Monday, February 4, 2019

I've got a new book coming in March--I'm launching it here with a giveaway!

The Unexpected Champion releases March 5th

I want to talk today about developing interesting characters.


There are those that say I myself am an interesting character, (or maybe they just "she's a character?") But that's a different blog post!


Sometimes it's a struggle to get characters to come to life.


And it's hard to explain what I mean about that, but I'll try.

I smile when I think about The Unexpected Champion.

I like writing tough, feisty heroines. I do it so much that sometimes I FORCE myself to not make my heroines tough, just to try and not be boring.

Click to Pre-Order
In The Accidental Guardian and The Reluctant Warrior, Deb and Gwen, the heroines, weren't necessarily tough.

They were strong, hardworking women, but they weren't frontier women. They had a lot to learn. Their toughness was inside, mental toughness. A knack for taking what life threw at them and dealing with it as best they could. And learning everything they could.

In book #3 The Unexpected Champion, my heroine is TOUGH.

Penny Scott has been living on the frontier for two years, working in a series of western forts, following her brother from post to post.

She knows the wilderness. She knows tracking. She can live off the land and, what's more, she likes it.

Give her a gun, a skinning knife and a little time and she'll take care of everything. She'll build you a house, clothe you, feed you and protect you.

And then she got lost. She has the knife, gun and time. So they stay alive. But where in the world are they? Where is a town? The mountainous wilderness is an endless series of hills and mountains, cliffs and valleys, all leading nowhere.

The fact that she gets kidnapped, is blindfolded, tossed in a wagon under a tarp, then is driven deep into the wilderness using twisting trails...and sometimes no trails, then, while escaping, gets chased over a cliff, down a river and through endless forests, capped off with a gully washer, lightning and thunder storm.

She is hopelessly lost. That's bad enough. But why'd she have to get kidnapped with a guy from the city who gets upset when he can't take a bath and put on clean clothes each morning?

I like my heroes to be tough guys, too.

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In The Unexpected Champion I tried to create a character in the hero, John McCall, who was a fish out of water. When he's lost with a bossy female in the wilderness, he's no help, in fact, he's slowing her down.

And then he gets into his own world. Now who doesn't know how to swim?

Penny can't read tracks on the streets of the wide-open boomtown of Virginia City.

But John can. He turns out to be really tough once he gets into his own world.

Now Penny's the one who has to let someone else take charge. It doesn't come to her naturally, but she's smart enough to know John had to lead 'cuz she has no idea where she's going.

And, when they finally came staggering out of the wilderness after a week, it turns out Penny's brother mistakenly thought John had kidnapped her.

That's a little mix-up that almost gets John hung and, due to the twisted logic of a fire-and-brimstone...sheriff's WIFE, Penny has to choose between letting them hang him, or marrying him.

It's not a decision she makes all that easily.

So mostly, I tried to make each character ignorant--and I used that to build respect and finally LOVE between them.

John just shuts up and lets Penny give orders in the wilderness.

Penny becomes (outwardly) the sweet submissive little wife in Virginia City.

And neither of them are that happy about the wedding.

John still has a job to do, which is take Penny's nephew Ronnie home to his grandparents in the east.

If he tries that, Penny's gonna have to kill him. Which is a quick and easy way to get a divorce, if you don't end up being hung.

And Penny claimed a homestead and has a cabin to build and a herd of cattle to manage. John says, if she wants to live with her husband, he's a Pinkerton agent from Philadelphia.

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And there's a mysterious killer on their trail who thinks they know too much about him to be allowed to live.

Except now, they're on his trail, too.

He's going to be sorry he didn't just let them go when they escaped him.

He's going to be sorry he kidnapped them to begin with.

Today I want to talk about YOUR current character. YOUR work in progress.

How do you make your characters come alive? Is it physical descriptions? Dialogue? Back story?

Tell me about your character. The one you're creating right now. And if you'd like to brainstorm ways to make them come to life, we'll talk about it.

Or if you're a  reader, then tell me about a character you're reading about right now. And tell me what brings a character to life for you.

The Unexpected Champion arrived...Bethany always sends me a copy hot off the presses and IT. IS HERE!!!

I'll be getting more copies in the next week or two.

Today, I'm giving away a signed copy of The Unexpected Champion.

Leave a comment to get your name in the drawing.

http://www.maryconnealy.com



92 comments:

  1. I'm a reader, not a writer, so I get to read about all your wonderful, interesting, amazing characters! I enjoy reading the posts here at Seekerville. They're always entertaining, as are the comments. What a great bunch of people! Keep up the great work, Mary!

    Throw my name in the hat for a copy of your book. I'd love to win a copy.

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    1. Hi Winni!!!! Thank you for the kind words. You're in the drawing!!!

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  2. I'm a reader too and love wonderful and crazy characters. I enjoy reading this blog and how the writers come up with some of there characters.

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    1. Hi Kim. I wish I was better at explaining it. It's complex, about describing them physically, telling their backstory, letting them display emotion so the reader feels it.
      And plunking them into a story that is altered by the individual character.
      Also, it's hard to explain because I probably don't know what I'm talking about.

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  3. Mary, what a plot, and what a great twist on "marriage of convenience." Nobody does a feisty heroine like you.
    Let's see...The sequel to my Oregon Trail novel, "Westward Hope," coming this September. In the sequel an Irishwoman, Oona Moriarty, travels to the Oregon Country to persuade her brother Michael, the hero in the first book, to come back to Ireland with her and wreak revenge on the English landlord. Mike isn't buying it, he's cast his lot with the New World. But Oona, nursing her hate and resentment, decides to go back alone. She doesn't plan on falling in love with Wagon master Pace Williams, a rootless drifter with a horrific childhood and sketchy past. Pace knows he's found his forever home with Oona, but he refuses to go to Ireland with her and she can't let go of the home she lost. When Pace's ancient enemies track him down after 19 years, Pace and Oona have to join forces to defeat them, and they redefine the meaning of "home." God to go, Monday morning "stuff," may be back later.
    Kathy Bailey

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    1. kaybee you know I'm a fan of this series. This just all sounds fantastic!

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    2. Hi Kaybee,
      Your upcoming book sounds great and I would like to get the first one. I can't find it on Amazon with the title or your name. Where can I find this book?

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    3. Janis, my pub date for the FIRST book is Sept. 30. The Pace and Oona one is the sequel, but it will be published because Pelican is already advertising this as a series. Send me an e-mail at ampie86@comcast.net and I will put you on my mailing list.

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    4. Yeah, Oona is feisty, which is why I used her as my example for this exercise. The first scene you see her in, she pushes Pace and her brother into a horse trough.

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    5. Mary, I wouldn't even BE a Villager if you hadn't taken off your contest judge's mask and reached out to me. "Westward Hope" is the same story you judged! So we've come full circle.

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    6. I am really looking forward to reading this series.

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  4. Mary, I'm exhausted after reading this post. And totally ready to read The Unexpected Champion. All those twists and turns... Wow.

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    1. Mindy I loved making BOTH of them have to rely on the other when the person with the right strengths was needed.
      It is so easy to make her strong in the wilderness but not quite as easy to make her dependent in a city.
      And of course Penny is strong where ever she is, so that needs to come through, too.
      'I'm letting you take charge, but I'm right here ready to do what needs to be done.'

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    2. Mindy, I know, Mary's plots exhaust me too> But they're fun to read.

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  5. Hi Mary. The Unexpected Champion sounds wonderful - but then all your books are wonderful. I have never thought of one of your characters as "boring." Thanks for a great post and best wishes for the success of The Unexpected Champion.

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    1. Aw, thanks, Cindy. I am always trying to write the most entertaining books I can. Everything else is secondary to grabbing the reader and taking them on an adventure.

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  6. I have really enjoyed the other two - look forward to seeing how this turns out!

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    1. It's coming, Amanda!!! And thank you for reading my books.

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  7. I just finished reading a book with a character that was being hunted by a dirty cop and instead of hiding out, she decided to confront him in a public manner and bring him down! That certainly showed a lot of courage! She said she didn't want to be hiding all of her life! Even if she lost her life, she wanted to know she at least tried to do the right thing!

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    1. Oh, plus enter me in the drawing please :)

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    2. Ahhh I love a tough, courageous woman! Good for her. You're in the drawing Valri.

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  8. Mary, Congrats on your upcoming release! I'm currently reading Coldwater by Samuel Parker. Michael is the hero with some unique abilities. He is dark and mysterious character.

    Please toss my name in the Stetson. Thanks!

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    1. Hi Caryl. I just went and checked out Coldwater. It sounds like a great book. I'll give it a try.

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  9. I love that you tried to make each character ignorant and used that to build respect and love. So backward from my normal way of creating the hero/heroine.

    Love all your covers. Bethany always does such a good job!

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    1. These covers are some of my very favorites ever, Connie!
      HEY! Connie lives near me now!

      Well, an hour, but in Nebraska that's practically next door.
      Hang on. Winter is almost over. Not counting February, which can be a bear. And March can be kinda cruel.

      Still...we beat down January and that's always the big fight.

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    2. Yes, we're neighbors!

      The cold weather really makes me look forward to summer here.


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    3. Connie, it was nice meeting you at the party at Lorna's in January. I hope you are surviving your Nebraska winter.

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  10. I just finished reading "Cowboy Christmas". I loved Annette and Elijah. Their characters leaped off the page. They were well rounded, 3 dimensional, NOT perfect and I wish I could meet them in real life. I love characters like that. They have flaws and struggles but face life head on. Mostly. LOL

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    1. WinterRose, what a pretty name you chose! Good for you.
      Yes, flawed characters are so fun.
      I was inspired to write Annette's character after listening to a speech by Angela Hunt. She talked about listening to and obeying spiritual leaders.
      And I got to thinking, "But what if your spiritual leaders were wrong? What if they led you astray?"

      And here comes Annette, raised all her life to respect and obey her spiritual leaders. And then she falls into the hands of people who want to use her talent for beautiful singing to make money for themselves, not to minister to the lost as Annette believes.

      And then there's trouble.
      Coincidentally, along comes a Cowboy...at Christmas.

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  11. I'm a reader and thoroughly enjoy all your books. I also love a strong, tough and fiesty heroine. I'm looking forward to the release of The Unexpected Champion. I recently finished your book, Loving the Mysterious Texan, which I read in one sitting. Awesome book!!!

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    1. Janis, you read one of my Garrison's Law books??? Thank you. That was such a fun book to write. A GOTHIC romance.
      Thank you for reading my books.

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  12. Thanks for the introduction to your new book, Mary! I can't wait to read it!

    I'm working on a character for my WIP that keeps me awake at night - and I think that's a good sign. If I can't stop thinking about him, my readers won't be able to stop thinking about him, either. A Confederate prisoner of war who meets an Amish man in the hospital and ends up finding a home.

    I can't wait to get done with the plotting and character development and see what he's going to think when he meets the heroine!

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    1. Jan! What a great premise!!! The warrior meets a man of peace.

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  13. I've been eagerly awaiting this third book to read Penny's story. When is the actual release date? My WIP kept pulling me out of bed last night. A past action has brought nothing but grief and shame and when his former best friend reappears in his life he has some major explaining to do. I didnt know what that past action was but it has to be something big enough that would cause him to leave without a trace. His best friend was/is a girl who at the time was getting medical tests done and received type 1 diabetic diagnosis. But its not her illness that sent him away. Any thoughts are welcome! Lee-Ann

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    1. Hi Lee-Ann, this happens to me. I get an idea in the night and I HAVE to go write it down. I can't remember it otherwise.
      I used to keep a whiteboard and marker by my bed but it never seemed to happen once I was ready for it!!!

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    2. Something big that would drive him away from home.
      He is told by a bully that he's going to be framed for a crime the bully committed.
      He leaves somehow to save or protect the girl. As in, "If you don't leave the girl will die or be shamed or ruined somehow."

      A crime he committed as a youth that his influential parents very quietly got set aside if he'd join the army. But why wouldn't people know he did this? Maybe he's ashamed of himself.


      His sister is pregnant out of wedlock and his parents are banning her, cutting her out of their lives. He goes with her to take care of her and is thus cut off from them, too.

      His sister doesn't want the world to know about the baby because the baby-daddy is bad news. She plans on adoption.

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    3. Then she can't give the baby up and he has to stay away in secret with her.

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    4. Then she and the baby die in a wreck and he can come home but he is devastated by the loss and furious with his parents.

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    5. Um..wow. these are all great ideas. Thanks for the inspiration!

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    6. I'm leaning towards the first idea but it's her parents...her dad is a senator and has political aspirations for himself/ his daughter that doesnt include him. Or something like that.

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  14. I am a reader and love to get to know about writers and I love Mary's books I love strong independent women. Thanks for the chance


    Tighefan42atgmail dotcom

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    1. Hi Tammy! I love strong, independent women, too. I think they are so fun to write.
      I've got four daughters and I hope I've raised all of them to be strong and independent.

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  15. Another great story, Mary! Congrats! Love the conflict...and a marriage of convenience...or maybe necessity! Can't wait to read this one!

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    1. I'd call it a forced marriage. :) Yet another way to stick a couple together until they have the sense to fall in love.

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  16. Sounds like a good story, Mary. I need to give the info to my church library as they already have the first two books in the series. It is on my list to read!

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  17. As a reader i love characters that know when to be strong and capable and when to allow the hero to be the strong one. Mary your books always make that work.

    By the way, after reading your Facebook post this morning, my farmer says, "I don't know about her books but her posts are always a good read."

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    1. There you go, CJ. I'm good with three sentences. I MUST be good with 80 thousand words, right?????

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  18. I love the interesting give and take between your characters and watching them grow through their challenges! Definitely not boring ;)

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    1. Well, give and take and growth...that's a really nice way to put it, Heidi. I usually just think they are sassy. But your way sounds more IMPORTANT!!!

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  19. John McCall on that cover is....whew! Fanning myself!

    I love a good fish out of water story, even better if the characters swap roles halfway through so each can see the value of the other's skills. :)

    Brilliantly done, Mary!

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    1. Let's all read it first before making any declarations, Erica.
      OR NOT!

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    2. I've read enough Mary Connealy books to know this one's going to be fantastic, too. :)

      No Doubt About It!

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  20. Mary, you crack me up! I love to see how your brain works to come up with your stories. Here's my favorite line of the whole post:
    "It's not a decision she makes all that easily."

    LOL! I love your stories!

    My current story is a reunion story, so they already know each other. And they have a painful past. That can be fun to work with, too! :)

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  21. When it is too late and they are surely married, along comes her brother, who accused John of the kidnapping and started this whole mess. And his first act it to punch John in the mouth.
    Then there is John, pretty battered from his week in the woods. His head spinning from being married to a wild woman. Lying in the dirt and he says, "I'm just going to stay down here for a while. I need the rest."

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  22. I'm reading The Reluctant Warrior now (in between editing jobs) and can't wait for Penny's story!!!

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    1. Penny makes her entrance at the very end of the Accidental Guardian and then she's a secondary character in The Reluctant Warrior. Now it's her turn in The Unexpected Champion.

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  23. Loved the first two books in this series and can't wait to read this story! I love old west stories and anything with suspense.

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    1. ONE MONTH, Susanne. Lots of suspense in this. Lots of action and trouble and laughs.

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  24. BTW, Mary, I cackled out loud at the picture of you and the bull--and your comment. :)

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    1. The buffalo replaces my former picture with a longhorn. These are all STUFFED, you understand that, right? Missy? You should stay well away from buffalo and longhorns.
      Except for that one time I got my picture taken SITTING on a longhorn. That's a separate issue.

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  25. We have your books in the church library.
    We also have this series but only book # 2 and would love to win book # 3.
    Thanks for entering me in your giveaway.
    Janet E.
    von1janet(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. Hi Library Lady. Thanks for including my books in your library. You're in the drawing!

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  26. Congratulations on your upcoming release. I’m currently reading Tell Her No Lies by Kelly Irvin.

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  27. Yay! Thanks for entering me in the giveaway. I read the first book but didn’t get the opportunity to read the second one.

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    1. Hunt it down if you want the whole experience, MJSH

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  28. I love a fish-out-of-water story--it shows you the true character of the person as they navigate something entirely unknown to them. I'm definitely looking forward to your book!

    I also enjoy a bit of dichotomy in a character--for instance, the girl who dreams of adventure and obsesses over heroes like Robin Hood and Zorro and the Scarlet Pimpernel, but is terrified of heights and bugs and anything one might actually encounter on an adventure. We all have some characteristics and/or habits that contradict each other, and it really brings a character to life for me when I see that.

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    1. Rachael, I like the way you put that. The love of adventure and the fear of heights and bugs. :) Dichotomy. Excellent way to put it.

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  29. Sounds like a really good book.

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    1. Hi Patricia. I had a lot of fun writing it. I hope people will have as much fun reading it.

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  30. I'm a reader too. I am re-reading all of the Agatha Christie books. Miss Jane Marple is such a wonder.

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    1. Mary, I haven't read Agatha Christie for so long. I need to do that. I loved Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot.

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  31. I loved the great review you got for this story in Publisher's Weekly. So awesome, Connealy!!!! And this is such a good point, that when we're in our own "normal", we can rock the moment... but when we're out of our comfort zone, it's a whole other kettle of fish.

    I can't wait to read this one, Mary!!!!! CONGRATULATIONS!!!!

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  32. Can't wait to read this one too. I like your approach to character development.
    Cindy Huff

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    1. Cindy, thanks. Sometimes we do what we do...but have a hard time explaining it. I hope I said some things that made sense.

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  33. People are shocked when I tell them I cannot swim. They do not understand how I can grow up around water and not swim. I would like to think I would survive in the wild but I know my capabilities. I would enjoy reading this series.

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    1. Hi Sonnetta. I'm afraid if it was me out there....things would be ugly fast. I am NOT tough. Maybe I'd come through. But if I did, I'd surprise everyone...…..most especially myself.

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  34. Shocking!

    "A Woman Wearing Pants in 1868!"


    She could have been arrested for cross-dressing… even in 1920! And such a perfect designer fit, too!

    Given a second look, those pants do kind of look a lot like the Gap Mid Rise Real Straight Jeans. Perfect fit! But then again I do think you mentioned she makes her own clothes. Boy could she give Coco a run for her money (Editor's disclosure…Coco was not born until 13 years later)! And what about him! Any Post Bellum river boat gambler would be proud of those duds!

    Now That's A Cover that Got my Total Attention!

    I must say, Penny Scott, may be your most capable heroine since, Sophie Edwards, in the "Petticoat Ranch". A must read! But not until I finish "Loving the Mysterious Texan: A Texas Lawman Romantic Suspense: Garrison's Law Book 5". I'll say this: You can really, really, write a Gothic! You give suspense a new meaning! At my age I have to put it down every so often to relieve the tension. But for sure, "The Unexpected Champion" will be the next book I read. (If my heart survives that Gothic suspense!)

    Vince

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    1. Vince! You're reading my gothic? And you like it! YAY! Thank you for telling me.
      And pants on my heroine...it's really subversive, huh? :)

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    2. Subversive?

      Truth be told, what's subversive is having both models give the 'thumbs up' sign to indicate to the illuminati that they are aware of the anachronism.

      And yes, your Gothic has got it!

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  35. To me, as a reader, a character comes to life with their quirks, dialogue and ways of thinking. This book sounds so intriguing and definitely strikes a nerve off the bat (An ultimatum of marriage or death? Wow! I'd be mad!). But I would love to read it and see how the drama leads to an HEA. Thanks for the giveaway!

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  36. I love how your sense of humor comes through in your books.

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  37. I am a reader. I think characters come to life when I can relate to them, with moments of weakness, a sense of humor, something along those lines. Currently a character I am reading about is struggling to find their place in the world, and haven't we all been there, done that?

    Oh if I win I'd love to gift this to my grandmother. She loved the others and would be delighted to get the third. She is in her eighties, and she only likes to read physical copies of books. Of course I will love borrowing it from her after she is done reading it. Thank you for the chance!

    LLWaltz [at] gmail [dot] com

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  38. Hi Mary, I am a reader and I am currently reading Between Two Shores by Jocelyn Green. Catherine Duval is part Mohawk and part French and she finds herself torn between her two cultures during the French and Indian War.

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  39. Oh, wow!!!! I love what I've learned here. Can't wait to read it!

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  40. Wow! Sound like something I would love to read sin one setting. Have a blessed day.

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