Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Beyond Wonder Woman

If you want to be a good writer, you need to read. A lot. I love to read. Ever since I was old enough to figure out the words printed on the box of cereal, I’ve been an avid reader.

Reading a variety of novels helps the author examine structure and differing styles of writing. Reading offers insight into how to create crises and develop believable characters. One exercise I like to do is to reflect on books I’ve read and liked and try to draw out what it was that I found appealing. I can then attempt to emulate what I perceive as good writing.

Lately I’ve been thinking about two novels published by Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. These books resonate with me. I don’t consider myself a romance writer, but these books are both romance novels. Secrets and Charades by Cindy Huff falls in the category of historical fiction while the other, Land of My Dreams by Norma Gail takes place in a contemporary setting.

The books are both more than clean reads…they each offer a Christian worldview while at the same time sporting differing themes.

I don’t write romance and I don’t write historical fiction. So what is it that intrigues me? What do Secrets and Charades and Land of My Dreams have in common that I want to imitate?

The answer is simple: Both books feature strong female characters. I’m not talking about the Wonder Woman kinds of super heroes. (Though I do want to see the new Wonder Woman movie!) I’m talking about women who are smart, interesting, and courageous. Both have something in their past that threatens to hold them back. Both bravely face moving both literally and figuratively out of their comfort zone. These women do not let events of the past hold them hostage.

Evangeline Olson in Secrets and Charades is a doctor. Set in the post Civil War era, Evangeline leaves her Missouri home to answer the call to be …wait for it…a mail order bride. In fact, the man she is to marry doesn’t even know she is a doctor. What I like about her is her strength of character, sense of fairness, compassion, and tender vulnerability. Ultimately she faces issues in her past to accept the life God has carved out for her in Texas.

Bonny Bryant, the main character in Land of My Dreams is also a strong, yet flawed woman. She doesn’t see herself as strong. Yet here is a woman who leaves her home in New Mexico to take on the role of visiting professor in Scotland. She has suffered great loss and though the reader may think she is running away from the pain, in truth, she is running to the very life God has intended for her. It had to be tough. Lots of second guessing. But then, maybe I’m engaging in a little self-projection.

Isn’t that what we want from characters in the books we read? People with whom we can identify? People who inspire us to press on? People who show us the possibilities before us?

What characters do you look to for inspiration? What flaws do they have? What are the strengths that draw you into their world?
 I’d love to hear from you.

And if you want to read either of these books, follow the links below…oh and don’t forget to leave a review for these authors.

Have a great week. I’ll be busy packing. Time to make that move out of my own comfort zone.

Secrets and Charades by Cindy Huff (Amazon)

Land of My Dreams by Norma Gail (Amazon)

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