Do Your Characters Talk to You?

 

Writers sometimes get intimately involved with their characters. We will be addressing the topic of author-character communication.  The “experts” tell you that you must know your characters when writing. That’s true, but how do you interact with them and do you talk to them? (There are doctors that treat people like us). There are a number of character trait forms to help you in most writing books, and there is also the back of an envelope. To be successful with your story you need interesting characters the reader can relate to and get behind. The characters must be believable, do things that are “in-character”, and right for that particular character, even if outlandish. It is a very good idea to really know your characters, especially the hero or protagonist. You need to “get into that characters head and live and see things through his / her eyes. Next, your characters need to talk to you as well. Have a dialog with your main characters to help drive your story. (I wouldn’t mention this conversation to too many people—they might outfit you with a new white padded jacket).

Below is a series of questions for consideration when working with your characters. I hope they make you think and consider how well you know your characters before you try and write them into situations they have to get out of.

When you write your characters, do you have a character profile and use it?

 

Do you talk to your characters when writing?

 

How well do you know your characters before and when you write?

 

Do your characters talk to you and if so, how?

 

Do your characters lead you in the story or do you have the story pretty well established and they follow suit?

 

If you talk to your characters, do you talk to them out loud or just in your mind?

 

During the writing process, stories sometimes change, do your characters drive this or do you just get other ideas?

 

Do your characters change during the story or just solve the mystery?

 

How do you develop your characters? Do they evolve or do you have a plan for them?

 

Does setting play a part of your characters personality?

 

Are your characters real people to you when you write?

 

We want the reader to like our characters, at least the good guys, how do you do that?

 

Do you think about your story and the characters when doing other things and not writing?

 

Have you ever been out in public and looking at a place or see something you could use in your story and start to discuss it with your leading character? Do people look at you strangely if you do this?

 

If your characters talk to you, what do you talk about?

 

Have you ever had an argument with one of your characters?

 

Do you take medication for this?

 

Remember, your characters work for you and they don’t cost much in pay and benefits, so treat them nice.

 

Remember: There are meds for this condition and doctors who treat people like us.

 

 

The Many Names of Helen Hunt Jackson

Post (c) Doris McCraw

Doris

Helen Hunt Jackson is not a well-known name to many. This of course is partially due to the fact she died in 1885. Additionally, she had many names during her lifetime, one of which was not Helen Hunt Jackson.

She was born Helen Maria Fiske in 1830. She carried this name until her marriage to Edward Bissell Hunt on October 28, 1852. At that time, as was the custom, she assumed her husband’s surname. It was not until after Edward’s death and Helen started writing for publication that we begin to see use of the many names now associated with Helen Hunt Jackson.

One of the first pseudonyms she used was the name Marah. In the Hebrew tradition the name Marah means ‘bitter’, which fits Helen’s life at that time. She had already lost her first son at eleven months in 1854, and then her husband, Edward in 1863. The final blow was the death of her remaining child, her second son, in 1865. According to the biography “Helen Hunt Jackson” by Ruth Odell, the name Marah appeared in 1865, the year of Rennie’s death, with the first poems published by Helen and continued throughout that year. 1865 was also the year H.H. appeared.

Of all the pen names used by Helen, H.H. was probably the one most frequently used by Helen. Of all her works H. H. is the one most commonly seen. Still as an author who was writing to be published at a time women were not using their ‘real’ names, Helen made use of additional pen names to increase her options for publication.

In 1867 and again in 1868 Helen made use of the name Rip Van Winkle for at least two of her prose works.

Helen briefly used Helen Hunt and Mrs. Helen Hunt in 1868 and Marah showed up again in 1870. There is also one instance where she used the name ‘Justice’.

After her marriage to William S. Jackson in 1875, Helen then used the name Helen Jackson in her correspondence but continued using H. H. in her writings. Helen had said she did not use the name ‘ Hunt’ because there was no reason to constantly remind William of Edward. Also, in that time, women used the last name of the man they were married to.

11-13-11 book signing 123
Gravesite- Helen – Wife of William S. Jackson, 1885 ‘Emgravit’ (As per her instructions)

For her novels Helen used H. H., No Name, and Saxe Holm. If you were to read her ‘romance’ stories they would probably have the name Saxe Holm. For many years there was a question as to who the author really was, for Helen had made her publisher swear to tell no one.

In her autobiography Francis Wolcott (Mrs. Francis Bass when Helen knew her) states that ‘she figured out who Saxe Holm was from the various things Helen had said, and Helen did not deny the assumption’.

After 1879, when Helen heard Standing Bear of the Ponca tribe speak, her focus became the plight of the Ponca Indians and from there the plight of all Native people. She was still using H.H., when her non-fiction work a “Century of Dishonor”, was published. There is some discussion that she may have used her real name Helen Jackson on “Century of Dishonor”, but instead it was used for her “Reports on the Conditions of the Mission Indians”. This was a report for the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and also may have been published for the public.

The only work other than the above mentioned report that was published under her real name, Helen Jackson is “Ramona”.

It seems that the use of Helen Hunt Jackson for Helen’s works occurred after her husband William married her niece, also named Helen. This change may have been to avoid confusion between Helen Jackson the author, who died three years prior to William’s second marriage, and Helen Jackson the niece.

During Helen’s lifetime, it was normal for female authors to use pseudonyms which Helen did. Still with the use of H.H. it was obvious to those who followed her work, who this really was. According to the same biography by Ruth Odell, Helen wanted people to know who she was. If you look at the work with all the ‘names’ used by Helen you will find a substantial body of work. Helen excelled not only at poetry, but also essays, novels and short stories. She wrote for children and adults, both with equal skill.

If you get the chance, check out the works of Helen by any of her names. You will not be disappointed. Many of her works are in the public domain, but the one most might enjoy is “Nelly’s Silver Mine” Google Books, Nelly’s Silver Mine, one of the first children’s book to make use of place as almost another character.

Doris Gardner-McCraw -also writing as Angela Raines
Author, Speaker, Historian-specializing in
Colorado and Women’s History

For a list of Angela Raines BooksHere 
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Celebrating Moms, Celebrating Women

Gayle & Mary outsideThis post by Gayle M. Irwin

During my presentation and book reading last Saturday at the Natrona County Library, they sat next to young children or held babies in their arms. On the drive a few short hours later to a different community’s bookstore, one sat in the back seat of my vehicle next to her little one buckled into a car seat. Of whom do I speak? Moms.

Mother’s Day, which began during the early 1900s, arrives on Sunday. I’ll be with my mom that day as I travel this weekend to my parents’ home in Denton, Montana. With every year that passes, I treasure each Mother’s Day I’m able to share with my mom. Although she views it as “just another day” in her nonchalant “don’t make a big deal of things” attitude, I view it as a day of blessing. I love my mother, I admire my mother, I respect her and I cherish her. She is not only the woman who raised Gayle and Mom_Little Snowy Rangeme (and did so with great love, encouragement, and selflessness), she is also my dear friend. I confide in her, I cry on her shoulder, and I celebrate positive things with her; she is always there for me. We may not agree on some things, including politics, but we respect one another and listen to each other. And, we dearly love and respect one another.

As Mother’s Day approaches, I not only give a shout-out to women who have the difficult yet loving job of raising children, but I also raise a glass in toast of all women, especially those I know — for we all “birth” and/or care for something in our own way. I have friends who have raised children as single moms, most no fault of their own (husbands committing adultery and widowed at a young age). I know women whose boyfriends/ fiancés decided to leave when the ladies became pregnant (I work part-time at a pregnancy center, and this happens frequently).  Many of my friends are “mom” to furry “kids” as well as to human children, and other women, like me, didn’t have babies from their womb but do have children of their heart (both furry ones and adopted human children). And, even those who never married and have no kids, but they run businesses, work at jobs, and volunteer for non-profits. Women do many things, and a lot of them balance several things, whether they are mothers to human or furry children or not.

Gayle with Stacy and CindyWomen are smart, they are talented, they have strong work ethics, and they are compassionate. Yet, it’s challenging to be a woman. From our sex-driven culture (movies, TV, magazines, prostitution, sex trafficking) to the lower wages women earn in the workplace, difficulties still prevail in our society and between the genders even after years of greater equality and justice. It’s no longer an Ozzie and Harriet world, some of which isn’t so bad (including increased numbers of women in management roles, as business owners, and serving as scientists, college presidents, and state governors); yet, there is still a road to travel to have men and women be seen, and treated, as equals.

Gayle_Lea_Casey_Leah_booksigningSo, this Mother’s Day, I celebrate my own mother and other women in my life who make an impact, not just upon me but upon other people. I celebrate my deceased grandmothers, especially Grandma Mardy who encouraged me to attend college and expressed her pride about my writing. I honor my many female friends, those who are moms to human children and to furry kids; those who are writers and other creatives and those who use their talents and skills in other productive ways; those who are facing health challenges and preserving through those situations; those who have lost their spouses and children; those who volunteer to help others in need; those who run their own businesses and those who work two or more jobs to make ends meet – all of my female friends and family make life more beautiful because of who they are and what they do. I love and admire every one of you, including my Writing Wranglers and Warrior friends!

Happy Mother’s Day to women everywhere!

 

Gayle_CHS booktable34Gayle M. Irwin is an award-winning Wyoming writer. She is the author of several inspirational pet books for children and adults, and she freelances for newspapers and magazines. Her most recent release is a children’s picture book titled A Kind Dog Named Mary, about her springer/cocker mix that is trained as a therapy dog. Gayle has contributed stories to many different Chicken Soup for the Soul books, including the 2014 release The Dog Did What? and last year’s release The Spirit of America, in which she writes about America’s national parks. She supports various pet rescue organizations as a volunteer and with contributions from her book sales. Learn more about Gayle and her writing and speaking endeavors at www.gaylemirwin.com.

 

Mary Book Cover   cody-cabin-cover2   bobcat-front-cover  bookcover_tail-tales_front-cover    Blind Dog Ebook Cover_updatedMay2014  Chicken Soup_DogDidWhat_Cover  Spirit of America book

Courage

This post (c) Doris McCraw

Doris

All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them. Walt Disney

It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are. e. e. cummings

Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear. Mark Twain

Faced with what is right, to leave it undone shows a lack of courage. Confucius

These are some quotes on courage, at least some of my favorites. We as humans are asked to be courageous many times in our lives. Sometimes it is a major event, but many times it is in our day-to-day activities we find and show the most courage.

The writer, painter, politician and philosopher all show courage when they offer their ideas, their work to the world. Whether we agree or not, compassion for their effort is the least we can do. Offering suggestions, support, and strength for their creation seems the honorable route.

josiess-dream-2nd

http://amzn.to/2itPfVK

In my novel “Josie’s Dream” which releases on Tuesday January 17, 2017, my main character Josephine Forrester, is following her dream of being a doctor in a small town in Eastern Colorado.  Yes, in the 1870’s when this story takes place, women were doctors, many who attending medical school. It took courage to follow your dream, you passion then as well as now. In many ways, the above quotes played a part in the writing of this story. The eleven authors who contributed to this series all showed courage in telling their story.

grandmas-wedding-quilt-series-geneology

So whenever you wonder if you should try, take heart and follow your dream with courage. Regardless of the outcome, you will have traveled another step on the journey of your life.

For those interested in the novel/series, check out Amazon’s “Grandma’s Wedding Quilts”. http://amzn.to/2iVfF1h  

Angela Raines is the pen name for Doris McCraw. Doris also writes haiku posted at – http://fivesevenfivepage.blogspot.com  Check out her other work and like her Amazon author page:  http://amzn.to/1I0YoeL

 

 

 

 

 

Looking Back at 2016

imgp6488By S. J. Brown

Since 2016 is almost over I thought I would reminisce a bit.  For several years I have been sharing my images on Facebook.   I share a new photo each Sunday so there are many photos that my blogging buddies don’t get to see.  So I thought I would include the 10 most popular photos from 2016 on my last blog of the year.

For many of us 2016 was a roller coaster year, with plenty of ups and downs.  The snow in the beginning of the year came up over 3 feet here.  When I was finally able to get my feet down on solid ground Hubby and I headed out for a few photo trips.

This year I collected nearly 900 books for one of the libraries that flooded in Southern West Virginia. I helped plant over 150 trees and spent time with some gardening friends, when I wasn’t out taking pictures.   I tagged 20 monarch Butterflies and flipped dozens of horseshoe crabs.

My sister and I completed a Memoir and are currently working on books 2 & 3 in the series.  Perhaps years from now we will collaborate on Senior Sisters together.  2016 brought us scorching hot temperatures, new adventures and lots of fond memories.  I photographed Tree Frogs, Bald Eagles, bunny rabbits and baby birds.  I trudged through the snow to capture White Tailed deer, and sunk in the mud to zoom in on Water Fowl.

  I am currently working out the details for a few photo trips in 2017.  I will be heading North for one trip, East for another and South for yet another.  While I work out the details I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday season. 

I hope 2016 was kind to you.

May 2017 welcome you with open arms and make you smile. 

december-horses-horizontal

Connect with S. J. Brown on Facebook , be one of the first to see what she has been up and view her Sunday Shares.

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S. J. Browns coloring books feature sketches based on her photographs.

CBCover Acover

Cover 3-26-23Back Cover 4-24-2013Close up and Close Encounters is available on Amazon  at

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=close+ups+%26+close+Encounters

Or get your autographed copy at S. J. Brown website http://www.sjbrown.50megs.com

S. J. Brown’s children’s pictures books are only available through S. J. Brown.

You can order your copies from her website S.J. Brown

Cover All the Birds I See Cover

Thank you for stopping by. I hope I can count on you to comment and share this blog.

Falling for Wildlife

IMGP6507By S. J. Brown

Okay so maybe the title is a little deceptive. I am sure most of you are looking forward to stories about how clumsy I am when I am focused on a critter.  Sorry that isn’t today’s subject.

Instead I am focusing on the changing seasons. I’m sure most people think summer time is prime time for photographing wildlife, not this summer.  When it the temperature hits the upper 90’s most of us are hot, cranky and generally in a bad mood.  Critters feel the same way.  Approaching a cranky deer can get you charged, or stomped by those powerful hoofs.

1-deer

Bears are large, strong, and have massive claws and some nasty teeth as well. They don’t like the heat either.  A large bird just trying to stay cool doesn’t want to pose for a picture.  They can show their irritation by swooping down and attacking with their razor sharp talons.

2-vulture

So I spent most of my summer approaching smaller critters less dangerous critters. I added shots of, some passive shore birds, butterflies, squirrels, ducks, and frogs.

3-frog

Now that the hot oppressive heat of summer is gone and Fall has arrived I am ready to go. It’s time for me to head to the woods.  This time of year the vibrant fall leaves make a great backdrop for critter photos.

4-deer-in-fall

So I have pulled out my sweatshirts, purchased back up batteries and extra film for the camera and I am heading to the woods. I may stop along the river’s edge and visit a lake or two in the early morning hours.  When most of you are having that second cup of coffee I will be zooming in on my next subject.

5-bear

As you munch on your lunch Jay and I will be discussing where we want to be just before sunset. As you settle in for the evening I will be heading home with a number of new images and some happy memories of the day.

6-otters

Enjoy the cooler temperature of fall and take a few minutes to let the colorful array of colors Mother Nature give us this time of year engulf you.   No Fall isn’t my favorite season, but it does come in second.  What is your favorite season ?

Connect with S. J. Brown on Facebook and be one of the first to see what she has been up and view her Sunday Shares.

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/sj.brown.3367

S. J. Browns coloring books feature sketches based on her photographs.

CBCover Acover

Cover 3-26-23Back Cover 4-24-2013Close up and Close Encounters is available on Amazon  at

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=close+ups+%26+close+Encounters

Or get your autographed copy at S. J. Brown website http://www.sjbrown.50megs.com

S. J. Brown’s children’s pictures books are only available through S. J. Brown.

You can order your copies from her website S.J. Brown

Cover All the Birds I See Cover

Thank you for stopping by. I hope I can count on you to comment and share this blog.

WORDS & Women Poets

edit hhj spc

Post copyright by Doris McCraw/Angela Raines-author

As promised, more poems and poets as a continuation of National Poetry Month.

We are writers, we use words. Words are our tools to make our imaginations come to life, be they prose, poetry or fiction. For many, poetry is not easily understood. Yet, for the poet, the picture story they paint with their words is golden. Poetry like painting is using brushstrokes of words to cover the canvas of paper. Also like painting, not everyone understands. But poets and poetry have been around almost since the beginning of time. Both women and men have used the form to tell their stories. Just look at the list of women poets and you will be amazed. Here is a list compiled on a Wikipedia site: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_female_poets It does not include everyone, but it is still pretty impressive.

Other than Helen, there have been women poets whose work brings out a corresponding response from me. I share with you some of these favorites and their works.

Leticia Elizabeth Landon – 1802 to1838. Google Books has her work “The Zenana, and minor poems of L.E.L” available for free download. She wrote in beautifully simple language, yet manages to touch your heart with her thoughts.

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Sara Teasdale from en.wikipedia.org

Sara Teasdale – 1884 to 1933. Her poem “Soft Rains Will Come” speaks to the sadness I sometimes feel about humans. Twelve lines, yet the words so powerful.

There will come soft rains and the smell of the ground,
And swallows circling with their shimmering sound;
And frogs in the pools, singing at night,
And wild plum trees in tremulous white,
Robins will wear their feathery fire,
Whistling their whims on a low fence-wire;
And not one will know of the war, not one
Will care at last when it is done.
Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree,
If mankind perished utterly;
And Spring herself, when she woke at dawn,
Would scarcely know that we were gone.

Dorothy Parker – 1893 to 1967 well known for as a founding member of the Algonquin Round Table. Also known for her caustic wit, a trait that is a double edged sword. Hitting the truth in few words, but sometimes that truth is painful as in her poem “Résumé”

Razors pain you;
Rivers are damp;
Acids stain you,
And drugs cause cramp.
Guns aren’t lawful;
Nooses give;
Gas smells awful;
Might as well live.

Emma Lazarus from en.wikipedia.org

The final poet I leave you with is Emma Lazarus – 1849 to 1887. Her poem “The New Colossus” is part and parcel of America in the nineteenth century. I’m sure you will recognize the words.

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

As you can see, we may curse when we can’t find the correct word. We can shout for joy as the muse sends them to us, but words are our stock and trade. As these women have shown, words are powerful, use them wisely.

Enjoy my haiku and photos at: http://fivesevenfivepage.blogspot.com

Angela Raines is the pen name for Doris McCraw. Originally from the mid-west, Doris now calls the Rocky Mountains her home. Doris is a writer, historian, actor,and teacher. An avid reader Doris loves to spend time in history archives looking for the small, unknown pieces of history. Many times these pieces end up in her stories or poems.  Like her author page to stay on top of her work.  http://amzn.to/1I0YoeL

“One Christmas Knight” Medieval Anthology
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HOME FOR HIS HEART
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