Picasso “Avignon”

Character Complexity. What in the world does this all mean? A story well told inextricably entwines place and person. The place is filtered through the person’s personality, age, education, experiences, culture, nationality, friends and family. It’s a must have for every story, every chapter, every scene. Show off your people, your place, your setting. Look for ways to enrich your story.

Catskill Mountain House

As Leila and her betrothed approached the Mountain House to vacation before they  go out west, she was reminded why she was at once drawn to the area.

In my book, Indigo Sky, Memories of her youth in summer days flashed through her mind. Those were carefree times in the Catskill Mountains, when adventures sent excitement coursing through her veins. She stretched languidly, her mind drifting to games played on the mossy rocks in the brook. She’d challenged each rock to stay steady as she lithely jumped from one to the next until she reached the other side. Oh, to do that again.

Catskill Waterways

Why not?” Jumping to her feet, she paused as she surveyed the swollen brook. Water rushed over rocks in foaming eddies, leaving a few exposed as it raced to a dark green pool. I can do this.

She left the bonnet on the grass where she had tossed it and stepped onto a moss-covered rock inches from the edge of the brook. Water swirled around her skirt like champagne, soaking her hem. With each step, her exhilaration rose. I wish Hank were with me. She scowled. No, I don’t! The next rock peeked above the water. The smooth black stone sparkled like an iridescent jewel between the mosses, beckoning her. There was enough rock showing for one foot. Gingerly, she set her foot down and stepped onto the rock. She held her breath and jumped to the next rock.

Once stable, she slowly put her weight on another. Buoyed by success, she planted herself. It held. She giggled, once more a child unburdened by the constraints of society. She held her arms out like the spars of a topsail. Halfway across the brook, confidence replaced caution. She skipped across three rocks, laughing with joy—only six to go.

As her tongue poked from the corner of her mouth, she balanced. Her foot slipped on slimy moss, and the rock wobbled. She gasped, searching for a secure foothold.

As her tongue poked from the corner of her mouth, she balanced. Her foot slipped on slimy moss, and the rock wobbled. She gasped, searching for a secure foothold. Arms flailing wildly, she fought to regain her balance and then fell.

She squeezed her eyes shut and hit the rocks with bruising impact. Icy water engulfed her, taking away her breath. She floundered and clutched at the slippery rocks, but the strong current carried her relentlessly, and waterlogged garments hampered her efforts. Now the brook was her enemy. It tumbled her faster toward the pool. A scream tore from her throat before her head slammed into a rock.

The rapids were dragging her down.

Reading A Breakout Novel

Author Donald Maass, in figuring out what makes a breakout novel, writes the following about creating character complexity.

One-dimensional characters hold limited interest because they are limited as human beings. They lack complexity that makes real life people so fascinating. In well-constructed fiction, a multidimensional character will keep us guessing: What is this person going to do, say, or think next? Furthermore we are more likely to identify with them–that is, to see ourselves in them. Why? Because there is more of them to see.

Writing a Breakout Novel, Donald Maass

According to Donald Maass’s book, Writing the Breakout Novel, perception changes as we change. In your stories, can you show your characters emotions, reactions and behavior to where they were then and where they are now?

How can you enrich your stories? Check out Donald Maass’s Writing the Breakout Novel.

Indigo Sky available on Amazon buy link:
Author page:



Pat Haggerty, Scrivener Instructor

Learning Scrivener has eluded me for five or six years. My first book, Indigo Sky, got born without it. Intentions are to cook up my sequel with it.  Not too long ago I took Pat Haggerty’s workshop, all video, Scooped up hearing aids this time.

Before that I attempted other ways. After a Scrivener workshop, instructor Gwen Hernandez met with me to explain further. Ugh, am I a dunce or what?

Right now, for my sequel, I. Will. Learn Scrivener. I’m pushing for awareness and education. I got myself geared up and put out an SOS to my CTRWA loop. “Can anyone help?” Patty Blount, from the LIRW, (Long Island Romance Writers) author of “Some Boys,” popped in,  “I’ll give it a shot.” An angel, she wrote and wrote and wrote and sent stuff, but . . . .” You kind of get the drift, don’t you?

Scrivener corkboard

See, I need details and action right then and there. Do this, do that. TL Costa, author of “Playing Tyler,” in my CTRWA chapter, gave hints way back when I was a baby wriggling writer. She was great, but I wasn’t. While reminiscing about my writer pal’s busy lives, I put the whole mess behind me and gave up.

Scrivener for Dummies. If you don’t know the questions, how do you get the answers? Guess you have to read cover to cover. Never tried.

NOW WHAT? I am not sitting around, I must learn Scrivener now! Funny thing happened on the way to the forum, OIRW* offered a course, Scrivener workshop. This is definitely a divine intervention. I rubbed my hands together, sighed, and signed up.




Ines Johnson, instructor, a heavenly gift,  knows her stuff and shares with heart. Her method is Scene by Scene. Ines not only teaches Scrivener, but explains GMC. Sound familiar? Goal, Motivation and Conflict. In every scene you write, include GMC. In this workshop, Scrivener will befriend me, and I expect to become a better writer. I can’t wait to read her books, the one waiting for me in my Kindle is “Rumpeled: a Cindermama Story, (Cindermama series)

Here’s the kicker. My job at Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum has an exhibition coming in this Saturday, I greet, meet and install, no small feat this art curating. Paperwork, phone calls, meetings,  smatterings of my job. In the midst of a struggle to survive as a writer, a precious piece had to go, painting parted. In spite of it all I missed at least two workshop days with Ines and fell behind. Reminiscent of my interior design and architecture studies. Nights, lots of nights, not much sleep, not much food, mostly vitamins and coffee.

Wait, I’m not done. Remember Pat Haggerty in that cowboy hat at the top of the page? With a simple student request, he blessed me with his videos. Together with Ines Johnson, hearing aids, miracles mixed in, guess what? Turns out, Ines, after eyeing a snapshot of my work, said, “You’re all caught up.”

For shows coming up at Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum, watch for my future blogs on . . . .”

*OIRW Outreach International Romance Writers (Romance Writers of America Chapter)

Have you indulged? Why not join the Scrivener crowd? Scrivener is a powerful content-generation tool for writers that allows you to concentrate on composing and structuring long and difficult documents. While it gives you complete control of the formatting, its focus is on helping you get to the end of that awkward first draft.

Indigo Sky, available in audio, ebook and paperback.

Indigo Sky available on Amazon buy link:
Author page:



The Road to Publication: A Writer’s Navigation Guide

Written by a research scientist, author Claire Gem’s book The Road to Publication: A Writer’s Navigation Guide, will be released Friday, March 17, 2017. This is a book all writers must own. Claire is an excellent teacher and has shared her knowledge with me. I benefited from her expertise. She is a driving force, doesn’t give up, and isn’t satisfied until she reaches her goal. She creates fantastic book trailers to accompany all her books. Please find links within this post.


Book Trailer Magic

Those of you who know me at all, know that I have a penchant for designing book trailers to go along with my novels. I guess perhaps in another life I might have been a movie director—maybe I still have that to look forward to in the next! In any case, after my initial struggling for several weeks with the iMovie software on my Mac, I hit a rhythm. I learned the ropes. And just like that, voila, my first book trailer came to life.

I honestly believe the trailer for my debut novel sold more books for me than any other marketing ploy I used. Even though I cheated a bit on that one. You see, iMovie has two facets: An option to produce a Trailer, and one to produce a Movie. The Trailer function is pretty much automated, with templates you simply use to produce the trailer. There are pre-programmed themes, accompanied by music. All you do is drag and drop in the images, determine how they will be viewed (movie clips, still-shot photos, or panned to appear in motion), and type in the script you want to use. This worked fantastic for the first trailer I ever produced for Phantom Traces.

But as those of you who know me also know: I don’t like to do things via template. I like scribbling outside the box. So, I made it my goal to learn how to use the iMovie function for “movie.” This one wasn’t so easy.

Thanks to Google searches, a dozen or more very informative Youtube instructional videos, and about a thousand hours of swearing at my laptop screen, I produced my second trailer, sans template. And the next. And the next. I even produced a trailer for my gracious blog hostess, Gail Ingis, for her debut novel, Indigo Sky, which you can view HERE.

The takeaway? I love producing book trailers. Almost as much as writing the book itself. In fact, the practice has actually helped me when I’ve been stuck on a novel—when I wasn’t sure what was going to happen next. In that case, I crafted the trailer before the novel was complete. The process of choosing the photos and condensing my story down into a handful of words helped me figure out how the plot would progress.

So, did I design a trailer for my nonfiction, Author Resource craft book coming out this Friday, March 17th? Yes, and no. I wasn’t sure the book needed one, being nonfiction and all. But my sister, dear friend, and cover designer, Terri DelNegro, disagreed. She put together what she called a “trailer kit” of uniquely designed images to describe the contents and purpose of The Road to Publication. Then she sent those images and word snippets to me, saying, “My movie software can’t handle putting this together and adding music. You’re the expert. You do it.”

And so, I did. You can view that joint effort book trailer HERE.

Book trailers are not only fun to produce, they help in clarifying the story you are trying to tell, helping you distill the plot or details into their pure essence. I highly recommend the practice.

The Road to Publication: A Writer’s Navigation Guide

The Blurb: “This is the book I wish I could have found at the very start of my career as a novelist.”

The multi-faceted, complex, and somewhat mysterious world of the publishing industry can quickly turn into a maze, ensnaring aspiring or new authors within the twisting alleys of its labyrinth.

Multi-published, award winning author Claire Gem spent the first five years of her career floundering, wandering through a tangled jungle without a guide. In “The Road the Publication,” Ms. Gem takes charge and assumes the duty of cartographer—map-maker for the aspiring author.

You know your goal, right? You want to publish your book. Ms. Gem provides a comprehensive, entertaining tour of the publishing industry and its many facets. It’s then up to you decide which route you’re willing to take to reach your pot of gold—your published novel at the end of “The Road to Publication.”

“This is a great book, and I believe a necessary one…so much more entertaining to read than a straight how to guide.” Allie Rottman, Editor

Book Trailer:    

About Claire Gem:
Strong Women, Starting Over
~Redefining Romance~

Claire is a multi-published, award winning author of five titles in the genres of contemporary romance, supernatural suspense, and women’s fiction. She also writes Author Resource guide books, and presents seminars on writing craft and marketing.

Her supernatural suspense, Hearts Unloched, won the 2016 New York Book Festival. The manuscript for her women’s fiction, The Phoenix Syndrome, won FCRWA’s The Beacon Contest in 2014 before it was even published.

Books by Claire Gem: Phantom Traces, Hearts Unloched, A Taming Season, The Phoenix Syndrome, Spirits of the Heart

A New York native, Claire has lived in five of the United States and held a variety of jobs, from waitress to bridal designer to research technician—but loves being an author best. She and her happily-ever-after hero, her husband of 38 years, now live in central Massachusetts.

You can get in touch with Claire here:

Ask Claire!

Indigo Sky available on Amazon buy link:
Author page:

Gail Ingis’s Indigo Sky
“A beautifully spun tale of love, heartache, adventure and sinister perils….” – David S. #bookworm #greatreads

In a whirlwind romance, a lovely New York socialite marries a fêted, debonair author. But beneath the charm is a cheating husband addicted to hasheesh. Her dream marriage turns sour and the simplicity of her life runs amok when a handsome stranger, her husband’s business partner, threatens her staunch loyalty to her wayward husband. When she faces the ugly truth about her marriage, her need to finalize her divorce sends her on mad chase across the wilds of nineteenth century America with a handsome stranger—she learns hard lessons of murder, kidnapping and more that almost destroy her.

Amazon Author Page:
Audio (bit-ly)





Nope, it’s not working. How do I do this writing thing?

Writing fiction fell upon me through my own devices of dreams and things. After some research online where I found the affair of my 19th century, barely out of her teen years debutante, I thought, I must write this story of love, disappointment and murder.

I know, I said to myself, I’ll write a book. After all, I had written a chapter for a history book and been wooed by a publisher. I wrote up school catalogs, wrote course curriculum, wrote up interior design and architectural history lectures, proposals for jobs, poetry and love letters. Surely writing a book would be a piece of cake. Sure, right.

I sat down, pen in hand, put pen down—booted up my trusty Mac, surely that would inspire me, nope, that didn’t help, read “Writing for Dummies,” nothing helped. This is not going to work. What do I write first, the end? What words do I use? How do I find my characters? Where does all this come from? It shouldn’t be any different than giving a lecture. OK, I though smugly, I’ll approach it like a lecture. I could talk for hours about interior design, lighting, space planning, history, architectural anything. Still nothing. I remember the emptiness, the confusion, the lack of words. I didn’t think I had this gift to tell a story, no less write one. If it is pretend, then leave it to the imagination of the gifted.

Tommy the train to NYC

Then I met Brenda. I met this young woman on a train ride into New York traveling to a Michael Hauge workshop.

Michael Hauge is a story and script consultant, author, and lecturer who works with writers and filmmakers on their screenplays, novels, movies, and television projects.

Hauge is a screenwriter who works with storytellers like me, well—me trying to discover my inner sanctum. I didn’t grasp the lesson that day, but on our break, I heard what Brenda had written and asked her if any of what I heard was true. She said no, that she had made it up, Ahha, a storyteller. I asked Brenda to explain how she did that. We talked several times, and she helped me start my story of this young girl, married to a drug addict, and her hero that came along and saved her life.

Inventor, creator

Creator, inventor

I discovered the art of writing, a creative endeavor. Creativity is a right brain activity. Have you explored your creativity? I always remember creating. When I was maybe seven years old, comic books were the rage. I would sit at my desk and draw what I saw in the comic books. Wonder Woman was my hero. As I got older, I drew all kinds of things. I played the piano, I took dance lessons, voice lessons, sang in school shows, sang in school choir, took my mother’s dresses apart and remade them. Took my radio apart and my clock apart and put them back together, well, with Daddy’s happy help, it was my curiosity that pushed me to explore. The list goes on, and I wrote little poems and notes to friends and family. I was just not a storyteller.


I wanted to tell this story, and by golly, I was going to. I investigated availability of curriculum to learn the skills of fiction writing. Workshops, online courses and seminars, mentors, crit groups, conferences—later, newly armed with the craft of writing for which I should be awarded a PhD in the subject, I had the first draft done, however, not without help and encouragement from Brenda and my editor. This is not an activity that is easily done alone. I am a member of the Connecticut Chapter of the Romance Writers of America, where so many other writers gather and help each other. The first draft led to the second and the third drafts. By the time I worked on the fourth, I had my publisher’s editor who was amazing. With her edits, I practically rewrote the whole manuscript. In October 2015, Indigo Sky was published by Soul Mate Publishing. I finally felt like a writer, and could call myself ‘Author.’

My book can be found in three formats, paperback, eBook and Audiobook. If you like to watch trailer previews of Disney, you will enjoy the trailer preview of Indigo Sky.

The link to my trailer is right here above on my Author page.

The most wonderful gift that came out of all of this is my growth as a writer. I can teach, edit, develop, critique, mentor and encourage new writers and even participate with seasoned writers doing related activities.

So . . . what is your creative bent?






I’m so excited you stumbled upon this little corner of the ever changing mystery of writing. The ever eluding story, fiction or nonfiction. I write about all things questionable and what isn’t? Little kids fire questions that we all asked at one time or another. Everything is a mystery, beginning with, “Why is the sky blue?” When was the last time you asked that one?

Why is the sky blue?

A clear cloudless day-time sky is blue because molecules in the air scatter blue light from the sun more than they scatter red light. When we look towards the sun at sunset, we see red and orange colors because the blue light has been scattered out and away from the line of sight.

Wow, finally got the answer.

THUNDER? Here’s another, especially important for those of us that are scared to death of thunder. Are thunderstorms when God’s clapping or are the clouds banging together as thought by Aristotle in the fourth century BC, in an early speculation that it was caused by the collision of clouds? Nope, neither, thunder is caused by lightening, a loud rumbling or crashing noise heard after a lightning flash due to the expansion of rapidly heated air.
 Here’s some stuff from Google about thunder:
1. a thunderclap, peal of thunder, roll of thunder, rumble of thunder, crack of thunder, crash of thunder
“Thunder and lightning”
More . . .
– a resounding loud deep noise: “you can hear the thunder of the falls in the distance”
Synonyms: rumble, rumbling, boom, booming, roar, roaring, pounding, thud, thudding, crash, crashing, reverberation
1. thunder sounds: “it began to thunder”
-speak loudly and forcefully or angrily, especially to denounce of criticize: “he thundered against the evils of the age”
Synonyms: rail against, fulminate against, inveigh against, rage against/about, rant about
Used in smiles and comparisons to refer to an angry facial expression or tone of voice: “I am Brother Joachim,” he announced in a voice like thunder.”
Used to express anger, annoyance, or incredulity
Exclamation: thunder: “none of this did the remotest good,but, by thunder, it kept the union activists feeling good.”
Lightning: What You Need to Know. NO PLACE outside is safe when thunderstorms are in the area!! If you hear thunder, lightning is close enough to strike you.Think happy thoughts!

If you think you found something you want to discuss, shoot me a message!

Indigo Sky available on Amazon buy link:
Author page:


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