Last month, PBS wrapped up a costume drama based on Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables. It was very well done, although I got impatient with some of the characters for the same reason I got impatient with them when I read the novel. Hugo wrote for a different time and different readers.
But the character of Inspector Javert remained one of the most intriguing. In part, this is because he was the first antagonist I ever encountered in screen, as opposed to a villain. I was probably 6 or 7 when I first saw Les Miserables. It was on TV, on a Saturday afternoon, when they ran Dumas and Hugo dramatizations. Javert’s actions didn’t make sense, and my poor parents had a lot of difficulty trying to explain them in language a child would understand. Later, after the musical came out and I read the entire novel, he made sense.
Javert is virtue turned to vice. Which makes him such a fascinating antagonist. Read more
Or: I recognize that bit of sausage!
Recently, I was reading a few friend’s books – Sabrina Chase’s Soul Code, and Cedar Sanderson’s Possum Creek Massacre. (They’re both very good books in their own right, though if you haven’t read the earlier books in the series, there’d be a bit of a learning curve to get up to really enjoying it.) And knowing both authors, I’ve been around for their lives the months before and during the writing… and so I started seeing bits of pieces of real life incidents, accidents, hobbies, and conversations that I recognized converted into fiction.
There’s a psychological phenomenon that means when you make yourself smile, you begin to involuntarily feel happy. The well-known cliche ‘fake it till you make it’ has a kernel of truth. I don’t know about other writers, but I use mood music while I’m writing to get me in the right frame of mind to create war/love/melancholy or whatever my story requires of me. I can’t wait on inspiration. If I want to do this on my own terms, I can’t follow the will ‘o wisp that is the muse. I don’t want to wind up drowning in the swamp of my own doubts and insecurities.
Last week, I described my first foray into Fiverr in search of a cover. I admitted the process was both easier and more difficult than I expected. Easier because the process of finding someone and staying in contact with them during the creation process is seamless and, at least for me, quickly done. More difficult because a number of those you will come across may be good to awesome at what they do, but they don’t all know the technical requirements sites like Amazon place on covers. So you have to be up on that information and make sure they know what you need.
But, that post and a couple of conversations I’ve had since them pointed me to another issue authors have when it comes to covers. Now, I’m not going to try to tell you how to create a cover. I’m not a cover artist or designer. Been there, done that and know I don’t have the time or desire or money to get the programs I need (and learn them) to make the quality of covers I want for my books. What I am going to do is talk to you as a writer about covers and about what you need to pay attention to when looking for a cover artist. Read more
When I began reading Dave’s post yesterday, I smiled and nodded. I’m up to my eyeballs in the final edits for Nocturnal Revelations. My brain is focused on not only the edits but what needs to be done to promote the book between now and release date. So figuring out what to write for MGC is, well, challenging. Because of that, I did what I often do when I’m having a hard time coming up with a topic: I wandered over to The Passive Voice. BTW, if you aren’t following TPV, you should, especially if you are a writer. Anyway. . . . Read more
Author photo of a Deutschmark from during the Great Inflation of the 1920s.
Sometimes, authors start the story knowing who the main character or characters are, and build the story around them. Other times, an idea leads to noodling around with world building and then characters sort of wander in. And a few times, world building comes first, and the author looks at her wonderful world, sighs a little, and starts auditioning characters so she can explore her world (and sell it to readers).
I tend to alternate between idea and character. In the case of the Powers books, the “what if” idea came first, followed by lots and lots of research. Specifically, since the world Joschka and Rada inhabit in the Cat Among Dragons series is slightly off-kilter from our history, I started working backwards to see what would have to happen to make it that way. And then hit WWI and really had to dig into the material, which took me back to the Austro-Prussian War, which led to… You get the idea. But I needed a protagonist. And not Joschka. Read more