Monday, May 24, 2010

Guest Blogger, Sabrina Jeffries

It’s my pleasure to welcome New York Times bestselling author Sabrina Jeffries as the special guest blogger here today at Thoughts in Progress.

THE TRUTH ABOUT LORD STONEVILLE is Book One in Sabrina’s new series, The Hellions of Halstead Hall.  Sabrina stops by today to talk about her personality as it relates to her writing.

In addition, Sabrina has a special giveaway for one lucky visitors who comments on her post.  Sabrina tell us about your writing personality.

It took me years to figure out that I’m an aural person—that my knowledge of the world comes primarily from what I hear as opposed to what I see (as it does for a visual person) or what I feel (a tactile person). That’s probably why my books don’t have nearly as much description of places and things as a visual writer’s. Or why I don’t describe nearly enough how “the wind chilled her arms” or “the weight of the ring on her finger reminded her that she was a wife,” as a tactile writer might do.  Because those things aren’t as important to me as what people say and hear.

My books are dialogue-heavy. The cadence of language, the rise and fall of speech, the breaks, and the natural pauses are far more a part of my writing style than the word-painting a more visual author would use.

This is probably why—beyond a few images associated with my characters—I can’t use pictures for inspiration. Visual authors do far more. They make collages that spark their creativity and help them discover character or get a feel for the story. 

I made a collage once. It was very pretty. I put it in my office once I started the book, then never looked at it again. And when the book was done, I realized the collage really had nothing to do with the book. It hadn’t inspired me. I’d forgotten I had it. Needless to say, I don’t make collages any more.

Instead, I make soundtracks for my books. I choose songs that remind me of my characters and the issues they’re facing, and then I play them. Over and over. That’s why “Criminal” by Fiona Apple will forever be associated in my head with Wed Him Before You Bed Him.

Some songs end up on more than one book’s soundtrack. My current series, The Hellions of Halstead Hall, is about the Sharpes, a family of five siblings who lost their parents tragically when they were young and have been acting out ever since. Their rich grandmother decides to jar them out of their self-destructive ways by threatening to cut them all off if they don’t all marry. 

As the hero of the first book, The Truth about Lord Stoneville, says to his siblings once he gains his heroine, “We’ve been sleep-walking too long, locked into the past, unable to live a fruitful life. Now that Maria has awakened me, I want to wake you up, too. I want you to stop boxing at shadows and hiding in the dark from the scandal of our parents’ deaths. I want you to find what I’ve


And what better song to express that than “Bring Me to Life” by Evanescence? You might call it the theme song of the series.

Another song that transcends all the books’ soundtracks is “Save Me” by Queen. Because all of the Sharpes desperately need saving from themselves.

So what about you? Do you ever associate certain songs with certain books? Do you like it when authors suggest soundtracks for their books? Are you visual, aural, or tactile and how does that affect the kind of books you prefer?

There’s an autographed copy of The Truth About Lord Stoneville for whoever posts the most interesting comment!

Sabrina, thanks so much for guest blogging today. An interesting post on the various types of writing personality. For information on Sabrina, check out her website.


  1. I think I am mostly visual but rely on the other learning methods as well. If a story caters to my visual need (in my mind)then I'm good to go. I want vivid pictures through the authors words.

  2. Teresa, thanks for stopping by.

    Sabrina, thanks so much for guest blogging today. You're take on writing personalities is interesting. Best of luck with your series.

  3. I'ma visual person, so I always find photos of those who look like my characters to inspire me. But I also use music and each character has his or her own theme song.

  4. Great post! I talk about learning styles and tendencies a lot in my classroom. It's fun to watch the kids get to know themselves better and work with their strengths.

    I tend to write from the emotional standpoint mostly. Even though I'm a very tactile learner, I've learned to incorporate all 3 styles because of my students, and I THINK it balanaces pretty well in my writing :)

  5. I sometimes have songs that, to me, are the underscore of a book. I play them to get me in the mood, but not while I'm writing. I need quiet to write. I think I may be an aural writer since I love writing dialogue and have to go back to add in the visuals.

    On a side note...Is that a picture from your book on your laptop? I saw that and thought, how did she do that? And is it permanent or changeable?

    Straight From Hel

  6. This was absolutely fascinating to me, because I struggle with writing descriptions - I'm not visual. I'm tactile. It's nice to know there are successful authors out there who play to their strengths and are still doing well.

  7. What an interesting guest post. Thanks, Mason! I've never actually thought about what inspires me more: visal or aural stimulation.

  8. Journaling Woman, I think a lot of readers are like you. I do my best to cater to them, but I'm much more aware of cadence and dialogue than I am of setting.

    Mason, glad to be here!

    L. Diane, my characters all have a theme song, too!

    Jemi, you make a very important point. Writers have to be able to appeal to all of the senses. It's just that some come more naturally than others.

    Helen, I do a LOT of going back to add in the visuals. Oh, and the pic on my laptop is actually a print from an artist friend of mine, Ursula Vernon. With Macs, you can buy these snap-on covers for your laptop, so I put the print under the snap-on cover. I can switch it out when I want, but that's pretty much the only one I use. If you'd like to see the print online, I'll post a link a bit later (after I find it). It's a very funny print for writers--it's a visual pun on the phrase "his mind raced." :-)

    Karen, I'm with you--it's hard to write descriptions. I struggle to make them original. I just don't care how things look, and I don't notice those details much either.

  9. Helen, here's the link:

    And be sure to read the caption underneath! That's the funniest part.

    Talli, glad you found it interesting!

  10. This is a wonderful thoughtful post, one that will inspire me to think about how I see, hear or feel the world. Since I paint and take pictures, I may be visual. I do, however, love music and love dialogue and love touching things--I need to explore this more, thanks for making me think about it.

  11. Excellent thoughts and examples on how to stimulate the muse and visualize characters. Some authors use music, also pictures, I'm more of a mental imagery user. I "see" and "hear" them in my head when I write. Loved the guest post, thanks!

  12. I love thinking about this kind of thing!

    I always just sat in a class, listening to the professor, and taking notes. I never had to *review* the notes for the classes I was good in (English, Poli Sci) because I learned as I listened and wrote. So I guess the writing stamps it into my brain? But why do I need a series bible, then? Maybe because I'm getting older? :)

  13. I know that I'm not supposed to be but I'm all of them. I've taken a bezillion tests and it is pretty evenly balanced. To learn something I need to see it. But I hear everything. I really try and go for all the senses when I write as I like reading that sort of thing. Interesting topic. Thanks Mason for finding us Sabrina!

  14. Sabrina JeffriesMay 24, 2010 at 12:27 PM

    Mary, I do wonder if some people aren't better at integrating all of them. Maybe you're one of them!

    The Old Silly, I hear them in my head, but don't see them quite as well. I see situations, though. How they're standing or where they're looking.

    Elizabeth, I was just like that in school. I stopped even taking the notes, because I would remember what was said. But if I wanted to fix it in my mind, I would write the notes. Then I didn't have to review them. It was like hearing a tape in my head.

    Jan, that's great that you have them all! I wish I noticed the visual more.

  15. a wonderful posting...something that i never thought about.

    i think that i am a 'visual' person...sometimes, i admit, i buy a book by the cover.

    interesting topic.

    kmkuka at yahoo dot com

  16. I love this blog, i think it's brilliant that you can visulise, that's how I do, I also thinks it's brilliant the associate different songs with different books, I have a special playlist with classical music that I like to listen to whilst I'm Reading it helps me picture the ballrooms and conversations, the playlist isn't just from very old composers, alot o them are classical bits of music from films, James horners piece from casper really is perfect for the serious conversation or for when you read the heartbreaking bits,

    I love all of the books I have read by sabrina jeffries and with the right type of music it takes me to the right time and place and helps me to visulise it too, thankyou the great escapes :)

  17. I don't think of myself as an aural reader, but I prefer dialogue to description, which simply makes my eyes cross. I don't generally associate songs with books, though anything that would fit Evanescence would catch my attention. I love Bring Me To Life.

  18. karenK, I must admit that I never buy a book by its cover. I buy by the back copy, but not by cover. But plenty of readers do, I know.

    Anonymous, that's the kind of music I actually write to--soundtracks, though mine are usually from period movies like The Duchess, The Piano, Pride and Prejudice ... movies that make me think of the period. Sometimes classical, too. The book soundtracks are what I use to prepare to write, to immerse me in the book, and those are usually pop songs with lyrics. Glad you enjoy the books!

    Alice, that album by Evanescence is one of my favorite albums of all time.

  19. First of all--New Follower! *waves* And I'm number 150--I love when that happens.

    I love connecting with other writers, so I'm always looking for awesome new blogs to follow, and it looks like I picked a good day to find you.

    Thank you (and Sabrina) for this awesome post. I REALLY enjoyed it. And I definitely associate music with books. I love when authors have a playlist for their books, but I also love making my own. And I can't write without music playing, so there will definitely be a playlist for my book once it's published.

    Can't wait to get to know you better through your posts. Have a nice Monday!

  20. No need to enter me, Mason. I'm dropping in to commune about music... it's my muse. Seriously.

    So before I go off and write a new book right here, let me just say thanks for the e-mail. I've got this posted at Win a Book for you.

  21. I never thought about this. But the way I write is more weighted toward visual and aural. I find myself putting in more tactile things as I work through drafts. Great post.

  22. Sabrina--I enjoyed your post. Don't enter me...I already have the book and enjoyed it thoroughly. Thanks for stopping by from Mt. Oly.

  23. I'm a very visual person but I really enjoy character dialogue as I find it helps build a clearer picture of the character. I know other readers who find dialogue an interference to the story. Everyone has their own tastes.

    Thanks so much for sharing your views here on writing.

  24. I'm more of a Visual I even do puzzles by the colers and not the shapes of the pieceses.Your book looks like a good one can't wait to read it.


  25. I'm more of a Visual I even do puzzles by the colers and not the shapes of the pieceses.Your book looks like a good one can't wait to read it.


  26. I'm just a reader but find it utterly fascinating to hear about how some of my most favorite authors write and come up with ideas.

    I think I am mostly visual. And yes, I admit that a really great cover will tempt me to buy a book. I've found some really good books that way, by the way. I am definitely not an aural type person. I can't even write an interesting comment on a blog!!

    Sabrina, I love all of your books.

  27. Shannon, do you make playlists for books by OTHER authors? That's very cool.

    Carol, I have to put in the tactile things later sometimes, too.

    LSUREeader, glad you enjoyed the book!

    cassandrajade, I can't imagine finding dialogue an interference to the story, wow. As you say, to each her own.

    stacey, hope you enjoy the book! I happen to be a jigsaw lover myself. I guess that's ONE visual thing I enjoy. *G*

    Dorothy, I'm delighted to hear that you enjoy my books! Trust me, while I don't buy books by the cover, I know the importance of a good cover. Thank goodness I've been fortunate enough to have a lot of them.

  28. I'm mostly a visual learner, but that doesn't stop me from skipping over visual descriptions in books, especially when they really aren't needed in the story. I realized how visual a learner I am when I tried to learn braille. Learning by touch is very different.

  29. I'm mostly a visual learner, I have to be able to see it in my mind, then I can do it. I too will pick up a book to read the back or inside by the cover.

  30. I'm definately visual. ANd a visual picture can be painted nicely on a canvas of words. But not too descriptive. A writer has to leave something for the imagination.

    Stephen Tremp

  31. chey, I think braille would be very difficult to learn regardless, but especially if you're not tactile.

    Ann, do you ever buy by cover?

    Stephen, that's a great word image right there--"a visual picture can be painted nicely on a canvas of words." But I agree that something must be left to the imagination.

  32. 5-26-2010
    Mary Taitt
    Your comment was picked to win today's prize from Sabrina.
    If you could e-mail me your e-mail, we'll get it to you!

    Jeanne Devlin
    Personal Publicist for Ms. Jeffries

  33. Mary
    That e-mail is:



  34. my email is taittems at gmail dot com, I'll also email it to you.


  35. Hmm, I do paint and photograph in in my poetry and prose, I often have all or most of the senses, I love smelling things--but I probably favor vision the most. I am really exploring this. THANKS! :-D

  36. Now that I have read the book, I wanted to come back and let you know how much I enjoyed it--I will definitely be buying the sequels!!!! :-D


I'd love to hear your thoughts on today's post. Thanks for dropping by.