Saturday, March 18, 2017

March Round Robin

Top o' the mornin' to ye!
Welcome to a wee bit of the blarney post-Irish Whiskey, to be sure.
Pour a cup of Irish Breakfast and put your feet up for a wee bit of readin'....

Today's topic was suggested by gent named Dr. Bob who knows a lovely lass named Anna Jacobs, a bestselling author who has 77 books to her credit! She was complainin' of being emotionally drained by writing a scene and asked him, "Are you sure our characters aren't real?"

That leads us to today's topic:  Are you ever a wee bit drained writin' certain scenes and how real are your characters to you?

I have always been told I have an overactive imagination. Storytelling and writing have always come as naturally to me as breathing and my characters have always been my constant companions. In fact, the more I write, the more real my characters feel to me. I described it to someone lately like having a song in your head that just won't leave. For me, a lot of the time, it's a character or two.

I become absorbed in scenes and either feel drained or elated when I write certain scenes. Working through the climax of a novel certainly keeps me on edge and I ride the waves of emotion along with my heroes and sometimes even my antagonist.

My characters always tend to feel real to me. They become my constant sidekicks wherever I go and whatever I do. In fact, I often think "what would _____ do?" I find it difficult to turn off that creative part of my brain, especially when I'm working on a new novel. As I live with my characters, they develop around me. More often than not, they tend to take over my stories and create all new plot twists without much effort at all.

Other times, as with my character Leo Blue in The Bookstores Lady, the sidekicks can become such strong characters on their own that they demand their own books. For anyone who has read The Bakery Lady, Leo will have one more book so readers can find out what happens to him next.

My newest work in progress is a great deal grittier than my past cozy mysteries. I find I need to dig even deeper to create the background stories and understand what makes a psychopathic killer tick. I kind of hope he doesn't become one of those characters who consumes me, but the detective who has to track him down just might! Stay tuned!!

Now take a little trip to visit the lovely Helena Fairfax and find out what antics her characters have pulled...


Participants:
Victoria Chatham http://victoriachatham.blogspot.ca
Marci Baun  http://www.marcibaun.com/blog/
Margaret Fieland http://margaretfieland.wordpress.com
Judith Copek http://lynx-sis.blogspot.com/
A.J. Maguire  http://ajmaguire.wordpress.com/
Connie Vines http://mizging.blogspot.com/
Rachael Kosinski http://rachaelkosinski.weebly.com/
Dr. Bob Rich htt  http://wp.me/p3Xihq-Wo 
Heather Haven http://heatherhavenstories.com/blog/
Beverley Bateman http://beverleybateman.blogspot.ca/
Kay Sisk http://www.kaysisk.com/blog
Diane Bator http://dbator.blogspot.ca/
Helena Fairfax http://www.helenafairfax.com
Skye Taylor http://www.skye-writer.com/blogging_by_the_sea
Rhobin Courtright http://www.rhobinleecourtright.com

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Three Steps Forward

A few weeks ago I did something I'd always wanted to do, but kept putting off.
I got a tattoo.
Sounds normal enough, right? Considering I've written about a tattoo artist in The Mystery Lady as well as The Bakery Lady, you'd think this would be something I'd done before. By the way, there is also a tattoo artist in Life is Better Brunette.
Nope.
Okay, so here was my design that I doodled and toyed with for a long time...


I kept it in my desk drawer, on my bulletin board, wherever. I just kept putting off actually getting inked.
Chicken? Maybe.
Selective about who I let stick needles in my ankle? Kind of.
Anyway, I ended up with an appointment at a local shop called Citrus City with some guy named Matt. I went for the consultation, which was a bit of a blur since he was very busy at the time. No problem.

When I returned that Thursday, Matt (still one very busy guy!) whipped up this amazing sketch and turned out to be fun to hang out with for the next hour. In the end, I had this beautiful tattoo and a new friend. I even told him about my morbid fascination with writing about tattoo artists and plan to drop one of my books off for him later this week. 


A friend asked me what my tattoo means to me.
The yin/yang symbol represents wholeness. I've been broken long enough.
The lotus is a symbol of perseverance. The real flower grows out of muddy water and blooms wide and open with its face to the sun. 
The lotus cradles the wholeness with love.

It's taken me a long time to reach the point where I feel like the ME I used to be.
It's a good place to be.

Namaste!

Diane

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Round Robin Blog Fest Membership Restored



I belong to a local writing group in order to better my work as well as support fellow authors.
That was the same reason I had for joining the Round Robin Blog Fest. Recently I had read a comment on my blog that I thought was way out of line. It wasn't worded the way the writer intended and I took it to heart that she thought my writing was awful.

She didn't mean it that way.
I took it wrong and we have since made amends.
I'm glad to say, I will once more be a part of the blog fest and look forward to hanging out with them in the months to come.

My sincerest apologies for overreacting!


Friday, February 17, 2017

February 2016 Round Robin Blog Fest

Welcome back, Round Robin Readers!

Today's topic for discussion is:  Description. What is your saturation point? What is not enough? How do you decide what to include and when to hold back to allow the reader to fill in the blanks? Do you ever skim description when reading a book? If so, what description are you likely to skip?

Wow. That's a lot of questions.

Let me start off by saying I'm NOT a fan of the whole Fifty Shades style of books. As a writer, I'm more uncomfortable reading bad writing than over-descriptive writing, but that's a whole other topic.

I write cozy mystery with a little romance so I like to rein in the description and let the reader's imaginations take them to where they want to go. Romance scenes for me call for a steamy kiss or two then...as they say in Mama Mia: dot, dot, dot. I don't include a lot of graphic violence, gore, or steamy sex scenes because that's not the nature of the genre.

What I do include is just enough titillation to get the reader's imagination going. They can fill in the blanks and don't need to have the details smushed in their faces like birthday cake. If that's the type of novel they seek, there are many writers out there who do that - and do a really great job of it!

As a writer, when I do attempt to write a racy scene, I usually consider my audience as well. Are my kids going to read this? Are my friends? Is my mom? Gulp! Lots of pressure. I'm still learning how to deal with the comments from friends and family about writing books about murder, heaven knows the things they'd say if I wrote something x-rated! Even reading racy material, I will skim over the details to get back to the story. I'd prefer to get lost in a well-written story than something that makes me blush fifty shades of red.

I guess the sort of scenes I prefer to write - and to read - are ones that bring me to a brink of what could happen. The build up. Set the scene, form the relationships between the characters, set the mood and....  Personally, I find the possibilities far more intriguing than the in-your-face sex scenes or even the gory murder scenes in thrillers and horrors.

Trust me. My imagination can fill in the blanks quite well without being told what to envision!
I hope you'll go to check out the blog posts by some very amazing writers - all of whom are very good at filling in the blanks and all the details as well!


Marci Baun  http://www.marcibaun.com/blog/
Skye Taylor http://www.skye-writer.com/blogging_by_the_sea
Beverley Bateman http://beverleybateman.blogspot.ca/
Anne Stenhouse  http://annestenhousenovelist.wordpress.com/
Dr. Bob Rich  https://bobrich18.wordpress.com/2017/02/18/description
A.J. Maguire  http://ajmaguire.wordpress.com/
Rachael Kosinski http://rachaelkosinski.weebly.com/
Diane Bator http://dbator.blogspot.ca/
Rhobin Courtright http://www.rhobinleecourtright.com

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Starting Over

One of the themes that appears in a lot of my books is the notion of starting over. Katie started over in The Bookstore Lady when she left Newville and ended up in the little town of Packham. While her new life there took some time to settle, it didn't take long for her to become part of local lore.

I guess part of that whole concept comes from my own life after my we moved our family from Alberta to Southern Ontario. It's not easy picking up and leaving everyone you have ever known, your family and friends, to move to a small town where you don't know anyone, have no idea where you're going, and are so lonely you're willing to talk to total strangers on the street just to have a conversation!

Flash forward 12 years and we have become a part of the local landscape. Well, I have anyway. My kids grew up here, studied karate and all became black belts, and I gave birth to several novels. Now I am a part of the local theatre scene as well as our amazing little writing group. I'm proud to call Orangeville my home while I get the last of my three kids through school and plan what I want to do with the next 50 years of my life - Yes, I am optimistic!

Here I am at 48 years old starting over after separation. I have a new home. A new job. A chance to write and create without feeling the guilt that I was taking precious time away from my family since most of my family has grown or gone. I don't regret a moment of it. In fact, the confidence I've found recently is far greater than the feeling of security I thought I had before.

Which brings me back to my writing. My books.
I've had the opportunity to create my own office space with all of MY books on one shelf that I gaze upon with pride. Those stories came out of my head and will be joined by several more. It isn't that I have a number of books in mind that I'd love to write over my lifetime, it's that the stories come fast and furious and the opportunities with them. I've written and taken the chance to publish. I take pride in the fact that while my early books may not be to everyone's satisfaction, they are MINE and my writing improves the more I write.

What do I think is the secret to writing success?
KEEP WRITING and DON'T GIVE UP!

I may not be a great success in some people's eyes, but in my heart my greatest success is that I never stop writing. In fact, I'm working on my next novel right now.

Stay tuned for bigger and better!


Saturday, January 21, 2017

How to write a book

Happy 2017!


I've been off the grid for a while, but I'm back and have rejoined the Round Robin Blog Fest for the New Year! This month's theme is:
Everybody wants to write a book, but most do not. Writing is hard work. What gets you started and what helps you get through a complete story?

While I was tossing around how to answer this, I found a great Stephen King line in his book "On Writing":  "My earliest memory is of imagining I was someone else." I grew up on an acreage in rural Alberta, Canada. I biked, I hiked, I picked berries. I was an introvert with little else to do but read and daydream. In those daydreams, I was a detective, a movie star, a princess, but most of the time I was a singer. More precisely, a rock star.

Forty some years later, I've written about rock stars (in a book never published) and about detectives in my Wild Blue Mystery series. I've lived my life vicariously through various characters. I've even published several books, which was one of my biggest dreams come true. Too bad I can't be interviewed on the Oprah Show anymore though. Dream #2.

Writing is hard work!

I get started on a story when something or someone appeals to me. Usually, my stories start with a "what if." What if I go to work and there's a dead body on the floor? (See Can't Keep A Brunette Down) What if someone were stalking me? (See The Mystery Lady)


What helps me get through a complete story are things like attending my local writing group meetings as well as interactions in daily life and having a few hours of quiet time each week to actually write! I love to have time to go for a walk and let my imagination flow. In my writing group, we use prompts and free write for fifteen to twenty minutes at a time. As a result of these blocks of time to write and let the words flow, I've created all six of my published novels.

Support is a huge part of being a writer. Sometimes to complete a novel, it helps to have a friend or writing group to keep you motivated or use as a sounding board to discuss ideas. You also need great friends and family who respect your writing time. Lastly, you also need a lot of quiet time to think and create!

Speaking of which, time to get back to work on Book #7!
Thanks for stopping by. Feel free to blog hop around to meet some of my writing friends!






Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Awaking like Sleeping Beauty



        Those close to me will know the struggles I've been through over the past few years with health, marriage, work, etc. I'm not going to dwell on those. They are water under the bridge at the moment. Live does, unbelievably, go on!

Over the summer my youngest and I moved into a basement apartment, which was a bit depressing at first after living in a much larger home. I bought some paint. Had a friend create some colorful throw pillows. Set up cozy bedrooms, a real office space, and a living room that's become a multipurpose space where pretty much anything goes - video games, movie nights, dinner, friends hanging out, a guest room, and so on. Our new home has gone from a dungeon of sorts, to a comfortable retreat.

I've been working at Tim Horton's part time since last December and recently started full time. Yes, it's been hard on my physically some days, but it's also made me stronger both mentally and physically. I can leave my stress behind. I have made many new friends. The regulars miss me when I have a day off. I get to see the best and the worst of my fellow human beings. I've witnessed so many random acts of kindness it's rare to come home without a story to tell!

And I'm proud of what I do. Anyone who talks down someone in the service industry has no idea the thoughtlessness we endure - or the appreciation we receive when we make it through a snowstorm to get to work just so you and others can get your morning cup of coffee to make you a better person. I have always loved to make people happy with both my writing and my presence and find a great peace when I can make a difference in someone's day just by being thoughtful and doing my job.

I'm also taking on a second job. Crazy, I know.
I've taken a part-time job working in the box office of our local theatre and I'm so excited! More people to help and meet, more fun to be had. And I get free tickets to every show. What a treat!

My writing is still very important to me. I'm working on a new book called Steeped in Trouble which I hope to send to my agent in another month or so. With any luck, it should come out in 2017.

This book, and one other not-so-secret project I've been working on, are the start of my reawakening.

Yes, my life looks very different to what it was only 14 months ago.
But so do I. Inside and out.
As things calm down and I find my energy returning, I am back to working on my Life Coach training and plan to hand in my next assignment soon. I want to be a presence to help other women regain control of their lives and be an inspiration.

I have a  great quote in a frame that I've kept by my bed for years. It now sits on the desk in my office.

Those who bring sunshine into the lives of others
cannot keep it from themselves.

This has been my inspiration for the past two years.
This is the concept that keeps me going on the darkest days as I put one foot in front of the other and move on.

Watch for more inspiration and writing news!

Diane