Last week turned out to be virtually technology free for me. My family and I stayed in Devon for a few days in a lovely cottage in the Dartmoor National Park. I knew it didn’t have a dishwasher and a tumble dryer and I was prepared. It did have a fabulous walled garden, lovely and safe for my dogs, so I was prepared to make the sacrifice.
However, what I didn’t bargain for was the almost total absence of internet. Not good when I had posts to share on my blog. So last week’s author blog challenge on ‘6 Book Marketing Tips’, never happened.
This week’s author blog challenge is Character Inspiration.
Visual stimulation is important for me as a writer. I plan out my story initially in my head, rather like watching a film or TV programme and as I write, I visualise what I’m writing. This makes my story very real to me and its one of the reasons having other pairs of eyes to read your work is so important. What makes perfect sense to me, may not be clear at all, to my readers, so having other people read it is essential.
My characters spring mostly from my imagination. I usually think about what they look like first and then add in their personality traits. This is usually only an outline, very similar to the plot outline I have and then I start writing. The characters’ outlines develop, as they are faced with conflicts, meeting new people and situations. Once I have written the first few chapters, I read my work back in detail to make sure the characters are behaving as I thought they would and that they are consistent.
There are of course other things that inspire my characters. For their physical appearance I use Pinterest. I create a new board for each book and pin likely heroes, heroines and antagonists, as well as setting and other key factors as they occur to me.
I’ve met lots of people in the course of my life and the memorable ones stay in my head. Some of these I use as characters or part of characters. Observation is a core skill in character inspiration and who doesn’t love people watching?
Getting on the cheerleading squad is hard enough without a psycho on the loose…
For Harrow High freshman Dakota Densford, life should be easy. All she has to worry about is talking to cute boys and remembering her locker combination. But when cheerleading tryouts draw near, she learns the cards are stacked against her—spots on the varsity team are limited. Dakota faces her competition head-on, but when her life is threatened, that takes the competition to a whole new level.
High school is never easy, and freshman year is off to a rough start…
Between Dakota’s uniform being ripped up and masked vandals trashing another girl’s house, everyone is suspect. To complicate matters further, Dakota has a thing for Andy McGraw, but she finds him locking lips with another girl.
The harassment continues, and when Dakota finds suspicious flyers inside her best friend’s locker, she doesn’t know what to think. The principal’s unfeeling, overachiever daughter, Brittani Barlow, will do anything to secure her place on the team. But Dakota’s neighbor, on the other hand, definitely fits the profile of a sociopath.
You realise you’re dealing with something sinister, as soon as you read the first page of this story. It’s made all the more shocking, when you realise the antagonist is targeting high school kids. I recognise the importance of being part of the cheerleading team in high school, even though I am not from North America. This story focuses on excellence and the need to belong. The characters are varied and interesting and the setting has a realistic familiarity, which gives the horror moments greater impact. The insight into the antagonist’s mind set and behaviour is intriguing but gives little away. Dakota, the story’s main protagonist faces all the usual high school girl problems; a cheating boyfriend, mean girls and the need to achieve the highest accolade of becoming a varsity cheerleader. The sense of danger and menace facing Dakota and her friends’ increases as the story progresses, leading to a climatic ending that both reveals and conceals the true evil that dominates the story. With a level of suspense and confusion that rivals ‘Pretty Little Liars’, this is an enjoyable read for all ages and I look forward to the next book in the series. I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
Besides my family, my greatest love in life is books. Reading them, writing them, holding them, smelling them…well, you get the idea. I’ve always loved to read, and some of my earliest childhood memories are me, tucked away in my room, lost in a good book. I received a five dollar allowance each week, and I always — always — spent it on books. My love affair with writing started early, but it mostly involved journaling and writing silly poems. Several years ago, I didn’t have a book to read so I decided on a whim to write my own story, something I’d like to read. It turned out to be harder than I thought, but from that point on I was hooked. My first and second books were released by Sarah Book Publishing: This Is Not About Love and Grayson’s Ridge. I’m a total genre-hopper. Basically, I like to write what I like to read: a little bit of everything! I reside in Floyds Knobs, Indiana with my husband, three children, and massive collection of books. I have a degree in psychology and worked as a counselor.
Dashing eventer Rory is ready to button up his breeches and settle down. His gorgeous wife, Lottie, wants a bank balance in the black so she can protect the beautiful family estate for future generations.
But with the wedding business at Tipping House going up in flames, and rumours that it was arson not accident, Lottie begins to wonder who she can trust with her future.
Tranquil Tippermere is under siege as movies moguls and insurance investigators invade the countryside, and as events gather pace rescue plans start to look too good to be true, and intentions may not be as honourable as they seem.
As a moody, but definitely marvellous, polo player enters the fray and squares up to the eventing hero of Tippermere, does Lottie stand to lose her husband as well as her home?
‘Country Rivals’ is characterised by its believable English country setting and complex characters. The lovable and often naughty animals regularly upstage their human counterparts and make this series a delight. The residents of Tippermere are larger than life but they are all grounded, with recognisable human flaws and frailty that make them easy to empathise with and hard to forget.
I have read the other books in the series and so most of the characters in ‘Country Rivals’ are old friends. If you are new to Tippermere, this story is complete and supported by sufficient back story to make it a standalone read but why miss out on the other books?
Lovable Lottie and sexy Rory take centre stage but it is Lady Elizabeth’s redoubtable influence that makes the plot unpredictable and interesting. Sam, the quintessential footballer’s wife provides the glamour and glitz and new characters add to the mayhem, misunderstanding and mystery that make this fast paced story an engaging read.
‘Country rivals’ is full of humour, passion and poignancy, with a lovely hopeful ending.
I received a copy of this book from Harper Impulse via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Zara was born in a small village in Staffordshire, educated in Cheshire, and went on to study at Liverpool University. After a successful career as an IT consultant, she decided to follow her heart and ran a dog grooming business for several years before becoming a full-time writer.
Her fun, romantic, romps draw on her experiences of village life, and her various love affairs with dogs, cats and horses. These days if she’s not at her laptop, you can usually find her trudging across fields on foot, or sat on the back of a horse.
Zara divides her time between a country cottage in Cheshire and an apartment in Barcelona. Her most recent novels include the popular Stable Mates, Country Affairs and Country Rivals.
Easier said than done after a rare virus robs her of both parents. Left alone and confused, the mourning nineteen-year-old flees to her three best friends, who receive her with open arms.
Her parents give her more than an inheritance—they give her a second chance at life…
When Gillian is left with some properties in her parents’ will, she assigns them to a real estate agent to manage. Joel Matthews takes the job, but he quickly becomes more than a business associate. After a string of fortunate coincidences, Gillian and Joel spend a passionate night together—after which Joel all but vanishes from her life.
But they still have unfinished business, and Gillian won’t allow him to slip away—especially with her heart.
Life is a roller coaster of tragedy and joy…
Gillian reels him in, and soon the two are married. Gillian’s heart expands even more when they receive the news of their first pregnancy. But after the baby is born, things aren’t the same. Joel becomes distant…resentful. And then the abuse begins. Darkness consumes their marriage—only to get worse.
While Gillian tries to hold her family together, it seems Joel is doing everything to tear them apart. But just one slip of his temper makes all the difference, because this time, there’s no turning back.
Maybe being abused can be endured, as long as Nobody Knows…until someone ends up dead.
This story grabs you from the first line. The acceptance, fear and guilt Gillian feels is evident as soon as we meet her and as her story unfolds, the reasons why are hauntingly clear. This isn’t an easy subject to write about or read but the author creates a poignant, thought provoking story without sensationalism. The writing is sensitive and the characters realistic and easy to relate to. Joel is all surface glamour and no depth but it’s easy to see how he would attract Gillian, young and newly bereaved. Gillian is at an all time low when she meets Joel and never really manages to achieve her full potential. A victim of abuse she displays classic denial but although some of her actions are hard to support they are understandable. Joel displays lack of insight and is completely self-centred. He is easy to hate. The other women in Gillian’s life are vibrant and care about her even when she lies to them and pushes them out of her life. The see-sawing of Gillian’s relationship with her friends illustrates their powerlessness perfectly. If she hides the truth from them, they can’t help. Joel’s mother is the most conflicted of the characters, Gillian sees her as a saviour but is Adele more motivated out of guilt than compassion? The menace and suspense in this story is excellent and even though domestic abuse is not an easy story to write, this book succeeds right up to the riveting end. I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
Rebecca, one of four kids to her parents who are both primary school teachers, was born in Wollongong on the south coast of Australia before moving to the country with her family. After a few years of embracing all that country life had to offer, the family relocated to Port Macquarie with its white sand beaches. After a brief period enjoying the sun and the surf they finally settled in Canberra where Rebecca still lives today. But all through her childhood a notepad and a book where never far away. These days Rebecca is an avid reader, and when she isn’t buried in a book or cheering on her beloved football team she’s spending time with her husband Robert and their overly spoilt dog Levi.
Life is sweet in The Sanctuary—until Lillian Harris is thrown the curveball of her life.
Lillian is perfectly happy cocooned within the lofty perimeter fence of The Sanctuary. Her Sanctuary—a vast oasis for rescued lions, tigers, and elephants. The animals are her world. So when Lillian’s dad tells her a nineteen-year-old criminal who’s fresh out of prison is coming to The Sanctuary as part of a rehabilitation program, Lillian is more than a little apprehensive. She interacts with animals more than humans—and definitely not criminals.
Justice Armstrong is more arrogant than a Silverback, but something darker lurks behind his eyes…
It isn’t until Justice swaggers toward her from the parole officer’s car—pierced, confident, and more than a little hot—Lillian knows she has her work cut out for her. His stare has the power to rob her of all thoughts. His words, although crude and nefarious, bring a part of her to life she never knew existed. How is this criminal suddenly turning her world upside down?
He has the power to drag her to the dark side….
Pain is his drug of choice, a vice he can’t survive without. Then he meets Lillian Harris. Little miss hellcat. Fiery, strong, and all woman. She challenges him at every damn turn, and watching her tame those fierce big cats makes his need for her that much stronger. He wants to do things to her…wicked things. She makes him crave pain in a whole new way.
When a teen with a dark past bumps heads with a feisty rescue worker, will it be love over lust—or a matter of life and death?
Amanda Mackey was born in New Zealand and moved to Australia when she was 12 years old with her family, where she has lived ever since. She has loved books since an early age and is an avid reader. This has helped lay the foundation for her writing. She’s published 2 non-fiction books and has her a fiction novel titled, Instinctual out now.
Instinctual is a 2 book series. Book 2 will be out Sept. 30 2014.
Amanda hopes to make writing her full time career.