Not only has she written twelve books for Siren Bookstrand, but Morgan also pens the thought provoking articles “Wednesday’s Words” that appear on many Yahoo loops every … well, Wednesday.
I know Morgan because she and I are both members of the Toronto Romance Writers. I love the TRW because they are the most supportive group of women I’ve ever met. If it wasn’t for Morgan, and the other TRW ladies–Amy, Brooke, JK, Kimber and Robie (whom you’ll meet next week) amongst others too numerous to mention–I would never have taken the plunge and started this blog, I wouldn’t have gotten up the courage to submit my first manuscript. Or my second. Or my third. When I put out the call for authors to help me celebrate, the first place I posted was on the TRW loop – and Morgan was one of the first people who put her hand up.
So help me welcome her to my blog and wish her a very Happy Birthday.
Huge thanks to Leah for inviting me to be a guest on her blog. July 21 is the anniversary of the birth of one of the twentieth century’s most unique writers – Ernest Hemingway.
It is also my birthday, and today I turn 55. I don’t know where the time has gone. When I take five and go inside myself, into my thoughts and memories, I still feel 21.
Thank God that I am not.
I’ve come a long way, and the last few years have been jam-packed with excitement, with learning new things, doing new things and going new places. And in the last few years I have fully metamorphosed into what I was meant to be from the moment of my birth, if not before.
I’m a writer.
Now, when I worked in the field of accounting, one thing that was said about me by co-workers—and it wasn’t said kindly—was that I treated my ‘job’ like it was a ‘career’.
It would be no surprise to any of them, then, that I treat the work that I do as if each novel was in fact the greatest novel in the world.
I know it’s not. But I’m that serious about the work I do, the stories I weave, and the characters I create.
I have as yet sought no other publisher; I’m busy enough with the one I have, and I am still learning. The time will come for me to move on, but that time is not yet here.
I write erotic romance, which of course invites all kinds of interesting comments from some people.
I’m 55 and I know how not to listen when that is called for.
I’m also e-published, which has also invited all kinds of interesting comments from some people. Like I said, I’m 55 and know how not to listen…
I wanted to talk today about writing, about a facet of writing that comes closest to my heart.
The story comes first. And the story, for me, is all about the characters.
Probably the question I’m asked most often—usually by non-writers—is ‘where do you get your ideas?’
There is no single answer for that, because for authors, the ideas come—or they don’t. But if I were to answer this question for fellow authors (who have never asked me, of course), I would have to say the ideas—the full blown beginning, middle and end of them—come from the characters themselves.
The key to whether or not your story settles into the hearts of your readers is the quality of your characters.
First, the readers have to like them. Seriously. The ideal, of course, is to have your reader fall in love with your characters, but gosh, let’s at least get them to like them first. You can have your hero or heroine go through a “series of unfortunate events” where for a time they aren’t looking too heroic or even likeable—after you first allow your readers to develop a bond with them.
My characters all possess qualities I have observed in people, but they are never imitations of friends/family/enemies with simply the names changed. That, to my mind, is cheating. The test of good writing is creating characters that seem real. Characters who do or say things off the cuff, who make you laugh or cry or gnash your teeth in frustration. One of the best comments I ever got, and this before I was published, was from a male critique group member who said, “you really get men.”
How real should these creations of your imagination be? Your characters have to breathe.
Your characters must face challenges and self-doubts and desires that resonate with your readers. The best example of one of my novels where this both does, and does not happen, is Lily In Bloom.
My older readers (35 and up) love Lily. They get her, hell, they have even been her. And what they wouldn’t have given (or so many of them have told me) for a man like Ryan. My younger readers (under 35) have told me that it took them a long time to like and respect Lily. That she didn’t seem realistic to them. And why would she? The stereo-types and role expectations experienced by over 35s and under 35s are vastly different. Lily was a character born out of my heart and soul, and I haven’t seen 35 for a good couple of decades.
The difference in perception of the readers of this novel—the clearly defined straight down the middle cut of it—didn’t surprise me. In fact that is the reaction that I expected. So why did I write the book? Because Lily insisted I tell her story.
Ah yes, my characters talk to me. They commit mutiny from time to time, but only when I betray them by trying to have them say or do what they would never really say or do. And that brings me to my biggest point about characters.
You need to know your characters inside-out and backwards. You need to be able to answer any question on their behalf, and answer it correctly. You need to know approximately ten times more about them than you will ever reveal directly to the reader. That is the only way you can prevent writing a story where the character comes off phony. And in getting to know your character, you will find his or her story materializes for you that much more clearly.
If you take care to write good characters, you can get away with the most outrageous story lines. A cruise down my backlist will tell you this is true. I have gotten at least one 5 star rating for every single novel I have published to date. And in every one of those fabulous reviews, the quality of the characters—their empathic nature, their universal appeal—is cited as the one aspect that rises above everything else.
It even, as a facet, out-shines the sex.
Nothing could please me more.
Even though it’s her birthday and usually the birthday girl gets the presents, Morgan’s giving one lucky commenter a $5 Amazon gift certificate.
And since both Morgan and I are of an age that we remember when the Beatles were together …