I was doing some pondering, like I often do, and I wondered to myself, what is it about so many awesome authors who are able to really suck you into their worlds and make you care about their characters? How do they do it? I hope I'm one of them since I've had a lot of people tell me they really feel for the characters I've created, but I don't want to toot my own horn, so I won't. ;)
How does one achieve that level of believability when writing? I don't know the definitive answer to that, but I have an idea that might explain it. It isn't enough to just write about the characters and what happens to them. Anyone can write X went to the land of weirdos and met Y. They fell in love. The big bad prevented them from being together. They overcame. The end. You have to BE them. When I write, I get inside my characters' heads. I feel what they would feel. I write the dialogue I hear them say. I sense how they would react to their situations. When I close my eyes, I can see them, and I listen to them when they talk to me.
And, yes, they do talk to me. That doesn't mean I need a one way trip to the asylum either. What it means is they give me little tidbits of information about themselves that I have to build on. For example, Remy came to me in a dream and showed me a pivotal scene that happens toward the end of Craving, and then he wouldn't leave me alone about it. He kept shoving it to the forefront of my mind until I caved and decided to explore it. I currently have someone who keeps telling me his name, and I have no idea what he wants me to do with that information, but I'll figure it out. Let it be known here that Adam is an entity who will be explored at some point. Now let's see where he pops up in the future. He feels like a werewolf to me, but he hasn't told me that yet. Definitely supernatural though. I also have another vampire, more traditional than the vamps in Willow Creek (think Dracula-esque), who keeps making his presence known. I've tried to coax some things out of him, but he hasn't given up much yet. Who knows? Maybe he's Adam, and he's actually a vampire instead of a wolf.
Anyway, I got off track there for a minute. Back to my point, I'm often asked when I do interviews what piece of advice I would give to aspiring writers, and I usually say to just keep writing. But it isn't enough, is it? I think the better advice would be to just keep writing from inside your hero's/heroine's/villain's head instead of from the outside looking in, because THAT is how you make them interesting, and THAT is what will draw your readers into your world.
If you follow any of my posts on Facebook at all, you've probably seen me talk about Beth Mikell, who is a paranormal and contemporary romance author. I met Beth last year via the beta reading process, and throughout that time, she's become a very dear friend of mine. I remember beta reading The Nysein: Salvation and being completely blown away by the world and characters she'd created. I'm kind of a vampire junkie (in case that wasn't painfully obvious already), so when I read something that is completely fresh and unlike anything else I've read, I can't help but get hooked. I've since had the privilege of beta reading several more of her books, and I've fallen for each one. So you see, even though we've become great friends, I was a fan first.
Beth has been so gracious as to do an interview with me, so without further ado, here it be:
What inspired you to write your first book?
Love intrigues me. Falling in love. Discovering love. Holding onto love. From writing poetry to short stories as a teen, I enjoyed the “what if…” question. I’m always wondering what the answer is, and how the story ends.
My daughter recently challenged me. She loves music and I said, there’s a story in that song. She said, oh really? How about this one. She was desperately trying to stump me, but for every song, I found a theme and a couple struggling to find happiness. This is what inspires me—to love and to be loved.
Is there a message in your novels that you want readers to grasp?
Love conquers all, but my characters will have to work for it. I won’t hand them their happily ever after so easily. And sometimes they must pay dearly for their ultimate happiness.
What books have most influenced your life most?
Royal Seduction by Jennifer Blake
The Crossfire Series by Sylvia Day
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
(There are many others, but I love these books and will read them over and over!)
Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
My lovely hostess: Stephanie Summers! Her vampire series rocks!! Some of my new favorites are: Alannah Carbonneau. Callie Hart. Kali Cross. Louise Bay. Meredith Wild. I don’t limit myself. I’m always open to new authors.
What are your current projects?
I have many stories and ideas on going. Currently, I’m working on a book 2 in a contemporary romance series. After I finish, I have a wolf shifter story romance, then a book 2.5 in my vampire series to work on. Although, inspiration could lead me somewhere else—I’m open to suggestions. I used to write a little bit on each book, but it takes forever to write this way. My New Year’s resolution was to finish one book at a time. So far so good.
Do you write by music?
Sometimes. When I’m writing my vampire series, I love listening to Evanescence. For my contemporary work, I lean toward something lighter. It depends on my mood. I adore Frank Sinatra, so my tastes in music are eclectic.
Can you share a little of your current work?
The story revolves around a HUGE lie. In the writing world, they say if you can fix something with a conversation, then do it. BUT, what if your characters can’t fix their issues so easily? That’s where my new book comes in. I’m taking one woman with two different roles, and giving her a tough decision. The outcome has been amazing to write. I don’t want to give away too much, but here’s a small excerpt:
Everything within Dominic screamed for her—his breath to inhale her—his mouth to taste her—his hands to hold her. He stood transfixed, his gaze following every fluid thrust of her body, his heart nearly pounding out of his chest. Every grind of her hips amped his need. Every teasing caress of her hands another dig of the deprivation he needed soothed. It was all he could do but stand there and watch her bump and grind over the pole. All he wanted to do was drag her off the stage by her hair, wrap her lithe legs around his hips, and find release. Caveman but true.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Besides time to write? I have a family of five and it’s hard to juggle my schedule at times and enter the right head space. It seems like my characters want to chit-chat and tell their story when I’m not at my computer. That’s okay. Sometimes pressure makes me write better. Plus, there’s always coffee and chocolate, so I’m set!
Any news or upcoming plans for 2015?
I’ve often thought I was sitting on the edge, waiting for something good to happen. It’s become my personal goal (or mission) to become traditionally published. At the end of 2014, I began querying publishers on a southern romance I wrote years ago. Over this past summer, I began rewriting it and it sold January 3rd!! I think I about fainted when I received the contract and offer! I’m excited to share this story because it revolves around a small town filled with lies and secrets.
As far as self-publishing goes, I admire authors taking control of their writing careers. They are stepping out in faith and giving us readers another world to enjoy.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
My 3 key points:
Keep writing. Stay out of drama. Keep writing.
It’s that simple.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
For those of you that have taken a chance on me and read my work, or left reviews, thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I treasure every email, review, or comment. It means the world to me to hear from you.
Beth Mikell spends her days writing and blogging all the while taking care of her family of five. She fell 'in love' with love at a young age and continues to believe that love really does conquer all... or at least leave her blessedly happy by the end of a book. She adores alpha males... the my-way-or-the-highway-take-no-prisoners kind of heroes, especially when they screw up and land themselves in 'hot water' with the heroines. Her husband of ten years is her personal hero, forging a path of true love along the road called life.
Find Beth here… comments and shout outs welcome:
Books by Beth Mikell:
The Nysein: Salvation (Book 1)
The Nysein: Release (Book 2)
Catch me Wilde (FREE)
It's been too long since I last posted anything on here, so I'll try to make this one count.
Let me start out by saying earlier in January I was stricken with a monster bug that kept me missing in action on the internets for a good chunk of January. I was diagnosed with bronchitis, but I'm pretty sure I had the flu on top of it. I can't come up with any other logical reason as to why I felt like I was at death's doorstep for over two weeks. I couldn't move or focus or eat or do anything really. So, I got zero writing done during this time. Sad face.
I'm working on three--yes, you read that right--three stories at the moment! My main focus is on Remy's origin story. I'd originally wanted to release it this month, but with being sick, I'm not sure that will happen. I'm still shooting for that though, so we'll see. Right now, it's going to be a novella that will be priced at 99 cents. That could change as I get into the meat of the story, so stay tuned for updates.
Project number two is Take Me On, a rock star romance I've been working on for two years. The same one you've probably heard me mention a billion times over the past year. I have my ass on fire to get this one done, and I am determined to get it out sooner rather than later. I can't even begin to explain how much this one means to me. It was the first thing I ever started writing with the goal of releasing it to the public. I started writing it in February of 2013, and I feel like kicking my own ass for not finishing it already. So far, it's over 60,000 words and is only about half to 3/4 of the way finished. This will be the longest story I've written to date.
Project number three is--drum roll, please--book #4 of The Willow Creek Vampires Series! There you go. It's official. I am continuing the series. I don't know how many more books there will be, but there will be at least one more. It's in the planning stage at this point, and I've only written a few pages, but I am hoping to get it out this summer. No official date has been set. It has no title and no cover, but it does have an outline. That's something, right?
My very first signing ever is coming up fast! If you're in the Myrtle Beach area or within driving distance on March 14, come out and see me! I'd love to meet you. I'm so flippin' excited about this one. Not only is it my first signing, but a very dear friend of mine is accompanying me as my assistant, and I just know it's going to be something I will never forget.
Speaking of dear friends, I will be featuring an interview in the coming days with an awesome author who I think truly deserves to be given the spotlight. Her stories are easy to get lost in and she has a way with words that make you feel as if you're right there in the scene. I'll have that feature up sometime this weekend, so be sure to check back to see just who I'm talking about. ;)
And last but not least, I just want to say thank you to all of you readers out there who have taken a chance on me and The Willow Creek Vampires Series! When I first hit publish for Craving, I never expected anyone to ever read it. So you can imagine my surprise when people who aren't related to me actually did read it and, not only that, they actually liked it. It means the world to me, and I appreciate you more than you can ever know. It's so easy at times to just say, "Fuck it," and want to throw in the towel, but then I get a message from someone telling me they've fallen in love with my characters and I realize quitting is the last thing I'd ever want to do. Again, thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Until next time...