• Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 1,069 other followers

  • Advertisements

An Influential Book — #MFRWauthor

Everyone who knows me would predict I’d select The Lord of the Rings as the book that most influenced my life. They’d be correct, but, in this instance, it’s not LOTR I want to write about.

Many books have influenced my life, and, while LTOR is number one on my list, Gone with the Wind places a close second. GWTW stood out for me because the main character was a strong-willed woman in a time when women were repressed. Despite the odds against her, Scarlett O’Hara went after what she wanted, public opinion be damned.

Imagine if she’d had a blog?

While all the other women around her allowed the winds of war to buffet them, Scarlett refused to be blown down.


via Giphy

She used “tomorrow is another day” as a refrain to convert despair into hope. No matter what happened, she remained empowered.

While I liked Melanie, I loved Scarlett, not least because she caught the attention of the roguish Rhett. He was my second book boyfriend (the first being Aragorn, of course). He was the rake with a heart of gold. A man’s man who refused to give his heart until he met the woman who was his equal.


Via Giphy

After reading Gone with the Wind, my desire to become a novelist grew ten-fold. I loved Margaret Mitchell’s writing and wished with all my heart I could write that eloquently. I’ve been working at it ever since.

For more posts from other writers on this subject, check out the MFRW 52-Week Challenge post for week 5.


The Turing Test in Ex Machina

What I would do if I couldn’t be a writer — #MFRWAuthor

When I was a preteen, my sister and I had a friend with whom we frequently had sleepovers. During these nights, we’d pose “what if” questions to each other: What would you choose if you were on a desert island and could only eat one food? What would you choose if you could only listen to one song? What if you were tied up and couldn’t move?

For me, these questions always posed an interesting challenge, but the issue wasn’t deciding how to whittle my options down to one. And yeah, the tied up question was weird.


via giphy

What it made me want to do was rebel against the restrictions. My problem wasn’t how to pick one option to live with forever — kind of like marrying one food or drink — it was how can I circumvent the rules? I missed the point of the question: picking a favourite food/drink/song. These questions threatened my control. My knee-jerk reaction was to fight them.

If I were tied up and couldn’t move, I’d blink my eyes. There. I moved.


Okay, fine. I’ll just roll my eyes then. (via giphy)

This is my long-winded way of saying that the question of what I would do if I couldn’t be a writer triggered that knee-jerk response.

What would stop me from writing? Paralysis wouldn’t. With today’s technology, I could get around even that. Lack of money hasn’t stopped me and neither has a shortage of time. Whatever restrictions exist, I work around them. Or plough through them.

I suppose if somehow I had no outlet for publishing my work, it would mean I couldn’t be a published author, but I could still write. I’d write for myself. It’s something I’m compelled to do, not something I choose to do.

I guess the real question asked here is what would my job be if I couldn’t publish my work? Editing doesn’t count as writing, so I’d do more of that. I can’t imagine not working with words in some way. Even when I did software/web development fulltime, I wrote. Even when I didn’t publish anything, I wrote, so, you see, I’ve already been there and done that.

You can take the publishing away from the author, but you can’t take the writing away from the writer.

For more posts from other writers on this subject, check out the MFRW 52-Week Challenge post for week 4.

The Experiencers Discounted for Limited Time

The ExperiencersIf you’ve ever wanted to read The Experiencers, now is a good time to get it. The price for the e-book has been reduced to .99 for a limited number of readers. After the promotion, it’ll return to its regular price of $2.99.

It’s available for download through various retailers.


Assassin Michael Valiant deals death without question on the orders of the Agency. He knows it’s all in the name of duty and the fight against terror, particularly at a time when the earth is as close as it’s ever been to self-destructing.

But Michael questions his agency’s motives when he’s ordered to silence a group of UFO enthusiasts who look less like terrorists than they do housewives and nerds. His attempts to uncover the truth arouse the suspicions of his partner and boss with tragic consequences. Michael finds himself running for his life and dragging his intended target along with him.

Can he save them both, or will the Agency and the aliens find them first?

A new age science fiction thriller that delves into existing UFO and doomsday weaponry conspiracy theories, The Experiencers keeps readers riveted with non-stop action while the characters struggle to control destinies that may have been determined lifetimes ago.

How Much of Myself is in My Writing — #MFRWauthor

Write what you know. Don’t make your characters a reflection of you. Find your voice. Stick to the rules.

The list of dos and don’ts for writers is a long and contradictory one. Some encourage creativity while others seem to stifle it. How much of the writer can go into a piece of work?

For myself, I consider the first draft the “me” draft. I write for myself.  I write what I would want to read and make it unfold the way I want it to go. I own it. All of it. Style, tone, voice, story.


Via Giphy

Something strange happens during the writing process, though. The characters take over, and, while some of them might share certain beliefs or values with me, they are all individuals. They have histories that differ from mine. The heroes are tougher and more courageous. The villains, of course, are nastier. My characters all grew up in different families and each has a unique history. Yes, I know I made them up, but to write the truth, I have to understand who my fake people are and what shaped them.

Daniela in Injury had an abusive childhood. She grew up believing her father abandoned her, leaving her with a mother who resented her. This helped shape her. It also trashed her self-esteem. When the truth comes out, it shakes her to the core but forces her to reevaluate everything she’s ever believed about herself.

Like me, Gillian in Gillian’s Island is an introvert, but unlike me, she grew up in a small town. Her parents were both killed in an accident. She’s been burned by love so badly she’s afraid to give her heart again to anyone. This is the fear that isolates her.

Carolyn in The Valiant Chronicles has an interesting career as a psychic medium. I drew on my training and experience to write about what she does and how she does it. That’s where writing what you know comes in handy. She looks down and to the right when she does mediumship because that’s what I do, and she receives messages through the traditional channels (for an explanation of that, read my article on psychic communication.) Her gift, however, is far stronger and more readily available than mine.

via Giphy

When I write scenes that include the paranormal or have a supernatural flavour, I write from first-hand experience. I’ve done paranormal investigations, studied the paranormal, and once woke up to see the spirit of a man standing next to my bed. Of course, I fictionalize and exaggerate for my stories. A walk-in isn’t the way I portray it in the novel Walk-In. The concept, in new age circles, describes a new soul taking over a person’s body so the original soul can vacate. To make a suspenseful story, I had to evil it up a great deal.

As a former software and web developer with ten years in the industry, I have that to draw on as well. Much of what I write pulls from skills, knowledge, and experience I already have. For the rest, I do research (write what you know; research to write what you don’t know) and even that’s coloured by who I am.

While the first draft is all for my reading pleasure, once I launch into revisions, it’s all for the readers. The final draft retains my essence, but I want it to be a pleasure for others to read. That means weeding out the purple prose, wordiness, or whatever else is wrong with it. It takes a team, which includes beta readers and editors, to accomplish all that.

Of course, not everyone will enjoy what I write, just as I don’t always enjoy everything others write. Sometimes, the style doesn’t suit or the genre isn’t to taste or the themes don’t resonate. There’s a lot that can turn a novel that’s a hit for one reader into a miss for another reader. I can only hope that those who would enjoy reading my work will find it.

For more posts from other writers on this subject, check out the MFRW 52-Week Challenge post for week 3.




Mystery Mondays: Val Tobin on the value of Beta Readers

I enjoyed writing the guest post on Kristina Stanley’s Mystery Mondays. Check it out.


This week on Mystery Mondays, I’m thrilled to host author Val Tobin.  Val has a great process for working with beta readers and editors.  Over to Val…

The Value of Beta Readers

by Val Tobin

I recently came across some writers who don’t use beta readers or who limit their beta readers to one trusted person. This puzzles me. I value my beta readers. Not only do I have a core group I can send my manuscript to, but I always recruit one or two new readers each time.

In his book On Writing, Stephen King mentions he writes for an ideal reader: his wife. She’s the first one to read his work when he’s ready to open the office door and share his creation with another human being. He values her feedback and wouldn’t consider not having her input on the raw material.

In my case, my ideal…

View original post 1,128 more words

My Earliest Memory #MFRWauthor

As my former therapist can attest, asking me what my earliest memory is would be a waste of effort. My childhood memories are surprisingly sparse.

Via Giphy

Via Giphy

I think I had a normal childhood — if your idea of a normal childhood includes starting school not knowing the language — but I can’t recollect much of it. My grandparents factored heavily in my life. We lived with them in Toronto, Ontario until I was five. Then we moved to a house in North York, Ontario.

Since my grandparents spoke little English (their native tongue was Hungarian), and both my parents spoke Hungarian, that’s the language I learned. I must have felt like a stranger in a strange land when I went off to kindergarten.

Perhaps that’s why my stories tend to explore memories and how they form our personalities. In particular, I enjoy exploring memory and perception. The idea that memories can be false fascinates me.

When I was in grade ten, the teacher did an interesting exercise with the class. The teacher sent three students out of the room, and while they were gone, she drew two lines on the board. She then told the rest of the class to lie about which line was the longest. It was an exercise in gaslighting.

Interestingly, I can’t recall if the three unwitting students stood their ground or if they caved and agreed with the rest of the class. No one in the rest of the class defied the teacher’s order and told the students what was happening to them. At the end, of course, they were told the truth, but it was the teacher who filled them in.

Even so, the exercise had an impact on me and fueled my interest in psychology.

For more posts from other writers on this subject, check out the MFRW 52-Week Challenge post for week 2.