Friday, March 29, 2013

On Creating A Series by Pat Amsden

Have you ever wondered how Janet Evanovich came up with the idea of doing a series based around Stephanie Plum, someone who loses a job selling lingerie and decides to take a job working for her uncle, who's a bail bondsman? Or J.K. Rowling decided to write a series on a boy wizard?

Better yet have you ever wondered how you'd come up with a series like that? I'm guessing a fertile imagination would help. And then something in your background. Janet Evanovich comes from the area her Stephanie Plum character inhabits. J.K. Rowling went to a British private school and knew what it was like to be a student in one. But I suspect they probably just wanted to write one book to start with. I may be wrong but I don't think either of them really envisioned the success they would have with the characters or the number of books they would write about these characters when they started out.

Now, you can't talk to an editor without them asking if you have an idea for more books based on the book you're pitching them. So far they've yet to FIRMLY commit to the book I'm pitching to them although they've wanted to see more. But just in case they do they'd like me to come up with ideas for several more based on characters from the original book.

This time I'm started out with the idea of a series. But on what? Ok. I like chocolate. I like mysteries and I live in Victoria. What better than a mystery series based on an amateur sleuth who has a chocolate shop and catering business? I started noodling around the type of person I wanted the main character to be. Smart, sassy and too nosy to keep her nose out of other people's business. Really, have you ever known anyone to create a series around someone too stupid to live? On purpose? Especially if they're going to have to figure out who just killed someone else?

Then I came up with a side kick, Heath. Part of it was practicality. Catering requires a lot of heavy lifting so her side-kick Heath is 6'2' and a recent graduate of cooking school. Young, enthusiastic, works for cheap and can do the heavy lifting. I gave her an on again/off again love interest who was a policeman. There's more, but that's the backbone of it.

I started writing it but I can't even keep all the details straight for one book. I can't imagine doing it through a whole series. I started making some notes. I read an article where one writer talked about using Castle's murder board in reverse to figure out what she was doing in her books. And then I saw a course through the Margie Lawson Academy of Writing to develop a series bible. OK. I'm not overly religious but this was really a way to develop and write a series. Perfect!

I signed up for it. So far I've learned what I want to do is a stand alone series which is the writer's equivalent to a subdivision filled with houses compared to a big book which would be more like a huge mansion. I decided to use Power Point for my bible. Someone else is using Pinterest. I like the idea and I'm issuing Pinterest to create a board for my book (secret) it's like a compost heap of ideas for me which ferment around in my brain hopefully creating an interesting book.

And I'm seriously thinking about self-publishing it. I know a few people who are self-publishing and they're doing pretty well at it. I’m planning for later this year. Wish me luck!

Author link:

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Reviewing Illuminations: A Novel of Hildegard von Bingen by Mary Sharratt

Hildegard von Bingen is an admirable character. At the tender age of eight, she is walled up in a church and her own mother turns her back on her. Many (most) would give up, roll over and die. Yet, Hildegard grabs hold of life. She has plants brought into her cell and when she's not performing her duties--singing hymns and making scared garments--she educates herself. And, later, when two other girls join her Hildegard sees it as her responsibility to share this love of life with them.
There is more to Hildegard's story. But I don't wish to spoil the adventure. You need to read this book.
However horrific the conditions... However hopeless the life... This is a moving story; told tenderly and with great respect for the woman behind the legend.
Illuminations speaks of the power of woman--together; separate--external; internal--endless.
Thank you, Mary Sharratt, for another fine read. 

Buy Link
You'll find my review of Daughters of Witching Hill by Mary Sharratt here
You'll find my interview with Mary Sharratt here
Work in progress
 Is the Reverend Dead?
Current word count:  6,727 words
I'm thoroughly enjoying working on this fun project.

Lesson from Yoga class:  I'm. Here. Now. Embrace the Here. Embrace the Now. Know that you're meant to be exactly where you are. So BE.
I'm exciting to write that I will be attending the 3rd Annual LitFest New Westminster. It's a free event held at Douglas College (700 Royal Avenue, New Westminster) And as their website says, 'The day is filled with workshops, author lectures, book signings and more...followed by an evening showcase event featuring music, dance and spoken word.' 
So mark your calendar:  Saturday, April 13th
Visit the website:
Have you heard of this new play:  My Turquoise Years
It'll be on the Granville Island Stage from April 4th to May 4th

Monday, March 25, 2013

Hummingbird Garden Vest (free knitting pattern)

Hey, I wonder if the fact that these knitting patterns are appearing as the top pages means that my knitting friends have found me again? Hope so...

This pattern, which I designed, was published in Knit Together (May 2008) Owner/Editor:  Cynthia MacDougall

Skill level:  Beginner

Hummingbird Fibre Arts Falkland Superwash Merino double knitting or any suitable worsted weight yarn
1,240 yards [1134 metres] per 454 gram skein 1[1, 1, 1, 2, 2] skeins
1 pair 4.5 mm/7 US/7 UK straight needles or the size necessary to obtain tension

Tension: 22 stitches = 4 inches/10 centimeters over stocking stitch

Size:  Finished sweater:
Chest:  XS-36 [S-40, M-44, L-48, XL-52, XXL-56] inches
91 [100, 112, 122, 132, 142] centimeters
Length:  23 [23, 24, 24, 26, 26]
58 [58, 61, 61, 66, 66] centimeters

Instructions are given for smallest size with instructions for larger sizes place in square brackets []. When only one instruction is given, work it for all sizes. Beginning knitters my wish to place a stitch holder between the 2-Stitch Rib 1 and 2 x 2 rib stitch sections.

2 x 2 Rib stitch
Row 1 (right side facing):  knit 2, purl 2 --repeat to end of row
Repeat row for pattern

2-Stitch Rib 1 stitch (over multiple of 4 stitches)
Row 1:  knit 2, purl 2 --repeat to end of row
Row 2:  purl 2, knit 2 --repeat to end of row
Repeat row 1 and 2 for pattern

Cast on 108 [120, 132, 144, 156, 168] stitches.
Work in 2 x 2 rib for 14 [14, 15, 15, 17, 17] inches
35.5 [35.5, 38, 38, 43, 43] centimeters

Style tip:  For neat side seams, cast on 2 extra stitches so that every right side row begins and ends with knit 2. This will also centre a wale down the back. Remember to add 2 stitches to stitch count throughout. 

Armhole shaping:  At the beginning of the next two rows, cast off 12 stitches.

Style tip:  On the first armhole, cast off stitches knitwise, and on the second armhole cast off stitches purlwise.

84 [96, 108, 120, 132, 144] stitches remain.
Continue in 2 x 2 Rib stitch for 9 inches (23 cm)

Shoulder shaping:  Cast off 12 [10, 10, 12, 20, 22] stitches at the beginning of next 4 [6, 6, 6, 4, 4] rows. 
36 [36, 48, 48, 52, 56] stitches remain.
Work in 2-Stitch Rib I for 4 inches (10 centimeters)
Cast off

Right Front
Cast on 54 [60, 66, 72, 78, 84] stitches

Style Tip:  Add 2 stitches to 2 x 2 Rib panel for sizes S, L, and XXL and end all right-side rows with knit two. This will place 4 knits stitches at the side seams (2 front and 2 back) for a neat mattress stitch seam.

Style Tip:  The row tension for the 2-Stitch Rib I is more per inch than the 2 x 2 Rib. To compensate, work a short row on the front panel stitches every inch or so.

Establish pattern:  2-Stitch Rib I stitch for 12 stitches, 2 x 2 Rib stitches for 42 [48, 54, 60, 66, 72] stitches
Work for 14 [14, 15, 15, 17, 17] inches 
35.5 [35.5, 38, 38, 43, 43] centimeters
End with work side facing for next row.

Armhole Shaping:  Cast off 12 stitches  
42 [48, 54, 60, 66, 72] stitches remaining
Continue in pattern as established for 9 inches (23 centimeters)
End with wrong side facing for next row.

Shoulder Shaping
Cast off 12 [10, 10, 12, 20, 22] stitches at the beginning of next and following alternate 1 [2, 2, 2, 1, 1] row(s)
18 [18, 24, 24, 26, 28] stitches remaining
Work in 2-Stitch Rib I for 4 inches (10 centimeters)
Cast off

Left Front
Cast on 54 [60, 66, 72, 78, 84] stitches
Style Tip:  To make the left front mirror right front, cast on purlwise, then establish pattern, begin with Row 2 of the 2-Stitch Rib I followed by the 2 x 2 Rib, beginning with purl 2. 
Establish pattern:  2 x 2 Rib stitch for 42 [48, 54, 60, 66, 72] stitches, 2-Stitch Rib I stitch for 12 stitches
Work for 14 [14, 15, 15, 17, 17] inches
35.5 [35.5, 38, 38, 43, 43] centimeters
End with right side facing for next row.

Armhole Shaping:  Cast off 12 stitches 
42 [48, 54, 60, 66, 72] stitches remaining
Continue in pattern as established for 9 inches (23 centimeters)
End with right side facing for next row.

Shoulder Shaping:  Cast off 12 [10, 10, 12, 20, 22] stitches at the beginning of this and following alternate 1 [2, 2, 2, 1, 1] row(s) 
18 [18, 24, 24, 26, 28] stitches remaining
Work in 2-Stitch Rib I for 4 inches (10 centimeters)
Cast off

Finishing:  Block pieces for measurements. Sew collar and shoulder seams. Sew side seams. Weave in ends. Attach frog closure, if desired.
Okay, so, now here's a really treat. Lean back and listen to the dramatic, melodic tones of Heitha Forsyth singing At Last and then singing my new favourite song

Friday, March 22, 2013

Please welcome Author Alison Bruce

How/why did you start to write?

I was born into a storytelling family. I could visualize the tales my mother told me about World War II so vividly, I had nightmares about being bombed. When I was about eleven or twelve years old, I wrote a story about the apocalypse that scared my teacher. I was hooked.

How did you become an author?

I decided that was going to be an author when I was eighteen years old. That’s when I sent my first story off to a professional publication. After a handful of rejections, I decided I wasn’t good enough, so I gave up. Gave up trying to get published, not writing.

Twenty years later, I was still writing, and still entertaining family and friends. I was also a freelance copy writer and editor. My success writing and editing for clients gave me the confidence to put my fiction out there again. Before I had the time but not the courage; now I had the courage but not the time.

When I was taking care of my terminally ill sister, she insisted that I write the novel I had been telling her as a story. She arranged respite and babysitting for me so I could have a couple of hours every day. When someone gives you that kind of gift, you don’t throw it away.

What was your first published piece?

I had a couple of pieces of poetry published in Scarborough College’s literary anthology - which was cool since I never went to Scarborough College. That was my earliest publication.

My first published short story was in Women’s Work 2000 - a day planner with stories that I edited for a publisher I partly owned.

My first novel was published in 2011 by Imajin Books. I was applying for a editing job when I found out they had a call for new authors. The day after I sent my ms, I got an email telling me that I wouldn’t be getting the editing job because Imajin wanted me as an author instead.

After thirty years, I was an author overnight.

What did you do before embarking on your writing career? Was it an asset to your writing? How?

What have I done? What haven’t I done? I guess the answer to both questions is “plenty”.

I did a double major in history and philosophy at University of Guelph - but first I did a year at Ryerson, was in Katimavik, hitchhiked halfway across Canada and worked at a variety of jobs. After university I worked as a lab tech for an optical company and then managed a comic book store for a few years. It was with the comic book store that I started writing marketing copy and designing display ads. Then, between jobs, my cousin asked what I was writing. I responded: “What do you want written?”

Later, in addition to writing, editing and layout, I went into partnership with my sister and an artist friend to create Women’s Work - which we published for five years - until my sister was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Everything I’ve done, every story I’ve told, every project I’ve researched, every step I’ve taken is grist for the mill. Being a professional writer has hardened my shell and enabled me to work well with my editors. Having been a publisher - albeit micro-publisher - I also have a good understanding of the business end of books and marketing.

What inspires you?

Six months before she died, my sister was working on designing promotional materials for the Guelph Jazz Festival and editing the first draft of my fantasy novel. She did this flat on her back with her desktop computer set up on a rolling microwave tray.

That memory inspires me.

The way that Terry Pratchett writes, so that I can read his books multiple times and still laugh, cry and find something new, is my model for writing. The fact that he continues to write while under the Damocles sword of Alzheimer’s Disease reminds me to keep going.

Most of all, my children inspire me. If I keep doing what is important to me, no matter how challenging it gets, they’ll be more likely to pursue their own dreams.

DEADLY LEGACY, Imajin Books, 2012

Even in the future, the past can kill you.

In 2018, rookie detective, Kate Garrett lives in the shadow of her near-legendary father Joe. When Joe dies unexpectedly, he leaves Kate half interest in Garrett Investigations, his last case that ties to three murders, a partner she can't stand, and a legacy to live up to.

Jake Carmedy has lost a partner, mentor and friend, but grief will come later. First, he has a case to solve, one that has detoured from a simple insurance case to a murder investigation. If that isn't enough, Joe's daughter seems to want to take her father's place as his boss.

No matter how hard they try, Carmedy and Garrett can't avoid each other  and they might be next on a killer's list.

and other Amazon sites worldwide

Also available in paperback on Amazon and at Chapters - Guelph.

UNDER A TEXAS STAR, Imajin Books, 2011

Disguised as a boy, Marly joins a handsome Texas Ranger in the hunt for a con man and they must bring the fugitive to justice before giving up the masquerade and giving in to their passion.

When Marly Landers is fooled by con man Charlie Meese, she's determined to bring him to justice―even if it means dressing up as a boy and setting off across the plains to find him.

Texas Ranger Jase Strachan is also after Meese, for crimes committed in Texas. He joins forces with the young boy in a journey that takes them to Fortuna, where a murder interrupts their mission. Jase is duty bound to find the killer, no matter the cost.

Marly carries out her own investigation and comes to the aid of Amabelle Egan, the sister of one of the suspects. But appearances are deceiving, and Marly is mistaken for Amabelle’s suitor, making her a target for the killer. Not to mention, Charlie Meese is still out there.

Under the Texas stars, Marly and Jase are drawn together by circumstances beyond their control, yet fate plots to tear them apart. Will Marly finally get her man? 
and other Amazon sites worldwide

Also available in paperback on Amazon.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Is it Writers' Block or...

There's been tons written about writers' block
Here you'll find 10 types of writers block and how to overcome them.
I even wrote an article about how to overcome writers' block. You can read that here
And just as I was typing the last letter on this article Write to Done published an article on how to overcome writers' block by following a map. You can read that article here.
But I ask you:  Is it really writers' block or is it your clever mind crafting a strategy?


Sometimes I stop working on writing projects. This could be a slight pause or a complete halt.

Why pause?

It gives me time to solve a plot problem.

It gives me time to improve my craft so that I may complete the story.

Another, more interesting or promising, writing project has caught my eye.

Why halt?

I’ve lost interest in the story for some reason. There are many decisions to be made while I write. What point of view will I use—first or third person? Whose story is this? What plot will I follow? My lack of interest may be the result of a wrong decision.

My inability to successfully answer the question: How will I market this manuscript and to whom? I’m building a career. If a project won’t further this career then I stop working on it.

Am I disappointed when I have to abandon a project?

Yes, somewhat. However, I firmly believe that no writing time is wasted. Each sentence, paragraph and scene you write develops your skill. And the words aren't lost. I can and have mined uncompleted projects to assemble new ones.

But If I abandon one will I finish any?

I invite you to visit my Work in progress page how many writing projects I've completed. Add to those an armful of short stories. And you'll have answer to that question.


 These are my words. Deciding what to do with them is up to me.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Please welcome Author Micki Peluso

How/why did you start to write?

I began writing as a catharsis for my deep grief over the loss of my 14 year old daughter in a DWI vehicular homicide. It was poems at first, then a short story version of the tragedy which was published in “Victimology: an International Journal”. I also did editorials which were read on TV stations, and wrote petitions to the judge as the trial of the drunk driver arrived. This led to a staff journalist career for an award winning bi-weekly newspaper, The Staten Island Register, as well as freelance journalism. My daily newspaper published my slice of life humor and pathos stories, mostly centered on my lost daughter and my other five children and then grandchildren. I taught myself to write in all genres except screen writing to find which I liked best. Almost all of my stories have been published in print magazines, won contests and published in e-zines.

How did you become an author?

After the accident, when none in my large family were able to speak about Noelle, I again turned to expressing my feelings through writing. I began a memoir which would become a celebration of her life rather than a eulogy of her death. I had it half written when I ran into a severe memory block concerning the five years before her death, even though I could remember each detail of the actual event. Life interrupted me as well and I was too busy working as a freelancer, and doing inventory work at home, while helping my oldest daughter raise her young sons. Three heart attacks, and two open heart surgeries later, I was finally able to break through the block caused by the trauma and continue the book within a year.

What was your first published piece?

My first published short non-fiction story was “And Then There Were Five”, a story relating the reactions of my other five children, my husband and myself over the loss of Noelle.This story dealt with the reactions of my five children after losing Noelle, and how we came to terms with her loss.

Where was it published?

It was published in Victimology: An International Journal, followed in the next two issues by two related poems.

How long ago?

It was published in 1986

What did you do before embarking on your writing career? Was it an asset to your writing? How?

I was a home Mom, loving the wonderful job of raising six, bright, beautiful, funny, rambunctious kids. They were/are my love, my life; my treasures. They were later the inspiration for my short slice of life stories, and of course they were mortified when I published funny stories of their antics in my daily newspaper. I have an ‘Erma Bombeck’ style of humor writing and none of them--including their father, who was like the father in “Sound of Music”, whistling for the kids when it was dinner time—were spared in my hysterical stories about our lives. Our pets were fodder for my stories as well. I realized while finishing the memoir of Noelle’s life, that it had to reflect all the comedic escapades she shared with us—the funniest child in the family.

What inspires you?

Everything inspires me: life, especially the birth of a child, God and my relationship with him which has kept me sane, this beautiful earth we’ve been privileged to live on, the miracles I’ve witnessed, each time I awake to a new and different day, and amidst all the sorrows we face, the indomitable spirit we all have to get up and move forward with hope for a better future.

Please share one of your successful author platform building technique

My publisher taught me many useful marketing skills, the most effective for me being working with community affairs and groups like The Red Hatters, The Grandmother Clubs, The New York Professional Women’s Groups, and MADD (Mothers against Drunk Driving). I also used my local TV cable station, as a guest promoting my book and speaking about victims of drunk driving. I’ve spoken and sold books at PTA meetings, Church meetings and carry my books wherever I go. When I was in the hospital my books were in the window waiting for the nurses to buy them. I’ve even sold books to telemarketers trying to sell me somethingJ. Online marketing keeps me busy as I try to do what works best—sell myself and then the books sell themselves. This is a pleasure as I love people and have met long-time friends marketing my books—yes they all bought the book.

Parting words

. . . And the Whippoorwill Sang is a true story written as a death bed promise to my dying child. Many paranormal events happened as I finished the book and afterward, so I know that Noelle had a hand in writing this along with me. The book is dedicated not only to her, but to all the children and young adults whose lives were cut short by drunk or drugged drivers. Each one has a story to tell and I have tried to tell mine for all of them.

Tagline: Happy times, a summer day, a driving drunk, eight lives forever changed
The elusive whippoorwill swoops down the mountains.
Through night into dawn it's song mourns summer's loss--
as I cry mine.
AND THE WHIPPOORWILL SANG, a 300 page memoir, opens with eloping teenagers, Micki and Butch, in a bizarre double wedding ceremony with Micki’s mother. The couple share comical escapades, spanning decades. A terrible accident occurs in a placid valley nestled in the Susquehanna Mountains. Micki narrates happier days while confronting an uncertain future. One of her six children is fighting for life in the hospital. The family embarks upon its unbearable journey to the other side of sorrow . . .
And so in the throes of grief, a writing career was born.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Still Life with Cats (short story)

A chorus of perpetually joyous birds broke the dark silence of the night, heralding the new day. Ragna drifted from dream to reality. The choir cast a spell on her and she was filled with joy. For a split second, she considered rising but dreamland called.
            “Meow,” Rochester cried.

            “Rochester shut up and let me sleep. It’s not time to wake up,” Ragna protested.
            “MEOW,” Rochester replied.
            Ragna had moved to Mayne Island catless. Someone had warned her that this would soon change. “Everyone who moves to this island is assigned a certain number of cats. Some people have more—some less, but cats are everywhere. Yours are on their way.”
            Ragna laughed until the cats began to claim her too.

            First came Josey, followed soon after by her brother.  Josey ran the household—keeping Rochester in line with a swipe of her paw and a snarl.   
            No one could ask for better companions, Ragna thought. And two is the perfect number. But there were more to come.
One of Ragna’s neighbours was a lady in her early eighties. When Sarah fell, her son insisted that she move off the island and live with his f in Coquitlam.
            “I have no choice; I have to leave the island,” Sarah told Ragna. “But what will happen to Mr. Foo? My daughter-in-law is allergic to cats. And besides, I know he wouldn’t be happy in the city. He likes to come and go as he pleases. I’ve asked everyone and no one wants him.” Ragna wasn’t surprised. Everyone knew Mr. Foo loved to fight with other cats.  “Would you take him?” Sarah pleaded. “I don’t want to put him down… I can’t put him down… but if no one will take him…” Large tears began to slide down her cheeks.

            Having no choice, Ragna said, “Yes.” Though she did worry. Will the cats get along? Will Mr. Foo bully the others? Will I come home to clumps of fur and walls stained with blood?

            Thankfully, as it turned out, the two males soon became fast friends. And to Ragna’s surprise, Josey’s reign, over the household, continued  

            Ragna heard Rochester gallop up and down the halls, howling as he ran. “Meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow.”  He sounds like a siren, she thought pulling the blanket over her head.
Thud! She felt the bed shake as Rochester leapt on top of her—his front paws landing on her chest, his back paws on her stomach.
            Oh, sure, I guess it’s morning. She pushed him off, stretched, sat up and swung her legs to the floor. As her feet came to rest on the carpet, her big toe brushed something furry. Ragna braced herself, looked down and saw it –a dead mouse. This one was headless but otherwise intact.
“Thank you for the gift,” Ragna said as, purring, Joey brushed her leg.
This week I completed and have begun submitting a short story collection titled Her, She, I. This is a labour of love that has been completed over a number of years. Actually, when I began this project I wasn't even aware that I was working on it. I was simply writing stories. Developing my craft. What I did this week was weed through all the short stories I've written to date. I found gold--flash fiction, short stories and two novellas. 
Here's the two sentence blurb:  A collection of women's fiction. All stories have an air of mystery.
I love and am very proud of this writing project. I wish for it big things. Oh, like a publishing house, for one. : )
Annie Laurie has shared a link to a helpful article on how to encourage your child to share 4 Tips to Foster An Attitude of Sharing Thank you for sharing this link with us, Annie.
Next post:  Please welcome Author Micki Peluso                 

Sunday, March 10, 2013

This blog has won...

(Drum roll, please) I've won! The Liebster Award...

Thank you Sandra Nikolai, author of the mystery False Impressions, for nominating me.

I had tons of fun following the rules...
-paste the Liebster award in my blog post
-promote a link back to the nominator's blog
-list 11 random facts about me
-answer 11 questions asked by the person who nominated me
-nominate 11 bloggers
-create 11 new questions for my nominees

Link to the nominator's blog 
Sandra Nikolai

Eleven random facts about me:

1)I devote an hour of my day to reading books. I consider this part of my job as a writer.

2)I've been interviewed and have read my writing on the radio.

3)While in elementary school, one of my poems was published in the school newspaper; one of my short stories was published in the community newspaper

4)I'm dyslexic

5)I failed grade two but graduated from high school with awards in Language Arts and Accounting. I went on to attend university.

6)I've studied classes offered through the University of Winnipeg, the University of British Columbia, the University of Victoria and Simon Fraser University

7)I've lived in five of the ten provinces in Canada--Manitoba, Newfoundland and Labrador, Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia

8)I currently live on an island the size of Manhattan--only with far fewer shops and far more sheep.

9)I've been married to the same man for over twenty years.

10)I got my first pet when I was two years old--a German Shepherd I named Sam.

11)Approximately twelve years ago, my husband and I adopted three adult cats. Sadly, one died two years ago. But the other two are jugging along at over seventeen years of age. They've taught us a lot over the years.

Answers to Sandra's questions:

1)Are you a morning person?

Yes. 11 o'clock is still morning. Right? (I'm kidding.)

2)What inspires you to blog?

The opportunity to build a community with readers and authors. 
It provides a venue in which I can improve my writing.

3)What is your current W.I.P. about?

I have four book-length manuscripts that I'm currently attempting to place...

A Long Way From Her
The year is 1983. Nineteen-year-old, dyslexic Lyndi Wimpel leaves home for the first time to join a government-run youth group and travel across Canada.

The Sweater Curse:  a novel
knitting-themed dark thriller
This is a tale of two women. Aspiring knitwear designer Gwen Bjarnson is stuck in Purgatory. To escape, she must re-examine her life, journey through her past and right a wrong. But which wrong? Old and alone, knitter Aster Walburn is haunted by one question. Why did her husband leave her? Desperate to solve this mystery she journeys to her past and re-examines her married life.

No, Smoke the Other End
comic mystery
Why is Mara drawn to the laundry room in her new home? What mysteries await her there?

Her, She, I
A collection of women's fiction. All stories have an air of mystery.

4)What is the one thing you'd like to do but haven't had the opportunity?

I'd like to attend a writing retreat in England.

5)Name one of your favourite fictional characters and explain your choice.

Lyndi Wimpel the protagonist in A Long Way From Her
She faces many of the challenges I faced. But she may just be a little more funny and wee bit more inspirational. I thoroughly enjoyed our time together.

6)What is your pet peeve?

Writers who tell other writers how to write--as if there is only one way.

7)What would be your ideal holiday getaway?

Spending time with my husband in England. 

8)Who/what did you want to be when you grew up?

A vet. An embedded journalist. A teacher.

9)What is your biggest regret?

That I didn't listen to my Language Arts teacher when she said, "I think this story is good. I mean, really good. In fact, I think you should submit it to a literary journal."

10)Name two of your favourite cities in the world.

Akureyri, Iceland (which I visited in 2007)
Old Quebec city (which I visited in 1984)

11)What are the best five words that would describe you?

Creative. Determined. Youthful. Tenderhearted. Fun-loving.

The 11 bloggers I've nominated...

Lou Allin

Robin Spano

Karen and Cathy of Write Despite

Terrill Welch

Laurie Buchanan

Melodie Campbell

Joanna Penn

Amy Sue Nathan

Meg Wolfe

Kristen Lamb

Darlene Foster

My 11 questions for the 11 nominees:

1)Of the movies you've seen recently, which is your favourite?

2)If you could live anywhere in the world where would you live?

3)If you could invite anyone--living or dead/real or fictional--to a dinner party who would you invite?

4)How would you like to be remembered?

5)Use your imagination, what lives in your attic?

6)What's your favourite holiday? Why?

7)Do you sing in the shower? What do you sing?

8)Imagine that you're stranded on an island. How do you get off?

9)What's your most favourite activity?

10)Who was/is the most influential stranger in your life?

11)You have to make a meal for someone you don't like. What do you make?

Next post:  Don't you think it's time for another of my short stories? I think it is. And, so.... We shall. 
What Let's How about Still Life with Cats
I hope you like it.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Sweaters for my characters by Kenneth Weene

(written on December 31st)

It’s a chilly day here in Phoenix, at least chilly by Arizona standards. I’m not one for being cold; that’s a major reason I live in “The Valley of the Sun.” But I do like chilly. That’s when I get to wear a sweater, and I love my sweaters.

Strangely I seldom dress a character in one – not in my short stories and not in my novels. I frequently describe their clothes, but they don’t wear sweaters.

For me sweaters are personal, preferably knitted for me by somebody who wants me to be warm and comfortable. A good sweater gives me the happy fuzzies. Wearing one is comparable to eating macaroni and cheese or a big piece of chocolate cake; it is comfort food without the calories.

It isn’t that I don’t want my characters to be comfortable. Of course, I need them to be uncomfortable and stressed enough to create a story, but I do want them to have the happy, comfy times, too. It’s just that I can’t figure out who knitted that sweater for them. Who in their back-story loves them that much?

Sure, people buy sweaters in stores. I have to admit that I have a couple of store-bought sweaters. One I had to buy when, while we were on vacation, the weather turned unexpectedly cool and I needed something warmer to wear. Another was a gift, and I didn’t want to refuse it; besides it really is comfortable and warm even if t lacks personal connection. Mostly, however, I wear the sweaters my mother-in-law knitted for me.

I know she didn’t love me that much. She did love to knit, and I was a willing recipient. So there are lots of sweaters in my closet, especially considering the few times I wear one each year.

She knitted those sweaters for me, and I have that back-story, but who would have knitted them for my characters. Since I write primarily about people who are trying to survive, people who are lonely and hurting, it is unlikely that they would have a hand-made sweater. Perhaps they picked one up at Goodwill or the Salvation Army, one that was donated. Then the sweater would have its tale to tell, but that’s something else.

Funny thing, I spend more time obsessing about how to dress a character than I do dressing myself. I throw on a pair of kakis, a tee shirt, and sometimes one of those sweaters, and I’m ready to take on the world. It is seldom that easy for the people in my stories; picking out their clothes is no simple task. 

About the Author

Sometimes Ken Weene writes to exorcise demons. Sometimes he writes because the characters in his head demand to be heard. Sometimes he writes because he thinks what he have to say might amuse or even on occasion inform. Mostly, however, he writes because it is a cheaper addiction than drugs, an easier exercise than going to the gym, and a more sociable outlet than sitting at McDonald's drinking coffee with other old farts: in brief because it keeps him just a bit younger and more alive. 
Ken’s short stories and poetry have appeared in numerous publications including Sol, Spirits, Palo Verde Pages, Vox Poetica, Clutching at Straws, The Word Place, Legendary, Sex and Murder Magazine, The New Flesh Magazine, The Santa Fe Literary Review, Daily Flashes of Erotica Quarterly, Bewildering Stories, A Word With You Press, Mirror Dance, The Aurorean, Stymie, Empirical and ConNotations.
Three of Ken’s novels, Widow’s Walk, Memoirs From the Asylum, and Tales From the Dew Drop Inne, are published by All Things That Matter Press.
Please visit Kenneth Weene's website

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Discussing Dr. Brinkley's Tower by Robert Hough

From the dust jacket...
Robert Hough's vivid, lusty, and wildly imaginative new novel takes us to 1931 Mexico and Corazon de la Fuente, a war-ravaged border twon where the only enterprise is a brothel in which every girl is named Maria. Enter Dr. John Romulus Brinkley, inventor of a miraculous "goat gland operation" said to cure male impotence. When Brinkley decides to build a gargantuan new radio tower to broadcast his services, he chooses none other than Corazon de la Fuente for its site.

The town's fortunes change over night, though not all to the good -- word of the new prosperity spreads, and Corazon is overrun with desperadoes and mercenaries itching to reopen old wounds, Worst of all, Dr. Brinkley has attracted the affections of the town's most beautiful citizen, Violeta Cruz. But with the help of a motley but impassioned band of allies, including an octogenarian Casanova, a brooding Spanish nobelman, and th much-despised village witch, Violeta's spurned finace, Franciso, decides to fight back.

What attracted me to this book...

-I want to learn how to write humour.
Dr. Brinkley's Tower was a Governor General's literary awards finalist

-I enjoy reading books written by authors whose authors' voices are markedly different than my own.

-As a resident of a small community, I was intrigued by the blurb.

Favourite Quotes...

'the throaty bedspring wheeze made by bullfrogs' (p. 204)

'the sky above were losing patience with the sun and on the verge of telling it to go warm some other planet.' (p. 216)

'Yesterday I saw your face. Lifting in the smoke of my fire. That's how I knew. That's how I know.' (p. 263)

Robert Hough taught me how to use 'and' effectively
'Volita stepped out before a huge pink stucco mansion with turrets and fountains and rose gardens and tennis courts and marble Roman columns and a swimming pool the size of a Corazon de la Fuente city block' (p. 24 - 25)

Reading experience...

As a fan of old-time music, I chuckled at the conclusion of Chapter 18.

I, as a reader, felt removed from the story by the storyteller voice and the use of some Mexican words.

I enjoyed how the reader is led mouthful by mouthful to the conclusion of page 299. Excellent use of suspense.

Dr. Brinkley's Tower reminded me of Animal Farm.

At what price progress...
How easily the weak can be victimized by the powerful...
You don't know what you've got until it's gone...

Suggested addition...
As someone who has little knowledge of the Mexican language, I would have benefitted greatly from the inclusion of a Mexican to English language.

There are a list of thought-provoking questions at the end of the book.
Author Robert Hough's interview
Work in progress
This week I abandoned Is the Reverend Dead? and turned my attention to Teen Mom
Current Word Count:  6,740 words
Proudly remembering Stompin' Tom Connors by listening to one of my favourite songs The Consumer
Barbara Williams from Find a Babysitter shared this link to the article 30 Blogs with Fabulous Ideas for Throwing a Tween Garden Party. Thank you, Barbara.

Next post:  Author Kenneth Weene writes...

Friday, March 1, 2013

Author Robert N. Friedland writes...

Why I Write

It only sounds like a question.

Let’s assume for a moment that there is a choice: to write; or, not to write.

I write to express my self. 

In 1992, in the Cariboo-Chilcotin, I thought I had lost a Sabre pocketknife that I had found more than a decade before on the banks of the North Platte in Wyoming.

The sense of loss seemed overwhelming and disproportionate to all of the other loss I had experienced in life.  I sat down at the keyboard and wrote, “The Lost Knife”, my best story, in a white rush.  If I had not, what then?

About The Second Wedding of Doctor Geneva Song

Doctor Geneva Song's Chinese wedding ceremony is traditional, but she marries outside of her race and culture. This ancient ritual sets in motion a fateful journey from the light to the dark for Geneva, her Spirit Sister, and the men who love them.

A beautiful family physician, Geneva Song is pious, religious, highly educated, independent, dangerous, unforgiving, sexually expressive, adulterous, and strong-willed.

Sister Deri, Geneva's Spirit Sister, her living incarnation, starts life as a country bumpkin in the remote countryside of Northeast China, becomes a deeply committed and ordained Buddhist nun, a sexual concubine, and the most powerful woman of finance in Canada.

Along the way, the man who loved Geneva first is murdered, and her fist husband is betrayed. Discover why one critic says that Doctor Geneva Song is destined become one of fiction's legendary women.

Available from

About the Author

A two-term City Councillor in Victoria, Robert N. Friedland currently practices human rights and administrative law in Vancouver, British Columbia. He is widely published in commentator on Canadian, international and British Columbia political scene.