The Characters Within guest post by author Janice Grove

First off I want to thank Jennifer for allowing me to guest post on her blog today. It takes a lot of courage to let someone you haven’t met do that – I’ll try to be on my best behavior. I say try only because I have been able to lock myself in my office, but I know for a fact that David will go to any lengths of messing with me including pick the lock and then claim his brother Micah needs me for something. My kids? Oh no, they aren’t MY kids… sigh… but you’d think they were considering how often they’re either running, screaming, or tapping their feet in annoyance in my head. No, David and Micah are just a few characters who live along side everything else going on in my over active brain. Yes, it is very crowded at times – why do you think I allow David the opportunity to polish his lock picking skills? 😉

As you can see, my characters are very much a part of me. I don’t know if it’s the same with every author, but I can tell you about my experiences and leave the determination of my sanity for your perusal at a later date. Right now, we can jump right in to the subject at hand – I’m quirky, not actually insane. Most people might argue the point, but I’m not most people and since it is my *ahem* quirkiness we’re pondering, we’ll go with my point of view which goes something like this…

I’ve always had another life going on in my head. I’ll admit it. Whether it was a case of my real life wasn’t that engaging, or I wasn’t impressed with the current affairs of things, I don’t know. However, what I do know is that my family and friends would often give me looks of concern, unsure whether I’m one of those children or not. Oh come on, you know the ones… they’re usually the ones that eat paste, color on the walls and insist they’re a cat just because they can. The ones where all the mothers gather together and shake their heads while muttering, “That child just ain’t right!” Okay, the last part probably happened more than once, but I never actually ate the paste (it was more like a quick taste), I was too obsessed with trying to stay in the lines so why would I have colored on the walls, and being a cat? One time… once to make a friend smile and it haunts a person! *ahem* Carrying on…

When you’ve basically had more interaction with imaginary timelines and characters than real people and events, you really start to wonder about your own stability. Which is probably a main reason why I write. No, I don’t think I should be fitted for a nice tight white jacket with buckles (not for this anyway), but I do accept the reality that society doesn’t seem to appreciate the delicate balance of someone who can live in multiple worlds and alternate universes simultaneously. Can we say extreme multi-tasking? Yes, I thought so. So, what is the classification of someone bound to bring to life the worlds and stories residing in one’s head? Do we really need one? If we need one, then who chooses the distinction between the right world and the wrong world we create? I don’t know about you, but any world I’ve jumped into at the time is the right one, if for no other reason than I get the chance to tell a story of someone else’s making. Oh, you think I’m the one creating these stories? *laughs* You’re cute!

I’ve been asked several times what method of writing I use, and each time I’ll get a blank look on my face, blink a couple of times, and then say in the most intelligent of ways, “Uh… fly by the seat of my pants?” Yeah, you can imagine the stunned looks I get at times but it’s the truth. I hate outlines, always have. In school we’d have to write outlines to “help us” create a story. I used outlines as scratch pads until I wrote the story, and then I’d go backwards with it to make the outline. Of course my teachers would tell me how it was wrong because I should put down what I want to happen in my story first. They just couldn’t accept my answer of, “But I don’t know what’s going to happen yet… they haven’t told me!” Yes, I was that odd child.

So, the Fly By The Seat of Your Pants method is not an established academic way of writing, but it works. Okay, you got me… it works for me. This is how it goes. I get an idea for a story (yes, that’s very important). Usually while I’m working, the story will begin to take shape in either dialogue or an action scene of some sort, often playing over and over until it’s just right. By the time I get to my notebook with an extra fifteen minutes to jot down what’s been a constant loop in my head, I can usually get a good section written and be able to carry on until the next scene, section, or (heaven help me) a chapter has fully worked its way out, just begging (read as demanding) for some quality time. This process will often repeat itself until I can sit down and just write for however long it takes to get everything that’s in my head, out! What’s truly amazing about this process is that often I will start writing and it’s not until after I go and proofread I realize what I’ve actually written. I’ve been just as surprised as others when a story takes an unforeseen turn. In fact, I was in the middle of writing a story and I was in the zone, cranking out scene after scene and suddenly I stop and say, “Uh… are you sure about this? No. C’mon. Really? No way!… sigh… okay… I just hope you know what you’re doing.” No, I’m not exaggerating. My teen character gives me a small glimpse seconds before I was to write this big reveal, to his big brother, that he has HIV. Okay, now honestly, how do I not know this ahead of time?!? Because I don’t write my stories… my characters do. Seriously, do you think I’d come up with giving a kid a horrible disease, by a means that is too heartbreaking to contemplate, by myself? Really? Even I’m not that demented, thanks!

Don’t worry, not every instance is like that. While editing The Rain Song, I suddenly stopped and asked, “Are you kidding me? You’re telling me this now? You couldn’t have mentioned it sooner?!?” (Why yes, my husband is a very patient and understanding man, thank you for noticing!) Anyhow, during my fifth or so round of editing, the voice of Nick Remington changed to… Will Smith. My character changed his race right in the middle of everything! You can imagine how I had to go back and change more than just a few lines and start the editing process all over again. However, it was worth it because I feel like an inter-racial family adds a bit of something to the story as a whole. See? My characters know what’s best!

I’ve talked to many authors who get stuck on a scene or a piece of dialogue and my first question is, “What does your character say about this? Is it what he/she really wants, or is that what you want to see happen?” Usually once it’s put in that perspective, the block is gone and the rest of the scene moves along smoother. Too many get caught up with following their outline to the letter, not realizing that it’s just a guide not a law. Me? I usually just sit back and giggle with demented glee at what comes flying across my fingertips because honestly… what better way to be entertained than have the people in your head tell you a story?

About the Author

Janice Grove is a native of Tulsa, Oklahoma where she lives with her husband, children and grandchildren. She likes to unwind from their small pool cleaning business by immersing herself in her own creations, reading anything that crosses her path, and listening to different arrays of music from Alice in Chains to Led Zeppelin and Mozart to U2. After seeing the first two books of her Zeppelin Series published, she is now venturing further into the world by opening Imzadi Publishing, a company that believes the sky is no longer the limit.

The Rain Song
Small towns are known for summer picnics, neighborhood softball games, and cozy shops on Main Street not being home to things of the paranormal. So when the Remingtons take in another child in need of safe haven they are completely unprepared for the people and creatures that come to claim him.

Nick and Angela Remington were living their American dream while helping disadvantaged kids. The last thing they were expecting was a small boy with big eyes to steal their hearts so completely while at the same time shaking the very foundation of their lives.

When David Remington lost his brother Derrick last year, it left a hole in his heart that didnt seem to want to heal until Micah is brought to them in the middle of the night. Now he has a new purpose, to be the best big brother he can be while protecting the small boy by his side, while discovering just how intertwined their past and future really are.

Available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble

Going to California

Going to California is the second book in a series, immediately picking up where The Rain Song ended: where the Remington family finds themselves separated, each with their own challenges before them. Will they be able to reunite before the evil stalking them succeeds?

David and Micah continue their journey to find the mysterious Karen while attempting to stay hidden from the very danger that ruthlessly hunts the youngest brother. They are unaware of a new danger that looms closer, as they search for safe haven in hopes of one day returning home to the rest of their family. Tirelessly, they must outrun hitmen, demons, and overzealous hunters of the supernatural, all while their mom lays helpless and hurt in the hospital, and their dad tries to move heaven and earth to find them.

Looking for his sons, Nick must rely on his new friends for not only help, but new knowledge into David’s past and Micah’s present: knowledge that could alter his perception about everything… forever.

Finally believing that their family is about to be united once again, Nick and Angela are horrified that betrayal from their own circle threatens everything they hold dear. Can their love for one defeat the danger to them all?

Available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble


Near-Death Experiences, Star Trek, and Me by guest author Devin O’Branagan

They say to write about what you know. When I was young, I had a near-death experience. Back then people didn’t understand much about the phenomenon, but I knew something extraordinary had happened. The search to understand the event fueled a lifelong spiritual journey.

After Simon & Schuster’s Pocket Books published my first two paranormal thrillers, I wrote a novel about near-death experience told from the perspective of a young boy who drowns, has an NDE, and returns with a mission. Although Threshold is told from three alternating points-of-view: the boy, his teenage sister, and a Native American shaman, my literary agent didn’t believe it would be suitable for an adult market because the primary POV character was a tween. She also thought the subject matter too mature for a young adult market. Disheartened, I stashed the manuscript and—like a hidden and forgotten treasure—recently rediscovered it. I dusted it off, did a bit of updating, and the novel was released in November. The market has changed since I first wrote the book—YA readers have matured, and adults have embraced younger protagonists in popular fiction. Threshold hit Amazon’s Metaphysical Fiction Bestsellers List within three weeks of release, and reviewers are unanimous in their opinion that it is my best work yet. I believe that’s because I really did write about what I know.

When I died, I did not interpret the tunnel of light as a wormhole. Nor did the guide on the other side resemble Q, the omnipotent character from the Star Trek franchise. In trying to figure out the meaning of it all, I did not reflect on profound Star Trek episodes. Cole, my young protagonist, invokes Star Trek imagery because it is what he knows.

Following my NDE, my own spiritual journey took me through a variety of faiths and magical traditions, and many of those are touched upon in Threshold: shamanism, Wicca, mystical Christianity, and the Jewish Kabbalah. The novel is a tale about the lightside threatened by the darkside. This is because shadows follow Cole back through the wormhole, and terrible things begin to happen.

Threshold is a paranormal thriller about life, death, faith, courage, sacrifice, and the transformative power of love.

~ ~ ~

Cole pulled Shiloh up short while he tried to get a fix on his location. They were on the shore of Deer Lake, the lake’s frozen surface looming gray before him in the early morning light. His grandparents lived in Johnstown, which was across the lake and beyond by ten miles. He remembered their house from family gatherings prior to his mother’s disappearance and was sure he could find it again because Johnstown was a small town. He decided that braving the bitter weather was a small price to pay if the journey finally closed the case of his missing mother.

Cole and Shiloh were near the river that fed the lake, and he could see the bridge which crossed it. As he urged Shiloh to turn in that direction, the sharp sound of splitting ice ripped the air. Horrified, Cole realized that he had misjudged the lake’s shoreline—the recent snowfall and wind-driven drifts had completely changed the landscape. Shiloh reared up in fear and caught Cole off guard. The horse bucked, Cole flew off, and he hit the split ice with such force that he crashed straight through to the freezing water below. Before he had time to react, a fierce undertow from the river captured and swept him away from the hole, deeper into the lake. Through the transparent sheet of ice that imprisoned him he could see where his sunglasses had landed, and beyond them he saw Shiloh trotting off in the direction from which they had come.

The freezing water caused little electric shocks to shoot through his eyes, but he found he couldn’t close them. His lungs screamed for air and he clawed uselessly at the thick ice in an effort to return to the hole. Finally, his movement was halted when his pant leg snagged on something rising up from the lake bed. He yanked hard, but couldn’t free himself. With a startled gasp, his lungs inhaled the frigid water which he now knew would be his grave.

I’m going to die, he thought with more amazement than fear.

He wondered what came next.

His discomfort passed, and the ringing in his ears stopped. He felt detached and distant to himself, then casually floated away from his body, up toward the sky. While he rose, he thought about his life. It hadn’t been too bad, all things considered, but he suddenly wished he had been nicer to Dawn Bearpaw and not ridiculed her for her handicap.

The light from the sun grew brighter, and it felt warm and comforting. He looked up into it and was surprised to see a vaguely familiar figure floating toward him. When they drew closer to each other Cole felt the power this being commanded, and a sense of awe filled him. For some reason, he remembered a character from Star Trek.

“Are you Q?” Cole asked.

The entity smiled and extended a welcoming hand. “Let’s fly together through the wormhole,” its mind said to Cole’s.

“Cool,” Cole responded.

“There’s a mission I want you to do that may save the lives of many other children, but it’s your choice. There is always the issue of free will to consider.”

That was right before the sky split in half, and they were catapulted into the starry abyss beyond.

Copyright © 2011 by Devin O’Branagan

~ ~ ~

Threshold is available in both print and as an eBook. Find links to where it may be purchased here:

~ ~ ~

Devin O’Branagan writes paranormal thrillers, urban fantasy, paranormal chick lit, comic chick lit, and canine chick lit. Her bestselling urban fantasy, Glory, was nominated for the 2011 Best Popular Paperback for Young Adults List, sponsored by the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) of the American Library Association. She writes a humor column for TAILS Magazine, is a member of the Dog Writers Association of America, and uses her writing projects to support animal welfare. To learn more about her novels, find out about her latest book giveaway, and join her popular writers’ forum, visit her website at