Monday, August 31, 2009


Please welcome my guest host Anjuelle Floyd, author of The House, due for release Fall 2009, and Keeper of Secrets, on sale now.
Anjuelle Floyd is a wife of twenty-seven years, mother of three, licensed Marriage and Family Therapist specializing in mother-daughter relations and dream work.

A graduate of Duke University, she received her MA in Counseling Psychology from The California Institute of Integral Studies, San Francisco. She has attended the Dominican Institute of Philosophy and Theology, Berkeley, California, and received her MFA in Creative Writing from Goddard College, Port Townsend, Washington. She has received certificates of participation from The Hurston-Wright Writers’ Week and The Voices of Our Nations Writing Workshops. She teaches online fiction classes at Perelandra College.

A student of Process Painting for the last decade, Anjuelle has participated in The Art of Living Black Exhibitions 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2009 held at the Richmond Art Center, Richmond, California.

Anjuelle facilitates writing groups and provides individual consultation of fiction projects. She also gives talks on The Need for Family, the Writing Process as a Path Toward Self-discovery and Healing.

--by Anjuelle Floyd

Setting out to write a story or novel is one of the most difficult tasks a person can undertake. Several things make the work hard, one of which is uncertainty.

We start out at the beginning of a story, thinking we know where we are going, holding some idea of where we'd like to travel.

Yet even with a destination in place, marked and pinned through outlining and planning, the path to the end holds many forks and turns, more so than when working with no blueprint.

If one chooses to make a plan or blueprint for one's story or novel, the possibilities of what might occur in the narrative line multiply exponentially.

Setting down ideas and thoughts allows for brainstorming. It ignites an exciting pattern of creativity both consciously and unconsciously.

Perhaps this is why many writers choose not to outline, at least in a literal sense. The fear of uncertainty guides their hand. They want to control the outcome of their story.

And yet we all have a plan or some sort when setting out to tell a story. We have a process for writing that novel that leads us either within, or outside the range of our awareness.

The question we face when writing becomes, “Does our way of writing the story, the manner in which we relay the order of events, allow for elements of craft and happenstance to blossom?”

“Or do we set out to craft a story in such a way as to control what takes place on the page?”

Life does not guarantee happy endings. And yet every story must come to a close.

The way in which we resolve the displayed dilemma(s) has as much to do with how clearly we distill the protagonist's yearning as much as cracking open the depth of transformation that she or he undergoes in an attempt to reach her or his goal.

Or do they avoid what externals urge them to acknowledge and accept within her or himself?

It is the side roads, the detours from the plot or narrative line we so eloquently devise or avoid erecting by not drafting an outline, that lead to the overall change in perception wrought by obstacles on the way to the forum.

We, the writer, travel this unwieldy road with our protagonist. The plot of their journey lies intermingled with ours as we struggle to craft, revise and edit their story.

Whether we plan, outline or simply write the story seeing where the words take us, we encounter uncertainty.

As writers we must become warriors, bodhisattvas battling to keep our hearts open long after the mind shuts down on possibilities.

We must brainstorm. And yet stay the course as we write.

How much does the excitement of discovery drive you in writing?

What most frightens you when writing?

You can follow Anjuelle's blog at

Saturday, August 29, 2009


Investigators from the "E" Division Provincial Unsolved Homicide Unit are continuing their search on the five acre property located on Pinewood Road in the District of Isle Pierre, west of Prince George. It is approximately fifteen kms east from where I live. As of this evening, August 29, 2009, no evidence of the remains of Nicole Hoar have been found, nor have any of the others missing off Highway Sixteen, the Highway of Tears.

For several years, I have struggled with including the Highway of Tears in a fictional story I've written that takes place in the Buckley-Nechako forest district. I want to honour these women, but I certainly don't want to benefit from their disappearances, or inflict more pain upon their families.

I'm re-posting a article by former American President Jimmy Carter, dated July 21, 2009, in hopes that you will take the time to read it and reflect. Maybe together we can make a change at the community level, our little village church.

Losing My Religion for Equality by Jimmy Carter Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Women and girls have been discriminated against for too long in a twisted interpretation of the word of God.

I have been a practicing Christian all my life and a deacon and Bible teacher for many years. My faith is a source of strength and comfort to me, as religious beliefs are to hundreds of millions of people around the world. So my decision to sever my ties with the Southern Baptist Convention, after six decades, was painful and difficult. It was, however, an unavoidable decision when the convention's leaders, quoting a few carefully selected Bible verses and claiming that Eve was created second to Adam and was responsible for original sin, ordained that women must be "subservient" to their husbands and prohibited from serving as deacons, pastors or chaplains in the military service.

This view that women are somehow inferior to men is not restricted to one religion or belief. Women are prevented from playing a full and equal role in many faiths. Nor, tragically, does its influence stop at the walls of the church, mosque, synagogue or temple. This discrimination, unjustifiably attributed to a Higher Authority, has provided a reason or excuse for the deprivation of women's equal rights across the world for centuries.

At its most repugnant, the belief that women must be subjugated to the wishes of men excuses slavery, violence, forced prostitution, genital mutilation and national laws that omit rape as a crime. But it also costs many millions of girls and women control over their own bodies and lives, and continues to deny them fair access to education, health, employment and influence within their own communities.

The impact of these religious beliefs touches every aspect of our lives. They help explain why in many countries boys are educated before girls; why girls are told when and whom they must marry; and why many face enormous and unacceptable risks in pregnancy and childbirth because their basic health needs are not met.

In some Islamic nations, women are restricted in their movements, punished for permitting the exposure of an arm or ankle, deprived of education, prohibited from driving a car or competing with men for a job. If a woman is raped, she is often most severely punished as the guilty party in the crime.

The same discriminatory thinking lies behind the continuing gender gap in pay and why there are still so few women in office in the West. The root of this prejudice lies deep in our histories, but its impact is felt every day. It is not women and girls alone who suffer. It damages all of us. The evidence shows that investing in women and girls delivers major benefits for society. An educated woman has healthier children. She is more likely to send them to school. She earns more and invests what she earns in her family.

It is simply self-defeating for any community to discriminate against half its population. We need to challenge these self-serving and outdated attitudes and practices - as we are seeing in Iran where women are at the forefront of the battle for democracy and freedom.

I understand, however, why many political leaders can be reluctant about stepping into this minefield. Religion, and tradition, are powerful and sensitive areas to challenge. But my fellow Elders and I, who come from many faiths and backgrounds, no longer need to worry about winning votes or avoiding controversy - and we are deeply committed to challenging injustice wherever we see it.

The Elders are an independent group of eminent global leaders,
brought together by former South African president Nelson Mandela, who offer their influence and experience to support peace building, help address major causes of human suffering and promote the shared interests of humanity. We have decided to draw particular attention to the responsibility of religious and traditional leaders in ensuring equality and human rights and have recently published a statement that declares: "The justification of discrimination against women and girls on grounds of religion or tradition, as if it were prescribed by a Higher Authority, is unacceptable."

We are calling on all leaders to challenge and change the harmful teachings and practices, no matter how ingrained, which justify discrimination against women. We ask, in particular, that leaders of all religions have the courage to acknowledge and emphasize the positive messages of dignity and equality that all the world's major faiths share.

The carefully selected verses found in the Holy Scriptures to justify the superiority of men owe more to time and place - and the determination of male leaders to hold onto their influence - than eternal truths. Similar biblical excerpts could be found to support the approval of slavery and the timid acquiescence to oppressive rulers.

I am also familiar with vivid descriptions in the same Scriptures in
which women are revered as pre-eminent leaders. During the years of the early Christian church women served as deacons, priests, bishops, apostles, teachers and prophets. It wasn't until the fourth century that dominant Christian leaders, all men, twisted and distorted Holy Scriptures to perpetuate their ascendant positions within the religious hierarchy.

The truth is that male religious leaders have had - and still have -
an option to interpret holy teachings either to exalt or subjugate women. They have, for their own selfish ends, overwhelmingly chosen the latter. Their continuing choice provides the foundation or justification for much of the pervasive persecution and abuse of
women throughout the world. This is in clear violation not just of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights but also the teachings of Jesus Christ, the Apostle Paul, Moses and the prophets, Muhammad, and founders of other great religions - all of whom have called for proper and equitable treatment of all the children of God. It is time we had the courage to challenge these views.

I'm reading an excerpt from my manuscript KISS OF THE ASSASSIN, Monday August 31st at 6 pm on 93.1 CFIS-FM

Thursday, August 27, 2009


THERE ARE three kinds of writers in the world: those who believe split infinitives are grammatically correct; those who believe they are not; and those who don't much care. Actually, there are also those who will use them only in speech and internalization. Or do I really mean, "will only use them in speech and internalization"?

To boldly go ... may be the most famous split infinitive of all times. But is it grammatically correct?

Apparently, Shakespeare used just one split infinitive: Thy pity may deserve to pitied be (Sonnet 142). But they say he used it for the purpose of rhyme.

In case you're not clear about the definition of a split infinitive, it's when an Adverb or Adverbial phrase comes between the preposition or marker TO and the limitless, endless or infinite VERB.


to go
to live
to run
to grasp
to make
to know
to understand...

Split infinitives:

to boldly go
to boldly live
to boldly run
to boldly grasp
to boldly make
to boldly know
to boldly understand ....

You get my drift.

I'm of the mind that if you truly understand something, clearly and concisely, then you should be able to break any rule you want. Especially if the jury's out on whether it's a rule or not.

To be or not to be...

To knowingly be or not to knowingly be ... doesn't have the same gusto, eh?

Joylene chose to quickly ruminate over the split infinitive.
Joylene chose to ruminate quickly over the split infinitive.
Joylene chose quickly to ruminate over the split infinitive.
Joylene chose to ruminate over the split infinitive quickly.
Joylene quickly chose to ruminate over the split infinitive.

If anyone argues with you over your grammatical use of a split infinitive, tell them Joylene said it was all right - as long as the meaning of your sentence was clear.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


Angela T. Pisaturo's novels bring to life the ordinary woman.
Her realistic depiction of the inner soul’s struggle to find its purpose has brought healing and truth to many women. The reader may identify with Amelia DeLuca; a love starved daughter who learns to forgive in The Rich American Woman, (winner of the John Gardner Award, Honorable Mention for Best Character Description of the main character). Maybe they identify with Nellie Parker; the disfigured eccentric middle-aged woman whose discovery of an ancient artifact transforms her life in Treasures in Clay Vessels, or with Veronica Wheaton, the hard nosed reporter whose hateful 'truth crusade' leads her to face the hard truth about her own life in The Cedar Chest (available 2010). No matter where the readers see themselves one thing is for sure – they will come away with a handful of hope and a cup of inspiration.
Ms. Pisaturo studied the art of novel writing at the Jerry Jenkin's Writer's Guild and graduated at the journeymen level. Ms. Pisaturo's published articles are Unconditional Love in a Pet, published by Pet Supermarkets and The Dollhouse Angel published by Faithwriters Magazine. A Gift for Abigail and True Friends Are Forever, two children's books for young girls. She currently writes an inspirational column for pet lovers entitled Paws for Thought which is featured on a regular basis in the newspaper, a local community paper for the discerning reader.
Ms. Pisaturo has coordinated a writers group known as Joyful Word. Under her direction, the group published a newsletter that was distributed to Tampa Bay area nursing homes, hospitals, churches and libraries. Angela offers free critiques and writing instruction on her website Her novels and children's books can be purchased at the above website and on

Other writing awards: writing challenge
Pockets Magazine, Put Children First, First lines Contest

Angela T. Pisaturo, Author

A novel is more than just a story set in a town with characters engaged in dialogue – it is a life portrait of the main character and the world in which they live.

If the main character and its supporting character are presented in a realistic fashion, the story will take on a dimension of its own. As we live inside the head of the main character, discovering their hopes, struggles and what motivates their actions, we find that we can identify with aspects of their lives.

In my first novel, The Rich American, Amelia DeLuca’s Italian immigrant background helped shape her view of herself and the world in which she lived. This heritage is the driving force for her decision-making processes and eventually that which motivates her to re-invent herself.

There are several ways to build characters. Sometimes the plot drives the type of characters you will create. For example, suppose your story centers on a Harvard law student – the characters surrounding the Harvard environment will be professors and students of a certain intellectual focus. They most likely will be introspective and possibly serious. To add to the plot your main character could be different from the norm, thus you have your main character’s conflict.

Character sketches are a good way to develop a main character’s persona. Below is brief snapshot of a character sketch that I created for my new novel, Treasures in Clay Vessels.

Nellie Parker – forty nine years old, an eccentric recluse who owns an antiques shop in Old Port, Maine. She has a slight build, five feet tall, wears Victorian style clothing, has long brown hair with graying tips that she wears in a long braid down to her waist. She wears lots of foundation makeup to cover her scarred face. She lives in a world of biblical artifacts magazines and antiques where she creates adventures in her imagination. Fears socializing accept what is necessary for business.

Henry J. Lewiston. Fifty-seven years old, a small rotund build with salt and pepper hair and sparkling green eyes. All the women in town love him. He is not flirty or extremely attractive, he just knows how to listen and care about people. He is a retired Biblical Archeologist and loves fishing. He seems to like Nellie to spite her deformity and demeanor.

Once you have your character sketches then you can refer to them to help your character take on flesh and bones. It will also keep you centered on their persona. A character will not usually deviate from their true self unless it adds something to the plot.

For another example, Nellie always has chamomile tea and blueberry scones for breakfast. It would be out of character for her to change to coffee and bagels unless someone insisted she try it and out of a need to be accepted she submits to it.

This switch in character can drive an interesting twist to your main plot. You can further develop the plot by having Nellie break out in hives the size of quarters after having changed her routine.


Character sketches;

1. Helps develop realistic characters
2. They keep the character true to their nature
3. They can create interesting twists in the plot and purpose
of the story.

The process of character sketching can be overwhelming for the beginner. As a suggestion to help you create larger than life characters, I suggest the following;

1. Keep a notebook of human traits that you find interesting.
2. In your notebook, jot down any style of dress, or walk
or mannerism that you’ve observed that you feel would add to a
character you’ve created for a novel.
3. Jot down things you notice about someone’s ethnic heritage that you find fascinating.
4. Keep the notebook in an accessible place so you can refer to it often.

One word of caution: Never stereotype or copy a person’s exact traits unless you have their permission to do so. When the novel is completed, give them the chance to read it before it goes to print.


Angela T. Pisaturo is an accomplished author with two novels, two children’s books and several articles to her credit. She is also a regular columnist for East Lake Blister online newspaper, a devotional column for pet lovers. She offers free in-depth critiques for writers from her website


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Its verses It's

Please join me tomorrow when award winning author Angela T. Pisaturo will be my guest host. Angela writes in the Christian Romance genre, a style that is growing in popularity in mainstream. She's the author of The Rich American Woman, Treasures in Clay Vessels and The Cedar Chest.

See you tomorrow.

eanwhile, here's some helpful hints for the easy to miss grammar error:

1. It's verses Its

You would never write:
Jim drove hi's truck to town. Obviously, the proper use is: Jim drove his truck to town.

But do you understand why?

HIS is a possessive pronoun. The truck belongs to Jim; it's his truck.

But what if we wrote: John drove
Jims truck to town?

Why is that incorrect?

the word Jim isn't a pronoun, it's a noun.

ITS is a possessive pronoun. It indicates ownership.

It's indicates a contraction where the apostrophe replaces the missing letter I

It is Jim's truck. It's Jim's truck.

The truck's Jim's.




I bet you never mistake
It's for Its again. Or vise verse.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Playhouse Extravaganza

Aren't you surprised when the unexpected or unassuming turns out to be the best fun? I attend the fund raiser for 93.1 CFIS FM community radio last night at the Prince George Playhouse and had a fabulous time. Volunteers from all over the city showed up to rally and give their support. Early in the week, Reg Feyer had asked if I would like to set up a table in the lobby and sign copies of my thriller Dead Witness.

Reg wanted permission to play a recording I'd done last winter of my first chapter. I said yes about the recording, but because the event was held at night, I did hum and haw for a few days about attending. I haven't driven on Highway 16 at night in quite a few years and didn't want to ask my husband because someone has to stay home with his 93-year-old mother, Vera. In the end though, my husband took pity upon me and all three of us went to town (68km). He and his mum went off and did their thing while I "worked", then picked me up later and we drove home during the rainstorm.

What did surprise me (immensely) was when I arrived, Reg met me in the lobby and informed me I'd be going on stage. Yes, imagine my surprise? I had a small anxiety attack while I listened to his instructions. On cue, I was to walk on stage (in the dark) and sit at a table with a laptop. As the recording of my first chapter played, I was to type away as if I were creating the words as the audience heard them.

Reg Feyer, Operations Manager
93.1 CFIS-FM

The best part of the evening was being back stage with all the performers. My mother sang with three sisters during the war and had so many wonderful stories to tell about their gigs. I was able to have a glimpse of what it was like for her.

CFIS-FM Radio, Prince George: Dave Zubeck, Gord McKenna, JD Boutilier, Corey Walker, Monroe, Ron Wiebe, Mel McConaghy, Reg Feyer, Brandan Spyker and John Bell.

Barb and me in the lobby of the Playhouse

I had a nice time, and I would like to extend my gratitude to all the volunteers for making it such a fun evening. I'll be attending next year for sure.

Oh, one other thing. To celebrate, Grandma Vera and I made a Strawberry/Banana Trifle this morning!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Prince George Playhouse

I'm signing copies of Dead Witness in the lobby of the Prince George Playhouse this evening (Saturday, August 21) after 7 o'clock. 93.1 CFIS-FM community radio is fund-raising and Reg Feyer, the Operations Manager was kind enough to ask me to attend. Stop by if you're in the neighbourhood.


Friday, August 21, 2009

Phyllis Zimbler Miller, a self-made writer

Phyllis Zimbler Miller is extremely busy these days, but in a good way. She's doing what she loves: She's promoting her novel MRS. LIEUTENANT. In the near future, look for Mrs. Lieutenant at the movie theatres. Here's Phyllis's story...

From Writing to Becoming an Internet Marketer to Promote My Novel MRS. LIEUTENANT
I’ve been a writer from an early age, banging out my stories on a manual typewriter. I majored in journalism at Michigan State University and worked as a journalist in Philadelphia before earning an M.B.A. from The Wharton School in 1980.
Then I launched on several years of trying to get the mystery novels I wrote published. I even started the Los Angeles Chapter of the national organization Sisters in Crime in the hopes that I would be able to network my novels to being published.
While my agent didn’t sell my novels, she did get me a Jewish holiday book contract with Perigee (a division of Putnam). And I co-wrote the 1992 book SEASONS FOR CELEBRATION with Rabbi Karen L. Fox.
Some time later I unsuccessfully attempted to get a traditional publisher interested in my novel MRS. LIEUTENANT.
Mind you, all this time I tried to improve my writing: I took writing classes at UCLA Extension, bought and read book after book from Writer’s Digest Books, participated in a writers’ group, etc. And I rewrote and rewrote my novel.
Then a few months before my 60th birthday I decided I couldn’t wait any longer for a publisher to say yes to me. I went the self-publishing route with Amazon’s print-on-demand unit BookSurge. And at the same time MRS. LIEUTENANT was named a semi-finalist in the 2008 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award.
Amazon gave each of us semi-finalists a page on Amazon, and that’s the moment of my epiphany. Someone had something on her page that I didn’t – a blog (in January of 2008 I didn’t even know what a blog was). I said to myself: I have to have this too! And I was off and running to learn everything I could about marketing on the Internet and then putting that learned wisdom into action.
I had already known that, no matter who published MRS. LIEUTENANT, I would have to do the marketing myself because Karen and I had to do the marketing for our Jewish holiday book. And I also knew that, like any marketing campaign, if you have tons of money, you have tons of marketing options. Only I didn’t have tons of money.
As I researched my book marketing options, I learned that I could do more on the Internet with less. And on the Internet I could reach more people than I could ever reach using traditional book marketing techniques.
The last 15 months since MRS. LIEUTENANT was published I’ve been intensely learning and sharing Internet marketing information. The Internet levels the playing field and offers so many free and low-cost opportunities to get out the word about your writing.
I started the blog, since November I have been the co-host of the BlogTalkRadio show, and I’m now a National Internet Business Examiner writing articles at
My company has just launched the monthly program to help book authors and others market on the Internet, and we also do Twitter tutorial workshops – see .
This month I’m on a virtual book tour with for my new ebook WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT THE LAUNCH OF AN ONLINE INFORMATION PRODUCT – an ebook to save others from my trials and tribulations – at
And author Carolyn Howard-Johnson and I wrote a chapter on blogging for fiction writers that is available for free at
Here now is the Internet marketing strategy I’d like to share in this guest post:
Provide book club discussion questions on your book’s website to make it easy for book clubs to say yes to your book.
In fact, I recently went further and did a video of why MRS. LIEUTENANT is excellent for book clubs – see
Becoming active on social media sites such as Twitter (follow me at has helped me get online exposure for MRS. LIEUTENANT.
And just in the last two weeks a movie producer found me online and we’ve started discussions about a possible movie project for the novel.
If you’re not online, you can’t be found. Check out the sites where you can upload your writing for free and then link to these sites from your website or blog. You never know who might be looking for just what you have to offer.

Thursday, August 20, 2009


One exercise that will help eliminate writer's block, especially when dealing with a stagnant character, is to explore and study Character Arcs. Not only does this exercise work, it's a great way to spend a few hours. To begin, list 10 movies in your genre and a brief description of the plot (another great exercise).

Here's my list in no particular order: (there's a common denominator)

1. Taken - Former government agent, Bryan Mills (Liam Nelson) hunts for his daughter after she's abducted by a slavery group in Europe.

2. Get Carter - After his brother dies in a car accident, mob enforcer, Carter (Stallone) travels to Seattle to investigate.

3. Cellular - Kidnapped victim, Jessica (Bassinger) contacts a total stranger who must then stay on his cell to help find her before she and her family are killed.

4. Proof of Life - Alice (Meg Ryan) hires a profession negotiator to obtain the release of her husband after he's kidnapped by guerrillas in South America.

5. The Gift - A small town widow (Blanchette), with psychic abilities is asked to help locate a missing debutante.

6. Heaven's Prisoner - Ex-cop Robicheaux (Alex Baldwin) obsessed with a bizarre plane crash in the everglades, jeopardizes up his quiet life and the safety of his family to solve the case.

7. Man Hunter - Emotionally scarred FBI specialist (Will Peterson) is manipulated into searching for the current serial killer of the day, a student of Hannibal Hector.

8. Thief - Nick Atwater, (Andre Braugher) is in the middle of planning a dangerous heist when his wife dies in a car accident leaving him the sole guardian of his troubled and bigoted step-daughter who hates him.

9. Don't Say a Word - Psychiatrist Nathan Conrad (Michael Douglas) must break through to a post traumatic stress disorder suffering young woman who knows a secret, if Conrad wants his abducted little girl back.

10. The Silence of the Lambs - A young FBI cadet (Jody Foster) must share her most personal fears with an incarcerated serial killer in return for his help catching another serial killer who skins his victims.

Next ...

comes the fun part. Write a few sentences to describe the character at the beginning of the movie: his attitudes, goals and beliefs; then write a few sentences to describe how he has changed by the end. Are there big changes? Describe them.

1. In the opening of Taken, Bryan Mills quits his job as a government operative to be closer to his beloved daughter. He soon realizes he can't compete with the lifestyle of his ex-wife and her new husband, and feels inferior in comparison. His birthday gift is a Karaoke machine verses their gift of a horse. Not a huge character arc by the end, he still can't compete with their lifestyle, but he has what none of them possess: the experience, expertise, training and fearlessness to do whatever it takes to protect his daughter. I think every parent hopes they will what needs to be done to protect their child. Mills proves it.

2. In the opening of Get Carter, Jack Carter intends to solve the mystery of his brother's death and help his brother's family cope in the future. He quickly learns they want nothing to do with him because he hasn't earned their respect. By the end, he earns that respect having risked his life to solve his brother's murder and protect his niece. She learns to love him because he respects the person she is.

3. In the opening of Cellular, Jessica feels safe, confident and secure in her role as wife, mother and career woman. That dissolves fast when she and her family are kidnapped and separated. Again, not a huge character arc, but Jessica ends up being the one who does what it takes to save her family, and not because she's a trained operative, but because it's left up to her.

4. At the start of Proof of Life, Alice is not happy about moving to South America so her husband can supervise the building of a dam. She is at the mercy of his career, then by the guerrillas who kidnap him, then by the negotiator hired to get her husband out. But at the end, Alice takes back control of her life, and although she's attracted to the Australian, chooses to stay with her husband, not out of guilt, but desire.

5. At the start of The Gift opens, Annie has been a widow for a year and is still unable to mourn openly for her husband. The gift of second sight, a gift passed on from her grandmother has always made Annie feel as an outsider in her own town. By the end of the film, she understands that yes, she is the heart and soul of her small town. Soon, she's publicly expresses grief over the loss of her husband, helping her oldest son realize she did love his father very much.

6. Heaven's Prisoner begins with Dave living a quiet life with his wife. As a recovering alcoholic he is still haunted by his troubled past. By the end of the film, his attitude has come full-circle. He grieves for his wife, adores his adopted daughter, and cherishes the tranquil life as it is now.

7. In the opening of Man Hunter, Will is living a tranquil life with his wife and son, but he is also haunted by his past. Like Dave Robicheaux, Will can't live in the now because of the nightmares of his encounter with Hannibal Hector. Forced to face Hector because he needs his help with a new serial killer, Dave faces his greatest fears. By the end, he too cherishes the tranquility of his life in a small fishing village in Florida.

8. Thief, opens with Nick living in a fantasy. He's a thief, the husband of a loving wife and step-father to a bigoted teenage girl. By the end, he's man enough to give up the easy life for a daughter he has learned to respect.

9. Don't Say a Word, opens with Nat living the good life with his wife and daughter. By the end, (can you detect a pattern?) Nat has been forced to face his greatest fears, and now knows what really matters in life.

10. In the opening of The Silence of the Lambs, Clarice is young, naive and ambitious. By the end, Clarice has survived so much that she is able to embrace a new sense confidence and inner peace. She's proven to herself and her superiors that she can handle anything.

The exercise should give you some inspiration into your own characters. How do you see them ending up? What big changes will occur? Answer those questions and filling in the middle of your story will be a lot easier.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Guest spot on Writers and Authors

I'm guest blogging on Jo Linsdell's Writers and Authors blog this morning, Please stop by if you have a moment and check out Jo's site. It's full of valuable information. And if you can, leave me a comment. Love hearing from you.

Sunday, August 16, 2009


Please welcome my guest blogger, Gary Presley, author of SEVEN WHEELCHAIRS: A LIFE BEYOND POLIO. You can learn more about Gary at his website, The Washington Post, and The New York Times Review

Creative Nonfiction
I began to publish about fifteen years ago writing nonfiction articles --mostly history, but a little humor. And then I discovered creative nonfiction, both in the essay form (Richard Selzer is the master as far as I'm concerned) and in longer works (Into Thin Air, The Perfect Storm), and I found my true passion. Since then, I have published numerous creative nonfiction essays, and one memoir, woven through with elements of the genre.
I've often thought about why creative nonfiction appeals to me. I think I have moved away from craving information – I get that from newspapers and biographies and history books -- to stimulate my mind by turning over facts to examine them and thereby reveal the story that tells a greater truth. And so it may be for you.
In fact, I believe we all crave Story, seeking to fill the same emotional hole in our spirits that might have been expressed around campfires thousands of years ago, a time when we had nothing but a flint-pointed stick to protect ourselves from the bloody beasts of the forest intent on blood and slaughter.
Of course, creative nonfiction is more than story, especially when it is expressed by a powerful and observant intellect. That's where "writer visibility" is revealed--when the author becomes part of the story, either as observer or participant.
Other elements making up the genre?
· Scene
· Drama
· Back story
· Character
· Dialog
· Sensory revelations and amplification
· Introspection and references
· Lyrical language
I believe that memoir can provide some of the best creative nonfiction. Others disagree, noting that memoir should be regarded as a separate genre. I do suggest, however, that the writing encompassed in Richard Selzer's work, for example, illustrates how the two become one. I recommend his work highly. Start with Letters to a Young Doctor or Confessions of a Knife.
Where else to begin? Perhaps with some of the seminal works of "narrative journalism" or "new journalism," which provided the best description of the genre before the label "creative nonfiction" was applied around three decades ago. You can find two of them, both by Gay Talese, readily on the web: "Frank Sinatra Has a Cold" and "Silent Season of a Hero."
Then there are the book-length works that are the foundation of the genre. In Cold Blood is one, but I suggest seeking out some of the criticism of Capote's true crime story after you read it. Tom Wolfe's The Right Stuff is an excellent choice among earlier works, as are Edward Abbey and Barry Lopez among others.
It's an exciting and stimulating genre, both for reading and writing. Don't be fooled, though. It is not an unwelcome blend of fiction and nonfiction. Creative nonfiction pieces, essays or book-length works, are factually accurate narratives told using the tools of fiction to better reveal truth. And Story.
Photo Credit: By Kathleen Purcell Photo
Gary Presley is the author of Seven Wheelchairs: A Life beyond Polio, a 2008 publication of The University of Iowa Press. His essays have appeared in, the Washington Post, and Notre Dame Magazine.

Friday, August 14, 2009


by Keith Pyeatt
One of the first axioms writers encounter when they let other writers read their work is "show don't tell." There are writing books dedicated to show don't tell. But sometimes learning can be fun. Here, let me SHOW you.
Here's my fun and light example of how writing can come alive when a writer moves in behind his characters to share their emotions instead of explaining what they feel.
Part 1 -- The telling of "Torn"
He was torn. Part of him wanted to continue on to the Land of Riches, but another part longed to stay in the safe haven of familiarity. Dangers lurked everywhere. Leaving his adventurous side behind, he returned home, safe but doomed to a life where he'd never realize the dreams that once drove him. He was but half of who he used to be--the meek half.
Part 2 -- The showing of "Torn"
The earthworm crawled over sand toward the coffee grounds the human had dumped into the garden. The smell intoxicated, and the morning breeze carried warmth from the steaming grounds that tickled across the earthworm's four-inch back.
"A little further," the head segment said. "We'd be there already if I didn't have to drag you." His words scolded, but the tail kept watch on the human. She still hovered close by, sorting through her garden implements. Couldn't the head sense the danger? Before the tail could sound a warning, a spade tore through the worm's body, slicing it in half.
The head section writhed in pain a moment then continued his journey toward the fresh coffee grounds, making better time without the reluctant tail. The tail raced to the hole from which he'd emerged, but he turned back at the entrance for a final look. The human was gone, but a sparrow had landed in the garden at the edge of the coffee grounds. The worm's head section--still a foot from his goal--gasped and dug into the soil to escape, but the sparrow's beak plucked him from the ground. The head struggled and cried out before being gulped down.
The tail section sighed and entered the hole, already aware he'd never try to make it to the Land of Riches again. What need did he have for coffee grounds now? His mouth was in the section the bird swallowed.
Paranormal thrills, real emotion
Website / Blog / MySpace

Thursday, August 13, 2009

PGX Book Signing

If you're in the Prince George area today from noon to two o'clock, please stop by the Friends of the Library. I'll be signing copies of Dead Witness. Have a great day, everyone.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Keith Pyeatt Interview

Keith Pyeatt (author of STRUCK) and I first met in an online writer's group way back in 1997. (Seems like yesterday, eh, Keith?). We were starry-eyed author-wannabees in those days, helping each other fine-tune our writing skills. When it became clear that we were destined to be friends for life, we made a pact to one day celebrate our success with dinner at a fancy restaurant in Montreal (sort of the halfway point; Keith's in NM and I'm in BC). We've yet to have dinner, but we are celebrating our success. This week, please welcome Keith to my blog. Below is a fascinating insight into his life as writer. Then, in a few days, he'll guest blog on a subject dear to his heart: Writing.

Please do leave him a comment, or a question. Meanwhile, buy a copy of his book,
STRUCK. It'll scare the beejeebees out of you.

1. Keith, what inspired you to first write? And how old were you?
I wrote many technical documents over the years, but I was 39 when I wrote my first fiction. I was a manager at an electric utility in Vermont, and my assistant challenged me to write a short story where the good guys win. She kept at me for a year to write it, and when I started, I couldn't stop. My short story came out as a tongue-in-cheek horror novel, and I was hooked on writing.

2. After years of rejections, did you ever consider quitting? And if so, how did you bounce back from any bouts of writer's block?
I've never considered quitting. I considered that my novels might not be published, but I kept writing them anyway. Any writer's block for me comes when major activities interfere with my writing time. When the other activities end, so does my writer's block.

3. I know your stories are character-driven, but where did the theme for STRUCK come from?
Interesting angle to that question. I've addressed what inspired the setting, the multi-cultural and multi-lifestyle aspect, and the inclusion of the Pueblo Indian's ancestors before, but this is a little different.

I developed the story after becoming fascinated with the Ancestral Puebloan (often referred to as Anasazi) ruins in Chaco Canyon. Balance and natural order were important, and I devised my novel's crisis by creating an imbalance. I separated two opposing powers, putting the power of control in one man's hands and the power of acceptance in my hero's hands. At first glance, control seems like a much stronger power, and I played with showing how powerful acceptance is. That comparison between control and acceptance became a theme I carried through STRUCK.

4. What was your greatest obstacle in finding a publisher for STRUCK?
Trying to go the agent route to end up with a big publisher was my biggest obstacle. To most people who've commented, STRUCK defies genre, and I agree. That illusiveness has made for positive reviews, but even agents who praised it claimed not to know how to market it. A few suggested approaching small presses. Once I got serious about small presses, it sold quickly, and I'm pleased with how things have worked out so far.

5. Keith, getting one of your books into print was a long-time coming, how did you maintain your faith during those "waiting" years?
As I grew as a writer, I went back to prior novels and made them better by applying sharpened skills to old material. Every time, I was glad I improved them before they were published. That experience helped with the wait. At some point, however, the wait needs to end.

6. What's your daily writing regime? Or does it vary?
I tend to start early and work hard for long stretches at a time. I like working every day, even if it's just a few hours instead of many, to keep my mind in the novel. Unless really inspired, I don't write after 4 PM or so, but I'm often at it by 5 AM. I like having a clear schedule. Even a lunch appointment interferes with my flow somehow. I want to write until I stop, so my lunches come at odd times.

7. Are you discouraged or encouraged by the publishing industry today?
It is what it is, whatever that is. The publishing industry changes quickly and often these days. I'm never sure if the changes are good for authors, but I'm not out to redefine or challenge the industry. I want to spend my energy writing or marketing, so I'll deal with what the industry is and what it's becoming. I try not to be discouraged, instead focusing on keeping up.

8. Do you believe that today's unpublished writers need a "gimmick" or "hook" before they stand any chance of finding a publisher?
In a word, no. Gimmick's, hooks, "platforms," and timing can translate to sales, so they attract publishers. They don't hurt. If I had a platform, I'd announce it to show I'm marketable, just like I'd use applicable experience in a resume to show I could do a job. But I think good writing will be recognized if a writer is persistent, gimmick or not.

9. Keith, did you consider self-publishing?
I did. Once I decided to stop spending my energy trying to get an agent, I focused on self-publishing and small publishers. Both have advantages and disadvantages. I like having someone else handle much of the production issues and some of the marketing, and since I had the option, I went with small publishers.

10. Your stories carry an underlying message that people can overcome the most horrendous challenges. I wonder if you write with that theme in mind, or is it subconscious?
I like big stakes and relatable characters in my paranormal thrillers. I also like making the characters find within themselves the means and the passion to overcome the things they must. We've all had to do that, hopefully not while carrying the weight of the world's future, but still... Humankind's finer moments are often when we find it in ourselves to rise above obstacles.

11. What is the most difficult part of writing a novel? Beginning, middle or end? And why?
Beginning. So many options, so much blank space to fill.

12. I receive lots of emails from struggling writers who are full of self-doubt over their writing skills. Looking back over your career, how and when did you overcome those same fears?
There's a lot to learn about writing, far too much to learn at once. It's a long haul because much of what we learn comes from experience. I needed self-doubt at first, because I needed to learn to write better in about a thousand different ways. I kept learning and writing. Self-doubt kept up with me during the first long legs of my journey to become a better writer. I couldn't out-run it, but eventually it fell back, and I kept going. I have more endurance than self-doubt. It still catches up and taunts me from time to time, but the more experience I gain, the less often I see its nasty little head and hear its grating voice. Good incentive to keep moving, isn't it?

13. Can you tell me a little about your next book? What's the title, the theme, and your release date?
DARK KNOWLEDGE comes out in mid-October through Lyrical Press. It's a bit darker than STRUCK, with a stronger paranormal element, but it's really sweet in its own way, and I've always loved this novel. My tagline is: When good and evil intertwine, taking one means accepting the other.

Thanks, Keith. And best of luck with DARK KNOWLEDGE and STRUCK.

Paranormal thrills, real emotion
Website / Blog / MySpace

Friday, August 7, 2009

Keith Pyeatt - Struck

My friend Keith Pyeatt will be guest blogging here next week, so in anticipation, I thought now would be a good time to introduce him and his book.

Keith and I met online in 1997. He's the reason my suspense novel DEAD WITNESS has been so widely accepted; Keith spent hours critiquing and proofreading my manuscript before it went to press. He caught all those critical errors that would have doomed it otherwise. He'd hate me saying this, but he's one of the sweetest, most generous guys I know, and his contribution to my work cannot be measured. Thank you, good buddy. You deserve great success.

Keith is one of those rare writers who can spin a tale so moving and frightening that you're left wondering if you just read a story about real people in real situations. I'm awed every time I read one of his new manuscripts. In fact, I'm so impressed that I've been striving for the last 12 years to write at the level that Keith does.

Please give a warm welcome to an extraordinary writer...

Keith Pyeatt is a mechanical engineer turned novelist and freelance editor. He was born, raised, and educated in Texas and since has lived in Massachusetts, Vermont, and now New Mexico. Though a fan of many types of novels, he was always especially drawn to paranormal novels and psychological thrillers, so when he began writing in 1996, he combined elements from those genres into his work.

Keith's novels have won awards in major, national writing contests. He is an officer of SouthWest Writers, one of the largest writers' organizations in the country, and he enjoys attending writing conferences and programs as a presenter or panelist. He addresses various subjects including how to participate in and benefit from a critique group, developing the concept for your novel, using paranormal elements, writing effective dialogue, working with small presses, and more. Email Keith to discuss having him participate in an upcoming conference, workshop, or program.

Completed novels include STRUCK, a paranormal thriller in paperback; DARK KNOWLEDGE, a paranormal thriller to be released as an eBook this fall; ABOVE HALDIS NOTCH, an afterlife thriller/magical realism novel; and DAEVA, a psychological, paranormal thriller. Keith refers to his novels collectively as Horror with Heart and plans to write more. In fact, that's probably what he's doing right now.

Here's what a few others thought:

"A skillful melding of Native American mythology and suspense is what you'll find once you start reading Keith Pyeatt's STRUCK. And, once you start reading, you'll also find you can't stop. Masterful storytelling from a new author you're sure to hear from again!"
--Rick R. Reed, author of IM and Deadly Vision:

"Keith Pyeatt is a combination of Tony Hillerman, Anne Rice, and Stephen King who intertwines the legends and mysticism of the Southwest with a jolt of energy and thrills. From the first page, [he] keeps a low rumble of danger on the horizon, but the approaching storm still catches you by surprise."
--Greg Lilly, author of Devil's Bridge and Fingering the Family Jewels

STRUCK Read an excerpt.


When lightning strikes Barry Andrews as he hikes among petroglyphs in Albuquerque, it's more than an accident of nature. It's a calling. The surge of energy awakens abilities he's carried since birth. Earth's fate is now tied to Barry's, and Barry's destiny is linked to the past.

A thousand years ago, the ancestors of the Pueblo Indians built an advanced civilization in Chaco Canyon. Seeking to tame their harsh environment, they used the precise alignment of their pueblos to tap into powers they ultimately couldn't control, and their meddling almost ended life on Earth. The Anasazi abandoned Chaco Canyon to prevent future generations from repeating their mistake.

But the pueblo ruins still hold power, and the desire to control it remains strong. One man, driven by greed, ignores Anasazi warnings and exploits the ancient secrets of Chaco. Now Barry must join forces with a Native American elder, accept his role as warrior, and save the earth.