In response to the #threefictionalcharacters meme that started on Goodreads, I thought I’d jump in and start tagging some bloggers! But first, my picks. While the character I identify with the most out of all the Fictionverse remains Irene Attolia of The Queen’s Thief series, these three sum me up pretty well.

Morgana Pendragon


As one who’s struggled her whole life to fit in, she’ll love you to pieces, but stab her in the back and she shows no mercy. Plus, she likes dragon. And magic.

Sheldon Cooper


I think Sheldon and I are both INTJ’s. Apart from that, we share a certain level of geekery, anxiety, and an occasional battle with social interactions.

Morticia Addams


What can I say? I love my family and have a dark sense of beauty/humor. I also am a romantic at heart. It’s just my idea of romance isn’t exactly aligned with the average twenty-something girl.

I’m tagging Kaitlyn, Michelle, Abi, and Rivka Ray and Sierra. But please, even if I didn’t tag you, share yours! I couldn’t tag all my bloggerly buddies, but I’d still love to hear them!

7 ways to identify a fantasy villain

If you’ve just started a new fantasy series and aren’t sure who the villain is, there are some easy ways to find out. Watch for a few key traits and if more than four show up in a character, you’ve definitely found the series baddie.

1. Miserable childhood


Morgana Pendragon, basically the cover girl for Daddy Issues Monthly.

Fantasy villains cannot have happy childhoods—EVER. In the slim chance one or both their parents weren’t awful, said parent(s) must die a gruesome death, preferably with the young villain watching.

2. Anger management difficulties

Even if the character displays a cold, controlled exterior most the time, they cannot be a villain without an eventual angry outburst, usually in which they do something horrible and violent. Most likely, this results in the death of a character you really liked.

3. Ugly pets/minions


A face only a villainous taskmaster could love.

Anyone who hires deformed, aesthetically challenged creatures no one else would even look at must surely be a bad guy. However, there is a loophole, so long as the beautiful minions are used for seduction-based intelligence gathering.

4. Racism/Elitism/Sexism/Religious purism/Some other nasty “ism”

The villain will probably be the most prejudiced character in the book. Genocide and lines such as “she’s only a woman” and “it’s my birthright” are dead giveaways.

5. Dysfunctional love life


Xena and Drago. Some whacked out stuff going on there.

The villain must either a) have lost their soulmate which spurs them on this hellish crusade and/or b) have a long string of serial relationships to put Henry VIII to shame and/or c) wants someone who wants them dead.

6. Is secretly the protagonist’s father/sibling/miscellaneous lost relative

Assuming the villain did not kill the protagonist’s father/mother, then this one of the spot-on ways to identify him/her. Families suck and that is the moral of the story.

7. Creepy obsession with protagonist/protagonist’s love interest


WTH Rahl? Do you have any idea how bad this looks???

If the villain and protagonist are of the opposite sex, the villain probably has a thing for him/her. If the protagonist is a girl, there will be some rape-y comments in there at minimum, same for a male protagonist’s love interest. The “we could rule the galaxy” speech may also come into play.

Did this list miss your favorite typical fantasy villain trait? Let me know in the comments!


Geeks are the most passionate humans you’ll ever meet. They’re the ones who spend six hours in line for book signings, drop hundreds of dollars on memorabilia, and gush over (possibly fictional) people no one else has ever heard of. Anyone who has ever been to a RenFest or Comic Con knows that the air almost crackles with excitement.giphy8It is not easy being a geek. Every fangirl and fanboy knows the pain of hiatus, waiting between books/movies, and not to mention characters deaths/tragedies. To make things worse, less awesome people regard us as socially inept dweebs. They seem to think we resort to fiction to compensate for the perceived lack of a “real life.” These less awesome people furthermore enjoy making fun of us every chance they get.

But seriously, what is wrong with being a geek? Geeks and their passions are on the most part entirely harmless. Memorizing the genealogies of characters in The Lord of the Rings or spending 300 hours making a cosplay never wrecked the economy. Running Star Wars fan blogs or writing fan fictions is not going to kill anyone.giphy11What most outsiders don’t seem to understand is that geek subculture is a culture. We have social networks, gatherings at comic cons and other venues, fan art, fan literature, fan music, and even fan films. There are hierarchies with the creators of our obsessions at the top and reluctantly participating family members at the bottom. There are social rules for meetups and online etiquette. And the vast majority of us masquerade as regular people. We walk the balance beam between reality and fantasy so well most people never know it.giphy12If someone doesn’t have a life, giving up on being a geek won’t change that. There is such a richness and diversity within geek culture, it’s impossible to grow stagnant unless you want to. Most regular folk resent people that aren’t like them and so try to deride us into fitting in. It’s just the way human nature works, but people need to get over themselves. If it’s harmless, no one should have to compromise what they love to make other people happy.giphy10So make the fan art, scream your heart out at the signing line, collect your Pokémon without apology, and squeal all you want when that Amazon package comes in the mail. Like I said, geeks are the western world’s greatest source of passion. And what is life without passion?


The woman I want to be

I’ve thought a great deal about who I want to be and how I want the world to perceive me. After plenty of soul searching, I know  I want to be the woman who is kind with a sense of humor.

The princess.

And the protectress.

Loyal and passionate.


But who also takes no crap and doesn’t need special favors from the boys to make things fair.

And who will stab you in the face if you screw with me.

Éowyn. I want to be Éowyn.

The Romance Paradox

I like romance, but I don’t like romance. Do you see the problem? Well, I have also found the perfect solution.

For a while there, I was really into Young Adult Paranormal Romance. The evidence is all over this blog and Goodreads, but I got tired of it pretty quick for the same reason I tired of chick flicks: there is one story. After a few (dozen) books, I recognized a definitive formula to all romance novels (they literally teach it at RWA conferences) and it just wasn’t for me.


Thing is, I still like love stories. I have a certain level of romantic in me that refuses to be denied. Despite an affinity for military history, Machiavelli, and Clausewitz, I am still a girl. It’s just bloody hard to find a love story I like.

Have long adored hardcore action stories, but I never wanted to be the hero’s girlfriend, I wanted to be his lieutenant. The one who survives to the end, saves his sorry hide when he gets in a fix, then ends up taking his place to outwit the Lannisters, defend Troy, or drive the Narens from Lucel-Lor,  or lead the Rohirriam.


The solution to wanting a surprising, action-filled storyline that examines a wide array of relationships besides romantic (but still includes romance!)? For me it was—what else?—Epic Fantasy. The Tyrants and Kings series by John Marco had the perfect level of romance. Same with the Shadowmarch books by Tad Williams, Morgan Rhodes’ Falling Kingdoms and the Mistborn trilogy.

I highly recommend "The Jackal of Nar" by John Marco to anyone seeking the emotional equivalent of a wood chipper.

I especially appreciate how people in Epic Fantasy are a lot quicker to figure out when their romance isn’t worth causing the apocalypse—unlike people in some genres. *coughcough*

So if, like me, you crave complicated storylines, complex characters, and some swooning on top, allow me to suggest your local bookstore’s Epic Fantasy section. (In a wholly objective and unbiased manner, of course.)

Argetallam Saga Playlist

With The Secrets of the Vanmars new edition just out, I thought I’d finally unveil my series playlist! While I don’t listen to music while I write (I have concentration issues), I have been known to compile playlists and rock out to them while working through writer’s block. Here are a few song I find inspirational for the Argetallam Saga.

 A New Day Dawning ~ Celtic Thunder


This our land, this is where we belong

And here we are destined to be

This is our land where our fathers have spilled

Their blood and their sweat and their tears

We’ll drive the invader back over the sea

Again and again and again and again

Ignore the oceanic reference and this might as well be Brevia’s national anthem. The talk of fighting off invasions, generational love of kingdom and country all fit perfectly for the people of Brevia.

Because of You ~ Kelly Clarkson


Because of you, I never stray too far from the sidewalk

Because of you, I play it on the safe side so I don’t get hurt

Because of you, I find it hard to trust not only me but everyone around me

Because of you, I am afraid

I first heard this song years ago when I started work on the earlier books. It makes me think of Janir and Lucan talking about their father and all the ways he’s ruined their outlook on the world—especially Lucan.

Young and Beautiful ~ Lana Del Rey


Will you still love me when I’m no longer young and beautiful?

Will you still love me when I’ve got nothing but my aching soul?

When I heard this, I couldn’t help think of Janir and Saoven. In my mind, this is their official song and it brings to mind their struggles with disproportionate lifespans and their sweet, innocent romance.

Look at Me ~ Celtic Thunder


Look at me! I’m bold and I’m charming, debonair, and disarming!

That’s me to a “t”!

Cocky and overconfident. It kind of reminds you of Karile, doesn’t it?

Hail the Hero ~ Celtic Thunder


Hail the hero—strong and true!

Fought the fight and saw it through

Swore he’d never be a slave

And gave his life

Our land to save

Everything about this makes me think of something the Argetallams would sing on patriotic holidays and celebrations. Very martial, lots of drums, and brimming with a sense of ethnic pride. (Yes. I listen to lots of Celtic Thunder.)


Real and Not Real: People who ended up in the Argetallam Saga


Why would I picture my family members as fantasy characters?

When I started working on what would become the Argetallam Saga at the tender age of eleven, it was easier for me to transpose people I knew into my fantasy world versus trying to write wholly original personalities. Over time, this changed and many of them are no longer readily clear, but the fundamentals are still there.

Karile, the quirky, redheaded enchanter who is responsible for about half the plot in The Key of Amatahns was a fictitious representation of my oldest brother. Though Karile is a much more over-the-top version, to this day I associate him fondly with my brother and the many childhood misadventures we shared. Not to mention that particular brother has allowed me to bounce ideas off him more than once—he kind of deserves a character.


Such a mystery…

The Argetallam Saga’s Zebulun River and Gideon Mountains were named after my youngest two brothers (and if you met them, you would know how very suitable that is).

My mother has made a habit of turning up in my books whether I mean for it to happen or not. Her fictitious counterpart was deliberately placed in the Argetallam Saga under the guise of Aryana Caersynn, Janir’s mother. Looking back, I see that all my stories have some personification of my mother. Considering she was the one who taught me to read and fostered my passion for literature, it does seem fitting.

But it doesn’t stop with family. One of my former coworkers makes an appearance as an Argetallam in the later books. An old family friend has been accidentally reincarnated as Sir Marserian, Karile’s father, while my own father was inspiration for both Armandius and the Lord Argetallam .


Perhaps we’ll never know.

The more I write, the more I find myself coming up with new characters who hold little or no resemblance to people I actually know. In some ways, I feel like this means I’m becoming a “real” writer. Even those I intentionally patterned after real people have evolved unexpectedly into their own personalities and quirks and that just might be my favorite part of all.