Wearing a lovely skull and crossbones pendant over a blue shirt with an over jacket of a tweed and her hair up in her signature style, she has a deep and well elocuted voice and a command of language that was quite evident. After a short talk, she opened the floor up to questions. As much as I wanted to ask her opinion of fanfic, I allowed others to spout their questions and learned a great deal about writing styles, her personal methodology, and looking at a character over a series of books.
The most valuable thing I pulled from the evening was dialogue. We all deal with dialogue, good or bad, in most of the stories that we write, and we all approach it differently and with varying degrees of success. But she said that dialogue needs to be distinctive. That each character speaking has to have their own, unique voice. It should be unique enough that even if the character is not identified, you would still recognize it and hold it different from the other voices in the book. That is not easy to do. She said that if a character speaks in short sentences, they won't suddenly spout long ones. Care to dialogue can make or break a story.
Another thing that she's very focused on is research. For her books, she researches both locational and within a time frame to determine the accuracy of her locations to the best of her ability. After doing a reading of Chapter 1 and the first sentence of Chapter 2 in her book, she settled down to sign for people. Since I do e-pubs, I shook her hand and went to grab dinner with the Chickie. All in all, it was a very successful evening, even if I was extremely exhausted and still coughing too much.
Happy birthday to Linda Hoyland, and a farewell wave to Seth who will probably be leaving within the next 24 hours. Catch you on the next swing through town, I promise!