Do Your Characters Talk to You?


Writers sometimes get intimately involved with their characters. We will be addressing the topic of author-character communication.  The “experts” tell you that you must know your characters when writing. That’s true, but how do you interact with them and do you talk to them? (There are doctors that treat people like us). There are a number of character trait forms to help you in most writing books, and there is also the back of an envelope. To be successful with your story you need interesting characters the reader can relate to and get behind. The characters must be believable, do things that are “in-character”, and right for that particular character, even if outlandish. It is a very good idea to really know your characters, especially the hero or protagonist. You need to “get into that characters head and live and see things through his / her eyes. Next, your characters need to talk to you as well. Have a dialog with your main characters to help drive your story. (I wouldn’t mention this conversation to too many people—they might outfit you with a new white padded jacket).

Below is a series of questions for consideration when working with your characters. I hope they make you think and consider how well you know your characters before you try and write them into situations they have to get out of.

When you write your characters, do you have a character profile and use it?


Do you talk to your characters when writing?


How well do you know your characters before and when you write?


Do your characters talk to you and if so, how?


Do your characters lead you in the story or do you have the story pretty well established and they follow suit?


If you talk to your characters, do you talk to them out loud or just in your mind?


During the writing process, stories sometimes change, do your characters drive this or do you just get other ideas?


Do your characters change during the story or just solve the mystery?


How do you develop your characters? Do they evolve or do you have a plan for them?


Does setting play a part of your characters personality?


Are your characters real people to you when you write?


We want the reader to like our characters, at least the good guys, how do you do that?


Do you think about your story and the characters when doing other things and not writing?


Have you ever been out in public and looking at a place or see something you could use in your story and start to discuss it with your leading character? Do people look at you strangely if you do this?


If your characters talk to you, what do you talk about?


Have you ever had an argument with one of your characters?


Do you take medication for this?


Remember, your characters work for you and they don’t cost much in pay and benefits, so treat them nice.


Remember: There are meds for this condition and doctors who treat people like us.



Have you ever rode the rails?

0Barb 028

Have you ever rode a long journey on a train? It’s a blast.


My love for the train goes way back to my grandpa who had been an engineer for the Milwaukee Road and drove the Hiawatha from Minneapolis to Chicago and points beyond. My dad loved the train. He brought me twice to Chicago over the Thanksgiving long weekend when I was fifteen and sixteen years old.

Dad with my boys. 1978

Looking out across the plains and watching the world go by will always be in my memory. I remember riding in the dome car and eating in the dining car as well as having a soda in the lounge.  Both trips, we spent two nights in Chicago. Dad knew his way around Chicago. We traveled all over the city via the L-train. It was so much fun to be alone with my dad.


The old depot in Duluth, MN, also has train rides. One year for our anniversary, we rode the pizza train! It brought us to and from Two Harbors, traveling along the coast of Lake Superior. It came so close to the water, that I swear I saw fish swim.

When my husband and I went to Norway and Sweden, we took the train to northern Norway, transferred to a ferry and then enjoyed the fjords. The trip was marvelous.

Currently, my husband and I are planning a train trip across the Canadian Rockies in 2018 onboard a train. I’m excited.


My next book is an historical mystery which is set on a Zephyr train during the fall of 1943.  A body is found in the Chicago rail yard. Come and ride along with the passengers and enjoy the dining car and lounge while my two characters, Brita and Ron, search for the killer.  It is titled, BODY ON THE TRACKS. It’s scheduled for publication by the end of the year. Please sign up for my newsletter on my website.



Barb’s Books

I’m saying ‘thank you’ to all who post images online.




Aloha Me!

Stephen Buehler CCWC2015 - 2It’s that time of year again. Time to prepare for Left Coast Crime. This year it’s in Hawaii. It’s called Honolulu Havoc – March 16-19.

Having the conference in Hawaii is great and it’s not.

honoluluhavocbannerOne of the down sides is that it’s expensive. It’s a 6 hour flight from Los Angeles and even longer from other parts of the country. The only way to get there is to fly. Usually you have an option to drive and perhaps save some money. The Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort has five pools and 20 restaurants and bars and 22 waterfront acres. It sounds great. But it also sounds expensive and it is. The convention rate is $209. Next year in Reno it’s only $82.

I’m willing to suck it up and pay these rates. But it also means it will probably be the only conference I go to out of state this year. (Bouchercon is in Toronto).  More importantly, a great number of my friends and fellow authors won’t be attending. As I look at the Attendees list, there is a great number of people I’m not familiar with. I know I will meet new people and that’s a good thing but I’d also like to hang out with some of the folks I usually see at conferences too.4-people-group-with-me

I’m on a panel: Performing Sleuths: Standing Ovations. I assume I’m on the panel as my protagonist in The Mindreading Murders is a magician. But that novel is not published yet whereas the other panelists have published novels with their performing characters. I kind of feel like a fraud. But I’m going to let the audience know what the circumstances are and go from there. Even though my novel isn’t published yet, I feel I can contribute to the discussion.

I’ve been talking about my concerns about attending. But there’s a lot of positives as well. My writers group, Travis Richardson and Sarah M. Chen will be there. We have put together an Author/Reader Connection where 6 people can meet up with us on Friday night and we will talk about how the three of us have had over 55 short stories published in recent years. Plus we buy our guests the first round of drinks and give them some books.

Also, by the time LCC rolls around, I will have The Mindreading Murders out to my beta readers. After the conference, when I’ve incorporated their notes, I’ll be ready to send that out to agents and publishers.

Another thing I like about Left Coast Crime is that I get to be a big fish in a small sea. Since only about 500 people generally attend LCC I can stand out more. Bouchercon typically has over 1,500 attendees and I tend to get lost in that big crowd.airline-jet-in-clouds

Even though I put the 6 hour flight as a negative, it’s also a positive. I get to read and write undisturbed for 6 hours!

Here’s the thing I tend to overlook – the conference is in HAWAII!!! Where’s there a beach and sun and ocean and new places to explore. My perfect vacation always includes a beach.The End!

Yes, I have some trepidations about the conference but the closer it gets the more excited I’m becoming.

How do you feel before a conference?  Does the location really matter to you?

*       *      *

Stephen Buehler’s short fiction has been published in numerous on-line publications including, Akashic Books. His Derringer Nominated short story, Not My Day appeared in the Last Exit to Murder anthology. Seth’s Big Move will appear in the LAst Resort anthology in April 2017. He is currently revising his novella, The Mindreading Murders, into novel length. It’s about a magician, psychics and of course, murder. He is also currently seeking a home for his mystery/comedy P.I. novel, Detective Rules. By day he is a script/story consultant, magician and lives with a dog named Seymour.





“JUST” is just a crutch


stephen-buehler-headshot-2-red-backgroundI’ve completed my last draft of DETECTIVE RULES. It’s now being read by a beta reader. After that I’ll make changes, get it proofread then it’s off to the publisher who has shown interest. This blog isn’t about what I’ll do in the interim, but what I did during that last on crutches

I search for my crutch words. Words that I constantly use without thinking. Words that make my writing mundane, ordinary and repetitive. The words that can be eliminated. Using them that many times is just ridiculous. When I read the manuscript to myself, even out loud, I don’t hear it. My mind skims over those words.

After some contemplation I’ve discovered one reason I use words like, just, very, little, probably, seem, like, almost, – it’s that I use them as modifiers.  I’m subconsciously afraid to commit to a statement. For example, “I’m a little bit mad.” In that sentence I used, “little” and “bit” as modifiers as if I won’t let the character be truly mad. I’m sure it has something to do with my real life. I don’t like to admit to someone that I’m mad for fear it will make the other person not like me or the situation uncomfortable.    words image

“Was” and “were” are two other words I look for. Of course we all know “was” is a passive verb and not demonstrative. (I so wanted to use “very” in that last sentence.) I try to replace the “to be” verbs with active verbs that give each sentence more punch.

The cool thing about finding and replacing crutch words is that 80% of the time, the replacing or eliminating of such words makes the sentence better. The other 20% of the time, the sentence is about the same, except that now you’ve eliminated a tedious word.

In DETECTIVE RULES I had new crutch words to search and destroy; guilt, (he did feel guilty about what happened to his clients,) breeze, (for some reason I thought the description of the environment was improved if there was a breeze happening), down (as in down town, down the hall, run down, feeling down,). Those words seemed important to this particular story and they were, but not nearly as much as I did use them.

scratched out words

Will I try not to use my crutch words on the next manuscript? I’ll try a little bit. But for me, it’s better to put down on paper all that flows out and do the eliminating at a later time. That’s just the way I am.

Do you have any crutch words? If yes, when do you eliminate them?

#  #  #

Stephen Buehler’s short fiction has been published in numerous on-line publications including, Akashic Books. Not My Day appeared in the Last Exit to Murder anthology and A Job’s a Job in Believe Me or Not An Unreliable Anthology.  He is expanding his novella, The Mindreading Murders about a magician into a novel and shopping around his mystery/comedy P.I. novel, Detective Rules. On top of all that he is a script consultant, magician and dog owner.


Promote Your Book in 10 Steps by Cher’ley

This Blog by Cher’ley Grogg

Books do not sell themselves. We have to get out there and get our names known and sell those books. Some of these you already practice and some of them are perhaps new to you.

The Internet has made us much more involved in our own marketing.

  1. Websites and Blogs
  2. Join a Blog Group
  3. Promote Your Site
  4. Market your book-in person
  5. Book Reviews Help
  6. Have a Book tour
  7. Use Social Media
  8. Focus on Twitter
  9. Guest Blogging
  10. Create a Book Trailer

1. Create A Website

website ideas

The first thing you’ll need in promoting your book is a website, preferably one that includes a blog. There are a lot free ones, and they are drag and drop, which means easy set-up. I use Web (previously Free Web) and WIX. I’m sure there are other free ones. My Website.  I am listing some of my links in case any of you have any questions or want to see how I did them.


2. Join a Blog Group

Just like many of you have done here on Writing Wranglers and Warriors. This way you have many people helping to promote your blogs, and therefore your books. Sometimes it’s time consuming, especially when you have to read and share everyone’s blog, but where else can you get so much free promotion? Our Blog Group

3. Promote your Site and your Group

An engaging website is just the beginning. Now you have to get out there and promote it. Choose one or two of these social networking sites and dive in. With a little experimentation, you’ll find the ones that work for you. On our blog site, it’s easy to promote it, there’s buttons for the most popular and some less popular ones. My Facebook Fan Page 

4. Don’t Forget your Local Communities

With all the focus on online book promotion, don’t forget to physically market your book at home. Get your friends, family and churches involved. Local communities might be more intrigued in your work because it’s coming from one of their own. And it’s far easier to break into the local media than it is to get reviewed by the New York Times. Though it takes time and work to make contacts and set up events, the results can be effective and satisfying. I truly wish I were home more to do this, but hey, the rest of you can.

5. Reviews Help

Contact people you know who have read your book and ask them for reviews. You can also offer free copies of your books for a review. I tried having an Amazon give-a-way for this reason, but didn’t get the reviews I had hoped for, but I think others have been more successful at this. Stamp Out Murder Reviews  I could really use some more reviews-Hint/Hint.

6. Plan a Mini Book Tour

It’s up to the author to go out there and make things happen, to get the word out and get the book noticed, unless you are a really big name. No one is going to do it for you.” If you have a little money and some good contacts, take the initiative and set up readings in a few cities. Here’s how one woman did it. EIREANN LORSUNG

7.  Use Social Media

Pinerest, Tribber, and Google + are getting more and more attention, but there is still the many phases of Facebook. You know it’s important to reach as many contacts as possible.  Fans of Cher’ley Grogg  Tribber 

8. Focus on Twitter


Social media and other marketing gurus have taken to using the phrase “discoverability”—the ability for potential audiences to  find you and your book. It is Twitter’s capacity to make you “discoverable” that makes it so appealing. Cherley@Twitter

9. Guest Blogging

Blog Machine
Blog Machine (Photo credit: digitalrob70)

Check around. Many blogs could use a guest blogger sometimes. We have even used guest bloggers on our site and we have 18 regular bloggers. Blogs are a great way to promoter your book. I did a guest blog for Nancy Jardin that I enjoyed reading again. I have done several, but this was the first one that came up in my google search.




10. Create a Book Trailer

They are not that hard to make and they get a little attention. The technology doesn’t have to be fancy if you have a good concept. In fact, simple is better if you’re doing it yourself. I enjoyed making the two I made, and I need to make two more. One of the things I’ve learned is keep it short. If you enjoy my book trailers, please go to You Tube and click like, so I can get a little extra clout. Thanks

Stamp Out Murder Book Trailer

The Secret in Grandma’s Trunk Book Trailer

Remember to go to You Tube and click on like. Thanks again.

**I have two questions. What do you do to promote your books, or projects? Would you like for me to do another blog about promotion? **

Cher’ley’s Books are listed below and on sale at Amazon and local bookstores. And she has a new one that is freshly published with 11 other authors. 

Stamp Out Murder”.

The Secret in Grandma’s Trunk” This is an especially good book for your Tween Children and Grandchildren.

The Journey Back-One Joy at a Time   and the B&W Edition of The Journey BackThe JourneyBack 3


Boys Will Be Boys   

The Joys and Terrors of Raising Boys-An Anthology

Fans of Cher'ley Grogg,AuthorAnd please join me on my Facebook Fanpage, that’s managed by one of my most faithful fans: Cindy Ferrell

Here’s a link to Cher’ley’s WEBSITE


This is a guest blog from Linda’s site and Alan’s site

New fangled techniques

12Feb2014This post is by Nancy Jardine

Today, some authors are a mite concerned about whether or not print books are going to still be around in the near future, the texts having been supplanted by the ebook revolution. We’re in that state of flux just now where many novels, and non-fiction books, are available only as eBooks.  Some are avilable in both formats- print and ebook – as mine are. Some older print books are being digitised to ensure the content is not lost, but that measure is also designed to make some precious books available to more readers. Giving more people the opportunity to read material that would otherwise only be seen by a select few in major world libraries has to be a fantastic thing. Technology means change and so it has been over the centuries.

On Wednesday 28th May, I’ll be quaking in my shoes when I’m T.V. interviewed  about my novel  TOPAZ EYES prior to sitting in my glad rags at the Awards Dinner in London for the finals of THE PEOPLE’S BOOK PRIZE 2014. The ‘black tie’ dinner is being held in the Guildhall of The Worshipful Company of Stationers’ and Newspaper Makers. That’s quite a mouthful so I set myself the task of finding out more about the venue. It’s often referred to as ‘The Stationers’ Company’– much easier to say and remember.
But what is it?

‘The Stationer’s Company’ is the City of London Livery Company for the Communications and Content industries.

insideThere are 108 livery companies in London, each representing a discrete profession or trade. Medieval tradesmen joined together to promote and protect their trades and formed Livery Companies to regulate this. The Stationers’ Company is almost unique for a 600-year-old company, in that over 90% of its members are actively involved in the Communications and Content industries. The majority of the members work in or supply the paper, print, publishing, packaging, office products, newspaper, broadcasting and online media industries.
Why ‘Stationers’?

600 years ago, London was full of itinerant craftsmen. However, the manuscript writers and illuminators decided to set up stalls or ‘stations’ around St Paul’s Cathedral. They became known by the nickname ‘Stationers’. In 1403, the Mayor and Aldermen of the City of London approved the formation of a fraternity or Guild of Stationers (booksellers who copied and sold manuscript books and writing materials, and limners who decorated and illustrated them). Printers, having come to England in the late 15th Century, joined The Stationers’ Company during the early 16th century. (It took a while for them to be recognised) By the mid-16th century, the printers had virtually supplanted the manuscript trade – a parallel with what is occurring now where ebook technology is supplanting print works.

In 1557, the Guild received a Royal Charter of Incorporation and in 1559, the right to wear a distinctive livery.

For more information try this  link

The guild based itself at Stationers’ Hall, in Ave Maria Lane, a step away from St. Paul’s Cathedral.

At the dinner will be 12 finalists, of which I’m one, for the FICTION category. There are also a similar number of finalists for each of the non-fiction  and children’s categories. Publishers and other dignitaries will be attending- author Fredrick Forsyth, as patron of The People’s Book Prize, will be officiating at  the event.

The PUBLIC voting for the finals runs from 21st to 28th May at 10 am UK time, at which point the votes are collated and kept secret till the dinner on the evening of the 28th. It will be a very nervous situation sitting there and waiting for that envelope to be opened. The finalists are interviewed in ‘The Green Room’ prior to the dinner so that is also a cause for some trepidation.

I’m awed that my ancestral dynsasty based mystery thriller TOPAZ EYES has achieved finalist status but for it to be the ultimate winner I need as many votes as possible. All it takes is an email address and a lot of supporters. The final round is a new count, so even if you voted for me in the earlier round, you can vote again for Topaz Eyes in the finals.

Thank you and feel free to share, the more votes the merrier I will be – of course, the champagne might help give a bit of buzz as well 😉

It’s only Saturday and I’m really nervous already…got to write that interview speech. (Thank goodness it’s for max 1 minute)

Enjoy your weekend.

This is the link to VOTE:

 Topaz Eyes is available in print and ebook formats from: PBP

Amazon US

Crooked Cat Bookstore
Barnes And Noble

Youtube trailer video:



doris curiosity






This post written and copyrighted by Doris McCraw


Auguste Rodin’s sculpture ‘ The Thinker‘ always comes to mind when anyone talks about thinking. We all do it. It is as natural as breathing.

English: A photo of The Thinker by Rodin locat...
English: A photo of The Thinker by Rodin located at the Musée Rodin in Paris (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This weekend I experienced  both extremes of thinking, over thinking and under or not thinking. In the first instance, I was in Victor, Colorado for a murder mystery.  The participants spent the day searching for clues to a couple of murders and an arson. For those who follow mysteries, there is usually a number of red herrings thrown in to keep you guessing. As the day wore on, you could tell those who were so determined to get it right. They were the ones who had to think about every clue and its many mutations. Sometimes, while fun, you can over think your way into obsession. You are so far into the circumstances you miss the point.

English: The Victor Hotel in Victor, Colorado
English: The Victor Hotel in Victor, Colorado (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The next day while at the bookstore, I purchased a couple of magazines. I expressed my disappointment at the condition of a last copy of one of the magazines. It was one I liked , but torn in a couple of places. The staff sympathized with me, but there was not much they could do. People come in and read the magazines and then put them back, sometimes not in the pristine shape they originally were. The staff then proceeded to tell me of a woman they caught cutting photos out of the magazines and then replacing them on the shelf.  When they confronted her, she did not see any problem with what she was doing. The store had her purchase all the ones she had damaged. It was over $100.00 worth.


The point is, we sometimes over think the projects we are working on. They have to be perfect, we keep finding ways to fix or add to what we are doing. On the other extreme, we sometimes just throw a project together just to get it out-of-the-way.  Both extremes can be detrimental to what we intend to do in our lives and careers. The key to succeeding is a balance between the two. Make your writing the best you can, but sometimes you have to let it go so you can move to the next one.

Here is to writing projects that have grown up and left the nest and to the new ones that are incubating as we read.  Happy writing, without  obsessing or slacking.

“Film and Photography on the Front Range” (Regional History Series): Colorado Springs, CO. Pikes Peak Library District 2012


What you wish for…


We’ve all heard variations of the Chinese proverb “be careful what you wish for, as you just might receive it.” Personally I found there were many things that I wouldn’t mind being burdened with, such as a clean house, more money, paid mortgage. Then of course there are the truer things like a healthy family, a happy child, financial security.

One of the things I wished for since I was a child was to become a published writer. As I grew up, more practical matters took hold and I earned degrees in business and law. Instead of a traditional law practice, I worked as a consultant and traveled the US working with hospitals and physician groups. I loved the job and collected many “characters,” plot ideas, names, and settings along the way.Willow4_small

After my husband and I adopted our daughter from China in 2002, I stopped working outside the home and learned to become a mom. As part of my sanity-retention program I took my writing seriously. And I knitted. A lot. This was my first real understanding of the Chinese proverb. I love my beautiful girl but the adjustment of going from no children to having a one-year-old was huge and at times difficult.

After years of writing, rewriting, editing, and querying, my first novel was published in 2012. Whew. Mission accomplished. Or not. As an unknown, first time author my job became and still is marketing. This has been more difficult than I imagined. The book is so personal to me that marketing is rather like showing off your baby not knowing if people will ooh and aah or think that its diaper needs changing. I’ve also learned that the process is more about marketing myself than the book, which is uncomfortable.

So I face the proverb again. I have what I wanted, a published mystery, but I am struggling to accept the challenges that come with it. In addition to the marketing, there is Farwell-Shadowlands-Final Cover.inddthe next book, and the next, and the next. I know I have more than one book in me but now it’s time to prove it. When I attended Malice Domestic in May I realized that I was already behind in getting the next book to print. I’m still writing the first draft when it should be almost done if not with the publisher. I’ve been struggling with this reality ever since as I write as fast as I can.

Of course the marketing of the first book is ongoing and never-ending. I’m taking a course on how to use Goodreads and am having a new website created. As part of this process I had some professional photos taken. I hope they are engaging enough to draw people to my site and my book, and at the same time I am delighted that my new wrinkles weren’t caught on camera.

Now I have a new goal, to be a successfully published author of a mystery series. The draft of the second book is chugging along and my new website should be finished in the next few weeks. I had a short story published in an anthology that was released last week, thus doubling my writing credentials.

We’ll see what the Chinese proverb makes of that.

AHE New Cover

Farwell-Shadowlands-Final Cover.indd

Satisfaction by Cher’ley

This post by Cher’ley Grogg

Chocolate in almost any form is great! Cake, candy bars, cookies, fudge, cupcakes, chocolate milk, chocolate ice cream and my favorite chocolate yogurt. (Fudge Recipe at the end of this blog) Chocolate activates endorphin in our brains and this causes us to have a feeling of satisfaction.

Another form of satisfaction is being in contact with people who would love to read your book.

If you have a computer, phone, Kindle, Ipad or anything electronic and if you are my friend you know I just did my first Kindle book give-a-way. I set my goal at 50 and I gave-a-way  209.  I am very satisfied with that amount.

This was my process:

  1. Decided the date and how many days
  2. Started contacting people with blogs (by contacting I mean begged)
  3. Changed my mind twice on the date
  4. Contacted more people with blogs
  5. Set the date with Amazon
  6. Contacted more people with blogs (finally reaching about a dozen)

Satisfaction comes from having friends who care and want to help each other. Here is a list of my wonderful friends who featured me on their blogs.

Drumroll-In please, in no particular order: 

I want to thank each of these lovely people for featuring me on their blogs.

 Linda’s Blog

 Nancy’s Blog

Kate’s  Blog

 Mike’s Blog

Neva’s Blog

 Doris’s Blog

 Allan’s Blog

Ginger’s Blog

 Lisa’s Blog

  Janet’s Blog

Hilary’s Blog

 Cher’ley’s Amazon Page 

I attended and shared each blog as much as possible. I also had several friends who shared the links that I put up on my various social media pages.

The next thing I did was to check to see what my give-a-way tally was about 3 or 4 times a day.

I checked twice a day to see how I was ranking in sales in the Action and Adventure category. I ended up ranking in the top 100 of ebooks sales.

It was a hard/easy process. I was excited through the whole process. It was also nerve-racking and time consuming. I don’t know yet if I will do it again. I am hoping to get some sales and some reviews from the give-a-way.

I want to thank everyone for bearing with me on the continual posts about my “Free Kindle Book” and thank everyone who downloaded it. I am grateful and satisfied.

**Have you ever put your book up for free? How did it go? What gives you Satisfaction? **

Easy & Delicious Fudge

Easy Chocolate Fudge


  • 6 minsCooking:
  • 5 minsLevel:
  • EasyCooling:
  • 120 minsYields:
  • 24 servings



LINE 8- or 9-inch square baking pan with foil.COMBINE morsels and sweetened condensed milk in medium, heavy-duty saucepan. Warm over lowest possible heat, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat; stir in nuts and vanilla extract.

SPREAD evenly into prepared baking pan. Refrigerate for 2 hours or until firm. Lift from pan; remove foil. Cut into 48 pieces.

Cher’ley’s Books are listed below and on sale at Amazon and local bookstores. 

Stamp Out Murder”.

The Secret in Grandma’s Trunk” This is an especially good book for your Tween Children and Grandchildren.

Fans of Cher'ley Grogg,AuthorAnd please join me on my Facebook Fanpage, that’s managed by one of my most faithful fans: Cindy Ferrell

Here’s a link to my WEBSITE

Outside the …box? Maybe just out of my writer’s chair.

For CCThis post is by Nancy Jardine.

Having fun out of my writer’s chair.

Sometimes, I have just got to try something new. For a little thrill. To stir the white/grey/brown sludge that’s meant to be my brain. And let’s not forget to stir and stretch my real live muscles and tendons (some of those are getting a bit creaky and resistant until pushed), and my imaginative ones as well.

I recently went to a local writer’s group for the first time ever and was a dismal failure. The person leading the day gave a few prompt words- situation / basic plot/main character/ personal attribute of secondary character. The exercise was timed to around ten minutes. I set to and scribbled, quite happy that the words were flowing. I filled a Letter/A4 sized page in the time allotted, but when it came to read out to the group I had included none of the important prompt words.

18243339_sWas the coffee shop mentioned? Nope. Was the computer virus a core part of the work? Err…only sort of. Was the daughter named or even written in properly with her naivety mentioned? Nope. Her relationship to her parent, the main protagonist? Er…nope. Basically I sucked at writing flash fiction…that is, without any editing at all.

Why? Because I was so keen to get on with it I had not really listened to the criteria, and to the purpose of the set piece. But in my favour, I had not attempted anything like it for years, and the excellent work that was read out around me by my fellow participant writers was honed through regular practise (they meet every week). With redrafts, that piece of writing could have improved. The words were there and I had written a basic story, but just not what was given as criteria.

That short foray made me realise that as a writer I need to broaden my horizons, and yet focus much better. Keep to the main aims in mind – although I think I will always be a writer of novels rather than short, or extremely short stories. It also brought home the value of redrafting and editing when there is something concrete to work on.

segwayAnother experience lately was much more physical and yet, in some ways, I can see a more successful writing outcome appearing from it. The time frame of an hours’ duration was much the same though the activity was vastly different.

Back to the needing and liking to try unusual sports and activities. My birthday is in March, and my daughters and sons-in-law decided I was a fantastic candidate for trying a Segway experience. Since we’ve all had loads of other family and social events since March, last Saturday was the first opportunity for a few of us to try out ‘Segway’.

I had first seen the machines on the harbour front at Barcelona, Spain, many years ago and thought they looked like a fun thing to try. That was on the flat, and in some cases almost intermingling with traffic, so they didn’t go very fast but looked like a great way to move from A to B. Therefore, I knew roughly what ‘Segway’ machines looked like but had no idea of how they operated.

Helmet wearing is mandatory these days so, on arrival I picked out the best fit. That done, the instructor then told us how to operate. It’s all in the balance. Lean forward and it goes forward. Lean the whole body back and it goes in reverse. Turn handle to move left and right. Easy instructions which, this time around, I listened to very carefully. I was not going to miss those quirky character details!

Easy peasy! Off I went. The thing is the machines cost an arm and a leg and we were not on a flat Barcelona harbour boulevard. We were on a field with hills and bumps and even a small wood. The instructor set the upper speed limit and off we went, a nice snaking file following the master.

 Image2The wood had some dips and dells and steep slopes…oh heck! The way to slow the speed is to lean the whole body back. Try that when pelting down a literally 85 deg incline! (Not the one by the sand dunes which was still pretty tricky) Was I glad I had paid heed to the instructions given? Oh, yes.

 That’s me giving a thumbs up to the fact that I’d survived the descent.

Once down the incline, the instructor increased our upper speed (he changed each individaul machine remotely) and off we followed him on a rutted track through the relatively flat woods. Brilliant! I loved it. Whizzing past the trees. Wind whistling through the hearing aid! Just fast enough to give a thrill but not enough to make me scared that I wasn’t in control  – and I quite like speed.

I later realised that a certain member of my family hadn’t the same thrill having been out with work colleagues the evening before on a celebratory event. Hangovers and ‘Segway’ apparently don’t do very well!

 Image1Me, son-in law to daughter number 1, and daughter number 2.

Now, from that experience I can easily see me writing another of my contemporary fun romance mysteries- like Take Me Now – which transpired as a result of my family taking a trip in a seaplane, flying around the Scottish islands. (We love to experience fun things and I assure you save up all of our pennies for the pleasure!)

There is no moral to this story/post  – it’s merely that I know I need to pay heed to instructions given (criteria), I need to consider and reshape what I write (draft and redraft). I need to sometimes go fast and at others go slowly (pace) and I need to add that ‘thrill’ (keep up the reader attention).

The slalom, fun-contest at the end of the Segway experience equates to the twists and turns an author needs to take  to find a way in the mire of already published books, in order to gain success.

Segway 3 WP_20130706_007

The biggest thrill of my new experiences – heed well and enjoy them to the full!




What motivates you to write happily, and keep to the task you, or someone else, has set you? I’d love to read any little tips you might have!


Image5TAKE ME NOW a fun, sensuous,  flight through a corporate mystery. 

Nancy Jardine can be found at these places:

Amazon UK author page   Amazon US author page   Twitter @nansjar   Google+

Have a fun weekend- everyone!