Monday, April 1, 2013


Hi all,

Today is my official day over at my new blog, Behind These Pages, with my cohort and crit partner Tamara. I'll continue to post reminders until the end of the week and then you can find me at my new home. I'll be following everyone on my list.

Take care!

Karen :-)

Monday, March 25, 2013

My New Blog Home

Hi all!

I know I've been MIA, but with work and writing, time has not been my friend. I feel so guilty about abandoning the blog and I usually have things I want to post about, but just don't have time. So when a friend approached me, feeling much like I was feeling about the work that goes into maintaining a blog and suggested we merge blogs, of course I jumped at it.

Our new blog will start on April first with the A-Z Blog Challenge. My blog partner and crit partner is Tammy Walsh and our new blog is called Behind Our Pages. So when you see these new people following you, follow us back. It's only us!

I'll have a link up soon and will continue to post here to remind my lovely followers that I have a new home.

Talk to you soon! :-)

Monday, November 19, 2012

Color Me Food

There has always been talk against describing characters skin tones by using food—especially describing people of color. But it was a recent comment I read calling writers who do this as “lazy” that got me thinking.

I am of the firm belief that whatever will give your reader the clearest, quickest view of your character is a description worth using. Does that mean you have to call a character tall when gangly may do, or describe someone as fat when portly can say the same? No. I still think employing creative ways to describe something otherwise unremarkable is the better way to go.

With that said, to describe you character as having brown skin isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but saying her skin is the color of cinnamon seems instantly better to me. Brown has so many shades. I get an instant picture when you say cinnamon, or chocolate, mocha, or brown sugar, or honey, or caramel, or coffee…

To me, it seems a wonderful way to give a person a clear picture of a complexion. Yes, this can become cliché and even lazy, but if the way an author describes her characters is considered lazy, there will be other lazy writing flaws as well.

I looked up synonyms for the color brown and came up with this: amber, auburn, bay, beige, bistre—WTH?, brick, bronze, buff, burnt sienna, chestnut, chocolate, cinnamon, cocoa, coffee, copper, drab, dust, ecru, fawn, ginger, hazel, henna, khaki, mahogany, nut, ochre, puce, russet, rust, sepia, snuff-colored—Seriously?, sorrel, tan, tawny, terra-cotta, toast, umber…

Some of these are perfectly fine; bronze, chestnut, cocoa, copper, mahogany. But others are just not the thing. I’ve seen sepia use before, quite a lot actually. But the word doesn’t bring a color immediately to mind. I know it’s brown, but what shade? Maybe it’s me. I don’t think it has to be that complicated. I wouldn’t want to read a book where the character was described as having snuff-colored skin, or ochre, or bay, or terra-cotta, or bistre. One of the last books I read described a character as having warm brown skin. That was perfect to me. I didn’t need more. I didn’t need a word that would make me stop reading to look it up and go, “Oh, it means brown.”

It’s not just for characters of color either. I’ve seen white characters described as milky, creamy, or peachy. Basically, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with using food to paint a picture of your character. There’s a way to make everything work. Would I suggest you refer to your character’s skin tone as brown-sugar or peachy every time you referenced it? Absolutely not. But, I’m not going to be one of those people who rolls her eyes if I see another character of color referred to as mocha, or honey, or chocolate.

These are just my opinions and I’d love to hear yours.

Friday, October 19, 2012

HELP! I Need a New Laptop!!!

No, I didn’t punch my laptop, but I really, really, really, want to. It’s been twitching when it first comes on, like it’s having a seizure and it will only stop when I position the lid in exactly the right way. Bad luck for me is that the position is not at all comfortable for me so I spend a lot of time hunched so I can see the screen. It’s not pretty, people. A few more months like this and I’ll have a hump on my back. But if it’s a millimeter off, the screen blinks so rapidly that I know it’s communicating with the devil or something, and I wait for the face of a killer to appear to tell me to turn around, cause he's standing behind me waiting to behead me.

Okay, so clearly I’m loosing my mind. Not to mention I’m a little too attached to my laptop and the fact that it’s leaving me for some cyber hussy is too much for me to handle. But that’s okay, I’m doing a preemptive strike. I’m leaving it before I can be dumped!

But I need help. What laptop do you recommend? I have a Compac Pesario and would probably not get another one, but it was a gift. I can tell you what I really want, A Mac Book Pro, but um…I don’t have $3000 just lying around. Not until I sell my book for billions of dollars, the movie rights for trillions and open my theme park for ga-zillions! Until then, I have to budget and I don’t want to go over $1000.

Help me! You all know what I mainly need it for, writing. So tell me how much you love your laptop and maybe I can find a new one! Otherwise, I’m heading quickly to a padded cell and no one wants to see that.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Establishing Rules for Your Paranormal Character

One of the things my agent asked me to clarify was the rules to my characters abilities. She has psychic dreams and while I never though it needed to be defined more than that, I can now clearly see why it is oh so important.

The more I began to think about all the paranormal, fantasy or sci-fi stories I’ve read over the years, the more I began to realize they all had rules. Some rules are inherent, such as vampires being unable to go out into the sun, or werewolves changing with the full moon. Others are more mandates, like in Harry Potter, underage wizards aren’t allow to perform magic away from Hogwarts. They are physically capable of performing magic, however they face expulsion.

Rules in speculative fiction create conflict and raise stakes: the vampire who needs to go out in the daylight to save his one true love; the werewolf locked in a room with his family minutes away from the full moon; Harry Potter performing magic away from school while still underage is brought before an inquisition.

But on the flip side, establishing rules means exploring what happens when the rules are thrown out. The day-walking vampire or the werewolf who can change at will.

I thought about all of this while establishing the rules for my psychic dreaming mc. I needed rules for her actual dreams, how they come to her, how she sees them and how she can control them. Then I needed to establish the rules for her interference or lack there of. There has to consequences to just about every action taken, otherwise, why do it? I’m still thinking and tweaking. Hopefully, I’ll get it together.

How important are rules to you? Have you established rules for your speculative characters? Have you taken well known rules, such as no sunlight for vamps and turned them on their ear?

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

My Pandora Bracelet

Back in August I celebrated a birthday. A friend of mine gave me a Pandora bracelet. If you aren’t familiar with Pandora, check out their website if you are a fan of charm bracelets. Most of the women I work with have them and I’d decided that I didn’t want/need one. But now that I have one—which I truly appreciate—I’m happy about it, but I’m having the hardest time finding charms that resonate with me. That is the purpose of a charm bracelet, isn’t is?

While I was on vacation the cruise ship had a sale on charms. The best one I found was an owl to represent my love of Harry Potter-lol. So I began to wonder if I’m having such trouble finding something that speaks to me—as I watched other women snatch up charms like they were platinum M&Ms—because I’m not passionate about things.

I don’t have a favorite song, book, movie, or color. I love too many to narrow it down. Favorite songs change with my mood. Favorite books and movies change with the genre and favorite color changes based on what it is. I think I look nice in red, pale blues and pink, but I wouldn’t decorate my house in those colors. My mother, on the other hand, loves yellow. She likes to wear it, have her appliances in that color and paint her walls that color.

These are the things I’d love to have on my Pandora bracelet if I could…some I think I can pull off, but others might prove to be tricky.

A computer

A Book


A quill or some other writing instrument

The Big Bang Theory

Pride & Prejudice

The Walking Dead

So tell me, I can take it. I’m not normal. I know. What would that bracelet look like? A computer, a book, a music note, a quill, an atom, a petticoat and a zombie. Yeah, disturbing.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Multicultural Characters in YA

I know this is a well-discussed topic, however, I wanted to discuss it a bit more. One of the recent emails I received from my agent—gonna take me a while to get used to writing/saying that. My Agent!—listed all the things she loved about my ms. Diversity was one of them. She mentioned a specific passage she thought was handled well.

My MC is Cuban-American. She is second generation American and doesn’t speak much Spanish. I thought hard about that when she came to me as this tall, awkward, olive-skinned, Cuban girl with a love of auto mechanics. I don’t speak Spanish, although I’m on my way to learning. I didn’t want her to be CINO: Cuban In Name Only. But I didn’t want my book to be full of my flawed Spanish either-lol.

I had two things going for me. 1. I was writing this book in English and therefore, I didn’t need that much Spanish and 2. I used to live in Miami. Anyone who’s lived in, visited, flown over southern Florida knows it’s almost like living in Cuba. I had a diverse group of friends, ate Cuban food, danced in Cuban clubs with Cuban men…hem-hem, getting off topic. My point is I decided I had enough knowledge to create a character with first generation, Spanish speaking parents and make it as authentic as my experiences would allow.

One of my MC’s best friends is Jewish. As he is a side character and we don’t meet any of his family, and I didn’t want to play on the stereotypes, there are only certain things that will point to his Jewish-ness. I did consult with a few of my Jewish friends with some of the things I had him saying and doing. One thing in particular was his Jew-fro. He has very bushy hair and while I couldn’t see that being offensive, I wanted to check and make sure.

My MC’s other best friend is black. I didn’t really have to consult with anyone as I have personal experience being a 16 yr old black girl-lol. Although, I was never the daughter of a mega-rich rapper who just crossed over to action film star. But even as I tried to stay clear of stereotypes, they are there for a reason. They are based in some truth.

Years ago I was speaking with a fellow writer who explained why she wasn’t comfortable having a main character of a different race. She said it was because she had no experience being a black, Asian, or Hispanic woman so she couldn’t write them authentically. Well, I’ve never had any experience being a man, a white woman, a vampire, or a werewolf but I write them. That’s what research is for. That’s what exposing yourself to other cultures is for. I think these are things we owe to our readers. Showing them other worlds means showing them worlds with other races outside of the one you currently inhabit.

With all that said, you have to be comfortable to write well. So maybe everything I just said won’t matter to you. But it is a huge market that’s being underrepresented.