Monday, January 6, 2014

Creating Characters One Layer at a Time-Layer Three- Is it American Idol? Nope, it's The Voice

I'm open to debate on this if anyone wants to disagree....but I think getting the VOICE RIGHT may be the most fundamental part of creating great characters.

Someone once told me (no doubt a contest judge) that if I changed my mind about which character was saying a chunk of dialogue and DIDN'T change any words, then I was failing. 

Because every character has their own voice and no two characters would say the same chunk of dialogue the same.

I've always remembered that.

Now you can make it easier on yourself if you want by not making your characters too similar.
That's part of my job as the author to create characters to begin with who are different enough that their voices have an authentic personal ring to them.

Mostly authors aren't writing three book series so they've only got one book to contend with, plus the main characters are a man and woman, right there you've got voices that are different.
You can give them accents, make them verbose or gruff. Optimistic or NOT.
But the voice goes deeper than that. It goes to who they are, what makes them tick. To me getting the voice right reveals the character with every word.

Read Parts 1 & 2 of this series below. I've linked to them.

Creating Characters Part 1: How they Look
Creating Characters Part 2: How they Act

We've been talking about Matthew Tucker, the hero of book #2 in the upcoming Wild at Heart series. Book #1 Tried & True, releases in September 2014. Tucker is in Tried & True as a strong secondary character but he is the hero of book #2 Now & Forever.
Btw I am done with Tucker and Shannon's story now and working away at book #3 Fire & Ice. The coldly controlling tyrannical rancher Gage Coulter and the toughest of the Wilde sisters, the fiery, brilliant, hostile Bailey Wilde, who claimed a homestead right across the only entrance to a canyon with 5000 acres of lush grass...owned by Gage Coulter. And she's not letting him trespass on her land to get across--which is perfectly legal.

But Gage doesn't back down for much and....well, anyway, that's not what we're here to talk about is it??? But of all my three heroes, Gage is my perfect cowboy and Bailey is my perfect fiesty lady rancher. I love them so!

Of course I always love the book I'm working on right now!


The Voice...a writing topic so important they named a TV show after it!

A Character's Voice is Who They Are.

I'd like us all to pause for a moment and remember The Lion King, Mufasa, when he comes to Simba in the clouds and says, "Remember who you are."

Okay, this is James Earl Jones and I want him in your head right now when you're thinking about your character's voice. REMEMBER WHO YOU ARE!

I know you get that Tucker is never gonna come up to Shannon and say, "What up, dude?"

He's never going to lift her fingers to his lips, bend deeply over her hand and say, "I'm enchanted to make your acquaintance, my darling girl."

Tucker is never going to say, "Shannon, I got the munchies. Can you microwave me some popcorn?"
So we are hemmed in by location and era. Right?

But there has to be more than that because all these people are in the same location, the same era. Now we've got to go back. Go to Upbringing and Influence. Go to BACKSTORY.

It's all part of Remember Who You Are.

So what do we know about Tucker?

He was raised by a Shoshone woman and they are so close he calls her Ma. 

Although Sunrise left her tribe and spent her adult life with a fur trapper/mountain man she is still very much an Indian woman and she's taught her ways to Tucker.

Tucker has also learned at the knee of is father who came around a lot after he left Tucker with Sunrise and Sunrise's husband. He knows the attitudes of the Shoshone, the lingo of the fur traders and he knows the land. He is fiercely in love with his mountains.

It's not just the slang and tone of his voice it's also the words he chooses. Tucker is going to say things like,

“I was on my way up country for a fact, Ma. But I didn’t take my horse, so you know I wasn’t going to stay long.” ( aside...this sounds like the lamest excuse a man every made for running off and yet as the story unfolds we find out Tucker would NEVER leave his horse. Anyone who knows Tucker understand that and Tucker's horse is my favorite animal character ever). He reached out and took Shannon's hand and turned her to face him. "Marry me, Shannon. I was heading for the high up hills because I saw a cap of black curls on the roof of a house."

Shannon knew what he spoke of. Their eyes had met only for a moment, but Shannon had felt that connection. "You were leaving because of that?"

"I knew what I saw, and I knew how badly I wanted to see you again. And I knew I didn't want to tie a woman to me. Ma's right that I don't want to put a woman through the life I've seen her live with Pierre. He was a good man in his way, but he was a poor excuse for a husband and father. I won't do that to any woman. And because I didn't want to settle down, I was clearing out. But I knew when I woke up in your arms that my fate was sealed. I knew it when you admitted you were Kylie's sister." He smiled again. "Ah, shucks, I knew it before we hit the water."

He leaned down and kissed her long and hard. "Marry me, Shannon. I'll be a good husband to you. You have my solemn vow. I understand what Ma worries about. I promise you, I won't give you reason to be sorry you've said yes."

She wished he'd go take a good long bath and then ask again but that wasn't going to happen. She could stand to take one herself. With a mental shrug, because she felt certain her fate was indeed sealed, she said, "Yes, Tucker. I'll marry you."

He kissed her.               
His kiss made her think of something she wanted to make very clear so she leaned right next to his ear. "We may speak vows now that are forever, but you'll not have the rights of a husband until we know each other much better than we do now."

She straightened away so she could see how he reacted.

The man looked very surprised. And so disappointed she couldn’t help but be a bit flattered. Which didn’t change her mind one whit. Honestly, he was next thing to a complete stranger and in desperate need of a bath. What little she knew of the intimacies of marriage were unthinkable anytime soon.


The man was outright pouting. Then he shrugged. "I suppose." He sounded very glum.

The Voice. This is something I really love. Tell me what the profession and background of your character is then start thinking of what he/she would say. What expressions he/she would use.

Is he a preacher? He's going to think in terms of the Bible and maybe in terms of counseling or preaching.

He'll say things like, "We need to just calm down and share our feelings." "We need to pray about it."

Is he a carpenter? He's going to use builder terms and slang. In his talk and his thoughts. Voice goes into a characters head too, his thoughts. A carpenter might think, it hit him like a hammer. He nailed it. It was straight as a plumb line.

An accountant might think, That doesn't add up. He owes me. He's out of balance. He's long overdue to apologize.

A detective might say, "You'll never get away with that." "You're just taking a shot in the dark." "You're aiming in the wrong direction."

A cook might think, "She forgot what she was doing and her whole plan fell flat." She mixed all her ideas together and came up with a recipe for success. It was a half-baked plan if ever she'd heard one.

Now some of these are clichés and we're to avoid them, but you see what I mean right? You can see how if you Remember Who You Are that can lace through nearly every word or at least appear frequently in their words and thoughts.

So, YOUR TURN. Tell me about your character's voice. Give me a sample of their way of talking that is TRUE to themselves.

Above all.....


Leave a comment to get your name in the drawing for a signed copy, I'm not sure what to do here.

This has been the Mary Connealy Sale-a-thon week.

I've got FIVE BOOKS ON SALE AS EBOOKS RIGHT NOW. So WINNER'S CHOICE-in the format's listed, so if I'm talking about the ebooks on sale--you have to choose an ebook. Well, except for the free one, you don't have to pick that if your name is drawn for the winner. You can have that one for free.


Each of these Mary Connealy trilogies is on sale at your favorite e-retailer for $2.99
Montana Marriages: Kindle, Nook
Lassoed in Texas: Kindle, Nook
Sophie's Daughters: Kindle, Nook

A Bride for All Seasons is on Sale as an ebook for $1.99: Kindle, Nook

UNBELIEVABLE (and if you're not too chicken) Ten Plagues by Mary Nealy (me) is on sale for $0.99 for the month of January. Kindle, Nook

Plus a new release: A Match Made in Texas Amazon, Barnes and Noble

Plus the December re-release The Alaska Brides Collection. Amazon, Barnes & Noble

Plus Out of Control is free as an ebook. Kindle, Nook


  1. Hi, Mary! I love your books. And not only do your characters have their own unique voice, I can tell which stories are yours, because they have YOUR unique voice as well. Good Job!

  2. Hi Mary:

    This is my favorite series of posts. I believe your “REMEMBER WHO YOU ARE!” advice is the key on so many different levels. Even without backstory you can give your characters different psychologies.

    For example: What is a character’s primary learning modality?


    She might say things like, “I see what you mean”, “Do you get the picture?”, “Your plan looks good to me.”


    She might say, “I hear where you’re coming from,” “Does that ring a bell with you?” “Your plan sounds good to me.”


    “I have a firm grip on it now”, “Is that an idea you can get your hands around?” “I think your plan will put us all on solid ground”.

    Of course, you can make the comments story appropriate. I think such usage can give your characters a ‘personality’ without the reader even being aware of what it is that is making them different.

    You can also give your characters a world view:

    Optimist: “It looks like rain but I think we’ll make it back to the ranch in time.”

    Pessimist: “When those black clouds open up we’ll get soaked to the bone and catch our death before we’re even halfway home.”

    Pragmatist: “Lord knows we could use the rain beside that’s why we carry a slicker in our saddle bags.”

    Philosopher: "Rain or no rain, what difference does it make in the grad scheme of things?"

    Wise guy: “Frank, it’ll make no difference to you rain or no rain. You’re all wet all the time anyway.”

    Just some variations on a theme. : )

    BTW: your book I most want to read is the one in which Vince is the hero. I made my comment so please enter my name. And keep this series going as long as you can. It is very helpful.

  3. Hey Mary, this is who my character is.... I hope how she talks kinda reflects who she is.

    Roxy is a 19 year old rancher who just lost her parents and took over the ranch.

    (Mike is a ranch hand)

    Mike looked toward the sky. "Looks like we will be getting snow pretty soon."
    "If that's the case, we need to get these beasts to the North field. It's closer our way." Roxy looked at the ranch hands. "What do you fellows think?"

  4. Thanks Mary. I'm keeping this post as I start a new story. I'll refer back to this often.

    Vince, you always add icing to the cake. Thanks.

  5. Morning MARY, Great series on voice--that elusive element that is hard to nail down. And like MARIANNE said it is required in the author as well and you do have a distinct voice.

    What you are saying about the voice of the character has to be distinctly theirs really comes through in audio. I"m listening to SWEPT AWAY and of course there is only one person reading it aloud so your characterization really shows through because I can tell who is talking by their voice. Love it. Great going.

  6. Great info, Mary!

    Love how you pit the hero against the heroine...and your cowboys are always so shy around women. Love them!!!

    I need to focus on REMEMBER WHO THEY ARE! Excellent advice.

    You're a pro at voice, Mary!

    Cold and windy in GA. The temp is drop...drop...dropping...

  7. BTW, school has been cancelled for two days. No snow yet, but that's GA. LOL

  8. Thank you for a wonderful post, MaryC! You've given me lots to think about.

    I can 'hear' the authors voice when reading other writers books, but can't recognize a voice in my own writing. :-)

    I'm going to re-read this info again when I'm fully awake.

  9. My secondary character is Calvin, an uncouth jerk of a cowboy. He's trying to tell the heroine, a nurse, that he intends to marry her. Here's a small excerpt:

    Letting his eyes graze over Beth's body a crooked smile crept over his face. "Well Darlin', don't get to comfortable tendin' to any of your patients 'cuz once we're hitched you won't need to work no more."

    Would love to be entered into your giveaway!

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.

    countrybear52 AT yahoo DOT com

  10. Hi Seekers!

    Great column Mary! Voice is something that my characters struggle with. I may have a character who will sometimes mimic a rich person to sound better than she actually speaks. Portraying this "code switch" as it is called confuses people (especially contest judges), but I keep searching for a way to pull it off. Thanks for your pointers today.

    Debby and I (*waving from up the highway at Debby*) may complain about how cold it is in Georgia, but it's probably colder where you are. :)

  11. Yes!! This is perfect.

    We say that inspirational fiction is fiction written with a Christian world view, well, your heroes lines and POV should be written from his particular world view.

    A cowboy world view.

    A teacher world view.

    A lawyer world view.

    Excellent stuff, Mary!!

  12. Mary, great post. You're making me think about how different (or similar) my characters are. As I prepare my next story, I can make sure my characters are very different. :)

    REMEMBER WHO YOU ARE. And use the backstory.

    Great tips.

    Thank you!

  13. This is great, Mary! I think I will keep this for future reference.

    A lot of my characters sound the same, so I will attempt to give them a more unique voice!

    Home this morning b/c can't get out of the driveway. Been out twice and am exhausted by the heavy snow.

    Stay warm everyone,


  14. Well good morning,
    Thank you, Mary. This is something we constantly need to be reminded of. And voice springs from deep point of view and knowing our characters.
    Here's the opening from my current WIP:
    January 1847
    Hall's Mill, Oregon
    Well, this was different.
    Pace Williams watched as the woman climbed down from the teetering mound of packages in the freighter's wagon. How old was she, anyway? The West was young people's country. Most of the elderly had been weeded out on the Overland Journey, or had sense enough not to come in the first place. What was this old woman doing here?
    She wore old clothes, a wool coat with a button missing, stall-mucking boots, and a man's shapeless felt hat. But when she swiveled to look around her, the face under the hat was breathtakingly beautiful--and young. An oval face, with full red lips and skin like fresh cream, and big eyes with long dark lashes.
    And angry. Very angry.
    He knew he was staring. Well, this woman must be used to it.
    Her voice rang out over what passed for a square, in this place that passed for a town. "Does anyone know where I could find one Michael Moriarty?"
    "I'm here." Mike pushed his way to the front of the crowd. "What would you be wanting with--Oh!"
    The girl pushed at Mike's chest, and before the big Irishman could finish his sentence, he tumbled into the horses' trough.
    Well, it was too much to expect a body not to laugh. 'Specially Pace, who knew Mike better'n anybody. He doubled over until his stomach hurt.
    The girl rounded on him. "Think it's funny, do ye?" She shoved at him with both arms, and Pace lost his balance, tumbling into the icy water trough beside Mike.
    In his career Pace had confronted Mexican bandits, wagon train mutinies, white men's pistols, red men's tomahawks, and a man in the Canadian lumber camp who had gone berserk and charged the entire company with an axe. But he'd never been pushed into a horses' trough by a woman with a perfect face and eyes the color of a mountain stream.
    He struggled to his feet, shaking himself like a dog. Well, the water was cold enough. This woman knew how to get a man's attention, he'd give her that. Although there must be easier ways...
    Beside him Michael clambered out of the trough, with his wife Caroline clinging to him as though she could lift 200 pounds of Irishman. Mike looked as sorry as Pace felt, with his denims and plaid shirt clinging to him. Their friends' and neighbors' laughter didn't help any. Mike leveled a glare at them before focusing it on the newcomer.
    "Michael, who is she?" Caroline looked scared to death.
    "She's Oona Cathleen Moriarty, my sister. And she's supposed to be in a convent in Dublin, not pushing me into horses' troughs."
    The woman matched him, scowl for scowl. "After what you did to me, 'tis lucky I didn't drown you."
    And the townspeople continued to point, to chuckle. Nice if they all went home, but Pace knew his neighbors. That was too much to ask.
    I am working on establishing Pace's voice from the get-go.
    This is a great series.
    Kathy Bailey

  15. I thought of this last night and it was the first thing I thought I needed to say this morning....a correction to my post.

    Your hero probably SHOULDN'T be an accountant. That was a bad example. the voice of the accountant is a good example, just, as professions go, not a lot of romance novel hero accountants. Which is a shame.

    I think Ruthy could make it work.

    GO FOR IT RUTHY!!!!!

  16. Vince! My Vince-the-Hero book is coming in JUNE! I'm looking forward to it. I love the big series finale always and I think Stuck Together, Vince's story, is a good one!

  17. Marianne, you know this is so true about voice. Usually when we talk about VOICE we're talking about author voice.

    And I guess it's a FOR SURE THING that I have one, huh?

    So this is just another angle on VOICE, just in case being a writer and learning writing skills ISN'T CONFUSING ENOUGH! :)

  18. Excellent advice, Mary! I actually hear my characters speaking inside my head, so I just basically take dictation.

    But your characters won't "talk" to you unless you know them well, so what you said about knowing their backstory is vital.

  19. CORTNEY K! Are you the Cortney I just emailed?????

    If so I'm so glad you came over to Seekerville.

    (well, for heaven's sakes whoever you are I'm glad you came over to Seekerville! But you know what I mean)

    Anyway WELCOME!!!! I hope you find great stuff here and have some fun, too.

    Thanks for posting an example. You write cowboys, huh? GOOD GIRL!!!

  20. Jackie, I think a great exercise would be to write a paragraph of dialogue or even write a paragraph of internal thought

    Then change character and have the DIFFERENT character say the same thing or have the same thought, but then change it to their voice.

    If it doesn't change you need to ask why. You need to ask if the character is developed enough, unique enough.

  21. Mary you create the best characters!

    The hero in my story has a motto: Never miss an opportunity to remain silent.

    His sentences are short, clipped, and to the point.

  22. This excerpt's a little long, and Mary, you'd probably use different words than me.

    “You’re loco, kid!” He swiped the blood from the back of his neck and pulled his shirt back aright. “We’re not married. I believed I was marrying Margery. I didn't agree to mak you my wife, and I’ll not be saddled to some kid because Margery couldn't stay out of another man’s bed.”
    “It’s too late. You’re my husband. I have witnesses. We were pronounced man and wife by a preacher. We consummated the marriage!”
    His eyes darkened and his voice lowered to almost a whisper. “Then you need to undo this little mess. By nightfall, I want us unmarried."

    This use of "loco" has been questioned and some might say unhitched instead of unmarried, but I can't picture my hero using that term.

  23. And Mary, now I want to make my hero an accountant. Maybe like by the time he was 19 and his job in the War Between the States had been to bury the dead, he no longer wanted to see a gun again. So he picked the safe occupation of an accountant. Of course something like keeping books for the pint-of-girl who runs the local dress shop turns into gun battle of the territory. Or something like that.

  24. I'm loving this series of posts Mary. You make things sound so straight-forward simple. Definitely easy to understand because you give such wonderful examples too. I adore Tucker and will be itching to get to read his story.

    I've long understood what you're saying about voice, mostly because of my mom. She always wants to know a person in light of how God wired them to be, so she always paid attention to how they said, what they said. Somehow she passed along that habit to me, or, it probably came from growing up with two brothers and learning how to translate what they said to what they really meant. *heh*

    Younger brother: farmer and mechanic (which usually go hand in hand if you want your farm to survive, now that I think about it).
    He's always referred to people by the vehicle they drove. "You know mom, the guy who drove that big, red, Ford pick-up"And his words usually reflected mechanical terms.

    My husband talks nautical/dive terms A LOT! Boy, do I have his voice down (and he'd make quite the interesting hero - though he'd shudder to know I'm thinking about THAT) He's a retired NAVY, boatswain's mate (the ONLY rate, mind you, according to him) and a scuba instructor/diver. Yeah, him and water - bosum buddies. I joke he's amphibious. Here's a couple of his phrases:

    if someone is getting to wound up, hyper, etc - "Boom down, Shipmate!"

    if he's getting angry or wanting to put his foot down, so to speak - "Don't make me drop anchors on you."

    if he thinks someone is being stupid or crazy - "That boy's seen too much bottom time on mixed gas."

    I guess it's nice to have such fine examples in my own family *heh*. I really enjoyed reading today's post and thinking about my characters and how I can get their voices more in tune for my readers.

    You're awesome Mary!!!! (well, all the Seekers are, IMHO)

  25. Excellent post, Mary! This is definitely a challenge for me, because I have to work hard to make sure my characters don't all speak like kindergarten teachers (me in a former life, LOL).
    But I'm working on it, and this post is a keeper for sure.
    Btw, I agree with others who love your cowboys *sigh*---you do a great job with those unique voices (not to mention their handsome LOOKS!). ;)
    Hugs from cold, windy Georgia, Patti Jo

  26. Oh, Mare, LOVE this topic and honestly, nobody does it better than you. Every single one of your characters -- and God knows that's a small city -- has a different and unique personality that clearly stands out in my mind and stays in my memory. And what's so weird about that is almost all of your heroines are strong women, but they're all different, as are the heroes -- AMAZING!!

    I tried to do that in the O'Connor saga, but we're talking 15 people vs. a gazillion Mary Connealy characters, so you are truly the master!!


  27. Mary, you're so awesome at this. I sometimes struggle with this. Sometimes I don't get the character's voice anywhere close to right until I'm doing revisions. But since I've known Margaretha for a couple of books now, I had her voice down pretty well. Here she is with the hero after he's been attacked. She thinks she is annoying because her little brothers tease her for talking too much:

    “Are you sure you are able to get up?” She helped him by getting hold of his shoulder and arm and pulling him. Once he was sitting, he closed his eyes again.
    “Are you all right? Are you in pain? You look so pale. Are you sure you won’t faint?” He swayed a bit and she steadied him. “I’m sorry. When I get nervous I talk too much and ask too many questions and don’t give the other person enough time to answer. It’s my worst fault. I always say that, but the truth is, I hope that is my worst fault, but people often don’t realize what their worst fault is. And I’m doing it again. Forgive me.”

    My hero has been harder to pin down, but I'm still working on him.

  28. Mary, thanks for the excellent post! You're a pro at character voice! Now James Earl Jones is in my head saying REMEMBER WHO YOU ARE. :-) I love your books and examples and can't wait for Gage and Bailey's story! Talk about conflict!!

    Back story, occupation, setting, education, personality--the list of variables that impact voice is long! The hard part is giving the hero and heroine an unique voice that readers will admire. The reason writing secondary characters is easier. We can make them wacky with a voice that would never fit a hero.


  29. This comment has been removed by the author.

  30. Such a great post, Mary!

    A man's words are a glimpse into his soul, aren't they? When you listen to people talk (tell me I'm not the only one who eavesdrops), you can tell a lot about them by the words they choose.

    My hero - still Bunk - is a machinist at the beginning of the story. He makes things out of metal - kind of a 19th century Mechanical Engineer. But he also spent time in the army during the Civil War. So his words are precise, and his feelings are wounded. That makes an interesting combination to work with.

    She leveled her gaze at him, tilting her chin up slightly. Bunk straightened to his full height, forcing her chin up farther. “Mr. Jones, I’m sure you know that children do best when learning in a safe, secure environment. Can you provide that for them while you work to set up your business?”

    “I can provide the best environment they need, and that’s with me.”

    “But what about school?”

    “Abe Lincoln learned at night after a day’s work. Charlie and Olivia can do the same.”

    “But surely you don’t think….”

    “Surely I do think I know what’s best for these children. They’re my responsibility and I’m going to take care of them.”

    She stared at him, her eyes growing bluer as the sun rose over the distant hills. And here he thought he’d escape these busy-body do-gooders when he came west. No one, not even a dark-haired angel, was going to take his children away from him. He slammed his hat on his head.

    “I’ll be waking the children up now. We need to get working on getting the wagon repaired and head on into town.”

    Another thing I've noticed as I've been working with Bunk and Sarah, is that a person's language changes if they become emotional over something. In casual conversation, or when he's trying to make a point, Bunk is quite proper in his language. But when he feels threatened or angry, his language gets a lot looser :)

  31. Well, the morning just got very interesting and it's taken me away from all of you.

    1) Furnace stopped working
    2) It's ten degrees below zero
    3) A coyote is living in our barn

    Now, I'll admit the coyote doesn't really affect me all that much but it's very interesting and My Cowboy comes in and fights with the's WORKING it's just not switching on.
    So he's having to switch it on manually.

    So it runs until things are warm, then shuts off....and stays off....and it's ten degrees below stinking zero...

    And then he tells me about the coyote.

    So...distractions abound.

  32. ps the coyote has mange and is pretty unhealthy so it's not good to have it around the cattle, though we don't think it would attack or could hurt a full grown cow, or probably even a calf, though we have no calves right now so it's not a concern and My Cowboy says mange isn't something a coyote can give to a cow.

    I wonder about cats?

  33. I am loving this series and this one has helped me considerably! Thanks, Mary!

    I can't help but feel sorry for the poor hairless coyote out in the cold. : (

  34. Mary Hicks, I guess I recognize my own voice...sort of, but how exactly is my voice a separate thing from the cowboy slang mixed with the sarcasm?

    I've got Ten Plagues, the Mary Nealy book on sale right now and I read some of the reviews of it and one of them said, "This is a completely different voice for Mary Connealy."

    So is that true? There's plenty of sarcasm in it, and I really see THAT as my voice.

    The comedy mixed in with whatever is going on.

    But maybe after all these years I still don't know what I'm talking's always best to assume that...just so you know.

  35. Cindy W, oh I just want to smack that crooked smile off that sidewinder's face.


  36. Piper, it sounds like you're operating on a really HIGH level with this SWITCH. You'll get it figured out. Find maybe the BODY language that conveys the switch.

    Have her mentally 'pull on her silk gloves'. You know what I mean, that's a terrible example.

    But give a cue in her thoughts to her own need to pull the rich rabbit out of her hat.


  37. There's nothing like being wakened in the middle of the night by coyotes howling right under your bedroom window. We've been living out in the country for 10 years and it still takes me forever to get back to sleep lol. They make the most eerie sound.

    Great post with lots to remember. I'm bookmarking this this series.

  38. Hi kaybee:

    Fantastic! I was totally hooked by your story opening. I could not stop reading it. I kept wondering if Pace was going to pick that woman up and dump her into the trough like John Wayne playing Mclintock would do. “Lady, we don’t cotton to misbehaving female wildcats in this here town.” That would sure set up a conflict between the two.

    BTW: Do you really want to use the name ‘Moriarty’? Moriarty’ is perhaps the most famous villain in literature. Every time I read the name ‘Moriarty’ I had a mental picture of Sherlock Holmes. I don’t think I’ve seen any other writer use that name. Just a thought.

    I sure want to read this book when it comes out! The story read like very immediate deep POV in that I felt the whole time like I was there in the action. Loved it.

  39. Yeah, Tina, what VINCE says about the voice of the character going to a psychological level is really great, really KEY.

    One thing that occurs in my book is the heroes of books 2 (Tucker the mountain man) and 3 (Gage the rancher) is how they clash, they respect each other and Tucker works for Gage and they're both strong men.

    But Tucker lives WITH nature. He loves though mean, bitter cold mountains and lives in harmony with them, he's settled into them.

    Gage is trying to TAME them. He's blasting out roads, building fence, clearing land.

    This is a problem. Not a huge problem. Because they mostly just let another man go his own way, but when they do clash, which they do because Tucker marries Shannon and Shannon has plunked her homestead right on one of Gage's best Water Sources and he wants her gone and his water back, and Tucker wants Shannon to like him, Tucker wants to know when will it be enough for Gage? Why does he think he needs to tame the whole mountain?

    Gage wants to know how Shannon and everyone else can ride down roads GAGE tore out of the mountain as if they were always there and then act like he doesn't have a right to the land he's tamed.

  40. Jeanne see this is so great that you're making these decisions now, before you start, because once you're into the book and both of your characters have similar background and are from the same place with parents who had the same career so they've had the same lingo in their heads all their life, you're going to struggle to differentiate.

  41. Susan, if humanly possible, could you just STAY INSIDE!

    Write. ENJOY being trapped.

    Can't you just wait until spring to go out? That's my plan?

    What's that? I have to go back to work tomorrow?

    RATS! I heard we have a high of TWENTY tomorrow. Wearing swimming suit to work.

  42. Kathy, I love this.
    I think the voice is great, the Irish twang, mild but definitely there, perfectly salted in.

    I had a little trouble really hearing the voice because I was enjoying reading the excerpt too much.

    I want this book in print so badly. I love what you're doing here.

  43. Sherri, see I love this.

    Never miss an opportunity to remain silent.

    My cowboys, though I sometimes forget, usually aren't real talkative. More the Man of Action types. Right? More fun I think, more REAL.

  44. CONNIE QUEEN consider me deeply, utterly intriqued!


    Double wow!

    And they have a voice, too, but wow.

  45. CONNIE Well, okay, but can he be an accountant who occasional shoots someone...just to keep things lively?

    I mean he can only shoot people if they're BAD of course.

  46. Oh, Mary! Not the furnace!

    The coyote can hang out in the barn - YOU NEED TO STAY WARM!

    Discouraged today. Needed that.

  48. Ooh, I love this post and peeking into Mary's works in progress. :-)

    When I'm writing dialog or body language for my characters, I'm always thinking "would he/she say it this way, or even say this at all?"
    Not sure I'm pulling it off in my current WIP, but it's still in rough draft form so hopefully I'll get if figured out in revisions.

    Kaybee, I'm hooked by your opening. I. Want. To. Read. It! :D

    It's -4° right now. Warmed up from -8° when I fed horses at 5am. I am so done with winter.

  49. DebH, your husband's shuddering not-withstanding, I think you really SHOULD use his history, his voice for a hero. This goes straight to Write What You Know and what you know is unique.

    You know nautical and diving stuff too, right? That's a connection between you and your husband.

    And it's different and interesting. You should do a hero and heroine with a scuba diving angle.

  50. These expressions are completely unknown to me and yet I get them and they're cool:

    if someone is getting to wound up, hyper, etc - "Boom down, Shipmate!"

    if he's getting angry or wanting to put his foot down, so to speak - "Don't make me drop anchors on you."

    if he thinks someone is being stupid or crazy - "That boy's seen too much bottom time on mixed gas."

  51. CatMom well, hmmm...kindergarten teachers, that's sweet for the heroine.

    Have you seen Arnold Schwartenwhatever in Kindergarten Cop? I guess you could make it work.

    Good luck. LOL

  52. Melanie, love your chatty heroine! She surely slows down when she needs to take a breath. :-)


  53. MELANIE, I love that overly chattery bit you posted.

    You do a great job on voice and all the more challenging because you're writing in a truly unusual era.

    I mean honestly, I may do cowboys well, but c'mon how many John Wayne movies have we all seen? I've got a huge edge because I don't have to explain a lot of cowboy terms. We all know them.

    I love your work.

  54. Yikes, Mary! Your life is interesting! A mangy coyote in the barn and a malfunctioning furnace in these temps would put me on edge.


  55. Janet that's such a great point about secondary characters being wacky and being able to give them a slightly wilder, most distinctive voice.

  56. hi Mary
    thanks for the thoughts on the scuba diving angle. i've got a couple ideas percolating in my brain that hopefully i can get down on paper. always good to hear a "you SHOULD do that" though. helps give me confidence i'm on the right track.

    put me in the stetson for a shot at one of your titles (although i did already purchase X Plagues)

  57. Jamie I love this scene, what a 'cute meet'.
    I love the whole set up and if the hero is a James Garner type then her catching him in such an undignified manner is perfect.

    Love the boys and the fishing poles.

    The voices are perfect and you can still be really historically settled in your time period. Modern stuff came to the west slowly.

  58. JAN is this book, with Bunk sold? I want to read it so badly!!!!

  59. I agree with Jackie -- Vince, does, indeed, "ALWAYS add icing to the cake"!

    CINDY W ... like what you've done with Calvin, darlin' ... are you plannin' on cleanin' him up as a hero for book 2??

    MARY!! A coyote??? And a coyote with mange, no less?? Cold chills on top of my -4 cold chills!!


  60. Hi Donna, glad you're liking the series.

    As for the coyote vs the weather, for some reason an old old old WC Fields movie which I can't even really remember ... a scene keeps flitting through my head. I've probably only seen one part of it. This one scene.

    WC Fields says, "And its not a fit night out for man nor beast."
    He swings open the door and what looks absolutely fake, like a bucket full of fake snow, is thrown in his face.

    And this happens over and over.

    Now did I watch a movie that had him doing that over and over? Or did I watch some thing where they just showed it over and over?

    Anyway, I keep thinking, "And it's not a fit night out for man nor beast." BAM face full of snow.

    That's life right now. (it's not snowing here, but my imagination supplies that)

  61. CLARI, I fix so much dialogue in revisions. I'll be reading through and just be amazed at the stupid stuff I have come out of my characters' mouths.

    They would NEVER SAY THAT!!!!

  62. Ummmm, the coyote is still alive? There is no way on snow covered earth we'd let a mangy coyote shacked up in our barn stay alive, cold or no cold. Does that make us cold-hearted? I think our chickens would kiss our ice covered hearts if they weren't huddled up in the coop near the heater. Do it for the chickens of the world!!!!

  63. four below in st. Louis, JULIE???

    C'mon Global Warming!

    I promise, if it will help, I'll go buy a HumVee right now and just let it sit in the driveway idling until spring.

  64. No, Bunk and Sarah's story isn't sold yet.

    Christmas and family time took precedence during the last few weeks, but I plan on getting the proposal to my agent this week.

    I really like the way the story and characters are working out, so I think it will sell...but I said that about my last story...and it's still languishing on some editor's desk....

  65. It was a really warm 10 degrees in Alabama this morning. (Sarcasm. Ten degrees is NOT warm to this Alabama girl.) Our next door neighbor called and asked if our water was working. I instantly knew: Her pipes were frozen. I asked her if she had covered her outdoor faucets and she said no. I told her that she needed to do that to keep her pipes from freezing. I just assumed everybody would know that, but in Alabama, I guess not. :-(

    My challenge is to keep Margaretha in character without letting her go on and on and get boring. Boring is the kiss of death, and I always try to leave out the boring parts.

  66. A mangy coyote and a broken furnace in sub-zero weather does sound very distracting, Mary. Last night I was distracted waiting for the snow THAT NEVER CAME!!! It's not fair to be this cold and not get snow. NOT. FAIR. Of course, it's all a matter of perspective. Those of you who are suffering sub-zero temps would rather not have the snow, with or without the bitter cold, I'm sure. But in Alabama, well, you know.

  67. It's 8 degrees here today. I'm so thankful for a warm house and don't plan to leave it ... till spring.

  68. Thanks for the memorable comment
    REMEMBER WHO YOU ARE. James Earl Jones is now the little voice in my head as I have a goal setting day. this phrase reminds me to plan as if I am the fledgling writer I want to be. this was not your intent, Mary, but I will take this piece of wisdom today. thank you for the ebook.

  69. Am I the only one rooting for the mangy coyote in the barn? Can you tell I'm a city slicker? Mary, you need to turn that into a book for children. A lovely illustrated picture book, The Cowboy and the Coyote, about an unlikely friendship between...well a coyote and a cowboy. I think it could sell!

    I've been enjoying reading these excerpts in the comments...but it's frustrating too because now I want to rush out and get the books and keep on reading!

    And...oh no!!!!! Say it ain't hero is an account. Seriously! Why, you ask. Well, because I'm writing a suspense and Love Inspired said they were looking for heroes and heroines with occupations not typical to the genre so I figured an accountant fit the description. Plus my dad was an accountant so I am familiar with their wiley ways and black and white viewpoints which I thought would be a great way to drive my heroine crazy since she follows a more creative bend.

  70. Love your post, Mary! Character voices can really make a book incredible. I remember that James Scott Bell recommends a character voice journal. He says to get to know your character and then free-write a page or two in their voice, first person. I've found that to be a good starting place.

  71. I've been thinking of stepping outside for just a second, just to say I'd done it.

    So far I've resisted.

  72. MELANIE--leave out the boring parts. Very wise. LOL
    Sounds like this:

    “I try to leave out the parts that people skip.”
    ― Elmore Leonard

  73. I read in the Focus on the Family insert in our church's bulletin yesterday that a married couple should pick a time at the beginning of each new year and sit down and talk about the state of their relationship and talk about plans and goals for the new year.

    I asked my cowboy when he'd like to do that.

    I don't think EYE ROLLING is an appropriate response.

  74. Mary! Step outside! Take a deep breath! OWN THE COLD!

    Around here the cold doesn't stop anyone. It's warmed up to 3°, so I'm heading out to the post office. Yesterday, it never got above -8°, so we're enjoying this warm spell.

  75. Hi OLIVIA!

    Planning does not make you a FLEDGLING writing.

    I can remember so well, pre-published when I'd start a new book thinking to write THIS ONE with all the skills I'd gathered, to write a book SO GOOD that a publisher would HAVE to buy it.

    I'd look at that blank Word document and think, "REMEMBER EVERYTHING YOU KNOW."

    That makes you EDUCATED and TRAINED, not fledgling. GO FOR IT GIRL!

  76. Hi Mary,

    Church was cancelled yesterday and area schools today because of ice/snow/below zero temps.

    I wasn't sure if I had a distinguishable voice, so I really felt good when I learned that the "acquiring authority" said she liked my voice when I was told we had gotten a yes on my contracted series.

    Got AA's and a bonus lesson for the January class this morning, so I'm keeping busy while hibernating from the cold.

  77. Helen, so you're talking about your author voice, right? Not your characters' voices.

    So that's great and fun to know.


  78. I stepped outside.

    Uh....I think it was a mistake.

    I may need my extremities amputated.

    Jan, this is YOUR FAULT!

  79. Mary, I've read that Elmore Leonard quote before. I like to paraphrase it by saying, "I try to leave out the boring parts."

  80. The plot thickens...

    A broken heater.
    A coyote.
    An accountant.

    Returning to WIP.

    Stay warm!

    (Yay, Kav! You're so right. Tina James wants unusual heroes. I'm cheering for your accountant.)

  81. Handing Julie--who looks lovely in her red dress--a sweater! Brrrr! It's too cold for shoestring straps. :)

  82. Last night the weatherman mentioned some of the low temps you folks in the North are enduring. He said frostbite sets in within 10 minutes!!!

    Stay safe!
    Stay covered!
    Stay warm!

    BTW, we have sunshine and 30 degrees in GA. I'm going for a walk soon.

  83. I don't think EYE ROLLING is an appropriate response

    LOL Mary

    I think my man would do the hand slap to his face, muttering "oh brother..." and then, of course, my four year old boy would follow suit with an added "silly momma..."

    stay warm all.
    this morning i checked and it was 65deg (virginia beach). of course, the forcast calls for 22deg by nightfall. good thing DH took down all the outside Christmas lights yesterday (yep, we keep 'em up til Epiphany usually).

    time to head home from work and cuddle with my boys...

  84. You're braver than I am, Debby! It's 40 and sunny here in NC, but you won't find me venturing out!

    My poor daughter and fam are visiting friends in Chicago this week. I can guarantee they aren't going outside much!

  85. Hi Mary! Yes ma'am I am the Cortney you emailed...... And I loved your post.... I tend to put my southern accent into my characters... All of them weather they need it or not...
    But that's because that's how I talk....

    And I have a question..... This is probably way off subject here..... But how do u go about trying to get your book published... I have no idea... Lol

    And I do love cowboys.... Those are my favorite books....

    Thanks, CK

  86. Great post, Mary! I enjoy making their thoughts and dialogue fit their career. I had a lot of fun when I wrote a former football player. :)

  87. BTW, I'll definitely be hearing "remember who you are" in that big deep voice from now on! :)

  88. Cortney, Well, first finish it. That is key. You need a finished book and no publisher will buy a book from a first time author until it's finished.

    Next, you might consider entering it into some writer's contests. Check the archives of Seekerville to find some. Check the categories of those contests to find a contest that has a category for what you write.

    Then use the contest judges comments to refine your work.

    Next you might want to consider getting involved in professional organizations. Find a critique group.

    Consider attending a writer's conference...this is expensive so you might want to do the other things first, get that manuscript done, get the critique group in line to get revisions in order, enter the contests to get some input from neutral readers.
    And you might want to consider taking some classes, even just studying the archives on Seekerville is a way to 'take classes' but also through organizations such at ACFW ( or look on the main page of Seekerville under the Night Classes tab or through your local community college or hunt up a local writer's group.

    I call it the five Cs to publication.


    Then when you feel like your book is polished and ready you need to study the market. Do this by going to a book store and hunting around for books similar to what you write, then flipping them open and seeing who publishes them. Find the company online and search for Submission Guidelines.

    This gets tricky because so many companies don't take unagented submissions.

    If you're writing Christian fiction you can find the names of great agents through the list of agents who attend the ACFW annual conference. I don't know if they are still up from last year and I'm sure they're not up yet from next year, but keep checking the ACFW website and they'll start showing up.

    These agents all have websites and submission guidelines.

    And if you enter contests search for the names of finalist judges who are with the publishers you found while hunting around at that bookstore. Those judges if you final...and you may not at first...can let you bypass the 'no unagented submissions' rule and just send your book to them.
    There, that gives you a LOT to do for now. :)

  89. And, Cortney, contest all have an entry fee so you should get your book revised and polished as well as possible before you enter it so you don't spend a lot of money with a really rough draft.

    Get things in order before you start spending a lot of money on your work but once they ARE in order think of your pursuit of publication like someone pursuing a college degree. Years possibly of study. Some expense. Some classes. Some HARD WORK, to get that 'degree' a published book you can hold in your hands.

    It's a sweet, sweet feeling.
    I wrote for ten years before I got my first book published and on that day when I earned my first contract I had TWENTY finished books on my computer.

    Now everyone doesn't do it as slowly as I did. My Seeker Sister Julie Lessman got her first book published for example. (that show off!) But it can be hard hard work.
    God bless you.

  90. Thanks Mary. My problem is I start on one book and can't finish it and then another idea pops into my head and I start on that one.... But I have one now that I would really love to get finished and hopefully published....

    When I start writing the books I have an idea of how they are gonna start and end.... It's just getting the middles to come together and making the story interesting..... But I enjoy it....

    Thanks again Mary! And God Bless!

    Oh and BTW how old do u have to be to go to the conferences?

  91. If you're under 18 I think you have to be accompanied by an adult.

    Kortney, do NOT feel like those partially written books are failures. SAVE THEM. You can build on them and finish them later. They are great starting places for the future.

    But you do have to finish a book.

    Are you maybe writing them too long? What's your word length? If the middle is bogging you down have you considered a novella? Those are around 20,000 to 25,000 words. Then seriously, there's barely time for the beginning and the end.

    Try writing shorter stuff and see if that is more fun for you.

  92. Voice! Yes! 'Nuff said.

    Nancy C

  93. Mary, I recently read A Match Made in Texas and loved it! I can always tell when I'm reading one of your books. They have fantastic characters and great storylines! I love the way your create characters "one layer at a time". Thanks for being a fantastic write so that readers like me can enjoy SO many fantastic books!

  94. Thank for the great post, Mary. Your posts are always so easy to follow and entertaining.

    I've never thought about my characters' voices but since they're from different eras it's easy to make them different.

    Just a thought, but you'd be surprised how exciting accounting is, especially government accounting.

  95. Well, there you go, Elaine. Make your hero and accountant. I actually wrote a book with an accountant hero and heroine once.
    There was fraud and crime and betrayal and arrests were made.

    I think it was a wonderful book.

    (no publisher saw it that way of course!)

  96. Oh, I had so much fun reading this post! I love the fun way your characters have of thrumming each other in word, thought and deed! It's so stinkin' much fun, Connealy!

    I'm just done with work and have three grandboys here while Daddy is in surgery at the hospital...which is, I suppose, a GOOD PLACE FOR SURGERY!!!! Which is better than the kitchen table, barely wiped, that I would have used for surgical intervention!

    So Mary, I think you're right about distinction in voice in series.... And now I'm wondering if I do that the best I can.

    Mentally scans recent heroes.... Zach.... (a hottie, calm and funny) Luke.... ( a tall, blonde hottie, not so calm and not as funny as he could be!!!) Seth...he's coming up, he's a bear of a guy with the gentlest heart ever, a man who reaches beyond the ken to be the best he can be.

    But it's funny, I had to stop and think about the differentiation because series characters can get swallowed by the series!

    Mary, sincerely, I don't know anyone who does it better... You rock the Wild West and the series and the humor and almost make me wish I could have been a pioneer....

    But I'd have MISSED DOWNTON ABBEY!!!!!

  97. Oh man, convince an editor that an accountant is "Hot".... I don't know if even Ruthy-magic can do that.... and here's the thing, I have two boys who have CPA's.... and they're really good looking. I mean like gorgeous....

    So our image of accountants is SKEWED!!!!!

    We need to post pics of Matt and Luke around (notice the names of two Ruthy heroes???? And the September hero "Zach" was named after their lawyer brother)

    But I could add some funny heat to an accountant. Hey, if we can do it with lawyers, we've got to be able to polish up accountants, right?

  98. Elaine, accountants are often in stories, have you noticed that? But rarely heroes.... But I can totally see a suspense with an accountant that knows too much....

    Or one who embezzles, because who better to finagle the accounts than the accountant???

  99. I love when an author makes the effort to give characters unique voices.
    My heroine is a rad sarcastic and compares a lot of things to baking.
    Please enter me:) And I hope everybody isn't too cold. It's a lovely 9° here.

  100. Ruthy, I noticed the boys' names of course.

    but seriously dude as many books are you're writing you've got to be running out of names. It's a shame to have three nice names like those off limits, right?

  101. Courtney I like Rad Sarcastic. It actually sounds like a real voice. LOL

    I'll bet it's a great voice (tad...I get it)
    sarcasm and baking, sounds very distinctive.

  102. Okay, I'm super late to this party, but that's all right because I've had a rather long day. Anyhow, here's the sample from my WIP with the heroine and a secondary character.

    “You forget yourself, Kessler.” She spit his name from her mouth while she twisted out of his hold. “You’re in France now, not England. We don’t have lords and ladies, just citizens.”

    “Of all the ridiculous notions. Of course you have lords and ladies. Who do you think runs this wretched country of yours?”

    “Citizens, as I said.” She stood, shaking out her wrinkled skirts and shoving her matted hair over her shoulder. “That’s why we voted for Napoleon, because citizens are in charge. Which is more than a country with a tyrannical king like yours will ever understand.”

    “King George is not tyrannical.” Kessler shoved to his feet, his arms bony and emaciated as he crossed them over his chest.

    “No? Did your people vote to elect him king?”

    “Don’t be ridiculous.”

    “Then it’s tyranny.”

    “It’s sound monarchial leadership. A much better way to run a country than putting a bunch of halfwits that know nothing about governing a nation in charge simply because people voted for them. One halfwit voting for another doesn’t mean either should be in charge of the masses.” . . .

    “What about your servant Farnsworth there?” She gestured toward the stiff man rolling up the blankets where Gregory and Kessler had slept. “Have you ever asked him whether he likes your King George?”

    “Me?” Farnsworth squeaked. “I like King George well enough. Um, long live the king?”

    Kessler cleared his throat, a smirk playing on his lips.

    So perhaps attacking England’s monarch wasn’t the best way to make her point. “Fine then, Farnsworth. You like your king. Do you also like spending every moment of the day serving Kessler here?”

    “He serves Halston,” Kessler gritted.

    She kept her eyes on Farnsworth, who’d stopped rolling blankets and was now looking at her. “Perhaps you’d like to be a duke from here on out and let Kessler and Halston serve you.”

  103. Wait a second. Mary! What happened with the coyote??? You can't just leave a thread like that hanging!!!

    I doubt the pelt is worth anything if it's got mange so badly, maybe just $10-$20. I wonder if your hubby could use it to bait in more coyotes though. Those should bring a nice fur price with all this cold weather. Their coats should be nice and thick.

    Hmmm... I'll have to ask hubby what he would do with a mangy coyote. Well actually, I know the first thing he would do. It's what happens with the remains I don't know. And he'd probably take the brain and tan the hide just to have it because he' kind of like that.

  104. I've been gone traveling with my family all day long. But just for the record, I left the house at 5:45 am when it was dark and -16. It then proceeded to get colder as we traveled away from the lake. Down to -30 at the lowest. No. This isn't wind chill. This is just the temp.

    And the moral of the story? No one froze to death. I had a three year old, outside and in the truck and in the doctor's and in the restaurant, etc. all day long, and he survived. I survived. Everyone is still alive.

    So Mary, what were you saying about going outside for 10 seconds? :-)

  105. For the record, when the three year old tried to walk out of the doctor's office without a coat on, I did stop him and make him put it on, cruel mother that I am. He was quite disappointed and tried telling me that big boys didn't need coats. At -20.

  106. Naomi, I love the scene you posted. LOVE IT.
    Great job.

  107. As for sister who lived in Minnesota for a while says, in Minnesota they say (paraphrasing) There is no bad weather, there is just bad gear.

  108. Besides, Naomi, I'm sure all those layers of skim will grow back on your children eventually!

  109. ok my head hurts, so reading hurts, (i know im whinging again) but I would love to go in the drawer for the ebook of your lastest (the novella). I just love that red dress.
    (am kinda starting to stress about a test the dr wants me to have. she is doing it just as a precaution and she doesn't think its a problem but she still wants it done asap. so kinda have the what if its an issue in my head. having the test on Thursday but dont see her for 3 weeks)
    ok I know totally off topic.

  110. Okay Mary. Hubby says to kill the coyote immediately and wear gloves when you touch it. Then dump it in the woods right away. Evidently people can get mange and all kinds of animals, like dogs and cats.

    Hope it gets handled quickly and safely. Guess there won't be any money in it for you though. Sorry about that. :-(

  111. Agh! I'm so late. I've had this post up on my computer all day but things kept coming up!! One of which was water exploding from the washing machine the house.

    Love these posts!! Here's my excerpt.

    Set up: My logger hero, Blane, just heard a rumor that his former sweetheart, Valor, fancies his brother. He's going to find out whether there's truth behind it or know the reason why...

    Across the lawn, Valor stood her ground beside the women's temperance booth. Her skirts, like red maple leaves rustling in the wind, caught Blane’s attention as she hugged herself and swayed to the music.

    The lady was too distracting not to be danced with. But he couldn’t ask her without finding out if that rumor held water.

    Where was his brother?

    He spotted the polished brown wood of Jesse's wheelchair in a group of older farmers. This he could fix.

    Jesse's brow scrunched when Blane approached the group and asked to speak with him. “What is it?”

    “Miss Hill is over there aching for company, and you’re jabbering with old men. You ought to go talk to her.”

    Jesse blinked, then observed Valor. “Think so?”

    Hope flickered inside Blane when Jesse shot him a strange look.

    Maybe Jesse knew nothing about Valor's affection for him.

    One sure way to test it.

    Jesse Roeper would not be forced to do anything that wasn't his idea.

    Blane steered the wheelchair in Valor's direction. “Know so.”

    Jesse’s hands clapped over the wheels. Moved about as much as an upright redwood. “You talk to her. I’m busy.” He turned the chair and rejoined the farmers.

    Blane let out a breath. Interest in Valor on Jesse’s side was out.

    Now to question the lady herself.

    You know my loyalty lies with Jesse, Lord. You also know this woman gets next to my heart quicker than a newborn calf to its mama. Give me the words to say to find out if Valor’s set her cap for Jesse. Help me not to go farther than you lead.

    And please let the lady say no.

  112. Oh my goodness. Reading these comments are way too much fun! These are such great examples, I can't wait 'til they're all pubbed so I can read the rest!!!

  113. Natalie Monk

    What is the name of your book?

    Sounds interesting.....

  114. Natalie, any and all explosions in your house count as top notch excuses.

    I really liked your excerpt and the voice, mainly just the one since except for a very few words from the brother it's all Blane, is great.

    I love it. Love the maple leaf dress, love the vision of her swaying to the music and how he is affected by the sight of her and the wheel chair adds intrigue and makes me want to hear more.

    LOVE IT!

  115. HI, CORTNEY!! My story is Heart of Valor. It's not published yet. I've got to polish it before sending any queries, but I'm dying to draft the brother's story, book #2. Speedbo project! So, probably won't query Valor until May or so. AAAAAND I'm rambling. :) Thanks for asking about my story! I love the excerpt from yours, too! Do you have a title for yours? What an intriguing storyline! And a fellow Southerner! I'm a Mississippian. Great to meet you!!

  116. This comment has been removed by the author.

  117. Thanks, Mary! You pegged the crippled brother right. While he's intelligent and kind, he's a man of very few words. Writing his character in another's POV is difficult, since he doesn't talk much. Other characters often misread his silence, looks or gestures, but it's hard because I don't want the reader to, lol.

    Oops, forgot to mention. Blane grew up on a farm, thus the calf comparison.

  118. I like the characters I read to have a distinctive "voice".

  119. Hey Natalie, I'm from Mississippi too.... Well that's where I used to live lol. But anyway, I haven't really got a title for my book but I was thinking maybe Mail-Order Husband or maybe Roxy's Mail-Order Husband something along that line. Lol

  120. Your series on characters is great Mary.
    Also, I just purchased your book XPlagues. Thanks so much.

  121. You could fill a library with the amount of books you have offered on discount with all those distributers!!! Wow. Do you just dictate in your sleep?

    Way to go, Mary!

    I love your characters and how real they become. You're the master, MC!

    It's the Voice. During draft stage, all my characters sound the same to me. In revisions, I've got a good feel for their attitude which makes conversations easy to slant to one character or another.

    Sorry I'm late by a day. Glad I didn't miss it!