Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Avoiding Spam and Scams


Stop Spam.
Because I'm an author, I probably get more email than the average person, so I see more spam too. I've learned the patterns people use and this helps me avoid it most of the time. These lines: "check this out" "look at this amazing site" "is this really you in these pictures?" "your ex is saying bad things about you here" are often scams.

When I hold a contest, I can't send the person who wins an email that says "Winner!" in the subject, because their spam service will throw it straight into the junk pile. I have to think about my posts and try to word them in such a way that they get past the junk mail and reach the person who entered.

Despite our best intentions, sometimes email goes to spam for reasons that we don't understand. I had two separate offers for book contracts end up in my spam folder. I check that folder before I dump it because of that. At least once or twice a week, something ends up in spam that shouldn't be there.

Yahoo, Rocketmail, Hotmail, MSN, and most other email services will flag an email that contains only a link as spam, so whenever you post, do include something about the site, and include your name. Spammers always go for the easiest route to produce lots of messages, so they don't bother to sign most of them.

There are exceptions of course. Have you ever gotten an email from a friend saying that she's in a foreign country, has had her purse stolen, or that she's been jailed for a crime she didn't commit and desperately needs your help to raise cash? Chances are, she's home, sitting in the living room, and is clueless that her email account has just been hacked. It can happen to anyone (and did to me last May). If you get an email like this, first, don't believe it. Second, contact your friend by a different method and alert her. Third, don't believe it. (Yes, I repeated that) ^_^

Protecting yourself online is important. Never click on a link that appears by itself, with no information about its meaning, who sent it, or what it's about. You can be setting yourself up for a scam, or to be hit by malware that downloads itself when you click the link. One of the biggest going around right now looks like it's from Amazon, and says it's a cancelation.

To tell where a link is going, point to it with your cursor, and look at the bottom of your screen. In your browser, the place where the link will take you usually shows up in the lower left margin. If the link says it's one place, but the URL shows somewhere else, don't click it. It's a scam.

Ever been scammed or had your account hacked? What did you do?

Monday, May 28, 2012

How to Create a Burst Effect in Photoshop


A Burst Effect.
It's easier than you'd think to create a burst effect in Photoshop. I kept seeing this in images so knew it had to be something easy, but had no idea how simple it was until I discovered some advice on an old site.

Here's how to create the effect. (A downloadable pdf of these instructions is at the end.)







Create a new document
1. Create a new document in Photoshop. I used CS3 for this version, but this should be compatible with most of the versions from 7 up. The size isn't terribly important. We're doing this to learn the steps. I made mine 500x500 pixels, RGB Color mode, 8 bit, with 72 as the resolution, and the background white. See the image to the right.



2. Create a new layer. It will not need color yet.


Gradient Tool
3. Select two colors for the Gradient tool. I used black and red. The tool is found by pressing and holding the paint bucket icon.
 

4. Choose the foreground to background style (the first to show on the menu).



Use the Gradient tool to fill



5. Drag the icon from the bottom of the page to the top. To get a straight line, you can hold down the shift key as you drag. It will look something like the image here.













6.  Select the filter menu, and then the submenu Distort. Choose Wave. Set the following parameters. 

a) Set the type to Square
b) Number of generators (5). You may want more.
c)  Wavelength (50 and 50)
d) Amplitude (450 and 750) HINT: if Photoshop balks, use the slider bars to help you set these numbers.
e)  Undefined areas - choose Repeat edge pixels.

 

 When you click OK, you will get an image that looks like this one:
Distort "Wave"














7. Return to the Filter menu, and again, choose Distort, then choose Polar Coordinates.
Set the coordinates to Rectangular to Polar, and press OK. 



That's all it takes to create this effect.

To download a pdf file of these instructions, click here:

How will you use your burst effect? Feel free to share a link to your artwork.




 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Sexual Diversity in the Military

Diversity Pays.
Today, May 17th, is International Homophobia Awareness Day. I'm taking part in a series of blogs designed to bring attention to the subject.

I decided to focus on diversity in the military, because I'm a veteran. I served in the US Navy for four of the longest years of my life. ^_^ Everyone should have the right to work unimpeded by harrassment. As a woman, I experienced harrassment from shipmates who thought it their right to "Join the Navy and ride the WAVES." WAVES = Women Accepted for Voluntary Emergency Service. By the time I joined, the "emergency" aspect was over, and the name had changed to WINS (Women in Naval Service). However, the phrase only changed to "Join the Navy and jam the WINS" (a play on jamming the winds on a sailing ship), so the attitude was the same. Women were not viewed as coworkers, but as sex objects. Two items we were required to wear were a girdle, and lipstick. I managed the lipstick (at least in the morning), but figured out about day two of boot camp that no one was going to feel me up for a girdle. I kept one on hand for uniform inspection (we had to occasionally show we had the proper "kit" on hand), but never wore one.

Pay for a Navy WAVE (1940s)
When I reported to my first duty station, there were two heads (bathrooms). One was for men, the other for officers. Women had to walk to the next building, which housed offices. Fortunately, that changed not long after. Pay wasn't bad. In the 40s, women were paid different amounts from men. By the time I came along, we were paid the same as men. But there were still things that kept women and men apart when it came to service. Our uniforms were different from men's. Women were permitted to wear male fatigues (a type of dungaree and chambray shirt) when working in areas such as a flight line, rather than the more restrictive and detailed female pants and blouses with darts. I recall being told if I didn't like a rule to "get back in your own uniform." As if what I wore had something to do with my attitude.

I also thought it was disgraceful that women were referred to as "civilians under naval training" as if we didn't really "cut it" to be true members of the military. It wasn't until I was writing up a complaint about being called this that I noticed what the acronym would be: CUNT. It was a good thing no one had called me that within earshot. Back then, I had a tendency to speak before thinking. I'm amazed I got into as little trouble as I did. Before I submitted the report, we got a notice from the captain of the base that he had heard about this very term, and stated in strong terms that it was never to be used on the base again. If it wouldn't have risked making me look like a girly girl (or being put on report for conduct unbecoming) I'd have hugged the man. :)

The very next day, one of the women in my squadron brought in a Chippendales poster to put in her locker, since the walls in her work area were plastered with naked women. Her male coworkers tore it down. Next morning, she and I went to the chief to complain about the double standard, and were told the captain had already taken care of that problem, too. It seems he had decided to give his new bride a tour of the facilities and did a walk-through prior to bringing her on base. The guys muttered for days, but the walls were plain green after that.

Pay for all service members (2012)
(from USNavy)
It was wrong of my coworkers to treat women the way they did when we first arrived. Because the captain of the base took steps to ensure we women had a chance to prove ourselves, we were able to overcome the prejudices against us. I ended up making lifelong friends on that base, most of them with men. My husband and I still have good memories of them. We women were willing to stand up for ourselves, but having someone in leadership who took steps to do the right thing made all the difference for us. I hope you will do the right thing for gay, lesbian, and transgendered workers around you.

Are you in a position to speak up where you work? You might not be in a leadership position, but can you step in and prevent harrassment? Are you willing to allow people a chance to prove they are good workers, and see past their outside appearance? Are you willing to speak up when others are treated with less courtesy or respect? Would you want someone to stand up for your kid sister or brother if they were harrassed? What will you do when you see a gay, lesbian, or transgendered person spoken to in a less than courteous manner, or treated unfairly where you work? For some help about what to do and how to handle it, click this link. 2012 Diversity Pays
To visit other blogs in this hop, click HERE.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

After 6 Years, Gay Romance Banned for Content

"BANNED FOR CONTENT"

Yep, you read that right.

My gay Science Fiction Romance, Wulf - Tales of the Chosen, published in Sept 2006, has been banned from the Apple Bookstore for "objectionable content." My publisher is seeking clarification. I don't know if other books Liquid Silver Books publishes have been banned.

Wulf is book one of a trilogy. Perhaps the Big A will kick out the other two guys (Alitus and Jawk) once they get to them. Who knows? I find it a bit amusing. After all, the book has been around for more than half a decade. I suppose the Big A is just opening its doors to spicier romance and hasn't gotten around to Wulf and Luc before now. I admit, I wrote them hot and sexy. Luc Saint-Cyr is an alpha among alphas, and Wulf is hotter than the Tarthian sun.

I had to grin, picturing some straight-laced prim person thumbing through the book and stumbling across a few of the "juicier" parts. "Oh, my! I didn't know you could put that there!" ^_^ LOL

Okay, now I don't want the Big A to get all sorts of nasty-grams and decide to wholesale ban all my publisher's books, but I wouldn't mind if some of you decided to let them know you won't be dictated to by doing one of the following:

A. Ask Apple for the book. ;) ISBN: 1-59578-282-6
B. Love it at Liquid Silver Books: http://www.liquidsilverbooks.com/books/wulf.htm
C. Keep your Kindle hot with it:  http://is.gd/kayelle_wulf_amz
D. Nab it for your Nook:  http://is.gd/wulf_chosen_bn
E. Fiddle with it at Fictionwise (no pun intended, LOL)
: http://is.gd/wulf_chosen

Oh, and if you already have a Kindle version, you can grab a Kindlegraph -- an electronic autograph of it here: Kindlegraph.

So what's all the fuss about? 

Well, I guess you'll have to buy a copy to find out, but I can give you a sneak peek here. Warning: contains scorching, hot, graphic M/M sex, light spanking, mild D/s play, and um... bathing in champagne. ;)
- - -
 
Luc Saint-Cyr pushed himself to complete one more set of crunches. He'd done four sets of forty already, and only needed one more set in a different position. When finished, he stretched out on the mat and let himself rest for a minute.

The slow fans overhead cooled his damp skin -- he'd forced himself to sweat. The erotic dream he'd had about Wulf still lingered in his mind despite the torture he'd put his body through this morning.

Curled up in bed, Wulf's head on his shoulder, they watched a game on Imperinet. Neither cared who won; it was the male cameraderie that mattered. Lovers who were friends first. While the crowd cheered, their kisses grew deeper, longer, until Wulf pulled him down on top of him and submitted to--

The pounding drums in the background music changed, and he rolled over and got up, heading for the weights.

"I must stop thinking about Wulf." He loaded up sixty pounds of free weights and gripped a set in each hand. Today was his day for focusing on his shoulders, back, and forearms. He faced the mirrored wall, adjusted his grip and lifted.

Wulf chose that moment to enter the workout area, dressed only in hot pink shorts and white gym shoes.

The weights sailed over Saint-Cyr's shoulders and clunked the floor with a thud.

Dancing out of the way as they rolled toward him, Wulf flashed him a smile made for a dentist's office ad. Perfect white shiny teeth and warm rosy lips. His eyes sparkled with merriment. "Guess I startled you."

Alitus (book 2)

"Startled me?" Saint-Cyr chased down the weights. "I almost threw these things through the wall."

"Sorry." Wulf put a foot on top of one to stop it.

"No sweat. It's okay."

Saint-Cyr had the treat of picking up the weight beneath Wulf's foot and rising to see the entire length of his muscled leg. For a man with dark hair, Wulf's leg hair was more like golden fuzz. What would all that soft hair feel like beneath his hands? His mouth? In contrast, his ripped abs and tanned chest were completely smooth. Did he shave? Did he shave anything else? He finally reached the top of Wulf's muscled body and his gorgeous, clean-shaven face. The man was grinning, obviously aware Saint-Cyr had taken his time feasting on his half-bared body.

Oh, mercy. I'm going to need another cold shower.

"Morning." Tied around Wulf's brow was a band of hot pink cloth. He wore a necklace of multicolored beads and had a braided strip around his right wrist. He cocked his head to one side. "Okay if I work out in here? I'd hate to screw up my regimen."

"Uh... uh huh." Saint-Cyr slapped himself mentally. Try to speak in full sentences, you dolt! "Uh ... I'm almost finished."

"No need to rush off." Wulf glanced around and whistled in appreciation. "You've got everything in here. There's plenty of room for two." He pointed toward the treadmill. "Okay if I start there?"

"Sure." Saint-Cyr plunked the weights back on their bench and turned his back to towel his face. He managed a peek at Wulf in the mirror. His heart kicked in like he'd started cardio -- Wulf was checking out his ass. From the expression on his face, he liked what he saw. Like Wulf, he wore only shorts and shoes. Well, what do you know... Saint-Cyr hid his face in the towel a moment longer, trying to control his smile. So, the beauty wants a piece of the beast, eh? You've still got it, old boy.

"What's this control pad do?" Walking at a slow, beginning pace, Wulf turned his head toward him. "It has a red horn on it like these new shoes I've been modeling."

"Don't push that unless you're holding on." Saint-Cyr tossed the towel over his shoulder and came up next to him. "It's a prototype that one of my holding companies is testing. The Tyrans want to market their low gravity devices in sports equipment."

Jawk (book 3)
"No shit! It must be the same maker, then. That's in the shoes, too. You can walk forever in those things." Wulf grabbed hold of the handlebars of the treadmill. "Spot me and crank her up. I wanna see what this baby can do."

"Are you sure?"

"Hell, yeah."

Saint-Cyr had to laugh. "You asked for it." He tapped the pad once. "This is the lowest setting."

Wulf picked up the pace. "It just seems faster. I thought I'd float or something."

"Give it time." He leaned against the wall beside him, enjoying the view.

The perfect symmetry of Wulf's ribbed abs flexed as he walked at a brisk pace. When Saint-Cyr was sure he was keeping up without difficulty, he reached over to the pad. "Ready for the next level?"

"Go for it."

He tapped the pad, increasing the speed, but reducing the effort.

Wulf started to sweat. "Whew!" Almost running, he hung onto the handlebars, his knuckles white. His body worked like a perfect machine, legs pumping, chest rising and falling.

"You okay, Wulf?"

He nodded. After a moment he asked, "You got more?"

"You sure you want it?"

"Oh, hell, yeah!" Wulf fixed a man-eating grin on his face. "Give me all you got."

If you only knew how much that could be. Saint-Cyr reached for the controls.
- - -

Wulf book trailer


Sunday, May 13, 2012

A Round of Words 051312 #row80

It's Mother's Day and I'm only online for a little bit. Have plans to hang out with family, chill, and take it easy today.

My ROW80 update is short this time. I had a week planning for Outlantacon, which went uber well. I had a wonderful time at the con. I then had a week of work catching up with things I missed the previous week, and posting updates on various spots.

This week, I've focused back on my writing. I ripped out two chapters that -- while well done and interesting -- didn't take my characters where I wanted them to go. The equivalent of ripping out about 30 rows of crochet stitches. Painful, but necessary to move forward. Those two chapters were holding me back. Someone once said cutting chapters was akin to killing. Well... I can maybe agree. Although I've never killed anyone, it was painful enough to do that it took me three days to get up the nerve to do it. I'm still working on the rewrites. Set me back about two weeks.

On the other hand, I went to see the Avengers yesterday with my son and his son. It was a treat getting to see my kind of movie. I love scifi, and any movie where stuff blows up. ^_^ Favorite line... wow. There were many great parts. Probably the best is a scene in which Captain America is delivering orders to two NY cops, and they give him a cold stare. One says "Why should we listen to you?" About then, the invading force (not a spoiler - it's in the previews) shows up and the good captain takes on about half a dozen baddies single handedly. The questioning cop gets an eyeful. He grabs his mic and repeats the orders without hesitation. Abit later in the film, Capt America is again giving orders to the other Avengers, who up to now, hadn't been that crazy about taking orders from anyone. This time, they all bounce off to obey. That's where my favorite line comes in. Last to receive an order is the Hulk, who's been running amok all day. The captain says, "Hulk?" and the green monster turns and gives him a critical eye. The order? "Smash!!" With an evil grin and a nod, the Hulk sets off to do just that.

The two-and-a-half hour movie was over far too fast. Great pacing, excellent dialogue, wonderful imagery. I want to write like that.


Monday, May 7, 2012

3 Words: SciFi, Fun, Outlantacon


LtoR: Kiernan Kelly, Kage Alan, Kayelle Allen,
Hushicho Phoenix, TC Blue
I attended Outlantacon over the weekend. This friendly, local event has become my favorite convention of the year. What is it? Outlantacon is an Atlanta-based event for the Queer Geek audience. It has all the usual convention fare -- discussion panels, gaming, costuming, special events, etc. The difference is a queer 'bent' to everything. Here you can enjoy all the convention trappings in an atmosphere where you're free to be yourself! There were some unique twists, such as game shows like you've never seen them. The Match Game (a staple since 2007), Project Cosplay (introduced in 2010) and Nea's Drag Race (added in 2011) were all outrageously fun. There were film screenings by Paul Bright (Goliath Uprising, Altitude Falling), and by Jevocas Green and Eric Green (Uncanny X-Men, Between Lines).

Click any picture for a larger image of all pix on this page. Many of those featured in this article were interviewed on my Romance Lives Forever blog.
Denny Upkins, Eugie Foster,
Shae Connor

A full Writer's Workshop took place, and included the following topics:
  • How NOT to Get Published
  • Creating Grabber First Paragraphs
  • Character Creation and Development
  • Storytelling and Plotting
  • Self-Promotion and Marketing
  • Social Media
  • The Blogging Author
Other panels included Fan Fiction to Published Writer, Job by Day - Writer by Night,  and LGBT Literature.

"Help! I Live with an Author!"
George, Ed, Butch
Next year's writer's workshops promise to be even bigger, and will include publishers looking for GLBT literature and themes.

"Comrades in Arms"
Butch, and Ed
One of the best panels was one of the last: "Help! I Live with an Author!" It included words of advice (and some amusing confessions) by George Martindale (Lee Martindale's hubby), Butch Zonka (Kiernan Kelly's hubby), and a last minute addition of my own hubby, Ed. These guys go above and beyond. Lee says George is the official "schlepper" of her writing business, and he concurred. "Books," he said with a stoic smile, "are heavy." Butch is Kiernan's Publicist, coffee-deliverer, and business manager, and Ed keeps me going by taking care of details and giving me the freedom I need to write. None of us could do what we do with as much zip and aplomb if we had to do it alone. I nabbed a picture of Butch and Ed manning Kiernan's table in the dealer's room. These guys are the best sports ever.

Paul Bright, Kage Alan, Eugie Foster,
Kayelle Allen, Shae Connor, (not pictured: Jevocas Green)
Kage Alan, Paul Bright, Eugie Foster, and Shae Connor shared a panel with me called Social Media (picture above).This panel was fun, and it ended with Hushicho Phoenix taking pictures for us with each of our cameras (a patient man!). Someone in the background chimed in, "This is supposed to be about Social Media. One of you take a picture and then share it!" =^_^=
Jevocas Green
Andrew Greenberg
"Reading Comics"

Hushicho also taught panels on male anatomy (he's a gifted artist), and was on several panels with me, including Vampire: the Ultimate Other (with Denny Upkins), and Storytelling and Plotting. Before that panel started, copanelists Andrew Greenberg and Jevocas Green discussed cartoon images (right). Uh, yeah, I'm sure that's what they meant when they were talking about gripping Thor's Hammer! LOL! I was lucky enough to get several hugs from Jevocas (aka Java), but didn't get a picture of myself with him this time. I did nab one of me with the amazing (and tall!) Moxie Magnus, but the picture came out pixelated. >_< I need a better camera for next year. 

Do you take pictures at cons? What camera do you use? Which con is your favorite?

Friday, May 4, 2012

Party Size Cinco de Mayo Dip with Corn & Peppers

Peppers!
Looking for a fun, fast, and easy food for your Cinco de Mayo celebration? I like things I can make in a hurry and enjoy at my leisure, but are also healthy.

This is made with a lower fat version of cream cheese called Neufchatel. You can find it right next to cream cheese in the dairy section. If you've never tried it, this is a good recipe to start. It tastes just like cream cheese but is better for you.

Peppers, whether green, red, yellow, orange, or the spicy variety, all contain antioxidants good for your immune system.

Time saving tip: If you buy a pre-chopped pepper blend, you can assemble this dish in a few minutes, and have peppers for an omelet the next morning. Yum!

Ingredients

1 16 ounce can whole kernel corn (or Mexi-corn), drained well
2 Tbsp diced red bell pepper
2 Tbsp diced yellow bell pepper
2 Tbsp diced green bell pepper
1/2 cup sliced green onions
1 finely chopped jalapeno pepper (optional)*
2 tsp taco seasoning
2 Tbsp skim milk**
1 package (16 ounces) Neufchatel or cream cheese
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack, Colby, or Mexican-style cheese

*may substitute serrano pepper for a hotter flavor
** add milk, a few drops at a time if needed for thinner consistency (may substitute water)

Directions

Soften the cream cheese in the microwave for 15-20 seconds on 30% power.
Mix together Neufchatel cheese, skim milk, and seasoning mix. Stir in drained corn, peppers, jalapenos, and green onions. When veggies and cream cheese mix are blended, fold in the schredded cheese.
Refrigerate to blend flavors. Serve with crackers, tortilla chips, corn chips, or vegetable dippers.
Serving size: 2 Tbsp. / Makes 24-30.

Image credit: Tacluda at RGBstock.com

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

What Have You Done Now, Kayelle? #Row80 050212

Row80 Update!
Funny how I can hear my mother's voice saying the title of this blog... ;) Well, except for the #Row80 part, anyway! But this time it's something good.

This week, I've written six blog articles, edited three chapters, written about 3000 words on my my wip, and spent my hour a day 5x a week writing. Notice writing or a form of the word is in that last sentence three times. Hard to say you're a writer if you don't write. I'm living up to my title.

Big accomplishment - I started a blog series / commentary on Fifty Shades of Grey (50S), comparing it to my own writing. After all, I know my own characters well,  and I've worked hard to ensure my alpha, Luc, is as alpha as I can make him and still keep him real. I'm qualified to comment.

Doing so means I've spent many hours writing (there's that word again). But if I'm a writer, that's what I do. I am also the founder / mentor / leader over on Marketing for Romance Writers. I answer posts there and discuss issues with the staff. I write sixty-seventy emails a day on various topics. Many times, I've started writing an answer or explained how to do something and realized that could end up being a great blog post. It's one reason I created this blog, and also share info on another, The Author's Secret. I love what I do, and enjoy sharing information, helping others, and encouraging them. It's my thing, and I'm happy doing it.

Sharing with Row80 compadres is one of the best things I do all week.
- - -

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

50S: How Do I Look? Character Description

Surrender Love / Fifty Shades of Grey
In a fairy tale, when a character says, "Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who's the fairest of them all?" we expect a vain person. The act itself makes a statement about the character. They are absorbed by how they appear.

New writers sometimes start with a grocery-list description as well. They do not yet possess the skill to introduce a character properly. They resort to the ploy of "telling" versus "showing." What tells you more about a character's personality? A description of how badly his shirt is wrinkled, or a line about his shirt being wrinkled because he loaned his iron to a surly roommate who left without paying rent and took the iron with him?

Can you use the "gaze into the mirror" line effectively? Let's compare how it's used in 50 Shades of Grey (50S) and in my book, Surrender Love (SL).

50S opens with this line:
"I scowl with frustration at myself in the mirror." The protagonist then spends the next paragraph talking about how she slept with her hair wet (again) and repeats a mantra about not doing this. She rolls her eyes at herself. To ensure we know how the character feels, the author tells us this action is done "in exasperation" as if we don't know that is a valid reason for rolling one's eyes, especially when we have already been told the character is scowling with frustration. We then gaze into the mirror with the character as she observes: "...the pale, brown-haired girl with blue eyes too big for her face..." who gives up on making her wayward hair behave.

What we learn: the character is female, frustrated, she sleeps with her hair wet and has done this before, she doesn't like her hair, she thinks her eyes are too big for her face, she is pale, has brown hair, and blue eyes. She is possibly self-centered.

On page two of chapter one, the protagonist of Surrender Love is also near a mirror. Luc Saint-Cyr's refusal to look into it does not give us a physical reference. Instead, it tells us about his character. Here's the passage. Luc has entered his penthouse, picked up a bottle of whiskey, and headed for his bed.

He sat on the end of it, refusing to face the man in the mirror across from him. He opened the whiskey, tilted it up, and drank half, wiped his chin, and grimaced. No alcohol affected him; he drank it for the memories of the people he’d loved and the times they’d shared. Luc wiped the top of the bottle with the heel of his hand and finished off the rest in two big gulps. Might as well have been tea. Nothing.
Drawing back the bottle in one hand, he paused, and then hurled it at the mirror above his dresser. Glass shattered.


We know several things about Luc from this passage. He's in denial, he has a drinking problem, he has memories that haunt him, alcohol doesn't affect him -- and that annoys him, his temper is at the breaking point, and he is not above breaking things when angry.
On about page twelve, Luc has experienced a recurring nightmare in which he faces his ex-lover, and which ends with an erotic, wet dream. He gets another moment with a different mirror.

He rolled out of bed, entered the bathroom, and stood, hands braced on the black marble counter, refusing to lift his head. Smears of semen coated his chest and belly. When he finally faced himself in the mirror, he stared long and hard into the solid black obsidian eyes. The sheen of sweat covered his dark skin. He curled his wide mouth in a sneer.
“You stupid, stupid bastard. You threw him away. You shoved him out of your life!” He slammed his fist into the face in the mirror; glass cracked and shattered into the marble sinks.


Now we also know he calls himself a stupid bastard, he has solid black eyes, dark skin, he is sweating, and he has a wide mouth. He surely knows that smashing his fist into glass is going to hurt, yet he does it anyway. The fact that he is aiming his fist at his own reflection speaks to his self-loathing. He is reckless, uncaring about himself, and furious enough with himself to take it out on his surroundings.

Without stating that Luc is frustrated, that his breakup with his ex fueled his anger issues, or telling the reader much about how he looks, we still come away a strong image of the character.

To describe a person, no matter what the viewpoint, avoid a laundry list of characteristics. Instead, allow actions to show us how they feel, what drives them, and a physical description is less necessary. It's nice to know what they look like, but if you show us the character in his or her element, we will figure out the rest for ourselves as the story goes along. Physical characteristics are not nearly as engaging as a well-developed personality with whom we can engage and interact. Please do not tell us about your characters. Let us see them.

(image: Surrender Love cover art by Anne Caine, Fifty Shades of Grey cover art by Papuga2006/Dreamstime.com book copyright E.L. James quoted via Fair Use, for review)