Category Archives: Writing & Self Publishing

Where Do Book Characters & Their Names Come From?


I’ve been asked many times how I get the characters that appear in my books. Funny, I’ve always been shy in the admission of their history because many of the characters that show up are people that I know, or am related to in some manner. I’ve always worried what some of the people would say if they knew, consequently, it isn’t generally the first thing I’d choose to reveal. Most people don’t see themselves as others do, and in that knowledge rests my courage to portray them as I see them – good, bad or indifferent. This is not a strict rule of thumb though, as there are exceptions – you will see as you continue to read.

The easy ones to use as examples are the characters that have enviable personas, like Princess Rhylana. She was patterned after my wife and mother to my children. In the book, Rhylana portrays the very essence of what I see in her, and have seen for years. She’s spunky, aggressive, and kind to small children and animals. She’s a fighter, and never gives up.

Queen Mother was given her persona from a very dear lady to me, and companion. She’s aggressive, prone to lead anyone who’ll follow, (you know just to keep them safe) and dedicates her life to promoting the underdog. She’d spit in the eye of a demon, but runs from cockroaches and can’t keep herself from rescuing any and all small mammals.

Tanis, a lead character and spokesman for a series of my books was patterned after me.

Two exceptions are characters that were designed by readers. They signed up for a character contest to have their creations entered into volume one of my Dragomeir Series, “The Emerald Dragon.” Helup Ironfold, a Blacksmith by trade and rider to the dragon Jilocasin Sybaris Cirfis, was created by Jacob Overton and played a significant role in the book.   He appears in later books as well. Sergei Rasputin Cosmonov, a Red Immortal Demon and rider to the dragon Volansa Spirandi Bellator, was created by Joe Russomanno and also played a significant role in the book. Sergei too, has a role reprisal in later books.

When it comes to naming my characters, there are a few things that come to mind.

  • Some of the names are compilations of people I know or maybe even names of pets. A particular character may bring someone to mind because of their personality or specific traits.
  • I Google English names or words to determine what they would be in another language. It’s wise to check origins of names to make sure you have the correct one for the location of your setting.
  • Checking the “root” meaning of a name might be important too. It needs to apply to your character to make sense, unless it’s done purposely for comedy or irony.
  • Google is a great resource for almost everything. Once a name is picked, I often Google it to make sure it isn’t a real person who might be offended by the usage of their name. If there is a question, then I change it somehow.
  • I might use a name from a book I have read or a movie that I particularly liked because it fits the character I have created in some way. I’m careful not to plagiarize someone else’s characters.
  • I don’t always use a middle name or initial, depending on the character. It isn’t always necessary unless you need a specific emphasis on a name.
  • It’s also good to choose names that fit the era you are writing about, unless an unusual name for that time frame is part of the story.
  • I have even used names that I liked from a certain place or map that just sounded right for my character.

How do you name the characters in your stories? It would be fun to know.


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In what Point of View do you write?


When writing a novel there’s a universal question that most writers grapple with – how do you choose which Point of View to use? Point of view is the way the author allows you to “see” and “hear” what’s going on. There are several different points of view available to you and each one has several pros and cons. You must consider how the point of view you choose will impact the story you are trying to tell.

FIRST PERSON POV: When you tell a story through a viewpoint character using I or we. First person POV refers to the I, we, me, my, mine, us narrator, and is often the voice of the heroic character or a constant companion of the heroic character. Every detail of your story must be filtered through the storyteller. It is usually your main character. If your main character cannot see, hear, touch, smell, taste, think, know or feel it, you can’t include it. So, if you want to introduce something outside the range of your main character, you must use the words or observed actions of some other character who is in a position to see or know the events in order to convey the information you want the reader to have. Remember that the POV character cannot know the thoughts or unspoken feelings of another character.

Advantages –

  • It’s Easier to feel empathy for the character since you are spending so much time in their brain
  • It can give logic and motivations to characters that would seem otherwise evil, immoral, or otherwise not relatable.
  • It more easily fleshes a character on the page by allowing the audience to listen to their voice for long periods of time.

Disadvantages –

  • You are limited to writing about what the narrator can see or sense.
  • The narrator must constantly be on stage or observing the stage.
  • You can’t go into the minds of other characters.

SECOND PERSON POV: Where the author uses you and your – it is rare. Authors seldom speak directly to the reader. When you encounter this point of view you should pay attention. The author has made a daring choice, probably with a specific purpose in mind. Most times, second person point of view draws the reader into the story, almost making the reader a participant in the action.
Advantages –

  • The reader can feel more intimately connected and involved with the story.
  • It gives you the power to be different, even eccentric in the way you can speak to the reader so directly.
  • It gives life to the characters in a way that other viewpoints don’t.

Disadvantages –

  • It begins to feel quirky, whether you’re reading it or writing it.
  • Novels solely written in second person make it more of a possibility that the reader may feel disconnected from the story.

THIRD PERSON POV: The he, she, it, they, them narrator, third person is the most common POV in fiction. It offers a variety of possibilities for limiting omniscience: information that the narrator and reader are privy to in the telling of the story.

Advantages –

  • In omniscient mode, the narrator is all knowing and can move to anywhere in the story world.
  • The narrator can also tell the reader things the main character doesn’t know, creating dramatic irony.
  • Provides a broad perspective on the story, which is useful for epics involving many plotlines.

Disadvantages –

  • Far less intimacy between reader and main character. The reader feels as though he is looking at characters rather than being a character.
  • Narrator is reliable (this could also be seen as a pro).
  • You can confuse yourself and the reader unless every voice is distinctive.

My urban fantasy books from The Dragomeir Series were written in first person. They are all from the main character Tanis’s point of view. Not knowing any more than Tanis did from moment to moment was used as a means by which to increase the potential bond between him and the reader. The reader goes where Tanis goes, sees what he sees, and has to catch up on events when he returns to a person or place. I wanted the reader to use Tanis’s ability to understand people and to figure out friend or foe, good and bad, but to ultimately do it together. I felt the books needed to be a more personal, casual account of what was happening to have a better shot at complete immersion with the story as it unfolds. I hope you enjoy reading the Dragomeir Series as much as I did writing it.


  • “The Emerald Dragon”
  • “Flight of the Aguiva”
  • And coming soon – “Egg of the Amphitere”


Solitaire . . .

What Point of View do you use and why?




What is Urban Fantasy? – Part 1



Urban fantasy describes a work that is set primarily in the real world and contains aspects of fantasy. These matters may involve the arrivals of alien races, the discovery of earthbound mythological creatures, coexistence between humans and paranormal beings, conflicts between humans and malicious paranormals, and subsequent changes to city management.  Many urban fantasy novels geared toward adults are told via a first-person narrative, and often feature mythological beings.

The term “urban fantasy” has been in use in print from as far back as the early 20th century. However, when used then, the term described a characteristic of some object or place. It was not until the 1980s that the term began to describe a style of fiction, written, performed in theatre, or filmed for Hollywood and television. The following sites each have a description of Urban Fantasy –


Know of some other interesting sites?  Please Share!



Where Do Writers Write?


I came across a very interesting site, The Next Best Book Blog, that not only gives you an idea of where writers come up with their creations, but shows pictures of these locations. (If you’re like me, you will love being able to visualize where the creativity originates.) It is a weekly series that features a different author every week. I have always loved books, and as an author I find it interesting to see where other writers are generating their masterpieces. So here’s the link – Enjoy!


P.S. Where do you write?  I’d love to hear from you!

Woohoo, it’s Memorial Day Weekend!!!


Hi, Solitaire here. It’s that occasion again – Memorial Day Weekend. Time to take a break, even if it’s a short one, to spend some quality moments with family, or just relax and do something other than work. You deserve it!  As an author, that’s hard for me to do. Not the spending time with family part, but the not using the time to write part. I almost feel guilty not using every spare moment to sit down at my computer and continue to write my latest novel. I think that’s probably a universal feeling with most authors. But like any profession, authors need to get away from their chosen profession once in a while. So take this weekend to unwind a little, and maybe it will spur those creative minds on to bigger and better ideas for your up and coming writing endeavors!

Have a great mini-vacation and enjoy some much needed relaxation! Happy Writing!


You can check out my just released Dragomeir Series Book Two, “Flight of the Aguiva” here –

Does Dialogue have you stumped?


Today I came across some great tips concerning dialogue from a regular contributor to, Maria Murnane. ( She writes romantic comedies and provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing.  So I thought I’d share what I thought were some  helpful pointers.

  • Look who’s talking.

 A common problem is that the characters all sound the same, so the readers have a hard time telling them apart. As a result, the readers get confused, annoyed, distracted, or all of the above – none of which you want to happen. If you want your readers to become invested in your characters, you need to bring those characters to life – and dialogue presents a wonderful opportunity to do just that! So when your characters speak, have them make an impression. Are they sarcastic? Jaded? Bitter? Happy? Sad? Pessimistic? Optimistic? Loyal? Funny? Do they use their hands a lot when they speak? Do they lower their voice when they gossip? Do they chew gum? Do they have a particular gesture or body tic that gives away what they’re feeling? You may have heard the expression “show, don’t tell,” and this is a great example of that. Don’t tell us what the characters are like, let them show us.

  •  Does your dialogue sound realistic?

 When I read a book with dialogue that doesn’t ring true, instead of getting sucked into the story I find myself thinking, “Who talks like that? No one would say that.” You want your readers focused on the story, not on the problems with your writing. A good way to avoid having unrealistic dialogue in your own writing is to read it out loud. This may sound a little crazy, but it works! After awhile you will be writing the way people actually talk and your dialogue will be realistic. You want to create strong, believable characters that your readers will care about, so take the time to give them lines that will allow that to happen. With every conversation you write, ask yourself “Does this sound believable?” That might seem daunting at first, but over time it will get easier. It will be well worth the effort. Your readers – and your characters – will be grateful.

  •  Turn the beat around.

 A “beat” is a description of the physical action a character makes while speaking, and good beats can bring your characters to life and make your dialogue pop right off the page. Beats can also help you show your readers instead of telling them. (Misuse of show, not tell is a common mistake many first-time authors make. Remember that readers don’t like to be told what to think

     Example #1

A) “I told you, I’m not going!” John shouted, furious.

B) John slammed his fist on the table, his nostrils flaring. “I told you, I’m not going!”

  John is clearly angry. But in example A, we know this because we are told so.   

In example B, we know this because we are shown it.

              Example #2:

A) “You’re really not going?” Karen said, incredulous.

B) Karen’s jaw dropped. “You’re really not going?”

 We know Karen is incredulous, but why do we know this?

In A, we’re told what to think, and in B, we’re left to decide on our own what to think.

Well-placed beats make your writing richer, fuller, and better. And good writing, like good teaching, engages your readers and lets them draw their own conclusions.

  • Use contractions in dialogue.

Well written dialogue draws you into the story and makes you feel like the people speaking are real. So to write good dialogue, use language that sounds the way people actually talk. And in English, that includes contractions. A lot of them. Without contractions, people sound more like              robots than real people. (Did not becomes didn’t; Is not becomes isn’t; Do not becomes don’t; I am becomes I’m; He is becomes he’s, etc.) Contractions aren’t often used in formal writing, but they are for informal conversation, especially in the United States. So perhaps you should review your  own dialogue to see if it passes the robot test.

  • Dialogue doesn’t necessarily impact the plot, but it impacts character development, which is just as important.

Once you have completed your novel, read it over again. You may need to tweak the dialogue a bit, especially in the early chapters. Your characters have probably evolved, and some of the early lines may no longer fit their personalities. Good stories do a wonderful job of creating characters who are like real people to the audience, and that’s what you want to do with your manuscript. So when you’re finished, go back and read that dialogue with fresh eyes. Do you think it rings true throughout for each of your characters? If it doesn’t, change it! That’s the fun thing about being the author – it’s all up to you.

Have any tips that you’d like to share? I’d love to hear them.















Location – Location – Location – THE SOUTHWEST DESERTS

The primary location of my book, “The Emerald Dragon”, is in the deserts of the Southwestern United States. So the following is a short description of those deserts for anyone that might find it interesting. My lead character, Tanis, finds it to be one of the most beautiful places on earth.

The Sonoran Desert covers large parts of the Southwestern United States in Arizona and California, and of Northwestern Mexico in Sonora, Baja California and Baja California Sur. It is the hottest desert in North America, with an area of 280,000 square kilometers (110,000 sq mi). The western portion of the United States–Mexico border passes through the Sonoran Desert.   It is home to the cultures of over seventeen contemporary Native American tribes, with settlements at American Indian reservations in California and Arizona, as well as populations in Mexico.

The desert includes 60 mammal species, 350 bird species, 20 amphibian species, over 100 reptile species, 30 native fish species, over 1000 native bee species, and more than 2,000 native plant species. The area southwest of Tucson and near the Mexican border is a vital habitat for the only population of Jaguars living within the United States.

The Sonoran is the only place in the world where the famous saguaro cactus grows in the wild.  Cholla , beavertail, hedgehog, fishhook, prickly pear, nightblooming cereus, and organ pipe are other types of cacti found here. Shrubs include the creosote bush, bur sage, indigo bush, and Mormon tea. It also has wildflowers such as desert sunflowers, sand verbena, and evening primroses. There are also desert willows, palo verde trees, ocotillo, and desert ironwood.

The Mojave Desert includes both the infamous Death Valley and slightly less infamous Las Vegas Valley. An existence in the Mojave means coping with a range of extreme conditions.  It is considered a hot-cold desert, meaning it’s hot in the summer — but also extremely cold in the winter, dipping below freezing at night. These extremes have led to plant and animal species that are uniquely adapted to the Mojave. The desert averages about five inches of precipitation a year. Death Valley, which is about 282 feet below sea level, is the lowest point in the Western Hemisphere, and is in the Mojave Desert. It is also the hottest and the driest point in North America. In fact, it is the second hottest place on the Earth; 134 degrees Fahrenheit is the highest temperature ever recorded here. This region also consists of several high-rising mountain peaks, like the Telescopic peak, which is about 11,000 feet high.

The desert is home to numerous unique and interesting plant and animal species that have adapted to this arid landscape. Although the Mojave isn’t home to a large amount of plant life, it is home to numerous unique and interesting plant and animal species that have adapted to this arid landscape. It is home to mistletoe, a well-known Christmas decoration, and also to the slow-growing Joshua trees, which are actually not trees, but water-storing succulents. These plants grow to between 20 and 70 feet in height and live around 150 years.

The Mojave is home to the camel spider, the short-horned lizard, rattlesnakes, king snakes, a wide variety of lizards and the desert tortoise. Small desert mammals include the antelope squirrel, the kangaroo rat, jack rabbit, desert cottontail, the coyote, kit fox, and the bobcat. Large herbivores include big horn sheep, mule deer and wild burros. Predatory birds include the red-tailed hawk, barn owl, golden eagle and roadrunner. Scavengers include vultures and ravens. Herbivores include Gambel’s quail and the mourning dove.

cactusflowers   desert_flowers

1280px-Sonoran_Desert_33.081359_n112   Cougar on guard in the Sonoran Desert with a clear blue sky above.

USA 2004 (October 6th) California, Joshua Tree National Park  Sonora_Desert

You’ll discover a whole new world in the desert at Mt. Drago, the home of Tanis, and his dragon, Demios, in Book One of the Dragomeir Series, “The Emerald Dragon.”

Book Two, “Flight of the Aguiva” will be out very soon! The adventure continues . . .

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CREATURE FEATURE – Solitaire Parke – Inspiration – Where does it come from?


I have had the most spectacular dreams since I was a kid.   These dreams were chronological, so every subsequent night’s sleep picked up where the previous one left off. I took notes on almost all of them and they ended up as poems, stories, and eventually full novels.   I dreamed about people, places and things complete with history and background. The creatures were plausible and could have existed during certain times in our history. The science was at least possible, depending on the physical environment as shown and described.

To say that I have an overactive imagination would be an understatement, and quite frankly, I have no idea why I began dreaming like that. I realize it fundamentally changed me very early on. I have enjoyed almost all of the dreams, even the ones that were nightmarish. I have a constant need to write this stuff down, and I don’t believe I’ll ever get to the end of the ideas (dreams) no matter how fast I write.

As a result of this unusual behavior I have decided to list myself as a part of the creature features on the blog. I only hope everyone enjoys reading my books as much as I do writing them. Check out my books HERE.

What inspires you? I’d love to hear about it, so send me a comment!


DRAGOMEIR SERIES – Creature Feature – “The Sabers”

This time on Creature Features let’s take a closer look at the species known as The Sabers.   These creatures can be found in Book Two of the Dragomeir Series, “Flight of the Aguiva.” They are one of the older races of non-human, quadrupeds and considerably larger than most. Their leader is an enormous Alpha male named Suyet Suun. Try to imagine a nine foot long, eight hundred pound Bengal Tiger in a yellowish gold color, with tusks coming off the side of his face – ten inch long, large tusks. He was at the very least half again the size of a Bengal. Huge feet below a shear muscled body, and topped off with the most regal of heads. That was Suyet Suun. The females of The Sabers are smaller versions but just as beautiful. The Sabers are mammals and give birth in the same way as the feline species we have on Earth.

These creatures are fully sentient, and thanks to the demons on the Provinces, have been placed on the endangered species list. The demons hunt them for sport, or did until they moved to Mt. Drago. They are peaceful, but become warlike when their young are threatened. Fierce fighters, they unfortunately do not have the numbers to fend off the superior volume of the Hordes of Hell.


“Flight of the Aguiva” Update

FOTA Cover

Well, we’re almost there. “Flight of the Aguiva” has moved into the second wave of editing and beta reading. From the author’s point of view, that’s like beating it on a rock to see if it’ll break. Once it’s past that, we’re pretty much home free. A big shout out to the beta readers, you guys rock! I truly believe it’s harder to edit a book than it is to write one. Without the editing staff, no one’s book would ever make it to the light of day, so thanks again guys.

I’ll put up the release date just as soon as the editors tell me, so check back often. Thank you for the continued support of the Dragomeir Series.

Solitaire . . .


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