Thursday, September 17, 2009

Meggie's Remains Blog Tour & Guest Post by Joanne Sundell

Welcome to the Meggie's Remains Virtual Book Tour courtesy of Pump Up Your Book Promotion!

I'm happy to introduce Joanne Sundell, the author of Matchmaker, Matchmaker, My Name's Amelia, The Parlour House Daughter, The Quaker and the Confederate series, Hearts Divided, Hearts Persuaded, and her latest book, Meggie's Remains. Joanne shares with us her thoughts on How To Make Your Characters Believable. Welcome, Joanne and thank you so much for spending this time with us!


How To Make Your Characters Believable by Joanne Sundell

If you’re writing fiction—any kind—nothing is more important than believable characters. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Whether reading a book, watching a film, or listening to something on audio, the moment the characters do or say anything that’s not credible, look out. The reader will set down your story and might not pick it back up. We hear it time and time again: “Don’t write anything that might stop the reader.” This begs the question, how then do we write believable characters to keep our readers reading?

There are plenty of books out there on the subject of Writing Believable Characters. I know. I've certainly purchased my fair share. I do believe we should build a library of whatever references we might need and have them at our fingertips. Extensive, meticulous research is important, no matter if we're writing an historical or contemporary novel. It's important for our stories to be credible. It's that simple and that complicated.

Once we've done enough research to write a credible story and have a general idea of plot and direction, thereby able now to visualize the natural flow of things, our characters begin to show themselves; sometimes all at once; sometimes bit by bit. I'm not talking about hair or eye color or muscular build here - although detailed character traits are of course, essential - but rather the motivation behind the character . . . the character behind the character. We, as writers, look for the internal angst, conflicting urges, and choices made. Heroes and Heroines must make choices in our stories. Whether they choose wisely or poorly is the stuff of novels!

Each of us is unique as a reader and as a writer. As a reader we know when something is believable. As a writer, we have to do our best to respect the reader and make our stories and characters believable.

With Meggie's Remains, my love of old-fashioned theme and character led me to create my heroine, Meggie McMurphy, and her hero, Ethan Rourke, stumbling upon each other on the streets of Denver, Colorado Territory, October 1874. Their path to find true love is most definitely not an easy one. Let's take a closer look at the pair, to perhaps find out why.

Meggie is complex and I want to do justice to her character in writing Meggie's Remains. I wanted to show how she must walk that fine line between day dreams and nightmares, between what is real and what is not - forced to run for her life when the fiend so long stalking her in her nightmares, surfaces in the light of day. Meggie is a pretty young woman, twenty-five when the story opens, slender, five foot two, with a full, rosy mouth, violet eyes that can turn passionately dark, a peaches and cream complexion, and long rusty-red hair. But she's forced to hide her good looks, not wanting to gain any man's attention after the painful, sinful episode in her past. No one must find out, no one! Tainted by her past, she's deathly afraid of men, so much so pulls her hair up to the point of pain, wears baggy dresses, her only adornment a nun's cross, hides behind spectacles, and steps away when any man comes near. In times of upset, Meggie turns to her most trusted companion and friend, Jane Eyre, treasuring the worn pages of her favorite novel above all else in her pitiable life. Escaping into its pages, Meggie can become Jane, falling in love with Edward Rochester over and over again, imagining that moment of passion when Jane and Edward first meet, when they first touch, imagining such a moment for herself . . . such sweetness . . . such desire . . . such impossible bliss - Quickly checking herself, Meggie throws off such wild imaginings and does her best to deny her buried desire for love and happiness, knowing she's not destined to live any kind of a normal life. She doesn't desire any man. When the handsome, formidable westerner, Ethan Rourke, stumbles upon Meggie on a snowy Denver street, it's as if he'd stepped right off the pages of Jane Eyre! Safe to encounter such a man on the page, it is certainly unsafe, even deadly, for her to encounter such a man in the flesh. Men belong . . . six feet under, six feet away . . . where to stay safe, the devil must stay!

Ethan is handsome all right - tall, dark, and handsome - standing six foot four, well-built, with dark hair cropped at the shoulders and intelligent, slate eyes that can seduce with one look. Though perhaps better looking than Edward Rochester, Ethan is the classic brooding hero, wealthy, with society at his feet, yet given to dark introspection, silent on the things that matter most, keeping his true feelings buried deep. Haunted by his past, Ethan isn't interested in committing to another woman, and finds satisfaction enough in the arms of his mistress of five years. Save for his mistress, he keeps women at a distance. In his lifetime he's already seen enough rejection, death, and dying - enough to kill any Faith he once had - and won't let any woman close. The moment he stumbles over the odd baggage fallen at his feet on the snowy Denver street, he's struck through by the curious female; no woman ever looked at him like that before. He wants to turn away. . . but can he?


That must surely make you want to read more about Meggie McMurphy and Ethan Rourke! Thank you so much, Joanne. Reading this increased my understanding and enjoyment of Meggie's Remains. I look forward to reading your other novels with a closer eye to the character development in them.

Joanne's Bio, courtesy of the author:

Born in a tiny hospital in rural Virginia, Joanne ever cherishes her country beginnings. Fond memories of toddling after her older sisters along the Appalachian Trail, catching tadpoles in a nearby creek bed, chasing after lightening bugs, or falling asleep to the evening hum of katydids, remain with her still; despite the family move to more urban Arlington where Joanne spent her formative school years, and then on to Richmond where she earned her nursing degree. Joanne grew up reading romance, falling in love with heroes and heroines from Regency England to the American West, from London's pubs to Colorado's ski slopes, loving that moment when the hero and heroine meet and fall in love. That moment to Joanne is the moment when Jane Eyre meets Edward Rochester, when Elizabeth Bennett meets Mr. Darcy - that's the heart-stopping, passionate moment for Joanne in romance. That moment is what led her to attempt traditional, old-fashioned, historical romance. Joanne sold her first book, Matchmaker, Matchmaker, in 2005 to Five Star-Gale, Cengage Learning, for their Expressions Line, a combination of romance and women's fiction. Subsequent sales include A....My Name's Amelia, The Parlour House Daughter, Meggie's Remains, and The Quaker and the Confederate series, Hearts Divided and Hearts Persuaded. Her books have been reviewed nationally by Publisher's Weekly, Booklist, Library Journal, and Romantic Times. With her three children grown and off on their own adventures, Joanne lives part-time in Colorado and California along with her husband and their entourage of felines and huskies. Joanne's writing groups include Romance Writers of America, Colorado Romance Writers, Los Angeles Romance Writers, Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, and Women Writing the West. Learn more on Joanne Sundell's website at or through her My Space page or her blog She can also be reached at author@joannesundell(dot)com.

Thanks so much to Pump Up Your Book Promotion and Joanne Sundell for this opportunity! Come back tomorrow to read my review of Meggie's Remains.

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