Adventure In The Woods

Yesterday I surprisingly saw a rainbow and raced to find the end of it. I’m doing this now for many years, and I’m really good at it. I’m fast, in particular. But still, not fast enough. As usually I missed the pot of gold by a nanosecond and stood there, lost.

My sense of orientation only guarantees that I’m not getting lost on my way from the kitchen to the bathroom and that’s why I needed to find ‘something’ to climb on to get at least a halfway decent cell phone reception to call help.

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I was told to walk to the west. After I had safe ground under my feet, I did exactly as I was told – until I realized that either we needed to turn the entire forest about 45 degrees to the left, or the moss on the trees grows on the wrong side.

I was indeed very careful… stumbling across the woods is quite dangerous, in particular when you’re alone, lost and could meet some REALLY lethal creatures, like spiders, ants or the one or other rainworm. I was as well extremely cautious since I didn’t want to end up in some witch oven accidently and made sure I wouldn’t run into a candy house. You never know, right?

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My efforts took me to another challenge… the wild river I had to cross. I was nearly helpless. I mean, how should I ever be able to do this? I’m a weak woman. *sigh*

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At the end finally, I found out of the woods and ended where I started. (At my car, to be precise) With a smile on my face.

I’m sure you might have guessed: I have neither seen witch houses, nor spiders, ants or worms. I wasn’t climbing, and the water I saw was an extraordinarily cute puddle; the only thing running wild was my fantasy, but all in all it was just a beautiful 90 minutes walk through the forest. When did you take the time to do this last time?

Have a wonderful Sunday.

 


 

It’s Writing You’re Worth – Guest Post by JannyC

Writing was not my first career choice. In fact, I avoided the career path like the plague. It was not a logical choice, or so I was told.  Being a writer is a dream.  What if being a writer is a destiny and sometimes there are some destines you cannot escape. Hello nice to meet you. Let me introduce myself I am a writer.

 

The Beginning

To be honest I have been telling stories since I was 4. They were all in my head acted out via Barbie’s, or She-Ra action figures or me with my friends outside on the playground. This made sense for my first step into the writing world was being a comic book script writer. Writing was a destiny I could not escape. I’ve been writing in this business off and on for nearly 8 years. Freelancing writing is the kind of job that is a side job not your main job to pay the bills with. “Writing” was a dream. I almost believed it. I had stopped writing when one day I got an email from a total stranger. They said they missed seeing my work. When was, my book coming out that I had mentioned I was writing? One person even offered me money to help with my writing career (I declined in case you are wondering.). Next day another email from a young girl who said I inspired her to write herself could I read a sample of her book. BAFLING!

 

Jump Starting

I decided to dive back into my writing taking a serious stab at freelancing writing as my career. I found jobs, but they were usually low paying, no recognition, plus they worked you like a mule job. Hey it was a job, right? You had to start at the bottom and you’re your way, up right? Problem was what I didn’t know was I was selling myself way below my worth. Add onto it these jobs were getting me nowhere. I was writing anonymously. I was not getting KNOWN. All the articles I wrote were basically ghostwritten. If I was to show someone my portfolio what did I have to show?

 

Writing You’re Worth

It took the help of my husband to finally convince me I was not writing my worth. I believed since I did not have the prestige like most writers do of going to college my experience did not count. I schooled myself actually learning first-hand the world of authors and publishers. One thing I learned was that when you are passionate about something you instantly possess that thicker layer of skin they talk about. The literary world can be brutal my friend, and the grammar police are very REAL.  I got truly convinced though when I wrote an article for my husband’s boss for his business and he paid $50.00 for my top-notch work. He loved the article saying to my husband his wife was a phenomenal writer. This made me think. Maybe I WAS not writing my worth.  I decided no more taking writing mill jobs. No more charging low prices because I am some little indie writer.

 

Discovering My Worth

So, what happened? I avoided the sent per word pricing. You can say I am at intermediate level so I just went with a flat rate. I do book promotions and each package includes a complementary book review that goes on Amazon and my blog as well as a promotion week of their book. I had 3 packages people could choose from. $10.00 for one book $20. If you had two books and $30. For 3 or more books. I was very cheap, thinking indie authors will love this. I am so affordable! I was only drawing in $30 to $40 bucks at the most. After discovering my worth I raised my prices to $15., $26, $60.  This seemed to draw more peoples interest in me. More orders started coming in. I had one client order $103.66 dollars ‘worth. It seemed I was doing better charging more that I was charging less! I also had the proof to back up my work via my blog and website I created.

 

If you feel like you’re struggling, ask yourself are you writing your worth?


dsc09294About our guest author JannyC:

JannyC is a published author (Writing under the pen name of Jan Marie.) and freelance writer. She currently writes at Indie Promotions where she helps writers and entertainers promote their work. follow her on

Twitter @ReviewerJannyC

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Indiebookpromotions/

Linkined: www.linkedin.com/in/janis-cramlett-a08b3673

How to Simplify and Authentically Grow Your Blog Without Spending Money

Suziespeaks has published an interesting and informative blog post about how to grow your blog. Very helpful in my opinion. Thank you!

Suzie Speaks

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Blogging is now a viable career option and there are endless examples of bloggers who have monetised their site to the point where they can quit their 9-5 job and live the dream.

Consequently, the bloggosphere (blogisphere? blogosphere? There really should be some clarification on this) is filled with ‘Earning Reports’ (which I often ignore), along with a bajillion things that we should all be doing to optimise our traffic and increase engagement to our sites. I apparently need an email list, in which I should offer incentives. I should be part of an Instagram pod or tailwind tribe. I should be self-hosted and have a professionally designed site, I should have paid advertising across all of my social media. I should be building up my social media accounts by following and then unfollowing people.

Nonsense.

No wonder so many bloggers are feeling overwhelmed or disappointed with the fact that…

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Failure, Betrayal & Setbacks—Sometimes the Only Way Out is THROUGH

Kristen Lamb, one of my all time favorite bloggers and writers informs us about Failure, Betrayal & Setbacks. Thank you very much Kristen.

Kristen Lamb's Blog

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Setbacks. We all have them and, strangely, they like to cluster together and dog pile us at once. The trick to setbacks is to adjust our perspective of what happened and use them to to make us stronger, wiser and grittier.

You might not believe me, but instant success is not always good for us. There is something about the process of learning and doing and failing and starting again and again even when we want to give up that is healthy. In fact it is vital for any kind of long-term achievement.

I know because I’ve encountered my share of people who were promoted too soon, beyond the scope of their abilities and far past the strength of their character. And it ended badly every…single…time.

Growth is a Process

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All human growth is a process. It has steps. We skip steps at our own peril. Everything we are doing…

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Author Spotlight – Allan Hudson

allan_hudson_color2Welcome!

 

Please introduce yourself. 

Thank you so much for hosting me on your blog Aurora. It’s an honor to be included in your Writer’s Treasure Chest. My name is Allan Hudson and I live on the east coast of Canada in the province of New Brunswick. My home is in a small village called Cocagne and is situated across the road from the Northumberland Strait. I’m fortunate to have a loving, supportive family and consider myself a very lucky man.

 

  1. When did you start writing? 

Like many avid readers, I always felt there were stories I’d like to tell. I participated in a creative writing course at our local trade school, an eight week evening class, many years ago hoping to kick start my desire to get those ideas down on paper but more important things occupied my time. It was only after I discovered that my favorite author, Bryce Courtenay, started writing when he was 56 years old. He went on to write 20 best sellers before he died last year. That was eight years ago and was the inspiration for my own writing. I knew then that I needed to sit and get started. I was 55.

 

 

  1. What motivates you to write? 

I’ve come to realize that wanting to get the stories out of my head and onto paper is what motivated me to write but as time passes, it is for the sheer joy of writing, of getting lost in the world of my characters. When I sit and write, the story is all I think about, hoping that somewhere, someone will enjoy reading the story as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it. I also get inspiration from my surroundings, the east coast of Canada where there are fabulous sunrises and sunsets on the waters near my home and the people in my life.

 

 

  1. What genre do you write in and what made you chose this particular genre? 

I have two favorite genres, action/adventure and historical fiction. As a reader I’ve been drawn to action novels from such authors as Dennis LeHane, Harlan Coben, Peter May and Chuck Bowie to name a few of my favorites. These types of stories are ones I enjoy writing. My first novel, Dark Side of a Promise, is an action/adventure novel as is my second, Wall of War.

I equally enjoy historical fiction such as Bryce Courtenay, Edward Rutherford, James Michener and Beth Powning. I very much like novels that begin early in time and carry the reader along in the growth and development of the main characters, as well as their surroundings, while teaching me about the past. My WIP is such a story.

 

 

  1. What is your goal in writing? Do you have dreams where your writing should take you? 

At present my goal is to write as often as I while I maintain a full time career to pay the bills. I look forward to retirement soon when I can spend more time near a keyboard. I’ve dreamt so long of holding a book I wrote in my hands and with my first novel and subsequent short story collections, I’ve done that. My second novel is presently at the editors and will be self-published. My goal with my WIP is to have it traditionally published.

 

  1. Do you ever suffer from writer’s block and if yes, how do you deal with it? 

I must admit, that writer’s block has never been a real issue for me. There are times when I stare at the cursor on the computer screen and wonder where I’m going next and the words seem to stall. I usually walk away from the screen, maybe even turn it off. Sometime I only need a few moments to stop thinking about the story or maybe a day or two but that is the extent of any type of block I experience.

 

 

  1. What advice would you like to give new, hopeful authors? 

I’m still a new, hopeful author myself so I’m not sure if my advice is sound. I feel that the best strategy is to write. Write as often as possible, get the story down on paper. Find a few beta readers you can trust, polish your work the best you can. Get professional services like editing and cover design. Turn to your fellow authors, like this friendly blog, and share, share, share. Discover other authors, comment and review their books so that they will be happy to help you along.

 

  1. Please, tell us about your work.  

In my action series, my main character is Drake Alexander. I am fascinated by foreign cultures and try to share my own wonder of travel through my novels. Dark Side of a Promise takes the readers from the shores of Canada to the young country of Bangladesh and around the world. The second novel in the series is called Wall of War and like Dark Side of a Promise, is an international thriller. It takes place mainly in Peru. At present it is being edited and I hope to publish this summer.

 

My WIP, my third novel, is a history of his family beginning in 1911 with his grandfather who lives in Scotland and eventually immigrates to Canada. It is a different genre from my earlier action/adventure stories but will explain the history of the Alexander family in a format similar to the historical authors I’ve mentioned above. My own work history is diversified by having dual careers in the jewellery industry and construction.  My central character in The Alexanders will be involved in similar businesses with the up and downs of beginning in a new country. There is much tragedy in his earlier years but the will to overcome and succeed is the theme of this new series.

 

I love short stories as well and always have several on the go. My short story, The Ship Breakers, received Honourable Mention in The WFNB short story contest and was picked up by Ryerson Hill-McGraw to be part of their iLit digital series available to high school teachers across North America as part of their curriculum. I have three collections published simply called SHORTS, Vol 1,2 & 3. Each are dedicated to one of my grandchildren.

 

I have published the beginning of a new detective serial on a separate page on my blog (South Branch Scribbler) and will be adding to it at regular intervals featuring Detective Josephine (Jo) Naylor. It is titled The Shattered Figurine. 

 

 

Thank you for being my guest. It was such a pleasure to have you here!!

  

__________________________________________________________________

 Contact Allan Hudson: 

 

www.southbranchscribbler.ca

 

https://www.facebook.com/southbranchscribbler/

 

https://twitter.com/hudson_allan

 

https://plus.google.com/u/0/+allanhudson1953

 

https://www.wattpad.com/user/allanhudson

 


wall-of-war4Allan Hudson Books:

 

https://www.amazon.com/Allan-Hudson/e/B00HP8FSEI/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1485787317&sr=1-1

 

 

 

 

 

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Featured Author – Interview – The return of Don Massenzio

don_massenzio_author_picWelcome back!

 

You were a guest on ‘Writer’s Treasure Chest’ before, where we learned about writing in your life and your projects.

 

Let’s see what you can tell us today: 

 

 

 

  1. Are you still writing in the same genre as you did before, and if not, why did you switch – or would you ever think to change genres?  

Interestingly enough, a couple of months before last year’s interview, I had released a terrorist thriller Blood Orange which, after writing three detective mystery novels, was a change in genre. I have since released another two detective mysteries, but I am writing a follow-up to that thriller as readers seemed to like the main character and his team. It will, however, crossover into the universe of my detective novels.

 

  1. Please, tell us a little about your writing process. 

It’s chaotic. I work full-time in a 50-60 hour per week consulting job that has me traveling 45 weeks per year. I’m not a good hotel sleeper so I spend much of my travel and insomnia time writing. I write whenever I have free moments. This makes continuity a challenge sometimes, especially because I’m not a traditional outliner. But, hey, I was able to publish three books last year, so it works for me.

 

  1. What is important to know for young, new authors and writers? 

Great question. My advice would, just do it. My eight-year-old came to one of my book signings and said she wanted to write a book someday. With my help, she published her first children’s book a couple of months ago, and now she has the fever to do it again. If my writing accomplishes nothing else, I’m truly happy.

 

  1. Your experience in the writing world, do you think it has already taken you where you wanted to go? 

Writing takes me away from the real world and that is exactly where I want to go occasionally. In terms of success, I’m happy with where my sales place on Amazon for the moment. Would I like to take it to a higher level of success? Of course. I don’t know many authors that wouldn’t, but I am content when I look at my bookcase and see my name on a book.

 

  1. In your opinion, are you a writer or an author – and what is the difference for you? 

I am both. A Writer puts word on the page. An author lets other people read those words.

 

  1. Please, tell us about your projects again. Was there progress since the last interview or are there even completely new projects? 

I have published two more books in my Frank Rozzani detective series since the last interview on your blog. I have a follow-up to Blood Orange written and going through the polishing stage and ideas for more ‘Frank’ books on the way. There will always be new projects until I run out of time to complete them.

 

Thank you for being my guest. It was such a pleasure to have you here!! 

 

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Contact Don:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authordonmassenzio/

Twitter: @dmassenzio

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Don-Massenzio/e/B00JJVN0UI/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

Blog: http://donmassenzio.wordpress.com

Web Site: www.donmassenzio.com

 


Don Massenzio Books:

(click on the cover to be linked to the book page to get more information and buy it. Thank you)

 

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Author Spotlight – Phillip T. Stephens

pts-portraitWelcome! 

Glad to be here.

 

  1. When did you start writing?

The first story I remember writing was a parody of Miles Standish for a fifth-grade assignment. It went over well enough to encourage me to finish the parody of the entire book. I was inspired by a stage-based spoof of Gun Smoke called Pistol Mist that my dad wrote for the church youth group. He repeated it at every church he ministered so it had a great impression on me.

The long version was terrible, which taught me some projects have a limited span. Before that, however, I wrote comedy sketches for my tape recorder and tried to convince my sisters and friends to perform.

No one cooperated.

I wrote seriously in high school, including a novel (75 pages). My creative writing teacher hated everything I wrote. She wanted flowery prose sprinkled liberally with Latinate words. I preferred a Hemingway style—shorter, Anglo-Saxon words and direct sentences. (She also heaped praise on her son, who was in my class, as a model for our writing.)

I began to read writers like Anthony Burgess, Terry Southern, Philip Roth, John Fowles and John Le Carré. I reread Catch-22, which I first read in eighth grade (it took the entire summer). The second reading convinced me my writing was juvenile, so I threw it away.  I didn’t discover I could write well until I took my first college creative writing class.

 

  1. What motivates you to write?

I can’t not write. I write daily, whether it be a series of posts for a Twitter novel, a blog post, or articles for Medium. Perhaps as a child no one paid the attention I wanted so I knew I could preserve my thoughts on paper for a time they would. Perhaps, like the Hebrew prophets I’m compelled to speak and writing is my platform. I know I never wrote to be cool or admired because when I first shared my writing, I received little positive feedback. Most of my friends thought it was stupid.

I might go a day every two or three weeks where I finally say, rest. But it’s hard.

 

  1. What genre do you write in and what made you chose this particular genre? 

I call my genre “wry noir.” Dark novels with a sardonic twist. My first published novel, Raising Hell, was a dark fantasy novel about an optimist who drives Lucifer crazy, (as was the follow up novella, The Worst Noel). My second, Cigerets, Guns & Beer, was a Western mystery/suspense novel. Ironically, my latest novel Seeing Jesus is a light-hearted YA novel (although bullying by adults and peers is a major theme).

I know not settling on a genre hurts my brand marketing. Wit and wry observation defines my brand, which is much harder to market. But I read every genre growing up, and personally enjoy writing in several.

 

  1. What is your goal in writing? Do you have dreams where your writing should take you?
  • I want to create intelligent books that any reader will enjoy.

 

  • I want to change readers’ perceptions of the world in some small way: to help them recognize that the world is not about us and it never was. Because of this we have a responsibility to leave something of value in this world and not take from it.

 

  • I also hope to help them recognize that other people don’t see the world in the same way that we do, they process information differently, form different values. We’re responsible for our own actions and not for theirs.

 

I was raised a Baptist Preacher’s Kid and everyone expected me to follow my father, grandfather and every uncle into the ministry. Fooled them. I took one message from my faith—Life is about service, not self-fulfillment, a message that seems sorely lacking in Christianity (not to mention the current political climate). I wouldn’t write if I didn’t think my writing served the world at large in some small way.

In grad school, studying literature, art and philosophy, the reigning aesthetic theory proclaimed, “Art for art’s sake.” I still adhere to that, especially given the current beliefs that art should be profit-making and reflect a narrowly-defined set of values. I also believe artists share a responsibility to make our work transformative. Our art should stand on its own; our vocation requires us to put our work in the larger frame of cultural revolution.

 

  1. Do you ever suffer from writer’s block and if yes, how do you deal with it?

Not really, although I will confess to procrastination. When I sit down to write, even if it’s two in the morning, I write. My first college fiction teacher John Vandezande (who wrote the book Night Driving, now out of print) said to write anything, no matter how bad. Start at the middle of your story, the end, at whatever point you can put words on paper.

I agree. You can fix bad prose. You can’t fix what isn’t written. Write paragraphs stream-of-conscience, outline, jot down notes and impressions. Anything to get your thoughts moving through the pipe. This is the only advice I ever give writers that I believe will benefit everyone.

I’ve thrown away entire chapters, sometimes as many as three or four. I stopped novels after ten or twelve chapters. I never thought they were failures. They got me to the chapters I needed and I wouldn’t have written the books I finished without them.

 

  1. What advice would you like to give new, hopeful authors?

Most writers never make a living writing fiction. (Few make a living selling books at all.) You need to seriously evaluate the role of writing in your life. If you want to write for self-fulfillment, recognize that, but be honest about your talent. If you don’t spend your free time thinking about your work, how to improve your work and studying other writers to see how they make their art, you probably aren’t ready to be a professional.

If, however, you’re determined to sell your work to the world, show your work to writers and readers who won’t pat you on the back and say, “this is good.” Find readers who will find the flaws and recommend improvement.

When you think you’re ready to publish, hire an editor and proofreader.

Most of all, don’t blindly follow the advice of every blog post. Most advice contradicts a blog posted the week before. Good writers take any number of approaches to writing—some from the seat of their pants, others with outlines and notes; some write 500-2000 words a day no matter the circumstances, others try to find a quiet space to concentrate when time permits; some write rough drafts by hand, others word process everything. Explore different approaches until you find techniques that work and stick to them. It’s okay to try something new, but if it doesn’t work for you, don’t trade it for something that works on that writer’s say so.

 

  1. Please, tell us about your work.  

I just finished a Twitter Novel, Doublemint Gumshoe (which I’m still Tweeting #TweetNovel), about a hapless, hopeless detective who stumbles onto a missing persons case that’s way over his head. I wanted the challenge of composing a story 144 characters at a time. When the last Tweet is posted, it will run more than 800 installments. I may rewrite it and re-release it as a real novel. I haven’t decided yet.

My biggest seller (which is like saying the biggest ant in the hill)—Cigerets, Guns & Beer—features an ex-con whose car breaks down in a small Texas town and ends up neck deep in the fallout from a thirty-year-old bank heist and murder. To make the novel more fun, I threw in a UFO and back story that connects the murder to Roswell.

During the seventies and early eighties, gas stations would sell Texas drivers beer from oil barrels next to the pump. They’d pack the barrels with ice, singles and six-packs. Drivers fill their tanks, grabbed their six-pack and popped a top as soon as they hit the highway. I joked to a friend that all we needed was guns and we’d hit the Texas Holy Trinity.* That line planted the seed for the novel. I’d been kicking around the idea of a stranger and thirty-year-old crime since grad school but couldn’t find an angle into the story that I liked.

I lived Raising Hell. I escaped from the worst job in the world, with a micromanager from hell, only to walk into a situation with four different managers with four competing agendas and every one expecting me to jump to their beck and call in a second.

From that came the idea of an optimist sent to hell by accident and Lucifer trying to find a way to destroy his optimism. Unfortunately, the hero, Pilgrim, believes that he’s already in hell so it can’t get any worse. He might as well make his punishment the most enjoyable form of eternal damnation that he can.

An agent suggested I write Seeing Jesus. We spent some time discussing my desire to write a non-fiction book about the way metaphoric thinking unconsciously drives our belief systems. She recommended that I read Gaarder’s Sophie’s World, and write something similar. (She rejected it, of course.) In the novel Sara Love learns to cope with bullying by adults and children through lessons provided by a homeless man no one else can see.

I plan to release an extended adult version this year, with a different ending, appendices and discussion questions.

 

Thank you for being my guest. It was such a pleasure to have you here!! 

How could I resist? Sharing on a great blog like this? I’d be a fool not to.

*Readers have just witnessed the joy of fiction writing. I’ve shared this anecdote dozens of times, but I just now made up the line, “Texas Holy Trinity.” I intend to use it with the anecdote from here on out, but that’s what all fiction writers should do—strive to improve your story at every opportunity.


Contact Phillip T. Stephens:

 

Twitter: @stephens_pt

cigeret-coverPhillip T. Stephens’ books:
on kindle
Cigerets, Guns & Beer http://amzn.to/1QG7t4m
The Worst Noel http://amzn.to/239NCNF
paperback
Cigerets, Guns & Beer https://t.co/7kTafuZEGp
The Worst Noel http://bit.ly/1mmJQAn
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Doublemint Gumshoe #TweetNovel

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Seeing Jesus also recently won three Human Relations Indie Book Awards

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Phillip T. Stephens will be one of the writers featured at this month’s #MysteryThrillerWeek, this month Feb. 12-17. Join him and others for advice, blogs, networking, reviews and links to hundreds of novels.