If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com.

May Interviews

5/5 Lynn Calhoon, Murder 101
5/12 Annette Dashofy, Death By Equine
5/19 Krista Davis, The Diva Serves Forbidden Fruit
5/25 Debra Goldstein, Four Cuts Too Many

Saturday WWK Bloggers

5/1 V. M. Burns
5/8 Jennifer Chow
5/22 Kait Carson

Guest Blogs

5/15 M. K. Scott


E. B. Davis's "The Pearl Necklace" will appear in the new SinC Guppy anthology The Fish That Got Away to be released in July by Wildside Press. The anthology was edited by Linda Rodriguez.

Paula Gail Benson's monologue "Beloved Husband," from the perspective of Norton Baskin the second husband of Marjorie Kinan Rawlings (who wrote The Yearling and Cross Creek), appears in the Red Penguin Collection's An Empty Stage (released March 28, 2021).

Martha Reed's "Death by GPS" will appear in the Spring 2021 issue of Suspense Magazine, which will be released in the second week of April. Congratulations, Martha!

Susan Van Kirk has a new audiobook, A Death at Tippitt Pond, that will be released this month. Marry in Haste will be released in May by Harlequin Worldwide Mystery, as will Death Takes No Bribes in September. Congratulations, Susan.

Congratulations to Martha Reed. Her short story, "The Honor Thief" was chosen for the 2021 Bouchercon Anthology, This Time For Sure. Hank Phillippi Ryan will edit the volume, which will be released in August at the time of the convention.

Margaret S. Hamilton's short story, "Killer Weeds," appears in the January 20 edition of Texas Gardener's Seeds: From Our Garden to Yours. Congratulations, Margaret, who, if you follow Facebook know, is a superb gardener herself!

Congratulations to Jennifer J. Chow for garnering a 2021 Lefty Nomination for Best Humorous Mystery Novel. We're crossing our fingers for Jennifer!

Congratulations to Paula Gail Benson whose "Reputation or Soul" has been chosen for Malice Domestic 16: Mystery Most Diabolical anthology to be released this spring.

KM Rockwood's "Stay Safe--Very Safe" appears in this year's 2020 BOULD anthology. Congratulations, KM!

Annette Dashofy signed with agent Dawn Dowdle of the Blue Ridge Literary Agency. Congratulations, Annette!


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Personality of Place by Carla Damron

The Personality of Place
One of the challenges brought about by our move across town was switching gyms. I loved my old gym, PF. At PF, the people who work out look like me. There were no gazelles—you know, the size-two women who coif their hair and don eyeliner before climbing on the elliptical for a sixty-minute workout. (If you think my gazelle comment comes from jealousy, you’d probably be right, but that’s whole nuther blog). No, the PF gym rats came in all ages, shapes and sizes. Many had gray hair, wore mismatched workout clothes, and smiled at me and said hello. 

Not a gazelle

But staying with PF wasn’t practical. The closest gym to my new home , GG, is a very different experience. It’s bigger and glitzier, with a bar that makes protein shakes and TVs on each treadmill. Gazelles dart along on every piece of equipment. (I don’t have a word for the male version, but they are lean and well-muscled and, like the gazelles, suck on water bottles like newly-weaned infants). There’s a yoga studio and a “cardio theater” that plays movies, which is great if you plan on two-and-a half hours of aerobics. (I hope there’s a defibrillator in there somewhere.)

It’s been a tough adjustment. At PF, people ALWAYS held the door for me when I arrived, as I did when others came through. At GG, they don’t hold the door open. Nor do the other gym members say “hi” or make any kind of eye-contact. I don’t think they mean to be rude, they’re just always futzing with their smartphones.
I actually bought a new pair of gym pants because my PF ones seemed too ratty for GG.
The contrast between the two places made me think about the personality a place can exude. My favorite restaurant is a pizza dive with sticky floors and stupid art on the walls, but it always makes me feel welcome. I love having a glass of pinot grigio placed at my spot at the table as soon as I sit down. Eating at this place is like visiting a favorite aunt—she may look a little worn and dumpy but her smile and cozy furniture warm you up inside.
My protagonist, Caleb Knowles, tunes into the feel of place, so I like to introduce locations via his perspective. He once visited a formal-style corporate office that he claims projected the feeling: “I can bust your balls if I need to.” He loathes any venue that requires a tie and rates restaurants on the quality of their coffee.
Allowing a setting to have a personality can make descriptions more interesting for both the writer and the reader. Have you ever tried this technique?
And PS: things are better at the GG gym. I make it a point to hold the door and say hello to people. Now and then, a perky little gazelle will look up from her iPhone and say “hi” back.
This makes me proud.


Jim Jackson said...

I like using place and products to both define characters. My protagonist, Seamus McCree, is a laid-back guy who prefers blue jeans and tee shirts, but knows how to don a blue pin-striped power suit and take make adversaries feel uncomfortable. He prefers dives, but is comfortable in the best hotels in town if need be. Most of my other characters are more one thing or the other – and I like playing them off against each other to highlight their differences and their perspective.

~ Jim

PS Carla, my daughter gave me your Caleb Knowles series for my birthday so I'm all set to jump into your fictional world. ~ J

E. B. Davis said...

Oh Jim--you're in for a treat. I loved Caleb!

Personal rant--Cell phones need to be banned in gyms! People will sit on equipment talking or texting. Meanwhile, I'm standing there glaring at them to get off the equipment if they aren't going to use it--or use it as a chair for their comfort while talking--not exercising.

To make use of the personality of a place, you must know it well or if you create it--create the details so it can be described.

Sorry about the rant, Carla. People are inconsiderate and don't care about other people--which is why there are rules--because people can't exercise self discretion! Okay, I'll stop--again, but I'm not saying I won't kill them in fiction!

Kara Cerise said...

Thanks for the laugh, Carla. I was thinking about personality of place last month while exercising at physical therapy. I was feeling rather low because other patients (tall, gorgeous, physically fit) were flat-out running on treadmills for an hour while my personal best was walking for 20 minutes. (I might as well have a red "L" on my t-shirt for Loser.) Finally, I got up my nerve and asked my physical therapist why everyone except me seemed to be excelling. She laughed and told me that I had the same morning time slot as professional athletes. So, I changed my time and now go to PT two hours later and exercise next to "normal" people. The time of day can sometimes change the personality of place.

Shari Randall said...

I like that your blog comes so soon after the one about setting. Getting all the physical aspects of a place right is important, but so is getting the feel of the place, and the dynamics of the people who live there (or the gazelles who work out there!)

E. B. Davis said...

Kara, that's so funny! It reminds me of a time I was on the orbital machine and became eclipsed by a man next to me on another machine. I looked over at the level of his ribs! I was told he was a Washington Redskin. Who? Not into it enough to have recognized the name. But they sure are big!

Gloria Alden said...

Jim, you will love the Carla's Caleb Knowles series.

Carla, in your pictures,I would definitely be the "Not a Gazelle" with white hair. :-)

E.B. that's one of the main reasons I like my quiet walks in the woods every morning for my exercise. No cell phones, nor are there any when I'm weeding, mowing, raking leaves or cleaning pony stalls.

Kara, that's funny. I'm glad you realized you needed to be with normal people before it completely damaged your ego.

Carla, a good blog and one that made me realize even more why I don't attend a gym - not that there are any near me anyway.

Anonymous said...

Great (and amusing!) article on the way places can have "personality." I remember when I was working in a steel fabrication plant that operated 24 hours a day (I worked midnight to eight most of the time) every shift & every department had its own personality, and they were very different. On my shift, people cussed each other out & soemtimes heaved a piece of steel at someone else (including the foreman), but if you had a problem, you could be sure everybody would pull together so the entire shift looked good. On dayshift, people took offense easily & were competitive with each other.

Warren Bull said...

My favorite place for a BLT is a a scruffy bar with junk hanging on the walls and tables shoved together. When I meet someone new to town I take them there for a real KC experience.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Great and funny post, Carla! You are obviously a great influence on GG's inmates. Keep up the good work.

Actually, though, you are totally on target as to the personality of place. It can be an important tool in a writer's toolkit. the personality of a character's favorite place also tells us a lot about that character without the author doing an infodump.

Paula Gail Benson said...

Carla, so glad you moved on my side of town! I told you we had a lot of characters over here! Great blog!

C. R. Bailey said...

I'm pretty sure that was my juice bar gym! Actually grew to love it. The women in the exercise classes were always friendly.