Under no illusions #AtoZChallenge – Peculiar ‘Pen fellows’ – Quirks only a writer can understand

peculiar penfellows


UUnder no illusions 

When my cousin was younger, she had an imaginary friend. Her parents would even set an extra place for her at the table. I remember wondering what my own dinner table would look like if I invited all my imaginary friends – the ones who follow me around in my head.  

It’s often one of the ‘getting to know you’ questions – if you could invite ten people to a dinner party, who would you choose? – They might be real people (past or present), they might even be characters from your favourite books. But can you imagine a room filled with the characters you’ve created. What would that look like? Would it be beautiful chaos, or a little frightening!  

Not difficult to picture though, is it? Because, the thing is, although we’re under no illusions they’re real – except in a metaphysical kind of way – we live with them every day. 

Readers experience it too, when the characters they love become three-dimensional. It’s one of the ways we connect. Although, as I said earlier in the challenge, there’s understanding the passion we feel, and then there’s trying to assimilate that with the way writers talk to the characters in their heads. And sure, it can be jarring. But, for a writer, it’s all part of the fun! 

Thanks for stopping by 



Picking out of a hat #AtoZChallenge – Peculiar ‘Pen fellows’ – Quirks only a writer can understand

peculiar penfellows


PPicking out of a hat 

Let’s talk about names. There are many techniques writers use to find the perfect name for their characters. We often talk about them as though they’re our children, so it’s kind of funny to get caught researching baby names on google and having to talk family members down from a ledge! But seriously, name generators can be useful, as can reader polls. Then there are the times we sit with the characters awhile, get to know them better, and like a new born (kind of), the name we choose just seems to fit. 

Okay…moving on.  

Whether you write out a description, or just close your eyes and conjure an image in your head, a name often follows without too much effort. If you enjoy to wing it, then names often come naturally as the story begins to unfold. Other times you might have a name, along with characteristics circling around in your mind long before you put pen to paper or sit down at a computer.     

As with anything else when it comes to writing, there are occasions when the process breaks down. Times when we can’t think of a name, or the one we choose isn’t the right fit. It’s easy to get tied up in knots, especially with secondary characters or those who later become an integral part of the story. Attempts to change a name part way through a novel never really pan out, at least in my experience, because by then it almost feels like you’re stealing the character’s identity. Yes, I know how that sounds! 

Needless to say, we take the whole naming ceremony seriously! 

Thanks for stopping by 


Feeling Blue #AtoZChallenge – Peculiar ‘Pen fellows’ – Quirks only a writer can understand

Feeling blue

Yesterday, I touched on the subject of completing a novel, and the thrill we experience. What I didn’t talk about is the flipside, the turbulent emotions that are often akin to mourning. This tends to happen when we reach the end of our journey and it begins to sink in that we will no longer be spending time with our beloved characters. For months, they’re all we’ve thought about, we’ve been with them every step of the way, and they are as familiar as old, treasured friends. Sure, we can go back to them, there might even be a sequel in the pipeline, but it’s still the end of a chapter.

To a certain extent, those feelings are shared by readers. If they become invested, and truly connect with the characters, they might feel sad about coming to the end of their own journey. It’s why (as readers) we have our favourites, and why we return to them again and again.

Yet, of all the things people find ‘odd’ about writers, the one thing that garners the most sympathetic looks, is how we feel about our characters. Even the readers who understand how we might get caught up in our own world, struggle with it, and we lose them the moment we start talking about the people in our head as though they’re real. If we mention arguing with our characters or being taken by surprise when they decide to go their own way, then those same understanding folk start itching to pick up a phone and dial a professional, either that or arrange an intervention…’you do know they’re not real, right?’

The thing is, to us, they feel real. They live because we breathe life into them, and if only on the page (or in our head), they have an identity.

So, I find it’s much easier to deal with the odd eye roll, or blank look. And really, people humour our oddities, as long as we entertain. I don’t mean to imply that we’re performing monkeys (if performing includes a pen or keyboard). We write because we must, but it doesn’t hurt if people benefit from the fruit of our labours!

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Honouring the work: IWSG


I’m sure most people have heard of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group (IWSG), but this is the first time I’ve taken part. The purpose, as stated in the IWSG website, is: to share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

As writers it’s only natural that our personality influences our work. I’m not talking about the voice every writer hones, I’m talking about the little quirks that, at times, can be a detriment to the story.

Take my obsession with happy endings. I know that bad things happen, that people suffer loss and deal with pain but, in the end, I still find myself hoping for the happily ever after. I know it’s unrealistic, but I can’t help being a sucker for a good survival story and often, I use fiction as a way to escape everyday life. The only problem is, this translates to my work.

In my latest WIP, a character has just been mortally wounded and I can’t bring myself to write his final scene. This, in part, is because I love my characters and I’ll feel the loss. But it’s also that, deep down, I want it to end differently. Not me the writer, but me the hopeless romantic who just wants everyone to be happy. I know it sounds crazy, and I’m exaggerating to make a point, but it’s no less true. And the fact remains, if I change it, I’m not doing justice to the work, or my responsibilities as a storyteller.

I deal with some tricky issues in my latest novel. This time it’s human trafficking and it put me through the ringer. Maybe that’s why I’m feeling a little sensitive about the subject. It’s bound to have an affect.

I’ll write the scene eventually. I’ve done it before. In one of my earlier stories, a character died in the first few chapters. I accepted this. It made sense to the story, though it made me sad. Later, when I learned more about the character through the eyes of his family and friends, I wanted to go back and rewrite it – to bring him back (if only we could do that in real life). I didn’t. I resisted. But the fact remains, my natural compulsions can often mess with my head.

I’m a strong believer in allowing my characters to tell the story. But they can’t do that if I interfere all the time! Like I said. I’ll write the scene eventually. It’s just something I fear. This particular short-coming is one I’m consciously be aware of. There will be others that affect the story and I don’t even realise it’s happening.

How about you? How do you handle death scenes? What kind of things affect the way you write and interfere with the process itself? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Thanks for stopping by.


Favourite Characters/Screen Characters Tag

I was tagged by Callum and Celine to list my ten favourite screen characters. It was a hard challenge to resist, well… until I began to jot the characters down, and then it was just hard! I quickly discovered I was well on my way to making a top 100! But, I somehow managed to whittle it down. There was no method in my madness, although I did discover television characters were easier to choose so I shied away from movies somewhat  – the fact there is only one Avenger on the list surprised even me 😀


Richard Castle (Castle) – I am always entertained by Castle’s uncanny observations and wry sense of humour. I particular enjoy his immaturity, the peter pan streak which translates to a boundless enthusiasm for his job. He is geeky, charming, intelligent and a born story teller.


Alabama Whitman (True Romance) – There is something extremely compelling about this character. Alabama is a badass. She is tough, loyal, and most of all, unique. Her outfits are the perfect blend of sexy, sassy and sweet.


Spencer Reid (Criminal Minds) –  In a top ten list of my favourite television programmes, Spencer would always make the cut. He’s fascinating; intelligent, complex, and utterly charming. He’s a book worm, has an eidetic memory, and is socially awkward. He’s probably most often described as an eccentric genius.


Abby Sciuto (NCIS) – I love her loyalty, her brains, her penchant for giving hugs and her addiction to caffeinated beverages. She has an almost psychic link with Gibbs, and their father-daughter relationship is one I particularly enjoy.

Peter Quill

Peter Quill (Star Lord) – He’s creative, unorthodox, funny, loyal, quick thinking, arrogant, and an expert in close quarter combat. What’s not to love!

NatashaNatasha Romanoff (Black Widow) – As a founding member of the Avengers, Natasha might not have superhuman powers, but she’s never needed them. She’s an expert in martial arts, has no fear, and is competent in just about anything she puts her mind to. She remains calm in battle (mostly), keeps her emotions locked down (mostly), and has a delightfully dry sense of humour. Natasha is formidable!

Patrick Jane

Patrick Jane (Mentalist) – I love the flaws, the complex nature of this character. Patrick is arrogant to the point of cocky, has a playful streak a mile wide, and his observational skills are legendary. He’s manipulative, though has a considerable amount of charm, and his methods within an investigation are unorthodox to say the least.

FelicityFelicity Smoak (Arrow) – There are many facets to Felicity’s personality. I like that she’s a nerd, that her uncensored babbling often gets her into trouble. It’s quite often the highlight of a scene. Felicity can be opinionated, and has a strong will, but her true strength is her compassion. In a lot of ways she’s the heart of the team.


Dean Winchester (Supernatural) – I talked recently about the things I enjoy about this character in a two-part review I did over at Comparative Geeks, so if you want to read more click here. In summary; he’s tough, loyal and will move mountains when it comes to his family.

John McClaneJohn McClane (Die Hard) – I had to put McClane in the list, because I’ve always been a fan of the first movie. My favourite thing about the character is probably his arrogance, especially the way he mocks his enemies – he doesn’t suffer fools gladly. McClane is known for his wise-cracking one liners. But I like his flaws. He’s tough, stubborn, and has a tendency to see things in black and white. Who doesn’t love a flawed hero?

Thanks again to Callum and Celine. Instead of tagging anyone in particular, I’m going to open it up to anyone who would like to take part. I’d love to know your favourites, so if you want to share – write a post or leave your list in the comments. I look forward to hearing from you.

While we’re on the subject of characters, Maddison Wood was interviewed by Ch’kara SilverWolf today. If you’d like to learn more about my witch, you can click here.

Thanks for stopping by.


Did That Monster Come Out of You? By Charles E. Yallowitz

Thank you to Melissa for offering to host a promo/guest blog. Now to get the introduction and promo stuff out of the way. My name is Charles E. Yallowitz and I’m the author behind the Legends of Windemere epic fantasy series where the latest one is Sleeper of the Wildwood Fugue. I also just released a 27-page short story for 99 cents called Ichabod Brooks & the City of Beasts, so you can get a quick, cheap taste of me . . . whatever. Let’s move on to the fun!

Batman Villains

Batman Villains

Authors talk a lot about their heroes and how they came about. You don’t hear as much about the villains until after that villain becomes popular. Even then, there are many antagonists that don’t fall into the full evil category. Darth Vader redeemed himself and I’m still lost on the most evil thing he did outside of the prequels. Force choked his own men? I have to admit that I never got the monster vibe from Darth Vader. Maybe because a lot of my favorite villains are those that can be redeemed. I’m not really here to talk about those because this is more about the writing of villains. Specifically, the horrific, irredeemable, blight on humanity monster type.

In The Compass Key, I introduced one of my newer villains. This baddie was going to be suave and confident. I hit the second one more than the first, but something else came out as I wrote him. This monster had no redeemable qualities. He was terrifying to write and he’s a ‘great’ character, but there is no sign that he has any goodness in him. The other villains show hints of compassion and humanity. This guy revels in pain, death, manipulation, and control. Within the first book he’s in, this villain has tortured, betrayed, and (here’s the worst one) attempted to rape. That last one forced me to stop writing for an hour. I saw where it was going and I couldn’t turn away from it because he is that level of evil. It’s an act that solidifies him as more of a monster than the Lich and Trinity.

So that’s the scary part about some villain writing. Somebody comes up with these creatures of pure evil. I wonder how common it is for an author to create a character that they can’t wait to kill. Not because it’s a badly written character, annoying, or the fans hate it. They want that character to die because that type of monster should not be allowed to roam free. Seriously, I want this character dead for what he’s done and I can’t do it for a few books because I need him to push the heroes.

Typically, I give some tips on how to design a character like this, but he came out of nowhere. Maybe the other villains were too nice and he filled a niche. If anything, it requires a different mindset for the heroes when they handle him. That might be the main point with a monster villain. It’s a type that cannot be turned, reasoned with, or contained for very long. A hero has to face the abyss and risk crossing a line to put a monster down since there’s no other way. Easy for a violent, kill my enemies hero, but difficult for one who doesn’t kill. So like many bad guys, this type could be more about the effect on the protagonists than anything else.

So, have you ever created a villain so repulsive and evil that you stopped to wonder where it came from?

Charles E. Yallowitz

Charles E. Yallowitz

Charles Yallowitz was born and raised on Long Island, NY, but he has spent most of his life wandering his own imagination in a blissful haze. Occasionally, he would return from this world for the necessities such as food, showers, and Saturday morning cartoons. One day he returned from his imagination and decided he would share his stories with the world. After his wife decided that she was tired of hearing the same stories repeatedly, she convinced him that it would make more sense to follow his dream of being a fantasy author. So, locked within the house under orders to shut up and get to work, Charles brings you Legends of Windemere. He looks forward to sharing all of his stories with you and his wife is happy he finally has someone else to play with.


I’d like to thank Charles for being a guest today. I think he posed an excellent question regarding the villainous characters we create, and I’m looking forward to hearing from you in the comments.

Tomorrow, I will be providing a review of Ichabod Brooks & the City of Beasts, so be sure to come back then.


Blitz Tour Feature – Angelic Confessions: Character Interview

Angelic ConfessionsJan Marie, author of Angelic Confessions has provided us with a character interview – courtesy of the tour host, Kathryn Jenkins at Dragon Knight Chronicles.

Character Interview: Aye

You were a very confused child and spent much of your childhood sheltered by Father. Did you ever feel true resentment towards him?

I confess I did. I never understood why he sheltered me so much. In the end though I did learn why he did, but I still question why he didn’t have more faith that I could control the darkness inside me.

There was a strong connection between you and Father. Did you ever question his intentions towards you? With how he behaved towards you?

I wondered, but he was Father. It was incomprehensible for me to question him. I loved him dearly.

Aye, you went through a big change after meeting Pio. Did you ever question his motives towards you? Or did you always know he cared?

I didn’t even recognize he cared. I just thought it was his duty to protect me. I was totally oblivious to how he felt…to how I felt. I didn’t want to address those feelings at first.

There was gossip among the angels about you. Did you ever let it truly bother you? Or did the gossip just get brushed off without a care?

I tried to brush it off without a care, but in truth it did bother me. I told no one though, for I often wondered were they right?

Why do you think you had such a draw to the humans?

They were free to roam, and I was not. I think that was part of the allure.

New Release – Desert Sunrise by Gina Briganti

Desert SunriseI’m thrilled to announce the new release, Desert Sunrise, book two of the Natural Gifts series by Gina Briganti. Today begins a week long journey into the lives of Lucy Shannon and Stan Spellman, with guest appearances from Joe Jacobs and Dana Carapelli from The Dreaming.

Today I’ll be sharing a special interview, and will be following the fun throughout the week. On Saturday the 27 September I’ll provide a review and summary of the launch for your to enjoy.

First, here is a trailer for Desert Sunrise.

Character Q & A

Several of the characters in the Natural Gifts series are learning more about their gifts, and the way they work.  Melissa and I were wondering how they feel about their budding abilities, so we gathered them up to ask them a question we are curious about; would they give their ability back, or erase it, and go back to their lives without their gifts if they could?

Here’s what Carter, Dana, Joe, Lucy, and Stan shared with us.

Carter:  (Tapped the microphone and said “Is this thing working?  He chuckled nervously, and then we decided to let him tell us his answer without a camera or audio recording, which set the tone for the rest of the Q & A.)

I’m getting used to what is happening to me.  A lot of the time I try to ignore it, and it’s not too bad if I’m at home.  I’m glad about that.  The day it started was overwhelming, and I would have given anything to make it stop.  Now, I don’t know if I would erase it or give it back.  I guess I’m getting used to it.

Dana:  (Dana is used to being on camera, but we thought it made more sense to have everyone’s answer appear the same way.  Perhaps you will get to see the lovely Dana another time.)

Would I give it back or erase it?  No way!  Being able to research the future in The Dreaming has added an amazing dimension to my life.  (Dana laughed at her corny joke).  The depth of the connection I have with Joe because of my gift is too good to pass up.  Like a stunningly delicious healthy meal.  You know, the kind where when you’re eating it, you think it has to be bad for you because it taste so good?  Telepathy is so practical, I wish more people could do it.  

Joe:  (Sigh.  Joe is too handsome for words, and he couldn’t be any more charming.  You know what’s great about Joe?  It’s not a façade.  This is the real Joe.  Joe took a few moments to think about the question before he answered.)

I’ve been living this way for more than thirty years, and I honestly can’t remember what life was like before I started waking up into The Dreaming every time I fell asleep.  Factoring everything in, especially the connection I share with Dana there and in The World now that we’re learning more about our abilities, I think that I would keep it if given the chance to give it back.  Before I met Dana, I might have been more willing to give it up.  My divorce was a direct result of information I learned in The Dreaming, and the way I’ve lived since then hasn’t always been easy.  Yes, before Dana it’s possible that I would have given it up.  I definitely would not give it back now.

Lucy:  Discovering how my special relationships with animals, bugs, and so on, works, has added too much to my life experience for me to want to go back.  I’ve been able to help with it, too, which thrills me.  I call it a gift, and I’m interested in exploring it.  I don’t see any reason to give it back or erase it.

I know this is off topic, but where did you buy your genie pants, Gina?  I love them!  And Mel, you have an amazing smile!

Stan:  (Stan has more sex appeal than anything walking; even Joe.  No wonder it took a fireball like Lucy to tame him.  Yowza!)

Do you know of a way to give it back, or go back?  Lucy might not like that I would give the ability back, but I don’t begrudge her the right to have it and use it.  She’s developing it.  She’s comfortable with it.  I don’t consider it a gift the way she does, either.  Talking to Rain about it in the barn is a good case in point of why I’d rather not go down that road.  I would definitely give it back, even if I do think it’s interesting in other people.  Joe and Dana’s abilities are interesting, too.  I think having this ability is not for me.

Lucy: (Lucy and Stan sat down with Melissa and I together.  When she heard Stan’s answer, it definitely gave her pause.)  Really, Stan?  I thought you were becoming more comfortable with it.

Stan:  A little more comfortable, especially since we found out about Joe and Dana, but the question was would I give it back or erase it and my answer is yes I would.  I don’t want to erase it for anyone else, only myself.

Lucy:   (Shrugs) To each his own.

Stan:  That’s my Lucy.  (They shared a private look and a hug that showed Melissa and I how much they understand and respect one another.)

We hope you enjoyed reading their answers, and we encourage you to ask them a question if you have one for them.  They’re a friendly bunch.      

Desert Sunrise 2

Desert Sunrise is available now in paperback and Kindle from

About the author: Gina Briganti is an author, Holistic Health Consultant, and Reiki Teacher, currently in private practice. She lives with her family which will include her first grandchild next spring, a special soul who masquerades as a dog, another who masquerades as a cat, and the beautiful desert.  She loves to hear from readers, so feel free to connect with her on her website, sign up for her newsletter, check out her Amazon author central page, her Goodreads page, and Facebook.

Thanks for reading.


The longest ride anyone would want to go on

The Longest Ride by Nicholas Sparks

The first time I read the Notebook I fell in love with the characters, and with the style in which Nicolas Sparks brought the love story to life. By the end of the book I’d been through such a rollercoaster of emotion I was literally worn out. It was worth it.

I didn’t think anything could top my enjoyment, and though I’ve read and enjoyed many of Nicolas Sparks’ books since, I was right. Until I read The Longest Ride.

It might sound strange to say that I spent a good portion of the book in tears, but I was literally moved beyond words. The artful way Nicolas takes his readers on the ‘long ride’ is simply superb. It is a beautiful story, and one that should be shared.

I liked everything about it, including how apt the title turned out to be.

The tale starts from Ira Levinson’s point of view, a ninety-one year old man who finds himself involved in an automobile accident and trapped inside his car. As he lays, hoping someone will come along the highway to help, he looks back on the life he spent with his beloved Ruth, whom he’d lost nine years earlier.

These memories, aided by the ghost of Ruth (whether real or imaginary), are some of the best parts of the book. He shares his journey beautifully and the love story is incredibly moving. It’s easy to recognise the goodness in Ira, and just as easy to fall for the character and live those memories with him.

The book also follows a new love story, to complement the timeless beauty of Ira and Ruth. We are introduced to Luke and Sophia, a young couple who meet by chance and begin their own adventure together.

Their journey eventually crosses paths with Ira’s and the result is simply remarkable.

I loved every moment of The Longest Ride. It is as timeless as the love contained within its pages.


Thanks for reading


Under the spotlight

It’s still early days, and we’re still adding new and exciting content. One of the things we thought may benefit and interest readers is a section on everything character related.

So, with that in mind, we’ve created a page dedicated to profiling characters. It is a space for discussion about how characters are developed, what techniques are used, who they are and how they represent the story you’re trying to tell. Anything and everything. It’s also an opportunity to introduce characters to our readers, and we welcome input. We’d also love to hear about the people you create – either by link or by commenting on the page.

We got the ball rolling by adding an interview, and another will appear shortly. Let us know what you think.

Thanks for reading.

Laura and Melissa


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