Tag Archive | characters

Saying Goodbye and Hello

Well it’s time to say goodbye to author Carlie M A Cullen as the blog tour for her third book, Heart Search: Betrayal, comes to a close. And since she’s finished her trilogy and is facing the prospect of having to start again with whole new characters, I asked her opinion of the change. Here is her response…

 

Call me a wuss if you like, but I get quite sentimental about my characters. I get attached to them and they become members of my family, even if they do only exist in my head. The longer I’m with certain characters, the harder it is to let them go and this was brought home to me in an almost brutal way when I finished my Heart Search trilogy.

Even though I’d written ‘The End’, I still had all the revisions and edits to go through, so my characters were right alongside me, telling me what changes to make and where to leave well alone. When the final proofread had been completed and the book was ready to be launched like an ICBM on an unsuspecting public, someone turned to me and asked if I would miss my characters. Until that moment, I hadn’t thought about losing them and the idea came as quite a shock.

These wonderful people I’d created: Remy, Joshua, Jakki, Becky, Ashley, Aidan, Samir et al were part of me and had been since 2010 – the thought of ‘losing them’ was anathema to me. How could I lose them? Yet to move on and make room for new characters, I had to say goodbye to these people who had become real in so many ways and it was painful. It felt like a bereavement, but without the pomp and rigidity of a church funeral to go with it. The pain was physical for a few hours, something I wasn’t prepared for, as some outside force ripped them from my head. However, they’re not ripped from my heart. There will always be a very special corner allocated to Remy, Josh, and the others and I will never forget them!

Yet now, even as I say hello to new characters and get to know them, the ghosts of Remy and Joshua are still floating in the background, until I dive into writing my new novel, a standalone fantasy, and then I forget them for a while as the new characters take pole position.

Creating the characters for my new book has been a great distraction. They are so different in every way from the vampire culture created in the Heart Search series. There are no vampires in the worlds I’ve built. There are creatures of my own design and my main character is the lovely lady I use as my avatar. It’s exciting to explore these new worlds and getting to know the people who inhabit it – the good and the bad. It’s fun to write real bad guys and feisty women who can fight back with swords and other weapons. It’s so completely dissimilar and I’m really enjoying the challenge of it.

Advertisements

Review of ‘Huw the Bard’ by Connie J. Jasperson

For those of you who saw my post on Friday, I recently proofread a book called Huw the Bard, for my good friend Connie J. Jasperson. Now, before this book gets launched TOMORROW, I have a little treat for you!

HTB Front Cover

‘Huw the Bard’ by Connie J. Jasperson

Book Review

The youngest master in the Bards Guild, eighteen-year-old Huw Owyn is at the top of his craft. But the artists’ quarter catches fire, forcing Huw to flee the burning city. The turmoil and panic involved in the spread of the fire is portrayed extremely clearly, and you sympathise with all those caught up in it.

The action at the start of the book sets up everything that is to follow. We see Huw’s pain, and grieve with him, at the loss of the rest of the Bard’s Guild – including his own father, the Guild Master. The pain is very real, and while I was proofreading this book, I occasionally had tears streaming down my face. We feel his anger when he learns it wasn’t an accident, and his terror of being discovered as he tries to escape. It’s a 200-league walk, as the crow flies, to the one place he might have a friend, though the path Huw must take is anything but straight and he must face many hardships along the way.

Throughout his journey, we watch Huw grow from a young, vain man used to being the center of attention, into a courageous man who finds he is capable of far more than he ever believed possible. The way Mrs. Jasperson does this is so life-like, you often expect him to leap off the page. But her amazing characterisation isn’t limited to the main protagonist, the vast array of supporting cast have all received the same attention to detail; regardless of how much time the reader spends with them, you immediately get a sense of who they are.

Although this sounds like a ‘journey of self-discovery’, it is far more than that. There is enough adventure spread throughout to satisfy all but the most bloodthirsty of readers, while not being too gory for those that aren’t partial to violence.

Now, of course, this is a fantasy book, so where would a review be without at least mentioning some of the weird and wonderful creatures Huw encounters on his journey into the wild northlands, the one possible place of safety for him. I could talk about the stupendous firedrake, which is pretty much a small version of a mythical dragon, or the ginormous wood-wraith which looked like an extremely tall tree unless you saw the eyes, or maybe even the fire-sprites. They may not be all that large, even look quite cute, but they’re viciously lethal – so venomous that you have to wash a sword in water at least two times before it is safe enough to sheath after killing one.

There is a wide spread of diverse issues addressed in this story. From murder and rape, to treason, and even homosexuality – all are handled with the utmost delicacy by Jasperson so you know exactly how her characters feel about each of them, as well as society’s view, through the eyes of Huw and the narrator. The author has hit the perfect balance in every aspect of this book. I can’t wait to see what else is in store in the rest of the series.

A superb 5 STARS from me!

I hope this has whetted your appetite ahead of the launch tomorrow. Come back here in the morning to find the links to this amazing novel on Amazon!

Cover Reveal!

Well… it’s that time again. Time to drive all my lovely readers insane!

I’m sure you remember a competition I advertised a couple of weeks ago. My good friend, author Carlie M. A. Cullen, was looking for a name for one of the characters in her upcoming sequel Heart Search: Found. She obviously found one she liked, because she’s pushing full-steam ahead to launch it!

Today, on various blogs, the cover of book 2 is being unveiled!

 

 

Blurb

One bite started it all . . .

Another mysterious disappearance sparks a frightening chain of events for Remy and her family. Events foretold come to pass, and more strange and alarming occurrences assail her life. Where can she turn?

Coven politics continue to threaten Joshua’s existence, but an even bigger menace looms . . .

And Remy’s life hangs in the balance – can Joshua save her?

Fate still toys with mortals and immortals alike, as hearts torn apart by darkness confront perils which could lead to their doom.

Now…

What would a reveal be without a little teaser to whet your appetite?

As you will know if you’ve read book 1 – Heart Search: Lost, there was an opening poem, written specially for the book by yours truly. That poem highlighted the most key theme in the book. So, to get things going, here’s the opening poem for book 2.

 

An unexpected caller,

her familiar face;

careworn and drawn.

 

My fingers twitch; her hair curls,

obscures her sight.

Car keys jingle, she trembles;

my hand reaches for her – drops.

 

Pain; heartbreak shines

in her eyes, reflecting mine.

Guilt shreds my frozen heart

burns clear the ice

encasing my love.

 

A gulf between us,

insurmountable differences.

Outside agents conspired,

innocents crushed.

 

As hearts leap the chasm,

bodies forcibly divided

yearn to be united.

 

A little obscure, isn’t it? I must admit, I do want to get you thinking. When you look closely at a poem you can often find a lot more than you first thought.

But… that’s not the only part you get to see. Check out the following blogs below, who are also involved in the reveal today – some even have a small excerpt from the book!

Donna L Sadd

Joy Keeney

Sherry Fundin

Deborah Jay

And you must check out the author’s blog – Carlie M. A. Cullen has a special treat for all her readers. She has unveiled the prologue as well as the cover!

Keep an eye out… The trailer won’t be too far away!

If you’ve missed out on book 1 – Heart Search: Lost, or the anthology The Other Way is Essex, click on the images below, which will take you directly to their Amazon pages.

Heart Search Test Cover 300ppi     Essex front only copy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Carlie M. A. CullenHEADSHOT

Carlie M A Cullen was born in London. She grew up in Hertfordshire where she first discovered her love of books and writing. She has been an administrator and marketer all her working life and was also a professional teacher of Ballroom and Latin American dancing until recently.

She has always written in some form or another, but Heart Search: Lost is her first novel. This was launched 8th October 2012 through Myrddin Publishing Group and book two, Heart Search: Found, is due out early July 2013. She writes mainly in the Fantasy/Paranormal Romance genres for YA, New Adult and Adult.

Carlie is also a professional editor.

Carlie also holds the reins of a writing group called Writebulb. Their first anthology, The Other Way Is Essex, was published September 2012 under Myrddin Publishing Group. Their second anthology, Creepy Tales for Boyz and Ghouls, is in editing.

Carlie currently lives in Essex, UK with her daughter.

 

If you want to stalk/find her, check out the links below.

Website: http://carliemacullen.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/carlie2011c

Facebook: Carlie M A Cullen

 

The Descriptive Balancing Act

One of the hardest parts about writing is getting the level of detail correct. If you don’t describe something well enough, how are the readers supposed to connect to it? On the other hand, if you describe too much they will give up reading it completely.

It has always been a balancing act, between description and plot. One thing you need to remember though is that a story should always be either plot or character driven; it cannot be driven on description. The whole point of description is to paint the scene. Think of a painting of a woman. Is it interesting if she is standing in a white canvas, nothing around her? Not really. But is it interesting if she is standing in the middle of a huge crowd, or a forest, so you can barely see her? No. An author has to try to find the middle ground, just like with that painting.

So how do you use enough description to show the scene without overwhelming it?

Step One. Focus on telling the story. You can always go back and add more detail later if it’s needed.

Step Two. Try to be realistic. Don’t put in fancy words and elaborate phrasing just because it sounds good or you think it will stun the reader with your eloquence. Look at this phrase from the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest. http://www.bulwer-lytton.com/2011win.html

The Los Angeles morning was heavy with smog, the word being a portmanteau of smoke and fog, though in LA the pollutants are typically vehicular emissions as opposed to actual smoke and fog, unlike 19th-century London where the smoke from countless small coal fires often combined with fog off the Thames to produce true smog, though back then they were not clever enough to call it that.

Now a) this sentence is way too long, which makes it difficult to follow from one end to the other, and b) you only need the first 8 words. Who doesn’t know what smog is? Who doesn’t know this author is referring to the car emissions? It is unnecessary detail. And the reference to 19th-century London? This would only be relevant if this were in a Historical Fiction novel or something similar, rather than being a throw-away comment on what real smog should be.  The author should just say “The Los Angeles morning was heavy with smog,” and then move on with the story. We all know what it looks like, and those 8 words conjure enough of a picture for us to understand the scene.

Step Three. Think about your characters. How do they act, think, feel? When they do or say something can you see their personality, their motivation, their feeling behind it? You don’t need whole paragraphs to do this unless it is a scene that calls for it, e.g. when someone is crushed by grief and the emotions are overwhelming everything – including the story, sometimes all you need is a word or two. Look at this example from Heart Search: Lost by Carlie M. A. Cullen.

“I don’t know what to say,” he moaned, anguish still apparent in his tone.

The male protagonist has just accidentally hurt his partner. You can see with just a few words how much it has affected him and how he feels about it. This tells you a lot about his character, how caring and gentle he is, and how much he loves her.

Step Four. Before sending it off to an editor, give it a read through and ask yourself “Is this something I would like to read?” If the answer is no, then ask yourself why.

Four easy steps to follow towards a balanced story. Of course, there are exceptions to every rule, but even for the exceptions there is a rule.

The Rule. If you are going to break a rule, make sure you do it well enough that nobody cares!

Let’s look at two classic examples of this – C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien. Tolkien is known for his amazing scenes. Pick up The Lord of the Rings and you will find description on top of description. Even when they take up the entire page, it doesn’t feel too heavy. This is partly because of the length of the book, and partly because of the way he makes the scenes come to life. You don’t notice how long the descriptive passages are when you are lost within the world he has created.

On the south-eastern side the ground fell very steeply, as if the slopes of the hill were continued far down under the trees, like island-shores that really are the sides of a mountain rising out of deep waters.

Lewis is the exact opposite. Read The Chronicles of Narnia and you will see how little description he actually uses. The fact that this is a children’s book helps. A person’s imagination is most vivid as a child. He gives just enough detail to release the child to see the rest. He makes the reader the describer, letting them go where they want with only a little nudge. In The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe most things and people are described, but not until you are half-way through the final chapter do you learn anything about the four main characters.

And they themselves grew and changed as the years passed over them. And Peter became a tall and deep-chested man and a great warrior, and he was called King Peter the Magnificent. And Susan grew into a tall and gracious woman with black hair that fell almost to her feet … Edmund was a graver and quieter man than Peter, and great in council and judgement. He was called King Edmund the Just. But as for Lucy, she was always gay and golden-haired…

 

So now you know the steps to follow, you are half-way to having a decent novel which will engage your readers. Don’t forget that you should ALWAYS send it off to a professional editor – NEVER try to do it yourself!

Remember The Rule and happy writing!