How can I write the first chapter of my fantasy novel as a scene that happened 8 years previously?

 There are two ways and either way works well:
  1. Write the scene as a prologue instead of as a chapter. It’s done all the time and it works great. The only thing to remember if you use this technique is not to make the prologue too long because, for some reason, readers are turned off by a really long prologue and will simply skip it and get to the book itself. Even if the prologue is essential to the story and you do your best to make sure the reader understands that fact, they still tend to skip it if it’s too long.
  2. Write the first chapter as a ‘flashback.’ This is usually done by using the first paragraph to set the scene that the present/real action is in and to kick-start the flashback. Then the last paragraph in the chapter brings the reader back to the present.

More about black cats. Yep, there’s more.

Black cats are as easily adopted as cats of other colors.

Although euthanasia numbers for black cats have been some of the highest of all cats, their total number of adoptions was the highest of any hue as well. There may just simply be more black cats than other colors.

Furthermore, the Black Panther movie has made black cats so wildly popular lately that animal shelters are often not able to provide all the black cats people want.

So does it surprise you that I chose a black cat as one of the main characters of my latest small-town romance, A Very Black Cat?

Of course it doesn’t and if you read the book, you’ll see why he’s so perfect for the role he plays in the story.

How do I write a science fiction short story when I don’t have any ideas on what to write about?


No, I didn’t steal the stories themselves, that would be impossible when all that was given was a one or two-sentence blurb giving a general idea what they were about.

But they gave me ideas that eventually ended up becoming my own stories.

Sometimes I’m sure I changed the endings, though that was usually impossible to know since the endings are seldom given away in those brief descriptions.

I probably also changed the protagonists to suit my whims and the needs of whatever story was beginning to form in my imagination from reading those brief descriptions.

Still other times I’m guessing that I changed the settings, time frames, socio-economic status, family situation, age or sex of the protagonists. Again, I’ll never know because such things are seldom explained in those short descriptions.

Whatever I did, each and every change made the story so significantly different that the result was never even remotely recognizable as the story that provided the inspiration.

I wrote for the women’s market so I looked for women’s stories. If you want to write a science-fiction story, then look to that genre for inspiration.

The picture is the cover of one such story I wrote.

And good luck to all you writers out there.

Does writing exhaust or energize you? What are some common traps for aspiring writers?


Traps for new writers? They are all mental:

  • Thinking you’re not good enough, which is a trap because writing is a craft that, like every other craft, can be learned.
  • Thinking that your writing is good enough ‘as is’ and falling in love with your own work to the point that you’re not willing to change a single word. Or sentence. Or paragraph. I can’t count the number of times I’ve mentored a new writer whose work would have been wonderful — and more than up to publishing standards — IF they’d have been willing to rearrange or eliminate a few words. Okay, a LOT of words. Because new writers tend to use way more words than are necessary!
  • Thinking that you just write what you want to write and it will be published and read by interested readers. Wrong! Publishers — and readers — want to be able to find what they are looking for easily and that means looking in familiar categories for something that they will like. So if what you write falls easily into some genre — any genre — you’re good to go. If not, you’ll struggle to find readers.
  • I’m sure there are many more but those are the ones that come immediately to mind.

Black cat facts I bet you didn’t know.



IN SOME CULTURES, BLACK CATS ARE GOOD LUCK. In Japan, if you are a single lady, owning a black cat is said to increase your number of suitors. If one crosses your path from left to right in Germany, good things will happen.

So maybe having a black cat as a major character in my clean, small-town romance, A Very Black Cat, will bring me good luck? Yep, it will, I’m sure of it. Felines are great fun and my black cat, Smoky, keeps me company while I write.

Black Cats. Gotta love ’em.

There’s a lot to love about these black, fur-balls as evidenced by holidays in their honor. What, you say? Holidays just for a specific color cat?


The ASPCA celebrates Black Cat Appreciation Day annually on August 17.

In England, October 27 is National Black Cat Day.

I mention these because my latest clean small-town romance features a black cat. In fact the title is A Very Black Cat. I didn’t know when I sat down to write the book just how the cat would play against the other, human, characters but it worked out just fine.

Of course. Because Little Guy is a cat. Need I say more?

Check it out:


While writing in third person, what are some of the ways you can refer to the main character other than their name or ‘he’ or ‘she?’

 2018 3 24 writerOne of the easiest ways accomplishes more than just indicating which character is speaking or doing something.

It’s called a ‘dialogue tag’ and it simply means that you mix together the description of the scene with the actions/speeches of the character you wish to pinpoint.

Describe where they are or what they are doing, whichever is appropriate, in a sentence or two, then segue right into the dialog or action in the next sentence in the same paragraph.

Since you have just described either the character or some action involving the character, when you continue with dialogue or action your reader will automatically know who you is doing it.

This moves your action along much faster than if you divided your writing into description and also dialog/action because, this way, both are intertwined.

Should I plan the novel or just start writing?

 Depends ——-
There are two kinds of writers of novels:

Pantsers’ write by the seat of their pants. They just sit down and start writing. They normally end up doing a whole lot of revision and rewriting and, occasionally, even changing the thrust of the story, but they say this method allows their mind free rein and results in a better product.

Plotters’ outline their novel and describe their characters and often describe and research the setting before beginning. They are comfortable doing this because they know who the story is about, where it’s going, how it’s going to get there, and why they are writing it in the first place. They usually spend less time changing and rewriting but that’s balanced by the extra time they put in before beginning.

So it just depends on which kind of writer you are.

I started out being a ‘pantser’ and ended up being a ‘plotter’ when I realized I was writing pages and pages of beautifully worded fluff that said nothing and went nowhere.

Do authors hijack other’s ideas due to their better narrative?


The thing is, they hijack the IDEAS but they don’t hijack the way the idea has been presented. If they do so, it’s called plagiarism and it’s illegal.

What they do is use the idea that someone else had and then spin that idea into something else that is uniquely theirs and that is often unrecognizable as the original idea. This makes perfect sense because that original idea has usually changed so much that by the time it’s presented to the public it actually is a new idea entirely.

Because one way creativity grows is by rubbing against other creativity and the greater the friction the greater the creativity.

What is your motivation for writing?

 2018 3 24 writer
My original motivation for writing was to earn a paycheck from home doing something I enjoyed. And it worked for many years. Then Amazon turned the bricks and mortar publishing industry on its head and the magazines I wrote for went belly up and I found myself without that paycheck.


I tried other means of making money writing. Ghostwriting. Book doctoring. Editing. Etc. They all brought in some money and a lot of headaches. Did you know that it’s easy to lose money doing those things? Very easy! And it’s hard work. So I decided I didn’t want to work my butt off to lose money.

So I found a publisher and started writing novels and I enjoy it greatly. Only problem is that I also must do the marketing and I suck at marketing.

But I’ve found that I want to continue writing whether I get that paycheck or not. Not because I have some fundamental, gut-deep urge to write because I don’t and never did. Nor because I must write or die because I can do many other things and be happy, thank you very much.

Rather I find I wish to continue because I’ve learned a lot about the craft and art of writing during the many years I’ve been at it and I find that I wish to continue to use those skills until they begin to wane. (Which, at my age, could be any day.)

I know how to put a story together. How to create viable characters. How to create a character arc that works. How to both create and describe a setting without the description intruding on the pace of the story. I know how to pace for best effect. I know how to do all the things that, put together, make up a decent story.

In other words, I know how to write and, darn it, I like doing something that I’m good at!