Indie Author Spotlight #11: Character Development – A Guest Post by Victoria Jayne

Indie Author SpotlightToday’s Indie Author Spotlight takes a different format than the interviews I’ve been featuring here. I’m excited to share today a guest post from indie author Victoria Jayne, in which she shares with us some of her thoughts on character development. It’s fascinating to me to learn how different authors approach getting to know their characters, and to see the effort put into developing convincing characters. As a reader and an editor, I appreciate Victoria’s comments about really knowing your characters, even though every detail of their backstories won’t make it into the book. I learned about some interesting character development resources, and I hope you will, too!

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Victoria Jayne writes paranormal romance – the third book in her Prophecy Trilogy releases in September! – and is currently working on a contemporary romance series. Growing up on the Jersey Shore (like me!), Victoria was an insatiable reader. She adored getting lost in the worlds others created for her. Writers from R.L. Stein and S.E. Hinton to Anne Rice and Elisabeth Naughton spawned her love affair with both the romance genre and the world of the supernatural.

Victoria started writing as a hobby while still in high school. Now her days are spent writing and enjoying time with her husband and her two children. She still lives in New Jersey. She is a New Jersey Devils Hockey fan, an avid SecondLife Roleplayer, and a Netflix binge-watcher.

 
On Character Development, by Victoria Jayne:

Where do your characters come from? Are your characters based off people you know? How do you create characters? If you’re a writer and have informed people of this, I haven’t a doubt in my mind you’ve gotten these questions, or some variant of them. Character creation is the true magic of being a storyteller. Conjuring someone in my mind and then conveying that person so well they become living and breathing in the minds of another person is the reason I write. It’s an indescribable high that I chase with each story I write.

I’m going to lift the veil slightly by describing how I come up with my characters. By sharing how I come up with characters I hope it helps all you writers out there struggling to either develop or add depth to your own. For me, character comes before the story. Someone takes hold of my mind, commands my attention, and starts sharing things about themselves with me. As I learn more about this fictional person, a plot develops and thus a story is born. See, magic!

I’m a very visual person. When I have the urge to write but nothing is coming to me, I scroll through some visual outlets and wait until someone grabs me. I follow a few photographers on Facebook and Instagram; Michael Stokes posts some stunning photos that have tickled my brain. I’ve also used Shutterstock once I have a basic idea of what sort of genre I’m looking to write in. While planning The Witch of the Prophecy I utilized Pinterest a lot. My character boards were filled with images of the particular people who inspired my characters, and also of cultures. Divina Bihari, the main character of this book, is a witch. In my mind, she was of Romani descent. I dug into this a bit and my Pinterest board had images of Romani women, their cultural clothing, and the wooden vardos they were known to reside in.

Another way I got into the mindset of Divina, to learn how she thinks, and what motivates her was by searching story starters. Some of the story starters available are quotes, things people say. I was drawn to snarky comments that held a bit of sass. AFakeRedHead.com had a lot of writing prompts that shaped Divina.

Another strategy I utilized when shaping characters is filling out character development sheets. You can find dozens of these sheets by simply googling “character development sheets.” I believe these are commonly used for roleplay games such as Dungeons and Dragons. One that I utilize is available on https://www.writerswrite.co.za/ . It’s from their blog post dated March 19, 2017 titled: Character Interview – A Worksheet for Beginners.

The final thing I do when developing my characters is participate in a Twitter hashtag conversation. #WriterlyWIPChat is a beautiful resource that allows you to think about your character in ways that will shape them. They ask you questions about your character like their favorite color, favorite band, song, etc. Some of the questions get a bit more personal like “who will your character kiss?” Not only is this fun and gets you involved in the writing community out there, it also helps you to get closer to your characters. Collecting details about my characters makes them more real to me. When I learn about their quirks, discovering who doesn’t take the time to match their socks versus who meticulous pairs and rolls their socks in their dresser, can shape how I convey this character in the story. Every detail you list or learn about your character doesn’t make it into the story. There are some things that just don’t fit into the story. Though, sometimes, things that you never thought of will find their way in there. By adding depth to your characters, it allows your readers to connect with not only the character, but their plight, and the story you are telling. Dynamic characters will never let you down. They will engage your reader for sure!

Find Victoria Jayne:                                                                                       

Website:  https://www.authorvictoriajayne.com/                                           

Twitter and Instagram: @AuthorVictoriaJ

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/18610623.Victoria_Jayne

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/victoria-jayne.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorVictoriaJayne/

Find Victoria’s books at Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Amazon, Google Play, and iBooks.

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Would you like to be featured, too? Please contact me at kristin@theedifyingword.com!

Indie Author Spotlight: T. A. Hernandez

Indie Author SpotlightAnd we’re back for week four of Indie Author Spotlight by The Edifying Word, which is super exciting because when I hatched this idea I really had no idea whether anyone would take me up on it! I originally had ten, and the roster is growing so we’ll just keep on going. Today’s Spotlight is T. A. Hernandez, whose most recent release I reviewed here on the blog last year. She writes speculative fiction, which includes a whole host of things like fantasy, science fiction, paranormal, dystopian, and more. 

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TAHernandez.jpgI met T. A. Hernandez on Twitter (yup, you’re noticing a trend, aren’t you?) when I agreed to participate in her cover reveal for Calico Thunder Rides Again. I enjoy following her because her tweets are usually upbeat, I can identify with her as a mom, and I LOVE that she shares her writing-related artwork! Calico Thunder Rides Again is a fun read, and I’m looking forward to her next releases (more about that below). Check out her website for more info on all her books and some free stories! 

Please tell us about how you got started writing, and why you continue. 

I started writing when I was a kid, maybe ten or eleven years old. I was a voracious reader and just wanted to tell stories like the ones in the books I loved so much. I started to take it more seriously as a teenager and realized then that this writing thing was something I was really passionate about and wanted to pursue long-term. 

Still today, I write first and foremost because I love it. I love stories and it brings me a lot of joy to let my imagination run wild and record my stories for myself. But it’s also a lot of fun to share those stories with others, which is why I decided to go ahead and publish them. Writing is a big part of my self-care and mental/emotional well-being. I’ve always been a very creative person, and I have to be doing something with that creativity to feel like my life is fulfilling.

You make your own FABULOUS book covers – is art another of your creative outlets? 

I love art and have been drawing for even longer than I’ve been writing. I got into digital art about nine years ago and have really enjoyed doing that, as well as branching out into graphic design and other related things. The graphic design skills I’ve picked up have come in super handy as an indie author when it comes to things like making my own social media and promotional graphics as well as designing my own book covers. I also enjoy playing video games and take a lot of my writing inspiration from games. Some of my favorites are the Mass Effect series, The Last of Us, Horizon Zero Dawn, and Portal.

Can you tell us a little about your books? 

Right now I have four novels out. The first three belong to a new adult dystopian thriller trilogy called Secrets of PEACE, which follows a skilled but inexperienced young assassin named Zira who works for the authoritarian government. The other book, Calico Thunder Rides Again, is a fantasy novel set on a magical travelling circus in an alternate Prohibition-era America. The circus owner, Jake, finds himself indebted to some dangerous mobsters and has to find a way to repay them on a tight deadline.

What about your current work? I’m enjoying the artwork teasers!

I’m currently in the process of drafting the first book of a YA fantasy duology, which is told from the perspective of three main characters: Amar, Kesari, and Aleida. Amar is a man who seems to be immortal, but he doesn’t remember anything about his past and wants to figure out exactly what’s happening to him. Then there’s Kesari, a girl who traded part of her life for magical powers she now refuses to use. And finally, we have Aleida, a young refugee woman desperately trying to save her younger brother from a debilitating illness before it takes his life. When their paths intersect, they encounter new conflicts and are forced to face the darkest parts of themselves in order to get what they want. It’s a story that’s been floating around in my head for more than a decade, so I’m really excited to finally share it with readers.

You’ve said you write because you are passionate about it, which makes sense because it certainly doesn’t seem like you have loads of spare time for pursuing it. How do you fit it in? 

I have two kids, ages 6 and 9. I also work part-time as a therapist, and a year ago, I was a full-time graduate student doing a part-time internship and just trying to keep my head above water with all the responsibilities I had to juggle. So I’ve definitely had to learn to balance my time and fit writing in whenever I can. It’s not always easy, but as I said, writing is such an important part of my own mental health and self-care that I just have to make it work. Maybe that means I give up some of the time I’d spend watching TV or playing video games, or maybe it means I do a lot of my writing late at night when the kids are asleep. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not a great housekeeper and have often put off whatever chores I could to write instead, but it makes me a happier, healthier person overall, and that helps me be a better mom, so I don’t feel too bad about it. My husband is also a huge support. Because he works full-time, I’ve been able to work part-time, and that leaves me with some time to write that I might not have otherwise. He’ll also take the kids out on his own sometimes so that I can just be alone at home and focus on my writing.

It’s so interesting to me to hear what authors read in their downtime so I’ve been asking everyone I feature here to share some favorites (which, honestly, is something I’d have a hard time doing). Do you have any favorites?

I love reading speculative fiction just as much as I love writing it, and I like to read across a variety of genres under that umbrella. Some of my favorite books are The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien, Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones, the Tales of the Wendy series by Erin Michelle Sky and Steven Brown, the Ziva Payvan series by EJ Fisch, and the His Dark Materials books by Phillip Pullman.

What do you hope to achieve as an author?

I have a lot of different author dreams, some of which I’ve already achieved (selling a short story to a publisher, self-publishing a novel, receiving a positive review from an author whose work I greatly admire) and some of which I’m still working on. My overall goal is to reach as many readers as possible with my stories and to just keep getting better as a writer. And I’d love to eventually make enough money from my books to supplement my existing income in a more substantial way.

Thank you so much for participating here. Is there anything you’d like to leave with readers? 

I like to think I’m a pretty easy person to talk to, and I love hearing from readers and fellow writers, so if you ever have any questions about me or my writing process or my books or even just books I’ve read, please don’t hesitate to reach out. I especially love hearing about readers’ reactions to my stories and characters. I also love to connect with and support other indie authors, so if you’re an indie author or if you have a favorite indie book you want to recommend, definitely let me know.

All right, friends! Please visit T. A. Hernandez at her website, or on social media, and maybe buy her books!

Website: www.tahernandez.com
Book links: https://books2read.com/ap/n9bBBK/T-A-Hernandez
Twitter: @ta_hernandez5
Instagram: @ta_hernandez5

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Would you like to be featured, too? Please contact me at kristin@theedifyingword.com!