Breaking Away from the Rules

Sedona and other 207

Sedona, AZ–Pat Morin

Like in nature, rules are constantly broken. You can have rain, and sun, and clouds, and thunder storms, all at one time.

I, as the novice writer, don’t even know all the rules I’ve broken. But I have read many books on the art of writing, and have learned we need rules to free us from the onslaught of those unending waterfall of images and thoughts, and runaway mental scenes that go on and on, and then split into other scenes until the first scene is forgotten. Sometimes I say to myself: Put a period on that run-on thought, will ya?

I can do that more easily than I do in my everyday life. The escape of writing and being in that made-up world with its many rules is more freeing than having to deal with the stresses of everyday life. I cherish being in that rule-filled world.

It’s okay to break the rules of my dieting (more than breaking the rules of my writing), sometimes I break the rule of calling a family member, like should I every-single-day. Sometimes I break the rule of not giving the ultimate review about a fellow author (because I have to run my dog to the vet), and I haven’t read all the books I should for fellow writer (because I have all those test I have to take at Kaiser, my insurance co.).

I have to break the pattern of breaking the rules so I can get on track for, at least, a little while. It’s my mid-year-goal rule. Try to get the imagined-world rules at least a bit closer to the real-world rules.

Pep Talks: We All Need Them

Every writer needs a good pep talk from time to time. Writing as a business tends to be rife with negative feedback, whether it’s a string of rejection letters from literary agents or a bad review from an unhappy reader. Since sitting at a computer all day is such a solitary activity, it’s easy to let all that negativity pull you into the dark corner where all your insecurities lie, that place where you convince yourself that you don’t even have enough talent to write a proper grocery list. That’s why those pep talks are so crucial. Staci McLaughlin

Another writer, Priscilla Royal wrote: Most writers are fragile sorts. Some may come across as arrogant, others painfully shy, and many in between. But when it comes to that public reception of that beloved creature which has burst forth from our fevered brain, we all very nervous. That is when pep talks are needed. I thought a lot about these two statements this week and changed their words a bit to include all of us, writers, readers, humans, non-humans, the whole lot of what inhabits the earth.

I would change Staci’s wise words to: Every person, no matter who they are, needs a good pep talk from time to time. Life is rife with negative feedback, whether it’s a string of complaints from loved ones, or an unhappy co-worker or worse, a boss. It’s easy to let the negative pull you into a dark corner where all your insecurities lie (and every nook and cranny where light never shines), that place where you convince yourself (and have for many years believed) that you can’t even get it together to write a proper grocery list. That’s when, as Staci reminds us, you need a pep talk.

I would change Priscilla’s wise words to: Most humans are fragile sorts. Some of us may come across as arrogant, others painfully shy, and many in between. But when it come to that public reception of any work or words that have burst forth from our fevered brains, that is when many of us are bundles of nerves … some about to unravel. That’s when we need the pep talks.

Where do the pep talks come from? Mainly, ourselves. Ann Parker posted a video showing a five-year-old girl talking into a mirror, cheering herself on, reminding herself of all that she had going for her, including her house, her PJ’s, and sister. Heartwarming. Reaffirming. Reminding us to be our own cheerleaders and to move on toward our desires, over mounds of self-doubt, by remembering the little things that made us feel worthwhile, and important.

The Best April Fool’s Day

I looked up the history of April Fool’s Day, and decided to share a shortened version for you:

The history of April Fool’s Day or All Fool’s Day is uncertain, but the current thinking is that it began around 1582 in France with the reform of the calendar under Charles IX. The Gregorian Calendar was introduced, and New Year’s Day was moved from March 25 – April 1 (new year’s week) to January 1. Communication traveled slowly in those days and some people were only informed of the change several years later. Still others, who were more rebellious refused to acknowledge the change and continued to celebrate on the last day of the former celebration, April 1. These people were labeled “fools” by the general populace, were subject to ridicule and sent on “fool errands,” sent invitations to nonexistent parties and had other practical jokes played upon them. The butts of these pranks became known as a “poisson d’avril” or “April fish” because a young naive fish is easily caught.

My husband is a prankster. He has a fun-loving nature and a soft heart. Twenty-three years ago, on April 1, he Sedona 037took me out to dinner at the Turning Point Restaurant in Piermont, NY. During dinner he asked me to marry him, smack dab in the middle of me chewing food, in a tone that I liken to discussing the weather. Now, the back story is that he had asked me before and I had said no. (He had asked four months after we dated, and we Capricorns are slow, cautious spirits that don’t move that quickly.) I nodded yes before I had swallowed my food, eyes widened. How utterly romantic. ;) . Then he added, Larry being Larry. “If you said no, I was just going to say: April Fools-ha-ha.” He had it planned, ring and all.

POV–Philosophical Meandering

Harvey Robinson (“The Historical Point of View”) wrote: “It is clear that all our information in regard to past events and conditions must be derived from evidence of some kind. This evidence is called the source. Sometimes there are a number of good and reliable sources for an event … Sometimes there is but a single, unreliable source.” He continues to explain that we not only lose a sense of reliability of the event, but what do we truly learn from just one source?

Sarah Cooper, a history teacher wrote “Making History Mine …Personal Primary Sources.”

Sarah Copper had her class define primary source as point of view. The students, middle grade, knew that a primary source was something written by someone who was at the event, (single point of view) or an eyewitness. Sarah brought in a jade lion and asked the class to tell her about the person who owned this jade lion and the society around it. The answers varied as can be expected: “A lion trainer owned the real lions, a zookeeper, and a tourist bought the lion.” Three different perspectives.

This got me thinking: Philosophically speaking: Do we as writers deny the reader a deeper essence of knowledge (of a character, or scene, a lion statue) of the story by limiting the story to single POV? Doesn’t the multiple POV give the reader more perceptions into the story, therefore touching more of the readers’ own beliefs—helping them see a richer and different perspective by showing them multiple views on one subject?Of course it does, some readers might say. Some writer’s might respond that delving into the single person, from that specific point of view, gives the writing the intense depth and passion enriching the character and the story. However, I’m thinking more from the angle of what does the writer owe the reader. Some authors say that writing from the first person is easier and they still deliver a wonderful story–the true goal of writing. I guess this just boils down to individual preferences and an internal guideline of author’s ethics.

The Next Big Thing

What a fun way to introduce a work in progress! Thanks to Camille Minichino, “The Next Big Thing” chain blog continues . After I share more about my new work (with pictures, of course), I’ll introduce you to other artist and interesting people, more links in the creative chain.

What is the working title of your book?

Seniors Unlimited

Where did the idea come from for this book?

Like most things in life, the idea for this book was a process of little thoughts that kept adding up till they culminated in one creative idea. My husband, Larry, and I were sitting in the Hudson House restaurant in Nyack, NY, where we lived for many years.

Dining Room Picture from website.

We were with an older friend of ours (80), talking about how active many older senior citizens were these days. She was still the president of an agency, Children’s Aid Program for Africa (CAPA), and volunteered for American Association of University Women. Then we discussed how seniors were working longer and harder than ever before. We even explored all the odd type of jobs senior could do. From there (you know how this goes), other conversations and life’s demands took over. But my subconscious wouldn’t let it go. The story idea kept popping up, with characters forming identities and working in an agency called Seniors Unlimited. Bet that happens for most of you … your subconscious working on a story or problem while your conscious mind works on daily chores.

What genre does your book fall under?

My book falls into the cozy crime category. It’s similar to the cozy mystery, but without the murder (attempted murder, kidnapping, thievery, and all sorts of mayhem). Go to for some of the main ingredients of this genre.

How long did it take to write the first draft?

one year.

What actors would play in the movie rendition of your book?

Kirstie Alley would play Ronnie, the head of the agency. Add a few wrinkles.

Judi Dench would play Annie, Ronnie’s best friend and the agency’s accountant. Add black, round eyeglass frames.

Danny Glover would play Vincent, retired psychologist and head of human resources. Add wire, rectangle glasses.

Colin Firth as Sam, Ronnie’s British boyfriend. Just add some gray to the hair, and maybe a few frown lines.

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

Seniors Unlimited concerns a San Francisco-based temporary agency for mainly 55-and-older employees, and the unusual jobs they find that often question prejudice toward old and young alike.

Will it be self published or represented by an agency?

As soon as I finish polishing the final draft, I’ll send it out to agents for representation.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

The underlining psychological theme of Seniors Unlimited is dealing with prejudice and deception, especially as they apply to seniors 55 and over, but also for all ages. I’ve caught myself making comments about the younger generation, the Facebook and Google types who, in my opinion, can seem more connected to computers than to people. I caught myself thinking it was an echo of my parents saying, “Kids today …”

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Several books about seniors (like Rita Lakin’s Gladdy Gold series and Jean Henry Mead’s Logan and Cafferty series) take place in retirement villages, and not a business run by seniors mainly for seniors. Also, Seniors Unlimited is a crime novel. There is no murder. I’m still looking for similar books. If you happen to know of any, feel free to let me know.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Besides the type of agency jobs, the book explores aspects of Buddhism, autism, civil rights, and addictions.

Other artists:

Camille Minichino is an author of two series (simultaneously), teacher, mystery book club leader, blogger, and a great support to new writers. Visit her blog at

Nicola Trwst is an author that has written short stories, several novels, and has graced several genres including mystery, romance, and paranormal. Meet her, her work, and of few of her blog friends at:

Adell Donaghue is an artist. Art takes on many forms and hers includes design work, teaching art, and painting, especially as a Plein Air artist (En plein air is a French expression which means “in the open air“, and is particularly used to describe the act of painting outdoors). Visit her at

Patricia V. Davies is a writer, women’s advocate, radio show host, director of a conference, great cook, and friend. She has more talents than I can list. Check out her blog:


Hello, and welcome to my blog. I was hesitant to make the first wobbly steps into this realm of communication, but thanks to Camille Minichino (, a multifaceted individual and author (aka Margaret Grace and Ada Madison), I’m here. I’ll be answering questions for the continuing blog chain titled: The Next Big Thing, then forwarding to you five blogs of other authors. It sounds like great fun, and a more exciting way of introducing new works. I’m thrilled to be asked to be part of it.

But before I dive into the interview for my first cozy crime novel (I have two short story collections, Mystery Montage and Crime Montage) I’d like to share with you more about me, starting with my home city, San Francisco, and the exciting week we had. Not only was it Fleet Week, an event that included the Blue Angels, (All the photos on the blog are mine — I love to take pictures with my Sony Alpha and old SLR XG9 Minolta),

but last year, the Maltese Falcon visited San Francisco– a nice little surprise for us mystery buffs. The masts automatically shift with the changing winds.

You, too, could own this for 120 million!
Besides slipping pictures into most of my posts about different local events (and some on momentary lapses of perception about nature and life), I hope to be sharing more about the psychology of characters, in and out of books, asking your opinions about the breadth and depth of the characters in your life, and adding some thoughts on literature and writing. Your comments are always welcome.
To learn more about me (my short story awards including the Anthony and Derringer finalist, “Homeless”, and my Marin Fringe winning play, The Gatekeeper), and read a few of my works, go to
AND … be the first to name this city in Europe and win my latest short story collection, Crime Montage.

Where is this?