Attack of the Secondary Character – Round Robin Discussion

The beast roared again.

It knew Relo was there.  It had known the moment he’d walked into the cave, its heightened sense of taste and smell had alerted the beast to this trespass.  But Relo had anticipated this.  In thirty-four years as a Tapped Acolyte he’d hunted every species Nellis had to offer.  He knew each weakness, each strength, and when Nellissian people were threatened, he had no qualms about exploiting such knowledge.  This, after all, was not a matter of fair play but a matter of survival.

Me: Relo … huh … that’s an interesting name. Sounds kinda like “reload” which makes sense given the whole science fiction element, right?

Cat: meow?

Me: (Because I really am crazy enough to discuss these things with my pets) I know, I know. Relo … what? Relo Bomani? Sounds exotic and … you know … they’re on an alien planet and all … OK. So … the hero’s name is Relo Bomani.

…. approximately 700 words later ….

“I see I missed the action,” Seach said.  Most of his face was still in shadow but Relo knew the man was frowning.

“It was a surprisingly fast battle.” Relo looked down at his thigh and tried to determine how bad the wound was.

Seach walked to him, fixing the light on his wounded leg. “But not uneventful. Sit still.”

“Actually, I think I cut myself on its tail when I tried to get out of the way.” Relo took the phosphorous light from Seach and angled it so his friend could work.

Seach snorted his amusement as he crouched beside him, slipping the pack off his shoulder as he did so. “Serves you right for coming out here alone. I swear, sometimes I think you are trying to die.”

Me: … huh … I like this Seach fellow.

Cat: (just purrs cause by now he’s laying on my feet)

… 3000 words later …

Me: Ugh. I hate this book. I do not like the way it’s going. Relo is too … just too … strong. Not enough vulnerability in him. And he’s not funny.

Cat: (lots of meowing cause he’s crazy enough to think I can understand him)

Me: I know! Seach is so much more interesting. He makes me laugh. And he’s not afraid to fail. I totally love him.

Cat: (stops meowing because I’m scratching under his chin and he’s in kitty heaven)

Me: But you know, I’m not liking much of this plot either. Let’s change everything. We’ll make Seach the hero. Keep Jorry as the female lead. Relo can be the secondary.

Cat: (suddenly bops me on the hand because he’s had enough attention for one day but he’s too lazy to move out of hands reach)

… About a year later … 

“You know Jorry won’t drink that,” said a familiar voice.

Seach relaxed and glanced at Lieutenant Cavil as they continued through the D-Fac. Her black hair was shaved close and he could see little spirals of dark curls pressed up against her scalp. She grinned at him, her teeth bright white against the backdrop of her ebony skin. Cavil was beautiful in that hard way that military officers could be. It was like all the training and battle she had seen managed to sharpen her appeal and for half a second he forgot the danger they were in.

“Lieutenant Cavil,” he said with a smile. In his peripheral view he saw Jo look up from her computer. “It’s been a while. Decided you were ready to tell me your first name?”

“It’s been two years and eight months,” Cavil said and laughed. “I thought you would have lost interest by now.”

“Lost interest in a beauty like you?” Seach clucked his tongue and winked at her. “Never.”

… So … Have I ever had a secondary character steal a book from me?

Yes. Very much so. I revamped all of Tapped to accommodate a new hero in Seach and I have never regretted it. He’s funny and vulnerable and he really made the story for me. He even counterbalances Jorry as the lead female character precisely because of those traits.

Hop over to some of my fellow authors to see if they’ve ever dealt with a scene-stealing secondary character before!

Marci Baun
Anne Stenhouse
Fiona McGier
A.J. Maguire (YOU ARE HERE)
Beverley Bateman
Diane Bator
Margaret Fieland
Victoria Chatham
Connie Vines
Geeta Kakade
Rhobin Courtright

Book Review – Incantation by Annamaria Bazzi

The beginning of this book was a little rough. I had a hard time understanding what was going on, which might have been done on purpose since the character didn’t know what was going on either. As a reader this was a trifle frustrating since I prefer to know just a little bit more than the character on the page. After having finished the book, however, I understood a bit better and can appreciate the way the beginning was crafted.

I’m not one for giving spoilers so I’m having to refrain quite a bit on what I say here. The magic system was glossed over a bit, but given that the main character had no idea how to use magic it doesn’t detract from the story. After I got the hang of what was going on I really enjoyed the characters and the story being told. There was a moment near the end where I got very uncomfortable due to the general nastiness of the antagonist in the book, but the author managed to yank the story away from the precipice just in time. (Though that rescue did come via magic and the author risked Deus Ex Machina in that regard, but given that the whole story was based on wizards and magic it did make some sense.)

But my favorite part was the end. I was more than satisfied with the way the story concluded and with that in mind would have to give this book four out of five stars. (Or whatever symbol floats your boat. On Goodreads and Amazon I’ll be using stars so I might as well carry that over here.)

Book Blurb:

Magic is an illusion. It doesn’t really exist. Or does it?

A horrible car accident destroys Dolores Reynard’s life. But instead of waking up in a hospital bed, she awakens in a teenager’s body. Soon, she discovers she is at the heart of the murderous mystery surrounding the death of Mona, the young girl whose body she occupies. Caught between an evil greater than she ever imagined and a wizard who heals her tattered heart, she is forced to play a dangerous game of intrigue in the hopes of finding a way to return to her previous life.

Will magic be her ally, or will it lead to her demise once and for all.

Book Links:

Amazon / smashwords / B&N


Although born in the United States, Annamaria Bazzi spent a great deal of her childhood in Sicily, Italy, in a town called Sciacca. Italian was the language spoken at home. Therefore, she had no problems when she found herself growing up in a strange country. Upon returning to the states, she promised herself she would speak without an accent. She attended Wayne State University in Detroit Michigan, where she obtained her Bachelor of Science in Computers with a minor in Spanish.

Annamaria spent twenty years programming systems for large corporations, creating innovative solution, and addressing customer problems. During those years, she raised four daughters and one husband. Annamaria lives in Richmond Virginia with her small family where she now dedicates a good part of her day writing.

You can visit Annamaria at:



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Life Sans Two Fingers

As pointed out in my previous post, I made a stupid mistake with an avocado and managed to cut the nerves in two of my fingers. Given my chosen profession, this has been problematic.

While I can hand-write everything still fine (because I’m right-handed and all that), I cannot type with the speed and duration that I used to. The Doctor said it would be six weeks to three months before I started to feel anything in those fingers.

(Yes, apparently I was really, really aggressive with that stupid avocado. What can I say? I was hungry.)

The plans I had to start serializing Residual Haunting on June 1st obviously didn’t work out. I’ve decided instead to begin serialization in October. Which, let’s be honest, is likely a better choice given the theme of ghosts and what have you.

Editing has been slow-going.

And I do mean slooow going. However, I am beginning to make progress again. All those lovely words I have on paper are coming to the screen. I have, in short, managed to train myself into typing sans two fingers. It’s been difficult, but I’ve managed it.

Here’s what else I’ve managed to train myself to do without two fingers;

1) Wash my hair.

Believe it or not, this is a very difficult process when you’re missing two fingers. I no longer have the full-on scalp massage during the soaping process and must compensate with the other hand in order to make sure everything gets clean.

2) Drive.

Now, let me explain that.

The location of the puncture wound was in my palm, about three-quarters of an inch below the two offending fingers. For a very long time I found myself having to use the heel of my palm to drive. More often than not I drove with one hand, but turning the vehicle became slightly more difficult.

3) Wrestle with my son.

He’s a boy. He’s active. He likes to play. For the first little bit I had to learn to wrestle one-handed since … you know … bumping a puncture wound kinda hurts. Now it’s a lot easier. I just can’t feel those fingers and have to be certain nothing untoward happens to them mid-play.

4) Carrying in Groceries.

Mhmn. This was a pain. But I worked out a system where I looped several bags on the left forearm and went from there.

5) … Type.

I already said it but it can be said again. This was the real kicker, after all. Learning to type without two fingers was quite difficult. There were moments where this really horrible ache would set in and I would have to sit back for a minute or two. That ache is mostly gone now, which is why I’m able to start working again.

So! This is me … halfway through 2014 and way behind on all my writing deadlines. But I think with a little determination and a couple dozen sleepless nights I might catch up again.

Deviation and Dead Magic will both be released in August. Persona still has a tentative release date of December 2nd, though for marketing purposes and what have you I might delay that release in 2015. (Hey, it’s my first self-published. I get to pick the time-frame.)

Usurper is in the middle of the editing process. Sorry, Trenna fans, you’re gonna have to wait a little bit longer.

And Tapped … Oh, my. Tapped is nearly finished with this latest round of edits. Once that is done, I’m sending it out on submission.

Yes, good old fashion submission. Because I love rejection. It’s like my favorite thing in the whole world and I can’t get enough of it.

Writing the Unpopular

Persona is almost finished. In fact, I’ve got approximately two chapters left to write. This is three chapters more than I had outlined, but something happened near the end that surprised me and, now that I look at it, really makes sense for the story. 

It’s always fun when things work out this way. It means my subconscious brain probably knew this was coming and it took a while for my conscious self to recognize it.

Anyway, I’ve mentioned before that Autumn tends to spur me into creative-mode. I get new ideas for different stories, or better ideas for current projects, and I start to have a crap-ton of fun. September through December tend to be my happiest months because I am in the middle of this surge of creativity.

I don’t know why, I don’t know how, I just know it works.

And this year, having tackled my first historical fiction with Persona (heavy on the emphasis with fiction) I have come up with a new project dealing with the Civil War.

Well, the Civil War and the frontier. The two tend to go hand in hand since soldiers who fought in the war and survived would head West out of some instinct to get as far away from the battlefield as possible.

This will be challenging on several fronts. First of all, I really don’t know much about the Civil War. I’ve picked up some documentaries to help remember what I was taught in history class and, funnily enough, have been enjoying them whenever I have a minute between homework and housework and the kiddo.

Secondly, Dan Wells joked about the fact that nobody reads Westerns anymore. (He’s one of the authors on Writing Excuses, a podcast I sincerely hope every author listens to.) Given that this project would eventually find its way into the West I had to cringe a bit. But, I’d rather write a book that I would love to read than write a book based on trends.

Even if that trend is several years long.

No, really. I checked out the Western shelf in Hastings to discover it was drastically smaller than every other section and had all of five prominent authors on it — including Louis L’Amour.

And I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised by this since I’ve never actually read a Western myself. I watched Lonesome Dove when I was a kid, and High Noon in school, but I can’t say I’ve actually picked up a book that followed gunslingers and the like.

I did read a truly terrible romance novel based in the Old West. I won’t name the author or anything, but I will say that I scoffed through the first fifty pages and then stopped reading.

So I am faced with a new challenge here. I love the story concept and the character — I always start with a character and this one is named Alex Huntly — and I’ve wanted to write something that dealt with the West and pioneers since I was in High  School. But the truth is that it probably won’t find a home with a publisher.

My gut instinct is to write it anyway. I imagine a lot of people would tell me it is a waste of time, but then I have to examine why I write in the first place. And the truth is, I don’t write to please other people. I write the story in front of me because it’s the story that inspires me; be it fantasy, science fiction, historical fiction or, Heaven help me, a Western.

So! As soon as Persona is done I’ll start the groundwork on this new novel. If only three people in the world read it then that’s fine.

On a side note, I’ll be using NaNoWriMo to complete the last 15,000 words of Usurper. Trenna fans will be happy to know that this third book in the Sedition series should be out next year, barring any complications with the publisher.


Endings and Hate Therapy

Carver Edlund said it best in Supernatural; “Endings are impossible.”

You have to tie everything up, bring all of the characters into a place of resolution and no matter what you do it will always feel like you missed something. In fact, on the next few edits it’s very likely that you’ll find one or two subplots that never got resolved.

Don’t panic. It happens. That’s what editing is for, after all.

My first published book Sedition went through four different endings. Witch-Born had three and Deviation (due to release in 2014) had five. That’s a lot of re-writing and re-plotting. It was frustrating and I went through weeks of what I like to call my “hate therapy.”

Basically, “hate therapy” is when I become disgusted with everything I’ve written. From what I understand every writer has this problem at some point. We all come to a place where we stare at our work and can find nothing salvageable about it.

The inner critic comes out in full force, identifying poorly worded sentences, cliché’s we hadn’t noticed before, and weak characters that suddenly remind us of tin soldiers. You know, identical soldiers made of tin with no inner workings, no motivation, and no reason to exist.

By now you’re wondering why I call this “therapy.” There doesn’t seem to be anything therapeutic about loathing your own work.

I learned a couple years ago to embrace this natural period of a writer’s life. When I’m in the middle of “hate therapy” I know I am being too hard on myself and, at the same time, am able to identify some very important things.

Like tin soldiers running rampant on the page.

But instead of dwelling on how bad it is I embrace it as a challenge to fix those things I’ve done wrong.  That’s when it becomes therapy. When I turn all that angst into a productive outlet I almost always find myself enjoying the work again.

Persona is coming near to its ending. For those following it online you’re still in chapter fourteen, but I am in the middle of chapter eighteen. (By the way, I dislike chapter fourteen and will be editing it.)

I’ve always had a particular place in mind for Persona’s ending. In fact, I have stubbornly re-worked and worked again and altered my outline in order to preserve this ending. Timelines are crazy hard to keep in check when writing fiction, especially if you’re dealing with something as well documented as World War II.

But about a week ago I had a eureka moment and figured out how my characters get from point A to point B (the ending) without screwing anything up. The timeline is mostly preserved. The actions make sense. More importantly, this ending leaves a profound impact on the characters and, hopefully, the reader.

Persona and Saboteur are the only two books I’ve written where I knew the ending before I got there. To be honest, I don’t know if this is a good or bad thing. Knowing the ending still gives me a struggle because I find myself working harder to make sure the entire book deserves the ending that I’ve planned.

I still have to go through “hate therapy”, it just happens earlier on in the book. But at least I don’t have to re-write several scenes like I did with Sedition, Witch-Born and Deviation.

So … Yes. Endings are impossible. They’re heartbreaking, irritating, and hard work but if we do it right then it’s all worth it.



Round Robin – How I Unwind

This month we’re talking about what we do to unwind in our Round Robin!  Which is really a fun question to answer because I do all sorts of things to refresh my creative mind.

At the risk of sounding like a nerd … Well, I am a nerd, so I guess there’s no hiding it … I totally play Star Trek Online.  This game is immensely helpful when I need to get into the science fiction groove without actually writing.  (Though the writer in me has to question some of the things they make us do there.  Such as the control panel for a shield device sitting right next to the shield you want to take down.  I mean … smart money is on putting the control panel on the inside of the shielded area so the enemy can’t get in.)

I tried playing Star Wars Republic but it just didn’t have the same feel to it, you know?

When I’m in the middle of a fantasy novel and I need to unwind, I’ll play Dungeon Siege or Arcanum, depending on the level of my frustration.

Oh!  And I have a ton of Dungeons & Dragon’s manuals that I’ll flip through for ideas.  The pictures alone set my creative mind to buzzing.  (I know, my nerd-factor just rose by about ten notches, didn’t it?)

I go to the gym every other day — when my car is working — or enjoy time with my son at the park, but I don’t really consider those “unwind” moments.  Jogging is for my health and time with my son is for my soul.

Still, I have noticed that my writing is clearer and my creative muse more willing to get to business when I’ve kept my exercise schedule and had time with my son.

And, of course, there is the ever-ready movie to watch or book to read.  But I tend to view movies and books as investments since I’m always learning new and better ways to tell a story through them.

That’s it!  Those are the things I like to do when I need to step back and relax.  Thank you for joining me and I’d like to encourage you to take a look at what author Ginger Simpson does to unwind as the Round Robin continues.  Here’s her link!

Fact vs. Fiction – Chapter Four (Persona)

All right!  Just a quick heads up for anyone who doesn’t know what this is about … My WWII story Persona is being serialized and posted online for free via Wattpad and its story blog.

Because this is historical fiction I’ve had to do quite a bit of research to help me wade through it.  I know I’ve only touched the surface of what I should know about that time period, but in the meantime this is what I’ve got so far.

Fact vs. Fiction – Chapter Four

Fact: Vernacular … you’ll notice VanBuren called Megan Frauline Vonclese in Chapter Three, but here in Chapter Four I’ve dropped it to call her “Miss Vonclese”.  I did that on purpose.  As I’m writing primarily for an English-speaking audience — I speak English, I write in English, I understand things in English — I thought it best to help equate what ‘Frauline’ means roughly in … you guessed it … English.

Way back in Chapter Two I used the word “Nein” as well, because I wanted to make it clear who was plucking her out of the ocean.  I use German sporadically throughout the book but don’t want to frustrate readers with too much of it. (Remember, I’ve got a primarily English-speaking audience.)

Fiction:  I don’t go into too much detail with the port authority and everything.  This is for two reasons; one, I’m really not familiar with how the Nazi party would have handled this particular situation; and two, VanBuren is rich enough to circumvent the normal processes anyway.

However, it’s safe to say that if Megan were a real person and had somehow been rescued by a German vessel in the middle of WWII, she would not have been show this much lenience.  She’d likely be sent to a camp somewhere to wait out the war.  I acknowledge this and then point emphatically at the word “fiction”, asking for … well … some suspension of disbelief.

Fact:  Frostbite!  This was actually researched for Chapter’s 3 & 4 due to Megan’s lengthy stay in the water.  I learned that, in the event of frostbite, you actually have to keep appendages (such as Megan’s poor feet) in water and slowly acclimate them to warmth over a period of time.

Also, those parts of the body that have suffered frostbite cannot be used until they are completely healed.  (Which explains why Megan was in bed for all of Chapter Three.)

Having never suffered frostbite myself, I am only imagining that two to three weeks after the injury Megan would still feel some tenderness on her rescue toes.  Especially given she hasn’t actually been allowed to walk for much of that time while the feet were healing.

Fiction:  The bakery scene.  Honestly, I’m not sure how good Wilhelmshaven looked after the 1941 bombing of the port town.  I’m not certain they would have kept a bakery open in such a targeted area during the war.

But I needed a place for Megan to meet up with Schuler.  It’s possible that I could alter this scene in a future revision to show Megan and VanBuren making their way to the train depot instead.

Author’s Note:  Now that I look at it, the depot does seem like a better place to send her.  I will likely change it.