Check out some of the guest blog posts that I've written over the years. The most recent blog posts are listed first.
(Published: Nov 23, 2022)
When we talk about the beats of a story, we're referring to the rise and fall of action that pulses through a story and propels the reader forward. At certain points, the action progresses in a pattern that is identifiable, typically falling into one of the many story structure models out there.
We might give the core beat points names like the inciting incident, the midpoint, or the all-is-lost moment. But we connect these beat points to the protagonist of the story.
It's the protagonist that the reader wants to see win, and in many cases, it's through the protagonist that the reader experiences the story. So, it only makes sense that the story structure is closely connected to the protagonist. However, the antagonist plays a significant role in the way a story plays out too.
(Published: August 21, 2020)
I value my connection with the local writing community. When I started on my writing journey, it was the knowledge and experience of other writers that helped me to see where I can improve and how to do it. I wouldn't be the writer I am today without the other writers I've met over the years. It's my support network, and when the self-doubt monster attacks, that support network is vital.
Under ideal circumstances, writers should associate with other writers who write similar genres and enjoy reading similar stories, but that's not always possible. Sometimes, personality plays a role, as do ambitions and dreams. In those cases, there are other options available, if you are willing to reach outside your comfort zone.
(Published: Oct 18, 2019)
Christchurch, New Zealand has a strong writing community, with a long writing legacy to help back us up. But part of the reason that we are so strong is that everywhere you go, there are write-ins and discussion groups for writers.
Writing is a solitary activity for the majority of people. Many of us write in complete isolation, cut off from the real world around us, sinking our entire existence into our make-believe worlds. And to get the writing done, we tend to sacrifice our socializing times. As much as writing is solitary, we can’t do it alone. This is where write-ins come into their own—particularly during NaNoWriMo.
So, what are the benefits?
(Published: July 11, 2019)
You and your friends have been looking forward to your adventure in Australia. You’ve rented a car with a GPS system, so you won’t get lost as you drive around in the Outback. But your adventures are brought to a swift end when the GPS give you instructions to turn down a road that leads you in one direction: straight into the Pacific Ocean.
But the GPS system can’t be wrong. Your eyes must be the ones at fault. So, you keep driving, despite the water climbing up your door.
It might sound like fiction, but it’s not. In 2012, a group of Japanese tourists did exactly that. They trusted the GPS system so blindly that they drove into the middle of nowhere—and into the ocean. The hilarity of the situation swept the world, bringing about so many questions, the biggest of which is how anyone could not see that they were driving into the ocean?
(Published: Sept 24, 2018)
The writing community in Christchurch, New Zealand is strong, with a long history of writers giving us a legacy we cherish. With New Zealand’s top crime novel award dedicated to Ngaio Marsh, and children’s playgrounds filled with Margaret Mahy’s imagination, we Christchurch writers are surrounded by inspiration. The Pacific Ocean is on one side and the Southern Alps are on the other. The real Middle Earth is only a short drive away.
There is one common theme that runs strongly through the Christchurch writing community: writing is a way of life.
(Published: September 6, 2018)
You’re watching your favorite crime TV show or movie. There comes a point when the detectives are looking at the images from the CCTV footage taken at the time of the crime. The chief investigator leans over the shoulder of the technician in charge of cleaning up those images, trying to find anything that was missed in the initial passes.
“There.” She points to the screen. “What’s that?”
The tech zooms in on what looks like nothing but a fuzzy blob.
“Can you clean it up?”
The technician hunches over the keyboard. A few keystrokes and clicks of the mouse later, the image reveals the fully featured face of the mob boss that they have been trying to catch since the beginning. Or you get that license plate number from the gray blob. Pick any detail that you want, and Hollywood can make it appear out of thin air, claiming that it’s science.
(Published: May 4, 2017)
I remember quite clearly the thoughts that went through my mind when I started down the path toward publication. Time and time again, I would see a reference somewhere saying that all writers needed a platform. The jargon was bounced around every which way, and I was so lost.
A writer’s platform is not a website or social media — for that matter, it’s not your books. A writer’s platform is everything that you do to connect with your readers.
This is where those building an online presence tend to fall down. Many writers push their latest book until people are sick of seeing the ads. For those who have yet to publish, it will be blog post after blog post. However, the connection with the readers is lost.
Social media is called social media for a reason — because it’s meant to be social. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. are all about interacting and fostering connections that could be beneficial in the future.
(Published: September 26, 2016)
Ooo… Top 5 tips… But there are so many… How to choose? Let’s focus on the most important things. 1) Don’t rush the process. 2) No character or scene is so sacred that it can’t find the editing-room floor. 3) ALWAYS get another writer to read through your work, not a member of your family. 4) During at least one of your editorial passes, read your manuscript aloud – not just part of it, but the entire thing. 5) Don’t pay to have a first draft professionally edited.
(Published: August 18, 2016)
The satellite whizzes overheard, being realigned by the technician in some bunker in a secret location. After moments of clicking at the keyboard, a series of images flicker across the screen. Details of the landscape come into focus, but that detail is not enough. The technician taps the keyboard, clicks the mouse and the cameras on the satellite overhead zoom in. They’ve found him. They can see exactly what he’s wearing and the backpack he has slung across his shoulder. Oh no… The hero is now in danger. RUN, JASON BOURNE! RUN! While Hollywood would in reality take those zooming-in shots using a hover drone, believe it or not, the concept that the movie makers are trying to portray is very real. As much as you might try and hide, you can’t; the spy satellite will see you.
Kiwi in US Writing Market
(Published: April 25, 2016)
New Zealand… Aotearoa, as the native Maori call it — the land of the long white cloud. It's a country filled with majestic beauty: a mountain range that spans the length of half the country; volcanic lakes and desert terrain; beaches within a few short minutes drive of any major metropolis; secluded forest bush that takes you back in time; and farmland everywhere you turn. (The original post is no longer available, but a copy has been posted on my personal blog.)
(Published: April 7, 2016)
Imagine driving through a parking garage looking for a perfect place to park. You find one, so you go to pull in, only to be confronted by a man in a wheelchair telling you that your perfect parking spot is actually a handicapped spot. You step out of your car confused. Where did this man come from?
(Published: January 14, 2016)
With the recent release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, many YouTube videos have surfaced professing that the video’s creator has made a real lightsaber. However, if you watch the video, you discover that what was created was actually a glorified blowtorch, complete with the long, narrow, blue flame.