you show up at the page. It makes you stay in character... 'nuff said.

Obviously these are the recommendations of a pantser converting to plotter. However, I cannot lie--I'll likely never be a true member of the latter species. Why? I enjoy the thrill too much. The excitement of not fully knowing what's next. I do, however, want to make certain I know my characters. That I know what they will and will not do, the lengths to which they will and shall go, the very manner in which they handle any given situation. It's all there, in my head, on my character chart. Trust me, your reader will thank you.


Now, for the preview portion of this post (and it's a short one): Over the next couple of weeks, I'll be interviewing my characters, giving you, gentle reader, a front row seat into their thoughts, actions, and emotions, as well as their respective backgrounds. We'll likely begin with a secondary... or, heck! We may even do two at a time, like some of the movie/actor/actress interviews in EW. Shove heroine Hallelujah Farrington in an interview room with Adris or Henry or whomever and just go with it, see what happens. That would be pretty cool, right? Discover how they react to each other's answers and so forth? I think so.

Have a wonderful rest-of-the-week and weekend, everyone! Until next Tuesday!

Peace, Love, and Junior Mints,



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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A is for...


Art

Since I am attempting to finish chapter 7 this morning, I've decided to keep today's post--Tuesday's regularly scheduled & the last day of the What's So Random? Blog Your Name Out! challenge--short and simple.  I started this challenge with "A" (the first letter of my name), declaring A is for Architecture, and so I figured why not end the same way I began? With pictures.

In honor of one of our world's greatest pastimes, I give you the top ten most famous art paintings of all time. (Yes, there is actually a list.) Beginning with #10:

From the Lake by Georgia O’Keeffe

The Persistence of Memory by Salvador Dali

The Dream by Pablo Picasso

Corner of the Garden at Montgeron by Claude Monet

 Café Terrace at Night by Vincent Van Gogh

Girl with a Pearl Earring by Jan Vermeer

Luncheon of the Boating Party by Pierre Auguste Renoir

The Kiss by Gustav Klimt

Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh

Mona Lisa by Leonardo Da Vinci

Any surprise Da Vinci's masterpiece slid in at #1? Personally, I love Vermeer's Girl with the Pearl Earring, because it inspired so many writer's pens. Artwork has a way of doing that, doesn't it? Inspiring the uninspired? Isn't that a line from, like, Van Wilder or something?

Which painting among the world's top ten is your most favorite? And for a bit of fun, if you were to set pen to paper, fingers to keyboard, what kind of story might this famous work of art pull outta that brilliant brain of yours?


Peace, Love, and Junior Mints,

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Monday, June 20, 2011

I is for...

Photo courtesy of glitter-graphics.com

Imagination & Integrity

Two important things every writer needs. Without one, we cannot create; without the other, we cannot succeed. Amazing, how these two completely different entities go far more hand in hand then one might realize. In order to write fiction, we must unleash our imagination, yet to successfully do so, we must unleash with utmost integrity. Confused yet? Let's take a look at them separately, shall we?

imag·i·na·tion (\i-ˌma-jə-ˈnā-shən\) n. (14th century) 1: the act or power of forming a mental image of something not present to the senses or never before wholly perceived in reality 2: creative ability 3: a creation of the mind.

Theoretical physicist and author Albert Einstein once said, "Imagination is more important than knowledge. For while knowledge defines all we currently know and understand, imagination points to all we might yet discover and create." Writers are storytellers. Plain and simple. In order to create and write a solid story, a writer must utilize the deepest part of his or her imagination,  think up an interesting, workable plot, then put it into words. Sometimes it happens that quickly; sometimes it doesn't. Some authors use their imagination while writing by the seat of their pants (Pantsers, remember?), while others (Plotters) dream up a plot, outline and story-board said plot, then type it all out. It doesn't matter which way you write, so long as your story is original, engaging, and well-written. (Some say that last one is arguable, but in my opinion, it is entirely vital.)

All right, now we've got that covered...

in·teg·ri·ty (\in-ˈte-grə-tē\) n. (14th century) 1: firm adherence to a code of moral or artistic values; incorruptibility 2: an unimpaired condition; soundness 3: the quality or state of being complete or undivided; completeness (see also honesty)

A close friend and former teacher of mine once told me that when we write, we must be honest at all costs. That if we do not practice honesty, our reader will see straight through us. Now, maybe you're thinking, "Honesty? But fiction is just that, isn't it? Fiction. The writer sorta kinda has to be dishonest to write a fictional story... right?" The answer on all counts is, "yes." But that's not the kind of honesty I'm talking about.


For instance, I cannot tell you the sky is green, unless I have some sort of theoretical explanation for its alleged greenness. I mean, we all know the sky's not green. Blue, pinkish, sometimes red, yes, but green? Come on, now.

But what if I told you a nearby planet in space inexplicably and quite suddenly exploded, and at its core, a living mass of radioactive substance, green in color, leaked into the atmosphere at a rate which cannot be measured with Earthen devices? What if the fumes from that toxic substance seeped into Earth's atmosphere, thereby painting our clear blue sky as green as a thatch of Irish clover?

Oh, now we may be onto something. Could such a thing actually happen? Probably not. But by using imagination and integrity, at once, an author can gain our trust. Make us believe the otherwise unexplainable. So, then what happens? We keep reading. And that, to almost every writer out there, is more important than a pretty cover or a New York Times Bestseller stamp at the tippy-top of our novel.

As writers, how do you combine imagination and integrity? Have you ever, in your experience as a reader, picked up a book, started reading, all to lose faith in the story, because either the characters slipped out of character (became unbelievable) or the writer failed to give a solid explanation where it was desperately needed?

By the by, I chose the "green sky" bit, because The Hubby and I ventured out for Father's Day yesterday, and watched a matinée of Green Lantern. LOTS of green going on, and oh my goodness, Ryan Reynolds...


Well. I shall just leave it at that.

Peace, Love, and Junior Mints,

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Sunday, June 19, 2011

S is ALSO for... (Continuing on with the What's So Random? Challenge)


Sundays & Stories

Sunday today means a final measure of peace and quiet for The Hubby and me. Not that we haven't had a wonderful time. Visiting with his family is always a blast, especially for me, because I didn't acquire my first sibling until I was 20 yrs old. So, observing my wonderful husband as he interacts and tortures his sister (who, by the way, is in her 30's, but I've noticed when you're brother and sister, age does not matter one iota--he still holds her down and does the whole spit-string-in-your-face bit... eww!) always warrants a whole lotta laughs and great story ideas.

Speaking of Stories, I cannot WAIT to pick up on my WIP again (I haven't written in two days--too much for me--but with the whole house guest thing...). It's a funny thing: I had a wonderful time writing Enraptured. Everyday when the alarm went off, I would jump outta bed and rush like some crazy mad woman, just so I could have even more time to sit down, show up at the keyboard. But when I finished the book, got through edits, began submitting, and started on a new story... Well. It wasn't the same. Don't get me wrong; I liked the new story. In fact, I rather loved it. Post-Napoleonic wars, soldier returns home from Waterloo to find the woman he married believes they were really never married at all, and now she's engaged to someone else. History, romance... my kinda thing.

Cover art for Diane Gaston's Gallant Officer, Forbidden Lady

But then something happened. I thought, "You've written two historicals, soldiered through edits, then started yet another historical. Why not write something different? Get some variety under your belt?" And so, I did. I started a contemporary, which really has a great concept--a true one, too; I based the hero off a good friend of mine's son. Did my research, started listening to country music (it's set in a fictional town in Evangeline Parish, Louisiana), made a great story-board, filled out character charts, and...

Got bored after four, maybe five chapters. Why? I don't know. Contemporary concept, maybe? But I actually like reading contemporary (if you haven't picked up a Kristan Higgins novel, you're missing out); what's the difference if I write it?

Clearly a big one.

Wherefore art thou, Muse? Hast thou deserted me?

I put it down. Thought. Brainstormed. Talked with my CP. She offered encouragement, a few threats; I don't know, the details escape me. Finally, I started a YA paranormal. Again, great concept--no, really!--solid characters, shape-shifting, telepathy, another dimension...

Not so much.

Enter more brainstorming. More deep thought. And y'all, when I tell you this, you gotta believe me: A light bulb quite literally went off in my head. "PING!"  "AHHH!" "TA-DAAAA!" or whatever sound a really bright burst of light makes; take your pick. Seconds afterward, Le Muse rolled her eyes, sighed, and said, "Why don't you combine what you know, and just go with it?"

Why didn't I think of that? So, that's how I got here. Writing YA Steampunk. Young Adult (check), Historical (check), Contemporary (check), Paranormal (check), Sci-Fi (check). All wrapped into one concept. And the best part? I'm back to where I was with Enraptured. Loving the writing process. The creation of it all, the world-building, getting to know my characters, hearing them converse and laugh and fight in my head. Chaos? Sure it is! But I love it.

As a writer, what part of the process do you love most? And, like me, is there a certain feeling which comes over you when writing a story close to your heart? A story you really, really love? Is there a point you reach where you think to yourself, "Oh, yeah, baby. You're in this for the long haul now. Let's do eeet!" ?


Peace, Love, and Junior Mints,





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Saturday, June 18, 2011

S is for...


Saturday

And what a busy Saturday we've got here at the Kirkhart household. Truly. We're hosting my husband's sister, her husband, their three children (two teenage boys who are probably taller than my house & one cute-as-a-button little miss), as well as The Hubby's two teenage boys. Add me, The Hubby, four dogs, and one cat plotting our demise and WOW-EE, we're in for two days of, "Excuse me? Is anyone in the here?" --raps on the bathroom door twice-- "I haven't showered or peed all weekend."


Right. But, hey! That's what Summer's all about, right? Visiting family, having family visit you. Going cool places like water parks (not for me, mind, because I'll burn within 10 minutes), hiking trails (a little better with the shade and all), or simply hanging out at home in the backyard. Grilling burgers, shelling crawfish, slicing watermelon, and watching the kids run out all that sugary cereal they've been eating by chasing the dogs and/or playing volleyball.

Good times. Good conversation. Catching up on each other's lives. Tell me, what do you enjoy the most about the summer months?


Peace, Love, and Junior Mints,

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Friday, June 17, 2011

Y is for...


YA

That's Young Adult, for those unfamiliar with the different writing genres. Although really, YA is not an actual genre; more like a category, a section on the shelf. But that's an argument all in itself. Genre, to me, means the suborder in which the novel/story falls: historical, paranormal, science fiction, contemporary, etc. For instance, my WIP is a young adult steampunk.

All right, enough with the analyzing. Why do I love YA? Because in most cases the emotion runs so much deeper. How can it not? We're dealing with teenagers (usually) or characters close to their teen years. They cry, laugh, love, and get all angsty and emo in between. And what kind of story does that give us? One full of conflict. An emotional roller coaster. It's great fun, adventurous. Throws your feelings to the very edge of insanity, makes 'em teeter for a solid chapter or two, then yanks 'em back for another round of stop-and-go. Tiring? At times, yes. But shouldn't every story reach out and grab you like that? I certainly think so.

If you're a YA lover like me, what books are your favorites? What authors? And why?

Here are a few--and only a few, because to list all of 'em would take a while--favorites I've purchased and read over the past several weeks, all of which I enjoyed for the same reason: The stories were/are simply too memorable to ever forget.

The Hunger Games Trilogy
by Suzanne Collins

Falling Under
by Gwen Hayes

Ethereal
by Addison Moore

13 Reasons Why
by Jay Asher

Clockwork Angel
by Cassandra Clare

The Iron Duke
by Meljean Brook

Peace, Love, Junior Mints, and Happy Reading,

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