Friday, February 28, 2020

When Is It Time?


Chris Pepple    @ChrisPepple16

Award-winning author with six published books. She is also a freelance writer, manuscript consultant, and editor.



As a writer, I know that I’m not perfect. No one is. Unfortunately, very few of us can catch our own mistakes. After 20+ years as a writer and 10+ years as a freelance editor and manuscript consultant, you would think I wouldn’t need someone to look over my own manuscript. I do, though. I still make mistakes in grammar and even leave out words in a sentence at times. Computerized programs don’t always catch the types of mistakes I make. When I try to proofread my own work, I think I know what it says instead of seeing what I actually put down on paper. I always hope that others catch my mistakes before I go to press with an article, a poem, or a book.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

How I Create Characters from Real People



By Jill Eileen Smith, Author of Star of Persia


I have written in many genres over the past thirty years, though biblical fiction is the one that is currently published. With most other genres, a novelist creates characters from scratch. Sometimes we take ideas from people we know. Sometimes a character will introduce herself to us by simply telling us her story.

When I’m dealing with people in the Bible, however, I’m telling the stories of people who lived in history. Their stories were preserved for us in Scripture, and I do all that I can to stay true to what we know. For instance, the Bible gives us a lot of detail about King David’s life. Studying his life is fascinating and will take you all over the Bible and into many outside sources to get a feel for his time and the places he traveled. But Scripture gives us very little about the women in his life.

I might find that Michal was a princess, daughter of Israel’s first king. She had four brothers, two half brothers, and one sister, five nephews and a controlling uncle, but I can’t tell you exactly how she felt about them or what her life was like living with an erratic, jealous father.

Esther is famous in Jewish culture because of the Feast of Purim, but even as I read her book in Scripture, I still start with little information about who she was, how she felt, who she knew and what her culture looked like. That’s where research and imagination come in.

When writing about a real person like Michal or Esther, I get to know all of the people around them, usually the men who get more page time. Then I try to envision what they might have looked like and find a picture that I can visualize for inspiration. I try to put myself in their places. How did Michal feel when she finally got to marry David, only to have her father chase him far away and give her to another man? How did Esther feel to have her adoptive father try to protect her, only to be caught up in the king’s beauty contest and shut up in the palace, with no chance of escape, in spite of his efforts?

A writer needs to stay true to whatever facts she has when dealing with real people. But where history or Scripture are silent, she can put herself in their place and imagine what might have been. In the end, real people of the past or present are not so very different than we are. Hopes and dreams, fears and folly follow each one of us. It is up to the writer to bring those emotions to life for the reader while keeping what is true intact. That is always my aim, and if we stay true to the material and to ourselves, we may find it easier than we expected.
__________________________________________________________ 
Jill Eileen Smith is the bestselling and award-winning author of the biblical fiction series The Wives of King David, Wives of the Patriarchs, and Daughters of the Promised Land, as well as The Heart of a King and the nonfiction book When Life Doesn’t Match Your Dreams. Her research into the lives of biblical women has taken her from the Bible to Israel, and she particularly enjoys learning how women lived in Old Testament times. Jill lives with her family in southeast Michigan. Learn more at www.jilleileensmith.com

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

How an Ex-Mardi Gras Queen Wrote a Memoir



By Marilee Eaves


After filling dozens of notebooks with stories and memories, I enrolled in writing classes in New Orleans and later in Seattle where I lived for 13 years. By this time, I had amassed a good bit of material and welcomed instruction, hungry to organize material into a real story. Have a crisp opening sentence! Make your nuthatch clear! Be sure that each scene you create moves the story forward. And think like Anton Chekhov: “Don’t tell me the moon is shining: show me the glint of light on broken glass.”

Inspiration for my Memoir
My memoir was triggered by a grieving son’s response to a condolence letter I wrote about his mother. I described the ways I perceived and admired his mother, whom I knew from my grandparents’ poolside in Biloxi. Her son wrote back, praised my writing and encouraged me to continue writing about Biloxi summers where we had all spent time.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

The Fabulous Fifties




Betty Thomason Owens @batowen

Award-winning author of historical fiction, and fantasy-adventure.





I’ll never forget my older cousin’s poodle skirt. That light blue, flannel thing captured my attention from the onset. Watching her spin and flare the skirt made me want one, too. But by the time I was old enough to wear it, I wouldn’t be caught dead in it.

Looking back, I remember so many wonderful things about the fifties. I was born in the first third of that decade, so my memories are a bit low to the ground, seen through the eyes of a preschooler.

A few things stand out, like Uncle Odis’ brand new, bright red Thunderbird convertible. The wondrously cool air emitted from Aunt Jen’s miraculous window air conditioner. Girls in gathered skirts and saddle oxfords, Guys in white tee shirts and blue jeans, their hair greased back Presley-style.

That last one was totally my dad. Everyone said he resembled Elvis. He certainly had the accent, since he hailed from the same general region.

I Love Lucy and Ozzie and Harriet entertained us in the evenings and there was music everywhere. It seemed to me that people sang more. They sang as they worked. They weren’t closed off to the world, their ears plugged with air pods and earbuds.

Children played outside. I know, right? What a novel idea! Neighborhoods were teeming with life. We rode our bikes and trikes on the sidewalks and stayed outside until the streetlights came on. At Grandma’s, we sat on the front porch and listened to the grownups talk about the old days against a backdrop of a million stars while crickets and frogs trilled their night songs.


Personal memories played a large part in my decision to set the Kinsman Redeemer series in the fifties. What was it about that era? Why is that decade referred to as “the golden years”?

In the fifties, our country was recovering from the Great Depression of the thirties and the war years of the forties. You don’t bounce back quickly from traumas like those. Maybe it was euphoria over their improved situations that lent the glow to the decade. Maybe they were learning to relax after a couple of decades of constant worry. Hard to say.

Though much of the U.S. was experiencing a financial boom and modernizing at the speed of sound, a rural region like west Tennessee, the geographical setting of my series, seemed firmly stuck in the past. In fact, I used to believe we crossed some sort of invisible barrier that sent us back in time as we drove to Grandma’s house.

This also lent itself well to my story. Wait a moment, while I remove my rose-colored glasses. The golden years held their fair share of troubles, like the Cold War and racial unrest, especially in the south.

My main characters are living the good life in southern California when tragedy brings a sudden end to their charmed existence. Annabelle and her daughter-in-law endure something akin to culture shock when they leave their home in San Diego and travel to Tennessee.

I remember that feeling well. Like the one my characters moved into, Grandma’s house had no indoor plumbing, no heat, and bare light bulbs hanging from the ceiling. It was a little like camping in the rough. Especially the outdoor toilet.

The first time Annabelle and her daughter-in-law Connie see the house they’re going to be living in, Connie’s eyes widen.

“What’s that look on your face?”

Connie answers, “Something’s missing.”

“What?” (Annabelle asks).

Connie leaned close to her ear and whispered, “There’s no bathroom.”

(Cousin) Thelma laughed out loud. “Child, yes there is.” She pointed outside. “It’s right out there.”

One thing for certain, life would never be boring for my transplanted protagonists. In Annabelle’s Joy, the third and final book in the series, Connie is happily settled in a fine farmhouse complete with indoor plumbing. But Annabelle faces more upheaval. Though she has come to love her little house, it was never meant to be her permanent home. Now, she would need to find a tenant to farm her land. The tenant would need the house, which would leave her homeless once again.

Researching and writing this series of stories stirred so many memories of my childhood. I could smell the freshly turned earth and hear the lyrical sounds of their voices. Voices that echoed across the fields as they labored beneath the hot summer sun on a golden afternoon in the 1950s.


TWEETABLE



Betty Thomason Owens loves being outdoors. Her favorite season is spring when she can work in the yard or take long walks while thinking through a troublesome scene in one of her stories. She is a multi-published, award-winning author of historical romance with a touch of suspense. An active member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), she serves as president of the Louisville Area group. She’s a mentor, assisting other writers, and a co-founder of Inspired Prompt, a blog dedicated to inspiring writers. She also serves on the planning committee of the Kentucky Christian Writers Conference. You can learn more about her at BettyThomasonOwens.com. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.

Monday, February 24, 2020

Change the World with Your Writing: Character Conflicts That Can Actually Help Your Reader (Part 2)

Continuing Series: Change the World with Your Writing


p. m. terrell  @pmterrell




To refresh our memory, Part 1 we looked talked about a gripping read must have at least one character with which the reader can identify. A book that makes an impact is one in which the conflict this character must face places the reader in a position to empathize with their situation and consider how they would handle it if they were in the character’s shoes. We looked at the top three stressors and here we will list others individuals can face in their lifetime:


        4.  A major illness or injury or a loss of capacity. The book could begin with a fit character, but an unexpected illness or accident embarks them on a journey that will change their life.


       5. A move. One of the most common backdrops involves taking a character out of their comfort zone, the place they are most familiar with, and move them to a distinctly different location. This works in any genre from Jay Anson’s Amityville Horror to Jean Grainger’s The Tour. It works against the backdrop of war or peacetime, conflict through romance.



          6. Change in employment. Starting a new job can be exhilarating but also stressful. Throw in coworkers that test your patience, sabotage your work, or place the character in a moral or ethical dilemma, and the reader can instantly identify. Throw in a stressful or challenging assignment they must handle, such as impending war or an asteroid, and you have the makings of a page-turner.

      7.  Loss of income. From the stock market crash to the loss of a farm or job, the reader can easily step into the character’s shoes and wonder how they would handle a similar situation.

       8.  Additions to the family. As the main plot or a subplot, a new marriage, or an addition to the family always changes the dynamics. This is often part of the backdrop but can take on more significance depending on the genre and plot.

       9.  Natural disasters. From romance to mysteries to literary fiction, any story gains an extra layer of suspense when set against an impending flood, forest fire, earthquake, tsunami, hurricane or cyclone.

      10   The loss of their world. Throughout history, there have been major upheavals frequently involving war or climate change that incorporate several of the stressors listed above. After World War II, for example, there was a massive migration of Europeans. In our present time, massive migrations are occurring in the war-torn Middle East as well as parts of the world most affected by climate change. This can result in the loss of loved ones, separations, loss of employment and income, and other challenging factors.

       As I said in Part 1 on the 17th of February, Adding stressors such as these can impact the reader’s perspective. Crises that are completely outside the power of the individual are particularly riveting. The loss of normalcy strikes at the heart of any reader. By causing the reader to ponder their own actions in such situations, it results in greater empathy. In turn, this increases understanding of the world in which we live, and if we can more adequately understand its people and conflicts, we can make the world a better place.

        Tweetable

        Change the World with Your Writing:  Character Conflicts That Can Actually Help Your Reader          (Part 2) p.m. terrell (click to tweet)






p.m.terrell is the award-winning, internationally acclaimed author of more than 24 books ranging from historical to suspense. She has used stressors in many of her books, including divorce (A Thin Slice of Heaven), a new job (Kickback), moving to a new place (Vicki’s Key), and others. Her most popular books, Songbirds are Free and River Passage, are creative nonfiction about her ancestors’ roles in migrating west in America while many of her suspense incorporate Ireland, her ancestral home, including Checkmate: Clans and Castles.







Friday, February 21, 2020

PERSONAL STUDY LED TO COMBAT! (Part I)

Dennis L.Peterson  
Independent Author, Historian and Editor


             Writers get ideas for their work from a variety of sources, including overheard conversations, watching children at play (or adults arguing), commonplace events in the routines of daily life, and even their own fertile imaginations. The idea that led to the book Combat! Spiritual Lessons from Military History came from the intersection of the personal study of my two favorite subjects, the Bible and military history.
            While reading during a period of several months a few books on military strategy and tactics used during World War II, I began to realize that in many ways what I was reading dovetailed with what I was reading in the Bible. Desiring to share what I was learning; I began to organize various points for what I thought might grow into an article. Over time, however, as I continued to read and study the subjects, I realized that such writing would involve something much longer and more detailed than a mere article. It might even develop into a book!

Thursday, February 20, 2020

THINKING OUTSIDE THE BOX…OR INSIDE THE MALL



S. D. Tooley  https://www.facebook.com/SDTooley

Mysteries with an Edge





Marketing can be fun, or a pain. As a former casino dealer, I look at it as a roll of the dice. You never can predict the outcome. Living in an area of the country where bookstores are as rare as a 70 degree day in August, I was hard pressed to come up with something different. My husband and I decided to do some shopping in an indoor mall. We had to drive 30 minutes to the next state over since all we have are outdoor malls. The sight of ad displays sparked a marketing idea. These 4 ft. x 6 ft. display panels are backlit and advertise a variety of products and services. Some were available for rent. I figured it wasn’t going to cost me anything to find out more information, so I jotted down the phone number and web site.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Find Your Unique Social Media Voice


Edie Melson  @EdieMelson

Social Media Director for Southern Writers Suite T


As authors we talk a lot about voice. In fiction, and even non-fiction, it’s defined as that certain something that makes an author unique. In everything—from the rhythm, cadence and flow—to the sentence structure. It conveys the author’s personality and attitude. 

Although many may not realize it, there’s an advantage to developing a voice for your social media presence. If you think about it, it’s something that those most successful social media folks have done.

But with social media, it’s not just the words you choose, but it encompasses the images you use to represent yourself and the topics of the updates you post.

Here’s how to find your unique social media voice:

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Increasing an Author’s Exposure


By Susan Reichert   @swmeditor

Editor-in-Chief, Southern Writers Magazine

I notice that some author’s do a book giveaway of their new books. This is a good way to create buzz around the release of a new book.
Some authors do those giveaways on their own websites and some on the websites of other authors and friends. Again, this is great…it continues fueling the buzz about the new release.
Here is the tip for more exposure on book giveaways:

When you do a signed book giveaway, be sure you shout it from the rooftops! Whether the book giveaway is on your website, a friend, another author, your publicist, or publishers or on our Weekly “Signed Book Giveaways”, tell everybody about it. Fuel the flame around the release of your book. Why?

Monday, February 17, 2020

Change the World with Your Writing: Character Conflicts That Help Your Reader (Part 1)

Continuing Series:  Change the World with Your Writing



p. m. terrell   @pmterrell
Columnist for Southern Writers 


A gripping read must have at least one character with which the reader can identify. A book that makes an impact is one in which the conflict this character must face places the reader in a position
to empathize with their situation and consider how they would handle it if they were in the character’s shoes. The top stressors an individual can face in their lifetime include:

Friday, February 14, 2020

Happy Valentine To Everyone







   We at Suite T are grateful for  


our awesome authors and readers. 

  You deserve roses and chocolates and 

everything wonderful on this special day.

    


Happy Valentine’s Day!



Ann Landers said, “Love is friendship that has caught fire. It is quiet understanding, mutual confidence, sharing and forgiving. It is loyalty through good and bad times. It settles for less than perfections and makes allowances for human weaknesses.”

For those younger who may not know who Ann Landers was, it was a pen name that the Chicago Sun-Times advice columnist Ruth Crowley in 1943 created and was taken over by Eppie Lederer in 1955.

For 56 years her syndicated advice column was a regular feature in newspapers across North America.  Due to this popularity, ‘Ann Landers’, though fictional, became something of a national institution and cultural icon, at least that is the way it seemed. Everyone quoted her.

But her comment about friendship is so true. To have a best friend, one who knows you totally, one you share your ups and downs, good and bad– yet remains a true, loyal friend without judging you is indeed one of the most treasured relationships we can have.

Be sure and tell your best friend thank you and how much her friendship means to you.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Pilot-In-Command


Kay DiBianca   @Kdibianca

Christian Mystery & Suspense Romance






Would you like to learn to fly? Great. Come on over to the airport. I have a nice little Cessna you can use. Keys are in the ignition. Just hop in and take ‘er up!

Would you do it? Of course not. Flying is a difficult endeavor even if you’re an accomplished pilot. Trying to fly without instruction would be a guaranteed crash-and-burn. In order to learn to fly, you need to hire a flight instructor, spend hours on the ground learning the basics of flight, and then more hours in the air practicing the skills of navigation and flight control.

But when it comes to writing, we often feel we can open the laptop and pour eighty thousand words of first-rate prose into the keyboard without any instruction. After all, we made A’s in English composition. And Aunt Edith always said she loved the stories we made up. How hard can it be?

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

The Defense of Poetry

Sara Robinson  @facebook




Are we responsible for making poetry matter? How do we prove or defend the idea that poetry can make a difference? How will our lines influence society in general, our own lives, or even the conservation of nature? Do we use poetry to expose a morality of bad taste?

What about the use of hyperbole to create a defense of poetry? It could be noted that the use of extreme exaggeration, in a line, to make a point could risk overwhelming the entire poem. Or does the entire poem work as hyperbole?

How can we find a balance as part of our defense of poetry? Author Michael Robbins, in his new book, Equipment for Living: On Poetry and Pop Music (Simon & Schuster) stated, “No one has ever changed his life because of a poem or song…” Really?  Why do I find that hard to accept? On a personal note, a young woman heard me read my poem, “A Poem Written As Scars,” came up to me and said my poem changed her life. Later in the same book, [Robbins] also says, “There is no limit to what a poem can’t do…poetry makes all sorts of things happen.” These statements add to the confusion of how best to defend poetry.

Poets, since the beginning of the genre itself, have used its form to confront grief, describe horrors of war, starvation, and suicide. We have learned about the complexities of human lives through poetry. Witness Sylvia Plath and Robert Lowell. The tragedies of mental illness, for example, are laid bear with these and others. Poetry provides insight and intimacy without which we might not understand how precious life is.

Poetry has emboldened people to reveal mental turmoil, has given us the heartland of America, and has enlightened us.  Poetry may not give any one person everything or every answer. Humans are too individual for universal acceptance. But what would we have, if we didn’t have poetry?

I often say at readings, “While poetry is mostly fiction, it always states great truths.”
For many poetry is more accessible than philosophy and in this access people gain their sense of worth, even as why they are even here. When we read poetry about the wonders of nature, the sentiments of love, and the sadness of death, we share the experience with the writer. We also gain the sense of hope. Perhaps that one sense is the most important gift of poetry. Hope.

Poetry can be experienced alone or in public. Tea-sippers and whisky enthusiasts can appreciate poetry. When we share poetry at gatherings connections are formed that add to the value of the human experience.  Poetry can help us fall asleep or it can keep us awake and energized into action. We may not “binge-read” poetry, but I can show you books I could not put down until I finished. That’s another defense: poetry books are typically less than 100 pages, easier to complete at a sitting and easier to pick up for repeat readings. It is easier to carry a poetry book in one’s purse than a novel!
Even single lines can be poetry. How marvelous is that? Think about this line:
“I fix upon what would give me pleasure in my average moments…” (Marianne Moore)
When we read poetry in our average and spare moments, we can gain pleasure.
Who doesn’t love Mary Oliver? Here is a three line stanza from her poem, Landscape, that I believe is so powerful: “Every morning I walk like this around / the pond, thinking: if the doors of my heart / ever close, I am as good as dead.” What an incredible validation of how our own personal openness can enrich our lives.

Louis Menand, in a review titled, “The Defense of Poetry,” for The New Yorker magazine, wrote, “When the going gets stressful, the stressed want poems.”

Amen to that.


 Author of Sometimes the Little Town (her fifth book and fourth poetry collection), is founder of Lonesome Mountain Pros(e) Writers’ Workshop, former UVA-OLLI instructor on Contemporary Poetry, and poetry columnist for Southern Writers’ Magazine. Published in journals and anthologies, she is a former Virginia Writers’ Club and Blue Ridge Writer’s Chapter officer.  Her most recent book, Needville has now been turned into a play.

Her website is www.saramrobinson.com






Tuesday, February 11, 2020

How to Enhance Your Writing Career


DiAnn Mills  @diannmills

"Expect An Adverture"






We writers are well over a month into our 2020 writing resolutions and goals. Some may have abandoned their dreams when their objectives seemed impossible. We writers can’t survive in the publishing world without a consistent approach to enhancing our writing careers.

How can we work effectively and efficiently in our writing, social media, marketing, promotion, branding, and all our other responsibilities? Does your “how-to” outweigh the “want-to”?

The following seven tips will not only enhance your career but are also simple to understand and follow.

Monday, February 10, 2020

Focus on the Message


By Susan Reichert, @swmeditor

      Editor-in-Chief Southern Writers

From Pinterest




Many of us focus on “we must be writing”. While that is true, we would do better to focus on the message we want to write. (The Story.)
We know our writing needs to be interesting, whether fiction or non-fiction. How do we accomplish this? By choosing the right words.
 Mark Twain said, “The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.”
He also said, “Use the right word, not its second cousin.

Friday, February 7, 2020

The Pulpwood Queens Girlfriend Weekend





There’s a come-down phase after an author attends a book conference—an adjustment period that has something to do with going back to the real world through the logistics of travel. My last trip back from a book related weekend involved a mini-van ride from Jefferson, Texas to Shreveport, Louisiana; a flight to Dallas; another flight to Los Angeles; and a one-hour car ride to the loving arms of my husband and three German Shepherds. Under usual circumstances, somewhere along the journey back home, I manage to switch channels, but for days after the The Pulpwood Queens Girlfriend Weekend in mid-January, the energy lingered like a good kind of hang-over.

Thursday, February 6, 2020

WRITING WITH VOICE—Part Two



By Vicki H. Moss   @vickiMoss
Contributing Editor for Southern Writers Magazine


Continued from my January 9, 2020 post—I’ll start you out on the first paragraph again to refresh your memory:

If only I’d read Delia Owens’ book before publishing my book, Writing with Voice. But unfortunately Where the Crawdads Sing wasn’t published until 2018 so I didn’t have Delia’s wonderful examples of “writing with voice” to give you, so I’ll take this opportunity to show, not tell, on the Suite T blog.

“…Sunday Justice…(I love that name for a feline character), sleeping on the windowsill, flowed to the floor and walked to Kya.”—Dogs don’t flow. But by golly, cat’s do. Love this one! And Delia spent enough time in Africa, observing big cats, to describe them to flowing perfection.  

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Map It Out



By Sarah Sundin, @sarahsundin


Author of The Land Beneath Us


In the course of our careers, novelists practice many professions—psychologist, historian salesperson, and graphic designer to start with. But how about cartographer?

Have you ever had your heroine gaze out her kitchen window to the street in one chapter—and to her backyard in the next? Or have you ever had the locations of banks and groceries and post offices shift during your novels? I’ve found these things in my first drafts.

The solution—map it out.

On a small scale, draw floor plans of homes and other important buildings, including locations of things important to your story—telephones, kitchen knives, windows. For my novel The Land Beneath Us, I sketched a floor plan of the heroine’s home and of the library where she works.

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Change is Good

By Susan Reichert     @swmeditor

Editor in Chief Southern Writers






We are making a few changes at Southern Writers, Suite T and the Gallery of Stars.
We ask for your patience.

Change is good even though many times we don’t like change. But change is always
happening in the world and for the most part it is always better.

Our March/April magazine will be a special edition we are sure everyone will love. The authors
showcased in this have a lot to share with writers. They are successful authors and love to help other
writers.

Our Suite T will have a new face lift soon and the authors who post will be telling us about their writing journey.

If you are like me, you want to know the paths the author used when writing their new book–– the ups and
downs and their successes and failures. All the things that give us the encouragement we need for our own writing.

We all know, regardless of how much we enjoy writing, it is work. And for some, it is hard work. There is so much we can share with each other in writing. Maya Angelou said, “When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully, everyone is blessed.”

Authors are in a wonderful place to be able to help other writers. As we know it can be a lonely profession, but when you read an author telling about his/her journey, it helps us to feel a part of…to know there are other writers out there going through the same things we are.

We want Suite T to be a place you can talk about issues in writing, and expect answers from other writers sharing with you their experience and suggestions that might help you. Charles Dickens said, “No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.”

Writers can do this for each other.

Susan Reichert, Editor-in-Chief Southern Writers Magazine for
nine years, which includes our venues such as Suite T, The Gallery of
Stars, Newsletter, Seasonal Promotional Catalogs for Authors.


Monday, February 3, 2020

Can Everyone Hear the Voices?



By Tom Threadgill, Author of Collision of Lies


Writers like to say our characters talk to us. We can hear them spouting the things they will or won’t do as we write our stories. Sometimes those voices ruin our plans. (Ever wake up in the middle of the night and have one of your characters say you’ve got the wrong killer? I have.) There’s a problem with that though. If the reader can’t hear the characters too, our stories are flat. Lifeless.

The people in your books must be real, with all the thoughts, emotions, and reactions of living human beings. Want people to bond with Lori, your protagonist? Forget how she looks. Focus on who Lori is. What about her is relatable to readers? Does she love the smell of coffee but hate the taste? Use it somewhere. Does she think her toes are particularly ugly (or pretty)? Maybe have that as a thought when she steps out of the shower one morning.

But take the concept further. What happens when Carly, Lori’s only daughter, is diagnosed with breast cancer? Did the mere reading of that question bring a flood of emotions to you? Perhaps the memories of a friend or relative or even yourself who went through something similar? You can bet that’s a shared experience, so use those feelings to connect to your readers. You are the deeper POV we’re always talking about. So how do you write it? How would you react if you got that call from your daughter?

“Lori couldn’t swallow. Couldn’t breathe. The distant pounding of her heart resounded in her ears with a dull thump. No, Lord. She gripped the back of the sofa as her knees faltered. Not Carly. A blur of activity on TV captured her as a woman in a red dress won the bonus round on Wheel of Fortune. Lori wiped her hand under her nose and turned away. Her chest ached and her mind kicked into gear, chasing the worst-case scenarios to their inevitable endings. No, Lord. Not Carly.

Let’s talk about that for a minute. Were you able to connect with any part of the paragraph? Maybe the fear of something happening to your kids? Or the memory of what it was like to fight a deadly disease? Or even simply watching Wheel of Fortune?

You know nothing about Lori except what you learned in that snippet. You don’t know her age, what she looks like, where she lives, anything. But you can relate to her because we all have those experiences. That makes Lori real. Someone we care about.

But here’s the thing. You can’t stop with your protagonist. Every character in your novel needs those experiences, whether it’s the waiter who disappears every time you want a drink refill or the airline pilot with the obviously dyed hair or the barista at the coffee shop who you’re sure misspells your name on purpose. They all have something to say. Just make sure your readers can hear them too.
____________________________________________________________ 
Tom Threadgill is the author of the Jeremy Winter series of thrillers (Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas), as well as Collision of Lies, available February 4th from Baker Publishing Group. His books have a distinct focus on clean, suspenseful action with strong character development. In his downtime, Tom enjoys woodworking, riding his Harley, and chasing the elusive Yard of the Month award. He currently resides with his wife in the Dallas area and can be reached on Facebook or through his website at TomThreadgill.com.