Monday, November 7, 2011

Where All My Charaters Are


I recently completed a blog tour with Pump Up Your Book and I must say I learned a lot about myself as a very introverted author trying to make my way in a market that requires many extrovert skills.

Thank God for all the lessons I learned from reading the blog, Shrinking Violet Promotions: Marketing for Introverts. If you are introvert and the thought of promoting your novel gives you hives or make you want to hide under your bed, head on over to this very useful site for all the information you need to become an effective advocate for your work.

Now, one of the blog posts I had to write during the tour was an exercise called: “Five Things You Didn’t Know About ___” (fill in the blank with one of your character’s names.)

At first I dreaded writing about this I think because writing in Grace's voice after being away from her so long felt a little odd and I was fearful I couldn't do it anymore. However, once I got into it I found it very instructive and I think this exercise might also prove helpful to those of you who feel they need to flesh out the characters in their own work.

Below is what I wrote for the blog, The Plot: Where All The Characters Are:

Five things you didn’t know about, Grace Johnson from Act of Grace by Karen Simpson.

(In the first person voice of my character Grace Johnson talking directly to the audience.)

I was not named Grace just because it matches the theme in the book. My author mom, Ms. Simpson, knew I was not named lightly. Family lore has it that along with everything else my parents fiercely argued about what I was to be named. If it had been left up to my mother’s gaudy, soapoperish taste, I would have been christened Diva Rose. A name only a stripper could love or use. My father saved me. He told my mother that he had read that people’s lives proceed from their names the way rivers proceed from their sources. The name Diva Rose was like a creek, while the name Grace was like the Nile. My daddy wanted great things for his first-born. He wanted his girl child to be able to handle responsibility. So he gave me the name of his grandmother because she was the strongest and most spiritually powerful woman he knew.

I am not fat. People, I tell you my size in the first chapter of the novel so all you folks who think I’m tipping the scales at three hundred pounds, please. My author mom should have listened to her friend Sherlonya who told her to make me a size 14 instead of 16, Sherlonya knew that just like appearing on TV, appearing in a novel makes you look heavier than you are. I’m full figured but healthy. I’m not as beautiful as my sister, Jamila but then who else is? I guess I’m ranting about this to get to what’s important because what I look like had nothing to do with the reasons why I took bullets to save the life of that racist, Mr. Gilmore.

Being able to talk to the dead isn’t all cake and candy. The ancestors remind me that I have been given the power to talk to and for them so that I might help others live better lives. This explanation is supposed to be my balm from Gilead. I would be lying though if I said this knowledge completely soothes my soul or makes me feel more whole and less wounded as I try to help other with their problems.

I’m learning to cook. My aunt Peaches is teaching me how to make my favourite dessert, Better Than Sex Cake. It’s this flourless chocolate cake slathered with caramel, topped with cumulus mounds of whipped cream, flakes of toasted coconut, and huge twigs of chocolate shavings. It’s great. Now, I don’t know if it’s better than sex… um at least not yet. Anyway, if you ask my author mom she’ll hook you up with the recipe for the cake.

I am all about my music. If you want to know about me, and why I do things, marinate on some Coltrane because for me it is as he said, “No matter what … it is with God. He is gracious and merciful. His way is through love in which we all are. It is truly – A Love Supreme.”