November 14, 2019

meet the heroine of 'let it be me'

Blogger's Note: Let me take you behind-the-scenes of Let It Be Me. In addition to introducing you to the heroine, Ali Ferguson-Day, I thought I'd give you a little insight into my plotting process by sharing the unedited character sketch of him I developed before I wrote the book. Some details may have changed a little while writing and others didn't come into play. But it's still a pretty good look at the process.

Nickname(s): Ali, Fergie-D (by James only)

Age: 29 (very aware she’s going on 30)

Physical Description: Brown shoulder length hair often pulled up into a messy bun. Hazel eyes. Fair. Tall (about 5-foot 10 inches). She often slouches unconsciously to overcompensate for her height. Slender—she’s a long-time runner and a former volleyball player from high school.

Style: She picked up the all-black/dark denim look in New York City. She sometimes spices up her attire with a gray cardigan or a scarf. Lives in ballet flats and loafers. No heel. Light/neutral makeup with a lip gloss.

Hometown: Born in Manchester, New Hampshire, but she moved a lot growing up for her parents’ work. When asked, she says she’s from everywhere and nowhere. (List below under “Other.”)

Personality: She’s good at reading a room and reaching her audience. Almost chameleon-like. She’s not as great at forging long-term relationships. Sidney is kind of the lone holdout, and part of that stems from their not spending much time together over the years, just exchanging the occasional text message or a semi-annual drink when she’s home visiting her mom. She holds back from sharing too much and uses humor as a barrier and mask. She’s hyper-organized about work. She’s good at keeping people on task.

Habits/mannerisms: She slouches to compensate for her height. She also struggles not to bite her fingernails when she’s stressed or concerned. Her dry sense of humor is only matched by Jamie’s.

Occupation: Currently freelancing copy for websites, she’s also Jamie’s assistant to help him finish his book. She wants to write her own fiction books. She’s dabbled, but she’d really like one year to make it her focus, but her savings account won’t allow it. Her mother has promised to cover her rent and utilities for a year if she can get Jamie’s book turned in on time. Until moving back to the area, she most recently served as a producer for an entertainment news program.

Hobbies/interests: She's pretty focused on work, but she's a big reader and documentary watcher. She reads across the board.

Education: Bachelor’s of journalism degree with minors in English and history.

Family: She’s the oldest of four children. She has a sister and twin brothers who are three and six years younger respectively. They’re close but physically scattered. (Sister is a PhD student in women’s studies and sociology at the University of Chicago. One twin is an engineer at the Jet Propulsion Lab. The other is working on his MFA in pottery at NYU.

Usual drink: vodka soda with lots of limes.

Other: Places she’s lived and worked: Born in Manchester, NH, where her father researched Robert Frost for a bio on his time in Danvers while her mother held her first post-doc position at Southern New Hampshire University. At four, they moved a couple hours away to Salem. Her mom continued to work (and commute the great distance) while her dad researched Nathanial Hawthorne. At seven, they moved to Springfield, Missouri, where her father research LIW and RWL and her mom taught at Southwest Missouri State. At 12, they moved to Minneapolis where her mom taught at the University of Minnesota and her dad researched F. Scott Fitzgerald. She took a gap year after college, when her family moved Nebraska, where her mother began teaching. She became chair of the history department and her dad researched Ali Cather. She came back to attend college. During college, she was the managing editor of the school paper to Sidney’s editor in chief. After college, she worked as an editorial assistant at a paper in D.C., then she moved on to a magazine in NYC. Then she worked for a TV program in Boston before spending a few years in Los Angeles. She didn’t feel like she fit any of those places, particularly the last.

Her hang-up on romance: A few years ago, her parents separated when her mother wanted to stay and her father wanted to move on to Los Angeles to write biographies on some of the early Hollywood screenwriters and lyricists. They’re still legally married and love each other, but they’re more focused on their careers. Ali pretends to understand this and find it normal. She’s not commitment phobic but struggles to commit in relationships, or even to other aspects of her life, because she’s never known permanence. She claims to have a gypsy soul, but really, she’s never found somewhere to belong.

About the Book

Who says history is boring?

Professor James Mitchell has a rock star reputation. With a waitlist for all his classes, a bestselling book, and the requisite leather jacket, the university and publisher are eager to capitalize on this British sensation. But after his girlfriend leaves him for another man, James goes from rising scholar to spiraling bad boy. Forget contracts and tenure, James wants out—of his job, book deal, and, better still, the country. He’s well on his way when his boss’s daughter walks into his favorite bar . . .

Aspiring filmmaker Ali Ferguson-Day doesn't scare easily. She’s been given the means to make a film of her own—on the condition she tames the professor. As the daughter of a famed documentarian and a renowned historian, she’s more than ready to step out of her parents’ shadows and shine on her own. She won’t let anyone—not even an unexpected charmer—get in her way.
James and Ali butt heads from the start, but it isn’t long before their sparring gives way to attraction. There’s the promise of even more, if they can get past the fear of history repeating itself to let love in . . .

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