Tag Archives: guest post

Motivational Speaker and Author Marion Levi Jones

Happy Monday creatives! I hope everyone enjoyed their Easter weekend. Also remember it is National Autism Awareness Month.

I wanted to end April on a positive note with enriching food for thought for those feeling overwhelmed in the struggle that comes from living life experiences. My guest today is motivational author and someone who has been there and survived that- Mr. Marion Levi Jones. Please join me in welcoming Marion to Clara54’s Writer’s Blog.

I’m here to help others who were like me, to encourage, to motivate and lift their spirits to become better than they were when out in the streets. Show them that they’re not alone and here for a purpose greater than themselves. I was lost for over 35 yrs since my dad died but it took me until the age of 50 to hear a click and to get it right. God kept me even in my mess to become who He wanted me to be. Now I’m giving back. Was able to write about my drugging days in my first book Poems From Within Me, A Recovering Addict.

Then how God changed me spiritually in my second book The Full Picture Of Marion Levi Jones. Eleven years clean and just last year became a Deacon in my church. So, if you need someone like me that will tell it like it is, please let me know.

Marion L. Jones  books share his story of how he made it through his trials and tribulations caught up in addiction. He informs his readers how there is always a road leading to a way out.  His first book Poems From Within Me was completed in 2006, a gift he says was given to him by The Almighty.

Contact the author @ Levijones55@yahoo.com

A Poet on Publishing by Joy Dekok

Happy Friday to all readers,writers, authors and critics! I know you’re out there and gosh, where would creatives be if we didn’t have you to make us better, instead of bitter, when it comes to honing our craft?

Today, guest author and poet Joy Dekok, will share insights on the ins and outs of writing poetry, including how poets feel about sending their gems out into a critical/opinionated world. Plus, Joy shares a poem with us!


We write poetry and hide it – because it’s too personal or too political or too religious and we just don’t talk about those things. Which is peculiar since I was raised in the sixties and seventies and everyone, including the adults in my life, were talking about everything that was once taboo. And today, almost anything is acceptable.
Maybe with the exception of our poetry. The words that form in our souls.
Sometimes we hide the poetry so deep we forget it’s there – in our souls longing for release. Others of us might say we like to read poetry, or we might whisper to someone that we even write a little bit of it, but call ourselves poets? No way. And share it? Never. Publish it? Are you kidding me? We feel an anger driven fear when anyone mentions it certain they just do not get it.

But I do.
Sharing our poetry in pubic is like holding out our heart in one hand and our soul in the other. To the world. Where we might be rejected, ridiculed, or reviled.
I get that.
But still.

In the cacophony of this world, so full of war, hate, and chaos, what if your words have the power to help or heal even one heart? What if your words not only matter, what if they were given to you to make a difference?
Idealistic? Yes. Because sometimes people need us to reach beyond the practical to the passionate. That’s what poets do. It’s part of our calling.
Like many poets, I struggle with sharing my poetry. So much so, that I did what we do – I wrote a poem about it. As I wrote it I was sure I wouldn’t share it. Then I did. Because even though is long and different, it matters. So do yours.

I wish I could but I just can’t.
Or maybe it’s more like I just shant!

Publish my poetry – are you kidding me?
Putting it out there for others to read?

Give the world a glimpse into my heart?
Let them criticize my soul’s art?

Besides, nobody’s publishing poetry these days
It’s an endless, relentless rejection maze.

Why should I put myself out there?
Do you really think anyone else will care?

What would my words look like on the printed page,
My faith, my dreams and even my rage?

Although I live and walk in the Light,
My poems reveal my heart’s darkest nights.

Would anyone read something written by me?
I think that I’ll just let it be.

Unpublished is the way to go,
I’ll avoid this public talent show.

Tucked in a file drawer where no one can see
Is the best place my poem can be.

Help someone else I heard you say,
So why don’t you blaze the way?

You burned up your words a long time ago,
And left a pile of ashes and a bit of after-glow.

Oh – you’ve written more since then?
Have you shared them? Where and When?

This sounds so easy for you.
So what do you think I should do?

It’s not up to you to decide?
Then I think I prefer to stay and hide.

Do you believe my poems really matter?
Unkindness might cause my heart to shatter.

I’m not sure that I can take the chance,
My words might sing but can they dance?

I know I won’t know until I try,
But the effort might cause the words to die.

Again I hear you say the choice is mine,
And that either way I’ll be just fine.

You want me to listen to my inner voice –
I’m a poet Joy – I have no other choice.

That voice speaks to me day and night,
Delivering words I’m compelled to write.

But publish them might be too much,
I might not even have the real touch.

I’m not sure I can afford the cost –
I’m not ready to let my words get tossed,

You know the ways of publication,
I won’t be able to stand the humiliation,

I know rejection waits for me
I cannot do that – don’t you see?

These words are the breath of my soul,
Publishing has never been the goal.

And yet I have to agree with you –
I want to write and be read too.

How will I balance these opposing thoughts?
And what will be the final cost?

I feel a transition moving in,
And don’t know exactly how to begin.

Are you ever so scared your soul seems to shake?
This is a risk I’m not sure I can take. . .

The risk I mean is the one where
I hide my poems and refuse to share.

Where I keep the words in a hidden place
and refuse to give them a public space.

There’s one more thing I have to know
Before I release my words for show. . .

Will you share this poem with anyone?
Writing like you’re me must have been fun.

Sharing your poetry is setting beauty free to invade the hearts and minds of those who read it. What will you do with yours?

Joy started writing as a little girl. She carries a large purse so she can take her journal and an assortment of pens with her in case a moment to jot comes along.
Joy and her husband live on thirty-five acres of woods and field in Minnesota between Rochester and Pine Island. She’s been married to Jon for thirty-plus years. They enjoy their many nieces and nephews. Their dogs, Sophie and Tucker, keep them company when they explore the land riding their John Deere Gator or while watching the many birds that visit their feeders. Joy enjoys time with her family, holding hands with her husband, lunch with friends, hot coffee, reading, bird watching, personal Bible study, and amateur photography.
She has nine books in print and including her first general audience (suspense) novel (the first in The Northern Lights Series) featuring main character, Olivia Morgan.
Faith is a vital part of Joy’s life. When she was sixteen, Joy asked God to find her and He did. Although most of her books fit the Christian market, Between the Lies is where Joy proves she is a Christian who writes rather than a Christian writer.



What a treat:) Did you guys enjoy this post and extra something for poetry lovers? Please share your thoughts.

The Writing Life aka My Crazy World by Patti J. Smith

Happy Friday to my fellow readers, writer, authors and creatives! I was outside taking in the stillness of the morning with a cup of java. My only companions were chirping robins and a mulberry tree that was weighted down by its lush green leaves. My brother, who was a poet, once wrote how the simple things in life were the only things he truly enjoyed and I have to agree. The simple pleasures of Mother Nature are ever humbling:)

I’m excited to share a glimpse into the writing life of Patti J. Smith. In May, Patti invited me to take a seat “In The Authors Chair”segment on her blog where she hosts other writers and authors who want to share with readers about their work. Please join me in welcoming this accomplished writer and author to clara54.


A writer sits at wooden desk pushed up against a large picture window that opens to fields of flowers. The room, located in a secluded area of the house, is quiet except for the chirping of birds and whispering breeze.

Ahh, the life of a writer … maybe in a perfect world!

For this writer, it’s a recliner with a laptop, in the living room with two dogs, a very loud parrot and bell-ringing cockatiel. I’m a caregiver for my 86 year-old father and 82 year-old uncle and they wander in to remind me of days gone by, provide commentary on recent world events or ask for a ride. When my husband comes home from work he joins the party. Such a glamorous life.

What do I do?

I’ve become a creature of the night. During the day I care-give and delve into the world of domesticity. In my mind I ponder how I want to proceed on a recent project, sit down and do a little editing, work on social media promotions and take a mid-day nap. Once everyone is tucked tightly in their beds, the dogs asleep and the birds covered, my laptop screen comes alive and my fingers fly across the keyboard. My husband rises at 4:30 a.m. and finds me tap, tap, tapping away.

What do I write?

I am a cross-genre writer. I began with Christian devotionals and thanks to my ever-persistent and confident publisher, I’ve expanded to light romance and suspense/thrillers. Switching between genres (sometimes in the same night), keeps me from over-focusing which, for me, is the cause of an author’s worse nightmare – writers block.


Inspiration can come from anywhere; however, my devotional topics usually filter into my mind during prayer or Mass. Romance inspiration comes from daydreaming or traveling back in time … reliving romantic moments of my own. Suspense/thrillers are roused by nightmares and plunging my mind into my deepest darkest fears.

The Topic of Time

I feel the Holy Spirit guiding me and I have been known to finish one in a week. Yes! A week. Sometimes the Holy Spirit wants the word out immediately, and who am I to argue? The light romances and suspense/thrillers are a different story. In stark contrast to devotionals, my short-story fiction usually take three to four weeks. My pace slows as my mind wanders to, “How can I describe something that will result in the reader turning into a hopeless romantic or someone feeling the need to check the closets and under the bed?”
Faith in Genres

Some of my author friends have called me “Dr. Jekyll and Patti J. Smith”, or the “Sybil” of the writing world. Regardless of genre, I strive to bring faith into each one because faith belongs everywhere, and it’s the guiding force of my life. No one knows what word, sentence or paragraph within a genre will reach out and pull a reader towards Him so I plant seeds everywhere.

The Results

~~A Mended Heart – Rosary Meditations on Forgiveness
~~Journey to Sunset – Rosary Meditations for Caregivers
~~Redeemed – Rosary Meditations for Post-Abortive Women
~~Embrace the Morning – Rosary Meditations to Calm the Storm
~~And God Still Loves Me – A Journey from the Dark Abyss of Sin to God’s Mercy – my personal testimony.
~~Moments with God – The complete collection of the above

~~Behind the Smile – Overcoming Depression through Scripture and Prayer

Light Romance:

The San Francisco Wedding Planner series. The trials and tribulations of a wedding planner – A cooperative effort with four other authors.


Grave Obsessions Series
~~Chiseled Heart
~~Savage Sojourner
~~Shackled Souls (Work in Progress)

All available at http://www.amazon.com/author/pattijsmith.


Patti J. Smith was born in Wimpole Park, England. She lived in England and Morocco as well as several state-side Air Force Bases and considers her father’s last assignment, Moses Lake, Washington, her hometown. She audited for the Dept. of Labor and Veteran’s Administration Offices of Inspector General, served in the U.S. Army Reserve (Transit Control Unit and Criminal Investigation Division) and recently retired as a background investigator.
Patti lives in Vista, CA with her husband and has two (almost three) granddaughters. She serves as a Regional Coordinator for the Silent No More Awareness Campaign, Co-leads Rachel’s Hope After-Abortion Healing Retreats and sings in her parish choir.
She is a prolific blogger and reader, and proudly admits to being a diehard Seattle Seahawks fan and Fantasy Football fanatic. Her travel adventures include Spain, Mexico, Canada, Australia, Fiji, South Korea and almost all states – including Hawaii and Alaska.
Follow her blog: http://www.gridirongrannyfootballfanatic.blogspot.com/
Facebook Fan Page: www.facebook.com/PattiJSmithAuthorPage

Guest Post: Insights Gained While Writing Memoir by Sherrey Meyer

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Happy Friday everyone! If you’ve been following clara54, you know I’ve failed miserably at my attempts to write my memoirs. I’m always on the look out for those brave memoirist who keep going until they reach their goals. And I’ve been so blessed to connect with quite a few writers & authors of the memoir. Please join me in welcoming memoir writer, Sherrey Meyer as she shares insights to writing her memoir.


For most of my life, I wanted to write. Words on paper fascinated me even as a child. Writing exercises in first grade were fun!
My dad was a printer and publisher. I could smell the paper and ink on his skin each evening as he came home. He began teaching me some of the tools of the trade when my age reached double digits. Proofreading and editing became my holiday money-making gambit.
In high school and college, research papers became “writing” on a larger scale. I thrived on those assignments. I loved the search for the best material to prove my point, or the sentence or phrase to place my professor in awe of my writing abilities. I knew I wanted to write something bigger though – a book, something between covers, something others read.
I retired from the working world in 2006 having spent 30 plus years drafting and typing legal briefs and documents. I never wanted to see another brief or contract! BUT I still wanted to write, and so I began.
The book I wanted to write had been marinating inside my head for some time and notes had been made. A little family research done. Some historical documents sought out and filed away. Now I actually had time to write a memoir about a particular part of my life and how it impacted me at the end of my mother’s life.
Where to begin was the elephant in my little writing corner. And so began daily searches online to find the best resources to teach myself about writing memoir.
As I gathered books on the subject, printed out blog posts about memoir, attended a couple of writers’ group meetings on the topic, I decided that I could not wait until I had learned everything about writing memoir, or I’d never get started on my book.

Once you’ve decided you want to write your story, go ahead and start writing, if it’s only a matter of making notes. Your first draft is just that – a first draft. You will have time to edit, revise, and make changes, even add or subtract certain sections, later. Don’t waste good writing time trying to learn everything everyone has ever said about memoir writing. Start writing!

Within your local community, look for opportunities to attend writing group events, especially memoir, or workshops/classes on the subject. I was fortunate early on to hear Jennifer Lauck, author of the New York Times bestseller, Blackbird, a memoir of Lauck’s struggles within a dysfunctional family and the foster care system. By taking advantage of these opportunities, I gained a basic knowledge of what memoir is, how to begin gathering my stories and building a timeline, and writing a first draft. More importantly, I was hearing how other writers worked.
This is not to say that online resources are not valuable. They are. Several blogs and email newsletters on memoir continue as great resources for me.
Once I began drafting my memoir an unexpected realization occurred to me. This. Was. Hard. Work. Yes, hard work. It meant getting into the writing mode each day. Sitting down in a chair in front of a computer and typing. Isn’t that what I’d been doing for 30 some odd years? But, I told myself, this is different. This is my story. Yet this unexpected reality in this somewhat fantastical writing life I had aspired to for so long jolted me at first.

Writing our memoirs is hard work. It means showing up every day ready to write. Of course, you determine how much you write each day, but we must become habitual about our writing. Maybe it isn’t every day for you, but for someone else it is. There is no set formula that fits everyone. But write you must!

Another eye opener is conversations that arise should you decide to talk with family. Differing opinions as to the truth of a particular memory may begin to cause difficulties, even angry discussions. REMEMBER, it’s your story – it’s your truth as you remember it.
If you find yourself confronted with strong opinions against your writing certain things, offer to change identities for family members or leave them out completely and agree not to use images of them. Hopefully they will agree to these concessions. These were issues I didn’t expect I would have to deal with.
Digging back into my memory was easy at first, until I began to sort out certain events and experiences. Sometimes I would find myself questioning events for which I had no rock solid confirmation. I know certain facts about my mother’s life because I have paper records, such as report cards, release papers from employers, my parents’ marriage license, birth certificates, etc. Other events I have nothing but a recollection of stories told by my parents and other family. How do I go about proving that I’m sharing the truth?
An example is her employment during the last 18 months of WWII. Mama was a real-life Rosie the Riveter at a plant in Nashville, TN. She wore the bandana, slacks (oh, my!) and she bucked rivets. According to her stories, an almost thankless job. At the end of the war, she was also one of many women left without work as the men and boys returned. I know this because she told me; an older brother has only vague recollections and a younger brother “never heard of such.” So, what do I do without tangible substantiation?

The truth as you know it should be sufficient as you write your memoir. After all, this is your story. Several memoirs I have read actually include a disclaimer indicating that the story told is as true as the writer’s ability to recall it. Basically, a memoirist writes the truth as he or she knows it.
In this case, if I decide to include this vignette of Mama’s life, I tell the story just as I know it. No references are necessary to my brothers, and I know what she told me, more than once.
Tell your truth as you know it.

These are just a few of many insights you may gain while writing memoir. For me, they have stretched my writing style and mental process. I hope that sharing them here today will help you.

Thank you, Clara, for inviting me to share time and space on your blog. It has been a pleasure.

Sherrey, the pleasure was mine. Thank you for sharing your memoir writing insights with me and my readers! I’m energized to continue to fight the good fight of writing my memoir!

How far have you come on your memoir writing journey? Has Sherrey’s insights given you food for thought?

Here’s a bit more about Sherrey Meyer:

A retired legal secretary, Sherrey Meyer grew tired of drafting and revising pleadings and legal documents. She had always dreamed of writing something else, anything else! Once she retired she couldn’t stay away from the computer, and so she began to write. Among her projects is a memoir of her “life with mama,” an intriguing Southern tale of matriarchal power and control displayed in verbal and emotional abuse.

You can reach Sherrey on her websites: Healing by Writing and Found Between the Covers or via email at salice78@comcast.net.

Don’t Wait For That Stubborn Muse! By Barbara Alvarez

Happy Friday to all writers and authors! It’s scorching here in the Midwest and I’m encouraging everyone coping with this heatwave to stay cool and hydrated. Keep alcohol to a minimum or non existent ( nurse in me) Today, author Barbara Alvarez is going to talk about the thing that can frustrate many creatives in the literary world- our muse! Let’s welcome Barbara to clara54’s writers blog.

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This might happen to you once in a while – you have a great idea for an article or for your new book. When you sit down to write, nothing comes to mind, even though you have an outline sitting right next to you! After staring at your computer screen for 30 minutes, lolling around on Facebook, checking your email and getting your third bottle of water, you wonder if you should just give up. “Maybe I’ll just wait for inspiration to strike. My muse seems to have taken a temporary break.”

Don’t do that. If you “wait for the muse,” she’ll (he’ll?) never join you. Take a walk if you must, but do so with the specific intention of coming back with at least one idea. Take a pen and pad of paper with you so that, if you do get an idea, you can write it down immediately. The paper and pen are important. How many times have you gotten an idea, only to completely forget what it was by the time you sat down at your computer? If you’re like me, that’s happened to you too many times. I bought several cheapie spiral notepads – you know, the ones with the spiral at the top. I have a pen in my purse. When I go anywhere, the pad and pen go with me. Wherever you are, write it down!

Let’s talk about other ways of encouraging inspiration. When I took a feature writing class a few years ago, my instructor required that we all start a notebook. This notebook had the plastic sleeve inserts into which we could add news stories that caught our attention or that became the inspiration for a story. She also had us add a second section so we could jot down those ideas. We were required to come up with seven to 10 ideas per week – and she collected the notebooks and checked them weekly! We had no choice but to “be honest” and generate those ideas. Fortunately, it didn’t matter if the ideas were good or not. As long as we used our gray matter and imagination, we could come up with something.

I’m a big fan of “what if …?” and allowing my imagination to run riot. And yes, my imagination loves going wild. Here’s an example – I live in the oldest part of town. Close by my home, we have one of the oldest parks in the city. Pioneer Women’s Park. Circling the park, which is simply a big square of grass, benches, trees, shrubs and a gazebo, are old houses. These aren’t the cookie-cutter ranch houses. These are the older houses with the deep porches that invite you to put a few chairs or a porch swing out, add a round table and sit out, sipping lemonade on a hot summer evening. The roofs are pitched. These houses aren’t big. Two, maybe three bedrooms, the kitchen, living room and one or two bathrooms. But most of them are well-maintained.

Anyway … I digress. The neighborhood is old and beautiful. There are two houses on one intersection. The first is one of these deep-porch homes, painted a beautiful green. Behind that house is a narrow, two-story house, painted in the same shade of green. Now, here’s where my imagination got all excited and took over. That second house has some whimsical embellishments. A trailing branch with colorful flowers was painted close to the roof. The words, “La Poste” have been attached to the second story. On the ground in front of the house, a metal table with several chairs sits.

When I first noticed this particular house, I was transfixed. I stared at it – and I hope I didn’t scare the owners by doing so! Truthfully, I had a “what-if” moment when I saw that two-story house. Let me break it down for you:

º The “La Poste” generated a whole storyline alone, one that is promising to become a saga;

º The older-neighborhood quality added to that storyline;

º The overall whimsy of the house just jump-started my imagination.

º My “what-if” moment led to me wondering – a story about refugees from the pre-WWII era emigrating to the U.S. I write primarily romance stories. In this planned book, one of the family members is the protagonist, so the story is about her family. As it’s currently planned, this story will wind up being saga-length.

There you have it. The muse might avoid me, but I do all I can to find her. Here’s another take-away for you – at this point, I have roughly six or seven story ideas written down for future writing. I don’t let my muse stay hidden.

Barbara Alvarez has been writing professionally since mid-2008. She began writing for content mills and has gradually branched out into ghostwriting and writing her own material.

Alvarez earned her Journalism and Mass Communications degree from New Mexico State University in 2006, thus starting her second career.

While she writes non-fiction, her first love is fiction – novels, novellas, romance, romantic suspense and YA are her primary specialties.

Alvarez’ goal is to publish several of her books and become well-known as a novelist. So far, she has one novella published and has ideas for at least seven new books.

Links to Barbara’s books:



Barbara’s website: http://barbaraalvarez.naahub.com/

Thanks to Barbara for her candid talk about the almighty muse! How do you deal with a stubborn muse in your creative process? Ignore or welcome its intrusion?

I’ll be taking a break until the end of August! I know it seems like a long time, but, family reunions and brand building projects lay in wait. I encourage you to read through posts from other visiting authors in my absence- some real gems here! If Breaking News occurs, I might be inclined to inform you guys:) Question. Laptop or no while getting your vacation R & R on?

Contest Updates And More…

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Happy Friday Everyone! You all know by now how much I enjoy creative writing contests. This year, my submission to Affiliated Women International “NAME” their women business store contest won third place selection- yay! Those who submitted their 2 page entry into The Mirror Monologues a few months ago, received an update from the playwrights informing us of the magnitude of entrants. We’re told our work is awesome-( paraphrasing here) and the final decision will be handed down in October. I’ve only written one-acts before and gotten ‘merit’ responses, so, it’ll be interesting to see how far my submission goes.

Two short story submissions were rejected (drat) but, I enjoyed writing under the umbrella of a 72 hour window where writers had to draft a story from scratch, taking cues from the competition book cover- such fun and showed that I could write a short story ( 1769 words) with a beginning, middle and end:) An awesome book cover and I so wanted to win it!

Enough crying over spilt milk, already. Let’s move on to even better contests cropping up for your summertime fun as you take a break from that book in progress deadline…

Bill Cosby has developed a fun way to promote his new book, I Didn’t Ask To Be Born (But I’m Glad I Was) by hosting a Cosby Sweater Tournament on his website. You have to vote for your favorite Cosby sweater in each bracket to be entered to win an autographed copy of his book.

Another Book Cover contest (won’t be entering this one) is Show Me Your Cover Contest by Sunshinestateromanceauthors.com.

July Heat Short Story contest (750) word count, deadline July 25th, at julyheat.blogspot.com

Assent Publishing “Rogue Writing” contest at http://www.assentpublishing.com or baddaybooks.wordpress.com for their guidelines.

Zoetrope; All-Story Short Fiction Contest at http://www.all-story.com/contests.cgi. The fee here seems to increase every couple of years.

My guest post is featured today at Monique Muro’s Passion Series Blog @ http://anovelquest.com/passion-series-clara-freeman/ Please stop by for a visit. It was a fun experience.

Okay, that’s it ladies & gents. If you’d like to add other contests to the list, please, don’t be shy. Who is in the mood for summer contests?

Guest Post: The Writing Profession By Jennifer Andrew

Happy Friday everyone! I’m a frequent flyer to this professional writer’s website and I’m so pleased to have her here to share some take away writing gems with all of you. Please welcome Jennifer Andrew to Clara’s Writers Blog!

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When you say you’re a writer, some people ask you what inspired you to write and why you chose the writing profession. I love to read and I like being able to absorb myself in the world of the writer and live an alternative life in his or her eyes. During my teens, through my English and art classes, I discovered poetry, short stories and comic strips which all told a story in one way or another and I fell in love with writing myself. Romance was never my first choice as I was drawn to science fiction, fantasy and the paranormal but I found that in every story there was a romantic element.

The beauty of romance today is that a writer is not stuck to the old stereotype of what a romance should be. You are free to write the story that projects from your heart; whether both characters find each other forever, their love is dark and by the end of the story they can never be together or the character flows through love and discards her partners at a whim. Whichever way you play the romance card, the genre has seen its many changes to enable a writer to create with no holds barred.

I have received mixed reviews on what your main characters should be. I have read that the main characters should be well developed, strong and attractive characters that the reader can be drawn to. I have also read that too much description doesn’t allow for the reader to project the look of the character in his or her own mind. I personally like creating a character that is slightly flawed, but not to the point where the reader is going to be put off or becomes disinterested. No one is perfect and I believe that no one wants to read about a perfect main character either. It is more exciting to see what happens to the main character or characters, if their flaw gets him or her into more trouble. If you develop interesting and vibrant characters, the flaws will make them more real to your reader.

How many secondary characters should you put into your story? I have conducted book reviews where authors have put so many secondary and minor characters that it was getting confusing as to which character was whom. The reader wasn’t able to fall in love or be able to despise anyone since you were too busy trying to figure everyone out. I think that as long as there are one or two strong secondary characters that complement the main characters, and propel the story forward, then you’re on the right track.

Plot and subplots are sometimes hard to writer for writers because it’s difficult to keep your story on track. The first thing I like to do before starting to write my story is put down in one or two sentences the core reason for the story. What is it about? What would you write on the back of the book cover to inform readers of what they are in for? What other stories can be used as sub-plots? Do you need a sub-plot? What genre or sub-genre will you be writing the story for? If you think about your own life, you usually have more than one thing in your life that you have to concentrate on. Sometimes, by adding a sub-plot, and one that doesn’t take over the story, it gives it more depth.

Once you have the story-line, write it down and then jot down points as to how you are going to develop the story to meet that end. Sometimes you end up going into another direction but don’t fret, as I believe where your story takes you, is where it is intended to go. Don’t fight it. See what happens. You never know if you like it better. Sometimes, your characters write the story for you.

What you shouldn’t forget, while you are getting carried away with your creation, is ensuring that whatever problem you created for the character is resolved at the end. Don’t leave the reader hanging and don’t rush your story due to word count or deadline. Take your time and tell a good, entertaining story with a final end that leaves all questions answered. Unless you are writing a two book series or a trilogy, then you can leave a cliff-hanger.

Keep your readers entertained and your characters active. No one likes too much of a lull in the story because you end up losing your readers. We all want a life more exciting than ours, without actually getting our hands dirty so let the reader experience it through your story. Keep them engaged and eager to find our more.

Jennifer Andrew resides in Ontario, Canada and has a Business Writing Diploma and a Freelance Writing Diploma in Genre Fiction. She has submitted articles to several online magazines and websites in regards to relationships and dating, as well as poetry, movie and book reviews. She is a member of the Romance Writers of America and currently writes book reviews for aspiring writers and for http://www.bookpleasures.com. She also runs a free monthly women’s website entitled http://www.femmevip.com and writes a weekly writing blog called http://www.whimnotes.net.

Contact: Jennifer Andrew, likes2blog@gmail.com

Thanks to Jennifer for these awesome take away tips! What thoughts are you having right about now regarding your professional writing career?

Building a Mystery By Author Anne Marie Stoddard

Happy Friday readers and writers! Please join me in welcoming Mystery Author, Anne Marie Stoddard to Clara’s writer’s forum.


It’s no secret that I’m a lover of mysteries (and as you can tell from the title of this post, the secret’s out that I’m also an old school Sarah McLachlan fan—everyone has their guilty pleasures!). I grew up reading everything from the Nancy Drew and Sherlock Holmes’ series to Agatha Christie. Lately I’ve been enjoying some great who-dunnit’s from Charlaine Harris, Victoria Laurie, Madelyn Alt, and P.J. Morse. There’s just something so satisfying about curling up with a good puzzle in book form and challenging myself to solve the crime before the author reveals the culprit. Sometimes, I can point out the killer by the end of the second chapter, and other times an author leaves me stumped right up until the guilty party reveals him or herself.
It’s that exhilarating feeling of piecing the clues together along with the characters that led me to write my first mystery novel, “Murder At Castle Rock.” Why not? I thought to myself as I begin typing the first page of Chapter One. I’m pretty good at solving them when I’m in the reader’s shoes, writing my own should be a piece of cake—right? Not exactly. Still, it can be done, and here are the lessons I learned along the way:
Use an Outline to Plan Your Clues
One very important part of the writing process for most authors is creating an outline for the plot and scenes of the story. Sure, there are quite a few “pantsers” out there—myself included—who simply start from scratch and let the story evolve as they write, with little to no sense of direction. Plenty of books have been written this way and turned out great, but not planning ahead can often lead you to writing your characters into a corner that you can’t write them out of. I started writing “Murder At Castle Rock” with no outline, and I found my characters reaching dead ends (no pun intended) every couple of chapters. If I had created a full outline before I began writing, I might have saved myself a LOT of rewriting and stress!
Writing an outline helps you to put all your cards on the table before you begin the writing process. If you determined who committed the crime, you’ve got to decide where it’s best to drop some hints for your readers. In any mystery, readers want to pick up on clues along the way that help them narrow down the suspects along with the detectives. Make rational decisions about where to place your clues—is the killer the town baker? Perhaps you can include a hint in Chapter 4 where the sleuth smells yeast or finds a white powder at the crime scene that turns out to be flour.
Your Characters Know the Story Better Than You Do—It’s Their Story, After All
This will sound like almost the opposite of the advice that I gave above about outlines, but just hear me out: Sometimes during the writing process, you have to concede from your own ideas about a scene and let your characters do the writing. Get to know your main character—step into her two-inch heels for a minute and see your way through a scene through her eyes. It’s best to ultimately stick to your outline in order to arrive at the desired end result, but sometimes you have to let your characters decide how to get there. Would my main character, Amelia, run away if she heard footsteps behind her—or would she turn around and make a snarky comment to her stalker before defending herself? Once you’ve developed a character, make sure that his or her actions reflect his or her personality—not yours.
Get Creative to Keep it Interesting
If you’ve got an understanding of how to logically place your clues and plan your story, that’s awesome! Still, in order to write a mystery novel that will leave your readers craving more, you have to keep it interesting—it’s time to flex your creative muscles!
Here’s an example: Would you rather read a book about a detective who goes to the office every day, solves a crime from his desk, and then goes home to bed—or would you rather read about a crime-solving supermodel who goes undercover at fashion shoots to track down a ring of high-end designers who are producing their clothing in sweat shops?
See, it’s easy to plan a Plain Jane story that doesn’t include much action—but you’ve got to get creative in order to pull readers along to the end. Choose a fun or interesting setting (like the fashion industry), and create characters that have personality. Give them quirks, fears, doubts, ambitions—there should be more at stake in your novel than simply finding out who killed the mailman. In the model example, perhaps if our heroine doesn’t catch the culprits and shut down the sweatshops in time, New York Fashion Week will be cancelled. (And perhaps the mail man was killed because he was delivering photographs of the guilty parties to someone who wanted to turn them in to the police!)
Writing your own mystery is an invaluable learning experience that will test your own wit, creativity, and deductive reasoning skills—and the story you create might surprise even you!

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About the Author:
Anne Marie Stoddard is a mystery author and writing tip blogger in Atlanta, GA. Her music industry thriller, “Murder At Castle Rock,” was the winner of the 2012 AJC Decatur Book Festival & BookLogix Publishing Service, Inc. Writing Contest, and it will be published in April 2013.
Website: https://www.amstoddardbooks.com
Connect with Anne Marie on Twitter: https://twitter.com/AMStoddardBooks
Connect with Anne Marie on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AmStoddardBooks
Connect with Anne Marie on Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6949689.Anne_Marie_Stoddard

Beyond the Basics of Good Writing By Angela Meredith

We’re all familiar with the basic elements of good writing: focus, organization, well-developed ideas, clarity, and good grammar. To take writing to the next level, beyond the fundamentals, let’s look at process, style, and technique.

girl writing at desk
When considering process we must first ask the question, how do I write?

When considering process we must first ask the question, how do I write? By asking this question we begin to think about our writing process. Some of us map our thoughts with an outline while others dive right in, trusting that the piece will flow as it should. We may write from our body by feeling the story or poem unfold, or we may write from our minds, thinking our way through every step. Process is always there in some shape or form.
Annie Dillard says in her book The Writing Life, “Process is nothing; erase your tracks.” While writing teachers often say, “Writing is a process, not a product.” Novelist Robert Olen Butler in his book From Where You Dream asserts that great writing comes from our white-hot center—the deep emotional, sensual, metaphysical core—and that this is where our writing must spring from in order to ring true.
It’s my experience that strong writing demonstrates an allegiance to both ends of the process spectrum; it originates from the writer’s white-hot center, and is therefore imprinted with authenticity , yet it is also intellectually vetted and well supported through consistent style and, when needed, solid research.

sketch of woman head
Ultimately the writer creates style through his or her choices, so choose wisely.

Each of us has a writing style, whether we’ve consciously created it or not. Developing style with intentional choices helps writers avoid unknowingly copying someone else’s style or being bland. Consider word choices, sentence structures, title configurations, and overall tone and you’re likely to cultivate an identifiable style. Sure, you may be similar in style to other writers, and that’s okay
You may find that your style is inherent; it’s simply how you express yourself without trying to come across in any particular way, and this is a great starting point. Developing your style from here is much like enhancing your natural beauty (and you are beautiful, by the way), yet in order to develop something we must first recognize that it’s there. So take time to consider your writing style. What writer do you most admire? Is your style similar, and how is it different? Is there something about your style that you’d like to change? Something that would feel more “you”?
Style is often developed to suit an audience, and this is a great instinct. For example, you’re running late for work and there are two people you need to tell. First, is your rather strict boss, and second is a friendly co-worker; you’re formal with your boss, and then casually deliver the news to your friend. What’s true in verbal communication is also true for writing. We want our style to be appropriate for and appealing to our audience. Ultimately the writer creates style through his or her choices, so choose wisely.

Another way to create style is to utilize writing techniques

Another way to create style is to utilize writing techniques such as figurative language, rhythm, repetition, and other tools that add range and depth to writing. Using metaphors and similes connect the themes of your writing to larger contexts, increasing the layered effect that often distinguishes good writing from the rest. Having a good ear for language is helpful in creating a natural rhythm in your writing. Reading poetry aloud is a great way to learn the musicality of our language. It may not be a rhythm you can dance to, but there’s a pattern of sound nonetheless. Take some time to listen for it and see if your writing begins to flow with unexpected alliteration and assonance.
Repetition is a tricky technique because it’s also a common mistake for beginning writers. So how can it be used to add meaning and sophistication to writing? I learned the power of repetition in an undergrad literary course. We were reading Gertrude Stein’s The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas and had come to a part where she repeats the word “genius” numerous times in the span of a few paragraphs. She used it enough times to indicate an obvious significance. The teacher asked the class what we thought the meaning was, and we sat there for a few moments scratching our heads. Then it occurred to me that repeating “genius” took the power out of the word. If everyone and everything is genius, then what’s the big deal? Bingo! That’s how repetition can be used artistically, and there are other ways to use it to hammer in a point. Try it yourself and see what happens.

It’s difficult to summarize what makes writing good. As I close this post I realize there are more elements, aspects, and ideas that are the building blocks to good writing, but for now I leave you with this. I hope it’s helpful, and that perhaps it inspires you to create your own synopsis of good writing. What would you add? What stands out as essential? We’d love to hear from you, so please share your thoughts with a comment.

Byline: Angela Meredith, http://www.goldstarwritingstudio.com

Thanks Angela! What “aha” moments did you glean from Angela writing tips? Feel free to weigh in.

Women Are Today’s Brand Champions- Michelle Patterson

Women have been long known to be holding the purse strings when it comes to the majority of household purchases. According to Monique Nadeau, President and CEO of Hope Street Group, “Women overwhelmingly hold the consumer purchasing power in our country, whether we’re talking about individuals or households. Their understanding of the market allows them to start businesses with a high degree of insight about both their potential customers and competitors.”

Then, you might wonder why so many companies are getting it so wrong when it comes to how they market to them. They are so far off base that one recent article noted that 91% of women believe that advertisers simply “don’t understand” when it comes to the female consumer.

It’s not that advertisers are deliberately approaching women in the wrong way because they do have a lot at stake with their targeted advertising campaigns. They are simply missing the mark. It could be the simple fact that advertisers have not kept up with the dramatic changes that women have faced in recent years in their roles as mothers, wives, sisters and daughters. 

The crucial point that advertisers need to realize that no matter how many hats we women wear, we do like to make time to share and talk with family, friends, colleagues and, well, maybe anyone who will listen to us for that matter. The advent of multiple online platforms has simply made it easier for women to reach out and share with others.

Tina Konkin, a California-based relationship expert, notes, “Think about ‘back then’ when women got together physically and talked about their relationships or child rearing. They spent time chatting while they canned food for the winter and quilted or enjoyed book clubs and social. Now, women share the same bond virtually through social media and blogging, sharing recipes on Pinterest or swapping stories and pictures of their kids on Facebook.”  

Once advertisers realize that the decision making power and ability to leverage women as brand champions is the same but simply has become more powerful thanks to the additional social channels women can broadcast from, they will hit the target every time with us.

Visionary and lauded business accelerator Michelle Patterson is CEO of Event Complete—a full service event management company.  She also serves as Executive Director of the largest women’s symposium in North America: the California Women’s Conference (www.californiawomensconference.com) that has featured the First Lady Michelle Obama, former First Lady Laura Bush, Deepak Chopra, Oprah Winfrey, and others. Michelle may be reached online at www.eventcomplete.com.

Source: http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2010/07/the-end-of-men/8135/