Posted in character interview, my books, Thoughts, writing inspiration

Memorable and Favorite Characters

What makes a character memorable? What makes them a favorite? Or what makes them a character you love to hate?

As a reader there are several authors who have created memorable characters for me. One character who is also part of an unforgettable couple, is Police Detective Eve Dallas of Nora Robert’s J.D. Robb “In Death” series. She and her husband Roark are very different, yet they are the perfect balance. My hope is to one day create characters as awesome as these. What I like about Eve is the fact she is not perfect. Her backstory is tragic, but she is not a victim. Roark isn’t a typical hero. He walks a fine line between the criminal world and legitimate business. Who they are and their pasts often cause conflicts to their relationship, but it is also part of their strength.

Sabrina Jeffries’ Hellions of Halstead Hall series is filled with memorable characters from the grandmother matriarch to the various siblings. While the siblings are nobility, grandmother is not but she’s the lady with the cash and control. Oliver, Lord Stoneville, is known for being cold but as the oldest he’s tried to stay in control of his emotions and his siblings. One of the things I love about Jeffries’ is the way she brings former main characters back to people her stories and add a little familiarity to a new story.

Stephanie Plumb, Janet Evanovich’s accident-prone bounty hunter/bond enforcement agent and Laurel K. Hamilton’s vampire hunter/executioner, Anita Blake are very different yet both memorable characters. They are both action-heroines with tangled love lives. Both authors use humor to diffuse difficult situations and bring light to current topics. While Stephanie never seems to get any better at her job, she eventually accidently succeeds. Anita Blake often fails, at least at first but she is a powerful necromancer and with each story she gains power and strength even as she battles personal problems and emotional struggles.

Will Thomas’ Barker and Llewelyn series is similar in many ways to Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, and for me, the characters are just as memorable. Barker is a huge Scotsman raised in China with strong religious beliefs, very different from the opium smoking Holmes, yet their detective skills are similar. Barker has ties to the criminal underworld, the Asian community of London, and the has built a reputation as an inquiry agent. He is big, smart, athletic, and wealthy. His partner, Llewelyn is a petite Welshman whose collegiate career ended when he went to prison. He comes to Barker’s agency when he has no other choice. The combination of these two very different characters is what makes them work together so well, and so memorable.

So, what makes a character memorable? What makes a character someone you want to read about over and over again? What characters do you love or love to hate?

In my own writing, I like to create characters that feel real. I want to have them reacting to situations in a believable manner and feel like people you know. Does that make them memorable or lovable? For me, as a writer, there are certain characters I’ve enjoyed writing more than others. Some I want to explore more because I feel there is more to their story. Two of my favorite characters to write in my new series are the grandmothers. One, Grandma Doris/Dodie is a pot smoking former hooker who has been married or shacked up with numerous men. She borders between “cool” grandma and “bad” grandma. The other grandmother, Grandmother Louise was married to one man. She is a Bible thumper, opinionated woman who is always more worried about what other people think than about her family. I think a friendship and rivalry between these two very different women will be fun to write and add to the family dynamics of the Harrell Family Chronicles.

Some of my other favorites include the strong female characters of my first three stories:

Rae Lynn Grimes, Dana Windley and Jenna McKenzie Roberts. These women, their friendship and their battles felt so real to me. As I was writing these characters I felt as if I could reach out and touch them. I hope as readers discover them, they too will come to think of them as friends.

I’d love to hear about some of your favorite characters or what you are looking for in a character.

What are you reading?

Posted in audio books, Book Review

Memory Man

Memory Man by David Baldacci, Narrated by Ron McLarty, Orlagh Cassidy

David Baldacci knows how to get a reader’s attention. He is a storyteller who blends detail with action, keeping the story moving while pulling the reader deeper into the plot.

Amos Decker, the memory man, was just a normal college football player with a chance at the big times when his life changed forever for the first time. His brief professional career is cut short when he suffers a head injury that leaves him unable to forget.

The second time his life changes, he comes home to find his brother-in-law, wife and young daughter murdered. As a police officer, he knows it has to be his fault but when there are no leads, his focus on the job suffers.

Amos falls down to the lowest rung of society sleeping in a cardboard box before he pulls himself together and becomes a private detective. He hasn’t pulled himself very far up the ladder but at least he is sleeping in a bed and eating regularly. He is holding onto this sanity by his fingernails. What would you do if you could never forget? If your worst memory was as fresh months later as it was minutes after it happened. How would you heal?

What would you do if someone walked in off the street and confessed to murdering your family?

More questions follow Amos as more bodies stack up and he’s the key to it all.

This was one of the best suspense thrillers I’ve read. It kept me guessing. Sven as I figured out one clue there were still more to discover.

Posted in Creekside Cafe

Creekside Café Chat with author Tiffany Christina Lewis

Welcome Tiffany Christina Lewis to Creekside Café. It is great to have you here.

Tiffany: Thanks for having me Sherri!

Sherri: Your recent blog post titled “Scary Genre: Romance” made me laugh. At first, I wanted to call you on it but then as I read on, I realized we have the same problem, the interpretation of romance. I thought I was a romance writer but then realized this shit isn’t romance. I like to blow things up and kill people, oh they can stop and have sex, but it’s not all hearts and flowers. Sometimes it’s just banging up against the wall and maybe I’ll call you later. What is your interpretation of romance? How do you think the romance genre varies now from what it used to be?

Tiffany: Oh boy. What it used to be was ladies in flowing dresses and making love in flower fields! Every cover was a beautiful woman and a hunky man in a scenic location. The stories were of taming men for marriage or women head over heels. Now, we have interracial, multiple sexual preferences, genre splicing and settings that don’t just resemble lovely flower fields. I interpret romance as fake love. I know a lot of romance authors will want to fight when I say that, but I’m really referring more to TV and movies. I am just starting to really read Romance for education purposes. Educating myself on writing and genres is very important at this stage in my career. A dear friend of mine, Zachary Sigurdson, was the first one to tell me how important it was to get out of my genre, so I am slowly learning about new romance. In TV and film, romance happens when someone picks up your napkin. Unfortunately, I’ve never experienced anything like that, so it’s hard for me to rationalize it.

Sherri: As a hopeless romantic, I differ with what I think romance is. To me, romance isn’t just heart and flowers, it’s giving the person what they need to be their best. When I read romance, I see new authors trying to interpret this in today’s landscape as well as the modern historical romance authors.

I’ve also been married to my own romantic hero for going on 29 years. While some days I want to beat him with a pool noodle, most days he’s my biggest champion. He encourages me to do what makes me happy. He was as excited about my first book as I was. He is my teammate, my partner, my friend and lover, to me, that is romance.

Tiffany: I agree with you on your assessment of romance. Real romance is giving your partner what they need to be their best! We’re still early in our relationship but my boyfriend is also my business partner and his willingness to support my business aspirations and even participate in them, has been life changing.

Sherri: You refer to yourself as a rebel. I agree. I think most of us writing Indie are rebelling against the traditional publishers. What is your rebellion?

Tiffany: My rebellion is actually cultural. When I wrote Inside Out in 2014, there was a huge wave of Urban Fiction in self and Indie publishing that featured negative stereotypes and bad characters. I wanted to flip that on its head. I wanted to be an African American author who wrote Black characters who were not drug dealers, womanizers, promiscuous or murderers. I have always had a love for detective stories so my books were bound to be Crime Fiction and I thought what better way to represent an upstanding African American male than in the role of a detective. Over time, I made my characters LITERALLY rebellious and their passion for avenging victims comes first, over following rules and procedures.

Sherri: We need more positive role models of color. I’m glad to see you breaking the stereo type. If you are looking for great authors who write African American characters who are honorable and strong, check out Reese Ryan, Farrah Rochon, and Beverly Jenkins.

Tell us a little about your series. I recently purchased your first book Inside Out. Michael Taylor sounds like an interesting character. What made you write a crime novel from a male, police detective’s point of view?

Tiffany: Again, part of me wanted to pick a man to mangle stereotypes that were abundant back in those days. He was also the first character to come to me for a full-length work. My stories often just fall out of my imagination and into my lap. I had many stories published back then with many female and male characters, non-detective, but he was the first one who I felt I could write as a novella. I was able to grow that book into two full novels in the series, and the plan is for at least three more.

Sherri: You say you don’t write romance and yet we have a love interest or romantic connection here with Candy aka Vanessa. Tell us a little about their relationship. Why is it not a romance?

Tiffany: Their relationship is entirely romantic but it fits what I think romance is, compared to what I thought romance was offering back then. They met at a strip club which is something urbanites sometimes do, and Michael’s behavior with her, although romantic has an interesting twist that I think is not very abundant in romance. I will also say, without giving too many spoilers, that hint of romance is why it took me four years to write the second book in the series…

Sherri: I think we often get hung up on labels and when it comes time to define ourselves or our writing, we haven’t got just one box to put it in. While your books are definitely crime thrillers, how else would you describe them; what other box or category would you classify them?

Tiffany: Crime is definitely the overarching category for all my books, but the Michael Taylor series is police procedural and these novels have a strong focus on criminals. I love the psychology of criminals so they get a lot of shine in my books. I don’t think there is necessarily a category for that in fiction. In non-fiction it is categorized as True Crime when the movements of a criminal and detective are outlined.

Sherri: You published Inside Out in 2014, you have two other novels in this series out now. What do you think you have learned since writing and publishing your first book? What do you wish you’d done differently? What will you do different with any future books?

Tiffany: The number one thing I would have done differently would have been to keep writing and not wait this long to release a sequel and get serious about my career as a writer. I did a lot of things between 2014 and now that was not writing, marketing or honing my skills as an author. Let my mother tell it, there are two things I was born to do, teach and write. I have been a preschool teacher for over 15 years and this has placed me in many high-ranking positions in the childcare industry, but I haven’t dedicated nearly as much time to my writing career and that was a mistake. I would have sold more and had a nice fan base by now, had I stuck with it, but still, no regrets. Had I released Stitches before 2019, it wouldn’t have been the same.

In the future, I will do what I’m doing now which is finishing my books, making sure they are high quality and release them frequently. I believe the number one marketing tip for authors is to have another book coming out. Lol. So, that’s my plan.

Sherri: Tell us a little about your new company, Rebellion Lit. Are you publishing other authors now?

Tiffany: Rebellion Lit is the brain child of my partner Brandon Lambert. He is the one who taught me that I was a rebel. He has allowed me to run Rebellion with lots of freedom! We each have our area of expertise and Rebellion Lit is my baby. I am very passionate about the company and can’t wait to introduce it to more readers and writers!

Currently we are not publishing other authors, but I have a hand full of people that I am keeping my eyes on. Some self-published authors I’ve met I would love to publish but I have to get the company on a proper trajectory first. There is nothing worse than getting a contract with a publisher who can’t get your book where you want it, so we are starting with yearly Anthologies. They will be themed and we’ll be looking for author submissions in December! We are BUYING works for the book because I believe authors should be paid for their hard work and with our anthologies we can continue developing proper marketing, as well as offering many, many authors exposure for their talent! It’ll be a blast!

Sherri: Tiffany, thank you for being a part of Creekside Café Chats, I look forward to seeing what happens next with your writing and publishing. If you all enjoyed this interview, check out Tiffany’s links and follow her on social media. You can buy her books through her website or on Amazon.

Here are Tiffany’s links: – Amazon Author Page – Blog – Twitter – Goodreads

 my publishing company website. lol.