Timelines Giving You Fits?

Fabulous idea! I always struggle with timelines, and keeping things straight. Will try this out after I get home from work!

S.K. Nicholls

timeline image

If you write, or are even thinking about writing, you NEED this!  It is brilliant and it’s FREE!

If you struggle with timelines and need to know birthdays and ages, and ages at specific events in time, this is the program for you!

My new friend Vicki Thompson, from across the pond…yes the one who got me connected with the Scrivener courses at the perfect moment in time, has just done it again.

It comes to us via Wendy Clarke, and her exceptionally clever “new” husband (a keeper for sure).

It is called Wendy’s Story Timeline and it is available here, where you can also see the simple instructions.  No more scribbling out timelines that span five pages.  You can also see events in one character’s life relative to events in another’s at a glance.  No more marrying off your character at the age of eight! …

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Elevators and Ebooks – Guest post by David Burnett

David Burnett, I believe, speaks for many of us. I certainly enjoy the ease of having books on my eReader, and the small amount of space it takes up. I can’t give up my print books. I love the feel and texture of them. And like Mr. Burnett, working with non-fiction books (nursing books in my case) is difficult on an eReader. Here’s hoping we can continue to have both forms.

Words on the Page


Thanks so much to author David Burnett for stopping by and discussing the eBook vs print book war!

It was once said that elevators would replace stairs.

Why would they not? After all, elevators provide faster access than do stairs, are more efficient than are stairs, and cause less stress to the human body than do stairs. Why would one choose to tromp up a long flight of stairs instead of stepping into an elevator and being whisked away to one’s destination?

Of course, it didn’t happen. We have elevators, we have stairs, and we have escalators –moving stairs. They co-exist, each serving the same purpose, that of moving people and things from one floor, one level, to another.

We have all read the speculation that eReaders – Kindles, and Nooks, and iPads – will ultimately replace books. Indeed, sales of eReaders soared while bookstores closed.

The writer who reported…

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How to solve the plotter/pantser dilemma – Guest Post

I fall into the pantster side of writing. I have a starting character, with a minor problem and a fuzzy ending. Then I write to see where it takes me. Love the learning about my characters, seeing who comes and who goes, and where it all will take me.

Words on the Page

calvin-hobbes last minute panicToday we welcome author Alison Morton, who has ideas on how to quell the raging debate between plotting and pantsing.

Do you sit down at the keyboard and just write, a vague idea of the characters and their story swirling around in your head? Then you’re a pantser who writes by the seat of your pants. Maybe you plan every scene and chapter in meticulous detail, paying careful attention to the rules of structure used by your genre.Undoubtedly, you’re a plotter.

Well, I’m not entirely sure these extremes exist, in the same way that Elinor and Marianne Dashwood don’t but are symbols for extremes of Sense and Sensibility. When I write, I usually start classically: a character who is suddenly faced with a terrible dilemma, but I only discover how she’s going to resolve it once I start writing her story. However, sensible hat back on, I…

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So You’re Going to Give Your Character a Pet

I’m reblogging this because of the important information it contains. Pets in books are spectacular. Every book should have some kind of pet somewhere.

Legends of Windemere

So, you want to use a pet in your story.  Good idea.  There’s a long tradition of helpful animal companions of both natural and magical varieties.  It all comes down to what you want you’re looking for.  Here are some tips to get you started and know what to do with them:

  1. You can’t go wrong with a dog.  Even Riddick has a dog now.  The thing about dogs are that they’re loyal and come in a variety of shapes.  You can do a lot with a dog because of how they act in real life.
  2. You can go wrong with a cat.  Wild cats like tigers and panthers seem to work for primal characters like barbarians.  They can come in magical varieties too.  Sadly, a house cat might not work out too well for all characters.  Something to consider is that many villains have cats like Skeletor and Blofeld. …

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What Brings You Back from The End?

I have a long list of books I reread almost every year. Ender’s Game is on the top of that list, along with Citizen of the Galaxy, Little Women, The Dragon Keeper Chronicles and The Sword of Shannara. Such wonderful friends and companions through my whole life. Now, if I could only capture that elusive rereadability element for my own writing.

Legends of Windemere

thVideo games have replayability.  Movies and television have rewatchability.  These are very common, but what about rereadability?  That book that you always come back to when you feel like reading something.  You know the one.  The book you have practically memorized and you still try to read it every once and a while because something about it just brings you back.

For me this is Ender’s Game even though I haven’t memorized it.  Something about the characters and atmosphere of the world grips me every time. Ender Wiggin is an interesting character and his siblings share his level of depth.  There is a fascinating history woven into the book, which explains the mentality of the adults.  Overall, I think it’s a full-package of greatness and I can’t put my finger on the exact reason.  That might be why I keep coming back.  To catch that elusive key to rereadability and…

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Mythology Workshop – Anubis and Annabelle

I’m currently participating in a mythology workshop put on by The 13th Floor Paradigm. (http://13thfloorparadigm.wordpress.com/2013/08/25/mythology-workshop-1/comment-page-1/#comment-281) Each of us was given a god or goddess and a group of words to write about. Mine was: Anubis – ballerina, a bottle of scotch and a street. Below you will find the story I decided on. Hope you enjoy it.



Anubis and Annabelle



“Daddy, Daddy, Daddy!”

            Anubis braced himself as a little ball of pink tulle, blonde curls and sticky hands crashed into his lap. Small arms wrapped tightly around his neck and bright blue eyes gazed up at him.

            “Daddy, take off your Working Face. It’s too fuzzy to kiss.”

            Anubis wrapped his arms around his daughter and smiled down at her. “But, Daddy is working and I have to wear my Working Face.” He glanced up at the large screen over his desk as a deep laugh rumbled out of the speakers.

            “We can talk later, Anubis.” Seth’s features blurred as he resumed his human form. “Hello, Annabelle.”

             “Hello, Uncle Seth.” Annabelle grinned up at the screen. “Are you coming to my dance recital tomorrow?”

            “Of course, Princess, I wouldn’t miss it.” Seth’s eyes moved back to Anubis. “The problem can wait. We can discuss it further after the recital.”

            Anubis reached over and flicked off the screen. Concentrating, he forced the muscles, bones and skin on his head to change. He felt his ears descend, nose shorten, and ran his tongue over newly blunt teeth. As the fur retreated back under his skin, he shuddered. No matter how many millenniums he lived, retracting his fur always disturbed him. Besides, it made his face itchy.

            Just before the fur completely disappeared, he pulled Annabelle in close and rubbed his check against hers. She giggled and pushed him away, only to snuggle closer and bury her head in his neck when the clack of high heels on the marble floor in the Great Hall echoed into the room.

            “Annabelle, there you are.” A statuesque blond stepped into the office. The sneer on her lips twisted her model perfect features into ugliness. “How many times have I told you not to run away from me? Seriously, what is your problem? Ungrateful little brat. I hope you haven’t ruined that new tutu. It cost a fortune.”

            Anubis cuddled Annabelle closer and whispered in her mind. Ignore her. “Claudette, to what do I owe this pleasure? Normally one of your lackeys delivers our daughter.”

             Claudette paused in her tirade and smoothed her face back to perfection. “I have a problem only you can deal with.”

            Anubis sighed and wished he were facing a rampaging horde of sphinx rather than his ex-wife. Their marriage was a black spot on an otherwise happy life. How he had ever believed this woman was warm and funny boggled his mind. What was more amazing was the warm and loving child he held in his arms came out of that icy woman’s body, something, of course, Claudette never let him forget. Neither did she let him forget the fact that her body never returned to its proper proportions afterward. No amount of dieting, weighing or admiring words could convince her she wasn’t an unsightly hag.

            “You know Ra’s laws forbid me to solve your problems with my power.”

            Claudette snorted. With a tug she reached out to pull someone into the doorway. An obese man in an expensive tailored suit tried to hide behind Claudette, hand clamped firmly behind him. Anubis tried to remember the man’s name, but could never keep up with his ex’s revolving door of boyfriends.

            “It’s not a human problem.” Claudette spun the man around and pointed to his rear. “Look, look what that…that creature you forced me to bear did to Prissy.”

            Anubis looked closer and saw a curly, pink tail sticking out from the vent of his suit jacket. A tiny giggle tickled his ear. Claudette’s super sensitive ears caught it. With a shriek she reached for Annabelle. Anubis flicked his hand, freezing both Claudette and Prissy in place.

            “Teach me to do that, Daddy.”

            “Later, Princess.” Anubis carried Annabelle in his arms from the more formal, awe-inspiring and supplicant intimidating part of his home and into his personal space.


Footsteps muffled in the thick, blue carpet, Anubis carried his Little Princess. The smell of warm chocolate chip cookies wafted down the hall, beckoning them to the kitchen. Tirmania, Anubis’ housekeeper, stood at the center island transferring cookies from a sheet to a cooling rack. She smiled at Annabelle as the two walked in and handed the little girl one of the cooler cookies. Annabelle smiled back and slipped onto a tall kitchen stool.

Anubis grabbed his own cookie and settled on the stool next to his daughter. “Annabelle, can you tell me what happened with Prissy?” He waited while she slowly finished her cookie.

“He ate my after school snack Tirmania sent over for me. He always eats it.” She picked up another cookie and studied it. “He’s such a pig, fat, grunts all the time, eats all my snacks. I don’t like him and want him to go away. Mommy doesn’t listen, so I decided to make him go away all by myself.”

“You tried to turn him into a real pig?”

“Yup, it didn’t work very well.”

“I noticed that.” Anubis took a bite out of his cookie. “I should have talked to you about this sooner. But, I wasn’t sure if you would inherit my power at all. Looks like you did. As you get older your power will grow. Until you get training, you cannot use it. If you do, I will have to block it from you until you are older. So, no more trying to turn Prissy into a pig. Ok?”

Annabelle stuck her lower lip out and let it quiver. Anubis gritted his teeth to keep a stern expression on his face. After what seemed ages, she blinked her eyes and smiled up at him.

“Ok, Daddy. When can I start training? I want to learn how to change him into a full pig next time.”

Inside Anubis groaned. Out loud, he said, “Eat another cookie while I speak with your mother.”

Annabelle waved as he headed out of the kitchen.


Anubis studied his ex-wife as she stood frozen in place. Her face contorted in anger, one finger pointed accusingly towards the empty office door. Those fire-engine-red nails, honed to a sharp point were lethal weapons, he well knew. Her white suit tailored to her tall frame matched the white and black décor of the formal areas of his home, areas she insisted needed to be redecorated, stating that the blood red and desert sand colors were not modern enough.

Anubis contemplated leaving her and Prissy frozen but knew Ra would have a fit. With a wave of his hand and the two reanimated. He watched in amusement as Claudette resumed her tirade, only to realize he no longer stood in front of her.

Claudette swung around, sharpened finger still extended. “You know I hate when you do that to me. Where did you put Annabelle?  You need to punish her for what she did to Prissy. You need to fix him.”

“I can’t fix him. You know I can’t undo someone else’s magic. It should be a simple surgical procedure to have it removed.”

“I should have known. Of course you won’t fix it. You’ve never done anything to help me. You’ve always been so horrible to me. Why can’t you just be nice for once? I ask for so little from you. You’re mean, spiteful, and vindictive. I don’t know what I ever saw in you.” Claudette’s voice rose to a screech as she grew angrier. “I’ve sacrificed so much for you. Gave you the best years of my life. What do you do? You toss me aside like I’m nothing. After all I’ve done for you, you can at—” Prissy slid his hand onto Claudette’s shoulder, stopping her flow of words. Nostrils flaring, she glared at Anubis

Prissy said, “He’s not worth it, Love. Let’s just do what we planned. Leave the Spawn with the Beast and come with me.” He tugged her towards the door.

Claudette didn’t resist his pull. Anubis followed. Claudette’s heels made their clacking against the white marble. Prissy’s shoes made a counterpart squeak. They walked down the center of the great hall, avoiding the soaring columns and comfy benches scattered about for supplicants.

None of the benches were currently occupied, not that they were ever occupied. With the advent of science, few believed in the old gods and goddesses. Fewer still sought their help. Unlike some groups of gods, like the Norse gods, the Egyptian gods never abandoned Earth. To help keep the world stabilized, Ra turned their focus from ruling to capitalism. Each former god or goddess now ran or oversaw a different mega-corporation. Without their assistance, a world-wide economic collapse would occur swiftly.

Anubis, from time-to-time, still escorted the souls of the dead to The Underworld. Despite their unbelief, the Judging of the Heart on the Scales of Justice still occurred. When a powerful figure or someone who committed a heinous crime died, Ra called upon Anubis to ensure the weighing was done properly.  Most of the time, Anubis concerned himself with the many sections of the Nielsen Corporation.

While in the midst of negotiations to acquire Vogue, Anubis met Claudette at a company party. Then a young and upcoming model, she had just been tapped as the newest Victoria’s Secret Angel. It was lust at first sight, which both mistook for love. A whirlwind courtship, a quick trip to Vegas and then fantasy became reality when six weeks after their first meeting Claudette announced her pregnancy.

Anubis learned of her pregnancy when she screamed it at him while throwing pieces from his Waterford Crystal collection. His heart mixed with the shattered pieces of the Cliffs of Moher vase and Garnish Island bowl left on the floor. Ignoring the glass and Anubis’ protests, Claudette left. The weeks and months following were a battle to keep his child alive. In the end, despite her hatred of pregnancy and the child that came with it, Claudette refused to give up custody of Annabelle.

Ra’s list of rules requiring all the gods and goddesses to follow human law left Anubis with no choice. For five years he fought for custody of Annabelle, spending hundreds of thousands of dollars. Now, with Seth’s help, he might have found a way to win. He wiped the smile off his face when Claudette turned to face him.

“I’m taking Prissy to have a short, surgical procedure. We won’t be at the recital tomorrow night. You’ll have to take her.” Claudette turned to sail out of the door Prissy held open for her.

Bright sunlight spilled over her, forming a halo in her hair, and turned her momentarily back into an angel. Her driver stood near the stairs of the wide portico. He held a large box, which Claudette snatched out of his hands and thrust into Anubis’ chest. His arms closed reflexively around it.

“My seamstress never finished Annabelle’s dress for the recital. You’ll have to finish it.”

Anubis longed to smack Claudette’s smirk off her face. Instead he said, “Of course. It will be no problem to finish,” and smiled sweetly. He knew his response would irritate her.

“By the way, my lawyer will be dropping off papers. After this incident, I’ve decided you are a bad influence on Annabelle. I’m taking away your visitation rights and you’ll have to increase the amount of support you pay me.” Claudette marched down the wide stairs to the waiting limo, white of course.

Prissy and her driver hurried to follow. Tires spun on the loose gravel before shooting off once they found purchase. Just as the limo neared the gate, a large mud puddle appeared. Too wide for the driver to miss, the limo barreled through. Mud splattered up the sides and across the top.

“We’ll see about that.” Anubis walked back into his house.


After supper Anubis tucked Annabelle into her bubble gum pink bed in her pink room. Once he answered a few emails and returned an urgent phone call to Isis, he finally took the box into his man cave and opened it. He closed it quickly, picked it up and threw it across the room. The box hit the flat screen TV and crashed to the floor, spilling its contents. In a small heap, in shades of pink, lay bolts of tulle, netting and spools of thread.

He thought longingly of the bottle of scotch Osiris had left the last time he visited. Anubis never drank when Annabelle was in the house; he wanted to be mentally ready if anything happened to her or her magic appeared. Maybe Tirmania would be able to do something tomorrow. Anubis decided he should at least clean up the mess and make some sense of what needed to be done.

As he sorted through the pile, rewrapping the small bolts, Anubis found a set of papers. Detailed directions, with pictures, covered six sheets. He knew Tirmania could never sew something so complicated. Dropping the pile of fabric back into disarray, Anubis sank onto the couch and dropped his head into his hands. What was he going to do? He couldn’t let Annabelle down, nor could he let Claudette get the best of him.

The image of Prissy’s pig tail drifted through Anubis’ mind. He barked out a short laugh. A glimmer of an idea sparked and his laugh turned to one of glee. He crossed the room and scooped up the directions again. Studying them closely, he arranged the fabric into piles based on what they would make. He thought through his plan one last time before nodding.

Anubis stood in the center of the fabric piles. Papers held in his left hand, high enough for him to easily glance at; he raised his right hand and summoned his magic. He glanced at the diagram of the bodice of the costume, careful to build it the same in his mind. With swirling burst of red light and the scent of lilies, his magic burst forth from his right hand. The light reached down to the first pile of fabric and raised it into the air. Rotating faster and faster, the bodice took shape. Dropping pages quickly, he went on to the pile of tulle and soon a Powderpuff tutu floated softly to the ground. The wings, arm poofs and flower petal headpiece quickly followed. One last burst of magic and the whole costume rotated in front of Anubis, completely assembled.

Exhausted, but quite pleased with himself, Anubis carried his creation into Annabelle’s room and laid it carefully on her divan. He watched his precious child sleeping, cheeks pink and hands curled under her chin, and then quietly slipped out.


Seth slipped into his seat next to Anubis and looked down upon the audience below their box. “I brought the papers. Will she be here tonight?”

“Unfortunately, she won’t. Said she and Prissy had something urgent they needed to attend to.”

Seth shrugged, “It doesn’t make much difference. I sent copies to the judge and to her lawyer. She’ll know by morning.”

The lights dimmed and the two men settled back to watch Coppelia. Anubis waited for the younger dancers to perform. He caught his breath as Annabelle floated across the stage. Smitten, he believed her to be the most beautiful and most talented of all the children dancing. When her dance was finished, Anubis waited patiently for the ballet to finish. He spent the time dreaming of what it would be like to see her dance all grown up.

Anubis was out the door to his box before the curtain fell on the final bow. He beat the rush of parents to the performer’s door, as far as the parents were ever allowed. Pacing in front of it, he waited impatiently for Annabelle to appear. Seth waited with him, leaning against the wall. One by one the other children exited the door, until they were the only two people waiting.

Anubis checked his watch yet again and stared at the door, willing Annabelle to exit. Seth joined him.

“Think there’s a problem, Anubis?”

“I hope not. It’s not like them to keep a young child so long.”

“Want me to take a look?”

At Anubis’ nod, Seth closed his eyes. Anubis stood as still, not wanting to break Seth’s concentration as he sorted through the minds still in the theater. With a gasp Seth’s eyes flew open.


Anubis and Seth ran as one to the wall, changing into their Egyptian god forms. They slipped unseen through stone and mortar to the street behind the theater. The back door opened to reveal Claudette and Prissy dragging a screaming Annabelle towards a white limo.

“I don’t want to go with you. You promised me I could stay four days with Daddy. It’s only been two days. I want my Daddy.”  As Annabelle uttered the final word a burst of light exploded out of her.

Claudette and Prissy were propelled to either end of the small street, while the limo was pushed into the building opposite. When the light dimmed, Annabelle stood with a round face of surprise. Anubis moved to his daughter while Seth moved to Claudette. Gathering Annabelle up into his arms, Anubis watch Seth escort Claudette to him. She wouldn’t meet his eyes.

“What do you think you’re doing?” The jackal headed Anubis asked.

“I won’t speak to you when you look like that.”

Anubis shrank back into his human form. “Do I have to ask you again?”

Claudette shifted from one foot to the other. Then, lifting her chin, said “I was removing my daughter from your obviously bad influence.”

“I’m afraid that is no longer possible. I have papers that state you no longer have custody of Annabelle.” Anubis ignored Claudette’s gasp of shock. “Since she exhibits abilities beyond those of a normal human, the law is clear. All children possessing the power of a god are to reside with his or her godly parent. Contact with the human parent, and any other human for that matter, is prohibited until such time as the child is deemed to be in full control of their powers. Seth has copies of the legal papers for you. He has already sent copies to your lawyer and the judge.”

Claudette took the papers offered by Seth. “We’re not done with this. I’ll take this to the highest court.” She could still be heard screeching as the limo sped off.

                Anubis snuggled Annabelle in closer. “Let’s go home, My Little Ballerina Princess.”