Laura Howard: April 2013


The Forgotten Ones is Live on Amazon

The Forgotten Ones

The Danaan Trilogy

Book One

is now available exclusively on Amazon!

Allison O'Malley's plan is to go to grad school so she can get a good job and take care of her schizophrenic mother. She has carefully closed herself off from everything else, including a relationship with Ethan, who she's been in love with for as long as she can remember.

What is definitely not part of the plan is the return of her long-lost father, who claims he can bring Allison's mother back from the dark place her mind has gone. Allison doesn't trust her father, so why would she believe his stories about a long forgotten Irish people, the Tuatha de Danaan? But truths have a way of revealing themselves. Secrets will eventually surface. And Allison must learn to set aside her plan and work with her father if there is even a small chance it could restore her mother's sanity.

About Laura Howard

Laura Howard lives in New Hampshire with her husband and four children. Her obsession with books began at the age of 6 when she got her first library card. Nancy Drew, Sweet Valley High and other girly novels were routinely devoured in single sittings. Books took a backseat to diapers when she had her first child. It wasn’t until the release of a little novel called Twilight, 8 years later, that she rediscovered her love of fiction. Soon after, her own characters began to make themselves known. The Forgotten Ones is her first published novel.

Connect with Laura:


Six Questions with A.M. Torres

Happy Saturday to everyone! I sent The Forgotten Ones to be formatted yesterday, so it really won't be long now. Can't wait until I can release my baby into the world!

Today's guest for Six Question Saturday is author A.M. Torres. Welcome to Finding Bliss A.M.

What inspired you to write your first book?

I have always loved writing ever since I was a child and received my first diary for my tenth birthday. There haven't been too many times I haven't been writing, and I have always enjoyed it. I enjoy reading too, and the more novels I read the more I knew that I wanted to write a novel myself one that readers would enjoy.

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

I would consider V.C Andrews as a mentor. Her first novel Flowers in the Attic was definitely an inspiration to me. I loved the suspense of the story, and the way I couldn't put it down. I based my novel Love Child on this same kind of suspense writing. I loved having the chance to

What was your editing process?

I handled a lot of my own editing. I read and re-read my manuscript like three times, before I submitted it for publication.

How do you promote your work?

I used different ways to promote. I used social media, handed out sales sheets,and have given interviews on blogradio and blogs. I am in the process of planning my first book signing, and hope I can plan many in the future. I am also in the process of working on a virtual book tour as well in hopes that this will increase exposure. I once did an interview for a writers podcast as well. I have found word of mouth to be very helpful.

How do you stay in touch with your readers?

I have held Q & A sessions to keep in touch with my readers. I have also used social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and email to keep in touch with them. On Facebook I have pages and groups related to the book and me as the author so this has helped us keep in touch a lot. I do enjoy keeping in touch with my readers.

What would you do differently if you could start all over again?

I don't think there would be too much I would do different if I had to do it over again except become published sooner, years sooner. However, I have always loved writing, so I have nothing I would change in that regard. I would probably also edit more as well since a writer can never seem to do enough editing. But I am happy to have pursued it and have no regrets in getting published overall. It was my dream come true.


Cover Reveal: Finding Bliss by Dina Silver

Congratulations to Dina Silver for the gorgeous cover 
for her first book from Amazon Publishing, 
Finding Bliss.

FIND YOURS 7/16/13 

 It's currently available for pre-orders on Kindle and paperback. 


Release Day: The Selkie Sorceress by Sophie Moss

New Release: The Selkie Sorceress (Seal Island Trilogy, Book Three)

Author: Sophie Moss

Genre: Paranormal/Fantasy Romance

Release Date: April 25, 2013

Book Designers: Blue Harvest Creative

Cover Reveal: Breaking the Reins

Breaking the Reins by Juliana Haygert 

Publication date: August 2013
Genre: NA Contemporary Romance


Horses, mansions, tea parties, and lies are twenty-year-old Hannah Taylor’s life. To others, her family and her relationship with Eric is perfect. But she knows the truth. She lives it.

After a fire takes her grandma’s life and kills her horse, Hannah’s immaculate life spirals out of control. Her father disapproves of her decision to run her grandma’s ranch instead of focusing solely on learning the family business; Animal Control brings her Argus, a mistreated horse that she can’t turn away even though she’s not ready for another horse; and her boyfriend, Eric Bennett, a world famous polo player, becomes possessive and authoritarian. Despite her best efforts to disguise it, Hannah grows wary of him.

Then, Leonardo Fernandes struts onto the polo scene. A cocky rookie with a messy life of his own, he’s drawn to Hannah and isn’t afraid of showing it, even when Eric makes it clear she is his and he’ll do whatever it takes to keep it that way. Hannah suffers for Eric’s jealousy. The abuse only gets worse when Leo steals the title of best polo player in the world from Eric.

But the title isn’t enough for Leo. He wants Hannah too, and she can’t deny her attraction to him either. Somehow, she must find a way to break free from abusive Eric before he breaks every bone in her body.


While Juliana Haygert dreams of being Wonder Woman, Buffy, or a blood elf shadow priest, she settles for the less exciting—but equally gratifying—life of a wife, mother, and author. Thousands of miles away from her former home in Brazil, she now resides in Connecticut and spends her days writing about kick-ass heroines and the heroes who drive them crazy.

Author links:


Writing With the All the Senses

As writers, we're told how important sensory details are. 

Price McNaughton is here to show just how important those details really are!

Which of the two do you prefer?

  1. She singed her fingertips as she popped the crisp, brown crust into her mouth, the heavenly taste overwhelming her senses as the heavy odor of the crumbling bread filled the air.

  1. She ate the bread.

The goal of a writer is to paint a picture in the reader’s mind. Describing the experiences of the characters helps make this happen. We, as people, experience life through our senses. The importance of using senses in writing cannot be overlooked. It makes the story come to life.

  • SIGHT is the most used sense when writing. We build ideas based on what we see. The images that we translate into the written word are easy to picture and therefore easy to write.

  1. She stared in the mirror at her hazel eyes and brown hair.

  2. She contemplated her reflection, the small wrinkles at the corners of her hazel eyes, the dimple in her right cheek, and the soft curls of mahogany hair that framed her oval face.

Words build the image in the readers mind. Be descriptive.

  • SMELL can be used in writing in many ways, but one of my personal favorites is for evoking character’s memories.

  1. The smell of the perfume reminded her of her mother.

  2. The light, flowery scent of roses and gardenias filled the small room, bringing tears to hers eyes as she turned towards the door, half expecting to see mother to come sweeping in as she had so often done in the past.

While the first description is adequate, the second helps to establish an actual scent in the reader’s mind and brings memories to the surface. I can almost smell it as I write this.
As good as smell is for adding to descriptions of beauty, it’s just as good at describing disgust. While image can be striking, sometimes nothing is more repulsive to the senses then a pungent smell of decay, rot, and death. It can be quite overpowering and overwhelming.

  • TOUCH is perfect for adding to your world.

  1. The blanket felt soft.

  2. The soft, downy cloth of the blanket covered her cold body with warmth and she sank into a dark, deep sleep gratefully.  
In the first description, it is hard to build the image the author created in your mind. With the second, the blanket becomes a bit clearer and performed a task by warming her.
Touch is a sense that is greatly underrated. How many times have you seen buyers reach out to touch an article of clothing or another item before buying it? It’s also astounding how much the touch of another human being or pet can relieve stress and anxiety. It’s not a coincidence in my mind that in times of great sorrow, people immediately surround the mourners with hugs, pats on the arm and more.

  • HEARING can be fun to work with when writing.

  1. He heard the door open.

  2. A creaking noise filled the room as the old, wooden door screeched open slowly, struggling against the barriers of time and neglect.
So much of what is written depends on what we hear. The sounds of life translate well to the page because most are easily recognizable by readers. Noises can also be used in a very misleading way, much like in life, to create fear and horror. Sounds create mystery to readers.

  • TASTE is last but not least.

  1. The pie was good.

  2. The crumbling crust of the sweet, spicy peach pie was covered with whipped cream and tasted delicious.

Have you ever read a book that left you starving at the end? I have and it’s torture! Taste translates well to an emotional scene. When someone is upset, their tea may be slightly bitter. When someone is happy, their tea may be fruity. When in love, their tea may be hot and sweet. This doesn’t mean that food must always match emotion, but I find that when someone is experiencing an emotional state, they tend to pick out those emotions and feelings in the things that surround them. They notice the bitterness more when they are sad. In short, they experience what they feel.

I believe that sensory details in writing are what form the story. Similar lives, story lines, and plot twists are suddenly dissimilar thanks to the author’s view of the world. It is what makes a writer’s work original and every work unique. It is the only way authors can truly translate the stories in their minds to paper.

How important are sensory details to you in your reading/writing? Create a sentence of your own from one of the number one examples above.


Stamford Author Event

Exciting news! I'll be attending a book signing in Stamford Connecticut on August 10, 2013. It'll be my first signing EVER and I am really looking forward to it.

Join 30+ authors of contemporary, new adult, paranormal fiction and more at the Hilton Executive Center in Stamford, Connecticut, on August 10, 2013, from 12pm-4pm. Enjoy an afternoon of books, swag, and more as you get the latest releases from your favorite authors and discover new voices.

You’ll be eligible to enter a raffle and clinch the Grand Prize: a brand new Kindle Paperwhite, loaded with all our books! Attendees will also qualify to win VIP passes to mix and mingle with authors and book bloggers at the after-event, from 4pm to 6pm.

I hope to see you there!


Six Questions with Kelley York

I think Spring has finally decidedto awaken in the Northeast, so it's a happy Saturday here in New Hampshire! 

My Six Question star is author Kelley York. Welcome to Finding Bliss Kelley!

Was there a certain book or author that inspired you to write?

I wasn't honestly reading much when I wrote my first book. Writing got me back into reading, which is something I had done a lot as a kid and young teen, but had gotten out of. I began picking up a lot of books that were similar in tone to what I wanted to write. Hannah Moskowitz, Sean Olin, etc.

Do you plan out your novels or just fly by the seat of your pants?

Half and half. For the first 50% of a book, I usually just write to my heart's content. It's around that halfway point I slow it down and begin outlining to figure out how to take all the threads I've created and tie them up neatly.

How do you edit?

I'm am, thankfully, a very clean first drafter. I'm good at catching the big mistakes early on, which really cuts down on the amount of revision I have to do. So when I edit, it's mainly me going through with a careful eye, reading passages out loud to check for sentence structure and flow, characterization, overuse of dialogue tags, repetitive words, and any inconsistencies me or my beta readers might have missed.

Did you build a platform before releasing a book?

I sure did try! I got involved in social media, commenting on blogs and attempting to at least get involved so people would remember my name when my first book came out. I'm a shy and withdrawn person, so putting myself out there, even on the internet, is still something I struggle with.

How have you found the right readers for you?

Very carefully, haha. I have an extremely niche audience because I tend to write dark, and not everyone will pick up a book with an LGBT character. If I see someone I'm acquainted with who enjoys books similar to mine, I'll tentatively put in a recommendation. I'm also very grateful for the circle of friends I have who are always talking about my books to others. They're lovely. When I find readers who have enjoyed one of my books, I latch on for dear life. I interact with them. I've befriended quite a few of them. I want them to know how much I adore them to itty bitty pieces, and as such, I've gained myself—maybe a kind of small—but very loyal fan base.

If you could start all over, what would you do differently?

I don't think I would have done anything differently. I know Hushed came out just a little early to hit the New Adult trend that is growing rapidly now. I think, had I waited even just a few months, it would have gotten more acknowledgment. Not to mention LGBT books are growing in popularity, as are 'dark' and 'edgy' novels.


Thanks for stopping by today Kelley! I love dark and edgy too, I just don't seem to be able to write them. What is a genre you'd like to try that is out of your comfort zone?


Cover Reveal: Branded by Abi Ketner and Missy Kalicicki

Twenty years ago the Commander came into power and murdered all who opposed him. In his warped mind, the seven deadly sins were the downfall of society. He created the Hole where sinners are branded according to their sins and might survive a few years. At best.

Now lust wraps around my neck like blue fingers strangling me. I’ve been accused of a crime I didn’t commit and now the Hole is my new home.

Darkness. Death. Violence. Pain.

Now every day is a fight for survival. But I won’t die. I won’t let them win.

The Hole can’t keep me. The Hole can’t break me.
I am more than my brand. I’m a fighter.
My name is Lexi Hamilton, and this is my story.

About the authors:

Abi Ketner Is a registered nurse with a passion for novels, the beaches of St. John, and her Philadelphia Phillies. A talented singer, Abi loves to go running and spend lots of time with her family. She currently resides in Lancaster, Pennsylvania with her husband, triplet daughters and two very spoiled dogs.

Melissa Kalicicki received her bachelor’s degree from Millersville University in 2003. She married, had two boys and currently lives in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Aside from reading and writing, her interests include running and mixed martial arts. She also remains an avid Cleveland sports fan.

Abi and Missy met in the summer of 1999 at college orientation and have been best friends ever since. After college, they added jobs, husbands and kids to their lives, but they still found time for their friendship. Instead of hanging out on weekends, they went to dinner once a month and reviewed books. What started out as an enjoyable hobby has now become an incredible adventure.


Writing and Music

Music plays a huge part of life in many facets, and writing is no different.

Welcome Kristen Day to talk about how building a playlist has affected her writing!

Like most authors, music has a profound effect on my writing process and creative juices but not in the traditional sense. I don’t listen to music while writing, nor do I base any characters on the bands or musicians that I fangirl over. For me music is much more sacred; its purpose stronger than any other influence vying for my attention. Music is my portal.

My entire life music has been my safe place. A place I could fade into and lose myself. As someone who has seen the perilous evil this world has to offer, I needed that place to make sense of my pain, my anger, my hatred, and my sorrow. It was there that I could allow those feelings to emerge and be contained. It was there that I learned how truly devastating the effects of darkness can be. But it was also there that I turned that pain into strength.

Throughout the years I’ve had several musicians that gave me that secret world to disappear into, but Evanescence and Sarah McLachlan are the main two. Now I use those same songs as a tool - to take me back to how I felt. With my mind and heart immersed in that world of emotions, I can channel them into my characters and allow them to come to life through their words. So, I want you to open up your heart and allow yourself to fall away into the soundtrack I’ve chosen for Forsaken. Each song brings to mind a certain scene in the book and conjures the feelings swirling within Stasia - good and bad. See if you can match the song to the scene, or better yet, just listen and enjoy your musical journey through the world of Forsaken!

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Cover Reveal: First Born by Tricia Zoeller

"First Born" by Tricia Zoeller

Releases May 10, 2013 and will be available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords

First Born

"With the police and a killer hot on her trail, can shapeshifter Lily Moore solve the mystery of being First Born or will family secrets prove deadly?"

Check out Tricia's "First Born" playlist:

Tricia Zoeller
Author, First Born

Tricia would like to express a huge thank you to Claudia at Phatpuppy Art and Ashley at Bookish Brunette Designs for this amazing book cover. 


Cover Revamp: The Legacy of Kilkenny by Devyn Dawson

The Legacy of Kilkenny is the first full length novel I wrote.  Pru and Abel, will always be my first love and my favorite werewolves.  Since The Great Wolf will be out later in 2013, and the cover is of Abel, I thought Pru deserves her own cover.  Eden Crane outdid herself!  I think the essence of Pru was captured in the cover model.  As TLOK reaches the second anniversary in June, I thought it was a good time for a facelift.  

The book is FREE on Amazon.  If you have a Nook, Barnes and Noble will price-match.  Find out why The Legacy of Kilkenny consistently stays in the top 100 Free e-books in Teen Literature.  Thank you for reading my books!


Building a Believable Character

I'm pleased to bring Rebecca Ethington back for another post for her Eyes of Ember Blog Tour run by Damaris at Good Choice Reading!

Today we'll learn her Super Secret Tips for Building a Believable Character... and no matter where you are in your writing career there is ALWAYS something to be learned in this area!

The first big role I landed was in High School, at an actual theatre.
 Instead of working for three months for three performances, I was going to be rehearsing for three weeks for more than a months of performances. I was pretty hot stuff. No one could touch my awesomeness – well except my own insecurities.

So, I did what any nervous teenager would do, I hijacked my drama teacher and forced begged her to give me any tips she had as to how to build a great character. Because, after all, I would need it in order to make Munchkin #5 believable.

What Mrs. Fields gave me that day, as well as what I learned from her over the years, combined with my own anal retentive perfectionist syndrome created (what I like to believe to be) the perfect character building plan; of this, I am going to share two of my steps with you. (I can’t send too much or they wouldn’t be super-secret!)

The love, hate, lust, like, beat to a pulp list. – You have seen love/hate lists in blog tours before, think of this as that list on steroids. Not only does it list five things to like or hate, but also why (or why not) they feel that way about them, as well as level of animosity or love. Now, this may seem silly. But sometimes these stories tend to write themselves and if you know all this in advance then not only are you opening up more opportunities for spontaneity in your writing, as well as closing plot holes. For example, a character who doesn’t like shellfish is probably not going to be excited to go to a sushi joint. It is the little things like this that make your characters people and not just paper.

Watch your words! – This one is not easy, not in any way shape or form. How your characters talk, what words they use, what accent they have, and how much. These are the final details of your character and they are very important. It’s why Bella Swan says Holy Crow. In the Imdalind Series one of the main characters, Ilyan, speaks with a very thick Czech accent. That accent impacts everything, from how many contractions he uses, to how his accent increases when he gets mad. It affects his slang, and his infliction. The same holds true with every character, their backgrounds effect their vocal inflictions and words choices, and those are important to developing a believable character. Getting these straight between characters is very important, which is why this step is very important, you don’t want your characters to begin to blend together after the first book.

Well, there you have it, two of my super-secret tips for OCD character development. I hope you enjoyed them – and get some use out of them!

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Six Questions with Lauren Clark

It's another super-awesome Six Question Saturday here at Finding Bliss! I've just completed my line-edits on The Forgotten Ones last night, so today I'll be poring over each line, making sure I didn't miss anything. We're getting closer my friends! 

For your reading pleasure today I've invited one of my favorite ladies in the world, Lauren Clark, back on for the FOURTH time!

What is your method of plotting out a new story?

Plotting a new story is one of my favorite parts of crafting a book! It's a time when all ideas are new and fresh, when possibilities seem endless, and my brain goes ninety-to-nothing coming up with new characters, twists, and cliffhangers.

I always begin with a question, an idea that has lots of room to build on. I developed the idea for Stay Tuned after hearing a true story about a fistfight between two news anchors in a local television station parking lot. Both were fired, and the incident stirred up controversy for months. It was the perfect kick-start for Stay Tuned.

For Dancing Naked in Dixie, I'm a Northern girl in the Deep South, so I wanted to follow the journey of a travel writer from the Big Apple to small-town Alabama. I kept hearing about a nearby town that hosted a "Pilgrimage" every April. The event involves tours of antebellum mansions, period costume from the 1800's, music, and historic landmarks. Once I visited Eufaula, I fell in love with the area's charm and beauty. It was the perfect location for Dixie.

Once I have my story idea, I begin crafting the novel's summary or "blurb" which serves as the basis for the plot. The blurb is a super-quick explanation of why people should read the story. You might also hear authors refer to the "blurb" as an elevator pitch. It's called an elevator pitch because authors have 30 seconds or less to capture a potential reader's attention ... about the time it takes to travel a few floors on an elevator.

Once the blurb or elevator pitch is revised and polished to perfection, I begin more extensive character development and plotting. I've tried everything from typing extensive outlines on my Mac to using plotting software programs, but the method that works best for me is jotting down my chapter ideas and character details on plain 3x5 notecards. It's inexpensive, I can carry the notecards with me, re-arrange, and replace them. The notecards, once in the right order, become my rough outline. I start writing from there.

What is your editing process?

Generally, I write a novel from start to finish, and do very little revising until I get the entire first draft finished. I've found that—for me—it's too easy to get caught up revising a sentence, chapter, or a certain scene over and over.

Once the first draft of the manuscript is complete, I ship it off to my editor and beta readers who give me very honest and constructive criticism. With that feedback, I spend at least another month or two revising the novel. I'm very careful to listen to my editor and beta readers—for example—if most of them say a certain character isn't likeable or a plot point isn't working, I PAY ATTENTION! As difficult as it is to "kill your darlings," with every novel, it becomes easier to cut a chapter, eliminate awkward dialogue, or delete a scene.

Once these edits are finished, I read through the entire manuscript several more times, looking for inconsistencies and discrepancies. I tweak, revise, and tweak some more. When I'm happy with the novel, I send it off to be professionally proofread.

It's a long, time-consuming process, but one that can't be rushed. I'm a firm believer in taking the time to get the manuscript as close to perfect as it can be before publishing it. I also like to add extras like a Readers Guide or recipes. If readers are going to spend hard-earned money on my book, I want them to get MORE than their money's worth.

When you published your first book, how did you spread the word?

I was fortunate enough to be able to hire a publicity firm to help spread the word about Stay Tuned. Since I was totally new to indie publishing, we had to start from scratch—getting help creating a website, a blog, a Twitter account, a GoodReads profile, and a Facebook page. The publicity firm also set up a "whirlwind blog tour," which really helped publicize my novel. Over the course of several weeks, Stay Tuned was featured on more than sixty blogs and received more than 50 reviews on Amazon,, and GoodReads.

Taking advantage of advertising sponsorship opportunities on sites like Kindle Nation Daily, Digital Book Today, The Cheap, Kindle Book Review, and EReader News Today definitely helped spread the word about Stay Tuned. I also ran giveaways on GoodReads, LibraryThing, and my blog. Along the way, I entered several contests and received additional publicity for my novels when I placed in several competitions, including the WritersType First Chapter contest, Faulkner Wisdom, and the Eric Hoffer Book Awards.

What has worked the best for you as far as finding the right readers for your books?

I've been very lucky to have worked with many very talented blog tour coordinators who've helped spread the word about my novels. I can't say enough about Goddess Fish, ABG Reads, Chick Lit Plus, ATOMR, and Bewitching Book Tours. There are so many very talented blog tour coordinators out there—and that expertise can really boost awareness about your books!

How do you keep in touch with your readers?

I blog at least twice a week, post on Facebook, Tweet, and email. I like to also post photos and little notes about my family and what activities I'm involved in so that people have a sense of how I am as a mom and everyday gal.

I'm also active on GoodReads and LibraryThing, where I've connected with SO MANY fabulous readers. I've been fortunate enough to speak at writing events in Alabama, Mississippi, Florida, and New York.

I've also been (yay!) invited to talk to book clubs in the region who've chosen to read Stay Tuned or Dancing Naked in Dixie. I've just returned from the Eufaula Pilgrimage (the setting for Dixie) where I did a book signing, and I'll be giving a talk about Indie Publishing Success at the Alabama Book Festival in Montgomery April 20th.

What would the one thing you'd change about your road to publication if you had a chance?

Like many authors, I craved the idea of having a fabulous, talented agent to represent my novels and a big publishing company to back my books. For two years, back in 2008-2009, I worked really hard at sending out query letters (probably 50-60) to land an agent for Stay Tuned. I received many, many rejection letters, but a few came back with short notes of encouragement—basically to keep writing, that the agent just didn't love the story enough, or to resubmit after I'd revised. I did receive an offer from a small publishing company, but the contract was so terrible that an attorney friend of mine advised me NOT to sign it!

If I'd had a crystal ball, I would have begun learning about Indie Publishing a lot sooner. Indie Publishing has been a fabulous experience, I've learned so much, and made long-lasting, meaningful friendships with readers and other authors.

I am so grateful for the many people who have embraced my books and been kind enough to write reviews, drop me a line, say hello at an event, and encourage me to KEEP WRITING! I can tell you for sure that it's the best feeling in the world to have someone walk up at a book signing and tell you that he or she LOVED my book!

I want to know what you think, readers -- would you rather sign with a small publisher
 just to have a publisher or go on your own and self-publish?


How to Create Unforgettable Characters

Katie Jennings is back on Finding Bliss to celebrate her upcoming release Rise of the Notorious, Book 2 of the Vasser Legacy Saga.

It also happens to be her one year anniversary of being a published author. Welcome back Katie, and Happy Anniversary (be sure to check out her debut novel Breath of Air, FREE on Amazon.)

What’s a great book without great characters? They drive the story and make it interesting, therefore it’s very important to get them right. Ergo, no Mary-Sues! No one wants another Bella Swan (sorry Twilight fans!). We want more Elizabeth Bennets and Catherine Earnshaws and Emma Woodhouses! We crave manly men like Heathcliff and arrogant ones like Mr. Darcy and Mr. Rochester! No more Mr. Perfects, please, I’ll take the bad boys with checkered pasts and the spunky temperamental girls any day!

But just how does a writer go about creating a memorable character? One that will stick with a reader for years to come, holding their hand like an old friend as they continue on with life, never really quite the same after having “met” them? Perhaps there’s no concrete formula for this, but I will say that the first thing a writer needs to do is get a really good grasp on human nature. If we’re going to write about people, then we should probably have a pretty good idea on how people operate, right?

So how does one go about doing this? Well, most of it is already ingrained in us, we just need to pay attention. Think about it. We interact with people every day. We watch people on television, we read about them in newspapers, we talk to them at the grocery store. We are inherently social creatures, and in addition to that, we are all also very unique in the way we react to situations. Everyone has their own special way of laughing, of speaking, of smiling. Every woman has her own way of crying, her own way of getting angry, and her own way of falling in love. Each man out there has his own way of expressing his frustration, voicing his opinion, or succumbing to his desires. Our differences are what make all of us special, so as writers it is so important that we spend time fleshing out our characters and really focusing on what it is that makes them different from everyone else out there.

What little quirk does your heroine have that has the hero stumbling over his feet to kneel before her? Is it her dimpled smile? Is it her ability to listen quietly to his needs and quote poetry to ease his stress? Or maybe it’s her sharp tongue and wit that always catches him off guard, just when he thinks he has the upper hand?

No matter what it is, make sure you think long and hard about the traits you want your character to have. And for heaven’s sake, please don’t make them all good qualities! Because for every good trait we possess, there is a bad trait to accompany it. And, in my opinion, the bad traits are the ones that make us human, the ones that make us real. Don’t you want your characters to be real, too?

If you’re still having trouble organizing traits for your character and keeping them straight, then let me make a very helpful suggestion to you:  go buy an astrology book, and make it your new best friend. If you don’t know where to start, let me recommend one to you: Linda Goodman’s Sun Signs.

Some of you may scoff at it, but if you do then you are seriously missing out on an in depth analysis of different personalities. Put aside your disbelief in it, and instead comb through the different signs and read about each personality. It will teach you a lot, just trust me! By utilizing this widely available and extremely helpful tool, you will be able to create believable characters that have both good traits and flaws, and that are consistent. Consistent is a BIG word with me, as I am a Virgo and consistency is a huge thing for us. You see, you can’t have your hero be both the shy boy next door, and yet he always knows the exact right thing to say to comfort or woo your heroine. No! A shy boy next door is also probably going to be bad with words, and he’ll probably always say the wrong thing because he’s socially awkward. See, doesn’t he sound more interesting already? And, best of all, he’s not perfect. No one is, and besides, perfect characters are awfully boring!

Or how about the oh-so-handsome stranger who swaggers into town outta nowhere and has a fierce temper, only to then suddenly turn around and be the sweetest guy ever as he patiently hangs on every silly word your heroine says? I doubt he exists in real life, sorry. It would be much more realistic for him to be arrogantly demeaning in the beginning, only to have the heroine slowly teach him to soften up a bit, but he still needs to retain his inner nature. He’s probably an Aries, and Aries men don’t change for nobody. But, he may warm up to a girl who’s caught his eye, and show her lots of affection which will be plenty sweet, but don’t expect him to lose his selfish nature or his arrogant pride. He’ll hang on to those qualities till his dying day. And hey, that’s what makes him interesting, don’t you think? I do.

To give you a brief summary, I’m going to sum up some pros and cons of each of the twelve signs, just so you can see how vastly different they all are and you can get excited about which one to choose and then explore in even more depth:

ARIES:  Bossy, arrogant, selfish, and extremely stubborn. But also energetic, spunky, cheerful, and the life of any party.

TAURUS:  Consistent, down-to-earth, noble, and hard-nosed. Homebodies to the core; usually love and connect with nature.

GEMINI:  Flighty, whimsical, witty, and fun. Two-faced and self-centered; bright and clever. Great speakers and lovers of good conversation.

CANCER:  Wildly emotional, hardworking, stingy, and very caring. Values stability in life and home more than anything; extremely cautious.

LEO:  Proud, temperamental, conceited, romantic, and exceptionally affectionate. These people are born royalty (in their eyes), and they want you to know it!

VIRGO:  Practical, smart, often shy and always just a little bit OCD. Loves putting everything in neat little organized piles, alphabetically and by color. Passive-aggressive but very trustworthy.

LIBRA:  Social-butterfly, indecisive, airy, and accepting. Values fairness and honor above all else; despises hypocrites!

SCORPIO:  Vindictive, sly, poker-faced, passionate, and wildly intelligent. Do not cross these people as you will regret it!

SAGITTARIUS:  Fun-loving, easy-going, and forgetful. Spontaneous and enthusiastic about life, yet impulsive and often spread themselves too thin.

CAPRICORN:  Introverted, quiet, broody, and hardworking. Struggles with depression if not dedicated to a distinct purpose in life.

AQUARIUS:  Friendly, inventive, extroverted, and emotionally detached. Fiercely independent and unpredictable. Values freedom above all else.

PISCES:  Giving, empathetic, shy, and deeply emotional. These people feel every emotion down to their very core, and are usually very spiritual.

So these are obviously the generic traits of each sign, as any good astrology book will go much deeper. But it gives you an idea, and hopefully a jumping off point as far as where to take your own characters. I like to play around with the different signs as a challenge to myself to see if I can accomplish the personality in my writing. Why not give it a shot yourself?

I hope this helps you while building your characters! Just know that no one is perfect, and that the flaws are what make our characters memorable and enjoyable to readers. So take the extra time to fully plot out your character’s personality and understand who they will be long before you ever start writing. It will show through in your dialogue and in your descriptions of your character if you truly understand them or not, so get to work!

* * *

Now for an excerpt from Rise of the Notorious…

The letter lay on her black granite kitchen counter, unopened. Madison leaned against the cabinets a few feet away, sipping a glass of mellow red wine as she considered her next course of action.
She knew what it was, had known it the moment it had shown up in her stack of daily mail. A plain white envelope, no return address, her own name and address in plain black font.
Within an hour of receiving it, she had tucked it inside her purse and left the hotel as discreetly as possible. Grant had been trying to reach her all day, but she just wasn’t in the mood to discuss Shaw. Especially not now, not when she had a fresh threat sitting before her, eager to be read.
Part of her seriously considered tossing it in the red hot flames of her fireplace. The contents couldn’t hurt her then, couldn’t anger her. But her shameless curiosity and morbid nature wouldn’t give her the nerve to destroy the letter. No, she was going to read it.
It was just a matter of when.
She continued to stare at it, letting the wine smooth out some of her anger and anxiety. The first letter had thus far turned into nothing, so there was no reason to believe this one would be any more destructive.
Just do it, she ordered herself, setting her wine aside and grabbing the envelope. She tore it open hastily, unearthing the paper within and unfolding it.
She shut her eyes for a brief, careful moment, then opened them to read.

When the Queen’s courage blinds her, she does not notice the blood at her feet.

Her breath held frozen in her lungs as she processed the words, yet again type-written in simple, black font. The fear skittering beneath the surface of her skin annoyed her, but she couldn’t avoid it. This letter was decidedly more threatening than the last had been.
Perhaps not to her, but certainly to those whose blood this person suggested would pool at her feet.
Did they mean her family? Her brothers?
The thought sickened her, a coldness settling over her entire body until she shuddered from it. Setting the letter aside, she lifted her glass of wine to her lips and attempted to quell the nausea now swimming in her stomach.
Who was this person, and just what were they trying to do? Scare her?
If they were, then she wasn’t going to give them the satisfaction of a surrender. It was still a faceless, nameless threat. If he or she was coward enough to resort to sending ominous written messages, then what danger could they really pose to her?
But it was the terrified uncertainty of it that still kicked her in the ribs and ached deep within. She couldn’t ignore the letters any more than she could address them. Both would be foolish acts, and both could provoke only further threats, or even an attack.
For now, it would be best to keep the letters a secret and pray that they were nothing more than wasted paper.
Her cell phone suddenly began to ring, the ringtone oddly suited for the moment.
Here comes the rain again…
She checked the caller ID out of habit, and as she did so she instinctively began to ignore the call. But something stopped her, some urgent, driving need that she couldn’t shake.
It had her accepting the call and numbly lifting the phone to her ear.
“Hello, darling.” She tried to put some measure of confidence into her voice, but knew she failed miserably. Her fear failed her, and she could tell by his initial silence that he noticed it.
What’s wrong?” Wyatt asked sharply. She heard him shuffle around, probably rising from where he had been laying in bed.
“Nothing’s wrong,” she answered, even as her eyes automatically shot to the letter, still lying open on the counter. As she took a sip of her wine, her hand trembled once.
I’m coming over.”
“Don’t,” she ordered, though she was suddenly overcome by an intense, conflicting desire to see him. Damn him for opening her up to this urgency again, this reliance that was ridiculously unhealthy for her sanity. She said the next words more as a confirmation for herself than for him. “I don’t need you.”
I never said you needed me, sweetheart,” Wyatt shot back. “I know you’re more than capable of handling yourself. However, you sound upset, something I’m not used to hearing so I would really like to come over and see for myself that you are okay.”
“I was just going to bed.”
Liar,” he replied, though she could hear the affection in his voice. “I called you to see if you wanted to get dinner with me tomorrow.”
“I’m very busy,” she said without thinking, her response mechanical, without feeling. But when she heard him laugh, as though he had completely expected that answer, she inhaled deeply and tried again. “You can pick me up at eight.”
Before he could reply, she hung up and held her cell phone to her lips, her eyes fluttering closed as she let out a long, troubled breath.
“I still love you, you bastard,” she whispered, her heart exploding to bloody pieces within her chest as she felt tears spring into her eyes. Tossing the phone aside, she grabbed her wine and fled her kitchen.
Tomorrow was a new day.
* * *
Rise of the Notorious
By International Bestselling Author
Katie Jennings
Coming April 23, 2013

Click HERE to Enter the Giveaway!

* * *
Meet Katie Jennings…

International Bestselling Author Katie Jennings is the author of six full length novels, including the popular fantasy series The Dryad Quartet as well as the bestselling family drama series The Vasser Legacy.

She lives in sunny Southern California with her husband and cat, who both think she’s the biggest nerd ever. She’s a firm believer in happy endings and loves nothing more than a great romance novel.

You can find out more about Katie on her official website,