Guest Blogger, Adam Durnham, on Writing

How to Improve Your Creative Writing Skills by Adam Durnham

Creative pieces are usually meant to entertain, but since readers often want more than mere entertainment, they expect literary pieces to challenge the mind and tickle the imagination. For some, writing or reading literary pieces could also be a form of art therapy.
Though these standards are quite simple, they may put more pressure on writers. The more advanced readers are, the higher the standards they set for the authors’ literary pieces.
Here are four tips that can help people improve their creative writing skills:
Do not underestimate your readers’ ability to understand and imagine
Leave room for your readers to imagine the back story, the motivation of the characters, and the exposition (the elements that explain the story). You don’t have to reveal all of these in graphic detail all at once. You can give clues or foreshadow some events in the story, but be careful about revealing every element at the start of the piece. Let your readers use their imaginations and formulate theories.
Identify the key points of your story, specifically taking note of the following:
i. What is the main goal of your protagonist? Try to create a protagonist who is interesting or unique in some way.
ii. What are the relevant actions your protagonist takes towards the completion of his or her goal? The protagonist of the story could make conscious decisions that drive and direct the entirety of the story.
iii. What are some unexpected outcomes of the protagonist’s decision(s)?
iv. What are some details related to the literary piece’s setting, tone, and dialogue that can help you reveal the story to the readers?
v. What is the climax of the story?
vi. Will readers find any morals from the story?
vii. How will the story end?
Pay attention to character development
To create realistic, multifaceted characters, it is important to understand and describe characters. To help you develop your characters, consider examining one or more of the following details:
● Name
● Age
● Appearance
● Family and relationships
● Ethnicity
● Drinking habits
● Likes and dislikes
● Strengths and faults
● Illnesses
● Hobbies
● Pets
● Phobias
● Religion
● Job
● Residence
● Sleep patterns
● Nervous gestures
● Secrets
● Memories
● Temperament

Including such details can make it easier to define your characters. They can help you mold your characters, build storylines, and create dialogue. You might want to consider

● Appearance: Create a visual understanding for your readers so that they can vividly imagine what the characters look like.
● Action: Instead of simply listing adjectives to define characters, describe the characters’ actions to tell your readers what the characters do and what they’re like.
● Speech: Don’t kill the story’s momentum by explaining the plot in great detail. Instead, try to reveal the plot through your characters and their dialogue.
● Thought: Show your readers how your characters think. Show them the characters’ hopes, fears, and memories.
Create a great plot
A story plot tells us what happens in the story. Writers establish situations, identify the story’s turning points, and determine the fate of each character.
Plots are the sequence of events arranged by the writer that reveal the story’s emotional, thematic, and dramatic significance. To create a great plot, it is important to understand the following elements of the story:
● Hook: The stirring or gripping problem or event that catches readers’ attention.
● Conflict: A clash between characters and their internal selves, or between different characters, or even between characters and external forces.
● Exposition: The back story or background information about the characters and how this background information relates to the rest of the story.
● Complication: A problem or set of challenges that the characters face that make it difficult to accomplish their goals.
● Transition: Dialogue, symbols, or images that link one part of the story to another.
● Flashback: Something that occurs in the past, before the current events of the story.
● Climax: The peak of the story.
● Denouement: The story’s falling action or the release of the action that occurs after the climax.
● Resolution: The solution of the external or internal conflict.

Writing can be challenging if you don’t know the techniques. It can be a form of art or art therapy if you come to master it. Techniques and tips can help you build the literary skill you need. Practicing them can give you the experience to produce creative, well-crafted work.

MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   December:  Jayne Ann Krentz (Amanda Quick)  January: Molly Gloss.  February: Rick Lenz, March: Patrick Canning and April: Poet, Joe Albanese
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New Journal for Your Baby & You

   My Baby & Me ~~~  A Journal for new Mommies and Moms-to-be


This journal is for you, Mother-to-Be. To write your thoughts and your feelings for your unborn child. Maybe write a few letters to your baby.

Pregnant women and new mothers inspired this author to create a journal just for them. To record their thoughts and dreams. What they first thought when they found out they were pregnant. What they experienced when they first felt their baby move. What the mother thought when she held her baby for the first time. There are wonderful quotes about pregnancy and motherhood on each page. There are pages where the mother can write letters to her unborn child. Two hundred-fifty+ lined blank pages just for you, Mom.

Great Gift idea!!

Available at all Book stores and online



MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   October: Alretha Thomas. November: Joe English. December:  Jayne Ann Krentz (Amanda Quick)  January: Molly Gloss and February:  Patrick Canning.
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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….

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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.

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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.)    

Chuck Lorre…Vanity Blog (The Big Bang Theory)

writing, blogs, blogger, comedy, Chuck Lorre, iconic televisionChuck Lorre, creator of The Big Bang Theory, (Young Sheldon, Mike & Molly, and Two and a Half Men and numerous movies) has been writing vanity blogs way before the word ‘blog‘ was coined.  If you have a ‘pause’ button on your remote, it’s certainly worth a read. It appears at the very end of each episode, after the credits and ‘Coming next week‘ stuff. 


“When I was a little boy I was constantly worried about myself and my family being killed by an atom bomb. Air raid drills and hiding in underground shelters were an almost daily part of my young life. (Remove all pens, pencils and sharp objects from your breast pocket, take off your glasses, look away from the window, find a buddy, hold hands, no talking, walk quickly to the basement, get on your knees, place your head against the wall, wait for the all-clear signal, hope the teacher forgets about the arithmetic test you didn’t study for.) Looking back, it was a ridiculously traumatic way to grow up. But like so many awful things, you got used to it. The fear of instant annihilation was just always there, lurking in the background. Until it wasn’t. Somehow, over time, the inevitability of the mushroom cloud simply went away. Wise and prudent men in our country and others, found a better way to exercise their hatred and fear of each other’s social and economic system. Until now. Now the wise and prudent men are no more, and the unthinkable is back on the table. Death and suffering on an unimaginable scale is once again an option. The low drumbeat of existential dread has returned, and I find myself thinking odd thoughts, like: “I hope someone reminds him that he can’t play golf in a Hazmat suit.”

And now, as if his brilliance couldn’t reach higher heights, there’s spin-off show when Sheldon was a kid living in conservative, Bible-belt, Texas. If you love Sheldon in Big Bang, and we all do, you will adore this nerdy little kid (played by Iain Armitage) who’s smarter than anyone in his ‘little kid orb’.  It might take you a show or two to realize the clever, subtle writing in this show when it appears to be so broad and red-neck, but trust me it really is our adored (grown-up) Sheldon as a kid.
My second favorite actor is the Mom, Mary. Played by Zoe Perry you’d swear it was Laurie Metcalf (Sheldon’s grownup Mom) when she was younger.  And then there’s Annie Potts. Remember her from Designing Women and Ghost Busters? She’s back as Sheldon’s Memaw (grandmother) and is a riot!!!

But I digress, just a little bit. Chuck Lorre’s vanity cards aka blog: I will never come close to his writing talent. But I can try. I can encourage others to try. And I can simply sit back and enjoy Lorre’s genius just for the sake of genius! 

MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   Did you miss the past few months?    December: British writer, J.G. Dow. January: Sue Grafton ~ In Memory
                                         Check out more Motivational Moments…for Writers!

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Think Dog Think by James Offord (Guest Blogger)


TS. Those who know this blogger well know that I LOVE dogs!  I rescue and adopt older dogs (only) as they have little chance of finding a fur-ever home. When this ‘guest blog’ opportunity came up, I jumped on it.  What a wonderful and fascinating story!

Why “Think dog think”?   by James Offord


This is my first ever blog, sat here with a cold one contemplating how to express myself in the alien world of the blog. To write a piece to explain enough to peak your interest but vague enough so you feel compelled to read my book. It came about from an enjoyment of working with dogs and I always wanted to write a book.

 I was asked to do a presentation for work and I realised that the subject I know most about and talk most about was Hooch and my career as a Security Dog Handler and how the training and behaviours resembled our own. I have been asked many questions about Hooch and I realised that people would like to hear about our adventures.

 So I put pen to paper to write the presentation. My love for dogs ignited a presentation but I was thoroughly enjoying writing the book. It became a very cleansing process for me, talking about my adventures and my grief became a way of processing memories.

I was lucky enough to have worked for some quite remarkable people, from Russian billionaires to well-known celebrities.  The roles I had were interesting and varied. It came with highs of working on hundred acre golf courses to securing drying cement for a local council constructing a park. I worked Sikh festivals, Lord Mayor shows, secured an event for the Chinese ambassador and the Duke of York. I even looked after a statue of an Anchor once for a gentleman that I never met or even saw.




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“All of my dogs have been rescues, it is great work. In fact a friend of mine runs a rescue SSDR (Saint Sled Dog Rescue) Huskies and Malamutes and it is a thankless task. My dream would be if my book takes off to offer a percentage to them because they are always struggling.” ~~ JO

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.
                                         Check out more Motivational Moments…for Writers!

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Guest Blog from Best Selling Author, Jodi Thomas (Small)How to Jump Start a Writer’s Day ~~ My Guest Blogger, Author, Jodi Thomas

‘ As I was saying in Trisha’s Motivational Moments for Writers: The hardest thing a writer does each day is sitting down to work.  In 28 years as a working writer I’ve published 45 books and 13 novellas.  The hardest thing wasn’t learning to write, but learning to managing time. I picked up a few tricks but it is still the dragon I fight every day.

First, remember this is your job.  If you worked in an office or taught school you wouldn’t stop and answer every friend’s call.  So leave the phone in the kitchen or garage.  You’re at work.  One phone call might not knock you out of fiction, but the third one might.

Second, build your nest.  I find this makes it easy for me to step into fiction.  It doesn’t matter if your nest is in a secret room in the attic or a small desk in a hotel room, it needs to be your nest.

I usually start with a notebook.  My facts book, my bible for the series.  It includes all characters’ names and basic facts.  Maps of the area—if you’re making up a town, make up the map.    Sometimes pages of research like maps of the area or dates that need to be considered.  If you’re writing about a time in history you need to be aware of what was happening on that day in history.  If Lincoln was shot or 9/11 happened your fictional characters need to react. Continue reading “Guest Blog from Best Selling Author, Jodi Thomas”

10 Steps to Becoming a Better Writer

image of 10 Steps to Becoming a Better Writer PosterCompliments of Brian Clark, CEO of Copyblogger

This is so true!  I bang out stuff that never sees the light of day.   I vent on a new post that I never publish.  I keep post-it note pads everywhere in the house so that if I get an idea (some good, some not so much) I can jot it down.  My most valuable post-it note pad is by my bedside because frequently I write in my head in a dream-like state and too lazy to turn on the light, grab paper and pen, I say to myself, ‘oh, I’ll remember this when I wake up’ I never do and IT IS GONE FOREVER!

In the middle of the night I ‘dreamed’ a single line for a poem I was working on…..“an overachiever  dips into the nectar….” and yes, I turned on the light and wrote it down.  When I awoke in the morning the only thing I remembered was that I had a terrific line for my poetry but had no idea what it was.  Fortunately there it was by my bedside.

“Write When You Don’t”….I tend to marinate.  Continue reading “10 Steps to Becoming a Better Writer”

Nostalgia…through the wringer

Laundry (Small) Wash day  I just put a load of laundry in to my 21st century machine that wants to know my every wish for the perfect wash.  What temperature do I want? hot? cold? energy saver? Or perhaps cool?  One rinse or two? How long do I want to wash my semi-dirty clothes?  Do I want to wash them gently or harshly?

As I loaded my machine, one sweater would not sink into the energy-saving, cool, one rinse, water and for a second I looked around my (oh so very pleasant), laundry room for my ‘stick’.  Do you remember the stick your mother used to push down the clothes into the wringer washing machine?  Made of wood and  squeaky clean the stick was used only for that purpose;  pushing down clothes into the water and Tide detergent. I think ours was the old handle from a toilet plunger.  And, in the case of my mother, hell would rain down if you borrowed that stick for any other purpose. Continue reading “Nostalgia…through the wringer”

Have you worked with an illustrator yet? Here are 12 Tips

Working successfully with an illustrator   I have used several artists, depending upon the project.  I have had wonderful response from my illustrators (free-lance) and as a team we get the job done!
David White has done several covers for me, most prominent and recent the newest in the World of Murder series.

The illustrator for my children’s books is brilliant in a different way.  He reads the story as I write it with clear instructions (from me) on where I want the illustrations placed in my story book.  Then he creates all these different perspectives that I would never have dreamed about.  They are truly wonderful.

So I thought I would share these tips, with you, about working with another artist.  Hopefully they are helpful as you work with your ‘image-maker’.

Tip #1:  Be patient.

Tip #2: They are artists, much like you, so they are sensitive about their art.

Tip #3:  Don’t push them; they have a time-table that might not be yours.  I do state my time-table in the beginning of a project and get some assurance that they will try to meet it.

Tip #4: Be patient.

Tip #5: Be certain that you give them at least two credits in your publication, book or script. I routinely credit them on the back (exterior) cover and on one of the first pages in the book.

Tip #6:  Pay them the most that you can budget.  Remember the old adage: ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’.

Tip #7:  Because I am on a budget; I state my rates (per size of image) right up front.  Be honest.

Tip #8: Be patient.

Tip #9:  Don’t be afraid to use students at an art school.  I have used them (or graduates) from the Savannah College of Art and Design.  They are fresh, have the newest technology, and are the most excited by the project.  Do I occasionally meet a ‘prima dona’?  Who, without any work history, without any credits of any kind, without any life experience, behaves as if they work for a big city design firm, expecting top dollar and……. are confused when you don’t see it that way. (sigh) Yes,  I have!

Tip #10: Try to be as clear as you can on what you want in the image.  Don’t be afraid to tweak the work as you and your illustrator work together.  My illustrators appreciate the second set of eyes.Journal for Creative Writers

Tip #11: Pay the illustrator promptly.  As I have my illustrator working as I write; when I receive final images I pay him as we go along.  I don’t make them wait until the project is finished to be paid.

Tip #12: Be patient.

E. Van Johnson will be our January author!

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World of Murder True Crime Series, The Reviews are In!!

  ‘Beneath the Bridge of Murder (Book 6 in the ‘World of Murder’ series) just goes to prove
several things: that a series of murder mysteries can each successfully hone very different settings, characters, and circumstances that join neatly together under a universal theme; and that an ability to build tight,
unpredictable characters is possible across a number of series titles, if the author is as skilled as Trisha Sugarek.

This mystery opens on the seedier side of life, with a homeless man who approaches an affluent couple on
the streets of New York and a civilian militia company member who rescues them from his unwanted attentions.

A prelude to the story then changes in the first chapter, which presents a closer inspection of homeless life under a
bridge; a setting which quickly evolves to a senseless murder that’s tied to the prologue.

Enter detectives O’Roarke and Garcia. Cops called upon to investigate the murder of a homeless man.  Beneath the Bridge of Murder uses many of the satisfying devices of Trisha Sugarek’s previous murder mysteries: solid characters, twisting stories,motivations that are anything but cut-and-dried, and a plot that, here,involves vigilante purposes and homeless issues.  It’s is a powerful true crime mystery that creates many disparate threads at first, but succeeds in weaving them together with the story of detectives O’Roarke and Garcia’s personal lives and concerns.    The series just keeps evolving and, cemented by these detectives’ personalities and approaches, keeps on getting better and better.It’s not easy creating book after book that both stand alone and interact well as a series. The ‘World of Murder’ series does just that, and its latest addition is a winning recommendation for both newcomers and prior Sugarek fans.‘ Midwest Book Review

Taste of Murder is Book 5 in Sugarek’s ‘World of Murder’ series (previously acclaimed by this reviewer as a tight, compelling series that builds powerful scenarios and believable protagonists) and is especially recommended for prior fans of the books who want a continuation of the same successful devices employed in the previous titles: emotion-driven protagonists and a whodunit scenario that puzzles readers as much as the characters doing the investigating.

With its dash of romance, culinary-based intrigue, and a New York City setting, The Taste of Murder is as riveting as its predecessors and offers much to newcomers as well as prior fans. And having the subject be a culinary competition mystery is perfect timing, by the way, given current TV viewer interest in cooking show competitions

Fans of mysteries in general will find Taste of Murder holds all the trappings of a good yarn, tightly bound with the personalities and motivations of the two investigators themselves. While old fans will find O’Roarke and Garcia’s methods familiar (and just as engrossing as in prior books), newcomers will find this book also stands well alone and assumes no prior knowledge of protagonists and past events to prove a satisfying, compelling mystery read.’ ~Diane Donovan, Senior Book Reviewer, Midwest Book Review 

new.cover. angelofmurder_COVERREVIEW~~The Angel of Murder, Book 4 in the series, The World of Murder
Midwest Book Review~~  “…It takes a tightrope artist of a writer to create chapters that successfully delve into a killer’s thoughts without revealing his identity in the process, but Sugarek achieves this with a dance of introspection that reveals a killer’s …”

The Angel of Murder is Book Four in the ‘World of Murder’ sequence, and though it can easily be picked up by those with no prior familiarity with the series, it is (ideally) a choice for former fans of cops O’Roarke and Garcia, who face yet another puzzling murderer.  This serial killer is after children and leaves their bodies around New York, dressed up for communion.

If it’s one thing you can say about the murder mystery genre, it’s that it tends toward redundancy. It’s always about the crime, there are savvy investigators (either professional or unprofessional), motives tend to become clear as the plot thickens… and most of this is about as predictable as can be. In terms of a dance, it’s the type of ballet where the art lies more in conventional movement than surprising leaps of faith.

But the avid murder mystery fan keeps searching for those gems that offer something different, such as emotionally compelling and involving characters, events that don’t form linear patterns or move in logical, predictable paths, and conclusions that are satisfyingly unexpected. For this reader, The Angel of Murder is a winner.’ Midwest Book Review

‘Time for Cozie mysteries to move over and make room for another writer who should also become a
Queen of the Cozies;Trisha Sugarek.’  N.

Act of Murder~~ Act of Murder is Book 3 of ‘The World of Murder’ series, and continues to explore the partnership and investigative skills of Detectives O’Roarke and Garcia, who once again have a healthy list of suspects to choose from in a murder case: this one revolving around a much-hated Hollywood director. Now, one might expect that it’s better to have too many possibilities than not enough; but as with their past cases, the detectives find this isn’t true. The theater world is simply packed with suspects who not only have good motives for murder, but more than enough resources to pull it off.

As chapters progress, murder mystery fans are drawn into an ever-complex, changing story that holds not just too many perps, but many twists and turns of plot; especially when an attempted suicide reveals even more dubious connections. It’s a convoluted web of intrigue that emerges as  Act of Murder becomes darker and darker and the investigators draw ever closer to a deadly truth that may in fact wind up fingering the wrong perp.
 The story marches deftly to a gripping, unpredictable conclusion, involving murder mystery fans every step of the way.’ Midwest Book Review
DANCE OF MURDER  ~~~~  Midwest Book Review

‘Dance of Murder is Book 2 of ‘The World of Murder’ series and is recommended for fans of murder mysteries. It opens with murder cop Stella Garcia at her desk contemplating cleaning up another case in time to make her quota of resolved cases.  She’s solved many murder cases in her seven years on the job, and she and her partner O’Roarke, make a good team.

Some murder mysteries focus primarily on personalities and psychology while others focus nearly exclusively on sleuthing tactics. Much like a crossword puzzle,  Dance of Murder focuses on clues that successfully pair readers with Stella and O’Rourke’s thought processes as they work through a range of possibilities in their case. 

Dance of Murder offers a strong focus on problem-solving and sleuthing. This allows readers to test their own skills in piecing together the puzzle, and to become involved in a story line that focuses on eliminating suspects and arriving at truth.  With its swift assessments of possibilities and motivations, it’s a satisfying murder mystery that deftly captures the interactions between murder detectives and their professional and political challenges in solving crimes. Any murder mystery reader will find Dance of Murder a fast-paced, involving read.’

Brush with Murder is Book One in ‘The World of Murder’ series and tells of ‘Ben, a struggling, shy artist in Soho who admires his beautiful neighbor from afar, painting her image and dreaming about her. It all seems so innocent … until she’s murdered and the police turn up at his door, asking about his ‘obsession’ with his dream woman.  Now Ben is caught in a dangerous game he never asked for: one that involves proving his innocence against impossible odds.

 Brush with Murder is replete with emotionally-charged writing capturing not just the process of a murder investigation, but the emotions of all involved.  This focus differentiates Brush with Murder from other murder mystery approaches, adding a human element which, after all, is always a part of any murder scenario – but is too often under-explored in traditional murder mysteries.

 Billed as a ‘cozy’, this is a short, quick read; but don’t let that fool you. It’s also steeped in emotion, with a sensational cast of characters and interconnected circumstances that weave together to form a neat, involving story line with a tidy finish. The Art of Murder represents a satisfyingly rich story.’ ~~Midwest Book Review