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Was your week a good one? Did Saturday treat you well? Here’s to the Sunday you’ve always wanted. And a Happy Labour Day weekend to you all
Have you ever wondered about a character’s bio? Who they are before you read them? Who they are to their writers?
Last week we visited the authors and their bios, today Musers introduce…or just hand over everything to…their characters. We have a great many for you to meet…all genres covered today.
Let’s go meet them.
My favourite character is Jane Waterford, an ambitious young lady who is not above a little deception to achieve her ends. She’s just been appointed secretary to the Duchess but through a mix-up finds herself serving at a big dinner at the lady’s table:
Jane realised that the Duchess’s gaze had switched from her guests to the line of servants of which she was part and that gaze came to rest on her. “Tell me, young lady, you are not resident in the castle, I know. Do you live in the village?”
This was the last thing Jane needed, but she had to respond. “Yes, ma’am.”
“And what is your opinion about the move to give small villages like ours the
right to elect their own Parish Council?”
Jane detected an air of silent suspense around the table, as they waited for her response. Miss Dalrymple was probably hoping for some faltering, deprecating words of ignorance, which would vindicate her prejudiced view. Jane could have given such a response and withdrawn from the limelight, but she had her father’s blood in her veins and was made of sterner stuff. She stepped forward and returned the aristocratic lady’s gaze.
“Well, ma’am, it was Mr Gladstone’s promise in ninety-two that he would bring this to pass, so I say well done to him, and that his colleagues in the elected chamber held out against their lordships in the other house who would have removed the right from villages as small as Beckside. With good provision of local schooling there is no reason why anyone should be illiterate, but as you said, if they can speak and hear, they can still listen to opinions and express their own, even if they can’t put pen to paper or read a newspaper.” She’d better stop there, Jane decided. There was a deathly hush in the room, which continued for several seconds after she’d finished.
“Well,” said the Duchess at last, “you’ve certainly read your newspapers, I can see that.” Then she changed the subject. “Now then, I think we have some rather nice peaches to follow, if you’ve all finished.”
Jane stepped back and found herself ushered from the room, leaving her colleagues to clear the main course.
Carolyn Samuels is the character I chose. Here is her side of the story:
My name is Carolyn Samuels and I live in Mill Valley, which is in Westchester, NY. and attend Mill Valley High School. Everything in my life is pretty normal. I live with my parents. My mom works for an ad agency in the city. We call New York City the city here. My dad is a criminal lawyer. Oh and there is my Newfoundland dog, Max, who is a big part of our family. I’m the only child and you couldn’t ask for better parents, except they ignore me most of the time.
This whole story started on the first day of my freshman year and really I didn’t want to go to school at all. You may wonder why, so I’ll tell you. I didn’t want to run into Jennifer Taylor. Oooh every year since seventh grade she has made my life a living nightmare. I call her Miss Perfect because she is a size two and her dad owns half the town. She wants to be an Olympic gymnast so she’s excellent in gym, not my best subject and in Math too. Also she knows almost everyone in the class. Add to this her hot boyfriend, Brad, who is a Junior and a quarterback, who in my opinion don’t think she deserves. Well, maybe I might have a tiny crush on Brad myself.
I really really wanted to be a cheerleader, but I knew I could never try out because I didn’t know how to tumble. On the first day of school for freshman year I got up after having this amazing dream where I could eat chocolate cake, I had a gorgeous boyfriend and I was popular. Then I realized I was just me, a little overweight, dark brown hair hanging like shriveled spaghetti and only popular with my two best friends, Becky and Janie. As I sat up in bed I also thought about Jennifer Taylor and running into her. I lay back down and threw the covers over my head. She had pretty much ruined middle school for me after the ropes course incident. She would surprise me with that awful “Breathe, Carolyn breathe.” I had to have that stupid thing happen to me when I can’t breathe because I’m nervous or worried. The nurse called it hyperventilation. Jennifer saw me and after that made my life miserable for the whole time. I knew I would be with her in Math my best subject and I didn’t want to face her again.
You see I both hated and envied her at the same time. So when we were paired to do this math project I almost couldn’t take it. She was so bossy. Then when I had to stand in front of her for gym that did it. I fainted and she wound up blackmailing me because I was desperate to keep it secret. But really after that day as Jennifer and I got closer I realized maybe being Jennifer Taylor wasn’t so great after all. She had a terrible secret she was hiding from everyone. She didn’t even tell her best friend Maura about it or Brad.
If you want to know her secret and whether I became a cheerleader or got Brad you might want to read the book where I tell all about this: If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor by Barbara Ehrentreu.
Brad Reynolds, the main character in Broken Bonds, is a major in the Terran Federation Guard who is posted to head the Federation's base on Aleyne at the start of the novel. Brad is in his forties, a career soldier. He's single, having lost a lover in the Belan rebellion twenty years earlier. Harry, Brad's lover, had asked Brad for a commitment, but Brad, ambitious and fearful that marriage with Harry would hurt his career, had put him off. After Harry died, Brad, oppressed by the disapproval of the spirits, had made a vow never to turn away from love.
But Brad's vow is about to be sorely tried. At the reeception welcoming him to Aleyne, he meets Ardival Namar, one of the alien Aleyni native to the planet. Relations between the Federation and Aleyne are touchy at best, but that doesn't prevent Brad from being attracted to Ardaval. He decides to pursue the relationship and see where it leads even when he learns Ardival still has feelings for his former partners.
(I had my protagonist, Charlie Pickle, write a journal entry introducing himself):
"One of the sisters said I should keep a journal. She says I need to learn how to express myself without annoying everyone.
I don’t know that I annoy everyone, ‘cept for Sister Mary Lou Ann. And the rest of the sisters. And Grigsby Mud and sometimes Sparky.
Anyway, it’s odd and kind of a tick, I guess you’d call it. I don’t know how to say this but…oh, heck, it’s just that I keep going back in time. It started when I came to the orphanage and it hasn’t stopped since (not even for Sundays.) So, one day I’ll be here in 1920, but the next day I’m in some other year.
But don’t tell anyone, OK? They’ll say I’m lying, and I don’t want to get my knuckles rapped. Not again.
Two of my favorite characters are Varn Tarl Sogan, male protagonist of the Star Commandos series, and Jack Dundee, a strong secondary player in the final three books of the series and protagonist of STAND AT CORNITH. I couldn’t make up my mind which one to feature, so I resolved to compromise and showcase both:
“This is John Andrew Kallahan of the Federation Galactic News Service. With me is Chief Admiral Jack Dundee. –Thank you for agreeing to speak with me, Admiral. I know you don’t usually give interviews.”
The stocky, gray-haired man beside him shifted slightly in his chair. “I don’t, but I was highly impressed by your work when you were implanted with the medical team on Inferno during the epidemic there. You earned that Nobel Prize. I believe you will do as well with this study of the Cornith battle.”
“Thank you, sir. Given your pivotal role in the War’s most critical engagement, I will, of course, be questioning you in depth later, but for now, I’d just like to get some background information. For example, you are known throughout the Federation and, I believe, the Empire as well, as ‘Gray Jack Dundee.’ Is there a story behind that?”
“Not really. I acquired the nickname when my hair turned this shade in my early teens. It stuck.”
“You enlisted straight out of the university. Did you realize at that time that you had a major talent for outsmarting and outfighting our recent enemies?”
“Not immediately, but it had become apparent before the end of my first enlistment that I could not only win duels against individual Redjacket battlecraft but that I could beat their fleets and armadas. At that stage, it became my duty to remain with the Navy and go on doing just that.”
“During your career, you must have encountered and fought the Empire’s chief commanders.”
“Most of them. I never treated any of those clashes lightly. Almost all those officers were worthy and dangerous opponents.”
“Does any one of them stand out in your recollection?”
“The War Prince Admiral Varn Tarl Sogan. He was the finest battlecraft commander to come out of the War and probably the most brilliant tactician the Arcturian Empire ever produced. If a jealous superior not chained him on Thorne of Brandine on invasion duty during the final six years of the War, I still shudder to imagine the kind of trouble he could have caused us. We might still be fighting.”
“You sound as if you admired him.”
The famed admiral’s blue eyes turned cold, as did his voice. “Don’t you? You know his history. When that same superior’s mind snapped at the time of the Empire’s capitulation, he ordered Sogan to burn Thorne off. Sogan refused and surrendered her in accordance with the treaty his emperor had signed. Despite that fact, he was court-martialed and executed for his disobedience.
Jack’s head lowered to conceal his smile. It was a secret known to only a few favored individuals within the Federation, but Varn Tarl Sogan had survived his execution. Not only that, he was currently serving as second-in-command of the Navy’s premier Commando unit and, following an incredible series missions, was the most highly decorated soldier in his adopted ultrasystem’s history. He was also a close personal friend of Gray Jack Dundee.
MEET MICHI- AN INTERVIEW WITH A THRILLING NEW CHARACTER
In School of Deaths, we first meet the ‘Mentals, or Elementals, one of the three races in the World of Deaths. Suzie’s appearance at the College of Deaths coincides with extremely high tensions between the Deaths and the ‘Mentals. In the second novel, a new ‘Mental, named Michi, is introduced. Michi is also a girl, which changes the dynamics at the all-male College. Michi sat down with Chris to discuss her role in the upcoming novel.
CM: You were involved in the revolt at the College, weren’t you?
MICHI: Yes, I was present at the beginning, but became trapped. For months, I took the form of a fly, eating the droppings I found in the Armory.
CM: How could you become a fly?
MICHI: I am an arthromorph. I have a special.. bond.. if you will, to the insect world. If I need to become an insect for a time, I can. I also use insects in other ways if I need to, but I don’t like doing so unless I have to.
CM: Why don’t you like using insects. They’re just bugs.
MICHI: They’re more than that. I sense what they sense, I feel close to them. To use an insect often costs part of their essence, and it’s not fair to them to use that.
CM: I’ve heard a rumor that you and Frank used to be in a relationship. Is it true?
MICHI: No comment.
CM: Anything else you’d like to tell us about your role in the upcoming book?
MICHI: Sword of Deaths really does a better job of spotlighting the ‘Mentals, who are of course the most important race in the World of Deaths. I felt like we were given a minor role in the first book, and I didn’t like that. However, things aren’t going that well for us, as I’m sure you’ll see.
Concerning a character . . . My favorite character is Turtan, the hero of my Inspector of the Cross series. Here is an interview with Yaneta (Yani), his alien wife and a member of the enemy:
1. Tell us about yourself. You’re a Cen, right? A member of the enemy.
That’s right. And my people hate Turtan. For four thousand years he’s been our greatest enemy, traveling on ships in suspended animation in search of weapons and devices that could be used against us in the war. If it weren’t for him, we would have conquered your species long ago.
2. So why did you marry him?
It was the logical thing to do, and my race is logical. We captured Turtan and hoped to recruit him to our cause and then clone him, thereby seeding the stars with duplicate Turtans. But he is the humans’ greatest hero, their greatest knight and clever beyond description. By the time I shared his bed and company a few times . . . well, I began to fall in love with him.
3. Fall in love with him? Was that the logical thing to do, especially if it led to betraying your own people?
I know, I know. But you don’t know this man! Turtan opened my eyes, he made me feel. He made me love. For the first time, I experienced emotions and sexual passion and desire. With other people, I quickly reached their limits, but with Turtan, I always found I had only just begun. I was always just beginning a journey with him. It was an adventure just to hold his hand. Once he gave me a Bible he didn’t even believe in, and the description of a savior I found in it resembled him so closely because he wanted to save his people. Yet he would have scoffed at the comparison. Each time, when he made love to me, he made me new all over again. I became so much more than I was before.
4. This is getting awfully poetic for a Cen.
I concur. We are radically different from you humans. We live for three hundred years. I’m well over six feet tall with golden, multi-prismatic eyes and long blonde hair that writhes like snakes in the air when I get excited. My body moves far faster than yours and is three times as efficient. And, as I’ve said, we aren’t troubled by emotions. We’re rational.
5. So rational you not only continue to forgive Turtan for killing so many of your people, like he did your own Emperor, you’ve joined humans and help him do it. How can you do that?
[A long pause.] Sweetie, if you met the man just once, you’d understand.
Character Bio—Arthur Whitehair, THINGS ARE NOT WHAT THEY SEEM
One of the main characters of THINGS ARE NOT WHAT THEY SEEM is a young Englishman by the name of Arthur Whitehair who, about 180 years ago, discovered a spell that was supposed to give him eternal life. However, he misread the spell and received eternal life as a pigeon. To compound the problem, Whitehair’s reading error also turned an evil man by the name of Malman into a hawk. Malman would like nothing better than to eat Whitehair just for screwing things up so badly. To escape, Whitehair travels to New York City where Jenny and James meet him and agree to help reverse the spell. However, Arthur isn’t always sure he wants to reverse the spell entirely. It’s hard to give up eternal life once you have it, and a person like Arthur might be willing to make a deal with the devil to stay young forever. Things are not what they seem!
My name is Lara, and I work downtown in the Metropolitan Building. I’m not really all that good at talking about myself. Just ask my good friend, Carrie. She accuses me of being a recluse, but the sad truth is I lack her social graces. Sometimes I give in and let her drag me to some party, so she’ll get off my case. She flits from one group to another, laughing and having a great time, while I lurk around the edges of the crowd, looking for a place to hide.
Carrie and I have been BFFs for a long time, even though we are total opposites. She’s cheerful. I’m sarcastic. She’s outgoing. I’m a loner. But she’s always been there for me, especially after losing Dad. Mom died when I was born and left the two of us trying to cope. Now there’s only me. Carrie’s been a great friend. I just wish she’d quit trying to fix me up with some guy she thinks is my Mr. Right.
People tell me I should go into modeling, because I’m 5 foot ten and have the kind of red hair everyone wants these days, but honestly, being in the spotlight isn’t my thing. And, looking like a model hasn’t helped with dating at all. My height intimidates a lot of men. It’s funny. One of the first things I noticed about Rhys is that it didn’t seem to bother him a bit that we stood eye to eye. Not to mention his great body and rugged good looks didn’t get my attention, along with his green eyes…
Olivia starts the series as a 25 year old failure at life. She has friends and family that love her, but no job, no self esteem and terrible choices in boyfriends. She emotionally 'hits bottom' just before the Change that turns one third of the Earth's population to something else - different fantasy races or new magical talents and sometimes both. Olivia becomes a Dark Elf (drow) mage. Before the story ends she has to discover her inner strength and courage and face down her worst nightmare.
Introducing Luke Augustin, a main character in two upcoming MuseItHOT stories by Brent Archer. Let's sit down and let Luke introduce himself to the world.
BA: So tell us about yourself. What's your story?
Luke: Well, I grew up in eastern Washington state and north Idaho. Played sports, read a lot, and acted in several productions during high school. Mom was a beautician, and dad a farmer. Lots of fireworks there between the city girl and the country guy.
BA: I can imagine.
Luke: I did a lot of summer stock theatre during college and was involved in a murder investigation during one of them.
BA: A murder investigation?
Luke: Yeah, one of the actors was killed at the summer theatre between productions. He was a real jerk and a big bully, so I’m not too surprised it happened. Anyway, my friend Brayden was accused, and I had to find out who did it.
BA: You? What about the cops?
Luke: They'd already decided Brayden did it. I couldn't leave my friend in the lurch. Loyalty is one of my best traits, and can also be one of my flaws.
BA: So you figured it out?
Luke: Yup. Anyway, after college, I moved to England and entered the employ of Justin Pennington, and aristocrat with a chip on his shoulder higher than the Cliffs of Dover.
BA: And what did you do for him?
Luke: I'd rather not say.
BA: Um, okay. But you're no longer in his employ?
Luke: No, thankfully. I barely survived the ordeal, and the subsequent adventure with Heath Firestone and Graeme Hansen. Definitely some fun times with those guys. We had a caper or two in Austria. I'm sure you heard about it.
BA: I have, but perhaps not our audience.
Luke: Well, they will next spring.
BA: Great, well, thanks Luke for stopping by. We'll look forward to reading about you in Summer Stalked and in Pennington's Conquest.
Abbreviated excerpt from The Captain and The Countess.
Edward Howard is a captain on half pay in Queen Anne Stuart’s navy. Although he is ten years younger than The Countess of Sinclair but his maturity narrows the difference in their ages. He meets her for the first time in his godmother’s drawing room.
“Did the countess have the devil-may-care attitude gossips attributed to her? If she did, it explained why some respectable members of society shunned her.
The lady’s fair charms did not entirely explain what drew many gallants to her side. After all, there were several younger beauties present that the gentlemen did not flock around so avidly.
He advanced toward the countess, conscious of the sound of his footsteps on the wooden floor and the muted noise of coaches and drays through the closed windows.
Her ladyship scrutinised him. Did she approve of his appearance? A smile curved her heart-shaped mouth. Edward repressed his amusement. He suspected the widow’s rosy lips owed more to artifice than nature.
“How do you do, sir. I think we have not met previously. Her eyes assessed him dispassionately. My name is Sinclair, Katherine Sinclair. I dislike formality. You may call me Kate.”
“Captain Howard at your service, Countess.” Shocked but amused by boldness more suited to a tavern wench than a great lady, Edward paid homage with a low bow. “Despite your permission, I am not presumptuous enough to call you Kate, yet I shall say that had we already met, I would remember you.”
“You are gallant, sir, but you are young to have achieved so high a rank in Her Majesty’s navy.”
“An unexpected promotion earned in battle which the navy did not subsequently commute.”
“You are to be congratulated on what, I can only assume, were acts of bravery.”
“Thank you, Countess.”
The depths of her ladyship’s sapphire cross and earrings blazed, matching his sudden fierce desire.
Kate, some four inches shorter than Edward, looked up at him.
He leaned forward. The customary greeting of a kiss on her lips lingered longer than etiquette dictated. Her eyes widened before she permitted him to lead her across the room to the sopha on which his godmother sat with Miss Martyn.
With a hint of amusement in her eyes, Kate regarded Mrs Radcliffe. “My apologies, madam, I suspect my visit is untimely.”
Her melodious voice sent shivers up and down his spine, nevertheless, Edward laughed. Had the countess guessed his godmother, who enjoyed match-making, wanted him to marry Mistress Martyn? No, he was being too fanciful. How could she have guessed?
“You are most welcome, Lady Sinclair. Please take a seat and partake of a glass of cherry ratafia.” Frances said.
“Perhaps, milady prefers red viana,” Edward suggested
“Captain, you read my mind, sweet wine is not to my taste.”
In response to the lady’s provocative smile, heat seared his cheeks.
Kate smoothed the gleaming folds of her turquoise blue silk gown. Later, he would sketch her from memory.
Kate inclined her head to his godmother. “Will you not warn your godson I am unsound, wild, and a bad influence on the young?”
Edward gazed into Kate’s eyes. Before his demise, had her husband banished her to a manor deep in the country? If it was true, why did he do so?
Kate’s eyebrows slanted down at the inner corners. He laughed, raised her hands to his lips and kissed each in turn. “I look forward to furthering my acquaintance with you.”
“High-handed.” Kate gurgled with laughter. “Captain, please release me.”
What did he care if she were some ten years his elder? He wanted to get to know her better. Edward bowed. “Your slightest wish is my command.”
Kate turned her attention to Edward. “I have no doubt you would become a cherished member of the group of those who seek my favour.”
“Countess, life at sea teaches a man to be wary of enemies, not to compete with them. I am not a flirt.”
“If I seclude myself with you tomorrow morning, may I have the pleasure of your company?”
“Alone with you? How improper. Are you always so careless of your reputation?” he asked, with a hint of laughter in his voice.
Her eyes widened. “I have no reputation to guard, Captain.” She had spoken in a forward manner he was unaccustomed to in polite society.
“Have you not?” Edward needed a plunge in icy water. A frozen glimpse of despair deep in her eyes unsettled him. Did he imagine it? He could not speak. Why should a lady like the countess despair?”
Meet Cynthia “Cyn” Arden, newest member of the PSY-IV Teams…
Six months after a botched military investigation Gunnery Sgt. Cyn Arden is brought home by a panicked phone call from her lone family member. When her boots hit the dusty ground of Phoenix, she walks into empty home filled with nightmares only she can see and the man she crossed an ocean to escape.
JG: Cyn, thanks for carving out a few for a de-brief.
Cyn: (holding up an arm covered in purple plaster) Not doing much else at the moment.
JG: I heard things didn’t go quite as planned in apprehending your target.
Cyn: This surprises you? When does any mission ever go as planned.
JG: Well, since the team consists of psychics…yeah, I mean, didn’t someone see this coming?
Cyn: No one had a crystal ball handy? Besides, seeing the future isn’t my specialty.
JG: What is your specialty?
Cyn: Haven’t you read the file?
JG: I’d rather get your take.
Cyn: (sighing) Fine. I can see the past.
JG: Helpful in this particular situation.
Cyn: Helpful? How ‘helpful’ is it to see things you can’t change, no matter how much you fight? (leans forward, face grim) How’d you like to watch the ones you love scream and die in front of your eyes, over and over and not be able to change one damn thing? Or wade through someone else’s nightmare, knowing it won’t end well? Know that old saying about not being able to change the past? Yeah, well, when you can relive it in brilliant Technicolor, you’d do anything to change it.
"Good morning, Mr. Lindsay. I thought I'd catch you here in the stables enjoying a moment or two with Broom. He's a fine lad." And so I had Charles Lindsay's attention because in 1826 a man and his domestic animals are rather closely bonded.
"And you were in the right, Mistress Stenhouse. I owe him a lot. He carries me around my various architectural projects as well as social visits out of town to shoot. Yesterday I rode him back from Dalkeith where I encountered my neighbour, Menzies's niece. Well, I say encountered, but you must know I went looking for Lady Bella as I'd uncovered a plot to soil her honour."
"Something an honourable man and loyal neighbour would not walk away from?" I prompted.
"No, but I got little thanks for my pains. That Red-headed minx is in sore need of a man's firm hand on her bridle. Not that that will be me. Oh no, Mistress Stenhouse, following the romantic disaster I suffered a few years ago, I am foresworn attractive women. It may be that I will marry in my fifth decade when it becomes imperative to have an heir to pass the Lairdship onto. But, it won't be a red-headed aristocrat who freely waves pokers at one's shins."
I studied the flush rising over his cheeks. His northern colouring means he can do little to avoid that. Did the gentleman dismiss Bella with a little too much force? After all, many young men have a broken relationship in their past, I mused.
"I am to take Bella riding around the Borough Loch this morning. I trust she will read nothing more than friendly interest into such a gesture. I recognise how crowded the Menzies house is with such a distinguished visitor in their midst. And, of course, a gentleman must rise to his duty, however difficult he finds it."
Of course, Charles...
Dear reader, thank you again for joining us and we’d love to hear from you. Keep smiling and have a fun week. Never stop believing. See you next Sunday…nothing better than being cozy in bed with some Musings.
If you have a question or comment you’d like us to muse upon, do not hesitate to contact me Christine Steeves-Speakman at MuseChrisChat@gmail.com