“It’s very easy to quit during the first ten years of writing. Nobody cares whether you write or not, and it’s very hard to write when nobody cares one way or the other. You can’t get fired if you don’t write, and most of the time you don’t get rewarded if you do. But don’t quit.” Andre Dubus

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Famous writers' tips on writing -- 10 Writing Tips from Joyce Carol Oates

Hello there!

I'm glad you dropped by. I can't leave Yolanda Renee's guest post up forever so...I'm blogging to tell you I'm not blogging much any more.

I've been blogging since 2007 (((gulp))) and have never really taken a blog break, even when I've been travelling. It's time.

It's only a kinda blog break, because for now: I'll be:

Why am I doing this?

Like many who've left the blogosphere or have taken a long break, I'm having trouble fitting everything in. Coming up with posts is super fun, but I don't believe in posting then not returning comments which is what takes a whackeroo amount of time.

Things I've got going:

- I'm on the final round of rewrites for my Paris novel which I've been working on chapter by chapter with two wonderfully savvy critique partners - we swop chapters, print them out, then meet face to face every month. Wow. It's made such a difference to me and my writing. 

- I've rewritten my paranormal romance, have got a new cover design, now I have to decide if my books are going to be published under a pen name...which means a lot of work but may well be worth it...some advise against the pen name, pointing out that I've got all this social media capital under my real name, but I've discovered that the people who follow me on social media don't buy my books, so what's to lose? 

- I'm doing a great deal of study of writing, especially in plot and structure.


I came across these at Authors Publish and would like to share them with you. If you visit the link, you will find tips from other famous writers.

  1. Write your heart out.
  2. The first sentence can be written only after the last sentence has been written. FIRST DRAFTS ARE HELL. FINAL DRAFTS, PARADISE.
  3. You are writing for your contemporaries — not for Posterity. If you are lucky, your contemporaries will become Posterity.
  4. Keep in mind Oscar Wilde: “A little sincerity is a dangerous thing, and a great deal of it is absolutely fatal.”
  5. When in doubt how to end a chapter, bring in a man with a gun. (This is Raymond Chandler’s advice, not mine. I would not try this.)
  6. Unless you are experimenting with form — gnarled, snarled or obscure — be alert for possibilities of paragraphing.
  7. Be your own editor/critic. Sympathetic but merciless!
  8. Don’t try to anticipate an ideal reader — or any reader. He/she might exist — but is reading someone else.
  9. Read, observe, listen intensely! — as if your life depended upon it.
  10. Write your heart out.
  • Did you like the writing tips? 
  • Any tip stand out for you?
  • Do you practise any of these tips?

Thanks for coming by!

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

#IWSG day is the day for The Snowman blog tour--my guest, Yolanda Renee! 10 Top Warning Signs for when your publisher is not into publishing. And 5 things NOT to do when publishing your book.

Hi Yolanda. After that gory introduction above, welcome to my blog today. Today, it's IWSG day, but on my blog, it's all about you. I'm beyond thrilled you've decided to go with this hot button issue which I know has caused you a truckload of insecurity over many months. The best we can hope for is that this cautionary tale will prevent other authors falling into the trap.

The IWSG is Alex J Cavanaugh's dream child. His awesome co-hosts for the May 3 posting of the IWSG are Nancy Gideon, Tamara Narayan, Liesbet @ Roaming About, Michelle Wallace, and Feather Stone!
Thanks Alex and ladies. Readers, please visit them if you can.

Top 10 warning signs your publisher is not into publishing.

1.     Professional edits are not performed.
2.     Proofreads are not completed.
3.     Book signings are not scheduled.
4.     News releases are not released.
5.     Correspondence is not answered.
6.     Promised markets are not delivered.
7.     Continuous excuses are made.
8.     Staff changes constantly.
10. Royalty checks get ‘lost’ in the mail.

Today, anyone can open a business, even a publishing business. It only takes minutes to get an EIN - Employer Identification Number. This is required in the US to open a business – it’s different for each country.
And if you have the patience for formatting you can publish your book, or someone else’s book – Amazon makes it simple!
I reissued all three of my formerly published books, after regaining the rights, on Amazon as a Kindle, and then as a paperback in one week! Note: I had experience with self-publishing and knew the process. But Amazon gives explicit instructions, and anyone can do it!
If you can do this, you can become a publisher, and sadly, this is what is happening daily. Many new publishers are popping up overnight, and with just these simple skills they can take 50 to 60% of your profits – royalties, and give you pennies on the dollar – deducting for so called edits, proofreading, cover design, etc.!
Anyone can apply to Ingram Spark and other book release sites. These steps are simple and while time consuming – once learned, very simple.
The point – anyone can open a publishing company, and many have. The list above is just a small sample of the things that can go wrong when the company is only in the business to make as much money off a novice writer as possible.
If a company has opened its doors overnight – you may get a professional looking contract, but if the actions on that contract aren’t followed, you have a piece of paper and nothing more.
My advice, learn the process, self-publish at least one book on Amazon and see for yourself how simple it really is. This is eye opening and empowering. Good luck!

I would be happy to discuss my personal experiences further with any of you.  Contact me: yolandarenee@hotmail.com

Top 5 things not to do when releasing a new book.

1.     Do Not Decide to Sell your house!
2.     Do Not Sign up for the A to Z Challenge.
3.     Do Not Re-publish your first 3 books in a week.
4.     Do Not Hold two - 3-day long garage sales to get rid of all your crap.
5.     Do Not Schedule a blog book tour covering 30 days that require your undivided attention and multiple guest posts!

Yes, I did all this during the month of April. Believe me – you DON’T want to follow my lead!

Denise, thank you for hosting me during the Snowman tour. Readers, thank you for coming by and reading. I hope I've helped someone who might be going through what I did.

Denise's review: 

If you don't mind sending your heart rate sky high, if you don't mind trying to read with your eyes closed, if you don't mind feeding blood-fuelled nightmares, The Snowman is the book for you. 
At the other end of the spectrum, if you like a roller-coaster ride of mega proportions, if you like a fast-paced psychological thriller, if you like to delve into the criminal mind, this is the book for you. 
Excellent racy writing by the author, Yolanda Renee. Well edited - don't those two words bring joy to my heart!
 A joy to read, even with your eyes closed...oh, and I think there's an audio book coming just in case...

And there's more...

There's a GIVEAWAY you can enter, HERE...open until June 6.

Should you love The Snowman, Yolanda has 3 books in the Detective Quaid series she's recently republished on Amazon.


May 1 – Juneta @ Writer’s Gambit – Author Guest Post

May 2 – Romance Under Fire – Review & Excerpt

May 3 – Denise Covey – Review & Author Guest Post              
                                                 Random Thoughts – Excerpt

May 4 – The Silver Dagger Scriptorium – Excerpt & Author Guest Post

May 5 – Julie Flanders, Writer – Excerpt

May 8 – Alex J. Cavanaugh – Top 10 List
                  Christine Rains – Writer – Author Guest Post

May 9 – Mello & June, It’s a Book Thang – Feature

May 10 – Pat Hatt Books – Author Q&A

May 11 – A Bluestocking’s Place – Feature

May 12 – Lexa Cain – Feature
                   Elizabeth Seckman, Author – Author Guest Post

May 15 – Just Us Book Blog – Excerpt
                   Writers & Authors – Author Guest Post

May 16 – Reading for the Stars and Moon – Excerpt

May 17 – Pat Garcia Book Reviews – Review

May 18 – The Bookworm Chronicles – Excerpt & Feature

May 19 – I Think; Therefore, I Yam – Interview with Stowy

May 22 – The Five Year Project – Author Guest Post

May 24 – Bound 2 Escape – Excerpt

May 25 – Reviews by Crystal – Author Q&A

May 26 – J Bronder Book Reviews – Review

May 29 – FUONLYKNEW – Review

May 30 – Mason Canyon

May 31 – Celticlady’s Reviews – Excerpt

June 1 – bookworm1102 – Excerpt
Scattergun Scribblings – Author Guest Post   
                 Rainy Day Reviews – Review & Excerpt

June 2 – Cheryl’s Book Nook – Review  
                  Libby Heily – Review & Excerpt

Thanks for coming by today!

  • Has your publisher ever let you down?
  • Have you read any of Yolanda's thrillers?

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

P is for Poetry. Write...Edit...Publish -- April challenge -- Peace and Love -- my flash fiction. Peace and Love and Pomegranates, set in Afghanistan.

Hello! It's time for the Write...Edit...Challenge. Today, you'll find some bloggers who participate in the A-Z, using their 'P' day to write to the WEP prompt, PEACE & LOVE. April is poetry month, but we're not asking people to write poetry if that's not their forte. It's certainly not mine; I'll leave it to the experts.

Today, my flash fiction is inspired by the poem by Ella Wheeler Wilcox, the poem which is the inspiration for the WEP challenge. With a light hand, I've sprinkled some of the sentiments throughout my story.

I'm a day early, but WEP likes early entries so the reading is spread over the week. So, here we go...

There are two angels, messengers of light,
    Both born of God, who yet are bitterest foes.
    No human breast their dual presence knows.
As violently opposed as wrong and right,
When one draws near, the other takes swift flight,
    And when one enters, thence the other goes.
    Till mortal life in the immortal flows,
So must these two avoid each other's sight.
Despair and hope may meet within one heart,
The vulture may be comrade to the dove!
Pleasure and Pain swear friendship leal and true:
But till the grave unites them, still apart
Must dwell these angels known as Peace and Love,
For only Death can reconcile the two.
Poetical works of Ella Wheeler Wilcox. by Ella Wheeler Wilcox 
Edinburgh : W. P. Nimmo, Hay, & Mitchell, 1917.

Peace and Love and Pomegranates

I dedicate this story to all those caught up in war, terrorism and other atrocities, to whom peace is a distant dream.

Daily Mail UK

Outside was a sun-baked, bright-skied Afghan day, the kind where Hallie itched to be outdoors. She dreamed of driving her beat-up Toyota to the green-folded mountains that surrounded the city of Kabul. From her vantage point overlooking the valley, she wouldn’t see the scars, the emptiness, the bombed-out places.

She smoothed her purple satin bedspread, then dusted the candlesticks in their hand-blown glass containers and placed them beside her bed. Then she knelt, head in hands and prayed. Would her prayers be answered today? It’d been weeks since he left on his clandestine mission of peace in a country that had never really known peace.

She hurried downstairs where the lunch crowd was multi-tasking—gulping espresso from colourful demitasse cups, sipping mint green tea from long glasses, wolfing down Shari’s food, while scanning newspapers for the latest news on those opposing forces, President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani and the Taliban.

She despaired of this Islamic republic achieving peace in her lifetime. This was a land of warriors. Warriors needed wars.

She stood at the bottom of the stairs and chewed her thumb, admiring the brown door Bosco had built for her before he went away to investigate the latest bomb blast in Kandahar.

“It has to be at least a foot thick,” he’d said, “or the NGOs will no longer authorise you as a safe restaurant.” He’d hammered in the last nail, then stepped back to admire his handiwork. She knew he wanted her safe, but they both knew the only protection between her café and the treacherous streets of the city was a flimsy wall. Just last week her front windows had been shattered by a random blast at the nearby food markets. The gaping holes mocked her—You’re next, they whispered.

The room hushed. Westerners in suits and jeans and locals in shalwaar kameezes and turbans turned towards the brown door which her security man, Asmaan, pushed open. They studied the new arrival as he ambled towards the counter like he was taking a casual stroll through Central Park. He looked exotic in this setting—tall, blond hair, dressed in black, eyes hidden behind wraparound Ray Bans. A machine gun hung over his shoulder, a sidearm swung from each hip and who knows what was hidden in his boots.
Maybe he’d come for a plate of Shari’s Qabli Pulao, or perhaps some qorma, a platter of melon from Mazar-e-Sharif? No, more likely pomegranates from Kandahar. 

Hallie clutched the counter until her legs stilled. “Hey there cowboy!” She held out her arms. “Can we trade? Guns for lunch?”

He was so close he could touch her.

He crushed her in his arms, kissing her breathless…hmm, imagination was a wonderful thing.

He scoped the room, then handed his armoury to Asmaan, who stashed it under the counter. Behind his shades, Hallie felt his eyes daring her to search him for the knife and pistol she knew he had strapped to his thigh.

“Now, what’ll it be, cowboy?” Hallie gestured to the table near the door, where he liked to sit and watch the comings and goings. As they walked, she pressed closer to him until his leg brushed hers. His black shirt strained at buttons her fingers itched to rip; those broad shoulders…she longed to massage away the knots; that bronco belt buckle, oh Lord... She dropped into a chair, breathing in short gasps, pushing her heart back into her chest.

He sat opposite, grinning. He knew her so well. He pushed his shades on top of his head. His black eyes lingered on her freshly-washed hair which fell to her shoulders in a mass of red curls she hadn't tried to straighten, then moved to her breasts, which pushed impertinently against the bodice of the floaty dress she’d bought at the market.

“I’m not hungry for food, Hallie,” he growled, shuffling his chair closer to hers.

“No? Look at everyone stuffing their faces. Ta da!” She snapped her fingers. “The best food in Kabul. A fresh shipment of pomegranates arrived this morning.”

"I brought you some." He seemed enthralled by her twitchy hands. He couldn’t touch her here with the local men watching their every move through slitted eyes, but even so, she could feel his fingers closing over hers, the strength of his grip, the warmth of his breath mingled with hers.

“My darling,” he whispered in that sexy tone she loved. “’The heavens set your appetites in motion’, Dante says. My appetites can’t be slaked by Shari’s food.”

“Is that right, cowboy?” Hallie wanted out of here, wanted his hands on her. She pushed away her chair and walked towards the stairs...fast, feeling every male eye boring into her back.

Asmaan stood, gun across his chest, guarding the stairs. “May Allah hear your prayers,” he said. Hallie blinked at him. He winked at her.

As soon as they reached the landing, Bosco scooped her into his arms and ran with her into the bedroom. The sound of his boot kicking the door charged the air with their need.

This was why she stayed. Hallie had followed him to one of the most dangerous countries in the world, terrifying her parents, her friends. But she’d never leave while Bosco was here...


The muezzin’s call to prayer woke her. She could still feel Bosco all over her—the desperation in his kisses, the pressure of his arms wrapped around her, the delicious scent of him.

She clutched the silken sheet around her shivering body. Night was falling, shaking the last light from the dusty air. The cooing of laughing turtledoves in the rooftops clashed with the wop-wop-wop of helicopters overhead.

He was gone. Like the pomegranates they’d fed each other in her bed. She was as empty as the champagne flutes that had overflowed with sparkling stars as they’d toasted those angels of peace and love, while knowing that only death could reconcile the two.

Salaamat! Hallie joined her prayers with thousands across the troubled city. “Be safe, my darling.”

Then, the bomb.

Close. Too close.

Her windows shattered.

The acrid smoke burned her lungs.

She clutched her heart.

You're next!

Oh, the pleasure and pain.

                            Image result for blog dividers graphicsImage result for blog dividers graphics

I hope you enjoyed my story for Poetry Month. Click on the links with a DL (Direct Link) after the name in my sidebar for more entries in the April WEP challenge or go to the WEP website.  

Product DetailsAnd thrilling news! Yolanda Renee's new story, The Snowman, is out on Amazon in e-book and print. If you love detective thrillers, you'll love Yolanda's book. Go HERE to read a free sample, then make Yolanda's day -- BUY! 

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

#IWSG post - Do you use a pen name?

Time for the April IWSG. Thank you to Alex J Cavanaugh and his side kicks for the month--Christopher D. Votey,Madeline Mora-Summonte, Fundy Blue, and Chrys Fey! 

Man, did I ever get a nasty surprise this morning when I checked whether my IWSG post had gone live--it'd disappeared. You can imagine my frustration. I'd prepared it a few weeks ago so I could clear my slate for an April write fest.

I really don't have the heart to redo the whole thing with pictures etc, so I'll just get to the question of the day--no, not the suggested question about whether I've ever used the A-Z to market a book--my question today is 'what do you think of pen names/pseudonyms?' I've been thinking of republishing under a pen name after attending a Joanna Penn workshop--she publishes under Joanna Penn for her non-fiction and as J.F. Penn for her fiction. She says it helps Amazon to target readers for the different genres.

So then I started researching, as you do, and was quite surprised at the authors who use more than one name. Who would have thunk?
Image result for images for pen names
  • Stephen King (his real name) writes Horror. He also writes as Richard Bachman, Eleanor Druse, Steve King, and John Swithen. Check them out!
  • Jack Higgins (his pseudonym) writes Mystery. He also writes as Martin Fallon, James Graham, and Hugh Marlowe.
  • Issac Asimov (his real name) wrote Science Fiction. He also wrote as Paul French and George E. Dale.
  • J.K Rowling (her real name) writes her Cormorant Strike detective series under the pen name Robert Galbraith -- that secret was soon revealed!
  • Barbara Michaels (her pseudonym) writes gothic and supernatural Thrillers. She also writes as Elizabeth Peters.
  • Nora Roberts ( born Eleanor Marie Robertson) writes as J. D. Robb for her Death series and under the pseudonym Jill March. She calls herself Sarah Hardesty in the UK. Fascinating!
  • Alistair MacLean (his real name) writes Mystery. He also writes as Ian Stuart.
  • Eboni Snoe (her pseudonym) writes African-American Romance.
And of course, there's many, many more...

  • So, the question is -- why do these successful authors use pen names? I'm sure they're not insecure about too much. Why then? Is it just about different genres, or are there other reasons? 
  • Do you think the extra work involved (new blog, new social media etc) is worth it to write under a pen name? I've had people tell me yes, people tell me no.
We at WEP would love it if you sign up for our challenge on April 19th - "P" day for the A-Z. You can so do both...sign up in my sidebar or over at Write...Edit...Publish.


Thanks for taking time in your busy schedule to visit me!