Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Humane Award

Thanks to Patricia Stoltey for passing this award along to me. To read about it and the terrific company I'm keeping, click here:

Monday, July 13, 2009

Elements of a Hero

Thanks to the folks at Chasing Heroes for being interested in my take on what makes a hero. Here's a link to my guest post, which appears today:

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Book Character Names - How do You Dream Them Up?

The one thing I never do is name a character after a real, live person - except for the times when I do.

Huh? you ask.

Let me explain: I'll give a character a real person's name - but NEVER the very same person's personality. Case in point: In my mystery, Second Time Around, a fellow appears at the end of the story and his name is Donald McHenry. I DO know a fellow named Donald McHenry - he's my 79 year old father. But he's nothing like the character in the book: a 55 year old CPA with a full head of curly dark hair. Well...okay...maybe the real DM is color-blind, just like the guy in the book...

All kidding aside, the first names - and sometimes even the full names - of people I know appear in my books, but never with the same personality types or occupations or physical characteristics. I am not the least bit interested in being sued for libel, slander, invasion of privacy, etc. In the case of the situation with my father, I had his blessing (read: permission). But in other cases, the people whose names I borrowed were thrilled: my friends and my children. I also only use these "borrowed" names for secondary or incidental characters. I do not use them for main characters. I've often thought of using the name of an old boyfriend as the murderer or, God forbid, the name of my ex-husband. But I think that's walking way too close to the line.

When it comes to naming main characters, I keep a number of things in mind:
  • Avoid using the same sound, or beginning letters: i.e. Jack and Joan; Barney and Bonnie
  • Avoid cutesy names: i.e. Jack and Jill; Pat and Mike
  • Avoid spellings that don't easily translate phonetically: i.e. Celenie or Siobhan
  • Use ethic names when appropriate
  • I tend to use one syllable first names for male protagonists, especially names with hard sounds: i.e. Jack, Ben
  • I tend to use two-syllable first names for female protagonists - this contrasts with the one syllable male protagonist names
  • I prefer Irish or Celtic names (strictly personal)
  • I prefer that first and last names have some common sounds--this works well for auditory readers: Lyn McLaren, Timmie Campbell
  • I prefer NOT to use overly unusual/uncommon names: i.e. Balthazar, Mordyce
How do you dream up the names of your characters?

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Plugging Away...Daily


It's the single most important aspect of writing daily. Actual production ranks right up there, but momentum is what keeps you going and keeps you involved.

Even if you re-read the last scene you wrote yesterday and have only 15 minutes to write today, those extra sentences--or that paragraph or three--put your mind right back into your project and propel you forward. Even if what you wrote yesterday was garbage, and today's efforts just make the pile bigger, you're more in tune with what you shouldn't be doing--which is the first step toward figuring out what the heck you should be doing.

I wonder how YOU benefit from writing daily...

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Do YOU Re-read Your Books?

Okay, here's the scoop with me and books:
  • I'm addicted - a lousy book is better than no book or a magazine or a newspaper
  • I keep most books I buy - since I generally read the first few paragraphs of a book before I buy it, I seldom buy a book I wind up not liking - then again there's the books I get as gifts (some of those do get recycled)
  • I re-read my favorite authors - of course I have to wait at least a year, because I remember the excellent characters and plots
  • I NEVER bend the corners - sacrilege!
  • I DO break the bindings - how else can a book feel comfortable in your hand?
  • I do - sometimes - pencil in the margins, underline, or highlight - this is only with self-help and motivational books - NOT, God forbid, fiction
  • I put address labels inside the front cover - don't ever borrow a book from me and not give it back!

There are probably some other weird things, but that's all I can think of at the moment. Oh, no, wait, there IS one more thing. My house contains 6 bookcases and I don't stack books in the traditional library method. I have so many books that the shelves have them stacked in piles two deep; the shop shelves have stacks so tall they're in danger of falling over. If you ever need to consider what kind of gift to get me: bookshelf - that's the thing. BEFORE I moved to Montana, I had WAY more books - I could only pack and fit 15 boxes of books in the moving van or else my husband would have divorced me. He got a hernia moving those boxes, I packed them so full.

Why don't you share some of your book pecadillos? Then I won't feel so weird...