Creative Advice


POV: First Person, Present Tense

I just finished reading a book (a fabulous book: Just Between You and Me by Jenny B. Jones) that was written in first person, present tense.  It was interesting to read, and worked well for this contemporary novel.

About 8 years ago, when all I knew about was First/Third Person, Past Tense, I decided to challenge myself.  I wondered how much I could physically describe about a character who was alone and in the dark.  No one else to provide description or interact with, no mirrors, nothing but the dark.  I chose a knight in a dungeon.  Just to make it harder on myself, I wrote it in first person present tense.

I was surprised to find that I liked it!  Of course the story isn’t finished.  My poor knight–mercenary soldier, actually–has been rotting in that dungeon for nearly a decade!  But it’s one of the UFOs I’ll be working on in the next while.

Do you like present tense?  What is your favourite POV to read and/or write?

Joanna Clark Dawyd

Peek, Peak, Pique

My husband hates it when I correct the grammar of signs, radio hosts, newspapers, etc. But I can’t help it! I really should just keep my mouth shut and suffer in silence. Which I do most of the time. I don’t actively seek out poor grammar just to criticise it. In fact, in regular conversation, I probably don’t even notice.

However, some errors bother me and I can’t stop thinking about them. It makes me sad because I can tell the person who innocently made the error most likely doesn’t read much. When that is the case, people write things like “rod iron”, or the subject of today’s post: “peek my interest”. Homophones are hard for non-readers, because they have probably heard the phrase a hundred times, but never seen it written out. Of course it doesn’t help that each form of the word pronounced “peek” has a few different definitions.

Peek – verb – to look quickly
Peek – noun – a quick look

Peak – noun – highest point
Peak – verb – to reach the highest point

Pique – noun – bad mood
Pique – verb – put somebody in a bad mood
Pique – verb – arouse somebody’s interest

Ok, now I’m not even sure the phrase “pique my interest” is correct!  Wouldn’t that be redundant?  Unless you mean “put my interest in a bad mood”  Oh, this will put me in a pique!

Stuck in a Short Story

“Alice Gardiner sat by herself in a chair against the wall, hands lying idle in her lap. She had been beating herself at checkers, but the game lay half-finished on the table next to her as she harboured blue thoughts.”

These are the first two sentences of what I’m working on…I’ve been working on it for a good nine months now!  I know where it the story is going.  I’ve even written the last few sentences, and about 1500 words in between!  But how to get to the end is what is eluding me.  I’m finding it hard to write about a blossoming mental and emotional connection between an 86-year-old and a 92-year-old.  But for the next round of the game, I will commit to 20 minutes of fiction writing each morning, even if I have to get up earlier (It’s so much easier to just stay in bed until the kids wake me up!).  First on the list is this story.  Poor Alice has been stuck for too long!

11th Avenue Inn Bed & Breakfast in Seattle

11th Avenue Inn Bed & Breakfast in Seattle
image from the inn's website

You know how things on the internet always look better than they are in real life?  You book a nice-looking hotel and when you get there you realise that the housekeeping isn’t quite up to your standards, or the furniture and bedding is cheap.  Well, the 11th Avenue Inn in Seattle, WA is not like that at all!  In fact, I’d even say this beautiful old inn is better in person.
Seattle, Washington
The Inn was built in 1906, so expect creaky floors and drafty windows.  I love old houses, so those issues only added to the charm for me.  The Inn’s owner lives next door, so if we’d had any problems, I’m sure they would have been dealt with promptly.

Breakfast is served between 7:30 and 9:30 in a beautiful dining room furnished with antiques like the rest of the house.  I think the cooks, Christine and Tominda, made the best breakfasts I’ve ever had.

SeattleBonnie and I stayed in the Ruby Room on the second floor.  This room has a private bathroom right across the hall.  I felt incredibly safe staying there, even the first night when I was alone.  And this is the first hotel I’ve ever been to that felt clean enough to walk around barefoot.  I could tell the Inn’s owner and staff take pride in their work.

SeattleIn order to write a balanced review, I’m trying to think of anything I didn’t like about this place (other than the off-centre bed…I resisted the urge to move it!), and I honestly can’t think of anything.  Except maybe the fact that they don’t allow kids under twelve!  Kevin and I will have to come back on our own one day.

Seattle, WAThe location of the bed and breakfast was perfect: an easy walk to Seattle Centre, where our conference was, and downtown to Pike Place Market.  The immediate area, Capitol Hill, boasts many restaurants and shops.  If you like seafood, you need to visit Coastal Kitchen on 15th Ave.  Bonnie and I both raved about our meal there.  The Inn provides a convenient list of all the restaurants in the area.


Funny story about that pretty orchid in the living room.  For the first two days, every time I walked up the outside steps and glanced in the front windows, I would have sworn there was a balding white-haired man sitting on the couch.  But when I got in the house…no one was there!  Half my mind was starting to fear the resident ghost until I took the time to stop outside and peer in the window.  I discovered that my ghost was simply an orchid.  As Andy Andrews said at the conference, “Fear is a misplaced use of creative imagination.”

Seattle, WABonnie and I had a wonderful time at the 11th Avenue Inn Bed & Breakfast, and wouldn’t hesitate to stay there again.  I heartily recommend it.


Women of Faith Conference Review: Laughter and Tears

Bonnie received free tickets for the Women of Faith conference in exchange for writing a review on her blog. In this case, they get a two for one deal.

Friday morning I arrived at the arena early, shortly after the doors opened.  I had no idea how long it would take me to walk down from Capitol Hill in my stylish high-heeled-but-comfy boots, so I left early.  The first two sessions were general admission, so I snagged a great seat, and some sweet and chatty neighbours.

Seattle Women of Faith ConferencePatsy Clairmont and Andy Andrews each spoke three times on Friday.  The first thing Patsy–a stylish and funny dynamite of a woman–did was assign homework.  Step 1: First thing in the morning, say YES to God’s plan for the day.  Step 2: Say THANK YOU for the day and what He’s done.  Step 3: Say NO!  To people, obligations, and other things that take away from what you should be doing or want to be doing.  I’ve been trying to do that over the past few months already, but it seems when one has kids and attends a church, obligations keep piling up!  I need to get better at saying NO.  Later, Andy Andrews backed that up, saying “God wants you to live your life on purpose.”

Sandi Patty, Brenda Warner, Lisa Welchel, Marilyn Meberg, Patsy Clairmont, Mandisa, Kathleen EdwardsBonnie joined me for the Friday evening session, which introduced all the speakers, then Patsy and Andy spoke for the third time each.  The last hour was an energetic concert by Mandisa.  To sum up Friday: Laughter

Women of Faith ConferenceSaturday’s sessions had an hour earlier start.  We arrived just a little late. I particularly enjoyed Lisa Welchel’s message about Friendship for Grownups.  I’d like to read her book.  All the speakers’ different messages seemed to weave through each other’s.  Selah sang beautifully and shared some of their life stories too.  One word to sum up Saturday: Tears.  I didn’t actually cry, but each speaker had me near tears at some point.

Women of Faith Conference SeattleOverall, the conference was organized and well planned.  Well, except for lunch lineups on Friday.  But they sorted that out by Saturday’s lunch.  I would go to a Women of Faith event again. I was uplifted and encouraged as a Christian, a woman, and a friend.  It was a great experience!

The Women of Faith Worship Team. These women wore amazing outfits...and awe-inspiring shoes!

Book Review: The Realms Thereunder, by Ross Lawhead

Book ReviewRoss Lawhead’s The Realms Thereunder is the story of two young adults struggling to put their childhood encounter with the evil of another world behind them, yet seeing that same evil around them in this world. Daniel is living on the streets while Freya attends university and attempts to block out the memory of their adventure.

I found this story instantly intriguing, feeling connected to Daniel and Freya, even though I knew very little of their story.  The author does not begin at the beginning…the childhood adventure took place eight years before the story starts and is related in flashbacks.  Daniel and Freya’s present day lives are permanently affected by their adventure.  Once they return to their normal lives they can’t simply pick up where they left off.  Freya viewed the adventure as terrifying, and developed OCD tendencies and fears.  Daniel’s taste of being a hero left him restless, eventually leading to his homeless state.  And that is where the story begins.
13-year-old Freya, in the midst of their first adventure says,
“I don’t think this is a happy story.  The world is so much more complicated than that cheesy ‘because they were children they were able to overcome the evil-but-stupid wizard’ nonsense they feed to you in kids’ movies.  That stuff never really happens.  It’s just something grown-ups come up with to make children feel better–to make them think that they aren’t small and insignificant.”
The pacing of the story kept me interested, even though it was sometimes difficult to keep straight the time and place–at one point, the story was running in two different times, and in three different worlds!  Another thing hard to sort out was the Old Norse names.  I ended up just skipping them, thinking “that guy” and “the other guy” whenever I should have read “Swidgar” or “Ecgbryt”.  The depth and layers of this story drew me in completely and I cannot wait to read the next in the series.
My copy of this book was provided free from in exchange for an honest review. The opinions noted are mine alone.  The cover photo above was provided by