Interview with Poet Marilyn Slade

FrontCover of Written Across the GenresHIPoet Marilyn Slade has two poems published in my anthology, Written Across the Genres. “Traveling to Nowhere” is based on a serious theme whereas in “Waiting Room Connect” readers can enjoy her humor.

Here is the bio she gave me. Marilyn Slade has been described as an immature senior citizen which accounts for her love of humor. She writes Haiku, poetry, short stories, and unfinished novels. She taught a class on a cruise ship to Mexico but it was mistaken for a class in martial arts.

Interview with Poet Marilyn Slade:

Julaina: How did you get the ideas for your poems?

Marilyn: A quirky mind helps when deciding what to write. You can’t control where your mind or imagination will take you.

Julaina: What is a writing day like for you?

Marilyn: Usually feeling the pressure to deliver. I write mostly in evenings when I have open time.

Julaina: What do you enjoy about writing?

Marilyn: Losing myself and all my pains and troubles while I enjoy my fun characters.

Julaina: What is the difficult part of writing?

Marilyn: To set aside distractions or limit the time spent on them so I can finish my memoir, two novels, short stories, and a book of poems.

Julaina: You have several projects going on. Do you have a tip for aspiring writers?

Marilyn: Don’t let yourself get waylaid.

Julaina: Is there anything else you’d like to share?

Marilyn: I hope readers will laugh and enjoy my writing and that it will spark in them the impulse to write their own stories or poems.

Julaina:  Thanks, Marilyn. You know I’m a big fan of yours.

The Rhetorical Term Oxymoron

oxymoronOxymoron is a figure of speech in which seemingly contradictory terms appear side by side.

Often we read them as normal unless we think about the incongruity. Some examples I’ve heard and read several times in the past are deafening silence, dull roar, and crash landing.

In Norman in the painting, my novel in progress, I found an oxymoron I used in describing Arctarius’s facial expression. Jill, the protagonist, challenges him about threatening Norman’s life. Arctarius, always the gentleman, gave her a sad smile. The description seems fine, we can visualize it, but sad is contradictory to smile.

Another example in the first draft was when Jill is stabbed by Reggie, she plays dead with a silent scream in her throat.

Do you have a pet Oxymoron?

Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Moe: You're It!

The blog hop continues with Vi Moore, one of the writers I tagged.

Violet's Vibes

Tag was a childhood game that taxed my running skills. I did my best to stay out of reach of the person who was “it,” but my short legs were no match for my long-legged nephews and friends.  When the tagger touched me, he yelled “You’re it!”

When Julaina Kleist-Corwin tagged me in a blog hop, I didn’t run. I accepted the challenge. Meet Julaina.

Julaina Kleist-Corwin teaches creative writing for the City of Dublin, California and has been a presenter at the San Francisco Writers Conference. Julaina has won several short story contests. Her work is published in The California Writers Club Literary Review, Harlequin’s 2012, 2013 Christmas anthologies, and other collections. She writes Women’s Fiction, YA, and multidimensional romantic mysteries.

In Norman and the Painting, the man of Jill’s dreams appears out of a painting. Jill has to discover how to keep him from constantly disappearing back…

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Red Herrings in Writing

Red Herring talks

A red herring is a diversionary tactic. In a mystery, a red herring can be a character, an object, a significant time, day, week, year, weather, or place. It appears to be a clue, but it’s a logical implication that leads readers on a false trail. The key is logical. Writers don’t use them only to mislead the reader. The red herring has to have importance in the story but not for the reason the reader suspects.

In my multidimensional novel, Norman in the Painting, I use a tray in an antique store as an object that the protagonist and reader think is the object that draws Norman out of the painting. A few chapters later, a minor character proves the tray is not significant in Norman’s appearances. It was a logical object because it has a Norman Rockwell scene on it and Norman is a typical Rockwell figure.

As I progress to the eleventh chapter, and being a pantser, I have to plan for at least one, maybe two red herring characters. I don’t like to plot, but in a mystery, I have to do some pre-planning. I’ve set up some possibilities. Arctarius, Jack, or a criminal that committed a recent murder are feasible. Each of those characters has importance in the plot. I didn’t put any of them in the story merely to mislead the reader. However, my problem now is to find their possible reasons for committing the past and the future murders. At this point, the protagonist suspects Arctarius or the criminal. To her, Jack is annoying, so he’d be the least one to suspect. He’d be a good red herring.  Trouble is, I don’t have a clue what motive to assign to him. Since he wants to be more than a minor character, maybe he’ll come up with one and then I’ll be surprised too.

Character BlogHop


I’ve been invited to participate in a Character BlogHop. What’s that, you ask? Well, I’m going to introduce you to one of my characters from the current manuscript I am working on, the second in my Keeper series. I say “one of my characters” because my stories involve several characters at one time, and I don’t want to introduce someone who may be a spoiler for any reader who is reading my first novel, The Keepers of Éire. Today, you’ll meet Devan. But before that, let me give a shout out to Julaina Kleist-Corwin, the writer who tagged me for this bloghop.

julaina-small_150_pixelJulaina Kleist-Corwin is editor for her anthology, Written Across the Genres. She teaches creative writing for the City of Dublin, California. She has won several first place awards in short story contests. Her work has been published in the 2014 CWC Literary Review and Harlequin’s 2012…

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Five Author Quotes For Inspiration

Lisa See, author portrait for "Snowflower and the Secret Fan."Lisa See says, “Read a thousand books, and your words will flow like a river.”

How many of you have read her Snow Flower and the Secret Fan or my favorite, Peony in Love? I met her at the San Francisco Writers Conference a few years ago. She’s friendly and talked about how she frequently goes to China to research her books. I remember her characters as soon as I see Lisa’s name or the titles of her books. They live in a land and time I didn’t know until I read her books.

quote characters are realCornelia Funke, a German author of children’s fiction such as Inkspell, another one of my favorites, said, “Which of us has not felt that the character we are reading in the printed page is more real than the person standing beside us?” Her characters, especially Dustfinger and Meggie, are still alive to me even if I’ve read the book years ago.

writer about dragons quotesGeorge R.R. Martin is quoted as saying, “Some writers enjoy writing, I am told. Not me. I enjoy having written.”

I haven’t read any of his books but A Dance with Dragons and The Winds of Winter look interesting. Unlike him, I do enjoy writing, but I’m sure after my book revisions are done (are they ever really finished?), I’ll be more than happy.

Thomas MannThis quote by Thomas Mann made me laugh and might be along the lines of what George R. R. Martin meant: “A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.”

Vladimer Nabokov head shotVladimir Nabokov looks different in this head shot than he did holding the kitten in one of my previous posts. He is right about names. I remember his book with Lolita as the main character but I didn’t remember who wrote the book until I found his quotes for my posts. He says, “Lolita is famous, not I. I am an obscure, doubly obscure, novelist with an unpronounceable name.”

These authors admit it isn’t or wasn’t easy for them to write. I’m encouraged by their words as I revise the first eleven chapters of Norman in the Painting before I continue to see how Jill will help Norman or if she can. And, while I struggle to control Jack who wants to be in every chapter and doesn’t realize he is a minor character, I will think of Thomas Mann.

I agree with Cornelia Funke, characters are real and, like Lolita, if the books are a success, they’ll have their own fame.

When Characters Take Over the Story

boxing ring

If we imagine a boxing ring with our antagonist in one corner and the protagonist in the other corner, who is the referee? The writer is.

Lani Longshore
Lani Longshore

Lani Longshore, co-author of Death by Chenille and When Chenille is Not Enough (science fiction genre about quilters saving the world from aliens disguised as bolts of beige fabric), made a comment on my last post about talking to characters. She said, “I chatter away at them all the time, but do they listen? They do not. They keep their secrets sailing over my head like playground bullies playing keep-away with the smallest kid’s hat.” She gave a clear visual of what it seems like when the characters don’t let the writer know what they’re doing behind the page or when they take over the story.

Jorge Luis Borges said, “Many of my characters are fools and they’re always playing tricks on me and treating me badly.”

Writers need to control the characters so that they follow the intended plot, however, if the antagonist and protagonist are in a battle, writers also referee the fight. In other words, what makes the characters more believable is to show a logical reason for each side’s conviction. Remember, we are told the villain needs to have some redeeming quality? The referee can show the reasons why both sides believe they are right which will make the conflict more emotionally appealing and deepen the story. Tell the protagonist that you aren’t taking the antagonist’s side, but if the reader understands why the antagonist is taking action, the deeper story line will keep those pages turning.

National Reading Group Month Event October 11, 2014

BOOK STORE FOR NTL READING GROUP MONTHA National Reading Group Month event is on October 11, 2014 from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. at Books, Inc., Opera Plaza, 601 Van Ness Ave., San Francisco. It’s co-sponsored by Women’s National Book Association, San Francisco Chapter, and Litquake.

Three award-winning authors will discuss their new novels over wine and hors d’oeuvres.

Katie Crouch discusses Abroad: A Novel.

Alice LaPlante, Circle of Wives.

Sophie Littlefield, The Missing Place (out this October)

There will be a free raffle of all books presented along with other free items for book clubs.

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Author Quotes about Writing a Novel

Katherine Anne Porter postage stampHow do authors write their novels? I’ve included some examples. Who are plotters and who are pantsers?

Katherine Anne Porter said, “If I didn’t know the ending of a story, I wouldn’t begin…I always write my last line, my last paragraphs, my last page first.”


AnthonyBurgess photo with cigar“I start at the beginning, go on to the end, and then stop.” Anthony Burgess





Vladimir Nabokov with kittenVladimir Nabokov used index cards to lay out the story, then he expanded and rearranged the cards before he started writing the novel.



Somerset Maughham 3 rules quote & photo