What did you sayWe talked about settings and locations. Sometimes these two words are interchangeable, but take another look. Location is the area, state, or country where you want your story to unfold. Setting is the word pictures of the location. The names you choose have an impact on your location and setting and time period.

If you are writing a novel — historical fiction or historical non-fiction, the names you give your characters are important. You need to use a certain name and see if your character fits the name. Sometimes, as writers, we hear a great name and an immediate urge to use this for our character hits. Sometimes, the character hates the name and nothing you write turns out great. Guess what? The character can damage your story with her/his actions.

Say you are writing in the late 1800’s and fell in love with the name Trixie. In researching, you find no such name for that period. Still, you want to shake up the era and get Trixie noticed. Your character does not follow your wants. Once you change her name to Emma, the story takes shape and you are on your way. Now, you need a male name to join Emma in her escapades. Lucas and Trixie might make headlines in a modern piece of work, but Emma needs a strong man with her.  After several names, your female character decides on Paul. As you continue to write their story, you find they work well together.

Skip forward to a modern era. You have the idea for a great romantic thriller with a female lead detective. Even in this scenario, you can see Trixie. But, no. A name gives a sense of personality, an influence on the character’s life, and an assumption on the part of the reader. A reader might hear this name and think of a flamboyant individual, not one to be a lead detective. So you scrounge around in your mind, research online, and look for strong names for a hard environment. Your inner voice whispers, Samantha, Sam for short. What about her partner? You get no help from your muse or Samantha. Okay, and you try Richard. His nicknames could be Rich,  Ricky, even Ricardo. You use these names for a few chapters and find they gain a respect for each other. This is your story.

The future holds a different line of names, which are too numerous to list. You need to get your location before any choice of names are discussed or decided. Is this a current day story with paranormal influences? Are you writing about future locations, which have not been named? Once you have your location and the settings, you need to read other stories and study the television shows in these settings.

Always remember, your character(s) know which name they feel comfortable with and will give you hours of pleasure with their antics and tribulations. These character(s) names will influence your readers. If the name sounds intelligent and attractive, then your readers will follow. Of course, this is fiction and the name your character wants can give a whole new meaning to the writing of your story. Listen to your character(s) wants and needs.

Be a creator of the best characters you can perceive and let them name themselves. Then they can’t complain. Much.

Happy Writing. Happy Name Research.

RESEARCH – Digging In For Results

images_006How do you research information for your novel? This one word covers a lot of territory. Let’s begin with a thought.

You have pictures playing in your mind. You see a movie with your characters running wild, but who are they? Where are they? Are they from the modern era or do you notice a difference in their clothing? Are they running to or away from someone or something? Will this new novel be a work of fiction or non-fiction. You stop and look at all the scribbles on the sheet of paper beside you. Where to start?

FICTION:  Start with the research of your settings/locations. If you are writing a fiction novel, you need to decide about the genre. Do you want the novel to take place in a well-known city? If you are writing historical romance, you need to research the area you want to place your characters. How about a science-fiction or future adventure? These require different research material.

Some writers/authors travel to the setting they want to use. Each street name, location of a certain store, building, or highway must be accurate. One of your first readers may be from the area you use. One mistake and credibility is out the front door. Even if you lived there, at some point in time, things change. Do your research online, at the library, write to the City Chamber of Commerce for information and brochures. Check with the state for current information. You can never have enough notes. Then your job becomes harder to separate what you want to use or discard. Just be certain to keep all your notes.

If you want to make up your setting for a fiction work, you can do this. You love the area and state of XXXX. This would be a great place to have a suspense, thriller, complete with a love triangle. You still have to research online about the state and all of its components. The research is the same, except you get to make up your city. Check and recheck city names within the state you want to use. You cannot have duplications. You can even make up a name for your fiction city, as long as nothing like it exists in the state records. This is the fun part. It is your fiction city to do with what you please, within reason. You need to make this city real and a place someone would want to live, work, play, and . . .”

Oh, you want to write a paranormal or sci-fi novel. Research is still the only way to get your setting in place for your story. Read other works. Watch movies, both old and new, and television shows. Take good notes on everything you read or see. Be certain your language fits. You will need to research the vocabulary used between the characters and whatever they are flying in, from or to.

NON-FICTION:  This requires the same tedious research. Accurate settings and information is an absolute. You are aware of your character(s), but what about the time period? Check libraries for picture details in the period. Go online and Google the dates you need, say 1800’s, and gather information on clothing, music, homes, work, politics, or whatever else you may need. Then gather information on your character(s). If you have a personal reference, be certain to take good notes and keep them in order. If this non-fiction work turns into a memoir, check the legalities in using names, places and events. Always double-check your information when a family member tells you events. You need to know if the events happened in a specific way or how the person remembers the events. The difference here is truth vs. memories.

Research is tedious work. As a writer, you will gain knowledge and expand your characters’ lives. Your stories will come alive for your readers. This is what authors want.

Happy Research.


unicorn danceYou have gone through a process of allowing yourself to use writing as a healing tool, now you can put creativity to what you learned. Go back to your journal and revisit each section.

Section One: Free Writing. What did you learn about yourself, your life, traumas, inhibitions, and the exhilaration you experienced?

Section Two: Invisible Partner. This is where you shared your secrets, longings, disappointments, and loves. Pay close attention.

Section Three: Labels. Read over each label you gave your feelings and see how they match each section in your 3-ring notebook. With your labels identified, it is time to work with your characters.

Take a good look around your home. Is there a lot of clutter? Would you work better if the ‘stuff’ was gone? How does your protagonist, antagonist, or secondary characters react to their clutter? In your story, characters bring their baggage to the pages and you need to show how they lighten their load(s). There may be one trauma left that keeps the reader hanging on until the last chapter, the last sentence, and on the last page.

What about all your secrets and loves? No, you do not list them, rather pass them on to your characters. When you rethink this section, prod yourself to go back and be an observer. Does any music or favorite song come to mind? Forget the era and remember the music. Let your character(s) feel the same beat, the slow dance, the rhythm, and the sensuous movement of bodies together.

Looking back over your notebook, is there a time when a desire you needed went the other way or the decision you made floundered? Okay, you have some insecurities and you can give these to your characters. Let them make your mistakes over and over and over. Show their anguish and how they turned away from new choices and kept repeating the same ones. Then, you show the characters pulling themselves upward, out of their messes, and your reader will relate to the incidents.

With all you have learned about yourself, you are able to create new thoughts, ideas, stimulate the brain and crawl out of the ruts. You have emotional freedom and can play with your characters.



energyNow, you have a chance to use your writing as a healing tool. Does this mean you need to journal every whim you feel? No, but let’s take a look at what we can do to help ourselves survive as a human being and a writer, at the same time.

Our brain helps us, as writers, engage in new characters and ignite relationships with characters. These relationships can be positive or negative, and we have to decide which it will be. As positive writers, we push our characters forward and make steps to improve their lives. Then with the negative, we give our characters a glimpse of the downside of their lives. We are the controller of characters. As writers, we can heal the past.

Open a 3-ring, notebook and begin with an original trauma you cannot put to bed. Free write. Do not stop and read. Forget spelling, punctuation, or any other format. What you want to do is write how you feel. You might have 5 or 50 pages. You might write for an hour, or two, or three. Do not count–just write. Once these feelings come out, you can name them, and see how they take on a different attitude.

Skip a few pages and write these findings to another person. This is your invisible partner and you can pour out all of your feelings from what you have learned. Let your sub-conscious dictate your words and feelings. Do not go back and change or erase. Let your free write take over your mind and paper. Yes, you heard right…a pen or pencil. No keystrokes allowed. There is something interactive between your head, heart, hand, and pen. Let go and give your hand and pen permission to write from corner to corner, across the page, turn the book upside down and write. There are no rules, just writing.

Another part of the notebook is for editing. This is where you put distance between what you wrote so you can vent your frustrations. Put your censor in a box and lock the lid. Read again and label each feeling with your own choice of words. Keep writing. Once the words appear for the labels, you will be surprised at the difference you have for any troubled parts of your life. Each day, you can conquer a label.  These labels are your ‘gut’ reaction, which comes from deep within. Do not change, but if you want to add something try a different colored pencil or draw a picture.

This is YOUR notebook, YOUR feelings, YOUR labels.

Next time, we will see how creative writing cam come from what you have discovered about yourself. Close your notebook, smile, and know you have traveled a long road in a short time. You have conquered the hard work, and now your creativeness will flow.



As a writer, we should read, read, and read other authors. We need inspiration by their word choices, settings and different genres. These readings stimulate our own mind and the way we look at our stories.

Read all genres, which are different from your normal writing, and then read in your genre. Read for pleasure. Experience the feelings your body absorbs. Do not question, just enjoy. Then when you finish the book, examine some of the areas where you found yourself stimulated or bored. Go back to the places and read again to see why you experience the different emotions. Do not get bogged down, let your own imagination take you on your journey through other books.

When I belonged to a book club eons ago, our choices ran rampant. We selected books at random and across all genres. This was when, in a bookstore or library, I ran to the thriller section, my get-away genre. In our book club, I found myself venturing into other areas and my mind became saturated with all books. Once every six months, we would pick a non-fiction book about a specific individual, such as Georgia O’Keeffee, Queen Victoria or Indira Gandhi, just to mention a few. You had to stay with the chosen person, but you could pick any author who wrote on this subject.Talk about intriguing and stimulating conversations….we sometimes went way over our closing time. This is where you find out how different authors view the same subject. Interesting comparisons.

A friend gave me a book while I was in the hospital. “You will enjoy reading this, I promise,” she told me.  THE GUERNSEY LITERARY AND POTATO PEEL PIE SOCIETY became my bedfellow. The author, Mary Ann Shaffer, was an editor, librarian, and bookseller. This was her first novel. Her niece, Annie Burrows, stepped in when Shaffer’s health issues took top priority. After her death, the niece’s persistence and ability to promote, gave this book the push needed for a best seller.

Take yourself back to WWII and the German invasion of Europe. There are several Channel Islands between the United Kingdom and France. This novel is about the Guernsey Channel Islands and the people who lived there and the hardships they endured. This is a book of letters and each letter to a person gives, you the reader, the feeling of being right there. You get to know the people associated with the Guernsey Island and the literary society. Sometimes, I’d put the book down and wait for–mail call. I met new and interesting characters; resourceful, funny, sad, lost lives, hard-working, limited abilities, deaths, a young child and love. All of this during the invasion of their little island. Please take yourself on a letter journey with this book. I bet you will find yourselves waiting for the mail to arrive.

This was ‘outside my box’ reading until a non-fiction writer friend loaned me a copy  one of her critique friends had published, OF HUMAN CLAY, the making and breaking of a nun by Aimee Wise.  Check her out on Facebook and Twitter

Writers, readers, and followers, I’d love to hear your comments on how and what you read “Outside Your Box.”



Two friends“See there, Edna. I told you she’d be back. Now, let’s hear what happened” Ethel remarked. “Then we can compare notes.”

I looked at the last post, September 14, and shuddered. Too long, but when you don’t feel good and go to the ER for a quick check/answer, you never take your computer, flash drive, Kindle battery connection, or even the quick charge to your cell phone. At least I don’t, and this could change. Hurt between the shoulder blades and coughing so hard, I thought….what if I cracked a rib? Sometimes things happen for a reason when we do not know what the reason is. After probing, pushing, pulling, poking, and a zillion tests — bronchial pneumonia, but wait. Another x-ray, CT scan and staring back was a tumor on the tip of my left lung. Here I go in for a diagnostic test and yes, the thing is cancerous and needs to come out. Did I feel pain? No, only from the pneumonia. A leak in the lung brought another part to their attention.

Doctors, surgeons, and nurses all have a language unauthorized for a simple human being. What? Where? What does that do? Do I have to? Sometimes my head hurt worse than the other parts of my body–until my son (medical profession) arrived and conversed with me in what I call ‘momma talk.’

He stayed with me through surgery and the removal of the tumor, the inserting of a tube in my left side to help drain fluid from my lung. Between my son, friends, and priest, I felt comfortable with what was going on. EXCEPT, I was bored and the hospital room never changed. Oops, the room number changed three times, but I could make the same turns in each room. No computer and then no charge for my cell. One of the nurses took it out to the Nurse’s Station and someone had a cord which would fit., but nothing for my Kindle.

On October 2, 2013, the drainage was down to nothing, and with my son taking me home and being there, I got released. Home never looked so good. Now, I am walking, walking, walking and walking at least 4 times a day, doing the exercises I do with my class every day, and breathing DEEP. I will return to my SilverSneakers’ class as their instructor, but will make certain the time is right.

Now, I can devote more time to writing and talking to all of you at patriciachats.

Thanks for letting me give you a short synopsis, but as my readers and followers, I felt you should know.

One thing I believe:  Cherish Yesterday. Dream Tomorrow. Live Today.

Happy writing to all.

“Okay, Edna, we are back in business and I know she’ll have some great stories from characters encountered during her ‘stay.’