Round Robin

Hullo again and welcome to June’s Round Robin which is about Characters. Robin, who sets up these posts, calls it a basic topic. It is a basic topic – but one might also refer to it as fundamental.

You can have the most wonderful plot in the history of fiction writing, but if you have to frogmarch your characters through it – it will not work.

In the beginning

So how do I go about developing them? I listen to their conversations. I used to write plays and for that I would put two characters in a room and listen in. Gradually, gradually, I begin to hear what they think needs saying. Fiction of course needs much more narrative and the conversations have to be embellished by surroundings. A pauper woman in Shoreditch is going to have different things to say about there being no food in the house, from a Duchess in Wiltshire.

Fiction writing also lacks a play producer, so it’s up to the writer to dress the characters. Perhaps that leads on to what the Duchess thinks about her dressmaker and the pauper about the rag-and-bone man.

I do spend time on it, but it is time during the writing process. I may know that my theme demands a type of heroine and a type of hero. As I explore what I want to tease out of the theme, I’m listening to the characters.

…and into maturity

What inspires the process of creating a character? Well, getting the next action or twist right, is very important. When I was writing Mariah’s Marriage, Mariah’s response to the countess’s revelation that Toby wanted to marry her, wasn’t the response I’d thought to type. As I typed, the girl’s reaction crystallised and when I read it over, I realised that the character had spoken and I needed to re-think that part of the plot and what happened next. An altogether satisfactory place to arrive at.

The other participants are listed below and despite having a teen at hand to consult, I’ve no idea why they’re appearing in miniature font. Comments on that or on how you create characters will be most welcome,

Anne

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Round Robin – Description – How Much is Too Much – Too Little?

 
Description I remember a writing lesson exercise at primary school. The task was to describe the living room of our house. It was a huge joy when the teacher said of my piece that he would be able to walk into that room and not bump into anything because my description was so careful, he knew where everything was.
     So, is that degree of detail appropriate for the kind of historical fiction I write now?
I don’t think so. I prefer to give the reader a few clues and allow them to visualise countryside, room, people, animals, in their mind’s eye. I like to think that a clue will conjure a world.
     If it’s pouring rain, the reader will see the water from a phrase like, ‘She came up out of the underground into a mass of folk hurrying on their way beneath a jostling canopy of umbrellas.’
     On the other hand, if the sun is blazing, I might use, ‘She shielded her eyes beneath an outstretched palm. It was hard to tell whether the heat was more shocking than the expanse of flesh on view. She knew her mother was right when she said Brits don’t dress well in summertime.’
     I want to include enough to let the reader know the bits of information it is important they do not get wrong. I want them to see the difference between a young lady and her maid, a crossing-sweeper and an Eton school-boy – and so on. One of my favourite passages from one of my own books is this from Mariah’s Marriage:

“Of course Tilly would be interested in the earl’s tailored wool coat with his spotless waistcoat and carefully tied neck cloth. The men who normally visited here wore ill-fitting garments which were often stained with food. Not only that, but the earl had a clean-shaven face and the hair of his head was trimmed into a neat style that allowed his strong bones to be seen easily. Seen and admired, she thought.”

I think this little snippet of description not only tells us what Tobias looks like, but how overwhelmed Tilly is and, indeed, how Mariah, too, is succumbing.

London Girl

London Girl

     Our topic also asked whether I skimmed description when reading a book. Oh dear, yes I do. I am most likely to skim scene-setting description. It’s very unfair of me and maybe I should try harder, but honestly, I want to know the characters are in a dental surgery or a fast-food outlet, but I don’t need to know what colour the paintwork is. Unless, of course, that’s relevant to the plot.
So, if description interests you, then read on among my Round Robien friends below. I think you’ll enjoy…

MOTHERS, MOTHERS, MOTHERS

 

BELLA’S BETROTHAL an entertaining romance with humour and a touch of thematic mystery.

Bella’s Betrothal, set in Edinburgh 1826, has two mothers offering opposing views of that position. Bella’s actual mama is a distant and critical woman who does everything in her power to diminish her talented and engaging daughter. Why would she do that? Obviously, it’s a plot device, but it happens in life and many women will sadly recognise the relationship.  Hatty, to whom Bella flees for succour is red haired and feisty like her niece. She’s also the kind of mother we all long for: supportive, encouraging and loving without being suffocating.

Mariah’s Marriage a roller-coaster read with razor sharp dialogue.

Mariah’s Marriage, set in London, 1822 has a motherless heroine who wonders wistfully if her life would have been different had her mama survived. But she’s made a very good job of growing up with only one parent and when confronted by the Earl of Mellon’s mama, Lady Constanzia, has mixed feelings about the relationship. The earl, finds his mama exasperating, loving and a great excuse for trapping Mariah into marriage. Will he, though, get the high-spirited girl as far as the altar?

Daisy’s Dilemma a brilliant exploration of what it was to be a lady in the 1800s

Daisy’s Dilemma,  set in London 1822 and later brings us more of the story of Lady Constanzia and another of her children, the talented and stifled, Lady Daisy. How does a girl behave when her duty is clear, but her head and her heart are at war? Can her mama help resolve her difficulties? Once more, Anne Stenhouse juxtaposes two mothers in Lady Constanzia and her sister-in-law, the monstrous Lady Beatrice. Whose will prevails?

Bad Boys – Forever Attractive: Bad Girls – Forever Reviled?

 

With Valentine’s Day falling tomorrow, Rhobin has asked us to consider why we think Bad Boys are so popular as heroes and Bad girls are so often reviled.

I loved the question because it’s one I’ve thought about a great deal over many, many years. In fact I wrote my long essay on the subject of the Anti-hero in Fiction for my Sixth Year Studies certificate.

Possibly because I knew how much the head of English disliked the James Bond novels of Ian Fleming, but possibly not.

Skipping over that tiny teenage rebellion – what is the attraction of the Bad Boy?

100_4058

Well, sometimes they are, like this chap, just very attractive. That gorgeous plumage is unlikely to hide a heart of gold – more likely a cast-iron pump going full belt to protect what’s his. But he is good to look at.

Devil Baby, Melbourne Festival 2011

Devil Baby, Melbourne Festival 2011

Sometimes, it’s the challenge. The idea that you’re the one for whom he’ll change. Really? He might be fun to flirt with, but he’s no long term bet.

He’s charming, arrogant, devil-may-care and a huge liability. He’s The Saint, aka Roger Moore, he’s James Bond, aka Sean Connery, he’s Antony Di Nozo, aka Michael Weatherly – and he’d be Hell to live with.

As one doesn’t have to, the imagination is free to put him on that pedestal.

Real villains have a place in my fiction. Mariah’s Marriage has Sir Lucas Wellwood. Sir Lucas is a domestic tyrant and a man at the start of the road to becoming a serial killer. Of course, that was not a recognised state of mind in 1822, so Mariah might be forgiven for getting it so right and so wrong.

Bad Girls This frock

Copy Lady Macbeth costume

Copy Lady Macbeth costume

is a replica of an original stage costume for Lady Macbeth. The young designer made it with false nails. The original was made with beetles’ casings. Both are masterpieces.

Lady Macbeth, however, was something else. Power-crazed, she drove her husband, by preying on his already susceptible frame of mind, to commit murder. There’s no forgiveness for her. She’s not, perhaps, the epitome of the ‘Bad Girl’ Rhobin is asking us about. I remember scenes from a Margaret Lockwood film – possibly banned in some places because the necklines were too low? Called the Wicked Lady, the film allowed its heroine to transgress everything until comeuppance called. Like Bond, The Saint and Di Nozzo, she is attractive to the opposite sex and gets a lot of good lines.

A more contemporary Bad Girl might be The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and various TV senior female police officers. Do we revile them? Maybe we’re coming at last to respect their quiet strength, although they very rarely get the guy. Fluff and pink trimmed slippers and negligées might, just might, be slipping into history.

One thing that’s an essential truth of fiction is this: The reader does not want to read about their own slightly grey existence; the reader wants romance, fantasy and being taken out of the ordinary. So while much might be misleading, it’s great fun to be attracted and reviled: and reality is never far away.

We have a shorter than usual list of participants this month, but I’m sure you’ll find much of interest in the posts. Begin with Connie Vines http://connievines.blogspot.com/ and move through.

We all love to hear from you, so please share your views on Bad Boys and Girls.

 

 

Skye Taylor http://www.skye-writer.com/blogging_by_the_sea
Helena Fairfax  http://helenafairfax.com/
Rachael Kosinski http://rachaelkosinski.weebly.com/
Anne Stenhouse  https://annestenhousenovelist.wordpress.com/
Connie Vines http://connievines.blogspot.com/
Fiona McGier http://www.fionamcgier.com/
Rhobin Courtright http://www.rhobinleecourtright.com/

Round Robin – Project the Projects

100_5920

Thought I’d welcome everyone in this month with a plate of my favourite goodies. With or without the iconic Scottish lion standard a box of said goodies was a highlight among my Christmas presents in 2015. The culprit knows who he is!

So that’s in the way of another 2016 goal entirely – get the weight back into the “I am a size ? comfortably, and not just when I breathe in.”

But we are meant to be discussing the one or two writing projects I’d like to accomplish this year and what obstacles to them I might encounter.

I’ve written, short fiction and non-fiction. I’ve written plays. I’ve written professional letters and reports. I’ve written minutes…I think you’re getting the picture.

I enjoy writing and re-reading my novels, but there are one or two ambitions I didn’t realise in the shorts’ world – and that’s my project for 2016. I want to be published by Woman’s Weekly. For those of you in Canada and the US, this is a weekly woman’s magazine which still features two short stories and a serial each week. There is an Australian version, too. I’ve tried before, but not managed. That being said, when they had a letters’ page, I was a regular, so strictly speaking I have been in W’s W, but not in the format I covet.

So, what am I doing to anticipate any obstacles I might encounter? In the first place, I’ve signed up for one of their workshops in Glasgow in early March. Got the ticket. Sussed the travelling. Sharpened the pencils.

One thing coming up next month is the publication of my first novel, Mariah’s Marriage, in large print by Ulverscroft for their Linford Romance line. That is certainly the realisation of a long term goal. Do ask at your library, please. It’s going to be such a pleasure to hold my book in my hand. I can feel the excitement as I think about it.

 

Amazon Author’s Page MARIAH’S MARRIAGE BELLA’S BETROTHAL DAISY’S DILEMMA

Interested in how we writers go about organising our year, then pop across to the lovely Hollie Glover Hollie Glover http://www.hollieglover.co.uk and any of the others listed below.

 



Victoria Chatham http://victoriachatham.blogspot.ca
Margaret Fieland http://margaretfieland.com/2016/01/23/writers-to-do-list-for-the-new-year/
Skye Taylor http://www.skye-writer.com/blogging_by_the_sea
Diane Bator http://dbator.blogspot.ca/
Beverley Bateman http://beverleybateman.blogspot.ca/
Connie Vines http://connievines.blogspot.com/
Bob Rich  http://wp.me/p3Xihq-Bm
Rachael Kosinski http://rachaelkosinski.weebly.com/
Judith Copek http://lynx-sis.blogspot.com/
Kay Sisk http://kaysisk.blogspot.com
Anne Stenhouse  https://annestenhousenovelist.wordpress.com/
Hollie Glover http://www.hollieglover.co.uk
Helena Fairfax  http://helenafairfax.com/
Fiona McGier http://www.fionamcgier.com/
Rhobin Courtright http://www.rhobinleecourtright.com/

Galloping Into Fiction

100_4288Okay so the elephants aren’t galloping and you were expecting a horse. Fiction’s like that. Today’s round robin topic is about how we use animals in our writing. Topic: Have you used pets or other animals in your stories? What function do they perform in the story? Do they need to have a function? Can they be a character?

Horses were the main means of transport in Georgian and Regency times (after shanks’s pony – ie your own two feet). As such they were highly prized and highly valued. It’s possibly not too strong to say a man looked after his horses as well or better than most of his staff. but I write from the woman’s pov with a bit of him included so how did she see her horse?

Mariah Fox in Mariah’s Marriage doesn’t ride, but she is very impressed by Toby’s vehicle when he arrives to take her driving. It’s also the case that Mariah’s opening scene is with an animal – she’s nearly up-ended by a charging pig. I loved that image and chose it because we in the West have lost sight of the close integration of animals and humans in earlier and growing cultures. The fine chap below was wandering the streets of Bikaner in Rajasthan. He doesn’t ‘belong’ to anyone. the cows, however, because they give milk, are ear-tagged and there are urban dairies where they are milked. There were also many pigs, but they moved a little fast for my photographic skills, so I haven’t got a photo. 100_5173 BELLA’S BETROTHAL contains a heroine of a different stamp. Brought up in an aristocratic, rather than intellectual, household, Bella has her own horse, Ruby. And it’s the missing of Ruby that eventually pushes her into behaviour that rouses her hero’s ire and potentially endangers her life. How many secrets and troubles did Bella pour into her horse’s listening ear? Life was circumscribed for aristocratic ladies and activities like riding were the things that allowed those of an active mind and disposition to retain a hold on sanity. How many of the women portrayed idle and ill on day-beds were neither? They were just bored and it was killing them.Daisys Dilemmal 333x500 The hero in my work in progress is a dog and horse man. He’s waiting for news from home of how many pups his bitches have bred. Why give him this angle? Shows his caring side, I think. My Round robin companions are writing on this subject today and you may want to drop along and see what they’re saying. Start with Robin herself, here: Rhobin Courtright http://www.rhobinleecourtright.com/ and try a few others.

Beverley Bateman http://beverleybateman.blogspot.ca/

Victoria Chatham http://victoriachatham.webs.com/

Connie Vines http://connievines.blogspot.com/

Margaret Fieland http://www.margaretfieland.com/blog1/

Rachael Kosinski http://rachaelkosinski.weebly.com/

Kay Sisk http://kaysisk.blogspot.com

Judith Copek http://lynx-sis.blogspot.com/

Marci Baun  http://www.marcibaun.com/

Diane Bator http://dbator.blogspot.ca/

Anne Stenhouse  https://annestenhousenovelist.wordpress.com/

Rhobin Courtright http://www.rhobinleecourtright.com/

skye Taylor http://skye-writer.com/blogging_at_the_beach

So, do you enjoy reading about animals in fiction? does it endear a character to you if they’re kind to the horses?

FREEBIE

Till 17th June

Till 17th June

I’m shouting!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

MARIAH’S MARRIAGE is where the exciting Lady Daisy made her debut and that book is Free until 17th June

MuseItUp with coupon code MARIAHFREE (Includes a version for kindle)
http://bit.ly/MariahsMarriageMIUFREE

Barnes & Noble http://bit.ly/MariahsMarriageFREE

Apple http://bit.ly/MariahsMarriageAppleFREE

kobo https://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/mariah-s-marriage-3

 

Dreaming – Midsummer Dreams – Alison May

In celebration of the e-launch day for Alison May’s brand new romantic comedy, Midsummer Dreams, I’m posting today on the theme of all things dream-related.

I had a dream…

This is such a difficult selection to make and I’m really struggling with it. What area of one’s life? This is a writing blog, so I’ll say my dream was to hold a book with my name on it in my hand.

I had a nightmare…

That the e-revolution which brings us such variety and quality through e-readers would deprive me of the chance to hold my own book in my hand.

My dream for the future…

That the lovely people at Ulverscroft may thrive and I will see Mariah’s Marriage in the Linford romance series, early next year and hold one in my hand.

 

Here’s Alison’s Book

 

MIDSUMMER_FRONT

You can download the kindle edition of Midsummer Dreams here: http://bookgoodies.com/a/B00XJOEJTM

About Midsummer Dreams

Four people. Four messy lives. One party that changes everything … Emily is obsessed with ending her father’s new relationship – but is blind to the fact that her own is far from perfect. Dominic has spent so long making other people happy that he’s hardly noticed he’s not happy himself. Helen has loved the same man, unrequitedly, for ten years. Now she may have to face up to the fact that he will never be hers. Alex has always played the field. But when he finally meets a girl he wants to commit to, she is just out of his reach. At a midsummer wedding party, the bonds that tie the four friends together begin to unravel and show them that, sometimes, the sensible choice is not always the right one.

Sally Malcolm http://sallymalcolm.blogspot.co.uk/

Chris Stovell http://homethoughtsweekly.blogspot.co.uk/

Clare Chase http://clarechase.com/

Janet Gover http://janetgover.com/

Morton Gray http://mortongray.blogspot.co.uk/

Evonne Wareham http://evonneonwednesday.blogspot.co.uk/

Henriette Gyland https://henriettegyland.wordpress.com/

Ann Evans http://annsawriter.blogspot.co.uk/

Georgia Hill http://www.georgiahill.co.uk/

Christina Hollis http://www.christinahollis.com/

Kathryn Freeman http://kathrynfreeman.co.uk/

Bernadette O’Dwyer http://secretwriter1.blogspot.co.uk/

Debbie Flint http://www.debbieflint.co.uk/read-it-write-it-sell-it

Julia Ibbotson http://juliaibbotsonauthor.com/

Anne Stenhouse https://annestenhousenovelist.wordpress.com/

Janice Preston http://janicepreston.co.uk/

Linn B Halton http://linnbhalton.co.uk/

Helena Fairfax http://helenafairfax.com/

Alison May www.alison-may.co.uk

Daisy’s Dilemma is on pre-order – Another wonderful cover

Daisys Dilemmal 333x500

 

Another wonderful lady from CK Volnek for MuseItUp. Don’t you think her brooding air is so suitable for a lady in a dilemma?

DAISY’S DILEMMA is available to pre-order now from:

MuseItUp and amazon. Links are below. What’s it about? Back to London for this one, 1822, when Lady Daisy, sister of Tobias, Earl of Mellon, is recovering from food poisoning. Lady Daisy was one of those secondary characters who simply cried out for a place to tell her own story. So, here it is:

Lady Daisy should be ecstatic when her brother, the earl, allows Mr. John Brent to propose. She’s been plotting their marriage for two years. However, she is surprised to find herself underwhelmed and blames their distant cousin, Reuben, for unsettling her.
Reuben Longreach wonders whether the earl understands the first thing about Daisy’s nature and her need for a life with more drama than the Season allows. It’s abundantly clear to him that Daisy and John are not suited, but the minx accepts his proposal nonetheless.
Meanwhile, Daisy hatches a plan to attach Reuben to her beautiful, beleaguered Scots cousin, Elspeth. Little does she know that Elspeth is the focus of a more sinister plot that threatens Daisy too.
Will Reuben be able to thwart the forces surrounding Daisy before she is irretrievably tied to John? Will Daisy find the maturity to recognise her dilemma may be of her own making before it’s too late?

Publication date is 16th June, but you can pre-order and it’ll be automatically sent to your e-reader from:

amazon UK and US or  MuseItUp or kobo

 

Across on Exquisite Quills

Some blog owners very generously offer the chance to publicise on their blog. Rose Anderson and Exquisite Quills is one such. Today for example Exquisite Quills asks for a 2-3 line snippet and a buy link. I’ve put up this for Bella’s Betrothal:

muselogo

Charles Lindsay released her mouth slowly, and she was fascinated by the clouding of his eyes as he opened them and stared into hers. Anger melted into the moment.
The peace, however, did not last long enough for any treaty negotiations to begin.
anne’s amazon author page http://goo.gl/EouENm

Mariah’s Marriage has its own warm moments. Here’s one from the evening Mariah’s plans go a little astray:

A cold frisson of fear touched her heart. The earl had engineered her presence in the garden without any kind of escort and with none of his relatives to give them countenance.

          ‘You have tricked me, sir,’ she said.

          ‘My beautiful girl, of course I have,’ he said as he pulled her into his embrace and kissed her.

Tickle your fancy? Daisy’s Dilemma is coming soon and carries forward the story of Lady Daisy from Mariah’s Marriage. Watch this space for early notice of her beautiful cover from CK Volnek.