Thursday, February 22, 2018

When the #amwriting voices aren’t just in your head ~ by Leah St. James

Piggy-backing off Jannine’s post the other day about how BURIED TRUTH came about, I thought I’d share something that happened to me a few years ago at my day job. It hasn’t made its way into a published book yet, but it’s definitely in the works.

As I’ve mentioned a few times, I work for a local news organization. We publish the daily newspaper for our area. It’s not uncommon for visitors to stop into our lobby to get help with their accounts or to share “news.” (Once a woman stopped by to tell us she saw a cloud formation in the shape of Jesus. Another time a woman brought by an oddly shaped sweet potato.)  But sometimes the messages visitors bring really make me think. Like this instance...

Receptionist on the phone: "Leah? There's a ... gentleman in the lobby. He wants to speak with someone in the newsroom about a...uh...a story he wants published."

Me (sighing, not too subtly):  "Really? I'm so busy. Can you take his name and number? Or tell him to leave a copy?"

Receptionist:  "He won't leave until he speaks to someone personally." (Big pause while I tried to figure out a way to squirm out of the request.) Then she whispered, "He said God told him to come."

Me: "God? As in, you know, the guy heaven, I mean?"

Receptionist: "Yes. God. THE God."

Me:  "I'll be down in a minute."

I'm not sure why I gave in so easily, relatively speaking, but I went downstairs and introduced myself to the man. He was maybe in his mid-60s and called himself "Golden Boy." He proceeded to tell me he'd done terrible things in his life. Because of his choices, he'd lost his wife and his children. (Thankfully he clarified that they were estranged, not dead.) He'd been to jail and served time for serious crimes.   

While he spoke, his eyes remained on mine, steadily, without a blink. 

In his hand he held a laminated sheet of pinkish-purple notepaper. At the top of the sheet he'd written, "God said," followed by a series of sentence fragments, prophecies of the end of the world by means of cataclysmic natural events, exhorting the reader to publish. He handed it to me and watched while I read it.

My insides churned.  I looked up from the page. "I don't understand. Why did you bring this here?"   
Man: "The word needs to get out."

Me:  "I'm sorry, sir. We can't publish this."

Man: "I didn't say I wanted it published in the paper. I said I wanted the word to get out. I don't care what you do with it. God told me to bring it here. I'm looking in your eyes. I can see you understand. You do with it what you will."

With that, he turned to leave, looking back as he shouldered the door open. "God put it in your hands now. You're the one."

Even now as I think of that moment, shivers skitter up my spine.

When I told the editor about it, she asked me why I hadn't called security. I said, "He seemed harmless enough. It's not like he was going to kill me with paper cuts."

"Leah," she said with a kind of tone she typically reserves for a misbehaving puppy, "if someone comes in the lobby and says God sent him and that you're the one, call security."

I know she's right. And I know I'm terribly gullible at times. But the writer in me loves those encounters, the ones that wrap themselves around our imaginations and form the roots of our stories. The encounters with strangers that make us ask, “What if?”

What if God had sent him?

What if it was God's nudging that made me go down that day?

What if there is some message in there we were  supposed to impart to the world? (See my imagination running amok here!?)

I haven’t heard from him since, but judging by the natural disasters that have taken place in the years since, he might have been on to something.

Just thinking about it now, my brain is going in a dozen different directions that make me want to start writing, start shaping those thoughts into a story...enough so I’m tempted to put aside my long-suffering WIP to get started! Maybe I’ll use it as incentive instead: Leah, you can work on the “You’re the One” story ONLY WHEN you finish your current WIP.” Who knows, it might work!


Leah writes stories of mystery and romance, good and evil, and the power of love. She blogs here on the 6th and 22nd of each month.  Learn more about her writing at or visit her on Facebook.

Happy reading!

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

#amwriting Back to work by Barbara Edwards

I’m working on my manuscript. It’s been a challenge. I finally feel like I’m back in a routine and my computer dies a horrible death. Drowned in my husband’s cup of coffee.

While it was being replaced, I used a legal pad and a pen to write.
I think I will keep using a pad. It was freeing. 

I had gotten in the habit of taking my computer with me, but it’s often difficult to read the screen or just hold it on my lap. Typing while on the road is awkward.

So I have incorporated writing on the pad, then the next day adding that to my manuscript. It has returned me to a successful routine. I add the previous day’s work, correct any errors and go forward from there.

This might not work for you, but it is getting me back in the groove.

Please follow, friend or like me. I love to hear from my readers.
Amazon Author’s Page

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

You never know where research will lead. #Hippofarts #TimeWaste #LOL

               Why I'll never be a prolific writer...

With great interest I read writing tips from other authors. "Such great advice," I say as I jot down a few notes. "I must start doing this." They fill me with admiration. I marvel at how others have mastered their time. I mentally chastise my own lack of organization and diligence.

If I could be that dedicated...I sit back and envision all my success. I'd easily triple my daily word count and be able to finish books in record time.

Filled with renewed determination, I open Word where I'm ready to start the next scene. It will begin on a dramatic note. 

Here is a brief synopsis of what is in this next chapter:

    Buffeted by a growing storm, Justin, my stalwart vampire-hero, searches for the surly, teenage neophyte his brother dumped on him. Gwyndolyn's taken off in a snit and while the solitary Justin would like to let her go, it isn't that easy. Council Law forbids the turning of one so young, and this leaves him in a quandry. Until he can figure out what to do, he knows the only way to protect Gwyn and his lawbreaking brother is to keep her out of sight. 
    He catches up with her right as she is breaking too many laws to count. Evidently, a woman tumbled off the craggy cliff running along the Amber River. Gwyndolyn, for her own selfish reasons, had decided to save her by making her a vampire too.  
    Unfortunately, her neophyte blood is too weak to complete the transformation. The woman has been left 'stunted' or stuck in a void between the human and vampire worlds. Justin could let her die. It would be the logical thing to do and would prevent many forseeable problems. Even as he has the thought, he knows he will do all he can to save her.
    But time is running out as a funnel cloud descends from the sky...

So this is where I'm at in the story. I start thinking about tornadoes and how I want to describe this one. Ah, research. Such an invaluable a tool and my absolute favorite time waster. Youtube, here I come for all your fascinating clips. I watch and listen to various cyclones in progress.  

Then I stumble upon this and have to watch it several times as I'm just that warped.

There are 5 different entries showing variations of Hippo Breaking Wind Sounds Like Tornado. By the time I watched each and every one, I was out of writing time.  

I'll try to be more organized tomorrow. Still laughing, I go to attend to other things.

Author of The Blautsaugers of Amber Heights Series
It's A Wonderful Undead Life
Vampire In The Scrying Glass
A Vampire To Be Reckoned With
Cold Hearted Vampire
Diaper Duty Vampire - novella bridging gap between The Blautsaugers of Amber Heights Series and the new Vampires of Amber Heights Series. 

Unrelated: Back to Hell a novella written for Kindle Worlds.

Buylinks: AMAZON
                THE WILD ROSE PRESS
                BARNES & NOBLE NOOK
                APPLE Itunes

Monday, February 19, 2018

How Not to Fail by Alicia Dean

I have limited time to write, so I have to figure out how to make the time I have productive, and how to not be overwhelmed by all I'd like to accomplish. I read two articles recently, and one was a blog post by our own Diane Burton. The first article was about creating a 'writing ritual' similar to the superstitious rituals that baseball players go through. Although, in this case, the ritual is more about forming a habit that links to your writing. I love the sound of rain and the smell of coffee. So, I decided that would be my ritual. Thanks to modern technology, there are limitless Youtube videos of rain sounds. The below is one of my favorites, because it is accompanied by a crackling fire...

I also bought coffee beans and I carry them around in an empty spice bottle, and I have them sitting on my computer desk.

The blog post Diane wrote that helped me was about dividing the word count of the manuscripts you wish to complete this year by the number of days left in the year. It somehow makes the projects seem manageable, easy even. I did this on January 5th. My goal this year is to complete four novels and two novellas. When I divided the word count, it came out to 1,055 words per day. About the equivalent of one scene. I can EASILY write one scene per day. Brilliant, right?

That was the fantasy. Here is the reality. I have almost no time to write. Of course, I realize I must MAKE the time, so that's no excuse. The awesome ritual I planned? I've done it maybe 3 times. It DID work, though. It helped me get in the zone, and I know that if I did it daily for at least two weeks, it would become a habit, and I would be more productive.  And the nifty little dividing word count thing? I did that on January 5th, as mentioned above. And, I have only completed maybe 1 or 2 scenes since. The calculations are useless if you don't actually WRITE.

However, I'm not giving up. I recalculated and, to my pleasant surprise, with the projects and the days left in the year, I only have to write 1,142 words per day. I like to think of word count as 'scenes' and my scenes average 1,000 words. SO, that's still just a little over 1 scene per day. I'm going to call it 2 scenes per day so I can be ahead of the game, and also allow time for revisions. And, on weekends and days off my paycheck job, I can write MORE than 2 scenes.

I am determined not to fail. I will get up earlier in order to reach my goal. Or whatever it takes. The only way I will fail, is if I stop trying. By 'not failing' I am not saying I will definitely complete the four novels and two novellas. I am saying I will not stop trying to complete them. And, if I do that, I have not failed.

Do you have any rituals, tips or advice on being productive?

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Where Book Ideas Come From by Jannine Gallant

Vonnie recently posted an entertaining story about a dream bear that sparked her Bear Shifter series. Alas, I've never had characters appear in my dreams to demand their tales be told. That got me to thinking about what does inspire my stories. First of all, my stories begin with a plot not a character. When I'm pondering a new series, my mind turns to that all important question: What if this happened? But how does an author get to this? For me, real life events can trigger that question. A couple of years ago, I was walking Ginger in the spring when the snow was starting to melt out of the woods. She took off as she likes to do and was digging furiously some distance off the trail. I yelled for her, and she finally came back with a long stick in her mouth. At least I thought it was a stick...until I noticed the hoof on the end of it! EWWWW doesn't begin to reflect my thoughts as I screamed at her to drop it. Some poor deer had been eaten by something (probably a mountain lion), and the remains had been buried by snow all winter. Of course my writer mind clicked into motion, and I couldn't help thinking: What if it was a human femur instead of a deer? Out of that notion, a scene from BURIED TRUTH was born along with the gruesome reason a person had been buried in the woods.

But that was only part of the plot--a crime that had happened in the past. Why would there be danger in the present for my hero and heroine to contend with unless the perpetrators of the old crime felt threatened? How could something that happened years before pose an immediate threat? Those were the questions I asked myself as I mulled possibilities. Something incriminating had to be found, something the guilty party wanted back. My mind did a few mental gymnastics, and I came up with the idea of a time capsule. What better hiding place for a roll of film with incriminating photos than in a time capsule that would be safely buried for the next hundred years? Except my heroine and her classmates decide to unearth their fifth grade time capsule after only twenty years and have a reunion party to reminisce over the contents. The plot to BURIED TRUTH was born.

I believe all authors have their own unique process for coming up with book ideas. Our minds work differently, after all. My characters evolve from my plots as I decide "who" would best fit into the suspense scenario. The "who" determines the romance plot to go with the suspense, and putting together the two in a meaningful way is how I form my books. So now you have it, a look into the scary place that is my mind! LOL

If you want to see what happens after that time capsule is dug up, pick up a paperback copy of BURIED TRUTH at your local Barnes & Noble or download the digital version at Amazon or Apple iBooks. For an exclusive prologue that shows the origins of the twenty year old crime, pick up a copy at KOBO. All links are also on my WEBSITE. Happy reading!

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Seasons of the Sun by Betsy Ashton

With the darker days of late winter settling in, with snow/sleet/icy rain falling, and with a kitty who is bored out of her freakin' mind but won't go out and get her paws wet, I offer four haiku to brighten your hearts.


Whites, browns, yellows, blacks
Screeching, shoving—
Gang warfare @ the bird feeder.

Gently rocking waves
Lull one to sleep—
The nose peels.

Apple, cherry, pumpkin
Pies in the oven—
Time for the gym.

Ice-shrouded world
One slippery step—
Technicolor moon.

And on that last note, watch your steps, ya' hear?

Friday, February 16, 2018

#amwriting When You Quit Trying, You Lose by Diane Burton

Do you get notices of bargain books from BookBub? A couple of days ago, I saw a book titled
You Don’t Lose ‘Til You Quit Trying by Sammy Lee Davis with Caroline Lambert. It’s about the wartime experiences of a Vietnam Vet and Medal of Honor Recipient. That title caught my attention.

How many times have you wanted to quit writing (or any other major undertaking)? Doubts and insecurities abound with us writers. There’s even an online group called Insecure Writers Support Group where once a month we blog about what’s making us insecure and/or advice on how to overcome difficulties.

Yesterday, I pulled together my 1099s, royalties for 2017. I knew it hadn’t been a good year. I didn’t realize how bad. I used to get my 2017 total in one month! I didn’t even get a 1099 from one venue because I hadn’t earned $10. That got me questioning why I do it. Why am I hitting my head against that brick wall called earning income through writing?

Oh sure, I write because I enjoy writing. Usually. With the exception of the first two weeks of January, when I was going gangbusters, I’ve slogged along on my WIP. Some days, I haven’t written anything. Instead, I’ve binged-watched Netflix. Or taken naps when I should be writing. Denial isn’t just a river in Egypt. It’s my way of dealing with what’s probably winter depression. When the sun doesn’t shine for days on end; when it snows for ten days straight; when it’s too cold to go outside and when I do every joint hurts. Yeah, that can make anyone depressed.

Part of my problem with my WIP is in mid-January I changed horses. Oops, that should have read changed stories. I started the new year writing the fourth in my Alex O’Hara series. I knew exactly how it should begin. I knew the ending and most of the middle. Easy to write. When I was done writing one day, I thought about another project, one that was 80% finished. I reasoned that I should finish it first, so I would get something out sooner. I’m sure you all know that revising an older manuscript is harder than writing fresh. If not, I can vouch for it. Not only does the manuscript need updating (technology, especially), I’ve learned a lot in the intervening twelve years. Sentence structure, repetitive words and phrases, unnecessary backstory. Reading and fixing all that means a low daily word count, which I find also depressing. (Maybe I should count pages completed instead.)

Why not go back to the Alex O’Hara story, you may ask. I’m committed to this new/old romantic suspense. It’s a good story. It’s funny in places, seriously tense in others. A good romance develops. Besides, I’m sharing tidbits every weekend on Weekend Writing Warriors. On Mondays, I’m sharing character sketches. Dropping that story now isn’t a good idea.

Neither is quitting altogether, even though that’s going through my mind. Practical Hubs asks if it’s worth the time and energy to earn so little. He has a point. If I do quit, will that make me a loser, like in the Vet’s story title?

Can Spring come soon enough?

Diane Burton combines her love of mystery, adventure, science fiction, and romance into writing romantic fiction. She blogs here on the 16th and 30th of each month. Except this month. See you in March.