July 31

Birthdays: Brett Halliday (1904), Primo Levi (1919), Susan Cheever (1943), Steven Womack (1952), J.K. Rowling (1965), Lynne Reid Banks (1929)

Tip: Thinking about your writing career and where it currently is. Are you happy with it and where you’re headed? If not, what can you do to change things? Remember, you can only adjust things you are in control of.

Writers are just about the bravest people I know. Who else would lay their hearts on the line the way we do? Who else would have the determination, the persistence, and the backbone to put up with criticism and rejections, to back the overwhelming odds that face every writer?” – Connie Laux

Jumpstart: You’ve just inherited a piece of land from a relative you never knew about. It turns out to be a junkyard. But one that specializes in a particular type of “junk” – each piece is haunted. What do you do?

July 30

Birthdays: Emily Brontë (1818), Archer Mayor (1950), Marcus Pfister (1960)

Tip: Even though it’s difficult or hurts, reading over rejections a second (or third) time can show you where you might have some weaknesses you need to work on. Especially if multiple editors are saying the same thing.

Thought for the day: “All serious writers are interested in experimentation. It is a means by which they honor their craft.” – Joyce Carol Oates

Jumpstart: You’re walking down the street, window shopping, when you hear a scream from an alley up ahead. You have no phone. What if it’s late night and you’re alone? What do you do?

July 29

Birthdays: Alexis de Tocqueville (1805), Booth Tarkington (1869), Stanley Kunitz (1905), Chang-rae Lee (1965), Sharon Creech (1945), Kathleen Krull (1952)

Tip: When thinking about marketing, think outside the box. Write a book about a pet shop? Try selling your books there. A hair salon figure in your story? Ask them if they’d sell some books for you. Be creative, but don’t be a pest. If you’ve never gone into a particular bookstore or shop, don’t expect them to be open to selling your books for you.

Thought for the day: “Being a real writer means being able to work on a bad day.” – Norman Mailer

Jumpstart: There was an accident at a science lab you were visiting and you’ve been shifted into a different phase. You can see and hear everyone, but no one can see or hear you. What do you do? Remember, being out of phase with this reality means no food or other comforts for you.

July 27

Birthdays: Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844), Beatrix Potter (1866), Malcolm Lowry (1909), John Ashbery (1927), Shirley Ann Grau (1929), Natalie Babbitt (1932)

Tip: If you can get into a good critique group, do so. They are invaluable. Not only will they help you with your writing, but in critiquing their work, you might learn a lot too. Just be aware, it make take several tries to find a good fit for you.

Thought for the day: “A man is not idle because he is absorbed in thought; there is visible labor and there is invisible labor.” – Victor Hugo

Jumpstart: Write up a zodiac profile of your main character. Is she a Leo, or a Scorpio? Or use the Chinese years – was she born in the year of the Dog or the Bull?

July 27

Birthdays: Hilaire Belloc (1870), Elizabeth Hardwick (1916) Paul B Janeczko (1945)

Tip: If you get a rejection letter that has suggestions in it, really look at it. The agent or editor took valuable time to write that to you so pay attention. Most rejections are form letters, when they even come. Having an editor respond personally to you is important.

Thought for the day: “Close the door. Write with no one looking over your shoulder. Don’t try to figure out what other people want to hear from you, figure out what you have to say. It’s the one and only thing you have to offer.”  – Barbara Kingsolver

Jumpstart: You’re hosting a dinner for a large group of people—two from each country of the world. What do you serve? What do you talk about? How do you seat them?

New Reviews

Here are the new reviews for this week:

Under Teresa’s Movie/Book Tie-ins:

The Dream 1989 David Suchet Hercule Poirot episode

Murder, She Said (1961) Margaret Rutherford

Under Fantasy: Prelude by CA Oliver – this was a 3 Sparkler for me not because it was bad, but because it is exactly what it said it was – a prelude to the books in the series it goes with. There’s a short story, but mostly lists of characters, lands, etc.

Under Romance:

Orange Cream Dreams and Murderous Schemes by DM Grant – a romantic suspense that got 3 sparklers

Love, Death, and the Art of Cooking by Linda Griffin – another romantic suspense with 3 sparklers

Don’t Mind Me, I Came With the House by CJ Zahner – a 4 sparkler riotous romance with an older (47) heroine

July 25

Birthdays: Midge Decter (1927), David Madden (1933), Robert Barrett (1937), Denys James Watkins-Pitchford(BB) (1905), Elias Canetti (1905), Eric Hoffer (1902), Josephine Tey (1896), Melissa Marr (1972)

Tip: Don’t overuse your character names. Once you’ve established the last name of a character, you don’t need to reuse it unless there’s a reason. Plus, in dialogue, it’s not necessary to keep using names. As long as you’ve got tags or action delineating who is speaking, that’s enough.

Thought for the day: “Letters to agents or editors should read like professional business letters. Don’t let your creative self get in the way of professional interactions. Sometimes that means writing replies but SAVING them as drafts for 48 hours so your mood can level. Being a professional writer (or pro artist, singer, etc.) involves switching modes between creative and practical.” – Melissa Marr

Jumpstart: Your character has created a virus that will cure all ills of mankind and extend their lives by at least double—but it means they’d be sterile. Would s/he put it out there? Why or why not? Would s/he use it?

July 24

Birthdays: Alexandre Dumas (1802), Zelda Fitzgerald (1900), John D. MacDonald (1916), Banana Yoshimoto (1964), Lord Dunsany (1878), Madeline Miller (1978), Percy FitzPatrick (1862)

Tip: Establish POV (point of view – the person who is telling that part of the story) often. Readers put books down or are reading other things while reading yours. They tend to stop at chapter breaks so be sure to establish POV at the next scene or chapter break.

Thought for the day: “As an author, one of the most important things I think you can do once you’ve written a novel is step back. When the book is out, it belongs to the readers and you can’t stand there breathing over their shoulders.” – Madeline Miller

Jumpstart: Write a scene where you’re a much older—and wiser—version of yourself. What advice would you give your younger self?

July 22, 23

Birthdays: Emma Lazarus (1849), David Shields (1956), Margery Williams Bianco (1881), Akhil Sharma (1971), Bryan Forbes (1926), Jeremy Lloyd (1930), S.E. Hinton (1948), Tom Robbins (1936)

Tip: As a writer, you need to develop a writing process that is flexible yet provides structure. How can you arrange your schedule to provide both?

Thought for the day: “Writing is one of the loneliest of the arts; unlike the actor we have no immediate audience and must wait many long months, even years on occasion, for the splatter of applause to reach our ears, if indeed we are not damned by total neglect.” – Bryan Forbes

Jumpstart: If your character was awakened out of a sound sleep and asked to describe himself in generalities (Midwesterner, engineer) what words would he blurt out?

July 23:

Birthdays: Raymond Chandler (1888), John Nichols (1940), Elspeth Huxley (1907), Lauren Groff (1978), Lisa Alther (1944), Mohsin Hamid (1971), Vikram Chandra (1961)

Tip: Edit your short story as if every word costs you ten dollars. How much fluff do you have?

Thought for the day: “I wrote for fourteen years and couldn’t get published. So I got used to the idea of not having an audience. I knew that if I were going to continue writing, I had to find other reasons than fame and riches and reactions from readers. I decided that I love to write, that it’s the most fun I have, so that makes it worth doing; and I use writing to figure out things about my life and the world, so that makes it worth doing; and it’s a craft and I can feel that I’m getting better at it and thus may hope eventually to get published, and that makes it worth doing.” – Lisa Alther

Jumpstart: How would your main character tell a good friend about his/her current circumstances? What about after a few drinks? Describe the conversation and where it takes place.

Author Spotlight: Andrew Grey

Title: Rescue Me

Author: Andrew Grey

Series: Standalone

Genre:  M/M Contemporary Romance

Publisher: DreamSpinner Press

Release Date: July 20, 2021

Edition/Formats Available In: eBook


Everybody needs to be rescued sometime.

Veterinarian Mitchell Brannigan gets off to a rocky start with his new neighbor when someone calls the town to complain about the noise. Mitchell runs a shelter for rescue dogs, and dogs bark. But when he goes to make peace, he meets Beau Pfister and his fussy baby daughter, Jessica… and starts to fall in love.

Beau moved out to the country to get away from his abusive ex-husband, but raising an infant alone, with no support network, is lonely and exhausting. The last thing he expects is a helping hand from the neighbor whose dogs he complained about.

Mitchell understands what it’s like to live in fear of your ex, and he’s determined to help Beau move on. But when an unseen menace threatens the shelter and Beau, it becomes apparent that he hasn’t dealt with his own demons.

With each other and a protective Chihuahua for support, Mitchell, Beau, and Jessica could make a perfect family. Mitchell won’t let anything happen to them.

But who’s going to rescue him?
Continue reading “Author Spotlight: Andrew Grey”