Firstly, thanks to Elle Druskin for asking me to join this blog hop of getting inside writer’s heads! A scary thought!
You can check out Elle’s web site at www.elledruskin.com
My first thought is… get inside my head – if you dare! There’s so much going on inside a writer’s head it has a tendency to be chaotic with lots of voices vying for attention. Those voices are characters who want their stories told. Others may think it’s time to bind me in a straight jacket!
To a non-writer the concept of characters wanting THEIR story told is weird in many ways. I mean who writes this story? The writer? Actually the answer for most of us is that it’s a combination of writer…and the character. These characters take on a life of their own, are bossy, Dominican, and even take over at times, leading the writer astray from their original idea.
In my latest release THE HIGHWAYMAN’S BRIDE as I began the story I had no notion of the hero having a son, let alone a dead wife. But all of a sudden this child and the story of the dead wife arrived on the page from my fingers. It was as if it was put there not by me but by the hero. In fact, it was perfect. So one wonders why I didn’t write that into the plot in the first place.
For me when I start a story I know the basic outline, their backstory etc, but it is only as I get deeper into the story do I really find out what’s going on in their heads.
But where do the ideas come from?
Most will tell you it comes from around us. I think many writers are real observers; we snoop into what is going on around us. A conversation, standing in a cue at the bank, seeing somebody that looks rather interesting. For example years ago I was in hospital and required to be on bed rest for a month – while staring out the hospital window I saw this cloud scooting past and all of a sudden I wondered what it would be like to be on that cloud. Maybe be an angel cloud hopping, and then what if that angel fell off the cloud and landed back on earth. From that, the novel, To Kiss an Angel was born, written and subsequently sold.
For The Highwayman’s Bride, I wondered what would drive a normally very obedient young woman to run away and take to the roads as a highwayman. In effect to abandon everything known to her. That sure would take some desperation.
For me, books can start with simply a character’s name, or even something as small as a title. Years ago I wanted to write a Christmas story. There was a competition on and it had to do with something about Santa. That ended up being Desperately Seeking Santa.
Okay, so you have an idea that you want to write a particular story. Where to from there?
For me, it’s where the hard work begins, and I must say I do like to be able to brainstorm with a friend. Often they will see things quite different from me and come up with an idea I hadn’t thought of. So I highly recommend brainstorming and also having a critique partner, who can read your work with a professional eye.
So you have the idea. Next step for me is jotting down notes about their backstory. What is it that makes them who they are? Their childhood, parents, siblings, job, values and morals, relationships with friends, lovers, wives, husbands etc. Everything that has gotten them to the point where my story starts. We humans are a combination of everything up until that moment and so too are our characters. Of course I must know their likes and dislikes. Fears, Flaws. Personal appearances. Some of this of course may not come out until you are actually writing, but you do need to know the general idea of it all. It is this depth of detail which will make your character real on the page.
Then of course it’s what is their story going to be about? Their goals. What is it that they want right now, so desperately that they’ll do something that is not their norm.
What is motivating that goal? To save themselves, someone else. The motivation too has to be so strong to force them to break out of their normal routine/life.
But of course no book is a satisfactory read without their conflict. And so I need to come up with a conflict both external and internal. And it is the internal that adds the depth to the story, the emotional journey. I must say that I do struggle at times with this. No one likes to hurt their characters. In Secrets and Seduction, my heroine valued her home over her head very highly, she’d led a bit of a gypsy childhood and so having somewhere stable for her and her daughter was paramount.
So I burnt the house down.
Now what for my dear heroine. She had nowhere to go, a child, mounting debts, and of course the man she’d been obliged to marry stepped in. That he reminded her of her ex (dead) husband was an added bonus to the conflict.
Currently I’m working on two romantic suspense. Writing these is a bit different from straight romance because of the suspense plot. So what you’ve got is a romance thread, a suspense thread and often another thread too. Again my characters changed during this process, the bad guy will get redeemed in the end, and the exciting thing about this is that it will lead to his own story!
Why do I write? Because the voices need to be let lose on the page. Because I love a good story – and it beats housework LOL!
Of course writing the first draft is probably the easy part, because then all the hard work begins. The editing, making sure you’re not head hopping (Point of view), redundant words and basically does the whole darn lot makes sense, and have you followed through on all the story threads.
Writing a novel is a journey for both the characters and the writer. The characters start out wanting ABC and realize that in fact they want/need something quite different in the end and what they thought they wanted isn’t as important after all, and for the writer, they start out writing the character’s story, believing they know it all, and realize in the end the characters knew a whole lot more than they did.
NEXT STOP ON THE BLOG HOP! http://www.shirleywine.com/blog/
I am a New Zealander born and bred….and after a lifetime spent on the land it’s not surprising that most of my books have that distinctive rural feel that readers love… Most of my stories are set in New Zealand, our south sea paradise in the antipodes. I’ve always written, freelancing for local and National newspapers, but Romance is my true love…and have been a reader of romance from the moment my sister introduced me to The English Women’s Weekly and their wonderful serialised romances…
I know the world is full of heroes as I have my own hero right here at home….my enduring loves are reading, my house is crowded with books on every subject imaginable. My other great hobby is gardening. Now, after a lifetime spent farming, I live with my husband in semi-retirement on the traditional Kiwi quarter acre section with a cat and two
Happy writing and reading.
Nancy and her writing partner, Patti Schenberger are with Entangled Publishing. Their recent release is The Lawman’s Agreement.
Thank you Nancy for giving us an insight into writing historical novels.
The biggest challenge in writing language for a particular historical time period is obviously accuracy. And, while it would be easy to rely on other novels from same genre, trusting the author’s expertise is a like copying your homework from the cute boy across the aisle. Are you sure he’s got the right answers? What if he didn’t study any more than you did?
There are a number of ways to double check accuracy when it comes to the last few centuries. While online resources, e.g., Wikipedia, are only as good as the information put in, they can be helpful in a number of other ways, especially if you go directly to the cited reference rather than relying on their interpretation. Never assume, just because it appears in the Oxford dictionary and was deemed a word in 1779, that it was actually used in Regency England in 1805.
Blogs devoted to specific time periods are often well-researched and the information included handed down through generations. One of the best Regency-era blogs is: http://janeaustensworld.wordpress.com/social-customs-and-the-regency-world/ which includes everything from social customs, to language, to dress, to daily living activities.
Researching language for an historical set in North America can also be a challenge depending on the setting. Language in 1860s Boston is not going to be the same as 1860s Nevada Territory. Fortunately, there’s been a great influx of archived newspaper articles made available to assist with language questions. And, as with the Regency era, there are a huge number of websites and blogs devoted to historical accuracy and information. One of our favorites is: http://www.legendsofamerica.com/we-slang-c.html. This site is devoted to mid-western and western slang and phrasing and … in many instances … is downright hilarious! In addition to the language information, there are also clothing styles, art, as well as vintage photos. It’s treasure-trove of information if you’re working on a western historical.
While doing research for our mid-western historical, The Lawman’s Agreement, set in 1868 Mississippi, we wanted to go back to post Civil-War (1858-1864) and one of the best online resources we found was the following site: http://members.wabash.net/~northclay/ncjhs/textbooks/AmericanJourney/PDF/docs/chap13.pdf
The biggest challenge we faced while working on the book revolved around our heroine, a physician and surgeon in a time where women doctors were not readily accepted. We researched female pioneers such as Elizabeth Blackwell, the first full accredited female physician. We also spent considerable time researching the medical procedures of the time including, our favorite, the treatment of the “suddenly, apparently dead” or, as we call it now, CPR.
As authors we have an obligation to our readers to not only entertain, but enlighten. To do that, we must strive for as accurate an account of actual events as we can. There are a number of wonderful authors out there who set out to write a romance and, over the course of their careers, have become experts in certain fields. It is that dedication and expertise that makes all of us, as readers, grateful for the effort they put into each and every book.
Post-Civil War Mississippi
U.S. Marshal, Zack McCade takes pride in protecting the good folks of Greenville—especially the beautiful Dr. Suzanne Martindale. He doesn’t always understand her need for independence, but he sure does like getting under her skin. It’s not like he’s looking to settle down—his job is too dangerous to risk taking a wife and family.
In an era when women aren’t readily accepted in the male dominated world of medicine, Suzanne doesn’t have time for courting—especially a charming Cajun rogue like Zack. When he proposes a fake betrothal to keep the matchmaking town out of their hair, she’s sure it’s a bad idea, but can’t deny her longing for a respite from the over-zealous bachelors in town.
Their ruse starts a fire in their hearts that neither expected, but will the re-emergence of Suzanne’s real fiancé douse the flames?
All buy links and an excerpt can be found at: http://www.entangledpublishing.com/the-lawmans-agreement/
Zack left the clinic and turned away from his office rather than toward it. He needed to walk off some of the tension holding his body as tightly wound as a pocket watch.
He should never have stolen that last kiss. The first two had been enough to appease their onlookers. The third had been strictly an indulgence for his own amusement, a silly flirtation intended to raise the doctor’s ire. Instead, his plan had backfired, and he’d found himself as aroused as a young schoolboy after his first deep kiss. It wouldn’t do, Zack realized, to walk into his office with a flagpole in his britches.
After a second pass behind the main buildings in the central part of town, Zack felt in control enough to go back to work. He’d barely reached for the handle on the office door, when the sound of a gunshot rang out from somewhere in the vicinity of the saloon.
He stepped off the sidewalk and into the main road, covering the distance between the jail and the saloon quickly, coming to a halt at the hitching post just as two men backed through the saloon doors, their faces covered in bandanas.
Zack drew his gun and a deep breath and asked, “You two gentlemen planning on going somewhere?”
The two men turned in Zack’s direction, their guns at the ready. “Let us go, Marshal, and nobody gets hurt,” the first one said.
“It’s two against one,” the second pointed out.
“Hmm, not such great odds, is it?” Zack agreed. “Perhaps, I can even things up a bit.” The words had no sooner left his mouth when he fired his gun, clipping the first man’s hand and knocking the gun he held to the side. “Now, it’s just us,” he said to the other.
The second man tossed his gun to the side as well and raised his hands in defeat. To his left, Zack caught sight of his deputies’ approach. “Tom, Pete,” Zack ordered. “Get these two scoundrels over to the jail and bandage up this fellow’s fingers.”
“Will do, boss,” Pete Bailey confirmed. “You want I should have the doc take a look at his hand.”
“No, not unless it’s a deeper scrape than it appears to be. He’ll do fine with your handiwork.”
Zack holstered his gun as his deputies started away with the prisoners. The second, larger man broke free of Tom’s hold and charged in Zack’s direction. Zack stuck out his fist, landing one solid blow against the man’s chest, sending him sprawling in the dirt, gasping for air and clutching his ribs.
“Come on,” the deputy said, pulling the man to his feet by the collar. “Let’s get going.”
Zack watched as the two men were led away without further incident. When he turned back toward the front of the saloon, he realized Suzanne was standing there, mostly likely alerted by the sound of the original gunshot.
“Was there anyone hurt in the saloon?” he asked.
“No, the robbers fired into the air in an attempt to scare the barkeep so he would hand over the money.”
“Since you’ve got your medical bag with you, I’ll take you over to the jail and you can check on both men.”
“Did you flatten the other one as well?” she asked.
“No. I shot him.”
Suzanne shook her head, the frown playing across her beautiful face causing him concern.
“Let’s go then, Marshal.” She started toward the jail, stopping long enough to say, “I’d really rather you not add to my workload any more than necessary.”
“It’s not like I do it on purpose,” he argued. When she didn’t respond, he caught up with her in two long strides. “It’s my job.”
“Yes, I know. And, because of your job, I now have to do mine.”
Zack was overcome with regret. Not that he would have done anything different where the two men were concerned. His regret stemmed from the fact he’d once again disappointed Suzanne, her reaction only serving to convince him of why they were unsuited for a real relationship.
Patti Shenberger Website: www.pattishenberger.com
Also…check in on me at Facebook daily, as there’s news coming of a Facebook Release party with giveaways.
Welcome to the blog hop for Gambling onf Love. I’m excited to bring you a debut Entangled Publishing (Scandalous) release.
Slaves, a river boat, a forced marriage, and a growing attraction for one another are just a soupcon of what will unfold in Gambling on Love, a debut Entangled novel for their Scandalous line for authors Patti Shenberger and Nancy Fraser.
While the book is their debut at Entangled Publishing, these ladies are truly seasoned authors. Patti recently signed her twenty-first romance contract. A wife, mother of two, mother-in-law of two and a pet mommy of two, this lady is busy, busy, busy – oh, and plus she’s about to become a granny!
The other half of this writing duo is Nancy Fraser. Nancy has been writing since she was a child, most often on walls and with crayons or (heaven forbid) permanent marker. (oh you bad girl!).
These ladies don’t live next door to each other, not even in the same town, not even in the same country, so how do you write a book with another woman who lives 1400miles away. (Gasp)
Who came up with the idea in the first instance?
Patti – Many years ago I came up with the idea for a book set in the era of the paddlewheel and on the Mississippi River. I think it was because I was enamored with the movie Maverick at the time (sigh, a young Mel Gibson). This book though was Nancy’s idea, and writing it was a way to sate our appetite for hunky men and the women who loved them. What it did instead was open up a can of worms in the form of 7 more books (hopefully) for readers to fall in love with.
Why write with another person?
Patti – Writing with another person gives you the chance to explore a dual-sided form of creativity. You can bounce ideas off each other, poo-poo other ideas and be gloriously thrilled when you start finishing each other’s sentences. Then you know you’ve got it right. Or you kill each other and move on (just kidding).
Nancy – truthfully she lives in fear of my Canadian penchant for duct tape. When she’s being bad and threatening to cut one of my scenes, I bring out the duct tape! Too bad I’m not close enough to actually use it.
How do you organize the writing of chapters?
Patti – Nancy created the outline and wrote this book. I did the editing for it. We bounced ideas and scenes back and forth to make sure we had them right.
Nancy – our individual writing styles are too different to try going back and forth within the same book. However, we have a wonderfully uncanny ability to be able to see what’s wrong with something the other has written.
Do you find that you both bring different strengths to your co-authored work?
Patti – We definitely do. Nancy loves to write the love scenes, whereas I’m more of a dialogue type person. I’d rather get inside the character’s head and make sure what they are saying makes sense, and stays true to the book. Nancy is more tactile. She likes to get touchy-feely with the characters and have them rolling around between the sheets (G).
Nancy – what can I say? I’m happily divorced and living vicariously through my characters!
What research did you have to do regarding the slave trade, and other aspects of the times? Was there any little snippet you found during research that tweaked your interest?
Patti: We actually both have books at home on the Civil War, the 1860’s and everything else we could get our hands on. But we didn’t touch too deeply on the slave trade. We’ve found that readers don’t want the facts given to them in a cut and dry fashion, nor do they want to be preached at. They want to read a book that divulges the information on timely basis, but doesn’t overwhelm the story. We hope we’ve done that in Gambling on Love.
Nancy – as much as I love historical detail – I believe its best kept in a reference book. I want the reader to know that “we” know what we’re talking about, but don’t want to ram it down their throats.
How do you then go ahead and write the novel? Does one say, I like this scene idea and would like to write it?
Patti – Nancy sent me the synopsis for this book and I read it over and made comments. She had areas she knew she didn’t want to compromise on (certain scenes, sentences, things she wanted to have happen in the book). Then she started writing. Each five chapters completed, she would send them over to me for reading, editing, comments/concerns. So far it’s worked perfectly.
Nancy – We’re trying the same “system” for the next book as well. As long as we can both stay on schedule, it takes about 5-6 weeks to write the entire book and get it off to the editor.
What do you think are the main strengths of your characters, and which strength do you like the most and why?
Nancy – Jake’s main character strength has to be his undying loyalty to his family and his compassion for Felicity and her many causes. Right from the beginning, when she admits she can’t pay him for the transport of her cargo, he chooses to continue north. Of the two main strengths, his loyalty brings out the best in him in every situation – as it does with all the McCade men and women.
Felicity’s main character strength is her tenacity. No matter what it took, she was going to see her father’s illegally held slaves freed. Unfortunately, she’s also a bit naive in thinking she can get away with it. Her character, more than any other so far, evolves completely over the course of the book which is her biggest asset.
Are you intending to write as a duo again – and if so, what?
Patti – Absolutely! We hope to have many, many books in the McCade Legacy out there. And if that doesn’t work, then we’ll create a new series for readers to fall in love with. As well as having a dual career together, Nancy and I also have a separate writing career.
Nancy – I think as writers we grow more, learn more when we work separately. I know there’s always something I can learn from a new experience and bring back to the table the next time we work together.
ENTER THE COMPETITION
Name the Hotel!
As part of a tour-wide giveaway the authors are offering one lucky winner the chance to not only name the hotel which will appear in the second McCade Legacy novel, but will also have their name used as a character in the book as well!
BUY THIS BOOK
Want to catch Patti and Nancy on their blog tour
Want to find Patti and Nancy
Patti Shenberger – www.pattishenberger.com
Facebook – www.facebook.com/AuthorPattiShenberger
Nancy Fraser – wwwnancyfraser.com.ca
Facebook – www.facebook.com/NancyFraserAuthor
Twitter – @nfraserauthor
Happy reading everyone
Well spring has surely sprung for you northern hemisphere readers, while down here autumn has arrived, though really we’re just having a long Indian summer… still in summer clothes often. Where I am which is in the country, we have water tanks and it was becoming rather dire there for a while as the tanks were virtually empty as we’d had no rain for many months.
That certainly has changed now!
What has also changed I think is our language. As a writer having to constantly search for just the right word I need for a sentence or to paint a word picture, I often wonder how words develop. For example, how did the word rain, become…well, rain.
But modern language, now that’s something we see changing all the time. Fifty years ago we didn’t have the word computer, nor text, nor mobile phone. When I think that my grandmother took a stagecoach in her youth and where we are now…well, that sure is some change.
The world has changed because of computers. We have a mouse that isn’t an animal, IT that doesn’t mean the word ‘it’, and download that doesn’t mean putting down something heavy. Then there is PC, HTML, DOC, RTF, spreadsheet that doesn’t mean your laying out a bed sheet. Everything seems abbreviated. . One wonders if it is because we don’t have time to say the words.
There’s – FB, twitter, google, google it. It’s a whole new language. I remember when computers first became part of our lives. Everyone said that now we would live in this paperless society, we’d have much more time.
Wrong! Remind me of that next time I do my filing!
Trying to teach my 89yo (see I’m even abbreviating year old!) mother how to use a computer. I remember telling her to move the mouse – the what? The language had become so natural to me, I had to stop and really think what I said and how I taught someone who was immersed in the 21st century yet.
Life seems to be one big rush –in fact I think we rush a whole lot more, so much so that we can’t even say worlds out fully and have to abbreviate things. And of course there is the instant need for info.
No longer do I go and find the phone book at home, but quickly look up a phone number on line. No longer do I wait to get home to phone someone, I just use my mobile phone. Nor do I go to the library to get out a book on a specific subject, I just Google it there and then and get the information instantly. We’ve become an impatient world, who rushes and can’t speak properly. We abbreviate our written language too. R U cmg hm 2mrw 2.
Are we so busy that we can’t write/spell properly? I hear that student are even using text speak in their exams.
Today I had to fill in a form – writing, not typing, and was surprised (note horrified) to realize that physical writing was not particularly comfortable – what is going to happen? Are we going to forget how to write words, form letters? How many of us remember those days in school where we had to progress from printing to script writing. Lordy I even remember learning shorthand and was able to do 100 words per minute – now shorthand could be actually recognized as the first form of text speak – and words per minute – became wpm, so maybe that gave us an inkling of what was to come.
Do students know how to address an envelope, write a letter, and sign the letter off correctly?
People may say why bother, it’s all going to be email now, but I do wonder if we give up these tiny things that eventually it all becomes one big loss in the end.
C U l8r – LOL
PS – another little excerpt for you
She’s hiding something.
Mac’s instinct kicked in, and he sucked in a low breath, letting the oxygen roll around his lungs and seep through his veins.
Just like you.
He pasted on his best smile and watched as the color drained from her face. All the while, her striking green eyes held him captive. They changed from light green and then replicated the shades of the forest as her mood darkened.
For more than a heartbeat, he couldn’t take his eyes off her. Curtis had called his wife cold and unforgiving, and yet all he could see was passion and emotion. A spitfire.
Leah Talbot-Grainger was a beautiful woman, with a tousle of curls that created an auburn halo falling to her shoulders and eyes that had the capacity to bewitch. When the tip of her tongue slid across her slightly parted mouth, Mac’s body heated. Her actions taunted him.
But there were no tears, only a desperate fear in eyes that shadowed secrets, and without realizing it, she confirmed everything Curtis had told him about her, strengthening his resolve to protect his niece at all costs.
As the elevator leveled off with the thirtieth floor, the doors opened in silence, and she shoved past him and retreated to the far wall.
Without saying a word, he placed a foot in the doorway, forcing them to remain open.
Frightened green eyes stared at him. “What are you doing?” she demanded.
“Making sure you understand.”
She wrapped her hands across her middle. He recognized her desperation. “Oh, I understand, all right, but you won’t win.”
“We’ll see about that.” He removed his foot and stepped back. “I’ll be in touch, Leah.”
The elevator doors slid closed, and for a moment, he simply stood there.