Peculiar Characters

People are peculiar. Characters should be too. Vanilla ice cream is arguably wonderful, but you won’t find many readers willing to argue that books need more vanilla—as in plain—characters.

We asked many authors who write on the clean end of the spectrum to tell us about a peculiarity of one of their characters, either in a current work-in-progress or a published work. Since we realize authors are often extremely busy people, we’re especially appreciative of those who were able to—and did—respond.

(Click an author’s name or book link for more.)

Jessica Marie Holt – Oh, goodness, all of my characters are peculiar. But Dottie Dixon from Sunlight and Shadows is one of my very favorites. The story is set in 1871. Dottie is a sturdy, no-nonsense, buxom kind of woman, but she has an absolute weakness for fashion and decorating—the more lavish and ridiculous, the better. She reads the fashion and home décor mags of the day, and she goes around in fancy brocade dresses with huge bustles and a thousand buttons. The best thing about her is her hats—she wears these elaborate hats with tall, trailing feathers, and you always know when she’s upset because the feathers start trembling. She’s also a woman of few words, and she has an intriguing and sometimes shady past that only reveals itself in tidbits. In a way, I feel like she represents the dichotomy of the Victorian era; austere and no-nonsense, but also opulent and hopelessly over-the-top.

Jessica L. Elliott – My favorite part of writing is discovering all of my characters’ peculiarities. In my published book Operation: Romance, Stacie is a teenager who always writes texts out with proper spelling and punctuation. She can’t stand text-speak, which can drive her crazy since that’s all the handsome football player she’s working with uses. This part of her personality just cracks me up because most teens have no problem with texting shorthand. But, Stacie is not your average teen.

Ruth O’Neil – I actually keep a notebook in my purse as weird/quirky/strange characters seem to be drawn to me. I’ll be out in public and someone feels it necessary to tell me their life’s story—everything I never wanted to know. Little do they know I’m taking mental notes and will record things ASAP. I think one of the favorite characters I “created” was Professor Yates in Come Eat at My Table. She is a conglomerate of several people I know personally. She is the epitome of the absent-minded professor. Her outfits are eccentric, complete with huge, coordinating hats. She might wobble on the sane/insane line, but her heart is true. She loves my MC like no one else but her father did.

Linda Ellen – In my book A Bride for Finn, one of my side characters is an incessant talker. I named her Elvira. She’s based on one of my sister-in-laws, lol. She talks non-stop, you can’t get a word in edge-wise, and her thoughts bounce from one subject to another. Her scenes are hilarious.

Lea Carter – Fairies live for several thousand years. It’s typical to find great-great-grandparents playing sports with their descendants, taking adventure vacations, and just generally living life to the fullest.
Princess Arabella, on the other hand, views life through a lens colored by early tragedy. Her younger sister died doing something quite mundane, heightening Arabella’s awareness of how fragile fairies truly are. While other parents are pushing their 40 year old children to learn to fly, she’s finding whatever excuse she can to keep her children close to home. Where it’s safe.
She fights her fears daily, with the staunch support of her husband and family, but cringes each time life puts those she loves in danger.
[Though she’s not the main character, Arabella has a supporting role in Silver Majesty and Silver Verity.]

Arthur Daigle – Mr. Niff the goblin is convinced he’s a hero, and is the first person to run into danger. It doesn’t matter if there’s no way to win the fight, or if there’s even a real threat, he’s going in with without regard to his own safety. His bravery has resulted in several spectacular acts of heroism, and a nearly endless stream of lawsuits from outraged property owners, insurance salesmen, and totally innocent passersby.
[Mr. Niff and his heroic acts are in William Bradshaw, King of the Goblins.]

Laurean Brooks – Aunt Em is a quirky older lady, (my hero’s aunt), in my Western mail order bride story, Not What He Ordered. She speaks her mind and is devious in a helpful way. Hero (Josh) does not know the ad he placed for Aunt Em was not for house help, but for a bride for him. Then when Aunt Em swears the prospective bride (heroine Carrie) to secrecy, Carrie is caught between a rock and a hard place. To tell or not to tell. But Carrie has secrets of her own.

‘We’ even asked the editor.

Earl Chinnici – Not counting that one peculiar character in my debut nearly-a-memoir I wrote as I quit smoking, I suppose my most peculiar character so far is Rita, a boisterous woman of Peurto Rican heritage in one of my current works-in-progress. She speaks and drives very fast. I believe she might be one of Atlanta, Georgia’s worst drivers. Rita comes across as borderline obnoxious at first but she’s really just having a rough time navigating life. That pretty well sums up what I know about her personality so far. Soon after we met, we each faced our own traumatic events so our relationship has been on hold a while. Maybe we’ll get a chance to reconnect someday soon.

Middle

Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Middle. [More info]

Standing in the middle of the road is very dangerous; you get knocked down by the traffic from both sides. ~ Margaret Thatcher

Tomorrow

Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Tomorrow. [More info]

“The trouble is, you think you have time
You think tomorrow’s always coming down the line
Then one day you wake up and you find
The trouble is, you thought you had time”
~ Dean Brody “Time”

Editor’s Challenge: Pick one of those “special cigarettes,” such as the one you always smoke immediately after breakfast or lunch, and skip it tomorrow. Do not smoke that one cigarette. Tell yourself you will have to wait a specific amount of time after that special event before you ignite a cigarette. What is so special about a cigarette anyway?

Today

Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Today. [More info]

“For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’ And whenever the answer has been ‘No’ for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.” ~ Steve Jobs

Many todays have passed since February 28, 2013, when I watched and photographed that gorgeous sunset, some pleasant and fun and some delightfully uneventful. But then there were those todays that were frightening and those todays that were tragic… and those todays that were both frightening and tragic … some day, I’d like to share so much more with you, but there isn’t time to take you there today. Let’s make the most of this today.

Yesterday

Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Yesterday. [More info] Because it is a collaborative article, it will likely be larger tomorrow than it is today. I hope this doesn’t confuse the authors. You see, tomorrow’s theme is today and Tuesday’s theme is tomorrow, but today’s theme is yesterday. When I first mentioned today’s theme to author Jessica Marie Holt she replied, “I only use this word in dialogue, and apparently it doesn’t come up often! But, tomorrow is another day!” Yes it is, Jessica. Tomorrow is today.

“I do not think much of a man who is not wiser today than he was yesterday.” ~ Abraham Lincoln

We’re scouting for clean content today based on the theme, especially lines from author’s current works-in-progress. We’ll update this page throughout the day. Be sure to check back.

Keys to Life

By Earl Chinnici

Have you ever wondered how transformed your life could be if one small detail of your past had happened a little differently? It seems everyone occasionally entertains such thoughts. I suppose it is human nature. And isn’t it funny that we often blindly envision how life could be better, not considering how it could be worse? Sometimes, however, our eyes are forced wide open—even if only for a moment. What you are about to read is my unadulterated recollection of one such time. Where I was going I cannot recall, but the trip was unforgettable.

Checking my watch to verify I was running late, I rushed to grab my keys from a hook on the wall just inside the front door of my home. Apparently, I was in too much of a hurry. I fumbled and gravity took over. “ Great, ” I thought, “what’s two seconds when I’m already running late?” I knelt to retrieve the keys then persevered, locking the door behind me. The next six and a half miles of my journey were utterly uneventful.

“Please turn green,” I said aloud as I approached the first of two busy intersections between my home and my destination. Nearly stopping about fifteen feet short of the crosswalk, I was glad to see the traffic signal mercifully comply. As I accelerated and started through the intersection, a four-door sedan from days gone by passed immediately in front of me like a whirlwind, missing my car by mere inches. Shocked and trembling, I stared at the green light I had abruptly stopped under as my mind replayed the dropped keys and the close encounter. A loud and persistent horn soon sounded behind me, urging me to get it in gear. Wiser and more cautiously, I continued along my path. — Life isn’t a race, you see. You don’t need to be in a hurry to cross the finish line.

Connect with the author: Earl Chinnici

Website: https://CleanWIP.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/e.chinnici
Twitter: https://twitter.com/earlshelpdesk
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Earl-Chinnici/e/B00L894LL6

Clean Works-in-Progress

Part One of Many

We asked fifty authors who write on the clean end of the spectrum to tell us about one of their current works-in-progress. Since we realize authors are often extremely busy people, we’re especially appreciative of those who were able to—and did—respond. We hope you’ll keep us informed as these manuscripts become new releases.

(Click an author’s name for more.)

Arthur Daigle – I’m working on Goblin Stories 2, a collection of interlocking shortchanged stories. My goblins face off against a cabal of wizards and scholars that seeks to reveal all secrets, and the unending damage caused by their quest.

Lea Doué – Geese and Gold (Fairytale Dragon Riders) features a young woman on a quest to rescue her brother from trolls, with help from a golden goose and a mushroom-loving dragon.

Irene Onorato – My WIP is titled The Preacher and the Shopkeeper and will kick off a clean romance series which I’m calling Unlikely Love.
My hero accepts a pastorship at a church only to find there is no congregation whatsoever. A chance meeting with a homeless man leads him to take up a challenge – to live “tent city” for two weeks, and see if he can make a difference there.
The heroine, a local thrift shop owner, thinks he’s crazy. She knows he’s throwing himself into a dangerous situation, and can only hope he survives to tell the tale.

Joanna A. McKethan – I am working on the next in my series featuring the heroine Kenna Alford or as she is in this book Kenna Campbell. She along with her husband Lane to whom she is a distant cousin are in search of their personal legacy, connected to and caught up in an international secret society’s agenda, hounded by stalkers who mean them harm. Their epic struggle spans two continents, giving the lie for all time to the adage, ‘what you don’t know can’t hurt you.’
This WIP is The Tarbert Legacy.

Ruth O’Neil – I just finished final edits on my WIP at 10:30 last night! Yay! (Now on to betas) Still working on the title. I have a couple swimming around in my head, but none are screaming, “Me! Me! Me!”
It is about a group of friends who stick together through thick and thin. They meet for lunch once a month, but are always there for each other, especially when prayer is needed.

Charmain Zimmerman Brackett – I’m finishing up the fifth in my cozy mystery series set in my hometown of Augusta, Ga. it’s part of the Grace’s Augusta Mystery Series. My protagonist is a florist who finds herself in the middle of another murder—or two?

Debbie Brown – Working on wrapping up the last installment in my Amethyst Eyes trilogy… looking at final edits in the coming weeks.

Jessica Marie Holt – I have several works in progress, including a Christmas short story, but right now, I am working on my second Granny Pact novel. June and Ellie–grannies, neighbors, and best friends– have taken their meddling to the next level. They have their sights set on Ace and Maddie, two do-gooders who are perfect for one another. Unfortunately, Maddie’s meddling mom has other ideas. . .

Jessica L. Elliott – My current WIP is Of Bows and Cinnamon, the third book in my Christmas romance series, Fairy Matched. Uptight theater director Landon Brown has to find a girlfriend before his mother comes, or else. Time is limited, and he manages to convince Elena Mendoza to take on the role just long enough to get his mother off his back. If only he can keep his heart out of the equation.

Richard Houston – My current WIP is about a guy, Jake Martin, and his dog who seem to get involved in solving murders. He is drawn into yet another mystery when he finds a diary written by a teller who witnessed a bank robbery and murder 35 years ago. Her false testimony had sent an innocent man to the gas chamber. Jake gets involved when his seventy-year-old friend and neighbor, Bonnie Jones, asks for his help because the person who was executed was the husband of a friend. His current investigation gets complicated when his eighteen-year-old daughter from his first marriage shows up because she isn’t sure what she wants to do with her life and doesn’t like Jake’s current girlfriend, Kelly Brown, a sheriff deputy.
Bad things start to happen after Jake starts looking into the old bank robbery. First, Fred, his golden retriever, and best friend is dognapped; then a string of arsons and dead bodies begin to pile up all while he tries to deal with the conflict between his daughter and Kelly.
Just when Jake thinks he’s solved the crimes, Kelly gets news from her forensics team that Jake’s suspect couldn’t have done it because he was dead at the time of the latest murders. Kelly is now in trouble with her boss, the sheriff, and begs Jake to butt out.
Will Jake break his promise to Bonnie and quit investigating? Of course not, but you will have to read the book to see how he manages to solve the crimes and deal with his daughter’s problems, without losing his girlfriend.
This is the seventh book in my bestselling Books to Die For series. The working title is A Diary to Die For. Every one of the books in this series has been at the top of one or more Amazon list. The fourth book was on the USA Today Bestseller list twice and number one overall on Barnes and Noble’s Nook. Girl on the Train was number two.

Frank Luke – Just finishing up JOSHUA’S PAWN SHOP. It tells seven tales of people who need a change and find it at a run-down pawn shop with a peculiar owner. Each customer is given the chance to change his future by embracing either a cardinal virtue or heavenly grace. From Fort Worth, Dallas, Cambridge, to Arkham, the shop shows up in the strangest places.
The tales run from superhero (“To He Who Overcomes”), to surreal (“The Art of Living”), to time travel (“Blood Ties”), to supernatural horror (“Fun and Games”), the heroes and heroines find out what they are made of and how to be more than they thought possible.

Lea Carter – I’m just starting books 8.5 and 9 of my fairy series, Silver Sagas.
In Fission (book 8.5) poor young Rolf struggles to shape the history he’s sworn to record, while enduring yet another burgeoning romance between the main “adults” in his life.
In Fusion (book 9), Prince Isaac and Lady Cassidy face the grave challenge of preparing for a massive influx of released political prisoners after the spring thaw. Finding time to finish falling in love may prove impossible!

Laura Hile – My current WIP is SO THIS IS LOVE, a joyride of a Regency that brings whirlwind romance and happily-ever-after to Jane Austen’s staid-and-practical Charlotte Lucas.
Because generations of readers have never quite believed Charlotte’s famous statement: “I am not a romantic.”
Of course she is.
No one could be so desperate as to marry that arrogant bounder, Mr. Collins. Not even undemanding, unromantic Charlotte.
Ah, but what if?
What if, before the wedding, Collins crosses the line and gets handsy
What if something in Charlotte snaps? What if she suddenly breaks the engagement and is sent to live with an aunt and uncle?
What if this sets into motion an unexpected future, one that includes danger, taking risks, and falling desperately in love?
Because after a girl kicks a creep like Collins to the curb, doesn’t she deserve to encounter a swashbuckling hero?

‘We’ even asked the editor.

Earl Chinnici – One of my works-in-progress is Skin Cancer, Black Salve, and Me, a disgusting and informative mini-memoir about how I removed three skin cancers from my arm using the herbaceous perennial Sanguinaria canadensis (bloodroot). I was nearing completion of the manuscript when a tornado spun up by Hurricane Irma destroyed my home—around me. I… I have no excuse. I need to get back to work.

“So, what do you do for a living?”

By Irene Onorato

Photo: Author Irene Onoroto before retiring from her position as radiation protection technician at Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station

“So, what do you do for a living?”

The question seems to be a kick-starter for dialogue when meeting someone for the first time. The awkwardness of the moment melts when you have something, anything, to talk about.

Recently, at a social gathering, I was intrigued by a man who said he was a retired US Air Force fighter pilot. His Viet Nam era Top Gun stories (yes, really) had me and a small gathering of others riveted to his every word. By far, he’d had the most interesting career of anyone in the room. None of us had ever flown at supersonic speeds, and not a single person in the room had ever had a missile fired at them.

“So, what do you do for a living?” someone asked me later that evening.

I told them I was retired, left out the details of my career, and said, “And now I’m pursuing a career as a writer of romance novels.”

Amazingly enough, the person didn’t squeeze a social yawn out of her eyeballs and walk away. Instead, her eyes widened and she said, “Really? I’ve always wanted to write a book.”

I’m meeting more and more people with the same dream. We want to leave an indelible mark on the fabric of time. Something to say, I was here. Here are my thoughts. My hopes, my dreams, the things I think about.

If you’re one of those people who would tell me you’ve always wanted to write a book, here’s my advice: Write. That. Book. Get your thoughts down on paper or into the computer and save every jot and tittle. Worry about what you’re going to do with your masterpiece later.

Never give up on your dreams. Ever.

Connect with the author: Irene Onorato

Website/Blog: https://ireneonorato.com/blog
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorIreneOnorato
Twitter: https://twitter.com/IreneOnorato
Amazon: https://amazon.com/author/ireneonorato

CleanWIP Magazine has obtained from the author non-exclusive right to publish or republish this content. The author retains copyright.

A Book’s Success is Like Surfing

By Laura Hile

Years of practice (and failure) built this surfer’s graceful skill.
Photo by Miguel Navaza (CC / Flickr)

I’ve released a new book, and the process kind of reminds me of surfing. Okay, body surfing. I was never brave enough–or coordinated enough!–to try it with a board. Tanning on the beach? Forget that. Why lie in the sun when you can spend the afternoon catching waves? Many summer days at Santa Monica and Malibu taught me a thing or two.

Surfing is about position, skill, and timing. This means hours in the water, being ready, watching wave after wave. Learning how to know a promising wave from a dud. Being willing to swim like crazy to catch the awesome one. You can’t be lazy as a surfer.

Position would be the intriguing story premise and the cover. These are what put me in the water, and each one represents a risk. I wasn’t sure how the ‘magical reality’ element of the body swap would fly. And that sweet cover was spendy–but worth every cent.

Skill? I’ve been writing for 17 years. If Darcy By Any Other Name is an instant success, know that I’ve been rolled under by plenty of waves. (Yeah, the wipeout thing.) I’ve learned to escape the worst by diving under, but multiple thousands of clunky words lie at my back. Then too, I teach fiction writing to high school students. What I’ve learned in helping them improve is a lot.

And timing is about being in the right place at the right moment. There are more Austen readers now than ever before. No readers, no wave!

Photo by Swell Surf Camp (CC / Flickr)

Surfing, like writing, only appears solitary. The photo at the top of this page shows a lone surfer, but I’m betting he wasn’t the only one in the water that day. Bobbing heads beyond the line of surf are not attractive, so they’re cropped out. Deal is, no one surfs alone. No one writes a book alone–or should.

The fellowship of like minds is crucial. As with surfing, skills are developed alone but there is safety in companionship. In the water and out, surfers hang together and talk. If writing greats C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien needed a support group, so do I.

Sales numbers continue to roll in, and not because of me. News about Darcy is being spread by people like you, my social media friends. A hectic school schedule has allowed me little time to compose ads or tweet or anything. I’ve put up a few posts on Facebook, and you have been sharing them. I am beyond grateful.

Connect with the author: Laura Hile

Website/Blog: https://laurahile.wordpress.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/LauraHile
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LauraHileAuthor
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Laura-Hile/e/B003UT6VDS

CleanWIP Magazine has obtained from the author non-exclusive right to publish or republish this content. The author retains copyright.


Raisin Cookies, Holidays, and Other Taboos

By Earl Chinnici, owner / operator of CleanWIP Magazine.

I’m a peculiar person and I suspect you are too. I guess that’s okay. If you were like me or I was like you and everyone else was like us, things could get monotonous in a hurry. Trouble is, several of my peculiarities likely have been named and a strange tone of voice applied each time they are mentioned in public. I don’t know, nor do I want to know, those names.

If you’ve spent any time at all on Twitter, I’m sure you’ve seen plenty of users announce in their bios that RTs ≠ endorsements. Sometimes, a user will even spell it out for the viewer, retweets do not equal endorsements. It’s like, make no mistake, since these people were so kind recently when they retweeted my new release apocalyptic steampunk romantic comedy, I’m letting them know I appreciate it by retweeting their raisin cookie recipe—even though I personally despise raisin cookies. And some people feel this way about holidays and some feel this way about opossums and some feel this way about cats, and some feel this way about caterpillars, and if you pick any item that can be named and ask around about it, somebody somewhere feels the same way about it too. But this magazine isn’t about them and ultimately, it isn’t about me either. It is about the authors who market their books as clean and the readers who love them.

Reading is paramount. Even though I can’t always feel great about every book or teaser we include here, I can feel great about promoting literacy. Perhaps somebody needs to read Caterpillars in Space Eating Raisin Cookies to pave the way for Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

Bottom line: I intend to and will put forth a great effort to include in CleanWIP Magazine a wide variety of the things I know readers love, even though the likely-named peculiarities within me will certainly at times cause me great anxiety about some of the things I share here.

In addition, some materials for this site are submitted by others. I don’t necessarily share their opinions and they don’t necessarily endorse this site, although some will. Some guests may also write material which is not suitable for all ages. Please use discretion when following links.

So authors, bring on those raisin cookies, holidays, and other taboos! So long as you feel confident about marketing your writing as clean and your works are respectful of others, join in the #CleanWIP hashtag game for authors and if you’re also interested in enjoying the benefits of an ‘open door’ of communication regarding special events and promotions, your book deals, new releases and newest news, join the CleanWIP Facebook author group as well.

By all means, feel free to share this article with others. After all, retweets do not equal endorsements.

Early Contributors

A heartfelt thank you from CleanWIP Magazine owner/operator Earl Chinnici.

When I decided to announce my desire to host the #CleanWIP author hashtag game, I had already been helping to administrate a Facebook group of around 3500 awesome authors of clean fiction for more than a couple years. Committing to the extra time involved worried me some, but I felt the game would help these authors, many of whom had become friends, to gain exposure and become even stronger authors through the sentence-level scrutiny of a publicly displayed author hashtag game. I also figured my own Twitter profile could stand the extra traffic.

While I contemplated the logistics of hosting such a game, a whirlwind unfolded before my eyes—right there in the ‘Trends’ section—and before I gave it a second thought, I clicked on the #1 spot.

It would be easy for me to say I wish I hadn’t, but it would not be truthful to say that now that I’ve taken time to consider all things. Though my spirit was once again troubled and my mind weary from the nearly constant vitriol of hatred the ‘trends’ section seems to promote, it was time to turn the page. It was apparent at that moment. A new chapter awaits.

Thank you to everyone who has already shown interest in CleanWIP Magazine, the #CleanWIP hashtag game, and the CleanWIP Facebook author group that helps tie everything together under one figurative roof. I greatly appreciate the continued and the newly found support. I look forward to showcasing examples of your clean content here and presenting it to readers who are most likely to love it.

Authors are People Too

Part One of Many

Ever read an amazing book and wonder how any human being could possibly be not only that creative, but also arrange all those words so perfectly? The reality is, authors enlist the help of many special people to fine tune their books so the readers have a great reading experience. (I’m not sure I’m supposed to let that cat out of the figurative bag, but I plan to share far greater enlightenment than that here so we’ll have to wait a while and see if I have any friends remaining in the world of authors or if I should perhaps go back to well drilling or performing oil changes or… I guess this has become an impromptu example of why authors need many special people to work along side them, at times come behind them even, and point out their wordiness, find the typos, and help resolve each misdirection, to keep authors—who tend to love words to a fault at times—from rambling.)

Authors are people too. Their cars break down.

They procrastinate about housework.

They get wrapped up in debates with family and friends.

(Some things don’t really need an example now, do they?)

They enjoy the little things.

And the not so little things.

They love their pets (and often ridicule them on social media).

Yes. Authors are people too. A lot like you and a lot like me. So next time you read an amazing book and wonder how any human being could possibly be not only that creative, but also arrange all those words so perfectly, I hope you’ll take the time to make someone’s day by posting a five star heartfelt and spoiler-free review and, whenever possible, reach out on social media to thank the author.

WARNING: Great Content Ahead

Readers, we’re just getting this party started so you will notice a little confusion regarding the #CleanWIP and #CleanWIPtheme hashtag use in the tweets below. Search for #CleanWIP across the social networks to find content from authors who want you to know they market their books as ‘clean’ and are willing to share sneak peeks of their current works-in-progress.

(Note for authors: #CleanWIPtheme existed only to help you find the theme each day. It was a bad idea. To help circumvent further confusion, we’ll use ‘#CleanWIP theme’ instead on our public social media posts. Thanks for joining us!)

Let’s meet some of the authors who are joining in the #CleanWIP fun. This is just a quick and haphazard example of the kind of great content you can expect here at CleanWIP Magazine.