Interview with local author of The Thinking Machine, Ben Van Dongen

You may already know Ben Van Dongen from Adventure Worlds Press. He’s the other half of the collection of science fiction short stories in No Light Tomorrow, and one third of the crime fiction stories in All These Crooked Streets. Now, he’s written a pocket-sized sci-fi novella entitled, The Thinking Machine.

The Thinking Machine

The Thinking Machine

A Man and a Monster with the Same Name

In a city that spans most of the eastern seaboard, there is a creature that used to be a man. A stranger, from the shrinking wilds of the north, is called by a spirit to enter the city and destroy the abomination. The thing that shares his name. Zed.

We thought we’d ask Ben a few questions in light of his new release;

Hi Ben, what’s your ideal writing spot?

I do my best writing out of the house, often at a cafe. I go to Anchor Coffee house every day I can to get some writing done. Tim’s if Anchor isn’t open.

How Canadian of you! For our non-Canadian readers, Tim’s is shorthand for Tim Hortons, a very famous Canadian coffee shop franchise. In your opinion what’s the hardest part of writing?

The hardest part is likely a tie between starting and finishing. I tend to struggle often when I sit down to write. Sometimes I fight my way through a couple sentences before things start flowing, sometimes I take a good half hour of faffing about before I can focus. Once I get going, I am good, but starting is a grind. As for finishing, it’s usually at the point where I’m spending more time imagining the next story throughout a day than the one that needs to be finished. It takes some discipline to stay focused and power through to the end. There may be something about reaching the end of a story and not feeling like I’ve accomplished everything I set out to do, or really captured the original idea, but I’m not ready to unpack that feeling, so I’ll say it’s thinking about the next story.

Are there other books or media that you try and emulate or take inspiration from?

I get a lot of inspiration from 80s science fiction movies. I started out as a movie fanatic before discovering books. The visual elements of my stories often have some inspiration from those films. Philip K. Dick is someone who I try to, not emulate, but maybe keep in mind when I write. He was an idea focused writer and that is what first caught my attention with reading a writing. I try to make sure my ideas have something novel to them and that I don’t lose the story (or that idea) in the description or drama.

I’m also hugely inspired by music. I’m the kind of person who always has to have some music playing when I’m not doing something that precludes it (say working at the day job or watching a movie). I take a lot of time (probably too much if you look at my answer to the second question) picking out what to listen to each time I sit down to write.

Tell us a little bit about your novella, The Thinking Machine.

It’s part of an interconnected series. I tried to write something fun, fast, and with a strong idea pulling the plot along. To clarify, the idea is really a question about what makes us human, and when will technology change the definition?

Would you say you write ‘what you know’ or do you create ‘pure fancy’?

I write what I think about. Since I mostly write science fiction, there is a mix of fantasy and some science or technology rooted in reality. Sometimes that science and tech is an extrapolation I make from current theories, so I make up aspects or ignore limitations for the sake of the fantasy, but I try to have some idea of what I’m talking about. For my last story, the novella in the Crime Anthology All These Crooked Streets, I used what little I new about photography and did some research to fill in any gaps. I didn’t study photography for the sake of the story, just grounded it in some kind of reality. It’s the same with my science fiction. In The Thinking Machine, I too some current cutting edge technology, (like prosthetic eyes) and made the implants. I’m no expert in computer aided prosthetic, but I wanted to give the technology of the story some kind of realistic origin. So, my long winded cop-out answer is both.

20180311 Ben Van Dogen

Ben Van Dongen grew up in Windsor Ontario. He likes to think that if he tried harder he could have been an Astronaut, but he is happier writing science fiction anyway. He co-authored the books No Light Tomorrow and All These Crooked streets, and is one half of the founding team of Adventure Worlds Press. His newest book, The Thinking Machine, a cyberpunk novella, is out now.

You can read more of his crazy notions on his website:

Or connect with Ben:


An Interview with YA author, Sharon Ledwith

You may already know Sharon Ledwith. She’s an author, a time traveler, a psychic, and a super sleuth. And we’ve published all of her books, because they’re awesome.

If you haven’t checked out Sharon Ledwith’s work yet, you should. She’s the author of not one, but two great young adult series. The first is The Last Timekeepers time travel series, which tells the story of five teens and two adults as they travel through time to keep history safe from an evil force. Here’s a list of the books in that series, along with links to where you can pick them up or read more about them:

The Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantis

The Last Timekeepers and the Dark Secret

Legend of the Timekeepers (prequel) 

Her newest series is about teen psychics who find themselves in a small northern tourist town where nothing much ever happens – until it does. The Mysterious Tales of Fairy Falls includes:


Lost and Found

and coming soon, Blackflies and Blueberries

So, as a part of a local blog tour, I’ve invited Sharon Ledwith to join us and tell us a bit about herself, her books, and her writing process. Here goes:


Why did you choose to write about teen psychics?

I’ve always been intrigued with the supernatural (blame Scooby Doo for that) and psychic abilities, since I was a kid. Of course we all have psychic abilities at some level, some stronger than others, but your intuition is always available to you. I must have listened to my intuition when I came up with the idea of writing Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls teen psychic mysteries, and followed through on it. Since I was already writing a young adult time travel adventure series, it was a no brainer for me to write in this genre.

While planning this five book series, I choose certain psychic gifts that appealed to me or I would have loved to have possessed. Gifts like being able to communicate with animals (Book One), having psychometry—the power to read an inanimate object and getting its history from it (Book Two), possessing psychokinesis—the mind over matter ability to bend or move objects at will (Book Three), manipulating nature through Druidic hereditary powers (Book Four), and the ability to stop the flow of blood and heal (Book Five). Then, I created an out-of-the-way tourist town named Fairy Falls, and uprooted my suffering psychic teenage characters, forcing them to live in this small, boring town where nothing much happens. Until something does. Welcome to Fairy Falls. Expect the unexpected.

We all know you’re a planner, but how long does it take you to write your first draft once you’ve begun?

Oh, Lord it varies! I give myself a year to eighteen months (that includes the research). But depending on the book and subject matter, it may take a little longer. I truly believe that slow and steady progress assures success, and know I’m in for the long haul in this business. My goal is to publish a book and write a book in a year. That way, I can easily (says with tongue-in-cheek) juggle both my young adult series, The Last Timekeepers and Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls.

Who’s your favourite side character in Fairy Falls and why?

Side character? Hmm. Actually, that’s easy. Louis, a Rottweiler mix who is actually based on a real-life dog I had the pleasure of caring for at the animal shelter I used to work for as an animal care attendant. I gave fictional Louis a lot of characteristics that the real Louis possessed. It was as if I tapped into Louis’s soul to give my fictional character a loveable, gentle edge. Louis possesses such an innocent and comedic child-like quality, which I believe makes him so memorable. Ruh-oh.

What are you working on now?

The third installment of The Last Timekeepers time travel adventure series entitled, The Last Timekeepers and the Noble Slave. It’s slow going for some reason. Either my muse thinks she can slack off in the summer, or my motivation needs a kick in the keister. It’s all planned out, but there’s lots of research between each chapter that I didn’t anticipate. In this book, Drake Bailey is the point-of-view character, where the Timekeepers mission takes place during antebellum Georgia in 1855. Poor Drake.

I should also mention that I’ll be doing editing on the second book of Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls, Blackflies and Blueberries sometime this fall with my kick-ass editor. Wink. So, I’m looking forward to making this book even better. I believe the tentative release date is May 17th, 2019—just in time for blackfly season. Double wink.

What does ‘Escapism Fiction’ mean to you?

I absolutely love this term, Justine. To me, Escapism Fiction means that you (a reader) get to spend time with an author’s manifested imagination (a book) and be whisked away on a journey, taking you away from your troubles or problems or life in general, if only for a few hours. And it’s way cheaper than a therapist, that’s for sure! Both my book series possess an escapism feel. That’s why I came up with my author tagline: Escape to the past and have a blast. What more could a reader ask for?

Sharon Ledwith #1 Headshot


Sharon Ledwith is the author of the young adult time travel series, THE LAST TIMEKEEPERS and teen psychic series, MYSTERIOUS TALES FROM FAIRY FALLS. When not writing, researching, or revising, she enjoys reading, exercising, anything arcane, and an occasional dram of scotch. Sharon lives a serene, yet busy life in a southern tourist region of Ontario with her hubby, one spoiled yellow Labrador and a moody calico cat.

Welcome to Fairy Falls… Expect the Unexpected.

As you may know, the author of the beloved Last Timekeepers Series is launching her next book, Lost and Found this weekend. Lost and found is the first of her new series, Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls, and a YA series full of mystery and mayhem as well as teenagers with cool psychic abilities. 

We won’t spoil it for you, though. Here’s what Sharon Ledwith has to say about her upcoming book launch:

M|W: So Sharon, for those who don’t know, what was your ‘journey to publication’ like?

Sharon: How long have I got? LOL! Seriously though, my journey to publication started in the mid-90s. One evening while I was reading, I thought how simple the structure and dialogue was in a particular romance novel I was reading. You can write, you can do this, a voice urged inside my head. Let me tell you, I almost fell off my chair! But the words rang true for me. So, I decided to act on this truth, and took a writing course—Writing your Novel—where I met a couple of like-minded would-be writer gals. Together we started a writing support group, and I wrote my first novel—a paranormal romance. This manuscript caught the eye of an agent, but I was hardly ready, and I see that now. What I needed to do was to hone my craft and get better and better with the process of writing. And that takes making a lot of mistakes at the expense of your ego. In other words: lots of rejection, rejection, rejection! Ouch!

Then one night, during my writer’s group session, one of my friends said something that floored me. She mentioned that I hit my twelve-year-old character’s voice bang on. So, this got me to thinking—how hard would it be to write a young adult novel? It was a stupid question. Of course it was hard! After thinking about what my friend had said to me, I decided I’d challenge myself and write not just a novel—but a series—that would appeal to my son, who at the time was the target age of my audience. Since I’ve always loved the time travel genre, it was a no-brainer for me, and The Last Timekeepers time travel adventure series was born.

M|W: The Last Timekeepers Time Travel Series is great! Why don’t you Tell us about your new series!

Sharon: Thought you’d never ask! Here’s the premise for Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls series:

Imagine a teenager possessing a psychic ability and struggling to cope with this freakish power, all the while trying to lead a normal life. Now, imagine being uprooted and forced to live in a small tourist town where nothing much ever happens. It’s bores-ville from the get-go. Welcome to Fairy Falls. Expect the unexpected…

Set in a small northern cottage community, Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls, speaks to many of the important issues facing teens today. With Fairy Falls as the backdrop that glues the series together, each book is a stand-alone project with a different cast of characters, one of whom possesses a unique psychic, supernatural, or prophetic ability.

Lost and Found, the first of the five-book Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls series, finds the Fairy Falls Animal Shelter in trouble. Money trouble. It’s up to an old calico cat named Whiskey—a shelter cat who has mastered the skill of observation—to find a new human pack leader so that their home will be saved. With the help of Nobel, the leader of the shelter dogs, the animals set out to use the ancient skill of telepathy to contact any human who bothers to listen to them. Unfortunately for fifteen-year-old Meagan Walsh, she hears them, loud and clear…

BTW—Lost and Found is near and dear to my heart and a true labor of love, since I wrote this novel after my experience with working at a local animal shelter as an animal care attendant. Every dog and cat featured in in this story is based on an animal which I cared for or handled in some capacity. This is a novel that truly speaks for the animals!

M|W: So what made you choose a small tourist town like Fairy Falls in particular?

Sharon: The truth is that I wrote what I knew based on the area where I was living in at the time. You see, for over eleven years we lived on a small/medium-sized lake in the heart of cottage country. So I took in the sights, smells, sounds, tastes, emotions, and feelings of this beautiful place, and added the challenges and obstacles of what it would be like for an uprooted teenager possessing a psychic ability to adjust to the day-to-day living in Fairy Falls. Meagan Walsh, the protagonist from Lost and Found tells us what she thinks of Fairy Falls right off the bat: “This town sucks!”, and she goes on to describe it as ‘a small, boring northern tourist town’. If only Meagan knew what life had planned for her in this magical place!

I actually envisioned Fairy Falls from what I remembered of a tourist town during the early 1970s, while we were visiting a friend’s cottage in northern Ontario, Canada. This town has since grown, but some small cottage towns never grew much, and when major highways were built to take on more traffic, these towns were bypassed, and much of their economy suffered. Call it the pros and cons of progress, but I think much of the innocence was lost to those quaint, tourist towns when change was forced upon them. That’s why I didn’t want to lose that ‘small, tourist town feeling’ when I created Fairy Falls. True, change is good, but there’s something about going to a tourist town and connecting with the people living there that somehow leaves you feeling better than you did before you arrived.

M|W: We’re excited to say that your launch is coming up; can you tell us what you’ve got planned?

Summer Craft Show

Sharon: I’ve been scrambling to get things prepared and ready to go. Honestly, with the stuff authors have to do nowadays, it feels as if I’m birthing a baby, rather than launching a book! Some of my tasks include creating posts for my upcoming book blog tour (June 17th to 23rd), working with my web designer to make the necessary additions to include my new book and buy links, and making plans to attend the Summer Craft and Gift Show with an author friend on June 26th in Windsor. I’ve scheduled a Goodreads Giveaway for Lost and Found, Book One of Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls starting on June 17th and ending July 4th so the winner will receive his/her book during the summer months.

Second Chance Animal Rescue event

I’ve also been busy contacting animal shelters and animal rescue organizations to offer them a fundraising opportunity to sell my book, Lost and Found on consignment at their events and fundraisers. I proposed that $4 from the sale of each book goes to their organization to help care for the animals. The intent for this fundraising idea spawns from creating awareness for animal shelters and the continuing challenges to keep their doors open, and care for the lost, abandoned, or surrendered animals. We must remember, without the backbone of volunteers and community support, animal shelters and rescues would not survive. I know this, and unfortunately have seen it firsthand. My persistence paid off when Second Chance Animal Rescue of Windsor/Essex County asked me if I would join them at two of their fundraisers, one of which lands on my launch date. I’ll be at their ‘Shampooch’ event with books to sign and sell! If you’re in the area, I hope to see you there, it’s for a worthy paws…er cause!

Finally, I plan on doing an online launch via Facebook Live with Justine Alley Dowsett at Mirror World Publishing on Monday, June 19th at 7-8 pm EST. I’ll be answering questions, chatting it up with the audience, going head-to-head with Justine, and reading from my book, Lost and Found. I’m looking forward to trying out this new way of reaching and engaging with readers, so I hope you can join me!

M|W: You heard her! If you can make it out to any of these events, please do! And if not, please consider joining us on Facebook to participate in our Facebook Livecast on Monday! Thanks for reading! 

Up next: Uncharted by Justine Alley Dowsett and Murandy Damodred

In anticipation of our 2017 releases, I wanted to interview each of the authors, but I’ve tried, and I simply can’t interview myself. So, instead let me just tell you a little bit about where I’m at now and what my upcoming new release is all about.

07bcdcc12df687f02e58c2def519f9a9There’s less than two months left until Uncharted is released into the world and I’m excited and nervous and experiencing all the other feelings that come with sending a labour of love out into the world.

Next month, on March 20th, we’ll reveal the cover right here on the blog. I can’t wait to show it to you. Sara Biddle,, is the extremely talented digital artist behind the Mirror World series, Unintended and now, Uncharted. As always, she has gone above and beyond any expectations we had and created something truly lovely.

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Uncharted, in case you’re wondering, is a love story set in the multi-cultural historical/fantasy world of Ismera (the same as Unintended). In it, a woman named Meredith questions her future as a priestess of the Order of Saegard and runs away. On the night she leaves, a legendary artifact is stolen from the temple and she’s blamed for it. Suddenly a fugitive, Meredith stows away on a ship belonging to an off-duty naval officer and a ex-con man posing as his business partner. Together the three of them must evade the law while they work to clear Meredith’s name and track down what was stolen and why.

Uncharted will soon be available for pre-order and will launch on April 17th, 2017. We’re in the midst of planning what we’ll do to celebrate, so subscribe to this blog or our mailing list to be kept informed.

As you may or may not know, Murandy, my sister and co-conspirator… I mean, co-writer, is on maternity leave with her four-month old, but we’re still writing. We’re in the middle of this years’ #85K Challenge (that’s 85,000 words in 90 days) and we’re a little over halfway through two different projects. The first is the next installment in the Mirror Series, working title, Mirror’s Redemption. And the other is the much-anticipated sequel to our first novel ever written together, Neo Central.

1usWith a passion for media and sales, Murandy has a strong background in public relations and promotions as well as an education in Drama and Communications. Justine is an author herself and has worked in a multitude of industries, including publishing. She comes to Mirror World Publishing after acting as Producer and Business and Marketing Director for First Age Studios, a video game design company.


Interview with Owen Swain, Creator of the #tourdesketch Windsor Colouring Book

Owen Swain, a Windsor-based artist, is the creator and artist behind #tourdesketch Windsor, an adult colouring book featuring the sights of Windsor, Ontario. I’ve invited Owen to answer some questions for us, so we can get to know him and his seeing/drawing process.
ADTDSW copy.jpg
M|W: Other than drawing, what do you do in your spare time?
Time is flow. I enjoy: bicycling (really, really dislike driving a car), reading (fiction, nonfiction), listening to music, volunteering in my community and parish, meditation, hanging out with the Love of my life and our dogs. And when I am not drawing I am often to be found drawing or painting or, well, you get the idea.
M|W: What was your biggest obstacle in getting where you are today with your art?
Not fully believing in myself or say, not listening to my own narrative for my life. Everything belongs though and it all is a part of “now”.
M|W: What made you choose to feature Windsor in particular?
I’ve lived in Windsor since 1999 but only more recently have come alive to being alive “here” and discovered our city by bicycling and drawing on-location.
M|W: How long does a typical drawing, like the ones in the book, take you?
Roughly 57 years and 8 or 10 hours. It’s a largely different process from my usual on-location sketching in that I took my own photos, make sketch notes on site and then returned to the studio to work. They are less immediate than my usual methods for on-location drawing and more particular in trying to make them suitable for colouring in.
M|W: What’s your favorite part about drawing?
Seeing. I feel the most alive to myself and my environment when I am drawing. Getting to know a person, place, animal, tree, thing, etcetera by trying to truly observe the essence of the subject not merely rendering what I think I know about them/it.

Owen Swain is a Windsor, Ontario illustrator and painter who works in a variety of media and styles and is interested in all manner of subjects while specializing in on location, observational drawing, sketching, mentoring and portraiture. He is never without a sketchbook.

Owen’s creative impetus is daily observational drawing that moves beyond looking to seeing, from thinking to being, and from mere drawing to discovering and developing one’s own mark. Owen believes that the Zen of what Frederick Franck coined as ‘seeing/drawing’ has transferable life skills for all.

He is the creator of #tourdesketch, an art-for-all monthly event that includes in-season slow-bicycling Sketchouts with a focus on local culture and heritage and during autumn and winter months, sketch meet-ups with instruction on ‘seeing/drawing’ as meditation as well as good fun drawing, tips, and sketchbook skills for the artist within each of us.

Owen moved to Windsor with his family in 1999 for what seemed a clear path and purpose. Things changed, life morphed, the path clouded and it wasn’t long before he felt discouraged, as though he was living someone else’s narrative for his life. He persisted in trying to make the detour make sense. However, at a critical point, Owen determined the best thing was to simply be more fully who he’d always been, to rediscover his first love and vocation as a person who makes art. To re-learn how to be, rather than to do. He got back on his bike and rode and rode and drew and drew and gradually he came to love Windsor, its people and his ‘new’ way of being.

Featuring: Joshua Pantalleresco!

As you know, July’s feature is The Watcher series by Joshua Pantalleresco. This means, you can pick up The Watcher, or its sequel, Stormdancer for only $0.99 all month long! Use code: DRAGON in our store! This is a real bargain, considering both books are a unique blend of science-fiction, poetry and graphic art that you won’t find anywhere else! Also, keep in mind that this is a trilogy, so we should expect book three, tentatively titled, Wandering God, in the near future.

Without futher ado, here’s an interview I had with the author of this amazing series, Joshua Pantalleresco:

MW:  Do you write about what you know or do you do “pure fancy”?

2015-08-29 12.58.28JP:  It’s funny that my answer is both?  Let me explain.  Most of my worlds are pure fancy.  I do a little research from time to time when I’m constructing worlds.  The Watcher’s world was inspired by pure fancy.

That said, usually what the story is trying to say is something based on what I’ve learned.   I found a few years ago that stories are better if they come from someplace real in you.  Freedom means a lot to me.  The Watcher’s story is reflective of some of my own questions.

MW:  Are you a plotter or a pantser?

JP:  Mostly a pantser with a dash of plotter.  I tend to have an idea where the story ends and how the story begins.  Beyond that I keep it vague.  My characters know where they are going better than I am, and I try to steer clear of them.   I find personally if you let the plot be too structured it ruins the story.  It limits where you are allowed to go.  That said, without it, the story tends to be aimless.

That said book 3 is probably the heaviest plotted book I’ve written.  It’s much bigger than book 1 and 2 so I had a few stop points along the way.  That said, there were a lot of surprises in book 3 even for me.

MW:  Is there are genre or style of writing you’d like to try?

JP:  Screenplays and plays.  I’ve yet to try anything there.  And maybe, just maybe write an amazing sestina.

MW:  Are there other authors you try to take from and be inspired by?

JP:  I’m a fan at heart so I would be less than honest if I didn’t say yes to this.  The Watcher and Stormdancer definitely have some Edgar Rice Burroughs influences – especially the Watcher.   I just love the idea of the savage character.  There is an honesty and purity to them that I thought Burroughs captured very well.

Another author I feel like I borrow a bit from is Ray Bradbury.  Bradbury was the kind of guy that would take you by the arm and show you the wonders around you.  I like to think I do a little of that here; not as good as he did.  That would be sheer blasphemy from my part.  But I always loved the sense of wonder I had from Bradbury’s work.

 MW:  What advice would you give to a beginning writer?

JP:  Figure out who you are, and keep writing.  You solve the first and do the second, you will be ahead of the game.


Joshua Pantalleresco’s ‘Rules’ of Writing – Part 2

To find Rules 1-4 click here. Otherwise, here’s part 2!

Number Five: Revise, Revise, Revise

If you have made it this far, you have in all likelihood finished a draft.  Congratulations.  Seriously.  You went out there and finished a draft.  I’m giving myself a self high five in your honor.

So now what?

Well, barring insane deadlines, take a few days away from your creation.  Yes, it’s WatcherFront copymarvelous and glorious and you love it and stuff, but you’ve also been in the trenches awhile.  Get away.  Read some books, watch movies, date your significant other, whatever.  Just do something else for a few days.  The work will be there waiting when you get back.

When you do come back, you will have a fresher perspective and now is the time to revise your draft.  This is the point where you can say that your draft isn’t perfect.   It’s no longer a luxury – you are now a surgeon or a sculptor, cutting away pieces of unnecessary prose, inserting words in new places.  This process is a vital part of taking a great idea and making it an engaging piece for readers.  It’s probably going to happen several times which leads to…

Number Six:  Repeat rules one through five as necessary

Because as you revise, new ideas come up, and the story becomes more polished and that gem of an idea you now is a hard diamond of literary excellence.  Again, there is a fine line between polish and unnecessary revision, and as a writer you need to respect that.  After a couple of drafts or so, I recommend letting someone else read the work.  No matter how many times you walk away from a script, there are always going be things you miss.  Writers are too close to their own work.  We can’t help it, so try to pass it on to someone that will be honest with you.

Hmm, that is six writing things.  I don’t think I’m going to make ten, but I have two more things to mention before I go.

Number Seven:  Listen to your characters

Now some of you are hardcore plotters, and some like me tend to fly from the seat of the pants.  The truth is, writers are a mixture of both.  If we plot too much, we don’t let the story breathe, and if we don’t have an ending in mind, pantsers tend to wander on youtube too much because we have no idea where else to go.  But something I’ve learned is that the characters I’m writing about know where they are going better than I do.  Let them guide Cover-Final-8by11you.  Don’t worry.  They won’t steer you wrong most of the time.  Don’t force their path when they do this.  Let them lead you to their own promised land.

You don’t have to take my advice here.  That said, I found in the case of Stormdancer that it worked out far better than I imagined.  I had this idea that Kristen and company would end up in jail.  I had no plan on how they would escape.  Kristen had severe anger issues before ending up in prison and had no way to release those emotions.  I didn’t have a solution to her anger.  She told me she could use her anger to escape this place.  I trusted her, and realized the symbol of her being in a cage not just on the outside, but in it.  Jailbreak in Stormdancer is probably one of the strongest chapters I have written, and it wasn’t me.  It was all her.

Number Eight: Write from the heart

On my own webpage ( I talk about this rule the most outside of rule one.  It took me fifteen years to realize that all my plotting and fancy ideas meant nothing unless I had a story that connected readers to it.

The human heart is one thing all of us share.  Art in any form is about expressing it.  People understand pain, anger, laughter, tears.  Good writing brings those feelings and experiences to the forefront.  If you can’t expresss what is in your heart, in my view you are not ready to be published.  What do you care about?  What do you believe in?

What matters to you?

Express it.  Because the one thing you can’t fake is what it is inside you.  It’s the most genuine part of you.  And if you can tap into it, you will find readers that will resonate with your work.   So be genuine on the page.  I don’t care if you’re writing about a jar of dirt or a quest to save the moon from the evil martians;  what in this story are you saying about you?

There you have it, my eight something or others about writing.  I hope this helps you.  Use what works for you, discard the rest.  There is no set formula to this other than rule one.

2015-08-29 12.58.28


Joshua Pantalleresco writes fiction, poetry and comics. He also lo

ves to do interviews. He has written columns for comicbloc and allpulp and currently does so for comicmix. The Watcher is his second book of poetry. He resides in Calgary.

He has a blog you can follow here.

Joshua Pantalleresco’s ‘Rules’ of Writing – Part 1

I said yes to this without thinking really.

I thought, “sure, do another blog to shamelessly promote my books.”  Seems like a good idea.  Only looking at the whole topic and thinking about it for a second, I came to a horrifying thought.

I’m the one talking about rules in writing?  Me?  You sure?  Alright.

Let me see what I can bul-  I mean, come up with.

Thinking about this rule to writing thing, the obvious question is are there really any rules to writing?  I mean, I make stuff up and write it down.  I’m not sure if it’s right or wrong.  In truth, there’s a lot of question as to the whole right or wrong thing.  We’re making stuff up after all, and really the only thing that really matters is that you connect with readers.  This is a fancy way of me saying that I’m not sure I have ten rules or guidelines or whatever you’d like to call them to write.  I think what I will say here is I’m going to talk about what works for me, and if you can get something from it, more power to you.   I just hope I haven’t already sounded like a gibbering idiot before I began.

My Rules, Guidelines erm….Stuff to writing.

Number One:  Write!

I’m pretty sure that one is everyone’s first rule.   And it should be, because let’s face it, that’s the name of the game.   You may have this amazing, one of a kind idea about a jar of dirt that no one has ever seen before.   Kudos to you my friend if you do, but if you don’t write it down, it’s just an idea.  So write it down, especially if the idea is fresh.

Number Two:  Keep Writing!

This one might seem silly upon first glance. But here’s the thing us writers realize after a few sessions on a story.  We screw up.  All the time.  When we realize that we make mistakes, our first instinct is to just go back and fix it.  After we fix it, we breathe a sigh of relief and keep going.

Or do we?

If you do, awesome.  I’m not like that.  I tend to want to work a sentence, rewrite it, clarify it, check my word choices.  You know, make it perfect.  The problem with that elusive perfect prose is that it’s impossible to reach.   You always know that no matter how clean your words are, you could do it better.

You know what you are not doing when you pursue this course of action?  Finishing your story.   This is a nasty trap many a writer fall victim to.  I’ve done it myself.  So much so that now I don’t think about my story not being perfect.  As far as I’m concerned, this draft of the story IS perfect…until the draft is finished.  Then I can revise and admonish myself for not making it perfect.  But I don’t give myself that luxury to revise myself until the draft is done.

Don’t dare engage in revision until the story is done.  That way lies madness, and an incomplete story.  Keep writing.

Number Three:  Finish your story.

This one might also seem silly upon first glance.   It’s really hard to close a tale.  There are a myriad of reasons for this, but if I had to be honest,  it’s because this is the part that takes the most work.  Writing a story is a process of sitting on your keyboard and doing the work of putting words to a page, and getting to the end of it is a journey.  Walking that walk day in and day out takes discipline and time and effort.   It’s the most work a writer has short of promoting their stuff.

There are a number of ways to get there.  Word count is a decent path to success, unless you’re doing a book a like the watcher, then it’s a matter of chapters and goals.  But the best advice here to help you get to the end is that each day set yourself some goals and work to achieving them.  Stephen King said that five hundred words a day equals a novel at the end of the year, and he’s right.  Setting yourself goals in small steps often increases your chances of success of getting there.  So set yourself small steps to walk each day, whether it’s a word count, chapter or whatever you need to get through the day, and you’ll achieve the towering success of a novel in no time.

Number Four:  Don’t get distracted

So if I’m going to mention finishing work, I have to acknowledge the giant pink elephant in the room that is the internet.   The internet is a wonderful tool filled with knowledge, information and other things to get you on government watch lists.  But it is also a place to get distracted.

If you looked at my browsing history, you’d find wrestling, facebook, twitter, and amazon as my go to places.  We all have those go to places on the internet.  In fact, at least two hours a day of my life get lost to the abyss that the world wide web resides in.  We all do it on some level.  Maybe it’s a video of Richard Simmons on Whose Line is it anyway?  Or maybe it’s watching Charlie Murphy talking about getting his butt whipped by Prince in Basketball and having pancakes afterwards.  All in all, your computer is also your toy, and should be respected as such.  Go play a little before your begin, and hey, use it as the toy it is once you are done for the day.  Until then, turn off the wireless.  It’s a click of a button.

Now that the pink elephant has been identified,  let’s get serious for a second.  Distractions don’t just come in the form of internet amusement.   Distractions are everywhere.  They come in many forms and wear many faces.  Sometimes it can be a job, a spouse, a friend, a hassle, overcommittment – the list goes on and on.  Your greatest form of wealth is not your money but your time.  Treat your time like gold, because it’s more valuable.  You can’t replace it once it’s gone.   So if you want to write, you have to make time for it, and that means NO DISTRACTIONS.

If you want this,  make it happen.   Even at my busiest working two jobs to stay afloat, I managed to find forty minutes in a day to work.  It can be forty, it can be five minutes.  It doesn’t matter.   If you want to make something happen, it can and it will.  So don’t let yourself be bogged down with distractions and inaction.  If you want to write, WRITE.

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Joshua Pantalleresco is the author of the epic poem, The Watcher, and its sequel, Stormdancer. He writes fiction, poetry and comics. He also loves to do interviews. He has written columns for comicbloc and allpulp and currently does so for comicmix. He resides in Calgary.

He has a blog you can follow here.

And I urge you to check out his podcast series which you can also find through his blog. Stay tuned next week for Part 2 of Joshua Pantalleresco’s ‘Rules’ of Writing!

Rita Monette’s 10 rules of writing

After such great enthusiasm over my post: My 10 rules of writing I decided to see if any of our authors had writing rules they live by. Rita Monette, the middle-grade author of The Legend of Ghost Dog Island and The Curse at Pirate’s Cove was very quick to respond, so I figure she knows what she’s talking about! Here’s what this pro-writer has to say:

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Seriously? There are rules? Okay, here are mine…

  1. Learn your craft. This is #1 for a reason. Take classes, go to conferences and writing workshops, talk to other authors, read books on writing. For proof, go back and read something you wrote before you learned all this great stuff. If you don’t see a major difference, you’ve been a genius all along!
  1. Write every day. Hard, I know… but when you do, the ideas and words will flowing from your fingers like magic. No Harry Potter pun intended.
  1. Try to write your first draft to the end without revising. This one is the hardest for me. When I go in to write, I have to read what I’ve previously written in order to get into the flow, and to remember what I’ve already said so I don’t repeat myself. Is that redundant? But then again, I’m getting old. But, seriously…revising at this stage will surely slow down the writing process. Get it on paper, then go back and fix it. See #4.


  1. Revise, revise, revise, then revise again. As you read through your story, especially out loud, if something doesn’t sound right, it probably isn’ Look for places where you are getting bored and want to skip ahead, or where you have to read a sentence or scene over again to understand what’s going on. You’ll know when you’re done revising, when you can say…”Damn! That’s good right there, I don’t care who wrote it.”


  1. Read award-winning books in your chosen genre…not to learn great stuff to write about, but to learn how to write you own stuff great.


  1. Join critique groups, or pal up with other writers with whom you can share honest feedback. Friends and relatives might love your work, but they may not know how to push you to create a work of art.


  1. Find an editor…or a friend that is obsessive-compulsive about spelling and grammar. It’s hard to find those pesky problems in your own writing, because when you know what you were trying to say, you read right over mistakes. Never submit, or self publish, your work with bad grammar (unless that’s the way your character speaks!). It is a reflection on you as a writer. A typo or mistake may slop through the cracks, but don’t settle for it.


  1. Forget writer’s block. I’ve had periods where I didn’t seem to be able to create. But it is usually because I am involved in other things or people that distract or depress me. I am also an artist, and have experienced the same problem there. I don’t call it artist’s block!


  1. Find or create a place that promotes creativity. Maybe it means listening to music, or total quiet without distractions. Maybe it’s peaceful scenery, a picture on your wall, a cat on your lap, or the TV in the background. Everyone is different in what invites their muse to join them. Find yours.


  1. People watch. Pay attention to accents, mannerisms, facial expressions, etc. Give these to your characters, and picture their faces and gestures as you write. Characters drive your stories. Bring them to life.

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There you have it! Rita Monette’s recipe for success! Keep an eye out for news about book three in the Nikki Landry Swamp Legends Series, The Secret in Mossy Swamp, coming soon from Mirror World Publishing!

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Rita Monette was born and raised in Southwest Louisiana. She loves to write stories set in the beautiful, yet mysterious, bayous and swamps of her home state.

Her middle grade series, The Nikki Landry Swamp Legends, is based on tales told by her father—who made his living in those bayous—of reasons to stay out of the swamp.

She currently lives with her husband, four lap dogs, and one lap cat, in the mountains of Tennessee. Besides writing and illustrating, she loves watching the many birds that make their habitat on the Cumberland Plateau, working in the garden, and frequenting waterfalls.

To learn more about Rita Monette, visit her blog here:

You can also find her books in our bookstore!

My 10 rules of writing…

In no particular order:

  1. Write for you, not ‘the market’. Write what you love, then look for readers when you’re finished.
  2. Put yourself in the scene. Live it, experience it firsthand, then write it.
  3. Know your world- spend as much time in it as possible. You need to know your world and the people in it as well as you know the world you usually live in.
  4. Set aside time. Make writing a priority. Close the door, turn off your wi-fi, disconnect from the real world so you can visit your fictional one. Focus.
  5. Write as often as possible. Schedule as necessary to make this happen. Scribe Tools
  6. Use the little moments of the day to write, plan, think, and create. Use paper and pen, a tablet, a laptop, your phone, a napkin… whatever is available to keep the ideas flowing. If you can’t write a whole scene, leave yourself notes for later.
  7. Don’t stop until the project is finished. Pause, put it on hold when life gets in the way, but always come back to it.
  8. Avoid over-planning. Your characters are going to do what they want anyway, so you might as well leave them enough room in your plans to let them.
  9. Talk about your book. Get excited. Motivation is the key to the success of any project.
  10. Never give up. If you love to write, then write. Don’t let anyone else’s opinions get in the way. Just keep improving, learning and most of all, writing!

What ‘rules’ do you have for writing? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below!