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When A Character Stinks

I've sometimes abandoned reading/watching a story because of a single character. The writer/s must think this person is funny/appealing/recognizable, but for me, they're nothing but irritating. Here are three that get to me. With apologies to cozy lovers:  the amateur sleuth's zany best friend . When she constantly proposes absolutely dumb ideas, like having a seance to find out who the killer is, I'm out. Crazy buddies can be a hoot in a story, but they can also take things from slightly wacky to waaaay too unbelievable.  Other characters that stop me reading/watching are self-obsessed whiners . Even if they have good reason to be messed up, I quickly get tired of their antics. Rusty on Major Crimes is a good example, as is Anaken Skywalker in Star Wars . I never finished watching the movie that explained his background, because I couldn't stand his whiny "it's not fair" attitude. I used to read Kay Scarpetta novels, but the bitchy niece went over th

People Ask Cool Questions #1

https://www.amazon.com/Killing-Silence-Loser-Mysteries-Book-ebook/dp/B00A87IAQG I'm on vacation for September, so for the blog I thought I'd address some questions people ask at personal appearances. QUESTION #1 Where do you get the names/inspiration for your characters? Often from real people I know. I need an image in my head to create a character. (Brag here: one site said last week that my characters are people you think about long after you finish the book. YAY!) I start with someone I've known--perhaps a coworker or a former student--and imagine how that person would react to the scenario I'm creating. I always add when I admit this that those people NEVER stay real. As soon as I have a firm picture in mind, the character becomes a whole new person, with his own personality, attitudes, and personal details. For example, Verle in the Loser Mysteries started out as a man who was sort of my second dad, since I practically lived at his house as a kid. Readers

The Gifts I Buy Myself

I buy myself presents all the time: they're called books. Sometimes they're Kindle books, although I'm often irritated by the inflated cost of books by big-name authors. If mid-list authors' books can be produced for six dollars or less, why can't everyone's? I know, supply and demand, but there isn't the cost in e-books that there is with print: no print cost, no warehousing, no shipping. But I digress. In addition to Kindle books, I also buy print books. Lots of them. No less than three, sometimes more, bookstores exist where the clerks smile when they see me coming. They know I'm buying. Sometimes my purchases result in entertainment for few hours, and that's great. People gripe about "affording" books, but where else do you get eight hours of entertainment for under thirty bucks? The best times are when my purchase results in absolute rapture. I got lucky last week with THE NIGHTINGALE on my Kindle, which was wonderful. On Thursda

Plain Talk For Writers: A Sense of Place

No, I'm not talking about book settings, though they're important and wonderful when done well. I'm talking about YOUR place in the world of writing. If you're published, you probably already have an idea of where you fit, and it probably bothers you a little that it isn't where you'd like to be or where you thought you'd be. If you're not yet published, you should spend some time thinking about where you will fit in once you show your work to the world. Before publication, many writers have an inflated idea of the importance of their work. I'm approached all the time at book signings by people who claim they have the next bestseller in mind or in progress. The fact that they tell me about it is a hint that they don't know the process at all. There's hope in their eyes, a fantasy scenario where I grab them by the arm and say, "Wow! I need to tell my agent right away about your completely awesome idea." Well, I won't. In