Interview with Karilyn Bentley, an author who writes Fantasy with a Touch of Funny! She tells us how she creates her wonderful characters.

E:  Today, we have the pleasure of welcoming an author who uses the tagline Fantasy with a Touch of Funny — Karilyn Bentley!  Karilyn is here to answer some questions I posed her about how she develops her characters.

I find that each author approaches their characters in their own way.  One way can be the right way for one author, proven by published work, and not so for another.  Karilyn is known as a pantser in the writing world.  She doesn’t spend a lot of time plotting.  This holds true in her character building. 

I love the way this author wrote her Demon Huntress series.  The books are written in first person, present tense, which is not the usual.  It helps make it unique.  The reader and character, Gin, are discovering her world together.

Now to the interview.

You have just received a call from your publicist. They have asked you to write a trilogy, carte blanche, no limitations except appropriate guidelines for a full-length novel in the genre of your choice. First reaction?

K:  OMG, how cool! Second reaction: I’m not worthy and will screw it up. Third reaction: Get over yourself. They wouldn’t have asked if you weren’t worthy. Fourth reaction: OMG, how cool!

E:  I want you to be a bit analytical here. What starts rolling around in that head of yours? That is, what sparks ignite the idea of a story? Please elaborate – no simple answers here.

K:  It depends. Sometimes I see something in the paper or online or the news and think, huh, that would make a really interesting story if I tweaked it a little bit. Other times I hear the characters in my head telling me to write their story. Since they often don’t have a story, more like a backstory, it takes a while to flesh out a plotline.

E:  Do you use parts of dreams you have had, experiences with ‘nasty’ bosses (real people), your unconscious, personal emotional feelings such as jealousy, fear and love to write realistic characters?

K:  I do not use dreams because my dreams are so odd they make no sense at all upon waking! While I have never used nasty bosses as characters, I did base my Demon Huntress urban fantasy heroine, Gin Crawford, on a woman at work. I thought she’d make an interesting character and only later after taking a personality writing class did I discover the woman was a borderline personality. That was a rather intriguing discovery. Other than that woman, I try not to put people I know in my books. Which isn’t to say that I don’t base character’s conversations on real conversations I’ve overheard, especially male conversations. I try to use my personal emotions to try to write character’s emotions since it lends a sense of reality to the story.

E:  Let me break the interview for just a moment and share an excerpt from Devil Forget Me, release April 1.  Note the snappy, clipped dialogue, and internal dialogue with herself which portrays Gin’s humorous side, and her confused state about what fighting minions is all about. Dialogue shows a lot about a character.

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EXCERPT:

“Gin!” Smythe yells, heavy steps drawing closer.

“In here! Found another minion.”

Smythe steps into the doorway, filling it with his muscular six-feet-five-inches, his black brows rising for a second as he stares at the headless minion. “Good job. Two of them. What do you think they were doing here?”

“No clue. I didn’t ask.” Maybe I should’ve been a bit more curious about what plans I ruined for the minion, but why talk with evil when you can kill it?

“I’ll let the cleanup crew know another one is back here.” He turns, takes a step, then turns back. “You think it has something to do with the demon in the Agency?”

I shoot him a get-real look. “Seriously? Why would it? We’re in Dallas. The Agency demon is at the Agency in Boston. What would it be doing here?”

He shrugs. “Just a thought.” His words remain as he walks down the hall toward the first dead minion.

The justitia makes a tiny pop noise as it transforms into a silver-linked bracelet surrounding my wrist, while I stand frozen in place, staring at where Smythe stood. Why would he think these minions had anything to do with the Agency demon? Talk about a stretch of the imagination. Or maybe I can’t see the connection.

Finding the demon hiding in the Agency is on our to-do list. Right at the top. Smythe, my twin brother T, and Eloise, the Agency healer, are all working on it. With no luck. We all feel like we should know who the hell this demon is, but every time we try to puzzle it out, our thoughts scatter to other topics.

A clear clue there’s some sort of spell or magic at work to keep this demon hidden.

We’re on to him, or her. At least we will be. Once we can break a spell. If it is a spell. Maybe there’s nothing happening.

What was I thinking about?

I glance at the dead minion as footsteps draw closer. Right. I was thinking about the dead minion and how it would suck to be on the cleanup crew. Wasn’t I?

Well, it would suck to be on the cleanup crew and have to get rid of minion evidence. Better to be the sword that knocks them dead than the broom that sweeps it clean.

E:  Pretty cool, right?  If you haven’t read any of this series, you are most definitely in for a real treat when you do.

Do you follow a plan how to develop characters?

K:  No. The one time I tried this idea the character stopped talking to me and then ended up totally different than how I tried to write him.

E:  Once you think about a character, is there a thread you use to flesh them out?

K:  No. My characters tend to talk to me and I write down how I hear them. I learn new things about the characters as I continue to write the story.

E:  Which takes me to my next question, how restraining are you, when a character begins to tell their story? Do you let her talk? See what she has to say? Do you have to reel her in when she takes your ‘plan’ in another direction? Do you discover the character as she/he is revealing themselves or create them as you want them?

K:  I’m not restraining at all. My characters don’t like to be fleshed out (besides basic characteristics like what their job is) prior to me starting to write their stories. So I always let them speak and write down how they come to me. With Gin, the heroine of my urban fantasy series, I did have to rein her in based on beta reader feedback since she came across as annoying and not sympathetic. Your heroine can have all sorts of problems (and Gin does!) but they need to be sympathetic to the reader if you want that reader to finish your book.

E:  How do you figure out what your characters look like? Is it important to know where they live, when they live, what educational level they have? If so, at what point in the novel development does this become important?

K:  I like to know where my characters live and their education level since that is important to the story. It’s important to know from the beginning of the story since location and education have a lot to do with what makes the character. As far as figuring out what characters look like, well, my little secret is I’m awful with faces. As in, if you don’t look exactly like your social media picture when I meet you (same haircut, same clothes), I won’t recognize you. It’s a little embarrassing, especially at conferences where people I interact with online (but have never met in person) come up to me and I’m all, who are you again? Yep, embarrassing!

I see colors of people and characters, like their hair and eyes, and their height, and that’s about it. When authors go into great detail about how their characters’ facial features look, my brain just short circuits. Unfortunately, it does the same in my books. I actually wrote and published one of the books in Gin’s Demon Huntress series without describing her or the main characters. Yikes. Hopefully the reader read the other books in the series and understands what they look like! All that to say: characters’ appearances don’t matter to me and are usually written in during editing.

E:  How do you balance story-structure, theme and character building? Are they so interwoven a writer looks at them all at once?

K:  For me they are all interwoven. My writing tends to focus more on the characters and the plot than the theme. Probably because the word ‘theme’ reminds me of a bad day in college Literature class. Ha!

E:  Do you develop one character at a time? That is, you know what type of character you have as your main protagonist and develop the others to build conflict and arc tension?

K:  Yes, I do. Although until I read this question I hadn’t actually thought about it, but I do hear the voice of a character or two (depending on the story) and then build the rest of the characters to go along with the main one (or two).

E:  In your process, does the backstory and character conflict support the story, or do you create the story to support the backstory and character conflicts?

K:  It depends on the book. Some books, like the Demon Huntress series, had a backstory that each book explored. Other stories I’ve written work the opposite.

E:  Please use one of the series you’ve already written. Where do you get your inspiration for characters?

K:  As stated in a prior question, in the Demon Huntress series, I took the character of Gin Crawford from a woman at work. Then I added a lot of what ifs (obviously the woman at work did not hunt demons with a special bracelet!) and progressed the character from there. The other characters popped into my head as I continued to write the story. Then I had to flesh out those characters and figure how they related to Gin. The story changed a lot as I wrote it once the characters appeared. The original plot had two guys as the love interests but by the end of the first book it became evident she was really only going to fall for one guy.

E:  When do you do a detailed character workup in the process of writing a story? Or do you?

K:  I never do.

E:  At what point does your fictional worldbuilding begin? Is it much like how you build your characters?

K:  The worldbuilding is right up front. I can’t write unless I know what world the characters are in and how that world affects them. My worlds are fantasy so I have to know the rules of the world from the get go or else I’ll make mistakes.

**********************************

KarilynBentley[1198]Karilyn Bentley’s love of reading stories and preference of sitting in front of a computer at home instead of in a cube, drove her to pen her own works, blending fantasy and romance mixed with a touch of funny.

Her paranormal romance novella, Werewolves in London, placed in the Got Wolf contest and started her writing career as an author of sexy heroes and lush fantasy worlds.

Karilyn lives in Colorado with her own hunky hero, two crazy dogs, aka The Kraken and Sir Barks-A-Lot, and a handful of colorful saltwater fish.

Draconian Tales
Demon Huntress Series

Posted in Fantasy, Interviewing authors, New Book Release, On Becoming a Writer | Tagged , , , , | 11 Comments

New Release: WHEN A HIGHLANDER WEDS A HELLION by Julie Johnstone

Hellion

Title: When a Highlander Weds a Hellion Highlander Vows: Entangled Hearts, Book 8
Author:
Julie Johnstone
Genre: Historical Romance, Scottish
Pages: 180
Publication Date: March 22, 2019
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
ASIN: B07NVVSRMV

Highlander Vows: Entangled Hearts Series – all stand-alone
When a Laird Loves a Lady, Book 1
Wicked Highland Wishes, Book 2
Christmas in the Scot’s Arms, Book 3
When a Highlander Loses His Heart, Book 4
How a Scot Surrenders to a Lady, Book 5
When a Warrior Woos a Lass, Book 6
When a Scot Gives His Heart, Book 7
When a Highlander Weds a Hellion, Book 8

Publisher’s Summary:

How far will he go to belong?

Fierce, famed Highland warrior Broch MacLeod has always been a bastard—until one day he isn’t. And now that he’s discovered his real family, he intends to do whatever it takes to carve a place for himself in it, including wedding the lass known as the Hellion of the Highlands.

What will she do for vengeance?

When strong-willed, independent Katreine Kinntoch is forced to wed her sworn enemy’s son, she vows never to surrender her body or heart to the wickedly handsome, too-cocky Scot. Instead, she intends to make him dislike her so much that he’ll gladly send her back to her home.

How long will it take them to see they are each other’s only hope?

Danger and treachery unexpectedly bring Broch and Katreine closer, but can they trust each other enough to choose love over the ties that bind and the revenge that burns all around them?

 

My Review: I liked the character development of who Katreine is becoming, and how she is shaped by her family’s tragedy.  Her family harbors hatred, presumptions and prejudice against another clan, for good reason.  They killed her sister.  When she finds herself married into the said clan, she relies on her past beliefs only to find they may be wrong and struggles to change what has been her reality for so long.  

Broch MacLeod is an amazing hero.  He is where he is today, right-hand to the King because he needed to prove his worth, more to himself than others. In a land where clan is family, he knows not who fathered him. He must be a bastard.  He recognizes the same determination and powerful need of Brodie, son of the Blackswell laird, to prove himself, disguised in belligerency. Brodie is an interesting character. I hope Johnstone writes his story. 

Broch’s present mission is to bring together two clans, filled with animosity for each other, by marriage. Broch follows orders, but not blindly, even when destiny changes his life. He is a fair and just man.

His run-in (literal) with the hellion Katreine, the woman who must marry into the Blackswell clan, not only garners his admiration but interest.  He hears her pleas and vows to respect them before he enforces the king’s command. In his search for her protection, he finds his own destiny and discovers the truth of Katreine’s sister’s death.

The story from its inception had my attention, dialogue carried the plot forward with character actions making this story a page-turner.

If you enjoy braw Highlander men, women who can defend themselves and the bond and strength of family, shrouded in a hard-won love, author Julie Johnstone’s story is spot-on.

*****************************

Katreine awoke to the sound of crackling and the sensation of heat. The scent of burning wood filled her nose as she slowly opened her eyes. Broch was squatting in front of her, his broad, muscled back to her. He had one elbow on his powerful left thigh, and with his other hand, he was heating what appeared to be a dagger in the fire.

She moved to sit up, but her leg screamed in protest, and she immediately recalled her wound with a hiss. Broch turned toward her, worry clear on his face in the dancing light of the flames.

“Ye’re awake,” he said, not sounding happy about it.

That made her frown. “Did ye hope I’d nae wake up?”

“Aye,” he said, startling her as he stood and took a step toward her only to kneel once more, holding his dagger in his hand. His gaze fell to her leg, and she looked there, as well, her vision going spotty. She inhaled a long breath, and the wave of blackness cleared. Gritting her teeth, she glanced at her leg again and gasped. There was a jagged, bloody bite covering the front of her thigh.

“Lass,” Broch said, his tone so surprisingly gentle and soothing that she found herself looking to him.

“Ye have lovely eyes,” she blurted as their gazes locked.

Goodness! What had made her say that? She fanned herself, feeling suddenly feverish. “I need to cleanse the wound,” she murmured, looking at her leg once more. The silvery spots came back to her vision and she started to tilt to the side, but Broch caught her by the arm and kept her upright. Slowly, the spots receded, and she focused on him once more.

“I’ve got to seal the wound,” he said.

“I dunnae like the sound of that,” she replied. She started to look at her leg again, but Broch released his hold on her arm and caught her under the chin, which he then cupped.

“I think it best ye look at me.”

“Ye may be right,” she said, trickles of sweat now rolling down her back. “I dunnae feel well.” She attempted to swallow, but her throat felt too dry for the simple task.

“I dunnae imagine ye do,” he said. “But ye were amazing.” She could have sworn his voice had dropped low, like a distant rumble of thunder. One of his fingers was trailing back and forth along her jawline. It was utterly improper, and she should most definitely stop him, but it was so comforting, and her thoughts felt odd.

“My mind feels fuzzy,” she announced.

“Good. I gave ye a wee bit of mandrake root to aid with the pain.”

“Ahhhh,” she said, drawing the word out. It felt as if it had drifted from her of its own volition. She vaguely felt her leg throbbing, but Broch’s eyes were so very blue and his arms so very well-formed… She lost the thought, laughed, and when he smiled at her, she realized how sinful his mouth looked. It was as if he had used it many a time to kiss a lass senseless.

A strong wish to be senseless and unguarded gripped her. Ever since her mother and sister had died, she’d been told to be wary around men, and in this moment, the effort felt too much. She wanted to release herself from the chains that bound her.
“Ye need to let me seal yer wound now,” he said.

She shook her head. She did not want pain. She wanted pleasure. From this particular man, too. Never had she wanted a man to kiss her, but this man, this Scot, she wanted him to do just that. “Kiss me.”

“Ye want me to kiss ye?” he asked, and his shock—or was it distaste?—was apparent in his tone.

“Ignore my words,” she muttered and waved a hand at him that seemed to move in slow-motion before her face. “If ye dunnae think me bonny—”

“Good God, it’s nae that,” he said on a deep inhale. “I think ye verra bonny, but ye are to be wed.”

“Oh, do cease talking, ye clot-heid!” She reached out, slid her hand around his neck, and tugged him so close that his heat nearly overwhelmed her. His scents swirled around her, and her belly tightened. He smelled like smoke, woods, and warrior. “I’ll let ye seal my wound only if ye kiss me.”

Had she really just said that?

By the widening of his eyes, she knew she had, and she grinned.

“Christ’s teeth, ye earned yer name, I can see. From how many men have ye demanded a kiss?”

“Just one,” she said, scowling at him. “Just ye. But with a foolish question like that, I may rescind my offer.”

“God save us both,” he muttered. He set down the dagger he’d been clutching and cupped her face in his strong hands.

Impatient and sensing she was beginning to question what she was doing, she gave a little tug on his neck, and then his mouth slanted over hers.

 

JulieAuthor Julie Johnstone is the USA Today bestselling author of historical romances including the Once Upon a Rogue series, the Whisper of Scandal series, the Lords of Deception series, the Danby novella series, the Highlander Vows: Entangled Hearts series, and the Renegade Scots series.

Her books are focused in the Regency and Medieval period. Julie’s books have hit the USA Today bestseller list multiple times.

She makes her home in Birmingham, Alabama with her lawyer husband, two boys, one quirky Australian Shepherd and one snooty cat. When Julie is not deep in research, she’s lost in another time period writing. She loves to do yoga, cook, travel, and go to music concerts!

http://www.juliejohnstoneauthor.com
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Posted in Book Reviews, Historical Romance, Medieval Romance, New Book Release, New Book Release Tour | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Interview with Amy Jarecki, Multi-Award winning and Amazon All-Star author, discussing elements of crafting a novel

E: Thank you for joining Booktalk with Eileen today. Amy Jarecki is one of my favorite authors as readers will note if they use the sidebar in the blog to type your name into ‘Looking for a particular review, author or subject?  

 Now for the questions!

You have just received a call from your publicist.  They have asked you to write a trilogy, carte blanche, no limitations except appropriate guidelines for a full-length novel in the genre of your choice. First reaction?

A: First reaction would be a belly laugh. This actually happened to me for the Lords of the Highlands series, except the phone call was from my agent.  

Agents do the work on the front end, pitching my work and negotiating contracts. Publicists do the marketing work on the back end. So…when Elaine, my agent called and told me Hachette/Grand Central Publishing/Forever Romance wanted me to write a highlander series which was actually based on one chapter they’d asked me to write three months prior, I laughed out loud.

The road to traditional publishing with a New York house is long, fickle, and elusive. After years of trying, I got in with a single chapter…go figure!

E: Before we move to the next question, I want to mention how much I’m enjoying Lord of the Highlands series.  Readers, take a look at the fantastic cover of the last book released in Lords of the Highlands–THE HIGHLAND RENEGADE along with the purchase shortlinks.renegade

Amazon US: https://goo.gl/2TVber
Amazon UK: https://goo.gl/i1UhdW
Amazon Canada: https://goo.gl/gTCx7H
Amazon Australia: https://goo.gl/8GL9g4
Barnes & Noble: https://goo.gl/stH3jp
iBooks: https://goo.gl/FEcUkF
Kobo: https://goo.gl/PWeocS
Google Play: https://goo.gl/VUCbhD
Walmart: https://www.walmart.com/ip/The-Highland-Renegade/604591066

I want you to be a bit analytical here.  What starts rolling around in that head of yours?  That is, what sparks ignite the idea of a story?  Please elaborate – no simple answers here.

A: I usually start a story with a nugget of an idea. For example, the manuscript I am working on now is THE HIGHLAND PIRATE. The hero, Kennan Cameron, has played a supporting role in a few past books, and he generally has been portrayed as a bit flawed. He also is a ship’s captain and comes into a fortune in THE HIGHLAND EARL (releasing May 25th). When I was thinking of titles for the next Lords of the Highlands books, I thought…what about a pirate? From there I wrote a statement:

 “Privateer Kennan’s ship is pirated by the vile Jackson Vane. After being forced to watch his men walk the plank, Kennan leaps over the side of the ship and washes up on the isle of Hyskeir. There he is found by Divana Campbell who suffered smallpox and was abandoned on the isle two years prior. But she survived. As they make their way to Kennan’s home, he is driven by revenge. And though he doesn’t immediately fall in love with the lass, she proves invaluable in oh so many ways…”

 And I can’t say more because I’ll give away the ending!

 E: For those fans of yours who are just waiting for the next release, here are the purchase shortlinks of THE HIGHLAND EARL. 

Highland EarlAmzUS: https://goo.gl/AVE2tA
AmzUK: https://goo.gl/JSTGmk
AmzCA: https://goo.gl/2kbSvj
AmzAU: https://goo.gl/GZFuxg
B&N: https://goo.gl/XvXf13
Apple: https://goo.gl/65L3pY
Kobo: https://goo.gl/iZESPZ
GoogPl: https://goo.gl/SDQQrp

Do you use parts of dreams you have had, experiences with ‘nasty’ bosses (real people), your unconscious, personal emotional feelings such as jealousy, fear and love to write realistic characters?

A: I do draw on past emotions to enhance the experience of my characters. Sometimes I have to say to myself…that’s how I’d react, not my character! Then comes the rewriting.

 E: Do you follow a plan how to develop characters?

 A: Yes, before I start writing a develop a character profile sheet for the main characters complete with pictures and physical descriptions, personality types, their anticipated character arcs through the story, and backstories.

 E: Once you think about a character, is there a thread you use to flesh them out?

A: I use a standard character profile questionnaire I developed when I first started writing.

E: Which takes me to my next question, how restraining are you, when a character begins to tell their story?  Do you let her talk?  See what she has to say? Do you have to reel her in when she takes your ‘plan’ in another direction? Do you discover the character as she/he is revealing herself/himself or create them as you want them?

A: I do let my characters talk and sometimes I reel them in. Other times they come up with something I never could have thought of in the plotting process. As I work, my characters enrich the story, but the main plot always remains the same.

E: How do you figure out what your characters look like?  Is it important to know where they live, when they live, what educational level they have? If so, at what point in the novel development does this become important? 

A: Character physical description, domicile, education, backstory are always done before I start writing the manuscript.

E: How do you balance story-structure, theme and character building?  Are they so interwoven a writer looks at them all at once?

 A: When I start a scene, I think about the setting, the purpose of the scene, and how it will lead to the next. By this stage, all of the elements are interwoven, though sometimes I’ll write the dialogue and then add characters actions and reactions on a second pass.

E: Do you develop one character at a time?  That is, you know what type of character you have as your main protagonist and develop the others to build conflict and arc tension?

A: In the initial stages I really focus on the development of the hero and heroine. The supporting characters do come later. Sometimes they play a larger role and get their own profile sheet (especially the antagonists).

E: In your process of writing, does the backstory and character conflict support the story, or do you create the story to support the backstory and character conflicts? 

A: I suppose the backstory and conflict support the story…usually.

 E: Please use one of the series you’ve already written. Where do you get your inspiration for characters? 

 A: In the Lords of the Highlands series my inspiration for the characters comes from researching the Jacobite clans of the first rising and using information about the lairds and lords who were powerful leaders at the time.

 E: At what point does your fictional worldbuilding begin?  Is it much like how you build your characters?

A: It starts with the first idea and, though I initially plot the entire story, worldbuilding continues throughout until the manuscript is finished.

E: Thank you for joining us Amy, taking time out of your busy writing schedule to answer these questions. If a reader would like to pose a question to Amy about her style of crafting a novel, please leave your question in the comments.

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Amy Jarecki Head Shot_SmallerMulti-Award winning and Amazon All-Star author, Amy Jarecki likes to grab life, latch on, and reach for the stars. She writes historical romance with various series that span many eras and has 30 books in print. She studies karate at the Bobbly Lawrence studio in Saint George and you’ll often find her hiking Utah’s Santa Clara Hills. Reinventing herself a number of times, Amy sang and danced with the Follies, was a ballet dancer, a plant manager, and an accountant for Arnott’s Biscuits in Australia. After earning her MBA from Heroit-Watt University in Scotland, she dove into the world of Scottish historical romance and hasn’t returned. Become a part of her world and learn more about Amy’s books on amyjarecki.com.

 Social Media Links:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/amyjarecki/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/amyjarecki or @amyjarecki
Instagram: jareckiamy
Book Bub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/amy-jarecki
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5306959.Amy_Jarecki

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Highland Romance, Highland Stories, Historical Romance, Interviewing authors, Novel Development, On Becoming a Writer | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Audiobook Review: HOW TO STEAL A HIGHLANDER by Olivia Norem

 

steal

Title: How to Steal a Highlander
Author: Olivia Norem
Genre: Historical/Contemporary Romance, Time Travel
Story Setting: Scotland, 1650 & present day
Pages: 267
Publication Date: June 1, 2018
ASIN: B07CY716YD

Narrated by: Greg Patmore
Length: 8 hours, 55 minutes
Release Date: August 31, 2018
Published by: Olivia Norem

Summary:

A modern thief
Katherine Goldman is a professional with world-class skills, but the expertise of the family firm doesn’t lie within the scope of legitimate commerce. Goldman & Associates steal priceless treasures and delivers them to the highest bidder – and business is good.
When Katherine lands in Scotland to boost some relics, nothing in the experience of this notorious thief prepared her for a collision with a dark, rakish man wearing plaid…who happens to be trapped inside an ancient mirror.

A man imprisoned in time
Centuries before, Simeon Campbell had no idea the woman he charmed was a witch of unspeakable power. When Simeon refuses her gift of immortality, he quickly learns there is no wrath like a woman scorned.

Cursed to spend eternity within the bonds of her enchantment, Simeon is lost time and nearly bereft of hope. Until he’s accidentally released by a lass with questionable motives, in a century he could never have imagined…

One wicked curse
As the pair plunge into a journey where danger trails them at every turn, this man of honor is determined to stop at nothing to save the woman he’s sworn to protect. But Katherine stubbornly knows better than to clash with an enemy face to face. If Simeon is determined to defeat ancient evil at its source, he’s going to need help. He’s going to need a thief.

©2018 Olivia Norem (P)2018 Olivia Norem

My Review:
This story wasn’t at all what I expected because of the characters. It is unique, although there is time travel, with its clash of expressions, women and men’s roles in society and of course the advancement of technology.

Many good qualities to this story. The plot is catchy with vibrant fast-paced dialogue, pertinent to each character’s style of talk. The narrator, Greg Patmore, captures the sensual lure of Laird Simeon who has spent centuries in a glass mirror under the curse of Isobel, a witch, whom he would not bed. I feel the laird’s desperation to break out of living in total isolation. Greg Patmore is talented and a pleasure to listen to.

Katherine, on a job, finds a mirror while thieving for her father and discovers it is no ordinary mirror. She hears a man’s suave voice coming from the mirror asking to be released. He is brawn and beyond handsome in Katherine’s opinion. Katharine is a talented, skilled thief—she gets in and gets out—no changing what she should do. This time, being intrigued since no one hears the man in the mirror except her, she doesn’t follow the Gorman Rules of thievery, grabs the mirror with the promise to try to free the man, which propels the story forward.

Katherine contacts her Colin, her brother. Things are not going as they should. She feels watched. But who would it be? She left no tail.

Katharine’s voice, narrated by Greg Patmore, feels awkward. She doesn’t sound likable—she’s a bit whiny. How can the laird be attracted which he is? Is he so sex-starved that he can’t resist the first woman he sees for centuries? I think the character would be better served if early dialog (internal dialogue) would from time to time show her soft underbelly, and soften her voice – making her real off-the-job voice more feminine.

Katherine didn’t want to get caught in the laird’s charm with his rumbling masculine and beguiling brogue. She is the best thief in the world and knew feelings could get her killed. Perhaps, backstory on why Katharine had to maintain her status would create more internal conflict, fleshing out her character fully.

Sophia captures Katherine’s brother in love too quickly with Sophia, the laird’s sister. I say this because he was just dumped by his wife and on the run from the police. Again, I suggest to the writer, she has a nice sequel for those two, giving a chance for us to discover what Sophia really is like and the merits of Colin.

Lastly, a thread not resolved. How did the laird know what words would release him and the reader doesn’t? There is one little sentence which points to it. We were privy to the exchange between Isobel and Simeon at the time he was cursed. Why did the writer not include a portion or hint of that? We as the reader would benefit, keeping the information from Katherine, of course.

If you are entertained by a spicy Highlander fantasy, time travel, and sexy protagonists, laced with humorous moments, this story should delight you.

I received this audiobook at no-cost from Audiobookworm Promotions. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.

 

About Olivia Noremolivia
Since Olivia is old enough to remember, she devoured books and stories and became enchanted with the worlds the authors created. Imagination, unforgettable characters, and the swoon-worthy, alpha males have made a huge impact on her writing style.

Olivia is known for strong, sassy characters who are always ready with a quip of humor, despite their situations. Born in the Chicago area, Olivia moved to the sunny shores of the Tampa Bay more years ago then she cares to admit. This “semi-native” writes full-time, and enjoys her “C” hobbies: cats, cigars and classic cars

Posted in Action/Adventure, Audiobook, Audiobook Review, Audiobook Reviews, Highland Romance, Highland Stories | Tagged , ,

Audiobook Review: RISE OF THE DEFENDER ~ a humongous book and an amazing listen!

rise of the Defender

Title: Rise of the Defender de Lohr Dynasty
Author: Kathryn Le Veque
Genre: Historical Romance, Medieval
Pages: 810
Published by: Dragonblade Publishing, Inc.
Published Date: January 26, 2014
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
ASIN: B00C61D40E

Narrated by: Brian J. Gill
Length: 32 hours, 3 minutes
Release Date: March 9, 2015

The de Lohr Dynasty can all be read as stand-alones, but the chronological order is:
While Angels Slept
Rise of the Defender
Steelheart
Shadowmoor
Silversword
Spectre of the Sword
Unending Love
Archangel

Publisher’s Summary:

Read the great Medieval Romance saga that spawned a series. Lose yourself in an enormous epic!

1192 A.D. – Sir Christopher de Lohr is Richard the Lion Heart’s champion, a man who the Muslims nicknamed “The Lion’s Claw”. Blond, battle-scarred and powerful, he is what all men fear. After the fall of Acre, Christopher makes a promise at the deathbed of a dying comrade to marry the man’s incorrigible but wealthy daughter. Christopher returns home to marry the woman, but the only thing is interested in is her substantial dowry. He has no use for a wife and resents being forced into the marriage.

The Lady Dustin Barrington doesn’t want a husband. Petite and beautiful, she is a goddess with the heart of a tomboy. When the enormous, seasoned warrior comes to Lioncross Abbey Castle to marry her, she savagely resists him. More than ever, Christopher regrets agreeing to marry the woman but as they are forced together in a contract marriage, something strange happens… somehow, someway, the animosity subsides and a gentle warmth takes its place. More and more, they come to care for one another but neither of them will admit it.

As the voyage of discovery begins, Christopher is distracted by a very important task entrusted to him by Richard. He has been sent back to England ahead of King Richard to assess the climate of the country and also to assess the activities of Richard’s brother, Prince John. He leaves for London to put himself in the heart of the turmoil that is going on between Richard and John, and brings Dustin with him. The moment they arrive in London, an entirely new and dangerous world opens up to them.

Join Dustin and Christopher as they embark on the adventure of a lifetime. Evil princes, tournaments, politics, wars, and a threat to their relationship from deep inside Christopher’s inner circle invade their loving and passionate world. When Christopher is reportedly killed in battle, Dustin must pick up the pieces of her shattered life and attempt to carry on. But don’t count the Defender out just yet… can he make it to Dustin in time to prevent catastrophe?

My Review: Four warrior knights back from the Crusades, loyal to Richard the LionHeart, are instructed to return to England—Sir Christopher and Sir David De Lohr, Sir Marcus Burton, and Sir Edward De Wolf.

King Richard bestowed on Christopher an honor which makes him the right-hand of King Richard in England. He is the Defender of the Realm, gaining total control of Richard’s army left in England. Chris’s task is to make sure Prince John does not take over the realm while King Richard is still abroad. Prince John is not easy to deal with, nor his slimy advisor, Sir Ralph.

On Sir Author Barringdon deathbed he requested Christopher to marry his daughter. Lioncross Abbey would also be his. All his knights and fighting men were also bestowed upon him. Sir Christopher reluctantly agreed, only because the offer came with marriage to Baron Barringdon’s daughter.  Chris does not want to marry. He wants to champion the king and none other. Sound easy enough? Never, as you will soon find out.

The friendship between these four knights returning to England makes them a special fighting team. They were always in sync, the other anticipating the moves of the battle. They watched each other’s backs for three long years in the Holy Land.

Dustin, Sir Author’s daughter is 19, ‘willful’ and difficult to handle, nor does she want to marry. Willful is not the only word for Dustin. Her beauty, intelligence, and innocence somehow excuse her willfulness. Chris, who never wanted to marry, thinks it may not be too bad after all.

How can this knightly friendship dissolve once on English soil? Simply by the love of one small slip of a woman who isn’t even aware how she affects men. Up to her 19th birthday, any advances by men, she easily thwarted with a swift punch in the nose. She knows what these men want– not her but her large dowry and the ultimate inheritance of her father’s wealth.

All would have been fine. As in most marriages, husband and wife find an equilibrium and manage a marriage, even if just to sire children. However, Marcus Burton was attracted to Dustin, with circumstances propelling them into more than just attraction.

As Chris finds Dustin is more than a beauty, he falls passionately in love with her. With that love, which he won’t admit to himself, he becomes protective and jealous of anyone who shows his appreciation to Dustin. Beware Marcus and David!

This tale, all 892 pages, not only has deep conflict between characters, but they have internal conflict within themselves. What is more important? Friendship where one’s life has been saved many times, honor, or love of a woman?

A note about the narrator: Brian J. Gill mightily adds to the emotion of the scenes with his pacing, tone, character voice, and display of various emotions which befall the characters. Jeffrey, a secondary character, has a German accent. We initially hear from him when Chris shows us he is becoming jealous; Marcus Burton has a brogue, and of course, the others sound English.

The story is magical. Don’t let the length of the story deter you from reading or listening.  As a reader, I was entrenched, experiencing all that transpires. Each character has his/her own path of discovery about themselves and how they intend to remedy the situation they find themselves in. Some of them have more trouble than others to move beyond the lie they accept as true. Le Veque writes deeply emotional scenes of terror, hatred, guilt, sadness, and valor, giving much to ponder for the reader.


 

Posted in Audiobook, Audiobook Review, Audiobook Reviews, Book Reviews, Highland Romance, Highland Stories, Historical Romance, Medieval Romance | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

My Big Takeaway From Studying Crafting Dialogue is…

A lot hinges on good dialogue.  If it sucks, your story will.

This is the last blog I’ll be posting on crafting dialogue.  It has been a very pleasant part of my journey.  I never realized how much a writer can do with dialogue, yet I knew instinctively what I was learning, I had partially learned from my reading.

I’ve read that reading is an integral part of learning how to write.  Apparently, I cannot disagree.

The following book is the most detailed dialogue crafting book read so far. 

CraftingTitle: Crafting Dynamic Dialogue the Complete Guide to Speaking, Conversing, Arguing, and Thinking in Fiction
Authored by: the editors of Writer’s Digest

The book is divided into six parts with self-explanatory titles:

An Introduction to Dialogue
Crafting Great Dialogue
The Basics of Dialogue
Characters & Dialogue
Dialogue sets the Stage
Dialogue Drives the Plot

Many of the chapters (28) are written by authors who teach writing workshops and write novels or other writing craft books. 

By the time I read through the chapters, which were well-marked with bolded subtitles providing easy perusal if looking for a particular part of the article, I had gained a clear vision of the total flexibility of how dialogue can be used to move a story forward and how much richer a story is by its presence.

I recommend you read each of the articles.  There is some overlapping of ideas which only reinforces what I learned. It will be a handy reference book for me once I begin my novel.

 

22372278Title: How to Write Great Dialog
Author: Dorothy May Mercer

I also read a short book How to Write Great Dialog by Dorothy May Mercer.  She says dialogue is necessary to bring your characters to life to interest the readers.  She gives examples of good sentences and better ones by showing, rather than telling the writer.  This approach made it clear how much better dialogue sounds with narrative showing action and emotion.

Adverbs are frowned upon. True dialogue isn’t long, complete sentences, however, the narrative or exposition of the scene should have complete sentences with no contracted verbs, such as isn’t.

All in all, her short book had value—easily read quickly, with clear explanations.

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Book Review & Giveaway! IT’S GETTING SCOT IN HERE by Suzanne Enoch Book 1 of a new series full of barbarian Scot antics and demure and proper English young women

It's Getting Scot in Here cover

Title: It’s Getting Scot in Here The Wild Wicked Highlanders Book 1
Author: Suzanne Enoch
Genre: Historical Romance (Scottish)
Pages: 352 Published by: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Published Date: February 26, 2019
ISBN-10: 1250296374
ISBN-13: 978-1250296375

 Synopsis:

The first in a wickedly seductive new Scottish historical romance series from New York Times bestselling author Suzanne Enoch!

“It’s time to fall in love with Suzanne Enoch.” — Lisa Kleypas

HAPPILY-EVER-AFTER
London socialite Amelia-Rose Baxter is nobody’s fool. Her parents may want her to catch a title, but she will never change who she is for the promise of marriage. Her husband will be a man who can appreciate her sharp mind as well as her body. A sophisticated man who loves life in London. A man who considers her his equal—and won’t try to tame her wild heart…

IN THE HIGHLANDS
Rough, rugged Highlander Niall MacTaggert and his brothers know the rules: the eldest must marry or lose the ancestral estate, period. But Niall’s eldest brother just isn’t interested in the lady his mother selected. Is it because Amelia-Rose is just too. . . Free-spirited? Yes. Brazen? Aye. Surely Niall can find a way to soften up the whip-smart lass and make her the perfect match for his brother for the sake of the family.

JUST GOT A WHOLE LOT HOTTER.
Instead it’s Niall who tempts Amelia-Rose, despite her reservations about barbarian Highlanders. Niall finds the lass nigh irresistible as well, but he won’t make the mistake his father did in marrying an Englishwoman who doesn’t like the Highlands. Does he have what it takes to win her heart? There is only one way to find out…

My Review: I quickly got the lay of the land with Agnus’s three sons.  He had taught them well.  Anything England had to offer had no value, including their mother, Francesca. But the die had been cast, an agreement made 17 years ago could not be ignored.  To do so, their very home in the Highlands would be in peril—a home they loved with everything the MacTaggerts held dear.

In belligerent moods, they enter London, meet their sire and continue acting the ruffians. By their efforts, they hope to goad Francesca into giving up her claim let them return home unwed and happy.  They were firm.  They would not marry an English lass, who was not but a milksop.

Coll, the older lad and heir to the lairdship was the most demonstrative—he’s a fighter first, thinks second. His head was the first to roll.  He would choose when and who he wants to marry, if at all, on his own time. Coll doesn’t want a marriage in the true sense of the word.  Marry the woman, leave her in English and trot back to the Highlands.  However, Francesca has chosen for him, Amelia-Rose, a woman who has spirit, someone she feels could have a fighting chance with Coll. 

Francesca’s parents wanted her to marry a title—they would choose.  Hence, she is very much in the same predicament as the Highlanders.  Francesca wants to please her parents, but she can’t be other than what she is.  She’s an intelligent, quick-witted woman who lives in a society where these traits are ill looked upon, by the English and by her betrothed, Coll.  Should she accept her fate?

Not all the brothers are made of the same cloth.  Niall, the more sensitive, the negotiator in the family, does his best to keep peace, trying to keep his brothers in line so they retain their Highland property, to placate Francesca as much as he could stomach, and to keep Coll’s betrothal from saying she wants no part of this marriage.

Along with her sharp tongue and speaking her mind, he discovers Amelia is interesting, intriguing, has backbone, and his humorous. 

The story plot is sound, the characters are engaging, with some very fun scenes.  Of course, I gravitated to Niall. He is the charmer of the group and appears to look out for those he loves. 

The dialogue is nicely paced.  Francesca and Elinor are English through and through and their vocabulary and mannerism match the London setting.  The three lads are completely out of place in London.  They are angry and it is apparent in their manner and dialogue.  They know it and don’t care. Of course, this makes a good read and I snicker reading many a scene.

Bottom Line:  If you like your reads with men and women who know what they want and set out to do it, society be damned, you will enjoy the story. These Highlander lads show promise.  They are growing on me as they are for Francesca. But the question remains: Can all three sons find an English wife? And will they find themselves happy?

 Buy-Book link: https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250296375

 

Suzanne EnochAuthor Bio:

A native and current resident of Southern California, Suzanne Enoch loves movies almost as much as she loves books, with a special place in her heart for anything Star Wars. She has written more than forty Regency novels and historical romances, which are regularly found on the New York Times bestseller list. When she is not busily working on her next book, Suzanne likes to contemplate interesting phenomena, like how the three guppies in her aquarium became 161 guppies in five months.
Some of Suzanne’s books include Barefoot In The Dark, Its Getting Scot in Here, Lady Whistledown Strikes Back and The Legend of Nimway Hall.

 

Giveaway (for U.S. residents only): To have a chance to win a copy of this book, please comment below why you enjoy Highlander reads or this particular author.

Posted in Book Reviews, Highland Romance, Highland Stories, Historical Romance, New Book Release | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Dialogue from the point of view of Valerie Gilbert, narrator, musician, actress and mystic–a gifted individual.

valerie 1

Valerie Gilbert is the author of four books on personal growth, magic and mysticism, Raving Violet, Memories, Dreams & Deflections, Swami Soup, and Brilliance Brewing and the narrator of 127 audiobooks on Audible. She is currently writing her 5th book on using affirmations to raise your vibration. valeriegilbert.weebly.com, ravingvioletvalerie.blogspot.com

 

Me: It is always a pleasure to talk with you and I thank you for agreeing to discuss the craft of dialogue.  I marvel at your ability to use your voice in dialogue — your character personifications are so real. And now I take this opportunity to say how I have enjoyed listening to all your books and look forward to you finishing your fifth.

In talking about dialogue, I, as a reader, find it vitally important to the enjoyment of a story.  I think that is why I enjoy listening to a good story when it is produced by a savvy narrator.  The narrator either magnifies the perfection and imperfection of a character or doesn’t.  Dialogue allows the reader to hear from the horse’s mouth how he/she is dealing with the challenges presented to him/her, rather than being told in the narrative part of the writing. What more truth is there to the reader than to hear it from the character himself/herself? And now the questions!

How does dialogue affect the pacing of a story? Please define for our readers what pacing is.

valerieWell, pacing is the movement and flow of a story.  If you think of a piece of music, a symphony, different sections move at different tempos.  The same with life, and it’s the shifts that contribute to intrigue.  If everything was super slow throughout a story, or super fast, it would be dull.

Story is really the most important aspect of a work, what happens and why. Dialogue is but one expression of how the characters behave. The other is their action.  Words are important, but we also know that they can deceive.  If a person’s words and actions are not in alignment, the person has no integrity.  Dialogue is really the frosting on the cake, in my opinion.  How the character is conceived and fleshed out, that’s the cake.

How do you choose the voice of a character?  

I valeriethink the characters choose for themselves.  Most actors have an instinctive take on characters, yet all actors will have different takes on the same character. However, over time, whether rehearsing a play, performing in a film, or recording an audiobook, characters and their voices, evolve.  Look at early Peanuts cartoons versus Peanuts years into production, there is great growth. This is inevitable and good.  No artist remains static.  I’ll find my character’s voices change over the course of an audiobook narration because my character development is evolving through performance over time.

An author may well find the same thing.  The more you write a character, the more they come to life.  With any luck, your characters will take on a life of their own as you’re writing a novel. I’ve written four books, but they are non-fiction, so I can’t comment on character dialogue.  On the other hand, my voice as an author has evolved in the process of continued writing.  It’s inevitable that you grow as an artist, and if you’re worth your salt, it’s inevitable that your characters will evolve if you’re writing fiction. The only way to get better at anything is to do it. Get in the trenches.

Every actor will have a different take on a character, though some interpretations may seem similar. Authors have characters’ voices in their head, and narrators will have to come close to the author’s vision for an audiobook.  Or, change the author’s mind.  In film, theatre, and TV, the author (unless they’re heavy hitters) has little to no say in who is cast, and the director may change her mind about a character’s depiction based on who auditions.  Actors bring the words to life.  On the other hand, some readers like to flesh out characters in their own minds, which I totally understand.


How do you develop a good ear for knowing the words and tone and even regional vernacular is right in a scene of dialogue?

valerieI’m not sure you can develop a good ear.  I think you have it, or you don’t.  No matter who you are, you can learn to play the violin, to paint, etc.  But those with natural ability will grow rapidly while others will plod along. Dialogue is very musical, and because I am trained as a musician, and have natural rhythmic and musical ability, it does help with performance.  People with no flow will not be good musicians or actors. Everything is about rhythm.  Good storytelling has everything to do with pacing, whether you’re writing or performing.


Why is dialogue so important in a good story?

valerieIt’s what brings characters to life!

That it does, Valerie.  It helps set the mood or tone of the story, gets the emotions flowing when done well.  I love to cry when it’s sad and ready to champion the protagonist when he/she is indignant or angry about a wrong.

I would say dialogue is very adaptable and can aid an ailing story.  It is like an herb which cures and improves many maladies of the body. If your characters need better fleshing out, look to dialogue.  If your story is moving to slow or not fast enough, look to dialogue. If a scene needs tightening up, look to dialogue.  Although, Gloria Kempton, who writes for Writer’s Digest, says that dialogue should be used as a means to an end and not an end for its own sake. That is to say, dialogue should move the story forward. Thank you for joining Valerie and me today.  If you are interested in hearing samples of Valerie narrate, I have attached a link to take you to an earlier post here at Booktalk with Eileen where she discusses her work and thoughts about narration, in general. https://wp.me/p40XtX-3pT 

I have one more post on dialogue crafting before I shift gears–next month discussing character building.

Posted in Guest Audiobook Narrator, Interviewing authors, Novel Development, On Becoming a Writer, Valerie gilbert | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Interview with Best-Selling Author of 80 + Books — Elizabeth Rose

If you haven’t met this author here is a quick bio:

Elizabeth Rose

Elizabeth Rose is the bestselling author of 80 books and counting. She writes medieval, historical, contemporary, paranormal, and western romance. She is an amazon all-star, and a multi-time award finalist. Her books appear as ebooks, print, and some audiobooks as well.

Her favorite characters in her works include dark, dangerous and tortured heroes, and feisty, independent heroines who know how to wield a sword. She loves writing 14th century medievals, and is known for her medieval series.

Elizabeth started out over twenty years ago as a traditionally published author. But life takes it twists and turns and after losing her day job she decided to try her hand at Indie publishing.

She started self-publishing, creating her own covers and her own booktrailers on a dare from her two sons and has accomplished great feats in the last few years. She loves anything paranormal and is inspired by spending time in nature. Elizabeth has a secret garden that serves as her outdoor office where she writes in the summer. This same secret garden inspired her latest series, Secrets of the Heart, and is the setting of these books.

Elizabeth’s website is: http://elizabethrosenovels.com where you will find book trailers, sneak peeks at upcoming covers, excerpts from her books, as well as original recipes of food that her characters eat in her stories.

If you’d like to sign up for her newsletter, join her private readers’ group, or follow her on social media, just copy and paste the following links.

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/89482.Elizabeth_Rose
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ElizabethRoseNovels/
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/elizabethroseno/?eq=elizabeth%20rose&etslf=6492
Twitter: https://twitter.com/ElizRoseNovels
Newsletter: http://bit.ly/ERoseNewsletter
Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/elizabeth-rose
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Elizabeth-Rose/e/B001K7X946/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1523824132&sr=8-1
Readers’ Group
https://www.facebook.com/groups/1069264379873015/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/elizabethroseauthor/
Series by Elizabeth Rose:
Secrets of the Heart
Seasons of Fortitude
Legendary Bastards of the Crown
Second in Command
Holiday Knights
Tangled Tales
Barons of the Cinque Ports
Legacy of the Blade
Daughters of the Dagger
MadMan MacKeefe
Elemental Series
Greek Myth Fantasy
Tarnished Saints
Cowboys of the Old West
Once Upon a Rhyme
Sweet Nothings
A Look Behind the Series

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

 

Me: How are character and dialogue intertwined?

Elizabeth:  The dialogue tells a lot about a character. How they talk, the words they use, etc. A lot of times you don’t need to use tags because just by their words you can tell who is talking. For example, if I have a Scot and an Englishman talking, there is no doubt.

Me: I pulled some dialogue from Book 1, Secrets of the Heart Series. Not only does this exchange between Maira, Fia, and Willow show something of the characters’s fear, but  also shows who is the stronger-willed of the three.

“We shouldna be here,” warned Fia. “We need to go.”

“Quit fretting, Fia,” scoffed her cousin, Maira. “I don’t believe we are in any danger.”

“Hello, girls,” called out a voice from over by the shed.

“Fia’s right. We had better go,” blurted Willow, jumping off the swing and high-tailing it for her horse.

“Nay, I want to see who it is.” Maira got to her feet and started in the opposite direction.

Me: What, as a writer, is the criteria you use so each character’s dialogue is right for him/her?

Elizabeth: It really just depends. A noble will speak quite different than a peasant. A woman will speak differently than a man. I usually hear the voices in my head when I write and let the characters say what they will.

Me: How does dialogue affect the pacing of a story? Please define for our readers what pacing is.

Elizabeth: Dialogue picks up the pace and makes the story go faster. Big blocks of narrative have very little white space on a page. It slows the eye down while reading. If there is too much of it together on a page, it can bore the reader.

Dialogue usually has a lot of white space on the page and therefore the eye moves faster. When someone is speaking, you often have shorter sentences than in a paragraph of descriptive narrative.

Think how people really talk. A lot of times it is in fragmented sentences. I love writing dialogue and can go a long time with no narrative at all. I have to force myself to slow down the story at times to add the narrative and description into the story. (Maybe I should be a screenwriter?)

Me: Do you use metaphors and similes in your writing, such as describing a character’s voice?

Elizabeth: Yes, I am sure all authors do this. It helps the reader visualize what something looks, feels, smells, or sounds like.

Me: How real should dialogue be? Does dialogue in story mirror our dialogue in life?

Elizabeth: Good question. I would like it to mirror dialogue in our life. As I said earlier, we tend to talk in fragmented sentences and one or two-word answers. Of course, when writing a medieval, I can’t always get away with that so I need to do a little of both.

Me: How do you get across the tone used in dialogue since tone many times makes all the difference in the meaning?

For me, it comes across in those clipped one-word sentences. Sometimes just the word, “Really” said by a character can mean so much. It could mean disbelief. It could also mean amazement, or possibly a word to convince someone of something. Another thing it could mean is “You’ve got to be kidding.” It just depends on the conversation, what is said and who is saying it. See what I mean?

Me: Yes, I can see that. Since the author has given the reader a feel for the actual character of the speaker, with the situation where the dialogue takes place and the emotion involved in the speakers, the tone should be easily understood.

Me: I have been told that dialogue can also express a hidden subtext. Do you ever use this tool, and can you explain what is meant by subtext?

Elizabeth: By subtext, we are talking about the unspoken thoughts and motives of the characters. What they are not saying, even if they are saying something else. This isn’t always easy to do in writing, therefore body actions added in narrative to the dialogue help to get the idea across to the readers.

Me: How do you let the reader know your characters sound different?

Elizabeth: Through choice of words, I suppose. I love audiobooks and have 40 of my books in audio now. My narrators are wonderful with the different voices so that really helps.

Me: Do you think using dialogue as an opening sentence of a story impactful?  Why?

Elizabeth: Yes, I do because it immediately draws the reader into the story, making them want to know more.

Authors only have about ten seconds to capture a reader’s attention. If not, the reader might put down the book and pick up another one.

Here is dialogue as an opening sentence to my book Lady Renegade.

Keep that bairned bitch of yers quiet, Storm.” Chieftain Ian MacKeefe’s hoarse whisper came through gritted teeth.

So you see, I could be talking about a pregnant woman, but it’s really a pregnant dog. Still, it gains interest and the reader has to read on to find out the answer.

Me: How difficult is it to write dialogue from ages past?

Elizabeth: As an author, I take liberty to write the dialogue the way I think it best fits the story. If I were to write medieval dialogue in Old English, it would be hard to read and frustrating for the readers who want to just relax and get lost in a story.

Sometimes my dialogue might seem a little modern, but it is the way I choose to write it. I am still careful to say “mayhap” instead of “maybe” and not to use words that weren’t around until hundreds of years later. But for the most part, I want my story to flow and the readers not to get caught up in dialogue they don’t understand. It is the choice of the author how to write it.

Me: I’m sure if you were to write in Old English the reader would get bogged down.  Where dialogue would quicken the pace, that type of dialogue would stop the reader in her tracks. As long as there is the occasional ‘reminder’ there is a language difference, that is good enough for the reader.  For example, if the characters are speaking French, it is obvious the whole dialogue can’t be in French, but a ‘merci’ here, and a ‘oui’ there will do the trick!

Me: Do your characters swear?

Elizabeth: Hell yeah! Ooops, I mean yes. I tend to have my heroes swear unless I am writing a sweet romance of course. BUT, I will NEVER use the F word. If you see that in my book, then it isn’t my book because I will never write it.

For the medieval characters the swearing is a little different. “God’s eyes,” “Bid the devil,” or “By the Rood,” are some you will hear because that is how they swore back then. Of course, with a few words we use now thrown in as well.

Me: What do you think about speech tags?  Is using tags such as said, asked, replied enough?  What about tags such as muttered, whimpered, whispered, stuttered?  What is their place in describing dialogue?

Elizabeth: I am always looking for more creative tags. Sometimes tags are not needed, but I don’t like to go too long in a conversation without them because it could get confusing fast. I try not to use the same tag too many times too close together. This is really noticeable in an audiobook, so I have to be careful.

Me: How much time do you spend rewriting dialogue, particularly taking part of the story from narrative into dialogue

Elizabeth: I am kind of the queen of dialogue, so I find myself having to add more narrative rather than dialogue. To be honest, I hear the characters in my head and write it down. Sometimes they tend to get chatty.

Excerpt from Highland Secrets – Book 1, Secrets of the Heart Series

Highland Secrets (Secrets of the Heart #1)

Fia quickly entered the garden with Maira and Willow right behind her. After dismounting, the girls stood in awe with their mouths wide open, not able to believe their find. What had looked like nothing but some shrubs against a hill to hide behind, turned out to be a beautiful hidden world of flowers, benches, trellises, and archways covered with climbing, flowering vines.

Fia took a deep breath and held it. Her senses tingled from the sweet smell of roses in colors of white, pink and red that were so large they were the size of her hand. Birds chirped happily overhead, flying from tree to tree and landing in arched trellises. Square, raised beds of plants filled the secret space. Taking a closer look, Fia realized they were herbs and vegetables. The patches of dirt were separated by fences made from branches woven together.

A carpet of bluebells spread out behind the raised beds and stopped at the foot of an enchanting cottage constructed of wattle and daub. Next to the cabin was a small shed with an open door that housed gardening tools. Attached to the house was a stable big enough for one horse. In it stood an old, black mare. Fia thought the surroundings looked like something out of a fairy tale.

“I feel like I’m in a dream world,” said Willow, sniffing a rose and gently caressing the silky petals with her fingertips.

“I have never seen anything like this,” replied Maira. She tied the reins of her horse to a tree and started down the winding stone pathway leading through the mystical garden.

“There is a cottage and a horse. Someone lives here,” Fia told them in a voice no louder than a whisper. “How could this be here?”

“We never came this far into the woods before.” Maira made her way over to a wooden swing big enough for two people and took a seat. The swing was suspended between two arches that had grapevines covering a trellis over her head. She pushed off slightly with her feet and giggled. Willow rushed over and plopped down on the seat right next to her.

“We shouldna be here,” warned Fia. “We need to go.”

“Quit fretting, Fia,” scoffed her cousin, Maira. “I don’t believe we are in any danger.”

“Hello, girls,” called out a voice from over by the shed.

“Fia’s right. We had better go,” blurted Willow, jumping off the swing and high-tailing it for her horse.

“Nay, I want to see who it is.” Maira got to her feet and started in the opposite direction.

“Maira!” Fia rushed after her cousin and tried to stop her. “We dinna belong here.”

“On the contrary, girls, I have been waiting for you to arrive for years now.” An old woman stepped out of the shadows, smiling at the girls as she made her way over to them. She was tall and had graying hair pulled back behind her head. She wore a long, brown gown with a green kirtle. In her hands, she held a pair of work gloves covered in dirt.

Fia was getting ready to run when she noticed the heart-shaped brooch on the woman’s bodice. “It’s you,” she said with a gasp, now knowing it was the woman she’d seen in the dying king’s chamber. Her hand shot to the heart-shaped brooch pinned on her own chest.

“Do you know her?” asked Willow curiously, walking back to join her cousins.

“I saw her five years ago in the king’s chamber on the day he died.”

“Who are you?” Maira bravely stepped in front of her cousins protectively.

“Come and sit down, girls.” The woman smiled and pointed to a small knoll of grass near the shed where the sun shone down warmly. Then she looked over the girls’ shoulders as if something took her interest. “You might as well come join us too, Morag,” she called out.

“Morag?” Fia spun around to see her younger sister sitting atop a horse, peering into the secret garden through the open gate. Fia groaned and shook her head. “Morag, I told ye to stay back at the keep.”

“What is this place?” asked Morag, sliding off her horse and entering the garden.

“It’s the queen’s secret garden,” the woman told them. “I am Imanie, the queen’s keeper of secrets as well as her master gardener.”

“Queen? What queen?” asked Maira in confusion.

“Why, Queen Philippa, of course,” Imanie answered with a kind smile.

“But the queen is dead,” stated Willow. “She has been dead since I was a toddler.”

Fia noticed the look of wisdom in Imanie’s two-toned green and yellow eyes as the woman answered. “She might be gone from this world, but her secrets live on.” She settled herself in the grass and nodded for them to sit as well.

“Why should we believe you?” asked Maira, plunking down on the ground without even looking where she was sitting.

“Because it’s the truth.” Fia took off her crown and placed it on the ground in front of her as she sat crossed-legged next to Maira. “I believe this has somethin’ to do with the crowns and the brooches and what the queen had planned for us, doesna it?”

“You are right,” said Imanie.

“Did she have somethin’ planned for me, too?” Morag squeezed in between Fia and Willow.

“Morag, ye are no’ the eldest daughter,” Fia reminded her. “King Edward told us on his deathbed that the queen left the crowns and brooches only for our faithers’ eldest girls.”

“That’s right,” said Imanie. “Philippa wanted the king’s bastard triplets’ eldest daughters to join her secret order, but you can stay and watch, Morag.”

“A secret order?” asked Willow. “How so?”

Imanie’s eyes twinkled with excitement. “Did you girls know that when your fathers were born, the king ordered them killed because they were triplets?”

“We do,” said Fia. “Everyone kens that.”

“Mayhap so.” Imanie nodded in agreement. “But not everyone knows it was Philippa who saved their lives that day. She did it against the king’s orders and in secret. He didn’t know about it until many years later.”

 

Excerpt from Lady of the Mist – Book 4, Lega35606294cy of the Blade Series:

 

Devonshire, England 1330

 

The fishing boat set course during the night with the squalling of a newborn babe causing every man on deck to want to throw the damned thing overboard.

“Cap’n, why do we have a babe aboard?” asked Sebastian, the first mate. He was a boy of six and ten summers. Sebastian covered his ears and shook his head trying to block out the screeching noise.

Captain Powell ap Llyr handed the wailing infant over to Sebastian who gathered it into his arms reluctantly.

“My wife, Gwyneth, saw ta stealin’ more than just jewels this time,” the captain answered. He peered through the darkness to see his wife and the boy, William, rowing away quickly, trying to escape the castles’ guards. He’d collected the boy baby she’d called Madoc, and left her with the twin baby girl she’d called Echo. Then he’d abandoned her and William – forever. “The stupid wench!” he growled. Of all the treacherous and deceitful things they’d accomplished through the years, this was by far the most ill conceived.

He never should have let Gwyneth convince him to take her thieving in the first place. Women were worthless. Everyone knew that. And any man not willing to do what he’d instructed was worthless as well, and would be killed. Aye, he thought, if he hadn’t had morals, he would have just killed his wife and be done with it all by now.

For over a year now he’d been thieving not only on land, but also on water. He used the disguise of his fishing boat to plunder merchant ships on their way to port. ’Twas a way of life. And soon, he planned on taking over the waters. But none of these men had what it took to pirate. Not really. What he needed was a son to meld into a strong, savvy, heartless, swindling crimp. With those traits, the boy would turn out to be the most successful pirate to ever ride the waves.

Aye. He needed someone just like himself. Although his wife had never been able to bear him a child, now he had what he wanted without her. His addled wife’s ill deed worked right into his plan. And when the soldiers caught her and William, ’twould slow them down enough that he’d make his escape to safety. Gwyneth and William would most likely be sentenced to death, but so be it.

Good riddance, he thought. He’d had enough of Gwyneth and the milksop boy. He never should have taken in the orphan, but his wife convinced him to do it. But now, he was at risk of being hanged, drawn, and quartered for what they had done. Stealing noble babies was not what he’d instructed them to do. They were supposed to steal jewels from Blake Castle only. But after tonight, he wouldn’t have to worry about that anymore. Because he was finished with the annoying barnacle on his neck and the trouble she’d caused. He had plans in his life, and the wench was only going to bring his dreams and aspirations to an end.

“Arrrgh,” he grumbled. “It matters not,” he spoke more to himself than to his first mate. “All I care about is that I have a son ta raise now. I’ll teach the lad my craft. Someday, he will take my place at the helm and pillage the seas even better than me.”

“What is this?” Sebastian held up the baby’s hand where a small gold baby ring with the eagle crest of Blake Castle was engraved upon it. It was held onto the baby’s wrist by a thin piece of yarn. The newborn cried louder.

The captain knew they might be able to escape any ship the soldiers sent in pursuit, but getting lost in the mist was not an option with the sound of those lungs. It would only lead their pursuers right to them.

“Silence that damned thing, or I’ll take care of it myself,” he growled.

His first mate tried to bounce and rock the baby, but with no results. “Perhaps, ’tis hungry or soiled its swaddlin’,” he shouted over the noise.

“Let me at it.” The captain pulled out his dagger and reached toward the baby. Sebastian’s eyes grew wide and he instinctively pulled back. Then the captain used his dagger to cut the yarn on the baby’s arm. He held up the ring in the moonlight, surveying it.

“What do ye think it is?” the boy asked, trying to calm the child.

“’Tis my marker ta a wealthy future,” the captain answered.

“Oh, aye,” said his first mate. “That should be worth plenty once ye sell it.”

“Nay, this I cannot sell. ’Tis my proof the boy is noble. After I train him and he brings me wealth by pillagin’, I will reveal his secret and he will bring me wealth sittin’ on a dais as well. Or mayhap, I’ll just ransom him for gold. Either way, I will win in the end.”

“I think the babe needs its swaddlin’ changed,” commented Sebastian.

“Then do it!” he barked the order.

“Aye, Cap’n.” Sebastian looked around, then laid the baby on top of a storage barrel. For lack of a swaddling, he removed his chaperon headgear, intending to use it in its place. He opened the baby’s soiled swaddling and gasped. “Ye ain’t goin’ ta like this, Cap’n. I think yer wife is the one ta win after all.”

“What do ye mean?” He walked over to Sebastian to see what he meant. One look to the baby’s nether regions, and anger pumped through his veins. “That damned wench! I shoulda just killed her after all. And tell me, what in the devil’s name am I supposed ta do with a wretched baby girl?”

Posted in Elizabeth Rose, Interviewing authors, Medieval Romance, Novel Development, On Becoming a Writer | Tagged , | 2 Comments

ON WRITING: A MEMOIR OF THE CRAFT by Stephen King ~ easy-to-read. Its shortness is deceptive. Full of great advice and pointers! Join me in my journey of learning to write a novel.

10569Continuing my quest to learn all about the craft of writing, I picked up a book recommended to me by Diana Cosby, written by Stephen King.  I knew him as a great writer, but now I feel I almost know him as a person.

In On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft he mixes humor with the angst of his story of becoming published. He shares much of his early years, his struggle finding his place in the writing genre of choice, and some worthy thoughts on writing a novel.

His writing is impactful, in-your-face truths, and told with candor. Laced with humor in getting the idea across created an informative and entertaining read.  If you are starting out as a writer, this is one book you should read.

Following are some points which snagged my attention.  I took five pages of notes on this book and am only sharing some of them with you.

Every writer should consider getting a copy of The Elements of Style by William Strunk J. and E.B. White.  Rule 17 in the book states “Omit needless words”.  He then shows us what he is talking about.

There is no place you can pick up a good idea. He uses the words Idea Dump or Story Central.  His ideas just come from nowhere.  When two such ideas intermix, you then have a new idea – your idea. Everyone has ideas, but he says it is the writer’s job to ‘recognize’ them when they appear. Again, he provides examples.

King talks about predictability.  Don’t write with predictable events.  They bore the reader.

proof and editI like his ideas about the length of a story. He shared what was an eye opener for him calling it the Rewrite Formula.  I’m going to combine another of his ideas with this.  When you write your first draft, work alone, close the door to the world and work with your muse (he suggests everyone should have him/her) who is imaginary, but real to you.  Write the first draft.  In the Rewrite Formula you should try for a 10% cut of what you wrote.  There are good words, words which get in the way, and words of no merit at all.  Cut those words which get in the way and words which don’t propel the story forward—extraneous baggage, if you will.

When you feel the story is what you want, open the door.  Let others read it, critique it – he says it belongs to any who want to read it. Be open to their comments.  Try giving the manuscript to the Ideal Reader — the type of person you think your story will resonate with.

I love this quote from King:

“For me writing has always been best when it’s intimate, as sexy as skin on skin.”  skin to skin

To me this means your writing should have a sensual feeling, seeking the core of the emotions which simmer to the top. A writer needs to intimately touch the feelings of the reader.

King mentions we shouldn’t approach writing lightly.  We should focus, have goals and stick to it even with many bumps in the road.

“You can approach the act of writing with nervousness, excitement, hopefulness, or even despair—the sense that you can never completely put on the page what’s in the mind and heart.  Come to it any way but lightly.”

Each writer should have a toolbox.  The top layer is vocabulary, grammar, and elements of style.  He said not to worry about vocabulary.  What there is use it and don’t be concerned about adding more tools.

“Remember that the basic rule of vocabulary is use the first word that comes to your mind if it is appropriate and colorful.”

Grammar is something very important to get right.

“Unless he is certain of doing well, (the writer) will probably do best to follow the rules.” Grammar is not just a pain in the ass; it’s the pole you grab to set your thoughts up on their feet and walking.”

A major no-no is using the passive tense.  He says it sounds weak and timid, and I believe it does.  

Passive-Voice-in-English-1

 

Another no-no is using adverbs, you know, words with ‘ly’ endings, such as really, resignedly, courageously.  Rewrite the sentence with another action verb to get the thought across or use some narrative to indicate how the character feels.

adverbs

“The road to hell is paved with adverbs. They are like dandelions. If you have one on your lawn, it looks pretty and unique. If you fail to root it out, however, you find five the next day…fifty the day after…and then, my brothers and sisters, your lawn is totally, completely, and profligately covered with dandelions.  Adverb attributions are poorly used.”

King uses the ‘ly’ adverbs in the above paragraph to flaunt his words about not using ‘ly’ adverbs.  He has a great sense of humor which makes the read fun.

“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things about all others: read a lot and write a lot. There’s no way around these two things that I’m aware of, no shortcut.”

Description makes the reader participate in what he reads.  When using description, use it sparingly, just enough that the reader can visualize her/his surroundings.  They will fill in the rest of the scene setting.  If the description is too little, the reader cannot anchor herself/himself within the scene.  He says that you shouldn’t get so caught up in writing description.  For you as a writer, it’s important, and not for the reader.  The story is what is important.

He also talks about dialogue – a story component which I’m focusing on this month. It is the mechanism left to the writer to show us, rather than tell how the characters speak or think. Internal dialogue is also an important part of getting to the core of the character.  There are things the character will say, but he’s thinking something else.  I love this quote because it’s funny and truth!

“Well-crafted dialogue will indicate if a character is smart or dumb.”

Back story may get long and drawn out.  Where once again, the writer, must know the backstory and research needed to write the story, he needn’t add it all to the story.  Only add backstory which is pertinent to the unfolding of the tale, providing understanding to the reader.

I leave you with this quote:

Writing isn’t about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid, or making friends. In the end, it’s about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life, as well. It’s about getting up, getting well, and getting over. Getting happy, okay? Getting happy. Some of this book—perhaps too much—has been about how I learned to do it. Much of it has been about how you can do it better. The rest of it—and perhaps the best of it—is a permission slip: you can, you should, and if you’re brave enough to start, you will. Writing is magic, as much the water of life as any other creative art. The water is free. So drink. 

Drink and be filled up.

 

Posted in Book Reviews, Memoir, Novel Development, On Becoming a Writer | Tagged , , | 2 Comments