Friday, September 14, 2018

Guest post on All the way YA

Had the pleasure of being invited to write a guest post on All the Way YA.
Take a look:

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Seeking advice

As most of you know, my novella Tales from the Fountain Pen, was published a few years back by publisher Untreed Reads. In it you will find five WWII stories following a young woman as she navigates the perils of living under the nazi occupation in The Netherlands. The stories are blended together by a present-day narrator who relives the stories as she writes them with an antique fountain pen.

My arrangement with my publisher was that if I could come up with five more stories, then the novella would be reissued as a printed, paperback novel incorporating those five new stories.

However, it doesn’t look like that is going to happen for a number of different reasons that I won’t go into.

Yes, I do have more stories written.

This has left me wondering what my next step should be:
  1.           Leave it be
  2.       Take back the publication rights, rework and self-publish (assuming I can afford to)
  3.           Pitch it to agents (do I do that before I take back the rights?)
  4.           Complete long shot: rework the stories into a series of one act plays?

The novella has been well received and people who happen to find it, really like it and find that it resonates with them on an emotional level. Which also brings up the second issue: Marketing. I had expected just a little bit more marketing support from my publisher.

I am asking the larger reader-writer-publishing community for input to help me decide. Please leave a comment below.

First 3 to comment will receive a free copy of Tales from the Fountain Pen as a thank you.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Interview with Rachel Thompson from BadRedHeadMedia

Hi, Rachel,

Welcome to my blog. I’ve been going over the different things you sent and there are a lot of
different things we can talk about. I would like to touch on all of it to show the depth and breadth
you bring to the business of writing.

Let’s start with your 30-day marketing challenge. I just downloaded the book myself and am
scheduling time to work on it. What makes this challenge - and training really - unique among
book marketing information that’s out there?
This challenge is based on my personal experiences, both the good and the bad. I took all I’ve
learned on my own almost two decades in my previous corporate life in sales and marketing (Big
Pharma, now recovered, thanks), as well as my own publishing journey (indie, hybrid,
traditional, and back to indie), and put it all down in a way writers at any level can benefit. From
social media to blogging to SEO to promotions – it’s all in there. For someone just starting out,
book marketing can be especially overwhelming, that’s my primary demographic. However,
even veteran authors are telling me they’ve learned so much, which is wonderful. Initially, I only
released the book in eBook, but I received so many requests for a print version, I just released
that as well.
I also want to mention that I just released a 99c mini-book that focuses solely on helping writers
understand how to SEO-optimize their blog posts, too. I knew nothing about this when I began
blogging 10 years ago, so I wanted to help writers and bloggers who may be struggling to get
traffic to their site.

You mentioned you’ve done self pub, hybrid and agented. Can you touch on each of those
experiences? So many authors today are wondering what route to take with their books that
stories from the trenches are always helpful.
Sure. I started out self-pub in 2012 and made some really good money through Amazon, but you now, everyone has that dream of being signed, right? So when a hybrid company approached me, I decided sure, why not?
I re-pub’dBroken Pieces with them, and then published Broken Places as well as put the two together in a collection (which didn’t sell BTW). They then asked me to direct an imprint for books dealing
specifically with topics of a similar gravitas – serious, life-changing stories. It was an honor
bringing these stories to life. Ultimately, the publisher failed, but I made some amazing friends in
the process. About a week later, I signed with an agent and got a traditional deal, publishing the
30-Day Book Marketing Challenge. While that didn’t work out, I’m still happy to have had the
experience and remain on good terms with them. The main message I have for any writer is
this: regardless of how you publish, you will still do your own book marketing and social media.

You’re open about the sexual abuse your suffered in childhood and some of your books deal
with that trauma. How do people respond to your writing? And what advice would you give other
authors who may have similar experiences and are struggling to express those through their
It took me decades to be able to share my story publicly, so I tell any survivor struggling to
share their own story to just write it, and not worry about what to do with it. Figure that out later.
Don’t self-edit. Write what scares you. If you don’t feel it as you write it, we won’t feel it as we
read it. Writing about hard experiences IS hard but remember, you survived worse – you can do
this because you are a warrior.
If you decide to share it publicly, be professional about it – hire an editor, formatter, graphic
designer, etc. Publishing a book and being an author is a professional career.

Let me end the interview on a lighter note:

Pen & paper or computer? Both – I journal a lot with pen and paper. For writing though, always
computer. Mac, in Word.
Strangest thing you’ve researched for a book or story? I’m always researching! I just looked up
the etymology of etymology lol. Hard to pinpoint one weird thing. There are so many.
Your secret superpower? I can play almost any melody on the piano by ear, though I am a
classically trained pianist.
Origin of the name BadRedHead Media? Honestly, it just came to me. I wanted something fun
and lighthearted, that still expressed my tough-love, honest nature (after all, my tagline is:
helping you help your damn self since 2011). I liked the dichotomy of bad being good and vice

Thank you for this interview Rachel, I look forward to continuing to learn from your twitter
marketing chats and following your career as a writer. Thank you!

Find BadRedHeadMedia materials here:
SEO book: 
30-Day ebook: 
30-Day print: 

Friday, December 29, 2017

A sneak peek for the new year

Miss Inkypaws is helping

As a treat for the new year, I thought I'd share a little from my current work in progress. A murder mystery, inspired by a twitter conversation.


Chapter 1
“I warned you,” a loud man’s voice said into the dark room, “I will not be ignored any longer.”
            “For God’s sake man, don’t be so melodramatic,” a second male voice said dismissively.
            The sound of a match striking and a small flame flickered into life. A man, in his early sixties, seated behind a large and ornate desk looked up in the dim light. His eyes grew wide and in an annoyed, low voice he said, “Oh, for heaven's sake.”
 *          *          *
            Ernestine trudged up the steps from the subway counting under her breath. “twenty-eight.” She wasn’t sure what was hotter, the subway car, the outside air or her tiny studio apartment last night during the power outage. How she longed for the pacific northwest and her mother’s house. New York was taking some getting used to.
            Her clothes hung like damp rags on her sweating frame and it was only eight am. The Monday morning crowd jostled her and urged her to keep walking. The offices of Capricorn Publishing were just two blocks away, but in this heat it felt like it might as well be two states away.
            With a sigh of relief she entered the cool, air-conditioned lobby with its slick marble floor and dark wood paneling. She hurried to the lady’s room to try and rescue what she could of her hair and make-up.
            “Look at you, not used to hot weather?” a friendly voice said as Ernestine entered the elegantly appointed bathroom.
            “No, we don’t get this kind of heat and humidity back home, Ms. Wickstrom,” she said.
            “Please, Ernie, call me Claudia. I’m the office manager, not the schoolmistress,” the older woman said, laughing. “Ms. Wickstrom … it always sounds like the name of the head mistress of some creepy girls’ school, don’t you think?” She laughed again.
            “Now that you mention it …” Ernestine, Ernie to most, was not really reassured by that comment. She’d thought the office manager at her uncle’s publishing house looked forbidding and just a little too well put together. From her perfectly coiffed hair held in place with an obscene amount of hairspray, to her perfectly applied make-up and crisp white blouses. The slightly too tight pencil skirts and high heels completed an altogether unsettled picture for Ernie who’d only just left the land of fleece, sandals and Gore-Tex.
            Not really by choice. She’d wanted to join the FBI and her college credentials were of interest to them, but joining the family publishing house was kind of a tradition. Her uncle’s only child, a son, had run off to Australia to be a school librarian - of all things - and a surfer. He’d gone as far away as he could from his father and the business which had been established in the late 1800's by a distant relation. It was stipulated in the bylaws that the company had to be run by a blood relation. With Joshua out of the picture that responsibility now rested squarely on Ernie’s shoulders.
            Sure, she loved books, and she could spot an out-of-place comma as well as the next college educated person with a minor in English, but it wasn’t her passion. She would much rather analyze data and track down criminals.
            “I’ll go set up the coffee maker,” Claudia said, smoothing her skirt while obviously sucking in her stomach, and giving herself one more appreciative look in the mirror. “You just take your time putting yourself together. And you might want to consider some waterproof mascara, it holds up better when you sweat.” Her voice held just a touch of saccharine in it which made Ernie feel judged. Looking at herself in the mirror she judged herself pretty harshly too. The heat was very unkind to her.
            She splashed cold water on her face and realized that only made the make-up situation worse. “Fine, whatever,” she muttered at her reflection and using the coarse paper towels she proceeded to scrub off all her make-up. “Shit,” she said, when she stopped scrubbing. Now she was glowing red, which somehow made her freckles more prominent.

            She rummaged around in her backpack for some powder and lip balm. Adding a touch of eyeliner and shook her head which did nothing to move her frizzy red curls. “Whatever, if I don’t want to be here anyway, why should I make an effort to look like I belong. I’ll never be able to trowel on as much goop as Ms. Wickstrom anyway,” she said, giving herself a critical look. 

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Author interview with Jewel Leonard

Today I welcome Jewel Leonard to my blog to talk about her writing and to celebrate the release of her latest book!

1.     1.What inspires you as a fiction writer? Looking at your website you have a few different passions that you blend into your stories and romances. Can you lift the curtain a little? 

I think it might be easier to say what doesn’t inspire me. 😉 
My other interests don’t appear all that much in my writing—although that’s changing with the second Witches’ Rede series book—and when they do, it’s mostly in passing reference.
I’m heavily influenced by my pop-culture loves and (I’m hesitant to admit) that I derive great pleasure from weaving references from recent shows and music into my 1880s world. Don’t be fooled into thinking Ed Mercer (of The Orville TV show) is going to go traipsing by in the background of 1883 Redington.
Thus far, I don’t think anybody has caught any of the references … and one, I thought, was pretty blatant. I’m sorely tempted someday to release an “editor’s edition” version of these books with all these things highlighted. I guess it’s a less twisted version of when serial killers want to be caught so that the world can see their “genius.” LOL!
Some of my characters are influenced by my favorite actors or TV show/movie characters. I feel like having flesh-and-blood inspiration helps me craft a much more well-rounded, realistic character that readers are going to love … or love to hate.

2. Your latest book is about to come out. What do you really want readers to know about it?

I suppose I’d address my answer specifically to those who’ve been following my journey on social media for a while and saw all the times I complained about Alight:
The harder I am on myself, the better the final product. Complacency leads to laziness, errors, and subpar end-products. Don’t mistake me being hard on myself for me not liking my work, and don’t mistake any of that for my work not being any good. I’m no Stephen King, but I’m happy being me. 😉
I love my characters dearly, and I’m wickedly passionate about what I do.
I’m very proud of Alight and I think it’s easily one of the most beautiful books I’ve had the pleasure of holding. I hope others feel the same way. 

3. What has your journey to publication been like and why did you choose self-publishing, as so many are doing these days?  

The journey to publication has not been an easy one. I initially sought traditional publication for The Witches’ Rede series/Alight but when I got to a point where agents who promised responses weren’t even bothering to send form rejections, I started wondering what I was really doing beyond wasting everybody’s time.
I did receive a couple very kind (mostly) form rejections. One agent in particular (someone I still can’t believe I had the guts to query—she’s the agent of an international bestselling author in my genre) was kind enough to read my submission … she told me that although my writing was excellent, the story was not what she was looking for. In dating lingo, I’m pretty sure this would be the “it’s not you, it’s me” gambit.
But it was me, and I’m not foolish enough to believe otherwise—my beloved genre is dead, so they claim. I received the same kind of response from agents whose MSWLs were a perfect match to Alight (that is, if I received responses at all).
Knowing how books in my genre are being received (regardless of the undying devotion of genre fans), I stopped and did some soul-searching.
I was looking for validation by being chosen by an agent or publisher … and I’m fairly certain that’s the wrong reason to choose that path.
I asked myself some questions and didn’t answer them immediately. It made me really stop and think.
What would traditional publishing require of me, and what would I get out of it?
Was I willing to change this book to be a closer match to what agents were looking for in the hope that one might request a partial or full MS?
No. My creative vision is so clear in my mind’s eye that I can’t see changing it to fit the constraints of mainstream marketability.
What if someone took a shine to it and it got picked up? Would I be willing to change it (possibly making huge changes) according to editors’ suggestions—knowing that if I pushed back, I’d be known as difficult to work with?
No. Second verse, same as the first.

The more thought I gave what being traditionally published would mean to me, the more I realized it’s not the path I’m meant for. This actually fits well with other things in my life (my daughter’s microcephaly, for instance, is caused by a genetic abnormality previously undocumented in any other person—living or dead; we are forging our own path with her). I walk to my own beat, and have for as long as I can remember.

I know some people consider indie publishing a consolation prize … (“Oh, you couldn’t hack it traditionally, huh? Your writing must suck. So you’re just gonna take that loser MS  nobody wanted and slop it up on Amazon with a cover you did in ten minutes using MS Paint, right?”)

In my case, indie-publishing wasn’t second place. It was a better fit for my passion and my personality (I’m a teensy bit of a control freak and the thought of a character on my front cover who doesn’t match my description could make my fine hair curl!), and this is something I wish had occurred to me much sooner. 

I’m actually currently drafting a blog post to go into more detail about this decision. I hope to have it done sometime around Alight’s release date ... inspiration willing. 😉

4. eBook vs Traditional?

As someone who has moved a half-dozen times in the last 6 years, I think eBooks are far superior. All you have to do to pack them is slip your eReader into your purse and go. I’ve had to donate or sell so many books over the last 6 years to cut down on moving costs, and I hate that so much.

Having said that, nothing replaces the feel of paper, the smell of older books, or the satisfaction of looking over a full bookshelf full of tomes that are mine, all mine!

When it comes to my own work? Nothing beats holding my words in paperback. It makes them feel more real, you know? It makes me feel legitimate, even if I’m still “just” self-publishing. Plus, my paperbacks are far sexier than their e-versions.

5. Pen & Paper or a computer?

What’s this pen and paper/computer business? I’m so old-school, I write on stone tablet. 😉
All kidding aside, I am pretty old-school—I prefer pen and paper for writing my first drafts. I consider typing the words into the Word doc to be my first round of editing. Often, I’m perfecting some crazy phrasing, augmenting some off-dialogue, or expanding sections I left skimpy just to get the general idea written. I also leave all sorts of snarky comments for myself in the margins … about my characters and my own writing, equally. “Eloquent writing is eloquent,” with a frowny-face and an arrow pointing to the passage.
The method works well for me. Plus, I find the physical act of writing by hand to be incredibly therapeutic.

6. What do you think is the most important thing a writer can do, aside from write well, to increase their odds of a successful career?

I hate myself for saying this on account of my considerable lack of patience, but I think success as an indie author requires keeping at it. From what I understand (I’m going off hearsay as I’m still new to the publishing business), the successful indie authors all have a long backlist and crank out multiple books each year. They have a lot of content, their older writing acts as advertisement for their new works, and they have credibility (particularly those putting out a series) that more books are to come in a timely manner.
I may just be starting out but I’m going to keep at it. This is my dream. This is my future.

7. What secret talent do you have, which everyone reading this blog will keep secret? Or, what’s the craziest thing you’ve done in the name of research?

Secret talent … I can curl my tongue? Does that count as a talent? LOL! Probably not. That being the case, I’ll answer the other question: I regularly check etymology online to be sure the words I’m using (especially the ones my 1883 characters use in speech) were in use when they were alive. With very few exceptions (and there are a few because there was just no way around them), I’m a stickler for not using anachronistic words in conversation. I try to avoid them in narration, too, though I give myself a little more leeway there.

One night for research, I deliberately fell asleep in my husband’s lap while I wore my Victorian corset. I won’t go into details, but I needed to know just how much a woman’s body could go limp in such rigid shapewear. As the scene I was researching is written from my male protagonist’s POV, having my husband’s input as the conscious party was invaluable.
My ridiculously talented husband, who made my corset, also made me what we call a “stunt bustle.”
I’ll leave why I needed that for research up to your imagination ... but yes, it’s probably exactly what you’re thinking.

8. And as a fellow knitter … I’m curious what’s on your needles right now?
    Nothing. Not a bloody thing. :sobsobsob: I'm aiming to change that, though, and soon. I have a Log Cabin Blanket I’m thinking of picking up again just to get back into the rhythm of knitting. I also want to start a pair of elbow-length gloves; I picked out a few patterns on Ravelry, so now I need to go through my still-packed boxes of yarn (sigh, moving is so hard) to see if any of my stash will be a good match. If I can make the gloves that I envision, I will be a very happy camper when I’m done and there will be an onslaught of photos on my social media accounts. 😊

Thank you so much for having me! It was so much fun to answer your questions—and I apologize for rambling.

Thanks, Jewel, that was awesome. Here's hoping for lots and lots of sales of your latest book!

You can find Jewel on …
Goodreads (I always forget this one!):
and for you Yarnistas, Ravelry:
Jewel calls herself a writer of romantic biographies for fictional people. She lives with her husband, 9-year-old son, 3-year-old daughter, and minion of darkness in Arizona.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Enter to win a signed paperback

In further adventures of writers helping writers, here's another interview with the chance to win a signed copy of Out in the Dark. For a chance to win, leave a comment below.

Stay tuned next week when I reciprocate the favor and interview Jewel Leonard as a celebration of the launch of her latest book.

A winner will be randomly drawn on December 24th. and notified via email.
Thank you!

Monday, November 20, 2017

My Guest Post for Australian Writers Website

The writing community has shown itself to be quite supportive of other writers. We help each other learn, grow and build an audience for our books and stories.

This week I have the pleasure of guest blogging on an Australian writers site.

It also features a holiday give away! Sign up for a chance to win!