Writers and their Characters by Pam Wight: Guest Post

I’m slowly whittling away at my TBR pile, and recently finished Pamela Wight’s book The Right Wrong Man, a 5-star read. My review is below, but before we head there I thought it would be fun to pick Pam’s brain about her main character: Meredith.

Meredith is bright, sarcastic, and strong-willed. She’s also confused about relationships, recklessly brave, and tender-hearted. She was so authentic to me that I got thinking: Where did this character come from? Is she pure imagination? Is she a version of the author? What was it like to write such a dynamic personality? I posed these questions to Pam, and here’s her reply:

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Where did Meredith come from? Is she me? Oh, how I wish that was the case. But I’m a quiet introverted writer – except when I’m dancing in the middle of the grocery checkout lane or chortling when I beat my grandson in a 3-hour game of Monopoly.

Well, except I haven’t beaten him yet. But if I ever do, I’ll chortle, for sure.

Virginia Woolf claims that “Every secret of a writers’ soul, every experience of his life, every quality of his mind, is written large in his works.” Yes, I totally agree. Our “insides” come outside to play when we write. That doesn’t make us our character, but it certainly helps us create our character.

In The Right Wrong Man, Meredith is a medical editor for a Boston publishing company.

I was once a medical editor.

Meredith runs on the paths of a magnificent wildlife refuge in New England.

I walk that same path, marveling at the flying geese, the honking frogs, the slivering eels as they escape into the murky marsh.

Meredith struggles with motion sickness on a rollicking yacht as she works with an arrogant, brilliant author.

Yes, I once met an author on her yacht off of St. Thomas, losing the battle against motion sickness in a most humiliating manner.

But am I Meredith?

Not in a million years.

Characters come from some deep well of understanding within us, a well that perhaps is born from our own experiences, from our secret soul, but each character is his or her own being.

I’ve never met Meredith “in the flesh.” She’s no one I know in this world: not a friend, or a relative, not even an acquaintance from work, or the bank, or the yoga studio. Meredith arrived, whole and feisty and fun, entirely on her own, with a little help from my writing pen and my ability to let go and let her show me the way.

This is why I find writing so mystical. Magical, if you will. Meredith’s humor and cheekiness made me laugh out loud at times as my pen flowed; I could never be that brave or funny. I clenched my teeth as Meredith flirted with Carlos. She was playing with fire, so to speak, and could get seriously burned. Stop!

But Meredith didn’t listen to me. I was only the conduit for her story. She played me as well as she played Parker, even turning her back on me at times if I tried to tell her what to do.

So I let her have control, and I just came along for the ride.

That’s what imagination does for us. If we allow it to roam and float and fly freely, imagination offers characters who write the stories for us.

In this case, Meredith took me on a twisty curvy ride that was the journey of a lifetime.

Diana’s 5-Star Review:

This is one great read, that I had a hard time putting it down. I even took it jogging, if you can picture that. The story is brimming with action as Meredith Powers, a 32-year old woman with a demanding job and quirky family, gets caught up in a good-guy/bad-guy mess where it’s hard to tell who’s on what side. The mess is related to her ex-boyfriend Parker and his job, which required frequent mysterious disappearances. Theirs was a doomed relationship that she’d successfully put out of her mind… until he shows up out of the blue and everything goes haywire.

The rip-roaring plot, full of twists and turns and lots of guessing on this reader’s part, was highly entertaining. But what I enjoyed most was Meredith as a character. She’s bright, sarcastic, outspoken, and strong-willed. She’s also confused, recklessly brave, and tender-hearted. If she was a real person, I’d be torn between bopping her on the head and hugging her. The story is told in first-person from Meredith’s point of view. This allows for some fabulous commentary as part of her inner dialog. Her voice is strong, consistent, and thoroughly engaging.

Parker is an interesting character even though he’s actually absent from most of the book. The reader learns about him through Meredith, and the mystery surrounding his character is immensely appealing. All of the characters, even those with bit parts, are distinct with their own voices and personalities.

The pace is speedy, and the story is superbly edited. In my opinion, The Right Wrong Man will appeal to a broad audience with a little of something for everyone – action, mystery, suspense, and a pinch of romance. I want a sequel!

An additional note: Yes! I got the scoop…
a sequel is in the works!

Interested in sharing Meredith’s adventure? Here’s a global link to
The Right Wrong Man.

Link to Pam’s lovely blog: Roughwighting.

World-building: Common Mistakes in Speculative Fiction – Guest Post by, Diana Peach…

Just in case you didn’t get your fill of World-building, I’m over at The Story Reading Ape’s blog with another installment. Swing on by if you want to learn about what can go wrong! Happy November!

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

World-building is a balancing act between alien complexity and Earth’s familiarity. If authors make characters and settings too alien, they risk confusing readers and interrupting the reading experience. But the other side of the coin – applying Earth qualities, standards, and cultural norms to non-Earth planets and societies – isn’t any better.

We’re so used to Earth and the way we live and behave, our customs, values, and social rules that they become invisible to us. They become the “givens” of human life, and often, we attribute them to other non-Earth worlds and cultures. Our ways of life are rooted in thousands of years of history. Other planets have different historical trajectories that produce alternate ways of life that feel normal to the characters.

Here are seven things to look out for when world-building:

Your society doesn’t “function”

Did you ever read a book where none of the characters work…

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Sunday Blog Share: Allie Potts – An interview with my muse

 

I’m enjoying meeting all the muses that my post kicked off.
Allie Potts goes on a clever, caffeine-induced search of her muse.
Comments are closed here on Sundays. Enjoy Allie’s post.

***

The air was heavy with procrastination as I heard the door open behind me. I didn’t have to turn around to recognize her perfume, a mix of earth and chocolate spice. It could only be Moka. Moka Chino. She spelled her name with a k rather than a ch. She thought it gave her an extra shot of originality. I’d never had the heart to tell her I thought it made me question whether her head was on right.

She sashayed into my office as if it hadn’t been years since we last met. Though I tried to keep my expression neutral, I couldn’t help drinking in her appearance. “What brings you to the old neighborhood?” I asked as she removed a pair nutmeg shaded glasses, revealing mascara stained eyes underneath.

“It’s Latte. She’s missing.”

Latte was Moka’s cousin. Tall and skinny, though just as smooth. I’d met her at one of Moka’s parties and we’d spent the next hours in easy conversation. Latte’s side of the family wasn’t nearly as rich and she’d offered to help with the occasional job or two for whatever change I could spare, which was never much.

It was worth the expense. Her contributions might cause me the occasional heartburn, but…

 

Continue Reading: An interview with my muse – a fiction challenge

20 Symptoms of Writeritis

image from pinterest.com

image from pinterest

This 2-yr-old post was one of my most popular, and for those who missed it, I once again share the symptoms of this incurable condition.

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As some of you know, a pervasive syndrome has troubled a segment of society for centuries. After years of research, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders finally classified these symptoms under the diagnosis: Writeritis. 

Writeritis is defined as a persistent, maladaptive pattern of writing that leads to clinically significant impairment or distress, as manifested by six (or more) of the following within a single month:

  1. A marked craving for increased amounts of writing, and longer periods of time to write.

  2. An unquenchable thirst for coffee.

  3. Repeated efforts to cut down or control word count are unsuccessful.

  4. Withdrawal occurs when writing is discontinued or suddenly reduced. Symptoms include shakiness, moodiness, and/or irritability.

  5. A tendency to rapidly relapse into extreme patterns of excessive rewriting – even after periods of abstinence or control.

  6. After writing, a compulsive urge to return and edit.

  7. An inability to initiate household chores until a plot hole is resolved.

  8. A clinically significant preoccupation with the motivations of imaginary people.

  9. Obsessive attempts to manipulate and control the lives of main characters.

  10. A tendency to forget the time, fail to make dinner, and/or eat in general.

  11. Overt rumination about murder, fear, revenge, evil, and/or world-conquest leading to extensive research and placement on the TSA watch list.

  12. Unusual or intense need for colorful verbs accompanied by an aversion to the word “was.”

  13. Periods of anxiety regarding commas.

  14. Unrepentant willingness to jeopardize a significant relationship, job, or educational/career opportunity due to a need to finish a chapter.

  15. Thrives on creating conflict and will often escalate disputes to the point of violence.

  16. Uses fictional fantasy words in Scrabble and argues that they should count as real words.

  17. Writing is continued despite a persistent physical or psychological problem that is exacerbated by staring at a laptop.

  18. Frequent disruptions during sleep to jot down a section of dialog.

  19. Tends toward exhibitionism and “showing” it all.

  20. A compulsive need to write about something, including not being able to write.

Do you have Writeritis?

Copyright Infringement, 403 pirated book offers blasted.

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“It only takes one click to copy and republish a creator’s original content without his permission.” – Blasty

Back in July, Debby of dgkayewriter and Damyanti of Damyanti-writes both mentioned a new online service called Blasty.

Blasty allows writers to sign up their books, and then continually monitors Google for infringing copies of content. Each suspect link is flagged to the writer’s dashboard, and the writer is given the opportunity to “blast” (eradicate) the link from Google with a simple click! No paperwork, no cease and desist notifications, no time-consuming and frustrating dealings with pirates.

Intrigued, I signed up. In four months, I’ve blasted 403 copyright infringements on 8 books.

Per Blasty: “Each time you click on “Blast,” a copyright removal procedure under the DMCA (Digital Millenium Copyright Act) is automatically initiated, resulting in the complete elimination of the infringing webpage  from Google on a worldwide basis. Since Blasty has been approved by Google’s Legal Department as a trusted removal partner, your “Blasts” will be approved much faster than regular removal requests submitted through Google’s dedicated webform.”

The site is still in beta-testing and the developers continue to look for new authors. If you join now, there is no fee! Here is an invitation if you’re interested: https://www.blasty.co/invitation/gh5WX8i4. You can also use the link above.

I don’t open most of the links as it’s obvious that the site is pirating my work (offering a “free pdf” or “read online” or “free epub” – none of which I offer). Some of these may be phishing sites, yet I’ve opened a few links and seen lovely comments from readers stating that the free read of my book was great. This is the real thing.

Sadly, I have seen other bloggers’ books show up next to mine. Yes, your books.

A Few Notes

1) Blasty has a FAQ section and short video demonstrating how to use the site correctly and efficiently.

2) You will only be able to load one book at sign up, which Blasty will use to verify that you are the copyright holder. This can take 12 days, though that can be reduced if you share an “invitation” like the one above with 3 other authors. I waited the 12 days as I wanted to try the site before recommending. Once verified, you can add the rest of your books at one sitting.

(Update – please note that one commenter below noted that the wait is now quite a bit longer – about 6 weeks. Still worth it in my opinion).

3) The Blasty Dashboard is easy to navigate. When you sign in, it will show you a list of suspicious Google links, and you will then have the choice to ‘Blast’ them away or ignore them.

4) Be careful not to blast legit blogger sites where your books have been featured or reviewed. Ignore them or add approved sites to a “white list” so they won’t be flagged at all.

5) You can ‘unblast’ if you’ve blasted something in error.

6) Occasionally you will be asked to review a blast as Google suspects it might be a legit site. This has happened about 6 times to me. I’ve reviewed and given a small explanation as to why the site is infringing on my content. For example, “This site is offering my book as a pdf. I do not offer pdf versions of my book.” Easy.

7) Rejected blasts. A rejected blast is where Google determines that there was no copyright infringement, and therefore, they reject your blast. They don’t like this as you are telling them to blast a legitimate site into orbit. I’ve had 1 reject out of 403 blasts, a medical site that mentioned “The Bone Wall.” Oops. That occurred early in my use of the site and hasn’t happened since. Too many of these will impact your account.

8) I check my dashboard every two weeks or so. It takes about 5 minutes at most. This is fast, easy, and painless.

I strongly recommend signing up for this service. 

Happy writing!