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Hurray For Hair Dye!

by Carol Burnside

So, I had this hair color dilemma with Cass, my latest heroine in the Sweetwater Springs series . . .

In Book 1 (A Suitable Wife), Cass was a secondary character I described as petite and blonde. Somewhere in the years between when I wrote that and the current work (Book 3: His Small Town Princess), Cass became a brunette in my head. So much so that I blithely described a brunette heroine to my cover artist and approved cover art based on my vision of her.

Imagine my surprise when I’m looking for some small detail in A Suitable Wife and run across that description. Rut-roh! I went into an OMG-OMG-OMG-WHAT-DO-I-DO? tizzy for a few minutes until my gaze landed on the cover art for Her Unexpected Family and the depiction of Claire. Ah-ha! It was as if Claire winked at me and said, “Remember all my crazy hair colors? Who’s to say Cass is an original blonde?”

I was sure she meant to say “natural blonde,” but you know how Claire tends to mangle normal sayings! But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that Cass hadn’t been an “original” blonde, but a bleached one. J.T. sometimes thinks of her as a princess, but they come in all hair colors too. Disney princess Snow White was a deep brunette. Real life royal Kate Middleton is technically a duchess, not a princess, but hey . . . royalty and a brunette.

So, I wrote the passage below. In this scene, Cass is playing hooky from work and is shopping for a plant. Mind you, this is unedited copy from His Small Town Princess.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Within a few minutes, Cass found a delicate, pink flowering cyclamen. Perfect. It would bloom again in the fall. Should she get two?

“Behind you, ma’am.” The polite, male voice competed with the squeaky wheel of a large flat cart. “Don’t step back.”

The squeaky wheel quieted behind her. “Cassandra?”

Feeling very much the schoolgirl playing hooky, Cass turned, then slapped a hand to her chest in relief. It was only her first ever big crush, J.T. Baxter. The hunky, blue-eyed blond also happened to be her family’s landscaper. “J.T. , you startled me. What are you doing here?”

He shrugged, wheeling a cart beside her as they walked. “Needed a few things to finish a commercial flower bed nearby. Makes more sense to buy them than spend the gas driving back home.”

“I see. Well, um . . . Good seeing you. It’s been awhile.” Oh, God. Her smile froze on her face as she realized the last time she’d spoken to him had been at his wife’s funeral. Epic fail, dummy.

“I almost didn’t recognize you. The dark hair threw me.” His gaze roamed over her face and hair, his expression bemused.

“Oh, that. I was ready for a change awhile back and your sister-in-law, Claire, convinced me that my natural color was healthier for my hair than all that bleaching.” She snapped her mouth shut, mortified to have been blathering on so.

“It suits you.”

“Thanks.” When people said that, she always wanted to ask what they meant by it. Was her personality more sensible brunette than ditzy blonde, or had she looked awful before and hadn’t seen it? She pointed to the potted plant in her hand as they arrived at the cashier stand by the front entrance and widened her strained smile. “I was just about to check out.”

Way to state the obvious, Cass. Get a hold of yourself. Why had she become a bumbling idiot at the sight of J.T.?

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Hurray for hair dye! Problem solved.

Have you ever read a book where the hair color or eye color changed on a character within the book or from book to book without an explanation?

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

SSSeries covers_SM_CBurnsideCarol Burnside is the award winning author of the Sweetwater Springs series and other works. Click on the covers above to read more about her books. Connect with her online via Website / Facebook / Twitter / Newsletter / Goodreads / Pinterest  or email her at

Walt Mussell - April 7, 2014 - 9:09 am

I had something like this in a slightly different format. When dealing with Japanese characaters, you have similar eye and hair colors. However, one of the facts I disocvered is that Japanese people are occasionally born with red strands of hair. The don’t have a lot of them. Their hair is still the expected color. except for those strands. However, because Japanese people don’t like standing out, it’s often dyed.

In my first year in Japan, I taught in a middle school. One of the girls had red strands in her hair (which is how I learned about it). The girl was lucky in that she was not in a strict school and was allowed to “be who she was.” A more strict school would have forced her to dye it.

In my first Japan novel, my heroine has those streaks of red hair.

Susan Carlisle - April 7, 2014 - 9:43 am

I love the excerpt. I have read books where the eyes or hair color get misxed up. It doesn’t happen often but I’ve seen it. I have to make notes of those especially when I’m working on more than one book at a time in order no to mix up the hair, eyes and names. I put in a name from another book just the other day into my newest book. Not good.

Connie Gillam - April 7, 2014 - 10:31 am

That was smooth, Carol. And I liked the excerpt.

Can’t wait to read the whole book.

Piper - April 7, 2014 - 10:56 am

Walt, what a fascinating detail. The same thing is true for me inwriting about African Americans in a historical way, but the eye colors can vary. I had a big issue in one story with keeping up with how to spell “gray” in the American way instead of “grey” the British way.

Love the excerpt Carol! Looking forward to the book!

Carol Burnside - April 7, 2014 - 2:54 pm

Well, Walt, I’ve learned something new from you today. Interesting factoid.

Carol Burnside - April 7, 2014 - 2:57 pm

Thanks, Susan. After editing Claire’s book and doing promo on Claire, I have to remind my fingers that I’m now supposed to be typing Cass. I’ll probably have to do a check for Claire in this book when I’m finished, just to make sure a few haven’t snuck in where they’re not needed. ;-)

Carol Burnside - April 7, 2014 - 2:57 pm

Thanks, Connie.

Carol Burnside - April 7, 2014 - 2:57 pm

Thanks, Piper. Glad you enjoyed it.

[…] or brunette? Today I’m blogging on PetitFoursAndHotTamales with a title of “Hurray for Hair Dye” about a hair color snafu that I encountered while […]

Marilyn Baron - April 7, 2014 - 3:26 pm


Very cool save. I’ll have to remember that. I mostly notice that names get changed rather than eye or hair color but it’s always something to watch out for. In fact, I think I heard someone call another person the wrong name on a TV show. It’s amazing how resourceful writers can be!

Maxine Davis - April 7, 2014 - 4:08 pm

Good save. Carol. I can’t wait to read the book. I have caught a name wrong. it really threw me. I wondered if I’d missed something. Reread a chapter and decided it was just a wrong name.

Maxine Davis - April 7, 2014 - 4:25 pm

Carol, I just remembered: In the movie, Operation Petticoat, a young boy in the movie, is introduced to the Cary Grant character and shakes hands. The young boy actually calls him Mr. Grant, but you can barely hear it. I’ve got to see that movie again.

Walt Mussell - April 7, 2014 - 6:02 pm

Piper and Carol, I was once told those red strands appear in about one in every 150 Japanese people. I could be wrong. (I’m remembering from over 20 years ago.)

Carol Burnside - April 7, 2014 - 10:45 pm

Thanks, Marilyn. I’ve come across those name changes a few times too. I guess I’m never totally satisfied with my end results. Even after something has been published, I read it again looking for a small excerpt and find myself thinking I should have phrased that differently or added a little bit more. lol

The worst is finding a typo in the published product after having been through the book a gazillion times.

Carol Burnside - April 7, 2014 - 10:45 pm

Oh, Maxine, that’s too funny!

Carol Burnside - April 7, 2014 - 11:01 pm

That’s not extremely rare. It’s interesting though, that they see it as something negative to stand out, rather than embracing diversity.

Pam Asberry - April 11, 2014 - 8:59 am

I am a girl after Cass’s heart, Carol! :-)

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