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Archive for October, 2010

My What Big Eyes You Have!

Camera Critters

Here’s another alpaca shot, taken during our visit to the Sydney Easter show earlier this year.


To see more animal photos visit Camera Critters.

Vampires, Werewolves or Ghosts…oh, my!

My guest today is author Sloan McBride. Sloan kicked off her tour on 25 October to celebrate her new blog called McBride’s Mayhem. If you follow the rest of Sloan’s blog tour you’ll learn more about her and her books. Over to Sloan…

I’m glad it’s Friday. Halloween is two days away. It’s great to be here with Shelley Munro. Thanks for having me.

I was at a Goodwill store the other day and I met a guy in line who had an arm full of books. He told me that he came to return something for his wife then laughed because he thought he was spending more on the books than he got for returning the item. I laughed too because I know how he feels when it comes to books.

Q: Have you written stories about vampires, werewolves or ghosts?

A: Vampires and werewolves, no, but I love reading them. That’s not to say I won’t be writing one or both in the future. I do have a storyline for a ghost book involving three best friends. I hope to have that one out in the not too distant future, but there are so many stories and so little time.

Please leave a comment today and be entered for the prize. Thank you for tagging along.


Interview and Giveaway at Unearthly Musings

I’m visiting Unearthly Musings today and talking about The Spurned Viscountess and other things. There’s also a giveaway. Come over and say hello.

Here’s the link to Unearthly Musings

Bullies, Bastards & Bitches!

Thursday Thirteen

I’ll often pick up a writing craft book at the library. Recently I picked up a copy of Bullies, Bastards And Bitches: How To Write The Bad Guys Of Fiction by Jessica Page Morrell. I’ve found it fascinating and definitely helpful in writing villains. The author has included a list of characteristics of villains, which is very appropriate for this time of the year. Villains abound at Halloween, right?

Thirteen Characteristics of Villains

1. Villains are consistently bad. Their behavior isn’t random or a one-off act of nastiness.

2. They have a defining event in their background that set them on their path of bad behavior.

3. They often have secrets they’re desperate to hide from others.

4. They’re not usually afraid of confrontation.

5. Villains are complicated and multi-dimensional.

6. They’re unpredictable.

7. Viallains sacrifice victims to achieve their own ends.

8. Villains often have an aspect of narcissism in their personality makeup.

9. They like to take extreme risks.

10. They’re usually alpha males or females and have underlings who defer to them.

11. Villains like to obsess about details and their plan of attack.

12. A villain controls others by using guilt and loyalty.

13. A villain plays head games and is very good at playing them.

As you can see, a hero might possess some of the above characteristics. The villain and the hero are often two parts of the same coin.

Who is your favorite fictional villain?

It’s All In The Characters

My guest today is author Jessica Chambers. She has a new women’s fiction release called Voices on the Waves available from Red Rose Publishing. Today Jessica is talking about characters and why she thinks they’re so important.

Voices on the WavesFor me, the most important part of any novel is the characters. This is particularly true of women’s fiction—one of the reasons I love both reading and writing it so much—but I believe it applies to all genres. Why do we continue turning the pages, if not to find out how things work out for the individuals involved? Is there any way for them to disentangle themselves from the mess they’ve gotten themselves into? When will the hero and heroine overcome their problems and find love? Will the protagonists ever emerge from their adventures alive?

This doesn’t mean that a strong plot isn’t also vital. However vivid and memorable the characters, if they don’t have a goal to achieve, a problem to solve or some kind of obstacle to overcome, the novel would simply be a random sequence of events and interactions. However, I don’t feel a writer should ever rely too heavily on the plot to hold the reader’s interest. NO matter how gripping and action-packed the storyline, if readers feel nothing for the characters, why should they care whether or not they reach the end unscathed? In R. D. Wingfield’s novels, we follow Detective Inspector Jack Frost’s bungled investigations under the ever disapproving eye of Superintendent Mullet. Naturally we want to solve the mystery along with him, but if we didn’t like Frost as a character, we’d have no interest in whether or not he succeeds.

Of course, the characters don’t necessarily have to be likeable. They simply have to be real enough for us to feel a connection with them. A prime example of this is Gone With The Wind’s Scarlet O’Hara. There’s just no getting away from the fact that she’s a spoilt brat with far too high an opinion of herself, and who doesn’t give a damn who she hurts so long as she has both the men in her life dancing to her tune. Despite all her faults, though, as the novel progresses and Scarlet discovers within herself a steely determination not to be defeated, we develop a genuine respect for her and end up rooting for her to come through.

So no, characters don’t have to be likable. They do, however, need to be believable. We need to be able to look at them with all their flaws and virtues, and recognize someone we could meet in our every day lives. If we don’t believe in these people, if they don’t leap off the page with a life of their own, we’re hardly going to care what becomes of them. I recently read Beach Coma by Josephine Cox. In fact, the plot shows quite a lot of promise—guy coming to terms with the death of his wife and children, meets girl who shows him he can love again, and all the while a mystery figure wants to ensure the hero never finds out the truth of what happened to his family. The trouble is, the hero and heroin are so sickeningly perfect that I just didn’t believe in them, and as a result, was completely indifferent to either the peril facing them or their budding romance.

So, to sum up. A strong plot is vital to give a novel its structure, but without lifelike characters the reader can relate to, the whole thing will more often than not fall flat on its face.

These are my thoughts, for what they’re worth, but I’d love to hear what you think. When you pick up a novel, is it the plot that captures your interest, or is having an instant affinity with the characters more important ? Are there any novels you feel combine these two elements particularly well?

CONTEST: Anyone kind enough to leave a comment here, or at any point during my blog tour, will automatically be entered into the draw to win a $15 gift voucher for either Amazon or Barnes & Noble, so don’t forget to provide an email address in case I need to contact you. I’ll be announcing the five winners at the end of my tour on October 31st over at my blog so good luck!

Thank you so much, Shelley, for inviting me on your blog today, and for all of you for stopping by. Tomorrow, the Voices On The Waves Blog Tour continues with an interview at the home of Savannah Chase. Hope to see you there!

In the meantime, my debut women’s fiction novel Voices On the Waves is available now from Red Rose Publishing

The Play Date

Camera Critters

This is another photo I took at Wellington zoo. This pair of sun bears were having lots of fun wrestling with each other and running all over their enclosure.

Sun Bears

Visit more animal photos at Camera Critters

I’ve Got Nothing…

I’m blogging at Access Romance today and talking about blogging. What topics do you like to read about when you’re blog hopping?

Seriously, I’d like to know. Comment here or at Access Romance. (You get the pretty pictures at Access Romance)

Water Lillies

I’ve always liked water lillies, which is probably why I’m a fan of Claude Monet. I adore his water lily paintings. A few years ago hubby and I purchased a single water lily. It’s never grown very well until last year when it had two flowers. A few months ago hubby repotted the plant, dividing it into three. Since then the plant has flourished, growing heaps of leaves. We’re now waiting for the flowers to pop up. Maybe we’ll even beat our record of two this year.

Water lillies are actually Nymphaeaceae and they grow in fresh water in both temperate and tropical climes. The plants grow in dirt, but the leaves and flowers float on the surface of the water. They come in lots of different colors, the flowers lasting only a few days before dying.

I took the photos below at the Wellington Botanic earlier this year.

Water Lily

Water Lily

Water Lily

Do you like water lillies?

Shopping Success and Foster Dogs

I went shopping yesterday, on the hunt for a nice summery dress. Success. This is the one I purchased and I’m really pleased with it. Now if only the weather would cooperate so I could start wearing it.


When we applied to foster dogs for the SPCA we thought we’d have dogs quite often. We had Patch for five weeks and haven’t had another dog since. I rang to ask about the frequency but evidently the fosters aren’t available all the time. Color me disappointed when I arrived home after picking up my husband from golf to find a message on our answer phone. I rang back straight away, but they’d found an alternative foster for Mikey meantime. Cross your fingers that a foster comes up soon. I’m really missing a dog around the place and, unfortunately, we can’t adopt one at present since it’s possible my husband will be transferred to the other end of the country.

And finally, I was very excited to wake up to find The Spurned Viscountess had made the Top Five list at Carina Press. By the time you check out the list I’ll probably have disappeared, but I thought it was exciting. :grin:

Stand Up and Be Counted

Camera Critters

I took this photo at the Wellington zoo during a visit earlier in the year.

Giraffes, Wellington Zoo

To see more animal photos go to Camera Critters.

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