Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Author Life ABC's - B

Happy Wednesday! Today marks the halfway point of the week! Who's excited? I know I am. Tomorrow, you get yet another excerpt from Provocation, which is sitting at 36k words at the moment with around 15k to go. Keep your eyeballs peeled for that. I can't wait for release day. EEK! Anywho, for today, we're back on the ABC's of author life. Ready for letter B? I know you are. Grab your coffee, or tea, and let's get going!

My chosen word to go with letter B is Break.

Why? Because I see so many authors with this on their horizon. Every year, too many of us break apart and quit. Those authors reach the point where they don't see why they're doing what they are. They throw in the towel and walk away.

So many more sit and stare at their computer screens or that blank piece of paper and wonder why they're bothering to do what they do. They're nearing the point where they'll break and quit. Of course, several of them reevaluate and push forward, slamming the keys day and night in a continuous loop, charging toward that pot of gold they see at the end of the rainbow.

And still others remember why they started writing in the first place.

If an author sets out to make a million dollars, thinking this is the way they'll make an astronomical amount of money for living, most will end up quitting within a few years. After all, "the big break" only happens to about 2% of writers. Several authors make a decent living, and they're happy with that, but they fall in a rough 5% category, so those aren't the folks I'm talking about here.

Like I said in last week's Author Life ABC's post, you first have to define what success is for you. That's the starting point, and then you gotta run with it. Be realistic, and post it somewhere you can see it every day.

Why did you start?

Many of us became authors because we're addicted to the written word. We have to write. It's what makes our blood move through our veins and what drives us out of bed each day. Even if we never sell a single book, we're in it for the words.

If that's why you started, you should never have a near break day. You're doing what you love, and no matter what, you'll find a way to do it. Putting the words on the page is what it's about. That, in and of itself, is satisfying as hell.

I always say, "I write because I must, and I design because I can."

If it's important to you, you'll find a way;
if not, you'll find an excuse.

I'm not sure who said that, but damn, how true is it?

What do you think? Have you ever hit the point where you thought you might break and quit? How did you come out of it?

Well, that's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!


Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Book Review - Shadows of Jane

Happy Tuesday! EEEEP! Today, I'm bringing you another book review :D I read through this one last weekend, and it kept my attention the whole time. I didn't want to put it down! So, grab your coffee or tea, and let's get going!

First, a little about the book up for review today:

Title: Shadows of Jane (The Shadows Trilogy - Book One)
Author: Amy Hale
Genre: New Adult Paranormal Romance
Length: 151 printed pages
Buy Link: Amazon Paperback

Colt Henderson is a man who lives for the moment. His past has taught him that life is unpredictable and often disappointing. A confirmed bachelor, he believes that love only exists in fairy tales.

She’s lost, scared, and can’t remember a thing about her past or her identity. She senses all is not as it should be, but without her memory, how does she know what to fear and what to trust? Because of her status as a Jane Doe, she names herself Jane and works to put her life back together. In the process she learns that she possesses unique abilities that certain people will kill for.

Fate throws Colt and Jane together, but they both have a lot to learn about forgiveness and acceptance. Colt’s determination and Jane’s remarkable gifts will send them on a journey they never expected. To survive they will need each other, but sometimes facts are scarier than fiction, and the truth is better left unknown.


Now, let's get to the good stuff!

I picked this paperback up at an event where I got to meet the author, and I'm now kicking myself for not buying the whole series at once. I wanted the next one as soon as I finished the first (reader problems). Yeah, it was that good. What really gripped me about the story is the way Ms. Hale built her characters from the first page to the last. There was great development. But enough high-level, let's get into the details.

From a Reader's Perspective:
I loved the main characters, Jane and Colt. They were always at odds with one another, but you could tell they wanted to be together from the first time they met. Their reactions were typical for people going through what they were, and I was genuinely invested in the outcome because I liked them both so much. I wanted Colt to get over himself at the same time I wanted Jane to realize what she had in him. It was a nice juxtaposition of personalities. Story flowed well from beginning to end, and there was never a time I felt lost or jarred by the action happening. Details were spot on. Just enough to allow me to build the scenes in my own mind rather than being told that the curtains were just so or the couch had a small tear in the arm. I read this in one day.

Only one thing was a bit jarring: The sudden jolt from one POV to another. It was clear the author tried to scene/POV break, but then the prose would leap to the POV of another person in the room. That threw me out of the story a couple times, and it forced me to read back to make sure I didn't miss something.

From an Editor's Perspective:
Overall, the editing was good. There weren't a ton of errors, and nothing that took away from the story itself. I'm leaving the POV leaps to the reader part of the review, because I believe that's reading preference rather than a true editing error.

1 Star for giving me characters I could root for
1 Star for not bogging me down with unnecessary description
1 Star for flow/pacing
1 Star for editing
-1 Star for the POV jumps

Overall: 4 out of 5 stars! A highly recommended read that will go quickly and keep you engaged.

What do you think? Will you pick it up?

Well, that's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!


Monday, January 29, 2018

How to: Photoshop 101 - Tools

Happy Monday, everyone! I hope you enjoy the introductions to the tools in Photoshop. It's just a speedy overview (about 7 minutes). I'll be going a little deeper on some of these things later on. Enjoy the video!😁

What did you think? Did you get anything useful out of that? Are there any other tutorials you'd like to see besides Photoshop?

Well, that's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!


Friday, January 26, 2018

Fun Fact Friday - a "Did You Know?" Post

Happy Fridaaaaaay! Who's ready for the weekend? I promise you, I am. It's been a long week, eh? You're gonna LOVE the information I found for you today! I'm going to hit this up next week with a test drive, and I'll be posting a "How-to" on it! Ready to know what it is? Grab your coffee, or tea, and let's get rolling!

May I introduce:


Some of you may already be aware of this feature, but I'm guessing most of you aren't. So, let's take a gander at how Amazon says it should work, shall we?

From your bookshelf (if you don't remember what that is, go read this post I did on KDP publishing), click on the ... next to the title you'd like to add X-ray to.

Oh, wait. Let's back up a bit.

What is X-ray?

It's a feature that allows readers to long-press a word in your Kindle book to read more about it. Could be a character's name or location. A word that's not commonly used so you can provide a definition. Anything.

Pretty cool, right? Okay, let's move on!

Here's the ... flyout:

You can see where it says "Launch X-Ray." That's where you'll go when you're ready to get this going. I'm not clicking it right now, but I will when I check it out next week. Likely on Yassa since that one has the most options for historical references.

From the information page, it says you can add links to Wiki articles or add text, but you can't add links to other websites or marketing avenues. Keep that in mind.

I'm looking forward to checking it out! How about you?

Well, that's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!


Thursday, January 25, 2018

Facing Facts - How Men are Pigs and Women are Delicate, Pristine Flowers

Happy Thursday, good people of the blogosphere! Today, I'm all about a discussion. I've read a couple of articles this week (and I saw a couple of FB posts) that have my brain ticking. I'm gonna talk about them, and I'm probably going to piss a lot of people off. Ready? Grab your coffee, or tea, and let's get going!

Okay, so on the heels of the #MeToo movement, I've seen a lot of posts from women (and a few men) and how things have happened with men. Don't get me wrong here, I'm 100% NOT saying anything about those victims or what they've been through (it's all quite horrifying); rather, this is a perspective from the female side of this blog post and a discussion about looking at ourselves. I'm also going to touch on the comments made on this post from Facebook because that matters, too.

Yes, ourselves.
Women. Powerful. Strong. Capable.

Sadly, we're also often complete hypocrites. I don't believe all men are pigs and all women are lily-white, innocent bystanders. On the contrary, I know women can be just as bad as men when it comes to thoughts and actions.

It's not often you run across a post from a man about being sexually assaulted by a woman, but it happens. A lot more than you may think. Most times, people assume the man has the same thoughts as the guy in the post referenced above.

But what if they don't?

What if a woman is acting in a way that makes a man uncomfortable? What if he feels the pressure to say yes even though what he wants to say is no?

I've seen men run from women, firsthand, because they were all over the guy and he was not into them. I've heard first-hand accounts from men who decided (at the last minute) they didn't want to have sex, and the woman they were with screamed, cried, and (sometimes) hit the guy for saying no.

Is that okay because the genders are reversed?

I've seen a group of married women groping a man (he was eating it up at the time), but also hear those same women complain about how their husbands look at other women.

But I have yet to hear from the men about all of this. Are they as ashamed as all those women were before the #MeToo movement started? According to the article referenced in the blog post, that seems to be exactly what it is.

If you say no, you're not a man.

I can hear you all saying how crazy this is. Of course guys want aggressive women, right? Actually, that's not the case most of the time. Yeah, there are shy guys who need a little coaxing out of their shells, but that doesn't give women the right to shove their tongues down his throat or grope him in public (or private if he's saying no).

But that's what most women have been ingrained with.

You have to be aggressive or you risk losing the man.

If you lose the man because you can't behave like a lady, so what? A man that's worth it will be there whether you're aggressive or not. You don't want a man to touch you unless you're into it, so don't assume a man wants you to touch him.

This brings me to the post on Facebook that's referenced above.

She's wearing an alluring outfit. That's going to get attention, no matter where you go or who you are. She's probably aware of that. What she's not doing is giving consent for sexual acts by dressing that way. Is she aware men will look at her? Uh, yeah. Does she have to put up with men touching her? Should she expect that? Absolutely not.

Men are not creatures that cannot control themselves when presented with an alluring, scantily-clad woman.

On the contrary, men think and can be taught. Just like women. No, ladies, guys don't want you pawing them. Look all you want, but don't touch unless given permission.

Sadly, sex sells. Just look at the covers of romance novels. They don't even have to be erotica. We, as women, flock to these books because of the attractive male bodies on the front. Now, I want you to think about something:

Would you be okay with your husband ogling a half-naked (or fully nude) woman?

Most women (and there are exceptions to this, as there are with everything--you can't make blanket statements, and I get that) aren't okay with that. These actions are where the hypocrisy comes in. Those women want to be able to do it, but they don't want their husbands doing it.

That's not the way any of this works.

It's never "do as I say and not as I do." If you want someone to do something, you need to be 100% willing to do the same thing. Never ask something of another person that you're not willing to do yourself. This goes for both genders.

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Period. It's not a difficult concept. Act with integrity always. ALWAYS. Seems so simple, yet it also seems such a foreign concept for so many people. *sigh*

Personally, I'd like to hear the mens' stories, too. I know they exist because I've heard them first hand. I haven't seen more than a couple handfuls on social media (even when I search the hashtag). That guy in the post above makes a lot of sense, but he doesn't give a woman's perspective (because he can't--he's a man).

Like the men have been told: She needs you to force it on her because she secretly wants it.
Women have been told: He always wants it; you just need to put it in his face.

I mean, what? It's the truth, but dear me, how did we get to this place? What broke? How do we fix it?

I'm just over all the women screaming from the rooftops and not hearing a peep from the men. There needs to be change on all sides of the issue, not just one. Until we have HONEST, open dialogue, not a lot is going to be done.

How about it, guys? Wanna hit me with a story? Feel free to post without a name. I'll still click publish!

What do you ladies think? Have you witnessed things like this? Been part of them and now look back and have a question mark over your head? Tell me your story!

Well, that's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!


Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Meet a Book Blogger - Bewitched Reader Book Blog (Stormi Johnson)

Hey everyone! *waves like a maniac*

My name is Stormi, and I write over at the Bewitched Reader Book Blog. I don’t like coffee. I’m obsessed with fuzzy blankets. I’m a member of the Hufflepuff house. Walking without tripping is a true struggle for me. Oh, and I love quotes! I even have a page on my blog dedicated to nothing but quotes.

Fantasy, specifically Harry Potter, was the genre that made me fall in love with reading. I’ve branched out a little since 8 year old me first checked out The Sorcerer’s Stone from my elementary school library. Romance novels, thrillers, and young adult books can now be found right next my fantasy novels on my bookshelves and Kindle. Well, maybe not right next to them. I’m very particular about the way my books are organized…

I started my book blog as a way to connect with other book worms in the world and have a place where I can talk as much as I want about the books I’m reading with people who understand my love of fictional worlds. I have met so many wonderful authors over the past year and half that I’ve been blogging. Sharing their books, both old and new, has become one of my favorite things to do in my free time. I post all of my reviews to Amazon, B&N, Goodreads, and Bookbub. For authors requesting a review. I do ask that your request include the title and genre of the book, as well as a short blurb and the desired time frame for the review.

If you’ve made it this far into my ramblings, thank you! I would love to have you follow me at one or all of the places below and to share a bit about yourself in the comments.

What are your favorite genres to read? What book made you fall in love with reading? What is your favorite quote?

FB Group:

Y'all go give this lovely lady a follow! Thanks for coming, Stormi! Nice to meet you!

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Book Review - Juggernaut

Happy Tuesday! I'm back with another book review for you all. Grab your coffee or tea, get warm, and let's get going!

First, a little about the book up for review today:

Title: Juggernaut
Author: K.S. Adkins
Genre: Adult Contemporary Romance (18 and up)
Length: 371 pages
Buy Links: Amazon Kindle  ~  Paperback


1. A literal or metaphorical force regarded as mercilessly destructive and unstoppable
2. Any terrible force, especially one that destroys or that demands complete self-sacrifice

In other words, me.
I truly was a dancing, singing, man-plowing, alcohol-guzzling, human wrecking ball of fun.
With a reputation for chaos so legendary, I made a career out of it.
Men came (pun intended), men went, but as long as I had my girls and Sunday brunches, I was solid.
I didn’t need a man to complete me. Hell no, I was in total control of my destiny.

But see, that’s where I went wrong.
I challenged the universe.
It accepted by sending a man who knew my weaknesses.
All it took was lemon drops, one kiss and a wish.
By granting it, I doomed us both.
No mortal man could handle my kind of destruction forever.
Even if he begged for it.
I was called Juggernaut for a reason.
In my case, be careful what you wish for was very, very, literal.

He really should have listened…


On to the good stuff!

I picked this paperback up at Great Lakes Book Bash in October of 2017. Why did I grab it? Well, I heard it was based on a true story. I love books based on true stories. I dove in right after I finished Weeds of Detroit, and I gobbled this book up just as quickly. Anyone who calls their circle of friends "The Sh*t" is someone I want to see into the mind of. It's awesome how books give you that ability. Anyway, let's get to the review!

From a Reader's Perspective:
Oh, where to start? Maybe that I identified with one of the characters right off the bat? Our MC is named Taylor (aka The Juggernaut), and she's a firecracker. Outspoken, brash, and tougher than a box of finishing nails, this lady's antics will leave you with your jaw hanging. But that wasn't the best thing about her. No. She's also fiercely loyal. That was the trait that had me rooting for her through the whole book. Loyalty is everything to me, and Taylor has it in spades. I wanted her to get the guy, and I needed her to have a happily ever after. That's the tantamount of a great read, in my opinion, and "Juggernaut" knocked it out of the park.
As far as flow, the book did a great job of going from A to Z without meandering along the way. There were a few stories on the side in there, but I felt they were necessary to show Taylor's personality, the friend group dynamic, and how much she'd be willing to sacrifice for someone else.
There's not a lot of flowery stuff in this book. It gets right to the point (which I love), and world-building was done in a direct way. I could see the scenes in my head, but I didn't get bogged down in details.
Pacing was right on the mark. It starts a little slow, with just enough to hook you, and then it takes you on a wild ride to the end. There was never a time I wanted it to speed up or slow down.

From an Editor's Perspective:
There were several typos and grammatical errors, but the story was so dang good, I was able to ignore them after a while. If you're a stickler for this kind of thing, you'll need to turn that off. I can only give half a star for editing.

1 Star for giving me characters that made me laugh, get angry, and fist punch the air
1 Star for flow
1 Star for world building
1 Star for pacing
.5 Stars for editing
Overall: 4.5 out of 5 stars, but I round up, so this goes to five. Highly recommended if you love a great best friend read with a romance that'll make you sigh.

What do you think? Have you read it? Plan to?

Well, that's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!


Monday, January 22, 2018

How to: Publish Your Book on KDP

Happy Monday, everyone! Today's post is all about how to publish your book on Amazon's KDP platform. Before we get to the meat and potatoes, I'm going to go over a few terms with you. Ready? Grab your coffee or tea, and let's get going!

KDP: Kindle Direct Publishing
Amazon: The folks that own KDP
KDP Select: A program you can opt into where you agree to exclusivity with KDP (meaning you promise not to publish your books anywhere else)
KU: Kindle Unlimited (you're automatically enrolled in this if you do the KDP Select agreement--that's the only way to get into KU)
Bookshelf: Where you see all the titles in your KDP library
Matchbook: A price people pay for the ebook IF they bought the paperback through Amazon and used the same account to purchase
KDP Lending Library: You grant the ability to people to loan your book to a friend for a set amount of time (usually 30 days--you're automatically enrolled if you're part of KDP Select)
DRM: Digital Rights Management (so people that buy your book can't move it from one device to a USB drive or other media--this does nothing to prevent piracy, seriously)
.mobi: The file type used by KDP
Kindle: Amazon's reading device (reads .mobi files)
Countdown Deal: The ability to put your book on sale for a maximum of 7 days in each KDP Select term of 90 days (only if you agree to KDP Select)

Now that you have the lingo down, let's get going! I'm doing a screenshot video to make it as easy as possible. Cross your fingers for me! This will be a first.

Here's the link to get started: Amazon KDP

I promised to go over the KDP Select button, but the video was getting rather long-ish, so I'll leave it to you to explore the options available there. When you publish your book, you're automatically optioned to re-up to the Select program, so if you only want to be in there for one 90 day cycle, be sure and change that option from your bookshelf tab by hovering over the ... on the right side and selecting KDP Select Info. Uncheck the little box at the bottom.

If you want to get the .mobi file after Amazon creates it, I do a walk through with screenshots here.

Any questions? Pop them in the comments below, and I'll answer!

Well, that's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!


Friday, January 19, 2018

Book Excerpt - Provocation - Pen Pals and Serial Killers - Story Two

Happy Friday, everyone! Well, today was supposed to be a guest post, but no one wanted to write one! Ha! So you lovely people get an excerpt from my upcoming release! Oh, happy day! Grab your coffee or tea, get comfy, and let's get going.

First, info about the book. Kindly remember this hasn't yet been edited. I'm nearly 30k deep, so heading toward the end.

Title: Provocation - Pen Pals and Serial Killers - Story Two
Author: Jo Michaels
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Length (guessing): ~ 60k
Release Date: Spring, 2018


Doctor Victoria Ward has been killing men for over thirty years. Her victims all have one thing in common: they’re abusive. Righteousness is a close companion—it helps her sleep at night—and she holds the virtue closely as she defends the innocent, upholding the law when it won’t rise to protect those who need it most. When she meets a young girl named Kelly, and follows her down a twisted path of deception, Doc Ward finds herself face-to-face with a ghost from her past. Never before has she wavered in her resolve—but can she defend another against someone she loves?


Chapter 1

Splinters of wood on the corner of the table curl up and away. They seem to be trying to escape the acrid stench of whiskey as much as Victoria is. Her father’s face is inches from her own, forcing the putrid smell through the air as he screams.
She winces when dirty fingernails bite into the soft flesh of her upper arm, and she grinds her teeth against the pain as it mingles with the ever-present terror. It’s better this way. Her mother is saved from enduring another round of Daddy’s wrath…
“And then he was hitting me again.”
Victoria came back to the present, returning her attention to the patient on the couch. “How long has this been going on, Shelley?”
“He doesn’t do it all the time, you know?”
“How long?” Pressing the young woman might not have been the best idea, but duration was something that needed adding to the notes.
Nibbling on an already ragged thumbnail, Shelley answered, “Since our wedding day.” She whirled around. “But he doesn’t mean to! James is a good guy; he just has these moments.”
Little tears appeared on the yellow legal pad as Victoria wrote.
Patient has nubs for fingernails—shows distress. Likely cause is horrific encounters with abusive husband. Bruises on forearms outline as fingers. Prescribing anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications. See entry in med script log book 4581.034—S. Whitaker.
“And he always apologizes afterward, right? Maybe cries?” It was obvious where the discussion was going, and she wanted nothing more than to rip James Whitaker’s face off. Instead, she pressed her lips together in a tight smile.
Shelley was nodding, her eyes brightening like an excited child’s. “He’s so loving. He really doesn’t mean to do it. I make him so angry when I screw things up.”
Rather than squash the newfound lightness, Doctor Ward gave a tight smile, walked to her desk, and picked up a prescription pad.
Effexor – 500mg 1x per day
“I’d like for you to take these.” Ripping off the first one and handing it over, she wrote the second.
Xanax – 2mg 2x per day
She scribbled her signature on the bottom, and that one was given over as well.
Shelley squinted at the squares of paper. “Do you really think I need these, doc?”
“I’m not sure, but I’d like you to try them. They may help take the edge off.” Or at least help you get through the next couple of weeks. Still smiling, Victoria pulled her chair across the room and turned it so she could see the woman. “Tell me about your wedding night.”
Shelley’s eyes widened. “I… I uh…”
“It’s okay. No one will ever know what we talk about in here. You’re safe with me.” Bastard already has her terrified to tell anyone what really happens. Victoria felt her face get warm as anger vibrated up her spine, but she kept her features soft.
After a deep breath in and out, Shelley closed her eyes and spoke quietly. “We’d gotten a hotel room in a swanky place, and he’d bought tickets to a show. Since we were early, we decided to go to the hotel bar for a glass of champagne—you know, to celebrate—before we went to get something to eat.”
She chuffed, and a small smile appeared on her face. “At dinner, we had a bottle of wine. I’m not a big drinker, so by the end of the meal, I was feeling pretty good.” Her face turned bright red, and she twisted her fingers until they turned white. “We got our seats, and that’s when my stomach decided it wasn’t happy with all the alcohol I’d put into it. I knew I needed a bathroom—and fast.”
Tears suddenly poured down her face. “I got up, but I was too late. There was barely enough time for me to make it to the stairwell outside the main hall. It was all over me, my dress, and my shoes.
“I didn’t know where I was, so I wandered until I found a restroom. After I cleaned myself off, I found my way outside and went back in through the main entrance.” Snot ran out of her nose, and she sniffed. “S… sorry. I…”
Doctor Ward handed over a wad of tissues. “It’s okay. Take your time.”
Several nose blows later, Shelley nodded. Her voice had gotten much louder. “I knew I smelled awful. I mean, who wouldn’t? But I made my way back to my seat anyway.” Fingers that had been clutched together flexed open and closed, vibrating.
“Are you okay?”
She nodded but was breathing heavily. “It’s just hard to think about, you know?”
“I do. Take your time.” Malice brewed, bubbled, and burned inside the doctor; she had an idea of where the story was going. If James had been in the room, Victoria was certain she would’ve killed him on the spot.
Once the shakes quelled, Shelley sucked in air. “He’d sent me a text message asking me where I went. I didn’t have my phone with me—I’d left my purse—and he was furious by the time I returned. I texted back and said I’d gotten ill. Well, that was it. We left right then, and he stayed three steps in front of me the whole way back to our room.
“After we got there, I got undressed and showered because I was sure I smelled awful. When I came out, I asked him what was wrong. He just got in bed and rolled over. I was angry and frustrated. I went outside and smoked a cigarette, and when I came back in, I tried again. Still nothing. Of course, my idiot self kept talking.” Her words were coming out fast by that point, running together so it was difficult to make out what she was saying. She hiccupped. “I was so angry he’d reacted that way. Still, I kept trying to talk through it, work it out somehow, begging him to just talk to me. Eventually, he had enough. He got out of bed, grabbed me by the throat, pushed me up against the wall, and told me how much he hated me.”
Sobs tore from her throat, and everything else was garbled.
Doctor Ward leaned in to try and catch what was being said.
“I petted… touched… told… I loved him… I cried.” Shelley wailed. “It was my fault for embarrassing him and provoking him!”
White hot fury grew behind Victoria’s sternum, and she pulled the other woman into a hug. “Shhh… Just cry for a minute. You don’t have to talk any more right now.” Jaw muscles popping from clenching teeth, Doctor Ward rocked back and forth, providing what comfort she could through the rage that was trying to consume her. She pushed it down and focused.
Finally, Shelley relaxed, and her tears slowed as she lay back down on the buttery soft leather of the couch.
“Are you okay?”
She nodded. “I’d like to tell you the rest of the story, if that’s all right.”
“Of course. This is your time. You can tell me whatever you want, Shelley. Again, you’re safe here.”
“Thanks, doc.” Shelley gave a weak, half smile. “There were these beautiful, chocolate-covered strawberries the hotel had sent—because we were newlyweds. I threw those little fuckers at the wall one by one. Not once did he get up and say he was sorry. He just laid in that bed. Man, let me tell you, I was pissed, hurt, and my heart was broken. I got my stuff, got a cab, and went home. I bawled the whole way.”
“I bet you did.”
“It was our fucking wedding night, doc.”
“I know, sweetie.”
“Why? That’s what I don’t understand. If he hated me so much, why marry me? I’m not a horrible person, right?” Shelley needed validation for her feelings, that much was clear. She was begging for someone to tell her she was worth something without asking outright.
“You’re not a horrible person. You’re a very good person. Know how I know?” Doctor Ward asked.
Shelley shook her head, her eyes open wide, begging.
“Because you’re still nice.”
That brought on a smile.
Dear God. What else has he done to her besides that beating she mentioned, I wonder. Before Victoria could ask, the buzzer signaling the end of the session went off. She stood and popped the top with her hand. “I’m sorry, that’s our time for today. Are you okay to drive?”
Shelley got to her feet and gathered her garish, oversized purse, tissues still clutched in one hand, face red and swollen. “I’ll be okay. Thanks.”
“Same time next week?”
She moved her head up and down.
 “I want you to think about what happened after he came home. How you felt, what was said. We’ll talk about it next time. And take those meds. Be safe.” She guided Shelley to the exit and smiled.
After the door closed, Doctor Ward pressed her back against the polished wood and clenched her fists so hard her nails dug into her palms. She stared at the red carpet, wishing it was a pool of James Whitaker’s blood. It got worse, she was sure. Those stories were the tip of the iceberg, the beginning of the world of shit that poor girl was in.
Based on comments she’d made earlier in the session, the abuse had gotten worse mentally as well as physically, but only Shelley could shed light on the whole situation.
Victoria’s hand snaked back and clicked the lock. No interruptions. That had been her last appointment for the day, and she needed to do some research.
While she waited for her computer to boot up, she pulled out her script log book.
4581.034—S. Whitaker: 500 mg Effexor 1x day – 2 mg Xanax 2x day.
She reached down the front of her blouse and extracted the key that never left her person. Once the log book and Shelley’s notes for the day had been properly locked away in the filing cabinet, Doctor Ward sat at her desk and opened a private browsing session. Subject: James Harlow Whitaker.


What did you think?

Well, that's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!


Thursday, January 18, 2018

Author Life ABC's - A

Happy Thursday, everyone! Welcome to my new, twice-a-month Thursday feature, Author Life ABC's. Obviously, since this is the first, we're on the letter A. I thought about this one for a while, and I've decided to go with Achieve. Ready? Grab your coffee or tea, get comfy, and let's get going!

As authors, we're always trying to achieve something, make something happen, get into a good place with our writing.

I think it's important to bring up goals when talking about achievements. If you have nothing you're striving for, you can't achieve hitting a milestone, right? Right.

For the folks who've been around the blog a while, you're aware that I usually set my goals low because I like to celebrate the small achievements in my career. Those are usually gateways to bigger things, stuff I don't let myself dream about because I'm an easy one to fall off the wagon if I can't see a positive end to my journey. But that's just me. I dream small and try to do more than my goal.

When I started writing, my definition of success was set very low (in my eyes): I wanted to change the life of one person, make them look at the world in a new way, or have such a massive impact on them that they went out and did something amazing.

After all, this was never about money for me. While selling books is lovely, and reviews are awesome, I never expected to get rich and/or famous for the things I was writing. Still don't.

I wanted to change a life. Simple.

Back in 2014, I achieved that goal. I'm not going to say how or when it happened, but I will tell you that one incident changed the way I looked at my career from then on. There was no longer a burning need inside me to create words that changed minds. Instead, from those books emerged my true author self. I found my voice.

I now write to entertain and educate while still examining the human condition however I can. Characters are put in impossible situations and area asked to make a choice. It's fun and so very rewarding.

My achievement in one area of my career led to new, exciting things for me.

Over the years, I've had other goals, and still do, but the biggest one was met, and I consider myself a success. No matter what happens from here on out, I have that to hold on to.

Sure, there are other things I'd like to achieve, but nothing will ever compare to that one thing, and nothing will ever replace it. It's my most cherished achievement.

In order to be successful, you first have to define that for yourself, in whatever way you choose. Writing is your career, and you need to feel as though you're doing whatever you set out to do, achieving those goals, no matter how simple, or silly, they may seem to other people.

That's what I'll leave you with today. Go define success for yourself.

If you've already achieved that goal, drop a comment below telling me when and how it changed your life.

Well, that's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!


Wednesday, January 17, 2018

How to be a TOTAL LOSER Meal Plan Post - Number One

Happy Wednesday, everyone! So, you've read my book "How to be a TOTAL LOSER," and you're working on your meal plans! That's great! I'm excited for the journey you're on. This post is a little refresher on what not to do when you're cooking your awesome fare. If you don't have the book yet, what are you waiting for? You can get it on Amazon here or directly from my website here (if you buy from me, you'll get SIX new recipe cards every three months--free). Ready? Grab your coffee or tea, and let's get going!

These are just a few tips on items you can use to replace those calorie-heavy ones you might be using today.

Say your meal plan for the day looks like this:
Breakfast - Apple Pie Overnight Oats
Snack 1 - 1.5oz Peanut Butter and 6 Crackers
Lunch - Tuna sandwich with lettuce and tomato, an apple, and 3 stalks of celery
Snack 2 - Carrots and ranch dressing
Dinner - Steak, mashed potatoes with gravy, steamed broccoli, and peas
Snack 3 - 5 cups of popcorn

Now, that's one hell of a great meal plan, but it's what goes into those foods that you need to watch out for. Let's examine each one separately.

Apple Pie Overnight Oats
If you're using honey or sugar to sweeten, try using a whole, mashed, very ripe banana instead.
Rather than just using plain yogurt for the creamy article, use low-fat Greek instead.
Instead of whole milk, add 2% or some yummy unsweetened vanilla cashew milk.
Using these substitutions can cut half the calories of the meal while still giving you the dairy, whole grain, and fruit you need.

Snack 1
1.5oz Peanut Butter and 6 Crackers
Go for a chocolate peanut butter smoothie (the recipe is in your book) instead, get the peanut butter you're craving, and save over 300 calories.

Tuna sandwich with lettuce and tomato, an apple, and 3 stalks of celery
If your carbs for the day were met by breakfast, try putting your tuna into the lettuce instead, and topping it off with the tomato. If not, be sure you're using whole-grain bread (you need the whole grains in your diet, but oats are also whole grains).
Don't peel the apple, the peel contains most of the vitamins.
Use fat-free mayo for the tuna. Get a good brand, because the generics taste horrible.

Snack 2
Carrots and ranch dressing
Carrots! Yay! Swap your ranch for the calorie-and-fat-free variety (it actually tastes really amazing), or grab the new Greek low-cal dressing, and save about half the calories of the other stuff.

Steak, mashed potatoes with gravy, steamed broccoli, and peas
Grill the steak, and leave off the butter (use heavy seasoning instead).
Bake your potatoes rather than boiling them, and then crack them open, leaving them naked (no butter or milk).
Use pre-packaged brown gravy mix that you can season to your liking (when you make brown gravy at home, it adds a TON of calories because of the oil and flour you have to use). Pour over the potato!
Don't put anything on your veggies except a little salt and pepper.
If you do these things, you'll cut more calories than you realize (you're using your app, right?).

Snack 3
5 cups of popcorn
If you're not using an air-popper, you should be. There's one on Amazon that works in your microwave and it collapses for easy storage, and it's not expensive at ALL. No oil or anything is required. I love mine. Salbree is the brand name, and I got non-GMO organic Jiffy Pop to go in it (remember that thing about corn and GMOs from the book? Yeah...).
Five whole cups is packed with whole-grain goodness, and it's just 31 calories per cup, popped.

 Those are just a few hints you might find useful when prepping your meals!

What do you think? Anything to add?

Be sure you've requested the spreadsheet that goes along with the book. It'll change the way you do everything!

Well, that's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!


Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Living in the Authorverse

Happy Tuesday, good people of the blogosphere! Is it Friday yet? Ha! Just kidding. We have four whole days of awesome ahead of us; keep it up! You're going to do great things this week! While you're here, why not read through my rambling post for a few minutes? I'm gonna talk about living in the authorverse; you know, that realm where all the writers dwell, silently waiting for their chance to jump into the spotlight in some way or another. These are things I've learned over the past six years. Ready? Grab a blankie, and let's get going!

1. Authors are a Rare Breed
Seriously, if you've never met one of these formidable creatures in real life, you're missing out. One minute they're shy and hiding in a corner, and the next minute they're blowing your mind with their knowledge base, talking to you like you've been chummy forever, and breaking out their (usually pretty bad) dance moves from the 80s. Of course, that outgoing behavior may be alcohol related, which brings me to my next item.

2. Authors are Prone to Drinking Massive Quantities
This is something I didn't know was a thing until I attended my first author conference. These ladies finally get out of the house, sans kids and husbands, and go all out. I watched someone literally fall all over herself (and the floor) that year. It's related to a taste of freedom, which brings me to my next item.

3. Authors are Chained to Their Laptops
I'm not kidding. Getting an author away from the computer is like prying a lollipop out of the hand of a toddler. Whoever referred to something easy by saying it's "like taking candy from a baby" has obviously never tried to take candy from a baby. Authors are the same way. Threaten their computer, and you may just get stabbed. This is because our laptops are literally the surrogate mothers of our children, the bearers of our blood, sweat, tears, and time stolen from our human families, which leads into item four.

4. Authors Treat Their Books like Babies
You've probably heard the term "My Book Baby," but did you ever wonder why people say that? Well, it takes nine months to grow a baby, and it takes nearly the same amount of time to write and publish a book (for most people). You care for it and feed it as it grows, clean it up, dress it properly, and then thrust it into the public eye for criticism. Can you imagine if someone took one look at your actual baby, turned to the crowd, and announced that it was the ugliest kid they'd ever seen? You'd be crushed. This is how a one-star review can feel, and it leads to item two on the list above. But when said author has nothing but three stars and up, it sometimes leads to item five, however, I've found that lots of praise isn't necessary to create this mindset.

5. Authors are Divas
Duh. They have to be. They're required to sing their own praises from dawn to dusk. No one is going to buy a book the author says sucks. I mean, if all authors were self-depreciating, this authorverse would be a very bleak place, indeed. So, we're a little stuck-up and demanding sometimes. You can't be told that you have to sing your own praises every day online but then must behave humbly in person. It doesn't work that way. I've never met an author who sold a book by calling themselves crappy writers. Just saying.

6. Authors are Spacey
Yeah, we really are. We blank out on people. Not because we want to be rude, see, but it's because we're all about the stories, and sometimes, inspiration or ideas hit us when we least expect them to. We're not ignoring you; we're plotting (yes, sometimes, it's your death as a character in the book, but it's fiction! Remember that. We don't really kill people [or do we?]) what will happen next in the story. Real life is hard on us, but we can interact! You just need a little patience (or some booze--see item two). You won't find spacey characters in our books, usually, because we like to write what we don't live. This leads me to the final item, number seven.

7. Authors are Normal People with Imaaaaaaaginations
Darn good imaginations! No, we didn't really fly a spaceship to Mars or engage in a threesome with the neighbor; but if we write it well enough so you believe we did, we've done our job! We're here to entertain you and make you feel as though what we wrote is believable and could actually happen. Don't assume we've done the things we've written about in our books or that our brains even work that way. Remember, we're stepping into the character's shoes for our novels, and we see and experience the world as they would if they were real. We don't have to actually take part in something to understand what it might be like.

So, if you meet an author in the wild, approach with a smile, tell them how excited you are to know about their books, excuse any blank outs or crazy behavior, don't assume our lives are the stories we tell, and try to remember that we're showing you, and talking about, our cherished children. We'd love it if you didn't call them trolls. With a megaphone. On national television.

This, my friends, is living in the authorverse. Know the rules. Be the exception!

Do you have anything to add?

Well, that's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!