This week I’m jumping into the fourth book in the Darynda Jones “Grave” series, Fourth Grave Beneath My Feet. I love this series. Why? One word … characters. Ms. Jones has created a cast of characters that I have completely fallen in love with and can’t wait to see what happens next in their lives. Of course creating memorable characters that readers fall in love with is the goal of every writer who puts fingers to keyboard. Anyway, this got me thinking about characters over the years that were so strong/handsome/kick-ass that I still think about them. In no particular order …
1. Meggie Cleary (The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough) This feisty redhead knew what she wanted and went after it even when it wasn’t proper. When she couldn’t have the man she loved, she tried her darnedest to love the man she was with.
2. Burke Basile (Fat Tuesday by Sandra Brown) – This gruff detective is sure he just wants revenge. In typical Brown storytelling of course he finds love is much sweeter.
3. Ayla (The Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean Auel) – Wow, what can be said about this heroine. She just keeps on keeping on. Surviving in the wild, she learns to communicate with animals. She names her horse “Whinnie”, not the name … the sound.
4. Nell Channing (Dance Upon the Air by Nora Roberts) – She is from the first in the “Three Sister’s Island” trilogy. I love these witches, but this first sister doesn’t know she’s a witch and that’s why I think I love her all the more.
5. Charles Wallace (A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle) – A boy who travels through time and space… what’s not to love?
6. Charlie Gordon (Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes) – This character just breaks my heart. A mentally disabled man that is given a cure and becomes a genius. But when it begins to slip away it’s heartbreaking to watch him decline.
7. Charlie Davidson (First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones) – Not only is she a detective … but the Grim Reaper. Yeah, who would have thought that the Grim Reaper could be one hell of a heroine. But there you have it!
8. Kristin Bjorson (Freedom’s Landing by Anne McCaffrey) – Another kick-ass heroine that you can’t help but loving. Kidnapped from Earth and transported to another planet, she steps up to help lead a ragtag band of victims to create a new settlement. Of course she finds the alien of her dreams in Zainal.
9. Eliza Flyte (The Horsemaster’s Daughter by Susan Wiggs) – Fiercely independent, she lives alone on an island. When a plantation owner brings a wounded horse to her to heal, it seems more than one heart mends.
10. Brenimyn (Garden of Serenity by Nina Pierce) – Oh come on, you’ve gotta give me one! LOL! Bren is the hero from the first novel that I published. I think he’s so memorable because I rolled all my favorite heroes into this one hunky guy.
So there are a few of mine. What about you? What characters can you just not get out of your head … or heart?
Since convention season is in full swing I thought I’d share with you 13 things I learned at my first writer’s convention in 2008 …
2. NYT Best sellers don’t like you rubbing against them to see if their greatness actually transfers.
3. Sleep is overrated.
4. Always call for the guaranteed wake-up call, that way when you don’t receive it … your room is free.
5. If your roommate unpacks more little bottles of liquor than panties … you picked the right roommate!
6. When you go out to lunch, make sure the restaurant is young and trendy and you sit in the section with the cutest waiter.
7. Always set your cellphone alarm. (See #4.) Breakfast begins at 7 am even if you’re still in the shower.
8. Wine and lack of sleep are a baaad combination … especially in the presence of a hunky waiter.
9. Bring an extra suitcase for all the books everyone gives away.
10. Only bring half as much promotional material as you think you need. Remember … they’re all authors looking to promote their books too!
11. Authors always have a storyline on their mind … erotic authors should remember not everyone takes kindly to you sharing it with them. Okay, so this guy has nothing to do with that … but he’s pretty sexy and I couldn’t resist sharing him.
12. Agents and editors are only human. No matter how they glow or appear to walk on water … they are not demi-Gods … they want to contract writers with good books (and you have a good book) … Repeat this mantra as many times as needed to get through your pitch.
13. Whatever happens at the convention … stays at the convention … even if it isn’t in Las Vegas! (Refer back to #8.)
So, I made it home today! Exhausted and refreshed all at the same time.
The New England Writer’s Conference (NEC) was everything I hoped it would be. Writer’s, agents, editors, learning, networking, brainstorming and FUN! (And if anyone hears that I was naughty and a little wild on our “off” time… don’t believe ’em!) Everything I needed to perk me up and help me to push through to the end of my novella.
The keynote speakers at breakfast and lunch were Susan Wiggs and Suzanne Brockman. Both, incredible writers and awesome speakers who were very inspiring. There were so many successful writers at this convention that beyond these two women, I couldn’t possibly name all the wonderful writers who took time to do workshop presentations that were both informative and confirming for my own writing journey.
And okay, I’m going to admit this … I find some of it a little, well … daunting. No matter where you sit or who you speak to at meals, there were writers who have made the NYT best seller list.
Not every writer wants this … some are truly happy simply sharing their stories. That’s not the case for me. I want to write. I want to publish. I want to sell … A LOT … I want to make a living from my writing … and I want to be on the best seller list. And I want it … NOW!
But of course I am reality oriented. Very few writers have the joy of overnight success. Almost all talk about the difficult years of carving out writing time … of the numerous rejections before publication … or the horrible sacrifices they made to get their book published … and even now, when they’re well known … the rough patches they hit and still push through. Building a career takes time.
So, I’m sitting here counting the minutes until DH’s plane arrives (because it’s been a loooong week without him). Then it’s off to bed for a good night sleep in my own bed snuggled up to my man! And tomorrow I’ll type until my eyes cross and then pick up Little Boy Blue.
At that point I can happily proclaim “we all survived hell week”! and focus my attention on my writing and meeting that deadline.
Wish me luck!
UPDATE: Everyone’s home. Suitcases litter our front hall and clothes are piled high in the laundry room. My fingers are flying over the keyboard and my novella is unfolding. Now, if I can sneak in a couple naps and catch up on some of this sleep… all would be good!