Posted in Women Who Wow Wednesday

Jamie Sullivan

I don’t talk about God much. If anything, I sometimes hint at what I believe, but I don’t make it a personal mission to preach. I leave that job to the preachers. I’ve had folks, though, who have asked me what I believe, and it’s with some reservations I tell them.

Mandy Moore and Jamie Sullivan
Mandy Moore and Jamie Sullivan

In the movie A Walk to Remember, Jamie Sullivan (Mandy Moore), however, doesn’t hold back. She loves God, and she’ll take every opportunity to show it. You see, Jamie comes from a strict Baptist background. Her father (Peter Coyote) is the town’s minister and her mother passed away some time ago. She enjoys lending a hand at the orphanage, working with animals, and taking care of her father. No one’s ever asked her out on a date, but she’s quite fine with that. She’s happy living a quiet life away from what the other teens at her school are doing. Her most prized possessions are the sweater she wears every day and her bible.

When Landon Carter (Shane West) walks into Jamie’s life, she doesn’t think anything of it. After all, he’s part of the popular crowd and to other girls, he’s worth falling over to get his attention. If anything, she’s happy to have a new friend, regardless of his troublemaking ways. Jamie considers him an accomplished goal. Her number forty-two on her to-do list—to befriend somebody she doesn’t like.

Jamie’s to-do list also contains some other notable goals such as spend a year in the Peace Corps, make a medical discovery, be in two places at once and get a tattoo. Her number one goal is marry in the church where her mother grew up and her parents were married.

Aside from Jamie’s lofty ambitions, she’s also not shy with speaking her mind. Thinking Jamie to be a pushover, one of Landon’s friends stands on the receiving end of her quick wit:

Dean: If there is a higher power, why is it He can’t get you a new sweater?
Jamie: He’s too busy looking for your brain.

Jamie Sullivan
Jamie Sullivan

Another aspect of Jamie’s character is having the wisdom to see where things are going with her friendship with Landon. She asks him to promise he won’t fall in love with her. A silly request, but she asks it anyway given her circumstances.

The funny thing is how can Landon help not falling in love with Jamie? The truth is more powerful than fiction as is Jamie’s friendship with Landon. They can’t run from feeling what they feel for each other, but more importantly, Jamie sees Landon’s love by everything he does for her. His actions speak more than words.

And this is where I have to stop. I can’t continue without revealing spoilers. Suffice it to say, Jamie is selfless in every way a person can be selfless. She loves Landon more than words can express. And she is more of a woman than anyone could ever imagine hadn’t it been for Landon walking into her life.

I’m proud to feature Jamie Sullivan for this week’s Women Who Wow Wednesday post because she represents freedom—freedom from the typical Hollywood love story, and freedom from the heroine stereotype often posed in stories like this.

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ALIEN INVASION, on sale October 21.

What do you think of A Walk to Remember? What do you think of Jamie Sullivan?

Posted in Freedom Friday, Other Things

Reading

I wasn’t much of a reader in my young adult life. I mean, I would read the occasional textbook, newspaper and the back of a cereal box, but I never considered myself a fiction reader. In January 2013, that all changed. I had gone through a transformation of sorts months earlier and one of the things missing in my life was reading fiction.

John Grisham Books (Credit: Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported)
John Grisham Books (Credit: Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported)

Stepping back to December 2012, I began reading Nicholas Sparks novels. Given I had lost many loved ones in the preceding months, his novels actually connected with me lending comfort when I needed it the most. I read A Walk to Remember, The Notebook and Message in a Bottle back to back. Somehow, the strange, inexplicable feeling I got when reading his novels translated to a healed soul.

Jumping right back to January 2013, I made a promise to myself to read every single day. I also promised myself I would read John Grisham’s complete bibliography. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. Believe me when I say that reading Grisham is no small task.

John Grisham (Photo © David Burnett)
John Grisham (Photo © David Burnett)

The project didn’t start out in chronological order based on publication date, but as time went on it drifted into that pattern. I began with The Firm. I had read the book when it first released and it was my last fiction book before life took over and left me with no time for anything else. From there I burned through Ford County, A Time to Kill, and The Racketeer. At the same time, I was editing my first book in my Ranger Martin series and noticed how everything started coming together quite nicely. My blog was also in its infancy and I drew on Grisham’s stories for inspiration.

Next came The Pelican Brief, Bleachers and The Client. I think this is where my wife and I spent our anniversary on our yearly getaway trip to resort country, an hour north from our town. As surprising as it sounds, we decided the best use of our time would be to relax and read by each other’s side. Amazing what happens when the kids aren’t around for a couple a days. We had fun doing other stuff, too, but when presented with the opportunity for peace and quiet, we were in our element. Who can deny that a good story calms the soul?

By the time summer and early fall rolled around, I had completed the final edit for my book, approved the cover, and sent Advanced Reader Copies (ARC’s) to the reviewers. At the same time, I had read The Chamber, The Rainmaker, The Runaway Jury, The Partner, The Street Lawyer, The Testament, The Brethren, and I had just started reading A Painted House when my book hit the shelves. That whole period was a blur to me. I still don’t know how I was able to contain my excitement.

Here it is, spring again. At the time of writing this Freedom Friday post, my John Grisham literary love affair continues with me having read Skipping Christmas, The Summons, The King of Torts, The Last Juror, The Broker, and The Innocent Man. I have a few books left and then I will have accomplished my goal of reading John Grisham’s entire bibliography.

What’s next for me after rediscovering the joy of reading fiction? I’m seriously considering Ernest Hemingway. I don’t know. His terse writing appeals to me. And it might even influence my writing. We’ll see what the future holds.

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, now on sale.

What’s on your bookshelf these days?