What to Cut Out of Your Story

by Gayle Bartos-Pool

Gayle at Bill's House Sept 2022

Hopefully, writers are also readers. We really need to see what others are doing, not to copy their story, but to learn what works and what doesn’t quite get the job done. Thankfully, many writers have their own unique style, though I have read many books that were a tad too much like twenty other authors’ work. Even movies and television shows fall into that category of being like every other show or movie out there. Unfortunately, many current publishers and producers prefer to stick with whatever worked before and won’t venture into a Brave New World. Their loss.

But what if you stick with your original story and don’t want it changed? (1) You don’t sell it to a major publisher/producer. (2) You find a small publisher or studio that doesn’t ask for too many changes. (3) You find a vanity press that lets you do what you want but you don’t make all that much money on the deal, or (4) You self-publish and make even less money unless the winds are favorable and you actually get the recognition you were hoping for. People like Mark Twain, Beatrix Potter, Steven King, Charles Dickens, and even Benjamin Franklin self-published. Their books found fame after the initial publication, but they did start out doing the job themselves.

WIR. dollar-1294424_640

I have heard many stories about those who sold their work to Hollywood and ended up basically selling their soul in the deal when the entire story was rewritten into something the author wouldn’t recognize. That’s the name of the game. You sell the movie rights to a production company and just walk away with the check in your hand and don’t look back. Really big name writers can negotiate a contract that keeps most of their work intact. Good for them. Some writers might sell the first script/novel/story to Hollywood and if it is a huge success, even if it was gutted and rewritten, their agent negotiates the next deal and the writer keeps his next story intact. Sylvester Stallone didn’t give up his rights on the Rocky movies and it worked out for him. But that isn’t the norm.


So what does a writer do to keep her story close to what she envisions? If the writer reads a lot of books and watches a lot of current movies and takes note of what type of story any given publisher or producer seems to like, she might gear her story toward that type of writing. That doesn’t mean turning out a carbon copy of the previously published or produced story, but the writer probably should stay within those known parameters. And as I said before, lots of work out there kind of looks the same as everything else you see or read.

Now if you are as frustrated as I am with this nonsense, you will just write your book the way you want, try to find an agent and/or a publisher that likes your work as is. You might be willing to change something on the surface, but if it is a slash and burn request that totally guts your work, you might want to go to another agent and/or publisher, or self-publish.

So what are you willing to cut out of your work? Its heart? Its soul? It’s a tough question to ponder and even harder to answer. Think about it. Write On!

Typewriter and desk

Reach Your Blog Readers – using Hashtags, Titles, & Images correctly!

A guest Post by Edie Melson

(Reprinted by permission – The Write Conversation, Monday, August 29, 2022.)

by Edie Melson @EdieMelson

A little teaching moment… 
With the chaos of social media, and the strict guidelines now in place with email, our digital connections have gotten more complicated. But one thing hasn’t change—the ability to be found through an organic search. 
This process begins when we know the basics of keywords and SEO. The post I wrote, How to Apply SEO to Your Blog – One Blogger’s Process, will help you get started.
Recently I’ve been working with several bloggers about ways to get more organic page views. Organic views happen when someone searches for a topic—either through a search in a search engine or by searching for a topical hashtag. Beyond keywords and SEO, titles and hashtags are critical to getting found. 
It may surprise you to learn that it is possible to be found. But as bloggers, we need to deliberately set ourselves us to be found in a topical search. So today we’re specifically looking at the use of hashtags when we share a post on social media, the titles we choose for posts, and the images we pair with them. 
There are two times when bloggers need to carefully choose hashtags for a post.
  1. When composing a click to tweet within the post.
  2. When sharing a social media update about a specific post.
Here are the things we need to remember when choosing hashtags.
  • Choose two. Occasionally it may make sense to use a third, and even more rarely use only one. But the majority of your updates (unless you’re on Instagram) should have two. 
  • Choose hashtags that are relevant and specific. I see more mistakes here than in any other use of hashtags. For example, if I was sharing a blog post about tips on how to deal writing rejection it might seem like a good thing to use rejection as a hashtag. The word rejection is not a good hashtag. The context of that hashtag is rejection—NOT writing rejection. It doesn’t help us get more views or likes because the people searching for rejection hashtags are primarily looking for relationship advice. Hashtags are a search tool and must stand alone in their context or they’re worthless.
  • If possible, hashtag words in the main message of the update. For example, if the word you want to hashtag is in the title, hashtag that instead of adding the word again unless it’s the first word. Avoid hashtagging the first word of a tweet.
Titles need to reflect the full topic of the post. This is not time to be clever or too generic. Here are three things to remember.
  • Your readers will evaluate your post’s content based on the title. When a title is misleading or even ambiguous, the reader can walk away feeling cheated.
  • The blog title must stand alone—with full context—when shared on social media. For example, if we go back to that imaginary post about how to deal with writing rejection. I’ve seen a lot of bloggers who would go with the title: Tips to Deal with Rejection. At first glance that seems like a pretty good title for someone who is reading a post on a writing site. But what about those doing a search in a search engine or reading the text in a social media update? For them it’s misleading and generic. A better title would be: Tips to Deal with Writing Rejection. What makes sense to a reader who has the full content of a blog is much different from what makes sense without visual clues and context.
  • The title should contain a phrase that someone would type into a search engine to find the content in your post. It’s not clever, but I can see many people typing How to deal with writing rejection, into a search engine. That’s the final piece of the puzzle and immediately moves your post up in a search engine search. 
It may seem like images are less important when it comes to being found in an organic search, but when we know how to do certain things, an image can provide a huge boost in visibility. 
  • Images need to illustrate the main focus of the blog post. Let’s once again go back to the imaginary blog post, Tips to Deal with Writing Rejection. If we’re not careful about the image we choose, we can lead potential readers astray. For example, choosing the image below could send the wrong message if someone misses the word, writing, in the title. 
  • We all know that images aren’t searchable….Unless they are captioned….Unless the file name of the image contains a searchable keyword. Yep. By taking a few extra moments to compose a relevant caption and saving the image with a relevant file name instead of some generic title you can increase your organic search views. Let’s once again visit that imaginary blog post.
    • That image above has a file name that includes the word loneliness—this is what www.Pixabay.com lists as the title of this specific image. So this image is not only a poor choice, but with that file title it will reinforce the wrong type of results in an organic search. 
The bottom line is that the details matter. It’s important that we blog smart. By paying attention to the titles we choose, the hashtags we use, and the classification of images we can make a huge difference in the visibility of our posts. 
Now it’s your turn. What questions do you have about these details? Be sure to leave your thoughts in the comments section below. 
Don’t forget to join the conversation!

Edie Melson is a woman of faith with ink-stained fingers observing life through the lens of her camera. No matter whether she’s talking to writers, entrepreneurs, or readers, her first advice is always “Find your voice, live your story.” As an author, blogger, and speaker she’s encouraged and challenged audiences across the country and around the world. Her numerous books reflect her passion to help others develop the strength of their God-given gifts and apply them to their lives. Connect with her on her website, through FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.


The Most Fun Thing About Writing

By Linda O. Johnson

Hey, our blog is still here, and I couldn’t be more delighted. I was pondering what to write about now, and came up with what I hope is a fun topic: my thoughts about the most fun thing about writing.

Do I know yet? No! But I’ve gotten a lot of ideas. And I’ve been writing for a long time.

My thoughts? First, even if I set a story somewhere real, near me, the fun thing about it is figuring out what can be different, and what my protagonist can learn about it—and tell me! For one thing, since most of what I write are mysteries and romantic suspense, people can get hurt or even killed in those environments I find fairly safe in real life. So where’s a good place to murder someone where the mystery can be resolved well and quickly enough in a story? A real place? A fictional place?

Even more important is those characters, especially my protagonists. They’re not me, but they contain some of my characteristics. The character closest to me was in my first mystery series, the Kendra Ballantyne, Pet-Sitter Mysteries. Kendra was a lawyer who lived in the Hollywood Hills with her Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Lexie. At the time I was writing about her, I was a practicing lawyer, and one of my Cavaliers was named Lexie. And yes, I live in the Hollywood Hills.

Other protagonists aren’t quite as close, but still had characteristics I like and admire. The spinoff series from Kendra was the Pet Rescue Mysteries, which of course contained dogs and other animals—and I was volunteering a lot at local rescue organizations when I wrote it. In my Barkery & Biscuits Mysteries, my protagonist owned a bakery for dog treats—and was owned by a dog named Biscuit. In my Superstition Mysteries, my protagonist owned a dog named Pluckie. And currently, in my Alaska Untamed Mysteries under my first pseudonym, Lark O. Jensen, the protagonist, a naturalist, introduces tourists to all sorts of wonderful Alaskan wildlife, including seals and bears and wolves—and yes, she brings her own dog Sasha along on her tour boats.

And in the Harlequin Romantic Suspense stories in the various series I create, yes, dogs are involved. All my stories do contain suspense, whether they’re mysteries or not, and even those I’m asked to write when I can’t always include dogs. And they contain at least a touch of romance, often more.

So… setting is fun. Characters are fun. Killing people vicariously, and not for real, of course,  can be fun. And creating romances can be fun.

Plus, various animals are fun. Dogs are fun.

Hey, for me, maybe the most fun thing about writing involves one of the most fun things in my life: dogs.

So what’s the most fun thing about writing for you?

Photo by Austin Kirk on Unsplash 

‘THE END’… Naah – not really…!   

                      By Rosemary Lord

1.08RoseSignCrop (1)

So, how d’you like our Blog’s new look?

We weren’t ready to call it a day! We just needed a change – a fresh view. And we have two new writers joining us in our blog sandbox: Hannah Dennison and Maggie King.  What fun. Just in time for the holidays.

The holidays… so soon?! As we gallop towards the year end, one tries not to panic, not to think of all the things one had intended to do, to complete. But never quite got there.  The short stories not written, the scattered memoir attempted, the unfinished novels. A half-finished website comes to my mind. Hmmm.

Perhaps, instead, stop for a moment to remember what we have accomplished. Fer starters –  we’ve all written our Blogs for this shared writers’ venture. Look back at the unforeseen distractions life gave us. All the positive, unexpected things we’ve done this year. The new people we have met or old acquaintances with whom we’ve re-connected. Those shared memories are often inspiration for the next tome we attempt.

I’ve done masses of research for different projects – that’s always my favorite. Made wonderful discoveries that set my mind charging down different avenues. I’ve done a quick script outline for a couple of new projects – even if they’re not yet completed. Well, at least I started.

Lots of de-cluttering, re-decorating, re-planting, re-designing was accomplished with new, fresh eyes. Another diversion prevalent this year was travel.  I think a lot of us, so relieved to be allowed out of our Covid-cages, have travelled far and wide. Therefore, we’ll forgive ourselves for that wonderful distraction and appreciate the terrific story ideas and new characters we have encountered along the way. Ideas and characters just waiting to be poured out onto the blank page.

I’ve been reading a lot, too. Especially on plane journeys. And, as the days get shorter, who doesn’t like to curl with a good book. (When I should have been finishing my writing!) I think my Kindle said 51 books this year! Although I have abandoned quite a few after a couple of chapters. And I have shelves of new REAL books!

I have re-read, for the umpteenth time, some of Rosamund Pilcher’s wonderful escapist novels. Her ‘Winter Solstice’ is especially timely. It’s about a group of strangers who find themselves stranded together in the snow over the Christmas holidays in Scotland.

But I’ve also been finding new, younger writers; lots of ‘finding-oneself’ novels set on far flung shores, many of them self-published, so they have a different voice, different settings and different styles. A different way of writing. It’s opened up my eyes to new options.

But I sometimes find myself getting frustrated at the endings. I like a satisfying ending. I want questions answered, problems solved and nuanced solutions to characters and relationships. But sometimes, in these new books, it’s as if the writer suddenly noticed their word-count and decided to jump to ‘The End.’

Hey! Not so quick! You can’t just hurry up and finish. That’s not fair!  

The intrepid old standby, ‘Who? What? When? Where? Why?’ seems to be missing a syllable or two. The journey we create on the written page needs to lead us in that direction, that ties up all the bits and pieces. Instead I find myself asking – “but what about so-and-so?” Or, “How did that come about – that was quick!”

I’ve been tempted to write my own version –  a new chapter of the book I’m reading, that really wraps up everything. And sometimes I have become so invested in characters, that I want to know more about them. Where did they go after that particular drama was solved. Again, my imagination has come up with intriguing storylines for the next episode in their lives.

I often get annoyed when film makers produce a copy-cat version of a classic movie. Well, a cheap, poor, knock-off, really. Why don’t they instead write and produce a sequel – or a prequel. That would be much more creative. Why don’t they use their imagination, instead of trying to duplicate someone else’s talent? Or why don’t they write a “What If…”? What if Romeo and Juliet had not died so young? Would they have lived happily ever after, with half a dozen children running around Verona? Would they have stayed together? What work or careers would they have pursued? That gets one thinking… 

Do you ever think of writing a new ending to someone else’s story? Or even a new beginning. That’s even more important. There are a couple of characters I’ve encountered recently, that I’m thinking of ‘borrowing’ and installing them in a totally different book.

As you can see, my mind is all over the place at the moment. My unfinished To Do list lurks just outside of my grasp, with my promises of “- soon…any minute now…”

But I’m inspired by our New-Look Blog page and by my fresh, yet seasoned,  eyes on my own writing, as we emerge from our Covid cocoon.

Refreshed. Re-energized. Ready for tomorrow.  Ready to write some more – and keep reading….


(This blog entry was posted by Gayle Bartos-Pool for the wonderful Rosemary Lord. Thanks for dropping by.)

Weather…Or Not?

The extent to whether or not weather should influence a plot line, or impact a character’s actions, is a writing line of thought I’m currently pondering right now on my “writer’s road…” And why? Could it be my thoughts about how important setting is are still nagging at me?  Indeed, climate, which consequently influences what the characters and readers see. But how about what our characters do?

My personal example from my current WIP is—does Leiv proceed forward in the 100◦ weather he’s experiencing, or does he demand Glover take him back to Shiné, and not meet the Packston sisters? Does he instead (as I’m writing it), hurry into the house, and consequently really appreciates the ice tea being served and think. “Thank goodness,and what a nice lady for seeing how flinging hot I am…” Indeed, and this may sound nitpicky, but I’ve found myself fussing at a book I was reading that the character should have been motivated in a completely different direction by the weather! In my defense, I really want a reader to enjoy the story in a way that brings pleasure to them.

Having lived in both Washington States’overcast and rainy Puget Sound, and California’s moderate bay area: and having been born and raised in cold windy Chicago, and now living in and loving the sometimes blazing Mojave, I do accept for myself, “yes,” maybe I would have done some things differently if I’d paid attention to the weather. Hmm…

Bottom line on my current WIP from my meandering weather thoughts is, Leiv is going to do a completely different action than I first wrote (months ago.) And, his weather related changes will also change the ending. But I think for sure, his character is stronger and more admirable for the weather directed action he takes early on.

My thoughts have further led me to thinking back on my earlier books self-critique—such as my Pacific Northwest setting and California’s Ridgecrest area, and now out here in the Mojave…makes me think I personally need to enhance the aspect of Mojave weather affecting my heroes and villains on more levels and in more ways than before. And my queens of murder mystery(Ngaio, Agatha, etc.–who are always in my mind) don’t make a big deal about weather…or do they? I need to take a rereading deep dive(smile), or binge on DVDs and Brit Box! Research(smile)

All thoughts are welcome.

Also, this post is sooo short because it’s still hot, IN OCTOBER, and zapping my energy, ha, ha….

Happy Writing Trails

Let’s Talk about Dialogue

By Gayle Bartos-Pool

Aristotle That Aristotle guy was smart. He understood the basics in writing a story: Plot, Character, Dialogue, Setting, and the Meaning of the story. If the writer doesn’t address all those points… what’s the point of the story? Of course you have to have a Plot. Something’s got to happen. And without people or even a furry face, there is nobody to watch as they uncover those twists and turns. Without a Setting you have no place to wander through while the main characters are exploring that environment. And without a Meaning to the story the reader is going to wonder: Why am I here?


But what about Dialogue? That is the way each character tells the reader who they are and even sometimes explains what that environment looks like in personal terms. Remember, one character might see a desert as a wasteland while another might see it as a beautiful vista. That being said, dialog can be tricky. Ask an actor who has to interpret those words and make their character have personality and not be just another passenger on the bus. I learned this lesson when I took acting lessons back in California.


There was a time I thought I would write for the movies and television. Yeah, me and about ten million other people. In California, half the people you meet want to be actors, the other half want to write for the silver screen. I thought a good way to see what these actors needed from a screenwriter was to take acting lessons and learn firsthand. I actually learned a lot from the acting teachers I had.


The first teacher was actor Bruce Glover. What a character, and I say that with deep respect. He was in the movie Diamonds are Forever with Sean Connery. He played one half of the “killer” duo that wanted those diamonds and did whatever they could to retrieve them. The patter between Glover’s Mr. Wint and Puffer Smith’s Mr. Kidd was reminiscent of the old Vaudeville act featuring the song: “Absolutely, Mr. Gallagher. Positively, Mr. Shean” in the movie Ziegfeld Girl 1941.

Glover took that a step further and made sure his character had not only the delivery right, but he did a little bit of business so the camera picked up on his actions. Don’t they say: Actions speak louder than words?

typewriter-and-deskSo as a writer you need to give your character something to say that fits his or her character, but also have them do something that nails that character while they are speaking. Whether you are putting those words on the page to be read in a book or writing a scene for a movie, describe those characters with words unique to them and give them something unique to do. And I don’t mean just your main characters. Why have somebody show up on the page or in a scene who adds nothing to the story. If you don’t want to add a superfluous character, have someone literally send a telegram and then let an established character read it out loud. But remember, when they’re reading that message let them give it some personality… it’s either good news (slap your thigh)… or bad news (cringe)… or it’s a disaster (dive under the table!)



Ladies sitting around having tea and mentioning the great weather doesn’t move the story.

Ladies sitting around having tea, mentioning the weather and the latest fashion doesn’t move the story, either.


                        But how about this…

Ladies sitting around having tea, mentioning the weather, talking about the view, noticing the flower arrangements in the restaurant and the latest fashion being worn by other guests doesn’t move the story until one of the ladies finally says: “Let’s stop talking about nothing and talk about Sarah’s murder. Somebody killed her and we’re going to find out who did it.” Now that gets the ball rolling.


Let’s explore the last example. We can see/hear the ladies chatting. Each character’s view of her surroundings will tell us a little about that character whether one lady is envious of someone’s very expensive outfit or they notice the guy this other lady is with and they know he isn’t her husband. Meow!


Or how about the lady who thinks the prices on the menu are a tad too high and she reveals that her husband just lost his job.


Or maybe one lady doesn’t want to mention that the handsome guy coming in the door of the restaurant with the little floozy used to be her boyfriend, but one of the other women points it out in a catty remark.


But the gal who wants to get down to the important things like who killed their friend is setting the story off in another direction. And what if all the ladies are raring to go to solve the crime except one of their group who is hesitant. She doesn’t say much or maybe says nothing. Does she know more about this than she’s willing to admit? What if our main character picks up on that lack of comment and confronts her later? Or maybe somebody else confronts her and one of them turns up dead?


What they say… or what they don’t say. That’s part of Dialogue. And their actions as well. Sometimes actions do speak louder than words. What if the quiet one excuses herself early from their tea and the next thing we hear is that one lady’s home was broken into and that someone just might have something to do with the death of poor Sarah?


Ah, Dialogue. That Aristotle, who was born in 384 B.C., knew of what he spoke. Words have consequences. And how they are delivered can even change their meaning. How about this: two versions of the exact same Dialogue.


First Version: A guy and a gal are on a date. He has been a little free with his affections with another lady and she knows about it, but she will forgive him.

He says, “I’m sorry I was such a fool, Gwen. It’ll never happen again. I’m crazy about you.”

She says, “I’m just mad about you, too, Harry,” she responded, touching his face lovingly, seeing the love in his eyes.


Compare it to this version:

He says, “I’m sorry I was such a fool, Gwen. It’ll never happen again. I’m crazy about you.” He says this while looking off in another direction.

She says, “I’m just mad about you, too, Harry,” she responded, grinding her cigarette into the plate of uneaten lobster.


Does Harry have a chance in version two? Probably not.

What a character says and how he says it and what he is doing while he is saying it tells a story.


So, as you write Dialogue always ask yourself:

                        Does it advance the story?

                        Does it enhance the story?

                        Is it redundant? Is it redundant?


Write On!



                                                              (a remarkable year)

by Rosemary Lord

Just as I was thinking, “Aah, I can relax, just focus on my writing. I’ve got things covered…” Then everything goes topsy-turvy – again. Why is that?

I’ve been working on a book on the history of the 1905-founded Woman’s Club of Hollywood. I’m thoroughly enjoying diving back into research – one of my favorite things! It’s fun, pulling out the documents and newspaper clippings of the Club history, therefore early Hollywood history. Local Hollywood papers in the 1920s were full of Club news! I love recreating those early 1900 scenes.

Maybe I should just stop there. Because, next, I started on the more recent history story. I gathered the copious notes, Court Reports and endless pages I’ve written about the last ten years of thievery, skullduggery, break-ins, bankruptcy and lawsuits. However, this rendered me emotionally exhausted and overwhelmed, as I relived the stress, the 18-hour days, the threats, physical attacks, the police protection, the ugly shenanigans I endured. My goodness – how did I get through that? That was quite depressing. So, I’ve put that book aside for now. I’ll get back to that later…

Much better is my work on a new Lottie Topaz novel. A wonderful adventure. I’m busy plotting – or rather, following Lee Goldberg’s idea and writing a simple movie script of the story as a basic map. It’s very helpful. I’ll add the fun color my imagination creates later.

I’ve also started a sort of ‘memoir; about my early days in the British movie industry, based on all the diaries and scrapbooks gleaned from my Christmas visit to England. My apartment is littered with these stacks of post-it covered papers and files.

So, I’m loving my writing life once again. And the Woman’s Club was humming along nicely with new volunteers and only part-time attention required from me.

But then the L.A. Building and Safety Inspectors decided to complete their inspection of our Historic buildings, explaining their report was delayed due to Covid-19 shutdown backlog. The original report was from May 2011. It only took them 11 years to catch up! The Hollywood School for Girls schoolhouse was built in 1903, so we knew we had a long list of repairs, upgrades and restoration. We’re doing as much as we can without funding for the expensive, specialized work on our historic landmark buildings.  

But the stringent Building and Safety regulators were not satisfied with our progress, issuing a new To Do list, with a fourteen-day deadline! And a fine for the violations! (Such as missing 1903 building permits!) They added $64,000 worth of termite and pest-control tenting and remedying! Hmmm.

Although the Inspector I met was very sympathetic and gave me a time extension to complete. Phew!  So now all we have to do is raise about $200,000 to pay for this…

Then the Fire Department joined in. We’re always very careful with brush clearance. In the 1990s, a carelessly tossed cigarette from the apartments next door caused a fire that destroyed four of our small 1915 wooden classroom-cottages. So, we’re really cautious! We shook the trees to remove any dried-out dead bits. One of our younger members climbed some of the trees to remove dead branches. With the help of our local police, all the dead brush was safely removed. We thought.

Aha! We missed a bit! The Fire Department noticed that some of the palm trees – over 100-years old and over 4-storeys tall – had a few more dead branches. More fines! I’m now trying to find someone who can shimmy up those palm trees and thwack off the offending branches. The professional tree trimmers charge thousands – which we don’t have. I thought I might even stop by the Fire Station that cited us: they have tall ladders and are not afraid of heights…

But, I’ve been through worse with this Club. And I shall persevere. People will come in to help, I know. As one door closes, another always opens. I’ll canvas the Hollywood community for donations. This, too, shall pass.

So, all this stopped my writing flow and dragged me back into another world.

Then, last week – just as I was getting back into writing mode – much of the World was shocked and saddened by the news of the death of Queen Elizabeth II. I was surprised at how emotional I was. I know she was 96 years old – but we thought she would go on forever. She was always in my life.  It’s like losing your favorite grandmother.

 Queen Elizabeth truly devoted her life to the service of Britain and the Commonwealth. Growing up in England, I accepted that girls – women – could do anything they wanted. Even become Queen! Elizabeth was not born in line for the throne. She had an ‘ordinary’ (if privileged!) childhood and served in the Army during World War II.  People all over the world loved and admired her grace, her sensible approach to life, her love of animals – and her sense of humor. Although, even the Queen had her bad times, her “annus horribilis,” dealing with wayward offspring and grandkids.

But, as one door closes… Britain now has a new King: Charles III. People have been buoyed at the way he is dealing with these early days in his new position as King, knowing that he has had a long ‘apprenticeship’ and will follow in his mother’s footsteps in service to the people. And so, my sadness was soon replaced by hope and pride, watching the new King step into those big shoes! A new door opened – a fresh start.

Excuse my ramblings, as I, too, open a new door in my life. Instead of allowing these ‘challenges’ from the Woman’s Club to destroy me, I’m re-focusing once more on my writers’ life.

And with this view through a different door, I’m really looking forward to an “Annus Mirabilis.” A wonderful Year ahead!

(Rosemary’s delightful blog was posted by Gayle Bartos-Pool.)

A New Book Release Party!

Release party for Miko Johnston’s

A Petal in the Wind Book IV: Lala Smetana

Sunday Sep 11 2022 5:00pm – 6:00pm

Kingfisher Bookstore, 16 Front Street NW, Coupeville WA


We are thrilled to announce the long-awaited continuation of Miko Johnston’s Petal in the Wind saga. A founding member of Whidbey Island’s Writers in Residence, Johnston’s historical novels beautifully capture the heartbreaks and triumphs of a young Jewish woman coming of age in early 20th century Europe.

Please join us for an exclusive free event as we celebrate the release of Johnston’s newest novel on Sunday, September 11th at 5 pm in the Kingfisher Bookstore’s lower level. Champagne and small bites will be provided by our neighbor, Front Street Grill.

While this is a free event, tickets are required. Please secure your place by calling the Kingfisher Bookstore at  360.678.8463 or by emailing hello@kingfisherbookstore.com.

Petal in the Wind Book IV: Lala Smetana

As the Great War rages, Lala dreams of someday having it all — marriage, motherhood, and a career. She reunites with Josef Smetana, the man she loves, and they marry. Amidst a world-wide pandemic and political discord rippling through Europe in the aftermath of war, Lala and Josef encounter undercurrents of mistrust and bigotry that sprout like noxious weeds. Lala notes a disquieting change of attitude in Josef as well; he no longer supports her desire to work.

The Smetanas move to Prague and start a family. When an opportunity arises for Lala’s final dream to come true, she plots to keep her secret from Josef, until she learns he’s kept a far more dangerous secret from her. With her family’s fate hinging on her success, together they must navigate a new resurgence of an old hate that threatens to shatter their lives.

Why? And What?

Once again, as I’m traveling down my winding writing road, my book club happenings have started me thinking on several fronts. And as before, I’m posting my thoughts here in the hope they will help readers understand what goes into an author’s mind in getting a book out there, and maybe a few other writers might be having similar thoughts of their own? And I’m also publically airing a tad of self-pity (smile.)

Why do I read a book? These days, mainly because my book club tells me to! This month’s selection was a book I would not have thought of as a reading selection on my own, but that’s one of the great parts about book club—to read outside our own readings “ruts.” My rut, of course is mysteries. Well this month, our book was How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming, by Mike Brown. Not a book that would have crossed my reading horizon by itself—and I loved it! Even ended up doing Google research and further reading. The topic, the writer, the style, the information—all were wonderful!

From there my mind went to other sources of reading suggestions, like author reader/author posts (Of course Writers in Residence suggestions are the best!), recommendations from friends and relatives, bookstore promotions, social media platforms like Facebook, and in the far past, even grocery store checkout displays.

All of this is leading to the big questions in my post here—why would anyone want to read my books, or said a different way, what would entice a reader to want to read my book? My past answer to these questions has often been—Location – Such as, what is the Pacific Northwest like? What is the Mojave Desert like? Why are these characters living there? And why does “what and why” matter to me right now? Well, besides being an interesting writing knowledge topic in itself—which always interest me, my book sales are very low and I want to fix that. If I can(smile)

But there’s more, and not about me. It’s partly about the concept of reading is a wonderful “thing” in itself, and also that there is a “twinkling something” in a reader and writer’s mental world. That “something” that causes us to recommend a book to a friend. Brings a smile to our faces.

Is it the title? What I’m working on now is tentatively titled Mojave Gateau. A chocolate gateau certainly gets me salivating…but is it enough to buy a book? I’m thinking not.

So what and where are my meanderings leading me to so far? Well, as I have tended to think in the past about location, the desert does still tickle the fancy, but it’s not enough. I’m also still clinging to the concepts that characters and scenery are the keys to good writers. And that might still be true, for me at least. But, what’s the good of a great story that no one reads? Is it enough I’ve written the darn thing and my editor, even a publisher or two think it was worth the effort? Hmmm???…

Maybe there is no magic bullet. Just a lot of good hits on multiple fronts? Paid publicity, titles, word of mouth, cover, implied adventure, puzzle solving???…All thoughts are welcome!

Happy Writing Trails

Metaphors by a Kingly Author

by Jackie Houchin

How many of you have ever read the Book (or parts of the book) of Ecclesiastes in the Bible? It’s in the Old Testament, right after Psalms and Proverbs (other excellent books to read!).

Ecclesiastes is written by King Soloman (the wise) toward the end of his life. He’s thinking back on all the “things” he has accumulated and accomplished. He calls them futile, useless, and vanity. It’s a bit depressing, however true.

Then in the last chapter he writes a fantastic – and rather gruesome – metaphor on aging, with a brilliant comment at the end. If you use metaphor in your writing, you will really appreciate it. If you are older and things about your body are “wearing out” (hearing, eyesight, energy, knees, memory) like me, you will maybe get a rueful kick out of it as well.

Here is King Solomon…

1Remember your Creator

in the days of your youth,

before the days of trouble come

and the years approach when you will say,

“I find no pleasure in them”—


2before the sun and the light

and the moon and the stars grow dark,

and the clouds return after the rain;


3when the keepers of the house tremble,

and the strong men stoop,

when the grinders cease because they are few,

and those looking through the windows grow dim;


4when the doors to the street are closed

and the sound of grinding fades;

when people rise up at the sound of birds,

but all their songs grow faint;


5when people are afraid of heights

and of dangers in the streets;

when the almond tree blossoms

and the grasshopper drags itself along

and desire no longer is stirred.

Then people go to their eternal home

and mourners go about the streets.


6Remember Him—before the silver cord is severed,

and the golden bowl is broken;

before the pitcher is shattered at the spring,

and the wheel broken at the well,


7and the dust returns to the ground it came from,

and the spirit returns to God who gave it.


How many of those metaphors did you catch?  I know personally about the diming vision and fading hearing, and definitely the white “almond blossom” hair!  So far, my “grinders” are still in fair shape, but I know about energy lagging with that old grasshopper.

And then in conclusion the wise old king writes…


12But, my child, let me give you some further advice: Be careful, for writing books is endless, and much study wears you out.

13That’s the whole story. Here now is my final conclusion: Fear God and obey his commands, for this is everyone’s duty. 14God will judge us for everything we do, including every secret thing, whether good or bad.



How have you used metaphors recently in your writing?  Do you enjoy reading them when other writers use these methods…sparingly, of course?

**** If you want to learn more about Metaphors, Similes, Analogies, Allegories and Idioms to use in your writing, check out this article in  The Free Dictionary for explanations and samples of each.


Photo by Matt Bennett on Unsplash

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.®.

%d bloggers like this: