Heredity verses Environment

Lately, I’ve received several emails from readers asking how I came up with the basic premise of Breaking TWIG. Although various themes come up in the book (as they do in most books), the basic idea of environment verses heredity has long been debated.

In college, I majored in biology and English. I’ve always been interested in the issue of heredity verses environment, and which one has the most influence on a child. At times, Becky (Twig) worries that she has inherited her mother’s “picker” ways and her gene for chicanery, but she also thinks having one person who loves and believes in you is all a person needs to keep hope alive. I want readers of Breaking Twig to think about how love or the lack of love influences a child’s development into an adult.

I’m also often asked questions about the use of racially-charged words that are not politically correct in today’s society. These terms were typical of the language used in the Deep South in this time-frame (1960s-1970s), when traditions like segregation were colliding with Civil Rights, Integration, and Vietnam. Although I strive to be sensitive of the nature of these words, I feel my job as a writer is to be true to my characters in all their glory, their shortcomings, and their bias.  We’ve all heard the quotation, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” (George Santayana) I agree, and believe that only by remembering the past as it truly was as oppose to “sanitizing” it, can we learn history’s lessons.

My goal in writing is to tell a good story, one that shows my truth, that nobody is perfect, life is messy, and we all fail more often than we’d care to admit. But with faith, love, and perseverance, we can find the strength to continue toward our own truth with a bit more forgiveness and understanding for others and for ourselves. This is easier to do (I think) if you have a good dog by your side.

Thanks for stopping by.


Breaking TWIG ebook will be on sale for $0.99 from 04-24 through 04-27-2015

Breaking TWIG Available in ebook, paperback, and audiobook

   Breaking TWIG
Available in ebook, paperback, and audiobook



Lighthouse Keeping

by Karen Wills

My adored one and I just returned from a fourteen day road trip/excellent adventure. We saw many terrific things as we drove down the Pacific Coast, but I wound up falling in love at first sight with lighthouses. The first was the Haceda Head Lighthouse in Oregon, the perfect combination of beauty and utility. Red and white, appearing at a distance high above the rocky coastline where sea lions bobbed to feed in the waters that crashed in noisy waves around them.

Besides being picturesque, it’s an icon of comfort to the storm tossed, to those literally at sea. It is sturdy and, in spite of the sort of phallic inevitability of the tower, there is something both romantic and maternal in its purpose. It is shelter and light. We marveled at how hard all the lighthouse keepers and their families had to work to keep the beacon from the fresnel lens shining through the nights. It meant staying on watch until morning, keeping logs, maintaining food and repairs, educating children, hosting inspectors who did not give advance notice, and greeting curious visitors.

I think the truest authors try to be both beacons and lighthouse keepers. Writers’ work is to shed light on  what Robinson Jeffers calls “the honor and hardship of being human.” It’s often stormy business. Authors have to build, polish, repair, and maintain the structures that we strive to create. At our best we, too, can combine beauty and utility.

More on Reseach

By Marie F Martin

Last month I blogged about how research is a must tool in a writer’s bag.  For my new story, I discover I need a couple of my plus-seventy ladies to go to a shooting range.  The plot has one of the widows keeping her husband’s gun collection, hidden in a garment bag.

bag2 (2)

The plot thickens and my ladies must defend themselves so they unload the bag.  One of the gals needs to learn how to shoot .  Rifle locked and loaded they drive to a shooting range.rifle

That is the short explanation to set up my trip with faithful canine friend, Katy Lou.  The rifle range is north of town, out in the boonies.  Katy and I drive into the bowl of our valley on a country road named Farm to Market.  Ahead are alpine mountains cut with ski runs.  To the west are the lower mountains covered with the Flathead National Forest and to the east are the snowy peaks of Glacier Park touching the clear sky in a reverent way.  We can’t see to the south, but on such a bright sunny day the waters of Flathead Lake must be crystal blue.

I turned right onto Church Drive and follow it to Prairie View Road and turn north on the dirt road, working up into a forested foot hill.  My dog and I keep an eye out for signs directing the way to what I consider a newfangled shooting range.  The narrow road widens at the top of a hill.  A sign reads Clay target and 4-H shooting range.  I turn onto the muddy roadway leading down to the building and park in a wide spot where the gravel looks thicker.  I set and ponder the plot of my story.  I do not need to investigate the range closer.  I have now unlocked a new twist to my plot.  Research is the key.

Is This the Year?

By Ann Minnett

Spring came early to NW Montana in 2015. February resembled a typical April on our hilltop, and today, only a few snowy patches remain in the forest. The bald ground on which I’m thinking about building a studio asks me, So is this the year you build it?

Potential studio building site

           Potential studio building site

I’ve always wanted a separate studio in which to write, work on craft projects and not have to clean them up until finished, practice yoga, or take a quiet nap. But mostly a place of my own to write. My current office is a lovely space filled with my treasures. It is also the guestroom and repository for furniture and lamps that don’t fit anywhere else in the house.

Why am I dragging my feet on the studio project? The answer woke me a 5:00 a.m.

If I own a writing studio, then writing becomes an official and committed relationship. Having finished the first draft of my third novel just this week, the time is ripe to accept the fact…

My name is Ann, and I’m a writer.

Happy Spring!


By Kathy Dunnehoff

Well, this title is from the David Bowie song “Changes” which has been rolling around in my head for a while. It seems that I’m in one of those stages of life where a lot is changing, whether I want it to or not. Many of the changes, like spring springing, are good ones. I’m happy to be in a new decade of life and hope I get a bunch more. I’m happy that my girls are growing into amazing young women. I’m happy that my husband and I get date nights, and we only have to worry about the dog.

Some people are big fans of change. I have a friend who loves change so much, she sleeps different ways in her bed just to get another view. This is what I’d like to be able to do in the face of change…

“Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”  Lao Tzu

But instead of channeling ancient wisdom, I’m more of a Garth from the movie “Wayne’s World.” (Typical that I would feel like a low budget comedy.)

Wayne's world We Fear Change

I know, I know! I shouldn’t fear change. I should embrace it, celebrate it, get all Zen with it. And I will. Eventually. But for right now, I’m going to enjoy the change of winter to spring but drag my feet a little bit about everything else.

Happy Spring!


(If you’re interested in making a change in your writing life, I’ve got some classes coming up at Flathead Valley Community College and that won’t change 🙂

Writing in the Workplace     (1 session)

  • Grammar Refresher – April 28           12-1:30 p.m.                              $20
  • The Easy Writing System – May 5 12-1:30 p.m.                              $20
  • Editing Tips & Tricks – May 12 12-1:30 p.m.                              $20

Introduction to Screenwriting     (4 weeks)

Learn the fundamentals from ideas to scenes to understanding the basic structure of a screenplay.

Tuesdays               May 5-May 26                           6-8:30 p.m.                      $64

Everyday Creative Writing      (4 weeks)

With guided exercises, it’s easy to capture everyday creative writing.

Mondays                June 8-June 29                          2-4 p.m.                           $54

The Write Plan     (1 session)

Develop the business skills necessary to help your writing career succeed!  Learn to track finances, prioritize key resources and activities, and identify and utilize avenues to get to your readers.

Tuesday                 June 16                                     5:30-8:30 p.m.                 $45

Register online or call the Continuing Education Center (406) 756-3832