Monday, February 28, 2011

Cookies and a Catalogue

As you can see by the Theytus countdown widget to the right, Broken But Not Dead will be out in less than 80 days. It's featured in their catalogue on page three of the WebSpring2011.pdf file. One note: They will be changing the cover to something else before it's due to be printed. I'm not sure what yet.

Which reminds me. Where on a woman's body is a woman's yet? Today on the news they said a woman was shot and the bullet was in her yet. Hmm?

But I digress. What do you suppose I'm doing with less than 80 days to go? I'm getting excited! I'm also having troubles sleeping. My stomach is gurgling a lot. My head hurts because I'm spending too much time daydreaming while staring out the window at frozen Cluculz Lake and its blinding whiteness.

I can't wait to see the new cover. The photo of the highway was a rush job so they could get my book in the catalogue on time; which I'm very grateful for. It's a nice cover, but because I live 2 km off the Highway of Tears, I didn't want my novel associated with that. My publisher very graciously agreed. My cat Buster could care less.

In fact, neither could Fluffy.

Did I mention I'm not sleeping well? I'm a little worried that nobody's going to like Broken But Not Dead. And where did I get that title! I told my editor Leanne Kruger that she could change it if she wanted. Much to my dismay it's the name of a rather bad punk-rock band. Who knew. But Leanne likes it, so...

What's amazing if my trepidation. Why shouldn't readers like Broken But Not Dead. Brendell Kisêpîsim Meshango is a remarkable character. She's smart, brave, ambitious, intelligent, and a terrific mother. All the qualities I admire in a woman. And besides, I've been writing longer than most readers have been alive. My first novel Dead Witness did well. I'm still hearing from people who loved it. Yesterday, I was at an event where a woman asked me what I did for a living and when I said, with a touch of hesitation, (in the old days I'd choke over these words) "I'm a writer," she got very excited and said she'd bought my book for her father-in-law, and he loved it!

I should go bake some more cocoa cookies. The ones I made yesterday were delicious. I'd share the recipe except it wasn't mine but one I got off the internet. You're probably wondering with only 3 cookies left what happened to the rest? I think they're in that woman's yet.


Saturday, February 26, 2011

Press Release: MRS. LIEUTENANT

As you already know, marketing expert Phyllis Zimbler Miller has been answering marketing questions here on my blog on the fifth day of every month for the past year and a half. Phyllis' posts obtain a wealth of information and have helped many authors, young and old. Today I'd like to reciprocate by sharing with you a press release on Phyllis' behalf. 

Website Best Army Wives Launches Book Club March 1 With Novel “Mrs. Lieutenant”
The website launches a book club March 1 with the Vietnam War-era novel “Mrs. Lieutenant,” which was a 2008 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award semi-finalist.
Irion Arce, creator of the site and the book club, has assigned chapters to each of the four weeks of the month-long website discussion.  Chapter assignments are at
In addition, at the end of each week of assigned chapters, an online discussion with author Phyllis Zimbler Miller will be held and everyone is invited to participate.  Registration is at along with links to read the entire novel online for free.
“Mrs. Lieutenant” takes place in the spring of 1970 – right after the Kent State National Guard shootings and President Nixon’s two-month incursion into Cambodia – when four newly married young women come together at Ft. Knox, Kentucky, as their husbands go on active duty as officers in the U.S. Army.
Different as these four women are, they have one thing in common: Their overwhelming fear that, right after these nine weeks of training, their husbands could be shipped out to Vietnam – and they could become war widows.
Sharon is a Jewish anti-war protester who fell in love with an ROTC cadet; Kim is a Southern Baptist whose husband is intensely jealous; Donna is a Puerto Rican who grew up in an enlisted man’s family; and Wendy is a Southern black whose parents have sheltered her from the brutal reality of racism in America.
The author was a new Mrs. Lieutenant in the spring of 1970 when her ROTC husband attended Armor Officers Basic at Ft. Knox before training at Ft. Holabird as a Strategic Intelligence Officer (MOS 9300) and being assigned to the 18th Military Battalion in Munich, Germany, from September 1970 to May 1972.
 If you've missed any of Phyllis' posts, please click on ASK PZM under labels below.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Infamous Alex, Jordan and Margaret

Alexandra Sokoloff is at it again; she has a great post on First Chapters that's a must-read. When you're finished, check out Jordan McCollum's post on Don't Tell Me How You Feel: showing emotions.

But before you head over, listen to what Margaret Atwood has to say about The Publishing Pie. She speaks for 20 minutes, then takes questions for 10 minutes, and although that may seem long, I promise it's worth the time. I first caught her speech on Rachelle Gardner's blog.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Where Should Your Story Be?

A Half Dozen Hints for Creating Settings
by Katherine Swarts

Readers will enjoy your story more if they're clear on where and when it takes place. Here's how to establish setting in a way that adds to the reading experience.

Setting (comprising the location and time of a story’s events) is the fourth element of good writing. (There are two major elements—plot and characters—and two minor ones—theme and setting.) Readers should “see” even an Anysmalltown, U.S.A., well enough for the tale to flow smoothly through their brains. So:

1. Establish essential aspects at the beginning. If characters will be delayed by a blizzard in Chapter Six, readers should know, well in advance, that blizzards are conceivable in the story’s season and climate. You want people to become so engrossed that they effectively forget this is fiction; having the blizzard pop out of nowhere, after readers settle into comfortable mental pictures of a Florida summer, jars them back to reality while they scramble to recover the flow.
(Some plots hinge on the setting’s not being what it seems, as in Margaret Peterson Haddix’s Running Out of Time. But they drop a few hints; Haddix’s “frontier” people occasionally slip into twentieth-century slang.)

2. Remember that, unless told differently, readers picture the following as similar to their own:
  • Geographic location. It may not matter whether a story takes place in Vermont or California. But if the climate, or anything else particular to location, will play an important role, let readers know quickly where they are.
  • Area population and housing. The same principle applies; if your text refers to barns, mention the rural setting early on.
  • Time period. If your story is set in the present, you needn’t mention dates; but if things are taking place in the past—or in a speculative future—establish that quickly.
The further your story is removed from today’s “real world,” the more space you’ll need for setting. However:

3. Never use up space on setting, at the expense of story. If your setting is another planet and your characters human only in emotions, you’ll have to describe things in some detail. But if you open with twenty pages on the planet’s physics, readers will give up after five minutes. Instead, start with a character doing something interesting—but a character with an alien name, using something exotic like a “timonet.” Once readers are hooked on what’s happening, you can weave in essential information bit by bit, as part of dialogue or action where possible.

4. With all descriptions, shorter is better. Whenever you catch yourself using an adjective or adverb, ask: could I trade this, with its companion noun or verb, for a more descriptive noun or verb? Heavy rain becomes downpour; the waves rolled in loudly becomes the waves crashed. (Don’t write crashed loudly or heavy downpour; loudly and heavy go without saying.)

5. To maximize your ability to create a convincing setting, put the story in a place you’re personally familiar with—the town you live in, the factory where you work—or in a near-identical, imaginary place if you don’t want acquaintances suspecting that characters were modeled after them. When you already “have the feel” of a place, accurate details will flow naturally into the story. Information gleaned from Web sites and reference books, however reliable, makes for artificial-sounding descriptions.

6. If you do set your story somewhere you can’t personally visit, do your research. Interview people who do have direct experience with that setting (or, if none remain alive, read diaries and letters from the period). Visit your historical novel’s location as it is today, and talk to current residents. With a future or fantasy setting, study experts in the genre, and interview real-life scientists or folklorists.

Katherine Swarts is a professional copywriter and journalist, founder and owner of Spread the Word Commercial Writing in Houston, Texas. Spread the Word is certified by the Women's Business Enterprise National Council.

Since 1993, Katherine has published over 50 articles in numerous periodicals, including Carus Publishing's Appleseeds, Faces, and Odyssey; Children's Writer (on which see comments in next paragraph); and Christian Home & School. She has also prepared two anthologies for Thomson Gale.
Katherine has a bachelor's degree in English from Austin College in Sherman (TX), and a master's degree in written communications from Wheaton (IL) Graduate School. She has also studied with the Institute of Children's Literature, which publishes the monthly newsletter Children's Writer; two annual market guides; and an annual writer's yearbook.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Great Authors Who've Wrestled With Depression

4 Famous Depressed Authors & Their Lives by Eric Olsen

No human being is immune to depression. But authors as a group seem to suffer from it, particularly those who are successful and famous. What follows are the histories and bouts of depression suffered by four famous authors.

*J.K. Rowling, 42 years old, was writing stories when she was just six. In the early 90s Rowling, poor and struggling, moved from Britain to Portugal to teach English. While there she met and married a Portuguese journalist. Their union produced a baby girl. But the marriage ended soon after the child's birth, and Rowling moved back to be near her sister in Edinburgh, Scotland.

During this period Rowling began to think about committing suicide. She was not yet famous or rich, and was a single mother, struggling to make ends meet. Rowling says her young daughter caused her to seek help. But, the first doctor she went to, sent her home, telling her if she felt a bit low again to speak with the nurse. The next doctor heard her pain, and got her into counseling. Rowling says about this period that she was never remotely ashamed of it. She says that she went through a really tough time, and is proud that she got out of it.

It was her experience with depression, which gave Rowling the idea of the Dementors, soul-sucking creatures that appeared in the third Harry Potter book. In 1995, Rowling finished her manuscript for Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, pounding it out on an old manual typewriter.

But the publishing world didn't accept it easily. One year after twelve publishing houses rejected it, a small publisher, Bloomsbury liked it, but advised Rowling to get a day job, since this was just a children's book. Things improved in 1997, when a U.S. auction was held for publishing rights of the Potter novel. Scholastic, Inc. paid Rowling $105-thousand for it, and she says she almost died when she heard about it.

*Charles Dickens - 1812 ñ 1870 Dickens began writing fiction at age 21. Two years after that, he wrote a series of short stories, which appeared in monthly magazine installments. Between 1837 and 1839, Dickens penned three of his most famous novels; Pickwick Papers, Oliver Twist and Nicholas Nickelby. It's believed that it was the manic side of his manic depression that enabled him to be so prolific.

Even though by this time, he was internationally famous and rich, he was hit with a wave of depression in the 1840s. Its onset was triggered by the birth of his son. He spent days locked up in a room, unable to write. To explain what he was feeling, he wrote:

"Men have been chained to hideous walls and other strange anchors but few have
known such suffering and bitterness, as those who have been bound to Pens."

Dickens is considered to have been a genius and the greatest English writer of the 19th century.
He died in June of 1870, leaving behind an estate valued at over $6.5 million.

*Anne Rice is an American writer, born in October 1941. She so disliked her given name, Howard Allen O'Brien that in first grade she changed it to Anne. She was greatly influenced by her mother, an unsuccessful Hollywood actress obsessed with the occult. Mother and daughter frequently went on outings in New Orleans, stopping to look at decaying old mansions thought to formerly be the province of witches, warlocks and demons.

In 1962, she married Stan Rice and five years later gave birth to a daughter, Michele. Anne wanted to be a writer, and wrote a short story each day in between being a mother and a wife. But she was unable to get any of them published. He world turned upside down though when her five-year old daughter was diagnosed with acute leukemia and eventually died. Rice plunged into depression, but found she was able to lose herself in her writing.

She began a novel and finished it in five weeks about a vampire obsessed with the company of a five-year old girl, who he wants to turn into another vampire for the company she would provide. But when he learns that she will remain a five-year-old trapped in a vampire's soul, he is crushed. She finished this first book, Interview with the Vampire, in 1973 and it was published it in 1976.

*William Faulkner, 1897 ñ 1962 Faulkner's battles with depression and alcoholism did not prevent him from winning the 1949 Nobel Prize in Literature. Faulkner, a Gothic, modernist writer was so successful at his craft that he managed in some small way to dispel the myth that depression equals incompetence. It was Faulkner's bipolar depression that enabled him to create a completely fictional location name Yoknapatawha County which he used as the backdrop for many of his novels.

* * * *

Eric Olsen has suffered major bouts of depression throughout his life, and has come out okay on the other side. Part of his time is spent empathizing with those who have depression, and helping them understand that they are not alone.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Who Decides?

Breaking News:

It was announced this morning out of Ottawa that Prince William and Kate Middleton won't be visiting Beautiful British Columbia during their trip to Canada in June. The official itinerary includes stops in Prince Edward Island, Quebec, Alberta, the Northwest Territories and Ottawa,... but no B.C.. Princess Di and Prince Charles visited Prince George in 1986 during Expo. (I should probably inject that their motorcade was traveling so fast that the only glimpse we got was of a black flash of metal speeding past)

So -- Who decides which provinces they visit? Is it the government? The Queen? The happy couple? MI-6? CSIS? Anybody know? (My goodness, she's thin)

Do the Royal Couple realize just how large mosquitoes in the Northwest Terrorities are??? Are Canadian mosquitoes even allowed to bite Royalty?

Is it possible that they believe our summer weather looks something like...

This is more like it:

Turns out I'm not the only one wondering. Global BCTV has a facebook page asking viewers to urge the couple to reconsider. But that still doesn't answer my question. The writer in me needs to know: Who made this decision? After all, we're British Columbians, named after their sovereign country. What could they possibly be thinking!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

BLACKSTONE: kaskitewi asiniy

One of the best parts about blogging is showcasing talent. Especially Canadian talent. Particularly family talent. My little brother, Steven Cree Molison stars as Daryl Fraser on the ground breaking series Blackstone airing Tuesday nights at 8 pm PST on APTN.

About Blackstone (from their webpage)

Intense, compelling and confrontational, Blackstone is an unmuted exploration of First Nations’ power and politics, unfolding over nine one-hour episodes. This raw, authentic drama tells the story of the fictional Blackstone First Nation, suffering disintegration by its own hand – the result of the corruption of its Chief and Council. From within the community, a new generation of leaders rise up and fight to create lasting and substantial change.

“Blackstone is relevant and relational in an Aboriginal story world, with universal themes and conflicts that are not only relatable to some First Nations out there today, but also to the world of politics and power in general,” said Ron E. Scott, who created, wrote, directed and executive produced the series.

An uncompromising story told from an Aboriginal point of view, Blackstone is in sharp contrast to sympathetic stories about First Nations’ people being victimized by outside forces. While the dramatization can be dark and all too real, Blackstone is foremost a story of hope and reconciliation in its portrayal of Native people fighting for a better life in their community.

Blackstone, a cross between Deadwood/Sopranos and North of 60, is an intense, no holds barred drama. It's honest, controversial, and gut wrenching. In dramatizing the effects of power and politics on a reserve, Blackstone opens up our culture and our people to mainstream North America and depicts what effects us all: the good and bad in all men.  I hope you tune in to APTN on Tuesday nights at 9 o'clock EST and Showcase Friday nights at 11 pm EST.

Way to go, Steve!

Blackstone is produced by Prairie Dog Film + Television in association with Aboriginal Peoples Television Network, Showcase and Canwest Broadcasting, with the assistance of the Government of Alberta, Alberta Media Fund, with the participation of the Canada Media Fund and with the assistance of The Canadian Film or Video Production Tax Credit. For more information, visit

Monday, February 7, 2011


Carol Denbow is showcasing yours truly on her blog this week. I'm on the left-hand side under:

This Week's Author Spotlight is on... 

While you're there, please check out all that Carol's blog has to offer. Carol is a huge supporter of authors. Thank you, Carol!


Saturday, February 5, 2011


1. How important are book reviews for selling an author’s book? And does it matter whether the reviews are from professional reviewers or avid readers?

I don’t have a definitive answer for these questions. Instead I’d like to throw this open to discussion: How influenced are you by book reviews? And do you care who has written the reviews?

In answering these questions, we probably first have to ask: Where do you learn about new books? Magazine ads, newspaper reviews, Amazon, other online book sites, Facebook, Twitter?

I’m guessing that where we each learn about new books impacts how important reviews are to whether we buy a specific book.

Also, how do we individually use Amazon if we buy books from Amazon? I buy lots of books on Amazon, but I usually go on the site to buy a specific book. I rarely pay any attention to the other books Amazon recommends to me. Nor do I usually search on Amazon for specific topics.

Notwithstanding all of the above, we probably can all agree that a good review is better than a bad review regardless of who wrote the review. But here’s the thing – I do think who wrote the review should matter.

Let me share this story with you:

In early 2008 my self-published novel MRS. LIEUTENANT was named an Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award semi-finalist. Amazon gave each of us semi-finalists a page for the book on Amazon and a review from a professional review publication.

The only problem was that the reviewer’s name was not revealed – and in many cases the reviewers appeared not to have read the book (judging from the angry comments by numerous semi-finalists as to how much the reviewer got wrong about their book). Or in my case to really not understand what the book was about.

Thus I had a somewhat negative review by an unnamed person (I suspect a man when my book is really for women) from a professional review publication. Trust me, I could have done without this review.

At the moment MRS. LIEUTENANT has 33 reviews on Amazon but I doubt anyone really reads any of these reviews. If people did read these reviews, they would find an overwhelming number of positive reviews. (Almost all not from people I know; most people I know who read the book didn’t write a review.)

Now it’s your turn to weigh in about what you think of the impact of book reviews.

2. Do virtual book tours sell books?

I’m a huge fan of virtual book tours although I’m not sure these tours sell books.  What they do provide is an effective method of getting your name and your book’s title out to audiences that you may not be in touch with – and you don’t have to leave your computer to do this.

And often, if the website owner does a review of your book rather than (or in addition to) an interview of you for the tour, he/she will offer to also post the review on your book’s Amazon page, thus adding to the number of reviews shown at the top of your book’s Amazon page.

Another important part of a virtual book tour is getting links back to your book author website from your website tour stops.  These links from topic-related websites are valued by search engines, which can help your own website rise in search engine results.

Plus when someone does, for example, search Google on your name and book title, these virtual book tour stops should come up.  Presumably the person searching will be influenced by these search engine results and might even check out one or two reviews of your book on these sites!

© 2011 Miller Mosaic, LLC
Phyllis Zimbler Miller (@ZimblerMiller on Twitter) is the co-founder of the social media marketing company Miller Mosaic and she blogs at
Phyllis is also the author of the novel MRS. LIEUTENANT as well as the co-author of FOUR COMEDY SCREENPLAYS and the co-author of the Jewish holiday book SEASONS FOR CELEBRATION.

If you have a question you'd like featured in next month's Ask PZM, please forward it to joylene at cluculzwriter at yahoo dot ca. Thanks. 

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


Life can be tough, everyone knows that. The pain and anguish of living through difficult times knows no prejudice, and no one is exempt from hardships. As I type this millions of people are suffering all over the world. One lady in Australia said on the news last week that even though she's going through horrendous times, she knows that many people have it worse.

So, how does one retain hope when the world is going to hell in a hand basket?

There are several names for it. Some call it faith. Some say it's simply stubbornness. Some call it courage. I think it's a combination of all three, and the strength to care. Because even in today's turbulent times, when technology is jetting us into the next decade faster than we can say cyberspace, something wonderful and unique and mind-boggling is growing. It's called: Community of Cyberpals.

I'm honoured to accept the Life is Good Award from my dear friend Grandpa, (Ai Wai) Life on The Farm. Grandpa's blog is a celebration of all parts of life. The good and the bad. Please do yourself a favour and stop by and say hello. Grandpa's photographs of his beautiful grandchild, his gardens, and his home are breathtaking.

Now, onto the requirements for the Life is Good Award:

1. First, thank and link back to the person who gave the award. (Thank you, Grandpa!)
2. Share some things about yourself.
3. Pass the award along to other bloggers whom you think are fantastic.
4. Contact the bloggers you have chosen to let know about the award.

I'm tweaking the rest a tiny bit. Here's 5 things about me that I hope help to explain who I am and why I think "Life is Good."

1. In the winter, yes most days the temperatures reaches a bone-chilling twenty degrees below zero before dinner; yet, I am blessed with the most spectacular sunsets on the planet.  

2. Once every two weeks, I travel the 68 km to the city for a day of shopping with three of the most hilarious, fun-loving ladies SNL could ever imagine.

3. I have a best-friend 700 km south that I can call any hour of the day or night, and she'll listen to my problems, my joys, and my sorrows. 

4. We have four strays cats and one beautiful Siberian husky who are more entertaining that any awarding winning series on television. 

5. It doesn't matter how cold it is; minus 39, bring it on. We have 8 cords of wood in the wood shed. LIFE IS GOOD!

Now I'd like to pass this award on to: 

1. Kathryn Neff Perry, Katt's Komments. Katt's just about one of the sweetest, gentlest people I know. Katt's prayer request circuit is renown. 

2. Carol J. Garvin, Careann's Musings. Visiting Carol's blog is like stopping for coffee with a dear friend and coming away feeling like a million dollars. 

3. Karen Lange, Write Now. Karen is trying to make the writing community a better place for all of us. Her generosity knows no bounds. 

4. Carole Anne Carr, a common place where a children's author and friends can share, is all about sharing and caring, and making a difference for children. How wonderful is that!

5. Wendy, aka Quillfeather, W.M.Morell's Musings From Down Under. Wendy has the ability to make the child in you smile. I love when that happens.  
Thanks, ladies. You are fantastic!