Friday, March 29, 2019

Novel Writing: Revision Strategy

A newsletter distributed by THE WRITER offers ten revision strategies. I couldn’t help comparing their procedure to root canal. Frankly, I prefer a less painful and simpler approach. I’ve decided to share mine with you as I’ve been doing revisions on my 5th Kim Reynolds mystery novel, THE BLOOD FAMILY.

Stage one: I begin a novel by percolating it in my brain for sometime. It might be months or even years before I’m ready to create a rough outline and do a character bible. Usually a character bible comes before the outline. So that is stage two.

Stage three consists of writing an outline followed by the first draft. I try to write it through without much in the way of correction. I’m also flexible with my initial outline. I then put the draft away for a time and work on other projects.

Stage four: I return to my first draft and read it through. If it no longer appears the brilliant writing I initially thought it to be, I might drop the work. However, if in fact the manuscript seems solid, I begin revising. I am now wearing my editor’s hat.

Stage five: How many revisions will the work need? That depends. Some novels need a great many. Others go smoothly with just a few. However, self-editing is a demanding process.

I used to hand write all of my work in the initial first draft. But with the last few books, I’ve been writing them on my computer. I now prefer this method. It’s not only faster but I can study the writing more critically and accurately early on.

If you’re going to be a professional writer, you must be honest about your work. There are more people writing than ever before and fewer people reading print. Opportunities have diminished. So you need to really want to write and be willing to put in the effort to be competitive.

Revision is a necessary component of the writing process. We writers are fallible. We are human and therefore make errors. No matter how often I go over my own work, I always find ways I can improve upon it. I accept the fact that I make mistakes and do my best to correct them before I send my work out to editors—who will always demand further revision before a manuscript becomes a book.

My advice for successful self-editing and revision—pretend you are a professional editor. It’s painful to rewrite and remove sections of your work, but you have to be honest about it. Are there parts that are repetitious and redundant? Put them on the chopping block. Good writing is all about re-writing. We want our writing to be crisp and precise. We need to cut out the clich├ęs and strive for originality.

Your comments welcome.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Interview with Author Elly Molina

Author, Elly Molina, is an international mind power consultant, educator and visionary. Elly’s clients include former heads of state, celebrities, business professionals and seekers. Elly has appeared on FOX, ABC, NBC, CBS, and in The New York Times. Elly is the author of Children Who Know How to Know (Black Opal Books), Annabelle and the Domino, and her latest release, a collaborative Amazon Bestseller, titled Dancing in The Unknown.

Elly holds a Master’s Degree in Linguistics from NYU and contributes to See Beyond Magazine, Meaningful Mom Magazine and Thriveglobal. She specializes in children’s intuitive development and is the founder of Psi-Kids (
Question: What is the title and genre of your book?  Why did you select them?

Answer: Children Who Know How to Know is a nonfiction resource guide for parents, educators, and anyone interested in learning how to access, develop, and utilize their powerful intuitive and psychic abilities. I selected the title since I work with children and adults to help develop their intuitive abilities and thought it would be catchy since the book talks about children who know how to use their minds in a different manner than many of us.

Question:   What inspired this book? How did it come about?

Answer: I’ve wanted to write a book like this since 1986, when I left my College Adjunct position and began teaching Middle School. Originally I wished to write an empowerment book for kids and title it “You can, too”. I accumulated a lot of data over the years yet didn’t write the manuscript. Then, in 2008, while teaching at a very unique school, where we taught children blindfolded archery, telepathy, telekinesis, remote viewing, I witnessed seriously remarkable phenomena. Being psychic myself, I went on to co-found another private Magic School, where once again the results were mind boggling. I wanted to reach a much larger audience, so I put all the stories and activities that I have used successfully over the years into a How to Book.

We all possess psychic abilities. We are all intuitive. Some of us, like myself, are more psychic than others. I wanted to teach this skill to others. What I learned is that it takes emotional intelligence, self-awareness, control, mindfulness, along with self-discipline to practice this, and being able to navigate life intuitively makes life a lot easier.

Question:   Can you tell us about some of your other published work?

Answer:  In 2011, I wrote an illustrated children’s book titled, Annabelle and the Domino. The story, although fiction, is based on a true account of a little girl who moved a domino with her mind (telekinesis). It inspired all the other children and adults so much that everyone began practicing daily and I felt called to share the story to inspire and empower the child in all of us.  I wrote a chapter of my journey from New York to Washington State in a collaborated book title, Dancing in the Unknown. I really love that book. It’s filled with incredible true stories of people who overcame fear to go on and create something remarkable

Question:   What are you working on now?

Answer:  I’m writing a YA fiction. My character is a young boy who is a hero and on the hero’s journey. It’s set in Washington State, in the mountains that border on Mount Rainier. It’s such a beautiful area. It has inspired me, and Washington is a state that feeds my soul.

Question:   What made you start writing?

Answer: When I was in 5th grade, my elementary teacher hung my story on the bulletin board. My name wasn’t immediately visible. My mom went towards the story and began reading. When she finished, she stopped and gasped, “You wrote this?”  The teacher shared with my mom she felt I was gifted when it came to writing and encouraged me to continue. I’ve wanted to write since then. I haven’t been the most courageous in this area of my life.

Question:   What advice would you offer to those who are currently writing?

Answer: Just write! Don’t focus on how you’re going to publish and who your editor or publisher will be. Just write. Pay attention to your audience. Get writing tips. Learn technique. There are fabulous resources available, and believe in yourself.

Question:  Where and when will readers be able to obtain your books?

Answer: Children Who Know How to Know is available wherever books are sold. Annabelle and the Domino is only on Amazon or through my website  and Dancing in the Unknown is available everywhere as well.

Questions or comments for Elly are welcome!

Friday, March 15, 2019

Luck and Irish Literature

The Ides of March, the 15th and 16th of this month, traditionally bode ill luck. For instance, in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, the emperor is warned to “Beware the Ides of March” by the Soothsayer. Julius, not being a superstitious sort of fellow and believing in his personal immortality, sneers, ignores the warning, and refers to the Soothsayer as “a dreamer.” Not Caesar’s wisest decision.

 It will soon be St. Patrick’s Day which supposedly brings good luck and fortune. People do at times have lucky things happen to them and at other times suffer misfortunes like ill health, accidents or assaults. However, authors prefer to believe that for the most part we make our own luck.

According to Napoleon: “Luck occurs when preparation meets opportunity.” I apply that statement to authors. We get lucky with our work when we’ve done adequate preparation—that is being well-read, writing, rewriting, and editing until we’ve created something of value and quality. If we’re too lazy or too full of ourselves to make this kind of effort and commitment then alas we’ll never “get lucky.”

Luck is often a theme in literature. For example, Thomas Hardy created characters that were unlucky like Tess or Jude. Yet it could be argued that their bad luck came as a direct result of fatal flaws in their own characters. This is where tragedy derives from. Things don’t just happen. There is a cause and effect relationship.

I write about and admire main characters with positive values who make their own good luck and overcome obstacles through personal effort, not bemoaning their fate or bad luck. To quote Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar again, as Cassius observes: “Our fate, dear Brutus, is not in our stars but in ourselves.”

In tribute to Irish literature which often deals with themes related to luck, I want to mention a few of the outstanding Irish writers I’ve appreciated over the years.

As an undergraduate English major, I read and enjoyed John Millington Synge’s The  Playboy of the Western World. Synge celebrated the lyrical speech of the Irish in a boisterous play.

In graduate school, I took a semester seminar on the works of William Butler Yeats, a great Irish poet. I learned a great deal about Irish mythology from his work.

George Bernard Shaw was also of Irish origins and a great playwright, another favorite of mine. His plays still hold up because of thought-provoking themes and clever dialogue.

I’ve read James Joyce’s stories and novels but most appreciated his earlier work. I thought Portrait of the Artist was brilliant as was Dubliners, his short story collection. His style was original and unique.

Satirist Jonathan Swift is often thought of as a children’s writer, but this is, of course, completely false.
Notable Works: Gulliver’s Travels, Tale of a Tub, A Modest Proposal, A Journal to Stella, Drapier’s Letters, An Argument Against Abolishing Christianity, Verses on the Death of Dr. Swift.
Oscar Wilde was a talented Irish writer and playwright. Sentenced to two years in prison for gross indecency (homosexuality), he eventually lost his creative spark. Notable Works: The Picture of Dorian Grey, The Importance of Being Earnest (play), Poems, The Happy Prince and Other Tales (children’s book), A Woman of No Importance (play).
Abraham Stoker (Bram Stoker) gave us Dracula (enough said!) Lawrence Sterne, Oliver Goldsmith, C.S. Lewis all had Irish origins as well, although they left Ireland for England. The list of outstanding Irish men and women who have provided great literature is very long and therefore beyond the scope of this mere blog.
My most recent mystery novel, DEATH PROMISE, is set in Las Vegas and, surprise, luck does play a part in it. If you haven’t read it, you should—it just might bring you some luck.

Did you believe in luck? Do you have any favorite Irish authors? Your thoughts and comments welcome!

Friday, March 8, 2019

Guest Blog by Author Pamela S. Thibodeaux

My guest blogger is award-winning author, Pamela S. Thibodeaux, the Co-Founder and a lifetime member of Bayou Writers Group in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Multi-published in romantic fiction as well as creative non-fiction, her writing has been tagged as, “Inspirational with an Edge!” ™ and reviewed as “steamier and grittier than the typical Christian novel without decreasing the message.”

Pam is very supportive of her fellow authors and does her best to promote and publicize us all—something very much needed and appreciated.

Look closely at the cover….

Recently I visited Animal Kingdom @ Walt Disney World in FL with my family and one of the most breathtaking sights is the Tree of Life / garden. Within the trunk of this huge tree are carvings of every kind of animal. You can view it from any angle and take a dozen different pictures and each time, see something more and/or different.
What does this have to do with a book cover? You ask.
Read on…
I’ve always admired the covers Pelican Book Group creates for their titles and when I first received the cover for Love in Season, I thought – how sweet, but a closer look revealed a whole lot more than a couple on a bench in front of a lovely tree.
If you took a passing glance, look again….
What do you see?
Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter are all depicted within the leaves and branches of this tree!
It takes an amazing eye for detail to pick something like this for a book cover.  Thanks to Nicola Martinez for creating such a beautiful work of art for for my collection of romantic short stories centered around the four seasons and four love-oriented holidays!
*see photos of the Tree of Life/Garden Here:
Fun Fact: For quite some time I wanted to put together a collection of short stories that centered around the 4 seasons and 4 holidays that focus on love and family (Valentine's Day, Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas). Since I already had several stories at PBG, I mentioned this idea to my editor, the amazing Nicola Martinez, and she loved it. I submitted two previously unpublished stories to round out the collection, along with those Pelican Book Group had already published, and viola! Love in Season was born.
Blurb: Anytime is the perfect time for love.
In this anthology, author Pamela S Thibodeaux brings together eight of her most beloved romance stories—one for each season plus four holidays that revolve around love and family.
Includes two brand new stories!
Story Blurbs:
(Winter) Winter Madness: Sienna has survived what most succomb to - the death of a spouse and child and has maintained her faith despite her troubles. William has never met anyone who actually lived out what they say they believe. Is it true love between the faithful optimist and broody pessimist or simply winter madness?

(Valentine’s Day) Choices: Best-selling novelist and songwriter, Camie Rogers has penned numerous accounts of the secret love she holds in her heart. Country-Music Superstar Kip Allen has changed from the shy, humble boy, to the epitome of “star.” Can the two rediscover each other after one night of his Home is where the Heart is Tour?

(Spring) Cathy’s Angel: Single mom Cathy Johnson is tired of running her life alone…what she needs is a well-trained angel to help out. Jared Savoy gave up the dream of having a family when he discovered he is sterile. Can a confirmed bachelor and the mother of four find love amid normal daily chaos?

(Easter) Lilies for Sandi *NEW!* Sandi and Brett did everything backwards. They got pregnant before the wedding and had a baby instead of a honeymoon. Since, Brett has resented the fact that his dreams of a football career have been cut short and wonders how long it’ll take God to forgive him for his mistakes. Sandi has played second fiddle to Brett’s dreams and desires to the point of not knowing herself any longer and fears her marriage will never be a true one because of their failures. Can two hearts broken by unfulfilled dreams find healing, wholeness and restoration?
(Summer) The Big Catch *NEW!* Karla and, the love of her life, Jeff, have uncovered some uncommon ground: The Great Outdoors. For the life of her, she does not understand his love of fishing and how he can spend so much time doing so. Will she come to love the sport as much as he or will his passion for a rod and reel tangle up their relationship?
(Fall) A Hero for Jessica: Anthony Paul Seville is known as the ‘most eligible bachelor’ in New Orleans, possibly even the entire state of Louisiana, but finds himself alone—completely and explicitly alone. Jessica Aucoin is a writer on her way to fame and fortune, but is haunted by a man from her past. Will the “champion” lawyer and the author of romantic suspense find love written in their future? 
(Thanksgiving) Review of Love (Newly Edited/Revised/Lengthened!): Jason Stockwell has been commissioned to interview Kylie Erickson and to review her books. Only problem is, she won’t give the time of day much less an interview to someone whose type of writing she deems not worthy of respect. Can they suspend their judgmental attitudes and find true love?
(Christmas) In His Sight: Grade school teacher Carson Alexander has a gift—a gift that has driven a wedge between him and his family. Worse, it’s put him at odds with God. Feeling alone and misunderstood, Carson views God’s gift of prophecy as the worst kind of curse…that is until he meets Lorelei Conner, landscape artist extraordinaire, and perhaps the one person who may need Carson and his gift more than anyone ever has.  
Lorelei Connor is a mother on the run. Her abusive ex-husband has followed her all over the country trying to steal their daughter. Distrusting of men and needing to keep on the move, she’s surprised by her desire to remain close to Carson Alexander. Through her fear and hesitation, she must learn to rely on God to guide her—not an easy task when He’s prompting her to trust a man. Can their relationship withstand the tragedy lurking on the horizon?
Website address:  
Twitter: @psthib
Amazon Author Page:

Your comments appreciated!

Friday, March 1, 2019

Nourishing the Brain the Non-fat Way

You’ve probably read how eating certain foods like wild salmon are healthy for your brain. I subscribe to that. But according to “The Genius Section” of the March 2019 issue of READER’S DIGEST, in an article written by Marc Peyser, the perfect brain food is none other than reading. Yep, he refers to “the latest science on the magic of books.” Want to sharpen your brain? Read a book!

Maryanne Wolf, EdD, director of the UCLA Center for Dyslexia, Diverse Learner and Social Justice, observed that reading provides “a unique pause button for comprehension and insight” that oral language or films don’t offer us. Reading also boosts vocabulary, sharpens our reason and expands intellectual horizons.

Additionally, scientists are looking to explain how fiction improves mental health. It turns out that reading a book may not just be an activity that we readers do for E and E (escape and enjoyment). Reading is actually good for our health, both our mental and physical well-being.

Bibliotherapists believe that fiction can be used to change lives on a profound level. This is more art than science. The scientific evidence behind reading for mental health is limited, but researchers are continuing to explore the benefits and possibilities. Reading an uplifting romance novel, for instance, might not be a cure for depression, but can make you feel happier--which contributes to mental health and inner peace.

Children’s books can help youngsters deal with anxiety, fear, and life’s problems of personal trauma and grief. Books  offer young readers relatable characters who deal with hardships and sorrows in positive ways and guide children in facing their own struggles with resilience and hope. I believe my most recent YA novel WITCH WISH, focusing on problems in a dysfunctional family with heart and humor, falls into this category.

If you’re feeling depressed or just plain bored with the everyday hum-drum of life, try reading a book (preferably one of mine since I believe in happy endings). You’ll feel better.

Recommend a book to a friend as well. Nothing beats a shared experience. I prefer to read and write mysteries and romances, as well as novels that combines both attributes. However, there are many varied good choices in non-fiction too. You can learn something new, sharpen your brain, and feel better about the world you live in. And it won’t add any calories, nor will it cost you a penny if you borrow books from the library. 

Thoughts and comments most welcome.