Tag Archives: books

Character Morality

KohlbergWriters love creating characters. Personality. Physical Appearance. Dress. Mannerisms. Dialog: It’s what we do!  It’s how authors bring characters to life.

But did you stop to think about your characters’ morality, or more specifically, what level of morality they have achieved? Creating a character with moral issues, flaws, or strengths can add depth and understanding, often justifying and explaining why the character did what they did.

Let’s look at Kohlberg’s Levels of Moral development:

Pre-Conventional Morality

Stage 1: Obedience & Punishment Orientation:  Age: 9 & under. Standard of behavior is determined by adults and the physical consequences of following and breaking the rules. Child avoids punishment by good behavior. Child believes that if a person is punished they must have done something bad.

Stage 2. Individualism and Exchange. Child realizes authorities ( parent, teachers etc) may have more than just one right view and that different individuals will have different viewpoints.

Conventional Morality

Stage 3: Good Interpersonal RelationshipsAge: Most adolescents & adults. Moral standards are internalized by those authority figures the individual deems right/moral. These authority figures are not questioned. Any and all reasoning conforms to the group’s perspective. The individual is good because they want others in the group to view them as good. They need the approval of their group.

Stage 4. Maintaining the Social Order. The rules of society are important to the individual. Rules are obeyed to maintain law/rules and to avoid guilt.

Post-Conventional Morality: 
Individual judgment is based on self-chosen principles, and moral reasoning is based on individual rights and justice. This occurs in only 10–15% of adults and not before the mid-30s.


Stage 5. Social Contract and Individual Rights. ONLY 10-15% OF ADULTS REACH THIS STAGE and rarely before their mid-30s. The individual idealizes that while laws/rules serve the good of the majority, the laws/rules can also work against specialized groups/minorities. Thus, Right and Wrong are not clear cut.

Stage 6: Universal Principles: Individual understands that justice, equality, and human right issues are not law/rule governed. These individuals will break rules/laws to defend the greater moral principles even if if it means imprisonment or society’s disapproval. Very few reach this stage.

6 ethical typesNow let’s look at 6 ethical types. This is courtesy of The UK Times.

Philosophers are good at solving tough ethical dilemmas. They will break the rule/laws if a higher principle is at stake.

Angels  believe being good to others is important. They give people the benefit of the doubt and give second chances rather than stand on principle. 

Enforcers enforce the rules. They often lack empathy

Judgers believe moral principles are important. They’re good at solving tricky moral principles, yet tend to lack empathy.

Teachers do the right thing for humanity because it’s the right thing to do. They may break the rules if they think they know what’s best.

Guardians believe in doing what they are told to do because it’s the best course of action for everyone. Greater moral ideals are rarely considered.

Does your story require delving deeper into your character’s morality?
  • What is your character’s ethical type?
  • Where do they fall on Kohlberg’s moral development scale?
  • Are your characters acting inconsistently with their type or moral level?
  • What self-revelation causes them to change?
  • Is the change good or bad?
  • Do you need to flesh out a character’s morality?
  • Will you be able to convince a reader of their epiphany?

Related links: Readin’ & Writin’

Genre Breed

dog readingbookAgents, publishers, bookstores, and Amazon require authors to identify a novel’s genre. It’s not always an easy task. Wouldn’t it be great if genres were as easy to classify as dogs?  By replacing the word genre with breed writers will identify target audiences more quickly and readers will discover the reading experience they were searching for.

So today, this blog has gone to the dogs!

Sporting genre/breed: Written for retrieving, these novels are best enjoyed in hard copy because the reader will refer to them again and again, annotating in the margins, and dog-earring favorite pages. The sporting genre is perfect for pointing out fowl/foul symbols and watery archetypes


Hound: Serious literature designed for authorial technique hunting, readers will delight in sniffing out important themes and deer/dear allusions, howling their foxy literary analysis to all.

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Toy: Light and adorable novels that contain glamorous fluff or posh plots. Some have a bit of bite (BDSM) to them, while others lick you with giggles.The perfect size for your e-reader.


Herding: Novels in a series that come together, gathering characters across a range of sub plots and adventures.  Linked by themes or overarching plot, these novels are branded to build readership with each new book.


Terriers: Novels that eagerly scurry down the literary hole to expose man’s rat-like proclivities. Although their plots shed light upon varmint dogmas and critter-filled creeds, they are endearing tales that roll over for a good belly rub.


Working: Action-packed novels with a taste for adventure: Expect daring rescues, growling characters, mastiff-tastic heroism, and dog-on good sex. These novels work hard so the reader won’t have to.


Non-sporting: Bursting with energy and tale-wagging dialog, these novels are drool-worthy reads. From the elegant-clipped poodle-ish exposition to the requisite bitchy stereotype to the spirited climax, the reader can expect intelligent plotting and obedient language. Fans of non-sporting genres are loyal and devoted.


Which breed of book do YOU prefer to read or write?

(I’m saving cross-breeds for another blog.)


Related links: Readin’ & Writin’


Countless Club Cards

securedownload (1)My wallet is FAT, heavy with plastic.

Not with credit cards—goodness no.

Bulky with those cards that EVERY store believes is necessary to hand out to receive “points,” “savings,” and   “discounts.” They tell you the cards are “valuable” and “redeemable.” Whatever.

I don’t want any more plastic!

                                                                                 Stop with the cards already!

Plastic currently taking up space in my cashless wallet:
  • Starbucks card: $ remaining= 0.00
  • Vons
  • Albertsons
  • Price Club
  • Ralphs
  • ClubBev (used once )
  • Off Fifth
  • Sephora ( points add up when you buy for 2 daughters)
  • Ulta ( see above)
  • Staff ID

Those are the cards are in my wallet, another stack of plastic is in the purse’s side pocket. Gift cards!  But I would NEVER complain about gift cards!

Yesterday, while I was buying something at the mall, the clerk asked for my zip code and email. I was paying cash! (Cash…you remember…it’s green, has wings, the government prints lots of it, and you don’t have any if you have teenagers.)

I digress.

I already get a zillion ( a slight exaggeration)  emails from every store I ever purchased anything from. Does that form of marketing actually work? I just delete all the ads. Do you?

So back to my  rant complaint  about all those ever-so-important plastic cards.

I’m thinking about pairing down. Way down. I’ll just bundle them up and leave them in the glove box until I need them. But you know I’ll forget to take out that super saver plastic and I’ll be standing in line sans club card.

Just like I usually forget to bring in my cloth grocery bags. (They’re in the trunk–outta sight–outta mind. Plus, my mind is usually busy thinking about the novel I’m writing.)

How many super-saver-discount-value-preferred-rewards club cards are in your wallet?

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Body Language: How to tell when someone’s lying

I teach my senior high school students how to be mindful of their body language, especially since many colleges require personal interviews. Most people don’t think about how their body language transmits a multitude of impressions. After reading several body language books by Tonya Reiman I was surprised and amazed with the ways I was unwittingly giving off the wrong vibes.

Here’s a few examples

  • Tucking in chin= anger
  • Lifting chin= winning attitude
  • Jutting chin= confidence ( maybe, too much)
  • Chin resting  on cupped hand= bored
  • Chin resting on top of hand=interested ( a good move to know with superiors, colleague, relatives, and  long-winded friends)
  • Leaning back in chair=bored, disinterested
  • Leaning forward in chair= interested, eager

Group dynamics:

  • Feet all pointed within the circle= do not enter; closed group
  • Crossed arms= do not enter
  • One  or more individuals with foot  or body pointed away from group= OK to enter group near that person

Signs someone is lying (works best if you know the person):

  • Higher pitched voice
  • Clearing throat,  uumms, hesitations
  • A pronounced lilt at the end of the sentence
  • Shorter replies
  • Changing tenses, repeating oneself
  • Using words like everyone, everybody, always, never ( used by teens everywhere!)
  • Increased swallowing
  • Perspiration on upper lip
  • Colloidal artery throbbing ( the neck)
  • Blinking  more than usual
  • Putting hands/fingers to one’s mouth
  • Touching one’s nose
  • Either an increase or decrease in body movements
  • Saying yes but shaking head no, and visa a versa (words don’t match gestures)
  • Either increased or decreased eye contact ( some people think if they stare  you will mistake this for honesty—it’s usually a ploy or an intimidation tactic)
  • Doing something distracting to buy more time while they think of a response ( cough, look at phone, pet the dog)

 How to seem interested in a boring meeting:

  • Tilt head to the right
  • Smile at person speaking
  • Blink more ( we decrease blinking when we’re bored)
  • Nod at appropriate times
  • Shift body if you’re starting to doze ( it should wake you up a bit)

    I am soooo bored!


You have my complete attention











Teasers, anyone?

Busy re-writing, fine-tuning, and fact checking  for The Merkabah Deception–the 2nd in the Merkabah series.

Daphne Sites and her Guide are in Ecuador where they hope to put a stop to the mysterious mass hysteria illness at a prestigious girls prep school.

Her search for answers leads to a trip to the Amazon jungle, the equator line, and visits to Quito’s most majestic cathedrals–one with spooky catacombs! Mmmm…wonder what Daphne will find there?

Daphne must also learn to work with Caesar–and arrogant and licentious Merkabah Medium with a chip on his shoulder and a few secrets to tell.

El duende, an azeman, and a keyeme are just a few of the  mythological South America creatures who come out to play in this adventure.

And S.J. shows another side of himself–one that Daphne has a difficult time accepting.

That’s all for now!