The Naughty List: A Holiday Writing Tag from Jenna Moreci

Find it for yourself here.


1) Provide a brief description of your novel before beginning. NO MORE THAN 5 SENTENCES.

2) If your cast is fewer than 15 characters, you can’t use the same name more than twice. If your cast is larger than 15 characters, you can’t use the same name more than once.


16-year-old Nerissa Dey is the daughter of an A-list actor. When her dad dies unexpectedly, Nerissa hurries home from boarding school to discover her mom has married her dad’s brother. Now she’s living out a Shakespeare drama and trying to avoid the tragic ending.


#1 Which character is SO into the holidays, they nearly cause a street-wide power outage from all their Christmas lights?

Mrs. Polley. Hey, she bakes cookies practically every day.

#2 Which character attends the office new years party with ONE date… and goes home with someone else?

Liam. He’s not a player or anything, he’s just easily distracted by a pretty face.

#3 Which character is more than happy to steal Hanukkah gelt from poor, unsuspecting children? [Note: Hanukkah gelt = chocolate coins]

Uncle Eoin, of course.

#4 Fill in the blanks: I saw ____[character]____ doing a whole lot more than ____[verb]____-ing Santa Claus. They were full on ____[action]____.

Rosalind; kissing; snogging.

#5 One of your characters decides to pregame before church and passes out in the middle of the Christmas service. Which character is it?

Ophelia Chase (Nerissa’s mom).

#6 Which character hasn’t been seen since winter began because they refuse to deal with the snow?


#7 Which character completely forgot about the holidays and ends up regifting to everyone?

Also Nerissa.

#8 Which character has such crappy luck, they only discover their potato allergy after pigging out on latkes?

Gwendolyn. Poor girl.

#9 The Krampus has arrived to punish your very bad characters. Which character is kinda into it?


#10 One of your characters should be on the naughty list, but has convinced Santa to clear their name. Which character is it, and what was their means of persuasion?

Nerissa’s mom Ophelia. She paid Santa off.

IWSG: Regrets?

It’s time again for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Posts go up the first Wednesday of each month. Read more posts and/or join in here.

Question of the Month: As you look back on 2017, with all its successes and failures, if you could backtrack, what would you do differently?

I recently posted a retrospective of 2017 in terms of my writing, and overall it’s been a really good year. However, that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t do some things a little differently! For one, instead of releasing one book in February and another in May, I’d have spread them out more. I had strong sales over the summer, but due to a lack of anything new (except my Moriarty story), things began slumping come October. Well, I attribute at least some of that slump to having no other big release. I know part of it is probably holidays, too. I really should write something seasonal . . .

WIPjoy #30 & 5 More Answers

30. How do your characters celebrate Halloween (or other holiday) if they do?

Nerissa isn’t much for parties, though she doesn’t mind dressing up. She thinks it’s kind of fun, actually. But she’s too old to trick-or-treat. Her ideal Hallowe’en is hanging around a bonfire.




11.Your first MC.

Uh . . . I don’t remember. Back when I wrote those Fanta-C magazines, I wrote about characters from movies and television. I’d give news on what Han Solo and Indiana Jones were up to (they were identical cousins, you know, because my mom would come home for lunch and we’d watch Patty Duke reruns).

My first original MC would have been the Hemlock sisters? My best friend and I made them up: a pair of sleuthing sisters who lived with their Aunt Miranda. Their parents had died under mysterious circumstances, so the running thread was to discover how and why their parents had died. In the meantime, they solved other mysteries in their small town.

12. Favorite trope.

I use metaphor a lot. Really, though, I’m not sure I have a favorite trope (if by “trope” you mean a common theme or structure seen in many books, television shows, and movies). I have a lot that I dislike, but few that I think: I love that! I guess maybe the repressed personality that is moved to express emotion? Because I identify with that.

13. Least favorite trope.

Oh, here it is! I don’t have a least favorite because I dislike them all equally. The chosen one/snowflake (yes, even though Cee is kind of one of these); the overwrought love triangle (again, even though Cee sort of has one); the perfect MC who still somehow thinks she’s ugly or stupid, even though guys are tripping all over themselves for her. I’m sure there are a ton more that I’m just not thinking about this minute because I try not to think about them ever.

14. Least favorite OC.

Of mine? That I made up? That’s just mean, asking me to pick on one of my literary children. I love them all, though probably not equally. I think Akkad—the MC of my thesis—might be one of my least favorite characters. If I ever go rewrite my thesis, I’ll flesh him out a bit more and make him less whiny.

15. Worst writing habit.

Procrastination, often in the form of doing just this kind of thing: blogging, tweeting, faffing about online instead of writing.

All Hallows Write

The Rules:

#1 – Provide a BRIEF description of your novel before starting.
#2 – Don’t use the same character for more than 3 answers.

Okay, so here is my brief description of my novel:

Sixteen-year-old Nerissa Dey must do her father’s ghost’s bidding by bringing his murderers to justice.

More of a log line, but whatever.

The Questions:

1. It’s Halloween night! What is your protagonist dressed up as?

Probably something she could just pull out of her closet. She’s not the type to have planned ahead and bought a costume. She might put on a gown and some makeup and be a starlet, or just wear a lot of black and go goth for the night.

2. Who in your cast refuses to dress up and shows up at the Halloween party without a costume?

Well, if that’s an option, probably Nerissa.

3. Which character wears the most outrageous costume, and what would it be?

Nerissa’s mother Ophelia. She loves attention. So she’d definitely be in something slinky and eye catching. Maybe the Queen of Hearts.

4. On Halloween, werewolves, vampires, and zombies are on the prowl. Which of your characters gets caught in their clutches, and which creature do they subsequently turn into?

Poor Gwendolyn. This might be her fate. She’d be a werewolf, but a very cute and sweet one.

5. Who wins the contest for best costume?

Rosalind? Probably Rosalind.

6. Who hands out toothbrushes to the trick and treaters?

This is unintentionally funny (you’ll see why when you read the book). Um, Uncle Eoin. Cuz he sucks.

7. Which two of your characters decide to pair up and do an angel/devil costume together?

Rosalind and Gwendolyn would do this. Rosalind as the devil, of course, and Gwendolyn as the angel.

8. Someone is too scared to even attend the Halloween party. Who is it?

This could also be Gwendolyn.

9. Who overdoses on Halloween candy and ends up sick?

Liam? He’s kind of big and dumb and

10. Which character is most likely to place a curse/hex on someone and who would they curse?

Ophelia (Nissa’s mom) is nasty enough to do it. But I don’t think she’d curse Nerissa since she (Ophelia) is very aware of appearances. So she’d curse Nissa’s best friend Bea, just to get at Nerissa, or possibly to drive them apart.

Your turn! You can grab the rules and questions from this Tumblr page. #AllHallowsWrite


The winter break is over and my kids went back to school today. I’d say things are getting back to normal, but they aren’t, really—just before the holidays, my youngest broke his leg. So he has a full-leg cast and is in a wheelchair, has to be carried up and down the stairs and to and from the bathroom (well, he can use his wheelchair in the downstairs bathroom). I’m definitely getting my weightlifting in.

Still, I’ve managed to make progress with my work over the break, partly because we were more housebound than planned. We couldn’t do all the outings we’d originally thought to do, what with one of us in a wheelchair, and then the rain set in and kept us mostly indoors as well. This allowed me to finish rewrites on Brynnde and send ARCs to my brave volunteers. If you’d like to be an advance reader for my books, be sure to sign up for my newsletter there on the sidebar; I offer ARCs when I have new releases.

Now it’s back to The Great Divide (aka Changers 2). Time to get back into the swing . . . I hope you’ve had a productive start to your year as well!

‘Tis the Season (for Hallowe’en Movies)

I’m not a gore person. I don’t do movies that involve hacking and lots of blood. But I love a good psychological thriller or dark comedy. Here I’d like to mention a couple lesser-known films that I’ve enjoyed.

mrfrost1. Mister Frost

This gem from 1990 shows Jeff Goldblum just prior to his big Jurassic Park moment. I’ll admit, my best friend and I found it equal parts hilarious and disturbing. Goldblum has some amazing lines, like (to the best of my memory): “Oh, yes, the bodies. I was just finishing burying them as you were walking up.” It’s been years since I’ve seen this movie, but I’d love to watch it again. As I recall, there was something about cake—Goldblum, playing the titular Frost, baked cakes then took pictures of them and dumped them in the trash. But that’s only the start. Once they put him in the psychiatric ward, things gets increasingly sinister. “Soon. Soon you’ll be on my side of the mirror . . .”

2. The Last Supperlastsupper

Perfect for this election season. In this film, a gathering of frustrated liberals decide to turn their dinner parties into murdering sprees so they can rid themselves of rightwing pundits. As with Mister Frost I don’t remember many details, but I do recall the Shonen Knife cover of “Top of the World” being fabulous as it played over the end credits. And I remember liking the movie in general.

You have to take into account that when Mister Frost came out I was 14 and when The Last Supper came out I was 19. It might very well be that, should I go watch these again, I’d find them abysmal. At the very least I’m sure they’re dated. But that’s sort of the fun thing about these kinds of movies, too—special effects aside, being dated only adds to their charm rather than detracting from it.

Do you have any favorite Hallowe’en movies? Oldies but goodies? Have any of you had the joy of watching either of these two movies? If so, I want to hear about it in the comments!

Happy Easter!

To all who observe the holiday, I hope you have a lovely one! To everyone else, I hope you at least have a great Sunday.

You don’t have to be religious to enjoy the candy aspect of Easter. It fills the stores; there is no escaping it. So it seems like a good time to list some of my favorite (and least favorite) treats.


3. Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs. While I generally love any and all things Reese’s, the Peanut Butter Eggs are the best because they have the exact right ratio (to me) of peanut butter to chocolate.

2. See’s Scotchmallow Eggs. See’s has this wonderful combo of marshmallow and butterscotch caramel that knocks my socks off. Love this stuff!

1. Cadbury Chocolate. Not necessarily their eggs, which are okay, but I actually prefer their straight-up chocolate bars. And I’m talking the real UK Cadbury’s, not the pale US imitation. Accept no substitutes!

Thumbs Down:

3. Cadbury Mini Eggs. Yes, I know, I just named Cadbury as my #1 favorite! But these candy-coated eggs turn me off. I don’t at all enjoy the candy shells.

2. Malted Milk Ball Eggs. Similar to the Cadbury Mini Eggs. Maybe candy shells are really my problem.

1. Peeps. Yup, I fall on the “dislike” side of the Peeps spectrum. Despite my love for Scotchmallow, I’m not actually much of a marshmallow fan.

What about you? Any favorite or least favorite Easter candies? Or candies in general? Let me know in the comments!