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Shopping for an escape

Because I’m a senior and I cannot drive, I’ve had to find other ways to get out. I watch a lot of television, and in the last few years, I’ve done most of my shopping with QVC. I don’t mean to be a commercial, but I must say I am very happy with most of what I get; once in a while I send something back, but the quality of their goods has been excellent. As with any shopping bag with bookskind of shopping, I have lots of days when I can force myself to be practical and not give in to the many temptations I see.  Then there are those days I like everything I see and finally give in and purchase something.  That’s the kind of day I’m having today.  I vowed I wouldn’t spend any money unless I found a Christmas present; but I gave in and bought something for myself!  It’s practical and something I will really use, but I spent some money when I vowed I wouldn’t.  Such is the life of those who love to shop. Everything looks so good on the models, even the larger ones. Shopping is a way we use our imagination, put those clothes on us and dream.

We do the same thing when we shop for a good book.  We look for the color (which is the cover); we notice the style (the print of the book) and we often seek out the design company or the designer (the author).

When you come across the books Genilee and I have written, you’ll see vivid covers, not bright or gaudy, but rich in color and hinting at what is in the book (the way lace might hint at what’s beneath); the style of our books is appealing (Spectacle has chosen easy to read and large type). As for the designers (us), we are still getting to the point where you might recognize us by name. We hope what you’ll learn to associate with that name is entertaining reading. In no way do we consider what we do coming up with deep, provoking or controversial literature.  We see ourselves as writers of “moments of escape,” which we both have shopped for when we read.  Our books are the kind you love to curl up with in a chair in front of the fireplace to lose yourself fully for a few hours in someone else’s life.

Genilee is working hard at getting the third book polished for the publisher’s last reading, while I am trying to produce book four in the Sam Osborne series. The book Genilee’s immersed in—Fate of the Violet Eyes—sees Sam, our detective, falling in love.  I hope you become as absorbed in the characters of the kidnapper and his victim as I was in writing this book.  Meanwhile, I am almost done writing book four, which includes some suggestions made by audiences in a series of book talks we held at various communities.  I already wrote a fifth book, but I put it aside for a while because it doesn’t satisfy me.  Sometimes you just have to put aside something that bothers you—like that dress or that shirt that’s almost good enough. And when you’re shopping QVC, sometimes you have to send it back for a different one or one that fits better.

We hope, of course, that you come across our engaging Fate series in your shopping and decide to try us on. But in the meantime, let me give you a little exercise we do in our book talks (the same exercise that has resulted in including details from communities where we talk into book four).

I often start a book with just a name, then I begin visualizing details for the character and go on to what actions the person might take and end up formulating plots around those details. I thought I’d give you a new name and see what you come up with. I’m looking for things such as age, appearance, personality, job, desires, motivation—give me anything that comes to mind.  If we get some replies as comments, I’ll share with you what I have come up with myself.

Here goes, close your eyes and visualize this person: CHRISTELLA CORTEZ

Have some fun with it!

F. Sharon Swope

 
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Posted by on October 3, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Falling in love with my character

I have a confession to make that my dear husband may not like. I’m in love with Sam Osborne.????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

Don’t worry though, honey, he’s not a real person. He’s the detective in our Fate series. And unlike with you, this love did not start out with a bang. It took me many months and many revisions of the books before I began to fall for this character. And it didn’t hit me hard until this third book—Fate of the Violet Eyes.

Sam went from being a nice man in Twist of Fate who helped a girl in a wheelchair and a homeless man to a friendly detective in Wretched Fate who helped the main male character as he stumbled into dating. Then in this third book, we readers get to spend a lot more time with the man. His masculinity comes out, and instead of being the person behind the romance, Sam falls in love with his own client. Despite the fact he shouldn’t, he lets that love to the forefront as he helps her try to find her child.

I suppose it’s kind of weird, actually, to fall in love with a character who was originally created by my own mother. But he’s a product of two vivid imaginations: two generations’ ideas of what a good man is. That’s why he’s inquisitive but polite; kind but capable of anger when he’s sees something that’s wrong; quick to laugh, but often introspective.

And I also think falling for the characters happens to a lot of writers: we spend so much time with them in the writing/rewriting/editing process, they become part of our life.

So forgive me, dear husband. But I’m hoping to make others fall in love with Sam Osborne as well. And I’m sorry, but my love affair with Sam will continue. Mom is now working on book four and book five is already drafted. You’ll just have to put up with me, honey, until the Fate series is complete. And you know what? I hope that doesn’t ever happen. I’d miss my Sam too much!

Genilee Swope Parente

 

 
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Posted by on September 24, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Fishing for readers

The most common question both mom and I get when we speak to book clubs and meetings is: where do you get your inspiration and ideas? How did you come up with a girl in a wheelchair and a boy who is homeless who get thrown together in a snowstorm? How were you able to lead readers away from the true villain so they were surprised at “who dunnit?” We’ve discussed this issue many times, and we’ll be talking about it for many more years. This is because the source of creativity for each of us, at least for these Sam Osborne books, is different.

Mom is a story-former. She lays in bed at night and the characters come to her, then when she sits down at the computer, they spill at random, sometimes shocking her with their actions. The story has its own steam. I would call myself, in terms of this series, the word polisher. I take what she’s written and my own knowledge from years of being an editor, as well as my knowledge of how my own mom thinks, and I do what I do best: flourish. I fill in the descriptions, round out the characters, paint the scenery.

I think the reason this book series works so well is that we have combined those two aspects of being a writer. Both are vital and the best books are written by authors thagoldfish_and_hookt can do both. You have to have tasty-looking bait or readers will just ignore your lure. But you also need a good, solid story line to keep them hooked and reel them in.

Think about some of your favorite authors. Mary Higgins Clark, for example, is a master story teller. She can create twists and turns that fascinate. But would you read her work if she didn’t also have the skill it takes to give you a smooth ride? You barely know you’re boating when you read a Mary Higgins Clark novel. You just cut through the waves on your way to the destination she’s created. A good example from my own personal favorites is P.C. Cast and her daughter Kristin. My teenage daughter got me to read the first in the House of Night series and once I was on my way, I didn’t stop reading until I realized I was spending way too much time reading a teenagers’ series (that was about book seven and I’m just taking a break!). The series is about vampires, which is a sore subject (forgive the pun) for someone of my generation who feels the teenage world has been bombarded with fangs, fur and blood. I was fascinated with why I couldn’t put down the Cast authors’ books, and I now believe it’s because the mother’s many years as a writer and the daughter’s input into what youth truly reads were the two main ingredients. The series has a good story line and the words are put together smoothly.

I think if mom had started writing earlier in life, she would have become the wordsmith I am. And I hope that through her example, I’ll be able to sit down some day and let my own story lines emerge more fully. I’ve started that process with a book of my own about a girl who learns to travel outside her physical body. For now, though, I’m happy with the progress of Sam Osborne and the characters in the Twist of Fate series. And pretty soon, we’ll be casting out the next line: Wretched Fate.
Genilee Swope Parente

 
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Posted by on July 17, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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