Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Meeting a Character in Person

Readers make Blogging Fun

One of the best things about blogging is getting to know you readers through your comments. You are such an encouraging community for me. Writers spend a lot of time in "solitary confinement" while digging stories out of their heads. Of course, we're not totally alone. We have all those characters yanking on our imaginations trying to get our attention. 

Conflict Makes a Story

Sunday I wrote about how life can be messy even for fictional characters. I guess in stories, life has to be a little messy because if there's no problem, there's no story. Got to have conflict. Got to have something your characters are trying to defeat or achieve or perhaps simply survive. Once a writer decides what that conflict is going to be, then to make a story really good, the writer needs to keep making it harder and harder for the character to reach whatever goal is out there for him or her. You've got to throw some boulders in his way. That's true even if the story isn't suspense or mystery. In romance, the characters have to overcome whatever obstacles stand in the way of love. In my work in progress, I'm a little worried I have set up some obstacles too big for love to come calling. That's the trouble with writing books set in my Shaker village. The Shakers took many pains to eliminate romance from their society. 

An Encouraging Comment

But back to your encouraging comments. I got one of those Sunday from Lisa. I shared it on my Facebook page on Mailbag Tuesday, but one thing she said set off an idea for tonight's post. Here's her sentence. "We even said if we met one of your characters on the street, we think we would recognize them!"

That's a really nice compliment. It sounds fun to think about meeting my characters. I know I'd be ready to listen to some Jupiter stories from Wes the way Jocie does in the Heart of Hollyhill books. And it wouldn't be so bad to sit in Mount Pleasant Church and hear her dad preach a sermon or two or be there for a Christmas program with Miss Sally directing. Of course, I do sit in a little church on Sundays that is a whole lot like the Mount Pleasant Church. 

Meeting a Character in Real Life

But once, I did meet one of my characters - not on the street but in a restaurant - and I knew her at once. We were in one of those buffet restaurants (my husband's favorite eating places) and in walked Fern. If you've read my Rosey Corner books (Angel Sister and Small Town Girl) you know Fern. She's also hanging around for a big role in my third Rosey Corner book coming in July, Love Comes Home. But in case you haven't read one of the Rosey Corner books, here's the first time we actually see Fern in Angel Sister.

The skin on Fern's face was weathered and mottled with broken red veins on her high cheekbones, and her steel gray hair looked for all the world as if it was trying to escape from her scalp. The blue of her eyes had faded like old work jeans and had an unfocused, almost feral look. She wore a pair of overalls with big holes in the knees she'd probably stolen off somebody's clothesline years ago. Under the overalls was a dirty white slip. She didn't carry any extra weight, but she'd long ago lost her delicate look. She spent her days cutting cedars now to make her cedar houses instead of sipping tea and doing needlework. 

And so, I was in that restaurant eating lunch a couple of years ago when in walks Fern. She had on overalls over a flannel shirt instead of a slip. Her hair was that steel gray and she didn't look as if she cared whether it was combed or not. She was a little heavier than my fictional Fern and she didn't have the little axe Fern carried around with her. At least I don't think she did! 

The book had already been out a couple of years when I spotted this real life Fern, but it was an interesting experience to see somebody I'd created in my imagination have such a near double in real life. That was before I had a phone that took pictures so I couldn't even sneak a picture of her. I might have been afraid to anyway. My Fern in Rosey Corner is nobody to mess with. And that real life Fern looked the same. 

Invite a Character to Lunch?

So, have you read stories where you think you might like to meet the characters on the street or maybe invite them home for lunch to find out pieces of their stories that might not have been in the book?

Chances to Win Summer of Joy

In case you missed out on winning Summer of Joy in my recent giveaways, you've got some more chances this week. You can check out my guest post "Chasing the Writing Dream through Rejection Valley and Beyond" and leave a comment on Charity's Giveaway Lady blog for a chance to win. Deadline the April 9. Then if you're a Book Club Network participant, Revell Books is giving away 5 copies of Summer of Joy. You just have to answer one of my easy questions on the The Book Club Network page. Dealine to enter 03/31. I'll also be a guest post Thursday on Nora's blog Finding Hope through Fiction where I talk all about my small town inspiration for Hollyhill. Last I'm doing a interview about dreaming on Betty Owens' blog Thursday. 

As always, thanks for reading!! 


  1. Hi Ann. many characters do stay with you , have never looked for them on the streets though that was need story you finding Fern. I have seen folks that looked lot like ones I knew.
    Just this week I read of a young woman passing that lived in Lawrenceburg and wrote also by the name of Teresa Phillips, did you know her? she was in 40's so young to die. I am going to see if I can find her work and look at it.
    My sister had moved to Louisville hosp for evaluation and test for 10 days and now is in Bardstown Ky. I am so worried about her and feel so helpless being so far away. She has two daughters and I only hope and pray they keep up with her.
    I do hope your Mom is doing OK for now. I know your heart hurst for her too.
    Paula O

    1. Always appreciate your comments, Paula, and that you track me down on my guest posts on other people's blogs too. That's so nice.

      I did know Teresa. She also went by and sometimes wrote under the name Sicily Yoder. She was a sweet woman and definitely young to pass on. She had the flu, had been to the doctor, but I suppose she didn't realize how sick she was and didn't call for help. I think she lived alone, but I'm not sure about that. Sad, at any rate. She wrote some Amish type books. I've never read any of them so can't say how they are.

      So sorry your sister is having such troubles, but with her daughters near, she will probably have people watching over her. But there's no one like a sister to help, and prayers are a great way to help.

      Mom is struggling, but doing okay. I may write about her on Sunday.


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