Wednesday, October 7, 2020

IWSG: Working Writer or Spastic Creature?
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IWSG: a place where writers and friends share woes or hugs.
Welcome to mine!

October 7 question - When you think of the term working writer, what does that look like to you? What do you think it is supposed to look like? Do you see yourself as a working writer or aspiring or hobbyist, and if latter two, what does that look like?

Working writer to me means someone who has years of writing experience on their side, a few books published, has done a few interviews, participated in a few writer's conferences, hangs out with other writers, goes insane over deadlines or characters that just don't want to cooperate.

Also, I find it funny how the movies depict a writer as some mysterious, wise--or spastic--person who is looked upon with a degree of reverence.

photo by Tú Nguyễn @

I, for one, don't feel anywhere close to being revered or mysterious but I sure do feel spastic!

Am I the only one out there who thinks authors are made to look exotic? What does a working writer look like to you?

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Frozen Crimes Giveaway Bloghop with Crys Fey!

Welcome to Chrys Fey's Frozen Crimes BlOg HoP! Today, we will find out whom I  want to be stuck with during a blizzard, and what I would do!

Finland, Landscape, Scenic, Cabin, Hut, House

Photo by user 12019 @

 I take it that these poor folk would have no choice because it's my crazy wish. Cue the maniacal laughter: Buahahahaha!!!

Oh, along with a nervous chef--that way we get good food until the roads are cleared up! 

Hop around to the other participants to read their answers: 

 When disasters strike around every corner, is it possible to have a happily-ever-after?


BLURB: Beth and Donovan are expecting their first child. Life couldn’t get any better…until a stalker makes his presence known. This person sends disturbing messages and unsettling items, but it isn’t long before his menacing goes too far.

Hoping for a peaceful Christmas, Donovan takes Beth to Michigan. Days into their trip, a winter storm named Nemesis moves in with the goal of burying the state. Snowdrifts surround their house, and the temperature drops below freezing.

Except, the storm isn’t the only nemesis they must face. Everyone’s lives are at stake—especially that of their unborn child. Will they survive, or will they become a frozen crime?

BUY LINKS: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iTunes



The crunch of the shovel pounding into the snow and ice filled his ears. It was all he could hear. The rest of the street was silent beneath its wintry blanket. Breathing was difficult with the icy air clogging his lungs. His nose burned. His throat was dry and on fire. But he ignored it, focusing on his task.

Crack, crack, crack.

He jabbed the shovel into a hunk of snow. On the third hit, it shattered into several pieces. He scooped them up and flung them to the side. He surveyed what remained. There was one big ball in the middle of the path that needed to be dealt with next. He moved over to it and struck it. That one impact had it severing in two. He was about to hit it again when something crashed into the back of his head.

Explosions of white light danced over his vision. Pain enveloped his skull.

The shovel slipped from his fingers. Blackness cloaked his mind, coaxing him into its depths.

Beth. Her name was a whisper in his head, as if his thoughts were being sucked into a wormhole.

His legs collapsed under his weight.

Cold. It seeped into him, consuming him. And then his consciousness fled down that same void that ate his thoughts.





Prizes: 4 eBooks (Disaster Crimes 1-4: Hurricane Crimes, Seismic Crimes, Tsunami Crimes, Flaming Crimes) + Girl Boss Magnets (4), Inflatable Cup Holder (1), Adventure Fuel To-Go Cups (2), Anchor Fashion Scarf (1), Mermaid Nail Clippers (2), Citrus and Sea Salt Scented Candle (1), Snowflake Handmade Bookmark (1), Insulated Cooler Bag (1)


Eligibility: International

Number of Winners: One

Giveaway Ends: October 30, 2020 12:00am EST



a Rafflecopter giveaway



To get the exclusive prequel to the Disaster Crimes series, sign up for Chrys’ newsletter. By signing up, you agree to receive Chrys Fey’s newsletter. After you confirm subscription, you will receive an email (so check your inbox and spam folder) with directions on where to snag your eBook copy of THE CRIME BEFORE THE STORM.

Click here to sign up and get The Crime Before the Storm FREE!



Chrys Fey is author of the Disaster Crimes Series, a unique concept that blends disasters, crimes, and romance. She runs the Insecure Writer’s Support Group Book Club on Goodreads and edits for Dancing Lemur Press.

Author Links:

Website / Blog / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter / Amazon

Monday, September 14, 2020

Sherry Ellis and the Latin Flavor BlogHop!

Welcome to Sherry Ellis's fantastical Latin Flavors Blog Hop in celebration of her book ReLeAsE, Bubba and Squirt's Mayan Adventure (releases tomorrow, September 15th)!

We are to share a Latin recipe and I'm going to share a painting I've done with Latin flare. Meet La Muerte, pony style!

I painted this for my cousin from

Onto the recipe. Enjoy!

MEXICAN NOODLE BAKE (From my sister!)

13x9 baking dish
cup or so of pasta (any kind!)
1 pound of hamburger
1 packet of taco seasoning salt and pepper to taste
1/2 onion--chopped fresh or powdered garlic to taste
1 can of tomato sauce
1 can of diced tomatoes
1 can of black beans
1 can of kidney beans
1 cup cheese for topping

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Start by frying beef in skillet & cooking pasta. Chop onion and throw in skillet. Add garlic, salt, pepper, & taco seasonings to taste. Open cans of diced tomato, tomato sauce, & kidney beans, dump in skillet. Only drain and rinse black beans (reduced sodium). Throw in pasta, stir all & let simmer for 5 minutes. Adjust all seasonings. Dump all into the baking dish, top with desired cheese (I usually freezes a combo Ziploc bag of mozzarella & cheddar when I buy bags of each in bulk at Sam's Club). Bake covered until cheese melts or all is bubbly, about 20 minutes.

*if pressed for time: After following stove top directions, throw it all into a *huge* mixing bowl and heat it up in the microwave
Also delicious with plain tortilla chips for dipping

Bubba and Squirt’s Mayan Adventure by Sherry Ellis

An ancient Mayan civilization!

That's what Bubba and Squirt find when they travel through the mysterious vortex for another wild adventure. There they meet archeologists who are unearthing priceless artifacts.

But someone is stealing them. And an encounter with the Tate Duende awakens magic within Bubba. Throw in the mysterious Alux and a new discovery and things get sticky.

Will Bubba and Squirt solve the mystery, or will they be stuck forever in the jungles of Belize?

Release date - September 15, 2020
$7.95, 6x9 trade paperback, 96 pages
Juvenile Fiction - Action Adventure (JUV001000)/Legends, Myths, Fables-Caribbean & Latin American(JUV012070)/Fantasy & Magic(JUV037000)
Print ISBN 9781939844705 / EBook ISBN 9781939844712
$3.99 EBook available in all formats

Sherry Ellis is an award-winning author and professional musician who plays and teaches the violin, viola, and piano. When she is not writing or engaged in musical activities, she can be found doing household chores, hiking, or exploring the world. Ellis lives in Atlanta, Georgia.

Congratulations, Sherry!

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

IWSG: Writing during the Pandemic
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IWSG: a place where writers and friends share woes or hugs.
Welcome to mine!

From what I know about writers, we are natural introverts, obeying those voices in our heads. I mean, what would a writer rather do? Writing is an isolated experience when it comes right down to it. Writers, though preferring to be lost in the worlds they create, are also human. Right?

I do wonder, however, how we, as writers, are really faring during this COVID19 Pandemic and its social distancing.  

My home life hasn't changed much as I've been homeschooling for the past 6 years, but has only reinforced our hermitlike state.

More like Writer's Dream House. Haha...

I do miss going to the library and writing without distraction and being surrounded by books! I also miss going to the theatres so much! I can only imagine how it is for Alex Cavanaugh with them being closed and how he'd go to the latest to review them. The agony!


I hear how it's impacting people but am curious about how it's affecting writers. I read in my comments from my last post that now isn't a great time for authors to release books. Things change drastically when it affects home directly--I pray for the health of my friends out there. 

How has it impacted your writing? What about overall?

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

IWSG: Welcome to Chrys Fey's Blog Hop!
click on image to join other IWSG writers!
IWSG: a place where writers and friends share woes or hugs.
Welcome to mine!

Welcome to Crys Fey's Blog Hop at WriteWithFey!  Today, we are combining with IWSG and sharing our story about writer's block, depression, and/or burnout and how we overcame it or what we are currently doing to heal.

Here we goooo!

Since the beginning of this summer, my creative flow has waned significantly! First, I had barely found the desire to edit an already completed novel but the further into the story I got, the less interested I became. I switched to writing a short story: I came up with the outline from beginning to end and started the first chapter with full power but then my juice dropped off the precipice of doom! Next, I decided to illustrate a children's book for my little boy because I've refused to go to the library because of COVID19 so I figured I could write up a library for my little one and get him interested in reading again! But then my desire to do that stopped. I tried creating memes (which I enjoy doing) but even that fell flat!

It was so disheartening that I cried and went to pray over it. I felt peaceful during the prayer and the thought to fake it til I make it and I will succeed came to me. I decided that just because I don't feel like doing it doesn't mean I should obey that notion. I can work past it.

I know this may sound pretty simple but it sure gave me courage to move past the horrible funk.

Keep Writing with Fey Blog Hop: Share your story about writer's block, depression, and/or burnout and how you overcame it or what you are currently doing to heal.

Catch the sparks you need to conquer writer’s block, depression, and burnout!

When Chrys Fey shared her story about depression and burnout, it struck a chord with other writers. That put into perspective for her how desperate writers are to hear they aren’t alone. Many creative types experience these challenges, battling to recover. Let Keep Writing with Fey: Sparks to Defeat Writer's Block, Depression, and Burnout guide you through:

·        Writer's block
·        Depression
·        Writer's burnout
·        What a writer doesn’t need to succeed
·        Finding creativity boosts

With these sparks, you can begin your journey of rediscovering your creativity and get back to what you love - writing.


Amazon / Nook / iTunes / Kobo


Chrys Fey is the author of Write with Fey: 10 Sparks to Guide You from Idea to Publication. She is also the author of the Disaster Crimes series. Visit her blog, Write with Fey, for more tips on how to reverse writer’s burnout.

How have you found yourself again after writer's block or depression?

The Blog Hop:

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

IWSG: My Book Cover Designing Experience!
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IWSG: a place where writers and friends share woes or hugs.
Welcome to mine!

Today, I'm sharing an adventure of book cover making--sorry, it's not a tutorial but a rough outline. After a painful learning curve with using an art program (it took me about a solid week of over 8 hours a day to learn it!), a lot of authorly graphic making stuff has become so easy for me!

My favorite art program to use is Medibang Paint Pro. I can cut and paste and duplicate and layer and edit photos.

Meet My Perfect Match: Ryan Greyson, all-star football player, lives a life of parties, kissing, and Friday night games. He believes all girls are made equal until his first blind date with Kimber who’s everything he’s not, and he can’t keep his mind off her. Will he lose his royal status with the team?

First, I decided on the concept art of the cover. Because it's a YA clean romance, I studied Amazon's book covers for that genre and the idea was born: A girl leaning into the boy as though in a kiss.

I next spent many hours searching through football pictures through Pexels, Pixabay, and Unsplash. I was very picky with the images I needed. I had to get a player all by himself. Like this:

Photo by Football Wife @ Pexels

Next, I needed to find a photo of a woman who faced "Ryan". I cut around her and pasted her onto his photo, but I had to adjust the lighting on her dress so that it matched the daylight of the field. It was no easy feat.

Photo by Allison Heine @ Unsplash

I found a separate photo of those red curls and carefully cut them out and pasted them. I inked in shade after matching the color between the two characters, the grass beneath her feet, and anything along her dress.

I used this template from Amazon for a 6x9 book cover (I was able to download it after setting up my other book, My Christmas Miracle) and placed it as the first layer and started playing around with font styles and lined them up.

I drew in my own flowers--not using any type of font. I can draw my own flowers, thank you!

My Perfect Match is book 3 of My Perfect Kiss Series--it's all still a work in progress. I'm not sure what prompted me to try doing the book covers out of order. Artist prerogative?

What cool stuff have you learned as an author?

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

What are Writing Secrets?

IWSG: a place where writers and friends share woes or hugs.
Welcome to mine!

June 3 question - Writers have secrets! What are one or two of yours, something readers would never know from your work?

What? Secrets? Every writer has them? Where have I been!? lol

blue and black butterfly
Photo by Beckett Ruiz @
Okay, seriously, my secret is that I used to feel so left out of the loop of writerhood, I'd get frustrated at how other writers refused to share their "secrets" with me.

Secrets as in how did they learn how to format an ebook and a print book? How did they get marketing to work for them? Why didn't they ever let me join their critique circles? Why was I always so left out?

One day after that, I had a friend tell me that books are consumable--there is no such thing as really getting ahead of anywriter else. I agreed and yet, I was stuck in this loop where others refused to help.

blue butterfly on hand
Photo by  Christian Wiediger @
Fast forward 8 years and it seems as though everyone has realized the wisdom of the philosophy that books are consumable items and we all need each other!

I learned how to format a print and electronic book, there are writing communities now who are actually willing to share painful experiences as well as the mechanics of problems that arise (such as losing reviews on an existing book when all you want to do is update the cringy story text on Amazon).

Butterfly, Blue, Forest, Fantasy, Woods, Dream, Surreal
Photo by Stergo @

My "writing secret" is that I don't have any; I'm the kind of person who loves to share growing pains with others so that they won't have to suffer. The key is, getting them to actually talk to me--people are too busy being busy.

I know this is probably not what IWSG meant by writerly secrets but there you go.

What are your writing secrets?

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

When Dreams Fall Apart
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IWSG: a place where writers and friends share woes or hugs.
Welcome to mine!

Sometimes the path we have set changes so suddenly, we lose ourselves especially when it shatters our dreams. A perfectly-not-so-perfect world is thrown off its axis and it becomes difficult to hang onto.

man leaning on wall

Without saying too much, something in my life has changed so drastically that I've lost my will to write, to create! I've been living in survival mode to the point that almost everything has lost its pleasure. I think of writing as something glorious I once enjoyed and yearn for those days of old (it was only earlier this year that I'd written something, so 2 months without writing is a lot for me).

Today, I decided to read a few children's stories to my 7 year old that I'd written several years ago and am feeling some small stirrings awaken.

Writing has always been a part of me--through thick and thin. It's my source of escapism, my place of sanity. Knowing this brings peace because I've always come back to it.

landscape photography of person's hand in front of sun
Photo by Marc-Olivier Jodoin on

I find the best way to awaken my desire to get back into writing is by reading a few of my works for the fun of it. I will start there. I hope to bring it back to life.

woman wearing white and gray striped sleeveless dress smelling the air standing in the pink flower field at daytime
Photo by Johen Redman on

As for the rest of me, I will be good to myself and appreciate the little things in life that have always brought a smile.

How do you get back to your writing after facing a crisis?

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

IWSG: Marketing
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IWSG: a place where writers and friends share woes or hugs.
Welcome to mine!

As published authors living in 2020, much has changed since 2011. Back in the day when my first book, Darkspell, released, we did shoutouts and book launches on Facebook, Twitter, held blog tours, bloggers reviewed like crazy but now ... things aren't the same anymore!

woman wearing white and red blouse buying some veggies
Photo by Renate Vanaga @ Usplash

I'd taken a step back from publicity into my writerly cave for the past eight years and kept writing and writing and have since published a few more books. I've seen major changes from the way I used to market my book to now. They have drastically changed.

Business, Tree, Growth, Success, Team, Teamwork, Profit
photo by geralt @ Pixabay

Whether we are self- or traditionally published, no one will love our books as much as their creators, and we are still urged to market them even when done the traditional route.

Bearing this in mind, what strategies work or have worked for you? Where are your goto platforms? How do you keep the marketing alive for a book that released four months or later?

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

IWSG: Book Life after Life?

IWSG: a place where writers and friends share woes or hugs.
Welcome to mine!

person stepping on garbabe
Photo by Quinten de Graaf on

So, your rights revert back to you and you want to breathe new life into the old book. Maybe a new cover and a rewrite since you published it some odd years ago and it has a cringy feel.

How do you go about doing this without losing all the many existing reviews?

I know some update the book and save it as a minor change so as to keep the same ISBN and reviews. Others republish altogether but lose the preexisting reviews.

three pupas
Photo by Suzanne D. Williams @

Yes, I have a book I published a while back and I'm not happy with the cover any longer. I've rewritten the book, too. Made it tighter. Cleaner. Improved characterization. I've yet to format it. I'm still mulling over the new cover.

Have you encountered this dilemma? Is it best to put out a second edition with a different ISBN? Any thoughts? Suggestions? Help!

Friday, February 21, 2020

Inside John's Brain: an author interview

Welcome John D. Payne to my blog, author of 
Joined in Silence a story from the steampunk anthology, A Mighty Fortress!

Let's see what's in his brain and what he reveals about his writerly antics. Ready? Here we go!

1) Tell us a little about yourself. 

I'm a full-time dad to four small children, including a newborn who recently won Best in Show at the county fair. My previous job was assistant professor of security studies, for which I taught classes on terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, and homeland security. One of the big surprises of the last few years has been discovering the small, but non-zero, overlap between those two knowledge bases. 

I grew up on the prairie, but now live with my wife and family in southern New Mexico, where I’m learning all about the wonders of the desert. (Did you know there are cactus that will shoot needles at you? Ever hear about werewolf mice?) I’m also learning to appreciate how lovely, green, and temperate our town is compared to our nearest neighboring city, El Paso. 

I know what you mean, John--I grew up in El Paso and it is very brown there. Very brown.

2) What started you on the writing path? 

I've always had creative outlets of various kinds. When I was in elementary school, I did a lot of creative writing, played a lot of Dungeons and Dragons, and made a bunch of delightfully violent comic books with my best buddy. Also a Garfield / Star Wars mashup that I think Disney will be optioning any day now. 

For one semester in college, I was an English major. Then Orson Scott Card said writers should learn to write by writing, and should study something else so they have something to say about the world. So I changed majors, but kept writing. 

That's smart advice, John! Thanks for sharing that.

When I started my doctoral program, I thought I had better focus, and so I gave up fiction writing completely. But that made me miserable, and didn’t help me get my degree faster, so I returned to writing, like a dog to his yummy and very appetizing snack that is definitely not vomit. 

Lovely visual, John. Thanks.

So that’s where I am now, writing fantasy fiction and role-playing games. Hooray! 

3) Do you believe personal experience has influence over your writing? If yes, in what way has it manifested? 

Well, I write a lot more stories with babies in them than I used to. 

4) How was writing this story different from what you typically write? What challenges did you face as you did? 

This was a weird one. I thought it would be a two or 300 word coda at the end of another story (“Strange Pilgrims,” published in the first Mormon steampunk collection, All Made of Hinges). But then the story just kept growing and growing. 

Hey, I have a story in All Made of Hinges as well! It's "Avenger's Angel". Glad to have you join me in A Mighty Fortress as well!

One challenge for me in writing this piece was that the viewpoint character is a real person who lived and wrote hymns and had descendents who might read this book. I didn’t want to do him an unkindness, so I read as much as I could about him. In the end, though, the real Hans Henry didn’t live in a world of Juggernauts and Automatons, so I hope his progeny can forgive me for taking a few liberties with their honored ancestor. 

5) Have you written steampunk before? What do you like best about it? Least?

I’ve published one other steampunk story (see above), and I really enjoyed creating the world. I certainly hope I get the chance to revisit it in the future. I love my Helvetic machines! 

6) What is the title of your story in which anthology? In a few lines, what is your story about? 

My story is called “Joined in Silence,” and it’s about the secret origins of a hymn. It features an escaped labor robot, two Danes, and a mystery guest, debating in the middle of the night about who can be a child of God. Also, there is a baby that at first is crying and later is not crying anymore. 

Ooh, this is fascinating. Delving into the human mind in relation to the mechanical man. I wonder what he has to say about it as well?

7) What factors influenced the plot, characters, and setting?

 Well, basically the whole story is a re-telling-- or, re-imagining, if you will-- of Die Hard, mixed with the creation myth found in the Popol Vuh. So every element had to be chosen carefully to fit the source material. 

Just kidding. I don’t know how to answer this question. 


8) Who is your favorite character and why? 

My favorite character is actually never seen in the story, at least by the protagonist. He’s a house-gnome named Mr. White, and like all his kind he hides from humans. He’s actually the one who wrote the words to the hymn, and he’s lurking under the floorboards during the whole conversation. The little sneak! 

Um, not sure if I can believe you on this one. I suppose I'd just have to read the book to find out! 

9) If you got sucked into your story, what would be the first thing you’d do? Be honest: do you really think you’d do well with your current skillset? Explain. 

First off, I think I’d have to explain how I got into Hans Henry’s house, and that would be a tough job because it’s the middle of the night and he’s already got uninvited guests. But if I could talk him out of showing me to the curb, I think I could help him work out some harmonies for the song, at least for the men’s parts. 

10) What is it you hope your readers will take away from your story? 

A desire to sit down at the piano and sing a few hymns with someone you love. 

11) What’s your favorite quote? Any last words? 

Well, here’s a little passage from the story that I like: 

The mechanical man’s face remained fixed in a calm, mildly pleasant expression. Because that was its only expression. “True, my body was created by human beings. But so was yours. After a fashion.” 

Hans Henry shook his head vigorously. “You cannot compare the sacred act of procreation between man and wife to, to…” he spluttered with indignation, “factory workers assembling a machine, no matter how sophisticated.” 

“The process is very different, I will admit…” 

Thanks, everybody! Buy the book!

Clever clever, indeed, John. Thank you for humoring me and answering my questions no matter how odd they might have felt to you. I look forward to reading your story! 

Here are author John D. Payne's links so you can stalk him to your heart's desire! Muahahaha!

"Hans Henry did not expect the knock in the night, or the self-emancipated labor automaton, Brother Pilgram. A simple request to have a song written has Brother Pilgram, Hans and his wife at odds about what life means."