The Story Behind My Blog's Title

The Story Behind My Blog's Title
Why is my blog named "My Father's Oldsmobile"? Click on the car and find out.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Cooking up Characters by Tina Pinson

 I get to welcome Tina Pinson to my blog today! Tina is a talented author with a wicked sense of humor. It's my pleasure to let her take over my blog for a few days and share with us her wit and skill. Thank you, Tina! My blog is your blog.

Cooking up Characters

Now, I don't actually mean I'm going to lay my poor sweet character on the chopping block and have my way at her with a Hachette, and make some kind goulash out of them. Nor will my character and I get all chummy, pull out our cookbooks and rustle up some grub.
Let’s face it. My characters aren't real. So to carry on a cooking conversation with anyone of them would be quite tough and I'd probably end up talking to myself.

But if I were to write a recipe for my character, what ingredients might I use?

Let's start with a dash emerald for eye color. Add a sprinkle of daisies for hair color. A couple of teaspoons of peaches and cream for her skin. D drizzle on some rose honey on her lips. I'd make her lean and lithe with just a pinch of fat. And voilĂ … the reader now has an idea about how my character might look.

Next I might garnish her with some clothes. Beings that I write Christian fiction, it is good to dress my characters. How I dress my character gives the reader insight to my character's tastes. It might tell you whether they are poor or wealthy.

Next we add dashes of their lives. Peel back the layers of their lives. I might sift in some spice about their job? Blend up whether married? Widowed? Single? Engaged?

From there I might sprinkle in some anecdotes from their past.

You might see how they grew up.

After I've added all these things, are you satisfied with the character? Or is she still just a bit one dimensional?

So after we've taken care of the aesthetics of a character, we need to begin to check out her psyche. What, beyond brushing her pretty blonde hair, or working her job, makes this character tick?

We need a dollop of heart. A smattering of emotion, (or maybe a gallon). We need to dice up her fears. Saute her hopes and dreams? How does she feel about herself? About the world around her?

The deeper I look in to my character, the more dimensional she becomes. The more I understand her. Is she funny? Sassy? A klutz?

Is she brave? Afraid? Driven? An Adventurer?

Granted… I'm not just going to list all this in a story. That would be utterly boring. But once I dissect my character and find out what makes her who she is, I can write her better. Write her and hopefully make a reader want to know more about her.

Here are some examples:

Read them and let me know what you learned, if anything, about the character.

From When Shadows Fall

His lips thin, his eyes lit with recognition. She saw a remnant of the man she loved and knew. He remained hidden deep behind the cover of sickness. She removed her costume hairpiece so he could see her hair. He smiled.

"Rebekah, love. It is you," his whisper was hoarse, weak. He could barely move. Following her movements with his hollow eyes only seemed to tax his strength, so he closed them. She wiped his fevered brow, allowed herself to cry, then laid beside him to rest. His breathing was labored, bones showed through his skin, but he was alive and she would do all she could to keep him that way.

"I love you," she whispered, and closed her swollen eyes to sleep.

Andrew woke, saw the man and practically planted himself in Rebekah. He stayed there shivering with fear until he realized who it was. "It's Daddy. Mommy."

Rebekah folded her arms around him. "Yes, darling, it's Daddy. And Daddy is very sick so we have to be very quiet. All right?"

Andrew nodded and took a closer look at Robert. Night had blanketed his wounds in the shadows. The light of day painted Robert's emaciation in full, horrific color. The look of him would unsettle anyone, especially a boy. Black rings encircled Robert's eyes. His skin was a pasty gray color that looked as flimsy as parchment. He was beyond sick. Rebekah wondered about the wounds that lay beneath the surface. She would concentrate on his physical healing and deal with the rest when the time arose.

Touched By Mercy

Jethro snorted and slapped his thigh. Allan sat in silence. Sam was at the Chicken Ranch. Allan had a dilemma of his own. How did he get Samantha to notice him? And what were Preston's intentions concerning her?
"So the Lord said you'd meet your new wife at the Chicken Ranch?" Jethro said with a mischievous smile.
"That's about the size of it." Preston's lips curled.
 "That does pose a problem. There's a house full of women over there."
Preston's eyes rolled. "You aren't telling me anything new, Jethro."

"Did the good Lord tell you how you'll know her? Any bolts out of the blue?" Allan flung his arm over the empty chair next to him.

"Maybe a letter from heaven," Jethro said solemnly. He and Allan looked up in quiet anticipation.

"Maybe a rash or a fever," Allan added, his gaze landing on Preston.
Preston sneered slightly. "All He said was, I'd know."
"Well, that poses a problem," Allan said.

"Jethro already said as much." Preston chuckled. "Are we talking about me or you?"
"Both of us," Allan declared. Saying what all three knew. "The Lord said your wife is inthat house and, while He didn't come out and specify mine was there, I've got my eye on someone. How can I be sure I'm not stepping in where the Lord wants you to be?"
Jethro laughed. "Have mercy, if this don't beat all." Allan looked at him through narrowed eyes. Jethro's hand went to his chest. "Don't look at me. I done picked my wife. You two have to work this out alone." With that he rose and left. Allan could hear him chuckling clean out the building.

From Counting Tessa
Strapped at her ankles and wrists; a prisoner in a birthing bed somewhere in the lowest corridor of a hospital with an unknown name, she lay panting. The lights sputtered and spit overhead, practically keeping time with the rhythm of her heart. A curse of life and death hung over her head. Life – the children in her womb. Death – her sentence when those children were born.
She prayed for the children to wait, but each contraction signaled their impatience. She prayed for freedom from her shackles, but her wrists were raw from trying to find release. The second hand of the large black and white clock continued to turn, ticking off the moments, giving her hope, however dismal, that she might greet the next day. But she knew when the solitary figure arrived—a dark angel in pale green scrubs—and uncovered a row of gleaming silver instruments, death awaited her.

What do you do to get to know your character better? Do you do a complete workup of them? So you understand them from the inside out. Learning their history? Their faith? Their fears?

Do tell?

Gifted with a vivid imagination at a young age, Tina started writing in elementary school. (it was that or get in trouble for lying). She has chosen several creative outlets; writing poetry, songs, or stories.

Tina is a multi-published author of historical and inspirational fiction, her latest endeavor being The Shadow Series published by Desert Breeze Publishing.

Beyond writing, Tina enjoys building, gardening, singing, speaking and some biking. She and her husband of thirty years hope to get out more into God’s country and do some camping. She continues to work on other stories, and hopes more will find a publishing home soon.

For more about Tina Pinson please visit:

Follow Tina on Facebook and Twitter.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Interview with Ann Lee Miller, Author of Kicking Eternity

  Anyone who leaves a comment with an e-mail address (JaneReader[at]msn[dot]com) will receive a free e-book copy of Kicking Eternity. Those who don’t want to leave an e-mail may contact Ann for their free book at

Welcome to My Father's Oldsmobile, Ann. Tell us about yourself.
I write full-time in Phoenix, but left my heart in New Smyrna Beach, Florida, where I grew up. I love speaking to young adults and guest lecture on writing at several Arizona colleges. When I’m not writing or muddling through some crisis—real or imagined—you’ll find me hiking in the Superstition Mountains with my husband or meddling in my kids’ lives.

Tell us about your new book? (If this is part of a series then include a bit about that too)
Stuck in sleepy New Smyrna Beach one last summer, Raine socks away her camp pay checks, worries about her druggy brother, and ignores trouble: Cal Koomer. She’s a plane ticket away from teaching orphans in Africa, and not even Cal’s surfer six-pack and the chinks she spies in his rebel armor will derail her

The artist in Cal begs to paint Raine’s ivory skin, high cheek bones, and internal sparklers behind her eyes, but falling for her would caterwaul him into his parents’ live. No thanks. The girl was self-righteous waiting to happen. Mom served sanctimony like vegetables, three servings a day, and he had a gut full.

Rec Director Drew taunts her with “Rainey” and calls her an enabler. He is so infernally there like a horsefly—till he buzzes back to his ex.
Kicking Eternity’s sequel, The Art of My Life, comes out September 1. The New Smyrna Beach Series concludes with Avra’s God December 1 and Tattered Innocence March 1, 2013.
What inspired this story?
My daughter has had a passion to become a foreign missionary since she was in first grade. She just completed her junior year of college and is still headed for missions, probably to an orphanage in Peru. Also a close family friend fell in love with a young man and felt strongly that God told her to marry him. When the guy broke off the engagement, she was devastated on multiple levels. In Kicking Eternity the hero has to come to terms with the same dilemma.

Is there an underlying theme?
Kicking Eternity is all about chasing dreams—our dreams, God’s dreams, and the mixed-up tangle of both.

What's your favorite scene/character?
 I love the rebel, Cal. Like a lot of bad boys, he exudes magnetism.

What do you hope the reader takes away from reading your book?
So many people wrestle with their dreams and God’s dreams for their lives. I wanted to give them hope, the courage to trust God with their future.

How did you get started as a writer?
When I earned my BA in creative writing in 1980 only six universities in the United States offered the degree, and my program did not offer a single novel-writing class. I had to read a stack of writing craft books, participate in critique groups, and attend writing conferences to learn the skills I needed to write a book.

Do you have any particular method to your writing, any quirks that help you along in the creative process?
I make notes on every scene before I write the book.

What are some of your favorite books?
Charles Martin’s books are an epicurean feast. I’ll always be a little bit in love with Joe in Francine River’s The Atonement Child. New favorites are Anne Rivers Siddon’s Off Season and Anne Brashares’ The Last Summer.

What genre(s) do you write and what draws you to this genre?
 I write coming-of-age/romance novels because I had a lot of childhood baggage to work through and am blessed with a very romantic husband who cherishes me.

What was your journey to publication like?
I wrote my first novel fifteen years ago and have been writing full-time for ten years while trying to break in to traditional publishing. Last summer my agent let all her unpublished authors, including me, go. In the midst of my despair, God nudged me to indie e-publish. So, I swallowed a hairball of pride and walked down the self-publishing road. I feel a surge of joy and gratitude that my books are finally being read. The part of me that clamors for validation still hopes for a traditional publishing contract. But how can I go wrong obeying God?

What might surprise readers about you?
 I lived on a sailboat as a child. My father was often mistaken for Willie Nelson. I and my three sons are color blind.
What do you think of the ebook explosion, pros and cons, and what do you think will happen with print books?
 Of course, I’m delighted I and other languishing authors now have a chance to publish. Operating outside the traditional publishing’s gate-keeping, we need to develop new ways to rank books so indie readers don’t have to wade through a flotsam of poorly written books to find a gem. I see the teens around me clinging tightly to paper books. Maybe paper will stick around for a while.

Three favorite things: movie, place and food?
While You Were Sleeping. Oxford, England. Cheesecake.

Book Blurb:

Fresh from college, Raine scores a teaching job at New Smyrna Beach Surf and Sailing Camp. A crush on the camp rebel/art teacher threatens to derail her plans to teach orphans in Africa. The broody recreation director spots her brothers meth addiction and Raine's enabling. Raine believes she is helping her brother--until lives are threatened.  

 Endorsements for Kicking Eternity:

Kicking Eternity won First Place Long Contemporary in the 2009 Romance Writers of America Faith, Hope, and Love Contest.

“In Kicking Eternity, Ann Lee Miller masterfully weaves the delicate web of emotions experienced in that turbulent ‘twenty-something’ stage of life. Powerful family dynamics, intense loyalty challenges, and tender new loves find their niche in your heart as this story unfolds layer by lovely layer.”

Mesu Andrews, Author of  Revell titles Love’s Sacred Song, and Love Amid the Ashes, which won the 2012 CBA Book of the Year, New Author Category

“Ann Lee Miller writes stories straight from the heart with characters who'll become friends, remaining with you long after you turn that final page. You won't want to miss Kicking Eternity!”

Jenny B. Jones, Author of the Katie Parker Production Series from Think and The Charmed Life Series, and other single titles from Thomas Nelson

"I've lost hours of sleep reading Ann Lee Miller's work due to her uncanny ability to yank me into a story with authentic, lovable, yet challenging characters."

Lynn Rush, author of Wasteland, Awaited, and Prelude to Darkness from Crescent Moon Press.

Ann became a writer the year she discovered Sister Sheila had hair.  She was in fifth grade at St. Hugh’s Catholic School in Miami, knee deep in nouns and verbs, when Sister Sheila walked through the door in a new habit that showed two inches of mouse brown hair threaded with silver. Thanks to Sister’s jump-start, Ann went on to earn a BA in Creative Writing from Ashland University (OH).

Ann writes fiction full-time. Tattered Innocence made it into the 2nd round of the 2012Amazon Breakout Novel Award contest. Kicking Eternity won First Place, Long Contemporary in the 2009 Romance Writers of America Touched By Love Contest. She is plotting her fifth novel. Ann's work appears in magazines, newspapers, and a literary magazine. She founded Broads and Novels writers' group in Gilbert, Arizona. Working in public relations for Ashland University, she wrote press releases, features, and produced staff newspapers. She is a constant student of writing craft books and has attended numerous writers' conferences.

Ann speaks in venues including national conventions, churches, and countless teen groups. She guest lectures on writing and life issues to undergraduates in four Phoenix colleges each semester.

1970 Olds 442


If you're curious about the story behind the name of my blog, click on the car. :)