Friday, July 7, 2017

Friday Flashback! on a Great Old Book ~ Afton of Margate Castle (The Theyn Chronicles Book One)

I have to tell ya, there are some novelists who have jumped around from genre to genre in their story-telling, and that's just fine, but when an author like Angela Elwell Hunt writes an historical fiction piece, she's second to none. Don't get me wrong. She's a great writer of contemporary fiction too, but I was first captured by her historical fiction. It is gripping. Today I'm remembering The Theyn Chronicles series, and most of all, book one: Afton of Margate Castle.

As it says on the cover, it's "a novel of intrigue and romance in medieval England". Afton is a from a poor family, but she is taken by the earl's wife (who has mothering issues) to be raised as a companion to her daughter. Of course, being raised around the gentry and turning into a lovely and vivacious young lady, it isn't long before Afton falls in love with her childhood protector who is none other than Calhoun, the earl's very own son. This would be all well and good, except that Calhoun's mother reacts to this a little bit like the evil queen in Snow White. Oh, the fit of panic! So poor Afton is cast out of the castle, and in a way that is absolutely despicable. She's given in marriage to a brute of a man in return for his loyalty. Trust me, things are not good, and the result of this union can only stir up one thought for Afton -- revenge!

Afton of Margate Castle is a heart-wrenching romance, complete with knights and villains -- not to mention villeins -- love and treachery, and a big dose of chivalry. If you enjoy a big ol' novel full of this sort of medieval action and adventure to really sink your reader's teeth into, then give it an add on your Goodreads list. Angela has re-released the book, so you'll find it with this lovely new cover too:
Click on the cover to find purchase links on Angela Hunt's site.
When you've finished reading, you might want to follow up with books 2 and 3, The Troubadour's Quest and Ingram of the Irish.

Happy weekend reading!

Monday, July 3, 2017

A New Trick for Getting Into Your Character's Skin #WriterUnstuck

Do you ever have trouble getting at the heart and soul of one of your characters? You've tried journaling or free-writing from his or her perspective. You've answered all their questions -- what their deepest desire is, what dark thing happened in their past, what their greatest emotional need is, and so on. You've stepped into their skin in every way you can think of, yet, when writing their character, they still feel lacking in personality somehow.

Here's a little trick I stumbled upon that helped me tremendously with a recent character who, after trying all the usual devices, was still too stiff to be real. Maybe it'll help you. As well as answering the important questions and journaling from my character's perspective, I tried the same technique from the perspective of other characters involved with them. In other words, I wanted to know from another character in the book what his/her view of said character was. Wow! What a difference. Try it. The other character might be a parent, a sibling, a best friend or lover -- or it might even be your problem character's nemesis. Everyone will see them from some other aspect, and you'll be surprised by the things they tell you.

You might be surprised at how characters see one another.
They definitely won't all view the individual the same way.

Did you ever wonder how other people see you? If your mom, best friend, or coworker were to write about you and give free rein to say anything they wanted, what would they have to say? How would they describe you? What secret insights might they share? What memories and stories would they tell about you?

I found it amazing how doing this with my stiff character brought out the substance of her personality in ways I hadn't yet imagined. So try it. Hop into the head of any other surrounding character, and let them talk about the one you're having trouble with. Sit back and soak in their gossip. Let them introduce you to that character in a whole new light.

Write on!