Writing Tips, Tricks, Thoughts for the Coming Week

September 24

Birthdays: Horace Walpole (1717), F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896), Robert Lewis Taylor (1912), John Brunner (1934), Eavan Boland (1944), David Drake (1945), John Kessel (1950), Richard K. Morgan (1965), Eleanor Catton (1985),

Robert Tayloer won the 1959 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for “The Travels of Jaimie McPheeters”

John Brunner won the 1968 Hugo Award for “Stand on Zanzibar”

Quote: “All fine prose is based on the verbs carrying the sentences. They make sentences move.” F. Scott Fitzgerald

Tip: Figure out the GMC (goal, motivation, conflict) in your story. Every story should have this. In fact, each scene should have this. Try: (who) wants (what) because (why) but s/he can’t because (why not). For instance: Dorothy wants to go home because there’s no place like home but can’t because she needs to defeat the wicked witch and learns running away doesn’t help.

Jumpstart: “I’d never have done that with you if I’d known…”

September 25

Birthdays: Charles Edward Russell (1860), William Faulkner (1897), Robert Laxalt (1923), Shel Silverstein (1930), Bell Hooks (1952), Luanne Rice (1955), Kristin Hannah (1960), James Ransome (1961), Jim Murphy (1963), Carlos Ruiz Zafon (1964)

Charles Russell won the 1928 Pulitzer Prize for “The American Orchestra and Theodore Thomas”

William Faulkner won the Pulitzer (twice) and the 1949 Nobel Prize for Literature.

Shel Silverstein is best known for his children’s books and poetry- most of which have made the “banned books” lists. He also wrote the song “A Boy Named Sue”, sung by Johnny Cash.

Quote: “Over the years, I’ve seen a lot of writers come and go — published and unpublished — and what I’ve learned is that the ones who make it keep writing no matter what. When life is tough, they write; when the kids are sick, they write; when rejections pile up, they write.” – Kristin Hannah

Tip: Don’t make enemies of other authors by doing selfish things that benefit only you and hurt others. It will come back to haunt you and only give you a bad reputation among your peers.

Jumpstart: You’ve been named in the will of someone you didn’t even know. A very rich someone. You will inherit everything, but only if you…(what?) and why did they leave it all to you?

*****

September 26

Birthdays: Max Ehrmann (1872), TS Eliot (1888), Minette Walters (1949), Jane Smiley (1949), Will Self (1961), Mark Haddon (1962), Bernice McFadden (1965),

Bernice McFadden was the winner of the 2017 American Book Award and the 1917 NAACP Award for Outstanding Literary Work for “The Book of Harlan”

Jane Smiley won the 1992 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for “A Thousand Acres”

Quote: “Every first draft is perfect, because all a first draft has to do is exist.” ― Jane Smiley

“At the beginning of my writing process I feel like I have people coming to visit. Like one or two people. When I am really engrossed in the writing my house is full… All I’m doing is recording what I hear. As I get close to the end my house starts to empty out. It feels melancholy and lonely without the characters‘ voices.” – Bernice McFadden

Tip: Remember that setting can reveal character. There’s a big difference between someone living in squalid conditions and a posh high rise. The setting helps define the character. Especially if there is a disconnect—someone raised in luxury now living on the streets or someone living in a mansion who grew up in squalid conditions will have very different opinions than someone who’s been there all their lives.

Jumpstart: You’re listening to the local news while cooking dinner. A news flash comes up about a dangerous criminal who’s wanted by the police…and it’s your name and picture they’re flashing. What do you do?

*********

September 27

Birthdays: Grazia Deledda (1871), Jim Thompson (1906), Nicholas Mordvinoff (1911), Louis Auchincloss (1917), Ernest Becker (1924), Bernard Waber (1924), Paul Goble (1933), Katie Fforde (1952), Martin Handford (1956), Irvine Welsh (1958), Jonathan Evison (1968),

Grazia Deledda won the 1926 Nobel Prize for Literature for “Reeds in the Wind”

Nicholas Mordvinoff won the 1952 Caldecott Medal for “Finders Keepers”

Ernest Becker won the 1974 Pulitzer Prize for Nonfiction for “The Denial of Death”

Paul Goble won the 1979 Caldecott Medal for “The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses”

Quote: “If you are prepared to persevere, listen to good advice, recognise bad advice, read a lot and accept it may take many years, you probably will get published, eventually.” – Katie Fforde

Tip: Different types of editing include: Developmental (checks for weak scenes, boring parts, plot inconsistencies, structure—the big picture); line editing (word choice, sentence construction, tags, etc.); copyedit (nitty gritty of grammar, punctuation, spelling, trademarks, etc.), and proofread (final overall look). If you hire an editor to go over your work, be sure you know what you’re getting.

Jumpstart: You wake up one morning, ready to start the day, but when you go into the bathroom, there’s a message on the mirror in your handwriting. It tells you not to go out. There are more notes over the house warning you not to go out. But it’s a beautiful day and you’ve been cooped up for days. What do you do? When did you write the notes and why?

****

September 28

Birthdays: Prosper Merimee (1803), Kate Douglas Wiggin (1856), Simon Leys (1935), Rosario Ferre (1938), Marcia Muller (1944), Simon Winchester (1944), Piper Kerman (1969),

Prosper Merimee was a French author who wrote the novel “Carmen” on which Bizet based his opera.

Kate Douglas Wiggin is best known for her book “Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm”

Piper Kerman wrote the memoir “Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Woman’s Prison” on which the TV series is based.

Quote: “This may sound silly, but I attach a little counter to the corner of my computer so I know I have to produce, say, 100,000 words by December. If I’m ahead one day, I take a break; if I’m behind, I keep working.” – Simon Winchester

Tip: If you must use brand names in your story, be sure they’re used in a positive light and acknowledge the trademarks in the front matter. When possible, use generic terms instead of actual brand names. For instance: sports drink instead of Gatorade.

Jumpstart: You were in a horrible accident and have been in a coma. What nobody knows is that you can hear everything they say. What do you hear from various friends, relatives, doctors?

*******

September 29

Birthdays: Miguel de Cervantes (1547), Elizabeth Gaskell (1810), Herbert Agar (1897), Oscar Handlin (1915), Stan Berenstain (1923), Elizabeth Peters (1927), Colin Dexter (1930), Mihaly Czikszentmihalyi (1934), Stuart Kaminsky (1934), James Fogel (1936), Donna Leon (1942),

Herbert Agar won the 1934 Pulitzer Prize for History for his book “The People’s Choice”

Stan Berenstain (along with his wife Jan) is best known for his children’s series “The Berenstain Bears”

Quote: “I think, for me, it’s always been the initial business—just getting a word down, any words down, on a blank piece of paper. Once I’ve done that, I’m away. Beginning is one half of the deed.” – Colin Dexter

Tip: Finishing your first manuscript is an incredible feeling. Go out and celebrate, but remember this: first drafts rarely sell. Be sure to polish your draft so it’s the best it can be.

Jumpstart: You’ve gone to a hypnotist to get help with anxiety. While under, he discovers you’ve been hypnotized before… specifically to forget something. What were you supposed to forget and why?

*****

September 30

Birthdays: Edgar Parin d’Aulaire (1898), Eileen Chang (1920), Truman Capote (1924), W.S. Merwin (1927), Elie Wiesel (1928), Carol Fenner (1929), Jurek Becker (1937), Laura Esquivel (1950), S.M. Stirling (1953), Nicola Griffith (1960), Margie Orford (1964), Ta-Nehisi Coates (1975), Tea Obreht (1985), Cecelia Ahern (1981),

W.S. Merwin won the 1979 and 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry and was the 17th US Poet Laureate

Elie Wiesel was awarded the 1986 Nobel Prize for Peace

Laura Esquival is best known for her novel “Like Water for Chocolate”

Quote: “I say write what moves you. Write what you feel compelled to write about. Unless they come naturally to you, ignore trends such as vampires and erotica just because they’re popular and focus on what you feel your heart has to say. It’s important to write for yourself, move yourself and then the reader will hopefully feel your passion and identify with those emotions.” – Cecelia Ahern

Tip: Tighten your manuscript by cutting adjectives and adverbs, wordy passages, and personal opinion.

Jumpstart: You’re on your way to Bermuda for a vacation, complements of your boss for a big deal you finalized. Then a strange storm comes up out of a clear sky and…

New Release: Two for the Show


Skye Warren 
Series: Midnight Dynasty Book 2
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Dangerous Press 
Release Date: Aug 16 2022
Edition/Formats: 1st Edition ~ eBook & Print
Blurb/Synopsis: 

Pregnant. Alone. And heartbroken. The only thing Eva Morelli knows for sure is that she wants this baby. She learned how to depend only on herself a long time ago.
The father, however? He made his position on marriage and children very clear.
Finn Hughes has fought his fate for years, but it’s finally catching up to him. Duty took away his choices. How can he hope for forever? He already knows how this ends.
There’s only one thing worse than having a family.
Losing them.
Welcome to the Midnight Dynasty… The warring Morelli and Constantine families have enough bad blood to fill an ocean, and their brand new stories will be told by your favorite dangerous romance authors.

WARNING: 
This book is intended for readers eighteen years old and over. It contains material that some readers could find disturbing. Enter at your own risk…


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Skye Warren is the New York Times bestselling author of Dangerous romance. Her books have sold
over one million copies. She makes her Home in Texas with her loving family, sweet dogs, and evil cat.



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The Stripped Series

Experience the Stripped World of dark glamour and forbidden love…
Tough Love (Stripped, #0.5) Free Download
Love the Way You Lie (Stripped, #1)
Heartbreak (Stripped, #1.5) Free Download
Better When It Hurts (Stripped, #2)
Even Better (Stripped, #2.5)
Pretty When You Cry (Stripped, #3)
Caught for Christmas (Stripped, #3.5)
Hold You Against Me (Stripped, #4)
To the Ends of the Earth (Stripped #5)

The Chicago Underground Series

Meet the gritty and Dangerous men of Chicago Underground…
Rough (Chicago Underground, #1) Free Download
Hard (Chicago Underground, #2)
Fierce (Chicago Underground, #3)
            Wild (Chicago Underground, #4)
Dirty (Chicago Underground, #5)
Secret (Chicago Underground, #6)
Sweet (Chicago Underground #7)
Deep (Chicago Underground, #8)

A Modern Fairy Tale Duet

Fall in love with this sexy Modern fairy tale…
Beauty and the Professor
Falling for the Beast

The Dark Nights Series

Take a trip to the dark side With this twisted series…
Keep Me Safe (Dark Nights, #0.5)
Trust in Me (Dark Nights, #1)
Don’t Let Go (Dark Nights, #2)

A Deserted Island

The Crash (A Deserted Island Prologue Novella)

Criminals & Captives
Prisoner w/ Annika Martin (Criminals & Captives, #1)
Hostage w/ Annika Martin (Criminals & Captives, #2)

Endgame Series & MORE BOOKS IN TANGLEWOOD

It’s all about revenge And seduction in the game of love…
The Pawn (Endgame, #1)   
The Knight (Endgame, #2)
The Castle (Endgame, #3)

The Masterpiece Duet
Endgame Series Spin-Off (Damon Scott)

The Prince (the Masterpiece Duet, Prologue) (FREE DOWNLOAD)
The King (the Masterpiece Duet, #1)
The Queen (the Masterpiece Duet, #2)
Escort
Mating Theory
1001 Dark Nights (A Tanglewood Novella)

The Trust Fund Duet

Trust Fund (A Survival of the Richest Prologue)
Survival Of the Richest (Trust Fund, #1)
The Evolution of Man  (Trust Fund, #2) 

The North Security Trilogy

Overture (North Security, #1)
Concerto (North Security, #2)
Sonata (North Security, #3)
Audition (Standalone Title)
1001 Dark Nights (Finale: A North Security Novella)

The Diamond Trilogy

Hidden Gem (Prequel)
Diamond In the Rough (Diamond Trilogy, #1)
Gold Mine (Diamond Trilogy, #2)
Silver Lining (Diamond Trilogy #3)

Rochester Trilogy

Private Property (Rochester Trilogy, Book #1)
Strict Confidence (Rochester Trilogy, Book #2)
Best Kept Secret (Rochester Trilogy, Book #3)

Midnight Dynasty

One for the Money (Midnight Dynasty, Book #1)
Two for the Show (Midnight Dynasty, Book #2)

Standalone Dark + Dangerous Romance

Review: Gone for Gouda by Korina Moss

GONE FOR GOUDA (Cheese Shop Mystery #2) by Korina Moss

Fiction, Cozy Mystery, 256 pages

4****

Blurb: Things are going from gouda to bad to ugly for cheesemonger Willa Bauer in Gone for Gouda. Yarrow Glen’s newest cheese shop, Curds & Whey, has a lot on its plate, but cheesemonger Willa Bauer relishes a challenge. There’s a float to build for the fall festival, plus the French-inspired cheese shop is playing host to celebrity vegan chef Phoebe Winston. But when photos surface that prove this vegan influencer is, in fact, a carnivore, things crumble faster than any cheese on the market: Phoebe is murdered. Willa’s employee, the affable Archie, was the last one to see Phoebe alive and the first person the police suspect. To clear his name Willa must uncover who’s been up to no gouda

Thoughts: This is the second in a series, but I don’t feel like I’ve missed anything by not having read the first one. The author throws in enough clues for me to figure out who the people are, how they fit in together.

Willa owns a small cheese shop called “Curds and Whey” in the Northern California town of Yarrow Glen. I learned a lot about cheese in this book, especially Gouda cheese—enough that I was able to beat an expert to answer a trivia question the other day. I loved that! And the author finishes up the story with cheese-filled recipes at the end.

Willa is hosting celebrity chef Phoebe Winston in a “Cook and Book” demonstration in her cheese shop. Willa’s excited about the event until she actually meets Phoebe—a self-absorbed diva who expects everyone to do what she wants without question and without a thought as to how it might affect the other person.

Then pictures of vegan-proclaimed Phoebe scarfing down ribs appear in the papers and she is a no-show at the event. Then Willa finds out Phoebe has been murdered and everything goes downhill. One of Willa’s employees is suspected of the act and she goes into sleuth mode.

There is a touch of romance between Willa and Roman, the man who owns a meadery across the street, but also sparks between Willa and the lead detective Heath. A triangle that is so common to cozies.

The ending is well-done and satisfying and there are a couple threads left dangling that you know are going to show up in the next books in the series.

Recommendation: Definitely recommended. Have a plate of your favorite cheese selections — and maybe a glass of mead — while you read. Or maybe try a new one that you read about here.

Disclaimer: Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing this ARC. I received a final and/or advanced reader copy of this book with the hope that I will leave my unbiased opinion. I was not required to leave a review, positive or otherwise, and my opinions are just that… My Opinions. I am posting this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”

Spotlight: Vicky Burkholder

Will a bitter betrayal send a determined pilot and her engineer to a fiery death?

Cass Brennan makes her living scavenging artifacts and searching for her lost parents, while piloting her spacecraft. When she discovers an ancient ship, everyone rushes to steal her prize. Along with her godfather, and Zack Anderson, who she admires for his expertise with engines, gentle manner, and handsome features, Cass refuses to go down without a fight.

Zack is on a search also—to find who’s responsible for destroying his family. He doesn’t want to believe the beautiful, brave, and talented woman he’s trying hard not to fall for is the one he seeks. The more he gets to know Cass, the idea of her being a murderer is ridiculous, and he is definitely ready to take the next step in their relationship.

Zack and Cass are betrayed and then stranded on an unforgiving planet. While nature’s forces try to kill them, they fight to stay alive.

The Wild Rose Press

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Bio:

It seems like I’ve been writing and editing forever. And, in a way, I have. But only professionally for the last twenty years or so. I’ve worked for newspapers and magazines, done policy and procedures manuals for organizations and the government, and worked as an editor for a variety of publishers and private clients doing everything from novels to college-level textbooks. Whew! That’s a lot!

As a writer, I write fantasy, science fiction, paranormal and romance novels and novellas. At various times in my life, I have been a teacher, librarian, computer specialist, short-order cook, DJ and more. I’m married to the most supportive guy in the world and together we raised four great kids.

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Review: Heartsong Hills by Wendy Stetson

HEARTSONG HILLS by Wendy Stetson

Fiction, Contemporary Romance, Amish, 303 pages

5*****

Blurb: Amish girls don’t dance. Dancing is against the rules, and Nora Beiler always follows the rules…until a runaway logging truck shatters her world forever. Desperate to heal from the accident, she enrolls in Shuffle off to Fitness, an exercise class at the local senior center. She never dreamed it involved tap-dancing…or just how much she’d love to dance. Exiled from Nashville, country music star Tucker McClure has no one to blame but himself. Weekly gigs at the local farmers’ market keep the demons at bay. The last thing he expects is to find himself in an old folks’ fitness class…dancing with a girl who makes him question everything he ever thought he wanted. Will the past drive Nora and Tucker apart? Or can love bridge the gap between hearts and worlds?

Thoughts: What a sweet story. And a different twist on the usual Amish romance. In this one, Nora Beiler has been in a bad accident that left her with a limp and in constant pain. When a doctor claims he can help her through a hip-replacement surgery, she doesn’t exactly jump at the chance, but she does go through with it. Afterwards, the doctor recommends physical therapy to help her regain strength, but the place for PT is too far for her to ride a bike and there’s no one to drive her. Instead, the doctor’s nurse sends her to a nearby senior center. When she gets there, she discovers that the recommended exercise is tap dancing. Amish girls definitely do not dance. And yet… the stretching and workouts do help her leg.

Then she meets Tucker McClure and he shatters everything in her life. Tucker is a country-western singer who is looking for fame. What he finds, is a beautiful widow with a 10-year-old daughter… who just happens to be Amish.

The two go through a lot of ups and downs and soul searching in their relationship. Nora comes very close to being shunned. And Tucker needs to decide whether to give up his dream, or give up the woman he loves.

Recommendation: Definitely recommended. This is a sweet romance that looks at the Amish/English relationship not just between two people, but between the societies as a whole. And there’s a HEA with a twist that satisfies completely (nope. Not going to give it away.) Read the book. You won’t be sorry.

Disclaimer: I received a final and/or advanced reader copy of this book with the hope that I will leave my unbiased opinion. I was not required to leave a review, positive or otherwise, and my opinions are just that… My Opinions. I am posting this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”

Review: Fish in a Barrel by Amy Lane

FISH IN A BARRELL (Fish Out of Water #7) by Amy Lane

Fiction, LGBTQ+, Crime/Mystery, Adult (18+) Spicy heat (345 pages) 

4****

Blurb: Jackson and Ellery face their toughest case yet—against the criminal justice system itself. Jackson Rivers and Ellery Cramer have worked difficult jobs before, but usually it’s getting the facts that’s the problem. For their newest client, the trouble isn’t finding the truth—it’s corruption at the highest levels of the justice system. It isn’t enough to find the actual perpetrator and unveil a heartless plot—not when the DA is the bad guy and he’s using cops as his goons. Keeping their vulnerable client alive and out of jail takes blood, sweat, and tears. When one of their major antagonists is killed and the DA tries to pin the death on Jackson, he’ll need every ounce of luck and all his resources to clear his name—and to find the perpetrator before the DA can use the murder to further his own agenda. They soon find that it’s easier to spot an honest man in a field of thieves than it is to shoot fish in a barrel—and both the man and the fish will be lucky to survive….

Thoughts: Wow. Strong crime books are not usually my thing. I prefer them lighter and cozier, but the author grabbed me, pulled me in with really good writing, and didn’t let go of me even after the story ended. That’s because she added some quick story bites after the story. Those were just fun and Interesting. 

First of all, the writing. Amy Lane is an amazing writer. Her characters, setting, plot… it all works together to make one amazing story. Jackson Rivers is a PI who has a rough background and is always getting hurt, much to his partner Ellery’s dismay. In this one, they are fighting corruption at the highest levels. Jackson gets badly injured (of course) and spends most of the story bleeding through his shirts and suits. The relationship between Ellery and Jackson is beautifully done. The emotions come through and you really feel for them. The best part of the story for me, was the old brown hauntedmini-van Jennifer. The way she helps them, lets them know her feelings. She was such a fun character!

What I didn’t like: I was really confused by some of the relationships in the story, but that’s only because I haven’t read any of the previous books. An issue I am going to immediately correct. The writing is that good. But I really suggest you start with the beginning books first. This does stand alone, but I think you’d get so much more out of it if you had more b ackground on the series.

Recommendation: Highly recommended. 

Disclaimer: I received a final and/or advanced reader copy of this book with the hope that I will leave my unbiased opinion. I was not required to leave a review, positive or otherwise, and my opinions are just that… My Opinions. I am posting this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”

Writing Tips, Tricks, Thoughts for the Coming Week

September 17

Birthdays: William Carlos Williams (1883), John Creasey (1908), Elizabeth Enright (1909), Mary Stewart (1916), Bjorn Berg (1923), Robert B. Parker (1932), Ken Kesey (1935), Deena Metzger (1936), Carl Dennis (1939), Paul Goble (1945), Gail Carson Levine (1947), Jennifer Crusie (1949), Brian Andreas (1956), Cheryl Strayed (1968),

John Creasey was a prolific English crime and science fiction writer with over 600 books and at least 28 different pseudonyms.

William C. Williams actually wrote a book called “The Great American Novel”

Elizabeth Enright won a Newbery Medal for her book “Thimble Summer”

Mary Stewart is best known for her Merlin series including “The Crystal Cave”

Ken Kesey is best known for his novel “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”

Carl Dennis won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for “Practical Gods”

Gail Levine received a Newbery Honor for her book “Ella Enchanted”

Quote: “Writing is part intuition and part trial and error, but mostly it’s very hard work.” – Cheryl Strayed

Tip: Finish the manuscript you’re working on, put it away for a week or more, then edit it, send it out…and then start on the next one!

Jumpstart: If you had one month to live, what would you do? What if it was a week? A day?

September 18

Birthdays: Samuel Johnson (1709), William March (1893), Christopher Ricks (1933), Richard Kluger (1934), Drew Gilpin Faust (1947), Lynn Abbey (1948), Anna Deavere Smith (1950), Steven Pinker (1954), Chris Hedges (1956)

Richard Kluger won the 1997 Pulitzer Prize for Nonfiction for “Ashes to Ashes”

Drew Faust was the first female president of Harvard. Her books have been finalists for the National Book Award and the Pulitzer.

Quote: “Ideas aren’t magical; the only tricky part is holding on to one long enough to get it written down. ” ― Lynn Abbey

“Thanks to the redundancy of language, yxx cxn xndxrstxnd whxt x xm wrxtxng xvxn xf x rxplxcx xll thx vxwxls wxth xn “x” (t gts lttl hrdr f y dn’t vn kn whr th vwls r)” ― steven pinker

“There are always people willing to commit unspeakable human atrocity in exchange for a little power and privilege.” ― Chris Hedges, War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning

Tip: When you get a contract (yay!), if you don’t have an agent, be sure you go over every clause carefully and ask about the ones you are unsure about. If nothing else, take it to a knowledgeable attorney and have them go over it for you.

Jumpstart: You’re remodeling your home, a place you’ve lived for at least a few years. While tearing out a wall, you find a skeleton…

September 19

Birthdays: Rachel Field (1894), William Golding (1911), Penelope Mortimer (1918), Damon Knight (1922), Ingrid Jonker (1933), Keorapetse Kgositsile (1938), Thomas H. Cook (1947), Tanith Lee (1947), Rebecca Skloot (1972), N.K. Jemison (1972), Gina Trapani (1975),

Rachel Field is best known for her Newbery Medal winner “Hitty, Her First Hundred Years”

William Golding won the Nobel Prize for Literature and is best known for his 1954 book “Lord of the Flies”

Thomas Cook won the 1996 Edgar Award for “The Chatham School Affair”

Rebecca Skloot is best known for her book “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks”

Quote: “Growing up with a writer for a father influenced me and my work in many ways. My father really taught me how to see the world through a writer’s eyes, especially when it came to character development. When we went out to dinner, we would make reservations as the Howsers, and we’d spend our time making up stories for different people in the restaurant. It was a character development game—we’d talk in accents, invent detailed backstories, even dialogue for what they were saying during dinner.” – Rebecca Skloot

Tip: Make friends with your local bookseller by not just stopping in, but by purchasing books from them. Talk with them. Get to know them before you ask for a signing.

Jumpstart: I’ve never done anything like this. It’s not who I am. But today, I…

September 20

Birthdays: Charles Williams (1886), Donald Hall (1928), Arthur Geisert (1941), Jude Deveraux (1947), George R.R. Martin (1948), A.A. Attanasio (1951), Upton Sinclair (1968), Chris Mooney (1977),

Quote: “My advice to young poets is pretty standard—read the old people. Read the 17th century. Don’t just read 20th century. Sometimes you get the impression that people think that poetry began in 1984 or something. And read the old boys and revise. Revise endlessly.” – Donald Hall

“There are no new stories. It all depends on how you handle them. In romances the characters are going to fall in love with each other; you know that when you see the syrupy cover. It’s how you get there that’s the fun.” – Jude Devereaux

Tip: When creating a title, keep it short, use common words…and check online to make sure there aren’t thousands of other books out there with your title.

Jumpstart: You’re playing an online game that gets successively harder, but you stick with it…and win. The next thing you know, the FBI knocks on your door and say you have to come with them…

September 21

Birthdays: H.G. Wells (1866), Leonard Cohen (1934), Fannie Flagg (1944), Kay Ryan (1945), Stephen King (1947), Marsha Norman (1947), Kelley Eskridge (1960), Samantha Power (1970), Sarah Rees Brennan (1983)

H.G. Wells is best known as the “Father of Science Fiction”

Kay Ryan was the US Poet Laureate from 2008-2010

Samantha Power won the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Nonfiction for “A Problem from Hell”

Quote: “Strangely enough, the first character in Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe was the café, and the town. I think a place can be as much a character in a novel as the people.” – Fannie Flagg

“Before I was published, I really had no idea what  being published entailed: how suddenly I would have to learn, and come to care passionately about, covers and distributions and awards and what hills to die on when you’re editing and how to coax marketing departments and promotional items, and so much else I never dreamed of. It’s like a life-long apprenticeship: you keep on learning. Be ready for the learning!” – Sarah Rees Brennan

Tip: Put together a media kit for when your book is published. This should contain cover art, blurbs, author bio, excerpts, buy links and personal links. Anything you think someone might want for the purpose of promoting your work.

Jumpstart: Write ten of the best pickup lines. Then ten of the worst. Which one would your character use? Write a situation where they use one and the result.

September 22

Birthdays: Alice Meynell (1847), Esphyr Slobodkina (1908), Rosamunde Pilcher (1924),Fay Weldon (1931), Jo Beverley (1947), Elizabeth Bear (1971),

Esphyr Slobodknina is best known for her classic children’s book “Caps for Sale”

Quote: “Fiction stretches our sensibilities and our understanding, as mere information never can.” – Fay Weldon

Tip: Beware of overusing profanity in your story. A few words here and there are okay, but not every sentence. You’ll risk turning off more readers than you’ll gather.

Jumpstart: You’ve been stuck in meetings all morning and are starving. When you get back to your desk, you find a plate of cookies there with a note that says: for emergencies only. Do you eat them? What kind are they? Who sent them?

September 23

Birthdays: Euripides (480 BC), Emmuska Orczy (1865), Jaroslav Seifert (1901), Anne Desclos (1907), Jerry B. Jenkins (1949), Bruce Brooks (1950), Peter David (1956), Jennie Shortridge (1959), Frank Cottrell Boyce (1959), Bill Phillips (1964), Justine Larbalestier (1967), Wesley Chu (1976),

Jaroslav Seifert won the 1 984 Nobel Prize for Literature for his poetry.

Emmuska Orczy is best known for her books on “The Scarlet Pimpernel”

Quote: “Do not despair when you are rejected. Welcome to the club. There isn’t a writer in the world who hasn’t been rejected. Many, many times.” – Justine Larbalestier

Tip: Different genres usually have different lengths. For instance, category romances tend to be around 60,000 words while a high fantasy can be 110,000 or more. Like everything, there are exceptions to this, but in general, check the standard word lengths for what you’re writing.

Jumpstart: You’ve just won a three-minute shopping spree at your favorite store. Where do you go and what do you buy?

September 24

Birthdays: Horace Walpole (1717), F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896), Robert Lewis Taylor (1912), John Brunner (1934), Eavan Boland (1944), David Drake (1945), John Kessel (1950), Richard K. Morgan (1965), Eleanor Catton (1985),

Robert Tayloer won the 1959 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for “The Travels of Jaimie McPheeters”

John Brunner won the 1968 Hugo Award for “Stand on Zanzibar”

Quote: “All fine prose is based on the verbs carrying the sentences. They make sentences move.” F. Scott Fitzgerald

Tip: Figure out the GMC (goal, motivation, conflict) in your story. Every story should have this. In fact, each scene should have this. Try: (who) wants (what) because (why) but s/he can’t because (why not). For instance: Dorothy wants to go home because there’s no place like home but can’t because she needs to defeat the wicked witch and learns running away doesn’t help.

Jumpstart: “I’d never have done that with you if I’d known…”

Review: Kai’s Healing Smile by Vivi Anne Hunt

KAI’S HEALING SMILES by Vivi Anne Hunt

Fiction, Contemporary Romance, LGBTQ+, 201 Pages

3***.  Steamy heat level (5+)

BLURB: Silas is mourning the loss of his wife. Every day, he is going through the motions and barely managing to keep the excruciating pain from overtaking his life. There is precisely one ray of sunshine in his days — Kai — the smiley, awkward barista at Starbucks. For some reason, Silas finds comfort being around Kai and soaks up as much light as this sweet boy could give him. For the short time Kai has worked at Starbucks, he has secretly watched one man from afar, hoping that one day he would notice him back. He looks all mature, business-like, and always sad. One day Kai finally gets the chance to speak to him. And this is where their story begins. Will Silas be able to let go of the past and start fresh? And will Kai be able to heal the gloomy man with his smiles?
Tropes: age gap, hurt comfort, Daddy/boy kink
Content warnings: mature sexual content and language
Trigger warnings: sexual assault, grief

Thoughts: This was a very well-written story with great characters who came across as being real. The emotions pulled at you and the conflicts added to the overall feel of the story. 

What I liked: The characters. Kai Is sweet and a bit naïve. May is a hoot. Silas is broken, but on the mend and Wes is a good friend. They all blend together, along with others who come into their circle, to make an interesting blend—just like in real life. They are messy and broken and have problems and don’t always do the right thing at the right time, but so is everyone else in real life.

Silas’s grief over losing his wife is real. Then Kai comes into his life and he finally stars to heal. Their relationship starts off slow and builds in a realistic fashion that works.

What I didn’t like: The whole “daddy” thing was off-putting for me. And that’s a personal issue. I just didn’t care for that aspect of Silas and Kai’s relationship. 

Recommendation: If you are okay with the tropes and high heat level, then get this one. It’s a good story with a satisfying ending that will leave you smiling.

Disclaimer: I received a final and/or advanced reader copy of this book with the hope that I will leave my unbiased opinion. I was not required to leave a review, positive or otherwise, and my opinions are just that… My Opinions. I am posting this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”

Spotlight: Andrew Grey



Title: Lost and Found 
Author: Andrew Grey
Series: Standalone
Genre:  M/M Contemporary Romance 
Publisher: DreamSpinner Press 
Release Date: Sept 6, 2022
Edition/Formats Available In: eBook 
Blurb/Synopsis
Rafe Carrera hasn’t seen his Uncle Mack since he was a kid, so when he inherits his ranch, it throws him like a bucking horse. He’s been on his own for a long time. Now suddenly everyone wants to be his friend… or at least get friendly enough to have a chance in buying the ranch.
Russell Banion’s family may own a mega-ranch in Telluride, but Russell made his own way developing software. He misses his friend Mack, and purchasing the ranch will help him preserve Mack’s legacy—and protect his own interests. It’s a win-win. Besides, spending time with Rafe, trying to soften him up, isn’t exactly a hardship. Soon Russell realizes he’ll be more upset if Rafe does decide to leave.
But Rafe isn’t sure he wants to sell. To others in the valley, his land is worth more than just dollars and cents, and they’ll do anything to get it. With Russell’s support, Rafe will have to decide if some things—like real friendship, neighborliness, and even love—mean more than money. Continue reading “Spotlight: Andrew Grey”

Review: Attack of the Black Rectangles by Amy Sarig King

ATTACK OF THE BLACK RECTANGLES by Amy Sarig King

Fiction, YA, 272 pages

5************!!!!!

Blurb: Award-winning author Amy Sarig King takes on censorship and intolerance in a novel she was born to write. Everyone in town knows and fears Ms. Laura Samuel Sett. She is the town watchdog, always on the lookout for unsavory words and the unsavory people who use them. She is also Mac’s sixth-grade teacher. Mac and his friends are outraged when they discovered that their class copies of Jane Yolen’s THE DEVIL’S ARITHMETIC have certain works blacked out. Mac has been raised by his mom and grandad to call out things that are wrong, so he and his friends head to the principal’s office to protest the censorship. Her response isn’t reassuring — so the protest grows.

Thoughts: This was an amazing book that all adults should read. It’s aimed at YA readers (the main characters are in sixth grade), but I think kids “get it” while adults don’t. Especially those who are trying to get books censored or banned.

Mac and his friends are assigned Jane Yolen’s “The Devil’s Arithmetic” to read, but a lot of the words are blacked out In the books with black marker. They go to the library to find the “uncensored” book but can’t find It there so they head to an Independent bookstore where they find—and read—what is missing. And thus starts their fight. 

This is a book about censorship and book banning. It’s also about PTSD and family issues. It’s about life today. Censorship and banning of books is wrong. You hae the right to read what you want, as do I. But you do NOT have the right to tell me what I can read. Freedom of speech is a basic tenet of our constitution and as such, book banning and censorship is wrong. 

Recommendation: I sincerely wish every adult would read this book as well as kids. Unfortunately, the people who *should* read it, won’t. But please, do yourself a favor and realize what this book is about and fight against censorship.