NEW Steampunk Anthology by Author Joylene Nowell Butler

A warm welcome to  today’s guest  Joylene Nowell Butler with her newest release





Joylene, Métis, has been writing her entire life. She began her first novel in 1983 to honour the passing of her father. Today she and her husband live in the home they built with their own hands on Cluculz Lake. Her first novel Dead Witness was a finalist in the 2012 Global eBook Awards. Her suspense thriller Broken But Not Dead won the 2012 IPPY Silver Medal for Canada West. Her newest novel Break Time, the steampunk anthology is now available on Kindle and in print. Joylene is currently applying final touches to two suspense thrillers. Contact her at cluculzwriter at yahoo dot ca


HEROES: Standing the Test of Time


I’m often asked how I create strong protagonists for my suspense novels. I love answering that question because in the initial stages my protagonists are anything but strong.

When introduced for the first time, Valerie (Dead Witness), Brendell (Broken But Not Dead), and Dakota (Break Time), tortured my beta readers with their blandness.

My weakness lies in structure, so creating a compelling protagonist isn’t a priority until the second draft.  Sorry, critique partners.


Through editing and revising I’m able to spin those flat, cardboard characters into real heroes.



Take flawed, boring characters, who are often self-deluded, threatened their loved ones or their world, then watch as they have no choice but to become reluctant heroes.

Readers are presented with a wide array of suspense novels today, so to compete, our cover must be striking, the blurb must whet their appetite, and the first page must hook them.

None of that matters if our narrator is a bore.

Over the course of her life, Valerie (DW) has given up her identity to please everyone. Weighed down by her responsibilities, she’s lost herself.

However, after the FBI fakes her death, Valerie doesn’t ask someone else to save her children when the mafia threatens to kill them to stop her from testifying. Nor does she think twice about risking her life. She does what’s needed to save her family.

Brendell (BBND) is a miserable, bitter, middle-aged woman. How do you turn such a character around so readers love her the way you do? (BBND won IPPY Silver Medal, 2012)

While writing her story, I listened. I learned why she was bitter. Too many times society had kicked her while she was down. When the story opens, Brendell–enshrouded in her bitterness–has one redeeming quality: she is a good mother who adores her daughter Zoe.

That adoration is her saving grace. When a deranged psychopath threatens Zoe, Brendell goes after him with the fury of a lioness protecting her cub.

To date, Dakota (BT) is the most difficult character I’ve ever written. He’s a seer who scorns his gift; and like Brendell, can’t trust easily. Anticipating his next moves became brutal. Because Break Time is a collaborative steampunk anthology, I didn’t have the luxury of a full novel to explore his motivations.

But again, like Valerie and Brendell, Dakota is a flawed character who loves his family so profoundly, he’s able to commit the ultimate act to save them.

By now you’ve noticed a common thread running through my work. All my protagonists feel alienated and alone, yet are willing to risk everything, including their lives, for the sake of loved ones.

In 1983 I lost my father. Between 1991 and 2006, we lost our twins. Thirty-one years and I continue to create heroes who are able to do what I couldn’t. And while to me that seems pathetic, it’s what many writers do. We create heroes who fix what we can’t.

We liv life vicariously through them.

If you’re a writer, then you understand that writing is who you are. Regardless of how we may feel about ourselves at any given moment, it’s a glorious process to mold a flat character into a hero. Brave. Larger than life. A fictional being who (if we do our jobs correctly) will stand the test of time and live forever.

How do you write strong characters?

Make their life hell, then show them fighting all the way to the finish line.


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Author of Dead Witness, Broken But Not Dead , Break Time, and the e-book version of Dead Witness



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Tweet: @cluculzwriter

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