The MacGregor Legacy - From Scotland to the Carolinas

(Book 1 - For Love or Loyalty) (Book 2 - For Love or Country) (Book 3 - For Love or Liberty)

Path of Freedom, Quilts of Love series

1858 North Carolina - When Quakers Flora Saferight and Bruce Millikan embark on the Underground Railroad, they agree to put their differences aside to save the lives of a pregnant slave couple..

Highland Sanctuary, (Highland series - Book 2)

1477 Scotland - A chieftain heir is hired to restore Briagh Castle and discovers a hidden village of outcasts who have created their own private sanctuary from the world.

Highland Blessings, (Book 1 - Highland series)

1473 Scotland - The story of a highland warrior who kidnaps the daughter of his greatest enemy and clan chief to honor a promise to his dying father.

Awakened Redemption (Inspirational Regency)

1815 England - A story that pierces the heart and captures the Regency era.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Book Review - Before the Season Ends



by Linore Rose Burkhard

This is a delightful book that will sweep you away to Regency England until you are caught up in a sweet romance that inspires your faith. The characters are believable with a multi-dimensional depth that brings them alive to the reader. The story is compelling and keeps you reading to see how the hero and heroine will overcome their differences. Linore Burkhard has an excellent command of the Regency period and brings her readers into the time period as if they are living it.

Backcover Blurb:

Romantic woes at home send Ariana Forsyth to her wealthy Aunt Bentley's townhouse in fashionable Mayfair, London. Under her aunt's calculating eye, Ariana is thrust into high society and a worse intrigue than that which prompted her flight from home. A scandalous rumor involving her with London's current darling rogue, the taciturn, though handsome, Mr. Phillip Mornay, is launched on society in a malicious act of meanness that changes Ariana's life forever. Her faith, her future, and her heart are all at stake as she strives to clear her name and resist the man who does not share her faith.

Will Ariana's beliefs survive? And what about her heart? For it is that part of her which most threatens to betray the truths she has always believed in. When she finds herself backed against a wall, betrothed to the wrong man, how will it ever turn out right?

From the country village Chesterton to the ballroom of the Prince Regent's London palace, Before the Season Ends will take you to Regency England where you'll find a world so elegant and comfortable, you'll want to stay for a long, long time.

Visit Linore Rose Burkhard's website at: www.linoreroseburkhard.com.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Write the Moment

There are times when writers are inspired to write the moment. It’s a place, time, event or a significant moment with a loved one that can inspire the writing muse within us. But what we may be inspired to write is something other than the next scene in our current work in progress (WIP).

Why is this a problem?

Because if we do not discipline or redirect the impulsive urge to write something new, we may never finish our current project. Many talented authors, published and unpublished alike, have a number of unfinished manuscripts. You can’t sell what isn’t finished. Nor can you experience that feeling of accomplishment if you haven’t completed it. And if you’re on deadline, you MUST abide by your contract and meet your deadline on that specific book.

You might feel that you can’t write your best if you aren’t in the mood to write, or if you’re feeling inspired to write a Scottish Medieval and your current WIP is an American historical. Your best writing is when your internal muse is inspired. So how do you take advantage of writing the moment when you’re on deadline or determined to finish your current WIP?

My advice is to go ahead and write the moment so you can get it out of your system and back to your current WIP. It may be a scene, several different inspiring phrases on a particular subject such as the sea, the woods, or the snow. Keep a log of these inspirational scenes and phrases. There are days when a writer’s well is dry and you may need to draw from your over abundance of past writing muses.

The last time I was at the beach, I was in the mood to write, but my current WIP was a historical set in Hartsville, South Carolina with no nearby beach. So I sat on the balcony, overlooking the ocean and the rising sun shining across the rippling surface of the water like shards of crystals and wrote at least twenty different phrases that described the waves crashing upon the shore and the atmosphere of the sea.

I keep a log of novel phrases and these will go under the category of “Sea Descriptions” in my log. Next time I’m writing a novel with a beach scene, I’ll pull out these phrases for inspiration. I may use a few as they are or they may inspire me to write something fresh and new. The point is that I didn’t waste writing the moment. I stored it away for a time when it will be useful.

Create a Novel Scene Log and Novel Phrase Log on your computer. Set up a few basic categories and add to it as you go. I write my log like a book in Microsoft Word and I set up the categories as headings and subheadings. I then use detailed Table of Contents feature so I can easily search for the phrases and topics I might want to look up later. This log system will help you when your creative well runs dry and it will also take advantage of when you want to write the moment.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Wallpaper in the Colonies


Most people don't think of wallpaper when they think of colonial homes in America, but it did exist. Colorful wallpaper with elaborate designs were imported into the country from Europe.

Of course, it wasn't something the average farm family purchased. Mostly it was only affordable for wealthy plantation owners and merchants. The photo to the left is of the inside room of the Rosedale Plantation home in Charlotte, North Carolina, showing the original imported wallpaper from France. The photo below is a close-up of the design. The home was built in 1815.


The inventor of wallpaper is a Frenchman by the name of Jean-Michel Papillon, who began making block designs in 1675. At first, most wallpaper were expensive hand-painted designs until the use of printing it became available and economical. In America, Plunket Fleeson began printing wallpaper as early as 1739 in Philadelphia. Besides on walls, it was also used as trunk linings.

Frenchman, Christophe-Philippe Oberkampf invented the first machine for printing wallpaper in 1785. It was also a Frenchman who invented a way to make a continuous roll of wallpaper around the same time. For more information on the history of wallpaper, click here.

So if you are writing about a wealthy family in Europe or America during these time periods, feel free to describe a home with rooms decorated in wallpaper.


Monday, December 22, 2008

Writing for the Market

In these difficult economic times, writers are struggling with whether to write the stories on their hearts or write what the market will buy and sell. If you are depending on your writing income for a living, the pressure to write for a market may be even stronger. So what should a writer do?

I think it depends on where you are in your career and what doors are open to you. It's hard for a new, unpublished writer to break into publishing during great economic times, but even harder during a recession. But as Christians, we have to remember that God is still on the throne and He's the same God in the best of times, as well as the worst of times. Several authors and I are a testament, that new, unpublished authors can receive their first contract during a recession. In fact, it seems like more of a miracle.

Pre-published Authors
If you are still unpublished, take advantage of the fact that you can write whatever is on your heart and on a schedule that is convenient for you and your family. One positive aspect about a recession is that it's temporary. The market will change again, and if you are willing to be patient, it will swing back in favor of what you're writing. With God, everything is about timing and occurs in its proper season.

Don't try to write to a market. By the time you finish your book and begin shopping it around to editors, the market will have changed again. This is a time to sharpen your skills and have other books available. If you have plenty of finished manuscripts to sell, a publisher will be more confident in your ability to finish a novel, to write a series, and meet deadlines so you won't be a "one-book wonder". You will have more to offer readers after your first book is contracted.

New Contracted Authors
These authors have a foot in the door, but they don't have a sales history and may not be able to get anything published that would be considered "risky". Writers with new contracts are getting feedback directly from their agent and publishers. They know more about the direction of the market because of this feedback. These authors can talk to their contacts and receive professional input to which most unpublished authors don't have access.

For instance, a publisher gave me a revision letter six months ago that would require me to rewrite a significant amount of a manuscript. Since then the recession has hit hard and they have stopped buying fiction. My agent has pulled me off that story and has me lengthening another manuscript for a different editor that showed some interest. This publisher is still buying books in spite of the recession. This isn't something I would have known without my agent's guidance. 


In this case, I'm not exactly writing to a market, but I'm reworking what I've already written to make it more marketable for what is in demand now. 


Multi-Published Authors
These authors have a proven sales history, a foot in the door with several publishers, and an agent helping them to manage their career. They can sell books on proposal and may even be asked to write a book for a "risky" sub-genre that a publisher might want to test in the market. Multi-published authors are in a better position to determine if they want to write for the market, write books from their hearts, or a combination of both. 


I say this, because their manuscripts are rarely thrown in the slush pile. They are read faster than an unknown author and their stories will be contracted faster as a result. They can catch a trend much quicker than a new author. Many depend on their writing income for a living and write full-time. This means they can finish books faster than an author who is trying to write between a day job, family and church acitivities. 


I believe an author can write both to the market and the books of their heart, especially when they stay true to what God has called them to write. This doesn't mean there won't be down times, but it does mean that you might grow from one season to another. In other words, what you start out writing during the first ten years may evolve into something different through the next ten years.

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Scotch-Irish: Who Are They?


Growing up in North Carolina, I always knew we had a huge group of Scotch-Irish settlers in the Piedmont of the Carolinas, but I didn't understand their ancestry. Were they from Scotland or Ireland? Many of them had been here for so many generations that they no longer knew where they came from--my family included. I was left to assume the Scotch had intermarried with the Irish and that is why they were called the Scotch-Irish. But as I've recently discovered, there is much more to the story.

This week I will finish reading The Scotch-Irish: A Social History by James G. Leyburn published by the North Carolina University Press. It begins with Scotland in the 16th century and lays out the lifestyle and condition of the Scottish families and Scotland as a country on the political front. What I have discovered is sad, but the spirit of these people was never broken. They have endured and sought new opportunities to better themselves, and many thrived when given the chance. They had strong convictions and they lived by them, even through oppression and persecution.

Most families were living in poverty and renting their farmland and homestead from an overlord, who considered it his responsibility to protect the tenants on his land. With so much lawlessness, families and neighboring villagers were dependent upon each other from other Scots raiders. Feuds often broke out among the overlords regarding land boundaries, while the number one cause was cattle stealing. It seemed that Scotland was in a constant state of undeclared civil war, while always fighting the English. These people had a hard life and to other countries seemed barbarious in the way they lived.

The borders between Scotland and England were very difficult to maintain under control, but in 1603 when James VI of Scotland became James I of England after Queen Elizabeth's death, both countries finally had a common ruler. He enforced military retaliation against border raiding, and appointed English and Scottish commissioners to catch criminals that tried to escape passed the borders. They were sent back to their own country to be tried by the court. By 1610, the borders were under control enough for safe travel and prosperous trade between the two countries. The lowland Scots adapted to this new way of life, but the Highlanders in the up country of Scotland continued to live in their barbaric ways. The Highlander prided himself on how well he could reive a Lowlander's cattle and almost thought of it as a sport. This developed a dislike between the Highlanders and the Lowlanders.

England decided to try and subdue the Irish who they saw as wild and untamed as the Highland Scot. While the Reformation achieved its purpose in Scotland and many were converted from Paganism and Catholism to Protestant, no such reformation had occurred in Ireland. Queen Elizabeth decided to colonize Ulster of Ireland, a province of the counties of Armagh, Cavan, Donegal, Derry, Fermanagh, and Tyrone in northern Ireland. Her hope was to transport English families there to bring change, but many English had no desire to be transplanted. But the Scottish families were ripe for establishing the colony. They were Protestant (Presbyterian) and they were looking for an opportunity to leave their poverty stricken homes for the hope and promise of new lands, prosperity, and a chance to do better for themselves and their families. In 1609, England opened the Ulster Colony to Scotsmen.

Over the next century the colony prospered. The Irish were not happy losing their land and being forced to give up what was theirs, but over time they began to accept the Scottish. Some Irish families intermarried with the Scottish and new generations had begun to think of themselves as Irish even though their ancestors were Scottish. These were the Scotch-Irish.

In 1717, their landlords began raising rents higher than the common people could afford. The English colonies of America were sending representatives to Ulster hoping to hire indentured servants and find Ulsterman who would work on their plantations. They promised a land of opportunity, prosperity, and a chance to save enough money to purchase their own land. Many couldn't pay for their own passage, so they sold themselves as indentured servants for four to seven years. At the end of their indenture, some would receive an agreed upon sum of money and even a tract of land, and some basic farming tools. After the first wave of Ulsterman emigrated, they wrote back to their kinsmen of their success. Things in Ulster had grown worse and between 1720 - 1750's a mass emigration of Scotch-Irish arrived to the colonies. Many of them came to the Carolinas and settled.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Book Review - "Where Do I Go?"


is introducing
Where Do I Go?

Thomas Nelson (December 9, 2008)
by
Neta Jackson


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
As a husband/wife writing team, Dave and Neta Jackson are enthusiastic about books, kids, walking with God, gospel music, and each other! Together they are the authors or coauthors of over 100 books. In addition to writing several books about Christian community, the Jacksons have coauthored numerous books with expert resource people on a variety of topics from racial reconciliation to medical ethics to ministry to kids in gangs.

Dave and Neta live in Evanston, Illinois, where for twenty-seven years they were part of Reba Place Church, a Christian church community. They are now members of a multi-racial congregation in the Chicago area.

They're trying something new! Not just new for them, but something completely new in Christian fiction: “Parallel novels,” two stories taking place in the same time frame, same neighborhood, involving some of the same characters living through their own dramas and crises but interacting with and affecting one another … just the way it happens in real life.

It’s something that only a husband and wife writing team could pull off. While Neta has Where Do I Go?, her husband Dave has written Harry Bentley's Second Chance.


ABOUT THE BOOK:

A story of seeking-and finding-God's will in unlikely places.

Gabrielle Fairbanks has nearly lost touch with the carefree, spirited young woman she was when she married her husband fifteen years ago. But when the couple moves to Chicago to accommodate Philip's business ambitions, Gabby finds the chance to make herself useful. It's there she meets the women of Manna House Women's Shelter; they need a Program Director-and she has a degree in social work. She's in her element, feeling God's call on her life at last, even though Philip doesn't like the changes he sees in her. But things get rough when Philip gives Gabby an ultimatum: quit her job at the shelter or risk divorce and losing custody of their sons. Gabby must take refuge, as in the song they sing at Sunday night worship: "Where do I go when there's no one else to turn to? . . . I go to the Rock I know that's able, I go to the Rock."

Romantic Times Book Reviews says, “Exquisite characters coupled with God's mercy and love emanate from each page.”

Publisher's Weekly adds, “Jackson's Yada Yada series has sold half a million copies, and this new offshoot series ... promises the same.... The book's dramatic ending ... leav[es] readers eager for the next installment in the series.”

To read the Prologue and first Chapter of Where Do I Go?, go HERE.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Upping the Word Count

Plenty of information exists on how to tighten your sentence structure to cut out unnecessary words and trim the fat from your writing, but few resources explain how to increase the word count. And believe me, adding fluff doesn’t count. An editor will spot it right away and so will avid readers.

To prove my point, I’d like to share my experience during an interview with a well-known, respected editor at a CBA publisher. This editor seemed interested in the story but wouldn’t ask to see it since it was too short for their single-title line. My immediate response was that I could lengthen it. The editor replied that they wouldn’t want me to add “fluff”. I told her I would add a couple of plot twists. She seemed tempted to entertain the thought, but with me being an “inexperienced” and “unpublished” author, she wasn’t willing to take a chance.

So how do you add 25-30K words to a manuscript without making it seem like a bunch of fluff?

I have three methods for increasing the word count. If you only need to add a few thousand words you may only need to choose one or two of these. If you need to add 15K words or more to your manuscript, you may try layering in all three of these methods.

Add a Few Plot Twists
Throw in another obstacle or two to keep your main characters’ from achieving their goals. You may have to deepen their motivation to keep them going, but it will be worth it. Among your new scenes, be sure to show how this will affect them spiritually and emotionally. What reaction can you show that won’t take him/her out of character?

If you are satisfied with the beginning of the story, I would recommend adding a few plot twists around the middle toward the end of the book. This way you will only need to revise the beginning and rewrite from the middle to the end of the story, adding new scenes as necessary.

Add a New Sub-Character
If you choose to add a new character, make sure that character has a specific purpose and is instrumental to the story. Will this character contribute a new viewpoint? How will he/she change the story? What are the advantages and disadvantages? Will this change confuse the reader or add to the depth of the reader’s understanding?

Some characters won’t make or break a story, but they can definitely add flavor through humor and annoyances to enhance it. Examples of some of these characters are the donkey in Shrek, Smee in Hook, and Lilly in the Princess Diary.

Write in Deeper POV
Another way to significantly add to your word count is to write in a deeper point of view. This is a layering concept that connects with the reader on a deeper, emotional level and is much harder for inexperienced writers to achieve. I’ve written a couple of blogs on Digging Deep into POV that may help with understanding this concept. The second post on this topic includes a few examples.


Whenever you need to increase the word count, make sure you add something that is meaningful and not fluff.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Christmas at Historic Biltmore Estates


Biltmore Estates is a beautiful spot nestled in the North Carolina mountains of Asheville, North Carolina. It's the nation's largest privately owned home. It was built in 1895 on an 250,000 acre estate. With 250 rooms, 34 bedrooms, 43 bathrooms, and 65 fireplaces. The mansion took six years to build and the result is a magnificent castle, here in our very own country.


In the spring it is surrounded by lush gardens you can tour and in the winter it is a beautiful site lit with Christmas lights and decorated with greenery throughout the castle. In their dining room, they decorate a 35-ft tall live Christmas tree. I wanted to take photos, but I had to settle for a postcard since photos aren't allowed inside.



The home opened on Christmas Eve 1895 to guests of the owner, George Vanderbuilt. He was born during the Civil War in 1862 and developed a love for books. At age 12 began keeping a log of all the books he had read and continued with this practice for 51 years until his death. He read an average of 81 books a year. The library at Biltmore is one of my favorite rooms. As an author you can imagine my fascination with that room.

There are over 10,000 books in the library and after talking with staff, I discovered there are a number of books in other parts of the house that total to a full collection of 25,000 volumes. Based on the spines of what I could see, most were old hardback books and I'm sure many were original editions of some of the most famous classics in the world. The library itself is filled with books from floor to ceiling with a winding black iron staircase leading to a balcony that circles the whole room. It's exactly the kind of library you read about in historical romance novels set in English history.

George married Edith Stuyvesant Dresser in 1898. Edith has a story of her own having to endure being an orphan and moving to live with her grandparents and then losing them as well. She and George had one daughter, who was 13 years old when George died. Edith once again experienced more loss.


The photo above is of our family inside Biltmore and the background is the actual home. There is no backdrop as a background. The menu is delicious!

The photo to the left is us eating at their restuarant that has been created out of the beautiful Biltmore Stables. The Carriage house is now a shop.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

CFBA Book Review - "Engaging Father Christmas"



FaithWords (October 30, 2008)
by



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Robin grew up in Orange County, California and has lived in all kinds of interesting places, including Reno and Hawai’i.
She and her husband currently live near Portland, Oregon and have been married for 30 years. They spent their first 22 years of marriage working together in youth ministry, and enjoying life with their son and daughter who are now both grown.
As a frequent speaker at local and international events, one of Robin’s favorite topics is how God is the Relentless Lover and we are His first love. She delights in telling stories of how God uses fiction to change lives.
Robin is the recipient of the Christy Award, the Mt. Hermon Pacesetter Award, the Sherwood E. Wirt Award and is a Gold Medallion Finalist. She also serves on the Board of Directors for Media Associates International and the Board of Directors for Jerry Jenkins’ Christian Writers’ Guild.



ABOUT THE BOOK:
Miranda Carson can't wait to return to England for Christmas and to be with her boyfriend, Ian. She has spent a lifetime yearning for a place to call home, and she's sure Carlton Heath will be it, especially when a hinted-at engagement ring slips into the conversation.
But Miranda's high hopes for a jolly Christmas with the small circle of people she has come to love are toppled when Ian's father is hospitalized and the matriarch of the Whitcombe family withholds her blessing from Miranda. Questions run rampant in Miranda's mind about whether she really belongs in this cheery corner of the world. Then, when her true identity threatens all her relationships in unanticipated ways, Miranda is certain all is lost.
And yet...maybe Father Christmas has special gifts in store for her after all.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Engaging Father Christmas, go HERE

Monday, December 08, 2008

Defining: Based on a True Story

Can fiction be based on a true story and still be fiction?

~ My answer: Absolutely

When do you know to call it nonfiction or a novel based on a true story?

~ My answer: That depends

I’m sure there are varying degrees of answers to these questions, but I’ll attempt to give you my version.

Fiction Based on a True Story
The setting of the story may be in a real place and in a time during an actual historical event, but the characters are all fiction. While the setting and plot is true, the story is about characters that do not exist. Therefore, it is fiction. An example would be the Titantic movie. The ship truly sank in 1912. Many perished while a select few were saved on the life boats. There were lots of true historical details, but to our knowledge, Jack and Rose never existed.

If the setting, place and events are real, as well as the characters, it could still be fiction if the characters’ decisions and behaviors are not historically accurate based on what we know in actual history. An example would be the movie Braveheart. We know that William Wallace existed in the place and time depicted by the movie and that he led a rebellion against the king of Great Britain, but we have no evidence, not even any circumstantial evidence, that he had an affair with the king’s wife and produced an heir not of the king’s bloodline. This is Hollywood’s version of distorting the facts and glamorizing the plot.

However, if the setting, place, events and characters are all true, but we lack accurate historical evidence or detailed knowledge of those individuals, information must be created in order to produce the story and move it forward. The author must create dialogue, personalities of each character, paint an image of what each character looks like, as well as their decisions and behaviors as the true historical events take place. An example would be a movie of North Carolina’s Lost Colony in the 1500’s. We know the colony actually existed, who was there, when they arrived, but we don’t know what happened after Sir Walter Raleigh returned for England for supplies and assistance. The rest is based on theory and imagination.

Nonfiction: A True Story
I consider a story to be nonfiction when the setting, place, events and characters are all true and there is clear and accurate detail and evidence of what was said and took place and it is portrayed as it happened. This means we do not make up the plot twists, glamorize inaccurate details and throw creative dialogue to fill in the loop holes. When you start creating dialogue and subplots to make it flow better, you sacrifice accuracy and delve into the “based on a true story” concept.

A great example of a nonfiction story would be the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. When he was on the cross, we know that he asked for water. He could have said, “I thirst” or “I’m parched” or “I’m dehydrated” or “Water, please”. All of these statements mean the same thing. How he stated it, is up to interpretation based on translation. But as long as the story shows what he stated within the context of what he meant, it is nonfiction. If the story shows him asking for a Coke, we’d know it was fiction. Coke didn’t exist in his time.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Rural Hill Farm - Scottish Heritage

I wanted to tell you about a delightful place that my family visited a couple of months ago. It's the Rural Hill Farm - A Scottish Heritage in Huntersville, North Carolina. Rural Hill is on a colonial plantation that was owned and farmed by the Davidson family. They emigrated from Dundee, Scotland in the 1730's and arrived to the Carolinas by way of The Great Wagon Road from Pennsylvania.





The house above on the left is a reconstruction of a log cabin. The stone structures in the photo on the right are the remnants of the original Davidson Plantation Home. It was built in 1788 and was the home of John Davidson and his wife, Violet Wilson Davidson. There is a watercolor painting of it what it might have looked like before it burned. The Davidsons advocated education and had two schools on their property one for white children and another one for colored children.


Today, they have the Amazing Maize Maze you can wander through in the fall. They always do an educational theme and create a treasure hunt out of it. And don't worry, if you get too lost, they give your group a huge flag you can hold up for assistance. This was helpful as we had my father-in-law with us and he has a heart condition and couldn't finish. In the photo above, Dwayne, my husband, is holding the flag. Winston, my father-in-law is resting, Celina, my daughter, is next to him. Helen, my mother-in-law is next to her, and then me. They provide tents where they sell food, give hay rides and offer tours if you're interested in the history.

You can tour their historical buildings and their preservation/recontruction projects. In the spring they have a number of events. They host the annual Loch Norman Highland games at Rural Hill, which usually occurs in April. Check out their website for more information if you're interested in attending, http://www.ruralhill.net/. Other events include Sheep Dog Trials and Kilted Clay Shoot, etc. They are also featuring a group trip to Scotland.


I would love to visit that great country, especially since I have so many ancestors from there. (Morgans, Fraizers, MacGregors, Galloways) And my husband's family has ancestors from there as well. (Campbells, Hendersons, Grants) I guess my daughter is full of Scotch-Irish blood! But I can't afford the trip just yet. But I'm praying I will--soon!


I'll be posting more Scotch-Irish/Celtic sites and historical information since Promised Blessings, my Scottish Medieval, will be out in Spring 2010! I'm also doing Scotch-Irish research on my family history and planning to write more books in this genre.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

CFBA Book Review - "Dark Pursuit"


is introducing
Dark Pursuit

Zondervan (December 1, 2008)
by



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Brandilyn Collins is known for her trademark Seatbelt Suspense®. She is currently working on her 20th book. For chances to win free copies of her work, join her Fan Club on Facebook. Here’s what Brandilyn has to say about why she wrote Dark Pursuit:
In John Milton’s Paradise Lost Satan’s followers, kicked out of heaven, boast about storming the gates and reclaiming their territory. Beelzebub scoffs at their boasting as merely “hatching vain empires” and suggests a different revengeful scheme: seduce mankind away from God. So Satan visits the Garden of Eden to teach humans the very thing he and his cohorts have learned to be futile—the dark pursuit of hatching their own vain empires instead of following God. He presented man with this “gift” of death, disguised as life. And man fell for it.
Upon this theme of man’s fall and spiritual blindness, I created the characters and events in Dark Pursuit. The story clips along at a fast pace, with much symbolism running underneath.



ABOUT THE BOOK

Dark Pursuit—A twisting story of murder, betrayal, and eternal choices
Novelist Darell Brooke lived for his title as King of Suspense—until an auto accident left him unable to concentrate. Two years later, reclusive and bitter, he wants one thing: to plot a new novel and regain his reputation.
Kaitlan Sering, his twenty-two-year-old granddaughter, once lived for drugs. After she stole from Darell, he cut her off. Now she’s rebuilding her life. But in Kaitlan’s town two women have been murdered, and she’s about to discover a third. She’s even more shocked to realize the culprit—her boyfriend, Craig, the police chief’s son.
Desperate, Kaitlan flees to her estranged grandfather. For over forty years, Darell Brooke has lived suspense. Surely he’ll devise a plan to trap the cunning Craig.
But can Darell’s muddled mind do it? And—if he tries—with what motivation? For Kaitlan’s plight may be the stunning answer to the elusive plot he seeks...
Read the first chapter of Dark Pursuit, HERE.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Using the Holidays to Study Characters

As usual the holidays have gotten me off schedule, but I have gained some wisdom and pounds from my Thanksgiving break. I’m dieting this week to shed those extra pounds. The wisdom, I’ve decided to share with you.

Most likely, you spent some time around family and friends during your Thanksgiving meal. I bet you witnessed some amazing characters, intriguing dialogue, and some idiosyncrasies that were just plain weird, and probably a few other things in the mix.

No matter how many novels you read, writing books you devour, movies you watch, writing workshops you take, or writing conferences you attend, nothing can teach you more about characterization than living life itself. Your friends and family, and especially new acquaintances, will teach you more about creating characters if you will only study them.

While your holiday experience is still fresh in your mind, I suggest you log what you remember.

Create a list of categories and subcategories. Below is an example of some of the categories you can set.
  • Dialogue
  • Behaviors
  • Scenes
  • Emotion
  • Quirks
  • Expressions & Body Movement

    Dialogue
    You might list subcategories for one-liners, jokes, tones, hysterics, accent, etc. Among some of the people you talked to over the holidays, whose conversation sticks out in your mind the most? Why? Was it what they said? How they said it? Were they witty? Were they scholarly and intellectual? Or was it an obnoxious person who had a snide comment about everything that was said? Were his one-liners funny or uncomfortable? Was this person loud, always talking over others and cutting them off?

    Behaviors
    You might list subcategories for friendliness, rudeness, assistance, laziness, sadness, happiness, loneliness etc. I witnessed someone making a political statement in front of someone he knew felt differently from him and then watched to see how that person would react. If I wanted to use this behavior in a book, it would be a great way to antagonize another character. Other behaviors I noticed were people getting drinks for others when they didn’t have to.

    Scenes
    You might list outdoor scenes under each season, or break them down by events such as skating rink, snow tubing, skiing, swimming, walking, jogging, etc. Indoor scenes could be broken down by location such as businesses, restaurants, churches, shopping malls, theaters, etc. Traveling could be broken down by planes, trains, vehicles, tourist attractions, museums, festivals, etc.

    One scene that won’t leave me would be perfect for a movie. We went snow tubing in the mountains. The first couple of times I went down, it was great. Each lane was built up with a snow wall. As the evening wore on, the temperature dropped and the snow froze, making it slick. My husband thought he’d give me a huge shove. I went flying and I tried to lean my weight to keep my tube in my lane, but I was going so fast, I lost control. My tube jumped the snow wall, went into another lane, kept going, until I hit a woman standing on the side. Her legs went right from under her. She sailed into the air and hit her hand on the hard ground. Needless, to say I felt horrible. We were all embarrassed. And my mother-in-law wouldn’t stop laughing. Now what if this was a scene where the heroine met her hero as she plunged into him? I think it would be great.

    Emotion
    You might list subcategories for happy, sad, angry, hurt, shock, distraught, discomfort, etc. There was a moment where my dad came in and noticed my Christmas village. I had two churches set up and he pointed to one of them and said, “Wasn’t that Grandma’s?” I nodded and he looked down as an awkward silence followed. Without another word, I knew he was thinking of her and missing her. It suddenly made me miss her as well.

    Quirks
    You might list habits, traditions, superstitions, unconscious behaviors, disabilities, etc. Okay, I’m going to tell on myself. Everywhere I go, I collect postcards from where I’ve been. Even if I’ve been there before, I still buy new postcards and I put the year on them as to when I visited there. My husband has accepted my little quirk. Now when we go somewhere, if he sees the postcards before I do, he makes sure to point them out to me. I think this might be his unspoken way of getting me out of the store faster.

    We went to the Biltmore House and my father-in-law has a heart condition and is on oxygen. He’s a little stubborn and always trying to push himself to do more than he should. He left his tank and wheelchair on the second floor and decided to walk up the stairs from there. He became winded and needed to ride the original 1895 elevator back down. If I used this in a book, I could heighten the tension in the story by having the elevator stall before he reaches his oxygen, especially given the age of the elevator.

    You might not be writing a story where any of your recent holiday experiences would fit in a scene, but it may be appropriate in your next story or one you write three years from now. If you log your experiences, you’ll have them for later when you might need them. I hope I’ve given you some creative ideas.
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