Monday, December 2, 2013

Creating Characters One Layer at a Time-Layer Two-He has to Gesture, Move, Breathe in Character

Swept Away -- Fired Up -- Stuck Together

I'm writing a series on creating characters. Don't think of this as me telling you how to do it. Instead, why don't you picture us—all of us—on a journey together. We're all wearing pith helmets. Wandering, and perhaps unwisely, today, I'm the one carrying a map.

Maybe we're all hopelessly lost and you keep looking at me. I turn my back to you so you don’t notice that I keep turning the map side to side, top to bottom, checking landmarks, hoping NOW it will make sense.

Yes, at some point we're all hoping someone will come up to us and say, "Dr. Livingstone, I presume?" And guide us to safety.

Until them, I'm writing a blog and to keep you reading it, I'm hiding clues within (X Marks the spot perhaps? Bwahahahahaha) about a prize in the deepest, darkest jungles of this post.

Clue Number One put something in BOLD in your comment…you do this by using this sign <  and the a lower case b  and after the b use this sign > then type whatever, then this again < back slash /  lower case b and this again > to close the bold area. The opening tag appears at the bottom of each comment box but the closing tab with the back slash isn't there. It will look like this, but when you load your comment those > and the b's will vanish and the words will be in BOLD PRINT.

Last time I wrote about How does the Character Looks. You can read about that here.

Today we're talking about how he acts.

And I'm using Matthew Tucker, the hero of my current work in progress, a book so far in the future that honestly it's just stupid to use him.
Tucker is a mountain man and if you want to remember how he looked go ahead and click on the link above and read about him, but he looks like Jeremiah Johnson only cuter and younger. Yes, cuter than Robert Redford, c'mon, this is fiction. That can happen in fiction. Tucker was born in the mountains. He's been raised in those mountains from birth. His mother died when he was about three and his mountain man father took him to his friend's house, another mountain man, to be raised by that man's wife, a Shoshone woman named Sunrise.

Now Tucker is about as tough and savvy as a man can be who's a born and raised mountain man who knows every skill an Indian woman can teach him.

So, Tucker, how to explain how he moves, his gestures? the most important point to make here is, how he looks and how he all has to MATCH. The one has to SUPPORT the other.
I start the book off with a crisis that just goes on a long, long time. Tucker and Shannon, grizzly bear attack, cliff, white water rapids, water fall, cave, broken leg, hike to the surface…yes, on a broken leg. Finally, we get home. Tucker is filthy because the cave was full of coal and now finally things have settled down and it's time for………him to take a bath. (did you see that coming?)

So here I found a good example of Tucker acting in a way I guess I'd call 'normal' that illustrates his character. He's done lots of things, little bits at a time that do this through the beginning but it's hard to pull three words out of a sentence here and there to show that for the purposes of this blog.

So I'll use this, Tucker getting ready for his bath. (I know, that sounds silly, stick with me here, LOL) They've got him back to Shannon's cabin. He's got a broken leg and--he hasn't realized it yet but--he's starting to run a fever. Aaron, the hero from Tried & True, book #1 has been assigned to help him limp to the river on his splinted leg. *Note--When Tucker talks about his guns, he's referring to the fact he lost his rifle and pistol in the river.

Now & Forever

He'd never admit it to a living soul, but it was taking about all he had to stay upright. Tucker wasn't about to complain, but if he was alone, he'd've curled up and gone to sleep right where he was. Instead he started shucking his clothes and of course that always took a while.

            He dropped the knife out of his right sleeve, then his left.

            When they'd abandoned the boot because of splinting his leg, he'd tucked the knife he kept there into his waist band. That went next.

            Then he got the one from his other boot.

            He tossed the whip he always carried on the pile.

            Then his powder horn and the big, ugly cutlass he liked everyone to see, the two of them he wore crisscrossed on his chest. They hit the ground together.

            He had a hide-out blade a little wider than a needle in a reinforced seam in his pant leg. He landed that on top of the others.

            The lack of his pistol as he stripped off his holster was like an itch he couldn’t scratch. His rifle was missing too. He hated the puny pile of weapons.

            "I feel naked."

            "Your clothes are wrecked, Tucker," Aaron said dryly. "And I don't see anything for you to change into. You're gonna be naked."

            Tucker hadn't thought of clothes, they didn't seem as important as his guns, but he reckoned he had to do something. Ma could clean them up, probably. If not, how was he going to get clothes? He only knew one way. He needed to go hunting. Bring down a buck. Skin it and tan the hide, stitch together some pants and a shirt. By the time he did all that, he'd need another consarned bath.

                And he had to do all that work with no gun and a broke leg. Which brought him right back to where he'd started. "I meant I feel naked without my guns. I need to go shopping for a rifle. It's a mighty dangerous world."

Now see, Tucker is a fun character. He doesn't take the world too seriously, for all he's a tough, dangerous man. Anyone who knows Tucker knows to just plain LEAVE HIM ALONE. And that doesn't mean exactly run away terrified of him, it just means, don't mess with him. You be nice to Tucker, he'll be nice to you.

Only an idiot messes with him. But Tucker is also a patient man. He's not 'on the prod' to use a western phrase. He's not looking to put notches in his gun. But when he is faced with trouble, Tucker is ready. He trusts very few people. He mostly stays as far away from people as he can because they confuse him with their strange ways. And especially he finds women confusing.

Especially Shannon Wilde.

However Tucker knows when his fate is sealed. He accepted that when she threw him over a cliff to escape a rampaging mama grizzly. Shannon on the other hand is perfectly fine with fighting her destiny. That makes for some difficult moments.
Now in the comments....this leads us to.....

Clue Number 2 In that bold space I told you to create (and I told you HOW to create) put the name of the character you're working on. OR if you're NOT a writer, you get to play, too, put the name of ANY beloved fictional character in bold letters to get your name in the drawing for a signed copy of my December release. Alaska Brides Collection.

Now put your pith helmet on and tell me how do you MAKE YOUR CHARACTER MOVE IN CHARACTER. Think about it. Tucker can't be anything but a mountain man. Shannon is a woman who wears britches. Aaron is a former Major in the Union Army, that affects how he moves and acts. Think about a character you're writing about (or reading about) Put their name in bold to get in the contest, then tell me HOW THEY MOVE IN CHARACTER.

I will say here that Alaska Brides Collection is an unusually beautifully bound volume.
It would make a lovely Christmas gift.
My book in this collection is Golden Days, so if you're read that before be AWARE!
This is NOT a new release for any of the authors involved.
Also Out of Control, is FREE ON KINDLE AND NOOK
You could consider 'giving' it to your more gullible relatives as a Christmas gift
and hope they never notice what it cost--which would be NOTHING.


  1. I'm game!

    Bunk Jones

    Bunk is the guardian of his orphaned nieces and nephew, and has decided to take them out west to escape the goody-two-shoes society ladies who think he might not be a good uncle to three small children.

    (By the way, this is not an Amish story!)

    Anyway, a big part of Bunk's character is that he believes his brother and sister-in-law's deaths were his fault, because he failed to rescue them from the fire. Never mind that he carries his own, physical scars from that same fire. Never mind that he saved the children and kept them safe. He still feels the guilt.

    Here's how he acts:

    The angel had a name. He nodded in her direction.

    “I’m Bunk…ah, Aloysius Jones.”

    “Well, Mr. Jones, there are dry clothes waiting for you behind that curtain. While you’re changing I’ll dish up some stew for you.” Mrs. MacFarland waved her hand toward the corner of the little cabin where a space had been curtained off.

    Bunk untangled himself from Charlie and Olivia’s arms and ducked behind the curtains. On the small bed were a shirt and trousers, faded and worn, but clean. Bunk unwrapped the icy scarf from around his neck and stripped off his wet clothes. When he pulled on the dry pants, he felt warmer already. He slipped the faded gray shirt over his head, and then paused. The shirt didn’t have a collar, nothing to cover his neck.

    The children had gotten used to the angry red scars left by the burns that had nearly killed him, but these people – that young woman in there – what would they say?

    “Bunk, aren’t you hungry?” Charlie was waiting for him.

    Bunk pulled the collarless shirt up as high as he could and gathered his wet things. He didn’t really have a choice, did he?

  2. I remember Bunk from before, Jan. This is such a great name, just because it's so memorable. I love this, him NOT being able to cover the scars, that being such a part of his character, his thoughts and movements, his guilt, all tied together.

    I already love this book. Is it written? Is it sold? When is it releasing?

  3. Oh, if only you could gift freebie kindles to people. I tried doing that with my novella for somebody but you cain't.

    And I'm supposed to start writing my newest characters today Silas Jonesey and Kate um Something, I think I like Dawson but my baby has been crying for hours, I think he's got a stomach problem, he just fell asleep on my shoulder upright, but I have to keep pounding on his back when he tries to wake to scream some more. So debating whether I should attempt to give him to hubby and shower and just go to bed, or start writing.

    So all that to say, I don't know how they move yet!

  4. Melissa, you can't gift free books to people? Are you sure? I gift ebooks to people I think.

    I thought I did.

    Now I'm not sure.

    Nice work on the bold, btw, Melissa and Jan.

  5. I think I have read most of the stories in Alaska Brides
    I remember reading a Lori wick book and fell for Marshall Griggs he was so like me and wanted the same things I really felt for him.

    Oh now for a shameless plug I have Ruthy on my blog at ""
    she is offering one of her Christmas books in ecopy to a commenter.

  6. pretty sure at least on Amazon, the give as gift button doesn't show up without a price, guess they figure people would spam other people's kindles with free books?

  7. Melissa, I didn't know that. I guess I've never tried to give one. I thought I had, too. Hmmmm

  8. Thanks Mary I tried but it didn't work and then my brain hurt!
    but this week is better than last week still have this insidious thing but I am coping better. napping helps not doing much helps too but am still frustrated.
    PS dont enter me as I have read I think all the stories in the book. I do love Alaska but couldn't live there tooooooooooooooooooo cold

  9. Blake Thompson earned his way to college by playing football. So of course I get to watch football. I grew up with a younger brother and raised two boys. All are athletes. Athletes move with a special grace, in my opinion. They hold their head just so, and their shoulders are almost always straight. Unless their losing really bad.

    BTW did anybody see Knowshon Moreno during the national anthem yesterday. Now there's an awesome football player (and UGA grad) who's not afraid to cry.

    Okay Mary, let's see if my hero's name comes out bold....

  10. Mary it took me three tries, but I got it at last.

    Thanks for the fun game.

  11. MARY I can't believe you are making me work at this hour. sigh. Okay I'm game to learn something new.

    My character names in wip are Greg and Monica

    Great going all of you. JAN I want to read more about Bunk.

  12. Oh it works. Okay, I forgive you, MARY. I really do need to keep on learning.

  13. Great post, MaryC, It's a keeper! I enjoy a book when the characters remain in 'character' throughout the book.
    I've read books that muddled the character about midway—I just read a book that started with the main character a clean speaking guy, but half way through, he begin to use curse words... I didn't like that, and I quit the book.

    And thanks for instructions on doing BOLD! I consider instruction and good info as a free gift—one of the very best! :-)

  14. I said I just Read a book...what I meant was, I started and stopped a book that...

    Thought I'd get in a little practice. :-D

  15. I've always wanted to know how to do the BOLD thing. Thanks for the tip, Mary : )

    I'm wrapping up the next book in the Hawk Ridge series. Zac and Jennifer were childhood sweethearts, but life got in the we all know it can.

    Tucker sounds like a great guy. All your characters stay in character, Mary. I love watching how they grow through their confusion, LOL! Women. I don't see a thing difficult to understand about us : )

  16. Bunk Jones. What an awesome name, Jan!

  17. Can't get the bold to work, maybe later.
    MARY, I love your self-deprecating sense of humor! You self-deprecate better than anyone I know.
    Kathy Bailey

  18. Pace Williams

  19. Oh, okay, it did.
    Pace Williams
    Pace is a former wagonmaster wintering over in the Oregon Territory. Visiting with the woman who will later become his love interest when he hears screams from outside in the settlement.

    "He cocked his head. Was that a scream? Close enough. He bolted from the cabin, with the Moriarty girl on his heels.
    A wagon careened through Hall's Mill's excuse for a town square. A frightened farm wife pulled on the reins of a horse who had been spooked by something. Three big-eyed children huddled in the back. Pace jumped on a mounting block and swung himself on to the seat beside the woman. He grabbed the reins, but the horse did not respond to his grip. He tossed the reins back to the woman, poised himself at the front of the wagon, bent his knees and took a flying leap. He landed on the back of the paint pony and pulled on the bit until it skidded to a stop in the mud.
    "Thank you, sir. Oh, thank you," the woman babbled. The kids now felt free to cry.
    "Wasn't nothing, ma'am. Be careful with this horse in town, some boys got ahold of some firecrackers yesterday. They even spooked me."
    No time to think. That was the way he liked things.
    Oona Moriarty held the door for him. Her face was ashen, but even now she had something to say. "I have never seen anything like that in my entire life."
    Pace shrugged and picked up his still-hot tea. "Your brother can do it faster, and with two horses."
    Praise made him nervous, always had, so he shifted the talk to her.
    “How do you find America?”

    Pace is a former wagonmaster, rancher, logger and stevedore. He can do anything physical, but matters of the human heart, not so much. He had a horrific childhood.

    This is fun...
    Kathy Bailey

  20. The real trouble with explaining how to do BOLD is when you type out those < and / and > and you do it RIGHT the marks all VANISH and the word turns BOLD and all your instructions are invisible.

    It's called html and it's very sneaky. So that image in my blog post is a jpeg I created (because I'm brainy like that) and put in the post to freeze all the < and / and > so you could see them.

    That also took some thinking.

    And now my brain hurts.

  21. Jackie, I like the athlete angle because I can see all sorts of ways for that to come through, in their thinking and movements, their competitive attitudes.

    It could be really fun.

  22. MARY HICKS having your character remain IN CHARACTER is so important.

    These days in so many books they have heroic characters act in unheroic ways and it just doesn't WORK.

    That makes the reader less invested in the story and less in love with the characters.

  23. I like the bold part.

    JUDD MASON computer security analyst

  24. Also that whole < and b and > think, if you change it to < and i and > instead of the b it goes italicized.

    as in italicized

  25. Look at the bottom of the comment box, what does the little 'a' do?

    Let's experiment.

    Merry Christmas

  26. Okay, the 'a' is underlined when you point your cursor at it ONLY, what's the point of that? It makes it look like a live link, sort of, but it's not.

    How about stacking the little html tags.


  27. Tina, you are smart enough to write a computer security analyst.

    I probably am NOT.

  28. Okay, I'm giving this a try, but I had a hard time. Seems like I do a better job at describing my characters through their thought patterns than their movements.

    Danielle Belanger

    Danielle's dad was a smuggler and she grew up on the docks with some rough friends. Then her mom got remarried in The Soldier's Secrets to a man even more dangerous than her biological dad--this man taught her how to use a knife and survive in the woods.

    Fast forward 12 years and Danielle has just been taken captive by some Brits trying to escape France during the Napoleonic Wars. You remember that little introduction with a knife pressed to the servant's throat from last month? Same character, just a little later in the story. Danielle and her younger brother are making their escape from the Brits.

    “Serge, you have to be quieter,” Danielle hissed into the darkness.

    The admonishment did little good. Her brother still clomped behind her, his boots rustling old leaves and snapping twigs.

    ’Twas hardly astonishing the boy had trouble killing a squirrel. The entire forest would hear him coming a full kilometer away. “Please, Serge, you’re going to awaken the English and lead them straight to us.”

    The noise of mud sucking at his feet drowned out her words.

    She rolled her eyes and moved soundlessly behind an ancient maple tree. They’d best just focus on getting away fast—since “quiet” obviously wasn’t going to happen. She surveyed the darkened trees. The clouds that had brought rain and gray skies earlier now blanketed the moon and stars, making the forest so black she struggled to discern trees a meter in front of her. But the darkness would also make following them nigh impossible.

    If not for Serge and his incessant noise.

    He came up beside her, panting. “How do you move so fast in the dark, Dani? I can hardly follow you.”

    “There’s a thick stand of firs several meters ahead.” She reached back to take hold of his wrist, keeping her eyes pinned on the goal ahead. “If we can get there, the English will have no hope of . . .”

    “Finding you?” A hand reached out to grip her upper arm.

    She squealed at the sound of the familiar English voice to her left.

    Okay so, rather than describing Danielle's movements per se, I think you get an idea about how she moves from the manner in which she thinks about her brother's movements. Does that make sense? Or am I just making everything too complicated?

  29. Mary, I'm totally with you on the sneaky html thing. My brain hurts after about two seconds of it. :-(

  30. Jan, I LOVE the name Bunk. In fact, I'm so jealous I kinda want to steal it, but it's such an original name everyone would know I stole it from you. :-/

  31. Mary!!! You taught me how to do bold letters! I'm impressed you made it simple enough for even ME to understand!!! Good job.

    Colin le Wyse is my "Frog Prince." He is very intense and passionate, and also very impulsive. At first he moves fast, often with lots of moaning, since he has a head injury. But as he goes on this journey with the heroine, Margaretha, he learns to not be quite so impulsive and to let go of his thirst for revenge--what he calls justice--and leave room for God's justice. So yes, he moves with confidence, but also intensity and emotion. I'm supposed to have this story finished by the end of December. Uh, yeah. Say a prayer for me.

  32. And my heroine, Margaretha is a flibbertigibbet--yes that was a word in the 1400's--and her movements are pretty much all over the place. She also likes to talk and changes the subject really fast and often. I should probably have her moving her hands a lot when she talks, which is all the time.

  33. Naomi, I like that. I like the quiet sister with her background teaching her those skills and the noisy little brother and I REALLY love the hook ending where she gets grabbed! LOL Now I need to read it!!!!!!!!!!

  34. FROG PRINCE, MELANIE?????!!! I am already in love with this book!!!!!

  35. Well, not even Melissa's read all of it yet, so you'll have to wait a while . . . like until next January when it comes out.

    Though I could maybe go back into Soldier's Secrets and pull out the first time the reader ever meets Danielle. She's 12 and rather feisty. :-)

  36. Grace Sorenson
    trips, bumps into, stumbles, fell

    Thank you, Mary!

  37. Bunk Jones is in the proposal I'm working on.

    I'm hoping (very hard) my editor likes him as much as all of you do.

    Thanks :)

    (and stacking the html codes is so cool!)

  38. Kaybee - another western!

    That name - Pace - just fits that character. Love it.

  39. Naomi Rawlings, now I know what you're working on when we're on 1K1Hr together! I can hardly wait to read it.

  40. Naomi, I knew you were toying with me. BRAT (note I did not bold that, probably because I am also toying with people. Tucker's story probably won't release until JUNE 2015!)

  41. SHERIDA!!! Bold AND Italics. SWEET!!!!

    So, your heroine is clumsy? That's ... hmmmmmm .... nice! :)

  42. Jan, you think they're going to let you write anything but Amish?

  43. And PACE, I really love that.

    I wish I'd thought of that.

    If I have a BUNK and a PACE in future books NO ONE is going to believe I thought of that on my own. RATS!!!!!

  44. I love Matthew! Can't wait to see how you handle Shannon and she handles Matt!!! The next installment, perhaps?

    My current hero?
    Noah Strong, CID Special Agent at Fort Rickman, GA.

    Noah's searching for two missing women when the story opens and a third disappears...all last seen at a truck stop on I-75 South, not far from post.

  45. What a fun day! And I get to learn something!

    First of all I have to comment on Tina's character: Judd Mason. My husband is Bud Mason! LOL.

    I haven't really given much thought to HOW my characters move. But here goes:

    Griffin Rafferty
    He's a real estate agent, confident with some swag (except when it comes to the heroine of course!) So he moves or should I say strides around, full of purpose and confident in his intent.

    Great post!

    Jan - I love your hero too.

    Mary - Can't wait to read Tucker's story!


  46. Ooo, Debby Giusti! that sounds intriguing!

  47. Hi Mary! Dropping in to say hi and I love your excerpt about Tucker. The details are wonderful and show how you truly know your man. Wish I had time to play but now you've inspired me to rush back to my wip and give my hero more authenticity. :D
    Thanks so much!

  48. Noah Strong, Debby, I LOVE THAT NAME.

    Terrific hero name.

    My heroines in this series are named Wilde
    Kylie, Shannon and Bailey Wilde.

    the Wilde Women. Oh, I have some fun with that. LOL

  49. Never really thought of it, but a character's actions should match his character.

    In my new WIP, MACY LANCE, is studying to be a chemist. She measures everything every carefully, including what she says since she's carrying a pack of lies. When her fiancé, JON asks her something, she uses distracting tactics, like changing subjects, and touching him. Bopping him on the arm, grabbing his hand, touching his sleeve, stroking his cheek, kissing him more than she should. Of course, he forgets what he's asked. Macy can't use this on Jon's mother, so she's digging into more trouble.

    If this works, could you tell us how to connect a few words to a blog post?

  50. Hi Susan. I had a Mason once. I wanted to name his first name Mason, I love the sound of that, but I ended up with the last name for some reason. I may still do that. Such a strong name.

  51. AH MACY, another Macy/Mason, see, the strong sound. And this Macy is a woman.

    LOVE IT, Elaine.

    Were we talking about names? Not really. Griffin Rafferty is good, too. :)

    I love that the chemist in her is so exact, so MEASURED. And I knew a guy once who was a math genius and he was so SLOW to respond to stuff we always thought he was upset about something. I mean I talked to so many people who said 'Joe' must be mad.

    We finally figured out he just had to THINK before he spoke. He just wasn't a guy to just react. Every word was thought out first.

    He wasn't much fun honestly.

  52. I'm sure your MACY will be fun, though. :)

  53. The Wilde Women!!! How fun, Mary!!!

  54. Excellent post, Mary! I'm impressed that Tucker is so prepared for trouble! Love that he feels naked without his guns and knives, not without clothes. Does Aaron loan Tucker his so the poor guy doesn't have to hunt for game on his broken leg?


  55. Hi Mary:

    Great post. I hope you have more to come. I write something that seems fine but then I get the feeling that something is missing. Often the missing ‘something’ is what you are writing about in these layering posts.

    My hero, Eric Hanson, is a Special Forces captian who spent six years as an enlisted sniper. Here is a few of his physical proxies.

    1. when he sees the cabin for the first time from a distance, he judges the distance by 'seeing' it as a 500 yard rifle shot with three clicks to adjust for the wind speed and direction.(An easy shot. I could put a round through the door knob from here.)

    2. when he sees the three bears at the door of the cabin he reaches back into his motorcycle saddle bag to insure that his 45 automatic is where it should be.

    3. after scaring the bears away with his loud motorcycle, he waits in front of the cabin, standing at a loose ‘parade rest’ behind his Harley, watching for the heroine to come out and show herself. (In his world ‘parade rest’ is a nonthreatening pose. The heroine, Diana Hunter, sees this and thinks he’s an ‘odd bird’.)

    4. when he walks his shoulders are back, he stands proud and tall and he walks silently so as not to be heard while at the same time always scanning the woods around the cabin for threats. The heroine never hears him coming he is so quiet. (This spooks her. “Would you stop acting like a ghost?” )

    Now the manuscript didn’t start out like this. All this layering was added later to fill in things I felt, but didn't know, were missing. Thanks and keep up these posts.


    P.S. The letters ‘b’ and ‘i’ are not case sensitive. You can mix upper and lower case without a problem.

  56. Nate Sergeant is my hero, a tough gun toting, observant man alert for trouble.


  57. Oops, forgot to say Nate is a bounty hunter.


  58. Queen Christiana

    She's a queen. Yeah. That affects how she talks and moves. No contractions for this gal. She's terribly prim and proper and has been betrayed by every man in her life. [Well, not every man but the two that mattered most - her uncle who basically ran her country for her because her parents died when she was five and her fiance who was supposed to, you know, marry her.]

    Alexander NEEDSALASTNAME is a former child star turned businessman [think Ricky Schroeder/Mark Paul Gosselar/Kirk Cameron but instead of becoming a televangelist he went to work for his folks who happen to own property in my fictional country where he gets to know the queen] who discovers the plot of the fiance against the queen. The country can't handle another scandal so he offers to marry her. He's been half in love with her for a long time and it shows in the tender way he takes care of her, especially when she passes out at the Romance Readers and 'Riters of Revenzario's annual Have a Heart fundraiser on Valentine's Day.

    Are we supposed to paste something? Cuz that means finding something...

    Off to look...

  59. Tucker sounds like a fun hero, Mary! But then, all your heroes are special in their own way!

    Another great post on character development--thanks!

  60. I'm in love with Tucker already!!! He sounds like Mr. Edwards on Little House on the Prairie... and I loved, loved, loved Mr. Edwards!!!!

    Mary, this is so fun, to see how you develop the character from every angle. I love that artform, you nail them so perfectly!!!

  61. VINCE I've wondered if the b and i are case sensitive but never experimented.

    until now!
    I like the military mindset and bearing, his actions and thoughts follow along in character perfectly. :)

  62. Janet, Aaron loans Tucker a nightshirt, but Aaron is 6'4" and on Tucker, as Tucker complains, it looks like a dress.

    He's not happy.
    And Shannon is not sewing fast.

  63. Janet! A bounty hunter. Cool. I already love it!

  64. Well, Carol, I think it's safe to say you are telling a truly original story. Way To Go!!!!!

  65. Carol you are supposed to put something in bold print I think you know how to do this though. I believe I've seen it before.

  66. I woke up this morning thinking Tucker needs to throw his knives more.

    That is honestly NOT the most peaceful thought to have flood into your mind on first awakening.

    Still.........I've got a scene in mind.

  67. This comment has been removed by the author.

  68. LOL, trying again...


    Brooks Elliot journalism professor, Civil War-obsessed Southerner, hails from Thorny Hollow, secretly in love with long-time friend Caroline Ashley

  69. This comment has been removed by the author.

  70. Okay, okay. That was painful. Can I go write now?

  71. OM GOSH, what is wrong with me???

    GGRRRRRR. Mary shall not best me!

    Brooks Elliot journalism professor, Civil War-obsessed Southerner, hails from Thorny Hollow, in love with long-time friend Caroline Ashley

  72. Lots of great things going on over in here. I will just sit on the sidelines and watch. Love all of the back and forth about character names too.

    I love the sound of Bunk!!! People may not trust him at first because of his name--because he surely doesn't want to be Aloysius. So much characterization in a few words.


  73. Mary! Their names are in bold!

    Queen Christiana

    And I'm glad you think it's truly original. Because I'm in the throes of hating it again.

  74. Wow, Carol. That was weird of me. OF COURSE THEIR NAMES ARE IN BOLD. I wonder why I thought they were not in bold?

    No doubt a shiny object distracted me and I was thinking of some other non-bold blog comment. SORRY!!!

  75. Virginia, you are a WARRIOR!!! Way to go. Way to be BOLD (oh, now you know I had to say that!)

  76. Piper, it's not the bold comment thing that's scaring you is it? Now I feel bad! :(

  77. It occurs to me as this day goes on that honestly the whole blog post is really just the TITLE.
    Isn't it?
    Really isn't it??

    First post...describe him.
    Second post. Make him gesture, move, breathe in character

    I mean, all the rest of it, all the examples, sure they're fine, but do you need more than the TITLE?

    Still, that'd be a short blog post.

    Wait'll next month. I can probably string that one out to a few hundred words, too.

  78. I am so Excited
    I got Jillian Hart and Janet Tronstad new book Mistletoe Mail order brides (think thats what its called) and they dedicated it to me. Its so humbling and exciting. Oh and the train conductor is Mr Blake He's only a very small part but If dad was alive back then I think he would have been just like the way Jillian described him. I had to share the news. It made me feel so much happier.

  79. Tucker Kendrick
    How fun to share a character name with you, Mary!!!!!
    (Surprising how alike they are in nature too!)
    Tucker is a huge bear of a man with coal black hair and vivid blue eyes. Like you said about your Tucker, be nice to him and he'll be nice to you. Well, unless you're a wimpy guy like Joshua Addison. If you are... RUN!!!!! Because Tuck wants to kill him. And you'd best stay away from Tuck's wife too, otherwise you're dog meat. He has a temper like no other.
    Thanks for sharing about your new book... Can't wait for it to release!

  80. Mary, I never thought about the importance of matching looks and actions etc. I once knew a homely girl with the confidence of a beauty queen -- that probably wouldn't work in a book!

  81. Finally, back to say how I make my character move IN CHARACTER.

    Judd Mason from The Christmas Angel.

    He's a computer security analyst.

    He cringes when hugged by old women. Not used to being touched, or having his personal space invaded.

    When nervous he plays with his wire rimmed glasses.

    He can divert a personal question faster than a speeding bullet.

    His entire life is in ten plain cardboard boxes that follow him around the world and he never opens.

    All he really needs are his Bose stereo, his espresso machine and his computer of course.

  82. Mary, Love this post. However, I have no idea how to make Romeo's name bold, so forgive me for not following instructions!

    Romeo's youth shows as he wanders the fields picking wildflowers and daydreaming about finding love. When he find Juliet, he's willing to climb vines and jump over walls that stand between them. Obviously, that's a sign of youth right there, lol. Don't see many 50 year old men doing that.

    Back to the Cepacol lozenges and hot tea.

  83. Hi MARY!
    I always love your posts because I get some info on the characters running amuck inside your mind. I think I'll be in love with Tucker by the end of your story.

    as for characters of my own? Hmmm... I've got BJ Saint: auto mechanic born Christmas Eve and abandoned by his birth mother. Heroine is Ruth Ives pregnant out of wedlock and found in a broke down vehicle by BJ, in snowstorm just before Christmas... sort of a de ja vu thing for the hero.

    would love to be in the draw for anything written by you, Mary


    I'm pretty darned proud of myself. :)

  85. I might post pictures later on Facebook.

  86. Crystal, another Tucker. Good for you. I totally stole this from another book. There is a Tucker Smith in Golden Days, the book I'm giving away in Alaska Brides Collection. He's the hero in Kathleen Y'Barbo's book. I've loved that name ever since she used it. Especially the Tucker part. I remembered that when the Alaska Brides Collection was coming out and I was working on a proposal for this series at the same time.
    Finally it was time for my very OWN Tucker.

  87. Poor Lyndee, you're sick. God bless you, girl. I'm giving you a special dispensation on the bold rule. No one can learn new stuff when they're sick plus on cold meds. It might actually be a LAW.

    And Romeo was an idiot.

  88. DebH, The abandoned baby BJ, finding the mom having a baby on the same day he was abandoned so long ago. That makes a beautiful circle.

    And how perfect that an auto mechanic finds a woman needing help in a broken down car. LOL

    Love it!

  89. You know, DebH, Tucker really is is running amuck in my head. I really love him. He's a much stronger personality than Shannon, though I love her too. I think I need to fix that. Though maybe not.

    Sometimes I'll finish a book, this one is really almost done, and feel like it isn't quite right and needs lots of work and I'll set it aside a while, then go back to work through it and find out I really like it.

    It's just tricky to judge your own work, especially when you're really close to it.

    I know what I'm TRYING to do. There's a really SPOOKY, supenseful element to Now & Forever because the bad guy is a better woodsman than Tucker and EVERYBODY AGREES THAT'S NOT POSSIBLE so it's hard for me to know if I've pulled that off.

    I'm going for a kind of eerie feel for this bad guy, a battle of wits almost between him and Tucker and I'm just not sure it's quite right.

    I need to finish this, step back, then when I have some distance, come back and see what I think. That's one of the reasons I'm pushing so hard on it, I'm way ahead of schedule, just so I have plenty of time to get it right.

  90. My current hero is Thaddeus Joseph Bonner. While in the Navy he went by T.J. but now that he is out of the active Navy he goes by Joe. There is a reason for it all. :)

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.

    countrybear52 AT yahoo DOT com

  91. Obviously, that's a sign of youth right there, lol. Don't see many 50 year old men doing that.

    Or women. I locked my keys in my car when I was emptying groceries. Back of the CRV was open. Had to crawl in. OMG, I have no cushion in my knees. WHEN DID THAT HAPPEN???

    Feel better, Lyndee.

  92. Tucker is Missy's granddog's name. She won't let me use it. Too bad I knew, cause ignorance is bliss.

  93. Ross Gray grew up on the Texas frontier so he has a wide stride, alert movements, zig-zags and darts across busy streets. Is a vet, with an innate love and understanding of horses, in particular. He tends to carry those attributes of caring into his dealings with humans, so when speaking with children he leans forward and down, or sits on his heels, because he wants to note their eye movements, their expressions. Is comfortable with himself so he stretches his legs in front of him when he sits, or crosses an ankle to a knee, or unbuttons his suit jacket and spreads his arms on chair arms.

    On another note -- I've read a lot of good names and storylines in the comments. Eagerly awaiting the books!

    Nancy C

  94. Cindy W, Of course there's a reason for it. OF COURSE!!! :)

  95. Tina, I know what you mean about the knees. :( I can't climb in and out of our boat. They need to get the winch. (I was going to say harpoon, but none of us need that image stuck in our heads, now do we?)

  96. Nancy C, I like it. I can see him moving. See the cowboy in him, even in the city, in the suit. Excellent.

  97. MISSY!!! YOU NAMED YOUR DOG AFTER MY HERO?????????????????

    I have to watch her every minute!

  98. Mary,
    You always make me laugh out loud. Romeo was an idiot. I'm tutoring a college senior, and although I agree with you, I won't be encouraging the student to say that in his paper!

    Ouchy. That hurts. But I'm impressed that you crawled into the back of your vehicle. I'd still be stuck there.

    Thanks for the nice wishes. I don't know what I have,since the minute clinic nurse put me under the umbrella of 'untreatable virus.' Yikes. Ready for bed...

  99. LYndee, I'm with you. Tina is so brave, to me, crawling in there? I'm thinking this is a Call 911 situation.

  100. Love seeing how your hero's actions and personality mesh so believably. I also appreciate the chance to post my attempt to do the same.

    I’m continuing with the same h/h from last week. They’re involved in an auto accident. Her car dies coming out of a blind curve on a narrow road with little shoulder, which leaves her stuck on the pavement. He’s speeding, rounds the curve, and plows into her vehicle, sending it over the mountainside. Luckily she’s just climbed out to photograph the scenery. (A victim of corporate downsizing, she’s now a fledgling photographer.) Once he discovers the car is empty his relief is replaced by fury.

    His name BTW is Kam Hardisty

    "What were you doing parked in the middle of the freakin’ road? Out taking pictures? How stupid is that?"

    Beneath his tirade, the accent caught Cassie's attention. The same as her ex, a southern drawl she'd grown to distrust and, eventually, loathe. Everything inside her recoiled, but she shot back. “I wasn't in the middle of the freakin’ road. And I am not stupid—unlike the speeding idiot who drives faster than his IQ." She paused and took a deep breath. "You...could have killed me."

    "But I didn't." His voice turned matter of fact, like he was unfazed by her or the situation.

    Cassie saw red. "Not because you didn't try."

    He gave her an assessing look. "Are you about to go all hysterical on me?"

    Like she was going to ruin his day? Cassie aimed a pointed look in his direction that had backed down better men and replied with a calmness she was far from feeling. "Don't even go there." What a jerk. She shouldered her camera and made a show of getting out the notebook and pencil she always carried. She could try a little of her own intimidation factor. "I hope you have good insurance. What company?"

    "Nice try, but I'm not the only one at fault. Just give me your info. I’ll take care of everything.” He stomped over to his truck, his face in a frown as he assessed the damage to the front fender on the passenger's side. He hunkered down and with his bare hands pulled metal away from the tire.

    Cassie watched his muscles bunch under the T-shirt. She wouldn't have been surprised to see him lift the whole side just to get a better look. Her earlier feel of intimidation crawled back. She squashed it. "You hit me from behind. Try explaining to a judge how any of that's my fault. Last time I heard, rear-end-ors always get the blame."

    He stood and studied her, the frown deepening across his face. "Sounds like you know a lot about it. You make a habit of being a rear-end-ee?"

    She ignored his pithy question while holding the notebook up where he'd see she was serious. "What's your name?"

    Kam looked at her in amazement. Was she kidding? How many people in America wouldn't recognize his face? Even looking as he did. What was her game? The only thing that kept him from believing this was a set-up was that nobody knew where he was. After yesterday's showdown with Gina, he didn't want anyone to know where he was. She'd taken the breakup worse than he'd expected and ended up physically attacking him. Women were such a pain. All of them.

    Struggling to get his adrenalin-fueled anger under control, Kam nodded toward the notebook. "What is it you don’t understand about I’ll take care of it?"

  101. Yeah, Romeo was an idiot, I'm sure there is a C- in my immediate future.

  102. Wow. Didn't realize my post was so long. Sorry. But what great practice.

  103. CaraG, ooh, he's famous. She should recognize him. I'm sitting here grinning.

    Nice explosive, cute meet. Nice little tug of attraction, sparks flying...mostly the kind that are gonna burn someone not lead to romance, but we only need a FEW of the kind that are gonna lead to romance to get things rolling, right? :)

    I love it.

  104. CaraG, it looks so long in those comment boxes, it's okay. I liked reading it.

    I'm glad you posted it. I liked the way they moved, to. Her with the notebook. Him tugging on the metal fender. Nice actions reflecting their character.

  105. BTW Juliet was no Rhodes Scholar neither.

  106. Hey Mary! Sorry I'm super late visiting today - - not sure WHERE this day has gone *sigh*.
    Great post---I do plan on re-reading (and attempting to learn the BOLD thing)---just too sleepy right now.
    Hugs, Patti Jo zzzzzzzzzzz

  107. This is so weird. I commented earlier.

    But now it's gone.

    Maybe I didn't post, then went on my merry way!

  108. Mary, I like one dollar stuff, but USED GLOVES????


  109. Mary, I LOVE Tucker already! And he's named after my grand dog! LOL

    I love how well you do characterization. I need to work more on how my characters move. Although, I don't get to do fun weapons and such. :)

  110. Missy, I know how hard it is to stab and shoot people in LI. But surely you can find a way. You just need to APPLY YOURSELF!!!

  111. Rand Sterling is a wealthy Manila nightclub owner now spending the duration of WWII in a Japanese internment camp where conditions are horrific. His gestures are very refined - no wiping his nose with the back of his hand. As a ladies' man, he's much more likely to kiss a woman's hand. He wouldn't rake his fingers through his hair but would hold his head with an air of authority and walk tall, even in the midst of all of the suffering.
    Irene Reynolds was raised by her missionary aunt in the Philippine jungle, but now wants a better life. She would be awkward in refined social settings. She would wipe the sweat from her brow with the back of her hand and would kneel in the mud to play with a child. However, because she wants to move up socially, she would try to imitate the way Rand acts.
    Thanks, Mary, for all of the pointers. This is great information as I move to the editing phase of this book.

  112. Hi Liz, thanks for joining in. Great characters. And good work on the bold!!! :)

  113. Okay. Hope I'm doing this right.

    Ronald Chuckleford Esq.

    Ronnie, as he is known, is a tap dancing, top hat wearing dragon who gets into way too much trouble. He uses his tail to adjust his specs and doff his hat. He doesn't tap his fingers, he clicks his claws. His hair doesn't stand up on end, his scales tingle.

  114. Cade Grimaldi is the owner/CEO of Grimaldi Construction since his dad died. He's good with his hands, has great balance, and a light step even in steel-toed boots. He won a contest for carrying shingles up the ladder the fastest, but doesn't brag about it.

    I love reading about Matthew Tucker and can't wait to see his story in print. ;)

  115. Mare, fun post!!

    The hero from my next book, Dare to Love Again is Nick Barone, who is a big, hulking, crotchety Italian police detective who grunts and moves like a caveman, but smells like Animal Crackers because they settle his stomach. He packs heat and goes up against the slime of the Barbary Coast, but is afraid of cable cars. A lot like Mitch Dennehy, but carries a gun. :)


    P.S. And I thought you could gift freebies too ... :(