Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Far From Here by Nicole Baart (& a bonus question answered)

Far From Here engaged me right from the start with its thoughtful descriptions, unexpected twists, and relatable familial bonds. Nicole pieces together a beautifully raw story where one woman’s agonizing contemplation over her husband’s disappearance solidifies to dedicated resolve over time.

I identify with Nicole’s devotion to portraying realistic characters. Through gifted storytelling, Nicole’s exploration of loss, grief, and eventual forgiveness is tangible and crawl-inside-my-head familiar.

Danica and Etsell Greene’s marriage is convoluted. Etsell’s mysterious departure complicates Danica’s impression of what they’ve built. In her literary work, Nicole surrounds Danica with strong character defining women who each do their part in helping Danica make peace with her present circumstances.

I found myself continuing asking if I’d make the same decisions Danica did. In light of this, I’m confident Far From Here would make an excellent book club selection.

Because Nicole and I have established a connection in the past, I was eager to ask her the following question:

Moi: What surprised you most while writing Far From Here?

Nicole: Hmmm...tough question. I think the thing that surprised me most while writing FAR FROM HERE was discovering that hope changes. I used to consider hope a stagnant, definable, specific thing, as if it was one certain wishing star instead of (potentially) the entire stunning array of the galaxies. For example, I never stopped to ponder this before, but when Aaron and I were seriously dating, I entertained the hope of an engagement ring. I had an idea of what I wanted it to look like and the words that I hoped he would use as he presented it to me, but the longer I knew him and the deeper I fell in love with him, that hope shifted significantly. I didn't even notice it happening, but I started out wishing for a princess cut diamond engagement ring, and ended up longing for a deep, abiding, faithful marriage with the man who I knew I couldn't live without. Who cared about a stupid ring? He could have made me a friendship ring out of twine and I'd still be wearing it with pride. I believe that as we change and grow, our hopes change and grow. That was a surprising, and beautiful discovery that I made as I wrote FAR FROM HERE.

Thanks for that intimate and poignant glimpse, Nicole! And Congratulations on your starred review on Publishers Weekly!

To connect more with Nicole visit her website!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Love in the Time of Social Media (Part 1)

Social media reminds me of the fire-breathing dragon from Shrek. With new sites gaining popularity every day, social media oozes the intimidation factor…that is until you subdue it with your discipline and your wisdom. In other words, you bring your donkey. (Remember how the dragon became putty in Shrek’s hands as soon as the big purple scaly thing fell for the donkey?) 

(Those who haven’t seen Shrek are scratching their heads saying, “Where is she going with this one?”)

Keep reading. I promise I’ll lead you somewhere.

In this time of social media, knowledge, heck, information in general (doesn’t always fall in the category of knowledgeable) spreads like dragon-breathed fire. Because of this, a few things concerning love, your love, your passion become paramount in the process of discerning what to focus on and what to click away from.

What is it that excites you when you wake up? Are you a mom? A writer? A photographer? An abolitionist?  You love something. You’re passionate about something.

Because of social media you’ve found networks to connect with, people who share your passion. This is good. But like so many good things in life, social media has another side to its coin.

Today I’m going to explore the blessings and the curses of social media in our time. And how it impacts that calling, that love of yours.

Here’s something to ask yourself: Would you still feel as fervently about ________________ (your answer to the above) if every single social media site vanished tomorrow?

Take a moment to strip away all potential for online connection and you are left with ________________.
In other words, there must be something intrinsically valuable to you about what you love that no bad review, no shunning, no comparison trap, no unpredictable fluctuation in the market can take away.

We are wise to learn how to tap into the blessings of social media while not allowing ourselves to get tripped up by the curses.

Let’s do a little blessing/curse 101 review:

Social media has completely changed the way people interrelate and showcase their talents. Folks can interact with the potential to impact a worldwide audience. It’s convenient. It’s visual. Conversations are readily stirred to life.

Access to information has become fabulously available at our fingertips. Word of mouth and platform building are not only made possible through social media sites, but they are fueled by online exchange. Most of all, relationships can seed and develop in these venues.

The true Flotsam & Jetsam spurned from social media are distraction and comparison. Your love has the potential to be knocked down and burnt down quicker than you can say dragon 1, human 0 when you aren’t careful with your time online.

Social media sites are often void of accountability, making it easier to evade depth and transparency.
It’s easy to become ensnared by a dangerous addiction to praise or an avoidance of criticism while navigating the murky waters of the web.

In the attempt to feed your passion by connecting with others, you may actually be starving it unaware. Online activity has a way of creating a false plumpness when the reality is your time spent actually mothering, writing, taking photos, or volunteering has dwindled down to that of a Slim Jim.

So, what’s the best way to bring your donkey when it comes to these blessings and curses? How do we remain wise and discerning in order to feed our love?

I think the following verses communicate the answer:

 “Do not neglect your gift.” 1 Timothy 4:14

“Live creatively, friends. Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.” Galatians 1a, 4-5 (Message) (thanks Wendy Lawton for pointing this verse out in a recent Books & Such blog post)

Remember to bring your donkey, folks!

*Warning: this post challenges you to live prayerfully, with discernment. It’s only for those open to growth.
**picture by stockXCHNG
***blogging rock star author celebrated on my FB writer page today

Friday, February 24, 2012

Moving Thoughts Friday

Every Friday I’m going to ask a question. The questions I choose might be ambiguous on purpose. The goal is to have you answer the question according to your beliefs, where you’re at in life or a circumstance that might have recently impacted you. The only thing I ask is that you provide an explanation for why you answered the way you did.

It’s my hope to understand you better through this and also to gain a greater understanding of humanity and how people make decisions.

Do you think everyone’s true colors are eventually revealed?

*photos by Stock.XCHNG

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

8 Ways to be the Life of the Party

I’m not talking lampshade on your head, doing the moonwalk while singing “Party in the USA” in your best Miley Cyrus voice kind of life, but I will not stop you if this is the kind of life you want to bring to a party.

What I am referring to is the kind of soul who breathes life into a room because of their spirit of generosity, kindness, willingness to engage others in conversation, their bright outlook, thoughtful nature, and expression of selflessness.

Anyone can draw attention to themselves. But not everyone can attend a party and cause those they’ve interacted with to feel uplifted—to feel more vibrant and alive. It’s this kind of life I’m talking about.

And here are 8 ways to bring it:

Bring a thoughtful gift (for the host or hostess)
I remember when we first moved into our house a new friend brought me spices. You might be thinking what’s a stressed out newcomer going to do with spices in a house crammed with brown boxes (aka best toy in the world for toddlers). But that’s just it. Spices would have been the last thing I would have gone digging for. I know it wasn’t a party, but that friend brought a little life to me the day she gave me spices.

Pass along compliments
If a friend has shared something kind about another mutual friend take the time to pass along the kind word.

Ask questions
Demonstrate interest in others. There is no better way to get out of a pity party for yourself than to adjust your focus and become invested in others. And don’t pick favorites. Be open to talking with any and everyone. Great conversations might be waiting with those you least expect.

Introduce two friends who share a common bond
This is truly one of my favorite things to do. It’s so fun to watch a friendship develop in this scenario.

Offer to help
With the dishes. Passing out food. Collecting coats. Most hostesses are stress cases. An excellent way to bring life to a party is through helping when it is least expected. Trust me, it’s remembered.

Smile (and heck, laugh at yourself if you spill something on your dress or trip as you enter a home)
Woo hoo, you’re real. You’re likable. And smiles go a long way when it comes to stirring a room to life.

Respect party hours
Don’t show up too early or leave when your hostess has yawned (without covering her mouth) four times in a row, let you know it’s past her bedtime, and has slipped into her fuzzy Velveteen Rabbit slippers (do they make those? If so, I want them). One of the above should be enough of a clue.

Take the time to absorb
Take in your surroundings. Instigate conversations worth remembering. And register what others are saying to the point where you can refer to topics spoken about previously. Establish connections in conversation and with people.

Has anyone ever brought life to one of your parties by notably doing one of the above? Can you think of other ways to be the “life” of a party?

*photo by stockXCHNG

Monday, February 20, 2012

What I Learned from The Wonder Years

I’ve already officially put it out there. You know, that I watched a herculean amount of TV as a kid. (Always putting a positive spin on things, aren’t I?) So, what of it? I’m now looking back to figure out if anything good came of all those hours my eyes stayed glued to the TV.

And after a spell, drifting in and out of reverie I do believe I did learn a thing or two.

Remember Kevin Arnold from The Wonder Years? I do. Not only do I remember him, I was born with the same reflective gene he apparently had. He felt the need to revisit certain scenes of his life and evaluate their lasting impact. Uh, sound like anyone you know?

Seriously though, it was during this show when I breathed my first sigh of relief. The message getting through: I’m not the only one who treks down memory lane in hopes to glean something of value.

Another takeaway: You can come from the same two parents but be remarkably different. Karen, the hippie. Wayne, the older bully brother butthead. And Kevin, the over thinker. Boy, did I relate to Kevin.
In our family we had our own breakfast club. If my three sisters and I had to slap labels on, we’d have been the brain, the rebel, the athlete, and the comedian (yes, I’m the baby and yes, my family found me quite funny…good thing someone did). Another sigh of relief. Message received: I’m not the only one with family members starkly different than me.

One particular episode of The Wonder Years conjures up a powerful lesson. Kevin’s neighbor is killed in the war (if memory serves, I believe Winnie’s older brother is the one who dies). His death shakes up the neighborhood, bringing the reality of war from their black and white TVs into their personal lives. Message communicated: Neighbors matter. (More on this at a later time. We’ve been going through our own share of neighborhood upheaval lately.)

Finally, The Wonder Years taught me not to give up. Hey, it happened for Kevin & Winnie, didn’t it?

Remember this show? Did you watch it? Why do you think it became so well-liked?

*All “I”s on a dear friend on my FB writer page today!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Moving Thoughts Friday

Every Friday I’m going to ask a question. The questions I choose might be ambiguous on purpose. The goal is to have you answer the question according to your beliefs, where you’re at in life or a circumstance that might have recently impacted you. The only thing I ask is that you provide an explanation for why you answered the way you did.

It’s my hope to understand you better through this and also to gain a greater understanding of humanity and how people make decisions.

A bestselling author wants to write your life story. Their publisher is on board. They both ask your opinion about what would make the best cover. What say you? Cover your life.

*photos by Stock.XCHNG (except the one of the 3 girls)

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Your Black Moment: When Everything Falls Apart by Gina Conroy

As I continue on this journey of faith and publication it becomes more and more apparent that I’m the protagonist in my own story, and God is the author, moving me along my story arc as I race toward my happy ending.

While there is comfort in knowing that God is the ultimate author, and my story is safe in his hands, there is also fear.

I’m a writer. I know what authors do to their protagonists to get them to the end so they can be the person they were created to be. So they can ultimately reject the lies they’ve been believing about themselves, and embrace the essence of who they truly are.

And walk in truth.

The protagonist must be taken on a soul-searching, gut-wrenching journey. A journey that tears them wide open, where everything in their life falls apart to bring them to their black moment where they cry “Lord, you’re the only hope for this heart.”

I've been there before and I probably will be there again.

I've struggled with figuring out where I fit in this writing world, where God wants me to be. Trying hard not to listen to the lies blaring in my ears that tell me I can’t do this. That it’s too hard. That I’m a nobody. That I will never be who I dream to be, and maybe, just maybe, this is all that God has for me, and I should be content.

Yet, deep inside there’s always a pull, a longing to embrace the essence of who I know I am, who God created me to be, but not sure if I have the strength to go on.
I’ve experienced what it feels like to be lost, wandering around in my own story arc. Have I reached my black moment in my writing life? Have I surrendered all? Will there be a happily ever after?

I don’t know, but what I do know is that when things fall apart in my writing life, God's voice comes through loud and clear.

I remember the day last summer I felt everything was falling apart in my writing life and God's message, through a song, was clear.

“When everything falls apart
Your arms hold me together
When everything falls apart
You’re the only hope for this heart
When everything falls apart
And my strength is gone
I find you mighty and strong
You keep holding on
You keep holding on.”

Where are you in your writing journey? In your life's story? Will you let go and let God hold things together for you?

Trust me, it's much easier and a whole lot more freeing than trying to hold on yourself!

Gina Conroy used to think she knew where her life was headed; now she's leaning on the Lord to show her the way. She is the founder of Writer...Interrupted where she mentors busy writers and tries to keep things in perspective, knowing God's timing is perfect, even if she doesn't agree with it! ;) She is represented by Chip MacGregor of MacGregor Literary, and her first novella, Buried Deception, in the Cherry Blossom Capers Collection, releases from Barbour Publishing in January 2012. On her blog Defying Gravity and twitter she chronicles her triumphs and trials as she pursues her dreams while encouraging her family and others to chase after their own passions. Gina loves to connect with readers, and when she isn’t writing, teaching, or driving kids around, you can find her on Facebook and Twitter.

My Novella: Buried Deception
Mount Vernon archaeology intern and widow Samantha Steele wants to provide for her children without assistance from anyone. Security guard and ex-cop Nick Porter is haunted by his past and keeps his heart guarded. But when they discover an artifact at Mount Vernon is a fake, Nick and Samantha need to work together, set aside their stubbornness, and rely on each other or the results could be deadly. Will Samantha relinquish her control to a man she hardly knows? Can Nick learn to trust again? And will they both allow God to excavate their hearts so they can find new love?

*I love having Gina guest post here today. We go way back. She’s a valued friend and it’s thrilling to cheer her on in this writing journey.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Getting Straight to the Heart of It

From a young age we’re told to follow it. It’s the lonely hunter. We’re not supposed to go breaking it.

And hopefully, you’ve heard the most valuable advice of all: We need to “guard it, for it is the wellspring of life.”

So, what’s a woman to do about the squishy organ that for some odd reason reminds me of a bagpipe?

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.” ― C.S. Lewis

“The heart was made to be broken.” ― Oscar Wilde

“If I can stop one heart from breaking, I shall not live in vain.” ― Emily Dickinson

“I believe a strong woman may be stronger than a man, particularly if she happens to have love in her heart. I guess a loving woman is indestructible.” ― John Steinbeck, East of Eden:

Hear that, women? Indestructible. I thought I’d give you six more tips to help you keep your heart indestructible.

6 tips to help heart health:
Fish. Eat it.
Take the stairs.
Learn your fats & oils. (Limit saturated fats, trans fat & salt from your diet).
This article explains more.
Manage stress (breathe)
Quit Smoking
Drink tea & laugh (read
this educational article for more).

Let’s get out there and make music with our bagpipe organs. After all, soon it will be…well, spring.

For here’s what I’m going to do…I’ll pour water over you and scrub you clean. I’ll give you a new heart, put a new spirit in you. I’ll remove the stone heart from your body and replace it with a heart that’s God-willed, not self-willed. I’ll put my Spirit in you and make it possible for you to do what I tell you and live by my commands.” ~ Ezekiel 36:25-27 (Message)

*photo by flickr
**Happy Valentine’s Day!

***All "I"s on a dear soul on my FB writer page in a bit.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Moving Thoughts Friday

Every Friday I’m going to ask a question. The questions I choose might be ambiguous on purpose. The goal is to have you answer the question according to your beliefs, where you’re at in life or a circumstance that might have recently impacted you. The only thing I ask is that you provide an explanation for why you answered the way you did.

It’s my hope to understand you better through this and also to gain a greater understanding of humanity and how people make decisions.

Play it safe or Walk on the wild side?

*photos by flickr
**Now I’ve gone & done it. As of last night, I’m on
Google+. Feel free to throw a circle around me.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

8 Writing No-Brainers that Require Brain Power

You write, you wait. Wait for characters to talk, for an agent, for a house to call home, for release day, for reviews…
The publishing industry is a fabulous arena for learning to accrue patience.

“My point is that you do not need me or anyone else around to bring this new kind of light in your life. It is simply waiting out there for you to grasp it, and all you have to do is reach for it.” ― Jon Krakauer, Into the Wild

Beginning & Ending Well
Seems simple enough, right? But establishing a compelling hook from the start and memorable resolve at the end of a novel can be a lot trickier than it sounds.

“Almost a mathematical formula: Stability + Inciting Incident = Instability + Struggle to Resolve Instability = New Stability. Very succinctly, a story is a movement from stability to instability to a new stability.” – Les Edgerton, Hooked

“Actually, all good story endings and resolutions should involve both an element of win and an element of loss.” – Les Edgerton, Hooked

Tightening Your Core
The closer you get to the root of who you are the more equipped you are to flesh out relatable characters, engaging in a must-read story.

“Your problem is how you are going to spend this one and precious life you have been issued. Whether you're going to spend it trying to look good and creating the illusion that you have power over circumstances, or whether you are going to taste it, enjoy it and find out the truth about who you are.” ― Anne Lamott

Creating Strong Characters
Another no-brainer. A collective “Duh” resounds. But if you’ve written your share of novels as I have, you begin to feel the pulse of your characters. The folks in your novel come to life, and in this process, the in your face approach they use can wreak havoc on your determination to exude a confident character as opposed to an arrogant one. Show ‘em who’s boss. Characters, people as they are (see quote below), must remain likeable.

“When writing a novel a writer should create living people; people not characters. A character is a caricature. If a writer can make people live there may be no great characters in his book, but it is possible that his book will remain as a whole; as an entity; as a novel.” – Ernest Hemingway

Checking Your Ego at the Door
Do it for the sake of your novel, so your own judgments don’t enmesh too greatly with those of your characters. You be you and let them be them. Do it for the sake of your own moral fiber. Rid yourself of the entitlement beast and the foolish notion there is a finish line to learning. That race goes on and on and on…

“Becoming a writer is about becoming conscious. When you're conscious and writing from a place of insight and simplicity and real caring about the truth, you have the ability to throw the lights on for your reader. He or she will recognize his or her life and truth in what you say, in the pictures you have painted, and this decreases the terrible sense of isolation that we have all had too much of.” ― Anne Lamott

Asking for Help
Again, not brain science. If we want to improve in any area of life it’s understood that it’s perfectly acceptable to ask for help. But I offer some warnings (some you can glean for yourself in the quote below). Be discerning. Not all writers are cut out to help you. Not all writers have the time. Not all writers know how to encourage and offer constructive criticism. Not all writers are as serious about the craft as you are. Hunt for a solid match.

“A group member should love reading and writing. She should be able to handle criticism of her work without becoming defensive or argumentative. Neither should she be so invested in what she says about another’s work that she takes offense if people don’t agree with her…A good writing group member should be generous…The most important thing a writing group member can do is offer consistently thoughtful comments about the other people’s work, things that let the writer know she has truly paid attention to what has been put before her. – Elizabeth Berg, Escaping into the Open: The Art of Writing True

Choosing Your Battles Carefully
Writing 101 lets us know conflict is a must. But as we advance in our writing skills we learn how to become selective and intentional about when and where to insert conflict into our work. Like everything…there is a time and place.

“Be careful that the scene adds something necessary to the story’s development: information, revelation, discovery, sudden change…Make that conflict rise, as all good conflict should. Don’t jump into it with people yelling, screaming, shooting, and having swords drawn.” –Elizabeth George, Write Away

Watching Your Words
One of my favorite pieces of writing advice is to be diligent about choosing the best words. One of my college professors also challenged me to be hard on myself as an editor. To this day I’m grateful he cared enough and he believed I’d listen.

My grasp of editing has evolved immensely from what I understood it to mean upon the completion of my first novel. Editing was a gentle sweep to the Shop-vac and Annie “Hard Knock Life” scrub down is today.

We must be intentional about weaving a story that has the inherent power to continue braiding in our reader’s minds and lives even after they close the book.

“Description begins in the writer’s imagination, but should finish in the reader’s.” ― Stephen King, On Writing

Which no-brainer requires the most brain power from you? Why do you think? (Or which quote is your favorite & why?)

*photo by flickr

Monday, February 6, 2012

What I Learned from The Golden Girls

I know what you’re thinking. What was a ten-year-old girl doing glued to the TV during an episode of The Golden Girls?

And truthfully, I have no good answer for you. Other than I liked those ladies. They made me laugh. So I never switched the channel to She-Ra (I liked He-Man better anyway) or The People’s Court. (Man, did we have options back in my day.)

If you read my post about Mr. Miyagi you understand it doesn’t take much to serve as an impetus for me to absorb a lifelong lesson. I learned from Dorothy, Rose, Blanche and Sophia. I also liked how golden was the choice word to describe them. Little had I known what it meant at the time.

This quadrangle of ladies passed on the value of friendships. They were there for each other. Simple as that. And that message embedded into my preteen brain.

If you’ve seen the show, did you ever notice how contrasting the characters were? You’ve got your levelheaded, rusty-voiced one, your Sicilian mama, your flighty sweetheart, and your Southern belle who seemed sweet on any male heart. I watched. I scrunched my eyebrows. And
I gleaned the invaluable blessing of making friends who are different than me.

I have a secret. I love my vocation. I also have no doubt writing became such a natural fit because I understood from the first written word that it’s something I’m able do forever. I never want to stop living. (Get busy living or get busy dying…can you name that movie?) That’s another takeaway those sunshine state ladies bestowed upon me. They didn’t cease living. Their lives were full and active. This is my dream. Heck, I’ll likely be the old lady in the media, running a marathon at age 98.

As bumble-brained as she could be, Rose sure could weave a story. And I’m telling you, St. Olaf sounds like a wonderful place to visit. Those St. Olafians (or however it goes) are prime character material.

Finally, as I sprawled on our carpet (part carpet, part dog hair), riveted to the TV during each episode, I did something else that might surprise you. I sang. You see, The Golden Girls gave me one other thing I’ll never forget. They taught the importance of thanking your friends.

On that note: “Thank you for being a friend.” (Sing along. It’ll shake the Mondays out of this Monday.) “Traveled down the road and back again. Your heart is true. You’re a pal and a confidant…”

*All “I”s are on someone right here.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Moving Thoughts Friday

Every Friday I’m going to ask a question. The questions I choose might be ambiguous on purpose. The goal is to have you answer the question according to your beliefs, where you’re at in life or a circumstance that might have recently impacted you. The only thing I ask is that you provide an explanation for why you answered the way you did.

It’s my hope to understand you better through this and also to gain a greater understanding of humanity and how people make decisions.

King Midas or King Tut?

One lived, the other not so much.
Gold: Have it by your side or with every touch?

*photos by flickr
**if you haven’t brushed up on history or Greek mythology in awhile, feel free to answer this instead: Gold or Silver?

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Ransacking Apartments (& Others Ways to Get to Know Your MC Better)

Can you say unconventional? That’s what I’m going with today as I offer insight on how to get better acquainted with your MC. Most of us novelists lead parallel lives, don’t we? Reality and that imaginary playground constantly entertaining our brain. We’ve become adept listeners during our conversations because half the time we’re acquiring snippets for our next scene.

Run with this as I propose eight methods to try to get closer to your MC. Understand, we regularly enter a make-believe realm that most non-writers couldn’t dream of conceptualizing. With this in mind, here are a few helpful hints on how to knock down the doors in order to come face to face with the one person in your novels you need to know best…

Ransack her apartment
An individual’s living space is a breeding ground for discovery. Does she have a green thumb or is she plant less because she’s afraid she’ll kill them all? Are her books alphabetized? Hospital corners? Pet hair everywhere? Curtains drawn or open? The possibilities are endless, if you’re only willing to break in and search her terrain.

Read her diary
I know, I know, a major no no for a parent. But we aren’t parents of our characters (well, not really). It only serves the novel more effectively if we spend time contemplating the inner life of our MC, wondering about her motives and goals. People write about their secret hopes and dreams. Where? In journals or diaries. So, have a crack (tackle a free write) and see what comes out.

Ask her mom about her
As if inventing a MC isn’t enough to make us certifiably on the cusp of crazy, now I’m asking you to go ahead and stick a mom (who doesn’t even show up in your novel) on your MC’s family tree. Go ahead. Moms change our diapers, know exactly how we’ll handle embarrassment or fear, they even know the exact locations of our birthmarks. So if your MC isn’t budging with private details, go to the source. Her mama!

Watch her cook dinner
Does she burn it? What kinds of pans does she own? If anything falls is it fair game for the dog to lick up? Is she alone? Does she talk on the phone when she cooks so she’ll feel less alone? Does she still set the table for two even though her husband died three years ago?

Eavesdrop on her phone conversation
I always used to study my oldest sister while she was on the phone. She wrapped our curly phone cord around her leg dozens of times when she was speaking with a boyfriend. Her voice shot up to a playground pitch when she was talking with her girlfriends. And I won’t even mention her hand gestures. I’m convinced I got to know her better by watching her on the phone. Try it with someone in real life. Then try it with your MC.

Make her take a swimming lesson
Ever seen Sleeping with the Enemy? That movie was the epitome of a woman’s reaction to water revealing a boatload about her character.

Send her on vacation
Where does she choose to go? Hiking in the mountains or an island with white sand and exotic birds? Does she bring anyone? How many days does she stay? And of course, how many shoes does she pack?

Put her on a tight budget
When she treats herself what does she buy? Her purchases say a lot about what’s important to her. Does she track her spending or go on frivolous shopping sprees?

I told you…unconventional. But it’s all part of creatively developing a story—establishing a firm grasp on the ins and outs of your MC. Questions like what’s her favorite color won’t always cut it when you’re aiming to get right to her heart.

Sometimes the best ways to the heart are the unexpected routes. What do you do when your main character is being inhibited?

*I referred to the MC mostly as her because I write women’s fiction
**recently got wind not all comments are showing up. I apologize if you’ve left one and it’s slipped into cyberspace. I’m checking on things and I’ve put Blogger on the naughty step. Hoping it will be back to play nice soon.
***photo by flickr

Taking Time

college applications                 homecoming                            flag football                basketball             SATs   ...