Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Writing Characters with Psychological Disorders: Help for a Rescuing Psychiatrist

Lynda: I have been meaning to speak with you regarding your workshop at the last RMFW conference. I had spoken to you about some challenges regarding a character (a Psychiatrist) who stays late at work one night and witnesses patient experimentation at a private facility, and then helps that patient to escape.

You had mentioned that the Psychiatrist (Tara is her name) must have some sort of heroism and realize that in her own self. I thought you were right on target as I had done an Enneagram on her about a year ago, and decided that was one of her main character traits. I had mentioned that my critique group is having difficulty believing her plight, as her behavior is very unprofessional. You told me that perhaps I need to make her internal motive BIGGER. I agree with you, but I am still struggling to figure out a more personal motive to drive her to help him escape. It's not an attraction to the patient or anything.

A little history: She had an affair with the Administrator of the facility and I am wondering if I should either make it an adulterous affair on her part so that Raymond (the patient) witnesses something. OR- I am also considering her releasing him as an act of revenge (the administrator ended the relationship) but the latter sounds a little weak on her part and both are still very unprofessional.

Thoughts? Have you seen anything in your professional career that might fit/help this scenario? It seems that anything I am going with, internal fear for the patient, revenge, adultery, is weakening Tara too much and she really needs to help him escape. The patient can't do it without her and I also need her to be the sleuth of sorts and reveal information so she has to take her time before she reports anything to authorities.

Also, in an effort to isolate the aging gene, the patient (Raymond) has had his DNA tampered with and is able to heal more quickly and also slow his aging. The side effect of his genetic tampering has caused him to have an obsession with burning things (pyromania) which I know is a childhood illness. I think this fits well with his slower aging as he has regressed in some areas of his personality. Could this illness (pyromania) be susuppressed with treatment/therapy only to reveal itself later in life after a near-death experience?

BTW, I thought your workshop was fascinating and I was very pleased with what I learned. I was able to use it for a secondary character who has schizophrenia. Any information you can give me on the above would be very helpful.
Sincerely, P.N.

P.N.: Wow. A couple of interesting questions to launch my new series. Thanks so much for offering them! The most fun part of talking about these issues will be the comments and the discussion. I hope lots of people will chime in!
I think I probably said something about the psychiatrist being a "rescuer." Many of us helping types have a strong dose of that archetype. And, the "rescuer" is commonly found in a triangle with the "victim" and the "perpetrator/aggressor." I think it's completely probable that Tara might be driven by her need to protect the underdog. She might have something in her background -- a trauma in her childhood -- that caused her to be uber-sensitive about the victimization of others.

J.D. Robb's Eve Dallas from the "Death" series comes to mind. Due to experiences in her early life, Eve has a highly-developed (some might say obsessional) need for rules, justice and taking a stand for the victimized. What could have happened to Tara to cause her to act out her rescuer tendencies? What is the underlying pattern that fuels her decision? She might be triggered by something in the present environment, but the button was probably created long ago. I'm a "Harry Potter" fan, and Hermoine often points out Harry's tendency to rescue -- to leap in without thinking due to his childhood. I don't think Tara's affair needs to have anything to do with her urge to protect this patient.

Re: the pyromania. I've never had any hands-on experience with a fire-starter in therapy, so I hope others will share their experiences. But the good news is that we write fiction, which means we get to rearrange reality to suit our purposes! Pyromania (and many other conditions) can be managed through therapy and treatment, only to reappear later for many reasons. I like the idea of a near-death experience. Or even an experience from another life! Sky's the limit.

Awesome topics. I will check back throughout the day between clients. Let's get a good discussion going in the comments section. If you have a question for a future post, please send it to: boulderboomer@aol.com

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Excerpt Monday: LK Rigel, "Space Junque"

LK wants to give an ebook to everyone who commented here through today, Tuesday, Nov. 30. So, if you commented and you didn't leave your email address, please come back and add it. Thanks to everyone who participated.
Space Junque blurb:

The DOGs want to destroy the world. The gods want to make a new one. The trick is to survive both.

Warned by her friend Mike Augustine, Char Meadowlark tries to get off planet before a pending eco-terrorist attack, but the Defenders of Gaia strike while she's at the airport. Jake Ardri, pilot of the shuttle Space Junque, rescues her and delivers her to the Imperial Space Station where Mike awaits.

When the DOGs' final onslaught goes global and the material world threatens to implode, the ancient gods reemerge to take control over humanity. Through the ensuing chaos, Char must juggle two men, orbiting eco-terrorists, and a goddess with her own agenda for a new world order.

Will there be any room for love in flagrante apocalypto?

Space Junque excerpt:

Not surprising, everything was in good order. The blackberries were fat and sweet and the strawberries were as red as … Cripes, she couldn't get Jake out of her head. One particularly fat berry reminded her of that foo-foo drink with the origami dragon and the red stains the fruit left on his lips.

She picked the strawberry and bit into it.

"Now that's a very pretty picture, Meadowlark."

Jake! She whirled around. He was standing at the end of the pallet with his typical amused smile and his arms spread wide in invitation.

"How did you --?" She didn't care how he got there. She ran to his embrace. Shibad, he felt marvelous.

"Char, you're alive." His voice was warm and wondrous and comforting, and his eyes as dark and kind as she remembered. It seemed like weeks since she'd seen him, not half a day. He kissed her forehead and eyelids and pressed her to his chest, whispering in her ear. "It's so good to see you."

He kissed her again, full on the mouth, insistent yet tender.

He smelled wonderful, as if he'd just showered with lavender and ylang-ylang. And he was clean-shaven.


Something wasn't right. Char twisted out of his arms and stepped back to get another look at him. Khaki flight pants, light green hemp shirt. Lovely muscles. Brown eyes, shaggy hair. It was Jake. But it wasn't Jake.

"Begone, Empani!" A female called out. "Back to the fall!"

Char scanned the pallets behind her. Nothing. Had she imagined that voice? She turned back to Jake.


The stress was getting to her. She was cracking up. But no way did she imagine that embrace. That kiss. She could still feel Jake's lips on hers. She could still smell him.

"No, little creature. You're not crazy."

A small woman stepped out of the shadows. Except there were no shadows.

"The Empani was drawn to your desire for the man in your heart." Her voice had a childlike quality mixed with an all-knowing vibe. She had light blue eyes with crinkly laugh lines, a turned-up nose and pouty cherubic lips. Her blood-red curls were streaked with silver and piled on her head, falling out of pink and gold binding cords.


"One of Samael's glories." As if that explained everything. "That one got caught up in you. It won't bother you again."

The woman was naked but for two pieces of shimmering material held over her front and backside by two tiny fairies sitting on her shoulders. Naked male fairies. Virile little naked male fairies.

"You see me." She seemed pleased by this fact.

"How did you get onto the annex? Who are you?" Char moved backwards, but the door was on the opposite side of the room past the woman. "Did you come with Jake?"

Only that wasn't Jake.

"As you do see me, aren't you forgetting something?" She raised an eyebrow as if Char had committed some transgression. The fairies glared. Their wings fluttered -- angrily, in Char's opinion.

Where had this hallucination come from? There was nothing in Char's past. No childhood story, no class in ancient folklore she could think of that featured such characters.

"Characters! Stupid human. Submit!"

Char's body flung itself to the floor, prostrate and trembling like some novice waiting for god.



LK will be giving away a copy of her e-book to one commenter. The winner will be selected and posted on Tuesday evening. Stop back by to see if you won.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Excerpt Monday: Danielle Ackley-McPhail

Hi, I’m Danielle Ackley-McPhail, the author of The Halfling’s Court, an urban fantasy where outcasts and escapees from the faerie court have founded a biker gang in the modern world. The gang is seen as a threat to his power by Dair Na Scath, the Faerie King. In the following excerpt Dair has discovered that his advisor neglected to tell him that one of the bikers was of royal blood.


“Gort! Gort!” The High King of Faerie bellowed as he stormed through the bough-crafted corridors of Sidhe na Daire, his Underhill stronghold. His link to the trees carried the cry until the place echoed with it, sending lesser fae scattering. Gort would have heard, regardless; with ivy woven through the crown of every oak but those of Dair’s own bower, he could have whispered and still been heard by his druidic advisor. He was halfway to the corner of the realm where Gort had taken residence long ago when the fae in question appeared.

Slight for even one of the fae, Gort stood youthful, like a sapling, surrounded by the sculpted forest giants that ringed a wide clearing along the corridor’s path. He was as slender and long as one of his ivy vines, his hair and eyes the deep, dark green of those same leaves aged by many seasons. Dair snarled to see him standing there calmly—smugly?—as if he hadn’t betrayed trust; it bear noting that he stood well into the sunlight, beyond the reach of the oaks’ shadows. Yet, not far enough beyond, Dair thought. A sly smile played about the monarch’s lips. With an upward flick of his wrist he awakened the wide-spread roots of the ancient trees. A rumbling shook the earth as those shallow roots stirred, then thrashed, sending Gort to his knees as one long, pale root whipped up and lashed about him, trapping the druid in place.

Confusion and distress darkened Gort’s eyes. He did not struggle. He did not rage. He was too canny, surely, to behave so, caught in grips as he was. “Sire, is aught well?”

Dair merely stared, his gaze as hard as petrified wood. He circled the druid, watched him closely and read the signs of his body and the frantic wisps of almost-thought that escaped the druid’s control. He came forward and pinned Gort with a glance that did not waver: “There was a child,” he said, his voice the deep and disturbing murmur of oak boughs before a storm.

Gort paled and went very still. Something indefinable shifted deep within the trapped fae’s eyes.

“You did not tell us there was a child.”

“Pardon, sire, what child?” Gort asked on a sighing breath, pausing as the retaining root tightened on Dair’s command.

“Tonight, we felt a binding, druid,” the high king said, the words deceptively controlled and even. “Her band merging with another…bound by blood; now tell us of the child.”

“You said they were dead to you, the lines of blood forever severed; the dead bear no children. I was abiding by your will.”

“A child of the royal blood raised up by mortals and outcasts and you claim to abide by our will?” Dair’s voice dropped to a harsh whisper, “Who is the father?”

Silence. Stillness. Like the hard grip of fear.


Again a shifting in Gort’s eyes, emotion too deep and controlled for Dair to name it by sight, the lips smiled though, all compliant and eager. “I do not know, sire, but I will learn all I can, if you bid me….”

“If we bid you? You will bring us all knowledge on the matter before the sun sets again or we will bid you die!”

Dair had a doubt: Gort’s loyalty was now in question. He would be a fool to place faith in the druid. Instead he stirred the magic of his realm, imbued it with his will, and unleashed it. The root released with a whiplash, the tip opening a gash in the druid’s cheek, trailing beads of blood like glittering, amber-tinted sap, embedded in the wound was the smallest sliver of oak mingling unnoticed with ivy. Gort’s head nodded quickly, but not sufficient to hide the emerald flare of anger in his gaze.

“Sundown,” Dair reminded sharply as he turned and stalked away, already immersed in his own thoughts. His daughter-wife was dead, the ring passed on. Somewhere in the mortal world there was a child of his blood, Anaiphal’s child, some outcast’s get, no doubt. Perhaps a female of the royal line that would bind him further to the throne—as her mother should have—that none dare ever again question his rule. He glanced down at his finger at the band on the third finger of his right hand, a skillful crafting of white gold knotwork…a stag wreathed in oak leaves…but no matter how masterfully wrought by his own hand, it was lacking in one key matter. Goddess help him should a rival ever think to test its protections.

He pushed the thought from his mind and reached his senses toward the oaken splinter he had left in Gort’s wound, testing the link while Gort was still in his presence. His advisor’s breath transformed into a peculiar echo as it filtered in through both Dair’s ears and directly into his mind.

If you would like to learn more about The Halfling’s Court or my other works, please visit www.sidhenadaire.com or www.badassfaeries.com . I can also be found on Facebook under Danielle Ackley-McPhail or Live Journal under both DAMcPhail and badassfaeries.
Danielle will give away an e-copy of her book to one commenter. Her winner will be selected and posted on Tuesday evening. Stop back by to see if you won.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Excerpt Monday: Carol Berg

Carol's winner is: Jean P! Congrats, Jean. Send me your contact information and I'll pass it along to Carol. Thanks to everyone who participated.
Flesh and Spirit

A wounded renegade sorcerer has found sanctuary in Gillarine Abbey. Though all he seeks is a roof over his head and a refuge from winter's famine, Valen has been drawn into a mystery of secret societies, doomsayers, monks, princes, and madmen, all seeking the key to a coming dark age.

Vesper bells clanged and hammered. The monks were gone to prayers again, the lingering draft from their departure my only company in the quiet infirmary. Robierre had left me a brimming posset, dosed with extra honey in apology for sending me out walking too strenuously.

In truth my leg felt better recovered from the day's adventure than my spirit. I could not shake my thoughts free of the murdered monk. Had this Horach truly made himself known to me? Surely of all residents of this abbey, I knew the least that might ease a tormented soul. But a man left himself open to mortal peril did he ignore the demands of the dead.

My fingers traced the smooth curves of the wooden mug. The monks would go to supper after prayers, which meant near two hours alone here with naught to think of but a youth left in agony to bleed, unable to cry for help.

Before I knew it, I'd thrown on my damp gown, pulled boots over bare feet, and retrieved my walking stick. Guided by the church towers, and wafting smoke that smelled pleasantly of onion and garlic, I limped across the yard and through the puddled passage between the kitchen and refectory, retracing our path of the morning. Pigeons' cooing accompanied me into the deserted cloisters.

I shivered. Saint Gillare's wingless angels gleamed pure white against the dusk. The chill air, heavy with moisture, smelled of rich earth and green grass. To retreat felt stupid and cowardly, yet now I was here, I couldn't steel myself to step wholly into the courtyard. My hand squeezed the smoothed knob of the walking stick. There were other ways to approach uncertain ground than just blundering in.

Though I'd long denied it, I had inherited the familial bent for route-finding and tracking. My Cartamandua bloodlines were well documented, of course, enshrined in the Registry before my birth and witnessed on the day I took my first breath. I'd always felt like a prized cow, bred to supply Navronne with the cream of sorcery.

I wandered down the south cloister, past the kitchen wall. Dared I release magic here? It would leave traces, detectable by a Registry inspector. Or perhaps an abbey whose Rule forbade use of magic might be warded to prevent spellcasting and give off noises or explosions if I breached its protections. Every instinct said not to risk it, but then again, my instincts were unused to the requirements of unquiet spirits.

I tossed some of Robierre's stock of bergamot onto the grass so young Horach might use it for the Ferryman's tally, apologizing that I'd naught better to offer. Then, clutching my walking stick, I eased myself to kneeling. Crouched at the verge of the west cloister, I laid my palms on the cool wet grass, shaped my intent, and released just a spit of magic.

My limited experience of such trials led me to expect an image of the square to resolve itself in my mind: the grass and stones, the shrine, the bounding columns and walkways, the size, shape, and source of the font. Not a visual image, but more of an understanding of structure, composition, direction, and history, and a sense of what obstacles, spells, or spirits might lie here. But the sensations confounded all expectations.

The earth pulsed beneath my hands, warm and living, its lifeblood a deep-buried vein of silver, as plainly visible to my eye as the shrine itself. The memory of all who had walked here wove a pattern in the earth, each path sharp-edged against the clarity of a long and reverent quiet. The understanding of the yard's composition and direction existed, not as some separate image to be analyzed, but embedded in my flesh as plainly as speech or hearing. And even beyond these marvels, something more teased at my spirit...

I breathed deep and tried to quiet my trepidations, to open my senses and push deeper. Just on the edge of hearing, the sighing notes of a vielle quivered in the stillness, and a woman's clear voice intoned a haunting, wordless melody that swelled my soul with wonder and grief. A memory...and yet a presence, too...if I could but sort out the music and its meaning -

An unseen bludgeon struck. Saints and angels! I toppled backward, landing hard on my backside. As on my first encounter with this place, the blow slammed me square between my eyes. Dizzy and befuddled, I pressed my fingers to my forehead, sure I'd find a bruise swollen the size of a cat. But, though my wounded thigh complained loudly that it was twisted to the point of tearing the infirmarian's stitches, both brow and temples seemed intact.

If Brother Horach wanted my attention, he had gotten it. But did he want me to see what lay here - something far older than a youthful monk - or was he the one who so forcibly forbade my intrusion? I rubbed my brow and tried vainly to recapture the moments before the blow: the warmth of the earth, the silver thread of an underground spring, the music - so beautiful, so dreadfully sad.

I had long speculated that Iero was just another name for Kemen Sky Lord, Creator of Earth and Heaven. But neither Kemen, nor Iero, nor any god or spirit had ever made himself known to me so forcefully. I didn't like it.

Flesh and Spirit is the first half of The Lighthouse Duet, followed by Breath and Bone. This duology won the 2009 Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature. Read more about this and all my books at http://www.carolberg.com/
Carol will give away a mass market paperback of Flesh and Spirit to one commenter. Her winner will be selected and posted on Tuesday night. Stop back by to see if you won.