Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Christmas Books

Since Thanksgiving is over and we can now officially get into the Christmas Spirit, I thought we could get some choices here on books featuring the Christmas Holiday Season in a big way, or mentioning Christmas somewhere inside.

I'll soon be re-releasing for 99 cents in Kindle and Smashwords my debut mystery, Two Wrongs, which has some vital action taking place around the holiday tradition of visiting the Big Tree in the Walnut Room of what used to be Marshall Field's and is now called Macy's. I'll let you know when the book is out again, but here's the cover, which doesn't look too Christmasy.

Now, what does everyone else have?

Morgan Mandel

Monday, November 28, 2011

Cyber Monday! Deals or....? A Christmas story perhaps?

So who hasn't had enough of the holiday madness already?

Anyone hunting for deals online today? What are you looking for?

** How about a short holiday read?

In Christmas at the North Pole Compound, it's not all Fa-la-la and Ho-Ho-Ho at the North Pole Compound when Santa's elves find someone's stolen the gifts! Can Chief Elf Investigator Finius Flaherty crack the case by Dec. 24th and save Christmas??

A Holiday Crime Story for all ages! - Only .99 cents! (Kindle and other formats at Smashwords, click title.)

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Tis the Season

Well things sure have changed since my last post. A week ago I was all about hanging on to Thanksgiving for as long as possible. Absolutely no Christmas music or decs until the Friday after.

Guess what? The Friday after (and now the Saturday and Sunday as well) has arrived! My house has been transformed into a Christmas wonderland: on Friday and Saturday we put up and decorated two trees, strung outdoor lights on three bushes and one tree, put garland around the front door, and hauled out and placed six room's worth of decs. Christmas music plays constantly in the background, and last night after attending our local tree lighting ceremony down the block, we kicked off the Christmas movie viewing season with "Christmas with the Kranks". My before bed reading was my latest release, A Christmas to Remember. I've been holding off on reading it until now.

This really is a joyous time of year...I can't wait to bake cookies, wrap presents, and attend the various rounds of parties and celebrations. Not to mention looking forward to some time off at the end of the year to relax and enjoy and company of family and friends.

Yep. Tis the season alright, and I couldn't be happier!

Until next time,

Happy Reading!


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Remember to Include the Holidays

Originally posted by Morgan Mandel at The Blood-Red Pencil blog, but still applies.

Holidays are a great opportunity to enrich your manuscript. The trick is not to just mention a holiday in passing, but to add vivid descriptions of how one is celebrated in your character's life.

You can draw on this by your own experience. Think of a holiday, such as Thanksgiving. What's the weather like outside? That will depend on where you live and/or the climate vagaries of the fictional year you create.

Which people get invited? Who prepares the meal? The mother, the wife, the son, the daughter, one, some, or all? Who helps? How is the table set? That may depend on the station in life of your characters, whether they're well-off or perhaps just-married college students.

What's on the menu? Does it reflect the main character's ethnicity, or perhaps some quirk? Many people eat turkey for Thanksgiving, but maybe your character is alone and eating spam.

What about guilt? There are lots of possibilities for that, such as a dinner guest who forgot to bring a hostess gift. Then there's the working wife who feels bad because she uses canned gravy and ready-made dressing instead of making them from scratch.

Or, what about the eternal ying and yang of invitations to the husband's and wife's houses on the same day, at the same time? Where to go? Whom to please?

Can you think of any holiday descriptions from your own novel or someone else's that stand out in your mind? Please share.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Morgan Mandel
99 cents on Kindle and Smashwords -
Killer Career - Romantic Suspense and
Girl of My Dreams - Romantic Comedy.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

As a writer -should you or should you not prepare your own income tax return?

Whether or not you should prepare your own income tax return is a question everyone, not only writers, should ask themselves each year - and now is a good time to start.

Why now? After all, the deadline for filing your tax return isn’t until April next year! Well, now is a good time because everyone needs to assess if their tax situation has changed, which it usually does, and by how much. We are in the final quarter of the calendar year so more than two thirds of the year has passed and the remaining months are an opportunity to adjust withholdings, retirement contributions and similar deductions if necessary. We’re also coming up on the time to renew or change our medical coverage, contributions to flexible spending accounts and more. All of this plays into our individual financial and tax profiles.

If you do prepare your income tax return yourself I strongly suggest using a software program to do so. The leaders are typically Turbo Tax and HR Block at Home. In the interest of disclosure, I use the latter and have for many years, so I’m comfortable with it and have confidence in the results but then I was also a Senior Tax Specialist for many years so my choice is based on many factors that may or may not be applicable to you. Regardless, you want to choose a reputable software program and one that has provisions to provide audit support or money-back guarantees should those options be necessary. There are plenty of sites that review and compare software programs each year and a Google search will yield a plethora of choices.

So, back to our assessment. Most people do not realize that their tax profile changes from year to year. The changes may be so minor that they go unnoticed - except to a trained professional - or they are so significant that your tax return mushrooms to 15 pages long from 3 or 4 pages the previous tax year.

For writers this can be especially true when we go from not declaring income and/or expenses on our tax return to doing just that, especially if writing is our first and only hobby or business. The impact extends from pushing us into another tax break or providing us with enough loses to do the reverse. From having to calculate depreciation on capital assets to paying additional Social Security and Medicare taxes.

Accurate recording keeping is a must, especially as your income tax return becomes more complicated, which is typically the result of becoming a published writer with income and/or expenses. If you’ve been keeping proper records all year long then this will lend itself to a straight forward and timely assessment of your personal and writing tax profile, which in turn will allow you to make adjustments as needed. Most people who earn money as an employee don’t realize that the income tax system is actually a quarterly system but once you start a business or hobby, such as writing, this will become quite evident.

If this sounds complicated, that’s because it can become quite complicated. So, in addition to your annual health checkup you need annual, if not quarterly, tax and financial checkups.

And you thought all you had to do was write!

Monday, November 21, 2011

What's your favorite e-reader? Kindle, Nook, Playbook or ?

With Christmas coming and a convenient Dec. 7 birthday, the holiday sales are giving me a severe case of e-reader envy. I have an Adobe-based reader, which is not bad, but the battery doesn't seem to last long enough and takes for-ev-er to charge....

Having looked at a Blackberry Playbook (16gb) on sale for half it's original price (now $199) I admit I was hooked. How cool... then I started looking around, and the one drawback - that it only will download Kobo ebooks - and then you can't read others from other sources - has kind of soured me on that for e-reading. Cool that it has a camera, but I have a good camera for my writing purposes...

Nook Color looks pretty cool, especially since, as I've read, the SD card will expand it into a tablet-like device.

And then there's Kindle, too...

Decisions, decisions.... so figured I'd see what everyone else is using....

What's your favorite e-reader model, and why? How do you use it? Any drawbacks?

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Holiday Season

I can't believe it's this time of year already. As slow as time seems to drag by while I'm at work during the week, looking at the big picture it's hard to believe that not only has November arrived, but is more than halfway over. Where has the year gone?

With Thanksgiving less than a week away, the holiday season really is upon us. The stores are filled with frozen turkeys, sweet potatoes, corn, the makings for green been casserole, and pumpkin pies. Cornucopias, mums, and corn stalks grace houses, stores, and even lampposts...

Oh, no, wait. Most of the stores and lampposts are already graced with all the trimmings of Christmas (And have been since Halloween). Not to mention the white lights adorning the trees downtown in my town. Which kind of cheeses me off. I adore Christmas and all that goes along with it (the birth of the Christ-child, decs, music, cookies, presents), but it really needs to wait its turn.

I want to fully appreciate the calm and peacefulness of Thanksgiving first. I want to enjoy time with my family and friends: sharing laughs, memories, blessings. I want to smell the turkey in the oven and taste the spices of pumpkin and apple pies. I want to crunch through the leaves on the way back to the car, so stuffed I'll swear I'll never eat again: until those yummy leftovers come out the next day, and I can savor the bliss of a turkey club sandwich.

So, to you and yours, I wish you a blessed, thankful, and relaxing Thanksgiving this week.

Until next time,


Saturday, November 19, 2011

A Visit to the Vatican by Margot Justes

I booked a tour to the Vatican, for my next visit I will buy tickets ahead of time and go on my own. Spend time at my leisure and not worry about tour.

We had 10 minutes in the Sistine Chapel, that was just about enough time to walk across the rectangular Chapel, try not to bump anyone in the process and barely see the ceiling, much less the walls.

That being said, the Chapel is stunning. As I looked up at the magnificent ceiling I wondered how Michelangelo could survive such an ordeal, to create those stunning images laying on his back for hours on end. The nine frames on the ceiling tell the story of creation , Adam and Eve and Noah. The altar wall depicts the Last Judgment, filled with fire and brimstone. The Chapel simply takes your breath away.

St. Peter's Basilica is enormous, everything is made from marble, it is magnificent and filled with unbelievable treasures, chief among them is Michelangelo's deeply moving Pieta. Now hidden behind glass and high enough to keep people from getting too close.

My first view of the Pieta was many, many years ago and back then you could get close, within touching range, but an idiot took a hammer to the Pieta and caused quite a bit of damage. Now it is protected from harm and humanity.

Vatican is a living, breathing museum and very little can be seen in five hours, when you take into account the enormous size of the place and the multitude of visitors, and let's not forget the tour group you're with.

What I should have done was stay on my own after the tour ended, but I didn't think of it until after I got back. By the time I got back to the hotel it was almost three in the afternoon, I was tired and hungry- heaven forbid I should miss a meal-so I went up to the terrace restaurant and had a delicious late lunch.

Till next time,
Margot Justes
A Hotel in Paris

Thursday, November 17, 2011

A Watercolor Experience by DL Larson

A week ago I ventured into a new world, the world of watercolor painting. My art skills include drawing a heart, a happy face and maybe an occasional star, but that's about it. I have no talent in this area, but I still wanted to learn something new.

The instructor said we would be drawing butterflies and shapes. Already I was panic stricken - a butterfly meant two sides pretty much the same. Identical! I'd never get it right. Then Marcee, our instructor, said we could trace if we wanted to and the entire class gave up a big sigh. I wasn't the only one ready to bolt for the door. Marcee laughed and told us to relax, this would be fun.

As I stewed over which butterfly to trace, I realized she wanted us not to get hung up on the perfection of the piece, but to become excited in the process of learning a new technique. I drew a circle on my paper using the lip of a saucer; I traced my butterfly into the cirle I had made; I used only the outside shape of the butterfly and went rogue with the shapes of the wings. It was a challenge in balance, but one I enjoyed. The rest of the paper was for me to do as I pleased.

For a writer, I was pretty dissapointed I couldn't think of any interesting shapes to draw. I settled for wavy lines that ended up looking like ribbons floating in the background of my butterfly. I have no idea how I came up with that idea and that small part of the creative process reminded me of writing and how sometimes, if I am really lucky the best idea just floats into my brain and it's on the paper before it can escape. My background appeared and it was good. Simple, but it had character.

Then Marcee had us paint our picture with water. I felt about three years old painting with no paint, but Marcee wasn't finished, far from it and she distributed dabs of colorful pigment on saucers and instructed us to wash the background with whatever colors we wanted. Except I didn't know what I wanted; I felt unsure and hesitant and only after mulling things over with the rest of the class and each of us deciding what color our butterflies would be could we decide on the background. And just like in writing, the layering process began, one light stoke at a time.

I used washed out colors, then more solid pigment and salt. I never knew one used salt in watercolor painting. The salt reacted to the wet paint and little explosions of color expanded and grew, the colors blending and bleeding into one another in exciting ways. The process gave the picture depth and a richness it lacked before. I really felt like an artist creating something original.

Once the watery paint and salt dried, I moved onto another layer of detailing, much like writers do in filling in the story or plot to make the images more prominent. I grew bolder with the paint, making my lines of ribbon stand out then fade only to stand out again. The butterfly ended up with more than three layers of detail with straight pigment, the bold blending with the washed out colors in ways I never imagined it could.

I used too much pigment and ended up with a blob of navy blue where it didn't belong. Marcee showed me how to wash it away and fix it the way I wanted it to look. I learned there was no wrong way to paint with watercolors. I could always fix what I didn't like. Even after it had dried comepletely. Another similarity with writing.

In the end, I let Marcee detail in the tiny features of my butterfly, her hand is much steadier than mine. I watched her deftly dab paint and a face appeared. She recommended I add bits of green and yellow flowers and vines to the background within the circle where my butterfly was. Again I applied muted colors, barely recognizable, but the contrast added depth to the plain background. The butterfly grew more distinguished and life-like with something for it to rest upon.

I realize one night of painting does not make me a painter, anymore than one day of writing makes me an author. But by being adventurous in trying something different, I have expanded my knowledge and that will enhance my writing skills.

And that is good!

Til next time ~

DL Larson

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

She's Back!

You probably know I received my rights back for my romantic comedy, Girl of My Dreams, during the summer. It took me a while to get to it, but I finally did a new edit and set up a reverted rights edition this past weekend. It's now available on Kindle and at Smashwords, each for 99 cents.

What Girl of My Dreams by Morgan Mandel is about:

A temp's good deed goes horribly awry when she subs for a cast member in a reality show to win the prize of a billionaire.

All Jillian wants to do is save the producer from an embarrassing situation. All he wants to do is strangle her for her deceit.

The show must go on, despite the tension between the two. Though Jillian wants to get in and get out, instead she advances in the rounds.

Will she win the billionaire? Does she want him, or is it the producer she's really after?

If you have a kindle or have ordered one & it's on the way, here's the buy link:

Smashwords offers several formats. Here's their link:

Thanks to everyone who will order the current edition and anyone who ordered Girl of My Dreams when it was first released in 2008.

Coming later is a print version, but I have other books to release electronically first.

Monday, November 14, 2011

My Name is Chris and I'm A....

Yup, I confess.

I'm a bookaholic.

I realize this as I'm trying to clear out bookcases and make room for my other obsession - miniatures, also known as "too much stuff."

Every garage sale, every yard sale, every church sale, every thrift store, every mention I read online of a book, I check it out.

Sometimes, no, make that a lot of times, I buy. Hence, I now have eight plastic bags (and counting) to take to the thrift store to recycle. I do want to check first if the local homeless shelter would like some. I would so much rather take them where someone would appreciate them.

As I sort, I realize there are a lot of books that maybe looked good before, but I know won't get read. Books are like clothes, tastes change. What once looked good, no longer does. :>)

So the sporadic sort, which often feels more like moving stuff from one room to another. But at least this time some of it is moving out. Progress. On another thought as I sort - yes, maybe eBooks do have advantages after all. (My books and eBooks are on my website.)

And hey, while you roll your eyes, I dare you: make your own confession. What do you have too much of? I'm not the only semi-hoarder, er, collector, around. (Weight, wrinkles or gray hairs don't count.) Fess up.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

A Writer's Muse

A writer's muse is a strange thing. Sometimes it's so elusive no amount of hunting and searching is ever going to find it. Sometimes it's like a waterfall, coming so quickly it's difficult to keep up with the deluge.

Since summer, my muse has been in hiding. I haven't been able to find it with a fine tooth comb. Then, last week, for whatever reason, the damn broke. I think I mentioned last week that I had outlined (roughly) ideas for two stories. (I never, ever outline...I am completely a pantster, so that in and of itself was a minor miracle.)

A week later, I have 5,000 words written for one of the stories. Now, I know what you're thinking, especially those of you doing NaNoWriMo this month...5,000 words in a week is nothing. Y'all probably write that in a day. But for me, this is really something. It feels so great to be putting words down on paper again.

If that weren't enough, midweek I got an e-mail from an editor at Wild Rose who was considering a submission. She said that while she enjoyed the story and my writing in general, she didn't think it was ready to be published, but would love to look at it again if I did some rewrites. At first I was devastated. I mean after all, I had put my heart and soul into it the first time. Now I had to change it? Fix it? How in the world was I going to do that?

But the more I let the idea sit, the more I realized what a wonderful opportunity this was. I was being given the chance to take a good story and make it better. Maybe even make it great. Now that's nothing to sneeze at. But where to start? She mentioned a lot of things she thought needed tightening and of them one of the driving forces (or so I thought) of the plot. Then last night, lightning struck. Out of the blue, it came to me. I knew how I was going to approach the story from a slightly different angle...keeping all of the parts I loved (my characters, the setting, the conflict...), but making it stronger. I sat down and scribbled five handwritten pages of notes.

So now I have a short story to finish, a full-length novel to revise and rewrite, and I still have another idea poking at me.

I'm telling you, when it rains it pours.

Until next time,

Happy Reading!

Available now: A Christmas to Remember

Saturday, November 12, 2011

More Travel by Margot Justes

The second day in Rome started with a scrumptious breakfast at the hotel. Just the selection of coffee was impressive, from an espresso, to cappuccino, a French Press or settle for the American brew. I started with the French Press, got my own pot and steaming hot was off to great start.

Next came the bread selection, from flaky croissants, to baguettes and everything in between, to puff pastry sweet rolls. I was in heaven. Let's not forget the cheeses, from a triple cream Brie to goat and pecorino selections. Let's just say I was going to have to walk a lot. They even had dates and figs, along with eggs, omelets, sausages, fruit, and the usual gamut of buffet selections. I ended my meal with a cappuccino and a sweet roll with ricotta cheese. I did finish the pot of coffee did not go to waste.

Next on the agenda, was a tour to the Vatican. To save time, I booked the tour with American Express while still at home. The bus arrived promptly and off we were to the Vatican, or so I thought.

Instead we were deposited at the offices of the tour company and waited while they figured out how many buses they would need. Buses and tourists were everywhere, sort of like the United Nations-many languages were heard and it was fun trying to identify them. I even followed a couple who spoke French. I tend to do that whenever I hear the language, besides not much was going on.

About twenty minutes later we were assigned a bus number that was supposed to be for English speaking tourists. We headed toward the bus, the number matched but the language did not-Spanish-read the big sign. We stopped in front of the bus and waited.

A little debate ensued between the tour guides, signs were switched and we boarded the bus, a bit apprehensive we hoped it was the right one. When the guide spoke in English we heaved a sigh of relief; we were on the right bus and finally on the way to the Vatican.

Even with a tour group, there was a delay in getting in. We first had to stop and get our headsets, make sure they all worked; when you have a bus full of people it takes a bit of time. Not to mention there were many tour groups.

Once we were all set, we followed the guide and headed toward the entrance, always making sure her red umbrella held high could be seen. You do not want to be separated from your guide, and believe me, it is easy to do.

The winding double line moved slowly, but no one seemed to mind. The tour guide stated that 25,000 tourists visit the Vatican daily. I can understand why, it is an amazing place and impossible to see in one day, much less 5 hours.

Till next time,
Margot Justes
A Hotel in Paris

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Authors, Pay Attention To Your Animals

Morgan Mandel with Rascal
 Since I own a dog named Rascal, or should I say she owns me, I bond with animal lovers in fiction and in real life. I don't purposely seek books with animals included, but consider it an added perk if I find one. Somehow the characters with animals, even if they're villains, seem more human, as long as they treat their animals right. In Killer Career, a dog is mistreated by a villain, but the hero and heroine save it in the nick of time.

One thing I don't like is a storyline where an animal is introduced, yet the author doesn't pay attention to it. Sometimes it seems a dog is completely forgotten in the plot, and never seems to go out or get a walk. Or, a cat is never mentioned when the person comes home and the poor cat has no litterbox.

Later, conveniently the pet may be trotted out when the author remembers, oh yes, maybe I better say something about that animal I stuck in here to lure animal lovers to my book.

All I have to say about that is Authors, Pay Attention To Your Animals!

Are there any books with animals in them which you like, or have you noticed instances where authors don't pay attention to their animals?

Killer Career is 99 cents on
Kindle and Smashwords.
Forever Young-Blessing or Curse
is Coming Soon to Kindle and
Smashwords, as are the re-releases
of Girl of My Dreams and Two Wrongs.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

When Inspiration Strikes

A couple of months ago my publisher, The Wild Rose Press, put out a call for submissions for a millionaire series it's doing for the Champagne (contemporary) line. Being a Champagne author, I thought this really should be something I should try to participate in. I thought of an idea, made some notes, wrote about a dozen pages...and that's as far as I've gotten. The story is sort of there in my head, but I just have no motivation to get it down on paper (or on screen as the case is nowadays). Writing time has been short these days as well, so that's not helping either. Another part of the problem is I don't write books like that. I like rustic, good ol' boy stories. My millionaire actor just wasn't fitting the bill.

Then today, out of the blue inspiration struck for a Thanksgiving story. I know it's too late to get anything done with it this year, but I've started sowing the seeds for next year's harvest, so to speak. I've never given much thought to writing a Thanksgiving story, but all of a sudden, I had the perfect idea for one.

And then while I was on the treadmill listening to a Toby Keith CD, another idea started to form. I've always been inspired by music, and had often thought how one song in particular would make a great story. Today I went so far as to do a page and a half of type-written notes as a rough outline. Usually I'm a pantster, so this was a big surprise.

So now I have two ideas spinning in my head, neither of which have anything to do with a millionaire.

But lately I've come across several blog posts about writing the story of your heart. And it makes a lot of sense.

Will anything come of these story ideas? Maybe. Maybe not. But since inspiration has finally struck, I'm not going to ignore it.

Until next time,

Happy Reading!

Now available in e-format: A Christmas to Remember

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Travel by Margot Justes

I haven't posted a blog for a while, thought I'd be able to do it while on vacation...I was wrong.

The flight to Rome left on time, the plane was half full, or empty depending on how you see it, and we landed on time, eight in the morning. Italian customs process not a breeze, long lines that moved at a snail's pace, but it was expected and the process seemed exciting, because Roma was waiting for me.

I arranged for a driver before leaving home and was happy to see him. I recognized him immediately, he was holding a plaque with my name plastered on it...even for me it was hard to miss. Things were good.

The hotel room was not ready, but they promised a lovely room and stored the baggage. I was free to spend my first day in Rome, and since the hotel was within walking distance of practically everything, especially the Spanish Steps, I headed there first, but not before stopping for an espresso.

Did you know that Italians stand at a counter and gulp their espresso. I found out that if you stand the price is cheaper than if you sit down at a table. It was the quick inhale of the brew that had me amazed, like a shot. I savored mine.

I made it down the Spanish steps, many, many steps, walked around all the lovely little cobble stone streets. Amazingly enough the locals wore heels and the cobblestones had big gaps between them. I watched how well they maneuvered to miss what looked like pot holes. Most tourists knew better and wore comfortable shoes.

Stopped at a lovely outdoor cafe and had lunch, was serenaded by a couple of tenors, after they passed a hat and demanded a tip, they moved on to the next cafe.

The Sofitel delivered as promised-we has a suite, absolutely gorgeous with a balcony and a fantastic view of Rome, and there was a Nespresso machine in the room, so I could enjoy delicious coffee at will. The stay at the Sofitel was simply amazing, I would recommend the hotel without any reservations on my part-you need to make reservations to actually stay there.

What a terrific start to the vacation...more next week

Till next time,
Margot Justes
A Hotel in Paris

Thursday, November 3, 2011

What Would You Teach Another Writer? by DL Larson

Some writers are teachers, others help aspiring authors when asked, some feel they don't want to muddle the process of learning by injecting their own opinions on how to accomplish the task of writing.

Then comes the times when we wish we could be the teachers so our own pet peeves could be relieved. Once and for all, we could explain to all writers "this is a better way to do that, not the way you are doing it!"

So, if you could teach other writers a better way to do something, what would it be? What would you like other writers to know? What would YOU teach?

To answer my own question, I would teach a course on Character Building. I would relate character making to learning a dance. Each step leads into the next and the next, seemingly flawless as it progresses. The best characters are not flawless, they are not stunningly beautiful or brawny, they have troubles, and the closer a writer becomes to his/her character, the deeper the emotions, the more meaningful each flaw becomes. The more depth a character has, the more involved the reader will be. Complexity takes on new meaning when dealing with a character's personality. A leading character has many layers, and I would have my students fill out a profile for each character they are planning to create:

Character Questionaire:
* Name, age, race
* Physical Description: sex, eye color, hair color, physique, scars or other distinguishable markings; other physical traits - bad knee, poor eye sight, etc. How does he talk - drawl, street slick, up-tight? How does your character dress:
* Pets: past or present
* Family: build a history of family - good and bad, names, location of home, etc.
* Favorite music: be specific - this may help develop your character quirks, endearments, etc.
* Eating habits: likes/dislikes; does he eat by himself, go home to family? eat on the run? Everybody eats - make this as specific as possible
* Sleeping habits: is he restless, sound sleeper, nap?
* Mode of preferred transportation: horses? bikes? trains? How does your character move from point A to point B?
* Any hobbies: sailing, boxing, knitting?
* Any habits: smoking, chewing gum, nail biting?
* Favorite sayings: swearing or cursing? slang or other current sayings?
* Favorite hero: who would your character look up to? why?

Emotional Questionaire:
* Name your character's insecurities: what is your character worried about? List at least three.
* What does your character yearn for: understanding? money? love? justice? Explain in detail.
* What does your character fear: a spouse? police? demons? children? failure? success?
* What does your character dream about: this may already be answered in the above questions, if so, find a deeper level of understanding to relate to your readers.
*What will it take to make your character grow or feel he succeeded in his conflicts: catch the bad guys, find justice served, overcome a fear he's harbored too long, find his truelove, etc.

Once this generic profile is complete, then I would explain this is the starting point in describing a character for a book. This is the tip of the pencil, not the completed character. Now, as a writer, you have something to work with and develop. Give this character conflict worthy of his existence. Give him something to do, accomplish or learn. In other words, make him real. Give him life and allow him to move about and think for himself.

What would you teach other writers? Share with us!

Til next time ~

DL Larson

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Do You Make Your Characters Sick?

I may have mentioned this somewhere before, but if so, I don't remember where.
I can be mean. I like to make my characters sick.

In Two Wrongs, my debut mystery, which will soon be re-published on Kindle,  I gave the villain dyslexia. 

In Killer Career, I let my main character get hypoglycemia, which I suffered from for a while myself. I've since learned how to control it.

(Still 99 cents on Kindle and Smashwords, more in print)

In my soon to be published, Forever Young - Blessing or Curse, I let one of the villains get bitten by a dog, resulting in hopeless disfigurement to his face. I was also bitten by a dog, but fortunately, I receipt prompt attention from a plastic surgeon and am none the worse for wear from the experience.

Morgan Mandel

What about you? Do you make your characters sick? Or, do you know someone who does?