Sometimes a writer creates a story around a character whom she loves or admires.  We really have to like our protagonists since we spend so much time with them; if they become weak, whiny or cliched, we just may grow to hate them.  And it’s hard to write a story around a character you can’t stand.  There has to be some redeeming value.

But our antagonists. . .well, that’s a different story altogether. We can hate those characters.  They’re supposed to be nasty, shallow and/or dark, and so we can justify making them do horrible things.

When I begin writing FEARLESS, I already knew a lot about Tasmyn. She’s smart and funny, insightful and kind.  Her biggest flaw at the beginning of the series–and one she is just beginning to overcome by the end of the first book–is insecurity about herself and fear of her own abilities. Tasmyn started out as a mix of people I know, and yet she evolved into a completely different person, one with her own flaws and strengths.  But still. . .I wasn’t necessarily surprised by her choices, by who she is.

Nell, on the other hand, was an utter shock.  In my mind, she was devious, evil and completely without any hope of redemption.  But as I begin to write the story, gradually I realized that Nell had. . .depth. She had a history.  When I found out why she behaved the way she did, I began to understand her.  I didn’t like her actions, and I knew she was making bad choices.  But the more I wrote, the clearer she became.  And pretty soon, I knew that Nell’s story is going to eventually transcend the King series.  She has more to say, and she is going to need to say it in a setting beyond King.

So someday, Nell will tell her story.  In the meantime, though, I hope you’ll enjoy meeting Nell while she’s still in King.

Download FEARLESS!

If you haven’t done it yet. . .run right over to   amazon.com and download FEARLESS .  It’s easy to do, and you can read the book even if you don’t own a Kindle.  Just download the FREE Kindle reader onto your tablet, laptop, desktop. . even your smart phone!

And once you download the reader, you’ll be able to access a whole new world of e-books. . .not to mention (eventually) the entire KING series. (BREATHLESS will be available in March.)

Tasmyn’s Tunes

Writing is often a solitary occupation.  When the voices are either too loud or not quite clear enough, sometimes music is a distraction or an inspiration.   Some lyrics can turn a story in a completely different direction.

The right music can give me incredible insight into my characters and their motivation. During the editing and revision process, listening to my original playlist reminds me why the plot line moved in a certain direction.

Most of my characters are also passionate about their music. Tasmyn listens to alt-rock, and her favorite bands, not surprisingly, are mine as well.  Michael likes contemporary country music, although when he drives, the original AM radio in his Mustang only plays oldies.  Tas tolerates his choices only because she loves him, but she’s trying to lure him into liking some of her favorite groups.

Nell is very selective in her musical tastes. She keeps up with the pop scene, but in reality, she loves classical music.  Her mother used to play soaring operas and introduced her daughter to Tchaikovski and Bach.  Nell listens to Dvorak’s The Noon Witch every night as she goes to sleep.  It was her mother’s favorite symphony.

If you want to know what particular songs inspired the action in FEARLESS, go to the playlist page and check it out.


King: A Most Bewitching Town

Most of us, when picturing central Florida, think of theme parks and tourists.  But if you drive a little off the beaten track, you’ll find small towns and forests, citrus groves that stretch between the many lakes that dot the landscape. . .and maybe even some magic that doesn’t involve a certain mouse.

Over 150 years ago, a man named Gravis King first gazed upon the untouched land that lay somewhere between the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico.  The railroad hadn’t quite reached this part of the country yet; King was on horseback when he first picked his way down a dirt trail through pine and palm trees.  It looked wild, rough.  A lesser man might have turned back and searched among the most hospitable coastal towns.

But Gravis was not a lesser man.  He had spent the last decade leading an eccentric group of performers around the country entertaining crowds.  King Carnival was the most famous traveling band of misfits in the South.

Times were changing, though.  A new religious fervor was rising, and the hamlets that had welcomed King Carnival for years now turned them away.  They might have considered most of these troupes harmless, but there was just something. . .different. . about King and his people.

For one thing, the men and women in King’s little carnie family were just a little too good at what they did.  People who saw the performers came away unsettled, as though they’d lost chunks of time, done things that were completely out of character.

And then there was Sarah.  The fortuneteller was the star of the show.  She was beautiful in an exotic way, and there were whispers that Gravis King had rescued her from some great peril in the mountains of Romania. Whatever the truth, Sarah was intensely loyal to King. Her tent was the most popular spot at the carnival at every stop, as her predictions were uncannily accurate.

It was what happened at night, after the carnival closed, that eventually caused the trouble. Men who had visited Sarah’s tent during the day, with their families, often crept back at night, summoned by her beauty and mystery. Sarah claimed that she only gave these men advice and her own secret homegrown remedies, but the women scoffed at that.  Their agitation and indignation led more and more villages to ban King Carnival.

And that was why Gravis King found himself sitting the middle of Florida, looking for a large patch of land.  He had an idea that this might be it, the perfect spot to make a new home for his large and unusual family.

Within the next six months, the King Carnival no longer existed.  Instead, the men and women who had a year before dazzled audiences now cleared land and built houses.  They laid out a town, a place where they could live together in peace.

Over the ensuing years, King grew.  People beyond the original carnival folk began moving into town.  King lived long enough to see his town flourish as well as to make sure that the carnie families would always control the destiny of their unique community. His charter, which assigned power and ownership to his people and their descendants, can still be seen on display in Town Hall.

Most of the people who live in King today treat their history with an indulgent whimsy.  They use the old stories to draw tourists to the town, bringing in much-needed revenue. Some of the descendants of the carnie families have businesses that play on their ancestors’ talents.

But there is another element as well. . .women and men who still ply the family trade in a less obvious way.  Nobody talks about it, but every once in a while, something odd happens. A circle is burned into the ground in the forest. Kids run home to report seeing a group of women chanting around a roaring fire.  In any conflict between an original family and one of the newcomers, it’s the newer resident who loses. People who have lived in King for any length of time understand this reality.

Still, King is a lovely little town. You should come down for a visit. Stay in the Bearded Lady, a bed and breakfast run by that performer’s great-great grandchildren.  Eat at the Sword Swallower, an exclusive restaurant owned by–well, you get the picture.

Just be careful of what questions you ask.  And don’t go wandering in the woods after dark.