First, she's cute and that's just ridiculous, right? I mean how can I compare with that???? Second, she's just so stinkin' nice and I can't even really be MEAN to her. Third, she had a great idea and hey... my idea-o-meter runs out of juice now and again and instead of teaching folks how to do things I YELL AT THEM to do it better.
I find the yelling to be refreshing and oddly effective but every now and again I get inspired to don the teaching hat and play in the instructional pool. (Which means I might drown, so be prepared to save me. Please).
I am surrounded by children, all shapes, sizes, ages, kinds and psyches.
I'm good at writing them because I've been teaching, studying, working with and torturing children for decades. I keep myself submerged in their ever-changing culture and that's a BIG PART of writing modern children successfully, so the reader buys into it. They sound real. They sound like what you'd hear at church/playground/movie theater (minus the swearing!) and that realism layers into your story.
And when the twins "bad girl" mother comes back home in "Falling for the Lawman", of course she... and THEY.... will need their own book, and it's a book I love because I got to fix Aiden, the shy, recalcitrant boy in "Falling for the Lawman" who is destined to become the twins' brother by the end of the story. The trick to keeping the series effective, is to allow the children's spiritual, mental, educational and physical growth to occur naturally.
(Note to all o' youse: Some readers do not like children. They want romance without children. I don't find this bothersome because I sell a lot of books and I love having kids, single parents, families, friends, etc. in my books. But just so youse know, I get the occasional smackdown for having kids in romances.
And then I think of Kurt Warner, the NFL quarterback who courted the single mother and created a great fairy tale story... and I know I'm on the right track!)
*Something to think about: A deciding factor in my Waterbrook contract was because I layer families/kids/animals/crazy into romance successfully. To quote an editor: "There is nothing romantic about kids, jobs, single-parenting and lack of time. It's exhausting. But you make it work." My Waterbrook romances follow the three Stafford brother cowboys, Colt, Nick and Trey... and with the first book written there are (pauses to count...) six kids, a nest of kittens, farm dogs, cows, guns, old houses and new beginnings... So not much has changed, right???
Here's part of my old family recipe for writing kids!
I think of the joy of the Holy Family and the somber side of raising a King.
I think of The Cosby Show and how they managed to deal with crazy teens using humor. (and by the way, exploding food is never quite as funny in our own kitchens.) I think of Little House on the Prairie and The Waltons and the families I work with daily. What happens when they don't deal with problems??? And what's the bratty-kid fallout when they do????
Do not watch kids on TV. Most current TV shows with kids have a bratty, in-your-face element of snark/sarcasm and bad acting. Or they make the children look stupid, and one-dimensional (the smart girl with no depth, the jock guy with no brain, the nerd little brother who's wretchedly awkward) Caricatures of kids don't work. Blech. I wanna slap 'em already!
Think real kids. Stages of development. There's a reason we use terms like "terrible twos" and the "bratty eights" and "touchy tweens", etc.
So here's the basic rundown:
BABIES ROCK. They draw an audience! Check out "Loving the Lawman", the book that got me on the bestseller's list!!!
They cry, mess their diapers, burp, smile, toothless grins, belly laughs, fever spots, teething, they smell amazing even when they're smelly because then you change them and they smell good again!
Toddlers become more unique and should be treated that way. Their intrinsic personalities are showing. The daredevil... the introvert. The puzzle solver. The diva. The optimist. The sharer. The watcher. The screamer....
Like a chrysalis, this evolves not into a butterfly, but into a more defined and reasonable version of the toddler... (this is good to remember when working a series, that the kid who's 3 in one book will be a little different if they're 4 or 5 in the final book).
Use your imagination author's note:
(RIGHT HERE I WANT TO PUT THE COVER TO MY JUNE BOOK BUT I CAN'T!!!! IT'S NOT OFFICIAL YET, BUT THE TWO LITTLE BOYS, CONNOR AND MARTIN (AND YES, YOU MEET THEM IN "FALLING FOR THE LAWMAN, TOO!!!"... AND BEANSY THE GOAT AND SPIKE THE OVERGROWN PUPPY... OH, AND A HERO AND HEROINE!!!)
"HEALING THE LAWMAN'S HEART" IS AN ABSOLUTELY BEAUTIFUL STORY OF OVERCOMING SORROW AND CLUTCHING THE SECOND CHANCES GOD PUTS BEFORE US!!! I CAN'T WAIT TO SHOW YOU THIS COVER!!!)
Preschoolers explore everything either visually, manually, orally, physically. :)
They question adults, they grasp concepts and relativity and they're curious on a much higher level than MOST of their two-year old counterparts. Some have speech quirks, some have shut-downs, some have incredibly obnoxious-but-cute "me-first" natures (I call these types "little Ruthys" for good reason!), some are downright brats (Skeeter who is an enduring character in both "Waiting out the Storm" and "Made to Order Family") and some are reclusive by nature or lack of nurture. Just like an adult character, it's clutch to keep the kid in character. Brats don't morph overnight. Extroverts are born, not taught. Shyness should always be in upwardly mobile degrees to sound real. If a child is too shy and doesn't improve, you've stagnated the kid.
Don't do that!!!! Stop yourself and run back into that manuscript and fix the kid to show they're on a path toward maturity and independence, at least slightly!
Orphaned brothers Todd and Tyler are little lost souls until their Aunt Haley takes them in, but the two boys are distinctly different in this top-selling story... All they want is a home and a forever family, people to love and cherish them. That's exactly what these two sweet fellows find in Allegany County.
Kids with great retention will handle things differently than a child who struggles to recognize letters/numbers/colors. THEN... personality quirks enter the foray just like they do with your grown-up characters. So if Jamie is a four-year-old boy, bright for his age, outgoing and boisterous whose parents have split up and his father is out of the picture, Jamie is going to behave/act based on his personality/mental acuity/birth order and then he's going to REACT to how the grown ups around him handle things.
And that opens up a whole new kettle of fish!
I could say more (of course!!!) but we'll do that in Part 2 next month, and don't cringe... it's unbecoming! Besides, if you want to improve your skills at writing children it's either listen to the Ruthinator... or open your own daycare.
Honestly, reading about it is so much easier!!!!
NOTE TO EVERYONE!!!! Starting today, my 5-star ranked indie novel "Try, Try Again" (yes with an adorable little girl named Grayce!!!) is on sale for Kindle and Kindle apps for .99! Head on over to my buddy Jeff's place at Amazon and grab your copy and then come on back!
Hey, let's do a "mixed-up" giveaway today. Five people will win their choice of either any Ruthy Love Inspired or indie book...
If you don't mind waiting a few weeks.... You can have this delightfully sweet Zondervan e-book/novella from the Year of Weddings series!!!!
Third-year law student Tara Simonetti needs a job to pay the bills and put food on the table. After her father’s untimely death, she’s determined to give her small hometown what he didn’t have: a good, honest lawyer, but law school isn’t cheap. When she answers a want ad that leads her to Elena’s Bridal one blustery morning, she feels like she’s died and gone to heaven. All of the organza, gowns, and pearls she could ever imagine—her dream job, indeed.
Hotshot lawyer Greg Elizondo is there, running the shop, trying to keep it afloat after his mother’s passing. He’s kind and more handsome than Tara cares to admit, but his laser-focus on the corporate ladder makes him the wrong match for her.
As they work to save the shop from its impending closing, their feelings grow. But with Tara bound for the valleys of northern Pennsylvania and Greg set on New York City, circumstances scream “NO.”
In the midst of juggling Bridezillas, wedding dress orders, and a re-opening gala, their attraction deepens, along with the reality that their goals are pulling them in two separate directions. No matter how Tara does the math, it doesn’t add up. Can God orchestrate their desires and goals into one happy ending?
Let me know in the comments what you'd like.... and then e-mail us at email@example.com to tell me what kind of e-reader you own and what e-mail address you want it sent to! If it's a Love Inspired hard copy you'd like, to see the actuality of how I put cute kids on paper and make them so appealing their own mother won't recognize them, send us your snail mail addy and which book you'd like!
The cat dish is clean... and doesn't smell the least bit fishy! :)
Come on in, the coffee's on!