Thursday, May 12, 2011

Piggyback Post--Rooting for the Characters

I'm piggybacking my post today on my post from Seekerville on Wednesday. So please hop over there, if you would, and read that first. Then come back and I'll add to it! :) Click here.

Okay...are you back?? :) Thank you!

I wanted to share a couple more examples from the F.A.I.T.H. girls' books.

From Jennifer Hudson Taylor's Highland Blessings (skipping the prologue, excerpt of opening of Chapter 1):

Chapter One
April 1473

Akira MacKenzie willed her knees not to fail her. She watched Gregor Matheson’s blond head disappear through the astonished crowd that slowly parted for him. He would have made her a perfect husband, but now he deserted her, placing her safety in jeopardy once again.

She swallowed the rising lump in her throat and straightened her shoulders. Akira clasped her hands in front of her and turned to face the expectant gazes of her Scottish clan. Hushed murmurs flowed through the crowd until one by one their voices faded into the restless wind.

“`Twill be no wedding this day.” She allowed her strong voice to echo over her kinsmen. The earth vibrated, and thunder rumbled in the distance. Akira paused, but naught seemed amiss. Green hills and hidden valleys lay undisturbed, draped with wildflowers and tall grass that rippled in the gentle breeze. Strands of golden-red hair lifted from her shoulder and brushed against her face. She whisked a wayward lock from her eyes.

She turned to Father Mike for encouragement. He stood in a brown robe gathered with a rope cord tied at the waist around his thin frame. Holding a small book in the crook of his arm, he shook his graying head. His aging face held laugh lines around the corners of his eyes and mouth, but today his wrinkles were pulled into a sad frown. His soft brown eyes settled upon her with understanding. Akira wanted to run weeping into his arms, but she held herself still. More thunder rumbled and grew closer.

“’Tis the MacPhearsons!” A lone woman cried in alarm, pointing past where Akira stood on the grassy knoll.

Panic slashed through her clansmen, and they scattered to find shelter behind her father’s castle gates. Unarmed MacKenzies sought their weapons before the riders reached them. Expecting a wedding celebration, few were prepared for battle.

Akira turned. The thunder she had heard was an army of warriors descending upon them. A savage barbarian riding a fierce gray stallion charged toward her, his army in quick pursuit. Together, the lead warrior and stallion embodied power. He led them as befit a king, but when his gaze fixed on Akira, her blood ran cold.

The MacPhearson chief wanted his bride. Akira hated her fear of him as it took root and gripped her insides.

“Lord, give me strength,” she murmured.

Jenn did such a great job here of creating reader empathy. Akira is definitely a heroine in jeopardy. Is a victim of undeserved misfortune. And she's also strong--powerful in her resolve. So Jenn has employed three of Michael Hauge's techniques for eliciting reader emotion.

And from Jenn's upcoming book, Highland Sanctuary:

Highland Sanctuary

Chapter One

Scotland, 1457
The ordeal over, fragmented tremors still quaked through Evelina Broderwick's body. She gazed down at her new daughter. Now, she'd finally have someone who would truly love her. Tiny fingers curled. Evelina marveled at the wee nails. The other hand tightened into a fist and flew into the bairn’s mouth as she sucked on her knuckles.

“She’s beautiful is she not?” Tears clouded Evelina’s vision, overwhelming her by the magnitude of God’s gift of life.

Gunna, her wet nurse, peered closer at the babe swaddled in a warm blanket. “Aye, she is at that.”

“I believe I shall call her Serena after my Spanish grandmother. The lass has an English da and a Scottish mither—a mixture of noble blood from three countries.”

“Not a verra common name here in the lowlands,” Gunna’s round cheeks swelled in a smile as she nodded in agreement, “but lovely just the same.”
The bedchamber door swung open, casting dim light from the hallway candles. The shadow of a man’s tall frame bounced on the dark pine walls. Evelina tensed as her husband, Devlin Broderwick strode in with his usual frown. A dent marred his forehead. He towered over the bedside.

The midwife followed him and stood at the foot of the bed, folding her hands in front of her. The woman appeared to be in her mid-fifties, personally chosen by Devlin and quite loyal to the Broderwick family. Her dark gaze traveled from Evelina to Gunna and down at the infant.

“I’ve heard the unfortunate news.” Devlin’s sharp tone cut through the room like a blade through a gentle lamb.

Was a lass so terrible? Evelina glanced at the only window on the far right. The shutters were closed, blocking the night sky from view. She would like naught more than to escape the confines of her marriage, even if it meant taking sanctuary behind the walls of a convent for the rest of her days.

I wanted to share more of this opening scene, because Jenn goes on to set up a terrible misfortune for Evelina by putting her daughter in jeopardy. But already, we see a woman who's a victim--unloved and mistreated. We'll be rooting for her all the way!

From Lindi Peterson's novel, Her Best Catch:

They say fifty is the new thirty.
Which means in a couple of months when my mother turns fifty we’ll be almost the same age. I really don’t want to think about it. Especially since my mother’s acting sixteen and I’m feeling more like forty. This year I’d like to avoid the whole birthday deal entirely.
But I can’t. I’m throwing her a surprise party instead. Which is why I’m standing in Bubba Bob’s Barbecue placing a really big food order even though I’m supposed to be meeting my best friend Velvet for lunch in less than ten minutes.
Oh, well, Velvet is always late.
“Thanks for all your help, Bob,” I say, shoving the receipt and my checkbook into my bulging purse. Bob stands there smiling as I dig in the aforementioned purse for my keys. I would like to say that I’m not normally this unorganized, but that would be a lie. And good Christian girls don’t lie.
At least not intentionally.

Lindi does a great job of using Hauge's method of making a character funny. Allison Doll is so funny. And also very likable. I want her to be my best friend, too! Lindi also hints at a third method, showing Allison is a victim of undeserved misfortue: she's trying to plan a surprise birthday party for her mother while the woman is acting like she's sixteen. :)

If you're a writer, how do you make us care about your characters? If you're a reader, what makes you stand up and cheer?


  1. Hi Missy:

    I think we are on exactly the same wavelength when it comes to romance novels!

    Here’s a segment from my, August 2010, review of “Highland Blessings”:

    …what makes “Highland Blessings” extra special is the heroine, Akira.

    Like many romance heroines, Akira is at the center of the love story but unlike most other heroines, she is also at the center of the larger world she lives in. She is also an amazing young woman:

    She’s a healer.
    She’s a teacher.
    She’s a diplomat.
    She’s a swordsman.
    She’s a believer.
    She’s a seeker of peace.

    Akira is all these things with a passion that rings true throughout the entire story. She’s also a real woman. She fears and trembles at the thought of being whipped. She’s deeply hurt when disappointed. In her world she has the beauty of Helen of Troy but unlike Helen she’s fully willing to take up the sword and fight. She has the passion of Joan of Arc but she is also the heroine in a love story and deeply in love with the hero. Akira is one of my all time favorite romance heroines.

    We can pick a great heroine, can’t we!


  2. We sure can, Vince! Akira was amazing. :)

  3. I'm sorry we lost our comments when Blogger was down and the post was pulled.