Vampires, Witches, Cat-Wizards, Oh-My! : Top 13 Adult Fiction Books for the Spooky Season

1 Zombies, Alchemy, Mausoleums, and… Amnesia?

After an explosion, Addie faces amnesia. On her journey to regain her memories, Addie must face the mysterious embodiment of fire. Is he responsible for the explosion that robbed her of her memories and destroyed the school of alchemy? Author Becca Andre’s urban fantasy novel The Final Formula is the start of an addictive series that will haunt you. Check out Becca’s Author Spotlight!

Ireland, Sorcery, Spirits, and Romance 2

The infamous Nora Roberts. The Dark Witch is a dark and beautiful tale with wickedly awesome magic. Iona moves from America, called by a magical family legacy to County Mayo, Ireland. An ancient evil that cursed her family threatens to take away everything. As she learns how to control her newly acquired power, her charmed cousins explore an old legend that might help them defeat their family curse. The one will tug at the heart-strings and feed that Halloween hunger.

3 Cat-Wizards, Kittens, Alternate Dimensions, Underground

Set in New York, author Diane Duane’s The Book of Night with Moon is an adult novel set in the YA Young Wizard’s series world. Wizard-cats charged with protecting the network of magical world-gates have a new initiate. Feline Rhiow has to mentor a wild kitten with magical powers while her partners and her try to stop the Lone Power. Duane will make you laugh -and cry- in this magical tale.

Time-travel, Vampires, Witches, and Academics 4

A Discovery of Witches by Debra Harkness has a legacy among readers. Diana Bishop, historian, can’t escape her paranormal heritage when she discovers a magical manuscript. Awakened power draws magical creatures into Diana’s life, including vampire geneticist, Matthew Clairmont. This work has dark corners and deep intellect. You’ll enjoy staying up until witching-hour with this book.

5 Circus Magic, Curses, Color and Mystery

Nocturnal Le Cirque des Rêves vanishes as quickly as it appears. Two illusionists are caught in a magical war decided for them. This picturesque tale The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern will seduce you with dinner parties and fantastically painted scenes. This is one grand, but doomed, circus act.

Zombie Apocalypse, Terror, and Secret Ops.  6

Voted #1 Zombie Novel of the Decade by the Barns and Noble’s blog, Rhiannon Frater’s The Last Bastion of the Living will keep you entrenched in science-fiction paranormal action. With humanity running out of food, Vanguard Maria Martinez is selected by the Science Warfare Division to defend the human race in a secret operation. The catch, she’s infected with the scourge. This terror filled read will appeal to all your senses this Halloween.

7 Royalty, Mystery, A Psychic, and the Blood of Innocents

Mina Hepsen’s Under the Blood Red Moon  is moody, sensual, and bursting at the seems with vampires. Telepathic Princess Angelica has a knack for getting into trouble. This time, she tumbles into a murderous plot. To escape the noise of all the thoughts of a ball’s attendees, Angelica finds refuge in conversation with Alexander. The Prince of the vampires, the telepathic princess realizes Alexander is in danger and works to unravel the mystery, putting her own life at risk.

A Mythical City, the Dead, and the Supernatural  8

The Book of the Dead (Secret Books of Paradys) by the recently deceased (2015) Tanith Lee is a compilation of short gothic stories of those who were buried in the lost city of Paradys. This is one of those books you’ll get nostalgic over: a scary-stories-around-the-fire-type of book. So grab this one and curl up by the flames with your favorite Halloween potion. It’s sure to raise spirits.

9 Werewolves, World War II, Spies, and Mythos

Written by Robert McCammon, The Wolf’s Hour is set in WWII. Russian spy Michael Gallatin is chosen to infiltrate the rising Nazi threat in France. He’s perfect for the job not only because of his talent as an operative, but also because he is uniquely qualified to hunt down the enemy. This distinctive take on werewolves will leave you howling for more.

Voodoo, Crime, Death, and a Detective 10

Detective Max Mingus has enough problems, but the disappearance of a billionaire’s son is the last case he wants to take on. Chasing the legend of voodoo spirit, Mr.Clarinet, Max finds himself struggling to keep himself alive in this Haiti set mystery thriller with pied piper overtones. Award-winning author Nick Stone’s Haitian heritage may have helped this novel win the numerous awards it received.

11 The Afterlife, Drunk Angels, A Pirate Ship, and Reapers

Really anything by Angela Roquet will fit on this list. Internationally acclaimed author wrote a comical, delicious tale about the afterlife through a reaper’s point of view. Graveyard Shift is the first novel in the Lana Harvey, Reapers Inc. series. The characterization of the Archangel Gabriel is hilariously wonderful. The narrative voice is smart and compellingly comical. Did I mention that is just in the first 10 pages? Author Spotlight!

Haunted Houses, Family, Secrets, and Silence 12

Told from aspiring author Trevor Riddell’s 14 year old point of view, this book sends shivers down the spine in the best way. As he explores Riddell House, secrets of his family’s past come to light in an era-bending, gripping story. A Sudden Light by Garth Stein has a separate website all to itself with extras like themes, characters, and artistic renderings of the Riddell House itself.

13 Psychic Detective, Steampunk, Mystery, and Tea

It may be set during Christmas, but the steampunk psychic detective novel will be sure the revive your ‘bump-in-the-night’ fears. As the bodies pile up, god-daughter to the Queen and forensic psychic reader Alexandrina Victoria Pendlebury gets more mystery and malevolence than she counted on. A Sherlockian, dark fantasy, steampunk thriller The Hanged Man (Her Majesty’s Psychic Service #1) by P.N. Elrod is a solid, festive choice.

 

Author Spotlight: Angela Roquet

Angela Roquet is an international bestselling author. Some of the books to her name include the Lana Harvey, Reapers Inc. Series, Crazy Ex-Ghoulfriend, Blood Moon and more. She is also a member/founder of the Four Horsemen of the Bookocalypse book critique group. What an honor to have such a prestigious writer! Welcome and thank you for joining us.

Thanks for inviting me!  : )

GRAVEYARD SHIFT is the first novel in the Lana Harvey, Reapers Inc. series.  It is FREE on Kindle, Nook, iBooks, Kobo, & more. I recently reviewed GRAVEYAR SHIFT on Goodreads. It is a comical and delicious take on Reapers and the afterlife.

  1. Tell us a bit about Graveyard Shift and the Lana Harvey, Reapers Inc. Series.

Graveyard Shift marks the beginning of Lana’s adventures in Limbo City, the capital of my fictional version of the afterlife, where deities of all faiths are forced to co-exist, much like we try to do here in the real world. We meet Lana at the end of a long stretch of peace, when a disgruntled deity begins to stir up a war. Lana’s just a low-risk soul harvester at Reapers Inc., and she doesn’t quite see her place in the grand scheme of things yet, but she’s getting there.

  1. Who is your favorite character from the first book?

I have a soft spot for the archangel Gabriel. He’s the best friend who just wants to have a good time. He doesn’t really have many expectations of Lana, so she can relax around him. He’s always up for a John Wayne marathon or a beer at Purgatory Lounge. Everyone needs a friend like that.

  1. What can’t that character live without?

His comfy, tattered drawstring pants, a case of Ambrosia Ale, and a bag of Cheetos.

  1. Tell us a little bit about your journey as an author.

As a young teen, I aspired to write for Disney or Cartoon Network, and I had notebooks full of scripts for shows I wanted to create. An English teacher my junior year of high school read one of those scripts and suggested I turn it into a novel. So from 17 to 21 I wrote my first novel. It was a fair deal harder than writing a script, but it was also more fun—even though that book was pretty terrible. It was also waaay too long, I found out after shopping it around to a few agents. At that point, I knew it was time to research the industry, and a few false starts later, I began writing Graveyard Shift.

  1. What do you love most about being an author?

Working from home in my PJs. Pretty sure my patronus is a hermit. It’s not that I don’t like people—I love social media, and I enjoy signings and conventions from time to time—I just really enjoy my solitude too. Also, no makeup, no bra, and I can listen to whatever weird music or background noise I want to. (Right now I’m loving this YouTube track that sounds like a creaky old pirate ship: https://youtu.be/3RTjHwJXxkA )

  1. What do you dislike most about being an author?

Deadlines. Does anyone like those? As an indie author, I set them for myself, but they still suck. Big time.

  1. Do you ever have moments of self-doubt or novel-doubt?

I’m pretty confident in my abilities as a writer—though I have to thank my lovely readers for that. The online reviews and emails I receive go a really long way in the confidence department. There’s always room to grow and something new to learn, but I don’t find that cause for self-doubt. That’s just part of life. The most exciting part, I think.

  1. Are there any unpublished manuscripts you have created? Will you ever publish them?

I think most writers have a well of lost plots they’d rather not revisit, and I’m no exception. lol. But there are a couple stories I’ve considered going back and revising. In fact, that very first, very terrible novel I wrote has found its way into my 5-year plan. I think I’m going to restructure it and break it up into a trilogy.

  1. Is there any piece of advice you would offer to other authors?

It’s the same thing almost every author says, but for good reason: READ. Read everything. Read books on writing, books in your genre, books in genres outside your comfort zone, nonfiction books, articles and blogs about books and about writing and about publishing… There is nothing that will help you more as an author than becoming a well-rounded reader.

  1. What would you like to tell or ask of your readers?

I’m pretty happy with my readers. I really can’t ask more of them. They leave online reviews, they email the kindest messages, and they tell their friends about my books. So I guess the only thing to tell them, which I do as often as possible, is thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

  1. What couldn’t you live without?

My family. First and foremost. My husband and son are my favorite people in the world, and I love spending time with them. If this is more of a “What would you take with you on a deserted island?” sort of questions, then I’d say a LifeStraw. But if there’s a fully stocked cabana nearby, then I’ll go with my Kindle. I really love having millions of books at my fingertips and still being able to travel light. It makes me feel like Merlin in the Sword in the Stone, with his magic suitcase.

  1. What is your favorite food?

Sushi with heaps of pickled ginger.

  1. If you could go back in time and meet anyone, who would it be?

Hmmm. I think the Byzantine Empress Theodora. I’ve always seen her as the original Cinderella, a true rags to riches story, but so much more than that. It would be interesting to see which version of her presented by historians was most accurate.

  1. Where can people find your books?

On Kindle, Nook, Kobo, iBooks, Smashwords—and a few other digital retailers. If you prefer physical books, they can be ordered through most bookstores, though I also sell autographed copies online here: https://squareup.com/store/limbocitygiftshop

  1. How can people contact and learn more about you?

I’m pretty active on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/adroquet but I also reply to readers via email too angela@angelaroquet.com  and if you’d like to know more about me and my books, you can find all of that on my website http://www.angelaroquet.com

  1. Is there anything you would like to add?

Thanks again for having me on your blog, and happy reading to everyone checking out Graveyard Shift for free. Hope you enjoy Lana’s adventures! 🙂

Life and Work Wellness for Authors: Five tips to help manage

Juggling multiple jobs, family life, and additional responsibilities (school, charity, elder-care, etc) on top of being self-employed as an author, editor, and consultant means a regular balancing act. I am no expert, but I have achieved a working peace with the Work-Life balance I have in my life now. The thing is, it keeps changing on me.

Many of us have long days that end in being overwhelmed. A typical day in the life of the average indie author may include: kids (sleep schedules, extracurricular activities, daycare, homework, health care, education, recreation, feeding, clothing, cleaning), parents and extended family (care for the elderly, errands, family get-togethers), ourselves (exercise, eating, sleep schedules, recreation), our partners (coordinating schedules, building relationships, quality time, emotional and psychological support), piled on to that are education, friends, errands, volunteering, repairing and maintaining dwellings, finances, pets, commuting, vehicle maintenance, work (deadlines, changes, restrictions, conflict, networking), self-publishing, writing, editing, working as our own publicist and accountant and not to mention the hundreds of passwords, pins, names, faces, emails, tasks, dates, events we need to remember. We feel at a loss as time passes us by.

Declutter. Our lives are filled with clutter that throw off our author work-life balance: thoughts, noise, stuff, schedules as full as possible in fear of missing out on something. Declutter your work space, declutter your home, your mind, heart and spirit. Let go of anything that is not serving you, anything that collects dust in the corners, that creates unnecessary work or that you are not willing to dedicate your time to. Check out Becoming Minimalist’s Blog for 10 Creative Ways to Declutter.

Set reasonable boundaries for your time. In the words of a wise comedian Bob Newhart, STOP it! Take a deep breath, exhale. Focus on what you are doing right now. Stop worrying about what is to come. Be aware of what you are looking at, doing, and saying fully, mindfully. In a world of multitasking mayhem, the art of focusing and finishing one thing at a time has been lost. Stop working through breaks and lunches, or skipping meals. If you are on a phone call, focus completely on that phone call. Slow down and become immersed in what you are experiencing right now. Set clear boundaries and don’t compromise yourself or your time for anything that isn’t a priority. Oprah offers great guidance about beginning to set personal boundaries. A lack of reasonable boundaries around your time is a sure-fire way to undermine work-life balance and increase your stress. It can be especially difficult for self-published authors who wear a dozen or more hats to get the job done, but trust me when I say your creativity and writing will thank you.

Plan and Prioritize. Take your days one at a time, but plan ahead. This may sound contradictory, and it is in a way. It’s a difficult practice. Plan and prioritize a strict sleep schedule, more time in the morning or evening for yourself, and quality time for your family and you. Plan meals in advance, this also helps save money and time on groceries. Plan and prioritize going outdoors and exercise. Prioritize and plan fun. But be open and flexible to changes. Stick to what is important and necessary at work, and at home. Mike Robbins offers 3 Ways to Re-Prioritize Your Life. Stuck on prioritizing at work when everything seems to be important? LiquidPlanner has a solution for you.

Learn to say NO without feeling guilty. To truly declutter our lives, we must learn to say no gently, but firmly. We can only handle so much in life. Is it healthy? Is the stress it brings manageable? Is it enjoyable? If it isn’t absolutely and truly necessary or important just say no. Don’t know how? Start with 11 steps from Wiki-How. Saying yes to too many things both at work and home is one of the biggest reasons people become off-balance.

Acceptance. Accept and respect that you have limits. Accept that there are things that you cannot change, that you cannot control (especially other people). Balance is a practice whether you are at work or home, accept that you will never achieve perfect balance. Adjust your focus, effort, and time that as your boundaries and priorities change and don’t feel guilt over it. Working yourself to exhaustion will lead to worse consequences down the road; not to mention, it will deprive your creative brain of the space it needs. GoodLifeCoaching Blog – Living the Creative Life offers a great article about accepting your limitations.

Author Spotlight: Becca Andre

Author Becca Andre joins me today. She has an interesting history: chemist, mother, wife and author. Ms. Andre recently released The Catalyst of Corruption, the fourth book of her wildly exciting, alchemy filled paranormal fantasy series.

Let me start by thanking you for this opportunity. Your series, The Final Formula has been inspirational and so much fun to read.

I understand The Final Formula series arose out of an exercise to write what you know. Your website offered a bit about your history, and it sounds like you have been writing for quite a while. Could you tell me a bit more about some of the key moments that helped you mature as a writer?

Becca: Yes, I have been writing for quite a while.  Decades, actually.  But for most of that time, writing was just a hobby.  Something I did to amuse myself with no serious thoughts toward publication.  Sure, I entertained the occasional fantasy about being a full-time writer, but I never pursued it—until I wrote The Final Formula.

As you mentioned, The Final Formula arose from a write-what-you-know exercise where I took my everyday world and gave it a magical twist.  I’m a chemist, so I made my main character an alchemist, and set my story in our modern world.  I really liked the finished product and for the first time, I wanted to share what I had written.

Since I live in a small town and didn’t know anyone else who wrote, I joined an online workshop.  I would credit that as the best thing I did on my journey to becoming an author.  By getting feedback on what I had written and learning to critique other writers, I began to see what worked and what didn’t.  I also made some great friends who I still rely on to beta-read for me.

All your characters are so interesting and well crafted. What process do you follow to create them?

I’m not the kind of writer who uses character sheets or writes loads of backstory about their characters before starting a story.  My characters are my story, and the two come into being by playing off each other.  Often, I’ll start with a character in a situation, or a pair of characters and build the story from there. The key is to work in conflict right from the start.  If I start with two characters, they’re going to be on opposite sides of an issue, or their personality types will naturally conflict.  Take Addie and Rowan for example.  She’s headstrong and confident, and he’s a control freak.  Throw them in a situation where they both think they’re right and…fireworks!

I do think there are some necessary skills that every writer should to develop in order to create believable characters that come to life on the page.  Two key components are natural sounding dialogue and portraying emotions honestly (no melodrama!).  The easiest way I find to do this is to put my characters in a situation and let them react.  When it feels like I’m just the scribe and they’re telling the story, I know it’s working.

 How many more books can we expect in The Final Formula series?

The plan for The Final Formula Series is five novels with a novella between each.  This is a slightly different take on the typical series format.  The novellas are part of the overall story, but they are told from a different point of view than the main novels.  Unfortunately, shorter works aren’t as popular with readers, so I can’t do as much with the novellas as I would like.

Published works require more than just an author. What sort of team members do you have to help you reach the final point of publishing a work?

Once I complete the first draft, I send it out for a couple rounds of beta-reads.  The first readers are fellow writers (whose work I beta-read in turn).  As writers themselves, they’re great at spotting problems with plot, pacing, and other places where I fall short in the craft department.  I address their concerns, then send the draft out to a second group of beta readers.  These folks tend to be avid readers and/or grammar junkies.  They’re great at catching my mistakes with story details, logic, and general grammatical shortcomings.  Once I fix all those problems, the book goes to my awesome editor, Shelley Holloway who fixes everything that’s left.  Finally, the gang over at Streetlight Graphics does my formatting and cover art (they also designed my website).

It sounds like you have quite a team! What do you love most about being an author?

Not having to leave the house?  😉  Seriously, my favorite part is interacting with readers.  It’s so cool that other people enjoy hanging out with my imaginary friends as much as I do.

What is the most important piece of advice you have for other writers and authors?

Write every day and once you feel comfortable with sharing what you’ve written, seek out feedback.  And by feedback, I mean from someone other than your mom or significant other.  Preferably other writers who are serious about their craft

What is one thing you couldn’t live without?

 Caffeine.

If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?

Do I have to pick just one place?  I love to travel.  It’s been our family goal to visit all fifty states here in the USA.  So far, Hubby and I have 48, and the kids have 46.  Outside mown country, I would love to see some of the famous landmarks/cities the world over.  Places that are geographically interesting or places that are steeped in history.  The list is endless.

What is your favorite TV show or movie?

I don’t watch much TV, although my son and I watch Ghost Adventures most weekends.  My favorite movie would have to be Pride & Prejudice – the 1995 BBC/A&E miniseries.  It’s a great adaptation of my favorite novel.

How can readers get their hands on The Final Formula series?

The Final Formula Series is available at most online retailers.  The first book, The Final Formula is free.

Last question. What is the best way for folks to get in touch with you?

Visit my website BeccaAndre.com, my Facebook page, or find me on Twitter   @AddledAlchemist.

Thank you Becca. It has been a pleasure getting to know you!

Thanks for having me, Catherine!

Well, that is all for now folks. I seriously recommend Becca’s books. I could not put them down. Take care out there!

These Are Not The Words You Are Looking For: Language, Creation, and Fiction

A recent article by the Encyclopædia Britannica identified 6 fictional languages. As a nerd, my reaction was How cool! But why learn an additional language, fictional or not? And for that matter, what does it take for masters like Tolkien to create languages? While I don’t have a linguistics background like Tolkien, I did do some research.

According to the Telegraph , several different psychological studies have investigated and identified the benefits of learning an additional language. These included not only the obvious social perks, but also improvements in thought processing and memory, intelligence levels, and observational and decision making skills. As well, by learning another language’s mechanics -tense, grammar, punctuation, phrasing, slang, pronunciations- individuals improve their first or initial language skills. After all, language learners can compare structures and gain a better understanding of mechanics between new and older languages. The article also claims that additional language learning improves multitasking development and can add an average of 4 years before a person’s onset of Alzheimer’s and dementia related disease.

I would guess that benefits aren’t exclusive to fictional, pictorial, and alphabet based languages. Numerical languages, like computer programming languages and mathematics offer the ability to communicate with machines, manipulate, and understand our world in alternative manners, for example.

Languages have been created or altered for as long as humans have existed  for many reasons such as alleviate isolation,  oppression, or communicate secretly like cryptic languages and codes or Nushu the women’s writing developed in China. Another unique linguistic development is sign languages and other non-verbal languages like body language.

Fictionally, creating a language adds a sense of reality or quality to the work. A language can solidify a new culture or race – like Gene Roddenberry did with Star Trek or Tolkien did in his Middle Earth.

If you’re curious as to the how part, we live in a world now where there is a wiki how for that.

In case you were wondering, I have created a language. It was done as an exercise for education not for an actual piece of fiction I have worked on or published yet. Here is the process I followed.

  1. Create a character or two.
  2. Consider: culture, origin, location, birth, family, setting (modern, ancient, fictional), sound, values of the culture and character(s), what does the character or culture communicate about? Maybe the character is an animal – consider how animals communicate now – body language, noises, chemically, psychically?
  3. Decide if your language is pictorial, alphabetical, or numerical.
  4. Create an alphabet.
  5. If you are using phonetics, grammar, special phrasing, tense, suffixes, pluralization, and conjugation – decide on some of the rules. If you want/have to – create a dictionary.
  6. Write a journal from the character’s point of view, in the new language for a few days, weeks, or even years.
  7. Further develop.

Additional steps could include grabbing friends who are nerdy and teach them the language, talk in the language, then work things out further. Store it in a special folder, book, or document. Season to taste.

What’s so Hard about Writing Anyway?

Writing is not an easy task. Especially for those of us writers with such an intense calling to the profession that to deny its call means physical discomfort, emotional turmoil, and psychological strain. You think raw talent, storytelling, and the imaginings inside your head are enough to make you a successful writer? Think again.

Let us start with the basics. The foundation of any writing endeavor is the language in which it is written. Language holds very technical components that are not always easy to navigate, from syntax and grammar, to rhythm and flow, to word choice or meaning, to placement and sound. Those terms you learned (or were supposed to learn) in school like plot, antagonist, protagonist, denouement, and tense are critical to a successful story. If you don’t have a grasp of your language’s structures and tools, you won’t be able to learn to manipulate them to create meaning, capture audiences, or take artistic licence. Which brings us to the second must-have for any aspiring writer: Creativity.


The majority of humans imagine from an early age. Children imagine invisible friends and invent stories. Imagination is part of the human condition and it is good for the development and conditioning of the mind. But creativity is so much more than imagination. Creativity is what grasps the seed of imagination and cares for it, shapes it, and guides it to grow into something more. Creativity is a process of careful consideration, discipline, and the utilization of tools developed over time. It is the artist’s goals and community coming together to solidify, communicate, and unify ideas and emotions.

Where creativity is the process which hones the spark of imagination, drive is what ensures you actually start and finish what you set out to do. Without drive or will power, you can’t overcome those lonely moments where self-doubt creeps in and you are tempted to destroy the work you’ve done or just give up. Writing requires commitment and something deeper than just creativity to keep you going in the darkness. Often this will be a message that must be shared, a calling, or a curiosity to see it through.

Perhaps the most important aspect of writing is the company a writer keeps. Community – those you surround yourself with before, during, and after the writing process – is what ensures the success of your writing. The people who support and encourage you, who offer honest feedback, who inspire and guide your work, will be the people that ensure the success of anything you write. Without community, your writing is never as good as it could be. Errors are missed that affect your story’s message and appeal. Your work never reaches its audience. Without a strong community, your work will could be limited to the confines of your own imagination.

And those are only the basics. Then you have to develop and refine these basics through years of study, practice, and mistakes before you reach success. Writing includes character construction, exposition, setting, and structure. It includes learning how to engage with your audience, how to market and sell your work and your skills as a writer. It includes using your own experiences to inform your writing. It requires research, revisions, and determining how you measure success. It requires self-awareness and a willingness to learn. It includes an understanding the publishing industry and knowing the rights, regulations, and risks of a writer in your country. Writing is hundreds of hours of review, revision, and rewriting.

In professional writing there are no quick wins or easy paths to success. There is an unending supply of trial and error. It isn’t an anybody-can-do-it profession, contrary to what the cheap e-books or blogs or online magazines would have you believe. A successful career as a writer is difficult; it is work. It can also be a great deal of fun, but only if you are willing to put in the effort required to succeed. Yes, it is possible. Yes, it is absolutely amazing to be able to create stories out of your imagination. No, it is not easy to be a writer. But if you believe the work is worth it, it can be a very rewarding profession.

Fiction to Function: Stories that Heal

Stories are medicine.
—Clarissa Pinkola Estes

Our lives are filled with challenges, changes, and problems to be solved. These difficulties can become great crucibles, when we get stuck thinking or feeling. Perhaps, like me, you are faced with an event so traumatic that your mind and body relive it in the attempt to process, solve and prevent. When you are thinking and feeling and reliving, sometimes you get caught in an unhealthy cycle too close to the issue and can’t move forward.

As a form of escape, my young self took up story making. I turned people, problems, and events in my life into dragons, magicians and mermaids, castles, oceans, and valleys. I turned problems into journeys and fairy tales. It helped me to heal. The process of fictionalizing gave me a new perspective: one where I could escape a tumult of thoughts and emotions, create order, and find solutions. One where I began to see stories everywhere and that led me to my passion for writing. It wasn’t until recently, I discovered that many native traditions, spiritualities, religions, therapists, and counselors often use similar techniques in their practice to inspire growth and promote healing.

Creating stories may come easily to you, or it may be a struggle. But hopefully, I can guide you through a few steps to get your creative mind working and help you on your path to health and balance.

First things first—embrace your imagination. These stories are your own creations. They don’t have to be shared with anyone; they don’t have to be “good” or accurate. They don’t have to be written, they can be drawn, or just imagined. They can be stick people, they can be bullet points. They are a way for you to remove yourself from the situation and imagine it from multiple perspectives.

Creating stories is an act of mindfulness. Focus on the task at hand and accept without judgment what you create. Make sure you have a few minutes to brainstorm and create quietly and uninterrupted. Maybe during a coffee break, late at night when you can’t sleep, early in the morning, or even while you are in the shower.

You need a character or maybe two or three. These characters should have differing personalities and can have strange ideas about the world. Writers often use stock characters, or characters that they can continuously rename, reuse, or rewrite. For example, you can most likely recognize the superhero, the villain, or the damsel in books, movies, and other stories you encounter. Try creating your own stock of characters. You can also turn animals or inanimate objects into characters. Maybe you have a favourite type of tree or a pet that would work well.

Next you need a problem to solve or place to go. How do they get there? What type of solutions might a pirate come up with as opposed to the class-clown, hero, or villain? Imagine how your characters might react—how would lettuce negotiate with the rabbit that is consuming it?

To be a story, you must start and end. But you don’t have to start at the beginning or end with a solution. It could start in the middle and you could discover, as I have, that perhaps the only solution is there is no solution and the issue should just be left alone or left behind.

This is your healing journey; be gentle with yourself. Often we can be the worst critics of our selves. This isn’t something you have to do, have to do well, or have to do a certain way. This could be a need for you, a desire, or simply a curiosity to create a story. Treat it like it is just something to do. The less you expect of yourself, the more open and creative you may become. And here is a trick I have discovered over the years. Our minds naturally create stories about what we are doing, what happens to us, what the weather is like, coming up with whys, could-haves, should-haves, and what-ifs. It’s like fighting fire with fire, except with stories.

What stories can you come up with? What stories has your mind already created? Have fun with the process and don’t forget to infuse a little humour into every tale. And if you feel comfortable, maybe invite others into your story-making process. Make a family night of starting and finishing each other’s stories. Children are amazing at adding twists and turns and new characters to a tale and they infuse child-like humour into many fictitious encounters. You’ll be surprised what you uncover and learn!