Meet Jake Fletcher (AKA Bachelor Number One, The 12 Dates of Christmas)

Today, I’d like to introduce you to Jake Fletcher, the other love interest for Daniela, the MC of my upcoming book, The 12 Dates of Christmas. Like Evan, whom you met last week, Jake is also a decent guy. Feel free to get to know him a bit!

Here is a quick look at Jake, or his character aesthetic, if you will:

 

Jake CA

  1.  This is Jake. As far as Daniela’s love interests, he is something of a wildcard. Though physically he is her type, Jake is creative. Daniela usually goes for fellow math and science nerds. Musician Shawn Mendes was the inspiration for Jake.
  2.  He plays guitar, sings, and writes songs, and has his own band.
  3.  He volunteers at a dog rescue, and also his local food bank.
  4. Jake is seventeen the same age as Daniela.

Below are more important details about Jake, or his character sketch, or dossier, if you will:

(if you’d like a copy of the worksheet, it can be found here)

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  • Name:  Jacob Alexander Fletcher
  • Nickname: Jake
  • Birth Date/Place: August 17, 2002/Tampa, FL
  • Character Role: Secondary character and one of two (possibly three) love interests of Daniela, the MC

Physical Descriptions:

  • Age:  17
  • Race:  Caucasian
  • Eye Color:  Brown
  • Hair Color/Style:  Dark brown, short
  • Build (height/Weight): Tall with a muscular build/6 feet 2 inches/160 pounds
  • Skin tone:  Fair
  • Style of Dress:  Mostly casual, jeans, band tees, button-down shirts, engineer boots, Converse

Characteristics or Mannerisms:

  • Personality Traits: Confident but not cocky, nice and sweet (possibly too nice), a do-gooder Positive:  Articulate, Considerate, creative, friendly, open, vivacious Negative: Jealous, touchy at times,
  • Background: Lower-middle class
  • Internal Conflicts: Has a hard time trusting people. He actively works on getting better about it, but it doesn’t always happen.
  • External Conflicts: Because of a traumatic experience in his past, he is deep into volunteer work. Between that and his band, he has little time for dating and socializing.
  • Occupation/Education: High school student
  • Miscellaneous Notes: He’s a nice guy, possibly too nice, which may be a negative for some girls. He puts his hand behind his neck and rubs when he is nervous or caught off-guard. Has a megawatt smile and wholesome good looks.

And that’s Jake! Or at least the short version. You can get to know him better in The 12 Dates of Christmas, which will be released in November!

*release date to be revealed later 😉

 

Meet Evan Chapman (AKA Bachelor Number Two, The 12 Dates of Christmas)

This week, I’d like to introduce you to Evan Chapman, one of Daniela’s love interests in my upcoming book, The 12 Dates of Christmas. He’s a pretty decent guy, so please, get to know him a bit!

Here is a quick look at Evan, his character aesthetic, if you will:

Evan CA

 

  1. This is Evan. As far as Daniela’s love interests, he is the slightly older wildcard. Actor Jeremy Irvine was the inspiration for Evan.
  2.  He is into boxing, mainly as a way to stay fit, but he also finds it cathartic, a release from everything going on in his life.
  3.  He is studying cybersecurity at an IT school.
  4.  At nineteen, Evan is two years older than Daniela.

Below are more important details about Evan, or his character sketch, or dossier, if you will:

(if you’d like a copy of the worksheet, it can be found here)

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  • Name:  Evan Joseph Chapman
  • Nickname: none
  • Birth Date/Place: April 21, 2000/Atlanta, GA
  • Character Role: Secondary character and one of two (possibly three) love interests of Daniela, the MC

Physical Descriptions:

  • Age:  19
  • Race:  Caucasian
  • Eye Color:  Blue
  • Hair Color/Style:  Golden blond, short
  • Build (height/Weight): Tall with an athletic build/6 feet 1 inch/165 pounds
  • Skin tone:  Fair
  • Style of Dress:  Mostly casual, jeans, tees, sweaters, sneakers, Chelsea boots, fitted jackets

Characteristics or Mannerisms:

  • Personality Traits: Confident but can also be standoffish. He has a good sense of humor but can also be awkward at times. Positive:  Adventurous, affectionate, dependable, disciplined, hard-working, mature, self-confident, sincere Negative: Aggressive (when need be), cold (at times), impatient, sly
  • Background: Middle class
  • Internal Conflicts: Is closed off until he gets to know someone; builds walls to keep people out
  • External Conflicts: Has a busy life with school and taking care of his elderly, ailing grandfather. Hasn’t had much time for socializing. Does have a stalker!
  • Occupation/Education: Technical college student
  • Miscellaneous Notes: He’s a nice guy, but not too nice. Looks like a “bad boy” but isn’t. Has a chin dimple and sports a bit of facial hair. Likes to stay in shape by boxing and hiking. Has a dead-sexy half-smile.

And that is Evan! The condensed version, at least. You can get to know him better in The 12 Dates of Christmas, which will be released in November!

*release date to be revealed later 😉

 

Meet Daniela Bellamy (MC, The 12 Dates of Christmas)

I’d like to introduce you to Daniela Bellamy, my main character from The 12 Dates of Christmas. I’ve spent a lot of time with Daniela over the past year, and I think she’s awesome. I hope you do too!

Here is a quick look at Daniela, as well as what she’s into. (in the biz, we call this a character aesthetic)

Daniela CA

  1. This is Daniela. In my mind, she is the wholesome-looking, girl-next-door type. She’s beautiful but doesn’t know it. Actress Bailee Madison was the inspiration for Daniela.
  2.  She has an obsession with romantic comedies.
  3.  Daniela is a math and science whiz and wants to study mechanical engineering in college. Robotics is her area of interest.
  4.  She loves dogs and has a golden retriever mix named Archie.

Below are more important details about Daniela. (in the biz, we call this a character sketch, or if you want to be fancy, a character dossier, and this one can be found here)

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  • Name:  Daniela Quinn Bellamy
  • Nickname: Dani, but only her parents and Sebastian (a close friend) call her that
  • Birth Date/Place: February 4, 2002/Raleigh, NC
  • Character Role: Main character and protagonist; most of the story is told from her POV

Physical Descriptions:

  • Age:  17
  • Race:  Caucasian
  • Eye Color:  Light brownHair Color/Style:  Dark brown, long and straight, though sometimes she does put soft waves in her hair
  • Build (height/Weight): Small and slender; 5 feet 3 inches, 110 pounds
  • Skin tone:  Fair
  • Style of Dress:  Mostly casual, skinny jeans, tees, sweaters, boots, Converse

Characteristics or Mannerisms:

  • Personality Traits: Shy and introverted, except in her small circle of friends. She takes schoolwork and herself seriously, but she does have a sense of humor and isn’t afraid to make a joke. Positive: Bright, focused, friendly, intelligent, kind, orderly, polite, rational, self-disciplined, warm, well-read Negative: Fussy (sometimes), some might find her dull, passive (sometimes)
  • Background: Upper-middle-class
  • Internal Conflicts: Wants a boyfriend but after failing miserably to find one, she’s given up on the idea. So, when she realizes she has feelings for someone she thinks is off-limits, she keeps it to herself.
  • External Conflicts: She’s awkward around boys, which doesn’t help her situation. She has to consider the feelings of someone close to her after she realizes who she wants to be with.
  • Occupation/Education: High school student, senior
  • Miscellaneous Notes: Has a knack for doing or saying something awkward. Looks at things analytically. Doesn’t wear much makeup; usually just mascara and lip balm. Likes to put her long hair up in a messy bun.

And that is Daniela! In a nutshell, anyway. You can get to know her better in The 12 Dates of Christmas, which will be released in November!

*release date to be revealed later 😉

 

Ta-Da! A Cover Reveal!

Drumroll, please! In this post, I am revealing The 12 Dates of Christmas cover!

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Last month, my newsletter subscribers got the first look at the cover, and now, I’m ready to share it publicly. I really like it and hope you do too!

So, without further ado, The 12 Dates of Christmas book cover:

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It’s cute, it’s simple, and I think it does a great job of letting readers know what the book is about. Yes, the title alone tells you that the book is set during Christmas. Along with the title, the mistletoe reinforces that it’s a romance, while the cover model clearly indicates that this is Young Adult. I wanted a simple, to-the-point cover, and this one was perfect. My thanks to http://www.selfpubbookcovers.com/andrewgraphics!

I’m so excited about the upcoming release of The 12 Dates of Christmas and can’t wait to share more with you!

 

My October Writerly Goals

Wow! September went by in a flash, and unfortunately, it wasn’t as productive as I had hoped. But life sometimes gets in the way and there’s nothing you can do about it except start anew. That’s why I love the start of a new month! But first, let me recap my September goals.

I did finish the final short story for A Sky Full of Stars and I did publish the second edition of the ebook which contains all three short stories. That is a huge weight lifted from my shoulders! With that checked off my list, I can now concentrate more on my current WIP.

I am so happy to say that the redecoration of my writing space is complete! I really love it and can’t wait to show it off. That reveal will be later in October!

I did very little book marketing for my WIP, The 12 Dates of Christmas. I only did two posts, maybe three. I have no choice but to count that as a fail. And like I mentioned above, life got in the way and I didn’t complete my first round of edits either. I’m disappointed in myself, but I’m not going to wallow. I’ll just commit to doing better in October!

On that positive note, here are my October writerly goals:

  • Complete first-round edits for The 12 Dates of Christmas
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I will have to caffeinate and plant my butt in my new chair in my newly redone writing space, but I do feel confident! I’m already in the process of sendings chapters to my critique partners, and they have been so helpful that the second round of edits should go really smoothly. I just need to make sure I get the whole manuscript edited in October and in the hands of my CPs!

  • Ramp up book marketing for The 12 Dates of Christmas
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This is going to take some serious planning, but it’s a necessary evil. I’m thinking about taking a different tack, such as dedicating one or two days per week to book marketing. Knowing I have time set aside for it will help, and I hope it will quell my overwhelming sense of doom. I’ve said before how book marketing is a black hole of despair, at least to me, and that hasn’t gotten any better. But time dedicated only to book marketing will, I think, allow me to get better at it. Before I know it, I’ll be a book marketing guru! Okay, probably not, but if it gets any easier, that’ll be enough for me. And thanks to Hootsuite, scheduling marketing posts across social media is a breeze!

  • Update my website
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I’ve been so busy that keeping my website updated has gotten lost in the fray. For sure, I want to put some things related to The 12 Dates of Christmas there, and perhaps a Pinterest share button. Other things need updating too, so I need to set aside a day to get all of it done. Part of me wants to give my website a whole new look, but I’m not committing to that right now!

For October, I decided to limit myself to three goals. The editing and book marketing will both be time-consuming, and by only having three goals, I won’t feel too overloaded. That is something I need to start keeping in mind. With the holiday season right around the corner, I need to make sure not to spread myself too thin! I don’t operate very well under pressure!

Where To Find Inspiration

Writers shouldn’t wait for inspiration to hit in order to start writing. Writers write every day, even if it’s just a journal entry or a 100-word flash fiction piece. Somedays all a writer can manage to get on paper is a shopping list. But writers don’t wait around. Dan Poynter said it best: “If you wait for inspiration to write, you’re not a writer, you’re a waiter.

So where can one find inspiration? Here are my answers to that question.

  • A Mirror
woman in black t shirt staring on wall mirror

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Yep, that’s right. Your best stories could be right under your nose! Did you have an unconventional childhood? Have you had an epic adventure that either went spectacularly well or horrifically wrong or a little of both? As an adult, are you taking care of your aging parents? All of us have stories to tell. You can go the memoir route, even if it’s just for the eyes of family and friends. But you can also give your fictional characters some of your experiences. We often give our characters some of our physical or emotional traits, so why not our experiences, be they good or bad? If you look back on the things you’ve been through, you’re sure to have a lot of material to draw on!

  • People You Know
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Your friends and family will also have many personal experiences different from yours, and that is a potential wealth of stories. If you decide to write about someone else’s experiences, please get their permission first! You probably don’t want to make others angry or get into any sort of trouble, so please ask beforehand. Be respectful if it’s not your story to tell!

But if you get the go-ahead, it can open up many possibilities to you!

  • A Coffeehouse
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This is a great one! If you go and sit at a coffeehouse for a while, you can see and hear some great things. You might hear a snippet of conversation so shocking or funny that it sparks a story idea. You might witness flirtations – either between two customers or between a barista and a customer. You might even have someone at the coffeehouse do something bold, like come up to you and ask you out! You never know, and that’s the beauty of it.

Even if story ideas aren’t sparked, coffeehouses are a wonderful place for character inspiration. It’s always a good idea to keep a running list of physical and emotional traits that we can give to future characters, but we can also make notes of mannerisms, speech patterns, and quirks. Then when you do get a story idea, you can look back at your list and have fun drawing up your characters!

  • A Great Book Or Movie
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I’m a big fan of retellings, and there is so much inspiration to draw on out there. In fact, I did do this! My book, A Sky Full Of Stars, is a retelling of Pretty In Pink, one of my favorite movies. I took the basic story but also made some changes to make it modern. Do you have a favorite book or movie that you’d like to put your own spin on?

Everything is getting the retelling treatment, from fairy tales to Shakespeare, so if there’s an older work out there that you absolutely love, why not try it? I know I will definitely do a retelling again in the future!

  • Photographs
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Photos are fantastic story starters! Sure, you may take a photo yourself that gives you an idea for a story, but if you’re not much of a shutterbug, there are several stock photo websites where you can browse and soak up inspiration. One of my favorites is https://unsplash.com/. You can search by topic or browse collections that are already curated. It can be a huge time suck, so be careful!

I should also mention http://www.100wordstory.org/. They have a different photo prompt each month, and you can submit your 100-word story inspired by that photo right there on the website. This can be not only fun, but it’s a great way to warm up for your writing session or to pull you out of writer’s block.

  • Writing Prompts
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I use this one quite a bit, and there’s never a shortage of writing prompts out there! Online, just search “writing prompts” and you’ll have many hits. You can also do a search for a random word generator. These are so fun! Most random word generators will let you choose how many words you’d like to see, ranging from one to ten. So, you can get a list of three words, and make up a story using those words. If you’d like more of a challenge, you can get a longer list of words.

You can also search for #writingprompt on Twitter and Instagram for ideas. I do recommend keeping a list of writing prompts that you like – you never know when you might need one!

Again, you may not get an entire book idea out of a writing prompt, but you might get a short story idea or an interesting piece of flash fiction out of one. At the very least, you can use writing prompts to flex your writing muscles!

  • Anywhere, Any Time
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Lastly, I do want to say that although there are specific places you can look to for inspiration, always keep your eyes and ears open. You can come across inspiration virtually anywhere at any time. If you can’t carry a notebook with you for just such occasions, make a note on your phone or record a voice memo. You’ll most likely be glad for it!

 

My Favorite Book-To-Movie Adaptations

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As a writer, I do read quite a bit. Okay, I read all the time. I love books! I also love movies, so when the two come together, I’m usually a very happy camper. Not always, but most of the time.

It’s so exciting when you learn that a book you enjoyed is being adapted to film. You immediately start casting the roles in your head (if you didn’t do that when you read the book) and send up prayers to any gods who will listen that the filmmakers stick close to the story and not make wild and crazy changes for no apparent reason. Or maybe that’s just me who does that.

Or, you see a movie trailer that’s based on a book you haven’t read, and it looks so good that you immediately go buy the book or head to the library to check out a copy. Then you write in your calendar or planner the date by which you need to have to have the book finished. Again, that could be just me.

Either way, let me say here and now that the book is always better than the movie. I repeat, the book is always better than the movie.

Okay, that’s my opinion, but I honestly can’t think of an instance where the movie was better than the book. Of course, I haven’t seen all the movies or read all the books in existence, so there could be a superior film version. If there is, I just haven’t seen it.

With this week’s release of the highly anticipated film adaptation of The Goldfinch, I thought I would share my favorite book-to-movie adaptations. I hope you agree with some of these!

  • To Kill A Mockingbird (1962)

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To Kill A Mockingbird is much beloved (for good reason) and is one of my all-time favorite books and the film adaptation does not disappoint. The film was nominated for eight Academy Awards and won three. One of those went to Gregory Peck for Best Actor, for his portrayal of Atticus Finch. It also won for Best Adapted Screenplay. Both awards were well-deserved. If you haven’t seen the movie, do yourself a favor and watch.

  • Room (2015)

 

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This is pretty tough subject matter, and seeing it onscreen was even more intense than reading it. Brie Larson gives a fantastic performance as a trauma victim and young mother and won an Academy Award for her efforts. Jacob Tremblay, who plays Larson’s son, is outstanding as a five-year-old boy born in captivity who experiences the outside world for the first time. It’s a great story about survival and love. Just have the tissues ready!

  • Gone Girl (2014)

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This is one of my favorite thrillers ever! The book was the center of all kinds of hype, which I think it lived up to. I mean, how crazy pants is Amy Dunne? And Rosamund Pike’s portrayal of Amy is spot on. I love stories where you don’t know which character to trust, and this is an example of that done well. It was even more thrilling and intense to watch Pike plan and execute her husband’s (played by Ben Affleck) ruin.

  • Pride And Prejudice (1995)

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I know, I know. This isn’t a film! It’s a BBC miniseries. But I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention it. It’s a beautiful adaptation. And well, Colin Firth is in it, so that’s another point in its favor. Pride And Prejudice is one of the most beloved novels ever, and it’s also in my top three favorite books. The entire cast is excellent and the sets and costumes are superb. I know there have been actual film adaptations, but this six-episode miniseries is worth the time it takes to watch.

  • Clueless (1995)

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Okay, so this isn’t strictly an adaptation, but more like a modern retelling of Jane Austen’s Emma. Whatever you want to call it, it’s great fun and so quotable! And watching it now makes me nostalgic for the 90s, with all the great fashion, slang, and pop culture that defined the decade. And I still come across people who don’t know that this movie is loosely based on an Austen novel. As if!

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These are just five of my favorite book-to-movie adaptations. I had to stop somewhere! If you like, leave me your favorites in the comments – I’m always looking for great movies to watch!