Friday, September 9, 2016

Friday Five!

1. It's almost been THREE MONTHS since I've posted anything on here. I would not be surprised if I no longer have any readers, but if I do...HI! (*waves frantically*)

2. I have been quite busy working in the film industry this summer, mostly background acting work, but my son has also had some exciting specialty roles, including playing a monster (for which he needed over four hours of makeup application) and he starred in his first commercial!

3. I have recently gotten a continuity job on a show that films until December. The best part of this job? It has an indoor holding area which is safe and I can bring my computer! So I am anticipating getting lots of new writing done over the next three months.

4. In new book news...you may remember my mentioning a new book coming out this year. Well, there has been lots of back and forth on dates, but I finally have the official word. AVALANCHE will be released from Leap Books on November 21st of this year! I'm very excited to share this book with the world.

5. And...what would a book be without an awesome cover? October 21st, Leap Books plans to share the cover for AVALANCHE! If you want to be a part of revealing this cover somewhere on the Internet, please let me know.

That's about all I can think of for the new news of my life. I'm working at getting back into the homeschooling saddle this week. Also, wishing a very happy birthday to my mom today, and a very happy book birthday to my good writer friend, Shari Green - whose fabulous new verse novel ROOT BEER CANDY AND OTHER MIRACLES is out today.

How about you? What have I missed this summer? 

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Creating Memorable Characters

It’s been a long time since I’ve written a blog post, and even longer since I’ve written a writing craft post, so I figured it was about time! Today I was reflecting on what is involved in creating memorable characters, and I have a few thoughts on the subject.
First, I asked myself which characters I’ve read over the years are most memorable to me, and on thinking about why these characters are memorable, I noticed some interesting things.
1. Characters whose names I could easily remember automatically felt closer to my heart than characters I know I had loved but whose names I struggled for.
2. All my most memorable characters were quite extreme in nature, or larger than life in some way, or, if they were more average, they felt like friends.
3. Many characters who I thought would be memorable while reading them, are actually completely gone from my memory now. (I read over book descriptions to jog my memory).
4. To be honest, I struggled to come up with many characters that were memorable. In most cases, it was only the plots that were memorable.
So, starting at the top of the list, I spent a while considering character names. Why does remembering a character’s name make them automatically more memorable in every way to me? I decided it’s because they become more personal (and like in number 2, they often felt almost like friends – as though I had been on their journey with them). I never thought remembering a character’s name would be such a big deal. I read about a hundred books a year, and most of them I couldn’t tell you the first name of the main character after about a week. I’ve never considered it a problem, but now that I think about it, even though I enjoyed many of those books, I can’t tell you much about the characters or the plot (except in the case of very unusual plots).
So how do you make your characters’ names memorable was the next question I asked myself. Well...I went back and looked at a few of my favorites. Stephanie Perkins’s “Anna” was an easy one – her name is in the title Anna and the French Kiss. But if having Anna’s name in the title wasn’t enough, Anna’s best friend was constantly sending her bananas (while she sent her friend Bridget bridges), and if THAT wasn’t enough, her name was secured, at least for me, when the hot British boy with fantastic hair pronounced her name in a very special way.
But is a memorable name enough to make a character memorable? Well, Anna was also witty and had a fantastic voice, but I honestly don’t know if that would be enough to bring her, specifically, to mind, and not just the romance of the book in general if I didn’t know her name and feel like I’d been on her journey alongside her. And that, for me, came from knowing and remembering her name.
There are other ways of making character names memorable, of course, and I’ve always unthinkingly employed at least one small device to help readers remember each of my main characters. With Brie in Losing Faith, she talks about how her parents named her after a cheese because she’s the cheesy daughter. Loann in Never Enough breaks her name down into lo and ann – the low man on the totem pole, and Ann – the plain-jane name that she thinks suits her perfectly. In Foreign Exchange, the hot neighbor boy calls Jamie “James” which makes her think she’ll always be like a brother to him. And in A Christmas Kerril, of course Kerril is the title character.
Right now I’m reading a book called All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven. While I don’t know that I’ll remember the female lead, I’m quite certain I will remember the male one – Theodore Finch – mainly because he often goes by his full name, or his last name, which is unusual, but also because he is larger than life with his struggles. But I guess only time will tell if he is a truly memorable character.
I considered why Katniss Everdeeen is so memorable. First, her sacrificial nature made her memorable to me. In a world where we are all out to look out for ourselves, it’s automatically noteworthy to see someone so selfless. And as for her name, I think the cute “Catnip” nickname definitely helped.
I’ve spent a lot of time talking about character names here, and a few extreme qualities, but I’d love to hear your thoughts as well. Who are some of your favorite characters, and what makes them memorable for you? Did you automatically remember their name when you thought of them? What triggered that memory for you?


Thursday, May 19, 2016

Britannia Beach Book Trailer!

I had a chance to read an early version of this series, and I absolutely love it! The first book is out July 1st, but here's a little teaser...


Monday, April 18, 2016

YA Insider Grand Opening!

This looks like a fun party, so I'll be giving away a couple of copies of FOREIGN EXCHANGE to celebrate. Hope to see you there!


Thursday, March 24, 2016

March Madness Random Check-In! #WIPMadness

Hello, hello!

I hope you are all busily accomplishing lots of plotting and writing and revising this month. As for me, the month is actually going better than expected. I have completed my two projects that I wanted to complete this month, and as of today I have started working on query-type blurbs for each of these books. Writing blurbs has got to be the hardest job of all in my opinion, so even though my spirits are high today, I'm not sure how long that will last!

Besides the blurbs, I'd love to get onto writing the first draft of a book I've been putting off for a while during April, so I plan to spend the rest of the month looking at my notes on that one and seeing if I can find some inner drive and motivation.

How about you? How has the month shaped up so far? With one week left, what do you think you could conceivably accomplish toward your goals before April 1st?


Thursday, March 17, 2016

March Madness Random Check-In! #WIPMadness

Happy St. Patrick's Day, fellow writing friends! How is your progress going through this mad month of March?

I continue to work through my second project of the month, a novel I am revising. Thanks to Spring Break, I haven't had to homeschool my son this week in the mornings. I usually spend about an hour first thing in the morning, focusing on whichever project I'm working on at the time (My aim, which my wonderful family is very good about supporting, is to focus my creative energy before speaking - or tweeting - to another person.) This week, I've been clocking in about three hours each morning, and I'm getting surprisingly close to the end of this pass! I'm very happy about this, but the part I'm not so happy about is the amount of crazy notes I've left throughout the manuscript for "Future Denise" to fix, because I don't know how to fix them during the scope of this pass.

So, yeah, good news and bad news, I guess. How about you? Have you set a schedule for your writing this month? And if so, have you been sticking to it? How have your goals been coming?


Wednesday, March 9, 2016

March Madness Random Check-In! #WIPMadness

How are the writing goals going, March Madders?

I can't say I've been having a super-easy March, so far, but I have been writing! I finished my first revision project a day later than anticipated, and have since been working on a revision of my second project, a book I haven't looked at in almost a year. It's fairly normal for me to struggle getting into a new project, and that was definitely the case with this one (especially since the first order of business was completely rewriting the beginning! Worse than a blank slate, for me, is having a completed project with a complete vision that you have to take and somehow tear apart and start from scratch with.)

Anyway, I'm proud to say I have been plugging away, despite my lack of feeling "in the groove." And actually, come to think of it, I'm feeling a little more in the groove each day now. So apparently perseverance works for something!

How about you? Are you still working away at your proposed project? Or did you switch it up to work on something else? Or were you just sitting around, refreshing your screen, waiting for this incredibly inspirational post to spur you on?