Monday, October 15, 2012

2nd Edition, October 15, 2012

Welcome to the Idea edition! Canyonland Press editors have interviewed three authors from three different genre's.

By Mary Martinez

Canyonland Press welcomes back, Melissa Mayhue.

MELISSA MAYHUE began her writing career in 2005 after a vacation to Scotland and a hike on the Black Isle inspired her with the perfect setting for the characters running around in her head. Her resulting debut novel, THIRTY NIGHTS WITH A HIGHLAND HUSBAND, won the Holt Medallion and Book Buyers Best awards in 2008 and made the finals of the Colorado Book Awards.

Since then, her imaginary world of Faeries and Mortals has continued to grow. A HIGHLANDER’S HOMECOMING, sixth book in her award-winning Daughters of the Glen series from Pocket Books, was a 2011 RITA finalist in the Paranormal Category. WARRIOR’S REDEMPTION, the first book of The Warriors series, released in January 2012 with the second, WARRIOR REBORN due out in November 2012.

Married and the mother of three sons, Melissa lives in beautiful Northern Colorado with her family and two very spoiled Boston Terriers.

You can visit her on the web at:

Mary: A huge part of my reading enjoyment is characterization, as a paranormal/time travel author, how do you develop your characters?

Ms. Mayhue: I begin with a name. Once they have a name, they’re real to me. From there, I figure out what the challenges are they’re going to face and how they’ll respond to them. From that point on [when the writing is working as it is supposed to!] I just hear them in my head.

Mary: What type of research do you use to make your characters believable? Clothing, etc. paranormal aspect, does it give you a bit a leeway? And, of course, the time travel you’d have to be authentic to the time period correct?

Ms. Mayhue: Writing Paranormal requires just as much research as writing anything else. I spend hours on it. In fact, I suspect I put more hours into research than I do into the actual writing! I’ll admit now to being a Research Geek. I love that part of my job. Not only does it help insure accuracy in my writing, it also never fails to spark an idea for something else – either a new character or a scene with an existing one. While I do use the internet extensively, when I need factual, my personal rule for internet research is that I have to confirm something in two totally different places before I accept it as fact. In addition to the internet, I have a couple of bookcases full of books that I use. Though I haven’t updated the list for a couple of years, I even have many of the books noted on my website. If your readers are interested in seeing some of my resources, they can go here:

Mary: Where do you find your names? Is it just by looking in a baby book? Or do you have a process?

Ms. Mayhue: While I do use baby books for my modern characters, [or songs or even people I meet] I wanted a more authentic feel for my medieval characters. My ‘go-to’ resource is the Ragmans Rolls. It is a document [actually, two, since the first was signed in 1291 and then a second in 1296] pledging loyalty to King Edward I of England. All prominent landowners, churchmen and burgesses in Scotland were summoned to Berwick in 1296 and required to sign the document. There are even many female signatories, whether attending in their husband’s place or signing on their own. Containing over 2000 signatures, it’s an excellent resource for naming a medieval Scot! It also is a good record of which names were located in which areas since their home region is noted.

Thank you, Melissa for joining us two months in a row. I love your stories, those of you who haven't read them, you are missing out.

Romantic Adventure Novels
By Anna Sugg

Kim and her husband work for the National Park Services. Kim McMahill has returned to visit with us again this month. Kim, we’re excited to hear more about your romantic adventure novels. If you missed Kim’s bio and the first half of her interview, you’ll find it in the second edition of September’s publication.

Marked in Mexico is available as well as her new book Big Horn Storm – check out the video on her website: or

Anna: Hi Kim, welcome. A huge part of my reading enjoyment is characterization, how do you develop your characters?

Kim: The most important aspect of character development is making realistic multi-faceted individuals who readers can relate to. No person is perfect, so characters shouldn’t be either. First I focus on physical traits. When I can close my eyes and picture the hero or heroine clearly, I know I’ll be able to convey that to the reader. Second, but most importantly, I have to create a personality, whether for a hero or villain, that will draw the reader into his or her world. It’s essential to subtly weave in a past so the reader can understand why the character behaves a certain way and what propels them to make the decisions they do, good or bad. If characters aren’t believable and relatable, the story line will quickly fall apart.

Anna: What type of research do you use to make your characters believable and authentic to the time period?

Kim: So far I’ve written only twenty-first century adventures so I mostly just observe. I do considerable research into geographic areas to make the settings believable and try to accurately depict any cultural differences of my characters as much as possible. No amount of research can replace firsthand knowledge, but I do work to make my characters, settings, occupations, technologies, etc. as believable as I can.

Anna: Where do you find your names? Do you have a process?

Kim: I have a notebook where I jot down names that strike me as interesting. I have a page each for male, female and last names and I often consult these lists and mix and match to come up with the perfect name for the character. Occasionally, like with Big Horn Storm, there’s a little more to it. Not long ago I learned that my husband was sometimes referred to as Deuce when he was younger while with his dad’s friends since him and his dad share the same first name. I decided on the spot that I would use the name in a book, and what else could a man named Deuce be but a handsome rugged rancher?

Anna: Thank you, Kim, for visiting us again at Canyonland Press. We look forward to more from you as you continue to write those great adventure romances.

Historical Romance
by Marie Higgins

Today I have interviewed Anita Davison who is a multi-published of historical romances. She has a new book coming out "Royalist Rebel" which will be released earl 2013 under the named Anita Seymour.

Marie - Anita, you write historical romances (which I love) and I was wondering how you go about creating your characters before starting a new story.

Anita - I began my writing career with two Historical Family Sagas set in the 17th Century, both of which had romantic elements. These were followed by two Victorian Gothic Romances, but I was told by the Romance Publishers they had too many sub plots to fit the 'True Romance' genre.

So I tried again, and went back to the 17th century, where my soul really belongs, and at the suggestion of my agent found a real life character on whom to base my story.  Thus 'Royalist Rebel' was born and is being released in early 2013. I think I have found my niche now in Biographical Historical Fiction, though of course what book is complete without a romantic element?

I also don't need to create a character, though bringing her to life from, say a bland historical account or a painting is quite a challenge.

Marie - What type of research do you do in this process?

Anita - Lots - the person I am writing about, the place where she lived, the historical figures she interacted with and where they stood in the social order. I spent some time at Elizabeth's former home, which has been restored to look exactly as it did during her lifetime. I love digging out images,usually drawings or paintings of places as they used to look so I can place myself there. I mean who can imagine St Paul's Cathedral ever dominating the London skyline - but in 1645 it certainly did - though without the dome!

Marie - That's great you spent some time in the home! Lucky you! Do you like to give your characters flaws? What makes them stand out in your stories?

Anita - I try and portray the historical figures as they actually were, even though this sometimes means they can come across as unsympathetic. For example, my critique partners say my heroine, Elizabeth Murray is sometimes arrogant towards those she regards as her inferiors - in the 17th Century this was the way the rich and privileged felt the 'lower orders' deserved, or why did God put them there?  A philosophy we reject today, but was prevalent then.

Thus making Elizabeth a character my readers cared about was a challenge, but using the present tense helped, in that she may say something scathing to another character, but in her head she's doubting herself, or has a reason for her harshness.

In real life, Elizabeth became even more arrogant and superior as she got older, and was notorious for political meddling and dominating the men in her life. When she became a duchess, her servants had to remain bent at the waist until she was completely out of sight, even if she had her back to
them.  In 'Royalist Rebel' I hope I have given her some character growth, in that she becomes less imperious and more understanding of the difficulties of others through her own troubles.

Anita - thank you so much for taking us through this process. Readers can find Anita Davison at her wonderful blog - click here

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