Spies, Flutes, and Red-Heads: The Makings of a Spy Novel

Welcome mystery writer extraordinaire, Carole Brown. I’m so excited to have her as my guest because the second book in her WW II mystery series The Spies of World War II, A Flute In A Willow is now available. She’s agreed to share a bit about how she does  her research and developed her characters and plot for the seriesDSCN4465 (3)

 

Spies:

Developing my WWII Spies series came from two things:

  • Listening to my mother talk about her life during WWII and seeing the pictures she had
  • A short story about a “supposed” civilian spy during WWII from an elderly man. Rumors had it that HE was that spy, but he neither confirmed nor denied it.

Music:

And since dangers and sacrifices abound in WWII stories—some of which I brought out in these books, I also wanted to create a sense of fun, warmth and love to lighten the suspense. One way I managed to create the feeling was to bring music into the story as a subplot.

The Red-headed Sisters:

I’d already planned to feature three red-haired sisters in their own books. It was fun to create their personalities and who the heroes would be. Fortunately, while I wrote book one, the heroes for the other two books appeared and were good matches for sisters two and three.

Let me share brief thoughts how the spies, music and sisters all work together to make this series heartwarming and suspenseful books.

With Music in Their Hearts

With Music in Their Hearts

With my interest piqued and imagination soaring, I settled on the plot for book one where the hero—handsome, smart, a minister and godly—is rejected to serve overseas but recruited to serve as a civilian spy. Sparks of jealousy and love fly between him and the heroine as they battle suspicions that one or the other is not on the up and up.

Emma Jaine Rayner, by her own claims, is a non-professional pianist, who entertains and gives an extra doze of homeyness to the boarding house residents with the nightly musical fests. Her active imagination while playing, increases her longing for a man to love—and Tyrell Walker, the civilian spy, increases the pressure by wooing her with his trained voice.

AFitW 5th image(2)

 

A Flute in the Willows

In Book Two, the heroine and hero are both rebels in their own way. She has two loves—her skating and Jerry, her husband, an overseas U.S. spy. But when he returns home looking like a skeleton trying to return to life, she’s scared. What happened in Germany to change a man so much? When his wife’s life is threatened, Jerry realizes he can’t stand by and do nothing. Jerry has to risk all for the very soul and life of himself—Josie. These two damaged, rebellious people learn the hard way that leaning on God instead of their ownselves and abilities is the only true way to love and happiness.

Josephine Rayner Patterson, the second sister, is quite different from her older sister. She’s athletic and training for the Olympics once it’s resumed after the war. But returning to her flute after a drastic alteration in her life, it’s the balm that heals her troubled heart. In spite of resisting, Jerry Patterson through her music and enduring love, finds his heart strangely drawn to what he’s never experienced before.

Sing Until You Die

The third book in this series has a tentative publishing date of 2019. The youngest sister of the WWII Spies sister overhears a private conversation while singing to the military troops and realizes it’s vital information to the well being of the United States. When she’s almost discovered, Claire barely escapes. Surrounded by zealous people she can’t and won’t trust, Claire has no options but to trust the one person she most disdains, the one person she ran from, quiet, plugging-along Wills but rumored to be the best spy serving on U.S. soil. In the midst of danger, Wills has the chance of a lifetime: to show the love of his life his love for her. Will she learn that God is her strength and wisdom and that no matter how well she can sing, how far she travels, how many men she meets, only Wills can fill the void in her heart?

Claire Roseanne Rayner is the princess of the family, the petted and beloved daughter of the Rayner Family who sings like a bird and is determined to fly away like one too. She loves God but staying away from the boy-turned-man she grew up with is never far from her mind. William (Wills) Mason has never wavered in his love for Claire Rayner. In spite of having no talent in either singing or playing, he’s fully behind Claire’s musical ambitions.

More:

Spies

Researching the spies was an eye-opening experience. Not only danger is involved, but there are tons of reasons why men—and women—serve in such a capacity. The rewards are vast—money, esteem, the parties and socializing, exotic countries—if all goes as hoped and the spy escapes detection. Caught—prison and death can be the result.

Music

It was easy to include this in these books because of my own love of music. The decision as to what or how it was brought into each book was also a fairly easy decision. Music has so many benefits besides lightening up suspense books.

  • Encouragement
  • Mood enhancers
  • Spiritual uplifter
  • Good music is healthy

and so much more.

One tidbit before I move on to the sisters. I love most instruments, but the flute was not one of them—until I heard one played by an expert. That changed my ideas about flutes, and from then on, I’ve been a devoted fan. The flute seemed the perfect instrument to include in atheletic Josie’s life.

Red-headed Sisters

I’ve always loved red hair. It’s so vibrant, rich in color and alluring. Studying and researching the subject I realized how many different shades of red there are. Choosing the shades was fun, but I wanted it to be more than fun. The shades needed to match their personalities.

All in all, the first two books have been a delight to write, and I’m looking forward to the writing the third book soon.

 

Thanks for allowing me to visit, Cindy.

Absolutely loved having you.  You are always a delightful guest. Thanks for making the time.  If you’d like to learn more about Carole and her latest novel read on.

Back Cover Blurb for Flute in the Willows

Both rebels in their own way, Josie and Jerry Patterson must figure out how to keep the other’s love…and keep the German enemy at bay.

She has two loves—her skating and Jerry, her husband. But when he returns home looking like a skeleton trying to return to life, she’s scared. What happened in Germany to change a man so much? Has another woman captured his heart?

Jerry has vowed to let Josie live her own glamourous life…especially after what happened in Germany. But when his wife’s life is threatened, Jerry realizes he can’t stand by and do nothing. Jerry has to risk all for the very soul and life of himself—Josie.

These two damaged, rebellious people learn the hard way that leaning on God instead of their own selves and abilities is the only true way to love and happiness.

Buy the Book:

https://www.amazon.com/Carole-Brown/e/B00EZV4RFY/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1492661357&sr=1-1

About Carole Brown:

Besides being a member and active participant of many writing groups, Carole Brown enjoys mentoring beginning writers. An author of ten books, she loves to weave suspense and tough topics into her books, along with a touch of romance and whimsy, and is always on the lookout for outstanding titles and catchy ideas. She and her husband reside in SE Ohio but have ministered and counseled nationally and internationally. Together, they enjoy their grandsons, traveling, gardening, good food, the simple life, and did she mention their grandsons?

Personal blog: http://sunnebnkwrtr.blogspot.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CaroleBrown.author

Amazon Author Page:  http://www.amazon.com/Carole-Brown/e/B00EZV4RFY/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1427898838&sr=8-1

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/browncarole212

BookBub:  https://www.bookbub.com/authors/carole-brown

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/sunnywrtr/boards/

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/5237997-carole-brown

Linkedin:  https://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=67381031

Google+:    https://plus.google.com/u/0/113068871986311965415/posts

Stitches in Time:  http://stitchesthrutime.blogspot.com/

Question for readers from Carole:

How much research detail do you like when reading a book? Is there ever too much or not quite enough to suit you?

 

I loved learning how Carole did her research and built her story world.  I strive to give my readers helpful information and writing tools. If you enjoyed this peek into the research side of the writing world sign up for this blog before you leave and receive more interesting and fun posts in your email.

 

 

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Trivia on your mind? It has value

Trivia cloud

I’ve always believed nothing you experience or learn is ever wasted. This is especially true in our writing journey. Maybe you were never very good at sports. Yet participation in PE class taught you the fundamentals. When one of your characters is a jock, you have background material to make him believable. Don’t discard trivial things. Those pieces of trivia can make or break a novel.

Tidbits add depth to novels

tree

During my online critique group, we were going over a fellow-writers fantasy piece. The others pointed out great ideas for improvement.  Then I added my two cents, or shall I say pieces of trivia.  The author has a bird, a tree and a setting that all represented something. I pulled from my vast knowledge of weird trivial information to help the author clarify what kind of symbolism she may want based on the point each symbol was to represent. Somewhere in my trunk of little cared about facts I drew out tidbits regarding cedar trees and their significance.  That clarified things for her.

For writers, details are important. As much as I hate to analyze a piece of pros for symbolism. (That boring task we had to attempt in senior English.) I find as a reader my mind connects those tiny tidbits and subtle symbols to the plot and the characters psyche.

Go, Learn Things

Never underestimate the value of wandering through a museum or attending an ethnic festival. Don’t turn down an opportunity to learn something new.  As much as you may hate science or history there are bits of trivia that may seep into your brain and be the cornerstone of a plot line you need. Think docudramas from the History Channel.

 

 

We all know grammar skills are important tools. Yet a well-written sentence with incorrect information or boring similes will cause a reader to close your book faster than a cat fleeing the kitchen when bacon grease splatters his fur.

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I know many things about dog behavior because of dog groomers in my family. Those factoids helped shape Brutus the dog in my contemporary romance New Duet that releases May 2018. (Shameless promotion.) His behavior is pivotal to the lead characters storyline.

The more you read, the more you know.

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Although a recent scientific study claims our brains work at forgetting unimportant information making room for relevant facts. (High School French.) However, we still have a place in the far-recesses of our brain for trivia.  Memories glue those bits in our head. In a nanosecond we can recall baseball statistics, variations on a favorite card game or the state capitals we learned in fifth grade. Who remembers how to speak Pig Latin?

And many of these seemingly useless facts that don’t relate to our day job may just find a place in your novel or your critique partner’s.

Share some trivia you used to help shape your story world.

An Interview with Jake Marcum Hero of Secrets and Charades

s-c-jakes-quoteSecrets and Charades has a very interesting hero. Jake Marcum, rancher, Civil War veteran and doting uncle. I corralled him long enough to do this interview.

Thank you so much for stopping by.

Well, ma’am, Evangeline insisted it was my turn. Not so sure how interesting I’ll be but go ahead and ask your questions.

Tell us a bit about your childhood.

I had two brothers and a sister. Our family headed west when my Pa got gold fever in ‘49. Our wagon broke down near Ben Mitchell’s place. He talked sense into Pa and taught him all he knew about ranching. Our small spread adjoined Ben’s property.

What happened to your family?

My sister run off with some no count drummer. That’s a traveling salesman. Then Clevis went back to Kentucky to attend college. He wanted to be a lawyer. I’d rather ranch. When the conflict broke out Clevis planned to join the Confederate Army. Pa sent me to Kentucky to bring him home. My older brother persuaded me to join the cause instead. He died six months later. My little brother Robert died from an injury falling off his horse. My Ma had died before I went to get Clevis and Pa died while I was away.

herd of horses

photo by morguefile.com

What was it like when you returned from the war?

Tougher than the battlefield. There was this gal, Nora. I thought we had an understanding. While I was gone, she’d married my brother and expecting their child.   Well, I ain’t proud of my action at the time. Nightmares from the war made me unfit to be around. Ben Mitchell invited me to join his outfit. He helped me dry out and introduced me to the Lord. He’d lost both his sons in the war so he kinda adopted me. I inherited his ranch when he passed. A year later Nora died in childbirth. They buried her newborn son with her. My brother and I were working out our differences when he died. My niece, Juliet come to live with me. She was six. Having her in my life helped heal the rift between Robert and me.

After your conversion, did you still have nightmares?

Sure. God changed me and helped me be a better man. But when the responsibilities of running this spread make me lose sleep—the nightmares come. And worrying about Evangeline coming gave me a few doozies. I still have them. Not as often. I reckon it’s a cross I must bear.

What challenges did you encounter taking over a ranch the size of the Double M?

Yeah. The neighbors looked at me as a gold-digger. But  I think you mention it in your book. Anyway,  Ben was a real Duke or something back in England. He called the ranch the Royal M. I think his surname was something different before he came to America. Anyway, the Double M stands for Mitchell and Marcum.  Several of Ben’s crew have stayed on with me over the years. Cookie Slade was Ben’s old foreman before he got gored by a steer. He stays on helping where he can. Don’t know what I’d do without him. He’s the one who encouraged me to take in Juliet and get me a mail-order bride.Brides71

What were you looking for in a bride?

Let just say, I think God was laughing when I made my request. He knew the kind of wife I needed even if I didn’t.

What was your biggest challenge before Evangeline came into your life?

There were two. Too few cowboys to run the ranch.  My wealthy neighbor kept stealing my men by offering them huge wages. The loyal ones stay. Sides they don’t like that Farley character much. He thinks he’s King of the county.

The second, I had to juggle teaching Juliet to read and cipher around chores. So, her education was sketchy. I felt like I’d betrayed my sister-in-law when I saw how much of a tomboy Juliet was becoming. Nora wanted her daughter to be the bell of the ball, not a ranch hand. So, finding an educated wife to teach my niece was my number priority.

Thanks so much for spending time with my readers.

My pleasure, ma’am.

If you missed my interview with Evangeline, the heroine of Secrets and Charades click here.

Jake and Evangeline’s story Secrets and Charades is available for preorder on Amazon.

secret-charades-front-cover

 

Populating Your Historical Story World

 

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Notice the diversity in these cowboys.

I am a pantster, I write my stories as my characters speak to me. I don’t usually outline and sometimes characters appear I never met until the words appear on the page. During my research in preparation for my historical novel, I was fascinated by the various nationalities, who populated the geographic setting of my story. Because the information ruminated in the back of my mind, many minor characters took shape from those tomes.

 

Potpourri of ethnicity

During the mid -1800s significant immigration by many diverse people groups to the unsettled regions of the Midwest occurred.  African Americans came west after the Civil War. Former slaves looking to start new. Irish immigrants who’d help build the railroads and were sick of big city life in the East. Some who in order to gain citizenship fought in the Civil War on both sides. Chinese nationals helped build the railroad. Wikipedia places them only on the west coast. However, my resource books show they also moved inland. Not all Native Americans were on reservations either. And Mexicans were the first immigrants to the area under the Spanish flag.

All of these nationalities took up residence either on the ranch or the surrounding community in my novel, Secrets and Charades.

Research the nationality of your setting

 

thp-irish-csa

Irish immigrants. Notice the one in the union hat.

 

When populating your novel with characters, it’s important to know who settled the area. For example, did you know that most police officers and firemen in New York in the 1800s were Irish? Those jobs were considered dangerous. The Irish were treated as second-class citizens when they arrived on American shores. Some had military training, either in Ireland or were Civil War veterans. Because these jobs paid better than most available to the Irish, many took up the call. Often patrolling tenement areas housing Irish

irish-laundry-girls

Irish women took any job available. These washerwomen might have traveled west for a better life. My ancestors among them.

immigrants. So, it would be appropriate to have Irish police officers in your novel set in this time period in New York. Those same poor, abused Irish immigrants came west as farmers, miners and the like. The various free land opportunities gave them a chance for a better life.

 

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Former slaves on their homestead.

 

African-Americans

African Americans who had served during the Civil War also participated in homesteading opportunities. Former slaves with specific skills such as blacksmithing could make a living out west.  Black communities sprung up throughout the west. The stigmatism leftover from slavery made it safer to form their own communities.

 

vaqueros2

Mexican vaqueros taught the American cowboy many things.

 

 

Mexican -Americans

Mexican-Americans from the rich to the poor had to make room for many settlers. The poor Hispanics found work on ranches. Non-Hispanic cowboys learned their skills from these experienced vaqueros. Often the household staff on large ranches were Hispanic.

 

chinese-railroad-workers

Chinese railroad workers

 

Chinese

The Chinese usually create their own communities in a section of town. Their different dress, language, and culture put them under suspicion. Chinese were not permitted to bring their families with them. Although I don’t explore the seedier side of their communities in my novel, sadly there was one.  Rather I chose to paint them with a more compassionate brush. Asians have been part of American culture for hundreds of years. Besides, a key scene in Secrets and Charades would be impossible without my Chinese characters.

 

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Native Americans

 

Native Americans

Native Americans were ever present in the old west. Not all lived on reservations. Their life was hard, abuse at the hands of the white man is well-documented. Still, there are accounts of Indians and mix-race families living peacefully with white neighbors.

Less Vanilla

Knowing the culture of those who lived during the time you place your story can make the tale not only more believable but far more interesting to the reader. Don’t hesitate to add some color to your otherwise vanilla characters.ed1c1dd3bf71efd7db9ad9c540d4421a

Who are the characters that populate your story world?

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Authors and Book Cover Creation

Creating a cover design is a fascinating process. My publisher provided a questionnaire for me to fill out. It gives the artist clues into my story world. Up until this point I had no idea what I wanted. The questions help get the creative juices flowing. The first few questions are basic: Title, author’s name. taglines, theme.

The next set of questions delves into specifics about the main character. What does your hero look like? Any distinguishing marks? Same questions for your heroine. This is where I get to give a clear description of the physical features of my characters. I had the option of adding photos of my ideas about the characters.

Who do my characters look like

The question about what actor or actress do you see playing them in a movie sent me to the internet to find photos. Did you know if you type in red-haired actresses with green eyes that you’ll find a large selection of photos? Evangeline’s hair is burgundy rather than carrot colored. I already had a picture of a model with burgundy hair but looking at more faces really helped narrow down an idea.

I have pictures of Tom Selleck, John Cusack and Sam Elliot all in cowboy garb that give me a feel for Jake. Evangeline looks a bit like Maureen O’Hara or Lori Loughlin (she’d have to dye her hair.)  I found a wonderful picture of Emma Stone. So I am adding photos of these actors to the form.

A fun exercise for you and your story, search the character description: cowboy, regency, blond soldier sees what comes up. If you’re a plotter and an outliner, you have probably already picked out your pictures before you started writing. What you want on the cover may be clearly define in your head. But, if you’re like me and lack artist know-how, you’ll be relying on the designer to bring your idea to reality. FYI: The publisher usually gets the final say on your cover. This is a good thing because they know what sells.

More details

I couldn’t find a picture of my ranch so I settled for writing a description. I got to choose whether I want people on the cover or a landscape. There is lots of room at the bottom of the form for more notes to further clarify.

Note all the covers of fellow-authors I’ve added to this post so you can get a better idea of cover design.

HerDeadlyInheritanceColor-2

Mystery Cover

 

Mercy Rains

Historical landscape cover

Genre and time period are important questions as well. Secrets & Charades is set in 1870s so costumes on the cover need to resemble the period. The hoop skirt was no longer in fashion but bustles were popular.

hand of adonai smaller

Fantasy Cover

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Police thriller/ fantasy cover

A fantasy cover might have someone dressed like Star Wars characters. The focus might be on an object that is key to the story line. Perhaps a space ship, a sword or a dragon take center stage in the story.

Comparing covers

There is a place on this form to add comparables. So, books with similar themes (remember that part in your proposal?) can now be used as examples. Those covers show what’s selling.

 

Not good ideas

If the hero is very tall, then he shouldn’t be the same height as the heroine on the cover. Unless of course she is very tall, too. I actually saw this on a cover. Until I read the story I didn’t realize the hero was well over six feet tall. Once I knew this, the cover was a bit disappointing.

If the story takes places in the winter in Florida, it will look different than winter in Alaska. That also goes for trees not native to the area. This will date me, but the movie Wayne’s World was supposed to take place in Aurora, Illinois. One scene in the movie had palm trees in the background. I suppose comedies can get away with that. Book covers not so much.

If your genre is horror you wouldn’t want a sunny sky.

A romance—unless it has vampires or some violent fantasy theme—is not going to have blood and gore on the cover.

Capturing emotion

The form asked me to describe the tone, mood, and attitude. One or two word descriptions can make a big difference in helping the designer get a taste of my fiction world. I had to google these terms to get a deeper understanding of the literary significance. I’m a seat-of-the-pants writer so I don’t always have a tone or mood in mind until my characters speak to me.

Defining the tone and mood can make a difference in a novel’s content so it should reflect on the cover. A romantic comedy design is going to look different from a romance with a broken-promise-restored theme. The same with a thriller with a sullen cast of characters versus one with a hopeful mood.

Photo sites give lots of options

You may prefer symbols or settings for your cover. My fellow-writer Gloria Doty has a modern-day cowboy romance series. She opted for boots and a Stetson on the cover of Bringing  a Cowboy Home. She wanted her readers to enjoy their own images of her characters. Photo websites have lots of these sorts of images.

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Publishers purchase the cover art and, if you self-publish, you’d do the same. Linda Yezak has a great cover for The Final Ride. She created it herself using pictures of a model she found online. She purchased the rights to use her likeness. This helped her create her cover.51jgIj4jqfL

Being sure your cover reflects your story means more sales. So, I am taking extra time to fill out this form. Hopefully the designer will get me. If the cover catches the reader’s eye, then they will pick it up. If you’re self-publishing, spend the money on a quality cover. I can’t wait to see what my cover will look like. I’ve been impressed with Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas cover designs. The reveal of my design is some months away. But the process begins now.

The back cover is just as important as the front cover. I’ll talk about the process in the next post.

Anyone like to share their experience with cover designs?

 

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Writing For The Reader’s Enjoyment

woman reading book

Write so your reader keeps following you.

I’ve always heard you should write for your readers. Which seems reasonable. After all we want them to buy our books. Let me share how I understand what writing for your readers implies.

Oftentimes our rough drafts are full of lots of stuff.  All the things we want to say about everything.  All the details we know about each character, every room, all the historical data. EVERYTHING! Hopefully, during your numerous rewrites most of this wonderful stuff will be deleted. At least they should.

You don’t agree.

You say the details are important. Depends on the details.

Without the details who will understand the complexities of the heart surgery our hero’s mother is going through. Even though the hero’s mother never makes an appearance in the book.

An in-depth description of the room the character walks through and never returns to again.

Telling the reader what the villain is thinking while we are writing from the hero’s point of view.

Determine what details carry the story. The character’s obsession over having a heart attack. The villain telling the hero an important fact so the reader can piece together the clues along with the hero. Less is more is the adage for writers to cling to as they try to keep the reader engaged.

Real people in our real world

There are real world examples to justify even more why we write to the reader.

We all have at least one friend, relative or even our spouse who over explain things. You know what I mean. They can’t just tell you they got this great deal on bananas at the store. They tell you about all the other fruit too. Or you ask their opinion on which paint is best for interior painting and you get the history of the creation of paint.

Then there’s the people (all of us can talk like this when we’re excited.) They tell us every detail about an incident and then circle back around and tell us over again. Maybe adding a detail.

Of course, none of us has ever written like this. Ahem.

The readers follow the characters

Readers remember what they read in a previous chapter. We don’t need to repeat every detail when a new character enters the scene. This isn’t real life it’s fiction.

So, if your characters are cops and they are investigating a crime, when the chief enters- they fill him in. That’s the sentence.

Unless there is information we haven’t told the reader about the crime we don’t need to restate it. The readers go everywhere with our characters so we don’t really tell it like we would in real life.

Keep dialogue on point

Small talk unless it tells the reader something about the character should not exist. So don’t have your character pick up the phone, say hello, and chat about trivial things for a page. In our real world we might spend an hour visiting with a friend before getting to the point. But our readers aren’t that patient. They want to find out what happens next.

TwainKeep your vocabulary engaging yet simple

Mark Twain said “Why use a five-dollar word when a fifty cent word will do.”

Unless you are writing to academia or a technical book, keep your words simple.

If a reader has to reach for the dictionary, you’ve lost them. Be sure the word can be understood within a sentence. And even then is there a simpler more descriptive word. A fancy word that no one knows does not impress a reader. Enough of those in your work and they will stop reading.

Avoid adjectives

We aren’t writing for our English teachers. Adjectives are not the readers friend.

“Mary was miserably silent.” The sentence tells the reader nothing.

They want to experience the silence.

“Mary sat in the hard back chair, her lips flexing between a pout and a straight line. Tears fought for space on her cheek.”

This tells the reader so much more. They can feel her misery.

How do your characters talk?

Does your dialogue for a teen or child sound like them or their parents?

“Why, Charlotte, you should be ashamed of yourself.”

Instead: “Char, you’re so messed up.”

Give them flaws

As much as we want our heroes and heroine to be the pillar of perfection. Show their flaws. This gives the reader hope. Following the story of a woman fighting depression and winning might encourage a reader to get help.

A heroine who always says and does the right things is not only unrealistic, it’s boring. The reader can’t relate to perfection. Because our readers are human.

Non-fiction writers need to reach the heart

Even when writing non-fiction, share your ideas so the reader can relate without pointing fingers at them.

Avoid writing: you should…If you had or your problem….

Rather, say I have found. Research shows.

Share a story from your own life illustrating the point without sounding arrogant.

check list-tinyA check list

My challenge to all of us. Go through your manuscripts while you’re editing and before submission and ask yourself if you are getting to the heart of your reader.

Am I preaching or encouraging.

Does my character’s armor have some tarnish?

Do my ten steps to…whatever…have an ah ha moment.

Do I need to explain the history of the zipper to establish a time period?

Does this wonderful scene with my secondary characters shopping really move the story along?

We want our books to be passed around, shared and recommended and it will only happen when we focus on the readers and not ourselves.

 

What revelations have you come to understand about writing to the readers? Share in the comments. I’d love to hear it.

 

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Riding A Horse With No Name

I’ve ridden very few horses in my life. But I’ve ridden on the best of them through the pages of a book. My sister, Linda, however, not only rode horses but also owned a few and did rodeo roping and barrel racing. She was one of my go-to people when I did my research for my historical romance. I was quite surprised to learn that cowboys didn’t name all their horses.

photo by morguefile.com

photo by morguefile.com

Horses were work animals serving a purpose like cows, sheep and chickens. Most horses on a ranch were used for tending cattle and transporting cowboys from point A to point B. A wise cowboy took care of his horse before he took care of his own needs. The horse he was riding aided in his survival. A well-rested, well-fed horse made the difference in the productivity of a ranch and the success of a long cattle drive. Can you imagine naming a herd of horses? It wasn’t practical.

photo from morguefile.com

photo from morguefile.com

Many cowboys didn’t even own a horse. They owned their saddle and rode whatever horse the rancher provided for him. Those who did own a horse consider it one of their prize possessions. Nameless horses tamed the west on cattle ranches, Calvary units and service animals helping lay railroad ties. So important were horses in the old west, stealing them was a hanging offense.

photo from morguefile.com

photo from morguefile.com

Jake Marcum in my novel Secrets and Charades has a fine gray horse named Traveler. Jake served in the Confederate Army in the Civil War. If you’re up on historical trivia Robert E. Lee’s horse was named Traveler. Jake admired the man and respected his horse enough to give him a noble name.

LeeOnTraveler

Tony Sanchez named his horse Bonita. He spends his spare time working with Bonita teaching her tricks. He is very attached to his horse and is the top horse whisperer on the ranch. He trains Artie Weaver’s horse to follow the lad like a dog. This is connected to an important plot twist.

Jake gives Evangeline a gentle mare named Sage. Evangeline has not had good experiences with horses. So Sage will also play a part in her healing.

photo from morguefile.com

photo from morguefile.com

Nameless characters are also present in novels. An incidential human character may not have a name either. The waiter is the waiter and remains nameless. He serves a purpose in the scene, but unless he is a pivotal character in future scenes, he remains nameless.

A horse has no name unless there is a connection to the human characters that contributes to the plot. So if the horse has a name be prepared to see some specific action occur in the plot with that horse’s name on it. 🙂

What fictional horse is your favorite horse hero?

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