Posts Tagged ‘fiction writing’

I am excited to have Highlander and Romance author Madelyn Hill visit today, talking about her Wild Thistle Trilogy.



First, let’s get to know a little about ‘Highland Honor’. Madelyn, what is this book about?

Lady Honor can heal everything but a broken heart . . .

Highland Honor is the final book of the Wild Thistle Trilogy set in the Scottish Highlands. The entire series came to me while in the shower of all places! The dialogue from the heroines’ dying father popped into my head and the story begged to be written. The father’s pledge was; “Through Hope, Faith, and Honor, ye can rule.”

The trilogy follows each of the heroines as they try to live up to their father’s parting words. The pledge cause uncertainty and conflict with each of the sisters.

For Honor, she is the clan healer and strives to never cause another person harm. Which creates quite the conflict with Bryce, a clan warrior who trains the men with fierce dedication. His goal is to protect the clan to his best ability, even if that means injuries or death. Bryce and Honor are thrown together after a stranger is detected in the area and Bryce is assigned to protect Honor as she gathers herbs in the woods.

Fantastic. I can see lots of conflict brewing there. Okay, let’s get to know you better.

   Madelyn Hill, author

Any special reason why you chose the character names and location that you did?

I choose the Highlands because Scotland has always fascinated me. As for the character names, they were derived from the father’s dying pledge. Luckily, the words he chose to speak were perfect for my heroines. For one of my other novels, Heather In The Mist, I named the heroine Rogan. I had a bit of pushback from my critique partner because she said it was a male name. However! I recently ran into a little girl named Rogan!

I love that name! And I’d certainly give it to a female character. What’s the hardest part about writing?

The hardest part of writing is keeping focused and not allowing social networking or writing minutia to get in the way. I find that time flies when I’m on Facebook or Twitter, so much so, that it eats into my writing time. Also, there is a lot of marketing and writerly stuff which needs to be done that also eats into writing time.

How do you beat writer’s block?

If I just can’t keep the story going, I revisit my Pinterest board for the novel or read over research to see if that will spur my muse. If this doesn’t work, I will start working on something new or take a short break.

The most recent movie you’ve seen or book you’ve read?

We just saw the Avengers: Infinity War movie. It was great! I love super hero movies and this one did not disappoint.

Your favorite town/ city in the world? Why?

I love Quebec. The history and beauty along with the food is a fantastic experience. The town is small enough to be quaint and the shopping is great too.

What is your favorite past time?

Besides reading, I love to cook and bake.

Would you rather have the ability to be invisible or have x-ray vision?

I think the ability to be invisible would be great. Just think of where you could go and what you could hear without being seen.

Indeed! If you had to give up one of your five senses, what would it be? (common sense does not count here) Most likely the sense of smell or touch. I’d hate to lose sight, hearing or taste.

How do you like to spend a rainy day?

I do not like rainy days and I prefer to cuddle on the couch with a blanket and watch movies.

Do you know any foreign languages?

I can understand Spanish and speak very, very little. My husband is fluent in Spanish.

What one item would you grab if the house was on fire? (assume no living beings are  inside)

The bins with my children’s pictures. I’d hate to lose them.

Describe one moment in time when you took a huge leap of faith. How did it turn out?

I packed up and moved to New York to be with my boyfriend. It turned out great! I end married the guy.

Yes, that’s a leap of faith. Glad it worked out so well. Okay, some short Q & A. Favorite food to cook?


Favorite animal?


Favorite color?


Favorite kind of music?


Favorite place to visit?

My hometown in Michigan

Favorite season?


Strangest thing you ever ate?


Which do you prefer for a second home? Mountain cabin, beach house or big city condo?


What kind of car do you drive? Color?

            A White GMC Yukon

What is your favorite type of art?

The Impressionist – Mary Cassatt to be specific

Maddy, I am so glad you stopped to visit today. In our parting thoughts, what three items would you take if you knew you were going to be stranded on a tropical island for a year? (enough suntan lotion is a freebie)

Assuming my family would not be considered a thing and would be there with me;

  • Tons of books, including one that details what is okay to eat on the island
  • Coffee
  • First aid kit

Now those are some good, solid choices. What would you do in life if you knew you couldn’t fail?

Be an actress.

I like that. Do you believe in love at first sight?


Anything special you would like to share with readers?

I appreciate your interest in my books!

Buy Link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07CSY4PGY/

Social Networking connections:

Website: http://www.madelynhill.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/madelyn.hill.94

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AuthorMaddyHill

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/madelynhill68

GoodReads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2919194.Madelyn_Hill

Amazon Page: https://www.amazon.com/Madelyn-Hill/e/B00ELRG34U/
Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/authormadelynhill

Madelyn Hill, thank you for stopping by. Best wishes.

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While cruising down the road recently, I passed an older gentleman selling baskets of peaches from the back of his pick up truck. A car was driving away, doubtlessly with a basket of peaches or two on the floorboards. The old farmer was pocketing the proceeds from his sale in his shirt. And that split moment snapshot made me mentally pause and think. Such is the fodder for our stories: these observations frozen in time.

While I could not immediately think of a place for this scene in any of my current works in progress or upcoming ones. Instead I tucked it away mentally for down the line and considered the POV. If I were ever to write something based on this short scene, what POV would I use? Whose story would this belong to?

We have the farmer who just sold the basket of peaches. He would surely have a story to tell. What went into growing his crops and harvesting them? What about the customers now driving away? Imagine the plans they have for the peaches. Peach Pie? Peach cobbler? Fuzzy navels at the block party this weekend? Peach Ice Cream? Or did they fight over stopping to buy them because one wanted them and the other one didn’t? And now they were going to be late to their destination.

Or what if there is another character? A kid walking along sees the same thing and rushes forward, robbing the old farmer, taking his cash and kicking the remaining baskets around. Peaches roll into the road and grassy shoulder. Punk brat needs to learn a lesson but what is his story?

And we can always have another car come along, the driver witnesses the car driving away and the attack against the farmer. Perhaps this individual has been wanting to do something positive, something to make a difference. Wow…this is the perfect chance. he can jump out and help the old farmer. Yeah!

Except he–or she– is either A) terribly afraid of any confrontation/ danger; B) running late right now and can’t risk being tardy to his/ her destination’ or C) whatever sounds really creative here. No phone booth to change clothing? Gas pedal sticks and he/she can’t stop the car? Big truck behind him/ her and he/she can’t risk stopping now or risk getting run over by an eighteen wheeler blowing its airhorn?

That individual could provide enough interesting stuff to make their own story. Either way, whoever gets to tell this story, it would make a good writing prompt to shake off any writer’s block or stimulate sluggish brain cells. It would be a chance to be funny and write crazy stuff or sentimental or serious. Or maybe one of the characters would have enough to say after all to take over and the snapshot scene would lend support to an entire book.

Prompts and snapshots are all around us when we just open our eyes and imagination to them. Personally, I think it goes something like this…

The farm knows judo and kicks the daylights out of that punk. The passing car is actually the kid’s probation officer who pulls over to the side of the road, lets the trucker go on by and then crosses over the road, grabs the kid and hauls him back to detention where he is reformed eventually. The farmer gets his money back and is reimbursed for the spoiled peaches. The couple who bought the last baskets made it to their destination on time, and used the peaches to make peach and buttercream cake for their son’s birthday, once he got out of detention. Yeah, same kid. He got his just dessert, or fruits of his labor.

How would you write this story?


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As writers, we are also creators. We invent places and people, situations and outcomes. We can make up a whole new world or just return to one we enjoy. Personally, I tend to never stray too far from my beloved water-side settings for most of my writings. For me, it’s both familiar and hollowed ground.

keyboard and notebook

Today I was thinking about our characters. It would be pointless to argue they are not real. In our minds, since we live with them for months or years, they are as real as the people sitting next to us. But our characters sure are a needy bunch.

First we name them and make notes on their physical attributes. Tall, short, slender, fat, brown hair, red hair, blue eyes, moles, scars, crooked smirk, glasses, hearing aids; it all goes on our lists.

We also clothe them, knowing their style preferences and what they need to wear for work. We give them occupations and careers. We house them. Apartment, farmhouse, bark hut? I have one that lives on a boat. Why? Because I want to live on a boat.

We surround them with family, friends and co-workers. And we have to include a few arch rivals, or friend-emies.  It seems we are frequently feeding them as well. We know what they like, what they hate, and their allergies. We even know their habits. Elbows on the table, uses a dainty napkin or slouches with a belly pat and big burp. Yep, those are our characters. And we love them.

We give them dreams to chase, fears to face and goals to reach for. And we have to provide them with hobbies and interests outside their work or the plot conflict. This occurred to me recently as a real life person was sharing their hobby with me. It was one I considered a little unusual and quite interesting, and great fodder for a future character.

Doing all this, noting it all where appropriate, gives us well-rounded, three-dimensional characters to provide depth and credence to our stories. And the more we know our people, the better we can portray them on the page, the more our readers will care about them. Or, in the case of the bad guys, at least be interested in them. guys.


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The Turning Stone Chronicles – Not a Normal World


Recently I had the chance to have Catherine and Donald Hersh, husband & wife writing team  that make up pseudonym C.D.Hersh come visit my blog. I am excited to share this with you. Today there are going to talk about their book  Blood Brothers, which is number two for The Turning Stone Chronicles.  Catherine and Donald, welcome and take it away.


CD Hersh bio pics

Ryan Jo, thanks so much for having us with you today. You mentioned you’d be interested in an explanation of the series. It just so happens a few weeks ago we created a series blurb for The Turning Stone Chronicles.

Three ancient Celtic families.

A magical Bloodstone that enables the wearers to shape shift.

A charge to use the stone’s power to benefit mankind,

and a battle, that is going on even today,

to control the world.

Can the Secret Society of shape shifters called the Turning Stone Society heal itself

and bring peace to our world?


Book one of the series, The Promised One, is about the discovery of the good shape-shifter faction’s most recent Promised One, a shape-shifter savior who will bring the two warring factions together. When book two, Blood Brothers, opens, the Keeper of the Stone has just discovered not one potential Promised One, but two: Rhys Temple and Alexi Jordan. Never in the history of The Turning Stone society has such a discovery been made, calling into question the interpretation of the prophesy about the Promised One. Shape-shifter Delaney Ramsey is called in to help the Keeper of the Stone mentor his new protégés. Unbeknownst to him, the rogue kingpin, Falhman, and his henchwoman Sylvia Jordan Riley have discovered Rhys, too. And so the battle begins.

CD Hersh cover Blood brothers

We have five books planned for the series and possibly a prequel or two. If there is enough interest and we are not tired of the characters after five books.


The timing of the books’ release is not set in stone. We have edits on book three waiting for us as soon as our blog tour is over. So we expect that it will be out some time next year. Book four is in the detailed planning stage where we create the scene outlines and weave the plots together. Book five plots keep changing because we are still adding interesting twists, depending upon what our characters do in book four. We tend to plot heavily, yet leave room for our characters and the elusive muse to take us to unexpected places.


Speaking of the unexpected, our shifters are not the run-of-the-mill shape shifters. Normally, when one thinks about shape shifters, human to animal is what comes to mind. Curses and the power of the moon are also commonly used to cause uncontrolled shifting. Our shifters control their shape shifting via the magic they obtain from the power of the ancient bloodstone given to the original three families by Celtic druids. This stone has been cut into a finite number of rings. Each has a magic inscription inside, that when read releases the magic that begins the shape-shifting process.


This shifting is based on the fact that all of us have three states of personality: Id, Ego, and Super-ego. For purposes of our world this translates into three levels of shifting. Of course this takes some training, which all shifters are not privy to. Our shape-shifting world is filled with shifters who have achieved various levels of shape-shifting skill.


  • Mimic shifting – This is the lowest level of shifter skill and doesn’t require training. By looking at or envisioning a person, a shifter can take the form of that individual. All shifters can mimic shift as this is the basic skill.
  • Alter-ego shifting – This is the second level of shifter skill that is obtained after some training. Male shifters can access their feminine side and shift into their female alter-ego. Vice versa for females.
  • Animal shifting – This is the third level of shifter skill obtained after much training. The shifter does not know what their animal ego is until they reach this skill level.


Each of these levels have their own issues, problems, and benefits. Here is an excerpt from book one, The Promised One that shows mimic shifting. This shifter does not know what the power of the ring is yet. He gets quite a surprise.

There had been nothing in the mugging, nothing in the car, and now he had the cops on his tail. The memory of him lying on the ground—his trim beard, chiseled face, and hairy, muscled body—flooded into Shaw’s mind. He shook his head trying to clear the image, but it wouldn’t go away.

A spasm shot through his chest and he stumbled. Gotta hide. Get out of here. He swung into an alley. The pain ripped his chest in half. Unable to move, he collapsed against a building. I’m done for now.

Drawing his knees to his chest, he hid his face against them. Maybe the cop wouldn’t come down this alley. He held his breath, cursing the day he’d killed Baron Jordan. As he stilled, the hand wearing the ring he’d stolen tingled. The tingling spread through his whole body.

Am I having another heart attack? Probably just as well. I don’t want to spend the rest of my life in jail.

Something jabbed him in the shoulder.

“Hey, you. Look at me.”

The crackle of the police radio told him a cop stood in front of him. Shaw raised his head, his heart racing frantically.

The cop eyed him then scanned the alley. “Sorry. I thought you were someone else. Anybody come into this alley?”

Blood roared in Shaw’s ears. Had he heard right?

The cop raised his voice a notch and repeated the question.

The stupid pig didn’t recognize him. He shook his head.

The cop peered closer. “Are you okay? You’re a little pale.”

He nodded, wiped his hand over his mouth, and then over his chin. Dumbfounded, he repeated the motion.

He had a beard! Where had that come from?


We thought you should really get to meet the main characters in Blood Brothers, too, so here is an extra excerpt introducing the hero and heroine of this story:


Harry Williams paused at the entrance to Alexi’s ER room, hand hovering over the doorknob, uncertain when he heard the voices inside. Did she have company? He peeked in through a crack in the window curtain. The only people he recognized were Alexi and Rhys. He moved from the door, planning to return later.

“Captain,” Rhys called as he opened the door. “Come in.”

“I’m not intruding?”

“No. Alexi will be glad to see you.”

Harry stepped into the room. Going immediately to her bedside, he set the small vase of flowers he’d brought on the nightstand. “Didn’t know what kind you liked.”

Retrieving the vase, she held the flowers to her nose and inhaled. “These are gorgeous, Captain. Thank you.”

Tubes stuck into his favorite homicide detective’s arms. She seemed so helpless hooked to the equipment. Not at all like the fearless woman he knew. “You going to be okay?”

“I’ve got to stay in for a few days, but then I should be fine.”

He glared at Rhys. “How did you let her get mauled by a panther?”

“She ran in ahead of me … like she always does.”

“Headstrong woman,” Harry said to Alexi.

“That’s what makes me so good,” she replied with a smile that lit her drawn face. Alexi directed his attention toward the older man. “This is Eli McCraigen, an old friend of Baron’s, and this,” she said, pointing to the woman, “is Delaney Ramsey. Our boss, Captain Harry Williams.”

Giving Eli a cursory nod, Harry then turned toward Delaney. A pair of turquoise eyes shown out of a china doll face, with the slightest hint of a middle age crease around her cupid bow mouth. A minute past before he found his voice. “Ms. Delaney, nice to meet you,” he said with a squeak. He hadn’t jumped octaves like that since his teenage acne cleared.

Smiling, her face lit. Amused, no doubt, by him. His gaze swept over her. She had a body a man could lose himself in. When she caught him enjoying the view, she blushed and returned the favor.

The once-over caused him to respond faster than he thought possible. A woman had not made him react like that in a long time. Women were a distraction. One he’d only dallied with occasionally since his wife left him. They all ran the minute they heard he was a career cop.


Title – Blood Brothers, The Turning Stone Chronicles

Author – C.D. Hersh

Genre – Paranormal Suspense Romance

Heat Level – Sensual

Release Date: October 29, 2014


When Delaney Ramsey is enlisted to help train two of the most powerful shape shifters the Turning Stone Society has seen in thousands of years, she suspects one of them is responsible for the disappearance of her daughter. To complicate matters, the man has a secret that could destroy them all. Bound by honor to protect the suspect, Delaney must prove his guilt without losing her life to his terrible powers or revealing to the police captain she’s falling for that she’s a shape shifter with more than one agenda.


The minute Captain Williams lays eyes on Delaney Ramsey, he knows she’s trouble. Uncooperative, secretive, and sexy, he can’t get her out of his mind. When he discovers she has a personal agenda for sifting through all the criminal records in his precinct, and secretly investigating his best detective, he can’t let her out of his sight. He must find out what she’s looking for before she does something illegal. If she steps over the line, he’s not certain he can look the other way for the sake of love.



Shape shifter Delaney Ramsey’s daughter is missing, and she is bound by honor to protect the man she suspects of the deed. To bring him to justice, she must go against her code, the leader of the secret shifter society, and the police captain she is falling for.



Amazon buy link for The Promised One (The Turning Stone Chronicles): http://t.co/yW59QqvkLh

Amazon buy link for Blood Brothers (The Turning Stone Chronicles): not available till 10/29/14

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/CDHersh


Putting words and stories on paper is second nature to co-authors C.D. Hersh. They’ve written separately since they were teenagers and discovered their unique, collaborative abilities in the mid-90s. As high school sweethearts and husband and wife, Catherine and Donald believe in true love and happily ever after.

Together they have co-authored a number of dramas, six which have been produced in Ohio, where they live. Their interactive Christmas production had five seasonal runs in their hometown and has been sold in Virginia, California, and Ohio. Their most recent collaborative writing efforts have been focused on romance. The first book of their paranormal romance series entitled The Promised One (The Turning Stone Chronicles) is available on Amazon. The second book in the series Blood Brothers became available October 29, 2014 from Soul Mate Publishing.

Where you can find CD:

Website: http://cdhersh.wordpress.com/

Soul Mate Publishing: http://smpauthors.wordpress.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cdhershauthor

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/C.-D.-Hersh/e/B00DV5L7ZI

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AuthorCDHersh

Well, I’m about breathless from all that excitement and information. This series sounds absolutely wonderful. Catherine and Donald, thank you so much for both of you to come visit on my blog, share your world and introduce us to your characters.  I wish you both many sales and great success with the Chronicles.

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It occurred to me recently that when writers help out other writers, we not only do them a favor, we learn a lot along the way. I am part of a very active author group with my publishing house. We share gobs of emails and someone is always hosting or interviewing someone on their blog/ website or social media page.

I too have availed myself to both sides of this favor coin. I have hosted authors for interviews, cover reveals, new releases and book reviews. I have also been hosted by some really neat authors and as my books are released later this year, I have a growing list of more people who will be hosting me.

My thought on this is how much we learn about our fellow authors—and ultimately ourselves—as we exchange these hosting favors. We learn and share about our writing spaces, typical writing process, first sales, dreams, hobbies, likes and dislikes. All the things that make us human and writers.

Personally I find this concept intriguing. Perhaps because the notion took me by surprise. Either way, it shows how much we are like–and unalike–our fellow authors. We are a unique breed of people, writers. We think differently, see things differently, use what we see differently. But we are also humans, with jobs, families, homes, obligations just like everyone else. It is comforting to know despite how different the rest of the world may view us, among our fellow writers, we are just like everyone else.
looking in the mirror

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Anne B. Cole sent me a story to read, a sweet romance, with time travel, paranormal set as a historical. Anyone who has read my ‘Whispers’ will know I can’t refuse such a mish mash of genres. Bring them on!
So with great expectations, I began ‘Souls Entwined’. I was not disappointed. It was a wonderful read.
Set in two spaces of time, the present day and the Aegean Sea in 1829, it quickly caught my attention.
We begin with our character Sam, whose attention is grabbed by a lady jogger he refers to as Purple Shorts. Can you just guess what she might be wearing? A falling tree and mysterious cat in the mist transports Sam and Purple Shorts– aka Gretta back to 1829 as they entwine with Lorenzo and Anya.
We get pirates, cursed treasures, a purgatory pit and a fairy tale book full of pirate’s codes. All mysterious bits of the puzzle rooted in a ring Gretta wears. A very old ring.
Gretta and Sam make repeated trips to entwine with Lorenzo and Anya to learn the secrets of the ring and the curse that has sent generations of women from Gretta’s family to the purgatory pit.
The emotional twists that fate had in store for the young lovers had me brushing the tears away one moment and gasping ‘Oh no!’ the next. The clear cut division of love and attraction between Sam and Gretta and Lorenzo and Anya were well done.

‘Souls Entwined’ is a book I recommend. It offers plenty for readers who like paranormal, historical or any of the genres mashed up within the lovely over. It is available from Soul Mate Publishing and Amazon. Readers can connect with Anne at her blog  http://annebrocole.wordpress.com/


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‘Written in the Cards’ has an authentic western air about it, instantly appealing itself to me. Dime novelist Maggie Rutherford intends to interview cattle drover Ben Mason for one of her upcoming novels. She never intends to fall in love with him. And Ben certainly never intended to care about another woman again, but there is something about Maggie’s spirit and beauty that draws him close.

Lauren Linwood has written an engaging story with characters you want to see succeed. Characters you can’t help but care about. Maggie and Ben, of course, plus Rebecca and Frank and especially little Jennie. And there are also the characters you hope don’t succeed–the soulless Black Tex Lonnegan and the contemptible Richard DeForest.

The closer I came to the ending, the richer the action became, the more characters that swept through the pages. The harder it was to put aside. Ultimately, Lauren Linwood finished her story with a satisfying conclusion that left me happy.

Written in the Cards’ is just one of Lauren Linwood’s fine novels. I can’t wait to read another. Her work is available from http://www.amazon.com and http://www.soulmatepublishing.com.

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Some change is good… some change is bad….all change is inevitable.


I made that whimsical observation last May. It impressed me enough to jot it down in a little notebook I keep for little ditties such as that.

This winter has been a time of change and adapting around the house. I realized this recently, as winter slowly, reluctantly, loosens her grip and yields to spring’s dawn. I am adapting to not having my constant companion Scrapper with me. I have grieved over her loss for two months now, agonized on wanting a new companion dog but knowing it is not the time to do so. So I have grieved Scrapper’s passing even more. This is compounded because the same door is quickly closing on 18 year old Pepper as she leaves stability and enters feline hospice.

In the world of real hospice, I lost a dear friend and confidant this March, one I continue to grieve as well. His passing continues to challenge and change and grow my spiritual beliefs. My frequent journal entries point to these observations and discussions.

In my writing life, I am on an overwhelmed ride of highs. I am gearing up for a the first Book Festival for Whispers next week. I’ve studied, speculated and studied for this like a mid-term exam. I need to remember to have fun with it too. I’ve completed a second round of edits for Shimmers of Stardust. I can happily say the lessons learned in editing processes is changing and helping my current works in progress. And I can now dream of later this year, when it and When Clouds Gather become full-fledged books for public consumption. More changes are in store as the year wears on I think.

The constant work load of emails, promotion, social media and all the business of publishing and being a writer is swamping me so I have to sometimes stop, get off the ride, suck in a few breaths of air and hop back on again. It’s an experience I am still learning, almost two years later.

The household is changing too. I have come to know shy Aspen and her not shy daughter, Avery Faith as they learn to adapt to house cat living. One sleeps with me at night and one wakes me in the morning. They have had to learn sisal rope is fine for sharpening claws unless it’s used for wicker plant stands. I’ve learned to make chili powder paste. They’ve learned chairs are okay to sit on, but not tables. I’ve learned pretty flower displays don’t hold up to curious kittens. They’ve learned indoor cats will have periodic nail trims. I’ve learned even more patience then I ever dreamed. The four resident seniors have learned to tolerate, and even enjoy, the new usurpers. More than once I’ve caught at least three of them engaged in play with one or the other.

I guess the biggest thing I have learned over the winter months as we all change, adapt, challenge ourselves and each other, grow and struggle is this: I am only one person. I can only do what I can do in the present moment. I can only learn from the past, both good and bad parts of it, apply it to the moment of right now and do my best. The future is where I will be shortly. I owe it to myself and my furry/feathered/finned dependents to make it the best I can. This truth has to encompass my work life, my writing life, my home life, my social life and my spiritual life. (not necessarily in that order but they have to be listed somehow) And most importantly, I have learned this, as I am growing, changing, adapting and evolving–so are others around me. Co-workers, friends, pets and strangers alike. We are all part of this trip called LIFE.

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Okay, confession time– I really don’t like to self promote my books. I’m not very good at it, either, or so I think. I am a bad salesperson and would starve to death if my sole living was just selling things on a commission.  But I learned something interesting the other day while I was at my doctor’s office.

I was sitting in the lab, chatting with the lab tech who was drawing my blood. There was another patient resting in the suite over so I was trying to be respectful of her need for quiet. The tech and I talked about my day job, folks she knew who had worked nearby where my day job is located and so on. Finally I casually, almost embarrassed, mentioned I just signed for my third book and had the free-lance work this year.

“That’s right,” she remembered. “Children’s books, right?”  Not even close. I haven’t written a child’s book since I was a child. “No,” I said, almost sorry I mentioned it. “No, murder, right?” she asked, “The murder and who done its?”  Again, not so close. I just shook my head and said ‘No.”  She considered the next option. “That’s right, it’s more a romance, right?”  Much warmer. “Yes,” I said, “basically love stories with a few twists and turns.” And I left it at that. She covered my boo boo site and I left.

Minutes later, while checking out and discussing stuff with the receptionist, the lab tech came up to me, whispering, “What’s the name of your books again? My patient was interested.”  Startled, I wrote them all down, along with what is available now and expected release dates for the others. I thanked her and left, still pondering what had sounded interesting in that small conversation.

Whatever it was, it worked to do what I always try so hard to do, garner interest in my books, hopefully enough so to go look them up and buy them. And my day was not done.

Hours later I was at my day job when an associate walked by. He gave me a huge smile and asked if I was a writer for  the ‘XYZ’ Magazine. I said I was, positive I was blushing by then. Other co workers were listening by now as he said he had been reading that magazine over the weekend, liked my recent article and did not know it was me until he got all the way to the end and read my name and bio. My name is unique as there are no others around (that we know off). So we chatted about that free-lance opportunity and the other one I write for, and ended the conversation with a sentence about the upcoming books.

One sentence. That was all.  But people are listening and sometimes, they are interested in what little they hear.

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Alright, full disclosure here: I received a ‘bad’ review recently for my debut novel. It’s been stewing in my gut for about a month now and I feel I am finally able to deal with it properly. There has been a lot going on emotionally in my life and household for the past month as well, so I did not feel adequately equipped to handle this issue. Until now.

Now, I have heard the warnings before: don’t always expect everyone to love your work, don’t be surprised if someone just doesn’t like it. You need to have a thick skin to publish a book. And never ask for a review unless you can handle what you might get back. Well, I did not ask for this one, it was unsolicited. And so far, all my reviews, requested or not, have been glowing and full of praise. I have been sunbathing in the loving rays of warm reviews. Until now.

Admittedly, when I read the review about a month ago, I was shocked, and hurt. But I took it a few steps further. First, I took a deep breath and reminded myself of the truths mentioned above. Okay, this might not be the first unfavorable review I will ever receive, though I certainly hope it is. Then I read it a little more carefully, seeing what is was that the reader did not like. Was it a particular thing, like dialogue or setting or something like that? Character names? Or was it a case of a book that did not live up to its initial promise? I have to agree I have read books before, enthralled initially and found they just did not live up to my expectations. It happens, not every book is for every reader. Those are the ones I donate to Good Will when I finish with them, instead of instilling them on my library shelves.

What surprised me with this was the misconceptions made by the reader. Now, I have a family member who is famous for misunderstanding information and then later giving out incorrect or misleading information. It happens probably within all families I guess. And so it has happened here with my book. I wanted so badly to respond, to correct the misconceptions made by the reader. But I refrained. Why? Probably due to the other issues going on within my life and home at the time and I feared what I said would come out wrong and, in turn, be taken wrong again, which I felt would only make matters worse. So I opted to remain quiet.

But I did some further research too, not able to just let an unfavorable review sit idle. This reader has only posted one other review prior to mine, and much to my surprise it was awarded an even more unfavorable, or worse, review than mine had. That made me feel a little better. Since I had not read the other book, I could not see any obvious misleading conclusions. However, now I wanted to read it, just to see for myself. Bully for the other author!

So in parting, I have reached my own conclusion, perhaps erroneously as well. Perhaps since this reader apparently cannot find a decent book to read, she (or he) ought to give it up and take up something more rewarding, like knitting or stamp collecting. Or, since writing and publishing a novel is such a simple task, perhaps the reader ought to just write her (or his) own books. Merely a thought.

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