Spring Is Not Available in Your Area — But It’s Happening Somewhere!

Credit: Jon Burch

Spring isn’t available in Alberta. We’ll have to try later.

Most of April has felt like early March. It’s April 23rd, and once again we wake up to several inches of snow on the ground and a wind chill of -6ºC (21ºF).

April 23, 2017, in Central Alberta. This is a colour photo.

While Spring plays hooky and I swim in stress during the last week of taxes, I’ll share some warm, relaxing thoughts:

Hanging Loose in Hawaii

“Hang loose. You’re in Hawaii.” When it took three full days to unwind from the frenetic pace of the mainland world, it became apparent that Hawaiians knew something the rest of us had forgotten: how to relax. Read the rest of my travel article here.

On the way home as our plane ascended at midnight on New Year’s Eve, Honolulu shone in the distance, its fireworks blooming overhead, bringing in a New Year.

At the International Marketplace in Waikiki. (Photo my own.)

Hanging Upside Down in the Dominican

My son doing a flip on the beach.

Spring Has Loaded in Ontario

Spring in Ontario. Photos by Martina Blaskovic.

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Special Feature: Taxing Tax Time — Part 1 | #AtoZChallenge

What Doesn’t Kill You … Burns You Out

In Honour of Tax Season

A is appointments and also for allergies
B is for being behind
C is for catch-up on A to Z blogs
D is delirious of mind

E is Ensemble prep
F is full tilt
G is good gracious me
How can I quit?
I is for inquiries
Jamming the phone
K is for killing me
Leave me alone!

M is for Michael who’s leaving for Calgary
N is for no one at home
O is obsessive and chronically tired
P is for pain and perform

Q is work quicker
R is for rum
S is for shit
The damn taxes aren’t done

U – I am coming unravelled this moment
Very eventful today
Writers in Conference with workshops and info
XOXO – it’s okay

Yolo – you only live once
Zap taxes and let’s end these months!


All the posts of the Official A to Z Blog Challenge theme: Components of Literature

WFSC 2017 Writers Conference (8th)

Taxing Tax Time — Part 2 (coming April 30 — A to Z Finale)

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S is for Synecdoche | #AtoZChallenge


A figure of speech in which the part is made to represent the whole, or vice-versa.

Synecdoche is a subclass of metonymy where a whole represents a part (“Edmonton” represents the Oilers hockey team), a part represents a whole (“wheels” represent a car), or the material used to make an object represents the whole object (“plastic” represents a credit card).

With metonymy, the part that is used to represent the whole is not part of the whole.

(Source: Journal #6 Topic: Metonymy vs. Synecdoche, TeacherWeb.com PDF)

The word synecdoche comes from Greek syn- (“together”) and ekdochē (“interpretation”). Read more on its use in poetry and Shakespeare here (Merriam-Webster), with some excellent examples here (SoftSchools).

GIF from giphy.com

Examples of synecdoche

  • Edmonton won in overtime. (“Edmonton” represents Edmonton’s hockey team, the Oilers.)
  • Like my new wheels? (“Wheels” are a part of a car used to represent the whole car.)
  • Lend me a hand. (Means “Help me out,” where a hand is a part of the person.)
  • She is the breadwinner. (Means main income earner, where “bread” represents food in general or money.)
  • Teaching is my bread and butter.
  • I paid with plastic. (Paid with a credit card, which is made of plastic.)
  • Ten sail left yesterday. (Refers to ten ships. Sails are parts of the ships.)
  • The farmer has 200 head. (“Head” represents the whole cattle.)

Examples of metonymy

One thing (an object or place) is used to represent a larger, more abstract concept.

  • “Crown” is used to represent a king or queen. (A crown and a person are not parts of each other.)
  • The “press” often refers to journalists (who used printing presses in the past), not the press (machine) itself.

(Sources: Glossary of Fiction Writing Terms, scribendi.com and Journal #6 Topic: Metonymy vs. Synecdoche, TeacherWeb.com PDF)

Other sources and references

Merriam-Webster Dictionary
Wikipedia: Synecdoche

All the posts: Components of Literature A to Z

See also: M is for Motifs and More (Metonymy, Mood, Music)

T is for Tales (April 24)

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R is for Round Robin & Red Herring, Reversal & Recognition | #AtoZChallenge

Round-robin story

Round robin is a type of storytelling that involves a number of authors each writing a chapter or part of the novel in rounds.

These novels were invented in the 19th century, and later were often used in science-fiction. Today, the term can apply to collaborative fan fiction, especially on the Internet. The term round robin can also refer to friends and family telling stories over a campfire, or a question and answer session in schools and meetings.

(Source: Literary Terms Glossary, By Wikipedia, TranslationDirectory.com.)

Photo from Dreamstime.com

Red herring

In fiction

Red herring is an idiomatic expression referring to the rhetorical or literary tactic of diverting attention away from an item of significance.”

In a mystery story, an innocent party may purposefully be cast in a guilty light using deceptive clues, allowing the true guilty party to remain undetected for some time. A false protagonist is another example of a red herring.

In real life

There is no such fish as a red herring. However a kipper, meaning a fish (usually herring), that is cured in brine and/or heavily smoked turns reddish from the strong brine and has a pungent smell. This term dates back to the Middle Ages.

(Source: Literary Terms Glossary, By Wikipedia, TranslationDirectory.com.)


Reversal: “Any turnabout in the fortunes of a character,” usually the protagonist.

(Source: Components of Literature, faculty.weber.edu.)

“The point at which the action of the plot turns in an unexpected direction for the protagonist. Oedipus’s and Othello’s recognitions are also reversals. They learn what they did not expect to learn. See Recognition and also Irony.”

(Source: Literary Terms Glossary, By Wikipedia, TranslationDirectory.com.)

“‘Reversal‘ (peripeteia): occurs when a situation seems to [be] developing in one direction, then suddenly ‘reverses’ to another. For example, when Oedipus first hears of the death of Polybus (his supposed father), the news at first seems good, but then is revealed to be disastrous.”

(Source: Aristotle & The Elements of Tragedy, English 250, ohio.edu.)


Recognition is the point at which a character understands his situation for what it is.

“Sophocles’ Oedipus comes to this point near the end of Oedipus the King; Othello comes to a similar understanding of his situation in Act V of Othello.

(Source: Glossary of Fiction Terms, Online Learning Centre, highered.mheducation.com.)

“‘Recognition‘ (anagnorisis or ‘knowing again’ or ‘knowing back’ or ‘knowing throughout’): a change from ignorance to awareness of a bond of love or hate. For example, Oedipus kills his father in ignorance and then learns of his true relationship to the King of Thebes.

“Recognition scenes in tragedy are of some horrible event or secret, while those in comedy usually reunite long-lost relatives or friends. A plot with tragic reversals and recognitions best arouses pity and fear.”

(Source: Aristotle & The Elements of Tragedy, English 250, ohio.edu.)

Reversal and recognition are elements of plot.

Fish GIF is from giphy.com.

All the posts: Components of Literature A to Z

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Q is for Quest | #AtoZChallenge

A quest is a heroic journey–often a dangerous mission–undertaken by a protagonist in order to achieve a goal or complete an important task.

The term comes from the medieval Latin questa, meaning “search” or “journey.”

Frodo: Lord of the Rings. GIF by giphy.com.

Quests are the foremost element of the epic. They were popular in medieval stories (e.g., King Arthur’s knights and the quest for the Holy Grail), folklore, and Greek and Roman mythology. Quests have been popular since the earliest English literature and continue to play an important role in fiction today. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien is a quest.

(Source: Quest, Literary Terms, literaryterms.net.)

CALYPSO — John Denver

All the posts: Components of Literature A to Z

See also: M is for Motifs (Journey Motif, Hero’s Journey)

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Indirect Discourse in Third-Person Limited POV

What is indirect discourse?

Indirect discourse is “a combination of a character’s thoughts and the author’s words. In the case of indirect discourse, you don’t need italics.”

The above words were written in an e-mail to me by Mark Spencer, Dean of the School of Arts and Humanities at the University of Arkansas at Monticello. Professor Spencer teaches in UAM’s MFA program in creative writing. His fiction and non-fiction works have received numerous awards.

Indirect discourse is third-person POV, but more intimate

I briefly defined the types of POV (points of view) in my earlier article N is for Narrator.

Indirect discourse is a form of third-person limited narration that moves in and out of a character’s mind.

It has the advantage of bringing the reader into the character’s (protagonist’s) head without the use of first-person POV. This technique provides information about what the protagonist thinks or knows even when he doesn’t formulate it into direct speech or thought (direct discourse).

How to tell the difference between indirect discourse and direct thought

In other words, how do you know when to italicize text and when not?

Direct discourse is when the character’s words or thoughts are reproduced exactly. Speech (dialogue) typically appears in quotations. If the protagonist thinks something directly without saying it aloud, the thought is indicated by italics. In this case, the character will use “I” and not “he/she.” The thought often appears in present tense even when the story is written in past tense.

In a third-person POV story, if the protagonist’s thoughts are conveyed indirectly (using “he/she” instead of “I”), then this is indirect discourse (the author’s words), which is not italicized.

Note: Italics are disruptive to readers and should be used sparingly. If you find you are italicizing too many direct thoughts, perhaps the story should be narrated in first-person POV, where the italics are not needed.

Example 1

Indirect discourse in third-person POV: What would his father think?

Character’s direct thought in a third-person narrative: What would my father think?

Example 2

Direct thought embedded in third-person narrative:

Bret stared at his shaven reflection. This is a bad idea. You know that. Pulling the hinged mirror to one side, he rummaged around in the cabinet for the aftershave.

Notice how the third-person narrative uses “Bret” and “he,” whereas the thoughts in italics are the protagonist talking to himself, to his reflection; thus, he uses “you.” There is also a verb tense switch. The story is written in past tense, but the protag talks to himself in the moment, in present tense.

Example 3

Dialogue between two characters. Indirect discourse is used for character two (the protagonist):

Char. 1 “Then why are you reading medical books?”

Char. 2 “‘Cause they’re here.” Why did he read Scott’s law books? Why did people ask these questions?

Notice how you can feel the protagonist’s irritation and how the indirect discourse conveys “attitude.”

Example 4

She didn’t know him. Couldn’t know him. Because if she did . . . (Indirect discourse, third-person narrative.)

She doesn’t know me. Can’t know me. Because if she did . . . (Direct thought. Notice the use of italics, the verb tense change from past to present, and the use of “me” instead of “him.”)

Example 5

Why would his parents be yelling? (Indirect discourse, third-person POV.)

Why are my parents yelling?  OR  “Why are they yelling?” (Direct thought, first-person POV within a third-person narrative. Notice the verb tense change, and the switch from “his” to “my,” and the use of italics.)

Example 6

In each of the three cases below, sentence one of the pair is normal third-person narrative. Sentence two is indirect discourse.

The first sentence is an action (described objectively by the author in third-person format). The second sentence takes on the characteristics and attitudes of the protagonist by way of indirect discourse.

  • He sat up abruptly. Had he lost his mind?
  • Bret flicked the switch on the amp and laid the guitar on the bed. Just let them evict him.
  • Bret chewed his lip. Was he ready to get caught up in this?

See also

P is for Pathos and Deep POV

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P is for Pathos and Deep POV | #AtoZChallenge


Pathos stirs up emotions of pity, sympathy, and sorrow that can be expressed in a work through words, pictures, or body gestures. (Source: Pathos, Literary Devices, literarydevices.net.)

Pathos “is an appeal to emotion, and is a way of convincing an audience of an argument by creating an emotional response.”

Ethos “is an appeal to ethics, and it is a means of convincing someone of the character or credibility of the persuader.”

Logos “is an appeal to logic, and is a way of persuading an audience by reason.”

(Source: Examples of Ethos, Logos, and Pathos, Your Dictionary, examples.yourdictionary.com)

View these examples of each.

Examples of pathos in literature

GIF by giphy.com

Function of Pathos

Humans are emotional beings, and emotions are part of real life. When writers touch upon emotions of pity, sympathy, and sorrow, they develop a connection with readers. Pathos expression helps writers bring their narratives, characters, and themes closer to real life, thus closer to readers. (Source: Pathos, Literary Devices, literarydevices.net.)

Pathos and POV are linked in that the job of narrators and characters is to stir up emotion and build sympathy.

Deep POV

POV in writers’ lingo stands for point of view. Read more here.

Kristen Lamb defines “Deep POV” as

Deep POV is simply a technique that strips the author voice completely out of the prose. There is no author intrusion so we are left only with the characters. The reader is nice and snuggly in the “head” of the character.

In her article, Kristen Lamb instructs writers to “ditch the tags” (he said)–instead, just write the action–and lose thought and sense words (felt, knew, saw, thought). For example,

She thought, He is going to kill me.

We don’t need “She thought”:

He is going to kill me.

The thought is written in italics if you’re not writing in first person. The fact that “she thought” it is obvious. Leaving out such words tightens writing, prevents author intrusion, and makes the reader feel closer to the story, even inside it.

For more background, please read Kristen Lamb’s article DEEP POV–What is It? Why Do Readers LOVE It?. She discusses trends in writing and how they have changed, defines Deep POV, and provides useful examples. Kristen is an author, freelance editor, and speaker. She has years of sales and promotion experience.

All the posts: Components of Literature A to Z

Q is for Quest

See also Indirect Discourse in Third-Person POV

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O is for Oppression | #AtoZChallenge

Oppression is the “prolonged cruel or unjust treatment or control.”

It can be a physical “state of being subject to unjust treatment and control” or “mental pressure or distress” (Google dictionary, Oxford dictionary).

Often when we think of oppression and oppressed people, we think of political, religious, racial, gender, or sexual orientation injustices.

Yet oppression can be far more subtle, ignoring gender and colour and country. Life and literature tell stories of persons oppressed by society’s values, children oppressed by parental expectations, and souls oppressed by memories.


  • Beyond the Precipice (the novel, in which oppression by society’s values, parental expectations, and unresolved grief and guilt are explored.)

All the posts: Components of Literature A to Z

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N is for Narrator | #AtoZChallenge


The speaker or voice who is telling the story.

Narrator and narrative (a collection of events that are linked together in a particular order to tell a story) lead into point of view and types of fiction.

Point of View (POV)

The angle of vision from which the story is narrated” (Glossary of Fiction Terms, Online Learning Center, highered.mheducation.com).

First person

  • Written from the perspective of “I” (first-person singular) or “we” (first-person plural).
  • The narrator is either an observer or a character in the story.

Second person

  • Written from the perspective of “you.” You become the main character.
  • Often used in advertising but also in fiction.

Third-person limited

  • Written from the perspective of “he” or “she.”
  • The perspective is limited to the thoughts, knowledge, and perceptions of only one person.
  • The narrator is outside the character but looking over the shoulder, into the mind, or through the eyes of the single character to tell the story, while also having the ability to pull back and offer a wider perspective.

See also Indirect Discourse in Third-Person POV.

Third-person omniscient

  • Written from the perspective of “he” or “she.”
  • The narrator has the God-like ability to go into any character’s head and to travel to any time, place, or setting that other characters cannot see or do not have information about.
  • The narrator is a sort of disembodied character with his own voice, personality, and style, distinct from the characters in the story.


The Basics of Point of View for Fiction Writers, Joseph Bates, janefriedman.com

This is an excellent post with detailed descriptions, examples, and especially pros and cons of each type of POV.

The 4 Types of Point of View, Joe Bunting, thewritepractice.com

How to Write From Third Person Limited Point of View, Ginny Wiehardt, thebalance.com

Glossary of Literary Terms, buzzle.com

Novel, Novella, Novelette, and Nom de Plume

Further to the narrative and the narrator’s POV, we have the novel, novella, and novelette. Sometimes the author has a nom de plume, which is a pen name–not the author’s real name.

As a rule of thumb, word counts look like this:


40,000 words or more according to the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (Wikipedia), although some sites say 50,000. National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) requires novels to be at least 50,000 words. Adult novels typically run in the range of 80,000-120,000 words.

  • Adult commercial and literary novel: 80,000 to 100,000 words is considered safest.
  • Science fiction and fantasy: Because of world-building, these novels run higher. Up to 115,000 words is considered good.
  • Thrillers: can also be well over 100,000.

Due to budget constraints faced by publishers, it is safest to stay within the 90,000 to 100,000-word range, especially with a first novel.


  • 17,500 to 39,999 (some sites say 20,000-50,000, a popular length for e-publishing).


  • 7,500 to 17,499 words.

IRONCLAD is a novelette. (Supernatural adventure, releasing in fall 2017.) 

Short Story

  • Under 7,500 words.

For information on micro-fiction, flash fiction, short-shorts, and short story lengths, view here.

Young Readers

  • Young adult: 55,000-79,999 words.
  • Middle grade: 20,000-55,000, depending on age.
  • Children’s chapter books: start around 16,000.


Word count, Wikipedia: Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, NaNoWriMo

Word Count for Novels and Children’s Book: The Definitive Post, Chuck Sambino, Writer’s Digest

Typical Lengths of Fictional Works, Jodie Renner (author, editor, presenter), jodierennerediting.blogspot.com

All the posts: Components of Literature A to Z

Check out N is for Never on Tossing It Out

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M is for Motifs and More | #AtoZChallenge


“A theme or pattern that recurs in a work.”

I was already a writer for about a decade when I ran into the first writing help I ever received in the days of pre-Internet. My age was 12. I was in junior high. (If you do the math, that means I was a writer since my earliest memories, beginning at about age 2. I started writing out poems, songs, and stories at age 6 to 7.)

Since I cannot find the six points of the Journey Motif listed anywhere online, I suspect my teacher may have adapted the Hero’s Journey. By the time I received this nugget of gold, I realized I had already created a story that followed this motif, since in those days I crafted stories in adventure and sci-fi genres (many involving doorways to other places or a form of time travel: think Star Trek and Land of the Lost, the original series), which were never completed because I lacked adequate knowledge and experience to write what I needed.

The six points our class received for the Journey Motif

  1. Hero of mysterious birth. (This simply means no information was given on the origins and bloodline of the protagonist.)
  2. Hero goes on a journey in quest of something.
  3. Hero is made to suffer on this journey.
  4. Hero passes through a wasteland devoid of life.
  5. Hero discovers something about himself or others.
  6. Hero is reborn.

This motif came in association with the Theme of Literature

  1. Loss of identity
  2. Self-discovery
  3. Rebirth

Finally, our class also learned about the Vegetation Motif, where a story aligns with and follows the changes of the seasons and what they imply.

  • Spring: birth
  • Summer: life
  • Fall: preparation for death
  • Winter: death

These can be physical or metaphorical.

BEYOND THE PRECIPICE follows the vegetation motif, with preparation for death and death (physical and metaphorical) occurring throughout fall and into winter, Bret’s darkest day falling on winter solstice, and a promise of new beginnings synchronizing with spring. The story also follows the theme of literature.

Robert Frost’s poetry followed these motifs

  • the cycle of the seasons
  • the alternation of day and knight
  • natural phenomena
  • rural images

(Source: Motifs in Frost’s Poetry, American Literature, Robert Frost, by SlideShare.)

Hero’s Journey Motif

DRUYAN, my fantasy adventure novel coming in fall 2017, follows the journey motif and hero’s journey.

Story within a story motif

More M Monikers


A figure of speech in which a word is replaces something that is associated with it.

Example: Crown in place of a royal person.

(Source: Glossary of Fiction Writing Terms, scribendi.com)

One thing (an object or place) is used to represent a larger, more abstract concept.

Example: The “press” often refers to journalists (who used printing presses in the past), not the press (machine) itself.

Synecdoche: A subclass of metonymy where a whole represents a part (“Edmonton” represents the Oilers hockey team), a part represents a whole (“wheels” represent a car), or the material used to make an object represents the whole object (“plastic” represents a credit card).

(Source: Journal #6 Topic: Metonymy vs. Synecdoche, TeacherWeb.com PDF)


“A conscious state of mind or predominant emotion.”

(Source: Glossary of Fiction Writing Terms, scribendi.com)


The song Crossfire by Brandon Flowers has a recurring motif of a heroine rescuing Flowers from ninjas on three separate occasions as well as the motif of good versus evil:

And we’re caught up in the crossfire of Heaven and Hell
And we’re searchin’ for shelter.

Before I ever saw the video, I had a very different story scene in my head based on the lyrics, which carry a lot of mood and atmosphere:

Watchin’ your dress as you turn down the light
I forget all about the storm outside
Dark clouds rolled their way over town
Heartache and pain came a-pourin’ down
Like hail, sleet, and rain, yeah
They’re handin’ it out.

CROSSFIRE — Brandon Flowers

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