posted by Leann Sweeney

Maddie_smile My granddaughter left today and I don't know when I will get to see her in the flesh again. Not knowing has always been tough for me, so my husband wrapped up a tiny note in several boxes as my Christmas gift that said--"go visit any time you want." Sweet, huh? But having her here, seeing her emerging personality, even though she's only a little over two months, has given me much needed inspiration. I am writing a new series and thus giving life to brand new characters. No sweat, I'd thought. How wrong can a writer be?

But seeing her smile, watching her be grumpy, or make faces and or cry reminded me that to give life to new characters is to create something that connects my story people to the reader. I must provide a unique narrative, true, but also pull on what a reader will determine from a movement or a gesture or an expression. A story can't be all dialogue or setting or a clever twist. Characters on journey of discovery is what I hope comes through, just like my little Maddie has begun her own journey.

Another baby was also born this week, my 5th Yellow Rose Mystery, Pushing Up Bluebonnet_cover Bluebonnets arrived in stores. This is bittersweet. Because I am not writing about Abby Rose in this new book, I am missing her when I open up the new manuscript to write. I always know what Abby would do when confronted with a puzzle, but my new protagonist Jillian Hart? Sometimes she surprises me, sometimes she baffles me, sometimes I have no idea what she's thinking. And I don't have a little slip of paper that says I can get on a plane and visit her because, of course, that's impossible.

I am left with the challenge of new life. Of getting to know my granddaughter long distance. And also Jillian's new life and all the folks who live in her fictional town, those who help her or hinder her as she searches for the truth. Isn't that what life is about, though? Of getting to the truth no matter what the obstacles. Let the journey begin anew, for Maddie and for me.

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Comment by Mari Sloan on January 7, 2008 at 3:25am
The enemy is time. Remember how, when we were children, days were centuries? Now days are minutes, and minutes fly by so quickly that just when I seem to have begun, I have something else I need to do. It takes twice as long to get started and then it is never finished to my satisfaction. AKKKK!
Comment by Leann Sweeney on January 7, 2008 at 3:12am
How true about short stories, Mari. I haven't written one in several years because for me, even though I finish, I never really finish--for exactly the reason you mentioned. I don't know the characters well enough. So I keep revising and revising. Ones that were published actually often made me cringe. I would say, "I needed a better word here, a better thought there." Yup. You are so right!
Comment by Mari Sloan on January 7, 2008 at 2:56am
What a beautiful little girl! My heart would leave with her, too. I understand how it takes time to get attached to a new character, who becomes a part of your life in ways you can't imagine. To me that is the problem with writing short stories. They are over too soon to actually know your characters the way that you can when they are around for a year or so.

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