Stories that won’t quit

Okay, here’s the thing. Ever since you were a kid you wanted to write a book.

You write that book and publish it.

BUT, the story just won’t quit and suddenly (or not so suddenly as you don’t write that fast) the one book morphs into four—never had you dreamed of writing a series, a sci-fi one at that.

Okay, that’s done. What next? A compilation of short, mostly humorous, bits.

And then?  Another story, of course. Never had you dreamed of writing a mystery, but here it is.

BUT, this too, does not want to quit and a few months later you have a sequel.

You don’t think these two will become a trilogy or a series, but you never know for you’ve learned that it’s the story that has the control, not the author.




Rubber ducky reading

My little granddaughter has a collection of rubber duckies. She came home from her walk with Grandpa and showed me the latest addition – the pink one.

“Grandma, her name is Darla and she found your new book and is reading it.”

Gotta love the kid. Here’s the book she’s referring to. If you’ve read When the Sun was Mine, my new book, Whispers Under the Baobab is a sequel of sorts (perhaps companion piece would be a better description), for they do not have to be read in a particular order.


When high school graduate, Brittany Wright, gets a job cleaning at Happy Hearts nursing home, she is terrified of old lady Flo and desperately wishes she could be in college instead. As an unlikely friendship develops between the two, Brittany discovers that Flo is in grave danger. But, from whom and why? As Flo’s Alzheimer’s worsens, Brittany scrambles to save her. But, ironically, it may be Flo who saves Brittany.


When rebel leader, Sidu Diagho, learns that reporter, Flo Mc Allister, has died, he knows that her power to destroy him is still very much alive.

Flo was with him during the coup attempts and all these years later Sidu could yet be tried at The Hague with her notes the testimony needed to convict him.

And the girl, Flo’s friend? How much does she know?

Sidu will do what he must to destroy the evidence against him.

Harry Leslie Smith – in his own words


Survivor of the Great Depression, RAF veteran, Activist for the Welfare State, Author of Harry’s Last Stand Love Among the Ruins, 1923 & The Empress of Australia

I have lived a very long time. Tomorrow, it will be exactly 94 years ago that a midwife with a love of harsh gin and rolled cigarettes delivered me into my mother’s tired, working-class arms. Neither the midwife nor my mother would have expected me to live to almost 100 because my ancestors had lived in poverty for as long as there was recorded history in Yorkshire.

Nowadays, when wealth is considered wisdom, too often old age is derided, disrespected or feared, perhaps because it is the last stage in our human journey before death. But in this era of Trump and Brexit, ignoring the assets of knowledge that are acquired over a long life could be as lethal as disregarding a dead canary in a coal mine. Read more here

Harry’s Tweets:

  • The West’s indifference to loss of human life that does not live in privilege will be our downfall.
  • I stand for immigration, I stand for tolerance, I stand for progress, I stand for equality & prosperity, I stand with migrants.
  • I was 1st introduced to the #gigeconomyduring the Great Depression when I’d watch my dad beg at factory gates for a few hours work.
  • #DonaldTrumpis a danger to global stability, democracy, and just common decency.
  • I’ve heard these words before people, but then I was a teen in Yorkshire watching newsreels of Hitler.
  • It makes me quite angry that my generation fought to defeat fascism & Hitler in our youth but now in the winter of our years came #trump.
  • I don’t envy wealth but I despise those who destroy society for their own profit and greed. Society only works when we all pay fair taxes.
  • The only thing that stands in the way of #DonaldTrumpdestroying society is us. Silence is not the answer to tyranny.


Writers beware – danger lurks in Victoria

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Victoria, BC is a very dangerous city. We moved here a year ago and it’s a wonder I get any writing done. The view of the gorge from our living room and the mild weather lure me outside. The beautiful historic buildings in a downtown that’s always bustling with tourists and entertainment and food trucks—impossible to resist and we can get there by water taxi. Is there a better way to travel for a leisurely Saturday lunch and afternoon of fun?

Then there’s the list of attractions demanding to be explored: Craig Darroch Castle, Point Ellice House, Fort Rodd, Ross Bay Villa, Fisherman’s Wharf (with the lovely houseboats and an assortment of restaurants and seals to feed), Chinatown ( the second largest in North America  …

And the list of natural sights to be enjoyed: Beacon Hill Park, Ogden Point (where the cruise ships dock), Mount Tolmie offering a panoramic view of the city, Dallas Road following the ocean shore, the Butchart Gardens …

And the list of restaurants enticing us with their varied menus: Glo, Milestones, Green Leaf Vietnamese Bistro, La Taquisa …

How to fit all of that in and still find time to write and market my books? Somehow, I manage and a new book will soon be ready for publication.

Meanwhile, the first novel of my Em and Yves Series, EMBATTLED is available free. And, the second can be yours free too when you subscribe to my newsletter. For more information go to




An Informal Blog Tour

J.E. Fishman, fellow Venture Galleries author has invited me to participate in an informal blog tour. Check out his mysteries about that most unusual accidental detective Phuoc Goldberg here.

The “rules” of the blog tour are that I answer the following questions, so here goes.

What am I working on?

I’m clipping along on a new novel that’s completely different from anything else I’ve written so far – no aliens, no super powers. I don’t like trying to fit any story into a genre as in my opinion that is limiting and unfair for the author and reader alike. That said, I’m undecided as to genre as I know from experience that the finished product will be much different from this first sketchy draft. This new book has elements of adventure, and mystery with literary overtones. I think ultimately if I have to squeeze it into a genre it will fit in “boomer lit” and YA.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

My Em and Yves series is billed as Sci-fi, but I think of it as “soft sci-fi” as it does not encompass futuristic technology. Adventure, romance, current events, and “supreme beings” play their parts in the unfolding events and magic of the series.

Why do I write what I write?

My series was inspired by my experiences living in Mali. When I was there, it was ranked the 5th poorest country in the world. Try to imagine if you can, going from the luxurious life of the Canadian west to the edges of the Sahara. Anything I did to try to help wasn’t even a drop in the bucket as the saying goes, so I created a magic wand and waved it in my books.

How does my writing process work?

My writing process is evolutionary. I started with bits and pieces of ideas written in short scenes that grew to chapters and then played musical chairs with those chapters. In the beginning I worked without an outline. I progressed to a rough outline that was never static for the second, third, and fourth books of the series which certainly made the story easier to write

This new novel, I started with one sentence that popped into my head one day. I wrote it down on my “novel idea” list and forgot about it for several weeks. Then one day, searching for an idea for a new novel, I read my list, and seeing that sentence the light bulb flashed on—very brightly, I might add. I started writing without an outline and within a few days I had written 21 chapters. I can’t believe how fast this book is flowing.

Whichever style of writing I’ve used, I‘ve always been surprised—pleasantly—by the way the characters and plot take over and I end up writing bits I hadn’t thought of originally. The ending to my first book, EMBATTLED, came as a complete surprise. I love that aspect of writing.


The Hero Confronts the Author

“Okay, Mrs. Jones, here’s the thing,” Yves said. “You put me in your books for the magic solutions I could bring to Earth, right?”

“Exactly,” I replied. “We need you down here to stop all the wars, and get rid of the guns, and .., well, I don’t really need to explain. You can see for yourself that Earth needs a whole lot of fixing.”

“No question. But with so much to do, why did you pick me? Why not one of the more experienced Powers? I’m a rookie on my first assignment. I’m bound to mess up.”

I had to chuckle. Of course he’d mess up. In fact he’d mess up for four whole novels before he got it right. I didn’t tell him that of course. Wouldn’t do for him to know about his future. “Trust me. You’re the one for this job.”

Yves stomped a foot. The most emotion I’d seen from him so far. So he could get mad. Good. He’d need emotions, a whole lot of them, to do the job well. In fact all of those supreme beings up there needed to loosen up or what would the universe come to?

“How can you say that?” His voice rose to a sort of adolescent squeak. “Look at the mess I’ve made of things already. I’ve sent Em out on dangerous missions and haven’t even been able to communicate with her. I can’t let her know she won’t be hurt no matter what happens. How am I supposed to live with her questions and her fears knowing I’m the cause? Look at her!” His voice rose again. “She’s fighting. Hand to hand combat. Blood all over the place.” He blinked and Em’s filthy jui jitsu gi pants and t-shirt glowed spotlessly white in the mud and blood and mire of the battle.

I rubbed my hands together. Oh, this was good. Really good. Tension on every page just like the experts said. “Don’t worry,” I said. “It will all work out okay.”

Yves breathed a sigh of relief.

“Or not,” I said.

From Reader to Author

I remember wanting to write when I was young and taking creative writing courses, but not really knowing how to go about the whole novel thing. I started seriously playing around with writing about twelve years ago. It was joining the provincial writing guild and getting into a critiquing group that really got me on the right track. Most of my first novel was written on yellow stickies—yes, you read right—those little post it notes. I’d jot down ideas when sitting at red lights, and when I couldn’t sleep. The problem with writing the notes in the dark was that I often couldn’t read my scribbles in the morning or I’d find I’d written one note on top of another and that was impossible to decipher.

By the time I got to my second book I was a little more organized and used a rough outline.  Even now that I’ve written and published three books, I find that I’m still jotting down ideas on yellow stickies for book four.

If asked to give advice to beginning writers, I would say:

Don’t give up and do get yourself into a critiquing group. You need other sets of eyes and other perspectives that will be impartial. You can’t evaluate your own work objectively—you’re too close to it. Also, you know what you are thinking, but that doesn’t always come across clearly on the page. You need to know how a reader will see it.

What has been the biggest challenge of my career so far? Marketing! It’s almost more work than writing the book—time consuming and no magic answers to get people’s attention.

To learn more about my books go to:

A reader or a writer, which would you rather be?

Oh boy, I have to say I dislike either/or questions because most of the time I want both. Greedy, I guess, but I can’t imagine writing without reading and I lived too many years of reading without writing to stop now.

As a kid I always had my nose in a book. I carried it around while I dusted around the ornaments and doilies. Of course my mother made me put the book down and dust properly. Putting a book down was agony!

Each Christmas Eve we were allowed to open one present. Good thing it was obvious by feel which was the book. Problem was I finished reading it that evening, but then I could always reread it Christmas Day.

Sometime during my teens the desire to write began to loom in my heart. But, it wasn’t until a few years ago that I followed that dream. And now, here I am with three books published, and the fourth a work in progress. Now, I can’t imagine a day without writing.

There are many joys in writing—creating the story, the characters who become friends, playing with the plot line, throwing in a fight or two, and of course a love triangle (that’s the romance, right?). In my story, I have the fun of adding magical elements with the otherworldly characters who give the heroine special powers.

And you? How do reading and writing fit in your life?

The Teen Talks

Hi, I’m Curtis. Mrs. Jones—that’s her on the camel—put me in one of her books called EMBRACED. Sounds pretty mushy to me. Anyway, she says I have to tell you a little about the story.

Miss D, my school principal came to me one day with this page of scribbles. She thought it was some kind of code and she wanted me and my buddies to try to figure it out. I like Miss D and all. She’s not bad for an adult. You can talk to her and she doesn’t make fun. But, sheesh, a code from aliens? Anyway, to keep her happy, I said I’d help.

Thing is, once I started studying the scribbles, I could see messages. I told Miss D that Coder Guy (that’s the name Miss D gave to whoever was sending the messages) wanted her to fix things. Of course she asked what things? I didn’t know so I made up some stuff. Miss D wrote letters to newspapers using my ideas and the things she asked for started to come true. Then she let our class write letters on this fancy paper she had and the things we asked for came true too.

Kinda spooky, eh? But fun too. Secretly I wished Coder Guy could get rid of my zits and help me lose weight so I wouldn’t be such a geek. I didn’t tell Miss D that, but Coder Guy must of read my mind or something cause now I’m taller and better looking and the girls are starting to talk to me. Miss D says everyone changes, but for me it happened awfully fast so I think Coder Guy did it.

Now Miss D is in the hospital. She’s all screwed up by the messages and the letters, and this guy named Sam. I think she really liked him, but he dumped her or something and that sent her over the edge. I’m going up to the hospital to see her now.

Oops, Mrs. Jones just told me not to say too much. Doesn’t want any spoilers for her book so you’ll have to read it to find out what happens. Gotta go see Miss D now. Hope you like the book.

Who Knew

You’ve written a book and the first question everyone invariably asks is, “What’s it about?”

“Um… er… it’s…” Who knew defining your work would almost be harder than writing it? “Well, it’s not a thriller, or a mystery, or a bodice ripping romance.”


“Sort of.”


“No, no.”

“Vampires? Monsters? Paranormal stuff?”

“No.” You sense an edge of impatience creeping in.

“Well, what’s it about?”

You frown in thought. How to describe a cross-genre novel is not easy. You take a deep breath and plunge in. “It’s the story of a woman whose life is taken over…” That’s not going to cut it. “It’s about this woman named Em and a guy, Yves, who controls her. And then there’s Ron…” That’s not going to work either. You try again.

“It’s an adventure slash love story with a bit of “soft” sci-fi magic, about a woman who is chosen to “fix” stuff in the world, and about the two men who love her.”

Frowns tell you they don’t have a clue what you’re talking about. So, for the men, you say, “sci-fi action adventure” and for the women you say “love story.” You’ll be right both times. You hope like heck they’ll be curious enough to buy it and hope like heck you’ve written it well enough that they’ll like it, want to buy the whole series, and will tell evryone they know about it, word of mouth advertizing being an author’s best friend.