The Characters inside my Jmo’s Head, An Interview

Yes, it is I, Stud L. Monkey yet again taking over J. Morgan’s Giggles from the Darkside. This time the geekoid asked me to interview him about character development, or some such foolishness. If you ask me, if a guy asks a figment of his Id to talk to him, he has bigger issues than being an author. Like being stone cold nutters with a capital Nutty Buddy in his belfry, because not even bats would roost in his bell tower. But, hey, it’s a paycheck, and since I’m something of a character myself, I thought it’d be fun to screw with him.

Stud: All comfy there, Jmo? Stop fiddling with the buckles. It’s supposed to be that tight. If you keep messing with it, the tie in back will come loose.

Jmo: When I asked you to interview me, I didn’t mean put me in a straight jacket while I was taking a nap.

Stud: I ain’t Oprah! If you wanted a nice comfy chair with a key to some eco-friendly car under the seat, you shoulda asked somebody else. Now, shut you yap, and let me make with the David Letterman. So, have you always been crazy, or is this a midlife crisis thing?

Jmo: That wasn’t on the list I gave you! And, I’m not crazy.

Stud: You’re basically talking to yourself, and you say you’re not crazy. You’re the freaking poster-child for it! Okay, I’ll ask you something that won’t make you turn all red in the face. So, Mr. Jmo, how do you go about developing your characters?

Jmo: I start with a basic idea. A rough sketch of who I believe my character is. Usually, I start with my heroine. She is the one telling the story most of the time. I’ve said this before but I usually base them on a friend. That might sound like life plagiarism, but to me the people I know are just too interesting not to use. The hero comes next. He plays straight man to my heroine. Not all the time, but most of the time that’s the case. I pull in from a lot of sources to create just the perfect foil for her. The only book I can think of where my hero came first was Love Free Stake Hard, and well Mis-Staked, of course. Both those books have something in common. The heroes were based partly on me.

Stud: Ha! So you admit that your heroes are all you! I knew it!

Jmo: When you get right down to it, all my characters are me. As a writer it would be impossible to create a character without bring part of who I am into them. My experiences, moral compass and geeky disposition oozes into every fiber of each character that pops out of my head. So, I guess you could say, my personality disorder finds an outlet other than just being the voices in my head. That isn’t to say that every character is the same. Each character is uniquely themselves. I just channel a different aspect of who I am, coupled with whoever I base the character on. That would make them the love child of me and my muse. That sounded so much better in my head.

Stud: Ew! That’s where it should have stayed too. If I were one of your muses, I’d sue for child support and mental anguish. Let’s move on before you say something to make me upchuck. You said you start with a rough sketch of a character. What brings definition to them?

Jmo: The plot. The book itself defines who they are. Just like when you meet someone for the first time, all you get is the good first impression. It’s only after you hang out with them for awhile that you get the real picture of who they are. Through the course of the book, characters surprise you by how they react to any given situation. That means that no matter how well you thought you knew them, they do things that make you go hmmm, very interesting. To me writing is like reading. I’m never sure what’s going to happen until it happens.

Stud: Very interesting. And how do you feel about that?

Jmo: Are you trying to psychoanalyze me?

Stud: Am I?

Jmo: Just ask the next question?

Stud: Alright, but my fans will not be pleased by how you abuse me. In fact, I’m bored now, so which characters stand out as those closest to who you are?

Jmo: You of course. Breathred for all his geekiness is me at heart. A guy who wishes to be a hero in a world that doesn’t want one, but needs one. Deme from Love Bites 3, for his naïveté and seeing the world through a computer screen most of the time. Caern from Immortally Damned. As a man who constantly struggles with his spirituality and his place in God’s plan, I purposely went into that book wanting to address that struggle and all its implications. But, when you get down to it, all of them hold some part of me inside them.

Stud: Okay, twizzle britches, what about the characters you’ve based on your buds?

Jmo: Ha! My greatest achievement as an author would have to be capturing the heart of my sister of the heart Susan, in character form. Waterfall Woman is her to a T. Madison from The Southern Werewolf Chronicles is my wife body and soul. Jenn might not be a Southern Deb, but she and Madison capture the spirit of Southern women. Strong, opinionated, beautiful and ultimately willing to do anything for those they love. Mad Marlene from the upcoming Bite Marks Two truly hits so close to home, not even I can tell them apart. The same goes for quite a few others, but names of the innocent, or not so innocent, must be protected.

Stud: That jokes so old, Moses wouldn’t even use it. And, on that I’m out of here. Jmo, you can Houdini your way out of that jacket, because I am offended that you think I’m fictional. Buddy, me and you are the same person. You’re just too scared to admit it. Now, I’m off to see how fast that Prius will really go!

Jmo: Stud! Let me out of this thing. If you don’t, you’ll so regret it.

Boom! Insert door slamming here.

Jmo: Okay, I’ll regret it. Before you go, in the coming weeks, I’ll be interviewing some of my character muses to see how they felt about being immortalized by the written word, and how close I came to capturing them.

Good night folks. Uh, if anyone out there would like to help me here, I’d appreciate it. He turned off the light, and I’m sitting in the dark.


An impromptu photo opp for Stud.

This message is chimp approved..


Jordan Bollinger’s Director’s Cut: Duty with Honor

When I approached my friend Jordan Bollinger about blogging on the Giggles, I asked her for something totally wow. She informed me that she had just the thing. Seeing as how she not only writes romance about super spies, she is always a spy in the house of love, I was intrigued to say the least. I asked what she had. She told me this, “Ever wonder what happens between books? Our characters are real, and their lives don’t stop just because the book does. (Hey, it’s good to be crazy!) So, let me give you a little peek at what they can be up to on their ‘down time’.”

That’s right people! She has an honest to goodness deleted scene, only not so much deleted as a director’s cut scene that ties Books 1 and 2 of her Duty with Honor series together. Man! This is so much better than a whole stack of DVD Bonus Features. So, sit back and enjoy something never before seen and written especially for the Giggles.


Duty with Honor

Call of Duty

A Bonus Scene


Jordan Bollinger



“Hello?” Beth Bennett answered the phone on the kitchen island.

“Aunt Beth, when were you going to tell me about this dreamy new man in your life?

“Ah…well…I guess I didn’t think I had to,” she said. Then, with a giggle added, “I mean, I thought your dad would have pretty much alerted the media.”


“I rest my case. Besides, you know Andrew.”

“Yes, I do. And he’s gorgeous. If it you weren’t my favorite auntie, I’d be so jealous. Now, tell me everything.”

“Really, Sarah, I don’t know what to tell you. According to your father, it was you who suggested he ask me to meet him. Why? Are you saying he didn’t asked you. And, he told me you said you were too busy.”

“Well…” her niece hesitated for a moment, then added, “I did tell him I was too busy to go away for a long weekend. But, to be completely honest, I kind of think Dad and Drew did plan this out. But, that’s just between the two of us. Besides, they’d probably never admit it.”

“You’ve got that right,” Beth said, with a giggle.

“So, tell me everything?”

“Sarah, what is there to tell? Your father and Andrew set me up, ambushed me, and even though I was mad in the beginning, I have to admit, I did have a good time — for the most part.”

“What does that mean?”

“Well,” Beth said, after she considered for minute, “I did get upset that your dad told me Drew was a banker, and Andrew said he was an importer. So, I was pissed when I found out that he was like your granddad — and he and your dad had lied. You’d think that spies would know enough to get their stories straight. Wouldn’t you?”

“Yes, you’d think so,” Sarah answered. “But, you do like him, don’t you? I mean, you’re going to keep seeing him?”

“We’re working on it, honey. But, it’s not like he lives down the street. Since we came back from Washington, D.C., he’s made it back here several times. And each visit is several days. I’m just not sure how much longer we can maintain this.

“After all, we need to get to know each other. Still, I will admit he is something special.”

“That’s what Mom used to say. She said Andrew was exceptional — then she’d kind of ruin it and say something like — just like your dad.”

“Well, your father is exceptional. Don’t you think?”

“I suppose,” the younger woman answered, in a very unconvincing voice.

“Sarah!” her aunt exclaimed, “I know you don’t quite get how important he was when I was your age and even younger, but he’s responsible for an enormous percentage of the popular music for the sixties and seventies. What did you listen to when you were in high school? Or listen to now? I bet you anything, in another twenty-five or thirty years, you dad’s music will still be around — and those awful hip-hop things will be long forgotten.”

“Yes, you’re probably right. I guess we just don’t appreciate him because…he’s just our dad.”

“Well, your granddad is ‘just our dad’, but we’ve always known that his job was important. While it might not be the same ways, they’ve both made an impact on the world.”

“I guess,” Elizabeth’s niece conceded. “So, why don’t you come here, to London, and visit Andrew? You know you can stay here.” She giggled, and added, “I bet Daddy would even let Andrew stay in your room. He won’t let Evan stay here.”

“Well, while you think of yourself as a twenty-three old adult, your dad thinks you’re still his baby girl.”

“I’m not even the baby…Jennifer is.”

“You know full well what I meant. And, technically, Ben is the baby — well, the younger twin.” Beth thought for a moment and then asked, “You don’t think you’re granddad would let Andrew and I sleep in the same room in his flat, do you?”

“Oh, Aunt Beth! You can’t believe that Granddad wouldn’t? No, I can’t believe that. I mean…”

“If what you’re having trouble saying is ‘You and Andrew are almost fifty.’ — it’s okay. We are. Still…I am absolutely serious. Besides, Andrew has an apartment. I would expect we’d stay there.”

“Ah…I’m not at all sure you’re going to like Drew’s apartment.”

“Why? What’s wrong with it?”

“Let’s just say it’s austere.”

“I see.”

“Anyway, I think something’s up. Daddy’s been acting kind of silly–“

“Kind of silly?” Beth cut off her niece. “He’s always been a big tease. What do you mean?”

“I don’t know. All I know is that Andrew was over the other night, and they were holed up in Dad’s study for quite a while. And, later, over dinner, they kept making these secret jokes. It was kind of annoying — like dealing with Jennifer, Ben, and a bunch of their friends.”

A deep, heavy sigh escaped from Elizabeth. “You know, I always heard that it was women who talked too much — that they were the ones who couldn’t keep a secret. But, I swear, your father and Andrew are like two thirteen-year-old girls.”

The younger woman’s giggles burst from the phone receiver. “You have that right! Anyway, when is Andrew going back to Connecticut?”

“The day after tomorrow. And, he’s supposed to have a week or so off. So, we should have some time to ourselves. Of course, Jack’s coming up, so we will be suitably chaperoned. Be sure to tell you dad and granddad — should it come up.”

“Yeah, I’ll be sure to do that — should it come up. I have to go now, Ethel’s putting stuff on the dinner table. I’ll tell everyone hi for you.’

“Okay, Sarah.”

“I love you, Aunt Beth.”

“I love you guys too. I’m sure we’ll be talking to your dad while Drew’s here. They can’t manage to go more than a few days without talking.”



Jordan‘s Sites


Duty with Honor



Desert Breeze Publishing





Leap of Faith


Second Chances



Book Three


Hunted Honeymoon

To be released October 2013


Book Four

Finessing the Wolf

To be released December 2013


De-Editing the Editor

As a writer and published author, I have learned to dread finishing a book. I know that sounds strange, because finishing a book is one of the greatest feelings in the world. Still, it’s true. Finishing a book leads to editing a book. You’re probably asking yourself how bad can that be? Let me paint you a quick picture. You drop your child off at your mother’s for the day. Sounds innocent enough. Then, when you get back, your dear mom proceeds to tell you everything you’re doing wrong as a parent, and tells you how to fix it. There, now it’s not so innocent is it? But, that’s exactly what happens when you hand in a book to be edited. Your baby is flawed and it’s all your fault!

Okay, that might be a bit overboard. Still, edits are creativity blockers of the nastiest sort. Over the years though, I can’t deny editors have shaped me into a better writer, and I’ve learned way more than I ever would have otherwise. Left to my own devices, I’m something of a stubborn mule.

Since, every author has both a healthy respect and incurable fear of editors, I thought what better way to stop the insanity than to invite one to the Giggles and see what exactly goes through an editor’s mind. What makes them tick! I feel perfectly justified in chloroforming one and bringing them into the offices. They struggle otherwise. In my defense, I did put her in a massage chair before tying her up. So, she’s all comfy. Bear with me while I take her gag out and we’ll get this interview started.

While the taste of duct tape and old sock gets out of her mouth, allow me to introduce Ann Narcisian Videan. I had the pleasure of working with her on the updated version of How Wicked Can She Go? and had a truly amazing experience. She taught me so much and addicted me to Kevin Hearne along the way. So a win win!

Jmo: Ann welcome to the Giggles and yes that taste does go away so stop spitting on the linoleum. It’s rented.

Ann: I’m actually quite delighted to be here, thanks. The massage chair conforms to my back in a lovely way, and the onion/peach flavor from the shoe odor-sterilizer faded nicely after I expectorated a few times. [She nods to the Holes fans.]

Jmo: First off, let me say thank you. I really did have a learning experience working on Wicked with you. Now, to the questions. When you approach an edit, what is your process?

Ann: Thanks, I thoroughly enjoyed reading Wicked. A definite favorite! I can’t recall laughing so much out loud, except maybe while reading Kevin Hearne.

Regarding my process… As a writer and author myself, I’ve experienced the tears prickling when someone criticizes my written baby, so I like to work with, rather than mandate to, authors. Also, in my role as owner of a firm creating marketing content writing for clients for 18 years, I also have learned how to temper the criticism with humor and camaraderie, so no one’s eyes tear up. After all, we’re in this together, right? We both want to delight readers with the most creative, exciting and seamless story experience possible.

I start my editing process by touching base with the author to get a feel for their style, and things they know I should watch for during my edit. My style is very cooperative, so I want to work closely with the writer to get the book they want, in their voice. I ascribe to Pablo Picasso’s philosophy that you should, “Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.” You must honor grammatical rules to make the writing clearer, as well as the author’s voice and style, yet still make the read easy and intriguing for readers. Sometimes, that means exercising creative license.

When I delve in to the edit, I keep my word radar attuned mostly to grammar, active voice, and story flow. I am a stickler for replacing inactive verbs with active ones. So, I warn my authors up-front I’m going to make rewording suggestions around “to be” verbs like “is,” “was,” “had,” and “been.” Sometimes this requires pretty extensive editing. I don’t expect them to make every single change I suggest, but I do ask them to consider the spirit of an idea and work to make it their own.

Jmo: I have Beta read for several of my fellow authors. The hardest part is stopping the editing process and getting lost in the story. How hard is it for you to not get lost in the story you’re working on? Or, is there a secret to detaching yourself from the reading to deal with the grammatical issues?

Ann: I used to have more trouble with this before I had so much experience. To compensate, I’d sometimes read sections backward, or read them out loud. It also helps to edit for a specific thing, like grammar, on one pass-through, then edit for another thing, like story flow, the next time through. This takes quite a bit of time, though, so I’m happy to have reached the point where I’ve trained my brain to stop at familiar grammatical changes, point-of-view hang-ups, inactive verbs, and any number of other edits, while still absorbing the story. [I have to admit, though, my brain is so well trained now, that I find myself mentally editing menus in restaurants, commercials and movie dialogue, Powerpoint presentations in business meetings, and even my own verbal speech. It can become quite annoying, especially to my family who received the brunt of it. J]

When I do find my mind lost in a story, or in my “reader mind,” which happens once in a while, especially during high action scenes, I allow myself to keep reading until I’m satisfied or reach the culmination of the scene. Then, I go back and re-read the section again using my “editor mind.”

Jmo: Editing is more than being a spell or grammar checker. I know how easy it is to forget from one scene to the next the flow of a story. Sometimes details, plot elements or just a character’s name can slip through the cracks. How much of your time usually falls into the story side of a book versus the grammar side?

Ann: I’d say at least 65 percent of my editing, on average, involves grammatical correction, especially if an author doesn’t use active voice/verbs, or is fuzzy on the best use of commas.

Another 34 percent would involve story elements: character positioning continuity, clarity of action, misspellings of key names, glitches in the story line, etc. An objective eye, and someone who hasn’t rewritten a scene until they’re sick of it, can be a very valuable asset to a story. That’s the true value of an editor, in my opinion, “to see things that no writer has seen before.” [You’ll please forgive my nerdy references? Sometimes Star Trek just offers the best way to explain something, or Doctor Who, or Joss Whedon… OK, I’ll stop.]

Don’t forget the final 1 percent of editing: praising the author for a great idea, perfect turn of phrase, or surprise story twist. Love those!

Jmo: I myself adhere to Star Wars explains it all, but agree with Doctor Who in principle. What is the most satisfying aspect of editing? Flip side to that, the most frustrating aspect to it?

Ann: I adore reading the amazing stories authors create. How often I think, “What I unique idea, I never would have thought of that!” This goes hand-in-hand with the intriguing writers behind the stories. I find these human creatures who pound words into their keyboards every day, extremely fascinating. They’re curious beings, tuned-in to people and ideas, and knowledgeable about cool places and experiences. It’s a joy to get to know them.

Frustration sets in when an author is not willing to try to improve his or her writing. I just sigh when an author isn’t willing to open up to a new way of doing something grammatically or story-wise. I don’t mind if s/he pushes back with a solid reason for keeping something the way it is, but to not even be receptive to learning something new to improve his or her writing is just unfortunate. I’ve written and edited for more than 30 years and I am still learning from my authors. I can’t wait to learn something that’s going to make my own books better, or that will enhance the reader’s experience.

Jmo: Just as an author breathes their life into their books, editors come into the process with their own unique outlook. What added value do you bring as an editor because of your work and life background?

Ann: I’ve loved words since I was a tiny child, singing every lyric I could get my ears on, reading voraciously when I could, excelling in English in school, and carrying that on into my marketing career. Honestly, I’ve written about everything you can possibly think of: from poems, ads and music lyrics to magazine articles, news releases and annual reports. This broad background, along with my career specialty of developing word-of-mouth marketing strategy for clients, brings to authors my experience in making words and ideas resonate with readers. What word choices cause emotional reactions, make an idea relatable, and more.

Jmo: I promise after you answer this last question, you’re free to go. I’ll even give you a nice cookie for being such a good sport. This is the Darkside after all and we do have cookies, and nondisclosure agreements to get me out of kidnapping prosecution.

If you could give one piece of advice to an author before they kick a book your way, what would it be? Make that to any author who hopes to get published.

Ann: Use your word processor tools to conduct a global search of your document, respectively, for the words, “is,” “was,” “had,” and “been,” and other “to be” verbs that distance your reader from the action. Just scan the pages and look for clusters of the highlighted word the search found. If you have more than one, two, or maybe three of one of these words on a page, you need to write in a more active voice using more active verbs. This will generate more vibrant writing, and create clear and exciting mental images to entice a reader to delve emotionally into your story.

Jmo: Thanks again for stopping by today Ann. Before you get that cookie and I get your signature on this little document stating you will not have me arrested and sent to the big house, please let our readers know where they can find you out there on the internet?

Ann: If you give me two cookies, I will forgive all!

Jmo: Two Cookies it is!

Ann: Find Ann’s Words.Music.Village blog at, and her word-of-mouth marketing consulting info at

Ann Narcisian Videan writes and edits marketing content for authors and visionary entrepreneurs, backed by 30 years of marketing experience focused on strategic word-of-mouth consulting. She currently serves as a fiction editor for sweet-romance publisher Desert Breeze Publishing in California. She also authored and composed Rhythms & Muse a women’s fiction novel and accompanying music soundtrack of five original songs. She’s currently writing the Delfaerune Rhapsody Series, a trilogy of young-adult fantasy adventure novels about an 18-year-old New Zealander who discovers she’s the fae musical prodigy who must retrieve and master three ancient instruments to save her worlds.

The Promo Shuffle

I’ve spent a lot of time talking about writing, the mechanics of writing, and the inspirations of writing. It’s what I do and a big part of who I am. I think I said at one point, I began this journey of being a published author way back in 2004. Talk about clueless. Going in, I was under the misconception that writing a book was the hard part. Writing is easy. Perfecting is a little harder, but if you’re open to learning doable. No, there’s one part of writing that you rarely learn about until the contract is signed.


Sure, you understand the concept that authors promote their books. Who hasn’t stood in line waiting for an autograph from our favorite author, or seen them on television? Promotion is staring us in the face. We just never think about it until it happens to us. And in 2004 it smacked me around. Being a writer, by definition I went into the project being an introverted basket case. Let’s just say it took awhile before the case climbed out of that basket. It didn’t help matters that my publisher at the time didn’t want me to be a man. Yeah, you guessed it. For two years, I was a woman trapped in a man’s body trapped in an author’s personality. You try saying that three times fast, or living it for a year and a half. Do you know how hard it is for a guy from the south who writes romance novels while cussing football games to get in touch with his feminine side? Strangely enough, it wasn’t that hard.

In fact it was freeing. When you’re both a class clown and shy, becoming a totally different person allows you to be the person you truly are. It also enabled me to interact with readers without freezing up. I’m one of those people who it takes maybe three meetings before I feel comfortable enough to open up and talk. Back then, Yahoo groups were all the rage. You wanted to meet an author, any author, you joined their group, or joined groups where authors frequently visited to promo their books. It was truly an exciting time. I was able to meet authors that would have meant going to a convention to rub shoulders with. The point is the promo of the day was word of mouth. The net would buzz with who was going to be where. Live chats would be going on every night of the week. Sheri Kenyon would be chatting away on one group. Angela Knight on another. Exciting didn’t begin to cover it.

In addition to big names like that, small independent authors were making names for themselves. Readers truly loved getting to know new authors. Chats would last all night in some cases, with different publishers hosting rotating authors so the chats wouldn’t lag. During this time, I met readers, fellow authors and built lasting relationships with both.

One of my favorite parts of promoting on groups was coming up with new and original ways to gain attention. Excerpts with funky titles. Characters taking over and doing your talking for you. The ideas were endless. Over time, the groups dwindled as authors began bombarding groups with promos and excerpts with very little interaction between readers. And, the readers noticed and drifted away.

About this time, MySpace had just begun to gain prominence, as did the first blogs. So, promotion had a new venue to gain strength. Facebook quickly followed. Now, we have Twitter and who knows what else. I can’t keep up and probably will never be able to.

Sad to say, you can write an amazing book and get lost in the promo shuffle very easily. As a writer I still believe the best promotion is word of mouth. Excellence wins out. So, how do you get that excellence noticed? I honestly don’t know.

What I do know is that I focus first on writing the best books possible. If people notice, great. But, I won’t skimp on quality just to throw out more books, or spend more time promoting than I do on crafting well written books. Since, you’re obviously reading this, you know I am willing to give my opinion and sway you to my form of the Darkside, so I am a promotion devotee. Why you may ask yourself?

Because I believe in my books. I believe they offer something different and original that a reader will enjoy escaping into. I believe in myself as a writer. I believe that my talents have been tempered by my ability to accept I’m not as good as I think I am, but am good enough to get better with each book. I finally believe that for the span of my books you will enjoy yourself and get lost in the worlds I create from the insanity in my head.

I write because I can’t not write. For no other reason. If you’ve read my books, and I’ve taken you away from your life and given you a satisfying smile, then to me that is the best form of promotion in the world. More than that is gravy on top of some truly amazing mashed potatoes. I do love my mashed potatoes.

As I wrap this up, I ask you to consider one thing the next time you finished a book that truly wowed you. Tell people about it. I know I do. I love my favorite authors and can’t help bragging about them. Now, with the industry growing with the advent of Amazon, iBooks and the rush of self publishing, word of mouth is even more important. I won’t even go into piracy. But, without the support and word of mouth of readers, the author you love today, just might be the author who has to take a full time day job to make ends meet, instead of doing what he or she loves.

What does that mean? Sadly, it means instead of crafting the worlds you love, that author might be the guy changing your oil, or the woman ringing you up at Wal-Mart. To me that is the sadness note of all. The worlds we’ll never visit and get lost in.

Experiences, Life Lessons, and Grandpawdom!

A writer is the sum of his or her experiences. Then again, aren’t we all?


That is part of living, you learn stuff. Or, you don’t as the case may be. At forty four years of stupidity, I’ll gladly admit that some lessons are harder learned than others, and some I doubt I’ll ever get. Yeah, I’m that hard headed at times.


As a writer with nearly nine years of practice under my belt, I’d like to say I have a decent enough handle on the mechanics of writing to know what I’m doing. I struggle with issues at times but that is part of the process. Writing is a never ending battle with life and imagination. I consider it a spiritual journey of sorts at times. When outside influences affect your balance, you just can’t write. Bad day at work. Nope, not going to happen. Nastiness on the news. You’re out of pocket. Things happen. I won’t go into all the things. You’re fighting through it right along with me, so you don’t need me to spell out how life gets crappy sometimes.


This is what I’m trying to get at in a rambling way, we need the crappy! Huh? What is joy without crap to make you appreciate it? Especially as a writer, we need to make wonder out of the mundane. What is the joy of two people falling in love without the journey, sometimes sorrow and angst filled, that brought them to them to happiness? It’s a sitcom, with a laugh track telling you when you’re supposed to be happy. I don’t know about you, but I may enjoy a laugh track occasionally, but life’s unexpected is much more satisfying. Sure, it may result in tears and hair pulling, but at least it’s yours. You’ve lived it! You’ve beaten it. You’ve earned the right to wallow in it, overcome it, or just generally go WTF! I’ll say this and you can take from it what you will. That right you got up there, never let anyone take it away from you. You are uniquely you and if someone says get over it, they have never been in your shoes and never will be.


Okay off that soapbox, so let’s move forward.


Up until this point, the experiences I’ve channeled into my writing have come from who I was, who I wanted to be, and ultimately who I’ve become at this moment in time. Son, geek, immortal teenage god, egomaniac, husband, father, and a very introverted artist. Recently, the path of my maturity as both a man and writer has brought me to a spiritual crossroads, which I think every middle-aged man embarks upon at one time or another in his life. I’ve done the sports car at forty. The trophy wife at twenty-nine, who by the way is even more beautiful fifteen years into our life together than the first time I saw her. Now, thanks to my beautiful daughter, I am about to begin a new journey. Grandfatherdom!


Since the first book that crawled out of my head onto the screen, I’ve been writing nonstop. Sometimes writing up to three books a year, some big, some bigger, and a small book here and there. Most have been comedic. Nearly all have been comedic, who am I kidding? Recently, I dug out the first comedy I wrote. To me it is funnier than the newer things. It was sharper, harder edged and I was willing to take chances on what I said and how I presented it. But, it wasn’t as good as the newer books. It lacked the maturity of knowing funny for shock value is sometimes just not funny. True comedy is a commentary on the human condition. True storytelling is crafting something that touches the reader at many levels. You make a reader laugh, think, and cry if that’s what the story is about. You do all this within the confines of a story that on the surface might not be that deep. But, every story is that deep. If you think it isn’t, you’re deluding yourself. If you sit down and take the time to invite people into your world, you have something to say. You might not realize it, but others do. Writing is you revealing you in subtle ways to others. The essence of you comes out without fail. It is both a beautiful and horrifying thing to discover.


 No, don’t go running under the bed. You can survive this revelation, or make room for everyone else under there with the dust bunnies.


Back to this new journey of mine. With the birth of my grandson only a few weeks away, I wonder what experiences I’ll bring to his life, and how it’ll seep into my writing. I will gladly be the first to say, as a father I was both a failure and success. Loving someone is never easy, and as the father of a strong and smart daughter, heads bumped and we might not have always been on the same page, but never once did we stop loving each other or know that at the end of the day, I wouldn’t be there if she needed me. That in no way means I don’t have regrets that haunt me. I could have been a better man. I can only live with the knowledge, I was the best man I could have been at the time and in spite of my screw ups, she has become the woman I always knew she would be. That is the legacy I am most proud of. Not my writing. Writing is great and I am proud of every book, but to see my daughter standing on her own two feet with the confidence to know she can do anything she sets her mind to. Now, that is something to beam about.


That said. I’m going to be a grandpaw! Which is the ultimate second chance. I know he may never read his grandpaw’s books, but I have found myself thinking of books that he would read one day. This year saw me write my first young adult. I think it began with him in mind. I also started a silly kids’ book. I couldn’t imagine anything greater than reading him a book I wrote with my own artwork to go along with it. I’m not sure if it would be something anyone else would be interested in, but who knows? It may be something I’d put out there for others to try.


As I wrap this up, I stand on a new fork in the road. My life experiences are once again about to redefine who I am. Not change me, but give a new aspect to who I can be.


And, I’m pretty darn excited!


How Wicked Can a Witch Muse Go!

First off, let me apologize for missing Sunday’s blog. Between Labor Day and some breakage of my glasses, seeing let alone writing a blog was near impossible. That said, Welcome to my mid week offering. And, boy! Do we have something special.

Sometimes characters talk to you and sometimes they are truly inspired. Sometimes, you get lucky and they do both. When I start writing, I always try to get a visual of who is about to take over my life. Because, that’s what they do. characters become your world for however long you craft their stories.
Today, I thought it would be fun to go back in time to visit one of my favorite characters. Nikki from How Wicked Can She Go? Mainly, because Desert Breeze Publishing is releasing the book with all new material to include it into my Love Bites/Southern Werewolf world. This story really kicked off the concept of a shared universe in my titles. I always saw my stories as patches in a giant quilt. A comedic quilt in the case of these books. it took me a few years to realize what I was really do, but that comes with age and experience. Not that I’m old, but working on it.
Anyway, like I often do, I based Nikki on a very good friend. Who better to steal from that a friend? Layering in a real person and fictional character is not as easy as it sounds. You take the reality of who someone is to give you a basis to work from. That doesn’t mean that character is them, just that their heart went into the character. The rest is outrageous exaggeration of the worst sort, or that’s what I was told to tell you on pain of withering members.
Drum roll please. Time to meet the real Nikki, Melanie Gilbreath.
Jmo: Sit! Sit! And, welcome to the Giggles. First off, I want to thank you for being Nikki’s heart and soul. That said, what was your first reaction when I asked you if you would be my Nikki? Not, what you said, which I can’t remember anyway, but the thought that raced through your mind. If you can’t remember just fake it. I do it all the time.
Mimi: Well as I remember it, you never actually asked. You just kept sending me chapters, and after I’d read them ask me probing questions and such. It was a bit strange so I asked your wife what was going on. Her exact words were, I think. “She’s you, idgit, Nikki is you!” to which I replied “OOHHHH, well… that explains so much!”
 Then I asked why you wanted to call her Nikki. Hmmph. I’m still not over that one.
Jmo: One of the things I remember most about writing the book, was you helping me get the witch facts, maybe not right, because I’m nowhere near right, but working with me on adapting what I wanted to do with what would be fine with people who might have misconceptions when it comes to witches. The word Mitches came about because of those conversations.
Mimi: Well. I’m pretty tolerant of the mundane masses. You had certain things you wanted to accomplish that aren’t any where near the realm of reality .It’s a romance book with a heavy dose of fantasy. I think, in this day and age, there are plenty of books out there for people who really wish to know what modern witches do. Fiction writers should be able to flex their imagination without the reality police bothering them.
Jmo: Even though, Wicked is a comedic farce, there are some real issues addressed. What is true love? What does it mean? What would someone do for love? Or, give up for that matter. As a reader and writer of romance yourself, how important do you think it is to have that balance between fictional ‘love’ and the reality of ‘love’, even in a comedic work?
Mimi: Well, I guess it depends on what emotions your wanting to evoke in your readers. With a funny book I think it’s best to keep the things light. Of course the reality of love can be pretty funny so I think it’s pretty easy to add that tone of realism to a comedic story.
Jmo: Okay, this part is the toughy. How much do you actually see of yourself in Nikki?
Mimi: Well, I do not have an unhealthy obsession with celery. And the bosoms. Those bosoms are not nearly as epic as mine actually are. Seriously, though. you got my speech patterns down and Nikki’s quirkiness.  
Jmo: Finally, because I do have other deadlines to meet, and I already missed one blog this week due to Labor Day festivities, if you could be Nikki for one day, what cosmic power would you unleash on an unsuspecting world?
Mimi: The Island of Reverend Mimi Jennlandia would mysteriously appear. Stocked with an endless supply of chocolate and peopled by two fat happy women and every hawt celebrity on our fantasy harem teams to do all the housework and heavy lifting. Supervised, of course, by our actual husbands so we could just relax and live the life of leisure we actually were meant to.
Jmo: Well, uh, yes. Time to go. But, before I do. Here’s the future page for the Love Bites Edition of How Wicked Can She Go?. Sorry for the advertisement but a guy’s gotta promo eventually.
How Wicked Can She Go?
Desert Breeze Publishing