Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Safety Pin Nation: The Movement

As one who truly cares about human relationships, I immediately adopted the practice of wearing a safety pin to signal that I’m against bullying, hate speech, and discrimination in any form. My safety pin places me with the larger Safety Pin Nation Movement.

My pin also signals that I will intervene if I see/hear bullying, hate speech, or discrimination. I will not tolerate it and I will stand with those being so treated. For example, I have told people I don’t appreciate a deprecating joke and point to my pin. If someone is being bullied, you can place yourself between the bully and the bullied and ignore the bully while engaging the bullied in neutral conversation about the weather or what a sports team is doing.

I introduced the movement to my Unitarian Universalist Church last winter. I provided a container of safety pins for congregants, and a small dish of others remains at the back of the church for others to pick up and wear. Some of us wear our pins every day as a reminder to ourselves and others how we can live what we profess to believe.

This is an excerpt from Safety Pin Nation-AZ (
Not sure about the significance of the safety pin? Here is our take on it: The safety pin first presented itself after the "Brexit" vote as a symbol of solidarity representing those who stand with immigrants, those who are against racism and the hate crimes that surged after the decision to leave the E.U. The safety pin later became a symbol of unity among the anti-Trump movement, continuing the idea that those who wear safety pins are considered "safe places". In Spanish, the words "safety pin" translate to "los imperdibles", or, "those which cannot be lost".

And this from the same source:
Safety Pin Nation™ AZ is a movement of individuals that believe in the power of unity and community-based action. Safety Pin Nation™ AZ is composed of bully blockers, embracers of diversity, advocates for the environment and its wildlife, supporters of women’s rights, Arizona Dream Act Coalition backers, troops for better veteran care, champions for the disabled and mentally ill, defenders of black lives matter, fighters for healthcare as a human right, LGBTQ allies, helpers of the homeless and hungry, supporters of sensible gun control, supporters of refugees, defenders of children's rights, fighters against human trafficking, leaders in comprehensive immigration reform, backers of religious freedom, front-runners for equal pay and paid maternity leave, supporters of prison reform,  cohorts for properly compensated teachers and quality preK-12 education, Native American allies, believers in higher education access for all and much more.

You can come together on Facebook with others who are embracing the movement to ensure everyone is safe from discrimination, hate speech, and bullying. Go to the Facebook page and “like” and “follow” to be part of something larger. Here’s the link:

There are strategies about how we can respond if we observe inappropriate language or behaviors. We don’t want to put ourselves at risk, but we can’t stand idly by when we notice wrong doing.

I am asking my church members to help produce a list of pacifist strategies to put in our newsletter so everyone could have the resources they need to spread love and acceptance while combating hate and intolerance.

If you found this post interesting, please share with others. I’ve even prepared some messages you can copy/paste.

Facebook: Have you heard of Safety Pin Nation? Sharon Arthur Moore tells you why she wears a safety pin on her clothes every day. If you’re against bullying, hate speech and discrimination in any form, maybe you’ll wear one, too.

Twitter: Wear a safety pin to signal you are against bullying, hate speech, and discrimination. Learn more:

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Book Review: The Haunting of Thores-Cross

Maybe this is not an overtly romance novel, and the relationships displayed in the book are often not the healthy kind given the pedophilia, possession, and rape, but I really got caught up in the tale and wanted to share it with you. Besides, this blog is about relationships, not just romance writing.

I left this review on Amazon for The Haunting of Thores-Cross: A Yorkshire Ghost Story by Karen Perkins:
This book had a lot going for it that I already liked: ghost story, two time periods, alternating entwined stories, well-researched historical fiction, triggered by a true circumstance. Then you add in the engaging ghost story across centuries, and I couldn't put it down. Such empathetic characters and wonderful villains. My first book by this author, but I'm sure it won't be the last.

This story was inspired by the author finding, as a child, an old ink pot in a stone wall at her family’s frequent vacation area. She has her protag in the novel find an ink pot, too, but the protag, Emma and her husband, Dave built her dream house by the stone wall and awakened Jennet, the 230-year-old ghost owner of the ink pot.

Perkins said she felt compelled as a child to tell a story about the inkpot and this is it. She has Emma feeling compelled to write Jennet’s story. But it is even more than a compulsion. Emma is driven and possessed. The book is handwritten in ink from the old ink pot and in a handwriting that is not Emma’s. Vengeful Jennet wreaks havoc on the present-day ancestors of her adversaries in the 1770s. Two marriages are jeopardized and death has to happen before Jennet is put to rest. Or is she?

I’d love it if you’d share this post on social media. I even made a FB post and tweet for you to share easily. Thanks for spreading the word.

Facebook post: Angelica French reviews Karen Perkin‘s book, THE HAUNTING OF THORES-CROSS: A YORKSHIRE GHOST STORY, a tale across centuries told in two voices

Twitter: @romancerighter reviews @LionHeartG’s book THE HAUNTING OF THORES-CROSS

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Turning 10 Big Marriage Fears into a Romance Novel, Part 2

Continuing on with the story premises/concepts started last week, here are five additional ideas for your next romance novel.

The article I used as my basis for this series is “How to Conquer Your 10 Biggest Marriage Fears” by Jane Greer, PhD a marriage and family therapist. See Part 1 for the first five novel ideas in this series. 
"I'll resent him for the sacrifices I've made."
This novel could also use the prompt from last week about forgetting who one is. But this prompt goes further. Resentment fosters revenge often. Maybe you’ll write a domestic romance thriller. Brian and Melissa have been married for a couple of dozen years. Since Brian was an established entrepreneur at the time of their engagement and Melissa was just out of clerking for a Supreme Court judge, they decided that she would stay at home and be the corporate wife helping foster his successful career. He told her that with her credentials as valedictorian at an Ivy law school and her several clerking opportunities, she could always pick up her law career at some future time. But she didn’t. And, over the years, as she read court decisions and trial transcripts she regretted more and more the decision to leave law. Now it was too late. She wanted to get back at Brian for her lost years. And her brilliant logician’s mind finds just the right tool.

"I'll get less attractive with age while he'll get 'distinguished,' leading him to look elsewhere."
Ripped from the pages of yesterday’s headlines, the royal Elizabeth, never a beauty, is besotted with the elegant, erudite Philip. Despite warnings from her parents and others around her, she sets her mind to capturing Philip for herself and marrying him. After all, as future monarch, she has a lot to offer. The years show her to be a pedestrian monarch with little imagination but great heart for her country and her responsibility. Rearing children when one has a full-time job is difficult not matter the job, but when the mother is also mother to a nation, something has to give. More and more parenting duties fall to Philip and as he is limited in the role he plays in the marriage and as her subject, he fills his time in wastrel ways. He hangs out with men who encourage him to get the intimacy he is lacking in his marriage from other sources. Rumors swirl around the royals and Elizabeth confronts him many times about his indiscretions. Increasingly he is critical of his children and Elizabeth. Would being prettier help her with her marriage or are other factors in play?

"Money problems will ruin us."
Champagne tastes but a beer budget. Barb used to tease Dave about that when they were dating. More than half the time, she picked up the tab. But she didn’t mind. Dave was exciting, fun, and very good looking. Plus, he adored her, and after her last several disastrous relationships, Barb needed the self-esteem boost. Even his $50K in student debt didn’t deter her. She figured he’d pay it off with his salary from his social worker job. Maybe if she’d known about the additional $30K in credit card debt she would have hesitated. But she didn’t. And as a computer programmer with a good salary, she figured he made good money, too. Not! Dave and she financed their own elaborate destination wedding and reception because, as Dave told her, “Your parents $5000 contribution can’t give us the wedding we deserve.” It was her dream wedding, and her American Express credit card happily recorded the $40K cost. Barb was shocked that they were turned down for a mortgage after she eventually paid off the wedding. How could that be? Since they maintained separate accounts, she didn’t know that Dave was in arrears on his student loan and that his credit card debt had ballooned to $50K. In a desperate attempt to get more money, Dave was taking kickbacks from suppliers at work. When did Barb find all of this out, and what can she do?

"I'll never be first in his life."
She loved the way he cared for his mother. Widowed when she was in her late 20s, Jack’s mother was his best friend when he was a youngster. They remained close even during his teen years. As an adult, he lived away from his mother for several years since he worked in another state. But as his mother’s health deteriorated, he gave up his dream job and took a lesser position so he could take care of her. Eventually he realized that living with her would make that easier. Jack had never dated much, but when, Gillian, a new associate joined his firm, he fell hard and fast. The decision to marry hinged upon Gillian agreeing to move into his mother’s home. “So sweet,” she thought. “A man who is that thoughtful will be kind and generous to others.” She agreed. Jack didn’t know his mother was jealous of his wife. She didn’t want to share him with anyone and thought Gillian was selfish to marry before she had died. With Gillian she was nasty, snarky, and manipulative. In front of Jack, she was sweet and kind. He never saw what Gillian complained about. In fact, he discounted it because his mother had never displayed such behaviors before. Gillian wrestled with how to handle it. She loved Jack and didn’t want to leave him, but she couldn’t tolerate the atmosphere Mom created. Should she tape some interchanges? Talk to an attorney about a separation? Should she issue an ultimatum: put Mom in a facility or I move out?

"A vice will spiral out of control."
They met in rehab, so Frankie knew that Joey battled demons, the same ones that afflicted her. But they were both clean and committed to staying that way when they moved to a remote rural community in Northern Arizona. Rural, sparsely populated—that signaled safety to Frankie. Less access to drugs increased the likelihood of losing control again. A fresh beginning. Frankie had plans. She’d go back to school and become a dental hygienist. She encouraged Joey to get more training, too. But Joey was a school kind of guy. Instead, he patched together a network of part-time jobs to meet his half of household expenses. Getting full-time employment with their histories was nigh impossible. Frankie found that to be true as well. Graduating in the upper third of her class didn’t mean dentists were lining up to offer jobs. Depression set in for both of them. For Joey, the solution meant dealing drugs. Not using them, he told Frankie. There was money in drugs, and he meant to get some of it. But when was self-control ever one of Joey’s strengths.

So there you are. Five more book ideas. What? Still here? Why aren’t you writing?

I’d love it if you’d share this post on social media. I even made a FB post and tweet for you to share easily. Thanks for spreading the word.

Facebook post: Angelica French gives romance writers five more book ideas based on the biggest marriage fears people have. Check out these story starters at

Twitter: @romancerighter gives #authors 5 more ideas for #writing about the biggest marriage fears at

Twitter: @romancerighter gives authors five more ideas for writing about the biggest marriage fears at


Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Turning the 10 Biggest Marriage Fears into a Romance Novel, Part 1

Here you go! For free. I am giving you story premises and concepts for you to flesh out and turn into a blockbuster book. How’s that for a gift?

Well, the blockbuster part is up to you, but I came across an article (“How to Conquer Your 10 Biggest Marriage Fears”) by Jane Greer, PhD a marriage and family therapist.

To me, that signals book ideas! You, too, right? The premise is the header in bold face. The concept follows and develops the premise. So here goes:

"We'll eventually have nothing in common."
Dick and Jane were childhood sweethearts. After high school graduation they married. Jane worked in her dad’s company to support them while Dick got technical training to be a plumber. Once Dick had a regular plumbing job, Jane stayed home to rear the kids. She was very involved with school activities for the kids. Then Dick got a hankering for a new job that required more schooling. Eventually, Dick was a white collar worker who traveled a lot. Jane worried that Dick had moved past her, that she was part of his old life. She didn’t know how to talk to him about his life now. Was he looking for someone who was a better match? What clues did she find, or think she found?

"If I get sick, he won't be able to hold it together."
Even when they were dating, Chuck would become frantic if Cassie got sick. Common colds had him showing up at her apartment with chicken soup and hot lemonade. She tried to conceal her minor illnesses so he’d stay calm. Most of the time he was a perfectly logical and reasonable fellow, but if she fell ill, he freaked. That’s why when the doctor told Cassie that she had a particularly aggressive kind of brain tumor with a low survival rate, she delayed telling Chuck. Could he handle serious illness? Would he step up to the plate and stay calm for her sake? She doubted it and fretted about when and how to tell him the news. Or even, if she’d tell him. Does he figure it out on his own?

"I don't want to end up like that couple."
Engaged Karen and Michael laughed at couples they observed when still dating. They’d go to restaurants, the park, or other such places couples frequented. They’d watch and make up for one another the dialogues they imagined from the body language. The angry and happy ones were easy. It was the silent partners or the emotionless couples who drew their attention the most. “There’s no passion. No there there,” Michael would say. “I don’t want us to end up like that couple,” Karen would add. “Give me passion, good or bad, but I don’t want to be emotionless when we’ve been married five years.” So what happened when they got drawn into a friendship with one of those couples? What secrets did each of the four have that impacted their entwined relationships?

"I'll forget about the person I once was."
Highly successful, independent, and financially secure Kendra meets Levi at a beach resort in Belize. She has given herself this trip in an attempt to forget a failed relationship and increasing stress at her high-powered job. Levi left all that behind four years ago and “retired” at age 32 to Belize to live a better life. Kendra admires the loose and easy way Levi lives his life and in a moment of madness phones her boss and joins Levi in the tropical life. All is well for a while, but Levi’s indifference to money, planning, and relationship commitment gets to her. She is torn because part of her loves her new lifestyle without schedules, killer heels and professional suits, but part of her yearns for the challenges she conquered and the power she yielded. When pregnant, she must decide whether to stay with Levi or return to her profession. Even if she goes back to the New York lifestyle, a child may cause her to forget about who she once was. If she stays in Belize, she must forget that person. Kendra realizes not matter what she is in danger of losing her sense of self.

"Sex will get less exciting and frequent."
Freddie is an amazing lover to Georgia, their sex frequent and passionate in their early months of marriage. It’s an unusual day if they don’t make love and sometimes they have more than one session. After several years and kids, sex has slowed down. Freddie is ten years older than Georgia and he’s slowing down. Georgia is in her peak. She wants more sex than he feels ready to give. She dresses up in outfits but he is turned off by the mother of his children in a French maid costume. She tries to “pick him up” in a bar by pretending to be someone else. Nothing brings excitement back to their routine and perfunctory couplings. She feels he is merely servicing her. Georgia creates an elaborate fantasy world where she is desirable and sexy. Freddie discovers what she’s doing and suspects an affair. Does he consider counseling? Will he talk to her and try some of her ideas to spark their relationship? Or do they head for divorce?

Next week, tune in for five more novel premises and concepts. Get busy outlining that next book!

I’d love it if you’d share this post on social media. I even made a FB post and tweet for you to share easily. Thank you so much!

Facebook post: Angelica French gives romance writers book ideas based on the biggest marriage fears people have. Check out these story starters at

Twitter: @romancerighter gives authors ideas for writing about the 10 biggest marriage fears

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

I "Conference Know" a LOT of People

This blog is about relationships, and mostly here I deal with intimate, close, personal ones. But conference relationships are in a different ballpark, as they say. Maybe even a different sport.

I attend a number of writing conferences each year. As a writing professional, I see attendance as part of the package for getting to be a better writer. I wrote about that earlier this week on another one of my blogs: “Why I Go to Conferences and Why You Should,Too”.

At conferences, I paste on my happy face and strike up a conversation with the person sitting next to me. I ask what heesh writes and I express interest. I take the proffered business card and hand over my three.

Is that bragging, I wonder? Look at me! Multiple pen names! Does that seem too forward? After all this is a conference on writing historical fiction. What does my seatmate care that I write plays, short stories and novels? What interest could there be in my writing in so many genres: mystery, women’s fiction, paranormal, science fiction, middle grade biographies, oh, and yes, historical fiction set in two time periods?

My seatmate might in fact infer what I have long feared to be true of myself: dilettante!

So we dance. “Tell me your concept.” “How long have you been writing?” “Traditionally published or an indie author?” “What’s next after your current WIP?”

And then the session begins with either a single speaker or a panel. I listen. I make notes.

Session over. “Bye. Have a good conference.” Then it’s off to dance again at the next session.

Are these superficial encounters the equivalent of the one-night stand?

At each conference there is at least one person I connect strongly with. We sit and talk over adult beverages. Or we sit in some lounge area on session breaks. We sometimes find ourselves attending the same sessions and sit together multiple times. Those exchanged cards I hang onto and communicate with at least a couple of times. And of those, a mere handful have turned into what might be called professional real friends. Especially if you see them each time you attend that conference.

I find a similar pattern within my on-line affinity groups on Facebook. A few people emerge as folks you’d really like to have on your team.

Is the dance a phony social convention or is the social glue of trying to connect a value beyond the superficiality of the interaction?

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Personality Quirks: Z is for Zealous

A zealot is an uncompromising character who fanatically pursues shis religious, political, or other ideals. One who is zealous is not considered a reasonable rational person. The object of the zealotry overrides normal social strictures, thus some are merely in-your-face offensive to you and others blow up train stations.

Historically, the word represents a member of an ancient Jewish sect that resisted the Romans until 70 CE and aimed for a world Jewish theocracy. Zealot has expanded well beyond that historical beginning. We have had all flavors of zealous folks since then.

I found an interesting etymology for zealot. The word derives from ecclesiastical Latin and originally comes from the Greek zelos meaning ‘be jealous.’ How did jealousy turn into fanaticism?

You of course can see the potential to use your religious zealous character in a thriller where heesh is trying to protect shis religious beliefs/icons from what heesh considers to be sacrilege. Perhaps your zealous character believes that the Pope is an impediment to shis religious beliefs and sets out to rid the world of him. Is your zealous character Catholic or is heesh from another faith tradition or even an atheist? How could your zealot get close enough to the Pope to harm him? Is heesh working alone or in concert with a group?

Another kind of book is murder mystery. This time your zealous character is a fitness and health guru whom many hundreds of thousands follow unquestioningly. Heesh writes books, has a video series for cooking and exercise, and has frequent large-scale workshops. Is it a fa├žade? Is the zealot for real or a fraud pretending to be a strict adherent as a way to milk the gullible public? What if a spurned lover writes a tell-all that threatens the comfortable lifestyle and image of your zealous character? Might the spurned lover end up dead? And if so, by whose hand? Your zealous character is the obvious suspect. But did heesh do the deed?

If you enjoyed this post, please share the link on Twitter, Facebook or other social media you frequent:
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Saturday, April 29, 2017

Personality Quirks: Y is for Yobbish

To be yobbish is to act in the “rude, noisy, and aggressive way” that a yob acts. What that means in action may vary from one person to another. I may have a lower tolerance than you for rudeness or noise or aggression. That allows a lot of latitude for creating tensions among characters.

What an interesting etymology for yobbish! A yob is a rude, noisy, and aggressive young man and the word originated in the middle of the 19th century from the backward spelling of boy. That’s an interesting way of creating neologisms.

I can imagine a family moving into a new neighborhood. The quietness is disrupted by loud music played late into the night by the yobbish teenager of the new family. How do the neighbors react when the teen discards trash on their lawns or won’t give way on the sidewalk for an elderly neighbor using a walker? Is there any way to break through the incivility and turn the yobbish young man around? Perhaps a kind neighbor realizes the yob is acting out to get attention and reaches out. Or maybe the yobbish teen is in a situation wherein he must help someone or callously disregard the need for help. What does the yob do and what is the aftermath of the choice?

Another scenario with a yobbish character could be the supervisor at a fast food franchise. He’s a Class A jerk. He picks favorites. Employees never know if today they’ll be praised or punished. Do employees plan retribution, some sort of retaliation? Do they video tape him and send the tape to the corporate management? Is there one event that pushes other employees to finally stand up to him like his humiliation of a physically or mentally challenged person? What if the supervisor’s supervisor is yobbish?

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Friday, April 28, 2017

Personality Quirks: X is for Xenophilia

 These days there is a lot of talk worldwide about xenophobia, fear of strangers, such that borders are unilaterally closed even to refugees, not just immigrants. This fear is flamed by outrageous acts of global terrorism that is meant to send the message that no where is truly safe, not your shopping mall, not your commute, not your religious building. They have been very effective, these terrorists, at disrupting what ought to be a sacred principle in any religion: help those in need.

So let’s talk about an opposite condition: xenophilia, attraction to foreign peoples, manners, and cultures. A xenophiliac would seek out opportunities to travel and to welcome those from other cultures.

Xenophilia derives from Greek xenos meaning ‘stranger’ and philia meaning ‘fondness.’

So what stories could you spin? Might xenophilia apply within one’s own country? Might a Southern belle want to know more about and be attracted to understanding the life of the black sharecropper down the road? Why not? How would that come about? Perhaps she encounters the sharecropper at the library and is curious what heesh could want to read about. Maybe the belle meets the sharecropper at the grocery store and notices heesh bought the same dress fabric. Historical or modern day, your protag could follow through on the curiosity and become friends with someone who has lived the opposite life. Welcoming that new culture with interest and zeal is the sign of a xenophile.

Or, your xenophile could be one of those extreme characters who has little innate core so heesh adopts the trappings of another culture and lives shis life as if heesh is born of the other culture. Imagine how annoying to know that someone is only assuming the garb of being French, British, or Pakistani. Your xenophile would insist to others that heesh is of another culture even in the face of evidence to the contrary. Is your xenophile mentally ill, delusional, or merely establishing a life that is more tolerable than the one born to? Does the xenophilic character remain in the other culture or does something shake shim out of it to the reality of life?

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Thursday, April 27, 2017

Personality Quirks: W is for Wiccaphobia

You got this one! Wiccaphobia is a fear of witches and witchcraft. Yep, you knew that, but you may be puzzled still about the word. Why would this still be a real thing? We’re not all in Massachusetts, and it is not the 17th century.

Witches have been feared through much of history when in fact those thought to be witches—typically women—were folks who possessed more knowledge about herbs, healing, and meteorology (for example) than the average. When things are going well, calling on the witchy woman to help heal or provide protections was normal. When times get hard, people look for who to blame. And the person who is different, who knows more, who expresses non-standard beliefs might take the brunt of the anger and fear.

Wicca was created as a religious cult for modern witchcraft, a 20th century institution. Wicca, the institution, establishes it origins, however, in pre-Christian pagan beliefs and practices. One must be initiated into Wicca into a coven of other witches that can only occur after a year and a day of intense study, reflection, concentration, and practices. Wicca law holds “an it harm none.”

So what’s to fear? Where does wiccaphobia come from? Here is a group of mostly women who have chosen their own spiritual paths. I suspect it is a holdover from the prejudices and myths of the past. And from unforeseen implications of applied magick. “An it harm none” is a great goal, but sometimes, Wicca warns, bad results can occur when none were intended.

The etymology is Old English wicca meaning ‘witch’ and, of course, phobia is ‘fear of.’

You could set this story as an historical fiction pre- or post-wiccan hysteria. Your wiccaphobe might be a religious fanatic who believes strongly that shis path of spirituality is the only sanctioned one. Anyone expressing pantheism or who venerates earth-based beliefs would be anathema. So the wiccaphobe may set out to destroy what is perceived as a threat to the rightful order. Would there be violence or just a subtle undermining of the person such that the Wiccan leaves the region? Would the community rally around the witchy old lady who is so helpful or would they join the hysteria to wipe out witchcraft?

How about a science fiction time-traveling doctoral student whose dissertation is witches and witchcraft? She is a witch but doesn’t know it and her wiccaphobia stems from her unease with special talents she’s had all her life and can’t always control, a closet witch who fights coming out. She chose her dissertation topic as a way to confront her wiccaphobia fears. Perhaps her trip to Danvers, Massachusetts to collect data in 1692 results in new understandings of the period’s hysteria and leads her to accept her own talents in the 21st century.

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Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Personality Quirks: V is for Vacillant

Your vacillant character is uncertain in purpose and/or action. And you are correct when you see a connection to vacillate. Heesh alternates, wavers among different opinions and actions. This indecisive character can be quite trying for your other characters who are seeking clear answers or stances.

Vacillant comes from Latin vacillat- meaning ‘sway unsteadily.’

How might you use a vacillant character in your writing? Perhaps your lighthearted novel includes a character who is deeply into astrology and other prognostications. Heesh uses the daily horoscope to lay out the day’s plan for business. Heesh loves Chinese food because the fortune cookies add another layer of understanding for shim, and so forth. Assume your vacillant character is a Libra. Heesh knows the stereotype for Librans—indecisive because they see both sides of every argument, thus unable to pick. Imagine the situations that can be bollixed up with your character’s waverings. Get married? Set a date? Where to honeymoon? Constant plan changes can give you fun scenes.

Another kind of vacillant character might be someone who is so insecure and so self-deprecating that committing to any course of action would be risking being disliked by others. Such low-self worth can make for a very annoying character for whom one initially feels sympathy but as the vacillance continues, others lose patience.

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Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Personality Quirks: U is for Umbrageous

You may know someone who has “taken umbrage” or even have done so yourself, but I wager you’ve never thought of an umbrageous personality. This personality quirk is in the same family as yesterday’s truculent, but perhaps umbrageous is not thought of as negatively. After all, umbrage is typically situational rather than a constant state like truculence. On the other hand, we’ve all met those thin-skinned folks who seem to be looking for an excuse to be offended.

Umbrage come to us from the Latin umbra meaning ‘shadow’. In late Middle English its sense was a ‘shadowy outline’ which led to ‘ground for suspicion’ which brought us to today’s ‘offense.’

In the first scenario, creating an umbrageous character means finding situations/events for your plot that most people would pass off as inappropriate or uncomfortable. But an umbrageous character would take such offense as to be vocal and unpleasant about the situation/event. Perhaps someone tells an off-color story or a gender-insensitive joke. Many of your characters will look away or walk away without comment. Your umbrageous character might take on the speaker and bring shim to task. Heesh feels the offense so deeply that it must be addressed. Perhaps heesh sees shimself as the police officer for civil speech. How do other characters react to the outrage and passion of the umbrageous character? Do they cheer shim on or do they avoid shim as much as the original speaker?

In another scenario, you could also create an umbrageous character who doesn’t publicly address the creator of the situation/event. Rather, think Super Hero/Heroine. A Batman/Batgirl or Superman/Superwoman who takes umbrage and retaliates at a higher level of response. Heesh sets out to right the world’s wrongs. What motivates super heroes/heroines if not umbrage. You could create a nice paranormal or fantasy tale for your stage.

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Monday, April 24, 2017

Personality Quirks: T is for Truculent

A truculent character has a short fuse. Heesh is quick to argue and fight. Heesh might even be aggressively argumentative or defiant. Truculent characters can be mercurial and unpredictable when you don’t know what shis triggers are.

Truculent is from the Latin truculentous meaning ‘fierce’.

Your truculent character could be very good at hiding shis temperament so that when heesh goes off on a tirade, verbal or physical your other characters might be taken aback. What if your protag unsuspectingly married a truculent person, one who concealed shis innate personality very well. Would heesh seek joint or individual counseling? Could the marriage arguments escalate to murder? What if the protag murdered the truculent one? Would anyone believe it was self-defense when no one ever saw the signs?

Or the truculent person could be the protag who lives next door to an eternally, and infernally, cheerful person who won’t let your protag live a life of truculence? Does heesh succeed in turning the truculence to a sweeter nature once the source of the truculence is dealt with?

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Saturday, April 22, 2017

Personality Quirks: S is for Spectrophobia

We’ve all felt that little shiver at some time when an unexpected and unexplainable event occurs. A door slams when there is no wind. A piece of paper is in the wrong place. A cold chill fills a room. You know, stuff like that.

For some, those with spectrophobia, the unexpected and unexplainable are neither. Ghosts. Hants. Spirits. Phantasms. And for those with spectrophobia, these are to be feared. Some people are open to the supernatural and are willing to explore and investigate. Not so for the spectrophobic character.

Spectrophobia comes to us from the Latin spectrum meaning ‘appearance or apparition’ and from Greek phobia meaning ‘fear.’

I can spin many scenarios for this personality quirk, and here are two. One is paranormal; the other not.

A good old rip-roaring ghost story could find your spectrophobic character taking a dare to stay overnight in a haunted house or finding shimself there not knowing the place is haunted. In both cases, you have a multitude of opportunities to up the horror factor while it slowly dawns on your character that ghosts are real and they are present in this location. Moreover, a malevolent spirit could be there for any number of reasons such as hanging on until shis murder is solved or condemned to live there as a placement in hell. A frustrated malevolent spirit could create some very interesting scenes for your spectrophobe.

Another way to go isn’t paranormal at all. Your antagonist may know of your spectrophobe’s fear and set up a “haunted house” scenario with no spirits at all but with very realistic scares. The antagonist could have the purpose of driving the spectrophobe crazy with the intent of bilking shim out of an inheritance or removing shim as someone’s love interest.

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Friday, April 21, 2017

Personality Quirks: R is for Rhytiphobia

Rhytiphobia is the fear of getting wrinkles. Seriously?

Oh, yes. This concern about signs of aging goes back a very long way. Beauty products meant to enhance the appearance and reduce signs of aging go back millennia.

But to rise to the level of phobia is upping the stakes. Many of us would rather not have pruney faces, but to actually fear it is on another level. Phobias typically come from traumatic events and internal predispositions, but in the case of social phobias like rhytiphobia, the causes are not well known. Maybe brain chemistry interacts with genetics with life experiences to create social phobias. We just don’t know enough yet.

Generally speaking, phobias cause a variety of external signs of panic (dry mouth, sweating, nausea, irregular heartbeat, rapid breathing, shortness of breath, and more) as well as internal reactions such as extreme dread or anxiety. Talk therapy may be more successful than medication for social phobias.

Etymologically, rhytiphobia comes from the Greek rhyti meaning ‘wrinkle’ and from phobia meaning ‘fear’.

Your rhytiphobic character could be a famous actor or model or even a politician. Make shim someone in the public eye and under constant scrutiny for appearance by others or even just shimself. Think of Oscar Wilde's The Portrait of Dorian Gray. Perhaps you could do a modern take on this horror story by showing the extremes your rhytiphobic character would go to in order to maintain a youthful appearance. Is there an attic full of young runaways whose blood is systematically drawn for infusions for your character? Is the scientist running this operation tired of the pettiness of your rhytiphobe and does heesh sabotage the project?

Or maybe you can show a comic rhytiphobic character who buys every cream, pill, and powder in an attempt to stem the inevitable signs of aging. The family and friends may worry about the rhyophobe losing money in one scam or another. Perhaps your character is so convinced that a particular new process works that heesh becomes involved in the production and distribution of the product. Are there lawsuits? Does confrontation with a customer lead your character to see the absurdity of fearing aging signs? Maybe the fear of wrinkles is the surface phobia for fear of dying. Once that’s resolved, shis rhytiphobia disappears (so to speak).

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Thursday, April 20, 2017

Personality Quirks: Q is for Quiescent

Whew! Slim pickings for the letter “Q”, too. But then, that’s always the case. There are some troublesome letters in this challenge each year. But that’s part of the fun for those of us who do it.

Quiescent. Dormant. Inactive. Still. Quiet. What would a quiescent character look like? I think you could go two routes in writing a quiescent character. One is overt and the other covert.

But first, it shouldn’t surprise you that quiescent comes from the Latin quies meaning ‘quiet’ and from which the word “quiet” also derives.

So what is an overt quiescent character? Everyone would refer to shim as low energy, non-confrontational, agreeable, pushover. A kind of “still waters run deep” personality. Except, when probed, there is water running deep. In your book, your overt quiescent character could be the one in the background all the time, the one you’d never suspect of an original thought. A “go along to get along” person. This character may not have an arc at all. What you see is what you get. Background. Wallpaper. Use shim as a backdrop for other characters. Other characters may be annoyed that there is no there there with this character and conflict can arise over the passivity of your quiescent character.

On the other hand, the covert quiescent character is one who puts on a front to appear to be a social critter when in fact social interactions are very painful and difficult to maneuver. This person disappears for long periods of time to recharge because pretending to enjoy social interactions drains shim. This character can have a secret life or others suspect there’s a secret life because heesh is not available all the time. Perhaps the character is in therapy and trying out various strategies the counselor suggests in order to overcome shis innate reticence. That could be played for laughs or for pathos as others try to dissect what is going on.

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