Character Sketch: Sarah Russell

Part IV- Sarah Russell

“One more win.”

—   Sarah Russell

 The stadium came to life on Sunday. A living, breathing ocean of navy blue and gold, swaying two and fro in the waning minutes before kickoff. The stadium buzzed as the field emptied signaling the beginning of the pregame fervor that the city of Fort Worth was eager to pour into their beloved Flyers. Miller Field hushed as the minute ticked down on the massive LCD screen that served as a scoreboard. They began to stomp their feet as the clock hit five minutes. It was a low rumble reverberated through the earth itself.

Sarah Russell stood in the tunnel below the stadium when Miller Field began to quake. The light from the field poured in, casting a lone silhouette as she stood off to the side leaning against the wall. Sarah extended her arm to prop herself up, feeling sick as she minutes to kickoff approached. This was the only part of the game that she couldn’t control and those sixty minutes were pure torture.

She composed herself as a whoop and holler erupted from the home locker room, which stood just around the corner of the tunnel. Sarah smoothed out her red hair, which was short and cropped around her elfin face, and took a deep breath rediscovering her smile and swagger.

The players erupted from the locker room, dashing out the tunnel in a stampede of blue and gold. They slowed down for a moment as they passed her by, giving Sarah a slap on the hand before sprinting out the tunnel. Some called her Sarah and others Mrs. Russell, but every one of them regarded her a moment as the architect of this team.

Sarah stopped a moment as the coach approached her. “Murph’ we ready for this one? I sure could use a win to get those pricks at the paper off my back.”

She slapped Murphy Deroscher on the back. He was a sturdy old man with a ball cap covering his slow-graying hair and a mustache fit for sweeping the floor. “Maybe you should have gotten a better coach,” he said in a gruff voice.

They both shared a laugh and brief embrace. “No finer one in the league then you Cap. Show them they were wrong about you.”

“Will do,” Murph said. He gave her a salute as he passed by and disappeared into the light pouring in from the field.

Sarah turned around and headed deeper into the stadium. The field wasn’t her arena and saw no need to be seen anywhere near it. She turned the corner towards the locker room when she felt her phone vibrate in the pocket of her neatly pressed black business suit.

She leaned against the wall and punched a few buttons. Sarah nearly sank to the ground when she saw the text message from their public relations department. Alton Miller is dead. Booth brought up for third quarter segment. Is that Ok?

 Sarah put her phone down for a moment and thought about it a moment. She sighed and began to type Tell them it’s fine. Prep me on questions? She walked down the hall towards the elevators, her heels clicking on the concrete floors. Sarah entered the elevator as the stadium broke out into a cheer. Then the doors closed and she went up to the luxury boxes

I’m not  that satisfied with this, but I wanted to post it anyways. Sarah is my main character and much of this story revolves around her. It’s hard to read it over again with an impartial eye because of the amount of time that goes into the research and the emotional and psychic investment I’ve made in this person.

There are some people that can start typing and a character pops up, but to me it’s a flimsy illusion and I can’t get past that when reading other people’s work. In an earlier post I mentioned that it took 80 pages of research and about a month getting to this point. About 75 percent of that is working out my characters, discovering their motivations and how they fit into the overall story arc that I am looking to tell.

Yes this is fiction and yes these are not real people, but that’s the real illusion. You know it’s an excellent character when he or she is being referred to on a first name basis. Think Harry Potter, Sherlock Holmes or Frodo Baggins. The goal is to create that kind of depth and the key to that is two-fold. One, they need the proper motivation and two the writer needs to believe they are a real person in order to convey that to the reader.

Motivation drives a charachter to do what they do within your story and without it they might as well be sitting on their ass and twiddling their thumbs. You may be asking ‘why the hell do I as an author need to believe in the character?’ Well, if you think about it, in every single dramatic problem you set up there are choices to be made as far as what they are going to do next. If you don’t know the person inside and out, backwards and forwards, there’s no way to make the accurate and believable choice.

Remember, when you sit down to write fiction, the author is no longer writing as themselves. You are making choices as the character, thinking as them and if you’ve done your homework it will feel like you are going through it as them.


Character Sketch: Alton Miller

Part III- Rashard Miller 

“The brightest stars cast the longest shadows.”

—   Will of Alton Miller, Archives of Hansen and Koch

Rashard Miller did not build New York City. To him it was simply here for the taking with the lucrative bright lights and the people of vision that seemed to trudge in and out of here with stars in their eyes or a look of defeated resignation. The city never swallowed him up, but it spit him back out with a red stain on his soul.

He built an empire out of that pain with Platinum records lining every wall of the corporate office. Rashard didn’t own the electronic video billboard in the middle of Time Square or the plasma televisions that now brought movie theaters to people’s homes, but he owned the stars that appeared in them. He owned the ones in movies, the ones in commercials— even the appear at the MET and it wouldn’t be long before the Networks would be his too.

Rashard stood atop the world he now owned in an office of gleaming black and silver. It was night time outside and Broadway glimmered, a jewel of sparkling neon florescent lights. He relaxed, allowing his arms to fall at his back, his massive frame casting a large black shadow behind him. His shadows rose up next to him, four in total with striking silver eyes in a mass of complete darkness.

“The deed is done,” they said in unison, four voices with one spirit.

“Good,” he said with a grin breaking out on his face. Rashard was nearly as black as the spirits under his command. He wore slate gray suit with silver pinstripes with a purple shirt and tie tucked neatly underneath. “Everything is in place. Lets prepare for the funeral.”

“There is one more thing.”

Rashard raised an eyebrow as the shadows cowed slightly. “Is there a problem?”

“Koch asked us to relay a message. The football team, it is not under our control.”

“That is a big problem,” Rashard said, his voice growing dangerous. “My dad has owned that property for an entire season already. Why wouldn’t it go to me?”

“This contract was not handled by our lawyers. He made an agreement with the Russell. Koch will know more.”

“DeBerg…” He said with a measure of loathing. “Tell Koch to send me the contract details.”

The shadows bowed and melted back into the darkness. They slithered across the black carpet like the wake from a deep-sea creature and under the door. Rashard turned towards his city, determined not to let any of it slip through his fingers.

I play a lot of video games and the best way to describe the challenge in writing this is in terms of a Bioware game. If you don’t know what that is Google the company or games like Mass Effect or Dragon Age II. In those games I always paragon or the “good guy” route. The characters I create in those games generally do the right thing and oddly enough, the support characters that I choose to play  with are pretty similar.

I don’t like playing the bad guys in my video games and I don’t like writing bad guy characters. Writing Antagonists are not my strong suit and Alton Miller was a challenge. To be really general about this because I’m not all that sure what is happening next in this novel, he’s about as twisted as you think he is. To get around this I had to make him  likeable to the point where the audience will still find him palatable despite all the bad things he’s about to do

I other words, think Renegade Shepard. He’s charismatic enough saves the world even though he acts like an asshole.

Character Sketches: Arvyn H. Singher









Being a Writer is very different from the practice of Writing. Being a Writer whether it’s being a journalist, memoirist, non-fiction writer, fiction writer or anything else requires two things: planning and writing. A writer that is on task is either doing one or the other and never at the same time.

Planning is a pretty broad term, but everyone does it differently. For, me it really involves one question that I answer over and over again until I’m ready to write. I take a yellow steno pad and at the top I write, “What do I need to clarify before I can move forward with this project?” List everything that comes to mind. Then I go down the list and systematically answer each ones.

When I’m finished with each one I toss away the original list and Write the question over again and generate another set of questions to answer. However long this takes really depends on what I’m writing. A 12 inch story probably takes a single sheet and maybe 10 minutes. Goddess Inc. took about a month and 80 pages of notes before I felt comfortable enough to actually write any prose.

The part I throw most of my psychic energy is in my characters. My primary concerns for this novel was how they fit into the world and rules I’ve  laid out and their motivation regarding the expectations I’ve set for the people reading this.

The product I’ve come up with below. The idea is to introduce all my characters through one connecting event. I’ll spend the next few posts going over each of them.

Part I- Arvyn H. Singher


“The loneliest place is always at the top.”

–       Arvyn H. Singher, Singher University commencement ceremony
To the class of 1975

Arvyn H. Singher stood atop the world of his own creation. Inside his office at atop a tower of steel and concrete in the middle of Central California. It was on the very plot of land his family bought and turned into a farm. They sold apples, then grapes, then strawberries until a city popped up in the middle of nowhere between San Francisco and metropolitan Los Angeles to the south. It grew so large that professional sports came to town along with movie studios and all the trappings that a big city found quite nice to settle into.

He looked out over this world and sighed as if the whole world was suddenly so heavy on his shoulders. “How did it happen?” Arvyn leaned on his dark oak desk, both hands on the top, craning his neck down towards the phone.

“Alton was shot dead in the street. He was out visiting the old neighborhoods in New York City.”

“And the spirits contracted to him were they…”

“Transferred over to Rashard. They were together when it happened. There was a Bridge near the hospital to ratify the deal then he flat lined five minutes later.”

“Who handled the contract?”

“Koch did it. The Shadows belong to Rashard now.”

Arvyn stood up and rubbed his chin, trying to process the news. He’d known Josef DeBerg a long time and like a true lawyer he had an answer ready.

“The Spirits survived, but none of us were prepared for such a quick transition.”

“I felt it Josef. I’m sure Colton and Marta felt it too.”

“Indeed, I’ll be over with the language for a new contract. From my understanding the existing terms are in place for month. Given how quickly it was drawn up, there are bound to be loopholes.”

Arvyn waved his hand, his brow creasing slightly. “Let’s take care of the funeral first then we’ll deal with this business. Alton was a friend Josef.”

“And Rashard definitely isn’t,” Josef said, always quick to end the conversation with the last word. “But I understand Arvyn. Celia is drafting a statement right now. It’ll be in your inbox for review within the hour. The story is just hitting the 24-hour news cycle right now. Somebody is bound to ask you for a statement so be ready.”

The line went dead then Arvyn ran a hand through his short, white and curly hair. “Lucia!” He called out, his voice ringing out in his enormous office, complete with a black leather couch and large flat screen television posted up on the far side of the room.

She appeared like dream, phasing into this world as if a frame skipped in the very reel of   existence. Lucia dressed in an emerald green dress with deep red hair and skin white as an angels feather. Her eyes were an earthy brown, deep as freshly tilled soil and a sad smile on her face.

Arvyn looked away, feeling ashamed at being so harsh with the goddess. She was the perfect woman he dreamed up from the City he helped build. Yggsdrasil was for those spirits abandoned to death when the dream worlds that spawned them were crushed by death.

Lucia was one of the heftiest contracts he purchased from the Realm of Truth upon which his city was built. It was from his first and only wife, before she turned her dreams away from him when he simply couldn’t pay the cost to keep their worlds together. It cost him $750 million dollars and the entire north side of Singher Valley. He later quipped to his accountant that he also lost a wife and two kids in the divorce.

“Alton is dead and the Executive Board will be meeting soon to discuss the matter. Will a week be enough to prepare Yggsdrasil for our arrival?”

“It’ll be enough time,” Lucia said, her voice gentle. “Do you need me to pick a suit for you? Perhaps a bottle of wine?”

“Yes, I have to go on television in a few minutes; make sure it looks remorseful. Celia would be awfully pissed if my attire did not match the message,” He paused a moment. “Also, a bottle of whiskey from our private stock would be best.”

Lucia bowed her head and disappeared.

Arvyn walked across the lush green carpet and around the apple tree that grew under the skylight above. It was the only other window aside from the one behind his desk that overlooked the city. The patch of sunlight cast a pale light on a tree only visible to those who could afford to see it. He touched the leaves as he passed and sat down on the leather coach.

He grabbed the remote control, pressed the power button then leaned back as the screen buzzed to life. Arvyhn stretched both hands and crossed his right leg over the left. The pant leg lifted like a curtain revealing thin black socks and polished Bruno Mali shoes.

The talking head appeared on the screen in mid sentence, “…The markets mourned today as stocks for Miller Group sagged after news broke that media mogul and multi-billionaire Alton Miller was shot dead today.”

Writing a novel synopsis

This is where you begin. At least for me, this where my idea became a became a novel. It’s the synopsis, the thing I send people when they ask me what this book is about. This took about a month to produce and about 80 pages of reference notes before I felt comfortable with doing any serious writing.

This will change after I’m done. When the plot is more fleshed out and the path from A to Z has all the other letters in filled in then the synopsis will be complete and a draft is finished. To me, it starts and ends with my synopsis. This is what the customer sees when he or picks up your book on the shelves wondering what this nicely illustrated book is about.

Goddess INC.

Money is everything.

In world where Capitalism allows faith to be brokered in the form of wealth, venture capitalists broker dreams and the spirits within them as easily as items on a budget. When multi-billionaire Alton Miller is shot to death in a spate of gang violence, it leaves a power void in more worlds than one.

Follow the benevolent fund managers Arvyn H. Singher and the mercurial Colton Hailey as they struggle with their friends death and deal with the complication of dealing with his son Rashard who has dark ambitions for his father’s powerful corporation and a legion of Shadows under his command.

Sarah Russell had no idea of any of this when she took the General Manager position with the Fort Worth Flyers football team. She was the first hire of Alton Miller when he bought the team from embattled real estate mogul Douglas Walden. His death throws her status on the team in doubt as Rashard takes over and clearly does not like her or her philosophy. On top of that she gets thrust into the middle of the power struggle between corporate billionaires and the spirits under their command as Rashard fights her for the hearts and minds of the Flyers fans and players in order to gain access to the valuable spirits locked within their dreams.