Monday, September 03, 2012

Guest - Liese Sherwood-Fabre

Good morning all! Today's guest is Liese Sherwood-Fabre. Liese has two giveaways for us so make sure you read all the way down to find out how to enter her drawing.


Connecting with Characters

In her keynote address at the national RWA conference this year, New York Times Bestseller Stephanie Laurens described the relationship between an author and her reader. At its most basic level, the author is a storyteller whose goal is to create an emotional connection with the reader. Books that sell are those where the story makes the reader laugh, cry, get angry, etc.—to somehow touch and involve the reader with the characters and their lives.

Readers choose books based on their own interests and preferences, but regardless of genre, they are drawn into a story because they care about the characters.

While working on my debut novel Saving Hope, I came across a discussion about making this connection in Sol Sten’s book Stein on Writing. He describes how one writer used as an opening scene for her novel in which the main character observes her nightly ritual of patting her sleeping son’s head before leaving to work as a police decoy. Throughout the rest of the book, Stein points out, readers remember this woman as a loving mother with a small child waiting for her at home, and any danger she faces is heightened because of this emotional attachment.

In Saving Hope, I also had a small child who was the motivation for my main character’s struggle in post-Soviet Russia. The unemployed scientist struggles to get her daughter the medical care she needs and will do anything—include working for a foreign government—to get it. But I needed to heighten the emotional stakes for the reader even more, according to one of my creative writing professor.

He noted in one lecture that if a story contains a child, she should be put in peril at some point. In one of those “light-bulb” moments, I put these two bits of advice together and the whole basic structure of my story unfolded. I rewrote the opening scene with a child’s parents rushing her to the hospital after she contracts pneumonia. This child’s critically needed medical care propels the mother into Russia’s underworld. Her fight for her daughter’s life culminates in the story’s climax where the girl’s life literally hangs in the balance.

Now, whenever I begin a new story, I seek to form a bond between the reader and the main character by putting the protagonist into a relate-able situation—such as a parent fighting for her child’s life or being at the receiving end of other students’ teasing. Such a bond ensures readers will continue to read and root for her throughout the rest of the book to a satisfying end.

What books have you found that truly draw you in and get you to root for the main character? What stories have you found disappointing?

I'd be glad to do two giveaways--one copy of Saving Hope to one commenter and one of Corazones to another commenter for anyone leaving a remark from Septemeber 3-10 . The winner just needs to say what format (Kindle, Nook, or pdf) and make sure she/he leaves their email addy in the comment.

A collection of three award-winning literary short stories exploring the impact of love. “A Stranger in the Village,” nominated for the 2007 Pushcart Prize, describes how the arrival of a young woman into a Mexican mountain village changed sixteen-year-old Hector forever. “Sacrifice” offers an Aztec tale of political intrigue and love. Doña Rosa, a market-place curandera, assists the lovelorn through the heartache of infidelity.

Deep in Siberia in one of the Soviet Union’s former closed cities, Alexandra Pavlova, a talented and unemployed microbiologist, struggles to save her daughter’s life. She turns to her oldest friend for help and is drawn into Russia’s underworld. His business dealings with the Iranians come to the attention of Sergei Borisov, an FSB (formerly the KGB) agent, and Alexandra finds herself joining forces with Sergei to stop the export of a deadly virus in a race to save both her daughter and the world.

Liese Sherwood-Fabre grew up in Dallas, Texas and knew she was destined to write when she got an A+ in the second grade for her story about Dick, Jane, and Sally’s ruined picnic. After obtaining her PhD from Indiana University, she joined the federal government and had the opportunity to work and live internationally for more than fifteen years—in Africa, Latin America, and Russia. Returning to the states, she seriously pursued her writing career and has published several pieces. Her debut novel Saving Hope, a thriller set in Russia, is now available from Musa Publishing. Corazones, collection of literary short stories, is also available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Contact info and links for Liese:

You can follow her upcoming releases and other events by joining her newsletter, or visiting her Facebook, Twitter, or Bebo accounts. You can also contact her at
Website--can join my newsletter and get a copy of another short story.
My email:
Buy Links:
For Saving Hope:
For Corazones:
Barne and Noble:


-- Lynda Again,

    That's a great post, isn't it? Please leave a comment and let Liese know which book/format you'd like. Make sure you follow the directions so you can be included in her drawing ;-)

    Happy Labor Day to all our USA readers! Stay safe and enjoy your holiday!

    Have a Blessed Day!


Jacqueline Seewald said...

Hi, Lynda and Liese,

A very good blog! Liese, you explain an important way for writers to connect with readers: Find ways to emotionally connect. Children and pets are certainly a good way. People care about their children and their pets. Wishing you every success with your first novel!


Jacqueline Seewald
DEATH LEGACY--romantic suspense
TEA LEAVES AND TAROT CARDS--paranormal romance

Anonymous said...

Wonderful blog. I agree, a book has to engage me on an emotional level. Congratulations on your book!!

bn100 said...

Very nice post. Any of Lisa Kleypas' characters draw me in.



Liese said...

Thanks, Jacqueline and Ella for commenting!

bn100:What about Lisa's characters appeal to you?

Magdalen said...

Hi, Liese -- The first essay I did for my MFA program was on Susan Elizabeth Phillips's Dream a Little Dream, where both Edward (Rachel's little boy) and Jamie (Gabe's dead son) help us care about two quite prickly characters. Rachel, in particular, needs rescuing from her pugnacious character. But the way she's willing to starve to keep her son fed--masterful!

Mary Frances Roya said...

Hi Liese, great blog. I have read a novel where I truly indentfy with the heroine. She had the feeling that no one would ever truly care or love her. And just like the heroine I got my HEA too.


Vonnie said...

Absolutely agree with that emotional connection with the reader, Liese (especially a suspensful one). Otherwise, what's the point? You may as well write a treatise on the state of the world economy in 1921.

Have read a few extracts from Saving Hope and hope one day to read the lot. Oh PDF. said...

I will keep your advice in mind as I write, Liese. Curious what your PhD is in?

Sophia Ryan said...

oh, and pdf...

SiNn said...

hello ladies great blog ur books sound awesome and gives me hope for my tallented neice who writes stories all the time since the second grade a pHd is awesome too cant wait to read ur books congrats on them

could i get it in kindle format if i win ty

Liese said...

My PHD is in Sociology. Mary Frances has an important point. Identifying with a character is also a good way to help readers develop an emotional connection.

Jennifer (JC Page) said...

Yes, so true, the emotional connection. Love the blog and comments! Congrats on your book~~Exciting times ahead~~

Rita Monette, Writer said...

Liese, I loved this post. I learned after many revisions of my debut novel that I had to make the readers really care about my character in the beginning. When I did, the entire story begame more meaningful. One story that really pulled me in was "Moon Over Manifest" by Clare Vanderpool. There are quite a few that have dissapointed me, but I won't bring them up here. If I win, I'd like my book in Nook format. My email address is Thanks for having this little giveaway.

Nancy said...

Great post, Liese! Characters that we care about are key!

Nancy Haddock

Kathleen Baldwin said...

Don't enter me in the contest as I have both books and enjoyed both very much.
I just want to add that you are superb at building characters.

Enjoyed the post.

Rhea Rhodan said...

So true! Doesn't matter how tight the writing or exciting the plot, if readers don't care about the character (and the sooner the better), they're not going to love the book. Saving Hope's been on my TBR for a while now. I'd love to win a copy (prc. please).

Liese said...

If you read most "how to" books for writing, they will spend a lot of time on character and character development. Making them well-rounded--with flaws and good parts--helps them become "real" for the reader.

Thanks for all your comments!

Liese said...

CONGRATUATIONS to our two winners:

Nancy Haddock will receive a copy of "Corazones" and Jacqueline Seewald will get a copy of "Saving Hope!"

Thanks to all the commenters! You can sign up for my newsletter on my Website. Upcoming events include a blog hop through Musa Publishing and chances for a LOT of prizes.