Monday, June 23, 2014

The Beauty of Scotland

When Neely Powell (Leigh Neely and Jan Powell) began writing True Nature, I (Leigh) was fortunate enough to visit her son's family in Scotland. Due to the birth of her granddaughter and the subsequent birth of her grandson, she spent a total of four months in and around the area of Giffnock, just a little ways from Edinburgh.

It really is a culture shock to live away from America. Grocery stores are different, the number of incredibly old buildings just boggles the mind, and the value of learning the history of where you are seemed enhanced.

I loved Giffnock. I became accustomed to walking everywhere, something I'd never done in America. There were times, however, when I did have to ask my sweet daughter-in-law to let me sit a while between going to the post office, the grocery store, and the local park. Unfortunately, I did not continue my walking once I returned home.

Giffnock looks much like a village of old, with its beautiful stone buildings and narrow streets. I didn't drive while over there. I was sure I'd forget which side of the road I should be on and cause an accident. My son and his wife have adapted well and since leaving Scotland, have lived in Dublin and are now in London. It makes for wonderful vacations and give us opportunities to get to know places in the UK, not just visit them.

At any rate, Giffnock plays a significant role in the story of True Nature. The family of shape shifters the story focuses on are from this area and have a long and colorful Scottish history that includes a battle between clans.

Here's an excerpt:

My thoughts went back to the little kitchen in the cottage where Hunter and I stayed. We were there for two months, in the countryside between Glasgow and Edinburgh. It was close enough to town to have fun and had enough land attached to give Hunter a place to roam free and work out the kinks of shapeshifting.

We were looked after that summer by two of the MacRae family’s devoted employees. Tall, spare Robert McPhee had once been the right hand man of Hunter’s grandfather and great-grandfather. Though his face was seamed with age, he didn’t miss a beat. He knew where Hunter and I were at all times, and had even shown up a time or two unexpectedly, both in the city and out in the countryside.

It was eerie, I remembered. It was as if he had a special ability where Hunter was concerned. Robert’s wife, Molly, was as short and round he was tall and thin. Though as ancient as he was, she kept the cottage sparkling and the scent of delicious savories and sweets coming from the kitchen. That trip was one of my best summer vacations.

The beautiful countryside of Scotland seemed the perfect setting for the home of shape shifters and dysfunctional psychics! Read True Nature for their story!

Please visit us on all our sites:

Friday, June 20, 2014

What’s in a name?

Didn’t some sage on the 16th Century say, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet”… perhaps, but would it be as enticing, as interesting?

How would we view romantic fiction’s most popular and notorious heroine were her name Maude instead of Scarlett O’Hara. And what if her long-suffering suitor was named Joe instead of Rhett Butler would he have garnered the same swashbuckling bravado in our imaginations. And this works not only for the bold, the driven, and the beautiful. Let’s try and imagine a dark-hearted, morose old man named Fred instead of Ebenezer Scrooge… not quite the same. And what about Alexandria Eyre? Somehow we find it hard to imagine Charlotte Bronte’s stubborn, small, plain heroine with such an illustrious name.

No, without a doubt, character names have a vital place in both historical and contemporary literature. How often do I here the ladies swoon when the name “Ranger” is mentioned in association with heroine Stephanie Plum. Somehow if Ms. Ivanovich had named him Bob the macho element would definitely be lacking.

Convinced yet. Great!

We authors resort to a wide variety of devices, formulas, and even tricks to try to give their characters names their reading audience will remember. I’ve never subscribed to one of the many services that offer names for sale. I have friends who do. Others search the news media. Some resort to the obituaries searching for names. My best writing friend seeks names that are not only distinctive but give an exotic flavor to her characters. I admit I’m more a grass roots type. I give my characters names that I (and my beta readers) find appropriate not through formula or science but by the touch and feel method.  

My debut novel featured a heroine named Courtney (Definition: of the court) who was the embodiment of a one-thousand year old Wiccan Goddess. Her heroine was named Robert… a strong masculine name. I intentionally abbreviated his proper name by having his intimates call him Robbie, an indication of his naïveté and relative immaturity, at least when compared with his beautiful but ancient heroine. The other strongest character was Simon, an all powerful male witch who embodied both the mystery and strength contained in his name.

My latest novel features Eric, a strong monosyllabic name (definition: one strong who rules) suited for my strong, Special Forces veteran hero and Ashley-Jean (definition: one who sees, which we discover she is), a brilliant, technology savant; a frightened young woman seeking refuge from the evil that pursues her. As a young, southern woman the name seemed to fit perfectly and my test readers agreed.
Which brings up another point: the name must not only lend a visual to the character’s image in the readers mind but must symbolize their place in the story.

In a few hundred words it’s difficult to give a thorough explanation of how and why we authors chose certain methods and different strategies to breathe life into our characters not only with their thoughts and deeds but by what we call them.

I welcome input from readers and fellow authors alike why and how you choose to name your characters. Until next time…

Kevin Symmons is a successful author, college faculty member, and president of one of the Northeast's most respected writing organizations. His paranormal novel, "Rite of Passage", was a 2013 RomCon Reader's Crown Award finalist and has been an Amazon Best Seller. "Out of the Storm", a contemporary romantic thriller set on Cape Cod, is has gathered numerous 5 star reviews and will keep you turning pages late into the night. His novel "Solo", is a sweeping women's fiction work that exposes the tragedy of domestic violence in America, will be released from his award-winning publisher, the Wild Rose Press, in 2014. Kevin has collaborated with award-winning Boston screenwriter and playwright Barry Brodsky in adapting one of his story ideas for the screen. He is a sought after public speaker who has appeared across New England. Visit Kevin and like his FB Author Page, @KevinSymmons on Twitter, at Goodreads, Amazon, and at his website,

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

My Corner Office - Eve Dew Crook

I admire people who can write with music playing. I’d find it distracting, for I’d be humming the tune before I knew it. I’m a concentrator. (If there is such a word....) My little office was once a dinette off the kitchen. It’s small, but I have a glass door on one side and a window in front of my computer, so I don’t feel closed in. What the picture doesn’t show, behind me, is a large closet that houses my washer and dryer—and that clackety clack music is often my background.
My favorite time to write is all morning, but if I’m caught up in a scene that’s working, I’ll keep going through half the afternoon. After that my brain usually turns off. It’s the pattern I followed for Taking the Tumble, published last year by TWRP, and my new novel, with the working title of Peril Passion, Peru. (I do love alliteration, but I’ll happily settle for any better title someone dreams up!) 

Eve Dew Crook, author of Taking the Tumble published by TWRP, shows her office bulletin board with computer on left, 
printer on right. Photo is her son, sculpture photos are her husband's work. The button in the upper left corner reads, "I 
have abandoned my search for truth and am now looking for a good fantasy."