Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Adios Estados Unidos, Bienvenidos Costa Rica!

As you read this, I might be soaking up the southern hemisphere rays, or traipsing through an exotic jungle, or eating sushi...nope, I don't eat sushi. :-)

I'm in Costa Rica blogger friends!!! Will be back next week. Have an awesome end of January everyone.

What's the most exotic place you've ever traveled to? The strangest food you've eaten?

(btw, the chocolate in Costa Rica is absolutely delicious)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Same Bait, Different Hook

I used to watch NCIS...until I realized Ziva and DiNozzo weren't going to hook up.

Turns out my real interest lay in the tension between these characters, and when their attraction seemed to take a backseat, so did my attention. I still like the show, but it no longer hooks me.

Sometimes what one person loves in a story is completely different than what someone else loves. Same story, different draws.

This is why it's so important that we have more than one hook in our books. Every plot has more going on than just action, or just romance. My husband's favorite movie is Braveheart. He loves the action. That's his hook. Mine is the lost love, but also the new love with the queen.

What is your fave book of all time? Why? What is it about that story that hooks you? Do you have more than one hook in your WIP?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

What I've Been Reading

I had the privilege of meeting debut author Henry McLaughlin at the 2011 ACFW Conference. He's such a nice, interesting man that I had to pick up his book. I'm glad I did. While there's a romantic thread to this story, ultimately it was the writing and the wonderful Old West feel to the book that grabbed me and kept me. Check out his first line: The crowd was small for a hanging. I definitely recommend this book to readers who like historical fiction.

I really enjoyed this read by Noelle Marchand. This is her first book and she sold it at a super young age (I think 16?). Sometimes category romances get a little formulaic but this one felt very fresh to me with vivid characters and an interesting premise.



If you didn't know it, this book has become popular posthumously. The author, Stieg Larsson, passed shortly after handing in the third manuscript. I enjoyed the writing in the book. It was different than my norm. While the pacing felt off, ultimately I liked the main character enough to start the second book.


I'd heard of this book for over a year but didn't get around to reading it until I saw the movie trailer and realized there was romance involved. I really enjoyed the writing and story. The premise/setting was really intriguing, the characters (most of them) were well-rounded and the way Sara Gruen set up the story was interesting. Now I'm ready to watch the movie!




What have you been reading? Any recommendations for 2012?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Put Your Character in a Box

The irony of characters, in my opinion, is that in order to make them real, we have to make them unreal.

What I mean is, no real person can be put in a box and labeled. But to write a character that stands out, we must give that character overarching qualities (labels, even) in order to make that character real and memorable.

When I was in middle school I went on a retreat and we did an intriguing exercise. On the outside of a paper bag we wrote words that described how others thought of us (or how we feel we appear to others). On the inside of the bag we wrote words to describe how we felt on the inside.

I think this is a great exercise to do with our characters. For example, I'm reading The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo right now. One main character, Blomkvist, doesn't stand out to me at all. He's okay but he doesn't capture my interest. The other character, though, is Lisbeth Sanders. She's intriguing.

This is how I think the author made her intriguing.

On the outside of Lisbeth's box (other characters' perspectives or her outward actions) is written Aloof, Cold, Difficult, Smart.

But on the inside is Tender (evidenced by the scene with her mother), Fragile, and Persistent.

What makes a character intriguing is when the outside words juxtapose with the inside words. When they're opposites or don't seem to match.

Which word is on the outside of your character's box? What is on the inside that surprises the reader? Does this theory fit for your favorite character in a movie or book?