Thursday, September 30, 2010

“It’s All About the Characters” Barbara White Daille

Read all the way to the bottom for two chances to win a copy of one of Barbara's backlist books.
Welcome to Seekerville Barbara White Daille
Happy birthday, Seekerville! And a big thanks to Mary for inviting me to guest blog during the pre-party.

I’m here today to talk about one of my favorite subjects: characters. Many people would probably agree that characters make or break a book. In my humble opinion, they are the book—at least, in my favorite stories.

Characters drive the plot based on how they interact with each other and on the decisions they make.
Or don’t make.

I write for Harlequin American Romance, which centers on home and family and features a well-developed sense of place in each book. Along with an appealing hero and heroine, strong secondary characters are encouraged, which is wonderful as far as I’m concerned. This allows me to introduce the kind of quirky people I love to read and write about. In my stories, those secondary characters often make the hero and heroine’s journey to happily-ever-after a lot more challenging than they would like—and a lot more interesting for the reader, I hope!

The level of sensuality varies in the books, and I’m definitely thrilled about that, too. In my opinion, just as the characters drive the plot, they determine how far they will go in the romance.
I can explain this best by giving you examples from my own stories. My books all include a developing romance, of course. It’s just that sometimes the characters consummate the relationship.... And sometimes they won’t.

In THE SHERIFF’S SON, childhood sweethearts Sarah and Tanner are
together intimately for the first time on the eve of Tanner’s
departure for the Army. They’re then separated until his return to
town eight years later. At that point, they’re no longer sweethearts
but still very much aware of each other—though neither one of them
will admit it.
For me, the love scene was important to show how much they had matured during the years they were apart. For Sarah and Tanner, no pun intended, it’s a different story. As they rediscover each other, the scene affirms what they’d once had and lost and what they could have again...if they’re willing to take a risk.

In COURT ME, COWBOY, Marissa leaves Gabe for a number of reasons very shortly after their whirlwind courtship and wedding. She comes back to his ranch only after she discovers she’s pregnant.
In this story, too, I had an ulterior motive in writing the love scene: because of each character’s past, trust is a major issue in the current relationship. There had to be a way to force them to work around their own roadblock. I’ll admit, the solution wasn’t easy to find. And by the time I finally gave them the go-ahead to get together, Gabe and Marissa took the story and ran with it.

As for the book that’s just hitting bookstores now, FAMILY MATTERS, I need to issue a warning.
-----Spoiler alert!!!!-----
FAMILY MATTERS doesn’t have a love scene in it. Again, that decision was dictated by the characters and their story.
Kerry MacBride is surrounded by a zany crowd she feels it’s her responsibility to watch over. The characters range from her eccentric grandmother and a scheming uncle to a couple of her daredevil younger brothers and a troubled teenaged runaway. Then there’s Matt Lawrence, the hardheaded lawyer who is keeping an even closer eye on everyone, including Kerry.

I ask you, with a situation like this one, when—and where—are they supposed to have a love scene? That doesn’t stop Kerry and Matt from trying, though, as neither of them can resist a challenge. Unfortunately, an all-too-interested audience catches them in one of their most intimate moments....

Hey, I tried to warn them! :)

As I said in the beginning, it’s all about the characters.
And it’s all fun for authors and readers.

Originally from the East Coast, award-winning author Barbara White Daille now lives with her husband in the warm, sunny Southwest, where they love the dry heat and have taken up square dancing.
From the time she was a toddler, Barbara found herself fascinated by those things her mom called "books."  Once she learned the words between the covers held the magic of storytelling, she wanted to see her words in print so she could weave that spell for others.
Barbara hopes you will enjoy reading her stories and will find your own storytelling magic in them!
Readers can find Barbara at the following locations:
Her October, 2010 book, FAMILY MATTERS, is currently available from bookstores and through
Barbara works a day job but will check in with us later. She loves to chat with readers online, so please feel
free to leave comments or questions.
Also, she will be holding two drawings for one of her backlist books. One winner’s name will be drawn from
comments left here at Seekerville today, September 30th. A second winner’s name will be drawn from those who send her a message today via the “Contact Barbara” form at her web site AND mention Seekerville in the message.
Good luck!


Dianna Shuford said...

Wow, I'm the first commenter today? And it's Seekerville's birthday? Don't know if I can live up to the pressure. (BTW- Happy Birthday)

Barbara- how fun reading about your characters. It is interesting to see how the characters we work with take on a life of their own and dictate the story.

Breakfast anyone? I've brought muffins. Any kind you want, it's here. From blueberry to banana nut. All you have to do is enjoy them.

Tina Russo Radcliffe said...

Dianna you is ON!

Welcome to Seekerville, Barbara.
Great topic, Barbara and thanks for being honest. I love the American line for just that. Totally character driven stories. And I love that your stories reflect that and are not formulaic. I look forward to reading your books!

Kirsten Arnold said...

Barbara, Thank you for the fun post. So glad to hear you let your characters dictate how much romance appears in their story. Character driven stories are definitely the best reading. In my latest WIP I tried to limit the romantic scenes, but my characters ignored me and after reading it over this week I’m glad they did. Their passion for each other fits their personalities perfectly.


Julie Hilton Steele said...

Barbara, how have I missed you...must run off to your website. And I love how the characters do dictate what happens. That is as it should be!

I made cinnamon applesauce pancakes this morning to share. I also have apple cider syrup.

Peace, Julie

Audra Harders said...

Welcome to Seekerville, Barbara! The coffee is always on and did I hear something about blueberry muffins? Love those!

I love the Harlequin's American line. It's very unique, as you pointed out, as they consider plot and sensuality elements across the board.

And very often, they just make me laugh. What a great escape.

Thanks for joining us, Barbara and I'll be searching for Family Matters today.

Janet Dean said...

Welcome to Seekerville, Barbara! Secondary characters are such fun to write. I enjoy the quirky, fun or irksome elements they bring to our stories that the hero and heroine can't. Love that your characters drive your plots and the level of sensuality. I'd compare that to my characters determining how much emphasis the faith journey is given. Your books sound wonderful!!

Thanks, Dianna and Julie, for the muffins and pancakes!


KC Frantzen said...

Welcome to Seekerville from a friend of Seekerville. :)

Thank you for being here and your fun post. I think what you're saying is characters must be, well, characters! Works for me! Would enjoy reading your work.

Happy fall y'all! It's here in TN for sure and we're lovin' it!

(Is TODAY THE birthday?? Happy happy happy!!)

Melanie Dickerson said...

Barbara, I love it when I feel like the characters are driving the story, instead of the author manipulating the characters! Great work! And your books sound fabulous!

Barbara White Daille said...


I'm very happy to be here to share some of my writing thoughts with you.

We've had a couple of formatting and technical difficulties that I should explain.

My name is Barbara WHITE Daille. ;-)

And there's a paragraph and book cover for THE SHERIFF'S SON that was somehow sucked into the ether of the Internet. If you got slightly lost reading the middle of the blog post, that could be why. LOL

I'm hoping the missing paragraph will be added sometime later today.

And now, on to the pre-party!


Barbara White Daille said...

Dianna - welcome and congrats on being first!

Thanks for bringing breakfast. Any chocolate chip muffins?

And thanks for the comment. I love when characters take over. Not that it makes it any easier for us--in fact, sometimes things become even more difficult. But as I said, it's all fun.


Barbara White Daille said...

Tina - I'm happy to be here.

And thanks so much. I hope you enjoy my stories!


Barbara White Daille said...

Kirsten - glad you enjoyed the post.

And you're so right to give the characters their lead. Chances are it will be a better book for it.


Barbara White Daille said...

Julie - I don't know how you missed me, but I'm so happy you've found me now! ;-)

And I love cinnamon apple pancakes. Thanks!


ArkansasCyndi said...

I am really looking forward to getting my hands on Family Matters!

And you're right about sex scenes and characters. Sometimes I read books that feel like the sex is forced between the H/H, as though the author is trying to "sex-up" the book when the groundwork between the H/H for sex isn't there.

Great blog.

Barbara White Daille said...

Audra - you're right about the humor. I love to add it to my books.

I appreciate your support!

And I hope you enjoy FAMILY MATTERS.


Barbara White Daille said...

Janet - thanks for the welcome.

Love your comparison about the level of faith in your books. I agree completely.

Another similarity is that my characters often struggle with faith in themselves. I'd thought about including that in my blog, but the post might have gone on forever. ;-)

Thanks again for your comments.


Barbara White Daille said...

KC - I think the birthday is actually a few days away. We're in pre-party mode right now!

And yes, characters must be characters. You've gotten the point exactly.

I hope you'll look for the books--and, of course, enjoy them. ;-)



Barbara White Daille said...

Melanie - thanks a bunch!

I'll confess, I do try hard to write books that others will enjoy, so I'm very glad they sound good to people. LOL


Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi Barbara, Welcome to Seekerville.

I have read your books and met you of course being a fellow Southwesterner. I always do enjoy your characters.

Glad to see you here and sharing with us. Have a fun day.

Barbara White Daille said...

Cyndi - thanks so much for stopping by.

I'm thrilled that you're looking forward to FAMILY MATTERS.

And I so agree about sometimes reading love scenes--or others--that sound forced.

This writing is a tough gig, isn't it? LOL


Barbara White Daille said...

Barbara here again.

Thanks to everyone who has left comments so far.

I'm going to be heading out to the day job soon so probably will not be back again till this evening.

But keep those comments coming!

I'll pop in to the blog as soon as I'm home.

Y'all have fun partying today!


Wendy said...

Love the "It's All About the Characters" review.
To go along with the morning goodies I have Turtle Mochas.
Happy Birthday Seekerville!
Please enter me in the drawing.
Thank you for the chance.

Julie Lessman said...

BARBARA ... Sooo good to have you here in Seekerville today because you sound like MY kind of author -- a "character-driven" one!!!

Love your comment that, "Along with an appealing hero and heroine, strong secondary characters are encouraged, which is wonderful as far as I’m concerned."

I'll second that!! I totally agree with you that "it's all about the characters," which is how I like to write my books as well. To me they ARE the plot, the tension, the romance, so bring 'em on and bring 'em on strong!!

Would love to win one of your books, but as a Seeker, they don't let me, so I can see right now that I'm going to have to add your books to my wish list!!


Mary Connealy said...

Good morning. The wrong name was my fault. All fixed now.
Sorry about that.
I love learning how authors develop characters, it all helps sharpen my skills. Thanks for being on, Barbara.

christicorbett said...

Congrats to Seekerville on their very important anniversary!

Barbara, your books sound amazing. I love the idea that the characters dictate where the storyline goes and how the romantic scenes play out. Great interview and thanks for sharing snippets from your books.

As for the food everyone always mentions on this site, it's got me drooling! (I type this with only a half drank, lukewarm cup of coffee by my side which explains the hunger)

Christi Corbett

Kav said...

Kudos to Seekerville for once again expanding my literary horizons. I am blushing as I admit I have never read a Harlequin American before but I'm about to change that. I'll definitely pick up Family Matters in October.

I did a little cyber snooping and the words 'amusing' and 'eccentric characters' kept coming up. That definitely sounds like my kind of book and a great first experience with the Harlequin American line.

cynthia said...

Thank you for the great posting. Secondary characters can be fun can't they--especially when they are "encouraging" or "unknowingly getting in the way" of the two main characters. Thanks for the book drawing. They sound like interesting books.
cynthiakchow(at) earthlink (dot) net

Ruth Logan Herne said...

I love quirky characters, Barbara! Love 'em to bits, they're just so stinkin' normal...

And am I the only one here who is totally over-the-top in love with Cyndi's pic, those skate-boots????



Barbara the books sound wonderful and like too many, I didn't even know Harlequin American romances existed until Tina told me about them a couple of years ago.

Great stories. Wonderfully fun, down home and spot on with great characterization. And huge thank yous for coming by the pre-game party, sippin' a little caffeine among friends, hangin' out.

And (totally off-subject) um, has anyone noticed Mary has changed up her pic to an ACFW conference pic? You might think that's gutsy, but I KNOW it's because she's really hiding, using a more distant shot so as to blend in with the woodwork.

Mary, Mary, Mary.... :)

You look adorable. Beautiful.

I'm lovin' the idea of those mochas, too. Oh my, I could use one right now, a turtle mocha?

I'm quite excited.

Cinnamon rolls with butter frosting for the afternoon crowd, fresh from the oven, and nice chewy dough, just soft enough to be almost underbaked.

The way God intended a good cinnamon roll to be.

karenk said...

happy birthday!!

a wonderful posting.

kmkuka at yahoo dot com

Debby Giusti said...

Hi Barbara,
Thanks for being with us in Seekerville!

I'm excited about the October Birthday BASH!!!! Whoo-hoo!!!

Hope to see some of you at M&M this weekend.

Renee (SteelerGirl83) said...

Oooo these all look great! I will have to look into them. I read a little bit of everything but I oftern shy away from general market romances because sometimes things get *really* out of hand LOL but these look great! Thank you Barbara for sharing them.

XOXO~ Renee

Mary Connealy said...

By the way, Barbara, I meant to add that these are spectacular covers.

Mary Connealy said...

Yes, I changed my photo. it's like a shift in the tectonic plates. The world is shaken...and it doesn't happen very often...and we're all probably a little worse off.

Project Journal said...

Hi Barbara!
I regretfully have to say that I had never heard of you before! After reading this and getting to know you a little, I want to try and find some of your books! Lol...however, it would be nice to win the first : P Lol!

Anyway, that was a really nice post. I always like hearign the story behind the scenes, so to speak. I mean, I feel like if we compare books to theater, the "secondary characters" are like the ensemble. You know? They usually don't get the credit they deserve, but they are a necessity for the show to go on! It was really cool to see your take on them...

Okay, I have to ask, where in the East Coast were you from?? New England or not that far up? Lol....

Thanks so much for taking the time to be here today!!
Talk to you later,

Barbara White Daille said...

Hi, everybody,

Back again. Thanks for partying while I was gone.

I'm guessing Tina kept the coffee pot filled. ;-)

I've brought tea and scones and a seven-layer chocolate cake. Enjoy.

Off to read comments!


Barbara White Daille said...

Sandra - so great to see you here!

I'm having a wonderful time at the blog.

Thanks for the warm welcome and your kind comment about my books.

Hope to see you in "real" life soon.


Barbara White Daille said...

Hi, Wendy - I appreciate your comment.

And you're definitely entered in the drawing. ;-)


Barbara White Daille said...

Julie - thanks for your comments! We sound like two of a kind as far as what we like to read and write.

So sorry you can't be entered in the drawing. :-(

May you get everything on your wish list, though. LOL


Barbara White Daille said...

Mary - the name change could just have easily been me.

Thanks for the speedy fix this morning.

And thanks so much for inviting me to blog here. You girls really know how to throw a party!


Barbara White Daille said...

Christi - aww, thanks so much for your nice comments.

Hugs on the hunger. Please do have some of that chocolate cake.


Barbara White Daille said...

Kay - wow. Thanks for sharing the results of your cyber snooping. ;0) I'm honored.

Am also thrilled that you'll be looking for FAMILY MATTERS. Hope you enjoy it!


Barbara White Daille said...

Cynthia - you're very welcome.

Yes, secondary characters can be wonderful additions to a story. I've had tons of fun with them in all of my books.


Barbara White Daille said...

Ruth - I'm so glad you've been enlightened. LOL

Thanks much for the sweet rolls. I LOVE cinnamon, second only to chocolate.


Barbara White Daille said...

Karen - thanks a bunch!


Barbara White Daille said...

Debby - you're welcome.


Barbara White Daille said...

Renee - I'm pretty sure things don't get very far out of hand in any of my books. LOL

If you look for them, I hope you enjoy!


Barbara White Daille said...

Mary - thanks. I *really* did hit it lucky with all my covers, and I'm so thankful.

FAMILY MATTERS was actually a fabulous stroke of luck because it goes SO well with my revamped web site. But I had no idea this would happen, since I only received the cover a few days before the site launched!


Barbara White Daille said...

Mary again - LOL on the world being shaken.

You are just too funny, girl!


Barbara White Daille said...

Hannah - well, I'm happy that you've heard of me now. LOL

Thanks for the kind words on my post. I agree that secondary characters/casts don't always get the credit they deserve.

Romances are a great place for them, though, because strong supporting characters are balanced by an equally strong hero and heroine--which results in some ***excellent*** books.


apple blossom said...

Happy Birthday Seekerville.

Oh, these all look wonderful.

Fun reads. Please cound em in thanks.

ABreading4fun [at] gmail [dot] com

Barbara White Daille said...

Kav - my face is red! So sorry for misspelling your name. Tired eyes tonight, I guess.

A thousand apologies....


Barbara White Daille said...

Hi, Apple Blossom.

Thanks for the comment on my books!

You're definitely counted in.


Edie Ramer said...

I love quirky characters! Family Matters sounds like such fun. I'm looking forward to reading it.

Carol said...

Character driven stories give more depth for the reader. Glad you listen to your characters! HQ Romance line is one of my favorites. I look forward to reading Family Matters. Soon!

Barbara White Daille said...

Edie - thanks so much! I hope you enjoy the book.

And yes, I'm so into those quirky characters, too. They really perk up the writing life.


Barbara White Daille said...

Carol - you're so right. Characters need to be multi-layered when they're the ones running the show.

Hope you enjoy FAMILY MATTERS.

I can't believe how soon *soon* really is!!