Archive for July 12th, 2008

Hey everyone! I hope you’re having a great Saturday! Mine was awesome. *G* I finally got to meet some of my favorite authors today. Also, some new to me authors. I did a lot of damage to my credit card today, gave it quite the workout while at the bookstore. 🙂 Some for me, some for my sisters and most for something I have planned here for the blog so check back soon for details about that. Here’s some pics from today…

WendyK, Virginia Kantra & me.

Deb Marlowe, me & Emilie Rose

Sabrina Jeffries, me, Liz Carlyle & Claudia Dain (who was cracking us up in the picture before this one LOL)

Jenna Black, me & Diane Chamberlain

Elizabeth Amber, moi & Raine 🙂

All the ladies together. Liz Carlyle is hidden in the back but she’s there, I promise! 🙂

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It’s easy to feel like Hell when your life is overrun by teenagers, toddlers, and terror. Just ask housewife and demon hunter Kate Connor…

Between gala fundraisers for her husband’s political campaign, chaperoning her daughter’s first date, and performing arcane magical rituals, Kate hardly has time to prepare for the impending chaos: a party for her toddler son.

Keeping a house full of kiddies in line will take all of Kate’s skills as a mother and demon hunter, just when she’ll need them the most. The High Demon Goramesh has returned to San Diablo—this time with a full-blown army of the undead and a plan to get rid of Kate before she can get rid of him. And once again, it’s up to Kate to save the world. Good thing she can multitask…

Throwing Rocks at Your Characters

At this very moment, I’m at Six Flags Over Texas in Arlington. And for those of you who’ve never had the pleasure, that means standing in a lot of lines. And while I stand in lines, I do one of two things: I wrangle with my children, keeping them from poking at other people in line, or I think about my stories.

And today (okay, I’m actually in the hotel taking a break, but I WAS there, and I AM going back in half an hour) I drifted from thinking about plot points, to thinking about what the world would be like if people truly wanted their lives to be like those of the characters in novels.

Follow me here: Sure, characters often get happy endings (especially in romance!), and of course we all want that. But let’s think about how they get there. They go through absolute heck.

And there’s a reason for that. In real life, if your normally well-behaved child throws a tantrum the day you have to be dressed in your best and present a proposal to the mayor, your best friend is going to totally sympathize with you. She’ll tell you that you’re a good mom with terrible luck, and it absolutely sucks that you had such a bad, bad day. But if you’re a character in a novel …

Well, in that case, your author is going to rub her hands together gleefully and utterly without sympathy. For that matter, she’s probably going to wonder if she can make it even worse for you. Maybe toss in a 103 degree fever along with the tantrum. And the presentation is career-making. You know what? Let’s say that it’s not even a presentation – it’s a murder trial, and it’s your big chance to prove you (now you’re a prosecutor) can try cases on your own. Only your husband’s out of town and your nanny quit this morning.

See? Already you’re worried about this mythical “you,” aren’t you? (Come on, you can admit it.) Child and family v. career, and how to balance them, and can she balance them? That’s good drama, and it makes for a good story.

But what if poor you-the-novel-heroine calls the office, gets a continuance of the court case, takes the kid to the doctor, gets antibiotics, calls work and is told to take four days off to take care of the child, and the child sleeps peacefully while you work at home, figure out the best approach for the case, and then go in a week later and blow the other side out of the water. Great result … but boring, boring, boring to read.

One of my favorite characters from my various novels is Kate Connor, a demon-hunting soccer mom, who is the main character and voice of a series of novels that started with Carpe Demon. (The fourth book in the series, Deja Demon, is out now! Run, run, run to your favorite bookseller! Thus endeth the commercial.)

At any rate, one of the reasons I love writing Kate is that the poor woman is a lot like me … and yet I get to throw all those horrible things at her that (thankfully!) don’t come my way, at least not too often. Her life has drama. Mine, thankfully, has not so much. (Though there are days …. But I digress.)

To give you an idea of what I mean, Kate is your average mom of two. She has a fourteen year old and an almost-three year old. (I have a six and four year old). She has an old job that she quit to be a mom. (I have an old job that I quit to write full time.) Her old job has come back … and with a bang. She used to be a demon hunter, and when a demon crashes through her kitchen window in Carpe Demon, suddenly she’s back in business. (Thus illustrating my point; the most my legal background has come back to “haunt” me is the inevitable reading and analysis of my book contracts, and questions from friends who are writing attorneys. A bit less dramatic than Kate’s life. This, I think, is good.)

As the books have progressed, Kate’s been faced with ever-increasing problems, and though I don’t want to include any blatant spoilers for those who might want to dig into the series, let’s just say that I would be more than a little stressed out if I was happily married to my second husband – and then learned that my dead first husband has returned in the body of another man … and he still desperately wants to be in my life.

In other words, Kate’s got problems. And that’s one of the things that makes her so much fun to write (and from the letters from fans, I think it’s safe to say that’s what makes readers want to spend time with her, too!). I’ll even confess to sometimes being envious of the drama in Kate’s life. It’s easy to get a little frustrated on those days that seem to be filled with cleaning, cooking, and trying to get the kids to go to bed at a reasonable hour. But then I step back and look at the bigger picture: Yeah, Kate’s life is interesting, but so is mine, albeit not quite so dramatic (or dangerous).

So I lean back in my chair and remember that whenever I want that kind of drama in my life, I can pick up a good book from any of my favorite authors. Or, I can spend time with my own characters and traumatize them with all sorts of things that go wrong! And that, my friends, is fun!

Julie Kenner wants it known that it’s a rare week in her life that has only cooking, cleaning and kids. There’s no shortage of drama there, but thankfully it usually resolves and comes in small bursts, contrary to those poor fictional characters who get crisis after crisis piled upon them. A fact for which Julie is daily thankful. You can read all about Julie and her poor, mistreated characters at http://www.juliekenner.com.

****Leave a comment to be in the running to win a book from Julie! 🙂

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