Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Preparing the Way for Strong Characterization

Prepare Ye the Way...
You guys know John the Baptist, right? Know him and love him?

I’m telling you, there’s a guy who tackled the big jobs and came through. John’s meals were vegan-friendly, very ‘today’, a fine blend of honey and locusts with a cactus milk chaser and the odd fish or two. He was a pescatarian's dream, LOL!


Here’s a ‘living history’ pic depicting John in the river.

Son of Elisabeth and Zacharias, and cousin to Jesus, John the Baptist made sackcloth and scratchy camel fur household words. Prada it ain’t, and the animal rights people would have a field day with his choice of apparel, but the guy made it work, right up until he was beheaded for speaking the truth. Expecting goodness. What was he thinking? That preaching change would win him an award???

Gutsy guy.

And what's up with DaVinci? Um, hello???

Here's his artistic depiction of John the Baptist, undisputably a boy by all accounts.

Are ya' kiddin' me? Does this remind you of anything? Like "John" in the controversial "Last Supper" painting that got Dan Brown a hefty contract, notoriety and a boatload of money.

Or Mona Lisa??? I think Leonardo had issues and used them to feminize unsuspecting characters. Good heavens.

Now take Jesus. Totally cool, awesome, righteous dude. I mean, we’re talking God-made-man. He faced enemies, demons, liars, cheaters, tax collectors, lepers, snakes, vermin and snarky apostles. But he WAS God, so if this was a tennis match, it would definitely be: Advantage: Jesus.

As a mere human, John had the monumental task of preparing the way for his cousin, the Son of God. Sooooo not easy. To do that, he gave up material things (no plasma tv’s or Starbuck’s for our boy!), his family, his home, and lived the life of an itinerant preacher, an evangelist, a voice crying in the wilderness to fulfill prophecy.

His voice called like a beacon, his sacrifice was renowned, and from time to time he doubted, just like you and me, and he was noted for getting a little heavy on fire and brimstone rather than salvation.

But he did his job. He persevered and prepared the way.

Are you prepping for Valentine’s Day, the quintessential day for lovers? Planning a dinner, a dessert, an evening of romance?

Okay, if you’re a mother of small children (or any children!), your preparations are probably more pizza delivery than Chris Ruth Steakhouse, and your body-soothing lotion comes in a pink bottle from Johnson’s baby products, and if you can sneak a five-minute shower, you consider your prep time successful. I’m totally with you on that score. Not exactly the stuff romance novels are made of, huh?

But wait?

Are they?

Who didn’t love the scene from "The Notebook" where Noah takes Ally to see the geese, knowing she’d love the magic and magnitude of raw nature??
Or George Bailey, walking the late-night quiet of Bedford Falls, NY in borrowed clothes, offering to lasso the moon for Mary in “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

How about the way Bing Crosby sings “White Christmas” in Holiday Inn or White Christmas?

Be still my heart!

Old or new, vintage or modern, romance is in the heart, not the pocketbook.
(Although Richard Gere got a good piece of my heart when he left Julia Roberts with his credit card in “Pretty Woman”. So, okay, I'm plastic. I can be bought!!!)

Writing a romance isn’t as much foreplay as interplay. Prepping the way for our HEA ending comes from layering your characters, making the reader care about them, identify with them, and maybe want to be them.

Remember Sleepless in Seattle, when Rosie O’Donnell chastises Meg Ryan for being unrealistic? “You don’t want to be in love, you want to be in love in a MOVIE!”

Oh my stars, who doesn’t want to be in love in a movie? More to the point: how do we prep our characters to that level, to be memorable, approachable and believable?

: Sure, you’ve all heard this, and you’ve probably read some great books on it, attended awesome workshops and delved into characterization websites, trying to create the perfect characters.

I think the perfect characters come from that heartfelt reality combo of situation, personality, conflict and timing. And the character I love most won’t necessarily be Tina’s favorite, or Mary’s favorite, or even make Camy’s list of should’ve, would’ve, could’ves.

And that’s actually good news. If all of your characters please the same people, you’re limiting your audience and that’s a yawner for sales.

I love Donald Maas’s “Writing the Breakout Novel” because it challenges an author (in words I can relate to, LOL!) to step above and beyond the usual to embrace the untried or unlikely. Using that strategy, characters come alive. If the reader recognizes the character as lovable or smackable, quaint or eccentric, you’ve achieved a level of success.

In Deb Smith's "Sweet Hush", Hush Thackery isn't a survivor because of some cataclysmic happening. No, Hush is memorable because her life MADE her that way. It was survive or fail, and she didn't see failure as an option. She had 'sugar skin', a teen pregnancy, shiftless family members, a two-timing husband and a God-given strong will that won out over all that.

The best story can get tossed aside if the characters don’t attract the reader. Think commiserate, empathize, sympathize, synthesize, hydrolyze…
Wait, that’s a science lesson! Wrong blog.

Your characters are who they are because of what they've experienced. Life throws us opportunities daily. Read the obituaries. Check out small town papers. Examine the characters that make up your village, town, or neighborhood.

Then put them in a book.

Ask "Why?"

And then answer the question for the reader. I'm going to play with Julie's "A Passion Most Pure" for this exercise.

Why would Faith be attracted to Colin?

Okay, besides the obvious, LOL!

She's a helper; he needs help.

She wants to save the world; he needs saving.

And don't forget the wonders of physical attraction. Sensuality and attraction are God-given gifts and are a HUGE part of building memorable characters in a romance. Faith has kept herself constrained because of her faith and feelings of guilt that her twin sister died at a young age. That constraint is challenged because our rake Colin sees the woman within the girl and senses her awakening feelings for him

Their path is not an easy one, but that's what makes a good novel. A good novel parallels life because life isn't easy.

Don't 'help' your characters too soon. Mothers are especially guilty of this in their writing and it often separates the contest finalists from the rest of the pack.

Let them suffer. Show us why they suffer. Make them real and sympathetic. Or at least make us understand them if they're not the most likable of characters.

Prepare your novels with the same devotion you give your favorite recipes. Or a hot date. Think it through, layer it, add salt and spice, garnish with humor and gut-clenching feeling, then bake in a hot, (not tepid) oven for as long as it takes to evolve into the Happily Ever After we avidly anticipate.


P.S. Coffee bar is officially open! We've got hazelnut, amaretto, chocolate bliss, and plain old joe.

Grab a mug from the rack to your right. Muffins courtesy of Tops Friendly Markets!


  1. WOW Ruthy! Lots of great info on characterization!

    LOVE the amaretto coffee too...just in time for my five am cup too!



  2. Ruthie,

    You've really gotten me thinking. My WIP has conflict and many of these things, but they may be on a pretty shallow level. So I'll rethink it.

    However, I'm calling a foul for your use of "pescatarian," especially this early in the morning. (What can I say? I've been to a lot of basketball games lately!).

    For those of us too lazy to look it up, What is it? My "day job" is partly writing for newspapers. We write at a 4th grade vocabulary. Apparently I read at one too. LOL


  3. LOL!

    Cathie, using "pescatarian" is a cheap shot at my wonderful lawyer son who works on Wall Street and the current trend among his buddies is to pescatarianism.

    They eat fish but not meat. Get it? Pesces? Pisces? The fish sign.

    Here's a farm boy who's gone the big time and forgotten his venison/beef/pork roots.


    But he did buy me this laptop, so the money he saves by not buying meat he uses on his sweet and sainted mother.


    But I like that you're thinking of WIP things and not just my overuse of big words, LOL!

    And the fact that newspapers have downgraded to that level makes me give my day care children extra reading/writing work to up their levels.

    Don't get me STARTED on sinking and eroding expectations.

    That's a whole book unto itself!


  4. I've gotta admit I wasn't sure how John the Baptist tied in with Valentine's Day and characterization, but somehow it all worked. :-)

    I read A Passion Most Pure a couple of weeks ago and loved it -- a great example of layering characters and having multiple POVs that interweave and come across as realistic. A fun escape as a reader and a good lesson for me as I work on my first historical.

    The coffee smells wonderful, but I think I'll pass -- I like to smell it much more than I like to drink it. Yes, I'm one who freaked out the local Starbuck's girl a while back when I asked if they had Diet Coke ...

  5. Leigh, good morning! I love that you freaked out the Starbuck's gal with your oh-so-normal request.

    Head to the convenience store, darling!

    And tying the good St. John in with character prep just seemed to gel in my head.

    Though there are those who'll vouch that anything might gel in my head and it's a scary place to reside. And some of those naysayers are my friends, Leigh!

    Oy vey.

    Skip the coffee, I brought a case of mixed diets for the coffee-challenged among us. Regular Diet Coke, caffeine free and Fresca, original style citrus flavor.

    Grab some, girl, and feel free to come back for seconds!


  6. Good morning, Ruthy. Thanks for the inspiration to add depth and richness to my characters layer upon layer until they're so real they're fixing me breakfast.

    The coffee and muffins hit the spot. Thanks!

    Off to make my characters suffer.


  7. Thanks for this Ruthy! I'm digging deeper to add a few more layers now. What fun!

  8. That Ruthy, leads you on and you are not sure where you are going but you are too enthralled to care. She ought to write books.

    Pescatarian. Metro men who eat fish?

  9. Ahhhh ... there's nothing like kicking off the morning with a Ruthy post -- better than a cup of hazelnut joe!

    LOVE the line: Writing a romance isn’t as much foreplay as interplay. Oh my, how true!! As much as I love foreplay, it's the synapse firing between the hero and heroine that puts starch in my socks. And all that characterization and layering helps to make 3-dimensional characters that can trip over each other an awful lot and provide some high-voltage sparks. No safe, easy pass through the park -- just lots of tension, tension, tension!

    Thanks for using A Passion Most Pure as an example, Ruthy, I appreciate it.

    And Leigh -- thanks for reading APMP and your kind comment. Good luck on your own historical -- they're a lot of fun.


  10. Janet, g'mornin' girlfriend! Did you try the butter/rum muffins? So good. And I love the coarse sugar sprinkled on top! Perfect complement.

    And Eileen...

    One thing I truly dislike about some contest judging is the fact that they want you to DUMP the info into their laps in 25 pages.

    Big sigh...

    See blog about 'pimping your manuscript' because the ultimate GOAL of a contest isn't a plaque or a certificate edged in gold, it's to gain a spot on an editor's desk, right?

    In the real world, I love hinting at things and then building on those hints. That's what works for me in a book and they say to write what we like to read, right?

    Noting my unpublished state, I may be the ONLY human who likes what I write....

    Ruthy, Party of One!!!!!


    But I like that digging. I love chatting in Seekerville, nabbing ideas, deepening plots. It's amazing how little things add up.

    And I'm talking too much. Like that's a surprise.


  11. Tina!

    Love the pescatarian metro man eating fish.

    Exactly what I'm talking about.

    They all have great hair, wear cool clothes, know their designers, are straight and eat fish.

    Down home we'd call them thar boys 'citified'.



  12. Julie, I wrote the line "writing a romance isn't as much foreplay as interplay" with you in mind!

    Isn't that like an ultimate truism?

    Foreplay's over too quick. Romance should last forever.



  13. Thanks. Your post made me remember--again--why I write romance. Those moments that clog the throat with emotion. What great reminders. Thanks, Ruth.

    Beyond that, your post was a joy to read. Made me laugh outloud as usual.
    Why in the world aren't you published yet? Where's the justice? What does God have up his big sleeve for you? I can't wait to see!

    PS From a fellow WNYer, hold on to your dream and hold on to something like a rope if you go out in that wind today. oh, yes, tie the rope to something first

  14. Debra!

    I've got the rope tied, darlin', and proceeding with caution into the wind, LOL!

    And how come I haven't met you up here? Give me a shout at and tell me where you live, etc.

    And bless you for the kudos. From your lips to God's ears!

    God's plan is in his capable hands and I've no doubt that whatever he's got in mind for me, it'll be fun. Every time I've tried to second-guess him, I've ended up wrong.

    And I hate to admit that I'm wrong, of course, so it's a double whammy. Serves me right.

    So you totally got the muffin reference to Tops Markets??? I had to throw a little local grocer ambiance into the mix. Drum up some business. A little business for God via St. John, a little for romance, a little for Tops.

    A win/win/win!


  15. Awesome post! My attention didn't waver for a sec.
    Great job. :-)

  16. You know what Ruthy? I just saw your comment about info dumps in a contest entry. You're so right! It's tough, that's why I loved the "pimping your manuscript" post so much. LOL

  17. I am suitably chastized, Ruthy. I'll go deepen my characters now. I might try to deepen my own character, too.

    It wouldn't hurt me to have some depth. :)

  18. My hat is off to the queen of characterization! Ruthy-Lou, I'd follow your heros and heroines, and even your villains, anywhere, just to watch them in action! You've been reading a lot of obituaries, I can tell, LOL!

    I so agree with you, without endearing, unpredictable, enchanting, evil characters, novels would go the way of used coloring books -- been there, done that.

    So right too about making multi faceted characters to appeal to multi flavored tastes. What if we were all Gone With The Wind fans? Who would embrace the Sleepless In Seattle(s) or the Pretty Woman(s)?

    Variety is the root of all love. Well put, my prose-happy friend! May unique personalities never end : )

  19. Morning Ruthy, I knew this post was yours from the get-go. Your voice is definitely distinctive. Hmmm that's what the editors are always looking for- A distinctive voice?

    Thanks for all the great info and advice on characterization. Along with your voice, you do have terrific characters. I love reading your work.

    I'll have the chocolate bliss coffee. Sounds yummy.

  20. Jessica, umm...

    honey, if your attention didn't waver for a second, how come you didn't see the "info dump" comment until later, hmm?????

    Inquiring minds want to know, LOL!

    Thank you, kiddo. I thrive on an attentive audience. And chocolate.

    Okay, mostly chocolate. My attentive audience grew up and moved away, and the only reason they were attentive was because I had control of the car keys.


    I'm watching the mail, dear, for the expected chocolate remains.


    And Audra, my pet, mon cheri, you bring your cowgirl hat and six-gun by our place any ol' time. The beanpot's always on for you!

    Okay, it might not have beans in it, but I can wrassle up something. Probably made of chocolate!!!


  21. Mary...

    My salute to a character with more character than most twenty people I know.

    Bless you.

    And if we want to play with characters, Mary's a great go-to gal. I love the fun her characters have, driving one another crazy. The makings of a great marriage right there.


    And those girls in Petticoat Ranch?



  22. You wrote the line "writing a romance isn't as much foreplay as interplay" with me in mind? Gee, thanks, Ruthy ... I think! :)

    LOVE your comment that "Foreplay's over too quick. Romance should last forever."

    Amen to that!! :)


  23. That's weird how girly DaVinci Made John the Baptist.
    I read the DaVinci Code. I read the part where they made a fuss over how skilled DaVinci was and how blatantly OBVIOUS it was that the person next to Jesus was a woman.

    Hmmmmmmmm they never mentioned this picture?

    Maybe the NEW Davinci Code, huh? The DaVinci Y Chromasome
    The DaVinci Wimp Reflex
    The DaVinci Gray Area Code

    I'm plotting right now

  24. And I've meant to mention this before but:
    How do you think of so many different kinds of pretend food.

    I'm really impressed.

    I eat the same thing five days a week.

    A peanut butter sandwich and a diet coke.

    That's my breakfast, eaten on the drive to work.

    I know it's pathetic. Shut up. I'd rather sleep ten extra minutes than find time for even a bowl of cereal.

    Still, rum muffins, I am beyond impressed.

    Oh, and I just had my everyday lunch.

    An apple and a diet coke.

    It's really a wonder I can stay fat.

  25. Ahhh, Ruthy. Shall I remind you that I am of the vegetarian variety? Of course, I'm also under grace and not the law, so I'm not a strict one. :-)

    Me in a movie or book. Now that's just too weird for even me to enjoy.

    We're in the midst of freaky strong winds so even though I opened the blinds on the doors to the back porch, every time I heard a noise I think someone's trying to break into my house. And in broad daylight.

    My heart is fluttering with nerves.

    My good ol' protective dog is on the sofa snoring.

    Anyhoo, back to characterization.

    Last December Missy shared about how she likes to use Alicia Rasley's THE STORY WITHIN to help her craft her characters and the plot so they're cohesive and interdependent. (Those are some pretty adultish words for me to us. The fiber flake cereal must work on more than just the colon.)

    Needless to say, I'm a glutton for craft of writing books. Bought one after Camy recommended it to.

    Since I decided to write a series for a particular publisher instead of just writing what I felt like, I figured reading THE STORY WITHIN would help me prevent lots of rewriting.

    Only problem is that when I got to reading it and answering the questions, I realized how could I answer questions for characters I didn't know yet. Lemme write a few chapters first, all right?

    So I brilliantly decided (when I do things they often are brilliant) to answer the questions posed in each chapter with answers from a story that I didn't think needed lots of work past the first three chapters. Oh dear.

    A brilliant decicision it was.

    A painful consequence it's turning out to be.

    Wanna know one of the hardest questions?

    Now look for a central strength. Don't overload the character with virtues. But see if you can come up with one external skill and one internal strength (ex. competetiveness/self-sufficiency). Make these matter most inthe plot: they get [your character] out of trouble; they get [your character] in trouble.

    After eight possible strengths, I finally had a lightbulb moment...

    External Skill: serves others; see a need, fill a need

    Internal Strength: wants to make other people happy regardless of how it puts her at a disadvantage because she feels she must do enough good to feel worthy of God's forgiveness of her past mistake

    External Skill: problem-solver

    Internal Strength: compassionate heart yet does things because he feels if he can do enough good then he can redeem self

    She's very self-less; he's self-centered.

    Oddly, they aren't all that different. Instead of their difference causing conflict thoroughout the story, it's the motivations behind their similarities that does the job.

    Yes, I now see where I'm going to have to revise some scenes. What's scary is I'm only on page 31 of THE STORY WITHIN. The book is 159 pages long. No telling what other problems I'm going to find in my manuscript.

    Oh gosh. I'm suddenly feeling this odd dislike of Missy.

    Time for another bowl of fiber flakes.

  26. Oh, Ruthy, while Jessica won't confess she wavered, I will.

    Yes, I wavered.

    12-letter+ words tend to do that to me.

    Call me a chia-pet-brain-celled gal.

  27. Hi Ruth:

    Very interesting!

    However, I believe ‘foreplay’ and ‘interplay’ are not mutually exclusive.

    For the truly romantic, foreplay can be found in every breath your lover takes.

    I think all life cam be lived as foreplay. Of course, I’m just a guy who is going to beat the male crowds by buying his valentine card tonight instead of tomorrow night. LOL!

    (Ruth: I look forward to your posts.)


  28. ROF, LOL!!!!

    Yup, Mare, that diet coke's sure doing it's job!

    Oh, mylanta, girlfriend, I love how strange the whole DaVinci thing is.

    Mona Lisa as a self-portrait of himself at a younger age and beardless? So he womanized himself, if reports of computer imaging are correct.

    Telling, possibly???

    And is there something significant in the fact that he womanized two "Johns"...

    John the Baptist and John the Apostle.

    The guy had a serious twitch working, methinks.

    But enough about him. Let's talk about ME!!!!

    Oh, wait. Been there, done that.

    Love the way your brain works, Connealy.


  29. Ruthy - Thanks for the Diet Coke. I'll take another with my Healthy Choice pizza, please.

    Yes, I normally get my caffeine fix somewhere other than Starbuck's. I was there for a meeting on that fateful day and I'm sure the barista will never be the same. She did at least provide me with a cup of extremely cold water -- after informing me that it "wasn't just regular water -- it's triple filtered." What a hoot!

    Julie - Thanks for the good luck wishes. I never dreamed of writing a historical (all that research terrified me!). Then God whacked me over the head with one and is probably having some very good laughs because I'm actually ... um ... enjoying the research. He's such a smart guy that way. :-)

    Gina - I hadn't heard of The Story Within. Looks like another book for my ever-growing wish list.

    Happy afternoon, ladies!

  30. Your line about moms jumping in to solve the characters' problems sure sounds like me!

    I think it's because I'd rather avoid conflict and trouble ... and so would my characters. Too scary to think about.

    Leigh's commeent about diet Coke at Starbucks makes me appreciate who I am in real life -- a real barrista's evil twin. "Oh, just have a cuppa Joe, would ya? I'm busy here."

    One real good take-away -- interplay and-or foreplay. H'mm. Writing-wise, of course!

  31. Do you think it's ever possible to have too much conflct? I have read books where I felt the author was sitting there "trying to create conflict" and it showed.

    Any tips on how to make it genuine?

  32. Also, I read a story several months ago in Romantic Times mag where they said the conflicts have to fit the genre.

    I'm not totally sure what they meant. Any ideas?

    I think it's easy to talk about conflict but it obviously takes skill to do it effectively.

  33. A confession: My previous posts were real. This one is an experiment with my photo.

    I'm trying to get it a little closer.

  34. Gina, I'm so proud of you.

    First, for admitting you wavered. Taking responsibility for one's problems/shortcomings is a great first step...


    Second, for your diligence in reading and application of said reading to current WIP.

    I have no idea what it all meant but it SOUNDED so good.

    Proud of you X 2. (That's like pride to the second factor!)

    Good to see you, m'dear, and glad you stopped in to play with us.

    Shouldn't you be coordinating sixteen contests or something?


  35. Vince: Be still my heart.

    Gadzooks, man, you're like a walking Nicholas Sparks novel, only you're living and breathing, flesh and blood.

    Run and tell your wife we think she's got herself a gem.

    (And I like your posts too.)



  36. Leigh, you've got a great smile. Love that pic.

    And thanks for being nice to Gina. We all feel better when Gina's happy. Kind of like that kitchen sign, you know the one.

    "If Mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy."

    (Sorry, Gina, couldn't resist).

    And Annie-Banannie, I'm with you on the cup of joe although I treat myself to one frappuccino type treat a week. That's my reward for not killing someone.

    The fact that I may have WANTED to kill someone makes me glad I'm Catholic and can go to confession.


    And Cathy,

    I have to leave for work at the bakery soon, so I'm going to mull this and play with it later because you've hit on one of my gut things.

    Some books SOUND formulaic, the whole "if P, then Q" scenario, like it's all planned out and not a natural give and take of one to the other.

    I think practice is the main thing that smooths this out. I also think having to do too many books too quickly (or an author with an established audience wham-bamming things out) adds to the more contrived conflicts we read.

    But there's also the been there, done that philosophy.

    If you relate to a character, a plot or a conflict, it can either heighten the reality of it (if the book reflects YOUR reality) or it can seem trite and contrived because your reality was so different.

    Then there are the books that simply waste good ink, but that's another blog!


    You've touched on what could be a very good class for our future Unpubbed Island Writers' Retreats. Layering plot and characters should be a natural process, but it isn't always easy, is it?

    Study the books you LOVE THIS MUCH. Identify what it is about them that draws you. Story? Style? Voice? Message? Familiarization?

    Then examine how you can add those elements to your writing. Can you make the heroine more real by letting her flaws show more openly? Can you make her less opinionated and win over a few more readers? Can you offset your hero's grumpiness by showing him nurse a stray dog, cat, lamb, etc. back to life?

    In Sweet Hush, our hero is a big, macho, trained killer who works for his uncle, the president of the United States.

    An orphan goat tags after our hero, wherever he goes. The goat understands the gentle man beneath the gruff exterior, even though the hero can't show that side openly. Not yet. He's got a job to do. He finally makes a leash for the goat after two teenage snots try to kidnap the goat.

    So there's our big, hulking, gun-toting hero, cleaning goat droppings from his shoes and being accompanied by this four-footed farm creature.

    We don't have to see much of the gentle side to know it's there and will come through in a pinch, right?

    We'll play more with this.

    Gotta go make cakes lovely for the Valentine heroes of Western New York!

    I'll stop back in a few hours.


  37. LOL
    I saw the info dump in the comments. My attention didn't waver for the post, but I commented before I read everyone else's comments.
    Hehee! Ya thought you caught me...

  38. Ruthy,
    Great post!!! Great info!!! Loved the art work too!!! I'm stopping by late. Any coffee left?

  39. I loved this, Ruthy! And I knew it was your writing from the beginning. :)

    I just mailed off a completed book today (woo hoo!!!!) and now you have me worrying that my characters aren't layered enough! Goodness. Is a book ever really done??


  40. Deb, I saved some coffee just for you!

    It's a French vanilla caramel blend, soooooo good.

    And I just washed the mugs, so everything's clean and ready to go. Grab yourself a late night cup and check on what's been happening today!

    And Missy, I loved Her Unlikely Family, so I don't think lack of characterization is a problem, but I do remember a certain synopsis...


    I love being a tyrant. There's a certain command and respect that travels with the title.

    Of course there's the ominous looks they think you DON'T see, too!

    What a fun group today.

    I made a gazillion and one heart-shaped cakes topped with whipped cream and fresh strawberries, lightly glazed.

    Oh mylanta, all I wanted was a fork. I'd have eaten two of those things and called it supper, LOL!

    Deb and Missy, I brought one home for you guys to try. They're alongside the coffee, in the neat chilled buffet that Chip MacGregor sent us for being so neighborly.


    Let me know what you guys think. I'd prefer in-season strawberries, but how cool a world do we live in where we can get a pint of strawberries for $2.50 in February?

    Aren't we blessed?


  41. gina!! I'm devastated!!


    You'll thank me (and Alicia) when you sell that story. :)


  42. Cathy, I think conflict has to stem from who the characters are or it may seem contrived. (that's why I like the Rasley book so well in plotting. It makes you really dig.)

    But conflict is the hardest part for me! So I probably shouldn't give advice! :)

    And Ruthy, I remember that synopsis, too. Goodness. I guess I need to see if it's still on our yahoo group files and delete it so you can't re-read it and tease me forever!!!

    By the way, the book I mailed off today is that very book (written from a much different synop!) LOL

    Thanks for the strawberry valentine! I made strawberry shortcake last week. The berries were so sweet! (still not quite summer good but close!)


  43. Sorry I missed this yesterday, Ruthy. You're such a wild woman, theologically speaking.