Starting on 11/28 WWK presents original short stories by some of our authors. Here's our lineup:

11/28 Debra H. Goldstein, "Thanksgiving in Moderation"

12/5 Annette Dashofy, "Las Posadas--A New Mexico Christmas"

12/12 Warren Bull, "The Thanksgiving War"

12/19 KM Rockwood, "The Gift of Peace"

12/26 Paula Gail Benson, "The Lost Week of the Year"

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

November Interviews
11/6 Barbara Ross, Nogged Off
11/13 Lena Gregory, Scone Cold Killer
11/20 Lois Winston, Handmade Ho-Ho Homicide
11/27 V. M Burns, Bookmarked For Murder

Saturday Guest Bloggers:
11/2 V. M. Burns
11/9 Heather Redmond
11/16 Arlene Kay

WWK Bloggers: 11/23 Kait Carson


Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Paula Gail Benson's story "Wisest, Swiftest, Kindest" appears in Love in the Lowcountry an anthology by the Lowcountry Romance Writers available 11/5 in e-book and print format on Amazon. The anthology includes fourteen stories all based in Charleston, South Carolina.

Lyrical Press will publish Kaye George's Vintage Sweets mystery series. The first book, Revenge Is Sweet, will be released in March. Look for the interview here on 3/11.

Shari Randall will be writing again for St. Martin's, perhaps under a pseudonym. We look forward to reading Shari's Ice Cream Shop Mystery series debuting next year. Congratulations, Shari!

Susan Van Kirk's A Death At Tippett Pond was released on June 15th. Read E. B. Davis's interview with Susan.

KM Rockwood's "Frozen Daiquiris" appears in The Best Laid Plans: 21 Stories of Mystery & Suspense, edited by Judy Penz Sheluk. The anthology was released on June 18th.

Fishy Business anthology authors include KM Rockwood, Debra Goldstein, and James M. Jackson. This volume was edited by Linda Rodriguez.

Please read Margaret S. Hamilton and Debra Goldstein's short stories (don't ask about their modus operandi) in a new anthology, Cooked To Death Vol. IV: Cold Cut Files.

Warren Bull's Abraham Lincoln: Seldom Told Stories was released. It is available at: GoRead: or at Amazon:

Grace Topping's mystery, Staging is Murder was released April 30. It is now also available in audio.


Thursday, March 3, 2016

Meeting a Character to Include in a Book

Grace Meadows with her orchids. I took home the yellow one.
Last fall Joan, a friend of my sister Elaine, took us to visit a delightful ninety year old woman in a small town not too far from where Elaine’s friend lives. It was there we met Grace Meadows; the woman who would be moved to my fictional town of Portage Falls in the latest book I’m currently working on.

Grace lives in a brick home that was once a school house, and is surrounded by gardens. When we visited in the fall, most of the flowers had been frost killed, but not all, and the bones of the gardens, with the added little things to attract your attention, had us eagerly looking forward to coming back when everything was in bloom and her vegetable garden planted, too. Her property is at least an acre or more, and although one of her sons lives close enough to do the mowing for her, she does all the weeding and planting of these gardens.
Grace is showing us one of her clivias.

Even more fascinating were the two greenhouses she’d added to the side of her house that were filled with orchids, clivias and a variety of other flowers – many that had been outside for the summer in pots and brought in for the winter. She had huge pots of geraniums, begonias, a bougainvillea, a small lemon tree with lemons on it and other blooming plants that would normally be outside if the weather hadn’t started freezing. Because of the time of the year, the orchids (not the cheap ones I buy at Aldi’s and Home Depot) and clivias were not blooming.  I had never heard of clivias. She told us they were from South Africa and rather expensive. She paid seventy-five dollars for her first one and by saving the seeds and/or dividing them as they got bigger, she now had table after table with shelves on the wall behind them with the clivias in the first green house. The second greenhouse had varieties of orchids – miniature ones and tall ones along with the other mixture of plants.  Grace sells her orchids and clivias so I bought one of each and she gave me a small one, too. Apparently, it takes some years for clivias to bloom.

Before we bought our plants, Grace had us come in where she served us warm apple dumplings fresh from the oven with vanilla ice cream and coffee. It was so good especially after being outside in rather chilly weather.

Some of the orchids I got from Grace.
However, as amazing a gardener Grace is, it wasn’t the end of what appealed to me. Grace is an avid reader of books, especially mysteries. I learned that when either I mentioned I wrote mysteries or after someone else told her. Grace brought out a thick three-ring binder with each page in the binder having the name of a writer where she listed all his or her books she’d read and a brief synopsis of the book. I forget all the authors she’s read, but Dick Francis stands out in my mind. Because Grace no longer drives, her son picks up four or five books from the local library every week for her to read.

The following week, I sent Grace an autographed copy of my first book, and she sent me a thank you letter and told me how much she enjoyed it. A little over a month later I sent her an autographed copy of my second book, and she sent another thank you and said she can’t afford to buy them. Of course, I let her know I didn’t expect money for them.
A clivia Grace gave me getting ready to bloom 
On a Saturday towards the end of February, we again went back to visit Grace because she’d let Joan know the orchids and clivias were now blooming. This time three other women were there, too. Joan and one of the other women had brought sandwiches, cut up fruit and desserts so we had an English tea with a white table cloth, napkins, pretty plates, and we drank tea as we visited. I enjoyed getting acquainted with the three new people I met. I found out one of them belongs to a mystery book club with thirty members in Canton. She said the man in charge usually picks the books, but she thought the women would probably like lighter books without all the graphic details of murders in the books he picked. She was going to talk to him at their next book club and see if I could come and talk to their book club. It’s a distance away, but I told her I would. I’m waiting to see if he’ll go along with it. A younger woman talked about her three children, and when I found out they all loved to read including the nine-year old twins, I mailed an autographed copy of my middle-grade book to them, too
Another of my orchids in my library

I also told Grace that I had moved her and her home to my little town of Portage Falls, and that amused her. I said she now had a young female police officer moving in upstairs. I was so pleased when she told me both her sons and their wives loved my books and one couple had tried to look me up at Bouchercon when they saw in the booklet that I was there. Of course, in a crowd of that size they didn’t find me. It’s funny how you can pick up fans from the slightest contacts with others. In fact, Joan, the woman who introduced us to Grace, has recently returned from a five week cruise she conducted around Africa.  Last fall I gave her the second in my series when she told me she’d read and loved my first book. She took the one I gave her to read on the cruise. When she finished it, she lent it to a women she’d met on the cruise. The woman wasn’t quite done with it and hated to stop, so Joan let her take it home to her home somewhere in the Midwest.
Elaine shows us the fertilizer Grace uses for her healthy plants. 
When we went out to the greenhouse after eating, to pick out orchids or clivias, Grace wouldn’t let me pay for the two orchids and one clivia I picked out. In fact, she wanted me to have first choice. I think it’s her way of paying for the books I’m giving her, and the books I’m going to send her to donate to her local library. One of the advantages of being independently published is I have books on hand to give away when I want to. Yes, I paid for them, but to me giving them to people who will enjoy them is worth more than the money I would make. And maybe if they like them, they’ll go to Amazon and buy others although that’s not my priority. Meanwhile, Grace now has her own fans with the three women who are critiquing my work.

Have you ever met someone who just had to become a character?

Did you change their name?
Would you like to visit Grace Meadows?


E. B. Davis said...

I think it's terrific you met a character for your book, but what role will you have her play? I'm not sure I'd have the nerve to let someone know that I wanted to use them as a character. People can be touchy about how they are portrayed. Perhaps a walk on role or will she be a continuing character? I could understand how your main character would have a lot in common with her, though. The flowers you've shown are beautiful!

I can't say I've ever met a character. More, I compose the character needed then assign physical, mental, and emotional characteristic from people I've known so they are more a composite. I've never taken one person in entirety and placed them in a book.

KM Rockwood said...

Many of my characters are composites or variations on people I've met or worked wit, but I've never transplanted a real person as is to a story.

Characters do tend to spring into my mind fully formed, and sometimes I can trace where they came from, but other times not at all.

Every once in a while, I see someone whose physical appearances suggests a complete character, but since the person in not someone I know, i doubt the character bears any resemblance to them, except appearance.

Gloria Alden said...

E.B. I told her I moved her to my fictional town, and she smiled about that. I think she'll be happy to read the book since she already likes my books. She will be her pleasant and very nice self, and quite happy to have the young female officer moving in upstairs. She's not a very important character, more of a walk on character who will return as long as Robin is living there. My brother is Ed Flavian, a continuing character in my books. He died five years ago so never had a chance to read my books, but his wife loved that character and insists she's Ed's wife, even though I insist no way is she. :-) Like you though, almost all my characters are figments of my imagination, and sometimes with little bits of different people I know.

Margaret Turkevich said...

I would ask Grace if she would like to pick one of your characters to give her name. You might be surprised and delighted that she picks a young woman or a villain.

I would love to meet Grace sometime. Orchids and dahlias are two of my major failures.

Yes, I've met people who are fully realized characters in appearance. But their personalities and backstories are entirely different.

Warren Bull said...

Fairly often I meet people who have traits or life circumstances I want to use in my characters. As KM said, characters are composites of more than one person. It's a good thing that so many characters are walking around.

vicki batman said...

Oh, yes, I've put people in my books, but I try to disguise them a bit. What a lovely lady and the orchids--AMAZING!

Kait said...

What an amazing character and woman! I will sometimes put what I perceive as the essence of people I have met in books. I don't think I've ever lifted a character whole cloth from life. It would be tempting to do that with some victims though...

Gloria Alden said...

KM, this is the first time I've ever transferred a real person to my story, except once I had my cousin and her husband come to a poisonous plant workshop at Elmwood Gardens that Catherine was conductiong. My cousin didn't find out until she read the book, and she thought it was funny. Polly Popcorn looks and acts a lot like a speech teacher at the school where I taught. I've told her about that, too.

Margaret, I told Grace what I ad done with her and she looked very pleased. I love orchids and dahlias, too, as well as daylilies, roses and so many other flowers depending on the time of the year. I can't wait to go back and visit her gardens later this spring.

Warren, I have elderly twins in one of my books, who occasionally return. The brother looks just like a man in my church. He and his sister do a lot of bickering which amuses readers.

Vicki, most characters I'm basing somewhat on real people, I change enough that only I would know who they really are. Most of my characters are total figments of my imagination.

Kait, I've never made anyone I know a victim. I guess it's because there's no one I hate enough to do so. Yes, I get annoyed with some people, but not enough to wish them harm. However, there are those people I read about or hear spouting off on the radio or TV who seem to be such hateful people. Those I would consider making a victim.

Shari Randall said...

What a lovely lady and what beautiful plants! I can see why you wanted to use her as a character.
I've never appropriated a person completely for a character, but I do appropriate characteristics. And as they say, the names have been changed to protect the innocent (and guilty).

Kait said...

Gloria, the victims I was talking about are similar. Mostly those who cut you off in traffic and try to drive you off the road after you have patiently waited for twenty minutes to get where you are going...or people you see screaming at their children or pets. The last time I was at Costco a man pulled in, parked, walked around the driver side, pulled his wife, girlfriend, I don't know out of a car and slammed her against the side of the vehicle. I had to physically restrain my husband (while the man taunted him to "come get in his *&*^t") while I called 911. Those are the ones I would lift whole cloth and make victims. Not anyone I personally know in the real sense. Just those I encounter whose behavior is so over the top bad!

Gloria Alden said...

Shari, she will neither be innocent or guilty, but just an interesting person like the real Grace Meadows, and isn't a lovely name for a character?

Kait, yes those people irritate me, too. Actually they make me really angry, and I always hope a policeman will pull them over and give them a ticket. And I agree about people screaming at their children or pets. Once I told off a man in a store who was screaming at two timid young boys who were whispering probably because they were afraid of him. I think he was probably the step-dad or the woman's boy friend. I told him he was a coward and probably would never talk like that to a man, but would only bully women and children. The clerk looked at me when the man left the store and asked if I was a teacher, which I was at the time. Afterwards, I worried that the man might have taken his anger at me out on the woman and children. Most of the time the victims in my books are not very nice at all. However, someone in a blog - I think Ramona DeFelice Long - said even the victims should have someone who grieves for them. I much prefer to kill nasty people, but in the last book murdered someone who had someone who grieved for him, and in the book I'm working on I do, too.