Kindle Give-Away Announcement

Dear Blogger-Buddies,

I wanted you to know about an opportunity that I am offering in a couple of weeks. This book is classified as General Fiction, with a theme of forgiveness that reflects my Christian views–though I do believe the message is universal.

In the meantime, if any of you have already read it and haven’t yet put up a review on Amazon, I would be so grateful if you would. Four more and I can promote it on another website.


On September 12, 13, and 14th I will be offering a free Kindle Give-Away of my novel, “The Sin of His Father.” Click on the title to take advantage of this offer. If you are willing to do a review on or, I would be so grateful. Print copies are also available for purchase. Ask me about signed copies–

Novel The Sin of His Father

The Sin of His Father




Words uttered by his mother on her deathbed, a mystery about his father that she had not confided to him, drove Matt Maxwell to fear that he could become like this man he never knew.

Abandoning the woman he loved, his closest friend, and a lifestyle that suited him well, Matt made choices that opened him to an unlikely friendship and a new relationship with the God of his youth. However, the terrible secret he harbored eventually took him down a path of self-destruction and alcoholism.

What would it take to embrace his truth, accept himself and his past, and discover peace in the power of forgiveness and love?



Edit. Edit Again. And Again!–Monday Meanderings

It seemed to take “forever” but, finally, the proof of  The Sin of His Father arrived. As I plunge into yet another edit, I’d like to share a few suggestions to help in the editing process.

Though these apply, for the most part, to prose fiction, I hope there may be some suggestions for those of you writing in other genres.

Set your manuscript aside for a while (weeks or months) before revision. The distance will give you better perspective when you return to what you have written.

Look for echos–that is to say unintentional repetition of words or phrases. Sadness hung in the air like dense fog. I could see that she was sad, is an example of an echo.

Read your writing aloud to yourself and/or another. This process promotes the discovery of grammatical, syntactical and spelling errors.

If you choose to change point of view within the text, make sure that you have provided the reader with a clear distinction between characters. Use spaces or chapter changes to shift point of view. Or use an omniciscent narrator.

Lose adjectives or adverbs whenever an active verb or noun achieves your goal. Consider the following two sentences that deliver the same message:

She felt very afraid.

Fear crept in and overwhelmed her–her breathing quickened.

Which do you think better engages the reader’s emotions?

This next  suggestion may surprise you: reread your manuscript in its entirety (chapter-by-chapter or scene by scene for short fiction) but start at the END. This technique enables you to identify unresolved story lines, chronology issues and other inconsistencies. When I applied backwards review to Winter is Past I found that I had changed the name of a secondary character somewhere along the line–the kind of thing that happens when you’ve worked on your novel over a longer period of time.

While doing your backward review, double-check to make sure that every scene has a goal and propels the plot forward.

These are but a few of the things I look for. I hope these are helpful to those of you who face the daunting task of making it better. 

Image: Jackson Paul Baer

Image: Jackson Paul Baer

Have a good week–whichever stage of the writing process you’re working!

The Writing Process

Photo: The Writer Wizards

Photo: The Writer Wizards

(Note–this post is from my Website, Victoria C. Slotto. Would you stop by and follow me there–and tell others about it? Thank you!)

Welcome to The Writing Process I.

 In preparation for the upcoming release of The Sin of His Father, I’d like to share some insights into the process I followed in writing this novel.

My hope is, of course, to arouse some interest in the book—but also to offer suggestions to those of you who are writing books or short stories of your own, or who are considering jumping into the world of the writer.

I thought I’d begin with character development. There are many ways to approach this important step in writing a novel. In writing Winter is Past, I did nothing in way of preparation. I just sat down and wrote.

I suppose, subconsciously, the protagonist, Claire, became something of an alter-ego. Like me, she had a kidney transplant. She worked as a hospice physician—while I was hospice nurse. Likewise, her husband, Josh, bore many characteristics of my husband—a nurturer, a gourmet cook, a gardener.

There was a problem, however: both characters fell flat—Josh, scrubbed clean of flaws and Claire, weak and unsympathetic. It took a lot of insightful critique, offered by my writing buddies, as well as numerous rewrites, to achieve any depth.

In retrospect, I wish I had done it all differently. I wish I had planned, outlined. I can’t begin to imagine how much time I could have saved, how many edits and rewrites I could have avoided.

As I began the process of outlining The Sin of His Father I chose a much different approach to my characters. To begin with, I “created” a male protagonist—a bit daring for a woman, someone who had no brothers and who had minimal interactions with men.

Using Myers-Briggs Character and Temperament Types), I developed detailed profiles of every major and secondary character. These character types are useful in that they are predictors of how a person is likely to respond in a given situation—though a certain amount of the unexpected is desired.

The protagonist, Matt, is INTP—that is, introverted, intuitive, thinking and perceptive. (The opposites are extroverted, sensate, feeling and judgmental) In my next process note, I will explain a bit more about these characteristics and give you a peek into how I envisioned Matt.

Resource: Please Understand Me: Character and Temperament Types by David Keirsey and Marilyn Bates


Location, Location, Location–Monday Meanderings

Today I’m sharing a short story I wrote in 2007, about 3 years into my first novel. Like all new creative writers, I’d read a plethora of books on the writing process, attended writing conferences and tried my best to provide myself with the closest thing to a MFA that I could expect at 50-something.

Taking to heart all the advice offered by the “experts”, I tried to do it perfectly. Little-by-little the reality dawned on me that every writer has the freedom and the need to discover what works best for them. The theme of this story is part of my experience; the details are pure fiction.



Location, Location, Location
A Short, Short Story

Becca grasped the aquamarine notebook in her trembling hands, reached for pen with its padded surface and took in a deep breath. “I’m ready,” she announced to Nimble, her rough-coated Jack Russell Terrier. “Where’re we going?”

She’d prepared for this moment for days—no, years. The time had come to embark on her life’s quest. After all, she was about to turn fifty.

Longhand would flow through her fingertips, unfolding onto the paper. True, there’d be the drudgery of transcription, but writing is an art form and like the sculptor with clay, she longed to touch the medium of her creation.

After she hooked Nimble to his leash, Becca hopped in her Neon and headed off into her future. “You’re my lucky totem, boy, my muse.” The dog cocked his head, nipping at her words.

When she arrived at Rancho San Rafael, Becca spotted a picnic bench beneath the boughs of a spreading Oak. She stopped, unloaded and retrieved the virgin journal from her backpack and opened it.

Closing her eyes, Becca strained to conjure up the brilliant storyline that had visited her at two in the morning. Before she’d put her pen to paper, a pigeon in the tree above her delivered an enormous pea green dropping that splattered on the pristine page. Becca yelped and tore the first few sheets from her tablet, crumpled them and slam-dunked the wad into the waste receptacle nearby. She stomped back to her car, Nimble in tow, and didn’t write that day.

Nimble nudged Becca before seven the following morning. She awakened slowly. The story-line had reappeared and hovered just below the surface of her consciousness. She grabbed her pen and diary in a desperate move to recover her thoughts, but the canine whined to go outside and pee. Becca hauled herself from bed and opened the door for her dog. The tale scampered out with Nimble. She returned to bed and ensconced herself beneath the downy comforter. If I don’t stir too much, maybe it’ll come back. But nothing happened.

She grabbed her pen and paper, propped she up in bed and began to write, just for the sake of writing but Nimble’s whining pierced her concentration. Becca set aside her work and peeled back the covers to let the dog back in the house. A relentless cramping gripped her trapezius and she had to admit that writing in bed didn’t work either. Another day passed without a written word.

The following morning the phone jolted her from sleep. Becca croaked a drowsy Hello.

“It’s eight thirty, her mother’s voice informed her. “Tell me I didn’t wake you up–aren’t you writing? I’m not subsidizing extra sleep!”

Becca hesitated. “I’ve got a problem. I don’t know where to write. Monday, I tried the park and yesterday, in bed. I can’t find the right location and I refuse to be stuck in an office. Any ideas?”

“I’m paying bills for three months so you can jump-start your book, not a minute more. I expect results.”

“That’s only thing I want, Mom. Honest.”

“Then check out that little coffee shop down the street from you—the one with the easy chairs. Maybe that will inspire you—it’s a very artsy location.”

“I’ll go there today, great suggestion!”

Becca arrived at ten o’clock. The smell of coffee assaulted her. The crowd was sparse. She paid for her latte, sprinkled a dash of cinnamon on the froth and made her way to her nest in an overstuffed chair by the unlit hearth. She scrounged for her supplies, opened the notebook and poised to scrawl. The plot remained vague so she titled her work THE NOVEL, printing the letters in upper case.

The opening line’s got to grab their attention, she reminded herself. She wrote in cursive script that would’ve done the nuns proud: The morning started out calmly enough. Angela could not fathom the unfortunate turn of events that awaited her on that July afternoon.

A young couple meandered over and sunk into the love-seat opposite Becca. She watched as they ogled one another, oblivious of their surroundings. Sexual tension shimmered and invaded Becca’s space, dissipating her focus. Gathering her belongings, she relocated to a table toward the front where the sun’s glare bounced off the front window, causing her to fumble in her purse for sunglasses. Becca penned a second sentence.

Two women entered the café, choosing seats nearby.

“I don’t know how much longer I can stand William,” the younger one stated. “He doesn’t pull his load and nothing I do is good enough for him.” And on she rambled.

Becca attempted to ignore the tirade but couldn’t. She downed the tepid coffee, seized her gear and went home. That day she cleaned out the garage.

In the days that followed Becca continued her hunt. She drove to the library, but couldn’t settle in the lumpy chair. The daily story telling for children, now out of school, distracted her. The reader’s singsong voice and conspicuous pauses grated on her nerves.

Returning home, she arranged a low plastic mesh chair in a corner of her yard. Nimble tormented her with his ball and pull toy. Bees swarmed and mosquitoes buzzed. She spent most of the time swatting.

Then Becca rearranged a corner of her office and dragged an abandoned rocking chair from storage. She fetched a pail of soapy water and spent the afternoon scrubbing off the cobwebs. She caressed the ancient pinewood with lemon-scented polish. The cushions were beyond redemption so she shopped the next day to replace them. That night she added two paragraphs of description, but the plot remained fuzzy and she didn’t know where to go next.

“I’ll read a how-to book on novels,” she told her dog. “That ought to get me going.”

Five weeks passed. Baca’s Mom invited her for a stay. “Maybe you can work on the beach—it’s peaceful there.”

Becca booked her flight, packed her duffel bag and left Nimble at the canine hotel. On the plane she studied character development and point-of-view. “Angela’s a Pisces,” she said aloud, startling the overweight man in the middle seat. Point of view continued to confuse her.

Every morning Becca packed a PBJ and hauled her macramé bag to the shore. Ideas flowed like molasses. Her skin crisped and wind fought battle with the pages. Guilt forced her to observe this ritual with compulsion. At the end of a two-week labor she’d delivered three chapters and returned to Reno. The coast had left her dry.

Nimble greeted his mistress with frenzy. Separation guilt had dampened Becca’s creative energy and she succumbed to his need for walking and swimming in the river. Three weeks evaporated.

“How far have you gotten?” her Mother asked at the end of two months.”

“Six chapters.”

Silence answered Becca, reinforcing her escalating panic.

I’ve got to do something. Becca tossed the wretched notebook on her desk, booted up the computer and began to copy the manuscript. As she transferred the written word onto the keyboard a miracle occurred. She typed the six chapters, accomplishing a first rewrite in the process, but couldn’t stop. Her fingers dashed across the letters of the alphabet, directed by a higher power. The next day she returned and the days after that. Nimble remained psychologically tethered to her side. Each afternoon, at precisely two o’clock, she’d take a break and reward him with a walk along the Truckee, then hurry back to her computer.

Becca shed her concern with location. She dragged her journal to a jazz concert and added pounding music to a passionate love scene. She drove to Tahoe and in her car transported serenity to a moment of intense communication. On a bus she described the blur of buildings as a backdrop to a clandestine encounter then tuned out conversation in a restaurant or Baskin Robbins. Or tuned it in and added it to her story.

“The place for writing is right inside me,” she announced to her Mother, towards the end of her sabbatical. “The first draft is finished. I’m letting it sit for a few weeks, and then I’ll do my rewrite. In the meantime I’m working on a short story that I started at a basketball game.”

My wish would be that this may help at least one reader setting out on the daunting task of writing creatively.

I’m spending my time grappling with the technological aspects of self-publishing my second novel. Sorry I haven’t been around to read much, but I still try to visit those who comment and to read some of the wonderful work you post.  Have a good writing week. Live it to the fullest.

Poetry and Prose–Monday Menaderings

Today’s Monday Meanderings is a special invitation to those who primarily write prose (not to exclude the rest of us.)

You may have heard that April is National Poetry Month. Perhaps you even read and or write poetry. I love to consider the impact of poetry on prose writers, and vice versa.  Every now and again you will read a positive review that describes a writer’s prose as “poetic.” When someone pays me that complement, I relish it.

For me, it’s important for those of us who write prose to pay a  attention to this often undervalued art. Many prose writers, especially those who write literary fiction, dabble in poetry–either as readers or poets. Or both. They find that doing so enriches their own work. Here are a few things to consider:


Engages the senses
Pays attention to detail
Uses symbolic language
Expresses thoughts succinctly
Respects the rhythm and sound of words
Makes use of metaphor and simile
Uses description to express feelings
Breaks the rules!

In celebration of this month of poetry, I invite you to treat yourself to a book of poetry and brew a cup of tea or coffee. Now, hunker down in your favorite chair and read. My preference is for poets who are not so obscure that you need a lit professor to help interpret their work. Here are a few of my favorites, most of them contemporary: Ted Kooser, Kim Addonizio, Jane Hirschfiled, Jane Kenyon, Ellen Bass, William Carlos Williams, and oh so many others. You might want to subscribe to some poetry blogs or websites that offer a daily poetry fix.



Happy writing. Enjoy the process…and try writing a poem of your own.


For National Poetry Month, Day 7, I’ve written a Haiku:

a communion of sorts 

ripe strawberry love

slice open, reveal two hearts

taste and know sweetness

Photo: Public Domain

Photo: Public Domain


Memories of a Friend

L’essential est invisible aux yeux.
     Antoine de St. Exupery, Le Petit Prince



I hear the clink-clink of his guide dog’s harness, the steady trusting pace of boots as he approaches, the scraping of the chair across linoleum, a plop and sigh as he takes a seat.

“I know you’re there,” he says. “I smell roses. It’s been a while.”

“Too long. Close to thirty years. Can you believe it?”

His gravely voice betrays the wear of time, as we lapse into memories and the raucous sound of laughter—all we have in common now.

“Remember your trip to Rome?” I ask. “The David?”

“Oh don’t go there. What could the others have thought? A blind priest enjoying sculpture by touch and first thing I do is stroke his…” We roar again.

“And how you “saw” us?”

“Oh, never the touchy thing, like some blind people do,” he says. “You were a beagle. And then there was grim bear!”

In the background I hear the fall of water in the courtyard pond, the caw of crows and the twitter of a finch and think of grim bear.

“Do you regret your decision?”

“Sometimes,” I admit. “When I have worries about money or who will take care of me when I am old. I miss the built-in time for quiet and for prayer,” I say. “But no. It was for the best. You helped, you know. You saw so clearly what I couldn’t see alone.”

And then he asks, “Have you forgiven?”

Today at dVerse Meeting the Bar Brian Miller asks us to consider blind writing–that is, using any sense to create a scene, a poem EXCEPT for vision. I started to write this as a poem but it just didn’t work, so I hope I will be excused for a bit of creative non-fiction prose. This is an imagined encounter with a blind priest friend who helped guide me through a life-changing decision. The quote from The Little Prince is (as I remember it) “What is essential is invisible to the eyes.”

Novel Excerpt–Characterization

Excerpt (Chapter 2) from “The Sin of His Father” introducing the protagonist’s former girlfriend. Monica is an important, although secondary character. I would much appreciate any critique you may be willing to offer.

The scent of oil paint permeated the two-bedroom apartment that was a twenty-minute walk from the Art Institute of Chicago. Monica Bertolini didn’t notice—this was how home smelled to her.

While chaos reigned in her studio, the small living room was an illustration of perfect order and balance. In one corner, on a small desk, Monica had piled stacks of paper in neat towers. One held a list of ideas for non-fiction articles. Another, short fiction, which she needed to edit and submit. A file folder contained handwritten outlines and random scenes, in no particular order. Someday she hoped to merge these into the idea for a novel that floated around in her brain. She’d framed the borders of her darkened monitor with Post-It notes in brilliant pink—testimony of works in progress and things to do, but she hadn’t looked at them in days.
The north wall of the room boasted a library of books: fiction, non-fiction, writing how-to’s, art history and techniques, and general reference books. Monica had arranged them by category, in alphabetical order by author.

Through the bay window on the west wall of the room, Monica saw Lake Michigan. Today the water was still and silver-cold. The sky, too, was gray, even misty. Maybe she should paint this landscape that matched her mood in every detail.

In the adjoining room an unfinished canvas lay propped on an easel. Orange and cerulean blue paint danced in cacophonous colors and screamed at her in taunting ecstasy. One evening, in abjection, she had smeared a palette knife of black paint in a thick wavy line down the middle of the canvas. The result only heightened the drama. She abandoned her work for now: she couldn’t paint and wouldn’t write. Not since Matt had told her he couldn’t see her anymore.

When her father called from Maine the previous evening he’d inquired about her work. She tried so hard to mask her depression, but when he had been unable to pin her down, he’d questioned her directly. She’d never been able to lie to her parents, especially not now. It was a miserable thing to be so dependent on them and their money. They’d encouraged her and even paid for her education. A dual Masters of Fine Arts, in writing and painting, was no small accomplishment, no small investment. She knew that, and everyone had promised her, as she had promised herself, that she would be a success. But now, she just couldn’t force herself to pick up a brush or a pen.

Monica believed that Matt loved her, and knew that she loved him. Her vision and hope had been pinned on the knowledge that they would spend a lifetime together. Hadn’t he spoken of marriage and kids? Had she heard it wrong, when he dreamed aloud of moving to California? “I’ll get work in Hollywood,” he’d bragged. “They need plenty of private eyes there, stalking all those cheating husbands.” Not that he’d lacked for work in Chicago.

“You can do the art scene there,” Matt told her. She remembered his exact words and the hum of excitement in his voice.
So what had happened that caused him to call it off?

The Chicago Tribune lay folded in her lap. Half of the headline blurted out something about the presidential campaign. She couldn’t take much more of that—it was still almost a year away. She tossed the front section to the floor and began digging for the Horoscopes when the name Maxwell, in bold print caught her eye. Above it, in a smaller font, Monica read the name of Matt’s mother: Ellen Margaret.

The heaviness that had hung over Monica’s heart lifted, replaced by a sharp stabbing pain. How could they reduce Matt’s mother to a narrow column, only eight lines in length? Was that what a life came down to? Monica reached for the phone and hit the speed dial she still had set up for Matt, but ended the call before the first ring. Matt didn’t want her to be a part of his life anymore. She knew that for sure now—he hadn’t even told her about Ellen’s death and the woman was not only his mother, she was Monica’s friend, and he knew it.

It’d been barely a month ago that Monica had spent the afternoon with the frail lady. She’d pushed Ellen’s wheelchair around the spacious grounds of the nursing home then Monica had parked her beneath the branches of an ancient elm tree and fed her some ice cream that she’d toted in a cooler. Over the months that Monica had been dating Matt, the two women had become close. Recently, Ellen couldn’t endure longer outings and had a hard time remembering details of their visits for long after the event, but she had no confusion about Monica and how the girl felt about her son. Their common love for the enigma that was Matt cemented their own relationship.

A distant conversation played through Monica’s mind.

“You’ve got to understand him, Monica, me dear,” Ellen had said in a lingering brogue. “He’s never had a man to show him the ropes.” Back-lighting had glistened through the outline of Ellen’s disheveled hair, framing a weary face.

“What do you mean, Mrs. Maxwell?” Monica had asked. It seemed to her that Matt had learned his roles pretty well. He was thoughtful, anticipating her every need. He was romantic—flowers and little notes, sometimes written on paper towels or, once, the margins of the page of a phone book. And as far as lovers went, he didn’t seem to need much modeling in that regard. But then, Ellen wouldn’t know that, would she? Monica blushed at the thought.

“What do you mean?” Monica prodded again.

“I think he’s afraid.” Ellen blew the words out between wheezes. “He’s just afraid of love. I pray he doesn’t hurt you.”

As they’d made their way back to Ellen’s room, down the long, florescent-lit hallway, a song from long ago played in the background and carried the woman to another dimension. Monica had left the woman with her reflections and walked slowly toward her car.
A Mass of Resurrection will be held, she read, at ten o’clock on Wednesday…. Monica decided to go. Maybe Matt wouldn’t want her there, but damn it! Ellen was her friend.

Linked to the writing prompt I offer at “Into the Bardo.” Please stop on over and browse.

The Rest of the Story–Sunday Whirl

Source Unknown

Source Unknown

On the day after the day of rest that God took after completing the work of creation, God gathered a few of his angel friends.
“It’s all so beautiful, isn’t it?” God said, “but I can’t help worrying just a bit. I have to wonder if it was a big mistake.”

Most of the angels were encouraging, but Lucifer, the light-bearer piped up. “I told you so, God,” the luminous angel said, tossing his wings wide-open for effect. “Look at them together under that tree—the one you told them to stay away from. Once you tell someone not to do something, that’s all they can think of.”

“Lucifer, I’m sick of your pessimism. Don’t forget I gave them free will, but also a conscience, and pretty clear instructions. They’ve got what they need to handle temptation. Don’t you believe that?”

“Frankly, God, no. I don’t. Take note—this little experiment of yours in that lab you call Earth wasn’t one of your better thought-out ideas. I don’t think it would take much encouragement to make them go for that juicy-looking fruit. Can I prove it to you?”

God leaned back against a fluffy cloud and sighed. He was concerned about Lucifer, whose light seemed to dim a bit ever since God announced his expansion plan—the plan to clean up and organize the cosmic chaos left behind by the Big Bang. God was afraid of the angel’s intent, detecting a hint of pride that seemed to be seeping into his star-angel’s personality of late. He reached down, plucked a grain of grass from Earth and tasted. The pleasure God found in the sweetness of the grass gave him second thoughts. He considered Lucifer’s challenge. He knew the man and his wife could mess us, but how would he know how this venture would turn out if they weren’t given a chance to prove their loyalty to God?

“Okay, Lucifer. You may go ahead with your request, but you can only have access to the woman. She is clearly the stronger of the two when it comes to resolve.” God turned to the others. “In the meantime,” he said, “we must do what we can to support her from here.”

Well, we all know how that turned out for us humans, but in the heavenly realm, when Lucifer returned to the Kingdom, his pride has exploded so as to completely put out his light. He was unbearable to be around. God thus banished him to the netherworld.

As for the rest of the troops, God called another council and they came up with the plan to send out armies of angels, one for each human, to help nudge them toward making wise decisions.

And now you know the rest of the story.

Written for Sunday Whirl, where we gather to create poetry or flash fiction out of a Wordle–a list of random words, underlined in the above flash fiction. Since I’ve been writing so much poetry of late, I’m grateful for a chance to work in short fiction.


Posted for Five Sentence Fiction—where this week’s one-word prompt is “Pirates.”

Photo Credit: Google Free Images

The storms outside have rendered my fragile craft impotent—but those within are worse. Everything seems so dark, foreboding. Roiling waves toss me about, confuse me. Who is that on the horizon—a rescuer perhaps? But no, he travels on by—oblivious to my desperation—leaving me at the mercy of the pirates of my mind.

Five Sentence Fiction: Faerie Land

This week’s prompt for Five Sentence Fiction  is to write a pithy story inspired by the word “Faerie.” This wasn’t easy for me–not that I’m a skeptic–but I’m not a reader of fantasy.

If you’ve never visited FSF, come on, join the fun and add some flash fiction of your own.

Free Image
















Faerie Land

The tension in Carl’s voice was like a violin wound too tight when he asked his wife’s best friend, Alicia, if she had seen or spoken to Naomi.

Not since Tuesday, was the response; she was blathering on that there’s more  to this world than we can see. She cut the call short, said she had to get back out into the garden where someone was waiting for her beneath the irises. She couldn’t stop sneezing–told me it was faerie dust.

I haven’t seen her since Tuesday morning, Carl replied.