Plotting Circles & Why I Love Them

Plotting Circles, and why I love them.

Good morning, it’s great to see everyone here. Over the course of my writing career I’ve used many programs and tools to plot. Even though I’m a pantser/plotter, but I always come back to my plotting circle to begin a story.



green circle


Everything in the circle is what initial comes to me before I think to write a story. It’s like a movie running in my head. And darn, it always seems to happen just before I drop off to sleep or am about to wake. That’s the reason I keep a note pad and pencil on the nightstand, and a recorder (in case I’m too lazy to come awake.)


What determines if a character whether the protagonist, villain, or secondary character is crucial in a story? It’s what they contribute to move it along. You always need a protagonist, but not a villain if it is a romance. Secondary characters are fun to write because most times they’re the ones causing havoc with the main characters. And it’s a great place to unload your inner demons.

The next circle I use is the full plot circle. This is where everything I can imagine that can happen in the story goes. It doesn’t matter if it’s off the wall, or will never make it into the book, it goes here.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          blue circle                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The most important part of the circle is you can’t go wrong. Plot any way you like. I find the plot circle allows me to see everything right in front of me when I start to write the first three chapters. Yep, I tape it to the wall or lamp in front of my computer and if I get stuck or wonder why I’m putting that into the story, I only need to glance up and say Awww! Now I remember, or no, that doesn’t work anymore. And I might create a new circle as I get a quarter into the book to update and change plot points.


I don’t use the circles to build my characters bios. Those I put on large graph paper and pin to the wall. As I write the novel or novella, I’m constantly checking to make sure I didn’t give Jake Carrington black hair with smoky gray eyes when in all the other books he has reddish brown hair and green eyes.  Lol, I’d never forget Jake, but I might with a repeating secondary character and their stats are as important as the hero’s.


I hope this helped. If you’re interested in checking out Jake Carrington and his band of characters, his second book, All the Hidden Sins releases on July 31st. If you read it, I’d love to hear back on your thoughts on both the story and the characters.


Enjoy your week, and keep reading. Here’s a quote I love:


“Books are the plane, and the train, and the road. They are the destination, and the journey. They are home.”
― Anna Quindlen, How Reading Changed My Life


cover All The Hidden Sins

Visit my author  page at: Marian Lanouette

Website: Marian’s Website

Deadlines, Writing, & Creativity

So many things have happened around the world the past couple of weeks, and it’s hard to decide what to write about. Do we address it or move on.
As with all my sisters, my heart goes out to the children and families in Florida. I feel my sister in suspense, Kathryn Jane, said it elegantly in her post this week, and I could not add any more to her heartwarming piece except to continue to pray for all.

Deadlines, writing, creativity—do they blend?
Outside deadlines are new to me. I’ve set my own for my books and adhered to them. Though I’m finding having one from an outside source are different and add a layer of stress as I rush toward them.

I was lucky to be awarded a contract for four books in the Jake Carrington thriller series, from Kensington/Lyrical, though the contract came with an aggressive schedule. I gladly signed the bottom line. And today the first one All the Deadly Lies will be released to the world. I’m thrilled working with my editor Michaela and the team Kensington gave me. They’ve made the books stronger and more intriguing. What is different for me is editing one or two books while writing the next one in the series.

Lanouette.All The Deadly Lies

Editing and writing have a different mindset. As a book comes due, there are immediate edits that require a fast turnaround. That means no matter where I am in the writing process on the next book, it has to be put aside while the edits are completed. But like my career before writing (accounting) I’m used to the pressure to make a deadline. I’m even finding it fun, nerve-racking, and creative in the sense the story has to be finished by a certain date. Before I turn a book in on its scheduled date, I submit it to my personal editor. She reviews and corrects problems with in the story threads, grammar errors and overall storyline. She then makes suggestions to strengthen the novel. After we go a round or two, or more, I then submit it to my editor at Kensington for publication. PS, it then goes through more edits before it actually gets published.

With the fourth book I had gotten a slow start while working the edits on the first three, and allowed the looming deadline to freak me out. I’m happy to report I’m now pounding away at the keys everyday as the characters, their stories and words fill the page as May approaches.


It’s as Vicki Batman a fellow sister e said last Friday in her post, writing is a trip down discovery lane. And to me the journey is fun, scary, and fulfilling as I get to see part of it come to fruition today with the release of All the Deadly Lies.

I hope everyone has a wonderful, productive week.


To connect with Marian and her books follow the links below:

Where to buy All the Deadly Lies

Publisher Kensington/Lyrical:


Barnes and Noble




Bio: Marian Lanouette
A self-described tough blonde from Brooklyn, Marian Lanouette grew up as one of ten children. As far back as she could remember Marian loved to read. She was especially intrigued by the Daily News crime reports. Tragically, someone she knew was murdered. The killer never found.

Her Jake Carrington thriller are inspired by her admiration for police work, her experience in working a crematorium, and her desire to write books where good prevails, even in the darkest times. Marian lives in New England with her husband.


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Marian’s Website





Marian’s Amazon Author Page
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Buy Links:

Connect with Marian at Kensington







What Reading Means to Me


I devour romantic suspense, mysteries and romance.  I also write them.


I wanted to blog on a subject that encompassed all three. Research was a perfect fit. Today most can be done online, but I still do it the old-fashioned way of going to the library. It forces me to leave my desk, and interact with the outside world. I know it sounds crazy but I love the perusal of titles as I move down the shelves. There’s an excitement that builds until I reach that one special book that says “Pick Me, Pick Me.”


I know, I can hear you say, ‘of course, you’re an author, you’re supposed to feel that way.”




It has nothing to do with writing. The very first time my mother took my brothers and sisters and me to the New York Public library in the city it grabbed my heart and didn’t let go. It’s magnificent.  This was also the first time I got to pick without guidance a book of my own choosing.  One that wasn’t required reading for school.  I’m sure she was overseeing the titles to make sure it was age appropriate. But I didn’t care.  Magic happened between those pages on that day as I flipped through the first chapter of each book, before I decided on that one special story to bring home. We were only allowed one book at a time. It was one of my mother’s many rules. With ten children it made it easier for her to keep track of all of them.

Here’s the regal reading room at the NYPL. It’s one of my favorite places on earth.\

nypl regal reading room



If I found two, I’d write down the title and stick it in my pocket for the next visit.  Summer for me wasn’t about running around crazy. It was sitting under a tree or on the beach with a book in my hand as it whisked me away to foreign lands, secretive places or handsome lovers with a promise of ‘happily ever after.’ Oh, yes, books were that and more to me, each one worth its weight in gold.


To this day, I get lost in a story so much it takes me a few minutes to rejoin the real world once I put the book down.  It drives my husband crazy. He’s since learned that he needs to get my attention before he speaks if he wants me to remember the conversation.  As a child in a five room apartment occupied by twelve people (5 brothers, 4 sisters, 2 parents and I), I learned to shut off my ears to read, to escape into its world. I vacationed inside the pages, while my friends went on planes or traveled by car.


I think writing came naturally after reading so much. Though I loved the stories I read, I had so many more inside my head shouting to get out. With the encouragement of my third grade teacher, Mrs. Wright, I started putting my stories on paper, and I’ve never stopped. In fact, reading and writing had helped me through a long recovery from open heart surgery and got me first contract.

How about you? What is it about reading that you love?  Please share your first memory of your visit to the library or the bookstore.

Author Bio

One of ten children Marian Lanouette/Merry Holly took up writing to explore new and adventurous places. While her friends traveled on planes for vacation, Marian/Merry traveled in books. With an overactive imagination she started creating her own characters and stories. Romance and mysteries are her favorite genres.

The Season of Anthologies are Marian/Merry’s brain child. The books in the series include the following; Season of Magic Holiday Box Set (2014), Season of Love (2015), Season of Surprises Holiday Box Set (2015) and Season of Thrills mystery/suspense/ thriller box set (2015). Season of Promises debuts this fall (2016).

An avid reader, she discovered her love of mysteries by reading the Daily News as a youngster. Intrigued by the real life crimes, and how the police worked and eventually solved cases, ignited her imagination beyond the ordinary. She’s working on the third book in her Jake Carrington Mystery series titled Mated for Life.

Season of Promises Holiday Box Set will be released in the fall of 2016.

Connect with Marian Lanouette

Marian 119 author pic

Marian’ Amazon Author Page:


The print cover

Buy Links:

Amazon: Burn in Hell, A Jake Carrington Mystery

Barnes & Noble: Burn in Hell, A Jake Carrington Mystery