Stranded on a Desert Island – #MFRWAuthor Blog Challenge

You know the game… if you were stranded on a desert island, assuming things like food, water, shelter, and clothing (and for me air conditioning) were taken care of at the most basic level for survival, what item would you choose to bring with you. In other words, what item can you NOT live without.

This is probably going to shock you, but it would be my… COMPUTER!

Are you shocked? No? The various reason why might surprised you a bit, though. Even without internet, and assuming I’ll have a way to charge said computer (my island, my rules – HA!), there are so many facets of my computer that would help me on a desert island. I’ll start with the obvious…

Writing My Books

Having my computer means I could spend all that time with some manner of distraction writing my books. Not just because I need to write my books (which I do), but to also give me a purpose. I don’t sit idly well.

Kindle App w/ Books

I have a lot of books on that app which (I think) can be accessed without internet as long as they were downloaded first (which most are). Entertainment and friends come out of books for me. It’s the next best thing to real people. (Sometimes a good book is better than real people.)

Some Movies and Music

Seeing other faces and hearing voices (not in my head) would help with the whole sanity thing I think.

Journal My Experience

On the off chance I don’t survive, this would be a good way to let my family know what happened (assuming someone discovers the island). Plus, I’d sneak clues in there about my buried treasure.

Calendar

The calendar would help me keep track of the days and time.

Reflective Surface

To possible signal passing ships or planes with.

Pictures of My Family

This is the biggie. If they’re physically not with me, I’d want my computer with pictures of them. I couldn’t live without some access to my family. They would be my reason to keep going and survive.

 

What about you? What item could you not live without?

 


I am participating in MFRW’s 52-week blog challenge, and it’s a blog hop! If you want to see how other authors approach this topic, stroll on over to the other authors participating and find out how they deal with character profiles. Each author does it differently.

Best Gift Ever: Zombies & a Silver Bullet (#MFRWAuthor Blog Challenge)

I count myself lucky. I grew up in a family of gift givers and I married a very thoughtful giver. It’s made me appreciate putting thought into the gifts I give, tailoring a present to the person and their unique interests or something you share. We’ll get to gift giving next week. This week on the MFRW Blog Challenge, we’re talking about the best gift we’ve ever received.

I didn’t have to think hard about this one, because I know my favorite gift. You might think it would be my engagement ring (which I adore), or my first car (which was a surprise from my parents). Or perhaps a gift like the blanket with mine and my husband’s names embroidered on it that was a wedding gift, or the baby blankets a friend knitted my kids, or the wonderful memory book given to us by our bridesmaids and groomsmen at our wedding. While all of those are wonderful and mean so much to me, my favorite is a little…unusual.

 

To give a little context: My dad likes to give coins as special gifts now and then. He researches the artwork and history and quality and all the things you research about coins. He likes to give particularly beautiful coins. Usually.

Meanwhile, my dad loves to tease me about my slight obsession with planning for random catastrophic events. I plan for the strangest things. For example, when we were living in California, with all of our family still in Texas, I came up with a plan for “if the apocalypse happens how do we meet back up.” That’s right. Because I assumed things like phone lines and cell phones would be knocked out. A little bit nuts, I’m well aware. I also love all things zombie–The Walking Dead, Resident Evil, Pride & Prejudice & Zombies. Love them all.

For Christmas a few years ago, I received a gift from my dad. The card said “From Survivalist Santa” which cracked me up to begin with. Inside the bag I found a silver bullet (because werewolves), a regular coin, and a zombie version of that coin (the front on the left and the back is in the other picture).

To this day, this gift makes me smile because Dad both gets me and is teasing me at the same time. I should mention that I learned my paranoid planning from him. Lol.  I still have the bag and little note with all the items.

Thanks Dad! Love you. 🙂

What is your best gift ever?


I am participating in MFRW’s 52-week blog challenge, and it’s a blog hop! If you want to see how other authors approach this topic, stroll on over to the other authors participating and find out how they deal with character profiles. Each author does it differently.

My Favorite Social Media Platforms? – #MFRWAuthor Blog Challenge

Ummm…. Yeah. I can’t say that I have a favorite social media platform. It’s more like a tolerate/hate relationship with the ones I’m on, because I can’t say I love them, really. So instead of waxing poetic on one, I’ll give my Pros for each.

The Con on all of them is really the same–the potential time suck (if I let it be) and the politics. But let’s put that aside and look at the positives:

Facebook

This is where I get to see what’s gong on with all my friends. Not necessarily my all my readers, because, allegedly, Facebook is more for my generation so I may be missing the younger gen of readers. But I do love the chance to catch up with authors and readers alike. I work from home (so little to no human interaction) and I have family and friends spread all over the planet. This is a fantastic way to check in on them easily.

Twitter

I see the most interesting posts on Twitter, maybe because it’s less about the memes than Facebook? Also, maybe because I see all the accounts I care about (unlike Facebook that limits what I’m seeing). I’m a particular fan of Nerdist. In addition, I find my author friends who are more about Twitter have funny posts, and that keeps me entertained (Sarah M. Anderson, I’m looking at you).

Pinterest

Okay, now that I think about it this might be my favorite one, but not because I use it as a social thing. I use it as a research thing. I have boards for each series and pin all my research and images to those boards. Having those images is a huge help when I’m writing.

Blog

I actually do like blogging. Most of the time. It takes a lot of time, but I love that it’s a chronicle of sorts, keeping track of my writing life as it goes along. I also enjoy sharing knowledge with other writers.

 

Technically I’m on Instagram, but I can’t say I’ve gotten into the flow of using it. I should. I enjoy the images. I’m sure there are other forms of social media people will insist I should be using. But who has the time? I’m also trying to write a ton of books. I’ll wait until one of those gets to Facebook/Twitter level and then try it. I guess. I’m getting older, which means I’m less inclined to jump into change, so we’ll see. Lol.

What are your favorite social media outlets, and why?

 


I am participating in MFRW’s 52-week blog challenge, and it’s a blog hop! If you want to see how other authors approach this topic, stroll on over to the other authors participating and find out how they deal with character profiles. Each author does it differently.

Ummm… Isn’t It Supposed to Be “Happy” Mother’s Day?

It’s Mother’s Day today. Newsflash to everyone this snuck up on…better run to the grocery store for flowers and a card quick.

I’m a mom. Many of my readers and friends are mothers. So of course I planned to post just a quick, simple “Happy Mother’s Day” message on my social media. Usually this just involves a graphic and the words, but this year I thought I’d mix it up and include a fun or interesting article link. Right?

Wrong.

I did a search on Google for “Mother’s Day” and went to news, and what I found was not happy at all. Instead, I got a list of mostly depressing articles. On Mother’s Day. What does it say about our news outlets and our society in general that on a day that is supposed to be happy, these are the options about the topic in the news…

Don’t get me wrong. There are women who are hurting today who should absolutely be acknowledged and given love. And yes, this holiday comes around every single year (and okay, could be a boring one), so perhaps there’s not a ton to say about it that’s new. However, I honestly think this has more to do with our society and the bent toward negativity.

My mother was a high school English teacher. She talks about a writing exercise where she has her classes think of the best moments in their lives and the worst and write them out in a list. When writing their worst moments, the students could fill pages. When writing their best memories, they struggled to come up with even a handful. These news articles, I feel, are a reflection of that thing inside all of us that says why focus on the good when we could focus on the bad.

I’m not saying that there isn’t tragedy around days like today that needs to be included. It’s not that I want only positive stories, either. How about a good mix, though?

Out of the 15 articles on the first page of the search on a day which really should be about happy, 8 were depressing or negative in some way, 1 was about how Mom’s should celebrate like Dad’s instead (guess we were doing it wrong all this time), 2 were about the weather on Mother’s Day (because apparently there’s nothing else to say about today), 2 were about gifts, and 2 were actually positive (one of which was from Lancaster Farming rather than a national news outlet).

Only 13% positive news articles in my first page of search results (because I don’t count weather or advice on gifts as positive news). On Mother’s Day. Are you kidding me? I’m calling you out news media. Especially CNN, USA Today, and the Los Angeles Times (which had not 1 but 2 depressing articles up in the top 15 search results for the topic this morning).

I went to the home pages of those 3 publications, just HOPING something positive might show up about Mother’s Day. Here’s what I found.

CNN

Really? The best you could come up with was baby names? Do you have NOTHING positive to say about Mother’s Day?

USA Today

All you had on your home page was the below (uh, thanks?) and the article about someone spending the day away from his/her mother. (Which I did not read, sorry. Did it turn out to be positive?)

Los Angeles Times

Finally, one had something positive. Followed by the 2 negative-themed articles already mentioned. But still, some balance…

To say I’m disappointed is a gross understatement. I’m also less inclined to use those sources (especially CNN – jeez guys) for my news, because if you can’t find one good thing to say about today, of all days, I don’t need your negativity in my life.

And you made me rant…on Mother’s Day, only adding to the negativity. Dammit!

To bring some positivity to this, I was going to give a list of funny memes to all the moms out there. In an ironic twist, most of the memes in the lists I found are (gasp) sarcastic and not exactly positive.

Lol. I give up. Here are some of my favs (And no, I guess they’re not all hearts and flowers either. I’m only human after all.)…

 

Romance is Still Alive – #MFRWAuthor Blog Challenge

For all the romantic gestures I write into the world, romance to me sure as hell isn’t some prescribed holiday (ahem, Valentine’s Day). Or course, the best days ever are our wedding day and the days our children were born. But when I think of my most romantic memories, most of them are little things. A glance, a moment, being on the same page, doing things for each other.

So rather than touch on just one, I’ve made a top 10 List, counting down…

#10 – First Boyfriend

Ah, young love. My first official boyfriend (who lasted longer than a few days and went on actual dates) happened my freshman year of high school. That high of having the boy I was interest in be interested back only got better. We dressed up for the school Valentine’s dance. He gave me a silver bracelet (still have it) and my first kiss. I still smile when I pass by the spot where it happened. So sweet.

#9 – That Guy

My senior year of high school a boy I’d had a crush on years before (for a really, really, really long time), asked me out. We only dated a few months. But the romance of getting the ungettable get made me feel ah-maz-ing. He was a lot of fun, too.

#8 – Excited to See Me

I had a long term boyfriend in college (3 years – I think). There are lots of little moments in there, but the one that stands out the most is coming home from spring break in separate cars, he was a good 10 hours behind me. I went to bed thinking he wouldn’t get home until really late. I woke up to him running up the stairs to wake me up. He’d left early and hurried, just because he missed me for a few hours.

#7 – Flowers for My Table

Any time my husband does the grocery shopping, he buys flowers for our kitchen table. Just because he knows I like it.

 

 #6 – Stay

Shortly after my breakup with the college boyfriend, I dated a guy who went a long way toward making me feel human and desirable again. He was wonderful in so many ways. But my favorite was a night we were out with a bunch of mutual friends (including my ex). I was miserable and thinking of leaving when I get this text that says two words. “Don’t Go.”

#5 – Lots of Laughter

My husband and I make each other laugh. Admittedly, he’s better at it than I am because he’s funnier. But part of what I love about our romance is laughing with him. Every single day.

#4 – I Love You

My husband and I both broke up with each other once before finally figuring out we were meant to be (had a lot to do with timing). When he finally told me he loved me was the day he asked me back. He’d broken things off, and a month later asked me to meet him at Jason’s Deli. There he told me how much he missed me and that he’d fallen in love with me without even knowing. I knew that day that I’d marry that man.

#3 – Proposal

I thought he was going to break up with me. I had gone on vacation to Colorado with my family and we talked every night, but he kept having fewer and fewer things to say. He was picking me up at the airport and I thought, “He’s about to end it.” I turned the corner to find him standing there in a suit with a sign (like a limo driver) that said “Mrs. Owen?”. He proposed right there in the airport (and my man is not the public exhibition type).

#2 – To the Ends of the Earth

Of the two of us, I am the more prone to make snap decisions and do things like move. I had moved apartments something like 10 times in 5 years, during which time he’d bought and lived in the same house. People would tease me that I’d have to stay put now. Six months after we married, I got a job in another state. And that man not only supported me, he jumped on my crazy train. He did it again when I suddenly decided we needed to move home to Texas.

#1 – Pursuing a Dream

My husband is supporting this author dream of mine in every way he can. He could call it an unrealistic pursuit and (quite reasonably) request I go back to a steady job with a steady income. He could get frustrated with how my head is in the clouds 90% of the time. He could get irritated with how dishes take a back seat to getting the next scene on paper. But because he loves me, and believes in me, and supports my dreams, I get to pursue my dreams.

All my best romantic memories are thanks to my husband. Guess I’ll hang on to this one. Lol. And you’d better bet that some of these will (or already have) end up in my books. 🙂 What are in your top 10? I’d love to hear.

 


I am participating in MFRW’s 52-week blog challenge, and it’s a blog hop! If you want to see how other authors approach this topic, stroll on over to the other authors participating and find out how they deal with character profiles. Each author does it differently.

How I Create a Character #MFRWAuthor Blog Challenge

The character is the heart of the story in my writing world. I figure out the characters long before I figure out the plot. Maybe because memorable characters are what I look for in books, movies, and shows I love. Maybe because I feel like who a character is will determine how they react to the external and internal impacts going on in his/her life.

I’ll be honest, I don’t have a single, guaranteed, this-always-works method for determining a character. Sometimes they pop into my head fully formed. More often than not, they start out as a vague entity. I do, however, have several tricks I use to help me profile my character and turn them into something real.

Here are my top 4 methods for setting up my characters:

Character Archetype

I’m a romance writer, and my go to, kick things off tool for creating characters is the book The Complete Writer’s Guide to Heroes and Heroines: Sixteen Master Archetypes.  This book is fabulous because not only does it give several archetypes for heroes and heroines, but it also gives a how would one type of hero work with one type of heroine.

I don’t take these and just write my characters out. What I do is take bits and pieces that I think will work particularly well within my story. I also use it as inspiration. Ex. The librarian is quiet but will stand up to the boss when her intellect tells her to. How can I use that in my story?

Write the Blurb (GMC)

I will frequently write the blurb first. My blurbs always have one part for the hero and one for the heroine and essentially lay out the GMC (goal, motivation, conflict) in one paragraph for each.

The hero/heroine has a problem/need/opportunity resulting in a required action/mission/quest/job (goal) with obstacles that block his/her path (conflict) with something at stake (motivation).

(This sentence is pulled from a workshop with Larry Brooks – I highly recommend you take it!)

By having a simple sentence that breaks down the cornerstones of my characters, I can reference that throughout my writing to keep myself on track.

Character Verbs

Last year at RWA I took Damon Suede’s Power Couples workshop. If you get a chance, take it! The biggest element I use from that workshop is Damon’s use of verbs. To paraphrase… He assigns a powerful verb to a character. Then he uses variations/synonyms of that verb for each of their scenes. There’s also a way to make sure your H/H have verbs that help create conflict.

Picking a verb for my H/H is one of the first things I do. But seriously, take that workshop. I can’t tell you about it as well as Damon can. 🙂

Pick 1 Particular Thing

I use this technique any time I feel like a character is coming in flat–a main character or a secondary character. Even, sometimes, random characters. I try to think of one very unique thing about that character and I build a backstory around that unique thing. Slipping that 1 particular thing into the story ALWAYS ends up making that character come alive.

Unique things could be a multitude of elements. Usually I try to make it something observable by other characters. For example:

  • a tattoo
  • a scar
  • a particular word they use
  • a favorite song
  • something they don’t like
  • something they notice or are drawn to

I could keep going. Hopefully you  get the idea.

I used to just start writing and see how a character developed. Sometimes I still do that (you can only make a pantser plot so much). But These techniques have become so effective for me, that I find I’m addicted and have to do them every time. If you’ve read my books, can you pick out any of these in my characters? I’d love to see if my craft is showing. 😉

I am participating in MFRW’s 52-week blog challenge, and it’s a blog hop! If you want to see how other authors approach this topic, stroll on over to the other authors participating and find out how they deal with character profiles. Each author does it differently.

Coming Up with Ideas…

One question I get asked the most, especially by readers or folks who don’t write is–Won’t I run out of ideas? My answer is always, “NOPE!”

Honestly, the more I write, the more ideas I come up with. I blame it on my big imagination. Lol. I can just picture the entire world and I want to get all that cool stuff in there. Or I fall in love with side characters who were just supposed to be filler. Or something in the real world triggers an ah-ha moment that just needs to be on paper.

This even impacts current WIPs. I might be mid-story, and it’s all fleshed out with developed plot and characters and a new idea will spring up that I just HAVE to incorporate. I will spend hours (not all at once) sitting and staring at my computer letting my mind go down the “what if” train of thoughts and how those would impact the story down the line.

But I thought I’d share a bit of how the process actually works. Let’s do a hypothetical for instance…

I’ll start by picking a random creature for our heroine (I always start with the heroine, don’t ask). How about your basic wolf shifter? Already I’m spinning the possibilities with the what ifs, because I want my wolf shifters to be fresh. So…

What if… 

  • She’s trapped?
  • She’s cursed?
  • She’s been kicked out of her pack?
  • She’s shifting for the first time?
  • She’s lost the ability to shift?

I could keep going with the what if’s, but let’s pick one and run with the next question. Let’s say our wolf shifter heroine is shifting for the first time. What makes that compelling?

What if…

  • Shifting is a violent process and she should have help?
  • A female shifting for the first time means she’s met her mate?
  • She thought she was latent, and her wolf wouldn’t come out?
  • Shifting leaves her vulnerable and she’s alone in another pack’s territory?
  • A male wolf can claim a female during the shift and she’s being held by someone she doesn’t want to mate?

Already I might have to write this story. Lol. I think I’m going to go with shifting is a violent process and she needs help.

What if…

  • Wolf shifters can be made, as well as born, and she doesn’t know what she’s becoming?
  • She’s found by a mountain man (yum) who has his own secrets?
  • Without a mate to help her through the process, she could die?
  • She needs to be caged when she shifts until she can learn to control it, but the only person around is another shifter who’s anti-social?

Now this is getting interesting. We could do one more, jumping off from that last bullet point. However, I’d like to point out that, if I wanted to make it really fun, I might go with all 4 of those last bullet points combined. Actually let’s do that, and here’s what we have…

Our heroine was selected by a pack of wolf shifters to be made into a female in order to mate their Alpha. As a human, she hasn’t known of the existence of wolf shifters before, so she’s terrified when she’s captured, bitten, and thrown into a cell. The Alpha has to wait for her shift to mate her.

But somehow she escapes (this would involve another session of what if’s). She manages to run loose in the mountains, but she’s in pain and confused because the shift is coming on. Enter our hero who is a loner shifter (see what if exercise to determine what kind) that NO ONE risks going near, not even the wolf pack on the next mountain over (total anti-hero this one). He comes across her and can’t not help.

Of course, our hero will have to mate our heroine and get her through the shift without dying. But imagine ALL the what ifs and ways we could get them from point A to point B in between!!!

 

Sounds like fun, doesn’t it? Just wait until you start adding other plot lines, delving more into the Alpha of the pack, introducing more characters or creatures, etc. And boom, the paranormal world just explodes with color and life and you can’t contain it.

At least…that’s the way it works for me.

 

Draw from Real Life

Originally posted on Paranormal Romantics Apr 2018.

***

I am what I call a visual writer. I see the book unfold in my mind like watching a movie. This is particularly true when it comes to write the action scenes. Not being a fighter myself, I find with those, it helps to actually see videos. Watching the action in progress helps me describe it on the page.

This is fairly easy if I’m writing a scene where the characters are human. Whether they are fighting using a type of martial art, or using weapons, YouTube becomes my best friend, because it has videos of all that. But what does a writer like me do when the scene is more fantastical. For example, my current WIP involves dragon shifters. The fight scenes in these books is dragon on dragon fighting, mostly in the air, but also partly on the ground.

What’s a girl to do when she needs some visuals to inspire her?

I started with movies. Believe it or not, there are only a handful of movies or shows with more than one dragon. And even fewer where the dragons are fighting each other. (And I don’t have time to wait for Game of Thrones to get to that point.) The best I found was Eragon which is technically dragon (with rider) vs. shadow dragon (with rider), but it helped.

However, one short scene only helps so much (I’m writing 8 books here), and when I watch these videos I don’t write everything I’m seeing because those scenes are specific to those stories. Instead, I pick out individual moves or maneuvers that fit my characters, the terrain, the situation, etc., and piece together my own unique fight scene.

So if the obvious isn’t the answer, move on to the not as obvious (but sometimes cooler)…

In this case, I decided to draw from real life. What fights in the air in real life? Birds. So, I started looking up nature videos where birds are fighting midair or attacking something on the ground. With that small change in focus, I found was exactly what I needed.  Lots of it, in fact!

Example:

I still have to pull out bits and pieces from each video to put together an entire fight scene. Maybe the spiraling tug-of-war from the video above. Maybe the way an eagle turns his head before flipping over to face an oncoming falcon. Maybe what a massive golden eagle does when attacking a mountain goat. But the point is, I now have a lot more fodder for my visual brain to engage with.

I write paranormal to escape, to not be confined by the bounds of this world and be able to let my imagination run free. The irony is not lost on me that this world is still informing my fantasy world at very in depth levels. It makes me stop and appreciate the beauty and majesty we can find right here. No imagination needed.

Hey writers… What do you use to help you write scenes with no basis in this world? What else would you think of as a real-life example for dragons fighting each other?

When You Don’t Have Anything to Say (Or Can’t)

I am well aware how much I’ve slowed down on this blog. Pitiful really. But there is a reason… With my contracts, I now have to consider my publisher’s preferred timing to market upcoming books which is usually 1-3 months before and 1-3 months after (or more).

In the past, I’ve blogged about whatever it is I’m working on at that exact moment, while the experience is fresh and topics are top of mind. But I’m finding that I can’t do that now that I’m waiting to market the books until closer to release. Keep in mind, some of these books I’m finishing 1 and even 2 years before they release. So that means whatever I was focused on while writing them has definitely left my head.

This is a good problem to have, so believe me, I’m grateful. 🙂

The question is, how do I address the issue. I’ve tried keeping lists of topics I *would* have written about at the time. But when I go back to them, the content is no longer fresh for me. So that’s not working. I’ve tried just posting about what I’m able to post about when it’s fresh, but that’s resulting in fewer posts, so that’s not working either.

So…here’s what I’m going to try to do. I’m going to write the blog posts at the time that they are fresh in my head, but leave them in drafts to publish when I’m allowed. That way, they’re already done and relevant, and I don’t forget stuff. Eventually, that should give me content to be posting regularly (I hope). It probably means that, for the next month or so (or until July when my next book releases as Kadie Scott), my posts will still be pretty sparse. But, I figure the problem gets solved eventually, so that’s okay.

Hey authors in the same predicament…what do you do?