Friday, April 29, 2011

Character Assassination

Character assassination - a topic nobody likes to talk about, but a very necessary act sometimes. Those of us who write novels oftentimes find ourselves in the awkward position of playing the role of an assassin.
No matter in what person we choose to write, we, as the author, have the omnipotent knowledge of everything that has happened in the past, is happening in the present, and will happen in the future. There are characters that live in our stories that we dearly love and then there are those who are integral pieces of the story, yet they are only destined to one end; an assassination orchestrated by their creator. 
This is the difference between human beings and diety when it comes to creation. Mercy for a fictional character is not relevant when it comes to the end of the story. We are willing to 'off' our characters at a whim, just because we want to; or sometimes it's a case of needing to for furtherment of the story.
I, as a reader, have found myself deeply disturbed or even horrified at the author assassination of some characters in the books that I have read.  Somehow, I will have developed a relationship of connection with each character in a story and find myself emotionally affected by the death of a one of these characters. This happened while reading one of Marion Zimmer Bradley's books in "The Mists of Avalon" series. I won't say which book because I don't believe in spoilers.
As I continue to write "The Malakai Chronicles", I keep in mind the reader's connection to characters and I am being very conscious of how eliminating any one of them may affect a reader. The characters in "The Malakai Chronicles" are rich with a lot of thought in their creation.

Are we Gods / Goddesses in our title of author? No, not really. We are creating ficitional stories; a reality that only exists in the imagination of the reader. How we respect the readers' emotional connection to their own imagination is the real test of character assassination.
I am excited and looking forward to summer of 2011 when "The Malakai Chronicles" is scheduled for public release.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Sticks and Bones - An Excerpt

99 Cents Kindle Book. Available on Amazon

“Well it doesn’t feel like just facts to me, seems to me you’re trying to put the blame on this old man,” he said jabbing a knotted, arthritis ridden finger into his own chest.

“Where exactly were you when you noticed the shining object in the pigpen?” Officer Jefferson interrupted. He had been on the force for several years, but had never been involved in a homicide case, not that there had been one in West Fargo for over fifty years. He was a young man in his early thirties, tall and slender with his once thick brown hair receding over the dome of his head. Ever since he had been a little boy, Bruce Jefferson dreamed of being a police officer, catching bad guys, and putting them in jail where they belonged. As he listened to the questioning he was certain the old man was guilty and was getting impatient with the slow methodical means Arnie was using to get the confession. He was sure he could have gotten it a lot quicker by acting like a real detective and grilling the old man into submission.

“Bruce, let me handle this ok,” Arnie said taking back control. He knew if Clyde got spooked he would bolt like a rabbit in the brush. Bruce dropped his pen on the table and held up his hands in resignation conceding to Arnie’s seniority on the force. He couldn’t wait until Officer Paulson retired because then he would be third in the line of seniority and things would definitely start to change.

“See I told ya,” Mr. Jordaine said starting to rise from his chair, “I knew it. You think I killed her and what would you do if I did? Huh Arnie? Would you wonder ‘bout all those times out in the woods hunting with me? Would you wonder if I ever thought ‘bout killin’ you too? I coulda if I had wanted too.”

Officer Jefferson shot a raised eyebrow with a crooked smile towards Arnie as if to say ‘I told you so’ and waited for Arnie to go for the kill.

“Shut up, Clyde!” Arnie shouted rising from his chair putting his fists on the table, “You just shut your damned mouth and sit down!”

“Or, what? Whadda ya gonna do if I don’t? Arrest me? Shoot me? What? You think it matters to me what you think? You think it matters to me what anyone in this rat hole of a town thinks of me? You think I don’t know ‘bout all the whispering and such that goes on behind my back? Well you just think again, Arnie. I do know. I know that everyone says I did this thing and I didn’t. I swear to God I didn’t do it.” Tears were welling up in the old man’s once ice blue eyes that had turned a grayish in color over time and the years of pent up pain from undeserved ridicule began to spill over and flow down his weather worn cheeks.

“Clyde, I think you need to cool off and sober up before we go any further with this. Let’s go,” Arnie said grasping the old man’s arm in an effort to guide him to the waiting drunk tank.

Mr. Jordaine jerked his arm out of Arnie’s grip, “Get yer dirty hands off me! I ain’t done nothin’ wrong and you know it.”

Officer Jefferson leaped from his chair the exhilaration of the interrogation getting the best of him. He could feel the adrenaline coursing through his veins like a hunter about to finally pounce on his prey for the kill. He could taste the collar and wanted it more than anything. It would the one thing that could catapult him past Arnie and the other officers to detective where he would be respected as an officer of the law and people would fear him. Never again would anyone push around Bruce Jefferson.

“Clyde, stop it,” shouted Arnie attracting the attention of other officers in the station. “Bruce, settle down. There’s nothing to get excited about. Cuff him and take him to the holding cell so he can sober up.”

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Making of "Sticks and Bones"

Available on for
Kindle and Kindle Apps 99 Cents.
The idea for my novel, "Sticks and Bones," evolved over time. I will be the first to admit it is not the great American novel destined to become a household word. However, I feel it is important to tell the story of how "Sticks and Bones" came to be.

I have been writing stories for years. Many of these stories were never finished or lay in the bottom of a drawer never to be thought about again. "Sticks and Bones" was different. It contains a powerful message from the mouths of babes. A message so powerful, so strong, so simply full of truth it had to be conveyed to the masses.

As a single mother of three children, teenagers at the time "Sticks and Bones" was started, I had a lot of free time in the evening to write. I was 'everyone's mom'. I made myself available to teenagers from all walks of life when they needed someone to listen. As their lives unfolded before me a story idea formulated in my mind. I wasn't sure where the story was going as I began writing, but I continued to write.

One night while working on "Sticks and Bones," I was busted by the whole lot of them. "What are you doing, Mom?" They asked with genuine interest. I told them I was writing a book. At the time I wasn't really writing a novel, in my mind I was simply writing a story. My daughters outed me as a writer right then and there. "Oh, Mom writes stories all the time, but usually she doesn't finish them." The gauntlet had been thrown down, there was no turning back; no quitting. I had to meet the challenge of the young people who were so excited to know that I had truly taken an interest in the lives they led on a daily basis. And so it began.

I would write a few chapters then read what had been written to the teens who frequented my house. It was strange to me how they seemed to take an ownership of the story. If I used the wrong phrase or choice of word one of them was right there to correct me. There were a minimum of twenty-eight young teenagers contributing to the accuracy of the story. I'm not certain of the reason why the story was so important to them. Afterall, it was just a story; or so I thought.

"Sticks and Bones" isn't just a story. It's a chronicle of their lives. Their lives from their perspective. How they saw each other, how they saw their peers, how they saw their teachers and their city. For the record, none of the teens were from West Fargo. If you read "Sticks and Bones" you will see the heavy emphasis on the illusive life of teenagers in America. Some things parents are aware of and some things they aren't.

"Sticks and Bones" is heavy on the emotions of teenagers: anger; love; hate; friendship; and all the things in between. As a person who has really lost a friend at 15 years old, it was difficult for me to write about this particular subject. It brought back all the feelings and emotions that I carried with me for years regarding my friend. At the same time it lends a bit of realism to the reactions of each person.

I grew up in a small town where everyone knows everybody; and everything about everybody. There is always one or two people who are infamous in the town. Mr. Clyde Jordaine is an example in the story of these infamous people. The people you feel sorry for, yet despise at the same time. There's always one kid who is different than the others and his or her life is plotted out for them before they even reach young adult. Sean Dorian is such a kid in the plot of "Sticks and Bones".

No, "Sticks and Bones" isn't just a story. It's a glimpse into the hardships and lives of teenagers; real teenagers from every city in the country. It's a story that could play out in real life at anytime. A story that will take you back to the time you were a teenager and bring forth memories you thought were long forgotten; to a time where everything was chaos on the road to organized adulthood.

"Sticks and Bones" is available for purchase on Kindle and for Kindle Apps at Once you've read it, you will never look at the world the same again.

Monday, April 18, 2011

For the Love of Books

Books; are they becoming obsolete? Has the Age of Information snuffed out turning pages by the light of the midnight oil? Are we becoming so connected to our machines we no longer treasure the feel of the pages between our fingers?

As a Generation Xer, books have always been a part of my life. I remember turning pages by flashlight under the blankets well after lights out. My books were my haven away from the difficulties of the daily life I led. I would escape into worlds where everyone was beautiful, everyone was rich, everyone had every wonderful thing possible. Beautiful women were loved by handsome men and lived happily everafter.

There's just something about curling up in bed, lying under the shade of a tree in the park, or sitting in a favorite chair with a a good book. The stress of the day seems to melt away. The problems in the office seem to be as far and away as the characters in the book.

It's exciting to be in the transition period of the world of publishing, yet there seems to be a melancholy feel to the whole thing. What will happen to the great libraries of the world which house the countless numbers of pages written by innumerable authors? Will they become museums of the written word? Will we need special passes and substantial amounts of money to see what was once known as a book?

I'm a book collector. I have a rather large collection of books that I keep for my own pleasure. When I am old and ancient in my years, I will bring out each book, run my fingers gingerly over the binding and the pages remembering the days when a book was as common as the pen.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Statement by Detective Marcia Grant

She did it. She put our story out there. All those nights wondering and worrying. All those nights trying to put a puzzle together that even we, the investigative team, were shocked when the final piece fit.

My name is Detective Marcia Grant. I was the lead investigator on the Leah Jackson murder case. I have issues. I'll be the first to admit it. I coat-tailed to success on my father's reputation. I like things to be organized and by the book. I'm a little obssesive about the whole 'rules' thing. Everyone has their issues; right?

I was horrified when my best cop quit his job in the middle of the investigation. Jonathon was a good cop. Really, I have always believed that. Sure he was a little unorthodox in his methods, but with his partner, Arnie Paulson, he always got the job done. It was certainly more than a wrinkle in the case and definitely against the rules.

I consider myself an excellent judge of character. After all I have degrees in behavorial science and forensic psychology. I like to think I know a  little something about people; or at least I thought I did until Leah Jackson was found on the abandoned farmstead in rural Cass County. It should have been a slamdunk. It should have been wrapped up in a couple of days. But, things started to get complicated.

You have to understand, we live in a city where people rarely lock their doors at night. We pride ourselves on our low crime rate out here in North Dakota. We are people of a strong work ethic. We are people of integrity. We are a trusting people. Well, we were. The Leah Jackson case has definitely changed all of that.

There hadn't been an actual murder in fifty years -well before I was born. Mistakes were made. Evidence over-looked. And people, people are never who you think they are.

The case was a definite eye-opener for me. It's truly surprising what goes on behind closed doors; even in the most 'normal' of households. Normal. Normal doesn't really have a meaning for me anymore. Normal is only relevant to the person or persons involved.

And kids today. They are nothing like we were. I couldn't believe the absolute complacency regarding the murder of one of their friends. It seems like kids today have no concept on what it is to be dead; let alone murdered.

After the Leah Jackson murder, I learned a lot about life that I never studied in behavorial science, forensic psychology, or even from everyday existence.

The world has changed. The world has definitely changed.

The complete transcript of the case can be purchased in the Kindle Store under the title: "Sticks and Bones" authored by Donna R. Wood. If you read the book be prepared to be changed for life.

Thank you for letting me into your day.

Sticks and Bones

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Why E-Book?

Those of us in the Gen X generation have been trained to believe that the market works in one way and one way only - tradition. We've all heard the saying, "If it ain't broke; don't fix it." While deciding which direction to go I found that 'It' ain't broke.

Coming from a relatively conservative part of the country, I had a hard time tearing through the fabric of my being that requires bootstrapping, staying the course, believing in those who have more knowledge and experience - tradition.

While taking e-publishing under consideration I felt like it was a failure of the craft. It was the last resort to achieve a dream of bringing stories into the world. I was suffering the all to common tunnel vision that many of us in the Gen X generation have. Staying the course means moving forward on the path of tradition without consideration for the changes in the industry.

There is a term in the publishing industry used by everyone associated with writing. The term is "Slushpile". This being the multitude of unsolicited manuscripts, screenplays, short stories, articles, etc. that end up on the agent's or publisher's desk for acceptance or rejection.

Have you ever read the book, "Who Moved My Cheese?" by Dr. Spencer Johnson? Ladies and gentleman, the cheese has been moved. It has been moved so far that the plate, knife and fork have all been washed and put away. The cheese being the slushpile. The slushpile has been moved to the world market. You would think this would be a bad thing, but really it isn't. In fact, it's a very clever and fiscally responsible move on the part of the publishing houses. Let the market decide who they like and who they don't. Those with potential will rise to the top on their own. The publishing houses probably didn't make a conscious decision for this to happen, however it works.

The most difficult part of the decision to e-publishing is finding the courage to put your work out there for public praise or ridicule. The last thing on my mind right now is whether or not a publisher will read, "Sticks and Bones". The thing at the top of my mind is will the reading public read it? Will they like it?

Courage. That's what it really takes to be an author today. More courage than stuffing a manuscript in an envelope or clicking the send button on an email to some unknown recipient for critique. For acceptance or the devestation of rejection by one person's opinion. No, we need courage to put it out there for all to see.

Until next time, keep writing and never give up.

Sticks and Bones is available on

Sticks and Bones is now available for Kindle

I am proud to announce that "Sticks and Bones" is now available on for Kindle and Kindle applications for devices such as IPOD, IPAD, IPHONE, Blackberry, Android, PC and MAC.

It's true, sticks and stones can break bones; but words...words can break the whole person. The evil has been created; can Marcia Grant stop it?

Detective Marcia Grant is drawn into a world that wasn't covered in the behavioral science or criminal justice text books.

When Leah Jackson is reported missing and turns up dead on the abandoned farmstead of Clyde Jordaine, the most hated man in West Fargo, Detective Marcia Grant and the whole city of West Fargo are drawn into a world where nothing makes sense. Through the investigation, Detective Grant is drawn back into the dramas of high school-- the categories, abuses and social ladders to be climbed and clung too at all costs. Nothing had really changed since her own high school days in the 80s, except the technology boom of the internet, cell phones, and social networking internet sites.

The case is botched from the beginning. To make matters worse, Officer Jonathon Drake inadvertently lets Marcia know how he truly feels about her and quits his job in the field, leaving her with a rookie cop, and Arnie, a seasoned officer biding his time to retirement, to solve the case.