Today’s Writing Tip


One of the most frequent criticisms for a book is lack of challenge. One way to avoid this is to make sure that every time your protagonist is within reach of what he or she wants  that something gets in the way to prevent it. This builds suspense as well as character engagement. You want your readers rooting for him or her and they’ll be a lot more sympathetic if it’s not easy.

I don’t know about you, but I tend to baby my favorite characters and don’t like for them to suffer or be discouraged. However, that is not how life really is. If the plot proceeds too smoothly, it will make readers roll their eyes and maybe even throw the book across the room (not advisable with an ereader). While a satisfying ending may ultimately see them getting what they want, they should work for it, the harder the better. In good rule to follow is if things are going too well, stop and figure out what could go wrong. Then throw that obstacle in their way.

Today’s Writing Tip

desktop- copy

Straight-line plots work well for short stories, but novels can use several subplots to maintain interest and build suspense. The more developed your characters are, the easier it is to find them. Once your characters come to life, they have a mind of their own and can say and do things that surprise even you. Don’t limit your muse’s ability to inspire you by insisting that your characters behave in a certain way or never do something unexpected. Just think: If it surprises you, won’t it also be interesting to your readers?

As an author, I love it when one of my characters essentially gets out of control. If I don’t know what will happen next, sure that suspense will translate to my readers. It add to the fun of being an author when you don’t know what will happen next, either. There have been times when my characters got themselves into such a mess I had no idea how they’d ever get out. So what did I do? I let them figure it out, and they always did.


Today’s Writing Tip

write-2 copy

Next on the list for scratching 5-stars is no challenge. If the protagonist breezes through the entire story without any obstacles or personal growth, it’s pointless. Whatever it is s/he wants, the harder it is to get it the better.

Most of us are somewhat annoyed by those who have everything they want handed to them, perhaps on the proverbial silver platter. Starting out a story that way is fine, but then having your protagonist lose everything and get a hefty dose of the real world will get your reader involved.  An example of where this is well-done is the relatively new sit-com “Schitt’s Creek”, where a family formerly in the millionaire range loses everything and is living in a cheap motel.

The harder your protagonist has to work for what he wants, the better. This also builds suspense, a critical ingredient in any story.

Writing Process Blog Tour


This blog tour originated with Kelly Lewis who stated, “The purpose of this tour is to showcase fellow writers with emphasis around the writing process itself to spread great words, get insights, and to show support in this isolating craft we embark on.”
Kelly Lewis passed the baton to author, Susanne Leist, who in turn passed it on to me in her blog.

Susanne is the author of the popular thriller “The Dead Game.” If you enjoy scary books check it out here:

Here are the questions and my answers:

1. What am I working on at the moment?

I’m currently working on “Refractions of Frozen Time,” the fourth and final book in the Star Trails Tetralogy science fiction series. I have it drafted but my characters have gotten themselves into such a mess that it’s going to take a while to sort it all out and wrap it up.

2. How does my work differ from others of this genre?

In addition to being science fiction it’s also a family saga. When a family is scattered across the galaxy there is just too much going on in too many places to tell it through a single viewpoint. So at one time or another you get inside everyone’s head. I know it’s breaking the rules but that’s how the story flowed and so far my readers have liked it.

What’s interesting, though, is how everyone seems to relate to a different character and see him or her as the protagonist. While it was originally intended as a young adult series I’ve been told multiple times that it’s suitable for all ages. Another reviewer told me that the “human element raises the bar in this competitive genre” which points out that the setting may be on another planet but it’s the people that matter most, even though the brutal star system their planet is in drives the story.

While much of it is science fiction, I base as much as I can on what is known and pass it on in lay terms. I hope to build an audience of young people interested in science and engineering who will learn something painlessly along the way. I also have a section on my website for parents and educators with hints on how to use the stories as a springboard for discussion on various topics. If I can inspire one person to go into a career in science my work here is done.

3. Why do I write what I do?

I write science fiction because I love science as well as writing fiction so, as we say in physics and math circles, it was “intuitively obvious.” Speculating on the many weird and wonderful theories out there and what the future holds as we gradually get a grip on them and apply them to technology is my idea of fun. What most people don’t realize, though, is I got the physics degree so I could write authentic science fiction, not the other way round.

4. How does my writing process work?

I have an overall view of the story’s premise but once the characters are created most of it comes to me as I write. I’ve never been one who stuck to a chapter outline very closely because the story is sure to deviate based on what the characters do. The story seems to have a life of its own and it feels as if it’s being dictated to me. My characters always take over. I learn more about them all the time like you would someone you meet in real life. Many times they’ve gone off in directions that surprised me or new characters, sometimes important ones, have sprung up out of nowhere. I enjoy writing even more since what comes out usually surprises me.

Of course there are times when I have to do some serious crafting or brainstorming to tie it all together for which I have to give a lot of credit to my muse, Kalliope. I’m an astrologer as well as a writer and a few years ago I discovered that an asteroid named Kalliope is very prominent in my horoscope, which explained a lot.

I tend to do a significant amount of rewriting. My first draft is mostly action and dialog and I have to go back to make sure it includes sufficient imagery and renders appropriate emotion. I use the acronym IDEAS (Imagery, Dialog, Emotion, Action, Suspense) to check on whether I’ve included everything required. I’m one of those authors who never finishes a novel but rather abandons it because I can always find something I can say better or add.

I write a fair amount of nonfiction as well. Once I get an idea it tends to flow so I can produce blogs and articles with ease. I love doing research and have a gift for finding what I’m looking for almost as if I’m being guided by some invisible force. Back before the internet I could walk into a library and just somehow walk down the right aisle and lay my hands on exactly the book I needed. I love writing blogs about science at a level anyone can understand, kind of a “Physics for Dummies” series if you will. You can find them here on WordPress. However, my first love is writing novels and watching the characters evolve.

MY NOMINATED WRITER – John Reinhard Dizon

Now I’d like to hand off the blog baton to Literary Chameleon, John Reinhard Dizon. I conducted an interview with John a while back in which I conferred that title on him which you can find here: ( He writes in numerous diverse genres and handles them all in a masterful way. No matter which genre is your favorite I would be willing to bet dollars to donuts that he’s written something you’ll love. If you enjoy reading a variety yet had to limit yourself to one author, he’s the only one you’d ever need.

In the interview I asked him how he changed his style so easily. Here’s his response:

“I think it’s more a question of adapting rather than changing. My four main ingredients are a dynamic plot, compelling characters, snappy dialogue and a powerful finish. You’ll find that common quality in all my novels. As far as genre goes, I made it a point to explore as many as possible in order to give a future fan base a wide variety of reading material. The way I saw it, there would be something for everybody. At this point in time I’ve been working on sequels, the logic being that it gives readers something to latch onto in following their favorite characters. You know how it goes, if at first you don’t succeed.”

John’s Amazon Author Page:
John’s Facebook Fan Page:
John’s Twitter:
John’s Blog:
My Interview with John: (
John’s Book Links:
The Kingdom:
Generations II:
Nightcrawler 2:
Wolf Man:
King of the Hoboes:
The Break:
Strange Tales:
The Fury:
The Test:
The Standard I:
The Standard II (The Citadel):