Wednesday, October 7, 2020

A Five Star Review and a New Cover

Kristine, and Kimber the Magnificent, at Pages & Paws have reviewed Thirteen Miracles and have given it Five Stars! Here is the link to the full review:

They are my first readers and my first review. (Well, technically, my editor also read it, but she doesn't count. She was working and not what I would call "a reader".)

I am on wings after this review. I didn't know what to expect because some of the reviews at Pages & Paws are a little on the scary side. (Actually, they're a lot on the scary side.) So, for my book to be labeled "a gem" and to get a five-star review from this formidable review site was more than I'd hoped for or expected!  

Please visit the blog and check out the review. Here's the link again:

Here are some of my favorite bits: Bebo is now Kimber's new best bud. That made me cry all by itself. And Kristine said Thirteen Miracles is "a little Narnia, a little This Present Darkness, a little The Shack, and a bit Hatchet all rolled into one." She also said it "packs a wallop" and that, "There's so much joy and hope in the final pages" that she's thinking of "buying stock in Kleenex!" She called it a "beautifully written story that's warm, invigorating, and maybe even a little bit extraordinary." Called it "nimble, creative, and fresh," and said it was, "brimming with engaging, lively characters who learn and grow. Ditto credible dialogue and enough mystery and intrigue to keep you guessing until the last page." She also gave it a rare 5 stars!! Which, according to her rating system, means: "Superb. Our highest rating. Better than bacon! A remarkable achievement. Must have a transcendent theme. Rings heart bells. May qualify as life-changing. Would read over and over and over." 

What writer wouldn't want to get such a review?

It was one exhilarating review, and I am smiling from ear to ear as I read it -- in between sobs of joy! I'll always be grateful to Kimber the Magnificent and the equally Magnificent Kristine.


And, on a much lesser note, I have a new cover. I had run some small test ads at BookBub, and my first cover did not do well. My second cover did even worse. This is actually the third cover, and it performed like a champ in a test ad at BookBub. 

Monday, September 21, 2020

Thirteen Miracles Now Available

Thirteen Miracles is now available at Amazon in both digital and print formats.

It is also available at Barnes and Nobel in paperback and hard cover.

Once again, here are the blurbs and an excerpt, as well as the trailer. 

Short blurb: A woman's search for God ends in a miraculous rescue mission in the marijuana fields of the Devil's Backbone.

Here is the longer back-cover blurb:

Legend says it was the landing spot for Lucifer when he was cast out of heaven. That's not the only thing it's known for. It is also a land of marijuana fields, opium poppies, kidnappings, and drug-related killings. It's the last place you would expect to find God, but Abby Welles is looking for Him there. Her search will lead her on a miraculous rescue mission inside the heart of The Devil's Backbone. But she is running out of time, and she may have already run out of luck.


Here is an excerpt:

The black bird was back, or whatever it was,
and it was in Scarface’s gunsight.

     It was perched on a dead tree overhanging the mountainside, watching the activity below. Something in the bird’s gaze and mechanical head movements troubled her. Was it watching the activity or controlling it? She silently ridiculed the thought. She was being paranoid. This place did that to her.

     The rifle fired, and she jumped. An unexpected explosion ripped through the early morning quiet.

     Scarface gave a sudden shriek of pain and fell to the ground, clutching his face with blackened and bloodied hands. Unearthly sounds accompanied his cries and repeated off the wall of rocks. Bebo joined in the chorus, barking furiously, teeth barred. Abby wanted to silence him but knew it was pointless. His barks were lost in the sea of strange sounds.

     She tugged on him, pulling him back. He had strayed too close to the edge. Once he was on safer ground, she strained to see where the other noises were coming from. Had the weapon backfired? Was shrapnel pinging off rocks? Not that it would explain what she was hearing. These were more like animal yips and howls, but not quite.

     Whatever was producing these noises wasn’t apparent from her vantage point. Fear gripped her every muscle and nerve as the sounds continued and grew more bizarre. Surely these weren’t the natural sounds of nature. They didn’t even seem to originate from anything she could see—or ever would see—in this world. 


Here is the trailer: 



Interview Questions: This interview is a combination of questions from the Smashwords Interview feature and a Q&A with my niece.

Describe your desk

I'll paraphrase Zola Levitt. For evidence of the Second Law of Thermodynamics, one need only look at my desk. Everything on it is moving from a state of order to disorder.

When did you first start writing?

In eighth grade. I had an amazing teacher, Mr. McIntyre. He gave us contracts at the start of the year. We decided what grade we wanted to earn. I wanted an "A", but that meant I had to write three short stories. He read those stories out loud to the class. Fortunately, he was an actor, and he did a really good job reading them. The class laughed like crazy and everyone enjoyed my stories. I've been writing ever since.

What do you want readers to know about your Christian book, "Thirteen Miracles"?

There are a lot of layers to "Thirteen Miracles" and a lot of archetypes. For example, I think of Abby's husband, Charles, as a "type" of Christ. He goes into Satan's territory hoping to save his wife. I also want readers to know in advance that this is mostly a story about a woman and a dog in a wilderness survival story. So there is not a lot of dialogue. I think that no matter how many people are with us in this life, we are ultimately alone with God in the wilderness. I want readers to feel they have been inside Abby's head, heart, and soul by the end of this story. But my goal is to tell a good story. I hope I've done that in "Thirteen Miracles."

What is "Thirteen Miracles" about?

It's about a woman's search for God. Abby has gone to Mexico to write a book about miracles and to meet a Christian mystic who has the gift of prophecy. After some family struggles, Abby is reeling. She has lost her faith and feels that she must connect with God again if she is ever going to recover from her depression. She feels that she must get away from the "screaming commitments" in her life in order to do that.

On her journey, she is separated from her guide and must survive on her own with the help of an albino boxer named Bebo. As she attempts to find her way home, she discovers that two sixteen-year-old boys have been kidnapped by drug runners. She decides she must try to free them from their captors, and the book follows her journey inside The Devil's Backbone as she attempts to survive the wilderness and free the hostages, but she has some supernatural resistance to her goal as well as some natural ones.

You have called this a supernatural adventure, is that the best description of your story?

Yes. It is a Christian, supernatural adventure. I also think of "Thirteen Miracles" as a missionary story. As human beings, we have been separated from God and must find our way home. If we do, our goal is then to attempt to rescue others who are being held captive. But, it is an allegorical story in many different ways. It is the reader who will decipher the symbols and decide if they succeed or not. I don't want things to be taken too far, however. It is just a story, after all, with symbolic undertones. Above everything, I want the reader to experience a good story and be impacted by it.

Will this appeal to non-Christians?

Maybe. I'm not sure. I can't see this appealing to people who don't believe God exists. I think it would be offensive to them. In fact, I think there are many Christians who would be offended by "Thirteen Miracles" as well. Christians who don't believe in miracles will have a problem with this book. Christians who don't believe in an unseen, demonic world will have a problem with this book. I have a disclaimer at the end of the book. It states that my goal was not to teach doctrine or theology. It was to tell an entertaining story. I hope I succeeded, but that is up to the reader.

Sunday, October 27, 2013


Here is a trailer I had done for my book Spiders. I love the guy that did the voice over.

You can read the opening chapters and some reviews at Amazon. Just click here. Thanks!

To read interviews I did for my earlier novel, Sleeping With Skeletons, click here and here.

And here's the trailer for my first published book, Sleeping with Skeletons:

Note: My dad just passed away and my mom is ill, so this blog is on hiatus. I am leaving some of my favorite blog posts up and will pick things up again in the future.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

What words do you need to drop?

That. We need to drop that. Maybe not all of them, but a whole bunch of 'em can go.

Up. Down. Bet those aren't words you think about much. She stood up. She sat down. Are 'up' and 'down' really necessary? Well, no.

Well. Sometimes a sentence just doesn't look right, so I add well. I've noticed other writers do it, too, and usually it's not really necessary.

Really. I probably could have dropped that from my last two examples. But I really, really, really like really.

Starting a sentence with but, and, or 'or'. It just doesn't look right. But I do it all the time. And I notice other writers do too.

Dialogue tags. I've worked with enough editors to know they don't like excessive dialogue tags. "But I love them!" she yelled excitedly.

Words ending in 'ly'. These are frowned upon too, of course. Overuse of adjectives and adverbs clunk up a story.

He blinked his eyes rapidly. Well, where to begin? Do guys blink? Do they blink rapidly? And what else would they blink besides their eyes? Maybe just 'he blinked.' My point is, we sometimes add body parts into a sentence that aren't necessary. We know he blinked his eyes, or we know he pointed with his finger. Of course, sometimes we might want to add which finger he pointed with.

We can drop words that are redundant. Such as telling someone it was a free gift. A gift is free by definition.

Clichés. Sometimes, all we can think of is a well-worn cliché, but our readers deserve more and our editors demand more.

Sometimes. I've noticed I use sometimes a lot. Watch out for words that overpopulate your manuscript. (Like 'out'.)

Do you have words you know you need to drop but they creep into your writing anyway? Writers who have been at it a long time know all these pitfalls. For someone who is new to writing, these are some of the things you need to consider.

I received a release date for Spiders a few weeks ago. It will be an Amazon exclusive starting October 28th. The Wild Rose Press is releasing it as a KDP Select title first. It will be on Kindle and in print at that time.

There are a several great books coming out in October.

Below is my trailer for Spiders. I love the voice-over. It's only 35 seconds, so I hope you'll give it a listen. It has the perfect Halloween tone. Creepy.



Tuesday, July 9, 2013

What is an Acquisition Team?

For someone who works on the inside of a large publishing house, the language of their world is as familiar to them as grass. To an outsider, the language of their world is about as clear as the mud under the grass.

I asked a new question yesterday. What are acquisition editors and what are acquisition teams? Naturally, the acquisitions editor is part of the acquisition team, but other people are as well. And one leads to the other. Our manuscript is not going to make it to an acquisition team unless the acquisitions editor wants to acquire it first.

The reason it's important to know which acquisitions is being referred to is because one is still slush-pile stage and the other is farther along in the process. At the latter stage, your manuscript is discussed between colleagues and in editorial meetings. There are formal and informal meetings going on. As the process moves along, more people are involved and more departments are brought in, such as marketing and sales teams. While I researched this yesterday, I was staggered by all that goes on inside that big publishing house. (I imagine the process is similar for small publishers.)

There is a lot involved in getting a book out of the slush. Once an acquisitions editor decides (s)he likes a manuscript, it is passed to the next person. They read and decide if they like. If it succeeds at these early stages, proposals are drawn up and it becomes a subject of meetings. It's easy to see that every moment they spend with your manuscript costs them money. More people read it. In fact, it seems to be read by a lot of people--people who know books and know the hard, cold, dollar facts of publishing. It's the subject of meetings where pitches are made by complete strangers for your story. Their efforts for your book may succeed or fail. Even if they fail, what a thing to consider that they tried! They invested in you.

If you want to know about what goes on inside a big publishing house when they consider your story, then these are the articles. 

Five Publishing Hurdles (And How to Clear Them)

The Acquisition Process

What's an acquisitions editor? How can I help this editor?

What leads the acquisition team to say no, even when the editor says yes?

How to speak publisher - A is for Acquisitions  

Harlequin Shivers asked for a Revise and Resubmit for CLIFF HOUSE. The news is even better, though. I was asked if I wanted to work with an editor to take my writing to the next level. Absolutely, positively yes! (Update: I have decided not to move forward with this kind offer. I want to move away from secular fiction and focus on Christian fiction and non-fiction books in the future.)

Here's another article. This one is about R&R. Very interesting. 

Have you ever wondered what an acquisitions editor is? Or an acquisition team?

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Sherlock Holmes Appreciation Day

A bit of Sherlock Holmes trivia for you today.

It's well known that Holmes used cocaine, but did you know that at the time it wasn't considered dangerous and didn't have the stigma it has today? It was a recent discovery in Doyle's day and was thought to have medicinal purposes. So, maybe not as shocking to the people of his day as we might think.

Holmes smoked shag tobacco, which isn't that unusual. Where he kept it is a little strange, though. He secured it in the toe of a Persian slipper on his fireplace mantel. What's up with that? That's where he should have kept his cocaine.

Not all Holmes stories were narrated by Dr. John H. Watson; two were narrated by Holmes himself, two more were third person. Do you know the names of the stories Holmes narrated himself? 

The first Holmes story was published in 1887. Doyle went on to write four novels and 56 short stories that featured Holmes. These stories covered a period from 1880 to 1914 and are still read more than 100 years later. I wish us all the same success as writers.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Kim Jong Un dead from dying after assassin kill!

Is Kim Jong Un really dead from dying??? (Or is that Un dead from dying?) I don't know, but if you want to read the funniest Google translation in the history of botched Google translations... plus the funniest article I've read in, well, hyeonjiryohaebukchanghwary
eokbaljeonryeonhapgieopso -- as Google translate puts it, check out this classic Un article by William Schmalfeldt: (Remember to come back if you have something to say to me.)

(Don't you think this whole topic fits in well with my book's title?)

Okay, back to the blogging ether for me.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Worst Movies Ever Blogfest!

Here's my list for Alex J. Cavanaugh's Worst-Movies-Ever Blogfest. They are without a doubt the worst movies, as Alex would put it, I’ve "ever had the misfortune to watch. Films that truly oozed awfulness and featured plot holes so big I could drive a bus through them."

These are not in any particular order, just listing them as I think of them. 

HOT FUZZ. It may boast about its trailer; unfortunately, the movie disgusts. The plot was truly terrible, and the movie was poorly acted and campy -- and not in a good way. Critic Dennis Schwartz said it best: "overlong, filled with too many unfunny geek gags and pointless. It soon becomes tiresome, with at least two too many climaxes, and starts looking exactly like the films it's parodying."

BATTLEFIELD EARTH: One more reason to avoid Scientology. Disgusting, jaw-droppingly bad, laughable makeup, and the worst costumes ever created. The only positive thing I can say about this movie is it has John Travolta -- and it made for some great jokes. Unfortunately, it was the worst movie Travolta ever made -- and considering some of his movies, that's saying quite a lot.

THE ISLAND with Michael Caine. I never did figure out what this folly of a movie was about, but it had something to do with pirates. Unfortunately, none of them had the charm of Johnny Depp. I passed out from boredom and apparently drove home in my sleep.

Kevin Costner made one of my favorite movies, DANCES WITH WOLVES, but he also made two of the worst movies in cinematic history: THE POSTMAN and WATERWORLD. WATERWORLD was the last movie shown at the last drive-in theater in my city. It was so bad I was almost glad they closed the drive-in.

As a Christian, I waited two years for the release of THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST. I bought tickets the day they went on sale. I really wanted to love this movie. I knew it was going to be difficult to watch, but I still expected it to be uplifting. Instead, it was just depressing. 

THE 9TH GATE and THE ASTRONAUT'S WIFE come next. I love Johnny Depp, but I felt like I'd been dipped in dirty water after watching THE 9TH GATE. THE ASTRONAUT'S WIFE just ticked me off and made me want to dip Johnny Depp in some dirty water.

I hesitate to list THE NEIGHBORS with John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd. John Belushi lapsed back into drug abuse while making this movie and died four months later. I loved a lot of Belushi's work, and I wish this had been a classic, since it was his last movie. But it was terrible. In a way, I can understand why he relapsed while filming this.

STRAIGHT TALK with Dolly Parton and James Woods is my final pick, though it really should be in first place. This may be one of the most poorly cast movies of all time. I don't know who did the casting, but I can't help but wonder if they ever worked again.

So, out of curiosity, which of my picks do you most agree with? And which one do you most disagree with?

Monday, September 12, 2011

More News from Amazon

Amazon is in talks with book publishers. The Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday that Amazon hopes to launch a virtual library service similar to Netflix for tablets and other digital books. The venture would allow customers to pay an annual fee to access library content. An Amazon spokesperson was not available for comment, but the Journal cited people familiar with the matter. 

According to the article, "It is unclear how much traction the talks have received", so time will tell if it actually happens. "Several unnamed publishing executives said they are not enthusiastic about the idea because it could lower the value of books and could strain their relationships with other retailers that sell their books."

Personally, I doubt publishers are happy with anything Amazon is doing. But this is interesting news.  

In other news, some of us have already advanced to the second round of Rachael Harrie's current campaign challenge! Congrats on that! Now, in keeping with the opening challenge, I thought I'd mention a couple of short story contests.

First, there is the 'Bartleby Snopes Third Annual Dialogue Only Contest' – Compose a short story entirely of dialogue; under 2000 words. As of 9/11 the grand prize is $540. But see the site for full details. Monetary awards plus publication. Entry fee: $10. But you'll need to hurry, the deadline is today! See:

Next there is the 'HOOT flash fiction, poetry, and memoir monthly contest' - fewer than 150 words. Award: 30% of the entry fees they receive. Entry fee: $2 for every two entries, unlimited entries. Deadline: The 20th of every month (next is September 20, 2011). Info:

Also, a reminder that there are still some open contests at Writer's Digest, but they have yet to fix their ever-so frustrating website. If they can't keep their website from crashing, I see no reason to believe they can keep their business from crashing as well. With all the websites offering the same information as Writer's Digest, and all the other changes in the writing world, do you think Writer's Digest is in danger of becoming a relic too? And what do you think of Amazon's latest idea? Do you think this digital library will happen? I'm not a betting woman, but if I were, I'd bet on Amazon. Much as I love traditional publishing, it's rapidly becoming obsolete. Publishers might need to get over their aversion to doing business with Amazon. It may be their best chance of survival.

Monday, September 5, 2011

The Door Swung Open

The first challenge is underway in the Platform Building Campaign, and it's a doozy! I loved this particular challenge. It's to write a short story in 200 words. It needs to begin with 'The door swung open". There is the option of making it even more challenging by ending with "The door swung shut." Here's my entry. It's exactly 200 words (and that really was a challenge):  

The door swung open. He was barely visible through the smoke, but I recognized a Corelli when I saw one. Gino? Yeah. Gino. He was the worst. He was looking for someone.

I could guess who.

My partner, John, was in the hospital, not expected to survive the round from Vince Corelli’s D’Eagle. Vince lay in the morgue, and I’d put him there. Now Gino wanted justice, but a cop bar was a stupid place to extract it.

His gaze found me and he smiled; it wasn’t a ‘glad to see you’ sort of smile. He weaved around off-duty cops. They were too drunk to know a storm brewed. I pushed away from the bar.

I wasn’t that drunk.

His hand came up and I stared down the barrel of a .45.

Damn. I was drunker than I thought.

I grasped the barrel, deflected it, and struck him over his jugular—not hard enough to kill, but it buckled his knees. The other officers swarmed. Gino was handcuffed before I picked up my barstool. I sat and Mickey brought another beer.

“You okay, Maggie?” 

“Yeah. Fine. But John wasn't. Vince wasn't. 

I turned and watched as the door swung shut.

Here's the link to the challenge: