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Saturday, August 17, 2013

Adverbs & Clichés in a Nutshell by Jessica Bell


Writers constantly have rules thrown at them left, right, and center. Show, don’t tell! Stop using so many dialogue tags! More sensory detail! More tension! Speed up the pace! Yada yada yada ... it can become overwhelming, yes? I used to feel overwhelmed by it all too. In fact, I still do sometimes. It’s hard enough to get the words on the page, let alone consider how to put them there.

My own struggles have led me to write this series of pocket-sized writing guides. So you can learn to hone your craft in bite-sized, manageable pieces. But please keep in mind, their purpose is to inspire you to become better at your craft. To teach you how to grow as a writer. They will not tell you how to write. They will not preach writing rules and styles to you. But they will help you realize that you can, little by little, end up with a work of fiction as unique as your own soul (whether you regard your soul as a spiritual entity, or nobility of temperament, in this context it is one and the same).

I like to think of a writer’s “voice” as the soul of their imagination. If you stay true to your soul, you will produce unique fiction. There is no doubt about it. Because everyone has his or her own soul. No other soul in this world will ever possess the exact same qualities as yours. So when you are seeking writing advice, always take into account that the advice is coming from writers with their own unique souls, too. Be inspired by them. Feel motivated. But do not feel the need to be like them. Trying to write like somebody else is (bar writing exercises), in my opinion, the biggest disservice you can do for your work.

In the first book of the Writing in a Nutshell Series, I focused on demonstrating how to transition “telling” into “showing.” In this book, I deal with another of the most common criticisms aspiring writers face: to absolutely avoid adverbs and clichés like the plague. But see, right now, I just used one of each. And at the beginning of the Introduction, I used a few too. Because they come naturally, and we frequently utilize them in everyday speech. But in fiction, too many adverbs and clichés weaken your prose. It’s considered “lazy writing,” because it means we don’t have to show what’s happening.

If your manuscript has too many adverbs and clichés, it most likely means that the emotion you felt while writing it is not going to translate to the reader in the same way. Never underestimate the weakness of adverbs and clichés. You’d be surprised how vivid your writing will become once they are subverted.

Sure, clichés exist because they stem from things many of us experience in real life, and you may argue that they are “relatable,” so why not use them? But the way in which one experiences things isn’t always the same. As writers, it’s your duty to make readers experience your story from a unique point of view. Your point of view.

Before we go into details about how adverbs and clichés weaken prose, and how you can subvert them, first you need to understand that they aren’t always going to be a problem. In fact, you don’t need to go overboard trying to eliminate every single adverb and cliché in your manuscript. Because sometimes, they just work. They serve a purpose. Especially in dialogue. Of course, it also depends a lot on your character’s voice.

For example, sometimes it’s more concise to write, “She lightly knocked on the door.” Not every single action needs to be poetic and unique. Sometimes you need to write exactly what someone is doing because it’s not important enough to draw attention to. Also, if we just wrote, “She knocked on the door,” we’d have no idea whether it was loud or not. And if this action wasn’t all that significant, it would be a bit too wordy to say something like, “She knocked on the door as if her hand were as light as a feather.” (Look, cliché again, they creep in so easily, don’t they?)

But consider this: What if this person’s light knocking on the door was paramount to the story? What if it was a moment of suspense? What if behind that door was a man this person was afraid of? What if this person was anticipating being verbally abused for the interruption? Then this ‘lightly knocking on the door’ would have a significant purpose, yes?

The action of lightly knocking on that door is no longer a simple transitional action that moves the character from A to B. It is in your manuscript for a reason. You put it there for your readers to feel the same apprehension your character feels. And no adverb or cliché, as you can see, is going to draw attention to that moment of intensity like something crafted for it exclusively.

So let’s try our hand at making this moment pop. How about, “She tapped on the door. It echoed in her ears like an axe to a carcass.”

So how does this better convey its intended sentiment? I’d say the fact that this person perceives their tap on the door as a deep, echoing, and unpleasant sound means that they are anxious about the reaction it is going to elicit. Also note that I’ve chosen the verb (tap) which means “a light knock,” so there is no reason for me to use the adverb “lightly.”

So how exactly can we approach the subversion of adverbs and clichés? For starters, play around with similes and metaphors when you’re trying to convey emotion, and for action, use strong verbs to show it happening in real time. For example, instead of using something clichéd like “the streets were so quiet you could hear a pin drop,” find a small detail to zoom in on that shows how quiet the streets are. Put a lonely-looking man kicking rubbish down an abandoned street, perhaps. Have him drag his feet. Perhaps the sound can be heard from two blocks away where your narrator is waiting for a bus that never arrives.

Most of the time, if you think of the small details, rather than the bigger picture, you’ll avoid adverbs and clichés naturally. And remember to be experimental. You never know what you might come up with.

By analyzing the thirty-four subversions of adverbs and clichés in this book, I hope you will be inspired to transform the mundane and overused expressions in your work into gourmet imagery. I suggest you read each set of examples four times. The first time, in its entirety, to grasp the general feel of the examples. Notice how flat the examples using the adverbs and clichés sound compared to the unique examples. The second time around, try to identify which elements in the unique examples match the basic sentiments of the adverbs and clichés presented in the other examples. The third time, identify how the unique example conveys, and/or adds to, those sentiments. And the fourth, brainstorm your own way of subverting the examples that use the adverbs and clichés. Remember, do not try to write like me. Just be yourself. Close the book. Close your eyes. Immerse yourself in the situation.

I have left plenty of space throughout the book for you to try your hand at your own unique examples. I’ve also provided a few short writing prompts at the very end. Please don’t feel ashamed to write in this book. It’s what it’s made for.

Happy subverting!







scream like a hyena

snail’s pace

splitting headache

traffic jam

Using adverbs:

I slowly move through the chaotic traffic, my daughter screaming loudly in the back seat. My head is throbbing relentlessly. It feels like it’s going to crack open.

Using clichés:

My daughter and I are stuck in a traffic jam, and it’s giving me a splitting headache. The cars are moving at a snail’s pace, and my daughter is screaming like a hyena.

Unique example:

The sharp shrill of car horns and my daughter’s wails pierce through my head like ice picks, doing nothing to help lessen my grip on the steering wheel, while we inch along in grueling traffic.

Go to Contents.

Go to Index of Adverbs.

Go to Index of Clichés.





old habits die hard

Using adverb:

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Genre – NonFiction

Rating – G

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Website http://www.jessicabellauthor.com/

Author Interview – J.L. Lawson

Where do you get your inspiration from?
From a condition of life, that while our societies, to some extent, and most definitely our technologies have evolved exponentially over the last few millennia, the individual, and resultant collective, evolution of our inner worlds haven’t moved forward even the barest distance by comparison. It is the individual who must perforce begin the personal change. Only then will our collective inner revolution gain the necessary traction to propel us in the directions of the ideals set forth in the allegorical Future Histories as presented in the Donkey and the Wall trilogy, The Elf series and The Curious Voyages of the Anna Virginia Saga. That’s inspiring stuff. If I can even in some small way contribute to that traction, my life is worthwhile.
What is hardest – getting published, writing or marketing?
Since I started writing rather late in life, relatively speaking, and not before the advent of the internet, P.O.D. and other such media, getting published has become a simple matter of formatting one’s materials properly, choosing a reliable and efficient printer and bam, you’ve got a book published. But that’s not the end of it by any stretch—unless one is content to merely have one’s own shelves populated with one’s own books and have no exposure or audience beyond that.
It’s the marketing of published work that creates the greatest challenges and forces the most attention and creativity an author can muster. There are now an over-abundance of resources and advice out there. I am writing this now, because I am part of Orangeberry Book Tours and they have connections I didn’t. I have contracted with Substance Books for other branding and marketing efforts for the long haul. In the end, a writer has to make informed decisions and never let loose of her/his pursestrings all too easily for un-researched, un-validated, un-verified marketing avenues constantly bombarding email portals with wildly fantastic claims for success.
Do you plan to publish more books?
I wasn’t going to answer this question with anything more than a resolute: Yeah! But thinking about it seriously, I am in the midst of The Elf series at present, The Elf & Niederwald is its working title, so there will be perhaps a dozen of those before I’m done with them—-each is only a couple hundred pages; the first three I wrote in nearly as many weeks earlier this year… Then life decided I’d had too much time simply writing and brought other urgent activities my way. Let’s see, where was I? Oh. I would like to think that once my readership gets beyond the few hundred it is at these early stages of release, I’d be amenable to responding to specific suggestions or requests for expanding certain characters’ lives adventures, etc. Or even continuing the Saga beyond the seventh generation of Livingsons—that actually does appeal to me to some degree. I post on the Voyager Press blog rather regularly—that’s a kind of publishing, and actually a little more difficult than composing a novel; to be so succinct and brief is a rare gift and always a challenge.
So Yeah, I plan to publish more books.
What other jobs have you had in your life?
That’s a funny story. Usually I’m asked what haven’t I done. I haven’t been a doctor, lawyer, policeman, firefighter, air traffic-controller or lion tamer; so not picking a childhood notion didn’t happen. While at University, I worked as kitchen clean-up and assistant at a few local eateries, took training in Ikebana and landed a relatively long term gig with a start-up florist near my home. I worked in delivery for them as well as for a Scandinavian furniture store—very high end—and also moonlighted, literally, as a night auditor for a respectable motel on the interstate at the edge of Austin. My first job out of college with a double major in History and English Lit, with a double minor in Greek (Koine: the dead language) and Roman Culture—I apprenticed to paint cars in a Body Shop. Really no kidding. I went back to college for an Associate degree in Land Planning (Architecture would’ve taken too many years and I already had a family to take care of).
I worked as a draftsman then Associate Land Planner for several years with the same company and was very happy there. Until my parents talked me into relocating to California and heading up a manufacturing venture my crazy Uncle Al had gotten off the ground. I was a Plant Manager for all of six months before no paychecks and hunger drove me to the Bay area and Silicon Valley. I worked as a research gofer for the Research & Development arm of the top hard drive manufacturer of the time. I contracted with a major Aerospace corporation after an interlude of early mornings throwing papers pursuant to being left jobless during hard times for the hard drive company. When the economy went south, again, I and 40,000 other white collar folks found ourselves jobless again. I headed back to Texas.
I picked up contract writing and illustration jobs with the young an newly booming hi-tech companies then flooding into Austin. (Dell computer’s first ‘campus’ was just outside the back door of our building where I went for smoke breaks.) Anyway, those contracts led to permanent positions and before I knew it I was back in the thick of the corporate world once more. One thing led to another and I ended up with a severance from IBM—don’t ask—and a solid nest egg of a retirement account. My wife, second, and I relocated to north Texas. I designed a system of ponds on these fourteen acres, had foundations built overlooking the largest of them, and proceeded to build our house from my own plans. Really. I plumbed, wired, erected the walls, the roof the gardens, everything, with erstwhile help from friends and the occasional contractor for things I couldn’t get permits for myself: Septic fields, transformer installations, etc.
Than I went on a substitute teaching assignment at a little private school in a nearby town—where one of my neighbors was at that time teaching. The few days requested turned into an entire semester and a half… then ten years later I was still there, the only Literature and Composition teacher for a whole high school. I graduated hundreds of great students over the years… and some who weren’t such great students, I just loved them anyway. Then came the overlord once more into my life—the Economy—and I settled down at my laptop and started storytelling. That was about three years ago.
Now I’m sitting here chatting it up with ya’ll. What a great job!

The Elf & Huntress
The Elf & Huntress is the beginning of a long and winding trail from power to obscurity, from infamy to glory for a naïve lass from the highlands. On a simple off-planet assignment she’s dragged screaming into an underworld she couldn’t have fathomed existed. A scarred and liberated prisoner, she rises to become the feared Captain of the Lascorii Secret Services, avenging nemesis of the vilest pirate plaguing the worlds underwritten by the Seranath Trade Guild, with a hand-picked crew—and one diminutive, rather officious Seranim Guild Agent who learns for herself that Wish is the most powerful thing in the Universe…
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Genre - Science Fiction/Metaphysical/Adventure
Rating – G
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Friday, August 16, 2013

Sojourners in Shadow by Steven Beeho

Our Saviour

The rocky terrain slowly disappeared and soft earth took its place. Not much, but enough to support life. The damage from the past had not reached here, perhaps due to the arc of mountains that formed about it. Whatever it was, the wilderness was behind and prospects were ahead: supplies, communities, information.

Straker stopped and looked about him, wary of threats, also looking for life. He wasn’t sure what type of being he would come across, but he was confident in himself; there wasn’t anything he couldn’t evade, outsmart or overcome. Even so, he took his automatic rifle from his shoulder and checked it over. Hardly his weapon of choice, old and troublesome, but he had carried out enough repairs on it to know it would do its job. He checked his ammunition in his backpack as well; three more magazines, plus only two grenades - he would have to try to get more if possible. He had a long knife strapped to a thigh and a small one tucked in a boot, plus he could kill with his hands, yet some problems needed an explosion to solve.

He continued his purposeful stride. Tall, muscular, but not bulky; he was a sculpted figure on the landscape. His hands were rough and his face was grim. His green eyes flicked about as he walked. He hoped he met humans or mutants here; he could pass for either, although in time the former would probably detect his superior abilities. Even so, as long as he was brief and careful, he could get what he needed and be gone before suspicion arose. As for mutants, they would revere him or possibly hate him on sight; some were jealous of perfection.

Sounds came to his sharp ears and he dropped, smoothly and suddenly, lying on the grass with his rifle ready. Then beings appeared, not too far away, climbing out of the ground, looking up and around before hurrying in one direction. Straker stayed still, watching, as over twenty figures stopped at a patch of upturned earth and rooted through it. Straker had already noticed a number of such patches about the area. There were also trees and bushes. Some individuals broke off to a nearby cluster where sacks were being filled. It was clear what was happening, but the sense of urgency was mysterious.

Then there was panic as the group heard a whirling noise. Straker had already heard it and seen the dots in the sky when they could not, but they seemed to know what these were and ran for their safety. The fleers were of all shapes and sizes, several moved awkwardly; Straker knew they were mutants and so rose.

“Quick, get in,” he urged, running for the hole in the ground himself, using the situation to gain entrance. They reeled in surprise but never stopped running. He aimed his weapon skyward. “I’ll cover you, hurry up.” The flying objects were closing in. Straker had never seen the like, but the mutants had and fled underground, the last closing the hatch, disguising the way.

“Who are you?” someone asked Straker, who had slipped in with the last few, not giving them a chance to shut him out. “Are you a human?”

“No, he’s a super-soldier,” another, a middle-aged woman, replied for him.

“How do you know that?” asked Straker calmly.

“You look too good to be human.”

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Genre – Post- Apocalypse Sci-Fi

Rating – PG13

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Steps Into Darkness (A Shakertown Adventure) by Ben Woodard

Steps into Darkness

Explosions, sabotage, caves, deadly warnings and a dangerous red-haired man.

Imagine The Hardy Boys meet Tom Sawyer. Add a layer of teen angst and excitement plus a mysterious group trying to stop a new dam while stirring up racial tensions.

That’s STEPS INTO DARKNESS, the next book in the Shakertown Adventure Series by Ben Woodard.

Fourteen-year-old Tom Wallace again makes plans to escape the small town in the 1923 Kentucky countryside. The town that won’t let him forget his past, when a horrific event changes his mind. He teams with his cousin Will and young FBI agent Rick Sweeney to try to solve a perplexing mystery. Attempts on the boys’ lives and a bewildering list of suspects keep them on edge and confused. An old man gives them a clue that leads to a false accusation and embarrassment until they discover the real villain, and then wish they hadn’t.

STEPS INTO DARKNESS is a fun, page-turning thriller with a hint of romance that explores the fears of a teen who is living with a frightful memory and the racial mores of the day.

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Genre – Young Adult Mystery

Rating – PG13

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Website http://www.BooksByBen.com

Author Interview – Justin Blaney

Who is your favorite author?

Ken Follett is one author I can count on for a good tale, but I have a hard time naming a favorite. I enjoyed both of Patrick Rothfuss’s first two books. I really liked Karen Miller’s The Innocent Mage and The Awakened Mage. In children’s literature I love almost all of Mo Willems’ work.

What book genre of books do you adore?

I don’t use the word adore very much, but I like thrillers and young adult fantasy quite a bit. I don’t know if this is a book genre, but I really enjoy psychological thriller movies like The Game with Michael Douglas and Fight Club.

What book should everybody read at least once?

In their lifetime everyone should read Dr. Seuss’s Oh, the Places You’ll Go.

Are there any books you really don’t enjoy?

I have a hard time with books written in a language other than English since I don’t really understand what’s going on.

What do you hope your obituary will say about you?

I hope that my obituary will convey that I was known for caring about people, living generously, and that I left behind a legacy of children and grandchildren who are known for the same. And that I drank a lot of coffee, but it didn’t kill me.

Evan Burl

My father abandoned me when I was an infant.
My friends have turned against me.
My uncle beats me.
The most powerful men in the world want me dead.
They all have one thing in common.
They think I’m turning into a monster.

I’m starting to worry they’re right.

Genre - Young Adult

Rating – PG

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Connect with Justin Blaney on his website

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Dark Corners by Theresa Ann Curnow

Dark Corners

I see them everywhere, in the shadows and from the corner of my eye and in the dark corners of the house. I try to be deathly quiet and not stare at them because I don’t want to see their faces any more than I have to. I’m scared that if I look too long at them, they will show me even worse images that will render me insane. They have terrible stretched, elongated grins and dead soulless eyes and an aura of complete emptiness about them that gouges my heart with desolation and makes me want to retch.

Sometimes they crouch in the shadows of doorways; sometimes I see them in passing cars, the shape of them black and fleeting, pressing against the glass, their mouths open in a frozen scream. They exist everywhere, in places that you don’t want to look and places that you can’t help but look. I often see them in the windows of shops, of houses, and I turn away quickly, my mouth tasting of ash and my heart bouncing around my chest like a prisoner trying to escape.

They exist mostly in dark corners though. They seem to like the darkness. They embrace it, and more than once I have seen the whites of those terrible dead eyes. I have the feeling that if I reach into that darkness I will become a part of it. It will creep up my flesh like goose bumps, like black viscous oil; devouring me until I am one of them, until I too crouch in dark corners and watch people like a voracious animal. They have a strange smell that only I seem to notice as I walk past them; like the ozone and wet coats and damp hair; like mothballs and old age and rotting weeds. It makes me gag all the time and when I do this in the street, people stare at me, their lips curling in barely disguised disgust.

I used to have a job, a girlfriend, friends, family and a decent life, but that is all gone now. People tend to evade you when you start to act strange, when you stare into corners and places at things others can’t see. At first they humour you. My best friend told me jokingly I needed to go to Spec Savers after I asked him if he could see the shadow in the corner of my living room. But then they become slightly irritated and perturbed. They have no idea what it is you’re talking about. They become slightly fearful because it’s not something that they understand or even want to think about, this apparent shift and descent into insanity, and so eventually they just stop taking your calls or coming to visit. They bury their guilt at abandoning you and carry on with their lives, and you’re left to unravel, to try not to stare at the corners of the rooms.

I used to be a writer. Sometimes, I was good and on occasion I was great but a lot of the time, I had to drag the words out painfully and then stick them onto the page, hoping that they made enough sense to earn me a pay-cheque each month. I used to write for a paranormal magazine in which I had a column called ‘Ghost of the Week’ and I wrote a short story each month too. But all that has changed now. Since all this started I haven’t been able to work, to write a single thing. Every time I try, I feel them watching me and my fingers stutter to a fearful halt like paralysed crabs.

In the very beginning I used to think that they only existed in my home but I soon realised that wasn’t true. They are literally everywhere and I can’t quite understand how more people don’t see them. I see people going about their daily lives - laughing, talking, walking, shopping and driving. They have cell phones clamped to their ears and children in their arms and shopping bags in their hands and dogs on leashes. They appear so normal. I long to go back to that, when all I had to worry about was how to pay the bills and whether I would ever make a name as a writer. People think I’m crazy now. They stare at me in the same way that I used to stare at those sorts of people who talk to themselves in the street. I know that I’m not crazy although I sometimes wish I was. I wish that I could wallow in the comforting cradle of insanity.

I’m not sure what t

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Genre – Supernatural

Rating – PG13

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Website http://teri-ann.weebly.com/index.html

hey are. At first, I thought they were ghosts but that idea was soon extinguished. They are like no ghosts I’ve ever heard of. Although I’ve never actually seen a ghost, I am fairly certain that they don’t hang around in the shadows and fixate their gaze on me like the eyes from a painting of Dante’s Inferno and I’m fairly sure that when they grin, they don’t have mouths like dark wide cracks filled with teeth that look like black needles.

It all started just after my latest bout of writer’s block. I had been trying desperately for weeks to come up with a decent story for the magazine with little results, and then a friend suggested hypnosis. I had a few sessions and the block began to lift and my creativity began to bubble and flow like a fast moving brook. Ideas and plots and characters began to rush into my brain all at once so that my head was crammed full. I wrote for hours on end, the many words too fast for my fingertips, the cursor flying across the computer screen. I wrote until my fingers cramped and my eyes drooped and vision blurred. In a week, I had written eighty thousand words and my mind was buzzing as if I had plugged it into an electric socket. That was when I saw something from the corner of my eye; a fleeting shadow, darting and fluid. I turned and caught the last vestiges of it, of its blurred, hellish face. I thought at first that I was hallucinating through lack of sleep and too much coffee, but over the days and weeks I kept seeing the shadows. I thought that insanity was picking at me, that my mind was abandoning me in the worst way possible, only I knew deep down that I was sane. I imagined that it was the house which was haunted, but that notion was destroyed when on venturing outside I saw them in the streets, loitering in doorways like ghostly dark tramps. The first time I just stopped and gazed at the doorway, mouth agape, heart pounding as the ebony shadow faded from view as though it had dragged a darker curtain across itself.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Bullied: Why You Feel Bad Inside and What to Do About It by Katherine Mayfield


This new book by award-winning author Katherine Mayfield is a guide to recovery from bullying and abuse for teens and adults. Learn how to use emotional intelligence skills to let go of your fear, sadness, depression, and anger, and discover how to create a more fulfilling and happy life.

“Katherine Mayfield covers both the bullies in the home and the bullies at school with clarity, empathy, and sincerity. She gives real practical advice of the kind that only one who has survived and transcended the experience is able to give. This is the ideal book for a young person or a supportive parent to read.” – Matt Posner, New York City teacher and co-author of Teen Guide to Sex and Relationships.

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Genre - Self Help/Abuse/Bullying

Rating – G

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Website http://www.katherine-mayfield.com/bullied.html

Author Interview - Katherine Mayfield

How did you develop your writing? I started with journal writing, which allows a writer to be totally free to put into words whatever is springing forth from inside, and over the years I took a number of workshops at a wonderful writers’ studio in Florence, Massachusetts called Writers in Progress.  I’ve also had my first drafts critiqued, which means they’re read by a professional editor, and comments come back to show the writer what needs work.  The first editor I worked with in this way taught me incredible stuff about how to write. Then I wrote and wrote and wrote, and rewrote and rewrote and rewrote.

I can’t remember who, but some famous writer once said, “You have to write a million words before you become a good writer.”  I think that’s absolutely true.

What do you hope people will take away from your writing? How will your words make them feel? After one of my presentations on emotional abuse and its tendency to hide behind closed doors in dysfunctional families, a young woman came up to me and said quietly, “I didn’t know this happened to anyone else!”  I said to myself, “That’s exactly why I wrote the book:  to let people know that they were not alone in their misery and confusion.”  I hope that my words will validate others’ experiences and show the truth that is under the façade in families and in our society.  Sometimes I feel like the little boy who said, “The Emperor isn’t wearing any clothes!”

If you could do any job in the world what would you do? Write.

What are you most passionate about? What gets you fired up? The idea that most people have so many repressed feelings that they’re not really living their lives; the “shadow” of those repressed feelings is running their lives instead.  Most people don’t live according to their inner voice – they base their lives on a regime that’s left over from childhood, which is always somebody else’s beliefs about life.

What makes you angry? Child abuse, emotional abuse, domestic violence, school violence – because I feel that these issues could be eliminated if our society allowed people a safe way to express their emotions without judgment, so abusers could express their feelings openly instead of having to dump their anger on innocent people.  This has totally been the basis of my own journey of healing:  to find out what I’m feeling, what I stuffed down for fifty years, and to express it without judging myself or dumping it on others.

How do you work through self-doubts and fear? I keep asking myself what I’m really afraid of until I figure out the root issue, which is usually something related to childhood, and then I ask myself, is that really true now?  If it’s not, I try to put it behind me.  If it is, I try to figure out a solution to the problem that’s causing the fear.  Over the years, I’ve done enough therapy that I don’t have so many issues any more with self-doubt, but when I do, I remind myself that I handle life pretty well:  there are groceries in the house, I live in a fairly nice place, people enjoy my company, etc.

I’ve had to learn how to shout down those inner critic voices – there were so many of them left over from my childhood.  For awhile, I would just say, “Shut up!” and I tried ignoring them.  But they’re very powerful.  Lately I’ve been saying to them, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.”  So far that’s working pretty well.

How do you think people perceive writers? This is a great question!  There’s a really interesting split between writers like Stephen King and Danielle Steele – those writers who have made it to the top of their field – and the public view of “most other writers,” which is often that they are disorganized, sloppy, maybe even somewhat mentally ill people who just want to sit around all day and write instead of working.
I have two problems with that:  one is that writing – really good writing – is one of the hardest kinds of “work” in the world, because it takes real dedication; and the other is that the middle is left out of that continuum in the public view.  There are many writers who aren’t household names yet who put out excellent work and are absolutely worthy of the designation “excellent writer.”  I hope one day that the contribution writers make will finally be recognized.  Without writers, there would be no books, no magazines or newspapers, and really, no internet.

How do you feel about self-publishing? I published my first two books with a traditional publisher, and the most recent ones were self-published.  Although self-publishing is an incredible amount of work, I prefer it because I have control over the finished product, the cover, the pricing, and how the book is marketed.  Traditional publishers are useful for getting the word out about the book when it’s first published, but if it doesn’t make the bestseller list in like two weeks, they don’t promote it anymore, and the marketing is left up to the writer anyway.

Plus, you only get about 5% of the net royalties if you publish with a traditional publisher, which often comes out to somewhere around 72 cents a book, whereas if you calculate carefully, you can make several dollars per book by self-publishing, even if you price it less than the traditional publisher would.  All they’re interested in anyway now is authors who are already household words.  They won’t have anything to do with new or even mid-market writers – they want writers who already have a platform.

Who is your publisher? I work with a great publisher in Maine, Maine Authors Publishing.  They’ve developed a co-op style of self-publishing that works really well for authors, and they’re very knowledgeable and reasonably priced.  Plus, I’ve met them, and I like them all very much – it’s not just a contact-by-email process with people I’ll never meet.

What is your favorite quote, by whom, and why? “The body never lies” is my favorite quote by Alice Miller, and I like it because it tells us exactly where we will find the truth of our lives, and the truth about who we are.

How has your upbringing influenced your writing? My childhood is the grist for my writer’s mill.  The need to tell the secrets that we hid in my family, and to give and receive validation for a story that many of us experienced, has definitely been one of the primary driving forces in my writing.

Have you ever had writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it? I rarely have writer’s block, but I’d like to offer some tips for overcoming it.  Often, it means a writer is afraid to tell (or face) the truth; sometimes there’s a voice in the writer’s head saying, “It’s not good enough!”; sometimes we’re worried what people will think.  In my mind, the best remedy is to search for “writing prompts” online, pick one or two, and write wildly and quickly about whatever comes to mind without judging or editing – just throw the words on the paper – then take out your project and work on it.

You have to get rid of the “inner critic” when you’re writing.  The inner critic only comes in handy, I think, when you’re rewriting or editing your work.  Another cause of writer’s block is that your writing is moving to a new level, and you’re just not quite there yet – a philosophy that I read in a great book by Dennis Palumbo, Writing from the Inside Out.

What are your goals as a writer? My goal is to become self-sufficient as a writer, so my income comes through my writing – then I could spend the bulk of my time and energy on writing and publishing my books.  At the moment, I earn a large portion of my income from editing and manuscript critique, which I have a lot of experience in and I enjoy, but I feel I am “falling behind” in my writing:  too many project ideas and not enough time to fulfill them.

What books have most influenced your life? Books by Alice Miller, like For Your Own Good and John Bradshaw, Healing the Shame that Binds You – and innumerable other books on living authentically and healing from trauma.  I also love the wild inspiration of Martha Beck’s books, especially Finding Your Own North Star.

Do you have any advice for writers? Becoming successful will probably take about three to ten times as much time as you think it will.  There are somewhere around 200,000 books being published every year now, so it doesn’t really work to just put a book up on Amazon and wait for the readers to roll in, unless you have about 300,000 loyal Twitter followers.  You need to be emotionally and mentally prepared for the fact that it’s going to take a long, long time, and probably many published books, before you reach the success you envision.  There are exceptions, but they are very, very rare.

And write for yourself – write what you want to write, and how you want to write it.  That’s what will keep your passion going.  And for goshsakes, be sure to have a professional editor edit your work before you publish it!  Many otherwise good books are abandoned by readers after the first few pages because there are too many typos, misspelled words, grammar issues, and ineffective sentences.  Also, if you’re going to publish a book, do several weeks of pre-pub marketing to build “buzz” and interest in the book before you publish it.  Generally, the higher your Amazon rankings are in the first few days, the better the book will do.

If you could leave your readers with one bit of wisdom, what would you want it to be? Live for yourself.  Follow your heart and your inner voice, the one that tells you what you’re meant to do in this life, instead of the one that tells you what you “should” do.  Don’t ever listen to what others tell you you should do; find that information within or in relationship to whatever Higher Power you believe in.  Everyone has a special and unique gift, and the only one who can uncover yours is you.  Have as much compassion for yourself as you do for others – life is hard, it can be a struggle, especially as a writer, and we need to treat ourselves gently to bring our gifts out in the best possible way.

When you wish to end your career, stop writing, and look back on your life, what thoughts would you like to have? I really can’t imagine stopping writing, but if I did, here’s what I’d like to think:  that I wrote and published work that I totally believed in, work that came from my heart and soul as an expression of the Divine Creative Force, work that helped other people and helped to expand awareness in the world.  And I sure would like to think how grateful I am that I was finally able to make my living from writing.

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Genre - Self Help/Abuse/Bullying
Rating – G
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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Our Little Secrets (Montana Romance) by Merry Farmer

Our Little Secrets

Chapter One

Charlotte was out of her seat before the train came to a full stop.  She’d had it with the beast.  Thirty-two days of nearly constant travel was more than enough for a woman on her own to withstand.  Especially in present company.

“Ooo!” one of the painted, preening girls packed in the train car squealed.  She knelt on her seat to look out the window as the tiny town of Cold Springs, Montana rolled into sight. “Look at all the men!”

With a roll of her eyes Charlotte grabbed her carpetbag and started for the door. She pushed past the seats full of trollops who leaned out the train’s windows waving handkerchiefs and their bosoms at passersby in the frontier town, eager to get away from them and on with her life.

“Where do you think you’re going, dear?” Miss Helen, their ring-leader, hopped up to follow her.  “The train hasn’t even stopped yet.”

Charlotte ignored the woman.  She’d fallen in with Miss Helen’s lot in Denver, figuring there would be safety in numbers.  It had seemed like a good idea at the time; a good idea she had paid for in the last week as Miss Helen tried to recruit her as a husband-hunter.

Charlotte reached for the door at the end of the car and threw it open as the brakes squealed. The train lurched to a stop.  The jolt sent her and Miss Helen both stumbling out toward the guard-rail at the back of the train.  Charlotte held her hat on with one hand and fumbled her carpetbag with the other.

“Easy there.” Miss Helen’s rouged lips parted in a smile.  “You don’t want them to think you’re too desperate.”

“I’m fine, thanks.” Charlotte did her best to be polite.  The woman had no idea what desperate was.

Miss Helen nodded to her carpetbag.  “Want me to hold that while you-”

“No thanks.”

The station porter stepped forward to offer the passengers a hand down from the train and Charlotte took it.  Once her feet were on solid ground she scurried to get out of the way of the storm of females that were ready to pour from the car.

“Well hello Cold Springs!” Miss Helen trilled over the heads of the curious onlookers, flashing into action. “My name is Miss Helen and have I got a treat for you!  Gentlemen, gather round!”

Miss Helen in her maroon and pink petticoats floated down the train’s steps, as audacious as any queen.  Her painted face and startling red curls only just covered her true age.  When she reached the platform she turned to gesture to the parade of ladies that followed her.

Charlotte took cover in the shadow of the station-house with a wince. A crowd was already gathering.  She had more important things to do than watch the spectacle yet again.

“Gentlemen of Cold Springs, let me introduce you to the finest and most cultured ladies this side of the Mississippi.” Miss Helen spoke above the din of the station in a voice that must have been trained on the stage.  “Fair young maidens come all the way from St. Louis to the frontier with the expressed purpose of making a few of you the happiest men alive.”

One by one the silly girls stepped down into the morning sunlight as if they too were on stage, stifling fake yawns and batting their eyelashes at the growing assembly.

“What, are they whores ‘r sumthin’?” The blunt question was followed by a chorus of rough laughter.

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Genre – Western Historical Romance

Rating – R

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Website http://merryfarmer.net/

Finding Claire Fletcher by Lisa Regan


I still saw her sometimes—the girl I used to be. She lived behind a locked door in my mind. The door that protected the last secret part of me. The last bastion I had that no one else could infiltrate or overcome. It was locked so securely that no one but me could force or tease it open.

Behind the door, the girl stood on the street corner waiting to cross, shielding her eyes from the sun with one slender hand. She was in the tenth grade and she was on her way to school. She had a backpack slung over her left shoulder. She wore jeans and a yellow cotton shirt.

Behind the door in my mind, I liked leaving the girl suspended on the street corner for as long as I could. Sometimes I just watched her stand there, shielding her eyes, vaguely aware of the cars whizzing by in front of her. She had a slight smile on her face. I wanted her to stay right there on the street corner forever, frozen in her peaceful beauty and teenaged innocence.

But she couldn’t stay there forever, not even behind the secret locked door in my mind. Eventually she crossed the street, walked the 30 feet or so… In my mind, however, she didn’t stop when she saw the man crouched next to his car, neck craning to peer beneath it, the backseat door hanging open next to him. In my mind, she kept walking.

She never knelt down beside him to look beneath the car as he did, attempting to coax an imaginary but frightened kitten from beneath it. In my mind, the man didn’t smash her head off the doorjamb and stuff her stunned, slack body unceremoniously into the backseat. These things never happened to the girl I used to be behind the locked, secret door in my mind.

I envisioned two alternatives for that girl. One was that she stood on the corner, shielding her eyes with one hand, and when she stepped off the curb into the street, certain that the way was clear, she was crushed by an oncoming truck and killed instantly. There she lay in the street, limbs twisted and bent at odd angles, her thick red blood congealing on the pale asphalt. Her eyes were fixed upward, blank, unknowing. I liked this scenario because it did not involve the man who unmade her and took everything pure away from her.

The second alternative was that she did not cross the street. She decided to turn left instead of crossing and she avoided the man altogether. And so she went on with her life. She knew nothing of the abject horror she avoided. She was still innocent in that way.

This girl from scenario two lived a parallel life. I imagined that she was out there, still living my life. She went to her proms and high school graduation. She had a boyfriend and went off to college. The very second I thought about her, she was out there living the life I was supposed to live.

Maybe she was making plans to get married or have a child with someone. I liked to think of her that way, as if she still existed in some other dimension. I liked to think that someday I’d run into her and see in her face that in spite of what I’ve been through, the girl I used to be is all innocence and light.

That when she smiles, it’s beautiful and not broken.

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Genre – Psychological Thriller / Crime Fiction

Rating – R

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Website http://www.lisaregan.com/

Monday, August 12, 2013

The Critical Flaw by Alan P. Chan, Pharm. D

Chapter 1 – Money’s Fractured Foundations

Reserve Banking and Interest Creation During Money Generation

"At the end, fiat money returns to its inner value - zero."

- Voltaire, French writer

Most of us have used money all of our lives, but have rarely stopped to think about what money really is. Because economic theory is sometimes difficult to understand, many people do not take the time to find out more about our currency and the best ways to earn it, keep it, and grow it. Whether your economics-phobia came from a bad teacher in elementary school, a boring college class, or a disdain of the wonky terms and learning curve when you're an economic padawan, chances are that if you're living and working in our complex society today, you already have all of the skills and abilities needed. The first step is to understand what money is and how it is used by banks and corporations:   "A History of Economics and Investing" short course is in order.

What is money? Money is created when a loan is obtained, and it should be extinguished when the loan is repaid. Banks issue only a fraction of their deposits, but cumulative lending and borrowing create an illusion of more money being available than there actually is. Furthermore, the interest charged on loans ensures that the money supply has to expand continuously if all loans are to be repaid with interest.

With expansion of money or growth of the economy, prices rise as the increased supply of money erodes its purchasing power. As this cycle continues, the percentage of interest-to-inflation increases at the cost of real increase in production and productivity. This makes defaults and economic slowdowns inevitable.

The American foreclosure crisis shifted the control of collateral to banks. This system of money generation ensures a steady shift in wealth from the productive sector to the financial sector. Concentration of wealth and power in the hands of those who create and lend money – the banks and the government – causes the economy, society, and the civilization to decline.

History shows us that in the long run, when greed consumes everything, everybody loses. Most forecasters agree that what is needed to avoid an across-the-board loss is the responsible and shared use of resources, elimination of the concept of interest, and stabilization of the unit that is used to measure the value of goods and services.

The rate of this paradigm shift has increased dramatically with the recent creation of central banks and the government's fiscal intervention. In the meantime, the only safe and profitable investment to this shift has been gold and silver. They have risen in value as accounts based on the dollar have continued to fall.

A Quick Introduction to Monetary Systems

A monetary system is a system in which a government issues currency that is accepted as a medium of exchange in a particular country-economy or in the whole world, and creates mechanisms employed by a government or a group of governments to control and manage it. It typically consists of a central bank at the apex. Mints and other commercial banks are the other pieces in this apparatus.

The international monetary system is the institutional mechanism that determines the exchange rate among different currencies, facilitates international payments, and accommodates the movement of capital across international borders. This system developed with globalization – the increasing connectivity between different regions of the world wherein events in one part of the world produce consequences elsewhere.

Traditionally, coins made from precious metals such as gold and silver were widely used. These coins have a value of their own and continue to possess this value, even if they are not currently used for common purchases. Because gold and silver coins are quite difficult to carry, their use made buying and selling a difficult process.

Out of this difficulty emerged paper currency. The notes and coins do not have a value of their own, but are, nevertheless, used because they are easy to carry around – making buying and selling easier – and, most importantly, because they are a mutually acceptable medium of exchange.

Differences between Money, Currency, and Wealth

Money, currency, and wealth all seem the same to the casual observer and hobby economist. There are, however, subtle differences in these concepts, as well as the terms of the economy, economics, and finance. While some of these terms are very different, all are inherently connected.

An economy refers to all of the institutional mechanisms directly and indirectly related to production, distribution, exchange, and consumption of goods and services. Economics is the study of these institutional mechanisms. Finance involves all of the transactions that are conducted for obtaining and repaying loans.

Wealth is anything generally considered valuable in an economic system. Fundamentally and historically, it can be created only through the processing of natural resources by human labor. Wealth can be traded through purchases or sales with barter, the exchange of currency, and through the creation of money.

Currency is the concentrated form of wealth used for trading. We understand currency in the form of coins and paper notes, such as the American dollar, the euro, and pound sterling.

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Genre – Business & Investing

Rating – PG

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Sunday, August 11, 2013

Do Not Go Quietly by George Cappannelli

The Beginning

“Everything has to do with loving and not loving.”

~ Rumi ~

Breakdown or Breakthrough

We are entering a time of demographic revolution that will, over the next several decades, result in a large number — some say half of our population — being 50 years of age or older for the first time in history. Although this revolution is still in its early stages, it is clear from the conversations and conflicts being acted out in the chambers of government and in the boardrooms of our institutions and corporations that this “graying” of the world’s population is ushering in a time of unprecedented social, political, cultural, economic, technological, and environmental change for all of us who are passengers on this train called Humanity and especially for those of us who are older GenXers, Boomers, and Elders. And this, as they say, is only the beginning.

Couple this reality with the fact that many governments, institutions, and businesses at all levels and in all parts of the world, as well as the vast majority of us — and even the organizations that are supposed to advocate for us — are unprepared for the substantial challenges and unprecedented opportunities that lie ahead. Only then does one begin to understand that this confluence of factors represents either a recipe for disaster or fertile ground for a historic breakthrough.

Do Not Go Quietly weighs in on the side of those who believe that the time ahead will provide the fertile ground for breakthrough. It advances the proposition that many of us who are older GenXers (40 to 45), Boomers (46 to 64), and Elders (65+) not only have the opportunity but the time, resources, talent, and experience. And all of us have the need to revisit the values and priorities that have guided our individual lives. Through such an essential and periodic reassessment and in other important ways, we can contribute our wisdom and experience to help steer the ship of state onto a course that promises greater well-being, environmental sustainability, social responsibility, and financial stability for ourselves and those who come after us.

So if you fall within one of these demographic categories and are interested in living more consciously and aging wisely you are, as they say, on the right page at the right time.

If you are under 40 and want to better prepare for your own road ahead — as well as to better understand the road your parents, older friends, and relatives may now be on — then you have also come to the right place.

If you want to use the time you have remaining — whether years or decades — to make right your relationship with yourself and with others, if you want to connect with greater meaning, passion, and joy and, in the process, contribute to a more positive and compassionate future, then Do Not Go Quietly is a good book for you.

We have written Do Not Go Quietly to remind all of us to use this precious gift of our lives to harvest the fruits of our past and turn them into gold that we can invest in the present and future. For only by living in each present moment with greater mindfulness can we fulfill the dreams we have come here to manifest.

Yes, we have written this book because we believe that no matter what religious beliefs or political philosophies we hold, what economic strata we belong to, what our educational background may be, or what we do or have done in the world to earn our daily bread, when we come to the end of our lives none of this will matter as much as the knowledge that we alone will hold in our hearts as to whether we have done our best to use our time, skills, heart, and resources to lead a life of genuine value and contribute to the “Common Wealth.”

Here at the outset, we want to be clear that Do Not Go Quietly is not one of those candy-coated self-help books full of pithy sound bites, designed to appeal to everyone without disturbing anyone. As we — and a number of others “who weren’t born yesterday” — already know, genuine transformation is not possible without experiencing some bumps and disturbances on the road. In fact, in our experience, without these bumps many of us would not learn the essential things we have come to Life to learn.

So you will not find “The 10 Effortless Steps to Easy Street” between these covers. Nor will you find promises of easy wealth, continual happiness, good health, the perfect waistline, and a no-cost timeshare on Maui without having to get up off the couch and work up a little sweat. So if you still believe in free rides or a life free of challenges, this is probably not your book.

Instead, Do Not Go Quietly is for those who understand that a life of genuine quality and accomplishment is most possible if we remember Helen Keller’s good advice — “life is either a daring adventure or nothing.”

Do Not Go Quietly is also for those of us who recognize that we may not have always done as good a job as we could have — as individuals, parents, friends, colleagues, leaders, lovers, and stewards of our planet. But now, with the wisdom of experience and the gift of hindsight, we still have time to do some things — both large and small — to change some of that and to leave behind a legacy that makes a positive difference in the lives of our loved ones and the larger community.

So if you believe, like we do, that you are never too old or too young to learn what you do not know, and if you find value in stories about people who have accomplished things of genuine value—particularly if you are open to being surprised that many of these people did these things when they were in their 50s and, in some cases, in their 60s, 70s, 80s and even 90s—then please join us for what we hope will be a journey that reminds you that it’s never too late to live your dreams.

If you are open to digging a little deeper into some of the larger questions that lie at the heart of life’s mysteries and exploring alternative life strategies, if you have unfinished dreams and new territories you want to explore and are interested in opening your heart even wider so that Life can have its way with you, then welcome to Do Not Go Quietly.

While we can’t promise you those “10 Effortless Steps to Easy Street,” we can promise to help you remember how remarkable you are, what extraordinary things you are still capable of expressing in this lifetime, and how much joy and satisfaction this expression will bring to you and to others.

In Part One, we will identify and explore some of the challenges and opportunities we face — individually and collectively — as a result of the graying of the world’s population. As you will see, we also issue you an invitation to do one of the most important things you can do to inherit your individual dreams and contribute to the world around you.

In Part Two you will have the opportunity to explore some concepts, questions, and recommendations we believe can help you better prepare for the road ahead.

In Part Three you will have a chance to review your past, revisit some of your beliefs and basic values, and harvest some of your valuable experiences and wisdom and turn them into real gold that you can invest in living the life you were born to live in the present and future.

In Part Four you can experience the freedom that comes from learning to put down some of the burdens of the past and avoid worrying about the future so you can live more joyfully and successfully in each present moment.

And in Part Five you can take some important steps in envisioning and mapping a future that is brighter, more engaging, and more extraordinary than you can currently imagine. For as they say, “the best is yet to come.”

Finally, throughout the book, you are given encouragement, support, and inspiration. Life Inspirations are short, motivational stories about people who demonstrate some of the best principles of conscious living. Each chapter also concludes with a section that has some Life Rules, Life Achievements, and Life Tools that will provide you with some prompts and some practical techniques to create greater balance along with enhanced physical, emotional, and mental well-being.

At the back of book, you will find a description and link to P.E.P., the valuable and restorative Portable Energy Process that Sedena has created. Originally we included some of her easy-to-do, powerful processes in the pages of this book, but realized that it would be much more helpful to you if, rather than reading them, you could follow her as she demonstrates and leads you through them. So if you would like to give your body the same kind of attention you will give your mind, emotions, and spirit as you take this journey you may want to turn to the back page or go to www.donotgoquietlythebook.com and arrange to get your copy of P.E.P.

One final note: In his inspiring work, The Book of Awakening, poet and author Mark Nepo has this to say about turning the dross of our lives into gold:

But it is too late for me, you might say, I am already full-grown. Not so, for in the world of our inwardness, we are always growing…. We can return and begin again by facing ourselves. In this way, we can go below our hardened ways to the soft impulses that birth them. Instead of breaking the bone of our stubbornness, we can nourish the marrow of our feeling unheard.… Instead of counting the scars from being hurt in the world, we can find and re-kiss the very spot in our soul where we began to withhold our trust.

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Genre – Non-Fiction / Motivational

Rating – PG

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Connect with George Cappannelli on Facebook & Twitter

Website http://donotgoquietlythebook.com/