Tag Archives: book

Faerie World – Writing Prompt Contest…

Some of you may know I published a chapter book called Ockleberries to the Rescue. Two woodland sprites helps their forest animal friends. It combines my love of the natural world with that of the faerie realm. After the book cover was created a friend told me about a local woodworker who made faerie doors. So using the door as your inspiration, write a poem or story about what magical beings live behind this door.

OckleberriesToTheRescueSprite door 4

Enjoy this prompt and leave your response in the comments. 1000 words maximum for a short story. Poems can be any length.

A quarterly prize will be given for the most voted for response.

My Interview at Joseph D Drumheller – The Five Steps to Create a Children’s’ Book…

Link here: https://josephdrumheller.wordpress.com/2016/08/22/five-steps-to-create-a-childrens-book/

The Five Steps to Create a Children’s’ Book  

Rumble's First Scare

  1. The Idea

This may seem like the easiest part of creating a children’s book – right? Not as easy as first appears as it turns out. Your idea has to convert onto the page in a language that your target audience can understand word usage is vital so take note.

  1. What age group are you writing for?
  2. Will you target pre-schoolers or an older age group?
  3. Will the story contain a moral or lesson?

My children’s picture book, Rumble’s First Scare began life as a prompt for Halloween. I did not want to write the usual monster narrative but something more unusual and fun. So I wrote the story from the young monster’s point of view. Younger children love Rumble and monsters are not so scary.

  1. Finding a Publisher

There are numerous avenues to research when it comes to finding a publisher.

  1. You can follow children’s book agents.
  2. Submit your story to contests with a book contract attached.
  3. Attend conferences and find an interested agent/publisher.
  4. Research local or regional publishing houses and submit your story.

I was fortunate to find a publisher locally and this made my publishing experience a more personally tailored one. Dream Write Publishing did an amazing job and I was part of the process all the way through.

  1. Illustrations

The amount of illustrations is dependent on the age of your target group, the younger the age group the more pictures are required and less text.

  1. If you are a talented artist you can illustrate yourself.
  2. Do you know an artist that will collaborate with you on the project?
  3. Does your publisher offer this service?
  4. There are many artists on social media you can approach.

My Rumble character was the culmination of my imagination and crude drawings and a wonderful artist friend, Matthew McClatchie, who made my idea of what Rumble would look like into reality.

  1. Text

Again the amount of text needs to be balanced for the target age group. For example, if the books are for very young children the text needs to be simple and sparse with great pictures, but for independent readers, illustrations can be on the chapter headers only.

  1. Do you want the story in rhyme form?
  2. Choose simple pronounceable names for your characters.
  3. Wrap the text around the pictures or along the bottom of the page.
  4. Keep exposition to a minimum
  1. Extra Pages
  2. The publisher will require your author bio and a photo
  3. You will create a ‘blurb’ – a brief description of the story – for the back of the book.
  4. If you wish you can have a dedication page.
  5. The publisher will allocate an ISBN and the legal disclaimers and permissions for duplication.

Sharing my little book with friends and family was stupendous. The moment any author is handed their first book is overwhelming emotional. It is the closest an adult comes to childish delight. The reality that your words are now published, that many people will read it and your words will outlive you delighting generations to come is a heady feeling.

After your book is published your work is not done. Promotion becomes your master. Be creative and say ‘Yes’ to any and all opportunities that come your way. The more your book is noticed the more sales.

Mandy and Rumble at SC Summerwood

To promote Rumble I created a soft toy of Rumble, which was so much fun. Once I showed my writing group they all announced I should make miniatures for each book, I declined!  Rumble accompanies me to readings and events and is always popular. As I had a good deal of promotion to manage without sewing into the wee hours, I did commissioned Rumble hats, and ordered T-shirts, which are a lot easier to handle.



Always creative, I came to writing later in life. A chance visit to a writing group, Writers Foundation of Strathcona County, propelled me into the written word in a way I could never have imagined. I delve into all genres expanding my writing muscles and with several books published; I am certainly making up for ‘lost’ time. As a free flow writer, my stories lead me rather than the other way round, delighting me with plot twists and turns. Writing is my passion, the source of new found fellowship and most of all fun.



I can be reached through my blog at www.mandyevebarnett.com, on my facebook page https://www.facebook.com/Mandyevebarnettcom/ and through Twitter @mandyevebarnett

Annual Colouring Contest:

I arrange an annual colouring competition prior to Halloween for Rumble fans. The picture is in .pdf format and downloaded from my publisher’s website – http://www.dreamwritepublishing.ca. Once all entries are in I choose the winners. Prizes include Rumble hats, T-shirts, monster orientated toys and games.

My newest book will be launched this fall – Clickety Click   is a YA monster story. Why do I have a propensity for monsters, I have no idea!

Click crop cover


That Feeling Of Being In Limbo…A Writing Malaise


We all feel directionless from time to time, whether it is work related boredom, a relationship stagnating or our writing process requires refreshing. We suffer the emotion and frustration in different ways depending on its source.

As for a writing malaise there are tools to get us back on track. We can employ the multitude of writing prompts available via the internet, whether they are pictures, sentences or random words to spark our imagination. There are word games we can purchase as well. And of course there are the numerous ‘filed’ ideas on our computer or notebooks that can be read through and reworked. Or we can explore the outside world for inspiration. Even the experience of quietly sitting in a cafe, library or other public place and people watching can spark a new idea or story.

Another ‘trick’ is to rewrite or create a story but change your usual genre or even the gender of the main character. A different perspective harnesses our creativity and ensures enthusiasm in writing again.

My current malaise is more overload than a lack of inspiration. With freelance clients, reviewing a friends new novel and a manuscript progressing tantalizingly slowly on top of ‘normal’ life, work, chores, family etc. etc. I feel discouraged coupled with anxiousness at what needs to be done and the apathy I am feeling. I need a break from the ‘norm’ to refresh and renew.

What methods have you used to ‘refresh’ your Muse?

Awake the God Thoth again!

thoth 1thoth 2

Writing Projects and Inspiration…

new idea

Our creativity can be inspired from the smallest word, picture or even a globally known news worthy article. Some of you will have read my short story – The Keys. (Oct 17th) The photo inspired the story.

What obscure stimulus has sparked an idea for you? 

As many of you know I am a free flow writer so apart from a vague idea where I want the story to go, it is a mystery to me. That is the thrill for me. It is an adventure I willingly travel with my characters. They lead and I follow with frantic typing. ‘Listening’ to my Muse enables me to create freely.

How do you approach new ideas? Frantic notes? Plot arc? Character descriptions?

No matter what system we use, an idea can grow exponentially once it takes hold. This is wonderful, of course, the only downfall being if we already have a bucketful of ideas already. I thought I was doing well submitting my western romance, Willow Tree Tears to a publisher and a short story, The Toymaker for a contest. However, my suspense novel nagged me to plunge back in and begin a fresh round of editing. So now I am embroiled with a protagonist on the run, hiding in the forest for The Giving Thief. After some months away from the story, I am enjoying getting to know this character again and enhancing his story.


How long do you leave your writing before beginning revisions and edits?

Although, my plan for 2015 was to re-visit two previous projects and re-write, edit and revise them. Now I have this other story demanding to be written and it is impossible to resist. Added to that an idea for a children’s book formulated from a dream a month or so ago, which will require some foundation work. I have drawn one character, named a couple and know their environment.

Have you experienced a story unwilling to stay quiet?

Obviously, I will have to reschedule my plans and go with the flow. My older projects will have to wait a little longer but I am determined to get back to them.

author at work

What are your writing plans for the rest of 2015?

An Interview with Country & City Girl – Barbie-Jo Smith…


What inspired you to write your first book?It was time, plain and simply. I had been putting together information for ages and it was just time to clear off my desk! I’ve always written but I think I had more time to really think it out and organize the information after I retired.
How did you come up with the title?
When I write I often create the title first. This gives me a sense of grounding. The title of my first book is “A Country Gal in the City” and I am literally that gal. The book is a reminiscent collection of humorous stories and poems based on real life. I have lived in both city and country so the title is a natural. No matter how many other books I write, I’ll always be that country gal whose life bridges two worlds.


Is this your first book? How many books have you written (published or unpublished)?
ACGITC is my first official book. I’m working on a second now. It’s called “Things Were Going Fine Till We Hit the Rapids”. For years I wrote columns in two specific magazines, “Our World+50” and “Cloverleaf Country”, and various newsletters, smaller publications. My work was also displayed as a museum exhibit for a year. I currently have my work published in 12 anthologies of Canadian writers. During my career years I did a lot of business and medical writing, so while I wasn’t published through traditional means, I have always been “a writ’n fool”!
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
My books aren’t novels, but rather compilations true stories. I don’t write to give a message but if there is something in my writing, it would be to get out there and really live! Remember to be grateful for the good things in your life and more grateful for the harsh things. It’s during the tough times in life when we learn the most important lessons.
How much of the book is realistic?
As above, it’s all based on real people and real life events.
Are your characters based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Yes very much so and they generally appear as themselves. In rare cases I change names and/or combine people or events to ensure privacy. One of the strongest characters is my late father, Ty Smith. He had a great sense of humor and was genuinely accident prone. The combination provided unlimited side-slapping situations. He always had a caper on the go. Really now, do you know anyone who could charm his wife into dangling him by the ankles out the upstairs window so he could patch cracks in the stucco?

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Yes, yes! I would change the format to make it read more easily and compliment the contents. In the next book I will include a table of contents, something which I totally forgot in the first. I’m satisfied with the artistic content but am considering a second edition that will just look and read better with a few more selections added in. Barring that, the next book will have a cleaner presentation. Publishing is an ongoing process so I’m guessing that you reach perfection after producing several hundred books!
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
My goal is for them to see the picture I’ve painted with words. If they come along on the ride through the story and have a good time, then I’ve succeeded. If they throw back their heads and belly laugh, even better. My work reflects everyday experiences (well in most cases) that most of us have had, and I write those from a humorous point of view. I hope the reader will see that there is humor and fun in almost every situation.

kansas-roundup-27d47213.jpg.885x491_q90_box-0,325,3000,1991_crop_detailWhat is your favorite part/chapter of your book/project?
I’ve long suspected that I was born in the wrong century. I love the story about the cattle roundup. On one of those shindigs, you just work yourself down to a stump while having a ton of fun and laughs. It’s not for everyone and I’ve met some cows that would also like to skip the experience, but if you ever get the chance to participate …
What is your favourite theme/genre to write?
Is there one subject you would never write about as an author? What is it?
Mmmmm! That a tough one. I think I could tackle almost anything, especially if it was research related, however if it required a lot of cruelty, really bad language or depravity, I think I might struggle a bit. If it had a higher meaning, that is, to be used as a reference or is written for a specific special interest group, then perhaps it would make the experience more palatable.
What book are you reading now?
I’m not reading anything right now. This is a somewhat vain attempt to keep focussed on my own writing. I’m not sure it’s working! However, when I want to escape I read mindless drivel that I can steam through in a day or so. There was a time when all I read was textbooks, even for enjoyment! I’m not so driven now, although I enjoy a good hematology text every now and then. I sound like a vampire!

Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?

Not at this time.
Do you see writing as a career?
I don’t think I’m disciplined enough to make a total career out of writing. I love it but I have a very busy life so I struggle with balancing all the things that I love to do. Now if someone gave me a huge publishing advance I’d strap myself to the desk and stay there until I finished the book or died trying.
Where do you see yourself in ten years?
Do you mean literally or figuratively? My husband and I have just moved to a village community in the country so I imagine we will still be here until they come to cart us off. Whether that’s in ten years, who knows. As for my writing, and I think that’s what you really wanted to know, I plan to have rounded out my technique and finished several books. I’m like a slow moving steam engine and I’m still building up that head of steam. Heaven help us when I reach warp speed! I’ve been incubating an idea for a children’s book series for years and I think I’d like to play with that next. However I also have an outline for a collaborative cookbook with my youngest daughter. There are lots of potential projects to keep me busy.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in you writing?
Discipline! To produce you have to sit there and write. I do a lot of fooling around – coffee, get comfortable, look outside (my window looks out on a green area where wild things pass by), sip coffee, get comfortable again, quick glance outside (was that a deer), check e-mail, call up writing files, sip coffee, think and key I some words and ideas, sip coffee, glance outside (yes it is and there’s another one), now it’s time to use the washroom……… Eventually I get some writing down, but it’s a struggle. It’s obvious that I need to throw out the coffee pot and move my office to the basement!
Have you ever hated something you wrote?
Not hated. I just knew I could do better. I tried my hand at fiction one time and my writing group advised me to kill off the husband of the main character early in the story. I really let him have it in a very gory way and when I read it to the group there was literal wincing. I may have gone a little overboard! Actually I really like my writing. I may be the only one who does, but the important thing is that it gives me joy!
What book do you wish you had written?
I love the writing of James A. Michener because he researched so well and was an excellent story teller. You can literally step into the story and stay there. I would be proud to say that I wrote “Centennial”. My friend, Sue Hyde, is writing a book about the old west and it’s fascinating. I love the characters and how she crafts the story. Every time she sends me pages, I can’t help being drawn into the story and it stays with me for a long time afterward. That’s the sign of a good author. I hope I can do that for my readers.
What is your best marketing tip?
Be bold. Ask for the business. Go for it! I’ll sit on the sidelines and watch. I suck at marketing!
What genre is your next project? What is it about?
The same genre.
Can you tell us about your upcoming book?

Draft 1 cover iconHere’s the text from the book cover.
“Things Were Going Fine Till We Hit the Rapids” is a collection of short stories and embedded poems, all based on real life experiences. The title has a double meaning, because we can literally hit the rapids on a boat ride down a river and we can metaphorically hit the rapids on our journey down the river of life. Barbie-Jo writes with both sensitivity and hilarity, sharing stories from her life and introducing characters who whose antics and experiences will have you laughing out loud.
How do we find your books, blog and bio?
Through my publisher, Dream Write Publishing http://www.dreamwrite.ca, or dreamwrite10@hotmail.com or you can simply e-mail me at countrygal@sasktel.net.

Blog Tour – Scarecrow…



Hay-men, mommets, tattie bogles, kakashi, tao-tao—whether formed of straw or other materials, the tradition of scarecrows is pervasive in farming cultures around the world. The scarecrow serves as decoy, proxy, and effigy—human but not human. We create them in our image and ask them to protect our crops and by extension our very survival, but we refrain from giving them the things a creation might crave—souls, brains, free-will, love. In Scarecrow, fifteen authors of speculative fiction explore what such creatures might do to gain the things they need or, more dangerously, think they want.

Within these pages, ancient enemies join together to destroy a mad mommet, a scarecrow who is a crow protects solar fields and stores long-lost family secrets, a woman falls in love with a scarecrow, and another becomes one. Encounter scarecrows made of straw, imagination, memory, and robotics while being spirited to Oz, mythological Japan, other planets, and a neighbor’s back garden. After experiencing this book, you’ll never look at a hay-man the same.
Featuring all new work by Jane Yolen, Andrew Bud Adams, Laura Blackwood, Amanda Block, Scott Burtness, Virginia Carraway Stark, Amanda C. Davis, Megan Fennell, Kim Goldberg, Katherine Marzinsky, Craig Pay, Sara Puls, Holly Schofield, Laura VanArendonk Baugh, and Kristina Wojtaszek.


 “Introduction” by Rhonda Parrish

“Scarecrow Hangs” by Jane Yolen

“Kakashi & Crow” by Megan Fennell

“The Roofnight” by Amanda C. Davis

“Skin Map” by Kim Goldberg

“A Fist Full of Straw” by Kristina Wojtaszek

“Judge & Jury” by Laura VanArendonk Baugh

“Waking from His Master’s Dream” by Katherine Marzinsky

“The Straw Samurai” by Andrew Bud Adams

“Black Birds” by Laura Blackwood

“Edith and I” by Virginia Carraway Stark

“Scarecrow Progressions (Rubber Duck Remix)” by Sara Puls

“Truth About Crows” by Craig Pay

“Two Steps Forward” by Holly Schofield

“Only the Land Remembers” by Amanda Block

“If I Only Had an Autogenic Cognitive Decision Matrix” by Scott Burtness


 RELEASE DATE: August 4, 2015

SERIES: Rhonda Parrish’s Magical Menageries

Official URL:

Direct library or bulk purchase available through World Weaver Press (contact publisher@worldweaverpress.com for rates).



Rhonda Parrish is driven by a desire to do All The Things. She has been the publisher and editor-in-chief of Niteblade Magazine for nearly eight years now (which is like forever in internet time) and is the editor of several anthologies including Fae, Corvidae, Scarecrow, and B is for Broken. In addition, Rhonda is a writer whose work has been in dozens of publications like Tesseracts 17: Speculating Canada from Coast to Coast, Imaginarium: The Best Canadian Speculative Writing (2012) and Mythic Delirium. Her website, updated weekly, is at rhondaparrish.com.


Andrew Bud Adams was raised by spider-men and turtle ninjas and ronin rabbits, who are now helping raise his own children. “The Straw Samurai,” inspired by them and the Japanese folk tale “The Tengu’s Magic Cloak,” is one of his first published retellings. When not wandering between fantasy villages or teaching college writing, he can be found on Twitter @andrewbudadams.

Whenever grownups asked young Laura Blackwood what she wanted to be when she grew up, she said “Published!” That dream finally came true—Black Birds is her first story to see print. Laura currently lives and works in Edmonton, Alberta, and tinkers with many more writing projects than is considered wise or healthy.

Amanda Block is a writer and ghostwriter based in Edinburgh, UK. A graduate of the Creative Writing Masters at the University of Edinburgh, she is often inspired by myths and fairy tales, frequently using them as a starting point to tell other stories. Amanda’s work has been featured in anthologies such as Modern Grimmoire, Stories for Homes, and World Weaver Press’ Fae. She has been shortlisted for the Bridport Prize and the Chapter One Promotions Short Story Competition. Amanda is currently working on her first novel. She can be found online at amandawritersblock.blogspot.co.uk.

Scott Burtness lives in Minnesota with his wife, Liz and their English Staffordshire-Boxer, Frank. He has it on good authority that he possesses all of the requisite parts to be considered human, and sincerely believes he’s taller when measured with the metric system. Scott’s debut novel, WISCONSIN VAMP, is available on Amazon.com. When not writing horror-comedy romps or sci-fi adventures, Scott enjoys bowling, karaoke, craft brews and afternoon naps. Follow him on Twitter (@SWBauthor). Don’t follow him down dark alleys.

Amanda C. Davis has an engineering degree and a fondness for baking, gardening, and low-budget horror films. Her work has appeared in Crossed Genres, InterGalactic Medicine Show, and others. She tweets enthusiastically as @davisac1. You can find out more about her and read more of her work at amandacdavis.com. Her collection of retold fairy tales with Megan Engelhardt, Wolves and Witches, is available from World Weaver Press.

Megan Fennell is a court clerk, cat owner, and writer of strange tales, currently living and working in Lethbridge, Alberta. Although loving magpies to the point of having two of them tattooed on her, it was the Danish myth of the Valravn that held her corvid-like attention span for this anthology. Her stories can also be found in Wrestling with Gods: Tesseracts 18, Tesseracts 17, OnSpec Magazine, and the charity anthology Help: Twelve Tales of Healing.

Kim Goldberg is an award-winning writer and author of six books. She is a winner of the Rannu Fund Poetry Prize for Speculative Literature and other distinctions. Her speculative tales and poems have appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies including Tesseracts 11, Zahir Tales, On Spec, Urban Green Man, Dark Mountain, Imaginarium, Here Be Monsters, Switched On Gutenberg and elsewhere. Her seventh book, Refugium, about people living with electrosensitivity, will be released in 2015. She lives in Nanaimo, BC, and online at PigSquashPress.com.

Katherine Marzinsky is a writer and student currently residing in New Jersey. She attends Kean University, where she is working toward an undergraduate degree with a major in English and a minor in Spanish. Her previous work has appeared in Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, A Cappella Zoo, Cease, Cows, and The Inanimates I story anthology.

Craig Pay is a short story author and novelist. He writes speculative fiction (usually). His short stories have appeared with a number of different magazines and anthologies. He is represented by John Jarrold. Craig runs the successful Manchester Speculative Fiction writers’ group. He enjoys Chinese martial arts and many other hobbies. You can visit him at craigpay.com.

Sara Puls spends most of her time lawyering, researching, writing, and editing. Her dreams frequently involve strange mash-ups of typography, fairy creatures, courtrooms, and blood. Sara’s stories have been published in Daily Science Fiction, The Future Fire, GigaNotoSaurus, Penumbra, World Weaver Press’s Fae anthology, and elsewhere. She also co-edits Scigentasy, a gender- and identity-focused spec fic zine. On Twitter, she is @sarapuls.

Holly Schofield’s work has appeared in many publications including Lightspeed, Crossed Genres, and Tesseracts. For more of her work, see hollyschofield.wordpress.com.

Virginia Carraway Stark started her writing career with three successful screenplays and went on to write speculative fiction as well as writing plays and for various blogs. She has written for several anthologies and three novels as well. Her novel, Dalton’s Daughter is available now through Amazon and Starklight Press. Detachment’s Daughter and Carnival Fun are coming later this year. You can find her on Twitter @tweetsbyvc, on Facebook Facebook.com/virginiacarrawaystark.

Laura VanArendonk Baugh was born at a very early age and never looked back. She overcame childhood deficiencies of having been born without teeth or developed motor skills, and by the time she matured into a recognizable adult she had become a behavior analyst, an internationally-recognized animal trainer, a costumer/cosplayer, a dark chocolate addict, and a Pushcart Prize-nominated author with a following for her folklore-based stories and speculative fiction. Find her at LauraVanArendonkBaugh.com.

Kristina Wojtaszek grew up as a woodland sprite and mermaid, playing around the shores of Lake Michigan. At any given time she could be found with live snakes tangled in her hair and worn out shoes filled with sand. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Wildlife Management as an excuse to spend her days lost in the woods with a book in hand. Now a mother of two little tricksters and their menagerie of small beasts, she continues to conjure bits of fantasy during the rare spell of silence. Her fairy tales, ghost stories, poems and YA fiction have been published by World Weaver Press (Opal, Fae, and Specter Spectacular), Far Off Places and Sucker Literary Magazine. Follow her @KristinaWojtasz or on her blog, Twice Upon a Time.

Mr. Yegpie the magpie, tweets as @YegMagpie on Twitter

Jane Yolen, often called “the Hans Christian Andersen of America”(Newsweek) is the author of well over 350 books, including OWL MOON, THE DEVIL’S ARITHMETIC, and HOW DO DINOSAURS SAY GOODNIGHT. Her books and stories have won an assortment of awards—two Nebulas, a World Fantasy Award, a Caldecott, the Golden Kite Award, three Mythopoeic awards, two Christopher Medals, a nomination for the National Book Award, and the Jewish Book Award, among many others. She has been nominated three times for the Pushcart Prize in Poetry. She is also the winner (for body of work) of the World Fantasy Assn. Lifetime Achievement Award, Science Fiction Poetry Association Grand Master Award, Catholic Library’s Regina Medal, Kerlan Medal from the University of Minnesota, the du Grummond Medal from Un. of Southern Missisippi, the Smith College Alumnae Medal, and New England Pubic Radio Arts and Humanities Award . Six colleges and universities have given her honorary doctorates. Her website is: http://www.janeyolen.com.

Rumble Coloring Contest 2015…Why not enter?

Rumble's First Scare

Today is the start of this year’s Rumble coloring contest. Download the coloring sheet from http://www.dreamwritepublishing.ca. You can mail your entry in and then either winner’s can opt for prizes to be mailed or personally awarded by the author – ME at Words in the Park, Sherwood Park, Alberta on 26th September.

Prize categories: 5-7 years, 8-10 years and 11-12 years.

Prizes include: Specially made Rumbles hats, a pair of one-off Rumble slippers (only small kids size 7-8), a squishy blue monster or a pink one, T-shirts or one make your own monster putty. And of course a copy of Rumble’s First Scare.http://www.dreamwritepublishing.ca/retail/books/rumbles-first-scare

Contest starts 1st August – http://www.dreamwritepublishing.ca


T-shirt back & front.

Rumble tshirt frontRumble tshirt back

A Writers Conundrum – Finding Time to Write..

To have inspiration for our writing we must observe life, to avoid our family and friends abandoning us we need to engage with them, to pay the bills we must usually work a day job, to maintain our word count or deadline we must organize writing time. So the question is, how can we juggle all of these demands on our time with failing at each one?

Finding the ‘perfect’ balance between these is always a challenge. You may be in the depths of a scene when a small hand lands on your lap, a teenager ‘must’ be taken to a friends house, your husband needs help with a project or dare I say it your boss needs something from you? We inevitably crumble and leave the narrative in the hope you will remember the details later? We may scramble to jot down that idea, phrase or even paragraph before being torn away. I have looked to other writers, famous or not, and tried to delve beyond the obvious and gleam an insight into their methods of finding time. There are numerous hints and tips populating the internet but in the end you know your life and its limitations best. You may get up extra early, stay awake until the breaking dawn or cram a few paragraphs into your lunch hour – whatever works for you and your writing – is the right way to go. The trick is how to organize your time productively.

How do you schedule your writing?

What time of day works best for you?

I have to admit my writing is not scheduled. I take advantage of any time I’m left alone and once absorbed find it difficult to let go. Weekend mornings are good for me as I get up early and have several hours while my daughter is still sleeping and my husband is playing about in the garage! Other times I can use are the evenings when I arrive early for writing group meetings and write until the allotted time. Other ‘escape’ opportunities do arise and I always take advantage of them: a cancelled appointment, the house to myself or the glory of a  writing retreat! Obviously, I dream of the day I can shut myself away with my laptop and not have to answer to anyone…it will happen I just need to be patient.

With my freelance work increasingly demanding more of my time, I have to split my writing with that of clients. Maybe I am wrong but I tend to complete a client’s work prior to my own. Having a deadline for a paying job and completing it is, to my mind, more important and vital: a) for repeated work b) for remuneration. That is not to say I believe my own writing is secondary, far from it. Within my writing group, Writers Foundation of Strathcona County, I am fortunate to have other writers who engage in an annual novel workshop. At the beginning of the year, when several of us have participated in NaNoWriMo and others are ready to share their first draft, we meet every month until June (sometimes longer). We section our novels and email them to each other, then edit and comment on the narrative. Then at month’s end email our editing and meet to discuss the stories. It is beta reading within a ‘safe’ environment if you will. This mutual assistance enables me to edit my current manuscript with the views of several other authors and a ‘faster’ editing process too.

Care to share your writing schedule or tips you found useful?

My writing area expands a little each year! Where do you write?

New Writing DEsk 003new writing deskPicture Wall

Anticipation For A Future Event Can Cloud Our Current Life…


Anticipation: the action of anticipating something; expectation or prediction

Synonyms: expectancy, expectation, excitement, suspense

We all feel the thrill and anticipation for upcoming vacations, special occasions and seasonal festivals. During the months and weeks prior, we build them up into something fantastic. Our increased expectation impairs our day-to-day activities. We have a ‘countdown’ to the event or day, creating an ever intensifying yearning for our days to pass quickly. It is, of course, human nature to look forward to a special occurrence – it is hard not to.

However, in doing so, we risk not enjoying the everyday events that might also be special. Our anticipation can cloud our minds to everything else. I admit I have a countdown to a longed-for vacation but I realized my folly this past weekend. I became so focused on a future date; I was blurring some important dates that occurred prior to ‘the’ date.

A special friend got married on Saturday and although the heat was unbearable for many the garden ceremony was wonderful, as the guests saw the happy couple become man & wife. Shade was sort by some guest under tall hedges; there were containers of ice with water bottles in them and tiny bottles of bubble liquid to blow into the still air. The reception was held in a small community hall and everyone suffered the heat to rejoice the marriage. This was a celebration of two incredibly well suited people and I was honoured to share their day.

On Sunday, I visited a friend who has spent many months researching my family tree. The information gathered is fascinating and thrilling. We go back to 1628 in England, where records stop for the most part. I now have a binder full of my ancestors for my father and mother’s family tree. It will be part of an extraordinary keepsake book, I am compiling for my siblings and for their descendants to pass down.

So my weekend held incredible memories and my ‘countdown’ was forgotten for a while. I was fully present and will reflect on these events favorably for many a year. Every day is precious we need to relish them fully.

In writing, we also create anticipation for our readers, propelling them forward in the narrative to the conclusion. We plan the climax of our novels but anticipation is an important part of keeping your readers interest. If we develop a story arc that will have our readers asking questions about what could happen next, we are succeeding in our creation.

How do you form anticipation in your novels?

Share your tips, excerpts you are proud of or examples you found thrilling.


Excerpt #4 – YA horror Story – Clickety Click…

monster claw

The following week, Alice asked hundreds of questions and tested out her claws and strong legs. Her eyes did not change to gold like her aunt’s but her night vision was clearer than a humans. She did not have super strength like her uncle although she could snap thick branches like twigs. After ten days, she began to wonder if she had a power.

“Don’t fret, Alice, your power will reveal itself soon enough. Get used to your new form and learn to control the transition back and forth.”

“I am Uncle, it is becoming easier each time but a power would be so exciting.”

Alice did not mention the temptation she felt when she was at school to change and scare the bullying boys that stood at the gates every morning. Their taunting of the younger children made her angry. She knew her family would be in jeopardy if she did change form; nevertheless, she wanted to scare the cruel boys and plotted to find a way.

Nearly fifteen days after her first transition, Alice found her power. She was helping her Uncle, haul tree trunks to the cottage for firewood. Super strength made the chore easy. As her Uncle cut through another tree, the thick trunk fell onto the pile of logs. Alice was sitting on one end flexing her claws and pulling the bark off. The log was pivoted in such a way that it catapulted Alice up into the air. She screamed in shock and heard her Uncle shout out. As she flailed her arms and legs twisting this way and that, she felt her skin extending. An instinct took over and Alice extended her arms outward. A thick membrane linked her arms and legs along the sides of her body. Alice looked down to see her Uncle far below waving at her. She was flying!

Alice soared into the clouds laughing delightedly at the one power she had thought she did not want. Her guardian’s advice of all the possible powers she might develop in the early days of her transition included flight. Alice thought back to her Ferris wheel ride and how terrified she was until high on the top of the wheel, viewing the mountains and forest, her amazement and wonder took over. She flapped her bat-like wings to gain more height and rose above the clouds. The air was crystal clear and fresher than she had ever breathed. It felt right to be high and free. A voice startled her. She turned quickly, instinctively drawing her arms inward. Her body plunged downward at an alarming rate. Alice screamed as she frantically tried to stretch out her wings again. Something gripped her arm and pulled her upward. She came face to face with a young mauve being with smiling eyes and impossibly larger shoulders.

“I have you. Calm down and breathe.”

“What…who are you?”

“All in good time, for now you need to spread those perfect wings and soar again.”

Alice opened her arms and the membrane caught the wind beneath them elevating her to the clouds again. She could not see the other Graffian through the cloud cover. She called out but there was no answer. Alice headed downward to find she did not recognize any landmarks below. How far have I come? Can I find my way back? Before panic took control of her, his voice sounded beside her.

“I will guide you back home. First time flying is it?”

“Well, yes it is. And thank you, I have no idea where I am.”

“Follow me.”

The Graffian soared in a perfect curve to the left and Alice turned to follow him although her flight was not as graceful. A million questions popped into her head but the Graffian was too far ahead for casual conversation. Ten minutes later, she spied the Ferris wheel and the colorful stalls of the fair. Feeling safer, Alice called to her rescuer.

“Thank you; I know how to get home now. Will you be coming back there too?”

“Alas no, I have somewhere else I need to be, but we will see each other again. My name is Totoran.”

“I’m Alice. Thank you again, Totoran.”

She watched him rise vertically with effortless ease and disappear into the clouds. Alice turned toward home wondering who this new Graffian was. She landed with a good thump on the graveled lane. I need to practice landing, that’s for sure! Alice transitioned into human form and walked back to her Aunt and Uncle’s cottage. They were both sitting by the fire drinking a dark liquid that smelt of herbs.

“You’ll never guess what happened, Auntie, Uncle?”

“Well there you are we were wondering why you were so long. What happened dear?”

“I met another one, like us. He was flying and caught me when I fell.”

“You fell? From where? Who was this being you met?”

“I was flying really high and then heard a voice. It startled me and I began to fall but he grabbed me and helped guide me home.”

“So who was this Graffian?”

“His name is Totoran. Do you know him?”

Alice was surprised at her guardian’s reaction at the name. They both bowed their heads and whispered words under their breath.

“What is it? What are you doing?”

“Come and sit here, Alice. We must tell you about the one you met.”

Alice sat between her Aunt and Uncle and listened fascinated at the story they relayed. That night in bed with sleep eluding her she thought of the Graffian named Totoran. He was the prince of the Graffian’s and special among them for having more than one power. Many believed he possessed all the powers making him a formidable Graffian and a future ruler of them all.


            Four weeks later, Alice was an adept flier and the transition from human to Graffian as easy as getting dressed. She kept her promise to her guardians and did not reveal their secret to anyone but she still planned to scare the bullies. She began standing in front of them as the younger children walked through the school gates. The three bullies taunted her and tried to push her but she stood her ground. Knowing her power and other form made her braver and more confident. Although she knew it was forbidden, one dark rainy night her opportunity presented itself.

The rain constantly poured all day and as the last bell sounded a rush of children shoved through the school doors in an effort to get to their parents vehicles before getting too wet. Alice did not mind the rain; after all, she could fly above it anytime she wanted. As she walked along the corridor and past the lockers, she heard voices shout out. She changed direction and peered through the gymnasium door to see the three bully’s pitching basketball loops. The coach was nowhere in sight. Biding her time, Alice sat quietly waiting for them to leave. Thirty minutes later the boys began walking toward the changing rooms and Alice ran to the rear door of the gymnasium. As she hoped, the boys exited through this door once they had dressed. The door led to a short cut used by many students during lunch breaks when they wanted to sneak out. The path went through a graveyard; it was perfect for her plan. With all three boys walking with their heads down under their hoodies, Alice transitioned and jumped out in front of them. They stopped at the sight of her larger clawed feet and gradually looked up together. They all let out a shrill scream and darted in all directions. Alice muffled her laughter. With a shake of her body and several shrugs of her shoulders, she reformed into her human form and ran home.

At supper, her aunt and uncle asked about her day and she answered with the usual mundane happenings of school life. She would have to keep her graveyard appearance a secret but it was only part of her plan. The next day the three boys were subdued and kept to themselves. Whispers began to circulate through the school canteen at lunch. Students were relaying a story of a monster in the graveyard that had attacked the three boys. They told their friends they had been lucky to escape. Alice smirked at the story and began her own story of the event. By late afternoon, the three boys were viewed as scary cats and afraid of their own shadows. From that day on the bullying stopped. Alice felt satisfied with herself and promised never to show herself again. But… never is a long time.


            Alice thought about Totoran from time to time over the following years but did not see him again. Her Uncle told her stories of the Graffian ruler and his son, who lived far away in the mountains. The legend grew with the telling.

With the passing years, Alice enhanced her flying, and became fully competent in diving, soaring and gliding. She made new friends in the town but her best friend was Bernadette. They shared their secret crushes, comforted each when a boy dumped them and to the outside world, Alice was normal. In the glen, she became her Griffian form, hunting on the wing, caring for the penned inhabitants and leaning her aunt’s secret recipes for the meat.

Her first encounter with the pens came one night when her uncle asked her to help him. It was the first time he allowed her to venture into the forest with him. Although Alice had tried to spy on the pens to see what they corralled a cloak of mist made it impossible. Her uncle instructed her to stay behind him and stay silent. As they walked, Alice could hear low grunting. Her uncle stopped and crouched down, putting his hand out and motioning her to stay low too. As Gregor changed form, Alice changed too. The grunting ceased and soft blowing sounds replaced them. Alice watched as her uncle crawled forward on all fours and blew through his nostrils. Sweeping a bush aside, Uncle Gregor revealed wooden pens in three rows. Alice shook her heads trying to make sense of the creatures inside the structures. They looked like a combination of pigs and ducks. Alice whispered to her uncle.

“Uncle Gregor, what are they?”

“These are called quiplets. Their meat is extraordinarily high in protein. For Griffians that is essential for transitioning.”

“Where do they come from? I’ve never seen anything like them before.”

“It is thought when Griffians came to earth…”

Alice grabbed her uncle’s arm and looked into his glinting eyes.

“We are aliens?”

“Well I suppose you could say we are but as we populated earth long before humans arrived I think we can lay claim to be being first. After all humans were dumped here thousands of years after we called it home.”

Alice shook her head trying to make sense of the words her uncle was saying. Humans were dumped here…by what? Griffians were here first and came from another planet?

             “Uncle Gregor can you please explain, I’m confused. We are taught humans are descended from apes not aliens.”

“Well that’s where the lines are blurred, Alice. Humans were left here, as an experiment but unfortunately, the race that brought them became extinct leaving the poor humans to fend for themselves. We tried to interact with them but because of our changing forms, they hunted and killed many of us. Legends of monsters were passed by word of mouth and the few Griffians left went into hiding. We have hidden ourselves ever since.”

“Uncle, that’s horrid. Griffians could have helped them.”

“Yes I suppose but that is not what happened. Now can you pick up those two buckets and bring them to the first pen?”

Alice carried the buckets following behind her uncle who carried two buckets in each paw. The quiplets began snorting and pushing each other in an effort to reach the bucket’s contents. It was a white granular mush with bright red globular balls within it. Gregor showed Alice how to tip the contents into rectangular trays set into the wooden fencing. The quiplets snorted, gobbled and shoved as they ate. As Alice watched, they grew quarter of a size.

“Uncle, are they suppose to grow like that?” It’s amazing.”

“Every time they eat they grow so once they have increased twelve times they are ready for processing.”

Alice looked from her uncle to the quiplets realizing she had eaten their meat for years. She admonished herself for being sentimental, after all, she hadn’t given beef or chicken a second thought when she ate at her friends houses. With the creatures fed Alice helped refresh their water and pitch new dried grass into the pens. With a healthy mauve glow to her leathery skin, she walked back to the cottage ready for supper. Before leaving the cover of the forest, uncle and niece transformed back into human form.

Her aunt was brushing butter over thick meaty slabs as they entered the kitchen.

“Supper will be in twenty minutes, time enough to wash up.”

Alice wanted to discuss the quiplets but her aunt’s headshake told her to wash up first. With clean pajamas on, Alice joined her aunt and uncle. After her first bite, she could not hold her excitement.

“Auntie, quiplets are amazing creatures. Why didn’t you let me see them sooner?”

“Well we thought it best to let you learn about your own transformed body first before adding others to the mix.”

“I couldn’t believe my eyes when they grew like that.”

Alice looked at her plate. Her aunt nodded at her silent question.

“All meat you eat in this house is quiplet meat, Alice. The protein is important for your body, to keep it strong and healthy.”

With supper eaten, the dishes washed and full stomachs, the three of them sat in the living room playing cards until eyes began to close. Biding each other good night sleep was quick to envelope the cottage inhabitants. Loud screaming and heavy crashes woke Alice in the middle of the night. She heard her aunt yell her name screaming for her to flee. Afraid and uncertain, Alice transitioned before leaping from her bedroom window and ascending as fast as she could. When she glanced down black shapes were swarming around the cottage and flashlight beams shone in all directions among the tree line. I should go back and help them. Alice hovered watching and hoping her uncle and aunt would manage to escape. She looked at the shapes hurrying about beneath her and realized they were police. When she looked at the road, she saw multiple vehicles with blue and red flashing lights blocking the lane’s entrance. As long as Aunt Cattrine and Uncle Gregor do not transition, they will be fine. Why would the police raid the cottage though? Alice flew in circles above the frantic scene below her. After a while, the police personnel walked back to their vehicles and drove away. She hadn’t seen any sign of her guardians and she feared they had been taken. Alice flew in ever decreasing circles making sure there were no police personnel near the cottage then landed lightly on her bedroom windowsill. Once transitioned, Alice tiptoed to the door and listened. The cottage was quiet. When she opened the bedroom door, her hand instinctively covered her mouth to stop her scream of horror. Mauve slime and red blood splattered the stairway. There were indentations in the walls where bodies must have slammed into them and the banister railings hung in mid air. Cautious to keep as quiet as possible, Alice crept down the stairs, willing her guardians to be secreted somewhere in the building.

The living room and kitchen were in disarray, furniture tossed in every direction and more slime evident. Tremors began to shake Alice’s body. Where are they? Are they okay? What do I do now? Alice’s heart, beat rapidly as she peered into likely hiding places to find them all empty. She whispered her guardian’s names but received no answer. She was alone. Sinking to her knees she cried until her throat was sore and her sleeves damp. Eventually, Alice stood up, locked the doors and closed the windows then retreated to her bedroom and hid under the bedclothes.

Daylight dancing on her eyelids woke her the next morning. She listened hoping for noises from the kitchen but the cottage was silent. After dressing, she went down to the kitchen and began tidying up. By noon, she had returned all the furniture to its rightful place, washed the walls and floors. Hunger made her stop. She made a meat sandwich and sat drinking a herbal tea wondering what to do. A crunching of the gravel outside halted her final bite of her snack. Alice rushed into the pantry and closed the door. Through a gap in the wooden door, she watched to see who the visitor might be. A young man entered the back door. He was vaguely familiar but Alice knew he was not someone she knew from school. Alice saw the visitor walk across the kitchen directly toward her. She crept backwards admonishing herself for hiding in the enclosed place. There was no way out.

“Alice are you in there? I will not hurt you, I promise.”

Before she realized she had confirmed her hiding place, Alice spoke.

“Who are you? What do you want?”

“You probably don’t remember me, I’m Totoran. We met several years ago – in flight if you remember.”

“Totoran! Why are you here? The police took my Aunt and Uncle. I don’t know what to do.”

“We received word they were taken but you escaped. I’ve come to collect you and take you somewhere safe. There is no guarantee they will not be back to find you. It is best we leave quickly.”

Alice opened the pantry door. Totoran smiled as she appeared.

“Do you need to collect anything from your room before we go? You may not be able to return for a long time.”

With a few belongings in a backpack, Alice returned to the kitchen where Totoran sat flicking his fingers and generating small flames.

“That’s a cool trick. My Uncle can do that when he’s transitioned but not as a human. How do you do it?”

“I just do…never thought about it until now. Are you ready, we should go before it gets too dark we have quite a trip ahead of us. We need to change form first.”