Thursday, November 21, 2013

Hometown Secrets

I’m Dawn Flemington and I’d like to thank Whitley for inviting me to talk on her blog today. She’s popped my ‘author cherry’ as this is my first interview for my first book, Hometown Secrets, which
debuted November 19th  from Loose Id Publishing. My second book, Blah, Humbug will be released December 1st from Dreamspinner Press. Yes, I have many things to be thankful for this holiday season and at the top of the list? Finally seeing a lifelong dream come true! I am book published! *SQUEE!*

Question – Are you a plotter or pantster?  Like all things in my life, instead of being either black or white, I tend to be a shade of grey… I call myself a ‘fencer’ – that is, I kinda do both plotting and pantsing. I must plot out the characters and have a vague outline of goals… then I pants it, which unfortunately leads me into some murky middles if I’m not careful.

Question - Tortured hero or tortured villain? I love to read stories and watch movies where the villain is totally a tortured soul. I’ve tried writing my version of a sympathetic villain, and alas, I haven’t mastered that yet. But I will keep trying…

Question - Easy on your characters or as hard as possible? Compared to my colorful, event-filled life, I don’t make my characters go through anything I haven’t been exposed to, so I believe I’m pathetically easy on my characters – however, my characters would vehemently disagree.  

Question - What do you consider to be the key elements of a great story? Hands down and no breath holding… it’s gotta be the characters. In my humble opinion, if you have wonderful, believable characters that touch a reader’s soul on an intimate level, you have it made. It doesn’t matter if you head hop or if your plot is quirky or if you start laminating in purple prose… if you have beloved characters and remain faithful to them, the reader will be more apt to forgive you for weaker story elements.

Question - What is the hardest part of writing your books? In all actuality, not letting real life get in the way. Ignoring procrastination and trying NOT to feel guilty over the laundry, the dishes, the simple dinners, and the abandoned vacuum cleaner/mop/feather duster. However, if we are talking about the actual mechanics of writing, I would say I have trouble surfing murky middles. If my middles are not sound, they have the tendency to become like quicksand and swallow me whole. Then the story never gets finished. (*sigh*) Sad, but true. I have a file drawer filled with great starts and beautiful endings, but the middle just sucked the life out of me.  

Question - How do you develop your plots? Do you use any set formula? If I told you, I’d have to kill you. (*snort*). Seriously, I have tried everything under the moon and then some, and for me, I haven’t found anything that compliments my mood at the moment, nor the current alignment of the stars or my bad hair days. More than likely I will continue to seek out the elusive magic ingredient guaranteed to make my writing life easier – and if I should stumble upon it, I would probably covet it for a period and call it ‘my precious’ before feeling guilty and then share it with the world…

Can you tell me a bit about your most recent release?  I started Hometown Secrets in as a submission for an anthology. Much to my chagrin and delight, the characters took on a life of their own and refused to be limited to 12,000 words. Never one to let an opportunity pass, I decided to flow with the voices to see where the characters wanted to take me. Wow – was I ever surprised.

As for my characters Pete, Asher, Virgil, Pastor Trumball and Trenton-Lee they; are as real to me as most of my family, friends, neighbors and acquaintances and the town of Delton became as memorable as my own hometown. Maybe that's because the location and all characters are a combination of places I lived in and people I grew up with or have met over the years. (A bit of trivia - Trenton-Lee is the name of my oldest grandson and has his Uncle Kelley's (my oldest son's) personality growing up. Vera is based on my grandmother and my fifth grade teacher.) Unlike past stories I've penned, it was hard to end this book.

I hope to someday revisit Hometown Secrets and expand, as I have a couple of secondary characters who are dying to tell their own stories and share their own secretes.

An old secret. A new secret. A surprising secret. A dirty secret.
Coming to terms with his sexuality, Pete Stubbs has found his 'Mr. Wonderful' and wants to celebrate his happiness by coming out. Yet admitting he is gay to his family is taking more courage than he originally thought, especially when his mother stuns him with her unexpected homophobic hatred. He starts to wonder if his coming out will be more selfish than freeing.

Out and proud Asher Gilford is tired of always being the 'throw away boy'. He deserves to be loved by a man who's not ashamed to be with him. Though his current lover reassures him it's only that 'more time is needed' before they can go public, Asher fears he's becoming someone's 'dirty little secret' yet again.

When a church sponsors Pete and Asher for a charity event, it explodes a series of startling secrets within their hometown. As Pete watches life crumble around him, he realizes that by remaining in the closet, he could lose more than his family. If he doesn't step up, he could lose Asher.

Buy link    Hometown Secrets
Dawn started out hobby writing fan fiction back in the 70’s and has had a few things published in fanzine form and on fan-fic websites. She has written a weekly column for a county newspaper and has had a few magazine articles printed.
Other than writing and reading, Dawn loves to quilt and crochet and has keen interest in green living, natural remedies, and self-reliance living skills.

Dawn is engaged to Scott Flemington, a retired HS English teacher who pines to be a co-author someday. They are life-long Michiganders and between the two of them, have five children, seven grandchildren, a fat spoiled cat and a turtle. They are highly active with their local GLBT and BDSM community.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

What the Heck is a Character Outline? Why do I need one?

Character bible or character outline, they both boil down to the same thing. But what is it?

The short answer: it’s a biography.

The long answer: It’s a list of everything you know about your character, starting with his family of origin and ending at the start of your book. There are many, many lists out there for making a character outline, ranging from extraordinarily detailed to “just the basics.”

The reason you need one: to make sure you’re consistent about what your character looks like, sounds like, and acts like.

“Why? I know this character inside and out!” you say.

Sure, but like so many things, details can be forgotten. Plus if you ever write a sequel, you have a nice reference to ensure continuity. The character interview—talking to your character and asking him/her questions—can be a great way to get to know him/her.

“We’re well acquainted—I created him, after all,” you say.

True—but it’s amazing what you can discover about your character this way. A lot of this information can be mined for plot. Worth the time and effort.

Here’s my list of what you might want to include for starters in the character outline:

--Vital statistics—like height, weight, build, hair color, eye color. Here you can add in tattoos, piercings, or other distinguishing marks.

--Married? Single? “It’s complicated?”

--Where he lives—physical location. City or town, rural or metro.

--What does he live in—house, apartment, dorm. Single story or many floors? Stairs or elevator or both? Roommates?

--What he drives, and/or how he gets around.

--Where he works and what he does for a living. Consider salary—minimum wage or well-off?

--Education: high school drop-out? Graduate degree? What schools did he attend?

--Family—who are they, and how are they related to the character?

--Major formative life experiences (military service; losing both parents at a young age, suicide attempt, etc)

--Accomplishments—won a marathon, speaks fluent Japanese, makes the best chili this side of the Rockies.

--Major life ambition—climb Mount Everest, swim with sharks, get a GED.

I like to add in the character’s biggest fear, and what the character would never do. These come in handy when plotting. Of course, we’d like to make him face his biggest fear, and do what he never would do.

Two traits: serious, short-tempered, deliberate, honest, ruthless, mouthy, shy. Opposing/complementary traits are useful in putting together a pair of protagonists.

A list of favorites will help flesh out the character:

--Food (Pepsi; anchovies on pizza; allergic to shellfish)


--boxers or briefs?

--favorite movie/book/TV show

--favorite characteristics in a significant other—looks and characteristics

For the character interview, think about interpersonal relationships: family, friends, and firsts (first kiss, first intimate encounter, first job).

Here’s a set of good character interview questions from Gotham Writers’ Workshop:








Monday, November 4, 2013

Burdened to Death with Meg Perry

Today Meg  Perry is here to introduce the protagonist of her new release, Burdened to Death. Take it away, Meg...
What is your name and occupation?

My name’s Jeremy Brodie, Jamie for short. When I was born my oldest brother was two, and he couldn’t say Jeremy. It came out sounding sort of like Jamie, and the nickname stuck. I’m a librarian with a subject specialty in history at the Young Research Library at UCLA.

How old are you? 33.

How did you come by your current occupation?

I had originally planned to teach history at the college level. When my boyfriend at the time left me, near the end of my doctoral program, I decided to take a different path. I enjoyed doing research, so I went to library school and became an academic librarian. I teach a class in history research for the library school every spring.

Do you like your job?

I love my job! UCLA is one of the top universities in the country. Our patrons are mostly graduate students and faculty, so the research questions we get are always interesting. I learn something new every day.

Who is the person you dislike the most?

I have never met her, but I despise my boyfriend’s mother. Pete was sexually abused by the parish priest when he was fourteen, and his mother didn’t believe him – or his older brother, who’d actually caught the priest with Pete. She chose the priest’s reputation over her own sons. I don’t think I can forgive that.

Who is the person you respect the most?

My dad. He raised three boys as a single dad and served our country for 35 years as a Marine. He’s the most awesome person I know.

Is there anyone special in your life?

My boyfriend, Pete Ferguson. We’ve been together for a while now. We dated once before and couldn’t make it work – this time we’re both committed to building a relationship.

What’s your favorite meal? Do you fix it yourself or have someone fix it for you?

Shrimp and grits! I can’t cook it very well myself. My dad makes it the best, and he’s taught Pete to do it too.

Favorite color?

Blue. The color of sky and water.

Football or baseball?

Baseball. I played when I was a kid, and both my boyfriend Pete and my brother Kevin played baseball at UCLA on scholarship. Kevin still plays for the LAPD team, the Centurions. We go to Dodgers games pretty often. Having said that – my favorite sport is rugby. I started playing youth rugby when I was in grade school, and I kept it up all the way through college and graduate school. I won two national collegiate championships playing with the rugby team at UC-Berkeley.

Favorite exercise?

Swimming. I love being alone in the water. It really clears my head.

I hear you’re planning a vacation. Where are you going? Is anyone going along?

I’d like to take Pete to England with me next year, to show him Oxford and introduce him to my friends there.

Favorite holiday?

Thanksgiving. No presents, no unrealistic expectations, just food and family.

Favorite song?

I listen to a lot of classical music to relax. My ex, Scott, is a cellist in the LA Philharmonic and he got me hooked on it. I love the Bach cello suites.

If you had one wish, what would it be?

That I could go back in time and erase Pete’s abuse. I’d do anything if I could change that for him.


A phone call in the middle of the night is never good news. When Pete Ferguson’s phone rings, he learns that one of his childhood friends, Mark Jones, has committed suicide. Mark’s family is shocked, and wonders if Mark was abused by the same priest at whose hands Pete suffered. Pete and Mark’s family want answers, and they ask Jamie to find them.  Pete is convinced the priest is connected to his friend’s suicide. Jamie isn’t so sure. When the evidence starts pulling them in different directions, will it tear them apart?



We spotted Mark and Marcia’s mother near the driveway. She turned as we walked toward her, saw Pete, and came to him with her arms open. “Pete Ferguson! It’s so good to see you!”

Pete hugged her for a minute then introduced me. “This is my boyfriend, Jamie Brodie. This is – um, Mark’s mom.”

She smiled and took my hand. “Elaine Smith. It’s lovely to meet you.” She turned back to Pete. “I went from Jones to Smith. Isn’t that silly?”

Pete smiled. He said to me, “All the cookie recipes I have are ones that I got from Mark’s mom.”

“Oh, wow.” I smiled at Mrs. Smith. “I have a lot to be grateful to you for, then.”

She laughed a little. She and Pete went through the “how is everyone and where are they now” questions again, and she took Pete’s hand in both of hers. “I’m so glad you’re doing well.” She didn’t say anything else, but I knew what she meant.

“Thank you.” Pete didn’t elaborate either. I knew he was over talking about it.

She nodded at the driveway, where we saw Mark’s father departing. “He’s handling this very poorly. He didn’t react well when Mark came out. I think the wife is partly to blame. She’s very concerned with appearances.”

“Is that the same woman? She looks different.”

Mrs. Smith made a sound of disgust. “Oh, no. That’s wife number four. The other two and I meet for coffee sometimes. They were at least decent human beings. Wife number two is here, as a matter of fact. She loved Mark. This one, I don’t even want my granddaughters in her home.”

“So Mr. Jones feels bad now that he rejected Mark.”

“Bad doesn’t begin to cover it.” She made a dismissive motion with her hand. “But forget them.” She turned to me. “You seem like a lovely young man. Where are you from and what do you do?”

“Thank you, ma’am. I’m from Oceanside. and I’m a librarian at UCLA.”

“Oceanside. Did you grow up in a military household?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

She nodded. “Good.” She put her arm around Pete’s waist and gave him a squeeze. “You take good care of this boy.”

“Yes, ma’am. I will.”

Her smile faded. “I have to go see to Mark’s boyfriend. He’s having a terrible time. I’m trying to convince him to stay with us for a few days. He doesn’t have any contact with his own parents.” Her eyes teared up. “How can anyone turn their own child away? How can anyone do what your mother did?”

Pete said softly, “I’ve wondered that myself.”

Mrs. Smith hugged Pete fiercely then stepped back. “I’m so glad to see you. We’re in the same house. I’d love to have you visit some time.” She smiled mischievously. “I’ll make cookies.”

Pete laughed. “I’d like that.”

Mrs. Smith moved away and Pete turned to me. He looked tired. “Ready to go?”

“Yeah.” I’d been hoping to talk to the boyfriend, but he didn’t look like he was in any shape to talk. Right now he was sobbing on Mark’s mother’s shoulder.

“Let’s go find Dan’s grave.”

I’d brought flowers. I knew Ben Goldstein, Dan’s boyfriend at the time of his death, had made arrangements with Forest Lawn to keep flowers on Dan’s grave, but I wanted to make my contribution. We walked along the drive away from the subdued hubbub of Mark’s family. Dan’s grave was in the next section over. I was glad to see it was well tended. I laid my flowers at the base of the headstone and we stood for a minute. It was peaceful. There were birds singing.

Finally Pete sighed deeply and took my hand. “Okay. Let’s go home.”

We drove home without saying much. When we got there, Pete dumped his jacket on the loveseat and headed straight for the kitchen. He took down the bottle of Glenmorangie that Kevin and Abby had given us for Christmas, poured two fingers into a glass, knocked it back and poured two more. He gestured at me with the bottle. “Want any?”

“No.” I took a beer out of the fridge and took a long drink. “This’ll work for me.”

Pete went back down into the living room and dropped onto the sofa. He pulled off his tie and tossed it in the direction of his jacket; it fell to the floor. I picked it up, straightened his jacket over the arm of the loveseat and laid his tie over it, then draped my own jacket and tie over his. He waved his glass in the general direction of me and the jackets. “Thanks.”

“You’re welcome.” I sat down beside him, but not touching. I didn’t know if he’d want to be touched. “Tough day.”

“No shit.”

“I didn’t know that anyone else knew about what happened to you.”

“Like Marcia said, word got around.”

“That’s bad.”

“Yeah.” Pete had his closed face on.

“Is there anything I can do?”

“Yeah.” He took another drink. “You can find out if the same thing happened to Mark as happened to me.”

“Do you really want me to do that?”

“Yeah. I do. I want to know what happened to him. I want to know why he did this. And I want to know if that son of a bitch Terry Moynihan did this to anyone else. And I want to know where he is.” He glared at me, his expression fierce. “Will you do that?”

I swallowed hard. “I will.”

“Good.” He turned his face back to the window.

I had my orders.


Links to buy:     Amazon

Link for contact (blog):