Saturday, December 24, 2011

What If... Santa Could Bring You Anything?

In many parts of the world, today is considered Christmas Eve – the time when countless children eagerly await the arrival of Santa Claus, that jolly, superhuman giver of gifts. Prior to Christmas morning, most of these very same children have written (and, in some cases, sent to the North Pole) lengthy wish lists, filled with all the toys, games, and other pleasures that they're hoping Santa will leave for them.

Of course, no matter what you might believe or which holidays you celebrate in your own world, it's undoubtedly tempting to think that a mythical creature might grant your fondest wish.

So, authors and characters, I ask you:

What if Santa – or his gift-giving equivalent – could bring you anything you desire? What would it be?

And, for those who celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Festivus, and/or New Year's Day, I hope you have a wonderful holiday season! See you in 2012!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Getting to Know You: Sanctuary

No matter where we live, what we do, and who we love, we all experience sadness, frustration, and stress from time to time.

When such trying times occur in your life, how do you escape for a while? Do you have a private sanctuary? A hidden beach, an underground cave, a room all your own, or something else altogether? And if not, where would you escape if you could?

As always, this question is for authors and characters alike!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Your World: Monsters

In southern Louisiana – where some of my characters have lived – there are plenty of dangerous creatures in the wild, including stealthy, easily camouflaged ones like the alligator pictured here. Of course, every place has its share of so-called “monsters” – from untamed animals to mythological beasts – which makes me wonder...

What sort of monsters inhabit your world, and what do you do to protect yourself from them?

As always, this question is for authors and characters alike!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Getting to Know You: Birthdays

Yesterday was my birthday, and as is often the case, it was pretty quiet and uneventful. Just lunch with my dad, dinner at home with the hubby, a little live music at my favorite bar, and a couple of late-night movies. Of course, there are plenty of ways to celebrate a birthday – from crazy nights on the town to intimate gatherings with friends.

So, authors and characters, I was just wondering...

How do you normally celebrate your birthday? Quietly, with a big bang, or not at all?

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Getting to Know You: Education

Recently, while rereading Washington Irving's famous short story “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” I paused at the author's description of the one-room schoolhouse where the ill-fated Ichabod Crane once taught. As I imagined such a setting, I began to reflect on the concept of education – how it's changed over the years, how it's different from place to place, and how it doesn't always involve traditional schooling.

So, authors and characters, I was just wondering...

What was your education like? Did you attend official schools and universities? Did your family or clan teach you everything you know? Are you a self-taught individual? Or did your education come in some other way?

Inquiring minds want to know!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Your World: Honoring Military Veterans

On Friday, Americans celebrated Veterans Day – a national holiday established to honor the country's military veterans – with parades, ceremonies, and, in many cases, a day off from school and work. Known as Armistice Day or Remembrance Day in other parts of the world, the holiday is meant to thank those who have sacrificed their time, energy, blood, and limbs to protect their fellow countrymen and countrywomen.

Reflecting on the military veterans that I've known during my lifetime made me wonder how my fellow authors and their characters honor the military veterans in their own lives.

So, how are military veterans honored in your world? Or do soldiers and wars not exist where you live?

As always, everyone is welcome to answer...

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Your World: Transportation

In the Crescent City – where I (and some of my characters) have lived from time to time – there are several reliable forms of transportation, including bicycles, buses, taxicabs, and, of course, streetcars. Nearly getting run down by one of these historic trolleys yesterday made me wonder about other forms of transportation around the world – and throughout the universe. So, I thought I'd pose the following question to my fellow authors and their characters...

What kinds of transportation do you utilize most often? Horses, trucks, spaceships, or something else altogether?

Curious minds want to know!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

What's Happening Here?

 A very strange wave is breaking on this beach. What caused this backward curl? Magic. An earthquake. The magnetic field of a low-flying spaceship... What's happening here?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Getting to Know You: LOVE

Who is the love of your life? Are you with them? Are you married or just "together"?

Why do you love them? What are their qualities that speak to you? Are you from the same place, the same background, or very different? (Are you the same species?) How does that affect your relationship?

And...what drives you mad about them? (C'mon, everyone we love drives us mad just a little bit!)

Who do you love and why?

Monday, October 17, 2011

Getting to Know You: Exercise

More than two years ago, we had a lively discussion about sports and fitness – and now that it's football season in America, it seems about time to revisit the matter of exercise.

So, how about it, authors and characters? How do you prefer to burn calories? Do you enjoy long hikes, a rigorous swim, a soccer match with friends, or something a bit more meditative, like yoga?

Conversely, do you avoid exercise every chance you get? For instance, if you have the choice between an elevator and a staircase, which would you normally choose? Be honest!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

What If... You Had an Endless Supply of Your Favorite Food?

My husband and I are self-proclaimed foodies – fond of a wide assortment of vittles and always willing to try something new. From sushi to nuts to barbecue chicken to fruits of every variety, there's almost nothing we won't taste at least once. Needless to say, then, it's hard to pick a favorite, but what if you had to?

What if you were granted an endless supply of your favorite food – and calories weren't an issue? If so, what would it be and why?

All authors and characters are welcome to answer this yummy question!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Social Weekend: Desert Vacation

Forget floods and rain, we're taking a trip to the desert! Grab your camel for a trip to Egypt.

What secrets and mysteries do you want to discover?

Tombs? Pyramids? Ghosts of slaves and Pharoahs?  Perhaps a magical scarab or an ancient curse.

Maybe you are moved by the beauty and power of man's eternal struggle to survive and leave something behind.

Or are you content just exploring our giant luxury hotel, with its spa, elegant restaurant, swim-up bar, nightclub and belly-dancing entertainers?

Saturday, October 1, 2011

What If... You Had the Choice to Fight or Walk Away?

Recently, I've been thinking a lot about courage and conviction. Specifically, I've wondered why it is that some people never back down from a fight, while others find every way to avoid a confrontation. And then there are those who believe in picking their battles – resolved to fight only when the cause or outcome really matters to them.

All this thinking has inspired me to ask...

What if someone urged you to fight for your principles, your loved ones, or your very life? Would you face such tyranny with conviction or simply walk away? Or would the battle itself determine your decision?

All authors and characters are free to answer!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Do You See What I See?

What is happening in this photo? Who is this man? How did that giant boulder get there?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Getting to know you: What were you like as a baby?

We all had to start out somewhere. So how did you start? What were you like as a baby? What were your likes and dislikes? Where did you live? Did you have pets? A favorite toy? A blankie?

What was your earliest memory?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Describe This: First thing in the morning

It's the first thing in the morning. You open your eyes and what do you see? Where are you? What does it smell like? What were you doing the night before? What do you eat for breakfast, or are you just getting home from a night of work?

Describe it for us.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Getting to Know You: Family

Today we're talking about our families. What kind of family do you have? Who are you closest to? Who drives you crazy?

Tell us how well you get along with your kin.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Do you see what I see?

What kind of plant is this? Is it dangerous or not? Discuss.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Your World: Natural Disasters

Last week, my home town experienced an earthquake, a hurricane, a tornado and a flood.  Which gets me to thinking not just about whether or not I should really start keeping more emergency stores in my basement and possibly buy a generator, but what about YOUR home towns or home bases? What types of disasters are you susceptible to? How would you prepare for one?

If one did hit, what you you do, characters? Would you hunker down with your families, rescue others or do a little creative looting?

Friday, August 26, 2011

First Line Challenge with a Twist

In times past, we used the “First Line Challenge” to jump-start our creativity. Normally, a moderator would post the first sentence or passage of a famous novel and then ask each of us to create a paragraph that was totally unique, hoping to generate several different perspectives from one beginning.

Although some writers enjoyed the exercise, it wasn't a terribly popular venture, so I thought that perhaps we could try something a little different – hence, the so-called “First Line Challenge with a Twist.” What I propose is that we use the initial sentence of a famous novel to spark a group story instead of just a series of flash-fiction paragraphs.

So, let's see how far – and how crazy – we can take it! To get this party rolling, I'm offering this relatively famous first line as the start of our story:

When Mr. Hiram B. Otis, the American Minister, bought Canterville Chase, every one told him he was doing a very foolish thing, as there was no doubt at all that the place was haunted...

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Enemies Among Us

It's said a story is only as good as its antagonist. Okay, I say it, but I have no idea if anyone else has.

At any rate, we're talking baddies today at CIC. Describe yours, characters. What's their history, their story? Ruminate on why they are the way they are. What have they done to you lately? Why do they hate you so much? And, most importantly, do they have any redeeming qualities you can exploit?

What are you going to do about defeating your enemy?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Getting to Know You: The Name Game

Whether you're a human, a pet, a supernatural being, or something else altogether, your name is an important part of your identity – so much so that parents and authors alike often fret for a long time over such decisions.

If you're lucky, you may like the name you've been given. If not, perhaps you've considered changing it. Perhaps you already have changed it.

If offered a choice, what name would you give yourself, and why?

All authors and characters are free to answer – and remember, the sky's the limit!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

What If... You Had Only One Month to Live?

Last month, we chatted about what we'd do if we had all the time in the world. Well, what if the opposite were true?

What if you were suddenly told – by a doctor, a soothsayer, or some other allegedly reliable source – that you only had one month left to live?

What would you do with such limited time? Write your memoirs? Travel the world? Stuff yourself with yummy treats? Look for love in all the wrong places? Simply hang out with your family and friends? What?

All authors and characters – even those who are technically immortal – are free to answer!

Friday, August 5, 2011

What If... You Suddenly Found a Baby on Your Doorstep?

Inspired by our last conversation – well, actually, Aidan's comments about being a father – I've begun to wonder about babies... and how the authors and characters who gather here would handle being surprise parents. In other words...

What if you suddenly found a baby on your doorstep? Would you drop him/her off at the nearest orphanage? Or would you raise the little tyke as your very own?

All authors and characters – even those who are already parents – are free to answer!

Monday, July 25, 2011

What If... You Had All the Time in the World?

I can't believe it's been two weeks since our last conversation. But, then again, as the only active site moderator, I must admit that it's not always easy keeping up with my commitment to Come In Character. Unfortunately, as much as I love escaping into my fictional worlds, travel guide deadlines must come first. Of course, I'm sure that other authors (as well as their characters) understand the bothersome necessity of priorities – icky as they may be.

Still, CIC is never far from my mind – as are the works-in-progress that are currently gathering dust on my office floor. Like many of us, I wish that I had more time in the day to accomplish everything on my ever-growing to-do list, but alas, time is finite... or is it?

After all, so much concern over priorities has led me to wonder:

What if time wasn't an issue? What if you, in fact, were immortal and had all the time in the world? What would you do with it?

All authors and characters – including the immortal ones – are free to answer!

Monday, July 11, 2011

What If... You Forgot Who You Were?

Whether you're a kayaking instructor, a famous chef, a creature of the night, or something else altogether, your memories are as critical as your genes in making you the person – or entity – that you are today. Consequently, it would be awful if you were suddenly struck with amnesia – and couldn't remember any of the experiences, people, and beasts that have helped to shape you.

So, authors and characters, I ask you:

What if you suffered a sudden case of amnesia? Would you try to figure out who you were, or would you use the opportunity to refashion your life?

Thursday, July 7, 2011

What's Happening Now?

Late October was the last time that we had a character update, and I'm sure a lot has happened since then. So, hopefully, you'll welcome another round of “What's Happening Now?” – a chance for characters to reveal their current, or at least most recent, whereabouts. In this way, authors can share what's happening within their stories by speaking through their characters' unique voices.

So, let's hear it, ladies, gents, and creatures! What have you done over the past eight months or so? Fought any ruthless tyrants? Stumbled upon any hidden treasures? Found yourself amid any breathtaking, hard-to-forget landscapes?

Feel free to spill any and all of your latest adventures, and hopefully, by revealing where you are in your story, you'll help inspire your authors to keep moving forward with theirs.

Remember, this is for characters only!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

What If... You Could Live Anywhere?

It's been well over a month since we played the “What If?” game, so perhaps it's time for another round.

Well, then, let's get to it. Authors and characters, I ask you:

What if you could live anywhere – any landmark, any landscape, any town, any country, any planet, any galaxy? Where would it be, and why?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Your World: Seasonal Phases

In Earth's northern hemisphere, today marks the summer solstice – the official start of summer and the longest day of the year. Of course, that doesn't mean that every place experiences the exact same climate. Consider the difference between Alaska and Louisiana. The sun is “up” a lot longer in a place like Anchorage, but the weather is much hotter in New Orleans.

That got me wondering about other countries – and other worlds. Authors and characters, do your homes have distinct seasons? If so, what are they like – and do you celebrate the start of each?

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Group Story: Railway Murder Mystery

Recently, after reading Nathan Bransford's blog post about character names, author David Jace suggested a scenario whereby each of our characters would board a train under a fake name. His suggestion inspired me to post the start of a group story – something we haven't done on Come In Character in a while.

Specifically, I thought it might be fun to explore a murder mystery aboard a train – one in which our characters would pretend to be other people and creatures. So, here goes (and, please, forgive the purple prose – it's late where I am, and my brain isn't functioning as well as it could be):

As the train rumbled past endless fields of undulating wheat, touched by the golden rays of the setting sun, Juliet Raven stared through a window of the nearly filled dining car, gazing at the scenery and sipping a much-needed amaretto sour. While she mused about the various young men she'd noticed on board and wished she weren't currently alone at her table for two, a piercing scream permeated the lively din, and all voices fell silent...

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Getting to Know You: Memorial Customs

In the United States of America – a country with which some characters might be familiar – Monday was Memorial Day, a federal holiday established to commemorate our nation's fallen soldiers. In honor of this annual day of respect, communities throughout the country hosted well-attended ceremonies, while many Americans celebrated with barbecues, picnics, and other outdoor gatherings.

The holiday made me wonder how other cultures mourn and celebrate their deceased soldiers and warriors. So, authors and characters, I ask you:

How do you honor the men, women, and creatures that have died while serving in your homeland's armed forces? With plaques, parades, songs, dances, or something else altogether?

Do tell!

Friday, May 20, 2011

The End of the World?

According to one self-proclaimed prophet, the world will end tomorrow at 6 p.m. local time, sweeping the globe hour by hour. So that means that if he's right, we all have about 22 hours left to live.

Hmmm. What would you do if you had only one day left to live? Good deeds? Wild partying? Scramble to finish your manuscript?

Authors and characters, tell us what you'd do with your last day on earth... or wherever you are.

Monday, May 16, 2011

What If... You Were Stranded on a Remote Island?

It's been about a month since we played the “What If?” game, so I figured it was about time for another round.

So, authors and characters, I ask you:

What if you were stranded on a remote island and could only bring three objects with you? What would they be, and why?

Saturday, May 7, 2011

A Forum Game: Have You Ever?

Hi, everyone! Today we are going to play a question game called "Have You Ever?" It works like this: I'll ask a question, and the next person has to respond to it and ask a new question.  Here we go:

Have you ever swum in the ocean?

Thursday, April 28, 2011

A Forum Game: Stuck in an Elevator

You're stuck. You innocently went into this elevator:

And suddenly, the elevator jerked to a stop.
The buttons don't work.
There is no phone.
Uh oh.
How do you get out????
Tell us all about it. We'd like to know, since we're stuck in there, too, and haven't got a freakin' clue!!
How to get out of this elevator???

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Your World: Unusual Creatures

You may have heard of the Easter Bunny, a magical rabbit who lays colored eggs and hides them for children to find.

Have you heard of this Bunny?  What about other unusual creatures in your world?  Tell us about them!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Getting to Know You: Rest and Relaxation

Since things have been pretty stressful around here lately, why don't we focus on some R&R for a change?  When you need to refresh your mind and body, where do you go?  What do you do?

Is your current method of "getting away from it all" effective, or do you wish you had the means to try something different, like a spa weekend or a spiritual retreat of some kind?

Writers and characters can answer this question, so come on everyone - tell us what you do when you need a little rejuvenation!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

What if... You Could Have a Secret Identity?

We hear a lot about identity theft these days... someone stealing someone else's identity. But what if you could create your own identity and just use it when you needed or wanted to be someone else?

What kind of person would that be, and with what special qualities?  Who would you secretly like to be? And what would you do - for good or ill - while in your identity?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Do You See What I See?

What is this? What is its purpose? Who uses it? Discuss.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Getting to Know You: Musical Talents

This weekend, my home – the French Quarter of New Orleans – was inundated with music lovers from far and wide. Residents and tourists alike had come for the 28th annual French Quarter Festival – one of the largest free music festivals in the American South. Featuring hundreds of musical performances – from solo guitarists to lively zydeco bands – the festival was, as usual, a huge success, filling the streets of my beloved neighborhood with song and merriment.

All that revelry made me wish that I were a little better at playing my own guitar – and also made me wonder about the musical talents of the authors and characters that visit CIC. Though I'm aware of some – like Abigail and her flute, Marcus and his voice (despite his relatives' constant ragging) – I'm curious about other musical abilities, obvious or otherwise.

So, authors and characters, I ask you:

Do you have any musical talents? If so, what are they? And if not, what instruments would you most like to learn?

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Getting to Know You: Duty

Lately, you might have noticed that two of our authors – Betsy and Christine – have been participating in a series of experimental “story threads” on Come In Character. Such ongoing sagas have allowed them to merge their fictional worlds and simultaneously explore their (very different) characters – which may even give them fodder for their actual novels. Frankly, I've found such brainstorming sessions to be quite inspiring – if not a bit time-consuming to read!

Still, to make sure that no one feels left out, Christine and I will try to keep posting prompts that appeal to everyone. Also, if any other authors are interested in setting up “story threads” between their own characters, please let me know (by emailing me at I'd be more than happy to facilitate such creative endeavors.

In the meantime, I thought we could explore a concept that seems to crop up a lot on this site – most notably, in the recent story threads between Aidan and Marenya. That's, of course, the concept of duty – that is, the action, task, or chore that is required of you because of a military position, a professional occupation, a familial responsibility, a legal obligation, or another reason altogether.

So, authors and characters, I ask you:

What is your specific duty, and why do you strive to fulfill it? Of course, if you choose to ignore such duties, feel free to share that, too.

(As I've already said, I don't want anyone to feel left out – even authors and characters who shirk their duties.)

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Social Saturday: Meet and Greet

We have some new faces here at CIC, so today it's time for a character "Meet and Greet."

Bring some of your favorite food to share, check your weapons at the door, come on in and introduce yourself.  There are lots of comfy places to sit, a big fireplace to gather around, and even a piano if anyone feels like playing a song or two. You can be yourself here, everyone is welcome!

Let's start off by sharing your name, where you live and what you spend most of your time doing. Oh, and what did you bring to eat?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Getting to Know You: Religion

Since it came up during our last conversation at CIC, I thought it might be interesting to have a chat about religion.

Whether you're an author or a character, you probably believe in something bigger than yourself – perhaps many gods, just one god, a mystical gaggle of fairies, or simply the random nature of the universe. So, how did you come to believe such a thing? Parental influence, life experience, or something else entirely?

Well, what do you say? Care to share your beliefs with the rest of us?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Social Weekday: Happy Mardi Gras!

As I mentioned on Sunday, today is Mardi Gras Day – the pinnacle of the Big Easy's festive, pre-Lent season – a day filled with music, mirth, masquerades, and madness.

I thought it might be fun if we all headed down to New Orleans – for a Mardi Gras celebration of our own. I've brought enough king cake for everyone. So, who's joining me in the French Quarter? I'll be the one wearing the sorceress get-up and shouting, “Happy Mardi Gras!” at the top of my lungs!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Your World: Annual Celebrations

Many authors are greatly influenced by the places in which they were raised. For me, it's my hometown of New Orleans, and oddly enough, several of my characters also hail from that unique American city. Naturally, the city's most notable celebrations often find their way into my stories, too.

This Tuesday, for example, is Mardi Gras Day – a festive holiday known for its crowded parades, colorful costumes, flying beads, marching bands, delicious king cakes, and unabashed debauchery. Of course, given the Big Easy's fun-loving spirit, there isn't just one day devoted to this Catholic-inspired holiday – but a whole, two-week season. In fact, today marks one of this season's biggest days, as both the Krewe of Bacchus and the Krewe of Endymion (which, due to rain, was postponed from yesterday) get ready to roll down the streets of Uptown New Orleans.

So, authors and characters, I ask you:

Do your hometowns or homelands have such festive annual celebrations? If not, why not? And if so, what are they like?

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Getting to Know You: Pets

For many humans, there's nothing quite like having a pet around.

Warm, furry felines that sleep across your legs at night. Soft-hearted hunting dogs that plead for extra treats with their big, doleful eyes. Little birds that trill a merry tune whenever you stroll into the room. Wriggling hamsters that look so comical inside their endlessly spinning wheels.

And for some, slithery pythons that would happily swallow such rodents for breakfast.

It's no wonder, then, that pet owners are often less stressed-out than people without such lovable animals in their lives.

So, authors and characters, I ask you:

If you could have a pet, what kind would it be, and why? Of course, if you already do have a pet, please tell us all about him or her!

Friday, February 25, 2011

What If... You Could Change One Thing?

I don't know about you, but I've never met anyone who was perfectly happy with his or her life. There's always at least one thing that he or she would change, if possible – whether it's an unpleasant job, an unsuitable partner, an unhealthy habit, or something else altogether. Perhaps even the simple desire to change one's scenery.

So, characters, I ask you:

If you could change one thing about your life, what would it be, and why?