First! A great big huge THANK YOU to all my readers who sent Loving Ellen to the top of the Historical Fiction in Kindle World for two months. Sharing the #1 and the #2 spot with Nan O’Berry was wonderful. You’re going to see more of Nan O’Berry as she is joining us as a guest author in our upcoming Christmas boxed set. Nan writes both contemporary and historical western romances.
October is going to be a busy month on Main Street as we all get ready to release this year’s Christmas boxed set. I’m excited because this set will contain my fourth story in the popular Montgomery family saga.
If you remember the first story was about Cody Montgomery. He was the single father of seven children, divorced and then widowed. His choice in females was anything but stellar, and he collected children with each marriage. So when he met DeeDee who had high hopes of her own bridal design business, sparks began to fly and not the way Cody always expected. Cody was a great dad to his large brood. Not always perfect, but he tried hard.
Julia was the oldest daughter and the “wild child” of the Montgomery household. But her boy craziness seemed to settle down when she went to work for DeeDee in her fledgling bridal business. Well, until the redheaded and freckled Aaron came along and stirred the passion in Julia to new heights.
Then there was Melissa. She was the good daughter, good student, etc. But after working for her grandfather at SunWest as an actuary, she realized her career choice was a big mistake. She packs up and returns to her childhood hometown and rents a gatekeeper’s cottage on an old estate. There she found herself falling in love with the man she thought was the groundskeeper on that estate.
This Christmas, it’s Chelsea’s chance at love. She’s followed in her father’s footsteps and become a lawyer. She’s even working for the same organization that looks for innocent people who have been wrongly convicted of crimes they didn’t commit. Chelsea’s been the “smart” one, a studious wallflower of a young woman who hooked up with the wrong guy while still in college. No one in the family has liked her boyfriend. It wasn’t until he almost killed her that she escaped the abusive relationship and ran home. But he’s out for revenge. Because if he can’t have her, no will!
This month in my hometown will be the start of a local writer’s group. I’ve worked hard to make that happen and on Wednesday it will become a reality. It’s another drain on my time but being with other creative minds is always a good thing. I’m not exactly certain why, but the energy level always increases around other writers.
I’m also teaching a two-class workshop on dialog this month at the Portsmouth Public Library in Portsmouth, Virginia. And it seems that whenever I teach I always wind up examining my own writing as I prepare the lesson plans. Somehow I’ve got to explain to my students so that they understand. The introspection is probably a good thing as it forces me to put words to things I do automatically. So how do I teach students to watch and listen to people around them?
There is no stereotypical author when it comes to personality types, but I have noticed that the best authors usually are people watchers. They pay attention and notice things. Everyone has quirks. Good authors notice the quirks and assign them to characters in their stories.
So how did I just manage to go from telling you I’m teaching class on dialog to quirks in characters? I was thinking about my own characters dialogs. We don’t just talk. We are almost never still. Are you tapping a finger on your mouse as you read this? And did you just pick up that glass beside you and take a sip? Did you look into the glass? That pesky little fly wasn’t swimming in there was he? What were you expecting to see in there? Do you look at your ice cubes and that strange white pattern that forms inside the cube? Ever look at the way cream mixes with coffee and seems to create a swirl in the cup? Do you notice the condensation as it rolls down the glass – the way it gathers droplets along its path as if attracted by magnetism to it? Do you wonder why children backwash into your drink, but you don’t?
Ah, yes, the minds of writers, and the places they go and maybe shouldn’t. But it’s these places that add to our writing. Your hero didn’t just sip at his hot cider between his bits of dialog. We are not robots with mechanical predictable movements. We talk with inflection and we use our hands, eyes, and facial muscles when we speak. Next time you are in public, watch how people talk. Pay attention to how she plays with her hair. If he’s sitting, what is he doing with his feet? What’s in his hands? Does he use them when he talks? And how does he use them? Men do use their hands differently while talking. Now assign things such as tapping fingers or whatever little quirk that makes each person different to your characters. It’s not he said, she said.
So with two books in some form of edits, plenty of promo to do for my new releases, I should be relaxing, Instead my head has already begun to play with characters for my next historical western that must be ready by Dec.1. That will be the third and probably the last “Loving” novel for a while. Because… I’m going to devote next year to my Diary of Clare Coleman. Furthermore, I can’t keep up this hectic pace. For now, I refuse to add anything beyond my commitment to the Authors of Main Street’s Christmas boxed sets and the diary.