Posts Tagged ‘characters’

Who is the protagonist of The Grove?


The Grove Cover_blogsized

I always think its fun to see if I can create a character that the reader loves to hate. They must be sympathetic. They must be interesting. They must also have a need that must be met in the course of the story. But that isn’t necessarily what makes them a protagonist.

So how do you define protagonist.

The most common definition–especially for the lay person–is that the protagonist is the central character of a story.  And professionals agree: According to “A protagonist is the central character or leading figure in poetry,  narrative, novel or any other story.” However, then the definition goes on. Seriously its a whole page.

So lets first start with the central characters. For The Grove that’s Dayla Fisher and Jonah Leifson.


Jonah wants to save humanity from themselves. He believes waking a few bloodthirsty ancient Gods will do it. And he doesn’t care that he might have to sacrifice a few people to do it.

dayla happy.jpg

The Keeper of The Grove, Dayla will do anything to stop Jonah from waking the Gods.  She suffers over any loss of life though she eventually comes to realize she might have to take life to stop Jonah.

So who is the protagonist?

There are a couple basic elements for a protagonist:

  • The protagonist is driving the action of the story and so the narrative revolves around him/her/them.

By this definition, that means my protagonist would be Jonah as he drives the story towards its conclusion.

  • The protagonist may undergo some change within the course of the story.

Uh Oh, Jonah doesn’t go through much of a transformation, he is a true believer in what he is doing, so that might mean the protagonist is Dayla.

  • The events occurring in a story often viewed from the perspective of the protagonist.

Well that could be both characters. As well as three other people: Dayla’s husband Oliver Hayes, Dayla’s best friend Samantha Miller and her one time rival, now charge, Galeno DeAdams.

  • A well-constructed protagonist allows the audience to relate to themselves and the other characters.

This too could be either character. Do you want to save the world with Jonah? Or stop Jonah from sacrificing people with Dayla?

So who is the protagonist?

The truth is who is the protagonist is questionable. I wrote The Grove as a thriller. So in that sense, Jonah is driving the action, while Dayla is fighting for her life, her husband, her friends and lifestyle. Most people will see Dayla as the protagonist, because she isn’t using her magic to delude people into waking three ancient Gods. She is “the good-guy.”

However ultimately who is the protagonist is up to the reader!

Do you agree or disagree? Do you have a favorite book/series in which you question who is the protagonist?

About The Grove:
The Grove Cover_blogsizedGenre: Contemporary Dark Fantasy
340 Pages
Paperback ISBN: 9780980145908
Ebook: ISBN:9780980145922

Sitka’s Quay appears to be like every other coastal tourist town on Highway 101, but lurking below its southern grove of ancient spruce are three sleeping primordial gods. The Keeper, Dayla Fischer, must remain in control of her magical abilities or fall into sickening madness, but lives a relatively quiet life with her husband, Oliver. That is, until the delusional, but charming Jonah Leifson comes to town with a plan to awaken the Three. Soon, children begin disappearing. With powerful suggestion spells and mind reading abilities, Jonah wins over other sorcerers, meth users, the police, and eventually even her husband. Though no one believes her and she doubts her own sanity, she must stop Jonah, before he wakes the Three and brings about the end of the world.


Reviews for The Grove:
“Chaos, murder, sacrifice: it was a delicious read, and I devoured it all.” Dan Thompson, The Black Petal

“If you’re a fan of well-written, fast-paced, fantasy thrillers that trot into the neighborhood of horror, you’ll love it…” Fia Essen, Ariel

“Guizzetti’s delusional and magically gifted anti-hero is truly terrifying…” Janice Clark, Healer’s Apprentice Series

Meet Rosalind: A Secondary Protagonist of The Light Side of the Moon

The Light Side of the MoonRosalind

Age Unknown

(EC 302) Manufactured in India/Programmed in France

Expert Compatible Android (Accountant)

Personality: She loves deeply, she does not want to be stuck on Earth. She is a leader, but can aggressively pull for dreams.


Description Excerpt

She zoomed her optics from the nebula to Earth. The enlargement algorithms resized the sky as her crafted compound lens flipped to a smaller aperture to allow in less light. Her world shifted into millions of colored pixels. Images smoothed. She could see.

Ceramic tiles had continued to fall through the rotting, scorched wood in the ceiling, but the tenement was the same as it had been the last time her consciousness was on Earth. She rolled to her side and pushed strands of dirty blond hair out of her scarred face. A pigeon clapped its wings; its tiny claws scratched her aging silicone flesh as the bird bounced onto the dirt floor.

She rubbed her corroded knee joints. Using the doorframe, she lifted herself to her full height and held back screaming as she broke through the oxidation. Gazing upon her brothers who still dreamt toward the nebula, she could not remember her name, or her brothers’ names, but serial number EC 302 was embossed with black ink on her left bicep. Her brothers looked the same: inactive burnt flesh, visible indo-skeletons, absent limbs, and each one missing an optic. They were built to be imposing sentinels of this place, but their injuries exposed their weakness. S467’s legs were nothing more than scorched stumps.

S455 had a pigeon nesting between his unmoving chest and arm. She almost pushed it away until she saw the eggs. She let the pigeon be.

Meet Ellie Sethdottier: Protagonist of The Light Side of the Moon

Who wants to see the character dossier of Ellie Sethdottier: Protagonist of The Light Side of the Moon?

Ellie at age 11

Ellie at age 11, Digital painting by me, Elizabeth Guizzetti. All Rights Reserved.

Ella (Ellie) Settdottier was four-years-old when the Kiposians came. While she and her brothers were too young to immigrate to Kipos and witnessed a violent argument between her parents, which ended with her mother battered. She never saw her father again. She does not know if he abandoned them for opportunities on Kipos or was possibly killed at the gates. She doesn’t want to know.

Parents: Jia Rao and Seth Keithson

Two Brothers: Daniel (+4 years) and James (+3 years)

Virtues: Though her life has been hard, she was protected from the worst of their poverty by her older brothers, thus she is strong-willed and hopeful things will get better. (Her brothers have long given up on life.) She loves to read and collect knowledge.

Vices: She has grown up so fast, she does not listen to reason. She is slow to trust.

Helpful Vice: She is a risktaker, but terrified of “getting in trouble” in an unforgivable way. She doesn’t really understand what is unforgivable, but has an idea that she needs to not get pregnant or catch an uncurable STI, so during her teen years she stays away from boys and drugs.

Age in novel: 4 – 18

Description excerpts

Age 4

More harshly than was wise, Alexander snapped, “She’s four and lost her father. Who said, ‘Suffer the little children…’ ”

With the hope Ella would settle down and Sister Diego might witness the vision of an innocent in pain, he pulled her onto his lap. After all, a four-year-old has no designs except to be loved, fed, safe, and warm. When she wasn’t screaming, Ella was as sweet looking as Jia had been at four: large round brown eyes, soft lengths of black hair escaping from two messy braids. Sister Diego could see her in her brothers’ hand-me-down green sweater and old patched trousers. No sign of sinful disease.

Both for his own comfort and hers, Alexander rocked her. Ella calmed as she snuggled into his shoulder, but Sister Diego’s face remained without compassion.


Age 11

[Alexander] considered as the afternoon sun bounced off Ella’s black hair how much she resembled Jia at that age, but her normally bronzed skin, looked grayish. Daniel and Jamie looked worse, covered in flour. The girl was on some invisible tether, bouncing with childish energy, but matching her brothers’ sluggish pace. Neither boy should be broken in adolescence.

The Light Side of the Moon Final The Light Side of the Moon will be available on paperback and ebook for Kindle, Nook, Kobo, and IBooks.

Meet Ian Whitlatch: Secondary Protagonist of The Light Side of the Moon


Ian at graduation. Digital Painting by me.

Ian Marcus Weaver Whitlatch is the only child of a doctor and the manager of a charity soup kitchen in Salisbury. Dad helps everyone whether they can pay or not. Mum doesn’t take a salary for her work instead donates her time to feed the impoverished.At the beginning of the novel, his parents employ two domestics: Ian’s tutor Mr. McKay and Ms. Blacksmith the housekeeper and cook.

Note: For the Other System’s Universe, they are upper middle class, however, their lifestyle for the average family in today’s world, they would be lower-middle class.
For example: like most people on Earth at this time, they don’t own a car. Since Dad’s clinic and Mum’s Soup Kitchen is across the back garden, they also generally have no need of one.

Virtues: Respects every person, doesn’t believe in violence, hard worker, kind-hearted

Virtue that hurts him: Unfaltering idealism which presents as pretentiousness

Vices: Judges by outer beauty, doesn’t always get along with his parents, can be self-absorbed

Parents: Grace Alice Teague. Weaver, Royce Xavier Langly Whitlatch  No Siblings.

Education: Home Tutor until age fifteen, then Oxford undergraduate studies and Oxford Medical School

Description Excerpt

Age 13

Ian yanked off his apron and washed his hands. The cut was deep, but not bad enough to show Dad. Pressing a handkerchief to the wound, he scrutinized himself in the mirror and tucked in his shirt. An angry pimple had formed between his nostril and cheek. Ugh. Even when his skin was clear, his nose was too big. Mum always said he had Dad’s handsome looks. That was unfortunate for them both.


Age 21

Ellie jumped for it. Knowing momentum might carry her in medium gravity, she forced herself to fall and hit the decking. Her legs burned as she skidded the last four meters, but the luggage stopped moving. She pressed her lips together and blinked back tears. 

“Vous allez bien, mademoiselle?”

Light created a halo from his straight hair, but when her eyes cleared, she looked past his nose into his deep green eyes, filled with concern.

Without thinking she answered back in English. “Yes, thank you, sir.”

He wore an officer’s uniform, but she recoiled from the soft, delicate hand that reached for her. He was probably going to yell at her like everyone else did.

“You’re an Englishwoman?” he asked helping her to her feet. 

“I speak English. I’m from Seattle. My name is Ellie Sethdottier. How do you do?” She curtsied though she wore pants.

“I’m Dr. Ian Whitlatch, and I’m just fine, but that looked like a nasty spill you took.”

Coming this Summer

The Light Side of the Moon Final

Why I believe in diversity in science fiction: an answer to the counter-arguments.

A number of people in the science fiction community are screaming about diversity in books and films. Either they want to bring back the good ole days, or they want to see characters that look how the world looks now. It saddens me that this argument has gotten very nasty. The 2015 Hugo Award Nominations are just the visual tip of the anger iceberg.


I saw this on PinInterst, Originally found on

Anyone who follows my blog knows how much I love StarTrek. I’m going to explain why I think diversity is important for the sci-fi community, but how there is room for all of our visions. I was a young teen with TNG and in highschool, early college with DS9. I loved those show’s wide open universe with all those planets and races. The meme is getting popular now, but I remember the first time I heard Whoopie Goldberg’s story about how she and Gene Rodenberry spoke about how before the original StarTrek there were no black people in sci-fi and how Lt. Uhura, played by Nichelle Nichols during 1966 to 1969, was a trailblazing role for African-Americans.

When I heard the story, it reminded me of being a kid and watching GI Joe, Thunder Cats, or almost every other show and wanting there to be more than one token girl or woman character. That’s when I realized “the girl” was a type, just like “the black guy” or whoever. And I didn’t want to write “types,” I wanted to write characters. I want to tell their stories. I still do.

StarTrek and Ms. Goldberg’s story encouraged me to always look at my “cast” and make sure that there was a fairly even split of men and women–and if there wasn’t, it needed to make sense why. That if there were “colors” of skin in my book’s universe that they are shown–and not just in the background. That sexual diversity was shown.

The cry for diversity rings loudly. Readers want characters that look like them, that they can relate to, but I don’t think anyone is really saying, “Every protagonist needs to look like me!” Though a few vocal white, cis-gender, heterosexual males are certainly coming close to that.

I believe in listening to people, which means I also believe it is also important to answer the (sometimes-bitter) counter arguments with kindness and generosity of spirit.

Counter Argument #1: So you are saying that I shouldn’t write all white or all male books? Maybe that’s my vision!

People should write what they want to write. Just don’t be surprised when the market makes the final call. I would also add no matter what type of characters you write, you may find you end up with a different market than expected.

An example of a terrific all male cast is John Carpenter’s 1982 version of The Thing. They are twelve guys in a small science station in Antarctica so they are cut off from the world. Sexual diversity is not mentioned. However, there is some racial diversity in the cast with Keith David as Childs and T.K. Carter as Nauls. All in all the cast did a great job.

So if for whatever reason, if a non-diverse cast works, go with it. I think your collection of work shows your heart more than a single work.

Counter Argument #2 Authors are just adding this stuff so they can be edgy.

Really, you think authors care about being edgy? I don’t speak for every author, but I care about writing characters that make readers care and I care about finding readers. That’s it.

Counter Argument #3: White people shouldn’t write/explore other cultures because either white people can’t understand it or it is cultural appropriation.

For me this one is insidious, because I want to be an ally to others. To listen and tell stories. How do I get around this? First of all, I admit I’m a white American, cisgender, and heterosexual. I’m mixed European ancestry, a large chunk of that being Italian. This means I grew up with white privilege. This means there are things that happen I will simply not understand, I own up to that.

Then I figure out what I do know. While I never feared the police would racial profile me, I know what if feels like to be afraid. While I don’t know what it is like for a homosexual young man to want to kiss a boy when all your life you are told you can only kiss girls, but I can imagine what that first kiss is like. Love, pain and isolation are part of the human condition.

By admitting my ignorance of certain aspects of culture and then using my own experiences, I can research with an open mind. We all have the Internet at our disposal and we can take the time to do interviews. So, authors, no matter what your background, don’t fear writing about other cultures, but its important to research and write from a place of respect. Don’t rush the details, don’t force teachable moments, just do the work.

Counter Argument #4: What’s the point of writing diversely, the cover artist is just going to make them white?

So far, I’ve always done my own covers, so this hasn’t been a problem for me, but authors have agents and lawyers for a reason.
Authors, make sure you have some authority in your cover. And if you don’t. Guess what we all have blogs. Use them, show your character sketch. Be proactive.
Fans, if you want diverse covers, write, tweet, email publishers.

And the Counter-Counter Sad Puppy Argument to #4.
Why can’t a book with a spaceship on the cover just be about space adventure? Why does it always have to be out race or feminism or…?

Science fiction authors have a long history about putting “second stories” into their worlds. George Orwell and Margret Atwood outwardly wrote/writes social science fiction, but Ray Bradbury, Robert Heinlein, Frank Herbert, and Joe Halderman also delved into issues with their stories. So I don’t know when these readers thought science fiction only focused on escapism. That being said, there are escapist stories. Just look for them. I’m sure a google search of “escapist science fiction” will give you somewhere to look. In the bookstore, ask the bookseller, don’t just look at the pretty picture on the cover, flip the book over and read the blurb. Open the book and glance at the first chapter. Online, Check out the reviews. Look at the sub genres.

Authors create worlds. Sometimes the author will delve deep into the political or sociological issues of that universe, other times, not so much. I personally love to delve into issues with my writing, but not all my writing is about how I view the world.

In closing, I think there is room for all types of science fiction and all types of science fiction fans. I don’t need to like every single book to be a fan, nor do you. We can have conviction and still be respectful. Please remember, that we’re are a community and behind every avatar is a person wanting their voice to be heard.

Hell no, I don’t want a billionaire to ravish me.

Caution: Mom do not read this blog post. Well, you’re an adult, so go ahead and read it if you want, but I’m warning you now, I’m explaining my viewpoint on romantic or erotic literature with jerks as male love interests. Also I know I have written about this topic before and it wasn’t the most popular post…

The reason I’m bringing it up today is a super confused guy mentioned, “Girls want to be ravished by billionaires.”

No, I’m not kidding. Btw, he wasn’t saying this with any disrespect and obviously expected me to understand the reference.

First of all: Any generalization about 50% of the population is likely to be wrong.

I told Super-Confused-Guy in no uncertain terms I DO NOT want to be ravished by a billionaire. Not even in fantasy. So here is my warning to billionaires and other super special snowflakes that make up book boyfriends: if you try to ravish me, I’m calling the cops. Sorry, but I’m pragmatic like that.

I am in a monogamous marriage, but I’m an active partner. Being the female does not make me passive or submissive. During sex, I give my consent (and so does my husband btw) I am not plied into doing anything I don’t want, nor would I ever force my husband to do something he doesn’t want. There is no gray area.

Secondly, my favorite books deal with personal relationships as well as other ideas or themes. I am not a huge reader of romance or erotica and tend to read them as an author which means I am breaking it down. However, I do have a lot of respect for the genres for their ability to hold tension.

But no matter what the genre: “Alphas” who intimidate women or make decisions for them can step the f*** off. In books, they steal kisses or “play” threaten or actually use physical violence. They push alcohol to ply their victims into doing what they want. They push for commitment early. They are possessive under the guise of being protective — an ugly trait in my opinion.

Why can they do this? First of all, they’re rich and handsome–and in a spicy books, they are also well-endowed.

You know who else is possessive under the guise of being protective: ABUSERS!  You know who punishes their lovers with physical violence? ABUSERS! That’s why I don’t like this fantasy.

In my opinion, the female protagonist acting spunky doesn’t change the fact, the guy is an abusive ass.  I don’t even give them a second glance after they showed me their “alpha” side.  I don’t care if they can give the female money, fame, security or whatever else it is they want. Of course, one of the reason they can act this way, because often the story line is a redemptive tale: at some point the man will change for the woman. Or worse, the woman is forced to change for the man.

Overall, these novels demonstrate the old adage that men need respect, while women want love and attention. Screw that. Real people of all genders need love, respect, attention. That’s why I don’t like this storyline.

Thirdly: As an author and a reader, it annoys me when a character is broken down to what they can give the protagonist. (Money to buy the perfect present, throbbing members, and a six pack are apparently the most common desirable traits for men.) That’s just sad… and what super-confused-guy was talking about.

The characters (and men in real life) who I find sexy are men who respect women. They are strong in their own right, they have no need to rule over anyone. Women and men are equals. Maybe they mess up, because that’s bound to happen, but I want the characters to be alive.

As an author, I write about people. I want my male characters to be more than flights of female fantasy. I want them to live and breath. And if my reader falls in love with one of them, I want you to fall for their whole selves.

lunaThat brings me to re-introducing Ian Marcus Weaver Whitlatch from The Light Side of the Moon. I’m guessing, he will never be anyone’s book boyfriend, but even if he’s not, I hope he lives in your minds…

Original character dossier

One of the chosen to go to Kipos: Ian does not go because of his parents wishes. He grows up longing for space travel and gets the chance to go to the Lunar Colony.

Mother Grace Alice Teague Weaver
Father: Royce Xavier Langly Whitlatch
No siblings. Parents had to fight infertility even to have Ian.

Status: He is a small-town doctor and a manager of a soup kitchen’s son. So his family is loved, but he is not rich. Later, he is a prison doctor.

Looks: Straight brown hair, green eyes, big nose, high forehead. Slender build, 6 ft even. Mother comments Ian has Dad’s looks, Ian is not sure if that is a compliment.

Personality: Introverted, so his friends tend to be close ones.  Kind to children.
Virtues: Idealist, romantizes space travel, democratic, believes in equality, looks to the future

Vices: Presumptuous and can be snobby


Ian knew he should feel pride at his achievement, but all he felt was anti-climatic nothingness. His dark suit fit him well enough, but the plain white collared shirt and black bow-tie cut off the circulation to his head. Sweating under the student gown covered with full sleeves, embroidered hood, and cap, he waited to enter the Senate House. No one spoke to him, so he pulled out his pocket-sized YRUniverse. As Ian looked around at the assembled faces of his classmates, he couldn’t find joy in the others’ accomplishments. Most made it clear a small-town doctor’s son was not worth their friendship, or even their contempt.

A notice acknowledged another press release from the Tallier Groupe. He clicked on it hoping it was about Serenitatis. Or Ivonne Tallier. He loved reading about her. The message was another mission update from the astronauts confirmed there was power being drawn into the cabling of the space elevator by the Earth’s magnetic fields.

Through the door, the Vice Chancellor of Medicinal Sciences congratulated the hard work of the graduands. The entire theater clapped politely. He slipped his YRUniverse in his pocket.

Mary glanced behind her with a nervous smile to another woman, showing her pretty white teeth. Catching Ian’s eye, she gave him an “it’s okay” signal. 

His parents hadn’t arranged a marriage for him, nor had hers. He almost asked Mary to be his wife, but she decided she wasn’t interested in him “that way” and dated another half-dozen men from their class who hadn’t interested her either. She wanted them to remain friends. They did. Sort of. It would help if her presence didn’t arouse in him the need to hold her and make her laugh.

Dad gave him rubbers–with explicit instructions to use them every time he had premarital sex— but in his four years at Oxford, he hadn’t dated anyone else. He felt tongue-tied around girls. Even when they wanted sexual relations, most of his classmates had chaperones to make sure they didn’t do anything to disrupt their organized marriages. Sometimes it felt as if he would never meet a girl. His family was too poor to be of interest to wealthy families, too wealthy for Ian to slum around the factory workers of Salisbury…

So that’s the kind of characters I like. What kinds of characters do you love or hate?

Write what you know? Nah, be a master thief!

Every author has heard the words “Write what you know.”Writewhatyouknow Honestly I think that’s terrible advice. While having personal information and experience can give the writing an interesting flavor,  if I wrote only what “I know” all my books would be about dogs, baking cookies, and hiking. That would make for some pretty boring books. So forget that!

Okay I admit writing about demon dogs is cool. After all look at Out for Souls & Cookies…

So my advice is twofold.
First, write what excites you enough to research the information that you need. It is going to be plenty an average person doesn’t know. My research list for The Light Side of the Moon included:

  • Lunar surface
  • Where a Lunar Colony might be located upon the moon
  • Recycling methods
  • American and European cities which Ellie stops along her way to the space elevator
  • Commercial Trucking including driving laws and restrictions
  • Smoking pot
  • British Slang
  • French Slang
  • Dissecting a pig’s heart
  • Medical School
  • First grade education
  • And many many other topics…

Second, steal from your friends!

Don’t worry, I’m not talking plagiarism. I am talking about listening and observing people so you can write interesting and realistic characters. Some people interview to help create characters. I tend to take attributes from people I see on the bus or in a coffee shop and especially from my author friends. Mainly because they tend to be smart and articulate.

My friends are not the characters–the characters are themselves. This is simply a way to help develop the character.


I ordered Zachary Bonelli to hold me. He did my bidding. I ordered him to rub my belly. He did my bidding. I ordered Andrea McQuate to give me a bite of pretzel. She did my bidding. However, this mythical “Evan Witt”  does not exist for he has neither rubbed my belly or given me food. Perhaps I will allow his existence some day. All hail the Mighty Rosie Beast!

Zachary Bonelli the author of Voyage Embarkation is an idealist just like my character Ian Whitlatch, so I mimicked some of Zach’s mannerisms, especially when Ian gets passionate about the injustice women suffer in the prison. The clenching fist, the softer voice when he gets serious. I have seen Zach’s kindness first hand–in fact he cradled Rosie in his hands to make her more comfortable on a car ride for at least an hour–so I can assume he would be kind to children such as Ian in this scene:

(Andre is 5. There has been a riot on the station. He and the other kids have taken shelter in the infirmary.)

…“Tristan and Ellie saved us,” Andre whimpered. Then he slipped away from Lisette and climbed onto Ian’s lap. Ian reached out for a tissue off the counter and wiped away the boy’s snotty tears and told him to blow his nose.  Andre did so. Ian clenched the tissue in his fist and leaned back in his chair wrapping his arms around him trying to make him comfortable… 

My friend Andrea McQuate is a neuroscientist. When I wrote Ian’s opening scenes, she was the one who told me to make Ian be more in love with his science experiment. Also her stories of gradschool and time in the lab speaks of passion for one’s work. So from Andrea, I stole Ian’s love of science.

what truly excited Ian was observing deep within the four chambers of the heart. While he had to outpace the rotting flesh, he lingered over the spiraling perfection of muscle. With his left hand, he trailed the coronary artery as he drew it with his right. His fingers felt for the thickness of the ventricles. He located the curved part of the aorta behind the pulmonary arteries to the lungs. 

Put the two together and I have a character like Ian Whitlatch.

I even do it for villains. In The Martlet, one of my favorite characters is Kian, but for a long time he was missing something until a few weeks ago when I met author Evan Witt who came to my reading. Afterwards we went out to dinner with artist & author AoKA (another extremely interesting person I’d love to base a character off of someday. )

Evan has wonderful hand gestures and plays with his pen when he speaks or when he is listening. Kian needed more details to show his nature and that seemed appropriate.  Now one thing they have in common is  when Evan smiles, his eyes crinkle. That was actually what drew me into watching him more intently.  That’s when I began noticing his pen acrobatics.

He doesn’t look like Kian– obviously he’s not a Fairsinge with tri-pointed ears nor does he have strawberry blonde hair or blue eyes. I certainly hope he doesn’t have “scars that run deep” or thinks he will find the secret to immortality by turning people into revenants, but that’s hardly the point.

My friends are not the characters–the characters are themselves. Ian has attributes outside both Zach and Andrea.  I began writing Kian a year ago and met Evan only a month ago. This is simply a way to help develop the character more deeply. While all the authors I mentioned in this blog know because I told them I was writing the blog post, most people won’t notice because I am picking and choosing specific gestures or intrinsic qualities that I do not possess.

So go be a master thief!

If you have a “Book Boyfriend” just admit you’re reading porn.

This might be an unpopular message, but I hate the words “Book Boyfriend.”  I’ve been seeing it a lot on Faceboook recently. I don’t mind that people revel in the characters they love, what drives me crazy is my Facebook feed lately has just been loaded with crap like this along with half-naked men.

1044082_592853724070180_1985116847_nThe fact that I am seeing a bunch of idealized cheesecake shots of men is proof of porn. (No I am not going to put images on my blog.)

Now I admit, I tend to find romance books disappointing. I have read more than a few. Contemporary romance authors are very good at pacing and keeping the tension in the narrative so I have learned from them. I have lots of author friends on Facebook and Twitter. I don’t want to name names, because I’d never want to hurt another author–especially an independent author– but I’ve been reading a lot of teasers for summer and fall releases and many of the teasers have red flags for me.

I keep seeing “alpha men” intimidate women or make decisions for them. They steal kisses or “play” threaten. They push for commitment early. They tell a woman she is beautiful and they are going to seduce her. They get what they want. Why can they do this? First of all they are all so handsome–and in a spicy books, they are also well-endowed. Secondly, many of them are rich or famous or leaders of industry. Basically, they have a special snowflake status that allows them to go around acting like jerks.

They can do it because the woman is head over heels in love/lust for them. The female protagonist acting spunky doesn’t change the fact, I want to tell the guy to step the f*** off.  I don’t even give them a second glance after they showed me their “alpha” side.  I don’t care if they can give the female money, fame, security or whatever else it is they want.

Basically it annoys me when a character is broken down to what they can give the protagonist. (Money and hot sex are the most common desirable traits for men.) That’s just sad.

The man I love and the ones I find sexy are men who respect women. They are strong in their own right, they have no need to rule over anyone. I married a sweet, caring, sensitive boy who now is a sweet, caring, sensitive, and extremely intelligent man. He appreciates my independent nature. He doesn’t try to change me or expects that I change for him. Nor do I expect him to change for me. Maybe that’s why our life is boring. We simply treat each other well. I realize that doesn’t make for a good story.

However even as an author, I write about men who are people. I want them to be more than flights of female fantasy.

At least from the reviews, I have seen, Harden has been nearly everyone’s favorite character in Other Systems. He was raised to believe there is no difference between men and women so he treats everyone with respect as human beings. Reproductive organs are irrelevant to the work they do. He doesn’t sexualize women. In his romantic relationships, he expects equals.He is neither submissive or dominant.  He is simply a person. Obviously he makes mistakes, he is a bit gruff especially with younger people, but I tried to make it clear in the narrative, Harden treats Abby EXACTLY the same way as he treated his little brother Mark when Mark was in his late teens.

Now I’m finishing up The Light Side of the Moon. I wrote about a sweet, intelligent boy who grows into an idealistic man trying to build a utopia. Now unlike Harden who is used to living in close quarters with women, Ian Whitlatch did not grow up with women (except good old Mum) so he tends to idealize them. However he was raised to respect all people.

He is the only child of a small-town doctor and the manager of a charity soup kitchen. Don’t expect him to have lots of money. Dad works in a factory town and will help everyone whether they can pay or not. Mum doesn’t take a salary for her work instead donates her time to feed the impoverished. For the Other System’s Universe they are wealthy, but for the average family in the United States, they would definitly be lower middle class.

Oh and Ian will have to grow into his looks:

At age nineteen, this is how he describes himself:

Ian looked in the mirror, another pimple formed between his nostril and cheek during his excursion in the city. Mum always said he had Dad’s looks. That was unfortunate for both of them, because even when his skin was clear, Ian’s forehead was too high and his nose too big. 

Two years later: Ellie (age 13) describes him thus:

…She hit the decking. Her legs burned as she skidded down the last four meters of the ramp, but the luggage stopped moving. She  pressed her lips together tightly and tried to blink back her tears. 

“Êtes-vous bien, mademoiselle?

She looked up. The light created a halo from his straight sandy-brown hair, but when her eyes cleared, she saw his prominent nose. Then she looked past his nose and into his deep green eyes that were filled with concern.

Not thinking she answered back in English. “Yes thank you, sir.”

He wore an officer’s uniform, but she almost cringed away from his soft delicate hand that reached down for her.  “You’re an Englishwoman?” he asked helping her to her feet. 

So I doubt Ian (or any character I write) will be anyone’s “book boyfriend”, but I’m okay with that.

I know there are plenty of authors and readers who follow my blog, what kinds of characters drive you crazy?

Character Dossier: Patrick Mason of Other Systems

As you might have seen, I posted my original character dossiers for each of the major characters over the course of the last few weeks.  Here are the links to your favorite character’s dossier: Abby,  ColeHardenHelenMarkBrianDiane, Pat and Rockford! Don’t worry there isn’t  spoilers.

Patrick “Pat” Mason

Physical Description:  Pat is a Homo Kiposi. Personal description: Athletic Build. Dark brown hair, brown eyes, tan skin.

Clothing: On ship: coveralls over a t-shirt, on leave: coveralls over a t-shirt. planet side: environmental suit

Character Description: He is ultimately a good man, but has trouble knowing where his loyalties should lie. 

Pat interned on the Revelation. Mark was 19, Pat was 18 when he came aboard.  Since Pat was Mark’s first real peer, they got into a lot of trouble together. Nothing serious, just teenaged stuff, but Harden wasn’t great at dealing with it. (Note: Harden and Helen will be strict with Abby over small infractions, because they don’t want a repeat of Mark/Pat. Abby doesn’t have a safety net.)

Education: Doctorate in Biology

Job: Biologist, Planetary Survey Team. Customs agent specializing in biological contraband (Customs is the only police Kipos has.)


Parents: Not named, but he has some. They want him to have a child.

Siblings: none mentioned

Offspring: Megan

Romantic Relationships: Primarily Homosexual (though like most fleet brats he enjoyed bi-sexual experimentation in his late teens and 20’s.)

Had relationship with Mark during late teens, early 20’s.

Since fathers don’t always get to raise their children in the Fleet, he married Silva–an Earth woman in order to have Megan.

Hobbies: Plays Poker, likes fast hard music

Other Systems CoverSales Links:

Character Dossier: Diane Richards of Other Systems

As I have said, I will be posting my original character dossiers for each of the major characters over the course of the next few weeks so if you want to see your favorite character’s dossier stay tuned.  Here is the order: Abby,  ColeHardenHelenMarkBrian, Diane, Pat and Rockford! I admit I am not putting up anything with spoilers.

Here we go for Diane Richards: Head Engineer on The Revelation.


© Pticca | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

Diane is my favorite character. I have gotten a few comments thanking me for writing a strong, highly intelligent and at the same time sensual, I am proud to have written a character that so many women relate with or look up to.

Physical Description:  Tan skin with embedded microscales. Beautiful. Sensual. Wavy thick, dark brown hair, big hazel eyes.

Paternal and Maternal: Mixed European

Clothing: On ship: coveralls over a t-shirt, on leave: coveralls over a t-shirt. She wears scented lotions. Off ship: she dresses to the nines.

Character Description: Loving, kind. Social drinker, sometimes likes to have a beer when coming off duty, but never drinks to excess. She is extremely popular with men.

Important note: She doesn’t deal with people’s problems. When she and Harden were building the Revelation, she never tried to make Harden eat, shower, or anything else. She figures he is an adult and lives the life he wanted to live, but he was extremely depressed.  She is Abby’s friend and though she keeps an eye on her and answers questions, she is more big sister than mother.

Education: Doctorate in Engineering

Job: Head Engineer of the Revelation. She also created the oxygen garden. Age when protagonist comes into her life: Early 30’s

Step 4: Relationships: Parents: unnamed

Siblings: unnamed, the Alekoses are her family now. Best Friends with Helen.

Offspring: Sterilized as an adult. Only one son who was sterilized and died of old age.

Romantic Relationships: Primarily Heterosexual, now that she is divorced, she enjoys shoreleave hookups with men.

Pets: Rockford

Other Systems CoverSales Links:

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