Sunday, November 25, 2012

Life's Lessons Applied To Your Characters

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?

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