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Archive for July 5th, 2011

The second volume of The Embers Series (begun with Fallen Embers) continues the saga set in an alternate Alaska, where those born with the power to control the elements rule as nobility over those who cannot — for now. As Blowing Embers begins, the shapeshifting slaves of Fairbanks have broken their chains with the help of Kiera, the Fire Mage mysteriously transported into their realm with her young nephew, and then lifted her to govern their city. But Kiera and her co-rulers struggle to integrate the former slaves and the remaining mages. A worse threat outside Fairbanks waits to fracture the fragile peace. Governor Vrishka, the Skani Water Mage of Barrow, has marched an army from the North, and sends terms: Surrender Fairbanks and restore the Skani mages to rule, or he will raze the city and kill all the shifters. He gifts them ten turns of the sun to make their decision. Halfway through the armistice a devastating blow steals all hope for Fairbanks’ victory, and crushes Kiera’s heart. Can she summon the strength to transcend her grief and find a way to defeat Vrishka? If so, what price is she willing to pay? Five days — and a city — await her decision.

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How many books do you put aside when you’ve finished them, and never think of them again? I’ll bet a lot. Too many.

 

What makes a book memorable, loveable, is most often the characters. One, or more. They are people you like. Care about. Struggle and cry and triumph with.

 

In order to do that, you have to be able to identify with the characters. Know them. Like them. See yourself or someone you know in them. Maybe even fall in love with them. You can’t do that if you can’t remember who is who. And, too often, that is precisely what happens in stories.

 

Authors forget that readers don’t know their characters the same way they do. Authors, of course, spend hours and hours developing each one of their characters. But it isn’t until the reader actually begins reading the text that they get to meet each story’s featured people, and since readers can’t see the characters, the writer has to provide some mechanism to make each character stand out, right from the start.

 

In other words, an author has to make each character memorable. I’ve heard this practice called a “hook,” but whatever you call it, it’s more important than worldbuilding, or a killer ability to write description. Who cares, really, if you visit a beautiful alien planet, or a magnificent tenth century Welsh palace, if you can’t remember who you’re visiting it with?

 

A particular physical trait can be a hook, or a way of speaking or a tendency to do something. In my books, which are set in a magical Alternate Alaska, each of my characters has something special that sets them apart – and makes them easy to remember. For example, Kiera, my main character, is a plus-sized woman with long dark hair. As we go along, we learn that she holds a brown belt in tai kwon-do. Laszlo, her love interest, is the biggest man she has ever seen – a big man with umber skin who doesn’t seem to mind even extreme cold. Marco, the teenage boy Kiera befriends, has icy blond hair, bad judgment, and a quick wit. And Mosha, the slave healer in the army Kiera travels with, sports an odd accent.

 

What sorts of things have you found memorable in books? What’s made you want to read more by the same author?

 

(Leave a comment to be automatically entered into the contest for a free copy of Blowing Embers in kindle format!)

(This video can also be seen at http://www.lauriowen.com/be.html)

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A big thank you to Lauri for joining with us today!

Please visit www.lauriowen.com to learn more about The Embers series. And don’t forget to comment for a chance to win. Good luck! 😀

 

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