Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The Christmas Dragon & Strings by Ruthanne Reid Creating Characters & Giveaway

*The Christmas Dragon*

All Katie Lin wants is to get away from her family: from the magic, from the mayhem, and from the never-ending war.

Unfortunately, someone has other ideas, and sends her a box. A box that jumps.

The tiny fire hazard inside may just force her back to Wales - and right into the path of a dragon war, the Crow King, and at least one reluctant elf prince. Sometimes, running away just doesn't work as planned.


Need help? You probably shouldn't ask Grey.

A runaway Unseelie prince, Grey feeds on love -  a commodity he conjures via music and magic in late-night Manhattan. It's a sweet gig, if lonely, and Grey is almost sure the dire warnings he was given about New York in December won't come true.

Then a monster from his childhood attacks in the middle of the night, and everything changes. 

He survived, but he's marked, and more monsters are coming for him and everyone who survived. Grey has no plans to be a hero but fate doesn't care what he wants. Sometimes, no matter what you do, you aren't the one pulling the strings.

Creating Characters:
Most of my characters appear without permission in my head, often when I’m in the middle of doing something else. My favorites, however, are all inspired by music. And that part is really funny:  the lyrics almost never have anything to do with it. It’s the sound of the music, the feel of it, and the atmosphere it creates. One of my most recent short stories follows a sentient Dream without a name, and he came from the song Lead Me Home, by Jamie Commons.
Once the characters are born, however, it’s time to get to work. I have a basic set of questions to ask them.
  1. What do they look like? This matters because it determines how other people respond to them, even if they themselves are not consciously aware of it. Of course, this can be tricky; characters don’t always know what they honestly look like, so they only give me how they THINK they appear.
  2. What People are they from? In my universe, there are Seven Peoples of the earth, into which categories fall every single beast and magic-using creature in existence. This detail determines background, family, politics, religion, even the kind of magic used (if they have any). To apply it prosaically, if a character is human, I need to know where they live and how they make a living.
  3. How are they connected to the rest of the universe? A simpler way to ask this might be, why do they matter? This doesn’t mean that each character has to have an impact on the entire world. It means that their story has to do something. It needs to evoke a specific emotion, lend to world-building, explain an activity or background-fact that touches on other characters and stories.
Usually, if I can answer these three questions, I already have a story for them. Sometimes the answers come slowly; I don’t need to have them all at once. Characters often reveal personal details in the course of the story.
I confess I love every single one of my characters, even the ones I want to hit. The adage is true: everybody thinks they’re right. This means even the most heinous characters believe what they’re doing is justified. Knowing that means I can get into everybody’s head and see things from their points of view – their fears, their passions, their needs. I really believe if you can’t love your character, then you don’t really know them the way they know themselves.

The Christmas Dragon

The box jumped.

Boxes are not supposed to jump. It’s a law somewhere, I think. Maybe Guyana. Apparently not in New Hampshire, because the box kept jumping.

I sat in my idling car, puffs of exhaust rising in my rear-view mirror, and stared at the uncoordinated box-dance. It was wrapped in the loveliest paper, too, which was a shame, because bouncing on my boot-scraper had roughened all the corners and torn one edge. The bow was big and purple and covered in small green somethings. I wasn’t close enough to make them out.

I didn’t want to be close enough to make them out.

If I didn’t do something soon, the neighbors would notice. The box probably hadn’t been jumping all morning, or there’d be a crowd. Or maybe it was already on YouTube. I didn’t know.

So much for a safe, boring life among the Ever-Dying. New Hampshire, you have failed me.

I turned off the car. Time to go see what invaded my (mostly) magic-free space.

AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Indie author Ruthanne Reid writes about elves, aliens, vampires, and space-travel with equal abandon. She is the author of the series Among the Mythos, and believes good stories should be shared. Subscribe to her free email newsletter for free books and more at You can connect with her on Twitter (, Facebook (, or Tumblr (, where she looks at too many kittens and Avengers blogs.

Ruthanne’s love of magic, urban environments, and deep space birthed a strange world with undercurrents of faith, magic, villainy, and heroism (along with swords and lasers, on occasion). Among the Mythos showcases aliens with all-too-human feelings, entire societies on the decline due to greed and fear, protagonists who might actually be the bad guys (or vice-versa), and endings every bit as messy as the world that creates them.

Ruthanne knows from experience that endings are messy. No matter how exotic the setting, how many limbs the characters have or what (if any) genders, the problems and questions addressed by a good story are very real, and that’s why they have power. If she has a theme, it is this: keep fighting, and keep pushing toward hope, because the struggle is worth the finish-line.


Buy Links for The Christmas Dragon:

Buy Links for Strings:

Ruthanne will be awarding a $50 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour, and a $15 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn host.
The more you comment, the better your chances of winning. The tour dates can be found here: 
a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Great cover and interesting excerpt!

  2. I enjoyed reading about how you create your characters. I thought it was interesting they are inspired by music.

  3. What fascinating excerpts. They sound really unique and great stories.

  4. I enjoyed your three questions to your characters, which would result in your characters being more developed and a live.

  5. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  6. The excerpt was fun! I love the voice she's given to this character. The one thing that I wonder about is the YouTube mention. I'm curious what authors' opinions are, if they think they should avoid technology. You never know if YouTube will fall, and then 15-20 years down the road, no one will get that reference. I think it can cause a book to feel dated, and that just sucks. When you fall in love with a story, you want others to love it, too. The other problem is consistency, because what if there's some major change in between novels and something is in the story that doesn't feel like it belongs? I'd read the new books Caroline B Cooney put out in her Face on the Milk Carton series, which had something like 10 years between the new one and the previous one. All of a sudden, iPads were brought in. I think everyone who gets a little twitchy over this stuff realizes that it's fiction, but it just feels so off that you can't help it. I do really want to check out The Crimson Dragon now, though!! Please send me a dragon by Fedex 2-day, please :)

  7. Thank you for describing how you create your characters.