Character Introduction #6: Shayla and Jessica

This character introduction might be the most fun I’ve had telling all of you about my characters.  Shayla and Jessica are ever present in the whole Emily series as it spans the four books.

Jessica is Emily’s best friend from way back. They’ve known each other since grammar school, so to them it feels like sisterhood. Jessica is a soft and sweet soul. She’s the friend that is always there even when she’s not. Much time can pass and Emily and Jessica hardly skip a beat; jumping right back into conversation as if the phone was never hung up. Jessica goes to college in Washington State, miles away from Emily, but during the summer break they meet back in their home town and mischievous events occur.

Speaking of mischievous. Shayla fits into that word like a hand does to a glove. For as far back as anyone can remember, Emily, Jessica and Shayla were inseparable. Jessica the calm and Shayla the instigator. If you ever need a laugh, a lift or a smile, Shayla is your girl. She’s fun to the core, and you can’t help but unconditionally love her – although you wish for conditions every moment you are around her. Emily considers herself the buffer between Jessica and Shayla, but no buffer is every really needed. The dynamic between the three of them is priceless and beautiful.

And now comes the part of the post when I tell you what these characters mean to me.  As I have mentioned in past character introductions, many of my characters have no basis in my reality. They are fiction through and through. I’d be lying if I told you Jessica and Shayla fell into that category.

Jessica is based upon my friend Larise. A truly wonderful person who spends her days enlightening the minds of second graders and her nights tending to her beautiful family. She lives far away and we rarely are able to talk, but when I hear her voice or see her handwriting I can’t help but be pulled from whatever I’m doing and placed smack back into the last time we communicated; as if no time had passed at all.

Shayla is based upon my friend Shannon. Shannon is another truly amazing person who has the power and energy of a small child yet she’s perfectly evolved.  She’s funny. – I mean really funny, but soulful at the same time. She’s almost hard to describe, but to really nail it I’d have to quote the reaction everyone has to her. It goes something like this: “I just love that girl.” and “You can’t help but love Shannon.”

What’s been amazing about the writing process is that even though I have been apart from these two amazing women for far too long, I felt like I saw them every day while I brought my stories to life. We recently reunited, and when I finally pulled them into my arms and gave them a well deserved hug, I felt like I missed them less than I would have had they not lived in the pages I spent the last few years writing.

So, thank you Larise and Shannon for being at my side while I rounded out this story of love and friendship. Because you both are truly my love and my friendship.

In this scene, Emily goes back to the Valley for Thanksgiving break. She’s home only minutes when Jessica and Shayla arrive.

Call Me Emily

Chapter 9

Home for Thanksgiving

“So, I’m sure you kids want to catch up to your friends, but be sure to be home for dinner.”

“Sure Mom.” I knew she missed us and I wouldn’t miss dinner with her for anything. At the same time, I knew Jessica would be in town and probably Shayla too. I couldn’t wait to see them. I looked around and ran my tongue across my teeth. I needed to clean up before I saw anyone. “You know what Mom? I feel scummy from such a long drive. I think I’ll take a bath. Do you mind?”

“Go ahead honey,” she hugged me and added a little kiss on my cheek. “It’s good to have you home,” she smiled, holding my shoulders. She switched gears quickly yelling for my brothers. I took that as a good indicator that I could slip into a hot tub without being bothered. I grabbed some jeans and a tee-shirt and retreated to the bathroom. Passing the linen closet, I grabbed a washcloth and towel and locked the bathroom door behind me. As I inched my way into the piping hot tub, I thought about my week ahead. I was looking forward to seeing my friends and family. It was good to be home. I yawned and closed my eyes letting the hot water seep in and surround me. Just as I thought I could easily drift off to sleep, I was startled with a knock at the door.

“Guys, I’m in the tub,” I shouted without opening my eyes.

“It’s not your brothers!” a voice shouted back at me.

“So let us in,” said a second voice.

“Jess? Shayla? Grab the key above the door.” We kept the key there in case my little brother locked himself in; as he used to do. I quickly got out of the tub and wrapped myself in a towel.

“Hey Em! You didn’t have to get out,” Shayla said with a smirk. Jessica just smiled at me.

“No big deal. I just needed a quick soak.” We gave them each a quick hug. “How did you know I was here?” I asked perplexed by their quick arrival.

“Please, Brad saw you guys drive by and called me.” Shayla’s cousin could always be counted on to keep the town up on its gossip.

“So what are your plans while you’re home?” Jessica asked putting one of her fingers to her chin.

“No real plans. My mom wants me home for dinner tonight. But other than that, I’m free. What’s up?”

“So, she won’t mind if we steal you?” Shayla asked.

“No, we don’t have anything going. What do you want to do?” I couldn’t wait to fall back into hanging with Jessica and Shayla. I really missed them. I wanted to find out how they were doing in school, how it was going with Jessica’s new guy, and how all the gang was.

The three of us took off shortly after that. A bunch of people we knew were getting together in town at the coffee shop. There were a few people I would love to see and a few I wouldn’t mind avoiding, but that was another story.

As we drove out of the valley I watched the blur of the pasture fences, the occasional farmhouse and the mountains in the distance. Everything passed my vision like a slideshow. It was fall now, and the valley looked different than when I left it, but still every bump and turn mixed with the scent of fresh, damp hay smelled like home. I felt myself sigh and my chest tighten. I don’t think I bargained for how much I would think of Christian.

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A Friend Indeed – Character Introduction #5: Trish

Trish moves into the story just as Emily is starting to really get into her design classes. She is introduced in Call Me Emily but her character becomes even more integrated in Emily Calls It and Emily’s Calling. Trish is one of those deeply evolved friends you meet when you yourself have far to go. She’s cool, calm and collected and always seems to make good decisions. (Something Emily longs to do.) Trish is older than Emily, but only by about four years. She’s from the East Coast and is attending California West University to get her second Bachelors degree. Trish is quite beautiful; model-like in fact.  But it’s not her beauty that invites you in, it’s something else. She’s warm and caring, but sarcastic and funny at the same time. Trish is supportive of Emily and wants her to date and have fun. But she also has a little bit of big sister in her, and keeps a close eye on Emily and her relationship with Graham.

When I created Trish I didn’t base her on any one particular girl, but instead I thought back to several of my college friends that helped guide me during those fairly tumultuous years.

Below is an excerpt Call Me Emily and one from Emily’s Calling. The first is an early exchange that Emily and Trish have that lends itself to a deeper friendship than the kind that simply passes once a shared class has ended.

The second excerpt…fast forward a few years and it’s graduation day. Trish and Emily have become great friends and are now about to enter the “real world.”

Call Me Emily

Chapter 13

The Balancing Act

Thursday was a busy day in Design 101.  Midterms meant projects for design students, so although it was a relief not to study in the traditional sense for this class, the project was intense. Trish and I were partners on an office building. Everyone was paired up that day painting and gluing. I wondered if the white paint would ever come out from under my nails.

“So this Graham, he’s good to you?” she asked in a way only someone with a few years on me could ask.

“Yeah, of course.”

“You’ve never felt like this before?” She held a balsa wood column in place.

“I don’t know, it’s early.” But the truth was I hadn’t felt this way. The intensity was unparalleled. Trish smiled. One that came from experience. Then she moved our conversation back to the project.

Emily’s Calling

Chapter 1

A New Day

“Good morning graduating class of 1994.” Trish lifted her cup in my direction. Her long auburn hair was pulled into a ponytail and in even the most casual shorts she still could easily have passed for a model: tall-thin-beautiful. A combination you would hate about her if she weren’t so completely likeable.

“It is a good morning, isn’t it?”  I said as I approached the kitchen. She handed me a cup and rested against the countertop. I poured quickly and lifted it to my lips. It was a ritual that started my first day of college which now seemed long ago. Trish rolled her eyes as she usually did at my morning ritual but did so with a smirk.

“So when is the family getting in?” she asked holding onto her cup with both hands.

“Mom, Grandma and Hunter should get to Ethan’s house…” I looked at the microwave clock. “In a couple of hours. What about your family?”

“You remember. I have to pick them up at the airport.” She looked at her watch. “Now! Crap!” I heard the slam of the coffee cup as she grabbed the keys from across the counter, then the door shut before I had a chance to say anything.

“Bye,” I called after the door closed. Then I heard a knock about two seconds later. At her fierce pace I was sure it wasn’t Trish.

I opened the door and fresh beach air rushed over and past me. “Joel. Hey.” I moved aside for him to enter. He was dressed in his running gear.

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Joel: Just Friends? Character Introduction #4

Character introduction #4 is dedicated to Joel. Fourth to appear in the story,  Joel could be mistaken for Emily’s love interest. And to speak to that, I’d have to say, you’ll see. Joel is a character that appears throughout the first three books. He’s Ethan, Emily’s brother’s best friend. He and Emily cross paths regularly in Call Me Emily and even more frequently in Emily Calls It. And don’t forget his regular appearances in Emily’s Calling. Joel is the quintessential nice guy from the south. He’s tall and muscular but also smart as a whip, and he passed on an athletic scholarship to accept an academic one. While Ethan is fully submerged in Southern California life, Joel still maintains his southern character and charm.

As the story progresses and Emily gets involved with Graham, you wonder if she’ll ever see the potential relationship that lurks in Joel. And if and when she does, was she right to make that leap? The presence of Joel and the introduction of new male characters makes you question who will be the guy for her, and if she will make the right choice.  Here’s an excerpt from Joel and Emily’s first meeting. After the first day of school, Emily starts decorating her apartment to make it hers. She begins by painting the kitchen. Just when she’s finishing up there’s a knock at the door.

Chapter 4

Joel

Cleaning up, I caught a glimpse of my reflection in the microwave. What was that on my forehead? I leaned in closer to see a big streak of green paint. And the spatters across my shirt and down my right arm. How did I do that? As I pulled down the last of the tape, there was a knock at the door. Great! Who could that be? And furthermore, I was not dressed for visitors. I set down the big mess of tape and went to the door. Through the peephole I saw a couple of guys faced away from the door. Oh, no, neighbors. I opened the door and decided to get it over with.

“Hey Em. What’s up? You renovating or something?” My brother moved past me, not waiting for a response.

“No, just painting the kitchen,” I said looking up at the second guy.

“Hey. I’m Joel,” he said with a slow, deep drawl. I immediately paid attention.

“Oh, this is my sister Emily,” said Ethan, turning back to us.

“Come in. Oh, and forgive the mess.”

“We were just heading out for a run and decided to stop by. Want to come?” Ethan asked.

“I need to finish cleaning up,” I said, looking down as I tried to smooth out my shirt. It was a hopeless attempt.

“Wow, Em, this looks great,” Ethan said.

“Thanks.” He walked toward the wall. “Oh, be careful, it’s still wet.” I warned him.

“Yeah, you’ve got yur-self a nice place. My apartment’s plain,” Joel added. With every word I wondered about his possible hometown. It definitely wasn’t Texas, but where? I didn’t ask.

“You’d have to know my sister. In no time she’ll completely change this place.”

“I could use some tips,” Joel said.

I smiled not really knowing if he was posing a question or stating a fact.

“Well,” Ethan said looking from me to Joel then back to me, “we better go.”

“It was a pleasure Em’ly,” Joel said leaning up against the front door.

“Nice to meet you too,” I translated to California style.  Then I glanced at my brother, whose sober frown indicated he didn’t approve of our little flirtation.

“Bye Ethan. Maybe I’ll see you on campus tomorrow.”

“Actually, did you want to see that new Tom Cruise movie Saturday night?” he asked. I wanted to reply with something smart like, Saturday night? With your little sister? But I figured he was going for nice, and so far this alone thing wasn’t that great.

“Yeah, sure.”

“Cool, I’ll call you with the times.”

“OK, I’ll see ya,” I smiled a smile only he would understand and shut the door. OK, I knew three things for sure:

First, my brother didn’t like it when his friends flirted with me – despite the fact he’d been doing it for years with my friends. And, I liked it a little that he was so annoyed with me. Second, it was nice to have someone flirt with me when I was covered in paint splatters. And third, I knew Mom must be on his case to not leave me alone too much. But alone I was and I had plenty to do. Back to my reading assignments I went.

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That One and Only New Love – Character Introduction #3: Graham

If friends are like cupcakes then what scrumptious dessert would that new, intense and special love be? Humm. I’ll leave that up to you.

Ah Graham. Week three of my character introductions continues with Graham. Emily meets Graham almost immediately when she starts University. He charismatic, chivalrous, persistent and above all, hot. It’s obvious upon meeting him that his experience outweighs hers by leaps and bounds; which let’s face it, is extremely sexy at her age. The way he looks out of the corners of his eyes at her with a sly and flirtatious smile drives her crazy.  And his ever so often rescues from her ridiculous clumsy streak only endear him more to her.

After numerous advances, Emily agrees to go out with Graham, sending her down a fast and turbulent path that leads her to question a great many things that she has come to know in her life.

So to address the endless question about who I based Graham on. It’s funny actually. Graham has always stood completely on his own two feet for me. I see no ex boyfriend or past crush. I only see him. I picture his face, his now typical smirk and the fast black car he drives, and he seems like a real person to me. And I can honestly say, I fabricated him completely out of thin air. That said, he absolutely lived in my life when I wrote Call Me Emily Emily Calls It and Emily’s Calling. There were days when I knew I was about to write a twist and turn with Graham and I dreaded it. I didn’t want to taint the connection I felt to him. I know, crazy talk right? Well who knows, but that set of feelings I felt for him helped me to create an amazing character that I think all women will fall in love with and all men would want to hang out with. I could go on and on about Graham – and I have. But I think this example from Call Me Emily will give you a nice little picture of THE GUY. The one that turns Emily’s world upside down. Sometimes in a good way, and sometimes not.

To pick one excerpt that sums up Graham is like picking one pair of shoes. And if you know me, that’s almost impossible. So after reviewing about twenty Graham scenes, I decided to include the scene that shows the intensity that is Graham. The moment when Emily’s life stands on end.  It’s a pivotal scene for a few reasons. See if you can pick them out.

It’s Emily and Graham first date. While they’ve spent time flirting in Spanish class, this is the first time he’s taken her out. Over dinner they discuss her love of art history. And the evening takes off from there. Oh, and yes, there is the kiss. THE KISS that says much more than “I like you.”

The First Kiss

“My parents have a Toulouse-Lautrec. Maybe you’d like to see it sometime?” He moved his thumb across my fingertips. It wasn’t surprising that his mother would own exquisite paintings, but to get your hands on an original Toulouse-Lautrec was no small feat.

“I’d like that.” The thought of meeting his parents was kind of nerve-wracking and seemed an early topic, but I really wanted to see the painting.

“Actually,” he paused and looked for a second like he might not say anything else, “they are out of town previewing colleges with my brother, and the house is just a few blocks away. What do you think?”

My instinct was to say no, but I couldn’t help myself. I was having such a nice time with him and I was curious about seeing a real work of art. “I’d love to see it.” That also meant I didn’t have to meet his parents right now, and that was a relief.

When we drove up, the place was black. Not one light was on, so I knew they must be out of town. Again he placed his hand in the middle of my upper back to lead me to the front door. The way he did this made me wonder if it was a typical posturing for him and his dates. But I didn’t dwell on that thought.

He reached inside the door and turned on the porch light and the entry light, or rather the chandelier. There were several lights across the front  that illuminated the long house. I would describe it as a beach house, but there was nothing quaint and beachy about it. It was big and illustrious with heavy white shutters and a sweeping roof that came down and ended in thick eves. It was monumental, like the rich grandfather of all beach houses. I was impressed.

“Come on.” He passed me in the entry and took my hand to lead me to another room. I followed along, but looked up at the chandelier as I passed under it, mesmerized by the light as it danced across each of the cut glass pieces. He paused in front of the open door to the next room and flipped on a series of light switches. Against the far wall was the painting. I knew it immediately. It was smaller than I thought it would be, and framed in a heavy gold-tipped frame. It was placed with nothing around it, and three lights above that were probably installed specifically for viewing it. I walked straight over, not waiting for Graham.

“See the way he used the brush? The strokes are so unique.” I reached up and hovered my fingers above the painting, not wanting to get too close. I traced the brushstrokes in the air above the painting following every loop. I heard him come up behind me.

I looked out of the right corners of my eyes without turning around, trying to see how close he was to me.  Then I felt the buttons of his shirt graze my back. I stopped talking; his closeness had stopped my train of thought. I felt his breath caress my back. Looking over my shoulder, I met his eyes. Without breaking our eye contact, he turned me around taking a step to the side of the painting and me with him.

I stood with my back against the wall questioning him without saying a word. He never took his eyes from mine as he wrapped our hands together.  He leaned into me touching his lips to mine. It was a gentle and quick kiss. When he pulled away, I was surprised at my reaction; I followed his kiss wanting more. I kept my eyes with his, trying to figure out what he would do next.  As he pulled back from me just one corner of his mouth turned up into a smile; I think he knew I wanted him to kiss me again. He lifted his hands to my face and pulled me closer. This time his lips parted mine softly. He moved his hands from my face along my neck as his kiss became deeper. His body pressed against mine pushing me further into the wall behind me. I pressed my hands against the wall to brace myself.  His kisses slowed, soft again but rich with pleasure. As he pulled away, he swept a few strands of hair from my face and tucked them behind my ear.

“I guess I can’t call you Spanish Girl anymore,” he said as another smile snuck out of the corner of his mouth.

“I guess you’ll have to call me Emily.”

“I guess.” He leaned into me again and swept his lips across mine. I moved my hands from the wall along his chest, up to his face and kissed him back. It was divine.

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The Query Response

Dear Author,
Thank you very much for giving us the opportunity to read your
submission.  We appreciate you considering us for representation of
your project.

Unfortunately…

And they go something like that.

What I’ve learned:

So far the response has been huge. NOT! Well, I shouldn’t say that. Every agent I’ve queried, with the exception of one, has responded with a similar letter. I just started the query process in January so I haven’t sent that many submissions, but it feels like it sometimes. Every time I see a query response pop up on my Blackberry my heart quickens and hopefulness bubbles over. Then I have a few minutes of disappointment, which is better than the tears that flowed the first day, and I move on. It’s a humbling experience dealing with rejection. It makes you stronger for sure.

What I know:

The world will soon be ready for my gifts. (And not only because I opened a fortune cookie the other day that said just that.) But because Call Me Emily and the sequels are wonderful books that WILL touch the lives of many. Someone will love the story and the writing and ask me for the full manuscript. It only takes one yes and I know it’s not far off. So while the next query responses pour in, regardless of what they say, I will take it in stride knowing these things take time and I’m exactly where I need to be right now. Exactly.

What I ask:

So what I ask from you, my loyal readers, is to repeat after me:

YES!

Say it in the shower, when you’re driving, whenever. Just say it. And be happy I’m not asking you to do the dance. Everyone around here is.

Until next time,

Laura

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What’s Up?

I know. I know. I’ve been distant. It’s not you. It’s me. I swear…

The end of 2010 came like a rolling wave. I worked hard to finish the final edits of my first two books. Barely giving myself a seconds break, I dove into the first round of query letters. I wrote each agent specifically and poured over the letters time and time again before sending them out on the fifth of this month. And now I’m waiting patiently. Well, not really, but I’m waiting.

To distract myself I’m writing another book that will take its place behind Emily Calls It. What was once a three book series has grown to four. Emily’s Calling doesn’t quite pick up where the former book left off, but close. It’s Emily’s graduation day and changes are in store for her. Changes she doesn’t see coming at all.

Emily’s Calling

When Emily graduates from college she soon finds out there is more to life than simply less homework. She is tried again when professional challenges come her way with new responsibilities. Can she juggle the corporate world, a new love and all that comes with it?

Chapter 1

“Good morning graduating class of 1994.” Trish lifted her cup in my direction. Her long auburn hair was pulled into a ponytail and in even the most casual shorts she still could have easily passed for a model; tall-thin-beautiful. A combination you would hate about her if she wasn’t so completely likeable.

“It is a good morning isn’t it?”  I said as I approached the kitchen. She handed me a cup and slid against the counter top moving out of the way of the coffee pot. I poured quickly then lifted it to my lips. It was a ritual that started my first day of college which now seemed long ago. I let the dusky coffee aroma fill my lungs before I took my first sip. Trish rolled her eyes as she usually did at my morning ritual but did so with a little smirk on her face.

“So when is the family getting in?” she asked holding onto her cup with both hands as she pulled it up to her lips.

“Mom, Grandma and Hunter should get to Ethan’s house…” I looked at the microwave clock for a clue. “In a couple of hours. What about your family?”

“You remember. I have to pick them up at the airport.” She looked at her watch. “Now! Crap!” I heard the slam of the coffee cup and the sliding of the keys across the counter then the door shut before I had a chance to say anything.

“Bye,” I called after the door closed. Then I heard a knock about two seconds later. At her fierce pace I was sure she was gone. Who could it be?

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The Third Wheel

Often I receive comments from readers requesting excerpts from the books. Many people have asked for excerpts from the sequels in particular. I hesitate to release any information about the sequels because with each story new drama is born. And, as a result of that drama and conflict, comes change. And change brings spoilers. Something I don’t want my readers to experience.

However, I recently did a very in-depth edit of the second book, Emily Calls It. There is one scene that is especially dear to me that I thought I’d share. It’s at a time when Emily feels vulnerable, and I think we’ve all been there.

In the scene that follows she goes to a beach party with another couple; hence the third wheel issue. Walking toward the party, she makes a few observations.

Enjoy!

The Third Wheel

I slipped off my sandals and trudged along, sinking into the still mildly warm sand with every step.  I heard a low rumble of voices blend with rolling waves before I could actually see the bonfire.  When it came into view, I sighed again. But this time, at the scene. There was a car pulled onto the sand with all the windows down giving a gift of music. I say “gift” generously. The music was loud, and with every boom the tiny car vibrated. The bonfire blazed in a concrete pit, and groups of guys in tee-shirts and shorts and girls in ‘way too revealing’ sundresses surrounded it. It crackled and shot tiny sparks into the darkening sky above. I looked at each of the faces glowing orange from the light of the fire. I didn’t recognize anyone and felt my shoulders slump with disappointment. I rubbed my eyes, irritated from the smoke as it drifted my way. It passed by me as quickly as it came and I could see again. A girl let out a high pitched squeak when a random guy dropped an ice cube down her back. She hopped and reached to fish it out, laughing and cursing at him the whole time. Back to her group of girls she went. Then I noticed something notable. In each person’s hand was a signature red cup, indicating there must be a keg somewhere, and that little observation perked me right up.

Just as I was resigned to be a third wheel, I saw him. He looked over his shoulder and in mid-conversation lifted his head in my direction with a broad smile. I smiled back, a confident smile. He looked back toward the guy he was talking to, ended his conversation and walked over.

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Character Introduction #6 Jessica and Shayla

This character introduction might be the most fun I’ve had telling all of you about my characters.  Shayla and Jessica are ever present in the whole Emily series as it spans the four books.

Jessica is Emily’s best friend from way back. They’ve known each other since grammar school, so to them it feels like sisterhood. Jessica is a soft and sweet soul. She’s the friend that is always there even when she’s not. Much time can pass and Emily and Jessica hardly skip a beat; jumping right back into conversation as if the phone was never hung up. Jessica goes to college in Washington State, miles away from Emily, but during the summer break they meet back in their home town and mischievous events occur.

Speaking of mischievous. Shayla fits into that word like a hand does to a glove. For as far back as anyone can remember, Emily, Jessica and Shayla were inseparable. Jessica the calm and Shayla the instigator. If you ever need a laugh, a lift or a smile, Shayla is your girl. She’s fun to the core, and you can’t help but unconditionally love her – although you wish for conditions every moment you are around her. Emily considers herself the buffer between Jessica and Shayla, but no buffer is every really needed. The dynamic between the three of them is priceless and beautiful.

And now comes the part of the post when I tell you what these characters mean to me.  As I have mentioned in past character introductions, many of my characters have no basis in my reality. They are fiction through and through. I’d be lying if I told you Jessica and Shayla fell into that category.

Jessica is based upon my friend Larise. A truly wonderful person who spends her days enlightening the minds of second graders and her nights tending to her beautiful family. She lives far away and we rarely are able to talk, but when I hear her voice or see her handwriting I can’t help but be pulled from whatever I’m doing and placed smack back into the last time we communicated; as if no time had passed at all.

Shayla is based upon my friend Shannon. Shannon is another truly amazing person who has the power and energy of a small child yet she’s perfectly evolved.  She’s funny. – I mean really funny, but soulful at the same time. She’s almost hard to describe, but to really nail it I’d have to quote the reaction everyone has to her. It goes something like this: “I just love that girl.” and “You can’t help but love Shannon.”

What’s been amazing about the writing process is that even though I have been apart from these two amazing women for far too long, I felt like I saw them every day while I brought my stories to life. We recently reunited, and when I finally pulled them into my arms and gave them a well deserved hug, I felt like I missed them less than I would have had they not lived in the pages I spent the last few years writing.

So, thank you Larise and Shannon for being at my side while I rounded out this story of love and friendship. Because you both are truly my love and my friendship.

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Character Introduction #5: Trish

Trish moves into the story just as Emily is starting to really get into her design classes. She is introduced in Call Me Emily but her character really evolves in Emily Calls It. Trish is one of those deeply evolved friends you meet when you yourself have far to go. She’s cool, calm and collected and always seems to make good decisions. (Something Emily longs to do.) Trish is older than Emily, but only by about four years. She’s from the East Coast and is attending California West University to get her second Bachelors degree. Trish is quite beautiful; model-like in fact.  But it’s not her beauty that invites you in, it’s something else. She’s warm and caring, but sarcastic and funny at the same time. Trish is supportive of Emily and wants her to date and have fun. But she also has a little bit of big sister in her, and keeps a close eye on Emily and her relationship with Graham.

When I created Trish I didn’t base her on any one particular girl, but instead I thought back to several of my college friends that helped guide me during those fairly tumultuous years.

Below is an excerpt Call Me Emily. This is one of the first exchanges that Emily and Trish have that lends itself to a deeper friendship than the kind that simply passes once a shared class has ended. Their friendship takes off after this.

Chapter 12

The Balancing Act

Back in the classroom that Thursday it was a busy day in Design 101.  Midterms meant projects for design students, so although it was a relief to not have to study in the traditional sense for this class, the project was intense. Trish and I were partners on a model of an office building. Everyone was paired up that day painting and gluing. My fingertips were covered and I wondered if the white paint would ever come out from under my nails.

“So this Graham, he’s good to you?” she asked in a way only a person who had a few years on me would.

“Yeah, of course.” I shrugged and a coy little smile snuck out of one of the corners of my mouth.

“You’ve never felt like this before?” she asked as she held one of the balsa wood columns in place.

“I don’t know, it’s early.” But the truth was I hadn’t felt this way. The intensity was unparalleled. Trish smiled a smile that I’m sure came from experience and moved our conversation back to our project.

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Charater Introduction #4: Joel

Character introduction #4 is dedicated to Joel. Fourth to appear in the story,  Joel could be mistaken for Emily’s love interest. And to speak to that, I’d have to say, you’ll see. Joel is a character that appears throughout the first three books. He’s Ethan, Emily’s brother’s best friend. He and Emily cross paths regularly in Call Me Emily and even more frequently in Emily Calls It. And don’t forget his regular appearances in Emily’s Calling. Joel is the quintessential nice guy from the south. He’s tall and muscular but also smart as a whip, and he passed on an athletic scholarship to accept an academic one. While Ethan is fully submerged in Southern California life, Joel still maintains his southern character and charm.

As the story progresses and Emily gets involved with Graham, you wonder if she’ll ever see the potential relationship that lurks in Joel. And if and when she does, was she right to make that leap? The presence of Joel and the introduction of new male characters makes you question who will be the guy for her, and if she will make the right choice.  Here’s an excerpt from Joel and Emily’s first meeting. After the first day of school, Emily starts decorating her apartment to make it hers. She begins by painting the kitchen. Just when she’s finishing up there’s a knock at the door.

Chapter 4

Joel

Cleaning up, I caught a glimpse of my reflection in the microwave. What was that on my forehead? I leaned in closer to see a big streak of green paint. And the spatters across my shirt and down my right arm. How did I do that? As I pulled down the last of the tape, there was a knock at the door. Great! Who could that be? And furthermore, I was not dressed for visitors. I set down the big mess of tape and went to the door. Through the peephole I saw a couple of guys faced away from the door. Oh, no, neighbors. I opened the door and decided to get it over with.

“Hey Em. What’s up? You renovating or something?” My brother moved past me, not waiting for a response.

“No, just painting the kitchen,” I said looking up at the second guy.

“Hey. I’m Joel,” he said with a slow, deep drawl. I immediately paid attention.

“Oh, this is my sister Emily,” said Ethan, turning back to us.

“Come in. Oh, and forgive the mess.”

“We were just heading out for a run and decided to stop by. Want to come?” Ethan asked.

“I need to finish cleaning up,” I said, looking down as I tried to smooth out my shirt. It was a hopeless attempt.

“Wow, Em, this looks great,” Ethan said.

“Thanks.” He walked toward the wall. “Oh, be careful, it’s still wet.” I warned him.

“Yeah, you’ve got yur-self a nice place. My apartment’s plain,” Joel added. With every word I wondered about his possible hometown. It definitely wasn’t Texas, but where? I didn’t ask.

“You’d have to know my sister. In no time she’ll completely change this place.”

“I could use some tips,” Joel said.

I smiled not really knowing if he was posing a question or stating a fact.

“Well,” Ethan said looking from me to Joel then back to me, “we better go.”

“It was a pleasure Em’ly,” Joel said leaning up against the front door.

“Nice to meet you too,” I translated to California style.  Then I glanced at my brother, whose sober frown indicated he didn’t approve of our little flirtation.

“Bye Ethan. Maybe I’ll see you on campus tomorrow.”

“Actually, did you want to see that new Tom Cruise movie Saturday night?” he asked. I wanted to reply with something smart like, Saturday night? With your little sister? But I figured he was going for nice, and so far this alone thing wasn’t that great.

“Yeah, sure.”

“Cool, I’ll call you with the times.”

“OK, I’ll see ya,” I smiled a smile only he would understand and shut the door. OK, I knew three things for sure:

First, my brother didn’t like it when his friends flirted with me – despite the fact he’d been doing it for years with my friends. And, I liked it a little that he was so annoyed with me. Second, it was nice to have someone flirt with me when I was covered in paint splatters. And third, I knew Mom must be on his case to not leave me alone too much. But alone I was and I had plenty to do. Back to my reading assignments I went.

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