I used to cut out photos from magazines and tape them onto a character sheet as a visual reference. In 2009, I joined a site called Second Life (with a friend to promote my ebooks to a new set of potential readers) and I started using the features in SL to build basic characters there. It was in no way perfect, but neither was my old method, since I couldn’t use magazine clips for cover art. But what it did was approximate the basic look, pose, and even attitude of the character, which really helps when it comes time to flesh them out.
I’m no longer able to get into SL as my computer wasn’t able to keep up with the bandwidth needed for the program, nor the hardware requirements to run it. But for nostalgia’s sake, I’ve keep these images I downloaded from my SL account.
The task of creating a story world and populating it with characters is an ongoing process that evolves and gifts a writer with surprises. This is overwhelmingly true when it comes to writing a series.
I hope you enjoy this peek behind the scenes.
Character Builds with Notes
The Shifting Tides Series
• Beneath A Midnight Sea (Book 1)
With more familiarity in creating avatars in SL, I decided to create visuals for some of my old story characters from my backlist of books. Going by the magazine clippings and from the story itself, I built this avatar for Terri Fletcher, the heroine of Beneath A Midnight Sea.
I really love that I was able to find a SIM (simulation land that is virtually owned by a group or person) that included rock jetties, so my backdrop has the same visual feel as what readers see in the book. Before readers complain about the inaccuracy of the tree in the next picture, the SIM isn’t mine, but an SL groups’ “public” area, so I didn’t build the landscape. Had it been mine, I sure wouldn’t have put that tree there! lol
I can imagine Terri’s house being somewhere behind this jetty, not far from that dock. Also I used to have a pair of jeans like those pictured, back when.
Below is a close-up of Terri. Love this hairstyle and color for her, it has a very free, easy-going quality that appealed to me for her character.
• Song Of The Sea (Book 2)
Try though I might to find an exact match for her hair color and style, not to mention her mermaid tail and fins, this was the closest I was able to get. In the story, Vivilyn is a strawberry blond and her hair is a bit shorter. Her mertail and fins aren’t as luminous as depicted here.
Vivilyn in human form.
I love how you can see some of the scars he got during his undercover work as a narc cop. Now a P.I., he takes pictures of cheating spouses and sometimes chases down runaway brides.
• Soul Of The Sea (Book 3)
Fans of the Shifting Tides series probably remember Jill Kohlson as a secondary character from the first Shifting Tides book, Beneath A Midnight Sea. Long after I finished book two, Jill kept pestering me, saying she wasn’t a villain and wanted her own romance. Even Great White Sharks need love too, I guess. I also knew Jill’s past and her need for revenge made her into what she’d become. But it would take more than one man to lead her to love.
Terri Fletcher’s best friend who bailed on her at the grocery store workshop.
Her motto: The ends justify the means. Also, revenge is a dish best served by a Great White Shark. :D
The Botoa Brothers, Garde and Gavin
I couldn’t find the seashells to braid in his hair, but you get the general idea.
I love the board shorts and shark tooth necklace. They fit his easy-going style and personality perfectly.
Yes, he’s a surfer dude, but he’s also got moves like Jagger and uses his smile to devastating effect on the opposite sex.
The younger twin by five minutes. Into stylish clothes and hair product. But has the soul of a romantic poet.
The Naughty South Series
• Naughty Little Secrets (Book 1)
Since most of my covers tend to show the hero and not the heroine, I took the opportunity to use SL to create visuals for my heroines. Pictured here is Stacie Purcell, the heroine of my ebook Naughty Little Secrets.
Since the story is set in late January and early February, I decided to put “Stacy” in a winter setting. I loved the snowflake sweater and would probably buy this if I found it in real life. lol
• Naughty By Nature (Book 2)
Sometimes I’ll create avatars for secondary characters, especially when I’m playing with the idea of expanding the story into a spin-off. Such was the case with NLS. I had already decided to make an avatar version of Stacie’s big sis Pam when I was finishing up final line edits for another book and someone asked me if I’d thought of making NLS into a series. :D
I discovered an emoticon you can wear in SL and was playing around with it that night. If my naughty stories ever get made into a movie, I think Kate Hudson would be a good choice for the lead role. What do ya’ll think? She’d have to work on developing her Southern accent, though. :D
Still trying to find a good match of hair, skin, and body shape to represent Tim Riley, the hero of Naughty By Nature.