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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Carla Laureano and Five Days in Skye Giveaway

I am thrilled and honored to have my friend and fellow author visiting here at A Fictional Life this week. Not only does she share my beloved state of Colorado, but she's a mom down in the trenches with me, juggling little ones at home in the midst of a writing career. Enjoy this little peek in Carla's life.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

CARLA LAUREANO has held many job titles—professional marketer, small business consultant, and martial arts instructor—but writer is by far her favorite. She currently lives in Denver with her patient husband and two rambunctious sons, who know only that Mom’s work involves lots of coffee and talking to imaginary people.

FIVE DAYS IN SKYE
by Carla Laureano
Published by David C Cook

ABOUT THE BOOK

Hospitality consultant Andrea Sullivan has one last chance to snag a high-profile client or she'll have to kiss her dreams of promotion good-bye. When she's sent to meet Scottish celebrity chef James MacDonald on the Isle of Skye, she just wants to finish her work as efficiently as possible. Yet her client is not the opportunistic womanizer he portrays himself to be, and her attraction to him soon dredges up memories she'd rather leave buried. For James, renovating the family hotel is a fulfillment of his late father's dreams. When his hired consultant turns out to be beautiful, intelligent, and completely unimpressed by his public persona, he makes it his mission to win her over. He just never expects to fall under her spell.

Soon, both Andrea and James must face the reality that God may have a far different purpose for their lives—and that five days in Skye will forever change their outlook on life and love.

Readers, buy your copy of Five Days in Skye today!

AND NOW A WORD FROM OUR FEATURE AUTHOR

Four Steps for Creating Memorably Flawed Characters

Nothing makes me put down a book faster than characters who are too good to be true. You know the type: they always know just what to say, never make a mistake, succeed in every endeavor. As a reader who is keenly aware of her own flaws, I can’t relate to those types of people. Frankly, I find them a little boring.

Interesting characters, on the other hand, are fully fashioned human beings, complete with deep-seated needs, fears, and flaws. As a writer, I’d like to say that coming up with a convincing flaw is the hard part. Unfortunately, I’ve got plenty of my own from which to draw. But how do I write deeply flawed characters still make them likeable? Or better yet… memorable?

There are the four questions I typically ask myself when I’m developing a character’s “fatal flaw:”
  1. Is the flaw relatable?

    Not many of us would accept a serial-killer-as-hero whose flaw is, you know, killing people. (Unless you’re a fan of Dexter or Bret Easton Ellis, in which case, that might not bother you.) Aside from the moral issues, it’s not a fault to which readers can relate.

    But a mom (let’s call her Jen) who is habitually impatient with her kids? That strikes close to home. We immediately relate to the emotions the character experiences—what mom hasn’t watched the clock tick towards the school bell while the kids still haven’t put on their shoes or combed their hair? Suddenly, that point of commonality draws us in. We are Jen, and we’re curious to see what’s going to happen next.

  2. Is the flaw understandable?

    Not understandable in the sense of comprehensible, but is there a good reason for it? A character who treats others badly makes for an unlikeable hero or heroine, unless we understand the reason behind the behavior.

    Maybe Jen’s own mother demanded she always be on time and punished her if she wasn’t. Better yet, what if Jen was supposed to come home straight after school, but didn’t—and her father had a heart attack? If she had’ve been there, she could have saved him. Now the root of Jen’s flaw is not impatience, but fear and guilt. Not only do we sympathize with Jen, there’s great potential conflict to explore within the story.

  3. Does the flaw put the story goal into jeopardy?

    Jen’s problems are interesting, but unless they somehow affect her ability to get what she wants most (what I would call the story goal or the stakes), they’re irrelevant. How they affect the story goal might depend on genre, but they will always relate to that big obstacle that must be overcome before the end of the book.

    • a. Romance: Jen is a single mom, and her love interest is perpetually late. Perhaps he had a similar upbringing, but chooses to deal with it the opposite way as Jen. Not only could this be a source of contention between them, but perhaps the hero sees her impatience with her children as a sign that she’s not mate material.
    • b. Women’s fiction: Jen’s impatience with her kids drives a wedge between her and her daughter, who rebels, bringing back terrible memories of the consequences of her own rebellion.
    • c. Suspense: Building on the situation above, Jen’s daughter purposely misses the bus—and disappears somewhere between school and home.
    • d. Romantic suspense: Combine a and c. The love interest is the town’s police chief, whose own strict upbringing makes him unconsciously blame Jen for her daughter’s disappearance. Ah, now we’re getting somewhere. This is a story I’d like to read!

  4. Is the flaw surmountable?

    As much as we’d like to believe that every issue can be resolved in three hundred or so pages, that isn’t always the case. I need to choose flaws that have the potential to be overcome in a satisfying way, whether it’s through therapy, God’s grace, or the power of love. I try not to wrap everything up in a neat little package—real life just doesn’t work that way—but I want some sort of change to occur. Regardless of how the issue is resolved, Jen must be appreciably different in thought or action by the end of the book.
If I can answer yes to all four questions, then I know I have a good flaw that will make for a memorable character. Like people, characters may have many flaws, but generally only one major one that will relate to the central conflict of the story.

Reader Question:  Who are your favorite characters? How do their flaws make them endearing and memorable?

* * * * *

Thank you, Carla, for sharing with us today.

ENTRY RULES Readers, leave your email address (name [at] domainname [dot] com) along with your answer to the question for your chance to win in Carla's themed gift basket giveaway. If you do not answer the question, and your email address isn't provided, you will not be entered.

To celebrate the release of Carla's book on June 10th, she is giving away a fabulous Scotland-themed gift basket including a paperback copy of Five Days in Skye, a beautiful coffee table photography book filled with images of Scotland, CDs of music that inspired the story, as well as plenty of imported British goodies for your own afternoon tea break! Enter below for your chance to win! A winner will be chosen at random and announced on her blog [http://www.carlalaureano.com] on release day.
a Rafflecopter giveaway


This week, the drawing is open to US/Canada residents.

3 comments:

Carla said...

Thanks for having me today, Tiff! It's fun to visit with other writing moms, especially Coloradoans.

I can't wait to hear from all you readers on your favorite characters and what you like about them! (Though my to-be-read pile is probably in danger of increasing exponentially...)What books can't we miss because of character awesomeness?

Heather Day Gilbert said...

Oh my word, a topic near and dear to my heart. I can't stand canned characters who are too good to be believable, myself. Fave flawed characters? Scarlett O'Hara. Anna Karenina. Becky Sharpe (Vanity Fair). THOSE are the characters that stick with me over time. The perfect characters, I forget their names the next week. Glad that's the way you write, Carla. And I'd love to win--my email is heatherdaygilbert (at) gmail (dot) com.

Carla said...

Thanks for playing, Heather! I love Scarlett myself. The things that make her unlikeable at times are the ones that make her so memorable.