Tag Archives: character creation

Another Twist in the Road

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Well, okay here we go. I’ve been putting off writing this, because I’m still figuring it all out, but I’ll do my best.

Hunt Press and I have mutually parted ways and I am currently without a publisher. They wished me all the best and I wish them the best of luck. I’ll never forget that Angela was the first publisher to believe in my and my work. They were my first break and my first fans. But things came up and they optioned me the rights to my works back and we both agreed that would be the best course. Thanks for everything, Angela, Barrie, Laureen, and Tamala, and I’m glad we’re all still buddies.

I’m excited and scared and a little overwhelmed.

What does this mean? Well it means that currently my Hunt Press works are unavailable for purchase at this time. If you REALLY need one, I have a grand total of 3 books left (2 of Runs in Good Condition and 1 of Madame Bluestocking’s Pennyhorrid. Email or message me if you want to buy them.) I’m working to rectify that which means, for the time being, I will be publishing my past books through my LLC, Tangent Artists. We’re the guys who came up with “The Handbook for Saucy Bards,” and “A Cleric’s Guide to Smiting,” so I think they’re in good hands.

So what now? Well, my top priority right now is getting Book 3 in the Linus Saga, “No Shoes, No Service,” out there for those who have been waiting so patiently (and for those who have been waiting impatiently). I don’t want a five-year-gap in releases to become a six-year-gap. Then maybe I’ll go down the line with re-releases of Book 1 “Must Love Dragons,” Book 2, “Runs in Good Condition.” And maybe then I’ll even be able to release the prequel I’ve been working on, “Must Love Humans.”

The reason I say “maybe,” for all of this is because after all these years I’ve realized that doing it on my own isn’t helping my career any and I will begin soliciting for an agent. I am currently looking for someone to represent me, so if you like my writings, musings, and other things and want to see more of them, any help you can give me in this matter would be spectacular.

This is where you can help: as most of you know, I’ve dedicated several years of my life to working on these projects. I’m also writing 3 webcomic series that I publish every week for free. GRATIS. By publishing books, and doing freelance work, the money I make goes to, not only help my family, but it also pays for the equipment and time spent on providing free entertainment to the internet for all to see. Please consider visiting the Tangent Artists storefront and purchasing something. Every little bit helps. It will also raise funds to help produce Book 3, so I don’t have to go too deep into my pocket to do it.

Tangent Artists also has a FULLY BACKED kickstarter that’s ending in only a few hours. If you like to play FATE rpgs, or know someone who does, the Fate Accompli erasable game aides are a great product, and a SURE THING crowd-funding-wise.

Okay. I know you all got my back on this. I’m so honored and blessed to have so many people gunning for me, buying my books, asking for more, giving me assurances and encouragement, and spreading the word. I’m so grateful that my fellow Tangent Artists have got my back too and are willing to set aside comic-making time to help me get this done.

And you. You, the person reading this, you are my reason for doing this. Thank you. Thank you for everything and let’s continue in this vein and grow old together as I work hard to make more stories and art to entertain you. It’s going to be a wild and crazy ride, and this is just another hairpin turn in the “flying dutchman” coaster that is life, so let’s just throw our hands up in the air and scream for the fun of it… and hope we don’t get clobbered by a random seagull like Fabio did.

Love to all,

Monica Joanne Marier

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Inktober twofer

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I missed yesterday’s post due to force majeur so today I’m posting a two-fer. These are both character illustrations for the upcoming Skeleton Crew RPG book character creation section for ready-to-plays. The first is a Jacobean scardey-cat called “Headless Hob.” I approached him as sort of a “Canterville Ghost” meets Scooby Doo villain and he came out looking darling. The next is rougher and more visceral. It’s supposed to be an ancient Celtic warrior wight. I was inspired by the traitor ghosts in Return of the King. I think it would read a lot better with a black background or some other finessing. In retrospect this was a hard one to do with just ink. Anyway. More tomorrow. Bye!

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Character Spotlight: Avery Bachhaussen

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One of the classic rules of writing is that if you want your character to have extraordinary adventures outside of the ordinary you give him a) freedom, b) drive or c) money. Linus running for Union President, like he did in Runs in Good Condition happened totally organically, since I actually hate politics and never thought I’d write about an election. But as soon as I knew that he HAD to run there was a polite knock at my brain and there was Avery again saying, “Um, excuse me? Can I be of any service to you?”

 Avery Bachhaussen

 

Avery first made his appearance at the very end of Must Love Dragons. He was just a Ranger on Linus’ side who helps him out a bit. I had no idea that he was actually going to continue on into The Linus Saga as a character. He’s just one of those ideas that took on a life of their own.

When he started out in my brain he was just an extra that was a carbon copy of Crispin Bonham-Carter’s version of Mr. Bingley in the 1992 production of Pride and Prejudice. But even if he looks identical to that in my head, he’s taken on a character of his own in the process of writing him and turned out far more interesting than I had intended.

Avery is a privileged only son of Old Money, on par with hotel magnates and electronic company CEOs. He’s your classic nice guy. He always wants to help, he’s passionate about causes he believes in and never wants to have anyone mad at him.

But like the standard ‘nice guy’ of today he has a lot of flaws. He’s naïve and easily led by other people’s opinions, ready to accept them without consulting the facts or his own feelings. He takes everything at face value and is quick to divide the world into black and white, until he gets another opinion to zealously believe in. So, basically he’s that guy on Facebook that will share every “share if you want to stop/ help/support____” post, and writes “THIS” about articles outlining the latest injustice without actually reading them or checking the sources—the headline’s pretty much said everything, right?

So, Avery is a sweetheart, but he doesn’t have a single original thought in his brain. Unfortunately that’s starting to clash with his new family. He has a young wife and a (pending) child—another decision he made because he followed societal norms. The problem is that no one is telling him how to do this “family” thing or how to feel about it. There’s no one to form his opinions for him and no one to get him worked up into a fervor about it. How is he going to keep things going without passion for his loved one—passion he instead devotes to his work?

I’ll have to find out in a future book, I guess.

 

FUN FACTS:

*The one time Avery showed the world he was his own man was when he chose to marry someone without money. It was his one act of rebellion against his family, who still constantly criticize his involvement in civil affairs.

*Avery’s very altruistic and donates regularly to causes like, homes for orphans, widows pensions, schools, and apprenticeship fees for boys who might not otherwise be able to afford them.

*He’s also slightly patriarchal, willing to defer to men and let them lead him around by the horns but never thinking that women or children have anything of value to contribute. He himself is unaware of this and would be quite shocked if you told him this.

*Avery became a Ranger to get out going to parties and stuffy mansions. He enjoys spending time outdoors and is a formidable hunter and horseman.

Character Spotlight: Tyrrus Gruthsfield

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It’s high time I covered a baddy, so this week’s post is about Tyrrus Gruthsfield. Now, I don’t like to think of him as a baddy, although he’s definitely a villain in books 1 & 2. I just dislike characters who are evil through and through. I grew up watching cartoonishly evil bad guys in movies and on TV that were evil simply for the sake of being evil, and those always bothered me a bit (I should probably write a post on this later.) The point is, Tyrrus isn’t a villain because he wants to be evil. Like all proper villains, Tyrrus thinks he’s the hero of his own story—in this case a story of loss, love and abandonment.

We first meet Tyrrus when he appears in the last act of Must Love Dragons as the ruthless head of the corrupt Rangers Union. But we also know he and Linus have a history together. Let’s look into that, shall we?

 

 

Image copyright ©2014 Monica Marier

Image copyright ©2014 Monica Marier

 HISTORY

Linus met Tyrrus when upon passing his entrance exams at the Rangers Union to become a Pre-One Ranger, or a Ranger-in-training. This is an apprenticeship period where a Ranger is usually assigned to an E-10 Ranger in good standing to have as mentor. The trainers assigned Linus to Tyrrus Gruthsfield, who was in his late 30’s at the time. Tyrrus was a rugged, jovial dandy bachelor, with a love of adventure and a lust for high living. He and Linus bonded straight away. Linus was in awe of this rugged expert of the wilderness and his bombastic personality. Tyrrus fed off of Linus’ admiration, and his youthful outlook made Tyrrus feel like he himself was a young teen again.

When Linus had finished his year under Gruthsfield as a student and graduated to E-1, he continued to travel and work with Tyrrus as a friend and compatriot. Linus became a family to Tyrrus, who had grown up as an orphan in the Rangers Union’s boys home for foundlings and had never known a family.  And Linus, who had always had to fight with his dozen siblings for attention, enjoyed the singular attention Gruthsfield was giving him and eventually left his father’s house to live at the Union boarding house with Gruthsfield and other young bachelors.

Tyrrus tried to advise Linus as best he could on how best to navigate the rocky path of his late teens into adulthood, but it was myopic and sometimes self-serving. Tyrrus had avoided growing up, and didn’t really want Linus to either. It’s possible that a lot of Linus’ early missteps (bad relationships, hijinks, faux pas, his drinking habits) were either from Tyrrus’ lack of direction or from simply bad advice.

It was about five years after their pairing, when Linus began to make friends and peers in his own age-group, that his relationship with the then 40-something Tyrrus became strained. Tyrrus became more controlling of Linus and his free-time and assignments. He subtly tried to orchestrate fallings out between Linus and his friends, and when that didn’t work, he would bombard Linus with accusations of betrayal and callousness.  

Linus didn’t take well to Gruthsfield’s constant intrusion on his life—feeling like he was tied to the apron strings of a clucking, nagging mother hen. By the time when Linus was beginning to slip into depression, alcohol, and a dangerous affair—a time when Gruthsfield genuinely wanted to help Linus—it was too late. Linus had already stopped listening to Grusthfield.

 The incident with Tchineline (as outlined in Runs in Goods Condition) was the final breaking point and, soon after, Linus severed ties with his ex-mentor. Tyrrus and Linus most likely had no contact with eachother until the events of Must Love Dragons. Linus was more than aware of Gruthfield’s rise to power in the Union, but was only a disinterested bystander at the time. He had no idea that during that twenty-some years in-between Gruthfield had spent it brooding on the loss of his only friend and family, and becoming harder and more twisted as the realization of his own mortality grew more apparent and tortured him with the passage of time.

 

Fun Facts:

*The name Tyrrus is (rather obviously) taken from the Greek tyrannos meaning monarch or King.

*Gruthsfield’s actions have always been chiefly fueled by his fear of aging and death. It’s what draws him closer to true villainy as he begins to enter old age.

*He probably assaulted Linus a few times in their younger days, but played it off later as nothing. That unrequited attraction, as well as his emotional manipulation was a key factor in their falling out and later turned into the hatred we see in the books.

*Tyrrus was the one who blackballed Linus from renewing his Ranger’s E-10 license prior to the events of Must Love Dragons. After failing to ban him entirely, he brought up the motion to make Linus restart as an E-1.

* In my head, his voice sounds like the late Tony Jay.

Character Spotlight: Orin

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In incredibly late character spotlight goes to Linus’ second son, Orin.

 

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We first hear about Orin in Must Love Dragons, in the following exchange:

“Why does the little boy look so worried?” asked Morf.

            “Oh that’s Orin, my five-year-old. He was just a little scared. The artist had a mustache. Orin is terrified of people with mustaches,” Linus clarified.

            “Smart kid,” laughed Morfindel. “Is it only mustaches?”

            “No,” sighed Linus. “He’s also afraid of dolls with glass eyes, crows, the kitchen stove, coat stands, that spiders will crawl into his shoes at night, and the hole in the privy…to name a few,” 

It’s plain to see that Orin has a lot of anxiety over seemingly ordinary things. He’s very sensitive, high strung, and imaginative. He snaps out of it often enough to pal around with his sisters (who he gets on well with) but will then lapse into a thoughtful daze or suddenly panic and run for his room. This is because while Orin has a brilliant imagination, he doesn’t know how to control it or separate it from reality. He spins beautiful stories that enchant him, but he also has a flair for the macabre that broods and festers in his mind until it haunts his dreams and torments him daily.

Linus is at his wits ends over what to do with such a boy. Carson was bad enough with his fondness for staying indoors reading, but he was tough enough that Linus didn’t worry too much about him.

Orin is the one he worries about. Linus is most worried because Orin is acting now very much like his brother, Palmer, had as a child. Linus is frantically trying to find a way to “snap Orin out of it,” for fear that he’ll turn into a cold snobbish sociopath like Palmer did. Sadly this involves a lot of hamfisted attempts at therapy,usually resulting in Orin developing new and original fears at an even faster clip.

Orin is somewhat based off of my son who is also very highstrung and imaginative, but he’s also in part based off of myself and all my myriads of irrational fears. My nickname at school was “crybaby,” and I was constantly scaring myself with my own morose imaginings.

Over time Orin is going to find ways to deal with them, but he’s going to reach out to another family member who understands a bit more about what he’s going through—Palmer. We’ll just see how that goes.

Fun Facts:

*I got the name Orin while remembering Little Shop of Horrors, although there is NO similarity between my sweet boy and the homicidal dentist.

*Orin is classic case of a child with Asperger’s with ADHD (which I have), but of course in Linus’s world he’s simply labeled as “flighty,” “particular,” and “having an old soul.”

*Orin is a philosopher by nature. He’s always one to argue about why things must be done, why that is the case, and whether there’s any sense in it. 

*Orin doesn’t get on with Carson, the latter of which sees Orin as a pest and an annoying tail.

*Orin is very clever but gets poor marks at school for not paying attention and for going on tangents about his flights of fancy to his classmates.

I’m not going to go into the three youngest children, Fia, Lenny, and Elsie, since they are really too young to talk about. I may do after a few more books with them come out.

That’s it for the brood of Linus. Feel free to make any suggestions for next week’s character spotlight!

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Character Spotlight: Thisbe Weedchacker

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We’re on to Linus’ brood-child number three with the irascible middle-child Thisbe.

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Thisbe Weedwhacker by Monica Marier

We get to know Thisbe in Runs in Good Condition. She’s in every way a typical middle child of a large family. She chafes at the authority her older sister, Irene, has over her and in retaliation likes to exploit any weaknesses in her sister’s armor. Thisbe is clever and has a sharp tongue and even sharper ears. A born tattle-tale with a thirst for gossip, she’s always the first to tease a sibling over a supposed crush or troubles with classmates in school, or any trials like new glasses, stunted growth, pimples, unruly hair, or (in Irene’s case) being skinny and flat-chested. She also terrorizes her younger syblings in an attempt to wrest control from Irene and bosses the life out of them.

Linus and Deirdre take a lot of her antics in stride. Linus in particular is familiar with sisters fighting like cats in a sack and turning into little generals. He’s at a loss as to how to deal with Irene, however, and lets a lot of her antics go unchallenged and ignored, which is precisely what Thisbe doesn’t want. She constantly feels at odds with her siblings for attention and feels like the lowest rung on the ladder. Her hard work goes unnoticed because Carson and Irene have done it first and done it better, yet she isn’t coddled and comforted like Orin,Fia, and the babies because she’s too old. 

Her only chance to shine is in her innate gift of keeping house. Thisbe is better than her parents and her sister at cooking, cleaning, sewing, and in addition is a champion knitter and crocheter. And yet she feels ashamed that being a good housewife and mother is her highest ambition, as other siblings go on about university careers, and travel. She’s not a bad kid by any means; she’s industrious, generous, open, and honest. Her desire for attention, however, is going to lead to her lashing out, especially in my next book.

FUN FACTS:

*Irene adores and idolizes her brother Carson, even though she’s closer to Orin in age and tastes.

*Irene has a huge crush on Morfindel, and most of her acting out in The Linus Saga, is done to get Morfindel to notice her.

*She learned to sew without her parents knowing, simply because she wanted her hand-me-down dresses from her sister to look like it was a different dress. Without asking, she managed to sun bleach the dress, add a lace collar, and embroider it with pink thread. Her father actually scolded her because he thought she had stolen a dress, until Thisbe proved it was her own work. After that, Linus made sure she was well-supplied with any wool, thread and lawn he could get at a good price.

*While Thisbe loves to knit and make pretty dresses for herself, most of her work is selflessly made for her family members. She makes the most things for Carson (and later on, Morfindel), and makes the fewest things for Irene. The pieces she makes for Irene are usually intricate and advanced pieces. These are mostly to rub in Irene’s face the fact that she can’t knit or sew.

* It’s been mentioned that the Weedwhackers have been hosts to several cats over the years. These were all strays that were brought home by Thisbe. 

*Thisbe has already decided that her husband is going to be a shopkeeper with brown hair and a cleft chin. Their children will be named Garth and Louisa and they’ll have a white cat named Marzipan.

 

That’s it for Thisbe. Next week we’ll look at Old Soul, Orin Weedwhacker.

If you enjoyed this post, please consider donating to my fund for a new computer so I can keep making more.

Thanks for reading!

 

 

Where it Starts and Where it Ends

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This one was HARD to write, so apologies in advance.

So, I’ve been posting some character sheets every Wed. and while I’ve answered a lot of questions (some of them mine!) about each character there’s still a lot of questions I don’t know the answer to, especially regarding some characters like Linus.

When people ask me how I map out a plot, I always joke that I start with an A and a Z and everything in between is improvised. That’s not exactly true, while I do start at the beginning of the book, I never start at the beginning. There’s just too much. Some of it is because I myself haven’t thought up everything, and some of it is because after a few hundred pages my books get too heavy to cart around.

The other day, my cover artist (who also reads my books) saw my post on Linus’ wife Deirdre and asked me, “So what happens when Linus dies? Does she turn back into a dragon? Does she go first?”

I had to stare at the wall for a while after that one. It was a bit like that beginning of the Pixar movie “Up.” I saw that with my husband and we both started crying. And it wasn’t just us; every other couple in the theatre started crying because they knew there was that inevitable certainty ahead: “someday we’ll have to say good bye, and one of us will be left behind.”

Yes, I know Linus is fictional, yes I know I get to choose the manner of his demise, but then it’s still hard and it will happen in his timeline. I might never put it on paper, and if I do you lot may never get to read it, but it does happen. It’s a fact that Linus is dead by the time of Madame Bluestocking’s Pennyhorrid. 250+ years is too long for even a Half-elf to live. All of this made me really moody and upset, because these are thoughts I don’t usually deal with—that I don’t WANT to deal with.

And I didn’t deal with it, until one night when I got out of bed, grabbed a stack of card stock and the nearest pencil (sorry, it’s red) and started sketching Linus. Half a dozen drawings of him at all different ages. I wanted to find out more what this person was like all through his life, not just the little window I’ve shown him in:

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Here’s Linus when he was about 6 or 7. He was a happy kid, with fewer siblings, and who still thought his parents were perfect, he would always be safe and loved, and who didn’t realize yet just how poor his family was. While his brothers picked on him a lot, they weren’t blood enemies, and Linus was still able to have times where he was the sole attention of his mum and dad. 

 

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Linus at twelve was a different story. We know know little about him except that he and his brothers used to burn their spots off with pokers. The picture looks surly, disappointed and maybe even hurt. This is a kid that lost his illusions fast, as most low-income kids do. He’s had a lot of growing up to do, maybe before he’s ready. He’s almost done with school and then he’ll be parsed out to the workforce like his brothers. Maybe he’s feeling his parents aren’t so infallible after all, and why is he stuck in a house with too many kids and not enough to go around?

 

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This is Linus at 17, and he looks like he’s a good deal happier. He’s completed his training and is a fully fledged E1. There’s a lust for freedom in his expression. He’s handsome and he knows it will let him get away with a lot. His mentor is a cool, savvy, 30-something who keeps a long leash on him and sometimes joins in his shenanigans. And under it all is a streak of that wounded young man from the last picture. There’s the tiniest spark of cruelty as well—a desire to mete out justice, or his version of justice, anyway. He’s been hurt, he’s still confused, he’s still not a grownup, despite being given free reign. He’s oarless, rudderless, and without a destination. But who needs direction when you have endless potential?

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Well, apparently direction counts for a lot. This is Linus in his late 20’s before meeting Deirdre. His eyes are tired and jaundiced, he’s emaciated due to forgetting to eat, and prone to tremors when he doesn’t drink enough. In short, he looks like a miserable addict who’s burning his candle at both ends. His friends all hate him or have died horribly. He keeps getting in trouble so he gets drunk so he can ignore it, which gets him in more trouble. His mentor is becoming even more friendly in a manner that’s worrisome, uncomfortable and unwanted.  He has the look of a caged animal that can’t decide if it’s more afraid of the cage, or what’s outside of it. 

 

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Miraculously, he does get out of the cage to become the Linus we’re familiar with in the novels. His hardships have made him tough, surviving them has given him the gift of hindsight and laughing at his mistakes. A wife has made him passionate; fatherhood has made him tender; being loved has made him lovable. And despite all the defeats and setbacks and disappointments, he’s already won the game of life for simply making it this far and getting the chance to try again. This second try is the focus of our journey with Linus, in that casting off the past, one can take a look at the now and make the right choice.

 

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And then I made myself draw this one and had to stop myself from crying. Given his projected lifespan, Linus is probably about one-hundred-and-ten in this drawing.The chiseled jaw is gone, the hard forehead is gone. The eyes are milky and rheumy. The cheeks are hollow and jowly. His hair is snowy white and downy. His clothes have changed to reflect a newer style and someone, a daughter or son perhaps, has draped a blanket over his shoulders. Yet he’s still got a roguish grin on his face as his faded eyes blink mistily at you. You can hear him wheeze with a deep growly voice, “I could still kick your arse, kid,” and you would just nod and smile at him, because it wasn’t true anymore.

*SIIIIIIIIGHHHHHHH* Anyway…

So yeah. This experiment made me realize that there’s a lot of things I haven’t considered when it comes to character creation. I have no idea if this last picture is canon. Maybe Linus doesn’t make it that far, maybe something else happens. I don’t know, but it’s a fact that we all get older and we all die, unless you’re an Elf.

Lousy stinking Elves. 

Again, I have to point out that these blog posts might disappear suddenly because my computer is on the blink and going fast. Help me to keep writing and updating by donating to my GoFundMe to help get a new computer. Find out more about Linus in my Linus Saga series, Must Love Dragons.

Tomorrow I’ll be posting about Linus’ perpetual middle child, Thisbe.

Thanks for reading!