Sunday, February 28, 2010


As winter drags on (and on), I’ve investigated a few other options for taking nature pictures, but so far, I haven’t had any luck. The butterfly house at MSU doesn’t have butterflies yet, and the bug house is open for tours only on Monday evenings (a hectic time in my household). I’ll keep looking.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

When Bad Guys Go Really Bad

Lately, I’ve been disappointed by literary bad guys (or girls) who excel at evil without realizing their potential as characters. Perhaps you recognize some of these:

The Megalomaniac
The antagonist is a Machiavellian lunatic who stops at nothing to become the most powerful person on earth. This type of villain enjoys celebrated precedents in figures like Goldfinger, and Dr. No, but reproductions of these characters tend be flat and stereotyped. If world domination is your life’s ambition, you’re exactly like to every other megalomaniac on the planet.*

The Victim of a Childhood Trauma
Some authors resort to simple psycho-pop explanations for misbehavior, but these characters lack authenticity unless the psychosis is developed in the novel.

Bad to the Bone
These characters have mean personalities and engage in inappropriate behavior while planning evil in their spare time. Isn’t it more interesting to make the evil-doer a tiny bit likable, slightly vulnerable or even occasionally sympathetic?

Antagonists deserve as much attention as protagonists and have equal rights to be multifaceted characters. Consider Artemis Fowl, Severus Snape or Gollum. At times they’re easy to hate, and then they do something to generate empathy.

*There is a time and a place for megalomaniacs, but that’s a separate post.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Why Did You Do That?

Lately, I’m reading adventure novels, and they’ve got me thinking about character motivation. Of course, characters have to make poor choices, take chances and do things that set the ball rolling. Too often though, I find myself looking up from the page and wondering why a character acted the way s/he did. After a moment, I realize the action was intended to disguise a sagging middle. There are a million excuses for characters to do dumb stuff, or at least things their mothers wouldn’t approve of, but the story’s credibility depends on the setup and on previous character development.

I’m currently in the throes of rough draft ecstasy/despair for my own adventure novel, but when it’s time to revise, I’ll analyze each scene for believability starting with this list of questions.
  • Why did the character do that?
  • Is this reason plausible?
  • What does the character have to gain? To lose?
  • Is the behavior consistent with the personality I’ve established?
  • Has something happened to change the character’s behavior or personality?
  • Is that change believable?

Sunday, February 21, 2010


I can’t claim this is an inspired photograph, but look how much color I found in Michigan in February. If you zoom in, the berries look funky.

(I’m getting tired of photographing ice.)

Friday, February 19, 2010

Bright Colors

Three cheers for Angela, Casey and TimInMich for guessing Monday's mystery photo.

Yep, it's light refraction off a compact disc.
(The Fellowship of the Ring, disc 3)

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Writing Exercise

Some people love them, others hate them. I like them when they cause me to think harder about my project and realize something I haven’t thought of before. Here’s a simple exercise we used last night at Write Night.

1. Write 50 facts about your protagonist.
2. Choose one statement. (Close your eyes and point, or pick a fave.) Write a scene to demonstrate/explore/expand on the statement.
3. Choose a statement that surprised you or two statements that seem to contradict each other and write a scene about it or them.

My list started with the obvious and progressed to things I hadn’t fully realized. I’d intended #2 to be a warm up, but I ended up with useful material. I thought #3 would be the clincher, but for my WIP, I’ve already made a good start on exploring this idea, so I simply enhanced it.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Mystery Photo

I can’t decide if this is too easy or too difficult. If nothing else, it provides color.
Please check back on Friday (2-19-10) for the big picture.

Sunday, February 14, 2010


It's been a long winter. Hang in there.

Friday, February 12, 2010


Blogging has been light around here lately, so today I’ll suggest some blogs with a bit more to say.

Check out Boni Ashburn’s new book, Over At the Castle, or better yet, order your own copy.

Jacqui Robbins provided this cool link for an anagram generator. I tried the working title of my new WIP and got Sappy Saying. Oh well.

Kirby Larson has another challenge for 10-word stories. This month’s topic is spring, which is a tall order in Michigan in February. Here’s mine:

As winter drags its gray, icy feet,
I miss color.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Monday, February 8, 2010


I participated in Write Your @ss Off Day today. Everyone was supposed to put in 8 hours on some writing-related activity. I launched a new project, and I wanted to jump in with both feet so WYAOD seemed like a plan.
  • I managed 6 hours.
  • I wrote 3,544 words.
  • I experienced a power outage that caused me to have to re-write one page. (I save frequently.)
  • I received a very disappointing rejection letter for TAoCBS.
  • I plan to goof off this evening.

Sunday, February 7, 2010


The begonias are blooming – inside.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Too Easy

On Monday, I posted this mystery photo.

All of the guesses had something to do with food, especially bready and eggy foods.

The mystery photo is the bottom of a popover, so....


(except there are no prizes)

Thanks for playing.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Odd Ends

In my ongoing quest to read spy books, I discovered Femme Fatale: Love, Lies and the Unknown Life of Mata Hari by Pat Shipman. It seems Mata Hari was less of a spy and more of a woman who needed money. The problem with biographies is you can’t necessarily look forward to a happy ending.

Moon Rat is hosting a Write Your @ss Off Day this weekend (Feb. 5-8). I hope to join the fun on Monday as it would be a fantastic way to launch my new project.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Traveling the Blogosphere

Today you can find me at Literary Rambles. Casey McCormick posted my research tip.

Yesterday, I found myself over at Fiction Notes. Darcy Pattison mentioned my first post on shrunken manuscripts.

Thank you, Casey and Darcy!

Also, I learned that some people are having trouble posting comments on this blog. I’m sorry about that. I’ll see what I can do.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Mystery Photo

What is it?

Is it easier or harder than the glass plates?

I'll post the answer on Friday 2-5-10.