Sunday, January 21, 2018

Oh Dear, A Scumbag by Katherine Pym

I’m an author and as such, I watch people, scour life for opportunities that can be translated into a novel. So, what do you think of the following which I found in a local newspaper?

Dear Gene:
I’m married to a younger woman and she is pregnant. Her mother lives with us. She is close to my age. We have a lot in common (more so than my wife and I). I can talk to her about anything. We are falling in love. What should I do?

Answer : You are a scumbag. Find a cliff and jump off.

So much for hopeful wisdom.  But let’s look at this from a manuscript point of view.

Would this be a good story line for a murder mystery or is it too tedious? A murder of passion. Worked to death. Boring.

There is very little in this world that is original although I must say Harry Potter & the original Star Wars, Star Trek, Tolkien’s trilogy  were very original. It’s hard to come up with a magical premise without thinking of Harry or traveling through middle world or to the new frontier called space without those movie/television franchises coming to mind.

So how do you make an old story line more original? How do you make boring sparkle? Add more story lines with twists, throw in a red herring or two, but don’t get carried away. You’ll confuse the reader. They’ll get lost amongst all those bodies and, in a pet, throw the book against a wall.

Historical fiction is a rehash of all stories through the centuries. People make the same mistakes over and over again. What’s that phrase now? History repeats itself. We never seem to learn from our mistakes. “Well, that was his error. I’ll do it differently.” But the clues leading up to what one would do differently are the same as the ones from the past. The stepping stones are cracked but still usable. They are tried and true, worth another shot. (How’s that for a bunch of clichés?)

As an aside: I could write a story filled with clichés but then in a year or two, maybe three, depending on the usage of the clichés, no one would understand the story. “What did she mean by that?” “Haven’t a clue.” “So, why did she say it, then?” Shrug. “Haven’t a clue.” The book is thrown against a wall.

When Jude and I wrote of Sir David Kirke and his wife, Lady Sara, we found a story of real people (tried & true) but these guys lived in the 17th century (not as popular as the Anglo/Saxon, Tudors or the Georgian eras),  so a little more original. The story is of Canada, and its pioneers (not beaten to death), what they went through to make a working plantation successful (not like the American southern plantations that required slaves).

In Newfoundland, we have a fishing industry, icebergs that ships had to dodge, privateers (old hash but exciting so I’ll read it again), a temperamental king (yawn) who causes problems (sound familiar today?). Our couple struggle to make ends meet (boring) because of that king (harrumph), but we like David and Sara and their struggles. 

He calls her Twig, which we find humorous. His most romantic words are: "Twig, prepare to be mounted." (chortle) She gives him a look that makes him step back. (wonderful woman)

The setting is different (original), no white man/Aboriginal battles (refreshing), just about a couple who want to succeed in life during a tumultuous era of exploration and civil wars (exciting & almost original).

Pillars of Avalon, a good book as I toot my own horn. :D

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Writing and Other Resolutions.

Like most writers, except for the rare hermit-type, I'd love a NYTimes best seller. Then I can hire a cutthroat publicity team to make sure my novels are out there, without me harassing my friends, and strangers, to review, buy, etc.

For this year, 2018, I hope for better family relations. Why are relatives so stubborn? They never behave the way you wish they would (tongue in cheek). And I hope that my ailing mother makes it past her 90th birthday in May.

Well, these aren't resolutions, only wishes. I resolve to be kinder, calmer, to think before I react.
To not want to throw books or keyboards across the room when miffed.

Stop writing in the Passive Voice, though often I don't know what that entails.
Convince people that I have no 'narrators' in my stories, those are my characters' thoughts. I was taught not to add 'she thought' in a critique group. When you're in someone's POV every detail is in your character's thoughts.

And the bigee of 'show' don't 'tell.' I love to show, but often get it wrong. I will work on that one.

Eliminate 'could', 'would,' and no 'should', when possible. Delete those 'there was' and 'it was.' Pretty soon, few words are left to form a sentence.

But every writer has their own voice, and I notice the majority of best-selling authors don't follow any of this advice. These writers even have the audacity to write in incomplete sentences!

I dislike that everyone wants stories to be fast-paced, no nuance, no in-depth characterization. Just action, action. I guess I was born in the wrong era. While writers of yore can be too flowery, or have inner thoughts that run for pages, the classics are classic for a reason.

Most of all I resolve to keep writing and learning and becoming a better person all around (how is that for too many 'gerunds'?)
My just released novel is On a Stormy Primeval Shore:

In 1784, Amelia sails to New Brunswick, a land overrun by Loyalists escaping the American Revolution, to marry a soldier whom she rejects. Acadian Gilbert fights to preserve his heritage and property—will they find love when events seek to destroy them?

Purchase on my BWL Author page
Or on Amazon
Visit my website:

Diane Scott Lewis grew up in California, traveled the world with the navy, edited for magazines and an on-line publisher. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

New Year's Writing Resolutions by Joan Donaldson-Yarmey

A New Year’s Resolution could be described as promise made by a person to change themselves or something in their lives for the better. It could be being nicer to their neighbour, reading more, or having more fun. This change begins on New Year’s Day and is supposed to last for the year.
Making a New Year's pledge is a custom observed mainly in the Western Hemisphere but is sometimes found in the Eastern Hemisphere.
       Eight of the top ten resolutions are: spending more time with loved ones; getting in shape through exercise; losing weight; quit smoking; stop drinking; enjoy life more; pay off bills; learn something new.
      How do these resolutions relate to my writing?
1.)    Spending more time with loved ones.
Writing is a solitary undertaking. I sit in a room alone with my computer (some writers use pen and paper.) I don’t like to be disturbed because that disturbance usually comes when I am right in the middle of a scene and I want to get it all down the way I am visualizing it. In order to spend more time with loved ones, I have to cut back on my writing. I read an article about one best-selling writer. Her son asked her if she would go to his baseball game. She said she couldn’t because she had to work on her next great book.
2.)    Getting in shape through exercise.
I spend my writing time sitting in a chair. If the story line is going well, I want to keep at it to the detriment of other activities.
3.)    Losing weight.
Hunger distracts me. I find that I write better if I have a full stomach, usually full of chocolates, but anything works.
4&5.) Quit smoking and drinking.
I have never smoked so that is easy. I only have an occasional drink so I am fine with that, also.
6.)    Enjoy life more.
Again, doing anything outside that room takes time away from my writing. And since I enjoy writing my books and planning more stories, I guess I am enjoying life.
7.)    Pay off bills.
Many writers write in order to pay off their bills. Some write hoping that they will have the next great best seller and earn lots of money. Most write because they love to write. Learn something new.
8.)    Learning something new.
Most beginner writers take writing courses to learn their craft. For others writing comes naturally. Many writers take a course in something they are writing about so the reader feels that the writer knows what they are putting in their books. When I write my historical novels I do a lot of research—reading books, visiting the places I am including in the book, and checking sites on the Internet. I have learned so much about Canadian history that I didn’t know before. I like to live by the saying: keep learning because it doesn’t cost anything to store the information.
       So how do my New Year’s pledge(s) relate to those resolutions? I am going to continue doing my exercises in the morning before I begin writing so that I stay in shape. In spite of liking to write with a full stomach I work at maintaining my normal weight and will make sure that I continue to do so. Luckily at this time in my life, I don’t have any large debts and can write because I love to. I am not going to take up smoking nor will I drink more. But I think the most important one is I am going to continue enjoying life by writing more but also by spending more time with family and friends. In the past I have set aside my writing so that I could do things with my family and friends. They laugh with me, go places with me, are happy for me when I do something new and different. Writing is words on paper.


Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Writing Resolutions - Or Not by Victoria Chatham

It's that time of year again - time to reflect on the year that has passed and to plan for the year ahead. The Canadian Historical Bride authors have been asked -What writing resolutions do you have for 2018?

If you were hoping for words of wit and wisdom in this post, sorry, it isn’t going to happen because I just don’t make resolutions anymore. Every year for many years it was the same thing – take more exercise, be more organized, save more money, plan my writing time, and the list goes on. You probably have a list of your own and, like me, you’ve started with great intentions only, at some point, to have a wheel fall off the wagon and been sidetracked.

It probably won’t surprise you to hear that in my writing I’m more of a pantser than a plotter. I write by the seat of my pants, and I tend to live my life that way too. It might sound chaotic and unproductive but, for me, it works. I get to do a bit of all the things I really enjoy on a day to day basis, whatever it is.

When January 1st comes around, it’s almost like receiving another Christmas present. The clock strikes twelve and hey! you haven’t turned into a pumpkin but instead received the gift of a whole new year in which you can enjoy the company of old friends and maybe make new ones. You might try new things, whether it’s that new Thai restaurant you haven’t quite plucked up the courage to experience or the art class you always wanted to sign up for. It might be a new place, like that little coffee shop around the corner that you’ve never made the time to visit, or a new country in which to vacation.

Rather than making resolutions, my intention is to continue enjoying my life as much as I can for as long as I can. After all, every single moment I experience might one day finish up in a book in one way or another because, when all is said and done, I am a writer with many more stories to tell. Watch this space!

 Victoria Chatham

Monday, December 25, 2017

If I Could Change Anything, What Would It Be? by A.M.Westerling

I have to honestly say - nothing. I wouldn't change a thing in my life. The challenges I've faced and the decisions I've made over the years have shaped who I am and I'm happy with the face that stares back at me in the mirror every morning. Crows feet, wrinkles, odd ball freckles and all. I would add grey hair but ahem, my hair dresser takes care of that. *wink*

Some of the decisions I've made? In university I opted to take engineering rather than music. I'd played piano for years and even taught but in the end I decided I didn't want to be a piano teacher the rest of my life. Luckily enough, I had the marks and the aptitude to become a chemical engineer, along the way acquiring my husband, also an engineer. After working a number of years, we decided to open our own engineering firm and although my husband wanted me to keep working for the company I was with at the time (something about a steady income and paying bills) I insisted on joining him. Initially we had some scary times financially as we had our boys  at the same time (maybe planning wasn't our forte) but over the years we became so successful that a larger firm bought us. We joke quite often how we went from two jobs no kids, to two kids, no jobs. :)

Anyway, it allowed me to retire at an early age and that's when I became serious about writing. Not just any writing, but historical romance because after all, who doesn't love a Happily Ever After? Especially because I feel as if I'm living a romance novel with my own Happily Ever After!

My day of the month to post on the Canadian Historical Brides Blog is the 25th and of course today is Christmas Day. I wish all of you a Merry Christmas and a healthy and happy New Year! May the joy and wonder of this season stay with you throughout the upcoming year and may all your dreams come true. 

Speaking of historical romance, Barkerville Beginnings is available at your favorite online retailer: or order print copies at your local book store.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

What Would I Change in Fly Away Snow Goose?

This is a dangerous question to ask a depressive. Most of us, upon hearing it, freeze.  We know that if anything goes wrong within five miles of where we are standing, it will—somehow—be our fault. "What's wrong with my book???" You start with a small hours bout of 20-20 hindsight and go on from there 

So, I shall attack the assignment from another angle.  

I’m a ruminator, a.k.a. a s-l-o-w writer, which is not a good thing when you are supposed to be “creating content.” So the slowness leads me to: “My only regret about Fly away Snow Goose is that John and I didn’t have more time to learn and ponder.

Fish drying in the customary low humidity of NWT

We were writers on a deadline and sometimes one or the other of us would throw up our hands in despair. However, our deadline was nothing when compared with the deadline our characters faced.  Those four kids either had to find their tribe before winter comes or die. The responsibility for success or failure lies squarely upon the eldest, a pair of youngsters, who, after their escape from the residential school, face a peril-filled initiation into adulthood. 

Sometimes we, the writers, were scrambling; sometimes our characters were scrambling, but I can assure you they scrambled a lot harder than we did. Their journey takes them up rivers, through, across and around bogs, muskeg, pothole lakes, and into dark forests. They are always on the look out for dangerous animals--the primary one being white men who could turn them over to the authorities.

In the end, there’s not much I’d change about this now completed project. I got to know-- if only a little--the earth-wise Tlicho.  It has been a humbling experience for me to peek over the top of my cultural box and discover another persuasive world view. I’ve learned about the Prophet Erǝ́ya , also called Louis Ayah, of Great Bear Lake, and read his teachings. I’ve read about families named Tailbones, Crooked Hands, Simpson, Zoe, Chocolate, Norwegian and Lynx. I learned about Chief Jimmy Bruneau and about the far-sighted, strong willed Tlicho leader Monfwi. I've learned what this land means to the Athabascan people, how everything from rock and river to moose and man is connected to everything else, in a web which can never be undone.  I hope that this other "way of seeing" is brought to life in our story, and I'm truly glad that John has been along to make sure my feet stay on the Red Road.

It’s been inspiring —thanks to a free internet –to see images from the NWT taken by all kinds of people, some who live there and others who are gob-smacked visitors.  From these amazing pictures, it was a short head hop to standing upon their astounding dèè and looking up into the whispering glory of Aurora Borealis.  

Don’t know if I’ll ever get there, but the NWT is now definitely on my bucket list.

~~Juliet Waldron

The best link to find my historical novels at many popular online sites: