Saturday, December 16, 2017

What Makes a Character Memorable by Victoria Chatham

So here we are in our last Round Robin topic for 2017. How did December come around so fast? It’s almost as if the year went by in a blur before my eyes. We’ve had some really interesting topics and a variety of views on them. Our final post for this year is what makes a character memorable?

For me, it has always been about how a character’s flaws shape them. In the first of Marie Force’s Gansett Island series, it’s Mac and Maddie’s vulnerabilities that shape them. In Georgette Heyer’s Regency romp Frederica, it’s her determination to find a suitable match for her sister that drives her to deal with several setbacks.

Our characters are not perfect, nor should they be. In building a character we need more than the color of their hair and eyes, their height and build, and their origins. We need to know what their strengths and weaknesses are and how they build on the one and overcome the other. We need to know their greatest fears and what caused these fears in order for them to grow and change, challenge themselves to feats of extraordinary courage or deal with the realization of their failures.

We have to uncover the humanity in them and then expand that on the page. Watching movies is a great way to understand how to build your characters. You only have to look at the Star Wars movies, or Elle in Legally Blonde, or any of the characters in The Holiday. We see the changes in them with each beat of the movie. We feel for them, laugh or cry with them and hopefully, we can imbue our own characters with that same depth of realism.   

Victoria Chatham
Marci Baun
Dr. Bob Rich
Beverley Bateman
A.J. Maguire
Anne Stenhouse 
Rhobin L Courtright

Friday, October 27, 2017

What Is Your Preferred Genre and Would You Change It?

Our Round Robin Topic for October is: In what time period do you prefer to set your stories – past, present, or future? What are the problems and advantages of that choice? Would you like to change?

This is a topic that caught my attention right away. Some writers stick to just one genre whether it be romance, thrillers, cozy mysteries, sci-fi, or whatever. Although I mostly write Regency romance, I also like the Edwardian period of history but set my last book, Brides of Banff Springs, in the more recent historical era of 1935.

I never set out to write historical anything. My first attempt at a novel was a western contemporary romance. Knowing nothing about ranches or rodeos meant I had to do quite a lot of research, and that fascinated me. There was no internet or Google in 1998 which meant trips to the library, phone calls and fax requests to cowboys, ranchers, and stock contractors. One lead led to another and I became a regular visitor to the then Western Heritage Centre in Cochrane, Alberta, which had the most amazing archives and a wonderfully knowledgeable archivist.

It wasn’t long before I had more material than I could ever use. Discussing this wealth of information with a workshop presenter, I was told to first ‘write the damn book’ and then decide what portions of my treasure trove to drop in it. That approach just did not work for me and I let that novel go because I made such a mess of it.

But the research bug had bitten and it wasn’t long before I attempted my first Regency. I have to say that, having grown up with my all-time favorite author, Georgette Heyer, it was more an homage to her than anything else. However, because there are strong elements of adventure in it, I’ve been told it’s not true Regency romance.

I have also had it pointed out to me on more than one occasion that by swapping my genre I am cheating my readers as they have come to expect the Regencies from me. That may be so to some degree but, in all honesty, I get bored. Just as I don’t always want to read Regency romances, I don’t want to write them either.

I have never wanted to be pigeon-holed in life which has made for a very varied work history. I’ve carried this into my writing as, if I’m bored with what I’m writing, it’s going to show which is not good for me or my readers. There is also the aspect of writing different genres under pseudonyms. Nora Roberts, born Eleanor Marie Robertson, writes as J.D. Robb, Jill March, and Sarah Hardesty. Jayne Ann Krentz writes under seven different names including Amanda Quick and Jayne Taylor. I have enough trouble writing as one person, let alone working with other personas.

I am currently working on the third novel in my Berkeley Square Regency series. I’m thoroughly enjoying it, but what comes next will be a completely different beast as I am contemplating writing women’s fiction. As writers, although we have much to thank all our readers for ultimately we have to be true to ourselves for our best work to emerge. If that means mixing it up from one genre to another wherever and whenever the story is set, then so be it. After all, it’s the story that really matters.

Check out what these fine authors have to say on the subject.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

September's Round Robin Topic

Topic: What characters in other author's books have not left your mind? Have written a character who wouldn't leave you? Why do you think this happens?

We all have favorite books, sometimes too many to list individually. I could start with my childhood favorite, Black Beauty. From that classic, I went on to read others while at school. Admittedly, these were somewhat foist upon me because of my English courses, but I never forgot Austen’s Elizabeth Bennett or Emma Woodhouse, Bronte’s Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights or Paul Craddock from R.F. Delderfield’s A Horseman Riding By. But, without any doubt at all, I have to say that Frederica from Georgette Heyer’s Regency romance by that title, is my all time, hands down favorite.

Frederica was published in 1965 and I snapped it up as soon as it hit the store bookshelves to add to my already extensive Heyer collection. Since then I have read that book at least once every year. You do the math! The time between each reading is of no matter as the story comes across as fresh and as funny as the first time I read it.

It is, I think, her best romance. The Marquis of Alverstoke is tumbled from his bored and cynical heights by Frederica’s wit, charm, and unselfconscious beauty. The fact that she thinks about her rambunctious family more than herself is also a novelty to a man who is used to having his family apply to him for all manner of reasons, most of them financial.

This is a comedy of manners and a subtle construct of human behavior. Heyer cleverly uses the interactions between Frederica and her siblings to intrigue the Marquis who has little attachment to his young relatives, although he can be kind to them when it pleases him.

Frederica, more than any other book, is the book that tempted me to write Regency romance. I love the style of the era (if one is rich, of course), the elegance of the architecture, and the costumes.

When I started writing my first Regency tale, His Dark Enchantress, I never expected to write another. However, my hero’s sister kept intruding. Each time I started a scene with my heroine, Emmaline Devereux, Lady Juliana Clifton elbowed her way in. This carried on until I promised her a book of her own, which came out as His Ocean Vixen.

Neither of my heroines are wilting wall-flowers. Quite the opposite, in fact. But, even though Emmaline was my first Regency heroine, Juliana is by far my favorite of the two. I think it was because she had a little more spark than Emmaline, probably because she had siblings as foils whereas Emmaline was an only child and something of an introvert. Both young ladies were of superior intellect, something not much appreciated in that time.

Both these titles are on sale now at Smashwords.

His Dark Enchantress

Coupon NR95Q (not case-sensitive

His Ocean Vixen

Coupon EF49H (not case-sensitive

I think the reason that Juliana stays with me now, is that she is everything I am not or maybe is everything I would like to be. She has bravery and adventure stamped on her soul, whereas I would never consider myself brave and like my home comforts. Last year I came this close >< to going on a zip line but couldn’t quite bring myself to do it.

So what about the other authors in our Round Robin pool? Check out these websites to see what they have to say.