Tuesday, October 23, 2012

I don't usually write Y/A stories, but my Creative Writing Class suggested the topic. As leader of the class, I decided to participate. Notice, in a short story, you must start with the action. In my first draft I spent two unnecessary paragraphs setting the scene.
RELUCTANT ADVENTURE                      J. Brennan
“Whatever you do, don’t touch that…”
Before Jerry finished the sentence, it was too late. Candy’s natural curiosity prevailed and her finger seemed drawn to the bright red button, marked LAUNCH.
Everything seemed to happen at once. The winged doors of the small space capsule snapped closed and locked. Belts automatically secured Jerry and Candy to their seats and helmets dropped from the ceiling covering their heads. Lights inside the capsule blinked. A recorded voice gave instructions to follow before lift-off.
          “Can’t you stop this thing?” screamed Candy.
Jerry fought panic. Candy had pushed the button, which would send the capsule into outer space. Nothing he knew how do would stop it from inside, and no one was in the lab on Sunday afternoon.
He should have never used his dad’s ID card to sneak Candy into the lab, and never allowed her to talk him into sitting inside the capsule. He looked over at her, the cutest girl in the sixth grade class. What was he thinking? His dad, Professor Henry Jenkins, would kill him.
 “Attach your helmet,” the recorded voice instructed. Jerry knew that when the capsule took off, they, along with the capsule would shrink to an eighth of their original size. A gas will put them into a deep sleep and they wouldn’t wake up until they landed.  
The ceiling of the Cosmo Laboratories slid open and lights inside the capsule dimmed. Before the craft shot out of the building, both Jerry and Candy had lapsed into a deep sleep.
When the capsule’s doors popped open, Jerry had no way of determining when or where they had landed. He removed his helmet and tentatively stepped outside to survey the surroundings. It appeared to him that they landed in the middle of a forest in the dark of night.
He reached inside to shake Candy. “Are you okay?”
“I guess. Where are we?”
“I have no idea.”
“Can you get us back home?”
Jerry glanced back at the capsule. “I don’t dare experiment with the drive panel. The machine has the ability to self-destruct. If I push the wrong button, we’re toast.”
“But what can we do? I don’t want to die here, wherever here is.”
“The best thing we can do now is to wait until daylight. We should be safe in the capsule, but please Candy, don’t touch anything. I’ll block the doors open so we won’t take off again.”
At the first light of dawn, Jerry stepped out of the capsule. Candy yawned and followed him.
“Stay close to me and let’s see if we can find any sign of life.”
She grabbed onto of his shirttail and followed behind as they made their way through a patch of brown and green undergrowth. After fighting their way through thicket, they ended up on the banks of a muddy river. Candy frowned when Jerry brushed away the surface grime and dipped his cupped his hands into the water.
“Better get a drink. A little dirt never hurt anyone.”
Candy reluctantly bent down to dip her hands into the water when she slipped and fell in. “I can’t swim,” she gurgled as her head bobbed up and down in the water.
Jerry kicked off his sneakers and jumped in beside her. “Relax, don’t struggle. I have you.” He pulled her to the muddy shore and they sat down on a boulder to catch their breath. 
Once out of the thicket, Jerry noticed huge birds, and then he recognized a jet streaking across the sky. They had shrunk but never returned to their normal size. The river he drank from was merely a mud puddle.
Loud voices called his name. A huge foot shook the ground beside him.
 “We’re down here,” he screamed at the top of his lungs.
A hand scooped him and Candy up.
“Young Mister Jenkins. Seems you got yourself in a bit of a situation here. And who is this young lady?”
Jerry immediately recognized the head Lab Scientist, Professor Ludwig.
“How did you find us?” Jerry shouted.
“Wasn’t hard. The capsule is equipped with a GPS.” The professor snickered. “You managed to launch, and shrink, but you didn’t go far. You shot straight up into the atmosphere and immediately landed on the edge of the parking lot. Now listen carefully while I explain how you can return to the laboratory and regain your normal size."
The professor set the couple down next to the capsule. On his hands and knees, he instructed Jerry exactly how to program the spaceship for the return trip.
“Okay, young man. Blast off.”
The door closed. Jerry pushed a series of buttons. The capsule jerked upward and then they dropped into the whirlpool of darkness. When they regained consciousness, the capsule perched on its launching pad in the lab and they had returned to their former size.
Jerry prepared himself for the worst. He didn’t expect a hug from his dad and cheers when he and Candy stepped out of the spaceship.
“You made history, young man. You successfully tested the capsule and proved it worked as designed. Had you programmed in a destination, we probably would never have found you, but you’re back safe and sound.”
Someone popped the cork on a large bottle of champagne and filled paper cups…root beer for Candy and Jerry.
After an afternoon of celebration, Jerry’s dad pulled him aside.
“You’re grounded. Don’t ever do anything that stupid again.”      




Saturday, August 11, 2012


Drama in a Small Town: LISTEN WHEN YOUR CHARACTER SPEAKS: I’ve attended seminars, enjoyed conferences and have personally given workshops on many aspects of writing. I lead both a Critique group ...


I’ve attended seminars, enjoyed conferences and have personally given workshops on many aspects of writing. I lead both a Critique group and a Creative Writing class. I mention this because I'm aware of the importance of character development, and plotting my romantic suspense novels. There are many hard and fast rules for writing. Don’t head hop. Stay in the character’s POV. Make your dialog real and keep your plots solid and believeable.

Would someone please tell that to my character? I’m presently writing, ROBYN, the fourth of the Rexford Series. Robyn is perky, cheerful, a character with personal problems but the first to help her friends when they’re in trouble. I’ve done a complete character analysis on Robyn. I know how she thinks, her weaknesses and faults, her joy of life. I also know her disappointments. Pretty easy character to write about....so, what happened?

Robyn is bulking at the stereotype. She snarls and tells me she’s changing, developing a backbone. Wait a minute. That’s not how I pictured her. Okay, she hasn’t altered her physical looks. She’s still petite with short blonde hair and a sunny smile, but now she’s making snap decisions and taking charge of her life.

This often happens when I write fiction. My characters take over. They talk to me and let me know they have a mind of their own and I had better listen. Unfortunately, they also disrupt my sleep at night and demand my attention. I’ve learned to keep a tape recorder next to my bed to keep a record of their midnight ranting. In the morning, I’m always surprised by the suggestions.

Listen to your characters. Get the feeling of what makes them tick. Never say never when it comes to their growth and you’ll end up with a well-rounded character who will develop your manuscript into a great reading experience.

Keep writing, Joyce Brennan


Saturday, July 14, 2012

Drama in a Small Town: THE ARREST

Drama in a Small Town: THE ARREST:                                                               THE ARREST “Police, open the door.” The pounding and shouts roused B...


                                                              THE ARREST

“Police, open the door.”
The pounding and shouts roused Ben out of a deep sleep. He sat up in bed, sure he was dreaming when a loud crack splintered the door of his studio apartment. Officers dressed in swat-team uniforms flooded the room. Arms yanked him to his feet.
“Wait a minute. Stop. What’s going on?” Ben’s protest was met with an arm to the throat as he was wrestled to the floor. He felt a knee to the back of his neck as metal cuffs pinched on his wrists.
“Would someone please tell me…”
“You have the right to remain silent.” The officer continued reading Ben his rights before they hauled him to his feet.
“At least, give me my pants and shoes…wallet.”
Someone swore and tossed a pair of jeans in his direction. A grim officer helped him dress and allowed him to slip his bare feet into his shoes, while others rummaged through his dresser.
“Found it.” An officer held up a package. No one else spoke as two strong men hauled him downstairs and into a squad car.
Ben’s questions remained unanswered as they sped to the police station. He didn’t bother to protest when the officers led him into a small room furnished with two chairs and a table. He realized a video camera captured his every move so he sat quietly, careful not to show any emotion.
After twenty minutes, Detective Grissom entered the room and slapped a folder on the table. He scrapped out the chair sat across from Ben and took his time shuffling the papers in front of him.
“Drug possession with the intent to sell,” he growled.
            Ben started to speak but realized the situation was hopeless. He wasn’t involved in drugs. Didn’t have drugs in his apartment. That didn’t mean they weren’t placed there by rogue cops. He listened while Grissom read off the charges.
            “You’re in serious trouble, young man.”
Ben stayed silent and stared at the detective.
Grissom’s voice rose to a higher level. He stood and began to pace the room. “What do you have to say for yourself?”
Ben clamped his lips.
Grissom stood between Ben and the camera and slapped the open folder before him. “If you don’t plan to talk to me, I’ll have no option but to book you. Understand?”
Ben noticed the detective edged the folder in his direction. He glanced down and squashed a smile when he read the note. We got them, Ben. I’m placing you in protective custody until it’s time to testify.
Undercover agent, Ben Marks nodded. Instead of a cell, another undercover agent rushed him off to a motel room. It was much better than the grimy apartment he rented to take part in the sting.
Joyce Brennan  July, 2012

When writing a short story, start with action. You don't have the space to set up a descriptive background. Don't name minor characters unless they're important to move the story forward or are involved in the conflict. I also try to stay in the main character's point of view. Keep  your reader guessing until the end. 
The same holds true when writing a longer manuscript. Choose the main character,(hero/herorine) and try to keep your story in their point of view or that of the secondary character. (lover/detective/ best friend, etc.) Don't jump from one character's POV to another in the same scene. Stay consistant. Flush out those characters with description sprinkled throughout your novel. It's boring to read that Suzie has long blond hair, blue eyes and a smile that lights up the room. Show that.
 "What is she thinking?" I'm often asked how to place a character's inner thoughts in a novel. Skip the ("I can't stand him," she thought.) and either write it in italics or simply write, "I can't stand him."  No-he thought/ she thought. Give your reader credit. Also, don't go into a long narrative of your characters thoughts. You might put your reader to sleep. Mix it up with dialog and/or action.
Keep writing, Joyce  


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Drama in a Small Town: FINAL INTERVIEW

Drama in a Small Town: FINAL INTERVIEW: I hope you enjoy this short story. FINAL INTERVIEW   Joyce Brennan Her hands shook slightly and she clasped them together. I sat...


I hope you enjoy this short story.


 Joyce Brennan

Her hands shook slightly and she clasped them together. I sat across the table from her and introduced myself.

“I don’t usually give interviews,” she said, “but I’ll make an exception because this is such a special day.”

Dressed in white, she began to fuss with her hair while attendants watched her every move. I couldn’t help but admire her natural beauty.

“I appreciate your time,” I said. “I guess my first question, how did you reach this point in your life?”

“I can sum it up in two words…true love.”

 “But there had been many obstacles.”

“That made it all the more exhilarating. We had overcome all odds.”

“We? You’re referring to you and Ted. How did you become attracted to Mr. Mason?”

“That should be obvious. Ted’s exciting and extremely handsome.”

I understood the attraction. Ted Mason’s face had graced the front pages of all the newspapers. Women from throughout the world were swooning over him.

“How did you cope with the letters he received from his fans?” I asked.

She waved her hand in the air. “I knew he was completely dedicated to me…to us.”

“Tell me how you met?”

“It was fate.” A blush crossed her pale face as she evaded my question. I tried another approach.

“Have you always lived in Texas?”

“No. Ted and I came here to get married.”

“Why Texas?”

“You know. The wild, wild West. It seemed appropriate. We had an amazing affair.”

I checked my notes. “Wasn’t Ted already married?”

“That happened years ago. We were completely devoted to each other.”

“Tell me, Gilda, did you have long term goals?”

A high giggle filled the room. “Ted and I lived for the moment. That’s more exciting.”

“Do you want to talk about Sylvia Tanner?

Her face paled briefly, but she quickly recovered. “I don’t think that’s appropriate. How do I look?”

“Fantastic.” I wasn’t lying. With her clear skin, light complexion and delicate features, she reminded me of Dresden china.

Our conversation was interrupted. “The priest is here. You’ll have to leave.”

Gilda smiled brightly. “You’ve been so kind. Now I must meet my intended. For better or worse, richer or poorer, till death…well you know.”

I knew.

I paced the floor until the designated time. I stood behind the curtains and when the lights dimmed, I cringed. Gilda Bennett joined her beloved by lethal injection. Sylvia Tanner became their final victim. Ted Mason had been executed six month before. The serial killers, now joined in death, were no longer a threat.

Monday, June 11, 2012


You’ve all read books where the author goes on and on about the room, the furniture, the heroine’s hair or the way she’s dressed. As a writer, you want the reader to picture your character and setting, but don’t go overboard. Decide what’s important.  If you describe a sofa, covered in a paisley print, make sure that sofa has a critical role in the scene. Is the room old-fashioned? Were blood spots hidden in the design? Did it indicate the lack of style or clash with the rest of the room? Maybe your heroine can’t afford matching furniture or she has inherited a rag-tag furnished house. Unless that sofa in some way pushes the story forward, omit it.

I once began reading a novel where the first two pages described the ivy climbing up the side of the house and pots of flowers lined the porch.  Ask yourself if that information is important. If one of your characters hides in the shadows of hanging plants or places notes in the ivy for his/her lover, it might be useful information. If you are describing a country cottage, take a critical look at your description. Don’t overdo it.

Sometimes, your character is completely out of his/her element. A city dweller might be intrigued with the flowers and garden of a country estate. Mention it, and then go on with your plot unless that’s where your character meets the love of his/her life, or discovers a dead body.

Don’t bore your reader with pages of description. Dribble it throughout your story. For instance, let’s say your heroine has long blonde hair and blue eyes. She’s five-six and weighs one hundred-twenty pounds. Writing those facts sounds like she’s filling out papers to apply for a driver’s license. Don’t tell it, show it.

“Angela gathered her blonde hair in a ponytail and covered her blues eyes with dark glasses, as if that would provide a disguise.”

If Angela is five-six, maybe she’d tower over her petite sister. No one really wants to know how much Angela weighs unless it’s important to the plot. If you feel it adds to the manuscript, you might allow the hero to describe her to one of his friends.

Insert descriptive phrases throughout your novel, but don’t make the reader suffer through boring pages of unnecessary facts.

Keep writing. Joyce    


Sunday, May 6, 2012

Drama in a Small Town: Step out of your comfort zone and have fun with yo...

Drama in a Small Town: Step out of your comfort zone and have fun with yo...: Step out of your comfort zone and have fun with your writing. Learn to change your habits. Write something new and different from your ...

Step out of your comfort zone and have fun with your writing.

Learn to change your habits. Write something new and different from your normal genre.
Start with little changes in your regular stories. If you write in third person, try the same story in first person. Play different music when you write to change the atmosphere.

Step outside of the box.
You don’t have to do anything dramatic like writing erotica if you’re used to writing children’s books, but try fantasy. If you write fiction, try non-fiction, maybe a newspaper article or even a letter to the editor. If you write mysteries, try a love story. Take a stab at writing humor or conger up a story about werewolves. This can help you step out of your comfort zone with new ideas and concepts.

Imagination is a wonderful thing.
When you’re stuck in a rut, you are not tapping into your imagination. Imagination is a great source of energy and knowledge.  Dream. Dare to be a kid again and let your mind wander. Your imagination can lead you to write an adventurous story.

Change your character’s names and situations
Be open to creating new and maybe peculiar characters. Give them names that your reader with remember. The more you experiment with change in your writing, the more interesting your stories will become. Change can sometimes add depth to your writing and it keeps you from becoming stale and dull.

Help is always available
Join a critique group or a writer’s group. I have never met a writer who wasn’t open to helping me brainstorm when I’m temporarily brain dead. A different perspective can help alleviate stress in new situations that you may choose to write.

You can write.
Think positive when you sit down at your computer to punch out that first page. Everything begins with your thoughts and your feelings. That becomes apparent when you put it down on paper. Writers have heard this many times. Write first, edit later. Get your thoughts down on paper.

Lastly, love what you do. I know that sounds trite, but if writing is not enjoyable, it will show up in your finished manuscript. A good attitude is important to you and your reader.

Keep writing. Joyce  

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Write It Short And Sweet

When I started writing fifteen years ago, I concentrated on short stories. I belonged to a writing group that wrote and read their stories aloud twice a month. The leader of the group gave us a subject,  sometimes a picture or the names of three or four objects to include in our writing. I remember one in particular, "a rocking chair, a china cup and ballet slippers." The creative stories the group wrote and read all included those words, but each one was completely different.

Needless to say, I have a file folder full of my tales. As the group grew, we found we had to limit our words due to a time limit. While the original stories were 1500 to 2000 words, we eventually cut them to 600 or less to give everyone a chance to read their stories.

I mention this because trimming your work makes you choose only the important words and in the end, the story becomes more powerful. In my critique group, I circle the 'was' words in blue, the 'ly' words in red and 'ing' in green. It's not because I don't want the group to use those words, but to point out how many they include and how they can eliminate weak adverbs and still make their stories interesting. 

"He was walking quickly to the car," can be said: "He rushed to the car." Of course, in longer novels, you'd want to show that instead of telling. 

Poetry is another genre that requires choosing the correct and powerful words. I lead a, "Memoir, Creative Writing, Poetry," group once a month. Monday, we are fortunate to have Nevada's Senior Poet Laureate, Raynette Eitel, to give a presentation. She is wonderful with words and rhythm. I'm sure my group will learn a lot even if they don't write poetry. I can't write it, but I love to listen, especially to Raynette's thought provoking poems. I have three of her books and treasure them.

I challenge you to look at any newspaper heading or even an advertisement and write a short story with a beginning, middle conflict and ending in 500 words or less. It will help your writing, and you'll have fun creating an interesting piece of Flash Fiction. As an aside, there are many 
e-zines on the internet who publish Flash Fiction.

Keep writing. Joyce      

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Adding Humor

I attended an seminar on adding humor to your manuscript. Guess what? Although I thought I could be funny, at least have a little humor...it's harder than you think to put it down on paper. It loses something in the translation, so to speak. I decided to take notes on the things I read that make me snicker and start from there. When you write romantic suspense, you usually don't include prat-falls, but your heroine can certainly trip over a pair of shoes left in the middle of the room when she's late for a date, or dress in her best only to be caught in a downpour. Maybe when the hero leans down for that romantic kiss, she could sneeze. I'm going to work on it, because a little humor goes a long way.

Secondly, in order to be a good writer, you must read. Read every genre. Read non-fiction as well as fiction. Every year there are new words (slang) added to our vocabulary, and have you noticed that companys are changing their names to initials? Treasure Island Casino in Las Vegas is now called, "T" Other casinos are following suit. As a writer you want to keep up with the times, but be careful that you don't date your manuscript.

I went to the Desert Hearts Reading Group this afternoon. The leader, Linda Cutler-Smith, chooses the romance books we will read and discuss, also giving us an alternate in case we don't care to read a specific genre. What a great group. We meet in Las Vegas at the Sahara West Library and beside discussing books, we feast on the wonderful treats Linda brings.

Next, I am leading a Memoir group. What fun it is to hear all of the family stories and helping the writers put their thoughts into words. I am blessed to have such good friends.

Last, please go to Snowy Creek  Books and read the wonderful reviews I've received on, "Unexpected Gifts." I am so pleased with the input my readers give me. The book is on their catalog page and on Amazon. 


Friday, February 17, 2012

Drama in a Small Town: Memoirs

Drama in a Small Town: Memoirs: I have started a class on writing MEMIORS. The interesting thing about my research is that the information can be used for Creative Writing ...


I have started a class on writing MEMIORS. The interesting thing about my research is that the information can be used for Creative Writing as well as Memiors.
Does this sound familiar?
Create an outline.
Do a character interview.
Incorporate the five senses.
Keep a timeline.
Show conflicts and tension.
Reveal the inner struggles.
Relate how you (your character) and other family members (minor characters) have changed.
I've discovered that all writing is related. Many of my fictional characters possess traits of my family or my friends. The events I write about in fiction can be plucked from the pages or any newspaper. Sometimes fact is stranger than fiction. Keep writing. Joyce 


Monday, January 9, 2012



It's a great feeling when someone reads your novel and gives you a good feedback. One of the best is: "I couldn't put it down." Every writer needs a little TLC after working months to create a new novel. Now "Driftwood Springs," is cited to become the location of a series. I look forward to adding texture to the small community and it's residents. Look for,"Christmas at Driftwood Springs," in the future. Meanwhile, "Olivia," the first of The Women of Rexford, should come out later this month. I've already written the second and third of that series. I hope you come to know Olivia, Victoria and Jade in the following months, and maybe I'll add Kristen's and Robyn's story. Keep writing and keep reading. Joyce Brennan

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Drama in a Small Town: UNEXPECTED GIFTS

Drama in a Small Town: UNEXPECTED GIFTS: Now that the holidays are over, we can all relate to unexpected gifts. You know, the one, the surprise you didn't anticipate or the visitor ...


Now that the holidays are over, we can all relate to unexpected gifts. You know, the one, the surprise you didn't anticipate or the visitor you haven't seen or heard from in a long time. In my latest book, "Unexpected Gifts," Elizabeth's life is full of surprises, but the one gift she really wants doesn't seem to be within her reach. Follow her adventure in Driftwood Springs, a bedroom community near a ski resort and join her in all of her new ventures. You can download the first two chapters by going to:
 Happy New Year to everyone. Joyce Brennan