Meet Na-um: A Character Profile of One of My Antagonists

For my Friday the 13th post, I thought I'd post a book excerpt introducing one of my main antagonists, Na-um! He was so fun to write — I just love writing my antagonists. The heroes are the most fun, of course, but there is a depth to the villains that I love to explore.

So do you want to meet him?


Awesome, right? I was so lucky to find this pic — other than the hat, this guy could be Na-um. I love the vibe of this pic.

Na-um is a stubborn, confident, charismatic leader, strong and commanding, muscular and fit. He's determined to complete his mission (to prevent the Secret from being discovered), hot-tempered when things don't go exactly as he planned, and fierce when he has to be. But he's somehow human, relatable, even likable.

I love writing likable antagonists. They make the reader feel something more when the heroes finally win (or do they?) — a tangle of emotions that swirl through the readers' minds and hearts as the conclusion plays itself out.

No, I'm not evil, I promise. :)

Ready to meet him? Here's the book excerpt I promised, where Na-um makes his grand entrance into The Secret of the Codex. Enjoy!


Somewhere in the Belize Rainforest

The Hunter sped through the forest, long black hair flowing behind him like a flag on the mast of an ancient battleship. His breathing settled into an easy rhythm, only slightly faster than normal despite his exertion. His ears, able to pick up every sound for miles despite his speed, tracked the beast in front of him. Though the beast was still a little over a mile away, he was closing the distance quickly.

Na-um, the one his people called “The Hunter,” pushed harder, hurtling himself through the forest even faster. He barely noticed the trees that he effortlessly dodged, the fallen logs he easily catapulted over, or the swaying foliage that barely brushed his feet but never slowed him down. He loved running like this—the freedom and serenity of the forest calmed him, cleared his head as it flew by at lightning speeds.

Then, as though the dense forest in front of him split down the middle, he could see the beast ahead of him. His eyes peered through the trees, leaves, and bushes and spotted the massive animal, hundreds of yards away. Na-um grinned wickedly, then pushed himself to the breaking point to close the distance.

Na-um jerked to a stop, sending up a spray of dirt and mud that cascaded down the straps of leather that comprised his outfit and the darkly tanned skin of his muscular forearms and legs. He was still a good distance away from the beast; his small disturbance in the forest wouldn’t attract his prey’s attention.

He sunk into a crouch, inching his way closer to the oblivious beast. Then he stopped.

Just in front of him, the dense undergrowth of the forest was ending, disappearing into a grassy clearing. Every muscle in Na-um’s body tensed. The beast nonchalantly lowered its muzzle to the ground, its jaws smoothly rotating as it fed on the tall grass of the clearing. Despite the apparent peacefulness of the beast, Na-um knew it wouldn’t stay still for very long. He had to move fast, or he’d lose his chance.

Moving as few muscles as possible, Na-um slowly and deliberately stretched his hand to the back of his neck. Sheathed along his back was a handmade spear, a razor-sharp arrowhead attached to the end of a thick bamboo stalk with strong twine. The spear made no sound as Na-um carefully slid it out and held it at his side. He raised it soundlessly into position.

The beast, unaware of its imminent demise, grazed contentedly. Its head never left the ground as it enjoyed what would turn out to be its final meal.

The spear soared across the clearing.

A sickening wailing emanated from the beast as the arrowhead struck its side and burrowed deep in its chest. It howled, raising its head toward the sky. Its mournful cries pierced the tranquility of the forest. Na-um came out of his crouch and sprinted into the large clearing, crossing it in no more than two seconds. He approached the beast, which lay sprawled out on the ground, hind legs futilely kicking the air. Na-um watched as the beast pulled in one last, shuddering breath.

The Hunter had won.


What did you think? Does he seem scary? Spoiler alert: he kind of is. :D

Meet Mandy: A Character Profile from The Secret of the Codex

Happy Monday! In case Monday has gotten you down (already), I thought I'd brighten up your day. With Mandy! She's the sweetest and kindest character in The Secret of the Codex, and she was so fun to write.

I got the character inspo from my sister, Amanda. She's so sweet and kind and loving, and was the perfect inspiration for Mandy. Plus, their names are similar. Though I never call my sister Mandy! Go figure!

First, as always, a Mandy pic.


Mandy is dating Justin, her boyfriend of three years that most of the time doesn't deserve her. But then he'll do something that surprises her (and us) and shows just how much he really cares — he's just that way. But Mandy loves him just the way he is. She's the perfect match for Justin's craziness, even though it sometimes drives her crazy, but she loves taking care of him anyway.

Mandy is caring, sweet, and never has a bad word to say about anyone. She's sensitive and kind, always looking out for others. She develops a strong mothering instinct toward Holun (more on him later!) and takes care of the others when they're out doing whatever it is they're doing. She just instinctively wants to help!

And the others instinctively want to take care of her, too. Kayla especially; they grow into great friends throughout the book.

I loved writing Mandy — there are so many aspects to her personality that I wish I had!

Here's a brief excerpt about Mandy that I posted on Instagram a few days ago, told from Kayla's perspective: 


Book Excerpt — Kayla and Mandy as Besties

Mandy’s cheeks were stained with tears, as had been the norm for the last twenty hours or so. But Kayla noticed another layer—the corners of her eyes had drooped, her light brown eyebrows were furrowed—that told a more intimate story. She was in incredible pain...

Mandy cared for him—Kayla could see that. Perhaps she’d loved him since she’d met him... that was just the kind of person Mandy was. Kind, compassionate, loving. Everything good in a person.

Kayla desperately wished she could take away the pain, even take it on herself. That someone so tender would have to go through something so harsh was almost unbearable. As Mandy broke down completely and fell out of the chair onto her knees, Kayla knelt down beside her and put her arms around her, let her cry.


I had to edit the excerpt so I didn't give too much away, but I love this so much — it shows Mandy so well!

But this post is supposed to make you happy, so I'll give you a happy Mandy excerpt, too! This is where we meet her and Justin. 


Book Excerpt — Meet Mandy and Justin for the First Time

“Mandy! Phone!”

Mandy Carlson, a third-year student in UCF’s graduate-level Maya Studies program, looked up from the suitcase she was packing and made a face. She flicked her mid-length strawberry blonde hair away from her neck in disgust. Though she loved her boyfriend of three years, Justin Stanford, she knew he knew it, too; that was the problem. He frequently took her for granted—and she hated the aggravating way this sometimes made him act. I’m not an animal, she thought. You could’ve asked nicely. Or, heaven forbid, actually bring me the phone.

She found her blond-haired, blue-eyed boyfriend in the living room, holding the cell phone she’d left on the coffee table. His eyes never left the TV as she snatched the phone away from him. She glared at him with her hazel eyes on her way to the kitchen, though he was too enthralled by the TV to notice.

“Yes? This is Mandy Carlson.”

“Ms. Carlson, this is Dean Stewart.” The caller wasn’t really a surprise. Her “teacher’s pet” reputation at school had begun to include the deans as well.

“Hello, how are you?” She kept it formal. The man was kind and gracious but Mandy still found him a little intimidating, even over the phone.

“Fine, fine. I have a request, if you don’t mind.”

“Sure, what is it?”

He hesitated almost imperceptibly, but she caught it. “Do you know Drs. Harrington and McGready?”

Her heart jumped a little. A knee-jerk reaction—a subconscious habit she couldn’t suppress whenever she heard his name. “I was in one of Dr. McGready’s classes last semester. Is he okay?”

Another moment of silence, this time glaringly obvious. When the dean didn’t respond, Mandy asked another question. “What happened?”

She heard him sigh. “Ms. Carlson, Dr. Harrington and Dr. McGready are missing. They were at the Lamanai dig, working, and they seem to have found something. But as they were heading to the airport in Belize City this morning they were . . .” He paused, then tried again. “Well, by all accounts, it looks like they were ambushed.”

Mandy’s next word came out a whisper. “What?”

Dean Stewart sighed through the phone. “I’m sorry to drop this on you so suddenly, but I knew you were headed to Lamanai tomorrow, anyway, so I wanted to ask if you would head up the search party.”

Mandy couldn’t help but get a small bit of satisfaction from his request. Finally her years of making nice with the teachers were paying off. And if she were the one to find them . . . “I would be happy to.” In her sophomore year at the university, she had met Professor Grady McGready, immediately developing a crush. She had since matured and grown out of it, but was still concerned with his well-being—probably a little more than she should be.

Maybe she hadn’t grown out of it as much as she’d like to think.

The Dean sounded exceptionally relieved. “Please find them. Our school can’t afford to lose such great archaeologists—or such great people.”

Mandy smiled. She knew Dean Stewart well enough to know he really did care about his people. “Justin and I were just packing for our flight in the morning. Should we leave sooner?”

“No, the morning’s flight is the first one headed that way. Please let me know what you find out. We’re all concerned for them; any news would be greatly appreciated.”

Mandy smiled, her dimples making an appearance in the empty room. “Will do.”

He hung up without another word.

Mandy’s smile faded as she let the situation sink in; this news was particularly distressing. She always looked forward to Grady’s classes—what was wrong with a little ogling? She vaguely remembered Professor Harrington—she thought she’d had a class with her a few semesters ago—but couldn’t quite recall what she looked like. Mandy was always more attentive when it came to the opposite sex.

“Justin!” She yelled too loudly. She smirked as she returned his earlier favor. See how you like it.

Unfortunately, as she had come to expect, he didn’t notice her subtle rebuke. He simply loped into the room, energy drink in hand. “What’s up? What’d the dean want?”

She rolled her eyes at her always less-than-attentive boyfriend. “Something happened at the dig. Grady McGready and Professor Harrington were attacked on the way to Belize City. No one can find them, so they want us to head up the search.”

Justin grinned. Mandy knew without asking that he would be overly excited about such an adventure—and though she would never admit it, it was one of the reasons she put up with him. “Cool!” He took a large final swig from his drink, then chucked it into the recycling bin with a large, dopey grin. “Let’s go pack.”


 So what did you think? Wouldn't you just love to meet Mandy in person?

<3 Melissa