Friday, December 26, 2014

Dear Santa Available For Purchase

I wrote this story specifically for the 2014 Dunesteef Christmas episode. It's the story of Santa answering the call of a little boy who needs some help. It's not, however, a heartwarming Christmas tale. It's a tale that is more along the lines of Dunesteef sensibilities. So there you have it.

Head over and pick it up from if you like.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Moonlit Confession Now Available

This story was on the Dunesteef as an incentive episode. So, you're probably familiar with it if you donate to the show. But, if you missed it, it's now available for purchase on

I really like the story, one of the reviewers for the Broken Mirror contest gave it a 10 after all. I won't mention that one of them also gave it a one...oh, shoot. Anyway, check it out. You might not be upset that you did.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Another Story Published

After getting that first story out, I got really excited about publishing. I went over the stories that I felt were ready to be published, and gave them one last check-up. Now, I've got another story published on

It's one you've surely heard me and Rish mention on the show and elsewhere several times, one of my newest creations. The story is called "Chloey, Joey, Zoey, and David Bowie," and you can buy it now.

I really like the story. It's the tale of three best friends living in a very rural Montana town. They go out together on the final night of summer, and while they're out, they see a meteorite come crashing down to earth. After that, all sorts of stuff goes down. Check it out to find out more.

I wrote the story a few months back, right after I finished with the stories that I published on the blog.

Oh, and again, more stories are imminent. I've got it to a copy and paste level here, so it only takes me a few minutes to get a story formatted and put together. And cover art isn't an issue for me. In fact, I think the cover for this one turned out awesome...I hope you agree.

Anyhow, hope you go buy the story, and like it. Be back soon with more!

Friday, December 12, 2014

I Finally Published My First Story

On the last Anklecast, I promised to publish my first story on Smashwords that very, maybe I didn't manage to do it that very day, but I did finally manage to do it! Hooray!

So, if you're interested, my story, "Through the Din of Silence," is now available on Smashwords.

And, hopefully, it will soon be available in many other places too. I'm still not quite sure how that works. But one way or another, I've got to make sure my stories get on too.

So, yeah...please go and buy the story, and enjoy it again or for the first time if you've not heard the podcast from earlier this year.

Oh, and more stories are on the way. Now that I know how to format these things, I think the floodgates are going to open!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Anklecast 21

It's a five year plan, and I've just made it to the end of month...two, I guess, although October was an extra month, so maybe it's just month one. Anyway, I'm here to report again on how things went this month, and to make a few promises as well.

Music was "Crossing The Divide" courtesy of Kevin MacLeod of

Right click HERE to download the episode, select Save Link As, and save the file to your hard drive.


Sunday, November 2, 2014

Anklecast 20

So, how did everything go this month with the goals I'd set for myself? How is my five year plan coming along? Listen in and find out.

Music was "Crossing The Divide" courtesy of Kevin MacLeod of

Right click HERE to download the episode, select Save Link As, and save the file to your hard drive.

Subscribe to the Anklecast in iTunes


Monday, October 20, 2014

Mail Time

"Here's the mail, it never fails, It makes me want to wag my tail, When it comes i wanna wail, MAIL!"

Many parents will remember that song, and its source. But it's been a long time since those days. Mail is electronic now.

Most people don't get much other than junk mail in their snail mail boxes. I know we don't. We only bother to bring in the mail about once a week or less. We obviously don't check our mailbox often enough though. Here's how I know.

My wife went to pull the mail out today, and ran away from the mailbox screaming, because a spider was right there on top of the mail. That spider got scared off, and we managed to get the mail and take it in the house. Then, as she started looking through it, another spider came out from under the letters...then another. And these were big ugly hairy spiders too. Something like this one:

My wife was turning apoplectic. I squashed the spiders for her, and found a kind of spider nest attached to some of our letters. Our mail had been left there long enough for spiders to totally move in. I don't really know how spiders work, but I've never heard of them settling in as families, so my guess is that somehow the spider mother laid eggs, and they hatched, and were about ready to move out before we finally came and got the mail.

 That's kind of sad. And hella freaky.

Saturday, October 18, 2014


In 1996, someone gave me the Soul Coughing album, Irresistible Bliss. When I played the first song, "Super Bon Bon", I fell in love. The album is still one of top five of all time. Mike Doughty was the lead singer and songwriter of the band, and his voice was just something amazing that my college-age self had not experienced before. I listened the hell out of that CD.

A few years later, the band broke up, and as far as I knew, they all dropped off the map. It wasn't until years later, after we started the Dunesteef, that I discovered that Mike Doughty was still out there doing stuff. Josh Roseman, who often contributes stories to our show, won the first Broken Mirror Story Event with his story titled, "27 Jennifers". This story took its title from a Mike Doughty song of the same name, Josh informed me. I was like, "Wait, Mike Doughty is still out there doing music? How did I not know this. I've gotta go find out what I've been missing!"

I was not disappointed. His new stuff was different from Soul Coughing, but just as amazing, perhaps even more so. It would be a hard road for his new songs to rise up to the level of love I had for his Soul Coughing songs, because they didn't have college nostalgia on their side, but eventually, a lot of them did. "27 Jennifers," already had Dunesteef nostalgia on its side. So, that gave it a boost. Others soon followed. The guy just knew how to write a song that I would like.

So, preamble over, I got the opportunity to see Mike Doughty live this past weekend.

I have a listener to thank for the privilege. I can't remember who it was now, and Facebook doesn't make it easy to go back and find out who posted what a month ago, so I guess it'll be a mystery. But the listener was complaining that he'd just discovered that Mike Doughty was playing in his city the day after the show took place. This made me immediately go and check Doughty's page, and discover that he was coming to my own city later. So, I set the date on my calendar, and didn't face the same regret that the listener had.

The show was really fun. Doughty played almost all my favorites. And it was my first time seeing him live in concert, which is so much cooler than just sitting in my room listening to MP3s on my phone.

At the merchandise table, they were selling copies of his memoir, The Book of Drugs. My wife, who is only marginally fond of the guy, told me I needed to buy it. She likes to read a lot.

She plowed through the book in the space of one day. Then, after that, even though I had a lot of other things that I should be doing, like writing the story I have committed to having done by the month's end or editing the story for the 13 Nights of Halloween marathon, I spent the next two nights reading until the wee hours until I had finished it entirely.

As you might guess from its title, it was one of those memoirs of a guy who sank to the depths of drug addiction...alcohol addiction too. Then, eventually, after he'd fallen as far as he could go, he finally got involved in one of those 12-step programs, and got clean.

The weird thing about reading this book was that I could see myself in his struggles. I've never taken drugs in my life. I'm not a drinker. I'm actually scared to death of these things. I don't have a good reason to be, there are no alcoholics or addicts in my family or anything, but for some reason I have the feeling that if I let myself get started, I might just disappear down the rabbit hole and fast. I might be one of those guys who goes from normal suburban father of four to orange jumpsuit-wearing inmate in no time flat. That fear keeps me completely clear of drugs and alcohol.

So, why the hell would I see myself in this druggie's story then? You see, I think I am an addict too. I'm just addicted to something less frightening, but still very bad for you. I'm addicted to food. Everyone eats food, we have to, but I eat more, and I choose the bad stuff. And I have a tendency to go on benders too.

Mike Doughty talked about how you could tell when someone was deep into addiction. Their skin seemed to have turned grey, along with everything else in their life, like their ambition, their emotions, and so on. Right now, I'm in the midst of a bender. I don't look grey, because it's food that I'm addicted to so it's different, but I feel grey.

It wasn't too many months ago that I was in the middle of trying to lose weight and get down to my goal, but I gave up on that at some point, and gave in to my addiction. I started eating and eating and eating. In the past six months or less, I've gained at least thirty pounds.

I had given up soda for the first half of this year, but now I've given in to soda. I drink it whenever I get the chance. McDonald's sells their large sodas for the same price as their smalls, so I"ll stop into the drive through and grab a Dr. Pepper every chance I get. The dollar store has the 20 oz. Mountain Dew Code Red bottles for, you guessed it, a dollar. That's way cheaper than the gas station, so I started stopping in on my way to work and grabbing one. Then I started grabbing two, because it was cheaper after all than going to the gas station later in the day. Then, (what the hell right?) I started getting a candy bar at the dollar store to go along with my two sodas.

"Breakfast of champions" one of the clerks at the store one day said when she looked over my early morning purchase. It was a gut punch, and should have forced me to kink of that pipeline, but it didn't. I continued on my merry weight-gaining way.

Right now, I weigh as much as, or probably more than, I ever have before. I feel like that addict that has gone all grey and hollow. Except that I'm not hollow. I'm full. To the friggin' brim. Several times a day, I find myself with acid reflux, which is apparently something that runs in my family, because I have eaten too damned much, and my stomach can't get the lid closed. My feet, ankles, knees, and hips all hurt intermittently from carrying around all that extra baggage. Being fat is like wearing one of those big hiking backpacks stuffed full of canned food. That'll make you really tired on a hike, but imagine if you had to wear it all day, every day. I do exactly that.

What makes me most sad is that I have lost all that weight in the past, and now, if I'm going to change things for the better, I'll have to do it again. It was a long hard struggle to get where I was, and I'll have to go through that all over again. I know that I need to change my ways, and cut this crap out, but I have a hard time getting motivated to do so. I try to get going in the right direction about once a week, but before I've even made it a full day, I'm off the wagon.

And, like junkies, I'm to the point where it's not even pleasurable to eat a treat. It's just a compulsion. I don't feel better upon fulfilling that compulsion. I feel worse. I feel sick. I burp up stomach acid. But I can't seem to put two and two together and stop. Like addicts that have developed such a tolerance that they don't even get high from the drugs they take. That's me, but with food.

I wonder if they have 12-step meetings for food addicts like me. A quick google search says that they do. Maybe I need something like that. A sort of support system. I've tried, through blog posts and the like, to develop that sort of thing in the past, but it's never been stable enough to really help. The one time that I did really well losing weight was for a contest at work. Dozens of people were a part of it, and there was a really nice camaraderie and sense of competition that we developed with each other. That was really helpful, I think. I've heard that Weight Watchers does meetings where people get together and talk about their experiences and stuff. Maybe I should try that.

Sadly, I don't know. I wrote this whole post, because of the similarity I recognized between my own experiences and those related in Mike Doughty's book. But I got to this point and didn't know where to go from here. I should have some sort of conclusion to draw or report on at this point but I don't. I should have some sort of plan of attack or something, but I don't.

I did start one thing in the middle of last month that was working well for a week or so. I set up a spot in my basement where I would take a picture of myself shirtless every day for a whole year, then compile them all in a video that showed my fat belly shrinking away. I took a weeks worth of pictures, and was already compiling them. I was finding it difficult to make sure that I remembered to take the picture every day. Then my wife, not realizing what the stuff was set up there for, moved it all, and set up some shelves there. This totally derailed me, and I quit, and went back to being an addict.

But, I've been thinking I need to get back on that project. It worked in a way that other things haven't, because it made the idea of losing weight interesting. It made me want to try, so that my video was something worth watching when it was all over. My birthday is only a couple of weeks away now, and I think I may use that as my start date. It seems like it's a nice even day that I'll never forget and so on.

But in the interim, I don't want to keep getting fatter. I weighed myself the other day, and I was at 299.4. One thing I've always been proud to say was that I'd never made it over 300 lbs. I'd gotten close before, but never over. I'm too afraid to weigh myself now, though, because I think I'm probably over now. I don't want to start out my video admitting to being over 300. That's just too much to take. Maybe I can just try really hard to eat good for the next week and a half, so that I'll surely be under 300 when I weigh myself for the first day of the video. I don't know.

I just wish it wasn't a thing I had to deal with. Wish in one hand...

Friday, October 17, 2014

Feminist Quandary

Since she's been a big deal in the news recently, I've become aware of Anita Sarkeesian, and started watching her YouTube videos.

I have a wife and daughters, and I want to do right by them, hopefully being a part in creating a world that's more hospitable to them to succeed and be happy. As a writer, that means I need to try to avoid tropes and stereotypes in my writing, I assume.

She does a whole series of videos about the tropes used in storytelling that are reinforcing negative gender stereotypes called Tropes vs. Women. Watching these videos makes me feel a little bit afraid to do anything creatively, though. Some of the tropes I don't think I'll have any problem avoiding, such as the Straw Feminist or the Mystical Pregnancy (Simi's pregnancy in Fireflies isn't a mystical pregnancy, right? Crap, maybe I haven't avoided it). But others I'm afraid I'll probably fall into even though I'm trying not to.

The Manic Pixie Dream Girl is something that I'm afraid I might be doing in the story I'm writing right now. I'm not even sure I understand that one 100% yet. I get the idea that the problem is that these MPDGs don't have any life of their own, and are there purely to forward the story of the male protagonist. And, from what I understand, the way to avoid this is to make the MPDGs have a fully rounded character that has dreams and goals of its own that aren't dependent on the male character at all. But, if these characters are young slacker-types that don't really have any idea about what they want to do with their lives yet, and then the female performs MPDG-type services for the male character, does that make her an MPDG? And if they get married and make a life together, therefore, in a way, combining their goals and dreams into one, does she remain an MPDG? I don't want to perpetuate tropes and stereotypes, but I'm not even sure if I am or not.

Then there's the Evil Demon Seductress. I have a story that Rish and I have talked about or at least made reference to dozens of times on the show. We usually call it the Alien Love Story. I'm going to just summarize the whole story here, and then we can discuss it after.

It's a story about a guy who's a real nerd. He's never had a girlfriend, and he is very despondent about it. He works in Washington at the Pentagon as a secretary for some bigshot general or another. One day, he's going home at night, and he hears a big crash, and sees that someone has fallen in the alley beside his building. He runs to help, and finds that it's a woman, and a very beautiful woman at that. He takes her to the hospital, where they patch her up, but she can't remember anything about herself or anything else. She doesn't know where she lives, who she is, and so on. She asks the guy to take care of her, and he agrees. After all, she's gorgeous, and he's really lonely. In no time flat, he has fallen in love with this woman. She returns his affection. They get married. After the honeyglow has worn off, he starts to notice weird things about her. Eventually, he comes to the conclusion that his wife has been possessed by an alien. He confronts her, she admits that he's right. He says he's going to turn her in, she says he won't, and here's why, because if he does, he won't get to have her body anymore. Basically, she uses her sexuality to keep him in line, and, because he's lonely and vulnerable, he is defeated in that manner.

Now, there's more to the story, including a bit of a twist ending that really makes the story work for me, but after seeing the Evil Demon Seductress video, I'm not sure if I should ever write this story at all. It's just a sexist story, right? It teaches people that women are only powerful because of men's desire for their lady parts, and nothing else, right? Like Anita was saying in that video. Should I bother? Am I wrong with my analysis? Is there a way to save the story, and still write it without making it a degrading trope? Please, comment and tell me your thoughts on the matter.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Anklecast 19

After being pressured and threatened by Rish Outfield, I finally got around to recording another Anklecast. In this one, I talk about the experience of establishing a deadline for myself to have a story written by, and then actually managing to finish the story before that deadline arrived.

Right click HERE to download the episode, select Save Link As, and save the file to your hard drive.

Subscribe to the Anklecast in iTunes


Sunday, September 28, 2014

I Totally Rocked It, I Mean

Whoops. I forgot to turn off the post that was set to automatically drop if I didn't finish writing my story. So, some of you may have seen Captain Picard with his face in his palm. But that post did not communicate the truth. The truth that I am friggin' awesome, and I totally completed my goal with ease like a boss.

My story called "Chloey, Joey, Zoey, and David Bowie," is complete, and I kicked butt.  My next goals are to write another story called, "Do Over," a chapter of Sunny and Gray, and publish on Smashwords my story called "Black Angel".  All this must be done by the 27th of October. And again, I'm going to totally rock it. But this time I'll make sure to remove the post about being an abject failure if I in fact am not an abject failure.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Five Years

I was talking with Rish the other night, and lamenting the fact that my birthday is very fast approaching. It's really got me worked up, because this year will be my fortieth birthday. I think, once I cross that age, it makes me officially middle-aged, at least if I'm understanding that whole thing correctly.  I'm not over-the-hill yet, because I believe that is when you turn fifty, but it still upsets me.

I'm having a really hard time coming to terms with my progressing age, lack of youth, impending mortality, all that bullshit that tends to upset human beings with enough time and prosperity to worry about simple problems like that instead of big problems like where my next meal will come from. So, yes, I realize it's kind of a first world problem, but it's messing with my head nonetheless.

I mentioned how, when I turned 39 I came up with a bunch of goals to achieve in the year before turning 40. It was sort of my attempt at staving off the inevitable depression that seems to come with getting old. If things were getting better, and I was achieving great things, then getting old couldn't be that bad, right? Of course, my nature took over instead, and I achieved none of those goals, and even regressed in most areas.

Let me see, I was supposed to lose weight down to my overall goal of weighing 200 lbs. again for the first time in many years. What progress have I actually achieved in that area? Well, today, I weigh 20 lbs. more than I did when I made the weight loss goal. Run a marathon this year was another one of my goals. Health issues caused me to give up on that quest, and, although I have been cleared of those issues, I still haven't started back up with the running.

I made the goal to go the entire year without drinking soda, which is a bit of a stumbling block of mine sometimes. I went a full six months, and stuck to that goal religiously, but then, after not seeing any obvious gains coming from it, I totally gave up. Holy shit, what the heck is wrong with me? I did so good, and I just gave up. Man, sometimes I even freak myself out with my lack of resolve. Even if I'd gotten no gain from it whatsoever, imagine how good it would have felt to be able to say that I'd stuck with something for an entire year, despite a myriad of chances to cave in and quit. I made it six whole months! But then I quit. Dammit, it never hurt so much until I wrote this paragraph.

Then I had my writing goals. My goal was to write 300,000 words, participate in NaNoWriMo, publish 15 stories on Smashwords, and podcast 8 of my own stories on the Dunesteef. Let's see. I probably fell about 250,000 or more words short, could not manage NaNoWriMo at all, published zero stories on Smashwords (unless you count the stories of mine that Rish published for me, like "Last Contact", but I don't, because I didn't publish them, he did), and I've podcasted three of my own stories...which actually kind of feels like a win, despite being way short of the goal.

So, my goals for this year were complete failures, really. I did well with some of them, then eventually blew it. So, while I was talking with Rish about it, he said I needed to stop whining and make new goals going forward. A goal to be a full-time writer, or to write a certain amount of words, or to publish my stuff, or...anything, really.  I laughed, and told him of the goal I'd made ten years ago when I turned 30.

My goal was that by the time I was 35, I would make my living as a writer of fiction. Of course, in those days, I had no idea what that involved, other than writing, and submitting stories to magazines and books to agents for publication. The most obvious thing should have been that first one: write. I did a small amount of that, not nearly enough to make my living as a writer.  Thirty-five came and went, and I was no closer.

"Well, maybe you need to set that goal again for five years from now," Rish said.

And dammit if he wasn't right. I do need to set that goal again. I've got five years. Luckily, being a writer isn't like being an athlete or an actor or something. As long as your mind is intact, you can still become a writer. You don't have to worry about your body getting too old to run the 40 in four seconds, or you face sagging along with your boobs until there's no parts left for you. You can be as fat and ugly as you want, and still be a writer. After all, look at the writers out there, they're mostly a pretty scary bunch. I think I'd fit right in.

So, I'm resetting my goal. Five years. I started making my goals the other night. I figured that one of my biggest shortfalls was that I had a big picture goal, but no steps-along-the-way goals. So, I started making smaller goals that would lead me to my eventual big goal. That same day, I was reading an article about my favorite soccer team these days, Sacramento Republic FC. They started out this year in the third division of American soccer, but before ever taking the field for the first time, they had a goal of making it to the first division, becoming a part of Major League Soccer. The article I was reading was about how they've worked towards that goal, and are on the brink of succeeding, and there was a quote from the team's president that kind of inspired me.  "A goal is a dream with a deadline," he said.

At the same time, I was reading one of Dean Wesley Smith's blogs, and he also talked about the importance of making deadlines for yourself, and sticking to them. So, deadlines are a major part of my five year goal structure.

I also mean to publicly shame myself if I don't achieve my goal...and I suppose publicly laud myself if I do. I have made a post, and set it to publish automatically on the day that the deadline has passed. The post will say, "I am a loser that doesn't even respect my own self. I made a goal to finish my story by such-and-such a date, and I didn't fulfill it. Everybody point and laugh at me, so I don't do this next time." If I manage to finish the story, then I will be allowed to come in and change the text to something positive instead.

My first goal is to have my next story written by September 27th. When I made the goal, it was a pretty easy goal to achieve...except I didn't do anything, and now the deadline is really looming over my head. The story is called, "Chloey, Joey, Zoey, and David Bowie." I'm pretty excited about it. Rish thinks the title is horrible, but it's the entire impetus for the writing of the story, so it will not be changing.  And besides, I think the title is great, so there.

So, watch for the post that hits on September 28th at 12:01 AM.  Hopefully, it will shout of my victory!

It's interesting, because right now, Rish and I are both in a bit of a rut. Yesterday, when I was talking with him, Rish was wondering why that might be, and he decided that it was because he hadn't gone to Comic-Con in San Diego this year for the first time since before the podcast began. He was missing his annual fix of Kevin Smith inspiration.

I told him that I had had a weird experience right before coming to meet him. I'd been in the break room at work, and seen an American Family Insurance commercial playing on the television, and found myself moved to tears by the inspirational message.

Seriously we're talking about an insurance commercial. I despise the insurance industry, because I believe it's mostly made up of crooks who want to take your money from you because you are afraid, but then, in the off chance that one of your fears are realized, they will do their best to avoid paying your valid claim. And secondly, insurance commercials suck. And, I suppose, thirdly, it features an NFL player, and it seems like there's just no NFL players that aren't tarnished anymore. It's almost like playing for the NFL means that you must be a dirtbag. If we don't know about your issue yet, we all figure that it will be coming out soon. I still love the NFL, because I've loved it my entire life. But for most people that listen to the Dunesteef, they already hated it even before this stuff even started coming to light, and now it's only worse.

Anyway, here's the commercial:

It seems like it was friggin' made for me. All I need is one yes. I need to put in the work, the hours, the sweat. Because dreams don't come true, dreams are made true.

I've got five years, a plan, deadlines, and consequences. It's time to make my dreams true.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Sunny and Gray, Chapter Two

Well, what do you know! Rish's gauntlet throw-down worked. I got to work on Sunny and Gray, chapter 2, and finished it. It's about time, I have to admit. But I feel really good to have gotten to work and finished it up in only two days.  So, I'll post it here for you, and get to work on my next live-blogging story. It's called Do Over, and you should start seeing posts from it by Monday. I just gotta do the planning legwork first.

Chapter 2

Robbie could think of nothing else for the rest of the day. He barely touched his dinner, a Brinlee specialty: microwaved chicken nuggets and canned peaches, not really one of his favorites anyway. He spent most of the evening staring out the window of his room. Each time he saw a bird or bug that was a normal creature, he fretted further that he’d lost his special sight. He saw no fairies or other fanciful creatures at all in the vicinity of his home.
He slept poorly, waking every hour or so to check the clock and see if it was time to get up yet. Then, when dawn finally did come, he at last slipped into a deep sleep, and didn’t wake up until 9:30 when Brinlee came to check on whether he was dead or not, because he never slept in. He jumped out of bed, took a lightning quick shower at Brinlee insistence, wolfed breakfast down in record time, and threw his shoes on to head out to the glade again.
He was halfway there when he realized that he had forgotten to pack a lunch today. That meant he’d have to come home to eat, and Brinlee would surely make him stay in the house after that. He grumbled. His time in the glade would be short, when he wanted it to be as long as possible. He’d tough it out and stay as long as he could handle the hunger pains. At least, he would as long as he hadn’t lost his fairy sight. The glade would seem awful dull if it was back to normal again.
Along the path, he saw several insects, but no fairies. He worried that it was already too late. He had talked himself into thinking it was a certainty that the magic sight was gone by the time he finally walked up to the shore of the pond and looked around. The pond, the trees, even the very air of this place seemed to glow with vibrance. Fairies flitted back and forth above the water, and through the branches of the trees and the leaves of the reeds. A brown-skinned male fairy with bright red hair clad in green leaves and red flower petals stood atop a cattail, holding the spike and surveying the glade like a king or a job foreman. Then he launched into the air, his butterfly-like wings snapping open and carrying him lopingly up toward the sunlight seeping through the leaves into the clearing. Two purple-skinned fairies with small, translucent wasp-like wings zoomed past, locked together at the hips in the act of sexual intercourse, something Robbie still only vaguely understood. A small brown...still Robbie didn’t know what to call it. A goblin? A troll?...creature, the one that had appeared to be a bullfrog before his eyes had been opened, relaxed in the sunlight filtering onto the fallen log in the middle of the pond.
An enormous grin spread across Robbie’s face. The fairy sight was still with him. Not sleeping, nor eating human food, nor the passage of twenty-four hour’s time, nor anything else that he’d done in the past day had made it go away. He could still see fairies, and he was so glad that he wouldn’t have been able to express it if someone had asked him to. A great weight lifted off his mind, and his whole demeanor changed. Where his shoulders had been slumped, they raised and straightened. Where his face had been tight and tense, it loosened and relaxed. Where his heart had been constricted and filled with dread, it opened and softened. He jauntily walked to the large rock that Brinlee had occupied yesterday, and sat down to watch the fey creatures of the fairy glen.
It was fascinating. The variations in fairies was unlike any creature in the world. Sure, humans had skin color that varied from extremely pale white to extremely dark brown or even black, with every shade of brown in between. But these fairies had skins of every color of the rainbow. Some had shining green skin, others pale blue, others glowing purple, or yellow, or orange, or red. There were colors that Robbie couldn’t even name. Were they chartreuse, or periwinkle, or puce? He knew those were the names of colors, but he couldn’t say which colors they named.
The fairies were all so beautiful and graceful. He longed to be able to swoop and dive alongside them. He’d thought flying insects to be neat before, but he’d never imagined himself in their place. After all, who would want to be a chitinous, segmented, hairy insect? But seeing humanoid creatures with shimmering, translucent wings soaring and flying through the air made him envious.
As he sat with his chin in his hands staring at the scene the way most kids would be transfixed by their favorite TV show, he was abruptly kicked in the nose. The fairy that he’d caught in his net the day before had seen him, and come down to continue her attack on him. It didn’t hurt much, her miniscule size made that impossible, but it was surprising nonetheless. Robbie jerked his head back, retreating from the blow, but way overdoing it with the motion, and managing to send himself tumbling backwards, head over heels, off the rock. He performed a graceful somersault, and popped back to his feet like an acrobat or a gymnast, immediately searching for the fairy that had kicked him, what he thought of as his fairy.
She found him first, however.  He felt and heard her wings buzzing by his ear. His hand instinctively swung up to swat at her like he would with a mosquito or house fly, and he only just barely managed to stop his blow before it was too late. He turned, but she was already gone. He turned the other way, and didn’t see her.  He felt a tickle in his hair, then a sharp pain as she pulled on the bunch of hair she’d grabbed. Again, his hand shot toward his head seemingly of its own volition, meaning to swat the nuisance.  It was a very hard-wired response apparently.  Again, Robbie only barely managed to stop himself from crushing the pretty little fairy. He didn’t want to destroy her, he wanted to know her if that was at all possible. Crushing and killing was what other little boys did when they encountered new things. Skyler might respond that way, but Robbie refused to.
He spun around, trying to get the fairy in sight, but again she was way ahead of him. There was nothing but empty air. Robbie spun around further, 180 degrees, then 360. He looked up and down, searching for a glimpse of his fairy, but to no avail. At last, he decided that he had to admit defeat. His attempt to get the fairy was a failure. He was going to have to let her get him, and maybe, in so doing, come to him. He sat down on the rock, and waited.
He felt a small pinch on his back, then another on his shoulder.  Several more small pinches, punches, and kicks. None of it was painful at all. He’d seen Brinlee plucking her eyebrows the other day, and she’d plucked one of his eyebrow hairs to show him what it was like. That pain had been at least ten times worse than anything this fairy had done to him. She was as small as an insect, and had nothing like a stinger to cause damage with.
Then she proved him wrong when she bit his ear. Robbie leaped to his feet.
“Oww,” he shouted.  That had actually hurt. It might be enough to compete with a bee sting. He slowly brought his hand to his ear to rub it. Gently, he probed the side of his head to be certain that the fairy wasn’t still there. He didn’t want to crush her when he massaged the bite. Finding her to be fled from the area, he rubbed at his ear. When he pulled his hand away, he saw a speck of blood. It was just a tiny speck, but still, the fairy could apparently do more damage than he’d originally thought. How could he win her over, show her that he was a friend and that their introduction was just a misunderstanding?
He looked about him, searching for the fairy. Several fairies zoomed here and there, but they were purple-skinned or red-skinned, not blue-green like his fairy. Where had she gone? Maybe she’d satisfied her lust for vengeance with the ear bite, and had flown away. He certainly hoped not. Despite the way she had greeted him, he liked her. She was beautiful and magnificent. The other fairies were nice, but she was just something more. Maybe it was just that he had interacted with her and not with any others, he wasn’t sure, but he just wanted to know her more. He was hoping there was some way to communicate with her.
At last he spied where she’d gone. Across the pond and several feet above his head, she hovered among the leaves of the willow, watching him. Robbie made his way around the water carefully. He walked very slow, feeling his way across the uneven, rocky ground with his feet, while never taking his eyes off his fairy. Eventually, he arrived beneath her, and raised his open palm to her, inviting her to settle there.  She merely looked at it disdainfully, and continued hovering high above.
Robbie didn’t give up, he held his hand to her until his muscles could no longer bear it. He lowered his hand, but immediately replaced it with his other hand. Then, when that hand could no longer bear it, he replaced it with his other, now rested, hand. He did this so many times that he lost count, but he was pretty sure it was upwards of a dozen. The whole time, he smiled pleasantly, hoping that fairies, since they were at least similar to human beings in shape, knew what a smile was supposed to signify.
He began calling her soothingly, speaking as if he were trying to calm a skittish animal. “Come on, don’t worry.  I’m not going to hurt you. I want to be your friend.” It seemed to make no difference. He wondered if it would backfire. Once, he’d encountered a doe in the woods while out playing. He’d tried to coax it to come to him, but the sound of his soft voice had only served to put the animal more on edge, and eventually sent it running away. He definitely didn’t want a repeat of that performance.
“Hi,” he said, “you remember me, right? I was the one you bit the other day. That whole thing with the butterfly net was just an accident. I didn’t know you were a fairy. I just thought you were a bug. But now I see. Now I know. Are you willing to give me a chance? I’m actually nice.  I swear I am.”
He spoke slowly and softly, raising the pitch of his still prepubescent voice another notch, like he was talking to a baby or a puppy dog. At last, when both arms ached so much he expected he would start to cry soon, the fairy ever so slowly began to descend. His heart leaped in his chest, and he almost screamed with delight. He was only able to bite it back just barely. He knew that it would be a big mistake, and would surely send her flying away like a rocket.
“Yeah, that’s right,” he said instead. “Yeah, I’m not a bad guy. You don’t need to be afraid of me. Come on down, and we’ll...uh, I suppose you don’t talk, but we’ll get to know each other somehow.”
The fairy settled ever so slowly, then changed her mind and rose quickly back up, “No, no,” Robbie said, making an effort to sound soothing, rather than alarmed that she was flying away again, “I’m nice, I swear. Don’t fly away.  Come back.” And it worked, or something did anyway, because she started descending slowly again.  She changed her mind several more times on her way down, but either Robbie was reassuring enough or the fairy was curious enough that at last, her her tiny narrow blue-green feet settled onto his palm.
Her feet tickled his skin, but he didn’t flinch. He fought against all the innate urges that he had. His mind raced with ideas. I should grab her, put her in a bag, and take her home, he thought. But as his mind suggested it, he raged against it. That was the last thing that would earn him any trust from this creature. Instead, he lowered his arm to a comfortable level as slowly as he could, all the while staring at the fairy and marveling at having a creature of myth and legend standing in his palm.  
When his arm made it all the way down, he started into the process of settling down into a sitting position on the ground beside the pond.  Slowly as a sloth, he lowered himself to the ground, all the while smiling and cooing soothingly at the fairy to keep her on his palm. At last, he arrived at a comfortable position, and could turn his whole attention to his fairy.
“Hello, fairy,” he said softly, “It’s nice to meet you. I’m sorry I scared you yesterday. I hope you got enough revenge that you’ll stop biting me. It would be nice if we could become friends somehow.”
As he prattled on, the fairy whistled, chirped, and chittered her own string of sounds. She also settled to a cross-legged sitting position on Robbie’s hand matching his own seated position.  She seemed to be getting more comfortable and more trusting with him. Perhaps she’d come to realize that he meant her no harm.  That’s what Robbie hoped it meant anyhow.
She sat in his right hand, so, with his left hand, he touched his chest and said, “My name is Robbie.” Then he thought he’d probably better simplify that even more, considering that she didn’t speak English at all. He pointed at his chest again, and said, “Robbie.”
The fairy squinted tilted her head sideways, like inquisitive dogs sometimes do.
“Robbie,” he repeated, tapping his chest, “Robbie. It’s my name. Robbie. Robbie.”
She lifted her own hand, and tapped on her own impossibly narrow torso. She whistled...or chirped or whatever he was supposed to call it, none of the words seemed to really quite fit the actual ethereal sound she made...twice. Robbie realized she was imitating the sound he was making as he announced his name to her. This was good!
“Yeah, that’s it,” he said, excitedly, “Robbie.” He tapped on his chest again and again, “Robbie. Robbie.”
His fairy whistled her two blast call, copying Robbie, tapping on her chest. Then she suddenly rose to her feet, and launched into the air. Oh no, Robbie thought, I’ve scared her off. What did I do? But he hadn’t scared her off at all. She didn’t fly away, but instead flew to where Robbie was tapping on his chest, and started tapping there as well, still chirping her two note call.
Robbie pulled his hand away to ensure he didn’t accidentally hit her while she hovered there, but continued repeating his name. He over enunciated the word now, pronouncing it as if each sound was made by five letters instead of just one.
The fairy seemed to catch on.  Her chirp changed from sounding like birdsong to something else. Her mouth stretched comically large just like Robbie had been doing himself as she tried to make word come out of her own mouth. Her voice was so tiny and cute. It was high pitched and sing-songy, like Alvin from the Chipmunks or Chip ‘n’ Dale from those old Disney cartoons his parents liked. Now he could hear the R sound. She didn’t seem to have as easy of a time with the B though.
“Buh, buh, buh,” he said, making the sound slowly, and demonstrating clearly how he put his lips together and then popped them apart to make the B.
Then, all at once, she seemed to grab the word and make it her own.
“Rrrr-aaah-bee,” she said.
“Yes, Robbie,” he said, nodding his head animatedly, and tapping his chest.
“Rrr-aah-bee,” she said, nodding her head comically, and flying over to tap his chest.
“Yes, Robbie. That’s me! Robbie,” he said.
“Rrr-aah-bee. Rrr-aah-bee. Robbie. Robbie.” It was starting to sound more like his actual name and less like a child saying its first word now.
“Wow, I can’t believe it. I wonder if you understand that Robbie means me.” He sat back and sighed, satisfied with his victory. “So, what’s your name?” he asked. He pointed at her, and repeated the question.  She settled back down, this time landing on his knee, and looked at him.  She didn’t seem to understand what he was after now.
“What’s your name?” he asked again, pointing at her.
She pointed back at him. “Robbie.”
Robbie sighed, this time in frustration instead of contentment. “Well,” he mumbled, “I guess it’s probably still too much to ask.” Robbie didn’t have any younger siblings, or older siblings for that matter, so he had no idea about how someone learned to talk, and what kind of a process it involved. He decided that he would just teach her as many words as he could. She’d picked up on his name really quickly. What else could she learn?
He pointed to a wildflower blossom. “Flower,” he said, then repeated it again and again. Soon, the fairy was saying her own passable version of the word. It sounded more like, “Fower.” She wasn’t really getting the L in there, but it wasn’t bad.  So, Robbie moved on.
He went from place to place around the glade, teaching his fairy the words for leaf, tree, grass, log, cattail, lily, pond, and water. It was a little exhausting, and by the time he finally got her to say pond when he pointed at the whole body of water, and water when he scooped up a handful of it and poured it out instead of saying pond again, Robbie decided it was time to call it a day. His stomach was growling like an angry dog since lunchtime had passed hours earlier, and he was beginning to even feel a little faint because of lack of nourishment.
So, he waved his hand at his fairy and said, “Goodbye.” She tried to repeat it, butchering the word pretty badly. It came out sounding like, “Goo-why.”
“No,” said Robbie, “I’m leaving. I have to go. So, goodbye. I’ll come back again tomorrow.”
Again, the fairy repeated as best as she could.
“No-why-LEAF-haff-go-so-goo-why-cum-bah-too-worroh.” She practically yelled the word leaf. Robbie guessed she was excited to hear a word she’d already learned, even though she was wrong about that. He knew he couldn’t really explain what was going on to her.  Her vocabulary was still way too limited. So, he simply walked out of the glade to the path, and headed back toward home.
The fairy followed him, shouting the words that he had taught her as they went.
“Leaf! Fower! Pond! Tree! Log! Gass!”
Eventually, Robbie made it back to the street, and still she followed. Her recitation of the words she’d been taught had sped up, and taken on a musical quality, like a child’s nursery rhyme.
“Wa-er! Leaf! Log! Gass! Pond! Li-leee! Cat-Tail! Fower! Robbie! Robbie! Robbie!”
They walked past a retired couple out working in their yard. The couple glanced up as Robbie passed, but didn’t seem to notice anything strange. They certainly didn’t see the fairy circling Robbie’s head, nor did they hear her shouting baby versions of about ten different words in a singsong chant.
At last, they reached Robbie’s house. He strode up the walk to the front door, and pulled it open. He’d expected the fairy to dart inside, but she didn’t. Instead, she hovered in place, making no movement to enter.
“So, I guess this is goodbye then? You’re not coming in? I wonder if you’ll stay out here or go back to the glade. I guess we’ll see.” He closed the door behind him, and headed into the kitchen. His stomach growled loudly, as if to spur him to walk faster. He passed the living room on the way, where Brinlee was watching some sort of reality show. Robbie didn’t know for sure, but he thought it was that Kardashian one.
“There you are,” said Brinlee, “I was wondering when you were going to come back. Were you at that pond again?”
“Yeah,” Robbie said. “I forgot to bring a lunch. Is there something to eat?”
“Sure,” she said, grabbing the remote control, and pausing the TV show. “What do you want? A sandwich?”
“That’s fine. A sandwich is good.”
Brinlee slapped some ham, a Kraft single, and a dab of mayonnaise on two pieces of Wonder bread, and put it on a plate for him.
“Thanks,” he said, “I’m going to eat on the deck.” He took his sandwich out to the table on the deck, and chewed, waiting for his fairy to see him, and swoop down to show off the words she’d learned a little more, but she never came. With a sigh, Robbie decided she must have flown back to the glade, and he’d have to wait until tomorrow to see her again.

Monday, September 1, 2014

"I Don't Mean To Be A Jerk Or Anything, But..."

The month of August turned out to be a pretty crappy one for me. Sadly, I don't even have a good excuse for it either. I did little of anything that I set out to do in the month. Instead, I let little things get in the way, or worse yet, didn't even try. I was certainly feeling depressed all month long, and it definitely affected my progress and productivity.

My wife's work, which is already a problem because of the crazy hours she works there, got even crazier. She worked tons of extra hours, and never had a set weekend for the whole month. It's difficult for us to get any time together as it is, and this month it became nearly impossible.

Then on top of that, Rish's job changed up his schedule, making it difficult for us to hang out and do the Du (ooh, I like that, we should steal that as our slogan from Mountain Dew. Then we could start having events going from town to town around the country and call it the Du Alright, forget I ever said that then).

So, basically both of my connections to the adult world were cut off. I like my kids and all, but I gotta have some human interactions as well. I can't say that that's what put me into the foul mood that I spent the majority of August in, but I can say that I did in fact spend the majority of the month in a foul mood.

What happened because of that? Well, I gave up on any attempts at being healthy, and ate crap by the truckload. I guzzled soda, went out for burgers and pizza almost every day, bought cookies, candy, donuts, and completely shunned salad and vegetables.

And when it came time to write, despite having time to do, I didn't want to. I didn't feel like it. Instead I wanted to wallow in my misery. I had some first world problems here, and I was going to stand and stare off into the distance while touching a wall instead. I just plain couldn't make myself do it.

So, in my post last Monday reporting on how things were going, I informed you all that I was at 1,720 words into chapter 2 of S&G.  Where am I now? 1,985 words. So, I wrote 265 measly words in a week's time.

I finally got together with Rish the other night, after about three weeks, and he asked me what I was writing right now. He wanted to know if I'd started writing on Do Over (which is what I'm calling my next story I plan to write). I told him I still hadn't finished chapter 2 of S&G yet.

"I don't mean to be a jerk or anything, but you should have been done with that a long time ago," he said.

And he was totally right. I needed to write. I whined to him about August, and being depressed. He told me that it was a new month very soon, and I could use that as a springboard to turn things around.  So, here I am, trying to do just that.  I already wrote some today (358 words, more than all of last week), and it looks like, once I finish this post, I'll have some more time to keep at it.

Hopefully, I'll have a finished chapter two to post for you before Monday rolls around. In fact, I'm going to make that my goal, have chapter 2 posted before Monday. Look for it, and pester me if you don't see it. Thanks for being patient with me.

Monday, August 25, 2014

So...How'd It Go?

Last week, I was telling you about my new tactic to group both writing and weight-loss into one big intertwined goal. I decided that I would start in on the My Fitness Pal thing, logging all my calories that I ate each day. Adding to that, I was supposed to write 5,000 words on the week. If I did all those things, I got to give myself a treat when Rish and I got together on Monday for our usual Dunesteefing.

Well, how did it go? I found some interesting things that came from this experience. First of all, logging my calories isn't as difficult as I've always made it out to be. Secondly, actually logging those calories changes your perception of food. When I started logging my calories, I made the pledge to myself to log all of them, no matter how many damn calories I ate. In the past, I've always logged my calories until I got to that diet busting splurge that sent my calorie count skyrocketing over the moon. Once I did that, then I just gave up, called the day a bust, and decided to try again the next day. This time, however, no matter how much I ate, I logged it. I forced myself to log it.

There were days when I was 2,000 calories above what I was supposed to stop at. It didn't matter, I kept on logging. I allowed myself to splurge as much as I wanted to, as long as I logged it. And a weird thing happened. After splurging all I wanted for a couple of days, I, without making a conscious decision or anything, stopped splurging and curbed my eating to get it to fall within the calories that I was allowed. Something about seeing the tally just made me want to change things to meet the goal. Maybe it was the report each day that tells you, "If every day were like today, you'd weigh XXX pounds five weeks from now." Usually, it would tell me that I'd gain 10 or 15 pounds, which, of course, was not what I wanted. So, without really consciously deciding to, I changed my habits.

Unfortunately, my writing habits didn't fare as well this week. My son is two and a half years old right now, and he's just in that zone where he can't take a nap, because he'll be up all night if he does, but he also can't manage to stay awake all day long if he doesn't take a nap. It's super frustrating, and it's bitten me in the ass most days this week. He keeps falling asleep at about 4:30 or 5:00 PM, which is the worst time of all. He will be up until at least 11:30 PM, usually later, if he falls asleep at that time.

Seems like we have two options, shorten his nap is one, but if we wake him up as soon as he falls asleep for a late nap like that, then he is unbearable to live with for the rest of the night. So, that seems to be out. The other option is wake him up really early in the morning, so that he takes his nap much earlier in the day, and is therefore tired again when his proper bedtime arrives. That may be the way we have to go. During the summer, we didn't want to do that, because who wants to get up hours early and deal with a crazy kid? But now that everyone has to get up for school at 6:30 AM anyway, maybe we should just add the baby to the mix.

Anyway, work has been really crazy of late, so I haven't been able to do a lot of writing on my lunch hour, and often when I do have time to write, all I want to do is sit and veg out. So, I need to make up the missed writing time in the evenings instead, except that the baby is up all night, and requiring my attention, because when he's up late, I can't just let him do his own thing. If I don't keep an eye on him all the time, he will be in my room, waking up my wife who has to work very early in the morning. So, my time has been short for writing. I fell woefully short of my goal of 5,000 words this week. I'm not quite sure exactly what I managed, because I can't remember where exactly I was in chapter 2 of Sunny and Gray when the week began. What I do have is 1,720 words in chapter 2. So, I'm approximately 3,300 words short of finishing that chapter. I shall do my best to improve on that this week.

I guess that means that I can't reward myself with pizza and Mountain Dew tonight when I get together with Rish. However, for the third week in a row, we won't be getting together anyway, because Rish will be working. So, I guess it's all for naught. I don't get the treat that I wouldn't have gotten anyway. I guess, like last week, I'll spend the evening working on editing the show. Rish finished editing the chatter portion of our next Dunesteef episode, so I need to assemble it together with the story, and get it posted. Of course, I'll only be able to do that if the baby doesn't decide to take his nap at 5:30 on me again. If you see a new episode tonight, you know things worked out. If you don't, well...

Monday, August 18, 2014

New Tactic 2

I mentioned in a post last week about my new tactic for avoiding the foods that I shouldn't eat (or at least eat much of) if I want to get back in shape again.  Surprisingly, I got a lot of comments about that, and a bunch of suggestions too.  Circumstances have caused me to need to make a change in my weight-loss plan, so I have decided to take everyone's suggestions and buckle down and try to make a habit of logging my food using My Fitness Pal.

While I'm at it, however, I have decided to try to wrap all my goals together in one.  A common practice when trying to lose weight is to allow yourself a cheat day, or cheat meal once a week or so.  I've decided that I will go this route, but that I will have to earn this cheat meal by fulfilling my goals.  So, with the internet as my witness, I will only get to eat my cheat meal with Rish Outfield each week if I log all my food 100% during the week and fulfill my weekly writing word count target of 5,000 words.

I'm hoping tying the two things together will work out.  Often, when I start working on dieting, I forget about writing, and vice-versa, but both are really important to me. Monday will be my reckoning day each week.  I'll let you know how I did, and if I've earned a soda and some pizza (or whatever we decide to eat, although that's our most common meal) or not.  If not, then I'll have to go out with Rish, and watch him eat pizza and drink soda while I just sip on a water and crunch on a salad.  So, considering I don't want to have to deal with that, I'll try really hard to succeed.

If I am successful, the next chapter of Sunny and Gray should be posted here very soon.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Character Bios

A few years ago, I was noticing in my writing that my characters all seemed rather similar.  Each one was me.  Maybe a girl me, or an old me, or a think me, or a all-star second baseman me.  But it was pretty obvious that they were just me.  So, I decided I needed to work on that.  I read a few books about  creating good characters, and I read several web posts about the same thing.  I made a really big list of questions that I needed to ask myself about a character before I try to write about them.

Sadly, the only time I've ever really done this planning in full was on my story The Battle of the Ideas, and even then, I didn't go through and answer every single question I put on my list.  It seems like a little too much preparation for a simple short story, answering a few of the most important questions seems like enough for that.  However, for a novel, it seems like it's probably pretty important.

Right now, as I'm trying to work on the next chapter of Sunny and Gray, I'm trying to sort through this stuff.  Sunny and Gray is going to be a novel, and therefore it needs this stuff to be done.  Since I'm looking at this stuff, I thought it might be cool to share the work that I did on my list, share the questions that I think are worth asking, and see what you think.

If you think there are things that I missed on my list, then please let me know in the comments.  If you have any other techniques to make a character interesting, memorable, or worthwhile please, also let me know.  I'm a pretty new writer; despite the years I've been at it, I haven't written that many stories; so, I'm always looking to improve.  So, any help you might have would be appreciated.

Okay, on to the list. Obviously this is just for major characters, although I've heard it said that minor characters would be more worthwhile if perhaps you found one or two of these questions and answered them about those characters, so they're slightly more memorable and different.

I tried to organize them into categories.  So, here you go:

What is the character's role in the story, and what is needed for that character to fulfill that role?

First design the essential nature of the character, then expand their back story etc.

What actions will they perform?  What is their motive behind these actions? Will readers like or dislike this character, and why?

What is their name? Age? Occupation? Are they good at it or bad? What is their attitude toward their job? Or are they going to school? What grade? What is their attitude toward school? Hometown? Present town if different? What type of home/neighborhood are they in?

What was their past like? What is the character's name? What does this name say about them?  What kind of ethnic or geographic background does this name bring with it? Who are their parents? Siblings? What kind of relationship did they have with them? Position in family? Other close relatives? Was their family religious? How much schooling do they have? When did they first have sex? What was/is their attitude toward sex? Were they shy or outgoing? Their friends? Did they have special childhood problems? Where did they live growing up? Have they moved away from that place? What were the major experiences in their life? What is the single most important experience in their life? When were they most happy? What was the single most happy experience in their life? What experiences scarred their psyche? What experiences do they treasure? Who are the most important people in their life? Past occupations? Who was their first love? What's the most terrible thing that ever happened to them? What was their dream growing up? Did they achieve this dream? If so, in what ways was it not what the character expected? If your character never achieved the dream, why not?

What is their reputation?  What do other people think of the character? Are these reactions fair or are the people who have these opinions unkind?

What stereotypes do they fit?  What stereotypes do they defy?

How do they act different with different friends? What is their strongest positive personality trait? Strongest negative personality trait? Sense of humor?

What habits or patterns do they follow?  What traits and mannerisms do they have? Do they cover insecurities or fears with jokes? Bravado? Does your character have a habit? Foot tapping? Nail biting? Teeth grinding? Wear sunglasses? Chew his lip? Blink a lot? Twirl her hair? What does this trait mean? Nervousness or tension? Or some sort of mental disturbance or emotional state? Arms folded across chest a lot to protect ones self? Or something like that? What are your character's good and bad habits?

What is their relationships with the opposite sex like? Same sex? Both? Are they married? Boyfriend/girlfriend? To whom? Do they have children? Who are they?  Who are their friends or are they a loner? Enemies? Influential person?

What are their talents and abilities (music, art, science, athletic, etc)? What's their IQ level?

What is their personality like?  What about their temperament? Leader or follower? What are their tastes and preferences? What do they do for fun? Favorite movies or TV shows? Favorite foods? Drinks? Magazines? Books? Comics? Sports team? Athletic? Favorite sport? What hobbies do they have? Favorite foods?

What is their appearance like? Ways of walking? Posture? Patterns of speech? Vocal quality? Clothing styles? Hairstyle? Personal habits and mannerisms? Is the character fat?  Sloppily fat or just comfortably padded? Are they thin? Hungrily thin or elegantly slim? Is he bald? Is their hair neat or shaggy, long or short? Does he have a beard or a mustache? If so is it trimmed or long and bushy? Do they wear glasses? A hearing aid? Have any other disabilities? A bum knee? A bad back? A missing finger or arm or ear or...?

What kind of clothes do they wear? High fashion or old fashioned? New or old, clean or dirty, freshly pressed or rumpled? Are their shoes scuffed or are they shined? Wing tips or moccasins? Are there holes in the soles? Does he wear neckties? If so, are they wide or narrow, conservative or gaudy? Bow ties?

What kind of car do they drive? New or old? If old is it well maintained or rusted and falling apart? Is there a bumper sticker? What does it say? Good luck charm hanging from the mirror?

What is their bedroom like? Tidy or clothes all over the place? Bed made? What kind of pictures on the wall? Stuff on the nightstand? Magazines? Books? Pipes or cigars on the dresser? Stereo equipment? What music? Rock? Country? Classical? What color is the room painted? Are there curtains? Lace or corduroy?

What twist on the expected trait do they have?

What is their moral or ethical code? Philosophy of life? Attitudes? Thought processes? Are they liberal or conservative in their views? Are they a bigot? Moral? Immoral? Do they have vices? What religion do they profess and do they practice it?

What are their personal goals (both in life and within the story)?  What are their fears? Greatest fear? Things they definitely aren't afraid of? If you asked about his or her greatest dream, what would your character tell you? What's a secret dream that he or she wouldn't tell you about? What kind of person does your character wish they could be? What is stopping them? What is your character afraid of? What keeps them up at night? What does your character think is their worst quality? What do other people think your character's worst quality is? What is a talent your character thinks they have but is very wrong about?

Who do they love most in the world? Who do they hate? In what situation would your character become violent? In what situation would your character act heroic?

What is the character's arc? Most important thing to know about this character?