Today I'd like to welcome Jennifer Ziegler. Jennifer stopped by to share with us her thoughts on writing her latest book Sass & Serendipity (which releases today!). See details below on how you can win a copy of the book.
What are your favorite scenes to write?
My favorite scenes always involve my most beloved characters. With Sass & Serendipity, I adored my two sisters, Daphne and Gabby, and I knew I’d enjoy spending time with them during the writing process. However, there was another character I really fell for while drafting the book: sweet, loyal Mule. I found myself really looking forward to his scenes. In fact, if I can say this without sounding a little warped, I probably developed a slight crush on him.
This always happens to me while crafting a novel. I find myself really drawn toward one of my side characters. I suppose it makes sense in a way. As an author, you don’t feel quite as responsible for them. The minor characters don’t frustrate you as much as your flawed protagonists or antagonists. They are there to help your main characters see the errors of their ways – either directly or indirectly. They offer insight, encouragement, and/or comic relief.
Here’s a scene where he ends up comforting Daphne, the younger sister, when she is reeling from a huge emotional setback.
“Hi,” Mule said. “Is Gabby here?”
Daphne shook her head. “She’s …” But she couldn’t remember where her sister was. Work? The store? The bank? Someplace important. What time was it, anyway?
Mule cocked his head and studied her. She could almost see him taking note of her blank expression, her gravity-defying hair, and her rumpled pajamas with the cartoon monkeys all over them. No doubt by now he’d caught a whiff of the sharp scent, like overly ripe fruit, that her body was giving off after three straight days of no bathing.
“Are you okay?” he asked.
His voice was so full of worry that her eyes automatically misted up and her throat got that just-choked feeling. She wanted to say, “Yes,” but that would be such an obvious lie. On the other hand, saying “No” would just invite more questions. And saying anything right now would squeeze the tears out of her. So she just stood there, feeling helpless and pitiful. And stinky.
“Hey, uh …” Mule shifted his weight and raked his fingers through his curls. “How about I hang around until Gabby gets back. Would that be okay?”
Daphne nodded. She left the door hanging open and flopped down on one end of the couch, propping her bare feet on the coffee table.
Mule walked inside and set down his backpack, keeping his eyes on Daphne the whole way. “Sure is nice out today,” he said, slipping off his jacket and draping it on the nearby chair. His movements and voice were extra steady, as if he were an expert negotiator and Daphne were some crazy person with explosives strapped to her chest.
Slowly and gently – as if trying not to spook her – he settled himself on the opposite end of the sofa. Out of the corner of her eye she could see him watching her as she focused on the muted television screen. They were now interviewing one of the drivers of the pile-up. The guy appeared dazed, but not too freaked to ramble to a reporter. The camera then panned to a dead deer lying on the shoulder of the road. Its mouth was open and bloody, and its glassy eyes seemed to be staring right into Daphne. Once again she could feel that downward tugging sensation inside her. It felt as if she were teetering on a ribbon-thin brink, in danger of plummeting into a dark, cold abyss.
Then Mule loudly cleared his throat.
“So I’ll just say it. I … heard about what happened,” he said, turning his torso enough to face her. “I’m really sorry…”
There isn’t a whole lot of spoken dialog in this scene, but what is said is revealing and what isn’t said is even more revealing. Daphne has just been through a difficult ordeal, and as the author, it was tough for me to put her in that situation. That’s why this later scene was so refreshing and uplifting to write. Sweet, devoted Mule happens to stop by and instead of avoiding Daphne, he reaches out to her – in his own adorably awkward way.
Where my job as storyteller was to turn the protagonists’ world upside-down, Mule was the character who most often stepped in to offer guidance and reassurance. I loved him for that. I suppose, in a way, he was the most serendipitous part of writing this book.
by Jennifer Ziegler (July 12, 2011)
Daphne Rivera and her sister Gabby could not be more different.
For fifteen-year-old Daphne, the glass is always half full, a dab of lip-gloss can ward off a bad day, and the boy of her dreams—the one she's read about in all of her beloved romance novels—is waiting for her just around the corner.
But Daphne’s older sister Gabby wishes Daphne would get real. In Gabby’s world, everyone’s out for themselves, wearing makeup is a waste of time, and boys only distract you from studying before they break your heart. The only boy Gabby trusts is her best friend, Mule, who has always been there for her.
Both Gabby and Daphne are still reeling from their parents’ divorce, though in very different ways. While Gabby will never forgive her unreliable father for failing her mother, Daphne idolizes her daddy and is sure that everything would work out fine if her cranky mom would just let him back into their lives.
When a crisis leaves the girls and their mom homeless, help comes from an unexpected source, and both girls are courted by surprise suitors who shake up their views of the world. Suddenly the glass isn’t so clearly half empty or half full . . . and love seems a lot more complicated than they ever could have imagined.
A Sassy Giveaway! Three lucky winners will each receive one copy of Jennifer Ziegler's SASS & SERENDIPITY along with Jane Austen's classic, SENSE AND SENSIBILITY. To enter, send an e-mail to SassandSerendipity@gmail.
com. In the body of the e-mail, include your name, mailing address, and e-mail address (if you're under 13, submit a parent's name and e-mail address). One entry per person; prizes will only be shipped to US or Canadian addresses. Entries must be received by midnight (PDT) on 8/5/11. Winners will be selected in a random drawing on 8/6/11 and notified via email.