Victoria Distracts Writer

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This is my friend Darlene Jones. We are both writers. When I visited her in Victoria, we had a lovely time, but she tells me she has a problem. She can’t knuckle down to work. Here’s why, and she tells it in her own words:

Victoria, BC is a very dangerous city. We moved here a year ago and it’s a wonder I get any writing done. The view of The Gorge from our living room and the mild weather lure me outside. The beautiful historic buildings in a downtown that’s always bustling with tourists and entertainment and food trucks—impossible to resist and we can get there by water taxi. Is there a better way to travel for a leisurely Saturday lunch and afternoon of fun?

Then there’s the list of attractions demanding to be explored: Craigdarroch Castle, Point Ellice House, Fort Rodd, Ross Bay Villa, Fisherman’s Wharf (with the lovely houseboats and an assortment of restaurants and seals to feed), Chinatown (the second largest in North America)  …

point ellice house.

And the list of natural sights to be enjoyed: Beacon Hill Park, Ogden Point (where the cruise ships dock), Mount Tolmie offering a panoramic view of the city, Dallas Road following the ocean shore, the Butchart Gardens ….


And the list of restaurants enticing us with their varied menus: Glo, Milestones, Green Leaf Vietnamese Bistro, La Taquisa ….

How to fit all of that in and still find time to write and market my books? Somehow I manage, and a new book will soon be ready for publication.

Meanwhile, the first novel of my Em and Yves Series, EMBATTLED, is available free. And, the second can be yours free too when you subscribe to my newsletter. For more information go to:


Miriam Wakerly Revisits the Sixties – Secrets in Appley Green

 My guest today is the lovely Miriam Wakerly. You may remember her from other posts when we introduced her novels “Shades of Appley Green,” “Gypsies Stop tHere,” and “No Gypsies Served.” I’m happy to host Miriam again to tell you of her latest novel. portraitmw

Anneli has been sharing writerly tips for a while now over on the LoveaHappyEnding Lifestyle magazine. It’s wonderful how authors help each other. Thank you so much for having me on your website, Anneli.

I have started running writing workshops with the rather stupendous idea of covering all aspects of novel writing in three hours! The workshop preparation and process has rekindled in me a love of writing and all the challenges it poses. It is rather like learning to drive at first, with so many different things to think of, especially in those all-important opening lines, pages, and chapters.  Setting the scene, developing a style, introducing and growing  characters the reader will care about, planting credible hooks to keep the reader turning the pages, with the overall structure and way forward always there in the back of your mind – it’s daunting sometimes but wonderful when it all comes together. The best bit is when your characters begin to think and act for themselves in a given situation. Then you know they have become ‘real’, yet still creatures of fiction.

Going back to my teenage years, riding on a wave of nostalgia, made me think hard about the Sixties. How different 1960 was from the years that followed!  The attitudes and general way of life particularly fascinated me and made me ponder on how much those of us who can remember the Sixties have changed since then – apart from simply growing older. Having said that, human emotion pretty much endures – the pain of injustice, rejection, and lost love, the double-edged joy of being in love, the happiness friendship brings, the spirits uplifted on a sunny day in a lovely garden.

The setting is an English village, the same place as my first three novels. If you’ve read any of my other books, Gypsies Stop tHere, No Gypsies Served and Shades of Appley Green, you will recognise some of the older characters – as they were over fifty years ago!

Three naïve, but very different, Appley Green schoolgirls pledge to stick together forever, but when one of them gets pregnant, this pushes their promise to the edge.

A young girl in need of love is vulnerable to the charms of an older man with heartbreaking consequences.

These are Great Britain’s Sixties, an exciting era, gathering pace, then in full swing as social change sweeps aside past attitudes, laws, fashion, and culture. Youth is finding a voice as parents struggle to adjust.  Its characters span the full social spectrum and take us beyond Appley Green to Brighton, Margate, London, Vienna, and Paris.

Miriam Wakerly’s  Appley Green village stories all standalone and can be read in any order, but they are connected. This one can serve as a prequel to all three, especially Shades of Appley Green.

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I hope you enjoy Secrets in Appley Green – A 1960s village novel. The Kindle version is available on amazon outlets, paperback to follow within a few weeks.


Blog: Miriam’s Ramblings 

Miriam’s books in the UK:  

Miriam’s books in the US and Canada: 

Llm link to articles about English village life:  





Knowing Your Characters

How well do you know the characters you build your novel around? Do you know them well enough that you find yourself thinking about them when you’re not writing? Without realizing that you’ve slipped into their character, do you ever find yourself talking the way they talk? Do you find yourself using their pet expressions? If you do, then chances are that your readers will also be thinking about these characters when they read your book. But how do we achieve this level of intimacy with our fictional characters?

When I first started writing, I sometimes caught myself assigning the wrong physical traits on my characters. Maybe the man had blue eyes at the beginning of the story and brown eyes later in the book. Or maybe he was 5′ 11″ at first and a week later grew to be 6′ 2″. This kind of mistake can be  a serious  threat to your reputation as an author, especially if you have a wide, soon to be dwindling, readership. Luckily, I caught these mistakes in time and I was determined to avoid them in the future.

The discrepancy in physical appearance is not the only problem we need to be aware of. We also need to take care with the actions we have our characters performing. We need to know our character’s personality well enough to determine if they would do the thing we have them doing, or speak the way we have them speaking.

Before you write, it’s a good idea to do a character analysis for your main actors. It need not be fancy or indepth. A few notes will do, but if you have them written down you can refer to them any time you are unsure of what attributes you gave your hero back in chapter two.

Charts and lists are available from a variety of sources. Simply google character analysis  or character profiles for writers and you’ll find them.

I’d like to list some of the basic points of information you should have written down somewhere (be it on post-it notes or on a computer file or on paper) before you begin your novel.

  • Name, gender, age and physical appearance are the first, most obvious, ones.
  • How the character feels about his/her appearance. (This can have a profound effect on his/her behaviour in the book.)
  • Family, friends, education, and domiciles
  • Marital status, job experience, relationships within the family and with co-workers.
  • Sex, religion, political and moral beliefs
  • General health, intelligence
  • Manner of speaking, voice, dialect, slang, accent
  • What is he/she proud/ashamed of?
  • The character’s goals in the story, and what stands in his/her way

Once you have made notes on this character, you will feel as if you know them in real life and this will most likely transfer to your readers’ perception of that character too.

My French-Canadian character, Monique, in The Wind Weeps, had a habit of conflating two English expressions when she was trying to learn that language. She had heard, “Sure thing,” and “For sure,” but in her case it came out “For sure t’ing.” While I was writing this novel, Monique was in my head a lot. I felt as if I really knew her.

Was I glad I had done a character analysis of her before writing?

For sure t’ing!

Did I get to like her a lot as I wrote this book?

For sure t’ing!

Will it help you to write your novel if you do a character analysis first?

For sure t’ing!

Will readers internalize these characters more readily and love to read about them?

For sure t’ing!





My face is on every television, in every newspaper. They say I’m saving the world. I know better. I’m a school principal not a superhero.

Of course that doesn’t explain the blood on my hands. Or the strange languages coming out of my mouth. Or the feel of swinging a machete. Or the sensation of lifting off the ground before I lose all memory.

Someone or something has hijacked my life. How do I get it back?

Alien contact leads to adventure and love as the characters involve themselves in world affairs in this science fiction novel series. But are humans given second chances after our superhero fights war or will the gods decide our fate?


“Sue,” Tom called. “You here?”

“In the supply room. Gotta check the back-up tapes. What do you need?”

“The Boss in?”

“Haven’t seen her.”

Tom took a step back, and surveyed the office. “Her door’s closed. Coast is clear. Listen Sue, what’s up with her?”

Sue shrugged. “I don’t know. She’s been vague and forgetful lately. Not like her at all.”

“Loses her train of thought. Did you notice her struggling for words at the staff meeting? That’s not like her at all. Normally sharp as a tack.”

Sue glanced out the door. Two teachers were passing through the office on their way to the staff room. She waited until they’d gone and lowered her voice. “Do you think we should talk to her?”

“I tried. As diplomatically, as I could.” Sue arched her brows. Tom chuckled. “Okay, so I asked her outright if she was okay.”


“I don’t know. It was like she didn’t hear me. Like she was someplace else.”

“Do you think we should call her family?”

“Yeah, you should.”


She didn’t need to overhear that conversation to know she was slipping away. Away to that other world.

And later in the story:

She picked up the phone, dialed Tom’s room. “Can you come to my office please?”

“What’s up, Boss. You sounded worried and I don’t mind telling you, you look like hell.”

She took a deep breath. “Do you believe in extraterrestrial beings?”

“Whoa, girl. Where did that come from?”

She shifted in her chair. “I… Nothing. Sorry. It was a bad dream I had last night. Spooked me is all.”

Tom frowned. “Are you sure you’re not sick or something?”

She nodded. “Yeah, sorry to have bothered you.” She waved a hand at him. “Now get out of here. Back to the kidlets.” Her grin was wobbly.

Tom grinned back, but felt like cursing. He found Sue refilling her coffee cup in the staffroom. “She’s not okay, is she?”

“No, and I don’t mind telling you I’m worried sick. She asked me today if I believed in aliens and then seemed heart broken when I said no. I thought she’d burst into tears then and there.”

“So what do we do?”

“I’ve called her family like you suggested last time we talked. Waiting to hear back.”

Tom squeezed Sue’s shoulder. “Let me know as soon as you get word. I’ll go with you to talk to them.”

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Author Darlene Jones

Get your FREE copy of “Embattled” by Darlene Jones. Fascinating reading.

Hooked by a Whale

Novelists have to consider the hook in almost every part of their writing. The title should hook the reader and lure him into picking up the book. The first lines of the novel should grab the reader and make him want to read more. The end of the chapter should leave the reader wanting more. If he wants to turn the page, he’s hooked and that’s where you want him to be.

I’ve talked about the hook at the beginning of the book in a few earlier posts, but I haven’t mentioned the hook that is needed at the end of a scene or chapter. We don’t want the reader putting down our book and not thinking about it ever again. Ideally we want to have them lose sleep and need to continue reading all through the night, but I’ll be satisfied if the reader thinks about my book after closing the pages to give the eyes a rest, as long as that reader picks up the book again at earliest convenience.

When I was teaching, I came across an old book I recognized in the school library discard pile. The librarian said it was being thrown out because it was hardly ever signed out. Not many pictures. Old plain cover. Not very exciting. I took that book to my class and read it to them a chapter at a time, just as my teacher had read this same book to my class when I was a student in elementary school. I remember wishing she would just keep on reading to us and never mind the lessons we needed to get on with. Why? Because the author had us hooked at the end of every chapter.

Here is the book: “The Baby Whale: Sharp Ears” by John Y. Beaty.

005It is very old, and so I was not surprised to find some parts of the story not valid anymore. At one point the author says that the “sperm whale is the largest animal that has ever lived.” When I read this to my class they looked at me questioningly and said, “No, that’s not right. It’s the blue whale.” But it didn’t dampen their enthusiasm for this old book. See the age in the photo below:

001The book may have contained some dated information and certainly a dated language style, but when I made adjustments for this as I read, the children in my classes were always HOOKED by the whale.

Here are some examples of the last paragraphs of chapters from this book. You can see why the children wanted me to go on reading.

002So what was going to happen next time, and what would poor Sharp Ears do when he couldn’t have his mother nearby to help him? This could be so bad! We need to know more. Turn the page!

Here is another final paragraph that hooked us.

003What an exciting book this was! And what could be more dangerous than this? Turn the page!

004Oh no! The kids were almost in tears at the end of this chapter. Deserted by their mothers! We had to resolve this one, and quickly! I read on this time. I turned the page.

Of course Sharp Ears falls in love and everything is all right again, until the end of the next chapter, and so it went to the end of the book.

I loved this book as a child, and later, when I read this treasure to my classes, many more children were hooked by the whale.

One of my boys was so enthralled by the story that at the end of the school year, he  and his mother bought me one of the most meaningful gifts of my career. On the last day of school, he proudly presented me with a small replica of Sharp Ears.


Sharp Ears sits in my kitchen window where I can see him most often. I have very fond memories of those wonderful storybook times with my classes. But one of the most important things I learned from reading to children, is valid for reading of any sort: we want to be hooked so we have a craving to know more. So writers, hook your readers!

Free Coastal Drama


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Adventure, drama, suspense, and a trip up the coast of British Columbia — If you have not read The Wind Weeps, grab your free digital copy now on amazon or on smashwords. Follow it up with the conclusion to Andrea’s story in Reckoning Tide. Here is a sample of the beginning of Reckoning Tide.


You’re mine!

To have,

To hold,

No matter how hard.

You’re mine!

Give me honour,


And do as you’re told.

You’re mine!

In sickness,

My sickness,

Comes hell.

You’re mine!

This day forward,

’Til death,

Do us part.

Chapter 1

“Nurse!” I screamed. “Nurse, come back!” Robert’s smile vanished. He advanced and tossed the three orchids onto the foot of my bed.

I twisted around grasping for the cord with the call button. “Get away from me!” I hit the button frantically.

Robert lunged at me. “No, Andrea. Don’t!” He ripped the cord away from me. I pulled my fist back to punch him, but he was quick and caught my wrist in an iron grip. His eyes narrowed into slits.

“Nurse!” I yelled again. He clamped a hand over my mouth. Flashbacks of what that hard hand had done to me went through my mind. I bit down on his fingers, my terror lending me extra strength.

“Arrrgh! You bitch!” Robert’s eyes grew wide. He stared at me with a glassy look that I remembered too well. He drew his arm across his chest to backhand me, but dropped it when the nurse appeared.

“What’s going on here?” the nurse demanded. Margaret was a hefty woman. She filled most of the doorway as she stood with her hands on her hips. “Sir! Come away from the bed.”

“She bit me!” he said, unable to keep the whine out of his voice. “I brought her flowers—orchids, her favourite kind—and she bit me!”

I gasped at his outrageous boldfaced ploy, twisting the truth. “He tried to kill me. Don’t let him near me. He’s the one I told you about.”

“Now, Andrea.” Robert’s voice, silky smooth, sent ripples of terror up my spine. “You know that’s not true.” He turned to the nurse and slowly shook his head. “I’m her husband. You see, she’s had quite a shock. We had an argument and she set fire to our cabin and ran away when she thought I had died in the fire. I guess she’s surprised to see that I’m still alive.”

The nerve of him! I tried to get out of bed. “No! No-no-no!” I had to get the nurse to believe me. “He’s twisting it all around. He tried to kill me.”

The nurse was quick to put her hand out. “Stay in bed, Andrea.” She looked flustered and tried to calm us both. But no wonder she was confused. The whole situation was so bizarre. She looked from Robert to me and back to Robert again.

Would she side with Robert?

“Sir,” she said, “would you mind going to the waiting room down the hall? I’m sure the RCMP would like to speak with you, too. They’ll be here soon to interview Andrea.”

Robert raised his chin and gave me a smirk. “That was fast,” he said. “We’ll soon get to the bottom of the situation then.”

The nurse escorted him out the door. “We called them this morning when she woke up,” I heard her say as they walked down the hall.

The nurse had explained to me earlier that the police have to make a report in cases where there has been violence, especially since a gun was found in my fanny pack. The gun I pointed at him last week. Should have pulled the damn trigger.


You will find paperback and digital versions of Reckoning Tide on amazon outlets and on (for e-readers other than Kindle). Just click on the links:

For more about Anneli Purchase and her books, visit her at

Book cover design by Anita B. Carroll.

Fun and Sassy Sheryl Browne

UK author Sheryl Browne has done it again. She’s written another engaging romantic page turner.

Here’s Sheryl to tell introduce her newest release to us.

Sheryl and dogs 2

The Rest of My Life – When is it time to stop running?

Recommended to Choc Lit by the WH Smith Travel fiction buyer my contemporary romance novel, The Rest of My Life, is here!!

Fun, sassy and a tad naughty in places …

Tweet - Mocha

Are we tempted?


Just a little bit?

The Rest of My Life

 “You can’t run away from commitment forever … “

Adam Hamilton-Shaw has more reason than most to avoid commitment. Living on a houseboat in the Severn Valley, his dream is to sail into the sunset – preferably with a woman waiting in every port. But lately, his life looks more like a road to destruction than an idyllic boat ride…

Would-be screenplay writer Sienna Meadows realises that everything about Adam spells trouble – but she can’t ignore the feeling that there is more to him than just his bad reputation. Nor can she ignore the intense physical attraction that exists between them.

And it just so happens that Adam sees Sienna as the kind of woman he could commit to. But can he change his damaging behaviour – or is the road to destruction a one-way street?

Fancy a peek at the video?

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Choc Lit

Heartache, humour, love, loss & betrayal, bestselling author Sheryl Browne brings you edgy, sexy, poignant fiction. A member of the Crime Writers’ Association, Romantic Novelists’ Association and shortlisted for Innovation in Romantic Fiction, Sheryl has seven books published.

Sheryl’s new contemporary romance novel was recommended to the publisher by the WH Smith Travel fiction buyer.

THE REST OF MY Life comes to you from award winning Choc Lit.

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