Sorry everyone, I’m going on a (hopefully) short rant about epithets and their uses.

I’m a professional writer who knows a few things about editing by this point in their career. I’m also involved in a few non-professional writing circles, and every so often, new writers have an argument about the use of epithets.

I can’t say I’m not guilty of using epithets. However, I have since learned the error of my ways and want to pass off some advice: DO NOT USE epithets in your writing.

First of all, it drives editors mad.

Remember those people that look over your work and make it infinitely better than all your previous drafts? Yeah, editors hate epithets with a burning passion and will set your manuscript on fire if you use them.

What is an epithet?

An epithet is when someone uses a descriptive phrase to refer to a character instead of either their pronoun or given name.

Example: the blond

This is the most common for some reason, because there are so many blond characters. See also: the brunet, the raven-haired (person), or the red-head. People seem to like describing people by their hair colour a lot.

But also: the (character’s profession), the taller/shorter person, the older/younger person, and the (facial expression) person.

These are just the common ones, but epithets can get somewhat ridiculous the more elaborate a writer tries to make them.

The main argument writers use for including epithets is that using the character’s given name over and over gets repetitive. The secondary argument is that when two or more people have the same pronouns, then writing a scene becomes confusing.

First of all, maybe for the writer using the same name over and over is repetitive, but trust me on this one, it’s not for the reader. The reader won’t even notice. They will, however, probably notice you using an epithet, especially if it is a particularly idiotic-sounding one.

Second, if you’re getting confused by pronouns in your writing, just use the person’s given name instead. Go through and edit the scene and change character’s pronouns to their name if there’s confusion about who the sentence is referring to. Sometimes this means you need to change some of your uses of the character’s given name back to their pronoun to make it flow better. You can do it, it just requires editing.

Why should you not use an epithet?

First of all, editing is part of a process that makes your writing more concise, and epithets are the opposite of concise. When trimming your writing down, it’s necessary to cut out anything unneeded.

Second, it makes your writing sound juvenile. Another writer can immediately tell how new a writer you are if you use epithets. Especially if you try to beef up your descriptions by using epithets to describe your character.

Lastly, it’s lazy writing and lazy editing. Just don’t do it.

There is one exception to this, and that is when you are introducing a character that doesn’t have a name yet. The description is necessary for the reader to know who you’re talking about. But you only use the epithet once, maybe twice, for that character. After that initial use, you introduce that character and give them a name.

If it’s a minor character that only appears once, they don’t require a name. If that character shows up often enough that you find yourself using an epithet repeatedly, they need a name.

And I see that this turned into a longer rant than anticipated, but if my post in any way contributes to writers cutting down on epithet use, then I don’t mind.

Don’t use epithets!

– The Dark-Haired Author

(See how silly that looks? Don’t be that writer!)

Read and Write with Pride 2015


So I want to tell you all about the Read and Write with Pride event that just happened, because I’m so excited about my first reading event. I’ve read things aloud in the past, and I have no issues with public speaking. But I’ve never read my own work to an audience before!


It wasn’t as nerve-wracking as I thought it would be.

This all started two weeks ago when my friend Heidi Belleau, a very well-known author who writes for Riptide Publishing invited me to this event. Of course, I accepted the invitation immediately.

This week was Pride week in Edmonton, hence the Pride reading event. We had quite the array of authors reading, which was great fun.


Danielle, our lovely host from Audrey’s Books introduced us all. Audrey’s is an awesome little local bookstore, and it has an entire LGBT section! I was really happy to see that.

First up was Rob Browatske, a local author who opened us up with a trip down the rabbit hole with the first chapter of his book Wonderland. This excerpt took us deep into the psychedelic gay club scene.


I was up next. I read an excerpt from Sky Knights, which is my lesbian fighter pilot novel. I read a fight sequence, which are always my favourite to write, and I have a feeling also my favourite to read.

Next was Marc Colbourne, who read from the memoirs of gay Iranian activist Arsham Parsi in Exiled for Love. We were given a real look at how a gay man in Iran comes to terms with his sexuality.

We inter-spaced our prose with some poetry. Marina Reid Hale performed some slam poetry for us. My personal favourite was one that didn’t have a title, but was about bisexuality.

Next up was Sheldon L’Henaff, who read from his gay fiction piece Joy (Maybe this Christmas), which is a Christmas story that involves drinking, dancing drag queens, and a very naughty Santa.

Heidi Belleau, our event organizer, went second to last. She read from Wallflower, which features a genderqueer protagonist! The section that she read from that made me laugh, and most of the audience as well!

Lastly, Laurie MacFayden, well-known local poet read us some poetry from her books White Shirt and Kissing Keeps us Afloat. She has some fun, quirky poetry about romance, but I particularly loved the poem “White Shirt,” about picking someone up at a bar.

I think our event was a great success, and I’d love to do another reading like this anytime!

Writers Love Tea


I’ve never met a writer that didn’t love tea.

To be honest, I’m not much of a coffee person unless it’s either cafe au lait or something sweet with foamed milk and whipped cream.

But I love tea. And strangely enough, most of the people I know also love tea, so I’m going to tell you all about the types of tea I love.

My go-to tea that I drink first thing in the morning is ordinary, pretty boring old Tetley Orange pekoe, sorry to say. I’m often too lazy in the morning to bother with leaf teas. It does its job.

The first tea other than already-bagged tea that I tried was from David’s Tea. They’re everywhere in BC, and have a lot of different kinds. My favourites are:


Love Tea #7

Love Tea #7: Black tea, sweet, hint of strawberry.

Read My Lips: Black Tea, chocolate and peppermint flavour.

The Earl’s Garden: Black tea, strawberry, cornflower, and bergamot.

Dragon Pearls: Green tea, very light flavour, has blossoms that bloom in hot water.

Genmaicha: Green tea, Japanese, combination of Sencha and roasted rice. Often served in Japanese restaurants. If you had amazing green tea somewhere and can’t figure out which one it was, it’s probably this one. It’s the roasted rice flavour.



Pink lemonade: rooibos tea, sweet and light, good to drink hot if you have a cold or sore throat, also good to drink cold in summer.

I like to add agave nectar or honey to some of the black tea. Most of them are sweet enough that I don’t need to add milk or cream.

My friend Laurence and Jes (J.K.Pendragon) sent me some tea for my birthday, because before I moved, cockroaches got into a lot of my loose tea. The Vancouver west end is notorious for them, and I am much saddened by the loss of much of my tea stock. However, I got to try some new tea!

The tea they sent me is from a company called Silk Road.

Genmaicha: Green tea, Japanese. Like I said, I love my genmaicha, I can never live without it. It’s very calming.

Velvet Potion

Velvet Potion

Velvet Potion: Black tea, vanilla and spices. Sweet and very delicious. I often can’t just have one cup of this at a time.

English Breakfast: (this one is bagged) Black tea. I like this tea because it’s a bit lighter than orange pekoe, but still strong enough that it can wake me up if I’m feeling sleepy.

Lastly (for now, if I find more tea I think it is important for you to know about, I will certainly tell you all about it), I recently went to a tea party one of my friends held at her house, and she had a tea consultant there. I know. A tea consultant! The world’s only consulting teatective. I’m sorry.

She worked for a company called Steeped Tea, and she served us some tea, and I ordered some. My friend also received a ridiculous amount of tea which I will take delight in drinking whenever I visit, which is often.



Amaretto: rooibos, almond flavour. I was in literal ecstasy smelling this tea, and it was just as delicious when I tried it.

Earl Grey de la Creme: Black tea, cream and bergamot. So creamy, even though there was no milk in it.

After Eight: Black tea. I didn’t taste it, but it smelled very strongly of After Eight chocolate. If you held it underneath my nose alongside an actual After Eight bar, I definitely wouldn’t have been able to tell the difference.

Citrus Sangria: Fruit tea, grapefruit and citrus, perfect for drinking cold, especially if you’re making it into an actual sangria by adding white wine.

So that’s my tea post. Feel free to tell me your own favourite tea in the comments or making your own post about awesome tea. Because tea. It’s good for the writer’s soul. A writer can never have too much tea!


Plot Bunny Hell


You know that feeling you get when you realize that your head is overflowing with ideas, and you already have three or four projects you need to get finished?

Of course you do. Plot bunny hell is an affliction that all writers have.

Because the pull is there, to starts a whole new adventure from scratch, because there’s a really awesome idea bubbling just below the surface. And you just know that you won’t be able to start it, because not only have you got enough on your plate, but if you DO start it, then it will collapse in on itself eventually because you haven’t done any research or outlining or even any plotting.

But it’s maddeningly there, sitting in the back of your head, eager to get out.

Curse you, plot bunnies.

Sometimes, it’s easy enough to jot down a note somewhere for later, so that you don’t forget what it was. But then, when you go back and look at the words you wrote on the page, it just doesn’t sound as amazing now that you’re reading it. Or, you don’t remember the exact context, and you’re wondering what you meant when you wrote “hawk coat.” Seriously. Where did this thought come from, and how did it coalesce into these two words that no longer make sense out of context?

I’m sorry for all of you that I’ve now made imagine all the weird things that those two words together could possibly mean. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t miniature coats for hawks OR coats made of hawks. Pretty sure.

Usually, I have some sort of advice for a solution to problems I discuss on my blog. But in this case, there are no solutions I can think of.

Really, it’s only a nuisance because you can’t bend the plot bunnies to your will and make them do as you like, which is help you write a story. But really, what a plot bunny is, in effect, is the side-effect of having a creative mind that just won’t bloody shut the hell up. Ever.

And really, you don’t have to worry, because these stray thoughts escaping are just a fraction of the creativity inside your head. Sort of like an iceberg, I suppose. Or the Lock Ness Monster.

So what I’m trying to say is, that plot bunnies are like pests that are hard to catch or kill. Maybe “plot cockroaches” is a more apt saying.

And so comes to an end this rambling post in which I pose a problem, offer absolutely no solution, and then cause you to muse on the properties of plot bunnies.

You’re welcome.