Saturday, February 25, 2012


There’s another person floating around in my psyche that I want to tell you about. Her name is Edwina. Edwina is my inner editor, and someone I need to listen to. She asks pertinent questions to improve my writing. She is nothing like my worthless inner critic Lucille, who I wrote about earlier this month.
Edwina helps me look at my characters, plotlines and dialogue from a new perspective. She helps me get some distance from my writing, and examine whether or not everything I’ve written is necessary.  

For instance, I had a character in a short story that I loved. She was a favorite of mine, and I spend a lot of time describing her past, where she worked and what she looked like. Finally, though, I had to cut her out after Edwina began asking too many questions.

Edwina: Is she necessary?

Me: I believe she is.

Edwina: Why

Me: Because she shows a contrast between love interests.

Edwina: What does she do to move the plot forward?

Me: Again, the contrast thing, and I love the description of her workplace.

Edwina: If you didn’t have that contrast and workplace description, what would that do to the story?

Me: I dunno.

Edwina: Why is her existence necessary to the story?

Me: Because I want her to be. I really like her, she reminds me of someone I went to school with, who played an essential role in my social development, so I want to honor her.

Edwina: If you want to honor her, why put her in a story where she is second banana?

Me: Because I like her, that contrast thing and workplace description.

Edwina: If you like her so much, why don’t you marry her? (My inner editor can be a little childish at times.)

Me: Because I’m already married. And if there were an episode of Sister Wives, my argument wouldn’t hold water, but it’s not, so my argument stands! So there! (I can be a little childish right back.)

OK, so as you can see, the dialogue between Edwina and me can be frustrating and silly. But in the end, I realize my inner editor asks me pertinent questions that I can’t ignore. Yours probably does the same thing. You must listen closely to hear what he or she says.

I removed my character from this story without affecting the plot at all, and now I realize I can put her in another story where she will be top banana.  (I swear that this is the only time I have ever referred to characters as bananas, and I don’t know why, nor do I know where that phrase comes from!)

Now I have a free, likeable character floating around in my head, and I need to put her in a story where she will have the proper honor and placement. And she will probably live happily ever after, wherever that may be. Unless, of course, she dies a tragic death. Don’t tell her I said that. I don’t want her to worry. But either way, I’ll let you know where she ends up! 

Write soon,


Saturday, February 18, 2012

And the winner is ...

Congratulations to Sylvia Ney, whose name was selected to win the 2012 issue of Bylines, the writer’s desk calendar created by Sylvia Forbes to help writers stay organized, inspired and focused. Sylvia, if you will email me with your address at, I will put that in the mail ASAP.

Thanks to everyone who left comments on my blog, I appreciate your support and interesting comments!

And don’t forget, Bylines is currently accepting submissions for the 2013 edition. The deadline is March 1 for succinct, personal stories about the writing life, including success, rejection, motivation, tough lessons and freelancing. Humor is welcomed. Complete guidelines are available at

Write soon,

Friday, February 10, 2012

Bylines comment difficulties

Hi everyone!

Some readers are having problems leaving comments on my blog. If you would like to leave a comment to qualify to win a copy of the Bylines Desk Calendar but can't, please send your comment to my email address at and I will enter you into the random drawing. You must leave the comment by Sunday at midnight. I will select the winner next week.

Thank you for your continued support, and sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused.

Write soon,


Monday, February 6, 2012

Author interview

Ron Nichols, author of “Where The Sky Doesn’t End” a terrific YA novel published last year by Mudfoot Books, a division of Martin Sisters Publishing, LLC, graciously took time out of his busy schedule to answer a few questions. I’ve attached a link to the first chapter, which will hook you right away. (Disclaimer: we went to high school together.)
Why did you want to write this book?
There were really a couple of reasons. The first is my 10-year-old daughter (at the time) was somewhat negative about her writing homework assignments so I began writing “Where the Sky Doesn’t End” as an exercise to show her how “magical” writing could be. The second reason was to prove to myself that I could string enough sentences together to actually do a book-length work. (Honestly, I had no idea I could actually do it.)

How long did it take you to write it?
Once I envisioned the main characters (and what made them tick) and once I mapped out a general storyline in my mind, it took about three months (at an hour or two most nights) to write. But it took about six or seven years to find a publisher for it!

What was the easiest part to write, and what was the most difficult?
The hardest part for me was writing the part of Aria. Though it was a long time ago, I still remember being an adolescent boy, so relating to Brendan and writing his part was easy – and somewhat autobiographical. And as an older guy, it was pretty easy to relate to all of the male characters. But I’ve never been a girl – so I had to imagine her experiences, frustrations and perspectives. That was tough.

Whose writing style do you think is similar to yours?
(To avoid insulting any other authors out there, I’ll chicken out and avoid naming names.) But someday I’d like to be able to write as well as Gary Paulsen. Regrettably, I know I”ll never be in Paulsen’s league. But the fun for me is trying to improve my game – to get better with every sentence, every paragraph I write from here on out.
Maybe this is just an attempt to justify my lack of literary style, but to me writing an interesting story isn’t as much about style as it is about heart – understanding and empathizing with your characters – and then simply getting out of the way and letting them channel their story through you. Because if you think about it, none of us read Twain to read Twain. We read Twain to find out if Huck and Jim will succeed in their quest or if Tom and Becky make it out of the cave. At the end of the day, it’s all about the characters – created by talented authors.

Where can we buy the book?, Barnes and and it can be ordered by other retail outlets through Martin Sisters Publishing.

What’s your next project?
I have another YA adventure manuscript completed that I’m currently shopping around. It’s a geologically plausible novel about discovering diamonds in central Arkansas. And I’m about half-way through a political satire manuscript – that will surely raise a few eyebrows if ever finds ink.

Is there anything you would like to add?
To anyone who reads my book, let me say “thank you.” As mortal beings the most precious commodity we have is time. I am honored by anyone who would spend some of that precious commodity reading my story. My hope is that readers will conclude after reading “Where the Sky Doesn’t End,” that is was time well spent.
Write soon,