People with Dreams

This week I was thinking about writing a blog post about Toxic People, but I stopped and decided I wanted to go in a different direction. I wanted to go with something positive.  There is so much negativity in this world why add to, even if it was an attempt at being supportive and helpful.

Instead I want to talk about people who have dreams.  Quite a while back I did a blog post about ‘Why we need to Celebrate Dreamers’ if you missed it you can read it here it was mostly about our space program, science, and big dreamers who create big change.  Today, I want to talk about the everyday dreamer.  We all know them and we should all support them.

As a writer, I get to interact with creative people on a regular basis, even in my day job I get to work with creative sorts and it’s fun. I wouldn’t change a thing.

Recently, I was chatting with a friend.  She and I went to lunch, and I found out about her dream.  It’s a small dream one that involves something I had no idea she was passionate about.  The more she and I talked the more I saw the fire in her eyes and heard he passion in her voice.  I was amazed.  Her passion and the way she talked got me really excited for her and her dream. I wanted to help.  I needed to help her reach her goal and her dream.

That is part of who I am.  I never thought about it until she told me how her family wasn’t very supportive of her dream.  Her family loves her, of course, but the way she talked about them in reference to her dream, it didn’t seem to me like they were being encouraging of her dream, and it was sad.  It made me sad, and it made me more determined to do what I could to help her with her dream.

I don’t know what will happen and I don’t know how this is going to pan out, but I’ve had people help me with my dream so I’m gonna help her with hers.

Why I’m sharing this with you is because supporting people with dreams is something we can all do.  It doesn’t cost anything.  It doesn’t hurt people. It’s being a good friend, family member, spouse, or whatever.

In fact, click here for 10 ways to help others achieve their dreams, and no it doesn’t cost anything.  It’s all about being supportive.

The next time someone opens up and shares their dream with you. Don’t laugh at them, don’t tell them it’s dumb, and don’t tell them all the reason’s it won’t work.  Instead, listen to them, ask what you can do to help, and be positive. They are telling you because you matter to them.  Because they trust you and they are looking to you for encouragement.  You may end up being the only one who believes in them and their dream.

I count myself lucky. No one ever told me that a dyslexic, gay guy, with no degree in Writing or Creative Writing could write a novel.  Everyone supported me and helped me a long the way, and I did it, with a lot more coming.

So, I know that other Dreamers out there need validation.  Whatever their dream is.  Be supportive of Dreamers and if you’re someone with a dream reading this.  You can do it, whatever it is, I have faith in you and so do others. Don’t give up. Keep trying.  The only way you fail is by giving up.

As for my friend and her dream, we’ll see where it goes, but I’m planning on encouraging her and helping her as much as I can.  Cause I believe in her and I believe in her dream.

I’d love to hear if you have a dream you want to share?  Do you need encouragement?  Leave it in the comments and I’ll respond.

Until next week, have a great week and keep dreaming.

Interview with Author Francisco Cordoba

This week I have the honor of welcoming Francisco Cordoba to my Scribbles page. I can’t wait to jump in so let’s get to it.

Welcome Francisco.

Thanks for having me.

Of course. I just hope I’m not to all over the place with my questions today.

I’m sure it’ll be fine.

You say that now, but we shall see soon enough.  Let’s start with a get to know you question.  Tell me, what are some of the day jobs you have held?

Let’s see if I can remember them all.  I’ve been an Accountant’s clerk, store clerk, telephone sales, dishwasher, zookeeper, care home worker, horse trainer, riding instructor, and English language instructor.

Wow.  That is an interesting mix.  How would you say these jobs have influenced your writing?

I think everything influences my writing because they were all life experience’s which put me in touch with different people and different situations.

I’ve heard that a lot from a variety of authors and I personal agree.  Everything we do is just another life experience to pull from.  That said, do you get a chance to do a lot of reading outside your genre, so you have difference experience’s to pull from?

Well, first, I don’t really have a genre. My series, The Horsemen of Golegã, doesn’t fit neatly into any one category. I really like books that are mixed-genre like that. However, I do read romance, erotica, science fiction, thriller, biography, suspense, mystery, literary and general fiction. I read everything, and I think that comes through in my writing.

Like your work history you have a very rich taste in reading.  That’s cool.

I like the variety.

I can see that.  Okay, so here is a tough question.

Oh man.

Are you ready?

Oh man.

Have you ever intentionally tried to make your readers cry?

(Chuckles) All the time. If I can make my reader cry, then I made my reader feel. I want my readers to feel. I want to leave them wrung out and gasping.

I agree.  I think writing is all about making the reader feel something and if they cry then I did my job.

Does that make us evil?

(Laughs) Probably.

Writing all these different scenes and trying to pull out emotion do you have a favorite scene or line you’ve written?

I think we all do.  Don’t you?

Yes, but I asked you first.

Fair enough, I do have many favorite scenes and lines. In Bosanquet: The Horsemen of Golegã, Book 1, the final intimate scene where the FMC loses her virginity is close to my heart. It was one of the first sex scenes I’d written, and I’m pleased with how it turned out. I’ve received a lot of positive feedback about it.

The scene in Loving North: The Horsemen of Golegã, Book 3, where Candice and Bosanquet are preparing to go camping, is another favorite. It’s the first time Candice really takes charge of her man, so it heralds her growth as a person, and his as he allows someone else to the lead.

With your diverse taste is books, I’m curious. Who was your favorite author as a child? Do they influence your storytelling now?

I loved, and still do, Dr. Seuss, who in my mind was nothing less than brilliant. I could read The Sneetches and marvel at their stupidity and gullibility over and over again, and get totally lost in the ridiculous stubbornness of the North-going and South-going Zax. The pathos of the lonely pale green pants with nobody inside them made me long to befriend someone less fortunate, and the zany futility of the Tweetle Beetles still make me giggle like a kid.

I have no doubt that Dr. Seuss influences my writing now. Through him, and others, I learned to appreciate the rhythm and swing of language. His stories, simply and amusingly told, illustrate his astute observations about the human condition, and human foibles and inconsistencies, in ways even small children can understand.

And as they say, the child is father to the man.

And that, as they say, was my last question.


Yes, Sir.  Thank you so much for stopping by.  I look forward to hearing more from you and checking out your books.


More about Francisco Cordoba

A passionate romantic and obsessive equestrian, Francisco Cordoba has been writing for as long as he can remember. However, it’s only in the last few years, since completing his Master’s Degree in Linguistics, and suffering regular chastisement from his wife, that he has dared to fully unleash his muse. He loves writing about romance, relationships, adventures and sex.
Francisco lives a largely reclusive life tucked away in an old farmhouse, somewhere, with his wife, teenage son, four cats, two dogs, horse, ducks and chickens. He freely admits to loving them all, although he refuses to allow more than three bodies to occupy his bed at any one time. His six-book slightly erotic, paranormally romantic, mysteriously suspenseful, thrillingly adventurous, and possibly fictional debut series, The Horsemen of Golegã, will be self-published soon.

You can find Francisco at his website here, his Facebook page here, on Twitter here, or via email at

Be A Decent Person – Shut down your Technology Once in a While

Here’s the thing. I say this both tongue-and-cheek, but also with a pang of honesty.  We suck.  We treat each other like trash and we have no mutual respect.  Oh sure, there are people who we are nice to and tolerate, but the truth is with the advances in communication we treat each other like crap.  Think about it for a moment.  How often do you actually talk to someone?  When do you put your technology down and actually have a conversation?  I bet not very often.  And when you do put the tech down you’re not focused on the person you’re with, but what you’re missing on your cellphone.

I’m guilty of this, that’s why I know what I’m talking about.

I’m trying to be batter about this.  We all need to try to be better about this.

There was a time before cellphones. When we had to sit and actually talk to each other.  We had to learn visual clues about human communication.  We had to talk in full sentences and not in 140 characters or emojis.  There were no selfies (think about that term ‘selfie’ sounds like ‘selfish’ it also excludes others and makes whatever we’re doing all about ‘I’. To hell with anyone else – Right?).

Anyway, in the time before technology we had to write letters to communicate or talk on the telephone (a landline – gasp).  If we wanted to talk to someone we would have to make an appointment or schedule something.  We had to be invited to visit them.  We didn’t email or text them at all hours of the day (which by the way is totally rude.  I don’t want to hear from you at 2am.  You better be dead, or dying, or the world should be ending.). Spending time with each other was an event (that was only about 30 years ago) so not really that long.  And what happened at these events/parties?  Well for one, there was a certain code of conduct. There were ways you talked to each other, how you addressed one another, it was all about etiquette. I’m not talking ‘Downtown Abbey’ etiquette, but still there were social norms we all adhered to.

Not anymore.

Now don’t get me wrong.  I love technology (well most of the time).  I have a Facebook page (  I have a website. I have a Twitter account @Writer_MDNeu and I spend quite a bit of time on them, but when it’s time to shut it all off I do.

I hear you all gasp.

What do I do when I shut it all down? How do I survive? 

I read.  I write.  I cook.  I do things around the house.  This weekend my husband and I had a bunch of projects to work on at home.  I visit family and friends. We go to a movie.  We go shopping.  We go and eat (without cellphones). It’s amazing when you go to a restaurant and see people sitting there looking at their phones for the entire meal and never (and I mean never) talk to the people they are sitting with.  It’s sad.  It’s rude.  And it’s disrespectful.

How did we as a species survive all these thousands of years?  We made connections.  We formed communities. We bonded with each other.

Now we bond with technology, what does that say about us.  What does that say about where we are going as a species? As a people?

Did you know Millennials are having less sex than any generation in the last 60 years?  Don’t believe me here’s the article: 

Millennials Not Having Sex

I pose a challenge to everyone who reads this.  When you go out with family or friends instead of checking the little screen in your hands peer into the eyes of the person or people you’re with.  That’s magical.  It’s a moment you won’t forget.

I’m not telling anyone to give up their tech (I know longer believe it’s physically possible), but just be a decent person and put the phone away.  Shut down the tablet. Be in the moment with those around you, because at some point those people won’t be there anymore, and what will you remember of them?  The top of their head bent over a glowing screen or their eyes, and their face?

I would prefer to remember the eyes and face, but maybe that’s just me.

To remind you all here are a couple of etiquette rules to live by:

  • Be a gentleman and open the door (any and every door) for a lady.
  • If you’re on a bus or sitting on a bench offer your seat to a pregnant woman. Or offer it to an elderly person. If you can stand with ease, then give the seat to those who can’t.
  • Ladies, when a gentleman opens a door for you say, ‘thank you’ he’s not disrespecting you, he’s treating you with respect. Do the same for him.
  • If you ask a person out, you pay.  You don’t spilt the bill.  You ask, you pay. Simple and respectful.
  • When you’re having a meal with someone put the cellphones away, talk to one another.  Whatever you share while talking is so much more interesting than what’s on your cellphone.
  • Be kind to each other.  Let me repeat that, just be kind. 
  • Treat each other with respect even if you don’t agree with them (especially if you don’t agree with them). I really need to work on this.

Until next week.  Have a great week and build connections and be a decent person.

Agree with me?  Don’t agree with me?  Let me know down below. I love hearing what you all have to say.

Interview with Author Jeanne Marcella

This week I’m thrilled to welcome a fellow Northern Californian Jeanne (pronounced like Barbara Eden’s old 70s TV show “I Dream of Jeannie.” Except there is no “I”) Marcella to my Scribbles page and introduce you all to her and her amazing writing.  I can’t wait to jump in so let’s get to it.

Welcome to my Scribbles Page Jeanne.

Thanks for having me.

You know people are not going to have to Google the TV Show reference right?

Probably, maybe you should include a link for them.

(Laughs) Nah, they’re a smart group they can figure it out. First things first, tell me about your writing.
Dark fantasy is my main genre to play in, with urban fantasy quickly gaining favor. I write about the human condition and its struggles, even if most of my characters are not human. To me, that’s not only great drama and character development, it’s the great foundation for action and tension.

I agree.  I love using non-human character to explore human nature.  It’s fun.

Sure is.  
So, how did you get started?  What drives you to sit at the keyboard and put word to paper?
Even before I learned to write, I was drawing.  And as far back as I can remember, I’ve always been telling stories and demanding to hear them.
The children’s author, Richard Scarry, really sent my imagination into overdrive when I was small. I was completely obsessed with his books back then, and I’m still thoroughly fascinated by his ability to tell stories within stories within stories. Another early influence that probably shaped my writing into the dramatic was watching soap operas back in the 80s with my grandmother.

Stop!  I have to know what soaps did you watch?

(Laughs.) Now that I think about it, my first exposure to soaps was with my mom. She watched “Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman”, and another one later simply called “Soap”.  Although I do recall both shows being really bizarre--I think “Soap” did a Rosemary’s baby scenario. It was confusing back then.
With my grandmother it was “Days of Our Lives” and “Another World.” I still remember the DooL opening…. “Like sands through the hourglass….these are the days of our lives!” It was all very dramatic.  

Okay, sorry didn’t mean to sidetrack I just had to know, please continue. 
No problem. Anyway, it’s the characters that live in my head that drive me to write. Their relationships and hardships, their agony. I can’t shut them up, even when I sleep.
While we’re talking about characters please give us some insight into your Main Character.  Who are they?  What is their life about?
Acanthus Breese is a twelve and a half year old boy, but this is definitely not a YA series. This is a gritty dark fantasy that lets the reader discover most of the plot as the main character does.

Oh, I like that.  I hate when you know everything at the start.
Yep, that’s why I did it this way.  So, Acanthus and his peers have been imprisoned and abandoned by the adults; they’ve raised themselves since they were five. Acanthus is the smallest boy in the Regrets grid and is often picked on. He draws, carves toy animals, and prays to the goddess to help him retain his sanity. He and the other boys endure while waiting for forgiveness, even though they aren’t exactly sure what they did wrong.

Wow, that is dark.  Should be a great read.

I hope so.  I hope readers enjoy it.
Let’s change topic a bit, if you don’t mind. What are your ambitions for your writing career?
Ambitions? Well, just to tell a good story and have people enjoy the characters as much as I do. 
I love it.  For me that is the best answer possible.

Ah, thanks.

I have to know, where do your ideas come from?
That’s a really loaded question. (chuckles). I consider myself a chaotic thinker.
My ideas come from everything and everywhere. I can’t turn it off. I see multiple and completely different stories within movies, TV shows, and even just looking out the window. My head is so crowded with ideas and input it’s often a trial to juggle them into submission. Again, it could be that Richard Scarry influence.
I think a lot of writers are the same.  I know I have similar issues.  I think it’s part of the creative process.  Or, a sign of madness.  Not sure which.

Could be both.

(Laughs) You may be on to something there. What is the hardest thing about writing your book?
The hardest thing about writing ‘The Phoenix Embryo’ was wading through all his trials that had piled up as I wrote, and ironing out the order they fell in. It was a very frustrating process that took about a decade. 
Wow.  That had to be tough, but you did it.  Congratulations.

Thank you.
Can you tell me, what are the challenges/benefits to being a self-published author?
Finding a readership and getting noticed is certainly a major hurdle, and I’m still floundering on that particular challenge. I’ve done my research, and know the avenue I need to go, it’s just taking that deep breath and navigating it. 
The benefits are the best. Complete creative control, and having it in the reader’s hands not long after the editors and formatters finish with it. 

I love the idea of complete creative control, but I get that has its challenges too?

It can, but it’s so much fun. I love it.

Awesome. Now back to the writing process. Did you come across any specific challenges when writing?  What did you do differently the next time?
There are a few. Realizing that I’ve written two, sometimes even three books as one. It’s happened a few times, and in more than one series/genre. 
Discovering that I wrote my ‘Infinity 8’ series backwards--starting in modern day when it needed to begin in the early 1900s.
Creating an outline and a synopsis has really saved me time, and a lot of headaches. I push the ideas as far out as they’ll go, and examine them in detail as that particular idea grows closer.  (Laughs) It’s less chaotic that way, and I get things done quicker. 
Organization and outlines are definitely the way to go.  I agree.
As a self-published author, I’m curious, where do you see publishing going in the future?
Ebook distribution is going to change somehow, of course. The question is just when. The tech industry doesn’t stand still. And with Amazon being such a powerhouse, the publishing industry may finally wake up and start competing. Perhaps the remaining Big 5--is it still the Big 5? Will ban together and open their own bookstores and online platform. That would be really neat.

Now that would be an interesting idea.  I think someone needs to compete with Amazon or they will end up controlling the industry.

Sadly, I have one last question for you.

Only one more?

I’m afraid so.

Wow, that went fast.

It always goes fast. Maybe, we could do another interview at some point.

Anything is possible.

Okay, so final question, what do your fans mean to you?
Fans provide the mental energy that keep characters, and even a series alive. When they contact you to say how much they enjoy a book, it’s a treasure, and an honor.

Nicely put.

Well it’s true.

And on that finale note, I want to thank you for stopping by and agreeing to do this.  You were a joy to chat with.

Thank you.

More about Jeanne Marcella

Stories came to me from a very young age. And I loved books. I would stare at Richard Scarry’s art for hours. Days. And was mesmerized at the infinite mini universes and stories within stories presented.
The music I grew up with truly varied. A few examples: Mexican, Hawaiian, and big band. Classical and top 50s and 60s. In the mid-80s I encountered the new age genre: Ray Lynch’s Deep Breakfast. Stevie Nicks was my all time favorite for her unique fantasy-like allure.
Today I gravitate toward Apocalyptica, Adam Hurst, and E.S. Posthumus. I’m also into old black and white movies. People knew how to tell a complete story back then with only body language and a look.

I often muse why centaurs are categorized as non-people or stupid animals, instead of treated like the other sentient mythical beings of vampires, werewolves, and demons.

Conspiracy theories are my soap operas. Paranormal realms and ancient astronauts. Is the moon really hollow? Is Bigfoot from another dimension or merely a shy, near-extinct descendant of Giganthropithicus Blacki? All this drives the imagination and creativity. And it certainly opens up new realms to play in.

You can find Jeanne here and on Twitter here.  She also, has a Facebook Page here.

Click the image to shop for the book.

Click the image to shop for the book.

An Image from The Phoenix Embryo

An Image from The Phoenix Embryo

More about The Phoenix Embryo

Twelve-and-a-half-year-old Acanthus Breese and his yellow-robed peers have survived without an adult presence for seven years. They’ve scavenged. Endured madness, starvation, and murder after the adults imprisoned and abandoned them without a backward glance. They’ve clawed their way to civilization and questionable sanity at the guidance of one of their own.

Thirteen-year-old Edward Dasheel is a direct descendant of the goddess Staritti and the red phoenix god, Dasheel. Because of Edward’s love and leadership, Acanthus and the other boys know that despite their regretful crime of harming Staritti and driving her away, hope for redemption remains.

Acanthus knows Edward better than anyone; he knows Edward hides dark secrets about their exile, the adults, and specifically about him. So it is terrifying when suddenly the adults return, pushing themselves back into their lives. What do they want after all these years? And why?

Another Image from the Phoenix Embryo

Another Image from the Phoenix Embryo

Writing Update

I didn’t realize until today the last time I provided a writing update was in April.  So, let’s get you all up to speed on what is happening in my wonderful world of writing.

To start, I’m happy to announce, ‘The Calling’ will be published in January 2018 by NineStar Press it’s very exciting and honestly a little scary. It’s cool to dream this will happen then when it does, it kind of freaks you out.  There is a lot to do to get the story ready for publication as you can imagine.  If you have some time to check out NineStar Press here, they are a ton of wonderful books by some amazing authors and they are a good group of people to work with.

Next up, this year I have the honor of being a judge for the 2017 Rainbow Awards.  It’s exciting to be part of such an activity and I can’t wait for the award winners to be announced.  If you want to learn more about the Rainbow Awards check them out here.

Third, I’ve written a short story ‘A Dragon for Christmas’ its a cute short story and one I’m hoping to get published (fingers crossed).  Stay tuned.  In the meantime, you can read the blurb for ‘A Dragon for Christmas’ here.

On a more personal note, I’ve been busy working in the background on some new headshots and working with a few really good friends on how to not only market my novels but also myself.  It’s an interesting process one I didn’t think would be as difficult as it is.  It’s like this whole new world is sitting there and I need to figure out the best way to navigate it all.  So, as we move forward, you may see not only my photos change (may all that is fuzzy and warm take mercy on you when those come out), but also my website. There may be updates/changes to my Facebook Page and all of my social media as well.

Also, you’ll be happy to learn we are still doing our weekly meal in a box.  Its great and we still love it.  If you want to see pictures, let me know in the comments below, also, if you want an update on how we’re doing I’ll happily share.  There are some new developments.

Now more on the writing front, I’m still working on Book 2 of ‘A New World – Conspiracy’ and I’m working on a novella called ‘T.A.D.’. I’m about two-thirds of the way through ‘Conspiracy’ and ‘T.A.D.’ has its first draft finished and I’ve started the editing process so the writing is moving forward.  There are a few more stories that are floating around, but nothing nearly as far a long as these.

With respect to my blog, I’m changing my posting day to Mondays in hopes to get more traffic. I have to think about and pay attention to these things now.

Well that’s about it for this week.  Next week I have an exciting Author Interview coming up.  So, stay tuned.  I love to hear from you, so leave me a comment, drop me a line and remember to like, share and subscribe.  Until next week keep cool and #HappyPride2017

Interview with Writer Amir Lane

This month I’ve been so blessed to be able to do two Author Interviews.  I’m excited to welcome Amir Lane to my Scribbles Page.  Let’s get started.

Amir I’m thrilled to have you here this month.  Thanks for stopping by.

Always a joy to chat with folks.

I have so many questions, but so little time.  So let’s jump right in.  I’m curious about how you model your characters, are they based on real life?

I really try not to. It’s impossible not to let parts of people I know into my characters because there are only so many traits in the world. There’ve been times when I’ve been talking about a character and realized, ‘Holy crap, this is so-and-so.’ (chuckles)

Sometimes I’ll put real people in passing, like if I need a background character for two lines.

I think we’ve all done that.

Probably.  The other thing I do is when I have a character from another country - ie, not Canada - I’ll pick usually a musician who’s voice I dig and I’ll listen to interviews until I get a handle on it. Like, I have Matt Tuck for my Welsh guy, Til Lindemann for German, Max Cavalera for Brazilian… Sometimes I hear something that totally works. Sometimes it’s, like, a cultural thing, or a generic sort of - Like Max Cavalera learning English from dictionary translations. It’s exactly how my parents learned English, but it totally works here too. Again, generally not deliberate but it happens.

We’re going to be all over the map today with questions.  I hope you don’t mind?

Nope. Not at all.

Great, I wanted to ask if you have any advice for other authors on how to market their books?

I'm honestly awful at marketing so I'm probably the last person who should be giving advice.

I don’t know you have some amazing cover art for your books and your Urban Fantasy Short is on Tall Tale TV, so you must be doing something right.


Okay, how about you tell me what you don’t like.

Well, as a reader, it really bothers me when authors leave me copy/pasted messages to buy their book, especially when it's for a genre I don't even like. I get that it's the fastest way to spread the word but honestly, it makes me hate the book on principle before I even know the title. People don't like being constantly advertised to, especially when everything is an advertisement. If you want to recommend me your book because you know that, based on the books I talk about, it lines up with what I like to read, then by all means, recommend it but don't make it too obvious that you're only interested in my wallet.

Well said.  I agree.

So, marketing isn’t your thing, but you must do some, so what part of your writing time do you devote to marketing your book?

Marketing time is marketing time. I don't take from my writing time, which is probably why I'm lacking in that department. I do most of my marketing when I'm between projects, or parts of projects. For example, I'll give myself a week between when I finish a draft and start editing, and I'll take that time to market. It's a system.

Cool, so keeping on the whole marketing theme, what do you thing about good/bad reviews?

I think the important thing to remember is that everything is subjective. Not everybody is going to like your book. Like, with Shadow Maker, someone said that my main character wasn't relatable at all, whereas other people found that he totally was. So, all that meant was that this person isn't the person that character was meant to be relatable to.

Good point.

Any review should be taken with a grain of salt but there is a point where, if it's a lot of people who are saying the same thing, then maybe that's something to pay attention to. I don't know, I try not to read reviews or respond to anything about my books unless someone is talking to me directly.

That is great advice.

Sadly, this is my last question and I hope it’s an easy one.  Do you have any tips on what to do and what not to do when writing?

Do: Write.
Don't: Get distracted and watch that episode of Duck Dodgers where Dave Mustain saves Earth with the power of heavy metal and awesome hair.

(Laughs) That is probably the best advice ever. What a great way to end the interview.  That you so much for joining me today.

Always a pleasure

More about Amir Lane

Amir Lane (pronounced Ah-meer) is a supernatural and urban fantasy writer from Sudbury, Ontario and the author of the Morrighan House Witches series that debuted in October 2016. The series opens with Shadow Maker, and follows physics major Dieter Lindemann as he's dragged down against his will into Necromancy and blood magic.

Engineer by trade, Amir spends most of their writing time in a small home office on the cargo pants of desks, at a back table at their favorite Middle Eastern restaurant, or in front of the TV watching every cop procedural or cooking competition on Netflix. They live in a world where magic is an everyday occurrence, and they strive to bring that world to paper. Their short story, Scrap Metal and Circuitry, was published by Indestructible magazine in April 2016.

When not trying to figure out what kind of day job an incubus would have or what a Necromancer would go to school for, Amir enjoys visiting the nearest Dairy Queen, getting killed in video games, absorbing the contents of comic books, and freaking out over how fluffy the neighbour's dog is.

Amir loves to connect with readers online. They can be found in their Facebook group here, on their Facebook page here, and at their website here, and on Twitter here where you can find out more about their work.

There are no Guarantees in Life

This week I was reminded that there are no guarantees in life.  A friend of mine was diagnosed with Cancer and she is being very aggressive in her treatment.  She’s not the first person I’ve known to do battle with this disease and I’m sure she won’t be the last.  What this news reminded me was that life, our lives, aren’t a dress rehearsal and tomorrow isn’t a guarantee.

You can run ten miles a day, be a vegan, eat healthful and workout four times a week.  Or, you can sit on your couch all day, eat a steak breakfast, noon and night, never eat a vegetable, and your treadmill can be a clothes hanger.  None of it matters, cause when the journey is over the journey is over.  The point, live your life.

How many times have you thought, ‘oh I’ll do that tomorrow’ or ‘it can wait’? More frightenly when have you passed up on doing something you really wanted to thinking you’ll get around to it later?  What happens when there are no more ‘laters’?

I guess what I’m going for is not to wait.  Don’t go crazy and don’t be irresponsible, but don’t wait.  Eat healthful, get some exercise, go outside, all that is important, but mostly get up and do it.  Take that trip. Take the class. Paint that painting.  Learn to cook. Ask that guy or girl out.  Go do it.  Live your life because you never know when your ticket to ride is over

Interview with Author JP Jackson

This week I’m very excited to welcome my buddy JP Jackson, to my Scribbles page and introduce you all to him and his amazing writing.  I was lucky to have him for an extended interview so I hope you enjoy.  Don't forget to like, share and leave a comment below.  There was a lot to cover in a short time so let’s boogie on down the road.

JP has his first book premiering next month (July 2017).  Congratulations JP and welcome.

Boogie?  Really?

My interview my silliness.

All right well thanks for the invite, I think.

To kick things off tell me about your writing, how did you get started?  

I’ve always been creative in some way. Whether it was drawing, painting, and even acting, I generally find that I have to be doing something, or have a project somewhere that allows me to unleash that creative energy.  

But, I’ve always had ‘write a book and get it published’ on my bucket list.

About three years ago, I finally said to myself – let’s do this. So I hauled out the laptop and started. It really was that simple. I just sat down and put words on the screen. Now, I didn’t say they were good words, but it was a start.

I’ve read some of your writing and I can tell everyone, they are in fact ‘good’ words.

Hey, thanks.

Of course, so you started writing three years ago, was getting the book finished what drove you?  What drives you what drives you to sit at the keyboard and put word to paper?

Once I start something I generally have to see it through. I say generally because my husband will tell you that I have so many projects all going on at once it’s impossible to believe that they all get completed.

Do they?

They don’t.

But, if something catches me…you know that feeling? It’s where your mind continually drifts back to thoughts about (in this case) the storyline, a plot problem, the way a character is dressed, and what he says…If my brain starts doing that, then I become obsessed and I will absolutely finish the project. And right now, that obsession for me is writing. I also am finding the writing process to be a ridiculous amount of fun. All of it – from writing my way through a plot problem – to creating new creatures and characters – to receiving edits and making the story even better. And let me just say, thank all the gods for editors.

Yes, editors are our friends.  

They really are, they see things we miss and would never see otherwise.

Very true, now changing gears a bit, which writers inspire you?

There’s quite a few. Stephen King, but his earlier works like Carrie, Christine, The Shining. Anne Rice – all of them, oh my goodness. Yes. I’ve also recently stumbled upon Patricia Briggs and I’ve read several of the Mercy Thompson books and quite enjoyed them. J.K. Rowling and the Harry Potter series, Charlaine Harris and the Sookie Stackhouse books, and many, many years ago Piers Anthony with the Xanth books and the Incarnations of Immortality. Who could forget the never ending Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan? Truly, the list is endless. I’m a voracious reader and have always been. I think my favorite horror story of all time was The Amityville Horror by Jay Anson. I don’t think I slept the rest of that year.

(Chuckles) That is an impressive list.

I have read a little bit of everything, but if the book has horns, tails, wings, or magic, chances are I’m going to love it. If I’m a little scared while reading it, that’s a good thing too.

I’m currently looking though for that kind of an author who write LGBTQA+ stories. I’ve read so many excellent books lately by authors who identify in the queer spectrum, but I haven’t yet stumbled upon that one author that I know – regardless of what book or work I pick up of theirs, I’m just absolutely going to love it. So, I keep looking…

You have any suggestions?

Hey now, who’s interviewing who? Anyway a book my boss recommended that I recently read was ‘The Swarm’ by Frank Schatzing it’s freaky and well crafted.  And if you like Zombies (I’m personally mixed about them) but ‘World War Z’ by Max Brooks is excellent.  Otherwise, you and I have a similar list of books.


Okay, this isn’t a book club. So, give us some insight into your Main Character.  Who are they?  What is their life about?

Dati Amon is my leading man. He’s totally dreamy.  Oh wait…yeah okay so, he’s also a demon from hell. What can I tell you about Dati? He’s pretty old – although he doesn’t look it, that’s because of his great genetic makeup. And when I say old, I mean like three hundred and forty-six years old.

So, about my dating age?  Kidding.

Um… sure. Dati only looks like maybe late thirties, early forties.

Dati is a specific kind of demon. He belongs to the D’Alae species – meaning he has wings, and a tail, but he has ways of hiding these things when he’s out and about. I think that’s what makes my demons a tad more interesting – they look just like any other human – but then, when the guise comes off, or they reveal their true selves, it’s terrifying.

Creepy, but I like the idea. Please continue.

Dati is also enslaved – all of the D’Alae are, and his master is particularly violent and one hell of a masochist. Dati’s job is to find human children who are the result of a demon-human mating, and then ensure that they are ‘turned’.  He hates his job. 

Dati’s master keeps him on a short leash. Because of that, he’s sometimes naïve, but Dati has been around a long time, and so he’s developed a certain amount of elegance and maturity. He’s smart, careful, thoughtful, yet has the propensity for incredible brutality.

And he loves to watch humans. In fact, he really has grown quite soft and kind. He likes humans. He’s quite jealous of them, and their freedom.

When Dati meets Alyx, he is instantly attracted to him (and honestly, Alyx is a redhead, who wouldn’t be instantly turned on by that?) and for the first time ever, Dati has feelings for a human. 

Now that sounds like a set up for a romance story, right? Yeah…I know, but Dati’s story is unfortunately filled with setbacks and turmoil, and as much as he’d like to get to know Alyx, he can’t, and despite a promise Dati has made to keep Alyx out of his hellish world, the exact opposite happens.

In fact, Dati’s actions of trying to keep Alyx out of his life end up setting off a chain of events that leads to the end of the world.

This is no romance novel. This is a story about the end of times.

That sounds really heavy.  It must be one hell (sorry I had to) of a ride?

I hope so.

Wow, so what drew you to write in this genre?

I see magic in everything. There are fairies in my garden, there is a monster in my closet and the boogeyman lives in the basement – and the bastard takes great delight in scaring the shit out of me on a regular basis.  I hate him.

But really, I’m drawn to the fantastical. I thrive best in worlds where magic is possible, but also potentially deadly. I need creatures with wings and horns, beasts that will help you, cuddle with you, or maybe even eat you.

Oddly enough, I want to be enchanted and then scared at the same time. It’s funny though, I can’t watch a horror movie. I keep trying, but then I don’t sleep for days.

Do you mind if we keep going?  Normally I wrap up about now, but this is good stuff.  So, I’d like to keep going.

Sure, I don’t mind.

Great. Where do your ideas come from?

My head. The shadows are long and very deep in there. It’s a creepy place, but beautiful too. There’s something fun about flirting with the darkness, straddling that line between light and dark. I’m quite comfortable there.

I find that music, certain TV shows, movies and pictures will spur my creative juices and make me want to write about mystical beings and terrible curses. I love mythology too. I think we’ve lost a lot of wonder and magic in our lives. Everything is cold and technical and can be explained by modern medicine and science.

To that I say – Bah Humbug.  Let there be a Santa Claus, a tooth fairy, dragons and trolls. I love them all.

I agree.  By the way I love dragons, so you know.  There ya go. Anyway, now for a serious question, what was the hardest thing about writing your book?

A couple of things.

The voice of each character and ensuring I stayed true to them when they were speaking. 

Stories are rich and detailed and they shift in their perception depending on which character’s eyes you’re watching the world unfold through. And so, in Daimonion, the majority of the story is seen through the eyes of Dati.  As I said above, he’s sophisticated, in his own way, and yet, somewhat naive. But part of the story is also told from Jenae’s perspective – she’s a soulless witch, she’s young, broken and a little off. She’s also a teenager. And part of the story is told through Alyx. Alyx is a young man, confident and sexy, mischievous and yet, always optimistic and positive. While writing the book and ensuring as each chapter came to life, the person who was telling the story kept true to their character – that was hard.

I also struggled with keeping all the ties and strings laced together in such a way that the story came to life in a realistic way. I wanted to make sure that events that happened, occurred naturally. I wanted relationships to be developed and be realistic.

It’s one thing to see a person and be instantly attracted to someone. I don’t believe that people look at someone and fall instantly in love. I think love blossoms after you get to know a person. You have to be able to resonate to who someone is, what they believe in before you invest in such an expensive emotion as ‘love’. Same thing for friendship, or trust. Does that make sense?

I think it does and you’re right ‘love’ is a very expensive emotion and I don’t think people are always willing to pay that cost.  Please, though, back to the story.

This story is fantastical, but even though there are demon, beasts, and magic, I wanted it to feel like it all could be real.

Excellent.  I want to shift gears again and talk about something a little lighter. So tell me JP, which famous person (living or dead) would you like to sit down with and lunch?  Why?

Hugh Jackman, because Wolverine. Straight up – he’s my total boy crush. But I’ve also always wanted to have lunch with Whoopi Goldberg. I think we’d laugh ourselves stupid, but she’d also have amazing words of wisdom to impart as well. But regardless of who I have lunch with, if anyone orders beets of any kind, served up in any way, I’m out.


I hate beets. Always have. Like from the time I was a baby. Beets went in, and were immediately spit back out.

Note to self, no beets, got it.

It’s silly, and I know this. I’ve tried many times as an adult to eat them. I just can’t.

My belief is that in a former past life I was a victim in a beet famine. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.


Okay, so no beets.  Are there any other specific challenges you’ve come across when writing?  What did you do differently the next time?

This was my first book. I learned so many things. The way we write differs greatly from communications at work, to a technical manual, a love letter or a literary work. You can’t write in the same way for all of these. They have differences, and they have rules. I’m still learning the rules. 

You can’t describe your own eyes unless you’re looking in a mirror. Period. So stop doing it, and yet, I continue to do so. 


I repeat words often. Editing saves me every time from that mistake.

I have a thing for Tautology – saying the same thing but in a different way. That’s hard to stop, I even speak like that.  You know the expression…”Beat a dead horse?” Yeah. I’m like that.

Commas. I hate commas.

Editors are akin to gods and should be treated as such.

What would I do differently next time? Oh boy. Try and learn from my mistakes? I’m a slow learner though.

I think we all share some similar problems.  I know I’m guilty of a lot what you mention.  One last question and it should be easy.  How would you sum up your book in five words?

The Beginning of The End

What a way to end the interview.  JP, thank you so much for being here and indulging in all my questions and some of my silliness.

It was a lot of fun.

More about JP Jackson:

J.P. Jackson works as an IT analyst in health care during the day, where if cornered he’d confess to casting spells to ensure clinicians actually use the electronic medical charting system he configures and implements.

At night however, the writing happens, where demons, witches and shape shifters congregate around the kitchen table and general chaos ensues. The insurance company refuses to accept any more claims of ‘acts of the un-god’, and his husband of almost 20 years has very firmly put his foot down on any further wraith summoning’s in the basement. And apparently imps aren’t house-trainable. Occasionally the odd ghost or member of the Fae community stops in for a glass of wine and stories are exchanged. Although the husband doesn’t know it, the two Chihuahuas are in cahoots with the spell casting.

J.P.’s other hobbies include hybridizing African Violets (thanks to grandma), extensive travelling and believe it or not, knitting.

You can find JP here and on Twitter here.  He also has a Goodreads Page here.

More about Book One of the Apocalypse Daimonion (Pre Order here): 

Dati Amon wants to be free from his satyr master and he hates his job—hunting human children who display demon balefire. Every hunt has been successful, except one. A thwarted attempt ended up as a promise to spare the child of a white witch, an indiscretion Dati hopes Master never discovers.

But Master has devilish machinations of his own. He needs human-demon hybrids, the Daimonion, to raise the Dark Lord to the earthly realm. If Master succeeds, he will be immortal and far more powerful.

The child who was spared is now a man, and for the first time in three hundred years, Dati has a reason to escape Master’s chains. To do that, Dati makes some unlikely alliances with an untrained soulless witch, a self-destructive shape shifter, and a deceitful clairvoyant. However, deals with demons rarely go as planned, and the cost is always higher than the original bargain.

Stop Being Negative and Don’t be a Jerk

This Memorial Day Weekend I wanted to talk about all the negativity and general jerkiness I see these days, both on-line and out in the world.  Over the last week I’ve been reminded just how lucky and blessed I am.  If you follow me on Twitter and on Facebook (which I hope you do) you should know that this week I got picked up by NineStar Press they are going to be publishing my book ‘The Calling’.  Getting the news made me stop and think how I got to this point.  Yes, there was a lot of work involved.  And, yes, there was a certain amount of luck.  But, I also believe one of the key reasons I got picked up was because of how I treat everyone and how I interact with the world.

I’m not perfect.  No one is.  And I sure don’t shoot sunshine and rainbows out my rear-end. But I can affect what I put out there and that influences the way others interact with me.

When I first started my writing journey I got a lot of really hard negative feedback.  People were tough on me.  I could have fallen down the well of negativity and self-pity it was so bad.  After a few days of sulking and licking my wounds, I went back to writing and wrote and re-wrote.  Instead of being a jerk I continued to thank folks for all their feedback and I continued to be grateful.  It wasn’t easy, because some people were mean, and like many writers my ego is fragile (Lord help me when I start getting reviews).  At the time I only had a Facebook page and instead of complaining on Facebook, I continued to post things about how grateful I am and how proud I am of others (oh, and dragons.  I love dragons).  Sure, every so often I posted something that I found appalling.  Doing so was never to jump on the bandwagon of being nasty or with the intention of hurting anyone.  It was always with the goal in mind of making people stop and think. It was always comments like this:

  • Be kind to one another.
  • Think before you speak. 
  • Don’t be nasty.
  • Don’t be cruel.
  • Don’t promote hate.
  • If you want to make change work for that change, don’t complain or moan-and-grown.
  • Support each other.

During a time when everyone was fighting and arguing; crying and complaining; blaming and fear mongering, I continued on…

Oh, man this is starting to sound preachy and give the illusion of me being so perfect.  Ugh.  I’m not.  I’m so far from perfect.  I whine and I complain, I have good days and I have shitty days, I can be cruel and I can be mean, I’ve been known to make people cry.  I will continue to be everything I try to say we shouldn’t be, not because it’s my goal, but because I’m human.

What I want to get across, today, is the need for us, all of us, to do better.  To be kinder, to not allow all the garbage happening outside our ring of control to take over our lives.  When we only promote negativity that is all that surrounds us.  How can we do great things if we’re stuck in the bubble of being a jerk? Or being nasty to each other.  We’ve had men and women die and suffer to provide us with the opportunities to do whatever we want.  To give us a chance to make the world a better place.  We can’t sit here and use that gift to promote mistreatment of each other.  We are one human species and we need to celebrate that.

There are people, not really people, but monsters, out in the world ready and willing to kill each and every one of us (Liberal or Conservative; Straight or Gay; Man or Woman; Young or Old).  Why? Because we have all these wonderful gifts and opportunities and they’re jealous.  Don’t help these creatures of evil.  Don’t add to their power.  Don’t be negative and don’t be a jerk.  Turn your back on all the garbage and go out there and make the world you want to live in.  Support each other, be kind, help one another, and if you don’t agree with someone then prove them wrong by words and deeds not by arguing and fighting.

Good things happen.  Dreams come true, when you push away all the crap and all the hate wonderful things happen, strangers give you opportunities. Friends break down into tears when you share your good luck.  You end up inspiring others.

I challenge everyone who reads this to do something positive, whatever that is.  Leave the pity party and get off the negative bandwagon.  Go out and do good.  It can be small like a friendly message of support on Facebook to big like volunteering in a homeless shelter or soup kitchen.  Just be kind and promote goodness. That is what we all need and I promise you goodness will find you.

Happy Memorial Day, don’t let their sacrifice be in vain.

As always I love to get comments so please feel free to leave your thoughts below.  If this Blog Post spoke to you, feel free to share it.  See you next time

Interview with Writer Vince Rockston

Is it time for a new author interview already?  It seems like we just had JB here. This month I’m excited to welcome a British writer now living in Switzerland Vince Rockston to my Scribbles page.

Greetings Vince. Thank you for taking the time to answer a few questions for me and my readers this month.

Thank you for having me.

To warm things up let’s start with what I hope is an easy question.  When you sit down to write do you aim for a set amount of words or pages?

No. (Chuckles) Funnily enough, I got much more writing done while I was employed full time than now when I’m retired. I think my metabolic rate slowed down considerably after the magic age of 65.

I guess that keeps it more relaxing and enjoyable?

You can say that.

Other then living in a beautiful part of the world I hope to visit some day, what inspires you to get out of bed each day?

I seldom have difficulty getting up. I have a morning routine – physical exercise, ablutions, listen to the news, breakfast, reading and meditating on daily Bible verses, reading my emails, making moves on my online games – before I start the day’s activities, which may or may not be working on my book.

That sounds like a great way to start the day.

I think so.

Lets bounce around, because I’m curious.  What’s your favorite movie and why?

I hardly ever watch movies.


I have great trouble assimilating fast-paced modern films and don’t want to titillate myself with sex scenes nor horrify myself with blood and gore. And – with a few exceptions, such as Narnia and Lord of the Rings – I’m not impressed by most fantasies.

There are a lot of bad movies out there, which is unfortunate.

Yes. However, one film I have watched several times and always enjoy is The Sound of Music with Julie Andrews – rather innocent fun and yet it touches on some deep issues, such as the purpose of a religious life, how much discipline is appropriate when bringing up children, and the moral pressures experienced by those who don’t wish to participate in war, as well as the age-old element of romance. 

I agree, that is an amazing movie.  I watched it all the time when I was younger.

Speaking of strong characters and amazing storytelling. Give us an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is so special?

My WIP Aquila – Can Silvanus escape that god? relates the life of Silvanus, a disturbed young lad who thinks his only hope for happiness is to escape his bitter father by acquiring a boat and leaving his home island of Ilva (Elba) to explore the world. Riches, treachery and romance throw him off track, but his main distraction is an encounter with the old hermit Cerbonius, whose wisdom and ethos challenge him to the core.

Silvanus grapples with the recluse’s ancient texts, discusses fundamental life issues with him, watches how he deals with conflict and learns about natural phenomena. He falls in love with and eventually marries a childhood acquaintance, who also helps him sort out his guilty conscience. His mentor’s dying requests lead to an encounter that challenges Silvanus to the extreme.

That sounds very deep and interesting.

I think it is.

You seem to have a very Zen way about you, so I’m wondering, is being a writer a gift or a curse?

It’s certainly not a curse. It’s partly a gift and partly hard work and determination. And I think for those who feel the inclination, ability and courage to write it’s a unique opportunity to entertain, challenge or educate others by letting the fantasy and inspiration pour out onto a written page. 

Isn’t that always the hope?

I think so and maybe they can even earn a bit of money at it; probably not much.

That’s the icing on the cake I believe.  Well that is all the time I have today.  Thank you so much for hoping over to my Scribbles page. I really enjoyed our chit-chat.

Thank you for the invite.

Keep us posted on Aquila – Can Silvanus escape that god

More about Vince Rockston

Vince enjoys the beautiful countryside around the little Swiss village where he lives, retired, with his Finnish wife, sharing a house with one son, his Brazilian wife and their Chihuahua. When he has a chance, he loves to go hiking in the mountains. He blogs as Greyowl (bilingual) and his historical fiction book is developing at AquilaElba is also on Facebook.

In order to earn a living, Vince started as a computer technician but soon advanced through a series of promotions to become a consultant for networking solutions. After 25 years in IT, a forced career change introduced him to the field of technical editing for a company developing encryption solutions. This turned out to match his character and skills very well, although it’s a long way from writing fiction.

Raising a family of three children, extended by a lively foster daughter and a dog; heavy involvement in a small evangelical church; and multiple business trips around the world – these filled most of Vince’s free time while he was working. Now that his children have flown the nest – though not gone very far – he is thrilled to be able to accompany his two grandchildren one afternoon per week and watch them develop, even though he gets exhausted.

The relative freedom of retirement has allowed Vince to take winter breaks with his wife to warmer climes, recently to Madeira and Tenerife. They enjoy the beautiful scenery, exotic plants and challenging hikes. The sparse historical information available about the indigenous people of the Canary Isles – Guanches – may inspire Vince to work on another historical novel. Who knows

Managing Multiple Writing Projects

First, let me start by saying, “Ugh!” This weeks blog is gonna be short, which I hope is cool with everyone.

Did you know there are literally hundreds of resources for managing multiple writing projects?  There are software programs, books, blogs, webinars, seminars, etc. It’s crazy.  I get people need help to focus; we all need that kind of help…

Oh look, squirrel.

Where was I? Oh right, staying focused.  Right now I have three projects I’m working on.  I’m writing A New World–Conspiracy, I’m writing TAD (my new writing project), and I want to edit/rework ‘The Reunion’ which was just published on Tall Tale TV, click here to check it out.

So, how do I keep it all under control?  I’m very basic.  I use outlines, notes, research, and character sheets. That’s all I use and for me that’s all I need.  I’m familiar with writers who use Scriverner and love it, which is great.  For me it’s one more item to manage.  It’s like using Microsoft Projects at the office, sure it works but you’ve got to manage it and populate it.  Ugh.  That’s way too much work for me. I like to keep it simple.

I understand that what works for me may not work for everyone and that’s great. What I’m really curious about today is what other writers think and use.  How do you keep everything you’re working on straight and organized?  Heck, you don’t even need to be a writer, just a busy person with a lot of balls in the air.  If you’ve got some great tips and tricks tell me.  Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Until next time, have a great week.

Our Experiment with a Meal Delivery Service (Part3)

Welcome to Part Three of our experiment with a Meal Kit Delivery Service. If you haven’t read Part One click here if you haven’t read Part Two (I’m gonna cry) click here.  As you should be familiar with by now, I’m hopping, we’ve been doing the Meal Service for three months and things are swimming along.  The food is still great. We’ve enjoyed everything, even things I wasn’t so sure about.
Shall we start?

As teased last month, I’m gonna tell you about how we save 20% on our meals and provide you some general advice and s few tips and tricks that we’ve learned.  So here goes.
Our trick for saving 20% on our Meal Kit Delivery Service is to buy gift cards.  We go to Costco (if you don’t have a Costco Membership talk to a friend who does) and buy the gift cards for the service it saves us an instant 20%.  Not very exciting and maybe a bit anticlimactic but that’s how we save money.  Every couple of weeks we head to Costco for whatever we need and pick up the gifts cards.  We don't make a special trip so getting the gift cards makes sense.
Another way you can save money on these services is to try a different one for the length of the free trial period.  I’m not a big fan of this method, but people do it and it works for them. There are several different meal delivery services out so bounce around and try different ones. Just don’t ask me what they do when they’ve tried them all and have to pay for it, cause I’m not sure.
Anyway, moving on.
What we’ve found with our Meal Kit Delivery Service is don’t be afraid to shake things up and experiment with what they give you.  We’ve got several spaghetti (red sauce) type dishes, and they were all right.  When we got the next one I decided I was going to shake things up, and I added my own Italian spices and it took the sauce to the next level, which really made me happy.

Don’t be afraid to add a little butter, yes it’s bad for you. Yes the meal services are trying to present you with a healthful meal option. Still, a little butter goes a long way for flavor. So, if you want to add some buttery flavor to what you're cooking or to vegetables go for it. I won’t tell.
Two of my co-workers, who are on the same plan as us, will put the spice rub or marinade on the meat the night before they cook it.  They say it adds a lot more flavor and I believe them.  I tried it once, and it really does amp up the flavor of the meat.
The other trick I have is, watch the salt.  Almost ever step instructs you to ‘salt and pepper to taste’ remember it’s ‘to taste’ so if you want to cut down on the salt do it.  To me this seemed like a no brainer, but you would be surprised at how you get caught up in following the step-by-step directions.
Speaking of directions.  Do yourself a favor and read through the direction at least twice before you start.  Then decide the steps you can combine and the ways to lower your pan and bowl count, cause you’re gonna use a lot of them.
When it comes to the oil always use olive oil or extra virgin olive oil.  It’s really the best way to cook everything.
When it comes to pans we use non-stick or cast iron.  So if you don’t have non-stick pans or cast iron get one.  It makes clean up so much easier.
When it comes to clean up, do it while things are cooking.  You’re gonna go through a lot of pains, bowls and knives so clean as you go.  Otherwise you’re gonna have a lot of clean up at the end.
And there you have it.  Everything I’ve learned about our Meal Kit Delivery Service.  If you want to try it, go for it.  The options are great and the food is good.  Even the stuff you may not love. We plan to keep going.  If we stop I’ll let you know and tell you why.
As with Part One and Part Two here are photos from our dinners. 

I hope you enjoyed this series and found it interesting and fun.  Feel free to ask questions.  In fact I encourage it.  I love hearing from you. 
Until next time have a great week.

Writing Update?

Over the last few Blogs I’ve talked about various topics, the most recent was about Slow Burn Books if you haven’t read it check it out here.  Anyway, I thought today I would provide an update on all my writing endeavors and surprisingly there are quite a few.

To start, I was recently asked to work on a training video project ‘Know Your Rights’ for the nonprofit I work for. It was a series of vignettes about what to do when ICE confronts you.  Each video would be a different scenario.  First, ICE comes to your home. Second, ICE comes to your work. Third, a police stop. And, fourth, how an agency is to respond when ICE comes to investigate clients.  We did an English and Spanish version.

Know Your Rights!

We spent a few weeks working on the script and in rehearsals.  The thing to point out here is none of the people were professionals.  So, they were relying on my limited experience.  Regardless, I spent whatever time I had with them running lines, rewriting and changing the script and working on blocking and preparing them for taping day.

The day of the video shoot came, and we spent a full day in studio with a crew of five.  I had designed the sets and costuming as well as handled make-up (I was wearing a lot of hats that day including directing).  With the shoot finished the next week I worked with the editor to pull it all together.  The finished product is something I’m exceedingly proud of, and the videos already hit over 600 views (in just a week).  Click here to go to their channel.

I’ve been asked to work with the Editor and take the vignettes and turn them into an actual DVD that other agencies can purchase.  So, that will be cool.

Channel trailer for Tall Tale TV.

My second update is if you follow me on Facebook and Twitter (which I hope you do), you should’ve seen my interactions with Chris over at Tall Tale TV. Chris takes short stories and converts them to audiobooks that you can listen to on his channel.  It's a great way to hear about new and upcoming authors. The channel is new so there isn’t a lot of content yet, but he’s growing it.  Anyway, he had a call for short story submissions and he selected one of mine.  I recently, the last few days, got word that my story ‘The Reunion’ will be airing in the next couple of weeks.  Once, I’m given the date you can be sure I’ll be letting you know.

My next major announcement is that I have a new work in progress underway, ‘T.A.D.’  This new story is set to be a novella and much shorter than my other works.  I don’t want to give away too much because things may change, but this story has elements of time travel and focuses on angles.  I’ve gotten some positive feedback from the first chapter so I’m excited to bring the outline to life. 

My final update is about my other works in progress.  ‘A New World – Contact’ is back with a couple of Beta Readers.  ‘A New World – Conspiracy’ is still in the writing process however, I’m happy to report that Act Two is now complete, which means I’m on to the final act; Act Three.  Yay!

This leaves me with an update for ‘The Calling’ it is complete and has gone through edits.  The rest I’m going to be a little cagey about because I’m hoping to have a big announcement about ‘The Calling’ in the next few months.

Those are my updates for now.  I'd love to hear what questions you have for me ask them in the comments and I'll answer.  Feel free to share this blog with others who will find it interesting.

See you next time.

Are Slow Burn Books Dead?

I’ve been wondering lately what people think of slow burn (slow paced) novels.  I don’t mean novels that go on-and-on about a rope unwinding, or describe every single item in a room to a reader.  What I’m talking about are stories that start off slow, allow readers to become familiar with the characters and their surrounding situations.  The reader actually gets to care about these people and their lives before all holy hell breaks loose.

This was a big topic of discussion on the writers group I belong to.  Most people agree there should be an inciting incident happening pretty quick (as soon as the first couple of paragraphs and no later than chapter five for all books). If you don’t know what an ‘inciting incident’ is it’s an episode, plot point or event that hooks the reader into the story. This particular moment is when an event thrusts the protagonist into the main action of the story.

Anyway, I agree with the need for an inciting incident I don’t see the need to be so fast.  I find in a lot of books/novels these days’ authors drop the reader right into the action, normally within the first few paragraphs. If not, the first paragraph.

So people love this.  It reminds them of movies and it gets their heart beating and, for them, it’s the best way for a novel to begin.

For me, I’ve hardly gotten to learn anything about these people, so why do I care if some monster, explosion or whatever is chasing them.

It’s only chapter two and their mother died in their arms.  The house they lived in blew up and aliens (or vampires or zombies or whatever) are rounding up the survivors.  Well lovely, but hey, could I maybe get the characters last name first.  Perhaps, find out that they have brown hair and green eyes.  I need to connect with these people.  I need to relate to them.

Is that too much to ask? 

Am I expecting too much?

Or worse yet, I’m I the only one who cares about this stuff? Clearly I’m not, because there are tons of books out there that move at a slower pace.

Still, is fast passed action, action, action all that people want?  Look at our movies and TV shows, you barely get any character information before you’re thrust into the action sequence.

Ugh, it gives me whiplash.

So, I continue to wonder are slow burn books dead? I hope not. Because if that’s the case, as a wannabe author, I’m screwed.  Two of my works in progress are what I would consider longish stories.  One ‘The Calling’ hovers around 100k words.  The other ‘A New World – Contact’ is around 169k words.  Currently, I’ve been trimming them both down, trying to cut the fat and leave the flavor.  It’s a slow process.

So, I’m asking, what do you all think? Do you care about these things or do you want a good story that you can sink your teeth in and enjoy?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Remember, you can always like and share this blog post.  It lets me know what you all want to talk about.  What are your thoughts on this topic?

See ya soon.

Interview with Writer JB Reynolds

Welcome back to my continuing series of conversations with various authors. This month I’m pleased to welcome a New Zealand writer JB Reynolds to my Scribbles page.

JB welcome. Thank you for taking the time to answer a few questions for me and my readers this month.

Pleased to be here.

Lets’ dive right in shall we. Once you write your work who do you get it ready? Do you proofread and edit all your own books or do you get someone to do that for you?

I edited the first couple of stories, but wanted to engage the services of a professional editor with my forthcoming story Square Pegs. I think if you’re serious about indie-publishing it’s a necessary step. You’re just too close to your own work, and you miss things. My editor made some changes, nothing major, but numerous little things, and there were things in there that I would never have considered. I’ve rejected some of her suggestions but have gone with the majority of them. It’s made for a better story.

Having a dedicated editor, for an indie-author seems costly was it?

I thought her chargers were reasonable.  She charges per hour and it took her two and a half hours to edit my story.  I was impressed by how thorough she was.  It certainly made a difference to the quality of my story.

Good to know.

Something we as authors all get asked, so I have to ask it here, is where do your ideas come from?

(Chuckles) Who knows? Just from being alive, I guess. You live life, you meet people, you see things, you hear things, you read things. I think a lot. Much of that thinking is pretty shallow, but my brain is constantly working things over, and when the time is right, usually when I’m alone (which doesn’t happen all that often when you have three young children), an idea sometimes rises up out of the murk, like a swamp monster, and takes shape.

Swamp Monster, I’m going to have to remember that.

Considering you have a few books out there, what do your fans mean to you?

I don’t have so many fans as yet, but I think they’re a big deal. I really appreciate it when someone takes the time out of their day to make the commitment to subscribe to my mailing list, or follow me on Facebook, or add me as a favorite on something. They don’t have to do that, and when they do, it makes all the difference and I’m very thankful. I try to maintain a dialogue with them and show my appreciation. 

Speaking of keeping in touch with fans and building a fan base, did you do a press release, Goodreads book launch or anything else to promote your work and did it work?

I haven’t done a press release or Goodreads book launch. I wanted to try doing some different things for the launch of Square Pegs. My editor suggested I change one of the character names so I posted on Facebook asking for suggestions for names and got a great response and a much improved character name from that. I’m going to do the same with the cover art—do 2 or 3 versions and ask which one people prefer. I want to try and engage my potential audience and try to create a bit of buzz in the lead up to its release.

That’s a really smart idea.  Anytime you can engage your audience is a smart move.

Last question, and this is a fun one.  Tell me what inspires you to get out of bed each day?

Just the thought that if I keep chipping away at this writing thing, little by little, I’ll get better, and there’s no reason why I can’t make it work for me, no reason why I can’t make some money from it.

Thank you JB for taking the time to stop by.  The time always goes so quickly

Thank you for the invite.

Let us know when your next book is released, would love to hear more about it.

More about JB Reynolds

JB Reynolds at home.

JB Reynolds at home.

J.B. Reynolds lives in rural Northland, New Zealand, where he raises children and chickens. He writes humorous short fiction, where tragedy meets comedy and character reigns supreme. His first short story was published while he was a university student, and in between that and a return to serious writing in 2016, he has worked as a graphic designer, landscaper, ski and snowboard technician, librarian, apple picker, and baker of muffins and teacakes.

Nowadays, when not writing, he’s a husband, father, and high school teacher (not necessarily in that order). He enjoys sailing, cycling, and playing music, really loud, when his wife and kids aren’t at home. He has a big garden, where he likes to get his fingernails dirty, and he loves to eat the things that grow in it.

He is currently working on his Crossing The Divide short story series. The stories in the series feature different characters and switch between locations in New Zealand and Australia, but they are all, in a way, coming of age stories and are linked through the theme of relationships. Find all of JB Reynolds books here and here. You can find JB Reynolds on Facebook and on his website.

Religion in non-Religious Books

To begin, in general I love religion. Belief in God plays such a strong role in our society that to ignore it as a writer is a mistake.  You’re doing a disservice to the reader and the story.  Now, I’m not saying to go in and make fun of religion (unless that is the point of your novel, article or short), or bash people over the head with your religious view.  Writers need to treat faith like they would treat any other topic.

It’s important so why ignore it.

The reason I bring this up is that as a writer all my stories hold some link to faith and a belief system of some kind.  I try to be fair with how I present the subject, and I don’t get preachy with beliefs in a Higher Power, and I steer clear of making fun of it. That said, I will point out hypocrisy because all faiths have it.

Regardless, I truly love religion (at one point I wanted to study World Religions) and I love how it affect us, who we are as a people and what we believe as a collective human culture.  Not to mention how we consider our fellow man.  Its saddens me when we attack each other for our religious beliefs. Because when you boil all beliefs in a High Power down to the basic ideal they are all pretty much the same.  There is so much that is wrong in the world today. Do we have to bring out the religious drums and beat them and attack each other over it?

I don’t think so.

Back to my point about religion in stories and as a fact in the lives of the character’s.  For me the subject of belief adds another layer to the character and their development.  When I create a character, I make a point to know what faith they are.  Even if it never comes up, because it will affect the decisions they make, for good and for bad.  Having that character knowledge helps with the details in the story.  Example:

A Jewish or Muslim character won’t typically eat pork;
A Mormon character won’t drink alcohol, caffeine (well some do) or curse;
A Catholic character may tend to be lax about some Catholic teachings; (divorce, contraception, fish on Fridays, church on Sundays, etc.) while being anti-abortion;
A Baptist character can be extremely religious (church every Sunday, bible study, heavy church involvement, etc.).

These are some general examples. How religion affects our characters, how they choose to believe, and how they practice their faith can be different for each one.  Faith in a Higher Power is different for each person. So, as writers we need to know this about our characters.

You may not want to have your Jewish main character eating a BLT on the Sabbath, or your Muslim main character having a huge meal at lunch during Ramadan, or your Mormon main character having a double espresso with a shot of bourbon at a party, or your Catholic main character having a fat juice steak on a Friday night during Lent, or your Baptist main character watching the big game on Sunday.

Again, these are just examples and I’m not saying it’s a rule (there are no rules in crafting your characters).

Once you know your character’s faith, you can play with it in the stories.  It can be a little flavor or spice thrown into the mix.

In ‘A New World - Contact’ I have a Catholic main character married to a Mormon secondary character, and I play with that dynamic.  I also, have a Baptist character who is good friends with a Russian Orthodox character, again you don’t know this as a reader because I don’t tell you in the story but it affects all the character motivations.

In ‘A Calling’ the main character was born Catholic, but his family wasn’t religious so he wasn’t religious. This was kind of fun to play with during the story.  It eventually becomes a major plot point in the work.

The other thing about religion in stories is faith helps with character motivations especially when those beliefs are called into question.  It allows the writer to add another layer of drama to why the character acts the way they do.  Imagine having all your beliefs suddenly called into question.  Stop and think about that for a moment.  How would you react?  How would that affect your life?  What would you have to change?  Would you be able to change, or would it be too much for you to cope with?

Interesting thought. Right? 

Faith in non-religious books, what do you think?  Yay, or Nay?  Feel free to share your thoughts below.  Remember you can always ‘like’ and ‘share’ this blog post.  It lets me know what you want to talk about. What you find interesting. What you would rather not see.  I’d love to hear from folks on this topic. 

See ya soon.

Writing Ideas. Where do they come from, and how do I process them?

About a month or so ago I sat down and began editing ‘A New World - Conspiracy’. There was nothing special about editing that day. I was using the time to rework a couple of chapters.  Anyway, as I sat at my computer I started thinking about recent world events, fate and that sort of stuff.  As I edited, I heard a voice in the back of my mind.

I’ve been told hearing voices is normal for writers - it’s also a sign of madness so, you know, both could apply in my case.

Moving on. Voices and all.

This voice started telling me about himself and started telling me his story.

Me trying to listen to the Voice in my head.

Me trying to listen to the Voice in my head.

I stopped what I was doing and began taking notes because what he was telling me was pretty interesting.  Once he finished his introduction and telling me a bit of his story, he was gone.  I was left with a page of notes and several questions.

Over the next few weeks I started putting together an outline and a basic prologue.  Then I opened my trunk of characters (I keep about fifty or so various stock characters sitting around for development in my novels should one of them fit). I found a character I’ve always loved and thought would be appropriate for this new story.

So, now with some notes, a very basic outline, and a few characters I started putting things together.  I came up with a premise for the story and I started tossing the idea around my writers group.  I received some constructive feedback and a few suggestions.  These notes and remarks helped me to focus on what I wanted to say. Also, I got a feel for what would be important to the tale. Now the story is starting to come together and I’m putting together a plan for it.

Oh, and I’ve gotten the buy in by my new main character.  He seems happy with the ideas so far.

But how does this affect the other stories that are waiting in the cue to be written?  That’s an interesting question. I suppose, I work in the way of the ‘squeaky wheel’ this particular story idea is one that keeps coming up.  So, I know that I really want to work on this new idea, which means a few of my other stories are left on the stove to simmer.

What brings this story to the forefront of my writing list is how different it is from anything else I have planned out.  And different is good. The other way I realize my new story needs attention is right now my new tale is geared to be a short story, which excites me. I want to see if I can write a short.

Also, the other interesting bit I’ve noticed about this new idea and new main character is that all my other main characters have stepped out of the way.  They’ve kind of cleared the decks to make way for the new kid, which is nice of them.  

I love when all my characters play nice with each other.

Anyway, that is how I work with my writing ideas and that is one example of how a new story idea comes to me.  If you have specific questions, feel free to ask.  I love hearing from folks.  I normally get back to questions within a few hours

Our Experiment with a Meal Kit Delivery Service (Part 2)

This is Part Two of our experiment with a Meal Kit Delivery Service.  If you haven’t read Part One click here. We’ve been doing the Meal Service for two months now and things are moving along nicely. We’re still enjoying and looking forward to getting our weekly box with our food and menus for the week.

In this installment, I want to talk about portions and value for the dollar.  This is a big topic online and even amongst my coworkers, family and friends.  They ask or say things like, “Is it really filling?”, “That doesn’t seem like a lot of food.”, “Oh, I’ve heard of that but it seems kind of expensive.”, “It looks really complicated, is it?”, etc. So, let’s get to it. Shall we?

When it comes to portions and meal size, you need to understand one thing about me (and my hubby, but me more so) I love food.  I love to eat and I really love good food.  As I tell my friends, “you don’t get a body like mine, but passing up on seconds or sometimes, if the meal’s really good, thirds.” So, I was worried about portions.  When we got our first box, and I looked at what they said was three meals I thought, “well crap, that doesn’t look like near enough food.” We got things like two sweet potatoes as a side dish, or a quarter of a head of cabbage, or basically a cup of dried rice.  Those were the side dishes?  Ugh. Then I looked at the proteins and I almost laughed. Ten Ounces of ground beef for two grown men. Who were they kidding?

Anyway, our first meal was Burgers and Slaw with Roasted Sweet Potatoes. We skeptically followed the directions and put the meal together.  After it was altogether and looked similar to the picture on the direction, we sat down to eat.  As I’ve mentioned before the meal was excellent, but the big question came when we finished and looked at each other.  I asked Eric, “So, are you full?”  he looked at me and said. “Actually, yes.”  I nodded my agreement.  To our surprise we were both full.  Sure, we could have both had another burger, but we didn’t need it.  We were satisfied.

And satisfied is how I would describe every meal thereafter.  Have we been stuffed?  No.  But after each meal we were full and comfortable.  Which, I’ll admit was a nice feeling.

What the Meal Service does well is portion control.  What you think might not be enough food actually is.  Are there leftovers?  Nope.  Not in my house.  But I have a co-worker who only eats half her meal and saves the rest for lunch the next day.  She’s not a big eater.

A foreign concept to me.

One of the side benefits of the Meal Service is we’re not eating as much, which has the additional side benefit of us both dropping a few pounds.  Not a lot, but still I’ve noticed.

Major Disclaimer and I want to make this very clear.  The Meal Service is not a diet plan.  Not by a long shot. So, don’t confuse the two.

Now, let’s talk about value for the buck.

This is another big area that people question, and I did too.  But, what I’m finding is that for the quality of the ingredients (organic, locally grown, blah, blah, blah) we’re getting the cost seems right.  “But, how can you say that?”  I hear all the collective yells.  Very simply, our Meal Service costs $60.00 a week (three meals $20 each, six servings $10 each) Eric, and I have made two receipts on our own, using the exact ingredients from the provided receipts.

When we went to the store to buy everything for the meals it actually cost us more per person.  One, was $10.75 per person (this was for the Fried Rice) and the other was just under $11.50 per person (this was for the Chicken Enchiladas).  So not a lot, but that is how it broke down on the days we bought the ingredients.

Now, I’m sure if we bought the food on a different day the costs might have changed, but considering how close everything was cost wise it all worked out and I’m not that much a penny pincher.

When it all comes down to it, the quality and the quantity of the meals is worth every cent we’ve paid. However, we’re not paying full price for our Meal Kit Delivery Service plan.  

“What?” you ask.

“How?” you say.

Well, you’ll have to wait for my next installment to find out my cost saving tips and tricks. As well as some overall general advice for how to make the most of the Meal Kit Deliver Service.

As with Part One here are my photos from our dinners.  Yes, we really did make all of these. I’m quite impressed with how good they all look

Hmm, maybe I should be a food photographer. Have a great week everyone.

Main Character Portraits

This was some character concept art that was started but never finished.  The drawings are rough and the characters changed, but the artist did a nice job, just wish he could have finished the project.

This was some character concept art that was started but never finished.  The drawings are rough and the characters changed, but the artist did a nice job, just wish he could have finished the project.

Over the past few months I’ve been considering, again, having characters portraits created for several of my characters in my different WIPs. I’ve tried this before, but the projects never got completed and I’ve shared some of the drafts on my Facebook page, which people seemed to like.

For me the purpose of this would be two-fold.  If I decide to self-publish, I’m going to need amazing book covers. So, character portraits would be a good way to try out some artists and see how well we work together. I would also be able to get feedback from you on how you like the style and quality of work.

Style wise, I prefer things a little darker and more moody.  Keeping a nice balance of lights and darks.  With character portraits I would be able to gage reaction and see if that works. I, also, thought they would be a fun way for people to visualize the characters.  I’ve heard of different writers doing the same thing.  So, I’m curious at what you all think?  Would you be interesting in portraits of the main characters?  Or, is that something you don’t think is necessary? Or, worse, is that something that you think would take away from the story?

Anyway, please let me know and if you’re another author please feel free to share your experience with me if you’ve done character portraits or any other visual type representation of your stories.  I’d love to learn about your experiences.

Have a great week and drop me a line I love hearing from folks

Interview with Writer Trin Carl

As part of my continuing series of interviews with various writers, this month I welcome to Trin Carl to my Scribbles page.

Trin, let’s jump right into the nitty-gritty. When it comes to your writing do you work from an outline plot or do you prefer to just see where an idea takes you? 

I like to see where ideas take me.  I could write a paragraph and see something totally different come out of it, and then I just go with that train of thought vs. my original idea.  I could write pages alone on a new tangent idea that came to me.  My longest writing experience has been 7,000 words in a day.

7,000 Words in one day I bet that wasn’t easy.

No, it wasn’t an easy endeavor. I had to change settings a lot.  You see, I had been participating in Nanowrimo in 2013 and I was writing with a group of writers and we had jumped from Peace Coffee to Royal Grounds to Riverside Cafe (sort of like bar hopping)Each stop, I’d write for twenty minutes to writing prompts.  It was sorta like a marathon to me.

Speaking to your writing do you proofread and edit all your own books or do you get someone to do that for you? 

I’ve only began allowing others to edit my work in the past three years.  Having others edit my work has flourished my interest in writing.  I think it was Hemingway who strongly believed in the importance of peer editing and that having writers in your corner will only help you.

I would agree with that.  The more we can help each the better writers we become.

You mentioned for your writing marathon you changing locations. What would you say are the main advantages and disadvantages of writing in varied environments vs. writing in the same environment every day?

I always write in varied environments and make it a habit of never writing from home.

Really, never writing at home?

I feel home is a place you hang your hat but it’s also filled with distractions.  Right now, in fact, I’m writing from the comforts of work.  I am lucky in that I work in a place where I have time to write, and boy do I take advantage of this.  I wake up sometimes around 4am just to write at work.  Did I mention I’m allowed to sleep at work too? (Laughs to self)

That kind of support is great.  What about writing compliments you received can you list one for us?

One of the best writing comments I’ve gotten is from a reader who said, “I can tell you’ve been a writer for a long time just by reading your work.  You’ve got rhythm.”  One of my most popular poems is called Sippin’ on Some Sizzer just to give you an idea.  It’s the feedback you get from your readers that is pure motivation.  I thank all my fans every day for pushing me along.

Well said.  Fans are amazing.

Sadly, we’re to my last question. Do you have help from other writers in publishing your book?

I have yet to publish my novel.  It’s still in progress but I know a handful of writers from Minnesota who have had their books published on Amazon and in print form.  I meet with them once a week at Dunn Brothers Coffee shop.  They write in all forms of genres including Historical Fiction, Sci Fi/fantasy and literary.  One of my colleagues, Tim Mahoney, has published nine novels. Dead Messenger, a thriller novel based on a Minnesota, 1930’s Barker gang is my favorite.

Sometimes I get comments from the writers in the group like, “I don’t write YA but your work is very appealing.  It has a certain tone.”  Or, they say that my main character reminds them of the MC in Kent Krueger’s, “Ordinary Grace.”  Our group stays late into the night discussing while sippin’ down volumes of coffee.  We often have book signing parties that celebrate our work.

That all sounds great. I wish I had more time to spend with you today.  Thank you for taking the time out of your day to do this interview.

It was fun thanks for having me.

Keep us posted on your work I would love to spotlight you and your novel when you get it published.

More about Trin Carl:

Trin Carl writes YA and Literary fiction.  She enjoys contemporary dance and writing her blog 50schoolsn90days on Blogger.  From Minnesota, Trin enjoys the outdoors and all the seasons, especially the fall as it reminds her of her days teaching and attending school at Metropolitan State University.  She can be contacted on twitter @theglobaldig or on Goodreads.