We are so fortunate to have author Christine London as our guest blogger this week. Christine pens Contempory Romance Novels. She peoples them with very defined characters that will keep your interest high as they struggle through the types of life challenges that so many of us face. In addition, Christine also takes some of her characters through challenges that we all hope we never have to face in real life. Each case makes for exciting reading. So read on and listen to her thoughts on some very important aspects of good writing.
Great to be here today Sharon. Thanks for hosting me. One of the wonderful things about participating in a blog tour is meeting other readers. *waves to Sharon's readers* Please feel free to chime in and share your point of view. What kind of story do you like to read? Let's have a bit of fun and begin.
Sharon has asked me to answer these thought-provoking questions.
1. How important is point of view in a story? (1st Person, 2nd Person, 3 Person or Omniscient)
Point of view, simply stated, is through whose 'eyes' the reader is witnessing a scene. First person, or using "I" as the narrator and a character within the story, and seeing the fictional world through one character, has been said to be difficult to pull of effectively. Even well done, it limits the ability of the reader to see and know not only what is happening outside the immediate sight/thoughts of the main character, but disallows getting inside the thought processes of other characters.
That said, it can be used well to create suspense and a partnership with the reader in trying to figure out what is going on.
Probably the rarest mode in literature (though quite common in song lyrics) is the second person, in which the narrator refers to one of the characters as "you", therefore making the reader feel as if he or she is a character within the story. While creating a sense of intimacy between the implicit author as narrator and the reader, it can give the reader a sense of loss of control as he is being led through the plot without gas or brakes.
Third person (he, she it, they) gives the author the greatest flexibility; to make use of getting inside the head of the most important characters. Far from limiting suspense, it can actually contribute to it as one character misinterprets intentions or actions of others eliciting much potential angst.
Omniscient is often frowned upon in modern popular fiction largely because the use of an all knowing narrator voice ( a narrator who knows time, people, places and events) can engendering the divulgence of too much information, too fast. and the unrealistic flavour it can add to the storyline. It nearly eliminates the author's ability to hide or delay information in a fair or believable way.
Point of view is incredibly important. Done poorly it can leave a reader puzzled and in need of Dramamine to quell the shifting ground beneath him. "Head hopping', or changing point of view too suddenly or often is one of the marks of a plebian author and is the surest way to confuse or lose your reader-pulling him from the story, question marks flying from his head as he tries to figure out who is talking/thinking or to be trusted.
2. Which do you think works best for the reader of your work?
As my work often has elements of suspense, I have found third person most conducive to creating a sense of team, whether that be rooting for a character's decisions, or booing them. The reader has the benefit of judging for his or herself whether he would do as the characters do. It enables not only the fun of seeing a situation through more than one set of eyes, thus putting the reader more in the driver's seat. It does not lend itself to the clandestine preaching, whining or self centered aggrandizement possible when seeing the world through one set of eyes. It is easier for the reader to figure out the intentions of a character and whether he/she is reliable if seen through more than one point of view.
I have considered employing first person to bring my readers closer to the heart of a character driven tale. To date I have avoided it because of warning of its pitfall and lack of favour in the romance community.
3. Can a man effectively put forth a woman's POV; can a woman do justice to the male POV?
Absolutely. A competent author is a student of human nature and an observer. I believe it is the reason many competent authors are middle aged or older. The wealth of experience and years spent interacting with all kinds of people lends itself to a rich catalogue from which to draw.
In the romance genre there is a pitfall and tendency to idealize males, making men as we would like them rather than as they are. This does not mean that the author can not paint a man as believable. He may be on the further end of the bell curve, but any decent observer of human nature can animate the opposite sex through truthful reflection.
Conversely, men have been accused of portraying women as cliché paper cut outs. This is either lazy writing or an attempt on the author's part to hearken back to previous times when women were not seen as the equals they are today. Either reason would be easily seen through and rejected by most readers (if not editors before the work ever sees the light of day). Perhaps there has been a tendency to portray females as more aggressive in recent years to offset the bodice ripper cliché and more legitimately portray the modern liberated woman. Even the well written historical shows the power a woman can exert using her equal or greater cunning and resolve.
The vast majority of books written today are excellent and balanced portrayals of the wide variety of personality types within both genders.
3. Can you cite an example for your own writing?
I have been told by men that I write men very well. Some even ask if I have elicited help to make the males so real. Often these comments are in reference to my intimate scenes. I tend to have my men convey their feeling through actions rather than words. even when in his head, he thinks in a more linear male way.
In my novel, Shadows Steal the Light, rock singer and recovering alcoholic, Colin Dunolw has just lost the woman who raised him--his beloved Grandmother. He has been six months sober and is trying to make a come back in his until now, skyrocketing career.
These scenes are all in Colin's point of view:
Colin skidded on the gravel of the driveway, his bike going down, sliding the last ten feet with him remaining intact on the seat. He swore and pushed his way off, dragging his leg out from under it. As he struggled to stand, he barely noticed his seeming lack of injury. He unbuckled and threw his helmet to the ground, hobbling the first few steps in disorientation. Two sobs escaped his lips and he clenched his fists and shot a glance of fury toward the moon. “God damn it” he howled and turned around in a circle of helplessness, contracting his shoulder and arm muscles in anger and grief.
He began to run, at first, blindly. It wasn’t until he was outside the Green Man that he realized he had taken his old familiar route, one so ingrained in his psyche that it was as automatic as going to the corner shop or newsagent.
He pushed the pub door open. The dimly lit wood paneled room smelled of stale beer and leather. There was still a smattering of patrons washing down their last pints. He stood by the door, eyes red rimmed, gut in a knot and stared at the bartender as he pulled the spigot on the keg, expertly filling a foamless pint of amber brew. The smell of the liquor crammed his head with confusion and piercing need. A visual burst of Kyle’s lips firmly planted on Jenna flashed before him. Then he thought of his gran, lying cold and still in some hospital morgue drawer. Nausea swept over him. He coughed and ran the back of his hand over his mouth. Lips parted, his breathing was uneven and labored, as though the
internal struggle going on was as physically taxing as a foot race. He approached the barman, eyes burning in intensity and pain.
* * * *
Standing in his living room, brown bag in hand, frustration filled him. How difficult it had been, talking the bar owner into a small grocery bag of hard liquor. He uncapped the vodka and swigged it as though it were bottled water. Closing his eyes with the rush of the burning liquid, he held tight to the neck of the bottle with one hand and pounded the wall with the other. He guzzled another three gulps and threw the cushion from the couch across the room. Putting the bottle down on the end table, he tore at his leather jacket, throwing it to the floor. The rush of warmth spreading over his body compelled him to peel his T-shirt off over his head. He threw it blindly across the room. Picking up the open booze, he sobbed, abdomen contracting in violent bursts of emotion. He drank until the liquor ran in rivulets out the side of his mouth and down his neck. Another blind punch to the wall split his knuckles open. Pain. Good. Still alive. Shit. Spinning. Nausea. Grey to black, then nothing.
* * * *
And later when Colin's AA sponsor has found him ..
As sunlight streaked across the sky, Colin sat, elbows on the table, head hanging. Robert appraised him in compassionate familiarity from his chair seated directly across from him. “You’re having a time that would do in the toughest of men, lad. Don’t be so downcast. It took me two years before I got it straight. Two years.”
Colin looked up, red eyes burning, hair a mess, tears pooling. “Six months bloody out the window. I’d been sober for six fuckin’ months.”
“You’re goin’ to be okay, lad. You’ve had a slip, that’s all.”
“I’ve got to go back to Phoenix House. I can’t do this yet, can’t face it. You were right, Robert. I’m too raw…too selfish a bastard.”
“You need to bury your dear gran. You’ll never forgive yourself if you don’t give her a proper goodbye.”
The tears had nowhere else to go. They streamed down his cheeks. “I’m too fucked up. I don’t know what to do.”
“That’s why I’m hear, man. I’ll help you make the calls. We’ll get through this
Colin pressed two fingers between his brows and rubbed in a slow vertical motion. “And what about tomorrow when I wake up and have the same bleedin’ need drivin’ me down the road to the Green Man?”
“We’ll worry about that tomorrow. Today we take care of today.”
Dropping his hand to the table, the lid on the sugar bowl rattled against its base. “God damn it, Robert, but I’m weak.”
“No, you’re not. You’re human. You’re an alcoholic and you’re a man in a lot of pain. We will get through this, I promise ya. Look at me, man, straight in the eyes.”
Colin looked up, grasping his mug of tea. The connection to Robert was so real and tangible; he had been in the same place. More importantly, he had survived and thrived. On a wing and a prayer, Colin said in determination, “Okay. Let’s do this.”
Robert put a warm hand on Colin’s forearm and squeezed. “One day at a time, man.”
Colin is an incredibly strong man, yet full of doubts about his strength. As the hero of the story, he has both faults and challenges. He stumbles and falls, but his tenacity and love for the heroine push him on into an unseen an most assuredly one day at a time future...
Thanks for hosting me today, Sharon. I hope your readers will feel inspired to give us there view on point and view. What is your favorite to read? Why? Did you find Bella in Twilight to self absorbed as a first person point of view? Does the thought of being a character in a story (second person) make you squirm? What's your favorite third person work?
You can read more about Christine London on her website at www.christinelondon.com
Come along with her on her international travels. Hollywood adventures and everyday musings on her London Blog at http://christinelondon.blogspot.com/
Christine London was born in Chicago, Illinois, but left the long winters of the Midwest as a child to find her roots in the sun and charm of California, both North and South. Her adopted home became Great Britain when she spent a year of college in the east end of London with three male flat mates; one from each country on the main island. Her fascination and love affair with all things British has grown over the years, facilitated by summers spent trading houses.
Graduating from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, Chris continued with family, teaching, singing in a jazz sextet and running foot races (and winning) before discovering her true passion….the romance and adventure of writing.
It took one Scot to awaken her poetic appreciation of Scotland's natural beauty, and another Scot to ignite her passion for writing. Thank you, gentlemen.
Christine London's Awe Struck Publishing Novel:
Leap Of Faith
Buy Here: http://www.awe-struck.net/books/leap_of_faith.html
Film student Faith Holmes is on an Italian holiday bought and paid for -- a familial inducement to finding an Italian husband. She wants none of it. Boredom and curiosity make for a volatile mix and Faith is lured into the heart of the island of Forio's exclusive international film festival not as guest, but crasher. Hollywood's premiere publicist Hunter Jameson has more than enough on his plate when his client, English film sensation Alex Winslow decides he's departing from the straight and narrow. One American party crasher should be the least of his worries. He has no idea that Alex’s growing feelings for Faith rival his own. The only thing for certain is his life will never be the same.
Thanks for stopping by Christine!
Saturday, October 08, 2011
Let's Meet Susan Roebuck!
Well, everyone, we are in for a treat today. Susan Roebuck, author of “Perfect Score”, published as an e-book by Awe-Struck Publishing in Sept 2010 and as trade-paperback in May 2011, is stopping by today to share her thoughts on writing with us. And, congratualtions are in order. Susan's novel 'Perfect Score' has been nominated as a finalist in the Mainstream category for the 1012 EPIC eBook Awards. Nice Work! Let's keep our fingers crossed for her.
Hi Sharon. Thank you so much for having me on your blog today. This tour is proving excellent in getting to know other authors and their books. I love to hear from fellow authors and also readers – it’s rather lonely just sitting at the computer J
1. Are you a plotter or a spontaneous writer. Why does your chosen method work for you?
Sharon, that is a million dollar question. But I do know the answer and that is – I’m a pantser. I fly by the seat of my pants in other words. All the plotters in this world will now turn their noses up at me. But pantsers aren’t so rare – almost 50% of writers work like I do. And how do I work?
When I have a story in mind, I do know quite a bit about it before I start. I have bits of paper and “post-its” stuck all over the house with little snippets I don’t want to forget. Ten minutes ago I was checking through my diary and found a page covered in bits of inspiration that I’d completely forgotten about!
When I was writing “Perfect Score” (my first novel) I tapped gaily away for hours; went back over what I’d written; deleted most of it and wrote it all over again. I enjoyed myself thoroughly and the days sped by. But it might explain why it took so long to write. By the time I’d finished, “Perfect Score” had seventeen versions!
Nowadays I’m more organized (for a completely disorganized person, that’s an incredible thing to say). I have another novel out on submission and I did plan it better – although there were still multiple versions by the end. My current novel is underway and I’m so looking forward to getting down to version number three.
2. What genre and which authors do you like to read for fun and relaxation?
Fun and relaxation! What’s that? When I’m not reviewing, I do so look forward to just settling down to read without having to consider the plot, characterization etc., etc. I’ll read anything wacky and out of the ordinary and tend towards more literary genres perhaps. My favourite novel of all time is the Gormenghast Trilogy by Mervyn Peake. Now that’s a weird one, but I just love the characters. And since I’m a character-driven writer, I think that’s what attracts me. Let me tell you what’s on my Kindle at the moment: The Morville Hours, Katherine Swift; The Stranger’s Child, Alan Hollinghurst; An Irish Country Christmas, Patrick Taylor; Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café, Fannie Flagg,; Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, Ransom Riggs; Breath, Tim Winton.
3. What would you like your readers to know about you?
I’d like them to know that I’m open and ready to have contact with all of them. If they like my stories, then I’d dearly love to know. Likewise, if they hate them, I’d also like to know – because I believe authors can evolve to suit the reading-public.
I was born and educated in the UK (I am British!) but now live in Portugal. I've been an English teacher for many years with the British Council and also the Portuguese civil service where I developed e-learning courses.
My first love is, of course, my husband, my second writing, and my third painting. And now I have time to be able to indulge in all three.
My debut novel, "Perfect Score" was published by Awe-Struck Publishing on Sept 21, 2010 and the paperback was launched on May 11 2011.
Blurb for “Perfect Score” :
"Perfect Score" is set in mid West USA in the 1960s and is a story about family relationships, corruption, growing up, integrity, responsibility, and being a man of worth in a society of the worthless.
The two main characters are Alex and Sam. Alex, who lives with a wealthy uncle, is a blend of musical genius, stubbornness and firmly believes in his fantasy that his love for Sam is reciprocated. Sam has more direction in his little finger than Alex has in his whole body. He’s strong, yet of small stature and has developed a tough outer-coating after the knocks of a traumatic up-bringing which left him homeless. His one aim in life is to earn enough money to look after his disabled sister. He has no time for a spoiled, rich, guitar player. Sam also stutters and has what is probably a severe form of dyslexia.
When Sam unexpectedly disappears, Alex begins a somewhat bungling quest to find him, only to discover that Sam has a fearsome enemy: Alex's powerful and influential yet sociopathic uncle.
As Alex spirals downwards towards alcoholism, many questions need answering. Just why did Alex's evil uncle adopt him at age eleven yet deny him any affection? And what's the mystery behind Alex's father's death?
Two short excerpts:
Here’s a bit of ditzy Alex (from the beginning):
Bongo drums. How the hell did a guy like me, with straight As in
acoustic guitar and piano studies, end up on a stage playing bongo drums
for chrissakes? I had a reputation to maintain and being wild, woolly, and
wicked just ain't easy with those things wedged between your legs.
“It'll be a blast,” Jamil, who came from Arabia or someplace, had
said. “We'll conjure up the spirit of the shifting dunes, the limpid oasis.
We'll sock it to the judging committee—they've never seen anything like
this before. We'll be a first in the Academy's history.”
Damn straight. I'd been in half a mind to do something more
traditional along the lines of Floatin' Cornflake followed maybe by The
Lady Came from Baltimore with some pretty nifty acoustic guitar riffs.
But Jamil had pouted and lifted irresistible soulful eyes.
“You got great rhythm,” Jamil winked at me now, and I flashed a
bright grin back.
“If you reckon that's good, wait 'til you see my rhythm when the
action really gets started,” I sparkled. He raised his dark eyebrows in reply
which made me shiver in expectation.
While I slapped the drums with the knuckly part of my palms in an
attempt to sound like a lumbering camel, I admired his dopey, dark beauty
and his arm muscles rippling as he picked away at the strings on his oud.
He half closed his eyes and looked sultry. “Come on Alex, you're a
nomad, constantly on the move in mesmerizing, undulating, never-ending
sand.” He upped the plucking and created a sound like a pebble in a tin
can which was anything but mesmerizing. The vibration unhooked the
banner hung over the stage and Verdigris Music Academy—Graduation
Talent Contest wafted delicately to the ground where it lay in a heap.
Yeah, we were nomads all right, dressed like fatheads in tunics and
towels. We hadn't rehearsed, we weren't in harmony, and we had no idea
what either of us was doing. Jamil said improvisation was the name of the
game, that's how they did things where he came from, that's how they
captured that special tone. Special tone, my ass.
And here’s a bit of Sam:
“So, what do you want to hear? I can play anything,” Alex said.
“Well, how about something by Simon and Garfunkel?”
Alex strummed a chord. “Never heard of them? I thought they were as
famous as Jesus Christ. Never mind, perhaps you never heard of him
neither. Okay. Let's try someone else.”
He tried out a couple of chords, his head down, concentrating and
then settled in. The drifting lyrics and melody sent Sam into a dream. He
watched Alex's fingers stroke the frets, captivated by his long slim fingers
and neat nails on the strings.
As the last chord echoed and faded, Sam blinked. “Did you w...write
that? It's good. Time w...w...wasting time.”
“Yeah right. And the fact nothing's ever gonna come my way. That's
not my song, old buddy, that's by Otis Redding, died a few months ago.
You not heard it?” He strummed a lower register. “Now if you want to
hear something by me, here's just some music—no lyrics yet. But this is
He started out with a lazy scale, descending, tumbling and then
swelling. To Sam, who knew as much about music as he knew about the
Swedish Royal Family, the sounds that shimmered through the night air
were stunning, a kaleidoscope of notes that rippled rainbow-like, sparkling
into his mind.
Sam blinked and realized Alex had stopped with his hand in midair.
He was looking at him curiously.
“What?” Sam asked, his mind a dazed fug.
“You looked like you were focused somewhere between here and
there. Like you were watching something. What was it?”
“The pattern in...intri...cate?”
“Intricate pattern?” Alex took his hands from the instrument and sat
straighter. “Where?” He looked at the sky.
Sam sighed. He'd goofed up again. “No. I didn't see any...” He started
to get to his feet.
To Read More:
Another excerpt can be found on the Awe-Struck site: http://www.awe-struck.net/books/perfect_score.html
My blog: http://lauracea.blogspot.com