Category Archives: Proving Ground

WIP: Proving Ground Update

Proving Ground is close, oh so very close, to being ready to e-format and publish on Amazon. It has been scoured and polished by my fantastic critique partners, Karen and Amy and beta read by Jes and Stella. (They totally get my vision!!) I’ve had nothing but good constructive criticism and positive responses. Dearest Stella said she even had some tears in her eyes, in a good way of course, and that just makes me want to get drunk on mojitos and dance on tables. No, not really, I want to be badass, but I’m so not! But it does mean a lot that both Jes and Stella have had such an emotional response to Jillie and David. My book is way better because of these ladies and I owe them tremendous thanks for their efforts.

It’s been a long road for this book in it’s various incarnations but I have a clear plan in sight now. It’s an epic love story now that will span five books. I’m currently in Book 2: Exfil Point and working diligently to beef up and clean up the plot. Yeah it seems long. Five books you say? Well… Look at it this way––How many times have you watched a movie or been involved in a book and want to know what happens after the book ends? How many of you want to see how after all their stuggles to get together they actually ARE together? What happens when the lights go out and everyone goes home? Well, that’s what will happen in the Overwatch Series. Each book is another episode into Jillie and David’s relationship and their evolution from colleagues to friends to deep and ever-lasting love.
So I need a blurb. One that lets you know it’s the never-ending story, but also gets you intrigued by Jillie and David enough to follow them into the great unknown.
Here’s what I have come up with so far:
The last thing Colonel David Vaughn needed on his anti-terrorist task force was another beautiful badass woman. They were his weakness. He had a job to do.
Burned CIA agent, Jillian Craig didn’t want back into the game. But there was only so much sun, designer shoes and hunky Mediterranean men a girl could take.
When a mutual interest brings them together to fight the war on terror, it’s no surprise––sparks fly. Can the two ignore their attraction or is the personal sacrifice too much?
The Overwatch Series follows the epic love story of David and Jillian as they try to balance duty, desire and self-sacrifice to protect the world from terror.
Book One: Proving Ground. See how it all begins.

Feel free to chime in and let me know what you think. Too much? Too little? Too cheesy? Never want to be cheesy… Discuss.

I’m going to post an excerpt of Proving Ground, Chapter 1 soon. I’m also putting my actual professional skills to use and working on a cover(s). I’m torn between paying for the royalty-free image rights for some images, which is a couple hundred dollars vs. working in Poser (a 3D art program where I can make Jillie and David actually look like I see them in my head) Too cool, but WAY more time consuming, considering I’m still learning how to use the program. But, that could also be a couple hundred dollars if I want to use pre-existing morphs to build my characters because that wold make them look badass. And you know me and badass. Since my wallet is decidedly NOT badass, I’m waiting on that issue until the cover is the very last thing that needs to be done.

See you soon,


David’s Proust Questionnaire

Colonel David Vaughn, USAF Spec Ops,  Counter-terrorism Joint Task Force, Classified.
Last time, we looked at Jillian’s Proust Questionnaire to give a little back history on who she was and how she came to be. While I had difficultly with Jillian, I had a much better handle on our hero, Vaughn. Maybe it’s because I based him off of two amazing male characters: Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs of NCIS and Colonel Jack O’Neill of Stargate. He’s sort of an amalgamation of both of them however, without the angst of losing a child. Their honor, loyalty, determination and vigilance for what’s right. Of course, Vaughn’s morphed into his own man, but as a die to cast from, those two are incredible heroes. 
So Vaughn was easy. I got him. His motivations are pure: do the job and do it well, no matter the cost. He has a quiet sensitive side,  a sarcastic side and a creative side. He has a weakness for younger, beautiful badass women (psht, would I love him if he didn’t?) and it has gotten him into trouble in the past. His body is starting betray him and he has a tendency to mix his painkillers with alcohol, but that’s in his blood. Apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree, if you know what I mean. Dad was an alcoholic and abusive. And in that vein there is a darkness inside of him, one that he suppresses, but comes out sometimes when he makes the decisions that no one else wants to make. He’s a trained killer and he lives by a code of violence, even if it is for the greater good. His personal life is about sacrifice and he’s no stranger to living alone.

Here is Vaughn’s questionnaire:

·  Your most marked characteristic? Work and duty always come first, self-sacrifice.

·  The quality you most like in a man? Can take it on the chin and then ask for more.

·  The quality you most like in a woman? The real answer or the politically correct answer? (Real one: Young, beautiful, can kick your ass with a pair of high heels on and shoot you between the eyes from a hundred yards away) (Politically correct: A woman who can do her job effectively).

·  What do you most value in your friends? Loyalty.

·  What is your principle defect? Work-a-holic.

·  What is your favorite occupation? Like to remodel my house.

·  What is your dream of happiness? I don’t know, I don’t really look toward the future.

·  What to your mind would be the greatest of misfortunes? To lose a member of my team on my watch.

·  What would you like to be? A small-town handyman, no pressure.

·  In what country would you like to live? I’ve been all over the world. Every place has some good and something bad about it, even the shitholes of the world, but none of it really compares to here.

·  What is your favorite color? Hmm, that shade of mahogany that’s almost brown, but has red inside of it… it’s great on wood and even better on Jillie when she’s standing in the sunlight. Ahem… yeah, don’t tell her I said that. Strictly need-to-know…

·  What is your favorite flower? Syrian Jasmine, smells incredible when it’s mixed with spice. Shit, that woman is way too imbedded in my head. Also, need-to-know….

·  What is your favorite bird? Birds are a pain in the ass… they always get in the way and give away our position.

·  Who are your favorite prose writers? I used to read Tom Clancy when we were holed up in a room waiting to do a drop but I lost interest. Clive Cussler can be fun.

·  Who are your favorite poets? Dr. Seuss

·  Who is your favorite hero of fiction? Silver Surfer, Batman

·  Who are your favorite heroines of fiction? Lara Croft, Tomb Raider. Man, if a woman actually ran around a jungle in tight little shorts like that, I’d have had my head blown off a long time ago.

·  Who are your favorite composers? I usually tend to go for classic 70s rock… but on the rare, and I mean rare occasion… I put on some Opera – Puccini. That’s also need-to-know.

·  Who are your favorite painters? Painters no, but I loved the Silver Surfer comics when I was a kid.

·  Who are your heroes in real life? General Burt Cole, best damn soldier, mentor I’ve ever worked with. He’s a great man.

·  Who are your favorite heroines of history? The one I’m working with right now… I’d want her watching my six any day of the week.

·  What are your favorite names? That’s an odd question. I have a favorite alias, but that too is need-to-know.

·  What is it you most dislike? Men who are cowards.  (My son of bitch old man).

·  What historical figures do you most despise? Too many to recall, nameless men I’ve killed for crimes against humanity.

·  What event in military history do you most admire? Classified.

·  What reform do you most admire? The Homeland Security terrorist mandates.

·  What natural gift would you most like to possess? Toss-up: the ability to read women’s minds… or special vision that identified who was a terrorist and who was an ordinary civilian.

·  How would you like to die? With my boots on.

·  What is your present state of mind? My shelves are calling me… they need to be sanded.

·  To what faults do you feel most indulgent? Heh, my taste for younger women, I guess I’m a dirty old bastard.

·  What is your motto? Air Force Spec Ops motto: First There

·   What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? SERE training… simulates being captured by terrorists, they use your darkest weakness against you to break you and everyone breaks… it’s only a matter of time.

So, what did this tell me about Vaughn that I didn’t already know? It gave me things to put into his history, stuff that may never come out in the books, but help me to identify the major themes in his life. It was easy to answer his questions. It was easy to hear his tone and the cadence of his voice when he spoke. Little exercises like this can only help to breathe more life into your characters. If it’s not easy then maybe you need to go back to the drawing board and really look at who your character is. Maybe the questions you can’t answer are the aspects of that character that need to be examined and filled in. Look closely at them, peer into their darkest secrets; they will tell you what they need.

Happy crafting!
~Indigo Grace

Jillian’s Proust Questionnaire

Jillian Craig, ex-CIA agent, burned spy

I made a cardinal mistake when I first started writing the Overwatch series a year and a half ago. My lead female, suposed badass heroine, former CIA agent and munitions expert, Jillian Craig, was tragically boring.

I had no idea who Jillian Craig really was!

Sure, when I started, I had a glimmer, an idea of who/what I wanted but I really didn’t know her. Everything that came out on the page felt hollow. She had no drive or motivations. She was going through the motions. And I hated her. Because I had no reason to like her. Or root for her. She was a badass shell with no soul. Who the hell wants to read about that?!

One day, I had a flash of inspiration. Not sure where it came from, but it was a cool, blue miracle. I decided that she needed to be likably unlikable. She needed to be a little vain, sleep around with rich Mediterranean men, and have PTSD because she did something REALLY bad that got her burned from the CIA. Oh, and she has an unquenchable shoe obsession.

A friend of mine had done a Proust-like questionnaire for her characters in her current WIP. Ding, ding… I decided to do one for Jillian… and then for David.

The Proust Questionnaire is a nineteenth century personality test developed by French novelist and essay writer, Marcel Proust. They didn’t have a Cosmo Quiz back then to figure out what their thoughts and feelings were about life, so Proust made his own. It has stood the test of time and is still used today. My personal favorite is the slimmed down version on Inside the Actor’s Studio that James Lipton asks his guests at the end of the interview. My favorite word in the English language is Fuck. It can be verb, noun, adjective, adverb etc… Again I digress…

So. This is Jillian’s questionnaire:

·  Your most marked characteristic? I can be selfish and self-indulgent.

·  The quality you most like in a man? Loyalty, but if we’re talking just sex? Then tall, dark, rich and Mediterranean – French, Italian, Spanish, Greek – take your pick.

·  The quality you most like in a woman? I don’t have many women friends, I do much better with men.

·  What do you most value in your friends? Comfort.

·  What is your principle defect? That I’m searching for love and acceptance, serious Daddy issues.

·  What is your favorite occupation(way to spend time)? Shopping for shoes… it’s a pacifier/addiction. In that case, so is sex.

·  What is your dream of happiness? To be loved for who I am, evil parts and all.

·  What to your mind would be the greatest of misfortunes? To never had had the opportunity to get to know my father again, even though I hate him for abandoning my mother and me.

·  What would you like to be? Sometimes, anyone but me; or Katherine Hepburn, she was a ballsy woman.

·  In what country would you like to live? France, Italy, Spain, seeing a trend here?

·  What is your favorite color? Pink, don’t tell anyone.

·  What is your favorite flower? The little blue flowers on the side of the road, ironically they’re weeds.

·  What is your favorite bird? Birds annoy me.

·  Who are your favorite prose writers? It’s shameful… I don’t have the patience to read.

·  Who are your favorite poets? Same as above.

·  Who is your favorite hero of fiction? Han Solo, hot and rakish, boyish smirk with a swagger and a sense of humor. Reminds me a little of someone I know.

·  Who are your favorite heroines of fiction? Wow, I really need to hand in my feminist membership card… is it wrong to not be able to think of a single one?

·  Who are your favorite composers? Once I heard David listen to Turandot, it freakin’ made me cry. I think I was premenstrual.

·  Who are your favorite painters? A saw little painting done by a street vendor once in Cairo, simple and elegant, but I couldn’t buy it because I was undercover.

·  Who are your heroes in real life? Colonel Vaughn and the guys on my team.

·  Who are your favorite heroines of history? Women of the Isreali army, those women are fearless.

·  What are your favorite names? Fifi LaFlame, its has a je ne sais qua…

·  What is it you most dislike? Men who abuse women and children.

·  What historical figures do you most despise? Hitler, Hussein, Quadafi

·  What event in military history do you most admire? When women were given the right to fly in combat missions.

·  What reform do you most admire? Women who are standing up against female circumcision in Africa.

·  What natural gift would you most like to possess? The ability to lift a man over my shoulder.

·  How would you like to die? Saving someone’s life.

·  What is your present state of mind? I’m bored.

·  To what faults do you feel most indulgent? My weakness for shoes.

·  What is your motto? When sad, buy shoes.

After doing this, with my new knowledge of the PTSD and the tendency toward self-indulgence, the answers came out fast. She became more well-rounded. She had depth. I finally felt like I had an idea of who this woman was. And the story grew in richness because of it.

If you’re struggling with who your character is personality wise, try this. And don’t be afraid to go to a place that you think people might not like. People have flaws and weaknesses and do bad things, sometimes with good intentions. Badass females have these in spades.

Go forth and question!

My WIP: The Overwatch Series

My WIP: The Overwatch Series.
In my first post for this blog, I said that it would serve two purposes. One, would be to explore the amazing badass female characters of television, movies and video games. Two, would be to promote my own works of fiction. My current WIP, (work in progress for those non-writers), is a five book series about Special Operations soldiers trying to balance a personal life with their dangerous job.
One of my favorite themes is to watch extraordinary people do mundane things. My favorite parts of shows like House, Hawaii 50, In Plain Sight and Bones are the times when they’re at home or interacting on a personal, private level. Sure they run around chasing bad guys, shooting guns, or saving lives, but they can barely maintain a normal existence. How do they food shop, have clean clothes, sustain friendships? What do they do on the weekends or when they need to go see their parents? Heroes are people too. They eat, breathe, sleep, need clothes and get colds. Of course all of that stuff in general life is boring as shit, but when a hero does it or tries to get stuff accomplished like real people, it seems so much more interesting. To me anyway. Is that all the five books are about? No, absolutely not. It’s a love story between two badass people whose lives are dedicated to saving the world. It’s a romance novel with a little kicking some terrorist butt thrown in for flavor.
Our hero, Colonel David Vaughn: US Air Force Special Operations, commands a top-secret black ops counter terrorism taskforce under direct orders from the President. The team is overseen by General Burt Cole, David’s mentor and friend. David’s second in command is Navy SEAL, Commander Marcus Anderson. Air Force Captain Robert “Bobby D” De Santis is the team medic. The team lost their fourth member Ilsa Schindler, a seductive German operative, and Vaughn’s lover, during a botched mission eight months ago. Things went pear-shaped when she betrayed them and subsequently died. No one has been able to fit the bill since.
Enter our badass heroine. Jillian Craig doesn’t want to go back to work. The Agency burned her. The ‘Life’ burned her out. Only problem is, she’s bored. Shoes, parties and hunky rich men keep her occupied – until her father, the General, and his colonel show up looking to drag her back into the game. She misses blowing things up. What could she say – she’s a munitions expert and always had a wild streak. But a funny thing happens when the fireball and the loud booms rock the earth – she shakes like a little lap dog. It could only mean one thing – PTSD.
The last thing Jillian expected was to find an ally in her new boss. He might have been the most unlikely therapist she’s ever met, but his idea to teach her how to build custom cabinetry to focus her thoughts is an offer she can’t refuse. He was damn good at it and sexy to boot. How bad could it be spending all that time with him? It’s a mutual contract – he needs her sane and she needs someone to rely on.
When Jillian gets pulled back into Ireland at the behest of her father to stop a gunrunner dealing illegal weapons in Afghanistan, will she be able to overcome her issues and get the job done? Will Vaughn be able to trust her with their lives? Or will it end up like Ilsa?

Stay tuned to this Bat-channel for info and excerpts from Proving Ground, Book 1 in the Overwatch Series.