A Busy Spring and a Book Launch Sale

I can’t get over how busy the past four months have been for me. While I have been writing a little, editing a lot and formatting books, an equal amount of time (if not more) has been spent offline, away from the computer.

Life is going in the direction I had planned, so I’m far from complaining. However, I am rethinking a few things I had planned.

For instance, I wrote two short novels last year, both under 70,000 words. They were not fantasy and because of advice from other writers and Amazon’s algorithms, I had decided to publish these and others of similar fashion under a new pen name. Of course, a new pen name would create a few challenges of its own, but I was prepared to tackle them.

Continue reading

Repeating Ourselves Too Many Times in a Novel

Healing StonesOne thing I’ve learned while editing to a specific word count is to provide the information only once. Readers are smart; they’ll understand. If I have 300 words to tell a story, every word matters. I don’t need to say the car was blue twice.

Saying something once in a 300-word story is easy to do because I can see the entire story on one page. I can remember what I’ve said and how I’ve said it. It’s a little more difficult in a 130,000-word novel.

But it’s still important not to repeat things multiple times because readers who read fast or have great memories will remember. Even those with weaker superpowers will notice if you continue to tell them Sarah’s hair was naturally blonde but was dyed green. I know because I read book reviews on Amazon, and I’ve seen many readers complain about the number of times something is stated: How many times does she have to say his eyes were blue? I heard it the first ten times.

That’s an exaggeration, but you know what I mean. More complaints arise when a situation is overstated: I get it; he’s broke and he lost his job at the construction site because he was late two days in a row. Stop telling me that in every chapter!

Continue reading

Creating Book Covers with Inkscape

I’m always looking for ways to improve the books I write both in content and in appearance. This includes creating better covers with each book written.

Everyone must start somewhere and when I started creating covers more than ten years ago, they looked like an amateur created them. So I pressed on. In February 2012, I wrote about my discovery of using PowerPoint to create covers: Create! Design! Make it so. From this post, it’s obvious my covers still had a long way to go, but I was moving in the right direction: forward.

After eight years of making book covers, banners and promotional material using PowerPoint, I stumbled upon another program that will take my designs to the next level: Inkscape.

Where Did I Discover Inkscape?

I spotted a YouTube video by author David V. Stewart about how he made book covers, so I clicked, watched and fantasized about my own covers. The program he used was Inkscape. His covers looked amazing. He said the program was free on the Internet.

Continue reading

February is Fantasy Month

Destiny Governed their Lives short story fantasyTomorrow, February 1st, is the beginning of the 5th Annual February is Fantasy Month. I first heard about this special month three years ago. At that time, I thought of participating, but I think we were two weeks into the month, so I made a post and left it at that.

Last year, I was too busy to take on more work and to be honest, I had forgotten about it until someone announced it. I could have thrown together something, but I chose not to.

This year, I’ve been thinking about fantasy month throughout January, so I think I’m ready to tackle it. I’ll make posts here, but most of my posts and promotions will be on my Diane Lynn McGyver blog and on Twitter. With most of my books enrolled in Kindle Select, I’m able to have free eBook days. This will be the only month of the year (possibly ever) that the full-length novels of the Castle Keepers epic fantasy series will be offered for free.

To start, the first short story that introduced the Land of Ath-o’Lea, Destiny Governed their Lives, will be free to download  from February 1st to the 3rd. It’s available at:

This short story provides the back story for Catriona Wheatcroft, who, unbeknownst to her, will play a pivotal role in the over-all plot of the series.

If you are a fantasy author, are you marking February as Fantasy month? If so, drop me a link in the comments, and I’ll share it.

Critical Drinker Inspires a Wins vs Losses List

Shortly before Christmas, I stumbled upon the Critical Drinker, a YouTube critic mostly of films, but he critiques books at times, too. The Drinker is Will Jordan, author of Redemption: Ryan Drake 1. I’ve watched several of his videos for both the entertainment and insight in to how movies were constructed or, in many cases, how they were poorly constructed. As a writer, he comments on character development, plot and other aspects of story building.

His dissection of the three recent Star Wars movies is brutal. I am a huge fan of the original Star Wars trilogy – Star Wars, Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi – and his critiques tell me the new movies are ones I never want to see. In fact, they should be burnt. The stories trampled over our heroes of the past and are extremely disrespectful to their legacy. While I didn’t think it would be as bad as it was, I had an inkling of what was to come.

Continue reading

My 2020 Goals are About Writing and Living

Today, my mother turns 92 years old. She never thought she’d see this age, yet here she is. Like many of us, we are never aware of what we’re capable of doing. We just do it.

2020 is a transition year for me. There are things that must be done, and only by working off property will I accomplish them. So, this spring, I plan to begin working 40 to 50 hours a week, which will take me away from writing in the short term, yet will deliver me closer to a few long-term goals I want to accomplish in the next five years.

Much like when I worked at the garden centre a few years ago, this job will be physical (my favourite type), and I’ll be outdoors most of the time. It will chew up most of my time from April to December. Then I’ll be free to write through winter again.

Continue reading

New Facebook Page for Atlantic Canada Writers to Promote Events

During my book launch in June, I spoke with author Tim Covell about writing groups we were members of on Facebook and how we couldn’t cross promote author events. This got the gears in my brain turning and by the time I arrived home that day, I had a plan: make a site where events could be shared.

Coming Soon

Because Tim and I are in two Facebook groups that are unable to share news and events, I thought it might be better if I involved the creator of the second site, Peter Foote, to see if we couldn’t collaborate on this effort to benefit members in both groups.

Long story short: It’s done!

If you are a writer living in one of the four Atlantic Canada provinces, you are welcome to join and promote your events. These events may include book launches, book signings and readings, market events where you plan to sell your book, virtual book launches, short-term sales (my eBook is free for the next two days; grab it now!), con events where you’ll be a vendor or something similar to these.

To learn more or to become a member, go to Atlantic Canadian Author Events and sign up.

Safeguarding Our Personal Treasures Before and After Death

One of my genealogy columns published over the summer was titled There’s No Guarantee in Life or Death. It’s about wills and estates, something I’ve been thinking about a lot in the past six months because my mom is in the final stages of Alzheimer’s Disease. I’m thinking about my final wishes more than hers (hers are taken care of) and wondering what mess I might leave my kids to sort through. I’m also wondering about the things I value, such as my genealogy research and the books I’ve written, and who would appreciate them most.

“In these days where diseases, such as dementia, are on the rise, I believe it is less likely the well-thought out plan for estates will be executed.”

Why? Because a person’s ability to control their affairs and stuff while they’re still alive becomes almost impossible when diseases of the brain take hold. This leaves control of their stuff with those they live with or those, family or friends, who enter their home to see to their daily needs.

Continue reading

Writing Characters Who are Consistent in Actions

A book I finished reading a few days ago has stayed on my mind; I can’t shake it. Not because it was a great story. It was an okay story. I’d rate it 3 of 5 stars. I seldom rate anything 5, so 4 is what I rate a book I really enjoyed reading.

The book is not stuck in my mind because it contained a life-changing message. It’s not because it made me think of the world from a different perspective.

The reason I can’t shake the book from my thoughts and why I can’t help but analyse characters in my novels is because of character consistency. I can accept a lot of twists, but my mind is tripping over the main character, let’s call her Jill, in this story. Here’s a brief description.

Continue reading

Book Launch Update and Locked Out of Twitter

On Saturday June 15th, I launched Revelation Stones at Dartmouth Book Exchange. There were many events and activities going on in Cole Harbour that day, so traffic was intense. While many places were busy, the book store wasn’t. However, that didn’t stop the book launch from being a success, particularly since I went into it with no expectations.

I met several new readers and saw several familiar faces, who stopped in specifically to say hello and buy my book. Thank you to everyone who came.

Continue reading

My Readers are the Smartest on Earth

You read it here: my readers are the smartest on Earth. I won’t write down to them and make them feel stupid because they are not. They are wise, clever and enjoy puzzles.

I’ve had many suggestions from beta readers over the years to add clarification on certain sentences, certain dialogue, and while I accepted some, I’ve always fought against it. I understand the secret meanings behind specific sentences; why wouldn’t my readers? Why do I need to explain further? Isn’t that like explaining a punch line?

So what if they don’t get every punch line. Maybe the second time they read it, they will. They’ll enjoy the punch lines they get.

Continue reading

Nora Roberts and Plagiarizing Books Rant – Word Theft

The story about Christiane Serruya broke last week or the week before. I’ve been ignoring most of it, getting the gist of it and carrying on because February is a busy writing and editing month for me. However, I read a post by Nora Roberts a few days ago and another yesterday which made me stop and think about this whole writing thing and word theft.

Below are my thoughts on the matter. They won’t be what others think, but these are mine. Take them for what they are worth. When it comes to the written word, the one word that screams at me is integrity.

I can’t remember the first time or the first book I read by Nora Roberts. It was long ago. I’ve read several and while I’m impressed with the stories, what impresses me most about this woman is her ability to churn out stories. She is a writing machine I wish to emulate.

Continue reading

FOCUS and Our Lives In Story Structure

time dreamingAs I prepare the material for this evening’s writers’ meeting, my mind drifts back in time to an event I can’t relive, can’t change. It was decades ago. I’m no magician. I can’t go back and undo the past; I can only live with the results.

Then I jerk my mind back to focus on the task at hand: preparing notes for the meeting.

We will be discussing the 2nd part of Act II tonight and the Hero’s journey. I’m going over an email a member sent sharing her ideas on this. She writes, “We either go with the flow, give up and be miserable, or we take the risk and go on a journey no matter what we leave behind.”

And my mind wanders to the past again, thinking about my life and comparing it to the Hero’s journey, to the structure of a story. I went with the flow and gave up. I know where that led.

Continue reading

Why Do I Write?

Why I writeI’ve been asked many questions over the decades concerning writing, but one that often stands out is: Why do you write?

I’ve answered this with a question of my own: why do you fish, why do you build houses, why do you do what you do? The obvious reason is because I want to.

Telling others why I loved fishing was easier than explaining why I loved to write. I mean, to many, writing was school work, which they were thankfully graduated from and wouldn’t have to do again.

Lately, I get this question with an add on: Why do write so much?

Ten years ago, I couldn’t answer this question nor the simple one (why do you write) as accurately as I can at this moment. It’s not that I’ve thought about it any more; the answer simply comes to me when I’m asked.

Why do I write like a mad woman?

The Short Answer

I have stories that need to be told before I die, and I want to live where I love.

Continue reading

Book Review: Passing it on Before Passing On by H. L. Foster, M.Ed.

Passing it on Before Passing On

by H. L. Foster, M.Ed.

Rating: 4 Stars

Before I Begin

Let me tell you where I stand before I review this book. I come from a family with a long history of alcoholism. I grew up with a father who couldn’t control his drinking, and I’ve seen aunts, uncles and siblings go down that hard road. I am not an alcoholic; I see things from the other perspective. While I’m not addicted to alcohol, I feel I have developed characteristics stemming from being conceived under the influence and living within the shadow of an alcoholic.

Continue reading