“That’s SO funny” means it isn’t. 5 Dumb Things about writing.

I’ve always said that making people laugh is one of the hardest things to do. Writing books with humor is a challenge to even the most nimble authors, and making a character who is genuinely funny even more difficult. I reference the people in my books, who, be they witch, vampire, asshole at the bank, or good hearted truck driver, are all real people to me when I write them.


Now, let’s break that down– genuinely funny— as it contains two of the most important parts of your main character.

  1. Genuine. I have a single goal when I create a character, and that is for the reader to think, “I know this person.” I want my readers convinced that the character is someone they might meet the next time they leave the house. That’s critical.
  2. Three Dimensional People. I use this term to describe the characters because they should exist in every plane; you should feel their personalities, their voices, and the background of their lives. All of these make them have a weight on the pages. Don’t skimp on background. Don’t use background instead of dialogue. Here’s why.
  3. Dialogue Is Good Voyeurism.  I’m not talking about watching your neighbor through their window, you dirty little critter, although if they’re leaving the curtains open while they dance naked to Bon Jovi and you have a box of wine and nothing to do on a Friday night hey who’s fault is it anyway I mean– sorry. I meant to say, dialogue– good dialogue– is the single best method to get inside the head of your characters. For readers, one page of dialogue is equivalent to an entire chapter of exposition, because it tells you why they act as well as how they will act in the future. This is how we bring readers with us to the last page. They must burn for the Great Reveal in which all becomes clear.
  4. Real People Are Hilarious.  Don’t think this is true? Go to the returns desk at any major retail store on the planet. Then wait. Within fifteen minutes you will see: Thieves. Liars. People with sweaty ‘bra money’. Flimsy excuses. Glorious expressions from the employees. Anger. Resolution. You might even see an adult in a onesie, given the state of our planet. It’s all there, and it’s free. My point is: real life is a fountain of hilarity, if you observe the right places. If you want unlimited rage, go to the Department of Motor Vehicles. If you want funny, go everywhere else. Then– write it down.
  5. Read Aloud. Let me repeat this: read. your dialogue. out loud. You should laugh, or cringe, or feel. . . something. What you should not feel is nothing. If that’s the case, the dialogue is flat and it needs to die. Start over, keeping the best sentence you have, then ask yourself. What would your character do if they were at the returns desk at Walmart? It’s a great start, and you might surprise yourself by learning more about your own characters.

I know Carlie, Ring, Saavin, French and Wulfric inside and out because to me, they are real. I can hear their voices, see their walk, and imagine how they might deal with an overcooked steak  (steak cannot be undercooked, fight me!) or  flat tire. You know, life. This is why I’m able to make Carlie more than a Quirky Girl Doing Cute Things.

You know what to do. Keep your eyes and ears open, take a few notes, and write people who you every day. But, you know, with dragons and swords and stuff. That’s what I do.

I’ll be in Frankenmuth, Michigan for Once Upon a Book (Aug 11-12). They claim to have the World’s Best Chicken Dinner. My body is ready.



I Dun Been Kilted: Where Erections Go To Die

Well, that was unpleasant.

Think of a stranger approaching you  and saying, “In six days, I’m going to hit you with a metaphoric train, but the train will be naked, oiled with lavender, and buggering you. But in a lovingly gross manner.”

That’s sort of what just happened. Aside from wearing a dress one Halloween (okay, maybe three, and I’ve never felt prettier), I don’t have a great deal of experience with being a feminine object of desire. Jack Randall’s obsession with the physical nature of Jamie transcends gender, and it’s even worse than I’d imagined. He wants him as a thing, not a human, and it violates every principle we hold dear in a relationship between two people.

There are additional elements to this little horror story, one of which is the brooding stench of that rat-addled shithole the English call a prison. It’s cloistered and grotesque, and it made the entire byplay of Jamie’s torture even more believable. If you don’t hate English justice after this episode, you might be into the rough stuff. Just sayin’.

One of the reasons this episode made my skin crawl (emphasis on the one) is the nature of Jamie’s violation. Ask yourself this question: what is the most egregious thing that happened in that hour? Is the the psychological torture? The rape? The manner of the rape? What about the dereliction of duty by a supposed officer of the Crown? What about the other men in command at Wentworth?
There are many bad players here. The implied element of the rape scenes– such as Jamie’s bloody mouth– are layers of stink on a already vile process. I cannot fathom the effort necessary for Sam to allow himself to be treated in that manner. Tobias is, by all accounts, a nice guy. Imagine being asked to sodomize someone on camera, but, you know– just pretend. That’s a heluva way to make a paycheck. You’ve got to have some fairly stern metal in your spine to walk away from days of shooting such a scene and not be permanently altered.

There’s another issue about violation that might be even more squeamish. What is the most invasive manner of rape? I suspect that the answer is quite different for men and women. This episode, if you could actually watch it, makes one confront three or four types of terror; each act is a litmus test for what our own personal fears might be. Depending on your own personal demons, I suspect that once again, we all have a different opinion about what incident resonated as the worst. Ask your spouse/partner/bestie what made their stomach turn, and you get a window into their own strengths and weaknesses. That’s the mark of cinema that transcends torture porn, and becomes a commentary on the relationship between humans.

Now, on a lighter note, many Outmanders have reveled in our own eye candy– notably Cait and Laura ( with apologies to both actresses and their lovely genetic makeup)– but thanks to the blending of Claire’s face with Jack and his creepy ass long hair, I suspect that our appetites for Claire have been, ahh, limited, at least temporarily.

So, while the ladies of the fanbase can move on, it will be some time before Outmanders can, as we say, return to our previously scheduled programming.

My sincere apologies for milking that joke. I know both talented actresses would be stiff with rage at such a cheapening of their talent– and I say that with complete honesty. In no way should this complete be viewed as stroking their egos.

I have some other issues to address, but that will require another blog, so until next week, here is your assignment:

1) Avoid all dungeons.

2) Avoid all psychotic sadists with hair like a 1970s arena rocker.

3) Do not enter even glance at any lavender based products.

4) Don’t put stuff up your butt while someone tells you they only want what’s best for you and if you loved them it would be okay and why won’t you kiss me back, Jamie? Or something like that.

Cheers for now! 


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I Dun Been Kilted: A Hole In Juan

So, here we are at the cusp of the gruesome, raw, beautiful end. My wishes are quite simple, but my hopes are– well, there are reservations.

I am hoping for a Hole in Juan. The Juan of course being that thoroughgoing bastard  of a velveteen demon,  Jonathan Wolverton Randall. 

But Black Jack is a slippery wee bastard. I know that there will be need of more than one set o’ horns, so to speak.

But dammit if I haven’t read, listened to (God bless the golden pipes of Davina Porter) and re-read the books. Therefore, my actual hopes are somewhat more pedestrian:

Now then, a couple items of fun coming up.

1) Bangles. Jewelry. A giveaway of both. Freebies for my readers. Color themed to my new paranormal series “Halfway Dead”. What do you think? Here is the cover, and the bangles:

So, lots of purple and such. 

And a second set, with moons and waffles (really!) based on this second bit of art:

Stop by for a look, wont you? Books. Stories. Tales.