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.

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


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.