Monday, April 30, 2012

A Character with Faults

(Yay! I got two new blog followers when I wasn't looking. I'm excited, but it makes me feel bad because I neglected my blog for a little while. Anyway . . . . )

 It's very hard to create a lovable, but believable character. Someone who has a personality developed enough to be real. Someone with strengths and weaknesses. It's something I've been forced to work on a lot and improve upon myself. I still haven't mastered it, but I have some thoughts on a few things I've seen.

First, some authors say that their character has a fault that is actually a good trait. The two most common faults I've seen that were good traits is being clumsy and having a temper. These are actual faults in real life, but let me explain why they often aren't faults in a story. In scenes where a characters acts clumsy, the results of the clumsy act are usually funny and help you become endeared to the character a little more. It helps us relate to them better because very few of us are actually graceful, but it doesn't make you shake your head and want to talk some sense into the character.

A character with a true fault should make you slap yourself on the forehead, wonder why they could be so stupid, hate them a little bit for what they have done. Like for instance, when Harry Potter in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix couldn't be happy with Ron and Hermione for becoming prefects. He wants to become a prefect because he's used to the world revolving around him and can't understand why two lesser individuals would get the job instead. I don't know about you, but I was pretty angry with Harry there and his self-centered attitude. His friends had always been on his side, happy for anything that happened to him, and supportive of all his problems and he still behaved that way? Like I said, a fault makes you just want to shake a character and ask them why they did something.

Tempers can be genuine faults in stories. They can lead to self-destructive behaviors and hurting those you love. Unfortunately, most authors claim that a character has a temper, when they really mean that a character will always speak up and fight when they see some kind of injustice in the world. I've seen characters with tempers fight bullies, but hardly ever actually doing the bullying themselves. In that case, having a temper is actually a desirable and admirable trait because they care for nothing except for making sure there is justice in the world.

I've also noticed that there is a common fault a lot of characters have that people write, but never actually claim is true. I notice a lot of characters have a well-meaning mother or best friend, who is really chatty and that they will often tune her out when she starts talking on and on about stuff they deem unimportant. Usually, when the character suddenly blurts out something the audience will find interesting, then the main character will actually start listening again. Being unable to hear anything another character is saying unless they are talking about something that specifically pertains to the story and main character is called being a bad listener. I wish a few authors would notice this and label it as an actual fault. Having a friend like that would drive anyone crazy.

So when you're writing a character, make sure their faults aren't twisting into lovable things. If your character has mood swings, make sure the character is painted in an irrational light every once in awhile and doesn't just cry or scream and appropriate parts of the story. If your character is violent, up his or her fascination with gore, having her or him attack people just for fun and not when rescuing someone else's life is at hand.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Who's the Best Critique Partner you ever had?

I'm just wondering this question out of curiousity. What made them so special? Why do you think they were so good at their job? Did they notice all your mistakes? Or encourage you when you were frustrated? What makes a great critique partner?

I haven't had many CPs myself, but I'm curious as to what others are looking for in a CP, since I love critiquing other people's work.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Meet Sherri A. Dub

Our first guest blog! I'm very excited and glad to have her here.

Sherri A. Dub writes paranormal romance like I do and wanted to guest blog in celebration of her newest release. If anyone else reading this is interested in doing something similar, then please either comment about it in this blog post and leave me your e-mail address or contact me on twitter @writerblack.

Here's her post...


Thank you for inviting me to your blog to share my writing news and personal insights.

First, my name is: Sherri A. Dub~My website is:  I am a PRO-member of RWA and FF&P writing groups.  I love to go to book signings, writing conferences and Disneyland.

I write Paranormal Romances with three under my belt and published.  They are all available on Ebooks, from the various outlets.

I'll list the titles and a brief introduction to each story, then chat about my newest release and next project.

By the time this article is posted, I'll be relocated from Nevada to Hawaii, with my Hubs and our Siamese cat.
With that said, Aloha!

GODDESS COTTAGE was published on April 21, 2011

.99 cents

When I wrote this book, I wanted to incorporate a lot of personal things that have shaped my own life.  From childhood memories, to my wonderful bald husband, and my life of 16 years in a small town in Alaska.  I did just that.  It all came together for me in this first published work.  And, it is my pride and joy of accomplishments, outside of my USAF son and two grandsons.

*The story is about a 29 yr. old woman named Sierra Kastian, who is floundering in a life her mother has designed for her.  She doesn't know of any other living relatives, she's been told her father died when she was young, and she has only one confident since grade school that she can trust.  He's also her business partner, and gay best friend, Mitch Favor.

Together, they own a small coffee & pastry shop in Silver Dust, Nevada.

Sierra is constantly fighting to keep her life afloat, her mother from being thrown in jail for using psychic powers to acquire jackpots in various casinos and her own "special talents" a secret from the world.

When a handsome stranger enters her cafe, he brings her a summons from an estranged aunt in Hailey, Alaska. 

Sierra's life is turned upside down, with the acceptance of a large manilla envelope.

She's encouraged by her best friend to go to Alaska, and to find out what her aunt wants from her.

When Sierra accepts the challange, she discovers that Hailey was her birthplace.  Her aunt, Donella Ivory is an enchanting woman, who claims that Sierra is the last in a line of Ivory witches that must take her place at Goddess Cottage if the future of many races is to survive.

But, the kicker is, the handsome stranger known as Hayden Wells, is also her betrothed.  And, the leader of a pack of werewolves.  Not to mention, he's bald and loves to fly fish.

While adjusting to her new life in Hailey, Sierra must also fight off a female werewolf who has her teeth set on mating for life with Hayden.

If Goddess Cottage is to prosper and protect the future generations of enchanted creatures in its midst, Sierra must conquer her fears and become the greatest Ivory witch that ever lived.

THE WITCH BALL was published on July 23, 2011

.99 cents

My second book is also very dear to me.  I grew up with antique hunting parents in the California foothills, and on the cobble stone streets of Old Sacramento.  I love 'old' things, but I truly feel they are connected to their original owners, for life.  In this way, I wanted to create a ghost story, that was haunting, but also historically connected to the romantic theme and the characters.  And, the actual witch ball on the cover of the book, is in my possession, purchased from a shop in Salem.

*In my story, Charlie Chase is a young woman who loves and respects antiques.  She's known as a 'picker'~ one who buys, researches and re-sells old items for a living.

One day she finds a trunk, connected to the Donner Party, at an estate sale of an old woman in Placerville.  Inside, there is a strange glass globe and a few other creepy items.  Her interest is piqued, to say the least.

Due to a winter storm, Charlie must hole up in a cabin with a hunky landlord, who appears to be on the lamb.

Together, the two of them become entangled in the mystery of the glass globe (The Witch Ball) and the historical account of how it was used to trap the souls of a young mother and her only child, by a very wicked man.

If Charlie and her new partner, Sam West can't break the spell from the past, they may become the ball's next victims.

My latest release will be out this week. 


$1.99 on Ebooks

*I have a BA of Anthropology from the University of Alaska, so I really wanted to incorporate some of my actual knowledge and field expirience into a book.  Hence, my new release.  Personally, I have a great love for the Tlingit tribe and know many of the natives from the Klukwan Village in SE Alaska.  I spent 6 weeks in the field, conducting research work with my first Professor on the Kenai Peninsula, so I know how diverse and important the mythology and cultures of these people are, first hand.  When I wrote this book, I wanted it to remain true to the romance genre, with the paranormal aspects stemming from Tlingit mythology.  

However, I did take many liberties with the original stories and altered them to my own perspective.
THRESHOLD OF BONES is about a female Anthropologist, Dr. Liv Brayden from UW, who is on the cusp of her wedding, when her fiance bails.  He chooses his geology career and a volcano over her, and she's left cancelling the entire fiasco, while he climbs his way up the academic ladder of success. 

At the same time, she's fighting for tenure at her college.  When she arrives for work, a second dilema confronts her before her morning tea can settle.  The dean of the college asks for a personal meeting, and fills her in on a private scandal.

Her department Professor is missing in the field.  The mentor she adores, had gone to Alaska to collect plant life for a medicinal research company, and failed to report in for over thirty days.  The State Troopers have reported that Prof. Ellis Cray is officially, a missing person.  The company that backed his adventure have invested a large sum of money, too large for the University to repay.

Thinking it would boost her frail complex and low self-esteem, she offers to go to Alaska to retrieve the samples and her Professor.  After all, her ex-fiance isn't the only one capable of adventuring his way to the top.

When Liv arrives, she's forced to share the hospitality cabin in a Tlingit village with the resident dentist.

He's known as Doc, but his name is Harper Tripp.  He's from Idaho, dons a cloak to role-play with his younger patients and is the biggest geek Liv's ever met.

Naturally, they develop the hots for eachother.

Together, the two of them try to unravel the clues to find her missing Professor and to solve a cultural fiasco that has engulfed the Chilkat Village.

Can they decipher the truth of the paranormal claims that a prehistoric culture's placed their beliefs in, before the Professor's life is taken to appease an ancient Yaki Spirit?  Or, will Dr. Liv Brayden simply collect the plants needed to satsify the college contract with the research company, and secure her tenure, leaving her mentor's life in the hands of fate?

I love writing and reading, but research is my favorite occupation.  I believe it is what makes me want to create my own stories.

My next project is to delve into the Young Adult realm of Steampunk.  I have a trilogy in mind, most of it has been fleshed out already, and I'm going to spend the rest of the year writing it. 

I published 3 Para/Rom's in less than 12 months, so I really want to take my time with this next project, so that I can refuel myself.

Also, I will be putting GODDESS COTTAGE into print by summer, so I am beyond thrilled about that. 

Please feel free to friend me on Goodreads, like my facebook page or join me on twitter.  I can be reached under the name of: Sheropata~ on all those outlets.

Connecting with readers and other authors, is what makes this career such a wonderful choice for me.

If you have any questions or comments, let me know.  On my website, there is a (Contact Me) form that I use to conduct monthly giveaway contests.  I do not forward or spam anyone.  I only use the form to reward. 

In closing, I'd like to thank my new pal, E. B. Black for hosting me on her website.


And thank you as well, Sherri!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

What Professional Wrestling Taught Me About Writing

My boyfriend and I absolutely love watching professional wrestling together. I know a lot of people complain about the cheesiness of it or call the fights fake. Regardless of how you feel, it is important to also see that the industry makes lots of money and entertains people across the world. There's reasons for it, reasons that can make novel writers better entertainers if we understand them.

1. Action scenes are best with a lot of stakes.

When I first started writing action scenes, I worried about how to describe each kick, how many punches to include, whether guns should be involved...that kind of thing. I was too worried about the details of how a fight took place to realize what truly makes an action scene good.

While those details are important, they are not nearly as important as the stakes. Why do we care who is going to win? What will be lost or won based on this fight? Who are we rooting for?

The storylines in professional wrestling are the thing that makes it great. It's the difference between watching two people fight and watching two people fight where one is trying to win the championship belt for his dying son while the other is struggling to keep his job. It's those twists and turns and emotional connections that makes every body slam great because you know what a loss or win means to each person.

2. You don't have to be loved to be good.

One of my favorite wrestlers is Kane. He is what is called a "heel" in wrestling, which is basically a bad guy. Whenever he comes out, the stadium turns red, fire erupts in the air, and people usually run and/or scream. He's a creature from hell, he even dragged Zack Ryder down a hole in the ring that resembled a type of hell before.

Why is he great?

Because he's absolutely terrifying. He gets people to talk, stirs things up, entertains, and does his job.

There are some wrestlers who come out and everyone boos them automatically. It sounds like the kind of job anyone would hate, going out on stage multiple times a week, standing in front of a large group of people, and having them all mock you, but they love it. And it takes a certain amount of skill to make a bunch of people hate you in that way, to pull off a believable villain, and make it enjoyable.

Writing is not about everyone liking what I write and have to say. It's about entertaining people and getting them to talk about my work whether they like it or not. I also don't have to fit into a certain mold to be a good writer. I can have success by making my own mold if I want to.

The Twilight series is one of the most hated book series ever. It's also one of the most successful. Everyone has an opinion on it and a whole lot of those people have bad opinions. The books and movies have been talked about so much, they made a ton of money.

3. Being good takes lots of work and practice.

Going out on stage and looking like those muscular wrestlers do takes a lot of working out. They must diet, push their body to extremes, practice taking punches and hits, learn the steps to their entrances and how to avoid the pyro, memorize lines, and more!

Good wrestling doesn't just happen, it's practiced!

Same with good writing. I can't just sit around and daydream and have a book appear in front of me. I must work on it every day, study and practice writing, promote myself and my image, get feedback from other authors and discuss techniques with them.

If I'm not actively trying to improve myself and work on my writing then I'll never get anywhere with it.

4. People know its fake, but you must convince them its real anyway.

This is the biggest complaint I hear about professional wrestling. The whole thing is fake, it's scripted, they know who's going to win ahead of time and what should happen. If two people are going to fight, it should be real.

It's ironic because most entertainment is fake. I'm writing a novel currently about Medusa, who absolutely never existed. I'm watching a sitcom on T.V.: friends. The actors and actresses, like Jennifer Aniston do exist, but their characters, like Rachel, do not and many of the scenarios they act out on television never happened to them in real life. Shouldn't I be offended? Why am I getting so worked up over people and situations that never existed.

Because entertainment doesn't have to be real to be good. It just has to FEEL real.

I know some of the wrestlers who play great guys on television that I root for might be horrible people in real life. I know they aren't necessarily going through some of the emotional situations that the characters they portray are experiencing (although sometimes real life for the wrestlers does bleed into their story lines.) But the fact is, those people and the things they are striving and struggling for feel real to me.

If you can make a story feel real to someone and cause them to emotional invest themselves in it, that's when you know you've done a good job. If you can make the situations similar enough to real life and scientifically/historically/whatever accurate while at the same time making them sit on the edge of their seats, then you know you've done a good job.

It doesn't matter if it's real or not, it just matters how real it feels.

5. There's ways you will suffer that the audience will never know about.

To contrast what I just said, I must point out that wrestlers do genuinely fight each other. It's not to the death and there are many rules that exist in wrestling that don't in real life and sometimes they overexaggerate their injuries, but that doesn't mean they don't suffer.

Owen Hart, for instance, died during a Pay Per View performing his entrance.

Many wrestlers have been forced to retire due to back, neck, or leg injuries. I haven't seen Wade Barrett wrestling for awhile, one of my favorites, after he fought tooth and nail in the elimination chamber beating up the most people, but ultimately losing, due to injuries.

We have no idea how often wrestlers are forced to sit at home with ice packs and/or pain pills, struggling to walk or do normal things because of trauma they've sustained to their body. Even bruises are covered up with make-up. It gets in the way of their tough images to see how vulnerable they really are.

In the ring, they must make the whole thing look effortless. I point it out to my boyfriend all the time when a wrestler is starting to stumble like he's dizzy or his eyes are unfocused. He has to get up anyway, perform his moves on the top rope (if he has some) while he feels like collapsing, punch someone when their depth perception isn't working and make the whole thing look easy.

Writers are similar in the sense that we must work hard to write every day, take criticism, push ourselves sometimes when we're sick or struggling emotionally in real life. No one will notice our efforts, in fact, we hope they are so absorbed in our books that they notice nothing else, but the fact is we bled and bruised ourselves and suffered for every word. (Metaphorically, of course, most of the time.)

6. People enjoy watching other people do the extraordinary.

I will never forget CM Punk being handcuffed to the ring during one match. I thought he was going to lose for sure. All his opponents had to do was get on the ladder and grab the championship belt. It would be over and he'd be the loser.

But CM Punk did the unthinkable. Something I've never seen a wrestler do. He ripped the ring apart, beat the other men, and got the championship belt when he was seconds from losing it. My boyfriend and I were screaming the entire time watching it

In writing, we enjoy watching people struggle to do the impossible. It gives us something to strive for and dream of. It gives us someone to look up to. We want to hear stories of heroic acts and true love.

We must be able to relate to the other characters yes, but we want to see them strive to do what we can't, so we can hope for more and dream of more.


So even if you don't enjoy professional wrestling, I hope this article has inspired you and taught you a little about entertainment as well. I hope you can understand a bit more about why millions of people tune in to watch RAW and Smackdown week after week.