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One Candle Can Light Another

Gary Swindell

One day a good friend called me; Gary was  a very accomplished pianist, guitarist and musical director. He was reading my book of poetry, Butterflies and Bullets. He went on to say that while reading my work he kept hearing music in his head. And could I give him permission to use my poetry for lyrics. What a compliment! He said he was especially taken with, “Hair-cut…Two Bits”, about a down-and-out cellist, gambler and barber in New Orleans.

Gary  had previously written a song based on my play, Scent of Magnolia (Billie Holiday).  The world lost a beautiful musician and friend this past December. 

We artists, regardless of what we do or what we write, should lift each other up whenever or wherever we can.  When I review a book I make certain that my review (if bad) lists helpful and constructive criticism and is never cruel. 

It is my hope that my posts relating to writing helps a new writer begin their journey in writing….and helps experienced writers learn something new. My hope is to light someone else’s candle of creativity.


My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    November: Ella Quinn, December: Lauren Willig,
January: Madeline Hunter, February: Mike Lupica 
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Interview with Author, Susan Wiggs (part 2)

Q. What first inspired you to write?

SW. It wasn’t an inspiration but a suspiration. Seriously, I thought everyone thought in stories and to me, it was as natural as breathing. I know this is true because I had a very patient mom who would write down my stories as I dictated them to her, because I was too young to read or write.

Q. What comes first to you? The Characters or the Situation?

SW. This varies from book to book. For The Oysterville Sewing Circle, the characters and situation are so entwined that they appeared concurrently on the page. Caroline, an aspiring designer, is not inherently interesting until we see her confronted with a situation of epic proportions—a shocking tragedy and the need to protect two small children. That sets the story in motion. I’m a sucker for stories about an ordinary person thrust into extraordinary circumstances he or she never expected.

Q. Do you ‘get lost’ in your writing?

Susan’s first novel

SW. I love when that happens! When the world of the story and the characters feel as real as life itself. The downside is, there are situations and characters that break my heart, as in The Oysterville Sewing Circle. I have to confess; I experienced a lot of anger when I was researching and writing this book. I hope I did justice to the women who shared their stories with me.

Q. Are you working on something now? If so tell us about it.

SW. I’m desperately trying to finish The Lost and Found Bookshop (Summer 2020), set in a vintage bookshop in historic San Francisco. The main character finds hidden artifacts in the old building that turn out to be clues to her family’s past.

Q. When did you begin to write seriously?

SW. I wrote my first novel while studying for my master’s degree at Harvard. I wrote it on a typewriter and it was probably awful but the experience was completely exhilarating, and I never looked back.

Q. How long after that were you published?

SW. A few years. I sold my first book in 1986 and it was published in 1987. My very first editor was Wendy McCurdy and we’re still friends to this day.

Q. Do you think we will see, in our lifetime, the total demise of paper books?

SW. No.

Q. How have your life experiences influenced your writing?

SW. It’s like holding up a distorted mirror. A character might reflect an old memory of mine (Caroline’s first love in The Oysterville Sewing Circle or the first time I learned to surf…) More importantly, my world view and heart are reflected in my writing. I believe in the fundamental kindness of humanity, the power of following your passion, and the absolute necessity of opening our hearts to one another.

Q. What’s your down time look like?

SW. Reading. And more writing. I also enjoy hiking, biking, and skiing. Spending time with my mom and granddaughter. They’re both named Clara, and my daughter Elizabeth.

Q. Have you or do you want to write in another genre`?

SW. Sure! I want to learn the craft of screenwriting, for sure. I keep wanting to write a mystery or thriller, but I’m too squeamish.

Note to Self: (a life lesson you’ve learned.)

SW. Probably one of the biggest life lessons came from The Oysterville Sewing Circle! Believe women. Believe your gut. If something doesn’t “feel” right, it’s not right. And if something’s not right, speak up. For some women, this takes enormous courage—but the rewards are boundless.

Did you miss Part I? Click here 

 My Review of The Oysterville Sewing Circle


MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   May: Boo Walker, June: Anne D. LeClaire and July — Catherine Ryan Hyde.  August:  My interview with Susan Wiggs and September: Alan Foster (sci-fi)
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What Other Writers are Saying…

TS. I am currently developing a new journal for creative writers who are or want to be writing plays. If my fans and readers are familiar with my journals, it is traditional for me to embed quotes from other writers, authors, actors, directors, etc., into the blank pages of the journal. These are meant to inspire the owner of the journal with their own story writing.

Louis L’Amour

So I am always looking for new quotes as I hand pick every one when considering them for my journals. Here are what other writers have said about the joys (and heartbreak) of being a writer.


“Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.” Louis L’Amour

“Write hard and clear about what hurts.” Ernest Hemingway 

Mary Y-Arr

“What would you write if you weren’t afraid?” Mary Y-Arr


“The thing all writers do best is find ways to avoid writing.” Alan Dean Foster

Alan Dean Foster

“You can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page.” Jodi Picoult

“The desire to write grows with writing.” Desiderius Erasmus

“I must write it all out at any cost. Writing is thinking. It is more than living, for it is being conscious of living.” Anne Morrow Lindbergh

“As a writer you try to listen to what others aren’t saying…and write about the silence.” N.R. Hart 

MJ Bush

“Step into a scene and let it drip from your fingertips.” MJ Bush 

“We write to taste life twice. In the moment and in retrospect.” Anais Nin

Anais Nin

“I think new writers are too worried that it has all been said before. Sure it has but not by you.” Asha Dornfest 

“An opening line should invite the reader to begin the story. It should say: Listen. Come in here. You want to know about this.” Stephen King

Stephen King

“Be courageous and try to write in a way that scares you a little.” Holley Gerth


MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   May: Boo Walker, June: Anne D. LeClaire and July — Catherine Ryan Hyde.  August: My interview with Susan Wiggs and in September: Alan Dean Foster (sci-fi)
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Celebrating Our Veterans on Their Day, 2019!

          Members of the military impacted my life in many ways. My life  was certainly changed by members of my family serving in the armed forces.  So what better time than on this Memorial Day to honor them….those who keep us SAFE and FREE!  And to honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for us and their country.


Gerald Guyer (cousin)   US Marines**WWI – gave his life in Normandy, France ** Son of Gladys; nephew of Violet, about whom I have written many stories.

W. Jay Woods

William Jay Woods (father)  US Navy ** WWII –   South Pacific – PTSD.  He met my mother in San Francisco, where she owned a bar and grill.  He returned from war  an alcoholic, experienced rages and had a parrot named Butch.

John Cable, ‘Dad’

Johnny Cable (step-father)  US Army/Infantry ** WWII Southern Pacific. Lost an eye, suffered from jungle rot and PTSD.  At five years of age I remember not being able to run in and jump on the bed in the mornings to wake up Daddy.  He would wake up ready to fight the ‘Japs’ and in those first few seconds he was back in the jungle.   He was a wonderful father but the horrors of the South Pacific battles were never far from the surface.
He later served on a ship in the Korean War as a meat cutter.  He was instrumental in serving the troops a HOT Thanksgiving dinner on the beach that year.

family histories, family secrets, story telling, writers

my mother, Violet

Violet Guyer (mother) US Armed Forces ** Wife, sister, and mother of members in the military.
My mother, who I write about, was auntie to Gerald.  She married Jay (active Navy) and Johnny (active Army) and was a military wife for two decades. She was mother to Jack (US Air Force) and Doris, (US Marines).

Brother Jack

Jack Borden (brother)  US Air Force ** Loaded B52 bombers – hot spots around the world – 20+ years of service.  My brother would come home from far away places like Germany, Iceland, Africa, Panama and because he  didn’t have a hometown girl, he would take me, his teenage sister, ballroom dancing.

Jack Henderson.  (first husband) US Air Force * While in the military, he was on a ship in the Pacific and


Robert Berry, Navy Seal

witnessed one of the first A-Bomb test explosions off Enewetak Atoll in the Marshall Islands.  

Robert Berry (second husband)   US Navy Seals, US Coast Guard ** 20+ years of service.  Robert was a Navy Seal, underwater demolition during the Viet Nam years.  He later served as a warrant officer aboard an icebreaker and was certified to scuba dive under the Arctic ice.



John Sugarek, Viet Nam

John Sugarek (husband)  US Marines ** Viet Nam –   John was my husband for 30 years. He was kind-hearted and funny and everyone loved him.  I witnessed two of his  flashbacks from battle in Viet Nam (twenty years later)  and he suffered, untreated, from PTSD. Partially due to the PTSD (I believe) he died at his own hand in 2006.  His fellow wounded warriors celebrate at the Whiskey Battery Reunion, once a year.marines


We are all grateful to our military for their unswerving bravery, service, and loyalty and we honor those who have come home, battered but alive.



MY BLOGS feature INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   Did you miss the past few months?    
                                         Check out more Motivational Moments…for Writers!

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Happy Father’s Day…..

Dear Dads and Grandads,

As you sit with your children or grandchildren today, eating Bar-B-Q or enjoying a picnic or having a traditional Sunday dinner with all the fixin’s….

Getty image

Look across the table at the little ones….now picture them torn away from your family/parents and segregated (by gender) and placed in concentration camps.  YOU don’t know where they are, you may not able to find them…ever.  Picture your six year-old daughter or granddaughter in a cage, alone, with 100 other little girls. Hard to imagine, huh?

Put ethnicity, skin color, legality aside for a moment. LOOK at your kids and picture them in concentration camps, locked up, defenseless…..alone. 

How does that feel?  What would your precious children be thinking? Feeling?  What level is their terror?


One news report stated that in order to get the children away from their parents, ICE told them the kids were being taken for ‘showers’.  That sent a chill up my back….at the German Camps the human line that was to be exterminated were told that was the line to go to the showers. But instead of water coming out of the nozzles, deadly gas was released.

Getty image

Read your history….this is how it all started in 1938 in Nazi Germany.

‘Once in power, Hitler moved quickly to end German democracy. (Sound familiar??) He convinced his cabinet to invoke emergency clauses of the constitution that permitted the suspension of individual freedoms of press, speech, and assembly. Special security forces — the Gestapo, the Storm Troopers (SA), and the SS — murdered or arrested leaders of opposition political parties (Communists, socialists, and liberals).’

Who’s next?  Your Jewish children? Your Asian children? Your Muslim children? Your Catholic kids?

My purpose, with this post, is to make the food STICK in YOUR THROAT!

 Is this our America?  A country built on the backs of Irish, Chinese, Japanese, Native Americans, Africans, Germans, Jews….all immigrants. With the exception of the Native Americans, there isn’t a person who lives in this country today who cannot trace their lineage back to ‘the old country’. We are all immigrants! Even our Beloved Leader, Herr Trump.

(I thought to myself: Gee, maybe I should apologize to my followers for digressing so far off my mission…to write about writing. But, no, I can’t. The idea of little precious children being placed in camps with an excellent possibility of never seeing their parents or siblings again STICKS in MY THROAT.)    

Motivational Moments…for Writers and their Partners #38


This was just tooo good not to share! As a writer, I will tell you that it’s good, no, great advice if you are involved with a writer.

Okay, all laughs aside….seriously….if you are the significant other to a writer you are one of my HEROES!!   When we are writing and you try to talk to us,  we are not being rude by not answering you, we don’t mean to be neglectful, we don’t mean to hurt your feelings.  We simply don’t hear you.….when we are deep into the zone we aren’t even in the same room or house with you…we are in the world of our story, if we are lucky.

This, in fact, is one of the questions I ask the authors that I interview. Do you ‘get lost’ in your writing and for how long? And they have all reported back that yes they get lost in the story and in their characters.

So if you give the writer in your life some slack, bring them a cup of coffee but don’t speak, quietly close the door to their ‘writing space’  you are a true supporter to that writer.


A blank piece of paper is God’s way of telling us how hard it to be God.”– Sidney Sheldon

My own experience is that once a story has been written, one has to cross out the beginning and the end. It is there that we authors do most of our lying.”
– Anton Chekhov

“I have been successful probably because I have always realized that I knew nothing about writing and have merely tried to tell an interesting story entertainingly.”
– Edgar Rice Burroughs

MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   March: Mystery (and Western) writer, Larry D. Sweazy.  April: International adventurer, writer, Tal Gur.  June: Manning Wolfe

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Did you like this tip?  See all 37 tips for writers in the book, How to Write Creatively

To Purchase




Honoring All Veterans, Fallen and Still Fighting!

Our politicians could take a page from the young men and women who are, TODAY, fighting for our country or defending smaller, weaker spots around the globe. Brave, honorable, honest, with integrity, they are making the world a better place.  Giving selflessly of their time, dedication to country, and sometimes their lives. 

I would like to honor and name the people in my family who have served.

Gerald Guyer  (WW1 Normandy)
William J. Woods (WW2, South Pacific)
John W. Cable (WW2, South Pacific)
Jack D. Borden (B52 Bombers/23 years USAF)
Doris B. Gill (US Marines) 
Jack Henderson (USAF Enowitach Bomb testing)
Robert Berry (Navy Seal. Korea, Vietnam)
  John W. Sugarek (US Marines, Vietnam)






For more stories

Just Published! I WANNA BE a WRITER, Journal and Handbook

‘A stunning new journal with more instruction and extra tips about writing fiction, stage plays, and poetry.’ Midwest Book Review

The newest in a series of Journals/Handbooks. For new and experienced writers alike, this Journal offers more instruction,
tips and more hand-picked quotes by other authors, actors, playwrights, philosophers, and poets. Meant to inspire the creative mind.  A handy size that will fit in a backpack or tote.  


How To Begin
How To Develop Exciting Characters
How To Tell A Story
How To Write a Stage Play
How To Write Poetry
How To Write Haiku Poetry


To purchase: click here 

MY BLOGS feature INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   Did you miss the past few months?    September: Dylan Callens.  October’s author was Donna Kauffman. In November we say hello to Rita Avaud a Najm. In December we will be saying hello to English mystery writer, J.G. Dow. 
                                         Check out more Motivational Moments…for Writers!

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 To Purchase 


Motivational Moments…for Writers! #32

        Discipline!   As you probably know I interview other writers, many of them best selling authors.  A constant theme among all of them is DISCIPLINE!

To be a writer, you must write. Every day. Even if it’s only for 15 minutes or an hour. Write every day.  Even if it’s crap. That’s what re-writes are about.
It’s what’s underneath that counts, which is usually just a fear of not being able to do it, or do it well, or being criticized, or a zillion other reasons not to write today. Or, simply not wanting to write badly enough–no solid motivation. Writers who procrastinate need to ask themselves why, try to get to the bottom of it. Sometimes people can try to make themselves do things they really, deep down, don’t want to do. Writing a book seems to be something everyone has on his/her bucket list, just “because.” If you really don’t want to do it, then don’t.

If anyone told you writing is easy they were lying. Writing is hard work and not for the faint hearted!

Dean Koontz told me in his Interview: ‘ I don’t suffer from procrastination because I love the English language and the process of storytelling, and I’m always curious to see what will come to me next. If you procrastinate a lot, you might be one who loves having written, but doesn’t so much like writing.’

‘We must all suffer one of two things: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret or disappointment.’ ~~ Jim Rohnwriting, blogs, authors, creating,writers


‘Any man who keeps working is not a failure. He may not be a great writer, but if he applies the old-fashioned virtues of hard, constant labor, he’ll eventually make some kind of career for himself as writer.’– Ray Bradbury

Not that the story need be long, but it will take a long while to make it short.’ – Henry David Thoreau

MY BLOGS feature INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   Did you miss the past few months?     Johan Thompson (South African author)  joined us in April.   June: Mehreen Ahmed.  July: Janet Macleod Trotter, author of Tea Planter’s Daughter and in August we say ‘hello’ to Cheryl Hollon.
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Like an Animal, You Have to Lay Down and Wait…

Charles Bukowski, writing, creating, writers  I posted this several years ago and it bears repeating:

I had not worked on my latest novel (#9) for several days and I was getting itchy.  I have learned that it’s okay…not to write. 

I have several good ideas rattling around in the ‘attic’ and I am reading voraciously and posting on my blog.  It’s a recurring theme, from me to my readers,  about not forcing it, not to beat yourself up because it is not coming.

Summers are hot and humid here and not my favorite weather so I spend a lot of time indoors.  I spent this summer with the man in my life…poet, Charles ‘Hank’ Bukowski.  God!  I love his genius!  And the best thing about having an imaginary playmate is that they always agree with you.    He wrote this beautiful metaphor about laying down and waiting for the inspiration and creativity to come to you.

And you know what?  This can apply to how you live your life too.  Don’t push it!  Wait!  Be patient and good things will come.

in the center of the action (c)
by Charles Bukowski

you have to lay down like an animal
until it charges,  you
have to lay down
in the center of the action

lay down and wait until it charges
then you must get up
face it, get it
before it gets you

the whole process is more
shy than
vulnerable so

lay down and wait sometimes it’s
ten minutes sometimes it’s years sometimes it
never arrives but you can’t rush it push itfamous quotes, famous writers, Bukowski, Churchill, famous men
there’s no way to cheat or get a
jump on it you have to

lay down
lay down and wait like
an animal.

MY BLOGS feature INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   Did you miss the past few months?    July: Janet Macleod Trotter, author of Tea Planter’s Daughter and in August we said ‘hello’ to Cheryl Hollon.   September: Dylan Callens and October’s author will be Donna Kauffman. 
                                         Check out more Motivational Moments…for Writers!

To receive my posts sign up for my blog, blogs, blogger, writer, author, playwright, books, plays,fiction  On the home page, enter your email address.  Thanks!