Do you see what I see?

In the Globe and Mail not long ago there were pictures of two women who were so similar, they could have been the same person. At first glance, my overactive imagination leapt to the conclusion that they were. I envisioned a woman with a double life, maybe even two families, a female version of Jack Lyons in The Pilot’s Wife.

Subsequent investigation proved me wrong, as so often happens when my imagination takes over. The women’s similarity in appearance and the fact that the memorial notices were published on the same day was a simple coincidence.

Still, there may be a novel in what I thought I saw. One more idea for my File of Possible Plots. An advantage of having a healthy imagination is that this file is almost always overflowing. It’s well furnished with romantic, dramatic, and comic perspectives on things that were quite ordinary in real time. Hoof beats? It has to be zebras.

A disadvantage of an overactive imagination is the unproductive distortion of reality. It can cultivate fears when there is nothing to be fearful about. As quickly as I can imagine success, I can imagine failure. This makes it necessary to choose which vision I keep alive. What we achieve inwardly will change outer reality. (Plutarch)

When my imagination seizes a common and everyday event and embellishes it to be extraordinary, it’s decision time. Do I let it run loose or do I muzzle it?

Is your imagination a double-edged sword? Does it drive your creativity on one hand and discourage it on the other? How do you harness it for the maximum benefit?

Zebra picture from Wikimedia Commons: A zebra by Lunkwill

Memorial pictures from the Globe and Mail newspaper, Saturday March 19, 2016



Where am I?

In case you’re wondering where I’ve been lately, for the month of April I’m touring with Outback Promise. You can find me here:


Another day to celebrate!

Read any poetry lately? Monday March 21st 2016 is World Poetry Day.

From the United Nations website:

Poetry reaffirms our common humanity by revealing to us that individuals, everywhere in the world, share the same questions and feelings.

Poetry is the mainstay of oral tradition and, over centuries, can communicate the innermost values of diverse cultures. In celebrating World Poetry Day, March 21, UNESCO recognizes the unique ability of poetry to capture the creative spirit of the human mind.

Do you still remember poems or rhymes from childhood?

Occasionally I even try to write the stuff but almost everything I create is only suitable for personal consumption. Sort of like my attempt to bake perfect bread.

I wrote one poem, through the eyes of the protagonist of Outback Promise. I know it’s not bad because it was published in Quills Canadian Poetry Magazine before that publication started specializing in erotic verse.

This is Rosalyn’s voice, at age 25, before she leaves her hometown of Vancouver forever:

Upward Mobility

A raven squats on the peeling roof

crows boil by, bleating and scolding,

      as cherry blossoms strain in crusted-green captivity

I schlep my heavy backpack up the hill

away from the white-capped water

      toward the tired building where boiled cabbage

      and constant sorrow linger in the hallway

Sunshine sprawls on distant mountains.

I lift my eyes from the gray sidewalk

      In a shimmering window my reflection smiles back

          A stranger in my clothes.

So what are you doing for poetry day? Reading your old favourites? Scratching out a limerick or two?

Photo from Wikimedia Commons by: Linda Bailey

A Day to Celebrate


I spend a lot of time looking at screens. I write on my computer. I read books and check my social media accounts with a smart phone and a tablet.

A lot of my time is devoted to reading print: novels, non-fiction books, newspapers, magazines, and anything else that stirs my curiosity.

By the time I go to bed at night my eyes are begging for a res,t but the story-lover in me is not yet ready to sleep. Enter: audio books. Someone reads to me every night thanks to my local library and their brilliant collection of books.

Who do I read to? I read all my day’s work to my husband who is an intelligent and helpful listener.

Do you like being read to? Or do you prefer to read to someone else?


Who is helping you?

Lucky writers have a network of friends who keep them going in this isolated occupation that breeds self-doubt. Those writers usually make their luck by going to conferences, courses, and writing groups. There is another way too – the internet offers a lot of places to find like-minded friends.

Last year I met Tess Woods after I signed my contract with HarperCollins Australia. We’ve never met in person but have built a friendship over great distance.

Tess is a human dynamo. Not only does she work as physiotherapist in her busy family practice, she’s a mother of two. She has a passion for social justice and in 2014 started the Meals By Mums group that cooks nutritious meals for Perth’s homeless people. On top of that she maintains a kickass website, sends out monthly newsletters, and is working on her second novel. Her first critically-acclaimed novel Love at First Flight is being prepared for a print release in August 2016.

So I was thrilled to be featured on her March Book Club Pick this month. She has reviewed my novel Outback Promise and is giving away three copies of it. If you click on this link and leave a comment, you’ll be in the running for one of those free copies.

I’ve been blessed with some strong friendships through my short writing career. Tess is one more and I’m grateful that she made time in her busy schedule to put the spotlight on my book this month. Someday I hope I can repay her in some small way. In the meantime I try to pay the gifts of friendship forward.

Where have you found your best writing friends? How have you helped each other along the way?

What did it mean to you?

This meme been floating around the internet for some time: 

The fact is, once a work is published it’s fair and proper for everyone to have their own interpretation. Writing is art, after all. So if a book is well-written and thought-provoking, then it’s done its job.

Every so often a reader comes along who interprets my work the way it spoke to me. That doesn’t mean everyone else is wrong. They’re just different. And vive la différence – it makes the world a wonderful and diverse place.

This week The Bookfeed Blog summarized my personal interpretation of Outback Promise here, although I might have said examines in place of teaches:

Outback Promises teaches a lesson in cherishing what you have now, in this moment. It teaches you not to take your loved ones for granted. It shows that everyone has different ways of processing things and that communication really is key. The issues the couple face, are caused by both of them and I find that refreshing and realistic. Too many books these days bash men with all the blame falling on the male antagonist.

Bolitho does such a good job at demonstrating the reality of it all. Grief, love, relationships. I love that the trip isn’t all smooth sailing and that they meet so many obstacles and continue to overcome them.

The review ends with a warning that the book was emotionally draining for her. That’s reasonable, because isn’t that why we read? If we don’t want a roller coaster ride, what are we doing in the amusement park?

Now for something completely different - a cover reveal for The Warrior Prophet

I don't often have guest authors on my blog so I’m delighted to welcome back the talented Lisa Voisin. Today is the big reveal of the dramatic cover for THE WARRIOR PROPHET, the third book in Lisa's The Watcher Saga.

There is also an excellent giveaway included. You could win THE WATCHER and THE ANGEL KILLER, the first two books in the series, and an angel wing key chain.

Before we go any further, let’s look at that fantastic cover:


Mia Crawford is a prophet.

She can see angels. She also sees demons. Everywhere.

She knows the angels are preparing for war to get her fallen angel boyfriend, Michael, back.

A war that could take years.

Haunted by visions of Michael’s soul being tortured, Mia can’t rest until she knows he’s safe.

To save him, she must make an impossible journey through Hell. Her only guide is the one person she prayed she’d never see again.



Go to Lisa’s website to find out how to win the first TWO eBooks of The Watcher Saga: THE WATCHER and THE ANGEL KILLER PLUS this wonderful key chain.


While the angels battled outside, a ghoulish female demon pounded a crack in the protective structure around Michael’s hospital room with her fist. Her long, stringy black hair whipped over her face with each blow. She struck and struck until she hit the perfect angle. The structure cracked.

Her eyes glowed red and her skin was the color of black polished granite, wet with black slime. With a tearing sound, like ripping silk, the crevice grew. Her form as ragged and filmy as liquid smoke, she slipped into the crevice and poured herself through. I struggled to make a sigil of my own and managed to make the first cone. By the second, she was in my face. Her cold, dead stare mesmerized me and her shrieking pierced my eardrums. But when she reached a bony arm for Michael, I reconnected to the network and ignited the room, throwing her beyond my reach.

She picked herself up and circled the outer edges of my halo, inching closer to test it. I dropped Michael’s chart on the bedside table and flared my energy out further. My halo wasn’t as big or bright as when Michael and I had been connected, but I could hold her off. I had to.


Available April 13, 2016

Pre-Order it now:

Amazon Kindle

Amazon Print

Kobo (epub)

Barnes and Noble   

Add it on Goodreads 


About Lisa Voisin

A Canadian-born author, Lisa Voisin spent her childhood daydreaming and making up stories, but it was her love of reading and writing in her teens that drew her to Young Adult fiction.

Lisa is a technical writer, a meditation teacher, and the leader of the Lynn Valley Literary Society’s Young Writer’s Club, a writing group for teens. A self-proclaimed coffee lover, she can usually be found writing in a local café. When she's not writing, you'll find her meditating or hiking in the mountains.

Though she’s lived in several cities across Canada, she currently lives in Vancouver, B.C. with her fiancé and their two cats.

Find Lisa on Social Media

Twitter:  @lvoisin






The Watcher:

Series: The Watcher Saga #1


Millennia ago, he fell from heaven for her.

Can he face her without falling again?

Fascinated with ancient civilizations, seventeen-year-old Mia Crawford dreams of becoming an archaeologist. She also dreams of wings—soft and silent like snow—and somebody trying to steal them.

When a horrible creature appears out of thin air and attacks her, she knows Michael Fontaine is involved, though he claims to know nothing about it. Secretive and aloof, Michael evokes feelings in Mia that she doesn’t understand. Images of another time and place haunt her. She recognizes them—but not from any textbook.

In search of the truth, Mia discovers a past life of forbidden love, jealousy and revenge that tore an angel from Heaven and sent her to an early grave. Now that her soul has returned, does she have a chance at loving that angel again? Or will an age-old nemesis destroy them both?

Ancient history is only the beginning.

Buy Links:

Amazon Kindle 

Amazon Print 

Barnes and Noble Print:  




The Angel Killer

Series: The Watcher Saga #2


Now that she’s found him again, all Mia Crawford wants is some downtime with her fallen angel boyfriend, Michael. But the call of duty keeps him away—from school and from her—with more demons to smite than ever.

When Michael is mortally wounded by a cursed sword, Mia must perform an ancient blood ritual to save him. But the spell exacts a price. Haunted by visions of war, torture, and despair, Mia discovers the world is in more danger than she ever imagined. Behind the scenes, an evil adversary pulls all the strings.

After redemption, there’s Hell to pay.

Buy Links:

Amazon Kindle

Amazon Print 

Barnes & Noble print



What are you expecting?

Every thought we have is creating our futureLouise Hay.

Last year my husband and I ran a positive thinking experiment. Every evening, one or both of us noted a good memory of the day and stuffed it into an old Planters peanut jar. Recently we started reading some of those brief records of our lives just 12 months ago.

The Huffington Post cites scientific proof that optimism improves our lives. Other sources say it reduces rates of depression, lowers levels of stress, and even boosts our immune system.

Positive thinking doesn’t develop in a single day or a week. Like other things in life worth having, such as a good friend or a fine wine, it takes patience and practice to claim the prize. So we began with something small, notes in a jar. Sometimes we recorded things as simple as spring birdsong at dawn’s first light. Other days our joys were bigger and grander but the idea was simply to recognize that every day was a good day.

What small pleasures do you find in ordinary living? What role does optimism play in our ability to weather difficult times?

What's on your chicken list?

I have two TBR (to be read) lists.

The first is all the books I really, really, really want to read and already own. Many are in my eBook library and vie for my attention daily. The rest sit on the shelves beside my bed and are a constant physical reminder of the wonderful worlds that await me.

The other list is the classic books that I know I should read but have avoided for a number of reasons: 

  1. I worry I won’t be smart enough to understand the profound themes that make them so revered.

  2. I’m certain that the authors’ brilliance will wither my confidence and leave me unable to write.

  3. I dread the archaic language of some of the older books.

To put it bluntly I’ve avoided many books out of simple fear.

Prompted by the purchase of Steinbeck’s East of Eden in December, I’ve decided to go through my fear, not around it.   

Last month I read East of Eden and loved it. Yes, Steinbeck was brilliant. No, I will never write at his level. But I yellow-tagged dozens of pages to go back to and read again. There is so much to learn from his work.

This experience made me wonder: what am I missing in other classic novels in favour of something more contemporary?

Resolution: to balance my ‘should reads’ with my ‘want to reads.’

Do you have any reading resolutions for the 2016? How are they working out so far?

Photo from Wikimedia Commons: Baby meet Moominmama  3 Nov 05 by Phillip Capper

What's bugging you?

Manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others. If you have that awareness, you have good manners, no matter what fork you use. Emily Post.

Some sources even say that good manners will keep us in better health than our ruder acquaintances. Maybe they will. Or maybe they will just make other people feel a bit more respected in our daily dealings. That’s fine too.

What are your biggest gripes with people’s manners? Here are a few complaints I’ve come across lately. Some are mine. Others are the product of eavesdropping, one of my favourite pastimes:

  • People who eavesdrop.

  • People in stores who order salesclerks around like mininons. What happened to please?

  • Salesclerks who conclude transactions with either ‘no worries’ or ‘no problem.’ The customer could have spent their money elsewhere. Why would there be a problem? How about a simple thank you?

  • Sidewalk hogs. The ones that think they own that four feet piece of pavement. They and their mob of friends aren’t going to budge an inch for anyone.

  • Aisle blockers. They shop the way they walk, several people wide with no awareness of anyone else on the planet. If they meet friends, they make aisles impassable.

  • Cell phones not turned off in theatres and cinemas.

  • People who ask for things by email and then can’t be bothered with a simple TY response when they get what they want.

  • Lane blockers. You put your indicator on because you’re about to change lanes. The driver behind you accelerates to close the gap.

  • Litterbugs. Their coffee cups, plastic bags, gum wrappers, cigarette butts festoon city streets.

That’s the starting list but I had to stop. The last one makes my usually excellent blood pressure. When did our planet become on giant rubbish bin?

Still, I’m hopeful. I like to imagine what might happen if everyone turned on their most considerate and thoughtful behaviour. Maybe we’d see these results:

image from Triple M Sydney
  • Happier families and longer marriages.

  • A calmer society.

  • Less road rage.

  • Cheaper coffee.

  • The sun would shine every day. It would only rain between midnight and dawn.

Maybe not that last one but the rest aren’t beyond the realm of possibility.

What rude, self centered behaviour of others has tainted your day lately? How did you handle it?

Are you a young writer?

Here is a completion just for you:

2016 Valerie B-Taylor Young Writers Awards

The Federation of British Columbia Writers invites young writers (29 and under) to submit to our annual Valerie B-Taylor Young Writers Awards. Winners in each of three categories – – fiction, creative non-fiction and poetry – – will be published in the Fed’s quarterly magazine, WordWorks, as well as receiving a year’s membership in the FBCW and $100 in cash.

There is no submission fee!

Entries must be sent by email only. Detailed instructions are below. Judging will be blind.


The deadline for submission to the 2016 Valerie B-Taylor Young Writers Awards is midnight on February 17, 2016.


We have three wonderful final judges for 2016. For poetry: Leaf Press publisher and renowned Vancouver Island poet, Ursula Vaira. Fiction: 2014 Victoria Butler Book Prize winner and prolific author MAC Farrant.  Non-Fiction: Readers’ Digest author and award winning humourist Judy Millar.  Judges will pick winners in each of two age groups: 18 and under and 19-29.

See more information about the Judges Here. 


  • All submitted work must be original, unpublished, and not awaiting publication anywhere. Previously published is considered to be any appearance in print or online, including on or in a newspaper, newsletter, magazine, anthology, chapbook, book, website, electronic magazine, personal blog, Twitter, Facebook, etc.

  • All submissions are to be formatted in a serif or sans 12pt font, with margins of at least one inch. Acceptable file formats are .doc, docx and pdf.

  • Poetry – No more than three poems per entry; maximum length for each poem 50 lines (including spaces)

  • Short fiction and creative non-fiction – One story or article per entry with a maximum length of 1,500 words, double spaced. Short fiction may be a stand-alone excerpt from a longer work (Please indicate word count on front page).

  • Anonymity is preserved throughout the judging. Therefore please make sure your name/email does not appear anywhere on the manuscript.

  • Provide your complete contact information on a separate cover page that accompanies your entry. This page should include the following: (Please read carefully and make sure you follow, it is really helpful to us).

  1. Header: FBCW Valerie B-Taylor Youth Writing Awards (because we have another writing contest, “Literary Writes”, running concurrently and we don’t want to get the submissions mixed up.

  2. Age category and genre of your submission

  3. Title(s) of your submission

  4. Word or line count

  5. Your name, age, snail mail address and email

  6. Your telephone number.

    The winner will be notified by email. Following that, winners in each category will be announced on the FBCW web page and social media on March 17, 2016.

    Winning entries and a story on Literary Writes will be published in WordWorks.

    The FBCW reserves the right not to award a prize in a category should the judges feel there are not enough submissions to reach a meaningful decision.

    Note: It is not necessary to be a FBCW member to participate in Literary Writes. However, should you wish to join our writer network, you can join at the time of submission for a special rate of $20 (normally $25)



Guilty or Grateful?

From East of Eden by John Steinbeck:

The dry earth was ticking under the sun and the crickets rasped. “It’s real godforsaken country,” said Louis.

“Makes me feel mean,” said Adam.

“How’s that?”

“Well, I’m fixed so I don’t have to live on a place like this.”

“Me too, and I don’t feel mean. I’m just goddamn glad.”


Sometimes I feel guilty because I don’t have to live in the parts of the world where daily survival is a struggle. Guilt turns a person mean.

The accident of my birth in a prosperous, Western country can’t be changed. Instead I try to feel glad or grateful. Here are some of the things that made me grateful in 2015:

  • The Greater Victoria Public Library. Its seemingly inexhaustible resources of books, periodicals, movies, and music enrich my life.

  • HarperCollins Australia who contracted my novel Outback Promise and continue to help spread the word about it.

  • Great Plains Teen Fiction who continue to distribute my novel Lockdown.

  • All the wonderful people who read and / or bought my books.

  • The writing community at large who nudged me forward to helped me improve my writing.

  • The writers and readers whose well-timed encouragement kept me going. You know who you are.

  • My family and friends who continue to support of my writing caper and so much more.

  • My amazing husband whose capacity for joy and optimism encourages me every day.

I try to remember these simpler gifts also:

  • Life in a polite, orderly society where acts of terrorism or gun violence are minimal.

  • The miracles of computers and word processing that allow me to write with relative ease.

  • Having good quality food available within an easy walk of my front door.

  • The gift of electricity that fills my house with light and warmth.

  • Fresh water, hot or cold, that is delivered when I want it, with the twist of a tap.

Amy Morin tells us that gratitude has health benefits too. It seems intuitive. I know I feel better when guilt in my life is minimized.

How do you keep gratitude alive and guilt at bay? Are you feeling glad today or just a little bit mean?

 Photo from Wikimedia Commons: Rose in Winter in Tuscany by Waugsberg

More Buzz about the Book

Bree Testa gives Outback Promise 9/10 on her 1 girl…2 many books blog:

The thing that struck me most about this book was the reality of it. I had absolutely no trouble placing myself in Ros’s shoes and I could understand how such a devastating, senseless loss could cause a rift in the strongest of relationships.


I thought this book was fantastic. Amazingly well written and a deep and sensitive exploration of what must be a parent’s greatest tragedy.


From the Unshelfish book blog:

Bolitho masterfully penned an emotional read, you are invested from the start, you feel the pain, the depth of sorrow. Have your tissue box handy and prepare yourself for an emotional rollercoaster ride, quite a compelling journey.


Suze Lavender said:

[…] a unique story with a difficult topic which is captivating, gripping, emotional, honest and absolutely brilliant.


By Carol Cram on November 28, 2015 five out of five stars on Amazon

Outback Promise is one of those novels that stays with you long after you've read it. A heartbreaking story is woven into a story of redemption and hope.


From the Coffeeholic Bookworm:

It is a story about family, love, death, betrayal, financial crisis, acceptance and forgiveness. [...] the way the story was written was so beautiful and lyrical, I couldn't help but admire Maggie Bolitho

Does absence make the writing stronger?

A couple of weekends ago, we returned to our tiny place on Salt Spring Island (SSI). We hadn’t visited for eight months, because of the extended trip to Australia. What happened in our absence?

  • Spiders moved in, about 4,126 of them. They festooned the rooms with sticky webs and left their pencil-dot droppings under their favourite spots.

  • Weeds choked the front walk.

  • I forgot how the oven worked.

  • When the internet service restarted, the server no longer recognized our modem and vice versa.

  • Our neighbour’s dog forgot who we were and approached us warily.

Neglect was a show stopper as I found when I went to work:

  • My writing had become became slow and ponderous, as though trapped by spider silk.

  • Adverbs threatened to choke the narrative.

  • The discipline of daily writing had weakened.

  • I’d lost touch with some of my characters. Worse still I wasn’t using Scrivener or even a basic spreadsheet to track them. What colour were the protagonist’s eyes?

On the other side of that coin, taking a break delivered these parallel benefits:

  • We discovered we were hanging on to a lot of things we didn’t use. A big clean up ensued and a carload of gently used household items went to the local thrift shop.

  • My prose was thick with extraneous scenes and description. I was able to edit ruthlessly.

  • Coming back to a favourite place after a long absence, refreshed my love of SSI.

  • When I looked at work I hadn’t seen for months, I found quality writing that can be improved and sharpened for publication.

Have you ever stepped away from a place or project for an extended length of time? Was it a happy reunion when you came back?

What are they saying about Outback Promise?

Three weeks ago today, Outback Promise was released into the world. Here’s early some feedback from writers and book bloggers:

Highly recommended, character-driven reading.

…from the lovely Dianne Beth at Tome Tender, 5 out of 5 stars (22nd November 2015)

I was completely absorbed in the story all the time I was reading this book, and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys a well-written, contemporary, relationship-based drama.

….the talented writer & blogger Terry Tyler, 4.5 out of 5 stars (17th November 2015.)

A very sensitive read with a great couple that I was cheering for at the center.

…prolific blogger and author Samantha March, 3.5 out of 5 stars (11th November 2015)

I found many of the scenes confronting and emotionally touching - or more like emotionally punching.

…delightful book blogger Renee Conoulty 5 out of 5 stars (1st November 2015)

There are lots more reviews on Amazon, GoodReads and other fine book sites.

The raffle is over for this year - many thanks to everyone who entered

Congratulations to Janvhvi from India who is the first prize winner, of the $15 Amazon gift certificate, drawn randomly by Rafflecopter.

2nd to 6th place random winners, each of whom will each receive a copy of my ebook, Outback Promise, are:

  • Katie C

  • HaveBooks W

  • Nicole A

  • Jennifer R

  • Victoria T

Thank you to everyone who entered. With 214 people trying for the prizes, it was great to have Rafflecopter’s random draw feature. I couldn’t have decided without it!


It’s the season when spirits start to roam the earth again. Isn't that the perfect reason to stay inside a good book?

Where better to get a new book than at the Annual Spooktacular Giveaway Hop?  Many thanks to the amazing Kathy at I am a Reader Not a Writer for putting this together each year.

Click the link here for a list of participants offering reading-related prizes over the next fifteen days.

By clicking the Rafflecopter link below, you will be in the running for either an Amazon $15 gift certificate or one of five copies of my new e-book, Outback Promise.

My raffle is worldwide so enter now and enter often.



Are you giving thanks?

Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues it’s the parent of all the others – Marcus Tillius Cicero. Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day in Canada and I want to list some of the things I’m grateful for, in my writing life:

  • For all my writing friends who share their wealth of knowledge, read what I write in its unpolished form, offer encouragement and hold my feet to the fire when it’s necessary.

  • For all the people who have pre-ordered a copy of Outback Promise for delivery on November 1st.

  • The people who bought and read my book Lockdown. Double gratitude to those who logged into Amazon and / or Goodreads and left a favourable review.

  • For the publishers, Great Plains Teen Fiction, who took a chance on me and published Lockdown. Thank you to the entire team and Anita Daher in particular.

  • HarperCollins Australia contracted Outback Promise for release as in e-book. Thank you Rochelle Fernandez for seeing the potential. Thank you Dianne Blacklock for the edits that helped realize it. And artist Michelle Payne for delivering a gorgeous cover.

  • Friends and family who believe enough in me to encourage me on this road.  

My love of writing started, like most writers, with a love of reading. Long before I dreamed of writing a novel, I had these gifts:

  • I learned to read early and had access to a good public library.

  • Every Christmas until I was eighteen I received a gift from great aunt in England, whom I never met. But hardcover books, wrapped in thin brown paper with my name on them, arrived every December. There were few books in our home and I treasured these ones that were mine and mine alone.

  • Having an English teacher in grades 9 and 10 (RIP Peter Seale) who improved my appreciation for the beauty of language and literature.

John Milton said gratitude bestows reverence…changing forever how we experience life and the world. Do you believe that? What are you thankful for now and in the past? Who or what helps you on your chosen path?


Photo from Wikimedia Commons: Fall Colours in Canada by Vlad Livinov from Toronto