Friday, January 08, 2016

My Writing Process by Anna Simpson

I always love when my blogging buddies have new books out, especially when it's one of my favorites! Today we're celebrating the launch of White Light by Anna Simpson. She's written an extra-special guest post about her writing process. Be sure to scroll down after the post to read all about her new book!

By Anna Simpson

Well, first off thank you for letting me loose on your site. Very nice. Very nice indeed.

So you want to know how I do it. Come in. A little closer. Closer.

*looks around for eavesdroppers*

I put one word down. *clears her throat* Then I do it again.

Hey, put that water balloon down. Or better yet throw it at Stephanie. She’s the one that asked.

Enough fun. But I’m warning you some of this is a little dry.

I do a lot of planning. Try these questions on for size. What’s your genre? Got some character ideas? How many words do you want to write? After jotting down some answers, I cut the word count into four parts, using the Three Act Structure, and decide what is going to happen at the inciting incident, half-way point, the showdown.

Imagine your cast of characters. The louder, less organized and demanding the better. Have them all want to be the hero or villain. They all have agendas. Think cattle call on Broadway. So there will be fighting/upstaging until there are only two left standing. The hero will carry most of the load, so need to be as fleshed out as you can make them. The villain must be as smart and in-the-hero’s-face as possible without alienating your readers. Note: This part of the process can be a time suck.

Then write: Chapter One Scene One. Point in everyone in right direction and let your characters loose…

Okay now the rest is up to you. And remember if you give them weapons wear a helmet. Smile. :-)


Emma never dreamed of being a super-sleuth. In her mind, she’s more Scooby Doo than Nancy Drew and when her nosy neighbor, Mrs. Perkins, drags her to an anniversary party to solve a mystery, she rolls her eyes, buys a box of chocolates and hops in the car. 

What’s a party without an attack on its host—or more accurately on the host’s grandson, sparking an allergic reaction and moving the party to the hospital waiting room. Suddenly, everyone is a suspect. Emma and Mrs. Perkins, along with Great Aunt Alice (a spirit with boundary issues who keeps stepping into Emma’s body like a new dress and playing matchmaker), dive into an investigation that almost gets Emma killed along with the man they are trying to protect. With so many reasons to kill him and so much to be gained if he died, Emma and Mrs. Perkins must unravel the tenuous ties that point to every member of his family as potential killers. 

Even if it means going back to the psych ward, Emma will protect her friend and this innocent man. What good is freedom if it's haunted with guilt? 


Anna Simpson lives near the Canadian-US border with her family. Even though she's lived in several places in British Columbia, her free spirit wasn't able to settle down until she moved back to her hometown.

The woman is easy to find though, if you know the magic word -- emaginette. Do an internet search using it and you'll see what I mean. :-)


Wednesday, January 06, 2016

IWSG: Dumb Writing Advice

It's the first Wednesday of the month, which means hundreds of us will be posting about our insecurities. If you're a writer, join in!

When you start writing, you'll likely find yourself buried beneath a growing heap of writing advice. Some of it is designed to make your prose better.

Some of it is designed to motivate you during those really dark times.

And some of it is merely designed to make you put your butt in that chair and write.

But some of it is just bizarre. One of the first how-to writing books I read was written by Rita Mae Brown. Rita Mae Brown is a very talented author best known for a 1973 book called Rubyfruit Jungle. I was looking for a writing book in a bookstore in the early 90s and I stumbled on this:

It was the first how-to anything I ever read about writing. She did warn us in the title that it was a different kind of manual. Different it was.

The one thing I remember from the entire book was that this talented writer told her readers that if you want to be a writer, you have to have a cat. Not a dog, a cat. Miss Rita Mae loves her cat.

Okay, so her advice is to get a cat. But here's the part that devalued the rest of the book. She said if you weren't willing to get a cat, you didn't want to be a writer badly enough and you may as well quit now.

Reading over the Amazon reviews for the book, I realized I was just young and new. I didn't know to recognize this "how-to manual" as the whackadoodle mess of words it was. As one reviewer describes it, the author spends the first part of the book bragging about herself before launching into a list of "musts" that all writers have to have if they want to be a writer.

We must study two years of Latin.

We must get a PhD in English.

We must read a long list of books recommended by her.

The list goes on. And on. And on.

Don't want to do even one of those things? Guess'll never be a writer. It's her way or no way.

So at this young age, I read the worst writing manual ever written. I learned right off the bat to listen to the advice of others and do this to whatever doesn't apply to me:

To this day, I still don't have a cat. And not only am I multi-published, but I make my living writing. So put that in your hat, Rita Mae Brown!

Monday, January 04, 2016

Online Shopping for the Holidays: My Review

The holidays are over...and so is my experiment into doing as much of my Christmas shopping online as possible.

Overall, it went very well. But keep in mind that I started on Black Friday and the bulk of my shopping was done by December 9. That gave plenty of time for slow-pokey packages to finally make their way to me.

But for future reference, I tracked the performance of different businesses and decided to share what I learned with you. You probably will find that you agree with a lot of these. First, the biggest winner...

This one will be a real surprise (*said sarcastically*)...

All the way up until the week of Christmas, you could order items and they'd show up to your house in two days. I was ordering mostly non-Christmasy things by the end, but I was amazed at how well Amazon did at getting things here on long as you chose things that promised two-day delivery, that is. That brings me to my next winner:

Yes, the postal service. I take back everything I previously said about USPS because this year I learned the difference between big-city USPS and small-town USPS. In a small town, the post office ROCKS! Our mail carrier packed his little car to the brim every day and brought our packages to the front door. Then his boss would come and deliver what his car couldn't hold later that day. Chevy Chase got small-town mail delivery all wrong!

That, sadly, brings me to the losers. This year's biggest loser?

Okay, so I get that you don't have your act together to get packages to people when you say you will. But FedEx, your online tracker was broken with every package I tried to look up. Coincidence? Then I saw on the news that FedEx had trouble delivering this holiday season and I knew...something wasn't right. The post office is kicking FedEx's butt at delivery?

Time for a second loser. This one goes to the company who took for-freakin'-ever just to put my items in the mail after ordering them. It's Christmas. Let's get to steppin', people.

Kohl's mostly won the whole "holiday sales" game, but they end up on my bad list for letting me know on December 7th that an item I ordered on November 27th (Black Friday) was "no longer available." After ten days, I was thinking, "What? You haven't shipped that already? Really?" And then I wondered if the item was out of stock on November 27th or they just gave the item to someone else in the ten days they were sitting on my order. All else was great, including their incredible deals, but for shipping speed, this company gets a big fat, "Bad job."

The biggest loser of all, though? Gift wrapping! Because no matter how much time and aggravation you save by shopping online, you still find yourself standing there, holding a roll of gift wrap while staring at this:

Who were your business winners and losers this Christmas season?