Friday, May 27, 2022

Author Interview - Midnight Pages by Diane Riis #AuthorInterview

What’s your one line pitch or teaser for the book?

Can’t sleep? Maybe the night has something to tell you…

Tell readers a little about your main character or characters?

Since this is nonfiction, I can say that the reader herself is the main character. She will write a travelogue as if the night was a place or a journey. She will keep a Book of Hours, sitting in vigil and writing every hour in a devotional format. She will take on the practice of writing Midnight Pages, which is morning pages for insomniacs and night-lovers. 

Deepening her writing with prompts and ideas, the reader becomes the subject of the workbook and the night becomes her blank page.

Where do you like to write? Do you have an office or writing nook?

Oh, yes, I have an office. It’s painted Gryffindor red and has a mural of Hogwarts on the north wall. The furniture is dark and antique and books are stacked everywhere. It’s a little dark, but cozy and the minute I sit at the library table in my Harry Potter office, everything else melts away. 

What is one of your best marketing tips for other authors? 

Do it YOUR way and be yourself. I have a client who used Facebook and Linked In to sell her book, another took herself on a live book tour all over the U.S. Another woman threw herself a red-carpet event and had major corporate and other sponsors pay for it. Who are your contacts, what is your niche, who are your people? Let your intuition lead you.

What websites or tools have you found that offer the best results?

I love Bewitching Book Tours, and I’m having success using email marketing as opposed to relying on social media platforms which can change the algorithm and make your audience vanish without warning.

Any advice for aspiring writers?

So much! I work with women writers, especially those who want to -- but haven’t started writing yet – and they don’t know why. It’s a form of writer’s block and I love to help them see whatever fear is freezing them can be tamed. I could go on, so please tell me if you want me to!

Thank you!

Midnight Pages 
Mystical Inspiration and Writing Prompts for Writers, Insomniacs, and Night Owls 
Diane Riis 

Genre: Nonfiction, Self Help, Writing, Journal, Workbook 
Publisher: Earth and Soul Publishing
Date of Publication: Feb 2, 2022
ISBN: 9798985131000
Number of pages: 370
Word Count: 25,000

Cover Artist: Book Designer: Andrea Schmidt,

Tagline: The night has something to tell you.

Book Description: 

Midnight Pages is a workbook of magical prompts and creative writing exercises. It is also the antidote for anyone who has ever tried (and failed) to get up early to write morning pages. 

Embrace your nature! Whether you do your best work at night or you’re going through a bout of insomnia, you will deepen your writing practice and learn to listen to the voices of the night. 


WRITING PROMPT From Midnight Pages:

Close your eyes. What do you hear, smell, taste? What do you sense at an energetic or intuitive level? Spend some real time. Find at least twenty-five things. When it gets hard to add to the list is when it gets interesting…”



Vigilantia: lying awake, sleepless, vigilance. The silence and stillness of midnight might feel suffocating, dense, and thick—heavy with foreboding. It might have you lying in bed, heart pounding, afraid of the dark.

Under the cloak of night, your hearing is heightened. Sounds startle you awake as you drowse. Your mind can ramp up: haunting memories, recriminations, regrets, and stuck thoughts keep you from your rest. Some “insights come up as well and sensations: the surge of adrenaline, pricklings on your neck. You might feel the weight of the dark bearing down on you or you notice movement in the shadows. Maybe you have the sense you’re being watched. Something lurks in the dark that’s imperceptible during the day. You might feel like you are not alone, and that subtle presence over your shoulder seems familiar. You wonder if it’s been there before, maybe even always. During the day, with music blaring and people talking, you just don’t perceive it. Ask what message all this has in store for you. Don’t reject what you hear. Don’t dismiss. Allow.

Night belongs to the spirits. –Proverb

About the Author:

Diane Riis is author of five books and owner of Earth and Soul Coaching and Publishing which works with Indie authors, writers and magical practitioners who want more joy in their lives. She is a metaphysical minister and witch offering spiritual direction (which is a process of reflecting on your journey and learning to observe how you participate in your personal spiritual framework.) She offers writing coaching and classes as well as High Vibe, Soul Deep writing workshops and retreats for women who understand the power of the collective. Rev. Dr. Diane owns and operates a remnant flower farm on Long Island, NY all the while raising dogs, cats, chickens and a boy.


Thursday, May 26, 2022

Author Interview - Arrow’s Flight by M. B. Sträng #Fantasy #AuthorInterview

What’s your one line pitch or teaser for the book

–A young woman of mysterious origins has been touched by tragedy andshe is joined by knights and magick-crafters as she learns to know herself.

Tell readers a little about your main character or characters?

–I tried to write the entire book in third person but found that Arrow’s voice came through best in the first person. I connected with her better. At first, she isn’t what people assume her to be. I had to work on the pacing to make sure I didn’t reveal too much at a time as she goes through to process of knowing herself.

Where do you like to write? Do you have an office or writing nook?

– I usually write at my desktop computer in a quiet room upstairs, but I have a laptop now so I can write on the front or back porch in nice weather or join my husband in his office space. 

What is one of your best marketing tips for other authors? 

– I’m not a marketer and promoting my book has been frustrating. I’ve found that it’s best to set a budget think carefully before spending because there are a lot of people out there who want to make money marketing, but they don’t have your best interests at heart. 

What websites or tools have you found that offer the best results?

 – As far as marketing goes, my fellow authors have told me that word of mouth goes a long way to promote your book, but you must be patient. As for the mechanics of writing, I’ve found Pro Writing Aid to be invaluable.

Any advice for aspiring writers?

–I had a professor who said writer’s block is a refusal to write, but that’s nonsense. Writer’s block stems from a fear of being criticized. Create a rough draft, password protect the document if you want, and write all your ideas in the draft. No one else ever need see it. Doing this eases the fear of criticism. Also, love the process of writing. Let your mind wander and try out new ideas. Enjoy the feel of your fingers on the keyboard or the pen gliding across the paper. Delight in what your mind shows you. 

Arrow’s Flight
Knights of the Pearl Order 
Book One
M. B. Sträng

Genre: Fantasy
Date of Publication: 02/17/2022 
ISBN-13: 979-8418478887 
ISBN-13: 9781005631352 
Number of pages: 277
Word Count: 99,600 
Cover Artist: M.B. Strang

Book Description:

An unknown menace moves through the polite society of Pearl’s Holding. If not caught in time, it will bring down not just the hallowed Knights of the Pearl Order, but also everyone who lives and works with them. The answer lies with a young woman of mysterious origins whose life has been touched by tragedy. To fulfill her potential, she must confront her past and discover a future more amazing than she’d ever imagined and find the inner strength to fly.

She’s not alone. A handful of Knights, a hearthmage, and their magickal companions all test their physical and magickal limits to make things right before it’s too late. Otherwise, dark forces will overtake the Knights for good.


Beads of sweat rolled into my eyes, and I used the back of my wrist to wipe my forehead as I continued to cut flesh from the lamb’s carcass. The task became difficult as my knife had dulled over the years, and there was no way to sharpen the blade. Scraping it over a rock seemed to make it worse, not better. Taking the animals thumped guilt into my heart, but I didn’t think that the people in the valley would miss them much and I was tired of eating fish. Only once had one of them ventured anywhere near my cave, but he never came close enough to find the bough-covered entrance. I hid, just like my mother said to do. The man soon left, but I’d stayed hidden for hours.

Rumbling filled my belly, and I sliced at the flesh with greater determination. Figuring out how to make fire had come naturally. As for the rest of it—what my parents could do, but I had not yet learned—well, Mama and Papa were not here to teach me. And besides, Mama said to keep it hidden. Some, especially the Brethren, would kill us for what we were.

“Mama said to hide.” I spoke out loud to myself. It had been a long time since I’d heard another voice, but at least I could hear my own. My cave was too far from the valley to hear the people there. The few times I ventured close to the hamlet, I heard their language was not my own native tongue. Suspecting I had lost some words, I spoke more often now, and practised all the languages I knew in order to not forget more, and so my throat wouldn’t lose the ability to speak. I talked to Mama and Papa, wishing they were here. I visited Mama out there in the woods. Just bones now. I had taken the arrow out of her ribs, broke off the shaft, and wore the arrowhead on a cord woven with her hair. It was my way of taking my mother with me, keeping her close.

Heat flushed my forehead. That had been happening more often lately. Despite the warmth in my brow, I shivered. Waves of dizziness washed over me. I finished with the lamb and cleaned the knife on a bit of parchment, one of several scraps I found floating down from the sky one day. A piece had drifted across my face, and I glanced up to see what appeared to be a book flying by. The dropped parchment was no less strange: ornate script scribbled all over in green ink. I had grown tired of trying to decipher the bizarre symbols, many of which different than any of the languages I had learned to read, and found other uses for the parchment pieces.

And now I used another sheet as a mop for my sweating head.

Sitting back on my heels, I clutched the arrowhead in my fist. Once more the events of that long-ago day forced themselves into my mind. That terrible day when a man appeared on the ridge. The sun behind cast him in silhouette, and we could not see his face. He wore the dull robes of the Brethren. They billowed, though there was no breeze. His limbs writhed and twisted and cloth rent as wings thrust out, the man’s body distorting until it resolved into a white wyrm, like a dragon but certainly not a dragon. A foul stench emanated from the beast, and I started to gag.

I saw my father struggling. I knew what he was trying to do, but he could not do it. I knew why my mother could not do it right now but why couldn’t my father? Before they had a chance to ready weapons, the wyrm flapped its leathery wings and issued a bone-jarring shriek. Lightning spewing from its terrible maw, past its narrow, gleaming teeth. That creature took flight, swooped down, snatched up my father in its talons, and carried him away.

“Teban!” My mother screamed my father’s name over and over that the word may reach his ears and give him hope. She fell to her knees, wracked with cries of anguish. Clasping me tightly, she held me for what seemed like a long time, both of us sobbing violently. At last, she gained control of her breath and said, “Quosa, I must go after him. I will get your father back. You must hide.” She stood, and shaking her head, she said, “It must be because of the signatures. That’s why he couldn’t—” Her words broke off as we saw another one of the Brethren approach. She screamed, “Hide!” as the man loosed the arrow that lodged in the middle of her chest.

About the Author:

M.B. Sträng has been happily married to Timothy for over 33 years and they are the proud parents of a Biologist who has earned a Master’s degree. M.B. recently worked at a domestic violence shelter, but now writes full time. She has black belts in two martial arts and occasionally teaches self-defence classes. She enjoys writing (of course), painting, drawing, sewing, and embroidery. At the age of 53, M. B. learned that she is autistic, and suddenly her whole life made sense. She fences with messers, longswords, sabres, and arming swords and bucklers fairly regularly at the Ann Arbor Sword Club, and is a Knight-Magister in the Order of Paladins. Arrow’s Flight is her first novel.

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Cover Reveal: Little Writer by Marina Hill #CoverReveal #LittleWomenRetelling #ClassicsRetold

Little Writer
Marmee’s Girls
Book One 
Marina Hill

Genre: Historical fiction
Publisher: Evergreen Books
Date of Publication: November 1, 2022
Paperback ISBN: 979-8-9862908-0-5
eBook ISBN: 979-8-9862908-1-2
Cover Artist: Marina Hill

Book Description:

A retelling of the classic coming-of-age story Little Women through the intimate lens of Jo March.

It’s 1862 and fifteen-year-old Jo March would rather be fighting in the war, like her papa, than improving her knitting skills on the home front. But societal conventions for the “gentle” woman—and her steadfast adoration for her three sisters—force Jo to stay behind and support the family, all the while rolling her eyes at Aunt March and daydreaming of becoming a famous author.

At home, love abounds in the March girls’ lives in the form of family, friendship, patriotism, religion, and—to Jo’s chagrin—romance. As each sister navigates their ascent into adulthood, Jo unwittingly ventures down a path of self-realization, using her gift of written prose to craft her voice, and thus, her truth. Perhaps, just maybe, she can strike balance between the freedom of independence and the warmth of partnership…

In this visionary adaptation, Little Writer tells the March sisters’ timeless journey to womanhood with a multiracial cast of characters, reimagining history to include diverse communities without elaboration.

Amazon      BN


The theater is such a grand building, with gilded designs and carvings decorating everywhere my gaze lands. I haven’t even seen the play yet and I’m impressed. I wish I could run my fingers over the golden carvings. I can dig up stories hidden in the curves and grooves.

“I knew you’d like it,” Laurie mutters.

I turn toward him, his black eyes glimmering as he looks at me. A blush runs up my neck. My arm tightens around his and I press my cheek to his shoulder for a moment. With a big family like mine, I’ve never been able to be me and only me. I’ve always been Josephine March—sister of Amy, Meg, and Beth. Never Jo March, writer of phenomenal stories. The love and affection

I’ve received have been a dished-out serving, for my sisters need some, too. It’s all the same, tailored ever so slightly for each of us.

But being friends with Teddy… it’s the first time someone is thinking of me—and only me.

The theater invitation is almost enough for me to feel every bit of my individual self—but I cannot shake the guilt. Amy wanted to come so badly and I was so harsh. I was trying to teach her manners, for it is improper to invite yourself places. But in turn, I forgot my own. It’s easy to lose the little amount of hold I have on my temper when it comes to my sisters.

Despite the sparkling elves and princes and princesses, I can’t enjoy the play the way I want to. Also because Laurie’s rowdy friends are often hushed by other guests.

Amy and I argue the most out of our family. I think it’s because we’re both the most passionate. Her with her art and propriety. Me with my writing and books. I try with such strength to tame my temper; I fail most of the time. When anger flares in my chest, I must get it out lest it burns me alive. In turn, it burns other people. People I care about—like Amy.

Oh, Amy. In the middle of the play, it takes everything I have not to run home and apologize.

“Teddy,” I say once the play is over and we walk into the lobby. “I don’t have any money with me. I was wickedly cruel to Amy before the play and I feel terrible. I want to buy her chocolate from the concession stand. I’ll pay you back the moment we return.”

With a gentle smile, Laurie pats my hand and walks toward the concession stand. Meg places a hand on my shoulder.

“I’m proud of you,” says Meg.

“I was trying to teach her,” I say.

She nods. “I know.”

Off to the side, one of Laurie’s friends—Ned, I believe—makes obscene gestures and poses with a statue. An employee reprimands him and Meg and I turn away, lest we be seen as part of his group.

“Must his friends be so abominable?” Meg asks, earning a snort from me.

About the Author: 

Marina Hill is a writer and artist with unconventional tastes; she craves the undiscovered and the ignored. If she isn’t daydreaming about her next story, she’s studying history or yearning to dash into the forest, build a farm, and never look back. Marina never lives in one spot for too long and loves to travel with her husky she named after Aang’s flying bison, Appa.

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Guest Blog - Wild Creek Whispers by Cindy Keen Reynders #Mystery

I absolutely love gardening.

When I lived in Utah, I maintained a large plot with corn, beans, potatoes, peas, onions and other growing things. I grew chrysanthemums, roses, marigolds, petunias and much more. When we moved, I hated to leave my plants. As military spouse, you get used to leaving behind things you love and looking forward to a new adventure.

We traveled overseas to Misawa Air Base Japan, where we lived in base housing. I no longer got to play in the dirt, because the yardno longer belonged to me. I had to satisfy myself with the iris bulbs someone had planted around my unit. They flowered in the spring, creating a riotous show of lavender color.

While in Japan, I gave birth to a daughter and a son, so that took up most of my spare time. Babies and gardening don’t mix, at least not in my world. Those little stinkers kept me plenty busy.

When we moved to South Dakota, once again the weather was great for gardening. We lived on base, but I managed to grow strawberries, raspberries, a few types of vegetables and tons of flowers in the long beds around the house.

Yet another move took us to Colorado, where I maintained a large garden with peas, beans, tomatoes, and even white pumpkins. I planted fruit trees galore and created my very own “secret garden” with a flowering cherry tree. I’d wanted one of those ever since attending a Cherry Blossom Festival in Hirosaki, Japan.

Unfortunately, I had to leave my special Colorado garden when I moved to my adopted home town of Cheyenne, Wyoming. The kids were mostly grown by now and my husband and I were splitting. 

That move took me home to be by my parents and other family members, which was wonderful. If you’ve ever been to the Cowboy State, specifically the southwestern corner, you know its dry and windy, making it very difficult for gardening. 

After settling in, I found a full-time job and began to live life in a small townhouse. I scratched out what flowers I could, but hail usually shredded them to pieces. My writing, however, began to blossom. I was lucky enough to find a press and they began publishing my books. 

These days I no longer grow a secret garden overflowing with vegetables and flowers. What I do grow are books, overflowing with thoughts, ideas and yes, descriptions of flowers, trees, mountains, waterfalls and all of the beautiful spots I can create in my mind. 

Wild Creek Whispers
Reese Golden Mysteries 
Book One
Cindy Keen Reynders

Genre: Mystery
Publisher: Camel Press
Date of Publication: April 12, 2022
ISBN: 9781942078524
Number of pages: 256
Word Count: 70,302

Tagline: A little girl is missing; stolen in the night. Reese Golden, Wyoming PI, will search far into the backcountry wilderness to find the truth.

Book Description: 

After being shot on duty, former Denver Police officer, Reese Golden, starts a private investigator firm in her hometown of Meadowlark Valley, Wyoming. Easier cases like skip tracing individuals and performing background checks pay Reese’s bills, and keep her from becoming too emotionally involved. 

Skylar Ellington calls Reese one day, pleading for Reese’s help in locating her 4-year old daughter Daisy. Law enforcement and any other PIs Skylar has hired haven’t located the child’s whereabouts.

Reese feels compelled to accept the case. The next day, she drives up to Wild Creek Ranch near Sage, Wyoming to meet her new client. 

Skylar’s brother Chance and her mother Leyla dislike Reese’s arrival. They fear Skylar is wasting her money by hiring another PI; that she’s setting herself up for more disappointment.

Reese wonders if Chance and Leyla have something to hide. Also, could Daisy’s absent father be the kidnapper? Local townspeople suspect Skylar of doing something with her child in order to resume her single, party girl lifestyle. 

As Reese investigates potential leads and talks with the locals, she realizes she’s being followed. It’s obvious she’s being targeted by someone who doesn’t want the truth about Daisy to be discovered. 

Despite attempts to keep her emotions in check, Reese becomes entangled in the case. Her attempts to remain focused on her goals are interrupted by several close calls where she is nearly killed, and her growing attraction to Chance. The handsome cowboy touches her heart, yet leaves her suspecting his motives.



“Miss Golden, my daughter was kidnapped in back in June, and it’s killing me not knowing what happened to her,” Skylar said. “The police, the FBI and everyone else haven’t come up with anything. And I’d do anything to find her.”

“I read about the case in the newspaper,” Reese said recalling the article in the Meadowlark Valley Chronicle. “I’m so sorry.”

 “Daisy’s only four,” Skylar said, her voice trembling. “She must be confused and upset. She’s all I can think about night and day. Pl-please help me. Don’t turn me down. Otherwise, I think…I think I’ll go insane.”

Reese closed her eyes as Skylar’s plea plucked at her heart strings. Right now, she didn’t feel confident enough to take on a case of this magnitude. Yet, how could she turn away such a desperate plea?

About the Author:

Born in Portland, Oregon, Cindy has lived all over the United States and spent five years in Misawa, Japan. She has visited Canada, the Philippines, Samoa, Hawaii, both the western and eastern Caribbean and New Zealand.

Currently, she lives in Cheyenne, Wyoming, where Cheyenne Frontier Days is held each year. CFD’s well-known rodeo is often referred to as the “Daddy of ‘em all.”

Over the years, she has won or placed in various writing contests. She has also written for and edited numerous newsletters. Her non-fiction magazine articles have been featured in “True West” and “Wild West.” She was a book critic for Storyteller Alley and is a freelance editor.

Although retired from Laramie County School District 1’s Community Relations office, she still contributes articles for the district’s Public Schools’ Chronicle, which has a circulation of approximately 46,000 readers.

In April of 2022, Camel Press released her seventh published novel, “Wild Creek Whispers,” which is the first book in the Reese Golden mystery series about a Wyoming private investigator. From baby alligators to glow worms, Cindy has seen a variety of life’s wonders.





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Guest Blog - Penumbra by Kevin A. Davis #UrbanFantasy #GuestBlog

A Thermometer in Surprising Places

I’ve recognized a reluctance on my part to adding a little heat to my plots, and the necessity of doing so. My first fantasy genre stories had plot driven attempts at romance and I kept as much off page as I could which only made them more awkward. Pop! A stork must have arrived because they had a baby.

Even in urban fantasy I keep a pretty low temperature going, but it is growing by degrees. A romance offers wonderful options for conflict, the chance to really torture your protagonist in heartbreaking ways, and scars that no one but the closest reader will ever know. A passionate moment can bring in warm resolution and a chance to recover, if we care about those characters. The actions and reactions in physical contact can speak worlds about an extrovert or introvert, a narcissist, or a person’s hidden dreams.

In the AngelSong series, Haddie has a slow burn relationship and it was fun to do, but still a lot off screen. 

My newest character in Khimmer Chronicles is Ahnjii Fate. She has a very open sex life offscreen, a difficulty with romance, and an arc to tie all that together. I still haven’t gotten my editor’s schedule, so there’s still time to stick a thermometer in there and decide if I want to turn up the heat.

Book One
Kevin A. Davis

Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Inkd Publishing LLC
Date of Publication: 2/9/22 
ISBN: 978-1737391432
Number of pages: 265 ebook, 300 paper
Word Count: ~67K
Cover Artist: Warren Designs

Tagline: The Next Rave Might Be Haddie’s Last.

Book Description:

Will Haddie’s power be enough?

Haddie has a power she doesn’t understand – the bizarre ability to move objects back in time – unfortunately not in one piece.
With all that she has going on, Haddie ignores Liz’s call. Later, when she listens to the message, the panic in Liz’s voice is unmistakable, the words threatening to be her friend’s last. Overcome with guilt, Haddie puts everything on the line to find Liz.

Someone, or something disturbing is hiding amid the colorful lights and music of Portland’s raves. Nothing could prepare Haddie for the supernatural creatures she uncovers in the search for Liz in the secret underground raves. Haddie races time to track down Liz before she becomes another victim.

The next rave might be Haddie’s last.


Haddie swore. No wonder Dad had been calling. “Tell her I'm fine. Just looking for Liz.”

“And Dr. Aaron?” Terry sounded relieved that she didn't go off on him.

“How do you know him?”

He swallowed audibly. “Well, I mean, he's been a constant in these demon groups. A bit of a fanatic. But I got worried, and asked if anyone had seen a friend of mine around this sighting. He messaged me immediately and started demanding that I put him in touch with you. Said he knew you from last winter. That was the ski trip, right?”

Terry had posted a description of her in the forums. It didn't matter. The fight outside the hotel had to have attracted some attention, though she'd had pink hair part of the time. She opened her mouth, about to ask Terry if he'd heard anything about the fight outside the hotel, and stopped.
Wilkins would be after her shortly. The FBI wouldn't just let something like this go. She'd killed someone, no matter the circumstances.


“Huh?” She stared at the building where the rave would be happening. She needed to find Liz.

Get past those guards.

“What about Dr. Aaron? Do you want me to give him your number?”

She did want to know about the demons. He'd been suspicious of her and her powers, and had disappeared right after the fight. “Yes.”

He paused and she could hear him typing. “So what's going on? Still haven't found Liz? I mean, this could be serious. The more I look, the worse it gets. Missing people, on top of the suicides. One mom swears her son is in a mental hospital because of these raves.”

That sounded about right. Whatever the song did, she could imagine it driving her crazy. “I'm about to go into the rave now. I'm hoping to get Liz out. I'll let you know.”

“You're alone?”

“Yes.” She'd rather have Dad with her.

She peered at the building where the rave would be. If the guards were looking for her, likely considering the attack at the hotel, then she'd have to scout for a back way in. Before, she'd planned on walking in as if going to the rave, then scoop up Liz — and Matt.

“Maybe you should just call the police.”

She thought of a swat team facing down demons or the fanatical yellow-hazed men, with Liz in the middle. “Not yet.” This needed to be quiet. She looked into the mirror at the spray of pinkish brown covering the right side of her hair and leaving a shock of white down the left side of her face. Not very stealthy, Haddie. Maybe she had a hoodie in the back from last winter.

About the Author:

Kevin A Davis writes fantasy, especially urban and contemporary. His urban fantasy series, AngelSong, can be found on Amazon, Audible, and Ingram. There might even be a few paperback copies in the rural bookstore that he and his wife own. His Khimmer Chronicles series will be available starting late 2022.

Visit his website and sign up for his newsletter at 

Download a free ebook of Shattered Blood at 

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Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Practical Advice for Beginning Writers with Avery Daniels #ParanormalCozyMystery

Hello, I am very excited to be here today.

My writing advise is something I learned early on.  I read an article by a romance writer that gave me some of the best advice I got.  I made notes on index cards and still have them to this day.  I don’t remember the author’s name, but this applies to any genre you are looking to write and cheaper than most writing classes.  It is everything from beginning writing to master class all in one.

The best teachers are your favorite books in the genre you want to write.  You take five (5) of those books that you really enjoy because what appeals to you is likely clues to how you will write naturally. Don’t make all five the same author, try to sample from at least three different authors.   Be sure the books are written in the last five to ten years so you are learning current writing techniques.  Now you are going to systematically analyze these books so you can learn from them.  This isn’t a copycat exercise, this is learning the craft of writing that specific genre by example.

Tackle one book at a time, read it completely through before starting your analysis of it.  If you read it more than a few weeks ago, reread it so it is fresh in your mind.  Get a binder with dividers to keep these five analyses in for easy reference.

After you have read through the book, go back and note the following:

How many chapters?  How many pages per chapter?

Summarize each chapter in a few sentences. Just the highlights.

Note how the author writes transitions.  How does the author end a chapter and begin the next chapter?  Is it the same with every chapter or are there different techniques used?

How are scene transitions handled?  Scenes are different from chapters.  Scenes are contained in one setting capturing a moment of the story.  Moving from scene to scene can be awkward so note those transitions.  One scene can be the main character with two friends, when another person joins them and the dynamic is changed, that is another scene.  But if the person joining is the point of the scene then it is all one scene.  Well done scene transitions can make the story flow smoothly while poorly done transitions can make the story choppy and clunky.  

How is an action scene (can be anything from actual fist fight to a verbal interaction) followed with a quieter scene? How are the scenes paced?  Get a feel for how the author ramps the reader up and then gives the reader a break and note how they accomplish it and where in the scheme of the chapters.  Notice how the length of sentences in an action scene are shorter.

Note what is the purpose of each scene?  What is it showing the reader, what is each scenes purpose?

How many words per paragraph?  This may seem silly, but long stretches of text on a page tends to automatically drag the story.  Notice how there may be only a sentence in a paragraph and at most 5 (?) sentences?  Notice the white space and how breaking up long paragraphs can make a difference.  

How many active characters are in the scenes?  How are they introduced for the scene?  What actions do the characters do so they aren’t just talking heads but interacting with the setting in some way? 

How is time and place indicated and used.  Just observe how they note the passage of time between scenes.  In Dan Brown’s book Angels and Demons, the entire book takes place in roughly twenty-four hours. Thus there is a tremendous sense of a ticking clock and it heightens the suspense. But it is a thriller, but what about your genre?  How is time used in this book?  What about the sense of place?   Gothic tales utilize the place to accentuate a sense of isolation and an undercurrent of danger – how do they show that?  How is weather used, the season highlighted, or the passing of time such as in a saga that takes place over years? 

Where are key plot points/surprises/reversals/reveals?  Roughly every eighth of the story there should be something to keep the pacing taught for the reader.  Take the total of pages and divide by eight.  Take that number and put a placeholder every eighth of the book.  If the book has 300 pages, then every 37.5 pages you should note what significant thing happens.  This is the important pacing of the story, spread out to keep the reader’s interest.  It may not be exactly, but around those placeholders.

Is there a theme?  A theme is simply the central idea or thread that the writing explores.  It can be anything from “family ties” to “secrets always haunt you” or “love conquers all”.  It is the high level concept. Harry Potter might be said to have the theme of confronting fears, or death and how it is handled, or acceptance and tolerance of others.  See, high level.  

If there is humor, how do they pull it off?  Humor is subjective and tricky, so how did this author do it correctly?  Was it slapstick or more dry?  Was it in dialog or a ridiculous situation?  How was the humor setup in prior chapters to make it funny when it is introduced?

How much action (from escape, a fight, sex scene, to any more physical scene with a faster pace) and where does it occur in the story.  After going through each chapter and the eight parts, you should be able to pinpoint where the big actions take place.  You may find now that you are in analysis mode, that you would have done things a little differently in placing the action or certain revelations.  That’s good.

After noting all that, now look for the following to write examples for your future reference:

Write down samples of 
Good dialog you particularly like
Descriptions of hero(ine)
Description of setting
Example of conflict in scene (overt or subtle)
Example of showing not telling emotions
The book description/blurb on the back (this will help when you have to write one) 

This isn’t so you can copy it, but as reference for technique.  You can turn to these samples any time and try to use the technique to help you through a spot you are working on.  You are looking for HOW they used these elements to create the book you greatly enjoy to help you develop your style and technique.

When I am going from writing a cozy mystery that is very tame to writing a gritty thriller, my analyses of my favorite thrillers helps to put me into the mindset for that genre.  I even have samples of how an author gives the reader a short break before another adrenalin moment such as observing the snow falling while the character processes what has happened.  I have samples of transitions and so much more.  

I hope you find this as beneficial as I have.  It has been a treasure trove of techniques and how-to for my writing.

First Bite
An Accidental Vampire PI 
Book One
Avery Daniels

Genre: Paranormal cozy mystery
Publisher: Blazing Sword Publishing, Ltd.
Date of Publication:  May 1, 2022
ISBN: 978-1-7355663-6-8
Number of pages: 298
Word Count:  57,425
Cover Artist: Molly Burton 

Tagline: What's a positive thought girl to do when she finds herself one of the undead? Recite plenty of affirmations and use those new toothy skills to assist her PI boss, of course.


In 24 hours, Misty Summers had the worst date of her life, was bit by a vampire, and her PI boss may close his business as he goes through a divorce. Looking on the sunny side, she decides to use her new vampire assets and become the investigator to keep her job and income. She doesn’t know what her future holds, but it can’t be any worse! When she starts following up on a missing woman’s case, she finds herself in the middle of murder. Even with her positive thinking and affirmations, she is finding her new reality daunting. But she vows to take a bite out of crime in her small lake resort town.

If you like Duffy Brown, Nancy Warren, Nova Nelson, Dionne Lister, Trixie Silvertale, and Leighann Dobbs, then you'll love this series with a quirky intelligent sleuth, small town lake setting, and tantalizing mysteries. Misty Indigo Summers is a positive thinking kind of gal and a most unlikely vampire and PI. 

Buy these fun and clean cozy mysteries and start enjoying Misty's adventures today!

Book Trailer:



“I never want to see you again.”  I slammed the passenger side door. Roger sped off in his red truck, his dragging muffler sounded like a tray of silverware ground in a garbage disposal.  That ended the date from hell.  He took me to a cheap restaurant, we saw the budget dollar movie, and I had to pay for my own popcorn.  I can understand being on a budget, truly, I get it. But then to get all handsy in a parking lot, right under a parking light!  He had the nerve to get upset when I said no.  I had to slap him.  When he slapped me back, I elbowed him in his jewels.  The complete jerk.   There was a sickle moon hanging lazily in the sky and a cool autumn breeze rustled the gold and russet leaves.  I walked faster to warm up.  I hadn’t brought a coat since I’d expected to be driven.  A gust whipped my hair across my eyes and I swept it back.

 I took a deep breath and wondered at the smell of autumn, the slightly sharp tang in the crisp air.  I wrapped my arms around myself.

The bright side was I stood up for myself and put an end to his assault.  Unfortunately, I’m stranded after eleven in a rougher part of town on a Sunday night with nobody around.  I wish I could strangle Roger’s pencil neck.  I can walk off my anger; we don’t have an Uber or such in the small town of Majestic.  I needed to recapture my positive vibes anyway, so a walk would do me good.  

Another positive item to the evening was I didn’t spring for a new or previously owned dress for the evening.  It would have been wasted on the moron, anyway.  I wore my deep purple sleeveless turtleneck and black pants.  It was classic and more than he deserved.  My best friend, Courtney, had assured me this blind date would be different.  Oh, it was different, all right, and not in a good way.  

I’ve never actually had a good date, not one single good memory of a date.  Tears stung my eyes.  Enough negativity.  I recited my mantra.  I am ready for the perfect man for me.  I am working on myself to be the person who will attract my perfect partner. After yet another disheartening experience, it’s all I can do to not blame it all on myself.  Nope, the right man is coming to me.  Yeah, okay.  I may be trying to convince myself more than attracting Mr. Right into my life.  I’m okay with that at the moment.

My low-heeled strappy sandals slapped against the sidewalk, an exclamation point with every step.  There wasn’t any traffic, and I had a couple of miles to go.  Other than my footsteps, it was quiet except for a dog barking in the auto salvage yard behind me. But I felt a presence and knew I wasn’t alone.  I sped up.  I was speed walking now and my heart pounded.  This really wasn’t a good area.  Majestic was a modest-sized town, just big enough to warrant two canines on the police force.  I didn’t want to find out firsthand about the seedy side of town.

Were those footsteps behind me?  I stopped abruptly. I heard a scuff, then nothing.  My senses screamed run, and even though my sandals weren’t the best for it, at least they were strapped on.  I grabbed hold of my purse strap to keep my purse with me.  I didn’t care how it looked; I took off running for everything I was worth.  My mind continued to yell, faster, faster!

One instant, it was a clear sidewalk in front of me, and the next I ran into a man who had just appeared.  My mind reeled at his abrupt materialization.  His eyes were strange; even in the dark, his eyes bore into mine.  I took my purse and aimed for his head. He moved so fast I barely saw a blur.  Next thing I knew, the guy was behind me, had pinned my arms, and was trying to give me a hickey!  

Worst day ever!  There just is no positive way to look at any of this night.  I struggled, scratched, and kicked but was losing my energy quickly.  I remember slumping to the ground. I think he was still attached to my neck.  I wanted to keep fighting, but I couldn’t even stay conscious.

About the Author:

Avery Daniels was born and raised in Colorado, graduated from college with a degree in business administration and has worked in fortune 500 companies and Department of Defense her entire life. Her most eventful job was apartment management for 352 units. 

She still resides in Colorado with two brother black cats as her spirited companions. She volunteers for a cat shelter, enjoys scrapbooking and card making, photography, and painting in watercolor and acrylic. She inherited a love for reading from her mother and grandmother and grew up talking about books at the dinner table. 

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