The Sidekick


Best FriendsThe sidekick.  The best friend.  The partner in crime.  The Conscience.  The angel and devil on the other end of your phone call.

Whatever you call it, everyone needs one of those friends you can say anything to, and get an honest opinion from.  Someone you can hang out with, someone who will support you even when you are being stupid, someone who will tell you when you are being ridiculous.  I have a couple.

So why is it so hard for me to put those characters in my books?  I am very bad at being focused on my main two characters, who are busy falling in love and moving toward that happily-ever-after.  If there are other characters, they are ancillary at best, simply characters who appear because some plot twist needs to be advances.  There might be a villain (there is always a villain in my stories) but that’s not what I’m talking about.

Why is it so hard to write in that best friend?  In writing terms, that extra character can really provide some conflict and movement in a story.  No one lives in a vacuum that includes only themselves.  There is interaction everywhere.  Why do we only see occasional entrances with very quick exits from these ancillary characters?  I often have to remind myself to go back in and add some more people, and to build a “best friend” or at least a sister or family member that is going to show up regularly in the story.  The lack of doing so is what I feel is one of my major flaws as a story-teller.

How do you handle the side-kick in your novels?  Do you feel that character is important, and if so, what role do you see them playing?  Do you have any tips for me to get these people in my stories regularly?  It is definitely something I struggle with!

 

Wildfires, Monsoons, and Mojitos


This blog post is part of the Authors of Wild Rose Press Summer Treats and Reads Blog Hop! There is a Kindle Fire giveaway (see end of post!).

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Wildfires, Monsoons, and Mojitos

I work, live, and create in Colorado.  Most people think that means I must live on the top of a mountain somewhere, and it snows year-round.

But Colorado is a diverse place.  I live at “altitude,” but not in the mountains.  Most of Colorado is higher than 3500 feet above sea level.  My town sits at 4,987 feet above sea level.  But the mountains, or at least the start of the foothills, are some 10 miles west of my town, and the highest peaks are 50 miles away or more.  I live in what is considered the “high plains,” but the mountains are pretty much in my back yard.  And I have been here five years, and have yet to see snow earlier than the first weekend of October, or later than Memorial Day.

Okay, so yeah, it can snow here into near-summer.  But like many areas of the country, our climate has its extremes.  When summer finally comes, we bake under a merciless sun.  And that whole thing about thin air and being closer to the sun?  That is all true.  Sunburns can happen in January.  I know, I’ve gotten a sunburn in January.

We’ve had several over-100-degree-days this summer, and I don’t care where you live, whether the air is dry or not, 100 is hot.  HOT. And with hot, dry air, and a blazing sun, and crazy pop-up high-based thunderstorms with lightning, we get fires.  Hot, scorching, mountain-burning fires that go for days.  This year, we have had several fires, and two are still burning madly, gobbling up thousands of acres of pine trees and brush.  Many of us are hoping desperately for an early monsoon season.  Monsoon here is when we get Pacific moisture moving up from the south, mixing with wind from the mountains, which creates intense bursts of rain that raise the humidity but also keep the ground wet.  Wet ground = no more fires.

But in the meantime, we are all looking for ways to stay cool.  Many Coloradans head uphill, into the moutains, where temperatures are 30-40 degrees cooler. That cool air comes with a nice breeze, but a warm sun.  It’s as close to heaven as one can come!  But if I can’t go uphill, then I look for shade.  In a dry climate such as ours, finding a nice tree to lounge under can make all the difference.  Add in a cool, refreshing drink, and suddenly that 100 degrees doesn’t feel so bad. I am blessed to have a shady yard, and pretty flower gardens, so hanging out in my favorite wicker chair in the back yard with a tasty drink in one hand and a great summer read in the other is one of the most relaxing things I can do.  And my favorite drink?  My own personal take on a mojito!

Susabelle’s Perfectly Cool Mojito

  • 10-12 mint leaves
  • 1/2 lime, cut in wedges
  • 4 slices cucumber (about 1/4 inch thick)
  • 1/2 cup club soda
  • 1 1/2 ounces rum (I only use Bacardi Gold)
  • Ice

In a bowl or deep glass, place the mint, limes, and cucumber.  Mash vigorously with the end of a knife handle or wooden spoon to macerate and remove the juices.  Strain this mixture into a glass, being sure to press all those juices into your glass. Add the rum, club soda, and as much ice as you’d like.  Stir well.  Garnish with a lime wedge, cucumber slice, and mint sprig.  Enjoy!

(Mojitos are versatile and can be made with any number of cool summer ingredients. The only requirement is mint, lime, and rum. I’ve used melon – honeydew or watermelon – and berries as well! Experiment!)


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Bookiversary and a Kick in the Pants


In all the hubbub of the Wedding That Never Was and having a house full of guests for the last four weeks, I missed my Bookiversary!  June 5, 2015, Fairest of the Faire was released to an unsuspecting public by my publisher, The Wild Rose Press.  Millions, er hundreds, er, dozens were sold.  Well, not that many dozens.  Like two dozen.

I didn’t really expect more than that, though.  First books are a hard sell.  It takes a few books to build a solid readership.  It can be the best book in the world, that first one, but there are a lot of books out there, and a lot of choices, and that’s just the way it is.  There are a whole lot of Susabelle Kelmers out there, and not that many Stephen Kings and Neil Gaimans.  Not that I’d EVER put myself in that second category!

I’m badly in need of a kick in the pants to get going and finish that second book.  I can blame my lack of production on a lot of things, starting with work, family obligations, taking care of a house and a garden, etc.  And those things do get in the way, but there are still moments that I could use more effectively.  I never seem to be able to find the time to write, or the time to read.  A woefully tall stack of novels sits in my closet waiting to be read, while their smaller stack on my nightstand whine pitifully at me when I try to sleep.  Just last night, I finally picked up the Mary Jane’s Farm magazine I bought before Easter and read the first 30 pages or so.  They are talking about naturally dying Easter eggs, and the best chicks to buy for your newly-built henhouse.  Chick season is long gone, and I won’t be coloring any boiled eggs for quite some time.

Today is July 2nd, and yesterday started Camp Nano, an offshoot of NaNoWriMo, and I’m going to be punching that keyboard and trying to get my novel finished.  I’ve set a modest 20K-word goal for the month, but it sure would be nice to end up with a finished rough draft.  So I’m going to be pushing myself, and hoping that some of my writer friends can poke me and prod me and remind me of my priorities.  I need to get back on the writing train, focus my energies better, and write that story I know I have inside me.

Feel free to hit me with your nagging, ideas for keeping on track, and anything else you think might help me. 🙂