Monday, March 20, 2023

A Day in the Life of My Imaginary Friends, an Open Book Blog Hop post

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Welcome to Open Book Blog Hop. You can find us every Monday talking about the writing life. I hope you'll check out all the posts: you'll find the links at the bottom of this post.

Tell us about the day in the life of one of your characters.

Oooh. This one is fun. Who should we follow? I think I'll go with crowd favorite Leonel "Fuerte" Alvarez of the Menopausal Superheroes series. 

For those who haven't read the books, Leonel was a 48 year old Latina stay-at-home mother and grandmother until Dr. Liu's products transformed him into a man and gave him super strength, sending his life intro turmoil and paving the way for his reinvention as a superheor. Now, four books into the series, he works for the Unusual Cases Unit as Fuerte (the Spanish word for strong) alongside Jessica "Flygirl" Roark and Patricia "The Lizard Woman" O'Neill saving the city of Springfield.  

Let's follow him on a typical Saturday: 

7:00 a.m.: Leonel wakes at home in a quiet, older neighborhood in Springfield, the imaginary mid-size Southern city where the Menopausal Superheroes series takes place. His husband, David, is already up and he finds him cuddled up on the sofa with their grandson who spent the night last night, both with the same case of bedhead. 

Leonel shoos them to go get dressed and heads to the kitchen and starts pulling together breakfast. When the new puppy starts whining and stretching a paw under the refrigerator, Leonel pauses to pick it up for him and holds the refrigerator a foot or so off the ground allowing him to get the toy that had slid beneath. Sometimes, it's handy to have super strength. 

8:00 a.m.: The three Alvarezes gather in the kitchen to enjoy pancakes shaped like Mickey Mouse with all the toppings, with bacon, and strawberries and mangos slice thin. (Leonel has always loved to cook). They've planned to drive out to the lake this morning and go fishing, and Carlitos is chattering nonstop. Leonel smiles, and pours more coffee into David's cup. 

9:00 a.m.: By 9:00, the three of them are at the lake. David and Carlitos have their fishing poles out, but Leonel is lying on his back staring up at the clear blue sky, enjoying listening to the birds and the soft laughter of his grandson. He drifts off, still tired from the adventures of the day's before, including stopping a tractor trailer from toppling off a bridge onto the highway below.  

almost 10:00 a.m.: Leonel wakes up when his grandson pounces on him, asking for a juicebox. Growling good-naturedly, he rolls over to pull one out of the cooler. He's still trying to shake his drowsiness when his work phone rings. Frowning apologetically, he walks down the shore to listen to the call. Suzie, the Director's assistant, apologizes for interrupting his day off and arrange for someone to pick him up. Leonel returns to his family and hands the truck keys to David, kissing them both good-bye and promising to be home for dinner. David reminds him to be careful and they wave as he makes his way to the parking lot. 

11:00: Leonel, now suited up as Fuerte, with his signature red shirt and golden sun mask, is flying across the city in the Dact, the air transport for the Unusual Cases Unit, alongside Flygirl and Patricia, the Lizard Woman of Springfield. 

Sally Ann Rogers, their team lead, tosses him a protein bar and a bottle of water while she debriefs him on the call. There's been a cave-in at the old mill on the edge of Springfield, and several homeless people who had sheltered there are trapped inside. Rescue workers can't get through. 

12:00: Leonel's afternoon is a flurry of activity, holding up walls, moving debris, calming survivors, translating sometimes, assisting in medical lifts. He's in his element and by the time the last survivor has been handed over to the medical team, he is filthy from head to toe, exhausted, starving, and glowing with positive energy. When Patricia flops down beside him and dumps a water bottle over his head, they laugh together, all their usual tension dissipated by working together. Jessica has already taken to the sky and returned home. 

6:00: Leonel finally returns home, clean and dressed in the clothes he'd worn for fishing. He's carrying a box from David's favorite pizzeria, and David meets him at the door, trading a cold beer for the pizza box. The two of them finish their evening in front of the television together, talking about the fishing trip and Leonel's afternoon adventures until Leonel falls asleep on the sofa. David wakes Leonel up to go to bed when the movie is over. They roll towards each other, clasping hands at the center of the bed. Within a few minutes both are snoring softly and Leonel dreams of a quiet Sunday at home. 

It's not easy, balancing family life and superheroic exploits, but Leonel is the person for the job--all heart and spirit of service. 

You can read one of his adventures in The Good Will Tour, a novella in which Fuerte and Flygirl work together to save the patients in a women's hospital from a vengeful woman with the ability to cause earthquakes. Or try out the entire series, starting with book 1: Going Through the Change

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Monday, March 13, 2023

Vacationing in Fiction, an Open Book Blog Hop post

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 Welcome to Open Book Blog Hop. You can find us every Monday talking about the writing life. I hope you'll check out all the posts: you'll find the links at the bottom of this post.

What are your favorite vacation spots and do they ever show up in your books?

I love traveling. I haven't gotten nearly as much of it as I want (I had kids--and they are expensive and time consuming, LOL), and I want to go everywhere! It might be shorter to make a list of places I don't want to go, than a list of where I want to visit.

Choosing favorites is difficult, but my trip to Ireland last summer was definitely a recent highlight! I'd love to go back. 

We'll call this collage "Samantha in Ireland" 

So far, I haven't used many completely real places in my fiction. I've used places and elements, but I've mixed them together in ways that aren't actually true. 

I know I'll use a lot of the ruins and scenery I saw on this trip to Ireland in my Gothic romance (working title: The Architect and the Heir), but not exactly as they actually exist. It's more about mood and interesting details than actual representation of the places I've been. 

Danguire Castle up there in the middle would definitely fit into that book, as would the magic light from the garden at Strokestown or the half-ruined walls of Jerpoint. Though, my heroine will probably not look as happy as me, given that she's got a haunting and some family secrets to deal with. 

Even though I haven't used my real vacations in my work, as a reader, I've really enjoyed running across places I've been in fiction. So maybe someday, I'll do the same for my readers. 

How about you? Do you enjoy incorporating favorite vacation spots in your creative work? Or reading it in others' work? I'd love to hear what you think in the comments!

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Monday, March 6, 2023

Where You Stand to Tell the Tale: An Open Book Blog Hop post

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Welcome to Open Book Blog Hop. You can find us every Monday talking about the writing life. I hope you'll check out all the posts: you'll find the links at the bottom of this post.

Do you have advice for changing perspective? For example, switching from writing exclusivly in third person and switching to first person? Or do you have a reason for staying with the perspective you do 

A story changes depending on who is telling it. So choosing a point of view is a crucial decision to an author. Some stories are better served by one choice or another. 

Mostly, I write in close third person. I like having a lens I'm viewing the story through--over the shoulder of a character. Though I've tried it out, omniscient doesn't seem to work for me so far. I need to understand where I'm standing to tell the tale, and that's best done (for me anyway) tied to a character and their biases, knowledge limitations, and perspective.

In my Menopausal Superhero series, I rotate through different characters in different chapters, so I get the immediacy and connection of being with a particular character, but the variety of what different characters might know or feel. I like the way they contradict one another and keep secrets from the other characters. Like real people. 

Sometimes, though, I write in first person. It's challenging in a longer work, as you can only show what that one particular character knows, but it can be a great draw for readers, making a strong connection because you see the world through the eyes of that character. I find it effective in short form horror, where it puts the reader in the shoes of the person in danger, and ratchets up the tension.

I've even written one short story in second person (you), which is not at all a common choice. I'm not sure I could maintain it for a longer piece, but I'm pleased with how it worked out for that short story. You can read The Beginning of You in 34 Orchard if you're curious to see how that worked. It's on page 11. 

When I'm beginning a new piece, it sometimes comes with a voice in place, and I know from the outset what kind of point of view I'll be using. Other times, I've experimented, writing the same scene in a few different points of view until I hit the one that feels right and that I'll stick with for the rest of the piece. 

There are advantages and disadvantages to them all--ways that they limit the storytelling, but sometimes working within limitations is helpful and forces more creative techniques. 

Are there any particular points of view you enjoy reading or working with more than others? I'd love to hear about your preferences in the comments!

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