Write the (Un) Known                  Aaron D. Brinker


Write the (Un) Known

                                      by  Aaron D. Brinker


With writing, people have been told for years, “Write what you know.” In most cases, this is great advice. In other aspects, following this advice is limiting. Writing what you know and don’t know both have their advantages and disadvantages. There are a lot of reference books on writing that recommend writing what you know and protest writing what you don’t.


Writing What You Know

Writing what you know keeps you within your comfort zone. The best knowledge is first hand. If a writer has been exposed to the subject matter, they remember the sights, smells, sounds, feel, and emotion of the experience. Personal experience will always be easy to write about in the sense that the author can dictate from memory. They can remember what it smelled like at a bakery in Germany, or how the breeze felt and smelled at the peak of a Mountain.

An author who writes what they don’t know, will acquire knowledge and  will expand their horizons. If done correctly, writing about new unknown things will increase knowledge and lead the author to do in depth research. This can lead to more inspiration and new experiences and it will lead the work to be more credible.


An Author that only writes what they know, limits themselves from expanding their horizons. It keeps them in their comfort zone and in so doing only gives them a minute amount of “inventory” with which to work.

If little or no research is done by a writer writing about a subject they have little or no knowledge of, they tempt a massive backlash. Reviewers are quick to point out faults in a lot of cases. Trolls are prevalent online and are just looking for any ammunition available. Authors also rob themselves of knowing more to better perfect their craft. The misappropriation of information in a work by an author will decimate their credibility. Granted, with fiction there is some leeway, but not with common facts. If an Author is awful with Geography and tells a story about walking on the paved streets of Venice in Summer, it would probably lead to a few laughs and some irritation of the reader.

Expand your Horizons

For beginning authors, writing what you know is fantastic advice. It gets a foot in the door to learn the ins and outs of putting together a story and about the publishing process. For seasoned writers, do in depth research (and travel if you feel so inclined) to expand your mental and physical experiences. It limits you, and possibly your credibility, to stay within your comfort zone.



blog: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC2KHofPxtwH5LQpufT3KbHQ?view_as=subscriber

amazon: Author.to/aaronbrinker




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BOOK TRAILERS! by Bibiana Krall


by Bibiana Krall

Today I am tackling the importance of using book trailers as a part of a book-marketing plan, and are they worth it?

The question about needing book trailers came up yesterday on Twitter from my talented friend and fellow writer, Nina Romano. She generously asked me to share my blog post on her site to answer this question. Let’s talk about it!

To answer the title question, perhaps video doesn’t have quite that much power, but are we more inclined to look at visuals versus long text? Just take a peek at the ever-popular Instagram and you tell me!

As a consumer, I get bored easily, so if anyone makes something cool and short to watch, I usually check it out. Especially if everything else I see on a page has no color. I am like a butterfly and I see the bright yellow or red, I zoom on over to see what it is.

First of all, book lovers are people who frequently USE their imaginations. But, they are also people who use social media. More and more as modern people, we are all finding our products, services and even our life-mates online. How do you find what you’re looking for in the ocean of the Internet?

To me the Internet will always be visually driven, first and foremost. When we are online, a fabulous photo or even a bright splash of color will certainly grab our attention. Because I was curious about video and how this language translates to book readers, I viewed hundreds of book trailers. Trying to figure out what I wanted to do when writing and producing my own.

Some I watched were fantastic, some, fair-to-middling and other’s well… y-e-a-h. I am quite sure you have seen the, “yeah” batch I refer to with great chagrin. I wondered as I watched and researched this question, what did each author want to say, was it engaging? Did it turn me off for some reason or did it make me go crazy wanting to read the story? Were the authors’ part of the process or did they farm it out to professionals? Its pretty easy to see who was involved in the process and who wasn’t. It’s a complicated question to answer, but I will try.

I believe as a creative, you should consider all possibilities. But, I also think you have to look at each book or project individually and think about what visuals would grab your ideal readers and give them just enough of the story to excite them. Ask yourself honestly, would my potential readers even look at a video before deciding on buying this particular book?

If you are targeting a younger or a tech-savvier market, the YA crowd especially, you might want to think about doing it. My teenager watches YouTube constantly and I am pretty sure this is the norm for the majority, under the age of thirty-five. They have grown up with visual stories available at the touch of a button.

Do people over the age of fifty + watch product videos or head to YouTube or Vimeo to learn how to do or buy something? No, actually the numbers from my research say overwhelmingly, they don’t.

In order to answer this question, you must know whom you are talking to and if they will even be interested in a video, before you decide on the investment and time of making a book trailer.

Another point to consider is this, are you an Indie?

Indies that sell over 200 copies of any book are RARE. Do the math: If your book is $2.99 and you sell 200 copies. If you are selling on Amazon you might clear, $388.00, if you are selling with the 35% profit ratio. That’s not a ton of profit for a LOT of work.

If you are traditionally published, you stand to make more money and sell a lot more books. So, the numbers change in your favor, of course.

In order to really look at whether or not you need a book trailer, you must look at your bottom line. My suggestion is to think about making one midstream. If you are turning a profit and getting incredible reviews, say 25 or more in a progression, it might be a great time to consider making a book trailer. It will make you stand out and excite people, if its done well.

But, what if you only have a few followers, and no one except your great-aunt Sophie seems to care about your books? Please, please, please do not spend the money, because a book trailer is more for people on the upswing of the arc. Keep in mind a professional book trailer can cost upwards from $ 350-5,000.00 and take 3-6 months for delivery.

If no one out there is looking at your words, ideas or thoughts…trust me on this; they won’t look at your videos either. Sorry to be so blunt, but this is my personal experience and I am sharing it with you, because the one thing I know about being a working writer and wish everyone else out there knew, is that without each other’s real, honest support, and genuine community, we won’t make it.

Good luck with whatever you decide and if you’re curious about my book trailers, or books, take a peek at my YouTube Channel https://bit.ly/2BHQAnL

If you like what I’m doing, wont’cha help a girl out? Subscribe to my YouTube channel and let’s chat about it. I love to connect with like-minded writers and always appreciate a great conversation, especially about books, reading, innovation and the many challenges we all face in our writing life.

Until next time, find your Peace, Love, Hustle, then Read or Write. Xox Bibiana

Author Bio:

Bibiana is a small-town girl from the Midwest who left home at an early age and traveled the world. Eventually settling in a historic village near Savannah, Georgia. She made a nest, created a family and built a dynamic career with a passion for culture, travel and private aviation. She holds an MA in Fiction Writing and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Wilkes University CW. Bibiana writes novels, short stories, podcasts and screenplay adaptations. She sincerely hopes that you are entertained, and swept away, because after all…a story doesn’t come alive without you, the reader.

WWW.BIBIANAKRALL.COM Bibiana Krall Books | Barefoot Films

https://bit.ly/2BHQAnL  Cinematic book trailers on YouTube

Goodreads https://bit.ly/2slEHy3

Twitter https://bit.ly/2LczEHh

Amazon www.amazon.com/author/bibianakrall

Write Craft | Free Podcast https://bit.ly/2JiWZtd




Writing Paranormal Fiction by: Ken Stark

Writing Paranormal Fiction

                                                       by Ken Stark

So, what is a horror writer doing on Nina Romano’s blog?

Well, fear not, my friends! I may write scary stories, but I’m actually the nicest guy in the world. Of course, that’s what they always say about the next-door neighbor just before they discover bodies buried in his basement….. and it suddenly occurs to me that I might not actually be helping the point I’m trying to make.

(Ahem) Okay, let me start over.

Hello everyone, and welcome to my guest blog! Thank you for inviting me, Nina. It’s an honor to be here!

Nina and I have been Twitter friends since forever, and she thought I might pop into her blog to share a few words about writing paranormal fiction. Most of what I write does, in fact, contain some elements of the paranormal, but what I mostly do is try to scare the pants off of people. So if you don’t mind, I’ll co-opt her invitation and do my best to give a few tips to those of you leaning toward the dark side.

For me, there is only one rule for writing horror. Make it believable! As a writer, I can create any world I want and inhabit with whatever creatures suit my fancy, but my made-up reality has to obey the laws of physics of that world, and the characters I throw into harm’s way have to react to the weirdness as convincingly as you or I or Great Aunt Fannie. The suspension of disbelief falls upon me as the writer, not the reader, and the moment I break those laws of physics or a character behaves in a way that no rational human ever would, then the spell if broken and the reader is reminded that he is reading a book and not living an adventure.

Yes, you’re right. Every writer should be striving for such realism no matter the genre. But I want to scare the poop out of the reader, so what more can I do besides making it believable? Fear is the most primal of emotions. We humans are hard-wired to feel fear. I would even argue that a healthy sense of fear is how we survived as a species. We fear the unknown. We fear the dark. And most of all, we fear anything that intrudes on our familiar little world, and for good reason. Any early hominid not afraid of the creepy, multi-legged creature crouched between the rocks or who giggled as a slithering thing dropped from the branches of a tree would have been quickly removed from the gene pool.

Think about the last time you had a fright. Maybe you were watching TV and looked up to see a big, fat spider hanging over your head. Maybe you were home alone and heard the proverbial ‘bump in the night.’ Maybe it was something as simple as being engrossed in a good book and someone suddenly tapped you on the shoulder. Whatever startled you, it did so because it came out of nowhere to intrude on your familiar little world. It started your heart racing. Hormonal cascade of epinephrine and norepinephrine. Tunnel vision. Auditory exclusion. Hyperarousal. The classic ‘fight or flight’ response, if only for a moment. In short, it tapped into that very same primal fear that kept your distant ancestors alive.

When I write, I like to take an ordinary person in an ordinary town on an ordinary day and drop the horror right into his or her lap. No preamble, no foreshadowing, no alternate time-lines or aliens worlds; just an ordinary person going about his or her day until the world turns suddenly upside-down. And to go the extra mile, I like to show that screwed-up world through that one character’s eyes. No popping into the villains head, no watching the monster being created, no knowing what might be lurking down that dark alley. Whether it’s written in first person or third, I want the reader to discover every moment of the horror at the same time the character does, to feel what he feels and to know only as much as he, every step of the way. It can be a tricky thing to hold such a myopic viewpoint throughout a whole book, but if done right, the reader will identify closely with that main character and maybe even put themselves in their place, and that is the ultimate goal. After all, fear might be ubiquitous, but it is also a very personal thing.

And it’s just that simple, my dark-leaning friends. Of course, there are as many ways to make a story scary as there are writers inclined to do so, but for my money, nothing works better than taking the familiar and twisting it into the truly bizarre. But that’s just me. Write the story you have in your head and do it your way, and if you draw something from this to help you along, all the better.

And for those of you rather less inclined toward the dark side, I thank you for your indulgence. And thank you, Nina, for letting me crash the party! I had a blast! Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to pop down to the basement for a bit of, uh…..gardening.


The Evolution of an Author       by Susan Jean Ricci

The Evolution of an Author

         by Susan Jean Ricci


Ah, Romance…

Come enjoy the rapture of reading happily ever after, real-life stories, penned by authors who’ve dared to dream, taken risks to embrace love, and defy the odds of ever finding a soul mate.

My journey into the romance arena didn’t come easily, because I didn’t have the foundation for it until half a century of my life had passed, and I fell in love for the first time. My prior works consisted of political rants printed by our local newspapers, the injustices of how the physically challenged were treated by society (I have a handicapped brother, and this was twenty-five years ago), plus some mighty dark stories I’ll probably never publish.

I was, at that time in my life, a nonbeliever in romance – let’s leave it at that.

When my mother was dying from cancer after my second divorce, the bitterness left me, believe it or not, and my writing style changed. Without an outlet for my grief, I wrote an inspirational story about the beauty of life versus the ugliness of death, and submitted it to a contest in The Writer’s Digest. The piece won third place, and boosted me over the worst hurdle I’d ever had to scale.

Shortly afterward…

If I were to write a blurb about what turned my life around for good, it would go something like this:

“Twice divorced, cynical Cindy Layton feels like a relic with prehistoric baggage, and doubts she can muster the courage to establish a new relationship, even if it’s on her own terms.  Her journey out of the Stone Age hits freaky, hilarious turbulence when she joins an Internet dating service. The scammers and weirdoes she meets in cyberspace make Cindy want to crawl back into her cave, until she receives an accidental email from Jay DeMatteo.  Jay has the dating blues, too, but after meeting Cindy, reconsiders his options. Now it’s up to him to convince her it’s never too late to pursue a meaningful relationship, even when a couple is struggling with midlife adolescence.”

Yep, you guessed it – this is the blurb from my first novel Dinosaurs and Cherry Stems, a fictionalized, nonfiction, and award-winning story of how I met my third husband Joe. How we managed to meld together, despite our memory cemeteries (historical baggage), and enter into a marriage, a place where neither of us had ever thought to journey again.

Fast forward eight years – I’m a huge believer of writing what you know, sprinkling that knowledge with mystery, fantasy, and most of all, humor. The joy of writing romance only entices the muse if its prose is honest and pure. For that, you need a partner who loves and spoils you. The kind who makes you feel like a cartoon character skipping along to music, while delicate butterflies and doves fly around your smiling face. Finding a person who accepts you for who you are—the F word kind—Fun, Fantastic, and Fierce— sent my demons straight where demons belong.

I’m also blessed to have a wonderful and supportive group of fabulous friends on social media – authors who’ve invited me to participate in their collections and anthologies—people who’ve shared their not-so-fun histories with me and are precious to me.

Last, but never least, huge hugs to my loving husband Joe, a patient and talented man who never wavers when it comes to brainstorming ideas, editing, giving me a boost (or boot), whenever one is needed, but most of all, for his devotion to me. Without him, none of my books would exist, nor would I be the person I’ve become without his tender influence – a Romance Writer.



 Susan Jean Ricci is an International Bestselling & Multi-Award Winning Author.  From Women’s Pens Author and Humorist, Best Selling Author Susan Jean Ricci is best known for her Cindy’s Crusades Series, starring the hilarious duo Cindy and Jay DeMatteo. These cherished characters are first introduced in the novel Dinosaurs and Cherry Stems, and return to entertain you in the sequel The Sugar Ticket. Their mischief making continues in these shorts: Two Miracles for Christmas, A Valentine’s Day to Remember, and The Blind Seer.

Most recently, Ms. Ricci’s stories have been included in the Enchanted Romances – Magical Passion Collection, the Sweet and Sassy Weddings – A Time for Romance Anthology, Sweet and Sassy Valentine Collection, Sweet and Sassy Christmas – A Time for Romance Collection and the Unforgettable Christmas – Gifts of Love (The Unforgettable Book 3) Collection. Her novella When Sailors Play as part of Uvi Poznansky’s Bestselling Anthology Love in Times of War. Her other titles are offered in the following anthologies: Unforgettable Heroes – Unforgettable Passion, and Sweet Heat – Where Love & Suspense Meet.

Ms. Ricci’s Christmas stories and novellas have been published in the beloved Annie Acorn Christmas Treasuries 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016. Other selections appear in Annie Acorn’s 2015 Valentine Treasury, Annie Acorn’s 2016 Romance Treasury, and Annie Acorn’s Spirited Tales 2015. All may be purchased as stand alone stories, as well as other her titles, including those smoking, hot novellas available in Ms. Ricci’s catalogue, The My Sexy Chef Series.

Susan Ricci and her husband Joe live in a beautiful town near the sea, and when time allows, they love to travel. Together they have seven children and ten grandchildren.

Blog:  http://www.susanjeanricci.com/blog.php.

Facebook:   https://www.facebook.com/DinosaursCherryStems/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Susanjeanricci

Her books are available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and iTunes.

If you’re curious to know more about the books her darling hubby has inspired her to write (and there are many), please take a peek at her Amazon Author Site, or for more things Susan Jean Ricci:


Website Facebook Twitter

Time Travel—Fascinating Impossibility                               by Anna Belfrage


Time Travel—Fascinating Impossibility

                                                               by Anna Belfrage


I think most writers of historical fiction have moments when they fantasise about doing some time travelling – preferably in a controlled environment and with a return ticket. After all, those of us who write books set in the past have some sort of idea as to how grim and dirty and generally harsh life was back then. People smelled—a lot. They shared their beds with an assorted menagerie—everything from lice to mice. Antibiotics did not exist, while germs and lethal diseases most definitely did. And yet, despite all this, those of us afflicted with the time travelling bug wish we could. Time travel, that is.

From a purely scientific perspective, time travel must be considered impossible. Latest research (and yes, I am delighted to share with you that there are many, many hyper-intelligent scientists who consider the issue of time travel) has concluded that even if we could build a time machine, it could probably not transport anyone further back than the year in which it was built—which sort of defeats the purpose, unless we build it now for the benefit of future generations.

Albert Einstein did some theoretical thinking involving travelling faster than the speed of light and thereby catching up with your own past. Seeing as mankind is nowhere close to transporting anything – let alone ourselves – at the speed of light, the sad conclusion must be that Einstein’s theories are nothing more than theories and time travel is an impossibility. Unless we take into account those worm hole thingies. Or the negative mass of a black hole and its potential warping influence on time. My scientist son tells me we do not want to end up anywhere close to a black hole as chances are we’ll never exit it alive – no matter just how far backwards or forwards in time we ended up. Time travelling while dead holds little appeal, ergo best steer clear of the black holes. Which leaves us with time travelling by word – i.e. by writing (and reading) about it. The benefits of doing your time travelling while ensconced in your armchair with a good book are evident: you can do so with both tea and chocolate at hand.

Interestingly enough, writing about time travel – or time slip – requires a logical approach. Despite “everyone” knowing it’s not possible, readers expect some sort of plausibility. Yes, the eager time-slip reader is more than willing to suspend disbelief – but hates it when the chosen mode of time travel is irrational or inconsistent. Something of a contradiction in terms… Still, a writer aiming to transport the reader to the past via a time travelling character must keep this in mind.

Other than Diana Gabaldon’s famous standing stones (and as an aside, I must share that I have a very good friend who has travelled from one Scottish stone circle to the other at the “right times” – i.e the equinoxes and the solstices – in a determined effort to do a Claire Randall and end up 200 years back in time. Seeing as we have stone circles in Sweden, I asked her why she hadn’t tried those, which was a very stupid question to judge from her reaction: Swedish men of the past did not wear kilts or answer to the name of Jamie Fraser…) various mechanisms are in use. Authors can be very creative, but even here some logic must be applied. As one of my characters says: “Time nodes are points at which every now and then the fabric of time rips apart, through earthquakes, freak weather or volcanic activity.” Hector made a dismissive gesture. “The volcanic activity generally precludes anyone actually falling through the holes. You burn to death instead.” Which, if I may say so myself, is quite logical: no one survives bathing in lava.

Once the character has reached the other side, the writer has to manage another problem – their disbelief. You see, in contrast to the reader, who quite often has purchased the book precisely because it contains a time-slip ingredient, the poor character who has just been flung three centuries backwards will not believe his or her eyes. Nope.

“There must be something wrong here,” they protest.

“I did not sign up for this – I signed up for a fast-paced thriller in my own time.”

Well, dear character, what can I say? Writers are fickle creatures with vivid imaginations

that now and then take a huge leap into the unknown.

“What? You must be kidding me. Am I expected to deal with this s**t?” Reluctant time

traveller scowls and tries to look very intimidating.

“Yup,” replies the writer with something resembling a wolf-grin. The time traveller begs

and pleads. The writer just shrugs.


Writing novels with a time-slip ingredient is usually the consequence of the author’s innermost dream to visit the past IRL (In Real Life). Many readers (and writers, and agents) will scoff at the unnecessary device of viewing the past through the eyes of a modern guest. Others will squeal with delight and curl up on their sofa, more than happy to hold the time traveller’s hand as he or she deals with this new and frightening world. But whether you write “straight” historical fiction or “time travelling” historical fiction the expectations on the historical setting are more or less the same: to make your transition through time work you must have done your research. An avid fan may be more than willing to pretend time travelling is possible, but will likely throw the book across the room if you, as the writer, have got the basic historical facts wrong. Like zippers in 16th century England. Or potatoes in 10th century Ireland. What can I say? Readers are funny like that.


 Author’s bio

Had Anna Belfrage been allowed to choose, she’d have become a time-traveller. As this was impossible, she became a financial professional with two absorbing interests: history and writing. Belfrage has authored the acclaimed time travelling series The Graham Saga, set in 17th century Scotland and Maryland, as well as the equally acclaimed medieval series The King’s Greatest Enemy which is set in 14th century England.  Find out more  by visiting her website, www.annabelfrage.com or on her Amazon page, http://Author.to/ABG

Should you want to accompany Anna Belfrage’s most reluctant time traveller as she is thrown three centuries in the past, check out A Rip in the Veilhttp://myBook.to/ARIV1


A snippet from the novel: A Rip in the Veil 


“Reluctant?” Alex Lind places her hands on her hips and frowns.

“Of course, I was reluctant!” Yes, Alex was reluctant—until 17th century dreamboat Matthew

Graham entered her life. And where she was reluctant, he was hesitant: an oddly dressed and

badly singed woman found concussed on an empty moor smelled of magic—black magic.



A Year Like A Novel                                       by Caleb Pirtle III


A Year Like A Novel

                                      by Caleb Pirtle III


For a long time, I believed that end of each year was like the end of each chapter in the book of our lives. I don’t believe that anymore.

Take a look at the novels you have read. There is a basic plot. There is a basic set of characters who work their way in and out of scenes throughout the book.

Some good.

Some bad.

Some major.

Some minor.

Some hang around.

Some leave.

But we definitely know who the characters are. If life were the single book, I would have already forgotten most of the characters. They were important for a while. They have not been around for a long time.

Life has too many plots. A year only has one with intermittent subplots. Just like a book. That’s why I now believe that the end of each year is more like the end of a book that has 365 pages.

No more.

No less.

I figure 365 pages make a pretty good eBook. It’s not an epic. It’s simply a slice of life, and that’s what a year is to the book inside each of us.

The year had a little humor. I watched and heard my grandchildren say the darndest things. I laughed. I looked for reasons to laugh.

A little sadness. My puppy died. She wasn’t supposed to. But she did.

A little compassion. I lost too many friends. I had to hug too many necks. I had to dry too many tears. I had to say goodbye too many times. I cried too many tears in the dark when I was alone.

The year had disappointments. We still haven’t figured out how to sell books. But we may be getting close.

It had hope. I wrote two novels and am finishing a third.

Depressed? Write another novel. There is always hope that it breaks through. If not, the next one surely will.

The year had its share of characters. A few have been around for a long time. A few are what I would call real friends. And what’s a real friend? Country comedian Jerry Clower once told me that a true friend is one you don’t mind calling at two in the morning if you’re in trouble. They are the ones who would want you to call.

And the year ushered in a lot of new friends. I know your names. I know what you write. I read what you write. I live with you on Twitter. In emails. Through the words of your blogs. We may never meet, but I appreciate you, have grown accustomed to you, and would hate the face the rest of my life without you. Thanks for being there.

And the year had a theme. Life is hard. Life is not for the weak. Life goes on. And it should go on.

So another book, another love story, another sad story, another story of hope, another story when gunfire erupts anew.

The year is not a book that plotters would write. It would drive them crazy. No one sees the future. No one can outline it. No one knows who all the characters will be. We don’t know what will happen, when it will happen, or to whom it will happen. Who lives? Who loves? Who runs? Who dies?

That’s what makes the book of 2018 absolutely perfect for us pantsers. I’ll fly through it by the seat of my pants, as always, which is the way I write my novels. I don’t know what will happen next and I can’t wait to find out.


Author Bio

Caleb Pirtle III knew he wanted to be a writer the day he read his first book. Writing for him was never as much of a vocation as an obsession. Over the years, Pirtle has served as a newspaper reporter for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, travel editor for Southern Living Magazine, and editorial director for a custom publisher in Dallas. He has found the time to write more than seventy-five books and is currently writing noir historical thrillers set against the backdrop of World War II and historical fiction novels built around the oil-driven Boom Towns of the 1930s.

Pirtle has written more than seventy-five books, hundreds of magazine articles, and the teleplays for three made-for-television movies, including the CBS mini-series, Gambler V, Playing for Keeps. His Ambrose Lincoln series features Secrets of the Dead, Conspiracy of Lies, Night Side of Dark and Place of SkullsBack Side of a Blue Moon is the first novel in the Boom Town Saga series. In 2018, the novel won the Beverly Hills Book Award and the Best of Texas Book Award for Historical Fiction. His psychological thrillers are Last Deadly Lie and Friday Nights Don’t Last Forever. A Lovely Night to Die is his first thriller, a novella, featuring a rogue CIA assassin who is given the assignments no one else dares to tackle. Pirtle has written a Memoir of Sorts, The Man Who Talks to Strangers, and his newest release is Confessions from the Road, a collection of short stories he heard from those he encountered during his travels.

He is the award-winning author of XIT: The Life and Times of the American CowboyThe Unending Season, Where the Stars are Always Shining, Spirit of America, and Echoes from Forgotten Streets. His memoir of sorts, The Man Who Talks to Strangers, is an epistle that showcases the odd array of celebrities and characters he has known during his long career traveling the back roads of America – from Appalachia to death row, from paranormal ghost haunts to the stage of the Grand Ole Opry.

Caleb Pirtle lives in Texas with his wife, Linda, who is the acclaimed author of “The Games We Play Series.” Her first two cozy mysteries as The Mah Jongg Murders and Deadly Dominoes. They serve as book coaches, teach writing classes, and work with authors to professionally package their books.


Social Media, Business or Pleasure?    by Kay Latour


Social Media, Business or Pleasure?

                                  by Kay Latour


We live in a wonderful time for readers and authors. With the indie author movement more and more people are sitting down and putting their thoughts into words. Readers are becoming authors and that’s a good thing. Scratch the surface and everyone has gone through ‘stuff’. Our stories allow us to share with each other. For some it may serve as a cautionary tale and others it may be a reminder. In any case the important thing is we connect.

The platform of connection has changed in the last few decades with the introduction of the internet. Mutual interests led the way to form social media groups where people could exchange messages, posts, and videos despite living in different areas of the planet. We became mentally connected in ways we hadn’t before.

Why am I pointing out the obvious? Because today’s authors are expected to have a good grasp on social media as well as writing books. No longer can the author huddle in their writing den oblivious to the world around them. We must hit the ground running as we roll out our platforms on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Goodreads, and Snapchat. Connection is key.

If you are new to social networking I’m going to drop a little tale here about my first experience with Twitter. If you’re an old pro you can skip this paragraph. Still with me? Then here we go. Thinking safety in numbers, I called a friend of mine to join at the same time. We stayed on the phone with each other as we made our first tweet and then laughed at how proud we were to be able to retweet each other. I can still hear myself crowing, “It worked!”. Followed by a fit of giggles on both ends of the line. So, there you go. I put it right there in black and white. No embarrassment, just fun and instant connection. The same thing happened when I joined Facebook. Yup, more fun. Pinterest and Goodreads were a snap after conquering Twitter and Facebook. My platform and enjoyment expanded at the same time.

And then an unexpected thing happened. The social platforms turned out to be ‘interesting’. I was fascinated to see what other people were posting whether it be pictures, memes, videos, or products. I participated by sharing, retweeting, and liking their ‘stuff’. Social media became an enjoyable hobby as well as a way to promote my ‘stuff’. People connected with me from across the globe and I with them.

Some of my favorite things to share are jokes, chickens, dogs, cats, gardens, books, comics, Esty sites, fantasy, and evolve movements. I am always over the moon to share fellow author, artists, and musicians work as I believe that artistic endeavors are important to the growth of humanity. Whatever your interests, social networking is an enjoyable hobby that will also benefit your work.

So, jump in there. Call a friend if you need to but do it! And you may find like I did that in some cases, business and pleasure do mix.


Author Bio

Kay Latour resides in Ottawa, Canada’s capital city, with her Techie Wizard husband and two built-in-alarm-system Chihuahua’s.  She is a self-proclaimed geek and bookworm.  She loves fantasy, paranormal and science fiction stories in book, TV or movie form.  She patiently waits for the return of the science fiction series FIREFLY. Brown coats forever!

Early on she found out that her elementary school library contained amazing books like Grimm’s Fairy Tales, Hans Christian Anderson’s Fairy Tales and Greek myths.  The stories within spoke of goblins, witches, fairies, deities, giants and all manner of magical folk!  Incredible!  It struck a spark in her brain and stoked her imagination.  From that time on she gravitated to any type of fantasy, mythology, science fiction or paranormal book she could get her hands on.

Now that Kay’s two children have reached ‘the age of reason’ she has time to write her own stories.



Facebook Author Page – https://www.facebook.com/kay.latour.2015

Facebook Personal Page – https://www.facebook.com/kaylatour/

Twitter – https://twitter.com/kay_latour  @kay_latour

Website/Blog FAE AND WITCHES AND GHOSTS-OH MY! – kaylatourweebly.com/index.html 

Pinterest – https://www.pinterest.com/kaylatour/

Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/47638367-kay-latour

The Writer’s Toolbox                                        by Katie Oliver                                                          

The Writer’s Toolbox

                                                                                                                               by Katie Oliver


There are a great many “how-to-write” books out there. If you’re a writer, whether aspiring, published, or self-published, you’ll find shelves of reference books offering advice on everything from plotting and characterization to how to create realistic dialogue. They’re excellent resources on the craft of writing.

The problem is that one size does not fit all. There are those who swear by notecards, storyboards, scene-by-scene details. Others wing it with nothing more than an idea to get them started. Some write the ending first; others make it up as they go.

And really, any way is fine…as long as it leads to a finished, well-written book. What constitutes a well-written story, you ask? That’s where the writer’s toolbox comes in.

A book needs an inciting incident, a couple of major turning points, a dark moment of the soul, a denouement, and (for all but literary fiction), a happy ending. It needs compelling characters. Conflict. Emotion. It needs that certain something that sets it apart from all of the other stories out there. This is particularly true of genre fiction.

While a book needs a great cover, an enticing blurb, and a savvy marketing campaign, it’s what’s inside that determines whether readers will turn those pages and buy your next book, or put it aside and never pick it up again.

Some writers chafe at restrictions. They want to give free rein to their imagination and write. Which is fine for a first draft.

But study any beloved novel – Pride and PrejudiceWar and PeaceMadame Bovary – and you’ll find theme, symbolism, emotion, plot, and subplot (often more than one). But you’re not writing a fusty old classical novel, you counter? Doesn’t matter. The same principles – plot, theme, characterization, etc. – are present in modern published novels. Films, too. You simply cannot write a good story without utilizing these tools of the writer’s trade.

That said, here are a few tools EVERY writer should use.

Start in the middle of things. Something major and life changing is about to turn the protagonist’s life upside down. Things will never be the same again, and neither will your main character. It will take him or her the length of the story to figure things out, to grow and change along the way as a result.

Avoid clichés.  Don’t begin a story with an opening we’ve seen a thousand times before. Make your situations and characters unique and fresh.

Limit backstory. This relates not only to openings, but also to information dumps throughout the story. Details of your protagonist’s childhood, previous relationships, family background, etc. may be helpful, even necessary, to you the writer. But the reader will quickly grow bored. And you don’t want to bore your reader. Only provide background information that’s absolutely critical to the story.

Limit flashbacks. Use them only where necessary and keep them brief.

Build in conflict. In fiction, there’s no story without it. Conflict can be internal (I’m terrified of heights but I have to rescue my child from that high tree limb), external/nature (the road is washed out, I can’t get to the tree), or external/antagonist (my ex-husband disabled the car and stole my phone so I can’t call for help). You get the idea. Don’t ever make it easy for your main characters.

Consider theme as you write. It can be something as simple as “Love lost, love found” (The Great GatsbyGone With the Wind) or “absolute power corrupts absolutely” (Animal Farm,Macbeth).

Build in emotion. This is one of the first lessons I learned as a professional writer. Readers need to care about your characters, and without experiencing the highs and lows of their emotions, they won’t.

Establish a writing platform. You’ll need a platform to share your book on Twitter, Facebook, and/or Instagram. Social media is your best friend if you use it wisely.

And finally, promote your book. But do it the right way.

A greatmany  writers Tweet an endless stream of book links on their feeds. They rarely interact with followers. They don’t express gratitude to followers for retweets. They don’t support indie published authors. They Tweet to the same readers, the same bloggers, without ever widening their scope. Big mistakes.

Be supportive, and others will support you. Reach out. Talk to people (and not just about books!). Thank them for retweets. Be interested, and they’ll be interested in you. I set aside an hour each morning to respond to Tweets, Facebook posts, and to post to Twitter and/or my author page.

Being a writer is exciting. It’s amazing, exhilarating…and sometimes, exhausting. It can also lead to burnout.

But despite the ups and downs, despite the occasional setbacks and disappointments, there’s still nothing else I’d rather do.



Katie Oliver is the best-selling author of Prada and Prejudice and the Dating Mr Darcy/Marrying Mr Darcy series. She loves romantic comedies, characters who “meet cute,” Richard Curtis films, and Prosecco (not necessarily in that order). She currently resides in South Florida with her husband.


Website/blog: http://katieoliver.com/ko/blog/

Facebook Author Page: http://www.facebook.com/KatieOliverWriter

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/katiewriter/ – @katiewriter

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/katieoliver01/

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7565829.Katie_Oliver

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/@katieoliver01

Jane Austen Variations Author Page: http://austenvariations.com/aboutold/katie-oliver/




Prada & Prejudice  – myBook.to/Prada

Love & Liability – myBook.to/LoveandLiability

Mansfield Lark  – myBook.to/MansfieldLark


And the Bride Wore Prada – myBook.to/ATBWP

Love, Lies & Louboutins – myBook.to/LoveLiesLouboutins

Manolos in Manhattan – myBook.to/ManolosinManhattan


What Would Lizzy Bennet Do? – myBook.to/WWLBD

The Trouble With Emma –  myBook.to/TroubleWEmma

Who Needs Mr Willoughby? –  myBook.to/WNWilloughby


Writing Historical Mysteries by C.A. Asbrey

Writing historical Mysteries

By: C.A. Asbrey

History Quote

I was asked recently how to write a historical mystery, and even though I’m brand new at it I would imagine my approach is very much like everyone else’s.

Firstly, there are all the usual issues people encounter when setting a story in the past. Linguistic anachronisms can beam out of the page to those who know their period like a neon sign in a dark alley. People have to behave as they would have in the social stratifications of the time, and you absolutely must know the tiny details of how people lived and dealt with the minutiae of life. There’s no point in pricing something like bread at more than an average man would earn in a month. Nor does it help your story if you don’t know the basics on how your characters work, live, or play in whatever century you select.

I was once jolted out of a book because an eighteenth century aristocratic woman had been named ‘Holly’. That simply wouldn’t happen in England in that time period. Some of the non-conformist churches had a habit of calling their children non-traditional names, but the upper classes never did. The maid could have been called ‘Holly’ but her mistress? Never.

Civil War Actors

Anachronisms are easy to spot

History throws up many problems you won’t encounter writing any other kind of mystery. There are numerous pitfalls for the unwary. Not only do you have to build a believable universe, you have to put credible characters right in the middle of it and make them reveal the world you have carefully built by showing the readers their experiences. The reader needs to feel what they feel; the smell of the horseflesh, the clatter of the hooves, the sizzle of the cooking, and the creeping of the leeches.

Then there’s the speech patterns to think about. Local accents were stronger, with less exposure to strangers or the media to even them out. Slang and commonly used expressions can be quite impenetrable to modern ears. You can call someone a “dentiloquent bletcherous zounderkite” but you can make it clear what it means by the way people react to it.  Use slang and dialect lightly enough to create local colour, and leave the rest of the dialogue plain enough to be clearly understood. And bear in mind that what you think you hear may not be accurate at all. To this day there are thousands of Scots protesting that none us say ‘verra’ and never have; yet millions of people think it’s an accurate interpretation of the Scottish accent because it appeared in a well-known series of books. If you come from a different culture check with a local. It’s far too easy to get it wrong.  I certainly have and depend on good friends and editors to get it right.

A Boot Joke Cartoon

The answer is a simple as it is hard to achieve. Know as much as you possibly can about your subject, period, and characters. How did they do simple things like go to the toilet? Eat? Cook? WorK? What did they earn? What did the care about? Who did they defer to? How did they react to people who were different to them, or who failed to live by their social code? How did they wash and how often? Show this by having your characters do them in the story instead of writing descriptions about it. Also be careful that you don’t disappear down the rabbit hole when researching. It can be fascinating and engrossing and I’ve often looked up at the clock to find a whole day has gone by before I’ve realized.

Once you get over the problem of putting realistic characters in place and in period the mystery writer has another hill to climb. What is your mystery and how do you solve it? Of course we need to leave our path strewn with red herrings but they need to be historically possible too. What are the symptoms of poisoning and how did doctors test for them in your chosen period? How long would someone realistically take to die from a stab wound or a blow to the head? What weapons were available at that time and what evidence would they leave behind?

When you do your research make sure you know the source is absolutely credible and backed up by more than one source. The internet is full of inaccurate information and it’s vital to ensure the veracity of any facts you come across.

Just like any traditional mystery you need to assemble a cast of characters who include more than one credible perpetrator, more than one possible motive, and ensure that your detective in your chosen time period has the knowledge and the wherewithal to expose the murderer and prove the crime.

This whole post seems to throw up more questions than it answers, but there is an easy answer. Spend a lot of time getting under the skin of the people you write about and really know your subject. They say you should write what you know for good reason. When you have a good broad understanding of the period, do lots of research on each murder method, the evidence it would leave, and how that evidence would be interpreted in that era. There no point in choosing a poison which wasn’t detectable at the time and bringing in forensics which didn’t come in until later will definitely result in comments from readers.

At the end of the day you have to look at whether you are creating a historical treatise or telling a good story. To me the story is the most important thing and weaving all the historical detail through the tale until it’s no more than background to the main action. Don’t beat yourself up too much about a slight inaccuracy. Even history books contain errors, so historical fiction can hold its head up high if it evokes a sense of period and place which serves the story. The story is fiction. The people (and sometimes even the place) are inventions.

Historical Fictions Cartoon

One of the best examples of the story mattering more than detail in historical fictions comes from a famous anecdote. After his success with “A Streetcar Named Desire” on Broadway, Tennessee Williams had occasion to return to New Orleans where he was accosted by an uptown dilettante who chided him for his description of the streetcar lines. She told him if Blanche DuBois took the streetcars as described in his play, she wouldn’t end up on Elysian Fields Avenue. “They simply don’t run that way,” she said.

Williams replied, “Well, they should.”


The Innocents Book Cover

The Innocents (The Innocents Mystery Series Book 1) by C.A. Asbrey @prairierosepubs #historicalmystery #theinnocentsmysteries

 ”The Innocents“, by C.A. Asbrey published by Prairie Rose Press is now available to buy.

Pinkerton Detective Abigail MacKay is a master of disguises—and of new crime-solving technology! But she’ll have to move fast to stay a step ahead of Nat Quinn and Jake Conroy.

Nat and Jake are the ringleaders of The Innocents, a western gang that specializes in holding up trains carrying payrolls—and Nat is pretty savvy when it comes to using the new sciences of 1868 in committing his crimes.

Charismatic Nat and handsome Jake are on the run, and they’ve always gotten away before—before Abi. But when Abi is caught by another band of outlaws during the chase, there’s no other choice for Nat and Jake but to save her life. Abi owes them, and she agrees to help them bring in the murderer of a family friend.

The web of criminal activity grows more entangled with each passing day, but Nat, Jake, and Abi are united in their efforts to find the murderer. Once that happens, all bets are off, and Abi will be turning Nat and Jake over to the law. But can she do it? She finds herself falling for Nat, but is that growing attraction real? Or is he just using her to learn more about the Pinkertons’ methods? Abi always gets her man—but she may have met her match in her “best enemies”—THE INNOCENTS.


     “So, you want to pretend you’re a Pinkerton? As a female?” His eyes darkened. “I’ve questioned one before, although he didn’t know who I was. They’re trained real well on being both sides of interrogations. You don’t want to do this. Not as a woman. He had a real hard time. You’ll have it even harder.”
     She sat staring ahead once more, her face impassive and stony.
     “You’ve nothing to say?”
     Her eyes flashed. “Beating the hell out of me won’t change anything but my view of you.”
     Nat reached out and entwined a hard fist in her hair and dragged her backward until the chair balanced on the back legs. He brought his face close to hers, his hot breath burning into her cheek.  “Think harder, lady. This isn’t a game. Who are you?”
     Abigail felt the dragging pain at the back of her head as shards of pain lanced across her scalp. He held her, balanced between his painful grip and a clattering fall to the floor but her stubborn nature wouldn’t let her acquiesce.
     “Others will come after you, no matter what you do to me.” She darted her eyes to meet his, unable to move her pinioned head. “I won’t be the last.”

Blog – C.A Asbrey – all things obscure and strange in the Victorian period


The Innocents Mystery Series group


Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/mysteryscrivener/

Amazon – https://www.amazon.com/author/caasbrey

C.A. Asbrey


Blog – C.A Asbrey – all things obscure and strange in the Victorian period http://caasbrey.com/

The Innocents Mystery Series Group https://www.facebook.com/groups/937572179738970/

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/mysteryscrivener/

Amazon – https://www.amazon.com/author/caasbrey


Twitter – https://twitter.com/CAASBREY


Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17899618.C_A_Asbrey


Link to book Link to book https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07BMHFXSJ/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_ep_dp_wTSSAb8J40Q9H

The Art of Mystery Writing  by Marni Graff

The Art of Mystery

                                                                 by Marni Graff

Creating a mystery is so much more than creating a puzzle, yet that puzzle is at the heart of the matter. This dramatic structure has been in force for thousands of years in writing yet remains enormously popular. It’s one reason Agatha Christie’s work is outsold only by the Bible and Shakespeare.

People who read traditional mysteries want to be involved in solving the puzzle, often to see if they can outwit the fictional detective or sleuth and arrive at the answer first. They also look for a sense of resolution at the end that restores order, and in most cases, for good to triumph over evil.

This leads the writer to consider three main types of mystery: the Whodunit, where the identity of the perpetrator is unknown; the Whydunit, where the criminal’s identity may be revealed early in the story but their motive is unknown; and the Howcatch’em, which focuses on the means by which hero/detective/investigator catches the culprit.

Writers must also take into account the violence meter, which ranges from low and more personal (think Miss Marple, cozies in general) to high and often to larger impersonal groups (as in action thrillers, espionage, global terrorists). By deciding how much violence you plan to include in your story, you are choosing which type of crime novel you want to write. For example, a police procedural may have a high level of violence but it is usually committed by a psycho- or sociopath and to one person at time.

At the lower end of the spectrum, you may have a killer who targets the people of his romantic obsession, as in a romantic suspense thriller.

You can see that these multiple combinations let the writer have tremendous freedom when choosing what kind of mystery he or she will write. Yet all of these subgenres will include literary devices such as red herrings, plot twists, foreshadowing and cliffhangers.

There is one distinction that can be made between mystery and suspense: when writing a true mystery, the reader will discover the events and clues along with the protagonist or other characters. In this regard, the reader expects the author to be fair and not throw in any convenient coincidences near the end. When writing suspense, the reader can and usually does know more than the protagonist. The author shows the readers things such as scenes from the perpetrators point of view and his or her mental state and plans, which the protagonist doesn’t know. This is what builds the suspense—will the hero figure it out in time to save himself or his lover or his family or his town?

I give my writing students this simple formula to help guide them as they write in any genre: Character and setting = story (Character is everything; plot is what you have them do as they move around your setting. You need engaging characters your readers will care to spend time with to keep them flipping pages).

Dialogue and behavior = character  (Use dialogue and behavior to illustrate who this person is by what they say, their body language and habits, their appearance, their philosophy, and their idiosyncrasies. All add texture to your creation).

By keeping the conventions of your chosen genre in mind, as well as the simple formula above, you’ll create a winning combination that will have readers turning pages to your resolution and asking for a sequel.


 Author’s bio

Marni Graff is the award-winning author of The Nora Tierney English Mysteries and The Trudy Genova Manhattan Mysteries. She is a member of Sisters in Crime, the International Association of Crime Writers, and a frequent contributor to UK’s Mystery People.



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