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Friday, November 21, 2008


My CP’s and I have been having difficulty getting together lately. Between sick kids, traveling for work or just lifus interruputs in general, we’ve only met twice since September. Meliss still didn’t make it, but Kat and I had a great time. (Since we meet at a mall Barnes & Noble location, it’s probably also the last time we’ll have a quiet place to meet or a halfway decent place to park until mid-January or so, LOL).

It was fun to catch up, but best of all, when we’d finished critiquing we did some brainstorming. I’ve had only the tiniest seed of an idea for a time travel story (involving the civil war, of course) –and by the time we left, we had practically plotted the entire thing! (Now if only I had time to actually write it, LOL). I was so excited I tossed and turned half the night thinking about it!

Don’cha just love when that happens?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Guest Blogging: It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year....

Well, LOL, almost. But whether you're a Bah Humbug or a Christmas nut, (like me!) you can't help but feel just a little inspired by the snow-globe like snow that has been falling in my neck of the woods the past few days.

I'm blogging about my life-long love of all things red and green and twinkly on author Dayana Knight's blog today.

Be sure to leave a comment, I'll be giving away a free PDF copy of my holiday release Small Town Christmas .

Now sing along with me..."It's those holiday meetings and gay happy greetings when friends come to call...."

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Welcome Speical Guest: Kat Henry Doran

They say time flies when you're having fun, so maybe that's why it's so hard to believe I have considered today's guest among my very closest friends for close to ten years now. I can still remember the day she invited this frustrated writer to join her critique group. It literally changed my life, since I probalby wouldn't be writing today if she hadn't. (Or at least not writing as well, LOL)

So it's rather fitting that my first-ever guest blogger is the woman who taught me everything I know about writing. She does it better than anyone I know. Without further adieu, I give you Kat Henry

Doran. (Please excuse the underlining, I have no idea how to get rid of it!)

Hey, my friend, thank you so much for offering me the opportunity to make a few comments about characterization and how to create viable, unforgettable characters.

First, we should think about the characters we already know and love, then decide what makes us keep returning to either watch them on the TV screen each week [Brenda Lee Johnson from TNT's The Closer] or read [again] our tattered copies of Kathleen Woodiweiss or Harry Potter or Eve Dallas and Rourke.

I will grant you that some of Ms. Woodiweiss' books go back to the 70's and 80's but the characters are unforgettable:

1. “Ashes in The Wind” takes place in the American Civil War. The hero, Cole, is a US Army surgeon; Alaina is a rose of the south, who must disguise herself as a boy in order to survive.

2. “A Rose in Winter” is a funny, dangerous, and mysterious story patterned after Beauty and the Beast.

3. “Shanna” has the hot sullen influence of the Caribbean Islands as a background and moves between England, the Caribbean, and the pre-Revolutionary War American colonies. The heroine, Shanna, in order to meet her father's dictate that she marry, finds a man in an English jail who is bound for the hanging tree. She has him cleaned up; they marry based on her promise of one night of marital bliss—but just as the bliss is about to take place, she chickens out and sends him off to be hung. He escapes and follows her to the Caribbean as an indentured servant. Of course he's looking for “bliss” while she's looking for peace and quiet. Another hoot of a story.

4. And we cannot forget “The Flame and the Flower” the story of Brandon Birmingham and his marriage of convenience to Heather, whom he calls the “little purple flower of the moors”.

How do we build characters? How do we intrigue the reader into turning the pages, and coming back for more? Try throwing them into the deep end of a strange pool—and be sure to keep a few boulders hidden beneath the surface to keep them on their toes.

Brenda Lee Johnson, a police officer known as The Closer for her skills in closing cases by getting suspects to confess, is a transplanted Georgia peach who finds herself lured to the Los Angeles Police Department by a former lover/Deputy Chief of the LAPD with promises he never intends to keep. Brenda finds herself heading up a renegade bunch of detectives who investigate priority homicides. She is a woman who has built her wardrobe at the local Volunteers of America store, never leaves a room without her over-sized handbag over one shoulder; has a passion for anything chocolate; and every other word out of her mouth is “Thank yewww, thank yewww very much.” Now going into the fourth season [I think], each of these characters is a story in and of themselves. Lt. Provenza, who never dates women over 30, well . . . 40—if he's in the bag. Lt Flynn the late 40's Lothario with a toothpick hanging out of his mouth who has taken indolence to new heights. Detective Sanchez with dark, haunted eyes whose talents lie in understanding the culture of the barrio and Hispanic gangs. Lt Tao is a wizard with computers and Brenda's aide Sgt. Gabriel, a hunk if there ever was one with eyes to burn the soles off a woman's shoes, is destined to be chief one day. He's bright, savvy, intelligent and devoted to Brenda.

As evidenced above through Woodweiss' leading characters and the squad of detectives comprising Priority Homicide on The Closer, one way to build intriguing characters is to make them vastly different from each other. This takes some planning. I use a tool which I call the Character Interview. This is a multi-page document, a former RWA chapter mate brought back from the New Jersey Romance Writers conference many years ago. It has undergone many changes over the years but the concept remains the same. In long hand, I interview my lead characters. Before I can do that however, I have to know at least one basic thing about them.

In “Captain Marvelous” I wanted a heroine with a brain and balls to match, who will do anything to achieve her career goal of becoming a physician. Throughout the story she vows to let nothing and no one stop her. That's all I needed to interview Annie Wolfe. Why does she want to be a doctor? Why will she never marry and have children? I asked her to tell me about her family of origin; where did she grow up; did they have money, live from paycheck to paycheck, or did they eat out of dumpsters? Then I asked her to tell me about her family of the heart. Who are her friends, heroes, enemies? I need to know how she relaxes, what turns her on, what turns her off in terms of favorite foods, music, patterns of dress; what kind of car does she drive? How does she drive [like a speed demon or careful and cautious]?

I decided the hero had to be the exact opposite of Annie: staid, rigid, always in control, a single parent who wants more children, someone who follows the rules no matter what. I interviewed him, too. Captain Ronen Marvelic [get the title of the book here?] is a New York State Trooper with a steel rod up his spine. After being banished from the cultural hub of Western New York he arrives in the bowels of the earth known at Nohmensville, quickly turned into No Man's Land. This is a place where a man would take a woman to the local drive-in for a Rambo marathon or to the town dump to shoot rats. He encounters the woman who lives in the apartment across the hall from him, a long-legged, softball playing smart mouth named Annie Wolfe, aka the Wolfgirl, for her abilities at short stop. He thrives on opera; Annie considers it all a bunch of fat ladies singing their brains out. He loathes sports of any kind; she has life-sized posters of baseball players and golfers papering her apartment. Ronen is assigned to investigate the murders of six women; Annie is coerced into helping him by developing victim profiles. Throw in a landlady who's a throw-back to the 60's, a decrepit town doctor, and a 17 year old college bound teenager and the fun begins.

Before I close, I must put some emphasis on a special type of character which I have found some authors forget: Location, location, location, or setting, setting, setting. It is my belief the setting becomes another character as in:

1. Say the word/name Hogwarts and all kinds of images jump out at us.

2. Los Angeles with its freeways, and streets with similar names made Brenda Lee Johnson's life a nightmare for the first two years of the show. She continually got lost trying to find crime scenes until she bit the bullet and asked Sgt Gabriel to drive her everywhere.

3. Kathleen Woodiweiss used New Orleans and the wilds of Minnesota for “Ashes in the Wind”. Who doesn't love New Orleans?

4. She used pre-Revolutionary War Jamestown Virginia for the conclusion of Shanna. For the Caribbean portions of the story her descriptions of indentured servitude are evocative and thought provoking.

5. In my second novel, “Try Just Once More” I used Saranac Lake in Upstate New York's Adirondack Mountains because I love it, but also for its place in history for landmark strides in the pre-antibiotic treatment of TB, the influence of the Olympic games, 1932 and 1980, in nearby Lake Placid, and its small town atmosphere in general. Much of TJOM takes place at the local hospital. I am a nurse so I am comfortable writing “medical stuff”. I would not advise it for all writers—unless the POV is in the non-medical character's frame of reference. Just like if you're going to write “legal stuff” you better know what you're talking about or your story will tank faster than the Andrea Doria.

I'd be happy to share the Character Interview. People can contact me at or visit my website:

Nurse, insurance investigator, forensic nurse examiner, professional workshop presenter, seamstress, author, wife and mother; Kat Henry Doran has been there and done all that--and more.

A native of Upstate New York, Kat uses the years she spent haunting police stations, Emergency Rooms, and criminal courtrooms, advocating for victims of sexual violence, as background for her writing which has been described as brutally realistic and starkly honest.

Even though Kat has retired her speculum and no longer paces the corridors outside Grand Jury and police interrogation rooms, she continues to advocate for disenfranchised women, currently through Panties For Peace.

For excerpts of her books and information on the professional programs she presents, check out

Nic, thanks for offering me this opportunity to show off!


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veteran's Day

Please stop by and visit the Scandalous Victorians today for my blog on Veteran's Day.

Click here to sing along with Toby Keith. This song always makes me proud to be an American and proud of what our troops have accomplished. May we support them, not just on Veteran's Day but every day.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Happy Dancing

Well, I don't want to get political but let's just say...I was NOT in a good mood when I awoke this morning. *G*

And then I found this in my inbox, and all feels right with my world once again.

Hi Nicole, I have to tell you, I am reading your book The Model Man right now. It is **fabulous**

, and I am really enjoying it. Your dialogue is great, and your character development even better. Your book is waaaaayyyy better than the last three Harlequin Presents I have read.

Whatever you are doing right now, you should stop, and get back to writing!! :-)


oooh...sounds like Martha knows I haven't been writing, LOL. I can't disappoint her now can I? I really need to find a way to get out of this funk and get back to writing! Bless you Martha!


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Get Out There and Vote!

Whether your candidate is running a bit behind, or the front runner, don't forget to vote today! Never mind the polls that say she/he's so far ahead he/she can't lose--or so far behind he/she can't possibly win; polls can't predict who will actually turn out and vote.

So get out there and exercise your right as an American citizen!

Snoopy for President, anyone?

The Struggle is Real Week 8: When Life Hits Back

  It’s been nearly two weeks since my last post. Did anyone notice I was missing?   But I have good news/bad news.   The good news. I wr...