Character Sheets - Before or After?

Guess what I've been doing lately?  (as of March, when I wrote this post)

Filling out character sheets.  Scouring the internet for reference pictures.  Writing out backstory.  Am I writing a new book?  Planning out a new series?  No.

Perhaps I should explain.

I'm still editing my Betrayal and Bravery trilogy.  Character sheets is just a part of this process.  And before you ask, no, I didn't do this before I started drafting.  (All my plotter friends just froze in horror.)

I just finished six drafts of book one, two drafts of book two, and one fat 114K beast of a draft for book three.  That right there is living proof that you don't need to fill out character sheets and stuff before you write.

But you do need them.  I need character sheets.  Even after all that drafting and editing, after spending years in the storyworld, I still need something I can go to and make sure I wrote down someone's eye color correctly.

When I first started writing this trilogy, back in 2015, I literally went with the following:

A three paragraph synopsis.
6 pages of character journaling (a page per character)
A hazy idea of what each character looked like

And then I dove in.  And finished the draft with minimal fuss.

But now I'm finally going back and nailing down exactly what each character looks like.

Pros to Making Character Sheets After Drafting

I haven't wasted time doing all this prep work only to find I didn't like the story.  I used to spend lots of time crafting the characters - getting their generic appearances, personalities, and so on.  And then I would start creating the plot and find I wasn't real excited about actually writing the story.  Or I would begin drafting...only to loose interest after three chapters.

I haven't wasted time on characters that didn't make the cut.  Now that all 3 books are finished, I know who is needed, what their personality is, what kind of arc they have (or need to have), and usually a general idea about their appearance.  I don't even need to brainstorm much to fill out the character sheet!

I used that eager-to-start rush on actually writing.  Not filling out questions and answers.  By the time I finish filling out all those charts, I'm ready to move onto something else.  But now I can pour that energy into drafting.

We all know that during drafting, things often change.  Characters decide they want to act different than at first, maybe we realize they look different, maybe their arc changes.  And this is all fine, since nothing is set in stone with that pre-written character chart that's been filled out.

Cons to Making Character Sheets After Drafting

Drafts are more likely to be all over the place and need serious editing because these things haven't been settled.  Like, honestly, I have no idea what color Martin's eyes are or how old he is.  I think he's around 30...  It's not important for the plot so moving on.

Some people find appearances important.  They need to know what their characters look like, how they view the world, what their backstory is.  And I respect that.  I usually know at least the hair color and general age and height (not pinpoint exact) for my MCs - though those are suspect to change if the plot requires it.

You're likely to forget things.  What are their parents names?  Where were they born?  What are their fave foods?  I'M NOT WRITING THIS DOWN OKAY??

(Okay, so sometimes I do.  I have a document I keep during drafts to quick add those things in so I don't forget them.  Then I forget to look at the document.)

What if You're a Beginning Writer? What Should You Do?

Personally, I think beginner writers should start with character charts.  They are really helpful, at least at the beginning stages of writing.  Every writer at least needs to know a little about their characters - what they want, and what their arc will/should be.

I guess because I've been writing so long, I can get all that info I need out of a page's worth of character journaling, or else keep it in the back of my mind while I draft.  But when you're first starting to write, definitely look up and use character charts or sheets (or whatever you'd like to call them).

But if you're having problems writing, if the sheets are boring you, why not throw them over your shoulder and try winging it a little bit?  You don't have to go in completely blind.  As stated above, I usually just do a little bit of character journaling.  Get a reference picture, write a page of two in each character's POV, and then jump in.  You might just enjoy some discovery writing.

Midnight's Curse // Cover Reveal

Eltz castle in the morning fog 

 Today we have the cover reveal for Midnight's Curse, book two in the Beyond the Tales series by Tricia Mingerink. The Beyond the Tales is a series of fairy tale retellings set in a world of curses and gifts and an Appalachian Mountain-like setting.

So I'm sure y'all know I absolutely love The Blades of Acktar by Tricia Mingerink.  One of my top favorite series ever.  The first book of Beyond the Tales wasn't quite as exciting, but I'm not a die-hard fairy-tale retelling lover.  Even so, I'm looking forward to this next release!

Midnight's Curse releases August 6, 2019!

Scroll down to see the cover . . . . . . . . . .

  Midnight's Curse_Internet Use

Like, WOW.  All the blue.  So pretty.

 The cover was designed by Savannah Jezowski at Dragonpen Designs. You can find more examples of her work here.

About the book:

High King Alexander rules the Seven Kingdoms of Tallahatchia—a divided nation on the brink of yet another war. When an invitation arrives from the king of Pohatomie, Alex knows it must be a trap, but could it also be his opportunity to unite the kingdoms? Daemyn Rand has lived a hundred years, served an arrogant prince, fallen in love with a princess, and lost himself somewhere along the way. He has already died for his loyalty. Will he have to sacrifice his last chance to truly live? Elara Ashen is a lowly, miserable servant. All she wants is to spend one night in a fancy dress, dancing with the high king. When she is offered a pair of glass slippers, it seems all her dreams have come true. But dreams have a price, and gifts can be curses in disguise. What will it cost to stop this curse from tearing Tallahatchia apart yet again? Fairy tales meet the Appalachian Mountains in this adventurous fantasy retelling of the classic Cinderella story.

About the author:


Tricia Mingerink is the author of the bestselling The Blades of Acktar series and the Beyond the Tales series. She lives in Michigan with her family and their pack of pets. When she isn't writing, she can be found pursuing backwoods adventures across the country. You can connect with Tricia on her blog, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram To celebrate the cover reveal, Dagger's Sleep, a Sleeping Beauty retelling and book one in the series, is on sale in Kindle for $.99 this weekend!  Click here to purchase on Amazon.

Dreamy green color forest


To celebrate even more, there's a giveaway for a paperback copy of Dagger's Sleep and a 2oz Plot Twist candle by Novelly Yours Candles. To enter, share the above sale graphic for Dagger's Sleep, the cover for Midnight's Curse, or the below Midnight's Curse promo graphic and make sure you use hashtag #MidnightsCurse and tag @triciamingerink on any social media site to enter. The giveaway will end May 22 at midnight. Please note this giveaway is only open in the United States. It is not sponsored by Novelly Yours Candles.

Glass Slipper

The 20 Book Questions Game // #awesomebloggeraward

So I got tagged by Ariel at Scribes and Archers....before Camp NaNo.  And so I just kinda put this on the backburner...and anyway, yeah, finally got around to this one.  But it's cool.

Thank the person who nominated you.

Tag your post with #awesomebloggeraward.

Answer the questions you were asked.

Nominate at least 5 bloggers and inform them of their nominations.

Give them 10 new questions to answer.

What’s your favorite book by your favorite author?

I hate this question soooooooo much.  It's like someone asking what your favorite child is or something.  So I'm kinda gonna just...

The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien.

I love endings so much.  And really, it's such a beautiful bittersweet ending to an amazing trilogy.

What’s a book you couldn’t finish?

I usually finish every book I start.  Though last year I almost gave up on Promise's Prayer.  It was just...I didn't love the writing style at all and just found it a little boring, honestly.  But I pushed through.

Do you have any books you associate with songs, or vice versa?

I think of I See Fire whenever someone mentions the Hobbit. #thissongismyjam

What new release are you most excited for this year?

My brain suddenly died.  Right after it went AVENGERS: ENDGAME
(You didn't specify book so we're just gonna count that as a legal answer.)

What was the last book someone recommended to you?

*stares at massive TBR*

Honestly, I have no idea.

Buy or borrow?


E-book or audiobook?

E-book.  It's like being able to carry an entire library in my purse.  Plus, I read faster than an audio reader.

Paperback or hardback?

Paperback.  I have a bad habit of destroying books, and I don't feel so guilty about ripping hardback covers.  Plus, they're heavier, and when I carry multiple books in my purse, the less weight the better.

What’s your favorite book-to-movie adaptation?

The Black Stallion/The Black Stallion Returns

Apparently I was 3 years old when I watched The Black Stallion, and since then I've had a thing for galloping, bareback, and black horses.

What book-to-movie adaptation could you rant about for hours?

Hehehe The Hobbit.  The good bits, the bad bits....there's a lot of material to cover.  Especially since it's three movies and one book...

The Re-Tag
Snaps @ Snapper
Keturah @ Keturah's Korner

The Questions
A book you've had for a long time but still haven't read.

A book you read right after buying it.

A book you regret buying.

A series that you wish you'd bought the entirety of while you were at the store but instead you just got the first one and now you have to wait to get the others.

A book you wish they'd make into a movie.

A book you'd love to step into and never return.

A book you convinced your siblings to read and they thought they wouldn't like it but they actually did.

Computer or notebook for writing down story ideas/notes?

If you could have extra time to write some fanfiction for fun, what story would you delve into?  Would you add new characters or just use the original ones?

A book you can't wait to read.

Bonus Question: Have you seen Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse?  If so, thoughts?  (I happened to be listening to it as I type this post, so...yeah.  But anyway, go forth and have fun!)


I would never describe my family with the word "pyromaniac."  (Maybe I should?)  None of us are obsessed with fire, and we all know "not to play" with it.

Or maybe not.

Our first "fire incident" as a family was a while ago, probably around 2013 or 2014.  It was springtime, and we had been cleaning out the back pasture - raking out all the old hay from the barn and making repairs, gathering downed branches and decaying baling wire.  We piled everything into the "new" pasture (a field we'd recently cleared for the animals to graze in), and despite the sprinkling rain, managed to get a small fire going.  Sister 1 and I sat around to watch the fire, but it really didn't do much damage, since everything was damp.

Dad eventually came home from work to make some barn repairs.  Sister 1 and I went back home to leave for music lessons with our brother.  And when we returned from lessons, our parents had the first fire story to tell us.

So Dad was back at the barn, hammering away at putting up new gutters.  Occasionally he would glance across to the new pasture to check on the burn pile, but the still-sprinkling rain seemed to be enough to keep it from getting high and dangerous.  He got occupied with the gutters, and when he finally looked over again, there was more smoke than before.  He goes over to check on it...and most of the pasture grass is on fire!

So he grabs his phone and calls Mom.  "Stay by your phone - I may need you to call the fire department."  Then he begins dousing the flames with water from the nearby water trough.  It works - but slowly.  He calls Mom to come back and help, and they are both able to put the fire out before it reaches the woods line.  They kept an eye on it for the rest of the day, but thanks to the (now harder) rain, the flames didn't flare up again.  (And, thankfully, the fire department was only a few miles down the road, so if things ever got out of hand, it wouldn't be so for long.)


Our second "fire incident" was not as exciting...the next spring we were preparing more sections for the beehives.  A few of the wood chambers were too old to use again, so we tossed them onto the little fire pit in the backyard.  Essentially, the flames from that little burning caught the grass on fire, and then some of the nearby stacked hay on fire...but again, God protected us and we had the spigot with a hose right there to quickly douse the flames.  Just had us excited for a minute or two.


The third fire also had to do with bees.  We were back by the barn, checking on the hives, and Dad was using his smoker - essentially a tea-pot looking thing, where you build a small fire inside.  The smoke comes out the tiny "spout" which the bees smell and think the hive is on fire...they quickly rush to the honey and eat it up to save it, which them makes them too fat and sugary to sting you as you check on the hives.  (Bees are kind of stupid sometimes.)

Daddy took off his shirt and tossed it in the back of the truck, leaving on his white undershirt (because the color white doesn't bother the bees...which again is stupid, because a bright white thing is kinda scary, honestly...)

Once finished with the bees, Daddy dumped out the little ashes from the smoker onto the tailgate of the truck.  (Not in the grass, we don't need another fire, lol.)  We drove around the pond for a fun drive, and then started to drive back around the road to the house.  My brother was riding in the back of the truck, and suddenly begins banging on the back window.  We look behind us, and see the ashes from the smoker fire are flying all over the bed of the truck.  Thinking he was just wanting to get out of all the ashes, we shout, "Hang in there, we're almost home!"

We come back to the house to find Grandpappy is just leaving, so we stop beside his truck and lean out the windows to say hello.  "We've just been checking on the bees," Dad says.

"I'm just dropping off my blackberry wine recipe."  Grandpappy is talking to us, but his eyes are looking ahead - at the sight of my brother dancing a hornpipe on a flaming shirt in the middle of the road.


Our fourth incident also has to do with bees (I'm sensing a pattern here??). 

This one was closer to winter time.  We had removed some of the sections from the beehives so each hive would be smaller and easier for the bees to keep warn over winter.  Before we stored the frames, we cleaned and dried them...except it was raining out.  So we started a fire in the garage in our little black wood stove, and put the frames on top for a few minutes each to dry them off (instead of air drying outside in the rain).  Brother was in charge of this...

I'm in my room, writing (surprise surprise, I know) when Sister 1 calls from downstairs "Hey, can you come down?"

I don't look up from my typing. "Okay, yeah, be down in a minute."

"Um, we need you NOW."

Then I smell smoke.

The garage is completely engulfed in smoke, and at the far end by the back door, where the stove flames.  Brother heroically grabs the burning frame and tosses it out the back door and onto the concrete walkway, where it gets doused by the pouring rain.  We open the doors to let all the smoke out, and sort out our mistake - leaving the frame on the hot black metal of the stove for too long.


We were just trying to have a company grill-out.  Really.  We brought the old grill from the house, got hamburgers, hot dogs, chips...the whole lot.  One of our technicians started cooking the hamburgers out on the sidewalk of the main street.  We all chatted with the locals as they strolled past, walking their dogs.  Nice summer lunch.

Then the grill burst into flames.

Everyone: #panic

Basically, the grease in the drip pan caught fire.  But there we were, scrambling to put out this huge fire consuming our grill, while cars drive past and the ladies across the road in the bank are staring out the drive-through window at us.

So yeah, everyone in town knew about it.


I'd hoped we'd learned our lesson, and I think we did.  We went a while without any fire incidents.  (The local state park, however, had their own problems: a controlled burn jumped the fire line and burned about a thousand acres on the mountain.)

Then we had some fall storms and a HUGE tree fell down on the fence line in the middle pasture.  A family friend dropped in to help us chainsaw the tree to pieces and collect it all up for firewood.  And since we were outside, with a few containers of gas for the chainsaws, my Dad decides to go and burn down a few stumps from the old and dead fruit trees we had cut down earlier that year.  So he douses the stumps in gasoline, tosses a few matches, and lets them burn merrily away while we're chopping up the tree.

He goes back to inspect the stumps later, and finds that they're not burning as fast as he would like, so he starts at the top of the row of stumps and begins pouring more gasoline on.  Well, after the first stump, the flame travels right up the spout of gasoline and straight into the container.  Said plastic container goes up in flames.  My Dad, chill as ever, walks calmly down the line of stumps, pouring liquid fire left and right.  Then, in a grand finale, he tosses the burning and crumpled container of fire onto the last stump.

After some recent questioning, his response was, "Well, I figured that since it didn't explode right away, I'd be fine."

It's been some years since we've had a fire incident, so we are currently going under the assumption that our fire days are over.  At least for a while.

We tend go camping a lot once the weather gets warmer...

Words of Gold - Beta Call

A quick glimpse at the title, and you probably know what this post is about.
What:  Betrayal and Bravery Trilogy, Book One: Words of Gold
How Much:  The first three chapters.
Why:  Some extra eyes to make sure the beginning draws readers in, that the MC is likeable/relatable, and everything makes sense.
Who:  You.

Wanted to read my work?  Now's your chance.  Interested in my trilogy?  Now's your chance.  Been looking for something quick to do?*  Now's your chance.

The Blurb

Marywyn the Villager is no one special.  She’s an orphan, and certainly not a hero or a person of importance.  In fact, her only claim to fame is her extremely well-kept garden and a lovely singing voice.  So when her brother is captured by the enemy, she can only assume her family has been mistaken for another.  The attempts on her own life?  All a mistake.  The warrior trailing her every move and keeping her safe from all attacks?  Again, he must be mistaken.  And the old warrior claiming to know Marywyn's parents?  He must be misguided by his adopted son who can't talk-and who is already under suspicion for treason.

God does not make mistakes in His Providence, and everything happens for a reason.  But can Marywyn sort out all the facts before anyone else gets hurt (including herself)?

Never done this before, but here's the google form link.  Hope it works.

*if you're really really really desperate I might be nice and give you the rest of the book, but only if it's a life or death situation

April Wrap-Up

Hello everyone, and hope you had a lovely Camp NaNo and are recovering from Avengers: Endgame.

*glances at tissues and laptops and chocolate and pencils scattered across the blogosphere*

I think it'll be a while before recovery begins...

Anyway, all the pain and tears aside, I had a lovely Camp NaNo.  I managed to get myself invited (somehow) into Jane Maree's Fellowship of the Keyboards, and let me say, it was quite lovely.  Great people there, folks.  Great people.  I enjoyed getting to meet some new writing peeps and chatting with old friends.

(Though I did miss the OotP Hashtag War and Marvel Quote Challenge.)

I made my Camp Goal to get in 260 minutes of editing Rauladin.  In total, I got 8 hours and 54 minutes.  So I'm pretty happy with that.  It got me to the second part of the book, and most of the characters have been introduced now.

Favorite Read of April

I didn't read much, mostly because of Camp.  But I did start a book about Mrs. Robert E Lee, and it actually gave me a brilliant idea for a character in my trilogy.  So that's always fun.  :)

Favorite Movie of April

So I had to drive to meet a customer this month, and my car happened to have a DVD player.  So I listened to the Inkheart movie, which I haven't seen in years.  As long as you just view it as a standalone, it's not that bad.  (They totally ruined the ending so there's no hope for making books 2 and 3; but on it's own, it's not that bad.) 

Anyone else watched it before?

Daily Bible Reading Plan

On track.  :)  So excited that I've been staying on track, and hopefully I'll be able to complete it this year!

The Inevitable Photo Dump

My favorite part!!

Evan attacking a huge tree with a chainsaw.

Someone discovered the joys of trotting!

Look at that smile!

The hallway light looks like some little fairy or something...

Running with the family.

Getting Bree in shape for Ride and Tie season.

Went to one of those "eat out on main street" deals.

The chicks got moved outside!
I also got to meet Sarah for lunch Tuesday!  I had to do a second work trip which took me close to her house, so we met for Thai and chatted for an hour.

Hope y'all had a great April, and I'm looking forward to May!!

Shared WIP Tag - Ultimate Goals

Well, it's wrap-up time.  Camp NaNo and April is coming to a close.  I'll be back on Monday with a monthly wrap-up post, and get you stats on this round of Rauladin edits.

What is one of the BIGGEST dreams or goals you have for your life?
Getting published both traditionally and independently.  I'd love to try both ways and learn the ins and outs of both.

Name the wildest goal you’ve got! (Don’t worry: we won’t judge.)
Haha, so I'd really like to train a Mustang.  Or even just raise and train a foal.  Basically, I'd like to take a horse that knows next to nothing, and train it to be at least a nice trail mount.  I've "finished" younger horses by putting miles on them, but never trained them from the very beginning yet.

This is basically me all the time.

What goal scares you the most? Why?
Kinda scared to train a horse, since I could really mess things up if I rushed through the whole process.  But with publishing...what if my family or friends read my books and be like "why'd you write this particular thing?"  Or my parents are going to read it and wonder "Where did we go wrong??"

What steps do you need to do to reach some of your goals?
I just need to have patience and keep learning, and keep practicing.  I may not be ready to accomplish these goals this year, but the more I keep at it, the more I'll learn, and the more skills I'll have so I can tackle these goals in the future.
(Or did you want really specific steps, like "read up on publishing, pitch and query, work with agents and editors"?  Cause you ain't getting those.)

Have your ultimate goals changed?  Have you decided not to do something, or to do things differently?
Well, my ultimate goals may have been pushed back, since I've decided to take my time accomplishing them and making sure I'm truly ready.  I'd rather wait a few years and publish something really good, than do it now and only put half-decent quality.

Do you plan to finish your current story ideas and then do other things in the future, or do you see yourself always having some story in the works?
Frankly, I think I'll always have some book heating up on the back burner.  I may not have writing as my main focus, but I've been writing for half an hour or so every night for over 8 years.  I can't see myself breaking that habit.

Plus, I always have ideas.  I'm sure I'm not the only writer like that.

If you could get only one book/trilogy/series published, what would it be?
I hate this question.  Who came up with this question??  *glances at google doc*  Oh.  I did.  *facedesk*

I guess I would honestly have to say the Betrayal and Bravery Trilogy.  It's closest to my heart, and I love everything about it.

But at the same time...*glances at huge Char ne Rayft folder in laptop*...doing this series would mean getting more books out at one go.  It's not quite as moving as Betrayal and Bravery, but still full of epic adventures and cool characters.

Let's just move on before I get a chance to look at the other books, or we'll be here all day.

Realistically, where do you see yourself in the future?
Doing the same stuff, honestly.  Working a day job.  Riding/running when I get home.  Writing before bed.  Reading in between it all.

Reality aside, where would you like to be in the future?
I want a huge farm, with all kinds of horses in nicely maintained pastures.  I'll work with the horses when the weather is nice, and then write and read in the evenings or hot afternoons or whatever.  Presumably I will be making tons of money with my amazing stories and sell/trade horses and give lessons and all that fun stuff.

Do you see yourself as a Writer, or just someone who writes?
When it gets down to it, I see myself as someone who writes.  I am many things - an office manager, a horse rider, a runner, a farmer, a musician, a writer.  I do all of them to the best of my ability.  I would gladly call myself "a writer" but it's not all that I am, and may not be the first thing I would introduce myself as when meeting other people.

It's been fun, y'all!  Looking forward to May!  Don't forget to check out everyone else's posts - they're probably a little more exciting than mine...

Faith, Sarah, Nicole, CatherineCeci