Marji Laine

I Love a Good Mystery!


Choosing Characters

carwash I love plotting. And I can see a murder scene almost anywhere I go. I know, gruesome! My Precious Redhead and I make a game of it. Should have heard our conversation as we waited in a fast food line next to a car wash. After sunset, the flashing blue lights inside the glassed-in building looked more like a house of horror than a car wash.

But I digress.

My biggest challenge, and my critique partners will back me up on this, is developing deep characters. But I’ve heard some excellent advice on this.

First, from Susan May Warren, I learned to ask my characters what their greatest fear is. Actually, it never occurred to me to actually ask them until I read Shame and Redemption by Bethany Quinn (a character created by Katie Ganshert).

But I have to describe the depth of my greenness. So I jotted down the greatest fears of my characters, and stopped. The thought never occurred to me that I should actually take my characters through their greatest fear. No. I can’t do that to them!

At a DFW Ready Writer meeting (a chapter of ACFW in Dallas/Ft. Worth) Ronie Kendig argued my point. By all means take your characters to those dark places. I got the feeling that unless things hurt, I didn’t go deep enough.

I’m also inspired by some of the terrific stories I’ve read from all three of these authors and the way their characters have unique personalities with things that I like about them and things that I don’t like. (See Reviews on My Foolish Heart, Wildflowers from Winter, and Firethorn)

So I’ve got a place to start with my character development. Only a starting place, though.

What tricks to do you have for peopling your stories? How do you make them all distinct?


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Review – Wildflowers from Winter

I had a lovely time this summer reading books til I turned purple. Okay not quite. But I did read several books. I didn’t review all of them, but for a while, book reviews were a weekly event at my blog. I’ve compiled those reviews on my new page, For Readers. Hope you enjoy browsing!

And in that same spirit, I’m utilizing my A2Z Blog hop article to share a Review of a new favorite!

AVAILABLE TODAY!

Wildflowers from Winter: A Novel

Wildflowers from Winter: A Novel by Katie Ganshert
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Halfway through this book, I stopped and told my daughter, “Katie Ganshert is Michelangelo with words.”

I’m in total awe! Her main character, Bethany Quinn, is terribly realistic. I say terribly because she alternates between sweet and self-absorbed. She proves easy to identify with (I hate to admit) but not always easy to like. Her personal agendas and hidden pain provide many of the conflicts in the story.

But those same flaws make her real. Keep her true to her character throughout the story. And though the story, for the most part, is told in third-person, Ganshert’s delve into 1st person flashbacks are masterful. The connection to Bethany Quinn strengthens as each layer rolled back.

The hero with a past, Evan Price gives a good balance to Bethany, but I really connect with her best friend, Robin, and look forward to reading more about her – hopefully in future books!

I’ve found a new favorite author and can’t wait to keep reading!

Wildflowers From Winter is available TODAY! Celebrate it’s premiere by ordering your own copy!

Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Books a Million
ChristianBook.com
IndieBound
Lifeway
Mardel
Parable Christian Stores
Powell’s Books
Random House

Special thanks to the author for an advanced copy for an impartial review!

View all my reviews on Goodreads


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Redemption – Bethany’s Story

Katie Ganshert’s debut novel, Wildflowers from Winter is remarkable. Her main character, Bethany chatted about Shame on Monday and returned in this repost from Katie’s blog to discuss her ideas about redemption. I loved learning about Bethany and her plight as I read Wildflowers from Winter and it comes out in just a few days! Woohoo!

***

Katie asked me to come back and talk about redemption.

After talking about my past and this whole idea of shame, I have no idea if she’s thinking third time’s a charm, or three strikes I’m out.

Regardless, three is my favorite number. So here I am.

Redemption. Not really sure what I think about that word. Crickets, really. So I decided to look it up. Here’s what I found, plus my commentary.

Redemption:

  1. An act of redeeming or the state of being redeemed (How’s that for helpful?)
  2. Deliverance, rescue
  3. Deliverance from sin; salvation (Pastor Fenton? Is that you?)
  4. Atonement for guilt (Now I have to look up atonement.)
  5. Repurchase, as of something sold

Number three brings up too many unpleasant memories.

I have adverse reactions whenever I hear the word atonement. So number four is out.

I don’t think Katie had number five in mind when she brought up redemption and number one is not at all helpful. There should be a law that prohibits dictionaries from using the actual word in the definition.

So I guess I’m left with number two.

Deliverance. Rescue.

I’m not sure how I feel about either of those words.

It’s not like anyone rescued me from Peaks. I had to do that on my own. I’m the one who earned the grades that got me the scholarship. And I’m the one who landed the job in Chicago.

But still….

If I’m being totally honest. Sometimes, when I’m feeling tired or worn out or unsure, the idea of being rescued is an appealing one.

It reminds me of a recurring dream I had as a kid, when we moved away from the farm and into that trailer park. For an entire year I dreamt about a prince as handsome as my dad. He would ride into the park on his white stallion and rescue me from all that had happened. He would bring me back to Grandpa Dan’s farm. And he would make everything better.

But that was just a silly little girl dream.

I learned a long time ago that princes don’t exist.

***

I’d tear up, but I think the last thing Bethany would want is me feeling sorry for her and her little girl dream destroyed. Her story is poignant and uplifting.

You can preorder Wildflowers from Winter here:

Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Books a Million
ChristianBook.com
IndieBound
Lifeway
Mardel
Parable Christian Stores
Powell’s Books
Random House


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Shame – Bethany’s Story

I’ve loved reading a brand new book, Wildflowers from Winter by Katie Ganshert, which comes out next week! (So excited for her!) She had a series of posts where her main character, Bethany, borrowed her computer and she’s given me permission to repost one of them today.

After reading this, I was totally intrigued and loved getting to know Bethany better. Stop back by on Friday for another visit from Bethany as she’ll be discussing Redemption!

*****

Back in the beginning, when Katie was trying to get to know me, she asked me this question.

Are you ashamed of your past?

I just sort of stared at her.

First, because she was really starting to remind me of Dr. Nowels, sans the toupee. And in case you don’t know Dr. Nowels, let me assure you, the comparison is not meant to be flattering.

Second, because I thought the answer was obvious.

My past isn’t exactly something to be proud of.

I grew up in a trailer park with a mother who had to work third shifts at an aluminum plant. We drove a rusted out Pinto with a faulty muffler and I had to wear my brother’s hand-me-downs. I did one stupid thing when I was twelve and had to spend the next year in therapy. The next ten with a stigma that refused to go away.

Is it any wonder I left?

Nobody likes feeling shame. It’s not an endearing emotion.

When I explained all this to Katie, she raised her eyebrows and sucked on the end of her pen. Like whatever I’d said nudged an invisible puzzle piece into place.

I didn’t rise to the bait. I didn’t ask what she was thinking.

Because it doesn’t matter. I’m an architect, a really good architect. With a masters degree from Texas A&M. With a new car and closet full of nice clothes.

I’m well respected. I’m independent. And that stigma I had growing up? Nobody sees it here. I know how to hide it. In fact, I can almost pretend it never existed.

You’ll want to read Bethany’s story in Katie’s book Wildflowers from Winter. You can preorder now from:
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Books a Million
ChristianBook.com
IndieBound
Lifeway
Mardel
Parable Christian Stores
Powell’s Books
Random House