Frequently Asked Question: It’s been said that the benefits of becoming a writer who does not read is that all your ideas are new and original. Everything you do is an extension of yourself, instead of a mixture of you and another author. On the other hand, how can you expect other people to want your writing, if you don’t enjoy reading? What are your thoughts?

insecure2bwriters2bsupport2bgroup2bbadgeSo, this question once again comes from the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. I’m not going to lie; some months, I wonder what the hell they’re thinking.

This is one of those times.

I’m somewhat afraid that my response will be shorter than the question, to be honest!

From where I sit, you cannot be a competent writer, let alone a good one, unless you are a voracious reader. You need to learn sentence structure, vocabulary and, frankly, what it’s like to have your breath taken away by brilliant prose. You learn what makes a story work, what tropes matter if you do genre fiction, and more. It’s important to read widely, across both fiction and non-fiction work, because both will improve your craft.

Besides, there are no “new and original” stories in the world.  They all come from myths and archetypes far older than we are … no matter what story you’re talking about.



Frequently Asked Question: If you could pick one place in the world to sit and write your next story, where would it be and why?


Hi, friends. It’s the first Wednesday of the month, which means that it’s time for a question from the Insecure Writers Support Group.

Your intrepid author, with our waiter … and a photobomb by the bartender/chef



I didn’t have to think twice about the answer this time. The Restaurant Jardin-Notre Dame is kitty-corner from Shakespeare and Company, in Paris’ Latin Quarter. It has a gorgeous view of Notre Dame Cathedral. The food is good, the staff is congenial … and it’s in Paris.

558847_10200514647644636_303051565_nThe restaurant has been there for decades; one of the photos on the wall shows the Resistance outside the establishment during World War II. There are bullet holes in the walls (I am not kidding) from the fighting during that period.

I loved this place so much that I had Catherine and Farukh visit it during their first date in His Beloved Infidel. I can think of no better place to sit and write.

(All photos from the author’s collection)

Frequently Asked Question: Has your writing ever taken you by surprise? For example, a positive and belated response to a submission you’d forgotten about or an ending you never saw coming?

Hi, everyone. Here’s this month’s question from the Insecure Writer’s Support Group.

eyeThe short answer is yes. The long answer is a bit more involved, as you might expect.

In my debut novel, In The Eye of The Beholder, is a character named Gilbert Rochambeau. Gilbert was originally going to be a minor character. He had a function to play, and that was going to be that. Bye-bye, Gilbert.


Eye Of The Storm Cover_revisedI wrote myself into a corner at one point and realized that the problem was with Gilbert: he wasn’t done talking yet. He needed to play a far greater part in the story … and so he did, carrying right over into the award-winning sequel, In The Eye of The Storm.

The lesson I learned from all of this was that sometimes our characters have better ideas than we do!

Frequently Asked Question: What personal traits have you written into your character(s)?

insecure2bwriters2bsupport2bgroup2bbadgeHi, everyone. It’s the first Wednesday of the month, which means it’s time to answer a question from the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. When I saw this month’s question, I was sure it had been asked before. Sure enough, back in September 2017, the IWSG wanted to know what personal information we had slipped into our characters, whether by accident or design.

Here’s a quote from the 2017 post, sharing one of the two examples I gave at the time:

eyeI was still an active equestrian athlete when I wrote In The Eye of The Beholder … which features a woman whose job at the Opèra Garnier was to ride horses in some of the mid-show spectaculars that composers put in their productions.  They were desperate to get opera-goers to look at the stage and not one another; in the late 19th Century, people went to the opera to see and be seen, not so much for the performance.  My experience in dressage allowed me to write intelligently about what those performances might look like, what kind of equipment was used, etc.

In The Eye of The Beholder is currently available for $1.50 (a 50% discount) at Smashwords. Click on the link above to get your copy today!

Frequently Asked Question: Of all the genres you read and write, which is your favorite to write in and why?

insecure2bwriters2bsupport2bgroup2bbadgeToday’s question comes to us from the Insecure Writer’s Support Group.  It’s one I’ve answered before. My favorite genre to write is historical fiction.

Here’s a quote from the previous blog entry, explaining why:

I think what draws me most to historical fiction is the glimpse into how people lived in other eras. I have always found that fascinating. Social mores, fashions, even food! I recently completed a course on royal food and feasting from the Tudor to Victorian eras.

I enjoy the process of researching a story, and I love the richness of detail that comes from doing that work. I’m one of those rare birds who treats research as a treasure hunt rather than a chore; the hardest thing I experience is limiting how much research I do, because it is far too easy to go down a rabbit hole and never do any writing!