February–Love of Reading Month

Love of Reading Month

Special offer in honour of a special month:

Get all three of the Crater Lake novels in one box set for only $5.00

Here’s what one reviewer thought:

Have you ever read a book or a series where you become emotionally bonded to the characters? This is what I did with Francis Guenette’s Crater Lake series. At the end of the last book, I was heartbroken that I would not encounter the beauty that surrounds Crater Lake and the cast of characters anymore.

Yes, I was going to miss my new friends and their lives. In fact, I had to stop reading for a few days so that I could adjust to my life without them. I had a book hangover, one of which I have not experienced in a long time! The complexity of the characters and the realistic relationships shared between them are what propel this saga forward. Pair that with the beautiful descriptions of the surrounding area and Crater Lake comes alive in magnificent colors much like a rainbow which spreads hope in the darkest times.

There is something here for everyone. Love, sex, lust, greed, spirituality, sacrifice, death, murder, life… the list goes on and on. Each book in the series leads you on to a different life lesson much like the lessons you learn within your own family unit.

There was a kinship found within these pages where I as the reader was drawn along, all the while given permission to become part of the family. I feel my life has been enriched for having shared their lives. I will reread these books numerous times because it will feel like coming home.

CLSBox1_KindleCover - Copy

The Crater Lake Series – Boxed Set $5.00

Things Heat Up When the Mounties Arrive

Pt. Alice 50th - Bruce Witzel photo

I’m spending a couple of days selling books and having a great time over at the Port Alice 50th Anniversary Celebrations. For a died in the wool (get it – red serge!) Canadian like myself, a visit from an RCMP officer in full dress uniform is quite a treat.

And what I can I say? There was cake.

Pt. Alice 50th - cake - Guenette photo (1)

Celebrations are going on all weekend. Port Alice is the place to be. Stop by the registration room and say hi.

Pt. Alice 50th - banner - Bruce Witzel photo

The Crater Lake Series–Box Set

3-D Box Set - Crater Lake Series

Okay, folks, here’s your chance to grab all three Crater Lake novels in one swoop. The Crater Lake Series: Box Set has just been released on Amazon. Great summer reading!

“The Crater Lake Series Box Set contains three full-length novels. Readers will encounter characters who quickly become friends and family. Youth issues, family dynamics and relationships are explored while challenging stereotypes of right and wrong. Emotional landscapes are laid bare and yet, life is so much more than problems to be faced. Everyday rural realities leave readers chuckling. These are character-driven novels in the genre of contemporary literary fiction with a splash of romance and a superbly crafted setting.”

Disappearing in Plain Sight
Sixteen-year-old Lisa-Marie has been packed off to spend the summer with her aunt on the isolated shores of Crater Lake. She is drawn to Izzy Montgomery, a gifted trauma counsellor who is struggling through personal and professional challenges. Lisa-Marie also befriends Liam Collins, a man who goes quietly about his life trying to deal with his own secrets and guilt. The arrival of a summer renter for Izzy’s guest cabin is the catalyst for change amongst Crater Lake’s tight knit community. People are forced to grapple with the realities of grief and desire to discover that there are no easy choices – only shades of grey.

The Light Never Lies
As circumstances spiral out of control, Lisa-Marie is desperate to return to Crater Lake. The young girl’s resolve is strengthened when she learns that Justin Roberts is headed there for a summer job at the local sawmill. Her sudden appearance causes turmoil. The mere sight of Lisa-Marie upsets the relationship Liam Collins has with trauma counsellor, Izzy Montgomery. All he wants to do is love Izzy, putter in the garden and mind the chickens. Bethany struggles with her own issues as Beulah hits a brick wall in her efforts to keep the organic bakery and her own life running smoothly. A native elder and a young boy who possesses a rare gift show up seeking family. A mystery writer arrives to rent the guest cabin and a former client returns looking for Izzy’s help. Life is never dull for those who live on the secluded shores of Crater Lake. Set against the backdrop of Northern Vancouver Island, The Light Never Lies is a story of heartbreaking need and desperate measures. People grapple with the loss of cherished ideals to discover that love comes through the unique family ties they create as they go.

Chasing Down the Night
One might be excused for assuming that an idyllic life unfolds for those who have chosen to live and work near the shores of Crater Lake. Nothing could be further from the truth. Long-time resident, Izzy Montgomery juggles the stress of a new job with her burgeoning home life. Family dynamics go into overdrive when Alexander and Cynthia launch plans to build a home nearby and Liam’s sister, Fiona shows up to do an internship with the local doctor. Lisa-Marie and Justin are back for the summer and sparks fly. While crusty, old Reg keeps sawmill production booming, Beulah runs the organic bakery and plans the First Annual Caleb Jenkins Memorial Ball Tournament. Bethany discovers her own hidden talents working with young people at Micah Camp. As a nine-year-old’s dreams reflect a dangerous reality, many encounter issues from the past. This is a novel for all those who work at building family ties by strengthening the traditional and creating the new. Chasing Down the Night explores a wide-ranging emotional landscape while highlighting many aspects of day-to-day, rural life. Tears and laughter are inevitable.

Enjoy Smile

Reviews Really Matter, My Friends

Wisteria - Bruce Witzel photo

The reviews are starting to come in for Chasing Down the Night and I’m pleased to share this one with all of you.

clip_image001A Worthy Third in the Crater Lake Series, 19 May 2015

By Mari Howard

This review is for: Chasing Down the Night: Volume 3 (Crater Lake Series)

     I’ve just read this great book. I loved it. It’s the 3rd in the Crater Lake series. I would not say that it is “YA” though many of the characters are just that, YAs.
     Young, really young, adults, might find it hard going and too near the bone. The relationships and lives and inner lives of everyone are pretty complex, reflecting the knowledge of the author who has worked in trauma counselling for many years, and written non-fictionally on the topic.
     There are a host of characters, (many whom readers will have already met) but Guenette never muddles the reader, she copes with her crowded canvas beautifully and competently.     Even if you haven’t read the 2 previous stories of Crater Lake, you can get inside this and just carry on, there is just enough to fill in the past but no tedious long explanations.
     It’s quite a page turner: the theme of the cougar mentioned at the very beginning carries the reader along through many other events weaving in just that bit of mystery and fearfulness. And, with just a hint (or more) that there is more to this world than we know by science.  Guenette also has a tremendous respect for the Native people – First Nation – of Canada, and for others who have arrived more recently from elsewhere … and also , for anyone who’s life has given them cause to be messed up, as we all are, by circumstances…Her story of a family gradually put together by mutual care and love is moving and optimistic without unrealistic expectations.
     In this well told story, every piece of angst and suspense is set against the wonderful landscape of the Pacific North West … giving a touch of irony without labouring the point. Life is never perfect for her characters … it is lived to the full but there is also sadness, loss, and lessons to be learned. At the end, there is a hint she may take her characters to England: I wonder if she will? And if so, how will she do with the greyness of London … and the wilds of Scotland? And as a Canadian, will she be able to get inside the British? Maybe I am wrong about this location move: we’ll see where she goes for the 4th novel if there is to be one!
Recommended read! (I read it on my Kindle)

As the title states, reviews really matter to a self-published author. I’ve recently read that if a book can make it past the magical number of thirty-five reviews, all kinds of amazing Amazon algorithms begin to place the book in front of customers. If you’ve read any of the Crater Lake books and enjoyed them, then please take a moment to pop over to Amazon and leave a review. It doesn’t have to be lengthy to count. Many thanks in advance.

Clematis - Guentte photo

Connections and Relationships Sell Books

Reflective Robin - Guenette photo

Coffee in hand, I make my way out to the deck and sip as I watch the mist lift slowly off the lake. Sunday morning and I’m feeling reflective. My office space is crowded with boxes of softcover books. Hopefully, at least half will find their way to store shelves and into people’s hands in short order.

I randomly grabbed a few copies of Chasing Down the Night from within the boxes for a quality control test. As I flipped through to ensure all was where it should be, I decided to read the last couple of pages. I was brought to tears. Oh, what a feeling. You may say I lack objectivity but you must read yourself to be sure.

Chasing Down the Night was released as an e-book on April 28th. It had a bigger bump in the Amazon world than my other releases and I worked that as hard as I was able over various social media channels. But like most bumps – it soon became a recurring blip and I have been taking a rest the last couple of days.

Daily itinerary – coffee, smattering of social media activity, go for a walk, knit a few rows of these wildly coloured cabin sweaters I am making for my granddaughters, read a couple of chapters of someone else’s book – repeat.

A chance to be reflective leads me to reiterate, for myself as much as I wish to share with others, my book promotion policy. If I genuinely connect with the right readers, they will buy my book. The choice to pop over to Amazon (or Nook, or Kobo, or iTunes) and download my book is because you and I have developed some type of relationship. You came to my blog or saw me featured on another blog, we interacted, you followed me on Facebook and liked the eclectic mix of things I tossed up there, we interchanged tweets out in the twitter-sphere or you scrolled down my list of tweets and got a laugh. There was some personal connection that tweaked your interest. Or one of the above happened to a friend of yours and this friend told you about me.

My books on the shelf at Overwaitea, Pt. HardyIf you walk into a local store and see my book on the shelf, perhaps the cover will grab you and you’ll flip it over and read the back. Maybe you’ll be hooked without ever having heard of me. It’s not unheard of in the world of paper and ink books. More likely, you’ll see the book and think of some type of connection you and I have had. It might be as simple as recalling that I’m a local author.

There are no shortcuts, no tricks to cheat Amazon algorithms, no magic solution to be found in the words of slick promoters who sell the self-published author’s latest version of bottled snake oil and no one size fits all way to get onto the shelves of real stores.

So followers, this is me connecting with you. I stare at the lake that stretches beyond the confines of my little cabin in the woods and send words out that might bind you to me. It’s like an incantation – though don’t let that concern you. It’s much less double, double, toil and trouble than Field of Dreams, if you build it, they will come. I wish to make you curious enough about me that you might like to read one of my books.

But really, it’s all just throwing pebbles into a wide pond. I’m not about creating a tidal wave. Just ripples extending out and out. And lest I despair of the seemingly small nature of such tossing, I consider the words of Blaise Pascal:

The least movement is of importance to all nature. The entire ocean is affected by a pebble.

Ocean waves - Bruce Witzel photo

Writing Dialogue & New Releases

Medusa - google images

Writing dialogue can be akin to wrestling with Medusa. It’s a knock-down, drag-out battle with a mess of words that may as well be snakes – they are that slippery and hard to get the better of. All to ensure that a particular character’s voice will hit the page the way it sounds in my head.

Writing dialogue is tricky. It isn’t exactly how people talk – it can’t be. No one would wade through pages that read like the transcript of an actual conversation. Believe me, I’ve transcribed enough research interviews to be sure of that. Conversation may sound okay when you’re present for it, otherwise not so much.

cover - On Writing



In his book, On Writing, Stephen King tell us that dialogue is a skill best learned by people who enjoy talking and listening to others.



I love to write dialogue. When I block out a new scene it’s always in terms of what characters are going to say. Only later do I flesh out the setting, add the beats that allow pacing and the character attributions that keep the reader on track. The compass I steer by is my intimate knowledge of the characters. 

CDN (book antiqua) Full Cover JPEG Final Proof

Here’s an excerpt from my newly released novel, Chasing Down the Night. See what you think?

Izzy shook her head as she remembered their earlier talk about wedding dresses. It had occurred a month or so after their decision to get married. Liam had caught Izzy by surprise when he asked, “What are you planning to wear for the wedding, Iz?”

She had looked up from digging one of Robbie’s T-shirts out of the laundry basket, giving it a brisk snap, folding it and laying it on a pile of the boy’s things. “Oh, I was thinking of not wearing anything at all. A naked wedding might be fun.”

Liam pulled a magazine from a stack of things he’d brought home from the library that afternoon. He flipped it open to a page marked with a blue tab. “What do you think of a dress like this?”

Izzy took the magazine from his hands and sat down on the sofa beside him. She stared wide-eyed at the full-page photo of a young woman who stood facing the camera in an elaborate, formal garden. The model wore a traditional white gown; the low-cut bodice was scattered with pearls and the train swept across the lawn behind her. She held a massive bouquet of pink roses in front of her at waist level. The fabric behind the flowers took on a dreamy glow. Her eyes were downcast; thick lashes shadowed her glowing cheeks. Izzy swallowed in disbelief.

Liam pulled out another magazine, flipped to a similar blue tab and said, “Or maybe something like this?”

Izzy accepted the second magazine wordlessly. This time she saw a woman wearing a white, off-the-shoulder, peasant-type dress; her arms were filled with wild flowers and more of the same decorated her long hair. She was spinning around in a field. Izzy closed the magazine and placed both her hands flat on the top cover, trying to obscure the words, Modern Bride. She glanced at Liam for a moment to see if this was all part of some kind of elaborate joke. When it obviously wasn’t, she said, “Have you lost your mind, Liam?”

“Don’t think so. You did say I could plan the wedding.” He pulled out another book and turned to a red tab. “Do you like the idea of fondant for the wedding cake? It looks pretty fancy.” He flipped to another red tabbed page, “But this looks more like people could actually eat it. What do you think?”

Izzy reached past Liam to grab a notebook from the pile. She held it up and said, “What exactly do these colour-coded tabs stand for?”

Liam smiled as he began ticking off a list of things on his fingers, “Blue is for clothing, red for food and beverages, yellow for the service, green for music, purple for decorations and flowers, orange for the guest list and I think pink is for gifts and rings.”

Izzy put the book down carefully. “No coloured tab for psychiatric institutions?” She threw the folded piles of laundry into the basket, got up and headed for their bedroom. As she yanked open Liam’s dresser drawer to throw in his underwear, she heard him say, “I’m not sure you could pull off this sixties flower-child look anyway. The traditional gown has more class. What do you think?”

She balanced the laundry basked against her hip, walked out of their bedroom and passed him on the way down to Sophie’s room. “I think you should make an appointment to see a doctor. You are way further gone that you realize, Liam.”

This is release weekend for the e-book edition of Chasing Down the Night. Please pop over to the venue of your choice and pick-up a copy. Early sales always boost an indie authors confidence. Winking smile 



Amazon. ca

Or if you read on another device:




As always, many thanks for your support.

Love Lies Bleeding - Guenette photo

Cover Reveal–Chasing Down the Night

Here we go, folks. With a flourish and a bow, a drumroll and a trumpet blast, I give you the cover for the third book of the Crater Lake Series – Chasing Down the Night.

CDN ebook cover A

Back of the Book Synopsis

One might be excused for assuming that an idyllic life unfolds for those who have chosen to live and work near the shores of Crater Lake. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Long-time resident, Izzy Montgomery juggles the stress of a new job with her burgeoning home life. Family dynamics go into overdrive when Alexander and Cynthia launch plans to build a home nearby and Liam’s sister, Fiona shows up to do an internship with the local doctor. Lisa-Marie and Justin are back for the summer and sparks fly. While crusty, old Reg keeps sawmill production booming, Beulah runs the organic bakery and plans the First Annual Caleb Jenkins Memorial Ball Tournament. Bethany discovers her own hidden talents working with young people at Micah Camp.

As a nine-year-old’s dreams reflect a dangerous reality, many encounter issues of the past. This is a novel for those who work at building family ties by strengthening the traditional and creating the new. Chasing Down the Night explores a wide-ranging emotional landscape while highlighting the many aspects of day-to-day, rural life. Tears and laughter are inevitable.

Newest chasing down the night cover jpeg

Cougar photo courtesy of Father Charles Brandt. Background photo and cover design by Bruce Witzel. Publication date is set for mid-May. I can’t wait. What about you?

Writing Foibles and Personal Word Traps

Google images - binoculars

When the writing muse takes hold and my fingers start moving at lightning speed over the keyboard, I litter the pages with my personal word traps … combinations or single words that I dump into my writing at an alarming rate. I don’t see these repetitions going in and I don’t see them when I do multiple readings. As the perpetrator of these writing foibles, I am utterly blind to their existence.

You can only imagine my joy when I discovered the find function in Word. If you haven’t used this Word function magic – though I suspect I was the last in the world to discover it – you will see it on the upper right hand menu bar beside an icon of binoculars – so fitting!

I’m in the process of editing two novels right now. Yesterday, I plugged in the words – and then – to the find function and no less than one hundred and twenty incidents of using this troublesome combination came up. Another of my foibles is the word just. I sprinkle that word through my work the way a heavy-handed salt lover would dust a plate of fries. And once I get into the editing process, the word is as hard to spot as those individual grains of salt would be.

After going through the editing process with my first two novels and a book of short stories, I believed – quite naively – that I had learned my lesson. The problem words and combinations had been pointed out to be and I had set myself the task of rooting them out. Surely, I would now cease to write in this way. Alas, it is not to be. The find function continues to reveal my personal bug-a-boos.

Since I am probably the only writer guilty of such heavy usage of the find function to locate incidents of – and then, or just – I will share some of the other useful aspects of this word processor miracle. I have a notebook in which I’ve jotted down specific words that constantly trip me up. Things like – roommate is one word; full-time is hyphenated, halfway is one word. All I need do is plug in half way as two words and the find function will instantly alert me to all the times I’ve made this error. I also check my common typos – for example, Crate Lake instead of Crater Lake.

When we get to line-by-ling editing of anything I’ve written, my editor will be thrilled to learn that I have started a new section in my notebook entitled – Find function tasks before sending any portion of this manuscript for editing. The list is long but thankfully Word is fast.

I’ll leave you today with a small section of Chasing Down the Night – the third book in the Crater Lake Series, coming out in late spring of this year! Editor input made this passage smooth as a stone polished by the waves of millennium and nary a just or and then to be had.

Izzy stared out the window to the harbour. Sunshine danced above the surface of the choppy water and glinted off the metal of the boats jostling against the dock. The bright white bodies and yellow beaks of seagulls stood out against the clear blue sky as they swooped and set up a raucous cacophony of sound. Beyond the tightly-packed pleasure boats, the fishing fleet was coming in. Grey, hulking seiners lumbered past the breakwater towards the commercial wharf. Hemmed in by massive creosoted pilings, the wide structure dwarfed the vehicles and people that moved about on it like so many colourful playthings being pushed around on a toy room floor. The already noisy harbour was suddenly dominated by the roar of a seaplane. Wide pontoons skimmed the waves before the plane lifted into the air on wings buffeted to and fro by the wind.

Dock - Guenette photo

Fall is in the Air–Oh, Say it Isn’t So

Fall is in the air - Bruce Witzel photo

Labour Day has come and gone. It’s time to pack away the wardrobe of white and dust off some warmer clothes for the coming fall. Eek – I’m not ready to let summer go. We had more than a few days of dullish weather last week but the upcoming one promises to be sunny. The garden is geared up for its last push – pepper and tomato plants are bowed over with bounty and the green beans are in a daily race to see if they can produce more than we can eat.

Evaluation - google imagesBruce and I are working on something we do every couple of years. We call it our lifestyle evaluation. We check in on the various things we’re doing as individuals and as a couple along a number of dimensions to see where we want to tweak or change direction. We congratulate ourselves where we’ve met goals and faced up to challenges. It’s a good exercise for the upcoming fall.

I saw my doctor the other day and she put me on to a great internet tool – My Fitness Pal. Have you heard of this site? Participation can be as private or as social as one likes. I go in and track food intake and activity and all these great calculating tools tell me how I’ll end up in a month if I stick with my current pattern. Enlightening, shocking and sometimes terrifying. But mostly it’s a fun tool – definitely a step up from a handwritten food log or activity journal. Basically the same idea, though. Research shows that people who actively keep track of food intake or activity have double the chance of sticking to their goals. Good old research – always there to bolster one claim or another.

The Orenda by Joseph BoydenI managed to find the time to sit down and thoroughly devour Joseph Boyden’s novel, The Orenda – 2014’s Canada Reads Winner. I received the hardcover as a Christmas gift and I have put off the read, like someone delaying the gratification to be had from the first sip of a fine wine. The book is absolutely exquisite – word by word so finely written it will break your heart. I wondered if he could top my experience of reading, Three Day Road. He could and he did. I’m in awe of the man’s writing talent.

Guenette - Inspiration for Chasing Down the NightThe first fifteen chapters of Chasing Down the Night have gone to a trusted reader. Targeted feedback at this stage of the writing is very helpful. I’ve asked questions such as – what grabs you, what leaves you cold, what makes you laugh, what makes you squirm, is someone getting too much exposure, is someone not getting enough, are you intrigued, do you want to read more?

I’ve been taking the time to reorganize my computer files before the next writing push. I generally start a work-in-progress with a number of word documents saved by date. These can be anything from character sketches, to timelines, to outlines, to blocked out scenes in various stages of writing polish. At some point, I have to go back through every one of those dated documents, pull out each scene and resave with the proper name. The process is time consuming and I’m always afraid I’ll lose something but the way I work is the way I work. I haven’t been able to change that and I’m not sure I want to. So, I’m willing to live with what is.

Storyboard - Guenette photo

An additional layer of paper needed to be added to the storyboard so that I could go into greater scene by scene detail with my coloured post-it-notes. The next section is coming together.  

I’ve been struggling to write the arrival of a new character – Liam’s sister, Fiona. I’ve walked around and around and around all my notes like an old dog taking the plunge to settle down on her bed. What I discovered was that I wasn’t quite ready – I couldn’t hear her voice clearly enough to cover something so important as how she arrives at Crater Lake. I didn’t know (yet) whose point-of-view to allow sway as she arrived. Who has the most at stake?

The solution has been to work on dramatic scenes that Fiona appears in further along the way. The other characters who surround her are letting me know in no uncertain terms what having her around means. With each day of writing I get closer to understanding how Fiona impacts the story. I begin to hear her voice. There is nothing like some high drama to reveal a character’s true colours.

Green Party Sunflower - Guenette & Witzel photo

So, fall is in the air – though some of us would like to deny it when the sun shines as warm as it does today. I’m wishing all of you the best with the last of the garden harvest, writing projects, lifestyle changes and anything else the coming autumn season brings your way. Though I’ve been away from the rhythms of the school system for a few years now, I always think of September as a time for new beginnings. I have the urge to run out and buy school supplies.

Before I sign-off – last month, I blogged a post entitled, Should Indie Authors Pay for Promotion. The post generated a great discussion. The comment stream has become far more useful than the post itself. I encourage you to check it out if you haven’t already and please do take the time to join your voice to the interaction.