February 28/29 Writing tips, tricks, thoughts

I know it’s not a leap year, but I wanted to get the “leap babies” who are authors in here too.

Birthdays: Michel de Montaigne (1533), Marcel Pagnol (1895), John Tenniel (1820), Stephen Spender (1909), Walter Tevis (1928), Steve Martini (1946), Megan McDonald (1959), Colum McCann (1965), Daniel Handler (aka Lemony Snicket) (1970),

Quote: “There are many, many types of books in the world, which makes good sense, because there are many, many types of people, and everybody wants to read something different.” – Lemony Snicket

Tip: In the best stories, the main character has to not only overcome the external problem, but internal ones as well. She should change as a person—grow and become better. What conflicts does your character face?

Jumpstart: Make a list of places you would like to visit. Now do the research. Besides money, what would you need to go there? Why do you want to visit them? If you can’t go, how much can you find out about them through research? Put your main character there, or have her dreaming about it.

February 29

Birthdays: Dee Brown (1908), Hermione Lee (1948), Tony Robbins (1960),

Quote: “You just don’t give up. There have been times when everything seemed to conspire against getting a book done or printed, and I would feel like turning my back on the whole thing. But I came back and persisted.” – Dee Brown

Tip: Set a goal, one you can attain, like one page a day. And keep that goal.

Jumpstart: Your character is planting a garden. What does she plant? Vegetables or flowers? Or both? What kind? How big is her garden? Is it a single pot on a tiny balcony? Or an acre of corn and spinach?

New Review: Friends to the End


Fiction, Middle-grade, Paranormal (ghosts)


Blurb: Twelve-year-old Zach is convinced he’ll never be happy without his best friend Jeremy by his side. But both of their lives changed with a bang five months ago, and as far as Zach’s concerned, it’s his fault Jeremy will never see his twelfth birthday. When Zach moves with his family to a Chicago suburb, he quickly becomes friends with a group of thrill-seeking kids trying to find a disappearing haunted house. But Zach’s not worried. He doesn’t believe in ghosts, so he follows them into a wild, dangerous encounter that becomes a battle to decide what’s real and what’s not. 

Thoughts: Wow. This is a great story—one to tell on a dark night during a sleepover (preferably while safe in a parent’s house!). It’s happy/sad/funny/distressing and more, but has a good ending that leaves you smiling.

Zach and his family moved from Chicago to a suburb, Nothiningness (Interesting name). Zach lost his best friend Jeremy to a drive-by shooting that Zach blames himself for. He doesn’t want to move, to start a new school, to make new friends, but all those things happen. His friends—Dom, Josh, Morgan (a girl)—take him on and they go about their lives being kids—which means getting into mischief. Like looking for the legendary vanishing house on Wayward Lane. They’ve been ordered to stay away from there, so of course they go. At midnight. During a full moon. And end up in more trouble than they can imagine.

What I liked: The characters are all well-done and believable, though I wish the author hadn’t made the teachers so…stereotypically nasty. I liked the way Dom, Josh, and Morgan take Zach into their group and how Morgan keeps Zach’s secrets although she knows what happened to him. I especially liked Jeremy’s ghost telling Zach he was okay and at the end with the baseball. Perfect.

What I didn’t like: Just one minor thing: how do they explain the gash in Zach’s leg to the parents when they were supposedly sleeping in the basement all night? One minor thing I would have liked to have seen tied up.

Recommendation: Even if you don’t have kids, if you like ghostly stories, pick this one up. It’s well-written, has scary parts, and a good ending that leaves you smiling.

Disclosure of Material: 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”

February 27 Writing tips, tricks, thoughts

Birthdays: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807), Laura E. Richards (1850), Arthur M. Schlesinger, Sr. (1888), John Steinbeck (1902), James T. Farrell (1904), Peter De Vries (1910), Lawrence Durrell (1912), Irwin Shaw (1913), N. Scott Momaday (1934), Ralph Nader (1934), Uri Shulevitz (1935), Ken Grimwood (1944), Alexandra Bracken (1987),

Laura Richards won the Pulitzer for a biography of her mother Julia Ward Howe

John Steinbeck won both the Pulitzer for Fiction and 1962 Nobel for Literature

N. Scott Momaday won the 1969 Pulitzer for Fiction for “House Made of Dawn”

Uri Shulevitz won the 1969 Caldecott Medal for “The Fool of the World and the Flying Ship”

Quote: “Write what you want to read and don’t even THINK about trying to be published until after you’ve produced something you love and believe in. Easier said than done, but when you genuinely love something it comes through in your writing.” – Alexandra Bracken

Tip: Writing is not supposed to be torture. Yes, there are days when it’s difficult, but if you are dreading it, then you may be writing the wrong thing. Try changing your point of view and try to have fun with it.

Jumpstart: Watch TV without the sound on, using closed captioning. Do you feel like you’ve missed anything? Then turn the sound on but turn away from it so you don’t see it. Again, your feelings? (Note, for those who are hearing or visually impaired, try doing something that tests a different sense)

February 26 Writing tips, tricks, thoughts

Birthdays: Christopher Marlowe (1564), Victor Hugo (1802), Fanny Craddock (1909), Theodore Sturgeon (1918), Christopher Hope (1944), Sharyn McCrumb (1948), Elizabeth George (1949), Michel Houellebecq (1956), Atiq Rahimi (1962)

Victor Hugo is best known for his books “Les Miserables” and “The Hunchback of Notre-Dame”

Quote: “Essentially and most simply put, plot is what the characters do to deal with the situation they are in. It is a logical sequence of events that grow from an initial incident that alters the status quo of the characters.” – Elizabeth George

Tip: Don’t be your own worst enemy. Forget about “But first…” syndrome (I want to do this, but first I need to…). The mind can find five hundred different excuses that stop you from writing. Tell it to shut up and let you get to work.

Jumpstart: This is national Tell a Fairy Tale Day. What’s your favorite fairy tale? Why? What makes it so memorable? Write a character who could fit into the story and rewrite it with that character.

February 25 Writing Tips, Tricks, Thoughts

Birthdays: Perry Miller (1905), Anthony Burgess (1917), John Lanchester (1962), Peg Bracken (1918), Sister Wendy Beckett (1930), Cynthia Voigt (1942), John Saul (1942), Amin Maalouf (1949), Jack Handey (1949),

Perry Miller won the Pulitzer Prize for History. Margaret Atwood dedicated her book “The Handmaid’s Tale” to her.

Anthony Burgess is best known for his book “A Clockwork Orange”

Sister Wendy Beckett wrote “The Story of Painting” and is well known for her TV series on art

Cynthia Voight won the 1983 Newbery Medal for “Dicey’s Song”

Quote: “Every idea is my last. I feel sure of it. So, I try to do the best with each as it comes and that’s where my responsibility ends. But I just don’t wait for ideas. I look for them. Constantly. And if I don’t use the ideas that I find, they’re going to quit showing up.” Peg Bracken

 Tip: How badly do you want to be a writer? If you want to be one, you have to make writing a priority. What are you willing to give up to be a writer?

Jumpstart: What happened on the day you were born? What is the history of that particular day? Write a scene from that day.

February 24 Writing Tips, Tricks, Thoughts

Birthdays: Wilheim Carl Grimm (1786), George More (1852), Etel Adnan (1925), Kent Haruf (1943), Lesley Pearse (1945), Jane Hirshfield (1953), Gillian Flynn (1971), Rainbow Rowell (1973)

Quote: “Read all the time and keep writing. There are a million talented writers out there who are unpublished only because they stop writing when it gets hard. Don’t do that— keep writing.” – Gillian Flynn

Tip: Be consistent. If your character has green eyes in chapter one, make sure they’re not blue in chapter ten (or give a very good and plausible reason for the change). Also note hair color, car, home, names.

Jumpstart: Imagine you’re an elf. What kind are you? Are you the tall willowy kind as in Lord of the Rings? Or small and pixie-like? Do you have magical powers? What are they? Are you kind? Or nasty? Where do you live?

February 23 Writing Tips, Tricks, Thoughts

Birthdays: W.E.B.  duBois (1868), Frederick L. Paxson (1877), B. Traven (1882?), Erich Kastner (1899), William M. Shirer (1904), John Sandford (1944), Brad Cornwell (1944), Walter Wick (1953), Francesca Simon (1955),

Frederic Paxson won the 1925 Pulitzer in History

William Shirer won the National Book Award for “The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich”

John Sanford (pen name of John Camp) won the Pulitzer Prize for Journalism before he turned to fiction

Quote: “Ideas are everywhere, and you must listen out for them. Your stories will be more fun if you give them a twist. So, if you want to write about football, what about an alien football match, or a pets’ football match? It’s always easier to write the beginning and end first, and the middle last. Think of where your character is at the beginning, and what they are like, and how they are different at the end. The middle bit is what changed them. The best way to learn to be a writer is to be a reader.” – Francesca Simon

Tip: Don’t let your characters play Hamlet and give long, windy speeches. Break them up with actions.

Jumpstart: Your character walks into a diner s/he hasn’t been in for years. And there s/he is. Her/his first love. Sitting at their old table. Alone. Does s/he go to him? What does s/he say?

New books at The Wild Rose Press:

Spotlight: Andrew Grey

Series: Jocks and Geeks Book 3

Genre:  M/M Contemporary Romance


Marti is a confident, energetic, and talented florist who has been attracted to standoffish Ivan for the past couple of years. He’d pretty much given up on him until their paths cross again when has a meeting with the penny-pinching landlord of the flower shop where he works.

Competitive bodybuilder Ivan Detrikov has a landlord father who doesn’t approve of his career choices, or much else in his life. Ivan is well aware of Marti’s interest and he finds the other man captivating, but feels he needs to focus his energy toward his career, and any chance at love is just a distraction.

Everything changes when Ivan encounters Marti at his father’s office. Marti’s “guns blazing” attitude and forceful arguments in favor of the shop where he works captivate Ivan and awaken the attraction that has simmered since their first meeting. But his father’s heartless pursuit of his goals puts Marti’s flower shop dreams in peril and endangers the relationship they are just starting to build.

Book Links


Author Information

Andrew grew up in western Michigan with a father who loved to tell stories and a mother who loved to read them. Since then he has lived throughout the country and traveled throughout the world. He has a master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and works in information systems for a large corporation.

Andrew’s hobbies include collecting antiques, gardening, and leaving his dirty dishes anywhere but in the sink (particularly when writing)  He considers himself blessed with an accepting family, fantastic friends, and the world’s most supportive and loving partner. Andrew currently lives in beautiful, historic Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

Author Links

Amazon Author Page

Barnes and Noble Page

Dreamspinner Press


Facebook Group All the Way with Andrew Grey


Twitter @andrewgreybooks


For Other Works by Andrew Grey

(Please Be Sure To Stop by His Website to See All of His Works)

New Reviews

Just two new reviews this week, but both got 5 sparklers so good reading!

First, under “Mysteries” – Murder Faux Paws by T.C. LoTiempo – a delightful cozy, 5th in the series

Under “Nonfiction” – The Complete Guide to Tarot and Astrology by Louise Edington – an easy-to-read reference that combines these two practices into a stronger reading.


February 21

Birthdays: Brander Matthews (1852), Anaïs Nin (1903), W.H. Auden (1907), Erma Bombeck (1927), Richard A. Lupoff (1935), Jeff Shaara (1952), Victor Martinez (1954), Ha Jin (1956), Chuck Palahniuk (1962), David Foster Wallace (1962), Jonathan Safran Foer (1977),

Victor Martinez won the 1996 Nat’l Book Award for Young People’s Literature for “Parrot in the Oven: Mi Vida”

Quote: “The final lesson a writer learns is that everything can nourish the writer. The dictionary, a new word, a voyage, an encounter, a talk on the street, a book, a phrase learned.” – Anais Nin

Tip: Show the characters through their emotions rather than telling us about them. Don’t tell the reader she’s angry, show her throwing the vase.

Jumpstart:  We’ve all heard about cloning experiments. What would happen if your character met his/her own clone? What if you did?