Friday, October 23, 2009

Odds And Ends

Recently, I had two wonderful romance authors visiting with us Over Coffee. Amelia Grey, October 13th and Anna Campbell, October 21st. Both offered prizes of their books to commenters of the day.

My mystical faerie, Lady Brianna, is happy to announce those winners. Don't mind her mischievous expression or her mussed hair. Brie has been frolicking with my hunky Scot and consequently is quite satisfied with herself and said Scot. Something about loving a tough Scots in chains, or was that with chains...hmmm, well whatever. She's shameless. I like that about her, lol!

Amelia Grey offered two books from her Rogue's Dynasty Series:

A Duke to Die For

What is a roguish young nobleman supposed to do with a shockingly lovely young ward?

The Duke of Blakewell believes he'd better marry her off as soon as possible, before he gives in to temptation himself...

But Henrietta doesn't want a husband— she wants her independence...
  • Sure that she carries a curse that killed her previous guardians, Henrietta just wants the duke to sign over her inheritance before something terrible befalls him...

And book two:

A Marquis To Marry

Alexander Mitchell Raceworth, the dashing fourth Marquis of Raceworth, is shocked when the alluring young Duchess of Brookfield accuses him of stealing priceless pearls belonging to her family.
  • Susannah Brookfield is the most beautiful, enchanting woman he has ever met, but despite his attraction, he's not about to hand over the pearls. Though suspicion and mistrust drive them apart when the pearls are stolen, Race suggests they pool their resources to recover them.
If they do find them, will they finally be able to give in to love, or will the truth of the elusive necklace tear them apart once and for all?
  • Congratulations to:
Carolyn Goff
Terry Dubbs

We had a very lively discussion with Anna Campbell on October 21st. Anna said, "My favorite comment wins a signed copy of my new release, CAPTIVE OF SIN! Good luck!"

Captive of Sin

He pledged his honor to keep her safe...

Returning home to Cornwall after unspeakable tragedy, Sir Gideon Trevithick comes upon a defiant beauty in danger, and vows to protect her whatever the cost. He's dismayed to discover that she's none other than Lady Charis Weston, England's wealthiest heiress-and that the only way to save her from the violent stepbrothers determined to steal her fortune is to wed her himself! Now Gideon must hide the dark secrets of his life from the bride he desires more with every heartbeat.

She promised to show him how to love - and desire - again...

Charis has heard all about Gideon, the dangerously handsome hero with the mysterious past. She's grateful for his help, but utterly unwilling to endure a marriage of convenience-especially to a man whose touch leaves her breathless. Desperate to drive him mad with passion, she would do anything to make Gideon lose control-and fall captive to irresistible, undeniable sin.

Congratulations to:

Kat Sheridan

Congratulations Winners!!

Next Week's Over Coffee guests (and more goodies):

  • Cindy McGary-The Treasures of Venice

Judi Fennell-Wild Blue Under Review and interview.

  • Book Recommedations:

  • A Journal for Jordan, Dana Canedy
  • Dawn's Prelude by Inspirational Fiction author, Tracie Peterson Book 1 in the all new Song of Alaska series

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

It Takes a Village to Write a Book!

It truly is a pleasure to have award winning romance author, Anna Campbell, as a guest with us Over Coffee. What impresses me about Anna, aside from her stories, is her generosity of spirit towards helping other authors and writers. I must say she has been a great source of encouragement and help to me. :-)

I knew it had taken Anna some time to get published, but had no idea how long. Her topic struck a cord with me; how alone a new writer can feel without support, encouragement, and feedback from other writers.

Anna, I’m so glad to finally have you here, Over Coffee.

Hi, everyone! Hi Sia! Thanks so much for inviting me to talk about something writerly over coffee.

I’m eagerly counting down the days until my fourth historical romance hits the stands on 27th October. CAPTIVE OF SIN is a marriage of convenience story with a Regency noir twist. You can read the blurb and an excerpt here. And here’s a really lovely trailer that Vanessa Barneveld, a friend of mine, made for the book: Captive Sin.

In the meantime, I want to talk about how no writer is an island. The title is a slight exaggeration – if the village is going to write this book for me, I wish it would turn up a bit more often and take over the hard work! But nonetheless, it’s not that much of an exaggeration.

I recently handed in the final version of my latest story, which Avon will release next June as My Reckless Surrender. Cool title, huh? Part of that process was writing my dedication and acknowledgments page. That’s something I always enjoy doing. I started to think about how the people around me, who support me in this crazy and often difficult journey, are one of the best bits of the writers’ life.

I spent many, many years unpublished. And for a lot of that time, I was completely on my own. I didn’t know anyone writing romance. Heck, I hardly knew anyone who even read romance! So I spent a lot of time reinventing the wheel or going off on completely false tangents.

Then around 2000, I joined Romance Writers of Australia and in 2001, I went to my first RWOz conference. Well, my life changed at that moment and at last I started making some real progress towards getting published. Not only that, I met people who now number among my best friends. They understand my passion for romance fiction. They understand the wild ups and downs of life as a pre-published author (and now as a published author – the rollercoaster ride is still as crazy!). We cheered each other’s successes, commiserated with each other’s disappointments, encouraged each other through the slumps.

So suddenly I wasn’t Robinson Crusoe anymore! And what an amazing feeling that was.

Since then, I’ve joined Romance Writers of America and Romance Writers of New Zealand. I’ve met an enormous number of wonderful people through the Internet. And I can’t express how grateful I am for the friendships I’ve made.

When you set out to be a published writer, there’s very little you can control, apart from the quality of your writing. You can’t control the market, you can’t control whether an editor or agent will like your work, you can’t control whether you’ll final in a contest. You might be one of the (very few) lucky ones who publishes their first or second manuscript. You might be like me and take 27 years before you get a publishing contract. So the journey could be arduously long. But however long the journey is, I think one thing you can control is how to make that journey rewarding. The friends I made along the way certainly did that for me. I thank each and every one of you.

These days, I often do workshops for aspiring writers. One piece of advice I always give them is to join a romance writer’s organization. There are so many pluses to interacting with people who understand what you want and what you’re going through to achieve it.

Of course, there’s all the other stuff you learn from these organizations. There’s market information and writing skills and professional tips, not to mention they run contests that help you improve your skills and might just get you a sale.

But the best bit by far is the friends you make. They’re worth their weight in RITA awards!

I’m sure I’m speaking to the converted here, but just in case you want the websites:

So do you belong to a writing organization or group? How have you benefited? What would be the one piece of advice you gave an aspiring writer?

My favorite comment wins a signed copy of my new release, CAPTIVE OF SIN! Good luck!
Anna Campbell decided to become a writer shortly after she learned to walk. Then she discovered romance novels and realized she just had to be a romance writer and tell stories about love and hope and triumph through adversity, not forgetting gorgeous, passionate men. After various jobs and as much travel as she could afford, including a stay of several years in the United Kingdom, Anna has now settled near the sea on the east coast of Australia.
Anna's Website.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Coffee With My Characters!

My guest, Over Coffee, is Glenys O'Connell. She has worn many hats in her career, a journalist covering the crime beat on daily newspapers in the UK and Canada, cognitive behavioral counselor in private practice, writing instructor, and an author. Glenys writes fiction, non-fiction, children's books and is an awarding winning playwright.

Glenys' topic today, is the psychology of building good characters in our writing.

Characters make our books – they're the ones who make us laugh, cry, angry, sad. We root for the hero and heroine, yell mean things at the villain – or maybe even have a sneaking admiration for him – and develop a soft spot of minor characters.

And the characters readers love can surprise you. I just received a really good review of Resort to Murder, and there was no doubt that the reviewer loved one character in particular – Tuesday the Stray Dog. Go figure! In fact, Tuesday seems to have his own little fan base and I'll be putting his story up on my website a little later.

Like many characters, Tuesday was based on a real dog. Most writers base characters' behaviour, voices, habits, mannerisms, etc., on people they have met, worked with, sat on a bus next to, spent time in the airport lounge with, sat in class with, or seen on television or at the movies. Remember that all your friends and relatives will be trying to identify themselves in your work, so disguise your characters well!

You can also use magazines to help build your characters – read interviews with celebs and other people who have been written up.

Often characters spring fully-grown into your mind, so clear you can just about reach out and touch them – or at least call them on the mind-phone. That's great at the beginning of the story, but often the familiarity with the characters starts to fade as we continue along, and other characters join in. How to avoid this?

Get to know your characters.

Build them from the ground up, but do it subtly – let them reveal themselves to you just as a new acquaintance would. You meet someone and they seem really sophisticated and distant. But a couple of meetings later, you realise they have a wicked sense of humour. Maybe that self-assurance isn't more than skin deep. Maybe that cool exterior hides a seething mass of anxieties and neuroses.

That's when you'd also slowly realise that they have a past, a time before you knew them, which has shaped how they are today.

There's an ongoing argument in psychology about nature v nurture – were we born as we are (nature), or did we grow up this way because of our childhood experiences (nurture)?

Most psychologists today tend towards the nurture and nature combination – we are born with certain characteristics, but the way we are treated and the events in our childhoods decides which characteristics come to the front and shape who we are.

For example, a child born with a tendency towards anxiety may well grow to a relaxed, laid back adult if he is reared in a calm, loving atmosphere where his anxieties are soothed and he learns how to control them, and perhaps even more important, that he is in control of his life. The same child reared in a different environment may grow up anxious and insecure, a candidate for compulsive behaviour disorder and numerous other mental health problems, or possibly even grow into a volatile, hostile, domineering and violent character who simply loses his cool if the world around him doesn't fall into line. Because he cannot handle the anxieties that flow in on him and make him feel out of control, he constantly seeks to be in total control, and anything out of the ordinary throws him for a loop.

So, what tendencies does your character have? And how did his life so far shape him? When you're really having difficulty with a character, you may need to think right back to his childhood – where did he come from? What was his family like? His schooling? Even the time in history that we are born in affects who we may become – hence the phrase 'War babies' to describe an entire generation who were a puzzle to their parents.

That can sound quite daunting, but it's not really.

Write down everything you want your character to be – is he an Alpha male? One of those people who have to win at any cost? A company executive at 30, and a heart attack patient at 35? Or is he a laid back character, one of those kids whose teachers always said 'Could do better if he worked harder?' and 'Not working to his potential', Think of the ramifications for your story if your character is either one of these, because these characters will behave quite differently in whatever situations you put them in.

Remember that characters often have minds of their own – trying to force them into behaviours they don’t want to do is a great way to spark Writer's Block. Of course, it's not really your character but your subconscious mind that is objecting to the route your plot is taking. At least, I think so…...

Sometimes having a good chat with your characters can clear the air and clarify what you need to do. It makes them real to you, and that's what we are looking for – real characters. Remember the fun you had with an imaginary friend, or a favourite stuffed animal, when you were a kid? Well, try to bring back that feeling with your characters. Talk to them. Listen to them. Interview them. Just make sure you do this in private. Talking to yourself is acceptable in a writer, but answering yourself back can still make your nearest and dearest wonder. And when you start sending your characters birthday and Christmas presents, you're really in trouble…..

There are a number of books on the market for writers about personality types and there are lots of sites on the Internet if you want to delve deeper. Beware, many of them let you take a personality test, and you can spend a lot of time browsing here! Instead of putting your own personality traits in to the questionnaires, you can insert the answers you think your character would give, and get a Personality Type designation for him or her that will help you develop the character.
  • What methods do you use to build your characters?

Resort to Murder is Glenys O'Connell's third novel. She became interested in crime & criminal psychology when covering the crime beat as a journalist for a large daily newspaper. This led to a degree in psychology and qualifications as a counselor - but writing is her first love and she says romantic suspense satisfies her cravings for both romance and crime! She is published as a children's author, and has written two non-fiction books, one on Irish culture and another on coping with depression. Glenys also has had two one-act plays produced. She also teaches a creative writing course named Naked Writing on

Born in the UK, she has lived and worked in Ireland and Canada - all countries which provide excellent settings for novels. She's currently living in very rural Ontario, Canada, where she can watch bears, deer and raccoons at play and is planning a new novel set in Italy!