Meet My Rooster Character I Named Bert

I have found myself quite partial to roosters ever since I added a colorful rooster character to my story. I named him Bert (for many reasons), and his main role is that of Schoolhouse Protector. More specifically, defender of schoolteachers who teach in the schoolhouse. 

Character drawing of a my rooster character named Bert, illustrated by Kyle Colby
My Rooster Character’s name is Bert.
My son Kyle brings him to life in this
first ever shown depiction!

After researching the creatures I had learned I could have quite a bit of fun with him. Did you know that roosters make a bunch of different sounds? I thought they only crowed. But as I researched further, I learned roosters are very protective of those in their care and they have different noises they make to call out warnings or to get someone’s attention.

Why A Rooster Character?

I wanted an animal in my Going West story, but I wanted to do something other than a dog. Since my story includes ranches and the west in 1869, I googled different types of animals including roosters. One of the most interesting thing about a rooster is that they crow all throughout the day, not just the morning. I liked that. I could have a rooster tell time both before school and after. 

As I researched roosters, I came across Chinese Astrology and the meaning behind the rooster. Then I came across an article with how the rooster has been used as a symbol in Christianity. From Peter’s denial and ultimate remorse and repentance, to the crowing at dawn representing the light over darkness, to the emblem on weathervanes respresenting a Christian’s attitude of watchfulness and readiness for the sudden return of Christ. All of it intrigued me, and since I’m writing Historical Inspirational, helped solidify my choosing the rooster as my animal character.

Digging into a Rooster’s Personality

Once I decided on the rooster, I wanted to understand it’s sounds. I learned there are several breeds of roosters and they all have different noises and personalities. They love to be the center of attention. I found a fun blog from someone who writes about her roosters and their shenanigans. The fun and differing personalities she covered, provided ideas of what I could create and inspired a rooster character I couldn’t wait to expand on.

It was also helpful to pay attention to some other famous rooster characters and how unique, memorable and fun they are.

a compilation image of 4 rooster characters from Moana (hey hey), Robin Hood (Alan-A-Dale), Looney Tunes (Foghorn), & Three Caballeros (Panchito Pistoles)
Other famous rooster characters include Hey Hey from Moana, Looney Tunes Foghorn Leghorn, Alan-A-Dale from Disney’s Robin Hood, and Panchito Pistoles from Disney’s The Three Caballeros.

Wouldn’t it be fun if my Bert became as famous as these colorful roosters?

Character Names Mean Something

I wanted to name my rooster something meaningful. As I was flushing out his character, I wanted to honor my mom, who liked roosters. And I wanted a short name. Something easy for the kids and townfolk to call him. My mom’s name is Beverly (she went by Bev), so I wanted a name that started with a B. One of my all-time favorite movie characters is Bert, from Mary Poppins. After writing out a bunch of alternates, I kept coming back to this one. And so I named my rooster character Bert.

Writing an Animal Character

I’ve had a lot of fun writing Bert and can’t wait for you to meet him. He’s spunky, colorful, loyal, caring, observant and very smart. And he stands by my heroine’s side whether she wants him to or not.

Since writing him, I now notice roosters everywhere, and it immediately brings to mind, Bert. Last year at the Knott’s Berry Farm Berry Festival, there were roosters sitting amongst flowers in key spots. I found myself on a rooster hunt, since every single one was a different style and color palette. I’ve been saving these pictures till I wrote a blog post about it. And look forward to sharing more about roosters and Bert in the future.


Incorporating a Character Journal Into My Story

Blog Post Header with the words My Heroin's Character Journal Captures Her Journey by Denise M. Colby

Some writers write a character journal for their characters to help them see things from their character’s perspective. But for me, I wanted my heroine to actually have a journal in my story. Not quite sure why, but capturing her journey through a journal stuck as I brainstormed my scenes.

Do you write in a journal? 

If you do, do you ever worry about someone reading what you wrote?

My heroine gets handed a journal upon her start as a teacher.

Character Journal cover created for my story by Denise M. Colby

In it, she’s instructed to write down the events of her days to capture what happens as a female teacher who moves West to teach in small pioneer towns.

Olivia finds her journal to be a close confidant. She enjoys documenting her observances about the places she’s been and the people she meets. Given that it’s 1869 and traveling by train across the country is a new and unprecedented event, the importance in capturing the momentous occasion is not lost on her.  

She’s also very protective of her book. It never leaves her side and she would never leave it out so that someone could read it. But even if they did, she is very careful what she writes, never putting to paper her own thoughts and opinions, just in case someone else might read it and pass judgement on her. 

See judgement stings and her fear of being judged stems from…well…I don’t want to give too much away.

I write prayers in a journal almost every morning.

Some entries are one full page. Others are short paragraphs. I sometimes wonder what someone would think of my shortest entry. 

“Dear God. Help me today.” 

Yes, I admit. I have written it just like that. 

I’ve been writing down these prayers for so long, I don’t think about it anymore. It’s really between me and God, and the benefit of writing the words weighs more important than the fear of someone reading it and judging me.

And see, that’s what happens to Olivia in her character journal. Over time and with a few encouraging words from one of her pupils, Olivia’s heart slowly changes and her journal changes right along with her. It’s been exciting to flush out her journal entries so that the reader can see this change.

Olivia's Character Journal with entries from 1869 as I imagined them for my story, by Denise M. Colby

I even created a small diary in Olivia’s hand, so that I could think like her and feel what it might’ve been like all those years ago to have a small diary to write down words that could be read one hundred fifty years later. What she was doing was historic in 1869. 

Which was why I wanted to create a character journal for her.

Something that captured all these historical events – Traveling across the country, coming west to teach in a one-room schoolhouse in order to make a difference in the life of a child, and for herself as well.

I wonder, in real life, how many of them kept a journal? And if they had any idea that we would be reading what they wrote so many years later?

This is why the act of writing in a journal is so precious to me. Over at A Slice of Orange (an outside blog I write for), I wrote a blog post on how a handwritten note can be a gift, one that lasts forever. Journals can be that type of gift.

I’m excited to finish editing Olivia’s story and her journal entries. If you’re interested in learning more about my stories check out my Going West Series page.