Making for another Ideal Interview: Yours

While on the subject of interviews, I thought a quick post on writing our own personal ones might prove of benefit.  As mentioned, I’m working on my Smashwords interview, but I’m hoping to do a blog tour once “Forever Poi” is completed, so I’ll need at least one [different one] for that.

It’s rather fun putting one together, though it can be a bit challenging, because you have to think of some good, attention-grabbing questions (and answers).  You want to:

  • prompt people to read the interview
  • garner interest in the book / the author (you)
  • generate sales. WPdollarsign1

Basic areas to cover: the book, plot, characters . . . you.  When you’re conducting author interviews, you’re selling them, making them come across as distinctive/outstanding writers.  You want to accomplish the same re yourself, but you might want to appear more humble if you’re posting on your own site and distribution platform(s).  Avoid coming across as arrogant or big-headed.  Do sound excited (attract interest), proud of your accomplishment (modestly so), and detailed enough to evoke curiosity (have the reader/listener want to learn more).

Definitely focus on the book, but offer additional insight.  Maybe you have a humorous or life-changing anecdote to share?  Perhaps you can provide networking/outreach input?  Give thought to what might make your personal interview stand out from others.

An interview can be a powerful tool; it provides exposure.  Use it to your advantage.  In addition to posting it on your site and distribution platform(s), why not ask fellow bloggers or writers if they might be interested in putting your interview on their sites?  Maybe you can exchange interviews and/or promotional posts?  Writing communities tend to be quite supportive, so don’t be shy.

WPfunandfresh2If you’ve never done a blog tour for your book and are planning one, you’ll likely be asked to write your own interview.  Make sure it differs from the one you have on your site and platform(s).  Don’t rehash: be fresh and fun.  Fuel fascination by providing the “ideal” interview.

 

Making for an Ideal Interview

Putting together my own personal Smashwords interview, so it seemed a perfect post subject.

Maybe you’ve been giving thought to conducting author interviews, but have never done one and are wondering what’s what, where to start?

Why not begin with interviewing new authors?  Of course there’s nothing to stop you from approaching known names.  Be aware, though: with an established writer you’ll likely have to go through a publicist, publisher, or agent.  As the saying goes, though, the world is your/our oyster, so have at it: approach whomever you’re feeling passionate about.

How you conduct an interview is entirely up to you—do a standard blog or website interview, go for a podcast, or create an audio interview.  Work with the medium that [best] speaks to you.

Don’t send requests willy-nilly.  Become familiar with the author’s work.  Research.  Check out his/her blog and website.  Follow.  Know what’s happening by doing that due diligence.  Show the author you know your stuff.

Once you’ve connected, always be professional.  Include a list of questions when you submit a request for an interview.  As in anything, it’s nice to be prepared—for those on both sides of the fence.  Try to think of fresh/fun questions, ones that haven’t been asked 105 times.  Yes, you’d definitely want to inquire about their book, but see if you can do so from new angles.  If you’re stumped for questions, Google; there are hundreds of interview questions out there.  Play around with them.  Put a spin on them: yours.

How many questions should you ask?  It’s said seven to ten is a good number, with three intensive ones related specifically to the book.  Prompt detailed answers.

Once an author has agreed to an interview, ask him/her when it’s best to post it.  Maybe he/she has a time frame in mind re a book launch or promotion.  Announce on your blog/website and social media when that interview will be posted (and thank the author again, of course).

Speaking of the author’s featured book, it’s a good thing to have read it before the interview.  Sometimes, however, time is not our friend, so soak up everything you can about it on-line, including the press release if there happens to be one.

Don’t forget to include a photo of the author.  A tour banner and book cover are also good.  Take a gander at book-tour blogs to get an idea of how you might like your own to look.  Get creative/artsy, but not crazy (your site and interview should be attractive and readable).

Remembering that interviews—in a nutshell—are about sharing authors’ experiences and advice, current and/or future projects, and tours, ensure questions are relevant (though there’s no reason to ask the odd unrelated question).  On that note, here are 25 [thought-provoking] questions; do with them what you will.  WP2nd

⇒ What are common traps for aspiring writers?

⇒ How do other authors help you improve your craft?

⇒ Do you belong to any writers’ communities or groups?

⇒ When was the first time you realized you were destined to be a writer?

⇒ How did your first book transform your writing process?

⇒ It’s said writers have muses: tell us about yours.

⇒ Describe your writing style.

⇒ What’s the easiest part of writing?

⇒ Do you outline a plot beforehand or do you just “go with the flow” and let the idea take you where it may?

⇒ What sort of research and prep work do you do for your books?

⇒ What do you believe it takes to become a bestselling author?

⇒ What do you consider quintessential literary success?  Are you pleased with your success?

⇒ What are the best marketing / promotional practices for a book?

⇒ What did you edit from this current novel?

⇒ Which scene proved the most challenging to write?

⇒ Which characters did you like and hate the most?

⇒ Do you choose character names randomly?  Or do you select each carefully and, if so, how?  What’s your process?

⇒ If you weren’t a writer, what would you be and why?

⇒ How long, on average, does it take you to complete a novel—from first draft to final edit?

⇒ Have you ever thrown out any manuscripts?

⇒ If any of your books were to be adapted into a movie, which one would it be?

⇒ Which book of yours might you be tempted to rewrite?

⇒ What genres to you like reading?  Why?

⇒ If you were to opt for a new genre, which one would you go for?

⇒ What’s your next project and when might we see it?

The Quintessential Query

Ever think about trying the traditional publisher route?  I did, many years ago, before e-books became popular.  It was hard to break into the publishing world back then, given the limited number of books that were printed, never mind nowadays.  But that doesn’t mean it can’t happen.

I’m thinking of giving it another try; hence, this post.  If you’re considering it, go for it, and don’t be discouraged or overwhelmed if there are no responses or—drat it all—rejection letters arrive.  They’re a blow to the ego, to say the least.  But take solace in the fact that this has happened to the best.  Many of the greats received rejections: DH Lawrence, Herman Melville, Stephen King, Tim Burton, Ayn Rand, to name but a few.  So, again, don’t be discouraged.  Make Perseverance and Patience your middle names.

A polished, winning query letter takes time and effort: think of it as a sales pitch or a promotional tool.  You’re selling you.  Entice the publisher—to want to read the entire letter and the manuscript.

Do that due diligence.  Determine which publishers you want to approach.  Make certain they represent the genre you’re writing.  Also confirm that they’re bona-fide publishers.  You shouldn’t be paying them to get published, right?  Right.

Grab the publisher’s attention immediately.  Ensure the salutation incorporates his/her name.  If you’ve published before, state this right away.  If not, then—if doable—mention that you’ve met him/her before or that someone’s referred you.  And, if neither of these are possible, then pitch your pitch.  Always include the genre, word count, and target audience. WPbutton2

When pitching your pitch, describe what makes your book unique.  Remember: there are hundreds of writers out there sending similar queries, so you need to stand out.

Give a quick rundown re the plot, main characters, and conflict/tension.  Provide a super-condensed summary (as in one paragraph).  Have a more detailed synopsis on hand, too; you may need it later.

Do you have writing credentials, awards, or reviews?  Provide them.  Or maybe you’re a blogger?  Note this.  What about a huge social media base?  By all means, mention it.

Some quick general tips re your letter:

  • personalize (it shouldn’t sound like a form letter)
  • keep it fairly short, maybe 400 words or so (four to five paragraphs)
  • make sure it adheres to the publisher’s submission guidelines (some may also request a promo plan or an in-depth synopsis)
  • ensure the letter looks neat (the font isn’t fancy or overly small, the wording isn’t excessive/redundant, and there’s ample white-space).

Lastly, proofread and revise as necessary.

Always bear in mind, there’s tons of information on the Internet; use it to your advantage.

As an FYI, here’s a query letter for “Caper”, written before I went for another major rewrite or decided to try e-booking (hey, a new verb).  Is it the quintessential query letter?  Probably not, but as Rey might say: it ain’t bad.

WPquerylettercaper

Dear XXXXXX,

 Welcome to a Wacky Week at the Mysterious Moone Mansion

A reputedly haunted mansion in Connecticut marks the setting for a week-long collect-your-inheritance gathering of weird and wired guests.  The events, comic and dark, are told through the eyes of Jill Jocasta Fonne, a Wilmington-based weather announcer.

“The Connecticut Corpse Caper”, approximately 84,500 words, is an ode to the B&W mysteries of the 30s and 40s.  Murder and mayhem and madcap moments reign as seven people of different backgrounds spend a week in the Moone mansion to receive a share of the inheritance per eccentric Mathilda Moone’s will stipulation.  Two-hundred thousand dollars will be awarded to each person.  If someone leaves, for whatever reason, his or her share will be divided among those remaining.

Curious, out-of-the-norm characters in “Caper” contribute to the humor and absurdity.  It also has an ending that could lend itself to a sequel (and does—I’m in the midst of outlining one).

The audience?  Readers who enjoy the antics of Stephanie Plum and Kinsey Malone, those who like fun protagonists and a bit of dark or campy humor.

In terms of my background, I work as a freelance editor and writer.  In addition to writing weekly posts for my blog (www.XXXXXX) I have started working on a script version of “The Connecticut Corpse Caper”.  As an FYI, in addition to a varied and extensive writing-editing background, I also spent several years as a technical-writing trainer in the aerospace realm.

Recognizing how many queries you receive daily, Mr./Ms. XXXXXX, I’d like to thank you for your time and consideration.  Per your guidelines, attached are the first three chapters and a one-page synopsis.

Sincerely yours,

XXXXXXX

Being Prepared is Everything

The Boss is caught up in a project and Linda and JJ are in court today to serve as witnesses for a former client.  So today, you’ve got me—Rey—on post patrol.

I thought I’d do something a little different—nothing to do with writing or editing, because that’s not my thing.  Something tweaked my interest more than usual this week: hurricanes.  There’s a nasty one brewing in the Atlantic and one dancing in the nearby distance.

The only hurricanes I’ve experienced are ones on screen and those that were backdrop in two films I appeared in.  They’re as awesome as they’re frightening and dangerous.  The first time I heard we might be hit here on Oahu, I got super stoked.  I’d always wanted to experience one.  Linda thinks I’m nuts and JJ just gives me “looks” (a few years back, her sister got swept out to sea by one).

Being curious (and a damn good P.I.), I put my researcher cap on.  It turns out that it’s pretty rare to get a Category 5 hurricane here, though they do tend to be rare, period.  That said, given the Hawaiian Islands are pretty small . . . teeny targets sitting on this ginormous ocean . . . they’re easy to miss or swing by.  Apparently, a solid sub-tropical high-pressure system in the north also helps push storms elsewhere.

In case you’re not sure what the difference is (I wasn’t): a hurricane watch means there are 48 hours to get ready (as in p-r-e-p-a-r-e) while a hurricane warning means the weather’s likely to become dangerous within 36 hours.

Some basic FYIs . . .

If you’re visiting these amazing Islands and staying in a hotel, there’ll be a hurricane/storm plan in place.  Learn what’s expected.  If one happens along while you’re here, call the airlines before heading to the airport: you don’t want to be stuck there hours on end.  And don’t go into the water (!) even if you see surfers having the time of their lives.  They’re a passionate (if not obsessed) bunch; they love those high, swelling waves. WPsurfersinhawaii

If you live on the Islands, stay informed.  If you’re on a coastline, near a stream/river, or on a flood plain, it’s best to leave.  If you’re in a solid house/building that’s not situated near a coastline or rainfall flooding, you can give thought to staying.  Here’s a good question to ask yourself, though: if you stay, could you do so safely?

To prepare, make sure you (among other things):

  • secure heavy outdoor objects (like lawn tables and chairs, pots, bins and cans)
  • see that your vehicle has a full tank of fuel (and set extra fuel aside)
  • have items (like boards, lumber, and shutters) on hand to board windows and doors
  • make sure there’s lots of food and water on hand (it’s suggested two weeks of water or 14 gallons per person)
  • invest in a small cooler—with cooling packs—to house refrigerated items
  • have lots of batteries on the ready (for flashlights, radios, Coleman stoves, cell-phone charger, lanterns)
  • make certain to have a full/proper first-aid kit and an emergency survival kit on hand
  • consider keeping cash handy (credit and bank cards won’t be of much use if there’s a blackout / electrical outage). WPHurricanestuff

Things to do when a hurricane is near:

  • Listen to Civil Defense.  Leave if instructed to.
  • Make sure to board up those windows and doors (and batten down anything outside that might be blown or swept away).
  • Stay clear of areas where storm-surge flooding can occur.
  • Evacuate sooner than later, if that’s on the agenda.  Note that shelters don’t take pets, so leave lots of food and water.  (I can’t imagine leaving Bonzo behind, but do what you have to, I guess.)
  • Share plans with someone “just in case”.

When it arrives:

  • Stay clear of windows and doors (and keep them closed, blocked and braced).
  • Tuck yourself in a small room or closet.
  • Lie on the floor under a table or a mattress.

If the eye of a hurricane is passing over and it’s calm for a spell, stay inside (it’s temporary, so don’t be fooled).  And be aware that it could take several hours for the storm to pass.

You truly do learn something new every day, like being prepared is everything.  On that note . . . I’m off to Walmart to stock up on supplies (coz ya just never know).

Stay safe! WPstormafterRey

 

Coming . . . Soon?

You’ve seen them—those signs advising that a restaurant or retail store is, yup, opening soon.  In fact, you’ve seen them day after day, week after week, and month after month.  Sometimes, yup, even year after year.

I can now totally relate to that.  It seems as if “Forever Poi” has been “forever coming soon”.   <LMAO>

There are times when I want to smack my head into a brick wall.  Never, ever, has it taken me this long to get a project completed.  Never, ever, have I “lollygagged” (what a great word) when it comes to my passion of writing. WPCrazyFaceC

Okay, okay, it’s not that I’ve truly been lollygagging.  It’s that I’ve been finding it difficult to find [sufficient] time to work on my labor-of-love, a fact I’ve shared, ad nauseam.  Another reason to smack my head.  Maybe the action will put a stop to that sense of madness, the kind you experience when too many disruptions/diversions distract from the ability to get something urgent, significant, or special done.

But, as they say, everything in its own sweet time.  So what if my e-book is behind a year?  It’ll get there.  So what if my blog isn’t where I want it to be?  It’ll get there.  So what if I’ve not been able to network, promote or market as I’d like to (dream of)?  It’ll [all] get there.

Patience, as they also say, is a virtue.  I readily acknowledge, however, that I am not very virtuous (though it genuinely is at the top of the personal-development plan).  <LOL>

I’ve returned to to-do lists.  Small ones.  Workable ones.  This week’s list encompasses:

  • researching formatters / cover designers
  • writing an interview (maybe two)
  • doing another installment of “Odd Woman Out”
  • continuing with Facebook Triple Threat Investigation Agency posts
  • learning something new, even if only a valuable tidbit (as opposed to a Timbit, which is a good [and very yummy] thing, too).

<LOL>   You know, I should indulge in copious amounts of caffeine more often: this post has been a breeze to pen.  It’s amazing how jazzed you feel, as if you truly can truly do anything.

Here’s to always opening sooner than later, my friends.

. . . Now, where’d I put that can of Red Bull?

 

When I’m Calling You-ou-ou

Not gonna happen.  <ROTFL>

Today, an aside from the regular writing/editing or Triple Threat Investigation Agency post.  . . . Or, could be, I just want to avoid thinking about—and disclosing—all the things that need doing re “Forever Poi”.  Like getting it done.

Confession: I can’t stand talking on the phone.  I will avoid answering the blasted thing, tell it to go away, curse it, tuck it in a drawer when not at work (and sometimes even then), and fire off damaging laser beams at it with a wrathful gaze.

I make promises to call people, and at the time I make the pledge, I truly do mean (and expect) to do so.  Then, something—chores, Mom, email perusal, a newly realized task—throws a wrench in the works, er, promise, er . . . .

Fact: it’s not that I don’t want to talk to people, it’s that I don’t want to talk.  Period.  I’m simply not a chatterer.  Or maybe it’s that I feel I don’t have anything interesting to share.  And it’s not that I don’t want to hear all the wonderful things everyone’s up to, it’s that I . . . simply put . . . hate the phone.

Must be the writer in me.  I’d rather type a 100 emails than spend two minutes on the blower, as they used to call it.  In an email, you can create a mood, edit repeatedly before replying, get creative/fancy or keep it simple, state that all’s hunky-dory even if it’s not.  On the phone, voice and tone betray disposition and attitude unless, of course, one’s a stellar actor.

Why am I revealing this little quirk?  Guilt, I guess.  I was supposed to phone someone Saturday, but come the agreed-to time, I simply couldn’t get my fingers to comply, but then, there was some vacuuming that was crying out to be done.   (Honestly, I think visiting a dental surgeon would be easier, if not more enjoyable.)

Funny, huh?  I suppose we all have our idiosyncrasies.  <LOL>

On that note, my friends, feel free to email or message me as often as you like.  I’ll [very] happily reply.

Starting from Scratch

It sucks when you lose someone you’ve come to like/depend on for your e-books.  Okay, I haven’t exactly lost her; she’s just MIA (or totally ignoring me), which I suppose amounts to one and the same: loss.

Time is already tough to juggle for this non-juggler (can you hear those balls dropping?).  It’ll be a daunting task to locate a new resource. WPSatPoss

Sigh, sigh, sighhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.  Okay, self-pity moment over.  <LOL>  Pulling up socks, lacing up [army] boots.

The positive side: yes, I do have to start from scratch, but I’ll also relearn everything . . . recall all that’s been forgotten over the year-and-a-half since attempting to get “Forever Poi” completed.  Once I get over the “trepidation factor”, it’ll all prove a positive and insightful experience.

On that note, I’m returning to the beginning of the end: formatting an e-book that’s ready for publication.

There are quite a number of sites that will do this for free.  Free is nice.  Who doesn’t like f-r-e-e?  That said, though, I’m not sure I’m ready (or willing) to go it alone.  I’d prefer to have someone hold my hand, so to speak.  But please don’t let my lack of confidence hold you back from taking the free route.

Some things to note if this is your first e-publishing adventure.  E-books will look different on different devices; as such, text has to meet certain e-book formatting requirements (to ensure the document is neat and readable).  Some e-book publishers will request you stick to a specific format.  You may want to avoid getting super fancy and providing too much “pizzazz” (like a sundry of fancy fonts).  Keep it [fairly] simple.

You’d be best to start with a Word document/file which, of course, you’ve previously formatted for formatting.  <LOL>  You can use an epub, too, but they aren’t as easy to work with; changes are harder to make (this I can attest to).  Formatting is fairly simple, if all goes right—fortunately, there’s a ton of info out there that will guide you from one step to the next.

PDF or epub are the options for formatting your e-book.  The former is said to work best with complex, image-heavy e-books while the latter is perfect for simpler ones.  But do  check what e-publishers want/require (Kindle will have different “rules” from Smashwords, for example).

Visit various sites to see which free formatting folks you’d like to go with, or find a professional formatter.  They’re not that expensive.  (I initially found mine through Smashwords and she was great, so I may return there before checking out other sites.)

Next task after formatting: cover and back designs.  Unless you’re skilled or adventurous enough to do it yourself (I’m not) . . . or fellow writers recommend someone reputable (anyone have one?). . . do that due diligence.  You don’t want to end up paying an exorbitant fee, unless you’re Rockefeller rich, of course.  (Me, I’m going to pull out Piggy and start counting pennies.)

Given “Forever Poi” is approximately two-three weeks away from final completion, I’d better get those scuttling ducks [back] in a row.

WPDucksinaRow1

Characters, Caricatures, Clowns

The trio from the Triple Threat Investigation Agency series—JJ, Rey, and Linda—possess distinctive personalities.  They’re not caricatures nor are they clowns, though some of the situations the three gals find themselves in do lean toward the clownish . . . and Rey, hammy actress that she is, can certainly play the comic or comedian.

In a post early last year, I touched upon character sketches/summaries—i.e. recording traits, appearances, dislikes and likes, family history, and so forth.  Besides helping make characters come alive and providing depth, you’re enabling consistency (particularly if you’re doing a series). WPlogo1

There are a dozen pages for JJ, Rey and Linda, which I wouldn’t dream of cutting and pasting here (the snooze factor and all that).  Because characters can and should change over time, I’ll stick to the most current notes (for Forever Poi).  It’s just a taste—a condensation—of components you might like to include in your own character summaries.

JJ (Jill Jocasta Fonne):

Appearance

  • below shoulders, chocolate-brown hair with honey highlights
  • heart-shaped face
  • loon-black eyes
  • fit
  • average weight
  • 5’7”
  • tattoo at base of spine (turtle)

Miscellaneous details

  • has a deep, sexy voice
  • jogs along canal and boardwalk daily; does elliptical and bike
  • can’t sing to save her life; sounds like a frog that has barely been missed being run over by a truck
  • not a great swimmer
  • bitchy when sleep deprived

Likes & Dislikes

  • enjoys eating saimin
  • prefers poi as soft ice-cream or in mooncakes
  • 2 favorite colors: seashell pink and sea blue
  • loves animals, particularly tortoises

Family

  • mother: Janis Joy Fonne opened a wellness B&B in Wilmington after moving there from Dallas when JJ young
  • nephew: Quincy has lived with JJ’s mom since JJ’s sister, Reena Jean, was yanked into ocean during hurricane
  • father: JJ never knew him (mother never provided name or details)
  • aunts/uncles/cousins: (there are several and all are detailed in full notes)
  • childhood: (certain events are listed in full notes)

Expressions

  • in Caper: f’ing, damn, frig, pooh
  • in Poi: same, but dropped pooh for dang (Linda’s favorite word) . . . .

Rey (Reynalda Fonne-Werde):

Appearance

  • shoulder-length wheat-colored hair with sunshine-yellow streaks
  • once pigeon-gray eyes are now grass-green
  • Hollywood nose
  • slim; lanky
  • Clara-Bow lips
  • 5’10”
  • tattoo on lower back, over derriere (rainbow)

Miscellaneous details

  • can sing up a storm
  • can eat everything and anything without gaining a pound
  • part-time actress
  • not a great swimmer (like JJ)
  • melodramatic, high-strung; can be a diva

Likes & Dislikes

  • loves pizza
  • prefers poi as taro chips
  • likes rye and ginger
  • enjoys adventure

Family

  • mother: Rowena Jaye had prickly relationship with daughter Rey; she didn’t like having her daughter pursue acting career when young
  • father: didn’t know much about him; he was an actor who died during filming
  • aunts/uncles/cousins: (there are several and all are detailed in full notes)
  • childhood: (certain events are listed in full notes)

Expressions

  • in Caper: f**k, man, hey, Gawd
  • in Poi: f’g, dude . . . .

Linda Royale (born Smith):

Appearance

  • shoulder-length, layered raspberry-red hair
  • latte-colored eyes; almond-shaped
  • narrow forehead
  • slightly exotic cast
  • unusual button-shaped lips
  • 5’5”
  • tattoo on left hip (butterfly)

Miscellaneous details

  • writes food and wine articles for website/blog
  • has become more health-conscious since Caper
  • runs and lifts weights regularly
  • studies part-time now and again; explores new things

Likes & Dislikes

  • loves poi
  • likes learning
  • enjoys writing and cooking
  • likes local music

Family

  • mother: Theresa Smith died during squally weather when Linda very young
  • father: didn’t know anything about him
  • sister and brother: Linda didn’t spend much time with her estranged siblings in past

Expressions

  • in Caper: dang, crap, hey
  • in Poi: same . . . .

There you have it—brief examples of what makes each of the TTIA characters unique.

Other components worth including are significant life- or personality- changing events, pets, lovers/partners, habits, eccentricities . . . everything and anything.  

Happy developing.

WPgalsuse

Captivating Characters

Given my recent “visit” with Nancy Drew, I thought I’d touch upon what makes for robust/vibrant characters—those that are memorable and distinct, those that get readers reading and wanting more.

Here are five all-time favorite books/stories (not in order) that—in addition to delivering engaging plots and storylines—feature strong, captivating characters:

  • To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee)
  • The Fountainhead (Ayn Rand)
  • Something Wicked this Way Comes (Ray Bradbury)
  • Macbeth (Shakespeare) WPSat1
  • Wuthering Heights (Emily Brontë)

Mockingbird:  “Scout” Finch and brother “Jem” are the two young protagonists.  We follow the adventuresome siblings over the course of three years.  While engaging in childhood fun and fantasies, the twosome learn that their quaint sleepy town of Maycomb Alabama is anything but.  Racism runs rampant and what may prove seemingly innocent—or guilty, as the case may be—turns out to be illuminating, if not maturing.  Scout and Jem are believable characters with distinct personalities that take us back to childhood, convincingly reminding us that lessons learned (whether simple or tough) are part and parcel of growing up.

Fountainhead:  Protagonist Howard Roark has been said to be Rand’s notion of the “ideal man”.  Basically, he’s an idiosyncratic, strong-minded architect whose conception of early 20th-century architecture doesn’t align with the traditional views of peers and professionals.  Despite drawing criticism, he remains self-assured, even smug.  His conviction is admirable; he’ll stand up for his beliefs regardless of the upshots.  That tenacity and resilience make for an outstanding, unforgettable character.

Wicked:  Bradbury’s delightfully creepy tale revolves around young teenagers, Jim Nightshade and Will Halloway.  Doing what boys do best—having fun and getting into mischief—the duo discover a bizarre traveling carnival and the mysterious Mr. Dark.  The aptly named carnival leader possesses frightening powers and a struggle of good versus evil transpires.  Polar opposites, Will is calm and level-headed while Jim is brash and rash.  Although both have well-defined and notable personalities, Jim leans toward the more dynamic; curiosity and determination know no bounds.

 Macbeth:  Fiery Lady Macbeth presses hubby, ever-resolute Macbeth, to murder King Duncan.  Given the couple’s dark and evil natures, it’s hard to like them, but it’s equally hard to forget them.  We’re compelled to follow their exploits: to witness the mayhem they create and to what end, and the outcomes that ensue from selfish, vile deeds.

Wuthering:  Orphaned Heathcliff is brought to Wuthering Heights by Mr. Earnshaw.  Over the years, the brooding enigmatic character develops a solid relationship with Catherine, the daughter.  Unfortunately, she decides to marry his nemesis, Edgar, with “fateful” results.  Given Heathcliff’s upbringing—accepted into a wealthy family yet simultaneously “rejected”—we can’t help but feel for him.  He’s an odd man out, who fits the image of country squire, but doesn’t.  Intense yet vulnerable, Heathcliff remains etched in our minds long after we’ve put down the riveting Gothic-flavored novel.

In terms of contemporary authors, it’s no secret I’m a fan of Jonathan Kellerman and Janet Evanovich, particularly the former’s Alex Delaware series and the latter’s Stephanie Plum’s.

As a child psychologist, Alex assists the police—specifically, good friend LAPD detective Milo Sturgis—with challenging murder cases.  When working together, Alex and Milo make for a fine pair—as good friends and dedicated investigators.  Alex is focused and intelligent, and is committed to his work (sometimes at personal costs).  He has the odd flaw and he does err, which makes him human and likeable.  Small wonder the mysteries have remained so popular over the years.

Bounty hunter Stephanie gets involved in some outlandish incidents when attempting to capture her “bounty”.  Foil Lula is larger than life (in more ways than one) and together the women engage in bizarre [hysterical] escapades.  Both are strong-willed ladies and equally memorable.  While being a bounty hunter takes grit, Stephanie is also occasionally hesitant or fearful.  Who isn’t when confronted with a weapon-wielding crazy?  Lula has locomotive energy and may not always want to partake in a bounty hunt, but she’ll never let her fellow associate and friend down.  Sheer lunacy makes for extraordinary situations and continually tests these no-holds-barred protagonists.

So, in a nutshell, what makes for a notable, resilient character?  He or she is someone you:

  • find intriguing (intriguingly dark, mysterious, fun, zany, eerie, lovable, witty)
  • can resonate with / relate to
  • root for
  • understand (given motivation, goals, internal and external conflicts, need for reprisal, emotions, personality/traits)
  • want to see succeed (or possibly fail, given who the character is and what spurs him or her on).

As writers, we have to breathe life into our characters: make them unique, stand out, seem real.  We have to take them—and readers—on the ride of their lives . . . be it a smooth sail on a large lake or a rough ride down a turbulent waterway.

 

The Journey . . . Back

Hey there.  Okay, so I’m finally getting there re “Forever Poi”, which got me to thinking about my next post.  Should it be on marketing?  Promo plans?  Hopes and dreams re the fourth Triple Threat Investigation Agency book and the series?

All sound fine, and I can certainly put pen to paper—er, fingers to keyboard—for any one of them.  The question is: can I [truly] do any marketing or promotion, given what’s happening in my life right now?  Maybe.  If I could survive on two hours of sleep a day.  <LOL>

So, that got me to thinking some more (yeah, it did prove a little taxing on the ol’ gray matter) and that took me back to where it all began—i.e. what got me started loving and writing mysteries.  Nancy Drew.

Remember her?  She was a young detective who resided in River Heights.  Well-to-do, she had a supportive father, who was also a lawyer, and a kindly housekeeper who provided motherly support.  Nancy solved mysteries around the globe with best friends, Bess and George.  The two were cousins, but polar opposites.  While Bess was timid and leaned toward pudgy (the way I remember), George was athletic and, as her name suggested, a tomboy.  Nancy’s beau was Ned Nickerson.  Let’s see if memory prevails.  Dave was Bess’ boyfriend and . . . right, Burt was George’s.

My first Nancy Drew mystery, which will always hold a very fond place in my heart was The Haunted Showboat.  I can still visualize the murky, marshy bayou, hear the birds in the twisting branches and creatures clambering in the foliage, and smell the molding wood and dense vegetation.  . . . What an awesome journey back in time this is turning out to be. NancyDrewuse1

I just took a gander re Showboat and learned it was the 35th book in the series.  Spunky Nancy first appeared in 1930 (who’d have guessed she dated back that far?).  As a bit of FYI trivia, publisher Edward Stratemeyer featured her in a series as a “counterpart” to the Hardy Boys (which I also read, but with less zeal).

Carolyn Keene wrote all the books, but the name was actually a pseudonym for several authors.  “She”, by the by, also penned the Dana Girls mystery series.  Oddly, I never really got into them, though I did regularly play the Dana Girls board game with a friend.  OMG—recall/flashback!  I’d forgotten all about those days.

Thank you, Nancy, for setting me on the path to writing mysteries.  I couldn’t have done it without you.  . . . And thank you, followers, for allowing me to travel back and share a period of my life that was genuinely enjoyable.

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