Saturday, June 24, 2017

May 2017 Round Robin Blog Fest


Welcome back to the Round Robin Blog Fest!


After a brief hiatus for some family events and crazy work schedule, I'm back and ready to blog!

This month's topic is:

How do you go about developing your characters for a story?
How much time do you spend or does it just happen in the writing process?
What inspires it?

I'm a pantser. For the uninitiated, I write from the top of my head, flying by the seat of my pants so to speak. My words and my characters flow from my head and heart through my hand and pen.

Aside from the romanticism of creating my own characters, I observe people. I glean mannerisms from customers I serve, people I know, and from people watching in general. Once I have a basic character, I begin to work on backstory and finer details. For the most part, all of the bits and pieces fall into place during the writing process.

Anything can inspire a new character - a dream, someone on television, a voice on the radio, even just a "what if."  What if a woman met the man of her dreams and he was far from dreamy? What if the homeless man on the corner had a dark secret? What if the beauty queen wanted to win so bad she killed her competition one by one?

By asking the what ifs, I created a character from either the inside-out or the outside-in. Sometimes the heart and soul are more apparent than the outer shell at first. But there are also times a character just appears. Larger than life and in so much detail that I can't write fast enough to capture them.

Leo Blue from my Wild Blue Mysteries series was one of these. He pushed his way into the story without prompting - or being invited for that matter! He will be making a reappearance in the fourth book in the series called The Painted Lady.

As an example of one of my characters, this is what I wrote for his brief description:

Leo Blue: One of Danny’s partners at the Wild Blue Detective Agency. Leo’s background as a boxer and martial artist made it impossible for anyone to get the jump on him. He is also a veteran severely wounded in Afghanistan.
He has muscular arms, broad chest and scars everywhere. He has long copper hair and cat-like gold eyes. He looks like he could bench press a bus. Leo is “two-parts Rambo and one-part Einstein.” He would never turn his back when his friends needed his help.




While Leo first appears in The Bookstore Lady, he takes the spotlight in The Bakery Lady with the lovely Christina Davidson who takes over Daisy's Bakery and turns the confirmed bachelor's head.

You can buy any or all of my books on Amazon at Diane Bator.


I hope you all enjoy the rest of the blog fest! Stop by to check out how my fellow authors develop their characters!

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Happy Father's Day!




Happy Father's Day!

To celebrate my grandma's 90th birthday this fall, one of my wonderful cousins decided to open up a Facebook page where family members could share photos and memories that we may not have all had access to before. What a gift! The one thing this page has done is bring us all together. My dad's siblings are all in Western Canada, but the rest of us are scattered all over.
At last count, my grandparents have:
17 children
44 grandchildren
56 great grandchildren
7 great-grandchildren

If my grandpa could see this bunch now! Unfortunately, we lost him to a heart attack when I was just a kid. My dad broke the news to us the next morning by telling us "you have no more Grandpa Rondeau." That's the way serious matters were treated in my house. Nonchalance.

My grandpa Roland Rondeau during basic training in 1944.

One of my favorite memories of my grandpa was hopping in the back of his big red pick up to go to the dump. My grandma always cringed but grandpa would always come back with all of us kids - and usually some sort of treasure he found. One of my aunts even found an entire set of beautiful dishes she'd dreamed about the night before!

My cousins and I were always Grandpa's girl or Grandpa's boy. No favorites. He loved us all to pieces and whisker rubs were the price you paid for a huge bear hug!

He was a lumberjack who built and ran his own sawmills with his sons. While I didn't get to spend time at his sawmills, I certainly spent a lot of time shoveling sawdust and piling lumber once my dad had his own sawmill!
Me and my dad. about 1970.
 My dad and I were close while I was growing up. He'd work away from home all week and come home on weekends. I was devastated when he'd leave, but a happy camper once he'd come home on a Friday night! Once my brother was born, my mom looked after both of us alone all week in a tiny cabin in the woods. No phone, no electricity, no neighbors for about a mile. I don't know how she did it without going completely around the bend some days. We got into all sorts of mischief!
Especially with forest all around us, a rambling old "haunted" house across the yard, and a swamp not far behind the trees.

My dad longed to be his own boss and eventually built a steel sawmill that he set up on the property. As we grew older, we became big enough to help. The best memories I have of life at the sawmill was when I'd wander off to pick berries for a snack and when we'd roast marshmallows the days Dad burned the slabs (the parts of the tree he couldn't harvest for lumber).

The absolute worst memory was the day I stepped on a wasp nest. I can still feel the burn from over 50 stings while I sat in the cab of the pick up truck and dabbed them with water.

I've become resilient thanks to my role models.
My childhood was filled with love and I learned to live simply.
My grandma still repeats the same mantra today as she did back then:  "It is what it is."

Today is a special gift. The present. It is what it is.
You can choose to complain or you can make it better.
Your choice.



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!