The internet is full of helpful lists of questions to ask a blind date so you can get to know them. But have you ever thought about using these questions to get to know your characters?

After all, you’re about to embark on an intimate journey with this person, much like a dating relationship. You need to know more than just height, build, hair colour and eye colour. Just because they’re not actually real doesn’t mean these aren’t important things to know. And even if you never use these details in your writing, they will inform how you think about your character, resulting in a more multi-faceted picture.

Here are a few questions you could ask on a blind date with your character.



Writing my latest novel, Across the Deep, was a unique experience. While most writing falls neatly under the categories of either non-fiction or fiction, I was turning true, historical records into a novel form.

As you might imagine, this posed significant challenges. Here are a few things I kept in mind as I turned fact into fiction. (Keep reading)

I’m very excited to be able to show you the trailer for my new book, Across the Deep.  What do you think?

If I took a poll of writers, I’d bet the vast majority would say they write because they love to. I’m one of them. Writing is a passion for me, a way of caring for myself and having fun.

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But that’s not everything there is to it.

Now I’m not talking about making money, though if you’re a professional writer this is certainly a necessary evil.

I’m talking about communication. What does communication need? A speaker, a message, and a hearer.

So what I’m saying is you could have an amazing message, and you can shout it out there, but if no one is listening, you haven’t communicated. Your writing isn’t achieving its full potential.

How do we as writers get our message heard?

We need to look at writing as giving. (read more)

If you’re a novelist you’re probably aware that November is Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month). You might even, like me, be participating. 30 days, 50,000 words, 1,000,000 cups of caffeinated beverages…we must be crazy!

But even though Nanowrimo is almost at a close, it does raise an important issue for all writers:word count.

For some lucky writers, word count isn’t at all an issue. But for most of us it can be a struggle some days just getting those words on the page. Here is a little toolbox for helping to get that word count up.

I never cease to be amazed by how Philippa Gregory can turn out book after page-turning book, all based on well-known stories.  Talk about your ultimate spoilers!  And yet knowing the ending only enhances Gregory’s Tudor Court and Cousins’ War novels.

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The latest book in the series is no exception.  Based on the real-life story of Lady Margaret Pole, The King’s Curse is really a bridge between the Cousins’ War series and the Tudor Court.  While Margaret didn’t always have the front row seat that some of the other players already written had, her life is unique in its longevity.  Daughter of the ill-fated York brother George, Duke of Clarence and his wife Isabel Neville, Margaret’s life saw the height of the York reign, the tragedy of the Princes in the Tower, the fall of the Plantagenet dynasty, the rise of the Tudors, and especially the white-knuckle ride of Henry VIII’s rule.

I love how Gregory can take a story even she herself has told often and make it fresh and exciting.  It shows her true talent as a writer.  Margaret’s story is woven with a strong theme of survival at all costs and constantly pits the natural pride she has in her lineage with the necessity to fly under the radar of an increasingly paranoid king.  She never forgets her name, just as she never forgets her brother who lost his life for the sole reason of bearing that name.  It’s a tension Gregory keeps alive through the entire novel.

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Once again Philippa Gregory has penned a fantastic, gripping book that brings history to life.  I can’t wait to see which fascinating historical woman she tackles next.

Just over a month ago I announced that my book, Legacy of Faith, had won the Word Alive Press Publishing Contest and would become published.  Don’t worry, that’s still happening!  But after careful thought, the good people there felt that the title I’ve been using might be too common.  They also thought it sounds more like a memoir, which, though it is a true story, my book isn’t.  

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We talked about a few options, most of which centred on the idea of the ocean.  We’ve decided on Across the Deep, and here’s why:

  • All three of the book’s characters cross the ocean at some significant point.  
  • The ocean can be synonymous with trials, which figure prominently in the book
  • The ocean, in particular walking on it, is also a metaphor for faith
  • The idea of those who have gone on before us waiting on the “farther shore”
  • The nearness of God in trials as described in Psalm 42 – “deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfall” 
  • I’ve been thinking a lot about Hillsong United’s “Oceans” as a theme song for this book, and it’s influenced the choice of this title, too

So from now on, I’ll be referring to Legacy of Faith as Across the Deep, but it’s still the same story, and hopefully this title will get that story out more effectively.  

What are your thoughts?  Do you like the new title?

Seeing as I read this series one after the other, I thought I’d lump them all together and tell you what I thought.  

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I had previously read the Mortal Instruments series and didn’t like it much, so I didn’t have very high expectations of this prequel trilogy.  But I have to say I was pleasantly surprised.  I don’t know if Cassandra Clare has just hit her stride, or if she struck a particularly good story lode here, or if the steampunk touch was all she needed, but Clockwork Angel, Clockwork Prince, and Clockwork Princess captured my imagination and held it.

These three books tell the story of Tessa Gray, an orphaned young woman from New York who travels to London in the 1870s to live with her brother.  When she arrives, her brother is nowhere to be found, sparking a mystery that brings her into the sphere of the shadowhunters and reveals her own true identity.

I liked the characters, especially Tessa and the shadowhunter best friends Will and Jem.  They are deep, interesting, and make the reader genuinely care about their fates.  The story is delightfully twisty, with lots of unexpected departures and some lovely tension that holds till the very end.  

 

All in all, I’d have to recommend this series for lovers of a good fantasy story.  

I have long been a fan of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander books, and this latest in the 8-part and counting series did not disappoint.

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This book continues the epic tale of Claire and Jamie Fraser begun in the first book, Outlander, as well as dozens of added characters picked up along the way like Brianna, Roger, Lord John, William, Jenny, Ian, Rachel, Buck, Fergus, and Marsali, to name a few.  Fans of the series will recognize the usual feast of relational tension, medical drama, mystery, action, and intelligent fantasy that has characterized Diana’s books.

Gabaldon gives readers some excellent plot twists in this book, too.  I don’t want to spoil it, so all I’ll say is the main twist is fantastic!  I didn’t see it coming at all and it really satisfied.  

Like all of her books, My Own Heart’s Blood is a meaty, sink-your-teeth-into kind of book that will get under your skin and stay in your head for a long time after.  And, like the other seven, I plan on reading this one over again.

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There will be more books in the Outlander series, but during the long wait for the next instalment, we can always console ourselves with the perfect new TV adaptation of Outlander.  And apologies if my review gets you hooked.  Consider yourself fairly warned.  

For those of you who like reading time travel romance and prefer shorter, easily digestible stories, my new story Circle Round the Sun is one of six in a new anthology: Twist of Time, from Highland Press.  It is currently out on Kindle and will arrive in print in the next couple of days.  

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Time = the fourth dimension and a measure in which events can be ordered from the past through the present into the future 

But what happens when two of those dimensions collide? 

Six stories of love past and present: from the breathtaking fjords and conquering 
Vikings of Norway to the lush green isles of Ireland and its ever-battling lairds; 
from the white sand dunes and sculptures of Egypt and the vanquishing Roman soldiers to a simpler life in the early USA, including the iconic Route 66. 

Participating authors: Cheryl Alldredge, Jean Adams, Erin E.M. Hatton, Cheryl Norman, Karen Michelle Nutt, and Susan R. Sweet

 

Find the book on Amazon

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