Thanks

It’s a little late, but I’m still in the spirit of Thanksgiving. This year I’m thankful for Jennifer Lawler and Crimson Romance for taking a chance on Winter Fairy. I’ve learned a tremendous amount about both the editing process and what it takes to get a book to consumers.  My unpublished manuscripts are becoming better as I apply the lessons learned to their rough-hewn words.

I’m thankful for being part of the Crimson Sisterhood. Writers are a strange bunch in that we don’t view each other as competitors but tend to serve as each other’s cheerleaders.  My fellow Crimson Romance authors have become dear friends and I can’t wait to see us all on the best seller lists.

I’m thankful for my readers. Your kind words for Winter Fairy envelop me in a warm embrace.  I’ll offer you a virtual one now (hugs). More than one reader has asked for more of Penelope, Carson and Eloise, saying they weren’t ready to say goodbye to them.  That is the highest praise an author can receive.  You’ve inspired me to write a second book featuring another member of the Glazier family.

If you haven’t discovered Winter Fairy yet, now is the perfect time to grab a cup of coffee, a slice of cheesecake and your preferred reader. But before you do, I’d love to know what characters have stuck with you after you finished the book?

Recuperating ballerina Penelope Glazier can enchant the young girls in her Fairy Dreams class, but will her winter magic work on Carson Langley, the sexy but straight-laced single father of her most talented student?

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Finding a name

A fan of Winter Fairy asked “How did you come up with the name Eloise?” Turns out her granddaughter shares the same name as the temperamental daughter of my hero, Carson.  Taken off guard by her question, I told her the name must have been bouncing around in my head, perhaps because of Kay Thompson’s children’s book, Eloise.  In truth, there was more to the process.

When I’m lucky, my characters tell me their names.  Sometimes the names come in dreams, but more often one character reveals the name of another through a line of dialogue.  I appreciate these helpful characters. They are a nice contrast to the stubborn ones.  The heroine of one work in progress, a first person point of view, didn’t tell me her name until page twenty-five.  She still refuses to tell me her last name except to say it is French and not the same as her father’s.

I could say the names come to me from the ether, but I admit I spend a lot of time perusing baby name sites, particularly when I want a name with a certain meaning or evocative of a specific place.  My favorite website is the Social Security Popular Baby Names.  I love clicking through individual years and decades to see the trends.  You can learn a lot about demographics, immigration and the rise of individualism as you look at data going back over 100 years.  Surprisingly, the name Unique is not all that unique since it cracks the top 1000 names more years than not in the twenty-first century.  I refer to this site often for children and secondary characters.  For older characters, I look at the top names for their generation. For children, I consider who the parents are and what they would pick.  Carson and Catherine wanted a traditional name, but not one of the trendier ones. Eloise fell in the middle of the pack, but sounded similar to some other more popular names like Emily.

Through these multiple information streams, Eloise was born. Or more accurately, named.  The origin of the name Carson is easier to explain.  I wrote during football season. When neither the Jets nor Bears played, the Bengals were on by default.

Where do you find your naming inspiration? Have you ever had a strong reaction positive or negative to a character based on name?

Meet the Ladies in Red: Lola Karns

1. Introduce yourself, please. Hi and thank you for having me. I write as Lola Karns. My given name is tricky to pronounce and I wanted to make it easy for my readers to recommend me to their friends.  I adapted this name to honor my grandmothers, two strong women whose combined happily ever afters lasted over 120 years.

2. Let’s get the details out of the way:

Single, married, divorced, widowed?  Married for seventeen years and counting. We have two lovely children, a daughter and a son.

Living where? I currently live in Chesapeake which is in a part of Virginia that can’t decide whether to call itself Tidewater, Hampton Roads or Coastal Virginia or the Colonial Coast.

Doing what, other than writing? I chase the kids, volunteer at their schools, pull weeds, feed the cats and occasionally take naps.

One—just one—physical characteristic.  My unpolished fingernails look like I had a French Manicure.

3. What’s your secret passion? Photography.  Most of the food and nature photos on my website are ones I’ve taken myself.

4. Tell us one thing about yourself you’d never change. My curly hair – although I do change it with the help of Miss Clarol.

5. If you didn’t live where you do, where would you live? Why?  I love Chicago but my husband doesn’t so probably the North Georgia Mountains or Scotland or Iceland or….At any rate, I like the idea of living somewhere with hills to hike.

6. Do you write about where you live or where you’d like to live?  I mostly write about the Midwest.  I grew up there. I have a few ideas cooking that take place in the South.

7. What’s the first creative writing you remember doing outside a class? I won a poetry contest when I was nine, but I may have written the poem for school.

8. Why do you write romance novels?  Love is such a big part of the human experience. I’ve long been drawn to the love relationship subplots even in non-romance novels because I believe love is one of the ways we better understand our own sense of self.

9. What else do you write? My WIP is a New Adult featuring cars, a much younger sister, celebrity and farmers.  I’m polishing a romance set in the world of corporate league recreational sports.  In my past working life, I’ve written technical manuals and academic book reviews.

10. What one thing from your book did you take from personal experience?  I performed with an experimental dance group in college. I was never a professional ballerina like Penelope, the heroine of The Winter Fairy,but I drew on my dance background.

11. What did you cut from your book that felt like severing a body part? I had one short scene from five year old Eloise’s point of view.  I loved being in her world view for a little bit.

12. Do you identify closely with one particular character? How? I identify with both the hero Carson and the heroine Penelope in their struggle with the idea of sacrifice in pursuit of a life dream. Most women are well aware of the “career vs. family” debate, but I think it’s a lot more complicated than an either/or for women as well as men.

13. The best part about my writing life is: Do I have to pick just one thing? I love being part of the community of authors.  The Ladies in Red are a terrific group of writers and friends.  Likewise, I look forward to meeting of the Chesapeake Romance Writer for the chance to talk about writing face to face. We tend to think writing as a solitary pursuit but it isn’t really.  We get to interact with each other, with editors, with agents and our readers and fans.  I can’t wait to meet you at a book signing. Oh, yes, portability is important too.

14. The worst part about my writing life is: No doubt it is finding sufficient quiet interruption free time to think.  It’s near impossible for me get enough thinking time during the summer when my children are out of school, so I do most of my writing in the fall and winter. Maybe that’s why I love winter themed books so much.  I hope you’ll enjoy Winter Fairy too.

Thanks for having me here today!

Finding Inspiration

Iceland is not the most obvious place for a writer of contemporary romances set in the heartland to find inspiration, yet now that I’m home, I can’t wait to write.

The disconnect between my vacation location and what I write would be less noticeable if I switched genres.  The eerie expanses of lichen covered lava rocks could easily inspire a sci-fi adventure.  A mystery writer might, figuratively speaking only I hope, bury a body deep in a glacial crevice. Those are not my stories. Nonetheless, I returned home inspired.

The gushing waterfalls, chatty cows outside my hotel, and unfamiliar echoing bird songs gave me a greater appreciation for the sounds surrounding us when we turn off man-made noise. Vacations can offer an opportunity to slow down and appreciate our environs. Whether you are a writer or not, I think we all observe our world in a different way when we are on vacation in part because we know we will have to tell friends and family about what we saw.

As a writer of contemporary romances, I find inspiration abounds when I bring that vacation mindset closer to home. This technique works best when I apply it at inopportune moments.  I have created a manuscript out of an incident with an airsick bag and a baby. Another work in progress stems from a woman wearing four inch heels in a muddy field.

I found inspiration for my September 17th Crimson Romance release, The Winter Fairy, on vacation. At the hotel playground, my then five year old daughter pitched a fit. In the midst of flailing arms and legs, a story was born.  My daughter’s temper has nothing on Eloise, the tantrum prone teeny ballerina who tests her widower father Carson at every turn.  Will her dance teacher Penelope inspire Eloise and Carson to heal their broken hearts?

You can find more that inspires me at www.lolakarns.com, but for now, I want to know what inspires you?