Guest Post: Brianna West on Character Development

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Joining us today for a humour packed guest post on the importance of character develoment is the wonderfully talented author, Brianna West.


The Joys of Authorhood: Raising Fully Developed Characters

Hello all aspiring and current authors desperate to figure out how to fully raise your characters into complex, well-developed, functioning-in-plot characters! I’ve come here because I was once like you: scared, unsure, slightly crazier than normal people and talking to all the voices in my head. The characters whose names you need to figure out, whose personalities aren’t complex enough, aren’t realistic enough to be featured in your current or maybe not even your future work.

Don’t be discouraged! I’ve come to give you my experience with how to raise fully functioning, story-ready characters and how to develop them over the course of your work in progress.

First things first, whether you plot your story out, outlining every detail, or you just write where your characters lead you, guiding when need be, characters that aren’t fully developed can sometimes cause a story not to feel real or read as well as one that has characters fully realized.

  1. Aw, he’s got your morbid sense of humor—get to know what their personality is. This is something I tend to do when I’m “imagining” how I want interactions to go. Whether or not the two characters would fit together with certain aspects of their personality. It’s a good time to figure out what characteristics you might want from them. Are they quirky, broody, moody, playful, quiet, and so on so forth. It’s important to get to know them and figure out where their personality needs improvement or adjustment.
  2. Playdates are fun until someone’s kid gets killed—there’s been a time or two where I’ve been unable to fully grasp an interaction between two, mostly because I haven’t really written them before or it’s been a while. So, giving them a test run in a small written interaction might help tighten up some of the aspects you were hoping to achieve or where they could change when dealing with other characters.
  3. Scarred for life—backstory is something you can get away with not knowing much of to begin with, having it develop over the course of a story and getting to know their history as the story unfolds. But it’s a good idea to have some sort of idea where you want your character to have come from, even if just that their daddy was a drunk and their mommy a drug-dealer.
  4. Growing up sucks, but it’s great for plot—the most important is the growing and changing of a character over the course of a story or series. Seeing them change as it goes along, reacting and transforming due to encounters, other characters etc., it gives the reader a sense of knowing them and real-time movement that builds a relationship with the readers that all the above doesn’t build in such an intense way.

These are just a few things to think about when dealing with character development, but in the course of my authorhood, the most important. Hopefully these help you raise well-developed, happy characters and not angry, superficial serial killer characters that spend their life blaming their author (unless that’s what you were going for).

Happy Writing!

Brianna West.


71zctz9tEAL._UX250_.jpgBrianna West lives in beautiful Northern California with her wonderful husband and four adorable children. She writes funny, real stories that are accompanied by humor and supernatural elements. Recently published in October 2015, Brianna has gone on to add several books to her main series and spin-off series since then.

Why Are ARCs Important?

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Whether you’re traditionally published or self-published, advanced reader copies (ARCs) of your edited manuscript are important. Here is why…

What is an ARC:

ARC is the shortened term for ‘advanced reader copy’. An ARC is a copy of your work that you send out to a group of readers ahead of your publication date.

Note: an ARC copy is not the same as a beta copy. Beta Copies are usually sent out before the final edit to garner constructive feedback during the editing process. ARCs are edited, finished copies of your work that are ready for publication.

Why send an ARC:

  1. ARC reviewers can offer honest feedback before your book is even on the market. You can get a good idea on how well your work has been received
  2. Free promotion. ARC readers tend to be reviewers. Having reviews on blogs, Goodreads, and social media etc is brilliant promotion before publication.  Authors need reviews, plain and simple.

When to send an ARC:

Of course, it would not be an ARC if it wasn’t received in advance of the publication date, however, there are differing opinions as to how early to send an ARC. I have received ARCs up to seven months before publication, and some within two weeks of the release date. Ultimately, it is the choice of the author/publisher. I would not advise sending unedited ARCs, but again, that is personal preference, but please be fair in your time allowance. Give the reader enough time to read and review your work comfortably, unless they specifically agree to last minute reads. 4-8 weeks before publication is acceptable for sending ARCs (especially indie books/ eBooks).

How to find ARC readers:

ARC readers are everywhere, you just have to know where to look for them.

  1. Blog: If you have a blog, do a shout out for ARC readers and reviewers.
  2. Twitter: Write a tweet requesting ARC readers. OR search hashtags such as #bookbloggers #bookreviewer #bookblog etc. You can DM or find blog links to reviewers in your genre.
  3. Social media: Post requests for ARC readers and reviewers on all your platforms.
  4. Research: Use search engines to find book blogs etc. Most book bloggers have review policies for you to study.
  5. Netgalley: You can pay a fee to have your ARC signed up to Netgalley.com. Members can request copies of your work to review.
  6. Friends: Send out copies to honest friends. Make sure they will give you a review. The more reviews the merrier.

Keeping ARC readers for future use:

Once you have found ARC readers, you ideally want to keep them.

  1. Always thank them for reviews, even if it is not the 5* review you wanted!
  2. Reblog/ share their reviews and links. Not only does this help you, but it helps them get traffic to their platforms.
  3. Build a list of trusted reviewers. Ask all of your ARC readers if you can call on them in the future. Avid readers are a valuable assets to all authors.

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 Content belongs to KJ.Chapman

GIF sourced from giphy.com

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Creating Antagonists

Here is my first reblog of the next few weeks. I posted this about a year ago and still stand by my methods for creating antagonists…

creating antagonists

I  have settled down to write this blog post with a large, steaming mug of tea, so I must be anticipating it to be either lengthy, time consuming, or both. Bear with me on this.

Yesterday, a reader of my eBook, EVO Nation, shared her enjoyment in my development and portrayal of the main antagonist. Hence, why this blog post idea sprang to mind.

In truth, my antagonist was as much a surprise to me when I was writing it as it must be to the reader experiencing it for the first time. In previous posts, I have explained my lack of planning and outlining when it comes to my first draft, and how this can lead to surprising revelations even for me as the author. When I came to the logical conclusion that a certain character had the motivation and means to be my perfect (surprise) antagonist, I felt sick with betrayal…

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Author Interview: Phil Price

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author interview. p. price- horror genreToday, I get to welcome author, Phil Price to my little ol’ blog. Phil self published his first book, Unknown, in 2015. Unknown is a tale of vampires, other worlds, and blood harvesting. I was lucky to get a copy of Unknown during a free promotion, and you can read my review  here.

I love a chance to interview indie authors and gain a little insight into their lives as writers, publishers, marketers, and all that goes with self publishing, so I jumped at the opportunity to interview Phil. Not only that, I’m a sucker for a good horror story and haven’t interviewed a single horror author to date. But right here, right now, that will be rectified.

Without further ado, let’s delve into the mind of Phil Price…

Your debut novel, Unknown, has been described as a new spin on the traditional vampire novel. Can you describe Unknown in ten words or less?

Man finds a doorway to another world, filled with vampires.

You write in many POVs and in many eras. Would you pick your favourite character and give us a little insight into their mindset?

I guess I’d go for the main protagonist, Jake. He’s a young man who has lost his wife and daughter in a hit and run. He quits the police force because the system has failed his family and he feels he can no longer protect the innocent. When he discovers unexplained abductions, he is suddenly swept along by a tide of events, almost glad that his mundane existence has taken a turn for the interesting. He is searching, although he’s not sure for what exactly.

I always offer authors a chance to showcase an excerpt from their work. Would you care to share a snippet from Unknown? Give the readers a taste of what they are missing.

My pleasure: Excerpt from Unknown by Phil Price

Have you always had a love for the horror genre, and what inspires you to write in that genre?

I wanted to draw people into the book, hopefully giving them a fright or raising the hairs on the backs of their necks. I love reading books of this genre, which started when I picked up my first copy of Salem’s Lot. People want to be scared. They want to think about what goes bump in the night. The thought of something evil and supernatural just gets my juices flowing. I was haunted for years by the vision of Mr.Barlow. Even now he gives me the willies. We live in a world full of gadgets, reality TV, and celebrity. It’s nice to read about things that lurk in the shadows, out of sight.

Are you interested in writing in other genres? Can we expect a release in the future?

I’ve got a sci-fi book currently on ice. I started it last year, but wanted to concentrate on finishing Unknown and starting the sequel. I hope to release it next year (fingers crossed). It is similar to Unknown whilst being different, if that makes sense. It will take readers to the far corners of the cosmos, with all kinds of cool stuff like wormholes, warp drives, and weird aliens. I just need to get my Star Wars/ Star Trek head on.

Why did you choose the self-publishing route? Any good or bad experiences you’d care to share?

Money. This is a guilty hobby and I couldn’t justify spending lots of money on getting published. So, I opted for the ‘indie’ route. Maybe I will choose a different way next time. I’ve had mainly good experiences so far. Nothing really negative. I had no expectations when I released Unknown. So, any experiences are good ones, which will help me next time perhaps. I’ve also met many great indie authors. Some great people who are truly talented. It’s great to read books by folk who give everything to their story. People like that inspire me to write. I’ve made some firm friends so far. Happy days!

Some writers find the idea of self-publishing a daunting one. Do you have any advice for writers who may be comtemplating self-publishing their work?

Get a friend to read it in draft form. Let them give you honest feedback. Also, get it proof read and formatted professionally. A big piece of advice for any aspiring indie, is to get themselves set up on social media well before the book comes out. I didn’t, and am now playing catch-up. Twitter, Facebook, author pages, Goodreads, blogs etc, are a great way to build a network of followers before the book comes out.

What is next for Phil Price?

Well, aside from my busy family and work life, I hoping to release the sequel to Unknown later this year. Then, maybe the sci-fi book (Zoo) next year. I have another book in the back storeroom of my brain. It will be neither horror nor sci-fi. It will be based loosely on a high profile news story of the last twenty years. It will be very dark. I can say no more than that at present. You will have to watch this space.

Thank you to Phil for joining me today!


Connect with Phil on:

Twitter

Goodreads

Instagram


For use of content in this post, please seek permission from the author, Phil Price.

Author Interview: Sarina Langer

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sarinaOn Monday, Sarina Langer released her debut novel, Rise of the Sparrows. I was lucky enough to be a beta reader for Sarina, and can honestly say that it was a gripping, well written, captivating read. You can check out my review here.

And guess what? Sarina has stopped by my little ol’ blog on her week long blog tour! I’m thrilled to welcome Sarina to my blog today, to throw some questions at her, and get an insight into the life of the newly published author.

Firstly, congratulations on the release of your first book! Is there a particular experience, good or bad, that has stuck out for you in the drafting or publication of your debut?

There are several things which I enjoyed, like writing the first draft, doing the research, and even editing! The writing community both here on WordPress and on Twitter (or more recently on Instagram) has been amazing and incredibly welcoming. The only thing that has stuck out negatively is formatting my novel for Createspace and Amazon KDP. There were no issues with either- Createspace have responded to everything very quickly and were much faster than I expected! – But formatting anything in Open Office has proven to be a huge pain. I’ve made notes, so hopefully it’ll be a little easier next time.

Would you share your writing routine with us? Are a scheduler or an ‘as and when’ type of writer?

My writing routine is relaxed and forgiving compared to my editing routine. I usually write for roughly one hour to ninety minutes every day (apart from weekends- I take those off), which tends to result in anything between 1k and 3k words, sometimes (rarely) even more than that! If you’re not a writer you might not realise how many other things are involved. We don’t just write- we do research, we have to name people, places, maybe different magics and towns and complicated systems, and we have entire worlds to create from nothing. So, while I’m not writing every free minute I get, I do these other things which also progress the novel. My mornings are quite varied because of it.

What has been the most rewarding part of publishing your novel?

I write for myself- and I think every writer should- but I do want to inspire other people with my writing. Whether my writing inspires them to write themselves, improve their writing, or to do something else entirely doesn’t matter. Every time someone tells me that my writing makes them want to write or do something, I know I’ve done well, and that’s a very rewarding feeling.

What were your reasons for choosing the self-publishing route?

I am a control freak to a personal extent, and didn’t want to give up control over important aspects of my book, such as the cover design. It’s my business, my baby, and I want to be the one who makes all the big decisions. To be honest, I did want to go the traditional way when I started writing Rise of the Sparrows, but I thought that if I published a trilogy by myself first and did it well, my chances of getting a great agent and publishing deal would improve! A year later, and I’m not so sure anymore that I want an agent or traditional publisher. I like being in charge. This is my book, and I will work my butt off to make it work.

Can you describe Rise of the Sparrows in ten words of less? A quick summary for anyone thinking of purchasing your novel.

Oh my! Let me think…

Misjudgements, swords and daggers, magic, prophecy, trust issues, demons, prejudices and death. (You weren’t hoping for one sentence, right?)

I’m going to name three characters and I would love for you to describe them in just three words.

Rachaelsurvivor, paranoid, and defensive.

Cephyyoung, naive, and pyromancer.

Cale- strong, fiercely loyal (we’ll treat that as one, shan’t we?), and protective.

Would you share an excerpt from Rise of the Sparrows, pretty please?

This is a moment from the first chapter, where we first meet Rachael. Two men have come to rape her, and I think it shows nicely that she can defend herself when necessary, despite being homeless and malnourished. She maybe tired, hungry, and weak, but she can kick as if her life depends on it!

Rise of the Sparrows Excerpt

What is next for Sarina Langer?

I’m working on two novels at the moment- the sequel to Rise fo the Sparrows and a scifi novel, which is a bit of an experiment for me. I’ve never written two books at once and I’ve never written scifi either, so it’s a learning curve for me. But it’s an interesting and fun learning curve, and I’m enjoying all the new research I get to do! ( The end of the world, anyone? Multiple universe theory, anyone?)

Do you have any parting advice for unpublished writers out there?

A lot of people will love your writing, but a lot of other people won’t. That’s fine. You can’t please everyone, and that’s perfectly alright. Whether your first book does well or fails, you write another. And maybe make a note of some of that awesome feedback you get along the way- it will cheer you up when you get a bad review!

Thank you, Sarina for stopping by today, and I wish you every success with the blog tour and your debut novel!


Buy Rise of the Sparrows: here.

Find Sarina on:

Twitter

WordPress: Cookie Break

Facebook

Goodreads


Permission to use excerpts, quotations, or content must be sought from the author, Sarina Langer.

TIP SHARE #5

tip share

I have been sorting through this blog and realised that I’ve only done 4 tip share posts since the very beginning. Then, I had a brainwave- not only would I start up the tip share posts again, I will ask readers/ fellow writers if they have any tips they are happy to share.

If you would like to share a writing tip, you can comment below, or DM me on Twitter @KJ86CHAPMAN. I will schedule it in, and tag back to your blog or Twitter account.

I shall kick off the proceedings with ‘Tip Share #5’.

Antagonists are people too. Make sure they have history, motivation, and believe that they are the stars of their own story. We don’t have to agree with their motivations, just understand them.


Content belongs to KJ.Chapman

I’ll Write What I Like

I was in a group discussion today about writing novels, editing etc, when someone asked if I’d solely write in first person present tense. The answer is no, I prefer to, but that doesn’t mean I shall always. It was a fair question in a reasonable, I like to think educated, discussion. Then, another party joined the group. Don’t get me wrong, I love it when a discussion snowballs and everyone wants in, but this person wasn’t contributing anything other than forcing their opinions on me.

“Did you know that first person present tense is rated as the least favoured writing tense by readers? they said.

No, I did not. (I will research the truth in that a little later for my own interest.) Joining in a discussion that you weren’t originally a part of with a negative is always disgruntling to me.

“I can’t stand reading anything in first person present tense. If I see that a book is written in first person present tense,  I won’t even read the second sentence. It feels lazy to me.”

Okay, how does this help our discussion. Why does it feel lazy? What is it that irks you so much about it? Valid arguments require valid reasoning. You’re allowed an opinion, but I’m allowed a reason, right?

My reply, “I enjoy being in the MC’s head, and I definitely wouldn’t call it lazy writing. There are pros and cons to writing in any tense or POV. First person present tense is restrictive to time manipulation, and progressing the story whilst keeping it interesting is quite a feat.

“I just can’t help but think that it’s self-absorbed. It’s like the author is the MC and merely acting out their own fantasies.”

Okay, don’t all writers do that to an extent? There is a little piece of me in every character I create- villain, protagonist, dog.

My reply, “I disagree. I love reading narratives in first person present tense, and I think that’s why I naturally write that way too. Each writer has their own style, and each reader has their own taste. To devalue one is pointless because for every person that says they hate a book, there is another who loves it.

“Yes, but like I said, you write in the least favoured writing tense and POV,” they add.

“And?”

“And if you switch to, let’s say, third person past tense, you’d access a bigger target audience.”

“Perhaps, but why would I do that?”

“To make more money.”

Bingo. Now, that is why I’m a writer, and you are not, good sir. I write for the love not the money. I love what I write, and although you may not, there are others who do. (That being said, this guy hasn’t even read my book.)

My reply, “When did we start talking about money?”

BOOM!


All Gifs have been sourced from GIPHY.

The Confessions of a Writer

Claire over at Art and Soul tagged me in this fabulous new tag: The Confession of a Writer Tag. Thank you for thinking of me Claire, and I hope you enjoy my answers.

The Confessions of a Writer Tag was created by Nicolette at A Little Bookish, A Little Writerly. It is a ‘get-to-know’ the writer interview tag, dedicated to spotlighting the creative process, works in progress, and connecting to other writers.

Rules of the Tag:

  • Please link back to A Little Bookish, A Little Writerly’s post, so that the original rules are always accessible to anyone who is curious and wants to participate!
  • Acknowledge the person who tagged you in your post.
  • Tag your friends and fellow writers – it’s up to you how many!

The Questions and My Answers:

1.When did you first start writing? Was being a writer something you always aspired to be?

I remember reading Charlotte’s Web as a child, and then having it read to me again during story time at primary school. I loved that book dearly and I believe that was when I decided I wanted to create my own stories and worlds.

2. What genre do you write?

I enjoy reading and writing YA, NA, science fiction, urban fantasy, and paranormal romance. That’s not to say I wont write in a different genre, but as of yet, the inspiration hasn’t called to me.

3. Can you tell us a little about your current work in progress? When did you start working on this project?

I’m currently working on book two in the EVO Nation Series, EVO Shift. I started this project in June 2015 after self-publishing book one, EVO Nation. I also have a little non-fiction project I am quietly working on.

4. What was your first piece that you can remember writing? What was it about?

I actually have a piece that I wrote whilst at primary school. It’s a rewrite of Little Red Riding Hood, and instead of a big bad wolf there are human flesh eating dragons called Morice and Norice. My mum kept it all those years and found it last year. We were in tears reading it. T’was a funny read. (I even drew a picture)…

5. What’s the best part about writing?

Creating something from nothing. I love the freedom of the worlds I create. I can fill it with whomever I want, and disappear into it whenever I want.

6. What’s the worst part about writing?

Time constraints. I have a family and they take priority, but you can bet your last quid that I get an idea or spark of inspiration when I have no possible chance at sitting down for five minutes to write it down or get started.

7. What’s the name of your favorite character and why? (This can be from a book by another author or from your own work. Book crushes are perfectly acceptable here as well.)

Jane Eyre. It’s due to her intellect, her independence, and the sheer fact that she knows herself. As a teen, when I first read this book, she resonated with me.

8. How much time a day/week do you get to write? When is the best time for you to write (morning or night)?

It’s hard to say. Can I answer with- as much as I can and whenever I can? Yep, that sounds about right.

9. Did you go to college for writing? Or if you haven’t been to college yet, do you plan to?

I didn’t study writing at college, I studied… wait for it… business studies. When I left college I got a job using my qualifications and I hated it with a passion. The managers were total assholes and I left work crying on more than one occasion. The day I left was the same day I found another job as a health care assistant at a care home. Writing is my passion and I will slog it out until I can make it my full-time career.

10. What bothers you more: spelling errors, punctuation errors, or grammar errors?

They all do, but it’s amazing how blinded we are against our own errors.

11. What is the best writing advice that anyone has given you?

To write the first draft, and then start the editing process.

12What advice would you give to another writer?

If you want to write professionally you must start to build up your web presence ie blogs, social media etc. Start before you’ve even published/self-published your book.

13. What are your favorite writing sites or blogs that you turn to for help, tips or encouragement?

I find other bloggers in similar situations to myself offer the best advice and tips. It’s nice to read something and think, ‘Phew, I’m not the only one.‘ I have too many to mention here, but I’d urge every writer to get in on the blogging community as soon as possible.

14. Besides writing, what else do you enjoy doing? What are your hobbies?

I’m a fan girl, and my interests are Dr Who, Firefly, The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones and anything Marvel. I guess I watch a lot of TV/ films.

15. What is the best book you’ve read this year?

The Girl in Between by Laeken Zea Kemp. I posted a review on this book. It is currently FREE on Amazon and well worth a download.

16. What is the best movie you’ve seen this year?

Mad Max was a total trip, but I loved it, and of course… Avengers: Age of Ultron.

17. What is your favorite book or series of all time?

I would say my favourite book is Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. I am a sucker for the Harry Potter Series too.

18. Who is your favorite author?

Wow, how to answer that? I have favourites for different reasons: Stephen King, JK Rowling, Jane Austen, Markus Zusak, John Green, Anita Shreve, Anne Rice, Alice Sebold, Charlotte Bronte, Daphne Du Maurier, Kami Garcia, Marie Lu, Garth Nix.

19. What are your plans for the rest of the year in terms of your writing?

I plan to crack on with EVO Shift, and hopefully finish my side project by Christmas… watch this space.

20. Where else can we find you online?

TWITTER

FACEBOOK

GOODREADS

AMAZON

PINTEREST

My Tags: (I won’t be offended if you don’t want to take part :))

I look forward to seeing your answers.

Quotes of the Week, November 2nd 2015

I have chosen creativity to be my theme this week. I think it is important for every author, singer, artist, musician, dancer… to read these quotes and take them on board. In my opinion, creativity and bravery go hand in hand.

‘An essential part of creativity is not being afraid to fail.’ ~ Edwin Land

‘And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.’ ~ Sylvia Plath

‘Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.’ ~ Scott Adams

Happy Monday to all the creative souls out there!

Tip Share #4

The fourth tip that I wanted to share with you all is a simple, but useful tip when writing that first draft.

‘Don’t fuss over the details. Stopping to figure out the exact size of bullet needed for a certain gun can put a dampener on creativity and hinder your flow. Keep writing, jot a note to remind you to research at a later date, and get that first draft down. Editing is called editing for a reason.’

This tip stems from experience. I have pages of scribbles in my notebook reminding me to find out specific, factual information that I don’t know off the top of my head. I prefer not to dwell on the details until the editing stage, otherwise I switch from the creative to the logical side of my brain and lose my train of thought.