Sometimes, when you’re writing . . . especially when it’s a novel . . . you need to stop and listen. To whom? Your characters! I was stuck the other night. Couldn’t figure what to do for the next scene, (I’m on page 127), when I stopped to think about one of the characters. Who would he talk to? Who did he care about? What would he be thinking about? And bam, it was crystal clear. It really isn’t that hard. If you’re having trouble with one of your characters, just stop and try to figure out who they resemble in your real life. Then imagine a day in that person’s life. Where would they go? Who are their friends? What kind of trouble would they get into — or help someone else out of? If you do that . . . you’ll have a “bam” moment too! Wondering about my characters? Go to http://www.annrichduncan.com. You’ll find The SEED, my novel of suspense, and the first three Johnny Vic historical adventures.
Was watching an old episode of NCIS the other night — one of my favorites, where Special Agent Timothy McGee (a novelist on the side) is being razzed by his co-workers for basing his characters on them. It’s what writers do. Especially novelists. We transform our experiences, and the people we know, into workable scenes. It’s so tempting right now because I work with a Savannah and a Cheyanne. I mean really! What great names! Two beautiful young girls who would make great characters at that! I don’t know Cheyanne’s boy friend, but Savannah’s guy–also at our workplace–is great. One of the characters I’ve been working on is so much like him already, it’s scary. Actually, everybody I work with is a character. It’s like having almost two dozen new little brothers. And there are four Chris’s there, too. Maybe I should put them all in John Victor’s second adventure. Chris could throttle Chrissy while Christy and Chris race to save the day. Not familiar with John Victor? He’s a treasure hunter based on my brother (John Victor) from Alaska. His first adventure, entitled “The SEED” was nominated by a college professor to be on a required reading list for incoming freshmen, (yes, really!) and it was a top-ten finalist in a national contest (as a work in progress long before it was published). Check it out at http://www.annrichduncan.com.
So the other day I was looking at a VanGogh. Well, not the real thing . . . some of his most famous works were in a how-to book about painting. I’ve never really been a fan, until I was told I should study the master’s brush strokes. And pit them against the subject matter. Huh? Well, after a lot of coaxing and coaching, I began to realize his paintings are like the human condition. The subjects? Usually quaint, harmless, peaceful things. The brush strokes? Almost violent—like so many people who seem easy going on the outside, but are quivering with so much on the inside, be it anger, love, excitement, or disappointment. Makes you want to look really close. But, when I look at my work — the writing I mean — I seem to have it in the opposite. Take John Victor’s adventures. Based on murder, greed and devious plots; but, as my hero muddles through the puzzles, you see humor, love, and faith . . . and even some enlightening facts (after all, I love to research the flora, fauna and history of the sites). Mostly typical (but fun) suspense stuff, though. Anyhow, I’m puzzling right now about my nephew Scotty’s trip to Alaska to visit the “real” John Victor. Beautiful scenery. Exciting gold hunting. Fun stuff. But Alaska? It’s quivering with extremes . . . and danger. Hmmm. I wonder what I can do to Scotty’s tales? Not familiar with John Victor? Check him out at my website: www.annrichduncan.com. Check out Johnny Vic while you’re at it! And stay tuned for Scotty’s Alaskan Adventures!
I know. People are wondering about the contest. Actually it’ll be a drawing. I’m running at a snail’s pace these days. But, to be sure, there will be a pair of nuggets that “the real Johnny Vic” sent — “perfect for a pair of earrings,” he says. And a couple of coins. And more. The names of those who comment on the “Scotty Loves Alaska” posts will be added to a “ticket” and placed in the box for the drawing. Each comment renders you an entry! The holdup? Besides my snail-pace at writing about Scotty’s adventures, I’ve got some technical glitches with the photo ops. If you ever listen to Bob Bascom on Lakes Region Radio when he talks about me, you’ll hear that technical gadgits and I . . . well . . . we just don’t seem to get along. If you stumbled on this blog and are wondering who I am . . . I’m the author of The SEED, a novel of suspense that was nominated to be placed on the required reading list for incoming Freshmen at Green Mountain College; and the YA Johnny Vic adventures. Find them at www.annrichduncan.com.
So, as August 11 passed I found myself thinking about 9/11. I don’t for one minute think my troubles surpass those of the families who lost loved ones that terrible day. But, it DID impact me. As a writer. About nine days prior to 9/11/01, I lucked out on the telephone. Got to speak to one of the senior editors of a major publishing company. He said he NEVER answers the phone, but something told him to that day as he walked past the receptionist’s desk. So, I asked a number of questions, telling him I was preparing for a radio interview. After I thanked him, he said, “Okay, so what have you written?” I said, I’d promised not to push my work . . . the interview was legit. He said, “It’s okay. I’ve enjoyed our talk, so whatcha got?” I explained the premise of The SEED, my novel of suspense and the message about GMO’s. Then I read one paragraph of “The SEED” which, at that time was just a work in progress. He LOVED IT!! Asked me to send fifty pages. Said if it all was as good as what he just heard, he’d “get something going with it. I’ll call you in about 15 days,” he said. WOW. I sent it. September 11 happened. His office was demolished. He left for the midWest. Needless to say no one else was interested or even believed me, months later, when they re-opened. Do you have a September 11 story? I’d love to hear it.
So, it’s another Monday. Spent the workday/night taping coupons. Tiny metal rectangles. Wrap, around all four sides, counting to sixteen. Cut. Wrap up and around, four times, creating this mini TV thing, two inches by a half inch. Well, it could be a TV in a doll’s house! CD player is plugged into my ear–I’m listening to one of the Regan Reilly adventures by Carol Higgins Clark and Mary Higgins Clark. This job is a long way from my PR and Newspaper days. More pleasant, actually. So, as I wrap the sticky tape, and the CD whirs to a stop . . . ready for the next CD, I’m thinking about my work space. Worktable surrounded by whirring electric fans. Upright metal columns holding bright red, blue and white tape of various widths. Rolling cart at my side, holding finished pieces. Dusty, concrete floors covered with rubber to keep the seven thousand dollar parts from shattering. Am thinking about a scene for my novel in progresss. Savannah Georgia Daveed is worried about her cousin. She’s convinced he’s too chummy with some very bad dudes. She suspects they’re planning a series of events that’ll spur the current American president to do some very unAmerican things. Oops. Almost dropped a piece. Even with the rubber floor, it could break. That wouldn’t be pretty. Speaking of pretty . . . here’s a photo from our outdoor sanctuary for prayer and healing, called the House of Angels. See more at: www.ChristsHouseofAngels.org. Want to see my books? Go to: www.annrichduncan.com.
Just recently got word from Tracy Grand, the CEO of JacketFlap, that they added our seed baby youtube video to their “book video” section. Click here to view it on youtube. Or go to JacketFlap and search for my name!