A Writer’s Pursuit…

October 12, 2008 by in category Blogs tagged as with 1 and 0
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Yesterday, I’d attended the OCC meeting for the first time since May and it was wonderful to see my friends–Live! In Person!–again. Although, I did attend the conference in San Francisco and had such a great time spending the week with them.

It’s so easy to stay isolated from friends and family when you’re going through some kind of crisis–health, financial, or family. And some times, like in my case, it would just be easier not to respond to the concerned e-mails right away. But I know everyone genuinely cares, just as I care about them, so I certainly do my best to respond. 🙂

Isn’t it wonderful to know that no matter what family health crisis your family is going through, no matter what the state of the world and the global economy… your friends will be there to support and encourage you, as well as give you a swift kick in the “writing arse” when you need it? Thank goodness.

When I joined OCC, I had NO idea I’d discover these incredible friendships.

Thank you for being there for me, you guys!

Do you belong to a writing organization? What do you enjoy most about belonging to it? The support? The friendships? The business advice?

Take Care,


Michele Cwiertny writes dark paranormal romance. To find out more about her, please visit her website, michelecwiertny.com, or her personal blog, Michele’s Writing Corner.

Of Inspiration

Have you ever strolled into a room and just been struck by the intricate details found in every corner, by the colors, by the traditions, by the history? Did the room ever become inspiration for part of your story?

This particular room inspired a couple of famous authors, Lewis Carroll and J.K. Rowling: The dining hall at Christ Church in Oxford, England.

Charles Dodgson, a.k.a. Lewis Carroll, taught mathematics at Christ Church, but entertained Dean Liddell’s daughter, Alice, and her siblings with stories about Wonderland and often drew his inspiration from his surroundings around the college. At the far end of the photo, you can see the High Table where the faculty members eat. From what we were told on our tour, the senior members of the faculty would exit the dining hall through an extremely narrow staircase behind the table, which eventually led to a senior common room then outside to the Tom Quad. It’s believed this may be the inspiration for the Rabbit Hole.

And, of course, Harry Potter fans recognize this hall as the inspiration for Hogwarts’ dining hall, too. However, the portraits here didn’t move, although I did hear a tale that one of them does… I wish I knew the full story behind that! 😉

I know lately I’ve been inspired by historic homes, abbeys, villages, and small towns…At least enough to incorporate a piece of what I remember about those places into my stories, those special details to make the tale my own, to make it pop off the page.

So what about you? What places have struck you with inspiration lately? Was it a room? A town? A college? A dining hall?

Take Care,


Michele Cwiertny writes dark paranormal romance. To find out more about her, please visit her website, michelecwiertny.com, or her personal blog, Michele’s Writing Corner.


by Michele Cwiertny

If you were locked in a tower, a prisoner, what would your message to the world be? Would it be a few short sentences? An essay? Graffiti on the wall?

Back in June, I had the opportunity to explore the Tower of London. And in the Beauchamp Tower where many of the prisoners were held, intricately hand-carved inscriptions decorate the walls. They truly became works of art. The poetic words, the intellectual defense, and the design all combined into one message, shows us high-ranking political prisoners stayed there. And judging by the amazing details in the graffiti, some obviously stayed in that tower much longer than others while some prisoners didn’t have a chance to finish their message…because the person was freed, escaped, or put to death.

Did they know back during King Henry VIII’s reign (and earlier) that centuries later people would tour those towers and read those messages?

One entire room inside the tower is etched with inscriptions, but I’m only posting a few pictures so you’ll get an idea of what I’m writing about. I believe you can click the photo to enlarge; it might make it easier to view, if you wish. 🙂

Inscribed by Thomas Peverel

This one floors me, and it doesn’t look like it was finished…

Just in case you can’t read this well…It’s a list of all the inscriptions on the walls and who carved them. That’s quite a few!

It makes me wonder what these prisoners would do in this day and age to get their message out. They’d have the media at their disposal now. What do you think?


Michele Cwiertny writes dark paranormal romance and romantic suspense. To find out more about her, please visit her website, michelecwiertny.com, or her personal blog, Michele’s Writing Corner.


So who is going to conference? 🙂

I can’t wait! Every year I look forward to hanging out for the week with my writing industry friends who “get” me as non-writing friends never will. We support each other, we encourage one another, and we give each other the courage and boost we need to keep “reaching for the brass ring.” Oh sure, this amazing fellowship exists at our chapter meetings as well, but there’s something about spending an entire week with people who understand when you tell them you hear voices in your head (and they’re speaking with Italian accents). Now that Rocks.

Friends definitely top my list of favorite things about going to conference, as well as meeting new people. Oh, and catching up with favorite authors… (squee!)

It’s the kick I crave every year and I always leave with energy and ideas galore to write, write, write. It’s also a chance to keep current with what the publishing industry wants, especially with the publishing house spotlights and the agent/author panels given throughout the workshop hours.

So what about you guys? Who’s going this year?

Hope to see you there…


Michele Cwiertny writes dark paranormal romance set in a fictional town in Maine (her favorite place in the world). To find out more about her, please visit her website, michelecwiertny.com, or her personal blog, Michele’s Writing Corner.

Of Feeling Good

So what do you do to stay in a positive frame of mind? Not just when you struggle with your writing, but when Life springs at you from around the corner bashes you on the head with a cast-iron griddle.

For example, some of you already know that my 23-year-old brother-in-law has been in the hospital for the past five weeks, fighting a scary battle for his health, and will most likely be in there a bit longer. My family and I haunted the halls of the ICU for nearly two weeks and held his hand, encouraged him, and even now when he’s in a regular hospital room, he still needs our support, encouragement, and good cheer as he faces complication after complication.

All of us go through tough times like this (I’m certainly not alone in this), so here’s my question for you: What helps you stand back up, dust yourself off, and straighten your spine, ready to face the battle(s) ahead?

Here are a couple things that have put me in my “happy” place over the past month. And in turn, they’ve helped me stay positive.

* Laughing helps quite a bit. Do you like to watch comedies? Listen to comedians?

We saw Flight of the Conchords live at the Orpheum a few weeks ago, and damn, for a few hours, it just felt good to let go of that 25-pound stone that seemed to be lodged in my chest. We also own their first season DVD from their HBO series, which my DH and I watch often, and listen to their musical comedy album on iTunes. Obviously, we’re fans of this New Zealand band.

Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clements put me in my happy place.

* How about listening to a favorite song before you begin your day or when things get stressful?

One of my favorite bands, MUSE, covers the song “Feeling Good” and I love to play this a couple of times in the morning. Below, is a live version from their concert at Wembley Stadium in 2007 that MUSE posted on YouTube (they also post videos for embedding on their MySpace page). Be sure to turn up the volume… 🙂

If you already read my personal blog, then you know I’m obsessed with this British band. LOL

MUSE definitely puts me in my happy place.

So what about you? What helps you? Do you read a favorite book or series again? Listen to music? Watch a favorite movie? Get together with friends and laugh?

Take Care,


Of Inspiration.

by Michele Cwiertny

It’s a given that on any trip we’re going to return home with close to 4000 pictures. Thank goodness for digital cameras. But one of our favorite things to do is to stroll through old burying yards and cemeteries and marvel at the history, the architecture, and the stories in them.

I’ll often take photos (or, in this case, have my husband take them) so I’ll remember something for a story I’m writing, and I’ll keep them on my desktop for inspiration. When the photos of the cemeteries in Scotland below were taken, I was writing a historical romance and had a completely different scene in mind. These locations in Scotland became places for my heroine to hide, and they became locations for chase scenes. But now that I write dark paranormal romance, I view burying yards, cathedrals/chapels/abbeys, colonial taverns, castles, and colonial homes in a completely different light.

See, I’m working on new story and even though it’s set in contemporary Maine, a vital part of the hero’s demon hunter history (and the heroine’s part in it as well!) begins centuries before in England. Sure, I know these are photos of cemeteries in Scotland, but still… 😉

These two photos were taken at Old Calton Cemetery (1718) in Edinburgh, Scotland. It really did look like a movie set. Loved the moodiness of this place and of the country in general. During the entire trip, I think the sun peeked out at us once or twice. The weather reminded me of a California winter…And it was the second week of July. I LOVED it!

This photo was taken in Stirling Cemetery, which is at the foot of Stirling Castle.

And this is looking across the Old Burying Yard in York, ME at the historic Jefferds Tavern on Fourth of July weekend. Because, yes, I always have to bring it back to Maine. 🙂

So what about you? Do you often get your inspiration from your old travel photos? Does that inspiration change as your stories change?

Do you like to stroll through the old burying yards, too? 🙂

Take Care,


Michele Cwiertny writes dark paranormal romance set in a fictional town in Maine (her favorite place in the world). To find out more about her, please visit her website, michelecwiertny.com, or her personal blog, Michele’s Writing Corner.

Of Answers About Novel Excerpts On Websites

by Michele Cwiertny

Since my March post on A Slice of Orange, I have finished my dark paranormal romance novel. Woo-hoo! I’m thrilled to read on paper what has possessed my thoughts for months.

This story, its characters…Sigh. I can’t even count how many times my hero and heroine moved me to type as the tears stung my eyes then grin and break out into laughter as they got to know one another; how many times my neck stiffened from the tension held there because I feared for their lives as they fought the evil encroaching on the village; and how with a simple touch or a courageous deed, they made me fall devotedly in love over and over. Yes, I’m passionate about this book, and I’m just as excited to start the proposals for the next two in trilogy as well. I can’t wait!

But right now, I’m polishing my synopsis and query letter for this one so I can send this baby out…And I’ve got to tell you, it was easier writing the book than writing this synopsis! (It’s coming along, though…I think. No, it really is. Maybe. Argh. LOL)

I do have some questions for all of you, published and unpublished, and any comments and suggestions are most welcome. 🙂

* What do you think about unpublished writers posting excerpts of their stories on their websites? See, I hadn’t considered this when I was querying agents or editors before with a historical romance. But, with this paranormal, I’m thinking I should…and I’m curious as to your opinion about doing so.

Pros and Cons?

1. If you say yes, then would you put up the first couple of chapters? Or a writing sample from somewhere else in the story?

2. If you say no, then what are your reasons behind that decision?

3. Any other thoughts?

I look forward to reading your answers! Thanks!


Michele Cwiertny writes dark paranormal romance set in a fictional town in Maine (her favorite place in the world). To find out more about her, please visit her website, michelecwiertny.com, or her personal blog, Michele’s Writing Corner.

Of The Paranormal

by Michele Cwiertny

I love to hear stories of the supernatural, especially when I’m sitting with a group of friends and we’re trading tales. Can’t get enough of them. And the chill that scurries across my shoulders and down my back? I just draw in a shaky breath and scoot closer to the storyteller.

Did you think I’d look behind me? No way! 😉

And you know what? Almost everyone I’ve asked, even a skeptic or two, has a story in which they can’t explain the appearance of the misty figure in their bedroom…or a premonition they had…or even a dream where a loved one, who has already passed on, visits them in order to tell them something (or to comfort them).

This may be why I’m drawn to reading and writing about the supernatural. Because on some level, we do tend to relate to the stories, even if that connection is when you’ve walked into a room and spun around because you swore someone else was in there with you.

I do have so many personal stories, but I’d like to share one today. And then, if you care to share your experiences, I’d love to read some of your tales. 🙂

In July 2006, we traveled to York, England for the night, as we were to leave for Edinburgh, Scotland the next morning. (I bet most of my friends thought I was going to write York, Maine, huh? Ha! It’s the OTHER York. The older one. LOL)

Anyway, we’d arrived in York from London on Saturday around 6:30 p.m., which meant everything was pretty much closed, except for restaurants and pubs. So, we wandered the nearly empty streets and explored at our leisure, as darkness wouldn’t fall for a few more hours and the rain had lessened to a drizzle.

As I gathered information for a historical I was writing at the time, I stopped in the middle of the cobblestone road to admire a sign hanging outside one of the shops.

“Michele,” a voice whispered in my ear.

I glanced over my shoulder, expecting my husband to be there, waiting for me to move on. But I was alone. Huh. It wasn’t until looked in the opposite direction that I realized my DH was already 20 yards ahead of me and clearly occupied taking pictures.

Okay, I just thought I heard someone whisper my name.

So, I continued studying the buildings and did some window-shopping for a few more minutes. Then I turned in the direction of my husband, who waited for me down at the end of the street, and headed that way, ready to find a place to eat.

“Michele,” the voice whispered again.

I froze, but not from fear. Just curious as heck. What did the voice want? Should I answer?
Why would it get my attention, but not say anything else? Or even appear to me?

At that very moment, a ghost tour made its way down the street toward my DH. As the guide and his group passed me, he pointed to the buildings and spoke about the numerous reports of supernatural occurrences on this particular street.

Uh, ya think? All I could do was grin.

This is the street and the group gathered at the end of it is the ghost tour.

So, that’s one of my stories. I wish I knew what the voice wanted. (Or maybe there’s a connection between that York and my obsession with York, ME. Hmmm. LOL)

Anyone want to share your story? A premonition? A dream? A ghost story?

Take Care,


Michele Cwiertny writes dark paranormal romance set in a fictional town based on her favorite place in the country…York, Maine (not, York, England this time). For more info about her writing, please visit www.michelecwiertny.com and her blog, Michele’s Writing Corner.

Of Inspiration and Answers

by Michele Cwiertny

Yep, I’m looking forward to reading your answers…

How many of you are able to write stories set in the area where you live? I bet there are a lot of you out there. And if you’re one of them, I just have to say…Luuuucky. 🙂

Yeah, I don’t happen to be one of those writers. That is to say, my stories tend to have more energy, more vibrance when they’re set somewhere else, such as in another state, in another country, or even in a different time period. Sure, I can write a story set in California as long as it’s a historical. But a contemporary? Well, let’s just say the thought of poking needles in my eyes almost—ALMOST–seems preferable to the amount of revising I have to do in order to make the scenes come alive for me. It’s ugly. ::shudder::

But why? Why? WHY?! I’d love to be able to put to use what I already know about a fantastic location, especially one where I’ve lived nearly my entire life, one that has so much to offer—one like…oh, say, Orange County? I mean, that only makes sense, right?

Sigh. I guess I’m just a slave to my characters. Right now, they refuse to talk to me if I force them to stay here in contemporary Southern California. LOL!

So, what about you?

1. Are you inspired by your surroundings?
2. Do you prefer to write about locations outside of where you live?
3. Do you do both?
4. Do you think I need therapy for being a slave to my characters?

Can’t wait to hear from you!


Michele Cwiertny writes dark paranormal romance set waaaaay on the other side of the country…Seriously, nowhere near Orange County, CA (just in case her characters are reading this). To find out more about her writing, please visit www.michelecwiertny.com and her blog, Michele’s Writing Corner.

Of Research and Character Development

by Michele Cwiertny

The Travel Channel. Discovery Channel. The Learning Channel.

I never realized how many times I draw inspiration for character development while watching some of the programs on these channels. No, seriously. This isn’t an excuse for me to sit in front of the TV and wish I had Samantha Brown’s job of traveling around the world…Or for me to think for the hundredth time that the French fry lovin’, clown fearin’ Anthony Bourdain just couldn’t be any cooler.

Well, okay. It is a little bit about Samantha Brown, but mostly it’s about what I learned about my characters after watching her show, “Passport to Europe.”

In one of my favorite episodes, she visits Prague and eats in an absolutely stunning Art Nouveau café as she tells the story of a plate full of stale jelly donuts that sit on the counter and wait for someone to buy them for about $60 American. If a customer were willing to pay that much for the entire plateful, then that person has the right to take those donuts and throw them AT the other customers!

Where did this custom of the donut battles start?

Apparently, it was taken from a 1942 novel by a Czech author, Zdenek Jirotka, who wrote Saturnin, which is a humorous story that categorizes people into three different groups: 1) those who would just look at a plate of donuts 2) those who would think about throwing the donuts at people in the café and 3) those who wouldn’t think twice and would actually throw them at people in the café.

Now, from what I understand, the Café Imperial ended the tradition of the Battle of the Donuts in 2006, so don’t log on to Expedia and purchase your flight to Prague just yet! But, when I hear stories like this story, I always wonder…what other fun traditions have been started because of something written in a book or a poem?

So, tell me…In what category would your hero or heroine fall when looking at the plate of donuts? And what about you?

One, two, or three?

Can’t wait to read your answers… 🙂


Michele Cwiertny writes dark paranormal and historical romance. To find out more about her please visit, www.michelecwiertny.com


  • Anonymous
    on January 13, 2008

    Hey, Sue! Yeah, $60 is a lot for donuts, especially if you don’t plan to use some of the people in the cafe for target practice;however, I’d probably fork over the money to keep others from throwing them at ME. LOL

    (Unless, of course, I really did plan to eat the entire plateful. Might be worth it. I really do love jelly donuts.) 😉


  • Anonymous
    on January 13, 2008

    I’m still boggled at $60 for donuts…single or plateful!

    Meanwhile, you have given me much “food for thought” regarding my H/H. Obviously their characters are not fully developed yet because I have no clue which category fits them. I’ll get back to you on that. GGG

  • Anonymous
    on January 13, 2008

    Jen, I love how you put accidentally in quotes, LOL.

    So, your hero and his buddies would belong in the new “fourth category.” 🙂

    Thanks for playing!


  • Anonymous
    on January 13, 2008

    Michele what fun! My heroine, because she’s just coming into her witch powers, might “accidentally” throw the entire plate of donuts at the hero. But not the other customers.

    The hero and his buddys wouldn’t waste good donuts. Yes, I know you said stale; but they don’t believe you.

    You come across the most interesting things!

  • Anonymous
    on January 12, 2008

    Btw, to answer my own question:

    My hero would fall into category 3 and my heroine would fall into category 2 (but could be tempted into the third category–with proper motivation). 🙂

  • Anonymous
    on January 12, 2008

    LOL! Yes, there should definitely be a fourth group! Jelly donuts are my favorite. Stale, or not. (Don’t know if I want to wear them, though…)

  • Anonymous
    on January 12, 2008

    LOL … cool story!

    I belong to the fourth group. I’d eat the entire plate of donuts all by myself, and then I’d notice there were other people in the cafe.

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