Wednesday, July 11, 2012

THE QUEEN OF QUIRK ... And Giveaway!!

Okay, I’ll be the first to admit it—I’m a character. Or at least that’s what my mom used to say, but somehow I never took offense. You see, to me, being a “character” meant you weren’t ho-hum and boring—but unique, different, quirky.

You know, kinda crazy and kinda fun? The kind of person people usually remember and one who has a penchant for creating memories people don’t forget? For instance one of my quirks is that when it comes to games, I am as competitive and vicious as they get, especially when playing the game of Spoons, wracking up broken nails, bloody fingers and gouged hands galore. Once I even snatched the spoon so fast, my chair toppled back into a plate-glass window. But, you will be happy to know—I got the spoon! Of course the low point of my Spoons obsession came when I returned from the restroom during a game to discover my friends had replaced the spoons on the table with butcher knives. Ouch! Trust me—I got the point.

Okay, okay, when it comes to life, being a sore loser or crazy-nuts competitive may not be the ideal trait or quirk to have, but when you’re creating characters in a book? Oh, honey—you bet! Because the bottom line is that quirks, flaws and habits can help humanize your characters and endear them to your readers, embedding a memory—and hopefully your story—into the reader’s brain.

I’ll be honest with you—I am not the “Queen of Quirk,” but I sure do like to give my characters quirks, and here’s why.


1.)   Quirks Make Characters Interesting and Relatable. Take Mitch Dennehy for example, my hero from A Passion Redeemed. Mitch is a gruff, no-nonsense newspaper man whose biggest quirk is he doesn’t mince words OR use a lot of them in a sentence, which I hope helps him come off as a lovable grouch such as in this example:

He stared, his breath shallow and his iron will liquefying into a puddle of metal. He pushed her back on the bed and descended, his mind focused only on the lips he craved to taste. Dear Lord, he had to have her.
He jerked away, eyes glazed with desire. “Tomorrow. We get married tomorrow.”
She grinned. “Perfect.”
He frowned. “Is City Hall open on Saturdays?”
“I think so.”
He stood. His legs felt shaky and a nerve twitched in his cheek. Desire or nerves? He wasn’t sure. He jabbed a finger. “So help me, Charity, after we’re married, no more lies. Do you hear?”
She nodded. “Whatever you say, Mitch.”
He exhaled loudly and headed for the door.
“I love you.”
“Yeah.” He jerked the door open.
“Do you love me?”
He turned to give her a half-lidded gaze, wondering which was stronger—the desire to make love to her or the desire to put her over his knee. He groaned inwardly. No contest.
“Yeah, unfortunately.”

In Myra Johnson’s One Imperfect Christmas, the very stressed-out heroine, Natalie, has an assistant named Deannie who has this uncanny way of sneaking up on her, which as a very wired individual, I can certainly relate to. When it happens to me, I usually jump a mile in the air, so I completely emphasize with poor Natalie in Myra’s clip below:

Clutching the flyer, Natalie stormed through the shop and slammed open her office door. With flying fingers she typed the password to open the Moonbeams file. She sucked in her breath when she saw the star in the window, exactly as it appeared in the flyer. By some horrible fluke she’d called up the wrong graphic.
“Bummer.” Deannie’s softly spoken comment startled Natalie half out of her wits.
“Deannie! For heaven’s sake!” She slapped a hand against her chest and spun around to see the girl hovering just behind her. “I wish you wouldn’t do that.”

2.)   Quirks Can Add Humor. As far as I’m concerned, one of the best ways to add humor to a story is to give a character a quirk such as Seeker bud Audra Harders did in this clip from a ms. called No Place Like Home, giving her heroine the quirk of night blindness to add a touch of humor to this wonderful scene:

            “What are you doing?”
            “I’m pulling off to check out the lodge,” she answered distractedly. The truck slowed to ease over a bump.
            “Why?”  Nick gritted his teeth against the jarring ride. “Can’t you wait a mile?”
            “A mile?”
            “The sign back on the highway said Rest Area, 1 mile. Can’t you wait that long to do your thing?”  A deeper bump rocked the truck to the side. “Ow!”
            “Sorry,” Rachel said, not sounding sorry at all. “Actually, my thing is exactly why we’re here. We have to stop for the night.”
            He glanced from her face to her whitened knuckles gripping the steering wheel. “You’re not sick, are you?”
            Her brows knitted together sharply. “Only of your grump, cowboy.”
            “Look, we’ve been making good time on an empty highway,” he coaxed, trying a different tactic, one so foreign and rusty, he wasn’t sure if he’d be able to pull it off. “Another four hours, five max and we’ll be in Casper before you know it. Now be a good girl, go to the bathroom and let’s get on down the road.”
            “Sorry, big guy,” she said on a sigh. “No can do. I can’t see in the dark. Night blindness.”
            Dusk was quickly turning to dark as Nick watched the play of emotions across her face. His stomach sank as he realized she was serious. “Can’t see?” he parroted. “Not even a little?”
            “It’s a rod-cone thing. Supposedly I’m missing some of one or the other. Anyway, unless I can feel my way, I don’t do anything at night.”
            Nick wasn’t sure how to respond to that comment, so he wisely chose silence.

In my upcoming “Heart of San Francisco” series, one of my editor’s favorite characters was the distinguished elderly and near deaf/blind butler named Hadley, whose quirk of selective hearing/seeing adds an extra bit of quirky humor to the story. Especially when our dear, old boy butts heads with the prickly housekeeper/cook, Rosie Fitzsimmons, as indicated in the two following clips.

“Hadley!” Rosie poked her head out the kitchen door. “I need you to snap the peas, lickety split.”
The butler clicked his heels. “Yes, miss, tap the bees—honey coming right up.”
“Peas!” Rosie screamed.

The front door opened and Hadley stepped through with a newspaper under his arm, distinguished as always in his crisp white shirt with black tails despite the sprig of juniper in his hair. A smile played at the corners of Caitlyn’s mouth as she stared at her beloved butler, his craggy face especially handsome with the absence of his new glasses. “The paperboy missed again?” she asked loudly enough for him to hear, plucking the juniper from his silver hair.
“I’m afraid so, miss,” Hadley said with his usual calm, a smile shadowing lips that never voiced a complaint. “I do believe the young ruffian relishes the thought of me rifling through the brush each morning. But I don’t mind. Rather like a trek through the jungle, if you will.”
She stood on tiptoe to graze an affectionate kiss to the old butler’s cheek. “Perhaps because you’ve misplaced your glasses again, Mr. Hadley?”
His eyes actually sparkled. “At times I find life to be more of an adventure without them, miss,” he said with an imp of a smile, “especially where Mrs. FitzSimmons is concerned.”
Caitlyn chuckled. “I do believe there’s a scamp beneath that regal pose, dear Hadley.”
He smiled. “With Mrs. Fitz, miss, one finds his pleasure wherever he can.”

3.)   Quirks Can Humanize or Soften Hard-to-like Characters or Antagonists. One of the hardest things I’ve ever done was to take a character people loved to hate like the manipulative vixen sister in the “Daughters of Boston” series, Charity O’Connor, and use her quirks of manipulation to soften or humanize her. I mean this was the character that readers actually wrote and asked me to “slap Charity for them” or wanted to see her “maimed” or “killed” in book 1, A Passion Most Pure. But hopefully those same quirks of manipulation brought a smile to a reader’s face in the next book, A Passion Redeemed, when Charity lies in wait in the back seat of Mitch Dennehy’s car while he's on a date or when she put cracker crumbs in her eyes to manipulate him with tears. Throughout the rest of the series, this quirk of manipulation adds humor and softness to her when she becomes the family matchmaker and schemer such as in this clip from A Passion Denied:

“You want me to kiss Brady?” Lizzie’s voice was little more than a squeak.
“Only as a last resort if he doesn’t kiss you. Call it Plan B.”
“But, how …?”
Charity studied her sister, her lips skewed in thought. “Well, it would certainly help if you could cry. Can you cry on demand?”
Lizzie blinked. “I’ve never tried. But why do I have to cry?”
“Because it weakens their defenses. I suggest you practice in your room. If you have trouble, try putting something irritating in your eyes like a cracker crumb or anything like that. Once your eyes begin to water, just think about how much you love Brady and how awful it would be if he didn’t love you back. Then, voila! Cry yourself a river.”

4.)   Quirks Can Add Drama and Mystery. One of the things I remember most about Mr. Darcy in the latest movie version of Pride and Prejudice is how he would flex his hand when he was fighting nervousness, a quirk that neatly showed he was human despite his arrogant air. Or in Tamera Alexander’s novel, Within My Heart, where the hero, Rand Brookston, Timber Ridge's physician, purchases huge amounts of lamp oil and nobody knows why until later in the book, when it reveals a deep secret and inner failing.

In the following clip from Mary Connealy’s, Over the Edge, the hero Seth got married after the war, but because of his injuries, he doesn’t remember. However, the feel of his wife Callie's hair is a memory for him, so he likes to touch it and release it from its braid, which becomes a quirk of his. He keeps doing it and she keeps trying to stop him. When she finally lets go and allows him to touch her hair, we know she's learning to trust again such as in this clip:

He had a flash of a memory of her rubbing his back. Or no, maybe bandaging his back. He was lying on his stomach and he looked back to see her touching him, leaning over him. He felt her silky hair spilling onto his back. Loose. Surely a nurse kept her hair tied back. And she smiled. He knew the moment was a true memory and not some kind of dream. And the way she touched him, the intimate way she smiled, this had to be after they were married. It sure better have been, considering where the memory took his thoughts. Oh, he could well imagine wanting to marry her bad.

5.)   Quirks Can Humanize our Heroes/Heroines. Tina Radcliffe’s heroine in Oklahoma Reunion, Kait Field, cleans when she is stressed and she's stressed a lot, a quirk that helps lighten an otherwise negative habit in a character, making Kait both relatable and endearing, such as in this excerpt where she and her daughter go to have dinner at the hero, Ryan Jones' house.

Kait turned and inspected the kitchen in stunned surprise. The entire room from the granite countertops, white bead board cupboards to the checkerboard floor tiles gleamed. “What happened? Everything is so, so...”
Ryan shrugged, and shot her a lopsided grin.
“I think you might possibly be cleaner than me.”
“Hey, let’s not get carried away. No one is cleaner than you, Kait.”

Throughout the O’Connor saga, Collin McGuire is a drop-dead gorgeous hero who’s lousy at sports, and his brothers-in-law never let him forget it, which helps humanize his exalted hero status, as indicated in these two clips from A Hope Undaunted and A Love Surrendered.

With a hint of a smile, Sean scratched the back of his head and closed his eyes. “As a matter of fact, Collin told me once that the only reason Father agreed to let him come courting in the first place was because of Mother. Apparently she convinced him that at one time, he’d been just like Collin.”
A smirk lifted Steven’s brow. “You mean lousy at sports?”

Steven cleared his throat. “For you information, sis, unlike Collin, I win by skill.” He flicked a stray crumb of pie at his sister.
“Hey—so my wide range of talents doesn’t include Pinochle,” Collin defended.
“Or basketball, or baseball or chess …” Luke said with a grin.

6.)   Quirks Can Deepen a Character by Revealing Hurts in a Character’s Life. In MaryLu Tyndall’s book, Surrender the Dawn, the hero Luke is always rubbing his earlobe when he feels guilty. Why? According to MaryLu, it’s because he injured it while trying to rescue his parents from a burning building, an attempt at which he failed, thus reminding the reader of his painful past and invoking an empathy with a simple quirk like rubbing his ear.

Or in my novel, A Hope Undaunted, the heroine Katie O’Connor rubs her elbows when she’s insecure, harkening back to a time in her past when she was ridiculed by classmates for having psoriasis on her legs, arms and elbows.

SO … how do I come up with quirks to enhance my novels? Well, at the end of this blog, you’ll find a list of all the quirks I was able to find on line and some I thought of myself, so have at it. BUT ... A WORD OF WARNING ABOUT ALL QUIRKS: Quirks are the easiest things to overdo in a book, so PLEASE use them sparingly. For instance in the case of an accent, I tend to avoid accents at all cost because A.) they're difficult to do correctly and convincingly and B.) they can grate on the reader's (and the writer's!) nerves. That's why the ONLY Irish word quirk you hear Patrick O'Connor say in my books is "darlin'," and even that I have to tone down at times to avoid overkill. Same thing with Marcy's glazing her teeth with her tongue—I will literally take out half of these or more in the editing stage. But that warning said, here are a few easy ways you can brainstorm new and clever quirks to endear your characters to your readers.


1.)   Think about Self Characteristics. Boy, was this fun—you should try it!! I actually did it and came up with the following quirks that I personally have, which I may just give to a character or two! I actually used the first one already—liking underdone or light pastries and breads because in A Passion Redeemed, Charity always switches her dark roll for Mitch or Brady’s light ones when they’re not looking.

o   Only eat light or undercooked pastries and breads
o   Only like to eat blue M&Ms and will NOT eat brown ones.
o   Always roll or push up the sleeves of blouses and sweaters
o   Have to write with a black pen, not blue
o   Pick at my eyebrows
o   Wear lipstick/gloss at ALL times … even to bed
o   Half sing songs and hum parts when don’t know the words, driving my daughter CRAZY!!
o   Must have coffee, ear plugs, lipstick, Kleenex, mirror, notebook, emory board when writing
o   Hoard Christmas bows
o   Keep one foot out of bed at night when hot
o   Tent my knees when sleeping
o   Save plastic bags, twisty ties and bows
o   Kick my legs when sitting
o   Twist the paper covers that straw come in
o   Doodle flowers and faces when on phone
o   Eat only soft or soggy fries
o   Must have four ketchup, salt & pepper, two creamers, knife and one strawberry jelly with my Egg McMuffin meals

2.)   Think about Characteristics of Family Members. My Dad was a bit quirky in that although he was an eye surgeon of considerable repute and skill, he would do things like throw string over the telephone wire outside his bedroom window to see which way the wind was blowing! Also, my mom used to glaze her tongue across her teeth when she was nervous, so I gave that same trait to Marcy O’Connor in my O’Connor family series. My hubby went through a phase where he loved Snickers, so I gave Sean O’Connor an obsession with Snickers bars.

3.)   Think about Characteristics of Friends, Classmates, Coworkers. A friend of mine used to wrinkle her nose like a rabbit out of nervous habit and another dear friend loved Dr. Pepper so much, she chose “Dr. Pepper Girl” as her e-mail addy. As a result, my heroine in my next book, A Love Surrendered, also has an addiction to Dr. Pepper and her friend calls her, "Dr. Pepper Girl."

4.)   Think about Opposites. In book 2 of the “Heart of San Francisco” series, my alpha-male hero is a fearless and armed rough-and-tumble Italian police detective who, like Leroy Jethro Gibbs of NCIS, is not afraid of anybody or anything. You know the type—rock jaw, perennial shadow of beard and gruff manner? Well, our hero is railroaded into providing protection for the heroine whom he perceives as a spoiled socialite, forced to escort her home everyday on a cable car. The quirk I gave him? He has a fear of throwing up (I actually had a friend with this quirk, believe it or not) and unfortunately cable cars turn my hero green and sick to his stomach, which I hope will provide moments of humor as well as humanize our grouchy cop.

5.)   Character Trait Chart and Personality Components. WOW, I found this fun website called Inspiration for Writers, Inc., of which an author friend of mine, Sandi Rog, is a part. They offer a GREAT Personality Components Chart here for free that can help you brainstorm quirks and character traits. For example, I took two of the words in the Personality Components Chart—“aloof” and “meticulous” and immediately came up with quirks of two people I know. One of them absolutely HATES to be hugged (aloof), which if you know me at all, is a real challenge to NOT hug her when I see her! The other friend is insanely organized, color coding everything with markers and lists (meticulous), so this chart really helps shake loose the ideas for character quirks. Here’s the link for a free Character Trait Chart AND Personality Components Chart, plus you can request free copies of their writer’s worksheets as well, so check it out!

Finally, here’s the list of quirks I came up, some of which you may just see in my future books, so beware!! And anyone who leaves a comment today or mentions new quirks to be added will be entered to win a signed copy of any of my books including ANY future books. So let’s get “quirky and remember … quirky characters need love too!


Adjusts eyeglasses, tie, belt, skirt
Allergic to something
Always cold
Always hot
Bad with names; gets names mixed up
Baseball cap
Bites lip
Bites nails
Butchers words
Can't stand the sight of blood
Can’t smell
Chews on a pen
Chews sunflower seeds
Chrews gum
Clears Throat
Clucks tongue
Color blind
Constantly plays with a ball
Corrects people
Cracks knuckles
Debates all issues
Drama queen
Dramatic/Interesting scar on (face/part of body)
Unusual mole or birth mark (shaped like....)
Excessively grooms self
Drinks too much coffee (in honor of Gibbs)
Drops clothes on floor
Early riser
Feet on desk
Finishes people’s sentences
Flips a coin
Grates lip
Grinds jaw
Gut feelings
Habitually late
Hands in pockets
Hates ice in drinks
Hates to lose
Hoarse/gravelly voice from smoking, shouting, Chews on hair
Honest to a fault
Hunt-and-peck typist
Impeccable dresser
Issues dares
Lisp on certain words
Loosened tie
Loves animals/kids
Lucky item
Makes bets on everything
Neat freak
No fashion sense
Pack rat
Pencil over ear
Pet phrase or word
Picks nails
Picks up strays
Pinches bridge of nose
Plays Solitaire
Plays with lobe of ear
Poor handwriting
Poor sense of direction
Pops peanuts
Practical joker
Purses lips
Quotes movies/books
Rattles change in pocket
Rolls eyes
Rubs chin,
Rubs temples
Rumpled shirt
Runs hands through his hair
Scares people
Shuffles when walks
Speaks in rhymes
Talk about self in third person
Talks softly
Talks to him/herself
Tic in jaw/cheek/temple when angry
Tidies up wherever
Twirls hair,
Whistles out of tune or same lines over and over
Won’t eat anything green
Won’t eat vegetables


Jan Drexler said...

Hey Julie!

I love adding quirks - it helps me get into the character's point of view when I visualize them doing their quirky thing.

Here's a couple to add to your list:

Rubs the back of his neck (tired, nervous, at a loss of what to say)

And in a new project I'm working on, the hero has a scar from a burn on his neck. The burn is recent, and as the story progresses the scar fades, but he's still self-conscious about it. To him it's a reminder of failure, so he ducks his head or tugs the collar of his shirt up to hide the scars.

Today's my birthday (happy birthday to Jennifer, too!) and I'm bringing cake for the late night/early morning crowd. So dig in! It's chocolate, of course - deep, dark, rich chocolate.

Tina Radcliffe said...

You won't eat brown M & Ms????? Even if you're out of chocolate??

Mail me the brown ones.


Happy Birthday Jan!!!! And Jennifer.

Julie Lessman said...

JAN, HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU AND JENNIFER!!! I hope you guys have a GREAT day!!

LOVE rubbing the back of the neck -- don't know how I missed that one, but THANK OU!! The burn is a nice touch, too, sweetie!

To celebrate Jan and Jen's birthdays, we not only have a full brunch buffet -- the works with make-your-own omelots, waffles and pancakes with all the fixin's including maple-cured bacon, smoked ham and country sausage -- but white cake and rum red velvet cake (in honor of my good friend Carrie Fancett Pagels!!) ... and PEACH COBBLER with cinnamon ice cream -- my fave!!

Dig in everybody -- this is one birthday brunch you can tally in your Fitness Pal app, guaranteed!! :)


Julie Lessman said...

LOL, TINA!!! You are going to fall over someday when you open a package with TONS of brown M&Ms, aren't you???

Absolutely LOVE the blue ones, but cannot abide the chocolate ones, it's true. Keith even made me do a taste test once with my eyes closed and I swear I can tell the difference ... ;)


Carol Moncado said...

Um, is it Mr. Darby or Darcy? Or did I read it wrong?

Julie - you can come play Spoons with us at DH's fam's up in STL. We get vicious. Bent spoons are not uncommon. We've talked about playing forks but...

I'm working on my historical right now. One of the... quirks I guess is my hero's drawl. Not southern but sort of Missouri hillbilly-ish. He says things like "young uns" but never children; rarely says the "g" at the end of an 'ing' word; lots of ya instead of you; and y'all better not expect to hear anything but y'all.

When I started writing it, the two voices were very distinct then someone pointed out [quite rightly] that the dialect was too much and now they're much more similar [which I don't like] and I need to find a happy medium. And I'm not there yet. Gotta finish the rough draft then figure it out.

Speaking of that... time to research [aka read Out of Control by one Mary Connealy] ;).

Casey said...

Okay...that picture just made me ROFLOL.

Julie...with a spoon on her nose. Not sure I'd ever see it. ;-)

I LOVE quirks and I love the kind that are just barely noticeable, but add another character layer to the story.

I actually have an unusual quirk. I like to rub my fingernails across my upper lip. I like how smooth it feels. So I gave that quirk to a character and my crit partner thought it creative. Hey, I like this self-introspection for use in a novel. ;-)

Christy (Critty Joy) said...

Your quirks are one reason I adore you so Julie!

What a fun thing to think about... one thing that does often stick out to me are the quirks of the characters...since I consider myself quite quirky I can so relate!

I am a hair twister... but that is one of many quirks. ;)

Such a fun post and something to ponder...and to watch for when I read books....or write....

Virginia Carmichael Munoz said...

Okay, Audra's bit made me LAUGH OUT LOUD!!!

Too funny!!! Loved all of these!

And now I feel the ened to go back through my WIP and look to make sure everybody has sufficient quirks. :D

Happy Birthday Jan and Jennifer!!! And many moooooooore...

Melissa Jagears said...

Ohmygoodness, Julie, I'm VICIOUS at spoons. We have friends from church that tease others that they're inviting me over to play spoons with the new visitors and then they cackle under their breath. I'm calm and indifferent---until you include me in a game. They even went out and bought me the biggest spoon they could find as a prize trophy to make me more vicious I suppose :). Hubby loves to tell others that if it looks like I MIGHT lose to him in the game of chess I knock all the pieces down and stomp away...which happens....occasionally....
With the accent of Inigo Montoya, "I hate losing."

Um, Julie, that's Darcy. Definitely Darcy. LOL. I suggest you fix that before you have Jane Austenites up in arms--and they do get up in arms--just check out the comment in my Amazon review claiming that I liked the Kiera Knightley version just as much as the Colin Firth movie!!!

Melissa Jagears said...

I gave my hero in one book the quirk of constantly mangling his hat without knowing it when nervous and then having to reshape it when he realizes it.

My husband is always looking for trouble to come around the corner, he has to sit at the best spot in a restaurant to make sure he can be the first to see the gunman who decides to come in and shoot up the diners, or asking me, "did you see the guy at your 10? I didn't think so, you need to pay more attention to where everyone is." When the Zombie Apocalypse comes, everyone will want him on their side, he's been training for it his whole life!

My mother's side of the family is full or quirks, my husband likes to point out things that I do that are "so Bina." One of those quirks is when you point in a direction/at something with your hand, your head has to dip in that same direction. The more Bina you have in you, the closer you are to laying your head down on your arm as you point. :)

Ausjenny said...

I have a couple for you.

sucks air through front teeth (not so sure its a quirk but its really annoying)

clicks fingers not the same as cracking knuckles you do one at a time and and then crack the knuckles. (I do this alot and often have to pull the little finger out to put it back in place I think they are double jointed.)

always saying yeah when you talk.

did you mention biting inside of lip.

Happy birthday Jan and Jennifer.

Written by Susan Codone said...

Quirks that work:

Minor OCD -- (not full-blown; that would be another book) always checking for the location of the restroom/exits upon entering a new building

Eating only sugar-free foods but not because she's diabetic

Only takes backroads, never the interstate

Eating the same thing for breakfast every day

Constantly counting the children

Tying to get rid of a southern accent so people will think she's smarter

Hey, I'm up at 4am doing this because I had a bad dream...I could keep going but doing this now is actually kind of quirky!

Written by Susan Codone said...

Quirks that work:

Minor OCD -- (not full-blown; that would be another book) always checking for the location of the restroom/exits upon entering a new building

Eating only sugar-free foods but not because she's diabetic

Only takes backroads, never the interstate

Eating the same thing for breakfast every day

Constantly counting the children

Tying to get rid of a southern accent so people will think she's smarter

Hey, I'm up at 4am doing this because I had a bad dream...I could keep going but doing this now is actually kind of quirky!

Kav said...

Okay -- what on earth is Spoons and how do you play it?!

Quirks -- I thought I didn't have any until I started reading your list and then everyone else's. The one that comes to mind that isn't on the list yet (at least I don't think it is):

Having to check that the stove is off before leaving the house. Even though I know that I've turned all the elements off it still has to be the last thing I do before I leave the house!

And I talk to animals...dogs, cats, squirrels, raccoons. If it's furry I can hold a conversation with it.

And how about getting instructions for just about anything from a book instead of asking for help or hiring a professional? That's my current heroine's quirk.

And Julie -- is it true that you have two books coming out this fall? Or is that just a hopeful rumour?

Dawn said...

I always thought that quirks gave characters personality. Makes them more fun to read.

Spoons! I love that game. I remember teaching a cousin once to play it and all of the cousins had already gotten their spoon before John had his cards ready and we had a good laugh about that.

I'd love to be entered to win one of your books. Probably one of your new ones coming out.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

That list of quirks alone makes this a printer-offer but what detail Julie...

Which only makes me sad to post THE DAY AFTER YOU ALL THE TIME!!!!

'SUP WI DAT?????

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JENNIFER AND JAN!!!! And deep, dark chocolate cake... my fave! Thank you, sweet thing!

I know several people with M&M phobias. Won't eat brown... or green... or orange....

I eat everything.


I should pretend to be phobic about something, right? Surely it would help.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

I like the quirks in character speak. The weirdisms and Ruthy-isms that make secondary characters stand out. Who doesn't remember Prissy in GWTW? "I don't know nothin' 'bout birthin' no babies!"

So I quirk up speech patterns to try and differentiate characters in a book and from book to book.

In my WIP I have Viola and Twila, aged sisters who think the hero is a hunk and have the advantage of being his neighbors...

A-stinkin'-dorable, the bode o' them! ;)

Nancy Kimball said...

I love how Julie did all the work for us, LOL. SO printing off that list too.

KAV, spoons is a card game where every person is the circle is dealt four cards and the dealer, which rotates each hand, takes a card from the remaining pile and either keeps or passes it through the circle.
The object is to collect four of a kind and then take a spoon from the center, of which there are one less than players. If someone is seen taking a spoon, you grab one too. The person without one earns the letter (we play where when you spell "spoons" you are out) or in a faster game you're just out, and you take a spoon out with you.
It can get pretty violent.
And I am REALLY GOOD at spoons so I would love to take Julie on some day. =)

Melissa, I liked that version BETTER. It's gotten me some static.

Susan, nice to see you. ;-)

Quirks do bond the reader. The historical romance I'm about to finish, the heroine has a penchant for pagan expressions of frustration like Jupiter's thunder! or Juno's Peacock, which is funny because in the epilogue she says "David's sling!" ;-)
One of my critters absolutely loves her for this.

Mary Connealy said...

In my Sophie's Daughters series the three heroines each had a quirk that I tried really consciously to tie to their personality.

in Doctor in Petticoats, Dr. Beth would touch someone (or herself) on the wrist, feeling for their pulse.
In Wrangler in Petticoats cowgirl/tomboy Sally would rub this little ribbon she had pinned inside her clothing. She loved pretty feminine things but she found her worth in working with her father so she suppressed that girly impulse.
In Sharpshooter in Petticoats dead-eye Mandy would rub her thumb over this little callus she'd formed on her index finger. A callus that came from pulling a trigger too many times.
She especially started rubbing that callus when she was angry and I tried to make that tiny quirk a sign that she was wishing she could shoot someone. She rubbed it particularly a lot around her bully of a husband.

Mary Connealy said...

In the Kincaid Brides series in book #1 Rafe rubs this scar he's got on his forehead when ever he thinks about the disaster that destroyed his family in a cavern.

Ethan smiles when he gets upset or when he's trying to keep peace in his family.

Seth, ah sweet crazy Seth. He's so full of quirks it's hard to say what they all are. When ever there's trouble, he can hear the cavern calling him.
He thinks storms call him into the wilderness to live with the wolves.

He once asks Ethan, "When the fire talks to you, what does it say?"

And he loves running his hands deep into his 'surprise' wife's silky black hair.

And the fact that she keeps threatening to shoot him isn't enough to make him stop.

Bridgett Henson said...

I love your list, Julie!!!

In my ms, Whatever He Wants, little miss perfect Joni doesn't eat with her hands. Ever. At a family/church function fried chicken is served. The tough guy, who loves her, separates the breast meat from bone and endures his extended family’s ribbing.
I used this to show that although she doesn't want to get her hands greasy she doesn't mind James doing her dirty work. :)

I love reading quirks. Love 'em.

My favorite was in a regency that I read years ago. The high society miss was accident prone, endearing her to me, the reader. The rugged hero was forever putting out fires and righting furniture. It was a fun read. Wish I could remember the name of the book. Lol!

Julie Lessman said...

CAROL ... gosh, girl, if anybody can get the Southern Missouri accent down, darlin', it should be you!!

But you are SO right about tonin' it down because that was one thing I forget to mention in this post, but I did go back and put it in as follows:

Quirks are the easiest things to overdo in a book, so PLEASE use them sparingly!!!

And, uh ... yeah ... I botched poor Mr. Darcy's name, which is pretty sad when you consider I can remember his quirk, but not his name!! Which just goes to show how much power quirks have when used correctly, right????


Julie Lessman said...

LOL, CASE ... that's the beauty of a crazy, quirky friend like moi ... you're never quite sure just WHAT they are going to say and do ...

You said: "I LOVE quirks and I love the kind that are just barely noticeable, but add another character layer to the story."

AMEN TO THAT, and as I mentioned above to Carol, quirks only add to a story when you use them sparingly, but when you do -- YES, you bet they deepen both your characters and your story!!


Audra Harders said...

OMG, Julie, you've written an eyeful!! As always, you've covered all the bases of your subject and unearthed so many I'd never thought of!

A friend of mine at work is OCD to the extreme. I love nothing more than walking by her cubicle after she's sorted out all her M&Ms by color - because heaven forbid they stay lumped together - and just whoosh them back into their original pile. She gives me "the look" and then patiently begins to sort them out again before she tastes even one.

Now that's a character and a quirk that's definitely going into a book.

Great job, Jules. Your mind is a fascinating place...

Julie Lessman said...

Oh, CHRISTY, I can SOOO see you as a hair twister, girl, because I see hair twisters as soft and shy and sweet, which is how I see you, my friend!! Thanks for loving me despite my quirks. Of course I didn't include the bad ones in my list, so I'm safe in your eyes so far, I guess ... ;)

VIRGINIA!!! Oh, I know -- I laughed out loud at Audra's clip as well and would SO love to see these two in action in a book SOON, wouldn't you???

LOL, MELISSA ... now WHY does that not surprise me, my friend, that you would be vicious at Spoons???? You, me and Nancy will have to have a "Spoon-off" at ACFW one of these years, but I'll warn you right now that I am a royal sore loser!! If I lose, you'll find me in the bathroom reading a People Magazine ... which is what I do every week if I lose at Dominoes at my MIL's ... ;)

And, YES, I do know how touchy those Austenites are, trust me. I've almost been drawn and quartered by some when I said the same thing you did, about liking the Keira version better than the Collin version, although I must admit ... Collin DOES leave me weak in the knees ... both Firth and McGuire! ;)


Audra Harders said...

Happy birthday, Jan and Jennifer!! I wish my birthday was smack in the middle of the year. Both my kids were born in July and we have such great parties : )


Jackie said...

Hi Julie,

Thanks for the list of quirks. I'm creating characters for a new story now and this will come in handy.

Happy birthday to Jennifer and Jan!

I hope you all have a great day!

Jackie L.

Jackie said...

Hey Ausjenny,

That sucking air through your teeth? We have a family member who does that. If we go out to eat nobody wants to ride home in the car with her. I could never include that in a story because you can bet that would be the story that would finally get published. Then I'd be busted for hurting somebody's feelings.

But it is truly annoying.

Julie, I think I need to do a blind taste test on those M&Ms. Ha!

Jackie L.

Julie Lessman said...

MELISSA!!! Oh, man, girl, what a GREAT family you have for quirks!! LOVE the "Bina" head nod and your hubby's adorable paranoia, and the crumpled hat??? WONDERFUL!!

JENNY!!! How are you feeling today, girl?? Better, I hope. :) And GREAT quirks, especially the sucking air through teeth. I actually use that a couple of times and absolutely LOVE IT. So much so that I practiced in the mirror to get the description just right! I have to admit, however, that I absolutely HATE the quirk "biting the inside of the lip" because for the life of me, I cannot figure out how people do that without looking like a face contortionist. And most of the times that I see it, authors have the character doing it to hide their feelings or reactions, which is crazy because it's not exactly unobvious, you know????

LOL, SUSAN ... sorry about the bad dream, but LOVE the OCD quirks, my friend, so thanks for sharing even if it is a "little quirky" at 4:00 AM ... ;) Especially relate to the eating the same thing for breakfast quirk because that was SO my dad, and now it's SO me as well!! :)


Julie Lessman said...

Oooo, KAV ... GREAT quirk suggestions!! I'm afraid I'm guilty of each one, even talking to animals ... especially the bees that buzz around: "Okay, you little sucker, just park it so I can whack you one ..." ;)

CanNOT believe you have never played Spoons, my friend -- you are SO deprived!! It's a crazy, wild, fast-paced, blood-drawing card game that when I, Melissa and Nancy play, could actually be considered a blood sport!!

And, yes, I hope to have two books out this October -- A Love Surrendered with Revell and A Light in the Window, which is Marcy and Patrick's Christmas prequel that I am e-pubbing on my own with my agent, and I have to admit, I am SOOO stoked about it!! Then with book 1 of my next series, Love at Any Cost, out next April 1st, I'll actually have three books out in six months. Kinda makes me feel like Mary Connealy, you know???


Julie Lessman said...

LOL, DAWN ... your John sounds a wee bit slow like my guy, but sometimes fast-talking, fast-walking gals like you and me NEED slow hubbies like that, right?? I assume "John" IS your hubby, correct???

LOL, RUTHY, as if YOU have anything to worry about posting after Miss Anality!! We're two peas in a pod, darlin', both crazy, quirky and anal to a fault ... although I might have you beat on the last one by a hair ... a Loreal 5-1/2 G Light Golden Brown hair, to be exact!!

NANCY, YOU'RE ON!!! Next ACFW conference -- you, me and Melissa in the lobby with TWO SPOONS!!

And, WOW, your "pagan" expressions are absolutely GENIUS, my friend, truly!! I'm jealous!!


Amanda said...

Wow, Julie what great examples and lists!! I can’t wait to read book 2 in the Heart of San Francisco series! A hero with a fear of throwing up! That will make for some great scenes, especially as he seemed rather gruff and no-nonsense in the first chapter.

Quirks are such a great addition to characters and I always try to give each character one or two, although like you, I tend to go overboard and have to edit a lot of them out so as not to sound repetitive. Love Darcy’s quirk in P&P. The actor did such a great job portraying him!

One quirk I sometimes give my characters is to have them use a particular phrase frequently. In one of M.L. Tyndall’s books, one character used the phrase “Sink me!” quite often and the hero always said “Fire and thunder.” But I try not to overuse this.

Definitely bookmarking this post!

Julie Lessman said...

RUTHY!!! Forgot to mention your mention of Prissy -- LOVE that character, who actually is one great big walking quirk, isn't she???

MARY ... when I titled this blog "Queen of Quirk," I was actually thinking of YOU, which is why I made it clear above that I am NOT "The Queen of Quirk." Every single one of your books, you incorporate WONDERFUL quirks for your characters, which I believe is only one of the many reasons your stories are so wonderful, my friend!!

BRIDGETT!!! Pure genius with your heroine's quirk of not eating with her fingers and having the hero cut her food for her -- TOO CUTE!! And that regency sounds wonderful, too -- although realllllly wonderful quirks SHOULD have helped you remember the name of the book, you think??? :)


Julie Lessman said...

AUDRA!!! You little brat, you -- doing that to a poor OCD M&M coworker!! I totally relate to that sweet woman because I eat all the blues first, then the greens, then the reds, then the yellows and NO BROWNS EVER!!! HATE BROWN ... but don't tell the FED EX guy, okay???

JACKIE, you are MORE than welcome, darlin', and YES, please do a taste test on those M&Ms because I swear the brown ones taste yucky!! And smart move about not including the teeth-sucking quirk if it's going to pinpoint somebody in the fam ... ;)

Thanks, AMANDA ... it's the first non-Irish hero I've written so far, so it should be interesting, I hope! And LOVE MaryLu's "sink me" and "fire and thunder," but then I just flat-out LOVE MaryLu and her work!! Thanks for coming by, my friend!


Sandra Leesmith said...

Julie, Great post and great list of quirks. You are sooo right. The quirks make the character real.

Casey, if you think the picture of Julie with a spoon on her nose is a riot--wait till you see the real thing. ROFLOL

Happy birthday Jan (and Jennifer)

Anonymous said...

My favorite quirk (or least favorite, depending on how you look at it) is being bad with names. At church, I once introduced a guy (we'd gone out twice) by the wrong name....over and over! I don't know how many people had filed past before he finally got annoyed enough to correct me....

Needless to say, that was the end of that relationship! LOL

Thanks for the giveaway!!! Sign me up!


Mary Connealy said...

I knew a guy who ended every sentence with the words, "And stuff and everything."

"Yeah, we'd love to come over and stuff and everything."

"I had a flat tire on my way here tonight and stuff and everything."

I probably shouldn't include this.

SOMEONE might recognize him. Lots of people have speech quirks but you have to be careful in a book because that kind of repetitiveness is boring.

Still, I've always toyed with including someone, maybe a minor characters, with a quirk like that.

Tina Radcliffe said...

Emily,seriously, that cracked me up.

What great book fodder. I CALL DIBS!!!!

Mary Connealy said...

Thanks for saying that about my books, Julie. I guess quirks add up to making a character DIFFERENT, making them HUMAN, delineating them from other characters by their physical actions or attitudes.

So in the process of trying to create a character and give them a voice, quirks emerge??? Maybe?

In my WIP, book one of which is Swept Away, which just in the last few days appeared on Amazon, it's due next spring, the three heroes main quirks are:

Book #1 the cowboy...hmmmm he's just a cowboy. Not sure what quirk that is. He's got all the usual cowboys mannerisms.....tough, doesn't talk much, very laid back but always ready for trouble.
I maybe need to fix that. The heroine's quirky. A work a holic named Ruthy. (a red head, too)

Book #2 the doctor...he's hyperactive before there was a medical term for that. He never quits moving, pacing, he cannot sit still.

Book #3 the lawyer...he's always on guard. He rarely sits down. He always picks a spot to stand, arms crossed, looking casual, but he's ready for trouble. He's the leader, though all three of the men are pretty good giving orders.

Mary Connealy said...

Emily, I was once at a wedding where the groom was talking at the reception about his wife and called her by his FIRST WIFE'S NAME!!!!
I was sitting at a table with his adult daughter and when he said it I looked at her and she looked at me and we had to just fight not to CRACK UP.
Just such a stupid thing for him to do. His brand spankin' new wife wasn't close enough to hear it, thank the Good LORD!!!!!!!!!

Jennifer Thompson said...

Julie! I loved this post!

I need to get some quirks into my WIP and this will definitely help!

I have the same problem with throwing up. I absolutely will not allow it! So I sympathize with your character and know what a battle it is to actually fight it off.

One of my quirks is I can't just crumple up a piece of trash and throw it away. I have to fold it up all nice and neat. If it's a straw wrapper, I smooth it out and fold it up into the size of a chick-let. I also do this with others that have been ignored and just thrown about the table. Sheets of paper, food wrappers, cat food bags are all name it, I fold it ;)

Julie, you do have my email correct. Not sure what's going on. But hopefully I will get your next newsletter.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY JAN! And thanks for all the happy birthday's everyone!!!

I also brought a chocolate cake, 2 layer, iced in hot pink butter cream (because I love all things pink) with purple rosettes decorating the top :)

Marianne said...

Happy Birthday, girls. And i'm with you on the M & Ms. of course, since my quirk is i don't like candy (solid chocolate excluded) that's understandable for me. Loved your post, and yes, you can use the quirk...when i was about 4, i told my great aunt i'd rather have a dime than the candy she was offering.

Clari Dees said...

I love all these quirks! A Deeelightful post today. It's quirks that make characters come alive and stick in our memory. Unfortunately, quirks can also be extremely annoying when it comes to family.

A quirk of one family member - who shall remain nameless - is that they think dogs should clean up the table scraps. "They are dogs after all." Unfortunately, one of our dogs has an extremely sensitive stomach and the ham bone she was given yesterday evening caused her to throw up in her kennel all night. Guess who got to clean that up this morning before breakfast? Not the quirky family member who had already left for work. This post on quirks helped calm me down so maybe I won't chew on them as hard as I was planning. Notice I said maybe. :-)

It's been a long time since I've played Spoons, but I don't think I want to take on Julie or Melissa. I've had my hand smashed too many times in that game. I don't like pain. My quirk? My competitive edge has been dulled by too many times in a cast. :-)

Gwendolyn Gage said...

Great examples here, Julie! I agree - quirks deepen personality, but there must be balance and not overkill. Love this list. :-)

Susan Anne Mason said...

LOL. I've never heard of Spoons either, but I thought from the picture it had something to do with putting them on your nose!!

I am not competitive at all - I'll play a game (if I have to) but I do not care if I win. Unlike my daughter who turns into a demon if she's losing!

Great list, Julie! My worst quirk is that I pick the skin around my nails (when I was a kid I used to bite my nails) but now I just pick them. Sigh. Need to work on that Quirk!

Love quirky characters though!

sbmason at sympatico dot ca

Julie Lessman said...

LOL, SANDRA ... if ANYONE knows about my "quirks," good OR bad, it would be my Seeker buds, but we have a saying here. What mistakes, quirks, analities that happen here, stay here, THANK GOD!! Lot of blackmail potential there, I'm afraid ...

EMILY, I LOVE IT!!! I had exactly the same experience, except with the wife of my husband's best friend, Maryann. You see, she looked just like this gal I used to work with named Karen, so every single time I saw her, I'd call her Karen. Which wouldn't have been so bad the first few times ... but for ten years??? Yep, it became a downright quirk that I could NOT break to save my soul. They eventually went their way and we went ours, but I still bear the guilt. :)

Gosh, MARE, I almost felt guilty writing this blog because in my heart of hearts, I just KNEW that YOU are the true Queen of Quirk and should have written this. You simply come up with the most wonderful quirks for your characters, and they are ALL endearing, truly!!


Susan Anne Mason said...

Happy birthday, Jan & Jennifer!

And Julie, 3 books in 6 months. Think I've died and gone to heaven!

Can't wait. Must save pennies now!

Julie Lessman said...

MARY AND EMILY!!! I completely forgot about a similar mis-name-calling incident I had as well, only it was a wee bit more embarrassing.

I was the maid of honor for a childhood best friend, and when the best man got up to give the toast at the front table, he raised his glass to wish Beverly and Boyd a lifetime of happiness. Only problem was, my friend's name was Carlotta and Beverly was the exwife. So when I got up next to give MY toast, I simply said, "I'd like to propose a toast to the happy couple, and THIS one is for Carlotta and Boyd ..."

Oh, JENNIFER!!! A paper folder -- I LOVE IT!!! I so relate to that, and it's a WONDERFUL quirk to have and to include in a book. Thanks for the cake, darlin', and here's hoping this is your BEST year yet!!


Kav said...

Nancy -- Thanks for the Spoon explanation! Sounds like it's a tad more advanced than Crazy Eights. Not sure I'd be a good competitor. I don't like bloodshed. I'd probably have extra spoons in my pocket and hand them out at the first sign of tension. :-)

And three Julie Lessman books in the space of six months? I think I've died and gone to heaven! Now if I can just book time off around their release dates I'll be able to read them non-stop cover to cover!

Julie Lessman said...

MARY AND EMILY ... your name misspeaks reminded me of a pretty embarrassing incident I had once as well. I was the maid of honor in a friend's wedding and when the best man got up to give his toast, he wished much happiness to Beverly and Boyd. Only problem was that my friend's name was Carlotta -- Beverly was the ex!! So when I got up to give MY toast, I simply said: I wish a lifetime of joy to the happy couple, and THIS one is for Carlotta and Boyd!!"

JENNIFER!!! A paper folder -- I LOVE IT!!! Talk about an adorable quirk to both have and give to a character!! Thanks for the cake, darlin', and here's to the BEST YEAR EVER for you!!

MARIANNE ... say it ain't so, girl!! You don't like candy??? Not even Hershey Bars, Reeses or Rollos (my faves!!)??? Well, it's a good thing you like hunks of chocolate or we might think you're pretty darn quirky ... ;)


Jamie Adams said...

Oh wow! How do you guys do it? Always posting just what I need when I need it! Thanks Julie!

Happy birthday Jan and Jennifer!

Julie Lessman said...

CLARI ... smart girl, not playing Spoons with me, Nancy or Melissa. I'm thinkin' I'd hate to be the one who put you in plaster, darlin', although Melissa has that dangerous gleam in her eye, you know ...

And, WOW, soooo sorry about the dog puke, sweetie. Glad I could lighten your angst over it, though, although from now on, I think I would leave the cleanup to the family member who caused it. Bet it wouldn't happen again after that ... :)

Thanks, GWEN!! Yeah, "overkill" is definitely not good. I know ... my editor catches me on it ALL THE TIME!!


Myra Johnson said...

WOW, what a wonderful collection of examples and quirk lists!!! Way to go, Julie!

And, um, KAV . . . "And I talk to animals...dogs, cats, squirrels, raccoons. If it's furry I can hold a conversation with it." We must be sisters separated at birth!

Eileen said...

Julie, you always write stuff that I need to know! Thanks for the wonderful post...(and, on a personal note, thanks for encouraging me on my Irish story...I just placed as top finalist in the Celtic Hearts Romance contest which also allows me a shot at the Golden Claddaugh). Speaking of character quirks, my main character slides into an Irish brough every time she is stressed or angry, but I think I may look over this list and add some more. Love it. Thanks again Eileen

Myra Johnson said...

Jennifer, your paper-folding quirk reminded me of one of mine. Any time I have a piece of chocolate wrapped in foil, I have to meticulously smooth out the foil and then fold it into a tiny paper hat or boat or some other neat little origami-like creation.

Julie Lessman said...

SUE ... picking is definitely better than biting unless you're talking about pastries, so I'm glad you've matured in that quirk, my friend!! :) And you know, you DO seem WAY too sweet to be competitive, which is one of the reasons I love you so much -- sweet, patient and kind people are a balm to the soul of a wired, game-vicious CDQ like me!!

SUE SAID: "And Julie, 3 books in 6 months. Think I've died and gone to heaven!"

LOL ... me, too, Suzi-Q!! Like I said above -- I feel like Mary Connealy and I gotta tell ya, it's a GREAT feeling! Now ... if I could just figure a way to sell the books that she sells ... :)

KAV, LOL ... so you don't like bloodshed in your recreation, eh?? I'm guessing that doesn't include reading Mary's books, right???

KAV SAID: "And three Julie Lessman books in the space of six months? Now if I can just book time off around their release dates I'll be able to read them non-stop cover to cover!"

Ha! This time you won't have to take time off, Kav, because the books are A LOT shorter than the other doorstoppers I've written!! I've gone from 500+ pages down to 350 or so, so I'm learning how it's done. And who said you can't teach an old dog new tricks??? You just can't teach 'em "fast," apparently!


Julie Lessman said...

JAMIE!!! LOL ... I tap your phone lines, don't you know!!! Thanks for the compliment, my friend -- glad to be of service! ;)

Thanks, MYRA! And why does it NOT surprise me that you converse with animals, my friend??? It takes a gentle person to do that well, and that's definitely you!

EILEEN, WHOO-HOO, GIRL!!! SUPER CONGRATS ON the final in The Celtic Hearts!! Gosh, I didn't even know about this cool contest when I started my Irish novels -- wish I did because I would LOVE to final or win in ANYTHING Irish!! So, you go, girl!!!


Dawn said...

Julie, John is my cousin. All of the cousins were at my grandparents teaching him to play Spoons. I was probably about 10 years old.

Nancy Kimball said...

Julie, you're on. =)
I'd absolutely love to accept my award looking like I've been in a street fight. :-p

Julie Lessman said...

MYRA!!! Aw, the foil hats and boats are just soooo darn adorable, girlfriend!! Take some pix and send them to me ... :)

WHOOPS, DAWN ... sorry! Hope John has grown up to be a wee bit more savvy in games ...

ROTFLOL!!! NANCE ... I LOVE street fights!! Used to roll around on the floor with my older sis, ripping at each other's hair (where do you think Faith and Charity got the hair-pulling stunt??). Uh ... and THIS was when I was 20-something years old, in heels, nylons and a beehive hairdo -- DEAD SERIOUS!! We get along much better now, but only because we're too old to fight ... and I really mean "too old"!!


Vince said...

Hi Julie:

I read your wonderful, meaty, and insightful post last night and well into this morning (kind of a reverse of “A Long Day’s Journey into Night") and it inspirited me to engage in one of my favorite quirks: doing philosophical analyses of subjects that offer the potential to pan out.

The analysis is based on your post plus pure reason conducted in an a priori fashion and may have no actual relationship to reality (or any living persons). Perhaps you can apply practical experience to these rules (which have no examples, of course) and tell us which ones might have the dint of truth.

Philosophical Rules of Quirks

1. quirks should emanate from the character and not be bestowed upon the character.

2. quirks should make some emotional impact on other major characters.

3. quirks should move the story forward and not distract from it

4. quirks should have a basis in the backstory even if the reader never learns of the past initiating event.

5. responses to given quirks should change as the relationship changes. (Quirks should mirror the emotional status of the relationship). What was once annoying might become adorable or vice versa.

6. quirks should be appropriate to and reinforcing of the time period and environment.

7. quirks should amplify the writer’s unique voice in the same pitch.

8. When everyone has a quirt, then not having a quirk is a quirk in it self.

9. quirks can be things that the character does not do that normal people do do. (I just love to use two 'dos' in a row.)

10. there can be metaquirks. These are quirks which depend on a character noticing the quirks in other characters.

11. quirks can be ‘tells’ like in poker (when Mary does x, she’s bluffing) or they can be leitmotifs – (as when they can signal or foreshadow the arrival of another character or situation).

12. a quirk may trigger a quirk in a second character. Just as yawning can cause others to yawn.

13. conflicting quirks can afford comedic situations. This could afford an anticipatory event as the reader awaits to see what happens when these two quirks collide. (As when one character always opens drapes in a room and the other always closes them).

14. quirks could be triggered by people or events as is useful to the story.

These are the major observations of my analysis. I have nothing to back up these ideas but reason itself. Do any ring true?


P.S. I just got hit by a quirk for rhyming names as a key to pronounciation: Connealy is Swahili for Mary Nealy.

Donna said...

What a great list of quirks. Loved it!!

Once while playing spoons, one of them got knocked in the floor. My husband dove after it and I dove after him. Just as he grabbed it I landed on top of him and grabbed it from him. I didn't think of myself as competitive until then.

I have a friend who butchers sayings. I just love that about her. And my most obvious trait would be my forgetfulness!

Happy Birthday Jan and Jennifer!

Courtney said...

I love reading books with quirky characters. I always remember those ones! Enter me:)

Melanie Dickerson said...

Hey, Julie!!! Imagine you having tons of quirks! :-) I love quirky characters, but it has to be believable. Actually, some of the most over-the-top quirky characters seem to be the most believable. But you can only have one or two over-the-top characters per book or it gets weird. But I think what makes your characters so memorable, Julie, is that they each have a couple of quirks, and they stay true to character the entire book. You are really good at memorable characters, Julie.

I'm not sure I'm very good at giving my main characters quirks. But I had a wonderful time creating my "Seven Dwarfs" characters (who are not all dwarfs. Some of them are quite tall) in my Snow White retelling, because I could make them as quirky as I wanted to. For example, I have a narcoleptic character who falls asleep if he sits longer than a minute or two (Sleepy). I have a character who has a brain injury and is always grouchy but would protect my heroine with his life (Grumpy). And I have a deaf character who is probably my favorite, as I've known quite a few deaf people that I love very much, having taught deaf and hearing impaired children. And so on with my seven men. I put my background and experiences in special education to good use, I think. ;-)

Melanie Dickerson said...

And I don't think I've ever played spoons. I don't know what that is, but this is exactly why I don't like to play games! I am competitive, but I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings, so it's a catch-22 and I hate when I win and I see the look of disappointment on the other person's face! Especially if I'm gloating! Oh, the guilt!!! (You think I'm kidding, but I'm not! I hate playing games! I'd much rather talk!)

DebH said...

my quirks:

- fashion challenged (i'd always wear jeans and sports jersey if it weren't so dad-gum unprofessional)
- directionally challenged (please don't ask me to point out north, south, east or west)
- always refer to restaurants as landmarks when giving directions
- separate m&ms, sweet tarts, skittles into the separate colors before eating
- rapidly bounce right leg when reading computer screen or listening to someone explain something at work
- used to adjust my glasses by pushing finger to bridge of nose, still do it (when vision feels fuzzy) even though i wear contacts
- also give inanimate objects feelings and personality (as in: don't yell at the computer, it'll get mad and stop working) i think this is due in part to my hobby of being an animator
- uber competitive

i think i'll stop there. i know there are more...

i'd love to win a book. i adore reading.

this post is awesome! and i happen to agree that Mary is the Queen of Quirk.

Mary Cline said...

Happy birthday Jan and Jen!

I had a friend who would have a song for every sentence or at least every conversation. She knew a lot of songs!

Jennifer Thompson said...

DebH reminded me of a quirk my mom had.

She was directionally challenged as well.

Every time we would go shopping at the mall we would enter a store...didn't matter for how long, 2 minutes or 2 hours, and she would exit the store and start walking the same direction we had just come from.

She still does it today and has NEVER gotten the direction right, but she will come out saying "By golly, I know I have it right this's right." And I would shake my head "No, mom. It's left."
Then she would say "That's just not right, I made sure to remember before I went in." That crazy woman :)

Abbi Hart said...

Quirks are awesome! This was such a fun post to read. Only problem is one of my quirks is that I, with out trying, tend to do the little things I read like, wink, or scrunch my nose. So reading this list had me doing all sorts of fun things! lol!
And spoons is awesome but what is even more fun is SPOONS-I'd try to explain but it's easier to just watch this clip- quality is not the best but it's still good. Basically you put spoons in your mouth and hit the each other on the head to see who gives up first, only one of the people has someone behind them with a spoon in their hand and they hit them with that when it's the opponents turn. So they have no clue and think they are getting hit that hard with a spoon in a mouth. Sorry for the long comment!

Jillian Kent said...

Love this list, Julie. My darlin' hubby sings all the time. Only problem with this upbeat guy is that he never gets the words right. Never. He can take your favorite song and give it a twist that will drive you nuts. You should hear what he does to, Lady in Red. :)

I'm loving the new show Perception with Eric McCormak. Whenever the hallucinations get too bad he puts his head phones on and directs his own internal orchestra. I'm using that some day!

I frown too deeply when I'm thinking and I snort when I laugh. Really. And then I turn bright red, which is really bad because I'm still flashing. Ahh, I bet there are some great flashing quirks out there.

Jillian Kent said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Great day with Julie....quirks and all!
Julie, I just watched Gone WTW other night and thought about you......loved it again!
Count me in for the giveaway!

Happy Birthday to Jan and Jennifer!

Jackie S.

Ganise said...

JULIE!!! :) :)
Sorry I'm late, but you know at one point my name will pop up, huh?
Have mercy, I will LOVE it if I meet you one day! You're so fun!
Quirks. Such an interesting topic! I actually smiled about the twirling hair thing because I do ALL the time!

other ones that could be added to the blog list:

- Saying 'like' alot in a sentence. (Very common here, in Canada)
- Wearing the same outfit, all week long.

=) I'm thinking we need to have a 'secret habits' episode here at Seekerville!

Love Julie Lessman!!!

Happy Birthday JAN AND JEN! :) Chocolate cake is my favourite and I'm wishing a day as sweet as the cake!

Anybody else, especially like it when the Hero has habit, like drawling?! =)

Now to read more comments...

Debby Giusti said...

Your blogs are always teachable moments, Julie. Great info that made me think about quirks my characters could/should possess. Thanks!

BTW, you mentioned talking about self in third person.

I used to work for a pathologist--he was from an old Southern family. His wife was a hoot. She always talked about him in third person.

"Doctor Walker and I went out to dinner last night. The doctor order prime rib while I had pork loin. Ask Doctor Walker to tell you about the evening."

(FYI, I changed the doc's name. It was not Walker.)

Either Mrs. "Walker" had a major quirk or liked letting people know her hubby was a doc. :)

Lane Hill House said...

No Place Like Home ~*~ hope ms is published!
I am a black-ink person!

I just want to win one of your books, or two or three...

Kathleen lanehillhouse[at]centurylink[dot]net

Ganise said...

LOL, the talking to animals thing!
I actually HATE flies, (especially that buzz they do when they're close to your ears.. ugh!) So in the summer when I happen to see one and it quickly goes in hidding.. Me (chasing after it): 'come on out like real fly!'
Also funny is the thing about, people forgetting others' names and off-key singing! *grin*.
Debby,I see the adressing in third person factor, often among Pastor's wife. (Especially in some historical novels). But, Julie, I'm with you on not over using the quirks, in a story.
And I saw the video... so you play Spoons by wacking others on the head?? I guess sometimes, when I'm REALLY into a game. ;-)

Donna said...

I am a blue ink person. I was just wondering if we all have the same mentality.
Mine is that I think my handwriting looks better when I write with blue ink. Is that why you'll prefer black?

Lyndee said...

Happy Birthday Jan and Jennifer!

Julie, another tutorial of invaluable information. The excerpts are effective examples. Thanks so much for including those. They show, not tell :) how to tweak dialog and scenes. I need that pounded in my head!

Quirks are such an interesting parts of a character. They make the character more real and tangible and when I find a character like that, I have a tendency to not want to finish reading the book because I don't want them to go away with The End.

Anonymous said...

Hey Julie,

AWESOME post!!!! Its fun thinking of the quirks I and my family and friends have. Many were mentioned but I have a few. My dad bites the frames of his reading glasses and when he's deep in thought jumps around the room. My sister drives me nuts by playing with anything that is on her wrist. I pull my lips when in thought and also you know how pens have the little button you push to open and close? I push it constantly up and down. I also have a friend who can move his eyebrows up and down in synchronization.

Can NOT wait for ALS to come out.

Jacinta Rose Swindell

Ausjenny said...

Jackie mum is the one who use to do it with her teeth and it drove me mad.

CatMom said...

WOW Julie!! This is an awesome post, and one I needed. I'm in the process of making some of my characters more endearing, believable, and yes--quirky. So I sure appreciate the list you shared today. Hmmm...I think this is going to the front of my Keeper files *smile*. Hugs, Patti Jo
p.s. Happy B'day to Jan and anyone else having a birthday! Enjoy my Georgia Peach Cobbler right out of the oven. :)

Stephanie Queen Ludwig said...

LOVE this list, Julie!

I didn't see it on here, but my brother's sister-in-law hates eating things with her fingers, so she always has a fork handy. ALWAYS. She'll eat French fries, sandwiches, anything finger-food with a fork. She carried it with her in her purse.

Julie, I, too, sleep with one foot out of bed when I'm hot. Another foot quirk is always washing my feet before going to bed, especially after wearing sandals all day. Dirty feet in bed are gross!

Ganise said...

Jacinta Rose Swindell is such a gorgeous name! :)
Here's a crazy thought that came to my mind. *grin*
Sorry, but I'm dying to see some answers.. (Speaking of the hero afraid to throw up)
What do you usually do when you're afraid?
Julie, I remember this post about how your daughter got you to ride a roller-coaster (is it?) And then you had an iron-grip on her and later on forced her to sing Amazing Grace while you repeated 'In Jesus' Name' over and over again. THAT was definitely a LOL one!
I remember this time when I got into a scary house with some friends (ouh, anybody else?) I screamed and gasped practically at every minute, while holding on to my poor good friend like my life depended on it. I'm also scared of heights, which is why I sympatize with you on the roller-coaster thing (I NEVER got on one).



Ausjenny said...

I will try again. last comment got lost cos the browser shut down.

On biting the lip. I tend to bite my lip, inside of the cheek by accident at times (my bite keeps moving) Once I do it once the tongue keeps going there and I tend to keep biting the spot a bit. not so much a nervous issue it just happens.

One quirk I have with food and I know others with it way worse is when i have a roast or veggies or salad none of the foods can touch. like if I have a roast with potato, peas and carrots each has its on spot but cant touch the next food. I dont have gravy. if the peas and carrots are cooked together they can be together but not touching the other foods. Its a quirk that I admit to having. (like clicking my fingers).

On me. I am taking it one day at a time. yesterday I saw mother but went with another lady visiting her mum and who stays no more than 15 mins. I Told mum didn't have much time and told her some of what has happened. She knows now how weak I am and that I could have died but she knows I am doing better. She is also content knowing the neighbours will look after me. (One of the neighbours is mums dr so that makes her feel good). I had to leave when she started in on her issues. I just cant handle that (it brings me down at the best of times). we then went to the chemist to get some anti nausia meds. I have been feeling sicker each day since Sunday and yesterday just couldn't take it anymore. The meds worked. Then thanks to some wonderful friends I was sent money for a microwave. I know the owner of the shop (he lived over the road growing up) Instead of getting the smallest one he gave me a discount on the next size up, taking $25 of the price so I got it for the price of the other one. I am so grateful to these Ladies.
I came home exhausted. I am sleeping better. I am still really tired. I see the dr today. It is frustrating not being able to do more but I am doing better than I was. I know going to the dr will wear me out.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Vince, I love the one about if everyone has a quirk, then the one without a quirk is a quirk in itself...

Karen White did this brilliantly in Falling Home, one of her early novels. The heroine (similar to Sweet Home Alabama) had put all the rustic Southern ways behind her to be big city East Coast career woman...

So she stuck out like a sore thumb even though she was "coming home"... great job of morphing her back to the Southern Belle of her roots throughout the book. I always use that book as a guideline for how to make a character truly stand out amongst other strong characters. Great examples, Vince!

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Sighing drives me crazy. So my characters almost never sigh because I'll back-hand them.

They fight sighs. They bite back sighs. They refuse to sigh because SIGHING DRIVES ME CRAZY!!!!

So that's MY quirk.

Some of my snarkiest characters SIGH when they need attention, like Evelyn Calhoun in A Family to Cherish. And the reason I let her sigh is because I'm showing that she's a snippy old self-absorbed drama queen... ;)

In the nicest sense of the word, of course!!!

Quirks.... Love 'em, Jules!

Julie Lessman said...

OH MY ... I got SO lost in my edits for Marcy and Patrick's prequel that I forgot where I was (other than Boston 1895, that is), and by the time I realized it, I had to go pick my granddaughter up to babysit, so FORGIVE me for being AWOL most of the afternoon!!

VINCE!!! Do any ring true??? Are you kidding -- all of them do!! Your comment is a blog unto itself, my friend, and I may just print IT off to keep, so thorough is your thought process!! You never cease to amaze me, truly, and I'm wondering if we shouldn't just make you a Seeker and have you do a couple blogs a month!!

One of my favorites of your many wonderful points is #5 -- responses to given quirks should change as the relationship changes. (Quirks should mirror the emotional status of the relationship). What was once annoying might become adorable or vice versa."

WOW, that certainly deepens the effect of the quirk, no question, and shamefully, I only remember doing that once in my books, when Katie O'Connor not only hates Cluny McGee as a kid, but she hates freckles, which, of course, is all poor, spindly Cluny is -- one big freckle, it seems. However, after she realizes that she loves and lost him, suddenly she tears up over the loss of those very freckles she has come to love along with the man.

I also find # 12 -- "a quirk may trigger a quirk in a second character. Just as yawning can cause others to yawn"VERY interesting and would be curious to hear an example.

Audra said my mind is a dangerous place to be, but I think my pales next to yours, my friend!!


Pam K. said...

I really enjoyed your post, Julie, since I love quirky characters in books. However, I read your self characteristics that you called quirks and found several I could identify with. I thought we were just normal, not quirky!


Jessica Nelson said...

LOL Great examples and list!!! I adore quirky characters. They're the best. :-)

Julie Lessman said...

DONNA!!! Now THAT definitely shows a competitive quirk with you diving on top of him ... either that or a romantic one!! ;)

Oh, and I LOVE it when people butcher sayings ... like Ziva David on NCIS -- soooo cute!! Kind of like me botching Mr. Darcy's name above ...

COURTNEY ... me, too, sweetie!! When I think of the most memorable quirky characters, it's ones like Colombo with his rumpled trenchcoat or Ziva on NCIS who butchers words. I just flat-out LOVE quirky people!


Anonymous said...

Oh my gosh, Julie, what a SUPER post. This is one I'll need to read several times for it all to sink in. One of the things I will remember about a book long after I'm "iffy" about the plot is a character's quirks. I like using them in my work ... the more unexpected the better (like a western marshal trying to establish law and order who can't stand loud noises -- like gunfire).

Thanks, again for all the info.

Nancy C

Julie Lessman said...

MELANIE SAID: "But I think what makes your characters so memorable, Julie, is that they each have a couple of quirks, and they stay true to character the entire book. You are really good at memorable characters, Julie."

MEL,you couldn't give me a nicer compliment, my friend, because I work really hard to make each of my characters unique, especially the heroes since I have so many of them and I want each to have his own personality and draw.

And, WOW, Mel, I cannot WAIT to read your retelling of Snow White. Something tells me it's going to be your best book yet, and that's saying something, my friend!

And, MEL, you said: "I hate when I win and I see the look of disappointment on the other person's face! Especially if I'm gloating!"

Gosh, you are SO much nicer than me, girlfriend, because I am a terrible gloater, especially with my hubby when we play UNO with my Aunt Julie in the nursing home. Keith refuses to give her "draw four" cards, but I'm ashamed to say, I do sometimes give them to her. But mostly I save them for him, and I grin like a monkey every single time. He always gives me a mock scowl and says, "so who's going to do your newsletter next month???" ;)


Whitney said...

It's good to be back! I feel like I'm coming home on Seekerville. : ) If any of you have been wondering where I've been, well... I've been busy!! But it's great to return, and I hope to squeeze the time in to do it like before. : )

Julie, we used to play Spoons when I was a kid. Fun game! But really, do children need another excuse to roughhouse at the table?! :p

I love character quirks! I will definitely keep your list for inspiration, Julie. : ) Please enter me for a chance to win a Julie-book. : )


Julie Lessman said...

Uh-oh, DEB H ... you and I sound a lot alike, which isn't necessarily a compliment, darlin'!! ;) Seriously, your quirks make you sound very interesting to me, and YES, Mary is definitely Queen of Quirk, so I'm glad you agree!!

Oh, MARY, I sooooo know people like that and actually love them to pieces because nothing is better than a song for everything you say, in my opinion!!

LOL, JENNIFER, your mom sounds soooo cute -- I just want to hug her!!


Julie Lessman said...

LOL, ABBI, that is SO cute how you mimick quirks. Wish I could have seen your face, kiddo.

And that video clip is GREAT -- thanks for sharing!! Never played Spoons like that, but I'd like to! :)

JILLIAN!!! Oh, I'd kill to hear your hubby sing a song, darlin', and move over on the flashes, kiddo -- you got plenty of company on this blog!! ;)

JACKIE, I'm jealous!!! I miss Rhett and Scarlett, but then I get so busy with Mitch and Charity, that I forget about GWTW!! :)


Mary Connealy said...

This is a life changing moment.

Julie Lessman said...

GANISE!!! Always love your smiling face, darlin' (even though I don't see it because I still always envision you!!).

And "wearing the same outfit, all week long"??? You been spying on me, girlfriend??? I usually wear the same jean shorts all week with the same flip-flops and sometimes the same tank top for several days since NOBODY SEES ME BUT HUBBY!!! Poor guy!!

DEBBY, LOL!!! GREAT story about Doc Walker and his wife -- TOO CUTE!!

KATHLEEN, you certainly are due, darlin', on a win, so GOOD LUCK this time around, my friend!!


Julie Lessman said...

GANISE ... you're talking to flies now, are you? Now I KNOW we'd get along because I talk to bees ... right before I whack 'em!! And believe it or not, the video is NOT the Spoons game that I'm talking about. Mine is actually a card game, and I just used it in a scene in Marcy and Patrick's prequel today, as a matter of fact and also used it in Steven's story, so can you tell I like it???

Hey, DONNA -- you know, I don't actually know WHY I prefer black, but I do. I think because it's stronger and bolder and God knows I love BOLD!! ;)

LYNDEE, I'm with you on missing characters I like at the end of a book, which is why I like series so much and WHY I write them the way that I do -- with subplots for the prior heroes and heroines. But A Love Surrendered (the last installment in the O'Connor saga) was a killer because I know I won't be seeing these characters all together again for a long time, if ever. Sniff. :(


Julie Lessman said...

Whoa, JACINTA, you've got some family quirks there, girlfriend -- how fun!! But your dad truly jumps around the room when he's thinking??? That I'd like to see for sure!! OH, and the pen pushing??? YES ... I LOVE that!! Thanks for your enthusiasm for ALS, sweetie -- I hope you like it as much as I do!!

PATTI JO, you are MORE than welcome, darlin', and I am thrilled I could help with your quirks, but did you have to mention peach cobbler??? It's my FAVE and now I'm hungry ... AND on a diet!!

WOW, STEPH, you are one clean little thing, aren't you?? I don't quite go the length of washing my feet at night unless I work in the garden with my flip-flops because my feet get black from the mulch, but it sounds like a good idea! Your SIL and her fork are too cute!! Just hearing that makes me like her, so see how fun quirks are???


Julie Lessman said...

Okay, GANISE, you're starting to scare me because we are WAY too much alike, girlfriend!! I SOOOO relate to you clinging to your poor friend in the spook house, because I would SO do something like that. Plus, whenever I'm on a scary ride (not often, I can tell you!!), I scream "Mom" over and over again at the top of my lungs till my daughter laughs her head off. Sad, isn't it??

AUSJENNY ... glad you got the nausea taken care of, girl, AND that you are sleeping better. Soooo thrilled you got a microwave -- YAY!!! Still praying for you, sweetie, so onward and upward, my sweet friend!!

RUTHY SAID: "Sighing drives me crazy. So my characters almost never sigh because I'll back-hand them."

ROTFLOL!!! Oh, man, Ruthy, you must HATE my books because my characters sigh even more than they kiss, which is saying something. I am QUEEN OF SIGHS, unfortunately, so I guess that makes me a "a snippy old self-absorbed drama queen," which I'd say is pretty dead on!! ;)


Julie Lessman said...

Hey, PAM, well, I suppose you could say we are "normally quirky," eh?? Glad we have some quirks in common, my friend, one of which is we both ADORE romance, right???

JESSICA, I sooooo agree -- I "adore" them, too, both in books AND in real life!!

NANCY C!!! The marshall who can't stand loud gunfire is a HOOT!!! Very clever, my friend!


Julie Lessman said...

WHITNEY!!!! Gosh, girl, we've missed you, truly!! Soooo good to see you back and hope all okay.

You said: "But really, do children need another excuse to roughhouse at the table?!"

LOL ... nope, not at all, but the sad part is I didn't learn to play Spoons till I was an adult ... but in my defense, I do still act like a child when I'm playing it ... :)

MARY CONNEALY SWAHILI ... I like it!! Sounds like a perfect pen name for a mystical book.


Nancy Kimball said...

Agreed, Whitney, WELCOME BACK!

Julie, I made this page JUST FOR YOU so you know what I competitor I am. By the way, my friend's husband whose trying to take that spoon from me is a COP! (And if anyone whose never seen a game of spoons, this is what one looks like. =)

Nancy Kimball said...

I really meant who's. It's been a long day. :-p I'm going to have to start having my crit partners check my comments first!
Those pics are from 2009. And yes, I've lost weight, hehe.

Julie Lessman said...

NANCY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Love, love, LOVE the pics, you vicious, little thing!! And I thought I was competitive -- you make me look like a wimp next to you!!

Thanks for sharing those pix and taking the time and trouble to post them on a special Seeker page -- you are SUCH a hoot, my friend!!


Nancy Kimball said...

Julie Lessman and wimp do not belong in the same sentence. =)
You're welcome. It was fun to stroll down memory lane.

Julie Lessman said...

AW, NANCE, I knew I liked you, girl!! But Julie Lessman and "quirk" definitely, do, eh?? Sounds like I can add you to that list too, I'm thinkin' ... ;)


Ganise said...

LOL!! Julie you are simply hilarious.
Have a good night sweet friend! (And to all of Seekerville) :-)

Can you hear the applauds, Jules? This was a great post, writen by a SUPERB woman!

Nancy Kimball said...

Oh yeah. For sure. Julie Lessman and quirk are like Luke and peppermint lifesavers. THOSE belong together. =)

Julie Lessman said...

Hey, GANISE ... you have a good night, too, darlin' -- love ya to pieces, my friend!


Julie Lessman said...

LOL, NANCE ... AMEN to that!!

Hugs and more hugs,

Jocelyn Green said...

Fantastic post, Julie! I've been looking forward to this one and you did not disappoint! I'm about to "interview" all my characters for novel #2 and I will definitely ask them about their quirks. :)

Julie Lessman said...

JOSS!!! Sooo glad you came by, my friend, and yes, DO ask them about their quirks because a quirky character is a happy character, right? ;)

See you here next week, girlfriend!


Walt Mussell said...

Julie, I've been waiting to get to this all day as it's something I need to improve on in my writing.

In one of my manuscripts, my heroine pulls at thumbs when she's nervous. The hero stutters when he's nervous.

I've always thought of you as the Queen of quirk.

All M&M's are important (and there's not chocolate in my house at the moment, so I really mean it).

Ausjenny said...

tomorrow I have to have a heap of blood tests. The dr could see I was dizzy and tested for the virtigo and a few other things. I have to drink at least double what I am at the moment. which is fun!
I just used the microwave for the first time and it worked well.
Oh I have to have a hearing test too due to ringing in the ear and other issues.

Angi said...


Love the pic of you! And also all of the examples of quirks (that one of Charity and the cracker crumbs still cracks me up every time I read it). Great post today. Here are two quirks involving food that I didn't see. Someone who doesn't like to have their food touching on their plate (for instance, mashed potatoes and corn), and then, someone who eats one course at a time before moving to the next. And in case you're wondering if I know someone like that, I do. Me. ;)


Virginia said...

left a whole long gonna shorten it....that may be quirky
spoons..serious...neighbor lost fake nails

guy friend played in college..with cards and guys at one end of hall, spoons at the other.....whew

and tada...going to watch Katie Perry today with young girls and me and mom yelling louder than the girls did!!!!! Go Katie.....

Andi said...

Love, love, love spoons! During a game with our single's group before I got married chairs were not only toppled, my good friend Tracy slid across the table! So much fun!
Love quirks! How about must listen to music while going to sleep, twirls hair when bored or nervous.

:) Huggs My friend!

Julie Lessman said...

WALT ... thumb-pulling!! Now there's a new one on me, but I like it! Now that I think of it, I seem to remember seeing someone do that once, and it's a perfect indicator of nerves, I think, so good for you!! Was the hero a stutterer as a child? Or does he just do it when he's nervous? And do you portray it humorously or not?

LOL ... glad you have always thought of me as "Queen of Quirk," but I do believe Mary owns that title. Now ... Queen of Quirky Authors??? Yeah, you might have me there on that one! ;)

And no chocolate in the house??? YIKES ... that's like saying there's no air in mine!!


Julie Lessman said...

Boy, JENNY, you're testing up a storm, my friend!! Saying one all comes out well. And drink WHAT??? Water ... or soda ... or wine??? Ha! I could see how that could be fun ...

As far as the ringing in the ears, let me know if they have a solution, okay? I have locusts and crickets buzzing in my ears ALL YEAR LONG!!

Hang in there, darlin' ... you're on the mend, I hope!


Julie Lessman said...

Oh, ANG -- GREAT QUIRK about food not touching!! Ausjenny actually mentioned that, too, and it's a good one. I think mostly kids do that, or at least I did. I would eat only one thing at a time and did not want peas touching mashed potatoes or gravy or anything else. My mom always used to yell at me, saying I should mix my food because it tasted better that way, but not to kids!! Thanks for the compliment on the pic -- my hubby actually Photoshopped that spoon on me -- I'm not that talented, trust me!! :)


Vince said...

Hi Julie:

I’m just getting back online.

Thanks for all your nice comments. You are all so special I can’t imagine there would ever be another Seeker. Tina is very generous in allowing me to guest blog. I am well pleased.

You did ask for an example of one quirk triggering another quirk in a second character.

I have a real example of an old boss I once had. He actually had medals make up, bronze and ribbons, with the word ‘martyr’ on them. When people would complain he would award them a martyr metal to wear.

And for drama queens, he had one inch high, keychain type, Oscar statues. When someone drama queened, he’d give them an Oscar for their performance. This absolutely infuriated his young daughters. They wanted to be taken seriously.

I had not thought of this for years. Feel free to use any version of this in a story. How about a one inch violin to play accompaniment for a sob story?

Quirks offer an endless array of possibilities. I’ve been to SF many times. I can’t wait to see how you see the city.

Does your new story take place before the earthquake?


Julie Lessman said...

VIRGINIA!!! Oh, I just HATE that when you write a ton and lose it!!! That actually happened to me this morning, too, on this blog, so I was ticked. Thanks for bothering to do it again, my friend and the neighbor losing fake nails??? HA!! hat's one on me! :)

Hope Katie Perry is fun -- now there's a quirky gal if ever there was!!


Julie Lessman said...

ANDI!!! Now THAT'S a Spoons game, girl!! I bet you would be a lot of fun at Spoons, kiddo, because you have such a fun personality. And do YOU twirl hair when you're bored or nervous??? Because if so, if you twirl while reading my books, I sure hope it's not boredom doing it ... :|

Hugs right back, my friend!!


Julie Lessman said...

WOW, VINCE ... your boss sounded like a hoot ... AND very creative!!

The Heart of San Francisco does take place before the earthquake (1906) because frankly, I'm not huge on research, and I felt the earthquake would be a wee bit too much to study and not real uplifting for a romance novel, you know? So my stories take place in 1902 for Love at Any Cost, then 1903 for book 2 and 1904 for book 3. How's that for cutting it close???

My editor actually lived in San Francisco for many years, and she thanked me for portraying her city so well, so hopefully you will think I did too. But to be honest, I don't think there's all that much SF stuff in there, but she did, so that's good. :)

Have a great evening, Vince!


Cathy Gohlke said...

What a fabulous list of quirks and a great posting, Julie! Here are some from of members of my family and people I've known:
*Always makes a "swimming pool" in mashed potatoes, fills with gravy and floats peas
*Eats food in a clockwise pattern round the plate, finishing one food at a time
*A nervous tic that shows up through a slight jerking of the head when under stress
*Picks all the nuts out of a new carton of ice cream
*Can't resist "shooting" watermelon seeds
*Purses lips when considering something
Not beautiful--but quirks!

Ladette Kerr said...

Gosh, all the ones I can think of, you all have already named!

My oldest girl is a nail-biter/leg shaker.

My middle girl is a hair twister.

My oldest son is a sniffer.

My younger son.... too young to know.

My youngest girl...too young to know.

My husband stutters when he gets excited/nervous. He also twists his beard hair.

I doodle.


Emily said...

Hey Julie!!!!

I absolutely LOVE this post! Eeep! Makes me excited just thinking about it. I am a writer in training and I am all about the little details in books. I love a good character quirk to make a story even better!

I was wondering, though, is your upcoming e-book up for grabs here too? I'm so excited to read all about Marcy and Patrick's story!



Pat Dyer said...

Wow, what a great post, especially for us newbie writers. I learned a LOT. Thank you so much!

Julie Lessman said...

CATH!!!! Soooo fun to see you here, my friend, and love, love, LOVE the quirks, especially the swimming pool with peas -- TOO CUTE!!! Quirks are never too "beautiful," I don't think, but OH, so fun and interesting, right??

Thanks for coming by, you sweet thing!!


Julie Lessman said...

LOL, LADETTE ... I'd say you guys qualify as a "quirky" family, which is my favorite kind!! Kinda like the O'Connors, if you know what I mean. :) Can't wait to see what those two youngest kiddos come up with!!


Julie Lessman said...

EMILY!!! You bet, sweetie -- for you? Absolutely I will include Marcy and Patrick's prequel, but it will only be an e-book, which I presume is fine with you???

And hanging out in Seekerville for a "writer in training" is SOOO smart because this is a very talented and experienced group of gals, so you will learn A LOT!!

Good luck in the contest, my friend!


Julie Lessman said...

PAT!!! I am SO glad you learned "a lot" because that's what Seekerville is all about -- passing on all the stuff we learned on our road to publication, so thanks for coming by and GOOD LUCK in the contest!!


Karen Lange said...

Thanks so much for sharing this. I think I need to bookmark it! :)

Emily said...

Thanks so much, Julie! YES, an e-book is fine! As long as I can download it onto my computer, we're all good! hehe!

And,yes, Seekerville is awesome! I learn a lot of cool things about writing for sure. I always say I'm not a surface reading, so most of the stuff I read on here kinda goes with that. I guess always looking further into a story comes with being a writer...I can't help it in a sense. lol!

Jeffrey and Tiffany said...

That list of quirks is huge!! All the ones that I could think of were on the list. I did think of my Dad's quirk which is to smack his gum or blow bubbles and them pop them with a smack. I look forward to looking for some of these quirks in your books. :)

Another note...I love playing spoons and have many war wounds from the game. :) I love playing it but my hubby hates it because he is so slow at it.

Sandy said...

Thanks for sharing all the quirks. Some made me laugh! One of my quirks is playing with my wedding ring. It's a wrap style so I move the diamond band in and out or twist it sometimes. It sometimes drives me crazy! Or at least my finger. :)

Natasha Kern - Literary Agent said...

Julie, your quirks--your enthusiasms and energy and emotions are very endearing! I, too, had never heard of spoons! And not sure I want to jump into the fray. My family gets blood thirsty over Scrabble! One of my quirks: one square of chocolate after meals. Being a health nut! Reading late at night! Using too many exclamation points in emails!! Great post, Julie and loved the photo.

DebbieLynne said...

Awesome information here, Julie! I love quirks. So much fun. Hint on brown M&M's close your eyes and picture blue. It works every time. heehee

Missy Tippens said...

Julie, I'm sorry I missed yesterday! But thanks for this wonderful list of quirks!!

Julie Lessman said...

Yep, EM, you'll be able to download it to a computer, but I'm also thinking I will do a Kindle giveaway as well, so who knows -- maybe you win that AND the e-prequel!! ;)


Julie Lessman said...

Hey, KAREN ... bookmark away, sweetie, that's what we're here for and GOOD LUCK in the contest!!


Julie Lessman said...

TIFF ... gum-smacking!!! Oh, man, I forgot about that one, and I even used it in A Hope Undaunted for the flapper secretary!!

And war wounds from Spoons??? Oh, honey -- you're my kind of gal!! ;)


Julie Lessman said...

SANDY, that's a GREAT quirk!! I've seen it a lot, so it's definitely one that would relate a great image to a reader. I'll have to use it in my next book ... :)

Thanks for coming by and GOOD LUCK!!


Julie Lessman said...

NATASHA!!!!!!!! Oh, it's SO fun to see you here -- thanks for coming by!!

And too many exclamation points is a quirk????? I think not -- it's just a clear-cut indicator of passion, right??? Besides ... it's only one of the MANY, MANY reasons I love you! ;)

Yeah, you're too gentle for Spoons, I'm afraid. But put you in the ring with an editor??? We're talking a machetti, my friend!! ;)


Julie Lessman said...

DEBBIE, NOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!! I could never deceive myself that way because deep down I would know ... ;)


Julie Lessman said...

Thanks, MISSY, but go ahead and say it -- the biggest "quirk" on that list is the gal who wrote it ... :)


Suzanne Krein said...

A few quirks I have used:

Sharlynn, the main character in one of my novels, has panic attacks often brought on by claustrophobia. Very inconvenient since she is forced to remain in a space suit for several days!

I had to soften Sharlynn's panic attack quirk a bit by making her very capable at fixing glitches in the ship's computers and by giving her a journal as an outlet for some of her panic.

Jen, a character in my WIP, squirms and fidgets when she has something to say. Most people don't notice it and Jen doesn't realize she does it, but her sister always picks up on it.

Susi, the main character in the novel I most recently finished and in my WIP, loves lilies because her name means lily. She seeks them out when she's sad. They also pop up in some very interesting ways in the story. :)

I LOVED your quirks list! I hope to use these as a springboard for some fun quirks in my characters! :)

Rachelle said...

This was such a hoot to read. By the way, thank you so much for including that snippet from A Passion Redeemed. It reminded me how much I had adored the first book, so I just went to Amazon and ordered the second one. :)

Suzanne Krein said...

Guess I should post a few of my own personal quirks!

I love to wear socks that go along with an occasion (Patriotic, Christmas, and so on).

My marshmallows must catch fire and be blown out when I make s'mores. (My daughter caught this quirk from me!)

I always wear a certain necklace and earring set when I write for a certain character. (The jewelry has her name!)

I have a lot of silk Stargazer Lilies because Susi likes them--I even got bulbs for the real ones!

Just a few--I'm sure I'll think of more. :)

Julie Lessman said...

SUZANNE -- Oh, I LOVE your quirks too, my friend -- just hearing them makes me like your characters and I don't even know them!! :) And the lilies??? I SO love Easter lilies so that quirk reallllly entices me as well!!


Julie Lessman said...

Aw, RACHELLE, you are just THE BEST!! Thank you SO much for ordering APR -- it happens to be my FAVORITE of the Daughters of Boston books because Charity and Mitch are SO MUCH FUN as a couple, along with Katie and Luke, of course from A Hope Undaunted (Winds of Change series).

Let me know if you like it, okay? And if not?? Uh ... never mind! ;)


Julie Lessman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Julie Lessman said...

OMIGOSH, SUZANNE -- LOVE the socks and jewelry quirks!!! ESPECIALLY the jewelry, dressing up to write a particular character -- what a hoot!!

Mmmm ... makes me want to do that the next time I write a scene with Charity in it, only that means I'll have to put makeup on and wear something sexy ... ;)


Anonymous said...

What I great post. I printed it out for future use.


Anna Labno

Ann Lee Miller said...

Oh, geez. I think my characters have too many quirks. My editor says I have to work on making my them more likeable! Maybe I should share the wealth and give some of my quirks away to the needy?

Anonymous said...


I printed your post as well.

Sometimes, I do believe that quirks are overdone.

I sense them as repetitions sometimes that seem to give childish tone in prose.

But I love of using quirks for humor! So, it's important for me to give a quirk some singnificance than just be there. if not used wisely a guirk might become annoying as saying she gazed, using the same phrase over and over again until it raises a read flag.


Anna Labno

I'm writing about a child who's abused. She has a lot of time for herself. So I have her rocking a lot when she's sitting. When in thought she rocks slowly. When in blish, she rocks hard to the sound of the music.

Anonymous said...

One of my quirks. Not proof reading before posting!!!
I write fast and then press send without giving thought what I have written. Also, I act on impulse. I tend to respond right away before cooling down.

I always wear socks when I come home, almost never sleep without them.

Another quirk, using skin of vegetables to help the skin. A great one to use in humor.
I do pick nails a lot, go over their curves. LOL

I look down when nervous, don't hold an eye contact and so on.:)

Alexandra said...

This was so helpful to me! I'm in the process of finishing my first draft of a novel and I think this will help me flesh my characters out immensely as I move on to the editing stage of the project. I love your writing style too - so personal and down-to-eart despite the fact that you're a published author! It is very inspiring and I hope to be able to help readers some day the way your advice helps me.

Alexandra said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
DebbieLynne said...

LOL!Okay, you send me the brown and I'll send you the blue. but you have to throw in a few yellow every now and then.

pol said...

Ahh Julie I missed ya yesterday, hope it is ok to comment today, I loved to read about all the zany things you wrote about. I am with you -it makes them memorable.
I feel sometimes folks are cut-ups to cover up how they truly feel and to get noticed.
Love to be in your drawing for book if I am not too late, I will roll my eyes and dance a jig if I win...
Paula O(

Janet Kerr said...

This is fantastic Julie,
You always give great information.
Thanks so much!

marybelle said...

I love quirky. To me it just screams of personality.


Julie Lessman said...

Hey, ANNA, thanks SO much, my friend!!

And I totally agree with you that quirks can be overdone. In fact, I just went through my ms. and cut out about half of the heroine's quirks of glazing her teeth with her tongue because although my mom did it ALL the time, it gets old in a book for sure!!


Julie Lessman said...

Hey, ANNA, thanks SO much, my friend!!

And I totally agree with you that quirks can be overdone. In fact, I just went through my ms. and cut out about half of the heroine's quirks of glazing her teeth with her tongue because although my mom did it ALL the time, it gets old in a book for sure!!


Julie Lessman said...

Aw, ALEXANDRA, thank you SOOO MUCH!!! What a sweet comment, my friend! And I am so very glad I could help you out -- that's what Seekerville is all about, after all, encouraging, helping and praying for each other on the road to publication!!


Julie Lessman said...


Now won't you drop your jaw when you open up a box of brown M&Ms six months down the road!!

Hugs and more hugs,

Julie Lessman said...

Hey, PAULA, you bet -- you're in the drawing, girlfriend, so YAY!! And I do believe I'd love to see a video of you rolling your eyes and dancing a jig if you win, so GOOD LUCK!! ;)


Julie Lessman said...

Thanks SO much, JANET -- appreciate your sweet comment! I will admit that I get made fun of a lot here on Seekerville because I'm a little on the verbose side when I do my blogs, but I do like to load 'em up with info if I can. :)

Good luck in the contest, sweetie!


Julie Lessman said...

Oh, I'm with you, MARYBELLE!!! Give me quirky any day over normal because life is WAY too short for boring!! :)

Besides, "quirky" IS "normal" for me, so what can I say???


Anonymous said...

I find your list of quirks quite interesting. As I retired teacher, I look back on my students and fellow teachers and remember many quirks. To make sure I'm listening carefully, I hold a pen in my hand, whether I write anything or not. It's like plugging me in! I've seen a male student who always pulled his uniform pants up to his knees when he was sitting in class. An administrator would clip her fingernails during a guest lecture--very annoying! One grandson always hums (in tune) while he's thinking.
Kaye Whitney

Julie Lessman said...

Hey, KAYE, WOW ... I bet you could make your own list of quirks as a retired teacher, my friend!! LOVE the pen quirk, although I totally agree--the nail clipper would drive me up the wall!!

Thanks for coming by and GOOD LUCK in the contest!


MelissaB said...

Just love your books! You have a fun personality. Would love to win the new book coming up.

Julie Lessman said...

Aw, thanks, MELISSA!! I do have a crazy personality, but would you believe I am a loner??? I like to joke that I am a recluse who has the misfortune of having an outgoing personality, because I could honestly just sit on my lower deck day and night, writing ... if my husband would let me!! Fortunately, he -- and some very determined friends -- drag me out on occasion!! ;)

Thanks for coming by and GOOD LUCK in the contest!!


Rachelle said...

It's your favorite? Wow! Now I know I'm going to love it. :)

Julie Lessman said...


I think I posted my comment to Anna twice instead of posting one to you since you followed her in sequence!!

You said: "Maybe I should share the wealth and give some of my quirks away to the needy?"

LOL ... you and me both, darlin' -- we could open up shop!! ;)


Julie Lessman said...

RACHELLE ... well, I HOPE you love it, but I am a big fan of Charity and her quirks, which is why I loved it so much. And then there's Mitch, of course ... hubba, hubba!!! I honestly love Mitch SO much in this book that I could read it over and over and over again, truly. And have!! ;)

Happy reading, my friend!


Barbara Shelton said...

This whole bunch of commenters is QUIRKY! I've been laughing so hard that my stomach hurts and I'm sure I wet my panties. I've always loved Julie's quirks....she can cause me to lose my breath when I'm laughing at her antics....I love all of this. I hope you are all attending the ACFW Convention....cause I'm going and I can't wait to meet others who are as quirky as I am. LOL Julie, if I'm fortunate enough to be a book winner here...I hope to receive your newest one. At my age, I can't remember if I've been able to keep up with the speed you're publishing them. You keep going, girl!

Love ya,
Barb Shelton
barbjan10 at tx dot rr dot com

Julie Lessman said...

BARB!!!! Sooooo good to see you here, my friend!! It's great to see your smiling face again.

Regrettably, I will not be attending ACFW this year, which makes me sad, ESPECIALLY if you are going!! Any chance you will go next year to Indy, I hope, because I will be there!

LOL ... I know what you mean about the age thing! I can't keep up with my books either, especially writing them!! ;)

Thanks for coming by and GOOD LUCK in the contest!


Andi said...

I am wicked competitive at spoons and love the game! Never heard of it til I moved to Idaho if you can believe that. :)
Yes, I twirl my hair, have since I was little and my girls do it too. *giggle* Never while I read your books! :)
Please include me in the giveaway!
I am dying for this next installment! I am re-reading A Hope Undaunted if that tells you anything.
Hugs, Andi

Julie Lessman said...

ANDI!!! Hey, girl, thanks for coming by! I have always loved hair-twirling because to me, it's indicative of a shy, sweet type of girl, which believe it or not, I see you as, minus a little of the "shy." :)

Oh, I LOVE AHU -- it's my fave of all my books!! And APR is my second, which I happen to be reading right now. I actually just read APMP for research purposes since I was doing edits on Marcy and Patrick's prequel and wanted to make sure I got the details right, but I LOVE Mitch and Charity so much, that I couldn't resist rereading their book too. :) I actually reread all the books in order right before the next one comes out anyway, so this way I've gotten a head start. :)

Thanks SO much for your enthusiasm and support for my books, my friend -- appreciate it more than I can say ... along with your friendship.


Tiffany Kohler said...

One of my quirks is the sheets on my bed have to be tucked in and straightened before I can go to sleep. Its probably more obsessive than a normal quirk, but oh well.
Thanks for the giveaway!!

Julie Lessman said...

Hey, Tiff, sorry to be so late to respond, but I don't check these much too many days after the date!! But THANK YOU for coming by and taking the time to comment -- ALWAYS appreciated, my friend!


bonnie said...

i know its late, but i just wanted to add my few quirks that i could think of.
-while washing dishes, or doing anything that requires me to stand still for a while, i cross my legs at the ankles. for me, its more comfortable that way because i balance better
-on nights when i cant seem to fall asleep, i rock myself to sleep.
-in resturaunts, before eating, i put a napkin on the table, so i wont dirty it up.
-when in deep thought, i repeatedly tap my pen or pencil against a table.
anyway, those are some of mine...