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Monthly Archives: March 2019

I’m in the desert and leaving in a day or so. I was looking at all the desert plants and thinking about how to incorporate them into a setting in a novel.

I put together a few questions you might want to think about when you develop a setting.

What kind of cactus are there? The most common are the Saguaro, the ocotillo and maybe the prickly pear, but there are dozens of other types. I’m making notes.

And if you’re not in the desert, what type of trees are in your setting?

What about flowers? The cactus itself has flowers, but there are also many colorful desert flowers. What about the flowers in your scene?

When describing the setting, you can point out if there are clusters of trees or flowers, or solitary ones. Saguaro cacti are usually solitary at least several feet or more apart. The reason is because of the water which is difficult to find in the desert.


Other things to consider are, what color are they, how do they smell or look, and do they have any particular characteristics? For example, the cacti have the thorns that can be very dangerous.

When describing a setting, maybe include the season, the weather, the birds and the animals if there are any. Make sure your reader can see themselves in your setting.


How do you self-edit your books before submitting or publishing? What sort of feedback do want for from an editor when you use one? How has an editor improved your writing in the past?

Another interesting topic and one I’m sure we have all gone through. It might also be of interest to readers to see how we try and publish the best possible book. The process for my self-editing starts by writing the first draft. I usually write the book without editing as I go. Then I go back and read through it and make changes. When I finish the second writing, I run it through spell-check. After that I use Autocrit to pick up more spelling, grammar and formatting errors.   Then I read it through, out loud for most of it.  After that I send it to an editor for her critique and input. When she returns it, I go through and make all the corrections and send it off to my beta reader who does a critique for spelling and grammar. I make the corrections when she sends it back and that’s it.

I do use an editor. I’m looking for concept and any major issues she sees – telling instead of showing, character’s eyes change color part-way through the story, anything that might pull a reader out of the story, obvious punctuation errors I may have missed, and her general comments about the flow of the story, characterizations, etc. Basically I’m looking for anything that will make my book better for my readers.  

Often an editor will include a sheet of editing tips which I review, and it does help as I self edit and review my story.

Looking forward to reading and learning how authors handle this.

Skye Taylor

Diane Bator

Connie Vines

Anne Stenhouse

A.J. Maguire

Dr. Bob Rich

Victoria Chatham

Helena Fairfax

Judith Copek

Rhobin L Courtright

Janet Lane Walters has been published for 50 years. Not all that time was spent writing. She returned to work as a nurse and was off the writing cycle for about ten years, When she returned, she discovered electronic publishing and has since then published somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 books  and novellas. She writes romance, contemporary, paranormal and fantasy. She’s also written a few non-fiction books. Words Perfect – Becoming Your Own Critique Partner was a 2003 EPIC winner in non-fiction. There were a few other awards along the way.

Beverley: Which genre or genres do you write or prefer to write? And why?

Janet: Interesting question. Since I write romance, contemporary, paranormal and fantasy, I write these because I like to read them. The same goes for mysteries. I read them. I have a YA fantasy series that I wrote for my grandchildren. So far, two of them have read the books. I’ll hope the others will as well. I wouldnever write horror. I don’t read any. Have tried but I don’t like it. I don’t write techno thrillers but I do like to read them. The same goes for science fiction. I don’t have the experience and knowledge to try these genres.

Beverley: Who influenced you the most in deciding to become a writer?

Janet: Actually, I’m not sure one particular person influenced me to begin writing. I always liked to read and at night from a very early childhood, told myself a story as I was falling asleep. These were made up stories. My parents were readers and books were a part of my life. I could say my grandfather who taught me to read by the time I was three. Also my father who told me I could do anything I wanted. To aim for the stars but if I only reached the fence at least I tried. I guess I’m still trying.

Beverley: What gets your creative juices flowing?

Janet: Sitting in my recliner with pen and clipboard in hand. Usually have no problem getting started but sometimes finishing. Hate saying goodbye.

Beverley: Do you have a favorite cartoon character? Why?

Janet: Had to think about this for a long time. These days I’m not much for watching cartoons. Mine has the be Pink Panther. Years and years ago, my husband and I used to go to an Arts movie theater where they showed foreign films, many of them British. Pink Panther was always the lead in cartoon.

Beverley: Who would you love most to meet ‘in person’ and why?

Janet: I’m at a loss here for I would love to meet some writers who no longer live. Andre Norton for her science fiction stories, Ann Mc Caffrey who introduced me to dragons, Ernest Hemmingway for his great action stories.

Beverley: If you had an unexpected free day what would you do with it?

Janet: Curl up with a glass of wine, some chocolates and my Kindle for a reading marathon of books I enjoy. Or Watch the A and E version of Pride and Prejudice.

Beverley: What are you working on now?

Janet: Just finished a fantasy romance, the fourth and final book of a series and have started on a contemporary romance, one of the Moon Child series. The heroine, a nurse practitioner and a Cancer encounters an old Leo love, who is a Hollywood action adventure actor. She is his forgotten dream and he would like to reconnect. He is her forgotten dream and she wants to see him again and find closure.

Blurb for Children of Fyre

In this return to the Island of Fyre, each of the heros and heroines of the three previous books have children. Lorton is the youngest son of the Wizards of Fyre and he has bonded with the yellow dragon.

The dragon through the magic of the stones has been rejuvenated and is now green. Dragon sends Lorton to travel to where the Dragons of Fyre are raised. There he meets Arkon son of the hero and heroine of the Dragons of Fyre.

There have been four eggs laid and there must be two young men and two young women found to bond with them. On the island where the evil wizards were exiled, Cerene has grown up as little more than a slave. She can use all the fyrestones unlike her father. She learns about the kidnapping of Riara, daughter of the hero and heroine of the Temple of Fyre and vows to save her.

The four must unite with their dragons and finally destroy the evil.

Excerpt from Children of Fyre

Arkon pushed his steed into a gallop leaving Lorton and the pack horses behind. Dragon’s report that the women hadn’t eaten for a full day troubled him. He rode until the horse slowed its pace. Ahead, Dragon crouched on the grass. Arkon scanned the area ahead and spotted the two women sheltering in a cluster of trees.

Not far from their position, he dismounted. With his hands held high to show he held no weapons, he approached the pair. The women rose. Their beauty brought a smile. The one with the hair of fire stood tall and slender. The ice blonde had curves tempting him to touch. Which one would be his? Would he and Lorton or the women choose?

By the time he constructed a fire circle and gathered wood, Lorton arrived. Together, they unpacked the steeds and gathered the makings of a meal.

He struck his fire starter several times and failed to ignite the kindling. “Sure wish there was a magical way to start a fire.”

“There is.” Lorton pulled a wand from his pack.

Arkon held up his hand. “Don’t.”

The fair-haired woman laughed. “Let me.” A spear of flame shot from her hand. “Are you the friends Dragon said were on the way?”

Arkon nodded. “Why did you use a fyrestone to start the fire? Those stones and those who use them are forbidden in this land.”

“How foolish,” she said. “Why?”

“There are many reasons. My father…” He clamped his lips together.

The flame-haired woman stepped forward. “Who are you?”

“The youngest son of the dragon riders of High Peaks.”

“Name.” Both women spoke.

“Arkon.” He pointed to his friend. “Lorton.”

The taller of the women stalked toward the fire. “I’ll ask again. Why are the stones considered evil?”

“My father suffered much because of the temple priestesses who used the stones to keep him a prisoner. He managed to escape and return here.”

“Managed? I know that story. My father aided a slave to escape. There is no need to worry or fear our people. The evil priestess was killed when she fought my parents. They used fyrestones to defeat her.” She turned to her companion. “We have no friends here. We must find another refuge.” Cerene joined her. They walked away.


Dragon’s voice roared in Arkon’s head. *Why should I? I won’t bring reminders of what my father suffered under the rule of the priestesses.” He turned to Cerene. “I want you to promise not to use the stones until we speak to my father.”

Cerene shrugged. “I see no harm in using them but I will refrain for now.”

Buy Link for Children of Fyre

You can find Janet at

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I know a lot of authors use character charts and questions to plot out their characters. I use them as a start. They’re great for physical characteristics, family information and background. Other people use enneagrams, astrology, tarot cards or maybe a mixture of both to develop and flesh out their characters and develop conflict.

Tami Cowden has a great book The Complete Writer’s Guide to Heroes and Heroines: Sixteen Master Archetypes for developing your characters and developing conflict.

I have used Enneagrams before. If you don’t know your type, you can take a free enneagram test here. https:// www. eclecticenergies .com/enneagram/test There are nine types and you can develop the characteristics in each of your characters to create conflict in their styles.

Astrology, or the use of the thirteen zodiac signs can also be a fun way to develop conflict in their characters and their goals. Capricorn, Aquarius, Pisces, Aries, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Scorpio, Ophiuchus (Nov 29 – Dec 17) and Sagittarius. Ophiuchus is a new one. Who knew?

The constellation Ophiuchus represents a man wrestling a serpent, dividing the snake’s body in two parts.  It is the only sign of the zodiac linked to real men, sharing traits with Imhotep, a 27th century BCE Egyptian doctor, and biblical Joseph. Like Imhotep, Ophiuchus is considered a healer of men and a doctor of medicine or science. He seeks higher education and enlightenment. He is expected to achieve a high position in life. Like Joseph, he is an interpreter of dreams and vivid premonitions. He is envied by his peers and favored by his father and authority figures.

And there’s also the Chinese zodiac. Lots of choices to individualize your characters and bring internal and external conflict.

What do you use for developing you characters?

Ever since she can remember, Kimberly Beckett has loved horses. She wore out 4 rocking horses before she was 5 years old, and as she got older, she read every horse story in print, from Black Beauty to My Friend Flicka. It wasn’t until she got her first job as an attorney for the federal government, however, that could afford to buy her first horse, and she hasn’t been without at least one ever since. She has been riding dressage for several years and has earned her United States Dressage Federation Bronze Medal. When she wasn’t reading about horses, she was reading romance novels, and her favorites always involve an alpha male Hero riding a magnificent horse. Kimberly has now found a way to combine her love of horses with her love of romance by writing her own version of equine-facilitated happily ever afters. She truly believes that Horses Heal Hearts. She lives in southwest Ohio with her two adopted greyhounds, and two warmblood horses.

Beverley: Which genre or genres do you write or prefer to write? And why?

Kimberly: I write contemporary romance with some suspense elements.  I like contemporary because I like telling stories that women of today can relate to.

Beverley: Who influenced you the most in deciding to become a writer?

Kimberly: I was influenced primarily by New York Times bestselling author Grace Burrowes, whom I met when she sponsored a writer’s retreat to Scotland back int 2016.  She made me feel like my dream to become an author could be achieved with a lot of hard work, and a little luck.

Beverley: What gets your creative juices flowing?

Kimberly: I get my inspiration from a lot of different sources.  Many times a story line or scene will come to me while I’m driving my car to or from work. Sometimes, I’ll wake up with a plot idea or a block of dialogue.  You never know.

Beverley: Do you have a favorite cartoon character? Why?

Kimberly: I have always loved Bullwinkle and Rocky.  They were my favorite cartoon characters growing up because I many times, even as a child, got some of the double meanings in the dialogue.  It was fun to watch.

Beverley: Who would you love most to meet ‘in person’ and why?

Kimberly: I would love to meet Sam Heughan from Outland.  I think he’s a great guy, on top of being drop dead gorgeous.  My only problem would be that I would probably be tongue tied and not be able to say anything. 

Beverley: If you had an unexpected free day what would you do with it?

Kimberly: I would spend it riding my horse.

Beverley: What are you working on now?

Kimberly: I’m currently working on the third book in my Horses Heal Hearts series, which will tell the story of Lionel Hayes, whom my readers met first in Dressage Dreaming.  The book will be set in the world of competitive show jumping.

Blurb for Dressage Dreaming (Horses Heal Hearts Book One)

Michael Stafford was on top of the world.  A proud member of the British Olympic Dressage Team and Olympic gold medalist, his life was perfect.  Then, he lost his mount, his fiancée left him for another man, and now his brother has been arrested for manslaughter.  He believes his luck has turned when he learns that a beautiful and talented stallion is available in Germany, just in time to compete in the next World Cup competition.   The horse’s name is Tempest.

Jessica Warren is an up and coming American dressage prodigy with a brilliant future. Orphaned at the age of 21 when her parents were tragically killed in a car accident and the legal guardian of her younger sister, Jessica has lost her competition mount to injury and needs a new horse if she wants to compete in next year’s World Cup.  She learns of a spectacular horse available in Germany named Tempest, but when Jessica arrives in Germany with her trainer, she discovers she will have to compete with the extremely handsome and talented Michael Stafford for the right to ride Tempest.  Jessica has nothing but respect for Michael, but sparks fly when they’re thrown together in a competition that both must win.  Who will win Tempest?  Will Michael and Jessica follow their hearts or will their personal demons keep them apart?

Buy Link for Dressage Dreaming (Horses Heal Hearts Book One)

Dressage Dreaming (Horses Heal Hearts Book 1)

Blurb for Racing Toward Love (Horses Heal Hearts Book Two)

Ian Stafford is a former British Special Forces soldier and Afghanistan war veteran who still has nightmares after watching his best friend cut down by a sniper in a remote village in Afghanistan. When he sees a woman in a local pub begin harassed and threatened, he intervenes. During the ensuing brawl, the woman escapes, but Ian accidentally stabs one of his attackers who later dies.  Ian is charged with manslaughter, and the woman who can exonerate him has disappeared.

Megan Brady and her father Daniel never imagined that the thoroughbred colt they raised from birth would grow up to be a contender for the British Triple Crown.  Seabiscuit II is the last horse you might imagine as a champion if judged by looks alone.  Like his namesake, Seabiscuit II is not much to look at, but has a heart as big as all outdoors, and refuses to be beaten.  Unfortunately, the Irish mob has also taken notice, and has approached Megan’s brother Stephen with an offer of a bribe to purposely lose the most important race of his career.  Stephen refused, and Megan has taken it upon herself to thwart the mob, but their brutal tactics nearly see her raped until Ian steps in to save her.  Megan knows she must come out of hiding to exonerate Ian, but knows if she does, the mob will be there too.  Meanwhile the date of the big race approaches.

Can Megan’s example of courage in the face of overwhelming odds, and the will to prevail even when the going looks tough, help Ian come to grips with his grief, and give him the courage to forgive himself and allow himself to live and love again? Will Ian be able to trust Megan with his heart?

Buy Links for Racing Toward Love (Horses Heal Hearts Book Two)

Racing Toward Love (Horses Heal Hearts Book 2)

You can find Kim on her website at

Show, don’t tell is a technique that fiction writers learn when they start writing. I can’t remember how long ago I heard it or where. And over the years you still hear it in workshops and writing articles. It’s one of the foundations of writing. Many of us struggle with the difference and when I get edited there’s often still a comment about “not telling.”

You don’t use an adjective, summarize or describe the event. You pull the reader into your story with action words, thought, senses and feelings.   The concept has been attributed to Anton Chekov. Apparently, he wrote to his brother and said, “In descriptions of Nature one must seize on small details, grouping them so that when the reader closes his eyes, he gets a picture. For instance, you’ll have a moonlit night if you write that on the mill dam a piece of glass from a broken bottle glittered like a bright little star, and that the black shadow of a dog or a wolf rolled past like a ball.”


Focus on actions and reactions, use strong verbs, not adverbs or adjectives, and play to the readers senses to draw them into the story and feel the characters emotions and the setting.

If your character is tall, don’t say – He was tall. (Tell) Say something like he ducked under the doorway when he entered the room. (Show)

Anger can be show by describing the character slamming his fist, raising his voice or the color of his face reddening.

Here’s one a little more complex. When he hugged her, she knew he had been smoking and was nervous. (Tell)

She wrapped her arms around him. The stale mustiness of a pipe enveloped her, and he shivered. (Show)

Here’s one more. It was fall. (Tell) He scuffled through the piles of leaves. They crunched under his feet. (Show)

Show don’t tell  sounds easy, but it can be difficult to apply and easy to slip it into a story, but it makes it so much better for the reader.

Claire Gem is an award winning-author of supernatural suspense, contemporary romance, and women’s fiction. She also writes Author Resource guide books and presents seminars on writing craft and marketing. Her supernatural suspense, Hearts Unloched , won the 2016 New York Book Festival, and was a finalist in the 2017 RONE Awards.

Claire loves exploring the paranormal and holds a certificate in Parapsychology from Duke University’s Rhine Research Center. She earned her MFA in creative writing from Lesley University.

A New York native, Claire now lives in Massachusetts with her husband of 40 years. When she’s not writing, she works for Tufts University in the field of scientific research. She is available for seminars and media interviews and loves to travel for book promotional events.

Beverley: Which genre or genres do you write or prefer to write? And why?

Claire : My favorite genre to write is supernatural romantic suspense, i.e., romances with ghost stories. I’m fascinated with the paranormal, and have a strange affinity for old buildings and graveyards. All of my books thus far have been influenced by a place I’ve visited or read about.

Beverley: Who influenced you the most in deciding to become a writer?

Claire: That’s easy. Seventh grade English, many moons ago, I had a teacher named Nancy Prather. She was a tiny sprite of a woman with the energy of a sparrow and the aggressiveness of a hawk. She taught me the basics of structure—beginning, middle, and end of a piece, and how to connect both ends. At first, I was terrified to tackle the writing assignments she gave, since many were really creative writing. She would give us a prompt and we had to write something. One day, as she called us up to her desk to receive our latest paper, she looked me in the eye and said, “Young lady, you have a real talent for writing. Don’t let this go to waste.” It’s become my mantra ever since.

Beverley: What gets your creative juices flowing?

Claire: A spooky old building with a sketchy history. Mysteries about people or places. Unique, tiny towns in the middle of nowhere. And urban legends. My first Haunted Voices novel, HEARTS UNLOCHED, was inspired by an urban legend from a little town near where my husband grew up. He’d been telling me the same story for years before, one day, driving through the area, the idea hit me: a haunted hotel on a lake rumored to have been the Mafia’s body dumping ground. I signed up for Nanowrimo, sat down on November 1st , and thirty days later, had most of the novel completed. The title won the 2016 New York Book Festival.

Beverley: Do you have a favorite cartoon character? Why?

Claire: Another easy one, although Boss Baby is a fairly recent Pixar creation. The reason? For one, I love his attitude and spunk. For another, my grandson says my beloved Persian kitten looks like Boss Baby. And so, the kitten is registered as Boss Baby Leo.

Beverley: Who would you love most to meet ‘in person’ and why?

Claire: I used to say Nora Roberts, because she is so prolific and such a favorite author of mine. But after recently taking a Masterclass by Dan Brown, I’d have to say he’s the one I’d love to have lunch with. The man has an easy, approachable teaching style and I would love to pick his brain.

Beverley: What are you working on now?

Claire: I actually have two projects going now. One is called PIGMENTS, and is about a psychic DNA analyst who can access the memories of artists whose DNA is trapped within the layers of oil paint. The other is ELECTRICITY and takes place close to home. I work at the Tufts School of Veterinary Medicine in North Grafton, and the campus resides on what used to be Grafton State Hospital—a mental asylum. Most of the buildings have either been demolished or repurposed except for one. I’ve been given a sneak peek inside and researched its history. This building housed the most “excited” patients, meaning the most violent and disturbed. Those with no chance of ever going home. That’s where my heroine, Mercedes Donohue, is working with an electrical team to renovate the building. I’m hoping to have ELECTRICITY ready for release later this spring.

Blurb for Civil Hearts A Haunted Voices Novel

He’s a sexy Southern gentleman—with epilepsy. She’s a widow scarred from her late husband’s brain cancer. Her new home, an abandoned antebellum mansion, is haunted by a Confederate soldier—and she’s a Yankee.

A widow with no family, web designer Liv Larson yearns for big change. After all, she can work from anywhere, right? Why not throw a dart at the map? She heads out of the big city for the rural South and falls in love as soon as she arrives—with the Belle Bride, an abandoned antebellum mansion.

Heath Barrow loves his country life, managing his antiques store in sleepy Camellia. But he’s lonely, and his condition—epilepsy—makes life uncertain. It’s already cost him a marriage. A new medication and the new girl in town have his heart hopeful again.

Sparks fly between Heath and Liv. But his first seizure sends Liv into a tailspin. Its mimics those her husband suffered before he died . . .

To make matters worse, Liv discovers she’s not living alone. Her challenge? Dealing with a Confederate soldier, one who clearly resents his Yankee roommate—even though he’s been dead for over a hundred and fifty years.

Book Trailer:

Buy Links for Civil Hearts

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You can find Claire at








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March has arrived and in most parts of the North American continent it came in like a lion. One hope it will leave like a lamb. March is the month of St. Patrick’s Day and the Ides of March. It’s also Nutrition month and I wrote a little on that on my website ( ) , Women’s History month and the first day of spring is this month.

Do you use themes in your writing? Do you like reading when the story touches on a monthly theme? They could be used as setting or maybe part of a plot. There are many monthly themes. The most common of course is December with Christmas, Christmas Eve, Hanukah, and New Year’s Eve. February has Valentine’s Day, April, and sometimes March, has Easter, June first day of summer, July 4th (or 1st in Canada) September has Labor Day October Halloween (and Thanksgiving in Canada) and in November the American Thanksgiving.

I’ve used Christmas. It’s always good in a romance and/or family setting. New Year’s Eve can be a great time in a plot for meeting someone, or maybe starting new. And Valentine’s Day – I don’t think I need to say anything there. I’ve used a few of the themes, not a lot, but I’m thinking it might be fun to use more in my writing, particularly as part of the plot. And I do enjoy the Christmas themes and Valentine’s for romance plots.

I’d love to hear if you use themes in your writing or enjoy reading about them. Any special or quirky ones you remember?