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The end of the Ellen Shreiber contest has come.  I was so shocked at the number of entires, 76!  Thank you all for entering!  And the winner is: Dawn Y, comment number 19, congratulations Dawn!  I have e-mailed the winner who will have until Tuesday to respond, if I do not receive a response by then I will pick another winner.  I used random.org to pick the winning number.  I have another contest that I will post very soon, so for those of you that didn’t win this time, you will have another chance!

I have a guest author on my blog, Efrem Sigel, author of The Disappearance!  I asked him to write about how to create realistic characters.  So read through, and hopefully you will learn something new!  I also have a request for you, my readers.  Which do you prefer, author interviews, or essay type posts such as this one?  Please leave your comment on this post!  Now, here is Efrem on creating realistic characters:

Creating realistic characters is challenge enough for any author.  Creating realistic characters for a mystery is a special challenge.

A mystery by its nature must be plot-driven: a who-dunit that impels the reader to turn the pages faster and faster to get to the end.  But real characters in literature need time to breathe.  That means detours: side plots, interior monologues, dreams and nightmares, conflicts of personality or motivation, all of which may slow down the action for the reader.

Nevertheless, I don’t think this is an irreconcilable contradiction.   It is possible to create realistic characters within a mystery or thriller, and writers like P.D. James and Scott Thurow and Martin Cruz Smith manage to do so in a way that enhances rather than detracts from the story.

Which brings us to the central point: what makes a realistic character?

The obvious way to distinguish one character from another is by physical attributes: one is short, another is tall; one is beautiful, the other plain as a sheet of paper; one chain smokes and finishes a bottle of wine with every meal while the other won’t even touch a drop of alcohol (not that such a teetotaler could ever be the protagonist of a mystery, could he?).

 

Certainly when I began writing stories I spent a lot of time trying to depict characters by how they looked and acted.  This may be necessary but it is not sufficient.  Because it’s not so much how characters look and act as how they feel.  How they feel translates into how they speak and act, how they relate to other characters, how they deal (or fail to deal) with their own shortcomings. If the reader believes that he or she is inside the head of a character, and that this inside view is markedly different from that of another character, then the author has drawn a distinction between those two people that goes far beyond short/tall, fat/slim, wine lover/mineral water aficionado.

 

My new book, The Disappearance, is a mystery, but along with the mystery of what has happened to this missing child is the drama of what will happen to his parents as they try to cope with this tragedy.  They are very different people because they feel and react to events in different ways: Joshua, the father, is impulsive, restless, driven, consumed by the need to find his son.   Nathalie, the mother, is reserved, cerebral, disciplined; rather than being propelled into action by her son’s absence she becomes immobilized as a result of it.  With a husband and wife pulled in such different directions by the same event, the drama of whether their marriage can survive becomes as important as the who-dunit of the plot.

 

And this, finally, is the true distinction between a mystery that is plot-driven and one that is character-driven.  The plot-driven mystery ends with the solving of the crime.  The character-driven mystery ends when the protagonist resolves—or definitively fails to resolve—the internal conflict within him or her.   If this is done well, the book is cathartic for the reader in quite a different way from finding out that it’s Colonel Mustard in the library with the revolver.

–Efrem Sigel, February 18, 2009  Information about Efrem Sigel and The Disappearance is available at: http://www.efremsigel.com

I am now using Feedburner.  Down at the bottem click on the banner and you can subscribe to my blog!  Get updates whenever I make a post, or anything else.  It will also let me know how popular my blog is.  I will be able to see how many subscribers I have and other cool stuff.  So please subscribe!

From now until February 15 the first Ranger’s Apprentice book, The Ruins of Gorlan, is available for anybody to read for free!  How amazing is that?!?  This is an awesome series, I love it, and I would reccomend it to everybody!  So head on over to the Ranger’s Apprentice free e-book and read it!

I am posting contest information in a new way.  If you will look to the right of my blog under pages you will see a link that says Contests.  From now on I will be posting all contests on that page.  Check back often, there will be lots of contests!

Well look no further!  Henry over at Self-Publishing Review has compiled a list of blogs that review self-published books.  Some of these blogs also review non-self-published books, so maybe you’ll find another really cool book review blog!  Just head on over to http://selfpublishingreview.com/2008/12/27/self-publishing-review-blogs/ and check out the list!  Henry is also looking for more people to review self-published books, so if you’d like to give reviewing books a shot, or you already do, then consider writing reviews for this site!  There are a few requirements for the reviews, they must be over 350 words, and they can’t be identical to another review that you have written.  And don’t forget to browse the rest of the site while your there!

  As long as I have books to review I will try and post reviews on Mondays and Thursdays from now on.  I was just doing Tuesdays, but I think that this will be better.  Enjoy!

Author: Carole Boston Weatherford

Review:

Becoming Billie Holiday
is a collection of poems written by Carole Boston Weatherford.  Eleanora Holiday, who later changed her name to Billie after her favorite actress Billie Dove, had a hard life growing up.  Her mother was never there for very long, and her father only came to see her a couple times, and he never stayed long.  She was often left in the care of her mother’s friends or relatives.  When she was around 11-years-old she played hooky from school and got into trouble with the authorities.  She was sent to live one year at the House of the Good Shepherd for Colored Girls.  As she grew older she learned that she had a voice made for singing.  She sang at many clubs and tried to work her way up in life.  After many hardships, she became one of the most famous jazz singers!

This book was amazing!  I found it very informing about Bille Holiday’s life.  I didn’t think that it would be a very good book, but boy was I wrong.  The illustrations were really good; they really brought the poems to life.  This will be a book that I will go back and read several times over.

Overall I would give it 5 stars!

I have some very exciting news!  The up and coming author of Bella Notte (not yet published) Jesse Kimmel-Freeman has agreed to let me interview her!  I’m looking forward to doing this interview and I hope that you look forward to reading it!  You can visit the official Bella Notte website by going to http://bellanottethebook.weebly.com/  Stay tuned for the interview!

  I have extremely terribly new for fans of the Mandie series by Lois Gladys Leppard.  On October 5, 2008, this wonderful author passed away.  My prayers go out to her family and friends, and to all who loved her wonderful books.  We will dearly miss you, Lois Gladys Leppard.

Hi everybody!  Ok, so I’m like really new at this whole blogging thing, so it will probably take me a little bit to get used to it all.  I’m planning on having reviews up for you to read, contests for you to check out, and maybe, if your lucky, I’ll let ya’ll have a sneak peak at what I’m writing.