Friday, September 27, 2013

Toni's Big Six Journey #2

Hello there, Writers and Readers!
I’m back, and as promised, I will be writing about a writer’s relationship with characters.
Now this topic is one T.R. Graves and I have discussed a lot!  Although some writers will disagree, it is very, very important to connect with your characters on an almost supernatural level.
My characters and I are one, although they are far more experienced in life than I am.  Let me walk you through my basic day.  I wake up, usually from a dream either about friends of mine or my characters.  There have been some dreams about my characters that I have woken up from that made me pause and question who I am.  In some of my dreams, I become my characters.  And, I know that sounds like I should be locked up for psychiatric help, but that is the life of a writer (#itsawriterthing).  I go to work with my characters lingering throughout my thoughts.  Leave me alone for five minutes and I’ll be in my book.  I will be interacting with my character and them with me (or maybe not so much, we will get to this later).  I go through my day thinking up conversations, replaying scenes, really, really trying to get to know the subtleties that hide inside my characters.  Let me tell you, it works.  Give me a situation or opinion provoking something and I could tell you in detail how each of my characters would feel about it or do, better than I could say for me.  My day goes on, I write, and eventually I go to sleep thinking about my characters, playing out more scenes.  Side note: sometimes I am working on a different book and characters from one of them will be like, that right there sounds more like a _______ comment than _______.  They are always right (right here I almost wrote write.  I swear writing really is engrained in me.  I always want an opportunity to use the word or write the word ‘write’).
More than that though, I really love my characters.  They are a part of me.  I don’t know what I would do without them.  They are like Anne (my muse and BFF) I would be so, so very lost without them.  There are times where I don’t know how to react to a situation and I say to myself, “What would Jake, or character x do?”  Most of the time that works.

There are a lot of writers who are like me, even ones that write for screen.  March 2010 I met Lee Goldberg (Monk), Paul Wagner (Documentaries), and Hugh Wilson (Bay Watch) to name just a few writers.  They were on a panel talking about screen writing and characters and everything.  It was awesome.  Hugh Wilson was talking and said, “You write and a character says something and everything changes.  That is almost spiritual.”  This couldn’t be truer.  My characters have flipped my story inside out more than once.  Plus, I have to add this made me feel more normal!  Here is this widely known and hugely popular writer, who gets it, who has the spiritual connection with his characters.
Nola Sarina (Gilded Destiny, Jaded Touch, plus an upcoming co-author Wild Hyacinthe) agrees with my stance and like me lets her characters take over, “Sometimes, during revision, writing from scratch gets a sharper voice than re-wording what’s already there.  I like to step away from a story for a while and then let the character tell me the story again from his fresh, enlightened perspective – allowing the character to grow with my style.”
I talked with Nola extensively one day about this and wrote something to her, that I want to share on here (it is only slightly edited to make sense for the blog post): “I promise you, I have looked up from writing and looked to the left and said, ‘but this is my book.’  I hear laughter. And I just sit there in protest until I let Devon have his way. The book and characters take life...we are their way of becoming known, it’s not the other way around. We don't make them known, they makes us known. I think they are their own wonderful breed that we must take dictation from because I have fought him and it turned out horribly, and when I listen to him, it is flawless.”
There are many other writers out there that go through this, it is normal, don’t medicate!  There are some writers who don’t and that is okay, “to each his own”.  And then there are some writers who refuse to admit that they do this, because they are afraid of how they will be received.  To those writers, don’t worry, allow your characters to take charge and scream it from the mountain and we here will welcome you with open arms and similar war stories.  We love meeting our own people!

I know your book is your baby, but so are your characters.   And your characters are living the story so if they stop you or you get massively painful writer’s block, then your characters are trying to tell you something.  The book I am writing, (Devon’s book) at times I have fought with my characters or Devon and wanted something specific to happen or not happen because I am the writer and it is my $*&%$@&@* book!  I have felt my characters leave me, until I give in and let them write the book and write what happens to them (basically what I said to Nola in my quote earlier). They are ALWAYS right, always!  It is obnoxious.  Like sometimes to the point where I want to punch my characters, because it is my book and I should have control, but no, they took life and took over.  My book would be nothing or horrible if I didn’t listen to them.  After all they know themselves the best; we can pretend we know them as well and 100%, but we don’t.  We may never, and that is okay, really it is.  I don’t think we are ever really supposed to know our characters, because then writing wouldn’t be magical.  It would be boring and a task.  Eventually we will get to know them quite well and almost 100% but there will always be that magical percent that adds the beautiful mystique that hold us hostage as writers.  I mean, really think about it, do you really know yourself?  Do you really know anybody?  And I am not talking like knowing their favorite color or birthday or food.  I mean really knowing someone.  There are always buried deep secrets that we won’t admit to ourselves, let alone other people.  And if we do that, why do we demand we know our characters?  They deserve privacy too.

When you are writing and editing and thinking and plotting, take a step back.  Take a step back and put your character into a completely new situation.  You don’t have to physically write it, but really, really think into the story, make it as real as the story you are writing, tell people about it if you have to get opinions (this is what it takes to write a book).  Because based on your characters reactions to the new situation or terrible situation (let’s face it most of us are sadistic and torture our poor loves.  We need to though, if people wanted to read happy books about rainbows and butterflies, they’d be in the children’s section not YA and others) you will learn so much about them.  How they breathe, what position they sleep in, how they smell, their favorite shower gel, laundry detergent, cologne/perfume,  how they feel, how they feel things themselves.  How they feel—I can honestly describe my characters down to the touch, how their embraces feel, what their arm feels like when relaxed and touched or tensed and touched, what their hair feels like, the sound of their voice, the sound of their breathing awake versus sleeping, ugh I could go on and on and on.  These aren’t things that necessarily need to make it into the book, but they need to make it into our hearts and brains to make the story work.  Back to my point, throw them into an unscripted, unwritten plot and see how they react, because it will grow them and you and you will learn them even more, and that will make your story worth reading and re-reading and sharing.

My next post will talk about the importance of music while writing.
Peace, Love, and Inspiration
Keep writing and remember

Listening to: Shattered by David Hodges album: Trading Yesterday (More Than This)

Quote: "When I write, I go to live inside the book. By which I mean, mentally I can experience everything I’m writing about. I can see it, hear its sounds, feel its heat or rain. The characters become better known to me than the closest family or friends. This makes the writing-down part very simple most of the time. I only need to describe what’s already there in front of me. That said, it won’t be a surprise if I add that the imagined worlds quickly become entangled with the so-called reality of this one. Since I write almost every day, and I think (and dream) constantly about my work, it occurs to me I must spend more time in all these places than here." - Tanith Lee

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Indie Author Series: Pinterest (Getting It To Work For You)

The YA (and more) Author Club sponsors are talking about Pinterest and all of the wonderfully inspirational things that can be found on the site.  I've been using Pinterest long enough to attract great followers, and I now publicly stalk hundreds of people who post beautiful pictures, amazing scenes, fashionable designs, unusual architecture, ingenious products, mouth-watering foods, stunning people, and even interesting new reads.  It's like surfing a great magazine that's been specifically created for you because you have the ability to pick and choose who you want to follow.  Once you find a few people who PIN things that INTEREST you, others with similar tastes will soon follow.  Before long, you're in love with everything pinned because you've created a world where only your style is represented.

I'll be honest and say one of my favorite Pinners is , author of Tiger's Curse (The Tiger Saga #1).  I love her books and always feel like I'm getting a sneak peak into the scenes, jewelry, people, and locations she is going to be introducing in Tiger's Destiny (The Tiger Saga, #4) and Tiger's Dream (The Tiger Saga, #5).

Below, I've provided samples of my boards.  You can get to them by clicking on the picture.  Feel free to follow.  Like

Products I Love is reserved for great new products or ones I believe will be good for my characters to use.


Favorite Places & Spaces showcases specific places where I'd love to go or build worlds around.

Architecture details great architectural features that I would love for my characters to see or to have in my home one day. 

Books Worth Reading contains books I've read and loved or planned to read because the authors are so wonderful.

Clothes I Like shines the spotlight on clothes and jewelry I love and/or would like to see my characters wear. 

Food and Drinks provides a great central location where I can go to find the recipes that look great, seem easy enough to make, and (hopefully) will taste as good as they look.

Health and Beauty gives me the perfect location to store pictures of beautiful and interesting people who would make great future characters.   

For the Home is filled with beautiful, quaint, shabby, and sophisticated rooms that I'd love to plot and plan around one day.  

T. R. Graves, Author has a place for each and every one of my books (all designed by the wonderful Phatpuppy Art).  

Amazing Pictures is just that.  These pictures make you stop and think how wonderful the world we live in can be.   

My Style is a place for me to go when I want to visualize ensembles for the people being detailed within my stories.

Now, take a few minute to find out my fellow bloggers' opinions of Pinterest.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Release Announcement: Hidden Object - Enemies

I'd like to take a few minutes to let everyone know that Phatpuppy (Claudia McKinney, my book cover designer) and DifferenceGames LLC have released a hidden object game based on Enemies of the Cross (Warrior, #3). I'll be the first to say there's a lot more that goes into the creation of these games than I ever realized (much like writing a book... says the indie author). With my new appreciation, I'm encouraging everyone to go out and buy one of these games (if you have a Kindle/Nook) and see for yourself.

For the creation of the game, I did the easy stuff: found pictures that helped Claudia tell the Enemies of the Cross story and wrote a synopsis of each picture so that the game player would enjoy the interactive version of the Enemies of the Cross book.

Allison Strawn (my daughter) pitched in and read the book's synopsis and narrated the story all the way through the game. *Of course, this makes the game even more special to me. 

Claudia did the heavy lifting by taking the images I provided and working her magic until they were intriguing and filled with hidden objects. It took weeks for her to get this game up and running. I truly hope that it sells well enough for her hard work to pay off. For that to happen, she needs as many people as possible to buy a game and then to leave a glowing review. Let's see if we can make that happen.

Amazon link: Hidden Object - Enemies
Barnes and Noble Link: Hidden Object - Enemies

My Review: You don't have to take my word for this. My nine-year old son (fresh off his X-box) grabbed the Kindle from me and played this game on a car ride, at a restaurant, and on the ride home. While he played, he was oblivious to the rest of the world. He was absolutely fixated on finding the objects (that Claudia masterfully hides - some quick and easy... others not so much). I've paid way more than $0.99 on games that have only barely entertained him before they were tossed into a game sleeve never to be pulled out again. What I'm saying here is for the price and quality, you can't go wrong.

On a final note: If you enter to win the Left (Still Standing, #1) Kindle Fire Giveaway, you will also get one of each of Claudia's book apps to go along with it. Don't forget to enter!

Product Features
·         Follow "Enemies" as narrated by the Author's daughter!
·         15 Beautiful scenes by Phatpuppy
·         3 Modes of Play
·         3 Ways to find items
·         50% off launch sale!

Indie Author Series: Twitter (Keep It Simple OR Get As Many Followers As You Can)

This week the YA (and more) Author Club are talking about Twitter and the obsession with getting more and more followers.

In today's fast-paced world word of mouth is Twitter. If you want your message out there, tweet it. If you want people talking about it, you hope others re-tweet it. If you want it to go viral, you pray the re-tweets are re-re-tweeted and the re-re-tweets are re-re-re-tweeted (you know where I'm going with this). In order for that to happen, you need as many followers as possible, right?

Honestly, I'm not going to try to tell anyone anything about Twitter. I'm an infrequent user... one who lets the majority of her tweets post themselves when I publish my blogs. The remaining tweets I send are prompts provided to me when I find a review on Goodreads I like or a new book on Amazon or B&N that I want to share. I'm absolutely not one of those people who tweets every move I make or every thought I have, and that's mostly because my writing time is limited. The more I Facebook, Tweet, and blog, the less time I have to write the crazy stories that manifest themselves within my mind. I suspect my minimal use of Twitter will continue until my I'm able to write 24/7 (which may never happen). 

As such, I'm letting you know now that my tweets will continue to be sporadic but heartfelt, AND I will continue to follow back anyone and everyone who follows me.

On a final note, I've had a great first week release for Left (Still Standing, #1). Thanks for everyone who loved the book, who contacted me and told me their stories, who offered sincere shout outs for others to read it, and for everyone who downloaded and read it. The support has been amazing! 

For those who haven't already, don't forget to enter the Left (Still Standing, #1) Kindle Fire Giveaway. 

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Release Announcement: Left (Still Standing, #1) by T. R. Graves

Series: Still Standing
Genre: Contemporary New Adult 
Disclaimer: 18+ profanity/sexual situations/violence
Length: 315 pages
Regular Price: $3.99

A naive Baylee loves Colt, her boyfriend of four years, more than she ever thought possible. After a little snooping, she's convinced she's well on her way toward hearing an once-in-a-lifetime proposal and starring in the wedding-of-the-year event. Instead, she's blindsided by a very public breakup and the crushing news that Colt is marrying someone else... someone more befitting him and the role his father expects him to take in his law firm.

Baylee may have spent years resenting Ariana, her mother, and her suicide, an intolerable show of weakness in Baylee's opinion, but after Colt leaves her just short of the altar, Baylee sees the world through her mother's eyes. She sympathizes with Ariana's actions and realizes that some things—soul-deep aches—can irreparably damage you and make moving on nearly impossible.

At least that's how she feels until she meets Ryker. With his help, Baylee discovers there is life after Colt, and she prepares to move on by pulling herself up by the bootstraps, holding her head high, and standing on her own two feet. Unfortunately, a new jealous and hateful Colt has his own plans for her, and they are plans no one—especially Baylee—ever saw coming.

Pre-release purchase link: Smashwords

Amazon (eBook)
Barnes and Noble (eBook)
iTunes (eBook)
Create Space (paperback)

Left (Still Standing, #1) Kindle Fire Giveaway:

Goodreads 5 Book Paperback Giveaway:

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Left by T.R. Graves


by T.R. Graves

Giveaway ends October 01, 2013.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win