Tag Archives: Inspiration

Reading it over…for the first time!

Reading it over…for the first time!

Good morning, everyone.

First of all, let’s talk about the weather. No, seriously… we are having a heatwave in central Canada! I keep advertising my books and telling readers they should stalk up for the fall/winter weather reading. I don’t think anyone is even reading my posts, they are all outside walking around in shorts. Aww, good for them. When the cold does hit us, we will be in shock for the first few weeks and really complaining. Especially here in Canada. That is our national pastime – we may be polite but we are also big time complainers when it comes to the weather. No one is complaining at the moment though.

Were any of you wondering about my subject line? How can you read something over again … for the first time? I discovered that you can. Perhaps some of you have noticed that my Parson’s Cove mystery series is no longer available. There is a reason; I am reading them over again for the first time. In doing so, I have discovered something about myself. I am not the horrible writer that I thought I was. My first book, Slip and Go Die, is actually quite a good read.

I don’t know if other authors are like me but once a book was published, I never went back to read it. I moved on. In the back of my mind, I was afraid I would see too many mistakes and I would see what readers didn’t like about it. By that time, I felt it was too late to do anything about it anyway, so why torture myself. However, once it was unpublished, I could read it with an open mind and make all those changes I was dreading that I would find.

Guess what? There were very few changes that I had to make. I did remove about a hundred commas, semi-colons, and colons, but other than that, I was quite pleased with my writing.

The moral of this story is not to tell writers to republish all their books, it is simply to say, you are probably a better writer than you think you are. Don’t be afraid to go back and reread your old books. It will boost your confidence and give you the incentive to encourage readers to buy your books. Then when you are promoting your work, you will do it like you mean it … and you will mean it!

(On the other hand, you might read it, hate it, and stop writing altogether. That, of course, is a discussion for another day!)




My Great Obsession








It’s true; I have a great obsession. It began as a child but has not only stayed with me, it has blossomed! Or perhaps, I should refer to it as an addiction.

My earliest recollection was when I was about four years old. We lived in a small town in northern Saskatchewan in Canada. Friends invited me to spend the afternoon at their cabin by the lake and my mother agreed. Sometime during my visit, I must have become bored because I left the group and discovered something wonderful. It was a PATH! I can still recall it as if it were yesterday. It was a narrow path leading out into the woods and there were bluebells growing on both sides. I picked flowers as I wandered down the trail, not knowing of course, that by this time there was a search party out looking for me. Fortunately, before they started dragging the lake for my body, I decided I’d better head back to camp!

I have always been intrigued by paths. There is something mysterious about them. Where do they go? What will you find along the way? Is there an end to the path? Is it a ‘dead end’ or is there something to see – like a waterfall or a bench overlooking a lake? Who decided to make the path in the first place? How old is this path? How many have walked the path? Was anyone famous?

My father was a professional photographer, as is my daughter, so I have always carried a camera around with me. I have one scrapbook simply filled with pictures of paths. There are pictures taken in my backyard – the path to our gazebo, the path through the snow to our shed in the winter, an overgrown path through my perennial garden. But I also have pictures of paths taken on trips through mountains, paths discovered in parks, paths leading to beaches. Every one similar but unique and filled with a memory.
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Ah, but what has that got to do with writing? Isn’t writing very similar? You start out with an idea that feels so exciting but you haven’t figured out exactly where it will lead you. As you journey down the path, you picture the ending, the characters  you’ll meet along the way, and you visualize the twists and turns you will encounter. Even though you might have to hike through some rough patches as you do on some trails, you work your way through and make it to the finish. Your story is finished. You have conquered your path! Now, wasn’t that a great adventure?

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You can find my stories and adventures on

Where We Do What We Do


Hi there, guys and dolls! Today, my real life alter egos Andrea and Heather are taking over the blog again, writing about well, writing. What they write and where they write it, to be specific. Not only in the matter of place, but also the atmosphere and feeling the surroundings give.

On the weekend, they conducted a very successful Creative Writing Workshop, generously hosted by the Mission Branch of the Okanagan Regional Library System. They met some wonderful fellow authors, some who write fiction too, but also people who write memoirs, poetry, nature blogs, and various non-fiction projects, of all walks of life and age at various stages of accomplishments. It was fascinating to connect and share their experiences, giving thoughts on what works and doesn’t work for them.

The biggest thing? Write, just write. Give reverence to your projects, to the ideas buzzing in your head. Set aside time, take it seriously, even if you are only at the beginning, as it is a very good place to start.


The girls also talked about different processes in writing projects, from germinating to saving the final draft. Through their experiences, they’ve found some places and ways that naturally keep them in the groove and literally on the page as they go along.


It seems that when they are at the beginning of a book, namely their Poppy Cove Mystery Series at this point (other works will be forthcoming, give them time!), being somewhere lively and busy is very helpful. A mid-afternoon spent in a beautiful restaurant, bustling cafe, or pub lingering over a glass of wine or cup of coffee while the world goes by does wonders for how they plot and scheme the complicated lives of their Santa Lucians. A beautiful view down by the lake on a delightful beach in the shade, listening to waves and laughter of others is helpful as well.


For the actual writing, however, having a dedicated writing room is ideal. Being able to come and go from it between writing sessions is terrific, along with the solace of a room of one’s own lends itself to filling in the color of the plots and story. Background music is always playing, usually Frank Sinatra or jazz such as Charlie Parker, Nina Simone, Blossom Dearie, Chet Baker and the like from the mid-century era does wonders for their creativity. During editing, classical such as Mozart, Beethoven, and Bach are very helpful with their rhythmic foundations.

Please feel free to share your thoughts on what inspires you to do what you do and where you do it.

Warm Regards,

Andrea & Heather

aka that Barbara Jean


Start Me Up



Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work. ~ Stephen King

Start with the smell of burnt toast. Or look for a pair of missing earrings. Try falling out of love. Or waiting for an interview for a job you desperately want ( or one you never thought you’d have to get). Start with a line from a song or a classic movie. Look at a snapshot from a family album. Or a photo from the newspaper.

These are all prompts I have used in creative writing workshops to help writers tap into the creative well that is available to every artist. We typically use the first twenty to thirty minutes of each session to just write, write, write. The prompt is merely a suggestion a jumping off point which can be used or eschewed in favor of an image or idea rumbling around in a writer’s head. The premise: uncensored, uninhabited writing can open the creative passageway often blocked by the raging self-doubt of that pesky inner critic who always seems to tag along for the ride.

After we finish writing, folks can share or pass ( I’m the only one who never passes; I think as the facilitator it is incumbent upon me to share). No one offers criticism. How can we? We know the work can’t be very good; it is after all, a very raw, rough draft. People can, however, mention a particular image that stood out, if they are so inclined.

The surprising thing: many of the images, turns of phrase, characters, are often vivid or amusing or touching. Some even serve as starting points for stories and poems, scripts and even books. You’d be amazed at what your inner artist can do when s/he is left to play without fear of recriminations, without that pounding “It’s no good,” “No one will care,” “No one will ever publish this.”

These exercises give you permission to try, to play, to experiment. And once you dip into that creative well, you’re apt to dip in again and again.

Is something burning? It may be your desire to connect or re-connect with your inner artist. Or it may just be your breakfast. Either way, it’s time to get started.

Cheers and onward