All About Love – All About the Hero

Last weekend I went to see Far from the Madding Crowd, a gorgeous period drama based on the Thomas Hardy novel by the same name. In 1870, Bathsheba Everdene is a headstrong English beauty, who is courted by three very different men. If you haven’t seen it or heard of it, here’s a quick trailer to give you a feel for the story.


This love story got me thinking about what makes a hero loveable. What is that makes him stand out and win the heroine’s heart? Far from the Madding Crowd offers three male leads, who are very, very different.

Matthias Schoenaerts as “Gabriel Oak” in FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD. © 2014 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation All Rights Reserved

Gabriel Oak (played by Matthias Schoenaerts) is a shepherd, who has built a life from nothing. He’s a shepherd with a farm that’s almost paid for and a pretty neighbor named Miss Everdene. But when he loses everything, he sets out to find a new life and ends up working for the lovely Miss Everdene, who has just inherited a farm of her own. While he loves her, he stays quiet, showing her with every act of service. He’s a man of action and compassion, a man of encouragement and quiet humor.


Tom Sturridge as "Sergeant Troy" in FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD. Photos by Alex Bailey.  © 2014 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation All Rights Reserved

Tom Sturridge as “Sergeant Troy” in FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD. Photos by Alex Bailey.  © 2014 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
All Rights Reserved

Sergeant Francis Troy (played by Tom Sturridge) is a handsome, reckless solider. His distinguished red coat looks dashing, but after he’s jilted at the altar, he turns his affections to Miss Everdene in order to forget the woman who broke his heart. He tries to give love in an effort to heal his own heart, but there isn’t much love left to give when he’s given his whole heart to the women who didn’t know up at their wedding. His love endures, and he’ll never forget her.






Michael Sheen as “William Boldwood” in FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD. © 2014 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation All Rights Reserved

William Boldwood (played by Michael Sheen) owns the farm next door to Miss Everdene. He is a quiet, middle-aged man of dignity. Many consider him cold, but when his emotions become involved, he is consumed by them. When Miss Everdene sends a Valentine as a mean joke, Farmer Boldwood lets down his guard and sets his sights on his neighbor. Like a schoolboy with a crush, he offers her everything his money can buy, security, protection, and an easier life.

I won’t give away the ending and tell you which (if any) of these men Miss Everdene chooses. But I think these varying personality types beg the question. What makes a hero, a hero? Which of these guys do you think sounds more like a leading man? Who is your favorite novel hero? What makes him such a loveable character?


Wednesday Super Sleuth Challenge: Steal to Grill

grilled beef

Summer is full on and I’m excited! Living in the south, it’s all about the BBQ. I love it. But I can’t say I love it so much I’d steal a rack of ribs to go with my pasta salad and baked beans. But this dude did. Yeah. He walked right into the store and “stole a barbeque.” Now, first of all let me say that I’m not sure what this particular “barbeque” was. It was obviously some sort of meat. Which brings up the whole question of what do you mean when you say, “BBQ?” But that might be another fun summer post!

Right now, you get to guess how the BBQ Bandit was caught!

A.  A stock boy saw a bulge under the BBQ Bandit’s windbreaker and told a manager because he feared he was toting a gun. The manager proceeded to call the police.

B. Coming out of the grocery store (or market depending on where you live), the BBQ Bandit was asked to donate to the Fire Department who was gathering out front. He went to dig for his wallet and a manager who saw him walk off with the BBQ confronted him. The firemen kept him from running until the police arrived. They did however accept the five dollar donation.

C. A store employee saw and followed the BBQ Bandit to his home then called the police with the address. The man was charged and the BBQ was returned to the store safely and ungrilled.

So what do you think? Leave your guess in the comments below and remember that whoever has the most right guesses at the end of the month wins a book!

photocredit: freedigitalphotos

3 Tips To Creating A Story World That Grips Your Reader

Photo by bradimarte

Photo by bradimarte

There are some stories that just grip us with the richness of the story world. The setting, characters and culture of the story are so amazing that we are transported to another time.

Emotion is rich in this type of story world. We can feel the way a character feels because it is as if we are there with them. This emotion creates an intense experience that keep readers coming back for more.

How do we create a story world that grips our readers?

Let’s take a look at a few movies that paint the story world in ways that we can use as authors to get a powerful response.

3 Tips To Creating A Story World That Grips Your Reader:

1. Give the hero/heroine showcase moments to interact with the world they live in.

Watch the following clip:

The heroine in this clip is sitting at the launching spot for the fishing boat. She shares her dream with a friend who is obviously older than her. This multi-generational element also helps to create an emotional tug.

The moment is a showcase for the story world from the fisherman’s love perspective.

2. Show the appeal of the story world for the characters.

Watch the following clip:

We see the delight of the crew as they are fishing. The sun is high and adventure is in their grasp. The beauty and the money of this raw way of life appeals to us.

3. Juxtapose the positive with the raw danger or glaring flaw of the story world.

Every story world is different. In the movie The Perfect Storm the level of danger for the characters is showcased to capture the richness of the story world.

Even when the outcome for characters is better than The Perfect Storm, moments to juxtapose the positive with a glaring flaw draws us in to the story world conflict created just by its rivaling forces.

Watch this clip:

Notice how the trailer juxtaposes the positive and raw danger of the story world? Feeling the high and low of the story world with the characters helps us to be drawn in emotionally. We care. We want them to succeed.

What movie or book is one of your favorites that shows some of these elements?

Happy Memorial Day! Music Monday

by Jill Kemerer

Happy Memorial Day, everyone! Memorial Day brings patriotic music to my mind. I loved singing along to records when I was a kid. We’d march around the house and wave little American flags. Memorial Day weekend usually meant rain, cold, and more rain. It’s an iffy-weather weekend where I live.

I’m spending time with family today, but I hope you enjoy these videos that scream, “Red, White and Blue!”

One of my faves, “Grand Old Flag.”

And I just love the way Celine Dion sings “God Bless America.”

Also, I’m giving a shout out to my great Uncle Robert Devereaux who died serving in WWII. Thank you to all who dedicate your lives to serving this great country!

Enjoy this day, and God Bless America!!

What are you doing today?

Love is in the Air

Business before romance…so the answer to the Would-be-robbers is C: they locked the owner in a closet full of guns. You can read the who story here. The man stayed in the closet until he thought the men were gone, but when he stepped out, they were still there. Gunfire was exchanged and one of the robbers was shot and taken to the hospital where he was treated and arrested.

What type of wedding does your dream of? Sometimes an actual romance can spark the idea for a story.  Read on for a fascinating wedding story.

TanaOnce upon a time there was a girl by the name of Tana, and she was in love with Jason. Now Jason worked on a crabbing boat just off the Aleutian Islands, and they didn’t see each other nearly as much as they’d like. But they had set a Christmas wedding. Jason was flying home, and it was going to be perfect.

But, as in all romantic stories, not everything went according to plan. Before they could make all the arrangements, Jason was called back to the boat. After he complained to his captain that he’d had to come back before they could tie the knot, the captain stroked his chin.  Why not have the wedding on the boat? 

After much thinking and talking back and forth, Tana agreed. I mean, who wouldn’t love getting married on a boat in Dutch Harbor, Alaska in March!

But again, there must be conflict. 

The boat had to catch its quota before it could return to Dutch Harbor, so Tana would only have a ten-day notice. Finally the call came and Tana set out with two friends to fly to Alaska. Right in the middle of the worst ice storm in West Tennessee. They slipped and slid to Nashville to catch the plane, where they waited for over twenty hours to take off. That’s what every bride dreams of—puffy eyes from no sleep. 

While in the airport a news crew arrived to do a story on the iced-in airport and discovered Tana’s story. They interviewed her, but she never saw the story because…FINALLY the plane was able to take off and eventually they flew into Dutch Harbor.

Friend waiting with her at airport
dutch harbor

And then the wedding preparations began!

getting ready


Finally everything was ready, even the groomsman and flower girl, and Tana made her way to her husband-to-be.

Groomsman and flower girlTana's wedding walk

And then the vows.

Tana's vows (1)


the kiss

After which was a reception with their friends.

reception Tana's cake Tana's flowersTana and Jason and friends

And then the Captain gave up his cabin for the trip to Seattle for their honeymooon…

into the sunset

Oh! There’s one more thing about this wedding…except I can’t tell you what it is…not until sometime in July, so stay tuned!

Can you see how this could be used for a story?

Kindergarten Crushes: All About Love

I’m pretty sure I was born a hopeless romantic. It made me sad to see anything alone. Every night I lined my bed with my stuffed animals, and if one fell out, I couldn’t rest until it was snuggled up with the others. I just knew it would be scared and lonely on the floor.


Jill K Little

This is a photo of me and my cousin after raiding my aunt’s dress-up bin. Love my wig with the Detroit Tigers hat!

When I went off to Kindergarten, I found my people. Sure, a lot of the girls were into bossing the other kids or playing kickball with the boys, but a few of us were dreamers. I gravitated toward the brave souls who roped boys into playing house. I would gladly be the dog to play house with them! (Looking back, I think I WAS the dog! Ha!)

I still remember my crush. He did not know I was alive. I was the quiet girl with big, sparkling eyes and a constant smile. His name was John, and he had a confident way about him. And he was cute. He reminded me of the million-and-one males in my life. Both my parents came from large families.

Even at five years old, I knew John was out of my league. He occasionally chatted with the girl who had long, dark hair pulled back in pigtails. She wore cute jumpers and tights. She didn’t chew the cords of her hood. She wasn’t afraid to talk to him either. She was put together and oozed confidence.

I really didn’t give a rip about my appearance. Sure, I liked dressing up for Christmas and Easter, but that was about it. I liked splashing in mud puddles with bare feet, finding pet worms, wheeling my kitty around in a plastic toy grocery cart. I chased my favorite cousins around my grandpa’s farm and hung out with the two closest to my age, both boys. But I could be feminine, too. It would take a few years for me to climb out from the shadows and unleash my exuberance, but when I did, it refused to be contained again.

Kindergarten crushes.

They’re important. Little five-year-olds grasp so much more than we give them credit for. My crush taught me this: a. I wanted the cute boy to notice me, and b. I wasn’t going to put up with being invisible my whole life.

I don’t know where John is now. I only spent two years at that school. But I’m thankful for the dreamer side of me. Here’s to all the Kindergarten crushes!

Did you have a crush in grade school?

Have a terrific day!!

Would-be Robbers


Photo by Printmaster

Photo by Printmaster


It was a dark and stormy night. Ooops. Wrong file. I just finished writing 120,000 words since January and I’m little punchy. Now, I remember…I’m writing about a robbery.

It seems there were three guys who broke into a man’s house with the intent to steal what he had. They were well on their way to getting away with their crime when they made a fatal error and were caught. Which do you think happened?


A. Unknown to them, they were robbing a policeman’s house, and he came home along with four of his buddies.

B. They videoed themselves taking his TV and put it on Facebook.

C. They locked the man in a closet. Unfortunately, it was a closet full of guns.

D.  One of them dropped his cell phone at the scene of the crime.

Leave a comment with your guess and be entered in the monthly drawing!

Oh, and Kelly Ann Liberto won my course on writing antagonists.