Friday, April 30, 2021

Antagonist Defined


The dictionary defines Antagonist as a person who actively opposes or is hostile to someone or something, an adversary. Which strongly suggests a need to comprehend the protagonist to spin up the antagonist.

Plenty of people espouse the idea of the antagonist being a mirror to your protagonist. If the protagonist is sitting on the sunny side of the mirror, the antagonist lives and moves in the shadows.

It sets up the story and the conflict so that everything the protagonist must thwart and overcome to accomplish their goal is not just their antagonist, it’s also a part of themselves. This is the old Western movie where what separated the good guys from the bad guys is the thinnest of lines. At the start of the movie, you get the sense that good stiff breeze could blow the good guy over to join the black hat gang.

But let’s return to that definition of antagonist for a moment. Remember how it specifies a person? If you’re of a certain age, you may recall that your high school English classes listed five different types of conflict:

Man vs Man

Man vs Nature

Man vs Society

Man vs Supernatural

Man vs Self

Only one of those five allows for a human antagonist. So more broadly defined, antagonists are obstacles. They can be anything and anyone standing in our way. But, you know, a wall is an obstacle, but I might not call it an antagonist. Sometimes obstacles are only obstacles and they don’t rise to the level of antagonist. I feel like there’s one crucial piece of the puzzle left – change.

Unless you’re writing literary fiction, protagonists need character arcs. They must change and grow in order to finally achieve their goals. Yet who among us likes to have their flaws pointed out to them, much less likes to have to root out and excise those flaws? Most humans only change under duress – when the pain of the flaw is greater than the pain of change.

It is the antagonist’s job to apply that pain. It is the antagonist’s job to force the protagonist to take a long, hard look at themselves and choose. It’s the antagonist’s job to leave the protagonist with no choice but to change.

How do I pick the right antagonist for my stories? It will come as a surprise to no one – I start with character. Usually protagonists. When a story idea rears up from the deep, an antagonist usually lurks in the idea, already. But as I begin sketching out the proof of concept and doing all the pre-writing character work, the protagonists’ arcs, replete with wounds, faulty beliefs, and flaws takes shape. I get a sense of each protagonists’ greatest fears. The antagonist must then embody those fears and force the protags to face and to overcome them.

In that sense, the antagonist is partially a hero of the story. They are the catalyst that forces reaction from the protagonist who would go on taking the path of least resistance forever and accomplishing nothing.

It’s a big relief to read or see a story where the protagonist is bounced off all the other molecules inside a story flask. Especially when the biggest obstacle most of us face is whether to fold the laundry the minute the dryer buzzes or let it sit in there over night moldering.

Thursday, April 29, 2021

No conflict, No story

A white NASA astronaut suit behind glass with a pair of red Beats headphones and an iPhone playing audiobook The Mars Strain sitting on the ledge beside it.

 No conflict, no story.

Which translates to: no antagonist = no conflict = no story. And that’s what we’re talking about this week, the antagonist’s arc! 

My daughter DNFd (did not finish) a book last night. It had been a book she’d excitedly picked up having been sold on the back blurb. When I asked her why the DNF she said ‘because nothing’s happening’. 

As authors, we want to avoid that kiss of death at all costs. So, how do we do it? I don’t know about you, but I can share my process! 

Interestingly, to me anyway, I realized I go about crafting my antagonists two different ways depending on the genre. 


When I write fantasy I start out with my hero and I see them at the climax of the story, the moment they are most fearful and also the moment they rip through whatever’s been holding them back. Now, I don’t always see what exactly they’re up against, but I observe the character’s emotions and what’s going on around them. 

Since I have a pretty good sense of who the hero is and what's at stake for them I know that the villain has to either want the same thing, with their own twist of course, or want an antithesis to the hero's desires. With all that information I can put together the big evil that must be stopped and then figure out how my hero got to that climax point.

Science Fiction

When I write sci-fi I start out with the antagonist, the big evil that must be stopped. Once I know who, or what, my villain is I can craft the type of hero the world needs to stop it. Whoa, that kinda sounds like superhero stuff. But in a way, sci-fi—the kind that threatens the entire world—needs someone larger than life. And I love making taking a person who sees themselves as only successful in their small corner of the world and challenging them so they grow into a superhero. 

It doesn’t matter what genre, we want strong antagonists. And here’s one tip I’ve picked up over the years:

Keep it Simple. 

Your villain doesn’t need a master plan that requires blueprints and a powerpoint. You only need a conflict that smacks your hero in the face. 

When I started writing The Mars Strain it was during the 2015 Ebola outbreak. I was running a laboratory and participating on a multi-healthcare system Emergency Preparedness Board. Every day I was thinking ahead to what we’d need and what we’d do if there was a deadly outbreak that reached across the world to us. From that real life experience I imagined a new organism, and because I write to entertain, not mimic real life, my organism came from Mars. Boom. There was my antagonist with its one goal: proliferate.

How do you create the perfect antagonist? 

Maybe your hero and villain are the same, only one choice veered the antagonist off to another path. Maybe your antagonist has very little page time but you Al Pacino the Devil’s Advocate and nearly convince your hero to make the wrong climatic choice. I’d love to know! 

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

The antagonist as the third-act specialist

When you're writing conflict-driven fiction -- which is most Western fiction, honestly -- choosing an antagonist is pretty important. The actions of the antagonist drive not only the plot but also the necessary arc and change in your protagonist. So that's what we're talking about this week on SFF Seven: picking the antagonist that's going to make things hard for your poor protagonist.

I tend to start thinking about stories by coming up with a push-pull struggle for a character or a relationship, then I populate that struggle with characters who deserve it. (All authors are cruel this way. It's what feeds us.) Somewhere within that early thinking-about-it-ness, an antagonist usually emerges sort of organically. For instance, you know that all good protagonists need to have a GMC (goal, motivation, and conflict), right? The way I keep it straight in my head is the pithy:

What does she want? (goal)

Why does she want it? (motivation)

What's keeping her from getting it? (conflict)

That third thing, the conflicty thing, is the antagonist ... presto! That's how I pick my antagonist.

Note that an antagonist does not have to be a villain. It can be, but it can also be an alien invasion, a volcano explosion, a phobia, a busybody matchmaker, or overdemanding parents who want my girl to be a doctor waaaay too much and won't pay for art school.

If you're thinking in acts, specifically a five-act structure (1. exposition, 2. rising action, 3. climax. 4. falling action or digging deep and overcoming, and 5. denouement), I've heard that Act 3 is All About the Antagonist. Which would make sense, right? Just as the protag hits the brick wall of the climax, that's the perfect time to the antagonist to whip back the curtain, announce its fiendish presence, and make things really super difficult for my girl.

But the dirty secret is that the antagonist has been there all along, cooking up obstacles from the very beginning. The third-act climax is just an opportunity to cue the mustache-twirling and bwahaha.

Okay, I'm not sure if this all answers the "how do I pick an antagonist that will complement my protagonist?" question, but it's the best I can do:

Pick the antagonist that is gonna make things as tough as possible for your longsuffering protagonist, get them working at their nefariousness early and often, and have them really bring the hammer to your excruciating but compelling climax.

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

New Sci-Fi Release: THE MARS STRAIN by A.C. Anderson

It's a happy Tuesday here on the blog as we celebrate Thursday blogger Alexia Chantel's (writing as A.C. Anderson) audiobook debut THE MARS STRAIN! For all our beloved Sci-Fi readers, grab your Audible credit and hie thee to this high-stakes, pulse-pounding adventure.


We’ve colonized Mars, but we never should’ve come back.

When the first astronauts of the Mars Colony returned to Earth, they brought a mysterious, metal box they had found half-buried in the red dirt, called the Mars Cube. The scientists assigned to uncover its secrets tested it, scanned it, tried to blow it up, and everything in between. Then they accidentally opened it.

Biosafety level-4 laboratories, BSL4, hold the most deadly viruses on the Earth, and Juliet handled them daily. Her research at the CDC landed her a position on the Mars Cube Investigative Team in the world’s only BSL-5 lab. The only drawback: Her ex was one of the astronauts that brought back the Cube.

What was held inside the Cube shouldn’t have gotten out. It shouldn’t have ever been exposed to our planet because the Mars Strain is now loose and killing at a 100 percent mortality rate. Juliet is fighting for our very existence, Jake is working with the Mars Colonists to decipher the Cube’s holographic message for a clue, and someone wants to take over the Mars Program for themselves. They’re all watching the clock, and it's about to run out.

Monday, April 26, 2021

A Dark Reflection

  "The Antagonist’s Arc - how do you choose one that will not only compliment your protagonist’s arc but drive it?"

Um. yeah. Let me see if I can bluff my way through this and sound reasonably intelligent. 

In a nutshell, I think every character in a story should have some sort of evolutionary arc. Maybe not on every page, but if a character of any importance to the story doesn't change as a result of the story, I tend to think something has gone wrong. 

Why? Because the stories we want to read, the ones that are interesting, inevitably involve conflict and, hopefully, resolution. There is adversity to overcome, and in the process, there is inevitable change. These aren't Saturday morning cartoons we're talking about. continuity matters.

So let's consider the aspect of the Dark reflection. In a lot of cases, not nearly all of them, but a lot, the antagonist is on a mirror image path to the hero. Here's an example for you. Luke Skywalker and his dad Anakin. Luke longs to go off o n great adventures and to be a hero. He wants too see the stars. His dad did all of that, and in the process was corrupted by the Dark Side Of The Force. He lacked the necessary discipline to use the power he had access to in the right way and he was seduced to a darker path. Te entire arc of the Luke Skywalker story is a reflection foi what his father went through and his father becomes a cautionary tale at the same time that he becomes the number one enemy of his son.  Oh, sure, the Emperor is along for the ride, but he'd not the real adversary here. He is not the foe that Luke has to fight the most often. That would be Anakin, AKA Darth Vader.

Going back to the origin of Darth, the source of so much of his story arc, we can look at Doctor Doom, nemesis of Mister Fantastic. Old Victor von Doom went to school with Reed Richards. Reed warned him about double checking his mathematical equations but Doom was arrogant and felt he could do no wrong When he managed to ign9re Reed's warnings, he blew up a significant part of the school, and was punished with expulsion refusing to believe that he could have made a mistake, he blamed Reed (Mister Cautious/Measure Twice Cut Once) for 8s troubles and went down a twisted path that led to elf mutilation and a serious case of the I'll Make Him Pays.

Both were students t the same college, both were geniuses,, but one of them was arrogant to a fault. hr is a dark Reflection of Reed Richards, and he is the number one bad guy that the Fantastic Four have to deal with. 

What is 8the point? These characters hold up ma c3rtainj ark light that the heroes 9use to examine themselves and they offer up a cautionary note that can not be ignored. They are the heroes, but they are the heroes twisted by fatal flaws that our heroes must do their best to avoid.

that's sort of an over-sim0lifiction, but the fact remains that some of the best villains are on the same path as our heroes. They are merely often following a different course to the same path. 

the antagonist should often compliment the protagonist by being driven by the same angels and demons, and sometimes they have to be the example the hero chooses not to follow. 

As always, your mileage may vary.

Sunday, April 25, 2021

When Your Antagonist Is the Whole World

Our topic at the  SFF Seven this week reminds me of an AP English essay question. The question is: "The Antagonist’s Arc - how do you choose one that will not only compliment your protagonist’s arc but drive it?"

Okay, you guys know me. Or you SHOULD by now! As soon as we get to the "how do you choose" part of the question, you've lost me. I mentioned (briefly, as a drive-by remark) that Meyers-Briggs puts me pretty squarely and consistently in the INTJ category. I think, I judge, I am an introvert, and - that capital N? - that correctly identifies me as an intuitive.

People, I am an intuitive writer. I don't know what to tell you. GMC (Goal-Motivation-Conflict)? I have no idea. Character analysis? Not gonna happen. Picking out a plot ahead of time? Don't make me laugh!

How do I find out what the antagonist's arc is? I watch them when they appear on the page and follow along. Because I'm not much of a believer in black and white lines, my antagonists tend to change over time, better or worse, depending on how their lives are going. 

Now, I can tell you of something I did work up deliberately with a fair amount of mulling on top of the intuition. In DARK WIZARD, book #1 in my new Bonds of Magic dark fantasy romance series, the antagonist is not a person. Yes, there are characters making the lives of my protagonists very difficult, which will wax and wane, as is my wont. But the real antagonist of the story is the world itself.

Or, more precisely, it's a repressive political and social system. All the characters are caught up in this rigid and ancient system. Some benefit from it. Some are crushed by it. Only a very few live outside of it, and even they are impacted by its far-reaching effects. As the series progresses, everyone in this world will be affected by what happens when a few people take on the gargantuan task of changing the world they live in. 

Saturday, April 24, 2021

Your Writing Personality: Blessing, Curse, or Both?

Happy Saturday, all! This week's topic on the SFF Seven Blog is how our Meyer's-Briggs assessment affects our writing, and I'm about to get real. You may not know this, but taking a close look at your personality assessment can point out behavioral issues that could be stifling your writing life. It isn't easy to face truths like this sometimes, but it can help so much when it comes to truly tackling change.

I'm an INFJ, a slightly introverted Advocate with mega intuition who listens to her silly, giant heart. Which is no surprise. Leave it me to spend most of my time cheerleading and helping others rather than focusing on my own work. I battle this constantly; it's just how I'm designed. It's the curse part of my personality.

It wasn't until a couple years ago that I began actively trying to pull the brakes on some of my extracurricular writing and editing activities and instead, turn some of that attention inward. I remember thinking--STOP TRYING TO MAKE EVERYONE ELSE SUCCESSFUL. HELP YOURSELF.

I can't say that I've done the best job at this. I'm still an editor, a job I love. Saying no to people who are Oh, so close isn't in my DNA. Literally. I have to MAKE myself send query rejections (but I can because I have to, just FYI 😉). It's built into every cell that I have to help others though, above helping myself, which is not a great trait. This behavior tendency has led to a long career of seeing other people reach dreams that I've yet to attain. I've worked with people who didn't even know what genre they were writing, and then, a few years later, watched them go on to major traditional book deals, much to my delight. I love seeing people succeed. I will never be the jealous gal in the back corner. I'll be the one screaming and cheering and beaming with pride and happiness at the foot of the stage. 

But, there came a point where I realized that I'm not just an editor, mentor, critique partner, teacher, or cheerleader. I'm a writer, first and foremost. With my personality type, I've had to face more than a few hard truths. Not only the advocate issue, which is still significant, but the idealist side of me also happened to be a weakness. I sought perfection in my own writing, my standards so high I could never be good enough. I've also always had really difficult, high-concept ideas that are doubly hard to manifest under the pressure of my self-imposed impossible standards. AND, on top of that, I struggled to feel okay with starting out anywhere than the top.

And that's ridiculous. (Thankfully, I know this now.)

Another issue I faced was that until just a few years ago, I had no idea how badly I needed organization and lists to sharpen my focus and keep me on track with my writing goals. It was like I knew I needed a plan, but knowing what manner of planning would work for me? I had no clue. Thankfully, this particular battle has been won. Now, I use a KanBan board, quarterly goals, and daily lists to get things done.

It's still a struggle, though. On top of all the above, I'm a hard worker, which means I can put in some serious hours for other people, forgetting that I need to do the same for myself. Prioritizing my own work is still hard for me. I'm that person who has to clean the whole house before they can sit down to write. If I'm not careful, my writing tasks can easily fall to the bottom of my lists. This is something I'm learning to overcome with each passing day. Psychology was my minor in college. I believe in behavior modification, y'all, but it's not easy! 🤣

There are advantages to being an INFJ Advocate, too. The blessing part. For example, INFJs tend to have vivid imaginations and loads of compassion. I'm a bit of an empath as well, so I understand emotion. One of my best talents in writing is getting to the heart of the matter, digging down to the often missing emotional layer in a story. I'm insightful and able to read motivation, feelings, and needs, and my intuition about people, if I'm able to meet someone face to face especially, is often scary accurate. This helps so much when designing characters. I can figure out what makes them tick and translate that to the page. 

Still, I'm a work in progress. But, the work is being done, and partly because I understand my strengths, weaknesses, and tendencies. Did I also mention that I'm abnormally persistent? I will get where I'm going, even if my journey takes a little more effort.

How about you? Have you examined your personality type and how it might be affecting your writing life? Is it more of a blessing or a curse? 

Thanks for reading! Do you follow me on social media? I mostly hang out on Instagram. Find me there and say hi!

~ Charissa

Friday, April 23, 2021

Myers-Briggs versus Stories

The Myers-Briggs Personality Types get used a lot in the corporate world in the US. If you ever worked for a large corporate enterprise, chances are good you've taken a version of this test. It's where I ran into it the first time many long years ago. It's interesting, but I find it lacking. I prefer the Gallup Clifton Strengths personality information.

It's strictly because the Myers-Briggs is so malleable. Depending on your mood, you can totally change your four letter descriptor. I'm INFP. The dreamy one. Until, as KAK said, I'm not. Turns out, the middle two letters are pretty interchangeable for me. Digging into further, more detailed testing, I straddle the line between INTP, ISTP, or ISFP. I test out 50% between N and S, between T and F. Finding that out explained a lot about me to me. Hooray, right? What does it mean in regard to writing? 

It means that I have a lot more personality quirks to feed before I can toddle off and produce work. I can't just be the dreamy Introverted, intuitive, feeling, perceiving personality and emotional type I default to.  I have to keep an eye out for that Sensing and Thinking part of my spectrum, too, especially thinking. If you get into the Clifton Strengths testing, you'll find your personality broken into 34 specific traits that are stack ranked. Your top 5 are your home base. Your top 10  are the neighborhood where you're comfortable walking after dark. Part of my top 5 are learner and input  - both big thinking traits. The point to this is to learn how to play to your strengths while writing. While you're working on books and producing content.

The profit of personality tests in corporate America was to help us deal with our coworkers who might operate from a different set of personality letters than we do. Theory held that once we understood that, we'd have better interaction and rapport. As if a personality test could change the fact that Al from marketing is a jerk. 

In writing, I suspect the personality types give each of us particular strengths. Because I'm INFP, I want my characters to speak to me. I want scenes to just come to me (and they usually do). I don't want to have to work too hard at writing which sounds utterly inane, but my particular strength is synthesizing at the threshold of consciousness and trusting that whatever is brewing back there will rise from the deep haunted water of my psyche. Some people have to consciously work through a story and there are times I do as well, but mostly, stories come to my head fully formed. (Except this past year where pretty much nothing has entered my head because health anxiety especially for my father.)

The biggest personality trait that affects my writing is the fact that I'm an all or nothing person. That means I'm all in or I'm all the way out. There' not in between. If I'm going to write a book, there's the door. Hush up. Don't say goodbye, just go. The sooner the better. Then I'll spend the next 72 hours doing nothing by writing and drowning in story. And making tea. INFP means I need to understand a scene emotionally. Until I do, I cannot write it.

Normally, I don't even think about personality types. I don't type my character personalities. I think more in terms of strengths and wounds and build my story arcs around that. 

I'm interested in knowing if you know which combo of letters you are and where you did your first test.

Thursday, April 22, 2021

THE MARS STRAIN Cover Reveal and the topic of the week: Writing with Your Personality Type


THE MARS STRAIN audiobook cover framed in red with Recorded Books typed in white along the top. A red planet in the background surrounded by viruses behind: A.C. Anderson THE MARS STRAIN Narrated by Morgan Hallett

A brief pause on the blog topic to officially share with you the audiobook cover for THE MARS STRAIN which will 

release next Tuesday, April 27th!!! 

Back to the topic at hand. It appears most writers fall into the INTJ category in the Myers-Briggs personality typing system, including our own Jeffe. Introverts prefer spending time in their own heads, which can lead to writing. 

In the 1920’s Jung separated people into introverts and extraverts and he also split the cognitive process into two types, perception (sensation and intuition) and judgment (thinking and feeling), making eight different categories. The key here is no one will be fully in one category all the time, but you will default to your primary type. 

I’m very curious—what type are you? And are you a writer?


No matter the phase of life or how many times I take the personality quiz I end up as ISFJ-Assertive. The assertive part comes as no surprise, especially to those who know me, because I am confident in my abilities and decisions. I loved managing a laboratory and cancer clinic.  And that career path makes so much sense because my personality type is Defender in the Sentinel category.

Sentinels view productivity as a superpower and plan for everything. We seek order, stability, and security and are comfortable with who we are. Sentinels prefer to work on one project until completion, no hopping from thing to thing for us. And we find inspiration from the past rather than the future. 

If you’re curious about the four types of personalities, or want to take a Myers-Briggs quiz for yourself, 

16Personalities is a fun website to check out. 

Why are we talking about this on our blog this week? Well, understanding yourself and how your brain works is a fantastic tool. I won’t tack on for writing because knowing how you work best will benefit you in everything. But alright, I’ll narrow this down to crafting books and how perception and judging impact the act. 

For me, my perception is Introverted Sensing (Si) and when I’m drafting a new book I’m looking back to what I’ve experienced before and drawing on those reactions and feelings for my characters. I work on gathering information—the time suck known as researching

If you’re like most writers, Introverted iNtuiting (Ni), you’re more likely to find your thrill in the conceptualization—dreaming up your characters and world building—and have a hard time moving on from that stage. 

If you know where your strengths are, then you know where your weaknesses are. Don’t get trapped in your own mind! Example, if you’re stuck in the researching/conceptualization phase how do you move onto the Extraverted Thinking phase where your story becomes organized (yes, necessary even if you’re not a plotter) and forms a beginning, middle, and end. 

For all of us introverts trying to write, what can we do? Don’t get trapped in your own mind. Yes, easy to type out, difficult to actually do and so here are some suggestions that I’m working on:

How to work those Extroverted Thinking muscles

1: Allow yourself time in your strength. My favorite part of the writing process is outlining and researching and I have my best writing days when I start my time reviewing my detailed outline or deep chapter outlines before diving into the actually act of pulling words from the air. 

DANGER: I can’t let myself spend all day there, or my word count will be a big fat zero

Go ahead and let yourself swim in your comfortable waters to warm up for the day, then dive into whatever deeper pool you’re aiming for. 

2: Swallow that fear. I expect you’ve had days like me where you can’t believe you’re trying to write and everything is garbage. The reality, and I can’t thank my CPs (critique partners—particularly Charissa Weaks who has been a god send) enough, is that my writing works, but I’m afraid to put it out there. Even when I’m not close to sending something out or having a book release my mind knows that the end game of all that typing is people reading my words. 

You can let the fear rule the day, or you can face it and tell yourself it’s worth the risk. Of course nothing’s ever obsolete, and there are times fear is really your gut telling you something’s wrong with the story.

3: Set Goals. Hopefully this is an easy one, but here’s a twist to it—make one accessible goal for each day. Finish the book is an excellent goal, but daunting when that’s what’s staring you in the face each morning and you’re on chapter 2. 

Break it down. Yes this is structure, but even abstract thinkers need some structure in order to put together a story, otherwise people won’t understand it. 

4: Trust your gut to guide you. I’ve got that F in my personality type and I know I rely on feeling, but I’m also a laboratorian and trained myself to view with an analytical eye. So I have experienced conflicts trusting my gut when I’m stuck wearing my lab coat. Some instances scream for me to take off the jacket and let the wind guide me. 

When writing THE MARS STRAIN I knew the timeline of both my story and the infection process, it was science. But I was stuck in the middle of the book, I knew it wasn’t working, but I forced myself to keep writing to the timeline. Once I let go and followed my gut I backed up and rewrote a few chapters with more of a character focus. Le voilà!

5: After your gut has you on the right track, time for Extroverted Thinking (Te). Break down the problem. Don’t try to tackle everything at once or you’ll overload your brain. The Te phase is the big red button, the ignitor. Once you hit it everything’s a go and you leave behind the feeling, sensing, and intuiting. I wasn’t able to look at my entire manuscript and see all the twists and tweaks that needed to be done. I started with my main character and worked from there. 

If you’re a storyteller you like living in your own head and no matter what cognitive functions you excel at, I hope some of this helps you defeat procrastination.

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

ISNTFJ: Myers-Briggs & My Writing

Myers-Briggs Personality Typing System (MBPTS) personalities in relation to writing. Of the four primary cognitive functions, which one are you and how does it affect your writing? Intuition, Sensing, Thinking, and Feeling.

Here's the thing about my Myers-Briggs test results, and I doubt I'm alone in this: they're different each time I take the test. The only category I'm consistent in scoring is Introverted (rather than Extroverted). When I've taken the test as a corporate wonk, I've scored as an INTJ. When I've taken the test as a creative, ISFP. Those procrastination-enhancing online quizzes when I ought to be writing instead? Taken five minutes apart? Random combos. Really, it's all about what skills are needed in the circumstance. So, how does that affect my writing? 

Introverted vs Extroverted: Simply put, being around people zaps my energy. Unlike an extrovert who is energized by being around people, being in public is a performance for me. It requires me to maintain a heightened level of outward awareness and atypical (for me) behaviors, which exacerbates my overstimulated flight response that is caused by my general anxiety. I am always looking for the exit. Whether I am running for said exit depends on how quickly I can complete the task that's demanded my public appearance. Completing the task dictates the rest of my MBPTS score. 

When it comes to character dev, writing extroverts as the protag is a fun exercise and a good reminder of why I don't do it IRL. Yes, I, sitting alone in my recliner, can feel exhausted on behalf of my character enthusiastically peopling with people. It's a classic case of, "What would I, KAK, do? The character should do the opposite of that."

Sensing vs iNtution: The "how do we gather information" category. Reality versus Imagination. Concrete vs Abstract. Hands-on Experience vs Contemplating Patterns. Scoring on this is mostly about whether I'm collaborating or working independently and what the project goal is. I learn best by doing, no doubt about it. But I am a product of public school indoctrination and higher education in the humanities, so decerning patterns and extrapolating on others' experiences is something at which I'm adept as well. 

How this plays out in my books is reflected in the story's plot. How do my characters go about gathering the information they need to progress to the next step in the journey? Protags tend to be Sensing because showing the character's experience and methods of discovery is important to character-driven plots. AKA action chapters = Sensing. Reality is happening. Introspection scenes are important to reiterate the protag connecting the dots of the plot's progression, plus the downbeat is just as necessary to pacing as the high-intensity action scenes. However, too much navel-gazing drags down the story. For my books, Intuition-driven characters usually are those who fill the mentor role in the larger cast.

Thinking vs Feeling: How I make decisions, facts vs gut reaction. In this category, I'm usually within 4 points of the other. About as close to "equal" as the test gets. Really, it comes down to the goal and what consequences of the decision will be. What is the margin for risk? Big stakes? I'm all about facts and experience. If the cost of a screw-up is going to notably impact the well-being of myself or others, then gimme facts. Unknown territory, unreliable sources, or conflicting "facts"? Medium-low impact? Ability to correct if the wrong decision is made? Sure, I'm all about the luxury of decision-making based on the feels. 

However, as an Army Brat, MAKE A COMMAND DECISION is deeply ingrained. Dear Readers, there is nothing that will send me around the bend faster than someone who won't make a decision when they are the ones with the responsibility to do so. I will either steamroll over the indecisive person or I will walk away. Pee or get off the godsdamned pot. Nope, not even remotely sorry. Need time to make a decision? Fine. Say so and stick to it. I'll respect your position as the decision-maker if you respect my time. 

When it comes to writing, this category is where the analytical side of being an author meets the creative side. Determining how I market my books and evaluate ROI, that's all Thinking. Deciding when my characters are decision-makers versus decision-receivers is heavy on Feeling.  

Judging vs Perceiving: When engaging with the outside world (aka society), do I prefer structure and organization (Judging), or am I most comfortable in fluid spontaneous situations (Perceiving)? Now, I'm not the greatest fan of the term "Judging" here because it implies "Judgemental." Contrasting that with "Perceiving" implies Judging is narrow-minded, blind to the outliers, and will side with authority over morality. Meanwhile, "perceiving" implies wide-eyed wonder and naivety. Words matter, and in the case of MBPTS, the naming convention is an epic fail. 

That said, I'm predominantly Judging because I prefer to know the expectation, the process, and the measure of success so I can complete the task and retreat into my hermitage. I am a creature of habit. I like having a plan. cough Spontaneity is fine, as long as it's scheduled. cough It goes back to managing my anxiety, if I know what to expect and what is expected of me, then I'm much more likely to not only be successful, but I also will avoid a full-blown panic attack. 

How Judging versus Perceiving shows up in my writing is that I am a skeletal plotter. I define the structure and organize the major events before I start the book. My penchant for perceiving is reflected in all that isn't defined in the outline. I do like surprises. I do like discovery. I do like an unexpected twist. To me, that's good entertainment. In fiction. Fiction. 

Do not, under any circumstance, show up at my home unexpectedly. That shit's not funny. 

Monday, April 19, 2021





“I thought I was ready for The Sorceress Queen and The Pirate Rogue but I clearly wasn’t. I eagerly anticipated it but I was in no way shape or form ready for how this book arrested me and held me captive for the duration. I loved Stella and Jak’s even though my heart took up residence in my throat for its entirety. There’s action, adventure, sexual tension, love and so much more. I loved it and can’t wait to be wrecked by the next book in the series.” ~ Timitra on Goodreads


A Lonely Road

Stella has always been one to count her blessings. Empath, sorceress, shapeshifter, and healer, she’s grateful for the gifts the goddess of shadows has bestowed upon her. Yes, she’s sensitive to emotions and can’t bear to be in large crowds for long. And yes, that means she’ll never be able to take a lover as she’s unable to withstand physical contact with anyone but her twin brother. Certainly now that he’s found his true love, she feels more alone than ever. None of it haunts her, however, like the vision of the lonely tower where her life path ends.

An Unrequited Love

Jakral Konyngrr is a man of simple tastes: good whiskey, some coin in his pocket, and a fine blade in his hand. Though he’s no prince, not a shapeshifter, and not blessed with any magic, he’s happy in his skin. And yet he seems doomed to live the life of a hero from a tragic ballad, because the only woman he’s ever wanted barely knows he’s alive. As much as Jak longs for Stella, he’s resigned himself to being forever in the background. At least he can guard her back.

A Quest to Stop a Monster

But now Jak and Stella have been thrown together—along with a mismatched group of shifters, warriors, and sorceress friends—chasing and attempting to avert magic rifts that release monsters into their world. Worse, the strange intelligence behind the bizarre and deadly attacks seems to have developed a fascination for Stella. Battling for their lives and the good of the realm, they must fight—and perhaps love—together to alter the course of the future before it’s too late.


Incidentally, our topic this week is: INTJ (Myers-Briggs personality typing system) personalities in relation to writing. Of the four primary cognitive functions, which one are you and how does it affect your writing? Intuition, Sensing, Thinking, and Feeling.

For the record, I am INTJ. I think a lot of writers are. *Mastermind fistbump*

Did I mention it's release day?? Even an INTJ gets a little giddy!