A Must Read: Becoming Lili, by Julia Blake


Julia Blake has crafted a story, not only rich in details, but equally rich in the characters you wish were your friends. The story begins as a coming of age story of a lonely young girl neglected by her self-obsessed parents, and who suffered unimaginable bullying at school. The one constant good thing in the girl’s life was her grandmother who gave her the love she so desperately needed. When her grandmother dies, she bequeaths her considerable fortune and her beautiful old home to her granddaughter. This is the catalyst that jump starts the girl on her road to transformation.

However, it would take more than money for this lonely girl to begin to believe in herself. It was a vision, a moment out of time, that Phyllis glimpsed what her future self could be. From that moment on, she steadfastly went about changing herself into the vision she’d glimpsed. And that future girl’s name was Lili. Lili was elegant, self-assured and surrounded by dear friends.

Her own lonely, beleaguered past filled the new Lili with insight into others’ desires and loneliness. Like a magnet, Lili drew these disparate people to her. Their problems, loves and trials became hers. And they became devoted to her. They became the family she never had.

One night, at an engagement party for a friend, Lili meets a man who she instantly feels is the love of her life. She is crushed to find him already married. Lili has never had a boyfriend, never been in love, yet she loves this man with a woman’s heart. She tried to forget him, though time and circumstance brought them together again and again. Their mutual attraction binds them, yet Lili refuses to be the catalyst that destroys a marriage, even a marriage that is hollow and full of lies.

This is a remarkable story of love and sacrifice; a story of friends who become a family; a story of love lost and found again. This is the kind of story that resonates long after the last word is read. I totally fell in love with this wonderful novel. It’s the kind of novel you will read again and again.


How to Write Unforgettable Endings

How to write endings


Five Rules for Choosing an Ending:

1-An ending should seem inevitable without seeming predictable

2-An ending should be satisfying to the reader, that is, it makes sense.

3-An ending should be unforgettable.

4-An ending is not about what happens, but how it happens. Loose ends should be resolved in a meaningful way.

5-The ending should illuminate the context and characters in the story.

How to Choose an Ending:

Writers spend hours if not days agonizing over how to end a novel, when basically, there are only 5 possible endings! This is based on your protagonist being happy, unhappy or have changed what he or she wanted or didn’t want.

1-Happy: The protagonists sets out to accomplish what she desires and succeeds. She’s happy.

2-Unhappy: The protagonist gets what she wants but decides it doesn’t make her happy.

3-Happy: The protagonist doesn’t get what he wants. Still, he is happy because he got something unexpected, something he likes better.

4-Unhappy: The protagonist doesn’t get what she wants because of her own flaws. Such as, she doesn’t realize until it is too late what she has lost forever, her true love.

5-Neither happy or unhappy: The protagonist changes his mind about what he wants and is content to keep searching for what he wants, or sacrifices what he wants for someone, or something else.

Endings to Avoid at all Costs:

1-The No-ending Ending: This is when the story ends without explanation. The writer makes the reader guess. Ugh. No one likes this ending.

2-The Twilight Zone Ending: The writer doesn’t compose an ending that evolves out of conflicts the characters face; instead, the writer slaps on a twist ending, a contrivance.

Synopsis from Fiction First Aid, by Raymond Obstfeld



Blackbirch, The Beginning, a new and thrilling YA series by KM Allan

Mystery abounds in this fresh and exciting YA novel, which is the first book in the series to come.  Young Josh Taylor has been sent to live in the town of Blackbirch with his mother’s best friend, after the car accident that took his parents’ lives. Part of the mystery is that Josh suffers from a sort of amnesia which keeps much of his memories hazy.  Though he doesn’t know why.

Blackbirch is a touristy town that heralds a reputation of being a location for witchcraft and magick.  His mother’s friend, Grace, owns a store dealing in spell books, candles, herbs and other magical items.  Eve, who believes in magick, and Sarah, who doesn’t, are Josh’s friends. Josh doesn’t pay attention to any of it until he touches a magical item and then power he doesn’t understand shoots through him.

To add to these circumstances, a girl named Kallie, who only comes to him in his dreams, warns him of impending danger and a sinister presence. Josh is driven to find the answers to his questions. And some mysterious force keeps drawing him deep into the woods toward a house that he’s told doesn’t exist. The mysteries keep mounting. What really happened to his parents? What caused the car accident. Why can’t he remember so many things. Who can he trust?

The world building is terrific. Blackbirch is a town we’d all be fascinated by, a place we’d all want visit.  The books ends with us needing to read the next in the series to get our own questions answered. This is a clean, and a true young adult book, though all ages will enjoy the premise. KM Allan has crafted an intriguing and mysterious story with more to come.

Life With a Small Dog, Doggerel

Five stars for this wonderful foray into the world of a dog with its human.  Sue Vincent, the human in question, carves rhyming sentences into sweet and often comic vignettes.

I’m a dog lover so I was drawn to a book all about Ani, a photogenic doggy.  I love all of her incredible expressions. What’s more amazing is Ani’s story is done entirely in verse, rhyming  verse, no less. It’s a delightful read all about Ani and her human’s daily adventures. If you are a dog lover, like me, you’ll want to read this well told story.

Happy  Doggerel reading.

On The Craft: Exploring Themes and Symbols

Exploring Story Themes & Symbols

Another element of a story is its Theme

Simply put, the Theme is why the plot happens.

Theme can take a story from the commonplace to the extraordinary.

Theme is the exploration and understanding of emotions that impact both the characters and the reader on a universal level.

Breaking down Themes: Beyond the personal, emotional level.

Theme as defined by Fiction First Aid, Raymond Obstfeld

  • Plot is what happens
  • Character is whom the plot happens to
  • Theme is why the plot happens

A Universal Theme impacts the reader on an intellectual level which may stimulate the reader to examine his/her own view of self or the world at large.

A Universal Theme patterns the plot in a way that has something in common with readers: love, desire, hope, relationships, fear and death.

→Stories that arouse only emotion are Melodramas which tend to be superficial, not memorable. The reader may feel manipulated.

Exploring Story Symbols

Symbolism is a method by which the writer weaves the thread of the theme throughout the story by using one or more symbols. Sometimes writers refer to a reoccurring symbol as a ferryman, something that carries the writer through the story.

Symbols, used effectively, raise the level of a theme. Symbols can infuse the story with nuance and texture. However, the overuse of symbols can become problematic. Again, the reader may feel manipulated.

Breaking down Symbols:

  • Environmental Symbols: The writer uses, or references weather, terrain or geographical symbols to show chaos, upheaval, serenity, etc.
  • Animal Symbols: The writer uses animal behaviors to relate to human instincts and behaviors.
  • Homage: Here the writer openly references a well-known plot. The reader is informed the structure will be similar as the writer overlays a different story but in the same vein: satire, mythical, comedic etc.
  • Character Names: The writer references the obvious by using Biblical names, Literary names, or names from Greek and Roman mythology.
  • Title: The writer may use quotes from important literary works, the Bible, songs or art.
  • Settings: Big or small bodies of water, rivers, streams. Wooded areas, mountains, forests, Deserts, etc. Places of business, educational, governmental or geographical or even picket fences.
  • Objects: Household items, foods, clothing, vehicles, books, etc.

An artfully incorporated theme unifies the plot elements.

The depth of the story is enhanced by its theme and its symbols

~ ~ ~


#Writephoto Realm of Dreams in Haiku’s

I am beckoned

Into the realm of dreams

where visions await

      * * *

Here castles of yore

Where their mysteries unfold

Yearning, I follow

* * *

Oh, candle so bright

show me with your knowing light

my heart’s desire

* * *

Unbroken lines

of loves lost to memory

here to remember










For Ani’s Advent Calendar

Though I may not have a tail,

I do have a tale to tell

It’s fur Ani’s Advent Calendar, and well

I think that’s swell.

So here’ my story to tell:

Once upon a Christmas night

beneath a tree so bright

there was an unexpected sight

that gave me quite a fright

between and betwixt

a mound of ribbon and bows

there arose, a button nose

and a pinkish tongue

that quite suddenly, sprung

into my arms . . .

she was brown and white

and such a delight

I named her Wiggles

because she made me giggle

I knew one day

she would go away

yet, even after all these years

she still remains

that sweet little doggy

who stole my heart