Saturday, May 6, 2017

Youth on the Edge

After several weeks off, I am back to work on Book III of the Legacy Trilogy. The Edgewater Legacy follows elder son Christopher to Los Angeles in the 1980s where he pursues his passion for music by landing a job in the music industry as a chart researcher for Silver Bullet Records. He is on the edge of adulthood and struggling to find his moral compass in life. It is a story of greed, graft, and gullibility.

When a na├»ve young singer overdoses on drugs during a corporate party, Chris and his beautiful co-worker embark on a dangerous journey to expose a blockbuster mentality that deflates artists' careers and gouges consumers with artificially inflated prices. In the process, old enemies resurface and old scars are reopened.

In this new book, I am experimenting with a slight adjustment to the point of view from my earlier work. The point of view in fiction determines whose eyes the reader experiences the story through. In Windborne, I used the third person omniscient or "god" point of view. This assumes that the narrator is all-knowing. The thoughts, feelings, and actions from all the characters may be related to the reader (or they may be withheld). I believe this was a successful approach for Windborne given the scope of the work and the shifting focus of each woman's story.

I continued this approach in The Stone House Legacy and The Steel Canyon Legacy, but I don't believe it was as effective.  Therefore, I have decided to limit the point of view in The Edgewater Legacy. This limits the narrator to seeing into the heart and mind of only one character - in this case, Christopher. This point of view is actually the "default" in fiction. It is the most common because it can be used the most effectively in the majority of situations.

Narrative voice and tone will also be impacted by this point of view. The narrator may take on the manner of speaking, word choice, or dialect of the main character. The tone may reflect the narrator's attitudes and events through the actions and speech of the character, thus affecting the reader's perceptions of the work.

This change in point of view is relatively minor and will probably go unnoticed by most readers. However, it should eliminate some of the confusion around shifting points of view that plagued the first two books in the series.

The Edgewater Legacy is the culminating look at a family impacted by the changing attitudes and mores of the world they live in. Watch for its release in 2018.

Wanda DeHaven Pyle is the author of Windborne and the Legacy Trilogy available now on Amazon and Kindle.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Mind Games

Last week I witnessed a women getting run over by a car. 

Although the woman survived the incident with only cuts and scrapes, the image still burns in my mind. I see her look of dismay and her flailing arms at the moment she was hit. I watch as my mind replays the horror of watching the car push her body into the street like some discarded piece of trash. The vision is as clear as if it were happening again right in front of me.

Episodic memory is a person's unique memory of a specific event. It is not completely understood why we remember certain instances in our life while others go unrecorded, but it is believed that emotion plays a key role in our episodic memories. The emotions we experience at the time help to bake the event into our long-term memory so that it becomes more strongly ingrained.

When I was writing Windborne, I found myself drawing heavily on my episodic memory of events that had happened in my childhood. As I wrote, I relived these experiences and was able to describe them in great detail. Writers of psychological thrillers often employ this technique through the use of flashback. Many times the character's motivation is revealed through incidences that resurface in their episodic memory. These memories are often triggered by something they experience in the present that immediately sends them back into the past where they relive the experience for the benefit of the reader.

Episodic memory is unique to each individual. That is why eye-witness accounts often vary. However, the recounting of the memory will often trigger a similar memory in the listener. This tool can be invaluable in producing empathy. It can help the reader identify and sympathize with a character.

Many readers of Windborne have shared that they experienced similar events in their lives or they remember stories handed down through the generations that were similar in nature. This is a key element in all of my touch the reader's memory and sensitivities so that they can not only appreciate the story, but also experience it.

Wanda DeHaven Pyle is the author of Windborne, The Stone House Legacy and The Steel Canyon Legacy available on Amazon and Kindle at

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Monday, March 6, 2017

History From a Woman's Point of View

The Zorzi Affair by Sylvia Prince is a historical look at women's struggle for equality and education in a world dominated by men. Set in seventeenth-century Italy during the The Scientific Revolution, the author uses the genre of the historical novel to serve as a commentator on the societal mores of the times. In the 16th and 17th centuries, modern science and the scientific method were born; the rate of scientific discovery exploded; giants such as Copernicus, Vesalius, Kepler, Galileo, Harvey, Newton, and countless lesser figures unlocked world-changing secrets of the universe. Fascinated by the changes, young Zaneta Lucia hungers for more knowledge. Faced with an arranged marriage to an older man who would enhance her families social standing, but doom her to a life without books or learning, she dresses as a boy and strikes out on her own to gain an education.

Her journey is perilous and the reader cannot help but make comparisons to the continued struggles for women's rights to equality. The author uses a limited point of view, to let us inside thoughts and feelings of the female protagonist while shading the male point of view from her perspective. By dressing as a boy, she is able to see first hand the differences between a man's view of the world and a woman's view. Zaneta Lucia is often torn between her "masculine" desire for education and her "feminine" desire for love and acceptance.

In historical fiction, the writer’s relationship with a historical character is less intimate than with a fictional character. There are limits to the author’s authority, so he or she cannot know the character completely. In The Zorzi Affair, the character of Galileo is elusive and far away, so some readers may have difficulty identifying with him.

If you enjoy historical fiction in the vein of Ken Follett's work, you will definitely enjoy The Zorzi Affair. I highly recommend it

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Celebrate the Power of Women

In the United States, Women's History Month traces its beginnings back to the first International Women's Day  in 1911. In February 1980, President Jimmy Carter issued a presidential proclamation declaring the week of March 8, 1980, as National Women's History Week. The proclamation stated, "From the first settlers who came to our shores, from the first American Indian families who befriended them, men and women have worked together to build this nation. Too often the women were unsung and sometimes their contributions went unnoticed. But the achievements, leadership, courage, strength and love of the women who built America was as vital as that of the men whose names we know so well.
In 1987, after being petitioned by the National Women's History Project, Congress passed legislation which designated the month of March as Women’s History Month. As Dr. Gerda Lerner  has noted, 'Women’s history …is an essential and indispensable heritage from which we can draw pride, comfort, courage, and long-range vision.’ 
As evidenced by the huge turnout for the Women’s March on Washington, awareness of the contributions of women and girls continues to spread and be celebrated throughout the nation.Understanding the struggles of women throughout history will help us to comprehend the need for full equality under the law for all our people.
Celebrate Women's History Month with a free download of The Steel Canyon Legacy. Now through March 5 on Kindle.

The Steel Canyon Legacy

Wanda DeHaven Pyle is also the author of Windborne and The Stone House Legacy.  Follow her on Facebook and Twitter at 

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Dystopian Warnings

The popularity of movies and television shows like The Hunger Games, Doctor Who and The Walking Dead reflect a renewed interest in dystopian themes. Even Orwell’s classic novel, 1984, has seen a spike in sales in recent months. The irony, of course, is how closely these dystopian societies reflect the world we live in.

Let’s begin by examining the meaning of dystopia. Often seen as the direct opposite of utopia, dystopia refers to an imaginary place in which everything is unpleasant or bad. It is typically a totalitarian or environmentally degraded state in which the population is oppressed by corrupt leadership.

In literature, a dystopian society is usually characterized by those beliefs which are contrary to the author’s real feelings. For example, the author may portray a future society where mass poverty, public mistrust and suspicion, a police state or oppression are the norm. The author will then use the story to explore reasons why things are that way as an analogy for similar issues in the real world. Dystopian fiction is speculative in nature and provides a framework for mapping out the future. It extrapolates elements of contemporary society and thus can be read as political warnings.

In dystopian fiction, society itself is the antagonist.  It is society that is actively working against the protagonist’s aims and desires.  This oppression frequently is enacted by a totalitarian or authoritarian government, resulting in the loss of civil liberties and untenable living conditions, caused by a number of circumstances, such as world overpopulation, laws controlling a person’s sexual or reproductive freedom, and living under constant surveillance” (Adams, 2011). The interesting point is that some people within a dystopic society may not recognize or care about their loss of personal freedoms. They have been manipulated into passivity by the oppressive rules of the society in which they live.

In dystopian literature, the story is often unresolved.  The oppression that is tantamount to maintaining control of society is not brought down.  The hero may make a valiant stand against it, but he often fails. However, his attempt gives hope to others. Sometimes the climax is the hero’s escape from the dystopia (e.g. The Giver). Other times the hero fails to achieve anything and the dystopia continues as before.

One cannot help but draw certain parallels between the dystopian societies of literature and the events taking place in the world today. If we are to avoid the dire predictions presented in dystopian fiction, we must take heed of the warning signs present in real life. We cannot afford to be passive observers of the world around us and hope things will eventually work out for the best.  We must take action to preserve those personal freedoms we hold most dear.

Wanda DeHaven Pyle is the award-winning author of Windborne, and the legacy trilogy available now on Amazon and Kindle.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Facebook Wars and the Art of Persuasion

Whatever happened to civility and common decency?  When did it become acceptable to call people names and publicly castigate those who disagree with us? This is not a political commentary, so before you fire off a response on Twitter or Facebook, hear me out. 

Now, more than ever, we must practice tolerance and understanding. We must seek to find common ground for our differences. To do otherwise is to foster a climate of aggression and hate. In an age of technology, we must remember that words without the benefit of gestures, intonation, a smile or a wink, can easily be misconstrued. Therefore, we must choose our words carefully. There is no substitute for a face to face meeting where ideas can be shared and debated openly and without rancor. 

Our country was founded on the premise of diversity and acceptance. Our forefathers did not agree on everything, but they debated both sides and sought consensus and common ground on which to build our nation. Limiting the defense of one's position to 150 characters on Twitter does not allow for the building of a logical base for discussion. Instead, it only stokes the emotions of dissent. Arguing with strangers on Facebook, when you don't know the circumstances of their argument is futile.

That is not to say that one should never express an opinion in writing, However, one should be prepared to provide solid and substantial evidence in support of that argument. No one wins or is convinced by an argument based solely on emotions. Only the facts can convince someone to change their minds.  If those facts are absent or false, there is no argument. 

I am not naive. I know that sometimes even the facts are not enough to move someone whose beliefs are solidly ingrained. In that case, it's best to recognize the futility of the effort and move on. Save your energy for those who are willing to listen to reason and critically weigh the evidence.

At no time in history has there been a greater need to teach the skills of debate and critical thinking in our schools. This does not mean that educators should take sides in the debate. They should simply teach the art of persuasion as a tool for success in the workplace and in life. At some point, our children will need to convince a superior of an idea that may be different from current practice. They will need these skills to make their case.

But perhaps most importantly, our children need to be able to recognize and analyze the difference between truth and propaganda, even if the adults do not. Our future depends on it.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

In Praise of Nasty Women

Have you seen those "Nasty Woman" shirts that became popular during the election? While the original remark was intended as a negative comment against a woman who dared to enter the world of "good old boys" and fight for what she believed in, many women have taken up the phrase as a badge of honor.

Why is it that strong women who display some of the same characteristics that are admired in male leadership are considered "nasty" when they are seen in a woman? Throughout time, women have been expected to take a subordinate role to men. They were considered too emotional or too weak minded to understand the complexities of the male world. Of course, women today consider this view of a woman's role outdated and insulting. 

In the not too distant past, single women were expected to find a husband to provide for them as quickly as possible.  In return, the woman's role was to manage the household and raise the children. I can still remember being told as a young wife who dared to express a political opinion,  that "women should stick to their sewing circles!"  I was also told that the only reason a woman needed to go to college was to find a husband. God help us if we suddenly became single mothers!  If our husbands had not left us financially solvent, too bad!  We were expected to quickly find another man or manage on our own - quietly, without making our plight ruffle the feathers of the existing norms.

At first, I tried to fit the role that was expected of me.  But that shoe didn't fit. Eventually, I rebelled against a role I found stifling and demeaning...I became a "nasty woman."

In our defense, I don't think any of us really enjoy being nasty.  We felt forced into the role in order to make our voices heard. So it is not without a certain sense of pride that we wear the badge of "nasty women." We have worked hard to get to this point.  We are not going to give it up without a fight.

In The Steel Canyon Legacy, Tessa Kingsley is faced with the same dilemma. Can she find a balance between the life that is expected of her and the life she expects of herself?

Wanda DeHaven Pyle is the author of Windborne and the Legacy Trilogy.  Follow her on Facebook and Twitter at