Saturday, December 11, 2010

Sandra Brannan: Guest Post & Giveaway!

Hello my dear readers and favorite people! I know I've been busy, and I feel a bit bad for neglecting you, so today I am proud to give you something exciting to read!

Sandra Brannan, author of In the Belly of Jonah, is here to share the development of her character Liv Bergen! For those of you who have been under a rock the past few days, I read this book and loved it so much that I've dedicated three days to promoting it! Read my review, it's true. Sandra was even sweet enough to host a giveaway that I'll post at the bottom!

Enough rambling from me though. Take it away Sandra!

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I have spent 15 years writing and re-writing stories to show the reader what my main protagonist, Liv Bergen, is all about. After writing a half dozen books in the series, my writing revealed how much I didn't like my too-kind, too-perfect protagonist and I was very tempted to bump her off and start over. (A massive reader-protest not unlike Stephen King's Misery rushed into my mind). I struggle with female protagonists who can get pummeled, beat, shot, thrown off a bridge, and run over by a tank, then take a bubble bath and head out for a new adventure the next hour. For me, that is not the definition of a strong female protagonist. Instead, strength is born in overcoming weaknesses like courage arises out of fear, not in its absence. My tendency was to create the protagonist as overly polite, strikingly beautiful, and overwhelmingly good to counter balance some of the tough, manly female protagonists that arose from the readers demanding strong female protagonists. The balance is not at all easy for writers. Strong male protagonists are much easier to create, in my opinion.

So after several failed attempts, I decided to start over with my main protagonist and create someone the readers could love. First, I had to completely change her name. Second, I had to fight the urge to make Liv's career easy and appealing to readers and instead write about what I know. Finally, I had to make Liv real and believable, while letting her lead the reader through a world of suspended disbelief.

Liv Bergen is a culmination of everything I love about the strong women I've met in my lifetime. As my sister once told me, I have a tendency to dip the tip of my paintbrush into several different pots to paint the characters in my book. What she so eloquently described is how I use what I observe about people to create fictional characters. Despite what people believe, Liv Bergen was not molded after any individual I know. What I tell readers who try to assign real names to my fictional characters is that if you like the character, then of course, it's you. If not, the fictional character is certainly not you.

My favorite one-word description of Liv would be balanced. She's strong, yet feminine. She's intelligent, yet goofy. She's determined, yet personable. She's fearless and funny. She has strong moral boundaries, yet struggles to stay within them. She may be capable of managing a mine, but she certainly never pretends to have all the answers, particularly in her spirituality and with intimate relationships. She's an indomitable darling who knows who she is. And who she isn't.

The highest compliment a reader could pay to Liv Bergen would be that she doesn't have a phony bone in her body. Or better yet, Liv is someone to go have a beer with. A promise to you readers, I'll stop writing when you tire of Liv or when she continually falls short of your mark as a strong female protagonist as long as you keep your honest feedback and comments coming my way to

A toast to Liv... may you be around for a long time in my mind's eye and in reader's hearts!

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Isn't she wonderful?

Well Sandra and her character Liv are both equally wonderful actually! You should definitely give this book a read if I haven't convinced you already.

That being said, Sandra Brannan was sweet enough to offer up a copy of the book to one lucky winner!!!

* Be a follower of my blog! Doesn't matter how, just let me know in your comment.
* Leave a meaningful comment for Sandra complete with your email address.
* Live in the U.S. (Don't worry my International friends I have a giveaway for you soon.)

Giveaway ends December 31st at 11:00 pm PST.

For extra entries:
* Comment on my review of In the Belly of Jonah for one extra entry.
* Comment on Sandra's Q&A post for one extra entry.
* Spread the word on Twitter, Facebook or any other site for one extra entry.


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