Thursday, May 21, 2015

Thirteen Zinger Questions

A while ago, we talked about conversation starters. Well, yesterday while I was proctoring a test, I found this fabulous list of questions and I knew I had to share with you.

1. If you had an endless supply of any food, what would you get? I think my answer would change depending on the time, but today I’m going to say ice cream-- all different flavors. The kind of ice cream you can get when you drive up to a custard stand.
2. If you are an animal what would you be and why? I’d be a raccoon. I like how they’re smart and they can pretty much get into anyplace they want to get into. When I was a camp counselor, the raccoons were able to turn the knob on the unit house store door and then open the refrigerator and helped their selves to all of our food.
3. When you were little who is your superhero and why? Robin. My brother was Batman and I wanted to play with him, so I always chose Robin.
4. Are you a morning or a night person? Morning.
5. What’s your favorite thing to do in the summer? Be outside. I like to hike, garden, picnic and just enjoy the sunshine and the nature around me.
Tulips from my garden

6. What’s the weirdest thing you ever ate? Deep-fried grasshoppers.
7. What are your favorite hobbies? Reading. Writing. Photography. And people watching.
8. What’s the ideal dream job for you? Easy. It’s the teaching job I have now.
9. If someone made a movie of your life would it be a drama, a comedy, a romantic comedy, an action film, or a science fiction? Hard question. I’d like it to be a romantic comedy. That said it’s still unfolding, so I have to let you know at the end.
10. Tell us about a unique or quickie habit of yours. I write fiction, which means I often talk to myself imagining what my characters are saying to each other. Sometimes people catch me doing it.
11. If you are an ice cream flavor, which one would you be and why? I’d be vanilla because it goes with everything, but I’d keep changing my toppings.
12. If you could describe yourself in three words what would they be? Creative. Energetic. Kind.
13. If you could visit a place in the world, where would you choose to go and why? I couldn’t just pick one place. There’s so many wonderful spots of the world that I haven’t seen—I’d like to visit every country at least once.

I think you’ll agree these questions are really interesting. You’ve probably learned a lot about me in this reading, and I’d like to learn about you. If you’re up for it, I’d like you to pick one question and answer it in the comments. Thank you.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Thirteen Snapshots of the Wisconsin Romance Writers' 2015 Write Touch Conference and Barbara Vey's Reader Appreciation Luncheon

Just so you know, this Write Touch Conference was my favorite so far. The writers, agents and editors were super approachable. On Friday, I used the suggested conversation starters readers gave me and I made some new friends.

On Saturday at the luncheon, which Barbara Vey had for readers I collected a huge bag of books and then I won another basket of books from Ruthie Knox. I’m looking forward to lots of happy hours with the new stories.

Then, on Sunday, I learned useful things from Mary Buckham, our keynote speaker.

To thank you for your suggestions and to share some of the weekend’s fun with you, here are thirteen pictures.

1. Barbara M. Britton and Kathryn Albright 
2. Jody Allen and Cheryl Yeko
3. Carla Luna Cullen and Karen I. Miller

4.  Molly Maka and Tricia Quinnies
5.  Maureen Welli, Victoria Hinshaw  and Mary Buckham
6. Winning a basket of dirty laundry and books at Barbara Vey's Reader Appreciation Luncheon
7. Donna MacMeans at her table
8. Another fun table at Barbara Vey's Reader Appreciation Luncheon
9. Gina L. Maxwell 
10. Mia Celeste and Ruthie Knox and the box of her books I won. 
11. Tess Gerritsen and Mia Celeste

12. Michelle Grajkowski and Winnie Griggs at Winnie's Table

13. Kate MacEachern

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Setting & Description as Secret Characters in Your Story

By Elizabeth MS Flynn w/a Eilis Flynn

What lingers in your mind when you finish a great story? Sometimes it’s the hero or the heroine. Sometimes it’s the crisp, crackling dialogue that made you laugh out loud (sometimes in public, embarrassingly enough) or bawl (also sometimes in public, definitely embarrassingly enough). And sometimes, whether you realize it or not, it could even be—gasp!—the setting.

Every part of a story can be memorable and stick in the minds of the reader. Setting is an unappreciated factor in so many stories, but without it, truly memorable stories could fall flat. Setting and description can be very, very memorable. Every story has a setting, and it’s a character in its own right. Setting and its description has a voice of its own, and it needs to be heard. Believe it or not, the setting of your story should be as well-defined as any of your human characters, and certainly something that you remember after you finish the work, writing it or reading it. How can you make the settings of your stories so memorable that it lingers in your readers’ minds as much as the hero and the heroine and the dialogue?

Think of weather, rain as miserable as mud or snow soft and deadly. Think of climate, always hot and sticky and humid. Think of seasons, whether summer or spring. Think of the lamppost always shining in the eternal snow in Narnia at the beginning of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe (where it’s always winter but never Christmas). All of it comes together to shape your story and sticks in your imagination.

What’ s an example of a memorable settings? Manderley, of course. The great estate that is the center of Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca is a wonderfully memorable place, filled with wealth and sumptuousness and creepy servants who have it out for someone whom they think wants to replace their favored mistress. Will we ever see Manderley itself, for real? No (although there are various houses that are thought to be the basis of the house). Will we ever see Thornfield Hall, the home of Edward Rochester, the hero of Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre? No, but we’ll always look up at great houses and the small window at the top, and remember the attic forever holding a crazy lady locked up there. We’ll always remember, in our mind’s eye, what the house must have looked like in its heyday, and what it looked like after it was set on fire, then in smoldering ruins.

Your setting can stay in the imagination of the reader for as long as he or she remembers the characters or the story. What’s the secret? Come to my online workshop at until May 17 and find out how to make your settings and descriptions as haunting as the authors we examine!

Elizabeth MS Flynn has written fiction in the form of comic book stories, romantic fantasies, urban fantasies, historical fantasies and short stories, a young adult novel, and a graphic novella (most published under the name of Eilis Flynn). She’s also a professional editor and has been for more than 35 years, working with academia, technology, and finance nonfiction, and romance fiction. If you’re looking for an editor, she can be found editing at and reached at If you’re curious about her books, check out In any case, she can be reached at