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Archive for August, 2010

I’ve been meaning to do a post about characters for a LOOOONG time. Characters, to me, are one of the most important aspects of any book I’ve ever read. Now, don’t get me wrong because there has to be a good plotline and world building involved as well, I’m just saying that it’s the characters that make the story.

Take for instance if I was to mention a few character names, you’d know right off the bat what story/movie I was talking about. Why? Because they’re memorable characters. Don’t believe me yet? Let’s play a game. I put up a character name and we’ll see if you remember what story/movie they’re from.

Elizabeth Bennett

Aslan

Luke Skywalker

Katniss Everdeen

Bella Swan

Okay, so my question is, did you know most of these answers? They were from Pride and Prejudice, The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, Star Wars, The Hunger Games, and Twilight.

The point is, when writing a story you need to keep your characters in mind. And most of all you need to know what makes them tick. It’s hard to write a story if you know nothing about them. How are they going to react to the situations you put them in? Who are their friends? Do they have any special powers or qualities? Are they quirky? Where are they from? What are their favorite colors, food, song, and movie?

Before diving into any story I write, I always try to sit down and get to know my characters. In order to do that, each story I write gets a handy dandy notebook (okay, totally had a Blue’s Clues flashback from when my kids used to watch it). This notebook will become my story “Bible”. It is where I do character sketches (not drawings LOL, I’m so not artistic). When I say character sketches, I mean I list each characters name, their ages, physical descriptions, friends, likes, dislikes, favorite foods, quirks, any problems they might have. I then try and figure out what connection they have to the MC (or if they are the MC). And if it’s an antagonist, I try and flesh out why they don’t like my MC or what made them like they are.

I keep this notebook to jot down notes about plot, setting, time lines (only if needed though). Any time I need to know something about my character or I forget what color eyes so and so had, I can go back and read up on it.

In my opinion it is important to flesh out the characters because the more you know them, the better you can write them. And there are several exercises you can do in order to “meet” them or “get to know them”. One, you can start a notebook and get to know them that way. Or you can sit down and have an interview with your character. Make a list of questions and respond to them as if your character was answering them. Write a blog or journal entry from your character’s point of view.

What is it about a story that grabs you? Is it the characters and their plight? Or are you more into the world building and plotlines? I think all these things go hand in hand, but I’ve never put down a book if I love the character.

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Welcome again to YAFF Muse: blog rounds. The ladies of YA Fiction Fanatics have come together for YAFF Muse. To have a little fun, explore different styles of writing and to give you some kick-butt shorts to read.  Enjoy!

Photo title: Wooden Gate

 

My feet flew through the air as I pumped my legs, the swing swaying back and forth. The branch of the oak tree creaked with every movement. I stared at the gate, letting my bare feet drag on the ground to slow me.

“Maybree, come here. Come to us,” my mother’s voice floated from the other side of the fence.

I shook my head. No. It wasn’t Mom. She and Dad deserted me years ago. They left me with Grandma. Besides, Grandma had told me not to go through the gate.

“Maybree, we need and miss you,” Father echoed.

Their sound of despair had me on my feet. And I swallowed hard, wondering what the number 285 along the poles meant. I took a step forward. My heart clamored against my ribs, the heavy scent of roses permeating in the air around me.

A hand touched my arm and I jumped, spinning around.

“You’re not supposed to go in there.” A tall guy, with messy blonde hair and tanned skin told me.

Where did he come from? My face grew warm. “Um—excuse me, who are you?”

He smiled, nearly melting me like a dish of ice cream left out in the sun.

“Julian St. Clair,” he said, holding out his hand. “I’m a friend of your grandma’s. I normally come by once a week to mow her lawn.”

My eyes narrowed. “How come she’s never mentioned you before?”

He chuckled. “I have no idea.” His ivy colored eyes twinkled as he reached for my hand. “But I do know that you shouldn’t be by the gate.”

I shivered as the sound of Mom and Dad’s voices begged me to open the door.

“What’s behind there?”

Julian led me back toward the swing. “A bunch of overgrowth and weeds. And there’s a structure that’s about ready to collapse—it’s dangerous.”

Okay, so she let him go back there, but not me? “Then how come you got to go in.”

His smile faded. “I had no choice. There were things that needed to be taken care of. Some of the flowers and such could be saved, but most of what’s over there is drab and dead. Your Grandma wanted to know if there was anything I could do with it. But there wasn’t.”

“You sound so disappointed,” I said. God, what I wouldn’t do to see his smile again.

He kicked at a rock. “I don’t like to see beautiful things fade.”

“So how did you meet my grandma?”

“At the hospital, when she was visiting a friend.”

“The hospital?”

He grabbed my hand and walked me further away from the gate. “Yes. I’m an intern there. Fifth year at the university, studying to be a doctor,” Julian said.

Damn, that meant he was probably too old for me. At least tomorrow, I’d be legal. “Sorry, but you don’t look like a doctor.”

He rolled his eyes. “Probably because I started college at sixteen. I’m only twenty-one.”

“Maybree, don’t leave us. Stop! Come back.”

I stopped moving and glanced at the gate. “I—I think I should see what’s behind the gate. It sounds like someone is calling for help.”

“Maybree, your grandma needs you at the house. She sent me down to get you,” Julian said, turning me to look at him. “Listen, don’t tell her I told you, but she’s thrown a surprise birthday party for you and if you don’t come with me, she’ll be devastated.”

His fingers brushed my cheek, and I closed my eyes, his warmth comforting me. “Okay.”

My lids fluttered open to find him staring at me.

“Has anyone ever told you how beautiful you are?” he asked.

I snorted. “Does that line actually work for you?”

He gave me a sheepish grin. “After a few drinks at the pub.”

Laughing, we headed for the house. The sound of incessant beeping filled the air. The surroundings got dark, then blurry. Taking a deep gulp of air, things came into focus. Everything was white, and sterile. Grandma stood over me, tears falling from her eyes, holding my hand.

“Maybree, you’ve come back to us.” She kissed my cheek.

Then I remembered. The party at Rachel’s, the car crash, the pain, the scent of smoke…

“Grandma?”

“You’ve been in a coma for two weeks dear. I thought I was going to lose you like I lost your mom and dad,” she said. “I kept talking to you, telling you to come back to me to stay away from the gate.”

I’d dreamt the whole thing.

“How is she?” a familiar voice asked.

I glanced up to see Julian, holding a clipboard. He winked, reaching for my hand.

“She woke up,” Grandma whispered. “Just like you said she would.”

“How…” I began.

“Mrs. Davenport, why don’t you go down and have a cup of coffee while I check her vitals,” Julian said.

Grandma hesitated, gave me a kiss, then left the room.

“You were there with me, I saw you.” A lump formed in my throat.

He nodded. “I’m a caller. I call people back from death.”

His hand caught mine and I took a staggered breath. “Then that really was my parents talking to me?”

“Yes. But I couldn’t let you go to them. Not yet,” he said, bringing my hand to his lips. “You will not be number 286. Your grandma needs you here. I need you here.”

With a smile, I watched the sunlight filter around him. Today was my birthday. And I’d received the best presents imaginable. Life. Love. Forever.

 

Thanks for coming by. Please drop by my fellow YAFFers blogs and don’t forget to leave a comment.

 

R.M.Gilbert

Traci Kenworth

Vanessa Barger

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Okay, so I never thought I’d have a blog entry entitled “The Dogman” but last week on our camping trip we had a crazy experience. At first I was like, okay, not sure if I want to share this with everyone, but then I figured other people might have had similar experiences and this might be a good opportunity to hear some of them.

One of the places we stayed in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan was Fayette (which is an old ghost town that the state park is attached to).

It’s on the lakeshore but has a lot of wooded area. The woods have really bizarre trees and odd outcroppings of rocks/moss etc. The first thing I said to my hubby and kids after we got our tent pitched was that the woods reminded me of a “bad” fairytale setting. Dark trees that looked like they could get up and walk because of their roots.

After we visited the ghost town and went through some of the ruins etc, we came back to our site and took a path through the woods to Lake Michigan so the kids could wade/look for rocks etc. On our way back I took a picture of my son heading up the path and the tree in it looked like it had glowing blobs stuck on the branches and some of the rocks looked like they were glowing too (I didn’t notice it at the time–not until I went back through the pics a couple of days later).

So anyway, that night after dark we brought the kids back to the beach to look at the stars. It was SO dark in the woods you couldn’t see the path (even with two flashlights). So we went back to our tent and got bundled in for the night (my hubby, me, and my daughter Erin in one room of the tent, and Chase and Barrett, my sons, in the other room of the tent). About an hour after lying down we heard a low growl from behind the tent.

Erin is like “Mom, did you hear that?”

And of course I was like “Um, yeah.”

And my hubby said he heard it too, but told us just to be quiet and try and sleep. About twenty minutes later, our fire had come back to life again and all of a sudden we saw a shadow pass outside our tent. It was standing on two feet like a human and walking by, but had a wolf/dog type face. My daughter grabbed my shoulders and jerked me back

Erin said, “Mom, did you see that.”

My first thought was that my hubby was messing around so I whipped around and was like “Tim, knock it off.”

Looking back now, I seriously don’t even know how I could’ve thought it was him. The thing walked right by our tent, on two legs, with a flipping dog-head.

But anyway my hubby was lying with his hands under his head staring at the side of the tent. He’s like, “That wasn’t me. I don’t know what the hell that was.”

And Erin swore up and down that my hubby hadn’t moved.

So now, I’m freaked the hell out because there are legends in Michigan about something that people call “The Dogman” which has been spotted all over the state. And I’m talking some of these stories go back years.
I can’t explain what it was because I don’t know of any dogs that walk on their hind legs like a human for that long. And definitely not up the small incline that was at the edge of the woods where it came from. And yet the story gets creepier.

After that happened my hubby and daughter finally went to sleep and I couldn’t sleep (of course, I was kind of freaked out). About an hour later I heard something breathing heavy on the other side of my tent, so I scooted closer to my hubby and daughter and it quit.

I know for a fact that no one was out there, because it was too dark–they would’ve had to have had flashlights, and well, I didn’t see any.

When daylight hit we scoured our campsite for footprints but didn’t find any. My daughter, hubby, and I went over what we’d seen several times. My sons, who’d slept through the whole thing, were freaked.

Since I wasn’t the only one who saw or heard stuff I know it had to have happened. I’ve seriously never had anything so strange happen in my life. It was totally crazy and I feel like a crazy person even writing it down.

I kept the site number (#34) written down and told my hubby that we have to go up again, but next time bring something to record it or try and take pictures. I was scared to death but need to know what in the world was going on. That was the one night my hubby didn’t have any knives or anything in the tent otherwise we might have opened the screen to see what it was.

Nothing else like that happened for the rest of the trip only in Fayette by the old ghost town (strange).

So yeah, my vacation was memorable and this is a story/happening that me, my hubby, and daughter won’t ever forget! And I still can’t get over it. When we got home I scoured the internet (as did my hubby) to see if anyone else had anything like that happen to them up in Fayette. But the only thing we found was on article about a lady that had seen “little people” (the Native American legends) about 25 miles north of where we were, a place we’d visited earlier that day.

But the Dogman has been spotted all over the state. Was that what we saw? I’m not sure, but I don’t know what else it could’ve been.

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Welcome again to YAFF Muse: blog rounds. The ladies of YA Fiction Fanatics have come together for YAFF Muse. To have a little fun, explore different styles of writing and to give you some kick-butt shorts to read.  Enjoy!

iturnedaround by: inessaemilia

Pain crackled beneath my skin as I bolted from bed. My heart raced with fear and I tugged the edge of my night shirt down over my shoulder.

Oh God, it was me. I was marked.

 

“Kataline, you need to come eat breakfast, it’s nearly dawn,” Mother called.

I took a staggered breath. What could I say to my family? After father died I’d become the main provider, now they’d have to survive without me.

My door swung open and my sister, Natalia, came in and hugged my waist. “I’m scared that they’ll pick me to send,” she whispered.

“No, the townsfolk won’t ever choose you,” I said, forcing a smile. “Now come along before your breakfast gets cold.” I grabbed her hand and led her to the kitchen table.

Griddle cakes and sausage scented the air and Mother poured me a cup of tea. I wanted to tell her I’d been chosen, but the words became lodged and I cleared my throat. She eyed me curiously and I stood, sipping the steaming chamomile tea.

“We best hurry or we’ll be late to the town square. You know how they hate late comers,” Mother said.

“I’m not hungry. I think I’ll just make my bed.”

I hurried back to my room. Ripping open my drawer, I took out the leather pouch that I’d been saving money in. After scribbling a quick note, I left it on my dresser, hoping Mother would use it to get food for Natalia or to purchase firewood.  

“Mother says we have to go.” Natalia poked her head in my door.

“I’ll be right there.” Closing my eyes, I took a deep breath and said a silent goodbye to my room before scurrying outside where my mother and sister awaited me.

“Aren’t you going to change?” Mother raised a quizzical brow.

A nervous chuckle fell from my lips. “No. This is what I’m comfortable in.”

“Kataline, what’s wrong?” she whispered, clutching my arm as we made our way through the woods, toward the clearing.

“Nothing. Just you watch after Natalia. There’s already quite a crowd lined up.”

The wooden scaffold was set up and the magistrate had his gavel in hand trying to quiet the people of Stone Hollow. Families huddled together, fear etched on their faces. The youngest seemed unaffected, having never had to live through the Marking Ceremony.

“Good people, I ask that you remain silent so that we may get this over with. As you know, every nine years He comes,” the Magistrate began. “He is looking for her. And until he finds her, we must abide by his laws. The Goddess has forsaken us and will not give to him that which he desires most.”

The Gods and Goddesses, it was there doing. Their petty wars and games, we were nothing but pawns. The Goddess had banished his soul mate to human form and had hidden her. And so He exacted his revenge on the humans that worshipped the Goddess. Every nine years he came and took one of the females away.

“Who amongst us has been marked for Him?” The magistrate scanned the crowd.

“It is I, Kataline of the Draconust family,” I said, stepping forward. My mother whimpered beside me, Natalia gripped my hand. But I shook her off, catching Dalin’s eye. God, I couldn’t look at him. He’d been working hard to save up enough money to propose.

People cleared a path for me and the magistrate handed me the scroll. He cut my hand with the end of his blade and I dipped the pen into it and signed my name. A blood oath that I was to be the next sacrifice.

The village elders pounded on their drums as I turned and headed down the darkened path, toward the lake. My body quaked as I neared the dock, my night shirt barely warding off the brisk morning air. Fog clung to the water like a sweater and I stared off into the distance, standing on the edge of the dock.

The wooden boat came, its driver cloaked and standing tall, a large oar in hand. From within the woods, I heard the townspeople gather. They must give witness to the deed.

“Please, not my Kataline,” Mother wailed.

I wanted to turn and comfort her, but instead I stared ahead. I needed to be brave. Water lapped against the dock as the boatman drew closer. The wind picked up, the sky darkening.

At last the rowboat stopped. “Show me your mark,” a deep voice commanded.

My hands trembled as I pulled down the shirt to reveal it to him.

I heard a sharp intake of breath then he said, “Get into the boat.”

Taking hold of my waist, he helped me in then began to paddle away. I sat on the seat, eyes moving up his tall frame until I met his gaze.

Oh God, I knew him. I’d seen him every night in my dreams, since I was a child.

“I know you,” I whispered.

He stopped paddling and pulled me to my feet. “At last,” he said, touching his hand to the mark. “I’ve found you, my dearest love. The Goddess could not keep us apart.”

His hood fell away, revealing his monstrous features. Oh God, what had she done to him? I wanted to scream, but instead, I made myself kiss him. His lips scorched mine. Today it ended.

He found me.

THE END…

Thanks for coming by. Please drop by my fellow YAFFers blogs and don’t forget to leave a comment.

Cambria Dillon

Mindy Buchanan

R.M.Gilbert

Traci Kenworth

Vanessa Barger

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Welcome again to YAFF Muse: blog rounds. The ladies of YA Fiction Fanatics have come together for YAFF Muse. To have a little fun, explore different styles of writing and to give you some kick-butt shorts to read.  Enjoy! And make sure you check out the other fab stories by my fellow YAFF ladies (their links are below).

kozarevets story 2 by: pstoev

GOOD GIRL

With my backpack slung over my shoulder, I tugged open the rusted mailbox and grabbed the stack of mail for Mrs. Barberry. The wrought iron gate squealed like a pig as I shoved into the overgrown yard.

Several cats sat on the porch meowing. An ancient biked parked alongside the house, tattered rope hanging from it. On cue, Mrs. Barberry poked her head out from the door, her gray hair pulled into a severe bun, her face heavy with wrinkles.

“Emily, how are you?” she asked, grabbing the mail from me.

“Great.” I smiled. “Two more days of school then I’m free for the summer.”

“Ah, yes. Swimming, ice cream, boys,” she teased. “Pretty little thing like you ought to have a boyfriend.”

Heat raced up my cheeks. I didn’t want to discuss my love life or lack there of with Barberry the Cat Woman. She barely came out of her house except to collect pop cans that littered our street.

“Maybe this summer,” I said. “If you need me to come mow your lawn, I can do it this weekend.”

“Actually, my grandson, Thaniel is coming for his summer visit. So I won’t need you again until the autumn. Unless of course, you’d like to stop in for lemonade sometime.”

I shifted, my foot brushing against the newspaper on her stoop. Bending down, I picked it up. Missing Teen the headline read. Nothing new there. Every summer seemed to bring more partiers to the beach. Kids would drink, get stupid, and obviously pay the consequences.

“Didn’t realize the paper was still out here,” Mrs. Barberry said, taking it from me. “Run along Emily and be a good girl.”

How was it that the only friend I had in this stupid town was old enough to be my great grandma? With a wave goodbye, I headed home.

***

As the school bus pulled away the next day, I noticed movement from Mrs. Barberry’s yard. Crossing the street, I watched Bryce Colfer and Felicia Pelton grabbing her old bike.

“Hey, what are you doing?” I yelled.

Bryce snapped, “Get out of my way.”

“That bike’s not yours, put it back.” My hands fisted, I charged forward but Bryce easily knocked me down. I landed on my butt, hand catching on a broken bottle. Pain shot through my palm as blood ran down my arm.

“You better keep your mouth shut, bitch,” Felicia said.

Climbing to my feet, I watched them hurry off. Maybe I should tell Mrs. Barberry. But with another glance at the wound, I knew I better clean up first. No need to give her a heart attack.

After bandaging my hand, I crept past the couch where my uncle was passed out, again. There had to be something more than this.

Just then, a knock sounded at the door. My breath caught in my throat when I answered. A tall, dark haired boy smiled down at me.

“Hi, I’m Thaniel Barberry. I’m wondering if you’ve seen this bike?” He handed over an old black and white photo.

I took the picture. In it, standing with the bike were Mrs. Barberry, still looking ancient and Thaniel. God it was old.

“Some kids stole it,” I said, giving him the picture back. “I tried to stop them…”

He caught my bandaged hand and raised it to his lips. My heart thudded in my ears.

“Can you tell me where to find them?” He released me.

“I’ll show you where they live.”

When we came to Locust Street, I pointed to the houses and watched his eyes grow dark.

“Thank you, Emily. You really are a good girl, just like Grandma said.” He smiled, wrapping a tendril of my hair around one of his fingers. “And yet you are forced to live with bad people.”

I swallowed the lump in my throat. How did he know about my aunt and uncle? “I hope you get the bike back.”

“I will.”

And with that, I raced home.

***

Two days later on my way home from the store; I saw the front page of the paper. Two Local Teens Missing, Bryce Colfer and Felicia Pelton. Maybe it was a coincidence or maybe not.

“Emily,” Mrs. Barberry called as I walked by.

Stopping, I swung open the gate. “Yeah.”

“Will you come in for a moment?” She opened her door. The scent of burning wood drifted out and then I saw Thaniel smiling at me.

“Sure.”

A cast iron cauldron hung from the hearth as we entered the kitchen. Next to that was an oven large enough to shove someone into. Oh God. I shook my head, not needing the Hansel and Gretel images.

“Thaniel and I have been talking. And you’re such a good girl. You deserve only the best,” Mrs. Barberry said, patting my shoulder.

I fidgeted with my hands. “I try.”

Thaniel stepped closer, his fingers brushing against my cheek. “You have to stay with us, forever.”

“Yes, forever,” Mrs. Barberry said.

“And you would take care of me?” I asked.

“Always,” Thaniel whispered, his lips grazed mine. “All you have to do is help us rid the world of bad people.”

“When do I start?”

“Now,” Thaniel kissed me again, handing me a knife.

I was a good girl, who always did what she was told.

 

Cambria Dillon

Mindy Buchanan

R.M. Gilbert

Traci Kenworth

Vanessa Barger

Jennifer Fischetto

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