Joy After Noon

I’m welcoming Debra Coleman Jeter by sharing some advance praise for her novel, JOY AFTER NOON

Advance Praise for Joy After Noon

Jeter’s characters and scenery are so vivid and real that I felt I was right there sharing all their hope and fears. So looking forward to the next installment!—Jana Little

Debra Jeter does a beautiful job creating realistic characters whose lives intertwine in an honest and  purposeful way. I found myself still thinking about their stories once the book ended—Katy Owen

Joy After Noondrew me in and my heart ached along with hers as I followed her struggles. I found myself relating to many characters in the novel–cringing sometimes and laughing at others—Tracy Wilbanks

I was instantly drawn into Joy’s story. A beautiful story full of inescapably good characters – you get so pulled into their world that you miss them just as soon as the book is closed.—Paige Boggs

Debra is offering a choice of an e-book or a signed paperback of JOY AFTER NOON to a commenter. With that, take it away, Debra! Oh…

Joy After Noon is the first published novel in my new Sugar Sands series, set in the fictional beach town of Sugar Sands, Alabama. Initially, the idea behind my title, Joy After Noon, was that Joy’s life has been lonely (and joy has been elusive) since her parents died when she was sixteen. She has about given up on finding love when she meets Ray. She comes into his ready-made family and, for a time, this seems like a mistake. However, in the afternoon of her life, she finds love and joy.

When does the afternoon of life begin? Joy is much younger than I am, but she’s never been in a serious romantic relationship before, and she no longer expects one when she meets Ray. She does not consider herself particularly desirable or even attractive, and she’s thrilled that Ray finds her beautiful. Doubts emerge, though, after the honeymoon, and soon she begins to question his real motives in marrying her.

Yet, I think the concept goes deeper than this, and the afternoon of life does not begin at a particular age, or even stage of life. In the novel, Ray has been pursuing career success and material acquisitions, and experiences a significant change of direction. Some fairly disastrous events in his workplace precipitate the change—events that threaten not only his financial stability but the core of who he is.

Carl Jung says: “The afternoon of life is just as full of meaning as the morning; only, its meaning and purpose are different.” Jung goes on to describe life’s afternoon as the time when we begin to shift away from the ego being the dominant force in our life and move toward a journey that has real meaning.

I also like the following quote: In the afternoon of your life, you don’t do life. You do what resonates with the callings of your soul.

Communication and Missed Communication

In We Bought a Zoo, Benjamin Mee (played by Matt Damon) is grieving the death of his wife. At one point he remarks that a love like his for his first wife only comes along once in a lifetime. So we ask,  What would it be like to be the second wife to someone who had loved that deeply?

On the one hand, you might think he’s capable of great love and would make a wonderful husband. On the other, you might fear trying to live up to his expectations. How can you compete with a ghost?

My heroine Joy lacks self-confidence, especially in the domestic realm. Much of the plot hinges on her failure to express her fears and Ray’s failure to articulate his feelings. Like many men, he assumes Joy knows how he feels, and she’s not secure enough to tell him that she needs to hear it from his lips.

Another complication that often arises in second or third marriages lies in the step-parent’s relationship with their spouse’s children. Ray’s stepdaughters resolve to bring Joy down, and for a time their plan seems to be working—until it backfires with dire, unforeseen consequences.

My Process

I usually create an outline of key points in a story—and often even write the key scenes—before commencing to write from the beginning. I departed from this in Joy After Noon, where I started with an idea and some character work, then let the characters take me on their journey. I look forward to hearing from my readers to see if they cheered Joy on along the way.

Purchase Link for JOY AFTER NOON:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07P7S5Y7Z/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i2

Contact Debra at:

Feelings….character depth – Shannon Vannatter

Welcome, Shannon, and guests! Here’s something special to commemorate the Heartsong Presents line since it’s ending this month. Comment to enter the drawing for a copy of Rodeo Reunion. Ten copies will be split among names drawn during my blog tour from June 1st – July 1st. One winner will receive a baseball themed memory board personally crafted by the author. Winners will be revealed on the author’s blog on July 22nd.

And now, here’s Shannon with some useful writing tips.

Baseball Memory Board

Feelings, whoa whoa whoa, feelings . . .

Anybody remember that song? Yes, I’m showing my age, but I thought it might grab your attention. The main way I add depth to my characters is through emotions. Feelings bring characters to life. I reveal feelings through reactions, both visceral such a jaw tic and physical such as clenched fists to show anger.

Another great way to reveal feelings is through internal thoughts—the things characters don’t say. So many times I think things I’ll never say. Often because my thoughts are rude, selfish, or too vulnerable to reveal. Characters need to have those thoughts too.

Our feelings, reactions, and internal thoughts are all shaped by our unique backstories. The people who raised us. The people surrounding us as we grew up. The things that happened—good and bad—in our lives. The place we grew up. Life-altering events—it all makes us who we are. Our backstories shape our reactions, emotions, and thoughts.

By basing a character’s feelings, reactions, and internal thoughts on their backstory, everything they feel, think, say, and do rings true. Yes, there are very writerly rules about backstory dumping. If you start the book with everything that happened to your character since birth, the reader won’t get very far.

We have to make the reader care about the character before they will care about what made them the way they are. The best advice I learned on backstory is to sprinkle it lightly like salt. A line or two here. A line there. Just enough to make the character reactions understandable.

Another great piece of advice—reveal your character’s backstory like you reveal your past to a new acquaintance—a little at a time as the relationship deepens. When you first meet, you reveal little, maybe your job, whether you’re married or not, and how many children you have if any. The next time, maybe you talk about your parents and siblings. It takes months to reveal some things about yourself, years for others, and some things you never reveal.

Characters should be the same way. Readers don’t need to know every little thing about them. Just the important stuff that shaped them and only over time as they get deeper into the book and in a deeper relationship with the character.

Here’s a fun way to tackle backstory form the movie, Tangled:

Rapunzel: “So Flynn, where you from?”

Flynn: “Whoa, Blondie, I don’t do backstory. But I am very interested in yours.”

But she doesn’t want to spill either. Later, after practically everybody in the kingdom is chasing them, Flynn fights off guards and a horse, and lots of destruction, they end up in a cave which is slowly flooding. Trapped and thinking they’re going to die, Rapunzel apologizes for getting him into this mess. In a vulnerable moment, Flynn reveals his real name—Eugene Fitzherbert and how he became Flynn Rider, the thief.

Characters don’t necessarily have to be trapped and on the verge of dying to get their backstory out. But their backstory should be revealed slowly as the reader needs to know it and organically to fit the story. Divulge the bulk of it well into the tale—after your reader is rooting for your character.

If every feeling, thought, and reaction the character has is shaped by their backstory, the character leaps off the page, three dimensional, and full of depth.

heashot red medium

 

Central Arkansas author, Shannon Taylor Vannatter is a stay-at-home mom/pastor’s wife. She lives in a town with a population of around 100, if you count a few cows, and once climbed a mountain wearing gold wedge-heeled sandals which became known as her hiking boots. Vannatter won the Inspirational Readers Choice Award in the short contemporary category, The 18th Annual Heartsong Awards 3rd Favorite New Author and #1 Contemporary Award. 

She has ten published titles and is contracted for five more. Her books are available at christianbook.com, barnesandnoble.com, amazon.com, harlequin.com, and barbourbooks.com. Learn more about Shannon and her books at http://shannonvannatter.com and check out her real life romance blog at http://shannonvannatter.com/blog/.

 

Rodeo Reunion cover

 

Connect with Shannon on Facebook: http://facebook.com/shannontaylorvannatter, Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/29672798-shannon-vannatter, Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/stvannatter/, and Twitter: @stvauthor.

Rodeo Reunion: RAQUEL MARRIS NEEDS A MAN WHO’LL STAY PUT 

And Slade Walker’s not a likely candidate. Even if the former major league pitcher just agreed to coach her son’s little league team. The single mom can’t risk everything on a bronc-riding chaplain who’s only passing through Raquel’s small Texas town.

Slade is taking a hiatus from the rodeo circuit to meet the sister he never knew he had. But the pretty widowed nurse next door is making him think twice about hitting the road again. He can’t turn his back on the cowboys who need him, but Raquel and her boy need him, too. Can Slade fulfill his calling and finally find a place to hang his hat?

 

Purchase Links:

 

http://www.christianbook.com/rodeo-reunion-shannon-vannatter/9780373487851/pd/487851?event=ESRCG

 

http://www.amazon.com/Reunion-Heartsong-Presents-Shannon-Vannatter/dp/0373487851/ref=sr_1_5?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1431697907&sr=1-5&keywords=Shannon+Taylor+Vannatter