Posted in Bookish Things, Reading, Writing, Writing Tips

Punctuation Pantry: the Oxford Comma (To Use or Not To Use)

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Let me put forth a public apology to my faithful readers who have not heard from this blog in a few weeks. Wanna know why? No, you probably don’t. Suffice it to say, school happened, then driver’s ed happened, then editing happened, then a whole bunch of other stuff happened . . . 🙂 Blogs are wonderful, but they suffer when our schedules get stuffed. Who can relate?

But that’s not what we’re here to talk about. The Punctuation Pantry is back, and we’re here to talk about the Oxford comma. Heard of it? Oh, yeah, I bet you have.

Don’t know what it is? No problem – here goes.

I am sending Sally a get-well card, a potted plant, and a new coat.

(I’d like to have a friend who would think to send all that when I’m sick.) 😉

Did you spot the Oxford comma? It comes after the last item in a list. So, after “potted plant.” Now, the controversy surrounding this helpless little comma is that some style guides require it when others don’t. So you have people who like it and people who don’t.

Now, let’s look at that sentence again, without the Oxford comma.

I am sending Sally a get-well card, a potted plant and a new coat.

Not having the comma doesn’t make that sentence confusing. You can mentally insert the separation of the three items. But let’s look at a different sentence.

She took her cousins, Dominique, and Miss Helen to the local fair.

Got it? Now let’s take the Oxford comma out.

She took her cousins, Dominique and Miss Helen to the local fair.

See the problem? A reader might think her cousins are Dominique and Helen. Now, strictly speaking, you’d need a comma after Helen if those names were her cousins’, but that’s a story for another day.

Personally, yes, I use the Oxford comma. It just makes sense. In some sentences, it feels awkward, in some, it’s unnecessary, but in others, it literally makes the difference between a reader understanding and misunderstanding what you’re saying.

And no, you can’t use the comma in one sentence and not in another in the same story. 🙂 Sorry, but . . . no.

So, now that the Punctuation Pantry has been resurrected, tell me your ideas for what we should chat about in the world of grammar!

Your turn! What is your opinion on the Oxford comma? Do you use it? Let’s chat in the comments!

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Posted in Blog Tag, Bookish Things, Personal, Reading

Welcome to the Kaleidoscope Tag!

So, if you’ve been around this blog for a while, you know I kinda like tags. And the Kaleidoscope tag will be the second I’ve created myself. This is a tag geared towards books and movies. Who can resist? So grab your favorite reading snack and pull up a chair.

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RULES

  1. Link back to the blog which started the tag and also share the graphic above in your post.
  2. Link back to the person who tagged you.
  3. Tag up to five people (or more, if you want).

THE QUESTIONS

BOOKS

1. Name the first book that comes to mind. 🙂

For me, that is A Little Princess, even though I’ve never read the book.

2. What is the first book that comes to mind when you hear the word, “Christmas”?

Actually, a movie comes to mind for me, but since that wasn’t the question I asked, I’ll say A Christmas Carol.

3. What is the last book you gave (or would have given) a five-star review?

I had to go to Goodreads to remember this. 😉 But it was Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand. If you read only one book this year, let it be that one. (I read the young adult version, so naturally, that’s the one I’m recommending.)

4. Which book (that you can think of right now) made you feel like you were there with the characters?

To the biggest extreme, also. I’d have to say Unbroken. Maybe it was the story itself, but there were many times that I was RIGHT. THERE. Which made it difficult to get through at times.

5. Think of a favorite author – what is your favorite of their books?

I have several favorite authors. But I’ll pick Nadine Brandes and I’ll say . . . five minutes later . . . Fawkes. Or maybe A Time to Rise . . .

6. What’s your opinion on love triangles?

I really don’t mind them when they’re done well.

7. What’s your opinion on cliches?

Cliches, on the other hand . . . yeah, no. You don’t want me to get started on cliches. Granted, you probably can’t write without at least a few small cliches, but to deliberately build a story off of a cliche and then keep the WHOLE THING embedded in that cliche . . .

 

MOVIES

1. Your all time favorite movie?

That would probably be Anne of Green Gables: The Continuing Story. It’s the only movie of the series not based strictly on one of the books, and it’s my favorite. The story was AMAZING.

2. Narnia or Lord of the Rings? (Movies, not books.)

Both. 🙂 Okay, Lord of the Rings.

3. Your favorite classic movie?

A Christmas Carolthe George C Scott version. We watch it every year!

4. Your favorite based-on-the-book-by movie?

Since I can’t say A Christmas Carol again, I’ll say A Little Princess. Just saw it recently for the first time in YEARS. I loved it. (The 1995 version.)

5. Your favorite movie you saw in the theater?

Unbroken: Path to Redemption. Or possible The Man Who Invented Christmas . . . (historical, again). Or possibly both.

6. How many movies have made you cry?

Officially . . . none. But that doesn’t mean there weren’t quite a few that could have.

7. What’s the first movie to come to find when you want a movie to make you laugh?

Moms’ Night Out. Enough said.

 

And that’s it! There you have it. Now to tag people . . .

The World Within the Wardrobe

Over the Withers

Lit Aflame

Life Without A Latte

Kate Flournoy

And Jane Maree

Have fun, guys! And spread the word. Also, if you weren’t tagged, consider yourself tagged. 🙂

Posted in Bookish Things, Personal, Stray Cats

When I Have Writer’s Block . . .

We were looking through some old photos today, and this one popped up. I wouldn’t normally write a post to share one picture, but, um . . . I think you’ll understand. 🙂

When I have writer’s block . . .

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Yeah, I think you’ll understand why I had to share that. This is our cat Lentil. The picture was taken a couple years ago, but that expression . . . and the notebook . . . and pen . . .

Priceless!

Thanks for tolerating this super short post. I’ll be back! Meantime, go pet a cat. They’re great therapy. 🙂

 

This is the same picture with some editing:

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Posted in Bookish Things, Writing, Writing Tips

Adjectives ‘n’ Adverbs – Friends or Foe to Your Writing?

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Okay, I don’t care if you just started writing a week ago, you’ve probably heard rumors of the dissension adjectives and adverbs cause between writers and editors. The plain truth is, every editor I’ve ever heard from speaks against most adjectives and adverbs. Look at this sentence:

The growling dog stalked slowly towards the boy’s house, eager for the tasty beef he knew was on the grill.

If you couldn’t tell, there are too many adjectives in that sentence. And the adverb “slowly” is weak. So how do you fix something like that? Or, more to the point, how to avoid it in the first place?

Well, there is a bit of a trick to this.

STRONG VERBS.

Let’s look at this sentence again.

The dog stalked towards the house, his mouth watering in anticipation of the meat he could smell sizzling on the grill.

Okay, that’s FAR from perfect. But we did chop out some adjectives. Now lets look at the verbs. In my opinion, “stalked” is a fairly strong verb in this instance, because it gives a good picture of how the dog was moving. “Mouth watering” is probably a little cliche. But compare it to “eager for . . .” and it does portray a slightly stronger image. Regarding nouns, “meat” is better than “beef” in this instance. If it’s on a grill, for one, it’s probably beef. Let the reader assume some things, especially if it is not essential to the progression of the story.

Now, don’t go chopping every single adjective or adverb out of your story. When used well (and probably sparingly), they’re just fine, and quite honestly, you can’t write anything without some adjectives.

And think about it – as a reader, when you read a story with a ton of bland descriptive words, you’re going to notice it and it’s going to mess you up as you read.

Don’t just get my take on this. There are a lot of people with way more experience.

Remember, strong verbs will almost always convey what you want better than adverbs. And a mediocre adverb coupled with a weak verb is going to drag you down. So, make friends with a thesaurus.

Adjectives and adverbs are just one thing an editor (or a reader) is going to look at. Fortunately, they’re not that difficult to fix. I don’t really  recommend you worry about it in your first draft, because it will probably slow you down. But if you’re like me and you “edit” your first draft with a read-over, that’s a GREAT time to work on them. And don’t worry if you can’t catch all of them – an editor will. 🙂

Share your take on this! Do you find you struggle with adjectives and adverbs? What technique could you share for other writers? Let’s chat in the comments!

Posted in Book Reviews, Bookish Things, Reading

7 Winter Reads To Chase Away the Cold!

Oh, winter is a time for reading! (So she says while she isn’t currently reading a thing.) Hey, I’m editing. That’s a valid excuse. 🙂

But you don’t have that excuse. So here are seven awesome books you should totally be reading this winter.

BITTER WINTER (Jaye L Knight)

Bitter Winter Cover

🙂

I haven’t read it yet, but it just came out, and seriously, that cover.

But it’s book five, so if you haven’t read the series, start with book one.

LACY (Jaye L Knight)

Lacy Cover

Now, while we’re on the subject of Ilyon Chronicles, this one I have read, and I LOVED LOVED LOVED it! It’s pretty short and perfect for a winter day read.

BEYOND THE BRIGHT SEA (Lauren Wolk)

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This precious book is middle-grade and perfect for any reader. Seriously. This story is so beautiful! And so is that cover . . .

The friend who recommended this book has also read it at least twice.

UNBROKEN (Young Adult Version) (Laura Hillenbrand)

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I haven’t talked much about this book since reading it, and I should have. This is a true story, and it’s the most powerful, inspiring story I have ever read, ever. Read it when you have time to sit down and not get up for a good long while.

DARE (Tricia Mingerink)

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What can I say? There’s snow on the cover. But aesthetics aside, it’s an awesome story that begins a terrific series. You won’t be able to stop at book one.

WINTER HAVEN (Athol Dickson)

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This book. This. Book. Twists, turns, suspense, and a totally logic explanation at the end that you never saw coming . . .  My kind of book. Prepare to be swept away.

And last but far from least . . .

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Fawkes. What can I say? It was amazing. PERFECT for a winter read because you can just settle in and not move for a while.

Okay, today we’ve got to chat in the comments. What are your favorite winter reads? Have you read any of the books on this list? What’s your favorite kind of book to read when you’re cold- or snow-bound? (Or does that analogy not apply to your part of the world?) 🙂 Readers, let’s chat!

Posted in Blog Tours, Book Release, Book Reviews, Bookish Things, Reading

Ilyon Chronicles and Blades of Acktar Blog Tour! (and book review)

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This is going to be a crazy fun blog tour! Wanna know why? ‘Cause I’m totally panicking right now ’cause I totally forgot about this post today. Because two of my three favorite authors ever are releasing their new books together! So seriously, check out these awesome books. I’m so excited to be part of this.

Bitter Winter Cover
ISN’T THIS AWESOME??????

ABOUT BITTER WINTER

Already struggling with a harsh winter and the threat of food shortage, a catastrophic event leaves those in the Landale camps reeling. Just when things couldn’t get much worse, camp members fall ill with the same devastating sickness that’s sweeping across the country.

Determined to gain the cure, Jace sets off to Valcré. However, there are only two sources—the queen, or a powerful gang of smugglers who have made the dangerous city their home. When Jace gains audience with the gang leader, he finds the price of the cure is steeper than any of them imagined, forcing him to make an impossible choice—betray his conscience or let those he loves die.

Lacy Cover

ABOUT LACY

The last thing Aaron ever envisioned was falling for a prostitute. Everything about it spells trouble. However, he can’t help noticing the way her smile lights up when she sees him and how much brokenness she hides behind it. Neither can he ignore how desperately she needs rescue and protection.

When Lacy shares a life or death secret with him, Aaron is willing to risk everything to help her and to show her Elôm’s love. Yet, such a choice could destroy his reputation and maybe even cost him his freedom.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

JayeLKnight Author PhotoJaye L. Knight is an award-winning author, homeschool graduate, and shameless tea addict with a passion for Christian fantasy. Armed with an active imagination and love for adventure, Jaye weaves stories of truth, faith, and courage with the message that even in the deepest darkness, God’s love shines as a light to offer hope. She has been penning stories since the age of eight and resides in the Northwoods of Wisconsin. You can connect with Jaye on her websiteblogFacebookTwitter, and Etsy.

 

MY REVIEW OF LACY (Ilyon Chronicles Novella 5.5) ⭐⭐⭐⭐
This book is incredible. We finally get to see from Aaron’s POV. He was a likable character before. Now he’s a favorite. First off, the storyline itself is both difficult to swallow and really, really good at the same time. Jaye’s new character, Lacy, is a prostitute, so that’s naturally going to deal with difficult topics. However, it is handled VERY well, typical of Jaye’s books.
The love story woven in the pages is so beautiful. It unfolds so gently. It’s so real. And the characters! Aaron and Lacy . . . I could go on forever. I’m an official fangirl for their story. 🙂
My only complaint about this book is that it was so short. 😒 I could have read another hundred pages no problem. So the two of them had better be in the next book. 😊

 

 

Decree Cover

ABOUT DECREE

The Adventure Continues.

Discover more of The Blades of Acktar in this collection of novellas and short stories.

The Blades as They Should’ve Been
A test and the Gathering of Nobles will decide Leith and Martyn’s futures. Can they fight to become more than the Blades they were? Will Keevan accept what it means to have the man who attempted to kill him as family?

The First Mission
When Martyn visits Surgis, his past seems determined to haunt him. Can he figure out how to forgive, especially when confronted with an enemy in need of his help?

To the Far Great Mountains
A death sends Leith and Martyn far beyond the borders of Acktar. Will they be able to arrest their quarry before they are caught themselves?

From the story of how Leith and Martyn met to Ranson’s search for a life outside of the Blades, these stories will answer plaguing questions and expand the world of Acktar.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Tricia Mingerink is a twenty-something, book-loving, horse-riding country girl. She lives in Michigan with her family and their pack of pets. When she isn’t writing, she can be found pursuing backwoods adventures across the country. You can connect with Tricia on her blogFacebookTwitter, and Instagram.
PaperbackGiveaway
 Share in the excitement of the release and enter to win a full signed set of the Ilyon Chronicles and The Blades of Acktar! (Giveaway is open to US residents only. Cannot be shipped internationally.) Be sure to stop by each of the character chats (links in the blog tour schedule) for additional giveaways throughout the tour! Follow this link to enter.

Tour Schedule

Friday – December 14 – Release Day for Bitter Winter & Lacy!

Saturday – December 15

Monday – December 17

Tuesday – December 18 – Release Day for Decree!

Wednesday – December 19

 Thursday – December 20

Friday – December 21

Saturday – December 22

 

Posted in Book Updates, Bookish Things, Personal, Writing

A (Super Exciting) Writing Update!!

*throws confetti and throws gluten-free pizzas in the oven*

We have a writing update.

Drum-roll.

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I’m gonna cut to the chase.

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PROMISED LAND HAS BEEN SENT TO AN EDITOR.

(insert cool GIF of confetti and cats dancing)

So, there ya all have it. I finally sent Promised Land to an editor. Which is technically just the first step in the long road of fixing this thing, but it’s exciting, nonetheless. I’ve never been so close to publishing anything. And I think this is going to work. *cue internal screaming*

😛

I’m so excited, it’s kinda hard to focus on a new first draft of a new project (which is undecided, so don’t worry, you’re not being kept in the dark). But while Promised Land is out of my hands, it’s a perfect opportunity. So just keep telling me to go write. 😉

It’ll be a few more weeks at least before I have another update, and in the meantime, I have to start thinking about the cover design. Yikes.

And this is the first time I’ve ever sent a whole manuscript to an editor, so . . . do forgive this hasty and unpolished blog post. But those are more fun anyway, right?

So, what I want to know from you, is how is your WIP going? Planning to publish? Any words of wisdom? 😉 Let’s chat in the comments!

Posted in Bookish Things, Personal, Reading, Short Stories

Moments Like Glass – a Short Story

I thought I’d share another short story with you guys, since the last one seemed popular with everyone. I wrote this for Faithwriters a couple years ago and it came in third. (Next time I’ll choose something more recent.) Enjoy!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
“What time is it?”

I grit my teeth and pretend not to hear, pretend to be occupied with preparing dinner. Mom . . . please.

“What time is it?”

I glance at the doorway of the kitchen to where her concerned face, a pallor of weather- and labor-worn wrinkles from the decades of farm life, watches mine intently. “Seven o’clock.”

“He’s late. He’s never late, Steven.” Mom turns, her step hobbled, and walks with muttered words out of the room.

I watch her go, my weak composure a trembling pillar. I’m not Steven. I’m not your brother. And Dad’s not coming home. That car wreck did more than take my dad’s life. It took hers, too. I took her in when my sister refused, unable to understand what the problem would be. But with the panic in Anne’s voice whenever we talked about a place for Mom and the doctor’s indelible glum when the words brain and damage floated around, I should have known.

And after the most grueling two years of my life, I can’t face up to the agonizing truth – I can’t take this.

I manage to get the chicken in the oven and the carrots steaming, manage to get in a hushed phone conversation with my girlfriend to let her know the date is off for obvious reasons, manage to feed the cat. I am existing, not living. My unspoken vow to Dad, my unshakable resolve to take care of Mom, has left my life barren.

I’m sorry, Dad. I’m so sorry.

“What time is it?”

Turning away, I squeeze my eyes shut. “Seven-thirty.”

“He’s never late, Steven.”

Here, I must pretend. “He called. He has to go to Dover. He’ll be back later.”

Mom doesn’t answer. I assume she’s gone from the room, and I turn. She stands there in the doorway, her eyes clear and in pain, her lip quavering as she meets my eyes. And here, I endure the insidious torture and the beautiful hope of her frail, infinitesimal moments of perfect clarity. I cross the room to hold her in my arms as I always do, but this time, I cannot stop my own deluge of emotion kept buried during her endless spells of uncomprehending, of living in an age gone by.

“My Cody,” she whispers, and my heart shatters as glass to hear my name from her lips.

“I’m here, Mom.” My voice rasps. “I’m here.”

“Why?”

Why? Because she has nowhere else to go? Because Anne can’t handle even the thought of taking her in? Because I promised Dad?

No, none of these are right. The real reason has kept me afloat, if only just above water, for the last two years.

“Because I love you, Mom.”

She does not answer, and I know this priceless moment will soon be gone, ripped away by the cruel monster that has kept her from me all these many months. But for now, the hope and relief that these moments give to us, if only for a moment, I can dwell within.

“Hey, do you want to do something special tonight?” I ask with a smile.

“Your dad always asked me that question,” she replies, her voice light, and I cling to that relief with her past tense use of ask.

“I was thinking we could make cookies.” Something she used to recruit my help for as a kid, telling me I was the cookie “expert” in order to play into my pride and get me to lend a hand. “You’re the expert,” I add.

She laughs a little, and I can tell she is not fully with me. But we will get through this together. I promised Dad. I promised myself. I promised her. God, there’s only so much of this I can take. I ask for grace.

Tonight, as her moment of clarity, as frail as glass, begins to ebb away, we do something special. Tomorrow, she’ll again think I’m Steven, she’ll worry after Dad, she’ll tell me he is late, that something must be wrong. How many hours will it be before I have my mom back again? How many days?

But tonight, I won’t dwell on tomorrow.

We taste the warm cookies and Mom tells me with a mischievous twinkle in her eye, “We should do this every night.”

~~~~~~

Thanks so much for reading! Let me know what you think.

Posted in Bookish Things, Writing, Writing Tips

The POV Battle Continues (Choosing the Right POV for Your Story)

I should have done this post just at the beginning of November so some of you could have seen it in time for NaNoWriMo. But alas, here it is, better late than never.

You might recall I did a post about choosing the right POV a while ago. So I’m going to try not to just repeat everything I said before. But honestly, I face this question every time I start a new book.

And it is infuriating.

Sometimes.

At other times, you just know that the story would be best if you wrote it in first person. Or third. Or one-hundred-and-seventeenth. 😔

But most of the time, for me anyway, it’s a constant battle. I wrote my recent WIP Promised Land in the point of view of first person multiple, meaning I switched between two characters. And that was tricky, but now when I try to go back to third person . . . it’s like putting a round peg in a square hole. I feel like I’m totally separate from the characters, even though I know I describe scenes and settings far better in third person than I do in first.

So what’s the answer?

There’s no easy one. Everyone will have a POV in which they write better or, at the very least, enjoy more than any other. But not every story fits in first person, and not every story fits in third person.

Generally, however, a story in which you know you need to get into the head of many different characters OR you need to get into the head of one or two minor characters, third person is probably your best option. Take it from someone who just wrote a novella in first person multiple, it’s not easy.

When I wrote One Light Shining, it was always (all six drafts of the unpublished thing) in third person. Because there were always a number of characters I wanted to bring into the story with their own point of view. Can you have too many POVs in one story? Oh, yeah. Absolutely. First person, even multiple, certainly stops you from writing in too many POVs.

But first person is limiting. So assess what you’re writing. The outline. The characters. How many characters’ heads do you need to get inside? How many do you want to get inside? (There could be a difference.)

Alas, the POV battle continues! Fight on, brave writer. The POV is only the first battle of the war that is writing. 😉

Hmm, I like that . . .

You’re turn. What POV do you enjoy the most to write? Have you experienced this conflict in your writing? Let’s chat in the comments!

Posted in Blog Tag, Bookish Things, Personal

The Voted Most Likely Tag

So, for the first time in a while, we have a tag on here. Fun!

Rule One – Thank the wonderful person who tagged you . . .  But then, I tagged myself, so . . .  I’ll just have to link to Kinsey’s blog, since I found it there. 🙂 Thank you, friend.

Rule Two – Include this link (phoebeamorryce.wordpress.com/2018/10/15/voted-most-likely) in your post, because she created the tag.

Rule Three – Use your OWN original characters for the tag! Don’t use a friend’s characters or the characters from your favorite fandoms. Your characters can come from any project, just so long as you’re the one who created them.

Rule Four – Tag at least four blog friends to do the tag.

Ready? Good.

Your character most likely to be a poet

Poet? Seriously? Yikes. Okay, probably Amberly from One Light Shining, since she really loves nature and photography and such.

Most likely to dance in the rain

Ah! Nan from my new book Promised Land. Short bio: She’s spirited, fun, and resilient. And she’d be the first to dance in the rain. 🙂

Most likely to look good in a kilt

A kilt? Who thought of this? Since a kilt is kind of old-fashioned, I’m going to say either Cade or Elian from One Light Shining. But don’t tell them, please.

Most likely to get punched in the face

I’d have to say Logan from Ashes Remain. Not by anyone who knows him, and simply because he sometimes would come across as clueless and annoying. (He’s not either one, but he might seem that way at times.)

Most likely to drop everything and become a sheep herder

Oh, THANK YOU FOR THIS! I LOVE THIS!

Owen, from Promised Land. He’s, like, so far above “sheep herders” in social status, but under different circumstances, I can totally see him dropping everything to become one.

Most likely to be found in a library

Should I say Aros from Promised Land simply because he is often in his library? But then, so is Corwin from One Light Shining. On second thought, they don’t count. Talia from Promised Land, if she had regular access to a library.

Most likely to sleep through an earthquake

I want to say Issac (Promised Land). But that just doesn’t really fit him, so I’ll say (again) Logan from Ashes Remain.

Most likely to steal food from other people’s plate

Hmm . . .  I’d have to say Kierra from Ashes Remain. She would do it with a smile, but I think she would still do it. 🙂

Most likely to cheat on a test

Seriously? I think Aaron (Promised Land). Not under normal circumstances, but under serious pressure he would/might.

Most likely to say “oops” after setting something on fire

Andrew from One Light Shining. He’d feel terrible, but first he’d say . . . “Oops.”

Most likely to open an orphanage

Either Talia or Nan from Promised Land . . .  Nope, definitely Nan.

Most likely to run off with the circus

Katrina (One Light Shining). At the onset of the story, anyway. She’s insecure and unpredictable.

Most likely to survive a zombie apocalypse

Logan (Ashes Remain). He probably knows all the tricks for killing a zombie.

Most likely to fake their own death

I’ve never written a character, I don’t think, who would do that just for the sake of scaring people. However, I think Corwin from One Light Shining would have good reason to do it . . . and Promised Land contains a character who did do it. Again, for legitimate reasons. That character I shan’t name. You will just have to read the book. 🙂

Most likely to die and haunt their friends

???????? Um . . . . . I DON’T KNOW.

 

So there you are, folks! I tag:

Anna

Kate

Jane

Ann Marie

Have fun, guys! Oh, and if you weren’t tagged and you want to do it, do it anyway. As long as you leave a link and let me haunt your blog. 😉 Just kidding. But please, leave a link. I love blog tags! (Most of the time.)

 

So, which of your characters might drop everything to be a sheep herder? Which one is most likely to get punched in the face? Let me know which of these questions made you go, “Oh, that sounds like . . .” Let’s chat in the comments!