Monday, May 2, 2011

"She Sounds Like YOU"

My close friends were the first ones to read my work who knew me. Sure, I'd had faceless, good-meaning strangers help to polish my work and give me their thoughts. But, most of them didn't know I have long, copper red hair, a curvy physique, a strong personality, slip into bouts of micro-control when under stress, and love my husband with a deep, consuming passion.

Friends and family? They know me pretty darn well and saw right through Vivian's gruff exterior and laughed their asses off at me. Before I got sick, I took the lead on many parties, projects, meetings, groups... you name it. I never assumed I should be in the lead role, it was usually thrust upon me or thankfully handed over by my busy peers. I quickly built a reputation for getting things done, being organized, loyal, and someone you could always count on to follow through.

One friend loving called me a "sheep dog" saying I herded the children and adults in a very unnoticeable way at large parties or gatherings, making sure the event followed smoothly. I was paid in college to run parties professionally, taking the place of the hostess regarding mundane duties like timing the courses, ensuring the catering staff followed her directions, lining up all details of the event to run like a fine tuned machine.

It taught me a lot. The experience showed me how to lead without being bossy. How to encourage without giving a direct order or negative feedback. And when to realize butting heads with someone does not mean either one of you is right or wrong, you just clash and don't agree. Then, to maturely face the fact you probably never will and move on.

I've brought a lot of personal aspects of myself into Vivian because I never expected the book to make it. I've said before that I started this whole career as a distraction, a way to occupy myself from my day to day predicament of doctor visits and health problems.

I've read in several places Laurell K Hamilton wishes she hadn't made her popular main character, Anita Blake, look like herself. I always found that kind of funny. It's done, so move on. No need to worry about what you can't change.

I feel that way about Vivian. I hadn't intended to pour so much of myself into her. I did intend to make her a powerful, ruthless woman with control issues, and one who may not win friends because of her actions. I wanted her fair, logical, passionate, and slightly paranoid. She is kind of like me on small things, but more of her own as the story evolves-- and thankfully my friends agreed, saying they quickly forgot the comparison and were able to enjoy the story.

In real life, I don't say all the snarky stuff Vivian does, I just dream about it. I don't hang from the basement rafters and have gymnastic-like sex. There has never been a time in my life where I have been chained to a wall and spanked with a crop -- and I can promise there never will be.

And, as much as I wish, I don't have the relationship she has with her spouse. I'm blessed with a good marriage to a man I admire and love. A man who is also my best friend -- but he is not Rafe by any stretch of the imagination.

As writers we're told to "write what you know". We need to make realistic characters and for new writers, like me, that means drawing on yourself and those closest to you. I've grown in my writing abilities and have been able to make up main characters nothing like me.

My erotica novellas require a different type of experience level ;-), and I can weave those elements in with completely unknown characterizations. That's where having a great imagination comes into play.

Sure, most of us may incorporate bits of ourselves into the stories we create. But isn't that what helps the story come to life? What do you think? Have you written about someone who looks, talks or acts like you?


I'm running a unique pre-launch promo contest. I plan to give away ten signed and numbered copies of The Hunt (numbers 3-12, 'cause I'm giving my brother the first two). They will be mailed to winners one week prior to the book going up for sale, which is slotted right now for June 30th, 2011.

Here is how you enter: You comment on any blog I do for the next six weeks. I will notify readers when I post on my Facebook business page, and I will Tweet about it. Each comment counts as one entry (only one entry per post, but you can comment more if you'd like). The comments must be made within the first 48 hours of the post going live, and I will post a "closing" comment when the entries for that day are closed.

All entries will be tossed into a drawing, and the participants with more entries have a higher chance of winning.

BONUS!! Every entrant who comments on at least six blog posts and does not win a signed print copy will receive a free ecopy when the book goes up for sale.

Let the games begin!!


  1. My characters have a "hint" of me in them, but mostly others I've met or know. I'm just not that interesting. LOL! I love to observe people though, then expound on how they'd act and that usually morphs into a new lead character. :)

  2. Great post, CJ. I didn't think about it before, but with your pic and the cover art lined up like that, I totally see it! LOL.

    I'll admit, my main character has a lot of my personality in her. Or at least, she reacts to situations the way I would probably act if I was in her situation.

    I gave her a similar background with out meaning to, but at least she has a different race which makes her look very different from me. I'm guessing you'd have to really know me and my past to see the connection. I hope. LOL.

  3. And everyone said I was crazy. I knew you based Viv on yourself (well, a fantasy self, but self nonetheless).

    As writers, I think we all tend to put ourselves into our characters. And I'm sure we put our friends and family and, especially, our enemies in as well. It's a way to live out a fantasy or a way to get back at those we don't like without resorting to violence.

  4. Thanks for commenting, Lynn. I agree, I observe a lot and love weaving the fascinating details into a good story.

    Jen - Thank you! She's way *more* than I'll ever be. And that was deliberate. Which MC of yours are you referring too? I only read part of the one and I thought she was well done, but I can't recall her race. That just shows race isn't really important in a good story -- the story is!

    I never said you were crazy, Greg. I just laughed my ass off when you made Ryker from your home state and gave him a similar background I knew you already had... but don't worry. The average reader won't know and you tell the tale well enough for it to not matter!

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  6. Thanks, C.J.

    Oh and I've been editing "Hunters" as you can tell from the excerpts, so those aforementioned bio morsels aren't there anymore.

    Can't say the same, though, about Devereaux Marshall Fox from "Land of the Blind." You can ask Anastasia about that one.

    Meanwhile, it'll be interesting to see who Emiko was based on. Former school rival? Former BFF?

  7. Nope, neither! Made her up.

    Since I studied ninjutsu for a little bit in high school we could say she's the Asian dream assassin I wished I could be... I wrote a short story in college about a female ninja for-hire killer-- my one and only creative writing course!

  8. CJ, when you read it, her name was Jenna - yeah, my name even! She's since been renamed Ema.

    P.S. I like the orange. :)

  9. Wonderful post, C.J.
    I'm not a writer, but I've edited for some who have a lot of their life experiences in their stories.

    Lea Ellen {night owl in IL}

  10. Good post, C.J. I think there's a little bit of me in several characters, or perhaps a little bit of who I wish I were in several of them, both male and female.
    Thanks for the post.


  11. As one of those close friends who read your work, it did cause me a few starts and stutters at the beginning of the story, because I found so much of your voice in Viv. And I really didn't want to picture you and your man .. you know.. being gymnastic.. LOL.

    I also can honestly say that Viv may have started from a template based on you, but she's taken on a life of her own, and a personality that's all Viv.

    That's the magic you weave with your story.. one I can get get lost in and enjoy thoroughly. It's be a great joy watching you grow as a writer and knowing that we will be friends til one of us figures out how to live forever ;).

    Kudos to one of my favorite authors!

  12. J.D. - I did not even pick up on the Jen/Jenna thing!!

    Thank you, Lea Ellen - and thanks for stopping by!

    Jimmy - same here! I definitely weave some of my experiences into the male characters as well. We write what we know, but we can alter it as needed to fit a gender in a certain situation.

    Tre - geez.... you brought tears to my eyes. Thanks so much for believing in me. Over *choke* twenty-two years now, and you've always made me feel like I could do anything in life I set my mind to. You rock. Love you!!

  13. It's pretty fascinating that Viv is based on your personality only because I just had a conversation about that very thing. He was saying that an author's first book is heavily reflective of who they are. I know you have other bozoks but I'm not sure if this is your very first. I know Viv isn't exactly who you are, she's more like an amped version of you but it's still pretty cool. I just finished the book and I can't wait for 'The Hunt'. :)

  14. Aziajs - Thanks for commenting! And yes, V V was my very first book. Now Viv is a completely different person with her own history, reactions, and baggage. It's been a blast creating her and I'm glad to hear you enjoyed the story, thanks for sharing!

    You (and everyone else who commented on this blog, whom I do not work with) are officially entered in the drawing for Monday's post.

    For Tuesday's, at my personal blog, I think you're the only one who commented on both so far. Good job, Aziajas!

    Thanks again to everyone participating and there are six more weeks of opportunities to comment for an entry in the drawing.

    **This post from me ends the 48 hour entry period on this blog post, comments afterward will not be counted toward the drawing.

    Cheers and good luck everyone!