Visual Shortcuts that Cut

Yvonne Montgomery:

I like this blog post from Elle Hill. It’s a useful nudge to my imagination to put more character actors in starring roles. Thanks, Elle.

Originally posted on :

As both a writer and a reader, I’m always trying to figure out why authors do some of the things we do: End scenes in particular ways, juxtapose dialogue and description, harness the rhythm of words to craft verbal songs…

Use visual shortcuts as symbols for the characters’, well, character.shortcut

Maybe it’s due to my rather colorful political sensibilities, or maybe because my dissertation focused on, in part, lookism, but I’m especially sensitive to the symbolism contained in the physical descriptions of literary characters. As I’ve written about before, I’m pretty devoted to making sure I representunder-represented physicalities, and I particularly delight in subverting traditional physical tropes. Given all this, I find it so disappointing when I read books that reinforce all the old, tired symbolism surrounding characters’ physical presentations.

You know what’s super fun and reflects a lot more creativity than relying on the usual physical…

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Blog Hop!


Thanks to the wonderful C.R. Richards at I am participating in the fun and fanciful Blog Hop. Many authors on the internet have lined up to comment upon their writing processes because many inquiring readers/writers want to know. So here goes: The Four Questions.

What are you working on?

I am currently writing the Wisdom Court Book Three, All In Bad Time, due out in the Spring of 2015. Wisdom Court is a renowned institute set in Boulder, and the women invited there get a fully supported year to work on any project they choose. The first two books have just come out online and in print on demand formats. Edge of the Shadow, Book One, introduces forensic artist Andrea Bellamy, who yearns to be a painter. When she starts sketching and trance-painting a man she’s never met nor seen, she must struggle to determine the source of her terrifying predicament. A Signal Shown, Book Two, has filmmaker Brenna Payne facing her worst fears in the nightmares that torture her each night. both are available at and B & N

Nook. See my pretty covers:97816141764599781614176473

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Paranormal thrillers allow a lot of possible avenues, from vampires and werewolves to ghosts and monsters. Since I’ve always crossed genres, I like my characters to contend with everyday life while they’re encountering never-dreamed-of dangers from otherworldly sources.

Why do I write what I do?

I want to tell myself the stories I can’t find on book shelves. Since I write by the seat of my pants, I’m always wondering what happens next as I type the details. I enjoy having the mundane come up against the possibilities of the supernatural. I watched The Twilight Zone as a kid and have never fully recovered from that.

How does my writing process work?

I start with an idea or an image that captures my fancy and I play with it until I can see how to use it as a pivotal point for the plot. Then I imagine what kind of character would be tormented and ultimately changed by encountering that plot point. I start writing and the elements of the story surface from my subconscious as I get further along. I know I’ve hit gold when I begin dreaming about the book. Then I alternate among slogging–just getting words onto the page, then editing and fighting off the terror that I’m going to write myself into a corner.

Who’s Up Next?

Denver author Doug Hawk has been writing horror novels since the mid-’80s and has no desire to stop. His books can keep you looking over your shoulder in terror for a good long while. Two of his ebooks now available at are Mark of the Black Claw and Moonslasher.

Doug’s blog is at


Karen Duvall lives in Bend, Oregon, and writes wonderful fantasy novels. She is the author of Knight’s Curse and Darkest Knight, as well as Desert Guardian, a compelling story of a sister’s efforts to save her brother from a cult. When she’s not writing she freelances as a graphic designer. Karen’s blog is at



Writers, writers…


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…will be gathered starting tomorrow at the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers annual Colorado Gold conference. They’ll come from all over the country to meet, greet, and share information about the maddening, wonderful profession of putting words together to express ideas, create characters, connect with the world. And I’ll be one of them.

Those of you scribblers who have never attended a writing conference might well consider doing so. I hid myself in my garret for years, swearing I’d not show any of  my writing to anyone until I made a sale. I learned how much I’d missed when I attended a Bouchercon mystery convention and discovered my tribe. I’d always thought I had several screws loose, and then I met other writers. We could hardly hear each other speak for the sound of all those rattling fasteners clanking in the room. I met authors who shared what they’d learned and were more than generous to unknowns like me.

The members of Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers continue in that tradition. I look forward to each September when I know I’ll be spending time with people who are as passionate as I am about getting those words on the page. We’ll share rueful stories about how hard writing is, and how crazy the publishing business is, and how much we still love what we do.

This year’s conference has sold out, which is a testament to its informative panels and opportunities to talk with editors, agents, and other writers. Start thinking about attending next year’s conference. ( Regardless of where you are in the many stages of becoming a writer, you’ll be investing in a glorious celebration of the joy and the pain of writing.

I can’t wait for tomorrow.


P.S. Edge of the Shadow, Wisdom Court Book One and  A Signal Shown, Wisdom Court Book Two are available in paperback form at Amazon: and

And as paperbacks at B & N: Book One, and Book Two,

The links for the ebooks are in the previous post.

Here are the latest fruits of my labor



9781614176459                        9781614176473

Edge of the Shadow, Wisdom Court Book One and A Signal Shown, Wisdom Court Book Two, are available in ebook form at

B&N Nook  has paperback editions of both: for Edge of the Shadow, and for A Signal Shown. The Nook ebook editions of both are available, for Book One, for Book Two.

The rollout will continue over the next few weeks, and will include Kobo, iBooks, and others.

I’ve been working on publicizing the books, promoting wherever I can think to do so. There’s always a lot of work generated when books are launched. And, I’m writing Wisdom Court Book Three, All in Bad Time, which will be launched in the spring of 2015.

I’m thrilled and happy that the characters of Wisdom Court, who have populated my brain for a long time, are now free to mingle with readers. I hope you enjoy them as much as I have and continue to do.

Happy Labor Day!

June, I love your tune, but…



Caitlin Kessner,  face paint artist

In looking through the thicket dividing this week from next, I see the 4th of July waiting with a smirk on its face. Already.

When we get to the 4th, time slips into high gear and we zoom like helpless pilgrims in a roller coaster right toward August. And August is almost fall, and the whole damned summer is over. No.

As I’ve been threatening since sometime last year, I have finished A Signal Shown, Book Two of the Wisdom Court novels, and Book One, Edge of the Shadow, as well as Book Two will be epublished as soon as the eformatting is finished and the covers are created. So there. It took longer than I thought it would, but life got in the way, as life so often does, and what’re you going to do–stiff life? No.

So slow the hell down, June! I’m writing sales copy and blurbs for both WC One and Two, while, in the shadows, Book Three looms and lurks on alternating days. It’s very distracting and scary to boot. I’m also supposed to come up with some artful posts here and there to tweak the interest of potential readers, write reviews so others will reciprocate, and get the house clean before the health department shuts us down. Did I mention the garden? Oh, never mind. I must have time to deal with everything, and the only way that’s remotely possible is if July simply crawls by. That’ll happen, right?










Did I mention I got to write “The End?”


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Although, as we know, we never really reach the end. And so I’m zipping through the manuscript of A Signal Shown, Book Two of the Wisdom Court series, adding a bit here and there so I can get it off to my beta readers. As I finished on page 301, I let out a deep breath and thought about heading to the refrigerator for the bottle of champagne I put there several days ago. I never pass up a chance to click champagne glasses because they’re not always frequent, those celebratory writing moments.

As soon as I have feedback from the readers I’ll make one more pass through the prose and then submit the book for eformatting at ePublishingWorks!. They’ve done such good work with my two mysteries Scavenger Hunt and Obstacle Course. As soon as the new book is ready, the first Wisdom Court book, Edge of the Shadow, along with A Signal Shown, will be epublished. And how will I greet that frabjous day? By telling the world about my wonderful books and–oh yeah–by plugging away on the third Wisdom Court book, All in Bad Time. You have to be true to the story arc.

So, my friends, here’s a sample from Wisdom Court Book One, my first metaphysical thriller, Edge of the Shadow:

“Mistletoe to break the lock.” The woman seated at the small table sprinkled leaves into the shallow bowl next to the candle illuminating the room.

The windows at her back were closed and curtained but the flame fluttered, deepening the red of her upswept hair and gleaming along the silver threads in her robe. Her gaze darted toward the gloom in the corners as she reached into another bag.

“I call upon the spirits.” Spiky thistle leaves fell to the pottery surface. Groping inside a leather pouch she pulled out dry needles. They dropped from her hand as she whispered, “Yew to raise the dead.”

A gauzy sack yielded graying fronds. “Balm of Gilead, manifest the one I seek.”

After a glance down at the ancient book open across her lap she murmured, “Protection born of amaranth. And borage for courage,” she added under her breath, releasing the last bits into the container.

Shadows stirred along the wall as she twisted the candle from the saucer and held it to the herbal mixture, taking care to push her flowing sleeve away from the dish. Pungent smoke drifted upward as she replaced the taper.

A breath of air touched her and she turned, half-glimpsing motion but unable to find its source. Again the flame wobbled, and behind her the curtain billowed upward. The border of the coarsely woven material brushed the wick as it fell back into place.

A tiny spark gnawed along the threads until it burned.

And that’s The End for today. Cheers!


10 Dialogue Tips To Make Your Novel Shine

Yvonne Montgomery:

I’ve been working on making my characters’ dialogue more distinctive and honing their actions to make them more in the scene.
Here’s some wonderful advice for spiffing up dialogue from Shannon Donnelly on the Writers in the Storm blog. Great stuff.

Originally posted on Writers In The Storm Blog:

Dialogue_Photopin By Shannon Donnelly

Great dialogue can make or break a novel.

This view may stem from growing up watching a lot of 1930’s screwball comedies. Zingers fly with rapid fire and everyone talks. A lot. But the importance of dialogue really sank in when I wrote A Proper Mistress. I went for a lot of dialogue in that book and it went on to be one of my best selling romances.

We all know great dialogue when we read it—and the best dialogue seems effortless. But good dialogue takes work, sometimes needing multiple edits and thinking it over and totally revising a scene. It also takes a few key ingredients.

1) Give Your Characters Unique Voices.

Can you tell who is talking without any tags to make this obvious?

You have to get your characters talking in order to find their voices. And each character needs a distinct voice.


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