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Tips and Ideas for the budding Writer

Tips and Ideas for the budding Writer, guest post by Lonna Enox

What advice would you give budding writers?  Budding writers should do just that—write!  I’ve always kept journals, write letters, write ideas for characters and stories. 

Another bit of advice is to ‘people watch’.  I have watched strangers in a mall, the park, the movie theatre, etc… always imagining what their name would be, what their profession would be, why they were happy or frowning, etc.

Tips and Ideas for the budding Writer, guest post by Lonna Enox
Do your research, when I’m writing I always do my due diligence.  For The Last Dance I interviewed law enforcement professionals, including police department detectives, sheriff, patrolmen, and police photographers.  Some are current, some are retired.  I research things my characters will encounter.

Doing your research will help you develop your characters.  The hardest characters for me to write are the criminals, as I don’t want them to be stereotypical, and getting into the criminal mind is a ‘foreign’ experience for me.  In your book you will always have characters you can relate to easier, in The Last Dance I was able to write about some characters who have a background with which I am familiar…like Sorrel, Mr. Byrd, and Will.

I seldom get writer’s block. However, it does happen, or me when this happens sometimes I write a letter to someone to get my mind flowing.  Other times, I will make a journal entry, something often that has no relation to anything in my book.  When I have finished it, I realize that I have either solved a problem for a character…or raised a question.

Tips and Ideas for the budding Writer, guest post by Lonna Enox
Lonna Enox is a former high school and college English instructor. She grew up on a ranch in New Mexico, where she learned to love critters, reading, and "wide open" spaces. She is a wife, mom, and grandmother, as well as the proud owner of 4 rescue pets--3 cats and a dog. Aside from an early stint as a newspaper reporter, she also spent 10 years as a freelance magazine writer. She is happiest exploring a wildlife refuge, cuddling little ones and critters, or snuggled up reading a good mystery. Lonna is a professional writer with over 250 printed articles in a variety of national and regional magazines. She has written in several genres and The Last Dance is her debut mystery.

Connect with the author: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Pinterest ~ Instagram


The Devil in the Details

The Devil in the Details, Guest post by Meg Benjamin

A while ago I took a workshop in which the presenter recommended writing a sentence summing up the purpose of each paragraph in a chapter just to make sure all the paragraphs were necessary. At the time, that struck me as torture—and, to be honest, it still does. But the idea behind the exercise was legit. Nothing should be in your book that doesn’t serve a purpose.

No extraneous crap, in other words.

The Devil in the Details, Guest post by Meg Benjamin
Drilling this down to the paragraph level may be taking things a bit far. But it’s still a good idea to consider the purpose of every detail you include in your story. Because every detail should be there for a reason. Now the reason isn’t always related to the plot. You can have details that relate to character, like your hero rattling change in his pocket to show that he’s nervous. Or you can have details relating to setting, like the insipid punch your heroine sips at Almack’s. And you can certainly have details relating to the story, like all the myriad of real and false clues that show up in most mysteries and thrillers. But everything you include in your story should have some point behind it. If it doesn’t, you’re wasting your time—and your reader’s time.

I was reminded of this principle while I was reading a thriller. The hero had just been reunited with the heroine, his one true love. He was bringing her back to his apartment in order to protect her from the bad guy. On the way in, he stopped to pick up his mail, then dropped it into one of the grocery bags he was carrying upstairs.

Let me tell you, I stayed fixated on that mail for the next five pages. Surely it would come back to be important in the plot. Maybe the mail included a letter with a crucial piece of information. Maybe the hero’s obsession with the heroine would distract him from finding a clue to the villain’s identity in his mail stack. Because surely the author wouldn’t just describe the hero picking up the mail for no particular reason.

Actually, that’s just what she did. The mail, and the fact that the hero stopped to pick it up, never came up again.

I have a good idea why the author chose to include the fact that the hero picked up his mail. She probably thought, “When I come home, I always pick up the mail, so he should do the same thing.” In other words, the author thought she was being realistic. But here’s the thing: real life includes all kinds of things that don’t show up in fiction. Part of the author’s job, in fact, is to pare away the details of life that don’t have any bearing on the story. And in this case, the author failed to do that—and failed pretty spectacularly.

If the mail had been the only detail the author included for no particular reason, it would only have been a minor problem. But this particular author included lots of them, so many, in fact, that the plot started to bog down under their weight. And after a while, I just gave up.

Any story will wither if you throw in too much extraneous stuff, and what constitutes extraneous stuff will differ from genre to genre. Those of us writing paranormal will have to explain some of the details of our world, and so will those writing historical romances. Contemporary writers may have to explain settings or narrative hooks. All of us will have things that have to be gone into, Lord help us. Unfortunately, we may misjudge the level of detail we need for our particular situation. And if we do, the reader may get so tired of trudging through the bog that she won’t stick around for the denouement.

But as authors, we all have a central task. We decide what our readers need to know, and what they don’t. Then we tell them whatever it is they need. And then, with any luck, we all move on.

The Devil in the Details, Guest post by Meg Benjamin
Meg Benjamin is an award-winning author of contemporary romance. Her newest series, the Folk, is a paranormal trilogy set in Colorado. Meg’s Konigsburg series is set in the Texas Hill Country and her Salt Box and Brewing Love trilogies are set in the Colorado Rockies (both are available from Entangled Publishing). Along with contemporary romance, Meg is also the author of the paranormal Ramos Family trilogy from Berkley InterMix. Meg’s books have won numerous awards, including an EPIC Award, a Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award, the Holt Medallion from Virginia Romance Writers, the Beanpot Award from the New England Romance Writers, and the Award of Excellence from Colorado Romance Writers. Meg’s Web site is You can follow her on Facebook (, Pinterest (, and Twitter ( Meg loves to hear from readers—contact her at

The Devil in the Details, Guest post by Meg Benjamin


Excerpt: Yesterday's News by R.G. Belsky

Excerpt: Yesterday's News by R.G. Belsky

Title: Yesterday's News
Author: R.G. Belsky

Genre: Mystery
Published by: Oceanview Publishing
Publication Date: May 1st 2018
Number of Pages: 343
ISBN: 160809281X (ISBN13: 9781608092819)

Excerpt: Yesterday's News by R.G. Belsky
About the book:

A classic cold case reopened—along with Pandora's box

When eleven-year-old Lucy Devlin disappeared on her way to school more than a decade ago, it became one of the most famous missing child cases in history.

The story turned reporter Clare Carlson into a media superstar overnight. Clare broke exclusive after exclusive. She had unprecedented access to the Devlin family as she wrote about the heartbreaking search for their young daughter. She later won a Pulitzer Prize for her extraordinary coverage of the case.

Now Clare once again plunges back into this sensational story. With new evidence, new victims and new suspects – too many suspects. Everyone from members of a motorcycle gang to a prominent politician running for a US Senate seat seem to have secrets they're hiding about what might have happened to Lucy Devlin. But Clare has her own secrets too. And, in order to untangle the truth about Lucy Devlin, she must finally confront her own tortuous past.

Learn More about Yesterday's News & Get Your Copy From: Amazon | Barnes &Noble | Oceanview Publishing | Goodreads



School was always special to her.

Some children hated to go to school. But she always looked for- ward to going back to school each morning. She loved her friends. She loved her teachers. And most of all, she loved to learn.

For her, it was a time of excitement, a time of adventure, a time of new beginnings each day she sat in the classroom—like a butterfly emerging from a cocoon in a field of flowers underneath a blue, cloudless sky.

And so, on this sunny morning, like so many others, the mother and daughter leave their house and walk together toward the school bus that will pick up the little girl.

“What about your lunch?” the mother asks.

“I’m buying it at school today, remember?”

“Do you have enough money?”

“Yes, you gave it to me last night.”

“Right,” she says. The mother knows that, but she’s forgotten. “And remember to come home right after school.”

“You worry too much, Mom. I’m not a baby anymore.” That’s all too true, of course. She is growing up. Just like they all do.

But today she is still her little girl.

The mother hugs her and puts her on the school bus, watching her in the window until the bus disappears from sight.

A little girl who has everything in the world ahead of her. A lifetime of memories to come. And all the time in the world to enjoy it.



I always tell the same story to the new reporters on their first day.

It goes like this: Two guys are sitting in a bar bragging about their sexual exploits. As they get drunker and drunker, the conversation becomes more outrageous about how far they’d be willing to go. Would you ever have sex with an animal, one of them asks? Of course not, the other guy replies angrily. What if someone paid you $50 to do it with a dog? That’s ridiculous, he says. How about $500? Same answer. Okay, the first guy says to him, would you have sex with a dog for $5,000? The other guy thinks about that for a while, then asks: “What breed?”

The point here is that once you ask the question “what breed?” you’ve already crossed over a very important line and can never go back.

It’s based, I suppose, on the famous old Winston Churchill story. They say Churchill was seated at a dinner party next to a very elegant and beautiful lady. During the meal, he turned to her and asked if she’d be willing to have sex with him if he gave her $1,000,000. The woman laughed and said sure. Then he asked if she’d have sex with him for $25. “Of course not, what do you think I am?” the indignant woman replied. To which Churchill told her, “Madame, we’ve already established what you are. Now we’re just haggling over the price.”

This is a crucial concept in the news business where I work. Because there is no gray area for a journalist when it comes to honesty and integrity and moral standards. You can’t be just a little bit immoral or a little bit dishonest or a little bit corrupt. There is no compromise possible here.

Sometimes I tell a variation of the dog story. I call it the Woodstein Maneuver. The idea is to come up with a new scenario for the Watergate scandal. To speculate on what might have happened if Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein (“Woodstein!” in the Robert Redford–Dustin Hoffman movie) had not written their stories that led to Richard Nixon’s ouster, but instead gotten hush money to cover up the scandal. What if Nixon had paid them to make it all go away?

I ask a new reporter to put themselves in Woodward and Bernstein’s place and think about what they would do if offered such a bribe.

Most of them immediately say they would never take money under any circumstances to compromise a story. I’m not sure if they say it because they really mean it or simply because they believe it’s the answer I want to hear. A few laughingly say they’d go for the money, but I’m not sure I believe them either. I figure they’re just trying to be outrageous or different. Only a few reporters ask the key question. The “what breed?” question. “How much money?” they want to know. Those are the ones I worry about the most.

Author Bio:

Excerpt: Yesterday's News by R.G. Belsky
R.G. Belsky is an author of crime fiction and a journalist in New York City. Belsky's crime novels reflect his extensive media background as a top editor at the New York Post, New York Daily News, Star magazine and NBC News. His previous novels include the award-winning Gil Malloy mystery series. YESTERDAY'S NEWS is the first in a new series featuring Clare Carlson, the hard-driving and tenacious news director of an NYC TV station.

Catch Up With R.G. Belsky On:


Open to U.S. addresses only. Void where prohibited.

Excerpt: Yesterday's News by R.G. Belsky

Be a Genuine Writer

Be a Genuine Writer, guest post by R.J. Wood

Be a Genuine Writer, guest post by R.J. Wood
“This above all: To thine own self be true.” A pretty good writer penned those words a little over four hundred years ago. This sentiment rings as true today as it did back then. The words speak to every single one of us (or should) as we traverse along our personal journey. I believe this is especially true for writers. It is my opinion that being genuine with your writing means doing so from the heart, unabashed by fads and/or trends. It means being unafraid to break the rules or try to change them, while respecting or embracing the tried and true. Our job as a writer is to share the human experience, and we do this by sharing a bit of ourselves within our stories and words. Only by sharing your genuine self can the reader truly connect with your story and characters, and through them with you. It is that connection that allows the emotions that each of us instills within our words to resonate back in the person reading them. Do you think Shakespeare believed the quote above? I do. I do indeed.

Expanding on what means to be genuine with your writing could span volumes. I will attempt to hit the highlights for this article. First and foremost, being a genuine writer means writing from the heart. In other words, write the story that is important to you and resonates in your core. I have read about people trying to figure out what the next fad is or jumping on a band wagon because this genre or that is ‘in vogue.’ I see such books on the shelves. I understand that there is a market for ‘come behinds.’ To me, a ‘come behind’ is a book written to cash-in on the popularity of another’s success. They are often rushed, poorly written, and a shadow of the original. A ‘come behind’ may result in a paycheck, but will it fulfill you as an artist? The old-soul in me says: “Nay.” This is not the same thing as genre writing. I hope you understand the difference. Chasing the next fad will only make you late to the party. By the time you arrive with a finished manuscript, the market will have moved on and be all about something else. The world is moving and changing…didn’t you know? The worst part of chasing the fad is this: The fad may not be the most important thing to you. If you write a non-genuine story to chase the fad, I guarantee that readers will see right through you.

The second thing I say to a writer seeking their originality it this: Don’t be afraid of the naysayers. I will use archetypes and tropes as an example. Critics and snobs my turn their nose up at them, but, honestly, readers don’t care about them as long as the writing is good. Worry about you characters being well rounded and telling a great story. The rest falls into place. When people in writing circles decry a trope or archetype, I say this: “Huh, I guess we will never have another medical, police, or legal story because people don’t like repeats. I suppose the next James Bond, Star Wars, and super hero film will fall flat on its face and lose money at the box office. Fantasy writers, you better throw that manuscript away if your book has magic, elves, dwarves, swords or treasure in it. Sci-Fi writers, no more spaceships, laser guns, or aliens.” The truth is that tropes and archetypes do not make writing bad, bad writing makes writing bad. I suppose if J.K. Rowling listened to the trope and archetype naysayers, we would not have Harry Potter, because, well, Tolkien already wrote the wizard with a pointy hat thing. Nope, she embraced the genre along with its archetypes and tropes and created something inspiring and new. She did this because she wrote it from the heart. This above all: To thine own writing be true.

Be a Genuine Writer, guest post by R.J. Wood
R. J. Wood has been creating stories and adventures for others since 1979. A bard at heart, he trained in Drama (BA) and History (MA) while at university. He currently lives near Snoqualmie Falls in Washington State with his wife and children. There he does a little fishing, some adventuring, and of course, his writing.

Like everyone of my generation and beyond I have been heavily influenced by film. I like to think of my books as movies in my mind. I developed my creative writing through fantasy, science fiction, and paranormal RPGs. My degree in drama helps me with story, characters, and especially dialogue. Having an advanced history degree is excellent for plots and characters, but it also helps me with world building.

You can find and contact R.J. Wood here:


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Top Tips for New Writers

Top Tips for New Writers, guest post by Emma Dean

Writing a book is not the hardest part of this job. If you’re writing a book you’re doing it because you love it, and you love telling a story. It’s everything else that you suddenly have to do that’s going to wear on you and make this business of selling books seem so daunting.

Top Tips for New Writers, guest post by Emma Dean
Should you pay for editing? I firmly believe yes, but I also think you could publish your first book yourself and maybe just have someone proofread it, or get some people who are willing to read it for just the copy alone. It’s all about working within your budget and remembering that we are allowed to go back and fix it if we have the money too. I’m doing a relaunch with one of my series right now under a different name and it’s because I have the money too after that series sold.

Fancy covers? Not before you do some research and see what your genre wants and needs. These are just the two main things as well. I don’t have the space to get into the insane amount of details like suddenly you have to be accountant, business manager, marketing department, web designer, and social media manager. But don’t give up, because if this is what you want then I firmly believe you should fight for it.

Then last but not least, there is a luck factor. You can do everything wrong and still succeed. You can do everything right and still fail. The only thing you can control is what’s on your end. Keep writing, keep learning, keep putting books out there, and keep reading. Your chances will be higher the more books you have out and I firmly believe we can learn the rest.

If I could go back and tell myself one thing though – I’d probably tell myself not to waste my time with doing my own covers. I tried that first because I was broke, but I was really, really bad at it. Could probably have been worse, but to me – covers are the first thing someone sees. If you’re going to spend money on anything, let it be a good cover.

Believe in yourself.

Top Tips for New Writers, guest post by Emma Dean
Emma Dean lives and works in California with her husband and son. She loves romance but needed something different so Draga Court was born. With too many stories to write the schedule has been filled through 2018.

When she’s not writing she’s reading, or spending time with her family.
With publishing now at least she has an excuse for not folding the laundry ;)


Top Tips for New Writers, guest post by Emma Dean

Excerpt: Splash by M.E. Rhines

Excerpt: Splash by M.E. Rhines

Title: Splash (Mermaid Royalty #3)
Author: M.E. Rhines 

Published by: Clean Teen Publishing
Publication date: June 12th 2018
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult

Excerpt: Splash by M.E. Rhines
About the book:

Fawna is happy with the new life she has made for herself on land. She has her child and her youngest sister Pauline by her side—plus an amazing new human boyfriend named Randy. So when an old friend from Atargatis shows up, she immediately feels the weight of everything she stands to lose. But the news can’t be ignored – there’s been an attack on their kingdom; her aunt Myrtle is dead and her mother is missing. Angelique, their middle sister, is now ruling a kingdom to the north, leaving Fawna as the only royal left to help save Atargatis. Torn between responsibilities in two different worlds, the decision is made for her when the powerful sea witch who attacked the kingdom also takes Fawna’s son. Now she has no choice—to save her life on dry land, she’ll have to dive back into the ocean…

The final installment in the beloved Mermaid Royalty series, Splash is a heart-pounding fantasy romance that will have you feeling like you need to come up for air!

“It’s not enough, Lennox.  I’m sorry.  Everything else I need I have, just not here.  But, the good news is if she’s fighting past whatever interference has been put up then she has to be close.”
“She’s right,” said a menacing, raspy voice from behind.
All three of us whirled around, immediately alerted to the intruder.  Margaret and Regis floated behind us with their orbs, but the light they let off couldn’t reach deep enough into the corridor to show the face of the woman speaking. 
On the wall to our right, her shadow stretched to the very top, the shape of it cut off and contorted onto the flat ceiling.  The lightshow revealed something on her shoulders slithering, and a quick forked tongue darted out and back in its mouth.
A snake.  I recalled Gilcrest’s vision back in Finfolkaheem.  He spoke of snake, and Angelique immediately connected it to the enemy.
“Admiring Rellik, I see,” she snickered.  “Angelique found him fascinating the first time they met, too.”
“Revolted is probably a more accurate word,” I spat at her, wishing my words would strike her with the venom of the hideous creature she carried around like a fear-inducing trophy.
She threw her head back and cackled.  “He’s a ball python, dear.  He doesn’t have venom.”
“How… how did you—”
“No, he doesn’t take the easy approach to his attack.  Any weak creature can use poison.  He finds it far more entertaining to lie in wait until his victim suspects him the least.  Then, and only then, my dear Princess, does he strike.  Do you know what he does next?”
I didn’t want to play this game.  Squaring my shoulders I said, “Since you killed my mother you may address me as Queen, not Princess.”
“Do you know what he does next, Queen Fawna?  He coils himself around the poor unfortunate who got in his way and squeezes the life out of her until every last bit of life that once shined so bright in her eyes disappears entirely.”
“Quite the informative lecture, Sorceress.  But, what happens when the prey bites back?”


Book 1 - SINK - is currently free!

Excerpt: Splash by M.E. Rhines
About the Author:

ME Rhines a southwest Florida native currently living in North Port with her two beautiful children and a third, much larger child whom she affectionately calls husband.
She writes young adult paranormal romance to feed her belief that fairy tales are real and
nonsense is necessary.

You can visit her on most major social media sites:

She also writes adult romances under her edgier alter-ego, Mary Bernsen.

Author links: 

Excerpt: Splash by M.E. Rhines


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