Tuesday, December 31, 2013

New Year's Eve: Writing Prompts

It's been awhile since I've posted a few of my favorite writing prompts. And because it's New Year's Eve tonight, I wanted to share a few with you that I find especially helpful for the new year.

1. Write down your goals for the year, and then, using one of the goals as a writing prompt, write a short story or first book chapter based on the idea as if you've already accomplished it.

2. What have you done in the past year that has been great when it's comes to writing? Have you taken a new writing class, attended a conference, written and published your first book? Make a list and then choose your favorite experience. Write a poem.

3. Having a big party tonight at your place? Going out? Either way, pay special attention to the people you're around, you may just come up with the mustard seed of a new character. I like to keep a small notebook in my purse for just such occasions. I rarely remember what I thought at the moment if I don't write the experience down.

4. Spending time with your kids? Write a book together. When I speak at elementary schools in a class setting, I often speak about characters, setting, plot, etc. to the children and then help them develop their own book (stapled together).

5. Sitting in front of the television or reading a good book? Sometimes, just being by yourself is the best answer to an otherwise raucous night. Have some fun by beginning your new book or short story for the new year. One of my favorite ideas is turning to a random page in any book and starting with that sentence in my new work.

Whatever you do this New Year's Eve, I want to wish you a happy one!

I'm hoping for great things in 2014!


Monday, December 30, 2013


Time for another interview!
Elliot's advice on coming up with characters is profound.  
Take a peek.

Tell me a about yourself. What got you started in writing?

In fifth grade our teacher had us start to keep journals where we could write about everyday life or make up short stories. As my life wasn't that interesting I would fill my journal entries with short stories. In sixth grade I wrote two books about me and my friends in the setting of spies. From there my stories only grew, becoming more original and finally just before high school I decided I wanted to write books as a career.

How and where do you write? Do you prefer a lap top or do you prefer writing freehand?

I spend most of my work time in my room writing on my lap top while listening to music. Sometimes silence helps but most times I like to have music playing because sometimes the silence can feel oppressing and overwhelming.

What's your favorite part about writing? Your least favorite part about writing?

My favorite part about writing is coming up with the stories and characters. Most times when I write the words just flow and I'm always surprised where the story and characters lead me. My least favorite part about writing is often starting the story as I don't always know how to do that, I know what I want to happen but often times I have trouble getting from point A to point B. Sometimes I even have trouble starting a sentence at the beginning of a chapter as I know what I want to happen in a chapter, but again, not sure how to get there.

How do you come up with your characters? Why would readers want to get to know them?

A lot of times for characters I start out with a trait that I find interesting then grow the character from there. I like to write about characters that I like to read about or that have (unique) traits that make the story interesting by seeing how they would react in certain situations. I'd like to think my characters are relatable and that readers could see themselves reacting in similar ways to the character in the situations they find themselves. Sometimes characters can be unrealistic in the way they act and I try to make my characters as human as possible, with just a bit of artistic license as sometimes we as people have too many flaws and aren't always able to overcome them.

What types of marketing do you do to promote your writing?

I've tried several things to market my books ranging from blogs, to signing up to member sites for writers, to having a teacher at a local school read my books to students. As a writer you just have to keep trying and not give up. Take a lesson from your own characters and keep battling that dragon, or solving those murders, whatever your genre.

How do you schedule your writing time? When do you write?

I try to work everyday for at least five or more hours in the morning. In college I would write at night, basically whenever I could and when I felt motivated by the story. That didn't always help me get a lot of work done. Sometimes you just have to force yourself to write, even if it's just a sentence, or a paragraph. Sometimes having multiple projects going can be good as you can work on one of those when your main project just isn't inspiring you.

What are you currently working on? Do you have a new book out?

Right now I am working on the next book in the Undercover Angels series which focuses on the Holy Spirit and learning what he is and how he affects our lives as Christians. My newest book is the second installment in the Undercover Angels: Elemental Blades, a three part addition to the entire series. I hope to have the third book out soon.

Do you have a project on the back burner? Tell me about it.

I have several projects on the back burner that I'm hoping to get to once I'm done with all my planned books for Undercover Angels. After the fantasy of those books my next project is going to be a little more normal focusing on a group of teens and their struggles with life in high school. Though they might be facing a little more turmoil all at once than most teens I hope to help those in similar situations to know how to deal with things like drugs, peer pressure, and changes in your circle of friends. But I won't be able to work on that project for awhile.

What would you tell a beginning writer who wants to publish but doesn't believe he/she has enough talent?

Just keep writing and reading. There is always going to be someone out there who you think has more talent than you, and maybe they do, but that shouldn't stop you. As long as you are passionate about your work and your stories are important to you, keep going. As long as you are striving to be your best and working to grow your skill the only thing hindering you is you. Don't get in your way.
Force Three: Season One
Force Three: Season Two

(From her website) Elliot is a novelist for Christian Youth. Elliot loves books and has always enjoyed writing. She feels a daily walk with God is important and wants to weave Bible studies into her books to encourage youth to read their Bibles and study God's Word daily.

Elliot is a college graduate with a digital imaging degree. 

When she's not writing her novels, she writes and creates art for her online comic-strip, "Subject to Change: College Woes," featuring spin-offs of her long-time friends who went off to college (without her!). She also designs art for t-shirts and other products, featuring the crazy antics of the Subject to Change gang.
Thanks, Elliot!
Learn more about Elliot here:
Email: elliotdylan@elliotdylan.com

Friday, December 27, 2013

What Do You Hope For?

When it comes to being a writer, we have hopes and dreams just like the next guy. And like the next guy, we may feel that our dreams are just that: dreams we hope for and wonder if they will ever come true.

Years ago I hoped I'd become a published writer, and my first article in a magazine was published. That was in 1987. More magazine and newspaper articles followed.

Later, I thought, why not a book? My first book was published in 2002.

Photo by: nicole.pierce.photography ♥ 
After that I wondered about attending college, so, putting my writing on hold (so to speak) I traveled almost daily to the University of Utah to finish my degree in Mass Communication. I graduated in 2009, and with that degree hoped to make a living in journalism.

But a (not so funny) thing happened that year. Newspapers were laying off staff members and no longer hiring stringers.

I hoped I could get another job. Perhaps at a magazine. Though I had a nice stint at Salt Lake Magazine as an intern, no job offer was issued.

And so the story went, me searching for something in the writing field and not finding.

A year later, I was discouraged and a bit older. I had traveled the lane of college in my 40s fully expecting a career. Sure, I had the degree now, and years of writing experience that I'd accumulated before that, but suddenly none of it mattered.

The career I'd hoped for never came. When my husband suggested I create what I wanted, I was aghast. And truthfully? I didn't believe creating a career in publishing (my long held dream) was really an option. It was a pipe dream really.

But here I am, and I'm glad I took my husband's advice. Idea Creations Press is a small company; I haven't hired anyone yet (other than my husband who works on the technical end) but I have hope that one day I will need editors, cover designers and more. I will no longer be able to work from my home. There simply won't be enough space.

But that's for the future.

What do you hope for?

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Cleaning Up? What it Takes

I suppose you are cleaning up Christmas, without taking down the tree, I hope.

I always wait until after New Years to do that feat; a task I don't look forward to.

Photo by: steve p2008, courtesy of Flickr
Cleaning up is never fun, especially when the glow of my tree is replaced by a vacant spot.

When it comes to writing and editing, cleaning up is a bit like that. Your story is all aglow--perfect if you will, and then comes the editing day. The good news is that if you let your work sit a bit after it's written, sort of like a beautiful tree standing in a corner for at least a month, you'll be better able to see the defects.

Yes, you will have them.

And no, you will not like to see them.

But cleaning up is as important as the glow of your manuscript. Perhaps even more so, when you consider what a little polishing will do.

So, don't be afraid to take down your tree when the time comes. It will be up again next year. And don't be afraid to read through your manuscript a few more times. In your mind's eye, the glow will still be there.

I promise.

Monday, December 23, 2013

MERRY CHRISTMAS Book Readers and Writers!

This is my last opportunity to send you a Merry Christmas before the big day, and I wanted to let you know how much I appreciate you.

Whether I know you personally or not, I am grateful for the time you take out of your busy schedule to read my blog. It means a lot!

One of the reasons I started a blog was not only to share my successes and failures (because, as writers we have both) but to share with you what I have learned and continue to learn.

It isn't easy being a writer. Sometimes we have to say 'no' when we'd rather go out to dinner over finishing our final draft. It would be far easier to 'put off' writing, because we don't have a boss leaning over our shoulder to get the work done. It would be great if we could get all the ideas we need for our next project in one fail swoop, but usually the ideas come in pieces.

In short, it would be nice if we had a nine to five job (and maybe we do AND we still write), but we keep writing.


Because we love it, that's why!

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Five and Dime Boutique: Artist!

You may know that my books are at the Five and Dime Boutique in Murray this month. What you may not know is the wonderful vendors that surround me.

One of them is a man by the name of Nick Morlock.

Have a little fun learning about how Nick got started:

Nick was born into and raised by a pack of wild balding monkeys. These parents instilled a passion to become a ninja at an early age. Time went on, battles were had, and the warrior life was lived, but as much as he loved the life in the shadows, it wasn't particularly lucrative. Turns out there isn't much of a need for ninjas. Luckily, Nick had a second hidden passion in life and one that would be a much more useful tool in his life, art. Now, done with school and living happily with his awesome wife, he has turned that passion for art into one source of income selling commissions and hopes to eventually make it his main source of income.


Come and take a gander at Nick's work at the Five and Dime this week, or check out his work further at:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/nick.morlock.10
instagram: @4funsies
twitter: @NixMix85
deviantart: http://bluephoenixx.deviantart.com
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/Nixmix24

Wednesday, December 18, 2013


My newest author interview is with fiction writer, D.R. Shoultz.
Tell me a about yourself.  What got you started in writing?

I grew up in a small town in central Illinois.  I was a decent student, a better athlete, and an average son. I was the first in my family to go to college, but had no real aspirations at the time. It was just something I needed to do.  I graduated in 1976 with a BS in education and an MS in mathematics and was hired by an international I/T firm to sell computer systems.
After a rewarding 31-year sales management career and a wonderful 33 years with my wife, I found myself retired and widowed at age 55.  The silence was painful. To fill my time, I volunteered, traveled, and even tried going back to work for a while, but I had always wanted to write, so I gave it a try.  My interest in fiction composition doesn’t stem from my formal education, but rather is inspired by my life experiences, creative desire, and over-active imagination.   

I was fortunate to meet Claudia, a former journalist and editor, about the time I began writing.  She shared her editorial skills to help shape and tune my novels.  It was a relationship that worked well -- so well, we married in the spring of 2012.  But even with Claudia’s assistance, I ended up throwing away my first attempt at a novel.  I’ve since authored and self-published three books: CORRUPT CONNECTION, BETTER LATE THAN EVER, and my latest, MELTING SAND – A Miles Stevens Novel.   I’ve found it takes me about a year to write, edit, and publish each book.  It’s a pace that I enjoy and that I plan to continue. 

How and where do you write? Do you prefer a lap top or do you prefer writing freehand?

I’m fortunate to be able write whenever and wherever I please, but I tend to write in the early morning and late at night.  It’s not unusual for me to get an idea as I’m about to fall asleep and get up to capture in on the computer.  The next thing I know the sun is rising.  I’ve been around computers my whole life and am rarely without a laptop or a tablet nearby.

What's your favorite part about writing? Your least favorite part about writing?

I love the creative part of writing.  My stories tend to evolve rather than having a formal structure before I begin.  I like being able to turn and tweak the stories and the characters as I write.   I don’t like the editing, but I have learned it’s better to over-edit than to under-edit.

How do you come up with your characters? Why would readers want to get to know them?

My characters are parts of me and people I’ve met.  I try not to parallel anyone’s personality or life so closely it becomes obvious to anyone that would know them.  My three novels all have three common elements: a leading male character who is virile yet vulnerable, a strong-minded female character that becomes the partner and/or love interest of the leading man, and a cloak of danger that surrounds them both.  I hope the readers want to get to know Miles Stevens, a time traveling CIA agent from my current novel, because he will continue with the series.

What types of marketing do you do to promote your writing?

I do all the typical marketing activities, but not sure I do any of them well.  I have submitted and published press releases in local papers, participated in book signings, created a blog, and I’m active on Facebook, Twitter, and goodreads.

How do you schedule your writing time? When do you write?

As I stated earlier, I write mainly in the morning and late at night, but also whenever the mood strikes me.  My writing competes mainly with my travel schedule.  My wife and I share four children, five grandchildren and our parents – all spread coast to coast.   We also like to get away on our own occasionally, but even when I travel, my laptop comes along.

What are you currently working on? Do you have a new book out?

MELTING SAND – A Miles Steven Novel was published October 2013.  It’s a CIA time travel, action/adventure novel, and it’s the first in a series featuring Miles Stevens, CIA agent, who’s sent back in time from the year 2050 to alter tragic worldwide events.  In MELTING SAND, Miles connects with Terri King, and they attempt to avert a chain of events leading to a Middle East nuclear war that’s set to erupt in 2027. 

Do you have a project on the back burner? Tell me about it.

I have begun the next novel in the Miles Stevens series, and plan to have it completed by this time next year.  Miles will be taking on a planned cyber-attack capable of crippling the U.S. financial systems and infrastructure and spreading death and chaos to American cities. 

I’ve also been focusing time writing short stories, as well as posting author interviews and book reviews to my blog, “A Place for Readers and Writers.”  I plan to eventually publish a collection of my short stories.  Until then, I post one story each month for free reading on my blog,   http://DRShoultz.blogspot.com   

What would you tell a beginning writer who wants to publish but doesn't believe he/she has enough talent?

I’ve found the most import part of writing is enjoying it.  If you have the desire, you will eventually develop the ability.  The more you read and write, better your writing will become.  Most writers list financial success as third or fourth on their lists of reasons on why they write.  The same is true of me. My top reason is I enjoy doing it.
You can learn more about D.R. Shoultz and his writing at the following sites:


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Goals For the New Year

What do you want to accomplish in the next year?

Setting some writing goals yet?

Probably not.

But I can assure you the time is nearing to write a few down.

Photo by: BazaarBizaarSF, courtesy of Flickr

Do you want to publish your first book?

Get that fifth draft ready to send to the publisher?

Take a trip to Fiji, where you can write to your heart's content?

You've probably heard the saying, "A dream unwritten is just a wish," so I'm going to put it out today that you write down at least one writing goal and that you place that goal somewhere where you can see it.

Got it?



I will be publishing two books next year. The first is the updated version of Marketing Your Book on a Budget, coming out in January of 2014. The second, book two of the Susan Cramer mystery series: Sunny-Side Up by the summer. I may even get the third parable ready; The Gift: A Parable of the Ring by November.

And now that I've told you, and my dreams are written down, you can bug me to high heaven if I don't follow through.

So what do you resolve to do?

Monday, December 16, 2013


Our next author interview!

Find out the special place that Allen likes to write and why meditation is so important to him.

Tell me a about yourself. What got you started in writing?

I have been writing for many years, since my early High School years. I started out writing church newsletters. That developed into writing articles for denominational magazines. In 1996, I started publishing a small Southern Gospel Music magazine. I, of course, wrote many of the articles for it. That magazine grew into a national publication. I am no longer with it, although they still list me as the founder. A few months ago, I purchased a Kindle Touch. Right away, a realized that was the medium I had always been looking for. From my years of ministry, I have a lot of material and notes on file. I felt it was time to start sharing what God had placed on my heart, with others.

How and where do you write? Do you prefer a lap top or do you prefer writing freehand?

I write in my living room, sitting in my favorite easy chair. I have a computer lap table, that I use to support my laptop while I work. I like to put SBN Television network on while I work. They play a lot of great Gospel music, and I like to listen to it while I work.

What's your favorite part about writing? Your least favorite part about writing?

I like to sit and meditate on the Word of God when I write. That is where I get all of my inspiration. My least favorite part is typing. I used to be able to type about 80 words a minute. I now have a severe case of neuropathy. Because of that, I can no longer feel the keys on the keyboard. So I now type with just a few fingers as I watch the keys.

What types of marketing do you do to promote your writing?

I am pretty new at this, and I am still learning, as well as gradually putting it all together. So far, I have my own website. I have an author page for my books. I have a blog for my books. I have a Twitter account. I have joined Goodreads, and I am listed as an author with them. I have joined many author blogs. I have just started reaching out for interviews. I use everything Amazon offers, including their Author Page and KDP. I am constantly studying, to find more things to do, so that I can slowly implement them. I also have a Pinterest account. I have located many websites and blogs that will promote my books for free. I do not yet have the funds to pay for marketing.

How do you schedule your writing time? When do you write?

I write virtually every day. It is usually done late at night and early in the morning.

What are you currently working on? Do you have a new book out?
Purchase The Sacrifice

I just finished writing a book titled “The Sacrifice – The Only Way To God”. It is about God’s plan of Salvation starting in Genesis and going all the way through the Bible. My next project is to take my second book, “One Day At A Time”, and reformat it for CreateSpace, and publish it in paperback. It is a daily devotional for each day of the year. My wife is also translating it into Portuguese, so it can be published in Brazil. My wife Susan was raised in Brazil as a missionary's daughter, and also did missionary work herself...

Do you have a project on the back burner? Tell me about it.

My next writing project, which does not have a title yet, will be about the 12 Apostles. It will cover where they ministered, as well as how they died. I have already started researching this subject.

What would you tell a beginning writer who wants to publish but doesn't believe he/she has enough talent?

Research, study, and try it. You don’t know what you can do until you try.
Thank you Allen! Learn more about Allen here:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/allensmithbooks
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Allen-Smith/e/B00DE2FLU0

Friday, December 13, 2013

Favorite Gifts for Authors

Since I am an author, and I've received plenty of gifts through the years because others know what I like to receive as an author, allow me to share with you some of my favorites...

1. Journal. A journal can never be over-rated for an author. I write many things down in my journal; many of them I use in future works. And what a nice way to be remembered, both for giving the journal as a gift, and for the use of a character that the writer dreamed up in the very journal you purchased. If you want to be especially daring, add to the journal a fancy pen. 

Photo by: basykes, courtesy of Flickr

2. Writing Book. I have received many through the years. Some of them: "The Power of Little Words," "Writing With Style," and "Writing Screenplays That Sell." The great thing about a great writing book: Even if the take away value is only one new idea, it's more than the writer knew before picking up and reading the book.

3. Fiction Book. Even non-fiction writers like a change, so change it up! I primarily write fiction but I also love the non-fiction work of C.S. Lewis. Those who know me but are unsure of what books I have will ask me, and the rest, shall we say, is history.

4. Music to write by. Who are your favorites? When the muse hits, I typically write by Josh Groban, but you will have your own favorite. Get a writer friend their favorite artist, or get them something that really sparks their creative. One of my favorites: "Ocean Waves" by Lifescapes.

Photo by: @Doug88888, courtesy of Flickr

5. Time out. This one hasn't actually happened to me personally but I can dream about it, can't I? How about a coupon that states: "I will watch your children between 1 and 5 every day for a week, to give you some uninterrupted time to write." What a gift! I have grand-children now, but two of them live with me...so you can understand my continued feelings about uninterrupted time.

When it comes to giving a favorite gift to a writer, consider the long hours of work, the research that will be taking place, and times when even making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch is replaced by the next great scene.

I know. Yes, I've even forgotten to eat.

Now, there's an idea...

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

What Do You Want? Giving That Same Thing to Your Readers

"The most basic of all marketing principles is to give the customer what we would want" (Elder Lynn G. Robbins).

Do you believe that?

I do.

And it strikes me that for many (including myself at times), our first priority is selling books to make lots of money, when what selling our books is really about is giving our readers what we would want.

And what is that?

The candle flame © Adrian van Leen


For me, it's a great book at a fair price.

The book must have a positive take-away value. The contents have to be exceptional.

The reviews need to be honest.
The book needs to be easily available. I don't want it to be too hard to order.

What about you?

What do you want?

When you know the answers, make sure you deliver up the 'goods' to your own readers.

You've probably heard of the Golden Rule. "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." Do you do more than merely 'hear' it. Do you 'live it'?

Living life (unlike "making a living") isn't a sales tactic. It's sharing what we'd like to receive.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013


There's nothing like getting a book for Christmas.

I know, because I've received many through the years.

Especially cherished are those written in by the giver. A sweet note, a word or two of encouragement,
a feeling of love.
Reading Book
Photo by: stock.xchng
Of less concern to me is getting an autographed copy. These are nice, of course, and I'll be the first one to tell you that I love to autograph my books for future readers, but the most important words come from the purchaser of the book: to me.

So, for you writers who haven't yet published, don't despair, the words you include in the books you gift, will be as priceless to your friends and loved ones as that first book that you autograph that's your very own.

I promise.

Monday, December 9, 2013


Find out when Marie gets her best ideas, and what a beginning writer should never forget to improve his/her writing...

Tell me about yourself. What got you started in writing?

I’m not really sure what prompted me.  I guess I always had a vivid imagination.  When I played as a child, I would make up these stories in my head.  Eventually, I started writing them down.  The ideas never stopped coming, and I never stopped writing!

How and where do you write? Do you prefer a lap top or do you prefer writing freehand?

I do both.  It just depends on my mood.  Most of the time, I do write by hand and type it up later.  But sometimes, if I know I need to work on a project, I will look through the document and start composing on the computer.

What's your favorite part about writing? Your least favorite part about writing?

I love when I’m in the moment and the words just flow naturally.  I can see the scene and the characters clearly.  My least favorite is probably research.  Though I learn a lot of things and it can be very interesting, it is a definite challenge to find what I need to find.  So I have a love/hate relationship with research.

How do you come up with your characters? Why would readers want to get to know them?

I guess they just come to me out of the blue.  Usually, I get a scene or a piece of dialogue in my head and go from there.  I fill out all the details of the character as I go along (likes/dislikes, background).  I think a lot of my characters have a lot of hard life experiences behind them and that’s what makes them stronger.  I only hope that appeals to readers. 

What types of marketing do you do to promote your writing?

I mainly do social networking.  I promote on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Google+.  I can’t really afford to do more than that just now.  I also try to list my books in as many places as possible (i.e. Goodreads, Shelfari, LibraryThing, etc.).  I have done a couple of book cover ads here and there.

How do you schedule your writing time? When do you write?

I don’t exactly schedule it.  I write when I can in between my side job and real life.  I try to write as often as possible.  When I know I need to work on something, I focus more on that project.  A lot of my ideas come to me at night, just before I go to sleep, which can make me really tired!

What are you currently working on? Do you have a new book out?

My current release is Leather and Lace, a romantic suspense.  It just came out in November.  Before that, I released Upon Your Return, a historical romance.  It came out in February.  It is set in Victorian France.  I am currently polishing the sequel to Upon Your Return.  I am also working on a romantic suspense with another writer, and I am planning on re-releasing all of my self-published books under the same name.

Do you have a project on the back burner? Tell me about it.

I have so many of them!  Specifically, I do have a time travel romance in mind.  It starts out in modern day New York City and when the heroine comes across a “special” necklace, she is transported to France in the Middle Ages.  Needless to say, she gets the surprise of her life.

What would you tell a beginning writer who wants to publish but doesn't believe he/she has enough talent?

Read, read, read.  And then write just as much.  Take some classes just to get your feet under you.  There are plenty of free ones online or at least very affordable ones.  Do anything you can to improve your writing.  You will gain the confidence as you go along.  Oh…and never give up.  The quickest way to kill your confidence in your writing is to give up your dream.
Thanks Marie!

Learn more about Marie: