If (some) indie authors were car dealers.

Here’s an offer you can’t refuse!
If YOU, yes, you, tell everyone about my fabulous cars {please tweet/blog about my god-damn awful book} I’ll take you for FREE 600 mile spin {I’ve made the book free so you have no excuse not to read it}, but you must tell your friends how fab the drive is along those long, dreary, no-sign-of life-anywhere, roads {there’s no plot, just endless waffle}.
I know there are a few silly faults {typos} (broken wing mirror etc, but nothing that will ruin your enjoyment of driving), so I’d like to put it out there that if someone knows of someone who can fix cars for free, {please edit my 600-paged book for free} I will personally put their name in the window of my shop, which will bring them potentially LOTS of clients especially as I’ll tell all my customers how fabulously you fixed them. I can’t be fairer than that, can I?
My cars are special. You won’t find a Mini, Fiat or a Range Rover, but a mismatch of each and every car the world over so one size fits all! {The genre is mixed: romance, horror, crime, suitable from birth to 100, has a mix of comedy and noire. Oh, and bondage, and don’t forget the vampire!}.
I’ve cleaned each and every car myself because I can’t afford staff, but hey, I have a degree in cleaning so it’s all good {I uploaded my own photos}. Anyway, I’ve have no complaints so far, all my friends and family think they are beautiful cars. 
But oh, and when I asked for advice on the colour of one of my cars, I didn’t expect people to hurt my feelings {not interested in hearing the truth}. That was mean. I LOVE the yellow and brown and think it compliments the red polka dots stickers perfectly {really awful cover photo-shopped cover}

And I KNOW the steering is wonky in all of the cars, which sends them from one side of the road to the other, but that’s part of their charm! {Mixed POV. Even the cat has its own storyline.}

So, open to you, who wants the privilege of reviewing/mending my cars? {read and tell me it’s the best thing since, like, ever!}

The offer is there for one week only so hurry or you could miss out!!
The offer has been extended for a MONTH!


Sci-fi? Suits you, sir.

Sci-fi? Suits you, sir. About editing her latest sci-fi novel `Hunted`, Louise says,`I’ve written many novels, and when I started my writing career the word `EDITOR` seemed scary and expensive. I imagined them in pinstripes (men and women), stern, arrogant and, well, frankly unwelcoming.

via Sci-fi? Suits you, sir..

Christmas Kisses

Christmas Kisses Christmas was almost upon the Pigpimples School of Mystical Mayhem. The elves and goblins had decked the halls and strung the trees, and Professor Bumblebore, an exceptionally old and wise teacher, stood to address year five.“Children, children,” hi

via Christmas Kisses.


Cindy McDonald
 People are always
asking me: where do you come up with the ideas for your Unbridled series? I
always chuckle a little bit and then I explain: Well, hanging around the
backside (stable area) of a racetrack for twenty or so years will give you
plenty of fodder for story lines—trust me!

It’s true. So many
characters hang out at the racetrack: gamblers, liars, jockeys, agents (yes,
jockeys have agents), liars, horse trainers, exercise riders, veterinarians, crazy
blacksmiths, and did I mention liars?  There
are lots of liars. Oh yes, the racetrack is a treasure trove of characters, and
if you are paying close attention (I’m a watcher by nature) they will give you
as many storylines as your little heart desires.

Now just to be
clear, I have never seen anyone murder anyone else, nor have I been murdered
myself at the racetrack, so there is quite a bit of exaggeration placed in the
Unbridled books. And although the Unbridled books are fiction, there is a lot
of truth that lies between the lines.

Another question
people are always asking is: Cindy, where do you find the time to write? The
answer is quite simple, I make time. I write everyday. Sometimes I feel as
though I am handcuffed to my computer, but like anything else that you want to
do well, writing is a commitment.

I love to write in
the evenings. It is the quiet time of day, and after I have finished cleaning
up dinner, I pour a glass of wine—usually a chardonnay—I never drink red, it
makes me sweat. Wait a minute.  Maybe I
should reconsider—the sweating might help with those love scenes that I pen.

My stories are
taken from the original telescripts that I wrote for the TV drama series,
Unbridled. Warner Brothers sniffed around it, but the show never got sold, so
my telescripts are excellent outlines. Even with the scripts, it takes me
approximately ten to eleven months to write an Unbridled story. After months of
writing, rewriting, thinking, and yes banging my head off my desk the
manuscript is read to upload it to my editor, right?

Whoa, not so
fast—not for me anyway. This is where my writing and publishing habits may
differ from other authors. This, my friends, is where patience must persevere, and
sometimes that’s a mighty big order.

Okay, take a deep
breath, because it’s time for the marinating process to begin. Yep, that’s what
I said “marinate”. You’re probably wondering if I’ve hit my head off the desk
one too many times, not really. When I’ve finished a manuscript I do the same
thing most authors do—I start over from the beginning and read, tweak, read,
tweak, and then read and tweak some more. And after I’ve gone through this
procedure several times I close the file and let it marinate.

I let the file sit
for up to six weeks without opening it, without re-reading or tweaking it. But
I never stop thinking about it. I keep a notepad close by to jot down thoughts
during those six weeks that the manuscript is becoming juicy and succulent. It
is definitely an exercise in fortitude, but hey, ya know what? It always pays
off in a very big way because when I open the file to re-visit the story, I’m
reading it with fresh eyes and fresh thoughts and the results are always well,

Hurrying my
manuscript is never an option for me. I want to make sure that it is a story
that my readers would not be able to put down. Every author has their writing
rituals, for me it is contemplation. Beyond marinating my manuscripts, I
usually take short breaks during the writing of a book as well. Sometimes, I
will walk away from a manuscript for a week or so. If I find that I am becoming
frustrated with my story, I know that it is time to take off my glasses, turn
off the computer, and go for a walk or take my dog, Harvey, for a nice long
The sunshine clears my head and it feels good to stretch my legs for a while—I
was a professional dancer for twenty-six years, I need to move around a bit!
But if I return to the problem pages and nothing has been resolved, then its
time for a break from Unbridled for possibly a week or so. Honestly, it doesn’t
take long until I’m missing my characters and I’m back in the saddle tapping at
the keyboard once again.

Yes it’s true,
marinating and contemplation is a long process, however I am always pleased
with the outcome. I am usually able to publish two Unbridled books per year.
How? Well, I am always a book ahead—sometimes two books ahead of what you are
finding on 
Amazon.  Example: the fourth book of the Unbridled Series, Against
the Ropes, will release on June 1
st. I am almost half-way through
the fifth book, Shady Deals—it will be marinating by July. 


I must admit
that no dust ever settles on my computer and those handcuffs come in darn
handy, too. ;}

Other posts on WWBB from Cindy McDonald:
Memories of Presque Isle
When writing romantic scenes where does one draw the line?
When reviews count for nothing.

by Cindy McDonald


the past twenty years Cindy has helped her husband raise, train, and race
Thoroughbreds at their forty-five acre farm known as Fly-By-Night Stables near
During those years Cindy has paid
close attention to the characters that hang-out at the back-side of the
track.  She found the situations and life style most intriguing. In 2005
she sat down at her computer and began a journey into writing about this life
that few understand.
Cindy has recently retired from making
her living as a professional choreographer. She owned and operated Cindy
McDonald’s School of Dance since 1985.  She studied at Pittsburgh
Ballet Theatre School and with the Pittsburgh Dance Alloy at Carnegie Mellon
University to name a few.  She has choreographed many musicals and an
opera for the Pittsburgh Savoyards.

Enter the giveaway:
One signed paperback or ebook (winners choice, US/Canada), International – one ebook: DEADLY.COM HOTCOCO or DANGEROUS DECEPTION


Make a note: never agitate a madman. Successful Thoroughbred trainer Mike West just made that mistake, and he’s gonna pay—more than her ever realized. But it’s all in the family; his sister, Kate, has been the object of the madman’s desire on the social network site “My Town”. Her constant rejections have infuriated him. People who seem to be in the way start turning up dead, and he’s got Kate and Mike next on his list! In the first book of “The Unbridled Series” Cindy McDonald introduces you to the world of Thoroughbred racing, while taking her cast of characters for a wild ride through a maniac’s mind.


The heat of a summer night wrapped its arms around Westwood Thoroughbred Farm. The farm’s vast one hundred acres nestled in the rolling hills of Pennsylvania outside the small town of Grantville. Westwood was a lucrative, bustling horse farm. In the mornings exercise riders would put the horses through their daily workouts. The stable hands would scuttle about the barn chattering in Spanish while cleaning stalls and filling water buckets. In the afternoon, the farm manager, Punch McMinn would deliver the horses to the racetrack where they would dash hell-bent–for-leather toward the finish line. 

Not tonight. Not for Kate West anyway. Kate was only looking for peace and quiet tonight. The glimmer of candlelight and the comforting scent of sweet lilac filled the room. She took a long, gratifying sip of her Sleepy Time tea with a drizzle of honey, a tiny indulgence to help her unwind. She ran her fingers through her blonde, silky hair. Dressed in a soft cami and a pair of pajama pants, she was feeling cozy and glad to have the evening off. She often worked late into the evening as a veterinary assistant at the racetrack. Tonight was going to be a hot one.

She stretched out on the sofa in her father’s study. The sweat dribbled down her neck to between her breasts. Her cami clung to her like a contestant in a wet t-shirt competition. She propped her feet on the coffee table. Her lips curled devilishly as she thought how her father would disapprove. 

Twenty-five-year-old Kate was much too old for scolding, but Eric West could be somewhat over-bearing. He loved the grandeur of the old Victorian-style farmhouse. He claimed that installing a modern convenience such as central air would compromise the home’s integrity. But he wasn’t home. She wiggled her toes, lifted her laptop from the couch, and logged onto a local networking website. The Wi-Fi delivered the site speedily to announce “MY TOWN” across the screen in bold letters. 

The blueness from the laptop’s screen illuminated Kate’s face. She arched a brow and she bit her lip softly when the picture of Giorgio appeared on the screen.

He’s logged on! Oh yes! There he is a delicacy of pure eye candy.

Giorgio had smooth olive skin. His long, dark hair swept across his broad shoulders. His eyes were a cool, inviting green. His jaw was square and strong. It was as if he wasn’t real, as if he was one of those erotic-looking characters on the cover of a romance novel. 

Kate chuckled to herself. She could easily picture this half-naked Adonis, embracing a buxom beauty with her brunette hair cascading over her shimmering bare shoulders with a title like Desire at Dawn scrawled over their heads. 

She had been cautiously chatting with Giorgio for several weeks after he had requested her friendship on the site. His picture was so stimulating, how could she resist? A congregation of attractive woman worshipped him with suggestive messages and invitations on his page. And why wouldn’t they adore him? His half unbuttoned shirt clarifies one thing. He’s ripped.

Among the women who paid daily homage to Giorgio was Ava West, Kate’s ex-sister-in-law. Kate had a healthy disdain for her. She was unfaithful to Mike, Kate’s older brother. Ava blatantly flaunted her beauty in men’s faces to get what she desired. Tall and leggy, beautiful Ava allowed her auburn hair to dangle so she could brush it back with a coquettish smile when in seduction mode. Like Giorgio, she too had green eyes, but they weren’t soft. They were definitely piercing. 

Every man’s wet dream featured Ava, and she knew it. She could be quite the smooth manipulator. Her messages to Giorgio weren’t so much suggestive as straight to the point. Ava liked men in multiples. One man, no matter how handsome, was just never enough for very long.

In general, Kate thought little of women who participated in cyber-sex; she considered it a pathetic, desperate activity. But merely flirting with a gorgeous man in cyber-space couldn’t hurt, right? She laid her fingers thoughtfully on the laptop’s keys just as a message popped onto her screen. 

“Want some company?”

Her fingers jerked from the keyboard. Giorgio! Has he been waiting for me to log on? Hmmm. Maybe he prefers sultry blondes over auburn, green-eyed manipulative monsters.

The cat and mouse game she’d been playing with him for several weeks had been a lot of fun. He had suggested hooking up several times, but she wasn’t prepared for a face to face meeting. Not yet anyway.

She licked her lips in delight as her fingers found their way back into position. I have to hold him off a little longer… make him want me… make him really want to be with me. She typed, “Soon… maybe.”

Why I hate Editing . . .

Kathryn Elizabeth Jones


I don’t know about you but I hate editing almost as much as I hate cleaning out the bathroom toilet, or cleaning the blinds, or scrubbing the inside of the refrigerator.


And though I realize that the best smelling bathrooms have been disinfected, and that my blinds look better when they are clean, and yes, my refrigerator even smells better after I’ve cleaned it, there’s just something about editing that I hate.

Maybe it’s the ‘priceless words’ that I must take out that don’t contribute to the plot.

Or maybe it’s the anxiousness I feeling getting my book ‘into print’.

Perhaps I have readers anxious to read it, and some critiquer is taking an awful long time getting the book back to me

Maybe I hate editing because I can’t edit just once, but find myself editing multiple times before I even hand it off to other proof readers or editors who may not like what I’ve written and suggest that I fix some things.

Or it could be I hate editing because I love writing, or prefer working on the right side of the brain rather than on the left.

Could be all of these reasons, and more. But just because I hate editing or having others edit for me, that doesn’t mean that I don’t do it.

There’s something magical that happens to a well-edited piece of work. I’m not talking about a book that’s been too edited, the kind where everything has been cut and trimmed to a quarter of an inch above the scalp. I’m talking about a book that’s edited so that the writer’s words do more than sit on the paper, yawning. The sort of words that flutter around and land on your shoulder for a spell, before they take off again to the mountain tops or the deep valley. I’m talking about a book made beautiful by the editing that’s been done, not cursed by it.

Hopefully, I’m talking about my books, although I know that after multiple drafts someone might find a misspelled word.

Because I don’t like perfection, either, and I don’t think any book out there is so perfectly constructed, so perfectly in tune with God or ghosts or the underworld, that a few mistakes haven’t crept in.

Yet another reason I hate editing, but continually do it because editing is part of being that awesome sort of writer others keep talking about.

And what writer doesn’t want that?

Previous articles written by Kathryn Elizabeth Jones on WWBB: 5 Ways to Promote Your Book that You May Not have Thought of

Marketing Your Book on a Budget

How does an
author best get book reviews? What of interviews, blogs and social media? How
can a new author expect to be seen while crowding the lane with other authors
of his/her genre?

Your Book on a Budget is tiny for a reason; any author can afford it. But be
prepared for the endless information enclosed. You’ll never wonder again about
the best ways to speak up about your book, get free advertising, or learn why
postcards can help you get the word out faster and easier than any other way.
It’s easy to say you’re going to market your
book, far more difficult to actually do it, but this handy guide will help you
every step of the way, even while your heart is pumping wildly the first time
you have to speak about your book to someone else.


Author Kathryn Jones

Author Kathryn E. Jones has been a published writer since 1987. During that time she has published fiction and nonfiction for teens and adults. As a marketer for the past 10 years, she has learned what works and what doesn’t for the beginning author who is eager to sell his/her work.

Marketing doesn’t have to be difficult and can be rewarding and successful through the simple marketing options presented in her newest creation, Marketing Your Book on a Budget 2013, and used by Kathryn herself. 

The importance of editing:

Keeping track of continuity


Naomi Rabinowitz

my 14 years writing for Soap Opera Digest magazine, I was asked many questions
about my job, mainly along the lines of, “So, you get to watch TV all day,
yes, watching the soaps was a big part of my job description, but writing about
the shows involved much more than simply watching them. We editors had to keep
track of characters, actors and the histories of soaps, most of which were
several decades old. We had to worry about everyday editing concerns, such as
spelling an actor’s name correctly or using “there, their, they’re”
properly, but we also had to worry about things like how many times a certain
character had been legally married to another.
may sound amusing and kind of unbelievable that we put so much effort into
getting our facts straight about a fictional land, but in the daytime world,
this was of the utmost importance. If we got the slightest bit of information
wrong, we’d inevitably hear from angry fans … and it put SOD’s integrity into
point of me sharing this is that I believe that as much care should be taken
into keeping track of continuity when an author writes his or her own fictional
work, a novel. Many authors with whom I’ve worked, worry about making
grammatical mistakes; they’ll ask me to do a line edit or to check for typos in
their writing, but a true edit goes way beyond that. You want your characters
to stay consistent throughout. This applies to small details, i.e., if a
character has green eyes in the first chapter, don’t suddenly write that
they’re blue unless there’s a storyline-related reason that they’ve changed. If
someone’s name is spelled a certain way, i.e., a girl’s name is
“Jen,” don’t also spell it “Jenn” or “Gen.” Pick
one and stick to it.
course, you need to keep track of bigger details, too. If a character finds a
magic sword at the start of a story, it can’t be a magic shoe later on. If a
certain curse turns people into bugs, this has to stay the same
throughout. If a character is cold and stoic, he or she shouldn’t suddenly
change personalities; the shift should be organic. This is especially
important if you’re writing a series and these details need to stay consistent
from book to book.
novel may be fiction, but in order for your words to be believable, you need to
treat your world with respect and think of it as if it is real. If you put the
effort into making your world whole and keeping every detail in place,
then your readers will have a much easier time getting lost in the work that
you’ve created.

Revenge of a Band Geek from Bad

Love. Lust. Blackmail. Romance. Revenge. Is finding love worth getting even?

Shy, overweight Melinda Rhodes’ sophomore year of high school isn’t going so well. Her mother mocks her weight. She spends her weekends holed up in her room making what her friend calls “Freaky eyeball paintings.” Her pants split in the middle of school, earning her the nickname, “Moolinda.” She then loses first chair flute in band to Kathy Meadows, the pretty and popular mean girl who’s tormented Mel for years. 

This is a coming of age tale about finding love, staying on top and staying true to yourself. Is it really possible for Melinda to have it all?

The Importance of Being Edited

Francine LaSala

When I tell people I’m a book editor, they generally reply: “Wow, you must be a great speller!” Well, the thing is, I’m an exceptional editor, but not the best speller. Gasp! How can that be? Keep reading, because I’m going to get into all the aspects of editing and, most importantly, why you cannot, cannot, CANNOT put your work out there without passing it under a set of editorial eyes–or several even. Even if you are able to spell antidisestablishmentarianism without looking it up. Or spellcheck. (And yeah, I needed both for that.)
First, the WHY.
Number 1: It’s an important part of the process to self-edit, but in all truthfulness, you cannot successfully edit your own book unless you are a robot. It’s impossible for us as human beings to regard ourselves with complete objectivity. I’m serious. You can’t pour out something from your head and your heart onto a page and decide whether it’s good or not. You can feel it, for sure, and some people are very good at that. But our heads and hearts are not reliable and they will also trick us into thinking and feeling that what they believe is good is actually good. (Remember these are the two jokers responsible for your last bad relationship. Still want to trust them completely?) An editor is objective, and that’s essential. (Unless it’s your mom. Don’t ask your mom to edit your book.)
Number 2: As wonderful as you are (and you are wonderful), you know it is impossible for a single human being to know everything. (Many, including my husband will disagree with me about this, but, look, it is what it is.) And hey, even if you do know everything, consider this: You may know too much! That saturation of knowledge of yours could very well affect how you present it, and you can drown your reader in confusion without even realizing it. Sometimes it’s an editor’s task to pare down, to tell you when to rein it the freak in. But sometimes an editor also must let you know what’s missing. What lacks development and exposition and what sorely needs it in order to communicate effectively with readers–scientific essay or love story or whatever you’ve written.
And finally, Number 3: The most obvious reason to work with editors is…the more you see, the less you see. The mind (remember that joker from before who made you suffer that “good-on-paper” guy you wasted the better half of a year dating?) enjoys sabotage, and gets off on tripping up even the most eagle-eyed among us. Especially when the mind is tired, and cranky, and frankly bored to death reading and re-reading the same material over and over again (no matter how genius that material may be). Look, you are always going to miss something. Deal with it. And work with an editor, whose mind (unlike yours) doesn’t care to play tricks on you, and who will see glaring boo-boos you’ve read over ten thousand times and never seen.
And Now: The HOW.
Editors come in all shapes and skill sets. Here’s a rundown.
Acquisitions (commissioning) editor.
May be considered more “marketing” then “editorial.” These are they guys that scan P&Ls to decide what’s going to work for their lists. They read your stuff, but not with the depth of someone who’s actually going to work on your stuff. If you’re indie, they don’t really matter to you.
Developmental editor.
Like a beta reader, but trained. Work with a developmental editor after you’ve completed a draft of your book–before you’ve spiffied up and polished things. The developmental editor lets you know what’s working and what isn’t, and for what isn’t, advises how to make it work. (“Kill Charlie, he’s useless!” or “Save the hot washing-machine sex scene for later in the book, after we get a chance to get to know Fred and Marva and their feelings about laundry”) Once you have this great OBJECTIVE insight, you can use those suggestions to revise and rework. And now you can polish.
Line editor.
These guys have a knack for writing a good sentence and a good grasp on grammar, and make sure that your chosen words are relaying your meaning correctly. And they suggest new words to use if you’re not quite hitting it. The line editor will not (should not!) re-write your book. Rather, he or she will clean up phrases that don’t make sense, help slice out redundancies, and make comments where appropriate (“AU: Fred and Marva and the washing machine…you explain on page 40 that he’s five-foot-four. Wouldn’t he need to be standing on something here?” A good example from my last book: “AU: Peonies don’t bloom in the Northeast in September.” Who knew? Not me. But the line editor did!) Line editors hone in on the details so easy to miss in when you’re all caught up in the throes of the rhythm and the music of the writing of a story (which, as the writer of the story, is where you should be, BTW).
A copyeditor’s raison d’etre is to get your grammar right. Like specially trained soldiers, “SEALS” if you will, copyeditors annihilate misspellings, missed words, wrong words, and other dumb crap, and can shame even the most confident grammarian. That’s okay. If you’re telling a story, your crisp command of grammar should not be the part you’re most focused on.
To recap: No matter how Type A you may think you are, if you’re writing, working with an editor is a good idea. Remember: Your heart and your mind are mischievous little beasts who want you to look bad on paper. A good editor is your best defense!

The Girl, the Gold Tooth and everything

A fast-paced, richly layered, and darkly humorous satire filled with quirky characters and unforgettable moments of humanity!


Mina Clark is losing her mind-or maybe it’s already gone. She isn’t quite sure. Feeling displaced in her over-priced McMansion-dotted suburban world, she is grappling not only with deep debt, a mostly absent husband, and her playground-terrorizer 3-year-old Emma, but also with a significant amnesia she can’t shake-a “temporary” condition now going on several years, brought on by a traumatic event she cannot remember, and which everyone around her feels is best forgotten. 

When a trip to the dentist leaves Mina with a new gold crown, her whole life changes. Slowly her memory and her mojo return. But when everything begins to crash down around her, she’s not sure if what’s happening is real, of if she’s just now fully losing her mind… especially when she realizes the only person she can trust is the one she fears the most. What’s it all going to cost her in the end?

Author Francine LaSala

Francine LaSala has written nonfiction on every
topic imaginable, from circus freaks to sex, and edited bestselling authors of
all genres (fiction and nonfiction) through her company, Francine LaSala

The author of novels Rita
Hayworth’s Shoes
and The
Girl, The Gold Tooth & Everything
, and four feature-length
screenplays, she lives with her husband and two daughters in New York. 

Editing is an art

Steve Evans

Editing is a strange beast. People write about it as if its meaning is obvious, yet for someone who does it professionally, as I do, it’s not at all obvious. Put another way, editing covers a range of sins of commission and omission, and there are people who focus on different aspects of the art.

And it is an art, or so I think. Most professional editors do most of their editing subconsciously as they rip through a text, correcting spelling, grammar, syntax, while at the same time thinking, or trying to think, about the “big picture” – what the piece is meant to be about, how it can be improved. So I reckon that when people are working like that, on a number of levels simultaneously, they are artists. That’s true even though they are participating in a social process, rather than creating themselves in the dark garret of their imaginations.

It’s probably unfair to say so, but much of my best editing is done using the highlighting function of the mouse cursor, followed by a deft manoeuvre* with the delete key. I’m really quite good at this.

No writer writes without doing some “self-editing”. A really successful writer, whose hard copy books are flying off the shelves of airport bookstores, will have editors begging to massage her or his work. Those of us who are not so favoured will do it pretty much alone.

There is a difference between an editor and a reader. I have a few readers who read my stuff, and give me (hopefully) unvarnished opinions. I don’t have an editor, and wouldn’t pay for one.

Readers are important, partly because they help give a writer perspective that is easy to lose when buried up to one’s shoulders in the muck of a manuscript. When people argue in favour of editors this is primarily what they have in mind, I think. But someone who does a lot of editing of other people’s work develops this for their own writing, or should – a built-in bullshit detector.

I came to fiction somewhat late in life after many years working in daily journalism, and chose the thriller genre for what might seem somewhat arrogant reasons but that actually concealed a lack of self-confidence: my line was (and is) that I have a “serious purpose in a frivolous genre”. I admire writers who work in this territory like Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett and Elmore Leonard, not so much for their “hard-boiled” approach but the seriousness of their purpose. The best thriller writing surpasses the limitations of the genre and I suppose that was my aim from the first. Now I am thinking about writing in a different way.

Experiencing things first hand is good, but it is impossible for a writer to experience everything in life in order to write about it. At least one thriller writer murdered his wife and then wrote it up, but I don’t think this is recommended. Doing desk research is necessary, and occasionally direct questioning of experts is possible and desirable. For me, most of the sub-genres that shuffle under the rubric of the thriller are implicitly boring as they focus on the “real detail” – police procedurals for example. Police work in real life is quite mundane 99 per cent of the time. It’s also pretty safe, even in countries like the US with a reputation for casual violence. Emotion is where it’s at.

One manual for fiction writing that I admire, says that your book is finished when you are sick of it. That’s pretty good advice.

* I live in an antipodean society whose spelling and syntax are very different from dominant American usage, and even from the “parent” English. Anyone who is put off by it – sorry, it’s just too hard to put into another guise.


Hy Conrad 

writer is different.  But, if I may be
allowed, I’m a little “differenter”. 
That’s not to say better.  I’m
just warning you, my advice may be of no help.


my career, my work has been divided into two distinct groups; TV (writing for Monk and White Collar) and books, each with its own demons.  And though my ideas about editing may not
apply to anyone else, there may be a kernel in here – something you haven’t
heard before.  Let’s start with TV.

television, everyone gives you notes.  I
mean everyone, from the star to the network head to the lady in wardrobe.  It’s also a rule that every note has to be
addressed, not necessarily followed, but addressed.  This is infuriating but instructive.  It gives you a chance to think about your
choices and defend them – or change them.

biggest insight into TV editing is that stupid notes can be worthwhile.  For example, I once got a note saying a
script was too funny.  My first reaction
was, “Hey, stupid!  It’s a comedy.”
Enter the cafe (VBT)

when I read it again, I figured out what she meant.  As you got halfway through my script, the
comedy started becoming less and less grounded. 
So I inserted a quiet moment, where all of the characters reassessed
their situation.  Not a joke in the
scene.  But it added a sense of normalcy
and made the funny parts funnier.

just because a note sounds ridiculous doesn’t mean it’s unfounded.  Just figure out what it means.

writing books, I’m a proponent of self-editing. 
That’s mainly because I have an over-developed sense of structure and
can usually tell when the story is going off the rails.  When my editors do take over, it’s usually to
work on the small things, some insights into character perhaps, or to tell me
to put the quotation mark after the period, even if it doesn’t look
“right.”  (Does that look right to
you?  Well, it doesn’t to me.)

a month during the writing process, I’ll set aside a day and review the book so
far.  I also hang a big note above my
computer asking, “Why is this important? 
Why should I care?”  (I don’t
really; but you get the drift.)

are a hundred good reasons to include tangential material – to set the mood, to
delineate character, to give revealing details. 
There are also a hundred bad reasons – to over-explain a plot point, to
make yourself sound smart, to repeat yourself because you’re not sure the
reader was paying attention.

suspense novelist Elmore Leonard has a rule for writing.  “Leave out the parts that readers tend to
skip.”  As I do my monthly review of the
manuscript, I try to keep that in mind.  It
usually helps me cut thousands of words.

final note on editing is, “Don’t show your work to everyone.”  Be selective. 
If you’re not, everyone will want to help out and you’ll get caught in a
morass of conflicting, amateurish advice. 
Trust yourself and maybe a loved one. 
And your agent.  And a good,
professional editor.

Things Your Dog Doesn’t Want You to Know
Why do dogs eat furniture
when there are endless chew toys nearby? Why do they always dash to a rug when they have to throw up? And why are they always
absolutely starving?

Your Dog Doesn’t Want You to Know
answers the questions that dog owners have
asked for centuries.
book is a collection of 115 humorous essays that reveal the truth behind some
of the most baffling canine behavior, their hopes and dreams, their grudges and
pleasures, and what they really think about us humans.  Peppered with lively, clever stories and
visually appealing photographs, Things
Your Dog Doesn’t Want You to Know
is a verbal and visual delight that is
laugh-out-loud funny.

If you have dogs, love dogs, or have ever
been baffled by a dog, this book is a must-have

  • My Life in Your Purse by Tinkerbell, the Chihuahua
  • Waiting by the Table (for food scraps, of course!) by
    Orson, the bulldog
  • The Bed Rules (Rule #1—It’s my bed) by Dimples,
    the boxer
  • The Reason I Ate the Sofa (leather tastes a lot
    like rawhide) by Axelrod, the yellow lab
  • I Can Poop the Second I Start My Walk (but choose not to)
    by Sophie, the cocker spaniel

Your Dog Doesn’t Want You to Know
is available at
Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Indigo, Target, on e-books and at independent
bookstores everywhere.  For more
information, go to www.ThingsYourDog.com
where you can also ask questions about your own dog’s behavior and learn the
secrets they have been keeping from you!

whimsical delight for dog lovers everywhere, this book will charm and remind
readers why they fell in love with Rover to begin with.” (Publishers Weekly

 “I laughed, my dog howled.” (Steve Martin)

This is the perfect
book for anyone who owns a dog, has ever owned one, or knows what a dog is.
These guys made me laugh out loud—and captured my heart at the same time. The
book is simply irresistible
.” (Tony Shalhoub, star of the TV series
Author Hy Conrad

Best known for his work in mysteries,
Hy Conrad was one of the original writers for the ground breaking series, Monk, working on the show for all eight
seasons, the final two as Co-Executive Producer. In a related project, Hy was
Executive Producer and head writer of Little
, a series of short films featuring Adrian Monk as a ten-year-old.  His latest TV work was as writer and
Consulting Producer for White Collar.

Hy is also the author of hundreds of
short stories and ten books of short whodunits, which have been sold around the
world in fourteen languages.  Hy’s first
mystery novel series, Abel Adventures, will debut in 2012 with the publication
of Rally ‘Round the Corpse.  And his first full-length comedy/mystery
play, Home Exchange, premiered at the
Waterfront Playhouse in May 2012.  He
lives in Key West with his partner and two miniature schnauzers. (www.hyconrad.com)
Hy with co-author Jeff Johnson

Jeff Johnson spent most of his working life in advertising agencies,
currently as General Manager of Cramer-Krasselt in New York City.  He is the author of The Hourglass Solution:  A Boomer’s Guide to the Rest of Your Life
and co-authors (with Paula Forman) a national online advice column called Short Answers, which also appears in
newspapers all along the east coast (from Massachusetts to Florida).  Jeff lives in Vermont and Key West and is on
the Board of Directors of the Waterfront Playhouse and the Florida Keys SPCA.

Is your ms missing that, er, pear tree?

John Hudspith

On the first day of writing my true muse sent to me
– a partridge but NO
pear tree


On the second day of writing my true muse sent to me
– two purple loves,
and a partridge but NO
pear tree
On the third day of writing my true muse sent to me
– three gaping plot holes,
two purple loves,
and a partridge but NO
pear tree

On the fourth day of writing my true muse sent to me
– four bad reviews,
three gaping plot holes,
two purple loves,
and a partridge but NO
pear tree

On the fifth day of writing my true muse sent to me
– five go-lden clichés-
four bad reviews,
three gaping plot holes,
two purple loves,
and a partridge but NO
pear tree
On the sixth day of writing my true muse sent to me
– six characters a-waffling,
– five go-lden clichés –
four bad reviews,
three gaping plot holes,
two purple loves,
and a partridge but NO
pear tree

On the seventh day of writing my true muse sent to me
– seven sentences a-swimming (with distressingly unnecessary
six characters a-waffling,
– five go-lden clichés –
four bad reviews,
three gaping plot holes,
two purple loves,
and a partridge but NO
pear tree
On the eighth day of writing my true muse sent to me
– eight aunts a-milking it,
seven sentences a-swimming (with distressingly unnecessary
six characters a-waffling,
– five go-lden clichés –
four bad reviews,
three gaping plot holes,
two purple loves,
and a partridge but NO
pear tree
On the ninth day of writing my true muse sent to me
– nine adjectives dancing,
eight aunts a-milking it,
seven sentences a-swimming (with distressingly unnecessary
six characters a-waffling,
– five go-lden clichés –
four bad reviews,
three gaping plot holes,
two purple loves,
and a partridge but NO
pear tree
On the tenth day of writing my true muse sent to me
– ten wrong words a-leaping (from the page),
nine adjectives dancing,
eight aunts a-milking it,
seven sentences a-swimming (with distressingly unnecessary
six characters a-waffling,
– five go-lden clichés –
four bad reviews,
three gaping plot holes,
two purple loves,
and a partridge but NO
pear tree

On the eleventh day of writing my true muse sent to me
– eleven readers griping,
ten wrong words a-leaping (from the page),
nine adjectives dancing,
eight aunts a-milking it,
seven sentences a-swimming (with distressingly unnecessary
six characters a-waffling,
– five go-lden clichés –
four bad reviews,
three gaping plot holes,
two purple loves,
and a partridge but NO
pear tree
On the twelfth day of writing my true muse sent to me
twelve blasted rewrites,
eleven readers griping,
ten wrong words a-leaping (from the page),
nine adjectives dancing,
eight aunts a-milking it,
seven sentences a-swimming (with distressingly unnecessary
six characters a-waffling,
– five go-lden clichés –
four bad reviews,
three gaping plot holes,
two purple loves,
and a partridge but NO
pear tree


Is your pear tree missing?  
It’s that time of year again, the time when too many writers hurl their latest at the eBook shelves in time for Christmas sales but without pausing to think about quality. 

Continuity errors, over-writing, plot holes, unbelievable characters, purple prose, all add up to a poor standard of storytelling, and so many such books are being let go into the world of readers without so much as a second glance. 

Employing an editor is akin to asking a fellow craftsman to       help you with your work. 

A good editor will find and fill holes in plot, character and continuity, fine-tune dialogue and narrative, suggest word improvements to aid rhythm and voice and ensure that pace, flow and resulting tension is used to best effect as well as erasing typos, grammar and punctuation problems. 

But which editor? As in all trades there are shameless cowboys waiting to pulverise your purse in exchange for faulty goods and shoddy workmanship as well as the good guys. But how to find the good guys? 


My advice is to judge by quality and connection. Begin by choosing three or four editors who appeal to you. And by appeal I mean how they present and promote themselves and what level of testimonials they have. 

And most importantly: make sure they offer a free appraisal along with some free sample edits. Send them the info they require to create said appraisal and free editorial sample. 

A worthy editor will connect with story, voice, style, genre perceptions and conventions and supply sample edits that will bring improvements to your work and blow your socks into the pear tree. 

You will know. 

You will feel the connection. 

Treat yourself to a Christmas present and hire John Hudspith as your editor. Still not sure? Get a free appraisal first! Click here!

John Hudspith editor and author of the Kimi books

In the northernmost spire of his black-brick chateau, John Hudspith edits novels by day and scrawls scary stories by night. Kimi’s Secret won a highly coveted youwriteon book of the year award and has had huge acclaim in every room in John’s home.

John Hudspith is author of the Kimi books and editor of fiction.


The Death of Grammar (and the English language) in e-readers.

As language evolves and Kindle makes it all too easy to publish I can see a time where spelling is simplified. The long-standing “joke” of spelling changing to how it’s pronounced is now the norm in texing, but that’s because of lack of space and the tiny keyboard.

But is it time the English word is simplified like American spellings? Color for colour (why the “u”?), Yogurt for yoghurt (who pronounces the “Y”?) and grey. I mean, can you HEAR the “E”? So why not use the American spelling GRAY?

Makes sense, doesn’t it?


The English language dates so far back there aren’t any records of the first words (ugg?), and anyway English has been so reconstructed from the UK’s neighbouring countries that our common language is a mixture of French, Latin and others. It’s beautifully old, so to hear it change and American English creep in is a shame.

American English is beautiful in its own right, but that’s where it has to stay. I don’t want to eat chocolate colored yogurt – I want to eat chocolate coloured yoghurt. I want to pull my hair out in frustration trying to figure out the differences between practise and practice, and not give in and use the one with the two curly kuz, as my little boy calls them. 

But this article isn’t only about the fast-evolving English language, it’s about the lack of grammar in ebooks. Typos happen and even editors miss them (some traditionally published books prove this!), but we owe it to ourselves to make our books as error-free as possible. This means investing in not one, but two or more, proof-readers and editors. 

Edit your book yourself, and ONLY when you think it’s perfect offer it to one or more beta readers. Put your wounded pride on the back burner (no space for pride in this job!) and take on board their suggestions. Re-edit your book. Read aloud your book; dust off your old cassette deck and use that even. Go through it line by line and then, and only then, seek out a professional. 

Children are like sponges when it comes to knowledge and are highly influenced, and so as a parent I want to feel I am helping them learn by giving them books to read. Image my horror when my eight year old insisted that the word existence is spelt existance all because he saw it in a book! 

It is with reluctance that I allow my children to read ebooks now unless I vet them first and that’s a shame. But if I’m lacking faith in ebooks, an Indie writer, you can be certain there are others who regard them like people regard *reality TV!

If a traditionally published book has a typos it is classed as an editing or printing error, if Indies have one it’s ALWAYS the author’s fault. People LOOK for errors. Making our books low-priced is NO excuse for being cheap.

It’s time we got serious.

Here are some howlers: 

And websites that help: 
100 Most Often Mispelled Misspelled Words in English
Commonly Misspelled English Words

*Reality TV – has its place, but for low-intelligent people who wouldn’t spot quality TV if they fell over it. 
Ouch! But that’s where ebooks are heading unless WE do something about it. 

Trimming Down: to cut or not to cut?

One Author’s Experience


Chris Lindberg 
Several years ago, I began writing the main
character for what is now my novel Code
of Darkness
: a mysterious loner-turned-vigilante known only by the name
Rage.  I had recently graduated from
college, was living in the suburbs with my parents, and commuting on a train to
downtown Chicago.  I decided the train
would be my “writing studio.” 

I remember coming up with that first line:
“Rage walked into the shadowy bar with one thing in mind: vengeance.”  The line contained a lot of angst, energy,
and foreshadowing for what would be the first chapter of my writing life.  I wrote the chapter in a few days, happy with
the result, and moved on to write other chapters, getting about a hundred pages
into it. 

About a year later I moved downtown, and
suddenly found a lot of other things to do with my time.  Without the long commute to give me a
“studio” in which to write, the book project was tabled for a long time. 

Five years ago, I moved back out to the
suburbs and started a family.  I was back
on the train, so I thought I’d try picking up where I’d left off.  I found the old manuscript and began to put
down new material.  But I decided to go
an entirely new direction.  I scrapped
old characters and storylines, and wove in new ones: a Chicago cop, a rogue NSA
agent, a government conspiracy.  My goal
was to make the story more of a page-turning thriller. 

But through all the changes, the chapters
that centered around Rage stayed mostly intact. 
That first chapter, the one in which I’d first introduced him, and most
importantly that first line, was always going to be my starting point, I’d

I finished the novel at a whopping 198,000
words.  Yes – 198,000.  I was advised to get it down to about half
that.  Half my creation was going to be
on the chopping block?  No way was I
going to do that. 

But it quickly became clear that I was
going to have to.  So I began removing
chapters, storylines, characters.  In
some cases I was simply trimming fat.  Two
revisions later, at 123,000 words, I discovered an angle that would probably
cut another ten to fifteen thousand words easily: introduce the three main
characters together in the same chapter, putting them in a perilous situation
that would set the tone for the book. 
The problem with this was, what would this mean for my cherished
original starting point? 

I tried to find another home for it: the
second chapter, maybe later in the story, but nothing worked.  It just didn’t fit into the story
anymore.  And the problem was, the new
first chapter didn’t just cut the word count, it also gave the story a much
better starting point. 

So after much deliberation, I said goodbye
to that original first chapter, and my story became a thousand times better for
it.  It will always have a home in the
first draft of Code of Darkness, and
if enough people are interested, maybe I’ll post it on my blog someday. 

So now you now the rest of the story.  I’d be curious to know what all your experiences
were with your first novel: how long the first draft was, did you cut anything,
and if so how much … and most importantly, what was the biggest or most
difficult change you made? 
Chris Lindberg’s first novel, Code of Darkness, was released in
August.  You can find out more by
visiting www.codeofdarkness.com, or
visiting Facebook and searching on “code of darkness.”

Chris is also offering a FREE eBook version of Code of Darkness to the person with the best, funniest, cutest comment below. Leave your email and he’ll contact you.

To purchase Code of Darkness in paperback
or e-book edition, please check out: http://www.lulu.com/browse/search.php?fListingClass=0&fSearch=code+of+darkness
Or search “code of darkness” on Amazon or

You can also email him at chris@codeofdarkness.com
– he’d love to hear from you. More about Chris:
Chris Lindberg was born and raised outside Chicago, Illinois.  After graduating from Northern Illinois University in the mid-1990s, he headed out to the west coast for a couple of years, where he began writing as a casual pastime.  

Some time after returning to Chicago he began attending writers workshops at StoryStudio Chicago, where he wrote two character studies, both of which have since been developed into key characters in Code of Darkness.

Chris now lives outside Chicago with his wife Jenny and their two children, Luke and Emma.  You might catch him working away on his second novel while commuting on his morning train into the city. 

Code of Darkness – When a routine bank robbery takes an unexpected turn, veteran Chicago police officer Larry Parker witnesses a heroic act by a mysterious intervener. But seconds later the Samaritan disappears, leaving Larry only with unanswered questions.

Suddenly, vigilante activity begins popping up all over the city – including several murders. Larry begins to gather the missing pieces of the puzzle, and finds evidence the Samaritan might be tied to them. When he learns the man’s identity – a loner known only by the name Rage – he prepares to move in for the arrest.

But there is much more to Rage than meets the eye: the case has also drawn the attention of a covert Black Ops division within the Pentagon. Their mission: find Rage, while keeping their operation out of the public eye. Seen as knowing too much, Larry suddenly finds himself in the crosshairs as well. After a deadly standoff, Rage is captured, forcing Larry to search for answers while on the run.

The deadly chase leads cross-country to a top-secret military facility in Virginia, where Rage and Larry uncover the greatest danger of all — and only they can stop the unthinkable from happening.

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