You’re never too old to write. Meet Reginald Gray with his latest book:

The gunman turned to the injured bus driver, pointed the gun, and pulled the trigger for the third time. 

A murder during
a robbery on a double-deck bus on the outskirts of an English rural town leaves
the local police baffled as to motive. Further related deaths makes the
apprehension of the killer a top priority for Detective Inspector Harty but the
lack of clues makes this a difficult case to solve.

Any doubt that the
robbers would actually use their guns dissolved at that moment and the young
man promptly sat down again. The shot had brought screams from most of the
women, and looks of horror and disbelief from all the passengers on the lower
deck. Handbags and wallets were quickly opened to reveal their contents to the
second gunman who grabbed anything worthwhile and stuffed it into his pockets.
The bus driver tried to take advantage of the distraction and made a move for
the buttons to close the doors and so make it difficult for the bandits to
leave the bus. A second shot from the gunman beside him hit him in the hand
before he could reach the buttons causing him excruciating pain.

The gunman demanded
that the driver hand over his takings plus everything in his pockets. The
second man continued to relieve the passengers of everything they had.

After a few moments the
two robbers from the upper deck ran down the stairs and out of the exit door.
They rapidly made their way to a car parked a short distance in front of the
bus. One of them opened the nearside passenger and rear doors then jumped in to
the rear seat slamming the door behind him and opening slightly the offside
door. The other man opened the driver’s door, leaned in and turned a key
already in the ignition and started the engine. He then joined the man in the
rear seat leaving the driver’s door open. The robber on the lower deck of the
bus, who had been taking the passengers valuables, threw the last of the
handbags on to the floor of the bus, ran to the car, climbed into the driving
seat and started to rev the engine, ready to go.

The gunman who had
already shot twice turned to the injured bus driver, pointed the gun at the
startled man’s head and pulled the trigger for the third time. The driver
slumped forward on to the steering wheel where he stayed motionless. The gunman
turned, ran down the steps and to the front passenger seat of the waiting car.
As the passenger door slammed shut the driver put the engine into gear and the
car quickly disappeared from sight down the side streets.
Born 1930 in
East Outer London, and happily married for over 60 years. Reginald is now in
his 80s, but not ready to be written off yet! He has a background in management
accounting, company budgets and computer management/programming, and took early
retirement in 1992.
He has always
enjoyed reading, and in his retirement he enjoys writing  and welcomes this opportunity to share his stories
far and wide in the hope they give the same enjoyment to everyone who reads

Death on Route 37 is also available for Kindle at: and

Are you a puppeteer? AKA Sock Puppet.

They walk among us.

Not the actual socks with stick-on eyes we made
as kids (usually Dad’s old socks with a hole) but in REAL HUMAN FORM. 
Otherwise known as:

 Frustrated Authors.

They make up a fictitious name and an Amazon account, give
themselves five-stars and write “OMG!! Fantastic book. Just could not put it
down. Can’t wait for the next book/movie.”

Because of these frustrated writers, five-star reviews have
become suspicious, and readers are no longer impressed. And who can blame them?

People read reviews to make a judgement to see if they want
to buy, and if they do buy and enjoy your book, probably you have got away with
it. But what if they hated it? It’s possible. As many people hate Twilight as
they love Bella and her fanged friends. And do you know what readers do? They
feel cheated. They head back to write their own review and some even CHECK THE
PREVIOUS REVIEWER’S CREDENTIALS. If the five-star reviewers have no history you
can bet these readers will assume you have written the appraisal yourself.

You might even be talked about in the forums so much so that
your review is replied to with destructive results. They might even tag your
book with “sock puppet”, “ fictitious review”, “do not buy”.

I’ve seen it happen.

But who are these Frustrated Authors?

They are usually first-timers impatient for success, and
they are fixated on NOW. They aren’t looking to the future and seeing the
problems they are heaping onto themselves and other writers. They don’t
understand that it isn’t the first book that brings in the readers it’s the
second, or in some cases, the third. Of course, having a book that is typo-free with
an excellent story helps sales.

As an indie writer myself I know how hard it is to get seen
when there are so many other books out there. The trick is to build an Author
Platform BEFORE you publish. It isn’t too late if you have published already,
but build NOW. That means connecting with PEOPLE.

LISTEN to what they have to say, interact. Google book
reviewers/bloggers and ask them if you can gift them a copy of your book. Don’t
expect an excellent review in exchange; a good review is the icing and a light
fluffy sponge. A bad review is a rather stale cake (better than nothing). And if you get a bad review DON’T respond

It’s a slow process. The cogs turn verrry slowly in Writer
Land, and if you try to speed up the progression, you’re going to get trapped
in the spokes.
Article by Louise Wise

Hashtags on Twitter – what are they?


Hashtags are simply mini communities on Twitter. With hashtags you aren’t just connecting with your followers. You’re speaking to EVERYONE using that same hashtag. But some have rules so please check the guidelines – yes even hashtag communities have rules! 
Some hashtags are inspirational and others are for promoting, and did you know ANYONE can dream up their hashtag and even register it! For more information go to:
#kindletweet was created by a group of writers on Facebook (Writing Kindle Books) and was meant to help spread the word of our work – and it still is. But it’s also a way to connect with other indies/small press writers.

Anyone can use it. Anyone, that is, who RTs (retweets posts) and CONNECTS with others. 

Use it, but please don’t abuse it by dumping your content and running.

Sharing content gets you noticed!

Kimi’s secret – YA fantasy at its gory best.

Wanna see something really scary?

When death comes knocking on your door there is really only one place to hide. Dragged screaming to the paranormal world of Heart, where ghosts are real, big cats prowl, aliens are greylians, monkeys rule, trolls troll, fairies are vermin, the Adepts always know best, magic is mojo and roasted dodo is the dish of the day; Kimi Nichols is handed a secret that must never be revealed. To do so would mean the end of mankind. 
contains imploding toads, gravity-defying clowns, liquefied brains, a sadistic dentist and a deformed taxidermist; great dollops of blood and bogies, half a million crows, and a giant with OCD.
Gothic horror meets supernatural sci-fi; Kimi’s Secret will leave you gagging, breathless and sleeping with the light on.

This book will be FREE Sunday 6th May and Monday 7th.
Download it FREE while you can.

An interview with John Hudspith – author of Kimi’s Secret

What inspired you to write Kimi’s Secret?

A couple of things.

Firstly would be life’s
inherent need for equilibrium. Not just human life, but all life-forms, in
their drive to survive, procreate and evolve into better mechanisms, show,
through the patterns of their structures and actions, an ever-present need for
balance. We humans display this need quite brashly with our crude means of
communications and all too often ill-thought thoughts and actions, causing
disruptions and blow-holes to infest the peaceful, less sentient ever-present
strive. This process is the bedrock of all story-telling, and so Kimi became a
Balancer, the force for good over evil.

Secondly would be my love for
the challenge of a big production. Being a successful production manager of one
sort or another for a huge chunk of my life makes me reasonably proficient
where plot and arrangement are concerned. I wanted to stamp my take on the
balance of life while using those techniques learned through years of
experience. I’m reasonably happy with the result. Maybe if I could go back and
tweak it just a teeny bit more here, and add a bit there, and – oh shut up and
move on!  

that’s an on-going problem for writers. I don’t think any writer can say with
perfect honesty that their book is finished. How long did it take to write
Kimi’s Secret?
From the spark that would not
die, to a very generous serendipity bringing many wise and giving peers,
through the constant climb of understanding the craft and discovering the
complex intelligence and vast power contained within so little ingredients as
26 letters and a few bits of punctuation to bat them about with, Kimi’s Secret
took five immensely enjoyable years.
Five, by the way, being a
digit of magical connotations, receives many nods and configurations within the
pages of Kimi’s adventure.

is a fantasy for YA. Is that genre your niche? Or would you/have you
written anything else?
I don’t much like genres. Unfortunately
though, they exist, cemented at the root by conventions created via perception
– and – wait for it –
need. Sigh.
Does Kimi’s Secret best fit the Y/A tag? I think 90% of Y/A readers may enjoy
the read, but I don’t think it’s limited. I’ve had comments and reviews from
much older readers as to how they could not put Kimi down. Kimi’s story could
have been told in virtually any genre: horror for adults, romance, erotica,
storybook for littleuns, virtually any. I like writing in these other genres,
too. I fancy trying some horror next.

Kimi’s Secret certainly has elements
of horror in it. The crows do bring back memories of watching (cowering)
Hitchcock’s The Birds. I’m enjoying the humour as well. You have a talent for
tongue-in-cheek funnies and it comes across well in Kimi’s Secret. 
Is the lead character, Kimi, based
on anyone from real life?
Visually, for my eyes only,
Kimi is based on a young girl called Farrel Smith who sang so beautifully in
2009’s Britain’s Got Talent. I say for my eyes only because Farrel is the
character I saw in my mind’s eye when watching the scenes rolling out, and she
is the one I would sketch into the storyboards. But in the book I don’t give
much to reader in the way of description. I show them the clothes she likes,
and indicate some length of dark hair, but that’s about it. The story is told through
Kimi’s eyes and I wanted the reader to live that and to build his own image of
the heroine.

Intellectually, Kimi is
merely the vehicle into which I jump, adorned in her assumed skin, to handle
the next situation.

Smith, really? I see Kimi as a little dishevelled. A tomboy. I know you have
her as wearing pink in the book, but that pink in my mind’s eye, is a dark off
coloured pink. There are no girlie characters. Even Stella is a
pulled-through-a-hedge character.
Now that’s interesting. You took my hints of description and built
your own character to live the story with. I’d love to hear what other versions
of Kimi have been created by her readers.

So, why a girl? Why not Jimi?
Good question. Three reasons.
When I first came up with the idea for Kimi’s tale there was this kid called
Potter or something, and he was doing incredibly well – I didn’t want clichés
or comparisons.

Secondly, I wanted the
challenge: to play the lead as a young girl, think her thoughts, make her
decisions, become her character and live it effectively and portray it
convincingly on the page. It took a few years, and a lot of steers from a lot
of good peers, but I think I eventually got somewhere near acceptable.

And thirdly, some of the
things Kimi has to go through are really quite terrifying, exhilarating, or
just downright icky, and I thought it would be more fun torturing a girl than a
You mention Potter. Now, to me, Kimi’s
is more Alice in Wonderland or Narnia: it’s madness, Kimi’s state
of confusion and wanting to do right, her sidekick Bentley (Mad Hatter/Mr
Tumnus). But then, I’m probably the only person in the world who hasn’t read
Harry Potter!
Alice, Wonderland, Looking
Glass, Jabberwocky, all in my top ten reads. The intense chutzpah of Lewis
Carroll really does float my balloon. A huge inspiration, Carroll gets a few
nods in Kimi’s Secret. I made him a Balancer Adept, founder of the dodo farms;
gave him a statue at the end of Carroll Street in Middling which is home to The
Rabbit’s Foot where Kimi lives. Oh, and I even tumble a crow down a rabbit

you have a disturbing incident with crows when you were a child?
Ha! Not at all. Although hang on,
now that I think about it…I do remember watching Hitchcock’s `The Birds` at the
impressionable age of seven, and an image of that slumped guy with his eyes
pecked out will always be mine, along with that schoolroom scene where the kids
are singing “huffety-puffety-rah-rah-rah”
as the crows gather on 
the phone wires and climbing
frame outside, and the kids make a run for it, and the crows swoop and charge
and rake claws through the scalps of screaming youngsters. Great film, and yes,
probably an influence. I love birds, used to watch them for hours from my
window, sketching their various forms. I remember finding a few in distress and
taking them home and nursing them better. And another time I found an abandoned
young thrush so I popped him in a blackbird’s nest and the blackbird reared it
with her own. Fascinating characters.

You watched that at seven! OMG! I was terrified
watching it as an adult. Yes, you managed to bring all that terror back and I
can see why adults will love Kimi’s Secret as well. You don’t pander to the
child-reader, you are telling a fantasy story which happens to have a young
protagonist, but I’m glad to know you don’t have anything against birds!

Bentley is, or was thought to be an
imaginary friend of Kimi. It’s interesting that you built on this common
pretend-play that children sometimes go through. Did you have an imaginary
friend as a boy?
No but my
best friend did. I was extremely fortunate to have to sit still, in bed, for
two years. Instead of playing outside with my pals I was sat in bed with new
tools: sketch pads, books, and a TV I could watch until God saved the Queen and
the white dot went beep. I got to watch all the cool Hammer Horrors and stuff
like Creep Show, King Kong, The Ants, Karloff, Cushing, Price, and of course
Hitchcock. Given this delightful enforced stillness, my imagination was allowed
to grow. So when my best mate David talked to his imaginary friend, or
pretended to share his cars with him or feed him a biscuit, I would tell him
stop having a laugh. I might also have been the one who told him Santa was
fantasy and that the tooth fairy would nibble at his throat if he didn’t put
soil under his pillow.

Was there a character you struggled
Every one of them. Achieving
good character is to achieve correct character, i.e., to wear the skin, to use
the words that would come through this character’s time of growth of culture of
surrounding, of his reason for being right up until the time I meet him. That
takes some doing, some drafts, to get anywhere near acceptable, and yet, I find
the only way is to act out those scenes time and again until gradually the
character is revealed. And the hardest of all were the two greylian characters.
Not having the benefit of wearing human skin, I had to start from scratch.
Whether that worked well or not I do not know.

How much research did you do for
Kimi’s Secret? I know people tend to think that with fantasy you can “make it
all up” but usually this isn’t the case and much work has to go into it.
While building the world of
Heart and uncovering its ethos I must have researched for a solid year; firstly
by reading popular Y/A such as HP, Twilight, Pullman et al and so ensuring that
my own stamp would be original. Second came the finer workings, the code of
Heart, the geology, history, culture, the very science which makes it all tick;
every aspect formed into a credible mould rooted in fact. Every detail
researched, checked, placed carefully into the weave. It was, and still is, a
lot of research.

How many unpublished books do you
have lurking under your bed?
None. But there are quite a few unwritten ones in my head.

Kimi’s Secret didn’t end, there is a To Be Continued how far are you into the next book? Will there be more and more adventures (books) of Kimi?
I’m writing the sequel to Kimi’s Secret – working title: Kimi’s Density and the Vampire Dairies. (Sorry but it makes me chuckle every time I open the doc.) At the moment I have ideas for another half dozen Kimi adventures and that’s before I open the can of books under my bed. Who knows? If I could only get more time to write. Hmm.

What made you go down the
self-published route?
The novel won one of youwriteon’s Book Of The
Year awards and the prize was free publication. I asked if they would wait
awhile because I had only just started submitting to agents. One agent bit, but
asked if I could cut the word count by 40% to save on production costs. If I
could do that they would be willing to pitch it. I gave it a go but it just
wasn’t working. Whether simply incapable or incredibly vain or a mixture of
both I told them no thanks and decided to collect on my prize. Don’t get me
wrong, I fully understand where this agent was coming from. I know very well
that production costs are paramount, yet I had written the epic that I wanted,
and if that meant going it alone in order to make my desired mark then I was
very happy to do so.

Are you still in touch with that agent? Would
they be interested in future work from you?
I’m not in touch with that agent but I am
considering contacting them again with a view to pitching the sequel.

Do you set yourself goals when you sit down to write such as
word count?
Not at all. Never any goals. I prefer just to
write and see what happens. Some days I scrape the barrel, other days I dig up
gold. Writing is a lovely place to be.

There is some “swearing” in the novel that made my eyebrows rise. I’m not an avid reader of YA so I’m not sure if this is the norm or not, but how’d you get away with the word “shit”?
I find it amusing that I can eat brains, kill crows, shoot holes through greylian guts, murder people in cold blood, and get up to stuff Hannibal Lecter would be jealous of, yet use the word `shit` once (or is it twice?) among 90,000 words and it raises eyebrows. This brought up interesting discussion with the first school collaboration. Pupils decided unanimously that the small amount of cussing brought a realism that they appreciated. Swearing in Y/A fiction is commonplace – Kimi is quite tame in comparison to some.

How do/did you deal with rejection letters? Any tips?
haven’t submitted anywhere for a couple of years, but in the early stages when
I fired those begging letters off I made the same mistake that 99% of
submitting writers do – my work, my writing, was simply not good enough. If
you’re considering submitting you should consider the basics before you send
poop to the agent’s doormat.

simple fundamentals:
you had an editor look at your submission?
·                  Have
you had a proof-reader look at your submission?

submitting their begging letter to agents have not. And it shows. A good editor
will advise not just on the original worth of your work, but on voice,
viewpoint, pace, structure, characterisation, dialogue, story arc, as well as
offering suggestions for story/prop/scene improvements and solid advice on
blurb, synopsis and begging, sorry – query – letter. And a good proof-reader
will give your submission the final polish ensuring it will slip gracefully
into grateful agent hands.

You work as an editor as a side-line. But who
edits/critiques your work?
very fortunate to have had the guidance of a top wordsmith: Mr Mathew Cohn. The
guy is a genius, taught me a helluva lot, and shaped Kimi’s Secret into what it
is. I owe him so much I even named Kimi’s adversary General Cohn after him.
Apart from Mathew I am fortunate to belong to a small but intelligent writing
group (if it’s pants they tell me it’s pants), and I have the eyes of a dozen
beta readers to keep me straight. On top of that I am currently collaborating
with the pupils of 
Blaenavon Heritage VC Primary School in Wales for the sequel, so I think it’s fair to say that
with so many helping hands moulding the ingredients, the end result is sure to
be pretty tasty.

You had the help from pupils of Portree Primary with Kimi’s Secret?
Portree Primary worked with me on Kimi’s Secret.  Blaenavon Heritage VC Primary School are involved with the production of the sequel. Working with the kids, receiving their drawings, notes, feedback, is an absolute joy. We have only just got started and have many competitions lined up to take us through to the summer holidays.

Now I’ve finished reading Kimi’s Secret, I’m interested in how you came up with the plot. It’s amazing how you finish the story, how it all comes a full circle and everything ties up. And then just when you think it’s all over it isn’t and the whole thing is given an extra twist.
Many readers have commented on the twisting plot, wondering how I put it together. The answer is time, perseverance and continuously consulting half a dozen internal writers on every plot point. Simply, I would reject the first two or three ideas I came up with and dig deeper until I came up with better. My plotline storyboard ended up a confusion of pins, arrows and crisscrossing threads but the end result was worth the effort.

Click and listen – spooky: Kimi’s Secret by SCHMUCKFENSTER

In the northernmost spire of his black-brick chateau, John Hudspith edits fiction 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 house. 

John may look handsomely ancient but he’s really only 30. Five years to write a first novel takes it out of one’s mojo – that and the time-travel. But Kimi is alive now, waiting to suck you in and thrust you onwards. John is working on the sequel and hopes to see daylight before Christmas.

Cait Lavender’s top ten books


Cait Lavender

1. Guards! Guards! By Terry Pratchett—God, I love this book. I pretty much love anything that Pratchett writes, but this is one of my favorites. Sam Vimes is the main character and he’s a rough-around-the-edges Watch captain doing his best to be a good man, protect the city he loves and deal with his team of miscreant guardsmen.

2. Moon Called By Patricia Briggs—I love all of her werewolf books, but the Mercy Thompson series is by far my favorite. Mercy is a kick-ass shifter who takes care of herself and those she loves. No wusses there.

Paranormal romance – Hunter Moon 

3. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austin—Let’s be real; if you’re a woman odds are you love this book too. I’ve read and re-read this book so many times I could almost quote the whole book.

4. A Spell for Chameleon By Piers Anthony—This series really lit the flame of my love for the fantasy genre. In fourth grade my older brother ripped my Goosebumps out of my hand and gave me this book and while I didn’t understand the faintly sexual double entendres I enjoyed the Alice In Wonderland­­-like story filled with jokes and puns.

5. Shadowfever By Karen Marie Moning—I loved the entire Fever series, but this one was my favorite because we finally got to know what the hell was going on! I love Mac and especially Barrons and I blame Moning for ruining me for all other male main characters like Austin ruined regular men with Darcy.

6. Darkly Dreaming Dexter By Jeff Lindsay—Dexter is the serial killer we all love, because though he’s got deeply seeded issues he only kills bad guys, so he’s alright, right? I have to hand it to Lindsay for creating such a likeable character from a cold, emotionless murderer.

7. Fool by Christopher Moore—Man, I love this book. It’s my go-to if I need a laugh. I mean, what don’t you love about a book that uses the phrase heinous Fu—ery most foul? If you’re sensitive to language I wouldn’t reccommend it, but otherwise it’s a humorous and intelligent take on Shakespeare’s King Lear. A.Maz.Ing.

8. Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott—Yup, I love it. What can I say? It’s one of my favorite Robin Hood stories of all time. Romance, chivalry, intrigue, knights; what more could you need?

9. The Heat by Heather Killough-Walden—Walden is one of my favorite Indy authors. Period. This book is her take on werewolves (I’m a sucker for a wolf, what can I say?) and is full of steamy romance, thrilling action and a little bit of magic.

10. Neverwhere by Neil Gaimon—This book is such a wonderful mind-bending take on the classic quest story. I love Gaimon’s dark side and his take on the underworld of London.

There you have it! My list. Enjoy these books and I promise you won’t be disappointed!

Hunter Moon

Bawling cattle tore Shelby Flint from her bed. With lawyer fees to pay in her struggle to keep her ranch from the clutches of her greedy cousins, she couldn’t afford the loss of even one calf. When she sees a large wolf circling her cows, she aims and fires. While the wolf escapes, Shelby can’t seem to get away from her troubles when a marijuana grower sets up shop on her land, sabotaging her property and eventually coming after her. 

Adding to that, a handsome game warden is poking his nose into her business and working his way underneath her skin. Shelby will have to fight harder than she ever fought before to keep from losing heart and everything she ever loved.


Historical novel set in the 1930s Depression era:

Dinner with Lisa
Rod L. Prendergast 

In the disastrous economic times of the 1930s, Joseph Gaston, a young widower with four children, arrives in the small town of Philibuster seeking security for his family. Instead, he faces barriers everywhere. He does his best despite great adversity, but the strain of feeding and protecting his family whittles away his strength. Finally, destitution forces him to consider giving up his children in order to save them. Enraged by his situation, he attempts one last desperate act—on the night he learns about the mysterious Lisa.

Heart wrenching, humorous and historically authentic, Dinner with Lisa incorporates the crucial issues of the depression: poverty, unemployment, drought and racism. In the midst of love and loyalty, trickery and despair, the ultimate message of the novel is one of hope and the courage to survive even the worst odds.

For more information: 

R. L. (Rod) Prendergast was the entrepreneurial kid you saw on your neighbourhood street selling lemonade on a hot summer’s day. Recognizing young Rod’s preoccupation with money, his mother bribed him to read with an offer of 25 cents per book—and instilled in him a lifelong love of reading. Although he continued down the path of industry—he started and sold his first business before completing his Bachelor of Commerce—he continued to read voraciously. 

After a number of years working in sales, marketing and management for several companies he spent a year’s sabbatical surfing and reading in New Zealand and, free of business pressures, he began to write. Those first words became the backbone of The Impact of a Single Eventwhich was long listed for the Independent Publishers Book Award for literary fiction, and which became a national bestseller in Canada. Spurred on by the success of his first novel, he took another sabbatical and wrote Dinner with Lisa. He is currently working on his next book.

Suggestions on Dealing with a Bad Review

David S Grant

It happened, you got a bad review.  It happens to the greatest and most
“successful” artists every day.  Still,
after reading the bad review you may need more than a hug.  Here are some suggestions on how to handle
the bad news.

  1. Don’t overreact. This applies to both good and bad reviews: stay “Even Steven”, and understand its part of the promotion process. 
  2. Promote the good parts. For example “David S. Grant’s new book balances his sense of humor with the dark topic of murder…” See, not so bad. Now that’s a blurb I can use, never mind that the review continued “…, but his emotionless and materialistic characters didn’t impress me.” It goes without saying which blurb will make the press release! 
  3. Go to CNN and read ANY article, then go to the comments. People are brutal, you will find a simple article about kittens receive threats, political statements, and worse… I try not to do this very often (because it’s depressing), but sometimes it’s just what the doctor ordered. 
  4. DON’T reply or if you must, at least sleep on it. If you need review revenge go to Yelp and write a WORSE SERVICE EVER review on a restaurant you don’t like. Maybe that will get it out of your system and keep your writing professionalism intact. 
  5. DON’T obsess; it’s really not the end of the world. 
  6. Recipe for the perfect Margarita: Two shots of tequila, two shots of triple sec, one shot of lime juice. Shake and serve over ice. Repeat as necessary. 
  7. IF the medium is a place you respect and there is constructive criticism, then consider the review and improve your writing. Warning: Do not change your style over one review. See #5. 
  8. Remember that your writing is not for everyone, writing is personal and the specific genre you write may not trip the reviewer’s trigger. (Note: I would still place some blame on the reviewer who should only review items they can be objective over.) 
  9. Treat yourself to a nice dinner. I like tacos. Do you know what goes well with tacos? See #6. 
  10. Hey, remember that there is something worse than a bad review and that is NO reviews!

David S. Grant is the author of ten books including “Corporate Porn”, “Bleach|Blackout”, “Hollywood Ending”, and “Rock Stars”. His latest novel, “Blood: The New Red”, is now available. David lives and writes his weekly rock, travel, and NBA columns from New York City. 

For more information go to
Twitter: @david_s_grant

Blood: The New Red begins at an after party where Mickey, and ex-adult movie star
turned supermodel, is aligning himself with one of top Designers of Seventh
Avenue.  While trying to land a job on
the runway Mickey is thrown into the center of a scene where sex is often the
motivation, the wine is served by year, and cocaine is back in full force.  Juanita, Mickey’s girlfriend is having
difficulties staying sober, fully clothed, and off of her famous boyfriend.
goes to work for Fashion icon Paul Johnson, one of the two top Designers in
NYC.  The other is Sandy Johnson, another
Designer who will stop at nothing including murder to guarantee victory.  A runway exhibition has been scheduled for
the two to compete in and find out who truly is the best Johnson.  Mickey will be Paul’s top model, and Sandy
has found a homeless person nicknamed Kung Fu Master to show his line. 
addition to getting his new line in place, Paul Johnson is also buying chain
saws, the louder the better, to put the special in this special event.
you know that you can’t be sentenced to prison if actively seeking help at a
mental facility?  Paul Johnson knows
between the girls, counting Vicodin pills, and show preparation Mickey has
grown a conscience and no longer likes what he sees.  He believes (and his psychiatrist agrees)
that he has the power to change what’s happening around him.
before the show Kung Fu Master turns up dead and there is an attempt on
Mickey’s life.  After a brief period of
unconsciousness Mickey is back, is told that Juanita and brother Cheeks are now
also dead and that he must continue with the show.  After all, what would Steven Tyler do?
night of the show is laced with celebrities and models on the runway as well as
one particular popular day-time talk show host that may or may not be murdered
on the runway.
the end only one Johnson will walk away, although this is temporary as Mickey
has the last word.
before he pops his last Vicodin.


Always look
like a rock star. This is the number one secret on how to be famous. I’m
wearing chains, lots of chains. Eye shadow, lots of eye shadow. I wouldn’t say
my pants are tight, but then again, my balls might disagree with you at the

I’m standing on
the second level of the Grand Hotel, overlooking the bar area. My manager tells
me this is where I need to be standing. In five minutes I will move across the
room and stand next to a long mirror where one of the Hiltons will walk by and
notice my reflection. A photographer will be close by and be sure to get the
picture. This mirror has been placed here for this sole purpose. My manager
tells me not to stare at the mirror. If you asked me to list my weaknesses,
this may be my number one fault.

DJ Shingles,
the newest (which means hottest) DJ, is playing on a middle level between the
first and second floors. There is barely enough room for him let alone the
overflowing ashtray and oversized stocking cap. Rumor has it this is his last
show, despite this being his first. There is talk that he is moving into
production and will be working with a major player in the hip hop industry,
depending on who is hot at the time. DJ Shingles is wearing an Armani black
button-down shirt with the sleeves ripped off. Very last year, but this is more
a statement than a miscalculation on his part. Last season is the new season.

My manager
signals for me to make my way across toward the mirror. A reporter from GQ is following me and asking
me questions about who I’m going to sign with and whether or not my past will
affect my future. I get her number, tell her I’ll call her later, and then blow
her off as I approach the mirror. Always leak your press, never tell. This is
secret number three on how to be famous.

Four widescreen
televisions are fastened to the wall behind the bar. All are showing TMZ. An
orange haired girl wearing a Betsey Johnson dress sees me staring at the
television sets. She walks over and whispers in my ear, “It’s the new CNN.”

A waiter
carrying a tray of wine from 1980 is walking by. Every 15 minutes another
waiter, another tray, another year will walk by. Welcome to the world of
fashion parties. Ten percent content, ninety percent presentation.

A man who goes
by the name Dontay hands me a coffee cup that is full of scotch. My manager
tells me to sip it and not cheers anyone. Any buzz that insinuates I’ve been in
rehab and have put my porn career in the past is good press and can only help
my modeling career. As scheduled, I’m approached by someone with the last name

The Hilton is
wearing a blouse that is considered the color Ocean, the new blue, but since
Aquamarine blue was in fact the new blue for last season and last season is in
this season, no one should be caught dead in Ocean. Unless of course she is
being ironic. If so, she will have to mention this to at least three people
during the course of the evening.

“Mickey, you’re
back! I mean, uh…” Hilton looks at the coffee cup. “Welcome back!” She tips her
coffee cup to me.

I glance around
at the guest list, wondering who has the most juice at the party, but am
distracted by the waiter walking through with wines from 1990.

“Last season is the new season,
huh? Fuck that.” She laughs and looks fidgety as lights pop around us. At one
point Hilton puts her arm around me and kisses me on the cheek. FLASH. Mission

“I miss you,
Mickey. We should get together sometime, you know, have a cup of coffee, fuck,
or something.”

Sure, I tell
her and then she leaves because she has a rule about spending over forty hours
a week on the Lower East Side and this season many Fashion Week parties have
been in LES, the new SoHo.

According to my
manager, I need to make my way to a reserved table next to the bar where Paul
Johnson is sitting. My manager also says to ignore the temptation of champagne.
I have a job to do tonight.



Don’t Waste Time Dwelling on Bad Reviews

David Kubicek

It is never pleasant to get a bad review. In
fact, reading a review that savagely eviscerates the novel you’ve spent months
nurturing is one of the most unpleasant experiences a writer can have.

This might help: Getting a bad review often
means that you have missed your audience.
Even if you haven’t thought about writing to
an audience, one exists for your book. If you’re successful at finding your readers—and
assuming your book is well written—most of your reviews should range from 3 to
5 stars, which is where you want to be.

But every author who has collected lots of
reviews has picked up some bad ones—even the most popular books by the most
popular writers.

Try this experiment. Search Amazon for your
favorite books. If they have enough total reviews, I guarantee that some
reviewers will rip them apart. Most of the reviews may be 3, 4 or 5 stars, but
there will be the inevitable handful of readers who rate the books as forgettable,
a waste of time.

The bottom line is: You can’t please
everyone. This also is true of “professional reviewers”, those folks who are
paid to review books and movies.

For example, one criticism of The Hunger Games is that the novel is
not original, that a screwed up future world and a reality TV show where the
contestants kill each other has been done before—the novel to which it usually is
compared is Stephen King’s The Running

Technically, everything has been done before. A fellow named Georges Polti
analyzed lots and lots of literature and concluded that every story that has
ever been written, or will ever be written, can fit into one of 36 dramatic
situations, or plots. What makes each story fresh and different is what the
author brings to the telling. Although The
Hunger Games
and The Running Man
use the same basic plot elements, they are vastly different novels.

Does any of this make you feel better about
getting bad reviews? Maybe the following chart will help. I’ve listed five
popular novels and the reviews they’ have on Amazon (as of 8 p.m. Central Time
on April 10, 2012):
11/22/63 by Stephen King
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
The Help by Kathryn Stockett
Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
Remember two things:
Don’t give much weight to ratings
without reviews telling why the readers didn’t like your book.
Don’t give any weight to mean-spirited
reviews in which readers seem more interested in attacking you and your book
than in giving constructive reasons why they didn’t like it.

A review is just someone’s opinion, and as
long as you’re getting mostly positive comments, don’t waste time dwelling on
the bad ones.
David Kubicek received a B.A. in English from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. He has published several short stories (his story “Ball of Fire” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize: Best of the Small Presses in 1989), hundreds of articles, a Cliffs Notes on Willa Cather’s My Antonia, and a Hollywood producer has optioned one of his screenplays. 

For nine years he wrote for MBJ Publications, publishers of the Midlands Business Journal, the Lincoln Business Journal, and the Mountain Plains Business Journal. As President of Kubicek and Associates, he published five trade paperback books, including two he edited—The Pelican In The Desert: and Other Stories of the Family Farm and October Dreams: A Harvest of Horror (with Jeff Mason).

He lives with his wife, Cheryl, and their son, Sean, in Lincoln, Nebraska.

 A Friend of the Family 
David Kubicek

In a desolate future, long after the nuclear war, practicing medicine is illegal. Health care is provided by Healers who treat patients using primitive methods like chanting and bleeding. 

Hank is a doctor who practices medicine only for himself and his family. His fear of being sent to prison has estranged him from the Underground, the loose network of physicians that tries to help people who have lost faith in the Healers. 

One evening a 16-year-old girl knocks on his door. She has a secret and the power to destroy Hank’s life if he doesn’t make her father well.

But there’s a catch — Gina’s father is the brother of a Healer.

Excerpt from A Friend of the Family

Gina unbolted the door and lifted off the bar, set it with
a bump in the corner, and went out. A cool breeze, touched with the smells of
mildew and rotting wood, whisked into the room. It dried the perspiration on
Hank’s face and rocked the lanterns. The door slapped shut. Maud went to bolt
it. When she came back, she drew her chair closer to the bed, sat down. She
touched her robe near the left shoulder.
got a knife in here.”
understand,” Hank said, feeling cold.
own child doesn’t think I’d use it, but I would.”
Hank looked down at his hands. He tried to still the tremor
within him.
don’t want to cause trouble.”
bein’ here is trouble.”
stop it,” Vic said. Then he was coughing again.
Hank prepared penicillin and vitamin injections. His hands
shook. He had difficulty grasping the syringes, and he couldn’t make his
muscles do what he wanted them to.
Hank put the syringes into his medical case. He didn’t want
to give the injections until Gina got back. He tried to convince himself that
it was common sense to wait until he had checked this man more thoroughly. But
besides the blood pressure, there were no more tests he could do. He was afraid
of what this old woman might do if he frightened her badly enough.

Why Authors Should like Poor Reviews

Will Macmillan-Jones

Louise asked me to write a
piece, from the perspective of a new writer, on the subject of book
reviews.  From a
readers’ point
of view, a book review is an interesting and useful tool in helping you decide
to buy a book – or not.  From a
viewpoint (especially a new writer) they are close to being a major breach of
the Geneva Convention on Warfare.  Or citeable as a cruel and unusual
punishment.  And that’s the good ones!

Publishing is undergoing a
bit of a sea-change with the growing involvement of the internet.  Now, I
write what I assure people is comic fantasy.  If you fancied such a book,
you could turn on your computer, search Google, and see what came up.
Alternatively, you might seek out the book review websites and blogs like this
one, and see what they had to say.  Either way, you would soon be looking
at a truckload of books and mostly both the titles and the authors would be complete

I’ll admit it.  I’m
unknown.  Bet you’ve never heard of me before, and (trust me on this) you
aren’t the only one.  But I’d like to be known, and not only to the
police! Aside from a major lottery win, it’s unlikely unless my stuff starts
selling.  And that means getting reviews. 

How does a writer do
that?  Well, I’ll bet that Louise for one practically has to hide from her
postman as he delivers the begging letters and offers of free books in exchange
for a review.  Her email inbox probably overflows in the same way.  I
expect she wears the delete key out every six months.  And every one of
those letters/emails is from an unknown hoping that someone will look at their
book and say something nice about it.  Or something horrid about it. 
Anything about it, really. 
Waiting for the outcome is
a bit like sitting in a cinema during a horror movie, waiting for that moment.  Remember when you
saw Alien for the first time?
Like that!
Do you know what the odd
thing is? 
An author needs the
occasional poor review as well as all the good ones. Our egos are crying out
for praise, but customers like balance – and that means getting the occasional
poor review too.

So, the next time that you
read a book review and shake your head over the shortcomings the reviewer has
found and exposed, remember that somewhere there might just be an author
punching the air in delight, screaming: “Yes! She didn’t like it!”
Don’t ask!
Will Macmillan Jones lives in Wales, a lovely green verdant
land with a rich cultural heritage.  He
does his best to support this heritage by yelling loud encouragement at the TV
when Wales are playing International Rugby and drinking local beers, although
(of course) never to excess.
Having been an accountant for much of his working life, he
now writes in a desperate attempt to avoid terminal atrophy of his brain.  A fifty-something lover of blues, rock and
jazz he has now achieved a lifetime ambition by extending his bookcases to fill
an entire wall of his home office.
The Mystic Accountants

Just when they thought that life had returned to normal
after defeating the Dark Lord in the lake District, Chris and Linda get a
letter – followed by a knock on the door. 
Their friends are back, and they are in trouble – again.

In the mist haunted dwarf mansion, the Banned Underground
have played another gig.  But this time
the feedback has blown apart the Throne of The Mountain King, and The Banned
must replace it, on pain or, well, pain. 
But the junior dark Lord wants his revenge, if his Satnav doesn’t
prevent him from following the band. 
Grizelda, off-white witch and occasional aunt to the teenagers, is
rather busy with some mad monks who want to conquer the world, starting with
Wales.  Will Dai the Drinking Dragon
help?  Will the Tuatha stay out of the
pub long enough to render assistance?  If
not, Jailhouse Rock looms for the Banned Underground…
Purchase links:
Safkhet Publishing
These are the Kindle links, paperbacks available too! a new community for writers is an open community for writers and readers of fiction. Harnessing the power of ebooks, the objective is to support writers – making what becomes a successful story or novel more democratic, more personal and more social. iWriteReadRate is also here to help readers discover great new writers and stories. is an open community for writers and readers of fiction.
Literature inspires, entertains and educates. The eBook Revolution is enabling people who love literature to come together in exciting ways. Both creators and consumers have a new freedom and opportunity to connect. If there ever was a time to be enthralled with and by literature, this is it.
The social potential of ebooks is opening up new possibilities for writers to build their platform and reach an audience. For readers there are new ways of discovering ebooks, connecting directly with writers, discovering new stories and voices, and becoming a part of the writing process itself.

So you want an Author Platform? FREE eBook

social media and newbie writing guide

For a self-published/indie writer creating a platform is a must. The sooner this is made and maintained the better. But where do you start? So You Want an Author Platform is an easy to follow guide that will help you connect to bloggers and potential readers of your book.

This is a short eBook of approx 9500 words. 

FREE from 
12th to 16th March

The Importance of Developing Your Author Platform

guest post 
Sandra Bunino 

Before my first book, Marooned
In Miami
, came out this past January, I began researching what it meant
to have an author platform.
I’d heard the term. I followed many
terrific authors. But what did “platform” mean exactly? Was it some kind of
pie-in-the-sky marketing concept or something I should take seriously as an
indie author? I have an MBA yet this whole concept was entirely new to me.
Here’s what I discovered:
  • Authors (no matter if you’re self-published or
    traditional) need to have an established presence prior to publishing their first book
Okay, great. But wait, what? Prior to? Wouldn’t I be promoting my
book? Isn’t that the whole point? Yes. And no. I learned that the most
successful authors actually started their platform long before they released
their book!
How do you go about developing this
presence? That’s where I did more research, reading books, going online,
learning what other successful authors I admired had done.
  • For the most part, there’s a basic formula: Twitter, Facebook,
    Goodreads to an extent, and blogging
    . All new to me, but surely not
    that difficult. I had an advanced degree and I deal in the cutthroat world
    of corporate finance every day. Surely, I could do this, right? Well….
Not so fast. If you’ve dabbled in the world
of social media, you’ll understand when I say that it’s a bit of a different
culture. I didn’t quite get it at first. Many don’t. Twitter seemed kinda…weird
(haha). I even called my younger brother and asked him what these hashtags
meant (he was absolutely no help!). Many people think Twitter is about what
teenagers ate for lunch or a way to keep tabs on your favorite celebrity. But I
found out that as an author, it’s far more than that if used as a marketing
tool. What a powerful resource and best of all – it’s free!
I took a webinar, found a mentor and even hired a consultant to give me some
pointers (she’s also a bestselling author so she knows what she’s talking
about!). I was soon tweeting like a pro and gained over 2,000 followers in just
five months. I’ve met an amazing network of authors and connected with many
readers in a very short period of time – all thanks to Twitter, Facebook and
  • Here’s where I think some authors make their
    : as adults we don’t want to admit what
    we won’t know or understand — so many times we give up, walk away. I’ve learned that in publishing, that’s
    just not an option
    . If you ever hope to be signed by a traditional
    publisher (even an indie publisher), they expect you to have an
    established fan base. And not just with a blog. People need to know how to
    find your blog! And this is where Twitter and Facebook, even LinkedIn come
  • SEO: this is a big
    topic I won’t even try to cover here but it goes to what I mentioned in
    the last paragraph. If you want to be found, anywhere, you need to know
    your branding. This is where marketing yourself comes in. I figured out
    quickly that I needed to have a theme: to my blog posts, my tweets,
    Facebook messages – everything needed to go along with my genre, erotic

I pay special attention to my brand.
Everything that I put my name on is branded with a consistent look and feel. There’s a sensual atmosphere to my brand
and I use key focal points such as red roses and rose petals, sunsets and
tropical settings on my blog, Twitter avatar and bio page, Facebook, and even
my book covers.
What does this have to do with SEO (search
engine optimization)? Keywords. Know
what your message is, what you want to convey, and be sure those words are in
everything you do so you and your book come up in the search engines.
This is how your readers can more easily find you with the least amount of
hope this peek into developing my author platform has been helpful for you.
There’s really so much more to it! But at least it’s a start for many people.
Any questions, please ask below in comments or contact me directly. And don’t
forget to comment for a free eBook and to enter my Kindle contest!
book Marooned in Miami is available
Amazon, Barnes
& Noble, AllRomance eBooks
can contact me through my website and on Amazon Author Central. I
am also on Twitter @sandrabunino
(following is sexy!) and Facebook.
Follow your dream, stay positive and don’t
give up! Writing is about the journey not the destination. Enjoy the ride.

An erotica novella novel from Sandra Bunino 
*Adult Content*

Undeniable lust and a fierce Miami storm
bring sexy strangers together at The Hotel Del Santos for a passion filled

Buy Now!

Stephanie, still reeling from a failed marriage, needs a break from the past. She decides to take her friends’ advice and finds a perfect stranger for a night of no-strings-attached, smoking hot sex. 

Jason, a wealthy Seattle builder has the worst luck with love. Swearing he would never allow another woman to get under his skin, Jason decides a life of casual sex is just fine with him. While watching Stephanie’s sexy stilettos click across the lobby floor he zeros in on his next conquest. 

Cut off from the outside world, the lives of these two strangers collide and burn with desire when stranded in the perfect storm. Both are content with the idea of sharing a glorious one-night stand together, that is, until they go their separate ways. 


Sandra Bunino began a love of romance stories while penning a creative writing assignment in high school. The story ended with the heroine receiving a long stem red rose in her locker on Valentine’s Day. Since then, all of her stories feature the hero presenting the heroine with roses. Sandra is constantly searching for different ways to achieve a heart-pumping, stomach-flipping, breath-catching reaction from her readers. 

These days, Sandra lives on a wooded mountaintop not far from New York City with her family. Living so close to the city affords her the best of both worlds and provides wonderful writing material. She occasionally pretends to be in a Sex in the City episode and has renamed her best girlfriends Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda which she blogs about often. 

Sandra’s  is currently hard at work on the sequel to Marooned in Miami. 

Contact:  Twitter: @sandrabunino

Excerpt:Jason moved closer and spoke slowly in his silky voice. “I wonder if you might dance with me.” She nodded and took his hand.
He led her to the dance floor illuminated only with candlelight and the occasional flash of lightning. Placing one hand in his and the other on his back, their bodies started out a respectable distance apart. Before long, Jason’s warmth drew her in, and she couldn’t ignore the electricity forming between them. Tentatively, she stepped closer and lightly rested her head against his neck. Jason took this as a cue to guide her hand up and over his shoulder. Suddenly, his strong hands urgently pulled her against his rock hard body. The force of his embrace awakened a passion that lay dormant inside her until now. Stephanie couldn’t fight the fire building within her. She closed her eyes and breathed deeply, inhaling his musky scent while caressing his neck with her fingertips. Her face grazed up the side of his neck, stopping at his jawbone. Jason’s touch seared her skin as his fingertips skimmed up her side to her neck and came to rest on her chin. With his thumb and finger, he guided her face upward and she opened her eyes. His smoldering gaze burned a trail down her body. Uncomfortable with the intensity of his stare, she looked away.
Her eyes shifted back to meet his gaze as he lowered his mouth and softly brushed his lips against hers, questioningly awaiting a response. Accepting his invitation, she parted her lips and moaned softly. His lips were soft and enticing. It had been a long time since she was kissed like this. She surrendered her tongue to his and felt desire fill her belly as an overwhelming passion grew by the moment. Breathlessly, she pulled away, embarrassed by her body’s reaction to the kiss. She looked down and placed her forehead on his chin.

5 out of 5 stars “OH. MY. GOD! Strikingly Hottest Erotica Novella! An amazing short story was well-written and convincingly hot and sensual.” – Best Erotica Books
 Marooned in Miami is an excellent short, steamy and very erotic tale.” – Fallen Angel Reviews
 “You’re going to have to trust me on this one, and go pick it up, it’s worth it.” – The eBook Reviewers
“This will make you hot on a cold winter night!” – Reader Review

Effective Book Marketing

guest post
Joana James

I hate marketing. Yes, I know this is an article about marketing tips, but seriously, I hate marketing. I’m an I.T. professional and I writer; I like computers and books. I love to write fiction, not promo material. As a matter of fact, I’m pretty sure that I’m no good at it. To me (and maybe to you too), that’s a bit ironic because writers are creative so we should be brilliant at this stuff. Well, I’m not.

Unfortunately, if nobody knows about your books, they won’t sell, so marketing is a necessary evil. I live on a small island in the Caribbean where there isn’t much opportunity for conventional marketing so the internet has become my best friend. During the short time I’ve been a published author, I’ve had to learn a few things.

1. Give your readers a place to find you. It doesn’t have to be an elaborate website. I use a free blog from Blogger.

2. Or maybe this is No. 1b. In either case, don’t make your blog or site all about yourself and your books (unless you’re a NY bestseller that people seek out). Give your readers a reason to visit you there. People won’t keep coming back to your blog to see how far along you are on your next book, or what your next stop is on a blog tour. People what information, so get creative and give them that. I was going about blogging all wrong for the longest time, until I had a “eureka” moment. I write Christian fiction and I also read books from that genre at about the speed of sound so I’m always hunting for new authors (with books at affordable prices – the EC$ to US$ exchange rate is about 3 to 1!). Then it hit me; create a list on your blog where readers can find Christian fiction without busting their budget. Lo and behold, the traffic to my site quadrupled from the first day I set up the list.

3. Social Networking is your friend…or your worst enemy. Social networking is a powerful tool. Use it to tell your friends about your books, but please don’t harass their Facebook pages, they’ll learn to ignore you or block your posts (yes, they can do that!) Twitter is also an awesome tool for marketing, but use with caution. A balanced twitter feed is very valuable. Use popular hash tags for your genre. However, don’t make your feed all about yourself and your book. Offer advice, tell a joke or two. Tweet a funny pic when you come across one. People will look forward to your tweets and maybe even buy your stuff because they feel connected to you somehow.

The bottom line is this, do something interesting and people will check you out. Advertise endlessly and people with shut you out!

Joana James is the author of Nightmare at Emerald High “a book ideal for teens who may be thinking about becoming involved with strange organisations or even entertaining the thought of exploring new “ideas” or religions. Not all that glitters is gold and this book is a real eye opener. Whilst there are many legitimate youth organisations with the sole goal of bettering young people, some of them have a sinister agenda. This is a good read for both parents and their teens.”

Christian FictionMalcolm Drake is one year away from the end of high school when a tantalizing scholarship offer comes his way. Malcolm and several other classmates eagerly join a program called Alternative Science that promises to open their minds to new ways of thinking and of course, help them win that scholarship. Little do they know that this program would change their lives forever. The class is riddled with eerie séances, encounters with spirit guides and a slow desensitization of the teens towards everything evil until they become completely entangled in the world of the occult.

With the program being run by the town’s most influential people, the kids have a hard time getting out. Things take a turn for the worst when Malcolm is summoned to his school where he is bound and drugged in an effort to convince him to remain in the program

Purchase Link – Amazon

The author of 
Nightmare at Emerald High, Joana James, is a 28 year old from the island of Saint Lucia in the Caribbean. She is an I.T. professional by day but in her free time she escapes from the logical world of technology into the artistic world. She is an avid reader and her kindle is her favourite piece of technology. Music is her best friend and that manifests itself through her love for dance and singing.

Joana writes stories that portray the reality of her world. Her first book, a two-part short story series called Rise from the Ashes featured the lives of two young girls struggling in dire circumstances.

Her latest book, Nightmare at Emerald High, brings to the fore a world that everybody knows exists but no one talks about.

Just how *do* you begin to write a book?

How do you do it?
guest post 

Greg Kiser

Getting Started

Think of a high
concept.  For me, that’s the ability to
tap into the internet with your mind. So you can surf the internet the way you
peruse your own memory today. 

Try to remember
the lyrics to a song.  Might take a few
seconds, then you remember.  You find
that information in your brain, obviously. 
Sort of a local hard drive, to use computer terms.

Now imagine you’re
transparently tapped into the Global internet 24×7. Try to remember the lyrics
to a song.  They’re there instantly.  Feels like you found them in your brain, just
like before. But you didn’t.  You found
the words on a server in Germany.  Doesn’t
matter, all transparent to you.

Characters make a great story. 

For me, anyway,
it’s all about the characters.  I’ll give
a book 50 to 100 pages.  By then if I
haven’t connected with at least some of the characters then I generally won’t
finish the book.  Unless, maybe, the plot
is just a killer, like The Da Vinci Code, or something like that.  Preferably, I’m looking for the protagonist
to blow me away because most of the time you are reading from his/her point of

But occasionally
it’s enough if the antagonist is blowing me away, such as the Hannibal series
by Thomas Harris.

Now, you put
together a novel that has two or three characters that I can identify with?  Or more? 
That’s a novel I’m not going to put down.

Character driven plot – rare gems these days

They make the best
TV and movies too.  Think about Breaking
Bad – hell yes the story is outstanding.  But the cast, the cast!  Walter, Jessie – sure.  But also Hank, Skylar, the various
villains.  So you don’t mind when they
switch scenes because the cast is great so all of the subplots are intriguing.

Confidence is key

Just know that if
you get in front of the keyboard at the right time of day for you, then you’ll
write.  Think about your characters,
where the story is going to go.  You
don’t have to have it all planned out. 
It doesn’t have to be the next Da Vinci Code in terms of plot
development.  It just has to flow, to
take on a life of its own. 

Don’t start off
thinking about how the hell you’re going to write a 300 page novel.  Just start off and let the journey
occur.  Think about it and make your
characters come alive and write their thoughts and lives and then let the
interactions occur and you’ll be amazed and surprised and hopefully delighted
by the results.


OK – so you have
the high concept.  Now what? Well, you
have to have conflict.  For me, I created
a moral dilemma between the protagonist, the ‘monster’ Cheslov, and a local
politician who thinks he has a direct connect with God. 

Next – ratchet up
the tension at every opportunity.  I made
my protagonist an ex-Navy seal so he could pretty much deal with anything.  Made Cheslov part wolf, paranormal.  Then went into detail explaining how screwed
up the politician is, he’s hooked on drugs due to his wife’s death, etc.  Keep ratcheting up.

Then create an
outline – and write, write, write to fill in the outline.  Don’t worry about adjectives or effect or the
best dialogue or even grammar/punctuation.

First Draft

My initial draft
took 3 months to write.  Then finishing
the novel took another 3 years.
Oh – and don’t let
ANYBODY read that initial draft.  It will
suck, indeed.

I finished the
first draft and put it down and thought – hey, this has got to be one of the
best books EVER.  The agents will be
beating down my door when they get so much as a whiff of this manuscript!  So I set it aside and took a little
break.  Felt like I was on top of the

A month later I
opened the manuscript and started printing and reading (you must print and read
to get the full effect.  Not good enough
to read a word doc directly from the computer. 
Better yet, print and read out loud to understand how the dialogue
really sounds – helps avoid unrealistic speech. 
Example:  “What is up with that”
quickly becomes “What’s up with that” when you’re reading aloud).

Anyway, I started
reading and was horrified at how bad it was. 
Thus started the 3 year polishing cycle.

Creating the
initial draft is the hardest. The initial overall idea of what your book is
going to be about.  Who are the
characters, what’s the high concept, where will the conflict come from. 

Once you get past
that and start writing, it gets easier.

And once you get
that initial draft completed – then it’s fun. 
Truly.  From that point forward,
you only need to polish.  


Keep it Direct, descriptive, colorful, REAL

BAD:  Jim had worked hard his entire life.
GOOD:  Jim worked hard his entire life.

Avoid the word “suddenly”
Surprise and
startle the reader through your action, thru events, by an action occurring
unexpectedly. Don’t surprise and startle by using a time related adverb.

BAD:  She was suddenly hit in the knee by a ball.
GOOD:  The golf ball struck her knee at one hundred
and two miles an hour.
BETTER:  The golf ball
struck her knee doing over a hundred miles an hour with the force and
indifference of a mechanical bull.

NOTE:  There is
no ‘BEST’ in writing.

Pay attention to points of view (POV)
Put the reader
inside someone’s head and then leave them there.  Being inside someone’s head is VERY
INTERESTING because face it, we’re all voyeurs at heart.  Within a few sentences in every chapter, the
reader should know whose head they’re in. 
Whose POV.  And don’t switch
around within a chapter without a white space separating paragraphs. 

“Said” nearly always works.

Dialogue is your
best character development tool.  Keep it
simple, no need to state the obvious. 
Let your reader fill in the blanks.

“What time should
we leave,” Fran asked.  She wasn’t sure
about the color of his tie.  Funerals
required a certain degree of somberness. 
Jim glanced at his
watch.  He thought about five o’clock
traffic on the cross town.  He didn’t think
they should take a chance with that mess. 
“We should split in half an hour,” he finally replied.

“What time should
we leave,” Fran said.  Wow, was he really
wearing that tie to a funeral?  Staring
at his watch now. Come on, this isn’t a hard question.  We need to leave soon, that’s the point.
“We should split
in half an hour,” Jim said slowly.
Fran nodded.  “Fucken A we should.”

Pay attention to your words
Blond is a hair
color.  Blonde is a person who has blond
Passed refers to
distance.  Past refers to time.
BAD:  He ran past the barn.
GOOD:  Running at break-neck speed, he passed the
BETTER:  He ran at
stomach-cramp speed, passed the barn. 
Clutched his gut and ran some more.

Great Edit Searches with Microsoft Word

One of the great
challenges of writing a novel of any length is the fat fingering.  Misspelled words are easy to find.  But basic mechanical mistakes are harder.  My final draft had about 80,000 words and I
swear to God, every time I read it I found some small mechanical issue.

I finally got
smart and figured out some universal searches that helped.  A LOT.
The following
special characters should be entered into the ‘Find and Replace’ box, ie not
the search field.

NOTE:  in most cases you can use ^$ for “any letter”
or ^^ for “any character”.  The advantage
of ^^ is that you would also pick up numbers.

This is “any
letter” followed by a paragraph mark. 
Will find any sentence at the end of a paragraph you forgot to end with
a period.

^^ Z
This is “any character”
followed by a space then capital Z.  Do
this ^^ A thru ^^ Z.  This will find any
sentence within a paragraph you forgot to end with a period.

^$ .
This is “any
letter” followed by a space then a period. 
Finds any sentence you inadvertently inserted a space before the period.

.” ^$
Period, double
quote, space, “any letter”.  This will
occur normally but this can also help find where you used a period instead of a
comma for dialogue.

And finally…

Just pick your gem every few days and polish for a few minutes.  Hear someone say something funny at the mall,
consider a tree limb in a park and how you might describe it, smell a familiar
smell and let your mind run – all of these ‘experiences’ … feel them and bring
them back into your novel as you polish and make it shine and breathe life into

That’s the best part.  Oh, it’s so hard to get that gem established
at first.  But once you do, it’s your
gem.  And it may never sell, it may never
make millions of dollars – but it’s your gem and you can publish it and you can
get it in print and you can show your friends and one day your children and one
day, many years from now, you’ll read that work as a different person, as an
older person.  You’ll wonder who wrote

You’ll be amazed all over again.

inSyte is a paranormal-thriller that according to Perry Crowe of Kirkus Reviews, is equal parts Crichton, Clancy and King.

It’s Tampa Bay and the year is 2020. Ex-Navy SEAL Mitch “Double” Downing discovers how to tap into the internet with his mind. His new inSyte provides transparent access to the sum of all human knowledge recorded since hieroglyphics. More than mere information – Mitch can see into men’s hearts and be all places at all times (easy in an ‘always on’ surveillance society with fourth generation tweets). Sort of like God.

If knowledge is power, Mitch just became the strongest man in the world.
But inSyte has ideas of its own as the software exposes a politician’s “divine” plan that will unwittingly slaughter millions of people. Is killing the man the only way to prevent Armageddon? The politician’s daughter would probably disagree. And she happens to be the love of Mitch’s life. Losing Kate would be too damn much collateral damage.
At the center of the conflict is a wolf-like killer who will stop at nothing to murder the ex-Navy SEAL. And Mitch must come to grips with inSyte’s dark side – a dominating addiction that soon controls his thoughts and places him on a steep slide to self destruction.

Buy from Amazon:

Greg Kiser is happily
married to a wonderful and inspirational wife, Serena, and has two beautiful
children – Miller and Grace.

Greg graduated from Southern Polytechnic University
in Atlanta with a BS in Electrical Engineering. Greg also earned his MBA from
the University of South Florida. He is currently a Director at Cisco, a high
tech fortune 50 multinational corporation.

Greg has written extensively for fortune 50 high
tech firms in describing next generation networks and painting pictures of the
true evolution of technology for the consumer.

Email –
Blog –

Click below for excerpts
He watched a flock of seagulls move
across the sky. A dirty gull in the lead carried some morsel in its mouth that
the others wanted. They swooped and turned and pecked at his tail until he
dropped the scrap. It landed in the water and was devoured from below by a
school of pinfish.

He smiled at the silly selfish birds. They were like people in their behavior
and conviction that the entire group should starve before merely the strong
should eat. Responsibility therefore fell upon the truly bold to take what they
deserved. Any real mother and, indeed, true creator would be pleased to observe
the strongest of her children satisfying their appetites.

Predation, after all, is not violence. Merely the act of survival. To filter
sick, weak animals from the herd is a vital part of any healthy ecosystem.

Mitch felt an impact like a stick of dynamite
going off in his shirt pocket followed by somebody swinging a sledge hammer
into his back. He reeled sideways and dropped. Adrenaline flooded his body like
a heavy drug as his central nervous system fired out of control and the outside
world was transformed into a macabre slow motion picture show. A strobe light
flicked off and on like someone beating a drum in his brain.

Then the pain stopped and he lost his eyesight and his world went perfectly

The world didn’t go black, more like a white out on a winter mountain. He felt
like he was sliding down a soft hill, falling to whatever awaited him at the

He saw a shape and as he began to pick up speed he knew someone somehow shared
this odd journey. He was conscious of his heart the way you might be conscious
of your hand if someone held it. He knew who was with him.

“I’m coming to be with you,” he said.

“Son, I’m not ready for you to come home just yet,” his mother said with a
translucent smile.

“Not sure I have much choice, here,” he said.

“You always have a choice. About everything. It’s up to you if you’d rather
live or die.”

“How is it up—“

“And it’s not just you, now, is it? Goodness, no. You’ve got your friend out
there who can’t make it through this without you.”

It was important for him to get a point across. He knew this was fleeting and
he fought an overwhelming sense of urgency. “Mom, I still have so much to
learn. But I’ve learned a lot, haven’t I?”

His mother’s spirit smiled and her aged eyes looked weary. “Not enough, I’m
afraid. You don’t belong here. Go back and help your friend and you’ll see. God
has special plans for you, son. Special plans. You will learn so much.”
He thought about trying to slow his descent. But the temptation to close his
eyes and accept the fall was overwhelming.

Why am I
here?” Mitch asked again.

“You are a most impressive young man. Of course, they told me you have this
ability. Somehow you know things you are not supposed to know, yes?” Cheslov’s
eyes widened in reproach. He reached beneath his coat and removed a long cigar.
Snipped the tip using a guillotine cutter that looked like a worn, hungry
mouth. Lit it up with a battered, gunmetal Zippo. Leaned back in his chair,
took a deep drag. Exhaled a thick, hot, blue stream of smoke.

“Which is why you find yourself here. In my home.” Cheslov’s face saddened.
Then he continued, as if explaining to a child. “I am sorry, young friend, to
have to say this to you. That this is not a place a man wishes to find himself.
This is not a room from which people live to see a new day. No, my friend, this
is a room in which people take their last breath, see their last light. Hear
their last sound.”

Mitch remembered a long ago camping trip.

Cheslov smiled warmly down at him. “Why were you meeting the Deter bitch?”

Mitch said nothing.

Cheslov raised the cigar cutter to his face and a raven eye peered through the
opening. He smiled as he slid the blades together. “What was your intention?”

Mitch started the process of extracting himself mentally from his surroundings.
He ran number patterns through his head to take his mind beyond the pain and
the possibility of what the lunatic might do next. There was only one place
this was heading.

Of course he wouldn’t answer any of the lunatic’s questions. The best strategy
to resisting interrogation is to simply not provide any information at all.

“Where is the file?”

Once you start to give up information, even about minor unrelated topics, it’s
hard to stop and easier to give up important information. The answers to the
current questions didn’t matter in the least. The only thing that mattered was
to protect Kate. At any cost.

“With whom have you shared it?”

Mitch said nothing.

Cheslov walked to the head of the bed and slowly examined Mitch’s fingertips.

“You wear your micro on your index finger. Painted with green resin. Quite the
fashion statement. To whom have you sent the file?”

Mitch said nothing.

Cheslov grasped Mitch’s left hand and held it the way a man might hold the hand
of his son. Mitch felt a softness to the giant’s touch.

“Why do you not answer? Are you afraid?” Cheslov gazed down at him with a not
unkind expression. The giant’s thick, dark eyebrows rose as if trying to coax
Mitch to speak.

Mitch said nothing.

“I’ll ask you once more,” Cheslov said and a note of sadness crept into his
voice. The hesitant father who does not wish to punish but is left no choice.
“You have nothing to gain by continuing your silence. And quite a bit to lose.
Yes, quite a bit.”

Mitch stared at the overhead ceiling. Focused on the intricate wood carving.

Cheslov spread Mitch’s fingers.

Mitch said nothing.

“Tell me. With whom have you shared the file?”

Mitch said nothing.

“Enough of these games,” Cheslov said.

How do you write?

Author Andrea Digiglio tells us her writing process. 
What’s yours? 

Have you tried Dragon Naturally Speaking

I am thrilled to guest post today! I thought I would talk a little about the way I write and how I worked out Finding Alice.

I use a program called Dragon Naturally Speaking. The idea of speaking to my computer and it actually understanding me was difficult to grasp let alone to consider using!

I love to write long hand, the feeling of lead crushing on a page or the ink leaking from the pen with a flick of your wrist. If my hands would let me I would sit and write for days on end without sleep. 

My process is simple; I do what feels right when I write. I start with long hand almost always. I sit somewhere comfortable maybe a coffee house and write until I can’t write any more. Once my story has begun and truly has somewhere to go I usually turn to my computer. I type much faster then I write and I am more likely to get more done before my hands and wrists begin to protest.

This is the messiest part of my writing. I usually create a timeline of the book with the things I would like to happen and the order for which I would like them to. In my Finding Alice folder there is hundreds of post it notes, stray papers, receipts covered with ideas all over them, timelines and old versions.

When do I use this
software you ask?  Well sometimes while
I’m writing the first draft. I throw the headset and microphone on lean back in
my chair, close my eyes and just tell my computer a story. I find that the more
I use it the less errors occur. I also had it learn all of my previous
documents so it learned my writing style. (Yes it can do that.)

 My favorite
time to use the Dragon software is during revisions. I always print my first
draft. I love my computer but machines are fickle and I am not losing my entire
manuscript on a malfunction so I print for safety and sanity. During revisions
I sit comfy and read my most recent and edited version to the computer in a
completely new document. This way I can read it in my head and out loud and
change it easily by telling the software to, “delete last line” or “scratch
that.” To me this cuts down on my revision time. I’m more likely to make big
necessary changes right off the bat this way.
That is a peek into how
I wrote Finding Alice. Thank you!

Andrea DiGiglio-Author
Finding Alice (Alice Clark Series, #1)
Andrea was born and
raised in Michigan, she still resided there with her son. Andrea has always
been a writer at heart. Over the last decade she has written, starred and
directed in many screenplays. She recently in the last few years decided to
venture in writing novels. She hasn’t looked back since, giving

it her full attention. She is very excited to share
the wonderful words she creates, with the world.

Book Title – Finding Alice
Genre – YA Paranormal Crossover
Formats – Ebook and Print
Publisher – CreateSpace
Release Date – February 19

Alice is cursed with
an intense version of empathy; she runs from a wasted life to start a new one
somewhere no one will know her, Hell, Michigan. Alice works at a
hole-in-the-wall bar in the middle of nowhere mostly keeping to herself to
avoid the overwhelming emotions of those around her. Alice allows her best
friend to convince her into taking a few college classes without realizing it
would drastically change her life forever. From her first day of class she was
hooked on him; his scent, his eyes, the way he talked to her inside her head.

Throughout her struggles she learns about true
love, true pain and the truth of her own heritage. Alice must quickly find out
who she is because after all everyone else is out to find her. With Angels and
Bounty Hunter’s in constant pursuit she finds protection within a group of
Fallen Angels. These Fallen Angels vow to do anything to protect her; for it is
their belief she will save their kind and all of mankind.

Click below for excerpts:

I moved from
town to town for a short while, working random jobs just to pay for my next
move, until I found a place that felt like home. It was a really odd feeling
for me, never having felt that before, but this place just drew me in like a
magnet. This, for most people, would seem like lunacy. No sane person chooses
I found a hole-in-the-wall bar just outside of Hell, Michigan, and
convinced the owner to hire me. By “convince,” I mean I played him in a game of
pool for it. He was actually pretty good—must come from owning your own bar—but
I hustled him. I’ve been working there for over a year now. I spend most of my
day reading or drawing, and sometimes I work extra shifts just to pass the
 This is where I met Camille.
She was absolutely stunning to look at. She had brown hair with highlights that
looked golden and her skin was pale but flawless. Her legs looked longer than
they were due to her overly short shorts and the tower of heels she wore. She
definitely didn’t belong in a bar like this but just the same, she loved it
here. She went to a community college and came here to get away. She says she
works better with a few drinks in her. Somehow she convinced me that I should
go back to school, that I was too antisocial and needed to get out of this town
every once in a while to mingle with real people, or something like that. I
used to just laugh at her, but I began deeply considering it.
We became friends, almost like sisters after this really bad bar
fight a few months back. An overly large biker came and challenged one of our
regular drunks to a game of pool. I’m assuming it was for a decent chunk of
change, because when he lost to Jake, he almost killed him. There I was minding
my own business at the bar when this giant ass of man pulled out a pistol.
Camille flew out of her seat, attempting to run toward the door, but this guy
shifted his aim at her, stopping her dead in her tracks. Jake just stood there
blank, refusing to give in to him, pushing Camille behind him protectively. I
heard the click as the biker readied his gun. Next thing I knew, I was standing
next to him with his gun in my hand, pressed against his cheek.
 “How about you get your fat
ass out of my bar?” I barely recognized my cold voice leaving my lips.
Everyone stood in shock, but it was Camille’s face I noticed. I
watched her eyes busily recalculating the last few seconds. I felt all the
other patrons watch in terror. He spit on the floor, threw his hands up and
left. Jake let out a sigh of relief and hugged me, flashing one of those “Way
to make me feel like a pussy” grins. I pushed away from the hug quickly and
noticed Camille leaning toward a single black feather on the ground. I snatched
it up and stuffed it into my pocket. I watched for her reaction but she didn’t
even notice.
 The most amazing thing was
Camille never asked me how I got there so quickly, how I grabbed the gun
without anyone seeing me actually do it. That is why we are such good friends.
Well, that and she is so rational, I don’t have to deal with her emotions
overloading my mind. I couldn’t explain it to her even if I wanted to. I
couldn’t even explain it to myself.
The air smelled
like fruit. I rubbed my eyes, attempting to see. I looked at the sky; it
bounced with shades of purple, red, and dark gray. It was gorgeous and I was
obviously dreaming. I walked through this large, empty field, feeling the
warmth of the day on my skin slowly evaporate. I could hear what sounded like
voices coming from the dark woods in front of me on the other side of this
amber field. It’s a dream. It’s safe to
check it out.
I walked toward the blackness and trees, glancing back at the
field behind me that was well-lit from the sun setting. I stood on the edge of
the woods line, debating my entrance and my sanity at that particular moment.
“It’s not real,” I said to reassure myself. I entered the woods, cautiously at
first. The voices grew loud enough that I could almost make out what they were
saying, but there were so many, the words were tangling together. My head began
to ache and I turned to run back, but I couldn’t figure out which way was back
any longer. I picked up the pace until the voices were roaring in my head. I
started into a full-on sprint, running through the darkness and barely able to
see a foot in front of me, trusting myself not to run straight into a tree.
“Alice,” a voice called. I stopped dead in my tracks. “Alice.”
That one voice was calming and felt safe. I found the direction the
voice was coming from and ran straight toward it. I felt the warmth on the back
of my neck. It was not the same as before. This felt haunting. Concentrating, I
singled in on one voice in particular. “Keep going,” he said. I was moving so
steadfastly, I felt as if I was floating through the air. My feet came to a
dead halt when the smell of sand and freshwater climbed up my nose. I made it. I looked out to the water and
saw the most beautiful thing I had ever seen in my entire life. I stared in
amazement as the moon beamed off of his toned torso, so elegant. In one
glorious flex, these incredible charcoal wings escaped his back. I gasped in
complete silence but he didn’t even notice me. They extended at least five feet
in each direction. Each feather twitched as if they were filled with
“Cole? You’re so beautiful,” I heard myself say. He turned to me,
his eyes piercing almost into my soul. I closed my eyes and breathed in his
scent deeply.
I opened my eyes and focused in on the ceiling through the darkness.
Part of me was relieved it was a dream. The other part of me was yearning for
it to have been real. I rubbed my head in frustration and reached out in a full
body stretch. My arms flopped to my sides; I dragged them back up to my pillow
and felt the softest touch against my skin. My eyes fully adjusted to the
darkness and searched the space around me. My entire bed was now covered in
gray-toned feathers.
“Holy shit.” I
twirled my hands through them and fell back asleep.
I knew I was home when
I walked up my driveway without a memory of the drive itself. I walked in,
locking the door and shoving the table in front of it. I stumbled up the
stairs, first aid kit under my arm, while juggling three bottles of vodka in my
bashed up hands.
I turned the shower on and climbed in with the vodka. I slowly started peeling
off my blood-soaked clothes, flinching, wishing I was numb. I poured a little
vodka on my body wounds and down my face in between chugging some to deaden the
pain. I opened the second bottle, doing more drinking than cleaning. I looked
down at myself and found bruises starting to form on almost every inch of my
body. Head to toe, my skin was covered with blacks and purples, reminding me of
my box of feathers. Tears filled my eyes and for the first time in my entire
life, they were my own. I sat curled up on the floor of my shower, wishing the
salt I was tasting was from the scent of ocean that radiated from Cole. I
drowned it out with more vodka.
    I spent the next day in bed, coddling
my last bottle of vodka. Camille called several times to see if I was working.
Her last text message read, Are you okay? Max called me and said some anonymous
caller called the cops and said they saw two guys break into the bar and then
kick the crap out of each other in the parking lot. Max is freaking out. Call
me. I’m worried. I ignored them all. Max called a few times as well. I texted
him back with, See you Thursday. He replied with an Okay and left it at that.
Around four am, I dragged myself out of bed. I walked to my front door to find
it still covered with furniture, as if an intruder couldn’t get past it. I
clutched the most recent bottle of vodka I had become so attached to and
finally set it down. I struggled to push the furniture to the side and opened
the door. I love the smell of four am. I walked cautiously to my car to pull
out my art supplies. I attempted to ignore the giant dent while painfully
dragging my supplies in the house. Just to be safe, I returned the furniture to
its spot in front of the door, snatching the vodka before taking off for the
spare room.
    I dumped everything onto the floor
and dug through it for my iPod. I plugged it into my stereo system and cranked
it up, loud enough to feel the vibrations rush through me. I reached down,
almost collapsing in agony, to grab my charcoal. There were no canvases left in
the house so I shoved my extra couch away from the wall and started rubbing the
charcoal onto the wall. Music, vodka, and art were not a cure, but they soothed
the soul.