Saturday, August 31, 2013

Guest Post: Roland Yeomans

I am still on my blogcation because when I party for my birthday, I PARTY. Anyway, Roland Yeomans was kind enough to step in with a post of his own. And you're in for a treat because if there's one thing he does well, it's blog posts.

The Native American shamans will tell you that there is power in the use of names -- and death if you use the wrong ones.
Laughing Wolf, a cyber friend, asked what Elu (the name of my hero's blood brother) meant. He told me that in Estonian it means life. I hadn't known that.
I did know that in several Native American languages it means "full of grace." But Elu is only half-Apache {a name meaning 'enemy'}.
His mother is the Turquoise Woman, who was called Gaia by the ancient Greeks. So I was very careful in selecting the name Elu, for there is more to him than even Samuel knows.
Elu in ancient Chaldean encompasses in its Semitic essence, the concept of surpassing might, immense power, and unlimited strength. There is more to Elu than what his surface would suggest.
And such it is with all the names of my major characters.
Their names are portals through which you can view the essence of their natures. As with Samuel and with his one great love, Meilori Shinseen.
{Shinseen being the delicate, exquisite fae controlling Fate and Fortune in ancient Chinese mythology.}
Nor do I hide the significance of those meanings from the reader, as in this excerpt from my Titanic fantasy, RITES OF PASSAGE :
{McCord has sensed someone in great anguish on the upper deck of the DEMETER and has gone to check if there is something he can do.}

I slowed as I spotted a woman, sitting right on the wooden deck by the railing, huddled over something. I wrapped the threads of night tighter about me and stepped closer. The faint smell of jasmine tickled my nose. She was in a long, flowing scarlet and black Victorian gown.

I stiffened as the fog thinned enough for me to make out her slanted eyes, not quite Japanese, not quite Chinese, but a beautiful blend of the two.  Her long black hair was styled up, her eyes were cast down.
She was stroking a dead seagull, its slender neck bent awkward. I guessed that it had hit the rigging in the fog and killed itself, tumbling to the deck.

The woman spoke, and it was as if her vocal chords were velvet. Her accent.  It was like human speech itself was a foreign language to her.
"Poor little creature of air. Like last month, I came upon you too late. Too late."

She spoke as if the two words were a summing up of her whole life. 
There were disturbing depths of sadness in those eyes. Depths in whose darkness swam the monsters which drive us or haunt us or both. Those depths whispered of age more ancient than the Aztecs, more dangerous than even my past. They both called and warned at the same time.

She stroked the bird's head tenderly as if afraid of waking it up. "Oh, to be able to go back to that world of wonder I had before I became wise and unhappy."

She held the limp bird up to her breast and sighed,
"Dreams drift like clouds,
I reach to touch the moon,
I grasp but empty night."

I felt like I was intruding, but I couldn't force myself to step away as she placed the bird back down to her lap and whispered in an accent even stranger than before,
"Little creature of air, I came upon thee just in time to see thee die. Thou art a symbol of my life, a symbol of the futility of all my days."

I couldn’t take her pain any more and dropped the threads of night to step forward. "Not futility, ma'am."

She hushed in a breath as if to scream, stared at me for long silent seconds, then forced out, "I - I did not see you -- Westerner."

"I'm a Texas Ranger, ma'am. We don't learn to move quiet, we don't live very long. I mean you no harm."

Her face became twisted with self-loathing. "You could not harm me any more, mortal."

"You're right there, ma'am. I couldn't bring myself to muss a hair on your head - which is why I couldn't just walk away back into the night before I told you the truth."

Her lips curled bitterly. "And just what is this truth?"

"That you came just in time to give that little bird a precious gift."

She sneered, "And what gift would that have been?"

"It got to die in the arms of one who cared and cried over its passing. How many of us get to die that loved?"

Her face flinched as if I had slapped it. "Not ... very ... many."

I tugged down on the brim of my Stetson. "Yes, ma'am, not very many at all. You weren't futile. You were a blessing."

I turned to go, and she called out to me. "What is your name, Ranger?"

Something told me to keep on walking, but I turned back around, my loneliness overcoming my caution. "Samuel, ma'am. Samuel McCord."

Her face grew haunted. "Samuel, from the Hebrew Shemu'el, 'God Has Heard'."

Her eyes searched mine. "Is your coming a portent that He heard me last month?"

"He always hears you, ma'am. The trick is are you listening?"

Her smile flashed briefly like the gleam of a knife slashing from out of the darkness. "And do you listen, Samuel?"

The way she said my name was like no other way it had ever been said. Her voice sent tingles along the scalp at the back of my neck. I rubbed it self-consciously.

"Me, ma'am? No, I'm too stiff-necked for that."

"Please stop calling me ma'am. It makes me feel my age."

"Well, ma-, Miss, what is your first name?"

She stiffened like I had stepped across a taboo. Her face closed like a fist.  "Those who are permitted call me Meilori." 
Pain flickered in her green eyes.  "'Meilori' Beautiful Laurel.  Even my name is a cruel jest on the emptiness my life has become." 
"Or maybe ... Miss, it's just a promise pointing to the victory your life could become if you don't give up." 
Elu means "Full of Grace" as I've said.  Sam tells Elu he is usually full of something else - which is why his eyes are so brown.  
Elu calls Samuel 'Dyami' (Eagle) representing his silver hair and the Ranger's eternal lonely hunt through life for a nest of his own.  
The rest of you don't have to do this with your names, of course. I did it so that if any cared to look deeper into my novel, they would find layers of meaning and enjoyment that lay hidden just under the surface. It was the old teacher and mentor in me.


  1. Should have you state the meaning of all your names, as you have so many characters in your books.
    That's the one thing about writing about a far off galaxy - takes me less than thirty minutes to invent names for all of my characters.

  2. Yikes. I have enough trouble coming up with names. You take it to a whole other level. I'm in awe.

  3. I like your excerpt, Roland.

    I did go with a specific name for a supporting character, a name for a military officer drawn from an ancient Canaanite god of war.

  4. Alex:
    Sorry, but being a rare blood courier messed with my memory of when this guest post was coming. Sorry, J E!!

    J R R Tolkien spent years divising whole languages for his elves. He would probably wag his finger at you for not thinking more on names! :-)

    Yes, each name of my characters mean something. Even when I was writing for a young girl who would never know the effort I took!

    It is the teacher in me. And it makes me smile when I edit thinking of the meanings. :-) What fools these mortals be!

    So did I with an ancient Assyrian name for the last name of a fallen angel. It lends realism for me. Did it do that for you?

    I hang my head in shame. Sorry for thinking my guest post was at a later date. :-(


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