About Me

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I love being a mom and a wife. I've married to a man I would do anything for, and we have three beautiful children. I see so much of myself in both of them that it sometimes brings me to tears (happy ones).

I also love writing. Romance to be specific. I love the happily ever after that I believe everyone deserves. My stories aren't 'stop and smell the roses' type romances. While I believe everyone deserves happiness and true love, I know that sometimes you have to walk a hard road to find it. Those are the types of stories I like to write. The happily ever after that wasn't found, but earned. I work to earn mine on a daily basis and so do my characters. 

I am also working on a children's picture book series. Inspired (of course) by my kiddos. :)

On the non-writing front, I play acoustic guitar, sing, read like I get paid for it, ride horses, hike, paint rocks, and support a rather obsessive addiction to Pinterest.

I love to cook, which combined with my pinning addiction, leads to many experiments foisted on my unsuspecting husband and kids, mostly with good results. But sometimes, the dogs gets what the family refuses to eat. And they never complain. 

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Getting To Know Your Characters - Thursdays with the Author - September 24, 2015

True statement. 

Coming up with a general idea for a character, and how they fit into a story, is easy. 

Going into details and fitting all those pieces together, now THAT'S hard. 

There are TONS of sites you can go to and find character charts and questionnaires to fill out for each character. I tried this with the characters in my Irish Treasures Saga. There were so many characters, spread through each book, that I felt like I had to put them down on paper individually. 

Especially in a series, with multiple characters making appearances in all the books, it's VERY easy to start merging character traits and mannerisms with other characters.

Your women might start to lift an eyebrow the same way. Your men might clench their jaw in the same expression of frustration. The way they speak, joke, move, might start to blur. It is VERY important to make sure your characters stay INDIVIDUALS. Each person has a voice, their own mannerisms, and quirks. You don't want to get those mixed up with another character. Believe me, your readers WILL notice.

So how do you keep your character's individuality throughout your book or books?

Make a character chart for each main character.

Start with the basics.

- Name
* Full name

- Date/Location of birth

- Language(s)
* Include dialect, slurs, speech impediments, accents, etc.

- Location

- Sexuality/Relationship status

- Get physical
*height, weight, skin color/tone, eye color, hair color/style/texture, glasses/contacts, braces/retainer
You need to know these things to be able to describe well.

- Get really physical
Not everyone is has a body like a god/goddess.
*Chest size (for women) 
They aren't all perky double D's. Actually, hardly anyone is perky after an A cup unless they're fake. ;)
*Muscles (for men) 
This takes work; men don't have sculpted abs and fearsome biceps without a lot of hard work.
This is more believable.
This is very common.
*If you're writing anything with adult scenes you need to know your character's attributes below-the-belt as well.
Not every man is well endowed. Not every woman is a model under her clothes.

- Get in their head
* Mental State
Optimist or Pessimist? High strung, mellow, a little bit of both? Racing thoughts? Go-to sarcasm? Dry humor? Depressed? Low self-esteem? Full of themselves?
We all know why Bruce Wayne was afraid of bats.
Religious? Atheist? Agnostic? Non-committal? Pagan?

- Everybody has a quirk
(or multiple quirks) the list is practically endless.
* Lift an eyebrow? 
Think Angelina Jolie, David Tennant, The Rock, Vivien frickin' Leigh
* Foot tapper?
* Nail biter?
*Teeth grinder/jaw clencher
*Nervous speaker
*Obsessive Compulsive
*Angry outbursts
*Mouth like a sailor

- Plan for the future
Everybody has goals, short and long-term.
*Save for a new car or a house
*Get married and start a family
*Get a paycheck every week to pay the bills
*Get to Friday
*Start a business
*Get a degree

- Home life
Modern? Expensive? Whatever's cheap? Vintage?

- Attire
*Expensive tastes? Runway fashion? Comfort clothes? Dresses/Skirts? Suit and tie? Jeans and flannels? Western attire?

- Habits
*Everyday habits
Wake up at the same time, brushes teeth for five minutes, 2 cups of coffee before work, same cereal for breakfast, 30 minute shower, stomach sleeper, couch potato, etc.
*Bad habits
cigarettes, e-cig/vape, cigars, drinker, fast-food junkie, shop-a-holic, big spender, credit cards, etc.

- The past is the past. Except YOU need to know it.
crushes, old flames, exes
On good terms? Don't speak? Very close? Sees once a year?
Major accident or trauma? Death of a loved one? Abused? 

- Transportation
* Car, truck, bus, train, airplane, walker, bike, motorcycle?

- Career
* Current career
Do they love it or hate it? 
*Preferred career
What do they want to do in the future?

- Likes/Favorites
*Location/Vacation spot
*Curse Word/Phrase

- Skills/Talents
*Play an instrument, sports talent, genius, artist, writer, singer, dancer?

Now these are just the basics when it comes to figuring out your characters. But how do you put it into practice?

When you write a character, you're creating a living, breathing person... in your head. You have to imagine him or her like they were standing next to you. 

If your hero was your husband or wife, what kind of things would you notice? Think of your own significant other. What are some of the more prominent traits and mannerisms that come to your head. Write that down.

For the character that's the same sex as yourself, if you were that character, what things would you want other people to notice, attribute to who you are? What makes you unique? Write that down.

For your girl friend, best friend, childhood friend, co-workers, family, etc. Picture the ones in your life. What do you notice? Write it down.

You have to imagine these characters in everyday life. What would they do? How would they react. How do they make you laugh, cry, love? Those are the most important thing to know about your characters while you write.

Need inspiration? Go to the store, Starbucks, a park. Try to observe the people around you (without looking like a creep). See how they interact with others. Do they talk to themselves? Laugh a lot? Snort? Smile non-stop? Use those things as inspiration and your book won't feel like a book, it will feel real.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Using Pinterest as an Author Platform - Thursdays with the Author


One word and you're already expecting to get lost pinning hundreds of ideas for hours at a time. 
It's that addicting. 

So why aren't more authors using it?
Maybe because they're getting just as lost as the average pinner?

Pinterest has exploded in the last five years and doesn't seem to be slowing down any time soon. Crafters, moms, wedding planners, DIYers, designers, artists, and even authors, are using the site as a mecca for ideas. Even other social media sites are being used for pins. Just check out my Fan Canon folder and see all the Harry Potter fan canons being pinned from Tumblr. Pins can be seen all over Facebook and Twitter. Most websites now give the option to pin what you've just looked at.

There are over 72 million people that use Pinterest. 72 MILLION. That's a lot of people you could be reaching by using Pinterest as an author platform.

So how do you use it as an author platform?

1) Have Your Author Pinterest Account Separate From Your Personal One.
You've seen this before in my How Social Media Can Help You Become A Better Writer post. On ANY social media site, your personal page and author page should be completely separate. Business vs private. Your readers, your customers, do not want to see your personal drama splashed on every corner of the Internet. It works the same for your author Pinterest account. Avoid the personal pinning: recipes to try, DIY ideas, wedding planning. Unless it directly relates to something you're currently working on, don't pin it. If it is related to what you're working on, separate your pins into boards that make it obvious to your readers...

2) Label Your Boards. Your books, your social media links/contacts, writing tips you want to share, motivation, books you read, authors you recommend, story inspiration, etc. When you create each board and the pins to go in them, remember that your readers and followers will be basing who you are as an author on what you are putting on your page. I have boards titled: My Books, Contact the Author, Writer's Ramblings Blog, Guest Blog Posts, Who Would Play My Characters, Writing Blogs and Websites, Marketing Tips, Writing Tips, Motivation, Publishing Tips, and so much more. Each Board has tons of pins on the topic that I, and other authors, can use to become better at our profession.
Side note: Make sure your board cover photo is a good one. You want something easily read and understood as the first thing someone sees on your boards.

3) Organize Your Boards

This is important. There needs to be some type of method to your madness. Your first boards should be about you as an author. The books you have out (pin links to your sales pages), how to contact you, your blog (if you have one, and you should). The next ones should be about writing as a profession: marketing, publishing, writing, motivation, etc. Next: You as a person. What makes you tic? What are your likes and dislikes? Favorite books, quotes, movies, etc. Readers want to know more about you as well as read your books. Next: Story inspirations. Character inspiration, story inspiration, recipes, art, etc. I have boards for Historical Research, Historical Scottish Research, and All Things Irish. IE: Things I write about often.

4) Make The 'About You' section short but memorable. 
Like Twitter, you only get so many words to describe who you are. 'I'm an author' is not enough to hold anybody's attention. Here's mine: I'm an author, wife, mother, blogger, pinning addict, wannabe Betty Crocker, 'zookeeper', and avid reader from Illinois.

5) 'Clean' Your Pins Often
Everybody hates repetition. And broken links. Check your pins often. Make sure you aren't doubling up, using broken links, or using out-dated information.

6) Make Use Of The 'Private Boards'
Most people use these these for dirty jokes they don't want their mom to see. You can use this for story ideas you don't want to give away, dirty jokes ;), things that have nothing to do with writing, etc. Things that make you look unprofessional as an author, but normal as a person, should go in your private boards.

7) Find and Pin Other Authors
In the author's world, the phrase 'You scratch my back, I'll scratch yours.' seems to be an unspoken motto. Writing and publishing, especially in the self-published and indie-published world, is NOT a cut-throat business. Authors will go out of their way to help someone out. Use this to your (and their) advantage. Pin other authors, other author's books, other author's writing tips, other author's blogs, etc. Follow their boards, or their page. You'll find that they'll return the favor AND bring in new readers/fans from their own pages.

I cannot stress the importance of this one enough. Authors, writers, publishers, readers, fans: EVERYONE HATES SPAM. Don't use your Pinterest account as a diving board for jumping on top of everyone. Post your blog, post your books, but LEAVE IT AT THAT. Pinterest isn't going to sell your books for you. But Pinterest CAN sell you as an author, writer, and otherwise, pretty cool person. It will lead back to book sales eventually, but that's not the goal in creating an author platform via Pinterest. Gaining interest in YOU is the goal.

You can check out my Pinterest page here: AuthorAMeredith 

Now that you've got some great tips on using Pinterest as an author platform, get out there and START PINNING! :)