Characters Won’t Talk? Ply Them with Alcohol! . . plus a Mulled Wine Recipe

Ever gather your novel characters together to discuss something Really Important . . but they end up kind of just sitting around on the page? Don’t play the mope and stare game. These characters are your creations, and they are more or less subject to your suggestions.

Nothing enhances the flow of conversation quite like the flow of alcohol. So the next time your characters pull the taciturn routine, ply them with a bit of booze. Just don’t go overboard with it, unless your characters are interactive somniloquists.

I frequently construct mental stories around pop culture figures, people I know, and strangers I see on the street. The following characters are from some of these stories. Let these stereotypes be springboards to your party with your own reticent creations . .

o O

Jason: A Teetotaler from Bible Belt, USA. Deeply religious, guilt-ridden.

Pair with: O’Doul’s.

Cut Off: When the stigmata appears.

o O

DJ: A Nerdy Daydreamer. Vain.

Pair with: Appletini (in which you can really taste the apple).

Cut Off: When he starts giving away free hugs.

o O

MG: An Eco-Aware Homeowner. Animal lover. Eternal optimist.

Pair with: Boxed wine.

Cut Off: When she OCDs on the “Tip it! Tip it!”

o O

Winston: A Nymphomaniacal Party Animal, and cash-poor bicycle-rider. Compulsive liar.

Pair with: A 40.

Cut Off: When Rider Strong shows up at the party.

o O

Kelly: A Teflon Midas. Smooth, talented, urbane, and hip – he’s already started the party.

Pair with: Coke and Rum.

Cut Off: When he says he can’t wait for the bathroom.

o O

Steve-O: An All-American Frat Party Boy. Immature, highly excitable, and a Jerry Springer fan. Also a baseball / basketball / football / ice hockey / NASCAR fan.

Pair with: Budweiser, of course.

Cut Off: When he starts crying and saying “I love you, man!” to his frat buddies.

o O

Weems: A Hopeless Junkie.

Pair with: Mad Dog 20 / 20.

Cut Off: When the vomit spews (timing can be tricky).

o O

Rose: A Rock ’n’ Roll Rebel from a broken home. Can be violent – a biter.

Pair with: Night Train.

Cut Off: When somebody throws a £1 coin.

o O

Jack: Former Cult Member. An alternately wealthy and bankrupt notorious publicity hound. Addicted to self-mutilation.

Pair with: Jesus Juice.

Cut Off: When the kiddies show up.

o O

Jake: An Old Hillbilly Coot* in Deep South, USA. He has a long, scraggly beard, and bare feet. He wears a wide-brimmed hat and overalls and is always within an arm’s-reach of a shotgun. Missing teeth and bulging eyes. Acute paranoia and / or dementia.

Pair with: Whisky (pronounced “whooo-hisky.”)

Cut Off: When “dagnabbit” and “whippersnapper” (pronounced “whooo-ippersnapper”) become unintelligible from rest of his “speech.”

o O

Popcorn: Same as above, except the hillbilly’s name is “Popcorn.”

Pair with: Moonshine.

Cut Off: When he fires his shotgun over your head.

o O

Amanda: A UK sophisticate from an aristocratic family. Hopeless romantic. Fond of thick sweaters and berets. Studies philosophy and writes poetry.

Pair with: Mulled Wine.

Cut Off: When she wanders too near the edge of an ocean cliff (desert cliffs OK).

 *Meant in the most respectful manner.

Feel free to leave your own character and alcohol pairings in the comments!

And now, back to the wine . .


Mulled Wine

1 cup Water

1 teaspoon Mixed Peppercorns

½ teaspoon Whole Cloves

1/8 inch cut of fresh Ginger Root

1 Cinnamon Stick

1 Bay Leaf

¼ cup Turbinado Sugar

½ cup Triple Sec

2 cups Burgundy

Simmer spice in water for 5 minutes. Dissolve sugar in spice water. Add Triple Sec and Burgundy and heat to steaming. Serve hot.

You Wanna Wish Me a What?

‘Tis the season for well-wishing. Since I don’t know what particular holidays you do or don’t celebrate, I’ll err on the side of inclusiveness and say,

“Happy . .

12 Days of Christmas


All Saints Day

Armenian Apostolic Christmas


Bodhi Day

Boxing Day


Chahar Shanbeh Suri

Chinese New Year



Christmas Eve

Dies Natalis Solis Invicti


Eastern Orthodox Christmas


Epiphany Eve

Feast of Fools




Hedgehog Day


Holy Innocents’ Day



Inti Raymi



Martin Luther King Day


New Year’s Day

New Year’s Eve

Pancha Ganapati





Signature of the Constitution of the Republic of China

St. Basil’s Day

St. John the Evangelist’s Day

St. Stephen’s Day

St. Sylvester’s Day

St. Valentine’s Day


Tu Bishvat

Twelfth Night

Watch Night

Winter Solstice

I looked for a photo illustrating the ridiculous “Merry Christmas” VS “Happy Holidays” debate, but every photo I liked was encrypted. Then I found this cartoon meant to make fun of atheists. Though lacking in accuracy, it is kind of funny.




Yulefest / Midwinter Christmas


Zamenhof Day!”

 . . and let you choose which, if any, well-wishing greeting is appropriate for you. Or maybe I’ll just say “Happy Holidays.”

Note: The above list names some popular secular and non-secular celebrations, holidays, and commemorations occurring sometime in October through February around the world. It is not intended to be a comprehensive or representative list of celebrations during said time period.


I’m not religious, but I’m also not pedantic. I celebrate Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve as secular holidays. Do you celebrate holidays or commemorations which fall outside your faith or non-faith?

She, He, Other


The English language (and most other languages) reflects a superfluous focus on gender through gender-specific personal pronouns. This is one reason so many people fixate on gender, and are unsure of how to relate to a person whose gender is unknown. Some people go so far as to assign a gender to a person regardless of mixed gender identification or non-gender identification. This obsessive gender-assignment also applies to non-living objects such as vehicles and weather phenomena. Planes, trains, automobiles, and ships are often feminized with the personal pronouns “she,” “her,” and “hers.” Tornadoes, tsunamis, and the like are either feminized or masculinized depending on their assigned anthropomorphizing personal names. Perhaps most nonsensical gender-philic habit is using “he,” “him,” and “his” as default personal pronouns. Part of the solution would be using gender-neutral pronouns

Consider the following scenario-

Pat asks Robin. Robin answers Pat.

Now we have personal pronoun combinations to consider-

She thinks her answer is good.

He thinks his answer is good.

He thinks her answer is good.

She thinks his answer is good.

Assuming the “answer” in the sentences could either belong the the answerer or the answeree:

“She” and “her” could both refer to Pat, or could both refer to Robin. Likewise, “he” and “his” could both refer to Pat, or could both refer to Robin. Or the feminine and masculine pronoun groups could be bisected between Pat and Robin.

Without additional information about Pat and Robin, it is impossible to assign gender-specific pronouns without possibly getting it wrong. And this isn’t even considering Chris, who is intersexed, and Bobbie, who is genderqueer, and Tracy, who is a genderless AI.

So what the heck do we do? If we use gender-neutral pronouns to refer to Pat, Robin, Chris, and Morgan, we eliminate the risk of getting their genders- or lack of genders- wrong. Without context, we still don’t who is doing the asking and who is doing the thinking, but we won’t miss-assign genders. Using gender-neutral language will eliminate gender faux pas.

South Asian hijras.

Why is this so important? People tend to be influenced by their environments, and language is a specific environment of the mind. If an environment you are experiencing and using is supporting faulty gender assignments, you will tend to adapt the faulty assignments as valid within your environment. This linguistic relativity may perpetuate sexism

Obviously, the use of gender-neutral language is not yet widely accepted. People find gender-neutral pronouns clumsy and dismissible because they aren’t taught in enough schools with enough consistency.

So in the meantime, I see nothing wrong with “they” as an all-inclusive personal pronoun, though assigning a plural pronoun to a singular noun may seem awkward at first. I also see nothing wrong with “it” as an all-inclusive personal pronoun, but most people, including transhuman Zinnia Jones, do:



What is your opinion of gender-neutral language?


Writing Wrongs

“Sometimes I wonder how all those who do not write, compose or paint can manage to escape the madness, the melancholia, the panic fear that is inherent in the human situation.” -Graham Greene

A traumatic event in your life will activate the visual cortex and limbic system in your brain- the areas which control emotions and the bodily manifestations of emotions. In turn, this deactivates your brain’s speech-production centers. So an image of the trauma is imprinted into your brain, and the memory of the trauma will seem to be incompatible with language. “There are no words to describe what I’ve experienced,” is a common lament of people with posttraumatic stress disorder or depression. By forcing a connection between the traumatic event and language, the memory of the event is encoded differently in the brain. This language-centered encoding is often the first step to healing trauma and depression.

Writing therapy is the recording of words for the purpose of emotional healing.

Write a poem                                                            expressing your phobia 

Keep a journal                                                             about your crappy job

Start a book                                                            addressing past abuse

Try some free-association                                                            exploring anxiety

Commit to a diary                                                            to vent at the end of a day

Write a letter                                                             about a failed relationship

It doesn’t matter much what form the writing takes, or if anyone else ever sees the writing. It’s the act of writing itself that is healing. Some people prefer a free-form approach to writing therapy. Others prefer a structured approach:

“Writers can treat their mental illnesses every day.” -Kurt Vonnegut