“People Watching”

Writers are never bored when they are left sitting in the car or in a room, waiting for a friend or an appointment. As long as we have a pen and paper we will be fine.

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Sometimes I play a “people watching” game using my notebook and this will help shape some of my characters when I have more time to write.

Whether you use a genuine “Moleskine” or an inexpensive scratch pad style notebook, this game is both fun and useful for adding colourful characters to a novel. You can play the game alone or take turns with another person. (For more about Moleskines, click here: https://annelisplace.wordpress.com/2018/02/11/moleskine-or-moleskin/)

When someone enters my line of vision, I think, “What is the thing I notice most about this person?” It might be some facial feature or other physical attribute, or it may be a piece of clothing or accessory, or the way the person moves. Whatever it is, the challenge is to jot down one or two keywords that stand out about this person, and to do it quickly, say within two or three seconds. If I take longer than that, I lose the spontaneity and it is no longer a valid first impression.

Examples of keywords for people who have passed by:

  1. huge leather purse
  2. crooked nose, missing teeth
  3. greasy hair
  4. tall, stooping
  5. wild hair, lots of jewelry
  6. looking over the shoulder, hunted look
  7. wiping nose with back of hand
  8. high heels clacking on cement
  9. business suit, pantlegs too short
  10. sloppy look, sweats

Later, when I look at my keywords, more of that person’s description will probably come back to me.

Sometimes I have agonized over  descriptions of  character in my novel, as I try hard not to have them all come out the same. It’s not enough to add details arbitrarily to a person’s outward appearance. These details have to suit the personality to make that person believable to the reader.

For example: I shouldn’t simply decide that Joan could wear a new red hat or should have red striped socks. Perhaps Joan is shy and  lacks self-confidence. In that case, she is unlikely to wear clothes or accessories that draw attention to herself. I might choose one of the examples in my notebook as a starting point and use the keywords to build a character in my mind. It may even be a combination of several examples. The more samples I have to choose from, the more interesting and accurately depicted my character will be. I can mix and match them if they suit the kind of person I need for my novel.

Once I have a collection of keywords for my people, I can juggle them around to build unique characters. For me, it is works best to put the new character’s attributes all on one page when I’m ready to create him or her. There are character profile sheets available on the Internet. I can easily fill in the keywords once my imaginary person is created. That way I can refer to the details later on and not give Joan blue eyes in Chapter 21 when she had brown eyes in Chapter 2. Believe me, I’ve done that.

Now, see how easy and fun building character can be?

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Writing Ideas From Real Life

Where do we get our ideas for writing? We’ve all heard the advice to “write what you know,” but we don’t want to end up with a memoir either – not when we set out to write a novel.

Looking back at the five novels I’ve written, I realized that I often took a germ of an idea or an event or experience from my own life and built it into my books.

The trick is not to write the whole experience, but use it as a jumping off point.

Here is an example. In my book, Reckoning Tide (the sequel to The Wind Weeps), I needed to create an incident that had tension and danger and a resolution.

The characters, Jim and Andrea, are in a remote inlet on the coast of British Columbia. They have taken the skiff from their fishing troller and have gone partway up the river to explore.

Photo by Ken Johnston

Just as my husband (the Captain) and I did many years ago, Jim and Andrea tied the skiff to an upturned tree root and walked along the tidal flats.

I was terrified of grizzlies that might be coming to the river mouth to eat salmon. I should have worried more about getting separated from the skiff by the incoming tide.

photo by Ken Johnston

The setting in Khutz Inlet is such that all sorts of danger come with its beauty. Rather than tell my own story in the novel, I used what I knew about the place (the sights, the smells, the danger) to create the final chapters of my novel.

Have you used some of your own experiences as a jumping off point for a scene in your novel? If not, why not try it?

If you would like to find out what happened in the real life version, you can visit my blog post about it here. https://wordsfromanneli.com/2015/04/01/cut-off-2/

To see how I have used that experience in my novel, you can read Reckoning Tide. But first, you should read The Wind Weeps (which is free to download). Just click on the book cover images on the left sidebar to download.

Is Your Writing Feeble or Fabulous?

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As well as my first four novels, I have now written “Marlie,” a third novel of romantic suspense that takes place in the Queen Charlotte Islands. It follows “The Wind Weeps” (a free download), and “Reckoning Tide,” but is a stand-alone novel.

Lay or Lie

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Do you have trouble knowing the correct form of lay or lie to use in your writing?

Why not copy and paste this chart? Print it out either with your printer or by hand, onto a piece of paper that you can keep handy by your desk for a quick reference.

A quick version of how “lie” and “lay” are used with the pronoun “I.”

To Lie (down)

I lie (present)

I lay (preterite)

I have lain (present perfect)

I am lying (present continuous)

 

To Lay (to set an object down)

I lay (present)

I laid (preterite)

I have laid (present perfect)

I am laying (present continuous)

 

To Lie (tell an untruth)

I lie (present)

I lied (preterite)

I have lied (present perfect)

I am lying (present continuous)

For more about lay and lie, you can check out my post from a year ago:

https://annelisplace.wordpress.com/2016/12/16/lie-lady-lie/

Good work! Now have a cookie.

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The Longest Nine Months

I first shied away from reading this book because I thought it was going to be all about having babies, not my favourite topic. Luckily for me, I did pick up the book, read it, and enjoyed it. It was not all about babies and pregnancies, although this was a significant factor in the novel. It was more about the relationship between Chand and Campbell.

Chand is of East Indian heritage and Campbell is Caucasian. They are devoted to each other; so much so, that Campbell wears the traditional sari to please her husband, even when other modern East Indian women at their office party are wearing western dress.

No children are planned in their as yet young marriage, so when Campbell finds herself pregnant, major changes loom. Chand is not as thrilled as Campbell had hoped he would be, and the final straw, a possibly flawed baby, threatens to destroy this happy marriage.

I was drawn into the story by Ms Balawyder’s skillful development of her characters. I cared about them. I felt their joys and frustrations,  and empathized with their problems.

Don’t miss reading this heartwarming novel by Carol Balawyder. You can find it here: Just click amazon.

You will also find that Ms. Balawyder has written several other very entertaining books. Although they are inter-connected, they can easily be read as stand-alones. I know you’ll enjoy them all.

Carol Balawyder

 

Seduction of Santa

I’m pleased to host Emma Calin today. One of my favourite authors, Emma has written another hot police romance for us.

If you like a good story and a bit of hot spice added into the mix, you’ll love this book.

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SEDUCTION OF SANTA

For Paula Middleton the season of love is not just Christmas. As a cop on the hard streets of south London she knows the value of mercy. As a woman alone she fills her life with love for others in her community. When her kindness conflicts with the ruthlessness of the law, the heartless system of police discipline moves against her.  Crossing swords with the tough and dominating Max Muswell could be the end of her career or the chance of mind-blowing passion to last a lifetime.

As Christmas lights transform the West End of London into a glittering paradise for those with money, Paula uncovers a scandal of poverty and exploitation controlled by gangsters. In pursuit of justice and the spirit of goodwill to all men, she goes beyond her authority to close in on the crooks. As she falls in love she goes beyond her ability to control herself.

The consummation of her passion fixes the dangerous Max in her heart. Once again she acts with the spontaneity of love and is left crushed and alone. The fearless man she adores sets his face against her enemies and breaks all the laws except the law of Justice.

As Christmas closes in, police authorities react to the plight of the destitute victims of organized criminals and Paula rejoins the fight. With Santa Max once again at her side can they bring Christmas to those with nothing? Can love for all men also become the love of one man for one woman? Can the sparkle of snow find an echo in the sparkle of a diamond to last for every season?

Normal price Kindle: $2.99/£2.50 – Intro launch price 99c/99p.

Paperback: $7.99/£6.99

Universal Buy Link on Amazon : http://www.smarturl.it/SedSanta

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‘SEDUCTION OF SANTA’ is the sixth title in Emma Calin’s ‘SEDUCTION SERIES’ of steamy suspense romance stories.

Each ‘SEDUCTION’ book is a stand-alone crime-solving adventure, with a love story woven through the core and a guaranteed happy-ever-after ending. The heroines are sassy British female police officers – as passionate about catching crooks as they are about the men in their lives.  Read them in any order – there are no cliffhangers between books.  Characters make cameo appearances across the series but pre-knowledge of their stories is not necessary. Emma Calin’s police stories are inspired by the real-life experiences of her partner, an ex-London police officer and Interpol detective – with Emma’s own romantic twist!

Other titles include:

Seduction of Combat

Seduction of Dynasty

Seduction of Taste

Seduction of Crowns

Seduction of Dynasty Plus (2-book bargain bundle)

Seduction Series Box Set 1 (books 1-4 in series)

Emma Calin 2015

About Emma Calin

Emma Calin was born in London in 1962. She currently lives in France and the UK.

She has been writing since childhood and has won numerous local, national and international prizes for poetry and short stories, including the East Texas Writers Guild Award in 2017 and the New Apple Award for Ebook Literary Excellence in 2017.

When not writing, Emma likes to kayak or cycle on her tandem in the french countryside and play the trombone – but not at the same time.

Find Emma

Amazon: http://smarturl.it/EmmaAmazonWorldwide

Website: http://www.emmacalin.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/EmmaCalin

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/emma.calin

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/virtualbookcafe/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4915751.Emma_Calin

 

 

Marlie

I’m so thrilled to announce that Marlie is now available as an e-book and within a day or two will be available as a paperback as well.

My fifth novel takes place on the BC coast again. Must be my favourite place to be. As you follow Marlie’s new life on the remote Queen Charlotte Islands, now called Haida Gwaii, you may be surprised to meet some characters you have met before in The Wind Weeps and in Reckoning Tide.

But Marlie’s story is different from the first two in this grouping. She has several adjustments to make in her first months in the islands. Her experiences in the new home she has chosen send her emotions in all directions. She needs to dig deep to draw on her inner strength.

Unlucky in love, Marlie flees a bad relationship. She accepts a teaching job in the remote Queen Charlotte Islands. The beauty of the islands and the rugged challenge of northern living enthrall her. A good-looking artist has his eye on her. The perfect gentleman. Or is he? And what about that handsome fisherman? Is he just a bit too real for her with his hunting and fishing? Just as Marlie hopes that her life has made a turn for the better, disaster strikes. She is shocked to see her life spiraling downwards yet again. How could she have made such an error in judgement—an error that sets more bad luck in motion?

Not willing to lose control, Marlie takes a deep breath and sets out to get her life back on track. But can she do it alone?

Set in the remote islands of coastal British Columbia, Marlie is a heartfelt romance of love and loss and love again.

Experience the fears and joys of northern island living and delight in a second chance at true love.

You can put Marlie on your Kindle by clicking this link:

Paperback version is now available on amazon as well.

For those with e-readers other than Kindle you may find the version you need at smashwords.com

Book cover:

Painting by Jan Brown

Design by Anita B. Carroll