Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Friends: Our characters need them too.

Sandra here. This past weekend I flew home for a special occasion. Twice a year my high school girlfriends and I get together to enjoy a weekend slumber party. We catch up on all our news and have been doing this for years.

Since we all live in different locations, we take turns finding a hotel in the different areas and hang out for the weekend. One of our favorite places is the Cottonwood Resort in Scottsdale during the summer. You can stay at a posh resort for next to nothing. We get a suite by the pool and you get the idea.

Last week I was in Newport, Oregon. A girlfriend I went to first grade with lives there. We have been in touch all these years, mainly at Christmas. It had been years since we'd seen each other, but once together, it was like old times. We picked blueberries and canned pickles and talked the whole time. How fun is that?

In Arizona, we have friends called the FAST group. FAST is an acronym for our last names. We get together about once a month and either go camping or go for an all day picnic out in the desert. We also traditionally spend New Year's Eve together and take turns at each one of our houses.

Then their are my Seeker Sisters. Our connection is writing. We get together once or twice a year at the major conferences, but are connected daily online.

We started as a support group to help each other through the process of getting off Unpubbed Island. In the process we've met all of you.

I'm sure you can think of other friends connected through church, work, sports, spouse, children, parents, support groups, special interest groups, etc.

All of our friends shape us.

They are essential to our well being.

They are the part of our lives we cannot live without.

Our characters need friends too.

Like our real friends, the friends of our hero and heroine can shape them, deepen their character, show their personality and describe them for us.

The friends I have listed above can each show others who I am. The friends of your characters can do the same thing.

Dialogue between friends can impart information such as political beliefs, moral ethics, religious affiliations, past history, issues of conflict.

Your secondary characters can bounce off their fears, joys, victories, etc. with each other.

And your secondary characters can kick your hero and heroine in the behind. Just like your friends do. (Okay Ruthy, I won't tell on you)

In my romance PRICE OF VICTORY Debra and her friend Cindy (also her trainer) are having a conversation. During this conversation we learn of Debra's reaction to meeting the hero. We learn why she wants to become a pro cyclist. We learn about her personality.

Cindy went on to explain. “Sterling Wade. Isn't he the most?" Cindy sighed as she pushed and poked at Debra’s calf muscles.
Debra flinched at the added pressure. “Not bad.” Wade definitely had appeal, a sense of honor and a caring smile.
"It's not every day you meet a guy like that, and he definitely made it known that he’s interested in you."
"You know I don't have time for involvement now." She should feel indifferent but his flirting had pleased her. Odd. She was usually immune, especially while racing. It must've been the high she'd gotten off her win.
"You need to date more,” Cindy rambled on with the familiar theme.
Debra half listened while sounds of other cyclists milling about outside the van divided her attention.
"I mean, you spend every spare moment either working out or riding your bicycle. You've got to have some fun in your life."
"Riding is my fun,” Debra insisted. “Sure it would be great to kick back and take a few of life's pleasures, but I have to accomplish my goal first.” She couldn't bear to see any more tears in Mamá's eyes. She refused to continue to put her brothers and sisters on the spot with her father’s anger because they financed and defended her. No. She had to do this.
“You're a beautiful woman,” Cindy said. "I mean look at that hair. And your figure is perfect."
How many times had she fought off unpleasant advances while in junior high and high school? In the barrio Debra had learned the hard way that her beauty was best hidden under the guise of a rough tomboy exterior. "That isn't always an asset."

Today please share how you use friends of your hero and or heroine. I will draw a name from the comments and the winner can choose either a copy of PRICE OF VICTORY or one of my children's picture books. Check my website Children's Books By Sandy for children's books that are available.

Since I picked so many blueberries I have a feast featuring the yummy fruit.

For breakfast we have blueberry stuffed waffles, blueberry scones, blueberry pancakes and blueberry syrup, baked apples stuffed with blueberries and blueberry compote.

For lunch (or dinner) we have cornish game hens with sauteed blueberries, Neskowin blueberry salmon, and Blueberry-onion sauced pork tenderloin.

For a lighter touch there is blueberry waldorf salad or a tossed green salad with tarragon blue cheese blueberry dressing or blueberry-shrimp salad with lemon vinaigrette.

For an afternoon pick me up there are blueberry parfaits, blueberry ice cream and blueberry-watermelon frosties.

I baked blueberry pie, but there are plenty more desserts. Check out this Oregon Blueberry website for the recipes.

Have a great day.


Virginia said...

I really, really thought I'd ahd enough of blueberries. And then I read this post and I want to go get started on that blueberry ice cream at 9:30 PM!!
Friends... In my contemporary ms, the best friend of our heroine is the one who first suggests that the hero is 'just like' the heroine, even though to the casual observer, they're more enemies than anything else. I love how friends can plant that seed, lift the curtain, and be the still, small voice our heroines need to hear!

Vince said...

Hi Sandra:

I needed this post. All my heroes are loners. I have not developed friends to any extent. I need to rethink this.

I do have problems with friends in novels when they are one dimensional plot contrivances. This happens when the friends are just there so the reader can be shown what the hero or heroine is thinking. I call them sounding boards.

To be real to me I need friends to have faults and follow their own character arc. I think this is a neglected art. How many friends are different because of growth by the end of the story?

What do you think about this? I need work on creating friends. Wonderful post. Thanks.


vmres (at) swbell (dot) net

Cheryl Wyatt said...

Ohmy! Pics of the food...I am so hungry!

I'm with Virginia. LOVE those blueberries!

Great post, Sandra. I love to use friends of characters to help endear the hero/heroine both to readers and to each other. It's hard to do it unobtrusively though so it often comes out in dialogue between friends. It's a great way to cause less narration to feed the reader important info into the character's struggles and motivation I think.

Thought-provoking post. I look forward to reading all the comments!


KC Frantzen said...

I'm now STARVING. Shheeeessshhh.
Yummo, Sandra!

I was interested in your post especially because it's something I'm working on. You've given me great ideas here and I love your insights. (And all the fun trips too!)

With my May the K9 Spy character, her "brother" and "sister" bring out different aspects to her character. I don't think I consciously thought about it until now though!


I'd be excited to win one of the kiddo books or whatever! Such a pleasure to learn from the Seeker Sisters! :)

Where are the napkins? I'm diving in! ;)

Jan Drexler said...

Thanks for the reminder Sandra! And I love the way you have worked to keep your friendships going over the years.

I'm also so glad you Seekers came together, and then opened yourselves up to us. When I'm published, you all will certainly be mentioned in the acknowledgements!

I had just come to the conclusion that something was missing in my WIP when I saw the announcement of today's post in the WE - of course! My main characters will get pretty boring if they only talk to each other! I needed that kick in the pants!

I see friends as being the perfect way for readers to get to know the characters.

My heroine's friend is her sister - someone she was very close to before they both grew up and got married. The challenge is to get back to that closeness now that their lives have changed and I'm sure it will take some soul searching conversations.

My hero's friend is the heroine's brother - someone he's just met, but they have a lot in common. We can learn a lot about both the hero and the heroine from the conversations these two men have as they get to know each other.

Your blueberry cuisine sounds wonderful - save some for me, please. I'm spending tomorrow at Devils Tower.

Hmm, it may be a good setting for a book...

Anonymous said...

stories have to have friends- then the friends have to have a story! then you have a series ...right?!
yum blueberries! Nothing's growing down here - too hot though we did get down to 98 I think...


Ruth Logan Herne said...

You had me at "hello".

But the blueberry party nailed it, Sistah!

Great post, Sandra. And check out those pool babes. Whoa. ;)

My personal friends get sorely neglected, and that's how I know they're true friends because they still love me even if we don't see each other for way too long.

In Mended Hearts (which releases TODAY, yes, shameless plug, Sandra won't mind) Hannah's singular friend is Megan Russo Romesser, our heroine from Small-Town Hearts. Hannah's a loner by design now, but you can tell her heart needs people. She's just afraid to let them in. Afraid they'll see too much. But Megan knows when to push and when to let things slide and their relationship is a big part of Hannah's growth pattern. She works for Megan in the candy store and cookie store, so they have to be together a lot, but it's got to be organic togetherness in a 60K category romance book because the story needs to focus on hero and heroine, right? Otherwise it can seem forced to push the friends in.

And I love me some quirky characters in books! Bring on the Boo Radleys of the world.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Vince, I'm so with you on that. Planted friends (although, who knows, I might be guilty of that too) annoy me. Sometimes all it takes is a couple of sentences scattered throughout chapters to make the friend relationship seem more real and less contrived.

Good lesson and reminder. Thank you.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Hey, Jan, remember, you can use 'plants' too. Plants are people (just like God does with us) who come into our lives and plant that seed of home or remorse or joy or pain.

Think of a random meeting with a young mother in a store. She's obviously overwrought and maybe a little down on her luck, but she says something to the heroine that makes her realize that motherhood and babies aren't just drool and spit and poop. And it can be as simple as an expression or a few words, or just watching the actions.

Random people can thrust your story forward too. And they're a good device to have in your back pocket. It surprises the reader and makes your point without you having to 'tell' it.

I used Pepper aka "Ginger" as a plant in Reunited Hearts. Her random meeting with the hero and heroine on the playground hinted that life had a funny way of turning out all right when you least expect it.

Renee Ann said...

This was a sweet post to read first thing this morning. I loved seeing all you Seekers together. What a support you all have been to each other! It's inspiring!

Kav said...

Hey -- I had blueberries in my oatmeal this morning so I'm already in tune with the blueberry fest. And how about peach/blueberry upside down cake to go with that blueberry ice cream? Just got a recipe for that yesterday and I have to try it...soon!

Love this look at friendship in a book. After reading Vince's comment, I realize that it's a fine balancing act. In my WIP my heroine has two best friends. They have been through a lot together -- really became family for each other. However, at the start of my book, my heroine has left to take a job in a different town which has isolated her from her support group. She still has phone and email contact -- but part of the plot is that she's vulnerable in her aloneness. Enter hero. :-) Now I'm thinking I might have isolated her too much. I'll have to reassess that.

Just finished Love by the Book by Cara Lynn James and I think she had a very effective friendship between her heroine, Melinda and her friend, Glynna. Glynna was an anchor to Melinda's flightiness...at the beginning anyway. Their friendship provided conversations about values and faith and through those conversations the reader really sees how Melinda is changing -- growing up. Very effective use of friendship in a novel, I think.

Rose said...


Such a yummy menu today! That ice cream made my mouth water.

I do like friends in novels but like Vince, I don't want them there as a plot contrivance and I must say that I haven't really used friends in my novels either. But I do enjoy reading novels where the hero/heroine has friends so....maybe I should start thinking about adding some to my stories!

I think it's neat that you have friends to gather with several times a year!

RRossZediker at yahoo dot com

Sandra Leesmith said...

Well said Virginia, And our friends do that in real life too.

Did you enjoy that ice cream?

Cara Lynn James said...

I love blueberries, too!

In my stories I like to have a close friend. Sometimes she acts like a sounding board, sometimes she or he adds humor etc.

My best friend from high school has stayed one of my closest friends for 40 plus years. She helped me with some medical info on Love by the Book. She called me a few days ago surprised I had thanked her in the books acknowledgment. How could I do anything less for a friend who has always been there to help?

Best friends in fiction and in life are so important!

Sandra Leesmith said...

Morning Vince.

You have read our Seeker books. My Seeker sisters are experts at developing those friends in their stories. In fact, many of those friends end up in their own book.

Right now I'm reading Glynna Kaye's At Home In His Heart and Sandi's (the heroine) best friend is Meg from her first book Dreaming of Home.

I love the fact I can peek in on a past heroine that I came to love and see that they are still doing well.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi Cheryl, I know I missed you, you night owl you. Yes, you do a great job with the friends of your characters.

You and Vince are right though. You have to be careful they don't become contrived meetings. The friends need to be as alive and real as your primary characters.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi KC, so what did you decide on or are you trying everything? The waffles are sounding good to me right now. Or the pie. Or the scones.

Where's Helen with the coffee?

I put on a pot of chocolate velvet.

KC I'm so glad Mae gets along with her brother and sister. You're right. Family, like friends can work as great secondary characters.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi Jan, Oh I'm jealous. I love Devil's Tower. It will be a terrific place to set a book. (Remember ET?)

I can hardly wait to read how you developed those friendships in your wip. So keep working on them so you wip will become a debut novel. smile

Audra Harders said...

OMG, Sandra! Your friendship post hooked me, but your blueberry buffet will keep me coming back all day long! I'll start with waffles stuffed with blueberries, please : )

Great stuff here. Friends go a long way in our lives and in the lives of our characters. Hey, if I can't go to an AZ resort, book a suite and sit pool side, I can certainly live out my my fantasy by letting my characters enjoy!

Okay, seriously though, you are absolutely right in letting a good friend help reveal secrets, truths or just tell the character she's looking really good that day.

But the flip side is being careful not to let that friend become a crutch. In the original version of Rocky Mountain Hero, my heroine Melanie was accompanied by her best friend as they traveled through the mountains. The very first thing my editor noted in the revisions was to lose the friend.

Apparently a lot of the dialogue and information I was sharing with the reader needed to be shared between the hero and heroine! LOL!

I ended up taking the old time friend out of the book and replacing her with friends just met. Much better.

No man or woman is an island. Our characters need friends. Just don't make the mistake I did and let all the important conversation come in the form of "girl talk" rather than the hero and heroine learning things from and about each other.

Great topic, Sandra!! I'm raising my blueberry smoothie glass in a toast to my Seeker friends and all our friends here in Seekerville!!

Ummm, did I see a blueberry compote around here? Ooo, the watermelon with blueberries looks yummy...

Sandra Leesmith said...

Morning Susanna, You got it! A series. What a novel idea. smiling.

And our Seekers do that marvelously.

Stay cool. You must be down in the Southwest where I am. 114 degrees yesterday. yikes.

Julie Lessman said...

HOLY COW, Sandra, way to get the taste buds going early in the morning, girlfriend ... both with the food AND the blog post!!!

You said, "The friends I have listed above can each show others who I am."

Oh, AMEN to that, my friend -- I LOVE having "friends" in a book, but it is a lot of work, at least for me, because you have to develop them somewhat so their opinion/input on the character is something that is both believable and something the reader trusts and wants to accept.

When Keith and I got married, we were very content watching TV by ourselves with our golden retriever, but then I noticed after a few years that our family room seemed almost empty and lonely, which is when we started thinking about kids. WOW ... what a difference that made in a room, from toys scattered everywhere, to giggles and shrieks nonstop. It just kind of rounded out our lives with fullness and joy.

Well, I see the friends to our characters (subordinate characters) as much the same way. It's okay having the hero and heroine on stage all the time, but when you add friends, it rounds the book out, gives it a cozier feeling in addition to imparting valuable information about the main characters in a way that's believable and profitable (i.e. a means of instilling additional laughter, tears and additional depth of emotion).

I found that friends particularly help to endear an otherwise not so endearing hero or heroine to the reader, such in my case with Charity O'Connor, the vixen in book 1 of The Daughters of Boston. Poor Charity ... I put her on the wrong foot with the reader right off the bat, so I had to work hard to win the readers' affection for her, which I think will finally come to pass in my next book, A Heart Revealed. Here is just a glimpse of Charity through Emma's eyes, which in turn, helps to round out Emma as a character:

Crossing her silk stockinged legs, Charity eased back into the chair to contemplate her friend, arms folded and blue eyes pensive. “Speaking of ‘home,’ are you going to see yours anytime soon?”

The question brought a smile to Emma’s lips. Charity, the caretaker. To some, a bulldozer, to others a tad bossy, but to Emma, the epitome of a God-given friend—honest, caring and true. An enigma, her great-grandmother had once called her—someone who begrudges fiercely and loves fiercely, which Emma knew to be true. Although, she thought with affection, Charity had certainly mellowed with time. Emma studied her friend now, amazed that Charity’s striking beauty never made her feel less. A deep sense of fondness warmed her heart. Perhaps because Charity’s fierce devotion had always made her feel as if she were so much “more.”

Great post, Sandra!


Sandra Leesmith said...

Morning Ruthy, You are exactly one of those friends. It has been waaaay too long since I've had a Ruthy hug. But the Internet helps. What a wonderful invention.

And Vince, Ruthy is an expert at bringing those friends in to her novels. I love how Megan and Hannah interact in Mended Hearts. And yes Ruthy, you are shameless, but you're such a good author I have to plug right along with you. smile

Sandra Leesmith said...

Thanks Renee, We have been a great support to each other. You Seeker friends have been a great support also. Isn't it wonderful how we can all share? And you need support in this crazy writing business.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Oh my Kav, Peach blueberry upside down cake! Please please send me that recipe. Sounds delicious.

I'm impressed how you used the friends in your wip. And you're right. It is a fine balancing act.

And thanks for reminding us about the friendship in Cara's novel Love By the Book. Cara is a master at developing those relationships.

Jan Drexler said...

I had to pop in to get some of those blueberry waffles before we head out on our day trip (yum on the waffles, by the way!).

Just reading through the comments so far has given me almost as much food for thought as the original post - I have a feeling this is going to be a post AND comment printout.

Devils Tower as a setting makes me think more along the lines of Deep Trouble than Close Encounters...and maybe bringing in some of the Native American legends...Of course, there will have to be some cowboys thrown in...

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi Rose, When you add the friends in your novel, think about developing them as carefully as you develop your main characters. You don't want them to take over, but when they are so interesting and the reader wants to find out more about them, then you have your next novel. smile.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi Cara, How sweet that your friend called you. What a great thing to acknowledge her in Love By the Book - a terrific read btw.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Morning Audra, Thanks for sharing that information. Yes, as others have pointed out we have to be careful that the friends don't take over the story.

How wonderful that your editor pointed out that flaw and encouraged you to rework those conversations with the hero and heroine. I loved how Melanie met her friends in Rocky Mountain Hero.

Patty Wysong said...

Friends are something I went back and layered in and will be putting more layers of them in when I do this pass through the ms. They do add a lot, just like my friends add so very much to my life. We all need friends. Even our characters. =]

This is something I've been mulling over as I get ready to dive into this round of edits so this post is very timely. Thanks, Sandra.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Oooooh Julie, Talk about getting the taste buds going. I loved rereading that scene with Charity and Emma. And Emma shows up in later books too. How fun is that?

If you haven't read Julie's Daughters of Boston and Winds of Change series you are missing out. She is a master with her secondary characters.

And she's great at being a friend too.

Melanie Dickerson said...

Wow, you have a lot of friends, Sandra!!! Sounds like you have a lot of fun.

In The Healer's Apprentice, my heroine's best friend, Hildy, helps show how practical Rose is--or tries to be--because Hildy is such a silly romantic.

In The Merchant's Daughter, the heroine's best friend is a guy she grew up with. They're more like brother and sister. At one point she has to choose between protecting her friend or trusting the hero. Sticky situation! She wants to help the hero, but she can't betray her friend! Lots of lovely angst.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi Jan, You're so right. Mary does a great job bringing in spectacular settings into her novels. Deep Trouble was set in the Grand Canyon area.

Have fun at Devil's Tower. There are lots of prairie dogs there. It is where I got my idea for Percival the Naughty Prairie Dog

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi Patty, I'm glad this post helps. Many of the comments are helpful too as they remind us to be careful and not make the friend encounters contrived. The secondary characters need full dimension as much as our main characters do.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Yes, Melanie, I'm blessed to have so many lovely friends.

Thanks for reminding us of that angst with your heroine between her friend and the hero. You did a marvelous job with that.

travelingstacey said...

I was wondering how you get a great deal on a resort! : ) Sounds awesome!

The first thing that came to my mind was that a friend in a story can help lighten up a serious main character. My main character has been through a lot...tragedy and heartache...so her friend in the story brings some humor and lightheartedness to her life. A friend can also help another character develop spiritually in a lot of different ways.
Thanks for the post, Sandra...I loved hearing about all the fun stuff you and your friends do! I love spending good quality time with my BFF's too : )
God bless~Stacey

Cara Lynn James said...

I think sometimes the friendship of the heroine and close friend can't be developed as much as I writer would like because the word count isn't high enough. The romance takes priority.

In Love by the Book Melinda's best friend and confidant, Glynna, has more than the role of sounding board. She has a small sub-plot of her own.

In A Path toward Love (due to my editor) in 9 days my hero's close friend (but not true confidant) also plays an important part in the story. I think--I hope--their relationship adds some humor.

ZachandZoesMom said...

Friends are wonderful! {Proverbs 27:17~ Iron shapeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.}
Ok, so now I am hungry for blueberries!!! :) I would love to make blue berry jam! My agenda today is canning pomegranate jelly though! :)

Missy Tippens said...

Oh, Sandra, I love friends who have gorgeous blueberries to share with me!! haha Your photo literally made my mouth water. I adore fresh blueberries, and they're just about past season for getting good ones around here. The last batch came from Canada.

I have such fun writing best friend characters. They can usually tell my characters the truth they're not ready to hear. :)

Sandra Leesmith said...

Yes, yes, Stacey, Friends do bring out the humor and lightheartedness in real life too. I love how you used that with your heroine.

And yes, check out the resorts off season. They offer great deals so they can keep their staff during those slow times.

Blessings to you also. smile

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi Cara, Best wishes on meeting that deadline. And you're right about not having enough room for some of those friends. That is why they need their own story in the next book. smile

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi Joanna, Are you going to share some of that pomegranate jelly? Sounds yummy.

And thanks for the Bible reference. Some of our best friends are those characters in the Bible who teach us so much.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi Missy, You do a terrific job with the friends of your characters. They give us that home town feeling that is so prevalent in your books.

Check out Missy's A Family for Faith and see what I mean. smile

Kirsten Arnold said...


You're so right about friends, both in real life and our books. The friends in my stories reflect my real life friends. They inspire, bring laughter, share tears and kick in the backside.

My current wip is a sequel. The heroes are cousins. And I use each to share moments the men wouldn't share ever with the heroine. The kind of things only another man would understand. They also encourage each other and tease each other mercilessly. So, they bring an element of fun into each other’s story.

The blueberry feast looks amazing. Think I'll dig in before getting back to work. :o)


Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi Kirsten, I love how you're using your secondary characters to bring out some fun and teasing. That's what makes a reader enjoy the book.

Best wishes.

Jackie S. said...

Great post, Sandra. Yes, friends are so very important....I cherish mine. Please include me in the drawing for your book! Thanks!!!

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Popping in with babies helping, armed with freeze-pops. Oy, how fun!

Sandra, thanks for the chocolate velvet, I need a 'hit'. And thank you, my friend for the kudos on Mended Hearts...


You made my day.

Tina Radcliffe said...

Sandra! You know how to eat!! I am coming right over.

My problem is always the secondary character who wants to take over, lol.

Gee much like bossy me!!

Sandra Leesmith said...

Thanks for popping on by Jackie.

Ruthy glad the coffee came in time.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi Tina, You? Bossy? Nahhhh.

I know what you mean about those secondary characters trying to take over. You did a great job with yours though in Rancher's Reunion. I can hardly wait to read Oklahoma Reunion out next month.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hey Vince, I had a thought about your loner hero. You could have his reaction to an intrusive friend that would show he is a loner and likes it that way.

Keli Gwyn said...

Sandra, I'm glad you have so many wonderful friends. Our friends add so much to our lives. I treasure all mine, which includes my Seekerville pals.

Because friends are so important in my life, I love giving my characters friends who are there for them when they need to talk things over, who can help point them in the right direction, or who can pose a question at just the right time.

Myra Johnson said...

Oh, wow, a whole smorgasbord of culinary delights! You're making me hungry, Sandra!

I have to confess I don't always remember to give my main characters a best friend to interact with, although I do often fill that role with family members and sometimes coworkers. I did develop a strong friendship bond in Romance by the Book, though, between shy Sailor and her outgoing librarian friend, Kathy.

Your post also brought to mind the friendship in my new favorite TV show, Bones. Dr. Brennan and Angela are such opposites, but Angela helps bring out Tempe's sensitive, softer side.

Good reminder about how friendships can enhance characterization and even provide some background for motivation!

Vince said...

Hi Sandra:

Last night when I saw the picture of the four couples, I thought for a moment that it was a family picture of me, my brothers, sister and our spouses! This must mean something. : )

BTW: Now I want to vacation at the Cottonwood Resort in Scottsdale. (We are staying at Missy’s condo at Orange Beach in September). I hope the Seekers can get me another vacation away from home!

We love the Phoenix area. I opened two stores in Mesa and Tempe years ago and wanted to stay. That summer it was hotter in Tulsa than it was in Phoenix. Just like this summer! Phoenix: a great place to beat the heat! (If you live in Tulsa.)

On Friends and Buddies

I think men have buddies (hunting buddies, golfing buddies, football buddies) but women have friends. Women will stay friends for years after one moves away. I don’t see men doing this very often unless it’s a reason to get away and go on a hunting trip.

With men, if you move, you find some more buddies.

It was a small part but the friend that really stands out to me is the priest in the “Daughters of Boston” series. As a reader, I wanted to be his friend as well. That’s powerful writing.

Friendship is a very important topic. Have the Seekers done a post on friendship before? I’m loving the comments today. (I really need them.)


P.S. My heroes tend to be loners so they can devote all their love, affection, and attention to the heroine.

Eva Maria Hamilton said...

Sandra you are so blessed to have so many close friends :)

I have a prominent best friend in Highland Hearts who is equally important to both the hero and heroine and she was fun to write :)

Cathy Shouse said...


I've been thinking more about friends and the true meaning because my daughter is growing up and making friends. Children today sometimes seem to have agendas, or it seems that way to me. Well, I guess adult women also are not always behaving as i think true friends would. Everything is so competitive today. :(

I hold everyone up to the standard of my friend from elementary school, whom I am still in touch with. We meet a couple times a month for lunch and live in towns that are nearby. It's wonderful. I have not always made an effort to keep in touch with friends that are farther away, which I regret. I am impressed that you have gone to the time, effort, and expense to do that.

When I create friends in my stories, I think of some version of my BFF. It kind of helps me remember their characteristics, although I will have to branch out from that as I write more stories. :)

I've also had some painful times and misunderstandings with friends. Has Sandra or anyone explored those in their writing?

I'd love to win the novel.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi Keli, Yes, you are a terrific friend. I'm glad you are using friends in your stories. They can really flesh out your heroine or hero.

Vince said...

Hi Ruth:


I really did laugh out loud. The guy in the next office wanted to know what the joke was! It’s a good thing I’m the boss.

When you wrote besides friends you can use ‘plants’, I visualized the heroine in “Winter’s End” going up to her tiny apartment and talking to her plants. How New Age I thought. That’s a way to show a character’s inner thoughts while emphasizing how lonely the character is.

Now real plants, people that is, need a foundation or at least foreshadowing. Otherwise they are going to look like plants. Can’t have plants look like plants unless the plants really are plants! (This could open the door to plantsers.)

I like the idea of quirks. One of my heroes always looks in the back seats of cars when he walks through a parking lot. He knew a child that died being left in a closed car in the summer.

Another hero has decorative mirrors set up in his office so he can watch people’s reactions when his back is turned to them. This is a way to ‘show’ at lot that is going on inside a person.

But talking to plants. That’s hard to top. : )


Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi Myra, Yes, family relationships are as important as friends as you showed in One Imperfect Christmas and Where the Dogwoods Bloom.

Their interaction can help round out our characters like friends do.

The blueberries are enticing aren't they? I brought some home for my Dad. He was so tickled to have some that I hand picked.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Morning Vince, That foursome photo is fun isn't it? My hubby does stay in touch with friends, although I have to admit, if it wasn't for me sending Christmas cards he wouldn't do it on his own.

But when we go to San Diego where he grew up, we always stop and see his friend he went to high school with. It is so funny how they can be apart for years and then pick right back up when they see each other.

I'm in love with your hero already. Good for him to want to devote all his time to the heroine. smile

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi Eva, Thanks for the heads up about Highland Hearts. Sounds intriguing. Tell us more.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi Cathy, Yes, we've all had those painful times with friends too and they make excellent grist for our novels. The emotional angst can deepen our characters tremendously. Off the top of my head, I know Glynna has portrayed that in her novels. Busybody friends can get our heroine in trouble. smile

I'm glad you've kept in touch with your friend from elementary school. There are memories you share that recent friends would never understand.

Thanks for sharing.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Vince, Mirrors. Love it. Now that really shows something about that character and I've only had that one snippet. Good going.


Debby Giusti said...

I'm gaining weight just by reading your blog. Love the blueberries! And your pics.

The FAST group? Fun name. Looks like a great group of friends.

Thanks for the Seeker pics! Didn't we have fun that evening at Tina's house! Thanks, Tina. You're a wonderful hostess!

Friends are important to our characters and their stories. Sometimes they reflect our hero's good qualities and sometimes they provide a contrast that paints a different picture.

Loved the excerpt from your book. Great writing...great story.

Joanne Sher said...

I SO need my friends- maybe that's why it comes so natural to me to bring friends in to my writing. Great post, Sandra!

Casey said...

Hmmm, I want some parfait! So good!

And you weren't too far from where I live! Ok, probably about 5 hours, but that's nuthin' when you live in cow country. ;)

Friends for my characters in my novels is something I'm still working on growing. I tend to start out with a smaller cast and see the need for a larger cast later on. I'm hoping to improve upon that for the next WIP go around. :)

Missy Tippens said...

Oh, Sandra's a good friend who not only shares blueberries but also links!! :)

Thank you!

Mary Connealy said...

My daughter says the best, healthiest, yummiest, easiest snack on the PLANET is blueberries mixed with cottage cheese.

I've yet to try it but she raved.

Mary Connealy said...

Also, a very wise woman once gave me this advice in judges comments.

To make your heroine likeable, have someone like her.

That sounds weird but it's so, so true. Because the PROCESS of having someone like her, makes you mold her character, even if she's prickly, feisty, sassy, grouchy, whatever characteristic your heroine has that makes her conflicted and in need of growth (which is the foundation of the book, right? You can't make her PERFECT) but the process of having her have a FRIEND who LIKES HER makes her behave likeably...to that friend and thus to the reader.

If you want to make a character likeable, have someone like her.

Carve THAT on your computer screen...no wait, maybe just make a note of it.

Pam Hillman said...

You know, Sandra's post about her friends is a good example to show us how to make our characters three dimensional.

Sandra and her AZ friends like to hike, and camp. And some like canning, some like sunbathing, while others enjoy getting together and talking about writing, and some of those enjoy knitting and baking, and horseback riding. I did see a common theme of GOOD food! lol

So, our character might have a host of friends who don't necessarily enjoy or participate in every activity she does.

If my character is a lawyer, and all he does is hang out with lawyers, he might be fairly flat.

But say he has two best friends from college: one is a pig farmer and the other is an engineer, and they get together once a year and go to Colorado to hunt.

The lawyer's professional colleagues probably aren't friends with the pig farmer or the engineer, etc. etc.

And I seriously doubt any of them want to go with him to the stockyard to the pig sale....

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi Debby, I like that you use secondary characters to show the good and the bad qualities. That makes your stories so well rounded.

And Debby is great at using her secondary characters to build up the suspense.

If you want a see a sample check out the first pages of The Officer's Secret

tip: blueberries by themselves are low in calories.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Thanks Joanne, I so agree, friends are important.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi Casey, What part of Oregon? Are you near Bend? We're headed there next.

I should check online and see if there are any writing groups in the area.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Thanks Missy. I get so proud of myself whenever I do that successfully. I'm so challenged when it comes to the Internet. LOL

Yum Mary, Your daughter's idea sounds wonderful. I love cottage cheese and peaches so why not add the blueberries.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Mary, I love that advice from the contest judge. What a concept. Makes it sound so simple and doable. Of course we know it isn't.

Out of Control, the first book in your new series has great use of secondary characters. Okay, in ALL your books, you do this remarkably well.

Ruth Logan Herne said...





What a hoot. I will defend my "plants" by example, my literal friend.

Waiting Out the Storm: The older farmer who brought the first pair of sheep to Sarah after the storm... he gave her a glimpse of pay it forward generosity in a town that hated her family/brothers. We'd never met him or his wife (though she sent banana bread later in the story), but we heard Sarah express joy that the other farmers respected her, so I dragged they guy in, kicking and screaming and made him give her two freshened ewes.

Yes. I'm that generous with someone else's stuff, LOL!

Made to Order Family: The young cop who stopped to make sure Rita was all right, and reminded her that his wife and mother-in-law LOVED her baking and always ordered their special occasion cakes from Rita. We don't know his name. All we know is that he swung by at the right time and place, just doing his job.

So that's what I mean by plants. Those everyday people that offer an alternative to desperation without having a clue they're doing it. Those niggling thoughts that wash clear. I always figure it's the Holy Spirit, doing his workaholic-type job here.

Love that dude. He rocks.


Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi Pam, You're so funny. Your lawyer just might want to go to that stock sale just to be with his buddy. Maybe he wants something from him. Maybe he's tired of being a lawyer and wants to get back to the basics-get his own pig farm.

Oops can you tell we are writers? LOL Can't turn off that imagination can we?

Sandra Leesmith said...

Ruthy, The Holy Spirit is a workaholic? Interesting concept. I guess with some of us He does get overworked. LOL

Sandra Leesmith said...

Pammers, Forgot to mention how much I enjoyed your blog yesterday. Wow. You rock with all that you've accomplished.

Stealing Jake is a big hit. woo hooo

Julie Lessman said...

Oh, it's a GORGEOUS, breezy, sunny afternoon on my lower deck and I'm able to write for the first time in days despite the noisy squirrels playing cat and mouse behind my chair and ottoman.

EXCEPT, SANDRA LEESMITH!!! All of a sudden, I have this AWFUL craving for blueberries!!! I wonder if Keith would drive out and get me some ... :)

VINCE ... LOVE the mirrors!! Great quirk and one my quirky widowed dad actually employed. He bolted a huge mirror catty-corner between the wall and my mom's antique hutch so he could see if anybody came up behind him. He also threw string over the telephone line outside his bedroom window so he could see which way the wind was blowing. He sounds like an eccentric, doesn't he? Fortunately, he was an eye surgeon as well, so his quirks didn't quite come off so badly. :)


Pam Hillman said...

Sandra, yes, the pig farmer's lawyer friend might go with him, but the lawyer has friends that aren't friends of the pig farmer, and would be horrified if somebody thought they were.

That was what I meant. That we each have layers, and different interests that make our friends an interconnnecte infrastructure.

And some (many) of those friends aren't friends with each other.

CatMom said...

Great post, Sandra (and blueberries - - YUM!!). My favorite fruit---love them in anything. ~ My real-life friends are super special to me, so in my writing my heroine/hero always has at least one really close friend. Usually that friend is an encourager (or sometimes my H/H must encourage that friend). Either way, I think friends are SO important (just like in real life!). Blessings, Patti Jo :)

Virginia said...

Ruth, workaholic Holy Spirit! I love it! *Big grin*

And I love the idea that there are people, with small acts of kindness or attention or comfort or simply a little chatter, that keep us from desperation. And they're following the nudges of the Holy Spirit. Lovely!

Sandra Leesmith said...

Sorry folks, ran off to see my dad. He's doing great btw. woo hoo

Julie, Did Keith find you some blueberries? If not, I'll wing some cyber berries your way.

Love that your dad used a mirror. Great idea.

Yes Pam, friends in our stories can have all those layers too which makes them more interesting. Just like in real life. smile

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi Patti Jo, Glad to hear you're already incorporating those friendships in your wip. And yes, not only do friends encourage the hero/heroine, but we find out another layer of our hero/heroine when they take the initiative and encourage their friends. Says something about them doesn't it?

Sandra Leesmith said...

I know for a fact the Holy Spirit nudges those acts of kindness we so need and at just the right time.

He uses us too. Hasn't it happened to you when a friend comes up and says "your words were just what I needed to hear" and you have no clue what they are talking about. LOL Our God does have a sense of humor.

Edwina said...

I LOVE blueberries so I'm glad I got here in time for dinner!! Very interesting question as it made me realize that my hero/heroine's friends have always been the one to lead them to or back to God. Hmmmmm....

Susan Anne Mason said...

Hi Sandra,

Good topic! I love best friends in a story. All my characters have, or develop, a strong friendship during the story.

One story turned into a trilogy this way. The best friend, a quirky character, demanded her own story! LOL.

sbmason at sympatico dot ca

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi Edwina, Great quality for friends in an inspirational novel. smile. The man who brought me back to God turned out to be one of my best friends. He became like a brother. He passed away last June and I miss him terribly. But I know he is with his best friend and I bet you can guess who that is. smile

Sandra Leesmith said...

Way to go Susan. Those friends do demand their own story sometimes. And a trilogy no less. Hmmmm

Cindy W. said...

My heroine has a male best friend from her youth but now estranged and her current best friend works for her. She's her right hand at work and lifts her up and boosts her ego at every turn in her complex life.

Smiles & Blessings,
Cindy W.


Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi Cindy, Thanks for sharing. Now I want to read this story and find out what happened to the estranged best friend.

Stephanie Rae Pazicni said...

Oh yum, blueberries! Favorite. My characters have friends, but my heroes tend to lead wretched, lonely existences - due to circumstances beyond their control, of course - until a certain someone frees them from their lonely existence and they find not just True Love, but worthy friends at long last. Sigh.

Pepper said...

Great post, Sandra!
Friends are essential, both on and off the page :-)
In my CR, most of my heroine's friends are her family members. Her sisters are also her BFFs :-)
My hero has two friends friends - one who is a social charmer and the other who is a social flee-er

(needless to say, I love friends because then they can have their own stories someday :-)

Pepper said...

Btw, I'm with Ruthy
The quirkier, the better ;-)

Inspiration is everywhere!

Glynna Kaye said...

Great post, Sandra! The relationships heroes and heroines have with their friends can tell us so much about them. There are so many different levels of friendship we could be using to reveal the character of our hero/heroine.

Courtney said...

I'm a little late reading this post:) I like when the main character has a friend. It adds some more depth to the story, as long as the dialogue is realistic.
This book sounds interesting, and I'm always up for another book to read:)


Sandra Leesmith said...

Aw Stephanie, you're definitely a romantic. smile

Sandra Leesmith said...

Oh yes, Pepper, friends must be so deep that they do have their own story. As Cara pointed out, one romance isn't enough to go into real depth for each friend or you lose sight of the romance. You've nailed the solution. Give them their own story.

And yes, the quirkier the better. Makes it a fun read.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi Glynna, As I mentioned in an earlier comment, you do the friend characters so well and its fun to find them in the next book.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi Courtney, You bring up a great point. The dialogue must be believable. Not too real or that gets boring, but realistic and true to the characters. This is a craft we all try to master.

Anonymous said...

a character having plants for friends tells a lot - I cry *sniff*. I was reading another book once where the heroine winds up a plastic fish and puts it in a bowl - that's how alone she is. I was bawling and the book was supposed to be kinda funny(at least I thought it would be)

and plants don't need their own story so no nagging emails asking when the cactus will get his story...


Sandra Leesmith said...

Susanna, You're too funny. No story for the cactus hmmmmm

Sandra Leesmith said...

Its been fun folks. I love all my friends here in Seekerville. Have a blessed night. I'll draw a winner tomorrow in case there are any more posts tonight.

Check the weekend edition for the winner.

Remember to ask for PRICE OF VICTORY at your local library.

Eileen said...

I needed this reflection; it made me review the reasons for my character's friends. Audra also added to my assessment of friends, especially about letting friends be a crutch. (Hey Audra, you live 15 minutes from me. I live in Loveland, CO...isn't that an appropriate name for a town?)

The friends in my book have contrasting purposes. My heroine's friend adds info about the historical setting and the character with humor while my hero's friend is the antagonist that symbolizes the political prejudice of the time...

Vince said...

Hi Sandra:

Our Tulsa library has a copy of Price of Victory. I just put in a request to read it.


Sandra Leesmith said...

wooo hooo Vince. I hope you like it. It was fun doing the research.