Wednesday, October 6, 2010

compelling characters

So you write a synopsis (or not). Do some research. Scribble snatches of dialogue and plot points. You're ready to meet your characters. You know just when they come on the page and why. Writing is so easy, right?

NEVER! Or so our beloved John Thornton shouted during that riveting balcony scene in North & South:) And I'm inclined to say the same. Writing is full of surprises, twists, and turns, or should be. And you have to fall in love with your characters or your readers most assuredly won't either.

I've been working on The Colonel's Lady in the mornings and The Ballantyne Legacy in the afternoons. Still don't have a title for that first book and wish you could help me:) It's kind of like having a baby and then not knowing what to call it ~ a colonial custom. Often parents back then waited several months or more to name an infant for fear it wouldn't live. I don't like having a nameless book any more than having a nameless baby. But the right title hasn't come to me yet. However, new characters are clamoring to be noticed and I'm a bit intrigued and amazed by who's appearing. They simply aren't in the script/synopsis:)

So far we have...

*a John Thornton type hero

*two feuding sisters

*a horse named Half-Penny

*Philadelphia Quakers

*a plantation, a few sheep, a meddling housekeeper, a devoted dog...

This post by one of my favorite authors, Susan Meissner, is so helpful and thought-provoking. It helped me change my new heroine's liabilities into possibilities, even assets.

Currently I'm in the middle of Elizabeth Gaskell's North & South which is filled with memorable characters that leap off the page and make a lasting impression.

What memorable characters are center stage in your own writing or the book you have in hand?


  1. Where do you find those lovely photos?

    The new story sounds intriguing.

    The title for me is almost always the last thing- if at all! I haaate naming things, because I am so terrible at it. I did finally title my WIP: Releasing Yesterday. We shall see won't we?


  2. I'm itching to get back to Francine River's newest book. Haven't been able to pick up a copy yet.

    And of course your new book! It IS just like being pregnant, isn't it? Everyone asks how much longer you have, forgetting they asked you that same question the last time they saw you at church.

    And the week before that. And the week before that. So I won't ask. But I sure wish it were soon. :)

  3. My characters truly make the angst of writing worth it. Susan rocks btw.

    I'm enjoying writing about a motley crew right now and trying my hand at a new style.

    Hope that title nestles in your brain really soon.
    ~ Wendy

  4. These photos are so stunning! I cant wait to meet your characters. Making titles can some times be so tricky! I remember how fun it was to try to think of quick snappy and clever titles for newspaper stories. I once had a photo and a title and then had to write a story around that, haha. I ended up winning an AP award for that photo though!

    I am pleased to tell you that I have slowly started working on a little story in my fleeting free time. I had to ditch the one I've been playing with for years (for now any way) it was just sinking into a bog of too many years and half forgotten ideas ;) my latest one is inspired by an old house here in town...a ghost story involving the oil boom years, an old prairie mansion and of course a ghost ;) Its more YA because I love seeing stories through a kid's eyes. Hm, after devulging all this i need to get writing, dont I? lol....

  5. Hey Laura!
    So sorry about your computer and I pray that this new system isn't giving you any problems, and most importantly, that all your book files are intact! I hate change when it comes to my computer- you know exactly where everything is and just what to click and where to find all your folders, and then all of a sudden... you're like a little kid in the mall who can't find their mommy. Humph. Anyway, I'm just happy you're back :D

    The pictures in this post are GORGEOUS! What is it about period costumes that make my heart flutter (and, secretly wish they were in style... again!) LOL!? The list you have so far is most interesting and I can't wait to see how you're gonna piece it all together! Praying for you as you write, revise, and pick a name! A nameless baby simply won't due ;) But, I'm sure the Lord has something WONDERFUL already picked out, and He will bring it to you in His perfect time :)

    And, CONGRATULATIONS on the INSPY!!! Lael's story was an will forever be a masterpiece :) I'm praying for you!!

    Amanda Stanley

  6. That was a great post by Susan Meissner. I ended up having that happen quite by accident with a character in Kindred. What I saw as a serious weakness in a secondary character turned out to be a strength, and when I realized it, that character blossomed into something I never expected--sort of a secondary heroine--and ended up forcing me to change the end of the novel.

    I'm reading A Vision of Light by Judith Merkle Riley. She recently passed away, and since I'd never read one of her books, started with this one. Her medieval character Margaret is fast becoming memorable!

    Happy writing, Laura. Hope you are liking the new laptop. :)

  7. PS: I called The Quiet in the Land "Willa" for a long time before a suitable title revealed itself. I still think of it as "Willa" and probably always will.

  8. I've at given my characters in my own novel a much needed rest...from me. I'm sure that I entirely wore them out. And now I don't know what to do with myself.
    I've filled the time by reading 3 novels of late. Karen Witemyers characters showed me how well she writes. What wonderful stories!
    I do have many other characters in draft that are begging to come to the forefront and let me polish up their stories. I'm praying about who will get that honor!

    I'd love to help you out with your book title - that's one of my favorite things to do! Do you have your short synopsis ready to share?

    I've yet to claim my reward of watching the North & South ~ I can almost here them calling out to me from beyond to hurry up so I can see what I've been missing.
    I love that picture of "Tess" - one of the most haunting movies I've seen.

  9. Oh, I cannot wait to hear more about The Ballantyne books! And Im anxiously awaiting the reveal of the cover for TCL. :)

  10. Aaaaarggghhhh!!!! I'm 23 on the hold list for North & South. By the time I get it you will all have moved on to something new and glorious! LOL.

    I'm reading Blessings by Kim Vogel Sawyer right now and Trina is a very memorable character. I think it's because the desires of her heart are at such odds with her religion...and yet those desires are honorable and beautiful, born of a God-given talent. And she's so pulled. I can't begin to figure out how Kim will resolve everything.

    And Laura, the love you have for your characters shines in your work -- I think that might just be your secret ingredient.

  11. Laura, was just finishing getting ready to "pre-post" your interview. Its neat every time I've reread these interviews, the Lord has showed me something new.

    I can't wait to hear your title! I love your pictures. They start to bring your stories a "backbone" in my mind, like I can see a small part taking shape and makes me feel even more excited for The Colonel's Lady. And you know, I'm so excited you are setting in my neck of the woods, well sort of.

    At least in my short stories, the title always seemed to takeover from a key quote. Its interesting, I'll bet we all have a different take on it.

    Tess!! So hauntingly beautiful but when I finished it in college I wanted to throw the book across the room.

  12. Oh, you just had to mention that balcony scene, didn't you? ;) *sigh* I could just swoon! Oh, Thornton...

    Anyway, your new series sounds fabulous, and it must be so exciting to see the story begin to unfold. :) I love hearing more about it!

    As far as characters in my own story, I really, really want to get back to them! I've been so busy lately that I haven't written anything new, and I miss my story. :(

    Since I'm in the middle of my WIP, I'm so excited to have the characters in a place that I love and that is so intriguing (geographically speaking, and maybe metaphorically speaking!). I'm so excited about all of the new characters that have made an appearance, each with their own story and background. I confess that the introduction of a second love interest for my protagonist has certainly added a lot for me to think about... ;)

    While basic ideas and hopes for a manuscript seem to stay the same, it's so much fun and so thought-provoking to see where a story might go without knowing for sure all of the details. And even details or general ideas that used to be "set in stone" change sometimes, and I love watching my story grow. I hope God will guide me and help me to seek His will for this story, because ultimately it's about how He wants to use it. :) I've certainly fallen in love with it!

    I'm sorry I went off on such a tangent, and I'm also sorry if half of it (or more!) doesn't make sense... Just sharing my random thoughts! ;)


  13. Casey,
    Aren't these pics gorgeous!? I can say that because I can't take any credit ~ they're from Flickr! and Google Images. If they're not copyrighted, they're free for the sharing:)

    I LOVE your title ~ so evocative and almost haunting! And you think you can't cook them up?! It tells me something about the theme of your work (forgiveness, regrets...?) Very memorable.

    Hoping I can be as creative with this one of mine. I don't like calling it TBL as that sounds so formal though it is the series title, or so I think:)

  14. Sally,
    I just saw Francine's book in Walmart last week and it's gone this week. Knew I should have nabbed it then.

    I'm chuckling about folks asking and forgetting. That does happen a whole lot. And now I'm forgetting just what I written in the books I've signed for those at church, hoping I've not repeated the same tired things over and over again...

    Hope this is a stellar writing/reading/editing day for you!

  15. Wendy,
    YES, Susan ROCKS! She does an amazing job of blending past and present in her books. I need to read her latest. Love that you're trying a new style and writing about such interesting characters. They do sound intriguing. I love that the simple fact that we write and are willng to experiment with our writing leads us to become better writers. We never stop learning and growing. Praying God's best for you and your writing today!

  16. Heather,
    Your WIP sounds so intriguing! All the right elements ~ love history with a bit of mystery:) Your journalism background will come in handy. I bet your writing is really tight and succinct because of it. And I bet you can whip up a good title. Let me know what you decide to name this story. I love YA so am thrilled it's that!!

  17. Amanda,
    SO TRUE! I just felt lost when my computer crashed. I told an author friend it felt like my house had burned down. Thankfully, and surely because of your prayers, they were able to retrieve the book files off the harddrive so nothing was lost (except my peace of mind in the process). I had saved on a flash drive and sent to another account but I never trust those things... So now have a new system and am happy to work out the kinks and be back to work and blogging! Bless you for your thoughts and prayers. They mean so much!

    Thanks so much for the INSPY congrats. Will be fun to see what the judges think though I have a feeling Francine will take all:) It's a privilege to even be listed on the same page with her!

    I've been praying for you and your family, especially your mom. Hope those kleenex boxes and doctors visits are a thing of the past and that you've stayed healthy! I know they loved your nursing! That's such a blessing. Will continue to pray till you tell me to stop:)

    As for these incredible photos, they make me sigh, mostly because of what you said ~ wishing they were back in style again. We've certainly lost a great deal of class and femininity since then. I don't think I'd even mind a corset if I could have some of these gowns and bonnets, etc.

    Bless you, Amanda!

  18. Thank you Laura, but it did take FOREVER before I found it. And it was kind of a combination of another title and words I was reading at the time in another book.

    I am such a doofus. I didn't realize when I wrote that last comment you ALREADY told us about this story, so it sounds more than intriguing, but something I can't wait to get my hands on. And the journey to get it will be even sweeter since I get to "see" you work through it. I guess that is what I get for being in such a hurry when I left my last comment. :) I do remember now...

    Off to my edits, but I had to stop by first, just love visiting here, like home away from home... :)

  19. Lori,
    Interesting about that Kindred character. That reinforces my belief that these imaginary story people of ours really do have a life of their own! I bet your ending is all the better for it.

    I had Susan as a teacher in Indy and learned that she's not only a great writer. Teaching is not something I could ever aspire to but she made it look so easy, even when her powerpoint failed.

    About Willa, whose name I love, BTW... Recently I was reading in the Psalms and came across a verse that said verbatim, "the quiet in the land." Of course I immediately thought of you (and Willa) and was wondering if you'd taken the title from this or is it something you dreamed up? I love the title of Kindred and feel it so fits the story, or what I've heard about it.

    I think in time the right title will come to me ~ only to be changed by the titling team:)

  20. Different times when I'm reading my Bible I will run across phrases that are the titles of the Cheney Duvall, M.D. series by Gilbert and Lynn Morris. Wonderful series by the way! Besides fabulous real-life characters with their own, individual personalities, the authors also include real people from history that meet the book characters. Almost all the books take place in different places around the U.S. Some of the cover photos leave alot to be desired, but the content is great. If anyone reads them make sure you read them in order. You don't want any surprises to be spoiled. The books aren't in print anymore, but by all means see if you can get them from your library. My eldest sister says the first book in the series is her second least favorite, so if you don't care for the first one read on anyway. I loved the first one though.

  21. Carla,
    So thankful your deadline has passed and you have time for the little pleasures of life again like good books and movies. I think we were cross-posting yesterday as I left that comment about N&S for you:) You are in for such a wonderful treat - better than dessert:) Just close your eyes during that fight scene in the factory, episode one. There's no more of that later on. And I know you'll be watching reruns of the rest:) Can't wait to see what you think!

    And I'd love to have you help me with a title. I do have a synopsis and will dig that up:) Just let me get these edits in first. I bet you are a great titler!

    So very happy you are back online. I love your blog and sure miss you when you're away!

  22. Kav,
    I will NEVER move beyond N&S and will be right here if you want to talk about it ~ at length, even:) Lorna called me this morning as I'd posted so many N&S links on my FB page:) She told me to get back to work! LOL!

    And that is one of the nicest things anyone has ever said to me - that my love for my characters comes through. Thanks so much for that.

    I'm so intrigued with Trina. You'd be a great back cover copy writer!!

  23. Julia,
    YES! I had the same reaction to Tess and think I actually threw my book in the trash back in college! I had a similar reaction to the film. She looks so unusual in this photo - almost like I imagine Morrow's grown daughter would look with mixed-blood features. Rosebud, that is.

    So thrilled you are doing this series on your blog this week. I am still having trouble with my internet connection but will wander over shortly as I think Casey is there today:) I've also gleaned a great deal from reading each interview though I was offline Monday when your first guest posted.

    You said something so important about the title. I think it should come from the book itself and a quote would be wonderful. I've been combing the Psalms and Isaiah for the right title without luck. But I know something will come to mind. Praying about it, too. Seems like such a small thing but it's dear to my heart.

  24. Ruth,
    Do I dare say it's like a Lady Julia cover?! That's a HUGE hint and spoiler:) I'm so excited to hear your impressions. Can't wait to post!! Should be any day. Revell has been on a cover roll lately as Lorna just rec'd hers as did Sarah Sundin. JOY! Thanks for sharing the excitement. Nothing like a good cover reveal to make one tingle with anticipation:)

  25. Ruth,
    BTW, have you seen Dee R's blog? Quite interesting!

  26. Amber,
    You said the MAGIC words ~ you've fallen in love with it! As Kav said, that will shine through:) I really enjoy hearing about your WIP. And I've found with my own work that a 2nd love interest adds just the needed spice and tension to keep things rolling. Keeps that reader on their emotional toes:)

    Your motivation to write as the Lord wants is so KEY. He will guide you and honor that desire of your heart. Bless you for putting him first. And don't despair about not having as much time as you want for your WIP. Sometimes it's a huge help to just let the story simmer. You'll find yourself thinking it about it subconsciously while you do other things, like sleep ~ or in class:) I carried my stories around in my backpack and briefcase for years as I did other things.

    Thanks SO much for taking time here. Your comments bless me and I know they bless others!

  27. Casey, Such lovely words ~ home away from home. I so hope you feel that way!

    Hearing it took FOREVER to find that title gives me hope. I think I'll have to write this entire book before it jumps out at me. When it does, I'll be sure to share that here. And don't worry ~ I never even thought about your comments about this series! I haven't posted very much about it till now, just the tag line...Two sisters, one man. When he chooses the one will the other destroy their love? And I can't even take any credit for it. THAT stellar tease came from the brain of Lorna "Ms. Making Waves" Seilstad!!

  28. Sylvia,
    I even love the name, Cheney Duvall:) And I'm a Morris fan. Some of his books are really good and this series sounds like it's among them. Our library does carry a lot of his titles ~ all of the House of Winslow series, if you can believe that! I forget how many books comprised that particular series. I read one or two to see how he developed the series prior to proposing my own to Revell, etc.

    And I LOVE that your sister kept reading even though she didn't like the 2nd book. I have a favorite CBA author but didn't care for her last book. However, I loved the book prior. That said, I can't wait till her next one. And I hope readers will keep reading mine even if one doesn't strike a chord with them. I'm still puzzling over the aspect of how not all books are created equal and you can have favorites and those you can put down with another thought.

    Bless you for the Morris tip!

  29. Laura ~ thank you for working so hard to bring such wonderful characters and stories to life! I know you labour over everything for months and months, that we can read in a few hours or so ;-)

    You and your words are a blessing! Just wanted to say that!


  30. Laura, that verse is where I got the title. I remember how excited I was the day I read it and those words just leapt out at me. "The Quiet in the Land" is what my characters want to be, at the end of the Revolutionary War. The title also speaks to certain individuals who at the time of the story have no voice of their own, those whose cause others must take up for them. Who can say if the title will stick though, when such things (if such things) are one day out of my hands.

  31. Laura, thank you so very much for your prayers, my friend :) You are so sweet! Praising the Lord that my family is feeling much better now. My mom is still experiencing some pain from the muscles she pulled in her chest and back from all that coughing, but is doing much better. I know the Lord heard the prayers of all my dear friends :)

    And, for the record, I'm sure Francine is honored to be listed along side you, as well!! In fact, I'm sure they all are :) But, I'm praying for you ;)

    Thank you, again!!

    Amanda Stanley

  32. YAY!!! Thanks to Renee and Michelle, I just found out that "The Colonel's Lady" is now up on Goodreads!!! Granted the cover isn't up yet, but it made me smile and filled my heart with JOY just seeing the name there :D

    So, TCL is now officially on my "to-read" list!!!!!!!!

    Amanda Stanley

  33. Oh Amanda! WOW ~ THRILLED! She's out at last:) I'm going over right this minute... Bless u, bless u, bless u!

  34. Rel, You are so thoughtful. Thanks so much. It does amaze me that a book can be read in so little time and yet it does take years or months of an author's life. Kind of like that holiday dinner that is devoured in 15 minutes and you're left thinking - how about hot dogs next year?!

    Hope you're doing well and enjoying edging toward summer:) Still thinking about St. Loo!

  35. Amanda, So thankful your mom is much better. I can just imagine how sore that makes her post-cough recovery. Been there and no fun at all. Praying for a healthy winter for all of us here.

  36. Lori,
    It's so interesting to think of those voiceless characters finding a voice at last. Love when that comes together. And now I can mark that Scripture as Lori's Scripture:)

  37. Laura, when I was talking about the Cheney Duvall, M.D. series I didn't mention that even though both Gilbert and Lynn Morris' names are on the covers it is my understanding that they only co-wrote book one and part of book two. Lynn booted her daddy out of the picture and wrote the rest of the series herself! I thought that was kind of funny. There's also a three-book follow-up series about the same characters. I so wish they would add more books to that second series. I think they should get Revell to purchase the series, slap some beautiful post-civil war covers on the books and re-issue the series. They would make a beautiful TV drama series.

  38. I am a little late to the party.;) Welcome back Laura, I'm very glad changing to a new computer went well for you!

    NaNoWriMo is coming up, and I'm still planning to write. I think I've decided to put my Russian idea on hold for a bit though. The characters I created when Amber had the county fair week are still very much on my mind. Even with that short scene I created an entire backstory for them, and my mind seems to be full of that story. I'm thinking that's what I'm going to write.

    As for books I'm reading, I read one earlier to day which kept me guessing until the end. It's called The Canterbury Papers, and it's a historical suspense novel written by Judith Koll Healey. The main character Alais, is a French princess during the time of Eleanor of Aquitaine. I'm thinking I'll review it sometime during the next few days.

    I must say I am intrigued to read more about the cover of TCL. A little like the Lady Julia covers. I can't wait to see it!

  39. Michelle,
    I was wondering where you were:) Thanks so much for checking in as you're missed when you don't! Your current read sounds so interesting. You are like me in that you read outside the CBA and love history, bios, etc. It's truly a bibliophile's smorgasboard out there and I tell my boys it's a sin to be bored when you can read!

    Yes, my computer woes are over for awhile, or so I hope. Few things are as stressful to me as that. I know you can relate as yours are tied to your work also.

    Revell seems to be going in an entirely new cover direction and I hope you like TCL when I post. Should be soon as the book, sans cover, just popped up on Amazon and Goodreads and other places yesterday. KUDOS to you and Renee and Amanda for letting me know here:) I've been wondering when it would happen and was curious about the release date.

    NNWM is coming up SOON. I keep forgetting it's October so less than a month now. I look forward to hearing about your progress and think it's great that you got a jumpstart over at Amber's blog. That sure makes things worthwhile. Keep that Russian story close as that sounds so intriguing! For another time like you alluded to. Hope you have a wonderful weekend. My mom said it's supposed to be beautiful there.

  40. Sylvia,
    So interesting about Gilbert and his daughter! I somehow thought that was his wife! Now I'm even more intrigued:) I always hate when books go out of print. I know the author must feel the same.
    That would be great if Revell or one of the major pubs would repackage and redo the cover art. I bet they would sell well as he's so popular. I don't know if you ever read his series he co-authored with Aaron Carver, a friend of mine. They start in the 18th-c. and are similar to The Frontiersman's Daughter. Bethany House put them out in the 90's. I have them on my shelf but have only read the first in the series. They really know their history.

    And many, many thanks to you for finding and sharing that heavenly link to the North&South soundtrack!! I am forever in your debt!

  41. LOL Laura, I know what you mean. :) Pepper had to come up with my tag. I turn to her when I need something like that. She is just a whiz at names, titles, idea, you name, she can do it! :)

  42. Laura, I just saw this website for a tea room and thought of your new book coming out. The tea room is in KY.

  43. Ohhhh the Cheney Duvall series was one of the first CF series' that I ever read and is still one of my favorites! I agree that those books need to be made into a tv show but I kinda think people might think it would be a knock off of Dr. Quinn.

    LOL Amanda you're welcome, I stalk all the book sites looking for new releases and was jumping up and down when I saw The Colonel's all they need to do is post Julie Lessman's next book LOL!

    Ahhh Laura I can't wait for that cover.....the suspense is killing me!!!

    I hope your computer issues have been "bytes" sometimes :-P

    XOXO~ Renee

  44. Sylvia,
    You always amaze me!! Did you see their menu and all those teas?! Wincester isn't far from my home in Lexington/Berea. Sigh. It would be a wonderful place to hold a book launch party for TCL! I might just have to think on that awhile. And you get all the credit:)

  45. Renee,
    You are So right - bytes, indeed:) You and I have been through the ringer the last couple of weeks!

    I bet you or Rel or Sylvia will find TCL cover first. I think it's usually up on the Revell site (wonder how Jules tracks hers down?) but I'm thinking you find hers first, Renee!

    If you liked the CD series, I know I will. BTW, I just was involved in a case of mistaken identity over on Julia's blog and met your twin, also named Renee:) What a sweetheart! Only I thought it was YOU! And so I posted this long comment that only you and I would really understand and then thankfully she set me straight:)

    Here's hoping those covers pop up soon - mine, Lorna's, Sarah's, and Julies'!

  46. Between Pepper and Lorna, we're covered, Casey:) Whew! Lorna does killer one sheets, too.

  47. Uh well the Revell site doesn't even have TCL up yet for preorder how does Amazon beat the publisher?! Oh my!

    Hahaha I "met" another Renee a few weeks back on my blog who has the same first AND middle name as I do...I wonder if that's who you were chatting with? :-P I'll have to check that out!

    BTW I think Revell is doing an awesome job with their covers lately. Did they get new cover people? LOL not that they weren't most excellent covers before but they just seem "extra" nice this year.

    XOXO~ Renee

  48. Renee,
    You'd think the author would know the protocol to the cover program, huh?! I'll admit I don't have a clue but am so thankful to you readers who are one step ahead of me oftentimes. That said, I'd better go do a google alert on TCL. I don't know why it's up on Amazon or GR sites first. But I'd love to find out:)

    Yes, Revell has done an outstanding job this year esp. with cover art. They seem to be in a new trend as they follow the market very closely. All of our cover models are real people which is so intriguing to me. I'd love to meet my 3 models as they are all so different. Can't wait to post!!!!
    xoxoxoxoxo, etc:)

  49. I thought I would look up online reviews for the tea room called The Colonel's Lady in KY. Since I've never been there I couldn't say if it has good food and service among other things. Here's the review page for it with very good five-star reviews. Most of these are from this year so I know it's current.

  50. A tea house in Winchester called The Colonel's Lady! Wow, that's just perfect. I noticed their food prices were very reasonable. Not to mention they have my favorite, a chicken salad sandwich. If you were to decide to do something there, you know I'd be there, with bells on as my mom would say.

    I am now the proud owner of a Penguin Classics edition of North and South!!! I can't wait to start reading it. I had no problems finding it at Barnes and Noble. They had the DVD too. I'm asking my parents to buy it as a Christmas present. I'm thinking I'll mention to my mom tomorrow that Barnes and Noble has it. My parents are coming to visit tomorrow.

    I also bought Deanna Raybourn's new book. Can't wait to start it either.

    Alas, I must clean my apartment though, so no more reading for me tonight. :(

  51. Sylvia, You always go the extra mile and I can't thank you enough!! I really am going to consider having a book launch here next August as that's when TCL is released. I'll let you know what happens:) Of course it all depends on the owner and if they like that sort of thing. But it sounds like a perfect match to me! I'm thinking you don't live in KY but if you do...

  52. Oh Michelle, Doesn't it sound like FUN?! Something to pray about, at least, before plunging into book launch plans. You know what I'd love ~ being there in period costume! We just have to figure out how to get Amanda out of the east and Sylvia out of wherever though Regina and others are within driving distance:) I chuckled about that chicken salad. My favorite, too!! When I can I get Sam's Club back there. Yum. Oh my...

    My house needs cleaning, too. Maybe you can do it real quick and get to reading! The Dee book sounds wonderful as does our beloved N&S. It's very different and is not a quick read, that's for sure. But RICH. Can't wait to hear what you think.

    Happy weekend to you!