Characters, my favorite part of the book…

Characters make the story, at least for me they do.  Everyone comes up with different ways to write them. Sometimes they are like Frankenstein’s monster with their bits and pieces from old friends, a cluster of flaws from people we know to make a neurotic creature, or maybe we borrowed little morsels of cuteness from a few crushes of the past to make our dream love come to life.  No matter how they’re made though they have to start with something, some idea of what’s needed, what makes them tick?  It’s the author’s job to know that and work it all out.

I love dark hair with blue eyes.  I think it’s dreamy.  My husband has near black hair and sky blue eyes.  I love his eye color.  Anyway, I’ve found that I wrote a book with way too many ‘good looking’ people.  My biggest villain, dark hair with blue eyes, my other villain, dark hair with blue eyes, my hero, longer dark hair with blue eyes, one of my main ladies, dark hair with blue eyes.  I’m going to have to give one or two of them brown eyes.

This got me wondering about how everyone else sits down to make their characters.  I feel that this is one of my biggest strong points in a story.  I’m bad at scenery, but great at the ‘people’.  I start with my idea. Then I draw (a poor sketch): One of a close up and one of them standing.  They are either standing next to a ruler or a tree to give me an idea of their height and girth.  My art could be better, but I’m an artist of words, not an artist of pictures.  On the opposite side of the paper I have a character sheet.  For those who are unfamiliar with what that is: it’s a page where info such as age, height, weight, hair color, personality flaws, rich or poor, and so on are written down.  For me the detail all depends on how important the individual is in the story, that’s how I decide how much info they are given.  For important ones I give them four to six pages and both drawings, for less important ones, two pages and one (maybe two) with very sloppy sketches, for a one time encounter just one sheet with the bone basic info.  I keep all of these in a binder just for that book. I save it, and if needed, I rewrite repeat characters from the series, put it in the folder for the next book, and write in the changes.  I use birth year and date, not age.  Ages change even with immortals so dates act best.  Also, I have found that to give them more flaws and personalities I’ll give them a little history, even if it’s not told in the book.  I feel this helps to add depth.  This is also if I ever need a little more of a reference to the individual, it’s there.  One of my characters is gay.  I don’t think it will ever come out but he just is. I need that info when I work with him so he never looks at the ladies.  Two of my characters are 1/2 brothers that are very close and one of them had a mother who was a slave, the other mother was sickly. I need this so I know why and how they both might feel in certain situations.  We never read more than one line about Mary’s sisters, but in my binder their age differences, married family, and such are written down just for reference.

I would love to hear (read) other ideas for characters and if you have any tips for landscape details, besides just visualizing, please, please, PLEASE share.

Juggling…

I have a few books that I am working on. The Vampiress Sagas, of course, is the one at the very front of my work load.  There are more though.  I have been working on a comedy sci-fi that I truly hope is funny.  Another one that I’m working on is a YA fantasy.  Then I have family life, kids with school, husband just back to work, and (for those of you who don’t know… I’m finally talking) in September I’m due to have another baby.  So, yeah, right now I’m juggling.
The Vampiress Sagas is my prime, ‘you have to work on this’ book.  There will be four in that series when it is done.  But there will also be a planned three in another series with a large amount of the same characters.  I’ve fallen in love (or a wonderful dislike) with most of the heroes, villains, and anybodies in this series that I don’t know if I will ever tire of working with them. (Ahhhh, warm fuzzies.)
The sci-fi book is my second priority with work, and the one my husband is dying to read the most.  He absolutely loves the storyline.  He loves the others too, it’s just this one makes him laugh and it tests some of my boundaries.  I’m writing this one a little differently, and working on changing some of my style… just for this book.  I work on this story when I’m in a more playful mood and just can’t settle into my vampire world.  This book also takes very little historical research.  So if I’m stuck in a doctor’s office for an hour I can just freely type without having to worry about investigating the past.
Just like with The Vampiress Sagas my YA fantasy has been in my head for years.  When I was in high school I wrote a short story of it in a journal.  I’ve also, over the years, have had several dreams with this storyline.  I work on this when I’m in a dreamy mood.  And although the characters in this book and the sci-fi one are fun, enjoyable, completely developed, I just can’t see either being more than one book worth, so no sequels are planned.
There is also an additional book that I have to start thinking about… I think it will be a novella.  My 10 year old requested that I write a werewolf book.  I’m going to need to think about it very carefully.  I’ve never planned on writing anything with werewolves.  I’ve loved and enjoyed several movies and books featuring or ‘starring’ them, I just never planned on this.  I think it’ll be a challenge, but one I’m sure I can handle.  I’m only doing it because she was a little broken hearted that my vampire book had sharks, zombies, and vampires, but not her favorite… the werewolf.  I still will not add one in my vampire world because they don’t work there, but I will write a story just for her.
My husband started back to work two weeks ago, but his students just came back last week.  He has been upset about the lack of reading that will go on this year.  His school, like so many others, got rid of their AR reading program and they are not getting another reading program in its place.  With him being the high school librarian he is going to need to come up with an incentive program for the kids or most of them will never read.  It’s really sad.  My daughters start back soon and they are both a little eager.  And everyone wishes that my due date was in July so we could have started the adjustment period with the new baby when the family was all at home.
So here I am working on three different stories, while trying to think of a fourth.  My husband and kids are getting ready for school and my baby is getting ready for her big day… the day that will always be her birthday.

Here is my little question/s for you… How many books are you taking on at once?  And if you are also adjusting to the new school year, how are you taking it?

The soft cover is out! Plus a little sample of the book…

Great news!!!  The soft back is out!!!  There has been a delay (due to a holiday rush for titles at the printer) so the hardback will take longer.  When I get the phone call about the hardcover (if I’m not so excited I can’t think) I’m going to try and remember to buy the Kindle/Sony Reader thing.  That has not been done yet.  Here is the link to iUniverse http://bit.ly/5iwjQY and Amazon has a spot for it, but it’s not out there yet http://bit.ly/7WLX1J .  😀

Here is most of the first chapter…

 The last time I spoke with my brother that night was not pleasant. To make matters worse, he was right.
“Brother, this is silly!” I said as I followed him out of the house. He carried the two youngest children in his arms. “Why take the children in the dead of the night to a cold church and pray? If you believe so strongly that ill will fall on the world, we can all pray in the warmth of our home and not jeopardize the health of the children!”
“Sister, I will fight you no longer.” His voice rose as he lifted the children into the back of the wagon and handed them to his wife, who was already inside sitting in the hay in a nest of all of her children. “You stay if you will, but the more of us there are praying in the house of the Lord the stronger our voices are, and we will be heard.”
“William, God hears us all. We do not need to shout at Him. He is neither thickheaded nor deaf.” I was trying my hardest to be heard, to get through to him. “What good will come to the world if you and the babes die of cold and disease being out in such a harsh night as tonight?” I was hoping to feel needed and wishing that I could persuade him to stay. “And with your wife ready to bear you another child any day?”
“For the last time, Mary, Bridget and I are taking the children to church. Father is there waiting. The Lord will protect us in his place of sanctuary. If you choose to whisper for help, alone in the dark, then you are free to your solitude but we are going!”
He rode off with the children and his wife in the back of a hay cart. That poor pony, to have to pull all that weight and Bridget big and round again, I thought. I walked into the house saying to myself, “If God had only made man less thickheaded, we would all be warm and safe. I pray for you and your family, William … I pray.”
Once I was back inside, I shut the door. The room seemed empty with no one in it.  The seats that surrounded the fire were vacant, even though the fire was still burning strong in the center of the room. I started to walk to the fire for warmth but stopped when I heard my name. “Mary.”
It was a man’s voice, but it was not my father or my brother. I looked around to the dark shadows at the corners of the room. I turned back to the fire thinking that the night wind might just be playing a trick on my ears. But as I turned to walk to the fire, the figure of a very large cloaked and hooded man appeared and blocked my way. The fire was behind him, making it even harder to make out any details in him other than his size. Even though the fire was strong, I could feel his coldness and could tell he was unique. “Hello, Mary, I have been watching you for a while now … You are very hard to get alone,” said a deep voice. It was so hard to tell if it was the large man in front of me or if there was another person in the room. I looked around to see if he was alone or if there were others. “I stand before you … You are not blind, and I am not hiding … this time.”
“I am always alone,” I said a bit bewildered as I heard my own heart beat in my head. It was echoing in my ears. I wasn’t as scared as I should have been, but I did want away from this man.
“Hah, never fully alone. There is always your father or big brother keeping an eye on you,” he said as he was pulling the cloak down from around his brow. “You are very lovely. My great-grandson picked well when he chose you for a bride.”
I squinted my eyes to see if there was gray in his long, dark beard. I saw none. I had heard of men who lived long enough to see more then two generations of their families, but I had never met one. “My husband never spoke of any long-lived family,” I said. I was wondering if the apocalyptic night had brought madness to this man. The belief and fear of the end being near was causing people to see and hear strange things. For some reason, I felt that he was telling the truth … but I was hoping he was a crazy liar and soon would be off to church with the rest of the known world.
“Oh.” He started to move and shift his weight. I wanted to run, but with his intimidating size, if he caught me … well, I had a better chance talking in hopes that he would just leave. “He would have had to have met me to know of me.” Now he was pacing like my brother and father did when they were feeling long-winded.
When I saw men do this, I usually worried, This speech is going to take all night. But this time, I was happy and hopeful that this speech might just take all night, so that he would still be talking when my father and brother returned.
“The truth of the matter is I am dead and alive.” Now I really was beginning to think this guy belonged in church to be healed. “You are my prey. You are my victim. I have kept close trace on my children and their families. When I knew that I had lost a grandson and then his daughter, I wanted to know who was left. I wanted to see you. And when I did, I knew I had to have you.”
“I may be kept by my brother and father, but I am not a pet. I was not picked from a tree like a fruit by your grandson. I accepted your grandson as my husband when he asked my father. I agreed that it would be a smart choice.” I was getting upset. I could hold my tongue for those I loved, but strangers … no. I would speak my mind even if I was fearful. What did I have to lose that was not already lost from me? “If you are as old as you say, then why do I see very few signs of age? Your beard is dark, your face has no cuts or deep wrinkles, and the hair on your head looks to all be there.” Even my father, who was fifty-eight, was aged enough to have wrinkles. His hair was coming off his head quickly, and the strands staying on his head were not thick and red but fluffy and silver. This man must be mad. He had now walked to where I could see his face much better. The light was behind me now. He looked to be near thirty, near the age of my brother. This man might be a few years older, but not much.
“I am flattered that you studied my looks and my face so carefully in this light, too. You must have been studying me very hard. It shows me you are interested … that you cared to notice me. I have studied every aspect of you as well.” His eyes slowly looked down from my face all the way to the floor. This made me feel even more uncomfortable. “And in very fine depth,” he said with a not-so-innocent smirk as his eyes went back up to look at my face again.
“I do not enjoy you near me, sir. Please leave.” I was hoping that might make him leave, but I had very strong doubts.
“Your spirit is as lovely and as fiery as your hair.” He touched and twirled one of my red locks around his gloved fingers. I did all I could not to flinch at his closeness. “You are one of the only people I have seen in all of my days who has eyes the color of emeralds sparkling in the sunshine, hair as red and as curly as fire … but your pale white skin doesn’t have one freckle … or blemish … You are truly lovely to look at.”
I was hurt. My daughter, the child I loved so very much, had freckles, and I loved them.
“Do you always converse with your victims, sir? Why not just kill me instead of cutting me with your words? Just cut me with your knife and leave.” He let the lock of my hair drop back down and looked into my eyes with little interest in what I had said.
“You are my first real victim ever. I have never wanted to have anyone last forever before, not even my kin. But if you were my cattle … you would have never seen me coming.”
This was getting too odd. Cattle? Food? And to last forever? Was he going to kill me or imprison me? Then he started to circle me like a bird that has found its prey.
“You are an emerald.”
His compliments made me feel unclean. Why hadn’t I gone with William?
“Before I do this, I want you to know I do pick my fruit from the tree, and I only pick the best. In my day, I was a treasure hunter. I did not take it all, but I did take the most precious.”
I was confused. What was going on?
“You are strong. You are healthy. You can stand the cold of the night. You can be alone without madness. You can let go and still love the ones in your past. You can be full of fear and still be rational and sturdy. You are lovely, and you are now mine …”
His teeth grew into fangs. I was very cold. And I was lost to the waking world forever.

Note (Dec. 9th) ~ The hard cover is now out and the book should be available in about a month on the Kindle and Sony Reader.  There is no news yet about the Nook going with my publisher.

For those who read wish lists…

I was once pestered and bothered about what I wanted for Christmas.  I never ask for anything because I’m very content with all I have.  But a dear friend and a few others would not leave me be one year.  They asked me to make a list of the top 5 things I really wanted for Christmas.  Because I didn’t want them to waste their money on me and because I felt I needed nothing I came up with this list…
1. A pocket of endless twenty dollar bills.
2. A real fairy.
3. A life-size castle (tax free) with a massive amount of land attached.
4. To wake up 20lbs lighter without having a sickness, amputation, or liposuction … just to wake up naturally thinner.
5. For everyone in the world to be happy, healthy, and love each other.
I have added a few things to my list over the years and randomly pick one when someone asks me what I would like…
6.
The winning lotto ticket, but no losing ones since that’s a waste of money.
7. For everyone in the world to treat others how they want to be treated.
8. For all lost, kidnapped, and missing children to return home safe.
9. For me to not have to look up how to spell “neighbor,” “definitely,” or “torture” every time I want to use them.  I have no idea why these words are hard for me but I would love to spell them right.
10. A 2006 Alpha H1 Hummer.  Those babies cost about $400,000 when they were new and are supposed to be the best.
Of course I do have a new wish right now (as everyone knows) … I would love for The Strongest Fire to be out before Christmas.
So there are a few things on my list that are a little selfish.  But the top three I truly hope for are number 5, 7, and 8.
I would love to read other peoples wishes, so if you have any you’d like to share, feel free to list them.  🙂  Or if you have any cute ones from your children, or ones from when you were a child… those always warm the heart.
I just love wishes.

 About the book.  I just opened an e-mail that said…

“Hello Sarah,
Our print data specialist informed me that there has been a back up at the printer for title to go LIVE, so there has been a delay in getting your book files set up.
I am very sorry for this, and wanted to let you know that I am in discussion with your book consultant about expediting your shipments and getting the books to you as soon as humanly possible once the files are set up.
Your book consultant, XXXX XXXXXXXX, will be contacting you very soon regarding your timeline.
Once again, I am very sorry for this delay; thank you so much for your continued patience, and I hope you have a wonderful day.”

I will let everyone one know what is going on, when I know what is going on.

I typed all of this very early yesterday but never got around to posting it.

Noted; one of my biggest flaws is I’m impatient…

I’ve been waiting to write a blog for when my book is finally released.  Still it is not out.  I know I was told “before Christmas,” but I was also told not to be too shocked if it was before Thanksgiving.  But that was a little iffy.  So now I’m waiting and hoping that it comes out soon.  The book missed “Black Friday” and the book missed “Cyber Monday,” both dates I was really hoping to make.  All I can see being done right now on MyUniverse is “Checking for Indexing” which, in all truth, I have no idea what that means.  I just know that I have been told it means I’m near done.  It has said that since the 16th of Nov.
So this is just a quick blog to say that I have not forgotten about my blog.  I’ve been keeping busy so I don’t stress and worry about when The Strongest Fire will be out.  In keeping busy I am done with my shopping.  Anything I buy at this point is just a bonus.  My little one asked for a few books, so I might jump on Amazon and see if I can find them.  Then I’ll just buy my oldest a few books when I do to make it even.
Here is a link to what I want…
http://sagas.is/vara.php 
I’m not going to get it, but a girl can dream.  I also want a real *fairy, the **big winning lotto ticket, a castle (tax free), my book to be a big success, the world to be peaceful, happy, and healthy, to finish writing my 3rd book soon, and many other dreams to come true.  🙂

*I really like the color purple, but any color of fairy will work (just incase Santa is reading this).
**The winning lotto ticket only costs $1 so I don’t see this as too foolish of a gift, but I don’t really want anyone to waste the money on a losing ticket since that won’t do anyone any good.

P.S. And Santa, if you’re reading, I’ve asked every year nicely… Can I please have a pocket of endless twenties?  I’ll use it for good things.  😀

Authors do not get to pick the prices…

I was told the prices for The Strongest Fire. I still do not know how much it will be on the Kindle and Sony reader. I will be buying that package next month! I did ask about the Nook and it is not determined yet whether or not the Nook will carry iUniverse books. My assumption is they will over time and that they just need to hammer out all the details. But that is just an assumption and I know nothing of the inside deals this company is going to make.
*looks around nervously*
So, without further ado…
*drum roll*
The prices are…
*opens cyber envelope*
E-Book $6.00
Perfect Bound Softcover (aka trade paperback) $18.95
Casebound Hardcover (sleek, no dust jacket) $28.95
I wish the prices were just a few dollars lower. And if there is anyway for me to take a cut in percentage to make these books a little more inexpensive, I will. I want my books read, easily available, and affordable for everyone. Unfortunately authors do not get to set the prices.
If anyone would like any further information, please don’t hesitate to ask.
I still do not have an exact date, but I was told that it will be out before Christmas.

The Strongest Fire: Book One of The Vampiress Sagas…

Stop.
I would like you to think of yourself for a moment before you begin to read the story of my younger life. I want you to think of who you are and the changes that would happen to you if you were transformed into an immortal being. Think carefully about what you might do if you had to drink blood in order to keep your sanity. You are unique. I am sure you would do things that I could never think of.
But what if you did not want the changes or you were forced to be somewhere you did not desire to be, how would you react then?
This story, told from my memory, and written in a language not my own, is the second chapter of my life. The first is short. I was born. I grew up. I married. I had a daughter. My husband died. My daughter died. All of this occurred in a twenty-three-year time span.
This is my story, my eternal life; this is how I reacted…
Mary