Thursday, May 15, 2014

Stephanie Elliot's insider view on creating characters...plus a book giveaway

We are pleased to have Stephanie Elliot here for her third visit! She is one of the inspirations for Chick Lit Central in the first place, as Melissa A. won one of her first books from Stephanie, back when she had her Manic Mommy blog, which changed to Booking with Manic a couple of years later. More recently, it has turned into a Facebook page where there are still a lot of book giveaways. Stephanie always asks fun questions for giveaway entries, which was also an inspiration to us. She's even doing a giveaway right here...for her latest novel, A Little Bit of Everything Lost. TWO lucky US readers have a chance to win an e-book!

Stephanie Elliot is a wife of almost 21 years and a mom of three. She is a writer, book reviewer and edits manuscripts on the side. For more information, please visit her website. You can also find her on Twitter.

Stephanie is here today to talk about how she created her characters for this novel and why she puts them through the wringer.

Synopsis of A Little Bit of Everything Lost:
At 19, Marnie plunged into first love with Joe, a guy who was completely wrong for her. Their romance was fast and exhilarating and like nothing Marnie had ever experienced or understood. Just as quickly as it began, it was over, with no explanation. He left her with unanswered questions and unexpected feelings of loss and regret, and a quiet grief she would carry with her for the next fifteen years.

When Joe returns, Marnie is a 34-year-old wife and mother to two rambunctious little boys, who is slowly healing from a devastating loss. All the emotions she suppressed from the past fifteen years surge to the surface, threatening to ruin her marriage and destroy her family. She'll need to confront the one person who hurt her the most to realize that love and loss sometimes go hand in hand… and that you have to live with some of your toughest choices for the rest of your life.

A Little Bit of Everything Lost is part coming-of-age/part love story. It's a story about a woman desperate to make peace with the past. It's for all women who have ever experienced the magnitude of first love, whether it was a lasting bond or a fleeting moment. Because first love - while it might not have been the best love - is a love none of us ever forgets.

Creating Characters: If We Love Them So Much, Why Do We Hurt Them So Terribly, and What Can We Learn About Ourselves?

When I first began writing my controversial novel, A Little Bit of Everything Lost, I started writing about an ex-boyfriend and me. I actually took my journals from college and began transcribing them onto the computer, to see what kind of story I had. There wasn’t much there, just a little bit of tearful drama, so I had to create someone new for that ex-boyfriend to ruin. He had to RUIN her! But she had to be someone that I ADORED!

Why do authors do this?

Because, you, the reader, would be bored by page two if all you read was feel-good, love, love, joy, joy, and then they lived happily ever after. You WANT the bad stuff, don’t you? You want the adversity, the drama, the fight or flight, the should-she-or-shouldn’t-she?

So right from the beginning, I knew who would play the part of the ex-boyfriend. Oh, did I know him well. I had a character sketch drawn out over pages and pages in my college journals! But I didn’t really know who to cast for the girl in turmoil. Or what exactly would happen to her. Because I knew what happened to me. And at the age of 19, while it had all seemed so dramatic and painful, reading back on it a couple decades later, it just seemed a bit crappy, but it wasn’t all that terrible.

So I created Marnie, and I had to make things really, really bad for her. But it was difficult, because I discovered I really liked the girl she was turning out to be. Of course, she had to make some stupid choices to get where she was - to create a story I felt was worth telling. Marnie had to make bad decisions over bad boys, just like maybe most of us did at impressionable young ages. Didn’t we sometimes choose the wrong over the right because of some hot guy simply smiling at us just the right way, his hazel eyes steeling a hole right through our hearts?

Some might look at Marnie and think she’s a complete idiot. Some might say she did insane things over a guy who was a total asshole to her. Some might think she made wrong choices in her young life that affected her adult life in ways she could have handled differently. When we’re that young, we make decisions that may impact our life. We say yes when we might have meant no. We think we’re invincible, immortal, we don’t think of the consequences. We live in the moment… because we’re on the cusp of adulthood, and we’re in love.

As an adult, Marnie lives with regret and guilt over some of the decisions she made. Marnie spent many years living this way, as I believe many women do, secretly wallowing in pity and sadness. We women, as a whole are really hard on ourselves.

Forgiveness is key, and that’s one of the themes I explore in A Little Bit of Everything Lost. I wanted to create what I hope is a likable, relatable character in which women can see a tiny bit of themselves. No matter if there are any similarities from Marnie’s past and present experiences, I still feel that women are always much harder on themselves than we should be, and we deserve to cut ourselves some slack and love ourselves more!

I hope that you will love 19-year-old Marnie and 34-year-old Marnie, and feel an understanding and compassion for her as a lover, a griever, a mother, a student, a daughter, a friend and as a wife!

Thank you!

Thanks again to Stephanie for another wonderful and insightful post and for sharing her book with our readers.

How to win: Use Rafflecopter to enter the giveaway. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


US only. Giveaway ends May 20th at midnight EST.

13 comments:

Amber @ A Little Pink in the Cornfields said...

Ok, this is going to sound weird, but I lost toilet paper ... My fiance and I bought our first house together and we just moved in. I always get my paper products from Cosco, so I had a huge thing of tp. Well, we lost it! I could not find it anywhere ... finally I did find it, in the trunk of my car... apparently I didn't think to look there!!

Janine said...

The last thing I lost was a new thing of deodorant. I knew I bought it, but couldn't find it when I needed it. It turned up in the pantry on the top shelf with the canned and jar items. I didn't find it for a couple weeks after I bought the replacement.

Anonymous said...

I lost a pair of jeans! It was laundry day and I couldn't find my backup pair of jeans. I have a small apartment, where exactly would jeans go? I eventually found them underneath a bag of bags, which is weird because I had definitely worn them recently. Things must have gotten shuffled around when I cleaned.

Annegret Harms said...

I have to different glasses.One for reading and one for general. I am always looking for my glasses for reading. Without the glasses I can not read.

Linda Kish said...

Other than my mind, you mean. I lost the book I am reading for about 3 days. I searched everywhere for it and found it under a giant stack on top of my desk. I guess I should clean my desk off.

lkish77123 at gmail dot com

Stephanie said...

Linda... What book was it that you lost?!

Mary Jo Burke said...

I should say my mind because my kids will be home for the summer. I'm the keeper of the stuff at my house. I always know where things are and it freaks out the kids. Plus for me!!

Love the Manic!!!

maryjo(at)maryjoburke(dot)com

Jessica Meddick said...

It's not a thing at all. I lost my dog on Tuesday of this week. She was almost 14 years old and my best friend. I miss her so much. It's the hardest thing I've ever been through.

Stephanie said...

Oh my gosh Jessica, I am sooo sorry to hear this news. :(

bn100 said...

can't think of anything

Ro said...

The back to a diamond ear ring ..... Twice in 1 week . Lucky to have found it twice.

Hailey Fish said...

A few weeks back I lost my library card! Thank God my mom found it! I don't know what I'd do w/o that thing because it helps me take out my best friends: books!

fishiegirl22@yahoo.com

Jeryl M. said...

I lost my phone but it was just somewhere in my house.

jeryl.marcus@gmail.com