Friday, July 21, 2017


Channeling our alter egos:

From the desk of ~




Tattle and Wrye leap into SWEET AURALIE by Ute Carbone. This Historical Romance is a full length novel of the Sweet Lenora series.

Anton Boudreaux, a young courageous sea captain, and his spirited wife, Lenora, set sail from San Francisco to Shanghai, hoping to find a lost child. Though Anton is reluctant to take Lenora on such a long, perilous journey, Lenora will not be denied. Just as he begins to accept the situation, she confides something that puts her in even more jeopardy. It doesn’t help that Lily Harmon, the villainous harlot who had nearly sent Lenora to the gallows in the previous book, appears as a stowaway.

Lily does her best to upset Anton and Lenora’s marriage, as well as cause endless turmoil. Meanwhile, Lenora must contend with her conniving relatives who try to thwart them at every twist and turn. The entire trip is saturated with intrigue, treachery and peril. It is followed by Lenora tending a wounded Anton, caring for her children while taking on unexpected male-oriented responsibilities. 

Throughout this historical saga, Anton and Lenora must survive murder plots and thievery. Will their love survive?  Will Anton achieve his dreams of proving himself? Will a new ship, built for speed and breaking records, be their salvation or their curse?

“In the tradition of epic historical sagas, SWEET AURALIE stands out as one to be remembered,” Tattle gives it a thumbs up and attempts a high five with Wyre. They both miss. Settling herself into the Captain’s chair, she continues, “It has a steady tempo that keeps the pages turning and a succulent plot that often provides an unpredicted twist as well as an abundance of historical details that appear naturally without weighing down the storyline. Each character is well-drawn, and although Lenora has the grit and boldness of contemporary women, she adheres to the values and graciousness of the book’s era. You find yourself fascinated by the secondary characters as well.  Mrs. Jiao, the ship’s cook, warms the background and adds authentic flavor while Lily is a conniver you adore hating. Though this can well be a standalone book, since enough background is provided even if you never read the series’ novellas, give yourself a treat and read them all. They are well-worth it.”

Wrye, still puffing from his high-five exertion, says, “Ute Carbone is indeed a gifted storyteller. I loved the rich historical fabric of the story, the Asian accents as well as the detailed nautical elements. Mostly, even though this book starts out with the main characters already married, I was fascinated by the pull and tug of the love story as they struggle against treachery and life’s unexpected hazards.  The realism is fresh and rare among romances in that it engages the romance after the characters have fallen in love. The relationship evolves as they play off each other, compromise, sacrifice, and bond. This isn’t just a story with an intriguing and splendid storyline but an emotional portrayal of a couple’s journey. This book satisfies on every level and is destined to be read again and again!” Wrye thinks, there goes my macho image….


Angelica Hart and Zi ~ Vixen Bright and Zachary Zane - -

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Point of View and Painted Corners

Back in 2012 I wrote an essay on POV. I thought I’d revisit the topic and see if my thoughts on the topic have changed.

When sitting down to write your brilliant novel or novella, give some serious consideration to the point of view (POV) you are going to use. As writers we are familiar with the options such as the first person, where one character narrates the action, or the third person, where the author sits back and tells all from an omnipotent point of view. There are also more unusual styles such as in the form of letters, journals, or a diary. Each method has its pluses and minuses, especially as to how deep you wish to get inside the heads of your characters, or how wide-ranging you want to describe an event in the story, especially one where your protagonist may not always be in attendance.

You also want to remember that old chestnut, show, don’t tell. Does the format you’ve chosen best lend itself to that for your particular story?

Many books on writing will tell you to limit the number of character=s heads you get inside of to tell your story. More than one or two and you risk confusing both the reader and the writer. In one of my very earliest efforts I think got into the head of at least a dozen characters. I was told in no uncertain terms by my editor to cut that out and not to do it again.

The advantage the personal POV is being able to both look at what the characters say, and what they are thinking at the same time, and gives the author the ability to have some fun and create often unreliable characters, while warning the reader of that fact.

I have written a series of fantasy novellas, the Housetrap Chronicles. They are all narrated through the eyes and POV of the main protagonist, a private detective. For this type of tale, where the action swirls around the hero, we want the reader to come across the discoveries at the same time as he does. The format works well in this case.

When I found myself working on my first trilogy, the sequel(s) for The Dark Lady, my first published novel, I discovered the problem often found in using a single POV. The original book was written from the POV of the protagonist. I found ways to keep her the center of the action in the original novel. As I got further into turning out the sequels, I found I had distant events I wanted to drag the reader into, but couldn’t, because that would break the format I followed to that point. Certainly, there were ways around the dilemma, such as having written reports to read, or characters who come dashing in and spin the heroine a tale. But when using those writer=s tricks you must beware of the deadly information dump that can overwhelm the reader. I prefer to trickle out the information gradually over time, rather than flood the reader all at once.

In a trilogy, about the North Americans discovering Europe first, I decided I would tell this complicated tale through the eyes of three different characters. That way I could legitimately have three different points of view. To keep POVs simple for the reader, I decided to alternate the viewpoints in turn, dividing each chapter into three storylines. One benefit is that I could look at the same event through different eyes if two or more of my narrators were present. It also allowed me to expand the scope of what the characters could bring as personal experiences. You could use the same format and grant each of your characters a separate chapter.

Don=t paint yourself into a corner when you are laying down the outline of your next great novel. Give some thought as to what format would be best to tell this story, and if you are diving into POVs, decide who is the best character to tell it. I personally like digging around inside the heads of some of my characters. Too much excavating however, can delay getting on with the action, but then, so can too many mixed-up metaphors.


The Dark Lady Trilogy (Volume 1,2,3)
The Queen’s Pawn (Volume 1,2,3)
The Housetrap Chronicles (Volumes 1 to 8)
Alex in Wanderland,
Knight’s Bridge
We’re Not in Kansas
Toltec Dawn Trilogy (Volume 1, 2, 3)

Sunday, July 9, 2017


Early July marks celebrations of the founding of two North American nations, Canada and the United States. In the U.S. we call July 4th "Independence Day." This year, I experimented with independence from the news cycle for twenty-four hours.

Read the explanation here.

In reflection a few days later, I can safely say that day without news was refreshing. I came back to the big picture with a sense of perspective.

And, I spent some of those hours writing. I recommend an unplugged day now and then to all creative workers.

Elizabeth Fountain is the author of An Alien's Guide to World Domination and You, Jane; she blogs here, where you can follow her blog serial (aka soap opera) focused on a cast of characters finding mid-life love and purpose in a small town near you.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

About NOT Writing

     Writing Blogs are supposed to be about writing. This month mine is about NOT writing. For the past month Spouse Person and I traveled up the east coast and throughout New England, staying at hotels, and more importantly, with friends and family.
     The intention was to continue to write on works in progress, but it turned out my word processor doesn’t like our traveling laptop, so I took it as a sign that I ought to take a complete break from my seven days a week writing schedule and really have a vacation.
Some people take photo after photo after photo on their journeys. I always think I’m going to, but I get lost in the moments and forget. SP took several and I’ll see if I can add a few here to demonstrate why I am in awe of this country.
     First family stop was in Warwick, New York. To get there, we asked our GPS lady we call Mabel, to avoid highways. We drove through Pennsylvania and New Jersey on scenic backroads, past farms, through small colorful villages, and on winding country roads right up to their front door without ever seeing an eighteen-wheeler or paying a toll. We did see fields of corn, cows, barns, hundred year old farmhouses, some in disrepair, some standing proudly with fresh coats of paint. American flags abounded in these small towns.
     Then we spent four idyllic days on a farm outside of Cooperstown, New York, where the weather cooperated with clear sunny skies and mild temperatures. We had to pull ourselves away
Schenectady, New York. Stayed with friends of forty years and met with other writers at an old fashioned diner. Kind of reminds me of “Same Time Next Year.” We’ve been doing this for several years, catching up on our writing activities. Recently, Keith Willis, a new member of the Champagne Books Group, joined us and participated for the second year. At this good old fashioned diner, we spoke of books, travel, mutual acquaintances. As we passed tables, couples discussed domestic issues, kids, broken lawnmowers, and new cars. No one carried on about the political scene. How refreshing.
     The flowers bloomed in our hosts’ garden, hummingbirds hummed, and chipmunks sat at the door waiting to be let in.
     The city of Schenectady itself has changed over the years. No longer the mainstay of General Electric, it has had to redefine itself. With Proctor’s theater, it brings in major entertainment, so now, instead of empty storefronts, upscale bistros and shops line State Street. A massive casino and new hotels are replacing old iron works that had remained idle for years. While I find it tragic that an industry that caters to addiction is the cause for the revival of a city, I also applaud the concept of changing directions when necessary.
     Continuing north and east, we stopped to stay with more family in Niantic, Connecticut. Because it rained, we did not get out much, but we did attend our grandson’s high school graduation. The beaming faces of over 200 students, so many of them receiving scholarships and heading off to college, restored my faith in the youth of today. Happy, wholesome families joined together to celebrate decries the tragedy of the nightly news about the state of our youth.
     Once again we packed our bags and told Mable to guide us to Palermo, Maine, avoiding highways. A trip of four hours on the interstates took us over eight on the backroads, and we enjoyed every minute of it, from seeing a two hundred year old abandoned inn, to the Old Shaker Village, crossing a river in Manchester to see waterfront properties that were once mills, now housing upscale apartments.
     We asked Mabel to show us eateries and wound up at a hole-in-the-wall diner that seated, one a good day, maybe twenty. An air conditioner over the front door dripped water onto the sidewalk. The interior appeared to have not changed since it opened, most likely more than fifty years ago. It also looked like nothing more than the table tops had been cleaned. We were hungry, so we stayed. I asked for the rest room and our tattooed waitress led me to the back of the building through an old kitchen, to a door.
     “The light switch is a push button,” she said and then left. I stood in the dark groping for a push button, not knowing exactly what to expect. It turned out to be exactly that, an old fashioned push button light switch. Two buttons. One for on and one for off. When I returned, a man sitting at one of the tables working out figures on a small notepad said, “If you found that interesting, your husband might like to see the old gas pipes and fed the gaslights in the building.” I sat down and told SP, who also wanted to head for the restroom. The man sat and waiting until he returned to take him back and explain the age of the building and point out the original tin walls. Meanwhile, he proudly explained to me that the diner remained the same as when Aunt May opened it. “Aunt May was _____ the mechanic-next-door’s aunt and wanted something to do.”
    Two women sat near the front of the diner reading a newspaper and periodically calling out the size and rent of a variety of houses to the couple who ran the diner. A large black man, dressed formally in black, with a vest and tie, wearing a black beret, sat alone eating a late breakfast and reading the newspaper.
     Our grilled ham and cheese sandwiches arrived with potato chips on the side. We ate it all and left that old part of America behind.
     Mabel led us to the Glass Horse Farm in Maine on a hillside, with friendly chickens and turkeys welcoming us, along with two dogs and of course, our family, Don and Pam. We ate lobster at a lobster pound where one perceptive lobster bonded with SP as he tried to take a photo of it. Every time SP moved, the lobster followed him across the tank. Was he saying, “Get me out of here!”? Or was he simply following the shiny lens? We spent nearly two hours watching a contraption with slings move a 130 ton yacht – two feet!
     One more stop back in Connecticut and then we were headed home. To our amazement, the interstate highways were not the nightmares we were used to. By traveling on Saturday and Sunday, we managed to avoid the horrendous truck traffic down US 81 and I-95. We’ve been saddened to see our “secret” little connector road between 81 and 95 has become a major thoroughfare. When we first began our journeys, it was a lush country road with only a few cars.

So, we’re home again and back to writing. I haven’t written about the trip, about the characters we saw, or the places we visited, but they are like a photo album in my mind. One day I’ll “develop” them.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Inspiration Is Where You Find It...

For some strange reason, I often seem to find my best story lines or scenes while cutting the lawn. I guess it's the mindless repetitive action that frees the brain to work on higher things.

The last time I mowed, I was introduced to a pirate.

I knew that in my third book in the Knights of Kilbourne series, tentatively titled Enchanted Knight, I wanted one of the adversaries for Morgan and Marissa to be a band of pirates. Just because pirates. It's rather like the old Jim Henson theory on the Muppets--when you're not sure what else to do, toss penguins in the air. In my case, I ring in pirates.

But I really didn't know anything about these pirates, or how they were going to work into the story.

And suddenly, that evening as I mowed, I met Tobias Albert Fanshawe, gentleman pirate. Late of His Majesty's Navy, Toby was cashiered (he hasn't revealed why yet, but I'm sure he'll tell me eventually). And once I had his name, I found I knew a lot about him. Such as the fact that his ship, The Mad Maudie, is shipshape in that it's shaped like a ship, but that's about it. And the fact that while he's down with looting and pillaging, any of his crew caught mistreating female captives is subject to some pretty dire consequences (keelhauling and walking the plank over shark-infested waters are the mild versions...)

I also learned that, though his crew consider him "mad as a pack of weasels at the bottom of the rum barrel," they'll follow his lead, because he's also extremely lucky. Or, as his first mate, Mr. Sharkey, puts it, "I've seen you dice with the Devil himself, and come home in the morning with his trousers."

And finally, I learned that Toby wants... well, I know what he wants, but I can't let that cat out of the bag quite yet. Gotta save something for the book, eh?

So if you're stuck for inspiration, I suggest you get out there and cut the lawn. Or, better yet, you can come cut mine. Cause I really want to get busy writing this scene with the pirates...

Tuesday, June 27, 2017


Good Morning All!

 January Bain here checking in for my monthly day to have my say! <grin> Rhyming intentional.

I am so pleased and proud to share with all of you a new novel that is on the cusp of being available to read. I spent months writing in a new genre that gave me such satisfaction to write that I intend to write seven more in the series in the near future. :-)
I'm going to include an excerpt today to share with you a bit of Casey and Truman's journey. Hope you enjoy it!

“Yet it isn’t the gold that I’m wanting
So much as just finding the gold.”
Robert Service

Casey glared at the stuffed moose head and it stared right back at her, its one broken antler leering.
“What are you looking at? You think this is easy? Who piles this many friggin’ rocks over their treasure, anyway? Yeah, yeah, I know—someone trying to hide it.”

She took a deep breath, adjusted her white and blue striped canvas work gloves and inserted the heavy red-tipped crowbar under the final stone slab. Air hissed out of her mouth and nose as she exerted her back and thigh muscles to the task, straining to pry it loose.


She sniffed loudly, her nose dripping. The damn soot-covered rocks had been in use as a fire pit. Give it to Hefty, though—clever ruse.

Ignoring the black soot, she leaned against the huge pile of stones and wiped her nose on her hoodie sleeve before shining her flashlight onto Hefty McGee’s journal. She thumbed through the tattered pages, still confident that the university wouldn’t miss the dusty old thing for one weekend.

“Hmm, says here Hefty won a moose head from a saloon keeper in a card game right here in Dawson City. Furthermore, that you lost that antler in the ensuring fistfight when it turned out that the gambler was a poor loser. Know anything about that?”

She tucked the journal back into her hoodie then reinserted the crowbar.

“Okay, here goes!” She attacked the slab with all her might. A loud squeal of protest as rock ground against rock. Ah, it moved. Just another few inches. Grunting, she pushed harder until the heavy cover slid off enough that she could shine her flashlight inside the hole pickaxed into the cave floor.

The sight of a large rotted pile of leather securely wrapped and tied with a cord quickened her breath. On top, weighing the package down, was a small smooth rock, and underneath it a torn piece of brown butcher paper. She pulled it out and shone the light on it.

She read the faded handwritten words aloud, figuring the moose had a right to know, as well. “‘Abandon hope all ye who steals Soapy’s Gold. It be cursed. Gave me the pox. Hefty McGee.’” Casey chuckled, despite the discomfort of the past few hours of digging in the tight, damp quarters, and gave the moose head a glance.

“Just proves, old man, I’m in the right place!”

She thrust her arm inside the large hole in the cave floor and tugged on the heavy parcel. Damn, not enough room to lift it out. The blasted stone needed to be moved farther over. She glanced back at the doorway of the cave. Only a short while and the spring waters of the rising Yukon River would flood the low-lying cave.

“Be nice if you could lend a hand, buster.” She directed her comments at the moose head. It was beginning to creep her out, staring down at her with glassy, lifeless eyes. Okay, so perhaps coming alone had not been so smart, but she needed to know if all her research was going to pay off. And, just maybe, it was about to. Big-time.

The pry bar slipped as the rock jerked under the extreme pressure. It swung in an upward arc toward the moose head, pitching her forward as it did so. It also hit the beast a solid blow on its huge bulbous nose, knocking it loose from its perch on the rock wall and right down onto her head.

The last thought as pain drilled into her brain was that the old miner who had gone to the trouble to hide his stolen gold in the wilds of Northern Canada might have gotten it right. The curse was effective—if one was a klutz.

Casey woke with a start, shivering uncontrollably. Her head pounded from a possible concussion and her clothes were soaking wet. She blinked hard, gingerly touching the top of her skull, and felt a lump as large as a goose egg under her platinum braid of hair. Damn. If she had a mirror she could tell her if her eyes were dilated. But at least there was no blood. She rummaged in her pocket for her cell phone and checked the time. Double damn. She’d been out for more than an hour!

As her vision cleared, she focused on the cave’s entrance. Waves slapping around the opening made her heart race. Swallowing hard against the shock and the pain, she struggled to pull herself to a sitting position. Her brain swam with the effort and she punched the downed moose right in its over-sized moth-eaten nose.

“It’s all your fault! If you weren’t already dead…” Casey threatened. She managed to get to her feet by holding on to the clammy moss-covered stone wall. Trickles of moisture created darkened trails down the ancient walls, dampening her palms.

A flash of something sliding by the doorway drew her attention. Her boat! Left tied to a tree on shore, with the rising waters it’d somehow managed to work itself free. Headache forgotten, she splashed through the frigid water, lunging to snatch hold of it before it drifted away in the current. Swaying dizzily, she managed to tug it inside the cave’s broad mouth. Thank goodness the cave floor sloped down toward the river, otherwise her transport might have floated away while she was knocked out.

She held hard to the canoe’s frayed rope, maneuvering the sixteen-foot boat closer to the treasure. Once she tied it securely to an outcropping of rock, she hauled the offending moose head off to the side, grateful the one good antler hadn’t pierced her skull. She relaunched her efforts to retrieve the booty. Thank God her flashlight was still intact and working
“No fucking way I’m leaving here without my gold!” she muttered. “God damn it—move, won’t you!” she exclaimed in frustration, pushing as hard as she could manage. It was now or never. At least the weight training was paying off. She put everything behind the effort, every muscle in her body struggling and screaming at her to give it up already.

With an ominous creak like a banshee screaming in the wind, she inched the stone lid off bit by bit, the pit reluctant to give up its treasure. Finally, against the clock, Casey jolted the stone lid far enough off to allow her full access to what lay beneath. With a tug at the rotted string that bound the package, she thrust it out of the way and pushed her hand inside to pull apart the decayed leather.
She froze and took a deep breath, heart hammering. Was this the moment? Would all her intensive research now pay off? Or was it an elaborate hoax set up by an ornery old conman with a wicked sense of humor?

She touched it reverently, a laying-on-of-hands. Took a deep breath.

This was it. The moment of truth.

And yet, she hesitated, her hands trembling. So much rode on this. Finding the treasure would fund another adventure, her life’s blood. Give her the freedom she needed. Craved.

Open it already!

Okay. Stop shouting at me.

The war within quieted as she slowly peeled back the edges of the musty old covering. Was that a choir of angels singing? No, just her imagination working overtime. Whispers from the past upping the roaring clamor in her head as the color revealed itself.

Shiny yellow nuggets. Gold! Soapy’s stolen hoard!

The nuggets gleamed brightly under the flashlight’s beam. Nestled between the lumps of gold, someone had packed old leather pouches filled with gold dust. She’d found it! She swallowed hard. Glanced back at the cave’s entrance.

Crap. The water was rising. Faster.

Hurriedly, she scooped up the heavy nuggets and packets, flinging them into her backpack and glancing back at the cave’s entrance every few seconds to make sure she could still free herself. Running out of room in the pack, she pulled another black carryall from the canoe’s bottom and loaded it. At the last possible second, she threw in the moose head, knowing she was being loopy. The damn thing must weigh twenty-five pounds, broken antler or not, but he’d helped point the way.

Available for Pre-order now! From Totally Bound Publishing!

Friday, June 23, 2017

REVIEW: DIVINITY by Paula Kennedy

Channeling our alter egos:

From the desk of ~


And the two soon find themselves ogling DIVINITY by Paula Kennedy, book #2 in the Angels of the Night series, a Paranormal, YA.

Allison Webber was accepted in the secret society of Free Masons because her special powers fed male vampires, who have an alliance with the Masons. Female vampires, though, unlike their male counterparts, have a blood lust they can’t control. They are vicious killers, who show no mercy or heart.

Darcy Wallace, Allison’s hot, sexy vampire boyfriend, is in the clutches of a female vampire, who can control herself, but she is just as brutal as the other female vampires in her coven.  Along with Robert, Darcy’s triplet and a guardian, Thomas MacGregor, she sets out for NYC to find Darcy, irrespective of the cost or bending Mason rules.

Only, Darcy, doesn’t remember Allison, and she doesn’t recognize the boy she had fallen in love with. More so, his dislike of Allison turns dark when he discovers she had killed his brother, another triplet, Thane. Darcy can’t forgive her despite her valid reasons. He doesn’t realize the extent of his peril, but Ally knows she must risk all to save him.

Meanwhile, Robert seems to truly care for Allison, but there is something shadowy and hidden about him. It doesn’t help that he is ruled by Jonas, another twisted character that lurks in a sinister realm but is essential in helping the cause to keep the vampires hidden from the world.

At the same time, the female vamps are on the move and Allison, along with her father and others, must stop their killing spree. A plan, fraught with uncertainty and possibly lethal, is set in motion and she is forced to accept the help of someone she fully distrusts. Will she be betrayed again? Will Darcy ever remember their love? Will the oldest female vampire destroy them all? So many dangers, so little time.

“Wow!” declares Wrye, “I enjoyed the first book in this series, but DIVINITY takes the plot to a new level. Allison has matured and doesn’t hesitate to make the tough decisions. The story starts out like a derailed locomotive about to go over a cliff. You find yourself holding your breathe with each passing paragraph. The danger feels real, you are there, you are in the midst of it, you experience the fear and danger. This story has the intricacies and pace that would hold the readership of any age group. You won’t want to put it down, and you will continually cheer on the heroine. Though, I normally wouldn’t seek out a vampire novel, I am hooked on this series, and on Paula Kennedy’s writing style. It is crisp, clean and racy. Just like the lines of a racer, and that’s just what you find yourself doing, racing through the pages because you can’t get enough.”

Tattle adds, “Paula Kennedy has created characters that have the pulse of our young generation yet appeal to those of us way past our prime and everyone in between. I enjoyed following Allison on her adventure, and applauding the young heroine’s courage and decisiveness. Allison has grown up since book one, and though I adored her then, I respect her even more now. And there it is, she is real to me. Usually, you put a book down and remember the characters as characters, but Ally is someone you see as real. Even the vampires, male and female, have you believing they might just be lurking in the corners of your room! I’m ready to go hang some garlic! That shows the expanse of Kennedy’s talent. She manages to do the same with the world she created for this series. It is believable, not the same ole same ole but fresh and sharp.  Her style has texture without being cluttered. I am truly a fan, and can’t wait to see more!”


Angelica Hart and Zi ~ Vixen Bright and Zachary Zane - -

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Struggling With a Space Opera

I recently decided to try writing something new. I needed a change from dragons and distressed damsels, or sarcastic detectives facing thirsty vampires and wayward housewives. I’d written one near-future thriller and tossed off a What-If spec fiction; it was time to venture deep into outer space. Or maybe not.

As usual I started with a scrap of a plot and plunged right on ahead. In this case I knew what the opening chapter would look like, and the final dramatic scene. All I needed was the tender middle. I also knew there would be a brother and a sister in main roles. I assumed the lead player would be the brother; boy was I wrong!

His sister took over, and along with her three rowdy girlfriends, ran rampant through the plot.

Then my Beta reader charged in with her usual glee and scribbled comments all over the early pages. One remark that stood out was the fact that the four women were all alike. She couldn’t tell them apart.

Okay, so back to the beginning, how do you differentiate a gang of four? I tried differing fashion sense, favorite sayings or curses, hairstyles, even skin colors. I even gave them different tattoos, although these are not always noticeable.

The list of reader complaints was long; too long to mention here. Needless to say that although I have finished spinning the basic tale, I am now reworking the story to polish the obvious problems.

I usually write quickly. I’ll start the day by reading and editing what I wrote the day before, and then charge ahead full speed. In this argumentative manuscript, I keep going back, adding scenes, inserting comments, sprinkling in incidents. It doesn’t help that I’m developing a large argumentative cast with speaking parts.

And don’t get me started in the aliens! They have refused to co-operate and are acting very…alien.

This may take more time than I planned for me to sort out.

I’m beginning to suspect that I will be happy to feel a dragon’s breath on the back of my neck once more. And anyway, those damsels are usually more distressing than distressed.


The Dark Lady Trilogy (Volume 1,2,3)
The Queen’s Pawn (Volume 1,2,3)
The Housetrap Chronicles (Volumes 1 to 8)
Alex in Wanderland,
Knight’s Bridge
We’re Not in Kansas
Toltec Dawn (Book 1, 2, of 3)

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Author/Publisher Etiquette

This past year I edited several books for authors and reviewed many more for a publisher.

While I hope I helped those authors with my comments and edits, I know for a fact, I learned a great deal about writing from them.

For anyone contemplating submitting work to a publisher or agent, there are many things to consider, and this information can be found on the internet.

The subject I find rarely addressed is the etiquette of dealing with an agent, publisher, or even your initial reader.

When a book is rejected out of hand, it does no good to write a letter back and argue about how you know better than the editor, or how good your book is. The agent or publisher is the one taking a financial risk with your work. If he or she does not like it, that is the end of it. Often the acquisitions editor will include a reason for rejection. There is no point disagreeing. You submitted your work to be evaluated and if it did not meet the standard or criteria for that publisher, there is no point in begging or arguing. Why? Because such behavior immediately sends up a red flag and that publisher will hesitate to look at anything else you send in the future, despite the fact it might actually be better than your original submission. The most you should do is thank them for taking the time to read your submission, and especially for what they intended as helpful advice.

It should go without saying, if they suggest that with certain revisions, they would be happy to look at it again, then make sure you respond if the suggestions make sense to you.

Once you are accepted, you will find each publisher has their own way of working. Follow their rules. They will be the ones paying you when all is said and done. The publisher is not your private printer, there to be at your beck and call. If you are unhappy about anything along the way, by all means say so, but keep in mind, the publisher has other authors, and time is precious. 

What else did I learn? Every writer needs a critique partner or group to help ensure continuity in their story. Every writer needs a proofreader before submitting a manuscript. Whether you are writing fiction or a memoir, you must develop a hook for the reader, and settings and characters that draw the reader into your story. There should always be a conflict or obstacle for your protagonist to overcome.

And finally, synopses are not teasers for the back of your book. When an editor wants to see a synopsis, he wants to know that you have developed your story through to the end, and he wants to see the ending. Do not end your synopsis with, “And then the biggest surprise came that changed her life.”

Veronica Helen Hart is an author, editor, and acquisitions editor for a traditional small press. She also recently started her own small publishing company: Uppity Woman Press. You can find her works at

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The Amazing Plot Generator

I keep coming across this ad on my Facebook feed:

And okay, it’s only $7. It “makes it easy to create compelling stories and perfect plots.” Awesome!
But there’s a problem underlying this ad. And the problem is, if you need a plot generator, I think you’re in the wrong line of work.

I’ve said this before—I’ve got more ideas for stories than I know what to do with. While it’s true they may not all be “plotted out” from beginning to end, that’s not the way I work anyway. I take an initial idea, get that down on paper as an inciting incident or scene, and let my characters go from there.

To me, the Amazing Novel Plot Generator is that annoying guy who’s always coming over to you and saying “I’ve got this great idea for a story—I just need someone to write it down for me.” Because the great idea for a story is the bloody easy part, mate. It’s the writing it down, and making it readable, and figuring out what happens next, and editing the damned thing, and polishing it, and then cutting out all the extraneous crap, and filling in all the plot-holes, and ensuring the continuity of the story… That’s the hard part. That’s the part called WRITING.

Ok, rant completed. You may go now.

Keith W. Willis is a semi-professional word-wrangler with a fondness for flannel shirts. He thus is resigned to never appearing on a book cover. He lives in the upper Hudson Valley region of NY, where he's certain the sounds attributed to Captain Hudson's crew bowling are really just the dragons grumbling. Keith is fortunate to have a wonderful and loving wife who not only puts up with his writing but generally encourages it. When it doesn't get the way of their cut-throat Scrabble games, that is.

Keith is the author of the award-winning fantasy/romance Traitor Knight (Champagne Books). His newest work,Desperate Knight, which contains 50% more dragon, and no shirtless heroes, will be released in Summer 2017.