Kelly DeLeon is driving us to madness! In Madi's book, her character is the quietest and most understated. She's the one who wants everyone happy. In Wicked Allure, her character was great. In Scandalous Allure, her book, we're pulling our hair out. She's quiet and she's a little shy. Of course, like Madi and Brianna, she has her own issues with Karolyn, candidate for bad mother of the century. She's facing some serious challenges but she internalizes everything. She's damn hard to befriend. I think even Beau is getting a little frustrated with her. He just wants to get out of the dilemmas separating them and she's playing Pollyanna.
We apply something we've gone through in each of our books. I must tell you, even Karolyn is an amalgamation of several women we know and the product is, well, her, in all her hateful spite. Once upon a time, I was shy. I still have moments of shyness. And, yes, I want to make sure everyone's happy. You'd think having a character so close to one's own personality would be easy to write.
Think again. Kelly gets her feelings hurt very easily. I'm more prone to laugh at myself. To Karolyn, youth, beauty, and money is everything. She can't see beyond herself to help her daughters. On the other hand, my mother has always been there for my and I'm always there for my daughters. I try to instill in them brains is more important than beauty, that no one is perfect, and let nothing hold you back. I've told them don't fret over what is out of your hands and vanity is shallow and meaningless...
Hmm. Let me digress a moment here. The last part of that last statement above? The biggest lie I ever told. Case in point: My dentist once told me I needded braces, something I'd known for quite a while. Somehow, one of my bottom front teeth had loosened, so the braces would not only serve to set it back in place but it would also correct my underbite. I'm now in month 49 of what should've ended at month 36. Every time I'm subjected to chains and brackets and wires and rubber bands, I can only shake my head. Vanity thy name is Leslie. If I'm not vain, why do I suffer the Medieval torture devices?
As for not fretting over what's out of your hands...If I ever thought I was perfect or beautiful, (which I assure you I never have), my kids keep me grounded. With them, it is either put up or shut up. In late 2007, my vitiligo returned. This time, it isn't only a small patch on my back and hip, it has spread to my face. On and off, I've felt decidedly sorry for myself. In an effort to make me feel better, my three girls renamed a vegetable in my honor. About six months ago, cauliflower became vitiligo broccoli...
Applying such a problem to one of our characters might be just the thing. I can imagine Kelly having to toughen up and face her fears and insecurities. Growing up in the shadow of Karolyn, Brianna, and Madi seems to have wreaked havoc with her sense of self. Of course, we can do no such thing. Scandalous Allure will pick up only a couple days after the part where Wicked Allure ends. She didn't have vitiligo in the first book. Consistency is as important as well-rounded characters. I like characters who can show their weaknesses as well as their strengths. I want a HEA as much as the next person and the DeLeon sisters, as well as the Steele brothers, will find that by the conclusion of the series. But life isn't tied up in nice, neat little boxes, so I don't see why novels should be.
As most writers mention, our characters become like family. For them to show us their true selves, we must show them ours. Digging deep within and lending them the benefit of our life's experiences and the lessons learned from them.
In the upcoming Picture Perfect (1/21/2013, Liquid Silver Books, ISBN: 9781931761222), our heroine, Alexis Morgan, is attempting to recover from Hurricane Katrina and the turmoil of being the product of a single woman and a married man. In reality, we lost everything in Katrina and my father left my mom for another woman. A couple of the scenes from Alex's POV is taken from my own personal experiences.
In the March 2012 release, Wicked Allure, both my mom and I went through what Madigan went through with Zach. Our endings were not the same as Madi's, however.
Having said everything else, I land right back at Kelly's tight-lipped character. She knows about us. When in the world will she open up and let us know about her?
My mom and I write novels together. However, I write the blog. Sometimes, you may see 'we', 'ours' and 'I' and 'mine' in the same paragraph. I try to catch the errors, but I've noticed I don't find all of them. Many apologies. :-)
We all spent a bucolic afternoon taking photos on the iMac and listening to Christmas songs. (Yes, bucolic. I know the word refers to the countryside and rural life. There are wheat fields lining both roads you turn off to get to our house and cows, horses, goats, and roosters languishing nearby. There's also skunks, possums, and snakes.)
I'm preparing to watch the new Real Housewives of Atlanta and counting the days until the new episode of Scandal. I've attached one sheet of the many photos we took today. Have a great week!
I have much to be thankful for. My daughters. My mother. My family and my friends. My memories.
Thanksgiving Day allows me to bring my appreciation to the forefront of my thoughts.
I'm grateful for my family:
Over the past few weeks, I've thought a lot about Thanksgiving 2005 when we were thankful for the simplest of things. We were still living in a hotel, without a home, but we'd found our family again, we had each other, we had a roof over our heads, and we had our lives. There was much left to be done but the peace and love amongst us overflowed. Of course, we are like any other family, but, in the end, we love one another and I'm glad to call them my family.
I'm grateful for my mother and my daughters:
I listened to two songs tonight that made me feel nostalgic: Bette Midler's Wind Beneath My Wings and Celine Dion's Because You Loved Me. The first always brings to mind my mother and the second makes me think of my daughters. When my oldest daughter was a baby, I had to dance with her to put her to sleep. She'd laugh and giggle at the faster dances and, as we began to wind down, we ended the night with the Celine Dion song. It worked like magic and she'd fall asleep quickly, her cheek on my shoulder, her arms around my neck. Perhaps, the songs are interchangeable when I think of my mom and my girls. All four of them give me wind beneath my wings and I am all that I am because they love me. And because I love them.
I'm grateful for my friends:
Most of my old friends scattered to all points north, south, east, and west after Katrina but I've met new friends who have given me new memories and new experiences. I cherish all of you.
I'm grateful for my memories:
In our house, the day after Thanksgiving we began decorating for Christmas. It is as much of a tradition as Thanksgiving itself, one I grew up with and then have continued with my girls. Right after Christmas, we'd bring out the Mardi Gras decorations, listen to the songs, get ready for the balls and the parades, and eat King Cake. Thanksgiving not only brought our family together but it began a holiday season stretching to Fat Tuesday.
As I've gotten older, I've learned to take time each day to ponder my blessings. Each small appreciation reminds me of the bigger picture and of just how lucky I am to have the people who are in my life and to live in one of the greatest nations in the world.
From my family to yours, may you laugh with abandon, love without fear, and live with wind beneath your wings.
On and off, I have belonged to various book clubs: The Literary Guild, Book-of-the-Month, Doubleday, Rhapsody, Black Expressions and Harlequin. I enrolled my oldest daughter in her first book club when she was less than a year old. My mother began reading books to me when I was four months old. I began reading to all three of my daughters in utero. Therefore, when Zoey came to me in late 2007 and asked for a book called Twilight being offered through Children's Book-of-the-Month, I read the summary and...groaned. Vampires. I couldn't understand her growing fascination for all things paranormal. Her reading tastes were proving very different than mine. Which was great. But vampires? Werewolves? Ghosts?
Let me pause here and say I love all of the above as long as I can add romance at the end. Romances with vampires, werewolves and ghosts is a great big go. Otherwise, I'm a NOTORIOUS chicken. Beetlejuice stretched it for me. We stayed overnight at a Natchez, MS bed and breakfast for a booksigning. The b&b was an old house. Beautiful. But old. Added to that were the paintings of the 19th century family who owned the home. I swore their eyes followed me. You might not believe in the paranormal, but to each his own. ;-) I do. At the time, Zoey wasn't yet three. She and I slept in the bed closest to the door while my mom slept in the bed on the other side of the room. I was so bad, I refused to go to the bathroom, alone, in the middle of the night. Yep, I woke up my momma to come with me. HOWEVER, she was well aware if someone decided to pay a nostalgic, apparition-y visit to their home while I was there, if she hadn't reached the car by the time I did, she'd have to find another way home.
So here were we, eight years later, and Zoey wanted me to order a book about a coven of vampires and the human girl who enters their lives. I hate to admit, but, until then, I was clueless. After I read the summary, I was still clueless. I bought the book, though.
She devoured it.
Once she finished the book, she kept after me to read it. "Mommie, I know you're going to love it. You have to read it."
I peeked at the first page...and grimaced. It was in first person, until then an immediate deal-breaker for me. I set the book aside. After a few days of "I know you're going to love it if you read it", I gave in and decided I'd stick with it until the bitter end, even if my eyeballs exploded. She'd promised me it was "chicken-proof" and it was more romance than anything else.
I read Twilight and fell in love with it. I thought it would take me a week, or four, to read. I finished it in a day. Although I enjoyed the book, I didn't want to see the movie. I didn't want what I liked about the novel ruined in a screen adaptation. After a Tween worthy badgering, I brought Zoey to see the movie.
And fell in love with it. Out of the five movies, Twilight ended up being the only one, I didn't see on opening day. Twilight was also the only one Zoey and I went to the movies EIGHT times to watch. No, Twilight was the only movie I ever spent money on to watch eight times at a movie theater.
Since the Twilight books, I've read other recommendations by Zoey. Most recently, Andrea Cramer's Nightshade Series. They always were bonding experiences for us. But the Twilight Series were something special. Watching the final movie in the series was a bittersweet experience for me. It was the ending of an era, a poignant reminder of everything ending sooner or later. There will be no more countdowns to the next movie. No more logistical planning to arrive at the theater early enough to ensure you get into the first movie of the day but not too early where you have a long wait.
It was the ending of an era in another way, too. Zoey and I saw the movie with four thousand miles between us.
The end of one era always ushers in the beginning of a new one: Fifty Shades of Gray here I come.
I looked around with pride at the den, completely devoid of furniture, fresh, white paint on the walls, the old carpet removed. The scent of glue and vinyl hung heavily in the air, brought on by the newly laid linoleum. Replacing the carpet had banished the scent of children, dog, and cats.
I was proud that the project was finally completed. It had taken two days but the room looked new again.
As with everything, reality intruded. It happened fast, but oh-so-slowly as I unstuck my arm where it was glued to my shirt. I thought a good patch of skin would be left on the green material but it just gave me a very good wax job. I, of course, had bigger problems than just having my arm stuck to my clothes thanks to my resting the unsuspecting appendage at my side. I was nearly stuck to the floor.
I try not to wear shoes. Don’t get me wrong. I love killer heels but can only take them for so long having them on my feet. Therefore, as I laid the glue and scooted out of the way, the sticky stuff attached to my bare feet. Yes, it depended on which way my body was positioned, but, still…
Zoey, my oldest daughter, is always searching for a good FB moment. Before she left, I had to threaten her with dire retribution if she posted nine tenths of the things she wanted to post online about me. Unfortunately, for what I went through this was more You Tube, than Facebook. The pulling of my skin as I tore it away from my shirt would’ve been evidence enough that this was perfectly and painfully real, not to mention the crunchy sucking motion as I jerked my feet from the floor. Zoey decided to take “pity” on me. She said, “Momma, you’re a romance writer. What a glamorous life you live.”
Scroll down to the blog from May and you'll see the original welcome post. That's right! May! As in six months ago. I have Crystal Cuffley (Redheads Review It Better) & Regina Lavonne (Heartfelt Promos) to thank that it is finally going. Not touching the HTML also helped them and me. It seems like everytime I think I have HTML figured out, I actually try to make it work and discover buttons and badges all over the place. I even managed to delete myself as an admin on the blog. Jokes, curses, and tears aside, I'm going bananas because I can't figure out the basics of HTML. I promise myself one day I will.
2012 has been ... interesting for me. With about 47 days left to the year and 68 days left until the release of PICTURE PERFECT, I'm already starting a happy dance. I'm so grateful to have my family, friends, and fans. 'Til next time! Laissez les bon temps rouler!
To the one I love, who is far away, I miss you more each day. I didn't mean to make this rhyme, but, you know this happens some of the time. Your sisters and I switched exercise routines and, yes, I tried the Gangham thing. I'm sure you don't need to read the post below to know that dance just isn't for me. I had all the rhythm of a tree. :-)