Join me as I talk about characters and writing stuff over on friend, writer , and award winning Casi McLean’s blog today. Stop by and leave some love. Here’s the link: Writing about Characters
Tag Archives: Characters
Today, Author Joanne Guidoccio is my guest. She has new book coming out this week that promises to be a winner! She’s also having a giveaway – read on down to the end for a RAFFLECOPTER chance at an Amazon gift card.
Joanne, I’m so excited to have you here today.
4 More Days!!
Peggy, thanks for participating in the countdown to A Season for Killing Blondes.
I consider protagonist Gilda Greco to be my literary twin. She’s approximately 70 percent of me and shares many of my interests. As non-athletes it took us a while to find a preferred physical activity, but once we discovered yoga, we were hooked.
In my case, it took over three decades of yoga trials…
The blonde willow was out of her comfort zone.
As she removed a borrowed parka, four sizes too big for her perfectly toned size zero body, she sighed deeply and tossed her Farrah Fawcett curls. The California yogini was not impressed by winter in March and seven less-than-enthusiastic students in Sudbury, Ontario. She spoke eloquently about her personal journey, and then demonstrated her pretzel-like ability to contort her body in unimaginable poses.
Impressed and intimidated, we dreaded the short lesson that would follow.
She did not consider our beginner status. Instead, she continued with her favorite poses, and we struggled to follow.
Within minutes, I developed a tickle in my throat and started coughing uncontrollably. I quietly left the room and closed the door behind me. I had a drink of water, but my cough still persisted. I assumed the walls were soundproof, but I was wrong. I found out later that my loud and persistent bark was heard throughout the remainder of the short yoga session. When I re-entered the room, I received several looks of concern and pity. As for the blonde willow…she had transformed into a blonde oak.
Fast forward twenty years.
After sharing the usual advice about portion control, exercise and stress management, my oncologist urged me to take up yoga. Memories of the blonde willow/oak still lingered and I tried not to show my frustration. But my oncologist persisted and I agreed to give yoga another try.
I bought the clothes—sleek, black yoga pants from Roots and several Life is Good t-shirts—and signed up for a weekly yoga class with a very charming (and highly recommended) instructor. He gave each of us individual attention during the first class. At the beginning of the second class, he distributed business cards and chatted about his multiple sideline businesses. By the third class, the other students were writing checks for his wonder products. I was not impressed and did not return.
A few months later, I heard about a new yoga instructor who was offering classes in her own home. When I called, she assured me the course was geared for complete beginners with no previous experience. She sounded surprised when I asked if she had a sideline business and stressed that yoga was her main focus.
Reassured, I showed up and was pleased to see only two students in the room. Within a few minutes, an active and poorly trained Boston terrier joined the class. She eyed me with interest: I was the new girl, fresh meat. The dog spent a lot of time circling and sniffing me throughout the hour-long class. As for what happened during Downward Dog…I shall leave that to your imagination.
Three yoga trials. Three strikes. Yoga was out.
All that changed during the second summer after retirement.
I had just picked up Wayne Dyer’s latest book, Excuses Begone! and read the entire book in two sitting. I was drawn to his suggestion for practicing yoga and imagined myself having a conversation with the motivational guru.
“You must give it another try, Joanne. I’ve been practicing ninety minutes every day for the past four years and I’ve noticed a lot of positive changes. I got rid of all those aches and pains I inherited from three decades of running and tennis.”
“That’s wonderful, but I can’t see myself doing yoga every day. For one thing, I would have to take lessons. I don’t like following DVDs or books.”
“Take a few lessons. What’s the big deal?”
“I’ve tried that before.” I gave him a brief summary of my three yoga trials.
He shook his head. “You have to give yoga an honest thirty-day trial.”
“Thirty days!” I couldn’t imagine lasting that long. “Do you know how expensive that will be?”
He repeated, “Give yoga an honest thirty-day trial.” He added, with twinkle in his eye, “You’ll feel better and you may just stop making so many excuses.”He pointed to the cover of his book.
I was skeptical, but I had to admit he was right. I had not given yoga a fair trial, and I had a tendency to make excuses. I decided to wait until the fall and then investigate the different yoga studios in town.
A few days later, the following ad appeared in a local paper:
Unlimited Yoga during the months of July and August for $160
I imagined Wayne Dyer laughing and whispering, “The universe has spoken. No more excuses.”
I planned to attend three classes a week and see how I felt by the end of the summer.
I was hooked after the first week.
The classes were small and the instructors were able to work with me on an individual basis. I test-drove all the instructors and then zeroed in on my favourites: Amy, the social worker from Newfoundland who had completed her training in India; Claudia, the young mother who offered a structured class that appealed to my left brain tendencies; and Lisa, the quintessential (and kind) willow.
It was reassuring to discover that all my body parts were working and reporting faithfully for yoga duty. I felt myself growing healthier and stronger with each stretch, breath and positive thought. And I didn’t feel pressured or frustrated when I struggled with a pose. I kept repeating Lisa’s mantra: A yoga pose is a journey, not a destination.
I still have my personal challenges, but I am less reactive and more inclined to let things go. Instead, I gravitate toward that beautiful place where I can step out of time and leave all my concerns behind.
A Season for Killing Blondes
Hours before the opening of her career counseling practice, Gilda Greco discovers the dead body of golden girl Carrie Ann Godfrey, neatly arranged in the dumpster outside her office. Gilda’s life and budding career are stalled as Detective Carlo Fantin, her former high school crush, conducts the investigation.
When three more dead blondes turn up all brutally strangled and deposited near Gilda’s favorite haunts, she is pegged as a prime suspect for the murders. Frustrated by Carlo’s chilly detective persona and the mean girl antics of Carrie Ann’s meddling relatives, Gilda decides to launch her own investigation. She discovers a gaggle of suspects, among them a yoga instructor in need of anger management training, a lecherous photographer, and fourteen ex-boyfriends.
As the puzzle pieces fall into place, shocking revelations emerge, forcing Gilda to confront the envy and deceit she has long overlooked.
Amazon (Canada) – http://is.gd/t0g1KZ
Amazon (United States) – http://is.gd/jADjPp
Amazon (United Kingdom) – http://is.gd/8mknFJ
Amazon (Australia) – http://is.gd/r843iX
Kobo – http://is.gd/BpO9gY
In high school, Joanne dabbled in poetry, but it would be over three decades before she entertained the idea of writing as a career. She listened to her practical Italian side and earned degrees in mathematics and education. She experienced many fulfilling moments as she watched her students develop an appreciation (and sometimes, love) of mathematics. Later, she obtained a post-graduate diploma as a career development practitioner and put that skill set to use in the co-operative education classroom. She welcomed this opportunity to help her students experience personal growth and acquire career direction through their placements.
In 2008, she took advantage of early retirement and decided to launch a second career that would tap into her creative side and utilize her well-honed organizational skills. Slowly, a writing practice emerged. Her articles and book reviews were published in newspapers, magazines, and online. When she tried her hand at fiction, she made reinvention a recurring theme in her novels and short stories. A member of Sisters in Crime, Crime Writers of Canada, and Romance Writers of America, Joanne writes paranormal romance, cozy mysteries, and inspirational literature from her home base of Guelph, Ontario.
Where to find Joanne…
I recently visited the Roses of Prose blog-site (http://bit.ly/1Rq2ph8) and talked about how Fall has been a big factor in my romance novels. It’s the season I love the most because of the beautiful changing patchworks of colors, the cool crispness in the air, and the notion the world is slowing down, getting ready to rest and hibernate for the winter months ( much like I do!) I love the symbolism of falling in love in the Fall. It just feels good to me. This got me thinking: what do the other seasons represent to writers?
Would the Legend of Sleepy Hollow been as good a read if it had taken place in the summer? I don’t think so. The symbolism of the darkening and shortening days, and the cold, harsh descriptions of the dying foliage add to the utter creepiness of the story of the Headless Horseman. It wouldn’t have the same effect on the reader if took place during an 85 degree day at the beach.
Does the children’s book How the Grinch Stole July 4th make any sense? No, it’s How The Grinch Stole Christmas, which takes place in the winter with it’s cold, frigid air – much the same as the Grinch’s tiny heart, and the joyous spirit of the season helping him to find his love and kindness again. It wouldn’t feel the same if the Whos were giving out firecrackers instead of Christmas gifts. That’s just wrong.
Think of other stories where a specific season was highlighted. Would the story have been as good or rewarding if the season had been switched? And in your own writing. Do you favor a season more than others? If so, why. What does that time of the year bring to your story that enhances it?
I’d really be interested in hearing responses to these questions,so please, feel free to comment and pass the link on to other you think might be interested.
I saw this question on a blog recently: what Literary character(s) would you like to have dinner with and why?
This is a great question to actually ask at a dinner party. Responses can be all over the board depending on how well-read your guests are and what age. I can see people in their very early twenties wanting to break bread with Katniss Everdeen or Ron Weasley. My literary tastes are somewhat more dated.
First and foremost, I’d like to sit next to Elizabeth Bennet, because I’d like to ask her to truthfully tell me, once and for all, did she fall in love with Darcy for Darcy, or for Pemberley? I’ve always been a little suspicious she really did love Darcy and that her opinions of him could change so abruptly just because he helped Lydia and the Bennet family. What, exactly, made her see him in such a different light, from the first time they were introduced, Pemberley aside?
I’d like to sit down next to Scarlett O’Hara and smack her in the head. What was she thinking? Here she’s got the original bad boy himself, Rhett Butler, all but drooling after he and she wants nothing to do with him. She pines for Ashley Wilkes, one of the most boring characters ever penned, and doesn’t see the hunkadoodle right in front of her pixie little face. What gives, Scarlett?
Breaking bread with Atticus Finch would be memorable. I’d really like to know how he came to be such a liberal thinker in a surrounding chock full of uber-moralistic and conservative viewpoints on race, color, and gender. I’d like to discuss his upbringing and ask about his parents. Did their opinions and beliefs help form him to be the man he was, or was there some internal moral compass driving him?
Sherlock Holmes is such a fascinating character that there are no fewer than three television shows devoted to him at the present time. In an age where police work was in its infancy, his brain and desire for truth at any cost can be viewed either in a positive light, or as the most simplistic narcissism imaginable. He truly believed he was the smartest man in any room, hands down. Humility didn’t exist in his vocabulary. I would love to discuss his toilet training, to discern where his total control evolved from.
Nancy Drew was the coolest character I ever read when I was 10. I wanted to be beautiful and smart like her, drive a Corvair, and just have everyone love me. She had the neatest dad, the handsomest boyfriend and the most loyal friends – in truth, she had everything I didn’t. I’d like to ask her how it felt to be so perfect. And I’d really like to hear her tell me she was far from it!
Jane Eyre. The original drama queen. Tragedy and misery follows poor, plain Jane everywhere she goes. A lousy childhood morphs into an oppressive adolescence that ends in a pitiable adulthood. Even the guy she pines for is a pain in the neck. I’d like to talk to her and ascertain if she’s one of those people who simply thrive on the drama. A day can’t pass without some sort of emotional deluge.
Holly Golightly seems to be the girl you’d love to sit next to at dinner. Witty, bright and light conversation would abound from her and I’m sure if you were a man she’d make you feel as if you were the only one in her sphere. She is named so perfectly – go-lightly – which is how she flits through life, moving without stopping or settling down, flitting from person to person, relationship to relationship. I’d probably ask her about her toilet training as well. That fear of not holding on to anything or anyone had to come from somewhere!
Madeline. Ah, sweet Madeline. Never having attended one, I’d really like the low down dirt on what it’s like to live in a boarding school. You hear so many unseemly things about them, such as the abuse, the sexual escapades, the bullying. Did our poor, little Parisian girl go through any of these things? Or was life really how it was written for her – all unicorns, butterflies, and sunbeams? And what about Miss Clavel? There’s a hidden understory there and I’m just dying to know it!
Truly, if I sat next to any of the folks at a dinner, I don’t think I’d touch a bit of food. They’re all fascinating in totally individual and diverse ways.
How about you? Who would you like to break bead with if you could?
Today I’m hosting multi-genre author Linda T. Kepner. Linda is a fellow NHRWA sistah and she writes a wide variety of fiction from science fiction and mystery to romance. Since her writing is so wide spread, I asked her which literary characters she’d like to have dinner with, knowing she could pull from a rich serving of folks. Read on and see who her culinary delights are and why. It’s pretty fascinating.
Peggy Jaeger asked me: What Literary character(s) would you like to have dinner with, and why?
I’m influenced by intelligent heroes and heroines. And I think the food would be as interesting as the conversation!
Archie Goodwin. Somewhere that we wouldn’t have to dress up, although he likes his dancing and a good night on the town. I would like to know if it was his love of food or adventure that made him agree to become Nero Wolfe’s leg-man. After all, he showed he really didn’t need Wolfe to survive in 20th-century New York City, and yet he says, “Yes sir,” and goes out on the next errand. Robert Goldsborough is doing a wonderful job of answering some of these questions about the pre-Rex Stout era of their partnership in the prequels he’s writing. Maybe he has talked to Archie Goodwin.
Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane (aka Lady Peter), together or separately. The characters in Dorothy Sayers’s Lord Peter Wimsey novels (continued by Jill Paton Walsh) are probably much smarter than me, but I think we could find something to talk about. It would be interesting to get Harriet’s slant on being a woman writer in a time that discouraged women writing. That’s an interesting time period, between World Wars 1 and 2. I never knew much about England’s role because my Irish-American family was so rabidly anti-English they wouldn’t even cross the border to Ontario for Sunday afternoon ice cream. And it was only ten miles away.
John Watson, M.D. I had a crush on him when I was in high school. I thought he was much cooler than Sherlock Holmes. He was ex-military, a man of action, and intelligent enough to have an advanced degree. Good-looking, too, at least in the early years, a tanned ex-soldier. I borrowed The Complete Sherlock Holmes from my high school library and renewed it continually for almost a year. I never saw the old movies, with Nigel Bruce whuffling around for comedic action, and I’m glad. The modern movie/TV Watsons are much better.
Dr. Leonard J. McCoy from the classic Star Trek series. I read the books based on the TV scripts, but they were done by an English sci-fic author who had never seen the show (James Blish). As I got older, I appreciated Blish’s writing more. He made those characters into thinking men. But McCoy’s twinkling blue eyes, his Southern background, and his skill made him very foxy, didn’t matter if he was the oldest guy on the ship. He started as an “extra” in that program, and ended up as a star. The books showed his compassion and his common sense.
Melville Dewey, aka Melvil Dui. I know, not a literary character as such – though I think someone may have written a novel featuring him. (There was a good long biographical article about him in AL – does that count?) I’d like to know how he transformed the Baconian theory of knowledge into the Dewey Decimal System (and the LC system), and how he decided to form the American Library Association. But I’d only want coffee with him, because a) he was an 1890’s university librarian, so he could be preachy; and b) he was a masher who diddled with the funds of the ALA and with more than a few of the female librarians, and got himself kicked out of the organization in disgrace. I’ll bet I’d probably end up paying for the coffee, too.
Here’s an little gift: an excerpt from Linda’s VALE OF THE VAMPIRE, book 2 in The Vampire of Manhattan series.
Vale of Vampires
(Book 2 of The Vampire of Manhattan series)
At Good Hope Hospital and Hanford & Bogie Publishing, life goes on. Dr. Benjamin Smith has become the official physician of The Vampire of Manhattan. Dr. Aden Drinan grudgingly acquires a mentor in Brooklyn. Bill Sniffen gallops off to Canada after a hot story. Rosa resists being packed off to Italy. Jenna McArdle wrangles authors, editors, publishers, and the health issues of her last remaining family member, Jimmy.
Then Sniffen vanishes in Canada, and Jenna goes looking for him. During her travels, she meets a wise vampire hunter, a kindly Quebecois trapper, and a sophisticated vampire lord. Then Jenna also disappears, and the doctors begin searching for her. The jaunt to Canada promises to be a walk in the park. Central Park. After midnight. On a very bad night.
“So that’s where you stand.” Fletcher set down the glass with a thud.
“That’s where I stand.” In one smooth motion Drinan refilled the glass, again without asking.
“You don’t screw up, Drinan, that’s the pisser.” Fletcher took another sip of the cognac in the spirit in which it was given. “They can gossip about your women and bitch about you skipping hospital meetings, but there’s not a doctor alive who’d say that Aden Drinan ever ditched a patient.”
“That’s the way I want to keep it.” Drinan also sipped cognac. Looking into the glass, he added, “That’s what’s important to me.”
“More important than your women?”
Drinan met his gaze. “Yes.”
Fletcher seemed greatly subdued, more than two shots of cognac should have done. He stood. “I’ll think about what you’ve said.”
“All right.” Drinan stood, too, and saw his guest back out into the darkened halls of the Doctors’ Annex. He shut the office door and sat down again in his chair. Thoughtfully, he put the cognac away. Fletcher was a good doc. All he needed was a little time.
The telephone rang. Drinan looked at the clock. Six o’clock on a Friday evening. A fine time for an emergency. Just when he wanted to get out of the office for a while. He could pretend he was not here; but he never did.
“Why, you still are at the office.”
Her voice made him smile. The weariness melted away. “Hello, Jenna. What can I do for you?”
“Do you have a date?”
“Well, then. The Rainbow Room. Eight o’clock.”
“That’s the best offer I’ve had all week.”
“It must have been a heck of a week.”
“It was. Are you getting too liberated, or may I still pay our way?”
“Oh, you may, if you insist. I admit I’m going to ask you for a favor.”
“Not the Secret Life of Aden Drinan, I hope.”
“Oh, no. Not at all. Something far more mundane. I will go out and buy you a boutonniere, though.”
“I can live with that,” said Drinan. “Thanks, Jenna. I don’t know how you knew I needed some time away from this.”
“I have psychic powers,” Jenna said. “Some experts in the field have told me so.”
Linda Tiernan Kepner has loved genre fiction – science fiction, mystery, fantasy, and romance – since she was a child, although not much was available in “serious northern” New York State. Except for Canadian television and books available in school libraries, there was none to read – so she wrote her own. She has been writing since third grade, but truly published since the 1990s.
Linda’s science fiction and fantasy short stories have appeared in Absolute Magnitude magazine and anthology; Reality’s Escape; Sorcerer’s Apprentice; Dreams of Decadence; FantasticStoriesoftheImagination.com; and the anthologies Little Shop of Poisons and Potions, The Apothecary on the Street of Dreams, The Life and Times of Griswald Grimm, and Decopunk.
So far, Linda has published seven novels: Play the Game and Planting Walnuts (science fiction); Second Chance and Second Chance Sister (romance); The Whisperwood Ordinaire (fantasy fiction); and the paranormal series featuring the Vampire of Manhattan, Loving the Vampire and Vale of Vampires (to be released early June 2015, two books to follow).
Find Linda here, most often:
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Linda-Kepner/e/B009BQY0XW
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/Linda-Kepner?store=allproducts&keyword=Linda+Kepner