Category Archives: Editing

Writing that first draft~NANO Day 11~ #nanowrimo2017 #firstdraft #mfrwauthor #amwriting


Writing is like building. The more you add, the more people want experience the thrill for the first time. Readers are a big part of the writing process. There’s nothing worse than having a reader fall into the murky depths of a book they can’t relate to in even a small way.  You want a strong “bridge” off the bat to help your readers get to the end and then, want to revisit that bridge again, and again. 😀


Writing your first draft is the model of your intended project.  Once you have an acceptable model, you begin the framing and creating–rough draft edits 1-1000– until you have that finished masterpiece that others will see. Edits build a better, stronger ms, but you can’t edit what you haven’t written.

Wait to do improvements until it’s first finished. No builder remodels his bridge before it gets finished, and others have a chance to give it a test run.

Here’s a little extra for you. I subscribe to Writer’s Digest blog for their informative articles and tips on writing. Here’s one with tips on first drafts (what you’re writing during NaNo), by  Kathy Leonard Czepiel.

Just a reminder. Keep holding that inner editor at bay. Wait until you reach day 30, or 50K, before you turn that editing minion loose. Personally, I like to take a short breather from a completed first draft.

What about you? Do you have to take a week to congratulate or reward yourself for surviving NaNo? Two weeks, maybe you need more, to allow your brain to relax before jumping back in. I usually end up taking notes for my next project, which is usually already steeping on a back burner before I get half way on the current wip.

Here’s a thought, go check out Silver’s website and books while you let that wip set up. Multi-genre talent there, folks. Fantasy (embrace your inner fae!), paranormal (love you some alpha wolf shifters?) and contemporary romance (Sigh-cowboys). She’s a self-published author, small epress author and HQN~Big 5. Seriously, check her out!

After you’ve finished your NANO word count for the day, of course. 😉


Are you a freakin’ psychic?~NANO Day 12~ #nanowrimo2017 #plotorpantz #mfrwauthor #amwriting


Day 12! Almost to the half way point.

How do you avoid the dreaded “sagging middle?”

Do you know what your story is about? Are you one of “those?” You have a 75 page synopsis to guide you. A pre-story that you will follow to an astounding T, or damn near, if not exact. You know when your characters will pee, though you won’t show that to readers (or will you? O^o). Do you know when they will take their next breath. Do you know what that breath will sound like before you even write that scene?

You…are a true plotter.

I congratulate you! Foresight like that is a real gift! I mean, freakin’ psychic!

I, on the other hand, am like this cat. I eat plot bunnies for dessert! Thank you very much. What a dreadful thought. I take that back. 🙂

However, I do not begin with a synopsis, and if I do, it might be a whole page, or not, of random thoughts. Will my heroine go pee? Well, who knows? I sure don’t! 😆 Will they breathe? Um, they’d die if they didn’t, so… Yeah? I assume at least  one will take a breath. When? What will it sound like?


I am a pantser.

We-e-e-ell, maybe not 100%. I’m told I’m not a true pantser anymore. Nope. I’m not a true plotter, either.

I used to be a solid pantser. Really.  But, I spent most of October trying to figure my story line out before NaNo began. I took notes.  I MADE A PLOT BOOKLET! Yes, I did that. I even used a page or two in it.

Okay, I admit, I wrote in it mostly because it’s such a stinkin’ cute thing, and also because I wasted a day making it, so I had to at least write something in it.

Guess what? I haven’t looked at it since! Nope. I just looked and it wasn’t where I thought I’d seen it last.


I semi-plot-pantz, or since I’m a pantser first, do I semi-pantz-plot. Either way, I’m a hybrid.

I am a plotser.

You might be completely out in left field, maybe you’re an outliner. Another method many use, and I do not. I tried it; didn’t work for me.

What I want to know is, will that bunny still have me with his tea since I’m part plotter?? LOL

Just remember, whatever method you use, as long as it works for you to get words written, that’s all that matters.

Don’t let anyone tell you how (they think) you HAVE to write to be successful. Whatever it is that keeps you writing one word after another, one page or chapter after the last—you just keep doing what YOU do and you are already a success! You are a writer.

Happy Nanoing!



Thanks to Silver James for this fun meme that kinda reminds me of my Trouble Kitty.. 😉


Site Reconstruction



Please excuse the construction mess on the Ranch. I’ve decided to start Spring Cleaning early 😀

It will be back to it’s usual prettiness very soon. I hope it will, anyway!

Thank you for your patience.

While you wait, please check out this month’s UnCover Monday sweetness

by some awesome artists and authors!!



Why Torture Myself? ~ Calisa Rhose #Goals #amwriting #amediting #MFRWAuthor


Though it’s not Thursday, I thought now would be a good time to post my writing goals for the year. Yes, I’ve been procrastinating doing this. I’m a very good procrastinator. 😆 But, January is quickly slipping away and I need to do this before the New Year isn’t new so, here I am.

2014goalsSome of you may have read my goals last year, that HUGE 2-year plan I set out with last January 7th. What a disastrous mess that turned out to be! If you missed it, you can find that memorable post of My Writing Plan For 2024-2015 here. I warn you, take a deep breath before reading it! LOL

I’m doing it again. Yes, again! Why? Why torture myself? You might be thinking I’m a glutton for punishment, that I like to set myself up for sure failure. You’d be wrong. I did it for the same reasons, I guess, that I started edits on a five year old manuscript this weekend. Partly because I’d never set a long term plan and wanted to see if I could. Well, I can set goals. I did. And, as you can probably tell…I failed. Miserably.

I also did it, and am doing it again this year, to push myself, challenge myself. I didn’t set those goals last year for anyone but me. That’s why I do it. But, as with all new things, goals are meant to learn from, I think. And learn, I did!

What did I learn? For one, not to bite off more than I can chew. In other words, I need to set realistic goals, not what I want to do in one or in two years, but what I can do in that time. Can I realistically write four novellas and a full length manuscripts in 12 short months, plus revise another novella to re-publish? Obviously not when it takes me three months or more to write just one.

Risk Factors400x600

Click on Image to purchase Risk Factors

Did I accomplish any of my goals for 2014? Yes. I was successful in promoting Risk Factors after it’s new release with my new publisher, Kensington-Lyrical Press, in March. (Do you like how I did that? 🙂 )

I didn’t succeed in getting any other goals completed. Not even blogging once a week. In fact, I didn’t get one novella finished last year. Why? Because I overwhelmed myself. Good lord!! On top of the goals I set, I took on a new project, that isn’t finished yet, either.

Part of my failure is due to a burn out that began in May and didn’t fully end until October. I couldn’t write, didn’t even look at a ms much less work on any. I had to give myself permission to take a break and reevaluate my writing and regroup.

This year I’m taking a new direction with my writing. So, take a look at my new goals for 2015. Yeah…no more two year plans for this writer. But I will be diving into the Self Publishing pool this year, finally.



1. Learn to mute phone when working!!! (can’t turn it off with fil here)

2. Blog at least once a week, aside from guests and regular UnCover Monday features

3. Edit completed full length ms, HW, in progress

4. Post some free reads on website

5. Write two novellas, both already started, but not the DDD novellas from last year

6. Self publish HW, already have a cover in the works and tentative date, May

7. Submit, or self publish at least one of two novellas, not sure which pub route I’ll take yet

8. Write a second full length ms*, my first paranormal, in progress (Juliet’s story in my 2015 goals)

9. Figure out a better marketing solution, for me, or at least a more productive way to use what I already have

* By ‘write a second ms’ I mean complete the first draft in 2015.

So, there you have it. Eight (not counting #1 🙂 ) simple, less stress-inducing goals. Still challenging, but hopefully, doable.

What about you? Will you be making goals (again) this year? How tough are you on yourself? Do you torture, or love yourself with your goals?


Calisa Rhose asks ~ What’s so Wonderful about Undead? R.E. Mullins explains

Friday Fanfare Welcomes:

R. E. Mullins with It’s a Wonderful Undead Life

How did the writer’s journey begin for you?  

“First, Calisa, let me thank you for having me today.”

You’re welcome. It’s my pleasure, R.E.!

FFFRobinMullins04.26.13“I always thought about writing and as a kid I wrote scripts for my favorite TV shows but Hollywood never came knocking. My mother also would always bring up a story I wrote in grade school about UFO’s. Later I suppose a lack of time and confidence kept me from fulfilling the dream. Life happened, I forgot about it and then as the children grew up and I went through a tough divorce – I discovered solace in writing. You can really escape from the world inside your characters. My first draft was filled with a lot of anger and some vindictiveness against the ex. It got it worked out of my system (thank god) so I edited most of that stuff out.”

*R. E. pauses wondering if she answered the question or just went off on a rant.* “Ah, for a more formal bio, I was born and raised in Joplin, MO. Nothing exciting there – oh wait – one claim to fame (besides tornadoes) there was a big shoot out with Bonnie and Clyde. I’ve also lived in Tulsa, OK, Mt. Clemens, MI, and Springfield, MO. Right now I’m living in Colorado Springs, CO and experiencing mountains. I must admit it’s been a real change for me. I’m not use to having this much snow in April and miss daffodils. Heck it’s so dry out here – I almost miss Missouri’s humidity. But then I go out to walk the dog, see the mountains, and every time I catch my breath in awe. I’ll always have a soft spot for the Ozarks, though, and that’s why I set my fictional town of Amber Heights there.”

My oldest daughter moved to Denver last summer and so far she loves it in CO, as well. But she’s tired of the snow, too.

Tell us three things about you-the writer-readers wouldn’t typically know.

*R.E. grins a little sheepishly.*

1. I actually wrote the book off and on between 2004 and 2006. I didn’t get up the confidence to submit until 2008. It was accepted by the Wild Rose Press with the proviso I rewrite it from 1st POV into 3rd POV. I was overwhelmed by the challenge, lacked the confidence and sat on the manuscript for years. I more or less forgot about it and then I found it again, recontacting the editor in 2012. Unbelievably, she remembered me and my book but insisted on the same rewrite. So I slapped myself silly, cracked my knuckles, and got busy. My lovely editor, Amanda Barnett of Wild Rose Press, held my hand, calmed my fears, and kicked me in the pants until it came out 12/12/12. Pretty auspicious release date don’t you think?

Crazy date. LOL But good on you doing the work!

2. I freaking love basketball. I fell in love watching the sport last year and still none of my family or friends can believe it.

3. I honestly believe I’m a fairly quirkless person. Oops, the voices in my head don’t seem to agree and are now laughing.

 It all began when…  

“It all began when I needed to start over. After the divorce I received a catalog from the local community college. I was in the position of needing to return to the workforce after 20 years as a homemaker. So I paged through the catalog and the phlebotomy course started first. I applied with the idea if I wasn’t accepted; I would apply for the pharmacy tech. class. Fate stepped in and I was accepted into the phlebotomy course. For ten years I drew blood samples in different medical labs. Let me tell you it was an eye opener for my little sheltered self. I loved 99% of my co-workers and patients. Such characters! Crude jokes and vampire humor were rampant and patients seemed to think they were hysterical. Since most were so good hearted, I didn’t really mind laughing at the same tired joke every single visit.

Okay, here I have to admit to memorializing some of my patients in my book. I blended some of the more memorable together into a couple of minor characters. In fact many of my friends and family might find bits and pieces of themselves scattered inside the pages. If the character was too recognizable my, er, victims was apprised.”

Where did you get the premise for this book?

“That was easy. Since I was working with blood it seemed only natural to write a book about vampires. The title popped into my head during a shift. (Won’t the supervisors be glad to learn that!) There are references to the classic, It’s a Wonderful Life, but the plot line diverges significantly. After all it’s about two rival vampire factions and how my heroine gets caught up in the strife.

What stands out about this story that made writing it different for you?

*Tries to keep the whine out of her voice, she doesn’t totally succeed.*

“It was really hard to learn how to write from the third person. Plus I didn’t want to go into the hero’s head. What do I know about how the male species thinks? But I gave it a shot.  I’d be zipping along pretty good and then my brain would flip back to ‘I did’ and ‘I said’ and suddenly I’d realize I’d have to redo chapters at a time. It was very laborious at times.”

Were there any difficult challenges or special subject matter you came across while writing this book?”

“I did a surprising (well, I was surprised but I really liked it) amount of research for this book and the one I’m working on. I kept the medical terminology correct which one reviewer specifically mentioned liking and another absolutely hated. I happen to like it. I researched languages, old maps, blood volume, hypothermia, blood diseases, and many vampire myths. I studied the difference between sanguine (blood drinkers) and psychic vampires. I went back to genetics because I wanted humans and vampires to spring from one gene pool and share a collective memory. For their origin myth, I thought about the great flood. As you know similar flood stories appear in every culture. That was the feel I wanted so I combined religion with mythology. I explained how vampires started as human until mixing it up with a vengeful god. The hard part was not putting in everything I found interesting.”

What about this book would make us want to read it more than others of similar taste?

“That’s a hard one, Calisa.  Why can’t everyone just read all of them?  Well they say to write what you like so I don’t write dark, evil, tortured, vampires that wander around wanting to die – at least my main characters won’t be. Think not vampire regular but more vampire lite.

I want them to have the same strengths and weaknesses as humans but with a few physical bonuses they’ve picked up through evolution. Just because they are vampire and have or will live longer, they aren’t exempt from the same failings and attitudes that plague us all. My reasoning? Not all 90 year old people become wise, mature, or polished through the years. Some are just old. Why should vampires be any different? Do you know what I mean?

 So in the book when the vampire sister, who is a doctor, is ready to let the heroine die – it’s because she isn’t perfect. It doesn’t matter how old she is. At the moment, she’s thinking like a sister and what would benefit her and her family. She isn’t thinking like a healer. My characters won’t always think and do the right thing. When they willfully misunderstand they can act like jerks. They argue, have the same family dynamics as the rest of us…you get the picture. Since they live a couple of millennium, they tend to mature even more slowly and, just like us, some never mature at all. (No comments needed from the peanut gallery)”

What do you want readers to take away from this book?

“That’s easy. I want them to have a couple of laughs and escape for awhile. That’s what I look for in a read. To escape into another world through reading is my form of Calgon. With vampires there are no hard and fast rules. Unlike reality their world is whatever we want to make it. I like my vampires to have a sense of humor and to be very much like us. I consider them the modern vampires.”

Tell us about the finished book. Is there anything special we might not know after reading it?

“This is the first book in a series. Currently, I’m almost finished with the second book. In Vampire in the Scrying Glass it takes the family further. It deals with the heroine’s friend and the hero’s younger brother. She is a witch who must regain her magic. Only then can she protect herself and attempt to defeat a demon threatening both humans and vampires. Things come out, characters are delved into more deeply, more flaws appear and love is found. I think it’s more exciting.”

It’s a Wonderful Undead Life blurb:

It’s been a rough couple of years for Cailey Kantor. Now she’s not only facing her first Christmas season alone she’s also received some bad financial news. In desperation, she prays for an angel to come fix her problems. Instead, a sadistic, sociopathic vampire named Vincent who is working for the evil Toltecs confronts her. Trying to start a war between the two rivaling factions of vampires, he bites Cailey then forces her to drink blood stolen from the Nosferatu Gabriel Blautsauger. 

Now dying she must protect Gabe and his family by allowing him to finish her transformation. Just when she is adjusting to life as a vampire, the Toltecs return and again she becomes the bait to destroy the Blautsauger family.  

Trying to protect those she loves, Cailey is faces with lies, abduction and betrayal yet somewhere along the lines she manages to fall in love. 


Cailey’s scrub top was gone, exposing her lacy bra, WonderfulUnDead_REMullins
and she was in the process of stepping out of the
drawstring pants. She glanced up, her gaze a bit wild.
“Hurry. Hurry. I think I might explode from all this
energy inside me. I feel like a popcorn maker and all
the kernels are popping at once. So much pressure in
here.” She dropped a hand to the juncture of her thighs
and pressed it against her.
“Cailey?” Gabe’s tone was an octave higher than
normal. When she straightened up, clad only in her
underwear, he gulped for air. “What are you doing?”
“Getting ready, of course.” Holding her wadded up
pants in front of her, she frowned at him. “I thought you
said you knew what you were doing.”
“I thought I did…” His voice trailed off, his gaze
locked on Cailey’s tight body. How had he missed just
how beautiful she was? Hidden beneath the baggy
scrubs was a living miracle. He took in the slight swell
of flesh above the lucky bra cupping her breasts, and
his fingers itched to run down the indentation of her
She dropped the pants to the floor. “Come on.
Come on, Gabe the Babe. I know all about when you
were at university and all the female vamps used to
chase you around and gloat if they made time with
“Ahem.” Gabe realized he had his sister to thank
for this new conundrum. More than a bit leery, he
asked, “What else did Metta tell you?”
“That we’re both kind of like virgins.”
“I beg your pardon?”


Where can readers find you and your books?

 Is there anything else you want to share or add?

“Well, CaIisa, when asked to describe my book I called it a sitcom. It is meant to entertain, with a few laughs, maybe a groan, a little gross out, and to end with a kiss. They are not in the vein (yes that was deliberate) of the traditional dark, tortured vampire – again think more of a diet vampire. And that’s the way I like it uh-huh, uh-huh.

Thanks again, Calisa. I had a great time chatting with you today.”

I have to say this sounds like a fun book, R.E.! Congrats and happy sales! I’m sure it will be a benefit to every paranormal reader out there that you got off your duff and cracked down on yourself. 🙂

Wednesday Wrap-Up with Editor Stacy Holmes

Monster or Mentor?

I’ve asked editor Stacy D. Holmes to visit today and share some little known knowledge with us today. I love what she has to say! Welcome, Stacy.


One word that can cause chills to run down the spine of a writer.  The thought of the “all powerful editor” holding your precious manuscript in their hands to shred to pieces or, hopefully, see a spark of life, has led to many sleepless nights for those awaiting their fate in the publishing industry.

Does this sound like you? 

Well, I’ll let you in on a secret that might give you just a little more sleep tonight.  We are not “all powerful” (I still can’t fly or make the dirty dishes disappear with a snap of my fingers), and it is definitely not our goal to shred your dreams. We are not faceless monsters, or even remotely inhuman for that matter—in fact, we are all too human, only proven if you could see how we struggle with having to tell an author that their manuscript is not ready for publication, that they aren’t quite as far along in their dream as they hoped.


Instead of picturing the top floor of a brutishly tall office building, clean, crisp skirts and suits behind goliath desks, outboxes piled high with manuscripts riddled with big red slashes, picture your favourite teacher from school, or the coach who made a difference in the way you played and enjoyed your favourite sport.

At least, that is the way I hope my authors look at me.  Not as some be all and end all of their manuscript, but as a coach who stands beside them, works with them, shows them where they can improve and encourages them to make their story the very best it can be.  And, like with any sport, practice furthers your development and effort brings accomplishment.


Whether you are submitting to a publisher or using an independent editor, think of them as a mentor, someone waiting for you to submit, ready to assist you, excited to help you achieve your dreams. 

Changing the way you think about editors can help get you a bit more sleep at night, because there is honestly no monster on the other end of the SEND button.  Let’s be honest, if not for writers, there would be no need for editors.  YOU are that important to us. 

Now, that’s not to say you should be disrespectful or too casual in your correspondence to editors.  As with a teacher or coach, there comes a certain respectability with the position, but most editors should also earn your respect by their actions and guidance whether through an encouraging rejection letter or during the editing process. 

From this Mentor: Remember, there are often bumps in the road to your dreams.  Don’t let fear of the unknown be one of them.  Embrace the unknown and conquer the fear by asking questions and finding the answers, because answers can light up a whole new path you never even knew was there. 

Biography: Stacy D. Holmes

StacyDHolmes15 years in the publishing industry have taught me many things—the most important being that dreams may not come easy, but they do come true.

My many hats include freelance editor, senior editor for The Wild Rose Press Inc. since 2007, published author in both long and short romantic fiction, administrative assistant and newsletter coordinator—together with wife and mother.

Feel free to visit my website at, and join me on my blog at Tuesdays for tips, tales and thoughts on the publishing industry and Thursdays for Q&A—no question is too little, too silly or should be too embarrassing to ask—knowledge is the key that opens many doors. So, go ahead and ask me:

I SO agree with you, Stacy. I’ve said so myself and am glad other editors will come out and enforce this. It’s so important that writers know where they stand and who we (editors) really are. 

If you’ve read any of TWRP’s Honky Tonk Heart series- Those Violet Eyes, Sing to Me Cowboy, and so many more- why not let Stacy know what a great job she’s done bringing those wonderful stories to us? Yes, she’s that editor! 

Stacy has invited you to visit her blog and ask questions and I truly hope you will do that, but for today you can ask her anything right here! Come up to the mic and ask your questions. What’s on your mind? 

Thank you for coming to the Ranch today in the spur of a moment, Stacy. 

Too close to my own dirt


I was looking around the bathroom this morning and realized I need to give it a deep scrub. It’s the one most neglected room in my house I think. LOL Yes, I need to bleach the tub and scrub the floor. And those kiddie smears of only-God-knows-what around the knobs? Gotta go.BathroomMess

It got me thinking about my writing and the responses we authors often encounter to our ‘babies’ tossed out into the world to sink or swim. They are only as presentable as we make them.

Back to cleaning house. Why haven’t I noticed the hand grime before? Why haven’t I seen, and picked up, those scattered hair ties the ‘kid’ has strewn around the toilet (normally kept in a container on the rack above the throne)? How could I not have seen the stain ringing the tub–from a kid who loves the outdoors more than washing the outdoors off–before that moment? Ewwww.

The answer is easy. It’s my dirt, my mess, my bathroom. It’s not crusty and gross. The toilet is clean, the sink only has a couple of toothpaste smears today (as opposed to covered in the sticky goop) and I can see myself in the mirror (I only have to tilt slightly right, instead of doing the bob and duck to see around specks and spots). I mean, honestly, it’s looked a LOT worse. It’s clean enough to me as I gather the left over towels and clothes left behind by a kid in a hurry to go play for just another half hour before bed.

It’s my mess.

Have you ever gone to someone’s house and noticed these same things (maybe not the tub ring and probably not as bad as my own–have I mentioned that I hate house work) and wanted to clean the smudge or speck for them? I have. Yet, I don’t see the same thing in my house, which I look at daily, hourly.

AnimBroomSo how does house cleaning tie into writing? Well, we write a book, it may take weeks, months, or in many cases, years of struggle and sweat, but we finish. Whew! Then it’s time to shop the baby. Find that perfect publishing home for it. Right?

Wrong. It’s now time to clean house. Scrub all those bad spots out, wash the smudgy areas so they shine, wipe away the rings we thought should stay, but honestly it’s better off without, and polish the whole thing.

We often set it aside thinking that will make it look better, or to allow us to distance ourselves from the clutter so we can make sense of it later. But left too long it will grow mold or rot to oblivion. Usually it gathers dust at the least.

How many wips have you written, only to set aside and never look at again? Shove those under the bed…let’s face it–some of those really don’t belong under the bed, some actually belong in a bag gracing the garbage can (but I didn’t say that–as I peer at all the ‘bunnies’ hiding under my bed).

Okay, so for this we won’t go there…

We pull that baby out and clean it up. We might even clean it two or three times. This is called editing.

Sometimes we pull them out, wipe the dust off and think they are miraculously all fixed. Wa-la. We didn’t need to do nearly as much as we thought we would to make it all spiffy and pretty. We’re just that good of a writer. They have steeped long enough to have rearranged those poorly written areas without us, and all we need to do is mail it out and watch it flourish.

Wrong again. THAT NEVER HAPPENS! Don’t fool yourself and set yourself up for rejection.

Take another look at it and I’m sure you’ll find something to correct, something to add a better word to, something–

TeamworkBetter yet, have someone else take a look at it. It often takes teamwork to dig deep into those cracks and crevices.

Let someone else walk into your house and see what you can’t. Have them point those smudges out to you, not clean them for you. You won’t learn to recognize those dirt specks if you do. No…that green spot is not part of the wall paper. No, your cabinets didn’t come with blue speckles all over them. It’s more likely toothpaste spatter.

I had an epiphany while staring at my dirty bathroom this morning.Idea

I’m too comfortable in my house, and no, that’s not a bad thing, it’s a fact. I can clean my house, pick up the laundry, do the dishes. I can clean my own house. But it often takes an outsider, an unbiased eye to notice the little things I can’t see in my own writing.

I’m too close to the dirt to see the mess.

I challenge you to look around your clean house. Really look at it as a visitor might having seen it for a first time. What do you see that you never noticed until you read this post?

Don’t tell me.

Go get your wip out and look at it as if it isn’t yours. Now…what do you see?

Go forth my grasshoppers (you probably won’t know what that means unless you had dinosaurs for pets). Edit.

I’m going to clean a bathroom.


Walk the plank with Alyson Reuben


I feel so fortunate to have friend and fellow WRP author, Alyson Reuben, on the ranch today! So many are reaching out to a new mecca, learning how to truly become in charge of their own careers and I’m impressed…intimidated, but still hugely impressed.  So what plank did my guest walk? Self-Publication. I want to self-publish in the next few months, so I asked Alyson if she would share a glimpse of her experience with us. Read on.

Alyson, the round pen is yours. Welcome!

Please tell us some of the things you found different than working with a publishing house, please. Don’t forget to tell us about your book while you’re at it. 😀

ALYSON REUBEN: Have you ever had a friend recommend a new clothing store only to get there and discover it’s so different from what you’re used to that all you can do is stand in one place and look all around in bewilderment?  Sure, they might sell the same style of clothing, but the place has a totally different layout.  Where do you start?  Should you head over to where the walls displays are color-coordinated?  Or should you look over the mannequins decked out in the trendiest clothes?  Then again, maybe it would be better to check out the special sales area first?

That’s how I felt when I first decided to take the Indie route to publishing.  Several author friends recommended it to me after trying it themselves.  I didn’t jump into it, though.  Only after carefully weighing the pros and cons did I decide to Indie publish CASTLES WE BUILD, my latest book.  Wow, was I surprised by the process!  I had no idea there were so many differences between traditional publishing and Indie distribution.  First difference, I worked with my editor independently, rather than through a publisher.  Second, I designed my own cover, which – to be honest – was a lot of fun, even if it did take several tries.  And, rather than rely on my publisher to send my book to professional reviewers, I had to push up my sleeves and send it myself.

So far, the journey might not be exactly rainbows and lollipops, but at least I can be thankful I don’t share the anxieties of Julia, heroine of CASTLES WE BUILD.

Julia is married to her second husband, Ford, after her first husband, Landon, left for WWI and never returned.  Together, they share a majestic beachside home with their children.  Life is calm.  Life is peaceful.  Yet, Julia has no idea what trouble awaits her.  Out of nowhere, Landon returns from his overseas captivity and her peaceful world is suddenly one huge tangled knot.  She’s bombarded with one obstacle after another – her mother’s unexpected and unwanted attention, her sister’s bankruptcy concern, her stepdaughter’s rowdy behavior, an encounter with a bootlegger, and the alarming kidnapping of her son.  Yet, Julia isn’t the type of woman to crumble under the load.  She’s prepared to fight for what she wants.

And that’s exactly what I’m going to do – push past all obstacles and explore all the great possibilities of the Indie market.  It might be a bit daunting – but it sure is exciting!

Castles We Build’s blurb:

She has a chance to relive her past. But at what cost?

When Julia married the man of her dreams, Landon Sloane, neither of them could have predicted the destructive impact of The Great War. Finding herself a widow and single mother in a period ripe with women’s suffrage and the prohibition, Julia married wealthy industrialist Ford Hampton.

Now, ten years later, with a son attending an academy for the gifted, a daughter with special needs, and a flapper stepdaughter who tests her daily, Julia is hardly prepared for Landon’s return from his long foreign captivity to announce he has never stopped loving her.

Faced with unrequited love for Landon, her life truly begins to unravel with the intrusion of her mother, who abandoned her as a child, a devastating factory fire, and an alarming encounter with a tawdry bootlegger. Finally, when her son is kidnapped in a diabolical scheme of revenge, Julia knows she has to make a final decision that will forever change everyone and everything in her life.


There he is.  A man whose memory I desperately tried to lay to rest at his memorial site in Westbrook Cemetery. 

            Landon Sloane.

            For a few seconds, I wobble, my peripheral vision closing in.  I’m about to pass out….

            Suddenly, he grins.  And the grin does the same thing to me now that it did nine years ago, saving me from losing consciousness.  Saving me, period.

            He holds out his arms, and I rush into them, moaning as his mouth claims mine in a kiss that’s like a drowning man clutching a lifesaver. Pulling me inside and reaching behind me to slam the door shut, his hands grip at my clothes and my hair, tangling in them as if hoping to extract the essence of everything I am.

            Now he’s kissing my cheeks.  My forehead.  My chin.  The places behind my ears.  The hollow of my neck.  The skin above my lace collar.  My breasts through the voile fabric.  My legs as he pushes up the hem of my frock. 

            And I’m falling backward on a bed that seems to have appeared like magic.  Calling his name.  Over and over.  He answers me with a voice tinted by a slight brogue, as familiar as the sound of leaves rustling in the wind.  Yes.  Yes, he’s really Landon Sloane.  Alive.  Very alive.  And my name is also on his lips, coming out in hoarse whispers, pressed against my skin, branding me with what’s always been there, never disappearing completely, but only lying dormant — my love for him.

            Rising above me, his body comes down over mine in the ancient way that has coupled countless lovers.  In the same way that summoned us in the past with pleasure and intoxication.  I grip him, pulling him closer, needing him to complete what’s lacking.  To satiate me with his heat and energy….

            A little girl’s cry floats through the room. 

            Gracie!  Just that suddenly, I push Landon back, forcing his flushed face away from mine.  No, I’m not thinking clearly.  That wasn’t a girl’s voice.  Just a bird outside the open window.  One that has a trill similar to a child’s outburst.

            For several seconds Landon and I stare at each other, saying nothing.  He looks the same.  Yet, different in several ways.  Slimmer…a little too slim.  A leathery tan that makes his eyes brighter, as potent as midnight’s navy sky in a flash of lightning.

            I’m lying here half naked.  With a husband I thought would never return from the war he left to fight nine years ago.  And the question hits me like a rock to the stomach.  “Why, Landon?  Why didn’t you come home?  Where have you been?”

            He visibly swallows, his face glistening with perspiration and what might very well be tears.  “My ship sank off the coast of South Africa.  Most of the men didn’t….  Anyway, me and my lieutenant were rescued by natives.  They had bartering friends who traded with them.  Local radicals who supported the enemy forces.  I think a few of them even had direct ties with Germany.”

            His voice has deepened, grown huskier with age.  I try to concentrate on his words, needing desperately to understand.  To make sense of this unexpected phenomenon: the miracle of his rise from the dead. 

            “So me and the lieutenant were arrested and held in an encampment.  Seventeen straw huts surrounded by a high fence.  Guards with guns and long pikes.  Shared it with criminals and other detainees.  We didn’t even know when the war was over.  Guess they liked having free laborers too much to set us free.  Or maybe they just liked trapping us like mice in a maze.”  His voice is hard now.  Gritty.  Full of hatred and anger.  In a tone I don’t recognize. 

            “They finally released us last month.  Because of some new political uprising, I think.  I don’t know exactly who or what…. I only care that I’m free.  Back where I can see you.  Hold you.  And…oh, God, if I can just get all this filth out of my head.”  He sits up beside me, gripping the sides of his head.

            The hair at his temples is peppered with silver.

            It used to be completely dark, the color of coffee with no creamer. 

            Like Brent’s.

            I reach for him, pulling him to me.  Prison.  For almost a decade.  What a nightmare that must’ve been.  The hurt is palpable, transferring between us.  “It’s over, darling,” I whisper near his ear.  “And I’m so glad you’re back, safe and sound.  Alive.”

            He folds his arms around me so that we’re huddled in a ball.  And we stay that way.  Unmoving.  Quiet.  For a very long time.

            His heavy breathing steadies to a hoarse snore; the sound of a man who hasn’t had good, clean rest for a long time.  He shifts, spreading out his arms in unconscious freedom.  And I release him, sitting up gently in order not to wake him. 

            The bedroom is mostly bare.  A utilitarian iron bed.  A dresser.  A shabby club chair.  But nothing else.  I stare at the open window where the cage hangs, dangling slightly in the breeze.  There are no finches in it.  Or any other birds.  The door is hanging open, facing the outside.

            He won’t cage anything again.

            I push my tousled hair from my face, combing both hands through the chin-length strands.

            None of this is the way it should be. 

            It’s all messed up somehow.

            Ford’s face enters my mind.  Just the way he looked last night, smiling at me from the dinner table.

            Oh, God.

            I’m married to someone else.

            And I have a family.

            Two men. 

            Two husbands.


Alyson’s Bio:

Back in elementary and high school, Alyson was always in trouble for jotting stories in her notebooks when she should’ve been studying for math tests. Detentions and trips to the principal’s office aside, she was determined to become an author someday, no matter the price.

Fast forward a few years — okay, actually several years — she began writing historical romance and women’s fiction, leading to the debut of A BEAUTIFUL CAGE, published by the Wild Rose Press in 2011.

Now she gets in trouble for writing stories when she should be cooking dinner for her family.

Castles We Build can be found at Amazon (ebook Kindle version will be available later this week):

Amazon page:





Thank you so much for sharing your journey and book with us Alyson. It sounds amazing and you did a wonderful job on that cover! Congratulations.

What about ya’ll? Are you still resisting the pull of change and growth in publishing, or have you walked that plank and lept right into the muck of self-publishing? Maybe you’re like me, teetering on the edge, still undecided, or sure, but not quite ready to jump?

We’d love to hear from you.


Edits of Mystical Proportions

I’m turning the Round Pen over to two very special ladies today. I’m gonna grab my mocha and squat over here with the visitors and absorb what AJ Nuest and Arial Burnz have to share.

Greetings and Salutations!

Many thanks to Calisa for hosting us on her blog today! We’ve got some really exciting news to share with everyone so grab that cuppa and let the blogging begin!

 September 1st-15th marks the official

Grand Opening of Mystical Press Services!!!

This means 50% Off all our classes

and services through September 15th!

In case you haven’t yet heard about our website, allow me to introduce you to a place where you just might find the fulfillment of your dreams. That’s right! The talented folks at Mystical Press want to help you reach your publishing goals!

How do we do that? I’m glad you asked!

 Mystical Press is the culmination of an idea that came from two authors and professionally trained editors—Arial Burnz and AJ Nuest—where we help authors bridge the gap between the form rejection letter and publication. In fact, we believe in this venture so passionately, our tagline is “Helping authors achieve their dreams.” 

At Mystical Press our primary goal is to helpwriters. As authors, we understand the frustration of not receiving constructive and useful feedback, the aggravation of navigating the murky depths of the publishing industry and that, sometimes, authors just need a place to vent. Well, we’re here to tell you, the insanity can end!

Like-minded individuals can gather online at Mystical Press to work one-on-one with professional editors who help authors prepare their manuscripts for submission. Whether you are looking for a Manuscript Evaluation, Submission Evaluation, or a full story edit, we will give you honest, encouraging feedback and work diligently with you on your story to make sure it’s ready to land on an editor’s desk. No project is too big or too small and all receive the same precise attention to detail.

 Perhaps your submission is ready but you need assistance with smaller editing projects like a query letter and synopsis? Have no fear! Mystical Press is here! We offer a full edit of query letters and synopses with comments and suggestions that come directly from AN EDITOR! TAH-DAH!

And don’t worry! If your goal is to write your very own dynamite synopsis, at Mystical Press we believe in “teaching a man to fish”. Our Power Class, How to Write a WINNING Synopsis, is designed to easily guide you through the process of crafting your very own synopsis! Yes, that’s right. I used “easily” and “synopsis” in the same sentence!

 The self-paced course curriculum at Mystical Press can assist in tackling those pesky problem areas as well (e.g., show vs. tell, POV shifts, realistic character and story development, etc.). If you’ve read books, articles and/or taken workshops and are still in search of that elusive contract offer, perhaps Mystical Press can help. Take one class or take a whole series—our online classes are designed to meet each writer’s individual needs.

 Is your next project of the self-publishing variety? Mystical Press has a selection of pre-made covers we guarantee will only be used once! No one will have the same cover! Or, if you’d like, we can design a cover specifically tailored to your vision—you will work one-on-one with our talented cover artists! We are also happy to edit your baby and can even format the document to meet the specifications of most popular self-publishing platforms. 

Remember to mention Mystical Press to all your friends and fellow writing pals – here’s why. Mystical Press offers a free Referral Program. Just register on the site and we will assign you a Referral ID. If anyone clicks on your link and makes a purchase, you earn a referral fee! Whether you choose cash or a credit for products or services on the site, consider this our thank you for helping us spread the word. 

 Oh! And before I forget…we offer a wide range of gift certificates designed specifically with the writer in mind. Tired of searching for the “write” present for your author pals? Maybe that next birthday calls for an eGift from Mystical Press!

So now that you know all about us, please tell us all about you! Head on over to Mystical Press and register free on the site. Everyone who does will be entered into our drawing for fabulous gifts and prizes! Join our celebration and together we will strive to get your voice heard!

Wow! That’s a great service opportunity! Let AJ and Arial know what you think of their new company.