Concrete Detail

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


This is an exercise in observing sound.  There are so many things we miss in our wanderings.  Take time when you arrive at your summer destination and listen.  Listen for sounds and things that stand out.  This can be gold for writers.  Think about it, all over the world people have phrases and things they say that can identify them from a particular region.  Don’t just listen for dialogue (Although, I highly recommend a sit in your favorite coffee shop when you are in a different region.)

Listen to the other sounds, the way a truck sounds when it rolls into the hotel parking lot. Weather sounds that you are not accustomed.  If you notice people lay on the horn quickly?  Record it.  How about the sound of emergency vehicles are they different from what you normally hear?   You get the idea.

Take something you heard and incorporate it into a poem or short story.

Sample: The place I am has amazing thunderstorms almost every day.  I am not used to that.  Storms in the desert are far and few between.  This poem came during a storm, combining the elements of what I heard with a lover’s spat.

The Love Storm: A poem by Erika Hayes


Fight.  The rumble of what’s to come.

Oppressive. Blackened clouds brimming seeking a place to release the heavy load.

Heartbroken. Streaks of white fire stab and split open.

Fear. Pulse quicken with the clap of thunder.

Miserable. The drops fall forming puddles.










Summer is in full swing and it is time to hit the road.  We don’t want to lose our mojo while we are out and about exploring the world.  Grab your writers notebook or pull out your laptop and join in this week for some fun opportunities to record your summer adventures.

Upon arriving at your destination take a few minutes to look at the trees and flowers that now surround you.  Record them in your journal.  One of the reasons this is a great exercise is to give an authentic feel to your writing, being able to describe the environment is critical. It is always a positive thing to get a feel for the places you visit by looking at and recording the environment.

My sample below:

Traveling from Phoenix to Northern AZ

Living in a desert leaves one parched for the color green.  As we rose higher and higher I began to notice that the barren brown dusty ground sprouting with sage greens.  Then as we rounded an incline it was an explosion of deep rich greens.  The tall pines reached higher than any cactus I have ever seen.  I have seen some pretty tall cactus!  Upon arrival at our final destination, I felt a giddiness, at the sight of the shade.  Real shade from real trees. Cactus don’t throw off too much shade.  The air was moist and I saw beautiful small yellow flowers reaching up to find the sun I was fleeing from.  They are daylilies I discovered.  They are cheerful flowers with long grass-like leaves.  Another sight these eyes often fail to see, grass.  It’s everywhere here, abundant as dust in Phoenix.  I can’t help but spend time examining the pine needles, how is it that those thin pointing bunches can provide such a cool retreat?  I have seen barrel cactus with thicker spines, yet they hold nothing but a painful smart to the inquisitive toddler or pup. The green is deep and rich creating a soothing sight when mixed with the blue of the sky and fluffy white clouds.   The bark of these pines appears like small rounded rectangles ready to part from the tree.  Sap drips down some of them leaving a sweet sticky tar that is near impossible to remove. The beauty of these trees from the large to the sapling brings a quenching to my soul. 


Photo Credit: The Outsiders Wiki – Fandom

Bet you didn’t expect that! It’s true and for me the reason this is the #1 FMC is simple.  I fell in love with reading, like really fell in love with reading when I read The Outsiders.  I also decided I wanted to be a writer when I read this book.  It’s not a secret that S. E. Hinton was a teenager when she had this book published. It gave me hope that one day I could also write.  Now onto what I pick Ponyboy as the #1 FMC, in the book he is the narrator of the novel.  I felt a connection with him.  Youngest of the Greasers, he also lived in poverty and this plays a part in why he and the rest of the Greasers don’t like the Socs.

Character Type: Hero

Why we love Ponyboy:  As I mentioned above, Ponyboy and the other Greasers were not especially well off.  In the book, Hinton uses this to show that just because one is poor they can still have culture.  When I read that Ponyboy identified with Pip from Charles Dickens and cites poetry (Nothing Can Stay Gold – Frost) and introduces his “gangster” friend Johnny to Gone with the Wind. I loved it.  It pushed me to read more and more and more.

Character Arc/ Development:  Ponyboy is interesting as a character.  He wants to be in the Greasers gang, talks the talk tries to walk the walk but the real Ponyboy emerges in the old abandon church while he and Johnny hid out.  The development of this character is beautiful.  Hinton wants the reader to see that people can’t be judged by appearance and stereotypes.  Ponyboy and Johnny both rush to the save the day but Johnny is mortally wounded.  Ponyboy sticks with Johnny showing a deep friendship and love for his friend.

Ponyboy Curtis was chosen as number one because the book does more than tell an excellent story.  It opens eyes to the possibility of seeing people for who they are and encourages young budding writers.


Image Credit: Google Search

Sherlock Holmes is one of the characters written by Sir Author Conan Doyle that is so memorable that even in remakes and based on stylings come under deep scrutiny.  If you ask almost any person what kind of person Sherlock Holmes there will be very similar responses.   (Let’s face it John Watson is also a reason we love Sherlock so much.) This makes him (them) number two on this list of FMC.


Type of Character:  Intellectual

Why we love Sherlock:  He is loveable because he is so unlike most protagonist.  He is kind of a jerk.  Sherlock is memorable due to the manner in which he doesn’t even realize what a jerk he can be.  You love to hate his arrogance, and yet love it to love it.  We care about Sherlock because even though he doesn’t really “care” about those he is helping he does.  This character is so complex it is exciting to get to know more about him.

Character Arc/Development:  Sherlock actually maintains a solid arrogance due to his hyper observation and incredible IQ.  Sherlock has very clear negative traits and I love that he accepts them.  He uses them to better his work.  Watson and Sherlock have a unique friendship that allows us to know the detective better.  Watson is often telling us about the real Sherlock and because of this symbiotic relationship we not only learn about Sherlock but learn to love him. Truth be told, you know the stories and characters are of the best quality when they have been used in so many television and movie applications.  It is a testament to Sir Author Conan Doyle’s writing it truly stands the test of time.  (Probably should be in the “Why we love Sherlock”, but what can I say.)

Alex Cross

Image Credit: Steam

James Patterson’s Alex Cross is a great character.  The deeper into the series one reads, the better the character Cross becomes.  The reason Cross isn’t higher on the list is that of the “perfectness” of the character.  He is a top cop, FBI agent and psychologist that went to John Hopkins college (Trust me you will know this because Patterson feels like it must be expressed in the books repeatedly.)

Character Type: Hero

Why we love Alex Cross:

While he seems to be too good to be true, there are some masterful flaws in Cross.  He is dedicated, this causes family issues.  That is how we learn to love Cross.  He loves his family, but he also loves his job.  He struggles to find balance.  Dedicated to the job eventually causes situations that makes us love Alex Cross.  We feel sympathy for him.  Working through the series the Cross character becomes more believable and thus a character to love.

Character Arc/Development:

Above shares some of the issues in the development of Cross, however, the developments in his character continue throughout the series.  Funny his character development kind of devolves.  He goes from Mr. Perfect to somewhat less eventually to a realistic character.  That, however, is an interesting way to develop a character.  It’s almost like the reader has an impression of Cross but as we get to know him the more we see the “real” Alex Cross.  It works.  Patterson has done something I think few can pull off, he has allowed his readers to feel like they are actually friends with Alex Cross. Like they are sitting on the porch with him as he tinkers on the piano and shares his stories.



Image Credit: Book one is offered at no cost on this site.

This book is not only a great book but the character Captian Gabriel Lacey is memorable.  The author Ashley Gardner created a fantastic, romantic, wounded man that any romance reader will go head over heels for.  Mysterious and sexy, thoughtful and honorable but best of all, he’s believable.

One of the best things about this FMC (Favorite Male Character) is you can read his first book for free.  Check out this link.  Hanover Square Affair.

Let’s talk about Captain Lacey.

Character Type: Broody Hero.

Why we love Captian Lacey:

A man of honor will always be something romance readers love. What can make him better?  Give him a bit of a broody personality.  Make him honorable but temptable and you have magic.  He is sexy and on a mission.  He wants to help a damsel in distress.

Character Arc/Development:

This character is strong, handsome, desirable and best of all willing to go out of his way to help someone he doesn’t know.  For that matter, he doesn’t even know if there has been a crime.  Reluctant at first, but as he gets deeper into the case, we see him become completely willing to give up even his life to help this poor woman that may be a victim of a crime.  He shows great care for all the women in this book, at a time when some women were used and abused and forgotten.  It is a fantastic development watching him move across his emotions.


If I run

Image Credit: Goodreads

We spent last week looking at great female characters in fiction.  This week we will do the same but for male characters.  Disclaimer: While J.K. Rowling’s character development is outstanding, last week as with this week, Harry Potter characters were not considered.  Her mastery of characters sets them apart, therefore all the male and female characters being reviewed are from sources outside of the phenomenon, Harry Potter.

Let’s look at Dylan Roberts from Terry Blackstock’s  If I run series.

Okay, so not as well known a book as some of the others on this list, I found this series last summer and was engrossed with the story.  Dylan Roberts is actually a second protagonist in the story.  Blackstock writes the book from the point of views of Casey and Dylan.  I plowed through the first book then the second and waited anxiously for the third which I devoured when it was released.  It wasn’t the very best book I have read, but I loved the characters.

Dylan Roberts character type:  HERO!  but also his emotional wound.  Really cool how it is written.

What’s to love about Dylan:  He is a lovable character.  He is patriotic, honest and thoughtful.  We love him because of the struggles he has with leaving the military.  The author does a great job of showing the difficulties that are faced by active military returning to civilian life.  His thoughtful POV is intimate and allows the reader to feel genuine attachment to Dylan.

Character Arc and Development:  Dylan is former military struggling with acclamation back to civilian life.  His military thinking makes it hard for him to follow the leads, the truth.  Over the course of the three books, we see his character make some great changes.  Dylan is smart.  He suffers from a desire to find the truth.  He sees the evidence but also sees the inconsistency inside the obvious.  Dylan is about justice and discovering the truth by any means. As the bigger plot is revealed, Dylan must learn to protect the truth, even if it means doing something he detests.


Photo Credit: Google Images

Friday is here and we have the number one pick of FFC,  from the In Death Series by J.D. Robb (a.k.a. Nora Roberts), drumroll, please…… Eve Dallas.

Character Type:  Eve Dallas is a justice seeker. A cop in NYC in the year 2058 (well, that is when the series begins).

What’s to love about Eve Dallas: She will do anything to get the bad guy behind bars, including forgetting to eat, failing to sleep and even putting herself out there as bait. She is determined and is humble.  She doesn’t go hard ore after every bad guy for the fame, in fact, she hates and doesn’t understand the people that don’t work as hard as she does. Enter Roarke, hubba-hubba.  He is hardworking and the perfect balance to her straight edge thinking. (More on him later.) Eve Dallas is a strong, independent woman that cannot be compromised.  She is honest to a fault, blunt, loyal to the end and all around selfless character that you can’t help but love.

What makes me care about Eve: She has a deep emotional wound, one that the author has not fully disclosed, leaving the imagination of the reader to run wild of the horrors that may have befallen the small fragile child.

Eve’s Character Arc: Eve has come a long way since she was found in a dingy alley in Dallas and given a name by the social workers because she wasn’t able to remember her own. At the beginning of the series, Eve is a bit of a loner, she works hard and made it to the rank of Lieutenant.  Within a few books, we see Eve go from a cop that was keeping herself safe from friendship and love to a woman that has a very close relationship with a few chosen people (including the comic relief, Peabody). She is fiercely protective of people she loves.  (As promised, more on Roarke)

Character development, love life, and friends: Roarke (no last name) is a very wealthy businessman that Eve finds on her suspect list. A few meetings and interviews leave her thinking more about this handsome man then she likes.   It doesn’t take much for him to take a shine to Eve early in the series and let’s say Roarke is used to getting what he wants.  It’s not long before they are madly in love and quickly married. Thankfully, the author didn’t spend too much time leading up to this or writing about it.  I loved how the book simply has the wedding in a few paragraphs at the end of the book.  The next book picks up on the Honeymoon. It would be a let down if it were a romance novel but it’s not.  These books are about the mystery and Robb does a fantastic job of showing her understanding of her readers.

It is the relationship with Roarke we see the softer side of Eve Dallas.  Honestly, a better side of her.  Roarke is sexy as hell too!  Trust me, the more you read these books the more you will want to see Roarke as part of the stories.  J.D. Robb has used her romance writing skills beautifully in these books.  While some of the physical intimate scenes are a bit racy and some people may need to skip them the scenes of intimate love when Roarke cares for his overly tired wife or her fierce concern to protect him and all he has worked for is something every reader will long to read more. One really feels the love between these two characters.

In her relationships with Peabody, Nadine and  Dr. Mira, Eve develops a friend base.  Something she really needs to deal with the high-stress part of her job as well as coming to terms with her past.  Interestingly, Peabody is an expected relationship that would blossom into friendship while Nadine and Mira are less so.  Robb does a great job weaving these friendships in and not making it overly obtrusive.  Slowly we see friendships develop in all these women’s lives. It is a lovely interaction to watch.  The aide/lieutenant relationship is delicate.  Peabody remains in awe of Dallas but we see some cracks in Eve’s armor and Peabody’s support is what leads to them being more than that of boss and aide.

The In Death series is one I recommend to anyone.   The stories are solid, interesting and the characters are fantastic.

Start Here with book One: Naked In Death

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