Month: April 2014

Review of ‘Tweeting for a Reason’

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If you’re a writer, you want people to read your work. That requires marketing – the bane of most creative types. Social media, in today’s connected age, is a great way to market your work, and of the social media platforms, the one that is most often overlooked is Twitter. If you’re new to Twitter, it seems daunting – starting with the 140 character limit on tweets.

Thanks to author Karen Barnes, though, there is now a handy tutorial – a sort of ‘Twitter for Dummies’ – that will very smoothly guide you through the process from setting up a Twitter account, to understanding things like #hashtags and @mentions, to effective Twitter strategies. Tweeting for a Reason: How (and Why) to use Twitter to Market Your Business. A useful book for anyone who wants to communicate short messages, or links to longer messages, to a massive audience – and being in e-Book format, it’s appropriate. Barnes knows her way around the Twitterverse, and is a good tour guide. My only complaint about the book, which I received free in exchange for a review, is that the opening chapter is a bit too long. Much of what is in that chapter could have been an opening paragraph of the next chapter. But, that just might be my bias from spending too much time reading truncated Internet messages – yes, and Twitter too.

Would that we could all write books that there would be only one picayune complaint about. Kudos to Banes for a wonderfully useful book.

Review of ‘Overture to Disaster’

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Overture to Disaster by Chester D. Campbell is a post-Cold War political thriller that, in light of current events in Ukraine and other parts of the former Soviet Union, reads as if it could have been taken from the headlines or the lead story on CNN. I received a free copy for review, and found myself immersed in a story that rivals the best Tom Clancy novel.

This novel has everything – rogue former KGB agents who are determined to bring the U.S. to its knees through the use of stolen nerve gas with the help of the Peruvian terrorist group, Shining Path; senior U.S. officials who put profit and position before honor; and a few daring individuals, Russian and American, who are willing to put their lives on the lines to preserve peace and order.

Campbell’s knowledge of weaponry, tactics, and bureaucratic and political doings is first-rate, and he weaves it all together with characters that, while true to life, seem larger than life. The suspense is drum-tight, and the odds are astronomical, as a wrongly cashiered Air Force special operations pilot and a dedicated Russian criminal investigator race against time to prevent what could tip the world into a catastrophic confrontation with no winners.

Don’t even think about reading this book unless you have several hours to devote to it, because once you start reading, it’ll suck you into a world of betrayal and intrigue, and not let you go until the end.

I reserve five-star reviews for only the best of books, but if I could, I’d give Overture to Disaster six. Don’t let this one pass you by.

Guest Post: Dream Up Some Publicity Ideas

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Guest Post: Dream Up Some Publicity Ideas. A few good hints on how to get the word out about your books.

Responding to reviews, and other handy points for authors in general…

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Balls Deep and crying like a baby...

Since some asshat authors who have been attacking some friends of mine for leaving less than glowing 5-star book reviews on their work, here’s this helpful list on How to Deal with Bad Reviews on Your Book:

1. Take a deep breath.

2. Read the review.

3. Exhale.

4. If there is valid criticism, take heed of it. Think about it and perhaps use it to better your style of writing.

5. If the review is a rant by an apparent lunatic (or loonie, for short), spam for another book, or an attack by a detractor, identify it as such and confine said review to where it belongs: Oblivion. Forget it exists. Insanity breeds insanity, and being a writer, you don’t need more madness than what you’ve already got between your ears.

6. If point #4 is in effect: In certain instances, when a review is touching or right…

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Net Neutrality and the Online Writer

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The FCC is currently proposing new rules regarding net neutrality. According to the FCC chair, Tom Wheeler, these new rules are designed to keep ‘the underlying goals of transparency, no blocking of lawful content, and no unreasonable discrimination among users’ originally imposed by the FCC’s net neutrality rules. The new rules, Wheeler maintains, create a roadmap for enforcing ‘rules of the road’ to protect an open Internet.

Unless you happen to be really savvy about the Internet and how it operates, a lot of the brouhaha that has erupted regarding the new rule proposal will probably be over your head. All the talk about broadband provider changes, commercially unreasonable activity, and preferential agreements between providers and their affiliates, is about as comprehensible to the average Internet user as a scroll written in an unknown language.

Because they will impact information flow and pricing, though, the proposed rules have generated a blizzard of commentary. Predictably, a lot of the opposition to them has come from small companies and startup operations who view them as hamstringing them in their efforts to compete in the content market with large entities with mega-budgets and battalions of lawyers and lobbyists.

In the storm of reaction to the proposal, though, the one segment of the content market that has not been discussed, as far as I can determine, are the content creators. The impact of the proposed rules on small bloggers and content writers like you and me, doesn’t seem to have received much notice or consideration.

The FCC commissioners are due to vote on the new rules on May 15, after which they will be open to public comment. You can bet that commercial entities, big and small, will flood the FCC, the White House, Congress, and the Internet with their comments. But, if the new rules go into effect and small content providers find themselves squeezed into the Internet’s slow lanes, those of us who create content, most of which goes to these smaller outfits, could find ourselves edged out of the market – our creations relegated to the parking slots alongside the information super highway.

It behooves us, therefore, to ensure that our voices are heard in the cacophony of argument that is sure to ensue.

The first step is to educate ourselves on the potential impacts of the proposed rules on our business. To look closely at your current content markets and blog readership, and assess as best we can how they will fare under the new regime. If they’re shunted to the leftover slow lanes of the broadband spectrum because of sweetheart deals that the FCC deems are ‘commercially reasonable’ we could find our markets drying up.

Next, make your voice heard. Contact your members of Congress and let them know that true net neutrality is important to you as a writer, a consumer, and a citizen. Contact FCC chairman Tom Wheeler, and politely inform him of the impact the new rules will have on you as a writer. You might also consider contacting the White House and reminding the President of his promise to support net neutrality.

As a final shot across the FCC’s bows, consider sharing this post and related articles on this issue with your contacts, encouraging them to let their voices be heard as well.

For further information on this issue, check the following links. They are not all-inclusive, and certainly not the final word, but they will begin your education process on an issue that could quietly sink your writing boat.,2817,2457076,00.asp


Review of ‘Short List’

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In Short List, author L.R. MacAllister takes us into the twisted mind of a serial killer. Not your usual ‘abused as a child, mind wired differently’ serial killer, but one with a specific motive, and a specific list of victims.

Richard Calder is a tormented soul who has hit bottom, and who blames others for his downfall. He plots a macabre revenge, and thus begins the saga of the Dart Man.

The story starts at a slow, almost leisurely pace for the first few chapters, and then, like a roller coaster that pauses at the top before plummeting toward the ground, it takes off at a breakneck pace that will leave you breathless.

I received a free copy of Short List for review, and I have to commend MacAllister for his twisted imagination, and his ability to suck me into his convoluted plot, and keep me reading for over 380 pages. I was a bit confused at first by the prologue, but by the end it finally became clear. I usually prefer dialogue earlier than MacAllister introduces it, because it moves the tale along faster, but in this case, the first chapters of a sort of inner monologue and description added to the dark tone of the story. My only real complaint – and this is minor in the greater scheme of things – is the switching back and forth on point of view, especially the insertion in places of a second person point of view. I understand the author’s reason for doing it – and it worked, sort of – but, I still found it a bit disconcerting.

Having said all that, I still thoroughly enjoyed Short List. Four stars to L. R. MacAllister.

The Zimbabwe Situation: What If Things Never Get Better?

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Good advice for any country, not just Zimbabwe.

Bizsetup Group

one_day_things_will_get_better“But what if the situation in Zimbabwe, doesn’t get better? What do we do?” I was asked this very recently by a certain business person.

It’s a fair question.

I have three suggestions, but first, I must admit to being

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Review of ‘Megan’s Cure’

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When 10-year-old Megan Kim disappears from her coastal Alabama school, a desperate search for her begins. In San Francisco, newspaper reporter Enzo Lee is desperate to find a cure for his grandmother’s leukemia. The lives of these two people become inextricably linked. Lee is seeking Walter Novak, a scientist who was working on an experimental drug that just might cure his grandmother. Novak is also the man who spirited Megan from her school.

In Megan’s Cure, author Robert B. Lowe takes the reader on a harrowing journey that spans the continent, and involves shadowy figures with dubious motives, all of whom have an interest in Megan Kim. Pithy dialogue and colorful narrative descriptions make this a story that is hard – no impossible – to put down until you reach the end.

I received a free copy of Megan’s Cure in exchange for my unbiased review. But, I have to confess to being biased. The Enzo Lee mysteries are for me the epitome of what a good mystery should be. Fully developed characters with whom the reader can identify, and settings that are skillfully and accurately drawn. Lowe is a master at showing how different cultures interact, and at sucking the reader into the story until you’re convinced you’re reading a fictionalized version of true events.

An easy 4-star rating for this outstanding mystery!

Review of ‘Code Blood Red’

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Scott Belgrade is a rebellious health teacher at Middlesex High School. He ended up there after being hounded out of his previous teaching job for putting students before politics. Ali ‘The Cat’ Armeni appears to be an unassuming math teacher, but in reality is a terrorist mole for an outfit that is determined to destroy Middlesex.

Jeffrey Belanger’s Code Blood Red puts these two on a collision course. Witty, fast-paced dialogue and pithy, on-the-mark narrative description mark this breathtaking thriller that will have you alternating between holding your breath in dread or gasping in horror. There is action enough for the most rabid action junkie, but at the same time, Belanger does a credible job of fleshing out the mental and emotional map of his characters.

The story could well have been taken from today’s headlines, and will leave the reader wondering about what really goes on behind the brick walls of academia. I finished a free review copy of this book in one sitting – and look forward to seeing Belanger’s next offering.

A piece of advice: if you’re prone to heart problems, you might want to avoid this book – it’s guaranteed to put a strain on your ticker.

A solid four-star book!

Review of ‘The Living Image’

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LA fashion designer Sabrina Miller wakes up in a tanning salon and comes face to face with a nude version of herself.  Not just a double, but an identical copy of herself, a clone who has been enhanced by a scientist. Thus begins a wild journey of terror as Sabrina and Eve (the name she gives her double) find themselves fleeing the US Government, the CIA, and the Japanese – all of whom want Sabrina out of the way, and Eve for themselves.

The Living Image by P. M. Richter is a thriller with a decided twist. Gritty dialogue and crisp action scenes will keep you flipping pages as you cheer Sabrina and Eve on in their headlong flight from danger. I received a free copy of The Living Image for review, and thoroughly enjoyed its blend of fear, humor, and emotion. The perfect book to curl up in front of a fire with. An easy four-star rating for Richter.

Latest Buffalo Soldier Novel Free For Kindle April 22 – 26!

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Get the latest in the Buffalo Soldier series, Battle at Dead Man’s Gulch, free for your Kindle or Kindle app, April 22 – 26.


First Sergeant Ben Carter and his detachment are dispatched to the western part of New Mexico Territory to track down a band of renegade Apache who have bolted the reservation. After days on the renegades’ trail, they’ve come up dry, until they encounter them in the mountains south of Santa Fe. After a brief skirmish, the renegades elude Ben once again. Hot on their tail, Ben and his men are faced with life and death decisions – they discover a grisly scene indicating that the Apache are not the only deadly perils awaiting them in the shadow of the mountain. 
Nor are they only ones in danger. At Dead Man’s Gulch, they come upon a small detachment of the Sixth Cavalry, a white unit stationed in Arizona Territory that has been chasing its own band of renegades, only to find itself trapped and in danger of being annihilated until the Buffalo Soldiers of the Ninth Cavalry come to their rescue.
Ride along with the Buffalo Soldiers as they face death, danger and discrimination on the western frontier.

Review of ‘The Perfect Game’

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Kyle Vine is about to make the biggest mistake of his life. A professor, he is about to secretly meet one of his students, a girl not much older than his daughter. Before he can take that fatal step that could mean the end of his teaching career, however, something happens that threatens even more – his life. The young girl, Allie Shelton, suddenly collapses. Kyle sees a strange man in the vicinity, but doesn’t immediately connect him with the incident.

The Perfect Game by Stephen Paul is a mystery with a touch of the supernatural that will keep you on the edge of your seat from the first page to the last. I received a free copy of The Perfect Game for review, and am not at all hesitant to admit that it’s one of the best mysteries I’ve read in a while. Paul skillfully combines razor-sharp dialogue with chilling narrative to keep the reader guessing as he unfolds more twists, turns, and folds than an origami sculpture.

Paul’s pacing is superb, as he dangles clues, makes you think you’re on to something, and then yanks the rug out from under your feet – only to set you back on the clue trail with a vengeance. The Perfect Game is just about that – nearly perfect. I give it four stars.

Review of ‘The Doppelganger’s Dance’

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The Doppelganger’s Dance by Libi Astaire, a free copy of which I received for review, is the second Ezra Melamed mystery I’ve read. Astaire writes in a style that was common in English cozy mysteries in the late nineteenth, a style that is very appropriate for her characters and setting – London’s Jewish community in the early 1800s.

Ezra Melamed, a wealthy Jew in London, is more than just the head of the Jewish community – he is also something of a philanthropist and amateur private detective. The main – and most interesting – character, though, in this story is the narrator Rebecca Lyon, daughter of the community clockmaker, who is at the center of every significant event.

When Rebecca’s father is asked by Melamed to go to Leeds to escort the widow Salomon back to London, Rebecca goes along, and they find themselves, as is the norm in this series, in the middle of strange and sometimes threatening events.

Astaire’s descriptions paint a picture of society as it must have been during the early 1800s, and her dialogue just sounds credible. If you’re a fan of cozies, I can strongly recommend The Doppelganger’s Dance. If you’ve not read one before, this is probably a good place to start.

Review of ‘Lucky Dogs’

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If you like mysteries, you’ll like Lucky Dogs by Jason Krumbine. If you like science fiction, you’ll like Lucky Dogs by Jason Krumbine. Lucky Dogs is both, with a healthy dollop of humor thrown in for good measure.

Alex Cheradon, a 30-year-old private detective with a strange crew of associates, is now working out of Las Vegas. When he’s asked by Peter Perkins to help when a con man scams Perkins out of a priceless family heirloom, Alex and crew have to fight not only gangsters but werewolves, et al.

Krumbine puts more fun, action, and mayhem in a short novel than you’re likely to find in longer works, and he leaves you panting for more. Great dialogue, detailed descriptions, and non-stop giddiness mark this third volume of the Alex Cheradon series. After you’ve read it, I strongly recommend you rush out and get volumes one and two, and keep an eye out for the next one in the series.

Four stars to Krumbine for Lucky Dogs.

Turning the Page: Author Spotlight – Kimber Leigh Wheaton

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shadow fire

Shadow Fire

Light Chronicles Book 1


Kimber Leigh Wheaton


YA Fantasy Romance


AmazonB&N * Kobo * Smashwords * Goodreads



Ashlyn – a free-spirited teenager whose peaceful life is shattered when the village elders honor her with a perilous quest to recover a stolen relic.


Zane – a jaded mercenary, torn by his undeniable desire for Ashlyn and the dark secret that could make her hate him forever.

Delistaire – a malevolent sorcerer driven by an insatiable lust for power.

All three are bound together by an ancient relic supposedly infused with the power of a Goddess.

Shadow Fire – adventure, passion, secrets, and betrayal

As Ashlyn and Zane race to stay one step ahead of the evil lurking in the shadows, their passions are ignited and their bond strengthens. But will they find the relic before Delistaire? Or has their entire quest been orchestrated from the very beginning by a madman in pursuit of ultimate power?

Each installment of The Light Chronicles is a standalone story.


“This book contains monsters, magic, majestic creatures, and a evil guy that wants to destroy the world. If you love hot guys…..Zane is all that plus a few tricks up his sleeve. Just read it!” Venture ~Amazon Reviewer


“Adventure, magical creatures, fun characters, and romance make this book a perfect read for all ages.” James Luby ~Amazon Reviewer


Favorite Quotes


The villagers will be awaiting my return, skulking in the shadows, desperate to catch a glimpse of the walking dead girl. ~Ashlyn


After all, love conquers nothing but fools. ~Delistaire


Perhaps you shouldn’t have chased the poor pirate all over the ship shooting light daggers at him. ~Zane


How would you like a tour of this grand vessel, my angelic beauty? I’ll show you my favorite trysting spots. ~Taranis


About the Author

Kimber Leigh Wheaton is a YA/NA author with a soft spot for sweet romance and is a member of Romance Writers of America.Author


She is married to her soul mate, has a teenage son, and shares her home with three dogs and four cats. No, she doesn’t live on a farm, she just loves animals. Her house is filled with dragons, though she does lament that they are the porcelain, non-flying variety.


Kimber Leigh is addicted to romance, videogames, superheroes, villains, and chocolate—not necessarily in that order. (If she has to choose, she’ll take a chocolate covered superhero!)


Her debut novel, Shadow Fire, is the first book in The Light Chronicles series. Watch for book two, Stolen Moon, a standalone sequel, coming soon.



Author Links:















Review of ‘Chasing Mercy’

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The summer that Mercy graduated from high school was marred when her family was killed in a tragic auto accident. Then, at their funeral, Mercy sees a mysterious figure in black that no one else can apparently see. Later, she meets her new neighbor, Kit, who does a blog about paranormal phenomena. Together they try to understand what Mercy has seen.

Chasing Mercy by Stacy Claflin is a fast-paced paranormal fantasy that keeps the reader guessing from the first page to the last. Some of the dialogue seems forces and a bit trite, but Claflin does a fairly good job of moving the action along to a surprise ending that will please lovers of the genre.

I reviewed a free advance copy of this book, the first in a planned series. Not at all bad for a first novel. I give it Three Stars.

Review of ‘Death in Sioux Lookout’

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Chris Allard is a disgraced social worker who finds himself unemployed in Toronto, so he reluctantly accepts a job in the isolated community of Sioux Lookout. Once there, he finds murder, but more importantly, a lot about himself.

Death in Sioux Lookout, by Richard Schwindt, is the first in a trilogy that was first published twenty years ago. Schwindt has a keen eye for detail and fully develops his characters and their locale. While there is probably more development of minor characters than is absolutely necessary, and the book has a few distracting typos, it is nonetheless an interesting read. He knows how to keep the reader guessing until the very end – not as satisfying unfortunately as I was led by the first half of the book to expect, but not a deal breaker.

I received a free review copy of the book, and despite the few glitches mentioned above found it a credibly written mystery. I gave it three stars, but if I could, I’d add another half star for a fairly well done tale.

Interview with Author DV Berkom

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DV Berkom is the creator of the Leine Basso and Kate Jones thriller/mystery series. Here she talks about her writing career.



  1. How did you get started writing?

I’ve written short stories since I was a kid: the earliest one I can remember was an illustrated tome on the joys of housework when I was seven (yes, I was into satire even then J). It wasn’t until 2005-6 that I tried to write a full-length novel. “Tried” is the operative word here. I finished it, thought it was great, and sent it out to publishers and agents, gathering a bunch of form rejections. Once I got over my disappointment I decided to try again. And again. I learned how much I didn’t know by writing and re-writing, attending workshops and classes, etc. The one thing that became clear to me was that I had a LOT of work to do before I could even consider submitting. I’m still learning, which is one of the many things I enjoy about being a writer.



  1. What motivates you?

Money. (LOL. Just kidding. Publishing is so not the business to be in if that’s what motivates you J) In all seriousness, my main motivation is to entertain readers. I want them to finish one of my books and immediately want to read more. I want them to feel as though they lived the story with the characters and were able to escape into another world for at least a while. That’s what I like to have happen when I read a novel. I’m always so grateful when a reader lets me know how much they enjoyed my books.



  1. What is your favorite genre, and why?

Crime and suspense. I’m fascinated by what makes people do the things they do, especially when it’s outside the norms of polite society. But I also need fast-paced action and minimal description in what I read and write, or I’ll get distracted. I LOVE to write action scenes—probably because I love to read them, and I really enjoy writing dialogue—both elements that move the story along at a good pace. That’s not to say I don’t read slower-paced books—I do—but my absolute favorite genre is suspense.



  1. Where do you get the ideas for your stories?

Everywhere! News stories are particular catalysts for my overactive imagination, as are vivid dreams, but a snippet of a conversation, or someone on the street, or an online article, are enough to get the hamsters in my brain running…For instance, Bad Spirits and the Kate Jones Thriller series came out of news reports about the escalating violence in Mexico due to the rise of the drug cartels. Yucatan Dead was in response to the homegrown militias forming there. Serial Date was the result of a vivid and seriously freaky dream I had. And Bad Traffick was inspired by a documentary on child trafficking. A One Way Ticket to Dead, the latest Kate Jones novel, has some news references, but it grew in a more organic way from what had happened in the rest of the series.



  1. What are you currently working on?

I’m currently writing the third in the Leine Basso thriller series. It’s been a while since I’ve been in Leine’s head, and it’s been interesting getting into her character again. I re-read both Serial Date and Bad Traffick to refresh my memory and to help me get back into that specific voice. It’s also a point of view shift for me, as the Kate Jones books are all first person and Leine Basso’s books are all in third. Both POVs have their challenges, and both have their strengths. I especially like to be able to tell the story from another character’s POV. There’s a little more freedom than with first person.



I’ve also been working on the audio versions of Cruising for Death and Bad Traffick. Cruising for Death has recently been made available on Amazon, Audible and iTunes, and I expect Bad Traffick to be in a couple of weeks. Serial Date and the Kate Jones Thriller Series (Vol. 1) are already available in that format. Both narrators are fantastic, and both ‘got’ the characters. I can’t really ask for more than that!



  1. Where do you see yourself in 5 – 10 years, regarding your writing?

Good question. I hope to have several more books completed, with a solid reader base for both existing series. I also expect to start another series in the near future. Beyond that, I have no idea. As long as I’m still writing and people are still reading my work, I’ll be one happy author.



  1. Anything you’d like to say to my readers about writing?

The only thing I’m certain of in this business is if you want to be a writer, or if you want to continue to be a writer, then write. That’s it. Keep writing, keep learning the craft. Learn from your mistakes, and for heaven’s sake, don’t be afraid to make them, either. One more thing: keep the faith. Because I can guarantee you will wonder at times why the heck you’re writing and possibly even consider giving up. Don’t. Take a break, come back to it when you’re ready. But Don’t. Give. Up.




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#IWSG: Engaging all a Reader’s Senses

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InsecureWritersSupportGroupIt’s another first Wednesday, which means it’s time for another Insecure Writer Support Group post. Hope this bit on engaging readers’ senses will help all you up and coming scribes out there.



If you want readers to identify with – and hopefully love – what you write, you have to engage them in the story. This of course means having characters with whom readers can identify and snappy dialogue that moves the story along. Another element of the story, though, that should not be overlooked is the setting. Giving readers a good sense of time and place puts the characters and their witty dialogue in a frame that will help with a reader’s effort to become a part of the story. Every tale takes place somewhere, and how you describe that ‘somewhere’ is important.

Setting can be described in detail – as some authors do – or sketchily. I tend to the latter. Which road you take is up to you, but if you engage all the reader’s senses, she’ll go along for the ride.


A room, a house, a town, whatever; what does it look like? Is it neat or messy? Gloomy or well-lit? You can use visual descriptions of the setting to help set the mood for your story, or even foreshadow events in the story. By letting your character(s) react to what the scene looks like, you can use it to give the reader clues to them as well.


Do the floorboards creak? What about the sound of wood settling in the cool of the evening air? The sounds of traffic or birds singing? You don’t need to go into excessive detail. A few words about the sounds in a particular setting tell the reader where they are.


This sense is often overlooked in describing settings, but used properly it can do a lot to help establish the setting in a reader’s mind. The smooth hardness of a metal door knob or the silkiness of a linen bedspread can evoke memories for some readers – or, more importantly, for your character as he or she navigates the setting.


Think back to your childhood. Remember the smell of bacon frying early in the morning, the pungent, sweet smell of the trees in a pine forest? How about the dusty smell of a closet, or the talcum that your favorite aunt sprinkled on her ample bosom?  Everything has an odor, and describing a few of the main smells of a place will help to make it unique.


You probably think this is reaching, but think again. Think about how your mother’s cooking tasted as compared to the same dish at the local greasy spoon.  How does your food taste when you’re angry or upset? I’ll wager not the same as when you’re happy. While description of taste is character-specific, when done in conjunction with a particular setting it can be extremely effective in establishing mood or motivation.

If you want to see how setting is used effectively in fiction, check out the works of some of the masters.  George Orwell in 1984, for instance, opened with “It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.”  Another excellent example of describing setting is from William Faulkner’s The Sound and The Fury, “Through the fence, between the curling flower spaces, I could see them hitting.” As a final example, here is Sinclair Lewis in Babbitt, “The towers of Zenith aspired above the morning mist; austere towers of steel and cement and limestone, sturdy as cliffs and delicate as silver rods.”