Jill Weatherholt

Pursuing a Passion for Writing



We’ve all been there. We meet that special someone and start the getting to know each other phase of a relationship. You find out where the person grew up, how many siblings they have, where they went to school, what they do for a living…the list is endless. Your head is in the clouds, you want to learn everything about this wonderful person.

This month, it’s been 17 years since I met my special someone, Derek. I was remembering our first date and all of the things we discovered about each other that night. As I enjoyed going down memory lane, I hit a speed bump when I remembered a question I asked. It was one of those questions where the minute you ask, you wish you could take it back.

That night, Derek told me that he has a twin sister. My question was, “Are you identical?”

Have you ever asked a question that you wished you could take back?


A special delivery

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.com

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.com

Recently, I was having a really bad day. I hadn’t slept well and the moment my feet hit the floor at 4:30 a.m., nothing went my way.

The first thing I do each morning is go downstairs and turn on the coffee maker. Although it’s programmable, going up and down the stairs helps me to wake up. I turned on the machine and headed back upstairs to get dressed.

A few minutes later, the aroma of the freshly percolated coffee wafted up the stairs. I scurried downstairs for that all important first cup of coffee. Unfortunately, my first cup, along with the entire pot, covered the counter top and the floor. Coffee was everywhere, except in my mug. There wasn’t one drop that had made it inside the pot.

By the time I cleaned up the mess, I was late. I was forced to leave the house without any caffeine, which is not good. I wasn’t out of my neighborhood more than a minute and I ran over an opossum. I felt bad, especially because the opossum was in the middle of the road investigating his buddy who had recently become road kill.

The remainder of my day continued about the same. Computer issues at the office consumed most of my day and a major accident backed up traffic for miles. Once home, my day took a turn, when I spied a package on my front porch from blogger and dear friend, Maria.

I recently won a contest on her blog and I knew a prize was forthcoming. What I didn’t know was how special a Priority Mail box could be. From the moment I opened the box, every frustration from the day melted and happiness filled my heart.

The time and thoughtfulness that went into each hand decorated gift bag was unbelievable, especially when I thought about her daily struggles. Like myself, my friend Maria suffers from an autoimmune disease. Every day she goes to combat against Rheumatoid arthritis, but you would never know the challenges she faces. Her love for life radiates, as she makes the most of each day. She is a true inspiration to anyone who lives with a chronic illness.

On that day, my friend Maria turned a crummy day into a day that proved there is still a lot of love and kindness in the world. Thank you, Maria.


The Magic of a Storyboard

The Light Never Lies - 3-D bookcoverToday I am thrilled to welcome Francis Guenette, author of The Crater Lake Series. Her novels Disappearing in Plain Sight and The Light Never Lies are set on the shore of a Northern Vancouver Island lake, rich in rural life, family dynamics, and romance.

Francis has a talent for bringing her characters to life. It’s been a long time since I’ve read a book where both the characters and the setting felt so real and alive. I was truly impressed with her writing in Disappearing in Plain Sight. Her style was sharp and vivid, grabbing my attention from the first page. I look forward to devouring The Light Never Lies.
Guenette - Storyboard overview 1
Francis is here today to explain how she utilizes a storyboard. I’m a visual person, so turning a book idea into a visual tool, with the use of a storyboard, works for me. It can help make the story’s structure much easier to grasp and handle. Let’s take a look at how Francis uses a storyboard to create her page turning novels.


Many thanks, Jill, for this invitation to appear on your blog and write about the use of a storyboard for novel planning.

I view the storyboard as a concrete sign of my progression as a serious writer. For my first book, Disappearing in Plain Sight, I outlined and brainstormed on random bits of paper all held together with a bulldog clip. For, The Light Never Lies, I graduated to what I called my mini-book outline pages – one page for each chapter, covered with post-it notes. I could move the notes around from chapter to chapter, group related scenes, and colour-code settings and backstory bits, but there was a lot of shuffling involved.

The overview nature of the storyboard was something I longed for. With the third book in the Crate Lakes Series – Chasing Down the Night – it has become a reality. One of my Christmas gifts was a 2 foot by 3 foot corkboard. I leaned it, at eye level, against a cabinet in my writing space. Then I backed the entire board with paper. I sectioned off areas in the center to represent settings. Next, I created character post-it notes (1.5 inch by 2 inch) and stuck these up all over the settings. Various lines (solid and dotted) were drawn to represent connections and relationships between the characters. Around the outside, I stuck bigger post-it notes (3inches by 3 inches) that act as mini character sketches, jottings about main events, climaxes and resolutions.

Guenette - storyboard closeup 1As the planning for my next novel continues, the storyboard attracts bits of information – a fancy postcard that sets the mood, the book’s title, a poem, arrows and lines. I can imagine photos and pictures cut from magazines pinned up along the edges. The board is a magnet for layers of ideas, each addition a doorway opening to more and more.

The beauty of the storyboard is that I can see the scope of the entire book at a glance. It doesn’t take more than a moment to scribble down an idea and stick it up on the board.

Guenette - storyboard closeup 3As the planning stage gives way to first draft writing, I envision the storyboard changing. Post card size paper, one piece for each chapter, may replace the jumble that is now on the board.

The visual, tactile nature of the storyboard stimulates my creativity in ways that typing notes into a Word document would never do. There is something so right brain about it all.

So, there you have it – a guest post in praise of the storyboard – forward ho!


Francis Guenette has spent most of her life on the west coast of British Columbia. She lives with her husband and findsGetAttachment.aspx inspiration for writing in the beauty and drama of their lakeshore cabin and garden. She has a graduate degree in Counselling Psychology from the University of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. She has worked as an educator, trauma counsellor and researcher. The Light Never Lies is her second novel. Francis blogs over at http://disappearinginplainsight.com and maintains a Facebook author page. Please stop by and say hello.


Warm Memories

Image courtesy of Wikipedia.org

Image courtesy of Wikipedia.org

“Memory is the diary that we all carry about with us.” ~ Oscar Wilde

Many of you have had your fill of snow this winter. Dealing with snow as an adult isn’t as exciting as when I was a kid. Commuting to work in dangerous conditions and walking on icy sidewalks is not my idea of fun.

Snow days during childhood ignite some of my best memories. The excitement of a potential storm had me popping out of bed all night. I would peek through the blinds hoping to see flakes flying by the light of the street lamp.

Too often, the storm would miss the D.C. area. My sister would come into my room and announce, “Get up, we got jipped again.” We would head off to school tired and cranky. Thankfully, my mother always made sure we did our homework, just in case.

Once in a while, the storm arrived as predicted. I would turn on my clock radio and anxiously await the announcement that Fairfax County Schools were closed for the day. Rather than go back to sleep, I sprung from my bed, full of energy. For some reason, 6:30 a.m. on a snow day never felt early.

As my sister and I ate breakfast and waited for daylight, my mother placed our winter coats, hats and gloves, on top of the heat register, located on the kitchen floor. When it was time to go outside, our outerwear was always toasty warm.

After several hours of sledding, making snowmen and snowball fights, we were wet, cold and ready to come inside. My mom put our wet clothes into the dryer and served up grilled cheese sandwiches and chicken noodle soup. For dessert there were homemade brownies and Jello.

I was never sure if my mother enjoyed those snow days as much as me and my sister. We certainly created a lot of extra work for her on those days, but she always had a smile, so maybe she did.

What is your fondest childhood memory?


“Clean up on table one”

Image Courtesy of www.morguefile.com

Image Courtesy of http://www.morguefile.com

The best time for planning a book is while you’re doing the dishes. ~Agatha Christie

When I was a teenager, my first job, apart from babysitting, was bussing tables at the local country club. For those of you not familiar with the job description of a “busgirl”, my main duty was to clear dirty dishes from the member’s table and take them to the dishwasher. As an adult germaphobe, the idea of carrying out these duties today, makes me cringe, especially since we weren’t provided gloves.

The reason behind my career choice had more to do with a certain boy from school, than a desire to clear the world of dirty dishes. My best friend and I both had crushes on boys who also worked at the county club, in the golf pro shop. Our thought was, they had to eat and since the club provided a free meal to their employees, a chance meeting over a table of dirty dishes was in our favor.

Unfortunately, our idea didn’t go as planned. Although the employees were provided a free meal, they weren’t allowed to dine with the members. The chance meeting never happened.

I didn’t get to meet that boy, but I did catch more colds that winter than ever. By spring, my friend and I left the country club for a job at the local roller rink. I had a few bruises, while learning to skate backward, but it turned out to be the best job I ever had.

I’m curious, what was your first job?


Where there’s smoke, there’s fire

Was that smoke I smelled?
My mind told me it was.
The sirens grew louder.
They’re headed to our house.

I kicked the twisted sheets off my small legs, sprinted down the hall and into my parent’s bed room. With a flying leap, I was safe between my mom and dad.

As a child, I was frightened by the sound of sirens in the middle of the night. I tried to drown the sound by burying my head underneath my pillow, but it never quieted my fear. I was sure the fire engines were coming to our house.

This fear wasn’t grounded in anything realistic. We never had a house fire, neither had our neighbors, but the fear persisted.

My parents didn’t get angry or dismiss my fear as silly, when I charged into their room. They understood my fear was real and provided me with comfort and love. Once the sirens passed, I felt safe returning to my own bed.

As silly as it sounds, even now, when I hear sirens in the middle of the night, fear sets in. I picture a burning house or a terrible car accident. I guess some fears we never outgrow.

Do you have a childhood fear that has lingered?


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