June 25 Writing Tips, Tricks, Thoughts

Birthdays: George Orwell (1903), Elizabeth Jones (1910), P.H. Newby (1918), Dorothy Gilman (1923), Nicholas Mosley (1923), Peyo (1928), Eric Carle (1929), Charles Sheffield (1935), Bert Holldobler (1936), A.J. Quinnell (1940), Linda Spalding (1943), Anthony Bourdain (1956), Ricky Gervais (1961), Yann Martel (1963), Martha McPhee (1964)

George Orwell is best known for his books “Nineteen Eighty-four” and “Animal Farm”

Elizabeth Jones won the 1945 Caldecott Medal for “Prayer for a Child”

Peyo was a Belgian who created the Smurfs.

Bert Holldobler co-wrote the Pulitzer Prize book “The Ants” (with Edward O. Wilson)

Eric Carle was best known for his book “The Very Hungry Caterpillar”

Yann Martel is best known for his book “Life of Pi”

Quote: “I write at any time of day in any place, so long as it’s quiet and I can set up my computer. I’m a slow writer, given to playing Spider Solitaire when stuck. Otherwise, my writing habits are blindingly boring. I just sit down at the computer and write.” – Yann Martel

Tip: Don’t overuse backstory, especially in the first chapter. Weave it in through the story, don’t “info dump” on the reader.

Jumpstart: Your character just found out she was adopted, and she never knew. What does she do? How does she feel?

Spotlight: Andrew Grey


Police officer Finnigan Pettaprin’s life is his job. He’s driven to be the best, always. Past relationships have largely been heartbreaking, so he keeps to himself. The last thing he expects is for a near-disastrous car chase through town to bring him in contact with Mark, the one who got away.

Mark Wallace hasn’t had the best luck in life. He managed to get out of Chicago with his freedom and his son, Lonnie, and needs help. Finn is the one friend he knows he can count on for a temporary place to stay, and possibly more. He’s hoping for a new start in a new town with a new job, but with his parents threatening to try to take his son, nothing is easy.

Finn takes Mark in and helps him get his life back on track. Along the way, the two men grow closer as they realize that what they both have always wanted is now in reach. But the intersection of Mark’s past and a string of local robberies threatens to upend the small family they are just starting to build and could give Mark’s parents the ammunition they need to destroy everything.

Book Links


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


 Other Works by Andrew Grey

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

**** Disclosure of Material: I received a final and/or advanced reader copy of this book from RBTL Book Promotions and the Author/Publisher 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”. *****

June 23 Writing Tips, Tricks, Thoughts

Birthdays: Anna Akhmatova (1889), Alfred Kinsey (1894), Winifred Holtby (1898), Michael Shaara (1928), Richard Bach (1936), David Leavitt (1961), Hugh Howey (1975), Markus Zusak (1975),

Michael Shaara won the 1975 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for “The Killer Angels”

Richard Bach is best known for his book “Jonathan Livingston Seagull”

Quote: “If you want to earn a living as a writer, which I’m assuming the people asking for my advice are, you are going to have to be more than a writer. You will be an entrepreneur and a publicist. Or you won’t make it.” – Hugh Howey

Tip: In addition to not overusing modern slang, don’t use law language. A reader should be able to understand your work without resorting to looking ten-dollar words up in a dictionary.

Jumpstart: This is your main character’s wedding day. What could possibly go wrong? What happens?

June 22 Writing Tips, Tricks, Thoughts

Birthdays: Henry Rider Haggard (1856), Erich Maria Remarque (1898), Anne Morrow Lindbergh (1906), Octavia E. Butler (1947), Dan Brown (1964), Jason Goodwin (1964), James Forman Jr. (1967), Kambri Crews (1971), David Rees (1972)

James Forman Jr. won the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Nonfiction

Quote: “I don’t start writing until I have a very solid outline. Or else I’d get to the end and find out there is no ending, and that I just wasted three years of my life. The Da Vinci Code outline was a hundred pages.” – Dan Brown

Tip: Plot is what your story is about. There has to be something there for it to work.

Jumpstart: Your best friend has invented something that would change the world forever. What has s/he invented? Would it change the world for the better or the worse? What do you do?

June 21 Writing Tips, Tricks, Thoughts

Birthdays: Daniel Carter Beard (1850), Milward Kennedy (1894), Donald Peattie (1898), Jean-Paul Sartre (1905), Mary McCarthy (1912), Robert Kraus (1925), Francoise Sagan (1935), John Dower (1938), Henry Taylor (1942), Ian McEwan (1948), Berke Breathed (1957)

John W. Dower won both the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize for Nonfiction for “Embracing Defeat”.

Henry S. Taylor won the 1986 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for “The Flying Change”

Berke Breathed is best known for his long-running comic strip “Bloom County”

Quote: “All bullies are cowards!”― Robert Kraus

“Words are loaded pistols.” – Jean-Paul Sartre

Tip: Make a check list of things/words you need to look at in your story when editing. This can include not only the earlier list you made of redundancies, but also things like timelines, consistencies (hair/eyes stayed the same color), research points (especially for historicals).

Jumpstart: In one minute, list all the items you can think of in a mini-mart. Now, write a scene using those items that does NOT take place in a mini-mart.

New Reviews!

Lots of great books this week!

Under LGBTQ+ for adults:

THIS TIME FOREVER by Andrew Grey – 5 Sparklers for this fan favorite author

Under Mysteries:

THE DIVA SAYS CHEESECAKE by Krista Davis – 4 Sparklers for this delicious cozy

POLLY’S LIST by Kim Ligon – 5 Sparklers for this mix of romance and cozy mystery

Under Nonfiction:

ZEN MINDFULNESS WORKBOOK by Ingrid Yang – 4 Sparklers for this informative book.

ACT (ACCEPTANCE AND COMMITMENT THERAPY) JOURNAL by Josie Valderrama – 5 Sparklers for this useful book

28-DAY LIVER HEALTH WEIGHT LOSS SOLUTION by Jinan Banna – 5 Sparklers for this healthy cookbook

BEAUTIFUL WRITERS by Linda Silversten – 3 Sparklers for this take off of her podcasts

SEWING LOVE by Sanae Ishida – Learn to love your body and make your own clothes that fit in this 5 Sparkler book

June 20 Writing Tips, Tricks, Thoughts

New reviews coming later this morning, so keep checking back. 🙂

Birthdays: Anna Laetitia Barbauld (1743), Charles W. Chesnutt (1858), Lillian Hellman (1905), Josephine Winslow Johnson (1910), Anthony Buckeridge (1912), Paul Muldoon (1951), Vikram Seth (1952), Robert Crais (1953), E. Lynn Harris (1955)

Josephine Johnson won the 1935 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction for “Now in November”

Paul Muldoon won the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry

Quote: “As man sows, so shall he reap. In works of fiction, such men are sometimes converted. More often, in real life, they do not change their natures until they are converted into dust.” – Charles W. Chestnutt

Tip: Stay away from modern slang if possible. It changes too fast and what’s hot today may not be by tomorrow, which will date your book.

Jumpstart: Finish this: The noise grew ever louder, pounding, pounding… (use: willow, tarot, quilt)

June 19 Writing Tips, Tricks, Thoughts

Birthdays: Blaise Pascal (1623), Elbert Hubbard (1856), Laura Z. Hobson (1900), Pauline Kael (1919), Tobias Wolff (1945), Salman Rushdie (1947), John Ralston Saul (1947)

Quote: “The last thing we decide about a book is what to put first.” – Blaise Pascal

Tip: You should be able to answer any question about your main character, and by the end of the book, you reader should know them almost as well as you do.

Jumpstart: You’ve been locked in a store overnight and can’t get out. What do you do? Does the kind of store make any difference (department, grocery, book)? Why? What about security?

June 18 Writing Tips, Tricks, Thoughts

Birthdays: Philip Barry (1896), Gail Godwin (1937), Russell Ash (1946), Chris Van Allsburg (1949), Vivian Vande Velde (1951), Richard Powers (1957), Angela Johnson (1961), Lidia Yuknavitch (1963),

Chris Van Allsburg is a two-time winner of the Caldecott for “The Polar Express” and “Jumanji”.

Quote: “I write for what’s left of the eight-year-old still rattling around inside my head.” – Chris Van Allsburg

Tip: Don’t be afraid to promote your books in unconventional places. Link your story to something or somewhere special and use that for promo purposes. I have a friend whose cozy mysteries center around a funeral home. She’s made friends with them and they have been promoting her work. Do you have dogs or cats in your book? Go to vets, animal shelters, pet stores and see if they’ll promote your stuff.

Jumpstart: It is the middle of the night and your phone rings. The voice on the other end says: “You won’t get away with it. I’ll see that you pay.” There is a scream and a loud crack… and the line goes dead. Caller ID is “unknown”. What if anything do you do? Did you deserve the call? Why?

June 17 Writing Tips, Tricks, Thoughts

Birthdays: James Weldon Johnson (1871), John Hersey (1914), Harry Browne (1933), Newt Gingrich (1943), Art Bell (1945), Celia Rees (1949), Kerry Greenwood (1954), Alan Taylor (1955), Deanna Raybourn (1968),

John Hershey won the Pulitzer Prize for Literature in 1945 with his first novel “A Bell for Adano”.

Alan Taylor was a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner in History.

Quotes: “If you lift the romantic element out of my plots, you still have fully formed mysteries. In the same fashion, if you pull the mystery out of a historical romance, you are left with a perfectly satisfying story.” – Deanna Raybourn

“If I ever saw my muse she would be an old woman with a tight bun and spectacles poking me in the middle of the back and growling, “Wake up and write the book!” ― Kerry Greenwood

Tip: Check your facts, especially if you’re writing historical fiction. No anomalies please. Zippers didn’t exist in the 1700s. Things you may think have been around forever—haven’t.

Jumpstart: Your favorite candy maker is going to create a candy bar in your honor. What would it be? How would it look? What would it have in it? What would you call it?