The Name Game

I hope you’re enjoying this week’s Wednesday. This week’s Wednesday only happens once, so milk it for all it’s worth. August is just a couple days away. There is only one August 2020. Make it count!

Have you ever thought, do character names matter? The answer is absolutely. How much time do you give to considering the names of your characters? It may be one important step you overlook. Here are some ideas from my course, What a Character! You can get more information on the Books and Resources page. I’ve discounted all courses. Now, let’s create your character’s name.

1. Check root meanings. Use hidden meanings in your names.

In my book, Cadeyrn’s Tale, Cadeyrn is a battle king. Guess what the name Cadeyrn means? Yep, Battle King.

In The Voice, I named the Protagonist Peter. Peter means a stone – something stable, something solid. Peter became the stabilizing force of the story. He remained solid throughout the turmoil that surrounded his life.

2. Choose names that agree with the time period and location of your story.

I might have named Cadeyrn Mason or Joe. I could have named him Abraham or Asher. I set the story in 5th-century Ireland. A 21st-century name wouldn’t work. Neither would a 4,000-year-old Jewish name. It had to be 5th-century Ireland. You might find help at

3. Speak the names out loud

Your novel might become an audiobook or an e-book with text-to-speech enabled. Consider the Name, Adam Messina. It may be fine on paper but could be confusing when spoken – Adam Essina? Adah Messina?

4. Don’t muddle the cast.

It’s a good idea to avoid using the character’s first initial with multiple characters. Also, try to vary the number of syllables in the names. Think Winch-Hunt’s Tom Winch, Mrs. Camp, Ronald Berry.

5. Use alliterative initials.

If you want a character to stand out, maybe alliteration is the answer. Think of Margie McClanahan in The Voice. Or Commander Colbo in Pinpoint Analysis. Don’t overuse it, but it can add a nice touch.

Okay. Let’s get on with our Wednesday. See you in a week!



Are You a Busy Beaver or an Eager Beaver?

Welcome to my world. Every minute of every hour is booked today. I’m already wondering how I’ll get it all done. The truth is, it won’t all be done. Busyness is good unless it becomes overly busy, and I’m hitting the threshold.

Busyness calls for prioritizing. First things first. Second things second. Your priorities differ from mine, so we each need to devise an individual plan that works for us. The point is to make a plan – then do it. Sometimes when we get overwhelmed as writers, we just do nothing. I hope that’s not the case with you. Sometimes we can become eager beavers, wanting to accomplish rather than being busy beavers and actually doing.

Let’s face it. To do nothing can lead to discouragement and a feeling of defeat. No matter how hard it may be, if we do what we know to do, we will feel better.

Have you heard the saying, “Likes beget likes.” Two cats won’t produce a dog, but they will create something like themselves – another cat. Guess what! Left to itself, procrastination begets more procrastination. It takes an intentional effort on our part to break the cycle.

But know also, activity begets activity. Once you get the ball rolling, it’s much easier to keep it rolling. So on this Wednesday, get your ball rolling. Be a busy beaver but not an exhausted beaver. Have an incredible week and I’ll see you next Wednesday.


Rules – Rules – Rules # 2

Does anyone care about the Pennsylvania weather? Does it really matter what I have planned for the day? Nope. So how’s your weather? What’s your day look like? I’d like to hear about it?

That being said, let’s get on with it. My friend, Lori, suggested we continue to peek (see rule # 7) at some grammar rules – and so we shall. Here are seven more for you to think about.

  1. What is the difference between everyday and every day? Use everyday as an adjective and every day to mean each day.
  2. Fables/Parables/Allegories – Both fables and parables are allegories, the difference being fables feature animals while parables use humans to make their point.
  3. Is it heroes or heros? It depends. Do you want to use the plural form of hero (heroes) or are you talking about a fish (hero)?
  4. What is correct – into or in to? Into is a preposition used to express movement toward or into something (The caterpillar turned into a butterfly). In to is just in followed by the word to (They moved in to the housed).
  5. Is it it’s or its? It’s is a contraction for it is. Its is either a possessive pronoun or an adjective. When you can’t replace it with it is, it usually is its. How’s that for a mouthful?
  6. Leaped/Leapt/Lept – Leaped and leapt (leapt is the UK spelling) are both accepted as past tense for leap. Lept – well, it doesn’t exist. It’s a misspelling of leapt. Simple enough.
  7. Should I use peek or peak or pique? Peek means to look at something. Peak represents the highest point as in a mountain peak. Pique means to stimulate. Depending on what you want to say will determine which one you use.

Let me know how you make out with these. Maybe we’ll look at some more at another time. Until next week . . .


Rules – Rules- Rules

The sun is slowly rising over Central Pennsylvania while the cover of night quietly fades. Another hot and humid day is on the way. But that’s okay. I hear people say, “It’s too hot.” I hear the same people on a winter’s day say, “It’s too cold.” Some folks always have something to complain about. All the complaining in the world won’t change most of what we complain about. As I said many times before, you only get one shot at this thing called life. Make it count. With that in mind, let’s get to it.

Life is filled with rules. Most of us don’t like rules. But in reality, most rules are set in place for our good, and the writing world is no exception. It’s probably safe to say in fiction writing you can get away with breaking rules. But even at that, we need to keep grammar rules in place. Let me give you seven things to think about and apply as you write.

  1. A lot, alot, or allot? “A lot” can be an adverb or a pronoun. “Allot” is a verb. “Alot” is usually a misspelling of “a lot” and there is no such word.
  2. All right or alright?. “All right” is used to replace the word “okay.” The word “alright” doesn’t exist. You can use it, but it has no meaning.
  3. Is it E-mail or email? Both the AP and Chicago style guides agree. Drop the hyphen. It’s definitely “email.”
  4. Ensure or insure? “Insure” refers to financial insurance policies and “ensure” means to make certain.
  5. Raise or rise.? Both mean the same thing, but a subject “raises” an object while something that “rises” does it on its own. 
  6. Let alone or leave alone? “Leave alone” means to leave a person alone by himself. On the other hand, “let alone” means to quit annoying a person.
  7. Might or may?. “May” and “might” mean the same thing, but “may” hints you’re more likely to do it, while “might” signals you’re less likely to follow through.

Okay (or is OK or O.K.? – all three are correct), that does it for this week. Have a great week and stay COVID Free.


Two Favorites

Welcome to Wednesday and July 1st. This July 4th we’ll be celebrating 244 years of freedom. It breaks my heart to see how much freedom we’ve given away – or have we allowed it to be taken from us? Socialism is so close. The Illuminati are just a step away from fulfilling its goal of a worldwide takeover.

Please do your research as to what is really happening behind the scenes, especially in troubled America. There is so much more than meets the eye. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me. I’ll be glad to fill you in, but you owe it to yourself to know the facts.

I’ll get off my soapbox. Let’s get on to writing and my two favorites.

No, I’m not talking about hamburgers or even chicken nuggets. I’m talking about my two favorite editing tools. And no, I’m not being paid to promote these. They just work well for me, and maybe they’d work well for you, too.

The first one is ProWritingAid. There is a free version and a paid version at a reasonable price. PWA claims to be a grammar checker, style editor, and writing mentor in one package. And it is.

The free version lets you run reports on style and grammar issues. If you’re willing to spend some cash on an outstanding editor, PWA is running a 25% off sale, but you must act fast. The sale ends at midnight, July 2.

The paid plan offers many upgrades including a thesaurus, a check for repeats, cliches, structure, sticky sentences, and a lot more. One of my students is using it and with wonderful success. I recommend it to you, as well. You can check it out at

I would also recommend FreeWriter ( FreeWriter says of itself, “FreeWriter is a fully featured writing software suite to assist in writing novels and reports. It provides a fresh, new, graphical approach to writing. It includes our revolutionary ‘Thoughts Canvas’ technology to harness your creativity – helping deliver clear, consistent, quality writing.” It fulfills its promise.

And as the name suggests, it’s free. There is also a paid option. Although you can use FreeWriter for any kind of writing, it is especially helpful for writing novels and other fiction.

It is not an editor, but for organization, it can’t be beat. The “Thoughts Canvas” allows you to plan your scenes in minimal outline form using index cards. You can pin ideas using sticky notes to the bulletin board for future use. You can check your word count per chapter using the pie graph and track your overall productivity. There is a section for developing characters and scenes using the “Elements” section. It’s similar to Scrivener, but it’s free. That’s a big plus.

Take a look at these two and let me know what you think. That’s enough for today – and have a happy 4th. See you next Wednesday!