Yes, an author is supposed to like his protagonists – and maybe even some of the key villains, in their very devilishness – but lesser characters sometimes privately rise to the top.
Here are 10 of mine, some in upcoming volumes:
Nita: In What’s Left and the full Freakin’ Free Spirits cycle. She’s really evolved along the way.
Merry Sherry: Hometown News. I’m so glad the real-life Sherry who showed up later, with many of the same endearing qualities, didn’t have the same penchant for creating nicknames. We would have all been doomed.
Wendy: In the upcoming Nearly Canaan. This pastor’s wife has qualities that really play off Jaya well. She began to write herself.
Pastor Bob: Nearly Canaan. Changing the Roman Catholic priest in the early drafts to a flashier Fundamentalist/Evangelical preacher created someone much more, well, surprising. He has a good heart – and a great wife.
Fran: Big Inca. Just what Bill needs.
Rusty: Pit-a-Pat High Jinks. As he demonstrates, some in the movement had practical skills and insights. I wonder what happened in the rest of his life – and whether he ever married his lovely companion.
Judith (rather than Tara!): Pit-a-Pat High Jinks. She’s grown much more interesting and intriguing than the young woman who inspired her, way back when. There’s even a novel you’ll probably never see, at least not under my name.
Satyabama: Yoga Bootcamp. She has all of the wonder that embodied yoga for us.
Surfer Girl: Hometown News. In real life, she never gave me the time of day.
Alexandros: What’s Left. In the later revisions of the manuscript, Alex came fully into his own. Cassia was already “talking to me” and essentially writing herself, and then Alex stepped up to match. Oh, I wish my cousins had been something like him.
In the books you’ve read, who’s your favorite character?
Admittedly, a million ain’t what it used to be, and at this point in my life, I’m looking at it quite differently than I might have a while back. For one thing, I’m more cognizant of the security of my wife and family, now that they’re part of my life. That said, here goes.
Invest the initial sum and live off the income. Just a 5% return would be an additional $50,000 a year income. That would be a huge change in our lives. (A prudent strategy would also require ways of protecting the capital, should I be afflicted with a long-term illness.)
Can some of this be applied as angel investing for startups without involving great risk? Or low-interest loans to worthy individuals? This could be fun and satisfying.
Increase our charitable donations. We do have many causes we passionately endorse.
Contribute to political candidates. Relatively small amounts still add up, especially at a local level.
Travel. Even getting away for a few days can be great fun and refreshment.
Home renovations and repairs. A three-season porch with hot tub would be at the top of our list, but there’s plenty of upkeep needed in an old house like ours – energy-efficient windows on the second and third floors, painting inside and out, tree-trimming … oh, it’s a very long list, believe me.
New wheels. Nothing fancy, mind you. But I’m really pushing the limits on my Camry.
Attend more concerts and theater. We really enjoy going when we can.
Quality of life gifts for others. These don’t have to be big or splashy – just little things that can make a difference. A class for a child, for instance, or a pound of good coffee.
Support for my own writing. It would be wonderful to hire an editor for the revisions, artists for new covers, or move into paper editions for my lifetime of creative output. (Oh, dream on!)
Things would get really interesting if we raised the amount to $10 million. So what would you do with that first million? Or the next nine?
Of course, this is totally unrelated to the theme. Just another thing on my mind.
You’re dressing better than usual, paying attention to the personal hygiene, even cleaning the car or apartment. My guess is this could be serious, especially if you’re coming down with any of these symptoms.
It’s ALL magic when you’re together. Everything else becomes secondary.
You glow in your darling’s presence. Yes, lightness.
Make that giddiness. And fumbling.
You’re convinced this is fresh history. The past is just that. Life’s beginning anew or maybe for the first time, ever. You’re even talking funny. To match your emotions and wit.
You like their car or dog even though you’ve always been an ardent cat-hater or dog-kicker.
You agree to go places or do things you’ve never ever imagined yourself venturing.
You feel joined at the hips and shoulders … and not just the lips.
You’re Superman and Wonder Woman at last.
When you’re apart, you’re falling through space … without a parachute.
You get knowing looks … from strangers.
The obvious signs must be endless. Which ones can you add?
Living a few miles inland from the Atlantic, I’ve learned a few things when it comes to fresh fish. Just be sure to stock up on lemons and melted butter and maybe a few spices and fresh parsley.
Cod. Once available in unbelievable quantities, it’s become scarcer and costlier. Still, it’s classic – especially as scrod.
Haddock. Makes a great sandwich or flaky fish ’n’ chips.
Monkfish. Like lobster tail.
Dayboat dogfish shark. It’s a favorite in England for fish and chips. A different texture than haddock. Nothing like a little variety, right?
Trout. You don’t have to be near an ocean.
Salmon. Now we’re talking.
Striper, so I’ve heard. This one’s purely for sport fishermen and their friends and family. Or the cormorants and osprey and bald eagles that follow them upriver.
Flounder. We have some good species at hand.
Dabs or American Plaice. Now we’re into a cooperative program to protect the local marine resources through more responsible practices. These less popular but more populous alternatives make for fine fresh eating.
Hake, flounder, pollock, or king whiting. Ditto, ditto, ditto, and, yes, ditto. Depending on the week they come in.
For details on some of these, check out the New Hampshire Community Seafood site. The cooperative’s introduced us to some delicious but largely unknown species that are abundant in our own waters, and it’s devoted to sustainable community.
When it comes to fish and shellfish, what are your favorites? Any special way of preparing them, too?