One of my favorite upcoming scenes

A little treat for you tonight… Another character sketch coming tomorrow.

______________________________________________________________________________________________

“You don’t have to say anything. I just wanted to have a nice dinner with my husband.”

 

He took the drink and his love was evident in the way he looked at her.

“It’s because of you,” he said simply.

She took a drink and put the glass down before she looked at him.

“What?”

He took a drink and put his glass down, too.

“Everything I am is because of you. Every morning I wake up and look at my day with happiness because I know I get to begin and end it with you. Stephanie, everything I ever wanted in life has come true because you found it fit to love me. You took every idea I had about what my life was worth and you blew it out of the water. You love me despite my incessant need to be right and my overprotective nature. You tolerate my chauvinistic attitude when it comes to our daughters and you keep me in line when I lose the ability to be objective.”

He ran his fingers up and down her arms and his eyelids lowered.

“When you touch my body, I feel like I could devour you,” he moved to kiss her shoulder. “When you arch your back under me, I feel like I could truly lose myself within you. When you allow me to love you, I feel like the man I always hoped to be.”

Leave a Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Okay…who should we do next?

Bill?

Tommy?

Julie?

Mike?

Evan/Elizabeth?

Nate/Juliana/David?

 

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Jade Sorad

One of the characters I think I feel most protective over is Jade. I see examples of Jade in so many of my students and it breaks my heart. I am also Jade. Many of us are Jade.

Writing a story that takes place with so many doctors, it was obvious to me I needed nurses. I have written some that show up here and there (Brooke is one) and others I never name. I wrote Jade to be special. I wanted her to interact more with the characters but until the series went on, I didn’t know how. She appears in each and every book in the series. Sometimes as a nurse with Brittany. Sometimes as a babysitter. Sometimes watching and caring for Tramp. She was always there for everyone and it was her pleasure to help. She loved them all and that was truly sincere. She was also deeply lonely.

That’s why I’m so protective of Jade. She is the one who is always there, who everyone relies on, but who never feels comfortable enough to truly join the conversation. She is an observer. She is compassionate. She is giving. She is loyal. And she has a story behind her that would break the strongest person.

I wrote a lot of myself in Jade. Not in her back story, but in her interests. (And her boobs- those are mine). :)

Her work as a Veterinary Tech came directly from me and “Peeps” was my “Fluff”. I grew up with cockatiels and they are the sweetest birds. I now have an Amazon Parrot, but he hasn’t made an appearance into the series…yet :)

When I thought about Jade, I struggled finding her story. I wondered why she was so isolated. I wondered what her history was. She wouldn’t tell me. Nothing seemed to fit. It was more than shyness, Jade had been traumatized and I owed it to her to get that out.

One of my favorite moments in learning about Jade came in a small scene that many may have glossed over. She spoke to Brooke in book 11 “No Surrender”

Being told she was old for her age was a common reaction when people met Jade. At only 27, Jade had lived a lifetime of challenges. She lived for her work as a nurse and her specialty of neonatology was everything she had hoped it would be. She tightened her blonde ponytail and sighed. Her scrubs were a little too tight and she knew she needed to eat better and watch her weight. Never having been thin, Jade was curvy, and although told she was cute, had always struggled with her weight and subsequent body image. What happened in her past didn’t help that, and she knew it.

“Jade? I thought you left,” Brooke said.

Jade smiled at her friend and trauma nurse.

“I heard there was a trauma coming in and I just wanted to make sure I wasn’t needed before I left.”

Brooke smiled at her and sat down. “You are allowed to go home. You need to get a life outside of this place.”

Jade hated that. Brooke didn’t know anything about her.

“I’m good, but thanks.”

This small conversation set up a bunch of issues for Jade: her body issues, her past, her self consciousness. There is also nothing worse than having someone point out how they feel you should live. Most who do that have no idea of the struggles we face. Brooke was being nice, but it hit Jade in a place that was already raw.

At the same time the readers were learning more about Jade, Mike was going through the worst moments of his life. Like Jade, I struggled with Mike. I had written him with Rebecca because I wanted him to have someone like Bill had Julie. I wanted his life to be happy and I hoped she would be that person.

But, like Mike, I ignored a lot of the signs. I never felt Rebecca loved Mike. I could never write their scenes well because she just didn’t feel genuine to me. I ignored it for a few books, like Mike did, but suddenly, it all became clear.

I couldn’t write Rebecca and Mike because Jade was waiting for him and he was waiting for her. This is why people call writers “weird or eccentric”. I call it inspiration. When something isn’t working, you can’t force it. You have to listen to the characters and even if they aren’t saying what you want to hear, sometimes it’s important.

I listened to Mike and I listened to Jade.

And another romance was born.

Back to Jade…

From where I sat, Jade was so far from being ready to be in a relationship, that I wasn’t sure how to get her there. I had to uncover her story and I had to make her, somehow, share it with Mike. That was hard, because I could barely get her to share it with me.

Again- I get it. I’m the writer. How do I not know what the character is dealing with…

I do, but I had to listen to what was hard to hear.

Thrusting Jade in the middle of the Mike and Rebecca breakup was key. Obviously, I needed Rebecca to target Jade, but more importantly, I had to show Jade becoming more confident just by talking to Mike. She was different with him than anyone else. Maybe because he was so hurt, both physically and emotionally, that she had nothing to hide. He wasn’t able to see anything through his pain.

As an observer, Jade saw Rebecca’s true colors. Hell, everyone saw them. One of my favorite scenes was when Julie confronted Rebecca, but I digress… I’ll share more with Julie’s story :)

Rebecca was desperate and scared and those two things became lethal. Mike would have probably stayed in a loveless marriage for a long time because, like Jade, he had a lot of trouble believing his worth. He was also such a traditional believer in the sanctity of the vows he made. He looked at leaving his marriage as a failure. He felt he owed Rebecca everything for all he put her through with being away.

Something needed to change.

Rebecca putting Bill and his family in danger was something Mike would never tolerate. Having Rebecca be the leak in the investigation was integral to opening Mike’s eyes to the horrible person she was. The last dagger was making Jimmy, Nick’s son.

Mike was at the lowest point he had ever been and there was nothing anyone could say to help him. One of my favorite moments that showcased just how bad it was and where Jade fit in was here:

“Can I get you anything?” Jade knocked lightly and Mike jumped.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to startle you,” Jade apologized and Tramp ran into the room and urfed at Mike.

“I’m fine. I just want to be alone, thanks,” Mike said and turned back to the window.

Jade sighed. She should leave, but she just couldn’t.

“Okay, but I need to make sure you’re eating, so I’ll bring in some snacks and then you can be alone,” she turned and went to grab the tray before he could object. She walked in and placed the food near him and stood back.

“Thanks, but I’m good.”

“Okay,” she repeated and stood for a minute before she turned to leave.

“Do you think I’m a loser?” Mike asked quietly.

Jade turned and met his gaze.

“No, not at all.”

He nodded and turned back to the window.

Jade walked closer to him and hesitated before she spoke.

“If I might be so bold, I would say you are someone of immense strength.”

He turned to face her and his eyes were wet.

“You’re so wrong. You don’t even know me.”

Jade sat down on the chair in the room a little away from him and Tramp jumped on her lap. She smiled at him and then looked at Mike.

“You don’t know me either, so I don’t think you can make judgments about what I know and whether or not I’m wrong,” she shrugged and Mike smiled.

“Point taken.”

“Will you eat something?”

He sighed.

“I don’t have an appetite.”

Jade got up and Tramp jumped on the bed and watched them.

“It’s when you have no appetite that it’s most important to eat,” she handed him a sandwich.

He took the plate and wiped his eyes.

“What is it?” she sat closer to him.

“I don’t know the last time anyone cared if I ate anything.” He put the plate down and put his face in his hands.

Jade felt her own eyes fill with tears.

“I’m sorry,” she said.

“Please leave me alone,” he said, completely embarrassed.

She nodded and left.

This was huge for Jade because what he said hit her hard. She knew that embarrassment. She knew his pain.

Setting up a romance when two people are so completely against it can be a recipe for disaster. I didn’t want to have a moment where they looked at each other and the passion just erupted. So cliché.

That wasn’t Mike. That certainly wasn’t Jade.

Something I rarely do is write a scene out of order, but with Mike and Jade. I did. I knew I wanted him to find her at the campgrounds. I knew she would be in trouble. I knew she would say something that would stick with him. I wrote that scene a long time before they got there in the series, but I was important. I just had to get them there.

I still adore this moment:

“It’s okay. I’m here. I’ve got you,” he said softly.

“You’re such a good man. I always wondered what it would be like to lie in your arms,” she murmured before she blacked out, her head rolling back.

He held her to him and felt his heart breaking. “You just hold on for me, okay? Jade?”

For Mike, this was a shock. Someone liked him? Someone thought about him?

Still, something was missing.

There needed to be a start. I needed a way to bring them together. I needed something for them to share that was not a part of  the group.

I have never really brought religion into the series. I have the occasional scene where someone goes to the chapel to pray, but nothing more. Making Jade and Mike Jewish allowed me to create something they could share that was unique and important. Giving Mike the Mezuzah was a way for Jade to try to make his lonely apartment a home. When he found it in the bag she left, it meant the world to him.

I was also able to introduce Elaine as Mike’s mother in a way that honored my own Grandmas.

It’s not that I suddenly wanted to bring religion into the series, but it gave Mike and Jade an opening.

It broke the ice.

I still hadn’t revealed Jade’s back story and I decided the first time we heard it would be when she finally told Mike. I wanted our reaction to be like his. I knew she would never just tell him, and something had to happen for her to do it.

She began to come around and he remembered to breathe. She opened her eyes and looked up into his before she realized she was wearing a towel and nothing else.

“Oh God, I need to cover up,” panic filled her body as she sat up and pulled the towel more around her. She began to shake as the cold air hit her body.

“What? You’re covered,” he looked at her. “Why didn’t you wake me up? How long have you been on the floor?”

“Can you let me get dressed? I’m okay now,” she said as her eyes filled with tears, her face burning with shame.

“Jade, will you let me help you? Please?” he was desperate to break through her walls.

“Mike, please leave and let me get dressed,” she sobbed, desperately trying to cover her body. “Please.”

He sighed and nodded, getting up and walking out, closing the door behind him. He realized his shirt was half open and a look of understanding crossed his face. Feeling sick, he held it closed and sat down.

Jade got up and quickly pulled some clothes on; a long sleeve t-shirt and yoga pants. She felt sick to her stomach and fully expected Mike to be gone when she walked out. She brushed her hair and put the towels over the railing in the bathroom before she walked out.

Mike stood up when she came out and she looked down as she walked to the couch. He sat on the chair and waited, hating that she couldn’t even look at him.

“I owe you an explanation,” she said as she finally met his gaze.

He shook his head and smiled.

“You don’t owe me anything. I pushed my way here and it’s obvious you are really uncomfortable around me. I don’t want to leave you alone, so I’ll call Julie and I’m sure she can come over for tonight,” he stood up and crossed his arms.

“I’m really sorry I put you in this position. I guess I just wanted to help you,” he looked at her and sighed. “Just so you know, I would never make you look at me. I know my injuries were bad, and I know it’s not something you should have to look at, but I didn’t realize my shirt was ripped. I’m truly sorry.”

She was stunned.

“What? What do you mean your injuries?”

He shrugged.

“I just figured you were afraid I was going to take my shirt off and you would have to see the scars from what happened. I just wanted you to know that I wasn’t going to do that. I would never do that, you know, force you to look at me.”

This still gets me when I read it because Jade was so caught up in her own fears, it never occurred to her that Mike had similar issues. It also showed her that he looked at her with respect and simply didn’t understand what she was afraid of.

It led to my favorite kiss of the whole series. I know that sounds strange, but it’s true. I simply adore Mike’s love for Jade and through her realization that he simply wants her for her, Jade came alive.

Hearing what Jade went through explained a lot about her behaviors. It also helped to know why she felt such a kinship to Brittany.

Jade still struggles with self esteem. Mike’s love has helped her to grow in so many ways, but damage like she went through doesn’t just disappear. We always hear the negatives way louder than the positives. That’s why it’s important to compliment people. It’s nice. It’s unexpected.

I know this is getting long, but there are a few more things I wanted to share, Making Jade’s last name Sorad was important. Sorad means “Survivor” in Hebrew and I wanted that to be something Elaine picked up on. She became such a positive influence in Jade’s life and their connection is something I adore. I laughed when Mike had no idea what that meant. Elaine had her hands full with Mike growing up.

Being an orphan and never being adopted left Jade with a lot of worries. She was never able to make memories with a family and she lacked traditions. Mike’s proposal was another idea I had early on. He gave her those “memories”. He started her traditions.

Mike and Jade’s first love scene was one of the hardest I’ve written. Up until that point, Brittany and Tommy’s first time was the most challenging, but for different reasons.

Jade was scared that when he saw everything, he would be turned off.

Mike was afraid when she saw everything, she would leave.

The two of them make me crazy at times.

There is a lot more to Jade. She is now a wife and mother and her health is a big concern. She is not over her insecurities and she may never be, but she is a work in progress.

I think those characters are the best kind.

 

Thank you for reading! Who do you want next?

 

 

 

 

 

4 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Who do you want tomorrow?

Tommy?

Bill?

Julie?

Mike?

Jade?

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Jack Stephens and Stephanie Brown

Jack. What can I say about him? He is my anchor character and he and Stephanie are my anchor couple. It always comes back to them.

When I created Jack, I had a few concerns. I didn’t want to go along the obvious route. Hotshot arrogant surgeon with looks to match his abilities. Sleeps with anything that walks and cares about nothing until one woman gets to his heart.

Ugh. I had to make him different. I needed the persona to be different from the man and I needed the readers to know that right away.

Jack is handsome and he knows it. He is also arrogant and proud of it. He likes women and that’s no secret. The difference came with his back story.

He had raised Julie with his best friend and was a grounded, caring, fiercely loyal man with a heart of gold. He felt abandoned by his father and never got over the loss of his mother.

Making Jack a cardiac surgeon was never a choice. I couldn’t see him as anything else.

It’s funny. When I teach my students a small unit on character development, I always give them a few paragraphs from the beginning of Nothing Matters. I don’t tell them anything and I ask them what we know about the main character. What do they think will happen and where is the story going.

I get a lot of interesting responses…

He’s a jerk, but it’s an act.

He’s handsome and lots of women want him.

He deletes the messages from the women, so he wants something more.

He’s in love with his friend Tommy. (I always smile at that one).

They also ask if the woman he finds on the ledge jumps. They want to know if it’s going to be like a CSI episode.

I have also gotten interesting reviews for the book. One even called Jack a “man whore”. That bothered me. We don’t call them women whores, so what’s with the man title? :)

One also said he cries too much. Sensitivity in a man isn’t so bad, but to each his or her own.

Anyway, I love hearing what people think about my characters because it lets me know what’s working and what isn’t. One of the most crushing things a beta reader ever told me after reading a little of “If Only” was that they didn’t like Brittany and didn’t care what happened to her. I had to take a break after that one- I was really hurt.

It did make me realize that what was in my head obviously wasn’t coming out on paper and I needed to fix that. I did. I think a few more people care about her now.

Back to Jack.

Finding Stephanie on the ledge was important because it was a jarring moment. He couldn’t walk away. He was inexplicably drawn to her and it was so “unJack like” but so true to who I knew was inside of him.

What I loved, was that Stephanie didn’t care who he was or what he did. She didn’t care that he was handsome or accomplished. She wasn’t playing hard to get, she was deep within her own pain and that allowed Jack to show her his true self. He wasn’t trying to impress her because she wasn’t interested. He simply had to be honest and bare because that’s the only thing that would help her.

One of my favorites parts from the beginning of Jack’s story:

Jack rubbed his eyes and sat back down. “Do you want me to leave you alone? I mean; I don’t know why I am here. You haven’t said a word to me, except that you already died, which is not true, and you don’t respond to anything I say or do. I should be home enjoying my day off, and here I am, sitting in a room with a person I don’t know, for reasons I can’t figure out,” Jack stood up and walked to the window and turned to look at her. “You know, this isn’t my style. I don’t have to work to get women to talk to me. You should be fawning over the fact that I am devoting so much attention to you,” he smiled. “Didn’t work, huh? The arrogance usually gets a response,” he sighed. “Okay, I’ll see you around,” he waited a minute and walked out, feeling utterly helpless.

He was in trouble and he knew it. The issue was that he couldn’t help her and it killed him. He needed a way in, but he didn’t know why.

Jack, to me, was a unique character. I never wanted him to lose his edge as a surgeon or his arrogance about life when he found Stephanie. I love both of those things and to be honest, they make Jack, well, Jack.

Stephanie

I have the hardest time with Stephanie because much of her life comes from personal experience. I have never been on a ledge and thankfully, I have never watched my best friend die, but I have been around people like Josh. I think we all have. Whenever someone is diagnosed with a disease like MS, the questions never stop. It is a disease that can only be described as unpredictable. One day a person may have one symptom and the next day it may be something else. The idea that you wake up feeling a certain way and suddenly something changes is a feeling that can cause anxiety and it’s hard for others to understand because you “look” fine. You don’t “look” sick. (I HATE when people say that.)

What Josh did to Stephanie while in Paris was cruel, of course, but it hit on her worst fears. What if he was right. Was she selfish living with Nikki? Was she selfish to want a career when she may not be able to work? Was she holding others back? Being an orthopedic specialist required a lot of physical effort and she was a tiny woman, already. Was she ridiculous in pursuing this career?

Hearing those things over and over, even by an asshole like Josh, doesn’t mean you don’t start believing them.

When I was diagnosed, I wasn’t sure I would ever work again. I thought every ache or strange feeling was a worsening of my condition. I figured I would be wheelchair bound in no time and life as I imagined it was over. Forget teaching. Forget everything.

I relate to Stephanie in so many ways because she just didn’t know.

Losing Nikki confirmed her worst fears.

She brought nothing but sadness to those she loved.

Seeing Jack come on the ledge with her wasn’t something she could comprehend. It didn’t matter who he was or what he said. She was set on a path of self destruction and no white knight could save her.

Like Stephanie, I needed time. I needed to realize that who I was with the diagnosis wasn’t different from who I was before. In fact, I probably had MS much longer than we knew and I had lived a pretty productive life up until then. I needed to believe in myself and get out of my own head.

So did Stephanie.

When she began to let Jack in, slowly, she began to feel again. She saw a new Stephanie in how he looked at her and when he found everything out, he didn’t run. He stayed and he cared.

That was everything.

I received a review once that said the person was incredibly disappointed in how I write Stephanie’s MS. It was obvious I had no idea what I was talking about and it was insulting. I filed that away and kept writing.

Everyone’s experiences are different.

One of my favorite moments when they were first together was when Jack poured his heart out.

Jack took a deep breath, not quite sure of how to proceed. He walked over to the couch and sat down. “I have listened to your self loathing long enough to know a few things. Nobody is perfect. We all have flaws and imperfections in our character and our actions. I am a womanizer who has been with more women than I care to remember. I treat affection like it is my right to receive and I can’t remember the last time I ever thought of another person with any regard other than what they could do for me. I have missed everything about living while I have just existed. When I found you on the roof, something snapped in me. It was like I saw myself on the ledge and if you gave up, well it would just mean that the kind of life I was living was all there was. I needed to help you, to make you feel safe, to make my existence more than just a pretty face. I can’t believe I’m telling you any of this, I have never had a conversation with anyone that has been this revealing, but there is just something about you,” Jack felt very uncomfortable and self-conscious suddenly and stood up. “I’ll be back, I just need a, something,” he walked out of the room and closed the door behind him.

I loved this because Jack was suddenly real. Jack, the strong arrogant amazing man was so affected by her, that he couldn’t deal with it. It showed him, that no matter what, he needed her.

A major part of Nothing Matters was also the introduction of Ron and Jenny.

Jenny came first, helping Stephanie with her burns and giving Jack a context to his life growing up. Bringing Ron back was completely selfish on my part.

Ron had liver cancer like my dad. Unlike my dad, Ron survived.

Having them find Ron in a Paris café during a robbery was a way to add more drama (I know, I have enough) but it enabled the shock of seeing him to sink in before any confrontation happened. Stephanie was integral when it came to Jack allowing his father to be a part of his life and it has allowed an amazing relationship to grow. Putting him with Jenny helped Jack see his father in a new light. He loved and respected Jenny, and she loved and respected Ron, so perhaps he needed to look harder.

I also loved the scene where Tommy met Stephanie for the first time.

“Excuse me, am I interrupting?” Tommy stood at the doorway.

Jack grinned. “No, come on in,” he looked at Stephanie. “This is Tommy, my best friend. He is a Pediatric Surgeon at U of M, but I am trying to get him to apply to head up the new Mott’s Children’s Hospital Surgical Wing.

“Jack is a bit relentless when it comes to that,” the handsome doctor walked over and shook Stephanie’s hand. “It is very nice to meet you.”

Stephanie smiled and looked between the two men. They looked like brothers, Jack a touch taller than Tommy. “It’s great to meet you, too. How long have you known each other?” she relished learning something of Jack’s past.

“We met when we were 6 and Jack stole my girlfriend,” Tommy smirked.

Jack laughed. “Right, she was my girlfriend and you stole her.”

“No, I just let you have her because she kept eating my cookies,” Tommy looked at Stephanie. “You should never steal a man’s cookies.” 

She laughed for the first time in a long time. “I’ll keep that in mind,” she liked Tommy. He was warm and funny and she could see the respect the two men had for each other.

“I don’t like to say it often, but Tommy suffers from delusions. I have tried to get him help,” Jack ducked as Tommy went to smack him.

“Whatever man,” he grinned and looked out into the hallway. “There’s that nurse from earlier. I am going to ask if she’s single,” he smiled as he walked out.

Jack shook his head. “That’s Tommy for you.”

Stephanie grinned. “I like him. He is funny and cute.”

“Cute?” Jack pretended to be hurt. “He isn’t cute.”

She smiled as she closed her eyes. “He is cute, but you are handsome. There is a difference.”

So much of Jack and Stephanie’s story after book 1 turned into being the strong bond that guided the rest of the couples. I adore that about them because it’s true.

And then this happened:

Jack walked into the room and smiled at the sight before him. Stephanie was sitting up in bed with their daughter and she was examining the little baby. He walked up to the bed. “What are you doing?”

“Checking her, making sure she has 10 fingers and 10 toes. She has 15 hairs on the top of her head and if you watch her closely, I think she has a dimple. Come here,” Stephanie smiled at her husband.

Jack sat on the bed as Stephanie moved over a little to make room. He leaned his head next to Stephanie’s and they looked at their daughter. He was choked up, as he had been numerous times in the past few hours. He still couldn’t believe she was real. Stephanie looked at him. “Why don’t you take her for a bit?”

He swallowed and gently took her in his arms. He sat back and looked at his sleeping baby. “She looks like a doll,” he whispered.

Stephanie leaned her head on his shoulder. “She is the best of both of us.” The baby yawned and both parents marveled at her.

“Was that her first yawn?” Jack asked. “Should we write it down?”

Stephanie laughed and held her stomach. “No and no. She has yawned about a million times. Apparently being born really wipes you out. So, don’t you think she needs a name? Baby girl Stephens just doesn’t do her justice.”

He nodded. “I agree. Are you set on what we talked about?”

She smiled. “I am, but I think we should ask her.”

He smiled. “I agree,” he looked at his baby girl. “Sabrina Amanda Stephens. Is that a name worthy of such a beautiful girl?”

Stephanie smiled. “What do you think, little Bee? Is that okay with you?”

“Bee?” Jack smiled. “Cute. I think it’s perfect,” he looked at little Sabrina and his heart swelled. “I hope you know how excited we are to meet you. Your mommy and I have been so anxious for you to arrive. Apparently you were, too, because you got here a little early. But we’re ready and we are so excited. I can’t wait to show you off.”

Introducing Bee was a game changer. She is feisty and opinionated and just like her dad. I had such fun writing her as a baby, being attached to every man and causing Jack so many gray hairs. The thing I loved about writing Sabrina as a baby is that she added an element to the series that was light and fun in the midst of the tragedies. Her love affair with David is my favorite.

In “Red” you will see a different side to Sabrina and David. I’m curious what you will think.

Not to be outdone, we have this:

Evan ran to them and motioned for them to follow. He led them to the darkened area and Jack saw Stephanie in the bed. He dropped the bag and ran to her. “Stephanie? Baby are you okay?” he cried as he looked at her. She was lying with the oxygen on her face and in her arms was a perfect tiny little girl. “I’m so glad you’re here,” she said softly. “Look what we did,” her face beamed as she handed him their daughter. Jack was overcome with emotion when he took his daughter in his arms. She was beautiful and perfect and she blinked as she looked at her father.

“We would like to introduce you to Tessa Blair Stephens. Tessa after her uncle Tommy who has already proven to be her protector. She will learn strength and honor from you and she will always know there is a safe place for her to go.” Jack said and his chin quivered. “Blair after her Uncle Bill. She will know the true meaning of family by watching how you and Julie love each other. She will know how important it is to be honest and honorable. She will learn the value of trust and the importance of laughter. She will always be safe and loved and there will never be a time where she will feel alone because of her Uncle Bill and Uncle Tommy.”
Giving birth in a mall during a storm was perfect. For some reason, I always knew Tommy would deliver Tessa. I don’t know why, but I had that scene in my head long before Tessa was born.

She is all Stephanie and Bee is all Jack. Both girls have beautiful hearts and strong personalities and I can’t wait to watch them grow up.

Another of my favorites…

“Well your daughter is deciding that what she wants to eat and what I want her to eat are not the same thing,” she smiled at Bee who giggled and slammed her hands on the highchair table.

Jack laughed. “I see, so what does she want to eat?”

Stephanie sighed. “Bananas and carrots and nothing else,” she looked at her husband and her eyes twinkled. “Do you know what I just realized?”

He sat down. “What’s that?”

“Both of those foods are very distinctly shaped,” Stephanie said with a grin.

Jack choked on his water and held his middle.

“Oh, I’m sorry,” Stephanie laughed and rubbed his back.

“That wasn’t funny.”

She glanced at him. “It kind of was.”

I also adore writing how Tessa loves Mike.

So, there you have it. Some insight on Jack and Stephanie. Who should I write next?

Comments?

 

 

 

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Ironic?

Poor Tommy…always coming in second to Jack :)

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Jack and Stephanie?

So far, all of the votes here and on facebook for your favorite book are going to Jack and Stephanie (Nothing Matters). I am stunned and I wonder if I need to write a blog on them instead of Tommy:)

By the way- I adore Jack and Stephanie, too.

Keep the comments coming!

3 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Thank you for reading…a gift for you

Thanks for the feedback on my last post. My “Tommy” post is coming soon. In the meantime,

Which book in the series has been your favorite? Can you tell me why? I would love to read your comments…

Also- “Broken” is free (ebook) until Friday. If you click on the picture below and enter coupon code L54CQ at checkout, it’s yours! Feel free to share the info.

BROKEN_2 copy

 

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

If music be the food of love…play on.

I get asked so often to describe the heroine of my stories. I know they mean Brittany and I always struggle. I adore Stephanie and Julie and Jade and Elizabeth and every other woman who is a strong fierce presence in this series, but I’ve always struggled with putting Brittany into words. (This is a problem when taking to publishers).

I realize how ridiculous that sounds because she only exists in words, but let me try and explain.

Book 18 is a culmination of Brittany’s story. It’s a turning point in her character and it’s incredibly important and deeply painful. I look at Brittany like I look at my own life. She has lived two distinct realities. One as Barbara and one as Brittany. I feel a kinship with her because I feel, in a way, I have lived two lives. I lived before writing and I’ve lived after.

Before writing, I was a normal kid with loving parents and friends and lots of quirks that I know gave my parents a ton of stress. I was not a good student and I struggled a lot with where I fit in. My mom must have thought she had a tumor with how I attached myself to her and I went through intense separation anxiety. I adored animals and worked in a pet store in high school and tried to bring home every stray I could. I’m sure my mom can tell you all about “Albert” the chicken I kept after the biology experiment in high school. We were supposed to give the chicks back after it was over, but Albert had bonded with me and I him. I couldn’t watch him go to the big bad place, so I kept him- in my bedroom. (Mind you- my favorite food has always been chicken, but I digress). They weren’t getting Albert.

Well, a cute chick is one thing, but a full grown chicken who pecks and poops everywhere is another, especially when you move into an apartment. Eventually, Albert had to go, but I found a family friend who had a farm and assured me Albert would not be made into food. I believed them and I stay with that. I pray I have never eaten Albert…

I also took in 2 chicks from the veterinary hospital where I worked. They needed extra care before they were taken to a farm, so I took them in. I named them “Shake” and “Bake”. What can I say- I have a messed up sense of humor.

I think I owe my mom another thank you for allowing my chicken phase and don’t be surprised when one of the children in the novels brings home their own ‘friend’. My money is on Tessa.

Back to Brittany, and how we are alike.

Once I got into college (which was a miracle in itself) I worked as a nanny for twin boys the first year. I commuted to school, lived at home and joined a sorority. For someone who already struggled in class, this was a challenge, but something pretty amazing began to happen.

I grew up. I finally found something that truly made me happy and I went for it. I had always loved to sing and I was in very minor community theatre engagements. I began to pursue a degree in theatre along with my degree in Literature and I decided to audition for AMDA (American musical and dramatics academy) in New York City.

They didn’t audition in Detroit, so I had to go to Chicago and prepare a song and two monologues to perform. It was the scariest thing I ever did and I will never forget that weekend. My dad drove me to Chicago. It was February and there was a ton of snow and no end in sight to how much we got. It was a white knuckle drive for me in the passenger seat (my dad had no worries as he loved cars and driving). By the time we got there, I was so nervous. I remember checking into the audition and signing up for my time when I heard someone in the room behind us practicing. They sounded like the most amazing opera singer and I was way out of my league. I told my dad I wanted to go home. I cried. I was not 22 years old, but 10 and I wanted to leave. NOW.

My dad took out his newspaper (before ipads or iphones) and sat down with his coffee. He smiled.

“We will leave, as soon as you audition. Have fun.”

There it was. We weren’t leaving. I had no choice.

“But I’m terrible. I can’t do it. I’ll embarrass myself and you.”

My dad took a sip of his coffee.

“Won’t be the first time. Have fun.”

Shit.

So, I auditioned. I sucked. We went home. I didn’t get in.

But I gained something really important.

I did something I never had before and I survived.

The next year, I drove myself to Toronto with friends to audition.

I got in.

I never went to the school, but that’s another story for another time. The point is, I got in and nobody can ever take that from me. If my dad hadn’t made me do it, I never would have gone back and I never would have pushed myself.

That’s where Nate comes in. He would have done anything for Barbara and he did. He was in way over his head and I think he knew that, but it didn’t matter. His daughter was everything to him and he taught her everything he could about life and love.

My dad did that, too. He was surrounded by women. Between my mom and my sister and me, he was outnumbered. I think that was just what he wanted. He adored his girls and I try to write a lot of that in the series. I think that’s why there are so many kids who are girls. It’s what I know.

My dad did insist on our pets being male- to balance things out. :)

Brittany had a great life with Nate and even after he died, his love of music flowed through her. She sang because she loved it, but also because it kept a special part of her dad alive within her. When her attack happened, she stopped everything, and in a way, lost her dad again.

I find a lot of parallels within my own life at this point. After my audition, I continued with school and graduated. I stayed working at the veterinary hospital and doing community theater and it wasn’t until a few years later that I decided to go back for my teaching degree.

It was during that time I suffered three of the biggest losses of my life to that point. I lost my Grandma Rose, my Aunt Barbara and then My Grandma Julia. I was also diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. Then I turned 31.

These losses happened over a period of time, during which I graduated with my teaching degree and began working as a full time English/drama teacher. I moved out of my parent’s place and was beginning a life of my own. The character of Brittany was sitting in my notebook, coming along for the ride, but never evolving.

When my dad got sick, it was 8 weeks from the day of diagnosis to the funeral. 8 weeks. Up until the moment he went into the hospital, he was still working and driving. He was my dad. He would be fine. He told me that.  He was diagnosed on September 24 and September 25 is my birthday. He texted me at work and said. “I’ll be fine. Don’t worry.” I still have the text.

I was 36 and I was the baby. I was too young to deal with this and I didn’t know what to do. I had every bit of support a person could ask for and I knew of a million ways to get help if I needed it. My mother was a rock of strength and my sister was and is my hero.

But my daddy was gone.

I changed during that time. I wasn’t so optimistic. I wasn’t so sure the bad guys were being held at bay. I wasn’t sure I would ever feel truly okay again.

I wrote his eulogy. I spoke at his funeral. I smiled and hugged people and did what I was supposed to do. It was the week of Thanksgiving, so people were busy. They went back to their lives. It was quiet. It was lonely. It was different.

Then something occurred to me.

My dad and mom raised me to be strong. They raised me to be able to withstand the sadness that life throws at you. My dad needed us all to live. That would be the greatest tribute to his life. To make him proud and to live. Plain and simple.

I think I was probably the last to figure that out. I was scared to be okay, because I was afraid that meant I was ‘over’ losing him. I realize now that it doesn’t. I don’t think I’ll ever be over losing him. What it did mean was that I needed to do what made me happy. I needed to find that outlet where I could be the person I knew was in there.

I pulled the notebook out and took a look at the beautiful redhead who was waiting for guidance.

Barbara changing into Brittany was a little like me after my dad died. I was different. I changed. I had the qualities from before, but my entire outlook on the world was now different. I began to write, really write, and through the characters, I began to free myself. I found a way to honor my dad and share something with my mom (who reads every chapter before anyone else) and surprise those who never knew I ever wanted to write.

Brittany is such a complex character. I see her as me and you and every person who has been dealt a hand that seemed to go nowhere but down. I also see her as an inspiration, but not because of what she does, but who she is. She gets up every day and makes it the best she can. Some days are great and others aren’t.

Book 18 is a moment in her life when she needs to figure out why she ran so far from her past. It wasn’t just the attack. It’s understandable to run when something so horrific happens. What is truly heartbreaking to her is the way she left every aspect of her life behind. Everything her dad taught her and every part of her that came from him was ignored.

She feels that’s unforgivable. She feels as if she’s hurt his memory and now the life she built with Tommy is also in shambles.

Sometimes we can’t see how to get out of our current hell. Sometimes the only option is to shut down and close ourselves off. Brittany is alone and she feels that’s where she deserves to be.

It isn’t as simple as Tommy finding her. She doesn’t believe she is worth this life. Her current situation is reaffirming that thought.

Sometimes we have simply had enough.

____________________________________________________________________________

Sorry for the long post, but I’m in a nostalgic mood. I have something on Tommy coming soon.

Comments are appreciated! You are welcome to share some of your stories, too. I would love to read them.

 

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

If you have a minute…

I need some input if you have time…

What are your favorite and/or least favorite traits of Jack, Bill and Tommy?

Doing a little research

:)

Leave a Comment

Filed under Uncategorized