What to Do if Your Characters Actually Come to Life

isportacus.com

If you’re a fiction writer, and have taken the time to dive deep into a character’s psyche, you may have experienced the mind-blowing- and sometimes terrifying- phenomenon of one of your characters actually coming to life. As in REALLY coming to life- not just in your novel, but in your house, plopped down in the middle of your living room, eating a bucket o’ bon bons.

FLASHBACK, 2008: Her name is Suzy, and she is REAL. And she’s enormous. She doesn’t talk much, but she loves to eat. She follows me every time I go to the grocery store. She fills my cart with junk food (her favorite). Then she follows me home, pigs out on Ho Hos and Ding Dongs, and sleeps for 12 hours.

Here’s the 4-step plan I developed to cope:

1. Panic!

I mean, c’mon, you’re gonna do that anyway, so you may as well make it the first step. I panicked when Suzy came to life. Didn’t faze her, though, as she’s not much of a communicator. Now that you’ve gotten the prerequisite panicking out of the way . .

 

2. Don’t panic!

Just stop. Pretty self-explanatory. Without this step you’re pretty much at the mercy of your miraculously alive characters, and pretty much at the mercy of those people with the odd smiles, the white lab coats, and the “happy juice” syringes hidden behind their backs.

 

3.  Question other people’s sanity, not your own.

As in, “You mean you don’t see a 400-lb. woman with clown makeup, bleach-blonde ringlets, and sparkly pink nail polish eating a bag of Cheetos in the middle of our living room? No? That’s weird. You might want to see a professional about your obviously compromised perception of reality.”

 

4. Laugh it off.

This last step pretty much is the perfect finish to most any faux crisis. Looking back, having Suzy come to life wasn’t as bad as I initially thought it was. She’s mostly harmless, and she’s always amusing. And she still visits me from time to time. (I know it’s not me who’s been eating all the bon bons.)

 

Have any real-live-character-coping experiences of your own?

Do tell!

“Snotrunningly”- a Flash Fiction Tale

A flash fiction tale of 1000 words, with thanks to Chuck Wendig for the writing prompt, and Christine Bell and Margeanne Mitchell for the word: 

 

 

                            Snotrunningly                             

 

Shackleton stands steadfast on the South Polar Plateau. Wild, on his back, lies panting at Shackleton’s feet. Ice crystals grow and trail out of Wild’s nostrils.

“Looks like you could use a bit of whisky,” Shackleton says.

“Eh?” Wild grunts.

“Whisky. For your nose frost. You’re building a frozen waterfall on your upper lip. A bit of whisky, and your nose-breath will melt the frost.”

“What if I’m a mouth-breather?”

“You shouldn’t be breathing through your mouth. But whisky breath will melt your nose-icles either way. In the meantime, you look like Frosticles himself.”

Shackleton walks past Marshall and the Mate. He crouches over one of the crates labeled “SPIRITS.”

Marshall, the Mate, and Shackleton take turns cutting the crate straps and lifting the lids.

“Scotch whisky!” Shackleton says. “Hallelujah. I had forgotten what we packed. The Antarctic will do that, you know. Make you forget.”

The three of them open the remaining “SPIRITS” crates and find more whiskey and brandy.

Marshall reaches into a crate. “Hunter Valley Distillery, Limited. Fine brandy, indeed.”

“Charles Mackinlay and Company. It’s about time we opened this shit,” the Mate says, lifting a brandy bottle to the sun.

Shackleton grabs a couple whisky bottles, opens them, and stoops beside Wild. “Drink up, Wild man. It’ll snotrunningly cure what ails you.”

Wild struggles upright. “A toast . . to our Great Southern Journey.” He coughs and wheezes. He taps his frozen snot-encrusted mustache with a stiff finger and sips.

“A toast to the Nimrods.” Shackleton stands and salutes his comrades.

“Shackleton. Will we make it?” Wild says.

“We’ve already made it.” Shackleton raises his bottle. “Today- January 16, 1909- will be inscribed in history books as the day Wild, Marshall, Adams- er, the Mate- and Shackleton reached the South Magnetic Pole.” He sips his whisky. “And last week- on January 9, to be exact- will be inscribed in the history books as the day Wild, Marshall, the Mate, and Shackleton reached the new farthest southern point. Er, what’s that latitude, Marshall?”

Marshall grabs his notepad from his belt and flips it open. “88°23’S, sir.”

Wild grimaces. “But the geographical pole- still over one hundred miles away.” He puts his hand over his eyes. “Shackleton. I don’t want to ruin it. I’m weak. Go on. Touch the pole. Please take my rations.” Wild cries, rubbing his tears on his red, raw face. Marshall and the Mate bow their heads.

“No. Leaving a man behind is a coward’s deed. I’d rather waste away in the laughingstocks than be tarred and feathered for murder.” He crouches beside Wild and looks into his eyes. “Besides, four live donkeys are better than a pride of dead lions.”

Wild looks up at Shackleton and smiles. Then his face clouds over.

“What is it? Something else troubling you?” Shackleton asks.

Wild squints at Shackleton, then blinks hard and wipes his eyes. He smacks his palms against his eyes, rubs hard, then looks up again.

“You alright, Wild man?”

“Ah . . yes. Just my eyes playing tricks on me.”

“That’s a symptom of snow blindness. And it’s getting late. Have some more whisky and sleep. Tomorrow we’ll break camp.”

Shackleton helps Wild to his feet and they stagger to the hut. Marshall and the Mate follow. The icy wind whips frost through the door, and Wild shivers as he unbuttons his coat.

Wild breathes into his cupped hands. “I think I’ve got the fever. It smells like a barn in here.”

“Damn it to hell, man, we’ve all got the fever,” the Mate says. “We put off the spirits too long, and now we’re paying for it.”

Marshall slips into his sleeping bag. “Speak for yourself, Mate. Had we partaken on day one, we’d all be frozen dead by now.”

“Liar. Nothing motivates a man like spirits,” the Mate says.

“Nothing makes a man sluggish like spirits,” Marshall replies before flipping his blanket over his head.

That night, the temperature plummets and Wild awakens. He reads the thermometer. Negative 129 degrees. The others are shivering and chattering in their sleep. He opens another bottle of whisky and finishes it before daybreak. Shackleton awakes and sees Wild passed out upright.

“You snotrunningly drank it ahead of schedule!” he yells, shaking Wild by the shoulders. Wild sneezes a snot spray and vomits on the floor. Marshall and the Mate jump out of their bags. The snot and vomit have already frozen. They break camp and partake in spirits before their trek.

The next day, rations running low, Shackleton allots three biscuit per day per man. Shackleton, Marshall, and the Mate surge ahead while Wild trails. Each afternoon, they wait for Wild to catch up.

At Cape Royds- the last camp before the end of the journey- Shackleton gathers the men together. “We’ve four biscuits left, and two days- if we’re lucky- to Hut Point and our ship out of here. Wild, you eat my biscuit. I’m feeling strong as a donkey.”

“Bless you, donkey,” Wild whispers. He nibbles the biscuit and sips his whisky. An hour later the biscuit is gone and his bottle is empty.

The next night, Wild decides to sleep outside.

“Keep away from me, you beasts! I will not bed down with donkeys!” Wild flails at the others as they try to drag him into the tent.

The next evening, Shackleton, Marshall, and the Mate bury the remaining spirits under the floorboards at Hut Point. The three bed down for the night, and Wild sleeps outside again, wrapped in the others’ blankets. At daybreak, Shackleton crawls out of the hut and scans the horizon.

“Wild, wake up. I see the ship! Look!”

Wild moans and opens his blood-shot eyes.

“The ship- look! Over there!” Shackleton point at the horizon.

Wild follows Shackleton’s finger and gasps. He jumps up, runs, then stumbles to all fours. “The lion!” he cries. “Lion’s come to eat donkeys! Hee-haw, hee-haw, hee-haw!” he brays, kicking his back legs out as he gallops back to Cape Royds.

 

***** 

Note- I decided, post-writing, the genre is surrealism.

Feel free to leave a comment, yea, nay, or otherwise.

 

Spread Some Trans-Galactic Love for Valentine’s Day plus a Raw Heart Bonbons Recipe

Do you love Star Trek?

Do you love Lieutenant Hikaru Sulu?

Do you love George Takei?

George Takei’s friends?

Valentine’s Day?

Surprises?

If you answered YES to ANY of the above, (and I know you did) help George Takei surprise his friend-

fellow Japanese-American internment camp survivor Marge Wada– on Valentine’s Day!

It’s free, and as simple as a few clicks.

If you’re on Facebook, login and MOB Marge!

If you’re not on Facebook, join JUST to MOB Marge (I did)!

UPDATE:

facebook chat emoticon heart facebook chat emoticon heart facebook chat emoticon heart facebook chat emoticon heart facebook chat emoticon heart facebook chat emoticon heart facebook chat emoticon heart facebook chat emoticon heart facebook chat emoticon heart facebook chat emoticon heart facebook chat emoticon heart facebook chat emoticon heart 

And now onto the Valentine’s Day recipe that is guaranteed to make your Valentine’s heart go all aflutter:

 

Raw Heart Bonbons

(aphrodisiac)

 dozen raw Dates

dozen raw Figs

dozen raw Almonds

1 teaspoon Cocoa Powder

4 teaspoons Coconut Milk plus extra (shake well before opening)

 

Chop dates, figs, and almonds into fussy, mincy pieces.

Mix pieces thoroughly. Sprinkle a few drop of milk here and there as needed to achieve critical sticky mass.

Form mixture into heart shapes (anatomic or symbolic- I went with symbolic).

Mix cocoa with 4 teaspoons milk until you get a smooth consistency.

Glop liquid over hearts just before serving yourself and your Valentine.

Enjoy!

Store leftovers covered.

Did I mention this dish is an aphrodisiac?

Cue Boléro.

Cue clouds passing over moon.

 

Happy Valentine’s Day, everybody!

And a special Happy Valentine’s Day to Marge, and to George and Brad!

facebook chat emoticon heart facebook chat emoticon heart facebook chat emoticon heart facebook chat emoticon heart facebook chat emoticon heart facebook chat emoticon heart facebook chat emoticon heart facebook chat emoticon heart facebook chat emoticon heart facebook chat emoticon heart facebook chat emoticon heart facebook chat emoticon heart 

How are you spreading love What fun, PG-13 things do you have planned this Valentine’s Day?

 

Unsure of Your “Author Brand”? Check-In Here.

librarything.com

 

What’s your “author brand”?

Are the books you write humorous, or technical? Or maybe they’re mysterious? Or literary?

Is your writing flowing, or staccato? Is it ethereal? How about juicy?

Are you a professional, or are you a bag o’ trail mix?

  

An “author brand” is a unique set of pervasive, consistent images and qualities a professional writer publically cultivates to establish recognition in a genre, and expectation in a target audience. A positive, solid author brand gives a writer credibility, and in turn, helps sell that writer’s books. A writer establishes a positive author brand through consistent quality writing in a specific genre. Additionally, an author brand can be built up (or torn down) by the way an author self-promotes and networks with agents, publishers, other authors, and most importantly, readers.

Maybe you have a rock-solid author brand firmly entrenched in your mind, but you’re not sure it’s in your readers’ minds.

Maybe you’re not sure how you present yourself, or even how you want to present yourself.

Or perhaps (like me) you have a vague idea of what image you’d like to present to your readers, but you’re not sure that image is coming across in your writing and social networking.

So . . in the spirit of writerly cooperation, I invite you- yes, that means YOU- to leave a comment, (even a “hi” will do) and I (and hopefully others who leave comments) will check out your blog, then come back here and tell you what kind of author brand is coming across. Of course, this is only a quick skim of your blog content, and does not consider any actual books you’ve written, or any other networking and promoting you may or may not do.

So click on the commenters, skim through the first pages, and nicely let them know your impression of their author brands.

One more thing- this is NOT a “blog critique”- this is a “general author brand impression” blog hop.

Thank you for participating!