Today is the release of Blank, a shieldmaiden’s voice by S.R. Karfelt. I had the pleasure of beta reading this prequel to WOA and S.R. Karfelt does not disappoint.

Some people have a hard time fitting into the world.

dog_tagsAll of her life Carole Blank has been a little faster, a little stronger, and a little uncooperative. The voices in her head want her to follow their rules, and although they’re usually right, Carole doesn’t always listen.

As a Marine, Carole’s unnatural abilities and penchant for fighting are useful. Unfortunately, her inability to follow orders over the demands of the voices gets her into trouble.

Enter Lieutenant Colonel Ted White, a man she is inexplicably drawn to. A man who sentences her to the life of an assassin, while denying her the only thing she’s ever wanted—him.

Follow the journey of a woman born in the wrong world, as she fights for a place to belong and sacrifices everything for those she loves.

BLANK is a prequel and Book Two in the Warrior of the Ages series.

Rarely do you find a story that takes you so deep into a character’s psyche and setting. You will taste the coconuts, feel the grit of sand, flinch at the insult and injury, and beg her to heed the voices. You are going to fall in love with this beautifully written story and heart breaking protagonist.

See my interview with S. R. Karfelt on


Get Your Copy TODAY! I know I am. Click yes!

Blank cover


Let My People Go


columnsDesert heat broiled the air between the Pharaoh and the stuttering man at the bottom of the polished palace steps. Familiar eyes buried in creased skin and crass beard flashed recognition of the ruler’s inner conflict.

“Let my people go!” His voice was strong. No stuttered phrase, powerful audacious words poured from the intruder.

“Brother,” the Pharaoh stepped toward the man who was once his childhood playmate, sure he could be swayed to reason.  But the quartz in his dark eyes and the shift in his squared shoulders spoke otherwise.

The Pharaoh pressed his forehead to the cool stone of the massive column that supported the vaulted ceiling.  Smoothed with exacting precision and carved with intricate detail, the colossal column had stood for generations, unyielding, unwavering, and indestructible. The very traits of a good Pharaoh, it represented strength and endurance. Its carvings carried the story of his people, the soul of the Egyptians.

What story will I pass down?  Will it be one of power or one of defeat?

He ran his palm along the smooth pepper-flecked red stone of the column, calling through the ages to his ancestors to speak to him through the stately and graceful curve of the Palmimmovable monolith. He dug his fingertips into the trenches of carvings of the gods of his people.  He ran pensive eyes up to the palm that splayed to support the beam of his mighty palace. This behemoth pillar stood firm, the representation of his heritage, endurance.  His mind became as unbending as the granite beneath his fingers.

He snapped black eyes to the insolent man in front of him and spat. “I WILL NOT, let your people go.”


Can you see the column at the Pharaoh’s finger tips? Did you visualize it as the description poured out?  Did you feel you were standing there stroking the stone with the Pharaoh?

I did.

No, I really did.  I have a confession to make.  I robbed the British Museum in London, England. I walked right in and sauntered right out with invaluable artifacts. Before you call MI-6, let me explain.

The Heist

It was late. The museum was about to close. I had scurried around corners, up endless stairs, trailing behind five nimble teens, who were determined to see The Rosetta Stone, Egypt, Japan, and the Greek marbles before we had to leave. We snapped shots of mummies  and Samurai swords in a blur of activity, then we walked into a room and paused between two enormous stone columns. I looked down at the plaque, gaped in shock then reached out.  I touched the column that Moses stood before as he uttered the famous words. “Let my people go.”  It was a defining moment. The experience ran through the tips of my fingers and planted itself deeply in my soul. I stole away with the magical moment and I am undoubtedly richer because of it.

Experience is the ink with which the writer bleeds onto the page.

Without touching, tasting, feeling, smelling, living in the moment, we have trouble with description. We have to experience things, in order to fill our imaginations with fuel to write.



The Exodus

How do we capture, then release these experiences into our writing?


Drop the moment into your long term memory when it happens and rehearse it.

A different process for everyone, some use notebooks to scribble details down as they experience them. Some take pictures. I actively observe and purposely give myself phrases to remember.

Stonehenge LaDonna Cole

LaDonna Cole

Fetid stench

the lichen encrusted stones

Swirling iridescent colors

intense longing from a place of depth, l I thought I was being turned inside out


Recalling the specifics when you get to a desk or computer can be strenuous. We are tempted to just write past the experience and move on with the story.  But if we will just pause, pull up the experience in our memories and ruminate on it a moment, we will begin to remember particulars. Detail is what differentiates a good piece from an excellent piece.


             Pull up





Give your character permission to access the memory and play with it. Have the Pharaoh sink his fingertips into the column. Let your secret spy experience free fall through her own personality. Let the spittle and fetid breath of the gorilla blow back the hair of your protagonist. Give them permission to access your experiences. Let them be free to respond to the input in their own voice. What might have been exhilarating for you may be exhausting to your character.  Let her go, let him experience it through her/his own personality.

British Museum

British Museum

Let your people go!


LaDonna Cole in front of lichen encrusted stones of Stonehenge.

LaDonna Cole in front of lichen encrusted stones of Stonehenge.


See full article from Obey the Muse dot com.

Peacocks and Prose

Have you ever had the feeling someone was watching you? You know that weird sensation that creeps up the back of your neck and makes you turn your head to search out the culprit? That happened to me one day while I was at my desk.
My spine tingled and I slowly turned my head to the window beside me to see two beady eyes staring at me, 15 inches from my face. Those eyes were attached to a peacock.

A peacock!baak

He turned and strutted forward through the alley and was followed by a train of peacocks and peahens. I stepped outside and watched them strut through the neighborhood around the corner and over the back berm in a colorful parade. Occasionally, they would return and meander along the same path. Such pride and confidence exuded from them, I felt like a commoner along the procession route of a royal caravan, gawking at the splendor of true beauty.

Well written prose often leaves me feeling the same way– in awe of the author as they strut across the page in phrases as colorful as a peacock’s quill and words so flowery and exquisite that tears sprinkle. But how do we, as novelists, get out of the way and let the story shine through without our pride parading through the pages like proud peacocks? A difficult task, but if we can master the art of prosaic storytelling, then we might actually have a reason to strut.

Here are some tips to fill out our tail feathers and help us become the “Cock of the Walk” in prose.


Quill 1: BE CLEAR

The best prose is constructed in a way that is easy to follow. The meaning is clear and the words don’t distract from the message. Roz Morris says it this way. “Good prose doesn’t try to put up barriers. It might make interesting word choices and deploy an image stylishly, but it wants to be understood – deeply and completely.”

Murky example: Washing her mane, the rain barrel water became clouded spilling it over onto the pernicious puddles of printed mud and squishing between his appendages.

Say what? Who washed whose hair where and why do we care about mud squishing? The murky example has unmatched phrases and modifiers. We get the idea of the picture the writer was trying to create, but since it is so poorly constructed and the word choices are sketchy, it leaves us confused and frustrated.

Pristine example: Jose scooped a bucket of water from the rain barrel and poured it over Lisa’s head. Rivulets cascaded down her shapely back, dripping into the cloudy water and splashing over the edges of the wooden slats to the muddy red dirt…

All of the phrases have proper modifiers and it is clear to the reader who is doing what and where. It makes us curious and leads us forward into the story. We don’t get tripped up by the word choices and we know this is about two people in a specific place and time, doing a specific action. Even better, we want to know more about Jose and Lisa’s relationship. The writer led us down a path, stimulated our curiosity and encouraged us to turn the corner to see what comes next.

Clarity in writing is our first quill.



Even the most experienced writers have a tendency to show off their hours of research. Unless you are writing a term paper for a college professor or a professional journal, we really don’t want to see facts spilled out on the page. It becomes preachy and disrupts the flow of the story. I know you put in hours and hours of research for a single sentence sometimes, but it’s better if we aren’t made aware of it. Don’t make your reader think, “Ooooh, this guy is a great researcher.” Keep the reader engrossed in the story.

Preachy example: Kim earned her nursing degree, that took her two years at a fully accredited school before she could take her NCLEX test for state licensure, so she knew exactly what symptoms of the diagnostic code for Undifferentiated Schizophrenia were present in her step-father.

Really? Is that what you want us to take out of this story?

Engrossing example:

“Aliens?” Kim clarified.
“Yes, they’re running through the back door with pink umbrellas!” Her stepfather’s eyes bulged and he pointed with one hand and protected his face with the other.
Kim whirled around, there was nothing coming through the back door. She slowly turned back to face her stepfather and chills crawled up her spine. He was hallucinating!  Years of nursing school lectures kicked in and she was overwhelmed with a sense of dread. Dad was schizophrenic!

Details add flavor to the story, but too many unnecessary facts will lull your readers to sleep or give them unexplainable urges to fling your book across the room.



Words have not only rhyme, but rhythm. Listen to the pace your words are setting. Are you creating an intense scene? Your pacing should be quick and the rhythm choppy. Do you want to pull the reader into a melancholy mood? Long pensive sentences that evoke emotion are needed.

Tosca Lee is genius in this excerpt from Havah. Take note of the rhythm and movement of the words and how they evoke a certain feeling.

“A bird trilled. Near my ear: the percussive buzz of an insect. Overhead, tree boughs stirred in the warming air. I lay on a soft bed of herbs and grass that tickled my cheek, my shoulders, and the arch of my foot, whispering sibilant secrets up to the trees. From here I felt the thrum of the sap in the stem—the pulsing veins of the vine, the beat of my heart in harmony with hundreds more around me, the movement of the earth a thousand miles beneath. I sighed as one returning to sleep, to retreat to the place I had been before, the realm of silence and bliss—wherever that is.”
Lee, Tosca (2010-07-16). Havah (p. 3). B&H Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Could you sense the pulse of the words? She has used the feel and cadence of words to create an ethereal sensation of birth into a new world.

Now, in contrast read this example. Try to spot the mood that the author, Heather Burch creates in Halflings.

“Exhaustion squeezed each muscle, depriving them of strength. Likewise, it pushed at her consciousness, promising failure. When she thought her lungs might literally burst, a momentary, blinding flash of light sparked above her, as if the universe were snapping a picture of her dilemma. Within seconds of the spark of light, a sound descended.”
Burch, Heather (2012-01-31). Halflings (Kindle Locations 47-50). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

Quick paced, choppy consonants, we are running along with the character.

Now read this excerpt and see if you can spot the problems with rhythm.

“I needed to keep running away! Trying to escape from the weapon wielding intruder was difficult at best, heaviness settled around me drifting down on the backs of wafting snowflakes, tiredness overcame my senses and weary muscles strained to carry my body away from the murderous assailant. How had this happened? My imagination surged trying to make some semblance of reason as I continued forward in my hasty and unsighted escape to freedom’s beckoning voice.”

In this paragraph we understand the character is running away from a murderer, but we don’t get any urgency from the sentence structure and word choices. There is almost a sauntering feeling to the words.

Compare to this account:
“Run! Move those feet! The murderer lunged closer, his knife scraped my leg. I leaped away and tore through the snow covered parking lot. Tired, exhausted, I forced my legs to move. The murderer chased. Why me? Why did he choose to come after me? I dashed into the ally, bounded over a fallen trash bin, and streaked toward freedom.”

We are carried away with the character, immediately immersed in her panicked retreat. Instead of gathering facts, we feel the urgency.

Listen to the rhythm of your words and use them to create emotion, atmosphere, and moods in your prose.

Keep these three quills safely tucked into your collection of ideas and knowledge. When the time is right, pull them out, dip them into the ink well of your muse and write better prose. Before long we will have a train of Prosaic Peacocks to strut around the publishing world.

What Quills can you share with us to help improve our prose?

Images from Word clip art.

The Muse in My Closet

There is a little fairy that lives behind the curtain next to my desk.  Tucked in the darkness of the space-saving-organizer-unit, she hibernates unseen most of the time.  I call her Gladys.  She is timid and happy to stay sequestered away most days.  It is difficult to do my job without her and often I have to coax her out of the closet with chocolate.

I am a writer and Gladys is my muse.Muse

Wouldn’t it be awesome if we could call on our muse to come out and sit on our shoulders while we write?  Then tuck her away in a closet until the next time we crack our knuckles to type in our novels.  The muse in me is a persnickety little creature who shows up in the weirdest moments; when I am in the tub, or sound asleep, or driving, those times when finding a keyboard to type on are nearly impossible.  This causes a big problem.  When I need to write, the muse is often absent.

How do we encourage our creativity to appear when we need it?  Here are a few simple steps to coax Gladys out of the closet.

Feed Gladys

Just like any other fairy, Gladys needs nourishment.  She doesn’t eat peanut butter sandwiches (contrary to popular opinion). She needs inspiration. Three particular morsels will nourish Gladys above all others.

     Nature: The beauty of creation, vast and powerful, will give my inner muse weeks and weeks of creativity.

Hammock view
The ACTUAL view
from my hammock!

It doesn’t have to be the Grand Canyon or the white sands of the Bahamas, just the view from my hammock is enough to purge the dull and help my inspiration soar to new heights.

Plus it’s free! Even better!

Find a cozy corner of nature near your neck of the woods and invite your Gladys to come out to play.


     Art: Creativity begets creativity.

Another way to encourage inspiration is to indulge in various art forms.    I love to listen to or play music, engage in the dramatic arts, (opera, plays, the symphony, rock out at a Red concert, or simply play the Civil Wars on my MP3.)  I douse myself in beautiful paintings, colors, photographs. One live Celtic Woman concert gave me inspiration to continue a 5 book series.

Potter piano
Art passed down through my family.

There are so many ways to indulge in artistic expression, find your favorites and fill your down time with artistic activities that will feed the machination.

     Books:   There is nothing better for enhancing your writing, than reading those who do it well.

Every writer has his own way of putting words together.  Read them, chew on them, read them again, study them, take them in.  I read my favorites up to 5 times.

  • the first read through is quick, just for the story
  • the next time I try to get inside the author’s head (plots, world building)
  • then I will read to absorb the voice and points of view
  • again for the flow, the pacing, the vocabulary.

Each repeat brings new revelation.  If you want to be a writer, study successful writers.  Feed your muse with jobs done well, teach her how you want to write.

Discipline Gladys

Oh that minxy little muse will lure you into all kinds of resistance!  She must be controlled.  My worst distraction is when she decides I need to sketch out my characters, or scenes.  I am a terrible drawer…zero skill…but Gladys insists on making me draw, paint, decorate, rearrange, sign up to direct the church play, spend hours at the piano or guitar or ukulele.  All fine and dandy, but I should be writing!  Not playing around with Gladys!  She is a mischievous fairy and lures me away to la la land every chance she can.  So, I must set boundaries for how much time I will allow Gladys to monopolize.


“Lalala…doesn’t your pretty blue guitar need new strings? Let’s string her!”

“Oh, yeah, I guess I need to… GLADYS!”

“Hey, look!  We could paint a butterfly on that board and it would make the Scriptorium so pretty!”

All things
Gladys actually got me on this one!

“oooOOOooo, yeah!  I have just the shade of blue in my paint box!  What? NO! I need to write, Gladys!”





*Gladys will take me for long journeys down distraction lane, if I don’t rein her in and make her behave.

Daily talks with Gladys

It’s fun to think of my creative side as a playful fairy, but the truth is I do recognize a higher power at work in me at times.  A separate and other author of creativity. Without him there is nothing fresh or creative in the entire world.  One writer said it like this.  “If He would decide to hold his breath, all flesh would perish and man would return to dust.”  Without his breath, (the word inspiration actually means ~to breathe in) creativity ceases to exist.

Creation of Man Michelangelo
Public Domain

So have daily talks with your true inspiration, your higher power, develop regular spiritual interaction with your muse.  As He breathes creativity into you, your words will become inspirational and significant.

Each writer has rituals that work best to release creativity into artistic words.  Ask your fellow artisans what they do to keep creativity high, then try it.  The muse demands attention, I can’t wait to see what she inspires you to do.

Now, I am off to find Gladys…where did I put that chocolate?

Please share the one method that works best for you for keeping your creativity fresh.

I am LaDonna Cole and I am a Blue Monkey, Writer, Nurse, Therapist, Mom, and Ukulele singer extraordinaire!  I write fiction/fantasy including Heartwork Village Stories, The Blood Singer, The Sisterhood of the Sword Saga, and many other yet-to-be-seen-by-the-human-eye works. Check out me and my imaginary peeps at,, and

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Emotive Writing: One More Time with Feeling!

Emotive Writing: One More Time with Feeling!.

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