Characters Come Alive


Darlene Jones – Author



Hi, I’m Curtis. Mrs. Jones—that’s her on the camel—put me in one of her books called EMBRACED. Sounds pretty mushy to me. Anyway, she says I have to tell you a little about the story.

Miss D, my school principal came to me one day with this page of scribbles. She thought it was some kind of code and she wanted me and my buddies to try to figure it out. I like Miss D and all. She’s not bad for an adult. You can talk to her and she doesn’t make fun. But, sheesh, a code from aliens? Anyway, to keep her happy, I said I’d help.

Thing is, once I started studying the scribbles, I could see messages. I told Miss D that Coder Guy (that’s the name Miss D gave to whoever was sending the messages) wanted her to fix things. Of course she asked what things? I didn’t know so I made up some stuff. Miss D wrote letters to newspapers using my ideas and the things she asked for started to come true.

Kinda spooky, eh? But fun too. Secretly I wished Coder Guy could get rid of my zits and help me lose weight so I wouldn’t be such a geek. I didn’t tell Miss D that, but Coder Guy must have read my mind or something cause now I’m taller and better looking and the girls are starting to talk to me. Miss D says everyone changes, but for me it happened awfully fast so I think Coder Guy did it.

Now Miss D is in the hospital. She’s all screwed up by the messages and the letters and this guy named Sam. I think she really liked him, but he dumped her or something and that sent her over the edge. I’m going up to the hospital to see her now.

Oops, Mrs. Jones just told me not to say too much. Doesn’t want any spoilers for her book so you’ll have to read it to find out what happens. Gotta go see Miss D now. Hope you like the book.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000026_00038]

Here’s an excerpt from “Embraced.”

“More drawings?” Curtis gestured at the papers she held.

Abby looked down at the pages and willed her hand to stop trembling. The three pages of code drawings seemed to shimmer and shiver with a life of their own. “Yes. Three pages. From Friday, Saturday, and last night. They’re pretty … they’re … pretty well done, I’d say.”

But Curtis was no longer listening.  He waved the papers she’d just handed him and almost shouted with excitement. “These are amazing. Way better than the first drawing you brought us.”

Abby stifled a small grin, but she had to agree. The drawings outclassed her scratches a million times over. “My friend developed instant artistic talent.”

“I’ll say.” Curtis shuffled the pages back and forth. He shook his head slowly and muttered “wow” over and over. Finally he looked up at her. “Miss D, thanks for getting so many. Now we have four to compare. We’ll see if there are any repeated patterns or sequences of symbols. Your friend is great to share these with us.”

“No problem.” Oh God, I’m such a liar. Of course there was a problem, and not just because she was lying to Curtis. My friend. How lame was that? The mere existence of the pages was the real problem. Some nights the clickings chattered incessantly in her fillings, almost driving her crazy. Those were the nights of very little sleep. The weekend had been eerily silent. That was a new phenomenon since Friday—no clickings. Instead Coder Guy had begun leaving the pages filled with drawings. Either way—no escaping the code.

A while back, she’d grown tired of sharpening the pencil she used each night and replaced it with a pen, which was now almost out of ink. She’d have to remember to get out a new one tonight. Or maybe not? What would happen if there was no writing utensil?

“What’s so funny?” Curtis asked. Abby hadn’t realized she’d laughed out loud. The lack of pen wouldn’t stop her night visitor. She stifled another burst of laughter she knew bordered on hysteria. Truth was, much as the pages of code scared her, she’d be devastated if no more came. The person—being, alien, Coder Guy—was an integral part of her life now; his existence had established a rhythm that kept her balanced. Or so she thought. Maybe she was completely off her rocker.

Whatever the case, she didn’t want to lose that contact. Coder Guy’s presence warmed her, kept her from feeling alone and lonely. Oh, man, I am losing it here. Really losing it.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000026_00038]

You can find Darlene Jones’ book, Embraced, at these locations:


Apple ibook:

Shades of Appley Green

Miriam Wakerly

Miriam Wakerly

Miriam Wakerly is my first guest on this blog dedicated to authors and writing. Her first two books are about gypsies, and although the degree of warmth  in the reception of gypsies in her English villages varies, Miriam’s depiction of the social and cultural interactions is done even-handedly, without prejudice. Her novels are told truthfully, yet with empathy on all sides.

Her latest book, Shades of Appley Green, is about life and love in a small English village.

Miriam will tell us a bit about herself and let us in on some of the secrets of how she chooses her setting and her characters.

Welcome, Miriam!

Drop by for a cup of tea in Appley Green!

First of all, may I give a big thank you to Anneli for inviting me onto her beautiful blog. I am humbled by the wealth of spectacular photographs on wordsfromanneli and more recently on Anneli’s Place. Landscape is so much in the forefront of her books, it is not surprising that scenes of the natural world figure strongly, but these are really entertaining too.

I live in Surrey, England and I hope you are fond of English villages because that is where all my novels are set. My first two, Gypsies Stop tHere and No Gypsies Served go together but you could read either one first. As for their theme – well, the clue is in the titles.

Appley Green is a charming English village. Everyone says so. But people are still people. With the emotional turmoil that comes with love, birth, and death, a close-knit community can harbour betrayal and guilt, as well as joy and laughter.” This is from the back cover of my third novel, Shades of Appley Green. Here’s another description from the Prologue. “Nestling quietly in a middle-England wasteland of sandy heath, Appley Green straddles the boundaries of two counties southwest of London.”

"Appley Green"

“Appley Green”

The beauty of creating your own village is that you can gather together the best features of places you know and blend them to make somewhere special, yet quite realistic: a sunny village green that is the community hub, a thriving row of small but inviting shops, a caring culture that discourages traffic. Although within easy reach of London, it is  “…a village not blighted by the throb and fumes of through-traffic.”

"Appley Green"

“Appley Green”

Do you feel tempted to go there? Perhaps sample some buns from the local bakery or browse awhile in the gift shop?

This bird lives happily ever after in Appley Green.

This bird lives happily ever after in Appley Green.

But this is just the setting. It is the people and their fascinating lives, filled with troubles and joy, that bring the village alive. I have worked in the community for real, visiting people in their homes and have seen all sides of life, including secrets often kept behind closed doors. I never borrow real people to create my characters, but a few individuals have provided inspiration. I am interested in aspects of social change and community life as well as complex family relationships and, of course, romantic love. My books are not rose-tinted but … well, perhaps read some comments from other people who have read them, rather than what the author says. Readers know best!

So what genre are my books? I think genre is becoming less easily defined with the new freedoms that authors have nowadays. They are not romance, but have a love story; they are not thrillers yet, one reviewer says, “… the kind of gripping you only normally experience with crime novels.” She also uses words like “tantalising” and “cliffhanger.” Perhaps they fall into that elusive category, “literary fiction.” Another author recently helped define this to me as a book “with a message;” so maybe they are. But they are not heavy reading, they are, to use a cliché, “page-turners.”

Shall we say they are popular/literary/village/family/community/easy-reading/social-comment with love story.

Thanks for sharing your time with me. See you in Appley Green.

A  great read!

A great read!

All books are in Paperback and on Kindle

Here’s my blog

Join me there too.

Shades of Appley Green is available for a few days at the special low price of $3.00 or £1.89 on Kindle.

Orion’s Gift

Baja Camping

Baja Camping

palapa 2

A few years ago while dry camping in Baja, our friends, veteran campers in this area, showed us the way to a spring about a 45-minute hike from our camp. In this semi-desert landscape a spring of sweet water was a rare find.

Once away from the ocean, everything looked the same in the desert. I was glad of the friends’ experience, as it would have been easy to get lost. The way to the spring was marked by cairns of rocks. It was a lot of faith to put in a pile of rocks, but it worked well enough that day.

Many types of cacti dotted the landscape, all of them prickly. Hidden dangers lurked all around. Coyotes and cougars prowled after dusk. Smaller creatures like tarantulas, snakes, and scorpions might be anywhere, just minding their own business, but terrifying all the same.

We passed by an old dry well, not covered, or marked, or barricaded. In the dark anyone could walk right into it and drop thirty feet onto rocks below.

On account of the heat, sun hats, sunscreen, and bottles of water were a must.

Times are different now but in those days, the chances of stumbling onto drug dealers  were minimal. I felt perfectly safe when, a few weeks after finding the spring with our friends, I went for a hike by myself.

Later when I mentioned to our host at the beach where we were staying that I’d been for a nice hike in the back country, he waggled a finger at me and shook his head. He warned me not to go by myself again. It was no place for a woman alone.

Path to the spring

Path to the spring

The Spring

The Spring

Still, with such a perfect setting, I couldn’t resist putting this trip to the spring into my novel, Orion’s Gift, about two young people who meet and fall in love in Baja. Sylvia, a beautiful California girl, leaves her upscale home near San Diego after receiving an upsetting letter. She meets Kevin, an Alberta man, who, after receiving a substantial inheritance from his father, leaves a bad marriage behind. Their love seems perfect until they learn that their spouses are tracking them down.

In this excerpt, against the advice of her host, Alfonso, Sylvia has gone to the spring for a quiet day of sketching.

Orion's Gift

Excerpt from Orion’s Gift

I was disappointed when I first saw the spring a few weeks ago, but I had my water bottle and didn’t need the spring water to be drinkable. The water level of the pool was even lower now and smelled a bit skunky, but it provided water for a good-sized palo verde nearby. The area to the back of the spring was a cool oasis on a hot day. Large flat rocks and smooth boulders under the tree made perfect tables and chairs for sitting and doing my sketching.

A light breeze made the late afternoon heat bearable, and I soon became absorbed in my work. I had a good collection of the various types of cacti in my sketchbook. I ran my hand over the book’s cover. Kevin gave me that. The first day I met him. Sweet of him. I closed my eyes to go back to that day. My brow furrowed and I opened my eyes again. What was that whiff of something in the air? An awful smell. Then it was gone. I looked around. Everything was quiet except for the buzzing of a few flies someplace nearby. Maybe it was the skunky water of the spring. Never mind. I picked up my pen to get back to my drawing. The beautiful palo verde took shape on my pages. I was happy with the results.

I took a break and ate my orange. Back to work again. But oops, sticky fingers. I could use my drinking water, but why waste it when I had spring water. I climbed around the boulders back down to the spring. It had a bit of green stuff growing on the surface, but there was plenty of clear water near the edge and I only needed a wee bit to swish the orange juice off my fingers. Actually, the water didn’t smell bad at all.

Back at my makeshift drawing station, I finished the last drawing. Twice more my nose wrinkled at some awful smell, always when the wind changed direction. Finally it wasn’t pleasant to stay there anymore. I packed my things. It was getting late anyway. Carefully, I picked my way among the boulders, back down to the spring. A gust of wind brought the most horrible smell my way. I almost vomited. Must be a dead animal someplace nearby. Curious now, I checked behind some of the bigger boulders. I found nothing, but the smell grew stronger. The buzzing of flies grew louder. Wings flapped past me and over my head. I ducked and tried to still my pounding heart. A second large bird flew up from a pile of rocks. What on earth was that heap of clothes doing out here? The smell was nauseating. I wanted to run, but I had to know what it was. The mound of clothes … had the shape of a man. A man without a head. My eyes widened and I clamped my hand over my mouth as I screamed. I wanted to let loose and scream out my terror, but I immediately thought, What if whoever did this was still nearby? Oh my God! A man’s body. I think! But there’s no head. It can’t be real. But the flies, the vultures. Then I saw it. A few feet away on a big flat rock lay the head, eyes gone, tongue hanging out, bloodied and torn. He looked familiar. I let out a shriek and, gasping for breath, I ran. I ran, not knowing or caring where I was, as long as it was away from the horror of what was once Manuel.

Orion’s Gift is available for Kindle on

and at for all e-reader types: The paperback version is available at both sites as well.

Also by Anneli Purchase, The Wind Weeps, available on

and at