Sunday, December 18, 2016

Final Free Tutorial on Writing a Memoir or Biography (3)

Now that you have the pieces gathered together for the first chapter it’s time to start writing.

Put the pictures that apply to the first chapter in order, add in your notes on the location, whether from a personal visit or online searches and virtual walk-arounds. 

Decide in what kind of style you’d like to write it. It’s your book, your family story, and you can tell it in any way you like. Let me give you a few ideas:

We’ll take a town in the Netherlands as our ancestral location. 

  1. Conversational style: Walking along the cobble stone streets that lead to the market and center of town, just below the Gothic cathedral, I see for the first time where my grandfather had his market stall. To this day, every Tuesday there’s a market that sets up, and fresh produce, flowers, breads and meats are hawked by boisterous merchants.  
  2. Factual style: My grandfather was born on the cusp on 1900. He came from a family of merchants that set up their wares, mostly copper pots and household goods at a market stall in the center of Breda, the Netherlands. On other days of the week they would take a horse and cart and sell door to door. By the 1920s they had a shop just off main street.
  3. Historically rich style: Breda, a town in the south of the Netherlands, not far from the Belgian border has a rich history spanning many centuries. It’s rich architecture and well-preserved historical details speak to a past that was anything but boring. It’s also where my grandfather was born into a merchant family. 

So you see, you can start your story any way you like. 

And as always, I am available to offer guidance on your family history project, or to hold a presentation for your group. I also take on a few full memoir/family history writing projects each year; from shoe box of pictures to printed book.
Contact me at: elynnh2write (at)

Or feel free to leave a comment below. 

Monday, November 28, 2016

Free Tutorial on Writing a Memoir or Biography (2)

Tutorial 2
Setting the Scene

So, you know grandfather was born in the Czech Republic (for example), though at the time it might have been called something else. You’d love to go visit and do some first-hand research so that when you write the family story it will seem more real. But travel that far is just not in your budget. Not to worry, there are other resources available that can help you set the scene.

Often effectively setting  a scene relies only on a few details, and an impression. You want to spark a feeling in your reader as read your family story, similar to the feeling you get when you look at the pictures you have.
  1.  Google Maps and Google Earth both let you virtually wander through the streets of just about any town. If you’re lucky enough to have a picture in that box with a street sign on it, you can often find that exact spot. It will look different but will still make it feel very real.
  2. Next, try local tourism office websites. These days many offer an English version, if you’re Czech isn’t quite up to it, or you can ask google to translate the site for you. Machine translation does a reasonable job, at least good enough to give you the gist of what you’re looking for.
  3. Finally, local museums and historical societies can fill in a lot of blanks on the era your ancestor lived in. If the information you're looking for is not readily available on their site, a quick email to a curator there might get you want you need. 

Even a good travel guidebook found at the library can get you started on setting that first scene.

And as always, I am available to offer guidance on your family history project, or to hold a presentation for your group. I also take on a few full memoir/family history writing projects each year; from shoe box of pictures to printed book.
Contact me at: elynnh2write (at)

Or feel free to leave a comment below. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Free Tutorial on Writing a Memoir or Biography (1)

Mining your family history for stories

Tutorial 1

So, you there you are with a shoe box full of old photos and some stories you might remember your parents or grandparents telling you. How do you preserve that history for your kids and future generations?

Over the next few weeks I’ll offer you three free tutorials to get you started writing your family stories. These are the steps I took to successfully write Tales from the Fountain Pen which was picked up by a publisher.

Step 1: Take out the photos and put them in some kind of chronological order. If you’re having trouble, go online to research clothing, cars (if any), etc., from that era. It doesn’t have to be precise.
Step 2: Find the earliest photo, that will be the starting point for your story.

Step 3: Start creating a chart, using the pictures as your guide. Fill in rough estimates of dates, places and events as they come up in the pictures and your memory. Write down keywords you remember and impressions you get from the pictures. These will all be helpful once you start writing.

These first three steps should keep you busy for a while. As you go through them pretty you’ll start to see a pattern emerging that will let you get started on writing that family memoir.

Of course these steps can apply to any kind of writing where all you have to work with are visual cues from pictures or objects.

As always, I am available to assist. I take on a few full memoir writing projects each year (from shoebox of pictures to printed and bound book), but I am also available as a developmental editor to guide you through the process of creating a book yourself including guiding you through the CreateSpace process to get that printed book, and lastly, I’m available for consultations on your project. 
Contact me at: elynnh2write (at)  
Or visit my website:
And as always, leave comments below.

Next up: Tutorial 2: How to set the scene

Monday, October 24, 2016

Writing that Grabs You!

Ghostwriting – Developmental Editing – Helping You Put Your Best Words Forward

I finally have time and room in my schedule to delve into an area I like and to expand my business to include this. Aside from my novels which will always be my deepest passion, helping other writers and people who want to have a book or biography out there, is something I very much enjoy.  

Though I’m not quite on the bestseller list, yet. I do have many years of professional writing, and book writing, under my belt and much I can share with others.

So many of you at all levels in your life and career have unique stories that you’d love to see in print. But there’s no time or you don’t know where to begin … why not work with a professional?

As those of you who have been following my blog know, I love digging into history and people’s biographies (under my real name, and as Nicola Adams I dive headfirst into paranormal). If it’s a mystery, I’ll dig till I find the facts. If there are old immigration records or birth records that need to be scoured … I’m there. What if the information about your family is in an old shoebox gathering dust and in a language your family has long since stopped using? I’m on it.

That’s just one service I can offer you as a Ghostwriter.

As a Developmental Editor I can offer you help in writing your story, that article, or that coffee table book about a subject you’re passionate about. I can help you dig deep and find out exactly what it is you want to say, and how you can say it in a way that grabs people. Through targeted questions I help you uncover your story.

Send me a message and let’s talk about that book or article you’ve been wanting to write.

elynnh2write (at)

Friday, October 14, 2016

Banned in Ballard?

I realize “Banned Book” week has come and gone, but it took me a while to realize how relevant it actually was to me (aside from the fact that I've read a large number of the books on that list).

You see, I suspect that my latest YA novel, Out in the Dark under pen name Nicola Adams, was in fact banned (or censured) from a bookstore in Seattle.
It hadn’t occurred to me that a book about a multi-state car-chase (in a 1966 Pontiac GTO), Remote Viewing, and a teenager trying to rescue his psychic warrior father from a rogue government group was considered ban-worthy.

But, that appears to be exactly what happened. When I contacted the bookstore in question I was curtly told that my book did not fit their programming.

I tried, respectfully, to open a dialogue on the “how and why” of their programming but was shut down.

I guess that means my book was really banned.
Imagine that. It sure surprised me.

Get yourself a copy and let me know what you think. The book is available in both ebook and paperback – almost! – everywhere books are sold.

Thank you!

PS: Makes me wonder how the sequel will be received!

Monday, October 3, 2016

A New Short Story Available (Free)

I’ve just uploaded a new short story to my website and to celebrate the start of the Autumn season, I’m offering it for free. Find it here:

It’s called “Foreign Affairs” and is an exploration of trying to build something meaningful across cultures in a post-conflict environment. 

I am deeply grateful for the permission given to me to take elements of a real person’s life and use them in this story. He/She shall remain anonymous.

The story, as I said, is free, however I have to work within the confines of SquareSpace, my webhosting service and they use a dedicated 3rd party for commerce, such as selling stories online. I assure you they are secure and I do not get to see or access any personal details from any of you. All I get is a report of how many people purchased or downloaded one or more of my stories. 

If that assurance still makes you uncomfortable, then please send me a quick note that you’d like to receive “Foreign Affairs” to my email box set up specifically for that purpose and I’ll send you a pdf of the story. 
elynnh2write (at) (you know how it works, I’m trying to avoid bot traffic).

Thanks and happy reading.  

Thursday, September 8, 2016

The Accidental Memoirist

 I don’t know if it’s part of being a writer that draws it to me or if it is what made me into a writer, but for as long as I can remember people have been telling me their stories. Mostly people much older than me who have experienced interesting lives or great challenges, such as living through World War II in Europe.

The true value of these stories didn’t hit me until a few years back when I'd finally found the perfect way to tell my mother’s stories which I’d carried with me for years with the intent of writing them down. This led to first a short story being published and then a novella, Tales from the Fountain Pen. You will find that about 60 to 75% of the events in those stories are true. I’ve just woven a satisfying story around them.

After that novella was published I finally began to see these ongoing gifts of stories I was receiving. Just by taking the time to listen to people whose lives did not play out in the ephemeral realms of FaceBook, or some other social media site that asks you to be a witness to every moment of members’ lives (as if perhaps a life has less value unless it is witnessed).

Just a couple short years ago I started working on a novel, which I now see will be a trilogy, set in Strasbourg, France, during WWII. I contacted a friend who lives there and he very happily set out to gather information from his octogenarian patients who frequented his medical practice. It’s where I learned many of the little details of daily life during the occupation/annexation, which I’ve put in the story.

But then one day I got a different email from my friend. He’d sent me a picture of the back of an envelope with an address in Washington State (where I lived at the time) and asked if I knew where this was, and could I contact this person as she was the cousin of his best friend who had just died. His purpose was two-fold. First to let her know that he had found a case under his friend’s bed filled with pictures of her as a young child that he’d like to return to her, and second, he wanted to get in contact to somehow maintain a link to his best friend.

After a couple of days of solid online research and with the help of I was able to track this cousin down and learned she lived only 10 minutes from me. I contacted her and we met for coffee. I brought my laptop and a flashdrive with all the pictures my friend had copied and emailed to me. Within a few minutes of meeting we were fast friends and I learned of her incredible life story, which started in 1939 in an area known at the time as Bohemia, from there into refugee camps, on to France, and finally to be reunited with her mother who in the 1950s had emigrated to the US with the help of an CIA agent who’d fallen in love with her.

There are volumes I could write just from that first encounter with my new friend, but the best gift was still to come. 
My French friend emailed to say he had found a hidden suitcase that had belonged to someone they had assumed was his friend’s grandfather, but was in fact not … or was he?

He started sending me copies of old tintype photos and newspaper clippings of this man of mystery. A former pilot for the Austro-Hungarian military during WWI when he’d only been in his teens and people flew airplanes made of canvas, wood, spit and bailing wire. Then followed pictures showing him as a dandy, a fashionable young man about town, a musician, an actor, a tailor. A dashing figure of mystery.

But the final pieces that kept Karl Feix in my mind all these years were copies of a series of travel documents all issued in 1939 but at different locations in Germany, each listing his occupation as something different, and each giving permission to visit a different country.

There was also a copy of part of a letter he wrote to someone who might have been a lover, but she left for New York in search of a rich husband, and to get out of Germany as the Nazis were rising to power. Who was she and how did she fit into the story?

But more intriguingly … how did a man who appeared most likely to be a spy of some sort between the wars, come to be the surrogate father for my new Seattle friend? He helped her grandmother raise her in France after he arranged for them to get refugee status there. He was not related to them nor was he in any kind of relationship with my friend’s grandmother – who was at least 30 years older than him.

These intertwined stories and mysteries continue to haunt me as I search for information and the means to deeply research and write them … Ideally as a satisfying fictionalization, though even as pure biography their stories would make for compelling reading.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The Meaning of a Story


I’ve had the pleasure of talking with a number of people who have read my latest book, Out in the Dark by Nicola Adams (pen name), and it’s been very interesting to find that the story meant something different to each of them.

Some felt drawn toward the quest element of the story; Jake on a road trip to find his father.

Others were fascinated by the mental abilities - remote viewing, telepathy – of the main characters and how that influenced their choices.

And yet others were struck by the kindness and help strangers showed the two main characters on their journey.

It got me thinking about the value of ‘story’ in life and as a tool for learning. What is it that makes a story resonate with readers and why do we need it. It’s not just for entertainment or escape that we read, there’s more even if we’re not always consciously aware of it.

Stories can offer a mirror, showing us something similar to what we’re going through in life. Or stories can provide an escape where we get to live out a fantasy life, with characters displaying skills or having experiences we might secretly dream of having.

Stories can provide an alternative view of a familiar situation, from either an historic perspective or even as far out as science fiction.

All of this is why story, not quick soundbites or tweets, remains important to us. We need to be able to empathize with a character and follow along on his/her journey in order to grow ourselves.
Just like ancient humans learned through stories around the campfire. Or from traveling troubadours or a troupe of actors who taught through their songs, stories and epic poems in market squares before books, so too today we continue to learn through story. The beginning, the middle and the end; it adds something.

The classes in high school and college that stick with me even today were the ones taught by extraordinary storytellers, people who not just recited the information from the book but told a satisfying story with the facts woven in. 

Now, don’t worry, my books won’t ever hit you over the head with ‘lessons’ or talk down to you or preach at you. I strive to always write a satisfying escape from the ordinary, or to tell you about ordinary people - in historical times - living extraordinary lives (such as in Tales from the Fountain Pen).

Enjoy, I'll get back to writing the sequel!

Friday, July 22, 2016

Receiving My Brother in the Mail

Two boxes, left on my doorstep.
I recognized the sender, but wondered what he could be sending me. 
The boxes didn’t feel very heavy. 
So I opened one and carefully pulled back the bubble-wrap … imagine that, a clay mask of my brother’s face!

At this point the writer’s imagination ran wild. It was like someone had opened the paddock and all the horses ran free, all except one, common sense. Yes, it’s a small pony that often comes trotting out, slowly, long after the mustangs have raced off into the wild.

I had not just found Data’s head, like in the Star Trek TNG episode “Time’s Arrow”. I had merely received the mold and plaster cast the very talented sculptor, Edward Trobec, had used when he’d asked my brother to be a model for one of his bronze sculptures some ten years ago.

But … what about the story? How often does one receive one’s brother in the mail like that? It just screams short story, but what genre? Horror, comedy, I think I’ll skip tragedy, but a story there will have to be.

Where shall we put Uncle Ron, I asked my offspring? Up on the one bookshelf that survived my recent move? Can we deal with Uncle Ron looking over us, down on us? No, he’d never do that. 
A wingless guardian angel of sorts, urging me to write … yes, that will work fine.

Now to fill my pen with ink and find the box with paper! 

Friday, July 8, 2016

Lots of Inspiration

Wyoming on the Continental Divide at 7000 feet
Over a three day drive I got to see quite a bit of the Cascades in Washington, the rolling hills and passes in eastern Oregon, western Idaho, Utah and Wyoming, before finally dropping down into Colorado. I found much inspiration for the sequel to Out in the Dark

The drive gave me good insight into what Jake, our protagonist, will be going through in the second book as he tries desperately to stay ahead of the evil rogue group dispensing vigilante justice. It also gave me a deeper understanding of what he went through in the first book. You’d think me as the author would already know that but as many writers will tell you, we are merely the person putting the story on paper, and we are led by our characters. 

So much so that I’ve given up making detailed outlines of my books because my characters, in the course of writing, will throw me curve balls and toss in new details I wouldn’t have thought of. 

My 18-yr old navigator and I took it all in. From Deadman’s Pass to the high, windy plains to the winding passes and the extreme altitude. Well, certainly extreme for me anyway, I grew up almost below sea level so 7000 feet up is quite a lot. There is nothing like seeing it for yourself to truly appreciate the beauty and diverse landscape and people of this country. 

We speculated on what Jake, our 18-yr old character in Out in the Dark, might think or be experiencing as he criss-crossed these highways and stopped for fuel and coffee in tiny towns that seem to exist only to serve travelers and long-haul truckers. Or when he splurges and finds some of the best Chinese food at a tiny place in Rock Springs, Wyoming. Or how he would deal with a complete lack of cell coverage for long stretches. 

We also worked out what methods Jake might employ to block some the ESP images he’s starting to get in the sequel. 

As for a suitable audio playlist …. well, the stressed out cat in the car rather dictated that one as the only thing that kept him quiet and put him to sleep was the Best of ZZ Top. I suppose I’ll have to add that into the book too as the music is indelibly linked to the landscape in my memory. As are Subway sandwiches at Chevron gas stations along the way. 

Just as soon as the moving company brings my chair and desk I’ll again devote many hours a day to writing the sequel … don’t want you to have to wait too long for it. 

In the meantime, drop me a line on how you like Out in the Dark under pen name Nicola Adams, leave a review online at your preferred Ebook retailer, or peruse my website to see what other writing I do


Saturday, June 25, 2016

Calling it Research, but really …

In less than a week the moving truck will have picked up all my stuff – books mostly – and my son’s computers and books, and then a few days after that we both load up the car and head out to Colorado.

A new beginning for both of us.

But, and here’s where research comes in, I will be driving along some of the roads I will have my characters in the sequel to Out in theDark (by Nicola Adams) driving on as they try to turn to tables on the rogue group, bent on doing harm to innocents, that we met in the first book.

It’s not the first time I’ve driven my character’s road and that time too it helped me get deeper into the character and what he had to deal with. The same with my WWII novella, Tales from the Fountain Pen, on site research makes a difference. 

I’m hoping this 3-day long road trip, with a cat and a teenager, will give me more sensory details to put in the second book. To make Jake’s journey seem that much more real to you, the reader. Although I’d rather not have adventures like he will, my psychic/remote viewing skills are not even close to what his are.

We also won’t be driving a super cool vintage muscle car, but that’s okay …  maybe for book 3?

I’d love to blog from the road, but I don’t think that will be practical this time around. I’ll sign off for now to finish packing and probably won’t blog again until I’m set up in Colorado.

In the meantime, please feel free to pick up a copy of Out in the Dark, leave a review and spread the word. You might be surprised how relevant this story is to today’s tumultuous world. And reviews help build an author's success.
I look forward to reading what you think of it.
Thank you!

Friday, May 27, 2016

The Importance of a Good Spine

You might think I will now lecture you on the importance of good posture for a writer when sitting at her keyboard and typing away. Sure, that’s important, however, I would much rather talk about book spines.

The other day I had the extreme pleasure of spying my book on the shelf at a local bookstore; a very exciting moment, until I realized why it had taken me a while to spot it.

The spine doesn’t jump out!
There it was tucked in between a couple maroon colored spines and some black and brightly colored ones. I’d never given much thought to color or font use on a book spine, but suddenly I found it very important.

When I came home the first thing I did was browse my own many bookshelves (yes, way too many. How am I ever going to move all those books to Colorado next month?) to explore the spine issue in greater depth.

What I found is that most of the books on my shelves had clearly readable words on the spines and most made good use of font size, contrast and/or color. Some even have a small picture of the front cover on the spine. My Terry Pratchett paperbacks immediately spring to mind, or popped off the shelf if you prefer.

Even the Penguin classic paperbacks stand out with their old orange spines and more recent versions with black and yellow spines.

It’s given me something to think about as I progress on my journey as published author. In particular, what information and color options to give to the cover artist.

Getting a book on the shelf in a store and then having it get picked up by a reader requires a true synergy of talents. So I’d like to give a big ‘thank -you’ to everyone who helped make that happen for Out in theDark. 

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

A Car for Jake in the Sequel

Based on reader feedback and my own desire to write more books featuring Jake and Shelley, I’ve started researching and writing the next book in the Out in the Dark series. Book 2 will be an even wilder ride than the first book.

First order of business is a car for Jake. He had a lot of fun with his father’s 1965 Pontiac GTO, but now it’s time he has one of his own. Together with my muscle car loving offspring and a spreadsheet put together by a car fanatic brother, I’ve been narrowing the choices down.

Imagine my delight when I spotted a bunch of 1960s muscle cars lined up at a local gas station. Just waiting for me! Very considerate of them.

So, what would an almost 18-year old boy like to drive? The Plymouth Barracuda? The Impala? 

Or how about that sweet little black 1968 Camaro Super Sport (top picture)?
Judging by the flutter in my chest and the grin on the offspring’s face, I’m picking the Camaro.
So stay tuned for book 2 and more crazy car chases!

Full confession, which I know you all will keep a secret: I have a weakness for 1960s American muscle cars, Italian sports cars and Ford trucks. Not sure what a shrink would make of that, but it’s part of who I am.

Enjoy the ride and please leave a review of  Out in the Dark!

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Book Signing Success

My first ever book signing was a great success. I met many new and interesting people and I signed and sold all but one of the books the store had.

I will admit doing this was seriously stepping outside my comfort zone, but as the sages say, only by stepping out of your comfort zone and doing new things will you learn and grow.

Requests for a sequel are already coming in so I'll keep this short and get writing!
Thank you to everyone who showed up last Saturday and everyone who bought the book and is excited about it.

For the month of April it's still on sale directly from the publisher (also available in Ebook format), otherwise it can be found at your preferred online retailer or by request at your local bookstore.

Enjoy the ride!

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

New Logo
Meet YA Author Nicola Adams!
Saturday, April 2nd
We are pleased to announce that Untreed Reads author Nicola Adams will be appearing at Magnolia's Bookstore in Seattle, Washington at 11am on Saturday, April 2nd.

Nicola will be presenting her new young adult adventure novel Out in the Dark.

We strongly encourage you to reserve your autographed copies ($16 each) ahead of time from Magnolia's Bookstore by contacting the store directly at 206-283-1062. Nicola will also be signing copies at the event.

This title is also available in ebook format directly from the publisher at or wherever ebooks are sold.

About Out in the Dark 

Jake's father is one of a group of psychic warriors from a CIA/Stanford University project designed to train people in "remote viewing," but he's been taken by a rogue unit with more sinister plans for his skills. Now, seventeen-year-old Jake must set out on a journey to rescue his father. Jake doesn't know where his father is, and his only clues are the flashes of images he gets in his mind. Taking his father's vintage 1966 Pontiac GTO, Jake sets out across the Cascades from Washington, to Nevada. Along the way he picks up Shelley, a girl scarred by poverty and who has had to do some pretty unpleasant things to get together enough money to go to college. He was only going to give her a lift to Nevada, but soon they're both running for their lives.

 "A fast-paced roller coaster adventure for a daring young man, trying to save his father's life." -Lynne Kennedy, author of Pure Lies

"Following secret government psychic experiments, Jake needs all the help he can get to save his father. The psychic link helps him ... mostly! Stephen King needs to watch out!" -Richard Hardie author of the Temporal Detective Agency series.
Nicola Adams at Magnolia's Bookstore in Seattle, Washington
Magnolia's Bookstore
April 2nd, 2016
3206 W. McGraw Street
Seattle, WA 98199