“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.

Death of a Doxy

I would like to introduce my guest today, author Chris Longmuir, of Montrose, Scotland.

What a challenge my author/friend, Chris Longmuir, has undertaken. Her latest series of crime novels features Kirsty Campbell, a policewoman in Scotland during and after WWI.

Death of a Doxy is dedicated to the memory of Jean Forsyth Thomson, Dundee’s first policewoman. The fictional Kirsty Campbell goes through much of the lack of acceptance and the condescension that Ms. Thomson did in real life. In Death of a Doxy, Kirsty Campbell does her best to be taken seriously as a competent policewoman, but it is an uphill struggle against the nearly all-male staff. She is keen to prove herself and solve the crime when a local prostitute is murdered.

We sympathize with Kirsty as she faces obstacles typical of the ones that plagued women in the work force nearly 100 years ago. Many of the townspeople thought a woman had no place in the police force. She should be at home minding the children and keeping the house for her husband.

In  Death of a Doxy, a prostitute is killed in the city of Dundee. Ms. Longmuir must keep her characters, the setting, and the events true to post WWI times. Attitudes were different in 1919. Clothing was of a different style. Some postwar food shortages still existed. Many inventions we take for granted today, were not even thought of yet. The author had a huge challenge not to slip up and mention something in her novel that was yet to be invented.

Ms. Longmuir’s writing is convincing as she transports us back to those post WWI days, showing us the frustration Kirsty (and working women of her time) endured.

The closer Kirsty comes to tracking down the killer, the more she puts her own life in danger.

The author keeps the tension rising as she guides us through the investigation.

I felt as if I were watching a movie that kept me well entertained.

About Chris Longmuir

Chris Longmuir is an award winning novelist who has published three novels in her Dundee Crime Series. Night Watcher, the first book in the series, won the Scottish Association of Writers’ Pitlochry Award, and the sequel, Dead Wood, won the Dundee International Book Prize, as well as the Pitlochry Award. Missing Believed Dead is the third book in the series.

Chris also publishes a historical crime series, The Kirsty Campbell Mysteries, set during and just after the Great War. This series features Kirsty Campbell, one of Britain’s first policewomen. There are currently three books in this series; The Death Game, Devil’s Porridge, and Death of a Doxy.

Her crime novels are set in Dundee, Scotland, and have been described as scary, atmospheric, page turners. Chris also writes historical sagas, short stories and historical articles which have been published in America and Britain. Writing is like an addiction to me, Chris says, I go into withdrawals without it.

To find out more about Chris Longmuir and her books, visit her blogsite and her website:

http://chrislongmuir.blogspot.ca

https://www.chrislongmuir.co.uk/

 

How We Speak

How we speak tells our listeners a lot about us. We don’t need to sound like Wikipedia, but if we sound as if we are uneducated others tend to judge us accordingly.

I find it annoying when a person has purposely taken up the habit of using bad grammar. This usually affects how the person  is perceived  by others, and makes a negative impression.  I see  little advantage to this, unless the poor speaker is desperate to be “one of the boys” (or girls). Perhaps I’m misjudging the reason for that kind of speech, but in some cases I have seen and heard, this seems to fit.

The kind of language I’m talking about is not so much the sentences with the *F* word thrown in  before every noun and verb in the sentence, but rather something more common — using the wrong tense of see, come, say, go, and several other verbs.

Also notice the insecure use of “this” instead of “a” or “the,” with the sentences going higher in pitch at the end so they sound like a question.

Here is an example of a conversation with the errors marked in red:

Me and my buddy seen this ad in the paper? We rented an upstairs room in this boarding house? The first day I gets up early because I hears this noise downstairs? I come down the stairs in a hurry and I seen this guy? He’s leaving the house with this black bag in his hand?

I would’ve went after him, but I never seen which way he went. So I says to my buddy, “Hey buddy! I just seen this burglar take off with this black bag.”

“Oh, that’s just the guy that’s renting the downstairs room. Probably going to school. I think he’s in college.”

“Hmpf! Good thing we got our jobs. We don’t need no grammar lessons. I could’ve went  to college  but I seen the Help Wanted sign. Don’t need no grammar.”

“But your job is to be a reporter. You need good English for that.”

“Naaahhh! I’ll just get Anneli to copy-edit my work for me.”

*****

Have you heard people speaking like this? Why do you think they do it, when they know it’s not good English?

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