Friday, August 23, 2013

Letting Life Happen in Fiction with Guest Ann H. Gabhart

 "Why did you let that happen to your character?" a book club member asked me once. I don’t remember which book or what happened to my character that concerned her, but it was a fair question that started me wondering. Why did I let that happen? Or did I even “let” it happen?

One of Ann's book clubs!
 Are my characters just puppets in my hand? Or have they come to life so fully in my imagination that they head down life’s road with me dogging their footsteps yelling questions like a pesky reporter? “What are you doing next? Where are you going? Why’d you stop here? Are you sure that’s a good idea?” Actually, once the main characters are living their stories, I’m more than chasing after them. I become those characters while the story words form on my computer screen. 

That bonding with characters doesn’t happen without some work. I just turned in my third Rosey Corner book, Love Comes Home. That novel followed up my characters in Angel Sister and Small Town Girl. So for it, I didn’t have to come up with an entirely new set of characters. I did bring new faces into the story, but I also knew many of the characters like my closest family after writing two other books with them. I was thrilled they let me move in with them while I discovered the rest of their story. 

Now I’m on to a new book with characters I’m only just meeting. So how do these characters I’m going to be living with for the next few months come to life in my mind? The Bible says man was formed from the dust of the earth. Characters are formed from the dust of a writer’s mind. Every person I’ve ever met, every character I’ve ever read about or seen in a movie or on TV, every person I can imagine, all those are stored somewhere in my mind. When it’s time to create that new character, I take a pinch of this and a dollop of that from the glimmering treasure trove in my head until the person I’m looking for begins to form before my writer’s eye. 

Sometimes it’s a slow process of one brick of character piling on another brick. Other times, a character springs to life as soon as I think of her name. Lacey in The Blessed was that kind of gift. I had intended her to be a minor character in my third Shaker book, The Seeker, but as soon as I named her, she informed me she had a story of her own that would be wasted if she just got a few paragraphs in a minor role. 

Most of my main characters are not like Lacey. Most have to be developed. I’ve given talks where I let the audience participate in building a character by brainstorming the answers to a few basic questions. Is the character male or female? How old are they? Third question – name?  You can’t really name a character until you know the answers to the first two questions. Nationality and historic era make a difference with names too. Once we agree on a name, then we go on to whether the person is married, has children, what kind of work they do, whether they live in the city or country, etc. My audience always has great fun doing this character exercise and are often shocked at how an imagined person can so quickly come to life in their thoughts as we answer those few questions. By the end of our little exercise, I sometimes have to referee as many of the participants are ready to fight for their image of the character to be the person for our story. 

We don’t write the story, but if we did, what each person wrote would be completely different from all the other stories.  That’s because in the process of coming up with a story, they would have to answer many more questions about the character. One, what do they look like? But even more important, why do they do the things they do? I generally write a brief paragraph about my character’s appearance–eyes, hair color, features, height, build–general things that I need to remember. I let those images float around in my head to try to see my character, but even more important than how the character looks is how he or she thinks. That’s because I’m going to pitch them into some situations. In Words Spoken True, I dropped Adriane down in the middle of a very volatile summer in Louisville’s history, and then piled even more trouble on her. In my coming book, Christmas at Harmony Hill, Heather is faced with one challenge after another as she awaits the birth of her baby in this Civil War era Christmas story. 

So why do I let these things happen to my characters? Because life happens to people and I’m writing about people. I name them and put them in their time and place, but then the story takes over. Without my characters facing conflicts and hardships, I wouldn’t have much of a story. Readers love fiction because of the people, but they want those people to overcome challenges as they chase after their dreams. 

Readers also want to know what happens next. Those happenings might make us smile or perhaps weep or even be nervous as we hurry through the pages. But we want to live the story with the characters and believe they would really do the things they do in the book. So that’s why I set my characters down on the road of life and “let” things happen to them. 

When you read fiction, do you invite the characters into your heart and mind and live the story with them? Do you ever wonder what happens to them after you read the last page?

ANN H. GABHART, the author of several bestselling novels, has been called a storyteller, not a bad thing for somebody who never wanted to do anything but write down stories. She’s published twenty-five novels with more stories on the way. She keeps her keyboard warm out on a farm in Kentucky where she lives with her husband, Darrell. They have three children, three in-law children, and nine grandchildren. To find out more about Ann or her books visit Check out her blog, One Writer’s Journal, or follow her on Facebook, , Twitter, , or Pinterest,

Ann has generously offered to giveaway a copy of Small Town Girl, her July release from Revell to two Villagers who leave a comment. Winner announced in the Weekend Edition.

The Merritts of Rosey Corner, Ky., are back. Evangeline is marrying Pastor Mike, and the family could not be happier — except for Kate, who has loved Pastor Mike since she was 15. Birdie is smitten with Mike’s best man, Jay Tanner, but he seems interested in Kate. The joy of the wedding lingers until the bombing of Pearl Harbor, when the war begins and the young men must leave loved ones behind and go defend their country. Will Kate send away her only chance at dancing in the Rosey Corner moonlight?


  1. I love when I am able to get so emotionally connected to a character that I literally feel all of their emotions. It's so amazing how author's can write such vivid characters that you feel as though they are living breathing people. And yes I do sometimes wonder what happens to characters-that's why I love series so much since you can get a bit more of the characters you loved stories!

  2. I love getting connected to characters too, and I think that's why I like epilogues. They give the me a wee glimpse into the future to reassure me that the characters are still living their HEA.

    I have one friend who writes romantic suspense and she had a series of books where everyone just KNEW the woman who owned the investigations agency was going to end up with a Guy A. Then when she began writing the book she realized they weren't going to end up together. Another dude just stepped in and became the hero of that book. She caught all sorts of grief but reassured her readers they'd be more than pleased with how Guy A's life turned out. I know I was.

    And I'm off to bed. Had a yucky stomach bug today and was out of work. I'm normally very generous but decided to keep my bug to myself. *grin* I slept away most of the day and feel better. But I didn't get any baking done today. Someone else will have to provide goodies.

  3. Welcome, Ann!! Ann whose cover I am totally enamored with!

    Those characters really are the key.

    I wonder if you ever have secondary characters who give you trouble and have to be subdued with promises of their own book?

    Now I also must ask. Have you ever read Lenore Mattingly Weber?

    This series is slightly reminiscent of her Beany Malone series from the 1940's. I discovered them in elementary school in the sixties.

    I am so excited to read your books!!

  4. I love epilogues. I love it when you think about what the characters are doing long after you finish the book.

  5. Good morning, Ann! Oh my stars, I love when a series of stories follows the history of the time and drops you into the reality of life, love and loss.

    Thank you for being here today!!! I've got COFFEE!!!!! and there's a cooler of Cokes and "cokes" (this Southern thing drives me a little bonkers, I'm just sayin'.... an orange soda is not a coke, lower case or otherwise... now a cherry cola, you might be able to make argument, but root beer???? Oy vay!)

    And I brought along an array of high protein low-carb fun stuff for breakfast to keep us from over-expanding in our chairs... Folks in sedentary occupations spread quicker!!!

    Okay, Ann, I love that pic of you. I love the outfit, the glimpse of fall outside the windows... Just lovely. And I'm pretty enamored of the sweet titles for your work.

    Walk us through your day. First you tie up those nine grandkids so they don't pester you, and then you -


    Must go shower. Work day begins. Marilyn, darling, sorry about the stomach bug!!! But thank you for not sharing!

  6. "Adam was created from the dust of the earth,and characters are created from the dust a writer's mind."

    I LOVE that! The idea behind creating characters from the dust of your mind is just so powerful. :-)

    And I'd love to know more about your character building class. Do you do a whole book with the people in your class? And is it something you do for fun with readers, like at a library or another similar venue. Or is it something you do as a writers workshop at conference?

  7. Invite characters into my heart and mind when I read? Move in and live with those characters? Oh My, yes!!!!! And thank you for asking because people think my fixation on literary characters is odd. I love having so many 'new best friends'. :-) So, of course I have a vested interest in their future. That's why I make up my own epilogues and epilogues for those epilogues and...well pretty soon, I have their whole life mapped out. I've done that since I was a kid. :-)

    And it's not just the characters that come to life for me -- it's the settings too. Like Rosey Corner In Small-Town Girl. I'm enamoured with the whole ambiance that town created in your novel. Blissful sigh. So don't put me in the draw. I already have a copy of Small-Town Girl on my keeper shelf. :-)

  8. I always love connecting with the characters! When it doesn't happen, then I usually don't like the book. There's something about clicking with them that just makes a story so much better. =) And yes, I wonder what happens to them after the last page all the time!

    Thanks for the great giveaway! This looks like such a great book. =)


  9. I love character building exercises. I tend to begin each story with an image, and by the end of the third chapter, my image has been massaged into a character far from my original mindset.

    I suppose you can say I begin as a plot oriented writer, but once that plot molds my H/H, they take off and mold the book.

    Thanks for the wonderful glimpses into your story worlds, Ann.

  10. I've read some books where the characters become so real to me I dream about them and what might happen to them in the portion of the book I haven't read. I love when I flip the final page and find that I want to know what happens to them. :)

    I'm with Naomi, I love the idea of a character coming from the dust of a writer's mind. :) So nice to meet you here today!

  11. I fall in love with characters and have to remind myself they arent real. That's why I love sequels! Angel Sister was wonderful. Talk about connecting with characters - wow! So looking forward to reading Small Town Girl. Thank you for a great post Ann.

  12. Abbi, authors love readers who take their characters into their hearts. When you feel the emotions with those people you're reading about, that makes for a good story. I've several stories about the same characters and it can be challenging to keep finding more life adventures for them. Thanks for reading!

  13. Marilyn, not everybody agrees with your about those epilogues, but I like reading them too. I want to know that those characters I've been reading about rode off into the sunset and found a good place to start the rest of their lives. That's a fun story about your writer friend. Sometimes characters just look you right in the face and say "that ain't a gonna happen." LOL.

    Hope your stomach bug is better. I hate those things and it doesn't make the cookies look at all appetizing. We'll save some for you next time. Rest and get better.

  14. Hi Ann,

    Welcome to Seekerville. I love connecting to my characters and I hope to pass that love on to readers one day.

    It's great to start a book and the characters stay with you even when you put the book down.

    Thanks for sharing today. I'd love to be entered in the contest.

  15. Tina, I'm so glad to be here visiting with all you great seekers. I have a Shaker book titled, The Seeker. My characters were seeking things all the way through that book. Happiness and peace, mostly. Today, here, we'll seek a little fun with the written word. I make a great chocolate chip cookie. I'll send some across the way if my grandkids don't eat them all.

    No, I've never read Lenore Mattingly Weber, but sounds as if I should. I'll have to check her books out.

    And I love it when those secondary characters come to life and let me know they've got some stories to tell.

  16. Low carb, Ruth? Get serious. We're southern. LOL. And around here it's coke no matter what the flavor except if you were a Pepsi lover like my father-in-law. He called everything a Pepsi and told you in no uncertain terms he did not want a "coke." But I'll take some nice hot tea and will give those low carb treats a try because I don't need to "over expand" in my chair. A shame typing doesn't use more calories. Of course, some writers put a desk on their treadmills. Me I'd rather do my walking out in the fields with my dogs. Have some of my best thoughts there about my stories, but usually forget them by the time I'm back at my desk. Sigh.

    My day is pretty boring, actually. The grandkids are all in school, so they aren't here to liven up things. I get up early and work a while before breakfast. Sometimes that's writing new words for my story. Sometimes it's editing. Sometimes it's spending a little time with reading friends out on Facebook or Twitter or answering messages. Sometimes, like today, it's blogging fun. Then there are always those chores the good fairies just refuse to do for me. I don't know what's the matter with them! Breakfast with my hubby when he decides to get up. He's retired and taking full advantage of that! Then back to my keyboard for more work. Right now my schedule is often work whenever I can because of my mother's health. She suffers from advanced dementia and has to have someone with her around the clock. So everyday for part of the day I have to sit with her. I used to be able to do some work while at her house, but lately she's become agitated and I can't always fire up my computer. So I have to work my writing time around those hours with her. But I do always get in that walk with my dog, Oscar, sometime in the day. So writing, caring for mom, basic chores, and squeezing in time for the grandkids fill up my day.

  17. Dear me, I definitely get involved in the characters! I think they are the whole reason I read books. There's something about watching the story unfold and seeing each of the characters come to life. I enjoy the process so much that sometimes it takes me a long time to move past certain books because of how deeply I was involved. In the past, I've read books that I still could cry just thinking about even now. Those are my favorite types of stories because they stick to your heart and never, ever let go.

    I can't wait to read this book...I've been looking forward to it for some time. I just downloaded Angel Sister on my Kindle, and am planning to read it soon. I haven't had much experience with Ann Gabhart's books, but the one I did read, Words Spoken True, definitely made it onto my favorites list. In fact, I'm rereading it right now!! Thanks for the giveaway!


  18. Hi ANN, Welcome to Seekerville. I'm pretty sure we have met at a conference because you look so familiar.

    Anyway, love the post. I enjoy characters that I can relate to and believe they are real people.

    And like you, walking really helps me think about them and bring them to life.

    Have a great day today.

  19. Naomi, glad you liked my way of describing how writers come up with characters. I just do that little character building exercise for fun with different groups. I've done it with a high school English class. That was a wild one because the teacher excused herself and these kids weren't the serious ones. But we had fun. I've played the game at writing classes I've taught, and I've pulled it out to entertain groups of readers. We don't write the story. We just play with the idea of creating a character. I do the exercise with readers to show them how a fictional person can spring to live in one's mind. It's nothing too fancy. Just for fun. I haven't taught that many writing classes, but it might be fun to carry the exercise a little farther if I did.

  20. Yesterday in Seekerville we talked about voice. Love yours!

    Such a delightful blog post. Thanks for being with us, Ann.

    After completing a novel, I need time to savor the story and linger with the characters. It's difficult to jump into the next adventure because I'm still so heavily involved with the last one.

    Do you give yourself time between books? Or can you quickly plunge into the next tale?

  21. Ann, so nice to 'meet' you here at Seekerville! I just loved your book, Scent of Lilacs. I happened upon it at the library, and now that I've visited your website I'll be sure to check for more titles of yours. Have a blessed weekend!

  22. Lovely, lovely post, Ann! Thanks for joining us today!

    I love the process of developing characters--not so much the prework, but actually living with them and learning about them as the story unfolds. I find that even if I take time for advance planning (filling out questionnaires, description sheets, etc.), the characters tend to veer off in their own directions anyway, so I might as well follow them instead of forcing them into a mold.

  23. MARILYN, so sorry you're under the weather. Hope you feel better soon!

  24. Ann, we understand the "split" of the day!

    So sorry about Mom. Longevity with health intact is a wonderful thing. Without health, it's just hard some days, but what a blessing to have that time to sit with her. Work or remember or pray.

    Thank you for sharing that with us! I'm a dog lover too, so I get the attraction of walking fields with dogs... I'm not a treadmill desk type because the trees and the locusts and the birds and frogs call my name... I hear ya', Ann!

  25. After reading the comments, I realized writing a series with many of the same characters may encourage you to jump into the next story. Do you find that happens, Ann?

    Sending hugs and love to your mama. Hate dementia that steals the minds of those we love. Praying for a breakthrough. I did read that scientists are looking at copper buildup within the body. Sorry, I digress.

    I brought chicken soup for those with tummy problems. Hope you feel stronger today, Marilyn.

  26. Welcome, Ann! I'm so glad you're here today. I loved the post.

    Yes, as a reader, I'm always sucked into a book. And if it's really good, I don't want it to end! Those characters linger in my mind a long time.

  27. Kav, that's so true! I have epilogues in my head after the story is over as well. That's probably why I so enjoy writing epilogues for my stories. :)

  28. Fun article, Ann! I shared on facebook. :-)

    Some characters are harder and take longer to figure out than others. But when you really KNOW them and know what they will do and how they will react, that's when the story becomes fun.

  29. Glad I stopped by today, finishing up the week with Ann Gabhart..this is a wonderful author that comes from my home state of Ky and so happy to see her here today.
    This smart woman from humble roots has made a name for herself in writing great stories.
    I have read much of her work and know she will give lots of wisdom to the ladies here.
    Talking about characters, she sure has some that you bond with and want to read more about, said from a readers point of view.
    Have a great weekend everyone....
    Paula O

  30. POL!!! We've missed you. How's your summer been. Yes, great day to stop by.

    I just finished baking the scones and I have tea and coffee for our guests!

    Help yourself!!

  31. I saw your Seeker book, Ann.

    Can you tell us what Shakers are? I think we all know in a general way. But not specifically.

  32. Love this! If the book is written well, I definitely get sucked into the characters' lives and don't want to read the last page because I don't want the story to be over.

    Please enter me:)

  33. Tina, I grew up in Bowling Green, KY, not far from the South Union Shaker Village. We used to drive over to visit.

  34. That's when I know a book is 5 stars for me- when I'm able to connect and feel the emotions of the characters, and after finishing the book I still fantasize about the continuing story in my mind :)

    Please enter me in the giveaway!

  35. Ann, thank you for a wonderful post!

    I love it when the characters in a book become real to me, and linger in my mind for days. Sometimes years.

    Right after I was married, I read a book about a young couple, her name was Claudia, and he was a playwright in NY.
    I loved those characters. The book got loaned out, and I never got it back. I can't remember the author or the title. I'd love to find it again. :-)

  36. Dovetailing with Mary Hicks' comment. I read a suspense some years ago and the characters continue to swirl through my imagination, yet I can't recall the title or the author. I often search through book stores looking for that illusive book...

    As a child, I kept a journal of the books I read. Perhaps I should do the same now.

  37. Hi, Kav. And what a compliment that my book found a spot on your keeper shelf! I think you deserve an extra doughnut or cookie for that. :) I'm glad you enjoyed your visit to Rosey Corner. I based that setting on my mother's stories of when she grew up in a small community during the Depression years. Angel Sister is more of her background, but Rosey Corner is still Rosey Corner in Small Town Girl.

    I think it's great that you figure out what happens next to the characters you like. When I do that I like to imagine happy futures for them.

  38. Waving to Missy. I spent many years in my youth at Fort Knox, KY, and remember the Shaker influence in that part of the country. Love how they hung their ladder-back chairs on wall pegs when not in use.

  39. Elyssa, I love your name. I wrote a YA novel once with an Alyssa character. Close.

    I'm with you. If I can't like the characters in a book, I don't care if I read the story or not. Clicking with them is good.

  40. I feel so loved to know I have been missed, had long vacation with brother and sister and traveled to macanaw island with them, such fun...left hubby home
    I love to see all the seekers and hear your news and sure missed computerland while I was gone...
    Paula O

  41. What a lovely trip, Paula! Glad you came home to Seekerville. :)

  42. Mary Hicks, are you sure Claudia's husband was a playwright not an architect? I was looking up your book and found Rose Franken an author from the 40's who wrote a Claudia series about a young couple.

    When I was in high school my favorite book was called, Something Foolish, Something Gay. A YA romance. I lent it to my little sis and it disappeared. About ten years ago when I was in my librarian phase I found it and purchased a vintage copy online.

    All those years I had been thinking about those characters and what became of them.

  43. Welcome to Seekerville, Ann! Fun to see how you create great characters and plop the poor things into strong conflict! Thankfully for most of us real life is less harried, but reading about trouble is far more interesting.

    Please tell us about your book clubs.


  44. Marilyn, hope you feel better soon!

    Paula, I love Macanaw Island! Did you stay in a B&B on the island?


  45. “What are you doing next? Where are you going? Why’d you stop here? Are you sure that’s a good idea?”

    Yikes, Ann, that sounds like ME talking to my college-age son! lol

    Enjoyed this post today. So glad to have you in Seekerville!

  46. Hi Ann:
    A romance without an epilogue is like a diner who does not leave a tip at a fine restaurant. Why would the author be so stingy with her helpings of HEA? A great epilogue gives the reader two HEAs. (And that’s a reader more likely to order your next book very quickly.)

    I only wonder about what happens to characters after the HEA if they have little to no chance of success together. I read one romance where I thought, those two will be divorced in a year. They have not solved any of the big issues that offer conflict. They just overcame them with love. Boy, are they in for a reality smack!

    Here’s my first question: once you let your characters come alive, do you then plot out what is going to happen in the novel or do you pantser from the word go right to the end of the book?

    Here’s my second question: if the plot needs a character to change in personality, will you change the character or will you change the plot to keep the old character?

    Here’s my third question: do you work on two or three books in a series at the same time? Mary will do this and it enables her to go back into the first book to make changes that will really help the story in her second or third books. I think this is brilliant if a writer can actually do it.

    I want to read the book that has the women in the red dress on the cover. My mother and aunt had dresses just like that one – but in navy blue -- when I was growing up. I just love that period of history in romances.

    One of my favorite books is “Letter From Home” by Carolyn Hart. It’s all about that time period in Oklahoma. Great detail about the time.

    I’m looking forward to the rest of the day and reading all the comments to come.


  47. Hi Ann,
    Beautiful post. I call those characters that stick with me 'keeper characters,' lol. I keep going back to their stories and remember how they responded during the crises of their lives and how they touched my heart. It's an interesting psychology, how we become connected through the words of a fictional person.

  48. And does anyone save certain characters for certain times.

    When you need a laugh?

    When you need an escape?

    When you need to cry?

    Certain characters from certain books on the keeper shelf you just pull out and dive in.

    I know folks who read 'em and forget 'em. But I have books I reread every year.

  49. Hey, ANN, WELCOME TO SEEKERVILLE, my friend -- SO fun to see you here!!

    You said, "Other times, a character springs to life as soon as I think of her name. Lacey in The Blessed was that kind of gift. I had intended her to be a minor character in my third Shaker book, The Seeker, but as soon as I named her, she informed me she had a story of her own that would be wasted if she just got a few paragraphs in a minor role."

    Don't you just LOVE when that happens??? That happened three different times to me in my O'Connor saga where minor characters -- two of which were only meant to have a line or two -- literally begged for their own novel, so I gave it to them and then some ... ;)

    When people ask me why I put my characters through all that drama and angst, I tell 'em it's to spare my husband ... :)

    LOVE that one of your books is titled The Seeker, Ann!! :)


  50. I also love connecting with characters from books. I feel like they're good friends and can I step into their world and talk to them. To me, that's the coolest thing in the world. It gives one a sense of belonging that cannot always be found in this crazy world. It's because of these stories that I am the who I am today. They have shaped me, taught me many valuable lessons, and helped me grow in Christ. I have been so blessed by them. Thank you!

  51. Thank you for the great "conversation" with Ann. As to characters - the good ones always live on in my mind and heart. Often for years. Ann's characters are like that.

  52. Nice giveaway! Thanks! I really want to read this book:)



  53. "When people ask me why I put my characters through all that drama and angst, I tell 'em it's to spare my husband ... :)"

    Totally cracked me up, Julie~!!

  54. Audra, I think my characters grow and change too as they head out along the story trail. I enjoy hearing how other writers work. Sometimes I wish I could use their methods, but I think you have to stick with what works for you.

  55. Thanks for coming by and sharing your "dreams" Jeanne. I sometimes worry about the characters I read about, especially if the writer takes them down what I consider are wrong roads. But then I love happy endings and if the writer throws a bad one in on my, one I can't really accept, then I'm not happy. I might have a nightmare then! But tell me, Jeanne. Does what you dream about those characters ever happen in the rest of the story when you read it?

    Thanks so much for your comment.

  56. Cindy, thank you so much. It always makes me smile when a reader like you says she loved my Angel Sister people. That book is definitely a book of my heart. I enjoyed revisiting Rosey Corner to follow up the characters along their romantic pathways. Hope you'll enjoy revisiting my Rosey Corner people too.

  57. Jackie, thanks so much for welcoming me here to Seekerville. It's a great place for some good conversation. I love talking books. Mine or others, I'm not picky.

    Wishing you great characters to write about who will entrance us readers when we get a chance to read their stories.

  58. I do get involved emotionally with the characters in books. I often wonder what happens to them as well I often want to read more.

  59. Julie wrote:

    "When people ask me why I put my characters through all that drama and angst, I tell 'em it's to spare my husband ... :)"

    Does that work?

    Maybe I could interest my better half in taking some of the Seekerville online classes this fall.

    I read all about ‘displaced aggression’ in psychology class but I often wondered if the opposite was true: could this lead to ‘displaced affection’?

    See conflict is everywhere.

    BTW Julie wrote a character who was so unique and demonstrative that I have no doubt what she is going to do when WWII starts. It has already happened in my mind. I don’t have to wonder.

  60. Oh, Emily, what a compliment! To reread one of my books. I love that. Words Spoken True was the most romantic book I've written for the inspirational market - a bit too romantic for some readers! But I'm glad you liked it. I hope you'll like Angel Sister too. Different types of stories, but thank goodness, my readers like different types of stories.

    I know about some of those characters that stay with you. Love a touching story and a character so real that you want to argue with them when they make bad choices. Thanks so much for joining the party here at Seekerville today.

  61. Hi, Sandra. Glad you enjoyed the post about my characters. I love talking about writing and appreciate the welcome to Seekerville. What a great place to visit.

    I've been to one ACFW Conference, a few years back, when it was in Indianapolis. Then I was at the ICRS show this June. That was a blast because I just gave away books. People line up faster when things are free! It's fun giving away books. I'm glad I can give away a couple more copies here in Seekerville.

    Hey, maybe we can take a walk together sometime and brainstorm some of those characters or plot lines.

  62. I am definitely guilty of becoming part of the character's story and wondering what happens to them after the story has ended...

    Thank You for sharing of the details involved in forming the storyline.

  63. Janet, No B&B on the island , we had nice log look super 8 in the city, took a suite for the 4 of us, 2 rooms and 2 baths it was real nice and the hot tub on last night made for relaxing evening for my SIL and me...we had finally learned our way around when it was time to head back to KY...thanks for asking

    Paula O

  64. Melody, me too! I yearn for more...

    I think that's why I love epilogues. They draw back a curtain and give me a glimpse of the "happily ever after" scene.

    I love that!

  65. When I read a book I pretty much place myself right into the story in order to live through the events that take place. I feel more emotionally connected to the characters, and sense the surroundings as if I could reach out and touch things. Thanks for offering this giveaway, Ann!

  66. Vince-Just wanted to say that I love this time period for romances too! Something about the WWII era just makes for the most romantic stories! I just finished all of Sarah Sundin's books which are all set during WWII and I loved them so much! Have you read her books?

  67. Tina!!! I think you may be right!!! I may have confused the guy in the book with David Niven in the movie 'Don't Eat the Daisies'. He was the playwright.

    Seems like Claudia's husband may have been named David... hmm.

    I'm checking on that author!! Thank you, thank you!:-) :-) :-)

  68. A big yes to your questions, Ann. And what a nice, big book club! Lovely!

  69. Tina, that's the one!! The young was named David. That may be the reason I confused him with David Niven.

    Got it ordered! I'm so happy! You made my day!

    Somehow this book reminded me of my husband and me... I was a real babe in the woods when I married. :-)

  70. Oh, my gosh. Mary Hicks. That is sooo cool.

    I was in 7th heaven when I found my long lost keeper. I keep it in a plastic sleeve.


  71. Speaking of favorite characters. Of which I have a few "character keepers" as someone here called them.

    Ever purchase extra copies so you can keep one in pristine condition?

    Hand raised.

  72. I brought ice cream to celebrate all the new faces who have stopped by Seekerville today. No doubt, Ann's friends.

    Here's the rule. If you visit Seekerville once, you're part of the family!

    Welcome! Hugs!

    Ice cream, anyone?

  73. Oh how I love talking characters!
    Super post, Ann!

    And it's FRIDAY! Now, back to my fictional friends.

  74. I have just now been able to join in. Ann, I love that your stories are not "fairy tales". Life is filled with both good and bad and we have all had to work hard to deal with some of the issues thrown at us. Your characters And their stories make me want to follow their loves for many years to come!

  75. Yes, I invite the characters in and wonder what they are doing and what is going on with them.

  76. Too funny! Sometimes I guess we have to 'let' things happen to our characters :)

    The book sounds wonderful.

  77. When it's a really good story, I do find myself inside their story. Sometimes, I even dream about those characters. I almost always want to continue the story even when a good book ends. I guess that's why I love a series.
    Campbellamyd at gmail dot com

  78. Please enter me in the giveaway. I don't like it when bad things happen to the characters.

  79. Let’s be honest!

    God may let things happen to humans as a consequence of the exercise of their free will but authors, on the other hand, don’t let things happen to their characters: they make things happen to their characters.


  80. Hi Ann,

    So nice to 'meet' you! Your characters sound wonderful and now I have a new author I must read!

    I love developing characters and I love reading great characters!

    Over the summer I read a book where the characters were so amazing I couldn't stop thinking about them. It was by Susan Elizabeth Phillips - The Great Escape - and the hero was so unlikeable at the beginning, I thought 'How is she going to turn this around?' And boy she sure did! (Warning: adult content) but worth it for the amazing character arcs! Even the secondary characters are awesome.

    Have a great day!


  81. Hello Abbi:

    I have not read Sarah Sundin's WWII romances but I just downloaded “A Distant Melody”. Actually, while I’ve read hundreds of WWII books, mostly nonfiction, I have not seen many WWII romances. It seems it is just now that WWII is considered historical. I will start reading WWII romances starting now. I hope to find at least one Christmas WWII romance. Thanks for the recommendation.

    ”Small Town Girl” is also at the top of my list.


  82. Hi everybody. I'm sorry I had to leave the party for a while, but I had to go sit with Mom and believe it or not, the internet router I had up there gave up the ghost this week. What timing! But I'll certainly do my best to sit down and get my cup of tea and start enjoying your comments again.

    First up, Debby. Thanks so much for saying you liked my "voice." That's something any writer would like to hear and I tend to think the voice can change according to the book I'm writing. I do like taking a few weeks off between books. Not necessarily to savor anything, but just to do all those things I put off while I was racing toward the end to meet my deadlines. Sometimes it is sort of hard to shove out one bunch of characters to let another bunch take over.

    My sister keeps a journal of all the books she's read. And I've been at book events and I'm always amazed when readers pull out very well organized books to look up to see which of my titles they might already have. I guess I'm too quick to be on to the next book. I started one once, but I kept forgetting to add the books I read.

    My Shaker books are based more on the setting and history of the Shaker Village near me, Pleasant Hill. They have a wonderful living museum there and a great website. Just google Pleasant Hill Shaker Village and it will pop right up.

  83. Sue, it's wonderful to see you here. And I too love it when a character lives on in my mind. Your characters in your prehistoric Alaskan series certainly did that for me. So glad those books are now back out in e-book versions. Mother Earth Father Sky is one of my favorite reads.

  84. Julianna - I love connecting with characters too and I love it when my readers connect with my characters.

    Tina - It might be neat to have a keeper shelf of characters that you pull out and reread when you looking for certain emotional pluses. Today with Mom so unhappy, I could sure have used a laugh. You know what the Bible says in Proverbs. A merry heart worketh good like a medicine. I put that verse in my Hollyhill book, Orchard of Hope. It will be back on the shelves in a new cover in October.

  85. Myra, I like letting my characters come to life while I'm writing about them too. I've never done the long questionnaires I've see suggested by other writers. I do character sketches before I start and sometimes if I character doesn't come to me clearly, I let them write a journal. Not about anything in the story, but just about their lives. I love writing journals. That's why I so enjoyed Sister Sophrena in The Gifted. She was the Shaker journal keeper in that book and now I've brought her back to tell the rest of her story in Christmas at Harmony Hill.

  86. Julie, you always can come up with something that brings a smile. But did you bring any fancy cupcakes? That's okay. We can just eat the chocolate chip pie I made. I'm sure your husband is glad you spare him the trouble you give your characters.

    Those characters that insist on their own story line can be a gift and sometimes an aggravation. Thanks for the sweet welcome to Seekerville. Loving my visit.

  87. Hi, Ruth. Wish you could come take a walk with me. I know you'd enjoy chasing photos of the butterflies in our hayfield as much as I do. They just won't sit still while I get the camera ready. LOL. And I can't have a dog who's not a walking dog. That's the main criteria. Oscar is a great walking dog.

    Oh, and thanks for your kind thoughts about Mom. We had a hard day today, but perhaps tomorrow will be better. Dementia is a nasty disease.

    Christina - So glad you enjoyed my first Hollyhill story, Scent of Lilacs. I had such fun writing that story, especially when I got Wes and Jocie talking their Jupiter talk. Don't worry, those who haven't read my Hollyhill books. Christina knows what I'm talking about. :)

  88. Missy, thanks for welcoming me over her to Seekerville. I like the way you put it about getting sucked into a book. That's when you've got to know what happens next.

    Melanie, how nice of you to share my post here on your Facebook page. Thanks. You deserve and extra cup of coffee and a slice of pie for that. Some characters are harder to get into their heads, but when you do get there, then you do know what they're going to do when things get crazy in the story.

    Paula, you're making me blush. It's always fun to have you show up on my guest post comments and sounds like you're among friends here. Thanks for reading my books and loving my characters. We Kentuckians have to stick together.

  89. Vince, wow, you were full of questions. I'm not much of a epilogue writer, but two happy endings sounds good to me. I am definitely a pantser and not a plotter. When I'm writing historical novels, I have the actual historical happenings as a kind of outline, and then I throw my characters in to see what they're going to do. I don't necessarily think I change the plot to fit the character or the character to fit the plot either. It just sort of all plays out the way it's supposed to as though the characters are telling me what happened and then letting me try to write it so that the readers can see it too.

    I usually only work on writing one book at a time. I do sometimes have to do editing on a book I've finished but that is going through the stages to publication. I usually just put aside my work in progress and dive into those edits to get them done as soon as I can to get back to the current story. I think I need to stay with one set of characters until I get their current story written before I head off on a new one. I don't think I could plan out the whole series and work on them all at once. Well, I sometimes plan out the second or third book, but then something else pops up to change where I intended to go with the story.

    Hope that answers your questions, Vince. Whew! After that I need another cup of tea.

  90. Heidi - I love those 5 star reviews and 5 star books too. It's good to think about what the characters do next. I've done that a little in my Shaker books. Those stories are all stand-alone books, but occasionally I'll throw in a little hint about what one of the characters of the previous books are doing now. You'd never notice unless you'd read the other stories, but it's fun for me and for my readers who read all the Shaker books.

    Mary, so glad you liked my post. It's neat how that book has lingered in your memory. Hope Tina has helped you track it down with her suggestion of the author's name.

    Tina, when I was in high school, I was something of a book snob. Read all the old classics. Even read War and Peace. Don't remember anything about it now, but I think it was good training for me to see how the masters put words together to tell stories.

    Janet - that picture isn't of a book club. I don't belong to a book club, but I have visited a few and I love it. It's even fun talking to book clubs over the phone when the place is too far to drive. The picture here is of my local friends and readers. Whenever I have a new book release, I have what I call a "Hometown Book Launch." This is the group I had at the library for one of those. They are always such fun. They let me talk about my new book. They eat the brownies I bake for them. (They get the real thing instead of the cyber brownies we're enjoying today. Of course, these don't make the scales groan.) Then some of them take my books home with them to read. I'm having another one in October for Christmas at Harmony Hill. I wanted to wait a little closer to the holiday season.

  91. Pam, I'm smiling because I had two teen sons. One of them caused me a lot of sleepless nights, but they're both happily married now and between them have gifted me with nine beautiful grandchildren. So hang in there and keep asking those questions. LOL. Someday you may have grist for the writing mill.

    Courtney, I've read books I didn't want to end too. That's a good book and what a writer like me is working toward.

    Lyndee, I'm glad you're able to connect with the characters in the stories you read. I love character driven stories, but not everybody does.

  92. Tina, you asked about the Shakers. They were a religious group that believe in shutting out the world and trying to bring heaven down to earth by living a perfect life. Their leader, Ann Lee, was at one time considered the female second coming of Christ. In fact the name of their group is the Believers in the Second Coming of Christ. They danced in their worship and often would tremble and shake all over when they received the spirit, thus the world began to call them Shakers. They believed all should live as brother and sister and marriage was considered sinful. Now they are known for their beautiful furniture and the innovations they came up with. Lots more about them, but you're just going to have to read my Shaker books to find out more about them. Grin!

  93. That's interesting. Now Shaker furniture I do know, but didn't make the correlation. I am so going to read your Shaker books!!! THANK YOU.

  94. Great post! And I haven't tried this series but I'll check it out.

  95. Vince-You are in for a treat with Sarah Sundin's books! They are amazingly written and so very good!
    WWII romances are rather hard to come by and I've only read about a dozen myself. I actually just recently did a post on my blog about my top ten WWII stories! Now that you've mentioned a Christmas WWII story I really want to find one! And Small Town Girl is at the top to my list of books I want to read too!

  96. Debbie - Great of you to bring that ice cream for all my friends. Hope it hasn't melted already. I had an influx of grandkids and family. Good thing they didn't see the ice cream!

    Debra - it is fun talking about writing, isn't it? And fun when the writing works. Hope your fictional friends are playing nice with you.

    Salyna - So glad you dropped by. Anybody that has purple freak in their e-mail, well, my grandkids would love you. Purple is their favorite color.

    Wilani - Isn't it great that so often we can read more when authors write about the same characters in more than one book. But it's also fun to grab a new book and let those new characters take us for a story ride.

    Melody - Becoming part of the story world is why we read. And isn't it fun?

    Paula - Your trip sounds like lots of fun. It's good to get away with the "girls" sometime for a holiday.

    Nancee, I love it that you get involved with my characters sometimes. Thanks for dropping by.

    Hey, Mary, glad you found your book. You came to Seekerville to seek and you found!

    Connie, it's fun to see your comment here. I don't write fairytales. My people have problems, but I do like happy endings. Of course I used fairytales as a central plot thread in The Gifted. Jessamine loved fairy tales. After the end in that story, she went on to write children's books about talking frogs. Oh, and she went to California. I knew what Jessamine was going to do after the story. :)

  97. Amy C, I rarely dream about my characters when I'm writing about them. You'd think I would. I do dream adventures sometimes that if I could only remember them after I wake up I might could use the events in my stories. But the dreams slip away as soon as I lift my head off the pillow. Some writers keep notebooks by their beds to write those fleeting ideas down - whether they dream them or just think them up on the way to sleep.

    Michelle, I don't like it when bad things happen to the people in the stories I read either. But I like it when they fight through challenges and grow from the experience. I do want my stories to be encouraging and never depressing.

    Susan Ann, it's nice to meet you here too, and I hope if you give any of my books a try, you'll like the stories. I'm not sure I could write about a heroine or hero I thought was unlikeable. The bad guy, but I want to like my main characters even if they are flawed. That's how Victor was in Angel Sister. He had a problem with alcohol but he was such a good man too that I drew really close to him while I was writing that story. I'll have to check out that book, The Great Escape.

    Vince, you are absolutely right. When bad things happen in a story, it is without a doubt the author's fault! But it wouldn't be much of a story if we didn't sling some problems at our characters. I'm actually reading one of Sarah Sundin's books right now. With Every Letter. Lot of great history and good characters too. Thanks so much for putting Small Town Girl on your reading list!

    Abbi, thank you too for putting Small Town Girl at the top of your list. I like being on reading lists. I think WW II is becoming one of the more popular historical backgrounds for stories right now.

  98. Eva Marie, that's not a book club, just my hometown reading friends at a book launch I had at my local library. They were sweet enough to all wave for me. I did speak to a book club once that was much bigger than that. They had eighty members. That was fun. But I enjoy book clubs no matter how many people are there. If they love to talk books, then I love talking to them.

    Virginia, thanks for stopping by. Glad you enjoyed the post, and I hope if you check out my books, you'll find some you enjoy reading.

    Tina, most people know about Shaker furniture, but not as much about the Shaker societies. They once had 15 or 16 villages in the east and KY and Ohio. They sold seeds and brooms and other products to the world and their architecture was amazing. You can go to the website for the living history museum at Pleasant Hill and see the amazing staircases. I put that staircase in all but my first Shaker novel (wasn't built yet in the time period of The Outsider) just because it is so beautiful that I love trying to describe it in words.

  99. I have had so much fun here today visiting all of you at Seekerville and sharing book talk. Thanks so much for inviting me over. I'm going to remember to be a seeker now. You all are almost as much fun as my grandkids. :)

  100. Hello Ann,

    Welcome to Seekerville. I am so happy to see another 20th century historical writer doing well. Thank you for sharing your wise words here today and I would love to be in the drawing.

    And I agree with Tina, read Lenore Mattingly Weber--she's awesome!

    (Tina!!!!!! I thought I was the only one who knew about Beany Malone--kid chef wonder that she was!!!!)


  101. TINA SAID: ""When people ask me why I put my characters through all that drama and angst, I tell 'em it's to spare my husband ... :)"

    Totally cracked me up, Julie~!!

    UH, I'm not joking, Tina ... :)


  102. VINCE SAID: "Does that work?

    LOL ... you bet it does, Vince. Just imagine living with a CDQ like me if I DIDN'T have an outlet for my high-drama personality!! I put my poor hubby through the paces when we were first married, trust me, because I wasn't writing back then and you can bet your bottom dollar a number of events from that era made it into my books ... ;)

    YOU ALSO SAID: "BTW Julie wrote a character who was so unique and demonstrative that I have no doubt what she is going to do when WWII starts. It has already happened in my mind. I don’t have to wonder."

    LOL ... well, why don't you tell ME, my friend, so I don't have to work so hard to plot it out ... ;)


  103. Piper, thanks for the welcome to Seekerville. It's been a fun day. Well, the Seekerville part and my grandkids visiting part, anyway. I've written books in lots of different time periods. The Shaker books are all 1800s and so is Words Spoken True. The Heart of Hollyhill books are 1960s. And the Rosey Corner books the 1930s and 40s. I guess you could say I like variety. LOL.

  104. Hello Ann, my friend. I loved listened to you. And, you can also make me laugh. I figured out why they aren't many around anymore. They don't believe in marriage. Suppose to act like sisters and brothers. Well, pretty soon there are no children to grow up. I've wondered about this part ever since starting your books. This was the first I'd ever heard of Shakers. Sorry your momma had a bad day. It's gotta be hard. My momma worried so much about losing her memory. But GOD took her home before getting it or needing a nursing home, two things she worried about. I really want to win more of your books. The problem for the Shakers was they didn't seem to know that no one can be perfect except GOD. I wish I lived near you. Maxie

  105. When I immerse myself & connect with the characters they do linger. This is where series can be so wonderful.

  106. Hi, Ann!
    Late - so don't know if you will see this. I'm not a writer - but saw on Facebook that you were going to be on Seekerville, & wanted to tune in. Loved your interview, & love hearing how writers bring their characters to life.

    Sending prayers your way for you, your mom, & your sisters!


  107. I would love to win this awesome giveaway,Enter me!
    Sarah Richmond

  108. Maxie, I think you've hit on the biggest problem of the Shakers and that was their idea that they could be perfect and make their villages like heaven.

    Sometimes it's a blessing to move on up to heaven. My mother would have never wanted to be in the unhappy state she's in now if she could have chosen differently. But we can't always choose.

    You didn't win this time, but maybe next time!

  109. Thanks, Bonnie, for following me over here to Seekerville. A late comment is still welcome. I'm glad you enjoyed my post and appreciate your sweet thoughts for my mother and all of us caring for her.

    We'll cross paths down the road somewhere!

  110. Sarah, you didn't win this drawing, but maybe next time. Thanks for coming over to visit here on Seekerville!

  111. Almost as fun as your grandkids is HIGH praise. Thank you, Ann. You were fun too.