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Creative Edge – Author Interview – Ann Charles

June 25, 2020
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Ann Charles 2017 Color Comp

  1. Why did you choose to write mysteries?

I enjoy the puzzle-like challenge that comes with writing a mystery. My stories are actually more character-driven than plot-driven, though, so as much as I enjoy the challenge of writing a mystery, I also have fun exploring character growth on the page.

  1. Is it a genre you enjoy reading as well?

Actually, I don’t read mysteries as much as I do other genres, such as westerns, supernatural suspense, and romance. That’s probably why my books are actually more mixed genre than straight mysteries. I like to include humor, supernatural elements, romance, suspense, and adventure on the page along with the mystery plot.

  1. What sparked your first book idea?

I was unhappy with the endings in several books I’d recently read and decided I wanted to try my hand at writing different endings that satisfied me more. This idea grew into me creating the story from start to end, which then blossomed into writing full-length novels. Novels soon changed into long-running series, and now I have five different series I juggle.

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  1. Do you prefer writing series or stand-a-lone novels? 

I like writing series because I enjoy developing characters. It’s more fulfilling to develop these characters over a long-running series than trying to fit it all into one story. My character arcs span the whole series, allowing them to grow and change with every book.

  1. Does your background and location help you capture a setting for your characters/settings? Or is it just imagination? 

I believe my background and the places I’ve lived/visited play a role in capturing a setting, but my imagination takes ideas to the next level. I have a series set here in Arizona where I live (Jackrabbit Junction Mystery series), and I have spent many summers and holidays in the Deadwood, South Dakota area because my mom moved there when I was in seventh grade. While my Dig Site series takes place in the Yucatan (an area of Mexico which I have not visited yet), that series plays on my dream of being an archaeologist, allowing me to explore that field without actually living down there under the trees.

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  1. What benefit do you feel comes with the illustrations? Why did you choose that format?

My brother is my illustrator, so I enjoy including his art in my stories. I think illustrations help bring the story to life even more for readers. In addition, these illustrations add to my Ann Charles author brand and help set my stories apart from others. Not many adult fiction novels have illustrations in them these days.

  1. Is Violet “Spooky” Parker based on someone real or a combination of characters?

Violet is a mixture of my imagination and my sense of humor. She isn’t based on anyone I know. Her character became clear to me after some time spent imagining her life and struggles as I worked on the setup for the first Deadwood novel, Nearly Departed in Deadwood.

  1. Did you plan your mystery/ humor/ romance subplot plot lines, or did it evolve as your crafted the stories?

I knew from the start of the Deadwood and Jackrabbit Junction Mystery series that I was going to write mixed genre stories with mystery as the main plot. I’ve always enjoyed funny romance stories and had worked for years on strengthening that part of my storytelling, studying humor and romance in books and practicing my ability to mix them together on the page. My favorite movies are mixed genre with these elements, so it’s not a surprise that these are the stories that come out on the page for me.

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  1. Was it a conscious decision to become an author?

Not really. I’ve always enjoyed reading books, but writing was not on my radar until my senior year in high school. Even then, though, I really didn’t plan on becoming an author and spent years in college studying Spanish and daydreaming of other careers. In the end, I took so many English classes in college that I figured I might as well minor in creative writing and see where this urge to tell stories led me.

  1. Do you feel self-publishing has benefited you more than other options?

Self-publishing has allowed me to explore story lines without an outside influence, as in a marketing department that might have forced me to write what was hot in the “market” at the time. Also, I have learned so much about marketing and promotion because I’ve been in charge of building my career. I did not set out to be an entrepreneur, but I enjoy most of the aspects of running my own business and plan to continue on this path for as long as I can.

  1. Which character do you enjoy writing the most & why?

That’s a tough question—I don’t think I have a single favorite. I enjoy switching between my different series and exploring different characters and their adventures. Violet Parker is fun because I get to dabble in the supernatural with her and she makes me laugh often. The Morgan sisters from my Jackrabbit Junction series are a blast and are always getting into mix-ups with the law. They allow me to explore sisterhood and have fun in the Arizona desert. In my Dig Site series, I enjoy playing archaeologist, and in the Deadwood Undertaker series that I write with my husband, Sam Lucky, I get to write westerns, which is something I have wanted to do for years but was apprehensive about all of the research it would take to make sure the historical elements were accurate. In the end, I like switching between each series and exploring life with different characters.

  1. Have any of your manuscripts gone in a vastly different direction to what you thought they would? 

I often vary from my original plot line ideas that I come up with before starting. These initial plot lines I put together just let me know that I have a story possibility and give me the confidence to go forth and dive into a story. I’m not very good at detailed planning when it comes to books and tend to give my brain the room to come up with new ideas to explore along the way.

  1. How can readers find you? What social media site links can you share?

Website: http://www.anncharles.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AnnCharlesAuthorPage

Twitter: https://twitter.com/annwcharles

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ann_charles

Snapchat: https://www.snapchat.com/add/annwcharles

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/AnnWCharles

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/ann-charles

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4605878.Ann_Charles

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Ann-Charles/e/B004JLYPFW

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/AnnCharlesAuthor

  1. Is there anything you would like to share with your readers?

My books are meant to give you a fun escape. I try to teach a little history along the way, but mainly I want to provide fictional places that will make you smile or laugh as well as wince now and then. Also, all but my AC Silly Circus series having crossover characters, which my readers tend to enjoy. It’s always fun to come across a Deadwood series character in my Jackrabbit Junction books, and vice versa. I have a list of my books in series reading order as well as an overall list of all of my books in timeline order on my website (under the Books section) so that you can choose in what order you’d like to read them.

Ann Charles Bio:

USA Today Bestselling author, Ann Charles, writes spicy mysteries full of comedy, adventure, suspense, romance, and paranormal mayhem. Ann has a B.A. in English with an emphasis on creative writing from the University of Washington and is a member of Sisters in Crime and Western Writers of America. When she’s not dabbling in fiction, she’s arm wrestling with her two kids, attempting to seduce her husband, and arguing with her sassy cats.

Creative Edge

 

 

What’s Your Monomania..?

July 22, 2013
mandyevebarnett


Monomania – definition: obsession with a single subject or idea

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Well, I’m sure you are all aware of my monomania – writing but it would be fun to see what your obsession is.

Since finding ‘writing’ as a creative outlet there has been no stopping me. The added benefits are the friends I have made through the Writers Foundation of Strathcona County and through all the forms of social media I subscribe to, especially this blog.

Take a peek at this great links:

http://www.thechangeblog.com/monomaniacal-obsession/

http://amboyle.com/2012/10/01/writing-a-blessing-or-a-curse.aspx

Related link:

http://jegvilhaalt.wordpress.com/2013/06/26/monomania/

A Character’s Tribulation…

July 14, 2013
mandyevebarnett


Tribulation – definition: a severe trial or period of suffering

Obstacles

To thoroughly engage our readers our characters have to face or overcome trials of one sort or another. This is the core of our stories.

In my novel, Life in Slake Patch, my POV character, Evan had a difficult dilemma. Whether to choose between upholding the matriarchy laws and suffer separation from his lover, side with the rebellious Tribe or somehow find a compromise.

With my reincarnation romance, The Twesome Loop, my 18th century character, Gabriella wanted to escape from her cruel but wealthy husband. She would have to  risk destitution with her young son or follow her heart with her husband’s younger brother, Arthur. Within the modern era of the same novel, Melissa could suffer years of neglect from her conniving husband as he spent her inheritance or forge a new life for herself in Italy.

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And my fantasy, The Rython Kingdom, sees a troubadour become instrumental in the battle against a vengeful witch, along side a beautiful but mysterious young woman, who has her own agenda.

Care to share some of your stories core tribulations?

Inept – now there’s a word that resonates…

January 23, 2013
mandyevebarnett


Inept – Definition: 1) not suited for the occasion: inappropriate 2) lacking in skill or ability: incompetent

No matter at which point we are in our writing journeys, feelings of being inept plaque us. We can all make a long list of insecurities and worries about our style, skill level and current Work in Progress. My question is – if we didn’t have these uncertainties would we be a ‘better’ writer or not?

Striving for perfection can easily become an obsession and our work will suffer for it. There is a fine balance between a polished piece of work and a ‘ruined’ one. On the other hand expecting an agent or publisher to over-look editing and grammatical errors because we feel our manuscript is unique is a major flaw. Reading as a professional would, is the key, although this in itself is a difficult task after spending months if not years creating our story. We are engaged with the characters and their conflicts and struggles. They have become ‘real’ to us and the story runs in our minds rather than on the page. This is the crux of the problem – are we actually reading the words or playing out the story?

Delete

The Internet is full of writing tips as we all know but some recurring ones on tightening up a manuscript have commonalities.

  1. Leave the manuscript unread for a period of time.
  2. Read the story from back to front – chapter by chapter.
  3. Focus on one aspect of editing at a time. i.e. grammar, plot lines etc. (I’ve even heard of one author printing her manuscripts on different colored paper for each revision!)
  4. Have other people read it and critique (honestly).
  5. Send a section to a professional editor.
  6. Take advantage of a local Writer in Residence for feedback.
  7. Read a section out loud to your writer’s circle and ask for comments.

Author Reading

However, feelings of being inept are not just limited to our written work. Are you confident in public speaking? It is one thing reading to a group of people you know but what about in the public domain? Author readings are a great way to present your work and create interest in your stories.

  1. Practice the piece you are going to read in front of a mirror.
  2. Take care in your selection of clothing, depending on the venue and audience age.
  3. Choose a section or chapter with lots of action or intrigue.
  4. Remember to look up at your audience and gesticulate.
  5. Project your voice and don’t mumble.
  6. Don’t rush – this is the hardest!
  7. Be prepared to answer questions at the end.

The above tips work well for live interviews as well, either on radio or television. You may have some flexibility with these if they are not ‘live’ and can re-take the whole interview or a part of it.

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Social media is another avenue of uncertainty for many writers and authors. Cherishing your work in a desk drawer is great but if you are serious about releasing it into the public domain you need to invest some time into this resource.

  1. Research what type of social media, authors in the same genre are using.
  2. Carefully investigate the multitude of options available. There is not a ‘one fits all’.
  3.  Pick the sites that best suit your level of commitment. (How much time you are willingly to put into them as it can take over your life if you let it!)
  4. A blog is a useful tool to increase your profile. Decide on what theme, style, subject and frequency you can fulfill.
  5. Link to similar genre writers on web sites such as Twitter.
  6. Utilize your personal sites to connect to groups.
  7. Utilize ‘sharing’ sites, such as Networked Blogs and options on other web sites. i.e. WordPress.com links to face book, twitter and Google +

Conquer your feelings of ineptitude with your ‘writing’ support system, whatever that entails. Whether a writing circle, close friends or family that encourage you or virtual supporters – reach out – you’ll be surprised. Remember to offer support back too – it is not only very rewarding but expands your writing ‘community’.

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