Guest Author: Marie Lavender

Are Your Characters Fleshy?

This may come as a shocker, but a lot of beginning writers don’t know how to make good characters. And I’m sure some tenured authors make the same mistake occasionally. It’s not enough to say, “Hey, Mr. Character, you have dark hair and blue eyes. Now start talking.” Dialogue is one aspect of a character. So is appearance. But, what is inside is what counts. What is inside of a character is what makes us keep reading.

Take the time to fill out the finer details of a character. For example, what do they like to eat for breakfast? Maybe they don’t eat breakfast. Some people don’t. What is their religious affiliation? Where did they go to school? What kind of home life did that person have? Notice I said “person”.

People are complicated. We are complicated. If we were all pretty typical, would life be any fun? Probably not. Not everyone is easy to get along with, but sometimes getting into the heart of a person and learning more about them is rewarding. So do the same with your characters.

Most likely, if you’re any kind of fiction writer, you will have a plan for your story or book. You’ll have the plot mapped out. That is great! But, have you mapped out your character? Characters are not just plastic dolls. They should be so real you can practically touch them. Do you sketch? Sketch them if you have to. But, make notes of who that character is. What really makes them tick? Most importantly, what does he want out of life? And how does he plan to get it? What “secrets” do you know about your character that the reader may or may not know on the page? Trust me. All of these things will help you understand your character better.

In the writing of the sequel to my current release, I was arrogant. Okay, not arrogant. I was under the impression that I knew everything I could about the hero and heroine because I wrote a bunch of scenes. But, then, I thought, “Hold on. Why does so-and-so act that way? What makes her who she is?” So, I unearthed this worksheet full of character questions to help me identity not only the aspects of the heroine I already knew, but the stuff that I hadn’t thought of as well. Well, did that end up helping? Did it “flesh” her out? You bet. I finally knew why she had carried out certain actions. She made sense to me as a character. I wouldn’t have known she wasn’t three dimensional unless I had done that.

I also did the same for the hero, and I found out some interesting quirks. I also discovered he was completely human, not otherworldly like we want heroes to be. I think that makes a good character.

So, do what you can to find out everything you can about your characters. Make them flesh and bone, not plastic. Make them as real as possible with eccentricities and flaws and “secrets”, just like normal people. Make them…well, human. As human as you possibly can. You will look at that finished product and believe in it so much more.

~Marie Lavender

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About the Author
Marie Lavender’s most recent release is Upon Your Return.

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She lives in the Midwest with her family and three cats. She has been writing for over twenty years. She has more works in progress than she can count on two hands.

At the tender age of nine, she began writing stories. Her imagination fueled a lot of her early child’s play. Even growing up, she entered writing contests and received a certificate for achieving the second round in one. She majored in Creative Writing in college because that was all she ever wanted – to be a writer. While there, she published two works in a university publication, and was a copy editor on the staff of an online student journal. After graduating from college, she sought out her dream to publish a book.

Since then, Marie has published sixteen books. Marie Lavender’s real love is writing romances, but she has also written mysteries, literary fiction and dabbled a little in paranormal stories. Most of her works have a romantic element involved in them. Upon Your Return is her first historical romance novel. Feel free to visit her website at http://marielavender.webs.com/ for further information about her books and her life. Marie is also on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

A list of her books and pen names includes:
Marie Lavender: Upon Your Return
Erica Sutherhome: Hard to Get; Memories; A Hint of Scandal; Without You; Strange Heat; Terror in the Night; Haunted; Pursuit; Perfect Game; A Touch of Dawn; Ransom
Kathryn Layne: A Misplaced Life
Heather Crouse: Express Café and Other Ramblings; Ramblings, Musings and Other Things; Soulful Ramblings and Other Worldly Things

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http://www.marielavender.webs.com/
http://marielavenderbooks.blogspot.com/
http://marielavender.blogspot.com/
https://www.facebook.com/MarieAnnLavender
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Upon-Your-Return/221212331354873
https://twitter.com/marielavender1
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6938764.Marie_Lavender
http://www.amazon.com/Marie-Lavender/e/B00C10Q94I/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1
http://store.solsticepublishing.com/upon-your-return/
https://www.createspace.com/4284739

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Guest Author: Lizzy Stevens, “Rachel’s Legacy”

Please welcome Lizzy Stevens, author of the contemporary romance novel Rachel’s Legacy. See below for more information about this book, as well as a special sneak preview!

Enjoy!
~Margo Bond Collins

Rachel’s Legacy

An Amazon Best Seller!

#35 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Romance > Anthologies

Rachel Connors loves her life and her job as a manager at a ski resort in Aspen Colorado, but after learning she is ill, she takes a long-needed vacation to visit her parents at their ranch in Tennessee. There, she meets ranch-hand Kyle Landers.

Before he even meets her, Kyle, unable to understand why the Connors’ ungrateful daughter has chosen to distance herself from them, decides not to like her. He had been alone in the world when Rachel’s parents took him in, and he couldn’t bear to see them hurt.

Nonetheless, Rachel and Kyle feel an undeniable attraction. But everything changes when Rachel is summoned back to Aspen to hear a terrifying diagnosis. Kyle follows her, but their blossoming love is cut short when their plane crashes and Kyle is presumed dead. When he awakes from a coma four years later, Rachel has moved on with a new love, Marcus.

Who will Rachel choose? Is Kyle’s love enough to bring her back to him? Will the same fate that brought them together now keep them apart?

Available on Amazon here:

Watch the book trailer:

Rachel’s Legacy Preview

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The snow was coming down hard, quickly blanketing the ground as it fell. Rachel Connors sat on her window sill, watching it fall. The tears rolled down her face, as the thought of going back home haunted her. She hadn’t seen her parents in five years, and wasn’t completely positive she was making the right decision in going back now. She needed to be near family now more than ever. Rachel decided to keep her medical problems to herself. There was no sense in making her parents worry about her. She would tell them nothing.

The sound of the cab’s horn jarred her out of her thoughts. She wiped the tears away and grabbed her bags. She would be staying with her parents until after the holidays. The doctors didn’t need to see her until the new year. How am I supposed to forget everything and enjoy a vacation at a time like this? Rachel sat in the back seat of the cab as it headed to the airport. It would be a long plane ride from Colorado to her parents’ ranch in Tennessee, an hour and a half outside of Nashville. It was always beautiful there. They always teased her growing up about being a singer, but she never had any interest in singing. She always wanted to be a talent agent. She wanted to be the one who found the talent, which was exactly what she did. She was very successful at it, until she received a job offer to manage a friend’s ski resort in Aspen. It was a great escape from the harsh realities of the past, and she grew to love her new life.

Rachel took a long nap on the plane. She had been under a lot of stress lately. It seemed like only minutes after her head hit the pillow that she heard the flight attendant say they were landing. She looked around and saw that they were coming onto the runway. She rubbed her eyes and stretched her arms before standing up.

Kyle Landers waited for her in the terminal, holding up a sign for a woman he had never met. How do I get myself into situations like this? he thought as he started to pace back and forth. He couldn’t tell Sue and Tom that he wouldn’t go pick up their daughter for them even though he knew he wouldn’t like her. He couldn’t understand how she could stay gone as many years as she did knowing her parent’s missed her. Kyle would do anything for Sue and Tom. They took him in four years ago when he didn’t have anywhere else to go. He had no family and them gave him a job on the ranch. He looked back and forth for Rachel. He had seen many pictures of her over the years. Kyle decided he didn’t want to give some stuck up, too good to come home to her family, uptight woman a ride. He dropped the sign into the trash can and walked out. He would tell Sue and Tom the flight must have been delayed. He felt a little bad lying to them, but he knew that their daughter could use a good lesson on how you treat people.

As she entered the terminal, Rachael looked for her ride. Her parents told her a man named Kyle would be picking her up. Not seeing him, she thought he might be outside, or in the luggage area. As she left, she saw a large cardboard sign lying in the trash can with her name on it. Where was he? Why didn’t he wait? The plane was right on time.

She collected her luggage and walked out of the building, hopeful of catching a cab. Rachel walked up and down on the sidewalk trying to hail someone, with no luck. All the cabs were busy and she wanted to go home. She grabbed her bag and started to walk. Surely somebody would give her a ride within an hour and a half’s distance, she thought. As she looked around for prospects, she saw a young man getting ready to get into his truck. “Excuse me, sir. My name is Rachel Connors. Can you please give me a ride to my family’s ranch? I’ll pay for the gas and if you can’t take me all the way there, I would be happy with anywhere close. My ride didn’t show up to pick me up and I can’t seem to get a cab.”

Kyle shot her a look that let her know he wasn’t in the mood to talk. He couldn’t believe his luck. Of all the people wanting a ride it had to be the one person he wanted to leave at the airport. “Let’s go. I have a lot of work to get done back at the ranch.”

Rachel didn’t know what to think. “Okay,” she said, as she glanced down at the ground.

She jumped up into his truck, not saying a word. Rachel felt a little uncomfortable with him. Once she buckled in, she looked over at him. “Excuse me, but you haven’t even told me your name.”

“Kyle. My name’s Kyle,” he said as he continued to drive.

“Have I done something to offend you? I don’t even know you, but you seem to dislike me for some reason,” she said, as she played with her hands nervously. “Wait a minute. Are you Kyle Landers? The same Kyle Landers that works for my father? Why were you going to leave me here at the airport? I wasn’t late.”

Words, Words, Words

Blog Posts: Words, Words, Words

I’ve always been especially fond of the moment in Shakespeare’s Hamlet when Polonius asks Hamlet what he’s reading and Hamlet replies “Words, words, words” (II.ii.192). The line comes while Polonius is trying to discover the cause of Hamlet’s possibly-feigned madness and it can be played in a number of ways. In Kenneth Branagh’s rendition, the line serves to show Hamlet’s disdain for Polonius:

David Tennant uses the scene to emphasize Hamlet’s potential insanity:

Lawrence Olivier’s version is matter-of-fact, and Derek Jacobi flips through the pages as if checking to make sure there is nothing more in the book:

But I’ve always been particularly fond of Mel Gibson’s rendition (available at the end of the clip above), because it inevitably makes me laugh.

With so many version of “words, words, words,” it’s perhaps unsurprising that I would choose the line as the title of my blog. I’ve been in love with words for as long as I can remember. As a child, then a college English major, a technical writer, a graduate student, a college English professor, an academic writer, and now a soon-to-be published fiction writer (Waking Up Dead, forthcoming from Solstice Publishing, and Legally Undead, forthcoming in 2014 from World Weaver Press), I have always loved the malleability of words—how they feel, sound, taste, smell.

This blog is designed to examine words in all their manifestations. I will write about writing, post academic essays, host other authors, review books, share fiction excerpts. My hope is that, like the many versions of Hamlet’s line, this blog will careen wildly from matter-of-fact, to serious, to unexpectedly funny.

Welcome to Words, Words, Words. Enjoy!

~Margo Bond Collins