Monday, February 4, 2013

The sad goodbye

 When I wrote Sacagawea, a "faction" ebook for Bramley Books for the middle grade market, I was a little sad when I was finished. I grew to love this woman and admire her a great deal.

One of my  reviewers gave me 4 stars out of 5 because it contains spousal abuse. The sad fact is, Sacagawea was abused by her husband,Toussaint Charbonneau. I believe in writing honestly for middle grades.This is the video game age. These are kids whose parents grew up watching Terminator. (Unfortunately.) They can handle the truth about history.

Sacagawea is "faction." We know very little about her from the journals of Lewis and Clark. But from those journals I was able to imagine quite a bit about what her life must have been like. She was the only woman on a gruelling expedition with a group of rugged men. She was a Native American, and not as respected as European women. That is, there was no coddling Sacagawea. She was expected to be just as tough as the men and work just as hard. And she did, too, with an infant in tow.

What's not to admire about such a woman?

One of the exciting aspects of this particular ebook, is that the publisher wanted me to imbed links into the text so that students could actually see the things I described such as certain plants, animals and artifacts. When I couldn't find things online that were appropriate, I created content on my history blog. So when the kids and parents read the book, they also click on my blog at times. It's been a great way to build a fan base in this genre.

When I came to the final chapter, I was actually sad to say goodbye to her. She had won my admiration and I wanted to spend some more time with her.

I only hope my readers wanted to as well.

How about you? Has there ever been a character you were sad to say goodbye to? Let me know. I want to meet them.

 Karla Akins is a pastor's wife, mother of five, grandma to five beautiful little girls and author of the best-selling Jacques Cartier (that went #1 on Amazon in its category), O Canada! Her StorySacagawea was released in Jan. 2013. Her debut novel The Pastor's Wife Wears Biker Boots  is due out in 2013. One of her columns on was featured on the CNN homepage. Represented by Hartline Literary Agency, she lives in North Manchester with her husband, twin teenage boys with autism, mother-in-law with Alzheimer's and three rambunctious dogs. When she's not writing she dreams of riding her motorcycle through the Smoky Mountains.


  1. I didn't want to say goodbye to the Pevensie children in Chronicles of Narnia nor Steve Saint and his family in End of the Spear (more the book than the movie). These are those that jump to mind...

  2. Those are good ones, Laura. I can remember as a child not wanting to say goodbye to so many characters. I haven't had that experience recently. I need to get out some super good books and have that experience reading not just writing. My current WIP is someone I adore, too. Oh if only I could write characters such as those for my readers!

  3. For me, I had a sadness when I finished reading Enduring Justice, the final part of Amy Wallace's excellent Defenders of Hope series. It closed with all the main characters from the series in a living room together, reminding me of the final scene of the first Star Wars where all the cast was together at the end. It gave me the message the series was over.

    One reason I might prefer an autobiography to a biography is the former has happier endings. When you read a bio of someone great like Phillip Melanchton or William Jennings Bryan or William McKinley or William Howard Taft or Antonin Dvorak or - getting back to the blog - Sacagawea, you end with the hero/heroine dying. I've never had that happen with an autobiography. (Though NBA star Charles Barkley mentioned he had been misquoted in his autobiography.)

    There are other individual stories I was sad to finally finish as well, sometimes even when I know the story's continuing. For example, Kathy Tyers' Firebird (wonder if Darren's paying attention). Or Randy Singer's Directed Verdict.

    Now, with my writing, I haven't hit that point yet. I've got one completed-but-not-finished story and two incomplete, one of which is the sequel to the c-b-n-f one.


    1. You've got some delicious reading material in this post that I must check out. Thanks for sharing, Jeff!

  4. Great focus on characters -- both those we write and those we read! I hope and pray the characters whose stories I've written leave readers feeling that way. . . especially my women and children disciples in my Women of the Last Supper book. . . :-)

    1. Millie, I know what you mean. I hope my readers fall in love with the characters the way that I do. They are so real to me. My imagination is fierce that way. :-) I pray that I can get that "realness" across. Thanks for your lovely comments!

  5. Karla, "Sacagawea" sounds fantastic. I didn't even know that a market existed. I'd love to interest my grands in it. I remember how biographies influenced me as a child.

    There are many published characters whom I like to revisit. Another is an unfinished story by my friend Ann Shrock about a woman who runs a riding school for disabled.

    I believe the first character I created, Marki Montgomery, is like this. I have people who read my manuscript ten years ago still approach me to talk about her, wondering when they can read about her again. Maybe this year...

    1. Biographies were my favorite reading genre when I was in 5th and 6th grade. I read every one of them in the school library as well as all the mysteries. :-) I know that people are going to ask me if the character in my current newly-sold book is about me, but it's not. The character is not very like me at all. For one thing, she's a lot more level-headed. And a lot more likable!

      Thanks for reading and here's to our quest for memorable characters!