Tag Archives: stephanie plum

We Are Family

Happy Friday everyone!! Casey here.

One of the fun things about being a writer is breathing life into your characters. Imagining a back story, figuring out their goals, their appearance, and so much more. But my all time favorite act is creating the hero and heroine’s family and friends.

Often times, I don’t have to think too hard. They present themselves rather quickly and can be scene-stealers if I let them. Early on, I usually know if the heroine has siblings and whether they get along. Or maybe her parents were overbearing and smothering. Perhaps, they weren’t there at all and she’s been raised by someone else. Same goes with friends, colleagues and pets. My stories have them all!

Coming soon to a story near you!

When I think of my favorite books and television shows, I can’t think of a single one where the main characters don’t have family or friends in their lives. Often times, their loved ones can push their buttons like no one else. And on the flip side, no one understands them better than anyone else.

Imagine how dull and boring Little Women would have been if Jo didn’t have her sisters. Or how lifeless Stephanie Plum’s adventures would be without Lula or Grandma Mazur. Even Ebenezer Scrooge, super curmudgeon, has his faithful nephew Fred to anchor him to his past through his beloved sister Belle.

On the other hand, the lack of a solid support system is just as telling and can define the character’s actions and reactions. There are a lot of orphans in books – Oliver Twist, Cinderella, Harry Potter, James Bond, Heidi, Clark Kent, Jane Eyre, and Frodo Baggins – to name only a small fraction!

Granted all of the characters I mentioned rose above their orphanhood and went on to perform good and heroic deeds. But none of them did it alone (thank you Ron Weasly and Hermione Granger).

Gather round family and friends!

And that brings me back to family and friends (aka secondary characters). For me, secondary characters are just as important. Like in real life, we would all be lonely if we had no friends or family. We are social beings by nature. Even if your character is mostly a loner, there is usually someone (either human or animal) in his or her life.

If you need inspiration, <ahem>, borrow bits and pieces of personality from your family and friends. Now that we’re in the full swing of the holiday season, there are more people than ever around. If you don’t mind the crowds, people watch!

Life is boring without friends. . . and wine!

So remember, when you’re creating your world, populate it with more than just the hero and heroine. Otherwise, all you’ll have is an empty and lifeless world.

Who are your favorite supporting characters? And without naming names, have you ever “borrowed” traits from friends and family?

Laughter: The Third Greatest Gift

Happy Friday everyone! Casey here.

Humor, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.

Some of us enjoy our humor dry and witty. While others prefer slapstick, raunchy or down-right rude. Or maybe your mood dictates what you think is funny.

I think part of the reason I fell in love with urban fantasy is the genre embraces snark in a serious way. While some level of “funny” isn’t required in the books I enjoy, I always love it when an author gets me.

You know, that moment, when the laugh comes out of the blue. I don’t how other authors do it, but when I’m writing, humor sneaks up on me and comes from the characters (not me!!). And often times, I don’t realize I’ve written something “funny” until someone else points it out to me.

And what you find funny, someone else may not. Like wine, there are different vintages of funny. Personally, I fall into the witty, sarcastic camp. The snarkier the better. I enjoy authors like Bill Bryson (Tales of the Thunderbolt Kid: one boy, one sleeping uncle, a magnifying glass and mysterious burn spots). The book is a non-fiction memoir of his childhood and it’s hilarious.

My favorite urban fantasy authors are: Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden, Simon Green (Eddie Drood or Nightside books) and you can never go wrong with Christopher Moore (A Dirty Job - love those sewer harpies!), Terry Pratchett (The Hogfather- the wackiest Christmas story ever) or A Lee Martinez (Gil’s All Fright Diner - who doesn’t love a roadside diner that’s constantly attacked by the undead?).

If UF isn’t your thing, check out Kristan Higgins (the shovel scene in Too Good To Be True still gives me the giggles), Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum Books or our soon to be published Scribe – Jamie Pope (aka Sugar Jamison).

How do these writers do it? Well, I can’t tell you how to be funny and I don’t know the magical spring where their talent comes from, but I can suggest some logical places to sprinkle humor into a story.

Narration -this kind of humor is often found in first person books, think Bridget Jones’ Diary or see the aforementioned urban fantasy authors or Ms. Kristan Higgins! Just having a window into the character’s thoughts can be funny. What they think about other characters – the annoying neighbor, the crazy aunt with lipstick on her teeth or how the character views herself –  are all areas to slip in the funny.

Situational – humor can be injected by using the circumstances in which characters find themselves. Think Stephanie Plum and all her captures gone wrong. Another popular choice is The Date From Hell, The Family Event from Hell (wedding, funeral, graduation) or the plan that goes horribly awry.

Banter – This is my personal favorite. Here, the heroine/hero engage in witty exhanges with other characters.I jones on characters verbally sparring in humorous ways. For example – The Princess Bride by William Goldman or A Dirty Job by Christopher Moore.

Note: these can be mixed and matched as needed.

One thing to keep in mind – forced humor is not funny. Readers can smell phony attempts from a mile it away. Don’t be lame! And, remember, the normal rules of storytelling apply – don’t add humor for the sake of it. If it doesn’t advance the plot or grow your character – axe it!

In case you’re wondering about the title of this blog post – check out The Muppets (2011 version) and enlightenment will find you!

What kind of humor do you enjoy? Favorite funny writer? Have a technique or advice to share?

I Had a Dream…

Hidey-ho, Scriblers, J here.  Saturday again already – can you believe it?  First, I’d like to mention that February is Black History month – click here for some cool information.  And since my post today is about dreams, the title seemed doubly fitting.

Do you dream?  Lots of people I talk to don’t.  Or at least they never remember their dreams…ever.  Some folks tell me that they can occasionally recall a wisp of something, a hint of a thought, sheer like gossamer and as intangible as a breeze.  Others tell me they dream in black and white, or something akin to still photos.

Not me, dude.  I dream in a high action, Technicolor bonanza, complete with characters, plot, costume and car chases.  In fact, I often wake up exhausted from these antics, as I did this morning.

Let me tell you what woke me this morning.  After a high speed car chase where I was a passenger in a black 1970’s sports car doing upwards of 200 miles per hour, trying to catch up to a rogue cop-robot (thank God the road was perfectly straight with no other traffic), where the driver was a handsome man working dangerously to clear his name (he looked suspiciously like Jason O’Mara, the hero in One for the Money, which I saw earlier this week – fun movie!), we took it to the regular high way, weaving in and out of traffic, now chasing two of the out of control cop-robots. 

These cop-robots looked a bit like the robots in the movie iRobot, but bulkier especially around the shoulders.  They sped along, hunched over on all fours in a fast rollerblading, side to side motion.  I think one of the Autobots in the Transformer movies moves like that.  Well, the cop-robots were the bad guys and we were trying to knock them into each other to kill them off, while not endangering society in any way, but we weren’t successful.  And the dream changed.

This happens often.  One minute I’ll be somewhere doing one thing and the next I’ll be in a new location – but it seems to make sense at the time.  It’s only later when I’m trying to explain this adventure to someone (poor hubby!) that I realize how jumpy things are.  Well anyway, the hero (the driver – he didn’t have a name) had been captured and we were trying to rescue him.  Now I was his teenaged son.  We (the resistance force – a ragtag army no better prepared than the farmers with pitchforks who beat the world’s best army in 1783) were lined up in a big “T” junction corridor in some kind of industrial building…ready to rescue our handsome hero (golly, he needs a name!) when some of our forces carefully took several steps, revealing guns pointed at us.  We had been betrayed. 

Sadly, the guy standing next me was shot in the butt and the knee.  They thought he was the hero’s son, not me.  I begged him to remain quiet.  Apparently, I’m quite the coward.  But in the end we escaped to the parking garage.  I carried the shot guy most of the way.  Unfortunately it was very dark and we couldn’t see.  I was trying to tear a sheet with my teeth, the way they always do in the movies – it was really hard!  Just as I had my bandage ready to go, while reveling in our escape, a barge moved into the garage along a canal that I hadn’t previously noticed.  A voice came through a speaker, garbled with static, but still creepy.  “Goodbye,” it said.

The barge exploded in a tinkling of broken glass.  I could feel the heat of the fire creeping along the cold cement floor, heating it up beyond what a human could stand.  The orangey glow of the flames licked ever closer.  I could hear the panic behind me – there was no way out.  We would all burn – a terrible death.  Quick when compared to something like cancer, but agonizing anyway.  I watched and listened as the flames crept ever closer…

And my eyes snapped open.  My 20/300 uncorrected vision noted a strange reddish glow on the wall of my bedroom, but the comforting tangle of bodies (husband and dog – get your head out of the gutter!) told me that everything was just as it ought to be.  I tried to go back to sleep – it was 4:45 am, but every time, I fell back into the same place – desperately trying to find an escape and rescue us all. 

So, I’m exhausted.  It’s 8:43 am on Friday, I’ve got a full day ahead of me, with no time to nap. Oh well, at least I got a blog post out of it, right?  And let’s be real, I’ll use it in some story somewhere.  Maybe I should go back to keeping a dream journal so I don’t forget these adventures.

I recently read about a nifty new invention.  Time magazine noted that in 2011 some doctor created a machine that can lift images out of the brain and project them onto a TV screen.  I’d love to have one of those to suction-cup to my head at night and record my dreams like a DVR.  Then I’d just have to write them down…hubby might not find it all that sexy, though.

Today’s secret: Writing inspiration is everywhere – even in your head whilst sleeping.  Take advantage.

Today’s question: Is it just us writers who dream like this?  Maybe that’s why we are writers…What are your dreams like?