Roland Hughes on Commercial Falsehoods & Tea Flavoured Coffee #AmWriting #Selfpub #Dystopian

One of the favorite things for commercial creators these days is to portray writers in coffee houses tapping away at their tablet or dumb-phone creating the great American novel or some such thing.  Personally I don't know any serious typist, writer or otherwise, who would even remotely consider typing on either a tablet or dumb-phone.  I mean that is like beating your fingers against concrete.  “Touch” typing, despite the name, has nothing to do with how solidly one hits the keys.  Those of us who type fast or learned on manual typewriters (okay, I understand kids today have no idea what a manual typewriter is) have some force in our fingers.  I've been known to cook a cheap keyboard in under six months.  I know of others who gladly pay north of $100 for a mechanical wired keyboard because their fingers go numb using a soft membrane keyboard.

What is perhaps the biggest falsehood of the commercials is that writers drink coffee.  I've never met one.  I come from the IT side of life so I drink Mt. Dew or iced tea.  Coffee in all its forms is just plain nasty.  I won't even mention what people's breath smells like after they take a swallow.  I can't imagine having to breath the air in a coffee shop for hours on end.  I'd rather take my chances with the visible air in Beijing.  We will not mention what a growing number of people consider coffee the beverage of, but it is a category nobody wants to join.

The real life thing which is most offensive is being forced to purchase tea, especially iced tea, from a place which also sells coffee.  Most of the people who work there seem to be coffee, or as it was so eloquently called in that wonderful television series Sanctuary, “brown mud”, drinkers.  When told they have to brew a container of iced tea they will simply dump out the coffee grounds, toss in some tea bags, and use the same brewer to brew the liquid they sell as tea.  It isn't tea.  It is tea flavored coffee and it is disgusting!

What brings this post to mind is car shopping yesterday.  I was at one of those “immerse the customer” dealerships yesterday.  They seem to be the new trend in car dealerships.  A small food court, play room for the kids, comfy chairs with multiple televisions, etc.  All designed to get the customer in the habit of spending time in the dealership.  I looked around while waiting and noticed quite a few writers typing away on netbooks and notebooks, nobody was typing on a tablet.  Since this was a dealership in the Portland area I imagine the ratio of writers to regular Joes and Janes was a bit higher than many other cities due to the large creative arts community.

Since I was there to empty my pockets on a new ride I left the trusty netbook behind.  Caffeine addictions must be fed, however, even if one isn't busy typing.  I took a chance.  I walked up to a food counter and ordered a glass of iced tea.  It was with some trepidation that I took my first sip.  I was pleasantly surprised and informed the old guy behind the counter.  I didn't call him an old guy to his face of course.  If he reads this and tells me to look in the mirror I will take no offense.  His response was an even greater surprise.  “No, we don't brew tea in anything that's been near coffee because what comes out isn't tea.”  It shouldn't come as a shock I bought my car there.

“John Smith: Last Known Survivor of the Microsoft Wars” is one big interview. It is a transcript of a dialogue between “John Smith” (who, as the title of the book implies is the last known survivor of the Microsoft wars) and the interviewer for a prominent news organization.
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Genre – Dystopian Fiction
Rating – PG
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A Surprise in Class from THE REALITY MASTER (Vol.1) by @PMPillon #YA #SciFi #Excerpt


Joey kept the stone in his book bag, and now that he had it he was blasé about it, feeling none of the consternation that had preceded its acquisition; he didn’t get around to examining it and was starting to forget that he had it until several days later when he found himself in another spelling bee. Mr. Sheridan provided the words to spell and again Joey was one of just two students left in the competition when Mr. Sheridan again pronounced a word that made no sense to him, so he was forced to just guess, but guessed wrong. The other student spelled it correctly, and just like in the previous occasion, when Joey heard the word the second time he realized what it was and that he knew how to spell it. 

He liked Mr. Sheridan, but this was the second time that his imperfect pronunciation caused Joey to lose a spelling bee. It was a déjà vu all over again that he sure didn’t need. Because this time the winner was headed for the all-school bee, Joey was incredulous and more frustrated than ever; he wanted to scream and tear his hair out. It seemed like nothing could go right for him, but just then, he heard a buzzing in his book bag. This surprised him because he was sure he had left his cell phone at home. He put his left hand into the bag and felt the stone vibrating like a cell phone. He feared it might have hatched into something dangerous, so he let it go immediately, then shone his pen light at it to see if it had changed in some way, but it looked the same as when he found it. He pushed it over with a pencil and saw that it was the same all the way around, so he finally it out with his right hand and was astonished to see on its face a detailed scene depiction on a split screen in full color. Then a larger screen appeared, hovering in front of him, showing on its left side himself, misspelling the word. On the right side, he was both hearing and spelling it correctly. Joey could differentiate the voices simultaneously on both sides of the split screen. He gawked at this impossible scene, and eventually a question mark appeared straddling both sides, signaling that Joey was to choose between the two outcomes.

Joey sat and stared at this, speechless, in shock, as unable to react as he was when Frank’s rock came tumbling down the path straight at his head. At that very moment, a totally unexpected thought occurred to Joey: My mission starts now. This was too much for him. Not knowing what else to do, he shoved the stone back into his bag without responding to its apparent offer. When he looked up from the bag he expected to see the bewildered or even horrified faces of other students all staring at him, but instead he saw that the larger screen had disappeared and everyone, including teacher and students, was frozen in place, unmoving – like inanimate objects. Then they suddenly started to move again, but were seemingly unaware of what happened and were just sitting placidly, focused on the teacher. Only Frank, sitting right next to Joey, was staring at him – everyone else was clearly oblivious to this astounding event – and he whispered, “Jesus, Joey, you look spooked. Did you see a ghost, or what?”

His celestial companion was waiting for him
Precariously climbing a sea-side cliff near Big Sur, ten-year-old Joey Blake was as yet unaware that near his grasp was an object, so odd, mysterious and alien to earth that it would change his life forever and the lives of countless others in the next few astonishing days. Reaching up as far as he could for a handhold it was just there; it had subconsciously lured him, occupied his mind, and made him find it. It was like he was meant to see and discover this object of unimaginable power … the power to change reality.
Time travel and more

This young adult series of sci-fi fantasy novels begins with The Reality Master and continues through four other exciting and amazing stories about time travel and mysterious alien devices. Joey and the reader will face dangerous shadowy criminal organizations, agents of the NSA, bizarre travelers from other times and even renegade California bikers and scar-faced walking dead.
- Vol 1 The Reality Master
- Vol 2 Threat To The World
- Vol 3 Travel Beyond
- Vol 4 Missions Through Time
- Vol 5 The Return Home
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Genre – Science fiction, Fantasy, Young adult
Rating – G
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John E. Wade on the 10 Elements of Heaven on Earth & Its Impact on Readers #Motivation #AmReading

While I know this size of this small book indicates that it will be a quick and easy read—and does not take long to read—its impact on the reader will be much deeper than they might anticipate. As billed, the book indeed contains “inspiring quotations and insightful essays.” The chapters are organized by topics, which are the ten elements of heaven on earth which I have identified: peace and security, freedom, democracies, prosperity, gender harmony, racial harmony, spiritual harmony, ecological harmony, health, and moral purpose and meaning. There is also a chapter entitled, “Individual Paths to Heaven on Earth,” which includes some well-known quotations, as well as quotes from “regular people” who state what heaven on earth would feel like for them.

I previously published How to Achieve a Heaven on Earth, and the four other co-authors of Glimpses of Heaven on Earth each contributed an essay to this first book. I think readers will be interested in reading about the different backgrounds of each of the co-authors, as I am a retired CPA who now devotes my time to investing and writing. I have several active blogs which can be found on,, and (which focuses on politics). 

Charlotte L. Piotrowski spent ten years litigating complex cases before she turned her attention to writing, editing, and content creation for websites and blogs on a freelance basis. Charlotte and I both live in New Orleans, and work closely together on my many creative projects. Daniel Agatino practices law and teaches in New Jersey, while Michael Nagler founded the Metta Center for Nonviolence ( and Martin Rutte is the founder of Project Heaven on Earth ( and is a popular inspirational speaker. I think this diversity is what really brings this book alive and makes it so relatable to any reader.
Not to brag too much, but I think we did an excellent job locating and including wonderfully inspiring quotations that truly relate to each of the ten elements. Here are some examples:

“Peace cannot be achieved through violence, it can only be attained through understanding.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Prosperity is only an instrument to be used, not a deity to be worshipped.” - Calvin Coolidge

“Prejudice is the child of ignorance.” - William Hazlitt

“I expect to pass through life but once. If therefore, there be any kindness I can show, or any good thing I can do to any fellow being, let me do it now, and not defer or neglect it, as I shall not pass this way again.” - William Penn

There are many lesser-known quotations included as well, and as should be evident, the more you really contemplate the quotes, the more impactful they become. I expect each reader will have her or his own favorite portions of the book, to which they will want to return time and time again. For this reason, I believe this book is destined to become a classic. It can truly help to start some much-needed and interesting dialog. So I cannot help but to highly recommend this book, and hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Glimpses of Heaven on Earth

Editor and author John E. Wade II has compiled a spiritual guide of invaluable insight for finding peace and meaning in life while making the world a better place for all. Along with co-authors Charlotte Livingston Piotrowski, Daniel Agatino, Michael Nagler, and Martin Rutte, this collection of enlightening essays and inspirational quotes from renowned thinkers and leaders throughout history provides the intellectual tools needed to live a more harmonious life.

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Genre - Inspirational
Rating – G
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LUCIFER & THE INDIGO KIDS - Hannah - by @Lord_Ra_Krishna #MustRead #Poetry #AmReading


Butterflies and Blunts
Surfboarding in outer space

Amber and crystals
on my fingers
Beautiful tattoos on my face...

Cocaine nights
And track shoe days...

Inspired me to live my music...
I won't forget the way we slept

Like two snakes on Hermes Scepter
Entangled in a warm embrace...

The name... the same...
Backwards or forwards...
H-A-N-N-A and H

Yellow diamonds on a butterfly ring
Her name is tattooed on my neck

Now we're married / then divorced
In strawberry fields is where we met...

Krishna... Buddha... Jesus... Loki...
Achilles.... Alexander and me
Interracial... and taboo...
I won't forget the way we slept

Was it love? Or just a fling?
Do you still have that butterfly ring

I think I took it back from you...
You hurt my feelings in the club...

Like somebody else I know?
And we are kinda married still

A god no monster can defeat...
But love is my Achilles heel

1000 leagues beneath the ocean
Further than the deepest depths...

Like 2 snakes on Hermes Scepter
I won't forget the way we slept

"This “new age” book of poetry reflects the diverse views and philosophies of it’s author Ra Krishna EL. It’s an intimate, humorous and thought provoking group of poems intended to evoke strong emotion. To quote the German philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche, this style of poetry can be called “Zukunfts poesie“ which translates into “Poetry of the future”, where truly original ideas are presented thru poetry. Also known as post Nietzschean poetry.

It’s subjects include society, pop culture, love, religious dogma, God and the new age of Aquarius. This book was written and published during the false incarceration of its author in Chicago’s notorious Cook County Jail, the largest jail in the country."

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Genre - Poetry, Philosophy
Rating – PG-13
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A LIFE LESS ORDINARY by Victoria Bernadine @VicBernadine #Women #AmReading #ChickLit

The coffee shop wasn’t very busy.  Only a couple of tables were occupied, with several more people standing in line. Manny sat rather nervously at her table sipping her third vanilla latte and wondering if she was as crazy as Rebecca and Daisy claimed. This would be her fourth interview today of a potential travelling companion and she hoped this guy would be more of a possibility than the other three she’d already met. Oh, they all seemed nice enough, but Olive had been jittery and they’d quickly realized their personalities would never mesh well enough to travel together for six months. Isaac had had a predatory, speculative gleam in his eyes as he looked her over–and she hadn’t needed Harvey to tell her to stay as far away from him as possible.
Darius was very sweet and charming, just eighteen, but he couldn’t pay his own way, and Manny wasn’t about to support him for six months. He’d shrugged and accepted her decision with an adorable smile and she offered to call Daisy’s boss, Max, to see if he had any work that Darius could do. Darius had thanked her and even paid for their lattes, and they’d chatted for a good forty-five minutes before he’d finally gone on his way. Yes, he would have been a good choice–and she might change her mind if she didn’t find anyone before she left in two weeks.
You can always go by yourself.
I know. But it would be more fun with someone else.
You’ll have me.
Manny glanced at Harvey sitting in the chair across from her. He was dressed casually in jeans and a button down shirt open at the throat to show the strong lines of his neck and chest.
You’re not real.
Harvey winked at her. Just checking.
She shook her head and Harvey blinked out of existence as the door opened and a darkly handsome man walked in. He paused in the doorway and removed his sunglasses as he glanced around the small room. Securely hidden in her corner, Manny considered him.
Tall; over six feet. Dark. Handsome, with large, dark eyes and full pouty lips. His black, tousled hair and dark stubble on his face gave him a sexy, scruffy appearance. He was slim, with broad shoulders, narrow hips and long legs encased in jeans.
I’ll bet he has a great ass.
I’ll bet you’re right.
He’s like a younger version of me.
Manny blinked at the man standing in the doorway and realized Harvey was right. Oh, they didn’t exactly look alike, but they had similar colouring, and a similar underlying confidence and arrogance in their stance. Probably something natural when you’re that naturally gorgeous, Manny thought ruefully, or, in Harvey’s case, thatunnaturally perfect.
I’d almost be jealous…if I was real.
But you’re not–and he’s quite something. I wonder who he’s here to me…eeet.
Her internal dialogue trailed off as the stranger’s gaze met hers. He gave a half smile and headed towards her.

For the last fifteen years, Rose “Manny” Mankowski has been a very good girl. She turned her back on her youthful fancies and focused on her career. But now, at the age of 45, she’s questioning her choices and feeling more and more disconnected from her own life. When she’s passed over for promotion and her much younger new boss implies Manny’s life will never change, something snaps. In the blink of an eye, she’s quit her job, sold her house and cashed in her pension, and she’s leaving town on a six month road trip.
After placing a personal ad for a travelling companion, she’s joined in her mid-life crisis by Zeke Powell, the cynical, satirical, most-read – and most controversial – blogger for the e-magazine, What Women Want. Zeke’s true goal is to expose Manny’s journey as a pitiful and desperate attempt to reclaim her lost youth – and increase his readership at the same time. Leaving it all behind for six months is just an added bonus.
Now, armed with a bagful of destinations, a fistful of maps, and an out-spoken imaginary friend named Harvey, Manny’s on a quest to rediscover herself – and taking Zeke along for the ride.
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Genre – ChickLit, Contemporary Fiction
Rating – PG-13
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Kirsten Mortensen Problems vs. Solutions When You Dream @KirstenWriter #AmWriting #SelfPub

Writing and Dreams. Not That Different
By Kirsten Mortensen

I love to dream. And not just because it’s so night to get a good night’s sleep. I love to dream because I’m utterly fascinated by the experience of finding myself in a strange world—often occupying a strange identity—that seems utterly complete and coherent while I’m inside it. What a marvelous thing, consciousness is, to be able to send us into dream worlds!

I also believe my love of dreaming is very closely related to my writing.

In fact, I think writing—especially writing fiction—is very similar to dreaming. You might even say that writing fiction is a kind of controlled, waking dream.

Think about it.

When you dream, you relax. You turn your attention from everyday life. And you let another part of your mind—one that exists independently of the mind where you live while you’re awake—take over. It creates characters, settings, plots, story lines. Things “happen” that cause you to react emotionally. Problems present themselves—and so do solutions.

Now think what happens when you write fiction. You relax your waking mind, and turn your attention away from everyday life. You let another part of your mind take over. And it starts creating characters, setting, plot twists . . .

With me so far?

Now how about this: suppose that paying attention to your dreams helps you to build bridges between the part of your mind you use to create fiction, and your waking consciousness—the part of your mind you need to capture what you’ve created and write it down.

Isn’t that an intriguing thought?

I know that I’ve been paying close attention to dreams my whole life, and during many periods of my life I’ve kept dream journals. And something else: there are times—especially when I’ve been getting enough sleep—when I’m able to consciously control my dreams. Sometimes I realize I’m dreaming (an experience known as “lucid dreaming”). Other times, I feel like I’m a movie director. If I don’t like what’s happening, I’ll change it.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to believe that this practice has helped me as a writer. It’s very subtle, but I can feel it when my mind “switches” to a different mode, the mode where I’m generating fictional characters, fictional worlds.

I believe there’s a connection. Scientists know today that when we practice any task—whether its navigating city streets, doing Sudoku puzzles, or memorizing poetry—our brains become better at that task.

I’ve written about this topic at length in a non-fiction book I published, called Writing, Dreams, and Consciousness.

And I believe that the work I’ve done as a dreamer is one reason that the world I created in my latest novel, Dark Chemistry, is so vivid that readers tell me it makes a strong impression on them. That world really does exist—I know. I’ve dreamt it!

So here’s my proposal: paying attention to dreams—keeping a dream journal, for example, and writing down what we can remember of our dreams when we wake in the morning—is a way of training our brains to create fictional worlds.

What do you think? Do you remember your dreams? Have you ever kept a dream journal?

And if you decide to try, to see if it helps you develop a writer, please let me know. I’d love to hear about your experience.


A woman's worst nightmare

Drugged by something...that makes her think she's fallen in love.

All Haley Dubose has ever known is beaches and malls, clubs and cocktail dresses.

But now her father is dead.

And if she wants to inherit her father's fortune, she has to leave sunny Southern California
for a backwater little town near Syracuse, New York. She has to run RMB, the multimillion dollar
chemical company her father founded. And she has to run it well.

Keep RMB on track, and she'll be rich. Grow it, and she'll be even richer. But mess it up, and her inheritance will shrink away before she gets a chance to spend a dime.

Donavon Todde is her true love. But is it too late?

He's RMB's head of sales – and the more Donavon sees of Haley, the more he's smitten.
Sure, she comes across at first as naïve and superficial. But Donavon knew Haley's father. He can see the man's better qualities stirring to life in her eyes. And Donavon senses something else: Haley's father left her a legacy more important than money. He left her the chance to discover her true self.

Donavon has demons of his own.
He's reeling from a heartbreak that's taking far too long to heal. But he's captivated by this blond Californian, and not only because of her beauty. It's chemistry. They're right for each other. But has Donavon waited too long to woo this woman of his dreams? Because to his horror, his beautiful Haley falls under another spell. Gerad's spell.

A web of evil.

Gerad Picket was second-in-command at RMB when Haley's father was alive. And with Haley on the scene, he's in charge of her training. But there are things about RMB that Gerad doesn't want Haley to know.

And he must control her. Any way he can.

Romantic suspense for your Kindle

Will Haley realize that her feelings are not her TRUE feelings?
Does Donavon have the strength left to fight for the woman he loves?
Will the two of them uncover Gerad's plot to use RMB pheromones to enslave the world?
And even if they do – can they stop it?

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Genre – Romantic suspense
Rating – PG-13
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The Newbies Guide to Surviving Bad Reviews by Amy Lewis @AmyLewisAuthor #AmWriting #WriteTip

The newbies guide to surviving bad reviews

It was already a bad day when I read her review, only half paying attention to the words, because it was 6 am, and I had not slept well. I got a full three sentences in before I realized, "Wow, this lady really hated my memoir." Not only is she trashing my writing, she's trashing me, and not so subtly accusing me of lying. She suggested not everything in my memoir really happened to me. Despite the good reviews that had been rolling in, as a first time indie author, I could not stop thinking about this lady who hated my book. I knew I shouldn't care. I knew as an artist I put my work out there and welcome good and bad feedback. Art is subjective. I know that. But still my mind obsessed. If my book had been fiction maybe her review would be easier to take. She thinks my heroine sucks - no problem. But this was a memoir. She was basically saying "you're worthless, your story is worthless and you should have written it in a diary and kept it to yourself." Ouch. I googled how to deal with bad reviews. I visited sites that list all the horrible reviews that famous, award winning books received. I laughed and felt in very good company ... but only slightly. I was not a famous writer. I’m guessing bad reviews don't hurt as much when you're sitting on a pile of money and holding your Pulitzer Prize.  I considered writing her back. I know this is a huge no-no. I found myself reduced to age 11 and wanted to say horrible and childish things to her. I came up with many creative insults, but I kept them to myself.

It took a few days for me to cool down and begin to see the bigger picture. I finally got my "aha" moment as people like to say. This lady's review actually could be a huge gift. Huge! I should actually be thanking her.  I have struggled all my life with people pleasing and holding my self-expression back to fit in and be liked. I learned from a young age to read people and give them what they wanted, what would make them happy. I've been aware of my accommodating tendencies for decades, but breaking out of them has been a challenge. The more I relaxed and let go of my anger, the more I smiled when I thought of this book-hating lady and her nasty review. Someone doesn't like me or my book. Big f-ing deal. My world didn't shatter. I didn’t stop breathing. In fact, nothing happened. There is nothing wrong with hating someone's memoir, and there is no crime in sharing in vivid detail your feelings in a book review. I even began to smile at how much she must dislike me to take the time to write that particular review.

The real problem here is not the review or the fact that I got upset. The real problem is when I or when any writer, artist or human chooses to stay silent, to not play the game of expressing what is inside that screams to come out, just because we are afraid we won't be liked or accepted. The world does not need any more people like that. The world needs bold artists whose desire to express and create is way bigger than their fears of how their work will be received. I am happy and proud to say I am one of those artists. And this bad review helped me to realize that.

I leave you with one tip for dealing with bad reviews. When all else fails, get a copy of the Frozen soundtrack, crank up Let It Go and belt it out along with Idina Menzel ...

Let it go, let it go
And I'll rise like the break of dawn
Let it go, let it go
That perfect girl is gone!

Here I stand
In the light of day
Let the storm rage on,
The cold never bothered me anyway!


Diagnosed with Borderline Personality disorder, Amy struggled with depression and an addiction to sharp objects. Even hospitalization didn't help to heal her destructive tendencies. It took a tumultuous relationship with a man named Truth to bring her back from the depths of her own self-made hell.Amy's marriage to dark, intriguing Truth was both passionate and stormy. She was a fair-skinned southern girl from New Orleans. He was a charming black man with tribal tattoos, piercings, and a mysterious past. They made an unlikely pair, but something clicked. During their early marriage, they pulled themselves out of abject poverty into wealth and financial security practically overnight. Then things began to fall apart.

Passionate and protective, Truth also proved violent and abusive. Amy’s own self-destructive tendencies created a powerful symmetry. His sudden death left Amy with an intense and warring set of emotions: grief for the loss of the man she loved, relief she was no longer a target for his aggression.

Conflicted and grieving, Amy found herself at a spiritual and emotional crossroads, only to receive help from an unlikely source: Truth himself. Feeling his otherworldly presence in her dreams, Amy seeks help from a famous medium.

Her spiritual encounters change Amy forever. Through Truth, she learns her soul is eternal and indestructible, a knowledge that gives Amy the courage to pursue her own dreams and transform herself both physically and emotionally. Her supernatural encounters help Amy resolve the internal anger and self-destructive tendencies standing between her and happiness, culminating in a sense of spiritual fulfillment she never dreamed possible.

An amazing true story, What Freedom Smells Like is told with courage, honesty, and a devilishly dark sense of humor.
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Genre – Memoir
Rating – PG-13
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Kimberly Shursen on Being Stuck & Having a Secondary Plot @KimberlyShursen #WriteTip #Thriller

Help! I’m Stuck in the Middle and I Can’t Get Out
By Kimberly Shursen, Author of Itsy Bitsy Spider, Hush, and Lottery

Ever get to the middle of writing your book and didn’t have a clue what to do next? You’ve set up the story; you’ve described the characters, the scenery, the wallpaper in the kitchen, and now what? You’re excited to write that unbelievable ending you already have conjured in your head, but how in the world are you going to get there?

Answer: resolve the issue before you start staring at those intimidating blank pages on the screen.
  1.  Have a secondary plot. By this I don’t mean a separate plot, but one that weaves nicely into your story. Using my novel HUSH as an example, there is Ann and Ben’s life, and then there’s Ann’s lawyer Mac McConaughey’s story. The plot remains focused on the main characters, however, Mac and his wife Jazz’s life is a secondary heart-warming storyline readers can identify with.
  1. When you’re stuck, think of the most pivotal moments of your life; the birth of a child, a challenging life hurdle you’ve finally succeeded in overcoming, or the feeling of finally letting go and falling in love. Bring these pivotal moments to life in your characters. Set the platform in the first few chapters of your book and you will have a beginning, a middle, and an end that, although cliché, will wrap up into one sweet little package. Never write a chapter that doesn’t have substance or doesn’t move the story forward. Each single word, sentence, and chapter needs to have meaning; so no cheating filling in with drawn out dissertations of the scenery.
  1. I never place my novels in one city as it’s just too much fun to travel via the net. It is important that my characters and the places they live or travel not become redundant. In HUSH, there are three cities I visited in cyberspace. How do I do this? Just as a couple of examples, I use images, descriptions of buildings and restaurants, and neighborhood overviews found in personal travel documentations, along with studying the official websites of the city. I do a ton of research so that if anyone who lives in these cities or neighborhoods happens to read my book, they would think I’d been there not just once, but several times. The bulk of HUSH was set in Minneapolis, and even though I lived in Minneapolis for many years, I still had to check out the facts. How many miles around is Lake Minnetonka where Mac’s wife Jazz lived? How far was it from Dinky Town where Ann lived to the courthouse? Where are the prestigious neighborhoods in Minneapolis? Which suburbs are the poorest? Mileage from one place to the next takes me to Mapquest.
When I took HUSH to Lake Geneva, Switzerland was when I really had to  dig deep into the bowels of the net, close my eyes and envision not only the Jet d'Eau that surges 459 feet above the lake, but the Swiss Alps, and the peaceful inlet of water that borders this quaint, wealthy city.

Don’t be afraid to reach the middle; embrace it. If you’ve done your homework, and set up your storylines, there will be nothing to fear when you proudly present your baby to the public.


Soon after Ann Ferguson and Ben Grable marry, and Ben unseals his adoption papers, their perfect life together is torn apart, sending the couple to opposite sides of the courtroom.

Representing Ann, lawyer Michael J. McConaughey (Mac) feels this is the case that could have far-reaching, judicial effects -- the one he's been waiting for.

Opposing counsel knows this high profile case happens just once in a lifetime.

And when the silent protest known as HUSH sweeps the nation, making international news, the CEO of one of the top ten pharmaceutical companies in the world plots to derail the trial that could cost his company billions.

Critically acclaimed literary thriller HUSH not only questions one of the most controversial laws that has divided the nation for over four decades, but captures a story of the far-reaching ties of family that surpasses time and distance.

*** Hush does not have political or religious content. The story is built around the emotions and thoughts of two people who differ in their beliefs.
 EDITORIAL REVIEW: "Suspenseful and well-researched, this action-packed legal thriller will take readers on a journey through the trials and tribulations of one of the most controversial subjects in society today." - Katie French author of "The Breeders," "The Believer's," and "Eyes Ever To The Sky."

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Genre – Thriller
Rating – PG-13
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Craig Staufenberg on Not Over-managing the Creative Process @YouMakeArtDumb #SelfPub #MG

How to Meet Deadlines and Remain Sane

The simplest strategy is to not set deadlines. This is very easy when you’re writing the book for yourself and plan on self-publishing. It’s hard to let a deadline drive you crazy when it’s not there in the first place. Though then you may run into the creeping dread and anxiety that comes from not having a clear idea of when the project will be done. Or even if the project will be done. It’s easiest to not set deadlines when you’re sure that you’re going to finish the thing—which you can only be sure about if you have experience finishing projects in the past.

A better model— you can set a longer hard-limit deadline for the end of the project, and then avoid creating any little ones. For example, you can say you want to have your book done in a year. When one year passes after starting the project, you’re done, and you release the best version of what you have. Then you just let the year proceed without a lot of micromanaging of your schedule, or draft completion, or any other smaller deadlines and milestones. Once again, this relies on some understanding that you’re actually going to be able to finish the project, and that you’ll work on it throughout that year. Not a huge problem when you really love the project, the characters, the story, and you feel compelled to make the thing. And then, as long as you have a hard end to the project, you can float around inside that time and feel certain it’ll get done.

This is my preferred method. I don’t like rigid structures and tight deadlines. Other people do. Other people perform great by managing everything down to the week or day or hour. For me, over-managing the creative process and setting too many deadlines for myself makes me tone deaf to my natural working rhythms. I will trick myself with my set schedule, and I will complete every deadline the night before it’s due. Maybe if I didn’t have that schedule in place I would have completed that phase of the project three days earlier. But that deadline sticks in my head, so instead of following my drive to work on that phase before it’s due, I tell myself “I have until Sunday” and then I swallow my interest in working on the project then and there, and end up putting it off till right before midnight on Sunday.

All of this is a fancy way of saying I like to work on my projects when it feels right to work on them. As long as I keep the project top-of-mind and continue to daydream about it—and journal a little bit on it daily—then I’ll have an accurate feel when I’m ready to make a push and when I’m not. But if I set a firm schedule, I end up working when the schedule wants me to and not when I, and the project itself, want to put in a few hours.

This is a personal thing. A personality thing. If it sounds like mayhem to you, then you should have a more ordered way of producing your work. And if you’ve never finished a project before, then the external stressors of timelines and deadlines and milestones could be very useful for you. But if you, like me, don’t fit into that style of working, then know this—it isn’t necessary. It’s a shame that most people who write books and articles about how to “get things done” tend to be very organized, disciplined, hardline, schedule-the-process-to-the-minute sort of people. Not because they’re necessarily better at getting things done, but because they’re much more likely to write a book on the subject. This creates a bias where we think these people have all the answers for everyone.

They don’t. Plenty of people get lots of things done while putting only the lightest reins on themselves. And lots of us both prefer how that freedom feels, and work much better without external or internally imposed restraint. By accepting that about ourselves, we finish more projects, we produce better work, and we enjoy our lives more, than we would if we tried to fit a strict system. So I suppose the secret to not losing your mind over all these deadlines is simple—know yourself, know how you get things done, and honor that. More often than not that means being easier on yourself, rather than forcing yourself into a tighter cage.

And as a passing note—if you’re worried that you won’t finish your project if you don’t have a jailer on your back, then I’d suggest you might not like this project (or writing in general) as much as you think you do. The easiest way to stay sane while completing a project in a reasonable amount of time is only working on projects that you love, and working on them doesn’t feel like a burden.

The Girl Who Came Back to Life

When you die, your spirit wakes in the north, in the City of the Dead. There, you wander the cold until one of your living loved ones finds you, says "Goodbye," and Sends you to the next world. 

After her parents die, 12-year-old Sophie refuses to release their spirits. Instead, she resolves to travel to the City of the Dead to bring her mother and father’s spirits back home with her. 

Taking the long pilgrimage north with her gruff & distant grandmother—by train, by foot, by boat; over ruined mountains and plains and oceans—Sophie struggles to return what death stole from her. Yet the journey offers her many hard, unexpected lessons—what to hold on to, when to let go, and who she must truly bring back to life.

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Genre – Middle Grade
Rating – PG-13
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