Thursday, June 28, 2018

Do You Hear Wedding Bells?

We have some exciting news in The Writer's Alley!

Our very own Casey married her Prince Charming this week.

Pepper, Ashley, and Krista got to witness the nuptials firsthand! They provided live-action video and pictures for the rest of us who were swooning at home.

We will not apologize for how excited we are or how very little chill we have. We have loved watching Casey's love story unfold, this picture of God's goodness and faithfulness to two amazing people! Stories like theirs are BETTER than fiction. 

We love you, Casey and Nathan!

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

#TipfulTuesday: The Best Place to Find Character Names

Cemeteries are the PERFECT place to find unique names. 
This is not an idea to pooh-pooh.

See the center stone in the photo below? My daughter just returned from a trip to the UK. She spent a day at Edinburgh, Scotland, and stopped by this cemetery where she took this photo. This is the place where J.K. Rowling went to find names for her characters! This is the stone for the real Thomas Riddell, a name used for one of her characters. She found other names in the cemetery as well.

So why not just Google websites with names?

Because those are lists of names every other writer is searching through. I've also found the same names appearing in most lists. No variety. Nothing that ... pops. The one name that best fits YOUR character could be in a cemetery. The one that will be a memorable name for all readers now and in the future.

Because these are true local names. Visit the cemetery where your story takes place. Search for the time period your character lives. Mix and match amazing names. You will be pleased.

Once upon a time, we could go to libraries and search old phone books. Now, you have to pay to view these lists online. And while that cost is less than traveling to your setting, think of the many benefits of visiting that local! The sites. The smells. The people. 

Cemeteries aren't morbid places. They celebrate lives that have contributed to society and history. I challenge you to find your next character's name in one.

~Mary Vee
Photo Credit: Carly Vaitkevicius and Peter, photographer

Mary Vee -  Mary Vee - Rock climbing, white-water rafting, and hiking top Mary’s list of ways to enjoy a day. She was homeless for a time, earned her MA in Counseling, and married an Air Force vet.  Mary has been a finalist in several writing contests and writes for her King.

Visit Mary at her websiteblog, and her ministry blog to families: God Loves Kids. Or chat on Facebook or Twitter

Mary's new release, Daring to Live, is a new release on Amazon.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

The Importance of Setting in Fiction

I read another chapter of Donald Maass's book, The Fire In Fiction, and it was all about setting. When I think about setting, I usually think about the place and the details, but Maass says it is oh-so-much-more! You "bring the setting into the story in a way that integrates it into the very fabric of your character's experience." Easier said than done, I know. But he gives suggestions on how, like:

LINKING DETAILS AND EMOTIONS - Take a childhood home, for instance. Describe the place and let your character experience the feelings the place evokes. Together, details and emotions make a place a living thing.

MEASURING CHANGE OVER TIME - Tangible things in your scene can bring out passage of time, such as ice cream trucks, crew neck sweaters, leaf blowers, Popsicles, swim suits, scarfs, snow plows, etc. Of course, these things can evoke emotions as well, to enhance the experience of your character.

HISTORY IS PERSONAL - Historical detail is a good thing, but a story doesn't have to be chock full of it. Creating a sense of the times is not just about the details (or even coupling them with emotions). The times are also enhanced by infusing a character with strong opinions about both the details and the emotions. What does the character feel about historical events? What shapes his views?

SEEING THROUGH CHARACTER'S EYES - Use different POV characters to "see" the setting. Each character's personality will see with different emotions and from a different perspective.

CONJURING A MILIEU - Yeah, I had to look that word up. (*blush*) It means a social or cultural environment. It is not necessarily a "place", but something like the world of pro-baseball players, or the life of stage actors, etc. This is what Maass said about it: "A milieu exists not in a time or place, but in the mind and hearts of the characters who dwell in it. Their memories, feelings, opinions, outlook and ways of operating in their realm are what make it real."

SETTING AS A CHARACTER: A setting may participate in the story, like a blizzard, drought, or nature. It can be a place of significance, like The Boardwalk on Coney Island. It could be the place where your husband proposed and you spend every anniversary at. You make it real by making it significant to the character.

As always, Maass gives many examples of each point from many different author's works. It is very helpful to see how others are doing it.

Setting is one of my weak points in writing. I like dialogue and action best, so all the details slip me by. I am trying to incorporate setting with each new scene, but I am definitely a minimalist. :)

Do you love to build your story's world? If not, how do you make yourself write the setting? What tools or rituals do you use?

**Originally posted at on 6/22/09
**Photo by schwoaze at

Sherrinda Ketchersid is a born and bred Texan, preacher’s wife, mother of 4 children, and works part-time as a bookseller at Amazon. With the children grown and out of the house, she weaves tales of fierce knights and their ladies in a time where men were warriors and women had to be strong enough to keep them in check.

After taking time off from writing, she has returned with a new motto in place to spur her on. “Writers write. Everyone else makes excuses.” ~Jack Bickham.  No excuses this time. She is weaving her love of romance with history to bring joy and the hope of love to those who may one day read her stories. Her first book, tentatively The Lady's Masquerade, will release April 2019.

You can connect with her through:

Personal blog:
Twitter: @sherrinda
Instagram: @sherrinda