Garden of Magic

WheeeeeeWhat does this have to do with writing? Everything. When you stimulate your readers with your words, thoughts, feelings, and, of course, love, you are creating magic. As you begin your novel, or even if you are half-way through, stop. Yes, stop. Think of what you are writing, who you are writing for, and can you give this a little pinch of surprise?

Think of your writing as a garden. Some things will stay the same, but when the weeding starts, watch out. Gardeners do not want weeds crowding out their flowers, vegetables, or shrubs. Each has a place in the garden and needs room to grow, sun to brighten the day, and rain to keep them alive.

Now translate this into your writing. You do not need adjectives and adverbs crowding out your words. You need a fresh approach. So, take a walk and feel the sun on your face, enjoy the warmth, bright light, and return home with a different perspective on your story. It might be cloudy with thunderstorms expected in the afternoon. Take time to sit and watch as the clouds form, the wind increases, and observe the activity. Think about your writing. Could you increase some tension with a storm? Is there anywhere for the characters to stay dry?

As your garden grows, look at the shape of the flowers, the different textures, and yet they are all in the same garden. Do the same with the vegetables, if that is your garden. Each vegetable has certain characteristics. If you’ve planted new shrubs, look at the roots and see if they are entangled with the other shrubs. The shape of the leaves can be different even on the same type of shrub.

Keep all of this in mind as you run your fingers over the keyboard, or push a pen across the paper. Do your characters now have their own special look, feel, voice? Your characters are an extension of you and your thoughts. They need their own place in your story. No one character has the same make-up or the same flaws. Yes, flaws. Remember your garden. If everything you planted came up the same, this would be a boring place to visit. Don’t you think your characters would get tired of being the same? Give each character their own traits and flaws. This makes a great way to keep your characters fresh through the next, say four-hundred pages.

“Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.”

Happy writing in your garden of characters.

Is Your Creativity on Vacation?

images_080Have you ever had an idea pop into your head and find no pen, no paper, and no computer near? I’ll remember. No problem.
Or, have you ever sat down at the computer and the fingers could not find the keys you need?
What about pen and paper, a notebook in the car, and you can’t remember what was so important?
No, you are not going ‘out of your mind.’ Your creativity decided on a vacation without your permission. But you have other avenues until the unannounced recess is over.
Remember, way, way back to the prompt days? Sometimes these are right under our fingers and we forget. Let’s go back a few years or so and revive our mind, brain, and get the creativity back.
Look around your home, or your office, or on your desk. Pick up the first object you see. Touch it. Feel it. Examine all of it; look at the color, the texture, the weight, and imagine this as part of a new scene. Now close your eyes and visualize this object in a story. Could this be the missing piece to your heroine’s story? Or, is this object big enough to be the murder weapon? See, now you are on a roll.
What about all of the old photographs we used to see? Pull out a picture album, if you still have one, and leaf through the pages. I’m sure there are several that bring back fond memories and others that make you want to hide under your desk. Maybe there are some that have you laughing until the tears slide down your face. Now, pick one and let your mind work its magic. You might even forget about the picture and the landscape is the most important thing you see. Hey, a new setting for your story?
Creativity still on vacation?
Go to your bookshelf or shelves. Look at all the books you have and pick one up at random. Hey, close your eyes and grab. Look at the title, but do not open the book. Think of a different story with the same title. How would you start the story? What different setting would you use? What about the characters? Would you change their looks, style, put them in a different genre? See, already your mind is racing back to your disabled story. And, by the way, isn’t that your creativity working your fingers.
    Vacation is over. Your ‘Creativity is ready to reward you with its own avenues.

Happy Writing Every Day.



Lori lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where she writes women’s and children’s fiction. RENAISSANCE OF THE HEART is her debut novel. She’s also the author of children’s books, RILEY’S HEART MACHINE and CONFETTI THE CROC, both written with the hope that children will celebrate what make them unique. She’s also written award-winning flash fiction pieces and her articles have been featured in various publications.
Lori serves on the Board of Directors for the Children’s Heart Foundation and is the president of their Pennsylvania chapter and has co-chaired Pittsburgh’s Congenital Heart Walks for the past three years. She visits schools to speak about writing, about the human heart and about embracing what makes you special.
Besides writing and spreading awareness about Congenital Heart Defects, her passions include her two daughters, her husband, Mark, her Pittsburgh sports teams and running in 5Ks. Lori is a member of Pennwriters and she loves her local writing groups! She is a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown with a Bachelor of Arts degree in communication and journalism. She also holds a paralegal certificate from Duquesne University and is a former Washington, D.C. paralegal. Visit her website at

Get to Know Lori and her writing:

How long have you been writing? Since college, but I seriously began writing children’s stories in 2002 after my first daughter was born. I made up stories to tell her and then I wrote them down. But it wasn’t until 2009 when a story I wrote for second daughter (about her heart defect) was offered a contract. I began writing adult women’s fiction in 2009 after having a series of dreams that would never leave my mind during the day. It turns out, they were my first characters coming to life!
What attracted you to writing? I remember walking in the woods one day in college following a big snowstorm. I wanted to capture the beauty of the scene – not just the beauty of what I saw but the beauty of what I felt. When I wrote about snowy walk, I loved the way it made me feel – like music to my soul. Writing eventually became something I did not just do to express myself, but it became something I needed to do, had to do.
What is your favorite thing about writing? The moment when a scene or a chapter comes together and exceeds my expectations. When I see it go from a bunch of words into art. When I read back over something I’ve written and think, wow, I wrote that?! And I also love when I’m not at my laptop but off doing something else, and my characters start talking in my head and create a whole scene when I hadn’t even planned to write that day.
What is your least favorite thing about writing? The business side of it is tough. If only we writers could spend all of our time creating, but that’s just not the reality of it.
How do you respond to a negative review? Fortunately so far, I’ve only received positive reviews. I’m sure it’s bound to happen soon, though. I know I can’t please everyone, so it’s inevitable. I hope I can take it for what it’s worth and focus on the positive feedback. But, most likely, I’ll cry a little!
Do you have a favorite quote?
It’s hard to pick just one but I’ll go with the one I open my first chapter with: “If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant. If we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.” —Anne Bradstreet

If your story was turned into a film, what Hollywood stars would play the two main characters?
Susan Rafferty from the TV show Suits would make a perfect Amanda. And Bradly would definitely be Ryan Reynolds!

Now for the book:


After her husband of fifteen years comes out of the closet, a blindsided, forty-year-old Amanda Lewis is forced to salvage what remains of her shattered heart and navigate a new life for herself and her teenage daughter. But will a sizzling secret romance with a famous young NFL quarterback lead her to winning the life she deserves or set her up for her biggest loss yet?

As she embarks on the journey of rebuilding her home, Amanda discovers that finding forgiveness and repairing her damaged self-worth are her biggest challenges of all. While searching her soul–and even searching inside her city’s history–she finds answers. But will answers come too late and can a broken heart ever be truly fixed?

Where to find me links (Website, Facebook, Twitter, etc.), twitter @lorijoneswrites,

Book Buy Links —


On Overload?

The Otherlife
Yes, this is also part of writing. Our brain works for us on a 24/7 time schedule. Even in our sleep, our brain works. No wonder we wake up in bad moods, tired, and overloaded.
We have schedules, time tables and deadlines for a blog post, a writing assignment, an edit, and you name it. Then, we have to write new material, or a sequel, or decide to change genres. Our brain functions in all of these changes and events, but sometimes our body does not.

We go from one thought to another, jump into unknown territory and scramble to complete three things at the same time. Poor brain. Still, this majestic part of our body is always on alert to danger and can signal us of the dangers ahead. Have you ever thought about “what could happen?” instead of the present, your heart beats faster and you get tense.
Can we do something about this? Of course, slow down, get in the present, and stay in the present and . . . . no way. There are so many things that needs attention. We cannot quit worrying about not doing our best (perfectionist) or being the best caregiver and cannot quit multitasking.

STOP! Think of the practice of Yoga, the mindfulness we keep forgetting about. Stress gets to our lives in so many ways, but we can learn to control this and give ourselves a happy outlook. Sorry, but go offline for a full twenty-four hours. Yeah, I spelled this out instead of using figures, to soften the blow. But there are emails to answer, research to do, picking kids up from school, dinner to cook, laundry piled up, and the last two chapters to finish, and then editing. I’m so far behind.

Unclench your teeth. Open your mouth wide and stick your tongue out. But, that’s kids’ stuff. Try it, and while you are doing this release the muscles around your eyes, let your face relax. Roll you chin down and then over to the right shoulder, back to center, and over to the left shoulder.

Schedule “worry time.” What? Yes, we all have worries, but why keep them with you every second of every hour of every day. Make an appointment with yourself and list all of your worries. Read this list, and then tear it up. Worries are gone.

Remember the old rubber band snap? It still works. Put a rubber band on your wrist and give yourself a slight snap. If this doesn’t work snap harder and quit thinking of what you should have done and look at what you do have. What about a massage? What about a manicure or pedicure or BOTH? Relax into the moment. This is YOUR time, enjoy.

Learn to focus on the present. Forget all the pressures and take one item at a time. I’ll answer ten emails, finish the next chapter, and grab a take-out dinner for this evening. Do these few simple avenues release the jumpy stomach feelings? How about the tightness in your hands and feet. Hey, the driver of the car in front of you might be going through some of the same. Smile, and say to yourself, “been there, done that, and no more.”

Happy Release. Happy Procrastination. Happy Present.




Larynn Ford began reading romance in her early teens and became interested in writing in high school. She’s a daydreamer and a romantic who is intrigued by the paranormal and loves to let her mind wander, always searching for a happily ever after ending to her dreams.
To her delight and constant amazement, her first book, IN MY WILDEST DREAMS was released April 16, 2013. Her desire for more grows constantly. She’s going to keep on writing, dreaming, and searching for those happy ending’s.


Rescued2-1 RESCUED

Fiercely independent and determined to be taken seriously in a man’s world, PI Rose Baxter will do whatever it takes to find the kids who are disappearing from the streets and bring them home safe, even teaming up with PI Marty Brown, a man hot enough to burn whatever part of her gets too close – her fingers, her sheets, her life, and her other nature’s whiskers.
But her other nature knows whiskers grow back and will accept nothing less than this man as her mate for life, a plan Marty’s all in on. Sparks fly when she refuses to be the little woman. Besides, those kids need her and their time’s running out. But, thrown together 24/7 can she fight it?


How long have you been writing?

I began testing the waters in 2009. I had no idea if my urge to write was real and lasting or if it was a passing fancy but here in 2014, I’m still at it and love every minute of it.

What attracted you to writing?
Reading. When I’m lost in another world I think how wonderful it would be to create a dream world of my very own.

What is your favorite thing about writing?
Happy endings:)

What is your least favorite thing about writing?
I never seem to have enough time to put into writing.

How do you handle negative reviews?
I thank the reviewer whenever possible.
Do you have a favorite quote?
My Daddy said, “You get what you pay for.” He wasn’t saying extravagance was the way to go, just be careful of how you spend you money.
If your story was turned into a film, what Hollywood stars would play the two main characters?

I spend very little of my time watching TV or going to the movies so this question would take much thought and research. Maybe I’ll have a contest and have the readers make suggestions and tell me their reasons. Hey! That sounds like fun!

Where to find me links (Website, Facebook, Twitter, etc.)
Twitter: @LarynnFord
Face Book:
Amazon Author Page:

RESCUED is up on Amazon! Here’s the link


unicorn danceThink of the word “SUCCESS.” Success comes in all different sizes and niches, but let’s look at life and writing. We all have different goals, but do you set them, keep track of where you are, and  are you willing to make changes to attain your success.

One pattern may not be enough. You may have to make alterations to your plans. Do changes throw you off track or out of kilter? Change is hard to master. Sometimes, even the thought of the word is enough to make one backtrack. Still, change can be exciting: new avenues to try, new ideas to grow, and new skills to learn.

Think of some of the mini-successes you’ve encountered. Some may have been small, quite small, and then you learned that these small successes led to bigger moments. What about all those query letters you sent out, waited and waited, and got rejected. Did this stop you from writing or more determined to continue. This is the grit we all need to keep us going. The big push to make us continue and work harder. Sure it hurts, but without pain success would not show its face.

Motivation moves us to visualization. Sometimes it becomes easier to reach up and out when we can picture what we want. Do you see your name on your book cover? Can you see yourself on television answering questions about your writing? Do you envision your first book signing? These are small steps you can conquer and get you ready for even bigger steps. We all crawled before we walked. (Well, most of us.)

Share your goals and your dreams.This will help you become accountable to yourself and others. Even your comments on social media can advance your success, when you share. No others will not always agree, but when you keep your emotions in check, you will show stamina, etiquette, and people relate to these standards.

If there are areas where you feel you’ve failed. Go back and see what caused these failures. Tear these failures into pieces and then put them back together in a different form. Use failures as a chance to do something different, to make changes, and keep your focus on tomorrow, not yesterday.

With every step toward success, you enlighten yourself, stretch yourself to learn, and the best part, you can help another person on your pathway. When you are warm, friendly, and  smile, people will return these gestures.

Now, ask yourself, do I have what it takes for success in my life and my writing? Of, course you do. We all get to the destination in different ways, but always go forward.

If you have encountered setbacks and survived, let me hear how you did this and what motivated you.

Happy Writing.


Linda Pennell

I have been in love with the past for as long as I can remember. Anything with a history, whether shabby or majestic, recent or ancient, instantly draws me in. I suppose it comes from being part of a large extended family that spanned several generations. Long summer afternoons on my grandmother’s porch or winter evenings gathered around her fireplace were filled with stories both entertaining and poignant. Of course being set in the South, those stories were also peopled by some very interesting characters, some of whom have found their way into my work.

As for my venture in writing, it has allowed me to reinvent myself. We humans are truly multifaceted creatures, but unfortunately we tend to sort and categorize each other into neat, easily understood packages that rarely reveal the whole person. Perhaps you, too, want to step out of the box in which you find yourself. I encourage you to look at the possibilities and imagine. Be filled with childlike wonder in your mental wanderings. Envision what might be, not simply what is. Let us never forget, all good fiction begins when someone says to herself or himself, “Let’s pretend.”

I reside in the Houston area with one sweet husband and one German Shorthaired Pointer who thinks she’s a little girl.

How long have you been writing?

Since I am an educator, I’ve been writing in one way or another all of my adult life. I started writing fiction about six years ago.
What attracted you to writing?

I had a wonderful creative writing teacher my senior year of high school. I loved the class, but when I got to college, writing to meet the academic requirements of a history degree took over. Later, the writing became secondary reading curriculum and other forms related to education. I have now come full circle back to fiction. It has all been a wonderful journey!
What is your favorite thing about writing?

I love the creative process and the research. Feeling the words flow is something akin to giving birth to a child. It is a wonderful feeling.

What is your least favorite thing about writing?

I hate, hate, hate editing! It is such an evil chore, necessary, but evil all the same. I dislike it so much because my mind automatically transforms the worst gobble-de-gook into intelligible English. I suppose it comes from years of reading students’ terrible handwriting, mangled spelling and all. As an assistant principal charged with keeping the peace, it is vital that I be able to read gang writing and students’ statements and notes. Great for learning what a gang member plans to do to a rival, but murder on the editing eye.

How do you respond to a negative review?

I don’t. Ever. Period. End of discussion.
Do you have a favorite quote?

Favorite quote regarding my professional passion: “History is filled with the sound of silken slippers going downstairs and wooden shoes coming up.” Voltaire

If your story was turned into a film, what Hollywood stars would play the two main characters?

Rather than name actual actors, I think the parts of Mary Catherine and Gustavo might best be played by a type that I can only describe. The actors should appear to be in their late teens to early twenties. Mary Catherine would be played by a modern day Gene Tierney – beautiful and cool under pressure. Think of her portrayal in the movie Laura. Gustavo should be a young Antonio Banderas. He is still devastatingly handsome, but too old for the part. SIGH!



OConfederado-Soulmate 105_105x158ctober, 1866.
Mary Catherine is devastated when her family immigrates from Georgia to Brazil because her father and maternal uncle refuse to accept the terms of Reconstruction following the Confederacy’s defeat. Shortly after arrival in their new country, she is orphaned, leaving her in Uncle Nathan’s care. He hates Mary Catherine, blaming her for his sister’s death. She despises him because she believes Nathan murdered her father. When Mary Catherine discovers Nathan’s plan to be rid of her as well, she flees into the wilderness filled with jaguars and equally dangerous men. Finding refuge among kind peasants, she grows into a beauty, ultimately marrying the scion of a wealthy Portuguese family. Happiness and security seem assured until civil unrest brings armed marauders who have an inexplicable connection to Mary Catherine. Recreating herself has protected Mary Catherine in the past, but the latest crisis will demand all of the courage, intelligence, and creativity she posseses simply to survive.

Excerpt from Confederado do Norte
Chapter 1
I dreamt the dream again last night. In the small hours, I awoke in a tumble of bedclothes and bathed in perspiration despite the howling snowstorm blanketing the city. I rearranged quilts and plumped pillows, but sleep remained elusive. My mind refused to be quiet.
As often happens after such a night, I felt unable to rise at my usual hour and remained abed long after the maids cleared breakfast from the morning room. My daughter-in-law, bless her heart, meant well. I told her it was ridiculous to bring the doctor out on such a frigid day, but apparently the very old, like the very young, are not to be trusted in matters of judgment. After the doctor listened to my chest, a studied sympathy filled his eyes and he gently suggested that perhaps I should get my affairs in order. No doubt he wondered at my smile for he couldn’t have known I have no affairs other than my memories and the emotions they engender.
Unlike most elderly persons, I don’t revel in slogging through the past. It isn’t wrapped in pretty ribbons or surrounded by a golden aura. Instead, its voices haunt my dreams, demanding and accusatory. Until recently, I’ve resisted their intrusion into my waking life, but I now believe the past can no longer remain buried in nocturnal visions. It must be brought out into the light of day. From its earliest moments onward, the past’s substance must be gouged out, pulled apart, and examined bit by bit until its truth is exposed. While total objectivity may not be possible, I have concluded that committing the past to paper is my best hope for sorting facts from imaginings. Perhaps then I will achieve the peace that has so long hidden its face from me.
You see, when I was quite young—only a girl really—I killed four people. Two were dearly beloved, one was a hated enemy, and the last was a dangerous criminal.


Books by Linda Pennell
Al Capone at the Blanche Hotel now available from Soul Mate Publishing and
Where to find Linda: