Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Serials and Scenarios ~ Herman-u-tics -- Kathy Herman

Kathy Herman dropped by with a whole lot of fun and fascinating comments/creations. Hope you enjoy her thoughts as much as I did. Scroll down to Monday's post to read the first chapter of The Real Enemy. Thanks, Kathy. Lots of fun.

Fiction character you would most like to be or most identify with and why?

Hmm…my characters have so many problems I’m not sure I’d want to be any of them Seriously, I loved Ellen Jones in the Baxter and Seaport Series. Her character allowed me to use MY voice. I didn’t agree with all her views, but I could still speak in my own voice. That made it easy.

If you could ask any person, living or dead, a random question -- what question would you ask of whom?

This is tough. I’ll probably think of a hundred things later. I’d love to know what Lazarus experienced when Jesus called him back to this life.

If you could change something in any novel, what would you change about it and why?

I would go back to my first, Tested by Fire, and rewrite the story with only four points of view instead of a myriad. It would have been even more powerful. I learned about POVs later in my career.

What crayon in the box describes you on a good day? Yellow. Bad day? Black. Which one do you aspire to be? Light blue and calming

Favorite turn of phrase or word picture, in literature or movie.

Nothing clever, just a profound statement from Chariots of Fire. “God made me fast. And when I run, I feel His pleasure.” That’s how I feel when I write.

If you were assured of writing a best-seller, what genre would it be? Give us a sliver of information, a characteristic or glimpse of a scene.

I don’t think ahead about any of my novels so I’m not sure I can answer this with specifics. But I’d probably stay where I am—in mystery suspense. I love to keep readers turning the pages, and this genre is just ripe with desperate people who need biblical solutions. Great for developing sympathetic characters and easy for making the scenarios real and applicable but not preachy.

What period of history intrigues you the most?

The years Jesus walked the earth.

What would you write if there were no rules or barriers? (epic novels about characters in the Bible, poetry, greeting cards, plays, movies, instruction manuals, etc.)

I would love to write a story so profound that it became a classic and outlived me by decades.

What makes you feel alive?

Reader feedback—which makes me realize how God is using my words to affect positive changes and bring people closer to Him.

In a tangible sense, the wonders of nature make me feel alive. The creation draws me closer to the Creator. I love mountains, forests, oceans, meadows—bird watching, star gazing, people watching.

How does something worm its way into your heart? Through tears, truth, humor or other?

I’m a sucker for hurting children. We have a TV station here that airs a program called, “The Gift of Love,” and every week they feature a child in foster care who tells us that what they want most in the world is a “forever family,” that will love them. It breaks my heart every time. Some of these kids have been passed over for years. No child should have to ask someone to love them. <>.

Where would you most like to travel ----- moon, north pole, deep seas, deserted island, the holy land or back to a place from your childhood, somewhere else? – and why.

I’d like to go back to Alaska in the winter, lie in the snow, and marvel at the colors of the Northern Lights.

Favorite season and why?

Fall. The colors are spectacular. And the air is crisp enough that the sun feels wonderful (I think I’m part cat).

Favorite book setting and why?

Mountains! I lived in Colorado Springs for fifteen years and I miss those gorgeous peaks. But a seaside setting ranks a close second. What I like is a place I can “stay” (mentally and emotionally) during the time it takes me to write the series—a place I can touch, see, hear, smell, and taste! My favorite place in my books was Phantom Hollow, which was set on the western slope of Colorado.

Which compliment related to your writing has meant the most and why?

There have been so many it’s hard to choose. But the one that I’ll never forget came from a lady named Belinda. She wrote to my publisher, desperately wanting to get in touch with me because my book made her want to accept Jesus. I got in touch with her and we emailed back and forth. Later I wrote a sinner’s prayer that she prayed and accepted Christ. When I started writing suspense novels, I had no idea the impact they would have.

What criticism has cut the deepest and why?

A reviewer who had always given me favorable reviews decided that one of my books had too many typos and had been rushed to print and so assumed I had rushed through the writing as well. She stated that right in the review and also said, “Come on, Kathy. You can do better than this.” Thing is, she loved the book and put the sequel on her wish list. She was scolding me for typos—and for that gave me 3 stars instead of a 4 ½. Anyhow, I disagreed with her assessment that I had rushed anything. My copy editors had missed several typos, yes. Shame on them. But the book was my best to date. I had worked my behind off to come up with a compelling storyline. And I delivered. Her remarks really cut.

On the other hand, the weirdest criticism I ever got is that my characters aren’t realistic because they don’t swear and drink. The reader said it was a horrible distraction that they didn’t—this from an elderly woman (a bit crusty, I dare say) who also resented my book being, in her words, “a morality tale.” I don’t think the letter I got was bogus. The woman took great care in handwriting her critique. She was hung up that my characters never swore or had a beer, but overlooked the fact that they very poignantly and realistically dealt with murder, adultery, and the societal problem of gossip. Yep, they were just too clean cut for her.

What would you do today if you knew you had only a week to live?

Tell everyone I love (and some I don’t) that soon I’ll be in heaven, and that Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the life—and what that means for me and for them.

What is your favorite word?


What word annoys you more than any other?

Like (when used in place of “uh”)

Favorite chore

Folding laundry

Anything you'd do but don't because of fear of pain? What is it? Ex. Bungee jumping, sky diving, running with scissors.

Mountain climbing (fear of extreme subzero temps and frostbite)

Grammatical pet peeve…sound off.

As a transplant to the South, I’ve learned to tolerate idioms such as “might could,” fixin’ to,” and “over yonder,” yet I struggle with the Chicago Manual Style of eliminating commas. Sentences look naked without commas. For example, “I might could help you since I’m fixin’ to go over yonder too.” Weird, huh?

  • Societal pet peeve…sound off.

  • We women let fashion designers strip of us dignity and convince us it’s cool. For example, cleavage (and then some) is in. If you haven’t noticed you’re either blind or dead. I think female professionals look absolutely ridiculous with half their boobs showing. I mean, what man will take them seriously in any profession (other than the oldest one?) Okay, done sounding off.

CREATIVE CORNER: Pick any of the following and have fun with it.

Describe something you can see, hear, taste or feel without telling us what the item is.

It rose up from the valley floor, a mighty fortress, formidable and flint gray against the lava-colored sky. Majestic. Mysterious. Immovable—unless one possessed faith the size of a mustard seed.

Frizzy hair, purple scarf and a book – make a character.

Mavis Bloom flopped on the rain-soaked bench at the bus stop, feeling very smart that she was wearing the raincoat-in-a-pouch she had bought at a neighbor’s yard sale. She held the umbrella over her head, her frizzy hair sticking out from under her purple scarf, and looked down Rosewood Lane, hoping to see the eight o’clock bus. She tucked her library book under her arm, and leaned away from the disheveled stranger sitting on the bench next to her. He smelled of whiskey and stale tobacco. She had a ready response, should he ask her for a handout.

“We need the rain,” he finally said.

Indeed.” She shifted her weight. “I wonder what’s keeping the bus.”

There’s been an accident.”

How do you know that?”

I see things.”

She turned and locked gazes with him. “What does that mean?”

The stranger flashed a creepy smile that revealed a row of brown teeth. “Oh…I’m not sure you really want to know.”

Mavis heard the screeching of tires and the horrible sound of metal crashing against metal and of glass breaking. She closed her eyes and sucked in a breath and forgot to exhale. Seconds passed. She heard screaming and the sound of footsteps running on the pavement. A chill crept up her spine and her eyes flew open. She turned to the stranger. He had vanished.

A crack broke the stillness as Terri tugged on the frozen door.Ice fell on the top of her pink boot as she squeezed through the opening, her heart beating wildly, her tongue stuck to the roof of her mouth. How far had she run—a mile? Two? She grabbed a chair and wedged the back of it under the doorknob until it felt secure, then pressed her ear to the door and listened intently to the crunching sound of someone walking in the snow. The man with the scar was following her! Everything in her wanted to scream but nothing would come out. From the moment she realized he was studying her at the coffee shop, she knew Jack Stiles had sent him to kill her too.

If Alex had known the body of the senator was in the bathtub, she would've taken Jim's offer for coffee. She didn’t pay for incompetence! She picked up her cell phone and hit the speed dial. Disposing of the body was part of the deal. Did she have to tell him how to do everything? She took her thumb and forefinger and massaged her temples. What a hassle. This was so typical of Monday.

Swirling leaves riding the icy wind, danced up Liesel's skirt. She felt the heat scald her face and heard the Frederick and Leo laughing. Morons, both of them. If they knew what Dougan was about to do, they would be on their knees, begging for mercy. Not that she relished the thought of them dying. But before she met Lady Sarah for tea, each would occupy a shallow grave. Pity. With better breeding, Leo would have made a suitable husband.

The leaves weren't the only things stirred up by the breeze which now carried the cloying scent of death. Revenge was such a power trip. He’d pay for it later. But as long as hell was his final destination, he might as well take whatever he could—including the lives of anyone who got in his way. And they had gotten in his way—all three of them. They’d been warned. Wasting them had been easy.

It was a damp and dismal afternoon. (Yes, as in It was a dark and stormy night : ). Andrew Wicket tucked the Glock into his waistband and stepped over the body of Joe Harper, wondering if Flo’s Diner was still serving tonight’s special.

One of my favorite prologue openings (from my first Phantom Hollow book, Ever Present Danger):

Ivy Griffith stood beside her pink-and-silver snowmobile, her breath turning to vapor in the late afternoon chill, her gaze set on the giant cottonwood tree that marked the secret grave like a towering headstone. She knew that even after the spring runoff came rushing down the mountain, and the Phantom River became like a torrent of baptismal whitewater lifting the impurities and washing them away, the horrible deed that was done here would not be cleansed. Not then. Not ever.