Cyndi Lord, author and writing instructor continues discussion of POV. Are you learning as much as I am?

Cyndi LordCyndi Lord is a bestselling author, editor-in-chief, and has traditionally published six novels. She has spoken to writers in events across the USA, and teaches writing classes.


Eileen: Thanks, Cyndi for joining us again to continue our study of POV. I’m sure the readers have enjoyed the last posting focusing on the concept of Point of View (POV) and how a writer stays in it.

Today, we’re talking more the nitty-gritty of types of POV. I’d like to explore some of the terminology I’ve encountered while reading about crafting novels using different POV.

See the source imageFirst-Person POV—one person
First-Person POV—two different narrators (alternate chapters)
Third-Person POV—one person
Third-Person POV—multiple narrator
Omniscient POV—sees and knows all

Some of these I understand fairly well. Most of the books I read use multiple third-person. Would you like to comment on the list I’ve made? Perhaps give it more clarity?

Cyndi: Sure. First Person is writing from the POV of one person in first person use of I and me. ‘You’re right.” I stared at him hoping for a shocked reply.

Two different narrators is accomplished as first person, one person at a time.

Third person is like a window peeper except the POV is one character and instead of using first person pronouns, you use she said, he said, and report the POV character by name, she/he, or her/him.

Eileen: How do you decide which POV to use in your story? Why favor one character’s POV over another? Are there certain criteria you use to decide whose POV should be used?See the source image

Cyndi: I decide to use the character whose story is being told. The POV character, for me, is who is most important to the story. If it is vital to the story to understand the depth of the character of another actor in the scenes, then I switch off to that character’s POV in another chapter. We always say, “you don’t know what another person is really thinking.” Not true. I can make them the POV character and show my readers what they are thinking. An author must be careful with this tactic as not to destroy a good script flip or unpredictable scene by revealing too much of the other character.

 Eileen: Please tell us what objective mode (remote POV) and subjective mode (close POV) mean? How and why does a writer use these tools? How are they connected to the above list?

Cyndi: Objective POV is observation like third person. This mode does not allow the reader to identify with the emotions of a character. The removed style leaves the reader to fill in the blanks. This style can be used in stories to create thought provocative works rather than creating three scenes with final having a conclusion.

Subjective mode creates a POV character with all their senses, thoughts, emotions revealed to the reader in a way promoting identifying with the character. Each is connected to the list in multiple ways depending on the author’s ability to maintain consistency.

Eileen: What does close third-person mean?

Cyndi: This means the window peeper reveals only the POV character’s thoughts and feelings, while reporting actions and dialogue only of the other characters.

Eileen: I read lots of books written in third person. Some use one narrator and others use multiple. What advantages are there for a writer when writing third person multiple points of view versus third person with one POV?

Cyndi: I think this is an informative style much like the results of a social experiment or interviews with jurors after the verdict. The style demonstrates how different people see things, think, and feel about the same evidence or issues.

Eileen: If a writer uses multiple third-person POV, when can he shift to another narrator without confusing the reader?

Cyndi: A new character’s POV can be introduced after a clear break symbol in a chapter or chapter. What’s most important is to have an opening sentence allowing the reader to know POV has changed. The senses of the new POV character should be revealed. Something like: a cold breeze raised goosebumps on Mark’s arms.

Eileen: In any of your published stories is the POV any other than the protagonist/s?

Cyndi: Yes. In The Plain Series, and Sandra Derringer Chronicles, book three, I change to other characters’ POV.

Eileen: What does omniscient POV mean? I think that is the most difficult for me to identify. Have you used it?

Cyndi: My kneejerk answer is, ‘omniscient POV means the author has not developed the craft of writing.’ Omniscient writing is easy because the author reveals the thoughts, feelings, and actions of every character. Everything is usually predictable, no twist can happen effectively unless an unknown actor happens by, and the reader cannot identify with the POV character because none exists.

Eileen: Can a writer mix omniscient POV (all knowing entity who knows all the characters) with other points of view?

Cyndi: They can, but what is the point? Omniscient reveals everything about everyone anyway.

Eileen: When a story is told in first person, it is written in the POV of the person telling it. Have you written a story where your POV in first person, and also use POV in third-person for another character? Or is that something a writer shouldn’t do?

Cyndi: I have written in first person, but not mixed third person or third person close in the same novel. I feel this would be confusing to the reader.

Eileen: How does writing in first person change the character of a story?

Cyndi: First person offers all of the POV character to the readers to relate to and get in the head of. Moreover, the reader is transported through the scenes inside the character.

Eileen: How can writing in first person affect the suspense and tension of a story?

Cyndi: The reader feels what the POV character feels—love, trepidation, anger, hurt feelings, happiness, fear, joy, sorrow, anxiety, and relief.

Eileen: Are there limitations to a story when it is told in first person?

Cyndi: Yes. The character cannot know what is going to happen (futuristic writing) and can never know what another character is thinking of feeling.

Eileen: How can writing in first person (the narrator’s point of view) make the story more interesting?

Cyndi: It is more interesting to be in the head and share the emotions of a character than to be told by another.

Eileen: I read about a first-person narrator who is unreliable in what he sees and thinks, maybe not even rooted in a sane world. Have you tried this approach to writing your protagonist?

31568534Cyndi: You may recall Loretta from They Call Me Avenged. Her mental illness made her believe or think she was being kind and obedient to God, while she was incapable of maintaining any level of civility with other people.

Eileen: Do you have any suggestions for our readers about learning POV?

Cyndi: Read the article I wrote for this interview.

Eileen:  I really appreciate you joining us today.  Readers, if you haven’t had a chance to read Cyndi’s novels, you much.  I, particularly, liked the Sandra Derringer Chronicles. They are unique, quick-paced, and sometimes scared me silly! See below the images of the series I’m talking about.

Cyndi:  It was a pleasure being here.  If the readers have questions, be sure to ask them in the comment section below.





Posted in Guest Authors, Interviewing authors, Novel Development, On Becoming a Writer | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Review: LAWFULLY OURS by Jo Grafford ~ Do you like your reads with emotional themes and interesting plots? Join Jo Grafford as she shares her tale.

I first started reading Jo Grafford with her Lost Colony Series.  I adored that series.  Her writing style and characters are authentic, pulling me into their world of emotion, suspense and tragedy.  I highly recommend her books.

lawfully ours

Title: Lawfully Ours   A U.S. Marshal Lawkeeper Romance
Author: Jo Grafford
Genre: Historical Romance, Western
Setting: 1882, Texas
Page: 134
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
ASIN: B07PZ54X63


Publisher’s Summary:

U.S. Marshal Jack Holiday is on a special mission to track and apprehend the notorious Billy Bob Flint from his two-year Robin Hood-style crime spree. More legend than man to the local miners and ranchers, he steals cattle from the rich and herds them straight to the shabby barnyards of the poor.

Catherine Rose Southerland is working hard to overcome her tragic past and earn a living as a seamstress. But when Jack rides into her Texas hometown brandishing an arrest warrant for Flint, she realizes the new life she’s built for herself may come crumbling around her ears at any moment.

Torn between old loyalties and her unexpected attraction to Jack, Catherine Rose struggles to keep her ties to Flint a secret. Will their growing feelings for each other be strong enough to overcome the truth when it is finally revealed, or will it tear them apart forever?

Review:  There are some men who go beyond what we nowadays think or expect out of our employees. They temper their work with fairness and justice.

This is a story about a marshal who encounters unreasonable prejudice.  It’s also about good people, downtrodden, because those with more men, more guns, more so-called law were the victors.

The Marshal is a loner, would love to just settle down, but never attracted to women he meets while moving from town to town, keeping the law.  In Liberty Springs, the marshal’s heart is snagged by a seamstress who isn’t all that she appears to be, her tongue laced with half-truths. She, along with the town, is protecting a man Jack Holiday was sent to put behind bars. Why?  He is determined to find out.  One thing about the marshal, he can’t abide lies.

The seamstress is kind, witty, and beautiful.  What is not to like about Catherine Rose? She is also attracted to the marshal. But she knows he’s her enemy because he is after Billy.  Billy is her life.  They share a treacherous past and almost lost their lives as their parents did when the Texans attacked their home. She would protect Billy with her life. But will she have to?

Billy Flint is also a man I could admire.  Much like the Marshal, he bends the rules, aids the poor. He is a man of character with a past of tragedy.  Even though the Texas Indian Wars are over, hurt and hard feelings continue to riddle the hearts of men.  Billy does what he can to revenge the killing of his parents, who not just lost their lives, but their property and land–rightfully belonging to Billy and his sister. He has the town’s gratitude and loyalty.  

Secondary character, but no less striking is Molly Monroe, a woman who has also suffered.  Her crime?  She’s black.  Catherine and Molly work the seamstress shop together and are good friends.  Molly is very eloquent and is sweet on Billy.  But what’s the point?  She knows she can never have him.

The arm of the law is long and not always right.  This western is a prime example.  Author Grafford writes a story where characters suffer for what they are, not what they do.  The story is more a novella, however, the author paints a rugged west of hardship and generosity I enjoyed very much.

Jo GraffordNew Release Email List —
Cuppa Jo Readers Group —

Mail Order Brides Rescue Series
Hot-Tempered Hannah
Cold-Feet Callie
Fiery Felicity
Misunderstood Meg — coming April, 2019

Whispers In Wyoming
(a multi-author series)
His Wish, Her Command
His Dream, Her Love — coming June, 2019

The Lawkeepers
(a multi-author series)
Lawfully Ours
Lawfully Loyal —coming September, 2019

Ornamental Match Maker Series
(a multi-author series)
Angel Cookie Christmas
Star Studded Christmas
Stolen Heart Valentine

Her Billionaire Series
Her Billionaire Boss
Her Billionaire Bodyguard — coming soon!

Lost Colony Series
Breaking Ties – FREE
Trail of Crosses
Into the Mainland
Higher Tides — coming soon!



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Cyndi Lord joins Booktalk with Eileen discussing the novel-crafting element Point of View (POV)

woman-writing-a-bookBefore I turn this blog over to Cyndi Lord, let me share something about my writing journey.

One day early 2014, I completed my first novel’s manuscript through the NaNoWriMo challenge.  I wrote furiously, finished the story and necessary number of words.  Delighted I was but knew it was riddled with zillions of flaws I wasn’t even aware of.  I was a reader, an avid one at that, not a writer.  I had always wanted to write a novel, but as many of you experience, life just gets in the way. 

If it isn’t a demanding job putting you on edge, even holding down a couple of jobs, or little ones scampering around the house, to dealing with health issues—all taking the front seat, how is a want-to-be writer to write?

I refuse to make more excuses, yes, that’s what they are.  Why couldn’t I read less, for example, stay up No-more-Excuses-Picture-quotea little longer than the rest of the household or get up an hour earlier?  It’s a matter of learning how to carve out time, taking your writing off the want-to-do list and putting it on the have-to-do list.

Now, I fall asleep at night thinking about the next scene, tweaking the previous scene.  I’m making progress. I have so much more to learn!

Where are you in your journey?  I would love to hear from you.

Today, Cyndi Lord joins us with an article she wrote on the novel element Point of View (POV)—the focus of my month’s study.  I hope you benefit from this article.


Writing in Point of View

Cyndi LordBy Cyndi Lord, Bestselling author

Stay in POV; these words fill a writer with anxiety and feelings of failure. They thought they were staying in point-of-view. Many books about the style of writing and articles indicating a knowledge of how the dilemma is solved between the pages leave us more confused. I’m willing to share the secret with you here. Just like showing and not telling, you, the author, have to shut up. Yes, I told you to shut up. Why? You are not in the story. You are not the POV character, and everything you know has nothing to do with what the POV character knows.

Let me give you an example of a real problem in stories. The POV character sees a woman for the first time and knows nothing about her. Author knows everything. Author has developed the new character. Author writes background and motivation of the new character to inform the reader. The reader jumped out of the head of the POV character because the author butted into the story like a pesky child, got in the face of the reader, and shouted, “I know stuff,” while waving both hands above their headg. Authors writing information to a scene they alone have in their character development notes is intrusive and unnecessary.

Imagine you have placed a specialized camera on the forehead of your POV character and through their sight will shoot a silent movie. Wait. This camera is specialized and hooked up to the POV character’s senses. The sight, hearing, taste, ability to feel, smell, and think will all be reported through the camera. From your first sentences to the end of the POV of that character’s scene, nothing, and I mean nothing not coming from that camera can be written. Why? Because you are writing in POV of that character. Add all the senses you can. Put the reader in the POV character’s body and leave them there. Imagine it is our POV character Brenda, who sees the new character for the first time. Let’s build a scene that gives Author’s information from Brenda.

Plush carpeting encased Brenda’s high heels when she followed a hostess into the dining area.  Forks and knives of other patrons tapped against china over the rumble of quiet conversations. Roasting meat, spices, and hints of expensive wine filled the air with inviting aromas. She licked her lips and strawberry lip balm caressed her tongue. The hostess smiled a gestured to an overstuffed chair upholstered in diamond tuck, cream material. The table for two was covered with a rose-colored lace tablecloth. Less than a foot away, a woman in her early twenties sat alone at the next table. Her silk gown was outdated and the overlay sagged and showed piling on the bodice. Brenda smiled, nodded, and took her seat.

 Note; I have set the scene. Everything is from Brenda’s senses. What she will learn about the other woman will happen during dinner when they strike up a conversation. Let’s say they become friends or client and attorney, wherever the first encounter takes them, nothing can be learned about the other woman or anyone else except through Brenda. Author can never report anything another character thinks, feels, smells, tastes, sees, or thinks. Brenda can see and hear another person. Imagine a scene where a waiter pours boiling water into a cup sitting on a table in front of a man. A little boy runs into the waiter and the stream of water moves over the seated man’s lap. Brenda “sees” what happens, “sees” the man’s facial expression, “hears” him scream, and can “think” (in italics) how much that must hurt. Brenda cannot report through her senses what the man or the waiter feel.

Keep the specialized camera going all the time. Your novel can be better than a movie because this camera gives you the ability to use all the senses of your POV character to keep the reader engrossed.  

Posted in Guest Authors, Interviewing authors, Novel Development, On Becoming a Writer | Tagged , , | 13 Comments

Interview with Mystery Novelist Margot Kinberg: Elements of Crafting Stories–Character-Building, Dialogue, Point of View

I’ve been quiet for a while. (whispering) Working on my first chapter of the book I haven’t titled yet.  But more on that in my next post.  

Today, please welcome Margot Kinberg! Margot Kinberg

Margot Kinberg’s Bio:

Margot Kinberg is a mystery novelist (she writes the Joel Williams series) and Associate Professor. She has written four Joel Williams novels (Publish or Perish, B – Very Flat, Past Tense, and Downfall). She is also the editor of the charity anthology In a Word: Murder.  

Margot: Thanks very much for hosting me, Eileen! It’s a real privilege to be here.

Eileen:  Thank you!  I’m excited to hear your opinions on various questions I’ve posed-some on character building, others on dialogue.  You’ll also be sharing some thoughts on telling a story, how to figure out the best point of view and when. Let’s begin. 

Do you follow a plan how to develop characters?

Margot: I don’t have a set plan – that is, not an outline. But I do ask myself questions about characters as I write them. I write crime fiction; so, in my stories, there’s at least one murder, and at least one victim. I start with that person. For instance, in B-Very Flat, the victim is a promising university student – a violin virtuosa. Once I worked out that she would be the victim, I thought about what she would be like. What might she care about? How might she respond to the world? Who might be her friends and family? And then, of course, who might want to kill her? As I worked on those questions, her personality started to develop.

Eileen: How do you figure out what your characters look like?  Is it important to know where they live, when they live, what educational level they have? If so, at what point in the novel development does this become important?  

Margot: I think it is important to imagine what a character looks like. Appearance can give a lot of information about a character, and having it in mind helps the writer to show-not-tell about the character. And there are times when it does matter a lot where a character lives, what that character’s educational background is, and so on. The reason is that all of those factors (appearance, background, economic situation, and many more factors) impact personality. Those things make us who we are. If a character is to be credible and interesting, that character has to be consistent, and that includes all of those factors.

32831154For instance, in Past Tense, book 3 of my Joel Williams series, one of my characters heads up a university Women’s Studies program. I thought about what she looked like (she’s of medium height with a straight dark bob). But mostly, I thought about the sort of person she is. Her background (a university education, a more working-class upbringing, a trauma in her past, and a few other things) have led her to be a feminist, so it made sense she’d lead up the Women’s Studies program. Her home (not far from the university) fits in with her character, too, and all of these factors combine (I hope) to give readers a sense of who this person is.

Eileen: Do you develop one character at a time?  That is, you know what type of character you have as your main protagonist and develop the others to build conflict and arc tension?

Margot: I don’t really develop just one character at a time, to be honest. I do start B-Very Flat (Joel William, #2)with the victim in my story (as I say, I write crime fiction). But as I think about the people that person knows, I develop those characters as the story unfolds. For instance, B-Very Flat, book 2 of my Joel Williams series,  follows the victim as she goes about her life. In that context, we meet the other characters with whom she interacts, and we get to know all of them as the story goes on. They don’t develop one at a time, if I can put it that way.

Eileen: In your process, does the backstory and character conflict support the story, or do you create the story to support the backstory and character conflicts?

Margot: For me (and other authors likely do this in other ways), backstory and character conflicts are integrally woven into the story. They support each other. It’s a bit like the nature/nurture debate, as I see it. The best story lines include characters and their backstories and conflicts. At the same time, the best-developed characters appear in stories that have solid and clear plots. I do like to tell stories, but those stories aren’t interesting without interesting characters. That’s probably not a direct and clear answer to your question, but it reflects my process.

Eileen:  Please use one of the series you’ve already written. Where do you get your inspiration for characters? 

Margot: The Joel Williams series takes place mostly in an academic setting. Williams is a former police detective-turned-professor, so he lives and works in a university community. I’ve spent almost my entire adult life on university campuses, first as a student, and then as an educator. So I’ve gotten to know a lot of the people who spend time on campuses (students, colleagues, administrators, custodians, staff people, and lots more). Those people have been quite an inspiration to me.7210029

That said, I do not use specific, real people as characters in my stories. My characters are completely fictional. I do tap my 38581329experience at different university settings, and what I know about the sorts of people in those settings, though. For instance, there are certain things that a university dean does (at least in US higher education). One of them is to administer a school’s budget. Another is appoint faculty to different special projects. I tapped some of what I know about the work of a dean for Downfall, in which a dean makes an appearance and is involved in a sub-plot of the story.

Eileen: How do you choose the voice of a character?

Margot: I start with the character’s background (gender identification, economic situation, age, and so on). Then, I work out the way that character would likely speak. I think it’s critical to match voice to character, so as to make that character more believable. To put it another way, the voice of the characters fall out naturally (or, I hope they do) from their particular lives and circumstances.

Eileen: Why is dialogue so important in a good story?

Margot: Oh, dialogue is essential! It’s the way in which characters share information with each other. Yes, there’s modern electronic communication, such as texting, email and so on. But we primarily show what we’re like through the way we speak with others. So, it’s important that the author pay attention to the way two characters interact.

What this means (at least for me) is that dialogue offers the author a way to show-not-tell a lot. Dialogue lets an author show what the relationship is between two characters. It also lets the author provide information like clues (for mysteries and other crime fiction), backstory information, and more.

Eileen: How do you get across the tone used in dialogue since tone many times makes all the difference in the meaning?

Margot: Tone really does make a difference. Very often, for instance, tone can let someone know whether a comment’s meant as a joke or not. And it can be tricky to convey tone in a way that doesn’t slow a story down. But there are ways to do it. I try to use verbs, and sometimes descriptions (such as having a character raise an eyebrow or use a certain facial expression) to convey tone. Here’s an example from Past Tense. In this scene, two police officers, Donna Crandall and Ron Zuniga, have been called to a construction site, because workers there discovered some old bones:

‘‘I can’t say we have a whole lot of crazy stuff going on here, really. But even we get it from time to time.’ [Crandall]

‘So it seems,’ Zuniga cracked. Crandall gave him a sidelong fake glare and then they both focused their thoughts as they approached the construction workers.’

In that case, I wanted to show that Zuniga’s comment is intended as a joke. He’s not shocked, and he’s not being sarcastic or rude. That’s why I chose the verb ‘cracked,’ and why I chose the words, ‘sideling fake glare.’  To put all of this another way, I convey tone by embedding dialogue in contexts that clarify the tone.

Eileen: How do you let the reader know your characters sound different?

Margot: To me, that all has to do with the way characters use language. And that’s a product of characters’ backgrounds, education levels, personalities, and other factors. I try to make my characters’ voices distinctive through choice of word, sentence structure, and the like. For instance, here are two characters from Downfall having a conversation. One is a university educator doing getting some background for a research study. The other is the mother of a student who died two years before the novel takes place. The educator has found out about the death, and wanted to talk to the student’s mother about it:

“I understand. I appreciate that you took the time to talk to me. I wonder,’ Carr decided to take a risk, ‘whether you’d be willing to meet with our team again?’

After a long pause, she said, ‘I got my job, I got my kids, I don’t have time to go somewhere and meet with somebody. And I met with enough people already about Curtis. No need me saying nothing else.’’

To me, it’s important to convey subtle differences in speech patterns without stereotyping or using clichés.

Eileen: Do your characters swear?

Margot: Some do, and some don’t. My main protagonist occasionally swears, but he doesn’t use the foulest words out there. The other characters I’ve created are all different, so they use profanity differently. Like other use of language, I think swearing (or not) has to do with personality, background, and a lot of different factors. So, the author can use it (if desired) to show what a character is like.

Eileen: How is your character’s personality reflected in dialogue?

Margot: That’s an interesting question. Dialogue is certainly an effective way to show what a character is like (timid, bossy, extroverted, eager to please, immature, etc..). At the same time, it’s important (to me, at least) not to use clichés or contrivances. Even a timid person, for instance, doesn’t always stammer. Even the bossy type sometimes says, ‘please,’ and ‘thank you.’ But there are ways to share those nuances of character. Here’s an example of what I did in Downfall. This character is an executive at a for-profit alternative education program. In this scene, he’s leading three researchers (of whom my protagonist/sleuth is one) on a tour of one of the program’s schools:

‘“The kids who come here really do well,’ Mark responded, “and the data we’ve been keeping show that they succeed, too. They do well at our Mayfair and Point Breeze center, too, not just at this one.’

This character happens to be ‘corporate-minded,’ although he’s not ruthlessly profit-driven. So, he uses ‘buzz words’ and certain phrases, and whenever he can, he promotes the program. And when the researchers press him a bit about the death of a student, he admits that it happened, but his focus is much more on image and the program’s public relations than it is on the actual humans involved.

Eileen: How do you keep your dialogue from feeling stilted or contrived? 

Margot: As I see it, the most important thing to do when creating dialogue is to make it natural. Dialogue ought to have the rhythm and cadence that real speech does. And it ought to reflect the way real people talk to each other.

Because of that, I think the best way to keep dialogue sounding natural is to pay close attention to the way real people speak. I don’t mean what people say on TV shows or films (that’s usually scripted, anyway), but in real life. I pay attention to speech patterns when I’m in a meeting, or shopping, or out to dinner, or…  I’ve found that the more observant I am of the way people interact, the more realistic my dialogue often is.

Eileen: How do you decide which POV to use in your story?  Why favor one character’s POV over another? Are there certain criteria you use to decide whose POV should be used?

Margot: For me, the key to choosing POV is what serves the story best. For example, a story that depends on the unreliable narrator might be best served by using first person. That way, the author can manipulate the reader, disguise other characters’ motives, and so on. On the other hand, when it’s a whodunit, the author might want third person POV, so as to show what different characters are thinking and doing. That’s what I’ve done in my novels.

That said, though, three are advantages to keeping the focus on one character’s POV as opposed to others. For instance, it makes sense to keep the focus on the protagonist’s POV, whether it’s first or third person. That allows the reader to get to know the protagonist, and to be caught up in the story as the protagonist is.

Eileen: What does close third person mean?

Margot: Close third person follows one character, but in third person. There are many, many novels written that way, and there are good reasons to do so. Close third person means that the story is about one character’s experiences, relationships, and so on, so there’s plenty of opportunity for character development. There’s also the opportunity, in stories like whodunits, for the author to lead the reader up the ‘garden path’ if the character is misled by the villain, for instance.

One disadvantage of close third person is that it doesn’t necessarily allow for quite as much character development among the other characters. That’s because they only appear as the main characters sees and interacts with them. This can be a bit restrictive if it’s not handled well.

Eileen: I read lots of books written in third person.  Some use one narrator and others use multiple. What advantages are there for a writer when writing third person multiple points of view versus third person with one POV?

Margot: I find there are a lot of advantages in writing in third person with multiple POVs. That’s the way I write my novels. The main reason I do so is to give the reader a wider perspective on the story. I write murder mysteries, so that’s the main plot point of my work. Writing with multiple POVs (third person) allows me to share the way the murder and its investigation impact all of the characters. It also lets me set up certain characters as suspects. 

Another advantage of using multiple third person POVs is that it allows for including sub-plots. It’s not absolutely necessary, of course, but it is easier (at least for me) to create sub-plots if readers are following the point of view of more than one character.

Eileen: If a writer uses multiple third-person POV, when can he shift to another narrator without confusing the reader?

Margot: That’s an important question. Readers want, and deserve, to know whose point of view is being shared at any one time, and abrupt shifts in POV can be distracting. Writers who want to shift POV can do it effectively in a few ways.

One way is by chapter. Chapters are natural ‘break points,’ and it can be effective to devote different chapters to different POVs. I’ve read more than one author’s work where that was done successfully.

Another way to shift POV is by scenes. That’s what I do. For example, in Downfall, I include scenes where telephone conversations take place. I begin with one character’s POV as that person makes the telephone call. Then, in the next scene, after the call is completed, I move to another character (usually the other person involved in the conversation).  I’d also add that, for writers who do this, it’s important to make it very clear whose POV is being shared. Using names helps (e.g. ‘John put his telephone back in his pocket. He was glad the call had only lasted five minutes, so he could still make his next meeting.’)

Eileen: In any of your published stories is the POV any other than the protagonist/s?

Margot: That’s the way I do all of my stories. The protagonist in my series is a former police detective who’s now a professor of criminal justice. But his point of view (I use third person) isn’t at all the only point of view I share in my work. I also share the points of view of people he interacts with, suspects, and sometimes just witnesses.

For me, sharing multiple points of view allows the reader the chance to get a broader view of the story as it develops. It’s also helpful in building conflict and tension. I also use multiple POVs to all for some sub-plots in my work – things that my protagonist wouldn’t necessarily know.

Eileen: Are there limitations to a story when it is told in first person?

Margot: There are some limitations. For one thing, it’s harder to share information with readers. If the protagonist doesn’t know something, then the reader can’t know it. It’s also more challenging to do character development with other characters. If they don’t show sides of themselves to the protagonist (or the protagonist doesn’t find out those sides), then readers don’t learn about those other characters as fully as they do when those characters’ POVs are shared.

That said, first person POV can give a real sense of immediacy to a story. Some people argue that it can also invite the reader into the story. That’s what happens, for instance, when someone you know tells you about something that’s happened. You follow along with the storyteller.

Eileen:  You have really covered lots of information in this interview.  I’m also pleased your writing is in crime fiction.  By the way, your books covers are fabulous.  Most definitely, the Joel Williams series intrigues me.

Margot: Thanks again for hosting me, Eileen!


Find Margot’s books here:
Publish or Perish
B-Very Flat
Past Tense
In a Word: Murder

Posted in Interviewing authors, Mystery, Novel Development, On Becoming a Writer | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Just Released: Amy Jarecki’s Book 2 THE DUKE’S UNTAMED DESIRE from the Devilish Dukes Series ~ review follows


Title:  The Duke’s Untamed Desire Devilish Dukes, Book 2
Author: Amy Jarecki
Genre: Historical Romance, Regency
Story Setting: England, 1818
Pages: 267
Published Date: April 2, 2019
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC


Publisher’s Summary:

He’s the most notorious rake in London…
Though he uses the reputation to his advantage, the exotic Duke of Evesham is misunderstood and mysterious. He sidles around societal rules, especially when it comes to pursuing a wife. Though when he sets his sights on Lady Georgiana, the rules find a way of bending on their own accord.

She has no intention of courting anyone…
The consummate bluestocking is in London for one thing—to find a financier for her late husband’s fire engine. And after six years away from the ton, Georgiana realizes social codes of conduct are different for widows—especially for ladies who catch the attention of the Duke of Evesham—the one man from whom the lady harbors a ghastly secret.

But fate has a way of making opposites attract…
And when this pair unite, the sparks between them are hotter than blue fire. But will Lady Georgiana’s secrets lead to their demise? Or can the devilish duke find it in his heart to forgive the woman who has claimed his mind, body, and soul?


My Review:

One thing author Amy Jarecki is sure to make happen in her stories, is make me laugh–no matter the genre.  Her characters have a sense of humor and/or find themselves in funny circumstances. This read is highly entertaining, leaving you chuckling from time to time.

This story is no different.  Both protagonists, Lady Georgina and Duke of Evesham, are well matched–they just don’t know it. Georgina comes from a privileged, titled family.  Georgina had loved her husband. He was killed by an accident while working on his steam-powered pumper. Georgina, being a bit of a bluestocking, finished the pumper not getting any financial help from her parents, leaving her living sparsely in a small cottage. 

She comes to London to ‘sell’ the concept of such a machine and hopefully sell her demonstration model. In the process of demonstrating its capabilities, her pumper didn’t have enough manpower.  The water was let loose on the duke–hundreds of gallons of water with a force which should lay low any man. It was a laughable moment for the reader, one which has Georgina cringing, and the duke over furious!

Fortuitously, the Duke doesn’t recognize Georgina when he meets her later and she prays he does not.  Her romantic fling would be dead in its tracks.

The duke doesn’t have a privileged past.  He is a bastard and only recognized as his father’s son when his father was on his deathbed.  Under his duke façade, exists a man of compassionate for the poor, particularly women and children, a bit of a philanthropic. He has played the duke for four years and is rather bored with his life and the women he meets—beds them, appreciating their beauty, but little else. His reputation precedes him. Along the way, he has gained the reputation of a rake.

Something about Georgina interests him. Meeting her on a social level he saw her different from others—which had him coming back to the trough, so to speak, multiple times.

Georgina, curious by nature, possessing a passionate side, decides to have a fling with the duke during a house party her mother and father host for her birthday.  If you know anything about house parties during the Regency period, they were meant for one thing–to encourage men and women to mingle and get to know each other. The Baroness, Georgina’s mother is busy matchmaking.  She sees the duke well suited to her daughter.  The Duke agrees, but Georgina would like her independence as a businesswoman and loves the new adventure between the sheets! There are a few sizzling scenes where the duke is overwhelmed by her lusty vigor and can’t believe his good fortune. 

The plot moves along quickly.  Not all works out the way the duke thought it would or thinks it should.  He loses his temper when he finds he’s been lied to and makes big assumptions about everything else.  Georgina is only too glad the duke reveals his true character before it was too late.


Posted in Book Reviews, Historical Romance, New Book Release, Regency Romance, Romance | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

How To Create a Fascinating Cast of Characters – From the Writers in the Storm Blog — Author Don Massenzio

by Angela Ackerman Let me ask a question: how much time do you spend crafting a character for your novel, say a protagonist? Ten hours? Twenty? Fifty or more? Whatever you answered, I bet we all agree that characters require a lot of work. Who they are in the story, what they want and need, […]

via How To Create a Fascinating Cast of Characters – From the Writers in the Storm Blog — Author Don Massenzio

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Delightful series! One which will charm your socks right off your feet! Just released: THE GOODBYE CAFE by Mariah Stewart



The Hudson Sisters series, Book 3

On sale March 26, 2019
Trade Paperback • Price: $16.00 • ISBN: 9781501145124
eBook • Price: $7.99 • ISBN: 9781501145162


The Hudson Sisters Series:
The Last Chance Matinee The Last Chance Matinee: A Book Club Recommendation! (The Hudson Sisters Series 1)
The Sugarhouse Blues (The Hudson Sisters Series Book 2)The Sugarhouse Blues 

The Goodbye Cafe The Goodbye Café (The Hudson Sisters Series Book 3)


California girl Allie Hudson Monroe can’t wait for the day when the renovations on the Sugarhouse Theater are complete so she can finally collect the inheritance from her father and leave Pennsylvania. After all, her life and her fourteen-year-old daughter are in Los Angeles.

But Allie’s divorce left her tottering on the edge of bankruptcy, so to keep up on payments for her house and her daughter’s private school tuition, Allie packed up and flew out east. But fate has a curve-ball or two to toss in Allie’s direction—she just doesn’t know it yet.

She hadn’t anticipated how her life would change after reuniting with her estranged sister, Des, or meeting her previously unknown half-sister, Cara. And she’d certainly never expected to find small-town living charming. But the biggest surprise was that her long-forgotten artistry would save the day when the theater’s renovation fund dried up.

With opening day upon the sisters, Allie’s free to go. But for the first time in her life, she feels like the woman she was always meant to be. Will she return to the West Coast and resume her previous life, or will the love of “this amazing, endearing family of women” (Robyn Carr, #1 New York Times bestselling author) be enough to draw her back to the place where the Hudson roots grow so deep?


My Review:

This series is charming in its small-town setting and the simpler life people live. I’ve been onboard for the complete series and highly recommend it.  The three sisters have to refurbish an inherited theatre, The Sugarhouse, part of the inheritance left by their father.  All three sisters had to live in Hidden Falls and complete this task to inherit what he left for them.  All, with various reasons, could use the money.  They received so much more in their six months in Hidden Falls.  Book one and two are the stories of Des and Cara, Allie’s sisters.

This is Allie’s story.  She is the sister who was most flawed and unhappiest.  Her multiple fears, based on her insecurities and the events life dishes out to her, lead her to drink heavily – an addiction which destroyed her mother and her mother’s marriage.  When the opportunity to gain some financial stability comes along, she grabs it. Her father didn’t leave much of a dent in Allie’s life—he seldom was around the home front, escaping from his wife.

I loved how much Allie grew in these six months.  From a rather bitter woman insecure on so many fronts, with fear of not able to be a part of her daughter’s life, to a woman with a softer side, humorous, and vivid, capable to stand on her own feet, and who begins acknowledging her own talents. She was no longer needful of her snobbish friends back in L.A.  She finds a relationship of immeasurable value with her siblings and her aunt.  But will this keep her in Hidden Falls?  Her daughter must return to L.A., to her private school.  Allie will do anything for her daughter.  Is her daughter enough for her?

Nikki, Allie’s daughter, has virtually been taken from Allie, circumstances Nikki’s father provides.  When Nikki goes to visit her mother in Hidden Falls, she discovers she enjoys so much of what the town provides.  She discovers real friends with more than clothes and boys on their minds, meets two aunts and a great-aunt who all adore her, and generally provides the reader the energy only an innocent young, sharp-witted teenager displays.

Three local men get involved in the sisters’s lives.  Allie’s included.  But will time run out for this budding relationship to mature enough before Allie returns back to L.A.?

Author Stewart not only builds a small town where I wish I could live, she allows us into the hearts of these three sisters, Nikki, and their aunt, Barney.  Barney is a little mysterious with her nieces, a bit of an artist in providing what her nieces need, lending more entertaining and emotion to the read. The characters will charm your socks off! Thematic and highly entertaining.


MariahStewartAUPhotoAbout the author

Mariah Stewart is the award-winning New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author of numerous novels and several novellas and short stories. A native of Hightstown, New Jersey, she lives with her husband and two rambunctious rescue dogs amid the rolling hills of Chester County, Pennsylvania, where she savors country life and tends her gardens while she works on her next novel. Visit her website at, like her on Facebook at, and follow her on Instagram @Mariah_Stewart_Books.


Posted in Book Reviews, Contemporary Romance, New Book Release, New Book Release Tour, Romance | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Blog Tour: THE SAVIOR by J.R. Ward, Book 17 of the Black Dagger Brotherhood

Waiting for this has been MURHDER…


Black Dagger Brotherhood Series

Publisher: Gallery Books (April 2, 2019)
Publication Date: April 2, 2019
Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc


A vampire and a scientist’s fates are passionately entwined in a race against time in this thrilling romance in the #1 New York Times bestselling “utterly absorbing and deliciously erotic” (Angela Knight, New York Times bestselling author) Black Dagger Brotherhood series.

In the venerable history of the Black Dagger Brotherhood, only one male has ever been expelled—but Murhder’s insanity gave the Brothers no choice. Haunted by visions of a female he could not save, he nonetheless returns to Caldwell on a mission to right the wrong that ruined him. However, he is not prepared for what he must face in his quest for redemption.

Dr. Sarah Watkins, researcher at a biomedical firm, is struggling with the loss of her fellow scientist fiancé. When the FBI starts asking about his death, she questions what really happened and soon learns the terrible truth: Her firm is conducting inhumane experiments in secret and the man she thought she knew and loved was involved in the torture.

As Murhder and Sarah’s destinies become irrevocably entwined, desire ignites between them. But can they forge a future that spans the divide separating the two species? And as a new foe emerges in the war against the vampires, will Murhder return to his Brothers… or resume his lonely existence forevermore?

  Get your copy and Murhder can be all yours


The Black Dagger Brotherhood has a new SAVIOR (click on trailer to see a short video)  The Savior Trailer


The Caldwell Courier Journal

 Sign-up for exclusive Black Dagger Brotherhood original content 


Who better to ask for honest, snarky relationship advice than Vishous?
Ask At Your Own Risk.

Dear Vishous, Agony Aunt Column
(with help from Mary)

Dear Vishous,

First of all, thank you for doing this.  I need another perspective.  I am a 27-year-old woman, about fifteen months out of a five-year relationship.  I started dating a guy about two months ago.  I’ll call him “Evan.”  We met on  We both workout.  We like a good time out at the clubs and the bars.  We’re both Sox fans.  He’s funny and he’s been good about keeping in touch when he travels frequently for work.

My problem is this.  He told me he was twenty-eight.  A week or so ago, when we were playing pool at our local, he told me to snag his wallet and pay for the next round at the bar.  While I was getting money out, I saw his driver’s license.  It said he’s thirty-six and the address listed was in a different area of the city than he told me he lives in. I got the drinks and put his wallet back in his pocket, and tried not to think about it.

But I can’t shake the idea he lied, and it’s causing me to obsess about things that are probably no big deal.  Like, he only comes to stay at my place.  I’ve never been to his apartment, and when I asked about this, he said he has two roommates who get on his nerves and he prefers the break he gets when he sleeps at my apartment.  And I’ve introduced him to my friends, but he’s never offered to do the same.  At first, I was psyched because my ex never wanted to hang with my people.  But now?  I guess I’m uneasy and looking for shadows everywhere.

I don’t care how old he is, and I know that some times folks on Match fudge their age to make them more attractive.  And maybe it’s just an old license.  I don’t want to ruin a good thing by looking like I’m second guessing him about stuff that only appears iffy and for which there is a reasonable explanation.

Please advise,

On The Fence In Beantown


Vishous:  Here’s what you need to do.  Go to your local Stahp ‘n Shahp and get some Sweet Baby Ray’s  BBQ.  Then get a good knife.  After you slice his b*lls off, marinate them and then pan fry ‘em.  Serve them to him hot and spicy and-

Mary:  Okaaaaaaay.  Let’s just all take a deep breath here.

V:  I know, because the BBQ sauce smells great, right?

Mary:  Ah, no.  It’s because we should not settle this type of conflict through bodily harm.

V:  Whatever, that lying sack of sh*t with the fake Match profile doesn’t deserve a set of nuts.  S’all I’m sayin’.

Mary:  I think we’ve heard your point of view loud and clear.  And now, I’d like to offer a more nuanced opinion.  On The Fence, it’s clear that there are some reasons to be concerned about this guy.  One of the things that I tell people in my practice is to always trust your instincts.  As much as you want to believe the best-

V:  Fine.  No BBQ sauce, then.  Just slice, dice and toss ‘em in the pan.  He doesn’t deserve Sweet Baby Ray’s.

Mary:  …………….

V:  What.  Oh, come on, don’t look at me like that.

Mary:  I’ve never actually said this before to someone, but why don’t you light up a cigarette and take a few deep drags.

V:  I thought you’d never ask.

Mary:  Anyway, On The Fence, my suggestion is that you have a frank, face-to-face conversation with “Evan.”  Share your concerns calmly and succinctly.  See what his answers are.  Based on how he responds, you should be able to tell a lot.  Is he listening to you and taking you seriously?  Is he offering to have you stay over at his place?  Or is he defensive and turning everything back on you-

V:  And his Red Sox card is revoked.  He has to root for the Yankees now.

Mary:  -in a way that makes you uncomfortable?  At the end of the day, you deserve to be in a relationship with someone who’s as honest as you are and treats you the way you’re treating them.

V:  I have to agree with Mary on this one.  Even though you’re a human, being with a lying sack of sh*t is whack.

Mary:  Remember, your physical safety comes first, and fast on its heels is your emotional health.  Please do not sacrifice your happiness just because you are hoping that “Evan” is the one-

V:  I think you’re going to find out he’s got a wife and kids and he’s playing you.  Which brings us back to my solution to the problem-

Mary: -and let us know how it goes, please.  Best of luck!

V:  F**k him!  Go get a real man- and that skillet.


About J. R. Ward:ward
J.R. Ward is the author of more than thirty novels, including those in her #1 New York Times bestselling Black Dagger Brotherhood series. There are more than fifteen million copies of her novels in print worldwide, and they have been published in twenty-six different countries around the world. She lives in the South with her family.

Posted in Book Blast New Book, Book Giveaway, New Book Release, New Book Release Tour, Thriller | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Book Tour with Sherilyn Decter: TASTING THE APPLE, Review & Giveaway

When you hear the word Prohibition, you have images of Flappers, gangsters, and jazz–at least I do. But there was also a lot of mystery in the Roaring 20s. Today we get a chance to see how the ghost of a policeman helps a widow deal with criminal elements.

FB DecterAuthor Sherilyn Decter is visiting today to share her latest release, TASTING THE APPLE, the second installment in her Bootleggers’ Chronicles. She also has an exciting giveaway she’s hosting for the tour. Be sure to check it out at the end of the post.

Before you leave us today, I hope you read my review below. I don’t believe I’ve ever read a story set in the 1920s focusing on how the Prohibition affected the society.

Purchase link at

Regional purchase link Amazon


A young widow on the edge. A policeman back from the dead. Together, can they take down the city’s most notorious bootlegger?

Philadelphia, 1925. With a son to raise and boarders to feed, Maggie Barnes is at her wit’s end. But when a criminal element infiltrates the police force, the single mother puts her cares aside to help. As she tries to dig up dirt on bootlegger mastermind Mickey Duffey, Maggie realizes she can’t take on the case alone…

                Inspector Frank Geyer used to patrol the streets of Philadelphia before Maggie was born. As he attempts to clean up crime from beyond the grave, the spirit uses his Victorian sensibilities to fight back against lawbreakers. But with corruption throughout the police force, can the phantom informant save his city and Maggie’s livelihood?

                With the roof leaking and the lawlessness spiraling, Maggie and Frank have one chance to take down a criminal and prevent the unthinkable…

A Bit About the Author and What Goes Into Building a Series With This Setting

decterThe Roaring Twenties and Prohibition were a fantasy land, coming right after the horrors and social upheaval of World War I. Even a century later, it all seems so exotic.

Women got the vote, started working outside the home, and (horrors!) smoked and drank in public places. They even went on unchaperoned dates (gasp)!

Corsets were thrown into the back of the closets, and shoes were discovered to be an addictive fashion accessory after hemlines started to rise. And thanks to Prohibition, suddenly it was fashionable to break the law.

The music was made in America– ragtime, delta blues, and of course jazz. Cocktails were created to hide the taste of the bathtub gin. Flappers were dancing, beads and fringes flying. Fedoras were tipped. And everyone was riding around in automobiles (aka struggle buggies and I leave it to your imagination why– wink.)

Bootleggers’ Chronicles grew out of that fascination. Writing as Sherilyn Decter, I will eventually have a series of historical crime fiction novels dealing with the bootleggers, gangsters, flappers, and general lawlessness that defined Prohibition. The Bootlegger blog rose out of all the research that I’ve been doing about this incredible era.

Growing up on the prairies and living next to the ocean, I am a creature of endless horizons. Writing allows me to discover what’s just over the next one. My husband and I have three amazing daughters, a spoiled grandson, and two bad dogs.

Sherilyn Decter is enthralled with the flashing flappers and dangerous bootleggers from the Roaring Twenties and Prohibition. Through meticulous research, that lawless era is brought to life. Living in a century-old house, maybe the creaking pipes whisper stories in her ear.

If you want to learn more about the  Bootlegger’s Chronicles, you can reach Sherilyn at the following links:


My Review:  My usual read is full of action–this one is full of depth of understanding the web people are caught in.  At first, the story unfolded slowly, albeit interestingly.  It gave me a chance to absorb the climate of the Prohibition days — the corruption which spread rampant throughout the community, from top officials to the guy doing the dirty work.

Since I love the supernatural, author Decter’s touch of the ghostly Frank adds a lot to the story — not only his apparent need to resolve an issue for which he can’t pass over to the other side, but his unfailingly wise counsel to the only person he’s found who sees him–Maggie Barnes.  Frank is helping to clean up the city.  He has nothing to lose for apparently he’s lost everything.  (grins)

Maggie wants the same, for she lost her husband to the corruption of the city. She is on a precipice of financial ruin.  She’s a single parent, a strong, intelligent woman, playing with fish bigger than she.  Can she manage to care for herself, her son and his education, with her sole means of support through the boarding house and her small earnings?  Her alternative is to swim with the fish in the pool of corruption.  Which is it to be?

I could see the research necessary to make this story authentic.  It drew my attention by that simple fact.  Decter wove the events of the story (Maggie’s determination to try to catch the bad guys) with the prevailing culture of its human tragedy, perfectly seamlessly.  I learned so much. Her flawed characters created a rich texture of emotion.

I commiserated with Maggie’s plight. I commiserated with Edith, Mike Duffy’s wife. The author made me feel compassion for women during that time.   Maggie wants to be loved for herself and be cared for by a man who values her for her talents. Edith is caught in the spokes of a man’s world of corruption and loose morals.

Temptation is looming. Can Maggie resist the temptation of swimming with the fish, lose her integrity and self-respect? Can Edith resist the lure of a man who promises her love?

Colonel Butler is an interesting man.  He tries to do it all — fight corruption from the bootleggers and fight corruption from the politicians and racketeers. He has learned a lesson extremely valuable for humankind to learn.  I don’t want to say what it is, but, it is powerful! Frankly, I bow at his feet for this realization.

Mickey Duffy, Edith’s husband, is also an interesting character who isn’t all he seems.  He has far more depth than it appears.

Under all the corruption, these people are real. They booze and blow to escape demons they live with.

I picked up on a theme, strong and clear.  As long as the arm which controls corruption does not keep you from your own illegal pursuits, your indignation for the wrongdoers holds true.  When it touches you, those of power and influence, it can not be tolerated.

If this is a time period you enjoy, you most definitely should read the book. If you love books with strong messages, this again will touch you.



In 1926, there are 16,000 speakeasies for the two million residents of Philadelphia. Crime, thanks to tommy guns and faster cars, is exploding—literally. Citizens are beginning to panic because of the violence, and politicians are using their bully pulpits to get ‘tough on crime’. The tip of the spear of these efforts are the city’s finest, the police. 

 Detective Tony Giordano is one of the few Italians in Philadelphia’s police force. Tall and dashing, with a killer smile, he comes from a long line of Giordano men who offer protection. Unlike his family who are members of the Honored Society known as the Cosa Nostra, he had decided, at a young age, to go in a different direction than Pops and Nonno. He wanted to see what life looked like from the other side of the street. 

  Ah yes, the other side of the street—which, it turned out, was not so good. As a cop, the money in his wallet was a pittance of his gangster brother’s thick wad. Certainly not enough to afford the car and clothes that make the man. So, he planted one foot on each side of the proverbial street, taking the policeman’s motto to serve and protect to an entrepreneurial level his family would be proud of.  

 In the grand tradition of Philadelphia’s finest, he’s a cop on the take.

 Captain Copeland stops by Tony Giordano’s desk. It’s neat and well-ordered, much like Tony himself. He looks at his captain; only a flicker betrays his distaste at Copeland’s slovenly appearance. Taking advantage of the recent directive allowing police detectives to wear street clothes, Tony is dressed in a brown windowpane-checked three-piece suit, the pant leg creases sharp enough to slice bread. His silk tie is a glorious purple, and there’s a crisp black fedora perched on the back of his head. He’d rather die than wear the soiled uniform his captain wears, complete with food stains and missing buttons. 

 “Giordano, its Wednesday. Aren’t you supposed to be working the street? My pockets are feeling a bit light. Maybe see about fillin’ ‘em? Swing by and pick up Gus and Fingers and see what you can do about it.” 

 “Sure, Cap. I was thinking that it was getting around that time of the week myself.”



Author Sherilyn Decter is giving away an autographed paperback copy of TASTING THE APPLE and INNOCENCE LOST. Click on the Rafflecopter widget below and follow the instruction to enter. If you can’t see the widget, just click HERE.


Thanks for stopping by. Care to comment about what you think of when you hear the word Prohibition?  Perhaps depending upon your age, we’ll have an interesting array of answers.

a Rafflecopter giveaway



Posted in Book Giveaway, Book Reviews, Historical Fiction, New Book Release, New Book Release Tour, Uncategorized | Tagged , | 7 Comments

Interview with Author Mary Morgan: Her approach in developing characters

E: Today, we have Mary Morgan joining us.  Welcome, Mary! 

I am captivated with your characters – from reading the Order of the Dragon Knight’s series to the Legend of the Fenian Warriors series.  You can’t imagine my devastation when you finished the first series.  You made the characters so real.  It was as if I had lost a lot of friends!  So when you brought them back, weaving them into the Legends of the Fenian Warriors, I just sat with my Cheshire cat grin.

Before we get into the interview I want to share the link to purchase the complete series with your readers.  I saw the bundle on at a great price.

complete set

Welcome to a world of medieval romances, which will sweep you across time to the Highlands of Scotland and the shores of Ireland. Where warriors will fight for redemption and for the women they love. This is the world of the Dragon Knights of Scotland!

Dragon Knight’s Sword
Duncan MacKay encounters the woman from his dreams, literally. She is from the future, somehow has his lost sword, and can talk to the Dragon who is able to lift his family’s curse.
When an ancient sword lands at Brigid O’Neill’s doorstep, she starts dreaming of a rugged Highlander. Her quest to return the sword will alter everything she believes.

Dragon Knight’s Medallion
Stephen MacKay is plagued with visions that threaten to destroy his soul. When Aileen Kerrigan falls through a time tunnel, he vows to keep the beautiful, half-blooded fae safe.
Aileen, armed with the medallion her mother gave her, and a matching one belonging to a long dead knight, is thrown into the past. When she encounters a handsome but surly warrior who is on a quest, she fears her future could be entwined with his.

Dragon Knight’s Axe
When Alastair MacKay rescues a woman from a slave trader, he steps back into a world filled with magic–taking on the role of protector and leading him on a journey to confront his greatest regret and fears.
Research assistant, Fiona O’Quinlan loves translating ancient artifacts at Trinity College. When she falls asleep on an archeological dig, she awakens in another time. Yet, she is unprepared for the danger ahead–losing her heart and soul to Alastair “Beast” MacKay.

Dragon Knight’s Shield
Angus MacKay is back on Scottish soil and encounters a woman who can wield a sword as mightily as his warriors, and takes her captive. With each passing day, the fire dragon inside him roars to claim the one woman fate has destined for him.
Famed mystery writer, Deirdre Flanagan, is on a vacation to Scotland, when she steps through the mists and enters into a skirmish alongside a Highlander. However, the fight has only begun, and now she must battle Angus as well as evil in order to claim the love of this Dragon Knight.

Dragon Knight’s Ring
Crusader, Adam MacFhearguis is on one last quest to the standing stones in Scotland where he seeks to bury the past. However, a silent prayer sends him to an unknown future and to his beloved Meggie.

Margaret MacKay lives a life in the future without the memories of her past. With each passing day, she yearns to learn more from the stranger in her time.
Will love free the bonds to unite the two lovers who were doomed centuries ago? Or will evil finally claim victory over the Dragon Knights?

E:  Now for the interview questions.

You have just received a call from your publicist.  They have asked you to write a trilogy, carte blanche, no limitations except appropriate guidelines for a full-length novel in the genre of your choice. First reaction?

M:  My first reaction was a full jump into the air. This actually happened with my second series, Legends of the Fenian Warriors. Yet, it was a phone call from my editor. She then convinced me to do four stories, instead of the trilogy. The fourth book will be released late spring/early summer, Destiny of a Warrior.

E:  I want you to be a bit analytical here.  What starts rolling around in that head of yours?  That is, what sparks ignite the idea of a story?  Please elaborate – no simple answers here.

M:  I’m always drifting in and out of a story, Eileen. I’m a constant daydreamer.

The original spark of all my stories begins with history—from reading non-fiction books and watching historical documentaries. I’ve always had a fascination for the past. It first started with the book, Hawaii, by James Michener. His detailed account into the beginnings of the Hawaiian Islands was fascinating and held me spellbound during my seventeenth summer.

Second spark is my deep appreciation and love for Celtic and Norse mythology. I’ve read the legends for years, imagining different scenarios. In my humble opinion, I believe all myths are based on some facts. In addition, history is only as good as the bard telling the tale.

Third spark comes from my love of traveling to Scotland, Ireland, Wales, and England. The magic and beauty of the land inspired me. For example, on my first trip to Scotland, I was sitting on a boulder in the highlands at dusk, surrounded by the bleating of sheep and the mists. My first series, Order of the Dragon Knights, came to life within my mind that summer evening.

E:  Do you use parts of dreams you have had, experiences with ‘nasty’ bosses (real people), your unconscious, personal emotional feelings such as jealousy, fear and love to write realistic characters?

M:  Characters always appear to me in my dreams, especially if I’m leading them down a storyline they do not approve. Often times, a glimmer of another plot will take shape within the dream. I’ve been known to alter an ending based on a powerful dream, and it worked out beautifully.

As far as personal experiences weaving their way into my stories? Most definitely! I draw from emotions, but allow for the characters’ personality to take over. I don’t want to inject my reactions, but the characters’ emotions. You could say that my feelings are a template for the character. If I find the emotion is fitting to me and not the character, it’s time for a rewrite.

E:  Do you follow a plan how to develop characters?

M:  There’s always a plan in the beginning. I start with the basics—height, hair and eye color, background, temperament and flaws. Though on the last, they may not emerge until later on in the story. Some characters are multi-layered and refuse to share much about them.

E:  Once you think about a character, is there a thread you use to flesh them out?

M:  No, Eileen. I tend to let them reveal the information to me. I only had one problem with a character. She refused to emerge from her shell, kept talking to herself, and didn’t like to interact with anyone. One day, I left my laptop and walked away. As a writer, I was frustrated. After a sit down conversation with this character (yes, this actually happened. Remember, I daydream a lot), I came to the conclusion that she was an introvert and extremely shy. There was a pivotal event in her life that caused her to become withdrawn. Afterward, the story exploded, along with the heroine’s voice.

Who was she? Fiona O’Quinlan from Dragon Knight’s Axe, Order of the Dragon Knight’s, Book 3. 

E:  Which takes me to my next question, how restraining are you, when a character begins to tell their story?  Do you let her talk?  See what she has to say? Do you have to reel her in when she takes you ‘plan’ in another direction? Do you discover the character as she/he is revealing themselves or create them as you want them?

M:  I cannot restrain my characters. I can try, but it never works out well. I might be controlling in my reality, but my fictional world is one where the characters can have free rein. If I want to steer them in another direction, I’ll add another plot or scene to the story.

Most of my characters reveal themselves in stages throughout the story. I begin with my own template and they emerge with their own. Usually after several chapters, I can get a good feel for the character. There was only one that chose not to reveal everything about his life to me. He did it in layers. And I’m talking several books—a total of four. It was Aidan Kerrigan who first appeared in Dragon Knight’s Medallion, Order of the Dragon Knights, Book 2. I never knew he was a Fenian Fae Warrior until he stepped through the airport to greet his daughter, Aileen. It was definitely a shock, but he continued to surprise me even more through-out both series.

E:  How do you figure out what your characters look like?  Is it important to know where they live, when they live, what educational level they have? If so, at what point in the novel development does this become important?

M:  I begin with a template of gathering as much physical qualities about them as possible, including where they live and any educational background. It’s important for me to visually see them in my mind. If I can’t, then I’m unable to begin the story. This is all part of my process of being a plotter, but only in the beginning of the story.

E:  How do you balance story-structure, theme and character building?  Are they so interwoven a writer looks at them all at once?

M:  With each new story, I start with a leather journal. As you know, most of my books are in a different time-period. A leather journal helps me to get a sense of the old world. I begin with the basic outline of the story and theme. From there, the main characters emerge. It’s a layered, balanced building process. By the time I’m finished, my fingers are eager to start at the keyboard.

E:  Do you develop one character at a time?  That is, you know what type of character you have as your main protagonist and develop the others to build conflict and arc tension?

M:  Yes. I always start with the main protagonist—or two. There have been two stories where both characters emerged forth seeking development. From there, others weave their way into the story, adding suspense, comedy, or tension.

E:  In your process, does the backstory and character conflict support the story, or do you create the story to support the backstory and character conflicts?

M:  Interesting question, Eileen. I believe with both my series, Order of the Dragon Knights and Legends of the Fenian Warriors, I created a story to support the original backstory and character conflicts. Yet, with my Highland Holiday Romances, the reverse is true: the backstory and character conflict supported the story.

E:  Please use one of the series you’ve already written. Where do you get your inspiration for characters?

M:  I’ve based my own fictional account of the Legends of the Fenian Warriors on the mythology of the Tuatha Dé Danann—one of the invasions of Ireland. They were known as the Shining Ones or the Fae.

The Tuatha Dé Danann was defeated in two battles by the Milesians, whom historians and scholars alike agree were probably the first Gaels in Ireland. It was agreed that the new invaders (Milesians) and the Tuatha Dé Danann would each rule half of Ireland. Therefore, it was that Amergin of the Milesians chose that half of Ireland which lay above ground, leaving the Tuatha Dé Danann to retreat below. They were led underground by Manannán mac Lir, God of the Sea, who shielded them with an enchanted mist from mortal eyes. As time passed, they became known as the Sidhe (Shee), or Ireland’s faery folk.

With my warriors, there is nothing diminutive with these heroes. They’re ancient, extremely tall, and commanding.

E: When do you do a detailed character workup in the process of writing a story?  Or do you?

M:  I do a detailed character sheet at the beginning of each story. It’s the first item on my agenda, along with finding names for the main characters.

E:  At what point does your fictional worldbuilding begin?  Is it much like how you build your characters?

M:  I begin with a template of the world, especially my Fae realm from Legends of the Fenian Warriors. I took months envisioning this mystical land. With each new story, a new layer or element was added. Their world was vast and lush, so I included a Glossary of the Fae Realm in each of my books.

For the Order of the Dragon Knights, I built my world on my travels to Scotland. I drew from my visual sensations of traveling across the land and studying the history of the country.

Thank you, Eileen, for allowing me to share my writing process with you!

E:  Thank you, Mary. Your answers are insightful. 

Now for those of you who are reading the Legends of the Fenian Warriors, Mary will pop by in April to share the cover and hopefully an excerpt of the fourth book of this series.  I eagerly await her next series! 

Purchase Links embedded in covers.

Quest of a Warrior (Legends of the Fenian Warriors, #1)Oath of a Warrior (Legends of the Fenian Warriors, # 2)Trial of a Warrior (Legends of the Fenian Warriors, Book #3)


Author BioMary Morgan photo

Award-winning Celtic paranormal and fantasy romance author, Mary Morgan, resides in Northern California, with her own knight in shining armor. However, during her travels to Scotland, England, and Ireland, she left a part of her soul in one of these countries and vows to return.
Mary’s passion for books started at an early age along with an overactive imagination. Inspired by her love for history and ancient Celtic mythology, her tales are filled with powerful warriors, brave women, magic, and romance. It wasn’t until the closure of Borders Books where Mary worked that she found her true calling by writing romance. Now, the worlds she created in her mind are coming to life within her stories.

If you enjoy history, tortured heroes, and a wee bit of magic, then time-travel within the pages of her books.

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