Guest Post | Writing Believable Characters by Brenda Chapman

“Writing Believable Characters”

By Brenda Chapman

Human beings lead messy, complicated lives. To be believable, characters in novels need to mirror the conflicted personalities of very real people. Without ambiguities and nuances, a character runs the risk of becoming a one-dimensional caricature.

Creating believable characters can be accomplished by writing internal dialogue that shows the struggles going on inside. The reader is allowed into secret places that build understanding and often empathy even if the character chooses the wrong path. In the case of murder mysteries, the muddier the victim’s life, the more opportunity there is to reveal them as a fully formed and complicated person. This holds true for the killer as well. Skillful writing can lead readers into feeling sympathy for the villain while denouncing their actions.

Dialogue is a second tool in a writer’s kit that can make a character believable. A writer needs to be attuned to language patterns and expressions used by real people. The trick is giving enough dialogue to make a character come to life while writing concisely — distilling a conversation to information that moves a scene forward.

The decision to write a story in the first or third person has tremendous impact on revealing character. In the case of first person, the reader receives all the information filtered through the lens of the narrator. The character who is telling the story becomes like a friend confiding a narrative from their viewpoint. They can toy with the reader’s emotions and build a connection. This point of view is easiest for writing internal dialogue but can pose a challenge for developing secondary characters since readers do not have access to their thoughts and feelings in the same way.

Writing in third person lets the author into the internal lives of as many characters as they wish. Characters can give their thoughts and feelings about other characters and can give insight into their own motivations. This point of view can feel less intimate than first person, however. The reader is not privy to the internal workings of one character to the same degree.

Another way to make characters believable is to ground them in the routines and concerns common to everyone. A character might drink coffee in the morning, take the bus to work, eat tuna fish sandwiches for lunch, disagree with their boss. Every detail builds to create a whole person. The objective is to make readers believe the character is real and to care what happens to them.

I am always tickled to have readers talk about my characters as if they exist. Some tell me that they’ve stayed up all night reading because they need to know what happens to them. As a fiction writer, creating imaginary but believable people out of words alone and making readers feel something for them is nothing short of magical when all the pieces come together.



ABOUT BRENDA CHAPMAN
Brenda 1 publicity photo 2016Brenda Chapman is a Canadian crime writer who has penned three series and a few standalone novels. She currently has seventeen books published since her first release in 2004, entitled Running Scared, which was the first of four books in the Jennifer Bannon young adult mysteries.

Brenda is now writing two separate series for two different publishers— the Anna Sweet novellas for adult literacy with Grass Roots Press; and the Stonechild and Rouleau police procedural series for Dundurn Press.

Her books have been shortlisted for several major awards including the 2006 Canadian Library Association Book of the Year Award for Children (Hiding in Hawk’s Creek), two Golden Oak Awards for adult literacy (The Second Wife and The Hard Fall) and two Crime Writers of Canada Arthur Ellis Awards for novella and crime novel of the year respectively (My Sister’s Keeper and Cold Mourning).

The fifth in the Anna Sweet mysteries entitled No Trace was released in September 2016, with the sixth, Missing Her being released this fall. The fourth in the Stonechild and Rouleau series entitled Shallow End was published in March 2017. Watch for the fifth entitled Bleeding Darkness to be released in May 2018.

Brenda is a former special education teacher and senior communications advisor, now writing full time. She lives in Ottawa.

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Guest Post | “You Mean We Get to Read a Fun Book?” By A.J. Cattapan

“You Mean We Get to Read a Fun Book?”

Young Adult Literature in the Middle School and High School Classroom

By A.J. Cattapan

December 24th Post Image

 

As a young adult author and an English teacher, the use of young adult literature in the classroom has always fascinated me. When I was in junior high, young adult books were just starting to become popular. Judy Blume, Lois Duncan, and R.L. Stine were all the rage, but we saw those books in the library—not in the classroom.

By the late 1990s, however, things had changed. Teachers were starting to see the value of incorporating young adult literature into their actual curriculum and not just as “fun books” to read during independent reading time. Why?

Teachers realized the potential young adult books had to pull in even reluctant readers. Since young adult books focus on teenage characters dealing with problems and situations that many teens can relate to, middle school and high school students find them very appealing and accessible, much more so than the traditional “canon” of classical books.

So over the last twenty years, more and more teachers have found ways to use young adult books in their rooms. Even more importantly, this doesn’t have to happen at the expense of the classics. In fact, many reading teachers will often pair a young adult novel with a classical novel on a similar theme in order to compare and contrast them. The young adult novel often acts as a “hook” to get the students interested in the theme. The YA novel is usually easier to read than the classic book, so that students can kind of “warm up” to the topic before diving into the more difficult text.

For example, in my own sixth grade gifted reading class, my students are required to read at least two contemporary mystery novels over the summer. Since the books are modern-day YA or upper middle grade mysteries, the students can read them easily on their own over the summer. Then when the school year starts up, we talk about how deception played a role in these mysteries. How were the criminals deceptive? Did their deception help them or hinder them? How did the detectives use deception to help them capture the criminals? Then we move into our classical texts, Murder on the Orient Express and The Hound of the Baskervilles. Having already explored deception through young adult literature, the students are primed to explore the same theme in increasingly more challenging texts.

Social studies teachers are also making use of young adult literature in the classroom. They will use a historical young adult novel from the time period they are discussing in class in order to make that era come to life for their students.

So we won’t tell the classics that they need to go bye-bye. Just move on down the shelf a bit, and make a little room for some YA.


Giveaway

Everyone who comments will be entered to win their choice of 5 of Vinspire Publishing’s young adult titles in ebook format.


About A.J. Cattapan

A.J. Cattapan is a writer, teacher, and theater lover living in the Chicago area. Her love of the theater began in the sixth grade when her mother took her to see a production of Guys and Dolls at the local high school.  That same year, her reading teacher introduced her to Anne of Green Gables, and the dream to become a writer began.

All things come full circle, and now she’s a sixth grade reading and language arts teacher who hopes to inspire the next generation of writers. You can follow her writing adventures at http://www.ajcattapan.com

 

 

Blog Tour | Guest Post | “The Key Takeaway of Happy Habits” By Vicki Morris

“The Key Takeaway of Happy Habits”

By Vicki Morris

My new book, Happy Habits: Energize Your Career and Life in 4 Minutes a Day takes a groundbreaking approach to happiness: it uses pre-established daily actions (habits) and builds on them to cultivate a deep-rooted sense of joy and gratitude that can be achieved in just four minutes per day.

Why Four Minutes?

The Happy Habits system is based on the proven methodology that if you can include three energy-raising activities in your daily routine and build on pre-existing habits by incorporating a level of consciousness, you can experience a sense of happiness that extends far beyond those four minutes.

Each day, participants complete three different minute-long activities (called “mini energizers”) that transform your daily routine and help you feel a sense of peace, gratitude, and most importantly, happiness. Then, one minute is spent on recording success. It’s a foolproof approach that’s easy for anyone – even those with jam-packed schedules – to do.

How Can Happiness be Created through Habits?

Most people just like I used to make the mistake of looking for happiness in all the wrong places. We think we will be happier if we just get something we are missing – like a new job, a new location, a new home, a new promotion, a new raise, etc.. But, most people find that a few months after you get what you wanted, you are still unhappy. So, we come up with something new we think we need to make us happy and pursue it. But, this is an unhappiness loop.

Ironically, we already have everything we need to find happiness. Happiness cannot be found in an external person, place or thing in the future. You can only be happy in the present and within yourself. Right now, you could begin the journey towards happiness – all you have to do first is to make the choice to get there.

For most of us, the majority of the day is spent on routines and things we do on auto-pilot. We go about our days without thinking about our actions – we’ve learned them as habits and therefore complete them as a means to an end. But happiness is not an “endpoint.” We can cultivate happiness on a recurring basis by incorporating mindfulness to our existing routine and establishing a higher sense of self through energy raisers that require only four minutes per day but last much, much longer in terms of benefits.

Who Will Benefit Most from Happy Habits?

The short answer is ANYONE! Every person can find four minutes per day to raise their energy and focus on becoming the best versions of their selves to achieve happiness. Since Happy Habits includes energy-raising tips for both career and life, it is especially helpful to people who are going through a career or life transition. The reason I say this is because we spend a great deal of our lives at work, and many of our daily habits revolve around our jobs. If we can approach these habits with positivity and happiness, then we are truly achieving joy from within.

Also, if you are currently out of work or are experiencing some difficulties at work, the stresses of the job search or dealing with workplace issues can be taxing. You need a way to increase your energy, regain your confidence and welcome each day with a sense of hope and possibility. Developing Happy Habits helps, because it allows each person to evoke gratitude, joy, awareness, and positivity without disrupting daily responsibilities. Happy Habits are beneficial for absolutely everyone, but they’re especially helpful for anyone who might need a little boost in career and life.



ABOUT VICKI MORRIS:

Vicki Morris Author PhotoVicki Morris is the Career Happiness Coach, founder of InspiredWork.com and creator of the InspiredWork™ Career Transformation System, blending twenty-five years of experience as a high tech hiring manager, inspirational business leader, brand strategist, career mentor, and spiritual practitioner. InspiredWork helps professionals raise their energy with Happy Habits to create their own inspired work and brand so they can be happy at work and love their life.

Prior to InspiredWork, Vicki was the founder and CEO of a global marketing agency. Before that, she was VP of Marketing at several Global 2000 and Inc. 500 software companies. Earlier in her career, Vicki launched Java at Sun and she was awarded the President’s Award. Vicki started her career at Oracle, while completing her MBA at the University of Chicago. She also has a Bachelor’s degree in Foreign Service from Georgetown University. During her career, Vicki published numerous articles and presented at conferences in more than 30 countries.

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*Media Kit prepared by Susan Barton, My Book Tour

 

Blog Tour | Guest Post | “The Inspiration behind Happy Habits: Why I Wrote this Book” By Vicki Morris

“The Inspiration behind Happy Habits: Why I Wrote this Book”

By Vicki Morris

Recently I published my first full-length book, Happy Habits: Energize Your Career and Life in 4 Minutes a Day. For me, this has been a rewarding and fulfilling experience because I have been trying to find a way to be happier in my career and life for years. And now that I have found a new approach that combines proven energy-raising happiness techniques with a scientific habit-creation methodology I am excited to share it with everyone.

The External Search for a Happiness Solution

I have had my share of ups and downs, both in my career and in my life in general. But, I was constantly looking for happiness outside of myself. I thought I would be happier if I just got a better job, got a new home, moved to a new location, got a promotion so I could manage people and feel empowered. But, I soon realized that a few months after I got what I wanted, I still felt unhappy. What I learned is that looking for happiness in some external person, place or thing in the future is a recipe for a career and life of unhappiness. Unfortunately, I think many people life this way. Yet, I found that nothing can make you feel happier, if you don’t know how to cultivate happiness from within.

Reversing the Approach: Pursuing Inward Happiness

With my newfound knowledge that happiness could be pursued from the inside, I decided to change my ways. I looked for solutions that started with the individual. I did extensive research on happiness and consulted many studies based on hard facts and research. Eventually, I discovered that the easiest way to improve your life is by changing your daily habits.

Our actions are largely shaped by our habits. Most of these habits are done without any level of consciousness associated with them – think about it: you brush your teeth, have breakfast, commute, and so forth, mostly without applying any mindset towards these actions. That’s natural. But we can actually take an inward approach to pursuing happiness by creating mindful habits that allow us to take ourselves out of the monotony – if only just for four minutes per day – to embrace a more positive, energy-raising approach to work and life that has widespread benefits that extend to the rest of the day.

The Responsibility to Share my Findings

I believe that we all have a purpose. When we achieve our greatest possible sense of happiness, we can tap into that purpose and become the best versions of ourselves. For me, the best, most inspiring and rewarding version of myself is achieved through career coaching. As someone who encourages others to find the career that suits them best and inspires them to share their talents with the world, I believe that it is my personal responsibility to share the Happy Habits system so everyone can pursue the same level of happiness that I have found and that I share with all of my clients to become happy, empowered, grateful, and at ease both at work and in life.

My ultimate goal for this book is to create an approach to happiness that focuses on the individual – because each person is different – and one that is accessible for everyone. That’s why Happy Habits is beneficial to all: it takes just four minutes a day, and it doesn’t require any resources that you don’t already have. My system has worked for me and for others, and I know that it can work for you, too.



ABOUT VICKI MORRIS:

Vicki Morris Author PhotoVicki Morris is the Career Happiness Coach, founder of InspiredWork.com and creator of the InspiredWork™ Career Transformation System, blending twenty-five years of experience as a high tech hiring manager, inspirational business leader, brand strategist, career mentor, and spiritual practitioner. InspiredWork helps professionals raise their energy with Happy Habits to create their own inspired work and brand so they can be happy at work and love their life.

Prior to InspiredWork, Vicki was the founder and CEO of a global marketing agency. Before that, she was VP of Marketing at several Global 2000 and Inc. 500 software companies. Earlier in her career, Vicki launched Java at Sun and she was awarded the President’s Award. Vicki started her career at Oracle, while completing her MBA at the University of Chicago. She also has a Bachelor’s degree in Foreign Service from Georgetown University. During her career, Vicki published numerous articles and presented at conferences in more than 30 countries.

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*Media Kit prepared by Susan Barton, My Book Tour

 

Blog Tour | Guest Post | “Wrapping It All Up: Making an Ending with Finality” By Blake Gardner

“Wrapping It All Up: Making an Ending with Finality”

By Blake Gardner

The best way to draw in your reader has always been the first chapter. It will be what you read first, and will introduce you to the world. The middle is what keeps readers interested and reading the book throughout. What about the ending? The truth is if you have a lack-luster ending, there’s nothing to bring you back for the next book, which is essential if you’re book is a series. Crafting a good ending is the best way to keep the reader satisfied.

First off, you have to wrap up all the loose ends. If there are questions that need to be answered, you have to answer them. Of course, there should be more than enough room for you to continue the story, but if it’s a stand-alone novel then you should feel like there is nothing left to tell.

Should you leave you readers with a cliff hanger that makes them wanting the next book as soon as they finish it? I’ve always enjoyed a good plot a twist, especially if I didn’t see it coming. Even if you know there will be one, the results of the twist should be something you didn’t expect.

In the beginning, there was the world that you were introduced to, and in the end, there should be answers that reveal hidden things about that world.



ABOUT BLAKE GARDNER

Blake Gardner Author Photo 2Blake Gardner is a debut author from Michigan. He has always had a love of reading. Writing interested him from a young age. For a short period, Blake found himself without a driver’s license and decided to write a book with all his spare time. “You can think of a great number of imaginative things while waiting,” Blake says. He loves sharing his work with readers. Blake encourages readers to connect with him via his website, and on Twitter and Facebook.

 

*Media Kit prepared by Susan Barton, My Book Tour.

Blog Tour | Guest Post | “A Hero’s Journey” by Blake Gardner

“A Hero’s Journey”

by Blake Gardner

A hero can be found in many stories. They can be found in everyday life. The hero triumphs over adversity and succeeds in the end. There are many different versions of a hero but their stories all have similar endings. This can be said of my story too. The main character in Inhuman Emergence: Innocence, Owen, could be called a classic hero. But nothing can be as black and white as the story of Heracles, whose story has a singular character that fulfills the roles of the main character, the protagonist, and the hero. It is from this ancient Greek demi-god’s name that we derive the word hero.

My book follows a main character closely. Owen is more of an incidental hero than the ones that seek out their own glory. He finds himself in a situation and at first refuses to be the hero. But his journey leads him to be a classic hero. Yet, things are not definitive as that. He is not the singular force that brings about the change a normal hero does. He is a leader, one thing that many heroic figures in a story could not claim. Being a leader is rare in today’s culture. Our youth may gain popularity or admiration through social media but it is a rarity for them to rally those that may follow to a cause.

Sometimes there is no discernable source to a viral video. It may be that there is a random photo or video that is posted by a person that has no idea that it will spread like a digital wildfire across the globe. From the outset of the ALS ice bucket challenge the person could have never know it would help the cause in such a significant way. Ordinary heroes are often not recognized; many never intend to make such a difference. That’s just what it takes for a hero to sway the forces of good to a just cause, a righteous act in the name of love and goodwill.

Society is ultimately connected in such an intricate way that small nudge in the right direction will cause history to change course. A single speech or small gesture can make so much more of a difference than all the ill will and calamity that we experience throughout our lives. Mine is the story of the incidental hero, one that does well not because he wants to change the world, but because he knew it was the right thing to do. Heroic actions don’t always have to change the world, and a single person can’t do it alone.



 

ABOUT BLAKE GARDNER

Blake Gardner Author Photo 2Blake Gardner is a debut author from Michigan. He has always had a love of reading. Writing interested him from a young age. For a short period, Blake found himself without a driver’s license and decided to write a book with all his spare time. “You can think of a great number of imaginative things while waiting,” Blake says. He loves sharing his work with readers. Blake encourages readers to connect with him via his website, and on Twitter and Facebook.

 

*Media Kit prepared by Susan Barton, My Book Tour.