On Writing: Villains in Novels

As in most novels, there is a villain in Too Late for Regrets. I don’t want to reveal the plot, so I’ll say no more. But the reader will spot this villain immediately. At the top of my list of  favorite villains in literature is Mrs. Danvers in Daphne du Maurier’s “Rebecca.”

Mrs. Danvers is the embodiment of evil; spiteful, manipulative, and filled with hatred for the second Mrs. de Winter. This innocent and inexperienced young girl is thrust into a situation which she is unable to handle. Mrs. Danvers, soft spoken and persuasive, convinces the girl that Max de Winter was obsessed with the beautiful Rebecca and is brokenhearted at her death. However, it is Mrs. Danvers who is obsessed with Rebecca. She wants to oust the young girl from Manderley, thus keeping Rebecca’s memory alive. Mrs. Danvers’ last tragic act destroys her and Rebecca’s legacy.

Can readers share with us their favorite villains?

On Writing: Character Background

As much as any author would love to include a character’s background in the finished draft of her novel, there is simply no time or page space to go on and on about the characters we have so carefully conjured. This is why blogs are so important; even after the novel has been published, the author can keep the spirit of the characters alive.

With his superior intellect and college degree, Timothy is soon promoted. He is fearless and is recognized for his natural leadership; his loyalty to his fellow officers is unswerving (see chapter 18, page 144).

But on his days off, he wastes his time in bars picking up unsuitable women who usually take advantage of his trusting and slightly gullible nature. His gentleness is part of his appeal, and also his weakness.

It is only when he meets Elizabeth and falls in love with her that this poor behavioral pattern changes. A whole new world opens up to him.

As for Elizabeth, the reader will learn more about her background in Chapter 12, which is titled “David in South Africa.” This chapter describes the suburbs of Johannesburg and the house she grew up in, as well as the reasons why she and her husband Hugh emigrated to the U.S.

Her beauty and outgoing personality captivates everyone who meets her. Is it any wonder that Timothy quickly falls in love with her?

Blogging and fan fiction have not only generated interest in existing novels, but helped to inspire new ones. What are some books or beloved characters that you have wanted to create backgrounds for? If you could write the prologue or epilogue for any book, which would it be? Discuss in the comments below!

Gardening in Too Late for Regrets: Sparkling White Flowers

In Too Late for Regrets, Elizabeth tells Timothy that she can’t make up her mind about something–should she plant white or pink petunias?

“White shows up so well at dusk…” – Too Late for Regrets, page 14

And not only at dusk do they show up well. Here are some exquisite white flowers that are sure to please gardeners and readers alike.

Had you been in Elizabeth’s position, which flowers would you have planted? If there are none below that you fancy, comment with the names your favorite nighttime flora!

White Alyssum

White Alyssum

Tanacetum (and an adorable Havanese puppy)

Tanacetum (and an adorable Havanese puppy)

White Roses

White Roses

White Cosmos

White Cosmos

White Candytuft

White Candytuft

Great Romances – A Memorable Love Affair

Moon tiger is a green coil which is placed in a saucer; when it is lit, the smoke repels mosquitoes. Moon Tiger is also the name of the 1987 novel by Penelope Lively; winner of the Booker Prize in the U.K. For those of you looking for an epic love story to read after finishing Too Late for Regrets, here is the first part of my Moon Tiger review.

An elderly woman lies dying. The story of her long life is told through her memories. The central section of the book is her heartbreaking love affair with Captain Tom Southern, a tank Commander.

The Time: 1941-1942

The Place: The Libyan desert where tank battles are being waged. The British tanks are pitted against those of the Germans under the command of the Desert Fox, Rommel.

Claudia Hampton is a journalist; she is beautiful, independent, and willful. She wangles a ride in a truck which is traveling through the desert to headquarters where she is to interview some of the top brass.

The truck becomes bogged down in the sand. Through the murk of a sandstorm, a jeep appears. The driver is Captain Tom Southern who offers to take her to headquarters. Sitting next to him and dazed from lack of sleep, Claudia naps. Through half-closed eyes, she observes his hands on the steering wheel.

Forty years later, as she lies dying, she can recall with clarity those hands. The author’s description of the carnage Claudia sees as the jeep ravels through the desert is vivid and unforgettable.

To Be Continued Next Week…

Get a Free Copy of “Magical Gardens: Denver Region”

TLFR Magical Gardens Sale


While supplies last, get a free copy of my gardening book, Magical Gardens: Denver Region, when you purchase Too Late for Regrets! This book contains hundreds of beautiful photographs and makes the perfect addition to any gardener’s collection. To get your free copy, simply e-mail your purchase receipt to me at maureenjabour@gmail.com and we will take care of the rest!

Please note, this also includes e-book purchases.


x Maureen

On Writing: Choosing Your Cover Photo

One of my favorite parts of the publishing process is choosing a cover photo. Like clothes to a person, a cover represents the book and affects how readers will perceive the story. With my gardening books, Celebrating a Small English Garden, A Medley of Gardens: Denver Style, and Magical Gardens: Denver Region, the task was much easier because flowers are always undeniably beautiful.

Elizabeth as I had always imagined her.

Elizabeth as I had always imagined her.

As for Too Late for Regrets, the cover photo would forever influence how the reader imagined our main characters. I could describe their every inch in the text, but the cover photo would be the image emblazoned in the reader’s mind.

From the four photos sent to me, I chose this one for Elizabeth. The other three faces were beautiful, but they seemed to be too sophisticated. This photo looked like the Elizabeth I’d imagined and written about. Lovely, natural, and with an intangible sense of innocence; a joy in living that seems to shine through her ethereal expression.

Timothy’s photo on the back cover was–I thought–perfect. He is handsome, with strong features, and the characteristic slightly brooding aspect. Yet there is a certain wistfulness in his expression

The brooding image of Timothy that I always envisioned.

The brooding image of Timothy that I always envisioned.

which I thought embodied all of his characteristics.

What do readers think of my choices? If you had read the novel prior to seeing the photos, would the faces you imagined for Timothy and Elizabeth be similar or different? Which celebrities could play Timothy and Elizabeth in a movie based on the novel? I want to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

Write What You Know

After reading Too Late for Regrets, many readers are wondering: why did I choose to make the heroine a gardener?

Because my hobby is gardening. Therefore, I could write with some authority on the subject. One of the most valuable pieces of writing advice in circulation is to write what you know.

In the case of my novel, making Elizabeth a gardener also allowed the story to flow more smoothly. The police officer sees Elizabeth for the first time while she is working in her garden. Perhaps it’s this nurturing and feminine act that arouses his interest? Had she been a violinist instead of a gardener, it’s unlikely that she would have been standing in the front garden playing the violin. Gardening becomes a shared interest between them and the running theme throughout the book.

So my advice to writers is simple: write what you know most. The plot will follow. In my next post, I will discuss passionate love scenes in various books and media and answer the question, “Is less more?”

Why Police Officers are the Perfect Heroes

Upon the release of my new novel, many readers have been approaching me with the same question: why did I choose a police officer to be the hero in Too Late for Regrets?

I wanted the hero and heroine to meet in a rescue situation. Only police officers and firefighters are constantly responsible for rescuing people. The initial meeting would need much dialogue, and if the heroine was being rescued from a burning house by a firefighter with dozens of people milling around, there would be no opportunity for dialogue. The same held true if she were to be rescued by a police officer in a traffic accident. The chaos wouldn’t allow for much sweet talk now, would it?

So the rescue had to take place in a secluded area. I chose a cul-de-sac near the police officer’s house. The perfect private setting. Then another continuity issue arose: how was Timothy to know that Elizabeth was there? I solved the problem by having a small boy on a bicycle see Elizabeth in distress and rush to alert the police officer of her situation.

Writing is an endless cycle of problem solving. How do we get our characters from point A to point B? This allows for a constant flow of creativity and imagination where we can explore tame and sometimes outrageous ways of bringing our story to fruition. Nothing is off the table. Being an author allows one to be wonderfully free, doesn’t it?

Once I had decided that Timothy would be a police officer, I wondered: what is it about law enforcement figures and their damsel in distress counterparts that makes their relationships so passionate and interesting? Why does the idea of being rescued bring out the most intense love in all of us?

Comment below with your thoughts!


Too Late for Regrets

Being an author and writing a book is much like being a gardener and tending to a garden. And you all know how much I enjoy my gardening.

Just like gardening begins with good soil preparation and the scattering of seeds, writing a book begins with a simple idea that is planted in the mind.

As long as the soil in the garden is fertile and full of nutrients, the seeds will begin to grow. As an author, I carry the idea for a book in my mind where I continually mull over it. I nurture the idea with thoughts of plots, characters and themes until I am finally ready to plant the ideas on a piece of paper – and that is when I begin typing.

Much like gardens thrive when showered with constant attention, including food, water and light, a book begins to grow from words into sentences, sentences into paragraphs, and paragraphs into chapters, until finally a novel is born.
In a garden, the first sighting of a sapling which has broken ground and transformed itself into a beautiful flower is a remarkable and magical experience.

Writing a novel requires much patience and belief in an idea whose time has finally come. It requires dedication as it is involves the investment of precious resources, such as time and energy, which appear to be in short supply for everyone these days.

But the rewards are great. When I sit in my garden under the shade of a tree, I delight in the beauty and simplicity of the flowers that surround me, the very seeds that have grown, developed and matured over time.

Much like now. It is with great joy that I sit back and watch as my novel, Too Late for Regrets, is brought to life.

Too Late for Regrets tells the story of Elizabeth, a beautiful woman, and Timothy, a handsome police officer, who meet in unlikely circumstances. Even though they are from two different worlds, fate brings them together and they embark on a journey of love and lifelong devotion. But as we all know, the path to true love is never smooth, and their love affair is marked by fateful decisions, mishaps and misunderstandings that alter their lives forever.

Humor and heartbreak, rapture and remorse, passion and perfidy – to paraphrase Bette Davis in the movie All About Eve, “Fasten your seat belts, it’s going to be an interesting, exciting and bumpy ride.”

I hope you will enjoy reading the book as much as I have enjoyed writing it. I wish you many happy hours of entertainment and I look forward to all your feedback and questions. The book is available in various formats including the print edition on Amazon.com and e-book versions on Kindle, Kobo, iBooks, and Nook.

Be sure to write a review as I always enjoy reading your insights and comments. I am also happy to send my readers an autographed note once you have ordered your copy online. Just email me a copy of your receipt of purchase and I’ll send you the personalized note.

Fasten your seat belts as you enter the world of Elizabeth and Timothy!