Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Setting the Scene

Setting is an essential component of fiction writing, whether a novel or a short story. It’s generally indicated early in a novel or short story and usually developed through narrative description, but there are other means as well.  The details of setting are what make the reader accept the reality of the work.

Here are some suggestions for creating a viable setting:

One: Choose a place you know something about. Maybe you’ve lived there. Maybe you only visited.  But it helps if the writer has some sort of association because the place must have an aura of reality to be believable. My Kim Reynolds mysteries are set in Central New Jersey because that’s where I lived for most of my life. The township in THE BAD WIFE, for example, is based closely on the one I actually lived in.

Two: If you are using an historical setting, make certain to do considerable research so that your background descriptions are historically accurate. Consider: how did people dress? How did they travel? What did they eat? What were the social, religious and political conventions and ideas of the period? How did people talk? Conversation and vocabulary differ in different time periods.  Also, check timelines to make certain you don’t have important events occurring in a wrong year.
My two published historical romance novels were carefully researched.  For example, TEA LEAVES AND TAROT CARDS is set in Regency England directly after the Napoleonic Wars. THE CHEVALIER is set in Georgian England at the time of the uprising in the Highlands in support of Bonnie Prince Charlie.  I read both fiction and nonfiction written in the time period as well as numerous historical accounts before I began to write the novels. This was something I enjoyed doing since I have degrees in English and history and taught English at both the high school and university levels.

Three: Choose place names that fit the times. Place names are constantly changing. Decide whether or not you should use real place names or imaginary ones. In DEATH LEGACY, real places were used and described.  Manhattan and Washington D.C. are prominently featured, as are actual streets and landmarks, appropriate in this case to lend authenticity to a mystery suspense thriller that is also a spy novel.

Four: Consider the weather or climate as a component in setting. For example, winter weather works well for a murder mystery novel. Snow and winter can be used to symbolize death. This is true for THE BAD WIFE.

Weather helps to create tone, mood and atmosphere. For instance, a paranormal novel might be dark and foreboding. Thunder and lightening can create tension. Poe is a great one to study in this regard.

Five: Sense impressions are important in the narrative description of the setting. You need them to create a sense of reality. As they say, the devil is in the details. But balance is needed as well. Writers can overload their writing with too much detail or info dumping. Even some very famous authors are guilty of that. Setting details may also be part of characterization, existing in dialogue, action and a character’s thoughts.

What suggestions would you make in regard to the creation of setting?
Your thoughts and opinions welcome here.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Interview With D.K. Christi

I am interviewing D.K. Christi, journalist and author. D. K. is a journalist for the in-print and online Southwest Spotlight,, and more.  Her short stories are published in seven anthologies and in Amour found at Kindle.  She has published three novels, Arirang, Ghost Orchid and Bamboo Ring with several more in the works.

As a journalist she has enjoyed interviewing celebrities such as Marlo Thomas, Whoopi Goldberg, and Rob Reiner.  She is a professional platform speaker available and mobile to present at conferences and workshops. Previous activities included founding board member and CEO of major philanthropic corporate entities with equities in the millions of dollars and community advocate for those needing special help to claim economic stability.  You can contact Christi at and

Question: What is the title and genre of your latest novel?  Why did you select them?

Answer:  Bamboo Ring – General Fiction Romance
Bamboo and Bamboo rings figure significantly in the lives of the main characters, Melani and Jack.  Bamboo represents strength of character against great odds. The rings are rings that bind an obsession.  Melani arouses strong emotions from readers; some find her with little admirable, others sympathize and identify with her weaknesses and choices. 

Question:   What inspired this novel? How did it come about?

Answer:  Bamboo Ring is the prequel to Ghost Orchid.  It is the back story that details Melani’s experiences that lead to the birth of her daughter.  A woman of the seventies generation, during and following Vietnam, Melani reflects the struggles for women in a changing U.S. culture and magnifies them by setting Melani’s life in South Korea.  Her international adventures take the reader to the sights and sounds of exotic, foreign countries while her passionate love affair becomes an obsession that unravels her life forever. 

The power of love cannot be underrated.  It is the force that makes the world go round.  Love is the force in what I write, from short stories to novels.  Love swirls around the characters.  Love motivates and inspires me as my muse sets my pen in motion and allows the words to flow.  The richness of living in a world of infinite change and variety is also another theme in my novels. says of my work, “Themes of friendship surviving tragedy, love conquering adversity and the triumph of the human spirit over the hardships of life serve to uplift and inspire.”

Question:  Could you tell us a little bit about the heroine and/or hero of your novel?

Answer:  Melani is the perfect wife and mother, attractive and intelligent, supporting her spouse’s rising career that takes the young family to foreign assignments.  Her marriage is rocky but stable initially.  A tragic loss her spouse’s infidelity leaves her vulnerable to the attention of a charming military officer that sets her on a path of passionate obsession that unravels her life.  This officer provides such brief encounters, that the novel offers the question of reality or fantasy?  Where will Melani’s obsession take her and will she find serenity at last?

Question:   Can you tell us about some of your other published novels or work?

Answer:  Ghost Orchid, set in the Florida Everglades, has a touch of the paranormal as the exquisitely beautiful Neev sets out in search of family roots and finds more than she imagines through a series of mysterious coincidences that unfold as a mystery, one clue at a time in the aura of an exquisite and unique ghost orchid.  NPR reviews says the beauty of the Everglades shines through on every page, the ghost orchid the heart and soul of the story.  Ghost Orchid is one of four novels in the Bamboo Rings series that begins with Bamboo Ring.

Question:   What are you working on now?

Answer:   A Civil War romance adventure based on my great, great, great grandfather’s Civil War heroism leading a group of men who dig escape tunnels, escaping from POW prison in New York and returning to the front lines.

                 The third novel in the Bamboo Ring series, Caribbean Odyssey – a sailing adventure with Melani.

Question:   What made you start writing?

Answer:  Teachers always praised whatever I wrote from an early age and I read everything I could, favoring historical fiction, myths and fairy tales.   I believed I had the talent and pursued journalism to start.

My career path included grant-writing, marketing and promotion writing, technical journal writing, curriculum development at state levels and national platform presentations for conferences and workshops.  Adding fiction was fun.

I also lived and worked in many states and cultures including Asia, Europe and the Caribbean.  I sailed for three years with my family in the Caribbean on our family yacht after selling all we owned in the world for the adventure.  I kept diaries from the age of sixteen.

Question:   What advice would you offer to those who are currently writing novels?

Answer:  Work with a critique group and perfect the novel without being overanxious to see it in print.  Know the work is marketable unless selling books does not matter.  Have a platform from which to sell books and a marketing plan laid out long before publication.  A celebrity endorsement for the book is a plus.  Enjoy the process as much as the final publication.  When facing a creative slump, still write a page a day.  In 365 days, that’s enough to find something within those pages to turn into value.

Question:  Where and when will readers be able to obtain your novel?

Answer:   Bamboo Ring will soon be available at all online book sellers, local book stores and libraries and gift shops.  Currently,

Ghost Orchid is available at all of the above.  I recommend reading both novels, Ghost Orchid first and Bamboo Ring second to fill in the back story.

D.K. is available for comments and questions.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

How to Increase Your Creativity and Productivity

What to do when you need to spark your life force, rev up your engine? I’m not just talking about the creative arts. Every human being needs revitalization at some point. If you’ve become discouraged,  overwrought, and suffered a loss of productivity in your field of endeavor, there are ways to deal with it.

Get started by making some life changes. Get out of your normal rut or routine. Consider doing things you’ve never tried before or haven’t done lately. They don’t have to be dangerous or extreme either.

Here’s one suggestion:

The lead story in the January 11, 2015 edition of PARADE Magazine is entitled:
 “The #1 Health-Booster in 2015.” What is it? Meditation. Not something new but certainly beneficial. It’s referred to as “mindfulness.” Apparently, it creates “body-building for the brain.” It is both “anxiety-busting” and “attention-boosting”. I would refer to it as awareness and focus. By its very nature, meditation encourages creativity.

Here are some of the suggested activities that increase mindfulness according to this article (which I would urge you to read in its entirety):

·        Breathe deeply concentrating on the act itself
·        Hug someone, focusing on the interaction
·        Eat slowly while paying attention to what you are eating
·        Take a walk somewhere each day—engaging in awareness of your surroundings

The key is to keep focus on the activity and not let your mind wander or worry.

This is just one positive method of increasing your creativity which can lead to increased productivity. 

Have you tried meditation? Would you like to do so if you haven't? What suggestions do you have for boosting creativity and productivity?