Trying to Connect with Characters

Sometimes when I work on a story, the words just flow. I barely even need to think about what I’m going to write; I sit down, put my fingers on the keyboard, and off we go. It’s as if the character has become a real being and is dictating the words to me. All I have to do is type them.

Other times, the story doesn’t flow as easily. That’s partly because I tend to get a little too perfectionistic; I have to have exactly the right words and phrase things exactly the right way, and if I’m having a day when my language center crashes, finding those “right” things is a struggle that sometimes leads to me writing a sentence or two if I’m lucky. (And then often either deleting those sentences or agonizing over rewriting them the next day.) The perfectionism, in turn, comes from my dislike of editing, which isn’t a helpful dislike when it comes to writing quality stories that I’m happy to have people read. The oppositional part of my brain tells me that the better I write something the first time, the less editing I’ll have to do after I finish the first draft. Unfortunately, this sometimes leads to the first draft either never getting finished or taking far longer than it needs to, because I agonize over the words and get bogged down.

The lack of flow is also sometimes because I don’t feel as connected to the character I’ve created. Maybe I haven’t fleshed them out as well as I need to; maybe they’re very different from the type of character I usually write, so I’m having a hard time getting into their head. Without that connection, not only does it become more difficult to write the story, but I’m not as interested in it, which makes me less likely to work on and finish it. I write partly because *I* want to see what happens; although I do usually have at least a vague brainstorm of where I think a story will go, once I start writing, I don’t necessarily stick to the brainstorm. The story and characters sometimes carry me off in a different direction, and I’m okay with that. But if I don’t feel a connection to the character, I’m not as interested in seeing what happens to them.

As the author, it’s up to me to create characters my readers want to read about–and that I want to write about. Even though some of my characters feel like they’ve become autonomous beings who tell me their stories–I’m looking at you, Kyle Slidell–ultimately they are the creation of my own mind. And if I don’t feel enough connection to a character to write about them, it’s up to me to either forge that connection or forget about writing that character’s story.


Someone Likes My Books!

I belong to a bunch of Facebook groups that are related to writing in general, reading/writing romance, or specifically male/male romance. Some of the groups are discussion only; one doesn’t even permit authors to identify themselves as authors, partly so readers will freely discuss their opinions and partly to avoid becoming yet another group that’s all promotion all the time. (Unfortunately, even groups with the best of intentions sometimes turn into just a bunch of authors and assistants shouting ads at each other…)

Some of the groups I’m in allow authors to promote their books only on certain days of the week or only when the group admins announce that promo is permitted. In two of those groups this past week, I posted things promoting books in my Real Werewolves Don’t Eat Meat series.

And on each of those posts, someone commented saying how much they love the series!

I’ve had readers tell me they enjoy the books, but the readers I usually hear from are people I know personally or have known online for a long time. In one of the cases this past week, it was someone I didn’t know at all; the other commenter was someone who has reviewed all three of the currently-released RWDEM books and said she can’t wait for the next one.

Can I just say how amazing it feels to have readers tell me they like my books? How amazing it feels to know that people are *reading* them?

About six months ago, I had an experience that I still pull out of my mental filing cabinet when I feel discouraged. In my non-writing life, I’m a rideshare driver; it’s how I support my writing habit. I had a passenger one day back in September-ish who asked me what I do when I’m not driving, and I told her I’m an author. She asked me what I wrote, and I gave her a one-sentence overview of the Real Werewolves Don’t Eat Meat series. (At the time, I had only rereleased Salad on the Side and Veggie Burgers to Go, along with the two related hetero romances.) Sounding excited, she asked me for my pen name; I glanced in the rearview and saw that she had her phone out, presumably looking me up on Amazon, so I gave her the name…

…And she stared at her phone, then said, “Oh, my gosh, I just read one of your books!” She went on to tell me she loved Salad on the Side and thought Kyle was an awesome character.

I think no matter how popular an author becomes, no matter how much they earn from their books, hearing/reading a reader saying they love the books feels incredible. Years ago, before my long-term hiatus from writing, I told my husband that if I ever stopped being excited to hear that someone had read and enjoyed my books, I would know it was time to quit.

Posting reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, etc. helps authors because it tells other readers about that author’s books and whether they’re something people should read. (Reviews are NOT for authors, though some of us do get something out of reviews, even the negative ones.) But telling an author, either in a message or a conversation or a comment on a Facebook post, that you love their books can also help far more than you might realize.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

And happy first blog post to me!

Well… not my first *ever* blog post. On the original Karenna Colcroft website, I had a blog where I posted regularly. That blog, along with the site itself, was taken down during my hiatus from writing. When I set the site back up in early 2022, I debated whether to include a blog and decided against it.

But now I’ve decided to give it a go. I’ll be posting weekly about what’s going on in my writing and my life. Books I’m working on, books I’m reading. What’s coming up, plans I’ve changed, and so on.

It’s a blog. It’s going to be kind of like my brain. A bunch of things.

Right now, I’m working (still) on getting Chance Met ready for a March release. This book was planned for March 9, but due to extenuating circumstances, I’ve moved it to March 23.

When I sat down with the book in December, the plan was just to edit and update it as I’d done with the Real Werewolves Don’t Eat Meat novels. Chance Met was originally published in 2013 as a tie-in Valentine’s novella; Trey Damone, one of the main characters, is (in the in-universe timeline) the newest member of the Boston North Pack to which my vegan werewolf Kyle Slidell and his mate, the Alpha Tobias Rogan, belong. The other main character, Jeremiah Crawford, was originally introduced in my novel Lost Soul, which was published in 2012. (Because I’ve reconfigured the series timelines a bit, and wanted to reintroduce Trey and Jeremiah first, I’ll be doing some rewrites on Lost Soul and plan to rerelease it in July of this year.)

In its original version, Chance Met was a short novella, a bit under 20,000 words. As part of the updating, I decided I wanted to expand it a bit. And the characters and storyline decided the expansion would be more than “a bit.” As of this post, I’ve more than doubled the length of the story. I’ve rearranged some of the plot points, added new ones, and strengthened the ties to the Real Werewolves Don’t Eat Meat series; although Chance Met is not part of that series, it is associated with it, and Trey and Jeremiah’s relationship is referenced in the rest of the RWDEM books. So that was extenuating circumstance #1: The book turned out to want/need more rewriting and more new content for the expansion than I’d initially thought.

Extenuating circumstance #2 actually happened before I started working on Chance. At the beginning of December, my mother passed away. I’ve been spending a fair bit of time trying to help my dad deal with the aftermath of that, as well as trying to help him clean out nearly 5 decades of STUFF from the house he and my mother shared so he can move into more beneficial housing. It’s been a process, and between the time it’s taking and the mental impact of grief and of worrying about my dad, my writing has been impacted.

And finally, extenuating circumstance #3 was a round with Covid in mid-January. This was my second bout with the thing; two years ago when I had it, I had no symptoms at all and was completely functional. But this time, it kinda knocked me on my ass for a few days. Thinking barely happened, never mind writing!

So with all of that, my planned March 9 release for Chance Met had to be moved. But the book is just about ready now, and I will be releasing it March 23. And here’s the cover!