My Angels–Seasons Greetings

The joys of photography mean I can present both my beautiful granddaughters at the age of four in their preschool Christmas play.

Britney as an angel - Christmas play 2015 - bruce witzel photoBritney (above) is actually four. Emma (below) is now seven!

emma & star effect

What can I say? Proud grandma. Loving this holiday time with family. And here’s Emma in 2015 at her most recent Holiday concert.

Emma - small file

Wishing everyone the best of the holiday season.

I Share Therefore I Am –The Author Interview

Francis @ Kootenay Lake

I love doing author interviews. I may be taking a chance with that admission but go ahead – contact me with a list of questions and you’ll get a quick response. I recently did an interview related to my newly released novel, Maelstrom. Answering questions always kick-starts my creative process.

What is the hardest part of being an author?

Hands down, I find the first few weeks after a new book release the hardest part of the author life. It is as if I have tossed a newborn baby out on the sidewalk and now I wait for readers to notice and react. I am haunted by doubts and questions. Will readers value this story I have poured so much of myself into creating? Will they understand what motivates these characters that I have become so close to over the time taken to create this novel?

Maelstrom Full Cover JPEG

Can you give us a short synopsis of Maelstrom?

Maelstrom is a fast-paced thriller that unfolds over the course of one blistering hot week in August, 1976. The setting is the fictitious, American town of Haddon, which is held under the thumb of the brutal Sheriff Bert Calder. Main character, Myhetta, a young man of mixed heritage and a troubled background, has been charged by his adoptive father with the task of destroying Mayor Amos Thatcher. The man pulling the strings is Rafael Destino, the rich and powerful third Lord of Casa Destino – a sprawling estate that perches on a rise overlooking the Haddon valley. Rafael believes Thatcher is responsible for the death of his beloved sister, Serena. Much is at stake and a cruel game is set in motion that pits fathers against sons and draws the innocent as well as the guilty into a vortex of violence.

What inspired you to write this book?

June Guenette - old slideThe story behind writing Maelstrom is almost as interesting as the actual novel. When I was a child, I often heard the sound of my mother’s Remington manual typewriter well into the wee hours of the night. She was writing a book and the idea of that always fascinated me. It set my mother apart from the moms of my friends. My mother wrote all of her life and though she returned periodically to her book, I never heard of a finished version. Years after her death, I came into possession of a large box that contained over 2000 typewritten pages. This was her work on Maelstrom. It was a massive amount of material and much of it was first draft notes, ideas, false starts and alternate plot lines. I went through every page in a process of breaking the story down to its bare bones. Then the rebuilding began. In the end, the book became my own though haunting bits of dialogue and flashes of my mother’s wit and storytelling skill remain. I thought to be the ghostwriter of my mother’s book but in the end our roles were reversed. She became the ghost in the pages of my novel.

How many hours per day do you spend writing?

It varies. When I’m in the creative stage, I may spend ten to twelve hours per day on the work. It is hard to let go of the story at that point. Rewriting, editing, proofreading and formatting require a more paced approach and I slow down to a regular work day of six to eight hours for those tasks. Intense periods of writing work are interspersed with time off to garden, cook, travel and spend time with my children and grandchildren.

Brit - Guenette photo               Emma - Guenette photo

Name your top five favourite books.

My tastes are constantly evolving. Over the past weeks, I have been immersed in Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch novels. Connelly is a genius when it comes to creating a hero for the long haul and there is much to learn from his way of constantly developing Bosch’s character and keeping him fresh for readers. I enjoy the detail oriented writing of authors like Robert Harris (his latest novel, An Officer and a Spy is brilliant) and Dan Simmons (Terror – historical retelling of the Franklin expedition and The Crook Factory – the exploits of Ernest Hemingway in Cuba during World War II – would definitely hit my favorite list). I loved Game of Thrones – but who doesn’t? Hunger Games is a great series of novels that have been brought to the big screen with a good deal of authenticity. I also enjoy Philippa Gregory’s strong female characters in her historical Tudor period books. I read across many genres always looking for that one ingredient that means everything to me – character development.

Inspiration sign - Google Image

What are you working on now?

I am in the storyboarding and planning stage for the fourth book in my Crater Lake Series. Set on the rugged west coast of Canada, the first three books have revolved around the lives of the adults and young people who live on the isolated shores of fictitious Crater Lake. As one reviewer has said, “… there is something for everyone. Love, sex, lust, greed, spirituality, sacrifice, death, murder, life … the list goes on and on.”

Artistic Lights - Bruce Witzel photo

Readers’ Favorite 5-Star Review of Maelstrom

Maelstrom Full Cover JPEG

I recently broke one of my rules and paid for a review of Maelstrom. Okay – hold the gnashing of teeth. I didn’t pay for the actual review. I paid to have my book pushed up the ridiculously long queue so that I could have a review in a short turn around. I felt the need of an independent take on my book in a timely fashion. I got what was promised – the opinion of my reviewer, someone who doesn’t claim to be an expert literary critic or professional editor, but who is an avid reader of books like mine. Fair enough. I got the promised 5-star glittery badge (only awarded to 4 or 5 star reviews). And I got a review that is mine to use as I see fit. So, here goes! 

Maelstrom, by Francis Guenette, begins when a young woman dies of a gunshot wound. This one incident starts a series of events in which old rivalries are revealed, power plays are made and things go downhill. In a small town, big things are happening and they are happening fast. Lives are turned upside down.

This novel is a highly entertaining story that reads like a maelstrom. I was taken by the author’s wit and the way she played with words. If you are reading this novel, you will know what I mean. The title fits perfectly with the story and plot lines. It has drama, crisis and some devious men who need to be put in their places.

Sometimes, a reader can feel a writer’s dedication to their work. Maelstrom is one such novel that makes this clear. Guenette is an extremely talented writer. The book is  interesting. Seriously interesting. A great action packed drama that keeps the reader entertained.


Maelstrom on Tour

Enchanted Book Tour Banner - Maelstrom

I’m pleased to share that Maelstrom is out and about on tour with Enchanted Book Promotions. Please stop in at the Launch Page and enter the Rafflecopter draw for one of two $10.00 Amazon gift cards. And do follow the tour with excerpts and interview pieces to enjoy along the way. Many thanks.

December 4th: Starter Day Party @ I Heart Reading

December 4th: Book Excerpt @ Stormy Night Reviewing

December 5th: Book Excerpt @ Book-o-Craze

December 7th: Author Interview @ The Single Librarian

December 11th: Book Excerpt @ Rising Indies United

December 11th: Book Excerpt @ Author C.A. Milson’s Blog

Changing Hats

Bette Davis in a bowler - google image

“Without wonder and insight, acting is just a trade. With it, it becomes creation.” (Bette Davis)

I would readily insert the word writing for acting in the above quote.

Maelstrom, my latest novel has been launched as an e-book and though I’ve had a struggle getting the softcover out, I’m hopeful it will be on the shelves early in the new year.

The decks will be cleared and I will plunge into extensive storyboarding and planning for the next book in the Crater Lake Series. This requires a definite change of hats from the work I have been doing over the last few months.

The self-publishing, learning curve has been steepest for me at the point where I realized that negotiating the process would be about so much more than improving my ability to craft a readable story. A wide variety of skills have been required.

Today’s post invites you to take a look at my rack of self-publishing hats.

Do you see that charcoal grey fedora? That’s my brainstorming, storyboarding, planning hat. I remember looking at post-depression era photos of my grandfather striding purposefully down a city street wearing a crisp suit and just such a hat. His eyes gleamed and I felt certain he was planning his next move as an up and coming entrepreneur. (No my grandfather was not Gregory Peck but I enjoy the comparison.)

Gregory Peck in a fedora - google image

Next on the rack you will find a black Stetson – my creative hat. This is my ride’em cowgirl stage. I am ready to tackle broncos, rope bulls and careen around corners in a chuck wagon race. Anything goes and I need a hat that emphasizes that attitude. As the picture below illustrates, sometimes the Stetson might need to be traded up for a crash helmet.

Rodeo girl - google image

When I get to the rewriting stage, I’ve got to toss that Stetson aside. A tall, black, witch’s hat suits my needs. I am not one of those kill your darlings advocates but I am ready to be brutal where necessary and cackle as I cut.

cat in a witch hat - google image

Do you see that red ball cap hanging on the rack? That’s my editing cap. There is an excitement about editing that reminds me of the opening game of the World Series. And lucky me, editing has become a team sport because I’ve got such a great editor! Everything starts to come together and the book that emerges will shine like a champ.

Red cap on rack - google image

I approach formatting with exhilaration and dread. I’m coming down the home stretch but I know the attention to detail is going to take a lot out of me. I carefully adjust my banker’s green visor and lodge a pencil behind my ear.

baby in banker's visor - google image

You might notice that flashy hat that is draped over the last peg. I don this one to do promotion and marketing work – grabbing some attention while hiding out in plain sight seems to suit me.

fancy hat - google image

Oh … yes … you’ve got me there. I have missed a hat. I forgot to mention that thick, wool toque in the corner. I am embarrassed to confess that I put that on and pull it down tight around my face when the inevitable mistakes occur. Always good to have a place to hide out and regroup.

Brit - Guenette photo

Now it’s your turn. How about sharing some of the metaphorical hats on your rack?