The Doctor and River Song

The Doctor and River Song in The Name of the Doctor

If you are a Doctor Who fan then you either love River Song or you hate her. Is there an in between? I happen to love her. She is tough, smart, sassy, and can slap the doctor silly. (I hear actress Alex Kingston doesn’t pull her punches.) I hope to see more of her in the future with the 12th Doctor. Or would that be the past? Her past maybe. It’s all a bit wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey, isn’t it? Sorry if that reference doesn’t make sense to non-Whovians, but basically the Doctor is a Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey who travels through space and time in his TARDIS and protects Earth from alien invasions. He can live for hundreds of years and cheats death by turning himself into a new actor. 😉 River is also a time traveler. She and the Doctor don’t always meet in the right order, which makes dating and marriage difficult though they seem to manage. It’s really quite fun.

Anyway, I’ve been trying to study the chemistry between the 11th Doctor and River to find out what makes them such a great couple. Definitely the banter.

From the Impossible Astronaut:

Doctor: [smugly, just after explaining how he determined where the mysterious phone calls to President Nixon were originating from] …And Doctor Song, you’ve got that face on again.

River Song: [bemused] What face?

Doctor: The ‘He’s-hot-when-he’s-clever’ face.

River Song: This is my normal face!

Doctor [even more smugly]: Yes it is.

River Song: Oh, shut up.

Doctor: [smiling] Not a chance.

Also from the Impossible Astronaut:

Doctor: Shout if you get into trouble.

River Song: Don’t worry. I’m quite the screamer. Now there’s a spoiler for you.

But what else is going on that draws viewers in? I ask because I’m creating characters right now where the hero is a scientist, a thinker, a brainiac and the heroine is a warrior. It didn’t dawn on me until a few days ago that my couple sounded like the Doctor and River…well minus the time traveling, and the living for hundreds of years…and oh, a lot of other stuff. The question is how do I make my pair a winning combination? How do you make a warrior heroine tough but not over the top? How do you make a scientist hero clever but not annoyingly so? How do I make each vulnerable for the other (yes, it’s a romance…with action-adventure and a bit of sci-fi)? I’d love to hear your thought in the comments section even if you don’t have advice to share and just want to talk about Doctor Who. 🙂

Anyone know what time the 50th Anniversary special is supposed to air in NJ?

By the way,  happy to report that my sci-fi romance Captive (book #1 in the Survival Race series) is now available at Amazon UK!

~K.M. Fawcett

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No More Bookstores?

The mere title of today’s blog sends me into cold sweats because I am a lover of books. I shudder to think what a life without bookstores would be like. A few words that instantly come to mind are: cold, sad and depressing.

We didn’t have a lot of money when I was young, so I didn’t venture into a bookstore until I got my first job in Manhattan. Entering that store was an out of body experience for me. I spent more lunch hours than I care to admit, surrounded by books, than living breathing colleagues.

As a writer, it’s important to keep up with your genre, and the quantity of new releases can add up quickly, and I was running out of shelf space. So, my husband gave me a kindle last year. I find it extremely helpful especially when traveling, instead of packing five or six books, which take up a lot of room, I can pack more clothes.

Now, a few year’s later after the battle of the big bookstore’s, I find it ironic that after putting all the small bookstore’s out of business, these large conglomerates have also put each other out of business, leaving us with one bookstore chain. One.  And I can’t help wonder how did this happen?

I talk to a lot of people who don’t buy ebooks. They want a print version. Not everyone has a computer, not everyone is going to buy a computer, and not everyone orders books on-line. So I think its always going to be important to supply readers with what they want. To do this, Amazon just isn’t going to be enough.

And one bookstore chain? Nope. I don’t think so.

Last week, a very good source told me that B&N closes twenty bookstores a year in the U.S. Call me an optimist, but I think it’s time for the re-emersion of the small bookstore. It’s time to get back in the game, boys. Whether they offer a little bit of everything, or specialize in certain genres: Children’s books, Romance, Mystery, Thrillers, Suspense, etc. I think people would welcome them back with open arms.

What do you think? Do you miss your local hometown bookstore? I know I do.

Best,

Cathy Tully

The Synopsis

The other day an editor I know asked permission to use my latest synopsis as part of a talk she had to give. I couldn’t believe what I was reading, because up to now, I always thought I stunk at writing synopses.

Who knew : ) She went on to say that it was the kind of construction she looked for but rarely received, so I thought I’d share the steps I take to write a synopsis with you.

When I began writing I was a pantser who  believed that plotting  inhibited my creative process. That’s probably why it took me a year and a half to write my first book, which I never sold.

As time passed, I began to realize that if I wanted to write more books faster, I needed to plan more and if I planned more, writing the synopsis at the end of a project might just be easier.  I’ve played with a few variations of my process over the years but here’s what I’ve found works best for me:

1- Before I start to write a book, I write a character analysis for my hero and heroine because the more I know about who they are, where they’ve been, and what they want, the easier it is to move onto the next step–

2-  I write down my hero/heroine’s goals/motivations & conflicts. Keep in mind, it’s very effective if your hero/heroine’s goals oppose each other (ex: he wants a stay at home wife and she wants a career).

3-Once I’ve established their goals/motivations & conflicts, I write a  chapter by chapter outline. Sometimes this is a bare bones outline, sometimes it’s in depth.  Now I can begin to write the book.

Once the book is finished, I pull out the chapter by chapter outline I did months ago. I pinpoint the most important plot points in the finished book, (only those events and motivations that moved the story forward in a major way), and incorporate them into the outline. Don’t forget to reveal the character’s emotions and motivations. (Leave out secondary characters, you’re only using bare bones here.)

Once I’ve tweaked the outline, I begin to write the synopsis (in present tense) by picking up all the important elements from the outline. I introduce the hero/heroine each in their own paragraph. As they’re introduced, I identify their goals, motivation and conflict in as few words as possible, 1-3 pages maximum.

Wow, talk about pressure.  But take heart. Writing a good synopsis is tons of work but you’re also creating a valuable marketing tool. A good synopsis may even help you discover your blurb or pitch, and in the end, you’ve honed your writing skills too.

Best,

Cathy Tully

What Are You Reading?

I’m in crazy writer’s mode this week, but I also need some downtime every night before I go to sleep. Reading something another person wrote is the best way to clear my head.  This week I’m lucky enough to be reading an advanced copy of Alone by Kendra Elliot (romantic suspense).  I’m only a quarter of the way thru, and I tell you, I’m dying to know who did it and why already!

Alone releases in January 2014.

Because I hate to waste time, I’m also listening to book on audio in the car and at the gym. This month’s choice is Shadow’s Edge by J. T. Geissinger (paranormal romance).  The gorgeous cover has tempted me  for a long time. I’m happy to say that the prose is simply beautiful, and the story is making me actually want to climb on the elliptical trainer – quite an accomplishment.

Now, tell me what you’re reading this weekend. Anything good?

 

Forbidden Love by Ellis Carrington

Forbidden LoveAs you all know, I’m a huge fan of gay romance. I love to read it and I write it. So, I figured I”d use my post today as a bit of blatant promotion for my my good friend, Ellis Carrington.  Ellis’s latest release is a novella entitled Forbidden Love (Amor Prohibido).  It’s a great story, in English not Spanish as the alternate title might imply, and it’s definitely worth checking out. Let me tell you a little bit about it.

Jacob Freehan has no job, no man, and no motivation. In pain both from ending a long-term abusive relationship and a severe back injury, he escapes to the sunny seaside town of Puerto Morelos, Mexico for a little yoga, a little R&R, and possibly a place to quietly end his own life.

Pakal is a centuries-old immortal Mayan spirit guide who has been charged with getting Jacob on the path toward healing. Romantic involvement with a spirit charge is strictly forbidden, and it has never been a problem…until now. Pakal sees something special in Jacob, but failure to keep a rapidly growing attraction at bay could result in Jacob losing his life and Pakal being condemned to the Underworld forever…

Now meet Ellis:

Romance requires a hopeful ending and that is why Ellis Carrington is driven to write it. She loves to create original stories that are gritty, witty, and a little unexpected, just like the heroes who inhabit them. Her guys come in both human and non-human form because spirit guides and vampires deserve love too. Her favorite things are great friends, great music, and books that make her laugh and cry like there’s no tomorrow. You can find out more about Ellis at her website, Twitter, or Facebook.

If you’re looking for a little man love mixed with your paranormal romance then check out Forbidden Love.

The Post Book Break

Aulani View

Most of September was a crazy month although the first week was pretty awesome. I spent the week in Hawaii.  Ah, so pretty and relaxing. While we were there we also went to Pearl Harbor. It was fascinating and sad all at one.  If you ever travel to  Hawaii it should absolutely be on your sightseeing list.

Then I came home and dove back into my manuscript. I am thrilled and excited to say that as of this weekend, I am finished and the book is off of my desk and onto my agent’s. I know it will boomerang back to me soon, but for right now I am taking a break.  This week it’s going to be me and my Xbox. I’m going into full gamer girl mode. Now that I’ve, at long last, hit the end I need to give my brain and my muse a vacation.  I’ll be refilling the creativity wells by immersing myself in the story of the game. That’s half the fascination of video games for me is the story.  The combination of the story and the fabulous graphics just transport me to another world. I can enjoy and relax and sometime get creeped out, but all in all I’m having fun.  While I’m distracted by games my subconscious is busy working on my next story.

So tell me fellow writers, what do you do for your post book break? Do you catch on missed television shows? Make a dent in the ever growing TBR pile? We all need to refill those creative stockpiles in between projects so please share how you recharge.

The Adam & Eve Approach to Character Development

“The Creation of Eve” by Paolo Caliari (1528-1588)

About a month ago I’d been asked the following question in an interview. “When you decided to develop a hero and a heroine, how does that process come about? Do you do the character sketch? Do you use real world influences?”

Sometimes I get an idea for a character and then create a story around them. Sometimes I get an idea for a story and then create a character to fit the story.

In Captive (book #1 in the Survival Race series) I had a story idea first and then created the characters to fit the story. The plot required a tortured alpha male whose humanity is stripped away. I created Max–the poor hero believes he’s nothing more than a beast–to fill this role. Then I had to figure out what kind of heroine could make him see he’s not a beast. He’s a good man worthy of love. So I created a strong, spirited heroine who could inspire Max.

The hero of Fearless (Survival Race #2) was introduced in Captive. His character was already partially formed so I needed to create a story around him. As I brainstormed the plot, I also brainstormed the kind of heroine he required. Since he wants revenge, he needed a heroine who could tame his lust for war and bring peace into his heart. His heroine was created especially for him, and new to the series. This couple was exciting to write about. The warlord and the spiritual healer have opposing goals, but we all know what happens to opposites, right? Sexual tension! The heat level is a bit steamier in Fearless than Captive.

While plotting Survival Race #3, I realized once again that I have a hero and a partial plot but no heroine. I actually went through three different heroines trying to figure out who would work best! The first two weren’t getting the job done. They were already established characters, but were not right for what the hero needed or what the plot needed…or, quite frankly, what I needed. Those heroines weren’t getting me excited to write the story. After much cogitating, I came up with a new character. This kick-butt alpha heroine is exactly what the hero needs, and boy is she going to be fun and exciting to write about. I can’t wait to see their tension ignite the page.

So what have I learned about my character development process? Apparently I take the Adam and Eve approach. I create the man first and then from the man create the perfect woman for him.

No matter how the character is born, I always do a character sketch to get to know each one better. A character sketch answers questions like what do they look like, what is their history, what are their fears/ likes/ dislikes, etc…  I’ve also taken bits and pieces from real world influences, but don’t tell my family or friends that. 😉

Readers – have you ever read about characters that were perfect for each other? Have you ever read about characters that weren’t and wondered why the author forced them together? Writers – What’s your process to character development? Do you do the character sketch? Do you use real world influences? Please leave your answers in the comments section.

~K.M. Fawcett

A Happy Ending

My need for a happily ever after is one of the reasons I decided to write romance; I can’t help myself, I love watching two people fall in love. From a writing standpoint, the most important thing about the ending of a book is that the issues between the hero/heroine all be resolved in a way that’s logical and satisfies the reader.

Two people who’ve hated each other through the course of the story and all of a sudden decide they’ve fallen in love halfway through the book, isn’t logical and doesn’t make sense. To prevent a contrived ending a writer must make sure the core vales of the hero/heroine are extremely different to the point that it’s impossible for them ever to compromise. For example, if he’s a cattle rancher, and she’s a vegetarian, there can’t be a middle ground for compromise.

In order for a happy ending to be believable and satisfying, the hero/heroine must make sacrifices for the sake of their love. Doing this establishes a basic equality, or meeting point. It also makes sense as to why they couldn’t solve their problems early in the story before they had a middle point and began to make sacrifices. Having your hero/heroine compromise gives a writer an opportunity to add an element of surprise to their story where the reader is left to think, ‘that’s a great ending, why didn’t I think of that?’

A clearly resolved ending doesn’t mean that only one of the characters can make a vow to act differently. A resolved ending must be when the hero/hero make sacrifices for the sake of each other and not just for themselves. This ending gives the reader satisfaction that the characters will be resentful later on about what he/she has given up. Also, the resolved ending must come about by the actions of the hero/heroine not through the interference of other secondary characters.

I like to test my happy endings by having a beta reader read the manuscript and ask them: Do you feel the hero/heroine are truly committed to each other?  Do you think they’ll be happy not just next year but in fifty years? Was there anywhere in the story where you weren’t satisfied? I find this feedback monumental to my editing process. Happy Writing!

Best,

Cathy Tully

Write What You Know

At an RWA national conference a few years ago, I sat in on a workshop that helped me understand what ‘write what you know’ means. In this workshop, we were all asked to write down every job we’ve ever had and the roles we’ve played in life throughout the years. I listed: Administrative Assistant to NY Fortune 500 Executive, Secretary in a pool of thirty, College student/graduate, receptionist at a veterinarian hospital, retail associate at a design store, owner of my own Interior Design business, Substitute teacher grades K-12, Girl Scout Leader, bridesmaid, maid of honor, mother, sister, wife, daughter, godmother, friend and aunt.

The speaker asked us to think about how we could use the professions we’ve spent time in as part of our books. Can our hero/heroine work in a field we’ve worked in? Can he/she be a parent? A scout leader? A teacher? An Admin? Instead of all those billionaires/tycoons in a lot of romances out there could we make him/her someone our reader could relate to so they could come to life on the page? The speaker then went on to explain that if you took what you know and incorporated it into your books, your writing voice be more genuine.

She encouraged our group to think about how our hero/heroine might become more relatable–more three-dimensional–and how it would be easier for your reader to sympathize with because they’re so real? Long after this workshop I thought about what the speaker had said and something clicked. It was my light bulb moment. So, I took her advice and incorporated a part of who I am into my next book, and like they say, the rest is history : )

My first book, All You Need Is Love features, Little Man, my family dog, who we lost to illness. It is the biggest tribute I can pay him and his cuteness jumps off every page. I love dogs, always have, and through no planning of my own, a dog pops up in every book I write. Dogs are better than secondary characters because they make people vulnerable without saying a word. We’re allowed to be our true selves around them without any judgment and their unconditional love brightens the darkest day.

Marrying Mr. Right’s heroine, Missy Modesto, is similar to a good friend I’ve known my whole life. Missy is a strong, tough, yet loving woman with a heart of gold and although years may pass between visits, when we do meet, it feels like yesterday : ) Training Travis is about a divorced dad who gains custody of his fifteen year old daughter after his ex-wife’s untimely death. And even though I can’t personally relate to being divorced, I am the mother of two girls, so I can relate to Travis’ fifteen year old daughter and the mood swings of a teenage girl. My first women’s fiction, Pieces Of Candy, is about a menopausal, mother of two. Candy is a substitute teacher and decides she’s wants a real career of her own. So begins her journey into interior design : )

The speaker at that conference knew what she was talking about–and I wish I’d heard her speak many years ago.  Still, it’s never too late and once I took her advice my writing voice has been with me ever since.  I think it’s really about being true to yourself and who you are as a writer….and this probably isn’t something that can be used for every genre to the extent that I’ve gone. Yet, I can’t help but think it would be hysterical to read a book about an interior designer who dies, comes back as a ghost and keeps rearranging the furniture, sending the people she left behind literally flying!

Best,

Cathy Tully

Writer’s Block, an Adventure in Randomness

MP910216414I’m about 1/4 of the way through writing my seventh book.  (I know! The total is freaking me out too) .  Anyway, today was an excellent writing day. I spent the morning at a local coffee shop.  The past few weeks have been brutal, words limping out onto the page, scenes forming with in pathetic randomness. So, instead of sitting in my office, I opted for a change of scenery and a very large cup of coffee.

I’ve determined that I should write 10,000 words per week to get this book finished. Unfortunately, the only way to make writing easier is to write. It sucks but it’s true. If I write 2,000 words every weekday, I can use the weekend for editing, administrative tasks, or heaven forbid, cleaning.  Three nights this week I sat up until midnight to get the words in. One day I still fell short. Today started out much the same. Four hours at Panera netted me my daily minimum.  I set out to run errands. In the car, scenes and dialogue started flashing into my head. I had to turn off the radio. The music was competing with my characters.

I hurried home, panicked that I’d forget half of what was in my head.  I grabbed my laptop and vomited out another 2K in under 2 hours. I didn’t think I could type that fast. I happily wrote myself into a nasty headache.

Why does this happen? Why does the story hate me one day and love me the next?   Why does it seem so random?  I’ll never figure it out, but I’m surely going to enjoy the days when the job really seems as easy as friends and family think it is.

Now back to writing. Maybe I can make it 5,000. Wishing you all a writing day as successful as mine.

– Melinda