He didn’t!

I went to writers’ group last Wednesday and listened to three of our members, all topnotch authors who volunteered to read.  Les Bock is writing a crime thriller, and some of the scenes he comes up with blow my mind.  I don’t see the twist coming, and it’s usually something I’d never expect from him.  Kathy Palm is working on a middle grade horror book, and she’s read enough, I know that she can go to creepy places that make me squirm.  Ruth Baker, a playwrite, usually visits serious subjects but she read something fun and whimsical.  My point is, if you talked to any of those three people, you’d never guess what they are capable of imagining.  It reminded me of a time a visitor came to Scribes and I read an unusual piece, and she looked at me and said, “But you seem like such a nice person.”

I AM a nice person, but I don’t always WRITE about nice people.  If everyone in a novel was nice, there wouldn’t be a story, no tension, no conflict.  Now an antagonist doesn’t always have to be a bad person.  Two good people can be coming at the same thing from different points of view, for different reasons, and clash.  But a strong antagonist sure makes an already good story even better, whether he’s on the page or behind the scenes.  And a bad antagonist can make readers chew their fingernails.

In Julia Donner’s Western historical AVENUE TO HEAVEN, Annie Corday’s ex-husband made me cringe with fear every time his shadow fell across a page.  When he finally decides to return to Chicago, he has a wooden coffin delivered to her front door to let her know his intentions.  And honestly, after reading about some of the things he’d done, a quick death would probably be better than most of his other options.  He was so obscenely bipolar, smiling and proclaiming his love while he beat her senseless, that he made me queasy.  Villains like that make a reader turn the pages.  They stay with you. (https://www.amazon.com/Avenue-Heaven-Westward-Bound-Book-ebook/dp/B076HVGS98/ref=sr_1_11?ie=UTF8&qid=1539399302&sr=8-11&keywords=julia+donner+kindle)

If you’ve read any of the posts in the Q & A blogs that I posted from Ilona Andrews, one of the questions reminded me of myself when I was young and first starting to write.  The person asked how she could make her characters distinct, because hers all ended up being a lot the same.  Ilona Andrews’s answer made me smile.  She replied,

I suspect that your ethics keep getting in the way.  You have a strong sense of right and wrong, and when confronting a problem, you, and your characters, are thinking about the best way to resolve it according to your set of values.  Try to look at it from their point of view. 

And that’s the trick, isn’t it?  Each person in a story has his own code of morals and ethics, his own rules that he might bend, his own way to rationalize why he did what he did, whether good or bad.  The trick is for the author to get inside his character’s head when that character walks into a room, to see the world through his eyes, shaped by his experiences, needs, and wants.  And that character might do things we’d never condone, things that horrify or shame us, but our job is to make him and his actions believable.

Julia Donner was an actress and singer at one time.   She performed in many plays and tells me that when she writes, her characters come to her wholly formed, because she studied characters and their motivations for so long on the stage.  It took me a long time to write unlikeable characters, because I could always imagine what my mother would say if she read my story.  And a sex scene?  Heaven forbid!  Then a wonderful, wise woman who edited many of my early stories told me, “Blindfold your mother and gag your old Sunday School teachers. Listen to your characters and write them the way they are and say what they’d say.”  And she was right.  I stopped thinking about my audience and started thinking about my characters, living in their skins.  And then they did all kinds of things that I’d never expected, because I’d freed them to be themselves.

So whatever you’re working on at the moment, I hope your characters are distinct and real.  That doesn’t mean they get to decide where the story will go, because it’s YOUR story.  But it means that when they walk into a scene, they make it come to life, because they’re very much alive in your imagination.  Happy Writing!

 

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Rules can be broken

I’m almost to page 400 in John Grisham’s SYCAMORE ROW.  I’d probably have it finished by now if I hadn’t lost time to my troublesome stomach, but I have to admit, I needed a kick in the pants to pick the book up to read every night.  It’s good.  But I’m not used to Grisham’s style of writing, and after all the pages I’ve read, the book still feels like set-up to me.  Everything’s interesting.  The characters are great, but there’s still no crunch time, no ticking clock, and I’m getting the feeling that’s not going to happen.

The truth is, I’m so used to genre writing, his style feels alien to me.  He does a lot of the things that my writers’ group tells people NOT to do, but it works.  For him.

  1.  Show don’t tell.  My group repeats this like a mantra.  Showing pulls a reader into a story, makes him feel part of it.   Grisham sets a scene–like Jake walking into the coffee shop where everyone gathers to learn the latest news and gossip–and TELLS us what’s happening.   I’ve never been bothered by telling as much as some writers.  Author intrusion?  Eh, it works once in a while.  Jenna Bennett uses it here and there, and it adds an intimacy to her stories, like she’s talking just to you, the reader.  It’s efficient, too.  Showing takes space.  You have to let a scene play out to make a point.  Telling…well, you just say what you want the reader to know.  It creates more distance between the reader and the story, but it gives the reader a quick feeling of everything important in fewer words.  Still, all in all, most writers try to avoid it.  We try to show instead of tell.
  2. POV.  My groups’ view is that there’s singular POV or multiple POV, and you don’t mix more than one POV in a scene.  You wait to jump from one person’s head to another’s.  Grisham eliminates that worry by using a sort of omniscient POV and focusing in on one person and then moving to another.  It’s not one bit confusing.  It works.  But again, it creates more distance.  The reader’s not following one person or a few important players from place to place.  We pop from Jake’s thoughts to Lettie’s to someone’s in the coffee shop.  I don’t read enough thrillers to know if this is the norm for the genre, but it very well might be.  That’s the thing about genres.  They don’t all follow the same rules.
  3. Pacing.  My group focuses a lot on keeping the reader turning pages.   We build tension and conflict into every scene we can.  We have pinch points and turning points.  And everything keeps geting worse.  Grisham concentrates on his story and lets it unfold.  It doesn’t feel rushed.  It has more of a literary feel where the characters develop more than the plot.  I’m happy to roll with that, except I have to admit, as a genre junkie, I wish some key plot point was moving a little faster.  But that’s my own hang-up, and I know it.
  4. Would I change my advice to people who come to Scribes?  No.  Because show, don’t tell works for most writers.  So does POV and pacing.  But Grisham is talented enough to pull off his style.  His sales speak for that.  But most mere mortals have better luck following the rules.  It’s hard enough finding an audience, so why push your luck?

Whatever you write, however you write it, good luck.  And happy writing!

My webpage:  https://www.judithpostswritingmusings.com/

My author Facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/JudiLynnwrites/

Twitter:  @judypost

 

 

 

 

 

How Many Bodies does it take?

I’m working on a mystery.  I finally reached the third turning point (three-fourths through the book–and yes, I do construct my plots that way), and I’m heading into the last 80 pages.  This is when I look at my remaining plot points and pray that I have enough twists and turns to make it to the The End.  If not, a little creativity is in order.

Almost (there must be one out there that breaks the mold, but I can’t think of it) every mystery starts with a dead body.  A crime would work, too, but it’s not as common.  The body doesn’t have to be on page one.  It doesn’t even have to show up by page five.  But someone usually stumbles upon it by the end of chapter one.  Not always.  Mystery readers, especially for cozies or traditionals,  know that while they’re hanging out with the protagonist and getting to know her and the book’s setting, a dead body will show up eventually.  It’s worth the wait.

Martha Grimes, in her early books, grabbed her readers with a hook–a prologue. They’re frowned upon now, but I liked them.  Some nice, oblivious person would be walking along a street or locking her front door, and we KNEW she’d be dead by the end of the chapter.  A great way to build tension.  A lot of thriller writers use that technique–showing the victim in a way that we know they’re already doomed.  It works.  If you’re not writing a thriller, though, you have to space out victims more sparingly:)  You don’t off somebody whenever the pace slows down, so you have to come up with different devices to keep the tension high enough to turn pages.

The thing I loved about witing urban fantasy is that you could write a battle every time you wanted to up the tension.  Pitting your protagonist against someone who could kill her works really well.  I just finished reading Ilona Andrews’s MAGIC SHIFTS, and it was a FAST read because there was a battle in almost every chapter.  Lots of action.  I loved it, but that doesn’t fly in an amateur sleuth mystery.  Protags don’t wield swords or shoot magic.

What does work?  Having the sleuth at the wrong place at the wrong time.  Having her get nosy and digging through a desk that’s not hers when someone walks into the office.  I’m halfway through a mystery by an author who’s new to me:  A Cutthroat Business by Jenna Bennett.   I’m loving it so far!  First, her protagonist is a Southern Belle.  I haven’t read one of those since the last Sarah Booth Delaney cozy I read by Carolyn Haines. Bennett’s protagonist is a real estate agent…so, of course, she takes a client to a showing and finds a body in the last room they stop to view.  See?  The nice, bloody corpse comes at the end of the chapter. More fun that way!

Also, of course, the police show up and the client who wanted to see the house doesn’t seem to have any money, but he has done some prison time–and the protag knew him when they were growing up–a smartass, sexy ex-con. Bennett finds one clever way after another to keep her protag involved in the investigation.  Eventually, though, (and I hate to say this), another body is needed to boost the pace near the middle of the book.  Sacrifices must be made for every novel, and for mysteries, well…. someone must die.

I’m sorry to say (and my daughter wasn’t happy with me, because she fell in love with a certain character when she read the pages I’ve done so far), I had to kill off someone, too, for the second plot twist in my book.  And that made me wonder:  how many bodies does it take to keep a good book going?  In urban fantasy, you’re lucky.  Very rarely does one of the good guys have to die, and you can kill bad guys at random, on every other page if you want to.  In mysteries, though? Bodies are up for grabs.  Good guys die as often as not-so-good guys.  I’m thinking–and I haven’t researched this–that it takes at least two bodies to move a mystery plot.  The first body happens at the beginning of the book and somewhere later, the pacing and clues start to fizzle, and an author has to stick in another victim.

What do you think?  Can you think of a mystery that only has one victim and the entire plot goes from there?  Okay, maybe in a P.I., because usually the private eye gets beat up close to the time a second body would pop up in a traditional mystery.  LOL.  This is probably why it was so hard for me to write romances.  I couldn’t kill anybody:)

Jenna Bennett:  https://www.amazon.com/Savannah-Martin-Mysteries-Box-Set-ebook/dp/B00A6UMNRM/ref=sr_1_8?ie=UTF8&qid=1496516485&sr=8-8&keywords=jenna+bennett+savannah+martin+series+kindle+kindle

Ilona Andrews’s Magic Shifts:  https://www.amazon.com/Magic-Shifts-Kate-Daniels-Novel-ebook/dp/B00OQSF7GY/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1496517298&sr=8-3&keywords=ilona+andrews+kate+daniels+series

My webpage (with a new creepy short story):  http://www.judithpostswritingmusings.com/

Twitter: @judypost

My author Facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/JudiLynnwrites/?ref=aymt_homepage_panel

 

 

Tension

Okay, I just read a blog post by James Scott Bell, and he explained very well what I’ve always felt, but in a vague–somewhat nonverbal–way.  And he made it SO clear.  Every book has to have tension, or no one would turn the pages.  It’s easy to point to the tension in a thriller or suspense novel.  The bad guy might kill someone or lots of someones if the hero doesn’t stop him.  Same for horror, only who knows who or what the villain might be.  In a mystery, a hero is trying to solve a crime and restore justice.  But what’s the tension in a romance?  Or a literary novel?

Bell says that conflict is best if there are “death stakes” for the protagonist/s.  But he divides death stakes into physical death, professional death, or psychological.  That makes so much sense!  In a romance, every time the hero and heroine can’t work things out, it builds tension.  If they can’t get together at the end of the book, they suffer psychological death–the death of happiness:  http://writershelpingwriters.net/2017/03/conflict-and-suspense-belong-in-every-kind-of-novel/?utm_content=buffer7ce91&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

Conflict drives a story, moves it forward.   And the stakes have to keep getting higher every time the reader turns a page.  That’s why there’s the old adage:  Things can always get worse.  They have to, or your story stalls.  During the set up, the author says what the protagonist wants, and he spends the rest of the book making sure he has to work harder and harder to get it.  Here’s a good link by Samantha Stone to build conflict:  http://www.creativewritingsoftware101.com/articles/how-to-create-conflict-in-your-story.php

I used different types of tension in my romances than I’ll need for my cozy mystery, but I still want a romance subplot, and I want to work hard at developing characters readers will care about.  I enjoyed writing Babet and Prosper so much for urban fantasy that I’d like to do something similar for my River Bluffs novels.  I want my characters and setting to be as fully formed as the mystery.  We’ll see how that goes:)

At my writers’ group last week, one of our members tried to decide what each of us needed to do to write a bestseller.  I give him credit.  He believes in all of us, bless him.  And I think we’re all good writers, too, but I have less faith in finding the “secret” that makes a book sell.  Lots of advice says that you need to write a “big” book.  The higher the stakes, the more readers you’ll attract.  That might be true.  I don’t know.  I think the heavens have to align and there’s a lot of luck involved.  And I found this article that sort of agrees with me.  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/peter-winkler/how-to-write-a-bestseller-formula_b_1542587.html

In the meantime, happy writing!

 

My webpage:  (a free snippet from SPICING THINGS UP–our March 21–and a free short mystery):  http://www.judithpostswritingmusings.com/

author Facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/JudiLynnwrites/

twitter:  @judypost

 

 

 

 

 

 

Girls are NOT sugar and spice

I wrote a blog a while ago about character flaws.  Something I don’t think about much.  I think of strengths and weaknesses–what are you good at, prone to, and what do you have to work at, try to avoid?  But maybe your weaknesses would be your flaws?  Or maybe your flaws are the things you want, but shouldn’t have?  The things you give in to?  Your temptations?  The bad choices you WANT to make and try to avoid?  Any opinions?  When you think of a character, how do you see him?  What do you consider his/her flaw?  I’d love to hear about a character you wrote and what his/her flaw was, how it affected your book.

I was thinking about a character that Julia Donner wrote in her Friendship Regency series. In the book Lord Carnall and Miss Innocent–an exaggeration of their personalities, but a fun one–Donner introduced two characters who sometimes care TOO much.  Can that be a flaw?  Is too much of a good thing a flaw?  Lord Carnall will move mountains to help his two, younger sisters.  That’s why he enrolls them in the private school run by Ana Worth.  And Ana?  She’s trying to keep her selfish, absorbed brother free from scandal, at the risk of going bankrupt herself.  On the surface, both characters have noble goals, and self-sacrifice CAN be a good thing, but when is enough–enough?  And when Donner wrote these two, awesomely wonderful people, did she consider the things that made me love them to also be their flaws?  When you start writing a book, do you list each character’s flaw?  Does that help you?

In Donner’s book, Ana is a deeply caring and giving person, but she is NOT sugar and spice.  I can’t think of any woman in literature who is.  Not even children, if the author portrays them realistically.  I have two daughters, and neither of them were the dolls and tea party type girls.  I bought them Barbies for their birthdays, and they painted them with red paint (for blood dripping down them) and hung them from the basement rafters to make a Halloween haunted house.  I was pretty impressed, but then, I wasn’t very girly myself as a kid.

Most characters, if readers are supposed to empathize with them, have strengths and convictions and care about something enough to struggle hard to achieve it.  And since books thrive on conflict, something always stands in their way–sometimes that something is their own flaws.  Usually, characters have to grow to solve their problems.  Sucky, right?  But pretty true to life.  No one gets off easy in fiction…male or female.  So, who is one of your favorite characters in fiction?  And what do you see as his/her flaw?  And if you’re a writer, do you think the flaw you chose for your character is the flaw readers see when they read your book?

I’d love comments and feedback.  And since it’s getting cold and ugly outside, hope you can hibernate a little more, and happy writing or reading!

Link for Lord Carnall and Miss Innocent:  https://www.amazon.com/Lord-Carnall-Miss-Innocent-Friendhip-ebook/dp/B01A8T71J0/ref=sr_1_6?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1481401696&sr=1-6&keywords=julia+donner

My author Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/JudiLynnwrites/

My webpage (with a snippet):  http://www.judithpostswritingmusings.com/

On twitter:  @judypost

 

Gearing up for NaNoWriMo (well, not me)

I’ve never tried NaNoWriMo, (National Novel Writing Month), an annual event that takes place every November, but a lot of writers participate in it.  In the old fable, NaNo writers would be the hare, pounding out a book in a month.  I’m a tortoise–slow and steady.  But NaNo inspired two great blogs on outlining by K.M. Weiland.  Now, I have friends who write wonderful books by the old seat of your pants method and others who start with four sentences that ground the entire book–the turning points that guide the entire story–but then there are people like me who jot down ideas for each chapter (making sure to hit those 4 turning points).  But I’d still be a slouch compared to K.M. Weiland.

I’ve never outlined as much as K.M. Weiland does, but I can see how her method would create rich characters and conflicts.  I especially like her idea of digging into your antagonists before you spend too much time on your protagonist, so that they’re a solid part of your story, not just an afterthought.  Anyway, if you’re a NaNo participant, and you do a little, some, or all of this homework before you jump into your month of writing, you should end up with something solid, so I thought I’d share the links.  And if you’re putting fingers to the keys in November, good luck!

http://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com/start-your-outline-with-these-4-questions-nanowrimo/

and https://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com/nanowrimo-guide-outlining-find-heart-of-your-story/?platform=hootsuite

Happy Writing!

Confidence: where do you get it?

It’s odd yakking about my books, because book 3 hasn’t even come out yet, but right now, I’m busy working on book 5 of my Mill Pond romances.  My brain is full of Miriam and Joel, but no one’s met them, and no one will meet them for a long time.  And when they do?  I’ll be working on something else.  So in my head, I have a whole community of couples who you have and have not met yet.  Yes, I have plans for almost every character I’ve given some pages to in different books.  And I’m fond of every single one of them.  Each one of them intrigued me in one way or another.

When I wrote book four–which won’t be out until spring 2017–I combined a guy, who had enough self-esteem and confidence to flatten any obstacle that got in his way with a girl, who barely believed in herself.  Tyne’s parents loved themselves much more than they ever loved their two sons, so the boys learned to be strong and self-sufficent.  They supported each other.  Daphne was the only child of parents who loved and sheltered her, as long as she met their expectations.  She’s a gentle soul who owns a stained-glass shop. She’s pretty and succeeds at everything she does,   but has no confidence in herself.

I could really relate to Daphne.  My parents didn’t coddle me.  They did love me.  I have two sisters, and we’re still great friends.  I was pretty much a straight A student, but I had no social skills.  None.  And I always felt like the odd man out.  No one’s fault but my own. Kids at school were nice to me.  They invited me to things.  I didn’t have to eat at the no-man’s table in the lunchroom.  The trouble?  Me.  Everyone thought I was decent but me.

I went to college, got braver, met my John, and graduated.  I loved teaching, married my John, taught six more years, then had my daughter.  Two plus years later, I had my second daughter, and life was good.  I’d grown into myself.  My husband, bless him, believes I can do anything.  His confidence in me gave me confidence.  But guess what?  Our older daughter had lower self-esteem than Eeyore.  And both of our girls had it all.  Gorgeous–yes, I’m prejudiced, but most people agree with me.  Smart.  Funny.  And so damned good at so many things.  But daughter #1 didn’t see it.  I read books about building confidence.  Give a child chores, and when she succeeds, praise her.  So we did that, and #1 succeeded, and we gave real praise for jobs well done. (Never fake praise.  She’d spot that in a minute.)  Sign a child up for activities she might be good at.  #1 won ribbon after ribbon on the swim team.  She excelled at gymnastics.  She sucked at ballet, but hey, you can’t do everything.  She scored off the chart on her SAT tests.  None of it mattered.  That’s when it occurred to me that I don’t really know how to build confidence in a person who doesn’t have any.  #1 finally grew into herself, just like I did. But it took a while and some serious jostling before she was strong and tough enough to meet Life head-on.  And that’s how my character, Daphne, in book 4, came to be.  She cowers at life until she meets Tyne, who challenges her every fear–just like my John–who has self-esteem to spare–did to me.

Of course, everything in fiction is dramatized to make a point.  But the basis for the story rang true to me, so I liked the characters even more.  That’s the fun thing about writing romance.  I can take characters that I can really relate to and throw them together for a happy ending.  How great is that?

Happy Writing!  Judy

 

BTW, chapters 6 & 7 are up on website:  http://www.judithpostswritingmusings.com/

Author Facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/JudiLynnwrites/

Twitter:  @judypost

 

 

Time to pee in a cup

I wanted to share this snippet earlier, but when I sat in front of my computer (and yes, this is a brain fart moment), I couldn’t remember which scene I was looking for in OPPOSITES DISTRACT.  (Carl Grody–not a word!)  But tonight, when I was thinking of something else, it came to me.  Brody’s brother, Ian, has been worried about his wife (and Harmony’s best friend) Tessa.  She hasn’t felt up to par for a while.  This scene’s a game changer.  It shifts how everything works, so far, in the story.  The snippet sums it up:

Tessa greeted them.  “Ian’s grilling steaks on the back patio.  Supper will be ready in a few minutes.”

Harmony studied her as she led them into the kitchen.  Her frizzy, copper hair was flat.  A no shower day, for sure.  Her creamy complexion looked pale.  “Are you okay?”

Right then, Ian came in the back door, teeth chattering.  His nose and cheeks glowed like Rudolph’s.  He held a platter with four steaks, tented in foil.

Tessa looked embarrassed.  “I baked with Grandma all morning.  I felt great.  I wanted to make bouillabaisse, but the smells bothered me.  I kept getting nauseous.”

“Oh, shit.”  Brody shook his head.

Ian frowned at him.

“You need to go see a doctor,” Brody said.

“What do you think is wrong with her?”  Ian sounded concerned.

“I don’t think I’m sick,” Tessa said.  “Or contagious.”

“Neither do I.”  Brody went to the refrigerator to fetch two beers.  “I think you’d better start taking prenatal vitamins.”

Ian stared.  So did Tessa and Harmony.

Tessa asked, “What do you mean?”

Brody raised an eyebrow.  “I think you’d better pee in a cup.”

http://www.kensingtonbooks.com/book.aspx/33110

 

 

Things Can Always Get Worse

I like to think of myself as a nice person.  True, I don’t mind killing people in my stories, but most of them deserve to die, and that’s part of tension and conflict, right?  We’ve all heard over and over again that things must always get worse for our poor protagonist.  If his victories come too easily, readers yawn.  Hell, newspapers are filled with dire events.  Fiction has to have more drama than fact, doesn’t it?  At least, we have to feel it more.

But I have to admit, I’m a little surprised at myself.  I’ve been working on the Mill Pond romance series.  The first book, because I wasn’t sure if I could write romance, has a healthy dose of humor.  It made me more comfortable with the boy/girl stuff.  I sort of fell in love with Harmony and Brody in the second romance, and I wanted Brody to be the brooding, not-so-silent type.  He has a way of saying what no girl wants to hear.  You have to remember, I fell madly in love with Natty Bumppo in middle school.   While my friends read romances, I read about pioneers.  These guys were a little overly reticent, way too practical.  They weren’t in touch with their feelings.  They’d rather keep their scalps.  Brody brought back memories of the strong, silent type who managed to say the wrong thing when they did finally open their lips.  A little too outspoken.

In the third romance, I wanted to push the envelope a little and have a heroine who wasn’t the standard pretty girl.  Paula’s a chef with tattoos, a stud, and two kids.  She’s smart, practical, but has terrible taste in men.  I tried to show how hard it is to juggle a career with motherhood and find time to meet Mr. Right.  Of course, with Paula, first, she falls for Mr. Why-in-the-world Would You Go There?  Not only did she need to meet somebody wonderful–which Chase is, she needed a true, honest friend to steer her in the right direction.  And that’s where Tyne came in.  He’s her hot fellow chef who has no problem speaking his mind and still charming you.  In my plot points, Tyne is a minor character, but when I wrote him, he leapt off the page for me.  It was as if he was born whole, like Athena, who stepped out of Zeus’s head in full armor.  I fell instantly in love with Tyne.  So do most women.  He has to fight them off.

So, why, in book four, do I give one of my all-time, favorite characters such a hard time?  That wasn’t my intention.  I started his book all happy and upbeat.  The thing about Tyne, though, is that he feels so REAL to me that when he hits the skids on his way to his big, black moment, I felt it.  And since I suffered for him, unfortunately for him, he felt it even more.  So did my poor husband.  When Tyne was unhappy, that made me unhappy, and you know the saying—happy wife, happy life.  For poor John, when I hit my gloomy chapters, the saying switched to unhappy wife, unhappy life.  That darn Tyne actually affected my moods.  That’s when  John goes to the hardware store:)

I’d like to say that when Daphne became so depressed, she couldn’t eat, the same happened to me.  I might lose weight that way.  But instead, I overcompensated and ate enough for both of us.  Don’t ask.  Anyway, I was a bit taken aback when I beat up one of my favorite characters more than I do most.  But no fear.  I’m writing romance.  A happy-ever-after is soon in the offing…after Tyne and Daphne suffer enough.

webpage:  http://www.judithpostswritingmusings.com/

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The Thing About Urban Fantasy

Okay, I did it!  I promised to post one chapter a week for a short urban fantasy novel until it was finished.  And I made it.  I posted the last chapter on Friday.  Once it was up, I spent the rest of the day, putting all of the images and chapters together into one book, and I’d written over 48,000 words.  Not bad.

River City Rumble is the last story, so far, in a series of novellas that I’ve been writing for a long time.  When I’m wading deep in middle muddles of other books, I turn to Babet and Prosper to re-energize me, to pull me out of the muck.  And they always come through.  That’s why I decided they deserved a novel of their own instead of a week or two of my attention in short spurts.  They’d earned their own novel.

The thing is, urban fantasy writers–at least, the ones I read–tend to use a big cast of characters, and those characters grow in number with each book they write.  Now, don’t get me wrong.  I loved writing about all of the people I’d introduced in previous novellas, but it’s hard to keep track of them all in one book.  Before, in shorter works, I picked and chose who I wanted to highlight.  In this book, I decided to go bigger and better.  I wanted someone or something that threatened everyone in River City, so that they’d all have to work together to defeat him/it.  The trick was to try to bring each person in and then not forget him when the next person joined the team.

Hatchet and Colleen had to be part of the struggle.  Hatchet is Prosper’s partner on River City’s supernatural detective force, and Colleen’s his vampire/wife.  If Hatchet’s walking into danger, she’d be beside him.  Babet’s mom and Hennie had to help, too, because they’re all part of River City’s coven.  And since the villain/antagonist who instigates all of the trouble is a vampire who controls a huge seethe, every vampire in River City will band together to battle him.  And those characters are just for starters.  By the end of the book, the voodoo community and the shape shifters all joined in, too.  But you know what they say–the more, the merrier.  So we all just teamed together and did our thing.

The second decision I made while posting my weekly chapters was to include an image with each one of them.  I’ve done that with some of the short stories I post on my webpage (all available in its left column, if you’re interested).  But I don’t do it on any regular basis.  This time, I had to come up with an image every single week.  And to my surprise, I found ones that fit my idea of what suited each scene.  One of my readers–and I so appreciate this–complimented me on them.  That meant so much to me, coming from her.  My biggest challenge, though, came when I started to write the last chapter.

Urban fantasies–at least, my favorites–are a string of small battles that lead to a big, final battle, usually to the death.  That meant I had to wrap up every small subplot before I stepped onto the battlefield.  I’d created an antagonist–and I’m proud of this–whom many people loathed.  She wasn’t the main villain, but more than a few readers said they hoped she got what she deserved before the book ended.  I hope I satisfied them.  Then, I was clear to send almost every supernatural in River City out to meet Zanor.  This couldn’t be just any battle, though.  The good guys couldn’t win too easily.  They had to face near death to overcome their enemies.  And everyone had to have a part.  That’s when things got tricky.  And that’s when I had to bring in more evil reinforcements so that Zanor’s forces gave as good as they got.

My protagonists survived, and so did I.  But I really sweated that chapter.  Fingers crossed that it satisfies.  Now, it’s time for me to move on and concentrate on my fourth Mill Pond romance.  A complete change of style.  And that’s a good thing for me.  I’m a Libra.  It helps keep me balanced.   Hope you find balance in your writing this week!  Hit those keys.

My webpage: http://www.judithpostswritingmusings.com/

My author’s Facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/JudithPostsurbanfantasy/?ref=bookmarks

Twitter:  @judypost

And FYI:  If you’re a fan of epic fantasy, my friend, M. L. Rigdon’s PROPHECY DENIED is FREE thru March 7: http://www.amazon.com/PROPHECY-DENIED-Seasons-Time-Book-ebook/dp/B004S7EQ92/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1457193638&sr=1-1&keywords=m+l+rigdon