Wednesday, October 28, 2015

What's on My Bookshelf

The name of this post is misleading. The books listed below are never on my bookshelf. They sit at my elbow on my desk for quick reference. Hope you find the list helpful. –Theresa Snyder

Writer’s Guide to Character Traits, 2nd Ed., by Linda N. Edelstein, Ph.D

Noted psychologist and author Dr. Linda Edelstein takes you beyond generic personality types and into the depths of the human psyche where you’re sure to find the resources you need to make your characters stand out from the crowd. From sex to schizophrenia: everything you need to develop your characters.

The Emotion Thesaurus, A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression, by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi

When showing characters’ feeling, we often grab onto the first idea that comes to mind, and our characters end up smiling, shrugging, nodding, and frowning far too much. This book gives your imagination an emotional boost! Establish the tone of your scene: anger, love, aggression, etc. Look it up in the book. There you will find 75 emotion entries that list body language, thoughts and visceral responses to each. There are also suggestions for each emotion that cover a range of intensity, from mild to extreme.

Rand McNally Quick Reference World Atlas

I like this edition because it is paperback and very thin. Believe it or not, I use it for character names. I write a lot of science fiction and fantasy, and the names of distant and foreign rivers, mountain ranges and lakes have all made their way into my eighteen novels. Many times I will translate them and find that they are appropriate to the character, for instance when I found “Azur” meant fire and I needed a name for a fire demon.

The Writer’s Digest Character Naming Sourcebook, by Sherrilyn Kenyon

This book not only gives you more than 20,000 first and last names, and their meanings, from around the world, it also includes special advice for choosing historical, science fiction, fantasy, mystery, and action names with valuable instructions for naming your settings. Frankly, I cannot write about characters until they have a name – something that will always translate into writer’s block if not attended to promptly.

Wicked Words: A Treasury of Curses, Insults, Put-Downs, and Other Formerly Unprintable Terms from Anglo-Saxon Times to the Present, by Hugh Rawson

The title say it all and if you don’t want to say the word “f – – k” then this is the book for you. You can find a word from olden days that only a historical scholar would know and use it instead in your science fiction or fantasy. This book traces the origins, use and abuse of words we love to hate. It ranges widely, including personal insults, ethnic slurs, political attacks, plus a great collection of odd and interesting facts – fascinating excursion into social history and the idiosyncrasies of our language.

The Gregg Reference Manual, by William A. Sabin

I found this book during a past life in law. It is the cornerstone on the proper use of:

punctuation major and minor marks, capitalization, numbers, abbreviations, plurals and possessives, spelling, compound words, word division, grammar, usage, editing, proofreading and filing, letters and memos, reports and manuscripts, notes and bibliographies, tables, other business documents, forms of address, and glossaries of grammatical terms and computer terms.

These are the books I keep at hand on the corner of my desk or stacked by my chair. I hope you find them helpful. May the muse bless your brain and bring the words to your fingertips.


  1. You can't have too many reference books ...

    1. I totally agree Mark. I have a whole study full of them. Was hard to pick my favorites, so just took the ones off the corner of the desk, currently LOL