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Sunday, October 16, 2011

Guest Blog: Toni Noel: Family Secrets: Plotting a Family's Darkest Moments

Every family has them, the family black sheep or drunk, the brother everyone whispers about, the sister who refuses to change. That's what makes family dynamics interesting and Thanksgiving gatherings dreaded.

Those family secrets only whispered about also make for high drama on the written page. Is his uncle capable of murder? Why had his mother abandoned her family soon after his birth? Is his father to blame?

What if a loved one is jailed? Leave town, or keep quiet and pray no one ever finds out?

So many unanswered questions. So many stories that could be told. Or not. A good author weighs all the possibilities and decides which secrets are best left untold, which to reveal or foreshadow, from whose point of view the stories should be told.

What kind of character would do such a thing? A cynical wife? An unhappy teenager? A disloyal knight?

How can the author you make the character likable, a must, or the reader will throw the book across the room?

TV dramas have the added benefits of background music and facial expressions to get the point across. The writer has only heart-wrenching words to draw the reader in. Remember Hannibal Lecter? Regardless of what he did the reader kept on reading because of the writer's way with words.

Some family secrets are too disgusting to reveal. Such is the case of Charles Harding, the hero of Decisive Moments, my dark romance just released. The family tragedy in his childhood traumatized him and still affects his life. Only Amy Millington believes that by peeling back the layers of this complicated architect she can reach the heart of this hurting man.

Writing the novel, I walked a fine tightrope between telling his story and making Charles appear weak. I made him seem unapproachable, then had a little girl's need for a father forge a crack in his protective shell and make him likable, so that when the real tragedy in his life is revealed the reader does not stop reading in disgust.

I like to read dark tales, but doubt I'll ever write another one. The writing took too much out of me. Days spent with my somber characters would have been depressing without Marta's antics to write about.

Toni Noel lives in Southern California where she saw the boarded up Mission Hills mansion that inspired her latest novel released by Desert Breeze Publishing, Inc.. In Decisive Moments, Toni introduces her readers to a different genre -- Dark Romance – a contemporary novel about a gutsy photographer and the reclusive architect who stands in the way of her photographing his boarded up house and completing her much needed graduate degree. His dark past, his mother's ghost, a little girl's desire for a father, and her widowed mother's reluctance to try marriage again all combine to make this story memorable.

To satisfy the requirements for her Master's Degree in fine art photography, Amy Millington needs to photograph Charles Harding’s childhood home, but his boarded-up-house holds painful memories for Charles. Without those photographs Amy cannot secure her young daughter Marta's future. Charles denies the gutsy widow's request. Her efforts to show him how to have fun lead him to allow her to photograph his home. Then Marta gets lost and Charles must help search his house for her. He finds Marta and his mother's long-lost suicide note. Knowing the reason his mother shot his father, then turned the gun on herself, frees Charles from his past, but can he free Amy from her painful past and teach her to love again?

Decisive Moments is available for download from all eBook stores and the publisher,

Visit Toni at


jean hart stewart said...

Congratulation, Toni. I have yet to tackle quite that dark a hero. Good for you and good luck with the book. Jean

Sandy said...

I like dark stories, Toni, but I admit they can be hard on the author. I wonder how Stepen King does it so often.

Janice said...

Dark heroes and dark stories can be a tough sell. Congratulations on making it work. Your book sounds great.


StephB said...

Toni, sounds like you're describing a gothic romance with a myserious manor, a brooding hero and lots of secrets. Victoria Holt was brillant with her gothic romances. Have you read a lot of gothic romances?


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