CREATING CONVINCING CHARACTERS

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Learn how well-constructed characters can bring your manuscript to life

A book is lying open on a white background. Butterflies and a red decorative scroll are rising from the pages of the book. This symbolizes how characters come to life in a novel.

Spend some time getting to know your characters. Well-developed characters will bring your book to life.

You’re passionate about fiction writing, and you have all these great characters in your head. The trick is getting them out and onto paper. How does an author create, through word-pictures, flesh-and-blood characters that are three-dimensional—characters that make your reader say, “Oh, yes, I know someone just like that…” Our editors explain the process of creating characters for your novel.

Creating characters with care

Any seasoned writer will tell you that creating characters that are believable takes some work. It’s a little like painting a picture, stroke by stroke. Characters have to be constructed, bit by bit, until the whole, complex individual finally comes into view.

A characteristic mannerism

If you watch a very good actor performing a screenplay, chances are that one of the things you will note is a distinctive mannerism that defines the character. It can be a small thing—a way of glancing in the mirror admiringly at his own image, a way of rubbing her hands together (remember Lady Macbeth?), or maybe a certain way of speaking. It should be a mannerism that expresses the character’s inner being. If you give your character a characteristic mannerism, and use it sparingly but tellingly, that character will take on individuality and stick in the reader’s mind.

A consistent world view

When you are creating characters, you should know all about them, even if you don’t actually express every detail in the story. What does your character like to eat for breakfast? What is his favorite color? Who is his best friend, and his worst enemy? Even if these details don’t play into your plot, you, as the creator, should know them by heart, and they’ll give your character new dimensions, even if they’re not expressed. Sometimes the best approach to creating characters is through a character sketch, so you can lay out exactly what you want your character to be like from the get-go.

An inner life

All right, so your character likes to wear Armani and drink lattes and hustle ladies in singles bars. What’s going on inside his head? Does he have an inner life? You, as the author, need to express his thoughts, his way of looking at things, his inner conflicts. You can do this through dialogue with another character, or you can simply show the character’s thoughts to the reader through his own inner dialogue. When you go into a character’s thoughts, you deepen him, and he becomes more real.

A base in reality

A character also seems more real if he is based in reality. In other words, the old writer’s dictum—”Write what you know”—extends to characters. You should focus on creating characters you know. Try basing your characters on real people you have observed, or even a pastiche of people. The characters will seem more real, and you will have a wealth of material to draw on.

A few last words of advice

Do your homework! You may have to research your character, especially if you give her a particular profession or a context that requires some special knowledge. She’s a scuba diver? Then you’d better know everything you can about scuba diving. In this regard, sometimes it’s best to figure out how your character fits in with your plot structure. And, learn from the greats. A good writer is a good reader. Take a look at how the greats wrote their characters. Go back to Shakespeare’s Falstaff or Chaucer’s Wife of Bath or any more recent character in the hands of a great writer. Study how they do it. Finally, practice your strokes. You will see the results as your own characters take on more depth and dimension.

Creating characters takes plenty of time, effort, and editing. If you’re having trouble developing the personalities in your novel, don’t hesitate to send your document to our manuscript editors for their input.

Excerpt taken from: https://www.scribendi.com/advice/creating_believable_characters.en.html

 

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INTERVIEW WITH ROB SMALES, AUTHOR OF PHOTO FINISH

Ghost Is the machine Rob Smales

Hello, this is L.M. David interviewing Rob Smales, author of  Photo Finish, which was included in an anthology book, The Ghost IS The Machine. Before we begin, I would like to say the resident vampire has been absent for a week. I think he has finally moved on. Then again, I said that before only to discover he’d paid a witch to conjure the ghost of Attila the Hun and ordered him to destroy this building … exorcisms are so expensive.

Anyway, let’s welcome Rob to the hot seat.

Q.  First, let’s get into some background information about you.

A. Well, I graduated with a degree in English back in 1994. Then a lot of stuff happened. I started a story called “Dating Disaster” which was the first thing I ever wrote with the intention of sharing it with the world. So far I’ve shared it with a very few friends. After that more stuff happened, but I was writing it down. Which brings us to right about now.

Q. And when did you first get the itch to write?

A.  I have always been a bit of a storyteller. I was the guy who, when friends saw me, would almost always be asked “So, Rob, how was your day?” That was all it took to set me off and running. Two hours later I would wind down, out of breath and tired, surrounded by friends who had just gotten 120 minutes of entertainment simply from asking me a question and sitting back to watch the answer.

I’m a bit of a night owl, and aside from writing, I also fish. I used to fish a lot. My uncle made the mistake of asking me about a specific fishing story of mine he’d heard of, though he’d never heard the actual story. So I told him. I gave him the entire story, step-by-step, reel specifics, weights, lengths, just everything. And the poor man doesn’t even fish.

He loved it.

It was he who suggested, quite strongly, that I start writing these stories of mine down. I gave it a try — and I was hooked.

Pun intended.

Q.  Has any of your short stories been taken from a real life experience? And if so, which?

A. Directly from my experience? Well, the one I mentioned above ”The Accidental Bass” was the easiest one to point to. That was taken straight from life …with a little exaggeration for entertainment purposes, of course. It is a fish story after all. And I have a blog that is almost entirely stories about my life and what happens to me on a day-to-day basis. I have a flash fiction titled “Keepsakes” that is based on every little cramped antique or second-hand shop that I or anyone else has ever been in. Well, that and the Weekly World News.

“A Day in the Park”, which will be based on the time my son (he was 4 or five at the time) wandered away and was on his own in an amusement park for about a half-hour. My story will actually have him abducted, but I’ll be trying to capture that helpless feeling when I realized he was gone and there was nothing I could do about it, and build on it. I recently wrote and am now in the process of editing a sci-fi short entitled “You’ve Got Mail”, based on all the customers I have ( I am a mailman in Real Life) asking how they can stop getting junk mail.

Q.  What is the funniest thing that has happened while you were writing?

A.  Hmm… I’m not sure. I’ve been hounded by a woman who wanted to buy me a book on grammar… I’ve written a story that mentions a mailman and been told “That doesn’t work, mailmen don’t talk like that, they don’t act like that”, which left me scratching my head since I’ve been a mailman for about eighteen years, so I kind of think I’d know…

I’ve written a fairly gory story with some seriously adult language (hey, people talk the way they talk, right?) and then watched as my grandmother picked up the book it was published in and started reading it in my mother’s kitchen. You want to talk about ‘uncomfortable’?…

Q.  Most of your work is short stories. Will you ever attempt to write a full length novel?

Yes. Next question.

Okay, that was tempting, but I can’t leave it at that. For my first NaNoWriMo I wrote 76,000 words of a novel, but then set it aside. Now, two years later, I look at it as a great start and a whole bunch of material for a novel, and I even know how to fix it… but now lack the time.

Second NaNoWriMo: finished a 148,000 word first draft novel called “Home Grown”. It needs work and editing. I’ll get to it — I have a hard copy I pull out from time to time. At the moment, however, I’m working on: Seasons of the Dead – a series of collections I’m putting together of seasonal ghost stories, four books, one for each season, each with three stories, one for each month.

The list goes on and one… but you only asked one simple question, so I should really give you one simple answer.

Will I ever attempt a full-length novel? Oh, God yes!

Q.  Since we are acquainted through writers.com Prose 3 writing group, I know first-hand you are an excellent writer but have yet I have yet to figure out what genre you favor. What is it and why?

A.  Apparently I favor Horror, but I’m not certain why. I have written a Science Fiction series for my son, and the first story I ever wrote as an adult was a romantic comedy. I have ideas for a few YA stories of novella to novel size. Most of the stories I’ve had published so far are Horror, though, I seem to favor the nice, dry, suspenseful ghost story.

Or Vampire story.

Or Zombie story.

Or…

Q.  How many of your stories have been published? Can you name them?

My published stories thus far:

1.Accidental Bass, the –- The Hunting and Fishing Blog — August, 2010

2.Playmate Wanted –- Dark Moon Digest #5 (quarterly, print), Dark Moon Books — October, 2011

3.Gotcha –- Bewildering Stories (E-zine) — October, 2011

4.Modern Problem -– Frightmares: A Fistful of Horror (anthology, print) -– Dark Moon Books — November, 2011

5.Red Lady’s Story –- Blood and Lullabies #2 (E-zine) — March, 2012

6.It’s Not What You Think –- Dark Eclipse #11, Dark Moon Books — April, 2012

7.Finders Keepers –- Dark Eclipse #12 (E-zine), Dark Moon Books — May, 2012

8.Justice –- Scarlet Whispers (anthology, print), Scarlett River Press — May, 2012

9.Let Them Eat Cake –- (Reader’s Choice winner) Dark Media (E-Zine) June, 2012

10.Photo Finish –- The Ghost Is The Machine* (anthology, print)–- Post Mortem Press — July 2012

11.Tribe — (Reader’s Choice winner) Dark Media (E-zine) — August 2012

12.Good Fences Make Good Neighbors — (Reader’s Choice winner) Dark Media (E-zine) — August 2012

13.All the Little Children — (Readers Choice Winner) Dark Media (E-zine) — August 2012

14.Mutes –- Dangers Untold (anthology), The Horror Society — August, 2012

15.Fishing Buddy –- Checkin’ it Twice (anthology), LDS Publishing — November, 2012

16.Bedtime Story — Rigorous Mortis (anthology, print) — Scarlett River Press — February, 2013 17.Finders Keepers (Reprint) – The Best of Dark Eclipse (Special Issue E-book) — Dark Moon Books — February, 2013

18.Maxwell’s Silver Hammer – Zombies Need Love Too (anthology, print) — Dark Moon Books – February, 2013

I also have a few stories that have been accepted but the projects have not come out yet, as well as a few that have been submitted and I’ve not gotten a rejec— I mean a response yet.

Q.  Wow, I’m speechless. And topping everything you recently won an award for writing. Congratulations! What was the name of the story and what award were you given?

A.  It was for “Photo Finish”, which I wrote it for Post Mortem Press’s “The Ghost IS The Machine” anthology. Every year the Predators & Editors website runs a Readers Poll with multiple categories. “Ghost IS” won in the Best Anthology 2012 category, and “Photo Finish” won Best Horror Short 2012. You could say I was happy with this story. You would be understating the case, but you could say that.

Q.  Where do you get your inspiration from?

A.  I have no idea. Different places. One I remember came from hearing a radio commercial. Ideas generally come to me while I’m walking, so I guess as a mailman I have exactly the right job!

Q.  How long does it take you to write a short story, start to finish?

A.  Oh, that varies greatly and depends on quite a few factors. I’ve written stories that were less than 1,000 words in about a half-hour or so. But then I’ve had 5,000 – 7,000 word stories that took me the better part of a month.

Q.  What is your favorite story that you’ve written and what was it about?

A.  My favorite story is usually the one I’m working on at the time. That’s why I’m writing it: I love it. Or, sometimes, it’s the one I’ve just gone back to read after leaving a it alone for a while. I remember once bringing a novella manuscript with me on a flight thinking I would edit it on the plane. When my friend picked me up at Denver International, I had to tell her “I was enjoying it too much I forgot to edit the damn thing!”

A personal favorite, though? That’s a tough one. Speaking in a strictly successful sense I’d have to say “Photo Finish” (a haunted camera), simply because it won an award, nominated for another one, and actually made me some money.

Q.  What genre has been the hardest for you to write so far?

A.  Genre? None. I’ve had things that I had a hard time writing, but I think it was the individual story I had trouble with, not the genre. Usually my difficulties stem from my characters wandering off the loose script I have in mind when I start the project and go in a direction that isn’t helpful at all to me. That’s nothing to do with genre, that’s the people in my head not doing what they’re told. Thank God they don’t have a union! Oh, crap, did I say that out loud? Oh, damn…

Q.   In the anthology, The Ghost IS the Machine, your story involved a young boy who bought a camera at a pawn shop that was a bit more than he bargained for. What inspired you to write that one?

A.  Okay, a while ago I gave myself a little project to work on in my ‘off-time’ (can you hear the laughter in my voice? ‘Off-time? What’s that?). I’m writing a series of ghost story collections as I mentioned. One I love about ghost stories is they they’re so versatile. I was trying to think of different ways to have a ghost manifest and at the time I had just read Stephen King’s collection “Just After Sunset”, which contains his story “N.” In “N” the protagonist runs across the problem of things in this world that he cannot see with the naked eye, but can see through the viewfinder of his camera. That caused a thought to pop into my head: “What if there was a ghost that would only show up on the film of this one specific camera

Wham. A story was born!

Q.  How did you feel when you found out your story would be included in a book with the author Joe Hill, son of the famous author Stephen King?

A.  Well, my reaction was mixed. I’m a King fan from way back. My mother is a King fan, so while I was growing up his books were always around the house. Shortly before I saw the submission call from Post Mortem Press for their “The Ghost IS The Machine” anthology I was doing a little … uh… I’ll call it ‘research’. That’s what I call it when I just noodle around on the internet and don’t really accomplish anything. Research.

Remember that, future writers of the World: it’s not “wasting time”, it’s “research”.

So there I was, wasting time on the internet, and decided to see if there was anything of King’s I’d not read. I looked his older stuff and I found “Four Past Midnight”. One story I did not remember reading was “The Sun Dog”.

Rough plot description of “The Sun Dog”: A fifteen year-old boy gets a Polaroid Sun camera, but no matter what he takes a picture of all he gets is a photo of a dog. A dog that is getting closer with every shot.

Rough plot description of “Photo Finish”: A fourteen year-old boy gets a second hand Polaroid One-Step camera, but no matter what he takes a picture of there is a man somewhere in the scene. A man who is getting closer with every shot.

Coincidence? God, I hoped so. I then saw the submission call from Post Mortem Press, asking for stories about haunted machines and things. Perfect, I thought. I have the story for this in mind, and I’ve been meaning to write it so I can read that King story, so…

Then I saw Joe Hill would a contributing authors. I panicked. What if I had unconsciously ripped off his dad, Stephen King? He’d know, right? It wasn’t until after I’d sent it off that someone pointed something out to me. So Joe Hill’s going to be in that book? they said. That’s his kid in that book. You don’t think the book’s not going to wind up on Stephen King’s shelf?

That’s awesome, I thought. I might wind up in a book on Stephen King’s shelf!

Q.  Are there any more projects like the Ghost IS the Machine in your future?

A.  God I hope so. I’d had my eye on Post Mortem Press for a while before I saw their submission call, and I like the stable of writers they’ve already handled. They seemed, from the outside, to be a quality organization.

Q.  What advice do you have for other writers still struggling to get their work out into the publishing world?

A.  Write. Write a lot. If you are striving for publication pay attention to any rejection letters you get, and don’t take them to heart. Treat each one as a critique and see what you can learn from them. Taking writing courses is great, and they can be a huge help, just as critique circles and writing groups can, but sometimes the focus is a little different, especially if you’re submitting for someone else’s project. I can only speak to the publishing of short stories (so far) but I can tell you that not only are they looking for good, compelling stories told in an engaging way, and not only are they looking for good, clean, skillful writing, but they are looking for all those things in the most concise form possible.

Did I mention they should write a lot?

L.M. David: Well that concludes this interview. Thanks again for taking time out of your schedule to chat with me.

Author’s Bio:

Rob Smales spends quite a bit of time coaxing words into a line; any words in that line that don’t work well with the others are taken out and shot as examples to the rest. In 2012 he managed to both win the Predators &Editors award for Best Short Horror Story and find himself nominated for a Pushcart Prize, making him one of the best new writers you’ve never heard of.

Author Links:

www.facebook.com/Robert.T.Smales.

http://robsmales.webs.com/wheretofindme.htm#.UTFC3TA3v9U

The anthology is available at Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords.com

Blurb: Excerpt from “Photo Finish“, in the “The Ghost IS The Machine Anthology” from Post Mortem Press.

They were at the playground on the edge of their neighborhood waiting for a picture to develop, when Frank asked, “Who’s that?”

Billy looked from the developing square in his hand to the picture Frank held: Frank spinning on the merry-go-round. The old film had turned the bright red disk of the merry-go-round a dark, reddish-brown that reminded Billy of dried blood. Frank was moving too fast for the camera as he went by, a streaky, Frank-shaped blur trailing color behind it like the tail of a comet. He was leaning out toward the camera, and his face had lost almost all definition, though you could see the twin dark spots of his eyes, holes in his head bleeding darkness back into the comet’s tail. Beneath those holes was a larger one, dark and wide with white teeth streaking into the blur.

Frank had been laughing on merry-go-round, but in the distorted photo, it looked like a long, terrible scream made by something no longer human, the thing’s waving arm transformed into a hand thrust forth in supplication. It gave Billy a chill despite the end-of-summer warmth.

But Frank wasn’t pointing to the hellish image of himself. His fingernail was tapping a point in the image above and behind him, just beyond the far side of the playground.

There, in the expanse of grass between the street and the wood-chip-covered playground proper, small in the distance, was the figure of a man. Distinctly human-shaped but blurred, the figure strode toward them, one arm extended. His clothing was dark, and he either wore a hat or had dark hair worn loose and wild; it was hard to tell with the distance and distortion. His skin had taken on the sepia tone of the background sky, with no visible features to his face, though his posture gave him a sense of urgency.

“Well?”

Billy looked around at the playground and surrounding park and shrugged. He saw no one, had seen no one. They had arrived at the park at dinnertime and had had the place to themselves.

“I dunno,” Billy said. “Maybe he just went by quick and we missed him.”

“Holy crap!”

Billy looked at his friend and saw that while he was examining the photo in Frank’s hand, Frank was pointing at the one Billy held, eyes round. He held up the picture and saw it had finished developing. In it, Billy hung upside down from the horizontal ladder, holding on to one of the rungs with crooked knees, arms flapping toward the ground, his t-shirt riding up to expose his belly button. Past upside-down Billy and his upside-down smile was the man again.

Closer this time, he was about to step onto the wood chips of the playground, just past the spring-mounted Three Little Pigs that the younger kids rode like hobby horses. With more clarity than in the previous photo, Billy could make out the man’s long dark overcoat billowing behind him as he moved. He was hatless, his medium-length hair unkempt. Billy looked at Frank, who was already staring at him.

“So much for ‘just went by quick,’” Frank said, then looked around the playground again. “I took that picture a couple of minutes after you took this one of me. Dude, I was looking. I didn’t see anyone.”

INTERVIEW WITH JOHN EVANS, AUTHOR OF WATER LIKE STONE

JohnEvansWaterLikeStoneBookCover JohnEvans

Hello, L.M. David here. Today, I am interviewing John Evans, author of Water like Stone. Before we get started, I have to tell you that John arrived in a racing car. He encountered Preston in the hall and tossed him the keys. I’ve never seen Preston smile, at least it looked like one on the surveillance tape. After the vampire left, we conducted this interview without a problem. Not long afterwards, I received an irate call from the building manager. Apparently, while we were in here conducting this interview, Preston was outside performing donuts in the parking lot. Does anyone know how to get black rubber marks off of concrete?

Okay, let’s get to the interview.

Q.  Welcome to my spot on the wall, John. Let’s start with you telling me little bit about yourself.

A.  Well, I love dogs and flowers and I’ve never been a couch potato.  I love antique aircraft and race cars and pretty music.  I have always had a great curiosity, from childhood to the present.  I wanted to know how things worked, why something was done the way it was, what is on the other side of the hill, how did that rock form, how does an airplane fly?  Although I had close childhood friends, for the most part I have been a loner. I’m always trying to improve myself, mentally, physically and spiritually.  It is my belief that each individual and mankind as a whole should endeavor to attain their highest level of function.  I don’t fit into any box politically although I am vehemently anti-republican and not so hot on democrats either.  The nature of running for and maintaining public office has evidently worked as an evolutionary selection process and we now have the best liars and the least capable running the nation.  With the wondrous technology available today in medicine, food production, education, manufacturing, and communications, this nation could be a Garden of Eden and helping the world to attain the same.  Instead we argue endlessly about taxes, same sex marriages and carrying knives on airliners.  Whew!  Sorry about the rant but it does say something about my nature.

Q. No problem. Now your book, Water Like Stone, is written as a narrative of Ian Cannasy. Why use that style to do this book in?

A.  Much of Water Like Stone is the story of Osa Hensley, a young woman.  As an old man, I did not feel qualified to write an honest third person omniscient or first person version of her story but I did feel qualified to write a narrative by a middle aged man.

Q.  What is the character Ian Cannasy like?

A.  Ian is a pragmatic idealist, a competent pilot and business man and a loner.  Despite protestations otherwise he is still reticent due to the death of his fiancé a decade ago.  He is kind, sensitive, candid and decisive.

Q.  Osa Hensley, is the love interest. Tell me a bit about her.

A.  She is very much a soul mate to Ian and a match in the good character traits mentioned above but 20 years younger.  Her adventurous spirit is much the same as that possessed by her namesake, Osa Johnson, a real life character.  Her childhood was filled with books and research but it was light on the social aspects a normal American young woman experiences.  She is not unfriendly but has few close friends and is devoted to her career of archeology and is a recognized expert in reading the old scripts.

Q.  Water Like Stone sounds like an intriguing novel. How did you come up with the idea behind it?

A.  I came up with the idea so long ago I have forgotten how it came about.  I wrote a few pages at the time, it was titled The Find then and was about this young woman who makes a fabulous archeological find but credit for it is stolen by her supposed mentor.  I came back to it last year after it had rattled around in my brain for perhaps 10 years and the story wrote itself much as my other novels.  The title refers to how the ancient Egyptians might have written ice into a description, in this case a mountain where they encountered ice.  They did not have a glyph for ice although they are known to have encountered snow and ice on northern expeditions.

Q.  How much research did you do before writing this book?

A.  A lot and it was very enlightening.  I had no idea how advanced the Egyptians were in some aspects of science, medicine and math.  They knew the earth was round and had longitude and latitude.  That knowledge was lost during the dark ages and had to be re-invented.  In the field of medicine they practiced a number of surgeries and used maggots to clean rotten flesh from wounds.  Their religious beliefs and form of governance extracted a huge toll from their society which explains to some extent their many rises and falls over the 3000 year period they were dominant.

Q.  There are references to Tuthmosis III.  What is known about this ancient ruler?

A.  Much is known about him down to the names of the officers of his court and some Egyptologists argue he was the greatest of all the pharaohs.  He re-united the north and south of Egypt and led armies into Mesopotamia and traveled well outside the current day Egyptian border.  The latter is one of the reasons I chose him to have built a memorial a thousand miles from Egypt near a mountain with water like stone.

Q.  I’m guessing Dohclus is the evil plotting male who is out to destroy Osa.  Tell me about his character.

A.  Dohclus is really not evil nor did he start out plotting to destroy Osa.  He is more a sad, declining man without the skills to maintain his status in archeology and initially hopes to use Osa’s abilities for his own benefit.  Later, he finds Osa a handy scapegoat for his mistake of lying to the Egyptians.  He is of course spineless and jealous of Osa’s ability.

Q.  Have you been to Africa? Or Egypt?

A.  Yes but only if Morocco counts, no to Egypt.

Q.  I read in your bio that it’s a running joke that you were raised by wolves. Can you tell me a bit more about that?

A.  That partially came from the primitive conditions in which I grew up; no running water, no indoor toilet, wood and coal stoves, etc., and from the behavior of the aunt and uncle that raised me.  After my wife met my aunt, she declared I was raised by wolves.

Q.  You traveled a lot as a youth. Why did you move around so much?

A.  Curiosity?  One did not experience much of the world in a small (population 1800) Iowa town.  From the books I read I knew there was a lot of world out there and I wanted to see it.  I’ve traveled much of the world and still at it.  I have a trip planned this summer to Eastern Europe.  Over the years I found some places I would rather have retired to than Reno, Nevada, like southern France.  In the 70s I tried to get my wife to move to New Zealand, a beautiful land with kind spirited people.

Q.  You retired in 1998 and are now racing cars? How did you get interested in that?

A.  I’m not sure what started it but when I was about 12 a friend had a kind of homemade go-cart that his dad built and a big half mile dirt track.  I liked sliding the thing around the track so much I would have sold my soul to the devil to do it every day.  As soon as I got my driver’s license I immediately started racing around the local winding rural roads.  This is no role model to follow but I had 20 traffic violations by the age of 21.  Eventually I discovered organized racing like hill climbs and autocrosses and TSD road rallies which then were really illegal cross country road races.  I did not do much of it in the 70s and 80s but started it up again in the late 90s, by then able to afford cars I could only dream of when I was younger.  My ex-wife also liked auto-crossing and became a formidable driver, winning regional and national awards.

Q.  If you had one thing to do over in your life, what would that be?

A.  Wow!  That is kind of personal.  I did a number of things I regret and failed to do things I regret not doing but we don’t get mulligans in life.  I guess I could name one general thing.  While it was never my intent to be so, I was an oblivious jerk for at least half my life.  I wish I had possessed the wisdom to have been otherwise.  On a lighter side I wish I had piloted more antique aircraft.

Q.  You did not get serious about writing until 1985. Was Water Like Stone one of the first projects you tackled?

A.  No, my first novel was based on real events and real people and I wish I had had the foresight to avoid that pitfall because it did not help me as a fiction writer.  I did not realize the importance of the reader fully understanding the motivation of a character.  In my first novel I had characters do what they actually did without providing sufficient motivation to the reader.  Reviewers have commented on how surprised they were when so and so did something that was unexpected.

Q.   Are you currently working on a sequel to Water like Stone? If not, what are you working on now?

A.  I have started a sequel to Water Like Stone although I may simply add it to the existing book and just make it equal in size to many contemporary novels.  Water Like Stone is currently 271 pages in paperback.  A reviewer on the B&N site commented that the only thing she did not like about the story was its length and that it should have been 600 pages.

I am currently stalled on the rewrite of a Catch-22 like corporate satire I completed in the late 80s but eventually the motivation will come around or I will get excited about something I am not even thinking of today.  I am occasionally adding to a post-apocalypse story based on the world I created in the preteen adventure, Kelin’s Journey, but 300 years later.

Q.  Why did you choose to self-publish?

A.  Rejection, rejection, rejection and rightly so for my first and second novels.  While the stories were good, the writing stunk.  An agent talked about a movie for my third novel but it turned out to be bogus.  After that disappointment, I have not submitted to a traditional agent or publisher.  Self-publishing used to be very expensive and disparaged in the literary world, even getting tagged as vanity press, meant only for the vain.  After reading perhaps 500 novels I came to the conclusion that I can recognize a good story and good writing.  That conviction and the wonderful staff at Booksurge and later Createspace gave me the opportunity to publish.

Q.  What would you tell a writer who is struggling to get out into the world of publishing?

A.  It depends upon the individual.  If they just want published by a traditional publisher, they should write something so topical a publisher will jump on it regardless of the quality which happens too often today.  Or they can cultivate a personal connection to an agent or publisher.  Or they can keep writing until they have written something so good it will be recognized on its own but they should not quit their day job.  I can’t guarantee the latter option will work today.  If they want to compare their writing to some good contemporary writing, read the first chapter of The Hunger Games.  Now write the whole story with that quality.

If they are writing for creative expression, they must not depend solely upon outside validation.  Outside validation is wondrous but I have motivated myself to write nine novels with only pitiful royalties and only a dozen or so reviews that are truly meaningful.

And finally, always remember every reader does not like the same thing as another.  A few days ago on a discussion group, a reader said she hated the J.R.R. Tolkien stories!

L.M. David: Well that concludes this. Best Wishes on the success of your book. In the meantime, I am off to Home Depot to get something to remove those tire marks in the parking lot.

Author Bio:

A running joke in my family is that I was raised by wolves. In fact I was raised by an aunt and uncle. The home in which I grew up was originally built around 1870 as a barn and converted into a house well before indoor plumbing was standard. I was the kind of kid that read encyclopedias like novels and built catapults, telephone systems, radios and flying model airplanes and rockets from scratch.

In the 1960s I worked as farm labor, auto mechanic, produce manager, butcher and railroad blacksmith and with the very early room filling computers. Around the age of 20 I began searching for the meaning of life.

In 1965 I started working on a pilot’s license and began taking college courses for computers, personnel management, banking and writing that took me to a dozen universities over the following 40 years.  I have continued my education even after retirement, accruing 42 college credits after I turned 45

Although I wrote short stories in my twenties and later wrote technical manuals for computer processes, I did not start writing fiction in earnest until 1985. In 1998 I retired from consulting and now race cars, write and play poker, golf and the stock market in Reno, Nevada.

Author Links:

www.amazon.com/John-L-Evans/e/B002QWDHEG/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1363842112&sr=8-1

INTERVIEW WITH MINDY LARSON, AUTHOR OF THIS MORNING I WOKE UP DEAD

Mindy Larason BookCoverPreview mindy larson photo

This is L.M. David and today, I will be interviewing Mindy Larson, author of This Morning I Woke Up Dead. Hello Mindy, thank you for agreeing to come to my little spot on the planet to do this interview. For those who have been following the saga of Preston, our undead nuisance, we finally managed to get him out of the building, boarded up every entrance to prevent his return. When I arrived to do this interview, there was a message on my computer that said “you forgot the air ducts”. Now, it’s a matter of time before he makes his physical presence known…

While it’s still peaceful here, let’s start the interview.

Q. Mindy, tell me about yourself.

A. I love to write! So much so that I don’t even consider it a job. It’s just what I do and who I am. When I’m not writing, I’m taking care of my kids and house, reading, at the gym, enjoying the outdoors, cooking a meal with my love, or traveling and exploring new places.

Q. Your book, This Morning I Woke Up Dead, has an interesting premise. How did you come up with it?

A. I am spiritual but not religious. The title, This Morning I Woke Up Dead, came to me first and I ran with it from there. What truly happens after we pass is one of the only questions that no one is 100% certain of. I wanted to explore some alternative options of what could happen. Also, I am a romantic at heart and a sucker for great love stories. What’s more romantic than a love with such intensity that it survives death?

Q.  That’s a good point. Tell me about the character Hadley Christensen.

A.  Hadley once spent her days working at a retirement home and caring for the elderly. She now spends her time between reaching out to Dominic, and as a spirit guide for the Unknowns. Hadley is the keeper of truths, which means that she encourages her charges to speak only the truth. Subtly Hadley guides them by whispering inspirational messages. Fueled by a strong desire to be with her beloved, she makes desperate attempts to get in contact with her soul mate. Sadly, she is mostly unsuccessful and her temper rises as does her frustration and rebellious streak.

Q.  The character Dominic Morris, tell me about him.

A.  When we first meet Dominic he is in a major depression. He’s full of angst and moodiness as he attempts to get by and ‘live’ without his other half but Dominic’s broken heart makes it impossible to do so. He sees her. Hears her. And quite frankly, it causes him to feel as if he is on the near brink of madness. Being a realist doesn’t help him to believe. In fact, it only furthers him from the truth. It doesn’t help that he has trouble seeing things other than what is in black and white and right in front of his face. This way of thinking helps him to be a good doctor. He could be a great doctor, he but isn’t able to find the focus or desire to be anything without his love, Hadley.

Q.  In your book, everyone is dead. Why?

A.  Again I found it very interesting to explore the unique possibilities of what the afterlife existence may consist of. In my novel, the characters realize things as they are, that they are dead, when they’re enlightened, doing what they love, are grateful, and not to sound cliche, but they’re ‘living the life’. How interesting would it be if we are already dead? It got me to stop and think about a few things. The terms ‘live like your dying’, or ‘live everyday like it’s your last’ suddenly take on new meanings.

Q.  Hadley goes to another realm, separated from Dominic. What do these souls do to fine each other again?

A.   Throughout the novel, Hadley has a strong desire to go to Dominic. She follows him around their apartment, and while he is working. She even does his laundry! Soon, she finds that when he is at his most vulnerable, asleep at night, that he is more aware of her and of the other realm. It’s unfortunate that Dominic goes back and forth as to whether or not he believes that he is seeing and hearing Hadley or that he is just going insane due to his misery without Hadley. When he is at loss as how to proceed he takes desperate measures and pays a visit to a psychic in attempt to get answers. Sadly he leaves with more questions than answers.

Q.  Is there a sequel to This Morning I Woke Up Dead?

A.   Yes, I am working on a follow up novel to This Morning I Woke Up Dead, entitled Thirteen Choices. It, too, takes place in the afterlife and, of course, centers around a love story. But different than my first novel, everyone is aware of the situation and are dead. We watch as they exist and make their way about their new existence.

Q.  What was your favorite part in This Morning I Woke Up Dead?

A.  My favorite part of the novel was when Dominic takes his niece Ruby, and his sister/best friend Emerson to Disneyland. Both of them have suffered a loss of a loved one and they really just needed to get away and let loose. Dominic even changes his name for the day, and creates an alter ego. For the day he is able to truly let go of his pain and the heaviness that is him and enjoy life again.

Q.  What was the hardest part when writing This Morning I Woke Up Dead?

A.  The hardest part of writing This Morning I Woke Up Dead was the heartbreak. Literally I ached for them to be together and end their pain. I found myself depressed at times and at a loss as how to proceed with the story.  Dominic and Hadley encouraged me to believe and kept me going, hopefully to give them the happy ending they deserve. The ending we all deserve.

Q.  You are also the author of children’s books. Please, name a few.

A.  The kid’s books I wrote are entitled, For the Love of Socks, Another New Outfit, and Never Enough Time. I have a few ideas for new ones. They will be called, Mr. Ned Recycles, and Zooey Goes Missing. I am really having a blast writing my novels though and I am honestly not sure when I’ll get them.

Q.  You self-published This Morning I Woke Up Dead. Why?

A.  The main reason I self-published was to get it out there faster, I believe in my novel, I believe in me.

Q.  What age group would This Morning I Woke Up Dead appeal to?

A.  I feel that ‘This Morning’ will appeal to all ages! Who hasn’t wondered about life after death? But given the tender love story involved most likely females ages sixteen to twenty five age will be more drawn to it than anyone else.

Q.  If your book were being made into a movie, who would you want to play the lead role?

A.  As for the movie, I’ve always felt that Jennifer Lawrence would be perfect as Hadley Christensen, and Ian Somerhalder as Dominic Morris.

Q.  What advice would you give writers struggling to get published?

A.  Keep doing what you love, just believe in yourself and your goals and you’re half way there.

L.M. David: Okay, I think that does it. Thank you again for stopping Mindy. I wish you success!

Author Bio:

Mindy Rae Boyer Larson was born in 1977 in Provo, Utah. She is the eldest of four children and only daughter. The family moved to the salt lake county in the early eighties when her father got a job at the USPS.

With a very vivid imagination storytelling came only natural, often she entertained her younger brothers with evening story tales. Her strong passion for reading books as well as a desire to write her own fairy tales, led her write her first book at the tender age of seven. It remains locked up in a box for safe keeping.

At the age of fourteen she baffled her classmates when she looked forward to her honors English homework, rather than heading off to the movies or to canyons with the rest of them. Mindy often completed twenty page book reports on the day they were assigned and rarely got less than A’s on her writing assignments.

She has written handfuls of kids books, short stories, and many other works. This Morning I Woke Up Dead, is her first published novel. She has big plans to publish numerous more and to never stop writing.

When Mindy isn’t writing, she is looking after her four kids, cats, and dog. Being a passionate person, her other favorite pastimes include; working out, cooking, baking, traveling and exploring all across the land often looking for treasures at her various favorites shops.

After a long search, she has finally found her true love and lives happily ever after in South East Idaho with her four kids, two girls and two boys, and the love of her life.

Book Blurb:

Things are seemingly perfect for Hadley Christensen and Dominic Morris. They’re engaged, both of them have promising careers in the medical field, and they’re happier and more fulfilled than they have ever been. When Hadley heads off to work one morning, she realizes things aren’t as they seem. While staring into the headlights of a fast approaching oncoming vehicle, life as she knows it is forever altered. Her last breath on Earth is only the beginning.

She isn’t about to die.

She is already dead.

No one else knows but they are all dead too.

This powerful realization forces Hadley to leave Dominic behind and exist in another realm. Neither soul handles the painful separation well, nor can their bond be broken. Even in death. Hadley is given the rare privilege to make contact from the other side, desperately hoping to convince her beloved of his true state and ensure they be together once more.

This Morning I Woke Up Dead takes you on a journey of discovery as two souls fight against their undeniably difficult situation of being tormented and separated by different realms of existence, proving that those who are destined to be together will not be kept apart by a beating heart.

Author Links:

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6999086.Mindy_Larson

http://www.amazon.com/This-morning-woke-Mindy-Larson/dp/1480127973/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1363811226&sr=8-1&keywords=this+morning+i+woke+up+dead

http://thismorningiwokeupdead.blogspot.com

https://www.facebook.com/ThisMorningIWokeUpDead?ref=hl