Friday, February 26, 2010

Writing different characters

Today is actually a writing post. Thanks to blog follower, Kaurie, for asking this question: how do you go about writing your different characters, and how it is different writing a man or a woman?

One of my favorite things besides world building is developing characters. I'm one of those writers who believe there is no hard and fast rule for what process you use to write or how you develop your stories/characters. The end result -- a good story with engagaing world and characters -- can be accomplished in many different ways.

When I develop my characters, I dig pretty deep. Whether it's notes on their background, personality, quirks, etc.. or learning about them as I write by the seat of my pants, I always have a good sense of who they are in my mind. If you think of your characters as real, dynamic people (or beings), writing about them comes pretty easily. Because, really, how boring would it be to write the same character type over and over again? When I write from one character to another, I find it refreshing to switch gears, to get into another mode. I look forward to this or else, like I said, it'd be a total snooze-fest.

Some characters I develop completely in my head. Some I make notes for. Some I have gone so far as to think of very detailed traits that highlight their individuality. For instance, it's not in the book, but Charlie thinks Wendy's square hamburger patties are unnatural. It's just NOT right! They should be round! :-) She'd declare this laughing, of course, because she knows it's funny and silly. But, digging deeper, there is a desire in her for order. She has a need to compartmentalize things, to put things in their place. In the world she lives in, she has to accept the unnatural, the crazy things she sees, does, and has to deal with... so this need for order in other ways shows itself, even in humorous ways.

On a real level, we'll use me. Every single time I go into a hotel room, one of the first things I do is untuck the sheets and blankets, walking all the way around the bed and pulling them out. I hate for my feet to feel pulled down by tucked-in blankets. It feels like I'm trapped. Now this could simply be a trait that makes me a little different, or if we dug deeper, we might learn why I don't want to be trapped, why I need to feel free, maybe something happened in my past that gave me this anxiety over feeling trapped. Sometimes it's simple, sometimes it's not. But every individual possesses the simple and the complicated.

Writing scenes with a male character -- now those, to me, are super fun. Let's take Hank, Charlie Madigan's siren partner from THE BETTER PART OF DARKNESS. I know him. I know what he looks like, how he thinks, what he does on his days off, what makes him laugh and what pisses him off. I know it takes a heck of a lot to rile him, and I know that the nonchalant manner he shows the world hides some pretty big issues concerning his past. Jumping back and forth between Hank and Charlie becomes seamless when the characters are that developed in my mind. But, it's really important to stay true to them, and by that I mean their responses and reactions. You might want them to say a certain thing or react a certain way, but you always have to ask yourself -- is that true to the character I have set up? Guys and girls, kids and adults, we'll all see things slightly different or vastly different. As writers we observe, we watch, we have a good sense of interactions and traits... and we have our own experiences with the opposite sex to draw upon, as well as what we learn, realize, and glean from sources, like TV, books, news, reasearch material, etc...

If your characters feel hard to write or lame or whatever, go back to the drawing board, work on developement. Get a better sense for the individuality for your characters. Remember that word. And stay true to it! How people look at friendship and love, for example, is not going to be identical. The meaning of those things are slightly (or hugely, depending) different for everyone. Even between siblings or spouses, these things won't be exact matches, therefore their reactions to things will be different. See? And then you have character traits, upbringing, experiences, desires, dreams -- all these things to set each character apart. All these thing to keep in mind as you develop and write.

Once you have all that, it should be pretty easy to switch back and forth -- no matter how you do your POVs and what tenses you write in.

In Charlie's stories, it's her POV (point of view) and hers only, but every character can still come alive through their actions, their reactions, and their dialogue. This is where they can stand out. Be different. If you see them as individuals and stay true to them as you write, writing different characters whether good or bad, male or female, should produce a really dynamic cast for your story.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Little update

  • So all contest prizes have been mailed (few days ago) in case anyone is wondering...

  • THE DARKEST EDGE OF DAWN has officially been accepted and has gone on to the copy editor, which makes me very, very happy. And relieved.

  • For those of you asking what the 2nd Charlie book is all about, I'll be posting the synopsis here as soon as I get permission to release the back cover copy. Shouldn't be too long.

  • One of my most excellent blog followers, Kaurie, asked a really great question about writing characters of different genders and such, so I'll be posting about that either tomorrow or Friday...

  • My new website is almost done! It looks amazing, so I can't wait to show it off.

  • Been working on notes/scenes for the 2nd young adult book... so I'm off here and back to work!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Kelly meets Edward...

Sunday Jenna Black and I attended an author chat at East Regional Library in Knightdale, NC. This was my first 'chat'. And this was my first ever 'reading'. Sure, I've read my stuff aloud before. But never in front of others. Never in front of strangers. Never with all eyes and ears on me. Nervous doesn't even begin to cover it, but once all was said and done, the event went over nicely and I didn't turn red or otherwise embarrass myself. I think. :-)

Anyway, the most excellet Janet Morley hosted us and she was truly awesome. She devised a paranormal theme complete with garlic dip and some type of death-by-chocolate cake that was sooo yummy. The room was pretty cool, too. Check out the lights. (That's a blurry Jenna in the background.)
It was a great venue for a first-timer. Much thanks to Janet and the folks who attended!

And because the library had a life-sized cut-out of Edward Cullen, I could not help myself. I had . . . to get . . . a closer look...
Edward tried to act like he wasn't interested, but he couldn't fool me.

And then I had Jen and Janet pose with the happy couple:
Fun was had by all. And Jen will probably never get near me and a cardboard cut out again. ;-) But, hey, it's fun to not take yourself too seriously all the time, ya know?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Cover: The Darkest Edge of Dawn

We have a cover! Artist is once again the amazing Chris McGrath. Can't even put into words how much I dig this cover -- okay, I can -- I love with the intensity of a thousands suns... :D The cover isn't final, maybe a few tweaks here and there. Oh, and it doesn't translate in the pic, but the actual cover title will be a flat silver foil.

The artwork itself is stunning. You can check it out here at Chris's website.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Winners announced

Okay. Whew! Tallying of all the entries is complete. I have randomly drawn 4 winners, each to receive 3 of the mentioned books below, plus a signed copy of THE BETTER PART OF DARKNESS for each winner.

I added three additional books (see last 3 in the booklist below). Threw out some different genres for ya. ;-) And if you have any of these books already and you win, well, spread the love and give them away. These are all great authors!

Winners: Please email me at kelly(at)kellygay(dot)net. First to respond will get their choice of three and so on, in order of response. Once you email me, I'll reply with where you stand and what your book choices are. Good luck! And again, lots of thanks to everyone who entered!

LeeAnn Flowers



Melissa Carmichael

Behold, the Prize List:

  • Drawn Into Darkness by Annette McCleave (paranormal romance)
  • Night's Cold Kiss by Tracey O'Hara (urban fantasy)
  • Spider's Bite by Jennifer Estep (urban fantasy, signed w/ bookmarks)
  • The Dangerous Book for Demon Slayers by Angie Fox (paranormal comedy)
  • Mark of the Demon by Diana Rowland (urban fantasy)
  • The Vampire Bride by Gena Showalter (paranormal romance)
  • Demon Mistress by Yasmine Galenorn (urban fantasy)
  • Deadtown by Nancy Holzner (urban fantasy)
  • Vicious Circle by Linda Robertson (urban fantasy)
  • Rush of Wings by Adrian Phoenix (urban fantasy)
  • Proof by Seduction by Courtney Milan (historical romance)
  • The Conqueror by Kris Kennedy (medieval romance)

Contest is closed...

You guys! I didn't expect this many entries, so I'm thrilled by the response. So thrilled, in fact, I decided to chose four winners, and add in four more books. Got to check out my selection and see which ones to add... Will add up all the entires in a little bit and then announce this afternoon.

Thanks to All who entered and who spread the word! :D

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Reader appreciation contest is on!


Today is the day. My massive Valentine's Day give away starts now. And you want to know why? Because I am showing the love. That's right. These last few months since BPOD debuted have been full of joys and fears, but one thing that sticks out to me above all others are you guys, the people who gave me a chance, who picked up my book and said 'sure, why not'. Grateful doesn't even begin to cover it. You gave me your time. You read. You posted. You reviewed. You rated. You talked about Charlie. You helped me get the word out in ways I never could.

So I love you dear readers, fans, bloggers... Your words pick me up when I'm down. You inspire me to get up every day and write. And when you 'get' my words, you make my whole being glow with happiness.

How's that for some early holiday sappiness? :D Okay on to the good stuff!

I am giving away a ton of books. We have established authors. New authors. New series... At midnight on February 16th, the contest will end. I'll randomly pick 3 winners to receive three books each, plus each gets a copy of BPOD. So, three winners. Four books for each of you! Once I announce the winners. The first to respond will get their pick of three, the second to respond will get their pick, and so on.

The books are as follows (some are brand new, some read by moi):
  • Drawn Into Darkness by Annette McCleave
  • Night's Cold Kiss by Tracey O'Hara
  • Spider's Bite by Jennifer Estep (this one is signed and we have bookmarks!)
  • The Dangerous Book for Demon Slayers by Angie Fox
  • Mark of the Demon by Diana Rowland
  • The Vampire Bride by Gena Showalter
  • Demon Mistress by Yasmine Galenorn
  • Deadtown by Nancy Holzner
  • Vicious Circle by Linda Robertson
Plus each winner will receive a copy of The Better Part of Darkness, signed, of course.

So, how do you enter? Leave a comment, tell me something you love -- can be anything book related or non-book related. If you're a follower of my blog, tell me after your comment, and you'll get a +1 entry. If you follow me on Twitter, say so and you get another +1, and if you mention this contest online (blog, twitter, LJ), tell me and you get +1. So, four chances to get your name in the pot.

I will ship worldwide, as long as there is an address to ship to. That's it. :-)

Chat & Giveaway

Is going on now at Bitten By Books. Stop by, chat, comment... It's just an informal get together to talk about THE BETTER PART OF DARKNESS. And there's free stuff. :-)

The Magic District

Hey guys. Got another post up (Alice, Murder and The Big 'O') at The Magic District. Check it out.

And . . . tomorrow I have something really, really special for you guys!!!!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Vive la France!

Very excited to report that translation rights to THE BETTER PART OF DARKNESS sold in France! *happy* This means sparkly new French cover, and, of course, the entire book translated into french. Cannot wait to see it! And what's super, super cool is the publisher is also invoved in the gaming world and publishes translations of the Warhammer 40k novels, which is awesome. 'Cus you all know how much I love RPG's, MMORPG's and gaming in general...

Here the PM listing:

French rights to Kelly Gay's debut urban fantasy novel THE BETTER PART OF DARKNESS to Mathieu Saintout at Bibliothèque Interdite by Donatella d'Ormesson Literary on behalf of Jacqueline Murphy at FinePrint Literary Management.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Random writerly update

So here's where I stand in this second month of the new year:

* THE DARKEST EDGE OF DAWN (DEOD) revisions were turned into my editor in January. (A few small notes/changes are making their way to me as I write this, so I expect to do those this weekend.)

* Finished initial revisions on the YA, DARKNESS BECOMES HER, and turned those in. (They'll be going through a line edit and then they'll come back to me).

* Tweaked cover copy for DEOD. (For those who don't know, copy cover is the text you find on the front and back cover of a book. (blurbs, taglines, quotes). This can also include the inside of the covers as well, like the author bio.)

* After my awesome web designer, Atomic Cherry, did a few renderings of potential 'looks', I finally selected one (which I love), and building has commenced. Cannot wait to reveal!

This leaves me (until DEOD arrives) with nothing in the que. (Well, the second YA needs to be written, but that's not due until December). And there's nothing in the que with the Charlie books as of now. I'm not fond of times like these. Deadlines help me to focus. I know what to work on and when to work on it. With nothing looming, I waste time. I admit it. I do.

Right now, I'm writing up notes for the 2nd young adult, and the next Charlie book. But I have time to think ahead a little, and work on some additional projects for the future. I'm waffling between an adult stand-alone novel that I'd like to finish (150 pages already done), and my super cool kid's Turn of the Century, alternate, NYC story, of which I have the first four chapters done.

But, Kelly, don't you have enough books in the cue now? you might ask. Yes. Now. Sure I could sit back and enjoy. But authors have to think ahead. It generally takes anywhere from 1-2 years for our books to come out, and that does not include the time it takes to write and make the sale. If I want to have books coming out steadily every year, the last thing I'd want is to complete a contract, have the last book come out, and then write something new. There'll be a huge gap, see? Between the last book and the next (because it will take time to write, sell and then publish). Could be an entire year or two. So, when I have time like this, I like to think ahead. I like to explore new projects, ideas, and stay fresh.

Er, that's provided I can stay focused. These self-imposed deadlines of mine are so weak sometimes. And I betcha as soon as I publish this post, DEOD will arrive. *fingers crossed* Then, at least the next few days will be a no brainer. :D

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Love this

Every once in a while I come across a cover that makes me go gaga. I got turned onto this via the fabulous Tez Miller. This is one of those cases where I'd buy a book based on cover alone. It speaks to my love of all things creepy, and haunting/beautiful. And it evokes so many questions... Don't you love it? (Click on the pic to go to the author's site for a bigger pic).

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

One of those days...

Last week, I received some not-so-great comments on BPOD from someone I admire greatly, and, ten minutes later, I received an awesome, incredibly touching fan mail that will go in the 'saved file' forever. Despite the fan mail, I can't deny that I was bummed by the first. It's not a great feeling to know your work has appeared lackluster in the eyes of someone you admire, and whose work you support. Two vastly different emails, two vastly different takes, left this newbie author feeling like she needed a nap (thought this might have something to do with having two young children and a full-time writing gig). ;-)

Now, don't make the mistake of thinking I'm grudging against the giver of those not-so-great comments. Far from it. It is what it is. On the flipside, I've gotten amazing comments from others I admire greatly as well. Even the pros in this biz have different opinions. Obviously not everyone is going to like my work, no matter who they are - reviewer, author, reader, family, friend, etc... I knew that going in, and I know that now. It's a subjective medium. Sure, I'll admit, being a debut author, I want to start off well in this business, so some days I am more vulnerable than others in terms of reader reaction. Some days, I wake confident and can handle whatever comes my way. Somedays, I wake feeling bare and totally second-guessing my work, and last week was one of those days, so I'll also admit to being a bit more susceptible to the 'sting' I was experiencing.

By the next day, however, the sting was gone. It bears repeating: It's all subjective. I've read comments from established reviewers and new reviewers, fans who have written to me, and best selling authors who had read my work. And inevitably, what one person doesn't like is the exact thing many others do like. Sometimes it mirrors this so perfectly. "Couldn't connect with Charlie." v. "Felt like I really connected with her". "Charlie is too harsh." v. "Charlie is open, vulnerable, and real." Indeed, when I was submitting this book to agents, I had two rejections that said: "Too much backstory" and "Not enough backstory." There's just no way in hell to win with everyone. And, more, importantly, I don't write with winning in mind. I write the stories in my heart and head, the ones I feel compelled to tell, and if some people enjoy them, then that's awesome. If they don't, that's okay, too. But, there are days where I wished I would've 'won' with a particular reader, but *shrugs* what can you do...

There are certainly books out there that I didn't connect with, but, initially, despite reviews or comments, I like to make up my own mind. I'm not going to cross a book off my reading list just because the story didn't connect with a particular reader or industry pro. Because, 'connection' happens on an individual level. People view and relate to things differently. It's the same for movies, art, or any creative medium... Influence can swing both ways, though. A book that normally wouldn't be on my reading list might make it on if the reviews and chatter is so overwhelming that I have to see what all the fuss is about. So good comments might add a book, but bad comments will never take a book off my list -- I still want to make up my own mind...

So there's my commentary for the day. (More like random, scatter-brained, sometimes contradictory, thoughts. But you all who read my blog know this can be a frequent occurence.) :D

Monday, February 01, 2010

And the winner of SPIDER'S BITE is...

By random drawing, the winner of Jennifer Estep's new urban fantasy, SPIDER'S BITE, (a signed copy, I might add) is.... MELISSA!

Congratualtions, Melissa! And a big, big thanks to everyone who stopped by and commented. I was tickled pink to see that Charlie Madigan made it into some folk's favorite heroines. *happy*. :D

Melissa, send me your address at kelly(at)kellygay(dot)net.