A Big Welcome to Mary Adler, #RRBC Spotlight Author for January!

I am truly honored to host the first #RRBC Spotlight Author of 2019. Please welcome writer Mary Adler to The Indie Spot. Take it away, Mary. . .

 

WORKING SMART: PART ONE

 

CHARACTER BIBLE

There are so many things for a writer to worry about when writing a novel. Plot, dialogue, characterization, conflict, style. Do all the characters names start with the same initial? Were Jimmy’s eyes blue or brown?

To make the most of the time spent toiling at the computer, many authors create time-saving aids to make the book building process go more smoothly. I do several things as I write my first draft.

Character Descriptions: I don’t write long backstories for my characters, but I do note their physical characteristics, speech peculiarities, and other specific details about them including their birth dates and affiliations in a character bible. I also pin up photos from magazines when I find someone who looks the way I think my character should look. For example, this is a photo of a model who represents Paola Buonarotti.

And this is a photo of Oliver’s German shepherd, Harley.

I always know what color my characters’ eyes are, who is related to whom, and who hates fish.

It is also useful to keep a record – perhaps in a spreadsheet – of the first time a character appears or is mentioned. It may seem unnecessary, but when you begin revisions and start moving events around in the manuscript, it is helpful to have a record of what happens when and who was where.

Names: For some reason, I am drawn to names that begin with “L”. So, my first book has Luca and Lucy and Louis. To me, they are completely dissimilar names. (I am not so sure that the reader makes that distinction.) As I wrote the second book, I was more careful and kept a tally under the letters of the alphabet. (For their fans, Luca, Lucy, and Louis are still there.)

If you are looking for names that were popular in a given time period, you can find them easily on-line. Mary was the most popular girl’s name from 1800 until 1961. In 2011 it was 112th.  (When I hear the name Mary, I assume the person is of a certain age – like me! According to The Atlantic, modern parents want their children to have names that underline their individuality. Hmmm.)

Follow Mary online:

Twitter – @MAAdlerwrites

Facebook – https://maryadlerwrites.com/

Author Bio:

Mary Adler was an attorney and dean at CWRU School of Medicine. She escaped the ivory tower for the much gentler world of World War II and the adventures of homicide detective Oliver Wright and his German shepherd, Harley. She lives with her family in Sebastopol, California, where she creates garden habitats for birds and bees and butterflies. She is active in dog rescue and does canine scent work with her brilliant dogs — the brains of the team — and loves all things Italian.

Shadowed by Death

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56 thoughts on “A Big Welcome to Mary Adler, #RRBC Spotlight Author for January!

  1. rijanjks

    This is a fantastic post with great information. I think it is super important to keep the character’s names different and distinguishable and Mary’s idea for a spreadsheet is great, especially when you are into your ninth or tenth book. You wouldn’t want to reuse a character’s name too many time. Congrats for sitting in the spotlight, Mary! Thanks for hosting today, Beem!

    Liked by 4 people

    Reply
    1. Mary Adler

      Thank you, Jan. I do find it interesting when I run down my list of characters to find the same letters popping up even though I think I am being careful. I wonder what creates that affinity. More to ponder. 🙂 On the topic of names, I wish more writers would trust the reader more. Most of us are able to follow dialogue and action without having the characters’ names repeated over and over. If the author reads her work out loud, too-frequently repeated names will jump out at her.

      Liked by 3 people

      Reply
  2. D.L Finn, Author

    I enjoyed this post. I have to be careful too not getting hooked on the same letter names in a story, too. I have a babybook to search for names but mostly do it online now to get the right era. I like the idea of using a spreadsheet to keep track, I use notes and have learned to keep them in one place finally. I’ve never used pictures for characters, but it’s great way to make them more alive for sure. Happy tour Mary:) Thanks for hosting Beem.

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
    1. Mary Adler

      Thanks, Denise. It took me a while to keep all my notes in one place, too. I read an autobiography of Twyla Tharp, the dancer/choreographer. She said that when she has an idea for a piece, she labels a box and everything relating to the subject goes into the box. I took her advice and do that, too. I did not follow all her advice about keeping her life simple in order to be able to work efficiently. She eats a hard-boiled egg for breakfast every day. That’s it. Then goes to work. 🙂

      Liked by 3 people

      Reply
      1. D.L Finn, Author

        The idea to have a box and put all the story related stuff in there is good too Mary. I couldn’t get by on just a hard boiled egg every morning though either!

        Liked by 2 people

    1. Mary Adler

      Thank you, Gwen. You have been so supportive from our early writing days. I am so happy writing brought us together and that you introduced me to RRBC. Take care, dear friend.

      Liked by 2 people

      Reply
    1. Mary Adler

      Thank you, Bette. You are so wonderfully supportive of us RRBC RWISA folks. I have enjoyed your books, too, and am so happy RRBC brought us together.

      Liked by 3 people

      Reply
  3. Vashti Q

    Hi Mary! Congratulations on being selected “Spotlight Author” this month. You are very deserving. I have a notebook for each of my books with my characters’ physical descriptions, characteristics, quirks . . . I also draw sketches of my characters and collect magazine pictures. I research my characters’ names too. I enjoyed the post. Thanks for sharing and enjoy your time in the Spotlight! Thanks for hosting, Beem! 😊

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
  4. Mary Adler

    Vashti, thank you. How wonderful that you can draw sketches of your characters! Have you ever thought of including sketches in your books? Jane Langton, a wonderful mystery writer, used to illustrate her novels. I loved them. I have tried to draw a map for my books, but, alas, have not been too successful. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    Reply
    1. Vashti Q

      I’ve been told I should add a few of my illustrations to my books, But I don’t think I’m good enough to do that (yet). Drawing has always been fun and relaxing for me and I’ve often used it as a tool for learning, so it was easy to incorporate it to my writing process. Who knows? I have a children’s book in mind and maybe by the time I get around to doing it I will be able to illustrate it. Thank you, Mary. Wishing you all the best!

      Liked by 2 people

      Reply
  5. Mary Adler

    Beem, thank you for hosting me. You are so wonderfully supportive of everyone. I love your feathery. colorful sideboard about Writing being like painting a picture.

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
    1. beemweeks Post author

      Mary, it has been such a pleasure and an honor hosting you on my blog. As for the feathery, colorful sideboard, that was actually created by a county library somewhere in Florida. They borrowed my quote for their website. I was just thrilled they found my words worthy.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
      1. Mary Adler

        That’s wonderful, Beem. I find your words to be quite worthy, also. Thank you again for hosting and for all you do for us. You are a bit of a gem.

        Liked by 2 people

  6. Shirley Harris-Slaughter

    Hi Mary and Congrats on becoming Spotlight Author. I can appreciate your suggestions on developing and remembering characters. Its so easy to get lost in your own words and thoughts. Thanks for sharing. Hi Beem. I know Mary appreciates your support.

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
    1. Mary Adler

      Hi Shirley. I ducked back here and found your comment. Thank you. I agree about how easy it is to get lost in the process of writing 70 to 80,000 words. It’s a wonder we manage at all. 🙂

      Like

      Reply
  7. Rhani D'Chae

    Hi, Mary. I hope you have a great time on your tour. I also have a notebook where I keep track of character names, features, attributes and so on, but my problem is that I keep losing it. l guess I’m going to have to hook it to a bungee cord and then tie the cord to my wrist. 😄
    Beem, thanks for hosting the first stop. I reblogged.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Mary Adler

      Rhani, If you are like me you probably put your notebook in a safe place where you will know where it is. And then you don’t remember where the safe place is. I wonder if the refrigerator would be a good place. At least I would be in the vicinity multiple times a day. 🙂 Thank you for commenting and for reblogging.

      Liked by 2 people

      Reply
  8. Soooz

    Congratulations, Mary. It’s wonderful to see you featured in the Spotlight this month. I had to smile when reading your post and comments, I too have selective amnesia when it comes to a safe place to keep my notebooks etc. The most successful place thus far is right alongside the makings for my constant daily supply of coffee. I NEVER forget where the coffee is located. I too keep images of folks that closely resemble my characters. I must admit to being concerned that ALL my pivotal male characters seem to resemble Chris Hemsworth. I may have a mental block on that one.😀 Enjoy your tour! Thanks for hosting, Beem.

    Liked by 3 people

    Reply
    1. Mary Adler

      Hi Soooz, Oh, my! I had to google Chris Hemsworth. I wonder if he would like to appear in some WWII mysteries on the other side of the world. I have a bit of a fixation on Luca Zingaretti who plays Commissario Montalbano on Italian television. My character Luca resembles him. In the tv series, Montalbano is frequently swimming in the sea near his home. They even figured out a way for him to do a swimming scene in a movie set in Texas during WWII. Of course, my Luca has a very important swimming scene, too. Thank you for coming by. You always have something interesting to add to the party. 🙂

      Liked by 3 people

      Reply
      1. Soooz

        I think the delectable Mr. Hemsworth would look great in a WW11 Uniform. Luca Zingaretti as Salvo Montalbano has a great look. How lovely it would be to have one of our books made into a movie.😊

        Liked by 3 people

      2. Mary Adler

        It would be am amazing to have one of our books made into a movie. I would have to acquaint myself with younger leading men. Most of the actors I would choose are way too old now. Take care, Soooz.

        Liked by 2 people

    1. Mary Adler

      Wendy, I can totally relate to that! Sometimes, I can’t remember how I spell my dog’s name. 🙂 Luckily, it’s on her id tags.

      Like

      Reply
  9. ~Mar

    This is such a great post!! Congratulations, Mary!! So excited for you to receive this honor. I look forward to the rest of your month. Beem, thank you so much for being a fantastic host!!

    Like

    Reply

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