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Erika Hayes, Author – Write like a reader, read like a writer and edit like a beast!

Stephanie Plum

Photo Credit: Amazon

Yes! We are down to #2 of Favorite Female Characters and of course, Janet Evanovich’s wildly popular books would make the cut.  Today, we discuss the wonderfully written, Stephanie Plum.

The Plum Series is still growing but from the very beginning, these books are a hit.

Character Type: Stephanie Plum is unique.  The book is written from her Point of View which allows the reader to get right inside her head.  Which is magical because she often says things the readers are thinking.

Why we love Stephanie Plum – Well besides the fact that she is very aware of her own personal flaws she has a great sense of humor about it!  She has a life that I think most women secretly wish they had.  Not one but two terrifically sexy men in her life.  I do love that she is not willing to cross over.  When she is with Morelli, she is not willing to mess around with Ranger or Diesel (later in the series).  She does, however, admit the temptation. The way she explains the many crazy situations she gets herself in as a bonds-woman.

Character Arc/Development:  Stephanie is not a quick character arc.  She is obstinately unwilling to change even though she is aware she needs to make better life choices.  She does over time learn to settle into a relationship with Morelli and befriends Lula a hilarious side-kick. We enjoy the antics of Gramma Mauser and see where the Stephanie gets some of her spunk.  Each novel focuses on one or a few bond skippers that eventually take her on some grand adventures.   The car trouble Stephanie seems to always have is a great mechanic the author uses to keep the reader endeared to Stephanie.

The Stephanie Plum books are a great example of writing humor and mystery cross-over.  Ms. Evanovich is a master of the first person POV and should be studied by anyone that is considering this POV.


Photo Credit: Television Portrayal of Rizzoli & Isles

Oh boy, Jane Rizzoli.  Talk about a firecracker.  This character was so good that a television series was made about and Dr. Isles.  Interestingly, the books differ from the television series.  Both of which are very enjoyable.  The author Tess Gerritsen wrote a fabulous character in Jane Rizzoli and Maura Isles which is later used to create the television drama “Rizzoli & Isles”.

Character Type: Over the top cop!  She is the best there is.

What’s to love about Jane Rizzoli – Honestly, she is smart strong and determined and a little socially awkward.  She needs advice from Dr. Isles the ME that works with her on cases and soon develops a nice friendship.   Jane Rizzoli in the television series is much more predominant than in the books.  In the books, Isles plays a much bigger role.  What we love about Jane is her drive.  This cop takes no guff from anyone. She is a great model of female strength in a male-dominated career.

Character Arc/Development:  In the books, we see that the friendships and hard work of Rizzoli make her a better cop.  She softens a bit around her eventual friend Mirya Isles. As the series continues (books) Jane Rizzoli begins to soften a bit especially to a special Agent involved in the second book. Eventually, the character arc takes Rizzoli to a whole new place that leaves her vulnerable to possible attacks from her many foes.

Don’t expect the books and television series to be alike, they are not.  However, the books and the television episodes do develop Jane Rizzoli in a different way and it is interesting to watch how the character is portrayed differently on screen. Finding sometimes disappointment at the way they differ was also interesting to experience. Read the books first.

Get the first book here: The Surgeon

Redeeming Love

Photo Credit: Amazon

Number four on the FFC list is Angel (Hosea) from the book Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers.  This is a powerful love story set in 1850, California Gold Country.

Character Type: Rebellious, strong-willed woman Angel has lived a hard life.

What’s to love about Angel: She has learned to take care of herself and refuses to be forced into doing anything more against her will.  On the outside, she determined to not show any kind of weakness, but inside she is searching for love that is true and pure. This character is one that breaks the reader’s heart.  The trials and struggles that she must face before she realizes that the Michael loves her for her, not for anything more will pull at the heart strings.  We love Angel because she is more than a memorable character, she someone everyone can identify with.  Taken from the Bible the story of Hosea and the struggles with his wife Gomer.  You can’t help but enjoy watching love slowly and timidly come to pass.

Character Arc and Development: This book starts out with a broken woman and a determined man.  The character arc of Angel is one that is frustration in some ways.  She like Gomer, can’t seem to accept the love given to her.  Michael is a godly man that never once forces Angel to do anything she isn’t comfortable with.  It is his love that helps Angel change and develops into the character we are rooting for all along.

This book made it on the list because it leaves a mark.  It is a book that you never forget.  Once you read it, you think back on it several times.  The reader becomes so engaged in the deep characters that they truly invest in the dream of Angel to know real love.  It will be a highly recommend for people you know.  It is not just a romance.  In fact, it makes me laugh because if you didn’t know it was a retelling of the book of Hosea in the Bible, many wouldn’t figure that out.  A well-written character, giving Gomer a voice. Interestingly the book focuses on the woman of this biblical story, not the man.

Grab your copy of this book here: Redeeming Love


Photo Credit:

FFC= Favorite Female Characters.  This week we are focusing on favorite female characters from novels and why they are so fantastic.  This is by no means a complete list, it is simply a top five. Now let’s get on with it!

Number five and a newcomer to the list, Evie Blackwell, a character written by Dee Henderson.   Henderson is the author of the O’Malley series.  Her Evie Blackwell books were released in 2016. We meet Evie Blackwell in Traces of Guilt.

Character Type:  Evie works on Cold Cases.  She is determined and hard-working and very observant.

What’s to Love about Evie:  Evie is easy to love.  She is determined to find the truth.  When everyone else has given up, she digs deeper.  In the first book, she is discouraged by the locals and even given a sharp timeline to find the truth or put the case back in the cooler.  We love Evie because she is kind of unaware of the love interest. Evie pulls the threads and unweaves the truth like no other.  These are Christian fiction books and thus are void of the “steamy” love scenes.

Character Arc/ Development:  There are only two books in this series at this time so the character arc is still developing.  We have however seen Evie moving toward a relationship with a Christian man.  She is moving toward something that seems bigger than her.  We see a change in her behaviors toward small town living as well.  It is possible for her to be happy?  We need to read book two to find out if there will be more between her and Gabriel Thane.

The first book left an impression.  Evie’s way of thinking and badgering to find the truth is just what would be needed to solve Cold Cases.  She learns in the stories to trust Gabe to help her in her quest for the truth.  The end of the first book leaves you wondering what will happen next.  A great sign for book two to be just as good.

Recommended for people that love a good mystery, a sweet love story.  This book is unlike some Christian Fiction in that it is not overly preachy, it’s just clean and well written.  This great read.

Check out the first book here Traces of Guilt

Welcome back to the Gym of the Writer’s Brain.  Are you ready for another workout?  GOOD!  This one is a doozy, you may need a little time to research for this one.  Let me begin by suggestiWriter's-Brain-Workout---Emotional-Woundsng you get a hold of The Emotional Wound Thesaurus:  A Writer’s Guide to Psychological Trauma.  or go to One Stop for Writers and check it out.  Most of our characters have some kind of emotional trauma and that is what helps us understand them and even feel sympathy for them. For instance, one of my favorite fictional characters Eve Dallas from J.D. Robb’s In Death series has a pretty severe emotional wound that she uses to fuel her fight for justice.  It haunts her but also pushes her to always give 110% to each case no matter how “unworthy” the rest of the world may see the victims.  In this workout, take some time dig into a CHILDHOOD wound, and then write a conversation that the child may have missed that may explain the reason this emotional wound is not valid. The other option is to write a scene that validates the emotional wound.  Your choice.

NOTE: I do not get anything for recommending The Emotional Wound Thesaurus or One Stop for Writers. They are simply some of the best tools I have found for actually writing. 

See my example below:  Continue reading

Writer's-Brain-Workout---He-said-she-said-2Let’s take a look at arguments.  There need to be different points of view on topics or this world would be boring.  I mean that is how we learn and grow, right.  In college, maybe even high school when you were assigned to write a persuasive paper didn’t you learn it is good to present both sides and then debunk one of them?  Yeah, well that is a great way to find conflict in your fiction.  When you have a character that holds a firm belief and they are faced with defending that belief, guess what that brings to the table?  Yes, conflict.  All good stories will have some kind of conflict. When you are working out today in the gym of the writer’s brain, take a look at an argument that may appear in your story then write both sides of it.  Look at it from the other guy’s side and see if your character can change because of that argument.  This is a great way to develop character arc in your stories.  Give it a try!

My sample is below: Continue reading

Writer's-Brain-Workout---changeitupBeginning a new project is always fun!  Writers love meeting new characters and getting to know them and the story they have to tell.

There are times I have read books and thought, a woman would have handled that differently.  (Because I am a woman.)   This workout is to challenge you, the writer to try different things.  It is not meant to be easy.  I would love to see how you can take a protagonist and change his/her gender.  How does it change your story?  Think about how it could better or make it worse.  On a personal note, I have a masculine communication style and struggle sometimes to write the softer side of women.  Using a male protagonist is often easier.  I found that writing a female protagonist helped me to find the softer side.

My example is below:

Continue reading

Writer's-Brain-Workout---POVPoint of View (POV) is often a struggle for writers.  Sometimes, when beginning a new project, you can do this workout to decide which POV is best for your work.  In this workout, write a short scene.  Then change the POV.  If you are not familiar with different POV here is a quick rundown.


  • The first person is the I/we perspective
  • The second person is you perspective
  • The third person is he/she/it/they perspective

If this doesn’t clear it up may I suggest watching this quick video.

Another possible place to learn more about POV is on Grammarly blog. (Great site BTW) Try this article by Brittney Ross

Here is my example of this workout:

Continue reading


Writing straight prompts are often pretty vague to help writers just write.  Sometimes it is important that we as writers challenge ourselves to work out our brains.  I have come up with five great Writer’s Brain Workouts for this week.

These workouts are for sharpening some very specific skills.  This workout is to stretch the writer’s brain to think outside of what we see.  Using non-visual cues to help create a scene can tap into a reader’s experiences.  Sight is the most reliable way to sketch a scene but when that is taken away, what can you come up with?

This scene can have you walking in, sitting in a booth, or at the counter. Eating not eating your choice.  Just be sure you get across the location clearly without using visual cues.

My example is below.

Continue reading

download (2)I have reported previously on One Stop For Writers, and as we wind up a week of ideas to help writers it dawned on me that I don’t think I ever really shared about Writers Helping Writers  (  This is how I found One Stop For Writers the site that I promise you will quickly become your most valued writing tool.

While One Stop is mega helpful, the powerhouses behind the Writer’s Thesaurus Collection also have a fantastic newsletter that goes out on a regular basis that including amazing articles from industry leaders and they spend HOURS on the Occupation Thesaurus that come to your email inbox for wait for it… FREE!

Writers Helping Writers is an educational site.  If you are looking to improve your writing, this site and especially the newsletter is something you want to take advantage of right away!   This site is packed, don’t just get the newsletter, go there a lot to see all the amazing things they offer.

I am only hoping that the Occupational posts are next to print the Writer’s Thesaurus Collection.  There is a huge selection of freebies in the way of PDFs and other material that will better your writing.  This site really is a labor of love and understanding from the authors, Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi, that writers need to stick together and help one another.  Please do yourself a favor, go to Writers Helping Writers and sign up for that newsletter and then pop over to One Stop and get yourself all signed up for that site.  One stop for Writers,  if asked (or not asked), is the one site I tell writers to invest, your REI will ten fold!

I look forward to hearing about your experience with both of these sites.

To show how deeply I believe you will love this site and their books I am giving away one of the Emotional Thesaurus Books, simply leave a comment.  One name will be randomly chosen from the entries.  Good Luck!