Friday, April 15, 2011

Making Characters Real

I like to welcome Joanne Kennedy back to Over Coffee.  Joanne believes in Romancing The West. She's a bonafide denim and lace western girl who writes about hot cowboys.  Her believable stories have towns and critters, romance and love, along with danger and suspense.  She is also a RITA finalist for One Fine Cowboy

What draws us to cowboys? Maybe a touch of the rebel, for sure a bit of bad-boy, but there is also the image of tradition, respect, and moral strength. The strength to fight against the odds.  At the core, they're men and women of the land. 

They're almost larger than life, aren't they?

Still, cowboys are everyday people with quirks, foibles, good and bad. If you're writing cowboys or any character you have to make them realistic and three dimensional. After all, you are telling a story about people which your readers will love, hate, like or dislike. Give them personalities they can to relate to.

Joanne chats a bit about her characters, two and four legged, and the world they inhabit.

A compelling plot and great writing draw us into a story—but what we stay for is the characters. Elizabeth Bennett and Darcy; Jane Eyre and Rochester—what’s a romance without great lovers who come alive on the page?

Giving life to characters is the best part of writing. I love creating a small town of my own, peopled by characters who hopefully come alive for the reader. They’re certainly real to me!

I spend a lot of time in my fictional universe, and my characters become like friends—or maybe more like family, because much as I love them, they sometimes drive me crazy. Demanding, difficult, and determined—they’re just like real people!

Teague and Jodi have been with me a long time, waiting for their story to be told and gradually revealing who they are and what they want. By the time I actually sat down to write the book, they’d taken on so much personality that it was all I could do to keep them under control. It wasn’t easy to keep them out of bed, either. These two were definitely made for each other.

The best part about having a new book released is knowing that my characters are out there in the world, living in readers’ minds as well as my own. I’m thrilled when readers love them as much as I do, and reviews that praise them warm me up with the kind of pride you feel when your kid gets a straight-A report card.

And it’s not just the hero and heroine I love. Every one of my books has a whole community of characters, animal as well as human. Here’s a partial roster of the cast of Cowboy Fever:

  • Teague Treadwell is possibly my favorite cowboy hero ever. He’s a good man overcoming a rough past, working hard to turn his life around and earn a place in his community and the heart of the town’s golden girl. He’s turned his alcoholic father’s played-out ranch into a first-class roughstock operation, raising bucking horses and bulls and competing in rodeos.
  • Jodi Brand is a former Miss Rodeo America who’s been back East modeling and earning a degree in special education. She once promised to return and make her hometown a better place, and she’s keeping that promise by starting a therapy riding program for children with disabilities. She’s also coming back to see Teague, but that’s not something she’s ready to admit to herself.
  • Troy Treadwell is Teague’s older brother and Jodi’s inspiration for working with the disabled. He has Down’s Syndrome, but his disability doesn’t define him. Troy wants to live an independent, fulfilling life of his own, but it’s hard for his brother to let him go; it’s taking care of Troy that inspired Teague to turn his life around.
  • Courtney Skelton never really had a chance. The daughter of difficult but wealthy parents who bought her everything she wanted but paid little attention to her, she’s spoiled, self-involved, and accustomed to getting whatever she wants. Right now, she wants Teague—and that’s where the trouble starts.
  • Cissy is Jodi’s best friend. She married her high school sweetheart only to discover he’s abusive. Now she counts on Teague for protection—but can he keep her safe without risking a return of the rough streak that made him the town bad boy?
And then there are the animals. In my books, they’re almost as important as the people, and a big part of my hero and heroine’s lives.

  • Vegas is Teague’s old horse. He plays a part in all Teague’s best childhood memories—and Jodi’s, too. Now nearly blind, he’s ready for a new life as a therapy horse.
  • Luna, Teague’s bossy border collie has one goal: getting Teague and Jodi together.
  • Beelzebub, a.k.a. Beelzy, is a goat who’s supposed to keep Vegas company, but he spends most of his time dreaming up devilment.
  • Honeybucket, Courtney’s teacup Pomeranian is a pocket pet who wants to be a real dog.

That’s just a partial list of the dramatis personae of Cowboy Fever. There’s a small town full of people who help Teague and Jodi’s story spin out, but in the end what matters most is the love they’ve had for each other all along. It’s not easy to leave the past behind, but I think you’ll agree that these two deserve a new future—and they deserve to spend it together.

Animals play a big part in my books.

Do you have a favorite animal hero or heroine from romance? 


Miss Rodeo Wyoming Jodie Bryce is back from the big city to find that her childhood friend Teague Treadwell’s rugged cowboy charm never looked better. But Teague thinks Jodie’s success lifted her out of his reach, and now he’s got to shed his bad boy image to be worthy of the girl next door. Excerpt.

Buy:  Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Borders, Indiebound  Format: paperback and e-book


After 25 years in the business of selling books, Joanne finally decided to sit down and write one. Five years and a lot of hard work later, came Cowboy Trouble.

A member of Romance Writers of America and Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, Joanne Kennedy won first place in the Colorado Gold Writing Contest and second in the Heart of the Rockies contest in 2007. Her first novel, Cowboy Trouble, was released by Sourcebooks Casablanca in March 2010, and will be followed by One Fine Cowboy in September 2010. Two more contemporary western romances are scheduled for release in 2011. Joanne lives in Cheyenne, Wyoming.


Wednesday, April 13, 2011


My guest today is paranormal romance author, Linda Thomas-Sundstrom. She is the author of Vampire Moons series, and her latest is Golden Vampire.

Linda's a southern California native who teaches at the University of California. Napkins everywhere are now happy Linda writes her stories on the computer. I'm not so sure about her poor car. It's had a lot to worry about with a crazy author manning the wheel. 

While she loves dark historicals and gothics she has been known to write lighthearted stories as well. I'm thinking her muse may be schizophrenic. Or just likes variety. But, her topic today is about her muse and inspiration. Like she says, "What are we without our inspirations?"

Muse. You have got to love when one comes a calling. You know - that ethereal, nebulous, misty presence that’s defined as “an instigator of inspiration,” but is actually, as we all realize, a real species of otherworldy personage. Maybe even with wings...

Yep, I have a Muse (thank heavens! ) Maybe two. I’ve never actually seen her or their faces, in person, but figure that because they work pretty much non-stop at singing to me, one would get tired. So maybe mine has a twin.

My Muse sings at the top of her lungs. I either have to listen, or fear she might be disgusted I’m ignoring her help, and leave. (!!) She rarely takes a vacation, but every now and then has been known to disappear for short stretches at a time. I think she’s resting her voice, and prefer to call her time off as “tune-ups.”

She has a tendency to sing at times when I’m trying to do something else, like driving. Or when I’m working out on my elliptical machine, or out for a walk.. I’m probably really dangerous to drive behind, because I write down ideas that come... by having a notebook handy on the passenger seat. You just never know when that inspiration will show up. My motto is to be prepared!

I am lucky to have such inspiration. I know it, and thank my lucky stars every single day.

Without a Muse, and inspiration, how would we get any writing done? Books done and published? I just find inspiration everywhere. In a particularly interesting word, a stunning visual, or a haunting melody. I have at least a hundred yellow sticky notes on the walls above and beside my desk, with titles, words I like, and beginning sentences of stories I’d eventually like to get to write. So far, in my career as a writer and published author, the well has not run dry, and my Muse keeps hanging in. This makes writing very exciting for me. A thing I love.

Talk about Muse fodder, and paying attention... GOLDEN VAMPIRE has it’s own unique story about getting published that I’ll spill sometime. In the meantime - here, I’ve tweaked the Arthurian tales for this book and its full sequel, due out early in 2012, and brought some of the Round Table’s Knights into the current century.

“GOLDEN VAMPIRE.” is a re-writing of a legend about sone of those Round Table Knights, who were perhaps unearthly beautiful and undefeated I battle because they were unearthly!

For history fans like myself, you might recognize my immortal Knight in Golden Vampire. His name is Lance. And thought this is a contemporary story about the woman who finds him, Lance’s backgound as an immortal plays a major part in who he now is.

So.... let’s chat. I’m here today.

You can probably tell by this post how excited I am to be writing, and publishing the kind of stuff that inspires me. Paranormal all the way! Yay!

My Muse stays because she likes the energy surrounding me, and vice versa. I am truly blessed, and do not take this for granted. After paying my dues in the writing business, I’m finally starting on my second career, and hope that my destiny is to write many many more books!

Chatter points:
  • Do you have a MUSE?
  • Do you have to share her with someone else? Blackmail her to stay?
  • Do you like the Arthurian tales?


For former cop Jesse Stewart, giving herself—mind and body—to sexy vampire Lance Van Baaren meant losing her soul. Hired by the government to find a senator's missing daughter, she instead found a haunting link to her past. And now something is drawing her to the one man she should despise….

Once a knight, Lance had sworn to protect the innocent. And one of those young innocents had been Jesse. Now face-to-face with the alluring woman she has become, he's determined to help Jessie solve her case and make her his own. But would finding the truth of her past—beneath a Blood Moon—push her further away? You can read an excerpt here.

Buy: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Borders, Books a Million Books are available in e-book or paperback format.

I write both dark and light paranormals. Vampire and Werewolf tales with titles like Midnight Court, Barbie and the Beast, Red Wolf, Blackout, Wolf Trap, Vampire Lover, etc. And now, my latest book from Nocturne, just released this month is a vampire series called Vampire Moons... and the first full book is “GOLDEN VAMPIRE.”

You can find Linda: Website, Nocturne Authors,

Monday, April 11, 2011

Monday Musings—Juggling Life And Writing

Seems like whenever I get a good writing streak going, something in life pops up that needs my attention. Stat. I don’t know about the rest of you, but this past fall and winter seemed to bring one thing after another.

Still I did manage to participate in NaNo. I was about 12,000-words short but I feel good about participating. NaNo writing was an experiment in writing a sub genre I hadn’t tried before. I learned a lot. I also have some major editing to make it viable, but that’s okay because it’s a story I want to tell and so I’ll get back to it. The characters there are content to rest a bit since I put them through hell. Me too.

I’m back working on a story that is moving along well, if slooooow. Why is it slow? Because things and people (life issues) won’t leave me alone. If it isn’t kid problems, it’s extended family problems, or health. All of which zap me emotionally, overwork my energizer bunny batteries, and suck my creative spark somewhere into the cosmos. The good thing is, the characters in this story aren’t quiet. They bellow at me in dreams, creep into my thoughts when I’m doing chores, or simply sitting still with a nice cup of coffee. They whisper to me when I’m reading the pile of books I have assigned to me for review. They’re relentless.

Despite life’s chaos, I manage to meet the deadlines of the blog and scheduling. Sometimes it’s by the skin of my teeth and from time to time my creativity is at low ebb, but I get it done. I’ve dealt with deadlines of some sort or another all my working life. I don’t fail to meet them. It’s a matter of professional commitment. I keep my commitments and don’t believe in doing something half-assed. My blog reflects that.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my blog and I’ve had, and will continue to have, some wonderful guests. Most of them are so much fun.

Poor little bunny is a bit worn and pale
Where it gets tough is when you’re juggling so many balls in the air, and your energizer bunny looks for someone who is less maintenance, it gets tough to get back to writing. If I had a deadline for them to be done I’d find a way to do it, as I always have. Having a goal and having a deadline are two different things (no matter what I tell myself). When something has to give, I tend to prioritize and let go of things lower on the list. Consequently, my story is taking much longer to finish.

One of the things I've learned to do is carve out little bits and pieces of time and usually in the early morning when I’m fresh. If I’ve had a hard day, forget it. Writing isn’t smooth or as much fun as it usually is. Smooth, quantity, and fun require energy, and my poor little energizer bunny is just plumb worn out by the end of the day. I do keep a small notebook in my purse so when I hear whispers or shouts, I can jot down scenes and dialogs, or, at the very least, notes so as not to forget the epiphany when it hits me.

How do you juggle life and writing? Any special tricks you've learned to apply?