Girls Write Out
Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Meet Katie Sullivan. She's the heroine of The Lightkeeper's Bride. I learned some awesome stuff at a Michael Hauge seminar a couple of weeks ago. His proposes that true love happens in a novel when the hero and heroine connect on what he calls the "essence" level. He says a character's "identity" is the outward mask they project to cover over a wound they've had and the mask is their protection. And that when the hero sees past that identity to the inward person and loves THAT person, that makes for a more satisfying book.

Want to help me brainstorm? Katie is an operator for Central in 1907 northern California. She's known as the person in town who knows everyone and everything since she's the voice on the other end of the early telephones. She likes the control of KNOWING. I need to figure out what her wound is and what real person she is covering over with her need for control and knowledge. Maybe her real mother left her with her aunt to raise at the age of five and she thinks by knowing ahead of time what's happening, she can control the hurt. Maybe she missed a message from her little brother than he was going swimming and he drowned. See where I'm going with the wound thing?

So here's your chance to help me mold a novel. Any ideas? Any wounds you're carrying around you'd like to see in a book?

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Colleen Coble  
posted at 3:02 AM  
  Comments (25)
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At 6:32 AM, Blogger Timothy Fish said...

I've always seen that as one of those primarily hereditary things. I personally struggle with the desire to have all of my ducks in a row. I like to know exactly what is going to happen and when. It is a great asset for a project manager, but not so great for relationships. But I look at varioius members of my family and I see some of the same traits, some more than others. There's no wound that caused us to be that way and only through great difficulty could we change that aspect of ourselves. But then, why would we want to? The world needs all sorts of people.

At 8:03 AM, Blogger Jaime said...

Maybe her birthmother abandoned her when she was a baby. Even though she was raised by amazing people there's always that nagging belief that for someone she was not loveable enough. By KNOWING all facets of her life, she can maintain control and hopefully endear herself enough and/or distance herself enough to avoid any future rejection or abandonment. At least... That's my story! =) but u can use it or smidgeons if you want =)

At 9:03 AM, Blogger Colleen Coble said...

Timothy, Timothy, you're missing the point. :-) We do have certain character traits. I totally agree with you there. But Michael Hauge's premise for great story is that you find out the character's wound and how he compensates for that wound with the mask he presents to the world. Then you begin to show what she's really like deep inside and only the hero sees that side. And she only sees that inside part of him too. I highly recommend his DVD or CD to every writer. There's career changing stuff in it, even for those of us who have written many, many books. I came back totally pumped!

At 9:12 AM, Blogger Colleen Coble said...

Oooh that's good, Jaime! Thank!

At 10:03 AM, Blogger Lisa Jordan said...

What if she has a dark secret that she doesn't want anyone to know, and by being the one who knows everything, she will be alerted if someone finds out. So what's her dark secret?

What if she killed an abusive husband in self-defense and she's worked hard to become a respected member of society, but if someone learns that, her status is gone?

What if her mother was a prostitute and her community believes in the "sins of the father (mother)" mantra?

What if she has a family back east that disowned her because she wouldn't marry the man they wanted her to marry? Perhaps she is on the run from this man who wants to marry her? By knowing, she can learn if he is on her trail?

I love brainstorming and wish I could figure out my novels, but sometimes it's hard to understand what the writer is looking for.

At 10:28 AM, Blogger Colleen Coble said...

Ooh I like those, Lisa! The sins of the father/mother is intriguing. Or the dark secret. She's in the first book of the series and has been a resident of town all her life so I can't have her coming from the east but the others might work. Thanks!

At 10:38 AM, Blogger Jill said...

What if she's lived all her life with an alcoholic father? She never knew what to expect from how she or mother would be treated to whether or not they would have money for food and basic necessities of life. If she's in control, then "as God is her witness, she'll never be hungry again!" With a nod to Margaret Mitchell.

At 10:39 AM, Blogger Colleen Coble said...

Ooh that's good too, Jill! I don't have anything much about the father in book one so something about him would work.

At 11:24 AM, Blogger Peg Brantley said...

Maybe she saw her parents destroyed because of lies and rumors. By being the person in town who knows what's going on, she can control the gossip.

At 11:26 AM, Blogger Colleen Coble said...

Ooh I like that, Peg! Maybe gossip destroyed someone she loved.

At 1:26 PM, Blogger Denise Hunter said...

Good stuff here!

My take: if someone's secrets hurt you in the past, you'll be a need-to-know kind if person. That way, a secret will never be able to hurt you again. Not that I'd know anything about that. LOL

At 3:01 PM, Blogger Barb said...

Her mother married her father not knowing that he was carrying on an affair with another woman even before the vows were exchanged. She reasons that if her mother had had that info beforehand, she would have never married her father and the resulting heartache to her mother would not have occurred. She never wants to be in the position her mother was in, so she wants all the information about others that she can gather.

At 3:02 PM, Blogger Colleen Coble said...

Ooh that's good, Barb. You all have such devious minds. I love it! LOL

At 3:28 PM, Blogger The Farmer's Wife said...

I'm not nearly as dramatic as the others, and I didn't read the first book, so I don't know if this would have any sort of relevance, whatsoever...

In 1907, there were still long dresses, although it was starting to move into an era of shorter skirts, I believe. Perhaps she has a physical deformity, under those skirts, that may or may not have been caused by trauma. As an operator, she won't encounter people with prying eyes and questions about a young woman who won't (or can't) skate, dance, bike and so forth. And there would be some tension, with the changing fashions, to deal with her issues.

The trauma may make the difference in this plot line. But I don't think physical limitations, in that era, were discussed, and those who had the misfortune of having them were to be "invisible" and considered a blight on the family tree.

It's not as dramatic as the other ideas, but an interesting thought.

At 3:29 PM, Blogger Colleen Coble said...

Ooh that is a VERY interesting thought! Let me see what I can come up with. Thanks!

At 8:06 PM, Blogger Beverly said...


I wonder if Katie is in a position of knowing, and that position inwardly is eating her alive. She has ended up knowing something that she believes, with all her heart, that if she could just act on, she could prevent a terrible disaster, or alleviate some pain.

But, she can't. Or won't. Maybe because is fearful for what will happen to herself. Maybe the conventions of the day, or the trust that her boss has placed on her, and she cannot bear to disappoint someone again. Or, maybe someone in her past was terribly hurt by someone (or herself) stepping in where they shouldn't have.

Maybe Katie has always been told/commended for being a certain type of person, when inside she has resented it, known she is capable of more, and this current situation presents the opportunity to prove it, if she can find the courage to step in with what she knows.

In the end, there are lessons she learns...about letting God be responsible and sovereign,...or about having courage to push beyond the expected ethics to use her position for "such a time as this."

Fun stuff, Colleen...but I can easily see how your job is NOT an easy one!!

At 7:08 AM, Blogger SketchGirl said...

Hmmm let me think on this for a bit....

- She can't have children due to an childhood illness so by being an operator she can be part of other people's lives

- she has guardians/parents who have controlled every element of her life. Her job is the only part of her life that she has ever been in control of

- guardians that she has been placed in care with have died suddenly within a year or two. So therefore has grouble forming permanent attachments with people

- a tragedy stopped her from pursuing her dream of being a ... (place a 1907 job here)

that all i've got

That was fun, you have a quite a delicious selection to choose from :)

At 8:26 AM, Blogger Colleen Coble said...

Wow, Beverly and SketchGirl, that is great stuff! Thanks all of you! I have some great stuff to mull over in incorporate. You friends are the best!

At 8:55 AM, Blogger Suzanne said...

Maybe she's related to (or old friends with) someone infamous. Like maybe she was the daughter of the Pittsburgh prison warden in 1902 whose wife fell in love with one of the Biddle brothers and helped them escape (LOVE that story, true Mrs Soffel, old Mel Gibson movie). Or maybe she escaped from a religious cult group (original Mormon sect?) or maybe she is an offspring of Darwin and wants to get as far away from his reputation as she can but the press is always trying to find her.

Sorry, that's all I can think of right now.

At 8:58 AM, Blogger Colleen Coble said...

Suzanne, those are brilliant! I love them!

At 9:53 AM, Blogger Lisa Faye Harman said...

Where can we find the DVD? I googled him but couldn't find anything.

At 9:55 AM, Blogger Colleen Coble said...

It's here:

There's also a DVD that's $45 if you'd rather watch it instead of listen to i.

At 10:03 AM, Blogger Carmen7351 said...

A child loses control when abused. So one grow up using relationships to control her lack of being cherished for who she really is and what she desire. She seduces men to the point of you know what and then says no or goes home. Or gets into several relationships and leaves when it gets too close. The more men she can control the better she feels about having control.

At 10:42 AM, Blogger FugettFamily said...

I don't know if you've already moved on, so if you have just ignore this : ) I was thinking about control and generally the motivation for wanting to know and control is because someone feels they have no control over their own life. Maybe she had super strict parents that didn't let her do much or a strict religious upbringing that she felt wasn't a religion of her own. She did because she was told to, not because she wanted to or had any control over what she did. Now, maybe something happened to her parents so when she's on her own she wants to control whatever she can and know everything about everyone to make her own choices.

But I was also thinking (depending on how she is in the rest of the story) that maybe her job isn't because she wants to control and know. She could be scared of being alone because she lost a loved one when she was young or was an only child, and wants to feel part of the town by hearing everything. Or maybe she's scared to live her own life because something tragic that happened to her, and lives vicariously through the people on the other end of the line while she can hide behind the operator panel... just an idea.

At 10:45 AM, Blogger Colleen Coble said...

Ooh those are both great ideas, FugettFamily! thanks! I'm still rolling all the ideas around so you're not too late!


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The Authors
Kristin Billerbeck
Kristin Billerbeck is a proud Californian, wife, mother of four, and connoisseur of the irrelevant. She writes Christian Chick Lit; where she finds need for most of the useless facts lulling about in her head.

Colleen Coble

Colleen Coble writes romantic suspense with a strong atmospheric element. A lovable animal of some kind--usually a dog--always populates her novels. She can be bribed with DeBrand mocha truffles.

Denise Hunter

Denise Hunter writes women's fiction and love stories with a strong emotional element. Her husband says he provides her with all her romantic material, but Denise insists a good imagination helps too.

Diann Hunt

Diann Hunt writes romantic comedy and humorous women's fiction. She has been happily married forever, loves her family, chocolate, her friends, chocolate, her dog, and well, chocolate.

Hannah Alexander

Cheryl Hodde writes romantic medical suspense under the pen name of Hannah Alexander, using all the input she can get from her husband, Mel, for the medical expertise. For fun she hikes and reads. Out of guilt, she rescues discarded cats. She and Mel are presently taking orders from four pampered strays.

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