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Posts Tagged ‘Characters’

When Gail Z. Martin invited me to post a blog as a part of the #HoldOnToTheLight campaign, I decided to make it personal.

I was one of those kids who was different enough to attract the attention of bullies. A girl interested in science, math, art, fantasy, science fiction, writing, etc. attracted unwanted and negative attention from some of my school mates. Junior high (middle school to you younger folks) was the worse – I was regularly spit on by several “popular” girls on the school bus.

Where are those girls now? I don’t know, and to be honest, I don’t care. The things which made me an outcast then, are the things which I value the most about myself now. But that self-assurance is hard-won.

I’ve dealt with depression and lingering self-doubt for much of my life, because of that long-ago bullying. Which gives me great compassion for those who are different or who feel like outsiders. And though I won’t name names, because it is not my story to tell – I can assure them that many of the writers and artists I’m friendly with have experienced either bullying, depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, or a combination of those things.

So what’s my message? First, don’t let bullies ruin your life. They don’t deserve that much power. You are unique and valuable. The problem lies with the bullies – not you. Second, when you see bullying going on, stop it if you can, or get help from an adult to put an end to the bullying. Third, don’t be a bully. Always choose kindness.

One of the best things about the science fiction and fantasy community is their willingness to accept those marvelously unique artists, writers, and fans who might be viewed as “outsiders” in the mundane world. And one of the best things about being a writer of speculative fiction, is I get to create and celebrate characters who are different – whether they have physical, mental, or emotional challenges – imperfect characters are the most interesting to read about. Why? Because they’re the characters most like us.

About the campaign:

holdontothelight-fb-banner #HoldOnToTheLight is a blog campaign encompassing blog posts by fantasy and science fiction authors around the world in an effort to raise awareness around treatment for depression, suicide prevention, domestic violence intervention, PTSD initiatives, bullying prevention and other mental health-related issues. We believe fandom should be supportive, welcoming and inclusive, in the long tradition of fandom taking care of its own. We encourage readers and fans to seek the help they or their loved ones need without shame or embarrassment.

Please consider donating to or volunteering for organizations dedicated to treatment and prevention such as: American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Home for the Warriors (PTSD), National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Canadian Mental Health Association, MIND (UK), SANE (UK), BeyondBlue (Australia), To Write Love On Her Arms and the National Suicide Prevention Hotline.

To find out more about #HoldOnToTheLight, find a list of participating authors, or reach a media contact, go to https://www.facebook.com/groups/276745236033627

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“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.” – George R. R. Martin, A Storm of Swords (Jojen Reed)

Still re-reading the Game of Thrones books, so I thiought I’d use another George R.R. Martin quote. Both the reader and writer in me loves this quote. As a writer, you build your world and live in that world through the characters you create. As a reader, you have the opportunity to live the many lives of the many characters of the many authors you read.

What a wonderful gift books are to anyone willing to open them and begin to read. I, for one, hope to live a thousand lives (or more) as I discover the many characters residing between the pages of books. And I invite each of you to buy one of my books and discover some of the characters I’ve created.

Happy reading!

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I’m always interested in other writers’ writing processes. As a rather disorganized, write-by-the-seat-of-your-pants writer, I know I could be more productive if I’d become more organized.

I decided to check out one of my favorite writers, Marissa Meyer’s, writing process post. For those who haven’t discovered this author, she’s a very busy lady who has written a fabulous YA science fiction series, The Lunar Chronicles. (Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress are on my bookshelf, and I await the next book in the series).

Here’s the link to Marissa Meyer’s series of posts on her Writing Process.  (As a bonus, she’s added videos, etc. into the posts).

This series of posts not only gave me some ideas, it also helped me clarify my writing process! I realized I had much more of a process than I’d given myself credit for. I, too, start with an idea, do research, outline characters, etc.

Writers, how about you? Do you have any writing process tips you’d like to share?

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As a writer, one of the tricks to drawing readers into your world is to create well-rounded characters. Characters can’t be just two-dimensional sketches, they must have depth and complexity for readers to care about where they’ve been and what will happen to them now and in the future.

Author Stacy Couch does a nice job of examing well-rounded characters in her recent post on the Maryland/ Delaware/ West Virginia Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators blog, As The Eraser Burns.

Readers, which well-written characters do you enjoy?

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Costumes for Halloween, a masquarade party, Rennaisance Fair, or fairy festival are fun to wear. But not all of us have runway model looks. We need to remember not all princesses are petite. Not all princesses have blond hair.

As a fantasy writer, I try to make my characters diverse. Some are tall, some robust, some short, some dark-skinned, some scrawny, some curly-haired, some bald… In other words, I try to include the mix of people who surround me in this world.

I believe every girl has the right to be a princess – to see herself as lovely and special. Just like every young person has the right to see themselves as a hero. This post about a young woman who couldn’t find a princess dress to fit, reminds me that beauty comes in many sizes.

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Oct 2013 import 459 “Character, I think, is the single most important thing in fiction. You might read a book once for its interesting plot—but not twice.” – Diana Gabaldon

I agree with this quote. I return to books to revisit the characters I’ve grown to love. I enjoyed Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie books as a girl because of central character, Laura, and her family and friends. I re-read Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, because I wanted to be like Jo. I’ve twice-read Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games and its sequels because of Katniss Everdeen. And I’m currently caught up in Marissa Meyer’s Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress because of the characters.

Today’s quotable author, Diana Gabaldon, created two wonderful central characters: Claire and Jamie. And let’s be honest, most women would fall for Jaime.

Here’s another Gabaldon quote which would send many women into a swoon: “When the day shall come that we do part,” he said softly, and turned to look at me, “if my last words are not ‘I love you’-ye’ll ken it was because I didna have time.” – Diana Gabaldon, Outlander

How about you? Do characters draw you into a book? Do they make you re-read books?
(BTW, this photo and all others posted with Diana Gabaldon quotes were taken by me in Scotland).

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TerriBruce_OfficialAuthorPic Thanks to Terri Bruce, author of fantasy and science fiction stories with a literary bent, for stopping by and sharing the inspiration for one of the characters from her new novel, Thereafter.

But before reading Terri’s post, here’s a little bit about Thereafter: ‘Nothing in life is free. Turns out, nothing in the afterlife is, either. When recently-deceased Irene Dunphy decided to “follow the light,” she thought she’d end up in Heaven or Hell and her journey would be over. Boy, was she wrong. She soon finds that “the other side” isn’t a final destination but a kind of purgatory where billions of spirits are stuck, with no way to move forward or back. Even worse, deranged phantoms known as “Hungry Ghosts” stalk the dead, intent on destroying them. The only way out is for Irene to forget her life on earth—including the boy who risked everything to help her cross over—which she’s not about to do…’

Thereafter Spotlight: Gao by Terri Bruce

‘Thank you so much for having me on your blog today, Vonnie! I’m thrilled to be here to talk about my newest book, Thereafter. Today, I wanted to share a bit about the character Gao, a Chinese philosopher that the main character, Irene, meets in the afterlife:

“Penny for your thoughts?”

Irene smiled as Ian’s words pulled her out of her reverie. He was watching her carefully across the campfire. Irene shifted position; she and the horse were using each other as a mutual backrest, and she wiggled against it, trying to find a more comfortable position.

Irene shook her head. “Just thinking about the cairns; I was wondering why someone would build an altar in the afterlife. If they are shrines, wouldn’t each one just send stuff to the person who built it?”

“People pray to their gods. One assumes they are closer here,” a high, thin voice at her elbow said.

Irene started. She looked up and then did a double take. The speaker was a middle-aged Chinese man. His long, black robe, Fu-Manchu mustache, and waist-length beard were straight out of a Hollywood movie.

He gave her a reassuring smile and a low bow. “Your pardon. I did not mean to startle.” As he straightened up, he suddenly brightened, a smile blooming across his face.

“Ah!” he said, gesturing to the horse. “Gives new meaning to the saying, ‘trying to save the dead horse as if it is still alive.’ Ha!”

Irene looked at the horse, but since she had no idea what the man was talking about, she didn’t know how to respond. She looked at Ian for help.

“Howdy!” he said to the newcomer. “Pull up some ground.” He sat up, moving his legs to make room, and patted the space next to him. “I’m Ian and this is Irene.”

The man gracefully dropped to a kneeling position. He gave Ian a slight bow and then turned to Irene. He smiled as he bowed to her. “Ah! Irene. A very good name.”

Irene raised an eyebrow. “Is it?”

“Oh, yes. Irene of Thessalonica, Irene of Rome, Irene of Macedonia, Irene of Athens, Irene of Hungary…yes, a very good name. Very auspicious.”

“Wow, I had no idea.” She hesitated and then added, as if revealing an embarrassing secret. “I was named for an actress.”

“Ah, yes,” the man cried with delight. “Irene Dunne. Very nice lady.”

Irene eyed him up and down once more, certain the guy was not from the twentieth century. “You…know her?”

The man gave her a gentle smile. “I have been here a very long time.” Then he bowed again. “I am Gao. A seeker of truth.”

thereafter_stolzer_72 When I was writing Thereafter, I knew that I wanted Irene to meet a philosopher in the afterlife. Originally, the role of the philosopher was envisioned as an Austrian named Martin who lived during the mid-eighteen hundreds. However, I realized my story lacked diversity—why were all the ghosts Irene encountered European? She already had Ian, an American cowboy from the late 1800s, and Andras, a Spanish knight from the late eleven hundreds. Given that I include people from any time and any place in my story, I decided to look for someone much further back in time—preferably from before the birth of Christ—and preferably someone with an Eastern philosophy/view-point.

In doing some other research for the book, I came across a reference to a Chinese philosopher named Gao, who lived around 300 BCE. Not much is known about Gao—none of his work/writings have survived; all that we know about him is anecdotes related via the writings of others, which was actually pretty perfect for my needs. The anecdotes gave just enough of an idea of the historical man’s philosophy/personality, but beyond that he was a blank slate. He was perfect for my story and in he went.

Another interesting thing about this scene is that Gao says, “Gives new meaning to the saying, ‘trying to save the dead horse as if it is still alive.’” This is the original/origin of the saying “beating a dead horse.” The saying is originally Chinese and has been changed slightly through translation and usage to the modern version that we now use, but originally referred to a futile action (trying to revive something that is already dead) rather than rehashing an old subject. It was too perfect not to include; here I had a Chinese philosopher and a dead horse, together in one scene, so how could I not drop in the original version of the saying as one of the many sly, geeky jokes I tend to include in my stories.

And there you have it—a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the character of Gao and his appearance in Thereafter.’

To learn more about Terri Bruce and her books:
visit her website and facebook page
and follow her on goodreads and twitter.

And you can buy Thereafter on
Amazon or Barnes & Noble or Smashwords.

Thanks again to Terri for her guest post. Watch Whimsical Words for more Monday Guests, Quotable Wednesdays, blogs from me, and occasional weekend, Readers & Writers Recipes. Have a character-filled day! – Vonnie

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