Character Spotlight: Lilah Williams

Questions for the Author:

What is your character’s name? Does he/she have a nickname?

The female protagonist in the Detective Florence series is Lilah Williams. She helps George with his freelance cases even though she’s a mere young adult without any experience in law enforcement. She does not have any nicknames, but if she’s annoying enough George may have a few choice words to say about her.

What color is his/her hair? What color are his/her eyes?

Lilah has thin, red hair flowing down to her waist. Her eyes are a bright green. George thinks she looks like an anime character.

Who are your character’s friends and family?

Lilah is an only child. She moved out of her house the moment she turned 18-years-old. Her father passed away when she was a baby and since then there was always some friction between her and her mother.

Where does your character live?

Lilah lives in a small apartment building. The apartment is big enough just for her; a small kitchen and living room, a bedroom, and a bathroom. She only gets along with her elderly neighbor. She can’t stand her landlord.

What is his/her biggest fear?

Lilah’s biggest fear is that she will not be able to make her mother proud. Lilah wants to be a published author. Her mother hoped she would try for a more “steady” job, so Lilah is determined to be a writer despite the lack of encouragement from her mother.

Has your character ever been in love and/or had a broken heart?

No, she has never been in love. Lilah is 20-years-old and while she goes to school, has friends, and meets a lot of people, she’s never been interested in starting a relationship. She’s been too busy focusing on her studies and writing career.

What kind of clothes does he/she wear?

Lilah likes to wear light blouses and jeans. She doesn’t enjoy the cold very much, but she prefers to wear short sleeves as though it was summer all year long. Since she can’t wear flip-flops in the winter, she sticks with sneakers. No matter how much snow is on the ground, she’ll still wear sneakers.

What is he/she doing on his/her day off?

She tries to do a lot on her day off. She’s either doing homework or she’s writing. Sometimes she’ll be cleaning because she can be a bit of a neat-freak. Lilah always feels the need to be busy so she is constantly on the go. Every once in a while, she’ll stop to play some Mario Kart, but it’s not often.

What is his/her overall personality like?

Lilah acts like a child most of the time. She is outgoing, head-strong, and can be boisterous at times. She doesn’t have a filter and tends to speak before she thinks. It usually gets her in trouble, but she always has a way to get out of it.

 

Questions for the Character: 

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

“I think going to school would be my greatest achievement. I never thought I was going to go to college once I finished high school simply because I didn’t like school. I didn’t think I was going to be motivated to go to class and do homework. Once I moved out of my mom’s house, I felt like an adult and thought I would give it a try. I wanted to do something with my writing and I thought learning different techniques through a classroom with adults in the same boat as me would be a good experience.”

What is it that you most dislike?

“I don’t like messy rooms. That’s why it’s kind of tough being around George sometimes. He has good organization skills when it comes to his job, but when it comes to keeping his home clean… not so much. I try to clean around him, but he gets mad because then he ‘can’t find anything’ which I think is a load of crap.”

What is your greatest regret?

“I didn’t get to know my father and in some ways, my mother. I know it’s not my fault—nor in my control—that he passed away when I was a baby, but it was partially because he died that I didn’t have a good relationship with my mother. We were never close so we never had that mother/daughter bonding time. Because of that, I never felt comfortable enough to ask her about my dad.”

What is your best trait?

“I am very observant and I take good notes. Whenever George and I go to a crime scene and something needs to be solved, I can pick up most clues and I write a lot of notes down in my notebook. I always carry that with me no matter where I am.”

What is your worst flaw?

“I don’t know when to quit. There have been a couple of times George has had to hide case files on me because I constantly try to solve them. I work until I’m too exhausted to work anymore and even then I still try to keep going.”

What is your hobby?

“Writing is definitely my hobby and I hope to someday make it my career. I would love to have the opportunity to write all day long. Of course, now that I’ve been hanging out with George and helping him out with his cases, I would like to say solving crimes is another hobby of mine… but that sounds kind of weird.”

Who do you most admire?

“I think I most admire my father, even though I never knew him. However, I’ve been learning a lot about him as George and I try to figure out his death. George has also told me a lot about him, too. My dad took his job seriously and he never gave up on anyone or his cases. He was always willing to help others.”

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My Planning Process

Yesterday I discussed different outlining methods for your novel. I talked about three techniques, but there are many more. Many are out there on the Internet and others are private between the novel and the author.

So today, I’m going to share my magnificent outlining secret!

Not really… I’m pretty sure I’ve seen people use this way before even though I thought I made it up myself.

All you need are six items: index cards, post-it notes, a pen, a pencil, a notebook, and tape. I like to use the bigger index cards to fit more notes. I also use colored index notes to make it look pretty. Same goes for the post-it notes; use pretty colors (but that’s totally optional). I use a pen to write on the index cards and post-it notes (because that’s what a pen is for). I use the pencil to number each post-it note (I’ll explain further in a minute). I use a notebook to put the post-it notes and the index cards. I use the tape to hold the index cards in place on the pages.

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I’ll use Detective Florence 2 as an example of this untitled outlining method. I have a total of ten index cards (there may end up being more). On one card I wrote a list of characters in the novel; main, secondary, minor, etc. I also wrote their ages and their purpose in the story. The list was too long so I taped a second index card on the bottom to continue the list. One card has a list of plot points; questions that need to be answered by the end of the book. One card is a general list of notes about plot, setting, characters, anything. Since DF2 is a mystery novel, two of the index cards are death details; “who, what, where, why, how, when” questions and answers. Two cards are the culprits plans; again, the who, why, what, etc. questions. It’s a lot of repetition, but mysteries have a lot of information that need to be remembered. I also have an index card with a list of dates and a small summary of what the characters did on each date. It helps keep track of the times and days in the novel for the characters. The last card is editing points, which I don’t create until I start the editing process.

I tape those down on the first few pages of the notebook, as shown above.

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The rest of the pages are filled with post-it notes. I use the pen to write in each scene on post-it notes. Each scene takes multiple post-its because I do a minute-by-minute summary. I don’t say, “this will happen in this scene.” I say, “George will do this” then “Lilah will say that.” Post-it notes are small and my handwriting is big; but I think it’s more helpful to be more detailed rather than give a general summary of each scene. I like to lay each scene out so I know exactly what to do next. Sometimes it changes, but that’s okay; at least I start off with a plan.

That’s exactly why I use post-it notes. If something changes, I can easily add, take out, or simply rearrange the notes. That’s also where the pencil comes in. I number each post-it note–despite they’re already in order in the notebook–so if I move them around I can erase and re-number them instead of crossing out the numbers with a pen.

Since I’ve already edited the manuscript once, some post-its got moved around. Others got cut completely. However, you should never waste an idea you once thought was good or needed. So, in the back of the notebook I stack all the unused ideas together. Some might end up back in the novel and others might appear in the sequel. You just never know.

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If you look closely at the picture, you’ll see there are 15 notes that didn’t make the cut this time around.

Now, why do I use a notebook? When I first thought of this method I used a giant poster and stuck everything on there. I hung it on the wall behind my desk for easy access as I wrote and edited. The thing was, the post-it notes kept falling off the more I moved them around. They lost their stick so I tried taping them down like I did with the index cards. That just ripped the poster so I would have to replace the tape each time I moved a note. It was more tedious than it needed to be.

So I decided to use a notebook. I can close the cards and notes inside so they don’t fall off and they don’t get crinkled up. Plus, you can see from the pictures that there is still some room (mostly just the margins) to add in notes about the notes.

This method is easy, flexible, and doesn’t take much time. That’s why I love it so much. So feel free to try it out for yourselves, regardless of what genre you’re working on. I hope it works just as well for you as it does for me.

 

School Days

Today was the first day back to school for me. It’s my last semester for my Bachelor’s degree, so keep your fingers crossed everything goes well!

This semester I’m taking…

Intro to Developmental Disabilities. It’s a psychology course and I took it for my English degree because I needed two non-English electives. I decided to take psychology because it’s always been an interesting subject for me. Also, I work with special education kids, so I thought it would be helpful to know. Of course, despite the title of the course, it’s not at all what I thought it would be. It’s able living among people with disabilities. How they live and how they fit in around us. I was expecting to have more knowledge on actual disabilities and that’s not what it is. However, after doing the first assignment I kind of got a taste of what the course description actually means. It might turn out to be good after all.

Spanish. Every degree, as far as I know, has a foreign language requirement. So I’m finally on my last Spanish course. It’s accelerated, so it’s only 10-weeks as opposed to my other classes that are 14-weeks. It will be a good class. I’ve had the professor before and she’s great. I enjoy Spanish and wish I was fluent in it… with enough practice, maybe I will be someday. It’s intimidating, though. Since it’s accelerated the homework load is a bit much. It’ll take up a good chunk of my time each week.

American Women Novelists. I have to take a diversity English course and this counted so… I took it. To be honest, it’s not the kind of class I would willingly take, but it seems good. We’ll be reading a lot of novels by women authors. Our first book is by Sylvia Plath. I’ve heard of her, but never read anything from her. There was only one other author I heard from and actually read one of her books and that’s Jacqueline Woodson. I read one of her books back in middle school and enjoyed it, so I’m hoping I enjoy this book as well.

Creative Writing: Non-Fiction. Last semester I took Creative Writing: Fiction I. I was hoping to take Fiction II this semester just to complete it, but it wasn’t offered for some reason. I decided to go along with Non-Fiction I, even though I wouldn’t be able to take Non-Fiction II either because this is my last semester. I’ve always been interested in Non-Fiction, so it’ll be a good class. I’m sure I’ll learn something new.

With that being said, I did a lot of homework today both before and after work. I got a good chunk done–I only have to do a bit of reading for my Novelists class and my Disabilities class. I have to do a writing prompt for my Non-Fiction class, but that won’t take too long and it will be easy. So I think I did a good job with homework today considering I don’t have much left.

Except Spanish. I didn’t touch Spanish yet.

So I didn’t get much editing done on Detective Florence 2 today. I typed up about ten pages of the next draft before my eyes started crossing from the computer screen. Aside from being at work, I’ve been staring at the computer all day long.

That’s how my day went… and how all my days will go now that school has started again. Now I’m off to go get some reading done for my classes. I always try to finish my homework by the weekend so I can relax and also spend my weekend writing. I’m off to a good start so far!

Long Weekend

Via Pinterest
Via Pinterest

This past weekend lasted three days thanks to our good friend Martin Luther King, Jr. I know a lot of people who are thankful for him because we get a day off from work/school, but there is so much more meaning behind the holiday than that.

I had an eventful weekend. It was busy, but in a good way. However, I can’t seem to remember Friday. I think I worked Friday and then came home and did nothing. I think Kris and I ended up playing Hyrule Warriors for a good chunk of the night.

Saturday we went to Barnes and Noble. She hand edited the first draft of her novel while I typed up the next draft of Detective Florence 2. We then went to Staples because we needed ink for our printer and we bought red pens because… why not? We went home and I spent the next 2-3 hours planning my Sunday school lesson plan for the following day. I was printing stuff out and my laptop kept losing internet so the connection to the wireless printer kept getting interrupted. I wasted a lot of paper… and ink that we just bought.

I babysat Saturday night for two kids I had at my old preschool. They kept talking about Martin Luther King, Jr. which was nice to hear they were learning about him in school. The 4-year-old told me, “Everyone has skin, but not everyone has the same skin.” Yes, I think that sums it up quite nicely.

Sunday morning I had church and my Sunday school class. The kids were off the wall, but I guess that’s expected from a long weekend. After church I dusted my bedroom and office and just did a bit of organizing. I planned on getting more cleaning done, but I didn’t. While my parents watched football, Kris and I watched two episodes of House Hunters before talking for the next 4-5 hours about writing, friends, high school, life, etc.

I’m including today in the weekend since I did not have work and I have to say it was mighty productive. My parents were out all day, so Kris and I went to Starbucks in the morning and then came home to edit. We’re both in the process of typing up the second draft of our novels. Then we went out for lunch, walked around Barnes and Noble for a bit (because we’re obviously not there enough), then went back home to write/edit some more. I typed up over 10k words of my draft and I’m still going. I just wanted to post on here before I forgot/it got too late.

Tomorrow is Tuesday the 20th which means back to work and… back to school for me. This means starting tomorrow I have to get myself in a new routine and add homework into the mix of everything else. On the bright side, it’s my last semester! Let’s pray I get through it safe and sound.

How was your weekend?

George And Me

In yesterday’s post, I discussed how every author puts a little bit of themselves (or something from their life) into their novels. For me, there are numerous things I throw into my novels that are inspired by true things in life. I won’t spill all my secrets, so for now I’ll just explain my good friend George Florence.

20150115_170826George, my protagonist, is a 30-year-old laid-off detective trying to make a place for himself in the world while doing what he loves: helping people and fighting crime.

Being a police officer was something I wanted to do when I was very young. Even when I knew I wanted to be a teacher and writer, I still had a spot in my mind that wanted to be a cop. I wanted to be a teacher since I was six-years-old because of my first grade teacher. I wanted to be a writer since I was ten-years-old because of Kris. Where did this cop thing come from? I have no idea.

When I was little I was always fascinated with that sort of thing. I remember I had a spy kit with handcuffs, a decoder, a notepad, and–the best part–rear-view sunglasses. I was always trying to solve “mysteries” around the house. One time, Kris and I eavesdropped on my mom’s phone call because we were looking for “evidence” in our case, “Mom’s Cooking: Real or Take-Out?” I can’t remember how old we were, but I wish I did.

However despite my fascination, I never pursued it for a plethora of reasons. I’m tiny and have no upper body strength, I can’t stand loud noises, I’m squeamish, and I’m not good under pressure. I just don’t think it wouldn’t have worked out. Of course you never know until you try, but I think when I discovered teaching/writing, my heart changed its mind.

I have written a few novels. Most of them are fantasy-ish with the main characters having super powers. A couple of them are cliche high school drama stories. Each one of those manuscripts (five of them total) are still on the first draft. I congratulate myself for completing a novel, but editing them is just not something I have the motivation to do.

20150115_170900Then I created George. He was a silly character started in a yellow notebook a few years ago at Barnes and Noble when I didn’t know what else to write.

I say he was a “silly” character because that’s entirely what he was. He was originally a detective who did well at his job, but had no common sense whatsoever. He was comical. I didn’t expect to go anywhere with it, but I liked the story. I wrote 32 notebook pages before I stopped and moved onto something else.

Who knew that years later George would rise to the surface and be who he is today?

Unlike my other novels, I completed a first draft easily and then had the urge to edit it right away. I want to continue his story. I want to write more books about him. I want to publish them all. Needless to say, I think I have found my genre for writing.

Funny how it turned out to be a secret passion of mine.

It’s also funny because George was inspired by Phoenix Wright, a character from the Ace Attorney video game series. I played those games and wanted to write my own mysteries and decided to revive George as my main man.

Of course… now that I write this post I realize that George wasn’t originally based off of Phoenix Wright. He was based off of me.