What has made our heroine into the person she became for the purposes of our story? What occurrences in her life have shaped her personality? And how do we decide on the balance between what we, as the writer know about our heroine vs. what the reader needs to know?
Obviously, we don’t have room to tell the reader all that we, the writer must know about her. Nor would the reader be as enthralled with that deluge of information as we are. It’s not necessary for the reader to know every single thing—yet, as writers, one of the hardest parts of creating believable characters is giving them a past, and knowing how much of that history we need to go into.
In my novel, Fire Eyes, one thing we learn about the heroine, Jessica, is that she married young. She thought she was marrying for love, but as it turned out, she grew to understand that she was not in love with Billy, nor he with her—at least, not in the way she had always dreamed of. This is a huge issue with her after Billy dies. She tells Kaed, “The next time I marry, it will be for love.” This shows how much it means to her, because her existence as a single mother is not easy, and the threat of Fallon is still there.
There are many reasons for her to hold onto that dream so tenaciously, but I didn’t have room to talk about in the novel. Her life before Billy was not easy, and marrying Billy was just the ‘icing on the cake.’ But rather than me tell you about Jessica, how about letting her describe her background to you?
My name was Jessica Lea Beckley. That was before I married Billy Monroe, when I was only seventeen. I thought I was in love with Billy. He was handsome in his own way. I was glad when he started courting me, because he was the only boy my father seemed to like. Once he started coming around, it seemed like word got out we were ‘a couple’—and the other boys quit coming by.
That suited Pa just fine though. I was the only girl in a family of boys—four older brothers and one younger. My ma died when Mitch was born, and somehow, Pa always seemed to blame him for it. I had to come between them many, many times. Pa was always heavy-handed. Mitch was determined to prove to Pa that he was worthy. He ran off when he was sixteen. Said he wanted to be a marshal. We never heard from him again. I missed Mitch more than my other brothers. He was always special to me. But Mitch is dead now, killed by Andrew Fallon’s men.
They killed my husband, Billy, too. I did what I could to save him, but he was just hurt too bad. Most of what I did was just making him comfortable as he slipped away. It took him two long days. Even though I didn’t love him, I was sorry for not being able to save him. Something really sad was this. Billy never wanted to be touched—he wanted to do all the touching—what little of it there was between us. How I would yearn for him to just hold me sometimes! But it wasn’t in him. Still, just before he died, he opened his eyes a little and said, “Jessica, would you please just hold my hand awhile?” Even then, I knew I couldn’t touch him the way I wanted to—just pull him close and hold him. I took his hand in mine, and he smiled. It wasn’t long after that, he passed.
Somebody had to bury him, and there was no one but me to do it. Me, two months gone with our baby. But I lost it, too, when I buried Billy. Nearly died myself, from bleeding, but my good friend Rita, and her husband, Wayne, took me in and cared for me.
In an odd twist of fate, after Rita had her baby girl, she was bitten by a copperhead a few weeks later. Wayne waited too long to come for help, and Rita passed. If Wayne had come sooner, I might have saved her. I think he knew it, too. Not long after that, he asked me to marry him. It made sense, me with no husband, him with no wife and trying to care for little Lexi. But I didn’t love him, and he didn’t love me. I had to keep true to my promise I made myself, to only marry for love. A few days later, he showed up at my door with the baby, asking me to take her. I felt sorry for Wayne, but I was glad to see him go. Gladder, still, that he left me precious Lexi.
It was good to leave home. Sometimes I think my pa just wanted me there to cook and clean. I wanted my independence, and maybe I saw Billy as my ticket out of there. I’ve never been back, even though it’s less than a day’s ride from here. Pa was a hard man to deal with, and I was glad to see my older brothers marry and leave, one by one, too.
I’ve always felt bad about not saving Rita and Billy. I’m a healer. Had to learn that, being raised as I was with all those boys. They were always getting hurt somehow. I believe things happen for a reason, though. If I hadn’t gone through those hard years of growing up where I did, I wouldn’t have been able to save Kaed Turner when Standing Bear dumped him on my porch. He was hurt worse than Billy, but he had more to live for. I wasn’t enough for Billy, but to Kaed, I was everything.
Remember when I said that I wouldn’t marry again except for love? Kaed’s the best man I’ve ever known. When I look at him, I see love in his eyes—for me—every time. But more than just the love, I see understanding. And that’s just as important, I’ve learned, because, love can be many things to many people. Kaedon Turner knows my soul as well as my heart. We’ve both suffered loss and despair. But now, we have each other. And when he says, “It’ll come out all right,” I know it’s true.
And now, you know what I knew when I created Jessica Monroe Turner. A lot goes into making up a heroine's personality--a lot that the writer must know about her. This knowledge makes the heroine a well-rounded person to the reader, although you, as the writer, might not be able to include everything. Still, snippets of conversation and insights will provide for a deeper look into the heroine's character. What about your heroines? How did you manage to convey their backstory to the reader?
I'm giving away a copy of FIRE EYES to one lucky commenter! Please leave your contact information along with a comment to be entered in the drawing. Thanks for stopping by and I hope you enjoyed this peek into my heroine, Jessica Lea Turner.
Cheryl's Amazon Author Page:
Thursday, February 28, 2013
Tuesday, February 26, 2013
(This interview originally appeared on my blog - on Jan. 29, 2013 - on the feature StoryTeller's 7, a series of interviews with authors/writers who answer seven questions about themselves and their craft).
CHERYL PIERSON began the New Year on a high note --capturing 1st place for Kane's Redemption, in the 2012 Preditors and Editors writing competition. The short story represents the first of a trilogy of Young Adult historical western series of novellas, which include Kane's Promise, and Kane's Destiny.
Prolific might be the way to describe Cheryl. In addition to short stories, and novellas, she has written three novels, contributed to anthologies, and wrote the first two chapters of Wolf Creek Book 1: Bloody Trail, the first in a series of novels written by members of Western Fictioneers under the pen name Ford Fargo. She is also a regular contributor to several blogs.
Her favorite genre is romance novels. But, since her debut novel in 2009 - Fire Eyes - Cheryl has published historical westerns, contemporary romantic suspense, paranormal westerns, and a number of short stories.
Cheryl, and her husband, have called Oklahoma City home for the last 30 years. A big welcome to Cheryl Pierson.
1. Describe your trilogy in a sentence, and genre, and tell us your inspiration for the story.
CP: I have the first two of them out, and the third one will be released hopefully in February. This was a brand new genre for me--western, but meant to be a young adult on up through adult ages. It's written through the eyes of a ten year old boy, Will Green.
Kane's Redemption: A ten-year-old boy fights for his life when he is taken prisoner by a band of raiding Apache.
Kane's Promise: Jacobi Kane must lead a band of lawmen in their mission to find and annihilate the remnants of the Apache renegades who were responsible for killing Will's parents and Kane's wife and children.
I'm not really sure what inspired me to write this trilogy--I just started writing the first one as a short story for a western anthology, and as I wrote, I knew it was going to be longer than the guidelines called for. So I wrote another short story for the anthology and went back to this one, turning it into a trilogy. Book 3, Kane's Destiny, will be out next month.
2. What gave you the motivation and desire to become a writer?
CP: I used to get into trouble for writing in my storybooks when I was little. I've always been fascinated with reading, spelling, and writing. I don't remember the first moment I thought "I want to be a writer." I just always knew it.
Love of reading that was given to me by both my parents from the time I as very young. We read stories every night before bed, and a big treat was going to the library every Saturday. I guess I would have to say that as I got older, I read some BAD fiction and was thinking, "I wouldn't have done it this way. And my way would have been better." LOL. Though I love true stories and autobiographies, etc., I love the idea of being able to create my own characters and story line. That is magical.
3. Imagine you're on a late-night train traveling across the US, in conversation with your favorite authors. Who would they be, and what would you want to know about them?
CP: My favorite romance author is Christine Monson. I liked her writing so much because it was "real"--so many romances are like a fairy tale, all sugar coated and with contrived conflict. Her books were not that way at all. They're filled with hurt and angst and true love always, always finds a way, but getting there is a long road. Sadly, she committed suicide. I guess I would want to talk to her about how she was able to break through with this kind of gritty writing in a genre that is so often characterized as not being taken seriously. She was able to write seven books, I believe, and nearly every one of them is in a different time/setting, and so masterfully done--to me, that's amazing.
My favorite historian is Shelby Foote. I think I would probably just let him talk, and talk, and talk--he was never boring and I learned something every time I saw him on television or read any of his books.
All time favorite book--To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. My question for her would be..."Why didn't you write another book? The world was waiting, and it never happened." To me, that is a tragedy, to have that much talent and not carry it forward; to have that much impact on our society, and leave it at that. I guess that's the one thing I would want to know from her.
4. How do you feel the Internet has changed the way you think and write?
CP: Researching things has become so much easier. I grew up with a mom and dad who said, "Look it up in the dictionary." Now, there's Google. LOL Everything is right at my fingertips. I still write everything in longhand first, then enter it into the computer. I'm truly a technophobe, but I do appreciate the conveniences that the internet has brought in research, and in finding other writers, publishers, and groups of people who are like-minded.
5. I read, in an interview, where you said "alternate history is a new up-and-coming genre. Would you describe alternate history and tell us how it differs from traditional genres, and what makes it appealing?
CP: Alternate history is a relatively new genre that a history buff will either love or hate. One of my very favorite alternate history writers is Eric Flint. The first book I ever read by him was called 1812: The Rivers of War. He uses characters we know from history; Andrew Jackson, Sam Houston, and so on. There's humor in the story, when Francis Scott Key is trying to come up with the words to the Star Spangled Banner, for instance; but there are also things that were completely implausible--like the different Indian tribes uniting to fight on the side of the U.S. soldiers.
6. Give us three "good to know" facts you want readers to know about you.
CP: One thing most people don't know is that I am a classically trained pianist. I don't play much anymore, but used to do more than two hours a day of practice. Another thing that I've gotten quite involved in . . . is doing what I can to help different animal organizations. There are so many of them out there, Middle Mutts, Pet Pardons, and so on, with volunteers who just work tirelessly to save animals,stop animal cruelty, and stop the killing in the shelters across so many of our states.
I once worked in the security department at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum for about two years. It didn't pay much, but was one of the most stress-free jobs I ever held. I often say it was the BEST job I ever held, even though I had worked for the federal government, a hospital lobbying group, and two universities. I met a lot of good people there, and every day there was a new crowd that came through the doors.
7. What do you consider the best moment of your writing life?
CP: I've had two of those. One was when I sold my first short story to Rocking Chair Reader, an Adams Media series that was reminiscent of the Chicken Soup books. There is nothing like that first sale. The second was when I sold my first book, Fire Eyes, to The Wild Rose Press. I've wished so often my parents could have lived to share that with me. Those sales were important because of the validation, and getting the stories out there for others to read, but for me they were important because I had realized my dream.
- Contact Cheryl: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Visit Cheryl's Amazon Author Page
- Western Fictioneers Blog
Posted by Tom Rizzo
Thursday, February 14, 2013
Posted by Becca Vickery
Thursday, February 7, 2013
What goes hand-in-hand with Valentines but chocolate? If you know me, I'm hooked on coffee and addicted to chocolate. This is my month.
I love Lindt, Mozart Krugels, dark chocolate, milk chocolate, and white chocolate. And let's not forget the Andes mint chocolate.
Chocolate is made from the seeds of the cacao tree. It's a complex process of fermenting, drying, and roasting.
The Aztecs were one of the first to brew up a chocolate beverage and the Spaniards brought it to Europe.
Enjoy these chocolate fun facts:
The Mayan and Aztecs used cocoa beans as currency.
The Swiss consume more chocolate per person than other nation on Earth.
Napolean is rumored to have carried chocolate with him on all his military campaigns.
The word chocolate comes from the Aztec word "xocoatl" meaning "bitter water."
Question: What's your favorite chocolate treat? Do you like receiving a nip of chocolate on Valentines Day?
A Polish Heart
99 cent sweet contemporary romance
Blurb: Can Sofia's faith give Darrin his heart back?
"What's the real Darrin like?" she asked.
He paused. "I don't know."
"Of course you do. Tell me your favorites."
He arched an eyebrow. "Favorite what?"
"Favorite things. It doesn't matter." Her smile warmed his heart. She cared. His favorite things mattered to her.
"I like the New England Patriots. They're an American football team. I like comic books, traveling, designing buildings, listening to music, and anything technical."
BOOK TRAILER LINK: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lC6_397PerU
"Sofia and Darrin's story is a heartwarming one. Totally enjoyable read." - Tara Manderino, Amazon Reader
BARNES & NOBLE:http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-polish-heart-stephanie-burkhart/1111503774?ean=2940033247875
SONY EBOOK STORE: https://ebookstore.sony.com/ebook/stephanie-burkhart/a-polish-heart/_/R-400000000000000712746
Author Bio: Stephanie Burkhart works as a 911 Dispatcher for LAPD. She spent years tasting chocolate and her favorites are all listed above. :)
Posted by Stephanie Burkhart