Friday, May 25, 2018 | By: The Write Way Cafe
Your imagination is your preview of life’s coming attractions. 
– Albert Einstein
Thursday, May 24, 2018 | By: The Write Way Cafe

Take Your Characters Deep... by Jami Gray

The Write Way Café welcomes Jami Gray, who offers an interesting take on character development.

For all those who have interacted with small humans in the kinder-to-third grade arena, you might be familiar with Flat Stanley (also known in some cases as Flat Lizzy). For those who haven’t had the joy of meeting this illustrious character, a quick introduction.

Flat Stanley or Lizzy is a one-dimensional paper doll who is forced to accompany adults into a variety of situations—from board meetings (oh yeah, we’ve done that one) to crashing exotic vacations. Photographic proof is required upon Flat Stanley or Lizzy’s return home, where they are presented for inspection, accompanied by ew’s and ah’s of their many exciting adventures.

You may wonder why I mention these childhood world travelers. Well, because did anyone consider that maybe Stanley and Lizzy didn’t want to attend that board meeting? Maybe traversing the US Postal Service world in an envelope is not something to envy. Did anyone take into account what Stanley and Lizzy really wanted? Maybe Stanley prefers to nestle between the pages of a good story. Maybe Lizzy has no desire to visiting the ocean where the salt water plays havoc on her paper skin. I’m pretty sure no one bothered to ask these two globetrotters what exactly they wanted from their crafted life.

Which brings me to my own creatures of craft—characters.

Do you know what your characters want? What or who they desire? What drives them? Or, are you trying to force them into what you, the almighty story crafter, wants because that is what the story needs?

Characters are virtual people, and people are never, ever one-dimensional. They are more like the twenty-sided die you use for various gaming adventures.

As a writer who happens to be an avid reader, I enjoy complex and well-developed characters. When I read some of my favorite authors, such as Ilona Andrews, Nalini Singh, Seanan McGuire, and Jennifer Estep, just to name a few, there is a nascent bit of the green-eyed monster for their twenty-sided character development. Each of their characters, whether primary or secondary, are uniquely individual and if we were lucky enough to run into them in the “real world” we’d recognize them in a heartbeat.

When I create characters, I strive to accomplish the same thing. Now, there are tons of character worksheets, psychological profiles, and various other tools you can use to give your character life, but I thought I’d share with you how my journey to discovering character depth started. Hang tight to your GPS, because the wandering path of my mind on this particular question tends not to follow any known map.

Starting point:  Holy crap! I want to be  (Insert preferred author name here) when I grow up. Maybe if I ask, they’ll adopt me, and then because I’m theirs, their creative magic will spill over to me. Like a magical writing potion.

Jumps to:  How much would such a potion cost? What if it requires a sacrifice of some sort? Maybe I’d have to give up chocolate or coffee or (gasp!) both. *shudders*

Sharp left to: Maybe my character should lose someone, it would explain why their personal line of ethics keeps moving. Hmmm, what if their special someone or someones were lost in a spectacularly memorable way? *ponders options*

Quick U-turn to: Oh, wait, what kind of emotional trauma can I inflict on my characters to dress them in such gorgeously realistic personality garments?

Break the speed limit, cover a few miles: How much therapy would most UF characters have to undergo before they were considered "normal"?

Scenic Outlook stop: Remember that workshop? You know the one where they talked about character arcs?  Okay, so we need...history, motivators, personality quirks, strengths, weaknesses, lions, tigers and bears...oh my!

Back on highway: Character depth equals making your characters into real people, which is far from easy because every individual personality is made up of a myriad of decisions, behaviors, attitudes, etc.  Their history shapes their decision-making process, their biases shape the way they approach a given situation, and their actions determine the reactions of those around them. So I guess that means to give your characters depth, you have to...

Big Exit Sign Ahead:  Give them a foundation from which they get a chance to grow into a person through your story.

My Knight in Slightly Muddy Armor claims I am directly challenged. After plotting out this little tangent, I think I have to agree.  However, I'm really curious, what would you use to create depth for your characters?

Jami Gray is the coffee addicted, music junkie, Queen Nerd of her personal Geek Squad, Alpha Mom of the Fur Minxes, and award-winning author of the Urban Fantasy series, The Kyn Kronicles, the Paranormal Romantic Suspense series, PSY-IV Teams, and her latest Romantic Suspense series, Fate’s Vultures. She writes to soothe the voices in her head.

If you want to hunt her down, she can be found lurking around the following cyber locations:

Website       Facebook       Twitter
Goodreads       Google+       Amazon Author Page

Tuesday, May 22, 2018 | By: The Write Way Cafe

Tuesday Special: Consider the Sunflowers with Elma Schemenauer

Elma Schemenauer

by Elma SchemenauerInspired by a prairie Mennonite heritage

As a child I loved to hear coyotes howl on our family farm about halfway between Saskatoon and Regina, Saskatchewan. I enjoyed riding on the hay rack, taming half-wild cats in the barn, and attending our country Mennonite Church in a white dress made from my mother's wedding dress.

I especially enjoyed my Mennonite relatives' stories about the Old Country (Russia), their voyage across the ocean, and their new life in Canada.

My relatives' stories and my own experiences inspired my 1940s-era novel CONSIDER THE SUNFLOWERS. Its main characters, Tina and Frank, enter into a marriage that's troubled from the beginning. She's a transplanted Vancouverite who feels lonely with nothing but open pastures and fields around her. A few trees around the house would help. But Frank doesn't want trees. They'd make him feel trapped. He needs to be able to see the whole sky, uncluttered.

That's just one example of what Tina and Frank argue about. She wants to attend the local Mennonite Church and socialize with Mennonites. He shuns Mennonites because some of them scorn his mixed parentage, which is Russian Mennonite and Gypsy. He prefers to socialize with his Scandinavian and British friends, who "don't carry all that Russian baggage."

Tina and Frank's relationship deteriorates as the story progresses. He resents the fact that she neglects her daily chores to paint pictures. She begrudges the time he spends with his Norwegian bachelor buddies. When she tries to convert him to her Christian faith, he says she should accept him as he is, not try to change him.

The birth of Tina and Frank's son draws them closer together. Then the infant's death drives them apart again. Frank, mourning his lost son and discouraged about his marriage, escapes to work in a copper mine in Montana. In his absence Tina rediscovers feelings for a former Vancouver boyfriend. Is there any hope for Tina and Frank's marriage? You'll need to read CONSIDER THE SUNFLOWERS to find out!

It's 299 pages, $19.95 paperback, publisher Borealis Press of Ottawa, ISBN 978-0-88887-575-4. Ask for it in a bookstore or library. Or order online from Amazon, or Chapters Indigo, or Borealis Press,

About Elma:  Springtime on the prairie was the topic of one of the first pieces of writing Elma (Martens) Schemenauer did as a child. Writing has been her passion ever since. She's the author of 77 books including YESTERCANADA: HISTORICAL TALES OF MYSTERY AND ADVENTURE and the 1940s-era Mennonite novel CONSIDER THE SUNFLOWERS. Elma was born in Saskatchewan. She taught there and in Montana and Nova Scotia. Then she spent many years working as an author and editor in Toronto. She now lives with her husband on a sagebrush-dot\ted hillside in Kamloops, British Columbia.

Website      Facebook       Twitter       Blog

Amazon      Goodreads (YesterCanada)      Goodreads (Consider the Sunflowers)

AuthorsDen      Library Thing

Friday, May 18, 2018 | By: The Write Way Cafe
The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn. 
– Ralph Waldo Emerson
Thursday, May 17, 2018 | By: The Write Way Cafe

Getting to Know HL Carpenter

The Write Way Café welcomes HL Carpenter, a mother-daughter duo sharing the joys of writing together. 

Hello, HiDee! Many thanks to you and Lynn for sharing your blog space with us! We're happy to be here.

When did you first have the thought you'd like to write a book?
     As far as deciding to write a book, the process was more a gradual development than a single defining moment. We liken the evolution to a discussion we had with a friend who decided to sell real estate. She had thought, she said, that the occupation was an easy way to make a living and well suited to her personality. Then she discovered the work was hard, much harder than she'd believed. (Don't you hate when that happens?) But she was right that selling real estate was well suited to her personality, so she persevered and eventually built a healthy book of business. For us, the road to writing fiction novels followed a similar route.

What was your path to getting The Ghost in The Gardens written and published? What type of research did you do?
     We researched rare plants, botanical gardens, botany, horticulture, gardening, poison, and the language of flowers, and we enjoyed every minute that we spent learning obscure facts and reams of trivia that never showed up in the final draft, and that we'll likely never need to know.
     Despite the fun of research, writing The Ghost in The Gardens was less a walk in the park than a trek along a mountain-goat-narrow, winding, treacherous path between snow and ice-capped mountains in the middle of a blizzard. Then again, so is every book when we are knee-deep in the work.

Where did the idea for The Ghost in The Gardens come from?
     From an article about a small botanical garden and a woman who spent her entire working career cataloging the plants in that single garden. Her dedication was inspiring, and we were awed by the variety of plant life in such a small area and how difficult finding a particular plant is.

Why did you pick botanical gardens as the setting for The Ghost in The Gardens?
     We are nature lovers, so setting The Ghost in The Gardens outdoors was a natural expression of the environment we're partial to. In addition to observing the wildlife in Carpenter Country, where we live and work, we also like to visit botanical gardens and parks and learn about plants and flowers.

Are your main characters completely imaginary or do they have some basis in real people? Do they reflect aspects of yourself?

     While writing, we don’t intentionally mimic our behavior or that of family and friends. Nonetheless, because we try to make our characters believable and relatable, to some extent our book-people contain bits of us and also some aspects of the people we know or have known. Chrys, the hero of The Ghost in The Gardens, might share a few traits with us…but we're not telling which ones!

Did you face any blocks while writing The Ghost in The Gardens, and if so, how did you handle them? If not, what's your secret?
     Now that the work is done, we don't recall any special bumps in that trek along the mountain-goat-narrow, winding, treacherous path between snow and ice-capped mountains in the middle of a blizzard. :)
     That’s the beauty of writing together. If one of us has a block or can’t figure out what a character should do next, she yells, “Help!” and the person without the block continues the story. When she’s finished adding her part, the character is heading off in a new direction and the block is gone.

What surprises have you encountered while writing The Ghost in The Gardens and after?
     We're always surprised by how much we wish we could continue the story, and by the multitude of other story ideas that each story generates. For example, we wrote a short story that's included as a bonus at the end of The Ghost in The Gardens. The story is called The Adventures of Flower Girl and was inspired by a book written by one of the characters in The Ghost in The Gardens. Such fun!

What did you learn? For instance, what did you learn about yourself, your process, the writing world; about ghosts, botanical gardens, and rare orchids?
     We re-learned a lesson we've learned with prior books, and that is how little is actually known about the world in which we live. The amount of knowledge accumulated over human existence is amazing. The amount of knowledge as yet undiscovered is astounding. Whole worlds of which we are unaware surround us.

Tell us about your writing space and how or why it works for you.
     Our writing studios are light and airy. Our desks face windows, so when we glance up from our computers we have a view of Carpenter Country, a magical place that, like our stories, is unreal but not untrue.
     At this time of year, the view takes wing, as Carpenter Country is busy with birds. Bluebirds nest in a nearby birdhouse. Flocks of worm-hunting robins, a pair of grosbeaks headed to more northerly climes, gray catbirds, indigo buntings, cardinals, wrens, sparrows, doves, blue jays, crows, hawks, house finches, and mockingbirds visit our burbling fountain for a drink and a bath. The other day, a hen turkey strutted across the grass. All the color, singing, arguing, splashing, and flitting add joy to our work day.

What are some of your favorite books and why?
     Specific titles elude us, though a recent good read was The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn. In terms of genre, we read suspense, fantasy, mystery, and historical fiction. All we require is a great story set in an interesting location with amazing characters. That's not too much to ask, right? :)

What are you working on now?
     We are in a bit of a writing lull as we begin introducing The Ghost in The Gardens to the world.
     In terms of writing work-in-process, we're nearly done with the first draft of a themed collection of short stories and we're in the revision stage of a collection of contemporary satire. We have a futuristic novella ready for re-release, and a couple of completed cozies for adult readers that we’re thinking of publishing as a series, along with novellas featuring the same characters. Oh, and we have an idea for a non-fiction book for writers.

Would you like to try your hand at writing a different genre? Which one and why?
     We currently write in multiple fiction genres, including allegory, mystery, satire, and fantasy. We've also done nonfiction articles and newsletters. Noir fiction might be interesting, though all that darkness could be tough to write.

If you were not a writer, what would your dream job be?
     Queen of the world, complete with magic wand for bopping bad folks upside the head.

What aspect of writing gives you the most trouble?
     Letting go. Every story has a time when The End truly means The End. And yet…well, we could make this one improvement. And wouldn't this word sound better than the word we used? And did we wrap up ALL the loose ends? Wait! Did we forget the hero was wearing glasses? Perhaps we should add a comma to this sentence…

Who is your favorite hero/heroine?
     If you're asking about fictional folk, in our work or that of other authors, we don't have a specific individual. We do prefer (and prefer to write about) strong, practical, intelligent heroes who tackle whatever is thrown at them with grace and wit.

Thanks again for the opportunity! We've enjoyed spending time with you in The Write Way Café!

Coming June 17, 2018 - The Ghost in the Gardens

Until the first spooky visit, ten year old Chrysantha Howe doesn't think about ghosts. She thinks about plants.

All.   The.   Time.

She has her future planned out, and that future includes plants. Chrys is going to be a plant scientist like her uncle and her favorite teacher, and she's determined to find the very rare Coralroot orchid.

The ghost is not in the plan.

But when her teacher disappears and the police suspect her uncle was involved, Chrys has to figure out what the ghost is trying to tell her—before it's too late.
Pre-order links:

Amazon     Mirror World (ebook)    Mirror World (paperback print)

Mother/daughter author duo HL Carpenter write family-friendly fiction from their studios in Carpenter Country, a magical place that, like their stories, is unreal but not untrue. When they’re not writing, they enjoy exploring the Land of What-If and practicing the fine art of Curiosity. Visit to enjoy gift reads and excerpts and to find out what’s happening in Carpenter Country.

Stay connected on Pinterest, Linkedin, Google+, Twitter and their Amazon Author Page.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018 | By: Lynn

Read a Book. Write a Review. Support Authors. @lynncrandallwriter

You’ve just finished reading a book that grabbed your attention and took you somewhere, in some time, through the experiences of the characters to a satisfying end. You text your reader friends, sisters, brothers, and cousins, telling them what a great book you just finished reading. Stop right there. Before you search for another book by that author or pick up a book from your book pile, post a brief review.

Reviews make a difference in an author’s life. If a reader writes a complimentary review, the author’s day gets better. After all, writers write for readers. When they’ve given a reader a good experience, they love knowing about it. They love their characters, and if a reader relates to them, a writer feels fulfilled. When you write and post a review for any book, you have done something meaningful, and that’s a very good thing to put out in the world.

Let’s say that book you read wasn’t so great for you, and you want to give other readers a head’s up. Well, remember that everyone has different tastes in books. I say remember that because you may have an impulse to trash it online, but you don’t have to. Authors acquire thick skins, and though uncomplimentary reviews are less exciting, we all respect readers differing tastes. We don’t expect everyone to love all our stories. But an uncomplimentary review written with grace and respect is much appreciated. There are ways to review a book that doesn’t make your top-ten list without using degrading words. I know. I’m an author but I also read. I post reviews because I know how much they mean to authors. If in my opinion the book is not well written, I’m inclined not to write a review. I personally don’t need to tell the world about what I feel is a 1-star book. I understand other readers feel differently. I just suggest you remember someone worked hard on the book.

I also understand some people are uncomfortable writing anything. Let me make some suggestions for writing a review to take some of the scary out of it.

1. Try to start with a title to your review. That line can help direct your thoughts. Ex. Hang On for a Wild Ride. This tells readers you probably liked the book. Then writing the text of the review, simply tell readers why you liked it, what it did to make it worth reading. Ex. In this fast-paced paranormal romance, Lynn Crandall grabbed my attention from the beginning and kept me on the edge of my chair with hair-raising and heartbreaking action. The characters had depth, and the ending didn’t disappoint.

Or write something very short. Title: Epic Series. Text: Man I loved this book.

2. Remember, book reviews are not book reports. If you want to add details about the story line and the characters, feel free, but you don’t have to. And try not to spoil the ending for those who haven’t read the book.

3. Also remember that the author wrote the book they wanted to write. The question is not did he or she write the book you wanted to read. So ask yourself, did the author write a good book and did it accomplish its story goals? Period. If the answer is yes, what about it worked for you and what didn’t?

4. Another thing to be aware of is that a review is not a reader’s opportunity to show off his or her genius. I’m not meaning to come across cryptic. But, this kind of approach happens all the time and I feel it’s misguided. The review should be about the book, not how superior you are for seeing what is so wrong with it. Use your brilliance to write your own stories, not announce to the world your awesomeness.

If and when you take a few moments in your busy life to write and post a book review, I thank you from all of my heart. I understand it takes a bit of nerve to have an opinion and share it with world. For the work you pan or praise, it can mean the difference between a well-deserved author getting attention for a job well done, or remaining in obscurity.

Review by LAS Reviews for Unstoppable, Book 5 in my Fierce Hearts series: Author Lynn Crandall has a wonderful way with words and description. She makes the scenes and characters come to life in her books, and this one was no exception. Find on Amazon and other retailers.

Friday, May 11, 2018 | By: The Write Way Cafe
Reflect upon your present blessings – of which every man has many – not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.
 – Charles Dickens