Recently I was working on a new scene from Book II of the Liberty Trilogy. Reading it aloud, I noticed a decided lack of personal attributes. I needed to give my character something to show of himself.
A few years back, I bought five books by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi designed to help the writer with characters and settings. I keep the books within arm’s length. However, more often than not, I forget them. I reached for The Positive Trait Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Attributes.
Searching the index, I couldn’t find a trait that fit what I had in mind. Oh, well, find something. I noticed three characteristics that gave me an idea of how to rewrite several paragraphs. When finished, I was happy with what was now on the paper. I decided to keep the guide on my desk.
Days later, I needed another clue. Reaching for the guide, I noticed the book on my desk was The Negative Trait Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Flaws.
I reread the scene and decided the character flaws made for a more compelling character and storyline than positive traits.
Thanks, Angela and Becca.
Photo by Sonya Sones
Saturday, October 19, 2013 the Tri-Valley Branch of the California Writer’s Club was privileged to have Jim Averbeck as our guest speaker. Jim studied engineering at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio.
Looking for an opportunity to serve and grow, he joined the Peace Corps. He spent almost four years living and working in the western Africa country of Cameroon.
It was in Cameroon where he got the inspiration for his first children’s book.
Jim has a fun and interesting blog, Jim Averbeck * Words and Pictures. Visit him at http://www.jimaverbeckbooks.com/
His story, from idea to publication, took several turns, along with ups, downs, and bumps. If you ever get a chance to hear him speak, take it. Although his genre has been children’s books, his journey is one all aspiring writer’s should hear. It wasn’t an easy one. Talent he has plenty of, but talent isn’t everything. He needed perseverance and the ability to roll with the punches to succeed. He has plenty of both.
Jim’s description of the path to publication is one of the best I’ve heard. More than a few of the audience, myself included, left wondering, do I have what it takes? Can I accomplish what Averbeck has managed?
Jim writes Picture Books, Middle Grade, and Young Adult. He is currently working on his first novel for the middle grade audience, a mystery set in San Francisco. From his description of the characters and plot, I know one seasoned citizen reader who looks forward to reading about “Hitch”.
Picture Books by Jim Averbeck:
• The Market Bowl (2013)
• Oh, No, Little Dragon (2012)
• except if (2011)
• In a Blue Room (2008)
My.SilverAge and HARO
Last spring I attended a California Writers Club – Tri-Valley Branch meeting at which the guest speaker addressed out-of-the-box ways to get to know new people. One method was Help-A-Reporter-Out (HARO) www.helpareporter.com.
The speaker explained that by subscribing to HARO she has contributed to several articles, picked up some publicity, and best of all she developed a long-time friendship with an editor at a large New York newspaper.
HARO is easy. Go to the web site and sign up. Once on the mailing list I receive one or two emails each business day. If busy, I just hit delete, but I hate to miss out. Reporters from all forms of media need people to interview on countless topics. When I open HARO email I skip Biotech and Healthcare and head for the other eight to ten categories. Sometimes I find interesting requests in several categories.
In May I saw a subject line that caught my attention, Looking for seniors who started something new after 65.
I sent the reporter an email describing two things I started after 65, zip-lining and writing. I heard back the next day. The reporter already had a writer, but she was interested in my fear of heights, and zip-lining. We exchanged a few emails. Today, I’m one of six senior citizens featured in a slide show on my.SilverAge http://mysilverage.thebegroup.org/Retirement/6-Fearless-Seniors-Tackle-Their-Bucket-Lists. I’m number three.
This was the first tower we climbed. The reporter used two other photographs for her slideshow.
It’s takes five to ten minutes a day, less than an hour a week to check HARO. I’m sure that everyone who reads this blog could help a reporter. I guarantee you’ll have fun doing it.
I’m corresponding with a reporter now who is doing a piece on the difficulties faced by people in their sixties trying to find a job.
My motto: “Don’t act your age. Just because we’re old in the eyes of society doesn’t mean we have to sit in a rocker and act like old people. Be young in mind and spirit. If you want to try something new, do it.”
Paula Chinick is another amazingly talented writer from the Tri-Valley Area.
Writing as P.C. Chinkck, Paula has completed her first novel, Red Asscher~Living In Fear, a spy thriller set in 1943 China. The terror and atrocities experienced by the Chinese at the time of the Japanese Occupation is intense in this too believable novel. A fearful American woman thrown into Japanese occupied Shanghai confronts her tragic past. As the story progresses, murder and treachery find her.
Toss in a few spies, add some Communist Chinese intrigue, and the story comes to life. I wasn’t able to put it down once I turned the first page.
Look for Red Asscher-Living in Fear to be published this year
Paula is working on the second book in the Red Asscher Series, Red Asscher~The Mission.
Paula has contributed short stories to:
Tri-Valley Anthology – Voices of the Valley: First Press (Createspace 2011)
Oakland’s Creative Writing Anthology – Tapestry
The California Writers Club Literary Review 2013
Originally from Seattle, Paula has lived in California for over 25 years. She spent the majority of her career in Information Technology as a project manager working for various Fortune 500 companies. She holds an MBA in International Business from John F. Kennedy University. After the economy collapsed, she decided to retire and pursue her greatest passion – writing.
She is the president of California Writers Club Tri-Valley Branch www.trivalleywriters.org.
Paula has a very interesting Tag Line, one that gives one pause for thought: If you live your life in fear and had the opportunity to change…would you?
For more information, visit her website: www.redasscher.com
This talented author writes under the name Jordan Bernal. Jordan is a committed fantasy fiction writer. She is so dedicated that as part of the research for her soon to be released novel, The Keepers of Eire, she traveled to Ireland where she visited and pictorially recorded the historical locations in her novel.
For centuries dragons have protected Ireland, their existence kept secret with the help of earth magic and their human riders. That secret is threatened now that the bodies of four riders have been found at sacred Irish sites.
Christian Riley, a man with secrets of his own, is haunted by vivid dreams of each slaying. As each dream intensifies, he wonders if he is the killer.
An American searching for her Irish roots, Devan Fraser, stumbles into the mystery of the murders while exploring the secrets behind her inherited heirloom dragon ring.
Christian’s only memento from the mother who gave him up for adoption is a dragon pendant that matches Devan’s ring. Together they discover the truth of dragons, their destinies, and the depths of honor and loyalty people will go to protect the ones they love.
Journey with Christian and Devan as they discover a shared destiny and rush to stop a dragon slayer.
Jordan is currently working on:
•Tri-Valley Writers 2nd anthology:
Fáilte to Ireland: Guinness Anyone? – Short story/travel
Writing at Zero Dark Thirty – Poem
Winter’s Grip – Poem
•Book 2 of The Keepers series: The Keepers of Caledonia
Jordan Bernal earned her BS in Business Entrepreneurship. She spent most of her first career in the high-tech industry as a Product Coordinator / Technical Writer. Her enduring love of fantasy, especially dragons, inspired her to write her debut novel, The Keepers of Éire. She is a member of California Writers Club Tri-Valley Branch and credits her growth as a writer to her critique group, open mic nights, and various writing classes she has attended.
Jordan lives in the Tri-Valley region of Northern California. When she isn’t writing, or helping aspiring writers, Jordan enjoys reading, landscape photography, and spending time with Roarke, her Pomeranian.
Other published works:
•Mission Works 2 (Mission College, Santa Clara) 1997 –
Impressing a Dragon – Short Story
Goodbye My Friend – Non-fiction
•San Ramon Valley Times 2008 –
Mother’s Day flash prose for “Smiles and Tears”
•Voices of the Valley: First Press 2011 –
The Keepers of Éire – a synopsis in poem format
Revelations – excerpt from novel The Keepers of Éire
•All That Remains – Las Positas College Anthology 2013 –
Dreams – Poem
Get Off The Road – Poem
To learn more about Jordan Bernal, or to contact her: