Karen Vaughan, Musings, Writing Process


I had a plan, or so I thought. I finally decided that Nigel Holmes was going to get a story. It would be a sequel to HOLMES IN AMERICA; HOLMES SWEET HOME-Where he goes back to the UK to solve the mystery of his cousins disappearance. It was great! I had set up my dashboard on the NanoWriMo site. I had the plot, the excerpt set up and ready to go.

working cover holmes sweet Home.jpg   Becomes  NEVER ALONE COVER.jpg

Then my muse informed me, yes informed me, why?  because shes a snarky sarcastic bitch who could give Sassy Sarcasm a run for her money. I digress so this muse had another idea. I listened but was ready to shut her down with the reasoning that poor Nigel has been waiting oh so patiently for the last two years for another story. (picture poor sad Nigel )

Image result for bitchy muse


I made my argument but little miss Sassy pants would not be swayed. So it was back to the Nano site for my novel and changed everything. (Are you happy now?) It’s a great story this new one. It’s about a woman who lost her husband to murder the year before and goes to California to visit her brother. A friend of his is visiting as well. Ted his a hunky middle-aged actor from Australia who is also morning the loss of his wife. You see where this is going right? The two people commiserate, make friends and eventually love blooms with an HEA to rival Cinderella.

Scratch that! Enter Scott Masterson. Caseys neighbor back home in Canada. Scott is in love with Casey and admits the fact before she leaves on vacation. He urges her to think about it while she’s soaking up the sun. She says she will but clearly she feels awkward about it stating she isn’t ready for love.

Scott lets her go hoping she’ll change her mind about him. He’s not a patient man so he starts to harass her through texts and calls. Whats a girl to do?  Changing her number only enrages him and he goes into full stalker mode.  And Boom my simple romance has turned into a romantic suspense! Thank you Scott! Not. I decided I was gonna make him pay for this.  My two main characters fall into lust and love with each other while trying to evade the jealous maniac making their lives hell.

I am only demonstrating that the muse and the characters of a particular story are in charge. You are just the typist and the vehicle for the storytelling. Picture yourself in the drivers seat of a car going full speed ahead. The car has no breaks and your hands are tied behind your back. The characters are steering the story and the muse has put the peddle to the metal. You would be wise to embrace this because if you even try to exert your will in a story it will not end well. Let the characters tell it. It’s their job. Telling the story their way makes them more three dimensional.

My story is moving along nicely. I am more than 80% finished. The other night Ted the hunky Aussie said he had more to say through out the story.  We were only hearing Casey’s thoughts so I have let him express himself. See I do listen to my characters.  I am happy because the enemy was dealt with and the happy couple will get their happy ending!

comedy writing, humor, Karen Vaughan, Uncategorized


Life is easy Comedy is hard!

Finding a funny concept that can be relate-able to the audience can be a challenge. You have to strike a balance between laugh out loud hilarious  and not offend anyone. Some comedians don’t care.

So here are some tips for writing comedy.

according to:


Step 1: Establish a funny concept

To start, come up with a funny concept based around your own personal experiences or observations. This could be something as simple as your insecurities at the gym, or getting licked by a passenger on the subway, or how your boyfriend’s obsession with fidget spinners is causing you to rethink… everything. If the thought genuinely makes you laugh, then it’s worth trying out.

For me a funny concept involved getting hearing aids this year.  I marvelled how i could hear grass grow one blade at a time.  The first time I put them in my husband asked “Can you hear me now?  He assumed i couldn’t but I really just wasn’t listening.

I also pick on my ex.  Yeah he’s a good target and a good sport. At the end of our marriage he declared I was dysfunctional. Yeah that was a head-scratcher. How come it took him nine years to figure that out.

I have also been known known to talk about the various meds I take and the side effects. They make me feel like the four horsemen of the apocalypse and some of the 7 dwarves -Sleepy, Grumpy, Dopey and their menopausal cousin Bitchy. I want a side effect that causes extreme sexiness.

I always try the jokes out on friends and family before I perform.  Don’t over think the jokes.  If you thought it was funny go with it.  The audience will tell you soon enough if they are good.


According to: http://hermes.webster.edu/mercukat/threeparts.html


Setup, Reinforcement, and Payoff.

A future event, normally insignificant, suddenly has meaning.

  • It must not be recognizable as a set-up.
  • It must be part of the story.
  • It cannot be an entirely negative event. If it involves a defeat for the hero, it must have at its core some positive quality.


    In longer jokes, a series of events create a humorous situation extending from the premise. Jokes are extended through escalation and exaggeration. In the Wile E. Coyote cartoons, the joke is entirely about the reinforcement.
    Escalation: something that starts out simple gets more complicated, and the clown gets tangled up or carried away in the situation. Rather than simple solutions to catching the Roadrunner, Wile E. Coyote comes up with more and more ridiculous contraptions to capture the Roadrunner, always failing.


The resolution, incorporates the “twist.”

  • It must be an emotionally rewarding and meaningful experience for the public, ideally providing a euphoric rush.
  • It makes sense because of the setup.


Okay let’s break down one of my jokes. Let’s take the one about side effects.

Set up: I hate my meds. The side effects are horrible.

Reinforcement: They make me feel like the four horsemen of the apocalypse and some of the 7 dwarves -Sleepy, Grumpy, Dopey and their menopausal cousin Bitchy.

Payoff: I am waiting for one that causes extreme sexiness.


Timing & Delivery


How a joke is delivered is critical. Many a good joke can be ruined by telling it too fast, too slowly, or bumbling the pacing of the joke. Why is timing and delivery important?

  • The pace and rhythm of the joke being told, creates a momentum.
  • Skipping a beat before and after the punchline allows the audience to anticipate the punchline, and then to laugh without missing part of the next joke.
  • Comics should practice putting the emphasis on different syllables to find the right delivery.

I hate my meds. The side effects are horrible. Emphase  the word horrible even exaggerate it  horrrrrible


They make me feel like the four horsemen of the apocalypse and some of the 7 dwarves -Sleepy, Grumpy, Dopey and their menopausal cousin Bitchy.


I am waiting for one that causes extreme sexiness.

Ok so some tips from my personal experience

Don’t be hurt if the joke doesn’t fly the first time. take it home and tweak it.

Practice so the delivery is second nature. I watched hours of stand up comedy to get it right.  It was entertaining homework.

Next time we’ll talk about putting humor into novels.

Cereal Authors, Karen Vaughan, Short Stories, Uncategorized


Today i was listening to the oldies station and an old Leslie Gore song came on. It’s my party.   my imagination went into overdrive and I thought of a whole new scenario. What if?…



It’s 9 AM Saturday, October 13. Is my 17th birthday and tonight I am throwing a huge party for myself to celebrate.

My boyfriend John called me last night and told me he had a huge surprise for me. I wonder what. A promise ring? Maybe.

I got up and showered then I must’ve spent an hour picking out a killer outfit for later on. Johnny’s not gonna know what hit him!

Downstairs, mom was waiting for me. “Happy birthday!”

“Thanks, mom!” I looked around “where’s dad?”

“I sent him on an errand. He’ll be back soon. So, what are your birthday plans?”

“Judy and I are heading to the mall. I need new runners for gym class then she needs help looking for an outfit to wear tonight God knows why she’s got a closet full of clothes.”

Mom smiled “sounds like fun but don’t take too long. Were heading out the chance for dinner at 6 PM.”

“It’s okay. I’ll be home around four to get ready for dinner.” I hugged my mom and then left.

I met Judy at the food court and we sat there while discussing our plan of action. “First we had spore checks so I can get my running shoes, then we will find you a heart outfit for my party.”

“Sounds like a plan.” Judy replied, “hey, Johnny ever say what he wanted to tell you tonight?”

I shook my head “no, he said it was a big surprise.”

“You mean he didn’t give you any hints at all?”

“Not one. He drives me crazy sometimes!”

“At that will be something nice,” Judy replied

“it better be killer for keeping me in suspense like this.” I got my new runners with no trouble so we were on the hunt for Judy’s knock him dead dress. It was a barely-there dress that covered her but well maybe if she bent over she’d be showing everyone what she had to offer. Okay so my friend was a slutty dresser but who am I to judge. I’ve been known to dress for effect too.

“Whoa, baby! That will get someone’s attention.”

“That’s my plan.” Judy smiled mischievously.

Now she had me “who?”

“Nope, not telling!”

“Bitch!” I said laughing

“love you too Leslie.” She laughed, blowing me a kiss. “I gotta get motoring. Mom and dad are taking me out for dinner.”

“Okay well, I’ll see you at eight then.” Judy hugged me and then walked away.

Dinner with my parents was cool. Dad handed me the keys to them as they usually drove. I was incredulous I looked at him and said: “you mean it’s mine?”

“Yep. I just took possession I knew SUV that far as yours for you to use your senior Leslie and you need your own wheels. The only deal is no speeding, texting or any accidents. New baby for the gas and we will cover the insurance.”

I jumped up and hugged him. “Thanks, daddy you’re the best!” I was stoked I had my own car no more asking for the keys when I wanted to go out. Wait until I tell Johnny!

When we got home at 730 John was sitting in his car on our driveway. He got out and kissed me demurely in front of my parents. They said hello and return and reminded me I had to change for the party. We went inside and John waited in the living room while I went upstairs. When I was ready I came down and sat beside him. “Okay, I’m dying here. What’s the big secret?”

He shook his head and chuckled “not yet wait till the party.”

In mock fury, I punched his arm “meanie!”

“Ouch, that hurts you have a mean left hook!”

That’s what you get for keeping me waiting. This better be good!”

My guest trickled in starting at 8 o’clock Judy showed up last and had every male guest staring at her including my guy.

“Get your eyes back in your head John!” I said with a sneer.

“What? Oh yeah sorry, Leslie.”

“You better be!” I was not impressed with my man ogling my bestie.

“Well yeah she looks great but you look better!”

“That’s more like it Dexter!” I smiled at him.

Around 9 o’clock we gathered so I could open presents. I got some cool stuff when it came time for opening John’s present he was nowhere to be found in Judy was missing too.

Hmm, maybe she’s helping him with the surprise. I thought to myself.

I made boldly and things people for their gifts while I waited I danced with a few of the guys but still no Johnny or Judy. I excused myself and went upstairs. My parents were in the family room off the kitchen watching TV. Neither Johnny or Judy were in the living room so I chose to go outside and see if they were near his car. Nothing. Where were they? Just as I was asking myself that I heard some giggling from the backyard. It sounded an awful lot like Judy. She wasn’t alone! I heard some guy reply back to her and much to my surprise it was my guy!

I took a deep breath approached the gate and barged into their private soirée.

What the hell! I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. 

Both of them just looked at me laughed and yelled “surprise!”

I was surprised alright and very angry. I couldn’t find my voice at that moment so I just turned on my heel and went back out front. I leaned up against the garage trying to catch my breath so I wouldn’t hyperventilate. You’re not gonna cry Leslie you’re stronger than this!  I got my bearings and went into the house I knew exactly what I needed to do. I looked around to make sure I was alone and then headed upstairs. I knew where my father kept his gun. It was in a safe I knew the combination to as it was mom’s birthday. Don’t ask me how I know that, I just do.

I worked the combination on the safe in his closet. I saw the gun sitting there and hesitated. The angel on my right shoulder was saying no doubt this is not the way this all things. The debt one my left shoulder was saying go for it you know you want to. The devil won. The angel said nothing knowing I was making the hugest mistake of my life. At that moment I didn’t care I just wanted sweet revenge. I tucked the gun into my jeans under my sweater.

I was coming down the stairs when mom met me at the base. “Where were you Leslie people are asking?”

“Sorry I just need a breather and to check out something upstairs. I’m fine I’m going back down now.” She said okay and return to the den.

I returned to the rec room where the party was in progress. People asked where I had been I just sell I just needed some air. Just then, I spotted my prey in the corner. Both John and Judy were standing in the corner blatantly holding hands. I spied a shiny rock on her finger. I was supposed to be my promise ring. If you’re asking me if I saw a red, yes damn Skippy I did and I was ready to take action.

I sauntered over to where they were standing grinning from ear to ear. “Well, I have to hand it to you that was some surprise! And I have to tell you, that was really low why choose my birthday party to let me know what was going on? Never mind I really don’t want to know it is what it is you two are cheating scumbags and I’m done with you both!”

I was loud enough so that people around me could hear. “Gather around folks about to tell you a little story about deception and betrayal.  These two here were caught red-handed in the backyard doing what they do others Discovery Channel.  Imagine my surprise when I saw my boyfriend of two years and my best friend since kindergarten doing the horizontal mambo on my parents swing.

John spoke up “geez Leslie did you have to tell the whole room?” Can we go outside and talk about this like civilized human beings.

“That’s too funny John you’re calling yourself civilized when I caught you doing my BFF. How long is this been going on? No nevermind I really don’t want to know but here’s what I think. I’m pretty sure now that I recall you to work conveniently busy when I asked you to join me at my parent’s cottage this summer. Yeah, you are you busy alright. Just then I could take no more neither one of them said anything to me they just stared.  It was time.

I pulled my gun and aimed it at them. people scattered.

John pleaded with me. “No Leslie don’t do this. I get that you’re pissed at me and Judy this is no way to solve anything.”

“Shut it, John! I want to hear any of your excuses.  okay, whose idea was it? That I can tell you had your eyes all over Judy when she stepped into my hallway with that almost dress. I swear that thing is a wardrobe malfunction waiting for a place to happen.” I was having a good time with this make them squirm I thought.

“It was Judy’s idea!” John blurted out.

“Classy move Dexter. Go ahead throw your new girlfriend under the bus.”

Judy just looked at the backstabbing ass hat. “Don’t listen to him. He said he was waiting for you to you know put-out. Said he wanted a real woman! I was only too happy to oblige.”

The people on the X files were right the truth is out there and I was staring at right in the face. I boyfriend and my backstabbing best were about to get what was coming to them.

With two shots that penetrated both their hearts, they fell on each other.

I parents came down to investigate the noise and saw me holding the gun. Dad grabbed it.

Mom spun me around. “Why Leslie, why?”

“It’s my party and I’ll kill if I want to!













Flash Fiction, humor, Karen Vaughan, Uncategorized



43130981_2193615660907631_988609679498149888_nBURIED WITH ATTITUDE

I MADE A WEIRD REQUEST IN MY LIVING WILL TO BE BURIED WITH BOTH MIDDLE FINGERS EXTENDED. The lawyer thought I was nuts to ask for such a thing. He said he would do it as I was the one forking out all that cash to put toward his billable hours. 

“Ms. Burris, why do you want to be remembered as the woman who flipped the double bird at her loved ones?”

Loved ones? Ha, that’s a joke. Sit back Mr. Chips let me tell you a story.

Okay. I’m not gonna lie. This request has me intrigued.”

The so-called loved ones have been a pain in my ass for the last 40 years. I feel its appropriate to leave this world showing all of them how I really feel.”

Surely things can’t be that bad.”

I assure you they can be. First of all, I was given up for adoption as a baby. I spent the first 10 years of my life in foster care.  I was a paycheck to those losers who were more interested in getting drunk and getting lucky than taking care of a child who needed love.  Finally, I found what I thought was a real family when I was almost 11.  They didn’t want a child of the house, they wanted a maid.  I was scrubbing floors and cooking meals.  Despite all that I managed all A’s and tried to make them proud of me.

“Did it work?”

“Hell no. They didn’t care. They just wondered where the next meal was coming from and who would do the laundry.  Mommy dearest was a stinking drunk and daddy was never around because he was too busy working to pay for her habit.”  Neither of them ever thanked me for anything. It was expected.

So what did you do? “

At sixteen I graduated from high school as I had worked my ass off taking A.P. courses. I went off to the university on a full scholarship to Stanford. Yes, Stanford! It was as far away as I could have gotten from those thankless leeches!  I was alone, yes but I was no longer any one’s fool. I graduated from Stanford med at the age of 22 the youngest doctor ever. 

Surely somewhere you would have found happiness?

For a while, I did. I met a nice boy in college. He seemed perfect…

But what…? The lawyer inquired.

“Mr. Perfect turned out to be a cheating sod.”

He cheated on you? How awful!

Damn straight. He cheated on me, his exams and his taxes. Don’t worry sir I got even. “

What did you do?”

First of all, I reported him to the university, the IRS and then I left his sorry ass at the altar.”

“Good for you!”

“I got some satisfaction from that but once again I was alone and very bitter. I didn’t trust any man for a very long time afterward.”

“But something changed…”

“Yes, I found a new man who I thought would cherish me forever.”

“Did he?”

For some time we were very happy. We got married and had 2 beautiful children. My medical career was doing well and I was a sought out oncologist with a vast save rate. I was happier than I ever was before. That was until…”

Until what Ms. Burris?”

I started losing patients. I was sued for malpractice and I found out my partner in my practice was stealing money and patients by telling them I was a hack. He sabotaged my career Mr. Chips!!! I was thrown out of the hospital and denied privileges anywhere else. I lost everything I worked so damn hard for.”

I sympathize  Ms. Burris but what does that have to do with wanting to be posed like that in your coffin?”

“Hang on Mr. Chips I am getting to that!”

“Sorry, carry on.”

After my humiliation at the hands of the medical community, my devoted husband and my two beautiful children turned their backs on dear old Cynthia.  He only cherished my money and the children are spoiled entitled brats.”

“I see.”

“That’s not all Mr. Chips. The final straw was delivered to me by my oncologist this morning. I have stage four Lymphoma and was told to get my affairs in order post-haste. I only have 3 months at the most. “

“I am so very sorry Ms. Burris. My condolences in advance but I still don’t see…”

Right ok, here it is in a nutshell. This is just one way I am saying screw you to all who have mistreated me in the past.  Let them see for themselves how I really feel.”

“what’s the other?”

“My will Mr. Chips. I am leaving my estate such as it is to charity. The ingrate and the spoiled brats are getting squat!”

The lawyer smiled and replied “Well played, Ms. Burris, well played!”





Article, Writing Process


So one day you decide you’re going to sit down and write a book

First you decide whether its going to be

  • Fiction–what kind of fiction-romance, mystery, fantasy, sci-fi or even horror.
  • Non-fiction- how-to manuals, biography, autobiographies
  • poetry-collection of your works

Ok so you’ve decided to tackle the great american novel, now what

you must decide on the following

  1. characters
  2. plot
  3. timeline –time period
  4.  setting.
  5. descriptions

Don’t write to get rich. Write a story that you as a reader would love to read! 

A personal story–When I decided I was going to write a story based on a dream I had I had no idea where it was going to go but i knew it was a mystery and that it would be something I would buy and read.  The plot was a simple whodunit and why?

My characters were a woman in her midthirties, adrift in life after a divorce and does temp work until a real job comes along.  She finds a dead guy on her livingroom floor and she knows him from the place she is temping at.  How did he get there? who killed him and put him there, and why her apartment.

Enter the hunky building manager, Gerry.  Laura our heroine knew him from high school as he played football with her exhusband.  Gerry wonders why Laura is entertaining a dead dude–Laura thinks he’s pranking her.

The police are called and time to meet Jeff Gibbons, the lead detective on the case. He is by the book and follows procedure.   Det. Gibbons doesn’t believe she is guilty but has to follow protocol.

Lauras mom and dad. Mom is nagging her to move out of her seedy apartment, closer to home. she is the quintessential catholic mom. Laying on guilt to get her way, also trying to fix Laura up with any Tom Dick or Harry with a medical or Law degree.

Lauras dad-sits and reads the paper and tells his wife to lay off the nagging and guilt trips and is there to support his daughter no matter what.

Time-line- this is a modern day story. I started the story in 2005  so thats when it was set.

Setting-Toronto and area to include Scarborough, Etobicoke and the area.

Description–It’s a subjective choice. You need to paint a picture for the reader. what the characters were wearing, hair, eye colour etc. describe the setting of the room or scene outside.  I am a minimalist in this area and I don’t believe in fancy 15 dollar words when a straight forward 5 dollar one will suffice.  I prefer dialogue to tell the story in each scene.   

A scene from Dead on Arrival involving dialogue


“What in hell’s name is that horrible stench?”  Gerry stopped short, quickly noticing the dead dude on the carpet.  He quickly held the edge of his work shirt over his mouth and nose.  I was sorely tempted to gag again. The stoicism I exhibited was slowly dissipating and being replaced by panic.  What if the killer came back, and decided to finish me off? 

 “Okay Gerry,” I said, “cut the crap!  How did you get Velcro’s’ body in here?” “What do ya mean how? You mean you think I did this, thanks a lot!” he said, somewhat pissed.

“This wasn’t your handy-work?”

“No! Why would you think I would do such a horrid thing?”

“Not sure really; maybe because you and Ray have the only keys besides me, and you love practical jokes.”

“Yeah, I do, but nothing this heinous! My practical jokes are more of an April fool’s kind of gag.  Besides I don’t even know him.”

“Okay. I’m sorry I’m just trying to figure out how and why he got here. Furthermore he is wrecking my rug! “I know it’s odd to worry about a frigging rug right now but this is how I deal with stressful situations. I ignore the obvious problem, and settle for something mundane and harmless to worry about.  Okay so enough about the damned rug.  I focused on the corpse once again.


As I don’t do ‘cool nonchalance’ well, I retorted, “Gee good point I practically fell over him on my way out of the bedroom.” 

“Didn’t it occur to you at some point during the night, that there was a rotting corpse in the middle of your living room?” Gerry asked.

“For one thing, I sleep with my bedroom door closed and my air conditioning on; and second, I was so tired after this weekend; I just came in and flopped. I didn’t even realize

I had a guest, dead or alive.”   

“Well regardless of all that, we have to call this in.” Gerry got out his mobile and dialled 911.  It was definitely classed as an emergency.     


 I suddenly realized I probably had a lot of explaining to do. In fact, I was in deeper shit that I wanted to admit to myself.  I dreaded facing the local constabulary on this one. Picturing the headline, ‘Local girl kills debt collector in living room’ the guilt was flooding in, and I hadn’t done anything … yet. This thought was followed by what I thought my parents’ obituary might be, when they found out my predicament, ‘Man dies suddenly of a major coronary, directly preceded by death of wife due to gross shame”.   The reality of the situation was really starting to get to me.  I don’t look good in prison orange.


“So do you know John Doe?” 

“UH, yeah I do actually.”

“Did your date go that badly?”

“He wasn’t a date!” In fact I wouldn’t even have classified Hodges as a friend.  The shock was starting to wear off, and I could start to feel weak in the knees. Gerry caught me, as I was about to go down.  I love a mystery as much as the next person, but not in real life. Gerry guided me to the couch and forced my head between my knees. Shock had truly set in, as well as morbid disgust, and revulsion. This had to be the weirdest situation I have ever been in.

There was a knock at the door again and it was the police. 

The lead inspector and the crime scene unit converged on my building at once. Immediately, my home sweet apartment becomes a crime scene, confirmed by the usual crime scene yellow tape. The coroner waited outside until the initial investigation was finished.




KAREN ebook.jpg


Terri decided she needed to have some of the fruit and a piece of the rich dark chocolate from the gift basket as the wine was kicking her ass. She was halfway through the carafe of wine already, and at this rate, she’d be downright snockered by the time Sylvie arrived. Terri held off having another glass of wine until Sylvie arrived to share with her. Instead, she took a drink of water along with the snacks.

For the evening, Terri had chosen a form fitting, fire engine red, knee length dress which accentuated all her curves. Paired up with four-inch stilettos, she could pass for a runway model. She wore her hair in a side braid and inserted black onyx earrings to finish off the look. Man. You’re dressing like you got a date or something, she said to herself. She was right. It was a date with her best friend. Why not look nice? Just as she was finishing putting on her makeup, she started to feel nauseous and a tad dizzy. Her vision was fuzzy, and she found it hard to navigate her way across the living room, especially in the heels. She started bobbing and weaving like a drunkard. I was right. That was way too much wine for one person, and I am a bit of a lightweight in that area. Halfway across the room, she lost her balance totally and went flying in to the glass top coffee table, crashing through it. Somewhere along the way, she had begun to convulse uncontrollably. She hit the floor with glass sticking out of her head and foam around her mouth. She was dead within seconds.





JENNY BURKE ON DESCRIPTION AND WORLD BUILDING-Many writers ignore the senses of smell, touch, and taste. Using more senses pulls you into the story.

Karen Vaughan, Sassy Sarcasm, Uncategorized







dead_mean_dont_swing_2 (2).jpg


Mrs. Fitz, a moment please.”

A moment with Stella would ensure a parking spot on the football field. Instead I painted on a face and did fake graciousness to the hilt.

“Just one I am running late for class.”

“Too much nooky will do that.”

“Stella, your point…?”

“Yes …right. I just wanted to express condolences for the nasty find in the dumpster last night.  Glad it was you and not one of our senior residents.”

“Well there are nasty parts of every job, Stella. Now if you will excuse me I have to find a spot in the parking lot at school. I have a test to write. If we can discuss this later, whatever this is I will happy to lend you an ear.”

“Humph, aren’t you a bit long in the tooth for school?”

“More to life than collecting rent ma’am.”



I went down the hall to the laundry room. I couldn’t even fathom doing a load before checking the traps and washing out all the machines before using one. I was just putting my loads in when Stella flounced in. I gave her a look that said “Don’t start lady.” She’s either dense or doesn’t care and got on my case about the eulogy.

“Ya know Stella, you can shove your eulogy. I don’t know the guy. The other tenants aren’t being forthcoming with details except for stuff I refuse to put in a tribute to the dead man. I also don’t have the time for this crap and it’s not my job.”


“Well if it isn’t Mrs. Fitz? Who’s your little friend dear?

If Elaine had been in any shape, Stella would have been on her back on the floor. Luckily for both of them, the cab pulled up and honked. Elaine shot Stella a filthy look and stumbled out to the taxi.

“Not much of a conversationalist. You really need to pick politer friends dear.”

I was sorely aching to tell her off but I suppressed the urge to tear her a superfluous opening. I waved and walked back to the apartment while counting to ten and praying for strength.


“Hey Myrna what’s up?” I was trying to ignore the elephant in the hallway.

“Laura, you know this person?” Myrna said pointing to Stella behind her.

“Yes I do unfortunately. Stella, what are you doing here? Weren’t you locked up in a prison somewhere?”

“I got out!” She was smiling smugly.

“Out? Stella, you killed your husband! How could they let you out? It’s only been nine months!

Stella smirked and said “my lawyer appealed and we won!”

Myrna piped up with “he’s probably a shyster!”

I suppressed a chuckle and asked Myrna “what seems to be the problem?

Myrna replied “this woman and on my door demanding to come in and look around. She claims she lived here before!”

I sighed. “Yes Myrna there goes Larry was Stella’s ex-husband.”

Dumbfounded, Myrna turned to Stella. “So you’re the nagging so and so he complains about!”

“Wait! Stella uttered “Larry, dead Larry, talks to you?”

Myrna smiled wickedly “yes and the things he tells me!”


Article, Karen Vaughan, Literary, writer's life, Writing Process


You probably learned them in middle school but how many writers remember the  literary terms?  In the next few articles I will review some of these terms.

Literary devices are techniques that writers use to create a special and pointed effect in their writing, to convey information, and/or to help the reader understand the piece on a deeper level. These devices are often used for emphasis or clarity; they are also used to get the reader to more strongly connect with either the story as a whole or specific characters, themes, etc.


Okay let’s go!



An allegory is a story that is used to represent a more general message about real-life (historical) issues and/or events. It is typically an entire book, novel, play, etc.

Image result for GEORGE ORWELLS ANIMAL FARMExample: George Orwell’s dystopian book Animal Farm is an allegory for the events preceding the Russian Revolution and the Stalinist era in early 20th century Russia. In the story, animals on a farm practice animalism, which is essentially communism. Many characters correspond to actual historical figures: Old Major represents both the founder of communism Karl Marx and the Russian communist leader Vladimir Lenin; the farmer, Mr. Jones, is the Russian Czar; the boar Napoleon stands for Joseph Stalin; and the pig Snowball represents Leon Trotsky.





A flashback is an interruption in a narrative that depicts events that have already occurred, either before the present time or before the time at which the narration takes place. This device is often used to give the reader more background information and details about specific characters, events, plot points, and so on.

Image result for wuthering heightsExample: Most of the novel Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë is a flashback from the point of view of the housekeeper, Nelly Dean, as she engages in a conversation with a visitor named Lockwood. In this story, Nelly narrates Catherine Earnshaw’s and Heathcliff’s childhoods, the pair’s budding romance, and their tragic demise.








Foreshadowing is when an author indirectly hints at—through things such as dialogue, description, or characters’ actions—what’s to come later on in the story. This device is often used to introduce tension to a narrative.

Image result for FICTIONAL ACCOUNT OF AMELIA EARHARTExample: Say you’re reading a fictionalized account of Amelia Earhart. Before she embarks on her (what we know to be unfortunate) plane ride, a friend says to her, “Be safe. Wouldn’t want you getting lost—or worse.” This line would be an example of foreshadowing because it implies that something bad (“or worse”) will happen to Earhart.









Irony is when a statement is used to express an opposite meaning than the one literally expressed by it. There are three types of irony in literature:

  • Verbal irony: When someone says something but means the opposite (similar to sarcasm).
  • Situational irony: When something happens that’s the opposite of what was expected or intended to happen.
  • Dramatic irony: When the audience is aware of the true intentions or outcomes, while the characters are not. As a result, certain actions and/or events take on different meanings for the audience than they do for the characters involved.








Hi Karen, I wouldn’t have discovered your wonderful, quirky-humoured mystery books if you had not entered (and won) a recent Review Blog prize draw, starting us both talking. Now I am hooked and I am reading them as fast as I can buy them and I thought it was a good idea to talk to you here and introduce you to a much wider audience.

First things first I am sure there is a question that you have always longed to be asked. Now is the chance. Ask your own question and answer it! 

MY QUESTION FOR ME? What would I do for a Klondike bar?? Do an open mike comedy night
(She is serious, folks! Has anyone heard her sing? Maybe we should just club together and buy her one!)
What would I do with it once I got it???-eat it of course!

If your latest book HOLMES IN AMERICA- was adapted into a TV show or a film, who would you like to play the lead role?
I would put Ricky Gervais in the lead role because Nigel Holmes is as politically incorrect as he is!

What made you choose this genre?  I have always loved mysteries and I love comedy so I thought I would combine them.
How do you get ideas for plots and characters? In my head, really, and people have given me some really neat ideas that I might use.
If, as a one off, (and you could guarantee publication!) you could write anything you wanted, is there another genre you would love to work with and do you already have a budding plot line in mind?
I have got a few romance/romantic suspense stories in progress.

Was becoming a writer a conscious decision or something that you drifted into (or even something so compelling that it could not be denied?) How old were you when you first started to write seriously.
It was a huge drift. I was home sick and very bored. I started writing what is now ‘Deadon Arrival’ in 2005 and just kept going – it’s like potato chips; you can’t just eat one!
Marmite? Love it or hate it? MAKES NASTY HACKING SOUNDS—UM HATE IT. (No need to be polite, Karen, say what you really think!!!)
Do you have any rituals and routines when writing? Your favourite cup for example or ‘that’ piece of music…??
My ‘Please don’t annoy the author’ mug, full of coffee or tea. 70s Classic rock or oldies.

I promise I won’t tell them the answer to this, but when you are writing, who is more important, your family or your characters?
Characters rule!
Other than writing full time, what would be your dream job?
Stand up comedian. I am also an author/book promoter.
Coffee or tea? Red or white?
Both coffee and tea-sorry can’t choose. Red as it is bold and vibrant like my characters

How much of your work is planned before you start? Do you have a full draft or let it find its way? I write by the seat of my pants  -my characters write it I am just the typist

If you had free choice over the font your book is printed in, what font/fonts would you choose? COMIC SANS MS

Imagine that you could get hold of any original source document. What would it be?Romeo and Juliette.

Have any of your characters ever shocked you and gone off on their own adventure leaving you scratching your head??? If so how did you cope with that!? I had it planned in my nano last year – Playing Dead – that the thugs would abduct my protagonists, but one of them took off and made a deal with the badasses.

How much research do you do and do you ever go on research trips?

Not much, I am lazy -LOL- mostly online, but I did go down to Toronto to research one area that would play a prominent part of the story!

Fiction authors have to contend with real characters invading our stories. Are there any ‘real’ characters you have been tempted to prematurely kill off or ignore because you just don’t like them or they spoil the plot?

My editor has a nemesis named Stella so after hearing stories about her I gave her a part but she is so annoying I had her kill her ex husband and sent her off to jail. I have killed off a few people on paper that just needed it.

Are you prepared to go away from the known facts for the sake of the story and if so how do you get around this?

It’s called creative license I believe. I get close to the truth but the facts get warped sometimes

Do you find that the lines between fact and fiction sometimes become blurred? Truth is stranger than fiction sometimes.

Have you ever totally hated or fallen in love with one of your characters?

I love Jeff Gibbons, my cop in my series; he is married but a girl can dream.

What do you enjoy reading for pleasure? It’s easier to say what I don’t like — HORROR!

What drink would you recommend drinking whilst reading your latest book?

I don’t recommend drinking anything as you might spit it out while laughing, but wine is good.

Last but not least… favourite author? James Patterson, Jonathan Kellerman and many more


Your answers have been as fun and funny as your books, Karen, so now I will tell people a bit about you:
Karen Vaughan lives in Peterborough Ontario with her husband Jim and a cat named JJ. She is the mom of a 26-year-old daughter and four grown stepchildren, a newborn granddaughter and a 6-year-old grandson named Izak who could very well be smarter than a fifth grader. DEAD COMIC STANDING is her second novel. Her first novel DEAD ON ARRIVAL garnered praise from friends, family, and online gamers. She also enjoys doing crafts and other hobbies. Her third book and sequel to DEAD ON ARRIVAL is called OVER HER DEAD BODY. DAYTONA DEAD is the third in that series and was released in May 2013. Other than writing Karen loves to read, do crafts and play online games. Currently, she hosts an internet radio show called WRITERS ROUND TABLE since January the 14th, 2014. She has a quirky sense of humor and shows this in her mysteries and her side hobby of stand-up comedy. DEAD MEN DON’T SWING AND JAMAICA DEAD WERE PUBLISHED in January 2015. LEFT FOR DEAD AND HOLMES IN AMERICA WERE PUBLISHED IN 2016. Karen is currently working on her 7th book in the Laura and Gerry series DEAD TO WRITES.    


© Diana Milne January 2017 © Karen Vaughan February 2017



Memories of Diana by Dellani Oakes


Like Karen, I was also fortunate enough to be interviewed by Diana. Before, and after, we shared many a laugh. I loved her sense of humor and love of a good, sarcastic turn of phrase. We had more than one conversation simply finding the laughs in life. Though I never had the chance to meet her in person, her passing has left a deep void in my life. I shall miss her.

Below is her interview with me, when I released my anthology, The Lone Wolf Tales. If you’d like to visit her page The Review, and read it there, click here.

I am sure that you are tired of being asked the usual questions that would be interviewers ask authors, so hopefully this interview is an interview with a difference and I have come up with some unusual questions!

First things first I am sure there is a question that you have always longed to be asked. Now is the chance. Ask your own question and answer it!

If you could kiss any man in the universe (or furry alien, we don’t want to discriminate) who would it be?

If I could be assured I wouldn’t get my head removed from my body by his wife, I’d have to say Wil VanLipsig, the Lone Wolf. He’s wickedly sexy, dangerously handsome and everything a woman could want—provided she wants a man who knows a thousand ways to kill and disable his enemies.

What is the genre you are best known for?

I’m best known for my romantic suspense, but I also write retro-romance, fantasy and sci-fi. All of these are layered with a little love, because I’m romantic at heart.

If your latest book, The Lone Wolf Tales, was adapted into a TV show or a film, who would you like to play the lead role?

This is a series of short stories, but the majority of them are centered around Wil VanLipsig, the Lone Wolf. I’ve gone through many permutations over the years, but I’d love to see Warren Christie take on the role.

What made you choose this genre?

I’ve been a sci-fi fan since I was in the third grade. I picked up a copy of Starman’s Son by Andre Norton at the local library, and fell in love with the feel of it. I love the freedom of sci-fi because I can go anywhere, do anything, make any kind of interesting alien I want. Sentient ships? I’ve got them. Giant, talking, mercenary cats? I’ve got them too. Want a talking asteroid? Look no further. One planet has every fantasy creature you can imagine, and others you’d never thought of. What’s not to love?

How do you get ideas for plots and characters?

I’ve gotten ideas from mud puddles, cars in traffic, visits to a museum, dreams, conversations, weird things that happened to me…. Basically, life is an inspiration.

Favourite picture or work of art?

I have to pick just one? I can’t think of any single famous work of art that speaks to me above all others. However, a picture that I love is the one I took of my 8 year old granddaughter holding her baby sister for the first time, and giving her a kiss.

If, as a one off, (and you could guarantee publication!) you could write anything you wanted, is there another genre you would love to work with and do you already have a budding plot line in mind?

As a matter of fact, I’m working on a ghost story. It’s not something I ever imagined I would write. It’s taking me a long time, because I can’t work on it at night, only during the day. It’s creeping me out too much. (Silly, I know)

Was becoming a writer a conscious decision or something that you drifted into (or even something so compelling that it could not be denied?) How old were you when you first started to write seriously.

I first started by telling stories when I was four and my older sister started school. I made up tales of Rainbow School and told my mother about it every morning. Later, I progressed to (horrible) poetry. As I grew older, song parodies and humorous essays became my thing. I soon fell in love with short stories. In college, it was plays. By the time I married, had children and started working, I didn’t have time for writing, but the urge was still there. When I moved to Florida and visited St. Augustine for the first time, the voices wouldn’t stay silent any longer. I started to write my historical novel, Indian Summer, as a result.

Marmite? Love it or hate it?

I’ve never tried it, but a dear friend of mine (from Manchester) let me smell it once and tried to convince me to have it on toast. It smelled like old socks. I wasn’t a fan.

Do you have any rituals and routines when writing? Your favourite cup for example or ‘that’ piece of music…??

I usually sit down with my ice water and hit the keys. However, when writing my 2016 NaNo book, I had certain songs I simply had to hear before I could start to write. It was rather disconcerting to have my creativity hinge on something else like that. However, it was a great book and will be published sometime in November.

I promise I won’t tell them the answer to this, but when you are writing, who is more important, your family or your characters?

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten dinner on the table late or nearly forgot to pick up my kids from school. I’m glad they’re grown now and can feed themselves and provide their own transportation. They got used to me saying, “Let me just finish this sentence (paragraph, page) and I’ll get you a glass of water.”

Other than writing full time, what would be your dream job?

Making my books into movies.

Coffee or tea? Red or white?

Coffee, always. I do like tea, but I prefer it cold most of the time. I used to say a dry red wine was my favorite, but then I had chemo for breast cancer 7 years ago, and I can’t handle that any more. I have to drink a semi-sweet white now.

How much of your work is planned before you start? Do you have a full draft or let it find its way?

I don’t plan anything. I usually don’t even have a title. The words start flowing, the characters walk in and introduce themselves, and the plot goes where it goes. I tried outlining, but that got out of hand quickly. I decided if I were going to spend so much time on an outline, I might as well just write.

If you had free choice over the font your book is printed in, what font/fonts would you choose?

I’m old school, I like the clarity of Times New Roman. It’s easy to read and neutral. For me, a funky font is distracting. I’d rather have something clear and not fussy, like Times, Ariel or even Trebuchet.

Imagine that you could get hold of any original source document. What would it be?

Anything written by William Shakespeare. (Except Titus Andronicus, because that’s crap)

Have any of your characters ever shocked you and gone off on their own adventure leaving you scratching your head??? If so how did you cope with that!?

Every time I write, my characters jet off on their own. I latch onto their shirt tails and enjoy the ride. I don’t try to curtail them because then the story goes off the tracks.

How much research do you do and do you ever go on research trips?

For my sci-fi, it’s rare that I have to do any research. Mine isn’t old school, hard science stuff. I guess some of the purists would call it more futuristic fantasy, but what reader’s ever heard of that?

For my historical and retro novels, I’ve had to do a good bit of research. For Indian Summer, I made several trips to St. Augustine, Florida, which is up the road about 2 hours. That was super fun. St. Augustine is one of my favorite places.

Have you ever totally hated or fallen in love with one of your characters?

I have to admit, I fall in love with each of my male leads. Some, I love more than others. Wil has a place in my heart that will probably never be supplanted. I’ve completed seven books in the Lone Wolf series, as well as several short stories. There are also two unfinished prequels to the series. He is my first love and will be number one forever.

What do you enjoy reading for pleasure?

I love the Sookie Stackhouse books. I’ve read them at least three times and am working my way through the series again. I’m missing a couple books, but Charlaine Harris is wonderful about filling in gaps. It’s fun, entertaining and exciting.

What drink would you recommend drinking whilst reading your latest book?

I’ve always thought that Wil and friends are best appreciated with a smooth whiskey. My favorite beverage is Clyde May’s Alabama Whiskey, because it is sweet, smooth, dusky and has a real kick to it – just like Wil

Last but not least… favourite author?

Also a hard one to pick, I have so many. I will say that some of the most influential to me are Andre Norton, Daphne Du Maurier, Richard Brautigan and Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

© Diana Milne January 2017 © Dellani Oakes August 2017


I was prompted to write this blog based on a question I was asked by my brother>


By definition according to google:

In book publishing, an anthology is a collection of literary works chosen by the compiler. It may be a collection of poems, short stories, plays, songs, or excerpts by different authors

All the stories have a central theme of mystery, fantasy sci fi or romance even horror.

I am taking part in 2 such collections:

Midnight Oil

Midnight Oil: An Anthology by [King, Joe, Ford, Taylor, Stein, Sarah, Roach, D.A., Pranaitis, Joe, LeCrow, Freya, Drewa, Viv, Vaughan, Karen, Gauthier, Crystal, Rankin, Skyler ]

The worlds of multiple authors stalk in the shadows of the late-night hours of the Midnight Oil Anthology, a collection of stories highlighting tales of deception. Mingled with romance, horror, dark humor, and fantasy, this suspenseful collection of stories will have readers on the edge of their seats, biting their nails in worry, and unable to put it down until they know what happens next. The collection features works from both established and emerging authors, who were hand-selected for this project.
The assembly of authors includes Joe King, author of the five-star rated meta-fiction hit Raw Egg, Taylor Floyd, highly-acclaimed fantasy author of A Nightingale’s Tale, romance-writing guru Sarah Stein, D.A. Roach, who is most known for various genres of YA novels but also writes series novels of horror and dark fiction, Joe Pranaitis, an acclaimed Sci-fi/Fantasy writer, Freya LeCrow, who has been an author for many years and has created many mystery and paranormal stories, Viv Drewa, a.k.a. The Owl Lady, who writes fictional murder, mystery, romance, and adventure books, Karen Vaughan—a humorous storyteller of murder and mystery, Southern Owl Publications publisher and author, Crystal L. Gauthier, and Skyler Rankin, the newest on the literary scene as an author of YA, paranormal, and mystery stories.
All of these authors are of high caliber, and the Midnight Oil anthology is a collection of writing that has something for everybody. From thrills to chills and side-splitting shrills, this collection is sure to please readers of all tastes. For those who dare to turn its pages, just be sure to keep that midnight oil burning.

I am also writing my first fantasy tale. Yes me the mystery writer is writing a story with mermaid shifters. Yay me. I was invited to take part in the Under the Sea anthology coming out  next year. I am stoked and am having fun with this story.

Anthologies a reader might love:


Stoking the Flames II: Tales of Legend, Lore and Everlasting Love by [Mills, Julia , Abell, Kelly , Augustine, Grace , Barner, Solease M., Barton, Kathi S., Boulanger, Linda, Cate, Isobelle, Fraser, Dara , Garland, L.J., Kuncytes, Darlene, Andi Lawrencovna, J.C. McKenzie, Kate Richards, Kali WIllow, Victoria Zak]

Find everlasting love in the clouds. Go back in time. Spring into the future. Soar on the wings of magic.
Discover Legends of Fate, Destiny, True Mates, and Forever Love that’s written in the Stars.

Take flight with fifteen amazingly talented bestselling authors as they bring these special Dragons to life. In each life-changing journey you will see that the heart gets what the heart wants, happily ever after is so much more than simple words at the end of a Fairy Tale, and Dragons prevail no matter the time, place, or obstacle.

This is Stoking the Flames II – spread your wings and soar with our Dragons. Once you’ve touched the clouds, felt the wind in your hair, and held the power in your hands, you will forever fly high.



Summer Snoops and Cozy Crimes: 12 Mysteries for the Dog Days of SummerHelp Us Help Pets!

Have a howlingly good read during the dog days of summer with a dozen cozy mysteries from Wall Street Journal, USA Today and Amazon best-selling authors. Murder lurks in every corner during the dog days of summer. Solve the mystery as our snoops leash the criminals – at the beach, at the farm, on the mountain – everywhere! All profits from this pack go to support NO KILL animal charities! Fetch it now! And help us help pets!

‘Summer Snoops and Cozy Crimes’ includes never before published books from:

** WSJ Bestselling Author Judith Lucci – Gawd Almighty & the Corn

** WSJ Bestselling Author Cindy Bell – Murder at Pawprint Creek

** WSJ Bestselling Author Colleen Mooney – Dog Gone and Dead

** USA Today and WSJ Bestselling Author Amy Vansant – Summer Teeth

** WSJ Bestselling Author Colleen Helme – A Midsummer Night’s Murder

** WSJ Bestselling Author Kim Hunt Harris – The Murder of Bandera Bandito

** USA Today Bestselling Author Anna Celeste Burke – A Body on Fitzgerald’s Bluff

** Ava Mallory – A Dream Stray-Cation

** Sandi Scott – Croquembouche Murder

** Susan Boles – Death on the Beach

** USA Today Bestselling Author Sam Cheever – Toxic Tech

** Anne R. Tan – Just Lost and Found

Bonus recipes from the authors are included!