Friday, April 30, 2010

How blog day works and how to sign up.

Bloggers can sign up at There is a one-time $2.00 participation fee which helps support additional advertizing for Blog Jog Day.

Then follow-up with an e-mail to with your Blog address. Within a few days, you will receive a post to copy and paste as a post on your Blog. It will look similar to this:

“Thank you for stopping by my Blog! Please explore all this Blog has to offer, then jog on over to (add next Blog link here). If you would like to visit a different Blog in the jog, go to”

You will be allowed to personalize your Post to suite your own Blog and personality. However, we will be providing the required link to the next Blog.

We all have Blogs, we all have friends. The more of us that do it, the better the results for all of us! What are you waiting for…get on board now!

(Reminder information will be sent periodically so we can promote as a team to the fullest)

Sign me up!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Introducing my very own editor, Leanne Flett Kruger.

For the next several months, you'll be hearing a lot about my editor Leanne Flett Kruger. Leanne is editing my upcoming novel Broken But Not Dead, due to be released by Theytus Books in 2011. Her enthusiasm and excitement for my work has lifted me up in ways I didn't think possible. One day I was feeling a bit low and I asked God, "Could You please give me some inspiration. I could really use the motivation." And He introduced me to Leanne.

Leanne Flett Kruger is Cree Métis. After graduating from the First Nations creative writing program of the En'owkin Centre, Leanne continued her studies in publishing at Simon Fraser University and then began working with Theytus Books. Leanne’s work has been published in several anthologies, and she has received numerous awards including the Mungo Martin Memorial Award for excellence in creative writing. After being awarded a grant from the Canada Council for the Arts, Leanne began working on her first novel. Taking Care of Mother Earth is her first book with Theytus.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Interview with Nanci Arvizu

I was recently a guest on Blog Talk Radio and felt so comfortable with my host that I invited her as a guest on my blog. She said yes, and now I'm pleased to introduce Nanci Arvizu of the Page Readers show on Blog Talk Radio. Page Readers allows authors a great marketing opportunity to have their work reviewed and discussed on the show. Nanci is going to share a bit about Page Readers and more.

Q: Would you please tell us about the journey of a self described “cowgirl at heart” to having her own Blog Talk show?

A:  Wow, where to begin.  That’s not exactly a short story, but I’ll try…  I live in a rural area just outside of Scottsdale, Arizona with my husband of 15 years, our now teenage daughter and our “zoo” of animals: 3 Horses, 3 dogs, 3 cats and a bird.  After living in the concrete jungle of southern California we decided we wanted to live where we could have the horses “in the backyard”, with space to ride – without having to put the horses in a trailer to get there.

Being a cowgirl, owning horses and living out like we do was not something I’d planned for my life.  Six years ago if you’d have asked me what I wanted to do when I grew up, I would have said, “Play golf and travel”.  Today, I can’t imagine my life any other way.  To be able to saddle up and ride at any time into one of the most beautiful places on earth is more than a dream come true.  I believe its how my life was meant to be.
Part of this destiny included my dream of being a writer.  But as most authors know and experience, getting the book done and published is barely half the job, it’s really just the first step.  The second step is getting that book into the hands of people who will buy and read it.
About a year ago I met another author, Jan Sydnam, who was telling me about her struggle to find decent publicity for her work that didn’t cost a fortune. From our conversations, Page Readers was born.


Q.  What made you decide on a “Radio Show”?
I had started out thinking I wanted a Pod Cast type of show, where it could be recorded and then emailed out to people.  But in looking at Pod Casting, I found it to be a bit confusing and discovered that I would need software and even hardware to make it happen.  This might not be the case now, or even then, it’s just what I found at the time.
Then I came across Blog Talk Radio.  All I needed was a free account, access to the internet and a phone.  The show is recorded using the Blog Talk Radio switchboard and I am able to call in using my cell phone.
The show is also stored at Blog Talk Radio, so I didn’t need to invest in any kind of storage system. 
Plus, from any show page, either the main page of the show, or each authors individual show page, the interview can be played to visitors at any time, downloaded, converted into an MP3 and shared via email, blogs, twitter, Facebook and many other ways.  Easy!
Q.  How do you find guests to be on the show?
I started with Jan.  She was my “test run” and we had to do her interview two times before I felt like I had the hang of it.  Then I asked a writer whose blog I had been following, Jared Garrett, to by my guest.  At first I was having authors read a little from their work which was O.K., as long as the author felt comfortable.  I realized this wasn’t for every guest, not everyone is comfortable reading out loud.
Then I kept browsing through my connections around the internet.  The groups I’m involved in at Linked In are full of authors trying to get the word out about books they’ve written.
The best way to find other guests has been through word of mouth by previous guests.  Authors are usually a member of a writers group, critique group or they are members of a group specific to a genre.  Lori Titus, who is an author at the blog Flashes in the Dark, she writes The Merradith Ryder Series, was a guest and when she spread the word I had a flood of incredibly talented Science-Fiction writers asking to be on the show. 
As the show has grown in popularity, I’m now getting anywhere from 3-5 interview requests per week, and as a result have started doing 10 -15 shows a month.  
Q:  What qualities do you look for in the books or authors you decide to interview?
Page Readers is for authors of any genre.  The purpose is to allow the author the opportunity to discuss their work in a positive way that can be shared many times over.  Anyone who has written a novel, novella, short stories, books on business, health, relationships, writers of web series, flash fiction, etc., are all welcomed guest.  Every author deserves a moment in the spotlight!
Q:  What is the process for a new writer who wants to be reviewed and interviewed on your show?
On the Page Readers show page at Blog Talk Radio, and on the Page Readers blog, I have links to an interview request form.  Once I receive that, I reply with an information letter explaining the process in more detail. 
Q:  You are in an excellent position to view the rapidly changing publishing world from both the viewpoint of the authors and the publishers. What do you see happening in the publishing industry that might help or hinder Aspiring Writers?
I think the advent of e-books helps new authors immensely. Since it’s less expensive and there are so many new, small publishers who are willing to take on new authors and produce their work as an e-book, authors whose work might have been passed over by the larger publishers are getting the chance to have their work published.

On the downside, not all publishers get their authors’ works onto the larger e-book sites and even then, being on the larger sites doesn’t guarantee success.  Authors are usually still responsible for their own marketing.
Q:  Have you had any particularly outstanding authors you’d like to tell us about and why you liked them or their works?
I’ve had so many incredibly talented authors on the show!  I’d have to start with my first guest, the person who inspired me to start Page Readers, Jan Sydnam.  Her book “Oh, For God’s Sake” is the fictional story of her real life growing up as an abused child.  She has since gone on to be a successful ghost writer, helping others tell their own stories. 
Then there is Hank Quense, an incredibly talented science fiction writer with two books out.  The first is a collection of short stories, “Tunnel Vision”, and the second is his first full length novel, “Fools Gold”.  My favorite story in Tunnel Vision is “Sponsored By”, which is a story of war with soldiers wearing and using gear that’s covered in sponsor’s logos. They’re being filmed for reality TV, and mid way into the battle the leader figures out he’s been tricked all for the sake of ratings.  I think it would make a fantastic TV show, or even a movie.
Another wonderful guest was Jean Holloway.  The best part of her interview actually took place before and after the show was being recorded.  Jean is not only an incredible story teller she is a woman of joy and inspiration.  The two books she’s written “Black Jack” and “Ace of Hearts” were stories that, in her own words, wrote themselves.  She just let the characters tell her their tale and she put the words to paper.  
And Patricia Saxton, whose work is not your ordinary story.  As an artist she has created two books so far, “A Book of Mermaids” and the one I interviewed her about, “A Book of Fairies”.  Both are beautiful works of art. She has more books like these in the works.
Believe me; this list could go on and on and on…
Q:  Besides offering authors a chance to be heard on Page Readers, do you work with any other places or people who offer other types of services to authors?
Yes!  Author Meeting Place and Mind Fog Reviews.  At Author Meeting Place authors are given a free page where their book and bio are posted giving them more web exposure.  They can also connect with authors in their area and hold book signings or other publicity events together.  There are also monthly contests in several different categories for all authors.
Mind Fog Reviews, which is a part of Author Meeting Place, is a free review service.  After the book is reviewed the review is posted on the authors AMP page and on the Mind Fog Review blog, again giving the author and the book more web exposure.  Mind Fog Reviews also offers “Fast Track” reviews for a small fee, if an author has an urgent need for a review of their work.

The owner of Author Meeting Place, Anna Cassella-Young offers author services such as editing, formatting, bookmarking and can create book trailers all for a very reasonable fee. As an author herself, she understands the meaning of “starving artists”.    

And then there is the second part of Page Readers.  If an author sends me their book to be reviewed, I will post my review on Good Reads and Amazon (if the book is available through Amazon) and anywhere else the book is listed or sold.  I also create an article about the author and their work on Squidoo which allows me to provide links to their interview, their work, blogs and any other place where the author can be found on the web.  The more exposure for my guests and their work, the better!
Q:  Where and how can we listen to Page Readers?
All shows are available as “Listen on Demand”.  Just go to and scroll through the pages.

Q:  Have we forgotten anything or is there anything else you’d like add?

 I’d like to extend the invitation to all of your readers who have written anything from a novel to a blog to request an interview on Page Readers!  And I’d also like to invite everyone to become a fan of Page Readers on Facebook where I post all of my guests’ interviews.

I’d also like to add something many of my guests say as their “last words” on the show.  If you have a dream of becoming an author, DO IT.  Don’t quit.  Write every day, even if it’s just for a few minutes.  The habit will form and soon you will find yourself done with that book you always wanted to write.  The only person who can make your dreams come true is YOU!  

Thank you so much, Nanci, for all you do. 

Saturday, April 24, 2010


Get on the bandwagon and sign-up for Blog Jog Day on May 9th. Together, we can help each other and promote as a team!

Next month I'll be hosting an arrange of great writers. Mark your calendars for:

May 1 - JoAnn Hernandez
May 4 - Sandra Lopez
May 5 - Phyllis Z. Miller
May 9 - Blog Jog Day 
May 11 - Al Carlos, Lili
May 17 - Rene Colato Lainez
May 18 - Mayra Calvani
May 20 - Katherine Swarts
May 22 - Estevan Aarson
May 25 - Matt de la Pena
May 28 - Caridad Pineiro
May 31 - JoAnn Hernandez

Virtual Book Tour for Beyond the Gardens by Sandra Lopez:

Monday     April 26     Bonnie S. Mata  

Tuesday    April 27     Mayra Calvani

Wednesday     April 28     Christina Rodriguez

Thursday     April 29     Lori Calabrese

Friday     April 30     Mary Jo

Monday     May 3     Erin O'Riordan

 Tuesday    May 4     Joylene Nowell Butler
Wednesday     May 5     Terri Lee-Johnson   
Thursday     May 6     Romina Tybitt   
Friday     May 7     Leslie Toledo 

Monday, April 19, 2010


Never Lecture a Reader
A Half Dozen Hints for Teaching without Preaching
Everyone loves a good story--but no one likes a moral lecture disguised as a story. Here's how to make sure you create the former instead of the latter.

As plot and characters take center stage in each story, the writer’s worldview paints the backdrop. Your religious, philosophical, and ethical beliefs always seep through, whether you realize it or not.
If you don’t really care what seeps through—if you’re writing purely to entertain—you need read the following only for reference. But if you consciously want to get a point across, you may be at risk of sacrificing entertainment for preaching. Since no one enjoys being preached at, you also risk driving readers away.
You can get your point across and still be entertaining—if you:
1. Let your story stay a story. Even nonfiction—including formal sermons and lectures—works best when relevant anecdotes are included. Readers are interested, foremost, in what happens to the people in your story. The moment you pause to detail the long-term effects of Ecstasy or explain why Jennifer shouldn’t have done that, page-turning gives way to yawning.
2. When you need to describe the “hows”—as in how a machine works or what effect a drug has on a character—make the details part of the story, related to happenings that directly affect the plot. A machinist trains a newcomer how to use equipment; a pilot struggles to fly through a storm; two characters discuss their worries about a third. Stay focused on the action, and you’ll be able to slip in relevant information without sounding like an encyclopedia.
3. The “whys” almost never need be vocalized. Always let a story situation speak for itself. If your character is fired for lying on a resume, or is juggling two romantic partners neither of whom knows about the other, you don’t have to say, “Lying is a bad idea,” or “This wouldn’t have happened if he hadn’t done that.” If the story is any good, readers will get the point on their own; they won’t need your finger wagging in their faces.
4. Don’t try to disguise lectures as dialogue; you won’t fool anybody. Anything that smacks of a mother saying to her child, “Now, you see how bad it was to lie?” rates a quick delete.
Even with straight facts or background information, be careful how you go about “teaching.” Never use the “as you know” approach: “As you know, Dave, we’ve both been on this project for three months, and the company’s biggest-ever potential contract hinges on it, and a lot of people will be laid off if we don’t get that contract….” This conversation is obviously for the reader’s benefit; no one really believes that Dave’s coworker would review the known facts in such detail. Any character being brought up to date should be as green as the reader.
5. Never conclude by effectively turning to the reader and saying “the moral of this story is….” Never mind that Aesop’s fables and 1980s TV cartoons did that and got away with it. Written stories require a more subtle approach, one that assumes reader intelligence. Confine the focus of “debriefing” conclusions—characters reviewing what has happened—to tying up loose ends and speculating on the (characters’) future. And never drag out an ending; make it as brief as possible. Think about what readers want to know, not about what you want to say.
6. In fact, never address any comment or observation directly to the reader. That approach was relegated to the “condescending” pile three generations ago.
Keep characters and plot in the foreground, theme in the background. There’s one other “background” element in stories—setting.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Cover Contest

Received a very nice surprise today. The cover of my suspense thriller Dead Witness is a finalist in a contest over at Susan Whitfield's blog. I'm in great company. If you have time, stop by and vote for your favourite.

Thanks for including my cover, Susan.

Bath Day.

I'm in deep editing mode this weekend, but had to stop and share a photo my cousin sent me. Don't know where it came from or whose it belongs to -- but man, can I relate!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Hubble Ultra Deep Field 3D

Thank you for sending this to me, Vicki. It's fascinating, amazing, and mind-boggling. And in honour of the anniversary of the incredible rescue mission for Apollo 13, April 11, 1970, this seems more than appropriate to share.

Thursday, April 15, 2010


The thing that drives us and connects us to each other is the desire to do well, to succeed, to be recognized and even appreciated. That's why we work hard honing our craft. We follow the special blogs. We read the best self-help books. We listen to those who know and who promise if we buy their book, we too can sell millions of copies of our own.

Meanwhile, we're inundated with the faces of VIPs in music, film, and books. Everyday new adjectives are applied to describe just how brilliant they are. Bestseller is suddenly obsolete. Better seems to be: Greatest. Brilliant. Original. Pop Sensation. Literary Giant. Elite. Exceptional. First-Class. First-Rate. Excellent. 

There's not enough time to list all the labels you'll find attached to today's VIP. I've often wondered what it must be like for those who feel the need to come up with a new and original label for someone who in a few rapid years will be all but forgotten.

Maybe that's why trying to label the man below makes labelling so ridiculous. Time better spent just listening.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


Today's lesson, taken from Donald Maass' Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook, is about piling on disaster after disaster upon our unsuspecting protagonists. 

Have you ever woke to the feeling that things weren't right and there was an invisible black cloud hanging over your head? And by noon you're thinking, Could it get any worse?  Which means ... Yes, of course it can. 

In fiction, raising the stakes can help a manuscript escape the slush-pile. Things should and can get worse. In fact, they must. Even if you're writing a cozy Romance, or a coming-of-age, or a character-driven non-action/non-thriller, you need to continually raise the stakes so your reader keeps reading.

Mine is not to reason why readers need to read about a character experiencing one bad thing after another; we'll leave that for the psychologists. Nor do I believe it has something to do with the lack of focus or weak attention span of today's reader. I'm not convinced that's the case. Sure we have to compete with video games, stellar special effects and Ipod apps. But it's about understanding what your reader wants. Conflict. Disaster. Life.

Readers relate to this: Life is tough and sometimes bad things happen to good people over and over again.  You know the feeling. Just when things are going great....

Awhile back I did a story breakdown for Collateral, the movie starring Jamie Foxx and Tom Cruise? (Another reason to study movie breakdowns: if you understand the breakdown of a good story, you've got a better chance of developing the story pieces needed for a good plot)

Bad things keep happening to Jamie Foxx' character, taxi driver Max. He meets the girl of his dreams, drops her off at her destination, the exact spot where Vincent (Tom Cruise) hails his cab. Seventeen minutes into the movie, Max parks his cab, Vincent goes inside, and two minutes later, a dead man lands on top of Max' cab. End of Act One. Now the journey into the frightening unknown. Max knows he has a hitman in his cab. Could things get worse? Oh yes. The police stop them. With the situation critical, they're called away and Max is tied to his own steering wheel while Vincent goes off to take care of his 2nd hit. During this time Max is robbed and thugs steal Vincent's valise. Vincent returns, kills the thugs, then takes Max inside a jazz club where he appears to relax. He, Max and a musician sit together. The musician turns out to be Vincents 3rd hit and Max ends up covered in blood splatter. And that's just the beginning of Max' troubles. 

Lately some of your critique partners are hinting that your story is lagging. What do you do?

I can't recommend movie dissection enough. Stick your favourite movie into the DVD and grab a paper and pen. What's the main character's biggest obstacle? What's his problem? What makes this problem worse? Have you seen No Country For Old Men? Does there seem any end to the conflict James Brolin's character faces? Just when things are as bad as we think they can get, something even worse happens to him. 

As Donald Maass says in his workbook, "A common failure in novels is that we can see the ending coming." 

Did you see the ending to No Country For Old Men coming? I think not. And I believe if you keep asking yourself what can happen to make your protagonist fail at solving his problems, then you can turn your lagging story into a winner. Remember, things can and must always get worse.

Being an old-fool-of-a-romantic (definition: one who won't admit they're a romantic, but cries during Walt Disney movies and little kid commercials) I'm here to admit that I do love happy endings. However -- I don't need to know in advance that there will be a happy ending. What I want is for you to pile on enough disasters, conflicts and problems to keep me wondering if a happy ending is even possible.

--happy revising.

Monday, April 12, 2010


What is Blog Jog Day? It’s a one-day event (May 9th) where Bloggers are joining together for a "pyramid effect" promotional rally. We all post on the same day with each post leading the visitor to the next Blog, and so on full circle.

That’s it! Visitors explore your Blog, and then click on to the next one bringing potentially thousands of unique visitors to your site.

For more information, check out

Sunday, April 11, 2010

OWN YOUR POWER by Cheryl Richardson

I receive a regular newsletter from life coach Cheryl Richardson, author of Stand Up For Your Life and Life Makeovers. Week 13th topic was Own Your Power: Challenge your fear of success. The message moved me deeply, so I thought the next best thing was to share it with you. I hope you find it just as inspiring. I discovered Cheryl on Oprah several years ago and it's been awesome to watch her grow.

Once again the tabloid media has taken to plastering their covers with a celebrity who, at the height of her career, has been taken down by a personal tragedy in the form of betrayal by her husband.  My heart goes out to Sandra Bullock as she navigates the complicated waters of a broken marriage while having her personal life splayed out for all to see.  I can only imagine the hell she's living in. 

Each time I see a public person knocked off the proverbial pedestal either by his or her own undoing or by someone else, I see the writing on the collective subconscious wall:  "You better not get too big for your britches or we'll take you down."  While it seems some need to come down in order to stop hurting people, others become the poster child for our collective fear of success.

As I watched Sandra Bullock's public embarrassment after winning the Oscar, I thought, "Great, here's another chance to reinforce the belief that it's not safe to step into the light and own our gifts."  It makes me crazy because it doesn't serve anyone.  Each of us has a boogieman (or woman) who keeps us in line by reminding us to tone down our brightness, to take one step back and stay with the pack, or to keep our flaws handy in case we need to pull one out to prove that we're a card-carrying member of the "fit in" club.

For some, the voice of the boogieman is loud, constant, and demanding in its request to stay small enough to keep others comfortable.  For others - most people actually - the voice is subtle and sneaky, and equally pervasive and debilitating.   We end up playing by its rules to keep ourselves safe and, as a result, miss out on fully living our lives.  You get close to want you really want, for example, and sabotage your efforts because it feels too risky.  You find an excuse to avoid making the phone call that just might land you a great job.  You eat one more candy bar to stay comfortably numb so you don't have to confront the brazen friend who made fun of your latest creative idea.  Or, you tow the line with family members by putting yourself down and leveling the playing field so you don't ignite the sarcastic comments or guilt-inducing statements that warn: "Don't you dare leave the tribe by being more successful than us."

If I were a betting woman, I'd put money on the fact that Sandra Bullock probably started worrying about a bomb dropping on her life when the first award nomination was announced.  You know the drill.  Things are going a little too well and immediately you start waiting for the next shoe to drop.  You pull back, shrink inward, and maybe even start slipping up just enough to steer clear of being too successful.

Here's the thing:  Eventually the other shoe will drop.  That's the way life works here on planet earth.  In a world of duality there will always be an eventual downside to every up.  Someone you love will get sick right after you receive an offer to start a great new business.  A friend might betray you just before your wedding day.  Or, you'll be pulled from a promotion because someone more qualified showed up at the last minute.

The real issue is what you do with what happens, not the drama around the details.  After all, our safety net (and the ability to maintain our power) comes from the investment we make in our own healing journey.  How will you grow from the downside?  What character traits will you develop?  What old wounds will you finally face and heal?  The answers to these questions (and the work you do to address them) are the insurance you purchase with your hard work.  This insurance gives you the courage to express your greatness in spite of what happens or what others think.

So this week, I challenge you to do something to support humanity's goodness instead of the drama.  First, send love to Sandra Bullock and anyone else who's struggling with the pain of an unexpected blow.  I don't know about you, but when I saw The Blind Side, both Bullock, and the woman she portrayed, left me inspired to be an even better human being.  That's what full-on greatness does.

Next, challenge the legacy of smallness that hurts us all by keeping your money away from the magazine issues that profit from someone's pain.  Then, start owning your power.  Toot your own horn.  Speak confidently and skillfully about your accomplishments at your next job interview.  Set a firm boundary the next time someone tries to keep you in line with his or her own fear and insecurity.  Be brave, bold, and willing to risk getting knocked around a bit (metaphorically speaking) to stay true to your strengths and talents.  I don't know about you, but I'm willing to piss a few people off or to weather a few storms to insure that I'm honoring my soul.  I may go out with a few chipped teeth, but you can be sure I'll go out smiling .

Cheryl Richardson

Cheryl Richardson is the New York Times best-selling author of Take Time for Your Life, Life Makeovers, Stand Up for Your Life, and The Unmistakable Touch of Grace. She leads a large Web community at, which is dedicated to helping people around the world improve their quality of life.

Friday, April 9, 2010

DEAD WITNESS, an excerpt...

The ice went off the lake on Wednesday. It snowed this morning. So, either that means spring is in the air or Cluculz Lake is a weird and wonderful place.

Jo Ann Hernandez has graciously posted the first chapter of my suspense thriller Dead Witness on her blog. Hope you can stop by and check it out.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010


You've been attempting to get a handle on First, Third and Ominscent POV, and now there's yet one more to worry about, Deep POV I can relate to your frustration. But as I've said in the past, though difficult to master, Deep POV -- the technique of going deeper into your point of view character -- is guaranteed to enrich your writing.

Here's examples of each POV:

FIRST:  When John returned, he found me sitting on the white leather bench. I had my eyes half-closed, my arms crossed, and I was feeling great sadness. "Well?" I asked, but I was thinking, 'Give me a reason not to kill you.' 

THIRD: Matthew sat down on the white leather bench and lowered his eyes. Consumed by a great sadness, he crossed his arms and waited. When John returned, he asked him, "How long have you worked for me?"

OMNISCIENT: When John returned from summing a plane to pick up his boss and return him safely to the mainland, he found Matthew sitting on the white leather bench with his eyes half-closed and his arms crossed. Matthew chose not to look at him, he was that angry. "John, tell me I didn't make a mistake bringing you," he said. John couldn't think and stuttered...

DEEP POV: The bench in the stern of the boat reeked of that new leather smell that burned all the way down his throat. A glimpse east and the sun's glare shot pain through his temple. Closing his eyes helped, but the trembling wouldn't stop. His pulse pounded through his crossed arms. This was John's fault. No respect. No gratitude. Hadn't he and his daughter been taken care of all these years. Ruby held a secure job at the Baja Hotel for the rest of her life if she wanted. John threatened that. Could his stupidity be forgiven without costing the organization everything? A touch of the gun and the chill felt shocking at first, then comforting.

DEEP POV is a combination of first (intimate) and third (limited). As silly as it sounds, the only way to succeed in pulling your reader into the experience of your POV character is to become THAT character. Close your eyes, experience the totality of that character, then open your eyes and start writing. 

If that's too difficult, start off by writing a scene from FIRST POV, then switch it to THIRD POV. Drop as many verbs as possible, (saw, thought, looked, etc) eliminate the tags: said, asked (no need to show the reader what they already know). Do this for every scene, and I promise it'll start becoming as natural as riding a bike.

After a few exercises, let me know how you're doing.  
--happy writing

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Jordan McCollum's Seeing is Believing

If you're not following Jordan McCollum, you're missing something. Her current blog is on SEEING IS BELIEVING. Part 1 in a series on Writing the Senses.

Monday, April 5, 2010

ASK PZM - April

April 5th is upon us and with that I'm pleased to welcome back my guest columnist, Phyllis Zimbler Miller, author of "Mrs. Lieutenant: A Sharon Gold Novel".
Q:  Should I make my book available in other formats?

A:  You definitely want to make your book available in whatever additional formats are available to you (depending on your book marketing budget).

Let's discuss why this is so:

As with most other things on the web, you want to make it as easy as possible for people to say yes to you -- in this case yes to reading and buying your book. 

Now these two things are NOT necessarily the same.  You may want as many people as possible to be able to read parts or all of your book without buying the book.  This can be an effective marketing strategy for new novelists because your fiction may be as yet unknown. After all, it’s hard to make a case that someone should pay the retail price for a new writer’s novel without knowing if your book is any good.

(The situation is different with nonfiction books.  If you have a book, for example, that is about a new way of losing weight, you can probably connect with a large market of buyers who have never before read anything you’ve written.)

There are different places on the Internet that you can have your entire book online for free. I personally use these two
services for my novel “Mrs. Lieutenant”: and 
And making your book available for free may lead to actual sales after people read your book and enjoy what they’ve read.  (These sales can result from those people then buying your book in actual book form or in recommending to others that those people buy your book.)

But there are also different formats for selling your book. If you are self-published (or if your publisher doesn't provide for this), you should definitely make your book available in the Kindle format and in other electronic reader formats if
If you are a self-published author or a traditionally published author who has retained these rights, you also may want to sell your book in audio format or as a digital download.

Whatever new formats come along, be sure to consider these as part of your overall book promotion strategy.

Q: If I have a marketing-driven website for my book, should I also have a Facebook fan page?
A few months ago I might have said having a Facebook fan page is not really necessary.  Yet in the past few months Facebook has increased the functionality of fan pages to the point where I have realized that you can benefit from the “power of 3” by integrating a marketing-driven website, a Facebook fan page and Twitter.  (See my free report about this at )

A Facebook fan page is a page for business purposes as opposed to your Facebook profile (which you need in order to create a
Facebook fan page).  And you do have a business if you are promoting a book.  (Although you can have a group page on Facebook to promote your book, a group page does not have as many advantages as a fan page.)

One important tip before you set up a fan page:  You can have up to 75 characters in your page title, so take advantage of this as a Facebook fan page is searchable on and off Facebook.  In other words, include keywords. 

Thus you may start off with the title of your book, your author name, and then descriptive keywords such as teen horror or children’s picture book (the words someone might enter in a search box if looking for the type of book you’ve written).

And choose the title carefully because, once you create the fan page, you can’t change that fan page title.

If you are interested in a video and companion workbook that helps you set up an effective Facebook fan page, see my company’s product at

© 2010 Miller Mosaic, LLC

Phyllis Zimbler Miller is the author of “Mrs. Lieutenant: A Sharon Gold Novel” ( and the co-founder of Miller Mosaic Power Marketing.  You can get her free report “Twitter, Facebook and Your Website: A Beginning Blueprint for Harnessing the Power of 3 for Your Business” (and your book) now at

*Remember, if you have a question for Phyllis, send it to me and I'll forward it on for next month's column. 

Saturday, April 3, 2010


I'm very pleased to announce that I've been awarded the Beautiful Blog Award by Anita of  A.F. Stewart's Blog. Anita is a talented fantasy writer from one of my favourite places on earth: Nova Scotia. Please stop by and pay her a visit. Thank you, Anita.

The rules are simple, copy the logo, choose those blogs that you find most beautiful, (sometimes that means words alone) and link back to the one who chose you. Here's my list. Please stop by when you can. I struggled to keep it under 10. Those of you who aren't mentioned, I knew you'd be chosen by someone else, if not already.

1. Cafe of Dreams

2. Klahanie

3. Careann's Musings

4. Katt's Komments

5. Carole Anne Carr

6. Lilacs and Dreams

7. Moonbeams and Rainbows

8. Whisper Softly and Cry Aloud.

9. The Point of the Whole Thing

10. Julie's Quest

Please do visit these blogs. You'll be glad you did.


As you know, in February, Donald Maass graciously consented for this blog to use his book Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook to help writers enhance their writing. Since then we've completed exercises (no particular order from the book) on the Hero, the Bad Guy, Setting, Backstory, and Larger-than-Life Characters.

In no way should this deter you from buying his book. I'm just skimming these exercises. Their full impact can't be appreciate without reading both the book and the workbook. Besides, it's important to understand the generosity of many successful people in this business. The information is out there waiting for you, and like Alexandra Sokoloff, Mr. Maass is to be applauded.

Today, I thought we'd discuss one of my favourite subjects, Point of View. Why? Because too many writers I work with are quick to response, "I know, I know, my POV is all over the place. I'll fix it later."

Later is now.

POV, [like riding a bike: once you know, you'll never forget] is the mode by which the author shows the story to the reader.  You can't write your story without POV. We all know that. But what we forget is that every chance to convey the story through our POV character is an opportunity to show the reader who our protagonist is.

If you don't buy that, take your protagonist to the nearest park and describe what s/he sees, hears, smells, experiences so that it's deeper and more heightened. Then describe what YOU experience.

Is it the same? It shouldn't be.

Example of enhancing POV...

Valerie got off the bed. She packed her suitcase. The sun had set. Fourteen floors higher, she could see all of the harbour. The Space Needle in the background. The traffic beyond. Pedestrians rushing down crowded sidewalks. Life goes on, she realized sadly.

By creating a mood and a Valerie you might better connect to, the scene changed to:

(excerpt from Dead Witness)... Valerie rose from the bed. She zipped up her suitcase and braided her hair. Seattle's nights sounds beckoned, and she approached the window. Fourteen floors higher, she could now see clear across the harbour. The Space Needle appeared smaller, and the traffic below was a streak of lights burning down the black pavement. Life goes on, just like the night her parents died.

In this case, the change was more subtle than I would have liked, but because the book is published, I can't go one step further and exaggerate.

But you can. Pick a random scene in your manuscript. Locate the spot where your protagonist verbs: experiences something through one or more of the senses. Now make it bigger, more profound, more characteristic. As Mr. Maass says, "Point of view is more than just a set of eyes looking upon the world. Those eyes come with a mouth and a brain."

Turn to another page. It doesn't matter if it's the same POV character or not. Heighten something. The way he feels. What he sees. His responses must go deeper this time.

Go to another scene. And then another.



Friday, April 2, 2010


If I were tempted to procrastinate for a time, I'd spin the rings, bounce them off the walls, then sit back and watch the stardust display. If I was tempted to kill time, that is. There's always the Let's chase the rings game.

I'm working on my next book under the tutelage of my editor, Leanne Flett Kruger. Leanne has been assigned by Theytus Books to help me whip Broken But Not Dead into shape for next year's publication. My first assignment is to decide just how many names I want to label my protagonist.

Brendell was born Brendell Kisepisim Meshango. Her ex-husband calls her Dell. Her colleagues call her Doctor Meshango. Her students address her as Professor. Her friends call her Brendell. Her stalker calls her Bren. But too many names and I'm liable to confuse my reader.

You're probably thinking: Easy. Just change all these variations to Brendell or maybe... Professor. Or perhaps Dr. Meshango. Or....

Hmm. See what I mean? My first assignment and already I'm procrastinating by playing with stardust.

Anyone have this same problem with their protagonist? Too many names for one character?

--Happy Easter Everyone

Thursday, April 1, 2010


In many places all over the world, spring has arrived. I read about it on some of my favourite blogs, and yes, I feel a tinge of envy.  [Joey the cat]

 For reasons that suited us well in the late seventies, we chose to live in the north. The school system had a good reputation, the work was here, and the country lifestyle was extremely appealing.  [Dakota the dog]

 We also knew that with the advantages of living in the interior came the potential for cruel winters, cold falls, and chilly summers.  After thirty-one years, every other summer is rainy season. [Egor the donkey and friends]

But spring gives light to dreams. There's an exciting sense of awe in the air. We can't help but wonder what will follow spring? How will we spend the longer, carefree days of summer?  [Smiley the lamb]

Come spring, we hear children laughing, birds chirping. The sun's heat feels good on our skin, and everywhere there are hints of new life.  [Murray, one of the wise men]

I've mentioned a few times and even showed pictures of the animals we farm-sit for a fellow up the road. After sharing the seasons with them, I'm seeing telltale signs of their individual personalities. One thing I've noticed this week is their collective response to the signs of spring. They're starting to kick up their heels. Figuratively.  [Paka the Alpaca]

  Is it because they know that spring is in the air?  [Charlie and Lilly the geese]

Or is it simply an instinct to procreate?  [Lilly the goose]

 Being the idealist that I am, I choose to believe that these innocent, wide-eyed creatures know something that I've forgotten. That the secret of spring isn't a secret but an attitude. The attitude of awe and wonderment.   [Bruno the goat]