Charlene Newsletter Banner Red (1)Confession:  I can’t write a book by myself.  I need help when I’m developing a story to make the story shine with authenticity.  Being realistic and getting the facts right, are my first priority…well after writing a compelling story, that is.

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Although, I tap into distant and not so distant memories, make mental and physical notes and extract info from my brain that I’m surprised I know — like when I play a trivia game, and my instincts tell me the answer, even when I actually don’t know HOW I know it. (I’m sure this happens to you too!)  Of course, pouring over books on a particular subject and surfing the internet has made researching a story much easier, I’ve found sometimes interviewing an expert, is the best way to put that authentic glow on a story.

I don’t cold call experts.  But I have a lot of friends and acquaintances that I’m lucky to have giving me guidance and help when needed.  Here’s a few examples from researching my story, The Texas Renegade Returns starring Alejandro del Toro and Cara Windsor.

Alejandro del Toro was born and raised in Mexico:

My best friend is Mexican. I asked him to give me some idea of what family life was like, culture and food-especially food.  He told me a story of how his mother would make after school snacks of homemade tortillas filled with beans and potatoes and fried and how much he and his siblings loved them.  I put a scene in my book where my amnesia-ridden hero is speaking to his sister, Gabriella as she is cooking (tortillas) and he flashed a memory of his young life and the divine snacks made by his Tia Manuela. The scene really worked well.  Thank you, Richard!

carol bCara rescued a horse that was abused:

My cousin owns a stable of horses on her property, complete with beautiful stalls and a corral.  The horses are the sweetest equines you’d ever want to meet. She is a member of Freedom for Wild Horses and very active in saving wild horses’ lives.   This was a no-brainer.  Just visiting her and seeing how she cares for the horses and sharing with me stories about abuse etc, made this plot point in the story compelling and sweet.  Thank you, Carol and Gary, cousins!

Alex was sent from Mexico by his father to spy on and eventually take over Windsor Oil, Cara’s father’s company:

Ah… a takeover bid was nothing I knew about. Luckily for me, our dear friend is a financial broker and has been in the business for years.  I simply had to ask some key questions and then he pointed me to research newspaper articles about a big name recent takeover that chronicled what happened.  Though, only part of that research was put in the story (it is estimated that writers only use 10% of what they actually learn in research) I felt I could write this story with a good grasp on how that process works.
Thanks for the help, Bruce!

The book I’m writing now is about a hero with a broken foot, in a cast.  I have a good friend who is a nurse…guiding my way.  And so it goes. I couldn’t write my stories, without a little help from my friends!

Today I’m giving away a copy of my E-BOOK Smooth-Talking the Hometown Girl OR The Cowboy Contract.  Leave a comment about how much your friends mean to you.  Do they help and support you?  Are they like family?

The Texas Renegade Returns














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22 thoughts on “WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM MY FRIENDS by Charlene Sands”

  1. Friends help encourage you when you are down or lack the motivation to continue writing. They give you constructive criticism that is helpful, rather than cutting. And yes, they are like family.

  2. Friends will pitch into any project that you need help on, even if- at the time- you don’t think you need help. From big emergencies to just bringing in kleenex and ice cream to cheer you up…friends will step up to help.

  3. I like what Faith had to say!

    Constructive Criticism= building blocks for success
    Destructive Criticism= soul crushing

    A good critique partner/friend will give you the building blocks for success 🙂

  4. That is awesome that you had close friends and family to help you with those parts of the research. I do have close family and friends who support me. I know I could write a pretty fun book if I went to them for research!

  5. I have two long time friends who I would not be without at anytime. We are there for each other no matter what.. We have over the years added a few more gals to our circle and we all get together when ever we can.. Three of us live at least an hour to two hours away from the others, but we still keep in contact all the time by phone, email, FB or other social networks… I could not do without them no way, no how.

  6. Hi Faith,
    It’s nice that you have friends that support your writing. It’s hard to take criticism unless you know it’s coming from the heart and they have your best interests in mind.
    Thanks for sharing today!

  7. Hi Sherri – over the years I’ve managed to avoid the soul-crusher type of friends. They eventually bring you down. You’re right, we all need the supportive, uplifting type of friends, no matter what the situation!

  8. Hi Susan P – Oh it sounds like you have some interesting/intriguing friends and family members. I do feel grateful for the friends I do have. I love them all. Many of them have been my friends for four decades or more.

  9. Hi Kathleen – How nice that you have long term friends that you stay in contact with. You rely on each other. Wonderful! I will be seeing some friends I’ve known from high school soon. We try to get together twice a year for lunch. Life gets busy, but we put the date on the calendar well in advance to have a nice meal and catch up on news.

  10. It is great to have someone that can be a sounding board… that will stand by you and just be a great presence in your life…

  11. Hi Colleen – Yes! Friends are an important part of my life. I’m so busy now, to see them all personally, so thank goodness for social media, email and yes, the good old telephone. We manage to stay in touch.

  12. I have always loved the friends in my life. some are only for a season others last a life time. But this last year it was a blessing to have the ones we had. Going through a loss of baby and having a major surgery we noticed how nice it is to have friends who will be there for you no matter what. And whenever they need me I will be there.

  13. Hi Cori – I’m glad you had good friends by your side during your rough year. They really help make life a little easier to bear. Nicely said about some friendships lasting only for a season, because we do have seasons in our lives. And it’s always good to have those lifetime friendships as well.
    Thanks for sharing today!

  14. Good friends will always be by your side when they need them. I am not sure how we would make out without friends. During an ice storm a few years back a friend brought us a heater to use while our power was out. He was there when we needed him.

  15. Hi Quilt Lady
    That ice storm must have been terrifying. I’m sure you were relieved to have the help and the heater. I agree, we wouldn’t make out too well, without our dear friends.

  16. Hi Karen,
    Isn’t it nice to have friends who are willing to help you out in our make-believe worlds? I love that about writing, the different ways we find out our info…and friends are the best source in so many ways.

  17. Running the children’s program at a small county library, I learned just how important friends can be. For 6 to 8 weeks of summer reading programs, we couldn’t afford to do much if not for personal friends and friends of friends. It was true of programs we held during the year, too. Whether it was branding, roping, scuba diving, birds, medieval life, railroads, campfire cooking, chocolate making, interior decorating, jewelry making, Shakespearian festivals, or get togethers celebrating books to movies (Harry Potter and Twilight), we couldn’t have done all we did without the help of many friends. We all had a good time and learned something while we were at it.

  18. I keep up with several friends from HS and college. It’s fun to find out what they’ve been up to and their children’s adventures. They have helped me through my son’s illness when he was 5 years old. I’ve supported my friend who lost her husband at the age of 38. She’s just recently become engaged at the age of 59! I’m so happy for her.

    Friends don’t ask for anything. However, they unconditionally are there for you when you need them.

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