Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Guest Post plus Excerpts: Andrea R. Cooper (Author of The Garnet Dagger & Viking Fire)

Hello Gals & Guys!

I'm happy to say that 
Author Andrea R. Cooper has joined us today! 

She's going to give us a few great tips on how to make your characters believable! I, for one, am stoked to see her thoughts! 

But First....

Let me tell you a little bit about Andrea & her work! 

Growing up in Houston, Texas, Andrea has always created characters and stories. But it wasn't until she was in her late twenties that she started writing novels. 

What happened that ignited the writing flame in her fingers? Divorced, and disillusioned by love songs and stories. They exaggerate. She thought. Love and Romance are not like that in the real world. Then she met her husband and realized, yes love and romance are exactly like the songs and stories say. She is now a happy wife, and a mom to three kids (two boys and a girl). 

Andrea writes paranormal and historical romance. When not writing or reading, one may find Andrea dancing in Zumba.  She believes in the power of change and counting each moment as a blessing. But most importantly, she believes in love.

Connect With Andrea:    Facebook    Twitter    Website    Goodreads  

Viking Fire
by Andrea R. Cooper
Adult Historical (Viking) Romance
Published July 29, 2013 by Crimson Romance

Synopsis via Goodreads:

856 CE, Ireland is a land of myth, magic, and blood. Viking raiders have fought the Irish for over half a century. Rival Irish clans promise only betrayal and carnage.

Kaireen, daughter of Laird Liannon, is suddenly forced into an arranged marriage with her sworn enemy, a Viking. She refuses to submit. With no mention of love, only land and the protection of her clan, she endeavors to get her betrothed banished from her country. Will love find its way around her stubborn heart?

Bram, the Viking, finds himself without future or inheritance as a younger son in his family. A marriage to the Laird’s daughter would grant him land if he swears fidelity and if his men will fight along with the Liannons against any foe—Irish or Viking. However, the Laird’s feisty daughter only holds animosity for him and his kind. Is marriage worth the battle scars of such a relentless opponent?

With the blame for a rival laird’s death treacherously set against the Liannons, Kaireen and Bram must find a way to lay aside their differences as an unforeseen darkness sends death snapping at their heels.

Viking Fire Excerpt
Chapter One Ireland 856 CE

“I renounce Father for this.” Kaireen threw the elderberry gown. Dressed only in her
leine, she glared at the new gown on the stone floor.

“Shame on you and your children for speaking such.” Her handmaid, Elva, gathered the damask and then dusted off the rushes. “It’s a wonder one of the clim has not scolded you from your hearth for such talk.” She wore her white hair twisted in a chignon, underneath a linen head cloth. Strands of white hair poked out the sides of her covering.

“No, curse Father for a fool.” She plopped on her bed and a goose feather floated away. With a huff, she leaned against the oak headboard. Red curtains puffed like a robin’s chest around oak poles supporting her wooden canopy.

Her bare feet brushed against the stone floor. Why was she not born plain like her two older sisters? Already they had married and expected their second bairns by spring. Well, at least so far she had enjoyed twenty years of freedom. Neither of her sisters had had matrimonial dreams of love matches. Both were arranged marriages.

“You know your da arranged a marriage within a season.” Elva smirked.

Kaireen shook her head. “To another land holder,” and waved a hand in disgust, “not t-this heathen. Twice they raided our land in the last month alone. Many a raid has come from them. Now father wants me as wife to one of them?” She clenched her fists. “No, I will not marry this Viking.”

Elva smiled, reminding Kaireen of the rumors of her handmaid’s uncanny foresight.
Whispers of Elva making strange things happen and often blamed as the cause of
Kaireen’s stubborn refusal to behave as a laird’s daughter should.

“You’ve not seen him yet.” Elva wiggled her brows.

“So?” Kaireen shrugged. “I would like to never see him.”

“Well then, would you not like to know if you have a handsome husband or not?” She waited for her response, but Kaireen scowled at her. Elva chuckled. “I would rather get a good look at him now than the morning after.”

Kaireen’s ears heated. “I am not marrying.” She shook her head for emphasis. “So there will be no morning, nor night, nor wedding.”

“If he is handsome, I may fight you for him.” Elva smiled, deepening the wrinkles around her eyes.

“Welcome to him either way.” Kaireen laughed.

The Garnet Dagger
by Andrea R. Cooper
Adult Paranormal Romance
Published March 25, 2013 by Crimson Romance

Synopsis via Goodreads:

Forbidden to cross the Elvin barrier into human lands, Brock cannot sate his curiosity. Cursed by a vampyre bite that forces him to feed on the life-essence of others, he is unable to touch another without taking their life. Chained by prophesy, he must find a witch, pierce her heart, and draw her blood for his cure.

Celeste must escape the monks who have held her prisoner for years. Her magic has been kept dormant by her captors. An ancient powerful Warloc craves her powers. If he succeeds in devouring her magic, she and the world will die.

When Brock falls in love with Celeste before realizing her demise is his cure, will love triumph over his desire to be healed? Will he risk everything to save her from a Warloc, an oath breaker, who also wants her dead?

The Garnet Dagger Excerpt:   
Chapter One

I’ve known death. For over half a millennia, I escorted many to death at the end of my sword. In the eyes of the dying, I watched it shroud them. Foolishly, I thought many more eras would pass before death came for me. It came so swiftly that I could not run; I could not escape. At a village, dressed in human clothes, I took in everything. By observing for eons, I understood and spoke their language. The world of mankind fascinated me. Their hobbled homes burrowed into the ground.

Rocks crunched on top one another with thatched roofs woven from straw. Never had I seen a home or inn that was higher than three levels, as if they were afraid of the sky. I delayed my return to my people as I watched human jugglers bounce torches and knifes. It was autumn equinox and the festivities would continue well into the night. Children laughed as they chased each other. A trail of leaves from their costumes twirled after them. It was dark when I reached the forest. Since I was already late, I hiked uphill to a shortcut rather than take the long path back home. I didn’t need to alert any of my kind near the barrier at this hour. Liana would wonder why I was late. 

Tonight was the two month anniversary of our hand twining ceremony. One more month as was custom, and then we’d be wed. A gasp rustled through the trees. The roots shot a warning through to me with stifled caution. Adjusting my pack, I continued on instead of changing back into my Elvin clothes. After I passed the border which kept humans from entering our land, then I’d change. In the distance, I heard a groan. Curious, I spun in the direction of the sound. The autumn wind breezed through my worn human clothes, chilling me. But someone needed help. I turned in the direction of the sounds. Whatever made the noise should be a few yards ahead. 

I hiked slower than my normal speed, so as not to startle whatever human called out. My leather boots crunched upon dried, diseased leaves and bark. Horrified, I glanced up. Branches twisted around each other to suffocating. Lifeless limbs cracked in the wind. Flesh of the trees sloughed off in layers, exposing its bones. Gashes hollowed out chunks of warmth. Fragments of leaves clung to finger tips, marking sepulchers of the dying trees. Trees mourned with wails like splitting wood, and I brought my hands over my ears. I must flee before I became infected, they told me. Flee before the stain of this defilement creeps into you, they warned. Trees spoke to my kind, always had. Yet these trees were in such agony of death that I could not breathe. Felt as though my lungs had folded in on themselves, like a moth unable to break loose from its cocoon. 

Nothing I could do for them, and if I lingered too long, whatever disease gnawed upon them may choke me. Where would I go if I carried something so foul as to devour trees from the inside out? I’d never return to Tamlon if I brought this infection with me. I drew away, but a movement at the base of a decaying tree to my right caught me. My night vision picked up the sight of a human. His sallow face seemed to glow in the moonlight. Poking out from rags lay his arms and legs, which resembled skin stretched over sticks. So cadaverous was his face, I’d have thought him dead if he hadn’t moved.

“Please,” he said and his voice sounded like cicada’s vibrations, “help me.”

“What ails you in this troubled place?” I wondered if my voice, foreign to my ears in speaking the human’s language, revealed my nature.

“I am lost.” His dark eyes crinkled around the corners. “Without strength to rise. If you would but assist me up, I’ll be on my way.”

I’d never touched a human on purpose before. Was it that that gave me pause, or dread that stilled my heart? My feet itched to flee. As soon as I helped him, then I’d leave. I gritted my teeth and reached a hand down. 

His gnarled fingers snapped on my arm, making me wince. Jerking me forward, his face contorted. Surprised by his strength, I fell beside him. Blackness curled around me. Teeth, fangs, broke through the skin on my neck. Then I knew him for what he was, a vampyre.

Grab Your Copy:

Barnes & Noble:      Viking Fire       The Garnet Dagger

How to Make Your Characters Believable

These are tips that have worked for me. I believe with anyone’s advice, take what works for you and throw out what doesn’t. And sometimes the magic works, and sometimes it’s as elusive as finding a snowflake in Houston.

·         Multidimensional. No one is all bad or all good. Give your antagonist a redeeming quality or two. Does she/he love animals? Feed the poor? Is your heroine too good? Give her a vice or a phobia. For example, in my Viking Fire historical romance, Bram is patient and caring, but he’s also cocky. Kaireen, the heroine, is brave and feisty, but she’s stubborn and spoiled.
·         Allow your characters to talk. Don’t make them speak in complete sentences or scripted ones. Let loose the reigns a bit in dialogue even if you don’t anywhere else in the manuscript.

·         Let the characters be impulsive. You want your hero to stay and fight the bad guy. But what if he wants to ride out and meet him instead? Write it out and see what happens. See if this makes a better scene than the one you had planned.

·          Know your characters. Be able to answer questions, take personality tests, etc. as your character(s). While I wouldn’t recommend this for all of your characters, I would for your hero, heroine, and villain. These can be fun even like ‘what astrology sign should you be?’ Then research that sign for your character or merge two signs together. Have fun.

·         Do a character interview. Find questions online and then read the first sentence and answer as your character. If nothing comes to you, don’t get discouraged, try another question. Or close your eyes and try to picture your character. What are they doing? How do they feel about the questions?

·         After you have a complete manuscript, ask friends and family to read it and let you know if anything about the characters strikes them as off. Even better – find a critique group to review and give feedback.

·         Don’t do stereotypes. If a character has a dialect, please do research. If nothing else, ask online. I heard a writer say his hero from Texas said jaw-jacking a lot because that’s how people talk in Texas. Hmmm, ok, I’ve lived in Texas my entire life and have family who live in the country, I’ve never heard any of us say jaw-jacking. Not everyone in Texas wears cowboy boots and hats, and talks with a twang. 

These are a few things that have helped me in creating believable characters and I hope they inspire you as well.


  1. Kayla,
    Thank you for having me on your wonderful blog.

    1. You are most welcome!! I'm happy to have you!!! <3

  2. Great advice, Andrea! I love dialogue in a book. I wish you many, many sales. Tweeted.

  3. Replies
    1. Thank you. I wish someone had given me lists of tips they learned when I started writing ;)

  4. Great post. Lovely blog! Thanks, ladies.
    -R.T. Wolfe

  5. I think this is great advice! I've had editors before tell me a character's reaction wasn't logical. Of course it's not! We don't always act logically and we don't think things out when we're emotional. (Maybe I understand this better than most!) ;) That's real life. Have you ever been baffled by someone else's reaction? Ever been baffled by your own? That's real. Thanks for sharing, Andrea!

  6. Great post,and I love your advice. Wonderful to see you here, Andrea.


Thanks for stopping by & chatting with me! I try my best to respond to every post but it does take me a few days! Don't think I'm ignoring you - I promise, "non-fiction" life just gets me bogged down sometimes. :) Thanks again!!! I <3 my followers