Tag Archives: character arc

Odd Job Girl, on Lisa Burton Radio

Welcome to another edition of Lisa Burton Radio. I’m your host, Lisa the robot girl. What if you had to completely reboot your life? Maybe it’s not so bad in your twenties, it might even seem common. But what about someone in their fifties? In the studio with me today is Imogen Smythe, and she’s had to do exactly that. “Welcome to the show, Imogen.”

“Thank you very much for having me on the show today Lisa it is great to be here.”

“My bio says you were happily married, but apparently that happiness was one sided.”

“I did consider myself happily married Lisa, and thought that my husband Peter was too. Unfortunately I discovered that for the last two years he has been living a double life. We have three amazing children, two daughters and a son and during the last twenty-five years we have faced challenges but also had some good years. In fact we were planning a special trip to celebrate our twenty-fifth anniversary when Peter came home and broke the news that he was leaving me.”

“Imogen, our listeners will want to know why. Was it something illegal, substance abuse, or violence?”

“No that would not be Peter’s style as he is very conscious about appearances and how people perceive him, which is why being a philanderer is the last thing I expected from him. But, it would seem that looking bad in the eyes of his family and his business partners was the last thing on his mind when he fell for the charms of what I call a ‘fast-tracker’ called Stephanie. A young woman who feels that she would rather have a wealthy husband that someone else has loved and supported through the tough years, than go through it herself.”

Philanderer! God that’s such a good word. And I apologize if there is some residual love there, but what an asshole. Did you take him for everything he’s worth?”

“To be honest Lisa I was in total shock when he calmly announced that he was leaving. It took me several days to just process it and break it to our children. Who, I am ashamed to say had their suspicions for some time; whilst I missed the signs completely. After the shock wore off, I asked him why after managing to keep it a secret for two years, he had decided to leave now. It turns out that she had wanted him to leave me for some time but he said no. Suddenly she was pregnant and he said he wanted to do the right thing!

“Considering his lack of interest in our children when they were born and his insistence that we only have the three, made this even more surprising. As if this was not hurtful enough, he managed to twist the cause of his affair around to making it my fault. Apparently, I had not shown him enough attention after the children were born and I had become frumpy and boring to come home to each night. Hurtful though that was, one look in the mirror and I had to admit he was right. I had become very frumpy looking.

“I didn’t have the heart to fight the terms of our divorce. Peter being a banker had taken care of all our finances over the years and he wanted to keep the house, or rather his new wife wanted to keep the house. He bought me the small home I live in backing onto Epping Forest and I managed to salvage furniture and items that reminded me of happier times. Stephanie his new wife wanted to completely redecorate and outfit the house with new furnishings throughout. With the children grown and at university he also settled a monthly sum for me to cover expenses. I think my children did intercede on my behalf, otherwise I am not sure what I would have been left with.

“It took me several months to adjust and I afraid that I took solace in ice-cream and white wine and barely left the house. Instead of taking care of myself however, I did transform my new house which gradually brought me back to life. But I was now bored and restless. I had always been busy with volunteering, taking care of our children and home plus Peter’s entertainment commitments. I discovered that I missed my old life more than I missed the trappings that went with it. I knew that I had to get a grip and look for something to get me out of the house and back into the world.

“Getting a job at 50 is not easy for anyone and I knew that I had to get myself into better shape before attending interviews. I was living on the edge of the forest with fantastic walks so began a daily exercise routine. I then went into London and had a complete hair makeover which cost a fortune but made me feel a million dollars, and of course there was the little matter of retail therapy that resulted in a new wardrobe. At the end of six weeks I was a stone lighter and ready for the next step of finding a job.”

“Makeovers are awesome, aren’t they? I do a ton of them on myself, but I also get them when I make Craig’s promotional posters. Oh, and you look great, by the way.”

“Thank you that is always good to hear especially from someone as glamorous as you, Lisa. And yes, it boosted my self-esteem and I did begin to get some compliments which at first I felt very uncomfortable with. And something else that I now see was a sign things were not right with Peter. I realized it had been a long time since he had noticed what I was wearing or complimented me on a new hairstyle.

“As good as I now felt physically, I still worried that I had little to offer a new employer. It had been so long since my last job before we were married, and I didn’t think that my little bit of voluntary work would count. However, I thought if I at least wrote down all the jobs I had before, then with some description of my duties, it might give a prospective employer an idea of what I could be capable of. I actually found myself reliving the events and experiences and slowly as I did so I began to gain a little more confidence.”

“So with a shiny new résumé, you’re about to go searching for work. It’s kind of scary and exciting at the same time. Tell me-

“Wait, we have a caller. Hello, you’re on the air with Lisa and Imogen. Do you have a question for Imogen?”

“Yes, and thank you. I am actually a long time listener Lisa and you can imagine my surprise when I tuned in today to hear that your guest is my former wife. This is Peter Smythe and at first I was not going to call in because I find this rather embarrassing. I haven’t seen my wife for several months and hearing her talking about us so candidly has hit me quite hard. I am hoping Lisa that you might let me put my side to the story.”

“I am not sure about that Peter; from all accounts you put your side of the story when you left Imogen. Is there anything you disagree with from what Imogen has told us of the break-up?”

“Well no I can’t, and I wish that I could. I know that it appears that I behaved very badly but I would like to say something to Imogen about how I feel today about it.”

“To be honest Peter this is typical of you. I don’t hear from you for months and you insert yourself into my interview with Lisa. No doubt to try and convince those listening that I was in the wrong and you were the injured party.”

“No I promise Imogen that I just want to put the record straight. You lost all interest in me when the children came along and I was working long hours. How did you expect me to be there as a full-time father. That is why I didn’t want you to work as they needed you at home. And we had enough money for you to take care of yourself and there was no need to let yourself go as you did. I am sorry, but when Stephanie came along it was as if I was in my 20s again and having fun like we did before the children came along. But, I have some news. Things have not been going well in the last few months since the baby arrived and Stephanie and I have split up. I am living in a flat in town and I realize that I made a huge mistake in leaving you. Our children don’t want to speak to me either and I want to try and see if we can make another go of it as a family. Don’t you think we could make another go of it? What do you think Lisa?”

“Sorry, slick, not having it. Seems to me you made a promise, a special kind of promise called a vow, twenty-five years ago. You broke your word, and now you want poor Imogen to believe your word is good. Why should she?”

“I was a good provider for twenty-five years, Imogen didn’t have to do anything but bring up the children and run our home. If she had been more attentive then perhaps I would not have had to find another relationship outside. It takes two to keep a marriage happy and I did my part.”

“You know what Peter, I think that you have just summed up the reasons we split up very well and also why we could never get back together again. I am sorry that your relationship with Stephanie has broken down and I am sure that she will make sure that she keeps the house and is well provided for. But I hope you spend more time with this baby than you did ours. My advice is to try and patch things up and make it work for the sake of your child as I am most certainly not interested in patching things up. It has gone too far for that now.”

“Well then there is nothing more to be said is there. I thought that I would give you another chance but it seems you don’t appreciate what I am offering you. And I won’t be listening to this show again either.”

“I am really sorry that you and your listeners had to hear that, Lisa. When I came on this show it was to encourage men and women to find a way through a sudden change in their lives. I had no idea that it would become so personal.”

“Please don’t apologize. Our listeners will be happy to see you confident and on your game. I sincerely hope you can find a job first, and then build whatever kind of happiness you can. As they say, you do you. If that’s crazy cat lady, or a nice garden somewhere, so be it.”

“Actually, there is someone special. We met through the employment agency that is working with me to find a job.”

“Oooo, I like it. So do you think this could wind up going somewhere?”

“We shall see. It is early days yet but he is a really nice man who seems to think that I am fun to be with. I shall be taking things very slowly.”

“Well, I for one, wish you all the best. Any closing comments for our listeners today?”

“Thanks for having me, and I had no idea that it would turn into such a dramatic interview. But it has confirmed to me that I am now on the right path. I hope any man or woman listening, who feels alone and at a crossroads, can now see that there is a way forward to a new life.”

“You can read more about Imogen in the book, Odd Job Girl, by Sally Cronin. I’ll post all the deets on the website.

“You can help Imogen and Sally out by using the sharing buttons on your way out. I’m sure they will do it for you when your character appears on a future episode.

“Speaking of future episodes, I’m always looking for guests. If one of your characters would like to appear on Lisa Burton Radio, have your people contact my people at the following: Coldhand (dot) Boyack (at) gmail (dot) com.”

***

Imogen was fifty!

Life is unpredictable and will often throw you a curve ball that knocks you out of the park.

For Imogen this curve ball knocked her out of a twenty five year marriage and a lovingly renovated home into a single life at age 50. She had been a very contented wife and mother of two children, who for every one of those 25 years had thought her husband had been equally as happy. It was a shock to find out that she had been delusional and replaced so easily.

Her confidence was non-existent. She had forgotten any skills she possessed and was totally unprepared to enter the modern job market. Or so she thought.

When we find ourselves in a new place and time in our lives, it is not unusual to meet others who have experienced similar traumas and also those who understand how to help you pick up the pieces.

Surprising though these events had been, nothing prepared Imogen for the realisation that she still had what it took, both in the work environment and when it came to her heart.

It was a journey into the past to rediscover who she had always been and a step forward into the future and a new adventure in life.

Purchase Links: Amazon Kindle, Print & Ebook

After working in a number of industries for over 25 years, I decided that I wanted to pursue a completely different career, one that I had always been fascinated with. I began studying Nutrition and the human body twenty years ago and I opened my first diet advisory centre in Ireland in 1998. Over the last 18 years I have practiced in Ireland and the UK as well as written columns, articles and radio programmes on health and nutrition. I published my first book with a Canadian self-publisher in the late 90s and since then have republished that book and released nine others as part of our own self-publishing company. Apart from health I also enjoy writing fiction in the form of novels and short stories.

For the last four years I have been enjoying life as a blogger and post on a variety of subjects including Book and author promotions, health, short stories, poetry and humour. As a writer I love getting instant gratification and blogging is like chocolate… it does just that.

Sally would love to have you contact her at the following places:

Blog

LinkedIn

Twitter

Facebook

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Look, up in the sky…

Okay, the tab bar actually. Right up there at the top.

Nestled among the about me page, and the free stuff, is a bright shiny new page. This one is called Lisa Burton Radio. Lisa's radio spot is impressing me with the number of views and shares it's getting. I stacked the deck and invited my first half dozen authors to participate, but that's going to run it's course eventually.

This means that some of you are going to have to approach me when you're ready for some promotion. I know some pretty cool people, but I don't know all of you. There are some posts in the factory right now, but I'm going to run out in a few weeks.

If you'd like a chance to do some unique promotion, check out the new page and hit me up. Remember this is all about your characters, and let's face it, they carry the story. They might as well help promote the story too. When someone loves your character they could buy your book.

I don't know of another promotional opportunity like this one.

Click on the new page, all the cool kids are doing it. Drop me a line and let's see if Lisa Burton Radio might be another way to promote your books.

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Acceptable amount of progress

Lisa* and I spent the day with Yak Guy. I have to admit, she spent most of her time with the yak. She has this thing for animals, and this one talks.

Yak Guy isn't quite as spoiled and entitled as he once was, but he has a long way to go. I even got him to the point where he shows a bit of the hero he may become. He revealed a minor bit of heart, but not a great amount.

He's at the point where he can meet a new character in the story. They just have to make a treacherous journey over snowy mountains. He has no coat, poor shoes, and no clue what's going on. His life is in the yak's hands, (hooves). He will grow and learn.

I'm excited and terrified by this story at the same time. I can handle a bit of adventure, and excitement. This is going to include some spiritual growth, and I hope I'm up for it. I may need a real editor by next fall.

I'm alternating between things going too fast, and not fast enough. I'm at 8600 words, and I've already blasted through total commitment, (he had no choice) and taking action where he had to be heroic. On the other hand, there has been a lot of traveling and camping.

This section is all about learning to take care of his basic needs. Imagine a spoiled city kid, who leeches off of his friends, being suddenly thrust into life in the wilderness. He needs to know some things, and I'm trying to show his growth this way. I honestly don't know if people will find it boring, or get the idea that he's growing through small lessons.

Many of the characters will represent major arcana cards in the fool's journey. Obviously, Yak Guy is The Fool. The Yak serves as The Magician. It's the yak's job to teach a work ethic to Yak Guy. I intend to have the yak around throughout the story, but we'll see where it goes.

The next character will be the High Priestess, although it may be a priest when I write it. After those lessons, Yak Guy will be ready to be around people again. I think I'll have him make a major decision at that point to signal the end of Act One. I'll check the word count at that point, and get an idea how long this story will turn out.

We'll see how it goes, but I'm writing it. I haven't left the outline behind yet, it's just a long way between the mile markers.

Lisa saddled up the yak, and led him out the garage doors from the basement. She led him to the front door, and we watched Yak Guy ride off into the snow. I have a fair idea who he is now, and what he's all about.

*Lisa Burton is my robotic assistant. She's also the spokesmodel for Entertaining Stories.

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I have a character crush

I don’t know what it is about Wednesday’s, but I’ve been posting authorly stuff on Wednesdays. This isn’t by design, it just seems to work out that way.

I’ve written a fair number of characters at this point in my career. I’m not claiming to be an expert at anything, but I get compliments on my characters. Part of my secret is observation. I observe not just real people, but characters of other writers too. This includes performances by actors. I admit to being a little bit jealous of Carol Peletier.

If you don’t know the character, it’s because her last name is never used. I had to Google it myself. This is Carol from The Walking Dead television show. The comic book version had a different arc, and she is dead now.

TWD is a love/hate show. People seem to fall into one camp or the other. I’m going to beg the indulgence of any who don’t like the show, particularly the writers among the crowd. Carol is one of the best characters of all time. Let’s meet her.

Here she is; mousy, weak, worst haircut of all time. She is an abused wife, and mother to a daughter who needs protecting from Carol’s husband. She is portrayed by a wonderful actress named Melissa McBride.

I think it’s really cool that she’s mid to late 40’s. This isn’t Scarlet Johannsen, or Milla Jovovich. Now I love those super babes from the movies, but Carol breaks that mold. (How old was Bilbo Baggins when he set out from the Shire?)

This is a good thing. It adds some believability to an unbelievable setting. I figured Carol was cast to be someone emotional and eventually to become meat for zombies. (What’s known as a redshirt.)

Carol starts off cooking, doing laundry, and being the mommie to the survivors. Nobody is safe on this show, and she lost her husband. This was a good thing. She also lost her daughter, and this was bad. So we started with an underdog and put her through the ringer.

Humans live an almost tribal existence. There are no hospitals, jails, fire departments, or nursing homes in this environment. Some groups of people are bad, and others are in a similar situation to the main cast. Any single mistake could be your last mistake post appocolypse.

When the main cast finds a friendly place, it’s Carol who becomes the welcoming committee. This is who she wants to be. Doesn’t she look sweet? Almost grandmotherly. (Thank God hair continues to grow during the Zombie appocolypse.)

She pitches right in with the new people and plans barbecues. She checks on the sick and serves as a liaison to new friendships.

But Carol has been through some crap. She’s seen her daughter become a zombie, and watched as a friend killed her. She’s been attacked and had to defend herself. She learned to use weapons, because she had to. She also learned what she could about medicines and treats the sick.

In one segment there was a disease going around. When it became obvious that two people were not going to survive, it was Carol who delivered the mercy killings. This was out of mercy, and out of caution for those who were not yet sick. It’s an impossible world, but Carol seems to be the one capable of making impossible decisions.

That’s a great character. She has an arc, and manages to change to survive in a world gone mad. She even manages to save a little bit of grandmotherly Carol in the process. Why I love her is that she’s an even bigger character than that. You see this is Carol too:

Carol is a killing machine. There is a bit of the psychotic in her makeup. She isn’t completely psycho, because she is emotional about it. She simply reserves those emotions until trouble has ended. There isn’t a bit of emotion when she’s killing zombies or humans who really deserve it.

There is one episode, called The Grove. It’s so powerful it spawned a thousand internet memes. At this point in the program, Carol had adopted two girls. The story line took a bit of an Of Mice and Men turn, only it was one of the girls who wasn’t right. (+/- 12 years old.)

The older girl, Lizzie, wasn’t right. She killed her younger sister and said it would be okay, because she would come back. (They always come back, but as zombies.) Carol and another character, Tyrese, we’re looking for the main group. They both have responsibilities, like finding food. Plus there was a baby to care for. Lizzie couldn’t be left alone with the baby, ever.

Carol decided that Lizzie couldn’t be around other people. Remember there are no counsellors, or care facilities available. Check it out for yourselves:

I think this is one of the most powerful bits of film I’ve ever seen. It ranks right up there with the burning of Atlanta, and the shower scene in psycho.

This program is full of testosterone driven moments, and there are plenty of macho characters too. For me, it’s Carol that is the standout character. She doesn’t want to be this person. Circumstances force her to be what she is. Even if you disagree with her decisions, she has a logic behind every action.

Carol continues to get stronger and stronger. She doesn’t do ninja backflips. She doesn’t high kick her way out of trouble, or play the sex kitten. She doesn’t have some asinine catchphrase. She doesn’t try to stand behind the throne and manipulate power. She’s just Carol, trying to survive and make sure her friends survive too.

This week during what amounted to a Viking style raid by some other group, it was Carol who found the weapons and protected the innocent while the main support was afield. And she did it all in about as cold blooded fashion as I’ve ever seen.

Carol has evolved from mousey redshirt into a capable, even dangerous, survivor. She’s capable of making decisions others cannot, and never once asked to be in charge. That’s a great character arc, and I wish I’d have invented her first.

Authors need to be creative thieves. Stock Carol in your memory. Maybe some small piece of her can help you with your next character.

 

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Trying not to be a writer

I’ve mentioned before that I’m trying to tone things down during the summer months. My writing pursuits can wait until winter for all I care. I just want a good outline when I start.

To that end, I’ve been dabbling in related projects. None of them are really serious.

I called my parents, like I do every Sunday. We talked for about an hour and a half. No real topic, but the killer hawk is defending its nest in Mom’s front yard again. I told her she should start carrying a salmon net. Maybe she can train it to leave her alone.

When we finished, I added some cards to the remaining outlines I didn’t work on the other day. I’m considering a gender swap for one of my characters. Maybe “she would do anything to save her man” has better punch than the other way around. They’re still the bad guys, and I need to manipulate the fealty readers will have for them. It still doesn’t feel quite right.

The whole time I was doing this, I felt like I was being watched. Something made my senses tingle, but I was just being silly.

Maybe my new blood pressure medicine has something to do with it. Like I said, I’m not taking things seriously this summer. I spent some time throwing my virtual goat out of a catapult.

Good air on this throw

My daughter got up and decided to make us some breakfast. She got scared by a large spider in the kitchen. Maybe not a big deal, but it was the morning for creepy stuff. Breakfast was good. Egg burrito with chipotle sauce.

We talked for about 45 minutes before she had to go upstairs and start getting ready for work. I went back to another project. I plodded through two chapters of an old book and corrected a couple of typos.

My Spidey senses tingled once more. I turned in my chair so my back was to the wall.

My daughter leaned over the stair rail. “Holy crap! What is that?”

I leaped up and looked out back.

I want your nuts.

My nuts are just fine where they are, thank you very much. I think even the old pit bull could have caught this one. He was asleep beside the air conditioner duct, and we gave this squirrel a pass.

Not a lot of writing related projects today, but some. I need to clean up the sauerkraut crock before it’s cabbage season once again. I also need to deadhead some roses. Maybe I’ll do that this afternoon. I’m keeping an eye on my nuts though.

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