Every few days I think I really should write a blog, then I usually don't do it. Every two weeks the group blog I'm part of, V-Formation, reminds me it's my turn and I usually come up with something. A lot has been happening lately, but I don't seem to be able to latch onto one thing and turn it into a blog. That means this will be one of those "little of everything" kind of blogs.
February is a birthday month in my family, two grandsons, a granddaughter, and a brother. Toys R Us here I come! Shopping for gifts for the little ones is fun, but the older ones are more of a problem. On Sunday we'll get together for ice cream and cake and a lot of visiting and catching up. That's one of the fun things about having our children close enough for casual get-togethers.
I made it to finalist status for the Whitney Awards- Historical novel category- with Where the River Once Flowed. Thanks to everyone who nominated my book and thanks to the judges for including it in the five finalists. The winner will be announced in April. I feel greatly honored to be a finalist and to have my book included in such prestigious company. All four of the other finalists are fantastic books; Belonging to Heaven by Gale Sears, Esther the Queen by H.B. Moore, Safe Passage by Carla Kelly, and The Mounds Anomally by Phyllis Gunderson.
I'm becoming more comfortable wearing an insulin pump. Becoming a diabetic at this stage of my life is a challenge, but at least I no longer have to worry about pancreatic cancer.
Speaking of cancer, we learned this past week that one of our sons-in-law has two forms of cancer. The thyroid cancer was easily taken care of with surgery, but the lymphoma will be a harder fix. He's physically and spiritually strong, so he has every chance of making it through this challenge, and he has strong support from family and friends.
Lately I've been reading the Whitney finalists I somehow missed during the past year along with new books for possible reviews. In the process I've met a number of both plausible and implausible characters. They've got me thinking about what works and what doesn't in characters and plots a writer creates. Like my mixed bag of occurrences in my personal life, I find characters with multiple responsibilities and interests more believable than single focus characters. But just as in our real lives we can't be spread too thin dealing with multiple problems and be effective in dealing with any of them, characters lose their appeal when they're experts in everything. Writers who go off in too many directions, spend too much time describing scenery, or educating their readers concerning a pet interest that doesn't move the story forward lose readers' interest. Just because we spend a lot of time researching doesn't mean we have to use every bit of that research in our story. Fiction is best when it maintains its focus.
Readers don't buy into characters that are too perfect either. Most writers know that like real people, realistic characters have flaws. Sometimes it's some sort of physical handicap, but more often it's an unhealed emotional issue. This is an area where a writer needs to be careful. The flaw should make the reader sympathize with the character, but not pity him or her, nor consider the character a whiner, cry baby, or bully. And the flaw should not be so annoying it takes over the story or interrupts the flow of the story.
In other words, a novel shouldn't ramble like this blog has done!