I'm Not Mary Sue. My Name Is Denise.

Her name is Mary Sue. She’s a time and space traveler, zipping from book to book, scene to scene, unmindful of physics. The woman is disdained throughout the literary world because Mary Sue is a thinly-veiled representation of the author. She appears when the author interjects a little too much of herself into her characterization.

I'm not Mary Sue. My name is Denise.

My life is not entertaining enough or adventurous enough to be at the center of a suspense story. My characters are so much more than I am. I try to write them stronger, smarter, braver, fiercer, sassier, bolder, more flawed, more compassionate, more sensitive, more emotional, more impulsive, more conflicted, and so much more interesting than me. None of them are perfect.

So when a reviewer assumes the thoughts and opinions of the character are my thoughts and opinions, I’m disappointed and dismayed. Actually, I’m a little bit wounded. How could someone who doesn’t know me assume I’m that shallow, mean, cold-hearted, stupid, uninformed, disrespectful, immature etc.?

One review, in particular, has gnawed at me for years. I've considered responding, but responding to reviews is considered a really bad no-no. So I've kept my angst to myself all these years.

First, let me say I have a tremendous amount of respect for law enforcement officers and I believe most of them are trying to do the job right. So... Just because I write a bad cop character doesn’t mean I think all cops are bad. Just because I write an innocent ex-convict character doesn’t mean I think all convicted felons are great guys. No, I don’t think all police officers treat victims of violence as horrible as the detective character treated my heroine.

I started writing because I didn't want to read about one more perfect hero or heroine. Human beings are not clones, and characters in books shouldn't be either.

If I didn’t write flawed characters, if all my characters were wonderful pristine people, if they all conformed to stereotype, my characters would be dull and flat, lifeless, and boring. 

Maybe I should put a disclaimer at the beginning of each book:

The opinions expressed in this book are the characters’ own and do not always reflect the views of the author.

As strange as this might sound, I don’t always agree with my characters. I don’t always approve of their behavior. I don’t always think like they do. I don’t always behave as they would. Sometimes, they say things I wouldn’t say. Sometimes, they do things I wouldn’t do. Actually, most of the time, they don’t act or react like I would at all.

I’m not my characters. I’m not Mary Sue.


Reading Through the 2018 Popsugar Reading Challenge

Image Source: Popsugar Photography
   Reading is essential to writing. Every writer began his or her career as a reader.
   In the last few years, I haven’t done as much reading as I used to do. Actually, since I began publishing my work in 2012, I haven’t made time to read anything but my own manuscripts. This year, I challenged myself to read more books from a variety of genres. I happened upon the Popsugar Challenge.

   As I go through the list, I’ll update this post with my impressions of the books I’ve read. They will be listed in reverse order with the last book I read showing at the top of the list.

Prompt 3

  The next book in a series you started – Return to Tradd Street by Karen White

  This is the fourth book in the Tradd Street series. I really enjoyed books one and two. The ending of book three was rather disappointing. Book four drags the Melanie/Jack relationship out to its ultimate happy-for-now conclusion. I wouldn’t call this a happily-ever-after sort of book. This couple still has relationship issues, which I understand continue to cause them problems in book five. I’m not sure I’ll read book five. I think I want to leave Melanie and Jack right where they are.
  White’s series is paranormal romance. Actually, this series, along with Heather Graham’s Krewe of Hunters series, inspired me to write paranormal suspense. So, as you can imagine, I enjoyed reading the haunting scenes. Interwoven with the ghost story was a nice mystery to resolve. White wrapped up both the mystery and the ghost story satisfactorily for me.
  The Tradd Street books are not by any means an intense read. If the reader can get past Melanie’s annoying personality and Jack’s obliviousness to the obvious, this book is a fun read. The book was a refreshing departure from the serious content of the previous two books I read.

  I give Return to Tradd Street four stars because the author gets a bit redundant in describing Melanie’s annoying habits and her continued lack of self-esteem. White needs to grow the woman up a bit. She’s had four books to accomplish some character growth, and Melanie is still whiny and irritating.

 Prompt 2

   A true crime story – Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt

   Midnight is not a true crime story in the accepted definition of the genre. Rather it is a real-life event portrayed in a fictionalized manner. Sometimes it seemed a bit too fictionalized and a bit too literary. The story suffered from lack of the grit of a documentary exposition of a murder. A true murder story should show blood on the page. To be fair, the book is listed on Amazon under Customs and Traditions rather than True Crime.
   The author spent the first part of the book doing in-depth character sketches of eccentric personalities who lived in Savannah, Georgia, at the time of the Danny Hansford murder. By the time part two began and the author dove into the murder and its aftermath, I had almost given up on reading anything at all about the crime. The central event in the book, the murder, was secondary to the unnamed narrator’s impressions of the people of Savannah. I wanted to know about the murder and all its gory details. I didn’t get my true crime fix.
  Midnight attempted an in-depth analysis of the socially inbred culture of a town that had for all intents and purposes isolated itself from the rest of the world. The author exposes his perceptions of the ugliness underneath the polished veneer of Savannah society, but then he glosses it over as if to say, “That’s just Savannah being Savannah.”
  I give the book four stars. Sometimes the excessive characterization bogged down the narrative. Underneath the in-depth analysis of Savannah society, there was, after all, a murder story that was dying to be told.

  Prompt 1

  A book on which a movie I’ve watched was based – Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells

  I expected so much from this book because I enjoyed the movie. Now, I look back on my movie-going experience and I wonder why I did. Maybe I don’t remember the movie quite as well as I thought I did.
  So much about this book and its characterization disturbs me. I think the author meant for the heavy premise to be softened by the antics and eccentricities of the Ya-Yas. On the surface, this would appear to be a chick book about the never-ending loyalty of a group of eccentric friends. Not so. I found it to be a book about a grown woman caving in to her demanding mother in exchange for some grudging affection. The book was more about a dysfunctional mother-daughter relationship than the power of healthy friendships. The ending left me unsatisfied.
  Possibly the most annoying thing about the book was the author’s word choices. I’m from Louisiana. I’ve lived here all my life, and I can tell you for a fact that ya’ll is not spelled yall without an apostrophe. Never has been; never will be. No self-respecting Louisianan would call the small, red crustacean a crayfish. About the only thing authentic about Louisiana was the author’s description of the unbearable humidity in...well, most of the year.
  Don’t even get me started on the contrived dialog. No one in real life banters like Sidda and her friends or Vivi and the Ya-Yas. The dialog sounded like it came straight out of an old Hollywood movie.
  I give the book two and a half stars. It kept my attention, but I grumbled a lot while I read it. I found nothing at all divine about the Ya-Yas or their secrets.
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