Guest Blog


Fascinating New Guest Blog by Claudette Walker

Author of "C Street"  

December 1, 2011


By Claudette Walker

 A writer of suspense and thrills looks to the gotcha…

 Being asked to write about the method I use in writing my suspense thrillers, such as the novel “C Street”, left me reflecting. How do I do it? I realize that I first create most of my plot in my head, roll it around until it my brain says, “yes!” Then the work begins. I choose to begin writing before I outline. During the writing process, I find that ideas for the later parts of the story become my outline, and are pasted below the part of the text on which I’m working.

 I offer several tips. Characters must be realistic, but that realism is taken to the edge of the envelope. I introduce them for the reader to love or hate immediately and then intensify and add reasons throughout the story that may change the reader’s mind or reinforce their original opinions.

 Research – I said research. Let me repeat it one more time, research. The line between fact and fiction is a thing as thin as the line between genius and insanity.  The events that trigger a story and that occur within it must be well researched, as must the locales in which the story develops.  It is for the reader to decide for themselves what has basis in fact and what is purely fictional. This is probably the most fun for the writer – prompting readers to question whether an event happened, if it could happen, or if it is happening now.

 I first want the reader to know of the possible dangers to the characters and the emotions controlling them. I then develop the plot so that the reader can speculate about if and how each character will cope with and survive those dangers and emotions. Throughout the story, I want the reader to go places with the characters, to feel their deepest emotions and their passions. I also choose to ask the reader to reflect on the world we live in and the possibilities for good, evil, and the gray areas between the two that fill our world. I believe the writer must strike a balance between love and hate, between good and evil, and between sex and violence in crafting a story.

 I find I write like playing chess, thinking five moves ahead. Just when the reader thinks they know what is about to happen, something much deeper really is going on. For me, it often plays like a movie in my head, and I am typing to keep up with my thoughts. I also like to finish a book with an unexpected twist, yet one that has always been developing through the plot line. The reader should never expect it, but instead say, “They got me!” when it happens.  

 Since the beginning of my writing, I felt I had something to say to the world. This is the reason I stepped away from fiction to write the horrific true crime trial “The Casey Anthony Murder Trial”. This book, written with my daughter, was a true labor of love for us.  It strengthened our mother-daughter bond, a bond that should never be broken. We were determined to tell our interpretation of the facts of this trial in real-time, and to document the trial as completely as possible.  It is up to history to judge the trial’s outcome.

 In my fiction books, I want my words to reflect personality traits existing in everyone, even the parts of us we are unwilling to acknowledge. There are those characteristics in us all, whether or not we can say of a character, “that is me,” or “I want it to be me.”  My first book, “To Love The Rose (Is Washington Stoned)” is being re-released now. It is not just the beginning of my getting my writing legs, but is also the story that started the C Street journey.  It is for the readers to decide what parts of the book are factual and what parts are fictional. I believe all writers carry their own history into fiction work, no matter how small or large.

 C Street began as a book that had to be written, the reality of how the men (and women) of our government have unlimited control of our country, of how they enjoy every moment and every dollar they receive, and of the possibilities (or perhaps the realities) of their abuse of that power and control. The sequel to “C Street” is now in progress. It will tell from a different point of view of the roads of gold built by the powerful of this world. Of course, the love of two people involved in it all will be central to the plot.

 Laura, thank you for considering my voice valuable and asking me to write this guest blog. “C Street” is in bookstores, is available for distributors through Ingram Book Company and Baker and Taylor, and available for purchase online at Amazon and Barnes and Noble in book and eBook. Please read more about my books and screenplays at blog or or buy online at Barnes and Noble and Amazon.  I will happily autograph copies of “C Street” ordered through

C Street  - Amazon

C Street - B&N

To Love The Rose  - Amazon

To Love The Rose - B&N

"The Casey Anthony Murder Trial" - Amazon


Writing a Memoir

February 11, 2011

After reviewing Dan Hays book "Freedom's Just Another Word" several months ago, I was very impressed by the painful but also hopeful personal journey that was shared by Dan. I also viewed it as a prototype for how to write a memoir in that the flow was seamless and the structure was that of a memoir expert. It is rare to feel every word and every emotion that an author is sharing. For those reasons, I asked Dan to write a blog post that could be helpful to others who believe that their personal story should be written in the form of a memoir...

Why Was This Story Best Told As A Memoir? – Dan L. Hays

On the first day of my creative writing class, the teacher opened the discussion by asking “What is a story?”  She suggested that we begin by defining the word.  Several people responded.  I took a minute to think about the meaning, and then raised my hand and said “A story is something that happens to someone.”  The teacher smiled broadly, nodded, and said “That’s it exactly - at the very basic level, the essence of a story is action.”

So what was the best way to tell a particular story, to describe that action?  Over the next several years I read a lot about point of view – mostly looking at first person and third person, and what were the advantages and limitations of each.  First person is confined to the thoughts of the narrator.  Third person can either be omniscient – using the thoughts of all of the characters, or limited – using the thoughts of one character’s mind. After I experimented with point of view, it became apparent that it depended on the story.

Please click here to read more.

To read more about Dan you may visit his blog



Candice James ~ The Poetic Mistress of Magic: Genres of Poetry

and Creativity Exercises

Words, when strung together like a beautiful rare necklace, are priceless, indestructible and eternal.  Poetry is the grand ballroom these words live, breathe and dance in.  Poetry waltzes into the heart and creates rhapsodies and symphonies for the soul.  Her playground of emotions is peppered with excitement, enchantment, love, harmony, sorrow, heartache, empathy and bereavement.  Poetry is the rhythm of the universe painted onto paper with pen, ink and imagination.
I have a large list of poets I admire and respect, such as T.S. Eliot, W.H. Auden, Leonard Cohen, Rod  McKeuen, Michael Drayton, Edmund Spenser, Edward Henley, Elizabeth Barrett Browining, and of course the sonnets of William Shakespeare.  A few of my favorite poems are, “The Ballad Of Reading Gaol”, written by the great Oscar Wilde, “The Hollow Men” by T.S. Eliot, and “Invictus” by Edward Henley.   These poets have passed away, but their words live on and always will. 
I love words and I love poetry.  I believe it is very important for a poet to be comfortable working within structured forms when writing a sonnet or sestina and to have the same level of comfort when they allow their thoughts to flow freely into poetic free verse.   I enjoy writing free verse and I also enjoy writing Sonnets and Sestinas which demand strict rules of structure that cannot be deviated from.  Rules and examples are shown below.
Sestina  Six stanzas of 6 lines each and a 7th stanza of 3 lines
Rhyme scheme format as follows:
Stanza 1    Abcdef
Stanza 2    Faebdc
Stanza 3    Cfdabe
Stanza 4    Ecbfad
Stanza 5    Deacfb
Stanza 6    Bdfeca
Stanza 7   3 lines containing  words that rhyme with abcdef in this order:
Line 1  fb
Line 2  ad
Line 3  ec

THE DANCE   (Sestina)  
The wet moon hangs high in the sky
A shimmering snowball a glistening eye
Tears spilling out to star dust the night
Brilliant against its ebony frame
A midnight sonata setting the mood
Where angels dance on the wings of chance
A victim of happenstance and grievous chance
A crimson pink sunset painting the sky
Blue notes echoing an indigo mood
Opalescent teardrop filling the eye
Still hidden somewhere in the mind’s frame
The remnant of dreams lost in the night
Too many twilights flee from the night
Desperately hanging on without a chance
A beautiful painting ripped from its frame
I’ve wished on my share of stars in the sky
With hope in my heart and dew in my eye
Searching for torch songs to ignite the mood
A soft tender kiss setting the mood
To take the edge off my darkest night
And nestle its sparkle in my heart’s eye
Tenderly asking for one more chance
To catch a falling star from the sky
And hang it in heaven in a golden  frame
The mirror has fallen and broken her frame
Knocking the dust off an outdated mood
A bright silver thread unzips the sky
A lost dream emerges from inside this night
Greedily grasping a last fleeting chance
To dance in the shadow of the moon’s eye
Spilling a feeling from her pearl eye
Melting the ice off this ancient freeze frame
Begging me dance, perhaps take a chance
Tenderly sewing my heart o her mood
A candle burning the dark off my night
The wet moon hangs high and dry in the sky
A  chance to pass through the needle’s eye
To unzip the sky and repaint its frame

To reset the mood and heartbeat of night
Candice James  Copyright 2010


Shakespearian sonnet
The English sonnet has the simplest and most flexible pattern of all sonnets, consisting of 3 quatrains of alternating rhyme and a couplet:
a b a b
c d c d
e f e f
g g

SCARLET KNIFE (Shakespearian Sonnet)
No amnesty within this darkened night;
For wounded butterfly in torn cocoon,   
Twisting, turning in pale shaft of moonlight;
Abandoned, dying on a desert dune, 
A child of desperation racked with pain
Sliding down the edge of love's jagged blade;
Heart trapped in a world of relentless rain
Where mortal wounds and old scars never fade
Cut by the sharp tip of love's scarlet knife,
A bloodied heart.  Murdered inspiration
Ebbs like a last gasp breath that clings to life.
There be no such thing as consolation,

Heavy with hard lies and broken blessings
Love takes her final leave on tainted wings
Candice James  Copyright 2010

Free Verse
Free Verse Poetry is organized according to the cadences of speech and image patterns rather than according to a regular metrical scheme. Its rhythms are based on patterned elements such as sounds, words, phrases, sentences, and paragraphs.  Free verse thus eliminates much of the artificiality and some of the aesthetic distance of poetic expression. It has become the preferred genre of poetry in modern times. 

The cool water piano keys
Feel solid,
Then ripple like magic,
As the music begins to breathe
And flow like wet whispers;
Splashing onto the face of your mind.

At first a faint whisper,
Becoming a rhapsody,
Fading into a torch song; 
Burnt embers,
Rough notes,
Waxing full in the moonglow of a sultry night
Before endless winter blacks its light.

The music feathers down,
Cascades into a hard rain,
Abrasive to the touch;
Too brittle not to break;
Too fragile,
Before the cool water piano keys
Turn to ice.
Candice James Copyright 2010

Exercises will help any poet who has writer’s block or feels their creative juices just aren’t flowing the way they would like them to flow.  Here are three exercises I use:

Excercise 1
This is an exercise of free association that progressively uses the alphabet in order, so that every word begins with the next letter of the alphabet, but writing what comes to mind rather than concentrating to find the perfect word. Generally this free association is stream of consciousness writing and can reveal some underlying frame of mind, leading to more expansive revisions. Sometimes you can’t use the entire alphabet (X and Z are stifling!!) but as you work on this exercise you may find it amazing how quickly the words arise in your mind and present a thought or message to you. This is a great exercise  when you don't particularly feel like writing but  need to get centered again. Here is an example of free association poetry writing:  Ardent bells chime, dinging... Ever fluid, great halls in Justice, Knowledge lifting myself—new, Over peals quite resonant, Soothing, (the) talisman urges victories. Wistfulness, Xanadu’s yearning zen.

Exercise 2
Next do the same thing but write a poem with each line starting with the use of the alphabet in progressive order.
Apples can be tart imitating life
Branching out in all directions
Carelessly unaware of the harsh
Divisions created in Childhood’s
Early awakenings.  

Exercise 3
Take a poem you have written or someone else has written and try to rewrite it in complete opposition to itself.  Here is an example using Walt Whitman’s  “Song of Myself”

I celebrate myself, and sing myself,
And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.
I loaf and invite my soul,
I lean and loaf at my ease observing a spear of summer grass.

I decry you and lament you
And what I don’t know you will not know
Because no part apart from you  as bad doesn’t belong to me.
I work and boycott my body.

I stand upright and work at my limit blind to a line of winter frost.

You can use this new opposition to give you a fresh idea for a new poem.

Candice James Poet Laureate of the City of New Westminster, BC


Sunday, January 23, 2011 at 7:49pm Claudette: Thank you, a most enjoyable read.





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