If you’re just joining us, you’ve dropped in on Part Six of our “Character Driven” Blog Party at The Mustard Seed. Today is a very exciting day—I’ve been celebrating the release of my newest book, My S.E.D. Label, the last few days and the final day that you can download a FREE copy from Amazon is today. To help me celebrate, I’ve invited some awesome author friends to a Character Driven Blog Party. So happy you all could join us today. Be sure to check back to the first post to find out which authors are at this party and what the book giveaways are that are being offered today—you can find their website, blog, facebook and twitter links on the first posting today. Don’t forget to comment to enter to win in these wonderful giveaways!
When you read, what types of characters do you enjoy reading about and why?
J.F. Jenkins: Just anyone who's got an interesting life and adventure. Some of them are like me, some of them aren't. Some are tough, and some aren't.
Patricia, what about you?
Patricia Kiyono: I love to read about strong, capable women. They don't have to be physically tough, but strong in that they have the intelligence and mental stamina to overcome whatever hardships are thrown their way. This is what Robyn Carr does so well. Her characters often deal with extremely tough situations, but they don't give up and their efforts are rewarded in the end.
Think about your favorite character from one of your favorite books (which you did not write) and what would you like to ask the author about that character if you could sit down and have dinner with that author?
Chynna Laird: One of my favorite books ever is Tuck Everlasting. It’s so simple and so beautiful. I would love to talk to the author about how he created his characters and thought of this idea. It inspired my love of YA and wanting to write for young people.
Brea, what about your favorite character?
Brea Essex: I would love to ask David Eddings about Ce'Nedra from his Belgariad and Mallorean series. She's such an interesting character. I'd probably have tons of questions for him.
Now, none of us loves villains, right!?!? So, who is your favorite all-time villain (from a book you did not write) and what would you love to ask the author?
Joselyn Vaughn: My favorite villain? That’s tough. It might be Mr. Collins from Pride and Prejudice, but he isn’t really evil, he just makes me laugh. Lady Catherine is more truly villainous, so she might be my second favorite. She’s so full of herself as if no one would do anything that she didn’t approve of.
Ruth, do you think that reading is helpful to you as an author, why or why not?
Ruth J. Hartman: Yes. I read every night before I go to bed. Not only does it give me a break from the characters I’m writing, it also frees up my mind to contemplate my own possible storylines as I read how another author produces her craft.
Very true. Reading is so vital to an author’s craft. Tara, what do you think?
Tara Manderino: Definitely reading is helpful, as long as it’s just not all fiction. While that is great, reading something outside of my normal reading is what feeds the well. It makes me wonder about what if and how could that be… wonderful stuff. Reading outside of your normal reading habits opens a totally different world. Often, little bits and pieces will pop into my mind while I’m writing and add another layer or dimension to the story.
Anyone else want to respond before we move on?
Lynette Sofras: Reading isn’t just helpful, it’s crucial – and not just for writers, but for everyone (that’s from me with my former English teacher’s hat on!) Reading opens the mind to new ideas and stimulates the creative processes. I could probably live without writing; I sincerely doubt I could live without reading.
Couldn’t agree more! Sherry, have you ever read a book where you related so well with the hero or heroine and why?
Sherry Gloag: Yes. In Nora Roberts book Northern Lights her hero Nate has hit rock bottom and is not sure whether he will ever make it back out of the black hole he’s dropped into. Ms. Roberts doesn’t make him some kind of super hero, and his climb back into ‘the light’ as Nate calls it, is so subtle and believable it is endearing.
Believable is the best at drawing a reader in. Lindsay, do you think readers understand how much reviews truly do help authors? Aside from posting professional reviews of books on your blog, do you also regularly post reviews on Amazon etc. of books you read?
Lindsay Downs: I am sure a lot of readers look to reviews and the number of stars a book gets. As an author/reader it’s more the blurb that interests me. I used to post reviews on my blog but have stopped. Now I only post the too Amazon, Goodreads and B&N.
Lindsay, what’s next on your TBR list? Do you prefer reading eBooks or print or like reading both?
Lindsay Downs: With over 50 books on my Kindle to read and an equal number on my Wish List I’ve got no idea what is next for me to read. I do suspect it might be a regency though.
Sherry, what book are you currently reading and why did you start reading it?
Sherry Gloag: At the moment I am between books. The last book I read was Paula Martin’s lovely book His Leading Lady. I enjoyed it so much it is on my ‘keeper’ e-shelf. And I am looking forward to reading her current book Fragrance of Violets.
Lynette, are you the type of reader who follows a particular author’s work, picks a book because of the cover or book blurb, or goes by a recommendation from a friend?
Lynette Sofras: I will actively seek out work from a writer I’ve previously enjoyed and read all their works as long as they continue to give me the same enjoyment. If you could see my bookshelves, you’ll see entire collections from my favourite authors. I do listen to recommendations from certain friends, but mainly my favourites are my own discoveries.
Tara, what’s next on your TBR list? Do you prefer reading eBooks or print or like reading both?
Tara Manderino: Really couldn’t say what’s next on my TBR pile. Whatever strikes my fancy, I guess. I never anticipated reading When Passions Rule. I love to read but for the most part I do prefer eBooks. I love reading on a device away from the computer, not worrying about bookmarking the page and best of all, when I’m done I don’t have to figure out how to get a fiction book to fit on my bookshelves! That doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy paper now and then, but it takes more effort. Paper is probably safer when I read before bed. I tend to prop my book up against the headboard. After having retrieved a few books from between the mattress and headboard I’m convinced this would be hazardous to an ereader.
Ruth, what book are you currently reading and why did you start reading it?
Ruth J. Hartman: I actually just finished “A Journey to Her Dreams” by Iris Blobel. It’s a wonderful romance/mystery by a fellow author.
Joselyn, as a reader, do you enjoy reading happily ever after books or ones that are true to life?
Joselyn Vaughn: It depends on what I’m in the mood for. When I’m looking for something to ease my mind, I definitely want the happily ever after. I want to enjoy the journey. If I’m in the mood for something I need to think about, then I’d like a story that is more true to life, where maybe the hero and heroine don’t end up together or things end up just a little bit off.
Brea, what about you?
Brea Essex: I like the happily ever after books. I read a book once where things went supremely wrong at the end of the book (it ended with the main character's husband dying, right as things were starting to go well in their lives). I threw the book away and never picked up anything by the author again.
I’m the same way…more of a HEA kind-of girl. My husband’s always joking that I need to read more “real life” books, but they’re not for me. Chynna, do you think readers understand how much reviews truly do help authors? Aside from posting professional reviews of books on your blog, do you also regularly post reviews on Amazon etc. of books you read?
Chynna Laird: No, I don’t think readers truly understand how much their reviews help us. I always try giving a review after finishing a book. I took the time to read an author’s book and when I love it, all I want to do is share those thoughts both with the author and readers.
Patricia, have you ever read a book where you related so well with the hero or heroine and why?
Patricia Kiyono: Meg Landslowe is the main character in Donna Andrews' mystery series. Meg is a blacksmith--I don't know much about blacksmithing, but Meg creates small wrought iron pieces that she sells at craft fairs. She's also overwhelmed by her family always bringing their problems to her, and now she has a set of twins to care for. I guess I identify with her because I (like all women!) often need to juggle family needs against work I need to get done. But I identify with her because even when she's faced with an enormous number of details to take care of, she takes out her "notebook-that-tells-me-when-to-breathe", writes things down, and then sets about solving the problem. I have lists like that all over the house.
J.F. Jenkins, as a reader, do you enjoy reading happily ever after books or ones that are true to life?
J.F. Jenkins: I enjoy reading both kinds. So long as the ending is a fitting one. That's what matters most.
One other question, do you think that reading is helpful to you as an author, why or why not?
J.F. Jenkins: Always. It shows you how to write, how it's done, and you learn a lot about story arch and style.
Patricia, what book are you currently reading and why did you start reading it?
Patricia Kiyono: I have a paperback book on my nightstand (Hidden Summit by Robyn Carr), one on my iPad (In the Spotlight by Liz Botts) and one my phone (Lizzie and the Guernsey Gang by April Gardner). Robyn Carr is one of my favorite authors, so whenever she comes out with a new book I tend to get it. Liz and April are both Astraea Press authors and I'm trying to support my fellow "A-Peeps" by reading and reviewing their books.
Chynna, what’s next on your TBR list? Do you prefer reading eBooks or print or like reading both?
Chynna Laird: Next on my fiction TBR pile is Ghosts of the Titanic. It’s a YA ghosty. I’m an old-fashioned girl who prefers to hold the book in my hands and turn the pages.
Brea, what’s next on your TBR list?
Brea Essex: Battlefield by J.F. Jenkins is next on my list. I love reading both ebooks and print books. Sometimes it's easier to just pick up my ereader. There are a lot of older books I like that aren't in ebooks, though. I do dislike hardcover, though. The dust jackets annoy me and they're hard to hold in my small hands.
I agree with your sentiments. Don’t like the dust jackets for hardcovers. I never thought I’d like reading eBooks, but I’m enjoying reading them on my Kindle. Joselyn do you think readers understand how much reviews truly do help authors? Aside from posting professional reviews of books on your blog, do you also regularly post reviews on Amazon etc. of books you read?
Joselyn Vaughn: I don’t think many readers have any idea how helpful reviews are, not just for recommending your book to other readers, but also for boosting your book within the sales system. I don’t do much reviewing myself. If I really like a book, I’ll post a sentence or two on Amazon or Goodreads, but I rarely have time to do much more than that. I try to keep an up-to-date list of what I’m reading on my blog.
Ruth, when you read, what types of characters do you enjoy reading about and why?
Ruth J. Hartman: I love men who are sensitive and funny. And women who are strong, but still have a deep need for a hero to come rescue them sometimes.
Sherry, are you the type of reader who follows a particular author’s work, picks a book because of the cover or book blurb, or goes by a recommendation from a friend?
Sherry Gloag: All of the above. I follow favourite authors, and am always on the look-out for new writers, so will look at both the cover and the blurb + the first and last pages! Recommendations from friends will always be considered, but if I know their reading preference is not mine, I may not follow up on their suggestions.
Lindsay, as a reader, do you enjoy reading happily ever after books or ones that are true to life?
Lindsay Downs: HEA and HFN ending are always important for me.
Lynette, what’s next on your TBR list? Do you prefer reading eBooks or print or like reading both?
Lynette Sofras: I have quite a formidable pile of both e-books and paperbacks awaiting my attention. Top of the list are a couple of novels I’ve agreed to review. I find I get through far more books since owning a Kindle and I have to say that for convenience and ease, that is my preferred format these days.
I agree with reading more quickly on the Kindle. I think it’s great for reading through review copies of books rather than reading them on my laptop. Tara, do you think readers understand how much reviews truly do help authors? Aside from posting professional reviews of books on your blog, do you also regularly post reviews on Amazon etc. of books you read?
Tara Manderino: I don’t think readers really understand the value of reviews. I have people who email me or catch me on facebook telling me how much they enjoyed one book or another. I wish they would leave a review, NOT that I’m complaining about the other compliments. J I try to leave reviews for books I have read and truly enjoyed. I’m a bit behind though. I have notes that I have two reviews I want to post.
Sad to say our time is up for our author conversation and it’s been a blast! A special thank you to all of the authors participating today—and to all of you who stopped by to join the chat and comment, I know we all appreciate your time and discussions.
Don’t forget to comment, if you haven’t already done so, if you’d like to enter to win in one of the book giveaways. Before you leave the Blog Party today, be sure to stop by the first blog post if you’d like more information on the participating authors and where to connect with them online. Thanks and hope you can hang around for a bit longer to chat with us. All winners will be announced online tomorrow.
I hope you’ve been enjoying this “Character Driven” Blog Party here at The Mustard Seed as much as we all have enjoyed chatting and sharing with you. Right now, we’re going to writers’ fantasies and I hope you stay to chat with the authors. Don’t forget to comment to enter to win some great books in the book giveaways.
Let’s say we all believe in magic and you had the chance to actually speak to one of your characters you created—whom would you select, why and what would you say?
Lindsay Downs: Dakota above all the characters. To me he is the most real.
Sherry, whom would you select and why?
Sherry Gloag: I would ask the heroine, Melanie Babcott, in the first book of the Gasquet Princes series, From Now Until Forever, whether she really believed her marriage to Liam could work, let alone last?
Anyone else want to share?
Lynette Sofras: I’d ask Nicholas (The Apple Tree) to tell me exactly what was going on in his head the day he sent Juliet away and what his first thoughts were when he discovered she’d gone and he had no means of contacting her. I think I know the answers, but I’d just like to be certain that he suffered as much as he deserved for the pain he caused her!
Good reason for wanting to talk to him. Tara, if you could sit down with your favorite character from your favorite book (one you did not write), what would you ask this character?
Tara Manderino: Joanna Lindsey’s Malory family series is one of my favorites, and Tony my fav hero (when it’s not James). I would want to know why James is either always so angry, or feels that he has to come across that way to intimidate everyone.
Ruth, have any family members, friends or others ever told you that you’re crazy for feeling connected to the characters you’ve created—and/or feeling like these characters speak to you? What do you tell these people?
Ruth J. Hartman: I think sometimes my family thinks I’m nuts for writing some of my books. Especially the romantic comedies. Their senses of humor are different from mine. But that’s okay. I know I belong to them. At least I don’t think I’m adopted…
Joselyn, if you could sit down with one of the villains in your novel, which everyone loves to hate—what would you ask him or her?
Joselyn Vaughn: I’d ask him how he planned to pull off the fraud because I can’t figure out how to do it without getting caught right away by the IRS.
Brea, do any of your characters ever get you mad and you don’t particularly like the direction they’re telling you their story should be written in?
Brea Essex: I had the opposite happen. Logan fought me all the way through writing Overshadow, my sequel to Foreshadow. He did not like what I was doing to him.
Can anyone share some snippets—without spoiling your surprises—of any new characters you’re dreaming up or are currently working on in your WIP?
Chynna Laird: I have several WIPs in the works right now but my favorite so far is a Contemporary YA I’ve tentatively titled, Just Shut Up and Drive. It’s about an 18-year old guy and his grandfather traveling across Canada to learn about life. I adore these characters. They are so much alike but can’t see it and are constantly bantering back and forth. I’m putting them into a really crazy situation so they start learning to see the world through each other’s eyes. I think it’ll be fun.
Sounds like a fun book! Anyone else want to share?
Patricia Kiyono: I love to sew, and the ladies in my sewing groups are wonderful. So I'm working on a series of stories about four or five women who belong to a quilting group and support each other through good times and bad.
A great way to get inspiration for your story.
Patricia, if you could sit down with your favorite character from your favorite book (one you did not write), what would you ask this character?
Patricia Kiyono: I would love to ask Stephanie Plum when she's going to grow up and settle down with Joe Morelli. Ranger's nice to fantasize about, but he has too many secrets and lives way too dangerously. Joe is a great catch.
Chynna, if you could sit down with one of the villains in your novel, which everyone loves to hate—what would you ask him or her?
Chynna Laird: I’d ask him (Marcus from Out Of Sync) what happens in his mind when he kills another human being. Does he zone out? Is he right there in the moment? Is he sad watching life drain away from a person and knowing he took that away?
Tough questions to ask…I think I’d be afraid of the answers. Brea, have any family members, friends or others ever told you that you’re crazy for feeling connected to the characters you’ve created—and/or feeling like these characters speak to you? What do you tell these people?
Brea Essex: They've never flat-out told me I was crazy, but I have gotten odd looks from them. I was in Capitola with my dad one day (where my series takes place). We were walking out on the pier, and I was walking really slowly. My dad asked what I was doing, and I told him that I was “trying to get in Raena's head.” He just stared at me, and then told me to hurry up.
I know the feeling! Joselyn, is there a secret fantasy one of your characters has which was not completely fleshed out in your novel, which you’d like to elaborate about?
Joselyn Vaughn: Minnie would like to travel. I’m not sure if she did much, but I would like to see her and Gordon do some world exploring together.
If you write contemporary novels, have you ever thought about writing fantasy? If you write historical, have you ever thought about solely writing contemporary—have you thought about switching from whatever genre you write in, but not sure you’d be able to make the switch?
Ruth J. Hartman: I’ve written several contemporary romances, one fantasy, one memoir, and one children’s book. Right now, I’m trying my hand at my first regency. It’s a whole different outlook, that’s for sure.
How fantastic! It’s so great to branch out and try something new. I love that you’re doing that! Tara, if you could sit down with one of the villains in your novel, which everyone loves to hate—what would you ask him or her?
Tara Manderino: I would love to sit down with Barbara from Bound by Blood. I can’t say exactly what I would ask since that would give away too much, but a general question would pretty much be: What were you thinking?
Lynette, what would you ask your favorite character from your favorite book?
Lynette Sofras: I would have to ask Elizabeth Bennet (Pride and Prejudice) whether there was the tiniest element of truth in her answer to Jane’s question about how long she had loved Mr Darcy. Elizabeth jokingly replied: “It has been coming on so gradually, that I hardly know when it began. But I believe I must date it from my first seeing his beautiful grounds at Pemberley.” Is this a case of ‘many a true word spoken in jest?’
I’m another Jane Austen fan. Good question for Elizabeth. Any other fans of Austen’s characters?
Sherry Gloag: Elizabeth Bennet is certainly the most enduring character I have read about and I’ve always wanted to know why she did not look up at Darcy when he affirmed his love was as ardent at the end of the book as it was earlier.
Lindsay, if you could sit down with one of the villains in your novel, which everyone loves to hate—what would you ask him or her?
Lindsay Downs: The character would be the ‘brown-haired man’ from several of my books. The question I’d want to ask him-“Why do you want to kill Emily? What has she ever done to you except try to bring you to justice.
Sherry, if you could sit down with one of the villains in your novel, which everyone loves to hate—what would you ask him or her?
Sherry Gloag: Denny Cadmore (Here is an example when the name portrays the character’s intent) never appears in the story Duty Calls, but his behavior towards his wife influences everything that happened to her before, during and after Duty Calls starts and finishes. I would ask him, if Rafe had not escaped, Cadmore, would he really have killed him?
Anyone else like to respond to this question Sherry just answered:
Lynette Sofras: Everyone hates my villain, Amber Rayne, in Wishful Thinking, who uses her abusive childhood as an excuse for her appalling behaviour. There are quite a few questions I’d like to ask this character, but if I wrote them here, they would sadly act as spoilers. If you read Wishful Thinking, I’m sure you will easily guess my questions.
Tara, have any family members, friends or others ever told you that you’re crazy for feeling connected to the characters you’ve created.
Tara Manderino: My husband used to frequently remind me the people I dealt with in my novels were not real and wouldn’t answer me. I never completely understood because they often talked to me. Which again leads me to Meg Chittenden’s quote: “Many people hear voices when no one is there. Some of them are called mad and are shut up in rooms where they stare at the walls all day. Others are called writers and they do pretty much the same thing.”
Very appropriate quote! Joselyn, do any of your characters ever get you mad and you don’t particularly like the direction they’re telling you their story should be written in?
Joselyn Vaughn: I get nervous when the story seems to be going in a direction that I don’t think I can handle, if the plot becomes too complicated or mysterious or heavy. I have to step back and get it sorted out before I can continue. Or figure out a way to make it simpler.
I’ve actually had similar feelings before in my writing. Brea, if you could sit down with your favorite character from your favorite book (one you did not write), what would you ask this character?
Brea Essex: It would definitely be Keely from Daughter of the Lion by Jennifer Roberson. I'd probably ask her to train me how to sword fight.
Chynna, do any of your characters ever get you mad and you don’t particularly like the direction they’re telling you their story should be written in?
Chynna Laird: Oh, yes. It happens all the time. LOL! We go at it back and forth and I actually have to leave them for a day or two. Then I come back and we work out a mutual agreement on how things should go and the story continues. It sounds weird but that’s how I roll.
I love it! Patricia, if you write contemporary novels, have you ever thought about writing fantasy? If you write historical, have you ever thought about solely writing contemporary—have you thought about switching from whatever genre you write in, but not sure you’d be able to make the switch?
Patricia Kiyono: I started writing a historical romance, but it's been bogged down by details I need to research and verify. I wasn't sure about writing contemporary romance because I'm not sure I'm "in tune" with people the age of my daughters. But having them read and critique my stories certainly helps! I haven't considered writing fantasy--my imagination doesn't quite stretch that far.
We are going to take one last break before regrouping for the final chat.
Now’s your chance to chat with the authors!
I hope you’ve been enjoying this “Character Driven” Blog Party here at The Mustard Seed as much as we all have enjoyed chatting and sharing with you. Right now, we’re going to delve into the deeper side of this conversation and I hope you stay to chat with the authors. Don’t forget to comment to enter to win some great books in the book giveaways.
Lindsay, what was the most difficult scene you had to write for one of your characters—it was gut-wrenching for both you and your character(s) and why?
Lindsay Downs: In A Body in the Attic there is one scene where Emily and one of the other technicians are slowly making their way through a dark passage. I had to make sure there was the right amount of tension going so the reader would be scared for them.
Sherry, was there a most difficult scene you had to write for one of your characters?
Sherry Gloag: In The Brat there are two scenes which make me cry. One when Trudi’s soul mate and best friend, Bella, passes away; and the second when Bella’s daughter discovers the relationship between her best friend, eleven year old Rachel, and the hero, Rafe, and is afraid of the consequences.
Lynette, as your characters tell you their stories, do you find yourself rooting for them to find that happy ending or are you an omniscient neutral party?
Lynette Sofras: Absolutely! I can’t be neutral when it comes to my characters and the ones who’ve been good friends to me and played nicely deserve to be rewarded! That’s why I felt guilty when some readers said I’d not been kind enough to Adam (a secondary character in Wishful Thinking) and that he should have his own story and happy ending.
Tara, what was the most difficult scene you had to write for one of your characters—it was gut-wrenching for both you and your character(s) and why?
Tara Manderino: One of the most difficult scenes was when Tyler performs in Taking Chances. By now, everyone (the readers and the characters) knows the reason he is reluctant. He has a horrid time facing the audience and loses his voice over it. Abie is feeling remorseful for having put him in the situation and by this point there is no way out but through.
Ruth, have you created a character that had a tragic past which adversely affected his or her future? How did it affect you writing that scene(s)/book?
Ruth J. Hartman: In “Better Than Catnip” the hero’s son, Derek, had an abusive past with his mother. It influenced his whole view of cats and the world around him.
Joselyn, was there a most difficult scene you had to write for one of your characters?
Joselyn Vaughn: It was a scene where Minnie remembers something absolutely awful from her past. I kept putting off writing it because I didn’t want to think about the details and I didn’t want to relive it with her. I had a hard time editing it and revising it yet. I don’t like to revisit the sad parts of books or movies. If I watch Moulin Rouge, I stop it before Satine collapses. I don’t watch Return to Me because the dog watching the door is too sad.
I can relate to how difficult it is to write such emotionally draining scenes for our characters. Brea, if you could tell your readers a one sentence answer why you write books, what would you say to them?
Brea Essex: I got tired of all the pushover girls who couldn't do anything for themselves, and all the sex in YA, so I decided to write something without either of those things.
An admirable reason for writing. When I had to kill off a secondary character in one of my new releases, it affected me and I admit, I was upset—true, she was only a character in one of my books…and a secondary one at that…, but I get truly attached to my characters. I’d love to know who else shares such attachments to their characters.
Chynna Laird: I had the same thing happen in Out Of Sync when I killed off one of my main character’s wife. It was part of the whole story but it was so sad. I get very attached to them all too. It takes so much work bringing them to life that it’s so hard to let them go, especially when they have to die. (That doesn’t sound good but you know what I mean. LOL!)
I totally get your point! Patricia, have you created a character that had a tragic past which adversely affected his or her future? How did it affect you writing that scene(s)/book?
Jake (The Christmas Phoenix) was wounded in Iraq. What happened after that caused him to withdraw from society, determined to do everything on his own. It nearly destroyed his relationship with Jess. I had a difficult time writing the scene in which he finally related the story, because I haven't experienced that kind of pain myself. But I remember my dad telling me about his wartime experiences in Korea, and his feelings watching the people around him die. It made me especially proud of him for putting his life back together once he was physically healed, and giving me empathy for our veterans returning from war.
Thank you for sharing. I can see how that would be difficult to write that scene. Have you ever gotten offended when a reviewer or reader criticized one of your characters? Of course, we don’t want to hear all the horrid details; just the generalities would be fine. ;)
J.F. Jenkins: For the most part, the characters I don't like are the ones the reviewers don't like too. That might be why they dont' like them. I have a hard time with a number of my female characters. Mostly because they do things I would never do and are generally more stupid, lol. They lack a certain kind of common sense, but it's just how they are. So I don't get offended much when reviewers don't like those characters. I've yet to hear anything bad about one of my “babies” though.
Have any of your editors ever advised you through the editing process that you hadn’t fully fleshed out a character and this character needed more work? Do you handle such constructive criticism well?
J.F. Jenkins: I once had an editor tell me I had to completely rewrite my male lead because he was “annoying” and too passive for her preferences. Some of her stuff I ignored, but I ended up fixing him all the same. It was not an easy thing to do though.
I love the finished product after editing, but it’s never easy taking apart your treasured manuscript only to put it back to together, hopefully in better shape. ;) Anyone else want to share?
Chynna Laird: Yes. I’ve had to dig deeper with emotions. You can’t get upset with the constructive criticism because the editor truly (usually anyway) has the same end goal: to make your story the best it can be. You can take everything with a grain of salt, taking what you need then letting the rest go. I haven’t accepted all the suggestions I’ve been given but I’ve been fortunate to have had editors who work with me…bouncing ideas back and forth…until it all melds together.
Patricia, what was the most difficult situation any of your characters were ever put through as you wrote the storyline?
Patricia Kiyono: This would be difficult for me to explain without including a spoiler! Let's just say Leigh (The Legacy) deals with a very difficult situation involving her stepfather.
Brea, what was the most difficult scene you had to write for one of your characters—it was gut-wrenching for both you and your character(s) and why?
Brea Essex: A scene near the end of Overshadow, which is releasing soon. I won't spoil it, but I'll just say I was sobbing along with my character as I was typing.
Anyone else want to share in regard to my previous statement about dealing with “killing off” a secondary character?
Joselyn Vaughn: I had to talk about a character dying and that was hard enough. I’m not ready to tackle the death of a character on the actual page.
Ruth, what was the most difficult situation any of your characters were ever put through as you wrote the storyline?
Ruth J. Hartman: When Derek is attacked by a cat, I could feel his terror, hear his screams.
Definitely a difficult situation for your character. Anyone else want to share?
Tara Manderino: On an emotional level, Luke ( Heart Quest) went through some pretty nasty stuff. Just how bad it was came to fruition when he had to watch Maj, the heroine, and Rain Dancing, a friend of his, getting along so well. When he sees them together at the rail road station, he is convinced Maj has made her decision, and it doesn’t include him.
Sherry, is it worth it to go through writing the emotionally tough scenes to create truly well-rounded, dramatic, unforgettable characters?
Sherry Gloag: A story without emotion is unlikely to captivate a reader, so going through the emotional wringer with every book is well worth it.
I couldn’t agree more. Lindsay, what do you think about this?
Lindsay Downs: I think it is. Without the tough scenes that character(s) don’t become real to the reader, just names in a story.
Lindsay, what were the deepest emotional scars/issues any of your characters had to deal with?
Lindsay Downs: Emily Dahill and her fear of helicopters. You can read about her dread of them in Emily Dahill, CID Part1.
Sherry, what about for your characters?
Sherry Gloag: Although her background is implied, Gina, the heroine in The Brat was sold into child prostitution by her mother.
Tara, have you ever gotten offended when a reviewer or reader criticized one of your characters?
Tara Manderino: Yes. It really only happened once, but I wondered if they had really read the book. Couldn’t they see that Abie (Taking Chances) had changed drastically from the beginning of the book to the end? From thinking church was an acceptable place to tracking Tyler down to fully understanding what he hoped to accomplish and being a partner in that?
Ruth, how have your dealt with editing advise from your editors regarding more fully fleshing out a character?
Ruth J. Hartman: I handle it better than I used to, because now I can see it from a more unemotional point of view. But criticism is never easy, and no one likes it.
Agreed. Joselyn, what has your experience been?
Joselyn Vaughn: I had to revise a scene in Courting Sparks. I initially had the ex-boyfriend quite drunk and that didn’t fit with the publisher’s guidelines, so they asked me to revise it. In the revision I changed it so the heroine couldn’t tell whether he was drunk or faking it. It ended up showing his manipulative qualities to greater advantage. I’m pretty good about criticism, constructive or otherwise, so I’ve usually been okay with suggestion or changes from an editor where I can see a benefit to them. When they are suggesting changes solely for making changes, then I have a harder time.
Very true. If I’m agreeing to a change, I want it to be for the improvement of my book. Brea, have you created a character that had a tragic past which adversely affected his or her future?
Brea Essex: In the beginning of Foreshadow, Rae's mother dies. She's uprooted from her home. That affects her whole story.
Chynna, what were the deepest emotional scars/issues any of your characters had to deal with?
Chynna Laird: All of my characters have emotional scars/issues. LOL! I’d have to say that Payton has had the most, so far. He was raised by a mother with untreated bipolar and used alcohol and drugs to cope with it. He spent his childhood taking care of her and cleaning up her messes then one day, she died in her sleep. He never got over his childhood and never had a way to purge the negative emotions he’d built up. It was tough breaking through to him. It took a very special group of people to break down his walls. And he always had his grandparents and his music.
Patricia, is it worth it to go through writing the emotionally tough scenes to create truly well-rounded, dramatic, unforgettable characters?
Patricia Kiyono: I think it's necessary to show why our characters behave the way they do. Their belief systems often stems from painful events in their pasts, and showing them helps readers to be able to empathize with them. So yes, it's definitely worth it.
Anyone else want to share an answer to this question that Patricia just answered?
J.F. Jenkins: Only if the story calls for it. Characters can be just as interesting without them too. Don't force a lot of drama on your character if you don't have to. Some people don't live dramatic lives. That doesn't make them uninteresting in personality you know?
I agree with your sentiments. Once again, I thank everyone for chatting and we’ll be taking another break.
Don’t forget to comment on this blog post for a chance to win in the book giveaways.
If you’re just joining us, you’ve dropped in on Part Three of our “Character Driven” Blog Party at The Mustard Seed. Today is a very exciting day—I’ve been celebrating the release of my newest book, My S.E.D. Label, the last few days and the final day that you can download a FREE copy from Amazon is today. To help me celebrate, I’ve invited some awesome author friends to a Character Driven Blog Party. So happy you all could join us today. Be sure to check back to the first post to find out which authors are at this party and what the book giveaways are that are being offered today—you can find their website, blog, facebook and twitter links on the first posting today. Don’t forget to comment to enter to win in these wonderful giveaways!
If you like brainstorming sessions, then you’ll be happy to join in on our session here at The Mustard Seed today.
J.F. Jenkins, when you write, do you picture an actor/actress in mind when creating a new character or dream up the physical descriptions or model them after people you know?
J.F. Jenkins: I try hard to write characters based on my own personal images and not off of something I've already seen. I feel this makes them more real. When I'm done writing I'll look for models to show off and oogle. The more organic they are, the more alive they are in the book and better described.
Patricia, do you picture an actor/actress in mind when creating a new character or dream up the physical descriptions or model them after people you know?
Patricia Kiyono: Sometimes. While writing Aegean Intrigue, John Stamos was my vision of Alex. Andy (The Legacy) is modeled after a younger version of one of my brothers.
Chynna, what’s your method regarding this question?
Chynna Laird: Usually their faces and characteristics come to me then I name them based on those traits. I have modeled a couple of my characters after people I know. When I do that, though, I make sure to make the character his or her own, separate from the person I know. Otherwise I start writing about the person and I don’t want people I know in my stories. LOL!
Brea, do you listen to a muse or what’s your inspiration to really digging deep inside and figuring out what’s going on in your characters’ heads?
Brea Essex: I call my muse “Lorelei”. It means “alluring enchantress”. I think it's fitting because sometimes the story really can enchant me and draw me in, but sometimes it can also be fickle.
I like that! Joselyn, what about you? Do you listen to a muse or what’s your inspiration to really digging deep inside and figuring out what’s going on in your characters’ heads?
Joselyn Vaughn: My critique group is great for this. We can bat around an idea and see how it works. Sometimes I have to listen to a song to figure out how the character will express his or her thoughts and feelings.
Ruth, when you write, do you picture an actor/actress in mind when creating a new character?
Ruth J. Hartman: Since Sandra Bullock is my favorite actress, I can easily imagine her in the role of my romantic comedies.
She’s one of my favorite actresses too. Tara, what advice would you give to a new or aspiring author on how to write very character driven novels, with characters that make long-lasting impressions on readers?
Tara Manderino: Make your characters as real as you possibly can. It’s a fantastic feeling when they take over and tell you what to write and say and what their motivation is. Simon and Luke from On President’s Orders series were always very real to me. But when I was writing the third book in the series, which used Simon as the hero, Luke was getting downright impatient. I wanted to shake him. If I took a short breather, he was in my face, his boots stomping on my brain, telling me to hurry it up. He wanted his story told and he wanted it done now.
Lynette, tell us about your characters and how you develop their physical appearances.
Lynette Sofras: My main characters are usually fairly nebulous in my mind in terms of their physical appearance. Their quirks, flaws and idiosyncrasies are more important to me, especially in the early stages while they are still developing. For example, Juliet (The Apple Tree) hates mobile phones and refuses to carry one; Lyssa (In Loving Hate) has a rather tremulous voice, which has always irritated her mother – a stage actress – and she is conscious this makes her sound weak and tries to control it. Nicholas (The Apple Tree) is as attractive as readers want to make him in their own heads, but he must have beautiful hands with long, sensitive fingers which seem to mesmerise Juliet. However, Dame Constance (In Loving Hate) is definitely modelled on one of our most loved screen actresses - but I won’t say who – while a certain TV antiques dealer lent inspiration for Greg, in my WIP!
Sherry, do you have any advice you’d like to give to a new or aspiring author on how to write very character driven novels, with characters that make long-lasting impressions on readers?
Sherry Gloag: The idiom is to ‘write about what you know’ but if we tweak that a little and say ‘write about what you feel,’ by that I mean, take a good long hard look at your favourite books, dissect them, analyze them, ask yourself how, and why certain characters appeal to you and others don’t. If you are a plotter, you will already know what kind of story/book you want to write, but will your favourite type of characters fit into those books? You can go down the route of reading all the best sellers and trying to emulate those characters, but it has far less chance of working if you don’t believe, heart and soul, in your characters. If you don’t put emotion into your characters your readers won’t feel anything when they read your book. Whether it be sorrow or joy, hate or love, whatever your genre, pack it with emotion, hot or cold.
Great advice…thanks so much for sharing. Lindsay, do you listen to a muse or what’s your inspiration to really digging deep inside and figuring out what’s going on in your characters’ heads?
Lindsay Downs: Interestingly Dakota is my muse. I have a small figurine of him that I have near me when I write.
Lindsay, do you have any advice for aspiring authors on how to write very character driven novels, with characters that make long-lasting impressions on readers?
Lindsay Downs: Fall in love with your character. Write him/her until you know that individual inside and out.
Sherry, as your characters tell you their stories, do you find yourself rooting for them to find that happy ending or are you an omniscient neutral party?
Sherry Gloag: Oh they make me cry with joy, sadness, rage, and futility. By the time I finish a book I need at least a week to recoup from the emotional maelstrom my characters put me through.
Couldn’t agree more…but it’s so rewarding, finally giving voice to your characters—so that others can know their stories too. Lynette, how important are the names of your characters? Do you put a great deal of thought into names? What’s your thought process in that aspect of character creation?
Lynette Sofras: I think names are very important. The problem is they have different connotations for different people, and they need to work for you. They need to work for your readers as well. Just recently I read an excellent novel in which the heroine’s name was the same as the rather grumpy octogenarian in my WIP and I really had difficulty fixing a positive image of the fun-loving younger heroine in my mind! I worry about names a lot; I choose them carefully but always think I might have done better.
Tara, what techniques do you utilize (i.e., charts, graphs, other types of outlines etc.) for keeping things straight—in your mind—when you’re writing a new novel and are starting over with a new cast of characters?
Tara Manderino: Starting a new novel means a ton of notes for me. I would love to be organized in the beginning, but I’m not. I end up with pages of one and two line notes. Then I move on to doing an outline. I use the paradigm from the Plot Doctor mostly because it’s simple and keeps things barebones, but enough for me to remember what should happen where. At least most of the time. The truth is when I start writing, I put all the notes away until the end and then for fun compare the draft and the notes.
Ruth, how important are the names of your characters? Do you put a great deal of thought into names? What’s your thought process in that aspect of character creation?
Ruth J. Hartman: I think the name says a lot. Grace, in “Flossophy of Grace” was not graceful. Kitty, in “Purrfect Voyage” loved her cat more than anything. Trixie, in “Pillow Talk” always had tricks up her sleeve, being a tooth fairy.
Joselyn, are names of your characters important? Do you put a great deal of thought into names? What’s your thought process in that aspect of character creation?
Ruth J. Hartman: I think a name says a lot about a person. I usually choose simple, strong, old names. Mark, Noah, Ryan, Gordon. Names that are familiar. I had one character who said her name was supposed to be one thing, but I really didn’t want to use that because it was too similar to a friend’s, so I chose something else and I was never happy with it.
Brea, as your characters tell you their stories, do you find yourself rooting for them to find that happy ending or are you an omniscient neutral party?
Brea Essex: I always root for them...although, I mess with them a lot along the way.
Chynna, do you have any eccentric rituals when it comes to creating new characters?
Chynna Laird: The only eccentric thing I do is make sure my main characters have really cool and different names. I want them to be unforgettable from the getgo.
Patricia, do you listen to a muse or what’s your inspiration to really digging deep inside and figuring out what’s going on in your characters’ heads?
Patricia Kiyono: I usually have to interview them, informally. I have to ask them to tell me what their problem is, and why. Then I ask how they will solve the conflict, and how the other characters will fit into this. Since I write romance, I ask what attracts them to each other. If I keep asking, eventually they tell me enough so I can write their stories!
J.F. Jenkins, what advice would you give to a new or aspiring author on how to write very character driven novels, with characters that make long-lasting impressions on readers?
J.F. Jenkins: Characters are multi-layered. They have flaws. Don't show everything at once, but don't keep people in the dark either. It's the whole onion theory from Shrek.
Another question, as your characters tell you their stories, do you find yourself rooting for them to find that happy ending or are you an omniscient neutral party?
J.F. Jenkins: I have a hard time giving bad endings to my favorite characters. In an upcoming book I'm going to have to kill one of them off and I'm not looking forward to it. :/ I'm trying to find a way around it, but I don't think it'll happen.
I agree. It’s hard to send bad things in the path of your favorite characters. Patricia, what techniques do you utilize (i.e., charts, graphs, other types of outlines etc.) for keeping things straight—in your mind—when you’re writing a new novel and are starting over with a new cast of characters?
Patricia Kiyono: I'm more of an outline person. I like to see the progression of the story and character arcs as I'm working through the manuscript. And lists work better for me than tables.
Chynna, time to share our best-kept secrets—what advice would you give to us fellow authors in what’s worked best in your writing process, for creating memorable characters?
Chynna Laird: Put a tiny piece of you in your main characters. I always do. Those who know me well can always see me in the story somewhere. The other thing is to always make your characters real. It doesn’t matter if they are in ancient times, dragons or immortals they can still be made real and relatable so readers can connect with them in some way.
Brea, do you have any techniques you utilize for keeping things straight—in your mind—when you’re writing a new novel and are starting over with a new cast of characters?
Brea Essex: Notes. Lots and lots of notes. I usually have a rudimentary outline, but mostly I go by my notes.
Joselyn, do you belong to a critique group or have beta readers or trusted truth-telling friends or fellow authors who tell you like it is—when you are preparing your manuscript for your first rounds of edits w/ the editor at your publisher?
Joselyn Vaughn: I have an awesome critique group. We all write different things and I think that is one our strengths. We see different things as we go over the manuscript and it really helps create a fuller story. We aren’t afraid to tell each other when something doesn’t work, but then we brainstorm to figure out a better way.
Ruth, do you have any best-kept secrets—what advice would you give to us fellow authors in what’s worked best in your writing process, for creating memorable characters?
Ruth J. Hartman: I love writing dialogue between the hero and heroine. I love how they react to each other.
Tara, how do you decide on the age for your characters? Is there a method to your madness as you’re casting all of your characters?
Tara Manderino: Age is important too. I like the characters to be old enough to have a sense of themselves and at the right age to be facing the issues they are in their lives. Most of my heroines are in their early to mid-twenties and are confident women. The heroes tend to be around thirty; again ages where they are confident and have an idea of what they want from life. They’re not dilly-dallying over minute things (although they still have their share – don’t we all?).
Lynette, how do you keep your cast of characters straight?
Lynette Sofras: This is a problem for me because of my lack of organisation. I have a notebook on my computer desk with most of the relevant information in rough charts or bullet points but it’s never enough and I just find myself scrolling back to look for minor characters’ surnames, names of streets or buildings etc. The ‘Find’ tool in Microsoft Word has become one of my best friends in recent years!
Me too…I’ve used the ‘Find’ tool too many times to count. Love it! Sherry, do you have any advice to give to fellow authors in what’s worked best in your writing process—for creating memorable characters?
Sherry Gloag: For a ‘pantser’ like me, it is essential I don’t write myself into a corner by insisting my characters do something against their will and instinct. When I try to direct events I usually end up a cul-de-sac with barriers placed up that make it difficult to get myself, and them, out of it. Such a waste of time, too.
Thank you Sherry and all of you wonderful authors for chatting with me today. This ends the third part of our party and we’ll be taking another short break. Don’t forget to stay around to chat with the authors.
If you’re just joining us, we’re having a “Character Driven” Blog Party at The Mustard Seed. So happy you all could join us today. Be sure to check back to the first post to find out which authors are at this party and what the book giveaways are that are being offered today.
Let’s start this conversation off with Lindsay Downs. We’re going to be chatting about some of our favorite characters we’ve created. If you had to select your most favorite character, who would you pick and why?
Lindsay Downs: Hands down my favorite is Dakota. Through him I get to give my readers a different perspective in the story. I put the reader into his mind so they can see what he sees, do what he does.
Sherry, who is your favorite character?
Sherry Gloag: Every main character in my books is my favourite when I am writing the book, but to try and answer your question, Gina Williamson, my heroine in The Brat, is probably my choice. She is complex, strong, self-willed, compassionate, a victim of betrayal and abandonment, and yet she rises above these setbacks and when faced with the hero, Ben Kouvaris’s entry into her life she takes him on and they both find life is full of surprises.
Lynette, what about you?
Lynette Sofras: I have to admit, I fell a little bit in love with Nicholas (The Apple Tree). Apart from being utterly gorgeous and sexy, he’s very strong-willed and quite stern. He has high expectations but is also capable of giving a great deal in return. Like many men, he’s quite stubborn in his beliefs and thinks he is in complete control of his emotions. What he had to learn in the course of the story was that his heart was not going to be ruled by his head – and that was a punishingly hard lesson for him.
You’ve got me hooked! I’m going to put The Apple Tree on my TBR. Tara, is it difficult for you to let go of a favorite character(s) once you’ve completed your novel or novels in a series and move on to another new hero and heroine?
Tara Manderino: Oh, yeah! I simply could not get Simon out of my head. I wrote the drafts to five novels with him before I made myself stop. The first two books of the President’s Orders series are out, False Notes and Heart Quest. The third is in edits. Simon is just a compelling character to me; he so much wants to do right all of the time, but he is much too impatient for most things and needs a reality check from his partner or his fiancée. He was even impatient when I was writing, demanding I hurry up and get to the next book.
Ruth, do you have any favorite feline, canine or other furry characters you’ve created, which you absolutely love?
Ruth J. Hartman: My favorite would be Arthur from “Purrfect Voyage” There are people in the book, but he’s definitely a main, character, too. He’s cute and funny and wily. Just how cats are meant to be.
I’m a cat lover and I’m sure I’ll love Purrfect Voyage…another book to add to my TBR list. Joselyn, is it difficult for you to let go of a favorite character(s) once you’ve completed your novel or novels in a series and move on to another new hero and heroine?
Joselyn Vaughn: Most of the time, no. I’ve spent enough time with them that I’m ready to move on. Minnie and some of her friends like to hand around, but since they’ve been secondary characters, I haven’t been in their heads as much.
Brea, what about you? Is it difficult to let go of your character?
Brea Essex: Oh definitely! Although I haven't finished the Shadow Imperium series yet, I'm working on other projects. It can be strange writing different characters.
Chynna, if you had to select your most favorite character, who would you pick and why?
Chynna Laird: Hands down, Payton from Blackbird Flies. I created this teenaged boy and put him into a similar situation I went through as a kid. His world was a lot different than mine was but there were very strong similarities. I wanted to see how it would feel to have him be there and do…better. He’s an amazing kid. ;)
Patricia, who’s your favorite character and why?
Patricia Kiyono: I guess I can identify most with Jess (The Christmas Phoenix), because she's a bit older, she's a mother, and she lives not too far from me. But my favorite male would be Alex (Aegean Intrigue) because he's like the hero of my dreams (hope the hubby doesn't see this!)
Too funny! I’m always teasing my husband about how more romantic my male characters are than he is! All in fun. ;) J.F. Jenkins, do you have a favorite?
J.F. Jenkins: It's a tough call, but probably Orlando. He's hilarious, selfish, and yet has a kindness for others that he tries to ignore because he's complicated. He comes from a strange lifestyle and his background is full of all kinds of secrets that explain why he does the things he does. Plus the things he DOES like are things that seem so random they're startling.
Sounds like a very interesting, must-read, character!
Lindsay, speaking of your favorite character, what are the top five random traits not many people/readers know about him or her?
Lindsay Downs: Dakota likes to sleep on his back at home, in the office he curls up under Emily’s desk, with her foot as a pillow. He’s very protective of those he loves. He hates canned dog food. He prefers riding in the WWII vintage motorcycle over the ’69 Chevy truck. He’s friends with a she-wolf who lives near his home.
Sherry, what about the top five random traits of your favorite character?
Sherry Gloag: Gina constantly battles shyness. She likes chocolate – I mean come on, she loves chocolate! By choice she lives alone but yearns to have someone close enough to share her life with. She has an alter-ego, (which is revealed by the end of the story.) She loves the sea. - That scene was cut from the book.
Talking to another chocolate lover here! Lynette, regarding your most favorite character you’ve ever created, what is the best scene you’ve written for him or her—give us a quick synopsis and why you liked writing that scene?
Lynette Sofras: This may be surprising for a romance writer, but I really enjoyed creating the evil Amber in Wishful Thinking. Because she’s so wicked, I also enjoyed making her look slightly ridiculous at times. One example is when she arrives at Adam’s country farmhouse in her Rolls Royce, making a dramatic entrance in her Gucci stilettoes and snow-white fake furs, only to find Adam has taken his guests out to look for otters. Stupidly Amber says: “And what does he want otters for anyway? Surely you’re not planning to cook them, though God knows, that wouldn’t surprise me.”
Tara, do you have any favorite feline, canine or other furry characters you’ve created, which you absolutely love?
Tara Manderino: No. I have a real canine who drives me insane when I’m writing. I have a broad outline of a novel where she is a featured character, although some people tell me her real life beats an imaginary one hands-down.
Before I got married, I had a cat, Mr. Knightley, and he always wanted to sit on my lap whenever I had my laptop out, ready to write…but I loved him anyway. Cats have a mind of their own! Ruth, have you heard from any readers who’ve told you which of your characters in any of your books are their favorites? What did he or she love about that character?
Ruth J. Hartman: I’ve had lots of cat lovers tell me they love Arthur in “Purrfect Voyage” and all the cats in “Better Than Catnip”. They say reading about them brightens their day.
Joselyn, what’s the best scene you’ve written for your favorite character?
Joselyn Vaughn: My favorite scene with Minnie is actually two scenes that are next to each other. I can’t tell you much about the first one because it is one of the big secrets in Hauntings of the Heart. It was really hard to write because of the heartbreak that she revisits. There is a lot of sadness in it, but it leads into a scene that shows Minnie’s craziness and daring. Minnie and her friend Edith with the help of a whole lot of brandy decide to scare Gordon out the bed and breakfast by pretending to be ghosts. Knowing the laughter was coming after the sad scene made it much easier for editing, but I still have a hard time looking at the first scene.
It definitely is hard to write and edit those sad scenes, especially when we’ve become so attached to our characters. Brea, have you heard from any readers who’ve told you which of your characters in any of your books are their favorites? What did he or she love about that character?
Brea Essex: Everyone seems to be in love with Logan. I can't blame them there! I do have a couple of Andrei lovers too. I also had one person tell me that she loves Raena because she's “the anti-Bella”.
Chynna, how difficult is it for you to let go of a favorite character?
Chynna Laird: Yes. I get so close to them for the months I work with them then one the final round of edits are done, I have to let them go so I can help my new characters tell their stories. It’s always a little sad but they never leave me completely.
Well said…I completely agree with those sentiments. Patricia, is it difficult for you?
Patricia Kiyono: I haven't felt compelled to write more about the characters I've created so far. I think their stories have been told. But I'm working on two series—one is about a family, and the other is about a group of women who all belong to a club. So while I don't have trouble letting go of characters, I wouldn't mind having them appear in stories about someone else.
J.F. Jenkins, what about you and your favorite characters?
J.F. Jenkins: Always. I think that's part of why I write series. Because then I can write a number of books involving the characters.
One more question, aside from the hero and heroine falling in love, did either of your main characters have a favorite person (friend, confidant, mentor) in the novel, i.e., one of the secondary characters?
J.F. Jenkins: In the Dragon's Saga, “Legend of the Inero Dragon”, I have a main character who has a deep connection with his step-mother. That was a fun relationship to explore too because she's only a few years older than he is, they're like best friends, and she's kind of his first glimpse of what he thinks an ideal woman should be.
I can see how that relationship must have been interesting to explore.
Patricia, if you’ve written more than one series, do you have a favorite and why—if not, and you love all of the series the same, share your reasoning with us.
Patricia Kiyono: I've written two series of stories, but neither of them is published yet. One is about a Japanese family, beginning with a former samurai soldier and his quest for a new identity once the age of the samurai ended. The other is about a group of women who belong to a quilting guild. Both series are dear to me because their themes are a part of who I am. I'm very proud of my Japanese heritage and love to research anything about the history and culture. And I belong to two sewing groups because I love to create from fabric.
Chynna, regarding your most favorite character you’ve ever created, what is the best scene you’ve written for him or her—give us a quick synopsis and why you liked writing that scene?
Chynna Laird: I think the best scene I wrote for Payton was when he finally let go of his pain and allowed the memory of his mother dying flow out of him. His crush, Lily, had many of the same struggles his mother had, which kept them apart. Her problems hit too close to home for him no matter how much he was attracted to her. But when beautiful Lily overdosed and died in his arms, his feelings for her, as well as the tragedy of losing his mother in the same way, came crashing down on him. It was a very emotional, gripping scene and took me a few days to get just right. I kept breaking down while writing it. But it was an important scene to get out.
Brea, do you have any favorite feline, canine or other furry characters you’ve created, which you absolutely love?
Brea Essex: I definitely love Nuada, Rae's cat in Foreshadow.
Joselyn, if you had to select your most favorite character, who would you pick and why?
Joselyn Vaughn: Minnie Schultz, from Hauntings of the Heart. She is who I want to be when I grow up. She is confident and comfortable with herself. She’s made hard decisions but she has found contentment. She’s not afraid to be herself or to get into someone else’s business so she knows all the good dirt in town.
Ruth, aside from the hero and heroine falling in love, did either of your main characters have a favorite person (friend, confidant, mentor) in the novel, i.e., one of the secondary characters?
Ruth J. Hartman: In “Pillow Talk” Trixie’s best friend Julie was the only person to know her well-guarded secret that she was a tooth fairy.
Tara, have you heard from any readers who’ve told you which of your characters in any of your books are their favorites? What did he or she love about that character?
Tara Manderino: Quite a few readers have told me that Ty from Taking Chances, really resonated with them because he has his own issues and he manages to overcome them, with the help of his faith. I get a lot of comments on Justin from Whisper My Name, my first Regency. Justin is a true hero. I would say their words, not mine, but I think he is too.
Lynette, any furry friend characters you’ve created that you love?
Lynette Sofras: Everyone who knows me knows I’m a bit of a crazy cat person, but I’ve resisted going overboard in the fluff department in most stories. I have a couple of nice dogs in Wishful Thinking, but I don’t really know dogs well enough. In Loving Hate has a sweet little cat, Thistle, but the show stealer is probably Bessie – a tortoiseshell moggy in my WIP. She’s anyone’s for a can of tuna!
Sherry, is it difficult for you to let go of a favorite character(s) once you’ve completed your novel or novels in a series and move on to another new hero and heroine?
Sherry Gloag: I thought it would be, but no, I become totally involved with the characters of the moment. Sometimes I have a yearning to reacquaint myself with former characters so go and read their stories again. It’s like meeting up with special friends after months of separation.
Lindsay, regarding your most favorite character you’ve ever created, what is the best scene you’ve written for him or her—give us a quick synopsis and why you liked writing that scene?
Lindsay Downs: In the current Emily Dahill Series book I’m writing, Terror on the Mountain, I have one scene where Dakota has to sneak up on someone trying to kidnap one of his human friends. I like this one because I get to show the reader how he can think independently and achieve the objective.
Thank you Lindsay and all of you wonderful authors for chatting with me today. This ends the second part of our party and we’ll be taking another short break.
Don’t forget to stay around to chat with the authors.
Today is a very exciting day—I’ve been celebrating the release of my newest book, My S.E.D. Label
, the last few days and the final day that you can download a FREE copy from Amazon
is today. To help me celebrate, I’ve invited some awesome author friends to a "Character Driven" Blog Party. We’ll have book giveaways and you’ll have time to chat with the authors. The party will run all day into early evening with six different posts. So, let’s meet everyone.
lives in Minneapolis Minnesota with her husband, son, and two cats. She graduated from Bethel University in 2006 with a degree in Media Communication with minors in both writing and film. When she is not busy writing, she spends her free time playing games, reading, and spending time with her family. She will be doing a book giveaway! J.F. Jenkins Website J.F. Jenkins Blog: A Dragon's Love Find J.F. Jenkins on Facebook Find J.F. Jenkins on Twitter Patricia Kiyono
taught music, elementary classrooms, and middle school before retiring so she could travel and write. She now teaches part time at a nearby university to fund her travels. Her trips inspire her stories. She lives in southwest Michigan with her husband, near her children and grandchildren. Patricia Kiyono's Website Patricia Kiyono's Blog: Creative Hodgepodge Find Patricia Kiyono on Facebook Find Patricia Kiyono on Twitter Chynna Laird
is a freelance writer and multi award-winning author. Her passion is helping children and families living with Sensory Processing Disorder and other special needs. She’s authored a children’s book, two memoirs, a Young Adult novella, a YA paranormal suspense novel and an adult Suspense/Thriller. She will be doing a book giveaway with the option of signed copies of Not Just Spirited: A Mom’s Sensational Journey With SPD, White Elephants, or Out Of Sync or Blackbird Flies in Kindle. Chynna Laird's Website Chynna Laird's Blog: See the White Elephants Chynna Laird's Blog: The Gift Find Chynna Laird on Facebook Find Chynna Laird on Twitter Brea Essex
was born in Gilroy, California, called the “Garlic Capital of the World”. She graduated college with a degree in Medical Assisting. She lives near San Jose, CA with her husband, their dog and three cats, and enough books to start a library. Brea Essex's Website Brea Essex's Blog Find Brea Essex on Facebook Find Brea Essex on Twitter Joselyn Vaughn
lives in the Great Lakes state with her husband, three rambunctious children and two barking Beagles. When not suffering the woes of potty training three toddler/preschoolers, she enjoys reading, running (sometimes it's fleeing the potty training), reconstructing clothing, thrift store shopping and surfing Pinterest.com. She will be doing a book giveaway: A PDF of Hauntings of the Heart. Joselyn Vaughn's Website Joselyn Vaughn's Blog Find Joselyn Vaughn on Facebook Find Joselyn Vaughn on Twitter Ruth J. Hartman
is a published author and a licensed dental hygienist. She lives in rural Indiana with her husband of 29 years and their two very spoiled cats. Ruth’s sweet, humorous romances revolve around dentistry, cats, or both. She will be doing an eBook giveaway of "Better Than Catnip."
More about her books and writing can be found at Ruth Hartman's Website & Blog Find Ruth Hartman on Facebook
Author Tara Manderino
loves to create stories and situations for the people running around in her head. She first began writing in third grade when she realized she couldn't afford her reading habit. Tara also likes to bake, watch old movies, and do a variety of crafts. She will be doing a book giveaway: Soul Guardian. It can be downloaded from Smashwords
. Be sure to enter the coupon code on checkout, making the ebook free. Promotional price: $0.00 Coupon Code: QR72W Expires: May 28, 2012 Tara Manderino's Website Tara Manderino's Blog: Living with the Muse Find Tara Manderino on Facebook Find Tara Manderino on Twitter
A former English teacher, Lynette Sofras
left teaching two years ago to focus on her writing. Her first award-winning contemporary romance was ‘The Apple Tree’ published last December. ‘Wishful Thinking’, released April 2012 reached No. 1 in the UK Amazon Kindle lists. ‘In Loving Hate’, a romantic suspense, is due in October. She is happy to offer a Kindle edition of either ‘The Apple Tree’ or ‘Wishful Thinking’ as preferred. Lynette Sofras' Blog Find Lynette Sofras on Facebook Find Lynette Sofras on Twitter
Multi published romance author Sherry Gloag
adds a twist to her stories when she takes her readers to the heart of romance. She also enjoys crafting, reading, walking and gardening, and loves to hear from her readers. She will be doing a book giveaway: PDF versions of Valentine Novella The Wrong Target. Sherry Gloag's Website Sherry Gloag's Blog: The Heart of Romance Find Sherry Gloag on Facebook Find Sherry Gloag on Twitter Lindsay Downs:
After much trial and a lot of errors I developed my own, I sincerely hope, unique style or voice. Of course, my style now includes writing parts of my books in a POV which threw my editor for a loop until she realized that a collie was the hero of the stories. Lindsey is doing a book giveaway: either a Kindle or Nook version of A Body in the Attic. Lindsey Downs' Blog: Murders and Mysteries Connect on Facebook
So excited to get this chat going…let’s begin with J.F. Jenkins. If two of your characters (from two different novels) went out for coffee, what would they talk about? Would they become fast friends?
It depends on the two characters. Today I'm going to be focusing on the characters of Denver, Orlando, and Darien. All of which are from different books. Denver and Orlando would get along. I don't think either of them would be friends with Darien though. He's too much of a softie for their tastes, as well as too 'good'. Patricia, what if two of your characters (from two different novels) went out for coffee, what would they talk about? Would they become fast friends?
The characters from my three stories are very different, but if two of them were to have anything in common, it would probably be Leigh (from The Legacy) and Francie (from Aegean Intrigue), because they're closer in age. Jess (from The Christmas Phoenix) is in her late thirties and has a teenage son, but Leigh and Francie are both in their mid-twenties, both college graduates, and both interested in other cultures. I guess they'd talk about traveling, comparing the different places they've been or read about, and of course, they'd talk about the men in their lives!Chynna, what about your characters?Chynna Laird:
I think if Payton from Blackbird Flies
and Freesia from my upcoming YA suspense/paranormal Dark Water
they would have a lot to talk about. They have both gone through a lot at very young ages and passionate about moving forward despite the odds they’ve faced. Plus they both have wicked sense of humor. It would be a lot of fun.Brea, how important is physical appearance of the characters in your books? Do you have a specific reason for creating a character with red hair or greens eyes etc.?
With Logan and Andrei from Foreshadow, I wanted to stay away from the typical blonde hero and dark-haired villain. So, my hero has the dark hair, and my antagonist is blonde. Also, Logan's eyes are green because it's Rae's favorite color. Joselyn, tell us what would happen to two of your characters? Would they become fast friends? Joselyn Vaughn:
So far all my books are inter-related, so most of the characters are friends or at least acquaintances. Most likely they would talk about the rest of the characters, but I doubt any of it would be true. Let’s go to another question. Ruth, if you could change one personality trait or character flaw of one of your characters, what would you change and why?
Ruth J. Hartman:
Roxy is a total klutz. Sometimes that can be embarrassing! I’ve been known to have my klutzy moments…definitely embarrassing but now recalled with smiles! I think we’re going back to the first question for a moment. Looks like Tara wanted to add something.
I can picture Lucien, the vampire from Soul Guardian
, and Tyler, from my inspirational romance, Taking Chances
, getting along just fine. In spite of appearing to be different sides of the coin, Lucien and Tyler have a lot in common. Both believe God and goodness hold the answers they seek. Faith plays a major role for both of them, and I could see they could get into a great philosophical discussion. Philosophical discussions…I’d love to eavesdrop on that conversation. Lynette, did you want to respond?
If Juliet from The Apple Tree
, met Christian from Wishful Thinking
, I suspect they wouldn’t understand the first thing about each other! She’d probably like Greg from my WIP though, as he’s witty, intelligent and so full of confidence, he would probably force her to take stock of her life much sooner than she does. Sherry, how do you think your characters would fare if you paired them up differently—for example, heroine from your first novel with let’s say, hero in your current release or any other way you’d dream up, shaking the status quo of your novels?
Wow this is an interesting question. I am going to take the heroine from my first published story, The Brat
, published by The Wild Rose Press in Oct. 2010 and pair her up with Prince Henri, the hero in my current novella, His Chosen Bride
, published by Astraea Press in Feb. 2012. Oddly enough I think they would have made an interesting paring. Trudi battles against selective amnesia so has no recollection of her daughter’s father, and Prince Henri doesn’t care who he marries and until he meets Monica, was prepared to accept his father’s choice of bride as the future queen of his country. Lindsay, if you changed the name of one of the characters in your novels, would that impact the storyline or not?
I don’t think changing a character’s name would impact the story. I tend not to choose names based on the individual. Many times I’ll pick a name out of thin air, unless they are from another country. Only then will I look for names that are familiar to that country. Some of my characters’ names have important meanings in my books, but not all of them.
J.F. Jenkins, if you could change one personality trait or character flaw of one of your characters, what would you change and why?
J.F. Jenkins: I honestly don't think I would. Why? Because that flaw is one of the things that makes the character unique. For example, Tai, my female lead in “Legend of the Oceina Dragon” drives me up a wall. But if I did anything to change her, to fix her flaws, she would no longer be Tai and the things that are beautiful about her would no longer exist.
Patricia, how do you think your characters would fare if you paired them up differently?
Patricia Kiyono: Thinking of the couples in my stories, I can't imagine a different pairing actually working in the long run, but if it was just a matter of attraction, it might be Francie (Aegean Intrigue) and Andy (The Legacy) because of Andy's samurai heritage. Since Francie is an archaeologist, she would be interested in his past, and Andy might be drawn to Francie's intelligence and drive. But in the long run, I'm not sure they would work as a couple. They wouldn't have much in common.
Chynna, if you could change one personality trait or character flaw of one of your characters, what would you change and why?
Chynna Laird: I don’t think I’d change anything about any of my characters, even the bad guys. If I did it would change who they were, how they interacted with the other characters and essentially change the story a bit too. Nope. I like them all exactly the way they are…flaws and all.
Brea, if you could change one personality trait or character flaw of one of your characters, what would you change and why?
Brea Essex: I'd make Logan from Foreshadow more sarcastic. I enjoy what sarcasm he does have, but I wish I'd ramped it up.
Joselyn, if you had to pick one secondary character from any of your novels—to fashion a novel around, with him or her as the main character—who would you select and why?
Joselyn Vaughn: I’ve done this in almost all of my books. Sucker for a Hot Rod focuses on the romance of Judi and Bryce from CEOs Don’t Cry. Minnie in Hauntings of the Heart is featured in Sucker for a Hot Rod and CEOs Don’t Cry. It has been a lot of fun to explore the backgrounds of the other characters, especially Minnie. She had so many things in her history that I never imagined as I wrote CEOs Don’t Cry.
Ruth, what about your characters?
Ruth J. Hartman: Teresa Lynn. She’s Roxy’s best friend and deserves her own story.
I think David, Sebastian’s brother, from my book, Mr. Shipley’s Governess, deserves his own story as well. Maybe one day, I’ll write it! Tara, which character would you select?
Tara Manderino: Wow, this is such a tough question – only because the choices are too numerous. J But I’ll keep it to two. Josef, if Bound by Blood, is Alex’s friend. I didn’t expect him to show up as often as he did. Also a vampire, Josef’s take on his existence is very different from Alex’s, but he makes it clear he has always been content no matter what decade or century he was in, even, as Alex observed, Josef didn’t always seem to realize time had moved on.
The second character who really needs his own story is Michael, from The Heir, a Regency. When I first came up with the story line, Michael was in it, but I had never envisioned such a strong role. He turned out to have a quirky sense of humor and strong sense of doing the right thing. Since he had just been introduced to a very like-minded woman at the end of the novel, I only feel he should have a chance to tell his story.
Lynette, back to the character flaw question…would you change anything about any of your characters?
Lynette Sofras: A reader made a very interesting point to me about the heroine of The Apple Tree who goes through a good deal of soul-searching about her career as she was not enjoying medicine. The reader pointed out this was selfish after occupying a place in Med School which could have gone to a more deserving applicant. I must say I hadn’t looked at it in that way and I would now like to unpick this character flaw in more detail so my heroine doesn’t come across as being selfish.
It is interesting to find out what our readers think about our characters. Sherry, would you change any traits or flaws in your characters?
Sherry Gloag: This is a hard question, but the reality is even tougher. I have a WIP, working title Megan’s Story, where the heroine has been voted too ‘wishy-washy’ which means a major, and I mean major, re-write of the whole story as her present and future actions and reactions to events will have a ‘major’ impact on the story.
Lindsay, how important is physical appearance of the characters in your books?
Lindsay Downs: With the character Emily Dahill the only specific physical appearance I wanted was her height-5’1”. I want to show my readers that size doesn’t matter.
Well, we're going to take our first break and be back in two hours; but don't leave...now's your time to chat with the authors and leave comments to be entered to win in the book giveaways. Thanks so much to everyone who stopped by today!