Writing Historical Fiction? Best Tip Ever!

by @ AnnieDaylon

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Looking for a great tip for writing historical fiction?

Try this:  “Once upon a time, it was now.”

I found this pearl of wisdom in The Art and Craft of Writing Historical Fiction by successful historical fiction authorJames Alexander ThomThom sees this concept as most effective for storytelling and has adopted it as his credo. The author, Thom says, must write as if everything is happening now, with no thought about future. He further explains:

  • “Today is now.

  • Yesterday was now.

  • Tomorrow will be now.”

How do authors of historical fiction make any time now? By taking the reader there, into that exact time.

For me, this means  that authors must provide not only authentic historical details, but also authentic character reactions. Yes, the authors know the future. Yes, the readers know the future. But the characters know nothing of the future. Authors must make readers so enmeshed that they forget the future, that they are there, now, with the characters, looking forward, experiencing the same emotions, reactions, and  uncertainty the characters do.

I am in the editing  process of Book I of a trilogy which is set on the island of Newfoundland, one hundred years ago and the phrase “Once upon a time, it was now” is never far from my mind. I am determined that my ‘once upon a time’ will be a now.

Many thanks to James Alexander Thom! 🙂

Do you have a favorite tip for writing historical fiction (or any other genre?) If so, please send it along!


Please subscribe to my Author Newsletter by including your first name and email address in the space provided on the right. Many thanks!

My best to you,

Annie Signature Light Blue

Pick of the Twitter: May, 2014

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Looking for writing/marketing tips? Here are my Top Twitter Picks for May, 2014:


  1. 13 Ways to Convince a Literary Agent to Represent You   by @Rachelle Gardner

  2. Twitter Tools: HootSuite & TweetDeck Highlights  by @laurazera via @mollygreene

  3. The Hectic Life of a Multi-Published Author  by @JodyHedlund

  4. What to expect when you attend a literary conference, trade show, or book fair by @chrisrobley @BookBaby

  5. How to Book a Successful Blog Tour  by @stephaniebond via @bkmkting

  6.  Questions about Editing by @CSLakin

  7. How to Easily Double Your Traffic from Social Media via @Mariner_Consult

  8.  Writing Tip: #23 The Notecard System  by @JakeVanderArk via @EricStoffle

  9. Smart Quotes by Ilene Strizver   (Annie here>>>I’m curious: Authors, do U use smart quotes? Do U turn them off? Which is better?)

  10. Being an Author vs. Running a Business as an Author  by @JaneFriedman

  11. What Do I Do with Random LinkedIn Connections?  by Ezra Chasser  @sorethumbnyc (Loved this post. Great info!)

  12. How to Keep Your Writing in Your Over-the-Top Busy Life: Helpful Techniques from the Experts by Mary Caroll Moore

  13. 10 Pinterest Rules Every Business Needs to Know Before Posting by Matthew Kobach

  14. Consider Advertising Your Book Locally by Richard Ridley @CreateSpace

  15.  7 Times When A Comma Has Made A MAJOR Difference  by @MaddieCrum @HuffPostbooks via @RandomHouseCA


Many thanks to Tweeters and Bloggers alike!

Please subscribe to my blog by including your email in the space provided on the upper right.

My best to you,

Annie Signature Light Blue

Putting on my ‘Top’ Hat…

by @AnnieDaylon


shutterstock_150959219 1Ever struggle with wondering if you are doing enough, or if you are doing the right thing as an author? I certainly do.

A while back, I attended a workshop by successful indie author, Jodi McIsaac, who listed twelve hats that an indie author must wear, among them: writer, editor, bookkeeper, webmaster, marketer, distributor, etc. Sometimes my head is spinning with choices: Which hat today? Do I need to update my site? Do I focus on marketing? Do I work on my budget? It’s dizzying!

I have come to realize that I cannot do it all; when I try to wear too many of these hats in one day, my writing (quantity and quality) takes a hit. I have to set priorities.

Recently, I found two helpful posts that deal with making such choices:
What Learning to Say No Really Means by Alexis Grant, and
Fighting Overwhelm: How I am Learning to Refocus My Workload by Joanna Penn.
Both talk about managing workload, about focusing your time, about giving up some things, even things you don’t want to give up.

The key for me?
Deciding the most important thing and doing that FIRST and FOREMOST. Right now, that happens to be writing the first book in a novel trilogy. I am immersed in it, writing every morning for a minimum of three hours.
Yes, I tweet. Yes, I blog. But mostly, I write.


If you are juggling too many hats: stop, focus, prioritize, and choose the hat that best fits right now.

For me the right thing, right now, is the write thing. That’s my ‘Top’ Hat!

What’s yours?


A free story will wing its way to you when subscribe to my Author Newsletter by placing your first name and email address in the space provided on the upper right. Many thanks!

My best to you,

Annie Signature Light Blue

Pick of the Twitter: April, 2014

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Looking for writing/marketing tips? Here are my Top Ten oops! Twenty** Twitter picks for April, 2014:

**I usually pull 16 or 17 tweets at month end and pare down to 10. This time around, I dug up 32. So many great posts! Thus, the 20! Enjoy! 🙂

  1.  5 Marketing Strategies for Writers Who Hate Promoting Their Own Work by @HughOSmith @thewritelife

  2. So You Want To Make A Living Writing? 13 Harsh Truths.  by @Bob_Mayer

  3. How to Cheat to Find More Work Time   by @Jody Hedlund

  4. Why Author Email Addresses Make a Difference by Caitlin Muir @AuthorMedia

  5. What “Learning to Say No” Really Means by @alexisgrant

  6. The Writer’s High by Harrison Demchick  @BookBaby

  7. Productivity For Authors. Fighting Overwhelm And How I Am Refocusing My Workload by Joanna Penn @thecreativepenn

  8. How to Use Research to Take Content From Flimsy to Fabulous by Emily Gaines Buchler @socialmedia2day

  9.  Want to be a better writer? Read more! @HuffPostBooks

  10. I love my job, oh yes I do   @Janet_Reid (I love this agent’s blog!)

  11. Revising with the Present Perfect by Maeve Maddox  (Excellent revision tip!)

  12.  5 Tips to Speed Up Your Writing and Skyrocket Your Quality by Danny Iny @WriteToDone via @EricStoffle

  13. The Art of Creating Memorable Villains Whatever Your Genre by Lisa Alber @WriterUnboxed

  14. The Story Grid: A Writer’s Tool   by @Bob_Mayer

  15.  The 10 best books about self publishing – a reading list by Robert Wood @standoutbooks via @elizabethscraig

  16. The Complete Guide to Query Letters That Get Manuscript Requests  by @JaneFriedman

  17.  Must Have Conflict! How to Introduce Conflict into your Fiction by @CSLakin

  18. The Perfect Storm that All Writers Need to Avoid by James Chartrand  

  19.  Five Tips for Cutting through Twitter Noise: by @PGillin  @skyword via @BrianHonigman

  20.  5 Beautifully Written Books To Inspire Your Writing by Diane O’Connell @WriteToSell

Many thanks to Tweeters and Bloggers alike!

Please subscribe to my blog by including your email in the space provided on the upper right.

My best to you,

Annie Signature Light Blue



In the Company of Readers


by @AnnieDaylon

shutterstock_134073986Little did I know when I grumbled over precious time spent getting my novel onto the shelves of a local food chain that the effort would result in a magical evening in the company of avid readers. I was invited to a meeting of the Book Travellers, an octet of women whose group demeanor is a combination of the delicacy of porcelain and the strength of spider silk, women who have woven friendship into a book club that has endured two decades.

The Book Travellers are so named because each member returns from every trip with souvenir bookmarks for the group. The group chooses their books a year in advance, at a sleepover, in a cabin, on a nearby lake, each June. Through their meticulous ‘bookkeeper’, they keep track of every meeting (attendance, books read, and comments) and have done so since 1998.

They take turns hosting the event and, during my visit, they appeared to be as comfortable in their host’s home as they would be in their own. (author note: a wonderfully infectious state of ease.)

Our evening began with tea and dessert and progressed to discussion of my novel and books in general.

Elizabeth made Lemon Pavlova. Delicious!

Elizabeth made Lemon Pavlova. Delicious!

Personal details slid through book talk, information about connections made through vocation—librarian, teacher, nurse, accountant—and avocation—curling, volunteering, walking, travelling. There were snippets with giggles about surprise birthday jaunts and fragments with sighs about thoughtful memorial gifts.

Overall, a delightful evening  in the company of readers, one which served not only to deepen my fervor for reading but also to re-ignite my passion for telling stories. More importantly, I experienced a surprising gift: the joy of being in the presence of unmatched  strength and vitality. Truly Canada’s Steel Magnolias.  

And so, to: Elizabeth, Bonnie, Judy, Randi, Nancy, Magda, Leona, and Kathy, I express my heartfelt thanks.

My best to all of you, always,

Annie Signature Light Blue


Please subscribe to my Author Newsletter by including your first name and email address in the space provided on the upper right. 

P. S. Dear Writers, Marketing can be a pain in the posterior: In my case, it took five trips to the store, several forms that had to be filled, trashed, replaced, filled again and edited; it also took a few emails to the wrong people before finding the right people. I was left wondering if time-consuming grunt details are worth it. They are. Do it.


Pick of the Twitter: March, 2014

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Looking for writing/marketing tips? Here are my Top Ten Twitter picks for March, 2014:

  1.  3 Reasons Aspiring Novelists Should Retreat by Diane O’Connell @WriteToSell

  2. The New Publishing Platform on LinkedIn: Why You Should Care and How to Contribute  by Stephanie Chandler @bizauthor

  3.  How To Complete Every Writing Project You Start: Become a Completion Addict by Jessica Baverstock @WriteToDone

  4. 29 Ways to Stay Creative: VIDEO INFOGRAPHIC by Dianna Dilworth @GalleyCat

  5. Book Promotions That Work by Molly Greene @mollygreene

  6. What Do Agents Like to See When They Google Writers? by Carly Watters  @carlywatters

  7. How to Find the Time in your Busy Life to Make Writing a Priority   RT @AmazonKDP via @HuffPostBooks

  8. Should You Write the Whole Book before Pitching?  by Rachelle Gardner @RachelleGardner

  9. THE VARIED EMOTIONAL STAGES OF WRITING A BOOK by Chuck Wendig  (I can relate to this! How about you?)

  10. QueryTip: Wait! Wait!  by Janet Reid @Janet_Reid


Many thanks to Tweeters and Bloggers alike!

Please subscribe to my blog by including your email in the space provided on the upper right.

My best to you,
Annie Signature Light Blue


Advice for Writers from Irish Authors

by @AnnieDaylon

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With Irish scribes advising, sure the writers all take wing…

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, in tribute to my Irish ancestry, I offer the following tidbits of advice for writers from well-known Irish authors:




Frank McCourt: author of Angela’s Ashes;  ‘Tis; Teacher Man


Maeve Binchy: author of Tara Road; The Glass Lake; Light a Penny Candle; Circle of Friends; Nights of Rain and Stars

  • “You’re much more believable if you talk in your own voice…  I don’t say I was proceeding down a thoroughfare, I say I walked down the road.  I don’t say I passed a hallowed institute of learning, I say I passed a school.”
    (In Memory Of Maeve Binchy: Her Writing Secrets  by Jonathan Gunson)


Colm Tóibín: author of Brooklyn; The Master; The Testament of Mary; The Blackwater Lightship; The Empty Family

  • “Finish everything you start. Often, you don’t know where you’re going for a while; then halfway through, something comes and you know. If you abandon things, you never find that out.”
    (Colm Tóibín, Novelist – Portrait of the Artist by Laura Garnett, The Guardian, Feb, 2013)

Tana Frenchauthor of In the Woods; Broken Harbor; Faithful Place; The Likeness

  • ” It’s OK to screw up. For me, this was the big revelation when I was writing my first book, In the Woods: I could get it wrong as many times as I needed to. I was coming from theatre, where you need to get it right every night, because this audience will probably never see the show again; it took me a while to realise that, until the book goes into print, it’s still rehearsal, where you can try whatever you need to try. If you rewrite a paragraph fifty times and forty-nine of them are terrible, that’s fine; you only need to get it right once.”
    5 Writing Tips from Tana French, Publishers Weekly, 2012


Frank Delaney: author of Ireland (A Novel); Venetia Kelly’s Traveling Show; Tipperary; The Matchmaker of Kenmare

  • “Give similar rhythms to the opening and closing paragraphs of your entire piece. It’ll deliver an unconscious sense of completeness.”
    ( Frank Delaney’s Writing Tips,  #283)


Emma Donoghue:  author of Room; Frog Music; The Sealed Letter; Landing; Life Mask

  • “Write a lot, write with passion. Don’t give up the day job till you have reason to believe you can live off your writing; plenty of great books have been written at weekends.  Try giving up TV, or getting up earlier; if you want it enough you’ll find the time to write.”
    (FAQ Emma Donaghue)


Roddy Doyle: author of The Commitments; Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha; The Barrytown Trilogy; The Guts

  • “Do change your mind. Good ideas are often murdered by better ones. I was working on a novel about a band called the Partitions. Then I decided to call them the Commitments.”
    (Ten Rules for Writing Fiction, The Guardian, Feb, 2010)

Sebastian Barry: author of A Long, Long Way; The Secret Scripture; On Canaan’s Side

  • “I do believe writing for a writer is as natural as birdsong to a robin. I do believe you can ferry back a lost heart and soul in the small boat of a novel or a play. That plays and novels are a version of the afterlife, a more likely one maybe than that extravagant notion of heaven we were reared on. That true lives can nest in the actual syntax of language. Maybe this is daft, but it does the trick for me. I write because I can’t resist the sound of the engine of a book, the adventure of beginning, and the possible glimpses of new landscapes as one goes through. Not to mention the excitement of breaking a toe in the potholes.”
    (Interview With Writer Sebastian Barry by Marissa B. Toffoli)

Marian Keyes: author of Sushi for Beginners; Anybody Out There; Rachel’s Holiday; The Mystery of Mercy Close; Saved by Cake 


Can’t think of a better finish than that concise and precise bit of advice from Marian Keyes!  Do you Happy St. Patrick's Dayhave any snippets of advice that I can include in this list? Would love to hear from you….


Please subscribe to my Author Newsletter by entering your email in the space provided on the right.

My best to you,

Annie Signature Light Blue


Pick of the Twitter: February, 2014

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Looking for writing/marketing tips? Here are my Top Ten Twitter picks for February, 2014:

  1. 11 Fantastic Apps for Writers   @HuffPostBooks
  2. 5 Ways to Make Time to Write by Diane O’Connell  @WriteToSell
  3. A Quick 5-Point Checklist for Writing a Scene @JodyHedlund
  4. The (Quiet) Omniscient Narrator by Celeste Ng  @glimmertrain via @JaneFriedman
  5. Timeless Writing Tips from Successful Writers Of Our Time by Irwin Lagman  @bloggingtips
  6. Why Your Antagonist Needs a Mushy Moment  @KMWeiland
  7. A Template for Marketing Books: “The Official Self-Published Book Marketing Plan”  by Nick Thacker @CSLakin
  8. Radio 101: Tips for Authors & Speakers Doing Radio Interviews  @BookBaby
  9.  Why You should Embrace Your Creative Blocks  by Melissa Dinwiddie @HuffPostBooks
  10. 10 Tips for Aspiring Historical Fiction Authors   @stephaniedray

Many thanks to Tweeters and Bloggers alike!

Please subscribe to my blog by including your email in the space provided on the right.

My best to you,

Annie Signature Light Blue

Short Story: A Canadian Man’s Heart


by @ AnnieDaylon



 I love to enter short story contests (see previous post: Why Enter Story Contests?) In my 2014 goals, I listed that I would enter a few. (One done in January… Yay!)
I enter to learn, not to win. I enter for the fun and for the feeling of accomplishment that the marathon of the novel does not provide.

Here is an example of a non-winning entry (See below for learning experience):


A Canadian Man’s Heart

According to my boss, Zeta Thompson, there is only one sure-fire way to a Canadian man’s heart, and it has nothing to do with his stomach.

“Believe it or not, Betty,” Zeta announced one morning after she had tolerated my litany of loneliness one too many times, “the main flaw in your dating strategy lies in your complete dismissal of this country’s national pastime. Canadian men live and die for hockey! Don’t you get that? Ever consider just buying a big-screen TV and asking a guy over to watch a game on a Saturday night?

“Forget it,” I huffed. “Gawking at a TV set and trying to keep track of a flying rubber disk is not my idea of entertainment. Hockey! It’s loud, obnoxious and violent, and I absolutely refuse to take part in anything that celebrates the idea of grown men clobbering each other with long sticks.”

Judiciously, Zeta threw her hands up in defeat, but the fates were not so easily dissuaded; they countered immediately with a loud knock at the office door. Kevin Mason, the new architect we had been expecting, flung the door wide and hovered there, filling the frame with his six-foot splendor.

Lust at first sight!

Many scenarios flitted through my mind, all of them reminiscent of the fiery pictures that grace the covers of my Harlequin romance collection. Never in my life have I been one to ignore a golden-haired, blue-eyed opportunity such as this one and I sure wasn’t going to start now.

Out of the corner of my eye, I could see that Zeta was grinning like an idiot, but she was also staying in the background, generously giving me carte blanche. Possibilities abounded as I stepped forward and extended my hand to greet the newcomer. Quick to respond, Kevin strode across the room. Relationship redemption which, just seconds ago, had seemed light years away, was now viable and I felt hope soar.

 Suddenly, time slowed down, becoming a teasing tyrant, extending milliseconds into eons. The only thing I could do was try to maintain my composure as I watched our hands inch toward each other.

Ultimately, time relented and allowed our hands to meet, but then it stood back and laughed as a huge ring jabbed my palm and punctured my dreams. Visions of victory oozed away the instant I glanced at the ring’s proven symbol of relationship demise—the blue-and-white insignia of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

What the heck was I to do now?

X-rated images—all golden-haired and blue-eyed—pummeled my brain, urging me onward.

“You want to come by my place on Saturday, Kevin?” I blurted before I could stop myself. “Zeta and I were just talking about watching the Leafs game on my brand new fifty-inch, high-definition, plasma TV.”


The above story was written a few years ago for an Alphabet Acrostic contest. The opening, “According to my boss,” was given. The criteria? “Complete your story in 26 sentences, each beginning with words in the sequence of the English alphabet.”

The learning? I expanded my vocabulary by reading the dictionary. (Yes, X is limiting, but there are ways around it.) The fun? Enjoyed it so much that I entered again this year! (This particular contest is available annually through The Brucedale Press. It’s a long wait until the next one but the fee is only $5/entry!)

My questions for you: Did you notice as you read the story that I was progressing through the alphabet? If not, did you go back to check? 🙂


(Please subscribe to my blog by including your email in the space provided on the upper right.)

My best to you,

Annie Signature Light Blue



Pick of the Twitter: January 2014

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Looking for writing/marketing tips? Here are my Top Ten Twitter picks for January, 2014:

  1. Ten Lessons in Non-Fiction Writing by Joanna Penn @thecreativepenn
  2. Question: Book Promotion on Twitter by Janet Reid @Janet_Reid
  3. How to Get Others to Do Your Social Media Marketing for Free – by Mark Lerner on jeffbullas.com via @111publishing
  4. 101 Fabulous Plot Resources For Novelists  by Molly Greene @mollygreene via @markbrassington
  5. My Process for Approaching Large Revisions  by Elizabeth S. Craig  @elizabethscraig
  6. How Pinterest Can Turn Your Boring Writing Portfolio Into a Lead-Generating Machine   by Wendy Parish @thewritelife
  7. The 15 Best Twitter Lists for Writers by Carrie Smith @thewritelife
  8. It Takes the Time It Takes “You should always be writing, but never be hurrying.” by Chuck Wendig @ChuckWendig
  9. Thinking of doing webinars? Check out this article on MeetingBurner vs GoToWebinar by Alexis Grant @AlexisGrant
  10. Killing Characters? Do It Successfully with Tips by K. M. Weiland  @KMWeiland

Many thanks to Tweeters and Bloggers alike!
Please subscribe to my blog by placing your email address in the box provided (upper right.) Thanks!

My best to you,
Annie Signature Light Blue