Tag Archives: novels

Dog Days of Writing

bradley at computerHas your writing gone to the dogs? Are you in need of some insPAWration?

There are days whendoggone it—writers feel like they’re workin’ like a dog with nothing to show for it.




  • Is your manuscript on a genre leash?
  • Are you chewing on the bones of a plot devoid of meat?
  • Does the manuscript need to be groomed and the adverbs trimmed?
  • Does the diction needs a good brushing with tone?
  • Does the manuscript need a dose of Frontline weak verb repellent?
  • Are you trying to breath life into an old dog manuscript instead of romping away with a new one?
  • Dog-tired with editing?
  • Growling at a plot snafu?

bradley readingBEST IN SHOW

  • Feeling like you have a dog’s chance of getting an agent?
  • Not getting any ” hot diggity dog” replies after sending all those queries?
  • Feel like you’re barking at the moon when you send those queries?
  • Are you showing a dogged determination to have your query and ms be the pick of the slush litter?
  • Are you barking up the wrong agent tree?
  • Are you sniffing around for the best way to build your author platform?


  • Do you have a bone of contention with someone in your critique group?
  • Are you still licking your wounds over a beta reader’s comments?
  • Did you join a writing group expecting belly rubs and “atta boys” only to play fetch with another pup’s manuscript?
  • Feeling a breed apart from all the authors and wanna-be’s?


  • Suspicious of writers making up shaggy dog stories about their successes?
  • Feeling meaner than a junk yard dog after being bitten by a troller?
  • Are you inadvertently biting the hand that feeds you with posts and tweets that insult your readers ( or potential readers) ?
  • Is your tail between your legs after a social media gaffe?
  • Are you guilty of begging for Facebook likes and Twitter retweets?

Howl if you must, but it’s time to put on the dog, play “Who Let the Dogs Out” and let loose the dogs of writing!

A bark of thanks goes to my daughter for sending photos of her very cooperative poodle!

Related Links: Readin’ & Writin’ and Rock Your Writing

Twitter-50px Facebook-50px Pinterest-50pxInstagram-50pxamazon

Genre Breed

dog readingbookAgents, publishers, bookstores, and Amazon require authors to identify a novel’s genre. It’s not always an easy task. Wouldn’t it be great if genres were as easy to classify as dogs?  By replacing the word genre with breed writers will identify target audiences more quickly and readers will discover the reading experience they were searching for.

So today, this blog has gone to the dogs!

Sporting genre/breed: Written for retrieving, these novels are best enjoyed in hard copy because the reader will refer to them again and again, annotating in the margins, and dog-earring favorite pages. The sporting genre is perfect for pointing out fowl/foul symbols and watery archetypes


Hound: Serious literature designed for authorial technique hunting, readers will delight in sniffing out important themes and deer/dear allusions, howling their foxy literary analysis to all.

download (1)

Toy: Light and adorable novels that contain glamorous fluff or posh plots. Some have a bit of bite (BDSM) to them, while others lick you with giggles.The perfect size for your e-reader.


Herding: Novels in a series that come together, gathering characters across a range of sub plots and adventures.  Linked by themes or overarching plot, these novels are branded to build readership with each new book.


Terriers: Novels that eagerly scurry down the literary hole to expose man’s rat-like proclivities. Although their plots shed light upon varmint dogmas and critter-filled creeds, they are endearing tales that roll over for a good belly rub.


Working: Action-packed novels with a taste for adventure: Expect daring rescues, growling characters, mastiff-tastic heroism, and dog-on good sex. These novels work hard so the reader won’t have to.


Non-sporting: Bursting with energy and tale-wagging dialog, these novels are drool-worthy reads. From the elegant-clipped poodle-ish exposition to the requisite bitchy stereotype to the spirited climax, the reader can expect intelligent plotting and obedient language. Fans of non-sporting genres are loyal and devoted.


Which breed of book do YOU prefer to read or write?

(I’m saving cross-breeds for another blog.)


Related links: Readin’ & Writin’


Beverage & Book Pairings

beverages & booksThere’s nothing like enjoying a drink—both alcoholic and non alcoholic—while reading! Restaurant managers are smart to suggest wine pairings for menu items. And like food for your stomach, words are food for your soul. The following is a list of genres and how they might be enhanced with  the perfect libation.

Literary fiction: Day Hours: Literati concerned with theme, motif, symbols, & allusions require a lovely Earl Grey or French-press coffee. Evening hours require an expensive cognac or single malt scotch.

Romance: Mocha latte or sweet tea by day. White wine spritzer or anything enhanced by a wee paper umbrella after sunset.

Horror: Tales of blood and gore need Spicy V-8 with extra Tabasco in the daylight. The mouth-coating density found in a full-bodied Douro Cabernet Sauvignon will satisfy your cravings when darkness descends.

Action/adventure: Running from here to there require the hydrating and invigorating effects of lemon & rosemary infused water during the day.   A few shots of tequila—with or without the worm—will provide your evening kick.

Cozy mystery: Tea or coffee in a lovely cup or mug while the sun shines. Kahlua and cream or an Irish coffee when night falls.

Scifi: PowerAid or GatorAid when the giant ball of hydrogen rises and the Pan Galactic Garlic Blaster ( from Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy) or jello shooters during lunar sightings.

Historical fiction: Tea or spiced cidar when the cock doth crow and red wine ( a libation with ancient origins) when the owl doth hoot.

Paranormal/urban fantasy:  Sunlight calls for iced tea or a cold soda. The witching hours requires some aptly named cocktails like the Zombie, Slippery Nipples, Snake Bite, Sex on the Beach, and Purple Hooter.

FanFiction Monster, RedBull, or Rockstar after breakfast. Add vodka to that glass for dinner for a fan-drinkster kick-in-the-ass.

Textbook: Open to the Table of Contents with an extra espresso shot in your coffee. Pour more coffee by the lamp’s glow until you’ve reached the index.

Steampunk: Lavender infused lemonade when the chronometer indicates 9 am.  Indulge in absinthe as you watch the sands of night pour through the hourglass.

Vampire/shifter: Cranberry juice when the sun comes up and a Spicy Bloody Mary during sundown.

Erotica: Cool the heat with Passion fruit iced tea when not in the bedroom. A ‘roofie’-laced cocktail or a martini—extra dirty–should satisfy under the covers.

Chick Llt; Sassy, fun, sappy, or sad plots need a lovely frothy latte in the daytime and  a light, crisp Sauvignon Blanc for turn-the-page evenings.

Detective: Following clues and solving crimes calls for no-frills coffee—black, no sugar— in a Styrofoam cup by the harsh light of day. Beer or whiskey on the rocks for wallowing during the dark of night.

Legal thriller: Coffee Americano during court hours in the judges chambers. Straight bourbon from dusk until dawn.

Children’s: Milk with a cookie chaser after your afternoon nap and hot chocolate when it’s time to say Goodnight Moon.

Latino lit: Fruit juice during el dia  and  margarita or sangria in the noche.

Other novel pairings:

  • Stories taking place south of the Mason-Dixon line require Mint Juleps on the sunny porch. Take a peek at the fireflies while sipping Southern Comfort during eventide.
  • Rum for any novels with pirates.


Related posts: Readin’ & Writin’


Join me on Facebook Twitter * Instagram * Pinterest * Amazon

The 4 Cardinal Virtues

4 cardinal virtuesAnd how an author uses them for evil!
( A Sarcastic Glimpse Into A Writer’s World)

Virtues are good, right? Not when they’re done this way!

Note: I went for satire but wasn’t able to pull off the snark and shaming intent.

Justice: Play fair! If another writer RTs spam on twitter, so should you! If someone makes a caustic remark, fling one back yourself. Justice is sooo cathartic. Did a troll leave a bad review? Respond with venom.

Prudence: Wisdom is important. Make sure to tell everyone on social media how smart you are. Tell them a few times, in case it didn’t penetrate their thick skull. Correct folks whenever you can. Make quick judgment calls and never apologize for being wrong—because you never are. Argue with a friend who points out a plot flaw. They’re just jealous of your brilliance.

Temperance: Self-control and moderation is critical when researching for your novel. Facts? Forget ‘em—it’s called fiction for a reason. Restrain from editing your novel masterpiece. It’s brilliant! Why remove a single adverb, adjective, or repetitive phrase? It’s your style!

Fortitude: Courage is required when accosting an agent in the bathroom at the writer’s conference, and it takes endurance to stalk them all weekend. Confront your fear and send out that first draft query. Do not be intimidated by a this-is-not-what-we’re-looking-for rejection letter by bad-mouthing them on twitter.

Now that you know how to live a virtuous writing life, be sure to name drop Plato, Aristotle, Saint Ambrose, and Saint Augustine. Righteous intellectuals! Just like you!

See you in writer heaven!

Related Links:  Rock Your  WritingSymbolism & more symbols;
Click  Amazon link for novels.

blog ender 2

Writing & Chocolate Chip Cookies

cookiesWriting is a lot like making chocolate chip cookies. OK, I’ll admit this blog comes after fighting off a craving—and losing—to the allure of the confection, but the similarities are sweet!

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour is like the plot of a novel, the basic element in any delicious tale.
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda is a leavening agent of skill and craft waiting to expand your draft batter when it’s time to turn on the revision heat.
  • 1 teaspoon salt is akin to the salt of your brow as you labor over your creation.
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened. Like real butter, well-chosen words make a better novel and discriminating readers will taste the difference when substitutes are used.
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar. Without sweet conflict a writer has no story. And like the iconic chocolate chip cookies several kinds add depth and complexity to its sweetness, be it the…
  • 3/4 cup packed white refined sugar of man vs man or the psychologically tormented  man vs self.
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract Great novels have an extra uumph to them—infused with the undetectable something special. Imitation zing doesn’t work—dig deep for the real thing.
  • 2 large eggs. Walkin’ on thematic eggshells does a writer no good. They must crack their creativity wide open to scramble a reader’s prosaic ideals while incorporating them into the story.
  • 2 cups chocolate chips. With just the right amount of narrative hooks, the story will melt in a reader’s mouth, leaving them eager for another bite and turn another page.
  • 1 cup chopped nuts and other optional mix-ins are odd characters that add flavor and zing your novel.

PREHEAT oven to 375° F. Revisions are in your future—don’t become attached to any single sentence.

COMBINE flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels and nuts. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.

BAKE for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Writer’s Baking Instructions:

COMBINE plot, craft, and sweat over computer keyboard. Beat words, conflict,  more conflict, and that something special in your brain until ideas are combined. Add themes, one at a time, rewriting & fine tuning well after each addition. Gradually beat in plot mixture. Stir in narrative hooks and optional symbols, motifs, allusions. Drop by rounded sentences and paragraphs onto pages and chapters.

Write & rewrite & edit until story is done—whether you like it moist and chewy, burnt, hard, or slightly raw. In writing time this can take anywhere from 2 months to 10 years. Cool completed novel for several weeks before moving manuscript to the query-agent racks.

Have fun cookin’ up your novel!

Related Links:  Rock Your  WritingSymbolism & more symbols;
Click  Amazon link for novels.

blog ender 2

Writing & Ethnic food

novel foodAs Hubby and I were deciding
which local restaurant to visit, I remarked that novels and ethnic food have much in common.

Warning: To all those who will tell me that healthy versions or alternatives of these foods can be made in my kitchen—you missed the point.

Italian: A carb and cheese-laden indulgence, this comfort food is like a favorite dog-eared novel in our library. Its familiar themes and characters our treasured friends—good for devouring during rainy days or when we need to relive our delight of the initial reading.

Greek: Flavorful food that harkens back to simpler days when stoic philosophers nibbled upon olives and charmed us with tales of Homeric heroes. Within the pages of these novels lay a honeyed treat of lusty gods and duex ex machina endings where themes of honor and destiny are ripe for the chewing.

Latin: A little hot, a whole lot of exotic flavors, this food brings out the magical realism found in many novels. Spicy sexual conquests, sour inequities, and sweet victories provide a decadent mouthful of themes, symbols, and metaphors from our favorite—and often—Latino authors.

Indian: A spicy hot mixture of tales that are often filled with gender and class discrimination, the novels curry favor by  providing readers a taste of the exotic and the forbidden in our lives.

Japanese: Like the trendy cool Sushi bars offering everything from humble udon soup to the showy Fuji Volcano to the sushi-for-beginner’s California Roll these stories offer a blend of culturally nuanced symbols and metaphors for readers to explore and discover. Be it the raw themes of the human condition or ‘tempuring’ root concepts with an appetizing coating, these  novels can be enjoyed by novice and expert literati alike.

Chinese: Delectable, savory, and less-filling books to be shared with friends. Whether  sweet or sour these tales pack a kung pow punch with a deceptively vague but fortunate message at the end.

Middle Eastern: If they can make a delicious salad from parsley–considered a garnish to prosaic eaters–imagine the wonders found in novels where a humble symbol is elevated to reveal a universal truth, where kebabs of meaty plots are skewered with ancient dogmas to sear flavorful wisdom into your soul.

American fast food: Salty goodness between two buns—um…you know you shouldn’t read it—it’s bad for you—won’t stretch your mind and will only stretch your thighs—and yet once in awhile we must indulge in a novel with little literary merit. Oh! And as you lick salt from your fingers you say ‘That novel  was delicious!’

Hungry yet?

Related Links:  Rock Your  WritingSymbolism & more symbols;
Click  Amazon link for novels.

blog ender 2

Yoga for Writers

Writers tend to stay in a seated position for hours while working, therefore it’s critical  to move our body. Exercise gets our blood moving, which in turn helps us ponder plot flaws, create characters, and dig deep into the depths of our emotions. And no! Lifting coffee or moving your mouse is NOT considered exercise.

In addition, certain movements reduce cortisol ( the stress hormone ) and increase testosterone ( the fearless hormone).

Here’s a few poses that may help reduce writer’s block and writer’s derriere.
( As with any exercise program be sure to check with your physician before beginning—yada yada)


Seated meditation: Good for going deep inside your brain while visualizing a scene or  imagining dialog.


Down dog: Use after receiving the sorry-your-manuscript-is-not-what-we’re-looking-for rejection letter. Hold position until you are brave enough to query again or your arms give out.


Plank: Excellent way of keeping your fingers away from the keyboard when someone posts something stupid or insulting on social media. Maintain position until you no longer feel the urge to reply or comment.


Forward roll: Effective when someone tells you they didn’t like your protagonist. The head to knee position is a great way to disguise your tears.


Leg high: Best way to make certain all the blood flows directly to your brain. This position not only gives you a brain boost it will help you describe pain.

leg up

 Tree: Effective way to come down from your caffeine high. Maintain very cool looking Zen-like position until your coffee is cold, then add ice cubes for a refreshing pick-me-up.


Warrior: Perfect pose to assume after completing a tough chapter or difficult scene.


Child: Great for stretching out your back and legs. Also good for giving thanks to your editor.


Plough: Beneficial pose when you have writer’s block. Hold position until you can think of something—ANYTHING— to get out of this ridiculous and embarrassing position.


Mountain pose: A fabulous way to give thanks to the Writing Gods when an agent asks to see a full manuscript. Also great for stretching out those hunched-over-the-keyboard back problems.


So stretch out those limbs and embrace the creative power poses!
Hugs and kisses to my daughter for being a good sport about the photos!
Related Links:  Rock Your  WritingSymbolism & more symbols;

Windows & doors & stairs, oh my!


Every man’s home is his castle! It’s also full of symbolism.

The roof over your head, the window you gaze through, the threshold you walk across— all these structural features can be used symbolically in literature.

  • let in the light of knowledge/understanding
  • allow the character to view the outside world–which may or may not be a good thing. In The House on Mango Street, poor immigrant wives sit by the window staring out into a world they are never able to participate in.
  • with dirty glass might indicate the observer’s foul view of the world.
  • with always-closed drapes might reveal a characters’ closed-mindedness or fear of the outside world.
  • are the eyes of the soul—traditionally speaking.
  • of stained glass—especially those with religious  iconography—shout RELIGION. The observer sees the world through the dogma of their religion.
doors: A symbolic powerhouse!
  • represent the divide between good and evil.
  • transition from one stage in life to another.
  • a divide between one world and another.
  • with a religious symbol or object portray reveal the occupant’s beliefs. For example a mezuzah—a scroll with Hebrew words to remind one of God’s presence and commandments–is specifically placed on the doorpost of Jewish homes.
  • with locks suggest secrets and forbidden places/worlds/experiences.
  • Note: to hear the knocking—especially if comes from a door knocker—is a sign that fate is headed one’s way. Should you hear, “…some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door. “’Tis some visiter,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door—Only this and nothing more.”–you know something ‘Poe-etically–‘ creepy is about to happen. In Macbeth, the drunken porter—making the first knock-knock jokes—signals the fateful demise of the overly ambitious Macbeths. “Knock, Knock! Never at quiet. What are you? But this place is too cold for hell. I’ll devil-porter it no further.”
  • a divine or religious entrance into another state of being
  • rebirth
  • a metaphysical time-space threshold
  • strength
  • division or barrier
  • privacy
  • the earthy realm
  • being grounded in reality
  • the material of the floor may also be symbolic. Is its marble ( wealth ) or rustic wood ( humility ), or linoleum ( low income ). Does the floor’s pattern reveal something about the culture or social class of the characters?
  • sheltering
  • keeps evil out
  • the shape of the roof is suggestive, as well. Domed roofs are emblematic of heaven, low roofs suggest restriction or being hemmed in by dogmas, vaulting roofs might be metaphor for high-mindedness or lofty ideals.
  • a transitional location
  • the place of choice before deciding which symbolic door you will enter
stairs: I know, I know, you’re breaking out in Led Zeppelins Stairway to Heaven song
  • which one ascend lead to heaven or enlightenment
  • which one descends end in depravity, wickedness, evil or  madness
  • that are winding indicates mystery–one can’t see straight ahead
  • In Effi Briest the stairs in the young wife’s home are described as “crooked, rickety, and dark” which aptly describes her feelings, the house’s history, and her marriage.
  • the domain ( traditionally ) of women
  • maternal care taking, be it with food, spiritual, or motherly nourishment
  • most obvious place to use a knife—ahem
living room/drawing rooms:
  • place where proper social behavior was expected
  • location of one’s public persona
  • outward appearances
  • love
  • lust
  • one’s true self might be revealed here
  • the location synonymous with learning, knowledge, and education
  • a place where ancient wisdom or secrets are revealed
  • where memories remain tucked away
  • a place of half-remembered or forgotten truths
  • where relics of the family’s or ancestor’s past are hidden
  • your deepest darkest secrets
  • the underworld or lower realms
  • creepy or base desires

Have fun deciding which rooms to use in your novel!

Related Links:  Rock Your  WritingSymbolism & more symbols;
Click  Amazon link for novels.

blog ender 2

Blood Writes

bloodBlood is a powerful and often confusing symbol. From the Divine to the violent, our fascination with blood infuses our collective consciousness. An entire book could be devoted to the symbolism of Blood— and perhaps already has.

The reason behind the power of blood is obvious.  Blood is LIFE— a physical indicator of our existence. And yet, behind this crimson liquid life force, man has imbued blood with great spiritual, divine, and emotional dominion.

Here’s a very small sampling of words that reveal our fascination with blood.
  • Bloodline: A line or sequence of ancestors. In some primitive Amazonian tribes, Shaman are forbidden to taint their bloodline, for to do so destroys and corrupts their mystical powers. Bloodlines produced royal dynasties, perpetuated genetic anomalies and disorders, or got your kinsmen slaughtered.
  • Bloodlust: Intense desire to see people killed.
  • Bloodbath: a fight that ends with death and dismemberment OR a struggle that ends with a group’s total destruction.
  • Blueblood: A member–usually by bloodline– who comes from old historic aristocracy.
  • Oxblood: A really weird name for a color, don’t you agree?
  • Cold-blooded: Adjective to describe actions done without emotion or concern for others’ emotions or consequences.
  • Hot-blooded: Adjective describing one whose actions are determined by intense emotions, be it good or bad.
  • And there’s blood feud, blood sport, blood and guts, bloodcurdling, blooded, bloodguilt, bloodred, bloodstain, bloodstone, bloodsucker, bloody shirt, bloody-minded, lifeblood, and Bloody Mary.

Blood is symbolic of both LIFE and DEATH.

  • determines destiny
  • atones for sins—the goblet from which apostles drank held the symbolic blood of Christ
  • appeases  gods/placates angry gods—human or animal was offered as a sacrifice or gift
  • saves—the Israelites marked their doors with blood from  a slaughtered lamb so that the Spirit of the Lord knew to pass over their homes while on the way to killing everyone with a first born
  • destroys
  • heals
  • is lustful passion
  • is rage
  • is violence
  • is an ingredient in witch brews
  • is Divine—Christ’s blood
  • marks one’s entry into adulthood—blood brother rites and/or a woman’s first menses
  • contaminates—some  early cultures believed women’s monthly blood made them unclean
  • drinking was one way to absorb the power of your enemies
  • letting—in all it’s ancient and modern forms—releases emotional trauma or pain
  • brings emotional trauma or pain
  • a favorite of Vampires everywhere
  • purifies and corrupts
  • saves and curses
  • doesn’t wash off—see Lady Macbeth for details
  • incriminates and exhonerates
 Embrace the powerful symbolism connected with blood.
Have a bloody good time writing your novel!


Related Links:  Rock Your  WritingSymbolism & more symbols;


Join me on Facebook Twitter * Instagram * Pinterest * Amazon

Symbolic Geometry

shapes1Circles and squares and triangles and stars, oh my! No, this is not a post about your sugariffic breakfast cereal but about the symbolic—often esoteric—power of shapes. Before man carved pictographs and told the Gods’ tales in cuneiform, the meanings of shapes denoted meanings and were imbued with mystical power.

The following is a blog-quick look at a few common shapes.

  • universal symbol of completeness and perfection
  • God
  • the sphere of Heaven
  • circle of life
  • movements of the stars and heavens
  • Hindus and Buddhists associate it with birth, death, and rebirth
  • Wheel of law in Buddhism
  • A round table ( early management style first practiced by the legendary King Arthur ) denotes equality—all stakeholders having an equal share in solving a problem
  • Dante saw Hell as a series of concentric circles
  • A ring denotes a pledge or promise
  • a sphere represents the spiritual aspect of Heaven/Universe, which is why domes top many religious buildings
  • spirals are symbolic of energy
  • spirals drawn in a woman’s womb indicate fertility
  • the helix is also a fertility symbol and the double helix has become the visual representation of DNA—guess those ancients were on to something
Triangles—associated with the number 3
  • beginning, middle, and end
  • trinities of gods
  • body, soul, and spirit
  • man, woman, and child
  • an upward-pointing equilateral triage represents the male organ
  • fire
  • a down-ward pointing triangle is the symbol for a woman or her womanly parts
  • water
  • the base of a pyramid represents the earth; the apex, heaven
  • a pausing or suspension—not necessarily associated with negative aspects
  • stability
  • lasting perfection
  • the four directions
  • In Islam it represents the heart’s susceptibility to the divine, angelic, human, and diabolic forces
  • square halos in Christian art indicates the person was alive when painted
  • a cube is symbolic of the material universe
  • wisdom, veracity, and moral fortitude
  • the cloistered courtyard of religious structures indicate endurance and security
  • wisdom
  • spiritual counsel or advice
  • light of wisdom shining in the dark ( sinful ) world
  • mythological figures or deities
  • the dead
  • the Star of Bethlehem symbolizes Christ’s birth
  • the 5-pointed pentagram  pointed upward represents a human ( the top point is the head, 2 arms on the side points, 2 legs of the downward facing point )
  • flip the pentagram around and it’s the sign of the Devil—the two upward pointing points becoming the  Devil’s horns
  • the 6-pointed hexagram—2 interlocking triangles— is symbolic of: 1) the conjoining of male and female; 2) the four elements; 3) Star of David; and 4) Judaism
  • the merkabah is an ancient geometry dating back 3 thousand years. Some believe the shape has Egyptian origins. The symbol is shrouded in mystery and attributed with supernatural ( even divine ) power that allows one to enter enlightenment, zen, achieve spiritual and/or physical ascension, or even experience cosmic transport!
  • the 7-pointed heptagram is: 1) a magic symbol for pagans; 2) symbolic of the 7 days of creation; and 3) the 7 steps of enlightenment for Buddhists
Crosses—I could do another blog about the many different types of crosses—and probably will
  • Christianity
  • the shape predates Christianity
  • sacred shape to Ancient Egyptians  and Aztecs
  • more to come on crosses
Mandala—not a shape per se but a pattern
  • search for inner peace or spiritual enlightenment
  • pathway to the Divine or God
  • a symbolic trap for malevolent spirits
  • used as a tool or focal point in meditation
  • universe

mandala1A giant thank you to Sue O’Kieffe for allowing me to post her mandalas. For more of her gorgeous Sacred Circles click HERE.


Have fun shaping up that novel!


Related Links:  Rock Your  WritingSymbolism & more symbols;
Click  Amazon link for novels.




Valentine’s Day Gifts for Writers

hemingwayIn the old days, writers discussed literature on the Left Bank—which would be a great name for Hipster Coffee Shop—smoked cigarettes and possibly used words like gestalt and hamartia.

Today, we hunker down with our laptops, talk literature via Social Media, drink coffee, and spout words like algorithms and platfom-building.

The Language of Literature may have changed, but the Language of Love remains the same. And so does the problem of what gift to get your Significant Writer Other for Valentine’s day.

Here’s a list of suggestions to give your honey.

From cheapest ..um, I mean least expensive to the dream-worthy!

1. FREE  Admiration and respect for your writing passion.


2. $ Computer screen wipes.

computer wipesjpg

3. $ Keyboard protector. Great for the coffee-drinking crumb-dropping writer.

keyboard pr

4. $ White board and dry erase markers.


5. $ Mini notebooks for jotting down FABULOUS ideas.

mini notebook jpg

6. $$ A ream of paper for printing out drafts and pens for making corrections.

paper pens

7. $–$$$  Starbucks card

starbucks card


8. $$—$$$ Software for Writers—Dragon, Editing, or Photoshop for the Indie Author who  does it all.


9. $$$ Writer’s conference. Send your loved one away for a weekend where he/she can commiserate with other writers, swap writing horror stories, and listen to inspirational tales of success.


10: $$$ Money to hire a graphic designer.

graphic designer


11. $,$$$ Money to pay for a professional editor.



12: $$$ per week: A maid, preferably someone exactly like  Alice from The Brady Bunch.


13: $, $$$, $$$  Fabulous room overlooking <insert setting of choice> view that no one can enter without prior permission.

housePrint out a copy and leave it where your Thoughtful Someone will see it.

Valentine's day

Related Links:  Rock Your WritingSymbolism & more symbols; A Valentine’s Day Poem
Click  Amazon link for novels.


From Head to Toe

head to toeThe body is a temple. We’ve all heard the expression. And everybody knows a temple is place for worship, a place to access the Divine. Even Apostle Paul said, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?” (1 Cor. 6:19-20).

It should come as no surprise that our body parts hold ancient symbolic meanings. So before fixating on a character’s body part you might want to explore the symbolism associated with it— in case you want to give your story some symbolic ZING!

Heads up! It’s time for blog-quick look at body symbolism.

  • most important part because reason, wisdom, intellect, and spirituality reside within
  • equated with authority and power ( heads of state, heads of corporations)
  • bowed is a sign of respect
  • tilts, nods, or shakes are powerful communicators
  • many-headed gods depicted different aspects or personalities —Shiva, Hecate, Brahma, and Janus have multiple heads
  • divine power and virility
  • inner and physical toughness—when Delilah snipped Samson’s tresses she reduced his physical strength
  • cutting the hair was a sign of sacrifice or surrender. In modern times—if done by women–the act symbolizes rebellion or liberation from feminine gender roles/expectations
  • Mary Magdalene’s long flowing hair was a sign of immoral sexual behavior
  • equated with a seashell or a spiral
  • associated with birth—Karma was born from his mother’s ear.
  • long ears  are linked to wisdom in Buddhism
  • the Satyr’s large pointed ears reflect his sexual and sensual nature
  • all seeing. Eye of Providence. Right Eye of Horus. Left of Eye of Horus
  • perception and spiritual enlightenment
  • giving someone the Evil Eye brings misfortune to the recipient
  • windows to the soul
  • for an entire blog on eyes click here
  • knowing
  • intrusiveness or meddlesome behavior/personality
  • valued by early man as a way of finding food
  • a phallic symbol
  • a nose that grows in length indicate lies—courtesy of Pinocchio
  • a turned up nose displays contempt
  • deemed the creative force, but it’s our mouths which can get us in trouble
  • the Mouth of Hell devours the wicked
  • articulates our heart’s desires
  • just slap a big  X-rated sign on the lips
  • symbolic of speech
  • visible manifestation of the spoken word
  • teeth are symbolic of animistic strength and aggression
  • long teeth are a sign of ambition
  • Agrippina, Nero’s ambitious mother, had double canines
  • the tongue is either a destroyer or a creator
  • sticking one’s tongue out harkens back to times when that gesture warded off evil spirits
  • strength— think Atlas holding up the world
  • power
  • carrying responsibilities
  • harbinger of death
  • Bones symbolize  strength, stability, determination
  • Chakras, the body’s energy forces, are aligned with the spine
  • intestines are symbolic of long life and eternity
  • intestines were used for divination in early times
  • the spleen is where melancholy and laughter come from ( part of the ol’ 4 Humors of the Body theory)
  • the liver symbolized passion during ancient Rome times
  • balance and movement
  • good luck
  • arms are symbolic of strength, power, protection, and justice
  • command
  • protect
  • bless/bestow
  • pledge
  • symbolize power and strength
  • teach
  • heal
  • there’s the omnipotent Hand of God
  • Hamsa hand is a protective talisman used by Muslims and Jews to protect against the Evil Eye
  • As expressive communicators, we are familiar with the meanings of: palms out, finger pointing to heaven, handshakes, hand wringing, and hand washing (Pontius Pilate and Lady Macbeth)
  • hidden hands denote respect in Asian cultures, but mistrust in western
Gender-specific body parts ( this is a PG-rated blog ). Early man was obsessed with those particular parts—wait, we still are!
  • male: strength, power, and virility
  • female: regeneration, fertility, procreation, and the miracle of birth
  • mobility
  • rooted or in touch with self and nature
  • bare feet touching the ground is man’s link to the Divine Earth
  • the monk’s bare feet signify their vow of poverty
  • in Asian cultures, feet are considered unclean so its wrong to display soles to another
  • solid foundation
  • washing another’s feet is a symbol of hospitality and humility
  • the Buddha’s footprint found at Buddhist temples indicates the Buddha’s presence
As you can see, lots of body parts were left out! This is just the tip of the Body Iceberg! A quick Google search will reveal many more symbolic aspects.


Note: I teach literary analysis and remind my students to look closely at the symbolism in a novel. Why did the author include that fruit? Or name the character Neil? Why is the protagonist sitting under a pear tree? Why is her dress blue? Why did the character lose a limb? Before jumping to any symbolic conclusions however, we look at the symbol in context of setting, history, and culture.

Related Links:  Rock Your WritingSymbolism & more symbols;
Click  Amazon link for novels.

blog ender 2

Writer’s Hand Signals

l.z. marie typingWhen writers are on a roll—watch out! We don’t like to stop for fear of losing our train of thought, especially if we’re having one of those days when we can’t type fast enough! You know what I’m talking about! The entire scene is THERE—the dialog, mood, imagery—the words flowing from your brain, through your heart, and into your fingertips—the story bursting with—WHAM!
“Hon, where’s my jacket?”
“Mom, what’s for dinner?”

Your Rocket of Creativity just did a nosedive into the Ocean of Interruptions.

Been there, have you?

Without being aware it was happening, I developed hand signals to communicate with my family when I was ‘in the zone.’ And without realizing it, they began interpreting and translating those hand signals. It’s working rather well. Everybody’s happy and mom doesn’t have to lose her train of thought mid…um…uh… sentence.

Mom’s Hand Signals

1. Hand out in cupped position: I smell food or hear the crinkling of snack food wrapping being opened. Give me some.
Family’s interpretation: Will we ever get another home cooked meal again?


2. One finger held up: Give me one minute and I’ll answer your question.
Family’s interpretation: Mom’s “one minute” is like a pro basketball minute—mom is incommunicado for about 30 minutes.

securedownload (1)

3. Two fingers held up: Give me two minutes before I answer your question.
Family’s interpretation: Mom is in the zone with a scene, don’t bug her for at least an hour. Note: UK readers will need to substitute another sign here.

securedownload (3)

4. Hand holding wallet. I’m too busy to go to the grocery store. Buy whatever food or personal grooming supplies you need.
Family’s interpretation: Carl’s Junior, anyone?

securedownload (7)


5. Hand holding card. Get me Starbucks.
Family’s interpretation: Can I have everyone’s Starbucks order? Mom’s buying.

securedownload (2)

6. Hand palm-side out. Stop talking to me, I’m not listening.
Family’s interpretation: Why can’t we have a normal mom?

securedownload (5)

7. Index finger pointed to left. Make sure the dog has food and water.
Family’s interpretation: Mom can’t remember if she fed the dog.

securedownload (6)

8. Back of hand. Bye. I love you. Drive safe. Have a good round of golf.
Family’s interpretation. Do you think mom heard anything we said?
securedownload (4)
9. No photo needed. Flipping the bird. Note: I do not have young children.
Family’s interpretation. Mom heard our smart ass remark.


See any hand signals you can integrate into your writing life?

Related Links:  Rock Your WritingSymbolism & more symbols;
Click  Amazon link for novels.


Color My World

color your worldFrom “Love is Blue”  crooned by Frank Sinatra
to “My World is Blue” by White Trash Clan
to “Yellow” sung by Coldplay
to “Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Old Oak Tree” performed by Tony Orlando
to “It’s Not Easy Being Green” croaked by Kermit the Frog

color is attached to a spectrum of emotions. Savvy writers know they can use color to symbolize, reveal, and add irony to their text. Color symbolism is fraught with ambiguity and duality, making it a vibrant way to add complexity.

Warm colors like yellow, red, and orange are considered stimulating.
The cool colors of blue, indigo, violet are soothing and peaceful.

Although cultural variations exist, color symbolism is universal.

Red: A dual-tinted mix.
  •  passion and lust
  • anger and aggression
  • war and revolution
  • fire and flame
  • All these emotions spur one to action.
  • The red planet Mars is named after the Roman god of war
  • Associated with the Root  Chakra located at the base of the spine ( our connection with earth )
Yellow: On the good side…
  • sun and gold ( metal )
  •  enlightenment and wisdom
  • flowers and warmth
  • On the bad side….
  • cowardliness
  • envy and treachery
  • Associated with the Solar Plexus Chakra
Orange: A mix of the first two.
  • luxury and splendor
  • a renunciation of earthly pleasures—think Buddhist monks garb.
  • Associated with the Sacral Chakra (the reproductive organs ).
  • In ancient Rome, a bride wore a saffron-colored wrap and an orange veil.
Blue has as many hues as meanings.
  • sky and infinity
  • the divine—the Egyptian god Amun and Hindu gods, Rama, Shive, and Krishna are blue
  • tranquility and reflection
  • intellect
  • depression
  • sexual proclivities—blue movies
  • socio-economic status—from blue-collar to blue blood
  •  In Egypt, blue was the color of truth.
  • The Virgin Mary’s blue robe signifies her purity.
  • Indigo is the color of the Brow, or Third Eye Chakra  of spiritual knowing and intuition.
  • spring  and new life
  • fertility and nature
  • youth and inexperience
  • hope and joy
  • envy and jealousy and decay
  • Recently connected with safeguarding our planet’s resources promoted by the Green Movement
  • Color associated with the Heart Chakra.
  • royalty and wealth
  • luxury
  • power—Roman senators were identified by the purple stripe on their togas
  • religion—Catholic clergy don purple vestments during Advent and Lent
  • associated with the bliss, oneness, serenity, and spiritual wisdom of the Crown Chakra
  • temperance—because it’s a mixture of red  ( action & hot ) and blue (calm & cool )
  •  femininity
  • baby girls
  •  gay pride
  • evil or darkness
  • despair and death and mourning
  • mortality
  • secrecy
  • ill-fortune
  • disease
Gray, in its many shades…
  • gloom
  • anonymity or inconspicuousness or namelessness
  • old age
  • uncertainty and unreliability and risk
  • purity and innocence—brides and those being baptized are clothed in white
  • goodness
  • holiness
  • In China, Japan and India, white is associated with death and mourning.
  •  surrender and peace

Have fun adding some color to your novel!

Related Links:  Rock Your WritingSymbolism & more symbols;
Click  Amazon link for novels.

blog ender 2

Fun Literary Terms

lit termsWARNING: Not for the literary faint of heart!  Welcome all word nerds and novel geeks!

For the more mundane terms, take a blog-quick jaunt through A Few Literature Terms.

For die hard bibliophiles, bibliomaniacs, literati,or clerisy enjoy the brief tour through Literary Land.

Aesthetics: Philosophy of art, studying the nature of beauty in literature.

Allegory: Literature/poetry in which every character, setting, and event is a metaphor or represents something else.  Contains a moral, religious, political, social, or satirical message.
  • Ex: The Pilgrim’s Progress, The Faerie Queene, Gulliver’s Travels
Anachronism: Object, custom, person, thing, or event that is totally out of its natural place in time.
  • Ex: Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court; A striking clock in Julius Caesar

Aphorism: Truism or maxim about some aspect of life or the human experience.

Apostrophe: Summoning or crying out for a person who is dead, absent, or imaginary.
  • Ex: “Oh, Muses three, come to me!”

Bowdlerize: Removing immoral, indecent or pornographic words or passages from a piece of writing. Censorship.

Cacophony: Harsh, grating loud sounds with the constants b, d, g, k, t. Used in poetry but also an  effective authorial technique in dialog or to describe a discordancy.

Computational stylistics:  Analysis of aspects of author’s style that are measurable. Prepositional phrases, multi-syllabic words, and syntax ( sentence length) can  be found in many editing computer programs.

Deux ex machina: Latin for “god from the machine.” American for “You gotta be kidding me!” You might remember this phrase from your high school days. It describes any contrived or artificial rescue or solution to get characters out of trouble or danger. Melodrama employs this…and many movies. A long lost spinster aunt saves the farm. A tree falls in front of a the bad guy as he chases the good guy. In the movie The Adjustment Bureau—plot spoiler—God (the Chairman) allows the couple to stay together.

Explication de texte: Detailed analysis and very close reading of a passage or text. A thorough examination of style, syntax, tone, symbolism, and diction is done to achieve a greater understanding and appreciation for the author’s work. And, by the way, it’s what I teach. Fun stuff!

Freytag’s pyramid: The structure of a 5-act tragedy.Freytags pyramid





Gestalt: The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. For literature, that means the prose is best experienced and understood in its entirety.

Hamartia: Sorta-kinda like a tragic flaw but more encompassing. It can be poor judgement, bad luck, error, accident,or misinformation that cause a character’s downfall.

Hermeneutics: Interpreting sacred texts in a grammatical, ethical, allegorical, or mystical manner. The parts must be studied in concert with the whole, and the interpretation, as well as the interpreter, are also important considerations.

Jeremiad: Named for the biblical Jeremiah, it is the dire prophesy of destruction if <<insert evil group here>> continue their wicked ways.

Kunstlerroman: Like a bildungsroman, but instead of chronicling a youth’s growing to maturity, the novel focuses on showing an artist’s development.
  • Ex: Margaret Atwood’s  Cat’s Eye
Litotes: Saying the opposite or using an ironic understatement to give impact to one’s statement.
  • Ex: Saying ‘He’s no dummy’ instead of “he is intelligent.’
Malapropism: A character who substitutes a word ( perhaps unintentionally) for a very similar sounding world. This is done for comedic impact,and a device often employed by Shakespeare.
  • Real life example: A student said he was going to defile me. He meant to say defy. We all had a good laugh and it was a teachable moment.
  • Example from “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” & spoken by Bottom. ‘I will aggravate my voice so’—he probably means moderate; ‘…there we may rehearse most obscenely‘—he means obscurely;  and ‘Thisby, the flowers of odious savours sweet’—he means odorous.

Nom de plume: Using a pen name, but the French version sounds ever so much more sophisticated Oui? Some authors use different names when they write other genres or to conceal their gender or identity. Or perhaps to appear more mainstream.

Pathetic fallacy: Giving human emotions to something in nature. John Ruskin didn’t like the term personification.

Peripeteia/ peripety:  The sudden change in fortune of the protagonist. Aka, the reversal. See Freytag’s pyramid.

Roman a clef: French for ‘novel with a key.’ Real people are disguised in novels with fictitious names.
  • Ex: All The Kings Men by Robert Penn Warren; Point Counter Point by Aldous Huxley
Verisimilitude: Appearance of truth. The most famous might be H.G. Well’s War of the Worlds.
  • Ex: Daniel Defoe’s Journal of the Plague Year

I advise NOT using these terms in normal conversation as they tend to give one an air of snobbery.

Related Links:  Rock Your WritingSymbolism & more symbols;
Click  Amazon link for novels.

blog ender 2