Tuesday, July 21, 2015

When a Walk-on Character Refuses to Walk Off from Guest Sherry Harris #giveaway


We love it on this blog when our writer friends succeed! And so the Reds are delighted to bring back Sherry Harris, with the second in her delightful tag sale mystery series. She's got a problem that many of us can relate to...

SHERRY HARRIS: Seth Anderson, I’m looking at you. How you ended up being a secondary character with a name and reoccurring roll in my Sarah Winston Garage Sale series, I’ll never know. Well, I guess I sort of know since I wrote you, but I didn’t intend for you to be more than a nameless, one-night stand, a mistake Sarah made and regrets.

When I started writing Tagged for Death, the first in my mystery series, Sarah was recently divorced from her husband, CJ Hooker, who cheated on her. One night home alone and restless, Sarah goes to a bar, meets a guy, and...you get the picture. That was supposed to be the end of him. But somehow the nameless guy decided to text Sarah and call her, which meant he needed a name. I kept writing and found out Seth was the DA of the county where Sarah lives and where her ex is the chief of police of the small town they live in, which means CJ works with Seth when a major crime occurs. And since I write mysteries of course a major crime occurs.
I kept trying to ignore Seth, but it turns out he’s hard to ignore. A magazine has named him “Massachusetts's Most Eligible Bachelor” two years in a row. He grew up in swanky Beacon Hill and his family has a compound on Nantucket. After Sarah finds this out and realizes he’s often in the society pages and usually dates Victoria’s Secret models, she’s determined to ignore him. She wonders how he could ever be interested in her when he usually dates models.

The ignoring is going along swimmingly. Sarah’s busy running around trying to figure out who framed CJ for a murder. (He might be a schmuck, but she knows he didn’t kill anyone and may even be protecting her.) One day as she leaves the police station, after meeting with CJ who’s being held there, she runs into Seth on the steps. I hadn’t planned for him to be there, but of course it made sense that he was. Seth will be the one to prosecute CJ, and he has no idea Sarah has any connection to CJ since she now uses her maiden name. She’s happy to no longer be a Hooker. He pulls her aside and asks her to please answer the next time he calls her. Sarah, much to my surprise and hers, says she will. 


By the time Tagged for Death came out I’d already turned in The Longest Yard Sale. Readers started asking me if Seth was in book two. The answer is yes. Whether I wanted him to or not, he has a mind of his own, and his mind is on Sarah and he keeps insisting on appearing in my books. Now that The Longest Yard Sale is out, readers are picking sides and have written to tell me they’re on Team CJ or Team Seth. Even my 88-year-old mother called saying she’d just finished The Longest Yard Sale and wasn’t sure who Sarah should end up with, but she was leaning toward CJ. Does Sarah make a choice? Well, let’s just say that book three, All Murders Final, has already been turned in. CJ is around and Seth Anderson still hasn’t walked off the pages either.

Readers: Do you have a secondary character you love in a series and would hate to see leave?

Writers: Do you have a character that unintentionally sprang to life? 



Sherry Harris started bargain hunting in second grade at her best friend’s yard sale. She honed her bartering skills as she moved around the country while her husband served in the Air Force. Sherry combines her love of garage sales, her life as a military spouse, and her years living in Massachusetts as inspiration for the Sarah Winston Garage Sale series. Read more at her website or on the Wicked Cozy blog.

Sherry will be giving away two books, so leave your email with your comment to be entered in today's drawing...








92 comments:

Joan Emerson said...

I love it when the secondary characters keep popping up and adding their own particular spin to the plot.
And, no, I haven't yet decided if I'm Team Seth or Team CJ. I imagine only time [and more stories] will tell . . . .

stitchkat said...

One of my love/hate issues with the Reds is new authors! You are ALWAYS featuring interesting authors who are new to me. As if my TBR list were not long enough already.

Ranting aside, hello Sherry! You've just been added to my list. I've already checked with my library and set aside Tagged for Death.

Oh, those secondary characters, what would we do without them? You can generally depend on the primary characters being well developed, but flat secondary characters really affect my pleasure in a story. Good secondary characters are the icing on the cake.

I think my favorite secondary character really dates me! Magersfontein Lugg in Margery Allingham's Mr. Campion mysteries is my all-time favorite. Life would not be the same without Lugg.













Lisa Brown said...

The story feels familiar when there is a returning second character; the series looks great; thanks for the chance :)
jslbrown2009 at aol dot com

Edith Maxwell said...

Seth has been very sweet and handsome so far, I keep waiting for his dark side to emerge! Love your books, Sherry, as you know.

In one of my series, the investigating detective started out irascible and uncooperative. By book three he's the love interest and has a sensual side to him (which we don't go into too deeply - it's a cozy, after all). Not planned!

Debra said...

Oh, secondary characters. Thanks for sharing Seth's story. There is one character in my current WIP, Jane, that is itching to solve the murder. LOL. But she can't, it's not her book. Maybe Jane, an adorable white haired elderly woman with a fondness for puzzles, will get her own story one day. She'd be a hoot to write. Have a great day!

Lucy Burdette aka Roberta Isleib said...

Stichkat, sorry! but we know so many amazing writers, we feel we must share:). And I agree with you, flat secondary characters definitely take away from the pleasure of the book.

I have this one on my bedside table, but haven't started it yet. But I did like Seth a lot when he first appeared so eager to find out...

Hallie Ephron said...

Congratulations, Sherry! We're thrilled for you! Your post got me thinking... more often what happens to me is that I end up weeding characters from my books. I realize two of them are doing the same job so I merge them, or another is fun and cracking swell jokes but not contributing to the party. I'm ruthless - if the story can survive without a character, I take him or her out. So I have OUT files full of secondary characters that make their way into short stories. It works.

Margaret Turkevich said...

in the decorating business, there are always too many secondary characters, all of them with drama. Bullion or tassel fringe? Solid or multi-colored? Different dye lots. The ultimate game-changer: customers who demand exclusives on their fabric choices. And the fight at the rummage sale over throw pillows made out of workroom remnants? Who murdered the town faux painter? Lots of potential candidates.
margaretdotturkevichatgmaildotcom

Kristopher said...

I love secondary characters. They are what keep a series familiar and realistic.

I'd say that Louise Penny has a whole village full of folks who are missed when they are not in one of the books. I couldn't possibly pick a favorite among them, however.

Triss said...

Answering the question, yes, I have had character with their own plans. In fact, in my first Brooklyn mystery, I created an ornery, aged ex-journalist with the clear intention that he become the mid-book victim. And after I wrote the earlier scenes he turned out to be too much fun and also (thinking like a writer) too useful to bump off. So he turned up in the 2nd book and in the forthcoming (Dec) 3rd one. Who's in charge here? Clearly, not me!

Connie Hambley said...

Keep listening to those voices in your head, Sherry! Team Seth or Team CJ? Your readers love you for the chance to wonder who Sarah will pick. I'm curious if you're swayed by reader feedback on having her go back to a cheating scrounge or dip her toe into the swagger pool? Either way, we'll turn those pages to find out! cjhambleyatcomcastdotnet

Marilyn S. said...

I agree with stitchkat about finding all these new authors here. So many books, so little time! Count me in for the give-away. Now I'm curious about who Sarah will pick. Just don't turn her into J. Evanovich's Stephanie and drag it out forever :)
(Contact is available through my website). Thanks!

Lucy Burdette aka Roberta Isleib said...

Margaret, exclusives on their fabric choices? Have never heard of that!

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Yes, we LOVE it when our friends succeed! YAY Sherry!

ANd my secondary characters..in TBT Lizzie, particularly--completely get personalities I never planned. (NOt that I plan anything..) SO it;s always fascinating to see how people turn out. Sometimes a person i thought was good--isn't. I will say no more.

Has that ever happened to you?

Sherry Harris said...

Hi, Joan! Let me know who you are leaning toward when you get the chance!

Sherry Harris said...

Stitchkat -- I love that secondary characters are the icing on the cake.

Sherry Harris said...

Lisa, that is what makes a story seem familiar -- great point!

Gigi Norwood said...

Deborah Crombie has a couple of characters I keep wanting to see again: Alun Ross from " Now May You Weep," and Ronnie Babcock's great aunt Margaret, from "Water Like a Stone." I think each could spin off into their own delightful series, if Debs had the time to write three books a year instead of one. Alas, I think I'm destined for disappointment, but it says a lot about the quality of a writer when even her minor characters are so strong.

Sherry Harris said...

Jane sounds fabulous, Debra!

Sherry Harris said...

Thanks for having me Lucy! I just finished Fatal Reservations over the weekend and loved it. Miss Gloria is one of my all time favorite secondary characters.

Sherry Harris said...

Hallie, I've learned so much from you and all of the Reds! I love your take on secondary characters and that you have a file full of ones that were axed. That's why your books keep us on the edge of our seats!

Sherry Harris said...

Margaret, I love your "who murdered the town faux painter" line -- it made me chuckle!

Sherry Harris said...

Hi, Kristopher! I like your take that secondary characters keep the book realistic!

Sherry Harris said...

Triss, I love that you had a character you were going to kill but who was too much fun! And I'm so happy to hear I'm not the only one who has problems with a character taking over!

Sherry Harris said...

Connie, I haven't been swayed by the readers opinions. But I have swayed back and forth with my own!

Sherry Harris said...

Hi, Marilyn! I know what you mean about finding more and more authors to read! I won't drag it on forever, I promise!

Sherry Harris said...

Thanks, Hank! You and the Reds are so generous to so many! I'm glad someone else isn't a planner but so far a good person hasn't gone bad during the writing process. It sounds fun though!

Sherry Harris said...

Hi, Gigi! That is something when a character is strong enough to carry a series!

Mary Sutton said...

I think I have to meet Seth. =)

Secondary characters, for me, are like salt and pepper. You can't truly make a delicious dish without them, but they should never overwhelm the main flavor (in writing, the protagonist).

I have one recurring character, a deputy coroner, who was supposed to be a one-off. I needed someone who didn't know my protagonist. One story, that was all he was supposed to be in.

Yeah. Five short stories and two novels later, he won't go away. At this point, I don't think I could write a story without him. He's become one of my favorites.

And I am a huge fan of Sylvia Bassi in Annette Dashofy's Zoe Chambers series. She's a hoot.

Sherry Harris said...

I like the analogy, Mary -- salt and pepper! Isn't it amazing how a character you had no plans for can become a favorite?! I like Sylvia too and Annette's books!

Susan Elia MacNeal said...

Welcome, Sherry! (I'm Team Seth, btw.) I, too, have a new character in the WIP who's threatening to take over. Unexpected, but kind of fun. Now all the other characters have to work harder to keep up with him, which is good for them!

Sherry Harris said...

Thanks for having me, Susan! It is fun when characters just start popping into your head and make themselves something they weren't intended to be!

Grandma Cootie said...

This is a fun series. And I find it so fascinating when authors describe how their characters talk to them or have minds of their own. I can't think of one in particular, but I know there are many series where I realize there are secondary characters that are just as important to me as the main character. I enjoy learning a little more about them each book. Don't want them to take over the story but want them to be more than the assistant back at the office.

Sherry Harris said...

Grandma Cootie -- I love your "assistant back at the office" line! It's so true! And I'm always worried people will think I've lost my mind when I talk about characters like Seth taking over!

Tonette said...

Hi, Sherry, and oh, yes, I have two people in my WIP who invited themselves to lunch with my protagonists and made off with the husband for the afternoon, which gave me an excellent opportunity for a continuing part of the story that needed an opening! They knew better than I did.
On the other hand, I had an entire subplot and those four characters simply will not cooperate although I have their complete story, so they are no more.
Continued success to you!
Tonette

PlumGaga said...

I appreciate recurring minor characters for the continuity they bring, and that occasionally they take center stage. Deborah Crombie's Andy is once of my favorites.

Margaret Turkevich said...

Lucy/Roberta, there are high end prom dress stores that have a registry so that only one of a certain dress will appear at a particular prom. So, exclusives on certain fabrics in a small town wouldn't be that unusual a scenario. Unreasonable, yes.

Ellen K said...

I'm still struggling with the mother of a main character in a book that was supposed to have been a romance. The mother kept insisting it was HER book. She may be right, but for now, the original and her story are both tabled while I try to figure it out.

Gram said...

Congratulations...I may get to the first in the series this summer. I think secondary characters make the stories believable. grammyd01@comcast.net

Sherry Harris said...

Thanks, Tonette! I hope you shoved those four characters into a file like Hallie does!

Libby Dodd said...

Ah yes, a character in search of an author. Only he has found you! Well done.

Sherry Harris said...

PlumGaga -- they do bring continuity -- excellent point!

Libby Dodd said...

Sorry libbydodd at conmcast dot net

Ann Mettert said...

I had one that popped up in a short story. He was just supposed to be a walk on. He's very charming. ;)

pmettert@yahoo.com

Sherry Harris said...

Ellen -- good luck figuring it out! It's why writing can be so much fun and such a mystery!

Sherry Harris said...

Thanks for stopping by, Gram!

Sherry Harris said...

Thanks, Libby! I like that perspective!

Sherry Harris said...

Ann, I love that you've had the same experience! We have to watch out for those charming ones!

FChurch said...

We all lead lives filled with secondary characters--in a book, they create the world of the main character. Without them that world is usually flat--not very interesting--not worth coming back for a second time. But, it's when those secondary characters are written in such a way that they rise above the stock 'sidekick' or perfunctory 'love interest,' that keep us panting for more! Deborah Crombie, of course, and Julia S-F, I'm thinking of you especially, because you led me here to Reds. Also, Louise Penny and Martha Grimes--brilliant cast of secondary characters.

Barb Ross said...

Hi Sherry--

I once heard Tess Gerritson say that both Jane Rizzoli and Maura Isles were accidental, secondary characters. She believes that when a character is a throw-away and the stakes are low, your subconscious is the most free to create without censorship.

As for me, Team CJ or Team Seth? My lips are sealed.

Sherry Harris said...

I agree FChurch!

Sherry Harris said...

Very interesting, Barb, that Rizzoli and Isles were secondary characters! Hmmm, how to pry those lips open!

Deborah Crombie said...

Hi Sherry, and congrats on your success! I have one of those characters and his name is Andy Monahan. He was only supposed to discover a body quite a few books ago, but he walked on to the page and wouldn't go away. Eventually, he got his own story. PlumGaga, glad to hear that you like Andy!

And thanks, Gigi! But you know that to write a book featuring Alun Ross, I'd have to spend a good bit of time in the Scottish Highlands. Oh, wait, maybe that's not such a bad idea....

Mark Baker said...

For the record, I'm Team CJ. I actually do like the layer that Seth has added to the series, however. In fact, I like the guy. But I'm Team CJ all the way.

I've read both books in the series, and they are fabulous. If you haven't read them, get them today. (And feel free to skip me for the giveaway.)

Sherry Harris said...

Thank you, Deborah! And I'll sign up for that research trip to the Scottish Highlands!

Sherry Harris said...

Very interesting, Mark -- I didn't know you thought CJ was the better choice!

Your annoying neighbor said...

Team Seth! Team Seth! Team Seth!

Jadedcup Schubert said...

It's funny when a background character just won't keep quiet! It leads to some fun places...at least for the reader!

Ristretto@charter.net

Pat D said...

So nice to meet you, Sherry! I have to read your books. I love the dynamic of two different men vying for the hand of the lady. Especially when she's ticked off at one of them. Secondary characters are so important and entertaining. They bring out unexpected aspects of the main characters. I love hearing you authors talking about characters who hijack your story and turn things upside down.

Doward Wilson said...

This is a wonderful and fun series. Just finished the second book and getting ready to review it. Now I can't wait for the third one! doward1952@yahoo.com

Lisa Alber said...

Hi Sherry!

I love it that Seth refused to be a nameless one-night stand. I have a character like that, Nathan. He's a major subplot character in my second novel (handed in, out August 2016). Now I find myself starting in on novel #3, and, guess what? The crime and chaos centers around him! It's fun ... So now when I get edits back for #2, I'll need to tweak him a little too because of his role in #3.

These series ... They do become worlds unto their own, don't they?

Sherry Harris said...

Jadedcup I'm glad it's fun for the readers too because it certainly is fun for me!

Sherry Harris said...

Pat D it's nice to meet you too! Having Seth be the DA added an additional complication in Sarah's life. And he is just so much fun to write!

Sherry Harris said...

Doward it is always good to "see" you! I'm so glad you liked the books and thanks for stopping by!

Sherry Harris said...

Hi, Lisa! I'm so glad you turned in book two of the County Clare Mystery series! I can't wait to read it and read more about Nathan!

traveler said...

Secondary characters are necessary and important since they add so much to the story and the novel. Thanks for your great feature and informative post. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

Sherry Harris said...

I'm glad you liked it, Traveler!

kate said...

I love the secondary character who come back in series I'm reading (and the one I'm writing). They add a depth and consistency, and can make a fictional world fee much more real.

I especially love secondary characters who are shift over books, going from antagonistic to helpful or helpful to annoying or even hostile in future stories. (And yes, Hank, I too have had character morph while writing. I have one right now who went from guiding voice to something much less trustworthy. And Hallie, I have a cut character folder too.)

Sherry, Seth has sold me on your series! Can't wait to read. (But I just won a book here so I'll pick up both books at the bookstore later this week. ;)

storytellermary said...

I love the idea of a stubborn character banging at the door and refusing to go away, and while the TBR list already seems infinite, I'm looking forward to meeting more persistent fictional beings.

Kathy Reel said...

Secondary characters are ironically integral to the success of a story. I, of course, am heavily invested in my favorite main characters, but the secondary characters delight me in so many ways. I am an avid series reader, and the reappearance of these "secondary" people is something I look forward to with each new book, and I miss them if they aren't in the thick of it, too.

The Reds have amazing secondary characters that I enjoy. Debs, I've especially enjoyed how you've folded these characters into the batter and given them their own stories and connections that have become part of the whole, part of the family--Andy Monahan, Melody Talbot, Doug Cullen, and Erika Rosenthall. One of the best parts of the Duncan and Gemma series to me is the family, both biological and adopted, of immediate family and friends in the inner circle of this couple's world. And, Julia, how I've come to love Kevin Flynn and Hadley Knox. I can't wait to see what happens with Kevin in the new book with his dangerous undercover role. He has evolved so beautifully from the awkward newcomer to the take-charge man of action. Then, there is the adorable Miss Gloria in the Haley Snow Key West series by Lucy. Doesn't everyone want a Miss Gloria in their lives? Lucy, I also enjoy Lorenzo and Lieutenant Torrence, along with Haley's mother and all the colorful Key West extras. Rhys, your Lady Georgie and the Molly Murphy series both offer such great secondary characters. I would be devastated if Molly ever moved away from Gus and Sid, so please keep them together. And, Claire Daniels, Georgie's mother may be a horrible mother, but she always spices up the action, too. Then, Susan's Maggie Hope series has a lovely group of close-knit friends for Maggie, especially David, who is always there for Maggie and who has some timely problems of his own. Hank, I'm thinking that we are about to get access to some secondary characters of Jane's who will play a larger part in her life, her sister and father. I can't wait to see in the next book. Hallie, your books are full of those secondary characters that make it all work so brilliantly and who help round out the main character(s).

Now, Sherry, Seth sounds like my kind of secondary character. I love it that he wouldn't go away, and I'm happy that I only have two books with which to catch up. It will be interesting to see which camp I end up in, Seth or CJ. Your titles are so clever, and the premise of the stories so appealing. And I must agree with stitchkat and Marilyn S. that my reading life was busy before I became a regular on Jungle Red blog, but it has exploded since I've been here.

Sherry Harris said...

Kate, I love to hear more about what you are writing! I hope you enjoy the books -- let me know what you decide about Seth and CJ!

Sherry Harris said...

StorytellerMary, it has been so fun to write about Seth. We all need more time to read -- it seems like every time I read a blog the list of books to read grows!

Sherry Harris said...

Kathy Reel -- I agree with all of your comments about the secondary characters the Reds write -- they are an amazing bunch of women and writers. We are all lucky to have such a fabulous blog that lets us find new authors to read. If you get a chance to read my series let me know what you think! Thanks for stopping by!

Nancy said...

Yay, Seth! For now, anyway. Let's face it, C.J. was too easy to let go, and why is that? Can't wait for book three in the series.

Sherry Harris said...

Thanks, Nancy! I'm glad you like the series!

Reine said...

I love this, Sherry. This post and the series. xoxox

Sherry Harris said...

Thank you, Reine!

kate said...

Oh, Sherry, thank you for asking. I'm working the second book in a procedural series about a young female homicide detective in Seattle. Right now, she's investigating the death of her out of state ex-fiance, kind of against her better judgement. I'm querying the first book.

Sherry Harris said...

Kate it sounds fabulous! Having your detective investigate against her better judgement is intriguing. Keep me posted and best of luck to you!

kate said...

Thank you, Sherry. I will definitely keep everyone posted. :)

Peggy said...

To me, a story feels familiar when there are returning second characters. You are a new author for me and I think your books sound wonderful. Thank you so much for this opportunity!!
peggyhyndman(at)att(dot)net

Sherry Harris said...

Thank you, Peggy! The books have been a lot of fun to write!

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Hurray, Sherry! You are amazing! xxxo Thank you for a fabulous day!

Sherry Harris said...

It was so much fun, Hank! You all are so much fun!

Anonymous said...

I can't decide which team I'm on but I CAN tell you, from a reader's perspective, so many of the 'secondary' characters are so interesting, I'm eager to read more about them!
I often wonder if the author who has done such a great job giving them life, doesn't somewhere, deep down inside, have a story just waiting for that character! ;)

Kathleen Bylsma h5apby@yahoo.com

Sherry Harris said...

It is interesting, Kathleen! If we really listened to our secondary characters they probably all have lots of stories to tell!

Jim Collins said...

Sherry, I think we might have chatted briefly at Malice, or else I've just seen another picture of that big smile. Secondary characters provide needed texture in a story. I like a lot of them but I think I'll vote for Hadley Knox as my favorite. Would love to try one of your books (jimcollins@nc.rr.com).

Jim in Durham (whew, still not a robot)

Elaine Roberson said...

Love tag sales, so your books sound like a great series to try. I always liked Archie in the Nero Wolfe mysteries. The stories could not have happened without his help. And the animal characters in Rita Mae Brown's books and the books of Lilian Jackson Braun.

Sherry Harris said...

I think we did too, Jim! Sometimes getting more than a moment to say hi is difficult!

Sherry Harris said...

I loved the cats in the Lillian Jackson Braun books, Elaine and Moose County was a great setting for them.

WENDY said...

Mine, too!

WENDY said...

When Martha Grimes neglects Melrose Plant's Aunt Agatha I miss her, terribly.