ICYMI: Craft Quest talks Character Building

If you want to learn more about the best ways to build a character, as well as hear an inordinate amount of cinnamon roll related discussion, check out the YouTube Live panel I participated in on Saturday on Craft Quest’s channel. The archived version is currently available. Craft Quest was created by Maria Tureaud and Ari Augustine, and Megan Manzano and I had a great time chatting with them. Tune in below.

Fancasting The Order of the Key

In August, I participated in an online event for Kyra Dune’s release of her latest YA Fantasy novel, Elfblood. As those events go, I played a game with attendees. For this specific game, I decided I would throw out some character description and let other people cast the characters for my upcoming novel, The Order of the Key. I promised to post the best results here, so here we are (Also, read to the end for a quick publishing update)!

Jacklyn Madison: Jacklyn is 18 years old with dark curly hair, hazel eyes, and an athletic build. She’s kind and loving, but she’s got a sarcastic streak, quite a bit of pride, and a big mouth that always seems to get her into trouble. She starts out a little naive but she becomes stronger the more she learns in her time at the Estate. She’s tough, a fighter, but gentle…even killing monsters leaves her feeling guilty.

The submissions for Jacklyn, some of them seemed far too innocent. Some of them seemed far too sexual. To me, the best entries skated the middle of the road between sweet and sexy. 

If you wanted known actresses, you could go with one of these two.

Belinda Clemons suggested Pretty Little Liars star, Lucy Hale. I could totally see this!

Belinda Clemons

Another good one? Lori White Lazzara suggested ex-Disney star and musician Demi Lovato.

Lori White Lazzara 4

If we’re looking at a relative unknown, Lori White Lazzara came up with another option.

Lori White Lazzara 3

I HAVE NO IDEA WHO SHE IS! Her picture is all over the place on hair styling websites and she’s gorgeous, but I don’t know who she is. So…if anyone does, let me know. 🙂

Kyp Franklin: Kyp was born a leader. He’s incredibly intelligent and driven, but he’s emotionally closed, somewhat hard to read. Known for his complex relationship with the truth, Kyp has a one-track mind. He has every intention of turning the current mission of The Order upside-down. Dark-haired, dark-eyed, brooding and attractive, Kyp would probably be the last person in the world to even consider his own appearance…unless he can use it to manipulate his way into a better position to meet his goals.

MANY gorgeous guys were submitted for Kyp, but all of them…while fun to look at…scanned a little too old for Kyp, and…I hesitate to say this, a little too beefcake.

Personally, I’ve never had a casting idea for Jacks. But I have had one for Kyp. Kevin Zegers of The Mortal Instruments would be my choice…although the eyes are wrong. The rest, however, are so perfect for Kyp, I almost made his eyes blue. No, not really.

600full-kevin-zegers tumblr_mdo0mzEmdS1rgdltlo1_500 tumblr_mfx3109ioW1rak8qko1_400

I’ve written about this before. I had no idea who this guy was when I dreamed Kyp up, but I saw him and was blown away by how close he was to my mental image of him.

Lavinia Franklin: Lavinia is refined and cold. She has a temper, but is far more the type to cut you with her words through gritted teeth, or wait until later, so she can destroy you when nobody is watching. Her brutal side is mostly hidden unless she feels she requires a show of strength. Devious and manipulative, Lavinia always has a plan. With long brown hair and a tall and slender figure, Liv is just as beautiful as she is deadly.

For this one, Angela Walker Cruz was the closest to my idea of Lavinia. Actress Jo Champa has the right look in many images of her.

Angela Walker Cruz

My own personal casting choice for Lavinia, would be Hemlock Grove‘s Famke Janssen.

Her entire face screams, “Don’t screw with me.”

There are plenty of other characters, but if I did all of them, it would take quite awhile. I think that once the book is released, I will revisit the idea again, and ask for some feedback from readers about who they would like to see.

For anybody wondering what’s up with the release, it has been delayed due to a few necessary edits and the fact that we are hard at work at an amazing cover that will do Jacklyn and her crew justice. Once things are set and the wheels are in motion, I will let you know all about it. Don’t forget about me. The Order of the Key is still well on the way. It will be in your hands soon, and now that I’ve found my forever publishing home, the next ones will be released much more smoothly.

Do you all have any casting possibilities for me? Please feel free to post them below!

Jacklyn Madison Character Interview

Hi all! I’m making a guest visit this week on Jena Baxter’s blog! Or…err…*cough* Jacklyn Madison, my main character from The Order of the Key is, anyway. Check out Jacklyn’s interview here! And while you’re at it, check out my new piece of promo art above. More to come!

You, Me, Doug, and Leah

Sometimes, I mutter under my breath while I do the dishes.  My husband, Ismael, always thinks I’m talking to him.  I’m not.  I clarify this.  And then it gets weird.  Who am I talking to?  Doug.  As Leah. Or Jacklyn.  As Kyp. You see, sometimes, when dialogue isn’t running correctly in my head, I need to talk through it.  Out loud.  And it makes me sound crazy.

Ismael never does this himself, but he doesn’t question it.  In my family unit, eccentricities like this, the occasional screamed “WAIT!  I need to write this down!”, the fact that our computers or at the very least, a notebook, must be packed everywhere we go, are deemed normal.  A popular mantra in our household could be, “Whatever it takes to keep writing.”

I wonder how Logan, my four year old son, will adapt to these oddities.  Will he pick up these little habits we’ve got, or will he just grow up thinking writers are crazy and do everything he can to avoid it?  I’m happy either way.

Apparently, my connection to my characters is a little strange, even to my husband.  I recently completed a manuscript that stars the aforementioned Doug and Leah.  Unlike the manuscript I’d been working on with Jacklyn and Kyp, this one has no sequel planned for it.  This is an actual end for characters I have been living with on and off since before the birth of my son. I seem to be having a difficult time with it.

So, a couple of days after Leah and I parted ways, I was laying on my couch, computer on my stomach as I often do once the baby is asleep and the chores are complete, with Ismael seated in a desk chair beside me.  I smiled, and Ismael noticed.

“What are you thinking?”

“I’m wondering what Doug’s Facebook status would be today.”  This was not the first thought I’d had that was similar.  I had also wondered about how Doug would present his relationship status changes (which I’m not going to explain because it could spoil the story).

I do that often.  Placing my characters into quirky real life settings that I would never write them into. Sometimes, they lead to quirky real life settings I actually do write them into.  I mentioned the dishes earlier for a reason.  My mind clears when I do dishes.  I don’t know what it is about them, but I’m always able to brainstorm while I do that particular chore.  One day, while brainstorming some dialogue between two characters, I realized they needed to be doing something while they talked, so the scene didn’t get bogged down with back and forth.  The main group of characters live in a large house together, so I decided the teens should be on dish duty.  This ended up becoming a motif in the story, to the point that when the pair is separated, one of the characters finds dishes to be a nerve wracking task because it reminds him of the other.

You may think I’m insane.  I feel very grateful to live with a writer because he doesn’t.  When I say something like, “I can imagine what Grayson would think about that,” in the middle of a conversation, he is unfazed – and not at all jealous of the many men, women and children that have taken up residence in my brain.  And as crazy as you may believe the both of us are – one thing is for sure.  I’ll never be lonely.


I have this main character named Jacklyn.  As I delve into who she is, I find I love her more and more.  She is a strong woman, vulnerable but bad ass.  She is confident in her sexuality.  There is never a question of whether or not she thinks she’s pretty.  She knows she is.  She is foul mouthed, sarcastic, and a bit of a geek.  Her logic?  “If I’m going to be a superhero, I want to be just like the ones I grew up with.”  She’s dramatic and romantic, believes in fighting the good fight and, as her character grows and evolves, she begins to see the guns she carries as the only source of power she can truly rely on.

Whoops!  Where did that last bit come from?  There are plenty of things about that description of Jacklyn that feel like natural extensions of portions of my psyche.  There are some, one more decidedly than others, that I don’t feel terribly comfortable exploring.

Guns scare the crap out of me.  I view them as death machines.  I hate them.  HATE. THEM.  Which is why it’s so weird that one of my favorite characters to write loves them so much.

So how do you write a character with values so different from your own without completely endangering your belief system? Well, for one, you can create a counter balance.  The story’s co-lead character is Kyp.  He refuses to touch a gun, thinks they are instruments of destruction.  He feels that if a tool can only be used for destruction, it should not exist.  He is not against violence to protect others, but he understands the danger of relying on it too much.  He prefers to use his supernaturally-gifted strengths to find another solution.  In this way, he is my voice in the story.  In many other ways, he is nothing like me – there are moments in which he can be an emotionless drone, and he often behaves as though everything is a game of strategy and not the lives of other people.  But he provides that ability to speak my views on the topic within the story.  Is either correct?  No.  They are two characters, disagreeing as people do in real life.  There isn’t always an easy yes or no answer.

You can also try to understand the reasoning behind the value in question.  Jacklyn likes guns.  Why?  They make her feel like she has power.  Why?  Because her own personal supernatural powers were taken away from her before and she feels like guns are a more reliable, more concrete, source of strength.  Does she struggle with this?  Yes.  She isn’t entirely comfortable. But she isn’t entirely uncomfortable either.  Do the guns help her out of situations Kyp’s “alternative methods” may not?  Yes. But other times, Kyp’s method is smarter.    Is Jacklyn’s gun toting a departure from her core personality?  Somewhat, but it also plays into her need to be dramatic, to be showy, to be the next Lara Croft.  Does it matter?  No – Jacklyn needs her guns.

There’s a danger in opening yourself up to that method of thinking.  You can actually develop sympathy for the other side of an argument – an interesting journey, and one that might frighten you.  But the important thing is that you remember your role as a writer.  You write what you need to write because it’s what the character dictates. You never ask yourself what you are okay with writing, what would embarrass you.  You never ask yourself what would make the plot easier.  You never ask yourself what other people will think.  You write the thing based on the characters you have created.

You are the conduit through which your character reaches the world.  You truthfully ask yourself how a girl like Jacklyn would cope with a loss of power that led to her own injury as well as the deaths of others.  And when you find your answer, you don’t question it.  You simply write.  The rest will, hopefully, fall into place.