Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Straight Chatting from the Library: Karin Rita Gastreich

This tour is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Karin Rita Gastreich will be awarding a $15 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.


Practical Advice for Aspiring Authors

1. Enjoy the journey.

Writing novels takes time. There’s no way to get around this, no magic wand that will spit out a full-length, polished novel inside of a few weeks.

True, we have fun challenges like NaNoWriMo that encourage us to complete 50,000 words in 30 days, but anyone who has participated in NaNoWriMo will tell you the work doesn’t end there. The “completed” novel must be revised, perhaps rewritten, often expanded, and certainly edited before it is truly finished.

For this reason, while it’s important to keep an eye on the prize, you need to enjoy every part of writing a novel, from beginning to middle to end. Don’t stress out if it feels like you’re taking forever to finish. The time you spend with your characters is precious. Believe or not, you’ll miss those characters when you’re done!

2. Develop a routine that works for you.

Discipline is important in writing, and everyone has a different approach when making time to write. Some authors keep journals, others compose on the computer. Some force themselves to put out a certain number of words per day, others ignore word counts but dedicate ‘sacred’ writing time as their schedule allows. While it’s good to look to other writers for ideas on how to organize your time, it’s very important that you identify a routine that fits your life style and your creative rhythm. Remember: the best way to write is your way to write.

3. Keep the day job.

The advent of self-publishing and other industry changes has made earning money from writing harder than ever. A recent study showed that median income for writers has dropped 30% in the last ten years. While we are all hoping the situation will change, for the time being there’s no sign that the market will become friendlier for those who peck away at a keyboard producing stories.

Everyone who loves writing should keep writing. But you also need to find something else you love and make it the career that keeps food on the table. Someday, with a lot of hard work and a little luck, you may be able to leave the day job and devote yourself full time to being a published author. Until then, cover your financial bases.

4. Success comes in many flavors.

Because the vast majority of writers do not make money off their work, it’s important to keep in mind that success does not boil down to income. The highest success you can have as a writer is to craft a wonderful story that resonates with your readers – whether they number in the 10s or the 10,000s. There’s also success in making friends through writing, and in balancing the writer’s journey with everything else needed to make life happy and fulfilling. Be aware that success is multi-dimensional, and learn to recognize and appreciate your successes as they come.

5. Have faith in your journey as a writer.

More than a job, writing is a vocation. If you feel compelled to write, follow that muse wherever it may lead. Some stories we write just for ourselves. Some are meant to be shared with a larger audience. It’s not always up to us to determine which is which.

When we put a story on the market, we allow readers to choose whether they want to be part of our journey or not. This is a scary moment, but also, I think, a place where a little bit of faith goes a long way.

If the time is ripe for your story to capture the imagination of thousands, then it will happen. If not, that’s okay too. Nothing will change the fact that you are a writer. The most important responsibility you have as an author is to use your gift and keep writing.


Betrayed by her own prodigy, Eolyn stands accused of treason. As power-hungry nobles dismantle her life's work and honor, the desperate queen forges a risky alliance with the ruthless and cunning Mage Corey. Determined to defend her son's claim to the throne of the Mage King, Eolyn prepares for her last and greatest battle, this time against her own sisters in magic.

Across the Furma River, Taesara of Roenfyn is drawn out of seclusion and into an ever-more vicious game of intrigue and war. Subject to the schemes of a shrewd uncle and the mysterious ambitions of the wizards of Galia, Taesara struggles to assert her own destiny, even as she takes up arms to defend her daughter's inheritance.

In the climactic finale to The Silver Web trilogy, threads of love, honor, betrayal, and vengeance culminate in a violent conflict between powerful women, opposed to each other yet destined to shatter a thousand-year cycle of war.

"An enticing and elegant series finale, filled with magic and turmoil." -KIRKUS REVIEWS


Eolyn shifted in her seat. A thousand words stood poised upon her lips, of which only a handful could be chosen and delivered. Each conversation in the coming days had to be undertaken with great care, especially when it came to this mage.

“Why did Thelyn come for us, and not you?” she asked.

“I was needed to track down the magas still residing in the City,” Corey replied. “Besides, Thelyn was the better mage for that task.”

Mariel, she thought. He would not have had the heart to bind Mariel.

A small sign, perhaps, that Mage Corey could yet be counted among her friends.

“I understand you are to oversee their interrogation,” Eolyn said.

“It is true, my Lady Queen.”

“I have expressed my concerns about this to the King. He assures me that you and your mages will not be permitted to—”

“My Lady Queen, if there is one thing you have learned in the years of our friendship, it is that I will do whatever must be done in the moment at hand, and I will harden my heart to see it through.”

“That may be the case, Mage Corey. Yet I also know that words are your most effective tool. You have never resorted to violence to obtain what you require.”

Corey let her statement hang in the air.

Eolyn averted her gaze, suddenly aware of the icy tension in her hands.

I, too, am being interrogated.

“You did not bring a scribe,” she said quietly.

“What need have I for a scribe, my Lady Queen?” He softened his tone. “We are, as of yet, simply conversing.”


Karin Rita Gastreich writes stories of ordinary women and the extraordinary paths they choose. She lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she is part of the biology faculty at Avila University. An ecologist by vocation, Karin has wandered forests and wildlands all her life. Her pastimes include camping, hiking, music, and flamenco dance. In addition to THE SILVER WEB trilogy, Karin has published short stories in World Jumping, Zahir, Adventures for the Average Woman, and 69 Flavors of Paranoia. She is a recipient of the Spring 2011 Andrews Forest Writer’s Residency.
Website: http://krgastreich.com
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/EolynChronicles
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Eolyn-110814625640244/

Purchase link for EOLYN, Book One of THE SILVER WEB: http://www.amazon.com/Eolyn-Silver-Web-Book-1-ebook/dp/B01B8F4G50/

Purchase link for SWORD OF SHADOWS, Book Two of THE SILVER WEB: https://www.amazon.com/Sword-Shadows-Silver-Web-Book-ebook/dp/B01G5L1GEG/

Purchase link for DAUGHTER OF AITHNE, Book Three of THE SILVER WEB: https://www.amazon.com/Daughter-Aithne-Silver-Web-Book-ebook/dp/B06WCZYRNW/

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Thursday, December 7, 2017

Straight Browsing from the Library: Lovesick Gods by Amanda Meuwissen

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Amanda will be awarding a $25 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.


The elements touch everyone on Earth—Fire, Water, even Light—but every so often someone becomes more attuned to their elemental leaning and develops true power. When an evil Elemental known as Thanatos arrived in Olympus City, it saw the rise of its first hero—Zeus. But the death toll caused by defeating Thanatos changed Zeus, who by day is young detective Danny Grant.

It’s been six months since Thanatos terrorized the city at the start of Lovesick Gods. Danny should be used to his duty behind the mask, but the recent past haunts him. His girlfriend left him, he snaps at the barest provocation, his life feels empty—he needs an outlet, any outlet to pull him out of his depression.

Enter notorious thief Malcolm Cho, the Ice Elemental Prometheus. There was a time when Danny welcomed a fight with Cho, filled with colorful banter and casual flirtations that were a relief compared to Thanatos. Even as a criminal, Cho had recognized the threat Thanatos posed and promised to help Danny stop him, but the day Danny needed Cho, he never showed. Cho was the reason so many people died that day—including Danny’s mother.

Danny decides to teach the man a lesson and fan the fire of their attraction into something more. At worst, he’ll get some no-strings-attached sex out of the deal and finally blow off steam; at best, he’ll get Cho to fall in love with him and then break his heart to spite him. Danny doesn’t expect to fall for Cho in the process, and he certainly can’t predict the much darker threat on the horizon.

Danny had always assumed Cho’s subtle flirting was just to get a rise out of him. The man mocked him, lied to him, betrayed him. And all that, that got his crank turning? Even when he’d played nice with Danny in the past, he’d just been hoping to bend him over the nearest surface.

Cho wasn’t good or redeemable. When the city needed him, when Danny had needed him, he’d run away and hid, then dared to show his face right after and expected Danny to act like nothing had happened. Cho just wanted to use Danny like everybody else. Even Andre and Lynn wouldn’t look twice at him if he wasn’t Zeus.

Just like them, Cho only saw Danny suit deep, not even skin deep, just leather and lightning. No one cared about Danny Grant. His past relationships proved that. He’d never once been the one to end things; they’d always left him first. Vanessa left because he was too distant; he couldn’t tell her he was an Elemental, and it had only gotten worse after his mother’s death. Before that, his last boyfriend had been sweet and soft and loving, but he couldn’t handle Danny’s intensity.

“Maybe I need someone who isn’t Lightning leaning,” he’d said.

Danny didn’t care what element someone was, but he didn’t want sweet or soft right now. He definitely didn’t want loving. He shouldn’t have to always be the lonely superhero that couldn’t be honest about who he was without putting people in danger.

Cho wouldn’t be in danger. He could take care of himself. Danny wouldn’t have to hide that he was Zeus. He wouldn’t have to hide anything, worry about anything. He could take what he wanted and blow off some of that steam rising steadily within him.

Turning around, he spotted Cho in line, halfway to the counter now. Cho was smooth and handsome and exuded sex appeal. It wasn’t as if Danny was blind to that. This could be everything he needed. And he’d finally get his revenge.

About the Author
Amanda Meuwissen has been writing and posting online for many years, including maintaining the website and blog for the software company Outsell. She is an avid writer and consumer of fiction through film, prose, and video games, and is the author of the paranormal romance trilogy The Incubus Saga and young adult novel Life as a Teenage Vampire. Amanda lives in Minneapolis, MN, with her husband, John, and their two cats.


The book is on sale for $0.99 during the tour at Amazon.


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Straight Chatting from the Library: Evolved by Archer Miller

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Archer Miller will be awarding a $25 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.


What is the favorite book you remember as a child? John Carter of Mars by Edgar Rice Burrows. I read the entire Martian series.

What is your favorite book today? I have two at the moment. Progeny by CL Fors and Dream a Little Dream of Me by Michael Kanuckel.

Tell us about your current book in 10 words. Evolved is a space epic centered on the conflict between normal humans and the Evolved.

What are you reading right now? Star Fox. A collection of short stories looking at the legacy of Zoro.

What books do you have on hold at the library? Stephen King on Writing Do you have any bad book habits? If you mean do I abuse my book like break the spine and dog-ear the pages or write in the margins? No.

E-Reader or print? and why? Print. I have e-books but I'm just old school.

One book at a time or multiples? Usually one at a time and I'm not a fast reader.

Dog-ear or bookmark? (don't worry—Librarian Judith won't hold it against you—much) Bookmark, always.

Favorite book you've read this year? Dragon Princess by Jason Newman

When do you do most of your reading? I like a quiet house so usually late at night.

Favorite place to read? My easy chair with a good drink and a blanket.

Favorite genre? Science Fiction

Do you loan your books? What? I don't think I heard that correctly.

Favorite book to recommend? Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein

How do you keep your books organized? By genre and by author.

what would make you not finish a book? If I found the writer was concentrating on following a formula set down by their publisher rather than relying on being original.

Keep books or give them away? Keep. Always keep.


Humanity has spread to the far reaches of space with The Golden Door, a planetary colonization monopoly, selling off every desirable and not so desirable planet to desperate settlers.

Each new world comes with new challenges, and to meet that challenge the children are evolving.

When Pieter, and other gifted children like him, become the target of government research they must fight not only for their lives but the future of their kind.


Mary’s telepathic shout jolted him out of a sound sleep. As his eyes opened flashes of blue light filled his room. He turned his head to check the common area between the cells. Arcs of lightening sizzled through the room. Kakogo cherta, he thought, watching the dancing discharge.

It’s Mike. He’s having a nightmare. Mary sounded frantic inside his mind.

Can’t you switch him off?

He can’t hear me.

Pieter stood and approached the barrier between his cell and the common room. The crackling discharge reminded him of a small Tesla coil his teacher brought to class. The lightning followed any hand or finger that touched the glass sphere. But this was on a scale he had never seen.

His eyes focused on the room across from his and caught sight of Joan watching the lights. They were all watching, too terrified to do anything to stop it.

Pieter pressed his hand to the clear wall and immediately the blue, static lights flowed to the spot. He felt no pain. The electrical discharge stopped at the other side of the wall, just like the Tesla coil in school. The pops and crackles from the common room made him wary. As he listened he could hear the electric lock mechanism on his door cycle on and off every few seconds.

Has he ever done this before? He asked.

Not like this, Mary replied. Not this bad.

Pieter listened for his door to open and pushed his hand against the clear panel.


Archer Miller emerged from the East Texas hill country and set his sights on finding the life of which few of his contemporaries dreamed. In 1974, he migrated to Boulder, Colorado to enroll at the Naropa Institute – now known as the Naropa University, a tiny Liberal Arts college founded by the renowned Tibetan Buddhist scholar and lineage holder, the Ven. Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche (1940-1987). Rinpoche was enormously influential in spreading the teachings of Tibetan Buddhism to the West.

Archer earned a degree in herbs and creative writing. He was a four-year Letterman on the Varsity Competitive Meditation Team.

After graduating in 1978, he took a year off to hike the Jack Kerouac literary trail. He became a top freelance gun-for-hire with dozens of ad agencies across the south and southwest. As a way to deal with the proliferation of Disco, he took up Zen Archery.


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Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Straight Chatting from the Library: Dianne Hartsock

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Dianne Hartsock will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.


What inspired you to write this story?

A couple of years ago I wrote a flash fiction piece on a serial killer at a nightclub watching the boys dance, picking out his next victim. Now, before you think this is an odd thing for me to write about, keep in mind I read a lot of Dean Koontz and also Patricia Cornwell books. Plus I watch X-Files and Supernatural, so my mind tends to wander into dark places. It was interesting and a little frightening to put myself into a killer’s mindset. I expanded the story to see how far I could go with it, and ended up with Birthday Presents.

What was your favorite part to write?

I have a soft spot in my heart for all my characters, but in this story, Gene Mallory is my favorite. I loved writing the scenes where I could climb right into his skin and show him at his most vulnerable, and yet touch that core of strength inside. My very favorite scene to write was when he’s reunited with his brother. I had tears for that one.

What was the hardest part to write?

The scenes between Crimson and Kyle tore my heart to shreds. So difficult to write. I did a lot of research on kidnapping cases from the victim’s point of view. Also read up on serial killers who kept their victims alive for a while before killing them. Not pleasant to read at all, but I wanted to make sure I got this right. This was not an easy book to write by any means, but digging into the motives and emotions of these characters was a challenge I enjoyed. <

How did you come up with your characters?

In every story I write, my character simply come to me. I don’t have to look far to find someone who wants me to tell their story. In Birthday Presents, Kyle is a customer I saw once at work. Crimson is a creeper I saw one night while out dancing. Tracey is also a guy from the same nightclub. Gene is a character that walked onto the page demanding I help him find his brother. Craig and Paige just kind of showed up. Daniel is the man Tracey whispered in my ear about one day. I think my characters make themselves known when I need them.

Do you have anything coming up and can you tell us about it?

I had three short stories published this November, and that’s about it for this year. Currently, I’m about finished with a psychological thriller I’ll send to my publisher and then begin a Christmas story based on an old legend. It will be a bit of a mystery, but mostly a love story. My last couple of books have been a bit grim, so it’s time for something lighter and much more romantic. After that, I’ll probably write another crime drama. I like to keep busy.


For Tracey, life has become a nightmare. Kidnapped from a nightclub in Boulder, Colorado, brutalized and raped by the killer known as Crimson, he's held captive alongside Kyle, a young man Crimson keeps chained to his bed and is slowly torturing to death. Though Tracey manages to escape with Kyle's help, he is forced to leave Kyle behind.

Gene has never stopped looking for his brother Kyle, abducted from a nightclub seven months previously. The case breaks open when Tracey comes forward, claiming to have knowledge of the whereabouts of Crimson's hideout.

A manhunt begins, but Crimson's birthday has come and gone, and he will kill again.


Gene stared at the golden brown liquid swirling in the shot glass as the bartender filled it yet again. Maybe he'd had enough. God, he was tired. He rubbed his gritty eyes, the techno music blaring through the crowded room throbbing in his head.

He turned on the stool to the small dance floor and watched a young man gyrate to the pounding beat. Strobe lights caressed the man's pale skin and dark clothing. The sleek body twirled with flowing, sensual movements. With a graceful twist, the guy's black hair swept like silk across his white cheek. Achingly young and beautiful. Gene noted the men standing back, drinks in their hands, watching the dancers. His suspect could be any one of them. Or none.

He picked up the shot glass and held it up to the flashing lights. How many nightclubs just like this one had he been in these past six months? It felt like hundreds, with him no closer to finding Kyle's abductor. If he'd even been kidnapped.

Gene put the glass to his lips and tossed back the whiskey, savored the burn in his throat. Most members of the police force believed Kyle had been bored with his life and simply walked away. He was nineteen, after all. Even Craig had backed off the search as more pressing cases took precedence.

But Kyle would never have done that. Gene knew his brother. Sweet and shy, Kyle would never had gone willingly with a stranger, without a word to his family, leaving his parents in this nightmare.

"But he never told you he was clubbing, either," Craig would remind him.


Dianne is the author of paranormal/suspense, fantasy adventure, m/m romance, the occasional thriller, and anything else that comes to mind. She lives in the beautiful Willamette Valley of Oregon with her incredibly patient husband, who puts up with the endless hours she spends hunched over the keyboard letting her characters play. She says Oregon’s raindrops are the perfect setting in which to write. There’s something about being cooped up in the house with a fire crackling on the hearth and a cup of hot coffee warming her hands, which kindles her imagination. Currently, Dianne works as a floral designer in a locally-owned gift shop. Which is the perfect job for her. When not writing, she can express herself through the rich colors and textures of flowers and foliage.

Blog: http://diannehartsock.wordpress.com/
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/diannehartsock
Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/diannehartsock
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/4707011-dianne-hartsock
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Dianne-Hartsock/e/B005106SYQ/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1361897239&sr=8-1
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/Dianne-Hartsock-Author-107985445959828

Buy the book at Amazon, Less Than Three Press, or Kobo.

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Straight Browsing from the Library: Man & Horse by John Egenes

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. John Egenes will be awarding 4 digital copies of the book to 4 randomly drawn winners via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.


In 1974 a disenfranchised young man from a broken home set out to do the impossible. With a hundred dollars in his pocket, a beat up cavalry saddle, and a faraway look in his eye, John Egenes saddled his horse Gizmo and started down the trail on an adventure across the North American continent. Their seven month journey took them across 11 states from California to Virginia, ocean to ocean.. As they left the pressing confinement of the city behind them, the pair experienced the isolation and loneliness of the southwestern deserts, the vastness of the prairie, and the great landscapes that make up America. Across hundreds of miles of empty land they slept with coyotes and wild horses under the stars, and in urban areas they camped alone in graveyards and abandoned shacks. Along the way John and Gizmo were transformed from inexperienced horse and rider to veterans of the trail. With his young horse as his spiritual guide John slowly began to comprehend his own place in the world and to find peace within himself. Full of heart and humor, Egenes serves up a tale that's as big as the America he witnessed, an America that no longer exists. It was a journey that could only have been experienced step by step, mile by mile, from the view between a horse's ears.


Sometime later—I wasn’t sure how long—I heard the sound of a vehicle coming up the road. I immediately sat up in my sleeping bag alert. We were camped down below the road, so I hoped that whomever it was would drive past without seeing us. My hopes were not realized, however. The headlights made their way toward us, bouncing and jogging with the ruts in the road, until their shadows revealed a pickup truck approaching. Instead of driving past, the truck slowed then turned toward us. They had seen Gizmo.

The pickup stopped, and the doors opened. I could see four of them as they got out, two from inside the truck and two who climbed out of the bed. They were talking loudly as they headed toward Gizmo, and they were clearly drunk.

“It’s a god damn horse!” one shouted. “What the hell’s it doin’ out here?”

“That’s a ranch horse,” another answered. “That there’s a ranch horse.”

“Ain’t no ranch horses out here,” replied the first man. “He’s tied up. Why the hell’s a horse tied up out here?”

I was getting tense. I was glad I had kept my pants and shirt on, though my boots were on the ground next to me. I reached inside my bedroll and pulled out the Colt. They were drunk, and they looked like trouble, but they had not seen me yet.

One of them said, “Hey, let’s ride the sumbitch.”

“Shit, you can’t ride that horse, James,” another said. “You ain’t no cowboy.”

“Hell, I can damned sure ride it if I want to,” the one named James responded. “C’mon, help me get on the sumbitch.”

Gizmo shied as the men advanced toward him. I pulled back the hammer of the Colt with an audible click, and they stopped, and suddenly grew quiet at the sound.

“Don’t get any closer to that horse,” I said calmly.

“What the …? Who’s there?” one of them demanded.

“You fellas just turn around now and go and get back in your truck and get on out of here,” I said. “I don’t want any trouble. Just leave the horse alone.”

“And what the hell do you think you’re gonna do about it?” James challenged.

“It ain’t what I’m gonna do about it,” I answered, in a quiet voice. “It’s what this Colt here is gonna do about it. You want to find out, you just keep right on. Otherwise, pack it on outta here. Like I said, I don’t want any trouble.”

“Fuck all, James …. he does have a gun! Fuck this, I’m gettin’ outta here,” one of them shouted.

Being the leader, James stood his ground. The other two added their own remarks about getting the hell out of there, but James didn't budge. He was the bull elk in this herd, used to being in charge. But he was stumped at having his authority challenged. He and his friends could barely see me, but my eyes were well accustomed to the dark, so I could see them clearly. I wouldn’t have shot them, but they were drunk, and I could fire over their heads to scare them if push came to shove. Through it all, Gizmo eyed them warily. As it was, James finally gave in.

“C’mon, let’s go,” he ordered, as if it were his idea. "But you ain't heard the last of this, asshole." They stumbled back to the truck, piled in, and drove off.

As soon as their headlights disappeared over the hill, I pulled my boots on and went to Gizmo. I moved him far away from where he had been, afraid they might have a gun in their truck and would come back and shoot him. I gathered the gear, saddled him quickly, and led him away from the camp.

About the Author:
John Egenes has been a musician, a saddlemaker, a dog catcher, and a hobo, among other things. He only learns by making mistakes and he views his life through a windshield full of squashed bugs. He makes his home in New Zealand.

John Egenes Blog: http://www.johnegenes.com/wp
John & Gizmo Blog: http://www.johnandgizmo.com/wp
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/johnandgizmo
Amazon Author page: https://www.amazon.com/John-Egenes/e/B075QRZYVB
GoodReads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17134236.John_Egenes
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/jegenes

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Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Straight Chatting from the Library: Catherine E. McLean

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. One randomly chosen winner via rafflecopter will win a $50 Amazon/BN.com gift card. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.


Do you listen to music when you're writing?

Absolutely not. I need quiet in order to think things through when plotting a story as well as when drafting or self-editing. Is having such quiet productive? For me it is. I can turn out anywhere from 3,000 to 10,000 or more words a day at my computer. And that's all new story copy. I have recorded such figures and know that it takes me anywhere from 14 to 28 days to write the first draft of a 100,000 word novel. I can write two such novels a year.

Then again, not having music surround me as I work might stem from having no talent for music. I discovered in grade school that I cannot read music, don't have an ear that discerns the musical scales, and, sadly, can't sing worth beans. Oddly enough when I tell people I cannot sing, they ask me to and immediately tell me to stop. They then admit I was right. Alas, I'm the kazoo in the room.

Even the noise of the television being on can grate on me when I'm writing, so I quit writing and let my husband enjoy his TV programs. Which works out because I write best from early morning to suppertime.

At a conference a few years ago, I was interviewed and hit with the question, what kind of music do you prefer? I was dumbfounded. I'd never considered such a question. So I had no answer. It took days to figure out that of all the music I do listen to—none are vocals. I like the old masters like Beehoven and Motzart, etc. I even like acoustic, but what I often listen to is flutes, pan flutes, guitars, and instruments of South America (Inca). Only, I don't play such music in my house. I play it in my car.

When out on the road for a long Interstate trip, especially when going out with our RV camper, the music is the white noise that shuts out the anxiety of being trapped by tractor-trailer rigs in front, behind, and passing me while I'm at the wheel. Interestingly enough and despite repeating the songs ad infinitum over the miles, I do not remember the tunes or recall them. Lastly, whereas most people march to the beat of a drum, well, I tend to march to the wail of a bagpipe, which is sort of a flute on steroids.

How about you? What beat do you march to?


A first draft holds the possibility of what will be a great story. Revision turns that rough diamond into a spectacular gem worth a reader's money and time.

Writers are individuals but to be a producing writer means creating a system to revise and polish a work so the reader thoroughly enjoys the story. REVISION IS A PROCESS is a guidebook for writers and authors that shows how a simple 12-step process can be tailored to eliminate the most common and chronic maladies of writing genre fiction. This valuable guidebook contains secrets, tips, practical advice, how-to's, and why-to's for taking the frustration out of self-editing.


From Section 1, An Overview of Revision is a Process

. . . revision is a process . A logical, straightforward process where you don't try to find and fix everything at once. Instead, you break the monumental task into component parts and focus on only an item or two at a time.

Okay, so the reality is that creative people, especially writers, hate logic and straightforwardness. And it's a fact that logic and creativity have always been at war with each other. After all, creativity gives a writer a high like no other. It's the fun part of writing and storytelling.

On the other hand, revising, rewriting, and self-editing are linear, logical, objective—and not fun.

But necessary.

Ever so necessary if one intends to be commercially successful in the writing business.

Here's something I've learned about writing and self-editing—a writer should find a middle ground. That means having the logical part of one's mind work with the subconscious imagination (the creative self).

It's about adopting a different view of self-editing—calling it a process—and diligently organizing that process into small steps that can easily be done. This gives a writer confidence that they have polished their story and increased its marketability.

I strongly believe, and have seen, that revision-as-a-process enables a writer to use both their left (logical) and right (creative) brain to become even more creative.

That's because the writer not only tailors a one-of-a-kind process but they also develop their own revision master cheat sheets. As a result, the creative subconscious (the imagination) becomes aware of the pitfalls and glitches that must be checked for, and subsequently, little by little, the creative self dishes up better first drafts with far fewer errors.


Catherine E. McLean's lighthearted, short stories have appeared in hard cover and online anthologies and magazines. Her books include JEWELS OF THE SKY, KARMA & MAYHEM, HEARTS AKILTER, and ADRADA TO ZOOL (a short story anthology). She lives on a farm nestled in the foothills of the Allegheny Mountains of Western Pennsylvania. In the quiet of the countryside, she writes lighthearted tales of phantasy realms and stardust worlds (fantasy, futuristic, and paranormal) with romance and advenure. She is also a writing instructor and workshop speaker. Her nonfiction book for writers is REVISION IS A PROCESS - HOW TO TAKE THE FRUSTRATION OUT OF SELF-EDITING.

● Hub Website: http://www.CatherineEmclean.com
● Website for writers: http://www.WritersCheatSheets.com
● Writers Cheat Sheets Blog: https://writerscheatsheets.blogspot.com
● Linked-In: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/catherine-e-mclean/7/70b/372
● Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/catherine.e.mclean.5
● Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/CatherineMcLea7
● Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/catherinemclean
● Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Catherine-E.-McLean/e/B00A3BVG6I/

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Monday, December 4, 2017

Straight Chatting from the Library: Boni Wagner-Stafford

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Boni Wagner-Stafford will be awarding a $10 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.


What is the favorite book you remember as a child?

Ah, there were many. If I had to pick one, it would be Five Smooth Stones by Ann Fairbairn. I was 10 or 11 when I read it, and while the main story is about the racial tensions when a white woman loves a black man, I remember being awed by the potential, force and strength of a strong, true love. I also learned about “patting my skin dry” after a shower, rather than rubbing myself with a towel. It was a practice I picked up from that book, adopted as my own, and I still think about that book as I’m towelling off after every shower!

Tell us about your current book in 10 words.

Rock Your Business helps those wanting to start a small business

What are you reading right now?

I have several books on the go at any one time. Some of them are manuscripts I’m reviewing on behalf of author clients for my hybrid publishing company, Ingenium Books. I’m always reading books related to writing, publishing, and book marketing. And, I’m reading several that serve as research for books I’m writing. Then there’s the reading I do for fun: great narrative nonfiction, and every now and again I just love a good thriller.

E-Reader or print? and why?

E-reader! Because I live on my sailboat and do not have room for the growing volume of books I would need to keep around.

Favorite book you've read this year?

Red Notice. Bill Browder has written a very compelling account of his time in Russia as a financier, and what he discovered about corruption and murder. Browder’s friend Sergei Magnitsky was falsely accused, then beaten and murdered in 2009 after he tried to blow the whistle on fraud involving Russian tax officials. I also love that Browder has leveraged the book into international political action: countries including Canada are debating or passing legislation, often bearing the name “Magnitsky”, designed to restrict those thought to be responsible for the death of Magnitsky from entering the country and/or from using its banking system.

When do you do most of your reading?

I read all the time! I read for work all day… and I read for pleasure just before bed.

Keep books or give them away?

Both! I keep all books on my e-reader. Most of the physical books I acquire I end up giving away or donating once I’ve read them.

What would make you not finish a book?

Unless it’s something I have to read for my work with Ingenium Books, I do not ascribe to the philosophy that I must finish every book I start. If a book isn’t serving my needs, or my interest, or if it is poorly written and edited with multiple errors… I don’t bother to waste my time. There are so many excellent books out there – why would I struggle through a book that doesn’t work for me?


Rock Your Business is a book for those just starting out with a small business... or those considering starting a business. Told from those that have been there.

Let’s talk about the differences – and the similarities – between the iPro, the freelancer, the self-employed, and the small business entrepreneur. Which one(s) are you?


These independent professionals are individuals who are highly skilled, work for themselves, and do not employ others. They typically function in the rapid-paced knowledge economy and are a distinct group: they are classified neither as small business nor as entrepreneurs.


Today’s freelancers may or may not be highly educated or highly skilled, but will provide their services to others independent of an employer. They may also contract pieces of work outside their skill set such as web design, bookkeeping, etcetera, to other freelancers or iPros. A freelancer likely won't have a business name registered with the relevant government body, and will likely file taxes as an individual while claiming some business expenses.


Those who are self-employed likely have a sole proprietorship or simple partnership business registered in order to add credibility and assist marketing efforts. Rarely will the self- employed hire others to work in the business, except for the service providers mentioned above.

Small Business Entrepreneur

These go-getters are tuned into market trends and gaps and work to capitalize on being first-to-market with a new idea, product, service, or technology. We would argue that some small business ventures are run by the self-employed and some self-employed people run small businesses. A small business that is incorporated becomes its own legal entity. And the entrepreneurs who run these incorporated small businesses are technically not self-employed; they are employed by the corporations they created.

The Small Business Numbers

In Canada, a small business is technically defined as having fewer than 100 employees. The Australian Bureau of Statistics defines a small business as having fewer than 20 employees. In the U.K. it’s considered a small or medium- sized business if it has 250 or fewer employees. Depending on how you look at things in the U.S., 99.7 per cent of all firms classify as small business. But that’s because the U.S. has an overly complicated classification system that changes the definition of small business industry by industry. It could have 500, 1000 or 1500 employees and still be considered a small business. Yeesh.

What these independent activists – freelancer, iPro, small business owner or entrepreneur – have in common is that they are running businesses. Size doesn’t matter for that definition.

Entrepreneurs start businesses hoping they’ll grow into the next Facebook. Small business owners work to provide a decent living and lifestyle for themselves and their families. Freelancers and iPros want the freedom to do the work they love for clients who appreciate their talents.

All of them are running businesses. They are all relatively solo endeavours, where there often isn't much time to connect with others who are working out the same kinks and learning the same tricks.

Regardless which category yours falls into, you bill clients directly, manage your own startup and sales and marketing and productivity and hiring and taxes and technology and... well, everything.

In addition to being awesome at what you do for clients, you must also become a quick study in the details of your business. It can be helpful to hear and read the stories of others... perhaps just before bed, where the ideas can percolate into your subconscious while you sleep, readying you to reach greater heights tomorrow.


Boni Wagner-Stafford is a full-time writer, ghostwriter, editor, and author. Boni's writing has helped other authors, business leaders and coaches thrive.

For more than 10 years Boni was with the Ontario government. She held a number of senior communications and management roles. She worked on 5 consecutive Ontario budget documents. Most noteworthy is the 2008 Ontario Budget for which Boni was managing editor. She also played key editorial management roles in government reports such as Ontario’s Action Plan for Seniors. While in senior management Boni led teams that managed strategic communications for files such as securities regulation, auto insurance, tax reform, credit union and real estate legislative reform and tourism industry modernization.

Boni also worked for 15 years as a television reporter. She was also a news anchor and a producer. As a journalist, she worked under the names Boni Fox and Boni Fox Gray (Globe and Mail story about the names here). Boni’s stories spanned politics, government, crime, health, environmental and social issues. Her work won several awards.


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