Tink...tink...tink...anyone out there? Hi! I'm Barbara Donlon Bradley - Author - editor and slightly crazy - ask anyone in my family. I hope to use this blog to talk about writing, editing and whatever pops in my head. Hope you enjoy.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Writing Down the Bones: Research can be a Story Killer

Research is a very important part of the writing process. From writing fantasy to historicals you need to do your research. You have to decide what your world will be like in fantasies, science fiction and futuristic novels. Are you going to model it after a culture on Earth. Then you need to know how they live, what they wear, etc. In historicals you have to know what life was like, what was in the news, clothing, lifestyles anything and everything to make your story as real as possible.

But most of that research needs to stay in your head. As an editor I see all sorts of books, and had edited a few that have so much research information in them that it drags the story down. It's great that you do all that research but showing your reader how much research you had to do is not a good idea. Most don't need to know all the facts and how you got them as long as you got them right.

So what is too much?

That can be as subjective as can be, but I always say use as little as possible. I had to do research for a Portrait in Time and Love on the Run. I studied the timeline, as much as I could find, types of houses used in Louisiana, the clothing of the period, what sort of crops grew in that area - everything. It's one of the reasons I picked rice as a crop instead of cotton. It was grown in LA back in the 1880's.

In Love on the Run I had to find out how the train system worked. Which trains went where. That took a lot of time but I didn't bore my reader with all the tidbits I learned. By the way - did you know that the movies got it wrong with the bright colored clothing on a train? Soot from the coal powering the train would ruin your clothing.

My SF/Futuristics are the same way. The research is world building, but if you base your race off of a culture from Earth, like using the Blackfoot or the Incas, you need to know about their way of life. What sort of ceremonies they do. It doesn't mean you'll use it but you should know it.

What does your world look like? Does it have purple skies? Why? Is the air thinner there? Why? Cooler? why? This is where your research comes in. And your hours of research might only be one line in your book.

Research is important but it needs to go into the same file as your character development. Something you pull out to make the scene more three dimensional but not as a tool to say "Hey, look how much I learned to write this book."

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Random Thoughts:To Be Nominated!

Love Romance Cafe has their annual Reader Choice Awards going on and I have been nominated in three categories. Holy Cow! I got this warm fuzzy feeling in my stomach when it happened. I feel like I've finally made it.

Writing is a lonely business and you don't always know how people feel about your work. With the Vespian Way series I have gotten wonderful reviews from review sites as well as from readers but they've only been on two of the six books in the series. Like every other author I worry that the series is dying, that my readers have become bored with my characters. But to be nominated...well, to me that shows that people love your stories as much as you do.

The three categories my story - Hesitant Desire - is up for is Best Couple, which I totally agree - I love them. Best Alpha Male - again totally agree - love me some Storm and Best Cover. I love that cover too.

It's nice to feel loved. To know that others feel the way I do about my characters really makes me feel good and spurs me on to write more.

Thanks for the boost of confidence everyone!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Writing Down the Bones: When the Characters Take Over

I love it when my characters take over. I feel it makes the story more three dimensional because I'm in their head and see their world the way they do, but sometimes those characters take off on you, sending your story in a direction  you hadn't planned. Sometimes that is a good thing and you end up with some wonderful twists. Other times they go way off course and you have to reign them back in.

So how do you fix it?

I know this is going to sound crazy but I sit my wayward characters down and have a 'talk' with them. In my first book A Portrait in Time - which is a time travel romance - the heroine's ancestors were part of the story and they tried hard to take over the book. Once I promised them their own book they calmed down and allowed me to finish the book the way I wanted.

In my new series - The Vespian Way - SF/Futuristic Erotic romance - Heather and Storm keep taking over. When I 'talked' to them about it they reminded me that the series is their story and I realized they were right so I had to learn how to balance their ongoing story with the newer characters I was introducing. It's been interesting and fun.

Sometimes you can 'talk' to them. They are your creation you do have final control and the characters only want to be sure their story will be told. If you hadn't thought about a second or a third book and you create really strong characters as secondary characters you might find they will try to take over, but you can ease the problem by plotting out the next book while you're working on your current WIP.

My characters are very real to me. When they push me I listen to see what they want. It might be a little crazy but it works for me and I've gotten some wonderful stories out of it.


Sunday, January 5, 2014

Shameless Promoting: What is going on in January! #rhacafe

Lots going on this month and trying to keep up is crazy.


1.) I am so exicted to say that it's that time of year again for the P&E Reders poll - I'm in two ca6tegories - I've never been this high on the tallies and would love your help - Just follow the link to vote
http://critters.org/predpoll/author.shtml
http://critters.org/predpoll/novelerot.shtml

2.) I'm proud to announce I am part of Red Hot Authors Cafe! Come join us on facebook! https://www.facebook.com/redhotauthorscafe

3.) I'm going to be at Savvy Authors on the 12th -  http://savvyauthors.com/blog/index.php/new-years-resolution-write-the-book-by-barbara-donlon-bradley/

4.) I am also going to be part of Melissa Snark's Snarkology: The Path to Publishing My blog date is Feb 1st but the blog is already done so I'm going to see if she want's to use it earlier. I'll update this with the proper link as well.  http://melissasnark.blogspot.com/2014/02/paths-to-publishing-barbara-donlon.html

5.) On Jan 21st I'll be promoting on SSLY - I do have their webpage - here's the direct link - http://wp.me/p38Iym-1RF

6.) on Jan 22 I'll be chatting with LR Cafe from 7-10 pm. You'll have to join the yahoo group to chat with me but I promise we'll have fun.  http://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/LoveRomancesCafe/info