Did your mother ever tell you not to wear white after Labor Day? I can only imagine how this outdated fashion rule comes to many minds whenever Labor Day rolls around. Well, it’s that time of year again.
Although we can likely all agree that this rule is dated and that fashion today allows you to wear white all year around, we still use the phrase. Interesting how the power of a phrase never loses its charm.
I am not that old, not that young and by all means not a fashion designer—I’m a nurse and an author. I use colors and textures as a tool to show the reader the season and the weather.
Let’s say the character in the book you read walks on the beach. Her bare feet leave perfectly formed footprints in the wet sand. Her white, linen dress flutters behind her, parallel to the residual foamy line left behind by the gentle waves. You, the reader, immediately know that the character is in a setting that is warm, likely humid, and comfortable—summer.
On the other hand, when you see a character dressed in a bulky tan scarf that blends with the colors of the skyline, you’ll likely get the feeling of an overcast wintery day.
I love integrating clothing descriptions into scenes to avoid writing the blatant “it was cold outside.” And wouldn’t you agree? Using clothing to imply the weather and time of year is a great way to give the reader the ambience of the season.
Sometimes, I use clothing to describe a mood. In my last book Pinnacle Lust, I often used descriptions of clothing to show characters interacting with one another and their level of comfort. From the pages of Pinnacle Lust, notice how Sharon’s tight jeans and sleeveless shirt play an important role in her unwitting seduction of Dr. Sloan—and set the lustful mood:
He lifted me up and set me on the counter, keeping his arms around me. I bet the tight jeans I had on didn’t leave much to his imagination. His lips skimmed over my neck. He studied my smell, inhaling me deep into his lungs and his memory. I took the next step and wrapped my legs around him. It didn’t take long before his hands traveled under my loose, sleeveless shirt. I wiggled closer to him.
As an author, I know that it’s important to use clothing and other minor descriptions to set the scene without making it seem like a fashion show.
This Labor Day, I may or may not be wearing white, but I’ll sure be putting thought and care into what my characters will be wearing—and how it sets the tone of the story’s setting.
What about you? Do characters’ clothing descriptions affect how you perceive the story’s setting?
Enjoy your Labor Day.
Everybody is talking about how the book industry is changing.
Amazon’s hold on the book market has changed the landscape of how publishers do business. Since Amazon opened its Kindle Store in 2007, the book industry has changed forever. And as an author, that impacts me—big time. Amazon welcomed hundreds of publishers and thousands of books to be uploaded into its Kindle marketplace, allowing publishers to quickly come into the digital age and tap into a new concept at the time—purchasing books online and reading them in electronic format. It didn’t take long for others to follow Amazon—Nook, iBook, Kobo etc.
Along with the magic of e-format, Amazon and others also made shopping effortless as you can purchase a printed book with the click of a mouse. The success of this technology speaks for itself. You don’t have to follow the stock market to agree with me, all you need is to look at what’s happening with the brick and mortar stores.
Though it’s painful to see how bookstores are melting away, when it comes to selling books, the age of technology is in the authors’ favor. I think back to those authors who struggled to publish, market, and make their books known to the right readers before the Internet made it simple, and I can’t help but wonder how they did it.
Honestly, getting my name and my books out there seems like it would be impossible without the Internet—Facebook and Amazon. Where else could I connect and interact with my readers.
Keeping up with my readers is only the first part of my job, though. As an author, my goal is to write stories and sell them. So, when Mashable came out with a report in 2014 stating that e-book sales would surpass printed book sales in 2017, I knew I was on the right path in selling my books online. Simply put: I have a better chance of becoming known as an author, and my books are accessible to a greater number of readers
The Internet is an amazing thing and I’m happy to be an author as e-book sales and online orders are flourishing.
Come meet me now… on the Internet.
In the writing industry, it’s said that it takes a few good years before anyone will know your name as an author, much less buy and read your book. Industry experts and authors who have been going at it for awhile know that there are simply too many new authors and too many new books out there for even the most devout bookworm to read or even be aware of. That’s why there’s a particularly funny blog online about how to become a bestselling author overnight—in 17 years. It just doesn’t happen.
But who wants to believe this? Not an author. Definitely not a first time author. Every author has the dream of renowned overnight success. We all want to be J.K. Rowling or Danielle Steele. We want to see our stories on the bestseller list and even the big screen.
But as I’m just one of the thousands of authors who publish their books, whether through traditional publishing companies, print-on-demand publishing, or e-book publishing, I know the chances of overnight success are slim.
So, I write, publish and wait.
A few days ago, I posted on Facebook an experience I had. While calling to make some travel arrangements, I was shocked and flattered when the agent asked, “Are you Michelle Dim-St. Pierre, the author?”
Although my book has won several awards at book fairs, earned five-star accolades by top book reviewers, and has caused quite a stir in online conversations, I’m not going to kid myself—I’m nowhere near as popular or as widely read as authors who frequently make the New York Times best seller list. However, the fact that a stranger recognized me as an author shows me that, even though I’ve only been a published author since 2015, I must be doing something right.
This wonderful experience happened a few weeks ago, but now I refer to it as my “glory day”.
My interaction with the travel agent really made my day, and made a lasting impression on me…and I hope that, by the end of our conversation that followed, I made him a lifelong fan of my work. As for me…I can certainly get used to people knowing who I am!
If you read a book you love, I encourage you to reach out to the author and let them know. You never realize how much of an impact you can have on someone.
Go ahead and bring the “glory day” to an author SOONER.
It’s inevitable, social media is the leading communicator nowadays. We share much of our lives—facts, dilemmas, emotions and opinions. But, as we all know Facebook does not tell the whole story. We decide what gets posted and when. We can even remove what we or others post from our wall.
And, of course Facebook offers a custom setting so that we can control who sees our wall and our individual posts. What Facebook doesn’t offer us, is the ability to control other people’s pages.
With this in mind and with the simplicity of technology, even your mother can be on Facebook… Oops, not sure how happy you are about this. My mom is on Facebook can be a good thing or a very bad thing.
Your mother has her own Facebook account. She posts pictures from your childhood and tags you in them. She comments on your pictures. She argues with your friends over political views or social issues, especially ones you disagree on. She asks you about comments you make on friends’ posts that were meant to be discussions with your friends. She sees your relationship status has changed and pressures you with questions or opinions. And worst of all, she doesn’t know how to use the private message/chat feature so she makes personal posts directly to your wall, not realizing that others can see. The list is endless. These are just a few.
Each age group comes with its own set of problems. A mother is a mother at any age and our love, respect and appreciation for her cannot make up for us thinking we know better, or insisting on living our own lives (away from mom, but close enough). We will always be a generation younger.
There are many solutions to the stress that comes with your mom being on Facebook. Before you rush to change your settings and exclude her from your Facebook life, give her the chance to understand Facebook better. Take the time and make her a Facebook expert. Maybe one day you will be able to say proudly that your mom is on Facebook.
What are the most embarrassing things your mom has done since she’s been on Facebook?
There is often a debate among writers as to what is more important—story structure or character. The argument rages on, some claiming to begin with plot, others with characters. I’m just another voice in the endless debate of the chicken and the egg. In reality the two tend to feed off each other. But at the end of the day, it is the characters that we take away from a story and remember. If so, you can only imagine how much an author puts into creating a character.
The question I get asked most is, “where do your characters come from? They seem so real. Are they based on real people?”
I draw from real life to create characters. It’s the characteristics and traits from daily encounters with people that stick in my mind. Clearly my characters are a composite of people I meet. However, I always follow the rules. Yes, writing has rules…even lots of rules.
Sympathy Vs. Empathy
The first thing is to remember that a character does not necessarily have to be sympathetic for an audience to want to follow their story. A reader can have other reasons to follow a character, such as empathy.
Empathy means you understand a person's motives while sympathy means you feel sorry for them.
While having an engaging main character is important I always remind myself that I have to develop the other characters in the story as well. Even the villain that is outright evil has to be developed well in order to give a hero a formidable obstacle.
Who Is This Character?
I continually ask questions. It makes it easier to develop the character to be fuller and more engaging. People will find a more fully realized character more believable than a standard archetype or stereotypical hero or villain.
Complexity Vs. Inconsistency
There is a difference between making a character complex and making them inconsistent. Ideally, I’m trying to avoid heroes that are obviously good or villains that are overly melodramatic.
However, I’m always careful. After I’ve established my character I’m not doing anything excessively out of character. A common cliché is to have a character appear to be good and then suddenly reveal them to be evil. A bad twist is worse than telling a straight story well!
With this said, you can be sure that Steve Stone, Leigh’s step father and Dr. Levon will not turn out to be evil at any point during the Pinnacle trilogy.
Is this how you imagined me developing my characters?
I hope you enjoyed this tidbit from my desk.