3 Questions Wednesday with You

Our regular 3 Questions Wednesday has met with a last-minute cancellation. So, since you’re here,

Who is your favorite author?

Tell us about your favorite author in the comment section. Or, maybe you’re an author. 3 Questions Wednesday is a wonderful way to promote a new release or even a book that’s been on the shelf a while. We have openings, starting in May!

Whether you’re Indie-published, or traditional, or even a wannabe-published, you can take part in our Wednesday interview.

If you could write about anyone or anything fiction/nonfiction who or what would you write about?

Intriguing, right? Include your answer in the comments.

And about the book:

If you could spend time with a character from your book whom would it be? And what would you do during that day?

Use your imagination on this one. If you don’t have a book written, use a favorite character from your favorite book!

Now, you know what it’s like to take part in our 3 Questions Wednesday interview. What fun!

Want to schedule an interview? Click the “Contact Us” tab near the top of this blog and let us know. Something’s blowing in on the March winds! We have big plans for March. We’re giving away a book with every post! Each Monday and Friday during the entire month of March, you—dear reader—will have the opportunity to win a book. It’s March Madness!

So, keep us on your calendar, and be sure to come back next Wednesday for another 3 Questions Wednesday Interview. It could be your favorite author.

Writing Emotional Scenes

by Rose Allen McCauley

Randy Ingermanson aka “The Snowflake Guy” is the first teacher who started me thinking about the perfect emotional scene—one that makes the reader so identify with the characters that they can’t stop reading!

I’ve been a lifelong reader since the age of five. When I first started writing as an adult, I knew a little about plot and characters, but Randy’s premise is that if your readers can’t relate to your plot and characters it doesn’t matter. Why would they spend time reading about something or someone they can’t identify with? That set me off on a path to find and read as many emotive writers as possible.

This leads us to the first lesson in writing emotional scenes.

Read and study the writers who touch your own heart.

My favorite writer of emotional scenes and characters (along with many other readers!) is Karen Kingsbury. I met her at one of the early ACFW conferences and bought A Time to Embrace (about a marriage about to disintegrate) and the first book of the Redemption series (containing adultery and murder.) Although I didn’t have any personal experience with any of those topics, Karen wrote such believable, flawed characters, often with kind hearts, that I wanted to keep reading about them and rooting for them!

Another author whose characters I can easily relate to is Deb Raney.  Her first book was A Vow to Cherish about a woman with Alzheimer’s whose husband has many decisions to make. Again, I had never faced anything like that, but the love and caring between the husband and wife made me want to keep reading to see how they handled it.

I hate to even try to name other authors out there who write great emotional scenes because there so many of them, and we each have our favorites as well as favorite genres. If you are not sure whom you want to try, I suggest you ask a friend with similar tastes in books or look through a CBD catalog or read the back cover blurb in bookstores or the library or online.

A second lesson in writing emotional scenes is Show instead of Telling. Parts of all books have some telling for smoothness or brevity, so some narration or description is okay.

But, instead of: Mark was angry when he got off the phone with Sharon.

Try this: Mark punched the button to disconnect the call, pulled his arm back and let the phone fly in a pitch that would’ve made Hank Aaron jealous. The phone ricocheted off the couch and clattered to the floor.

“That woman!” he spat out.

A third way to keep the readability factor going is to use foreshadowing to show that something you mention in an earlier chapter is going to factor into a later chapter—just make sure you follow through with that promise!

A great example of this is what literary greats refer to as Chekhov’s Gun: “If in Act One you have a pistol hanging on the wall, then it must fire in the last act.”

Use objects, people, phrases, and even situations to set up your reader for what will eventually become a pay-off if they keep reading.

Great writers are also known for using evocative words to describe the scenery to suggest mystery or danger, so make sure you use all of the senses and keep editing until you find the perfect words to describe each scene or character.

Another way to keep your readers reading is to make characters have to decide between two, or more hard choices. We’ve all had to do that in real life, and so can sympathize with the character who has to make a hard decision—often one that is going to affect someone they care about.

Most of us like characters we can sympathize with, and some people even like characters they can love to hate! We all have different personalities, so keep experimenting until you find characters and writers who keep you coming back for more. To me, the main thing that makes me want to read the same author again is if I keep thinking about the characters after I finish the book, because they have become so real to me! Like the Velveteen Rabbit! I think that is the reason many of us love series.

I once read that Elmore Leonard wrote,  “Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.” I hope my thoughts will help you do that by using some of these tips to write emotionally charged scenes.  And if you are like me, you will find it is a lifelong pursuit!

Here’s a writing prompt in case you want to try to add some of these tools to your writing box:

Pretend you are writing the follow-up book to Where the Red Fern Grows, or Charlotte’s Web. Write the opening paragraph in a way that grabs your reader by the emotions. Feel free to share your work in the comments below. 

Click to Tweet: Most of us like characters we can sympathize with, and some people even like characters they can love to hate. Writing Emotional Scenes via @InspiredPrompt #amwriting #writingtips

Giving a Heartbeat to Your Characters

By Tammy J. Trail

Have you ever heard the expression, “he/she is such a character?” That means whomever they are talking about is a person worthy of remembrance for their larger than life personality. Most often that person has a great sense of humor. I tend to remember folks that make me laugh, don’t you?

In fiction writing, the characters in your manuscript are helping you tell the story. You want your readers to become so enamored they can’t put your book down as they experience a life through that of your characters. This focus on creating a cast of players in your story is called “characterization.” It goes beyond eye, and hair color, age or gender. Although those features are important, it doesn’t really make your reader care about the hero or heroine.

Doing a profile is helpful in developing your character’s personality traits. Consider how your heroine reacts emotionally as you plot your story. How does she react to disappointment, anger, or sadness? Does she eat ice cream when she is stressed? Or perhaps she breaks out in hives when under pressure? These are the types of traits that make our characters more human and not just paper people.

One of the traits I gave my hero is rocking back and forth on the balls of his feet when he becomes impatient. He is a military man, and you could just see this as a normal behavior for someone who is an officer in the Army. Looking at your characters through the lens of a camera, as if they were in a movie helps to incorporate mannerisms; such as biting one lip when caught in a lie. Or the wringing of hands to show worry.

Consider likes and dislikes, incorporate them into your story. Do they have a loving family, or do they come from a dysfunctional background? Do they get along well with others? Do they have hobbies? Do they have a gift of music, sports or crafting? If you think about it our preferences make us who we are whether we want them to or not.

Another great tool of characterization is giving your hero/heroine a goal. What motivates them to reach this goal? How will they grow personally if they meet the goal, or how will they react if they don’t reach it? Our characters need to meet expectations, either imposed by someone else, or from within.

When writing Christian fiction your characters my go through a spiritual growth. My heroine lost someone she loved and became angry at God. If God is all knowing why didn’t He stop her fiance from being impressed into the British Navy and leaving her to become an old maid by societies standards? Though her fiance did not die, she lost him to a force larger than they could defeat.

Elaine’s journey is finding that God was always with her and knew better what she needed in life. Isn’t that true for all of us?

Two sources that helped me with my characterization:

Goal, Motivation and Conflict, by Debra Dixon.

The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expressions, by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi


Writing Prompt: Describe your perfect day with your favorite character from a book.

Click to Tweet: In fiction writing, the characters in your manuscript are helping you tell the story. 

3 Questions Wednesday with Kristen Hogrefe

Author Kristen Hogrefe

Welcome back to 3 Questions Wednesday, Kristen Hogrefe! This is an exciting and very busy week for Kristen, as her third book in The Rogues Trilogy released yesterday! Congratulations, Kristen.

Let’s see how she answers our three questions—

Who is your favorite author?

Kristen: Limiting myself to just one is nearly impossible, because I enjoy so many genres, but I consider Elisabeth Elliot one of my spiritual mentors. Her books, including Keep a Quiet Heart and Let Me Be a Woman, are ones I re-read.

If you could write about anyone or anything fiction/nonfiction who or what would you write about?

Kristen: One day, I hope I’ll have the ability to research and write either a non-fiction or fictionalized account of my Uncle Billy’s story. I never met him, because he died in Colombia as a child, but through his childlike witness to the people group my missionary grandparents were reaching, many came to know Christ. My mom tells me that on his grave, a church was built. I think there’s a powerful story to tell, but I don’t know if I can do it justice. One day, I hope to be brave enough to try.

If you could spend time with a character from your book whom would it be? And what would you do during that day?

Kristen: I actually did have the opportunity to spend a full two weeks with a “character” from my book! At the very end of the story while Portia heals in Orvieto, she stays with an Italian woman named Maria who teaches her about Italian culture and serves as her guide. My real-life Italian friend and colleague Maria Constantine traveled with me to Italy so I could research the settings in The Reactionary. We spent several days in a lovely Air B&B in Orvieto. There, she taught me some Italian phrases and ultimately gifted me with a deep appreciation and love for Italy as we explored the city and surrounding areas. You can read more about some of our adventures on my blog at KristenHogrefe.com.

Kristen Hogrefe is an award-winning author and life-long learner. Her books include The Rogues trilogy and Wings of the Dawn trilogy, and she also enjoys speaking events that allow her to connect with students, readers, and other writers. A Florida girl at heart, she says yes to most adventures involving sunshine. Connect with her online at KristenHogrefe.com.


The Reactionary

The Reactionary by Kristen Hogrefe

Three friends. One broken world. One chance to make it right.

Gath survived the satellite explosions, only to encounter one of Felix’s plague initiatives. Somehow, he must recover, re-unify what’s left of their leadership team—and help them find a reason to hope.

Luther devises a diplomatic distraction to buy Portia time for her international mission and him an opportunity to rescue his scientist-father, tricked into operating Felix’s labs. Will he lose them both anyway?

Portia resents that Darius lied about their father, and defying her brother now might secure a much-needed overseas ally. But liberty for all could cost her future with the man she loves and any chance of reuniting her fractured family.