"I laughed, cried, felt the urgency . . . the story will take you to another dimension of 'ahhh' moments of reflection and insight that will 'gotcha.' I could read this book again and again and get something more. I enjoyed i from the second I began to read."

"A thick slice of MaryAnn Easley pie. Oozing UFOs, sweet on science, and warm with fantasy. This veteran children's writer's many young fans should be satiated.....for now!"

Sunday, February 22, 2015


There's nothing better than a good movie, and there are six valuable lessons we can learn from writers of screenplays:

1) SCREENWRITERS DON'T WASTE TIME GETTING INTO THE STORY. Since we live in a world of sound bites, text messages, IM, and emoticons, readers don't have the patience to open a book, much less concentrate long. Therefore, we need to take this attention deficit disorder into account and make sure there's an emotional connection right from the beginning story.

2) SCREENWRITERS NAIL THE BEGINNING. As novel writers, we must revise the first ten pages over and over and over again. Revision is the only way to get it right.

And villains. As authors, we need to make the protagonist a fully rounded character. This is especially true if the protagonist is also the POV narrator.

4) SCREENWRITERS WRITE ECONOMICALLY.  Every line in a screenplay moves the story forward. Every scene in a novel should be there for a reason. We must not overwrite. We must delete, kill our "darlings," get rid of  "on the nose" dialogue, and cut out lots of backstory. 

We need to make sure every character in our story has a unique voice. Dialogue should reveal character and move the story forward.

5) SCREENWRITERS KNOW THEIR AUDIENCE  As novelists, we need to analyze our readership, the genre we're writing in, and the type of readers we want to attract. Choosing a few Beta readers from this group is helpful during revision.

6) SCREENWRITERS UNDERSTAND THE THREE-ACT STRUCTURE. Novel writers can benefit by analyzing this story structure. In a nutshell:

By page ten, readers want to be introduced to your hero, know what he or she wants, and feel comfortable in the genre of the story. 

By the end of Act One, readers should have an idea where the story is headed, what the stakes are, and the obstacles preventing the hero from achieving that goal. By the middle of Act Two, readers expect the stakes to be raised, a new character introduced, and/or a more difficult obstacle.  

By the end of Act Two, readers know your hero will be in terrible trouble, backed into a corner, thrown into a crucible, or caught in the midst of some inescapable situation. And the tension builds. 

In Act Three, readers expect your hero to overcome the odds, create a new plan, or escape, learn to deal with, or thwart an impossible situation. And this leads to the big satisfying ending. 

OSCAR WINNING MOVIES provide enjoyment for audiences and lessons for authors.  Writing is an art form, and novelists and screenwriters can learn from each other. Analyzing screenplays can become a part of your creative process and lead to better story scenes, structure, and dialogue.

Sunday, February 15, 2015




The hook pulls the reader into the story. You have about 20-50 pages in a novel. Actually, agents and readers might give you one page, so make sure the hook is a good one. 


Establish your hero early. It might be your POV narrator. The reader must connect with your hero and other story characters and identify with them in some universal way. Make certain your hero is flawed in some way but capable of surprising and startling things.


If the hero has nothing to lose, who cares? To keep the story interesting, make sure the reader understands what's at stake from the beginning. Make the stakes dramatic and important to the hero. High stakes will force your hero to do something and move the story forward.


When revising, be sure to hint of things that come later in the story. If the reader suspects impending doom or imminent change, he or she will keep turning pages.


Story is conflict. Without conflict, there's no change. Nothing in a story should remain static. It's a character's response to conflict that reveals his or her character and brings about change in the plot, establishes a character arc, and perhaps offers a surprising result in the end.

Saturday, February 7, 2015



SHOWING brings readers into the story instead of keeping them as distant observers. I usually quote Anton Chekov. "Don't tell me the moon is shining. Show me the glint of light on broken glass."

And usually my students ask what I mean. What does "show, don't tell" actually mean and how can it be accomplished?

It's almost a cliché when writing instructors give students this age-old advice. I must admit that I suggest this revision at least once a week.

SHOWING is accomplished through specific and sensory detail, the smells and sounds, what is seen and heard and how something tastes.

Concrete nouns and the right action verbs also contribute to showing.

Authors must work with the immediate physical and emotional actions of their story characters. SHOWING evokes feelings through the use of 1) specific detail, 2) action verbs, and 3) active voice.

As John Gardiner says, "It's by being convincing in the reality and detail of how we evoke our imagined world— by what the characters do and say—that we persuade the reader to read the story we're telling as if it really happened, even though we all know it didn't."

Dialogue is a good way to show. Dialogue is action.

Characters are speaking and interacting. Like in a movie scene, this is action.

Authors, however, must make dialogue count. It must not be meaningless dialogue. instead, it must reveal character and move the story forward. 

Careful consideration to the way each character speaks is important. The dialogue must be right so that what characters say is consistent with who they are, the way they talk, and how they think about things. People speak differently, with attitude, tone of voice, and hardly anyone ever speaks in complete sentences.

SHOWING is dramatic and makes readers feel in the moment with the character and the action taking place.

TELLING is perfectly acceptable, useful for exposition, a way to cover ground as a narrator, and a way to supply information.

TELLING is hearing something secondhand. It describes the situation rather than the story, but it's SHOWING that makes the story come alive and brings readers into a scene. 

Specific details, action verbs, good dialogue and active voice can accomplish this all important feat and improve the work-in-progress dramatically.

Sunday, February 1, 2015


Well, okay, I must admit I'm no scientist and perhaps what I write about in my twelfth upcoming book, CHANGED IN THE NIGHT, is really not science at all, only pseudoscience . . . but what the bleep do I know? 

I certainly don't know the theory of everything.

Ages ago, back in my teen years, high school science meant dissecting dead things marinating in formaldehyde and memorizing hieroglyphic symbols and equations, but that was then and this is now. 

So down the rabbit hole I go.

My White Rabbit Friend  (Photo by Pam Fish)

At this late date, I'm attracted by how thought can affect water molecules, tantalized by the possibility of parallel universes where carbon copies of me are leading totally separate lives from the life I'm living, and curious if other dimensions might be filled with thinking and breathing life forms. I'm also puzzled about our ways of seeing and the evidence that the mind can actually alter events through meditation or intense concentration. 

Who wouldn't be awed by the incredible fact that everything is energy, including you and me, and it's our perceptions that create our reality? 

Now these are scientific bites I can chew on awhile and find easy to digest. In fact, I want to devour more and don't even mind the homework as I attempt to explain the unexplainable to readers who are most likely light-years ahead of me when it comes to Science 101, an advanced species compared to the good old days of Roswell and UFOs over the White House and sightings no one could explain.

Okay, I must admit I might have gone straight down the rabbit hole while writing CHANGED IN THE NIGHT, but I sure had a great time doing the research and poring over unclassified information and exploring quantum physics or, as scientists might want to suggest, quantum nonsense. 

As my old friend, Alice in Wonderland, might say, it's all quite a puzzle, isn't it? 

I'm an admirer of scientist Richard Dawkins who remarked that authors seem undecided whether their theme is quantum theory or consciousness, but since both ideas are equally appealing to me, does it really matter?

He's not referring to me, of course, or to my writing per se, but to the cult favorite, "What the Bleep Do We Know?" a film I've seen a few times.

Technology, quantum physics, and the cosmos seem to conspire to outdate us before we can grasp all the concepts. We update our apps and then update them hours later; we link devices that are outdated the minute we exit the store. It's impossible to stay current. 

Science is our future, no doubt about it. Our myths and legends indicate we surely come from star stuff, and it seems we're on a collision course with our future selves; maybe we really are our own worst enemy. 

Anyone seeking spiritual connections can surely find meaning in the stars even though science writer Margaret Wertheim claims, "No scientific discovery has proved so ripe for spiritual projection as the theories of quantum physics, replete with their quixotic qualities of uncertainty, simultaneity and parallelism." 

But it's exquisite fun for me to think about such things as I try to interpret meaning in the way planets are arranged and attempt to translate the synchronicity that reoccurs throughout life as evidence of our human decay or destiny. 

And even though my investigative search plunges me right down the rabbit hole, what's not to love about those quixotic qualities of quantum physics? 

How fortunate that young people today have all this information at their fingertips. As we race headlong into an uncertain future, I want my readers to appreciate the value of science and the secrets revealed by discovery, to be open minded about science religion. What better tools for their journey through life than a deep appreciation of the exciting theories of quantum physics with all the uncertainty, simultaneity and parallelism?

Parallel universes and the concepts of time and space are on my mind recently, and as the creator of a fictional world, these tantalizing ideas are woven into my plot as a way to arouse the curiosity of my readers. 

So I suppose in the final analysis, going down the rabbit hole isn't such a bad thing. Anything that engages readers and encourages them to further investigate interesting topics they might never have considered before is worthwhile. Our job as authors is to arouse awareness about the world we live in and impart insight into our human struggle to be better and more noble than we are. 

CHANGED IN THE NIGHT is the story of sixteen-year-old Allana Odette, an unstable loner marked by aliens. Abandoned and isolated and mourning the loss of her brother, she creates a portal that lures her into frightening dimensions where nothing is as it seems.