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

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.


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

Seattle, Day 3: The Shining Emerald City

This morning we had an earlier start.  We had french toast and sausage for breakfast.  Christine is an amazing cook.  Thanks to my Game girls for letting me take these few days off to enjoy it!  And Starbucks.

Walking to the conference went faster with tall Bonnie setting the pace.  I wore canvas flats instead of heeled boots, so it was more comfortable too.  We’ve been talking almost non-stop all day.

We were in the conference from 9am-5pm today, but we spent our lunch break outside to enjoy the fleeting bursts of warm sunshine.  There was a seagull walking around on the pavement looking at us.  She would pad one way on webbed feet, stop and stare, then pad the other way, sneaking closer.  We could just see she thought she was being stealthy.  We shooed her away heartlessly.

Once the conference ended [which I will be writing about soon, once I process everything], we decided to head toward the waterfront and Olympic Sculpture Park.

(Sculpture: Love & Loss, click picture for source)

I particularly loved the ampersand in this sculpture, although we didn’t really get it when we were there.

Walking from the waterfront to the B&B was a lot of uphill trudging!  But we marched and talked, and didn’t really notice the difficulty of the climb.  Of course we stopped at a used bookstore to browse for a while and catch our breath.

For dinner tonight, we planned to check out a place on our restaurant list for Capitol Hill called Hopvine. In our trek down the street, we encountered several groups of people dressed up for Halloween.  One group (including a guy dressed as a bloody female nurse, and another dressed as a patient) asked “Hey, would you mind kissing her? We need a picture of two girls making out!”  Sorry, but no. No. We politely declined.

We walked in the door at Hopvine and discovered it was just a dingy little karaoke bar.  So we went back down the street to Coastal Kitchen.  Oh my, if you like seafood and find yourself in Seattle, you must eat at Coastal Kitchen!  It was so good.  I had traditional fish and chips, which was light and tasty and not greasy at all.  Bonnie had a coconut-encrusted fish with mashed yams and corn on the cob, which she raved about as well.

Dodging halloweeners again (Beetlegeuse this time), we walked back to our Seattle home base and decided chocolate and blogging would be the perfect end to our day.

Seattle, Day 2: Walk, walk, rain, walk, bus

[This post was half-written yesterday, October 28th.  I was too tired to finish.  The post for today is coming.  I hope my play-by-play isn’t boring anyone, but I don’t want to forget anything.  I hope to write something more interesting about this trip so i need all the details.]

I had a delightful sleep last night.  Breakfast this morning, served by Christine was delicious, and it was quite nice to have conversation at breakfast rather than sitting by myself.  Contrary to my expectation, I haven’t been lonely at all here.  I’ve had someone to talk to almost every time I needed it.

I decided to walk the 1.5 or so miles to the Key Arena where the Women of Faith conference is being held.  It was a long walk.  Downhill almost the whole way.  It’s amazing how a little thing like daylight can make one feel completely safe…despite the half-dozen or so people I saw sleeping on the sidewalks at 8:30 am.

I arrived early, and so I got to pick a really great seat (after security checked my bag and almost didn’t let me bring my camera in!  I told them, I just walked 45 minutes, and had nowhere to put my camera.  Eventually they decided it was ok, since it wasn’t a video camera).  I was a little worried about feeling lost and left out for the morning and afternoon sessions, and especially lunch.  I didn’t want a repeat of highschool, when I sat alone eating my lunch with my nose in a book while all the cooler people had fun around me.

But I didn’t need to worry.  Very soon after I sat down, God brought me two new friends!  Kim and Ashley.  It was so nice to talk to them and get to know someone.  Ashley, a blonde teacher (hmm, that sounds familiar…), is Kim’s daughter.  They invited me to have lunch with them.

At the long afternoon break from the conference, I needed to walk from the Key Arena to the Tin Cup Espresso & Coffee House to meet my friend and fellow FellowScript editor Bonnie.  According to google, it would be almost a straight shot: Straight out the east arena doors and down the road until I hat Broad street, turn NE and keep walking ’til I find the place.  Yes, it would be easy!  However, google didn’t mention that Broad street is underground!  Between that and the construction in the area, I lost all confidence in my navigational skills.  Oh, and did I mention it was pouring rain?  I was soaking wet from my thighs to my boots, and grateful for my umbrella.

I stopped in a store to ask directions and make my way to where I needed to be.  I was early, so I kept walking and watched a few float planes land on Lake Union.  Back at the coffee shop, which was no longer called Tin Cup (thanks Google!), Bonnie had just arrived.

Although we had only met for 5 minutes before, two years ago, and only communicated via email and one phone call for the past 10 months, we immediately began chatting like long-lost sisters.  I always knew we’d like each other!

Next we had supper of calamari and pizza at Buca de Bepo, followed by a quick dash back to the arena a few minutes late.  Some guy asked us for money for a sandwich.  We said no and kept walking.  Then he said, “Come on, just a few beers–I mean dollars…”

The conference ended at 10:00.  It was dark.  We walked very fast, making our way to a safe-looking bus stop.  Finally, we made it home, and after a few minutes on the computer, collapsed into bed.