Girly Book Blog Hop

Thank you Author Libby Mercer for letting me participate in The Girly Book Blog Hop! I am so happy to be here discussing secondary characters!

All of the books I write feature one main character. As I write the book, I focus on her goals and the obstacles that stand in the way of her achieving them and I try to flesh her out as much as possible. What does she look like? Is she single or in a relationship? Is she reserved and cautious or is she impulsive and rebellious? What is her relationship with her family? Most of the book is written to tell her story and how she gets from her status on page one to “the end.”

But how boring would a book be if there was only one character? Not everyone can write a story like Cast Away or 127 hours, both of which featured only one character for the majority of the film and yet managed to capture my attention for approximately 2 hours. With very few exceptions, I want to see the main character interact with other people. If the book includes a romantic element, the main character needs a love interest (or 2 or 3). If the book features a career goal, we might need someone the main character competes with or a boss to either support or stand in the way of her goals. Unless we want all of our main character’s feelings to be written in narrative or inner dialogue, we need friends and/or family for her to vent to. In a nutshell, it is extremely difficult to write a story with ups and downs, twists and turns, conflict and resolution if the main character has no interactions with other people. And that is where the secondary characters come in.

In almost every review of my first novel, Just Friends with Benefits, people commented about Stephanie’s group of friends and how they added a comedic element to the book. People said that Stephanie’s friends reminded them of their own. She had the friend who refused to sugar coat when Stephanie did something stupid. She had the best guy friend who acted as her big brother, both teasing and protective. She had the younger friend who turned Stephanie from advice seeker to advice giver. And she had the platonic friend on whom she secretly crushed. She also had a Jewish mother who constantly badgered her about her single status. All of these characters (and more) added spice to Stephanie’s life and to the novel.

In my newly released novel, A State of Jane, Jane is the main character but sharing some of the spotlight is her well-meaning and sometimes promiscuous roommate Lainie; her loyal, yet unlucky-in-love best friend Marissa; her older sister Claire; her easy going dad and sometimes domineering mother; her mentor in all-things-men, colleague Andrew and her ex boyfriend of nine years, Bob (among others).

 

Admittedly, I tend to focus mainly on the protagonist in my first draft and it is not until later revisions (and sometimes prodding by my beta readers or editor) to flesh out my secondary characters so that they are not only there to support my main character but also have lives of their own. My friends are always there to listen to and support me but it goes both ways and our conversations do not always revolve around me. To make my novels more realistic, I give my secondary characters their own problems and I think it is an important feature in books in my genre. First of all, a character would not be very likeable if all she did was talk about herself. Secondly, secondary characters can add a lot of humor and depth to a story.

Notwithstanding the paragraph above, it is important not to create such a strong storyline for a secondary character that it overpowers the main plot line nor would I recommend creating a character who is considerably more interesting than the main character. Secondary characters should add to the book but not take it over. If a secondary character is on the verge of stealing the spotlight, it might be a sign that the novel should be rewritten to focus on that character instead!

And there you have it, my thoughts on secondary characters!

In order to win an ebook of A State of Jane (Kindle or Nook download), please leave a comment below with a) your email address and b) your favorite secondary character from a chick lit novel. And don’t forget to check out the posts of all of the other great participating authors!

“Jane Frank is ready to fall in love.  It’s been a year since her long  term relationship ended and far too long since the last time she was  kissed.  With the LSAT coming up she needs to find a long term boyfriend (or husband) before acing law school and becoming a partner at her  father’s law firm.  There’s just one problem: all the guys in New York City are flakes.  They seemingly drop off the face of the earth with no  warning and no explanation.  Should she join her best friend Marissa in  singlehood, making cupcakes and watching True Blood?  Or should  she follow her co-worker Andrew’s advice and turn the game back on those who scorned her?  As Jane attempts to juggle her own responsibilities  and put up with the problems of everyone around her, she starts to  realize that the dating life isn’t as easy as she originally thought.”

 

One week after publication

 

It’s now been over a week since A State of Jane was officially released. Fortunately, my office was closed on the publication date, Monday, September 17th, for Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. I had it all planned out – I would wake up early (but not too early since it was my day off), I would send out all of the announcements, via blog post, Facebook, Twitter, email my friends, my book club, my various chick lit writer’s groups, attaching all of the buy links. Once those tasks were completed, I would go for a run and by the time I came back, I assumed I would have a few congratulatory messages to respond to before I jumped in the shower. Then, I would send out another tweet or two and jet over to my hair salon to get my hair done. I had an appointment for a haircut and highlights – a 3 hour process that I would have preferred to not do the same day my book was coming out. Since I had a busy week ahead of me though, it was the only time I could squeeze in three hours, plus commuting time.

That was the plan.

In actuality, I woke up on Monday morning to find that my ebooks had not actually been uploaded onto Amazon or Barnes & Noble due a communication glitch – the person in charge of doing the upload didn’t realize that the official launch date was the 17th and so while he immediately uploaded the books upon being made aware, it takes 12-24 hours for the books to show up in search results and as a result, I did not have any buy-links to share with the exception of the paperback on Amazon. Since I wanted to announce the availability of the book in all formats at the same time, I sort of had a break down. My plans went up in smoke and I felt as if the day off from my day job was wasted since I wouldn’t be able to use the time to promote. I was also a tad embarrassed since a few of my Twitter friends had already congratulated me for the release on Twitter but commented that they were not able to find links. After crying for a few minutes and sending frustrated texts to my sister, boyfriend and boss, I took a walk to get coffee and something to eat. When I got home, I saw that my publisher had sent me a box of 25 paperback copies of A State of Jane . Seeing an entire box of my book in print practically had me in tears of pride and joy and virtually melted away my earlier frustrations. I uploaded pictures on Facebook and enjoyed the comments I received that the cover was awesome. (It is!) I also took to heart the texts I received from my sister and boyfriend that it was just a slight hiccup and wasn’t the end of the world. Later, I went for a run and when I came home, my doorman told me I received flowers from my boyfriend in honor of the publication. This also helped me put everything else in perspective.

Although the book was still not showing up in search results by the time I headed out to get my hair done, I was a much happier person. That afternoon, while I sat with my hair in foils nursing a glass of red wine, I felt even happier when, after searching Amazon about ten times, the Kindle version of the book finally showed up in the search results, followed shortly by Barnes & Noble. As soon as I got home, me and my awesomely highlighted hair got busy sending out all the emails, tweets and Facebook posts and I spent the next few hours completely touched by all of my friends who not only posted that they had either downloaded the book or ordered a paperback but they also shared the release of A State of Jane with their friends as well and some of their friends posted that they had also purchased the book. I went to bed happy that night, although when I write “bed”, I don’t mean “sleep” – I couldn’t fall asleep for hours! I was too excited 🙂

Despite the snafu, the release eventually went through and I am officially an author of two published books! But the work is not over, not by a long shot. Now comes the promoting, which most authors will agree, is extremely hard work. I have scheduled interviews and guest posts with various bloggers over the next couple of weeks and I have sent the book out for review. Although my official blog tour through Chick Lit Plus and the amazingly organized Samantha is not scheduled until January 2nd, several bloggers/reviewers have the book in their hands and I wait with baited breath and chewed fingernails to see what they think of A State of Jane – so far the feedback has pleased me but it doesn’t mean I don’t pull my hair out of my scalp with anxiety whenever someone new posts her opinion. On a far less stressful note, I have a launch party scheduled for early October. If anyone plans to be in New York City on October 5th and wants to come, let me know. The location is so-far being kept from me by my friends but I can put you into contact with my fabulous party planners.

On another note, a draft of my third novel is currently with my first beta reader, who happens to be my sister. Once I get her comments, I will send it along to a few other people and eventually to Diana Spechler, one of my favorite authors who has provided her “book-doctor” services to me with both Just Friends with Benefits and A State of Jane and without whose guidance, I am afraid I could never comfortably submit my book to my publisher.

One end note and a slight confession – I am really exhausted! I have spent the last year writing a 3rd novel, editing a second, posting reviews for every book I read and almost every bar/restaurant I frequent and all while working a very busy full-time job. Something has to give. In the coming months, I know I will be answering countless interview questions and wracking my brain for topics for guest posts and I think, at least for now, I need to concentrate on those since they are directly related to the promotion of A State of Jane. For those of who you appreciate my book reviews and possibly even follow me on Yelp, you might be seeing less of me for a while I decompress. I need it!

Buy links:

http://www.amazon.com/A-State-Jane-Meredith-Schorr/dp/1935961691/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1347991938&sr=8-1&keywords=a+state+of+jane

http://www.amazon.com/A-State-of-Jane-ebook/dp/B009CDVZ64/ref=sr_1_2?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1347991980&sr=1-2&keywords=a+state+of+jane#_

http://productsearch.barnesandnoble.com/search/results.aspx?WRD=a%20state%20of%20jane

Meet Jane Frank

 

I am gearing up for the release of my sophomore novel, A State of Jane on September 17th. I am extremely excited for you all to read it as I am very proud this book. That is not to say I didn’t feel immense pride two years ago when my first book, Just Friends with Benefits, was published, but it is different. I started writing Just Friends with Benefits on a whim and while I always hoped it would ultimately get published, it seemed more like a fantasy than a goal I could actually reach. I wanted to prove to myself that I could write a novel. On a personal level, I also wrote it seeking closure. A State of Jane (formerly known as Taking Back the Fadeaway and Planet of the Flakes), on the other hand, was written with the intent of getting it published.

Additionally, most of the characters in Just Friends with Benefits were loosely based on people I knew. By contrast, while the plot for A State of Jane was inspired by my own frustrations dating in New York City, the characters were created entirely by my overactive imagination. Any similarity to real people, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

People close to me recognized the character of Stephanie Cohen from Just Friends with Benefits because she was a lot like the person who created her (me). This was not the case with Jane Frank, the main character of A State of Jane. I am nothing like Jane. Jane had a relationship with her High School sweetheart that lasted nine years. I didn’t have a boyfriend in High School. Although Jane and I are both paralegals, Jane aspires to be an attorney whereas law school was never in my plan. Jane is an amazing cook and I (hahahahahahaha) am NOT. Jane is a neat freak whereas I absolutely abhor cleaning my apartment and do it out of mere necessity. Jane is certain that her happily ever after is just around the corner whereas I am always fearful of the rug being pulled out from under me. Jane doesn’t drink beer and never smokes whereas I have been known to drink too much beer and smoke the occasional cigarette. Jane only watches sports when trying to impress a guy whereas I love baseball.

On the surface, it might appear that Jane is a bit of a goody-goody but as you will discover while reading A State of Jane, she is quite surprising, very spontaneous and more than capable of letting her hair down. Jane has a life plan for herself – she wrote it down and everything. What she fails to take into account is the inability to control the actions or reactions of other people. It is this discovery that drives Jane to do things that are nowhere on her to-do list. It is also this discovery that shows Jane that some of lifes most cherished moments are those that cannot be planned for in advance. I am nothing like Jane Frank but there were times while writing this book, I wished I was.

Who would I want to play Jane in the movie version of A State of Jane? Ashley Williams, probably known best for her role as Victoria in How I Met Your Mother.

 

Cover – A State of Jane

Without further ado, the cover of A State of Jane!

 

The cover represents a loss of control which is exactly what happens to my main character, Jane Frank, when her life plan veers off track.

Jane Frank is ready to fall in love.  It’s been a year since her long term relationship ended and far too long since the last time she was kissed.  With the LSAT coming up she needs to find a long term boyfriend (or husband) before acing law school and becoming a partner at her father’s law firm.  There’s just one problem: all the guys in New York are flakes.  They seemingly drop off the face of the earth with no warning and no explanation.  Should she join her best friend Marissa in singlehood, making cupcakes and watching True Blood?  Or should she follow her co-worker Andrew’s advice and turn the game back on those who scorned her?  As Jane attempts to juggle her own responsibilities and put up with the problems of everyone around her, she starts to realize that the dating life isn’t as easy as she originally thought.