The Dreaded “F” Word

Now I know what you’re probably thinking. THE “F!” word. That four letter bomb that is used for emphasis or shock.  

But, nope, if that is what you were guessing, it’s not that “F” word. Today, I’m talking about the other “F” word. The one that’s even worse than the aforementioned bomb. In fact, if I had to make a list of the top fifty bad words used within the English language as it relates to people, this would make it in the top ten – maybe even top five – of that list:


That word and all that goes with it, including the depressing feeling that you have tried everything, or, screwed up so bad there’s no coming back. We are taught that word at even the beginning of our education since right there in your report card, if you get an “F,” it means you had F-a-i-l-e-d.

failure-quote-photoIt’s unlike any other word in describing an individual. Outside of the obvious adjectives used in how someone looks, dresses, or presents themselves, all of those are superficial and can be seen on the outside. But failure, that is a hard one to see. To the passerby – even to a loved one – you can be confidant, jubilant, and present the life-is-good persona to the world but, if you have given yourself an “F,” there is that knowing screaming on repeat in your head that you are a failure at (fill in the blank). 

Everyone, at one point, or, more (that being the most likely), have experienced it in some form. A failed class; job; a goal; a relationship. You may have even had some company on your way to failure: The naysayers…the ones whose support would mean everything but instead, are silent or, worse, chip away at your confidence one pebble at a time until you have nothing left and feel you can do nothing right.

What really counts though is what you tell yourself. No one can say you’re a failure. Only you. It’s what you feel inside and that name tag you and you alone pin across your soul.

failure-quote“Failure is not an option” is a popular saying. But the truth is, failure doesn’t even exist – at least not in life. A computer fails, a networks fails, a government fails.  But for a living, breathing creature, four and two-legged, failure only happens when we stop trying. Whatever shoes you fill, they carry you down your path – not someone else’s – and boy there are many crossroads and side streets you take along the way. There is no failure, but a detour and another avenue to travel along to that goal you’ve made for yourself.  

You might be wondering what inspired this blog. I saw someone this weekend that, through listening to his words, took me back to that place where I was with him so long ago, and for a split moment, well to be honest – a couple of hours spent deep in the pity-pot, I wanted to write that failure tag and place it across my soul. But, I didn’t. I wasn’t a failure then and I’m not a failure now. I am a winner because I believe in myself, for myself.

The beauty of being someone who can write and has a blog – I get the last word. However, my last word isn’t for him, it’s for all those who have suffered from that feeling of failure. You can’t fail, it doesn’t exist unless you stop trying, stop hoping and stop dreaming. Don’t do that. Follow your path, take that detour, take another one. Detours are what make the goal so worthwhile – and for writers, such great stories.


Posted in Motivation | Tagged , | 2 Comments

A Father’s Day Tribute

I started this blog about five years ago and, although I did a Mother’s Day post some years back, had yet to do a Father’s Day post – until now.

This will be one of my shorter blogs because I really didn’t know my Dad that well. He passed away when I was 14, and, with being a tad independent – never a mom or daddy’s girl, and the daughter of a man who worked very hard to support his children and mounting medical bills, I didn’t have any time to get to know the man behind the parent. My memories of my father, while all good, are more snippets of moments and impressions.

Mom and Dad weddingTo give you a starting point, my father married my mother when he was 24 and she, 16. I don’t know how they found each other or how long their courtship was…that and other family history went with them. Seven years after their marriage, they welcomed identical twin boys. A hand full of mischief lay ahead of them from what I understand – double trouble became the boys’ name.  It wasn’t long after their birth, my mom’s dormant rheumatic heart fever disease resurfaced and therefore having more children was ill-advised by the doctors. But, one of the traits passed on to me from my mom is that of stubbornness. Going against the advice, a little over a decade and a half later I arrived on the scene.

Not from any particular memory but just from the life he led, I know my father to have been a go-with-the-flow kind of man. I don’t remember ever seeing him get rattled. Not by the abusive tongue his own mother would sometimes use against him; not the bat-s**t crazy sister of my mother who bullied him when he didn’t have any other choice but her when asking to babysit me while my mom was in the hospital; not the five-hour drives every weekend to and from the National Institute of Health in Baltimore to see my mom; nor the unexpected slip and slide, successfully dodging trees and shrubs, down a wet leaf-covered tall hill he and I shared when hiking in the Blue Ridge Mountains one August; or, taking the flack when asked by my mom to trim her favorite camellia bushes in our front yard and he near chopped them down instead. All of it, he took in stride. That’s not to say he never got angry. There were times I heard a change in his tone of voice, but they were rare – and, most occurring when he drove. (Thanks, Dad, for that trait.)

But, the laid back attitude had its drawbacks. And, I’m pretty sure it was something he learned from his own mother – that being he was not very demonstrative in love. I always knew he loved me, he never shied away from a kiss on the cheek when I left to go play, or balked when I sat on his back combing and “styling” his mane of grey hair into all sorts of shapes while we all watched Bonanza on a Saturday night. However, in withholding that demonstration, it made the times he did show it stand out. One time, in particular, I was with my dad, Uncle, and my Uncle’s wife, and we had been fishing on my Uncle’s boat all day in the choppy waters of the Atlantic. After hours of the to and fro, up and down, rocking and rolling, my stomach had had enough and I became seasick. It was bad. I was never so glad to step foot on dry land in my young life and when I did, I didn’t look back. It was then, a quarter way up the dock, my dad ran to catch up to me. He wrapped his strong arm around my shoulders and walked the rest of the way with me. He never said a word – he didn’t have to. I remember looking up at his face and he down to mine and all I could see was his soft, understanding smile, and all the compassion and love he had for me permeating through his eyes. It’s a moment I will go to my own grave cherishing.


Did I mention he was hard working? He was – both at his 9 to 5 and at home. His day job consisted of being an engineer and mechanic for the Norfolk Naval Air Station. He was good at his job and well respected – told to me by the many, many, friends who came to his funeral. But as gregarious and generous as he was with his time for others, he often turned down help when it came to him. In fact the only times I can recall him asking for any help was in seeking family or friends to keep me when my mom stayed in the hospital. His nature of giving more than taking was never more telling than when it came to digging and building a basement under our house; tilling our acre of land in the back yard and maintaining a garden that would sustain us through the winter with home-grown vegetables; and, finally, drilling a new well when the old one showed signs of going dry. He did it all alone, refusing any help, though I know it was offered.

It was during his digging the new well, and he had to stop and drive to the supply store for more material, that we got the call from the Police Department that my father had been involved in a one-car accident and taken to Norfolk General Hospital. We learned after arriving what they wouldn’t tell us over the phone, that he had had a heart attack behind the wheel and died instantly.  

For the longest time, I blamed his not asking for or accepting help – working his body physically beyond the breaking point – for his death. But, I’ve made peace by coming to understand a little on how life and death, and the life my dad choose, works. He stayed long enough to raise two strong sons, and his daughter given a firm foundation to build upon. The values he instilled live to this day in each of his children and we’ve all done our own best to pass those to our own – honesty, integrity, and a stable work ethic, to mention only a few. His own life-character lives on in his friends as they remember him to this day. Only last year, I ran into one of the old “neighborhood” girls and she told me the story that when driving with her own father just a few weeks before, he pointed out to her our old house and told her of the good man that he would sometimes ride to work with that used to live there. Instead of growing old and whatever that may have entailed – possibly being a burden to others, he left in the best possible way, his way – without assistance. Who knows, maybe a part of him knew that my mom would soon follow just three months later and he went ahead so he could meet her when she got there.

Throughout life I’ve, and I know others have, heard the typical life question: If you had a chance to talk to any one person, living or dead, who would that be? And, I finally have the answer. My Daddy. We have a lot of catching up to do.

Dad having fun

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HONOR LAND by R.S. Guthrie – Release Giveaway #reading #prizes

I’m excited to share with you that R. S. Guthrie is hosting a release giveaway for the third James Pruett Mystery, Honor Land. If you want his first two books free, Blood Land is free on Amazon and if you follow this link ( and sign up for his newsletter, you’ll receive the information on the giveaway. Entries begin today! The link to the Rafflecopter contest is on the last page of the book and entries begin Thursday, April 30th @ 12:00 AM EDT through Friday, May 1st @ 11:59 PM EDT. 

The GRAND PRIZE is an Amazon Kindle Fire HD 7! It has 8 Gigabytes of storage for your movies, books, etc., a 7″ high definition screen, and Wi-Fi connectivity. For SECOND PLACE he’s giving out three signed copies of Blood Land (in the new matte cover if you’re willing to wait for it — it rocks! – a preview can be seen on his blog), and for THIRD PLACE in the drawing, he will be giving out five digital copies of his Denver Detective Bobby Mac series (Black Beast, L O S T, and Reckoning). You can learn about even more giveaway information at his blog site, “RobOnWriting”: Honor Land Release Giveaway.  Don’t Wait to Enter!!

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From my own personal reading of “Honor Land,” a hard-boiled mystery and Book #3 in his James Pruett Mystery Series, “HONOR LAND” opens by thrusting you right in the midst of a murder mystery. And, as in true R. S. Guthrie form, he begins adding the layers to the story from there. It isn’t long before you find yourself immersed in the history and culture of the west, where the author merges the past and present in brilliant fashion; all while weaving around you the lives of the characters so well, you feel you’ve known them their whole life.  I don’t want to give any spoilers, it’s not my style, but I do want to touch on the basis behind “Honor Land”, and that being that it’s closely related to those that place their lives on the line in the line of duty to their country, our country. R.S. Guthrie, in “Honor Land”, shows you what it takes to become a part of the Delta force and to live and think as one of these proud soldiers. If you think it’ll be like anything we’ve seen in the movies, it’s not – this is as real as it gets. I live in a military community and have a deep appreciation for what they do for us but I have to say, “Honor Land” made that appreciation even stronger. When you turn the last page, and recount the story from beginning to end, you can’t help but feel the plethora of love the pages told – for our servicemembers, for family, for loyalty, and for justice – a story you lived through and that is now a part of you. If you’re a fan of descriptive surroundings, of dialogue, of depth–mystery, action and surprise endings, you’ll want to read it, and then read it again because you won’t want it to end. I am very much looking forward to the next sequel. That is my only regret – that the next one isn’t right on the horizon for me to continue. That’s what R.S. Guthrie’s books do to me, I never want any of them to end.

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Posted in Books, eReader, Mystery, Prizes, R.S. Guthrie, Reading, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

HONOR LAND by R.S. Guthrie – A Story With A Conscience, A Story of Love #reading

It’s with great pleasure that I get to blog about the newest release from Author R.S. Guthrie:  “Honor Land,” a hard-boiled mystery and Book #3 in his James Pruett Mystery Series.

If you’ve read any of my interviews and/or reviews of the first two books in that series, Blood Land and Money Land, you’ll know I’m a big fan of Guthrie’s writing and this book did not disappoint. It not only matched the enthusiasm I get when reading his work but the heart he put into Honor Land also deepened my well of respect for him as an author and as a person. His descriptive writing sets you right in the book’s pages, living amongst the characters in the beauty and majesty of Wyoming.

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“HONOR LAND” opens by thrusting you right in the midst of a murder mystery. And, as in true R. S. Guthrie form, he begins adding the layers to the story from there. It isn’t long before you find yourself immersed in the history and culture of the west, where the author merges the past and present in brilliant fashion; all while weaving around you the lives of the characters so well, you feel you’ve known them their whole life. One of this author’s natural abilities is to let you pick up this third book in the series and, if you haven’t read either of the preceding novels, allows you to be able to read the story without feeling as if you’re missing part of it or that you’ve been left out, but rather excited you get to go back and read more of the characters….because the characters are not superficial. They have depth and humanity that only a life’s history told in part in each book can create. I don’t want to give any spoilers, it’s not my style, but I do want to touch on the basis behind “Honor Land”, and that being that it’s closely related to those that place their lives on the line in the line of duty to their country, our country. R.S. Guthrie, in “Honor Land”, shows you what it takes to become a part of the Delta force and to live and think as one of these proud soldiers. If you think it’ll be like anything we’ve seen in the movies, it’s not – this is as real as it gets. I live in a military community and have a deep appreciation for what they do for us but I have to say, “Honor Land” made that appreciation even stronger. When you turn the last page, and recount the story from beginning to end, you can’t help but feel the plethora of love the pages told – for our servicemembers, for family, for loyalty, and for justice – a story you lived through and that is now a part of you. I am very much looking forward to the next sequel. That is my only regret – that the next one isn’t right on the horizon for me to continue. That’s what R.S. Guthrie’s books do to me, I never want them to end.

I asked Rob Guthrie to answer some questions to give me, and you, his readers, a greater insight into how “Honor Land” came about, and where R.S. Guthrie goes from here. So, without further ado, I turn the interview over to R.S. Guthrie.  

What inspired “Honor Land”?

I never joined the military, but I have always had the utmost respect for the men and women who serve their countries (as well as firemen, cops, Emergency Medical first-responders, etc.). I ended up late in my “other career,” working for a Lt Col in the Air Force (who was later promoted to full-bird Colonel and invited my wife and I to attend with his friends and family); a (then Captain, now) Major, and a Captain who, when at the AF Academy, was awarded by the President for being the number one of all cadets in the country, AF, Westpoint, and the Naval Academy.

Believe me, I would then and now (and forever) follow any one of them into battle; just throw me a weapon and I will fight right beside them. Great men. Honorable, loving family men. But they know what it takes to defend freedom. Being in that environment—-seeing what is really going on out in the world—I got to see a perspective that most don’t. No, we don’t always do it for the right reasons or the right places—a person would be foolish to think politics don’t play into it—but not for the men I talked about above (ergo other men and women, either, past and present).

I also read a book a couple years back, written by an actual ex-Delta team member (Inside Delta Force, by Eric Haney), that was all about the incredible process of making the cut AND what they really do (almost like clandestine operatives, they are the only element of the military who have long hair, beards, and do not dress in uniform unless part of a military action—almost more, at times, like spies or undercover agents than soldiers, which I did not know and thought was pretty amazing, given the training they’ve endured and survived). Delta’s actual commission is the war on terrorism. So I imagined this “all-American”, smart, athletic/academic-scholarships-galore, who only wanted one thing: to serve his country and to do it as a member of Delta.

THEN, what happens when he comes home? Because too many brave men and women are not getting the treatment they need and that our country owes them (ten times over), and I wondered what if this once all-American kid, from smalltown U.S.A. and Special Forces, was accused of multiple murders.

I know you have previously worked with service members; did you confer with them in doing any research for “Honor Land”?

I did, when I first came up with the idea. The last guy I mentioned above (and by the way, their names are not secret; I dedicated the book to them)—top academy cadet? He went “Blue-to-Green”—Air Force-to-Army—because he wanted to join Special Forces. Unfortunately, after making the cut through paratrooper school and some other tough qualifiers, he was injured in one of the training exercises, severely enough (like a football player) that he could not “play again” (i.e. continue Special Forces training). Big bummer. God blessed them, however, with a first child, then TWINS—or maybe it’s the other way around—but things happen for a reason I guess.

Also, I happen to know some guys who are in Special Forces units whose names I cannot share, of whom I also asked many questions–mostly about tempo, actual firefights, etc. The book is more introspective than soldier action, but I wanted—even if I was talking about the head of a man—to have as good an idea as possible of what he’s probably been through, both in training and in combat. Because it does change EVERY person, one way or another. It has to. And that’s what the book’s core theme is meant to be (and I hope people get it): these people are heroes, who protect YOUR right to spit on them, if you want; burn your own country’s flag; whatever. And they all know that. Yet they step up anyway. And that is why we can continue to live in the “Land of the Free”.

The climactic ending really grabbed and pulled the heart strings. Do you do anything special to get in the mood to write emotional scenes?

Not really. As you know, I establish a beginning point and a pretty good idea of where it will end (and what the core theme is all about) and I write the book as it comes to me, pulling most of it from my own heart, soul, experiences of pain, etc. Our two-month old son died of SIDS. Losing a child, as a parent, there’s not a lot of emotional pain or baggage that tops that. I pull from there when I need an emotional scene or to attempt to make the reader care.

What’s next for R.S. Guthrie?

Book #4 of the James Pruett Mystery/Thriller series, as yet Untitled. This one is going to take off where the Epilogue of Honor Land “left off”, and that’s all I am going say except that it is going to be the most character and action-packed yet! I am so excited about it. I already have the first 20-30% written in my head. 

You’ve recently ventured into the audiobook market, tell us a little bit on how your experience has been with that.

So far, GREAT. I used to listen to audiobooks all the time on my commutes. At some point I got away from it, and in now listening to my own book being narrated back to me (and my wife, too) I am COMPLETELY sucked back into it—I swear, some of it is so goosebumps-raising and emotional that I keep thinking “I actually wrote that?” I know I shouldn’t probably admit that but DANG, audiobooks are a whole other experience.

The sales have been great for Blood Land (the only one as I write this that is live and available; but Money Land goes live any day now, and Honor Land, although it’s days from digital ereader release, is already being produced in the studio)!

Do you have a target date for the next Sheriff Pruett mystery?

Sounds crazy, but I am really shooting for February/March. As I mentioned, I already have 30% of it written in my head. And it is going to be so much fun (action, great characters—old and new) that I know it’s just going to fly off the fingertips. THOSE are the ones that are the best and most fun to write!  

If your keyboard could talk, what would it say to you? And, what would your response be?

SLOW DOWN! Stop for a rest once in awhile, would you???  Damn, my back hurts.

What book are you reading now or, do you want to read?

Cormac McCarthy’s Child of God. Wow that guy can WRITE. And he never uses dialogue quotations. But it doesn’t matter. When I read The Road and No Country for Old Men, I knew I’d found a GEM (not that he’s unknown; just right up my alley)! I also just finished Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.Pinedale_vs_WIHS Alexie (The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven) is a (now) middle-aged Native American, about my age, I think, who grew up on the reservation (not that there’s only ONE; that’s what Indians call any rez)—and I have a special pass to both speak about the rez and call/write about “Indians” and be un-PC because I grew up having a significant number of Indian friends, and played The Wyoming Indian High School in football and basketball (the CHIEFS won State in basketball every year I was in high school, I think—we were the only team, my junior year, who did not lose by double-digits to them; I think we lost by 8 or 9 points). I’ve attached a pic of me playing them in football to prove it—-an EXCLUSIVE for your blog; it’s never before been on the Internet, I don’t believe.

Anyway, Alexie is great. One of the best writers, and it’s mostly because he is self and rez-deprecating, while never letting you forget the ATROCITIES we committed against a people who were here FIRST.

The setting: Sheriff Pruett is sitting at the table in the Wooden Boot in downtown Wind River shooting the shit and talking strategy with Ty McIntyre, Malcolm Whitefeather, and Red Horse Baptiste.                            

The conflict: The annual “Paint Balls-to-the-Walls War” event is right around the corner and being hosted this year in Wind River. It brings together a team of four, consisting of the Sheriff and at least one deputy, with a team from each of the five neighboring Wyoming towns. Only rule, you get hit with a paint ball, you’re out. Other than that, no holds bar. 

Resolution: Who will be the last man standing and how did he get there? 

Pruett would be the last man legally (by the rules) standing, because he was a great soldier, and he’s the most seasoned, ruthless, and cunning all combined. TY would never stay down; he would not stop just because a paintball hit him. He’d scream “I’m a F*^&^% BULL-RIDER; ain’t goin’ to quit ’cause some pansy-ass from Chugwater hit me with a paint-filled piece a plastic.”

One of the previous questions was what was next for R.S. Guthrie. This one asks: What’s beyond for R.S. Guthrie?


I had to go with eleven questions since it’s one of my lucky numbers…how does one sign up for your newsletter and what are the benefits?

If you click on the following link, it will ask for only your email (which of course I would NEVER sell, give away, etc.) and it puts you on my newsletter (which ONLY goes out when there’s a new book, or a cool contest, or a giveaway—or all three!) AND it then takes you to a page where you can currently download a free copy of Book Two, Money Land, free, for Kindle, Nook, etc.

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Thanks goes to R.S. Guthrie for taking the time from his busy schedule to appear and answer the questions. Please follow any of the highlighted links below to purchase your copy of Honor Land available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords.

HONOR LAND: Amazon U.S.Amazon U.K.  – Barnes & NobleSmashwords

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Posted in Books, eReader, Interview, Mystery, R.S. Guthrie, Reading, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Snippets, Stop-its, and Snares, Oh My!

I haven’t blogged in a while and I’ve missed it. When I create a blog, I like to wait for that one subject to grab me and inspire me enough to create a whole piece centered around it. Lately, my mind has been on so many different areas of my life, it’s been hard to be focused on only one….so, to satisfy this particular writing need, I decided to take you down a few of the myriad routes my thoughts have, and are, travelling.

Where to begin. Well most people I suppose would start at the beginning; but, mine really starts near the ending. Of 2014, that is.

The snippets:

The beginning starts on a sad note. Sometime in the latter part of 2014 I said goodbye to my Pug companion of fifteen years. I don’t remember the date or the month. I don’t want to. All I do know is that a piece of my heart went with her that will never be replaced. Why do I start with that? Because her health had been declining and all my thoughts and concern had been devoted to her near the end. No writing got done on my blog or my book – which, even prior to that, my book was on a back burner for almost nine months due to another writing project. So, with all that behind me, it was with an unwelcome relief that I was able to pick my book back up to continue on.

I’m really excited where I am with the book and where it’s going. I have a deadline date I have set for myself to have it completed and on Amazon (a hint: within the next sixty days). There’s so much to do outside of writing it, though! Especially for a first-time author. I’m not overwhelmed…yet. It’s fresh and exhilarating and I love learning and experiencing new things (at least when it comes to writing and marketing). In the meantime, to inspire me even more, and, if I am honest, most of all….I now have a cover. This isn’t a cover reveal, in toto, but it’s close enough to share and give you a first glimpse.

in our own time preview A low-res (1)

One of the important aspects of coming out of the gate when you publish is getting the word out. If you think you would consider helping me promote “In Our Own Time” on your blog when I publish, please contact me either by commenting below or by email to let me know; and/or, if you would be interested in reading and reviewing the book, I would love to add you to my list. Please, the more, the better!

In the meantime, another important snippet to pass along is the latest information about a GREAT author and great friend, R.S. Guthrie. Blood Land FinalHe’s been the busy writer – having had created an audible book on his best seller, “Blood Land.” Those who have downloaded the kindle version of Blood Land, the cost for the audiobook is $1.99. For those who have never tried an audiobook I really encourage you to start with this one. I have read Blood Land more times than I can count but hearing it on audiobook was like reading it for the first time all over again. Through the narrator, Brad Langer’s voice, I was swept right into Sheriff Pruett’s town and life. I did mention Guthrie’s the busy writer – he’s getting ready to publish his third book in the series, Honor Land – which I’ll be featuring on a whole other blog when it “hits the stands” so keep watching for that. I’ve had the privilege of reading a portion of Honor Land and believe me, you’re going to want it so if you’re not on his mailing list – get on there now and you can be one of the first to know when it’s available.

Last snippet is that I am uber-excited to be going on a mini-vacation this year. My 21 year-old niece and I will be going to Las Vegas in a couple of months. It’ll be the first time for both of us to visit there, not to mention it’s been ages since I’ve been on an airplane and I love to fly, so I’m stoked. We’ll only be there for a few days and have a lot of sightseeing to cram in. We’re looking forward to seeing one of the Cirque du Soleil shows. She’s also looking forward to seeing “Bodies – The Exhibition”. And, NO, it’s not what you’re thinking. My niece is going to college and studying medicine. This is an exhibit where you can see the inner workings of muscles and organs. When she told me about it, my response was “Hmm, you go ahead, I think I’ll sit that one out”; but, then she said, “Look, you might be able to use it in one of your books.” Damn, she knows how to reel me in.

The stop-its:

Once I stopped putting everything ahead of my writing I learned that people can make do without me and I’m a happier person. I also stopped waiting until the last minute to wake up, leaving me with just enough time to get ready for my 9-5’er. Instead, the best part of my day now is getting up before dawn to open the curtains in my office and get on the computer to talk to friends, whilst watching for the sunrise, and, soon to follow, the birds and squirrels coming to the feeders.

The Snares:

I don’t have too many indulgences anymore. I’ve gotten away from watching a lot of tv – more Discovery and History channels, or, movies than anything else. Music is a passion and in the morning, can set the tone for my whole day. So, the snares? Well, I used to love playing games on the computer. There wasn’t a Tomb Raider game made that I didn’t play; then when I upgraded the computer and the games I had became outdated, I started playing the online games offered on Pogo. However, when writing took a more important role in my life, I canceled my membership. But, my guilty pleasure still remains in gaming. So, when my brain needs a break from a scene I’m writing? Well, if you ever played and enjoyed “Frogger,” you have to try the “Crossy Road” game app. It’s perfect for me since it’ll have me cussing within just a few minutes, my inability to keep my character alive. But those few minutes were exactly what I needed to get unfocused just enough to be able to come back to the scene I’m working on with a fresh eye.

2015, silhouette of a woman standing in the sunrise

My journey into being a published author is just beginning. I’m thrilled 2015 is finally here and everything it’s going to bring: One of my biggest dreams will become reality – and, I’m sure there’ll be a few surprises – I’m counting on it…I’ve learned that’s when you feel the most alive.

Let’s just hope through it all: my eyes will stay dry; my shoe laces stay tied; I’ll hit the bull’s eye; say more Hellos than Goodbyes; and, let’s not forget – fly the blue skies. Oh My!

Posted in Books, eReader, Marketing, Publishing, R.S. Guthrie, Reading, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Wham, Spam, Thank-You, Ma’am #Marketing

We all get them, even the ones that send them receive them from others. And it’s funny to watch how trends, like the tide, they ebb and flow. Most of us who have been around the social media/marketing world a while (ummm, say more than two years) saw a surge – quite a few of us even amongst those guilty at one time or another – until realizing maybe it wasn’t such a good idea since it had the opposite effect. It turned people off instead and didn’t amount to additional sales.

Okay, by now I’m sure you’re wondering what the it is I’m talking about. Get on with it, I hear you say in my head. Well, the  it or “wham,” for purposes of the blog post title I’m referring to, consists of a “Hi” in front of the comma followed by … “buy my book”. Perhaps not so blunt but that’s what it boils down to. I’m talking about those auto-messages delivered in your Twitter DM box; and/or, those timeline posts placed on your Facebook page by who was, only fifteen minutes ago, a stranger.

I’m not a blind Follow-back type of person. If I follow or friend you back, it’s because I’ve looked at your profile and something you said piqued my interest enough to want to follow your timeline, get to know you per se. If I’m intrigued enough, I might even check your author page on Amazon and Click to View and Sample one of your books.

But, (and you knew there was going to be one of those coming, right?) in the meantime, a DM has appeared in the Inbox and when opened, instead of seeing such pleasantries as a “Thanks for the follow, I look forward to sharing tweets with you,” it is more along the lines of: 

Thanks for the follow. Please–

  • Like my Facebook page
  • If you like reading (insert genre) then you’ll love my book
  • Read a sample of my book and let me know what you think
  • Support my kickstarter campaign
  • Retweet the following message…

All of these were culled from direct messages received on my twitter account. 


It’s disappointing, really. It feels similar to strolling through a mall, passing one of those kiosks, and, not wanting to be rude to the sales person staring a hole right through you, you flash them a courtesy smile of acknowledgment. Wham. You gave them an audience and they shout out, “would you like to try…”. EXCEPT, in a mall, well, you are there to buy stuff but on Twitter and Facebook, you go there to interact, learn, peruse, promote yourself and others.

I get it. Marketing is absolutely key in self-publishing. Even if you go traditional publishing, a large part will still fall on the shoulders of the author to self-promote.  There are no free rides on this branch of being a writer. As my good friend and best-selling author, R.S. Guthrie, has said on marketing: “Writing the book is the easy part.” Marketing and branding–that takes work.

There are plenty of tools, websites, and books around on marketing and branding all to educate and school you on what works and what doesn’t. I didn’t write this blog to set out any rules or go into promotional etiquette. I wrote this blog post only as a vehicle to say that if you are that person that uses auto tweets when someone follows or friends you, try to be a little genuine and be who you really are–A writer who has poured their heart and love into a collection of words you want to share with that reader who will treat it with respect and the enthusiasm it deserves. 

A few ways to find that readership base and make that happen is to join #Triberr, make friends by interacting, form a Street Team. Be sincere and offer to help your fellow author. We all share the same hopes and dreams when it comes to our books. Don’t be one-dimensional whose sole purpose is to promote only yourself. Reciprocity, and kindness, both go a looooong way in this business.

Indie writer

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Dear Diary…

Dearest Diary,

                We packed a picnic lunch and went out to Crystal Lake today. It was a perfect summer day. We watched the dragonflies dance on the rocks skirting the edge of the water while we sat beneath our favorite river birch and talked about our fall wedding plans. I can’t believe the date is getting so close. To think underneath that tree was the spot where we shared our first kiss eight years ago. Even at fifteen, through all the acne and those horrible metal braces, I knew he was my one. What I wasn’t prepared for was the beauty he would grow into. He hates it when I call him beautiful, but he is. Those shimmering blue eyes…when they look at me beneath that blonde hair, it just takes my breath away. We brought brie, chilled champagne and stopped by Haggerty’s Stand to get some fresh, juicy, peaches. As we ate, I became fixated on a small bead of peach juice that slid down his chin and then disappeared underneath the collar of his polo. I couldn’t help thinking of the muscles hidden under the tight white knit where that sweet juice would pool. He had to ask me twice for a napkin before I snapped out of my wicked thoughts. I was wonton, shameless. I took his hand and told him not to worry, I had a better idea for taking care of it, and I led him into the woods…

The foregoing could be an entry from my diary or, a rough draft of a scene out of my upcoming book. With a writer, it’s sometimes hard to differentiate where true life ends and the imagination begins when you hear them tell a story.

Diary1It used to be most teens, especially girls, kept a diary. It was the one place they could share their thoughts without ridicule or judgment, and when they were done, secure their secrets by a keyed lock. For their eyes only; hidden where no one, hopefully, would find it. Then later, as we got older, the diaries became journals.

Regardless of how many secrets were written down, though, there were always a few kept outside of a diary or journal. Too precious and heartfelt were they to entrust in the real world. So where then could they go?

For a writer, in our characters. They get to live out the diary of those thoughts, fantasies, and what-ifs within the pages we create.

What an author writes, it doesn’t matter what genre you’re speaking of, the heart of the lead characters are born from the heartbeat and soul of the writer. To mention just a few examples: James Lee Burke, both in his interviews and from a great friend who has personally met him, like his main character, he’s one of those good-to-the-core people; Harlan Coben, the same in interviews I’ve read of him – he possesses a great sense of humor and curiosity; Nora Roberts – a romantic in her prose and life. The writers I know personally, each of their lead characters’ core mirrors in most respects, their creators.

We infuse so much of ourselves into our characters, no wonder we fall in love with them. No matter what my characters feel that day, whether good or bad, it will bleed into me. They live out our dreams, defeat our fears, and ALWAYS get the last word in. One of the favorite sayings of a writer is: “Don’t do me wrong because I might put you in my next book and get even.” I wonder how many writers in developing the “bad guy” do follow through with that sentiment and develop a character where they receive closure from a true-life event. Writing a book, or even a blog, like writing in a diary, is cathartic to the writer’s soul.

I’m sure every artist, whether a painter, sculptor, designer, or even crafter; they share their heart through their creativity, whatever medium that may be. But for writers, we have the best outlet of all – our characters are our Dear Diary, our sounding board and vessel of our secrets.

Indie writer

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One Author Plus One Author Equals?

As so often happens when I want some “quiet” time, I open up the iTunes program and let the music begin. Doesn’t make sense to you, you say? Well, for me at least, when I listen to good music it becomes only me. My attention is not diverted to a screen or box, the focus is on the inner self, my quiet thoughts, and what the music and/or lyrics is making me feel. Happy or mellow, the music can even dictate my mood. Maybe on the flip side, it enhances what I am going through at the moment – though you’ll never find me listening to the mournful “lost love” type of music. Michael Bolton, sorry, but I figured out “How (Am I Supposed) to Live Without You”. Good grief, like watching a tear-jerker on purpose, who wants to wallow in that? Please, give me a song that’s upbeat and makes me want to savor a good cup of coffee, or get up and do the happy dance. But I am getting off-topic…and for all the Michael Bolton fans, I do apologize. 

rock band silhouetteMusic is what influenced this blog, however, and that’s why I bring it up first. I was scrolling through my playlist and saw so many GREAT bands or duos. Collaborations of artists making memorable, iconic songs that will never fade away. Aerosmith, U2, Bon Jovi, Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, Casting Crowns, Van Halen, Journey, ZZ Top. The list goes on. True, some of the members of these bands did strike out on their own to pursue solo endeavors but when they were together as a band, it was magic. More common nowadays, and across all genres, you see solo artists’ songs on the charts with a “feat. (insert name of an equally well-known artist),” making them really not solo at all. You think Usher is good? Let Pitbull “feature” with him on a song and that song just went up a notch. 

But does that only happen in music – where more than one equals better? 

I wonder why you don’t see more authors collaborating on a book. You may see a “Foreword” penned by another author but to co-write a book? Not very often. One popular author who is noted to truly enjoy co-authoring is James Patterson who has said that “collaborating with others brings new and interesting ideas to his stories.” How’s that for a win-win.


How many solo authors could benefit from joining with another, particularly when one author’s strength is in a different genre than the other. Think about it. The genres used to be simple: Romance, Mystery, Horror, Thriller, Suspense, Western – one genre, cut and dry. Not anymore. Genres, like music, have crossed over: Romance/Mystery, Horror/Thriller…in fact, I saw one the other day advertised as “Christian/Romance/Suspense.”

It’s not difficult to imagine that an author’s writing is not created equal. Me? My strength lies in the romantic arena. I couldn’t no more write a horror if my life depended on it…I take that back, I could write anything but outside of romance, it would probably suck. BUT I would definitely co-author in a horror genre and be proud of it, IF I were writing it with another author whose creative penchant for horror equaled mine for romance.

I know it’s not that easy – to partner with someone who you can collaborate with…peacefully and creatively. It takes trust, respect, the same work ethic and just as important: the same vision.

As you can guess, I’m in the middle of a work-in-progress with another author. The first time for both of us in co-writing a book. It wasn’t as hard as you would think for us to find that one-voice. We have all the ingredients in the partnership I mentioned above plus we are really great friends – completely simpatico in all areas and we’ve already talked about the next book we would like to write together.

coauthlogoDo you think you would benefit from partnering with another author? If you don’t have someone in mind, start now to put your feelers out, ask your author friend(s) – the one you respect; the one whose books you already love reading. That’s one of the things about authors…we all love reading the writing of those authors we most admire, or, who write similarly.

All authors, at least the ones who know how to market well, network. Like a child, and let’s face it: books are our babies, writing a book is only a fraction of what it takes to give it wings, it takes a village to sell a book. Heck, even before selling, an author has (or should have) utilized members of the community to even get it to the point of marketable, such as an editor, proofreader, beta reader(s), cover designer, etc. Imagine working with another author who has as much vested interest and love for the book as you.  

And, it’s not just for us. How about your readers? While you’re marketing your co-written book to your loyal readers, your co-author is enjoying the benefit of being introduced to more readers who may in the future become his/her loyal readers as well; and BAM…they are doing the same for you on their end. Reciprocity in this regard is definitely an added benefit.

Nothing is stopping you to continue to pursue a solo by-line but entertain adding another author to that by-line at some point. Believe me, when it works, it’s magic.

Never Enough Books

Posted in Co-Author, Marketing, Writing | 2 Comments

An Author Blog Chain

I have had the pleasure and honor of being tagged in an Author Blog Chain. You’ve probably seen a few going around. The only way to participate is firstly, be an author; and secondly, to have a blog. Okay, perhaps a little obvious there but above all, you must be invited by a fellow author who believes in your work, your blog and most importantly, YOU.

The one who thought enough of me to mention, tag, and keep the chain moving forward is the very talented, best-selling author, R.S. Guthrie. His blog RobOnWriting is one of the best around. Rob Guthrie Stock PhotoThe year has only started and he has already produced many insightful blogs covering everything from classic must-see movies, sports, marketing advice, and of course, indispensable writing advice. I can be totally honest that no matter what I’m doing (other than driving), when I see the notification that he has uploaded a blog, I will stop and read it. And …  I’m Never Disappointed. The post he was tagged in and answered the four questions I’m about to answer can be found on his blog under the same title “An Author Blog Chain.” 

His blog, though, isn’t the only place you should be reading his writing. R.S. Guthrie delivers the goods when it comes to telling a story. I have read and loved each one of his books. From his Mystery/Thriller series, pick up Blood Land and Money Land; from his Horror/Thriller Trilogy: Black Beast, LOST and Reckoning; and, to anyone reading this who writes, his non-fiction book on writing, INK: Eight Rules To A Better Book is THE book you want to keep handy and refer to before each and every book you publish. His latest release is a short story found within the pages of Eight The Hard Way, an Anthology of Short Stories from eight best-selling Mystery/Thriller writers. The short story, entitled “Veritas: Concubine,” is an introduction to the main character of what will be a litany of upcoming “Veritas” novellas. The chatter has already begun surrounding this exciting storyline.

Getting back to the blog chain – this chain is a little different from the others. Rather than the emphasis be on promoting and supporting other authors, which I think I can safely say is the one thing all of the authors tagged within this chain have in common, you instead blog about yourself for a change. The answers to the questions propounded are to provide you, the reader, a look into what is going on with me. I hope you enjoy reading the answers as much as I enjoyed writing them!

1.  What are you currently working on?

Right now I’m working alongside two other authors on a writing project. When time allows me to put that aside, I go back to my own novel in progress, a contemporary romance. Yes, it’s coming along slowly, but I believe in first impressions and since this will be my first published piece – when it is released, I want it to be a work I’m proud of and not something thrown out just to say “I’m published.” Unfortunately, I see a lot of authors do just that or skip important steps such as having it edited or proofread. I don’t want my first book remembered for what was wrong with it but what was right. 

2.  How does your work differ from others in the same genre?

Although I love reading historial romance and western romance, I’m writing a contemporary romance set in a major, central U.S., city. This romance and all the others I plan on writing, I believe, will be different in that each story could be true, not just exist in fantasy. Writing a story this way, for me, makes the characters more alive and their emotions more real. When they laugh, I laugh; when they applaud, I applaud; when they make love, my heart is racing right with them; and, when their heart breaks, so does mine. I write to make my readers not only read the story, but live the story with their own emotions.

3.  Why do you write what you write?

I have always had a vivid imagination. When I was younger, my daydreams wound around being a key player in an action scenario or a singer in a rock band. As I got older, they matured to seeking that one true love. The characters and the stories just come to me…usually random thoughts where some begin and end just as a “what-if” where others will stretch out to form a beginning, middle, and end. I’m one of those people, too, where I dream stories. One of the stories out of those dreams is set to become a Mystery/Thriller trilogy which I have already asked an author friend to co-write with me. But all of them, no matter how they come to me, manifest inside my heart and soul and telling them is a release and makes room for more. 

4.  How does your writing process work?

That’s a toughie. Unless there is some outside stress going on in my life, the muse is only a keystroke away. However, I am a horrible procrastinator. The upside to that trait? I’m great under pressure or a deadline. Right now, being the novice that I am, I will write a thousand or so words and then go back and hone it. One day, hopefully sooner than later, I hope to be able to write a good portion of a book before I go back to hone it, much like I do when I write a blog or short story. That’s my goal and one which I will attain some day. The two books I’m working on right now are just the beginning.

So that’s a little insight into me and where I’m at professionally. Now to the other fun part of the blog. I get to nominate and tag one, or two, or three of the authors I admire to let them answer these same questions and give you a peek into what’s coming up for them. One of the first authors I really think of when it comes to talent and marketing and all-around great personality is Charity Parkerson. Thankfully when I asked, she accepted and, since the other two didn’t get back to me in time, I get to toot her horn a little louder and give her my blog’s undivided attention.


Her official bio: Charity Parkerson is an award winning and multi-published author with Ellora’s Cave Publishing, Midnight Books, and Punk & Sissy Publications. Born with no filter from her brain to her mouth, she decided to take this odd quirk and insert it in her characters.

Charity Parkerson

*2013 Readers’ Favorite Award Winner
*2013 Reviewers’ Choice Award Winner
*ARRA Finalist for Favorite Paranormal Romance
*Five-time winner of The Mistress of the Darkpath
*Named one of the top 10 best books by an Indie author in 2011- Paranormal Reads Reviews
*Best Paranormal Romance of 2012- Paranormal Reads Reviews
*Quoted in the Sydney Morning Herald as an authority on Independent Publishing.

From my personal experience with her, I can tell you she is one of the most friendly, accessible authors on Twitter and Facebook. Her support of other authors is phenomenal. I first noticed her wit and informative tweets on Twitter several years ago and later listened to that same wit and delightful interviews of other authors in her weekly podcasts from The Melissa Craig and Charity Parkerson Show. Her blog, The Sinner Author, usually will feature either a review from a book or an author interview. How she keeps up with that all that and churns out her romance books, must be true discipline. She deserves the awards she has received. She is a GREAT storyteller. None are your typical romance, some are laced with paranormal, some are mysteries, and most, if not all, are interspersed with her tasteful and classy writing of the erotica. If you haven’t read any of her works before, go to Amazon now. Her books are available in ebook, paperback, and her most recent, also in audio audible edition. There are over twenty books to choose from and you can view and make selection(s) from her Author Page on Amazon.

To connect with Charity Parkerson online visit:

Twitter                                        Blog:

Charity Parkerson will be continuing the blog chain with her own post on or around March 3rd. Don’t forget to visit and see who will be next in line.

Posted in Books, Charity Parkerson, Interview, R.S. Guthrie, Reading, Writing | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Writing – It Soothes the Soul

This blog was inspired by a post I saw on Facebook the other morning. It was an article highlighting an artist in San Francisco, California, who creates art in sand on the beach at low tide. “A Man Takes A Single Rake To The Beach. And When You Zoom Out and See It…Mind Blown.” What spoke to me, though, wasn’t so much the article but what was said by the person who shared the post. My great friend, Rob Guthrie, commented: “To enjoy the CREATION of your art enough to not mind when the tide washes it away a few hours later—well, that’s true love.”  He–nailed–it.

I have always enjoyed reading for as long as I can remember. Little Men Women Like for everyone else, it started with cereal boxes and children’s books…but I suppose when those ran out and I began to thumb through our set of World Book Encyclopedias, my parents, who were the most frugal people I’ve ever known (and since the encyclopedias was that era’s version of the world-wide-web, harboring within the pages definitions and pictures no eight-year old should be exposed to) put together enough money to buy a set of Companion Library Books. Thirty books, each containing a fable or other time-honored children’s classic. I devoured them. From Huckleberry Finn, to The Arabian Nights; Robinson Crusoe to Little Women; Treasured Island to The Call of the Wild. I was in my own small piece of heaven when I opened those covers. If it was a real page-turner, after bedtime, I would crawl from under the covers and sit beside the nightlight to finish reading a page, or a chapter, or the book itself. I never did get caught, although by the time I was twelve, I needed glasses. 

A little older and my reading world expanded again when every other Saturday, my best friend and I would ride our bikes to the church in our neighborhood and wait in the parking lot for the new bookmobile to arrive. It wasn’t too long after that, a library was built close by and from there, I never looked back. Books became, and still are, a constant part of my life. 

I’m not sure exactly how old I was, but one day in my teenage years I picked up a spiral notebook, untouched with no school notes yet, and I began to write. Not a daily diary, but rather a journal of my thoughts. There was no order or schedule I adhered to – it was my go-to whenever I was troubled, or excited, or just contemplating; I’d pull it out from underneath my mattress and put in my own words, what I hoped I could look back at later and remember. Some entries were deep, some silly, some that didn’t make any sense at all except at the time I was jotting it down, other thoughts I purposefully added just so when I did get older I would be able to look back and have sympathy and an understanding of what a teenager went through, so convinced was I that after a certain age, adults forgot and remembered nothing of what it felt like to be a kid.

It didn’t take too long to realize that I loved to write. I escaped when that pen was in my hand, into a world all my own. No judgments, no criticism, no failures or disappointments.

Indie writerLater, instead of keeping a journal, I wrote letters. There have been letters of anger where I raged with my feelings of betrayal and bitterness that were never delivered to the guilty party; letters of what I hoped to be wisdom I’d accumulated and given to a loved relative at a significant milestone in their life; letters of disappointment, fear, and loss of hope written to myself. What I discovered, is that somehow through each letter written in anger I became stronger; each letter penned with advice, showed me I really did know more than I thought; and, through each letter that dealt with hopes and dreams, I found who I really was. Every major decision I have ever made, was usually preceded with a letter(s) of “Pros and Cons”. Without fail, when I was finished, looking at it in black and white, the decision I needed to make was there in front of me.

Writing…whether a letter, an email, a blog, or a book, is where my true self comes out. No doubt, it can be difficult at times to get thoughts to paper, especially if you’re working a scene that you know is missing something but then when it comes to you, it’s akin to finding that puzzle piece that fell under the table. You pick it up and it just slides right into that spot made for it and all is well with the world again.

Unfortunately, that journal I mentioned where I found my love for writing didn’t survive to make the journey with me into the present. When moving into our first home with my (then) husband, he found and read it while I was at work one day. And, to say he didn’t like some of the things he read is an understatement. I stood at the kitchen window and watched as the Bic lighter dipped inside the metal garbage can in our back yard that night and a soft orange glow began to emanate from within.

While I am not one to hold grudges, remembering that night I just want to call him up on the phone right now and tell him what a fishstick he was for doing that. But then again, perhaps I’ll write a letter instead…

Like that journal, there are and still will be, other words, letters, stories even, I write that I doubt anyone will ever see and the time may come when the tide takes them, too, away. I won’t mind. I created it and it made a difference in me and for however long it existed, it soothed my soul.

There Is No Such Thing As Too Many Books

There Is No Such Thing As Too Many Books

Posted in Books, Motivation, R.S. Guthrie, Reading, Uncategorized, Writing | Leave a comment