Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Channeling your inner character

Some folks say our characters come from within us. That every person we write has at least a tiny part of us in them.

I’m not sure about that, but since it’s damn near impossible to pry open an author’s head and see exactly all of the thought processes, influences, memories that go into making a character—I’ll let that ride.

But now I’m facing the flip side of that. Using my own characters to help myself get through some rough spots.

Our house was recently robbed—again. This is twice in one year. Both times it was a quick hit, they grabbed small electronics and fled. Both times they took advantage of a small window of time where no one was home in the middle of the day.

This time they even walked out the front door.

I was freaked.

Ok, not as much as the first time (once the initial fear, panic, anger settled down), but still freaked. But the first time I had serious anxiety issues for a few months. As in “don’t wanna leave the house” issues.

The night after the break in, I had a long talk with myself. I realized I could let the bastard (s) who did this make my life even more miserable for a few months—or I could mentally fight back.

As I was thinking about this, I thought of my characters. I write space opera, steampunk, assorted fantasy types, even geek romance—but all of my heroines are tough. Not all the same, probably the most dangerous one I’ve created so far (unbeknown to her even) is very unassuming.

But they are all resilient.

They get screwed up…a lot. But they bounce back. They don’t let things stop them (ok, eventually in some cases ;)).

So, thinking of these figments of my imagination, I started making myself more resilient. I looked at what my options were to fix the problem (alarm and outside cameras) but also looked inside to move past it.

This just happened a few days ago, but I’m doing ok. I still want to bash the thieves heads in with a baseball bat (I do have some rather violent heroines) but I’m going to be ok. Living in fear is pointless.

My characters, which may or may not be made up of parts of who I am (or as I think, who I want to be ;)) helped me regain my sense of self.

What about you? Your characters ever reach out from beyond the page and help you?

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Damning the muse

Ok, before muse loving folks get your panties in a bunch about my title- hear me out. It’s not really the muses’ fault that they cause so much trouble for writers.

It’s the writers’ fault.

Yup—we have met the enemy and it is us.

Many writers (and other creative type folks) wait for the muse to speak to them, to tell them what they should create. No muse, no creation.

Sorry, I think that’s a bunch of horse pucky.

I should retract that statement a bit. If you are writing JUST for your own enjoyment, and never, never, NEVER, want anyone else beyond your family to read it- by all means sit around and wait for the muse to strike.

But if you even have the slightest feeling that you’d like to be published and read by total strangers—you have to kick that muse in the behind and get her/him to respond to your needs. Excuses such as: “I’m just not inspired today.” Or “My muse just won’t settle down.” Or even better, “My muse got so drunk, she/he can’t see straight and is now in lock up in some tiny foreign country.” Ain’t going to work if you want others, and yourself, to think of you and your work in a professional manner. If you don’t think of yourself as a professional (we’re not taking pay folks- mindset) then how can anyone else?

If I were to tell my boss at my 40 hour a week day job that I really just wasn’t up to working, because my muse was off playing beer bong, how do you think that would go over? I work, I get paid, I’m a professional at that job.

Now, I know some folks start crying, “But creativity is different! I have to follow my muse to create things!” Again we are back at the farm viewing the results of a stall cleaning adventure.

Lack of inspiration, a dead muse, writer’s block, all are excuses to get out of something that is hard—aka writing.

I don’t think it’s a news flash to most of you that writing is a world class PITA (Pain In The Ass). It’s hard work. It’s working when we don’t want to. It’s sticking to a deadline or goal even when no one else but us cares.

We, as serious writers, need to find ways to bring our muse to us. To show up every dang day and write something. Work on something. Touch our writing to remind ourselves that that part of us exists. If you need things to get yourself to write- great. Some writers use the same music for a project. Some use the same scents. Whatever you need to get your muse to come play (if you are a muse driven person) do it. BUT if that muse is still off drunk in TJ, you need to go on without them. YOU are the writer.

Damn the muses, and full steam ahead!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Guest Blogger: Dawn Marie Hamilton

Today I'm welcoming a guest blogger- Dawn Marie Hamilton- Welcome! 

Dawn Marie Hamilton dares you to dream. She is a 2013 RWA® Golden Heart® Finalist who pens Scottish-inspired fantasy and paranormal romance. When not writing, she’s cooking, gardening, or paddling the local creeks with her husband. Today she’s talking about faeries and brownies—mostly a mischievous brownie.


Faeries and Brownies and ‘Just Beyond the Garden Gate’

I believe in faeries and brownies and other fae creatures. My Highland Gardens novels are rife with such beings. Brownie is the term used by Lowland Scots. To those who speak the Scottish Gaelic, they are known as brùnaidh.

Brownies are less gregarious than faeries and tend to be loyal to one household or clan.

In ‘Just Beyond the Garden Gate’, Munn, the MacLachlan clan brownie, is sworn to thwart the matchmaking of Caitrina, a banished faerie princess.

Contradictory information is bantered about regarding the physical characteristics of brownies. Some say they look similar to elves, often described as old, shaggy, and short of stature. At other times, they are described as tall, handsome, and well-proportioned, like the elves in ‘Lord of the Rings’.

My brownies are of the short, shaggy, and gnarled kind.

Excerpt from ‘Just Beyond the Garden Gate’: 

Ignoring his cousin, Patrick took the narrow stairs two at a time, uncaring that his shoulders banged against stone as he went. He burst into the hall and stilled.

The Brùnaidh, whose duty it was to watch over Clan MacLachlan, sat on a stool near the fire, reciting rhymes for Elspeth. He waved his arms as he spoke. Dressed for foolery, the brownie wore baggy brown leather trews and a knee length leine of fine woolen cloth secured at the waist by a thick leather belt adorned with bronze. Around his shoulders, he wore a green brat held in place by a bronze brooch with a large clear crystal in the center. He tapped his feet in rhythm to the cadence of his voice. On those wee feet, he wore green boots with toes that pointed upward.

"Munn," Patrick bellowed.

The little man twisted around, his whisker-covered face scrunched up more than usual. Panic flashed in blue-green eyes, and he jumped to his full three-foot height. His bent nose twitched and he grabbed hold of the funny-looking pointed green cap he always wore.

Anticipating the brownie's attempt to escape, Patrick grabbed hold of him. "Not so fast, wee imp. What mischief have you been about this night?"

"Nae." Munn's whole body shook. "Not I."

"Then what caused a strange lass to appear to me in the Fir-wood and to vanish as quick?"

The brownie's eyes grew big and round, his surprise obvious. Patrick had the sense to put him down and step back. Just in time. In a blink, the little man disappeared.

Just Beyond the Garden Gate, a Highland Gardens Novel 


Determined to regain her royal status, a banished faerie princess accepts a challenge from the High-Queen of the Fae to unite an unlikely couple while the clan brownie attempts to thwart her.

Passion ignites when a faerie-shove propels burned-out business consultant Laurie Bernard through the garden gate, back through time, and into the embrace of Patrick MacLachlan. The arrogant clan chief doesn’t know what to make of the lass in his arms, especially when he recognizes the brooch she wears as the one his stepmother wore when she and his father disappeared.

With the fae interfering at every opportunity, the couple must learn to trust one another while they battle an enemy clan, expose a traitor within their midst and discover the true fate of the missing parents. Can they learn the most important truth—love transcends time?

Kindle Edition buy link:



Do you believe in faeries?

One commenter answering the above question will receive a PDF copy of ‘Just Beyond the Garden Gate’. Include email address with comment for consideration.


Tags: Dawn Marie Hamilton, Just Beyond the Garden Gate, Highland Gardens, Scottish Highlands, Scottish historical romance, time travel, faeries, brownies, Brùnaidh