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 News, Thoughts

What’s Happening with the RWA

What’s happening with the Romance Writers of America?

I’ve had several people ask me “What’s going on with RWA?”

How do I even begin to explain? While the big pimple on the face of the organization might have imploded with the wrongful suspension and false allegations against Courtney Milan, the blemishes we’ve been covering up go much deeper and have been going on for much longer. Unfortunately, many of us, myself included where blind to these facts, or at least willingly oblivious.

Like the political climate, things have been festering for a while. When the new president of the United States was announced one of my dear friends and mentor from high school, Ms. Glenoria Jennette came to me and told me of a nightmare she’d had. In her dream, she feared the US would revert to slavery. I denied this possibility, but she told me she knew she’d be okay because her friends, like me, would protect her. I thought, Oh Lord, she’s giving me her power. She can’t give me her power, I’m not worthy, I’m not strong enough… Oh crap what if I really do have to protect her? But that wasn’t what she was doing. She wasn’t giving away her rights or her ability to make her own choices, what she wanted was to know was that I had her back. To quote the late Martin Luther King, jr. “There comes a time when silence is betrayal.” In the present political climate I have ducked my head and kept my own council because no matter what I believe it’s wrong according to someone but when a friend is depending on you to do what is right, you have to make a stand, even if it’s unpopular.

“In the end we will remember not the words of our enemies but the silence of our friends,” MLK. As a white, heterosexual, able bodied woman I do not feel capable of making decisions for people of color or any other marginalized individual. Before I can make a decision affecting someone else, I should first have an honest conversation with them to discover what it is they need from me, from the group, etc. Making assumptions about others’ needs, taking away their power is no different than saying they are incapable of making these decisions for themselves, but I know it is past time for the rest of us to stand up and add our voices to this problem. “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter,” MLK. I pray it is not too late for RWA or for our country to find a place of understanding and peace.

It is difficult to look at myself as one of the entitled white women, and I don’t say that with any malicious intent or to undermine the racial inequalities that have come to light during this whole debacle. No, I say it to embrace the facts. I did not realize I was entitled, and I think that is where my crime lies. I was oblivious. Like many who belong to RWA or other groups and organizations, we do not necessarily see the problem because it doesn’t affect us. Sometimes we see slights but write them off as this one’s personality, or that one is older, and she doesn’t really mean to be inconsiderate. For some reason people who have reached a certain age think they can say anything they want and get by with it. We also tend to “mind our own business” and not involve ourselves in someone else’s fight.

With so many of our fellow authors leaving RWA in protest of Courtney’s mistreatment, the battle has fallen to us, the “white women” to finally stand up and say, this is our battle too. For if we are truly a “Professional Group” for ALL romance authors then we need to behave as such. Regardless of race, religion or sexual preference, all men and women shall be treated equally and with respect. (I started writing this before reading JR Ward’s and Nora Roberts’ responses to the situation but found both had said much of what I wanted to say and more eloquently. Check out their essays. Also check out Alyssa Cole’s op-ed about Harry and Meghan’s announcement and how it parallels with what is happening in RWA.)

I believe it is the lack of respect that I find the most difficult to understand. My parents taught me to always treat people, no matter their station in life, with dignity and kindness. Good manners cost nothing and when we belong to a large group like the Romance Writers of America it is important to be kind. That doesn’t mean we can’t be ourselves, that we can’t speak out, it means we treat others the way we want to be treated, and we expect our neighbors regardless of race, religion, physical ability or sexual preference to be given the same opportunities, respect and welcome.

For now, I will remain with the RWA in the hope that my voice will make a difference and that one day soon those who felt the need to leave will be welcomed home with the love and honor they deserve. I believe in happy endings.  

Posted in Book Review

Shelter in Place

By Nora Roberts

This was a hard book to start. Nora Roberts writes her characters so well that I felt as if I were the fifteen-year-old girl hiding in the bathroom while her friends were shot down in the mall theater. Simone Knox kept her head and dialed 9-1-1, her early response saved lives.

Reed Quartermain was home from college working at the mall and hoping to get a date with the girl at the sunglasses kiosk when all hell breaks loose. Two guys come into the mall and start shooting people. He rescues a kid and hides out in the same kiosk with the girl’s blood pooling at his feet.

A young female police officer is one of the first responders. She takes down JJ Hobart in the theatre. Her quick response and caring changes lives. It makes a huge impact on the college kid, Reed, who because of that night, because of Essie, he decides to join the police force.

Simone doesn’t know how to live. She just wants to forget. Mi-Hi Jung wants her life to mean something, both mourn the loss of their friend, Tish. It is her one constant, her grandmother CiCi, who sees what she really needs and helps her to find it once she is ready to start living her own life.

Cici, a renowned artist, gives Simone the tools to find her own path. Even as she battles her parents and sister, their relationship strained at best, Simone begins to find herself.

As one thing leads to another, Reed makes detective and becomes partnered with his mentor and friend. He is constantly seeking information about that night. He’s always felt there was something missing.

Things heat up when he realizes the three boys were not the masterminds behind the mall shooting, and someone is finishing off the survivors from that night.

Roberts ratchets up the tension as more people start dying and Reed tries to build his case. When he becomes a target, he knows those he cares about could be hurt as well.

As the newly hired chief of police of Tranquility Island, he hopes to stand his ground. When lives are on the line, a simple mistake could be a costly one.

Will they catch a psychopath before other innocents die or will Reed be too late?

A fantastic story that kept me on the edge of my seat.

Posted in Creekside Cafe, interview

Enjoying the Breeze with Maida Malby

It is so nice to have author Maida Malby here at Creekside Café. Welcome Maida, have you ever been to North Carolina before?

Maida: Yes, I have. The first time I came to the US was in 1994 as a participant in the YMCA International Camp Counselors Program. I was assigned to the Sandy Ridge Girl Scout Camp in Bennettsville, SC for two months. I remember going to Rockingham and Wadesboro.

Sherri: The first time you came to the US? Where are you from?

Maida: I’m originally from the Philippines, now living in San Angelo, Texas.

Sherri: I lived in San Marcos, Texas many years ago. I loved it out there. I visited Laredo and El Paso, and my parents lived in Houston. How did you end up in Texas?

Maida: My husband is a retired US Air Force veteran. He got a job at the Randolph Air Force Base as a civilian contractor that’s why we moved there from Colorado Springs.

Sherri: How has your previous jobs or career influenced your writing?

Maida: My most recent job before I became a writer was as a Public Affairs Specialist at the US Embassy in Bangkok, Thailand. I’m using my experiences there as inspiration for my main characters’ backgrounds. For example, in Singapore Fling, Maddie is a Public Relations Director.

Sherri: That must have been an interesting job, but I can imagine the headaches.

One of my daughters-in-law was born in Thailand, her parents were refugees from Cambodia. I’ve never been to Asia. It’s on my bucket list.

Give us a little insight into you as a person and as a writer.

Maida: I’m easy-going and I make friends easily. I’m a slow writer. I can only write two books a year, one novel and one short story or novella. This is why I self-publish.

Sherri: Tell us about your books.

Maida: Contemporary romance. Multicultural/interracial. International lovers.

Sherri: Your characters are multi-racial and multicultural, why is that important to you?

Maida: I find that couples like my husband and I (American and Filipina) are not well-represented in romance. Since only a handful of authors are writing Filipinas and other Southeast Asians as female main characters, I decided I needed to be one of the few writers who tell our story and share it with the world.

Sherri: I think that’s wonderful. We need more diversity in romance. Do you write full time now?

Maida: Yes, I write full time.

Sherri: How long have you been writing?

Maida: I started writing in November 2016, so nearly three years now.

Sherri: Do you plan to write any other genre in the future?

Maida: I write short stories in other romance sub-genres using a pen name.

Sherri: What is your latest writing/publishing project?

Maida: I just finished Singapore Fling, Book 2 of my first series Carpe Diem Chronicles. It’s publishing on October 21. I also have a Hansel & Gretel retelling novelette publishing on Halloween. I’ll be writing Samui Heat during NaNoWriMo this year. I plan to publish it in April 2020.

Sherri: Ah, look for me in NaNo, my handle is Pamlico Writer. This is only my second NaNo event. I won the first one but I’m not sure about this year, November is such a busy month for me. I’ll be working on Red Steel, the fifth book in my Leeward Files series.

I love writing. I cannot imagine not writing. What do you love about writing?

Maida: The creativity. There’s something about the words adding up into a cohesive story that is super fulfilling.

Sherri: Like most jobs, there is the good and the bad, what do you despise about being a writer?

Maida: Marketing!  Having to convince people to read the product of my blood, sweat, and tears is incredibly stressful.

Sherri: I suspected that answer. Marketing is one of the most difficult things we have to do. We have to figure out what works and then take time away from writing our books to promote and market them. That’s one of the reasons I started doing the author interviews. Is that why you started doing book reviews?

Maida: I was a reader first before I became a writer. Reviewing books, especially romance, helps me improve my writing skills. I learn so much of what appeals and what doesn’t, of what is missing in my work and what’s already there I can continue to build on.

Sherri: I’m a bit of a foodie. I collect recipes and my favorite channel is the Food Network. Do you have a favorite food or recipe?

Maida: Food is a huge part of my books. My current favorite is Hainanese Chicken Rice. It’s Maddie’s favorite dish in Singapore Fling.

Chicken rice is Maddie’s favorite dish in Singapore. Here’s what she has to say about it in Chapter Two:

From the first time she’d tasted this particular meal—one of the country’s national dishes—Maddie was addicted. The plain steamed chicken over rice looked simple. But the gingery, garlicky, oily, fragrant goodness of the white chicken meat—even without the skin she had removed from it—and the savory rice boiled in the same broth won her over. She had already eaten the dish five times since she’d arrived in Singapore.

This recipe is my attempt to capture that deliciousness. It might not be the most authentic–different ingredients, the taste of the water, etc.–but if you make it with love, the meal is sure to satisfy.


– medium whole chicken (organic, if possible)

– Kosher salt

– 1 thumb ginger, peeled and sliced

– 3-4 stalks green onions, sliced

– 2 cups uncooked Jasmine rice

– several cloves of garlic

– vegetable oil

– Sriracha

– lime

– soy sauce

– sesame oil


For the chicken:

1. Exfoliate the chicken by rubbing salt all over until smooth. Rinse and pat dry.

2. Season the entire bird inside and out with salt. This will also season the broth, so salt generously. Stuff the cavity with sliced ginger and scallions.

3. Place in a big pot and fill with water up to 1 inch above the chicken. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer immediately. Remove the scum as soon as it rises. Simmer for 20-25 minutes until the temperature at the thickest part of the thigh not touching bone is 170 degrees Fahrenheit.

4. Prepare an ice bath and place the chicken in to stop the cooking process and tighten the skin. Set aside.

For the rice:

1. Clean the rice until the water is less cloudy (2-3 times). Soak the rice, then drain after 10 minutes.

2. Sauté minced ginger and garlic in vegetable oil or chicken fat. Add drained rice and fry for one minute. Season with salt. Pour two cups of reserved broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover tightly, and cook for 15 minutes. Remove from heat. Keep covered and let rest for 5-10 minutes.

If you have a rice cooker, follow instructions p to he frying.

For the dipping sauces:

1. Combine Sriracha, lime juice, sugar, salt, couple of tablespoons of broth, garlic, and ginger in a blender. Give it a whirl.

2. Grate peeled ginger and finely mince garlic. Combine with a dash of salt and vinegar. Cook in hot oil for a few seconds.

3. Mix light soy sauce and a dash of sesame oil.

Ready to serve!

Spoon rice on a plate. Cut chicken into serving pieces and place on top of the rice. Pour soy sauce mix over it. Garnish with cucumber or parsley. Serve with soup and dipping sauces.

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Sherri: Do you have any other hobbies or interests?

Maida: Golf and cooking and baking.

Sherri: Do these show up in your writing?

Maida: Very much so. Samui Heat will have a chef hero- Craig Ryan. My short story 19th Hole Fiesta, part of the San Antonio Romance Authors’ anthology Love Fiesta Style, is a golf romance. I’m planning a spin-off series and one of my main characters is Patrick O’Connor, a professional golfer. He appeared in New York Engagement, 19th Hole Fiesta, and Singapore Fling.

Sherri: What do you feel are your greatest writing strengths and your weaknesses?

Maida: I claim that I have a great sense of place. There’s balance in my books in terms of humor and drama. As for weaknesses, I need to improve on utilizing the senses of smell and taste. I’m pretty good with sight, sound, and feel. The other two need to be amplified.

Sherri: Who are your favorite authors/genres?

Maida: Nora Roberts/J.D. Robb is my idol. For non-romance, I like Paulo Coelho.

Sherri: Oh no, our time has run out already. It has been lovely to have you here at Creekside Café Maida. I wish you luck with your new novel, Singapore Fling.

If you enjoyed my chat with Maida Malby be sure to follow her on social media and check out her books, the links are below.

I hope y’all will come back and join me at my Creekside Café.

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One alluring French-Filipina beauty. One sexy US Air Force officer. One torrid weekend affair.

Maddie Duvall should be living it up at her challenging new job in glamorous Singapore. But two months after her wild weekend with Aidan Ryan, she’s still yearning for him. She craves the passion only he can ignite in her.

Aidan’s job takes him around the world, yet he can’t get Maddie out of his mind. When he returns to his assignment in Singapore, he seeks her out with a proposition she can’t turn down.

Intensely enamored with one another, their relationship takes off. But when Aidan’s mission exposes treachery by someone close to Maddie, lines blur and wires get crossed. Can their growing love survive the intrigue?

Singapore Fling is Book 2 of Carpe Diem Chronicles, a series of multicultural contemporary romance novels. The stories celebrate the rich cultures of exotic Southeast Asian islands through languages, food, and festivals.


#multicultural #contemporary #romance #contemporaryromance #militaryromance #interracialromance #internationallovers #filipinoamerican #multiracial #diverse #multilingual #writerofcolorinromance #ownvoice #alpha #fling #carpediem

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Maida Malby writes, reads, reviews, and lives Romance. Through her multicultural contemporary romance stories, she takes readers on trips to her favorite places in the world and shares her experiences of their rich cultural heritage.

She is a member of the Romance Writers of America (RWA), San Antonio Romance Authors (SARA), Cultural, Interracial, Multicultural Special Interest Chapter of the Romance Writers of America (CIMRWA), and several romance book clubs. Her To-Be-Read Mountain and reviews of romance novels are featured on her website

When not writing, reading, or reviewing books, Maida consults her husband on word selection, debates with her ten-year-old son regarding the Oxford comma, cooks the dishes she features in her stories, procrastibakes using Baileys as her secret yummy ingredient, and watches golf and food shows on TV.

Social Media links:

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Posted in Book Review

New York to Dallas

By J D Robb, narrated by Susan Ericksen

After the escape of one of her earliest takedowns from Rikers Prison, Eve Dallas is called back to Dallas and the place of her worst nightmares to catch the crazed killer again.

Isaac McQueen is a monster, a serial rapist who likes to leave his marks on his victims. By manipulating his female partner, McQueen plans to start his reign of terror again but his end game is to exact his revenge on Detective Eve Dallas.

With Roarke by her side as civilian consultant, Eve puts herself in line of fire. Her support system in New York, namely her partner, Peabody, works to assist her and longs to be by her side, but Dallas is one nightmare Eve must face alone.

J D Robb, aka Nora Roberts needs no other explanation of why this is just good writing. I love this power couple. Eve Dallas is one of the strongest characters I’ve read, she allows herself to be vulnerable only with her husband, Roarke and occasionally with her friends. As she is thrown back into memories too horrible to imagine, the reader cannot help but sympathize. Eve’s battles and Roarke’s support make your heart hurt and heal with the fierceness of their love. A fantastic story. The narrator, Susan Ericksen was perfect, she sounded like I’d imagine Eve to sound like. She really added to the story.

Posted in Book Review

The Witness by Nora Roberts

Narrated by Julia Whelan

Teen rebellion should not end in death or running for one’s life. When good girl Elizabeth witnesses the murder of her companions, it is only her quick thinking that allows her to escape.

Armed only with a photographic memory and her high IQ, Elizabeth has to disappear. A dozen years later, Abigail Lowery, a woman of mystery living in a small Ozark town gains the attention of the local Police Chief.

Lowery, a security designer is big on security. She lives alone with a big dog and lots of cameras and fire power. She doesn’t engage with the community. Her home is a fortress and she goes no where without a weapon. Brooks Gleason knows she is scared of something, but he can’t help her if she doesn’t open up.

Fearing the chief is onto her, Abigail considers running again. When she discovers his interest his more personal, she can’t decide what to do, run or make her stand.

As the walls she’s built around her life and heart begin to crumble, Abigail and Brooks face the very real fear that they will be unable to keep each other safe when Abigail once more becomes Elizabeth, the witness.

There is a reason Nora Roberts is Queen of romance. She stays current and relevant to today’s readers. Nora Roberts weaves a spell with her intricate plots and complex characters. The Witness is another example of Ms. Roberts genius and why she still reigns supreme.