Friday, October 31, 2008

Characters --- Who Are They?

It's been a beautiful October in Maryland. The trees are vibrant with color this year. Almost three months ago, I sent Barbara Scott at Abingdon my manuscript. Surrender the Wind is due for release in exactly one year.

The news on the progression of the novel this week is as follows.

After thinking over the book cover, I considered who I would want to play the roles of my main characters, Se
th and Juleah, if Surrender the Wind happened to be made into a movie. I searched images online and found my perfect pair. I put together a character profile for each, with a photo of two of the best British actors around today, and sent it to Abingdon. I've also uploaded this to my homepage, along with a pictorial of the novel.

(British actor Dan Stevens. He’d be perfect in the role of Seth.)

Seth Braxton: (26) American patriot, son of a patriot, and grandson of an English squire. Seth is outwardly stoic, and he is a skeptic when it comes to anything handed to him by his grandfather. The gruesome realities of war have left him reserved. Yet, the Revolution taught him to be a man of faith and duty.

His own desires in life take a backseat to the needs of his sister, then later to his wife. Doing his duty is honorable to Seth. Seth is a Christian, as were most men of his day, and wrestles with such things as death, eternal life, and forgiveness. He sees life as a journey toward the Truth. He is also doubtful about true love, if it even exists, and is indifferent to it. Seth keeps his true feelings to himself. He will not reveal too much of his inner man. He prefers t
o be alone, unencumbered by human conversation. But this changes when he meets Juleah.

(British Actress Natalie Portman. She looks exactly how I picture Juleah.

Juleah Fallowes Braxton: (22) No powder, rouge, or wig, conceal Juleah Fallowes. She finds those habits marks of vanity. Her hair, long and dark, is brown as the color of oak leaves in autumn. Seth likens her eyes to the color of a moonstone. They sparkle full of spirit, clear a color as amber glass struck with noonday sun.

She is the daughter of an eccentric landed gentleman, who likes to romp barefooted in her father’s fields and wade in the pond on moonlit nights. She is a romanticist in many ways, a poetic creature with deep feelings. She is strong-willed, yet disciplined and passionate. She is not afraid to speak her mind, especially to Seth. She feels she must prove herself to him, that she is not the timid English girl that keeps her eyes always down, that only speaks when spoken to, that does not laugh in public or interject her opinion especially on matters of religion and politics. She wants him to see her as educated and a free thinker. Juleah is also loyal, and Caroline Braxton’s closest friend.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Book Cover in Production

More on the production of Surrender the Wind.

Yesterday, my editor sent an email and asked that I send her a professional color photograph by December. I take terrible pictures. I guess I've never found anyone that can get the right angle and lighting, along with the right expression. I have one photo taken in 2001 that isn't too bad. But me and cameras don't get along. I always seem to shut my eyes or screw up my face just as the shutter is clicked. The picture here is me in first grade. I would not open my mouth to smile because I was missing a front tooth.

I did some research and found a fantastic photographer in Frederick, Maryland. Studio 11 is owned and operated by Barbara Campbell. She sold me when I saw her self-portrait on her blog. I'll be calling her for a head shot.


Early this morning, my wonderful editor, Barbara Scott, sent an email asking me to give her more descriptions of my hero and his nemesis. She informed me the designer is already working on the cover. A follow-up email blessed my socks off. She described what they have in the works ---Ten Width, the manor house in the story, is in the background, my hero and his lady are standing just in front of it as if they are in a cozy garden. The drawing of the manor looks like a photo I have of Symondsbury House in England, which in my imagination fits Ten Width to the tee. Barbara said she was stunned by the charcoal drawings the designer showed her. Since the novel is a historical, the cover will be rendered in oils. "Oils!" said I. What no photo-shop like the pod publishers use? I am stunned and elated! Writers, it's worth the wait to find a 'real' publisher. Don't hurry by having your book published by a pod or self-publishing firm.

Now, someone has got to pinch me and wake me up!

(Check out the 'Must Reads' and the 'Books to Anticipate' and the side bar.)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

You Have to See it to Believe It

You have to see your story in your mind's eye before you believe it...or believe in it. Writers for the most part of right brain thinkers. You have a vivid imagination. Were you the child that sat in the classroom, chin in hand, staring out the window, the voice of the teacher drowned out because you were somewhere else? That was me. My parents got plenty of complaints.

One way to overcome writers block is to take some time off from your computer, go to a quiet place, and think about your story. Picture your hero and heroine in your mind, and run them through the scene you most recently wrote. Th
en move them forward. This is a form of 'ruminating', and it brings them alive to you.

For over a week, my hero has been stuck in a scene. Before all this he was in many ways secondary to my heroine. But because of her rejection of him, in what he believes is the second time, and he deeply in love with her, as well as angry, I had to bring him forward. He is in pain, and in the midst of it he is slammed with
another unexpected problem.

I rapid wrote in my binder the scene. I've gone back
to it four times. Something was missing. I sat down and imagined him going through the scene and in popped a minor character who will do the antagonist's bidding. I could see him in my mind's eye. A short, pale man, dressed in a black overcoat, waistcoat, and breeches, his sparse hair combed smooth over his head to hide a receding hairline. He is pompous, and has a perpetual smile boarding on a sneer as he unfolds to Ethan why he has come to Faircross. I found it extremely interesting that he is replacing Ethan's stepmother in this scene. She is out. She has also had a stroke, and is unable to defend herself against the trouble that has arrived on her doorstep. Her advocate is Ethan, who will also be his beloved's advocate as she is pulled into this.

Don't hurry through a scene. Think about it. Imagine it. Run it over in your mind as if you are watching a movie. Write down what you see
until you finally get it all --- all the ambiance and all the characters that must be there.

(On the sidebar, you will see something new. Must Reads - these are historicals written by some of the finest writers today who are publishing in the CBA marketplace. Books to Anticipate - Future Releases - these are novels to look out for, that are currently in production, and have tremendous potential for best-sellers. You can visit the authors' websites by clicking on their names.)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The 'I Love Your Blog Award'.

Whahoo! My first blog award came from author Pamela Thibodeaux in a comment she left me yesterday.

Thanks, Pam. This is so much more fun than being 'tagged'. I don't have time for playing tag anymore, but I have time to have fun with this. The difficult part is to only award seven blogs among my favorites. Perhaps I'll make this a monthly event. I'll see.

The rules for this award are as follows:
1) Add the logo of the award to your blog
2) Add a link to the person who awarded it to you
3) Nominate at least 7 other blogs
4) Add links to those blogs on your blog
5) Leave a message for your nominees on their blogs!

Drum roll, please! Here are the seven blogs I've given this award to.

Marylu Tyndall - 'The Cross & the Cutlass'

J. M. Hochstetler - 'The American Patriot Series'

Brandilyn Collins - 'Forensics & Faith'

Linore Rose Burkard - 'Return to What It's All About'

Okay! Okay! I can't stand it any longer. It's just too hard to choose! So, readers, on my 'Blogs & Sites', everyone that is listed there has my vote. They are all favorite blogs that I love to read. I know I'm breaking the 7 choices rule...blame the rebel in me.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Novel in Production --- Novel in Progress

(What's outside my window this morning. . .The leaves on the sugar maple are turning golden.)


Yesterday, I emailed my editor with a list of things available from ACFW that will help market Surrender the Wind. She was enthused. I'm a marketing nut. I love it. I love the challenge. I love finding new ideas, new means of marketing and promotion. I bought a three-ringed binder at Wal-mart the other day. I printed out on bright pink paper 'Marketing' and slipped it through the plastic insert on the front. I have it all in a doc. file, but I print out my plans as well and put them in the binder.

I was thrilled yesterday to learn my publisher has hired a publicity firm who will launch a campaign for the first list of novels coming out in 2009, and put trade ads in Publishers Weekly. They are working on other marketing plans as well. I feel I've hit pay dirt. Abingdon is totally committed to the success of their new fiction line.

The quietest time of the day for this writer is. . .

. . .either in the early morning hours or in the middle of the night when everyone else in the house is sound asleep. It happens to me often. I wake in the middle of the night, and grow so restless I have to get up. A scene for my current novel in progress suddenly bursts into my mind like flood waters gushing over a dam. Images of my characters doing something forces me to get up and write it all down, otherwise when I do wake in the morning, I might have forgotten.

About 1 a.m. last night, I woke to seeing a mental image of my hero Ethan riding his lathered horse onto his estate, climbing down from the saddle and handing the reins to a servant. He has exhausted himself and his horse in a hard ride, in an attempt to shake off his raging emotions after an encounter with the woman he loves. He was rejected yet again, and stomps inside the house, met by a concerned housekeeper who informs him that men had come while he was away, men who said they were his father's creditors. They've left him a letter outlining the reasons why they insist on seeing him right away. His deceased father has left the estate deeply in debt due to his insatiable thirst for 'playing the cards'. Payment must be made.

I see Ethan's expression change from painful anger to subtle worry and disappointment. Could his day grow any worse? He takes the letter in hand and walks into a room dimly lit by a genial fire in the hearth. He slumps into a chair and reads the missive, then rakes his fingers through his hair.

I don't think I am alone . . .

1. Do you wake in the middle of the night with impressions for your novel?

2. Why do you think it is that suddenly you wake with a scene running through your mind?

3. Do you get up and jot it down, or do you wait for the morning light hoping you will remember?

4. When this happens, does it help you push through writers block?

5. Does it help project the story forward?

6. Is this the time when new characters pop up?

Sunday, October 12, 2008

More On Book Crafts

After finding the websites about making book purses, I came across this website this morning and was fascinated by the creativity of this artist/author. You know the old saying, 'One man's trash is another man's treasure'? Jim Rosenau has certainly made this a reality. On his website, his biography states:

Jim Rosenau was raised in a house with 5,000 books. He has been making and selling thematic bookshelves from vintage books since 2002. The idea occurred to him years earlier after reading an essay, "Books As Furniture," by Nicholson Baker. Given his background as the son and grandson of publishers, he assumed the reaction, should he make such a thing, would be furious. The work, once underway, proved him wrong. His book furniture has since earned him a wide following with work sold in almost 50 states and countries. Primarily shown at closely juried shows, he is also represented by dealers from Vermont to Los Angeles. The work has been widely published in print and on the Internet.

Visit his site for inspiration. Perhaps you have some old books laying around that you could turn into a birdhouse, a bookshelf or bookcase? Here is a craft forum that explains how to do it. Scroll down the page for the instructions.;topic=98846.0

Or maybe you would want to order a custom piece from Mr. Rosenau. How fun it is to find such things such as these book crafts on the Internet.

I love this birdhouse made out of old copies of Tom Saywer and a corncob pipe. From the website 'Uncommon Groups':
Designer Dave Vissat stumbled upon this ideas when he was making a birdhouse for his mother. He ran out of wood, so he resorted to using an old book as a roof. Then he began incorporating interesting text and illustrations as well.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Book Purses

In light of marketing ideas, this one I think beats all....ah, maybe. You have to be crafty with this idea, and have the time. But it might not be a bad idea if you can part with one of your own hardcover book covers and create a book purse to give away as a prize on one of your website contests. I think this is kind of a hoot actually.

Ellen Meisner has a good example of one on her blog.

If you decide you like doing this kind of crafty thing, you could make a mint! Check out this company. $155 for a book purse! Or if you want to treat yourself big time, she has some beautiful book purses.
This would be a fun craft for kids to do too. You could find used books cheap at a Goodwill store or other thrift shops.

Have fun!