Getting to Know Your Characters

Every Bit of Normal copy

Just the other day I was speaking with a friend about how to get to know your characters better. As writer’s, it’s assumed that we should already know everything about our characters before we write, but that is far from the truth. More often than not, we get to know our characters as we write, but what if you wanted to get to know them better before you start writing? How do you go about doing that?

What I’ve found that really works for me, is starting a relationship with your characters, talk to them, ask them about their day. I know it sounds crazy, but it helped me overcome some really tough spots in my writing, especially with my current project, which has been plagued with spells of writer’s block and schedule conflicts. In the time away from the page I think of my characters often. I think what would they be doing if they were here, or better yet, what would they be doing on an average day. Of course, all this information won’t be included in the story, but these interactions may help reveal new character traits you may not have thought of before. I also spend time listening to my characters talk to each other. I have two characters, in my current project, that are best friends and I’ve learned so much about them just through listening to their conversations. This helps make the interaction between them more organic when I write. So I don’t need to come up with something random to feel a dialog gap. Instead, I can rely on what I’ve observed to create a better scene and don’t limit yourself to having them just talk to friends. Have your characters talk to other characters, whether they are side-characters or the shopkeeper in the market, even the antagonist. Find out what makes them tic, it’ll help down the line when figuring out how the characters will react.

I hope this helps in your character development journey, good luck writers and remember don’t give up on that story, the world needs your voice.

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Ready, Set, Go…

I know very few authors who haven’t had a case of writer’s block, it kind of creeps up on you, like a spider crawling on your bed. It can strike at away time and solutions for it include clichés like “Just power through it” or “You just gotta sit down and write.” Well duh, obviously I know I need to sit down and write, but how can I if the words are all clogged up? Unfortunately, there is no plumber we can call, there are however some daily practices you can do to encourage the words to flow.

First and foremost, you’re not going to write at your best if you’re in a bad mood. Set aside some time to clear your mind. Snack, watch some television, bathe, get your mind right for the task. As a writer writing is supposed to be a relaxing activity, allow yourself to enjoy it by de-stressing before you start a session. I like to cruise through Facebook and listen to my favorite Pandora station before I begin. Another thing that is critical to getting yourself in a good mood to write is setting up your writing space. Do you write better outside of your home or office? If so, then leave. Certain locations carry a certain air around them that might be over or under stimulating for an already distracted mind. Maybe the peace and quiet of a library may force you to settle down and get a few pages done or the opposite, maybe a busy café is the perfect place for those long writing sprints. Find your writing cave, make it your own, and you’ll find your attitude towards finishing that last chapter will change.

If you’re busy like me, it is also hard to find time to sit down and write. I’m sure you’ve had that powerful urge to write at inappropriate times, like in your car or at work. However, these feelings don’t have to go to waste, carry a notebook around with you or better yet, just grab a pen and a napkin and joint down your thoughts. It’ll be extremely helpful when you finally have the time to sit down and write to have those notes on deck, so no more trying to remember that big break in the scene or forgotten dialog, write it down. Get a tape recorder if that helps, or carry a tablet. I’m most productive while I’m at work, but I only have time to write late at night, and you best believe I flush out a lot of ideas during the daylight hours. You don’t have to write every day, but you should be thinking about your project daily. Run trailers in your mind to keep yourself hyped up, talk to your characters, interact with the story, it’ll help.

Finally, there is no catch-all cure for writer’s block. It comes and goes. Don’t beat yourself up if you’ve hit a wall, writing isn’t something you can just conjure up and spit out, you have to feel it. So in these mini writing hiatuses, take a breather, enjoy a good meal, and distress. It’s not going to last forever and worrying about it isn’t going to help either.

What’s Next for Ouji?

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The reviews are trickling in, and everyone seems to be enjoying my story, much to my delight. I haven’t quite reached my goal of thirty reviews, but I appreciate all the feedback I’ve been given so far. Granted, most of it comes from my friends and family, but I can tell by the way they enthusiastically talk about it that they enjoyed it. As for what’s next, I honestly had no intentions of continuing the story. Ouji the Curious Cat, was to be a one-shot, as I have tons of ideas brewing in my mind. However, I can’t seem to stop my mind from drifting to my favorite long haired black cat. I created this universe, and now it begs for attention, a continuation, and I kind of want it to happen too.

If you’re not aware, in the writing world, series make much more money. Readers desire more, and the market seems to tilt towards series rather than stand alones. I wouldn’t write another book as a cash grab, but it’s one plus to writing a possible part two. My primary motivation, however, is the desire to see more of Ouji and his friends. I think about him from time to time, and I want to bring more of him to life. My mind is warming up to the idea, despite my protest. So perhaps in the future, there may be a few more books about Ouji.

One thing for sure, if I do plan on writing any type of continuation, I’ll be making drastic formatting changes, meaning I’ll actually hire a formatter to format the book. I want to make shorter children’s books, with more pictures, as I love pictures. It’ll still be a chapter book, but with more pictures integrated into it. The idea of adding more imagery makes the prospect of writing more about Ouji all the more enticing, but it’s still in the very early planning stages. Currently, there is some pretty stiff competition for projects, but stay tuned I have many many ideas up my sleeve.

If you haven’t gotten the chance to pick up my book, it’s on Amazon for $7.99 and Kindle for only 99 cents. As I mentioned earlier, I’m very interested in feedback, good or bad. So if you have the time leave a review. Author’s love reviews.

I’m Back!

Now that the dust has settled, I can sit back and reflect on the success of my book release party. By success I mean everything went as smoothly as I had hoped. I fretted and planned and stressed for months, but I’m happy that I was able to give Ouji the kick off he deserved. I would like to send a special thanks to all my family and friends who helped make my big day possible, without their support the party would have never kicked up off the ground. For those who could not attend here’s a little rundown of how the day went.

Of course, workaholic me worked a quick morning shift before running around and getting last-minute things for the party. I couldn’t believe I was shopping on the day of my party, but that’s me for ya. I’m a last minute kind of girl. A piece of advice, though, get your outfit together BEFORE your big day! It saves a lot of stress. After a stressful day of running around shopping, printing, and getting money together, my friends began to arrive at my house. They pulled up just as I got home only two hours before the party, I was cutting it close, but luckily over the past couple of months, I’d been gathering and packing things for the party. That way everything would be in one place on the day of the party, which helped a lot.

I had my book launch party at my local library. I was fortunate enough to live near a library that did author showcases for local authors. Lucky me, but usually libraries allow small non-rowdy gatherings, so if you’re thinking about a place to have a book launch party check them out. When my party arrived, I checked in, and everyone made quick work of helping me get the room set up. My dad was there moving tables, and my friends were setting up chairs. It also helped that weeks before the event, I assigned task to different people, so no table went un-maned. The room was set up with four tables, one for food, one for guest to sign their names in the guest book, one for children’s arts and craft, and one for book signing. All the tables were set up close to the walls so that guest could mix and mingle without crawling all over themselves.

The event kicked off with a raffle, which I held at the beginning of the event to make sure the winners didn’t accidentally buy an extra copy. After the raffle, I spoke. I tried to talk a little about my book and what inspired me to write it, but mostly I rambled because I had nothing prepared. I had had writer’s block all week trying to think of something meaning to say, but in the end, something came to me. My message was from the heart. Keep pushing forward. Don’t give up on your dreams, after all, I wrote OTCC in one month, but it took almost three years to publish it. That’s a heck of a long time, so no your crazy dream is not impossible, work on it, one step at a time.

After that, I started signing books, and as much as I wished my signature had gotten better, it had not, but no one seemed to care. They were all happy for me and just wanted a little part of my success. They cared enough to show up and show their support, and I really appreciated that because Lord knows I was nervous. I kept asking people to ignore the errors while trying to downplay my success, as I always do. I like to live modestly, but they were having none of it. They were proud of me, and that made me feel so overwhelmingly happy. It all worked out in the end, and everyone was smiling and enjoying themselves, and that’s all I ever wanted.

As for copies sold, I walked away pretty good, selling 43 copies of my book. The guest said the food was amazing, and people were plenty entertained at the crafting table and mixing and mingling with new and old friends. I could spend hours telling you about all the tiny details that went into this, but I’ll spare you and leave you with this. If you’re thinking about publishing a book, do yourself the honor and welcome your creation into the world surrounded by smiling supportive faces. You deserve it, your story deserves it.

Special thanks to my friend Carolyn for all the wonderful pictures.

Count Down to Launch Day!

We’re live! Well, sort of, I recently added my book to Goodreads, just in time for folks to add it to their Goodreads 2017 Readings Challenge. While the book doesn’t come out until February 9th, you can still add it to your reading list. Now I’ve been a little buttoned up about the details, but now that I’ve got everything straightening out I can chat away.

Ouji the Curious Cat is an exciting tale about a house cat who escapes into the wild with the help of his new friend Adrian, a little deer mouse. The pair meet new friends along the way but soon find themselves at the foot of a grand adventure. Will the journey be too much for the house cat from the burbs or will he re-discovery what it means to be a wildcat? Find out February 9th!

 

You can now pre-order the Kindle edition on Amazon.com!

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Pre-Order Today Here

 

 

 

Print copies will be available on February 9th.

The Fun Part is Finally Here

Now that editing, formatting, and the holidays are winding down I can start focusing on my favorite part of publishing, the launch party! I love planning parties and hosting events, but like everything I’ve encountering during this book writing process, there are challenges. Thankfully I have plenty of resources at my fingertips and turns out you can have your launch party anyway want it. It’s like the Burger King of the publishing world, at least that’s how I see it.

Now you’re probably wondering how this is all going to come together? If you guessed that I have everything all lined out, organized, and planned down to the minute, I’m sorry to disappoint you. I am however going to make the most out of my small budget and with the help of my friends and family I’m going to send Ouji off right.

I don’t have any words of wisdom to pass along right now, perhaps later, but I will share this: if you’re on a tight budget, shop, shop, shop around! I’m hosting my party at my local library, for free, through a program they have. Call your library or bookstore, I’ve read that these locations are good for hosting book events. I’m also taking advantage of local stores and discount online services. Did you know that you can print posters at your local Walgreens for a good price? And Vistaprint, if you haven’t heard about Vistaprint, please go to the link below and introduce yourself. They have amazing deals on cheap goods, like business cards, promotional items, and more. These are just a few of the things I’ve run across so far, but it pays to do your research when planning your book launch party.

 

Here is a short list of some pretty awesome sites I’ve come across so far:

VistaPrint

How to Organize a Book Launch Party by Candy Gourlay

And I still need to watch this one, but I love the free Webinars Kelsye Nelson post

How to throw an Amazing DIY Book Release Party

From the Mind #1 – Chasm

There are women with children, young people and old, people in suits, and people in uniforms all gathered in this place. Families of four, families of ten, there are so many people here I can’t even count. On both sides they’re gathered, standing, looking over the edge. It’s so deep and black. It’s not like a trench in the ocean or a canyon in the desert. It’s fate, its change, the destruction of your comfort zone. It’s dark and intimidating, stretching for miles. It divides A and B, but neither are the goals, because the only way forward is down and down is scary. Down is unknown, uncertain, and unpredictable. Down is the valley of darkness where hope is tested. Down is every fear, every tear, every setback, but down is ten times, no twenty times better than here. It’s a one in a million shot dead in the dark for every dream, hope, and aspiration you want. Down is both success and failure, where a leap could put you farther or sink you deeper.

But she just jumped.

That single mother with her children, three strapped to her back. She jumped with no guarantee of her future. Then a child all alone, he jumped too, arms open into the blackness, followed by six suited dudes.

What the heck? How can they be so sure? How can they know what they know when there is so much unknown? Then I realized my legs were moving, carrying me to the edge, reluctantly to show me in the foggy darkness of my fear a dim orange light, like a call box on the street. There’s a dim orange light. I squint and what do my eyes see? At the bottom, there’s a bridge to not A or B and it feels so much better. It feels like air from the air conditioner, refreshing and cool like the springs of my childhood. This feeling is hope, tiny but thriving. It is the lighthouse or siren, fifty/fifty, but it’s ten times, no twenty times better than here. Better than the dead arid desert, the hopelessness in your life, the stagnation of your progress, and depression of your future. Raw in the mines is the hope of something better. Deep on the floor of every fear you’ve ever dreamt of. Now you have a choice. Jump or stand still, because they aren’t going to push you, only you can make the commitment, only you can make the decision.