Monthly Archives: May 2013

Interview with Valerie Tate

BBT: Hi, Valerie, Thank you for joining me for this interview. Please take a minute to introduce yourself and your books that are currently available.

Valerie: Thanks so much for inviting me, Trista! The past year has been quite exciting. My first book, CATNIP, was published in July, 2012, by That Right Publishing. CATNIP is a cozy mystery set in the fictitious town of Dunbarton, Ontario. Amanda Dunbar, matriarch of the Dunbar family the town is named after, flies in the face of reason and leaves the family fortune to her cat, Marmalade. The fur starts to fly when Christopher Mallory, lawyer and trustee to the cat, has to break the news to the rest of the family. The terms of the will state that if the family remains in the house and takes care of the feline heir, the money will ultimately pass to Amanda’s grand-daughter, Alicia. However, should anything happen to Marmalade that even hints at foul play, the estate will pass to the local animal shelter. When Maramalade disappears it is a race to locate him before Christopher and the family lose everything. The stakes are raised even higher when a murder occurs and they find themselves the prime suspects.

BBT: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

Valerie: I always loved books and started writing when I was twelve. It was mysteries even then.

BBT: Is fiction the only genre you write in?

Valerie: At the present time, it is.

BBT: Do you have a specific writing style?

Valerie: I write cozy mysteries that have a touch of humour.

BBT: What are your current projects?

Valerie: I just sent my second novel to my publisher. It is called HORSE SENSE and it’s the second in the Dunbarton Mystery Series. Chris and Alicia travel to King Township to help their friend, dressage rider Alex Craig, who has just discovered she has been the victim of fraud and theft.

The third novel in the series, FROG LEGS, is in the planning stage.

BBT: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

Valerie: Starting a new book is the hardest part. It isn’t getting the idea. I have lots of those. It is the knowledge of how all-consuming it is once it is begun. I have to keep pen and paper beside my bed and in the car because something will come to me and if it doesn’t get written down right away it can be lost.

BBT: Do you have any advice for other writers?

Valerie: Trying to get published can be a long and frustrating experience. Even the most successful of authors received many rejections before finding a publisher. The closing of submissions by most of the larger houses has increased the difficulty and finding an agent is a time-consuming and often fruitless pursuit. Despite all of this, it is possible to find a publisher. Make your manuscript the best it can possibly be and then get it out there. There are many new indie publishers who are accepting submissions without an agent. Don’t give up.

BBT: What genre do you most often read?

Valerie: As you can tell from my own books, I love mysteries. Some of my favourite mystery authors are Louise Penny, Kathy Reichs, Elizabeth Peters and Alan Bradley.

BBT: What book are you reading now?

Valerie: I’m reading Cross Bones by Kathy Reichs. It is a fascinating story involving archaeology and the discovery of Biblical era bones in Israel.

BBT: What would you say has had the most influence on your writing? (books, experiences, etc.)

Valerie: I believe that all of the books I have read over the years have influenced my writing style. While my books are fiction, many places and incidents that occur in the stories are based on things that have happened in my life.

BBT: Do you have a blog or website?

Valerie: I have a website. It is

BBT: Anything you’d like to say to your readers?

Valerie: I love hearing that someone has enjoyed my book. It is a thrill for me every time someone takes the time to write a review.

BBT:  Thank you so much again, Valerie! I read most of CATNIP and really enjoyed it.  I look forward to finishing reading it as well as to reading your other books.  Readers, I highly recommend Miss Tate’s work. If you like to  cozy up with a good, page turning mystery, you won’t want to miss CATNIP.  You’ll find a link to purchase it, as well as an excerpt from the book on Valerie’s website, where you can also learn more about her and keep up with her upcoming novels.


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Point of View

Today I’m going to talk about Point of View.  When referring to literature, Point of View is the perspective of your narrative voice. Think of it as the pronoun you choose to use in your narration. There are several options to go with: first-person, second-person, third-person omniscient, and third-person limited. It’s very important to have a strong narrative voice, regardless of which point of view you choose. I suggest you listen to your characters and determine whose story it is before you make your final decision. Once you’ve decided, make sure you remain consistent with the point of view you’ve chosen throughout your story.

When a story is narrated by one character at a time, with the character speaking for and about themselves, this is first-person narrative. The narrator refers to himself/herself using first-person singular, “I”  and/or  first-person plural, “we”.  This allows readers to see the opinions, thoughts, and feelings only of the narrator, and no other characters. First-person narrators may refer to information they’ve heard from the other characters, in order to try to deliver a larger point of view or  the author  may chose to switch from one narrator to another. This allows the readers to experience the thoughts and feelings of more than one character.

Second-person narrative,  is basically a narrative mode in which the main character is referred to by use of  the second-person singular pronoun “you”,  in combination with imperative voice. This is not a very common narrative technique in literary fiction. Here’s an example:

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.”
(Dr. Seuss, Oh! The Places You’ll Go! 1990)

Third-person narrative gives authors the greatest flexibility  and is the most common narrative mode in literature. In the third-person narrative every character is referred to by the narrator as “he”, “she”, “it”, or “they”.  In third-person narrative, the narrator is  an  uninvolved person that conveys the story and is not a character of any kind within the story being told.

The most common type of third-person narrative is third-person singular (he/she). However, there have been successful uses of the third-person plural (they). It is common to see singular and plural used together in one story, at different times depending upon the number of people being referred to at a given moment in the plot.

Third person omniscient is a method in which the narrator knows the thoughts and feelings of all of the characters in the story, as opposed to third person limited which  sticks to one character’s perspective.

I won’t go deeper into third-person, but feel free to ask questions or research if you like. It’s a good idea to know everything there is to know about the viewpoint you choose and to check out examples before you begin writing.

While it is advised to adopt a single approach to point of view throughout your story, there are exceptions. Some stories alternate between the first and third person. In this instance, an author will move back and forth between a more omniscient third-person narrator to a more personal first-person narrator. Other stories alternate between third person limited and third person omniscient . Viewpoints can be switched at chapter boundaries or between characters at intervals. Make sure that you swap view points in a consistent pattern so you don’t confuse your readers.  I won’t go too deeply into this either as I’m short on time, just know that alternating viewpoints can be done  and there are different ways to do it. I hope I haven’t forgotten anything!

Here are some references I used and some other websites and pictures that you might find useful.


Thanks for reading! See you next week 🙂


Filed under Fiction Writing, Point of View

Commonly misused words

I proof read a lot, be it my own work, or the work of fellow authors.  It’s something I’ve always loved to do. I’m a member of authonomy, I recently started a writing group, and my friends and I help each other revise schoolwork from time to time. I even find myself editing books and articles that I read for fun (my husband says I’m a nerd. ha.). I come across a lot of misused words. I have to admit, I’m guilty of a few of them occasionally, if I’m in a rush. But my high school Accelerated English teacher trained me well and there are a few that really bug me now if I happen across them: accept/except (accept is a noun meaning to take or receive,to agree or consent to,to undertake the responsibility of. except is a preposition that means “excluding” ), affect/effect (affect is a verb, meaning to influence, effect is a noun, and basically is a result) and alot/a lot (a lot being the correct way of writing it).  Another one I see quite a bit is their/there/they’re. I use this sentence when I try to explain it to someone: They’re (they are)going there(a place) in their(possessive form of they) vehicle.  I think I learned that in English class, too. 🙂 I found a list of the most commonly misused words on Writer’s Web. The list gives the meaning and correct use of each word. Check it out.  You might learn something. There was one on there that I didn’t know, complement/compliment. Complement is something that completes, whereas compliment is praise. I knew the different meanings, I just didn’t realize it was spelled differently.  Even if you feel you already know the meaning of words, it doesn’t hurt to review from time to time.  Sometimes I still refer to lists and books to double check when I’m not sure. My favorite book to use is  Writer’s Inc, but there are a lot of options out  there.   I also use proof reader’s marks like the ones in the chart below while I’m editing (I like to print stuff out to edit it) and I usually go over the document I’m working on two or three times at least. Whether you’re writing for an assignment or you’re writing in hopes of being published, you want to make sure your work is at its best. I hope you find these tips helpful 🙂 Happy writing!


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Filed under editing, Fiction Writing, writing in general

Read any good books lately?

bookworm new booksI’m a bookaholic. Whether it’s actual bound books(there’s just something about the way a book smells and feels in your hands as you turn the pages) or e Books, I can’t seem to have enough of them around. Being a wife, mom, and student, among other things, I don’t always have the time to read like I use to. I barely have time to write. But occasionally, I do get the chance. Right now I’m reading Pirate Latitudes, by Michael Crichton. I’m about half way through. The book was actually found on his computer after he died. I’m not sure how I feel about that. I wouldn’t like it much if someone published my work that I hadn’t got around to polishing up yet. There’s one encounter with a sea monster that doesn’t go anywhere at all. The creature is spotted, then the story moves on to other things. I’m sure, had he lived a little longer, it would’ve been made into a magnificent scene. This scene doesn’t take away from the book, too much, though. I’m still enjoying it. I’m a big Crichton fan; I especially like Jurassic Park. I’m always looking for my next book to read, although I currently have a  mile long ‘to read’ list. I also have a mile long ‘reading’ list. I read four or five books at a time. I keep one in my car, I have a couple down stairs I’m reading, a couple or three in the living room, and one beside my bed. I just finished the Hunger Games series and I’m thinking about reading it again. It’s that good. I sincerely hope I write a book as awesome as those three books are someday. I’ve been kind of busy lately and my writing, this blog included, has taken a back burner, but I’m always coming up with ideas and jotting them down in hopes of following them up when I get a minute. I’ve been trying to read books that are similar to the ones I have up in my head in hopes they’ll give me that spark of inspiration I’ve been waiting for. I seriously should do that time management blog I talked about earlier…

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