Books by Melissa Bowersock

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Finding Your Voice

How do you know when you’ve found your true voice? I write multi-genre, and I discovered a long time ago that the genre, or the story itself, demands the voice. I write softer, more descriptively, when I write romance. I write more directly and tersely with an action/adventure. I also write more directly when my protagonist is male, and more effusively when my protagonist is female. Back in 2013, I wrote more extensively about changing voices here.
But beyond the story suggesting a voice, how do you craft that voice? You do have choices, you know.
Most books (I would think 90% or more) use a past tenseHe ran up the hill. Whether due to this majority usage or my own proclivity, I feel like past tense is a logical mode for telling a story. I believe most of us use it when we tell our own stories, like recounting our trip to the grocery story.
“I was driving along, minding my own business, when this guy pulled out right in front of me …”
To my mind, this is a natural way to tell a story, since we are recounting something that happened in the past. There are some, however, who choose to use a present tenseHe runs up the hill. To tell you the truth, I have no idea why anyone would choose this method. I find it awkward and annoying. Perhaps these authors think the present tense lends an immediacy to their words or adds to the tension. Whenever I see it, the first thing I think of is a ten-year-old boy telling a whopper.
“So I’m just sitting there, you know, doing the reading assignment, and this guy behind me jams the corner of his notebook into my back and I yell. The teacher doesn’t see it, so she gets all mad at me…”
Just to round things out, there is, of course, future tense, but you hardly ever see He will run up the hill. Thank goodness.
First person means speaking from the narrator’s viewpoint. I ran up the hill. This establishes early on the single point of view for the entire story (unless your protagonist has ESP and can read minds). It’s a good device for delving into the emotional condition of your protagonist as it makes sense to describe and explain what s/he is thinking, feeling, planning. I used this in one of my books, and was happy enough with it, although it’s not what I use generally.
Second person is less about speaking from and more about speaking to. You ran up the hill. I believe this would be an awkward choice for a book, since every time you wrote something like, “You heard a sound outside and went to the window to see what it was,” your reader might easily be thinking, “No, I didn’t.” I’ve never seen anyone use second person throughout a book, but I do see it sprinkled in here and there, and I think that’s a mistake. Most of us primarily use third person (he ran, she ran), but will sometimes drop in something like, “He’s what you would call a geek,” or, “There were more of them than you could shake a stick at.” In movies, this is called breaking the fourth wall. This is when the character in the movie turns and faces the camera and speaks directly to the audience. At this point, the story-telling is interrupted and the feeling changes abruptly. The viewer or reader is suddenly pulled into the story rather than watching/reading from the outside. It can be effective, but it can also be annoying. In the above examples, I would use, “He’s what most people would call a geek,” or “There were more of them than anyone could shake a stick at,” in order to maintain the third person tense throughout.
Third person is what most of us use most of the time. He ran up the hill. This gives the author the ability to enter into the point of view of any of the characters at any time, providing more latitude to the story. That can, however, be overdone. If you’ve ever read a book where the point of view seems to change from one character to another paragraph by paragraph, the author is doing some serious head-hopping. As with any tool, this can be effective at times, but should be used in moderation. You don’t want your readers feeling like they’re watching a tennis match. See more about viewpoint basics and getting your PoVs right at each respective link.
Beyond these two prominent aspects of voice, the nuances are up to you. Match your voice to the characters, the location, the time, the feeling of the story and you’re on your way.
Originally published by Indies Unlimited on 11/4/2014.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Author Interview: Nancy Safford

Today I’m sitting down for a chat session with my friend Nancy Safford to talk about her new book. The book is called A Magdalene Awakens: Hidden Temple Secrets, and it’s quite a journey. Nancy, give us an overview of this very personal story.

NS: My journey began when I moved from the Northeast to the Southwest, to Sedona, AZ, aware my life was changing. Here I encountered, and learned, to navigate other realities as I stepped into shamanism. I soon became a “vortex” guide to help those wanting experiences in the famous energies of Sedona, before I was called to look into the deeper mysteries of my lost feminine self. Soon I was facilitating journeys, pilgrimages to southern France, to places where legacies of Mary Magdalene had long  ago been left. I began making discoveries of hidden thing, secrets, I could identify through my other visions. Being able to step between worlds, I made, what feels to be, several valuable discoveries. After years of being silent about them, I feel that it is now time for them to be revealed, in my book. 

 MJB: Sounds like time, indeed. What was your intent on writing this book? Was it to simply record your own experiences or was it to share your insight with others? What were your hopes for what this book could become? And did it succeed?

 NS: First, my intention in writing this book, was to reveal the secrets that I discovered hidden deep within an ancient temple in Southern France. But then I thought it might be important to tell my story, what I had to learn and experience along the way that would lead me to make my mystical discoveries.  Yes, I believe my book has succeeded in accomplishing what I wanted. 

MJB: I’m guessing this was quite a therapeutic journey, as well. Did you find that? Did the process of writing your story lead you to new discoveries?

 NS: Well, yes, my journey led me to a place where I had to surrender and  be vulnerable, a place no one wishes to stay long. This book helped me to see everything the way it was, record it, honor it, so I could then step out of it, knowing that I was complete with this part of my story. 

MJB: I've found that writing very often does that; puts everything into perspective. What would you consider the most challenging aspect of writing a personal story like this?

NS: Getting all my emotions into it and being honest with myself.

 MJB: I know you’ve got a lot of other interests. What else do you have going on?

 NS: I continue to facilitate sacred journeys to southern France, or take  private clients there, for those who want to explore the legacies of Mary  Magdalene, the Knights Templar or the Cathars. Each wants to discover What feels real to them his or her truth. I also have private clients who come to Sedona for a retreat with me, I offer women’s circles and  trainings, I do Shamanic healing work and  teaching and I offer  clairvoyant readings and past life regressions for people. 

MJB: Are you working on any new books? Any other ideas in your head, or down on paper?

 NS: Yes, I have another book. There is more to my story and more mysterious inner temple secrets to be revealed about the Rennes Le Chateau area of southern France, the same area that the “DaVinci Code” movie talks about.

MJB: And if people want to read more about you and your journey, how can they do that?

 NS: Yes… check below


Sunday, April 30, 2017

Author Interview: Bob Brawley

Today I’m sitting down with my buddy Bob Brawley to talk about his fascinating new non-fiction book called Adopted by the Amish. The title is pretty self-explanatory, but Bob, why don’t you give us a summary of what the book is about?

BB:  Adopted by the Amish is the true story about a young family’s pilgrimage from the modern world they knew into the highly restrictive, simplistic, sectarian world of the Old Order Amish. It is the story of a despondent and dispirited man, seeking to save his marriage from the free-fall that has left it in shambles, a man determined and committed to saving his marriage and reconnecting with God.

MJB: I think this is such a unique experience, especially in this day and age. What would you say were the main drivers that led you to try out such a different lifestyle? What was the draw, and what were you hoping that living in the Amish community could do for you?

BB: I joined the Old Order Amish seeking a better way of life for myself and my family. To reconnect with my faith, to take a step back in time when life was simple, uncomplicated and innocent, the way I remembered it was on my grandfather’s farm. This was my second marriage and I wanted, more than anything else in the world, to make it work. I thought that by removing myself and my family from the stressful world we knew we could re-discover life as it should be, the way it was meant to be, to find peace, harmony and happiness.

MJB: I think all of us can relate to looking for peace and happiness, especially in the turbulent world as it is today. Now, looking back on the experience from many years later, how do you feel about it? Was it worthwhile? What did you learn then that still resonates in your life now?

BB: I’ll be 73 next month, and as I grow older I find I spend more and more time reflecting on my life, my family, people I’ve met and things I would “do over” if I could. The thing I would not change, the thing that has had an ever-lasting impact on my life, is the special time I spent with the Old Order Amish. Even today, I find myself looking at the world through “Amish eyes,” remembering how simple and innocent the world was back then and how protected and secure I felt. I cherish the bonds I made with my Amish family and will forever hold dear the time I spent with these very special people, for that very brief moment in time.  

MJB: It sounds like it was a very special time, and it's surely beneficial that you are able to keep it alive in your heart. What would you consider the most challenging aspect of writing a personal story like this?

BB: Peeling back the many layers of my memories of living with the Amish I relive the struggles and the good times we had, the wonderful people we met and loved, and the feeling we had of being a part of a close-knit family. I sometime find myself wishing I could turn away from this life and return to those days, to once again sit in a horse drawn buggy and hear the clop, clop, clop of hoofs on the dirt road, to see my Amish family’s faces, to hear their voices, to breathe in the smells of a farm. The thought of it makes my heart hurt.

MJB: Setting such highly emotional times down on paper is obviously a very difficult task, but you've done an admirable job of it. I’m curious about the evolution of the book. Did you imagine writing it down as you were living it? Or did the idea to write it down come later? How long after the fact did you start writing, and was it easy to access your memories?

BB: I have never thought of myself as a writer, and did not think about writing this story until five years ago. It’s not that I hadn’t thought of the Amish and the time I lived among them. I had... In fact, I have maintained communications with them to this day. Accessing my memories of those special days has never presented a problem. I think about them most every day.

MJB: In my mind, the fact that you never thought of writing it down just goes to show how deep and compelling the experience was. Maybe you didn't think of yourself as a writer, but this was a story that had to be told. Are you working on any new books? Any other ideas in your head, or down on paper?

BB: I’m currently working on a memoir, “His Mother’s Son,” the honest and intimate story of a boy’s personal experiences and anguish as he and his family move from state to state and city to city, pursuing his mother’s dream of becoming a singing star. He was a boy desperately trying to find inner courage, his own identity and self-respect.

MJB: Sounds like another very emotional remembrance. You'll have to keep us posted on the progress of that one, as well. Now, let’s have a little fun here. Tell us three things about you that most people don’t know and would be surprised to learn.

BB: I worked as a cowboy on a ranch in Mustang, Oklahoma. I was a boxer and trained with world-rated amateur and professional fighters: three of which fought for world championships. I’ve driven the Alaska Highway seven times, six of which when it was still gravel. I competed in drag racing for many years.  

MJB: Obviously you are a multi-talented and multi-interested man! Thanks for sharing your story with us today, and if people want to find out more about you and your journey, how can they do that?

BB: I may be contacted by email:, or on Facebook at Bob Brawley.