Feb 6, 2012

Guest Blog: Sharon Owen - Thicker Than Water

Please welcome Sharon Owen on the blog today! She has written a guest post about knowing more about characters from the items in their wallet/purse. This is one of her favorite writing processes, and it's definitely an interesting idea to think about! Check out her guest post and look into her book, Thicker Than Water!

Sharon Owen - Thicker Than Water

• Pub Date: July 11, 2011
• Publisher: CreateSpace
• Format: Hardcover 344 pp
• Age Range: Adult

As a child, KATE O'DONNELL spends summers at her grandparents' estate in Brands Crossing, Texas where she and her girl cousins confronted make-believe monsters, rescue endangered victims and a save a mythical kingdom.

At twenty-five Kate is a singer/songwriter living in Nashville and pursuing a promising relationship with computer game designer PHILLIP NORWOOD. There, her only battles are fought in Aidenne's Revenge, Phillip's online fantasy game based on her childhood adventures.

With her grandfather's sudden death from injuries he sustained in a suspicious car crash, Kate is forced to make a choice. Will she remain in Nashville to focus on Phillip and her music career? Or will she move back to Brands Crossing and honor the promise she made to her grandfather that she would investigate the mystery surrounding his death?

Family trumps career and romance and Kate heads back to Texas where the monsters, victims and endangered kingdoms are all too real.

In an attempt to protect Kate from danger, Phillip joins her quest and helps her search for incriminating documents, investigate a centuries-old family feud and confront an anonymous rose-bearing admirer who stalks Kate in both real and virtual universes.

Thicker Than Water is the first in a series of novels set in Brands Crossing, Texas. It chronicles the lives of the Kincaids, a prominent family in this mythical town, and focuses on a mystery that extends back to the mid-eighteenth century and the young Texas Republic.

by Sharon Owen

Since I tend to write character-driven more than plot-driven novels, my first step in starting a new manuscript is to give my characters the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual depth that will make them believable and interesting to the reader.

To do this, I have to know everything about those characters, therefore I make various check list (I do mine in Microsoft Excel) to create and maintain those qualities. One of my favorite involves making an inventory of that character’s purse/backpack/wallet, car glove compartment, refrigerator, medicine cabinet, gym locker, book shelves, closet, dresser drawers, desk drawers etc. My feeling is: the more I know about the character, the more I can filter into the story to make that character unique and interesting.

In my novel Thicker Than Water (Brands Crossing Series) there is a scene that uses this information about the protagonist Kate O’Donnell.

After working to establish her music career in Nashville over the past eight years, Kate is moving back to Texas. As she boxes up the possessions that are important to her, she reflects on the changes in her life.

Later, she carried in cardboard boxes from the storage shed to pack away her Nashville history. Con and Daisy shadowed her every move. She suspected they were still traumatized after last night's drama and concerned about all the familiar objects disappearing into crates.

With complete empathy, she offered reassurance. "Look on the bright side," she told them. "We don't have to make decisions after all. “She looked around at the dwindling stacks of books, musical instruments and sports equipment. "And there's not much to pack."

A single tear dripped from her eye and she wiped at it with the back of her hand. She could almost hear her cousin Claire telling her not to cry over spilt semen.

And she wasn't. She could care less about Rocky's love life. Eww.

The death of her fledgling music career, the failure of her quest for success outside her family's arena of influence, and the impending goodbye to Nashville and Phillip broke her heart. She sniffed once and, this time, wiped her nose on the sleeve of her t-shirt.

Sadder, still, was the realization that her mother and Claire had both predicted just such an event. Shelby O'Donnell never understood why her daughter would choose Vanderbilt, Nashville and country-western music over UT, Austin and a job in the family business.

Claire had no problem with Kate's choice of college, residence, or chosen profession. She even liked Phillip and flirted like crazy with him during her residency in the duplex. When he treated her with the same brotherly affection he directed at Kate, Claire moved on to more willing partners. But she'd despised Rocky from the get-go, calling him (among other things) an Urban cowboy wannabe without Keith's killer bod, adorable accent or talent.

All their lives, Claire had punched holes in the illusions Kate preferred over reality. First, she'd outed Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny. Then, she'd unmasked Zorro, Bat Man and the Power Rangers. Finally, she'd stripped Lancelot, Prince Charming and Galahad down to their dirty underwear.

During all those years, Kate turned her nose up at Claire's cynicism, but last night's disaster ended her resistance. After seven years of studio sessions, open mikes, demo tapes for other songwriters and one-night stands in smoky bars; she was back to square one.

Disgusted with her own pathetic thoughts, she shoved in ear buds and cranked up the volume on her IPod. She grabbed the tape dispenser and, keeping rhythm with Travis Barker's drum sticks, sealed the next box—slap, squeal, snap—and added another label. She was getting the hang of this packing thing. Maybe she should look into a shipping department job. The cost cutting benefits dazzled her mind. No need for nifty outfits, deodorant or mouthwash. Boxes wouldn't care.

In this scene, a great deal about Kate is transmitted as she packs away the belongings that are important to her. The act of packing also gives her a chance to think about (and share with the readers) various choices in her life and the consequences.

What could you tell about your characters if you shared the contents of their purse, their refrigerator or the boxes of belongings they are moving to their next home?

Sharon K Owen is the author of Thicker Than Water (Brands Crossing Series), the first in a series of contemporary romantic suspense novels set in Brands Crossing, a mythical community in North Texas. This series chronicles the lives of the Kincaids, a prominent family in this small town, and focuses on a mystery that extends back to the mid-eighteenth century and the young Texas Republic.

She shares a cottage with her two cats, Matt and Cinders, in a small lake-side community near Fort Worth Texas and is finishing her second novel in the Brands Crossing series, Whatever Goes Around, which will be available in 2012.

Find Sharon:
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