Tuesday, March 2, 2021

IWSG: Wednesday, March 3, 2021 ~ Indulge!


It's the first Wednesday of the month,
the day that members of the
Insecure Writer's Support Group
share their writing struggles
and writing successes
and offer their encouragement
and support to fellow writers.

To visit the IWSG website, click here.

To become a member of the IWSG, click here.

Our wonderful co-hosts who are volunteering today,
along with IWSG Founder Alex J. Cavanaugh are Sarah - The Faux Fountain PenJacqui MurrayChemist KenVictoria Marie Lees, Natalie Aguirre and JQ Rose

I hope you have a chance to visit today's hosts and thank them for co-hosting.
I'm sure they would appreciate a visit and an encouraging comment.

Every month the IWSG announces a question that members can answer
with advice, insight, a personal experience, or a story in their IWSG posts.

Or, the question can inspire members
if they aren't sure what to write about on IWSG Day.

Remember the question is optional.
This month's featured question is: 

Everyone has a favorite genre or genres to write. But what about your reading preferences? Do you read widely or only within the genre(s) you create stories for? What motivates your reading choice??
Happy March, Everyone!
Since I recently discovered my DNA is 41% Irish, 
I'm wishing you the luck of the Irish this month.

I recently wrote about this topic, so I'll just say
that when it comes to reading, I am an omnivore.
I read all kinds of fiction and nonfiction,
and I typically read 30-40 books a year.

I have many reasons for choosing books to read.
Some are gifts, some are recommendations,
some cover passions of mine, some catch my eye and entice me.
And sometimes I just want to relax with a little mind candy.

This past year I challenged myself to read more books by IWSG members.
It has been a rewarding experience,
and I am amazed by the storytelling talents of IWSG's members.
A little intimidated too!

I've shared reviews of some of the IWSG books I've read in my posts.
Here are some more:

Well of Ash by Elle Cardy (Lynda R. Young):
A lyrical story about seventeen-year-old Ashina who flees her stifling foster home in a fit of anger and frustration.  Unfortunately, Ash lands in the poorest and most dangerous district of her city.  When she is stalked by a shadowy old man, she seeks refuge in a rooming house near a mysterious Great Well, one of many in her world.  An eerie blue light and ominous whispers awaken Ash and lure her out a window into the night and into an inescapable quest for answers to the frightening events entangling her.  While she is helped by Lacc, a handsome young rat catcher and Sooty, an amethyst-scaled, purple-eyed fire dragon, Ash must confront her past and solve the mystery of the Prudentia Great Well on her own.  Or die in the process.  I enjoyed this heart pounding story of adventure and romance, and I would dearly love a fire dragon of my own!

The Ninja Librarian by Rebecca M. Douglas:
Of course I had to read books by my fellow Voyager anthology writers, and Rebecca's humorous, rough-and-tumble book set in Skunk Corners entertained me from beginning to end.  The book is a collection of tall tales, with each chapter a standalone story featuring the town's school teacher and the librarian who just arrived to take over the town's underused library.  Teacher Big Al blends into the illiterate town by pretending her tea is whiskey and by sneaking into the library at night.  But Tom, the unassuming white-haired-librarian, has a secret ninja side, and his misadventures with Big Al slowly draw the citizens of Skunk Corners into a more literate future.  This book is ageless.  I would have read it with pleasure to my third graders, and I enjoyed it as a retired adult.

Mateo's Law by Sandra Cox:
This is the first paranormal western romance I have read, and it was compelling.  Sheriff Mateo Grey and Chief Deputy Blair Delaney must solve the mystery of a black wolf attacking animals and humans in Grizzly, Montana.  Grey is completely at home in the wide open spaces of Montana, but Delaney is a transplant from Atlanta, a southern belle with a foul mouth.  Of course they find themselves attracted to each other!  Throw in Grey's blood brother Jesse, Chief of the nearby Blackfoot Reservation who no longer speaks to Delaney, a lone wolf who lives on Grey's property, a lost child, marauding wolves, and shapeshifting, and you have a fast-paced, poignant, sexy thriller.  Loved it!

A Fighting Chance
by Chrys Fey:
This is the final book in Fey's Disaster Crimes series; and it focuses on Thorne and Amanda, not on Beth and Donovan, the protagonists of the previous five books.  It is a searing tale of Amanda's fight to survive after horrific sexual assault and abuse by her ex-boyfriend Damon.  Beth's best friend Thorn, an Orlando Police Department detective, has quietly loved Amanda, but hasn't pursued her for fear of frightening her away.  Amanda is attracted to Thorn, but is terrified of getting close to another man.  When they take tentative romantic steps toward one another, Damon retaliates with murderous intent. Will Amanda and Thorn forge a healing, loving relationship, or will Damon destroy it before they have A Fighting Chance?  This is an inspiring, uplifting story that will linger with you long after you race through its pages.

Plunge:  One Woman's Pursuit of a Life Less Ordinary
by Liesbet Collaert:
This is a surprising travel memoir. Yes, Liesbet shares vivid sailing adventures in warm tropical waters and angry Pacific storms, but she also examines herself and her relationships with unflinching honesty and truth, delving into deep questions we all must confront in life.  Her prose flows in this well-structured book like her sailboat Irie surfing big following seas, carrying us through its shifting emotional tones of courage, passion, heartbreak, and pathos.  Readers will admire Liesbet for living on her own terms and taking risks most of us would never dare to consider.  And they will adore her lovable dogs, Kali and Darwin. Liesbet reminds us that we only live once and that we should plunge into the journey fully with open hearts, open minds, and courage. 

The Circle of Friends series, books 1 and 2,
Lori and Sarah by L. Diane Wolfe:  
If you've been engaged with the IWSG Day blog posts, then you likely know of talented member, author, publisher, and motivational speaker Diane, aka Spunk on a Stick.  Diane was motivated to return to writing as an adult by the adage that everyone needs "something to hope for and someone to love."  I've raced through the first two books in the series and look forward to reading the remaining three.   
    Lori's dream is to swim for Olympic gold.  She appears to have it all, beauty, athleticism, and wealthy, supportive parents along with drive, organization, and determination.  But Lori is shy and lacks confidence.  When high school quarterback Jason rescues her from a bullying attack, romance flourishes.  Will this help or hinder her in her quest for Olympic gold?
    Lori's best friend Sarah is studying for a career in biochemistry at Georgia Tech.  While successful in her courses, she is less successful socially.  Bold and intelligent, this tomboy connects with guys as a good buddy rather than a romantic partner.  She falls into a relationship with college football receiver Matt who just happens to be Jason's best friend. With high school behind them, these friends struggle with adult issues and confronting their pasts while reaching for their ambitious futures.
    These two books will inspire you and fill you with optimism.  They illustrate that if you work hard enough you can achieve your dreams or reach for more meaningful ones and that you can overcome low self-esteem and difficult family relationships in the process. They provide strong doses of encouragement and hope and will lift you up.

*  *  *  *  *

If you haven't indulged in books written by your fellow IWSG members, I encourage you to try a few.  You will be impressed by the talent and creativity of fellow members.  Don't let their successes fuel your insecurities.  Use them to propel your own success as a writer. You can learn so much about reading members' books, and the authors will cheer you on with stories of their personal journeys and support you with a wealth of experience and professional insights.  And always remember, as spunky Diane says, "With a positive attitude, any goal can be achieved!" 

April 24, 1920
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

Happy IWSG Day, everyone! 

Till next time ~
Fundy Blue 

Friday, February 26, 2021

I'll Be Back Next Week

This week did not go according to plans, 
so I'll be back next week with a post.  🤞🤞🤞 

Have a great week!

Till next time ~
Fundy Blue

On the Bay of Fundy
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved


Friday, February 19, 2021

A Good Day for a Little Humor!

Last week I shared my extensive National Geographic
and Ancestry.com DNA results.
As kind commenter remarked:  "Wow! That is a lot of detail.
Do you have the traditional Irish gift of the gab?"
She has a point:  My Irish DNA may be expressing itself.

Thanks to all of you who waded through.
At least you're not Terry who has many nicknames for me, including "Overboard Louise."
He's been dealing with the fallout of my discovering I'm almost as much Irish as Scottish.

I haven't had much time to spend on genealogical research
because I've been busy with my memoir.  Yes!
All that work that I did during NaNoWriMo in November is pushing me forward.
I'm happily slogging on!

I have indulged in looking at funnies online.
Here are a few of my favorite that I came across:
Some are ancestry related,
and some reminded me of my family and friends.

A Message for My Siblings

For My Brother Roy
who is currently flying through a 3,000 piece jigsaw puzzle
that is taking up his entire dining room table! 

For My Sister Donnie

For My Sister Barb

For My Sister Bertie

For Debra

For Adam

The Plan for next Friday is a return to the North.
Fingers Crossed.
Have a great week!

Till next time ~
Fundy Blue

On the Bay of Fundy
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved


Friday, February 12, 2021

What the Hell? Who am I?

Months ago I spit into a small, screw-topped vial
containing a preservative solution and sealed it in a small box.
Then I chased down the receding mail truck and handed it to our mail lady.
It took a long time for Ancestry to analyze my results,
and when they arrived, I was shocked.

Let me tell you right up front that I'm not adopted, illegitimate, or have unexpected siblings,
but my results convulsed my cherished family tree and made me question who I am.

The Double Helix Structure of DNA

This wasn't the first time I had my DNA analyzed.
Since I couldn't contribute to the gene pool by having children,
I thought the least I could do was participate in Phase Two
of National Geographic's Genographic Project, Geno 2.0.

The Genographic project was an exciting and ambitious attempt
to determine our human origins and to trace our migrations as we populated the earth.
How could I not contribute my DNA to the effort to map humankind's genetic history?

Almost half a million people from more than 130 countries
participated in the first phase of the  Genographic Project.
This provided an unprecedented look into humankind's journey.

The second phase, Geno 2.0, provided deeper insight into our genetic history
by examining DNA samples for nearly 150,000 DNA identifiers or markers.
These markers revealed rich ancestry-relevant information.
(Source:  National Geographic booklet Geno 2.0:  Your Story.  Our Story.  The Human Story.)
By the time National Geographic retired its Genographic Project,
1,006,542 individuals in over 140 countries had participated in the project.
Individuals were classified by "assessing their proportions
of genomic ancestry related to nine ancestral regions: 
East Asian, Mediterranean, Southern African,
Southwest Asian, Oceanian, Southeast Asian,
Northern European, Sub-Saharan African, and Native American."  (Wikipedia)

I'll bet many people like me were most curious about their individual origins.

Joining the Human Story
Myrtle Louise MacBeath
with her parents, Sara and Don MacBeath
March 1950
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

National Geographic's results were less surprising to me
than Ancestry's, but none-the-less fascinating.
National Geographic compared my DNA affiliations with those of the nine world regions.
They used my entire genome and could see
my mother and father's information going back six generations.

The data showed recent and ancient genetic patterns in my DNA
due to human migrations and mixing over thousands of years.
National Geographic pointed out that the results 
didn't necessarily mean that I belonged to these groups,
but that these groups were a similar genetic match.

So here goes!

My Regional Ancestry (500-10,000 years ago):
First Reference Population:  German
Second Reference Population:  British (England)

German                                     British                                       Me 
46% Northern European           49% Northern European           44% Northern European
36% Mediterranean                  33% Mediterranean                   37% Mediterranean
17 % Southwest Asian             17% Southwest Asian               17% Southwest Asian

My dominant Northern European component likely reflects
the earliest settlers in Europe, hunter-gathers who arrived over 35,000 years ago,
while the Mediterranean and Southwest Asian components reflect early farmers moving
into Europe from the Fertile Crescent in the Middle East over the past 10,000 years.

Perhaps this explains my strange affinity for the Assyrian Collection in the British Museum. 
Ancient Nimrod calls to me every time I set foot in London.

Ancient Nimrod in Assyria Beckons
British Museum, London, UK
September 10, 2018
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

As you may know, all living women have a direct maternal ancestor
who was born some 180,000 years ago in East Africa.
Mitochondrial Eve is the root of the human family tree,
and she generated two lineages known as L0 and L1'2'3'4'5'6.
Each lineage has a different set of genetic mutations that its members carry.

Eventually the L1'2'3'4'5'6 lineage produced the L3 Branch
on our common family tree about 67,000 years ago.
While many L3 members stayed in Africa, some dispersed in different directions.
My distant L3 ancestors migrated north and were the first modern humans to leave Africa.
They created two macro-haplogroups (M and N) that populated the rest of the world.

Basically a haplogroup is an ancestral clan that tells
where your ancestors came from deep in time. Ancestralfindings.com
At the risk of over-simplifying very complicated
and sometimes controversial migration patterns,
I'll generalize that the Macro-haplogroup M Branch wandered east throughout Asia
and the Macro-haplogroup N Branch wandered north into Europe.

The Peopling of Eurasia

My "ancestral clan," the western Eurasian Branch,
migrated across the Sinai Peninsula about 60,000 years ago,
having followed the Nile basin out of Africa, 
likely because of its reliable water and food resources.
They probably co-existed with other hominids in the eastern Mediterranean region
and western Asia, such as the Neanderthals, hence my 2.0% Neanderthal DNA.

Thousands of years later, descendants of my N Branch group followed migrating herds
into unexplored territories surrounding the Middle East.
Eventually they roamed north out of the Levant, crossed the Caucasus Mountains,
arrived in southeastern Europe and the Balkans,
and went on to populate the rest of Europe.

Of course, I had to have a complication in my family tree, the R Branch.
This group, dating back to 55,000 years ago, migrated all over the place
including into areas where the N Branch roamed.
In all likelihood, the N and R lineages radiated out of the Near East together,
and geneticists are currently trying to sort out the tangled mess.

About 41,000 years ago, descendants of my R Branch formed the RO Branch,
a group that lived throughout West Asia.

Descendants of my RO Branch gave rise to my ancestors, the pre-HV Branch.
Its members lived around the Red Sea and throughout the Near East,
with its highest numbers in Arabia.

Over several thousand years, my pre-HV ancestors gave rise to
the HV Brancha west Eurasian haplogroup found in Turkey,
the Caucasus Mountains of southern Russia, and the Republic of Georgia.  

Caucasus Mountains

My H Branch of ancestors descended from my HV Branch about  28,000 years ago, 
and it washed into western Europe as a wave of migration,
bringing with it significant innovations in tool making, preparing skins, and woodworking.

Around 15,000 to 20,000 years ago, my H Branch of ancestors 
retreated into the Iberian Peninsula, Italy, and the Balkans
because colder temperatures and a drier global climate caused the last Ice Age.
After the ice sheets began their retreat about 15,000 years ago,
my ancestors quickly moved north again and recolonized western Europe.

National Geographic indicated that the highest percentage of the H Branch
currently found in Europe is in Ireland where the line makes up 61% of the population.

Heatmap for H ~ National Geographic Genographic Project.

Somewhere among my rambling deep ancestors, I picked up 1.4% Denisovan DNA.
According to history.com, "Modern humans and Denisovans likely met
for the first time in Eurasia some 40,000 to 60,000 years ago,
after Homo sapiens began their own migration out of Africa."

As for those shocking Ancestry DNA results?
Throughout my life I have proudly proclaimed my Scottish ancestry
on both sides of my family, MacBeath and MacDonald.
My family's clan connections could people a Roll Call of the Clans
at the Antigonish Highland Games in Nova Scotia,
the oldest continuous highland games outside of Scotland.
Somewhere a smidgen of French and Dutch snuck in.

The ancient home of my MacBeath ancestors
is the western coast of Scotland and the Hebrides Islands. 

Motto: Conjuncta virtuti fortuna
Motto Translation: Good fortune is allied to bravery

The ancient home of my MacDonald ancestors
is the west highlands of Scotland and the Hebrides Islands.

Motto: Per mer per terras
Motto Translation: By land by sea

I'll spare you the rest of my Roll Call of the Clans!

Well, my shock is that I'm only 49% Scottish!
Those ancestors DO hail from the Scottish Highlands and Islands,
the outer Hebrides, and the Isle of Skye.

But Ancestry indicates that I'm 41% Irish!
The news convulsed my cherished family tree.
Who the hell am I?

Someone close to me has been chortling
there was a leprechaun in the woodpile somewhere in my past.  
(And that someone is definitely Irish.)

The remaining 10% of of my ethnicity includes
5% from Northwestern Europe, 3% from Germanic Europe, and 2% from Norway.

I broke the news to my siblings:
Donnie, I have shocking news...
Bertie, I have some shocking news, shocking to me, maybe surprising to you...
Barb, I have news that's going to shock you...
Roy, sit down.  I have bad news...

Wow!  It didn't rock their worlds like it rocked mine.
Not even my brother Royal Stewart MacBeath.

Barb and I got into a heated debate
over the origin of the leprechaun in the woodpile.
I'm going with our Grandfather MacDonald's line.
She's going with our Great Grandfather Pratt's line.

Barb's going to have her DNA done by Ancestry too.
She suggested that perhaps she and the rest of my siblings
have different DNA from mine, more Scottish.
I reminded her that she's the one who's been nicknamed the Milkman's Daughter.
She says she's a throwback to the Pratts and that my Scottish genes
were altered by the survivors of the shipwrecked Spanish Armada.
Aren't sisters fun?

But we come by our vigorous discussions legitimately.
I'll never forget my mother firing a raw egg at my father,
because he was singing "The Campbells Are Coming" to tease her.
I think it was his line, "The Campbells are coming, MacDonalds are running," 
that prompted the egg splattering on her target. 
A little later we all sat down for a peaceful scrambled egg breakfast,
although my father couldn't resist humming a few provocative bars here and there.
I wonder what my parents would think about potential Irish origins? 

We Five
Louise (Me), Roy, Barb, Donnie, and Bertie 
Boar's Head Lighthouse, Tiverton, Nova Scotia
August 3, 2015
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

This ancestral setback of mine bears digging into.
I'll keep you posted (depending on what I find out ~ LOL!)

Till next time ~
Fundy Blue

On the Bay of Fundy
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved


Friday, February 5, 2021

"The Window" by Dave Cole

Happy Friday, Everyone!
Dancing Lemur Press, L.L.C. released a new book on Tuesday,
Dave Cole's excellent young adult novel The Window.
I have a soft spot in my heart for Dancing Lemur Press,
so I'm happy to support a fellow author in DLP's author group.

This creepy paranormal book is perfect for young adult boys, but girls will enjoy it too.
As a retired teacher who's read countless books aloud to elementary-aged kids,
I know a winner when I see one, and this book is a winner.

The Window grabbed me with the first two lines:
"I was fifteen when I saw my best friend die.  Although if I think
about it, I was fourteen when I saw him die the first time."

I flew through the 166 pages of this coming-of-age novel
with its unnerving supernatural twist.
Fifteen-year-old Brian Bingham is confronted with more than
the death of his best friend JK during the worst year of his life:
his grades are tanking, his parents are warring,
and he is falling in love for the first time.

The prospect of someone as clumsy and insecure as him 
asking someone as confident and beautiful as Charlotte 
out on a date is terrifying to Brian.  But with JK as
his enthusiastic wingman, he has no choice but to plunge in.

I like how Dave's prose flowed as I read,
his words carrying me from page to page.
The characters, their challenges, and the setting
had an immediacy and authenticity that I appreciated.
Dave has a knack for blending expository information
into the narrative seamlessly.
The story had a timeless quality about it: 
It could take place today, years ago, or in the future.

I don't care how old you are, the sight of a mysterious window
where no window exists is irresistible.
I'd look through it; wouldn't you?
Unfortunately, as we story lovers know, knowledge of the hidden,
the inexplicable, and the compelling usually extracts a cost.
Is the tragedy unfolding in "The Window" predestined
or can Brian change the future?  Only time will tell.

I had an opportunity to ask Dave Cole some questions
about The Window, and he kindly indulged me.
I'm glad I had the chance to learn more about this talented author.

Author Dave Cole

Questions for Dave:
1.  I'm reading a review copy of The Window as I'm posing these questions.  I'm a
     retired teacher who's read a lot of books for kids of all ages.  I know a winner
     when I see one, and your book is awesome!  How does a computer scientist
     and software designer end up writing a paranormal contemporary fantasy
     for middle school/high school kids?

Like you, I’m an avid reader. I’ve also always enjoyed writing.  Working in a technical field is typically associated with being “left-brained”, but while software development does require analytical and methodical thinking, it can also be surprisingly creative. There are often different ways to solve the same problem, and developers revel in coming up with innovative solutions. 

About five years ago I accepted a role with a large social networking company in California. Before moving my family, I decided to check out the area. That turned into two years of commuting back and forth to St. Louis. It also presented me with a lot of free time.  I used the time to write a middle grade adventure series called The Math Kidsthink a little bit of Hardy Boys and Encyclopedia Brown, with a close group of friends who use their math skills to solve mysteries.  That began my official writing career, and The Window was a result of that.

2.  The characters and the setting of The Window are so normal and authentic
     that a reader readily accepts the window as a portal into the future. How did
     the idea of the window come to you?  

I work out of my home office. One day I heard a screech of brakes and witnessed the aftermath of a near collision between car and bike. I wondered what would have happened if the driver had been a little slower to hit the brake. These accidents never turn out well for the bike rider. That thought led to “what if I knew what was coming and could have warned the driver or biker?” That thought became the premise for The Window.
3.  How did you develop the plot for the story?  Did you know how the storyline
     and its ending from the beginning, or did it evolve as you wrote?
Some writers develop the plot from the beginning, carefully storyboarding and outlining before they ever write a line of text. I’m not one of those writers! I start with a broad idea and a scene or two in my head and let the story evolve as it goes. The Window took several unexpected turns I absolutely didn’t see coming until they happened. I also don’t write from beginning to end. I had written the ending long before I addressed the middle act of the book. I loved my original conclusion, but the story went a different direction, and I was forced to completely rewrite the ending.

4.  You sound like one busy individual based on your bio.  How do you find time to
     write and what is your process?

I do keep busy, but I love the hectic pace. I was doing final edits on The Window, preliminary edits on An Encrypted Clue (book 4 in The Math Kids series) and completing the first draft of An Incorrect Solution (book 5 in The Math Kids series) all at the same time. Behind the scenes I was also working on a new novel. And did I mention I have a full-time job?

I try to write on weekends and a couple of evenings each week. Sometimes it’s only for an hour or so, sometimes I might write for seven or eight hours on a Sunday. I wish I was more consistent in my approach, but so far it seems to be working.
5.  Every author who has published a book during the pandemic has wrestled
     with promoting that book.  How do you plan to promote The Window, and do you have
     any advice for other authors promoting a book during this difficult time?
Welcome to the land of virtual book tours! I would love to do book signings instead as they are one of my favorite things to do! I was doing a signing for my second Math Kids book in Toronto. It was a big convention with book publishers from all over Canada. I felt good that my line of people remained consistent at ten or so people—that is, until I looked to my right and saw a line that wound around the convention hall and stretched into the hallway. I looked closer and it was Dav Pilkey, of Dog Man and Captain Underpants fame. Someday we’ll get back to those days.

In the meantime, my publisher has worked very hard to set me up with numerous guest blogs and virtual interviews. Working for a social media company, I’m also being quite active in promoting the book. My website is seeing quite a bit of activity these days and I have a nice cadre of loyal fans who are helping to spread the word.

6.  I love that you coach elementary school math teams!  Math literacy is as necessary
     as reading literacy.  Have you done school presentations with your Math Kids series?
     Do you have any tips for authors giving presentations at school?
I have done a few school presentations and had plans to do quite a few more this year before Covid shut things down. If I’m speaking on The Math Kids, I usually try to show them some math they have never seen before. The goal is to show them that math is not just worksheets. My biggest tip on school visits is to leave plenty of time for questions. If I’m there for 45 minutes, I’ll only plan on talking for 15 minutes and then open things up. I always get great questions from the audience, some that really make me think.

7.  How did you land your contact with Dancing Lemur Press?
     Did you have an agent or did you query?
I just spoke about this topic at a writing group. I did not take the “traditional” path to publishing. First, I’ve never been able to get an agent, although I haven’t written off that option for the future. For The Window, I queried Dancing Lemur Press directly. They rejected it, but they provided excellent insight into what they liked and what they didn’t. I took their advice to heart and did a significant restructuring of the book. They were kind enough to reread the book after the modifications and chose to publish the new version. 

8.  What did you learn about improving your writing and story by working with
     an editor on The Window?
Working with an editor is great—once your ego comes to grips with understanding the editor is being constructive and not trying to crush your spirit by deleting that one line of perfect prose that took you hours to get just right. 

One of the things I learned was that there are two phases to the editing process. First is the story phase. Does the story flow well? Are the characters and settings believable? Are there any issues with the timeline? Does the structure of the story work? This is where I did my first major rewrite. I had originally written the book as a series of alternating past and present scenes. I thought this was a clever way of approaching a book that deals with being able to see into the future. What I succeeded in doing, instead, was jumbling the message. Sometimes I gave away too much of the story at the wrong time. In other cases, the reader was confused on when the scene was taking place. The editor suggested doing everything in the present and letting the story unfold naturally. Their criticism was spot on and The Window is a much better book as a result.

The second phase was more straightforward: word choices, overuse of certain phrases, tense issues, dialogue construction, and so on. My editor sent me a style guide that allowed me to find and fix many of my mistakes by myself. This sped up the process while giving me a great lesson in improving my writing.

9.  Do you have any tips for unpublished writers who are working on a paranormal
     manuscript for juveniles?
Read lots of books in your genre and age range. Read the best sellers and the ones in the bargain bin. What are the themes? What’s already been done? Where would have made changes if you were writing the same book? 

Write, write, write. Not all of it will be good, but you’ll learn more with each session at the keyboard. Get honest feedback from your intended audience. It doesn’t help to have your niece praise every word. Find readers who will give you that tough criticism. It’s hard to take but you’ll get used to it.

Finally, be patient. Be prepared to spend time waiting for responses from agents and publishers. Even after you finally get that contract, the waiting isn’t over. The process of publishing a book takes a while, but the end result is worth it!

10.  What are you working on now?

I’m working on two projects. The first is The Triangle Secret, book 6 in The Math Kids series, due out in April of 2022. The second is tentatively titled Three Weeks in October, a novel about the relationship between a dying father and his son told through the lens of their love of baseball. I also have a file of five or six other story ideas that I am looking into developing.
11.  Is there anything I haven't asked about that you would like to share about
     The Window?
Writing is a solitary endeavor, but it really helps to have a support system. Family and friends who provide encouragement. Early readers who are willing to give feedback on your books. A publisher who is willing to take a chance on you. An editor that polishes a rough stone into (hopefully) a diamond. Thanks to everyone who has been there for me throughout!

     Thanks, Dave, for your informative answers to my questions.  It
     was fun to "meet" you during this unusual time.  I look forward
     to reading more of your books.  I hope you have great success
     with The Window.

*  *  *  *  *

Young adult fiction is typically written for readers 12 to 18 years old,
but I would recommend this book for avid readers as young as 10
and to the many adults who enjoy this genre.
Choosing a book for boys to read is often challenging, 
but boys will connect with the contemporary issues in The Window.

Good luck to Dave and all my writing friends!

Till next time ~
Fundy Blue

On the Bay of Fundy
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved


The Window by Dave Cole

A dark window to the future…

Everything changed the day Brian Bingham looked out the attic window and saw something that wouldn't happen for another week. Through a mysterious window no one else can see, Brian gains a portal into the future. But the future is not always something he wants to see.

Brian has enough troubles in the present without worrying about the future. His parents are constantly fighting, his grades are plummeting, and his new relationship with Charlotte, a girl way out of his league, is in jeopardy.

When the window reveals his best friend's brutal death, Brian’s world is turned upside down. He must find a way to change the future…or die trying.

Release date – February 2, 2021
$13.95, 6x9 trade paperback, 170 pages
Print ISBN 9781939844767 / EBook ISBN 9781939844774
Young Adult – Paranormal (YAF045000) / Contemporary Fantasy (YAF019010) / Horror (YAF026000)

Dave is from St. Louis and has a degree in Computer Science. He is the author of The Math Kids series for middle grade readers. When he is not designing data center management software, he is usually reading, writing, or coaching elementary school math teams. He loves writing and his wife loves that he has found a hobby that doesn't cost money!