Category Archives: Characters

Weird Bookstore Customers


I have one more week of bookstoring and it seems that all the strangest and most eccentric customers have waited until the bitter end to grace me with their presence. I’m not complaining about the additional sales, mind you. I just have to paste on my Barbie doll smile, nod at the appropriate time, and endure.

This morning I had the – um – pleasure of serving a group of five rather strange women. Well, two of them were quite normal, one was in-between, and the other two were off the charts in missing smarticles. (I love that word, smarticles. I heard it this morning from my daughter.)

Anyway . . .

The two normal ladies shopped like normal customers. Asked intelligent questions. Made lovely comments. Purchased non-fluff books. Those are books with some substance. Not like a sappy romance you read in one sitting and then forget the entire story within minutes of finishing it.

The in-between lady stayed in the store while Martina McBride’s Christmas album played through two and a half times. She belched out loud twice (the lady, not Martina McBride) and left only after one of the normal ladies came to fetch her. No purchase. Even after looking through every single book in my inventory.

The two missing smarticles ladies left me speechless. And that is not an easy task. One of them – an elderly white-haired wonder – marched up to the counter and stuck her hand out in greeting, loudly introducing herself as Mrs. C. I murmured something in reply, purposely not giving my name. She caught that and demanded to know. I was tempted to say “Batman” or something equally silly. But I didn’t. Mrs. C proceeded to help herself to the free candy canes I have out for my customers, and then generously distributed them to everyone else in the store. Really. It happened just like that.

During her subsequent tour of the store, Mrs. C could be heard enthusiastically exclaiming, “Oh goodnessy, graciousy me! Look at this! And this! I could just stay here for hours!” Oh please, Lord, today is 12.21.12. I don’t mind at all if you come and get me right this minute! Of course, if He had come right then, there is the possibility that Mrs. C and I would have been on the same bus to heaven.

Oh yeah, she bought a pamphlet on the evils of Halloween. For $1.23.

The last weird lady stood in a corner and watched. She didn’t say a word, but her eyes darted around the room as if she were expecting something terrible to happen and I must admit that the words suicide bomber crossed my mind. She was a very small woman wearing a very large jacket.

Finally, they left. After I watched them all pile into one tiny car, I locked up the store and hurried over to the coffee shop to pick up my lunch. I found my staff in shock. The crazy ladies had been there, too.


Filed under Blogging, Books, Characters, Coffee Shop, Humor, Women, Writing

The Real Character

Every so often the characters in my stories take control of their own lives. This is a fiction writer’s dream.

Or nightmare.

The dream part is when story practically writes itself and all you need to do is make sure your fingers are limbered up for the long haul on the keyboard. Love it. The nightmare part is when you’ve spent time outlining the story, doing your research, and boom – those stubborn characters don’t give a rip about how much work you’ve put into creating them. They just do what they want to do and you’re along for the ride. Believe me, it NEVER turns out the way you planned.

I have been working on one particular novel for a long time. A really long time. The initial story idea came to me over 25 years ago and it’s still evolving. The main character is a strong woman, but she doesn’t think she is so I’ve been able to keep her in check up to this point. But I can tell she is about ready to break out. She’s begun to interrupt my day with little snippets of information and a few times she’s even invaded my dreams at night with her constant chatter. This is odd for her because she’s normally pretty quiet.

She wants her story told. All of it. And the only way that will happen is if I let her do the telling. So . . . yesterday I started over.

I listened to this brave woman. I felt her joy and pain and turmoil. I wrote the words as she spoke them. I began to see who she really is and not who I thought she was. No wonder she tried so hard to get my attention. I didn’t know her like I thought I did, and she knew it.

Thank you, Julia, for giving me a shove in the right direction.

But please, let’s work on this during waking hours from now on.



Filed under Characters, Imagination, Writing


Okay, the break is over.

I’ve been away from writing for over a week now, aside from my blog, and I am mustering up some serious determination to get back into the groove. That means finding an inspiration-friendly Starbucks with available power outlets and a venti white chocolate mocha. With whipped cream.

I can’t believe I’ve left my characters in the hands of the evil queen for so long. I can practically hear their panic.

But there have been some positives during this non-writing time period. I had many conversations with lots of different people and that always triggers the old idea machine. I am amazed at how the simplest comment from the most unknowing of souls can become the very words that change the course of a story. So cool.

Suddenly, the desperate voices of my characters have stilled. They’re waiting.

Even the evil queen knows that something’s up.


I don’t like to be too predictable where those storybook folks are concerned. They tend to become a bit over-confident when things chug along in a logical manner, which makes them difficult to handle when I want to change it up. They argue when I increase the tension. They complain when they have to walk another three miles to reach the hideout. They give me dirty looks when I make them be friends with somebody they don’t like. You know how it is.

So, guys, the determination button has been pushed and the gears are starting to turn.

Look out!



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Filed under Being Creative, Characters, Imagination, Writing

Let the ‘Games’ Begin

I don’t do book reviews. I love to read, but it kind of spoils the fun if you have to do a report on it after. Reminds me too much of school homework, which I always detested. So, let’s just say this is not a book review. And really, it isn’t.

I put off reading The Hunger Games for a long time, mostly because it’s a dystopian YA novel and the whole premise didn’t appeal to me much. But I succumbed. And I absolutely loved the book. The whole series, in fact. Can’t wait for the movie to come out next week.

So why blog about it here?

Suzanne Collins impresses me. She brilliantly created a character in Katniss Everdeen that is totally believable and fully fleshed out. I feel like I actually know Kat personally. How weird is that?

There is a lot to learn from writers who can do this well.

Creating a believable 3-dimensional character is one of the biggest challenges a writer faces. Am I right? Look at the people around you. Study their habits, the way they talk, how they move and react. Transfer your observations to the characters you’re writing about. Get into their heads. Imagine they are right there in the room with you. Believe me, this exercise really helps you to get out of the blah character syndrome. And readers never respond well to blah.

And please, please work on dialogue! Nothing makes a character come alive more than good dialogue. I used to hate it – thought I couldn’t do it. But with the assistance and encouragement of a very astute writing instructor, dialogue proved to be one of my writing strengths. It’s easy now. One trick I use is to read what I’ve written out loud. Doing this catches stilted speech, unnatural-sounding sentences and whatnot.

See, this wasn’t a book report.

I’m not sure what it was.

Just be off with you now and write something fun.



Filed under Characters, Writing