Thursday, May 28, 2015

Be Nice to Your Editor

We all have one, or should. This editor weeds out the bad stuff, helps us gather in the good stuff, and pretty much keeps us on track when it comes to misspelled, awkward and run-on sentences. But do we really have a clear idea what that means?

As an editor myself I have run into various stresses - dilemmas if you will - that challenge my mind and heart, keep me groping for the wall and wondering what the writer could be thinking.

I like editing, but I prefer writing. And I like an author who does what he or she is asked to do in the beginning stages of working through a manuscript, instead of holding off until the proof is out.

Still, this difficulty may be just as much my fault as it is theirs.

Communication is a grand key that opens doors; without it, both sides (within or without the door) are always guessing, always wondering what they should really be doing. So I've learned a lot from situations like this. I've learned that I must be clear about what I want the writer to check before the book goes into the proof stage. I must be much, much clearer than mud.

And this takes practice as well as patience. So when I say, "Be nice to your editor," I'm also saying to the editors, "Be nice to your writer," because as any writer knows, it takes tremendous courage to get those words out in the first place.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

What It's Like Being a Christian Writer

As I sat down to write this post this morning the idea of being a writer as well as a Christian came to me. And when I say a Christian writer, I'm not just talking about writing Christian oriented books. I'm talking about writing other books, remembering I'm still a Christian.

As a Christian I hope to produce books that anyone can read - or almost anyone, not including children (I haven't published a picture book yet) and this means I must take care not only on the language I use but on the scenes that go into my book and the characters I portray.

Sometimes this is tough, especially when I'm writing mystery. There are scenes in my books that if seen on film would be rated PG-13, but I tone them down quite a bit in writing, though hints are there that something is terribly wrong. I have characters in my book who murder, take drugs, have a less than ordinary lifestyle (one was a lady of the night) and plenty of bad guys who steal and drink to excess. What I don't have are blatant and specifically drawn out scenes that show every conceivable move made.

Being a Christian, I'd like to think that the life I live (though less than perfect) focuses more on the good things over the evil things; though evil or a bit of opposition is necessary in every good book. I'd like to think that a great story can be told without language I wouldn't personally use on a given day, and that the secrets and habits of others whether good or bad can be shown tastefully - even artfully, without having to resort to crudeness.

Less is sometimes more, and I'd like to think the best books out there give the reader more inspiration and less of the alternative. 

What do you think?

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Summer Writing

Summer writing this year will be taking a different course. Usually I spend quite a bit of time writing, but this year my grandchildren from Texas will be making their way over to spend the summer with us.

Writing (for the most part) will just have to wait.

I see myself spending most of my waking hours going to the park, snuggling on the couch, or making many visits to the local fun places. I guess you could say that come June 7, I will be spending most of my time making memories for future use in a book I may not have even dreamed up yet.

And I think it's safe to say that I will be okay with that - besides, I still have my mentoring sessions with authors, and, believe it or not, a book to get ready for a September release.

So, wish me luck, and please, PLEASE, let me know if I can schedule you for an author or character interview (or both) for September.

Happy Writing!


Monday, May 25, 2015

Author and Character Interviews for the Summer

I wanted to let you know that author and character interviews on my blog will be slowing down for the summer. What that means for you is that you have ample opportunity to submit your information to be a part of the author and character interviews beginning again in September.

Author and character interviews are a great way to reach your readers. These interviews allow your readers to learn a little more about you and about your characters in a way that just reading your books won't.

So I encourage you to take part beginning in September. Just shoot me an email at:, and tell me you're interested.

Keep in mind that I try to post author and character interviews with no more than a PG-13 rating. 

Thanks, and have a great Memorial Day!

Friday, May 22, 2015

FRIDAY FLICKS: Scrambled and Sunny Side-Up

I will be at Eagle Mountain tomorrow for a book signing. Other vendors selling beauty products, jewelry and more!

Come and see me!

DATE: May 23

TIME: 9 a.m. - 3 p.m.

PLACE: 3535 Ranches Parkway in Eagle Mountain. Find us right in front of Great Clips!

Watch these trailers!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015


Tell me a about yourself. What got you started in writing?

Hi, I’m James C. Duckett. By day I work with technology but by night I put words on paper—unless I’m out fighting crime. I live in St. George Utah with my beautiful wife, son, and dog.

I started writing when I was seven. My 2nd grade teacher told us to write and illustrate a story. It was horrendous, but I fell in love with the process of creating new worlds.

How and where do you write? Do you prefer a lap top or do you prefer writing freehand?

I have been trying to answer this first question forever. I've tried everywhere in the house and everywhere I would sit for a few hours on end would put me in a lot of back pain. I recently picked up a recliner to help me recover from surgery. I haven’t been able to put in any marathon writing sessions, but recuperating in that chair hasn't destroyed my back. I have high hopes I've finally found a place I can crank out some serious wordage.

My first book, written in high school, was written long-hand. I did like that, but I have fallen in love with the backspace key. Also, I type much faster than I can write. Ability to read it afterwards is a bonus, too. Now everything is written from my trusty laptop.

What's your favorite part about writing? Your least favorite part about writing?

Creating the story. Coming up with ideas. Worldbuilding. I just like working with all the new stuff. I’m okay with the editing until I get around my tenth draft and I can’t stand to re-read a word of it anymore (please tell me that is normal!). I’m not the biggest fan of marketing because I don't like writing messages that sound like, “I’m so cool and so is my book. Send money. Thanks!”

Even though I am pretty cool. And so is my book. ;)

How do you come up with your characters? Why would readers want to get to know them?

Other than my memoirs, they usually just pop in and surprise me. In a recent story I had character who was really nice, funny, easy going, supporting, and interesting. Her interactions where so flat and boring, so on a whim I re-wrote her first appearance with a critical, older lady who would rather die than give somebody a warm smile. I liked how she made things happen, which is what I needed in my book. I kept her. It just worked. I go by the general rule that if I’m bored by the characters, my readers will be too. I hope I have interesting characters.

What types of marketing do you do to promote your writing?

I told my Mom to tell everybody she knows that she liked my book. Just kidding!! (Mostly) I’m horrible at marketing. It might be a self-esteem issue. It might be a lack-of-time issue. It is certainly my biggest weak spot. No, no… it’s my biggest work in progress. How’s that?

How do you schedule your writing time? When do you write?

I get most of my writing at insane hours in the morning. I’ll bust out some words at night too, but often the planets need to fall into a certain alignment before I can do that.

What are you currently working on? Do you have a new book out?

I have two new books out!

First is my memoir called Pushing the Wall. In it, I tell my whimsical story of how I ran my first marathon without training. While it does focus on running, I’m noticing more and more that it is really a book about following your dreams—even if you have to take unconventional
routes in order to do so.

Get the book here

I also have a romance out called Undercover Lover. It is part of the Sweet and Sassy anthology. Most people think I’m joking when I say I wrote a romance, but hey, I loved it 
and plan to write more.
Get the book at Amazon

I’m answering your question out of order because one of the things I’m working on is a sequel to Pushing the Wall. I’m working on another memoir and a young adult fantasy.

Do you have a project on the back burner? Tell me about it.

So. Many. PROJECTS!!

Yes. I have more ideas than time to convert them to stories. I keep a file of ideas to consider. It’s pretty large. I have a few pet projects I’d like to get to. I’m a big fan of time travel stories, and I think coming up with the right time travel story (I've got a few ideas) will be my dream project.

What would you tell a beginning writer who wants to publish but doesn't believe he/she has enough talent?

You don’t, just give up now.

However, if you were upset that I just said that, then that means you've got passion. And if you've got passion backed by persistence, patience, ambition, and drive, then I’d put my money on you finding success. Just don’t ever give up.


Thanks James! 

Learn more about James and his writing projects here:

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Paying it Forward as a Writer

As a writer there are plenty of opportunities to pay it forward. Consider how you felt when you first started writing, before your first article sold or your first book. How did you feel about yourself as a writer? Did you feel as if you were merely 'faking everyone out'?

I know I did.

I constantly thought, "What if they figure out that I'm really not a writer? That I have no idea what
I'm doing?"

Amazingly, I still have some of those thoughts even now - but this is usually when I get a poor review or my mind is so clogged with daily routine that nothing comes to my mind to write.

Paying it forward as a writer is important. Someone was there for you and now you can be there for someone else.

Some of my greatest happiness comes when I serve other writers - especially beginning writers. That's why I:

Do free speaking engagements
Do book signings
Teach writing through my mentoring classes
Offer occasional workshops for the writer
Answer telephone calls and speak to writers who have questions
Do an occasional book review for another writer
Write guest blogs for other site without compensation
Run a contest
and more.

Suffice it to say that because I know how many writers think and feel about writing including their insecurities and fears, I know what I can do to assist, and ease the journey a bit.

What can you do?

Monday, May 18, 2015

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Jon Thompson author of Revelation

Tell me a about yourself. What got you started in writing?

Winning! In middle school, I won a grade-level writing contest, and I was hooked. The story went on to lose at the district level, but I never forgot the thrill of seeing my story and my name up on the bulletin board.

How and where do you write? Do you prefer a lap top or do you prefer writing freehand?

C - I write primarily on a desk top computer with a full-size keyboard, owing to clumsy fingers and sloppy eye-hand coordination. I also write on an Alphasmart, an instant on keyboard with a small LCD screen. Alphy as I call it is especially useful when I wake up with an idea that I have to get down now, or it will be gone, and so I write in the dark with my eyes closed. About the only time I write with pen and paper is in groups and when I am out and about and a thought hits me, then I record it on one of many ever present notebooks I carry. Some people worry about their clothes matching, I worry about which notebook will fit into the pocket of what I’m wearing. You will often see me wearing a vest, it has big pockets.

What's your favorite part about writing? Your least favorite part about writing?

My favorite part is having complete control over my stories and my characters…What? Oh... My favorite part is how I have some control over where the story begins, and how the characters seem to come alive and direct the middle and end.

My least favorite part is when my fingers stumble across the keyboard and every other word is misspelled. Then it seems as though half of my time is spent hitting the backspace button and going back to change them, to some close proximity of a real word so at least I can figure out what I meant to write when I come back to edit.

How do you come up with your characters? Why would readers want to get to know them?

Some of the people in my stories are created intentionally from an amalgamation of people I have known. Some are fantasy people I wish I knew, and others are people with traits that I think it would be interesting to know. Then there are those whom I am disgusted at the thought of knowing. Still others float in from somewhere else and pop up in my writing.

Get the book at Amazon

Wallen in my book, Revelation, was a pop-in. He wasn't planned, and he kind of pushed his way in. Since he is a lot bigger than I am, he stayed. I grew to like him despite his intrusion, and he is now a main character.

I hope readers will want to get to know the people in my stories because they are like your neighbors and friends… With a twist. A person you would go have ice cream with, take in a ball game, and have no idea they were only figments of my imagination, and may not be quite human.

What types of marketing do you do to promote your writing?

I promote on my personal and author facebook pages, I maintain a writer’s blog, I conduc giveaways on Goodreads, countdowns on Amazon Kindle, speak to groups, and attend book fairs. And thanks to Kathryn Jones, this blog’s author, I have added video trailers to my marketing mix. :)

How do you schedule your writing time? When do you write?

I have a timer that counts down or up. I set my writing time based on how much time I have available. And I am constantly working to get better at keeping my posterior planted on the cushion in front of my keyboard.
Get the book at Amazon

What are you currently working on? Do you have a new book out?

I am currently working on Retaliation, the second book in my YA Almost Human series, on a mystical book about a man who finds out he has a rare, fatal disease, and his exploits to find a way to survive by seeking out the only option for a cure, and on a rather snarky private detective novel.

Do you have a project on the back burner? Tell me about it.

Always. I am ruminating over a YA novel about BB the Dinosaur Hunter, and another BB novel recounting his experience when he finds out what the ancient petroglyphs in the desert surrounding his home are all about.

What would you tell a beginning writer who wants to publish but doesn't believe he/she has enough talent?

Talent is overrated. Becoming a good writer involves reading widely, learning how to write well, and writing…a lot, and then writing more, and reading more. Never stop reading, and never stop writing.

Write every day, and don’t give up on a project you think has promise. It may not ever be good enough to show it to anyone else, but you develop tenacity by completing your projects.

If your first and second drafts are so awful you’re embarrassed to show them to anyone, don’t. And know that you’re on the right track.

Edit. Rewrite. Revise. Remember, you don’t have to show anyone your writing until you, and your writing, are ready (Unless you’re in school and the teacher wants your homework. And that is great training for meeting deadlines.).

A last word; at some point you need to realize none of your writing will ever be perfect, but it’s good enough to share with the world.

Thank you, Jon!

Learn more about Jon:

Read the character interview here

Thursday, May 14, 2015

When Lack of Money is Keeping You From Writing Full-Time

I have many friends who write, far fewer that can afford to write full-time. And that's okay. It has to be. For we writers are not only creative thinkers, we are real life livers.

That means that we don't give up even when we know we can only spare a part-time career in writing; at least for now.

We may write at 10 p.m. or 2 a.m., but we write because we can't not write.

Yes, we may dream of the day when, Lord willing, we can drop our full-time job away from home and write, but until then, we keep writing and dreaming.

We don't stop because the stuff of life is difficult and doesn't allow us to do what we - want. We're not little children after all who need to be catered to their every whim. We're adults, and although many people say we have a certain 'childlike' quality (we couldn't really write if we didn't) this child knows better than to complain about his/her sorry life in favor of doing all they can to make their life work, the way it is - right now.

Living in the moment is important, probably even more important than dreaming of the future, because right now at this very moment something tangible can be done.

So Write.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

CHARACTER INTERVIEW: Michelle Thorn from Revelation

Tell me a little about yourself (where you live, who you are, what you look like, what you hope 
to achieve, etc.)

My name is Michelle Thorn. I’m fifteen years old, I lived with my parents in our home overlooking the ocean on the Oregon coast. We were a pretty typical family, my dad was an auto mechanic, my mom a travel agent, and I was part of the high school team on our way to the state soccer championship. I don’t like bullies, and since I am stronger and faster than the senior boys, I don’t have to, and I don’t have to let them pick on my friends either. The day I ran into Doctor Carlos Safine my life went from, “Wow, hope I do well on my math test,” to “Wow, I hope I live through tomorrow. Now my biggest hope is to someday return to a normal life.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

Sports. Soccer, basketball, martial arts, and surfing. That’s what I used to like to do. Nowadays, I’m lucky if I can go for a run. The closest I am able to get to sports is sneaking through the forest, but I do get a lot of time practicing loading, unloading and field-stripping a variety of weapons. And my big, I mean really big friend Wallen is teaching me more than I ever wanted to know about all sorts of military stuff.

What is your favorite color and why?

Green. It’s the color of life. The forest is full of life, and even the air is green when you get deep in the trees.

Get the book at Amazon
What is your favorite food? Why is it your favorite?

Pizza. Because it’s like, the all around food. If I’m feeling down, pineapple and onion. If we just won our soccer game, mushroom and black olive. When I pass the math test I've been stressing over for a week, Greek pizza with feta cheese, red onions, green peppers, and green olives. Oh, and chocolate-chip cookies, because they are the food of the gods, from the time they begin to perfume the house to the time those chocolate chips melt on my tongue, it’s like the sweetest expectation. And they have all your basic food groups, wheat, milk, chocolate, and sugar.

What would you say is your biggest quirk?

I don’t deal well with frustration. If I’m frustrated, I’m not going to hide it, you will know if you've done something so ignorant that it irks me. And it won’t be pretty.

What is it about your antagonist that irks you the most, and why? Share a line in the book 
where this irk is manifested.

I believe in fair play, on the soccer field and off. Homeland Security Chief Danson crossed lines that should never be crossed, proving he is anything but fair. “She’s a single mom with a blind daughter. Why does it have to be taken care of? If we kill her, are we any better than Danson or his Homeland Security goons?”

What or who means the most to you in your life? What, if anything, would you do to keep
him/her/it in your life?

My parents. Lots of kids at school rag on their parents, some only have a mom or dad. I’m lucky, I have both my parents, and they’re pretty cool. They give me enough freedom to enjoy life, and enough structure to keep me close. I would do anything to keep them in my life.

What one thing would you like readers to know about you that may not be spelled out in the
book in which you inhabit?

I’m a team player. I may argue with my teammates, but in the end, we are all on the same team. When I am in a game, the team matters more than individuals. We win or lose as a team, and even though I am faster and stronger than any of my soccer teammates, we agree on a strategy and stick to it. When I decided to join Dr. Safine, I began to see him and the other Newvers as teammates.

If you could tell your writer (creator) anything about yourself that might turn the direction of 
the plot, what would it be?

Even more than my team, my family is one of my top priorities. If anyone hurts any member of my family, I will hunt them down and make them pay.

Ask me any question. I've always wanted to know what a character thinks about writers like 
myself. I'll answer the question at the end of this interview.

Why do readers want us good guys to go through so much pain and suffering, I mean, do we really deserve to be beat up so much?

This is a question I've been asked before, but my answer bears repeating. Characters are just like real people in the sense that they must go through the bad and experience the good. If a book held off in the "pain and suffering" department, the character wouldn't be able to learn and grow, just like a real person wouldn't. 

Thank you, Michelle!

Learn more about Michelle and her creator at the following site:

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Making it Real: Producing a Non-fiction Story Others Will Relate to

I have been working with some authors lately that are creating their first non-fiction books. And the thing I've noticed about these non-fiction works, is that it isn't always easy to share your heart.

In a fiction novel, the difficulties are there sure enough, because you have to know the characters inside and out to produce a novel worth reading, but in the case of non-fiction, let's just say that you're right up there, front and center, and there's no hiding to be had.

Even if your particular reader has never been through cancer, divorce, or a multitude of other challenges, they have been through SOMETHING difficult, and know how it FEELS to be going through the challenge, so holding back your heart and soul really doesn't help either one of you.

Crying is good therapy anyway. It may be difficult to talk about the feelings behind your abuse, or the episodes leading up to your husband's death with cancer, but in the long run, your readers will thank you for your honesty.

It's what they want and need to get through their own difficulties, and perhaps, just perhaps you'll say something, reveal something, that will strike a cord with them and assist them in moving forward.

One of the things that helps me in making it real is to get all of my feelings down, as many of them as come to me in a particular setting, before I try to edit myself. You may even try writing your thoughts down by hand instead of using the computer; there is something about this way of writing that can bring out even the most hurtful of thoughts.

To be sure, making it real is about as difficult as scaling that tall mountain at your feet. But it can be done. With the right equipment, the right attitude, and the right stick-to-it-ive-ness, anything is possible.

Monday, May 11, 2015


Tell me a about yourself. What got you started in writing?

Well, I've loved to read ever since I was a little girl. Stories took me out of everyday life and let me travel and learn about all sorts of people.

When I was a girl, I used to write in a journal. When I was a teen, I sometimes wrote in my journal and occasionally wrote poetry, but never did much actual writing. It wasn't until I began telling my children made-up bedtime stories that I began writing them down, and that started me on my writing journey.

How and where do you write? Do you prefer a lap top or do you prefer writing freehand?

I mostly write on my living room sofa with my laptop on a footstool thing. (That’s very descriptive, isn't it?) Eventually I want to have a desk in the office I’m supposed to share with my husband. That’ll happen eventually in our new house here in Utah.

Writing freehand feels like it should be more romantic, but honestly? I hate it. I love being able to move parts of paragraphs around in nearly an instant, copy/paste, and delete with abandon. My personality and mental organization works so much better with typing. Not to mention that I’m extremely good at losing paper and notebooks.

What's your favorite part about writing? Your least favorite part about writing?

My favorite part about writing is twofold. The first part is where something I write just feels good. Like it fits, and all the words hit the exact spot. It feels good, like a snuggly blanket when it’s cold in the wintertime. And the second part of my favorite thing about writing is when a reader brings my story to life in their own head, and we make a connection through words. I think it was Stephen King who talked about how it takes a writer and a reader to make one whole story together. (Don’t quote me on that—my memory is terrible!) But I love communicating with people through stories.

How do you come up with your characters? Why would readers want to get to know them?

I could make something really cool up, but really, they just sort of come in different ways. Sometimes a “what if” way, but with Captain Schnozzlebeard, well, I was in the shower, making up a song about pirates after reading a children’s pirate picture book. All of a sudden, Captain Gus Schnozzlebeard popped into my head, blustery and big-nosed, and all fancy-like. It was kind of a neat experience.

What types of marketing do you do to promote your writing?

I belong to a few writing communities, so I keep my eyes open for events and review opportunities. I have several signing events coming up as well as a couple of presentations, which I’m excited to do. Basically, I just try to be myself and make friends.

How do you schedule your writing time? When do you write?

Mostly in the afternoon when I can find some quiet time, or at night after my children go to bed. We’re changing our family’s whole routine after this summer, so I’ll probably write more in the early afternoons.

What are you currently working on? Do you have a new book out?

I do have a new book out. Captain Schnozzlebeard and the Singing Clam of Minnie Skewel Island is my first traditionally published book, through Trifecta Books. The second in the series is in the works and deals with purple were chickens who give people the rooster pox. (Middle grade books, if you couldn't tell.J ) I also have another project for adults that there will be news about in the next few months.

Do you have a project on the back burner? Tell me about it.

I have a young adult novel that is very involved and is quite different from my middle grade books. It’s very loosely based on The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen. The themes are quite different than in the traditional tale, and have to do with a young mermaid learning that she is valuable just by being herself—even if she has no idea who she is. The first chapter of this book placed second in its category in the 2014 LDStorymakers First Chapter Contest, so I’d really like to get it finished.

What would you tell a beginning writer who wants to publish but doesn't believe he/she has enough talent?

You might never believe you have enough talent. And you know what? I've talked to people who've “made it,” and the common thread among all of them is that writing and publishing takes work. Hard, hard work. No matter what path you take to publishing, you need to work at it. Even if you have scads of talent. So read writing books, get critique partners, attend any conferences you can. You will always have room to grow and learn, even if you end up being a massive self-publishing hit or get your dream agent and score a huge contract with a major publisher.

Also, remember that no matter where you are in your publishing journey, there will always be people who you feel are ahead of you or coming up behind you. That doesn’t matter. You are where you’re supposed to be on your own path, because no one else can travel your path for you. But here’s the thing—you can’t sit still.  You have to actually move your feet and head down that road.

Thank you, Rebecca!

Learn more about Rebecca at the following links:

My website is
Here's the Amazon link to my book
 Read the character interview here