Tuesday, September 12, 2017

What's in a name?

Names. They are necessary for characterization when writing. I have a 'naming' book I use if my stories are short and punchy. The book provides simple meanings for basic names of most nationalities. I also have reference books for the specific cultures I might feature.

If I wish to portray a female character who'll be a strong warrior and lead a clan into battle, I'll go to my reference material and search for a name that provides those characteristics. Aife is a Celtic name of a great warrior woman of myth.

When you are choosing names for your characters, be cautious not to make them sound alike if possible. You don't want your readers paging backward to remember if it was Bill or Phil who is the bad guy. They'll do it once. Then the book goes in the trash and you lose a reader.

If you decide on a name and something nags at you that the name is familiar, check it. While names can't be copyrighted, they can be so heavily identified with a character, you'll appear to be plagiarizing someone else's work. Not a prospect I want to consider.

There is a world of names out there and some have unique meanings. Spend time to give your characters an identity from the start. After all, most of us know who Albus Dumbledore is, don't we?

Mistress of the Red Ink Pens

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Welcome to Genie Gabriel

From the Mistress:

I'm taking time to quit kvetching and share with you the writings of an amazing talent. Please take a look and keep in mind the author will be giving away a digital copy of 'More than Just a Dog' to one randomly selected visitor. So please stop and leave a comment for your opportunity to win a copy of this novel.

Here's a taste:

Three generations of independent women, driven in different directions by one man’s anger. Until his death reconnects them with their mystical Irish ancestors and wonders beyond this limited human existence.

Trained in the shamanic arts by her Irish grandmother, Chessie Durand travels to alternate worlds to rescue animals in danger. Aided by her Chosen One, an angel dog and a mysterious merkaba necklace, she discovers powers unknown to most humans.

Ever practical, her mother provides a sanctuary for these alien and exotic species stall-beside-stall with barnyard creatures. And when their paradise is threatened by ignorance and poachers and unknown dangers beyond the stargates, Marlise loads her shotgun and joins the fight.

Oh, alright. Here's more of the story.

With only a fleeting second thought, Peter entered the coordinates in the computer implanted in his wrist to transport to the cave on Chessie’s farm. His mentor had warned him of disturbances in the stargate that caused several “incidents” and had resulted in the decision to seal it off. However, Peter hoped opening the surface entrance had corrected those disturbances.

This was the most direct route to see Chessie and, after weeks of waiting, he wanted more than to just court her in dreams. He wanted to touch her. Smell the scent of flowers in her hair. Convince her they could build a relationship in the real world.

But which real world? His dimension or hers? Or perhaps somewhere totally different.

One step at a time, Peter reminded himself. After his abrupt departure the last time he had seen her, Chessie might not exactly fall eagerly into his arms. Best he establish a cover story before he contacted her. Thanks to a disagreement between the ruling governments of his dimension, he had some time off between assignments of retrieving endangered species during which he could pursue his Chosen One.

He stepped through the stargate in his dimension, anticipating the look of pleasure on Chessie’s face when she saw him.

”Danger. Danger. Coordinates cannot be guaranteed.” His computer implant transmitted the message to Peter’s brain as his body was sucked into a spinning vortex, faster and faster, buffeted on all sides by angry voices and recriminations until he blacked out.

~ * ~

The rock formations fascinated Chessie as she descended into the cave. However, the hot springs drew her most strongly. She loved to slip into the heated water and feel all her tensions wash away, as she was doing today. She thought about posting a notice at the entrance of the cave informing her family of her private hours in the hot springs so she could soak in the nude. But so far, she limited herself to wearing a modest one-piece bathing suit while in the springs.

Her body floated slightly as she closed her eyes and leaned her head back on a rubber pillow she brought with her. “Ahhh…”

She wondered if Peter would enjoy the hot springs as much as she did. Where was he? Were her dreams of Peter and the cave simply her overactive imagination?

Intuitively, she knew more than fantasies were involved. She hoped by returning to the cave, she could solve this mystery.

With her eyes closed, her mind and body relaxed even more. The water rippled against her skin, soothing and calming. A small wave splashed against her chin and Chessie shifted her body. Opening her eyes, she noticed tiny, choppy waves across the pool’s surface that hadn’t been active when she first stepped into the pool.

Sitting up straight now, she touched the merkaba around her neck and wondered if some of its magic was at work.

The ground began rumbling.

Get out of the pool. Chap’s image appeared in her mind.

She didn’t need to be told twice. She shoved her feet back in her tennis shoes and pulled the terry cloth robe around her body.

Frozen with fascination, she stared toward the rock wall where the cave ended—that her grandmother insisted wasn’t the same as when the cave had been closed up.

The rock wall was now splitting apart like giant elevator doors, revealing the dark night sky filled with billions of stars and a spinning vortex that grew larger and larger as it moved toward her.
Use the merkaba, Chap stated. Do not give in to fear. Simply know the merkaba will protect you.
Chessie braced her feet at shoulder width apart and placed a hand over the merkaba. Protect all that is pure. Surround us with love and keep us safe.

She didn’t know where the words came from, but Chessie repeated them over and over as the vortex engulfed her, echoing with her grandfather’s angry voice. “You will never practice your witch’s spells again! You will be obedient! You will do as I tell you!”

Images of her grandfather as he had been when alive swirled within the vortex. Chessie held fast to the merkaba and called upon the spirit of her grandfather. Help us! By all that is loving and pure, keep us safe!

As Chessie repeated these words, a body fell at her feet as the vortex faded and drifted away like mist dispersing under the morning sun.

About Genie...

Fur against my face and the soft smell of a dog curled protectively around me existed before my first memories of this life. So began my journey of being more in tune with animals than with people.

I went through the expected motions of marriage, kids, divorce, and career, but usually out of step with most of the human population. This proved to be an advantage in developing an independence and a curiosity about things most people don’t even consider.

A minor health issue led to energy healing and becoming a master level Reiki practitioner. Working at the local animal shelter flipped on the switch to communicating with animals. Each dog I adopted showed miraculous changes most people couldn’t believe.

As a writer, I explored the mysteries of why people behave as they do, and also became fascinated by science, especially quantum physics. But perhaps my favorite way of writing stories is to ask the question, “What if?” and dive into those imagined worlds—surrounded by my beloved furbabies, of course!

Website URL: www.GenieGabriel.com
Blog URL: http://quantumcanines.blogspot.com
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/genene.valleau

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Very, very, very interesting subject

Today, we attack the overuse of adverbs. The biggest problem I find as an editor is writers insisting on using overwhelming amounts of adverbs. The words very, really, hardly, every, pretty much all the ly words should be banned from use in manuscripts. A strong adjective or precise verbs can relay the information you need to get across to your readers. Adding very or really doesn't make quite the impact. For example:

She was very pretty or her beauty was breathtaking. 
He worked really hard or he toiled from sunup to sundown.

Go through your manuscript, search and find all the verys, reallys, and ly words. Then eliminate them and use proper adjectives to enforce your story.

Friday, August 11, 2017

I'm Baaaccckkk!

You thought you were shed of me. Ha!

Today, I'm approaching a subject where I have been guilty of committing this sin. Character crowds.

What? Character crowds. As I mentioned, I'm guilty of creating such a phenomena. I was encouraged to expand a story I'd written about a reverse Frog/Princess story with Dragons and Shapeshifters. The story started simply with the main female shapeshifter discovering her condition and a real dragon near Mt. St. Helen's in Washington. I made the mistake of allowing the characters to take over and, quickly, wound up with clans of dragons and shifters from all corners of the world. 

This book did become the base for my dragon series but, initially, that was not my intention. Having so many characters vying for the reader's attention will make them tired, cranky and liable to put the book down and walk away. I've been fortunate my readers liked the story enough to slug through the characters and ask for more.

If you must have myriad characters, give them names that aren't similar. Provide solid descriptions of the characters and give each a particular trait shared by no other. Let their personalities shine so your reader knows exactly who is speaking when they read the lines. If there have been numerous pages since the character appeared, give a short introduction, i.e., Bob, Betty's old boyfriend who recently returned from Asia...

You can always create an index page listing the names and a few identifying traits.

I think it best to create your characters so well, there is no need for an index. After all, look what J.K. Rowling accomplished with her cast of thousands. Everyone knows who Snape is.

Mistress of the Red Ink Pens

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Putting life on hold.

The Mistress of the Red Ink Pens is putting all projects on hold for the time being. 

Mistress of the Red Ink Pens

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Two little words -- as, so


I recently edited a story consisting of around ninety thousand words. In the one hundred fifty pages of text, the word as was used 2600 times. After the first thirty or forty instances, I decided to search and find just how many were in the manuscript. To say I was blown away would be an understatement. 

My Doubleday Dictionary cites the word to be an adverb. Adverbs are defined thusly: 'Any of a class of words used to modify the meaning of a verb, adjective, or other adverb, in regard to time, place, manner, means, cause, degree, etc.'

When writing your story, after the first draft, check your verbs. If they are strong active verbs, the need for additional adverbs will be unnecessary. Don't tack on additional bits and bobs with, "as he left the room" or "as if she didn't already know". Once or twice in your work is sufficient; 2600 times is over the top. Your reader will close the story and walk away. 


Another adverb overly abused in writing. I'm finding too many authors depend on this little word to start a sentence or conversation. "So, what do you think?" While this is common everyday language, we as writers should strive for the best standard to present to the reader. "What do you think?" conveys the same message and doesn't sound -- sloppy. 

This little word, along with a couple others I'll rave on about later, has become a standard crutch for too many. After you have finished your novel, newspaper piece, or story, do a search/find to see how much you might have abused the two little adverbs here; as, so.

Mistress of the Red Ink Pens

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Four letter word

What you see above is the Mistress after having removed the 100th that in a manuscript... in the first chapter. Obviously, I'm exaggerating, a bit, but some days it feels as though writers have forgotten all the rules of English.

That is, indeed, a four letter word. It's the lazy way of taking a pause while pretending to write. Even the Mistress uses the word when speaking, but my keyboard gives me an electric shock if I write it in a story.

Go through your manuscript. Search and find  EVERY that. Read the sentence with it, then read the sentence eliminating the word. Nine times out of ten, you'll realize the word is unnecessary to the thought you want to convey. Consider it a four letter word and stop using it.

Your editor will love you.

Mistress of the Red Ink Pens