I’m always nervous to write about characters I’ve written about before. When I wrote Blind Magic, I agonized over Marcy. And more recently as I wrote the second in the Jewel Chronicles, I lost quite a few sleeps over my two main characters, Milenda and Jaali.
You’d think it would be easier to write characters you were already familiar with but it isn’t. When you’re a fiction writer you get to think of your characters as if they are real. You get attached to them, you love them and live in fear of not doing your characters credit, letting them down somehow.
The hardest characters I’ve written so far were all from previous stories–Marcy from Loved You Always and Jaali and Milenda from Desert Jewel. Once I was finished I was happy with the results, but the process was painful.
In June 2018 the second of the Jewel Chronicles will be published. In it my young princess and her beloved Jaali take refuge in the Northern Lands while they wait for a safe time to return to Afrika. I needed Milenda to be the same brave and kindhearted young woman she was in Desert Jewel, but I also needed her to be a little clueless and unsure of herself because of her new setting. I was so afraid I would make her look weak after having made sure she came out strong and courageous in face of adversity in the first book.
I wanted Jaali to regress a little when it came to his inner demons without making him sound like a helpless victim. Jaali had made such strides into killing his demons in the first book, I didn’t want him to lose that now.
And then there was Mjusi, the flying lizard. He was the only character I had a clear picture of where he was going. But even then, I was not sure of how to take him there.
Being a pantser I love that moment when everything comes together in a logical and beautiful way, small elements of the plot or the setting turning into great catalysts of character development. I was very pleased with it when I finished it and I’m hoping my readers will too.
How have you dealt with recurring characters and how have you avoided failing them?
**Coming June 2018**
If you read a few of my romances you may have noticed a common thread running through all of them, no matter if the story is set in the imaginary world of the angels or a very real town in Maine. My characters are diverse. They come from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds, some have disabilities, others are emotionally scarred in one form or another. But they all have one thing in common—they all want to be loved and are willing to move heaven and earth to protect those they care for.
I’ve heard it before as I’m sure you did too—the old adage (not so old as it turns out) that claims you can’t write a diverse character unless you are one yourself. I’ve heard the maxim from certain readers and from literary agents, from members of the LGBT community, from African Americans, Hispanics, people with disabilities or mental illnesses. Pretty much from every minority group everywhere. Because let’s face it—there is no way to fully understand what someone feels or goes through unless you’ve been through it yourself. But wait! Actually, even people who went through similar things felt about it differently because there is only one YOU.
I don’t subscribe to this philosophy, though. Most writers have a well-developed sense of empathy and as such, and to use myself as an example, I may never fully comprehend how a gay man feels when faced with prejudice but I can come close. Nothing annoyed me more throughout life as being excluded from things because I didn’t quite belong. I was too or not enough of everything. People will bring up just about anything to exclude people they somehow don’t think belong with them.
I believe that no matter where we come from, what our ethnicity is, our religion, our state of mental or physical health we all have one thing in common—as my characters, we all really want to be loved and be happy. So, I write romance with a mission. Sounds silly but after a lifetime of being told I COULDN’T for so many reasons, I wanted to write about characters who in spite of all obstacles, in the end COULD and DID.
What do you think? To which school of thought do you subscribe and why? In the next few weeks I will be posting some blogs about characters and character development. I know I’ve done it before but I want to go deeper. I’d love to hear from you too, and I’m opening up for guest blogs focusing on characters (their creation, inspiration, favorite ones, most hated ones, etc). Just email me and we’ll go from there.
A winner has been picked and contacted. Congrats Mary and thank you all who participated 🙂
We’re celebrating People of Color in romance and offering you a chance to discover new books and new authors, as well as giving you a chance to win prizes. We have 30 blogs participating this year, each featuring an interracial or multicultural romance book!
This year, we’re doing things a little differently. We’ve separated the cash and book prizes so more people can win.
Here’s what’s up for grabs:
We’re introducing daily book prizes. Be sure to comment on blog posts and join the conversation on our FACEBOOK EVENT PAGE for a chance to win one of our 24 book prizes.
Enter the rafflecopter below for a chance to win:
For Rafflecopter click here
MY BLOG PRIZE
She’s a princess. He’s an ex-slave. To survive, they must fight the all-powerful Elders, and Jaali’s demons.
She’s a princess in a world of lush jungles and hellish deserts where the modern mixes with centuries-old traditions and superstitions. Taking a husband at the age of eighteen goes against every fiber of her being, but as a future monarch, she must follow the rules, even if her heart already belongs to someone.
He’s an ex-slave who wishes to be invisible in a world where he can’t hide. Loving the headstrong princess may prove to be his demise. To win her hand he must survive a grueling trek through the desert. Will her love make him strong enough?
Desert Jewel is the first book in The Jewel Chronicles. A unique interracial romance set against a breathtaking fantasy world with complex characters and twists at every turn. Let Desert Jeweltake you to another world.
“It had the perfect mix of adventure, love, hate and mystery to keep you hooked.”- Amazon Reviewer
“Desert Jewel by Natalina Reis is a great read full of love, hate, hope, joy, devastation, fantasy and magic all rolled into one wonderful story.” – Amazon Reviewer
“I am so happy I had an opportunity to read this book. It really is a hidden gem!” – Amazon Reviewer
COLOR OF LOVE 2017 FEATURED BOOKS
Now hop on to the next blog:
|1.||Author Kiru Taye (INT)||11.||Georgia Lyn Hunter||21.||Tasha L. Harrison|
|2.||Author Nana Prah (INT)||12.||Sharon C. Cooper||22.||Kay Blake|
|3.||Author Empi Baryeh (INT)||13.||Reana Malori||23.||J.L. Campbell|
|4.||LBAS Book Blogs (INT)||14.||Elle Wright||24.||Sheena Binkley|
|5.||RWOWA (INT)||15.||Candace Shaw||25.||Bex n Books (INT)|
|6.||Sexy Romance Novels (INT)||16.||Author/Blogger Shonda Brock||26.||Natalina Reis|
|7.||Felicia Denise, Author||17.||L. Loren (INT)||27.||Dahlia Donovan (Int)|
|8.||Sharita Lira, Author||18.||Koko Brown||28.||Debra Elise|
|9.||Freddy MacKay||19.||Siren Allen||29.||Kim Golden|
|10.||Platypire Reviews||20.||Amaka Azie||30.||Kai Tyler (INT)|
Yesterday, Blind Magic was released into the world of readers. I’m seriously pumped about it since Marcy, the main character, is one of my favorite characters ever. She was a favorite sidekick in Loved You Always and it still is now that she has her own romance.
I’ve written a couple blogs about this quirky witch and her winsome personality, but I’ve kept pretty much quiet about her male counterpart and love interest. There is a reason for that. I don’t know how to talk about Oliver without revealing some things about him that I would prefer to keep a secret, so I can surprise my readers.
But I decided to risk it and write this blog about wonderful, swoon-worthy Oliver. After you meet him you will totally understand why Marcy, an independent, free-thinking woman, falls in love hard for this guy.
Oliver is one of the cops who was shot in Loved You Always while on protection detail for Marcy’s friends, Emily Rose and Jem. Oliver seeks Marcy’s help with a vexing problem at her witchcraft store and the relationship hits the ground running.
Oliver was both a hard and easy character to write. He’s complex and charming, broken and brave, sexy and vulnerable…. I was terrified of writing him, of not doing him justice, of writing him in a way I would totally betray who he is. I think I may have done a good job since I’ve had great comments from readers so far. I’d love to hear from you if and when you read it.
His life has been far from easy and the ghosts of his past are still out to get him as he develops his relationship with Marcy. The little witch–like he likes to call her–is the light in his rather dark life and he is the missing piece in Marcy’s. He’s the classic type–organized, well-dressed, and reserved. She’s a free-spirit–open, quirky, and unconventional. On the outside they couldn’t be more different, but inside they are two peas-in-a-pod. Made for each other, true halves of one whole.
I love Oliver and I’m so excited to share him with all my readers. I can only hope they love him as much as I do.
by Jolie St. Amant
Series: Chateau Rouge
Release Date: October 7, 2017
Publisher: Bienvenue Press
Chateau Rouge is a reputedly haunted hotel. It hides secrets and stories within its walls, tales that lure guests from all over the world.
Yet there’s one story that has never been told. The story of a New Orleans bordello Madam who had to endure the pain of watching her true love die…twice.
Josey has been the owner of Chateau Rouge for the last two hundred years. She’s content with her routine existence, and has been for a long time…until Archer Grayson walks into her hotel.
He ignites a hunger in her which she hasn’t felt for over one hundred years, and this can only mean one thing…her love has returned to her.
But with his return comes the curse of their fate, and Josey refuses to survive a broken heart for a third time. Unless…what if this time is different? What if there’s a chance for them to change their destiny?
Could it be that their love finally has a different fate written in the cards?
Or is history bound to repeat itself?
Purchase Dream a Little Dream of Me:
Jolie St. Amant fell in love with all things New Orleans after reading Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice. Now, a frequent visitor to the Crescent City, she can often be found getting inspiration from ghost tours, or sipping café au lait at Café du Monde. Dream a Little Dream of Me is the first in the Chateau Rouge Series.
***It’s been a while since I posted any flash fiction, so here it goes 🙂 Enjoy.***
“She wanted something else, something different, something more. Passion and romance, perhaps, or maybe quiet conversations in candlelit rooms, or perhaps something as simple as not being second.”
Nicholas Spark “The Notebook“
She had read that quote and it spoke to her. It gave words to what she had felt now for years. Too many years of analyzing, blaming herself, trying to make sense of what she wanted. Her husband, her friends, even her therapist often asked her, “What exactly do you want from your marriage?” Until she read that quote, she had no way of articulating how she felt, even to herself.
“Something as simple as not being second.” In her marriage, in her life in general, she had always come second. Or third. She couldn’t remember an instance where she had been first in someone’s life other than her own parents’. She was always the afterthought, the one who is useful but not fun or wanted.
When she first got married she found out quickly she was not at the top of her husband’s list of priorities. First came his own family, second his sports, third his career, and then herself. The wedding vows, for better or for worse, turned into maybe if nothing else more important comes up. Even in sickness she found herself a faraway second to career or family. Her needs were never met with a kind ear but rather a pointing finger at how inconvenient her requests were. Everybody, including neighbors she barely knew, were more important than her.
She made excuses. Things would get better later on, marriage was a new thing to him, he’d come around eventually.
There were big gifts on Christmas and birthdays, attempts at appeasing her once in a while. Big gestures instead of the little daily kindnesses she really was looking for. She had never been much of a material girl. Never one for diamonds, expensive clothes, or fancy gadgets. She wanted her husband to ask her why she was sad instead of getting mad at her because she was sulking. She wanted her husband to side with her–or at least support her–when she didn’t agree with his family or friends. She wanted a hand to hold on to when she didn’t feel well. An attentive ear when she shared something that was important to her. Instead she got irritated looks and sudden changes of subject.
As the years went by things didn’t change. In many ways it got worse. The career was replaced by a crowd of friends, concerts, bars, parties… She stopped going with him. She stopped trying to be there for him because he was not there for her. No one to share that trip of a lifetime with, or her joy and excitement at having accomplished a dream. No one to talk to.
She blamed herself. She had put on weight, she was boring, she was an introvert and was uncomfortable in social situations he thrived on. It was her fault he didn’t find anything attractive in spending time with her, in talking to her, in sharing those small moments a marriage is built on.
She was unhappy. She was lonely. Tears danced in her eyes as soon as she woke up in the morning and when she fell asleep. She envied fictitious couples in literature and TV and bitterness filled her heart like noxious fumes.
The truth was she didn’t want anything complicated, nothing expensive or hard to do. All she wanted was to be first once in a while. Something as simple as not being second.
Lindsay’s goal with her writing is to show the power of love and the beauty of
life while also instilling a true sense of realism in her work. Some reviewers
have noted that her books are not the “typical romance.” With her novels coming
from a place of honesty, Lindsay examines the difficult questions, looks at the
tough emotions, and paints the pictures that are sometimes difficult to look
at. She wants her fiction to resonate with readers as realistic, poetic, and
powerful. Lindsay wants women readers to be able to say, “I see myself in that
novel.” She wants to speak to the modern woman’s experience while also bringing
a twist of something new and exciting. Her aim is for readers to say, “That
could happen,” or “I feel like the characters are real.” That’s how she knows
she’s done her job.
Lindsay’s hope is that by becoming a published author, she can inspire some of
her students and other aspiring writers to pursue their own passions. She wants
them to see that any dream can be attained and publishing a novel isn’t out of
the realm of possibility.
It’s no secret I’ve always been a bookworm. I used to gulp down books like water. My library–even as a child–has always been large. Many of my books are now electronic but the library, virtual or not, just keeps growing. Authors have always been my friends. They’ve given me such joy, I often think of them as family even though nine times of ten I have never met them. I could never understand how some people treat writers as celebrities and keep tabs on all the dirt they manage to dig up on them. I prefer to think of them as ethereal beings, not quite fictional but not quite real either. I don’t want to know the dirt and the skeletons they keep in their closets–because let’s face it, they are humans like everyone else. I want to focus on their writing and the characters and worlds they create. So you can imagine how I feel when a writer betrays their own writing, their own creation.
I used to read a lot of fantasy and years ago I picked up a book in the store which would become one of my favorite fantasy series ever. I fell in love with the characters, the world she built, the story than unfolded. Maybe because the two main characters were gay, the author developed a specialized following. LGBT characters were not common at the time. These wonderfully three-dimensional characters develop a romantic relationship which was both sweet and realistic with ups and downs, doubts and moments of insane happiness. All while partnering in some seriously dangerous adventures. I fell in love with the characters, the way the author told their story, and the intricate world she created.
A few years later, maybe pressured by her publisher or the fans, she wrote and published an anthology of short stories about the characters. According to her, the fans had requested more details about the characters’ relationships, a sort of behind the scenes glimpse at their romantic lives. It seemed intriguing to this romantic fool, so I bought the book. To date, this was the only book I have ever thrown away. I was utterly disgusted by it. It was hard to believe these sordid, crude stories had been written by the same hand who had written such lovely prose before. Filthy language, terribly graphic sex scenes, well-loved heroic characters that were now being portrayed as bottom-of-the-barrel creatures concerned only with bodily pleasures. She effectively destroyed the beautiful images I had created in my mind of these wonderful, rich, multi-layered characters. I was mad! I felt betrayed. I felt the author had somehow betrayed her own characters.
When the last book in the series came out shortly after, I bought it but I couldn’t read it. I couldn’t erase the images her short stories had placed in my head and couldn’t face the characters I had once loved so fiercely. The book is still on my bookshelf waiting to be read.
We all have different levels of tolerance for different things. I stopped reading The Outlander series midway through the first book because of something Jamie did to his wife. I just couldn’t “face” him after that so I never finished the book and have no intentions of reading the rest of the series. What’s your threshold of tolerance? Have you ever been betrayed by a favorite author or favorite character? What would–in your opinion–make you stop reading a series you loved?
This time last year I was celebrating the release of my second book, Desert Jewel. This book is very important to me for different reasons.
One of the reasons is that I absolutely poured my heart out building the world of Desert Jewel and its characters. In a way, Desert Jewel is my humble homage to Africa and its people. I spent a lot of my childhood and teen years in different places in Africa and I wanted to somehow honor the magic of a world where the modern mixes with the ancient and science mingles with myths and superstition. Princess Milenda and her ex-slave, Jaali will always hold a special place in my heart. I recently finished writing the second in the series and will be starting the third and last one very soon.
The other reason–and likely the most important–is that the publishing of this book in particular saved me from a very dark place. I have struggled with bouts of mild depression off and on all my life, but last year I went through one of the worst ever. I had to literally drag myself out of bed every morning and couldn’t take pleasure in anything at all. In fact, the morning I received the email from my publisher offering me a contract for this book, I had done just that–dragged myself out of bed, already in tears for no apparent reason and sat down to look through my emails just for something to do. I was on vacation in the mountains with my husband, but my mood was so low I hadn’t been able to enjoy any of it.
That email changed my life that morning. I’ve never told this to anyone, not even my family, but the kind words in that message just brought joy back to my life, the life I was beginning to believe to be worthless. Which goes to show you never know when a kind word may make all the difference in someone’s life.
So today I celebrate the one year anniversary of Desert Jewel’s release and a professional relationship that has enriched my life and given me great joy (and a LOT of work, lol). So let’s hear it for Hot Tree Publishing (hoot and holler)!!!
I’m running a celebratory giveaway in my Facebook page. Go check it out for a chance to win an autographed copy of the book.
P.S.- Depression isolates. When you’re depressed you feel all alone, which in turn prevent those suffering from depression from seeking help. Keep an eye on those you love for signs of depression–withdrawing, frequent tears, lack of energy, indecision…my family thought I was just being difficult, couldn’t read the signs, an all too-common reaction. Don’t just assume they are being a pain. Dig deeper.