Fresh FIction Box Not To Miss
Susan Mallery | What do our characters wish for?
Uncategorized / June 1, 2009

In the last hours before college graduation, I was saved from life as an accountant by a continuing education course titled “How to Write a Romance Novel.” Not that there’s anything wrong with being an accountant. It’s just that, for me, the infinite realm of numbers couldn’t possibly compare to the infinite realm of characters. Numbers can’t surprise you by making bad decisions. Numbers don’t have quirks that make you laugh. (Except for 43,770. For some reason, 43,770 cracks me up every time.) But “infinite” can feel overwhelming to a writer facing a blank page, and I’m always on the lookout for a new tool to get to know my characters better. I think I found one in Debbie Macomber’s wonderful book, Twenty Wishes. Anne Marie, a young widow, is stuck in a rut of grief and decides to make a list of twenty wishes, hoping this will give her something to look forward to and will restore her positive outlook on life. The bubble wrap popping scene is a hoot! I want to have a party like that. What would I learn, I wondered, if I did this exercise from the point of view of my characters? What new…

Christy Reece | How a Wish Became a Series
Uncategorized / April 24, 2009

People often ask writers where they get their ideas. Many can answer about how a particular incident or thought popped into their head and they were able to create an entire book from that. With the first three books I wrote, before I sold, the idea always started with a comment in my head. A character, usually my future heroine, would say something and I’d wonder why she said it. The conversation would expand and I would create the story from there. That’s one of the wonderful things about imagination. Being able to take something so small and seemingly insignificant and create characters, a story and sometimes an entire world. When I started writing RESCUE ME, my debut book, it wasn’t because of some conversation I heard in my head. It was an event. I’m a self-confessed news junkie. Even when I’m writing, I often have the news playing in the background because I never know what might spur an idea. Something that always intrigues me are missing persons cases. Tragically most of these cases don’t have happy endings. Many are found dead, some return on their own. But the few that never return, the ones who disappear without a…

Linda Bilodeau | OH Those Intriguing Characters
Uncategorized / April 3, 2009

I’m often asked about the characters who live in my stories. Are they based on someone I know? Is there a little of myself in these characters? The answer to both questions is yes, and I believe the talent to create characters comes partly from creativity and partly from understanding human nature. When I construct a story line, I think of who is going to live in that world and what their motives are or should be. Depending on plot, I decide if the women need to be tough, weak, courageous, deceitful or honest to a fault. What makes up their basic personality? In other words, stick that tea bag in a pot of boiling water and see how it holds up. Curious? read the rest of Linda’s blog! Visit to learn more about books and authors.

Darlene Gardner | Secondary Romances
Uncategorized / February 20, 2009

Jane Bennet and Mr. Bingley. Willow and Oz. Betty and Barney Rubble. You’ve probably figured out by now what the couples from the book Pride and Prejudice, the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the cartoon The Flintstones have in common: They’re involved in secondary romances. Now here’s my shameless confession: I adore secondary romances, often considerably more than the main event. In THE HERO’S SIN, my February release from Superromance that starts a new series, the secondary hero relentlessly — and, I hope, charmingly — pursues his ex-wife. Part of the reason their marriage broke up was because his favorite pasttime was getting drunk with his buddies. I wouldn’t give the primary hero that flaw unless there was a deep, dark reason he was drinking. Click here to read the rest… Visit to learn more about books and authors.

Sandi Kahn Shelton | Finding Characters
Uncategorized / December 30, 2008

One of the most fun things about writing a novel (or as my uncle put it, “telling lies for profit”) is coming up with characters. People are always asking writers where the characters come from — it’s the #1 question when you go for readings and signings — and I’m afraid they always seem disappointed by the truth, which is, “I have utterly no idea.” With my new novel, Kissing Games of the World, the main character, Jamie McClintock, showed up one morning when I was taking a bath. I was lying there concentrating on keeping the tub filled to the top with hot water using only my big toe (a delicate balance of draining and refilling which practically requires a degree in engineering and physics to keep it just right), when I noticed somebody wafting around over by the shower head, explaining to me about how she was an artist and a single mom raising her 5-year-old boy, Arley, who had asthma. They lived in a farmhouse in Connecticut with Harris, an older man famous in town for his rascally womanizing, who was now redeeming himself by raising his 5-year-old grandson, Christopher, whose father had run away. I really…

Candace Havens | Secrets and Siblings
Candace Havens / November 4, 2008

I grew up an only child, and I really liked it. (Smile) Except for the fact that I love to play board games and cards, and I didn’t always have a playmate. But I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of siblings. That’s why there are four Caruthers sisters and one brother in my new book “The Demon King and I.” I wanted to write about that interaction between siblings. I have first hand experience after watching my own children, but I also did some research by hanging around and learning to understand how my friends interact with their brothers and sisters. Take my friend Shannon’s comment about how one of her brother’s dresses. We were Christmas shopping a few years ago and she talked about how she bought him some decent clothes so he would wear something besides a t-shirt and jeans. It was her subtle way of telling him to grow up. I didn’t realize it, until just this moment but that sort of ended up in The Demon King and I. (Please, don’t tell her.) I watched as another friend interacted with her two sisters. That dynamic was very interesting because the middle sister, my friend, has…

Sandra Ruttan | Imaginary Friends
Uncategorized / October 29, 2008

I was staring at the wall, my hands still. My partner assumed I was taking a break and started talking to me. “Be quiet! There are voices talking inside my head and I have to hear what they’re saying!” He muttered something like, “Okay crazy person,” and left me to talk to my imaginary friends. Writing a novel is an extremely personal venture. For months, these characters live inside your mind as you get to know them and try to reveal their character, intent and actions on the page. When you write a series it’s even more personal, because you develop a long-term relationship with your protagonists. In THE FRAILTY OF FLESH, book two of the Nolan, Hart and Tain series, the storylines are very personal. In book one, events from the past are alluded to but not exploited. In book two, Nolan is confronted by some of his darkest fears, Tain struggles with a deep personal wound that will never heal, and Hart suffers a devastating loss. Some of my friends have wondered how I could put these characters through hell. As a reader, and as someone who loves series books and gets very attached to characters, I can…

Lisa Jackson | The Real Dirt on LEFT TO DIE
Uncategorized / July 29, 2008

People ask me why I decided to set a new series in Montana. After all, I’ve pretty much settled into New Orleans. Well, the truth of the matter was that I wanted a new, fresh extremely different locale for LEFT TO DIE and the books that follow in the series. I figured a small podunk fictional town like Grizzly Falls was nearly a one-eighty in atmosphere from the French Quarter or Garden District of the Crescent City. I wanted away from the southern bayous and into the mountains of the west. What I didn’t expect was the new characters and how I’d come to love them. I’m a small town girl at heart–born and raised in a tiny timber town in Oregon–and so the back-woodsy rural part was natural. But the characters, wow. First of all the heroine, Jillian Rivers is on the warpath, trying to find out if her first husband, the one whom she thought died in the jungles of South American, the jerk who left her holding the bag when he disappeared and owed tons of investors money, might be alive. Then there’s the hero, Zane MacGregor, a loner’s loner, sexy as hell and once charged with…

Christina Meldrum | When a Plot and Its Characters Collide
Uncategorized / June 16, 2008

How does a writer create a story with a compelling plot AND compelling characters? This was a question I asked myself throughout my writing of Madapple (Knopf), my debut novel. Released last month, Madapple is a crossover novel intended for older teens and adults. Part literary mystery, part psychological thriller, I knew the success of Madapple would depend at least in part on my ability to devise a page-turning plot acted out by well-developed characters. I expected this would be difficult, because often novels provide either an intricate plot or complex, richly developed characters. Rarely does a novel provide both. But why? But why? As I was writing, I quickly realized why. An intricate plot makes demands on its characters, requiring them to act according to its mandates, which may well be inconsistent with what turns out to be any given character’s inclinations. I’m referring to characters as if they are alive, I know—as if they have inclinations separate from an author’s intent. Well, I think they do sometimes: the characters of Madapple certainly did. As an author, I may have given birth to my characters but, like children, my characters seemed to have minds of their own. My plot…

Patti O’Shea | Risky Business
Uncategorized / June 4, 2008

One of the things that satisfies me most about writing is exploring the characters’ fears, their hopes, and dreams. Each book has had something new for me and I’ve enjoyed stretching myself—and I’ve especially enjoyed torturing—um, I mean pushing—the hero and heroine. It isn’t always deliberate, but if I have a heroine who’s afraid she’s going to fall to the dark side in her magical world, you can bet she’s going to end up in a situation where that’s tested. IN TWILIGHT’S SHADOW (Jun 3, 2008) gave me something different to think about—risk. I’d explored the idea of courage in an earlier book, but I never thought about risk until Maia and Creed’s story. Maia was a troubleshooter for a society of magic users and she gambled her job, her standing, even her life by playing with black magic. She lost. Certain that her sister, Ryne, would be sent to hunt her, Maia gave up her magic, but she also gave up the only world she’s ever known. Considered an outsider among her people, she lives a human life. She has a job she hates, a mortgage, and bills. And she’s playing it safe now, afraid to take a chance…