- Try writing the scene from a different character’s perspective.
- Try opening you book from a later chapter and see how it affects everything. Try from Ch 2 or 3. Many agents say there’s way too much backstory in opening chapters and the manuscript opens in the wrong place.
- Give your character a fatal flaw you haven’t previously considered. Make them as multi-dimentional as you can.
- Let your characters react in a big way. Let them get mad, hurt, angry, sad, hysterical, etc.
- Switch the setting. Place your character somewhere totally new and see how they react.
- Consider the emotional arc of the character. What’s the one thing that would break them? Then make that happen.
- Make sure your main characters all have a personal stake in the story. Don’t let anyone be there for convenience.
- Look for instances when characters agree on something. What will happen if a character says NO instead? Put as much conflict into every scene as you can. All your dialogue should have some degree of conflict in it: emotional conflict, people that are at odds with one another, different agendas, unspoken fears etc. Good Conversation = Conflict
Oh hi there. It’s been a minute since we’ve talked, yes? Well I could come up with a bunch of excuses but basically I was just packing in all sorts of holiday magic, crazy fun and fabulous trips. So what if it took me most of January to give that up?
In an effort to get myself together, here’s what I wanted to share with you at the beginning of the new year…
For the last two years I’ve participated in the Goodreads Challenge to read a certain number of books during the year. You set your own goal, so in 2013 I read 50 books and in 2014 I read 40 books! I’m pretty proud of it because my life is a weeeee bit hectic.
40 Books I Read in 2014:
Here’s the link to my list on Goodreads if you want to get info on any of the books.
If you’re trying to figure out how to fit reading into your schedule or find books that work for you, check out The Evolution of a Bookaholic- Confessions, Tips and Tricks. With my busy schedule, I ended up “reading” 95% of these books as audiobooks. I just downloaded them from iTunes and I listen with my headphones while I’m cleaning, driving or working out. But since I’ve been doing that, I don’t have the books to display on my shelves. I miss having them out where they can spark conversation. So I made a collage of the books I read along with the Goodreads Reading Challenge icon in Picassa and then had them printed and framed. I made one for 2013 and one for 2014. Now I can display my favorite books once again!
Soooo based on everything I read this year… which ones would I recommend?!? That, my friends, is the question . . .
BROOKE’S TOP RECOMMENDATIONS FROM 2014
Book I Couldn’t Put Down: I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes
I’m a huge thriller lover. This book was clever, layered and witty and does not let up for a minute. I LOVED it. I seriously couldn’t put it down. It reminded me of 24-binging back in the day when I HAD to know what happened to Jack Bauer and it didn’t matter if I lost sleep. I love a good black ops/CIA/secret operative kind of book and the author Terry Hayes knows his stuff. I’m hoping to see more from him SOON! You can’t go wrong with this book.
Book I Couldn’t Stop Thinking About: Me Before You by JoJo Moyes
This book is full of charm and complexities. I love books that involve a moral dilemma and this book gave me a lot to think about. Will Traynor is a 30 something, successful, handsome man whose life changes in an instant when an accident leaves him a quadriplegic. He’s lost his desire to live and his family hires an unlikely caregiver- Lou Clark. Lou bursts in on the scene with determination and wit. But just when you think you know how it’s going to end… you don’t. This would be a great book club book and would incite a lively discussion. It’s the kind of book that wraps its way around your heart before you’ve even realized it.
Book That Totally Surprised Me: The Martian by Andy Weir
I heard about this book several times before I decided to read it. A guy gets stranded on Mars–I thought there was no way a whole book could be created out of that premise. BUT. I was so wrong. I loved this book from the very first sentence. The voice of the main character, Mark Watney, was so off-the-cuff and real to me that I immediately connected with him. This book is an impossible ride. Ridley Scott is directing the film adaptation of it with Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Kate Mara and Kirsten Wiig, scheduled for release sometime this year so you better pick it up before.
Book I Had A Small Obsession With: The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
I was in charge of moderating this book for the Delicious Reads Book Club and I fell in love with it! We like to throw big parties with lots of food and details from the book. You can see recaps here:
The Goldfinch won the Pultizer Prize for 2014 and I will always love it! The characters are so well written and the story drew me in. I even did my own painting it for the Delicious Reads bash.
Book With A Twist: Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult
I’m a huge Jodi Picoult fan, so I knew I would like this book. I love the way she writes and how you make a judgement on something at the beginning of her book that gets flipped on its head by the end. Jenna Metcalf’s mother disappeared when she was a baby, just after an elephant killed the woman working with her. This story is Jenna’s search to find out what happened to her mother on that fateful day.
Jodi Picoult always weaves in something about a culture, religion, race etc. for us to learn about. I wasn’t sure I would enjoy the parts about elephants, but it turned out to be my favorite part because I learned how elephants are matriarchal and the most amazing mothers. I fell so in love with the way they take care of their own babies and the other babies in the group. It also talked a lot about how elephants’ grief is very similar to humans. The actual storyline has an entirely different piece that revolves around psychics and mediums. How these are connected into this intricate storyline was fascinating. There’s a BIG piece of this I want to share because it would make you read it . . . BUT I won’t because it will ruin it. Just trust me that it’s a moving book, well worth reading.
Book I Can’t Wait for the Sequel: Shadow on the Crown by Patricia Bracewell
This was another book I was shocked to LOVE! This isn’t typically a genre I read a lot but I couldn’t put it down! It’s the story based on Emma of Normandy and her rise in the kingdom. I was swept right into the richly detailed plot. Emma is a clever and strong woman in a time when women are not respected. I loved seeing the cunning ways she was able to think five steps ahead to outsmart people around her. The second book in the series, The Price of Blood, comes out February 5, 2015 and I can’t wait! We usually have mixed reviews on books we read at my book club, but everyone rated this a 4 or 5, which has never happened before. It was soooo good!
So there ya go! My top picks for 2014 in a nutshell. I hope that one of them sounds interesting! What about you? What have you read lately that you loved? If you want to set your own Reading Challenge, be sure to find me on Goodreads so we can share books! You can see my profile here.
Let me know if you pick up any of the books I recommended! See ya next time!
I’m always on the hunt for anything fabulous and anything that makes life easier. That’s why I’m so excited to tell you about CHATBOOKS. I have a slight obsession with my Instagram account. Well really, my obsession is with pictures, and Instagram helps to fulfill my obsession. But now Chatbooks takes it one step further!
Chatbooks is an app that collects all your Instagram pics and prints them into 6 by 6 inch photo books. There’s one picture per page with your caption and each book is 60 pages. Then every time you hit another sixty pictures in Instragram, you get an email notifying you to look over your pictures (you can omit the ones you don’t want to print) and then they will automatically send you a new book.
Or if you aren’t into Instagram, there are two other options to upload photos into their books- the Chatbook series or the Custom book series.
Are you ready for the whopping price that might break your bank?? Six dollar per book. Yep, you heard right. Just pack a lunch tomorrow instead of eating out and we’ll call it even. And the shipping is FREE! Isn’t that awesome? I immediately ordered my entire Instagram feed.
Remember scrapbooking? As much as I love a finished scrapbook (let’s be honest… wasn’t it daunting? Being totally creative with fifty scrapbook themed pages with little decals and designs and notes and stickers…slightly overwhelming even for a crafter like myself!) I’m a huge fan of SIMPLE.
All I have to do now is snap great photos and be clever with my captions. Easy-peasy.
Here’s Chatbook’s Website.
And no, this is not a paid endorsement. But I haven’t been this excited about a product since my Britax Stroller and Car Seat combo from my my toddler was a baby. And seriously they could have hired me as their poster-stroller-mama.
You can also Follow Chatbooks on Instagram for flash deals. My books will be arriving any day!
See ya next week!
It’s a SNAPSHOT SERIES kind of day, where I give you a quick snapshot of what’s been going on with me!
What I had for Dinner last night: I made a big yummy salad that included: lettuce, red cabbage, tomatoes, avocados, carrots, feta, sunflower seeds, and Brianna’s Honey Mustard Dressing. Huge hit. Everyone devoured it immediately.
Last Movie I Saw: You guys… this is embarrassing. I seriously don’t know if I’ve seen a movie since my last Snapshot Series post (which was Divergent). I’ve been so busy with outside stuff that I don’t seem to watch as many movies in the summer. But I’m a HUGE fan of going to the movies. HHhhmm. I feel like I must remedy this immediately.
Delicious Reads Collaboration: I’m a contributor over at Delicious Reads and we just finished our big bash after reading The Goldfinch. You can GO HERE TO SEE PART I of the evening, which features our food menu- all derived from the Pulitzer Prize winning book by Donna Tartt! I’ll be finishing up Part III on Friday.
What I’m Reading: I’m in the middle of three books right now. I keep track of what I’m reading on my Goodreads Currently-Reading Shelf. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a huge fan of AUDIOBOOKING it and so right now I have two books on my iPhone:
“The Fourth of July Creek,” by Smith Henderson, which I featured on my Top TEN Summer Reading Suggestions for 2014. It’s about a social worker that goes above an beyond to help a young boy who’s father is a religious zealot. I’m almost done with it and it’s been a very interesting read.
“The Evolution of Mara Dyer,” by Michelle Hodkin – This is the second book in her YA paranormal romance series, which I was admittedly hesitant to read but I really enjoyed the first book and now this one has my attention as well!
The third book is a well-worn and beloved book that a good friend let me borrow:
“The Historian,” by Elizabeth Kostova” It’s a tantalizing and mysterious read about a young woman who discovers a family secret though a series of old letters addressed to: “My Dear and Unfortunate Successor… ” It’s kind of haunting so I’m excited to see what happens.
What I’m Writing: Summer days with kids at home is the nemesis to my writing. But on the positive side, I’ve been able to do much more of THIS. I’m just chalking it up to seasons of life and I’m trying not to stress about it too much. I’ve been having a ball hanging out with my kiddos this summer. I’ve learned a lot from my little guy: I can totally name every kind of tractor -FYI, there are more than you think. I can play “momma tiger & baby tiger” for much longer than I thought possible. I can watch bugs for an obscene amount of time. I no longer worry about the constant layer of sand on all my clothes/hair/face/feet from our sandbox. I play a mean game of never-ending catch. I’ve come to terms with the fact that every single thing I do takes ten-times longer because my toddler has to do it himself along with me. I’m also a pro-sunscreener. I’m hoping all this will somehow translate into faster writing techniques when I get a chunk of writing time. That sounds like it will work, right?
Getting Ready For: My NAPA trip! This is my second year participating in the GUNBUNFUNRUN 5K in Napa. I have this awesome group of friends and most of them are doing the half marathon (props to you guys). But I had double knee surgery a year and a half ago so I’m sticking with the 5K. This year we are staying at a winery so I’m extra excited!! I seriously have the coolest group of friends.
Best Part of my Day: The best part of my day today is going to be this evening when I’m planning on having a Margarita on the porch. There’s nothing better than Utah summer evenings outside.
What’s up with you? I hope you’re having a great summer, relaxing and spending time with family and friends. Live it up!
See ya next week!
SUMMER is finally in full swing! Today I’d like to share 10 Ways to Have a Fulfilling Summer!
1) Spend Time OUTSIDE. Simply put, it’s good for the soul. Breathe in the fresh air, feel wind in your hair, get some sun on your face. Take off your shoes and feel that tickle of the grass or the soft grit of sand. I promise you’ll feel revitalized.
2) Take a Trip. Everybody needs a break from reality, something to look forward to, a reset of your capacity to deal with life. It doesn’t have to be and exotic location or an expensive get-away. But find a way to get out of town with someone you love this summer. You’ll come back with a renewed zest for life.
3) Participate in Local Activities. There’s something to be said for being part of your community. I bet you’ll be surprised how many events are offered between the city, local schools, libraries and recreation centers. The more you get involved, the more rooted to your community you will feel.
4) Do A “Summer-Cleaning.” Go through your closets, your garages and your kid’s rooms. See if there are things you no longer need or items you can donate to charity (Here’s a post I did about Sorting & Donating). Reducing the amount of clutter in your home will lift the mood of your house and give you peace of mind.
5) Spend 5 Minutes Reflecting at Night. Studies have shown that peoples who are consciously paying attention to the good things in their life are less prone to depression, they feel more fulfilled and live longer. Whether you do a thankful journal where you jot down one thing you are thankful for each day, use the Gratitude 365 App I talked about here, or even verbally share something you enjoyed about your day with someone you care about–find a way to focus on the good.
6) Commit to Less. Summer is a great time to scale back on your responsibilities. Guard your time and don’t be afraid to say NO. Make sure that if you’re participating in something it’s because you WANT to be there, not because you feel obligated.
7) Carve Out Time for Something You Love. Whatever it is that moves you and makes you feel alive… make time to do it! Be conscious to have at least one activity a day that makes your soul happy!
8) Be Active. The days are long and perfect for squeezing in something active to reduce stress, lose weight, tone up and find mental clarity. Go running, biking, hiking, waterskiing, jet skiing, golfing, canoeing, rappelling–just SOMETHING active. Go chase your kids in a game of tag, participate in a fitness boot-camp, take your dog for a long walk, jump on a trampoline, play a pick-up game of basketball, throw a ball around, go to an outdoor yoga class or swim some laps. Take advantage of the these longer days because Fall will be here before you know it!
9) Read! Being a writer, I may be a little biased here… but I also devoured 50 Books in 2013 and it enriched so many things in my life and broadened my perspectives. Here’s my list of the 2014 Top Ten Summer Recommendations. Even if you’re not normally a reader or can’t seem to find the time, try to read at least one book this summer. Here’s a few suggestions of how to make reading more convenient for you!
BONUS CHALLENGE: Create a Bucket List! I had so much fun putting mine together and it’s great to keep things I want to do in my life on my radar. Try it! What have you always wanted to do??
I hope you’re able to use some of these ideas to make your summer more meaningful. 2014 can be the best summer yet!
Have a safe and happy Independence Day tomorrow!!
A lot of people are really surprised when they find out I don’t eat meat.
Oh. you’re one of those people.
Yep, I am. If you would have told me years ago that I would become a Vegetarian, I would have said you’re crazy. But… I’ve learned to never say never. I’m not going to try to sway your eating habits in this post- just in case you suddenly want to protect your bacon.
But I’ve had several people ask me about it so I’m going to share the most commonly asked questions with my meatless answers as well as give you some quick tips:
How long have you been a Vegetarian? A little over five years.
What made you decide to do it? In the years leading up to my switch, I noticed when I prepared the meat from a raw state I didn’t really end up eating it. I just sort of picked at it. I try to eat really healthy and I’m also a huge animal lover. I decided to educate myself more about what I was eating. I read some books and watched some documentaries. What I found changed the way I think about food forever. Here are two of books that had the biggest impact on me in the beginning:
The China Study– This book goes over the most comprehensive nutrition study ever conducted. It’s explores how diet is connected to disease- specifically cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. Dr. T. Colin Campbell was a nutritional scientist at Cornell and spearheaded the extensive study via a partnership between Cornell University, Oxford University and the Chinese Academy of preventative medicine. His data suggests that eating a whole-food, plant based diet will drastically reduce your chance of having these diseases, and it can also reverse the symptoms of of these diseases. This book is jaw-dropping. The factual data about a whole-food, plant based diet in relation to disease is astounding. Everyone should read this book.
Skinny Bitch– The catchy name is to snag your attention (it works!) but the two women who wrote aren’t actually trying to get you to lose weight by reading their book. They live a vegan lifestyle (vegan means you don’t eat meat or any animal product, so dairy is out too) and provide a lot of great information. One thing I loved about this book is that they encourage you not to just take their word for it- they want you check into what they are saying. I have to admit I came away from this raucous and witty read feeling like I everything I was eating was bad for me. I read it in one sitting and stopped eating meat cold-turkey… no pun intended. It was the day before the Super Bowl and my hubby had been marinating ribs for our Superbowl bash. I seriously think all I ate that day was carrots because I had no idea how to eat in a way that didn’t revolve around a main coarse of meat (more on how to cope with this problem below).
Forks Over Knives (Forks Over Knives Book, Forks Over Knives Documentary) is a documentary made by T. Collin Campbell (the father of the China Study) and Dr. Esselstyn, a top surgeon and head of the Breast Cancer Task force for Cleaveland Clinic. Dr. Esselstyn had noticed many of the diseases he treated didn’t surface in areas where animal-based products weren’t consumed. Forks Over Knives puts food to the test for medicinal purposes.
Another amazing and staggering documentary is Food Inc.
I’m a believer that to elicit change in behavior a person must have a fundamental understanding of the REASONS behind their decision. My research left no desire for me to continue the way I had been eating. I made the change and I’ve stuck with it.
So… what can you eat? It’s funny because I remember asking myself that same question in the beginning. I think there’s a huge misconception that vegetarians basically eat salad for all their meals. I love salad, but I definitely don’t eat it every meal! Once I figured out my staples of substitution it became much easier. Here are some of my tricks:
- The meat in almost every dish can be omitted and/0r “beefed-up” some other way. For example I make a killer Veggie-Lasagna:
Brooke’s Veggie Lasagna
Layer the following three times-
Wheat Lasagna Noodles
Veggies- Diced up Zucchini, Squash, Red Pepper, Green Pepper, Spinach
Pepper-jack cheese with jalapeño
Top with layer of sauce and cheese.
Bake covered with aluminum foil at 375 for an hour. Take off foil for last 10 minutes until the edges are golden brown and the noodles are cooked through.
I’ve served this dish a zillion times to my meat eaters and everyone is completely full and happy.
- Add more veggies. You’d be surprised how many veggies you can pack into a dish to give it the substance you’re craving.
- Switch the meat for beans or lentils– lots of meat can be replaced with lentils, garbonzo beans/chic-peas, black or pinto beans.
- Replace the meat with vegetarian-meatless options or tofu. I’m not a huge tofu person, but there are lots of meatless options that taste very close to meat (check the health food sections of your grocery story). My very favorite substitution like this is Morningstar’s “Spicy Black Bean Burger.” It’s fantastic! I eat this a lot when we are BBQ-ing and I dress it up on a wheat bun with all the fix-ins. I also use this a lot as a substitute for meat in tacos. I just cook and dice it up, maybe add in some diced green chills and voila- tacos!
Here’s some of things I commonly eat:
Eggs loaded with veggies- bell peppers, zucchini, squash, mushrooms, cilantro, avocado & salsa.
Fruit/green smoothies (protein powder, greek yogurt, banana, kale/spinich, frozen or fresh fruit, almond milk/soy milk/milk or 100% juice)
Cottage Cheese & fruit
Protein Shakes (I have a few different kinds, ranging from 9-32 grams of protein)
Crunchy Salads- I add LOTS of stuff into my salads. I think people would eat more salad if was presented better. Common things I put into a salad: Leafy greens, arugula (LOVE), bell peppers, cabbage, sunflower seeds, spinach, gorgonzola cheese, tomatoes and cucumbers.
Black bean burgers on a whole wheat english muffin with guacamole, pickles, lettuce, tomato and mustard.
Hummus (did you know hummus is just pureed garbanzo beans with different flavors?) on pita chips or Naan bread (Costco has some awesome Naan bread you can freeze and just pop in the toaster).
Grilled Cheese Paninis- Smoked gouda cheese, cheddar & wheat bread.
Caprese Salad- Buffalo mozzarella, heirloom tomatoes, basalmic vinegar, fresh basil.
Yakasoba (broccoli, carrots, onions, bell peppers, cabbage with a soy/Worcestershire sauce served over noodles)
Taco Salad (Leafy green lettuce, kidney beans, black beans, corn, avocado, tomatoes, Doritos and Italian dressing)
A variety of soups (in the fall and winter)- Lentil, minestrone, butternut squash, tomato basil with wheat rolls
Veggie Curry (red potatoes, broccoli, bell peppers, zucchini, squash, onions, carrots and curry)
Burritos (flour tortillas, pepperjack cheese, refried beans, pinto beans, taco seasonings, spanish rice, salsa, guacamole)
Fancy Quesidillas (ground black bean burgers, caramelized onion, bell peppers, spinach, goat cheese, blue chip tortillas, sour cream)
These are just a few things I love and have in our rotation regularly to give you an idea of some vegetarian-friendly meals. If you would like to see other recipes I may use, you can check out my Healthy Food Ideas Pinterest Board.
What do you eat when you go out to dinner? I can find something to enjoy at almost every restaurant. Many times I just have them exclude the meat on a dish and load up on the other pieces of the entrée. The labeled “vegetarian items” at many places (at least near me) must not have been tried by someone who is actually vegetarian because they usually lack imagination. I tend to order a delicious entree and just request it without the meat.
How about fast food? I don’t get fast food very often. If I do it’s usually some sort of sandwich place where I can have wheat bread and lots of veggies.
What about when you go to someone’s house for dinner and they aren’t vegetarian? I never expect people to provide me with a veggie-friendly meal at dinner parties. I always bring something to contribute to that could also be my main dish. If someone is cooking specifically for me, I mention it ahead of time and offer to bring something.
Is your whole family Vegetarian? They still eat meat but not nearly as much. I love to cook and I’ve found lots of delicious and filling recipes that don’t have meat in them. I try to provide excellent meatless options for my family and let them choose what they want.
How do you get enough protein in your diet? It’s a common misconception that it’s hard to get the amount of protein you need with a vegetarian diet. Most veggies, beans, grains, nuts and seeds contain protein and as long as you’re varying your diet to include them you will be fine. Web MD says an average adult male needs about 56 grams of protein a day and an average adult female needs about 46 grams of protien (more if you’re pregnant or nursing).
I hope that you were able to learn something new about having a Vegetarian lifestyle from this post. If it’s something you would like to try, it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. You can start out by adopting Meatless Monday’s and go from there. Or try out these Six Tips for Becoming Vegetarian.
I’d be happy to answer any other questions you may have. Except this one:
Have a great week! See ya next time!
That’s been the story of my life lately. I’ve been thinking a lot about seasons of life and how we choose what to focus on in each of them. I feel like I’ve been trying to rock it in so many different aspects lately it’s been a wee bit overwhelming. I’ve posted about Finding a Balance before and what I’m discovering is that you have to continually reassess what it means for you.
Summer is coming oh-so-soon and I’m feeling like I need a little more down-time and a little less push to be everything to everyone. This is difficult for me because I have a hard time relaxing until everything is done. But savoring life’s joys is one of the Traits of Happy People and I’m a believer in balance. I think I’ve been a little out of balance lately, and I’m trying to come up with a good plan to remedy this.
On any given day I try to pack in quality time with my kids and hubby, healthy meals, a workout, writing/editing time, reading (which really means audio-books while I’m doing house stuff), keeping my home clean and organized, maintaining/creating awesome living space in my yard, social media, and outside commitments. I’ve cut out TV since the end of last summer because I simply don’t have time. I’ve also been working extra hard lately on my writing commitments, trying to gain as much traction as I can. It’s been so much fun, but also very time consuming. I love, love, love my life and I’m so lucky to have my days packed with things I’m passionate about. I’m just feeling like I’m running from one thing to the next and I think I need a breather!
Especially as a mother it’s tricky to really keep on top everything because so much of your day can be altered in a split second by cute little kiddos. I would never change those moments- they are what make life sweet and meaningful. I’m just saying it’s easy to have a never ending to do list and it can be tempting to tally your day by what you’ve accomplished. But that can leave you feeling perpetually behind and unsatisfied.
I’m trying to change my metric of success. I want to look at it more in terms of quality of life- did the things I chose to participate in today make me feel happy? Closer to my family? Relaxed? Fulfilled?
My new goal for the summer is to breathe in life’s moments and not be in such a hurry. To Be Present and relax a little.
I think I seriously need this tattooed on my forehead.
Hope you all have a good week! I’m working on my Top Summer Reads like I did for the Summer of 2013, so look for those soon!
As a voracious reader, I love to find complex characters that that move me- the kind I’m rooting for and the ones I love to hate. The more you understand why you’re identifying with your favorite characters, the better you’ll become at choosing books you can’t put down.
Typically, the main characters can be broken down into the protagonist and the antagonist- they’re pretty easy to spot: the protagonist is the one we’re rooting for and the antagonist is the one in the way of the protag’s goal.
But this is where it gets interesting. The characters who move me the most are intricately layered. The hero has several flaws that at any moment could be his/her undoing. And my favorite villains have a sliver of humanity in them- a reason to hope for redemption.
Think of Dexter (Dexter Book Series and Dexter TV Series)- the Miami Forensic specialist who is a serial killer- the caveat is he’s only killing other serial killers who have slipped through the legal system and pose a significant threat. So you want to hate him… but he’s saving lives, so it gets a little complicated. He’s the protagonist in the series, but his “dark passenger” gives him an unexpected depth that leaves you questioning if you love him or hate him.
Consider Miranda Priestly (The Devil Wears Prada Book and The Devil wears Prada Movie). She is one of the most powerful women in the business. She gets what she wants with possess poise and grace toward those she wants to impress. But we love to hate her because she’s so heartless to her staff. She’s the antagonist, but we briefly catch a glimpse of a few redeeming qualities, leaving you to wonder if all her nastiness is a product of her situation.
Jay, from The Great Gatsby (The Great Gatsby Book and The Great Gatsby Movie) is a man of ambition. We admire his tenacity and his passion- we identify with him because we all want to make more out of ourselves. But as the story unfolds from the view of his neighbor, Jay’s shallowness is exposed, leaving us with that sick feeling of a disappearing mirage.
Katniss Everdeen (The Hunger Games Book and The Hunger Games Movie) is the protagonist of this series but in order to save her sister and herself, she has to kill many other innocent teenagers. You don’t want to root for a murderer, but her circumstances force her to do what she does, so you can get behind her motives.
And of course we can’t talk about layered and complex characters who get lost in their fight for good without mentioning Walter White. Walt from Breaking Bad is a high school chemistry teacher with lung cancer. In his quest to provide for the family he will leave behind, he begins cooking and selling Meth. Walt is about as complex of a character as you can get, and we both love and hate him.
As a writer, I try to infuse as much depth into my characters as I can because that evokes emotion and moves us. Everyone has flaws, everyone tries and fails. That’s what we want as readers- to feel the humanity of our favorite characters. To identify with them and then question what you would do in their situation.
The next two books we are reading at Delicious Reads both have complex characters that I’m really excited to read and discuss!
In The Husband’s Secret, by Liane Moriarty (our May selection to be discussed at the beginning of June), the lives of three women are intertwined when Cecilia Fitzpatrich finds a letter from her husband that is only supposed to be opened in the event of his death. The secret held in the envelope will make her question everything.
The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt is the June selection that I will be moderating at the beginning of July. I’m SO excited about this book!! Little Brown & Co. invited us to be one of their Book Club Insiders and generously sent us copies!! Delicious Reads loves Little Brown & Co!
The Goldfinch just won The Pulitzer Prize! Congrats Donna Tartt!! It’s the story of Theo Decker, who survives an explosion at a museum that kills his mother. It’s in this dire moment that he’s entrusted with a painting of a Goldfinch that changes his life forever. Theo is a very layered and complex character and I’m so excited to discuss everything about him. I’m not going to reveal anything here because I don’t want to spoil your read. Just trust me, pick up this book!!
Hopefully this post helps you understand how to pick out the complexities of your favorite characters, allowing you to appreciate your favorite heroines, heroes and characters you love to hate.
See ya next time!
If this statement by Aristotle, “We are what we repeatedly do,” was literal, what kind of person would you be? If you pooled all the ways you spend your time and organized them into percentages, what one thing would hold most of your time? Hopefully it’s something you’re passionate about.
Let’s break it down even further- take a minute to identify the top five ways you spend your time and then ask yourself this: Is one item in pursuit of something you’re passionate about?
I’ve been thinking about how hard it is to create something authentically yours in this life. To improve something around you and give back to society in some way is daunting. It’s so easy to become complacent- or not even complacent, just busy!
Some of you may have seen this before, but it’s a perfect illustration of this very concept- a man put together this visual presentation using jellybeans, to represent the amount of time we have to devote to everything in our lives. It’s pretty compelling…
It really made me stop and think about how I’m spending my free time. This goes back to having goals or benchmarks of some sort so that you can measure your progress and keep motivated. Even something silly like a Bucket List can help you try to achieve things you otherwise might not be focused on.
If you haven’t carved out a niche for yourself yet, don’t worry. My best advice would be to figure out something that you’re passionate about and think about how you can do it on a larger scale, or in a way that can benefit others. If its something you’re interested in, other people will be too. Maybe there’s an experience you’ve gone through or a life struggle that has you made you stronger. Find a way to help other’s navigate the same thing.
Hopefully this post has jarred some thoughts or feelings loose in you. Hopefully when I mentioned something you’re passionate about, you knew exactly what that is for you. Or maybe you’ve already started and you can think of this post as a boost for you to continue. Go be you.
Be protective of your time. Because you only get so much.
See ya next time!
I just finished reading Harlan Coben’s “Missing You, (which was fantastic and you can see my review HERE). He brings up a thought that has stuck with me, spinning around in my head all day. The main character, Kat Donovan’s father was murdered many years prior, and she’s been hunting his killer ever since. There’s a moment where she is having this revealing conversation with someone who knew her father, and learning both good and bad things that she never knew about her dad. This person says that they would give up anything, forgive anything, forget anything, for just a few more minutes with him. Kat is struck by this thought and it changes her perception on everything.
That idea of loving and missing someone so much that you would literally do anything to even have just a few more minutes with them has got me thinking about what’s really important in life. It could just be someone who you don’t see anymore for whatever reason, or someone who has passed away. It made me think of moments I might otherwise take for granted. It made me realize how much faster we should forgive, how much deeper we should love, and how much harder we should fight for what makes us happy.
It’s funny how a gripping thriller would make me turn so introspective, but its good to have a wake-up call to level everything out so you can see things in your life clearly.
Life is unpredictable.
Be happy. Forgive. Work hard. Be grateful. Find your passion. Love with everything you’ve got.
Til next time…