Where Did You Come From?
Thank you, Sue, for having me talk about my main character, Allie Palmer, from "I Believe."
To ask how I developed Allie, we have to look at where the idea for "I Believe" originated.
Two years ago at RWA National, I roomed with the fabulous historical/hysterical author, Elizabeth Essex. One morning, I woke up and said to Ms. Essex, "I had a dream," who threw a pen and pad at me with the orders to "write it down." I (follow directions well) scribbled down lots. The dream was about a girl who had to use magic to find her true love and recited a chant.
When I returned home, I developed the full story. Before I knew it:
1. Allie is a college graduate
2. Works as a creative director at a wedding company
3. Drives a new Jeep
4. Has a beautiful apartment and a newly adopted cat
5. Has one sister, two cousins
She sounds perfect, doesn't she? So what's the problem? Who wants to read about perfect people?
The key to "I Believe" is in these first two lines: Loneliness is a four-letter word. And I'd been lonely far too long.
I felt this was a big admission for Allie as she sat at the Singleteener's Club, a group formed with her sister and cousins when they were fancy-free gals. At this meeting, Allie realized--again--she was the only member not married. To top it off, her sister and cousins were knitting. And as they stand to leave, we discover they are pregnant. Somehow, her family had formed another club Allie wasn't a part of. She's missing something big in her life.
So why hadn't Allie found her man? Could it be her attitude? Here's an excerpt:
"You're too picky."
"Yeah, picky," Bitsy said. "Men fall at your feet, even when you treat them like slime balls. And still they come back for more. Go figure."
"I. Am. Not. Picky." My eyes rolled ceiling-ward. "I followed Single-teeners's rules. Remember our standards? Doctors. Lawyers. Accountants. Not delivery men-slash-box company owners."
"Those standards go beyond club requirements." Paige clicked a stitch counter. "Picking boogers from noses . . . ." She snapped her finger in the universal flipped-off gesture. "Gone."
Bitsy perked up. "Moustache and/or beard?"
Snap went Martha. "Gone."
"Zip-up dress shoes—"
"Okay!" I flashed my palms their way. "Point taken, except for nose picking. Did you ever stop to think maybe nothing jived between those bozos and me? No chemistry? That's what a successful relationship needs, as you well know."
It would be easy to say Allie is picky, but underlying her pickiness is superficiality. She needs to get past outward appearances to find the inner man. (Which tends to be the theme in most of my stories--everyone's not quite what they seem.) Frustrated, she says this:
I tossed my hands skyward. "I don't know what else to do. Post a want ad on Facebook or Craigslist? Wave a magic wand?"
A hush cloaked the room. Paige's project fell to her lap. "Did Allie say magic?"
Magic? Here is where the chant (which is a lovely story of itself) comes in. Ultimately, we find the conflict with using magic is the grandmother who had her special "ways," once helped a young woman who'd died when the concoction went bad. As a result, the community shunned the family. If Allie does the spell, and someone found out, she could be shunned too, and that was something she didn't want to experience. And adds more conflict.
Allie is willing to risk all when she says, "I'd give everything away, except for Miss Moxie—we're a joint package—to have a death-do-us-part relationship."
What is life? An adventure! The story takes off on Allie's journey to find her dream man and possibly, using magic to help her. If we're hooked (meaning I've done my job), we'll tag along, too. We'll suffer and rejoice with her highs and lows as she looks for her true love to find her happily ever after.
"I Believe" is available through www.nobleromance.com.
This conversation was going nowhere except down the Port-A-Potty. But as I sat there and thoughts passed through what little brains my dad teased I had, I noticed the girls shared a distinct look, like they knew something I didn't. Each lifted one brow, a shoulder raised in a bare shrug, as if they were communicating through . . . telepathy.
How weird. Definitely suspicious. I asked, "What?"
"Nothing," Martha said.
My head went no-no-no. "Not buying it. You have some secret in our club. We'd agreed to be the four Single-teeners, like the fabulous Musketeers. 'All for one and one for all'—remember?"
"We remember." With one final shared look, Paige said, "Okay, fine. But don't get mad."
"I won't get mad. I will if you don't tell me ASAP."
"You might after . . . ." Bitsy's gaze darted to her sister's and then mine.
"Get on with it, will ya." I checked my watch. "I have a date—"
"You've been holding out," Martha said. "Tell all."
Smiling smugly on the inside, and with a knowing grin on the outside, I let them stew over my nugget for a bit. They were way off mark and needed a lesson on how not to mess with the master.
When I didn't volunteer anything, Bitsy said, "I give up. Allie?"
Guesstimating they'd suffered long enough, I pointed their way. "Gotcha."
"I don't get it." Paige's brow V-ed. "You don't have a date, after all?"
I laughed. "Not the kind you're thinking. I have a rendezvous with Miss Moxie."
"Oh." They drooped in their respective chairs like deflated balloons.
"Your new cat," Bitsy said with a snort. "How's that workin' for you?"
Like some of her characters, Vicki has worked a wide variety of jobs including lifeguard, ride attendant at an amusement park; a hardware store, department store, book store, antique store clerk; administrative assistant in an international real estate firm; and a general “do anything gal” at a financial services firm. The list is…endless.
Born in Dallas, a graduate of Texas Tech, she is married to Handsome, has two big boys, two attention-demanding cats, and two adorable poopies.
Writing for several years, she has completed three manuscripts, written essays, and sold many short stories. She is a member of RWA, and the DARA, Elements, and RWA-WF chapters. In 2004 she joined DARA and has served in many capacities, including 2009 President. Recently, she was awarded the 2010 Robin Teer Memorial Service Award.
Most days begin with her hands set to the keyboard and thinking "What if??"