An Author’s Marketing Toolbox

I won’t lie. It’s 12:03 PM, and I’m still in my pajamas. No, I’m not sick. I’m not curled up binge-watching Hallmark movies either. In fact, I’ve been awake since 2:30 AM, when I headed to my office to address a task as pleasurable as a root canal my marketing.

I’ve been following the extremely valuable seminar offered by Skye Warren in RWA’s marketing community. (Thank you, Skye!) It was clear by Day 2 that I don’t know what the hell I’m doing when it comes to marketing my books. And yes, readers, authors have to market their books. Like 98% of all authors out there, I thought my books would do my marketing for me. And they might . . . if readers left reviews. Only about 1 in 100 do that nowadays. People are busy. I get it. And I’d be a hypocrite to say anything negative, because guess what? I haven’t reviewed the last ten books I read. So, yeah, my book babies aren’t going to do this for me. I’ll have to do it myself.

Some authors have a budget for these things. Most don’t. Guess which category I fall into? That’s right, I can’t hire anyone to build my website, create graphics, and load ads to Facebook, Bookbub, Goodreads, and Amazon. I’m going to have to do those things myself—on top of writing—which means it’s time to fill the big, empty toolbox atop my  neck with a few new tools.

Thus, the 2:30 AM.

So far today, I managed to create some images using GIMP, which I know a lot of you will jar me about, but it’s FREE. Also, please bear in mind that the last website I built required HTML and featured images I created in Paint. Not PaintShopPro. Plain old Paint. There’s a learning curve for folks like me who allowed technology to zoom past like an armed bandit. *Side note: I remember laughing at my parents when they couldn’t figure out the remote control on our new VCR. Well, Jim-Bob, I’m not laughing now!)*

In addition to creating a few graphics, I uploaded ads to Facebook and Bookbub, sent the ARC for The Scent of Forever to a prospective reviewer, and checked out Goodreads’ prices. I’m focusing on Scattered Seeds right now, a book long overdue for some attention. Here’s the working graphic so far. Yes, I know, it needs to be trimmed, but I kind of like it.

Scattered SeedsI don’t have the heart to tackle website maintenance just yet. This was really supposed to be a writing day, one of only two I get each week, so I need to focus on that for the rest of the afternoon.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I left a character peeking through her curtains at a drone hovering in her yard. AND I’m going to put on some deodorant. At 12:42.

“Justice” and the Golden Globes

You could probably diagnose me with several mental disorders, but Celebrity Worship Syndrome is not one of them. Don’t get me wrong. I admire actors, whose climb from obscurity to the big screen must be similar to my quest for literary greatness. In spite of that, I’ve never been one to tune in to awards shows. I just don’t care who attends, what they wear, or how well they carry themselves across the red carpet.

That will change this Sunday, January 6, 2019, when I peg my eyeballs to the TV during the Golden Globes ceremony. As cameras pan the crowd, I’ll be spying like the CIA, trying to find celebrities who juuuust might be bored enough to leaf through the book they find in their gift baskets. You see, Running Wild Press‘s dynamic executive editor, Lisa Kastner, managed to score a deal that put its Anthology of Stories, Volume 2 in gift baskets for nominees and presenters.

Now look, I don’t expect to receive a phone call from any producers asking to adapt the story into a screenplay. And although I didn’t think about the notoriety of future readers while writing the story, it is sort of cool that it might fall into famous hands.

So, Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper, I’ll apologize in advance for my unnerving contribution, “Justice.” On its face, it’s a story about an abused boy lost amid the cutthroat world of purebred dog shows. But really, it’s about not taking responsibility for the worlds we create. Here’s the opening, if you regular Joes would like to read along with your favorite nominee:

Johnny Sinclair says God don’t answer no prayers. I’m gonna say one anyway.

Please, God, don’t let Mama hear my belly. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

I cross my arms and lean forward in the passenger seat of our 1987 Coachman Classic motorhome. My stomach rumbles, but Mama don’t notice, and that’s a miracle. I can’t wait to tell Johnny how God just saved me from a bloody mouth. Johnny will say Mama never notices me anyhow, but that’s a daggum lie. When I do something wrong, she notices me plenty.

Mama looks tired, but her fingernails are painted and her brown hair’s still done up. That earlier smear of Red Rhapsody lipstick is pinkish now, but she looks nice, Mama does. As nice as somebody can in secondhand clothes and shoes from the clearance rack at McKenzie Mason’s consignment shop.

There’s only one thing in our rig prettier than Mama, and that’s Vice, the Belgian Malinois crated in the back.

Vice—or, as Mama makes me call him, Champion Maple Grove Miami Vice—ain’t hungry. He ain’t sunburned or bit up by mosquitoes, and he didn’t sleep three straight nights in a passenger seat, neither. No, he’s lying on a tufted polyfiber cushion covered in ultra-soft polyester fleece. He smells like baby powder, and his belly is chock full of my dang hot dogs.


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Infertility in Fiction

Photo by Kyle Broad on Unsplash

Infertility. It’s rarely discussed, and it doesn’t play a significant role in many mainstream novels. So why did I include an infertile character in THE SCENT OF FOREVER? Because maybe, by letting readers see the world through an infertile character’s eyes, we can raise awareness. Here’s a bit of my protagonist’s inner monologue:

Regret pulled her into crushing despair as she remembered the sermon Reverend Bachman delivered last Mother’s Day. She bit back tears that day, as she did each year, sitting in the pew with a potted flower in her hand. They gave her one every year, a pity pansy for the barren woman, a participation ribbon for the fat kid who sucked at sports.

Sound familiar, anyone? How about this:

“And what about you?” Alasdair asked. “Are you married? Do you have children?”

She shook her head. The question never failed to hurt her. At her age, she should have a few kids. People expected it. So did she.

“I was married. He left me for a younger woman.” One with working girly parts.

“Oh, I’m sorry. But you’re young yet. There’s plenty of time for a family.”

There wasn’t, actually. He was being kind. The fat lady was gargling and getting ready to go on stage. If only she took the advice of her fertile friends—and sometimes complete strangers—who suggested she do everything from relax, stop drinking coffee, go on vacation, adopt, take a colorful mixture of Chinese herbs, and her personal favorite: make sure she had sex the right way.

I have never seen two pink lines, a condition for which I have not been given an official diagnosis. “Unexplained infertility,” they call it. Throughout my twenties, I perfected the smile needed for a seemingly endless chain of baby showers. In my thirties, I endured pregnancy “war” stories, elbow jabs, and probing questions about when I was going to have a baby. It was in this decade of my life that I mustered up the courage to share my difficulty with others. My reward for that was an avalanche of advice; well-meaning, certainly, but often unsolicited and embarrassing. You need to relaxYou’re doing it wrongYou should adopt. Women always get pregnant after they adopt.

In my forties, battle-scarred and weary, I yielded to acceptance, which led to a measure of peace.

I thought the war was over.

Now, in my fifties and still experiencing the picture-perfect cycles that mock me, the cruelty of infertility is raising its ugly head again. This time, it’s grandchildren. Not mine, of course, but those of my friends. Though I delight in their joy, seeing their fulfillment shines a spotlight on an old emptiness, a sting I thought long forgotten.

I’m happy to say that my character finds the peace that still eludes me. It’s romance, after all. We love our happy endings, and I gave you that in THE SCENT OF FOREVER, available for download here. If you would like to read the first chapter free, click here.



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A Writing Cabin – Every Author’s Dream

It’s every writer’s dream: a writing cabin, maybe set in the woods or tucked into the trees along the shoreline of a private lake. I’m one of the lucky few to own such a thing, though it’s really rough right now. Actually, it’s been really rough for about fifteen years. It started out as a tiny sawmill with a roof like drunken L. I removed the roof, added a second floor with a high ceiling, an Ondura roof (would not recommend), and Pella windows and sliding doors. We finished off the outside first floor with sandstone facing. Everything was going according to plan. Then . . . immigration. Life came to a screeching halt as my husband’s immigration process devoured our souls and our small budget. My writing cabin sat empty while we fought for our marriage.

My  husband was finally able to join me in 2012, but we’ve been struggling to recover emotionally and financially ever since.  The search for a home took precedence and ended with the purchase of a 1926 Colonial Craftsman in dire need of restoration. My writing cabin was all but forgotten, considered only when tax bills arrived in the mail.

Writing Cabin

I found this adorable outhouse on the internet. No idea who to credit for the photo, but isn’t it adorable?

This year, we decided to turn our attention back to my little haven. We’re installing a wood stove and a stainless steel chimney. An outhouse comes next, with a perfectly legal composting toilet.

There’s no electricity and no running water, but guess what? There’s no internet or cell coverage either, which means NO DISTRACTIONS. The place doesn’t even register on my GPS. How cool is that? I can be “off the grid” just thirty minutes from my home.

Don’t be put off by the lack of amenities. This place is going to be fabulous when we’re finished. I don’t do anything half-assed, people. I’ve been studying “dry cabins.” It’s a thing now, you know, these dry cabins. It doesn’t mean sacrificing basic hygiene. We plan to gather rainwater in a cistern and heat it with a propane shower pump similar to This One

Here’s the rear of my writing cabin from a distance:

My Writing CabinAnd here’s the view from my front deck:

My Writing Cabin

The inside is taking shape as well, with a kitchen unit in place and waiting to be finished off.

My Writing Cabin

A loft will go above this, where we plan to have a queen-size platform bed and plenty of storage. The metal ladder will be replaced by a wooden one, perhaps one made with the hemlock tree we just felled. All in all, we will be able to sleep four or five comfortably.

I’m excited about finishing this off, and even more excited about the possibility of offering it to fellow authors in the future as a retreat destination. After all, don’t we all need a quiet place to clear our heads? Stay tuned!

Writing Cabin


They Don’t Call Cindy Cavett “Seaside Cindy” for Nothin’

Beaches, Buried Treasure, and pirates? Sure, why not? Cindy Cavett covers it all in Rehoboth Beach Break, her short story in Running Wild Press’s Anthology of Stories, Volume 2. Here’s the first paragraph:

I adore the seaside town of Rehoboth.  In between interviews, video production, and research during the week, I picture myself tanning on the sand reading the latest novel from one of the local authors.  So when I was caught in a daydream working the news desk at WBOC Friday night, the last thing I expected was to be sent to the Rehoboth Beach boardwalk on a story lead.

What inspired you to write Rehoboth Beach Break?

My interests run the gamut from cyber security and technology to the Delaware/Maryland beaches and tourism. I wanted to fuse two of my passions into a comedic tale set in Rehoboth Beach that would both delight and educate readers. I throw a bit of local history into the mix when I incorporate a true-to-life pirate by the name of Captain Kidd into the story. Pirates, as a subject, are a personal interest of mine, especially in relation to local history.

What would you like readers to take away from your story?

If they burst out laughing a time or two, look up a new phrase or expression (whether it be related to technology or trends such as the “mannequin pose,”) I will feel as if I have helped educate or entertain them in some way. Most importantly, I want them to have fun while reading it.

How long have you been writing?

I started writing for children and young adults in 2004. My writing evolved over time where fiction and non-fiction for adults took over. I enjoy including comedy, romance, and fun into my stories for adults which I believe helped back when I used to write for children as well.

Do you write full-time? If not, what do you do for a living?

I write part-time, oftentimes while eating breakfast, sitting on a long car-drive, or catching ten minutes here and there. It all adds up. I work at the Department of Education during the day and am the assistant to the Director of the Office of Higher Education. I am also a student at Wilmington University in the Media Communications program.

Do you only write short fiction? If not, how does writing a short story differ from writing a novel? (Other than the obvious length/time.)

I wrote both short and traditional length fiction. I have found that writing short fiction is very similar to writing longer fiction. The way I look at it is, that short fiction still needs to have a well-rounded, full storyline including the beginning (hook), middle (climax), and the end (resolution). You still need to include the theme, setting, characters, narrative and dialogue. The main difference is in the ability to develop the story on a shorter scale.

What does your typical “writing day” look like?

When I have a dedicated full day to writing, it usually consists of sitting on my chaise lounge by myself in my bedroom. I switch between that and standing at a desk, or sitting on another chair (I personally need to keep moving). I start with warming up. I check my list of what I need to write for the day, and review what I have already written (and hope to God I have already completed the research). I then look over the outline of the piece and start filling in the sections that are still needed.

What are you currently reading?

I have a reading list about ten miles long. I am currently reading the Annie Crow Knoll series by Gail Priest, The Weekenders by Mary Kay Andrews, and the War on Words by Bob Yearick, in addition to many others.

Other than this spectacular anthology, do you have any recent or upcoming releases you’d like to tell us about?

Yes! I have an anthology that I co-edited with Nancy Sakaduski of Cat & Mouse Press being launched on May 12, 2018 at Browseabout Books in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. Beach Love is an anthology of short stories that are all centered on the Delaware and Maryland beaches.

What advice would you give aspiring authors?

Keep writing. It sounds simple but it’s the truth. As you continue to write, you will grow as an author. Join a critique group and pay attention to the edits that others provide to you. Sign up for the weekly online newspaper for writers that is curated by Cat & Mouse Press called: Writing is a Shore Thing at Finally, check out the DIY MFA website at: They publish daily articles that are full of useful information for aspiring authors.

You’re a busy lady! Where can readers learn more about you and your work?

Please feel free to find me on my Amazon Author Central page at:

Readers can also find me on my home blog at: or on social media under @seasidecindy. I am active on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

Thank you for joining us, Cindy. Readers, go check out the anthology by clicking the link below.

Running Wild Press

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Rebecca House Is, Er, In Da House!

Rebecca House, Author

Rebecca House, Author

Please join me in welcoming Rebecca House. Rebecca wrote Visiting Friends, a short story published in Running Wild Press’s Anthology of Stories, Volume 2. Here’s a tasty taste, the first paragraph.

The white two-story house loomed above Bram’s head, the windows sparkled and the pristine yard burst with cherry blossoms. Mrs. Baker waved him inside, the flesh on her arm jiggled and her flowered housedress swayed below her knees.  

What inspired you to write Visiting Friends?

“Visiting Friends” was inspired out of a different call for submission about four years ago. The stories were to be set in a small town located in Upper State, New York. I researched the town quite a bit, and out of that research came the characters and the story. I like to play the “what if” game as a way to prompt ideas, so my prompt became; “what if some poor confused person found themselves in an unusual and precarious situation?”

I love doing that, too. The story can go in so many directions, can’t it?

Most of my short stories have twists of gothic, supernatural or horror elements so naturally the main protagonist, Bram, has to quickly try and figure out what is going on at this house and the party he is attending. Interestingly, this was one of the first short stories I finished when I decided to try my hand at short story writing. The initial feedback was positive but it just wasn’t a fit for that particular publication. After that it marinated on my computer for a bit then, was edited, resubmitted until it at last found a home with Running Wild Press.

What would you like readers to take away from this story?

I don’t tend to write with a theme in mind, so, that’s a hard one to answer! I start with setting or character and allow my unconscious explore organically. This means that theme becomes more apparent after a story is completed and oftentimes I find readers discover their own themes. I think all I want is for readers to take away is enjoying the ride and keeping an open mind. I guess if I had to choose a takeaway from “Visiting Friends,” it would be that things are not always as they appear.

How long have you been writing?

Since I typed out my first flash fiction story on the green screen of a PET computer in Grade Four. (That may date me a bit!)

Sister, I’m with you. This fellow was in my class.


I’ve always been scribbling away. Ideas, journaling, scripts for plays, song lyrics, poetry, newspaper writing – I’ve probably tried almost everything once so I guess the short answer is; since I learned to write full sentences.

I decided about four years ago to stop wishing I could be a writer and get on with it. My first project was a novel. I had to finish something, and I did. That process led to a second novel and morphed into short story telling and so on. I think once I knew I could buckle down and finish something it was all I needed to really start moving from someone who writes to a writer.

Do you write full-time? If not, what do you do for a living?

I wish!

Don’t we all? Let us dream about that great, great day when we write full-time:


Right now I’m trying to write part-time, marketing part-time for a law firm and parenting full-time.

Ditto, minus the parenting thing. Phone calls, letters, pleadings, discovery, the copier is jammed. THE COPIER IS JAMMED!

Do you only write short fiction? If not, how does writing a short story differ from writing a novel? (Other than the obvious length/time.)

I write what the story dictates. I also like to take on new challenges so I’m constantly refining skills and acquiring new ones. I have written a couple of novels, freelance articles, blog posts, a one-act play and poetry.

Short story writing is very different than novel writing. I found that after completing two novels I was a bit burned out with trying to keep track of plot lines, characters and in truth, the editing process. The next step submitting seemed almost impossible and I didn’t feel the work was ready. So in 2017 I shifted my focus to short story writing. It seemed more attainable to get short stories published, there are so many opportunities out there and I could learn about the submission process with bite-sized stories. I was also curious how a short story differed from novel writing.

After taking a course and reading lots of short stories, I ended up using some of my same writing processes as for novels but adapted them to be more succinct. I had to learn to let go of my “extra flowery writing” and get to the plot point/conflict very quickly. For example, I needed to be very clear early in the piece what the conflict was or was going to be and follow that up with a dramatic event or action in the first page or two to swell the story towards the main plot point.

There is also no time in a short story to build up setting. You can really only use a few really great descriptive lines peppered amongst the paragraphs. This was a challenge for me because I love setting. You also have to really think if a character is necessary because you don’t want too many voices in a short story to take away from what is happening. If a character doesn’t move the plot along or create tension  – are they good for the story? You also learn to identify how much information a reader needs to stay interested in the story and in turn you end up paring out a lot of the backstory. With more practice, these tools became easier to incorporate on a first draft instead of a third or fourth draft but I’m still learning.

What does your typical “writing day” look like?

I wish I had one. Wearing a lot of hats I don’t get a typical day often. My writing time is sporadic and mostly I’m just trying to catch moments when I can write, type or voice memo something.

But, when I do have a day it looks like: up at 5 am and I usually start the day with coffee, meditation and yoga. I take some quiet time to journal or spend time idea generating. I write a lot of poetry in the mornings. Then after all the kids and pets are taken care of, I set up in my “writing spot” for the day and try to go in two-hour blocks. Two hours writing or writing activities and take an hour to go for a walk, meal prep, errands etc. until the kids get back home from school.  I’m spent after that, so unless I’m on deadline I’m asleep quite early. Although, I’ll often sneak away for 2 or 3 nights on my own every few months and just spend the days writing, exploring something new and sipping tea and coffee.

What are you currently reading?

A few things. as my interests are varied. I started putting into my morning routine reading something inspirational or thought-provoking to help set an intention for the day. Right now I’m reading The Judgment Detox by Gabrielle Bernstein. For fun I’m reading Helix: Blight of Exiles by Pat Flewwelling, and I’m making my way through an anthology called Oxford’s Haunted from the Oxford Writing Circle Press.  A school friend from long ago recently got her short story published in this anthology, so I am excited to read it.

Other than this spectacular anthology, do you have any recent or upcoming releases you’d like to tell us about?

Another short story of mine titled, “Frozen Beauty”, was launched with ID PRESS’s anthology, Allucinor in March 2018. I did my first public reading with that story. It explores what happens once a fairy tale is over and it didn’t go quite right. Can you get a second chance at true love? It has a gothic romance feel with some twisty, dark elements.

I also have two other short stories being published this spring, “Down By The Creek” will be part of The County Wave, an anthology by Cressy Lakeside Books and will be full of local authors in the area I live. Weirdbook Magazine picked up my story, “Monika Unraveling” for their next publication. This one is based on a character from my first novel and explores her backstory. It’s about transformation, monsters and embracing your dark side.

Breakroom Stories will be producing one of my previously published short stories, “Silent Houses.” The website is a unique endeavor, one where the author’s story is narrated to a moving slide show. “Silent Houses” is a reprint first seen on CommuterLit. I like to find places where I can send reprints of short stories where I still hold the copyright. It’s challenging to find, but often can be unique platforms for storytelling.

You’ve been busy!

What advice would you give aspiring authors?

Three pieces of advice; one is forget about perfection. You can only do your best and it has to be good enough.

Two, always be gracious and thankful. People take time to read your work so sending a quick thank you note is just professional and polite. As well, you never know what the future holds.  Just because one story isn’t a good fit for an editor or publishing group, another story may be just right. Never burn your bridges.

Three is to embrace your strengths and get help with your weaknesses. This means, I know what I do well (it takes a bit of time but you figure it out.) I know what I need help with. Finding people who can help you learn or just simply help you where you need it can take a story from okay to awesome. For example, I don’t like editing so I get help from my partner or writing peers and have learned a lot about self-editing from them. I love looking at first drafts, questioning, finding parallels and moving a story to the next step and will often help someone out with that. I love the idea of trading your work with other writers. Another suggestion is to find a good writing group or like-minded Critique Partners who you work well with.

Where can readers learn more about you and your work?

The best place to see what I’ve published, what is going on with me and tidbits about my life is at my website, I am also on Instagram (@rhousewriter), Twitter (@rhhouse) and Facebook ( and I respond quickly on those platforms. I love hearing from people, so get in touch!

Thank you Julie for having me answer these questions – it is much appreciated!

Thanks for joining me. Now, go un-jam that copier! And the rest of you, go check out Rebecca’s story in this book. Just click the image.

Running Wild Press

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In Albion One, Lorna Walsh Gives Her Majesty the Queen A Robot

Lorna Walsh, Author

Lorna Walsh, AuthorIn Albion One, Lorna Walsh gives Her Majesty the Queen a robot. Here’s the opening paragraph:

Few people knew that the Queen was fascinated with gizmos. At the opening of Parliament, beneath the weight of the crown, she had often longed to replace a little of the pageantry with gadgetry. An animatronic model of herself could wear ermine without perspiring, wave tirelessly from balconies, and endure the entirety of the prime minister’s weekly visit with an indefatigable smile. However, decorum dictated that the Queen should decline even a turn on the Wii at Christmastime, and she could do nothing but watch her great grandchildren compete in dance-offs with a desire that her face could not convey.

What made you pair up the Queen and a robot?

I attended a writers’ workshop at The Grotto in San Francisco a few years ago, and one of the exercises was to find a news story that would inspire a fiction piece. I saw a report about a visit that Queen Elizabeth made to a high school where she was shown the kids’ robot creations. The juxtaposition of centuries’ old tradition and youthful innovation was just too delicious.

I immediately loved the contrast between the tradition of monarchy and the transience of technology. Then, as I thought about my fictional version, a deeper story emerged about the very human fear we all have of becoming obsolete as we age, and I wanted the reader to reflect on this, too.

The story is intended to be lighthearted and enjoyable on the surface, but I build the pathos as the relationship between “Albi” and “Liz” develops because, as a reader of short stories, I love it when an author strikes the right balance at the end of a story between resolution and resonance. I hope that I came somewhere near hitting that bittersweet end note that stays with the reader awhile.

Score. I thoroughly enjoyed it very much.


How long have you been writing?

Since I was very young. I still have the handwritten manuscript of a novella called Marianne, which I wrote when I was eleven. At that age, I was into books by Virginia Andrews, as well as the Sweet Valley High books, so Marianne is a cringe-worthy mash-up of those influences. I wrote bits and pieces up until I went to university to study English Literature, where the only writing I did was writing essays about writing. But when I graduated, I started writing short stories more seriously. Twenty years later, I’m still at it.

That’s dedication! Do you write full-time? If not, what do you do for a living?

I am a full-time writer and editor. I set up my own editing and writing business two years ago and now work for a range of clients, including three publishers. My professional wordsmithing is exclusively nonfiction—mostly business and lifestyle books with a smattering of memoir—and I’m especially passionate about what I call “mission-driven” books (nonfiction that is trying to make a difference). I write a blog called Books with Spine on this subject, which can be found on my website:

I’m fortunate to make a good living with words, but it takes away a lot of time from my fiction writing.

I would imagine so. Do you only write short fiction? If not, how does writing a short story differ from writing a novel? (Other than the obvious length/time.)

My first love is the short story, but I decided to find out if I had a novel in me. Thankfully, I did and wrote my first (as yet unpublished) novel, Ghost Star. Three years after finishing that novel, I’m about 20,000 words short of finishing a first draft of another novel, which is based on a short story I wrote that was nominated for the Pushcart Prize in 2016. That short story now forms the first chapter of the novel.

For me, writing a short story is all about the essence of something. Every word, every sentence, every paragraph must have that essence at its core. I have to be more disciplined when writing a short story and slaughter many more darlings than I would if I were writing a novel because the boundaries of a short story are tighter. In a short story, your ideas are sheep in holding pen. In a novel, your ideas are sheep scattered all over the hillside.

So true. What does your typical “writing day” look like?

I don’t have a set routine, sadly.

Don’t feel bad. Few of us do. Most of us try, but then, this happens:


It’s been some time since I’ve written fiction because work has taken over. I work with words all day (often seven days a week), so I don’t have the mental energy for my own writing most of the time. That is the downside to turning your passion into your day job. But I plan to take more chunks of time off this year when I can focus on MY writing.

I wondered whether your day job used up all the words. It must be a bit like a carpenter whose house is falling down. Or, in my case, when my husband asks me to fill out paperwork for him (I do it all day at the day job.).

What are you currently reading?

I’ve just finished Carson McCullers’ Reflections in a Golden Eye, and I’m now reading Offshore by Penelope Fitzgerald. Both are amazing, and both are very short (about 80 pages and 130 pages respectively). I am fond of the novella because it combines the powers of the short story and the novel … and reading novellas means I can get through more fiction!

What advice would you give aspiring authors?

Write from the heart and always have humility. Enjoy it, work at it, and savor every little success. I’ve met too many “undiscovered” writers with huge egos who are bitter about not being able to find an agent and envious of published authors who are producing “inferior” work to their own. Every writers’ group has at least one of these people. Don’t be that person!

Where can readers learn more about you and your works?

I don’t have an author platform at this time, but you can find me at and follow my blog, Books with Spine.

There you have it. Check out Lorna Walsh’s great story in Running Wild Press’s Anthology of Stories, Volume 2. Click the image for details.

Running Wild Press

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SCENT OF THE SOUL is FREE June 4-6, 2018

Hello? Is anyone out there?

First, let’s get this out of the way: the ebook version of SCENT OF THE SOUL is free on Amazon from June 4th through June 6th. Grab it here:

It’s been a chaotic, emotional spring, one that required writing through anxiety and stress. There’s something therapeutic in spending time in worlds I can actually control. So, what do I have to show for my effort?

  • THE SCENT OF FOREVER is in the hands of my editor, which means we are truly sailing toward an August release date. I’ve heard from the cover art coordinator, so we should soon have something to ogle and celebrate. I’m just going to warn you up front. This novel is spicy. After missing each other through three books, I wasn’t going to reward my reuniting soul mates with a handshake. 😉 I should also mention that Semjaza is back, too, so expect the stench of evil. Trust me, he didn’t get any nicer in eight hundred years. About that. I rarely read my reviews, but it’s impossible not to see them, since I have to visit my Amazon page on occasion. I noticed that a few readers gave up the moment they encountered an evil character. That’s a shame, because the book has undertones they would appreciate. Whether we like it or not, there’s good and evil in this world. I didn’t write a comical demon. He’s bad. Real bad. And he definitely gets his comeuppance.
  • I finished another novel, a non-paranormal historical romance that I can’t name right now, since it is a finalist in a contest.
  • I bonded with my new critique partner, who seems to share my love of writing and my uncanny talent for attracting adversity. We’re pretty new-fangled with our Google spreadsheets. Last month, we bagged 100 hours between us.
  • I hit 20,000 words in my latest work-in-progress, a contemporary romance about a disabled vet who uses a drone to send anonymous messages to an old high school sweetheart.

In non-writing news, I’m still renovating our 1926 Craftsman Colonial. The foyer is taking much longer than I’d hoped or expected, but it’s turning out well.










I managed a trip to Philadelphia in April, which strengthened my love of the 18th century. The last time I was there was in 1979, when you didn’t need to take off your belt or go through security just to see Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell. It was worth it, though.

I found George Croghan while there. If you don’t know who he is, look him up. Fascinating Irishman who comes out of nowhere to play a pivotal role in advancing and protecting the Pennsylvania frontier. He’s the sort of character who deserves to become a hero in a romance novel.


While in Philly, I visited a secondhand bookstore, where I bought what I now believe is a kidnapper’s thesaurus. Didn’t realize it until I got home.

I found out this spring just how hard writing is on a body. All those hours spent in a chair take their toll. Most people make a gradual reentry into the world of exercise. Not me. I go from 0-60 by hiking seven miles of the Appalachian Trail! Well worth the sore muscles, and I can’t wait to do it again.

That’s the news from here. Stay tuned, because I’ll have a cover to reveal shortly. Come visit me over on Facebook, where I will have lots of giveaways during my upcoming cover reveal and release. And say hello, will you? I’m lonely.

Selling Stories in Pairs? Yep. Ask Gemma Brook.

Running Wild Press

Running Wild Press

Author Gemma Brook is so frickin’ awesome, she sold not one, but TWO short stories to Running Wild Press for its Running Wild Press’s Anthology of Stories, Volume 2. Let’s start with the first few sentences of “The Guest” and “Last Memory,” shall we?

The Guest

The elders always say to lay another place at the table, pour another cup, and leave the door ajar for the celebration. So we do, even though the air is sharp and cold this time of year. When I was really young, I expected every year that some unexpected guest would come through that door – someone wise, or tall, or striking. Someone who would make us catch our breath, rise to our feet, and bow our heads in reverence. For that whole week, when the spring moon was large-bellied, I would come to the dinner table with my heart thumping in expectation, wondering who would join us.

Oh, my word. “When the spring moon was large-bellied.” That actually made me swoon a little.

Right, now, on to “Last Memory”

Last Memory

The last thing I remembered was her necklace – a tiny, corked glass flask, with a bit of dark earth and two minuscule leaves uncurling. I carried that image with me into the dark, a spark of both hope and claustrophobia. How could that living thing survive in that tiny space?

Your imagery is nothing short of divine.


What inspired you to write this story?

A pair of writing prompts, from an excellent online course run years ago by Running Wild Press founder, Lisa Kastner. For “The Guest,” I believe the prompt was “Our special guest.” My mind turned that into an unexpected visitor, which sparked this idea.

For “Last Memory,” the prompt was, “The last thing I remember.” And I have a strong visual memory of the tiny glass flask – I think I ran across it in a google image search, perhaps for a different story.

What would you like readers to take away from your story?

That’s an excellent question, and I’m honestly not sure of the answer. I really want readers to form their own impressions; I think both stories are very open to interpretation. Perhaps one thing I’d like a reader to take away: Be open to the unexpected.

How long have you been writing?

It feels like almost as long as I can remember. My fourth grade teacher had us all write stories and make illustrated covers for them; I’ve been hooked ever since.

I’d love to know if you still have yours.

Do you write full-time? If not, what do you do for a living?

I’m retired from a previous career in bookselling. Writing is one of my passions that I pursue now.

Do you only write short fiction? If not, how does writing a short story differ from writing a novel? (Other than the obvious length/time.)

Short fiction is really a departure for me; normally I prefer to write novels. How they differ is a good question. I spend a lot more time plotting for a novel, for one thing (as I wrote these two stories, I was definitely more of a pantser than usual). I think there’s more telling in a short story (less space to show), but it requires lot of care to choose what to tell, and how to add vivid details where possible.

What does your typical “writing day” look like?

I’d like to start my day writing, but I’ve learned that getting up early and just sitting down at my desk leads to a lot of blank staring at blank paper. On a good writing day, I like to get out early for a brisk walk for maybe half an hour. The walk helps get my blood flowing and my mind working, and my thoughts in the POV of my character – or working on a plotting question. When it’s too dark, cold, or inclement for a walk, I’ll make a cup of tea, do a bit of stretching, and hope that by the time the tea’s steeped I’m awake! Then I sit down with pen and paper for what I hope is at least an hour – on a good day, maybe more! Then there’s whatever chores, tasks, and errands the day holds. In between, my husband and I often go for walks or hikes, which is fruitful for inspiration, especially since a lot of my stories take place in forests. And some days we like to spend a little time in a bookstore or library; I can edit or plot in such places, but it’s hard for me to create there. In the afternoon/evening, I’ll type what I wrote in the morning, sometimes adding more, always with some revising as I go (and, sadly, inevitably adding typos!)

That sounds way better (and more productive) than my typical “writing day.”


What are you currently reading?

I’ve just finished Sea and Sand by Alex Lidell. It’s the latest installment in a great nautical adventure series, set in a fantasy world. It’s a real page-turner filled with tall ships, great characters, naval battles, political intrigue – and magic!

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

First and foremost: write! By all means, jot down ideas in a place and a way you can find them again (I’ve learned the hard way: don’t depend on memory alone!) But also work on getting the story on the page. Remember it’s perfectly okay for the first draft to be “crap.” You can always revise and improve later – but if you haven’t written it, there’s nothing to improve.

And – when you’re ready – get critique partners or a critique group. But not too many people, or it can be overwhelming. This can be tricky and scary, but good critique partners can offer tremendous help. Find people who write, too, but who don’t try to write your story for you! And remember that in the end, the story has to be true to your vision and your voice.

Sing it, sister!


Where can readers learn more about you and your works?

They can contact me via my email: gemma.l.brook12 at gmail dot com or by cruising my site at I’d love to chat with readers and writers about writing!

Gemma Brook

Huge thanks to Gemma Brook for joining us. Check out her two brilliant stories in Running Wild’s Anthology of Stories, Volume 2 here:

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Freelance Editor Susan Helene Gottfried & Great Advice for Aspiring Authors

Running Wild Press

As you know, we’ve been visiting with co-authors of Running Wild Press’s Anthology of Stories, Volume 2. Please welcome Susan Helene Gottfried, author of the short story “Undaunted.” Here’s the first paragraph to get us started:

It rained on our wedding day, and now it’s raining on his funeral. I never got to ask his mother, but it probably rained on the day he was born, too.

Oh, snap! You instantly set the tone and hooked me with very few words. Well done!


What inspired you to write “Undaunted?”

I ran into one of my son’s friends the day of the AP English final. One of the prompts had been “puddles” and no one in any of the classes knew what to do with it. Her head was still reeling. Mine took off in new directions.

Do you write full-time? If not, what do you do for a living?

Nope, I’m a full-time freelance editor to authors of fiction. I actually hadn’t written anything new of consequence in years before this sprang out of me, almost fully formed.

What advice would you give aspiring authors?

Learn. Learn absolutely everything you can, from the craft of writing to how the publishing industry works. Learn about commas and transitions and echo words. Learn about what it means to sell first rights. Learn the difference between self-publishing, using a small press, or finding an agent who’ll open the gates into the big publishing houses – even if you don’t want to go any of those routes. Learn about them anyway.

Learn what NOT to do. How NOT to query. How NOT to open a new chapter. How NOT to listen to the bully in your library’s critique group.

Learn that “write what you know” doesn’t mean you are confined to the life you live. It means it’s your golden ticket to becoming more than who you currently are. Your character’s into roller derby? Go find a team to hang around and observe. Maybe you don’t lace up a pair of skates right then, but maybe you do. Or maybe you do six months from now. Or maybe never. That’s okay, too.

Learn that being a writer means it’s okay to be insatiably curious. And it’s okay to learn a little bit and flit onto the next thing, so long as what you’ve learned up to your departure point is what you need to be able to write authentically.

Just… learn. Drink in the world, and then give it back on the page.

Where can readers learn more about you?

Readers, be sure to subscribe to Susan’s blog. She talks about books, hands out free editing tips, and offers the odd writing prompt.


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