Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year's Eve Poetry SLAM!

Hi everyone and HAPPY NEW YEAR'S EVE DAY OR EVENING (depending on when you visited)!!!! If you are going out tonight....PLEASE DON'T DRINK AND DRIVE!!

Here is tonight's special contribution by an unknown poet -- I loved it the first time I read it and it still makes me chuckle!! 

You’re the truth, Not I

I have a friend named Jim. He is the truest kind of friend. Jim is a tiny green bug that sits by my bed every evening as I think myself to sleep. He’ll often frolic in the air, his wings conducting the music of my mind.

When I am feeling affectionate I will call him “Jim-Jam-Alabamastan”. If my patience is fading our relationship becomes more professional and he becomes simply “Mr. Jim”. When it’s cold outside we cuddle close, and he recites sweet poetry into my ear:

I knew a fat lass named Nicole.
When she ran it would jiggle her roles.
Now barren the worst case
She’ll be taken the first place.  
And swallowin my children hole.

On these hot summer nights we lay sprawled together in a sweaty heap. The twinkle in his eye is a beautiful sunrise. His smile is a warm feeling. It’s deep satisfaction.

Jim likes to talk to my sock, the dirty one in the corner, you know, the sock that hasn’t made it to the laundry basket. It sits there filthy and crumpled the progeny of laziness. Jim will often argue with the sock all day. I call his insults “Little Boy”. I call the sock “Hiroshima”. Every once in a while the sock will argue back, but you have to pay close attention to catch it. It’s troubling to watch someone you deeply care about slip farther and farther away from reality. I often plead with Jim, but it has no use. I tell him to come back to me, to embrace rationality, but he’ll just mutter that it’s “patty time” and “those hamburger bastards better watch out”.

Jim died yesterday. It was a freak accident. My shoe slowly lowered itself onto Jim’s fragile body and began to turn him into a fine paste. Jim tasted like a mixture between a peanut and an oyster. Sometimes you hurt the ones you love, sometimes you eat them.

Things have only gotten worse. That sock is a mouthy son-of-a-bitch. I am starting to understand why Jim had such problems with it. I tell it that we can get along; that things don’t have to be this way, but it is a cold hearted sock. I fear that it has some sinister plan, some great evil in store for me. I often wake in the night to find it silently contemplating me, a dark lust in its fibers. My fear is palpable. I live in dread, and from my dread comes a single question. The question is desperation. The question-my question-is this; what does cotton taste like?
Written by Kevin Arcand

That's it...that is all for this year folks. See you next year :-)


Friday, December 30, 2011

Author Interviews and Books 2011

Hi everyone,

I can’t tell you how much fun I’ve been having since I’ve started the MYSTERY WRITERS UNITE blog! I’ve had the opportunity to meet so many talented people and to read books I may have otherwise missed.

Things have been so much fun that I thought it would be nice to have one page at year end where all author interviews could be accessed from one page :-) I’ve gone ahead and pulled, what I think is one of the best answers to one of my questions for each interview I conducted and have posted it beside the author’s name.

Which author interview was your favorite? Why? How could MYSTERY WRITERS UNITE IMPROVE AUTHOR INTERVIEWS?

In order of appearance on MYSTERY WRITERS UNITE:

Karin: That reminds me, it seems that the place where the story transpired had a big part to play in The Ophelia Trap and your book really connected to it (Interview was not conducted by MYSTERY WRITERS UNITE).

Kate Burns: “I think if all writers went back and wrote again what we wrote before, we might do something different.  I might have played up the contrast between Aylmer and the bigger city across the river a bit more. I didn’t do that because I really wanted to concentrate on that small town feel.  Even though Aylmer is technically a city, it’s this border town – this town of English and French, and there is a natural contrast there. There is a complementary thing going on, not always but generally working and having that as a setting allowed me to explore a little bit of the fish out of water thing. Our city girl has moved there and married a small town guy and is settling into this life and finds out that in a small town your past can be a lot closer than you think it is.” -- Author of THE OPHELIA TRAP

MWU: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

James P. Wilcox: “Time and editing.  It takes a lot longer to write a story than I want, especially because I have so many story ideas floating around in my head. I thought I was a pretty good editor until I had to try and edit my own book. I learned that I need a lot of editing help.  It is a struggle to make sure that the ideas in my head make sense on the printed page.” -- Author of M16 AGENDA and SEX, LIES AND THE CLASSROOM

MWU: What is the most difficult task you face when writing a book? For example, designing the cover, deciding on layout, marketing, self-promotion, etc.

Melissa Foster: “For all of my confidence when helping others, I’m equally insecure. That’s a secret :-) The most difficult part for me is letting my books go. When they’re released into the hands of the public, it’s the scariest time for me, and as such, the most difficult. I’ve said before that I feel naked when a book is released, and I’m not sure if I’ll be whistled at or beaned with tomatoes. I love whistles…please whistle.” -- Author of MEGAN’S WAY, CHASING AMANDA and COME BACK TO ME

MWU: If there were a room of new writers here, what advice would you give them?

R.S. Guthrie: “Write no matter what. Sometimes the muse is quiet. Write anyway. Many days you are tired. Write anyway. There will be moments when it’s literally PAINFUL to write. Do it in spite of the discomfort. (Now I just need to learn to follow my own advice.)” -- Author of BLACK BEAST

MWU: It is one thing to approach a first book and successfully complete it but it is another to make your debut novel book one of a series. What made you decide to do that?

John W. Mefford: “I got hooked on old James Patterson books and, recently, Michael Connelly books. I also loved the Margaret Truman books based in D.C. The books and stories always came to a conclusion, but you could follow your favorite characters in an entire new novel with the next book in the series. For me, writing a mystery/suspense/thriller as part of a series is natural and logical. And it only motivates me to share a new story, learning more about the characters along the way. Eventually, The Michael Doyle Chronicles will end. But how? And when? Writers can’t give away all of their secrets.” -- Author of COMMITTED

MWU: If there were a room of new writers here, what advice would you give them?

Dr. Edwards: “Never believe for a minute that you don’t have great stories to tell.  If you dream—and we all dream—they are there.  It’s just a matter of discovering how to reach them.  Once you reach the stories inside and bring them to the surface, it then becomes a matter of craft, and craft can be learned if you have the patience and desire.”-- Author of FINAL MERCY, IT’LL EASE THE PAIN, MEDICAL MALPRACTICE and THE M&M FILES

MWU: Aside from your main characters in each of your books, who is your favorite character and why?

Helen Hanson: “I’d like to sit next to Amir on a long train ride. His face graces the cover of 3 LIES. With his background the conversation would be intriguing if not entirely transparent. We would chat, perhaps sip red wine, and both of us would observe the other passengers. He would pretend to be someone other than who he really is, in part, for my safety. Because he would find me charming and wouldn’t want to have to kill me. When we reached our destination, he would turn left, I would turn right, and we’d never meet again.”
-- Author of 3 LIES and DARK POOL
MWU: I always ask a published author what advice they would give to those of us still working away at their first novel, first draft?

Lisa M. Lilly: “Write as much as you can as fast as you can, and don’t worry about if it works, or it’s good, or it’ll sell until you finish it. Save the editing for the rewriting process. I know so many truly gifted writers who have fabulous first halves of novels.  But three years later, they still have the first half and nothing to market. Also, it’s hard to tell if your beginning or middle will work until you get to the end. All that time editing chapter one may be wasted if you finish and realize your story actually started three chapters later.” -- Author of THE AWAKENING

MWU: Can you give us an example of a “hard” lesson learned in your writing career? How did you get through it?

Rebecca Forster: “I’m learning the hard lesson now. E-publishing has removed the safety net of editors, agents, and artists. Now we’re on our own and I am struggling with technical gremlins. Sometimes scanning edits I am confident were fixed come back. There is a computer magic that is driving me crazy and I’m grateful readers let me know when mistakes are made.” -- Author of RAINBOW’S END, GOLDEN THREADS, THE MATTHIAS RING, WILDE’S GAMBLE, DREAMS, VANITIES, THE RECKLESS ONES, VOWS, SEASONS, PRIVILEGED SECRETS, THE MENTOR, CHARACTER WITNESS, BEYOND MALICE, KEEPING COUNSEL, BEFORE HER EYES, HOSTILE WITNESS, SILENT WITENSS and PRIVILEGED WITNESS

MWU: Given that you have written both stand alone fiction and series fiction, I wondered which was easier to write and why? 

Russell Blake: “Boy. I think the series fiction, because you already have the characters developed and don't have to bring the reader up to speed on who is who. The appealing part for me doing stand alone, which flies in the face of the whole, "Serialize a Character and Build Your Platform with Him/Her" mantra, is that I get ideas for books, and they generally wouldn't transition well to fit one of the earlier characters from my other books. So now I either have to change the story, which inevitably diminishes it, or simply express it as it comes to me. The latter is the purer form, so that's what I generally do. Having said that, The Messiah Cipher will serialize Dr. Steven Cross, because I sort of came up with the idea while imaging what happened to him after the adventure in Zero Sum ended..." -- Author of FATAL EXCHANGE, THE GERONIMO BREACH, the ZERO SUM TRILOGY (KOTOV SYNDROME, FOCAL POINT AND CHECKMATE), HOW TO SELL A GAZILLION eBOOKS IN NO TIME and AN ANGEL WITH FUR

MWU: What is one of your favorite chapters or scenes in THE NINTH DISTRICT and why is it your favorite? 

Douglas Dorow: “One of my favorite scenes is near the end when Agent Jack Miller needs to go down into the sewers and tunnels that run below downtown Minneapolis in pursuit of The Governor. Jack needs to face his fear of enclosed spaces while he takes the reader into an underground world that few have experienced, that has its own dangers.” -- Author of THE NINTH DISTRICT

MWU: If you had less than a minute to tell a perspective reader what they could expect from your books (you are at a trade show and someone has stopped by your booth) what would you tell them? Go…. 

Claude Bouchard: “I write believable, non-exaggerated, entertaining thrillers. My characters are people, not super-heroes. If they get hit, it hurts. When they’re solving a mystery, they don’t depend on fluke or chance. They roll up their sleeves and do the job. My twists are solid, not flimsy and I never pull out an obscure butler at the end to hang the blame on. Based on reviews to date, all of which were written by readers who were once strangers (and not friends or family), everything I’ve just said about my novels is the plain truth.” -- Author of VIGILANTE, THE CONSULTANT, MIND GAMES, THE HOMELESS KILLER, 6 HOURS 42 MINUTES, and ASYLUM

MWU: If the main character in COMMITTED was stranded on a deserted island and wasn’t going to be rescued for at least one year, what would he need to have with him to make sure he remains sane?

John W. Mefford: “Michael would want to have his computer, a case full of cheap red wine, and his life partner, Marisa. They’d have so much fun together they’d probably ask the rescuers to give them another six months on the island!” -- Author of COMMITTED

MWU: I noticed a link on your website that says: “Step in to the fantasy world of Tears of Crimson Club”. Tell readers a bit more about this…

Michelle Hughes: “The Tears of Crimson club is all about fantasy.  When you read the books I want you to lose yourself in the world.  Thanks to some wonderful friends we also have a role play group that plays out the characters from the books.  Prior to finishing the first book I was very involved with the True Blood and Twilight role play community.  We actively encourage people to interact with our characters and want them to come to life in a way that make you feel like you are a part of the group.” -- Author of A NIGHT AT TEARS OF CRIMSON

MWU: As I stated in your introduction today, you have broken through the lines of publishing various genres as opposed to only one genre. Was this an easy thing to do? What were/are the challenges?

Paul Dorset (aka JohnCox): “This is something I’ve thought about many times. Lots of established authors tell you to stick with one genre, or if you write different genres to use a different name. Me? I guess I believe in being a little different! Actually there is one genre I stick to and that is quite simply to write for ‘younger’ people as much as possible. As a kid I was fascinated by reading and I consumed books by the dozen. But sometimes it was difficult finding something that kept me interested. And that was because so many books seemed to be either aimed at an immature reader or had totally adult themes and didn’t suit younger readers. I try to write age appropriate books that can also be enjoyed by ‘grown-ups’! My genre, if you like, is the developing mind!” -- Author of  FERGUS FEDDERFEENY’S FOOD FACTORY, JAI AND JASMINE’S JEOPARDOUS JOUREY, XANNU: THE PROPHEY, XANNU: THE HEALING and NEW BLOOD

MWU: Are any of your characters in AN INDECENT DEATH based on you or someone you know? 

David Anderson: “As a teacher, I’ve met thousands of people in my career. So, yes, many of the characters are based on people I knew. But only parts of them. The janitor in the story, for example, is asleep with his feet in a sink in one scene. That really happened. Detective Sergeant Nicholas Drumm is a little bit like me, but only a little bit. I don’t have diabetes, but I do have a Sheltie, as Drumm does in the novel. The victim, a seventh grade teacher, is a wanton flirt, but I want to make it clear: I never knew anyone like that!" -- Author of AN INDECENT DEATH

MWU: What have you learned about writing and self-publishing and what advice would you give to someone just entering the self-publishing arena? 

Andy Holloman: “Twitter, twitter, twitter.  An amazing place to make writing friends.  I have been totally blown away at how helpful people are and the value of having a “writers network” is immeasurable.  Did a mention that twitter will help?" -- Author of SHADES OF GRAY

MWU: How did you choose the title for THE DEVIL’S GAME? Did you decide on it right away or do you let the story brew for a bit and then choose? 

S.L. Pierce: “We chose the title after the book was finished, and it was a process. I can't even remember how many possibilities we went through.  It was almost as hard as agreeing on the cover (LOL). What we finally did was write down some central ideas of the story and made lists of synonyms to get the ideas flowing.” -- Author of THE DEVIL’S GAME

Maren Kaye: “It was a fun process. S.L. had come up with GAME. We were talking back and forth on the phone with different ideas. I have a clear memory of calling her from the checkout lane at the grocery store with DEVIL and I think at that moment we both knew we had a winner. “ -- Author of THE DEVIL’S GAME

MWU: If Madison Knight could step out of the book and talk with you, what do you think would be the most pressing thing she would want to tell you? 

Carolyn Arnold: “Probably why I had to give her an unresolved case.  Madison is a perfectionist and determined to find justice for the victims and bring closure to their families.  For her to have a case that was never solved, even though she knows who the guilty party is, drives her crazy.  The law still dictates that she proves the guilt beyond reasonable doubt.  While this case is mentioned in TIES THAT BIND, the reader will get more details as the series goes on.” -- Author of TIES THAT BIND, JUSTIFIED and ELEVEN

MWU: If Ellie Fortier could step out of the pages of THE PAINTING OF DECEIT; what: a) would she be thankful for in terms of what you’ve done her character? b) is the one thing she wishes you wouldn’t have done with her character? and c) is something she would still like you to do with her character?

R.J. Grand: “If Ellie was real: a) Ellie would be relieved to be able to eat a lot, whether it was a gourmet meal or junk food baked from scratch, but would hide her feelings about it. b) She would beg me not to expose her flaws to readers, and c) She would insist I write her character to portray her as a perfect person, who everyone wants to be like.”-- Author of THE PAINTING OF DECEIT and ON THE INSIDE

MWU: If you had less than a minute to tell a perspective reader what they could expect from ENEMY IN BLUE (you are at a trade show and someone has stopped by your booth) what would you tell them? Go…. 

Derek Blass: “Non-stop action. Thrills. Entertainment that weaves in several topics that are germane to our contemporary society, like police brutality and racism. Not in a way you feel clubbed over your head. In a way that first, you enjoy a great story, and second, you reflect.

-- Author of ENEMY IN BLUE

MWU: If you were approached to make the MARSHALL CONNORS SERIES into a made for TV event, who do you think should play the role of Marshall Connors?

Allen Schatz: “I've actually been thinking about that. More than a few people have suggested it needs to be on the screen. I guess I could see James Marsden doing it. Ben Affleck and Chris Pine might work too. Those guys are similar.” -- Author of GAME 7: DEAD BALL, 7TH INNING DEATH, and RALLY KILLER
MWU: If one of your characters could step out of the pages of one of your books (any character you want) what do you think he would say to you? What would they he thankful for? Upset about?

Donna Dawson: “Boy! You don’t make this easy :-) I’m going to play with this a bit.  Doctor Jason Steadman.  If he could talk I think he’d complain that I forced him out of his lab and into the limelight.  But, I think he would thank me that he got a chance to bring his medical procedure, to transfer embryos into women who can’t conceive, into the public eye.” -- Author of REDEEMED, THE ADAM & EVE PROJECT, VENGEANCE, FIRES OF FURY AND RESCUED

To read any of the author interviews in full, just click on the author's name and it will bring you to their interview.

A HUGE THANK YOU to all the authors that allowed me to interview and promote their work on MYSTERY WRITERS UNITE!! You made it interesting and fun and helped drive traffic to the site...much appreciated!!


Thursday, December 29, 2011

Play Clue: the Juicy Bit

Colonel Mustard in the Library with the Lead Pipe. Do you remember Clue?
I'd like to play a game of Clue, sort of. But let's just do the juicy bit: the murder.

Person, place, weapon. If you are writing mystery, those three elements are an integral part of the plot and story. Even if you are writing the mystery as high-concept, at some point, someone is going to die at the hands of someone else.

I think now is a good time to explore the sister arts of shuffling someone prematurely off this mortal coil and deceiving the authorities. After prolonged exposure to family over the holidays, writers' thoughts must inevitably turn to murder... at least on paper.

So, tell me how you would 'kill' some of your 'favourite' relatives. Pseudonyms are encouraged to protect sweet old aunties who surf blogs from slicing you out of the will!

Rules are, it should be a relative (in honour of the Christmas season); details on how you would deceive the authorities are required; and, finally, give us a great setting!

Comment, and we will vote for the most creative, evil, funny or just plain shocking dispatch & cover.

Winner will receive a free copy of The Ophelia Trap, in a format of your choosing (up to and including a signed paperback). Why? Because I am out of chocolates and wrapping paper, that's why.

Voting will depend upon participation, as will date of announcement of the winner.

Miss Peacock
Kate Burns

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Author Interview ~ Donna Dawson

Mystery Writers Unite is PLEASED to be interviewing Donna Dawson, author of REDEEMED, THE ADAM & EVE PROJECT, VENGEANCE, FIRES OF FURY AND RESCUED (see select titles below and others at Donna's website:

Writing started for Donna about the time she learned the alphabet as did the singing; the teaching came a bit later but started about the time that her children began to develop weird and not-so-wonderful illnesses which interfered with their schooling.  That began the homeschooling chapter of her life and Donna’s particular little darlings adapted so well to home schooling that she stuck at it until they were too old to stay home--enter--university life.  That developed the whole teaching skill side of her brain and it never quite left. 

When Donna dove into the writing it was with the idea of learning from a teacher's perspective.  She didn't realize at the time that by taking the university writing courses through Long Ridge Writers Group she would arm herself with the credentials needed to teach Creative Writing at Fanshawe College.  Luckily, the powers that be figured if she could teach her own angels, teaching adults who actually wanted to be there would be a piece of cake. 

Today, Donna is still “chugging” along at writing and she must be doing something right as The Word Guild gave her three awards for two of her books! Donna reveals the following about her books,  “the convoluted and sometimes twisted plots for her novels has everything to do with being raised the youngest in a predominantly male household, the patriarch of the clan being a Sergeant in the army.”

--- Interview

First, thanks for agreeing to let Mystery Writers Unite interview you, it is a pleasure…now for the fun stuff J

Donna Dawson: It is my great pleasure to be a participant in this interview.

MWU: Aside from family, who would you say has been the biggest supporter of your writing?

Donna Dawson: Hands down, my church family.  They buy my books which is a sure sign that they feel sorry for me/are devoted to what I am doing :-)

MWU: If you could be one of your characters, what type of character would you be and why ?

Donna Dawson: I’d like to be Julie Holding from Vengeance.  She seems to always have the right answer, to keep her cool in a tough situation and yet doesn’t come across as a snob.  I tend to stick my foot in my mouth on far too many occasions to be like her but I can still dream :-)

MWU: If one of your characters could step out of the pages of one of your books (any character you want) what do you think he would say to you? What would they he thankful for? Upset about?

Donna Dawson: Boy!  You don’t make this easy :-)  I’m going to play with this a bit.  Doctor Jason Steadman.  If he could talk I think he’d complain that I forced him out of his lab and into the lime light.  But, I think he would thank me that he got a chance to bring his medical procedure, to transfer embryos into women who can’t conceive, into the public eye.

MWU: To date, which character has been the easiest and hardest to create and write and why?

Donna Dawson: Oh that one’s easy.  I would say the villain in Vengeance.  I wanted the readers to actually like the guy—to feel empathy for him—and yet I wanted him to be a clear villain.  It wasn’t easy creating such an obvious contrast and yet it was successful.  I’ve had reader’s comment that they really felt sorry for the guy but that it was clear that he was wrong to do what he did.

MWU: If you had less than a minute to tell a perspective reader what they could expect from one of your books (you are at a trade show and someone has stopped by your booth) what would you tell them? Go….

Donna Dawson: I would say that Rescued is about a teen who gets pregnant.  She will die if she goes ahead with the pregnancy.  In a new procedure, she has the embryo transferred from her to another woman.  I then would say, “Think of the ramifications for tubal pregnancies, for abortion, for adoption.”  I’ve had that conversation and it intrigues the writer enough to buy the book.  It’s a win/win scenario for all involved.

MWU: How do you develop and differentiate your characters and how do you “stay in character” when your writing? Has this processed changed over time?

Donna Dawson: I create each character through roughly 60 questions I answer about them.  That sheet of paper is posted nearby and I refer to it often when I am writing.  It keeps me from losing facts and personality traits about the character.  For example:  One of the questions is: What is one of this character’s pet peeves?

MWU: Who do you see as your “ideal” reader?

Donna Dawson: I target the adult who likes suspense and action.  Funny thing though—I have had readers as young as eight buy my books and love them.  I can’t help but say that they are advanced readers because this is clearly not light and fluffy reading.

MWU: What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?

Donna Dawson: There are two pieces of advice I have valued.  One was; expect enough rejection slips to wallpaper your office.  The other was; get educated.  Learn the craft of writing and learn the correct process for contacting publications.

MWU: What are you working on now and when can fans expect your next book or CD?

Donna Dawson: I’m actually just finishing the final touches on a writing book.  It’s called “Duke the Chihuahua Writes!”.  Ok so I didn’t say it was an intellectual writing book.  I’ve tried to combine humour through the eyes of a rather stuffy and aged pooch to get the details of writing and marketing out to the beginner writer.  I’m hoping to see it in print by this time next year but we’ll see.

MWU: Is there anything you would like to say to new writers, new readers or current fans of your work?

Donna Dawson: I wasn’t kidding about the importance of learning the craft of writing.  Too many talented writers shoot themselves in the foot because they are too afraid of editing and they aren’t educated about the process involved in writing.  It makes the difference—believe me!  And I want to thank you for inviting me to the interview once again.  Wishing you an awesome Christmas!

Synopsis for REDEEMED:

It was never her intention to become a believer in Christ.  She had fallen too far to think she could ever have found her way back to such freedom and forgiveness.  God had other plans, though.  Will miracles never cease? she reflected as she stared absently through the large plate glass window.

She could see the sun, blood-hued and angry looking, rising over the lake, its silver-grey surface duplicating the fiery disk in its rippling depths.  Lake Restoule.  It was a beautiful place with its abrupt rocky outcroppings and hills covered with dense collections of brambles, ferns, and scrub trees struggling to maintain their grasp on their barren perches--a place of peace.

She smiled at the glorious sight spread out before her.  There was a fine lacy edging  of ice skirting the pristine lake water, and the birch, maple and elm trees on the island across from her were absorbing the growing light that was transforming colourless leaves into a blaze of oranges, yellows and bronzes.  Early morning fauna were rustling nervously through dry and shrivelled grasses that begged for the approaching rain, and the trees had already begun the slight shuffling dance that precedes a coming storm, their awkward and brittle arms lifting papery foliage in supplication to an overcast sky.

Her focus shifted to the ghostly reflection of her own face mirrored, shadowed and indistinct, in the glass that separated her from nature's canvas, and her smile faded a bit.  Her outward appearance was a contrast.  Native blood, passed down from her mother, flowed strong in her veins, manifesting itself through the hue of her skin.  Long, thick hair bore evidence of her father's Scottish ancestry, it's deep auburn tint muted in the early light.  She was a tiny woman, like her mother, slim and willowy with a lithe grace in her movements.  Her diminutive size belied an incredible strength of limb.  Hers was a body of speed and economy.

Her eyes dropped to the dim reflection of the long ragged scar that traced a wicked path from the corner of her almond-shaped, chocolate-coloured eyes to just below her mouth.  It was a sad mouth, full and sensuous in shape but with a slight turning down of its corners.  It contradicted the peace and joy that shone just below the surface of the rest of her young and lovely face.

But it was her eyes that really told the story.  Eyes that had once been full of pain and despair, devoid of hope, now showed slow and steady healing.  An unearthly patience, forged in the fires of trial and tribulation, dwelled in their dusky depths, speaking of a life of bitter and harsh experience overcome by great victory.  They were ancient eyes.

Synopsis for VENGEANCE:

FBI agent goes on a cruise for his vacation but discovers murder on board.  Can he find out if there is a deadly virus loose before the ship docks?  Can he keep Doctor Julie Holding from become embroiled in the intrigue?  Find out.

Synopsis for FIRES OF FURY:

Katherine didn’t expect to find love after the mysterious death of her husband but Ontario Provincial Police Officer Jason Wolfe has other ideas. As she struggles to overcome her husband’s death and his betrayal with Beverly Jarvis, Katherine must decide if she is willing to surrender her feelings to yet another man caught in Beverly’s sights.

With a family who is constantly interfering, and Jason’s persistent attention, she must choose between living the life that she is accustomed to or find a new one elsewhere. And as Katherine is forced to make choices she has no wish to make, she must continue to outsmart the man who is trying to kill her too.

Can her growing love survive so much or will she run?

Synopsis for RESCUED:

There could be a peaceful solution to abortion.  A solution that has been in use for 20 years.  For the girl who doesn't want an abortion but feels she has no other choice.  For the woman who has been told she has a tubal pregnancy but wished to keep her child.  For the woman who can't conceive but wants the experience of carrying a baby and delivering.  It's a simple solution.  A solution overlooked by those who are firm in their stand and have not had the opportunity to look beyond it.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

There's No Place Like Home

Kate Burns

Hope everyone had a Merry Christmas and Happy Boxing Day!

Today, I listened to some holiday tunes. Today being Boxing Day, I have, for most of my life, referred to them in my head as 'leftover carols'. Like the turkey dinner, the tunes are nostalgic and sweet the day after. With the fresh edge of anticipation removed, there's no dressing for eating leftovers... I love the way a piping hot turkey dinner mellows into a sloppy toasted sandwich eaten slowly away from all family while wearing slippers and jammie pants. There's no dressing for dinner, no standing on ceremony.

One of the songs that caught my ear today was "There's No Place Like Home (For The Holidays)". It got me thinking about home. To me, home is like that leftover turkey in the fridge. All the decorations have been admired, now there's a mess of tumbled gifts and wrapping to set off the look. It's humble, it's familiar. In the great gentle letdown after Christmas celebrations, it's even... boring.

We often think of home as boring, don't we? Asked to describe your living room, I'll bet 90% of you would simply say, 'it's a mess.' It's much easier to describe someone else's living room. Other living rooms are exotic. Designer. Chic. Homey. Home? Mess. How many of us, if we go for an evening walk, can resist peaking into our neighbours' windows (from a non-stalkery socially acceptable admiring distance, of course)?

In writing, there is a tendency to do that as well. It's tempting to set your novel in a place like Monaco, New York, London... those places sound interesting. And they are interesting.

But so is your location. Your home, your town, your neck of the woods. To your reader, your setting is like sneaking a peek through someone else's living room... and their kitchen, their woods, their customs, and their skeleton closets.

So, dear writers... if you are googling New York or Egypt and attempting to write 'from' there, make sure that it is integral to your plot and characters, and don't lose sight of that piece of overlooked exotica...


Happy writing!
Kate Burns

PS: No Wikipedia articles were harmed in the formation of this random thought jumble.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Writer's Block: Author Interview Responses and Solutions

Hello everyone :-)

Today’s post is going to be dedicated to helping writers out there overcome writer’s block. Many writers will suffer from this affliction at some point in their writing career and during my author interviews I always ask the dreaded “Do you experience writer’s block and if so how do you deal with it?” I’ve gotten some great responses and thought it would be nice if they were all in one place for easy reference for those of us that have experienced this phenomenon. These are not listed in any particular order….

Claude Bouchard: “I’ve never considered it writer’s block. For me, it a mulling period, a time to ponder, sometimes needed to organize my thoughts in order to offer the best possible tale to my readers. These writing breaks are often perfect occasions to review what’s there to date, start polishing rough spots and do some fine-tuning. By the time I get back to where I was when the mulling started, I’m usually good to just keep on writing.”
David Anderson: “No, I don’t, and I suppose I am lucky. Having said that, there are days when the writing doesn’t go well. I usually try to force things along but if that doesn’t work, then I give up and do other tasks. The next day is always better.”

Rebecca Forster: “I experience writer’s block all the time. My trick is to get physical. I play on a competitive tennis team, I quilt and sew and cook – and clean the house. I think when you live in your mind as many authors do it is good to focus on the physical for a while to clear the mind.”
R.S. Guthrie: “Oh yes. More than I experience “inspiration”. It’s not a block as much as it is an empty reservoir. I need to get up and write in the middle of the night. That’s when I find my imagination most fertile. But I love sleep, too.”
James P. Wilcox:  “Writer’s block has never been a huge issue for me because I don’t have a writing routine.  As I mentioned before, I don’t get the chance to write everyday, but I am thinking about the story everyday.  I try to think through the plot, the characters, dialogue, etc. so when I do get to write I can be productive.  With that said, transitions are hard for me.  When I am moving from one setting to the next, or finish one chapter, it is difficult to start the next.  This is what I struggle with the most and causes me the most trouble.  My writer’s block is in the transitions.”
Michelle Hughes:  “I have had that horrible block and wondered if this journey into writing was coming to an end.  As you mentioned earlier I started off as a singer/songwriter so that worry always finds the back of my mind.  What if the words just stop coming, or the dreams no longer happen?  To answer your question, I have this overwhelming fear when the writer’s block comes that I will never find my way back to the words again.  If you haven't come to the conclusion yet that I get a little overly dramatic with most things, I'll just go ahead and let you know that I do.”
Lisa M. Lilly:  “I’ve never had writer’s block, but I’ve certainly had those times where my stomach clenches and it feels like it’ll be impossible to write.  Usually for me, that comes from my fear that what I write won’t be any good.  It also happens when I don’t know where my story is going.  So I tell myself that I’m just going to write something terrible, and that’s okay.  And if I don’t know what to write, I start by writing that and then musing about what my character could do next or what I might someday write about.  So something like, “I don’t know what to write.  Maybe Tara needs to go overseas.  What about that church she tried to find in Armenia?  No, I don’t think she’ll go there again….”  Once I get my fingers moving across the keys, I almost always write a scene or scenes I end up using.  If not, I try again the next day.”
Douglas Dorow: “I get writer's block sometimes. I work off of a high level scene outline, so if I get stuck, I move onto a different scene and try and figure out why I was struggling with the other. If I have writer's block it usually means there's something wrong with the story at that point and I have to figure out how to fix it or remove or replace the scene.”
S.L. Pierce:  “Absolutely.  I'm going through a pretty bad spell right now.  Unfortunately it is hitting at a very busy time so it's harder to just make myself sit and write, which is what I usually do.  I also have a writing prompt app on my phone that works sometimes.”
Maren Kaye:  “I’ve found the best cure for writers block is to get out of the house. Netbooks are great for taking to the park or the nearest coffee shop or museum. Every person you see has a story to tell and it’s just a matter of getting that initial spark.”
Russell Blake: “Not yet. I did once, on a non-fiction book I shelved, but thankfully once I'm in the story, it flows.”
Helen Hanson:  “My version of writer’s block is: what happens next?  I know how the story ends, but I don’t have a road map of every side road I plan to take.  It’s the same way I travel.  Ooh, let’s stop and see the cup flipper.  No.  We saw the gator farm last time.  How about the world’s largest porcupine?  As a writer, the journey better be fun.  If it’s not entertaining, I might as well stay home.”
Paul Dorset (aka John Cox): “Not so much writer’s block, but there are some days when I don’t write. I am a planner. I plan my stories out with pretty intricate detail before they ever get written. Of course, there are new ideas that get introduced as well, but on the whole I know where my stories are going. This means that when I write I really know what it is I’m wiring. And as long as I am in my zone, the words come.”

John W. Mefford: “As a novelist, I had days where the writing comes easy. The ideas flow like a well-choreographed musical. Other days, the thoughts are not as fluid. But I really don’t call anything in the novel world writer’s block. I take it all in and believe I can use every day of writing to enhance my story. Some days I’ll crank out 3,000 words. Other days, it’s only 500, but I might develop the idea for a cool scene. When you’re a self-publishing author, you have control of your own destiny and your own outlook.”
Dr. Edwards:  “We all hit the wall from time to time.  I used to teach my writing students—and firmly believe it myself—that there are two main sources of writer’s block.  One is when our internal censor gets the upper hand and wants to keep us away from the really interesting stuff deep inside.  The cure for this is free writing exercises where you just write without stopping or conscious thought, and it also helps to remind yourself, as Anne Lamott says, that it’s okay to write “shitty” first drafts.  The second source of writer’s block is when the well runs dry.  That’s when you need to take a break, go for a walk, hug someone, laugh, exercise and so on.”

Note: If you would like to read any of author interviews in full, just click on the link and it will take you to that author’s interview.

For other tips for dealing with writer’s block, please refer to my other two posts on the subject “Solutions to Deal with Writer’s Block” and “Writing Software Solutions”.

Have a great day!