Writing With The Stars - Vote For The Secondary Character

Best Secondary Character

The votes continue to pour in for Writing With the Stars! We had another record-breaking number of people voting for their favorite author to be the next Kensington Brava author. The voting for round three has been tallied and it’s time to say goodbye to Lisa Kessler (“Moonlight”) and Madeline Smyth (“Aliya Arabesque”). Given that they beat out many other aspiring writers to make it into this competition, we know we’ll hear more from them in the future! You can keep up with them at their websites: Myspace.com/lisas_lair/blog and MadelineSmyth.com.

Now it’s time for round four — the best secondary character.

Our contestants had free rein in deciding how to formulate their entries — some focused on comedic relief, others on characters who should star in their own books. Evaluating their entries this month is guest judge Laura Bradford from the Bradford Literary Agency.

Voting for round fo­ur starts today and runs through January 30th. You can only cast your vote once; but as with the previous rounds, you will be able to post your comments on the bottom of this page. So get ready, get set — vote!

ROUND FOUR'S JUDGE: Laura Bradford

Bradford established the Bradford Literary Agency in 2001. Since then she has sold more than 200 books and her recent sales include titles placed with Berkley, Grand Central, Harlequin, Kensington, Simon and Schuster, HarperCollins, Hyperion, Macmillan, Adams Media and others. She continues to actively build her client list and is currently seeking work in the following genres: romance (historical, romantic suspense, paranormal, category, contemporary, erotic), urban fantasy, women’s fiction, mystery, thrillers and young adult as well as some select nonfiction. She is a member of the Association of Authors’ Representatives (AAR) and Romance Writers of America and she is an RWA-recognized agent. You can visit her online at BradfordLit.com.



Maeve Greyson
Gilbertsville, KY


Eternity’s Mark (Paranormal)

SECONDARY CHARACTER: Bumbling and inquisitive as a big-footed pup, William won Hannah’s love the instant his shimmering green nose pushed through the shell. A wiggling bundle of iridescent scales topped with wings and horns, William’s likeness to the prints of the mythical dragons Hannah once studied is only contradicted by his newborn size. The first of the Draecna hatchlings released from the protective spell of his egg, William becomes the full-of-mischief, exasperating son Hannah never had. When he’s not providing the castle with Draecna flatulence to ignite into balls of fire, he continues to forget the wise admonition: “Never piss into the wind.” Under the tutelage of the elder Draecnas, William struggles with learning the tenets of his race while waiting for the power of his first flame. When war breaks out, William matures quickly, protecting Hannah and unleashing his first blaze to avenge them all.

MENTOR REBECCA ZANETTI: The description of William is wonderful and heartwarming. I suggested Maeve explain what a “Draecna” is as well as tell us just a bit more about what makes William either so loving or mischievous. When Maeve revised, William’s full description made me laugh out loud. He is truly likable just from reading one small paragraph.

JUDGE’S TAKE: It sounds like William is set up to be a comic-relief sort of character. Most of this description is on the silly side, which is fine, but clearly there is a turning point when war breaks out and William has to mature. My question is whether this happens early in the book or late? Also, what is the scope of the book … since you mentioned the character’s birth and growth, I am wondering whether that is all happening on the page, or just backstory for the character. I feel differently about the character if he plays the role of the jester for most of the book vs. whether he plays the part of the green, but valiant protector for the bulk of the narrative.

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You can find this contestant online at MaeveGreyson.com and MaeveGreyson.Blogspot.com. You can find her mentor, Rebecca Zanetti, at her website, www.rebeccazanetti.com


Dale Mayer
B.C., Canada

Tuesday’s Child (Romantic Suspense)

SECONDARY CHARACTER: An incredibly gifted psychic and artist, Stefan Kronos uses his creativity to release the images and visions that haunt him. His resulting artwork — desperate, extreme and incredibly agonizing to view — hangs in private collections all over the world. Stefan is endowed with the body and face of Adonis, even the barest of his smiles is capable of luring men and women into letting him see their innermost secrets. Intensely private and eerily accurate, Stefan walks a path forged from his own boundaries. He keeps one foot in the light and one in the shadows as he straddles both worlds, helping the police to capture the darkest of criminals even while shunning the very public he works to save.

MENTOR CYNTHIA EDEN: Dale had a lot of really good information regarding Stefan’s character. My advice was to tighten up the writing for his description — shorten some of her sentences and eliminate a few repetitive character traits. She revised and described a character so compelling that I want him to have his own book!

JUDGE'S TAKE:  This is a secondary character? He has a real tortured hero quality about him given your description. It makes me wonder whether you plan to give him his own book at some point. To me, this description is all mood (except where you mentioned that he had the body and face of Adonis, which was a bit too superlative for me) and while I am digging the mood, it is a bit hard to get a bead on the character. Using words like agonizing and desperate and haunt makes me think that his skill is an unpleasant burden. Then you mention that he can lure people into revealing their secrets, so he does seem to have some measure of control over his ability. I get the vibe that his ability takes a huge toll on him, so I find myself curious about why he chooses to do what hurts him. Is there an element of self-hate there? Sounds like a really juicy character.

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You can find this contestant online at DaleMayer.com. You can find her mentor, Cynthia Eden, at her website, www.cynthiaeden.com.


Diana Quincy
Ashburn, VA

Seducing Charlotte (Historical)

SECONDARY CHARACTER: His was a masculine face etched in hard lines. Not particularly handsome, the duke possessed sharp-cut features which hinted of menace. He wore his black hair long, tying it fastidiously back at the nape of his neck. Though terribly out of fashion, the style somehow seemed to suit him, even as it emphasized the unforgiving angles of his profile. Everything about Hartwell, from the magnificent way he carried himself to his impeccable grooming, suggested a man of consequence. He managed to exude an air of command and abundance of charisma by simply walking across the room. Willa obviously adored him, but Charlotte felt distinctly uneasy in his presence.

MENTOR MARY WINE: This really grabbed my attention. There were only a few adjustments here because after reading this description I found a picture of this man in my imagination and I so want to know if Willa can knock him out of his polished shoes.

JUDGE’S TAKE:  I can totally picture Hartwell here. I am guessing that he is generally a “good” character despite that hint of menace in his features. Actually, that hint of menace is one of the things that makes him interesting, instead of coming across like stock-titled man No. 4. Hartwell has a hero’s air about him in this description — he isn’t without flaw but the flaws you describe are ones that readers generally accept with their protagonists. It makes me wonder if he is being groomed to be the hero of another book. Even if he is, don’t be afraid to throw an elbow with a more wildly swinging character trait or two. You might be able to make this character 10 times juicier if you toss in a new angle … like this is his first appearance in society after being released from prison two days earlier. You don’t want your secondary characters to steal the story from your protagonists of course, but it is food for thought.

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You can find this contestant online at DianaQuincy.Blogspot.com. You can find her mentor, Mary Wine, at her website, www.marywine.com.


Meredith Simmons
Wilson, NC

Indentured Hearts (Historical)

SECONDARY CHARACTER: When Mavis Fry laughed, the sound circled the room like smoke on a damp day, and every man in the vicinity knew what had made Mavis the most sought-after courtesan in London a quarter of a century earlier. That pulchritude had passed beyond plumpness and the fabled raven locks were now gray made no difference. Men noticed.

Women had a different view. They saw a fat, aging woman of questionable morals who had once owned the largest brothel in York County, Virginia, and was now the housekeeper for that jumped-up blacksmith who’d made so much money smelting iron. They tittered behind their hands when they speculated about what went on at night between Mavis and the little ex-jockey she’d taken up with.

But Mavis knew what time had taught her, that opportunity and love can come in many forms and sizes, and, knowing this, she would laugh her smoky laugh.

MENTOR BRONWEN EVANS: Meredith wrote a lovely character description. I could immediately picture the aging courtesan and I liked her.

JUDGE’S TAKE: I kind of love Mavis and the idea of a Mavis. Courtesan/brothel owner to housekeeper sounds like a compelling journey, one I don’t know that I have encountered before. At first glimpse, she does not come across as that same former courtesan/madam we have all seen before … the one that is hardened or jaded or bitter or scheming. I feel rather delighted by her. I think the description is evocative and rich and I feel I absolutely “get” who this character is, right away. Lovely job.

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You can find this contestant online at MeredithSimmons.com. You can find her mentor, Bronwen Evans, at her website, www.bronwenevans.com.


Voting for the fourth round is now open. You can only cast your vote once but can comment as many times as you'd like. Voting closes on January 30th.


Submitted by noahbjr on January 18, 2011 - 4:04pm.

William is the kind of character that is most interesting; he makes the book great! Also Im glad to have a Judge that doesn’t crucify the authors.

Tuesday’s Child

Submitted by Debra V on January 18, 2011 - 3:33pm.

I really, really want to read this book!!!!!