Favorite Characters of Blood Mercy: Thicker Than Water


I’m blogging today about a new book coming out at the end of this month! Blood Mercy: Thicker Than Water is co-authored by my good friends Janeen Ippolito and Julia Busko. It’s a riveting novella and if you like vampires (or if you don’t like vampires!) you should check it out! 😀

Here’s the blurb:

What would you do if the one you loved was turned into a monster?

Melrose Durante brings order. As founder of the Houses of the Dead, he tirelessly opposes the vampires, and provides refuge for the Blood Kind, those like himself who fight against the blood curse that leads to vampirism. His medical breakthroughs have brought many back from the vampire path. After thousands of years, the Blood Kind finally has the upper hand.

Until a vampire attacks Melrose’s family, then begs for asylum. To his friends she’s Lucy, a disturbed young woman prone to incoherent rants, warning of an imminent attack by vampire leader, Conan. But to Melrose she’s something more.

His lost wife, Jane.

One thing is clear – time is running out. In five days Conan will attack Quebec City, killing or enslaving all in his way. If Melrose cannot unlock his wife’s tormented mind, even his immortal wisdom may not be enough to save Quebec City, the Blood Kind, and the Houses of the Dead.

In addition to the plot and the fascinating world (where vampirism is caused by a blood disease), one of my favorite elements of this story were the characters. I love them. I love their relationships. I love their interactions. I also love that the romance elements center around married couples, which is unusual in fiction, and very heartwarming and refreshing.

Here are some of my favorite characters, their Myers-Briggs types (because I’m MBTI nerd) 😀 and some of the things that drew me to them most.


Melrose Durante (INTJ)

Protagonist of the story and fearless leader of the Blood Kind, Melrose stands bold off the page and was one of my favorite characters. He’s originally from ancient Egypt, so glimpses of his backstory were some of the neatest things about the book. As an INTJ, he’s highly principled – he holds strongly to his hatred of fighting and violence, for example – and he uses his renowned intellect and medical knowledge to bring healing to vampires and the Blood Kind. He’s cool, calculating, and driven by a fierce desire to help and protect others, especially his goddaughter and niece, Zuri, and her family.  Because of his particular strain of the Blood Curse, Melrose is afflicted with OCD, an aspect that the author portrays with faithful tenderness throughout the book. I really appreciated how well mental illnesses were handled in the story, whether they were more slight (as in Melrose’s case) or more extreme, as in the case of…


Lucille Jane Durante (ISFP)

Jane is a complex and compelling character, particularly so because of her mental state – dissociative identity disorder, which has left her warring between her brainwashed “Lucy” identity, and her true identity of Jane Durante…Melrose’s long-lost wife. Her strain of the Blood Curse gives her special mechanical skills and speedy learning abilities. She is highly skilled with a camera, in particular. Despite her mental illness, she’s sweet and snarky, and I enjoyed getting to know her and…I definitely ship her and Melrose. A lot. 😀  They balance each other out really well – grounded, earthy SP type with intellectual NTJ. She draws him out of his intense mind and brings out his romantic side.


Zurina Yamamoto (INFJ)

 Zuri and I share the same Myers-Briggs type, so I took particular note of her as I was reading. There is so much about her I relate to: her aversion to conflict, her ability to be compassionate even toward enemies, and her tendency to silently keep it all together on the outside when trouble strikes. She’s also a fierce, capable warrior and has certain…powers (I’ll give no spoilers!! But seriously, so much awesome). Zuri is running from something, hiding from something, which is teased at through the story. She’s a character for whom I felt very deeply, and I’m excited to read more about her in future installments of the Blood Mercy series.


Akira Yamamoto (ENFP)

 Ah, Akira…Zuri’s sweet, witty husband. I liked him at once! The survivor of an agonizing history, he hails from Japan originally, and has unique powers of perception (which I shall not spoil for you!).  He and his wife are a dangerous fighting team. He’s intensely devoted to Zuri, and cares for others so gently too…an enthusiastic and comforting presence.  I especially enjoyed his hospitality toward Jane, and the fact that he cooks.  Who doesn’t like a character who makes amazing food? 😀


Zeke Yamamoto

A list of my favorite characters has to include Zeke!! Zeke is Zuri and Akira’s small son. He’s a little young for his Myers-Briggs type to be obvious, but he’s adorable and a spot of sunshine in the story, tumbling through the narrative with his many doggie friends and his humorous childlike remarks.

To bring things back around to Melrose again, I loved seeing his perspective on Zeke as the boy’s great-uncle. The variety of ages and personality types in the story let us see many different dimensions of the characters, their roles, and their emotions. It gives them a deep, endearing realism that is rare in fast-paced, high-stakes stories like this one.


Blood Mercy: Thicker Than Water can be pre-ordered HERE, and releases on October 29th.

Be sure to join the launch party on Facebook!! It’s going to be a blast, and there will be lots of prizes and chances to learn more about these characters and their story. :)


About the authors:

2016janeenheadshotJaneen Ippolito is an idea-charged teacher, reader, writer, book reviewer, and the Fearless Leader of Uncommon Universes Press. She writes nonfiction writing help and speculative fiction laced with horror, humor, and cultural tension. Her co-written illustrated novella, Blood Mercy: Thicker Than Water, releases on October 29th. In her nonexistent spare time she reads, cooks, and sword-fights. Two of her dreams are to eat a fried tarantula and to travel to Antarctica. Go to janeenippolito.com for world-building resources and off-the-wall insights from this sleep-deprived author.

2016juliaheadshotJulia Busko (like “bus” and “co.”) is an illustrator, designer, writer, and the Elusive Unicorn (art director) of Uncommon Universes Press. In addition to co-writing with Janeen Ippolito, Julia has created book covers, made logos and t-shirt designs, and is planning a series of steampunk fairy tale picture books. In her spare time she dances with a local company and watches documentaries and horror movies. She strives for art filled with creative wonder and the beauty inherent in tragedy. Go to juliabusko.com to dive into a world of remarkable visions and artistic musings.

Are you the same Myers-Briggs type as any of these characters, or do you know anyone like them? What are some books you’ve read recently with great characters and relationships?


And the Next #WIPjoy Shall Be… (Drumroll, Please!)

So, I have happy news (the next #WIPjoy) and also a bit of happier news (a surprise)!  Read on…

I usually announce the next #WIPjoy at the end of the one that’s currently running, but a lot of people have asked me this time when the next one will be – and some people are new to the event and not aware it’s more than a one-time thing!  For those reasons I’ve decided to announce it a bit ahead of time so people can know what to expect.

The next #WIPjoy will be………..

(Drumroll please…..) 😀



January???  Maybe you’re a little dismayed.  It’s such a long way off!  But I’m trying to transition #WIPjoy into being seasonal (four times a year! Yay!).  The next season is winter.  And we all know the holidays are crazy, so December is kind of out! 😛

The tentative #WIPjoy schedule for the future will be:

Winter (January)
Spring (April)
Summer (July)
Fall (October)

This year’s was a bit off – hence the long gap between September and January. *sad face*

BUT.  But but but.

Here’s the happier (for now) news. 😀

To tide people over during this abnormally long gap, I’m going to host a week-long mini #WIPjoy in the middle of November!


It’ll be a week of fun daily prompts – thanksgiving themed, since it’s the week before Thanksgiving. 😀  If they’d like, those doing NaNoWriMo can gain momentum and encouragement during that hard stretch in the middle of the month, and those of us not doing NaNo can enjoy it anyway!

I hope to see you there!!

Who’s with me? 😀  Leave me a comment letting me know how WIPjoy can be more awesome and serve your author needs even better! ^_^

On Living in a Box


Sometimes my life feels like a long saga of making proclamations to myself…

I would never do that.

Nah, that’s not really for me.

That’s not my thing.

Or conversely:

This is what I am made for.

This is my thing, my purpose.

This is who I am.

…And then God bringing me around later and showing me, “Surprise!  Now this is your thing.”  “Tell you what – now I’m going to have you do that.”  “Guess what?  This is for you.”

As a silly example of what I mean…

When I was a kid, I once proclaimed that I’d never feed my kids sandwiches.  We had PB&J most days for lunch and I eventually decided sandwiches were boring.

And now I have an entire Instagram account dedicated to sharing my sandwich inspirations and all the sandwiches I enjoy making, because making sandwiches is one of my favorite hobbies.  (And my kids don’t really appreciate the fancy sandwiches yet, so guess what? Most of the time they have PB&J. 😉 )

I also maintained for years that “I cordially dislike allegory in all its manifestations,” (as said J.R.R. Tolkien) and that I generally eschew symbolism in my stories.

Lo and behold, the most recent story God gave me to write started as straight allegory, and has evolved into a more varied but still deeply symbolic fantasy story.  And I love it with a great passion.


These kinds of things keep me humble…or they should. 😉

Perhaps more startling and painful is when God shows me, “No, that isn’t what you were made for.  No, that’s not actually your purpose.  No, that is not who you are.”

I like to have a very solid perception of myself.  Who I am.  What I am.  Where I’m going.  What I’m made for.  I like to do the things I’ve always done and be the person I’ve always been: solid, steady, reliable.  I like to know why I’m here and then stalwartly fulfill that purpose.

But who I am needs to grow.  And in my finite human perspective, “why I’m here” is always my own subjective idea.

As much as I loftily think I understand God’s purpose for me, His ways are not my ways.  He is in charge of my life and how He uses it.  Who am I to even dream that I would fully understand who He made me to be and why?


God is in the business of showing me, again and again, that “who I am” is a lot more fluid – and a whole lot bigger – than I think it is.

“Who I am” isn’t habits or preferences or projects or talents.  “Who I am” is broader than any of the things I use to define myself.  How can my identity be anything but vast and broad, when I am created in the image of an endless and infinite God, a new creature being remade into a picture of His all-powerful Son?

I pride myself on being someone who thinks outside the box to some extent.  Yet here I sit, chalking out little boxes for my identity and then planting myself in them and making myself at home.

And then freaking out when God spray-hoses away a side or two of the box I was so comfortable in.

Hopes, dreams, ambitions, talents, abilities, callings, habits – I’m prone to believe that who I am comes from those things, the things that I “am.”

But what a fragile and shaky identity that is!

Any one of those things God could remove in a moment.  He is always changing me and growing me.  Erasing my boxes.  What I think defines me one decade may seem small and silly to me the next.  Worse, I may remain stubbornly planted in a box when I am far too big to fit inside anymore, like a baby bird trying to squeeze itself tight inside the broken eggshell…when in reality, it’s big enough to fly.


I believe we each have a unique identity.  I personally dislike the reductionist mentality of only ever saying, “I’m a sinner saved by grace – that’s all I am,” to explain who we are, because clearly each sinner saved by grace is an individual loved and called by the Lord, hands and feet and noses and toes in the body of Christ.  We are each created and redeemed for a purpose, and it’s not unspiritual to believe that we have an identity of our own.  We are one in Christ, and our identity is in Him – but we are not a hive mind.

Yet I cannot allow “who I am” to rest on who I think I am.  I am being sanctified into Christ’s image.  I’m a work in progress!  Maybe I think I’m a quick piece of flash fiction allegory, but I’m really a long, symbolic, high fantasy paranormal romance short-story/novella thing – who knows? 😉

That story I’m writing is still in progress.  I know how it ends, and I know how it began, but I still have no idea what’s in the middle!  My own life is not too different.

Unlike God, I’m not unchangeable.  And praise Him for that! – I am tiny, blind, flawed, sinful.

If I’m going to fly to unknowns where God wants me to fly – if I’m going to grow to new heights that God wills me to grow – then I have to stop telling myself that my limits end at the four corners of some tiny box that I’ve used to define myself.

Why be satisfied with a basic, simple explanation of what I’m made for, when He made me for Himself – for absolute infinity?

Not only is He vast, but He is constant, un-altering, and trustworthy.  In this world, He is the only thing we can rely on to define our souls.  Looking to anything less than Him to be our all-in-all is locking ourselves in a cage.

I am a child of an infinite, all-powerful God, an ever-growing work-in-progress by His grace.  I should never be content to live inside a box.

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure. – 1 John 3:1-3 (emphasis mine)

Let the September 2016 #WIPjoy Begin!

Time for another month of celebrating our works-in-progress and encouraging one another in our writing!  I’m thrilled to see many, many new faces tweeting and sharing this time.  What a joy! 😀

If you’re a writer with a work-in-progress, you’re invited to join the party!  Tweet it, Facebook it, blog it, or even Instagram it!  Just make sure to include the hashtag #WIPjoy in your public social media posts so other writers can find you. :)

Here are the daily challenges for the month of September.

WIPjoy Sept. 2016

Geeking Out Over Noblebright

Last night I discovered the term “noblebright.” I’m still geeking out about it. *happy squeak* 😀

It describes so much of what I write, and the tone of almost all my favorite stories.  Finding this term is like finding a word to describe a mood I have seen and loved all my life, but not had a way to describe.  It makes me so happy.

The term “noblebright” was created as a reaction to the negative term “grimdark,” which generally describes a setting that is dystopian, amoral, pessimistic, and/or violent – think Game of Thrones, or possibly Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy.  (The last few books of Harry Potter might also be described as “grimdark” in tone, although overall I don’t believe the series could be called grimdark.)

This Wiki page describes the differences between grimdark and noblebright:

In a grim world, no matter what you do, an individual can’t secure more than an individual victory, if even that, because the rest of the world is too big/scared/powerless/selfish to act upon his impulse. A noble world is one where the action of a single hero can change the world, and a single big villain can f*** it all up : there are important people, who are so either by birth, rank or sheer willpower, and every single one of these people matter.
Now, a bright world is one full of opportunity, of wondrous sights to behold. It doesn’t mean that it has to be [My Little Pony], it can be dangerous, but your first instinct when looking at a new location should be awe and wonder: people may adventure to save the world, but they leave town with a smile upon their face, eager to see what comes next. The shadow of Risk is largely erased by the glint of Adventure. … A dark world is one where life sucks, and usually not long: whether it be because of demon overlords… or even the lack of water, everyone in this story may die, and they die for good.”

Art by Jane-Aspen

(There are also hybrids like nobledark – heroic heroes fighting evil in a very dark world – and grimbright – which I guess would be the ability to secure only individual victories in a world of wonder and adventure?…weird combo.  But I’m just sticking to the two main terms here.)

There is a basic worldview difference between these kinds of stories.

There are the stories where there is no hope, no meaning, and no lasting joy to human existence, where everything is sad and pessimistic – versus the stories where lives are meaningful because every individual makes a difference, good triumphs against evil in both small and great ways, there is beauty in the world, and there is real hope of victory.

Which of these is truer to my own worldview as a Christian?  The answer is obvious.

Art by Sandara

Now.  I believe there is truth to grimdark stories as well.  The world is fallen, cruel, full of atrocities and sometimes unspeakable evils.  Sometimes we need to look that in the face.  Sometimes we need grimdark stories.  They show us truth about this passing life.  We need to confront not just the evil in the world but the evil in ourselves.  We do live in a universe where “good people” do bad things, where every person has a dark side (except Christ).

But that’s not where my worldview ends.  When I look at the universe I see a noblebright place. I see true beauty.  I see right and wrong.  I see God working through even the worst circumstances to bring about ultimate glory for Himself and joy for His people.

So it makes sense that all the books and movies I love best fall under the “noblebright” category in some fashion.

Art from a video game: Lord of the Rings Conquest

Noblebright stories include: The Lord of the Rings [edit: one could argue this one is more nobledark], The Chronicles of Narnia, Firefly, some Marvel movies, and most 0f Star Trek.  There may be horrible villains, and dark parts of the tales, but a sense of wonder, morality, and nobility courses through these stories.  Beauty is real.  Life might be full of despair and destruction but that is not the end of the story.  The heroes might be flawed, but they are ultimately fighting for the good, and good will ultimately win.

I never knew there was a word for it.  I knew it was there.  I knew this undercurrent of hope, light, and beauty ran through all the stories I love the most.  It was part of my goals as an author to create worlds like this, running deep with joy, beauty, and love.  But I didn’t know it had a name.  And now I do!

I love noblebright.

Noblebright stories forever!!! 😀

Do you like stories that are darker or lighter in tone?  Which kind of truth impacts you more?  What are some awesome examples of noblebright stories you’ve seen or read (because I want to know more!!)?

Art by Sandara