A Writer’s Tool – Flowers

Have you ever wondered why children find the dandelion so beautiful they will give it to one of the people they love the most – their mother.  All children do this.  Yet, as we get older we see the dandelion as a pesky weed – not beautiful but annoying.

We teach children to destroy them.  It can be a perfect example of how we change perception.  It also teaches us that beauty is really in the eyes of the beholder.


As a child I enjoyed blowing those pieces of fluff into the winds as much as blowing bubbles.

Now, I see flowers as a wonderful creation for our pleasure.  Most women enjoy receiving and giving flowers as a symbol of love.  Different colors – in the roses – portray different things.  White – purity; Yellow – friendship; Red – love;  As an author of romance I have learned the various meanings of flowers and find it helpful in writing.


Shaun's Flowers - 2007 Mother's Day

Flowers my son gave me for Mother’s Day. Tiger lilies – Saskatchewan’s (my birth place) flower. Did he know?

One of my favorite lines in a song is from George Strait’s ‘I saw God Today’ – a flower growing out of a crack in the concrete.  I can relate so well to that line.


The road to the Weather Station - outside Princeton

Wild flowers in the sunshine. A walk in the mountains.


End of May, 2011 Mock Cherry Tree

Flowers blooming on my mock-cherry tree. The promises spring gives you.

Resources – Procrastination

Set goals (for example you are going to write one chapter a day in rough every day until the book is completed in rough draft).  Stick to that format once you’ve set your goal.  One of my favourite ways of procrastinating?  I set a goal of writing one hour each day, then decide I don’t feel like writing today so I will write two hours tomorrow.  Sometimes it might work but often tomorrow brings other reasons not to write.

george strait

Not just a singer – a real cowboy, George Strait.


I listen to music – the type that pertains to my stories.  In One Dance with A Stranger it was easy to listen to George Strait or Alan Jackson CD’s and be inspired.  If I was really stuck, I slipped on the movie – Pure Country and watched a gorgeous George for a while and my hero became clear in my mind.

Tofino - House on the beach

It is easy to visualize a house on a cliff by the ocean after watching the tide come in at Tofino.


If possible – visit the area of the setting for your story.  Summon up the area in your mind when ‘setting the scene’. I was going to place part of my story Seraphim in Princeton on the Sea, near San Francisco.  For various reasons I never seemed to go there. As I have visited Tofino, on Vancouver Island, it wasn’t a stretch to change the location to Tofino if I wanted a segment of my story beside the ocean.  The inspiration of crashing waves and spraying water helps my procrastination problems.

Sometimes a change is all that is needed.

If you are serious about writing a manuscript it is important to find tools and methods that inspire you.  If you suffer writer’s block (often an excellent reason to procrastinate) at some stage in your story, take a different direction if it goes on for days.  Sometimes a different direction is all that is needed.

I find researching something you really enjoy is also an excellent way to prevent procrastination.  My fault is too much research sometimes.  Especially when writing a historical, my imagination is unstoppable when researching.  It falls into my interests of cowboys, Indians and vast, untamed, beautiful western North America.  Researching my ancestors falls into that time of struggles, problems and building from emptiness and isolation.

The tools I use are research, visiting places I like, nature, music and researching. Everyone should discover what inspires them to write – not have excuses why you can’t.

 Good luck.

Riding Shotgun – Texas

I love Texas.  My first trip into Texas was a real ‘homecoming’ experience. The weather was warm and sunny.  I love sunshine too.  We stopped at a small gas station and the first thing I noticed was the Texas Jellybeans on the counter.  I laughed as they were huge.

We had a trip to Dallas and stayed in my favorite Best Western hotel.  The boys enjoyed the pool.  We walked down to a mall with drivers looking at us like we were insane.  It was the middle of summer and very hot.  In the morning, while George was still in the room, I wandered down to the restaurant to have a coffee. I really can’t function without a coffee.  The first thing that happened – everyone was talking to everyone.  It was fun and after finding out I was from Canada we had a lively discussion on Health Care.  Fortunately for me, I am unable to defend our costly health care.  It is abused, misused and pulling us down.  I believe even I could figure out a better way.

In Dallas we met with our cousins and I held their tiny baby boy that I have since watched grow to a young adult.  It was wonderful to meet up with people we knew.  Although in Texas I never seemed to feel out of place.

We have visited Texas many times.  Once George loaded his truck in the middle of the night to meet a deadline.  It was dark and I was the only one to help him.  I was so exhausted after drinking gallons of water,  I could barely crawl into the bunk to sleep after we were done.  In Corpus Christie we sat in a park overlooking the Gulf of Mexico and watched the largest moon I’ve ever seen crawl up over the water and horizon.  I had a cook come out of the kitchen and sit with us – because I had a package of du Maurier cigarettes and he wanted to know where we were from.

My favorite place is San Antonio. We went to the Alamo, then for a carriage ride.  Everyone seemed to know exactly where Calgary, Alberta was.  Many cowboys from Texas participate in the Calgary Stampede Rodeo.  Many people move between the two places because of the oil industry.  Then riding in the carriage, seeing lights below the streets – we were amazed to discover San Antonio’s River Walk.  It was fantastic with curved paths following the river, small, unique shops and cafe’s and foliage, flowers and four hundred year old oak trees.   And San Antonio is where my favorite singer – George Strait – is from.  Although I rarely pass up a trip to Texas, recently George was down there without me.  When he talked to our grandson on the phone, Murphy asked if Poppa could possibly stop and tell George Strait that Grandma had all his songs.  It was so cute.

My son sings an excellent rendition of ‘God Bless Texas’. Even a guy from Texas once complimented him on it. We were in a tiny bar in the Okanagan Valley in BC.  It’s a small world.

When the Romance Ends

When the Romance is gone

(…from a writer’s perspective)


My ‘writer’s block’ is inevitably when the ‘romance ends’. It is the only time I suffer from ‘writer’s block at all. If my senses are involved in other matters, I can’t feel romantic.

If I can’t see, hear, taste. smell or touch (feel) romance  I can’t write romance.  There are various methods I use to regain my   desire to write romance.  Some think that romance is a relationship between two people, but trying to ‘feel’ romance’ is more a ‘state of being’ and is all around you.  When I am writing a romance story here are the methods I use to get that romantic feeling back, regardless of how my own personal life is going.

  1.  See: –   Seeing may well be the easiest of the senses to recover.  To read a good romance novel, to visualize the hero in your mind and to feel all the other senses as well, always tells me reading is one of the best methods of retrieval I know.  When I don’t have the time to read I watch a movie.  It doesn’t have to be only romantic movies either.  I have salvaged my sight from all sorts of unexpected movies.  One of my favorite is an Action movie – Proof of Life.  The interaction between Meg Ryan and Russell Crowe –melts my heart.  Russell Crowe’s ‘look’ tells me so much about his character and it’s a basis I would use for my hero.  When she asks him, while her husband waits in the car, to tell her she means nothing to him, he doesn’t answer. But I see his love, I see his honorable nature and I see control.  All those traits combined with his strength and beautiful ‘Gladiator’ body is enough to get my creative writing back in place.
  2. Hear: – The first thought that comes to mind – songs. I wrote a contemporary romance “One Dance with a Stranger” solely by listening to Alan Jackson’s CD – Who I am.  Although I used other crutches   – mostly George Strait’s Pure Country and beautiful voice and looks – the whole story flowed easily when listening to the Who I am CD.  It was the easiest of my four published novels to write.
  3. Taste: –   One word here – chocolate.  Although of course there are other foods that might do this – for me it’s chocolate.  The feelings chocolate evokes inside can cover multitude of wonderful sensations.  Just make sure you sit down and write because it can be distracting.
  4. Smell:  – Perfumes, bath oils (combined with the actual bath), roses and taking a walk or ride into nature are methods I use.  Nature can evoke all feelings needed to write for me at times.  I always think of Judith McNaught’s – Something Wonderful –her heroine loved the smell of ‘dirt’.  She created a beautiful scene and interaction between the hero and heroine.   And she used a substance – most people would never consider – the smell of dirt.

5.       Touch (feel):   I rely mostly on my memories for this sense.  From a memory of a sad time, a happy time, an angry time and all those thousands of feelings to use – we all have them.  We do not have to be writing about our heroine or hero’s feelings.  We all know what it’s like to be sad – so it doesn’t matter whether it’s you losing your puppy – or your heroine losing her farm – those feelings of sadness will be the same.  First I analyze my own feelings and write a paragraph on my own feeling of sadness.  Then, if I only take one small sentence to portray my heroine’s sadness – I have created a true feeling.  I should warn writers on this. If I use a tragedy or especially a ‘bad’ memory  – it drains me, at times to having anxiety attacks.  But, when I am done I know I have written truly from within.

These are my own methods for writing romance when I find myself losing my sense of ‘romance’.  It won’t work for everyone, but it might help others to seek their own ideas on the five senses which can only improve your writing.  Good luck.