Hi everybody! Lou Sylvre here at Love Bytes for my monthly author-post spot, and grateful as always for the opportunity. It’s going to be a short (and sweet?) post this month, because if I get too complicated I’ll be a day late, and I’ve tried to turn over a new leaf in regard to posting here on time.
So for starters, guess what? I’ve just signed a contract with Dreamspinner for my music/holiday themed novella, Falling Snow on Snow. It’s slated for December/January, and I’ll admit I’m hoping for December. (Keep a couple of mental fingers crossed for me?) This story is different from my other Dreamspinner publications—it’s standalone, contemporary romance. There are complications and a pretty unlikeable secondary character, but not a single gun, stabbing, or kidnapping in the whole thing!
What was the hardest thing about the switch contemporary romance? Thickening the plot—or at least that’s what I expected would be the hard part. When I start a suspense tale, I have conflict and high stakes built in. Of course I do then have to make the romance end of such a story equally compelling, and I do have to build the tension so that, if I’ve done my job well, readers need to turn that page and find out what happens next. When I first set out to write this contemporary story, I thought it would be difficult to make things challenging for the characters to a degree that it would not only sustain but ratchet up the stakes and carry the plot through to the end.
Man, was I wrong!
What was really difficult was making the characters stick to the story in progress. They had such busy lives off the page! As I fell into my characters’ lives, I definitely found all the material I needed there to tell a story, or maybe I should say the story they needed told. I expected 12 to 15K words, a short story. I ended up in the range of twice that. So, despite the difference in genre, I found the key for writing it was the same as always—characters! Here’s some thoughts from writers (who aren’t me) about character/s in fiction.
And Noy Holland, about how a character comes to life:
Aldous Huxley had an opinion on how we relate to fictional characters in our lives:
And I have an opinion about that too, well expressed in this meme:
As you all know, however, I can’t take full credit for character shenanigans—or wonderfulness, or success. Once I build them, they tend to run with it.
No really. They do.
Allow me to introduce my main characters from Falling Snow on Snow with a couple snippets from the story. First Beck Justice, a street musician who plays at Pike Street Market (and a cat named Parcheesi).
Regardless of which holiday was front and center, Beck knew December had the blackest heart of any month. The days came cold and dreary more often than not, and shopping bags might be full of pretty things but he felt pretty sure they were empty of anything resembling humanity and compassion. He happened to know those smiling, gift-laden daddies and grandmothers easily passed right by broken children on the street without a second glance.
Beck Justice! You’re being negative again. Stop. You have a lot less to bitch about than you did last year, you know.
“Yes,” he agreed with himself, and told the supremely disinterested Parcheesi. “We have an apartment. Lucky, right?”
She mewed, and he took that as assent. After all, Parcheesi had been homeless, too.
And Oleg Abramov, a singer in a family early music (medieval/renaissance) ensemble.
The first man [Oleg had] picked up last night had only wanted to fuck in the car. The sex was hot and quick, as sex in semi-public places tended to be, but the encounter didn’t even rattle the empty spaces. The second of the night had gone a little better. The man—who said his name was Jim—took him home to a spacious apartment near Broadway and fucked him good for an hour then fell into a coma-like sleep. Oleg had stayed though he hadn’t slept much, fantasizing instead that this encounter wasn’t more of the usual, that the man who slept beside him hadn’t simply forgotten to kick him out the door before he fell asleep. But in the morning, Oleg realized—even before the man showed him the door—that he didn’t even like the guy, with all his cold, sharp-edged décor and heavy gold jewelry.
That, in fact, was the problem with the overnight kind of hook-up. If he let them—and he always did, they could seem to sate more than sex-drive. In truth it was no different than the car-fuck, except he had farther to fall back down when it was over. True to form, by the time Seattle’s rare December snow cooled the sex-memory off of him, Oleg was lonely again.
Most of the time, he didn’t like to think that’s what he was. He was a lucky guy, he knew that. He had a big, loving, accepting family, and all of them had more to be thankful for than many. They’d come from cold, hungry Russia in the 1990s, and unlike most refugees they had what were called “marketable skills” by the welfare people they’d had to depend on when they first arrived.
What the family had was music, and it had opened so many doors for them. Now they had made their name in early music circles, had regular bookings for concerts and special appearances as a group and individually, and they had a home. Warm, large but not so much so that it ever felt too spacious. Never empty. Air rich with the smells of stroganoff, borscht, shashlik, or honeycake. Ready laughter, flash-in-the-pan tempers, small favors asked or done. And behind it all, in the Abramov home, always the music: scales ad infinitum, students repeating sixteen measures over and over slow to fast and finally tumbling into the following passage. Sometimes, too, whole beautifully sculpted pieces, perilous to the listening—or performing—heart.
That’s all I have this month! I’d love to hear your thoughts, so please feel free to share. Oh, and if you’re looking for a contest, visit my multi-author blog site, here: Authors Speak. We’ve got a rafflecopter going on! Here’s the link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/4059d6247/?.
Check out some of the great posts while you’re visiting!
Thanks for reading—see you next month!