Monday, August 30, 2010

Character development

What makes characters so unforgettable? Quirks? Sense of humour? Their reactions to the situations they find themselves in? In a recent review, a reader hoped I would write a second book using the characters from In the Shadows of Angels. That could be a possibility, but what made that reader love those characters?
Why do readers love Twilight, or Harry Potter, or even Dan Brown's Professor Langdon? Why do I love Teresa Medeiros' heroes so much?

Because these characters are nothing more than human. No Peggy Sues.

Now, Lucius Benedict from In the Shadows of Angels is the laird of a very fine estate. He's also a very fine man. However, his insecurities are many. He has been accused of the murder of his estranged wife. But Luke can't remember if he killed her or not. His brother doesn't believe he is good enough to be laird. His mother in law dislikes him with unsurpassed passion. Even his horse betrays him! Poor Luke. The list goes on. However, these insecurities are what makes him human. Quirks? Oh yes! He lapses into strong Scottish brogue when things get too tough. He tempers his anxiety with sarcasm, and generally covers his confusion by being a big strong man. What man enjoys admitting confusion?

It's not easy keeping characters grounded, especially when writing fantasy or paranormal. All I can suggest is to draw from experiences with people. Not necessarily people you are close to, but strangers you meet every day. Remember the situations you face during the day, at work, at the supermarket, in the bank, even walking down the street. Disect the characters from your favourite movies and use the parts you need.

The best advice I ever read (or was told, I can't remember) is to make the characters your best friends. If you wouldn't mind being their friends, more than likely, the reader wouldn't either.

Sorry about the pics posted here. Gee, I had to post something, so why not gorgeous men?


Thursday, August 26, 2010

Five Reasons I Love Writers Conferences

1. Getting together with friends and other like minded types I usually only 'see' online. Rapid fire dialogue was the theme of the RWAs Sydney conference, held a couple of weeks ago.

2. International Guest Speakers. Debra Dixon, legendary author of Goal Motivation and Conflict, came all the way from the US to share her wisdom and inspire us with her positive attitude and motivational words. I missed the Friday session sadly :(, but Zoe and Letitia assures me it was excellent.

3. Fan Girl moments. I've had a Vicki Lewis Thompson Blaze novel sitting on my keeper shelf for ten years and I actually got her to sign it! How cool is that?

4. Anticipation. I think everyone is already eagerly awaiting next year's Melbourne event. Rumour has it Susan Wiggs and Bob Mayer will be among the fantastic speakers on offer. I'm already saving my pennies.

5. Well... everything else! The food, the view, the wine, the food (again), getting away from the kids for some 'me' time, the wine (again).

Can't wait for next year!


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

New Kid on the Block

To anyone who I have not meet yet Hi I'm Melita "The new kids on the block" and this is my first blog. As Sami said in her blog I am trying my hand at a Romance Novel not something I have ever done before as I am normally write paranormal / thriller stories and can write a fight scene much more easily then anything romantic. But I thought what the hell....... Yeah right that was easier said then done. I have spent most of today looking at a blank screen or surfing the web. Well hopefully next week I will be saying that the first chapter is finished.

Until till then


Sunday, August 22, 2010

Let me talk about turning 40

Okay, I'm heading for a milestone in my life. In a few weeks, I turn 40. Let me tell you that any glee I may portray at turning 40 is purely for show. No, I'm not thrilled. However, aging happens to the best of us, so I try to grin and bear the process.

Many, many, many, many (okay, maybe not so many manys), years ago, my best friend, Rachel, and I actually touched on the subject of getting old. We were 18 at the time, and 40 was a whole 50 lifetimes away as far as we were concerned. Now, I'm talking before computers, before CDs, before DVDs (we still used Beta I think), before XBox Live, before Wii, 25 000 000 years BC as far as my children are concerned. And from what I can remember (my mind isn't quite what it used to be), these are the three things we decided we'd be doing when we turned 40:

1)  still chasing 20 yo boys
2)  still sitting in the pub from open to close, stalking said 20 yo boys
3)  dead
I guess I should note that Rachel and I are doing none of the above, and thankfully, we are still alive. Even at 40.

Writing this has forced me to think of my achievements in the 22 years since that fateful day we convinced ourselves we'd be dead by 40. And, yes, I have lived 50 lifetimes since that day, as has Rachel. I have:

1)  survived
2)  married the man of my dreams
3)  given birth not once, but three times
4)  come to terms with the fact that I am expecting my first grandchild in October
5)  managed to entertain people with the books I have written
6)  laughed out loud until my sides hurt

I guess I've done more than a lot of other people. So...maybe turning 40 isn't quite as bad as I first thought.


Take care


Thursday, August 19, 2010

Better Late than Never - (Reflective Minutes from Meeting of 21st July)

Well I guess I could give you all kinds of excuses for not posting the minutes earlier, but I think the bottom line is, life got in the way. I kept meaning to, then I realised it was a month later. So, here I am, slinking online with shame and guilt to right the wrong. I figure I’ll feel better for doing them late, rather than if I never do them at all. All I can say is; I’m sorry ladies.

Ok, to business, (lucky I took some notes)

Firstly, Melita and Kiss sent their apologies for not attending; the dreaded winter flu got the better of them both. Zoe, Sami and I wished them well in their recovery (obviously because it’s four weeks later I can comment that they did get better).

We discussed the different eReaders that are making their way onto the Australian market, which is still very limited compared to the rest of the world. Sami just purchased the Sony Touch Edition (not available at retailers in Oz), so we got to look and play with it. Very niiiiice... (four weeks later both Zoe and I have one).

Discussions were held regarding the future of publishing and eBooks etc, etc. We aren’t happy with Amazon and their blatant attempt to monopolise this new and growing market. Putting pressure on small publishers and why, in most cases, do they charge more for an eBook than they do for mass market paperback? Much political debate and speculation was had with regards to the publishing industry’s future and the change eBooks represents for it. Well, until it all settles, I’ll just hope we haven’t all bought a beta video player instead of the VHS version.

RWA Conference was coming up (yeah, it’s been and gone now, so pretend I’m talk in July) Theme for the cocktail party is “Fantasy Island” - come as your favourite fantasy. At the meeting I was told not to minute what we decided to wear, so I won’t, though as it’s been and gone perhaps someone else could discuss that outcome? (I have photos btw)

Zoe and Sami were both set to pitch at the conference; I believe both an editor and an agent was available. Wishing them luck (which we now know they didn’t need, but luck again for next successful stage in the process to publication).

I tabled an article I read in “Writer’s Digest” magazine (May/June 2010 edition), “Romancing the Publishing Industry” Did you know in 2008, in US, romance fiction created an estimated $1.37 BILLION in revenue?!!! Well and truly outselling religion/inspirational, mystery, science fiction/fantasy and literary fiction. The article also covered some technical points regarding the romance genre and listed some publishers currently seeking romance writers. To summarise the article would be to do it injustice, but it’s well worth a read if you can get access to it.

Finally the topic which took us over our normal two hour meeting time; Me. I hogged Zoe and Sami for advice. I’ve reached a point in my writing where I feel I need “validation”, or rather I’ve reached a point where I need to improve and I don’t know how to get over that wall to the next level. Suggestions included QWC’s Year of the Novel, first day of which starts on the same days as the RWA conference, which ruled that out. Another idea was to entering competitions such as RWA’s STALI to get feedback and have a deadline. As I said, it was a long discussion, and a great help which gave me much to think about; thank you ladies. Let’s hope I learn to stop thinking and do. Which hopefully these minutes signal the start of.

Meeting News - 18 August

Well, the meeting was at my house this week and you know what that means. No agenda but plenty of jelly beans. Seriously, which would you prefer?

All we really did was discuss the biggest event of the month the RWA conference, which Zoe, Letitia and I attended with relish, might I say. Vicki Lewis Thompson talked about the difference between writing single title and category fiction, Zoe and Letitia were enthralled with Debra Dixon’s Goal, Motivation and Conflict day long session, and we all spent a lot of time gasbagging with other writers and generally laughing much too loudly (or was that just me?).

We had a debrief of our pitch sessions. Zoe and I are both madly polishing our partials to send a US agent, with fingers crossed (after the typing’s done this is).

We all decided Jake Gyllenhaal was a massive cutie, although no-one’s quite sure if we say his name with a hard or soft ‘G’. Oh, Jake won’t you write and let us know?

Kiss and Melita agreed they have the movie/book/video game taste of fifteen year old boys. Yes, we are all at least or nearly forty years old. Young at heart though. Young at heart.

Letitia, unfortunately, was unable to make it this week, as the dreaded cold caught up with her. Not surprising after the madcap weekend we had. Hope you improve in leaps and bounds L. We missed ya.

Next meeting will be at Kiss’s place on the 15th of September. Melita will be sending us out her first chapter of her latest (first ever) attempt at a straight romance novel for us to look at and critique, and the idea with this blog is that we’ll each be blogging a different day of the week. That means once a week for all of us so watch out.

We’re starting to sound like an actual writer’s group.