Day 5 of the WordCrafter “Lingering Spirit Whispers” Book Blog Tour: Guest Post by Christa Planko

Lingering Spirit Whispers Book Blog Tour

Thank you for joining us for Day #5 of the WordCrafter Lingering Spirits Whisper Book Blog Tour. In case you missed any of the posts from earlier in the week, you can find them all right here on Writing to be Read, and you can visit the author interviews on Un dawnted , but you can only leave comments on Writing to be Read.

Monday November 29th – Writing to be Read/Un dawnted interview with Stevie Turner

Tuesday November 30th – Writing to be Read/Un dawnted interview with Kaye Lynne Booth

Wednesday December 1st -Writing to be Read/Un dawnted interview with Jeff Bowles

Thursday December 2nd – Writing to be Read/Un dawnted interview with Roberta Eaton Cheadle

Today we have a guest post by author Christa Planko about the inspiration behind her winning story, “Olde-Tyme Village”, which is featured in Where Spirits Linger.

“Where Spirits Inspire: The Inspiration Behind ‘Olde-Tyme Village’”

By Christa Planko

A stroll through a Victorian shore town during off-season leaves enough to the imagination to raise goosebumps and stir the creative mind. The brightly painted homes with their steeply pitched roofs and ornate gables give the sensation of having stepped into a time machine. With summer’s tourists packed and gone, the streets lie practically barren. The exception is the few living beings taking in the autumn air and architecture—and the spirits who may be joining them unseen.

That was the inspiration behind my story, “The Olde-Tyme Village.” It was an October trip to historic Cape May, NJ that fed my imagination. Wandering through the quiet town, I marveled at the elaborate homes, many of them vacant. I couldn’t help but fancy I saw a curtain move in a window or a grey face peering through a dusty pane. A shift of wind carried a moan that could have been the spirit of a woman watching from a widow’s peak for her husband to return from sea. Mind trick or imagination?

Certainly, many of the homes have a long-standing history. The peninsula was originally inhabited by the Lenni-Lenape tribe before Cornelius Mey purchased the land in 1621. It soon developed into a prosperous fishing and whaling industry for English colonists. Later in the 18th century, Cape May began its development as a resort town for enjoying the ocean and fresh seafood. The town saw its share of pleasure, prosperity, and promiscuity over the years. It saw an equal share of tragedy. Surviving wars and devastating fires, residents’ emotions must have run deep. The wealth of books and oral accounts of Cape May’s ghostly occupants suggest that many tormented souls were left to linger.

Was “Olde-Tyme Village” based on any researched history? The answer is yes and no. Like my October stroll through Cape May, the story was fueled by pure imagination. It takes place at a fictional resort remote from modern society. The “historic residents” and guests of the village are made up as well. The research I did do was to learn about Victorian architecture and industries that prospered during this era in order to ground the descriptions and backgrounds in historic fact. The story’s mood and time-warp occurrences were exaggerations of my own experiences in Cape May.  

A final question may be: Do I believe in ghosts? While I enjoy a spooky story around a campfire or during Halloween season, I can’t say that I ever truly believed in ghosts. I did have an unexplained experience at a historic site near my hometown a few years ago. That experience—or possible encounter—has since opened my mind to the possibility. I’ll spare the details until I have the chance to do some further research on the area and possible tragedies. I sense a future story on the horizon!

To see my bio and a list of published works, please visit:

https://christascorner.godaddysites.com/about-us

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Christa is a professional writer with a passion for creative expression. She has had her poetry and short stories featured in several publications, including River Poets JournalWingless DreamerTanka and Haiku JournalsRune BearJitter Press, and Every Day Fiction. When she’s not writing, she is likely bicycling, kayaking, or dancing. She currently resides in South Jersey with her 4 feline muses.

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You can get your copy of Lingering Spirit Whispers here.

Lingering Spirit Whispers paranormal anthology set

Thanks for joining us on the WordCrafter Lingering Spirit Whispers Book Blog Tour! I hope that you’ve enjoyed Christa’s guest post here on Writing to be Read, and the Un dawnted author interviews earlier in the week. If you missed any, the links can be found at the top of this post to go back and catch them all.

As a reminder, tomorrow will be Sonoran Dawn’s Autumn Wonders Book Event on Facebook, so be sure to drop in. Contact the host, D.L. Mullen and Sonoran Dawn Studios, if you’d like to reserve an author slot for promotion of your work. WordCrafter has a slot in the event, so you can find more about this anthology set, as well as other WordCrafter Press books there. Come and join in the fun.

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Day 4 of the WordCrafter “Lingering Spirit Whispers” Book Blog Tour: Interview with author Roberta Eaton Cheadle

Lingering Spirit Whispers Book Blog Tour

Welcome to Day #4 of the WordCrafter Lingering Spirit Whispers Book Blog Tour, where we’re celebrating the release of the Lingering Spirit Whispers paranormal anthology set. This unique paranormal set combines three paranormal anthologies into a single set for ghosties galore, and you can get your copy here.

Lingering Spirit Whispers

Today we’re over at Un dawnted, where D.L. Mullen interviews contributing author, Roberta Eaton Cheadle, the only author beside myself to contribute stories to all three anthologies.

Roberta Eaton Cheadle is writer of young adult and adult fiction in the supernatural fantasy, historical horror, and historical supernatural genres.To date, Roberta has published two novels, Through the Nethergate and A Ghost and His Gold, and several short stories in various anthologies including Whispers of the Past and Spirits of the West, and Where Spirits Linger edited and compiled by Kaye Lynne Booth, and Spellbound, compiled by Dan Alatorre.Roberta has a historical supernatural novel set during the Second Anglo Boer War in South Africa coming out in early 2021.When she is not writing, Roberta enjoys working in the garden and creating fondant and cake artworks.

Her stories of chilling encounters, “The Last of the Lavender” and “Missed Signs”, were featured in Whispers of the Past.

Cheadle also has two stories of paranormal encounters on treks through the South African bush are featured in Spirits of the West – “The Thirstyland Journey” and “The Ghost in the Mound”.

And her tale of the completion of business left unfinished, “Listen to Instructions” is featured in Where Spirits Linger.

You can join in on DL Mullen’s interview with Roberta over at Un dawnted here: http://www.undawnted.com/2021/12/wordcrafter-lingering-spirit-whispers_2.html

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Day 3 of the WordCrafter “Lingering Spirit Whispers” Book Blog Tour: Interview with author Jeff Bowles

Lingering Spirit Whispers Book Blog Tour

Welcome to Day #3 of the WordCrafter Linger Spirits Whisper Book Blog Tour, where we’re celebrating the release of Linger Spirits Whisper paranormal anthology set. Connoisseurs of ghost stories will want to add this unique paranormal set to their collections. The release is today and you can get your copy here.

Lingering Spirit Whispers

Today we’re over at Un dawnted, where D.L. Mullen is interviewing contributing author Jeff Bowles, who has stories in two of the three anthologies included in this set.

Jeff Bowles is a science fiction and horror writer from the mountains of Colorado. The best of his outrageous and imaginative work can be found in God’s Body: Book One – The Fall, Godling and Other Paint Stories, Fear and Loathing in Las Cruces, and Brave New Multiverse. He has published work in magazines and anthologies like PodCastle, Tales from the Canyons of the Brave New Multiverse. He has published work in magazines and anthologies like PodCastle, Tales from the Canyons of the Damned, the Threepenny Review, and Dark Moon Digest. Jeff earned his Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing at Western State Colorado University. He currently lives in the high-altitude Pikes Peak region, where he dreams strange dreams and spends far too much time under the stars. Jeff’s new novel, Love/Madness/Demon, is available on Amazon now!

His story “A Peaceful Life I’ve Never Known” was the winning story in the 2019 WordCrafter Paranormal Short Fiction Contest and is featured in Whispers of the Past.

And his story “Wenekia” is featured in Spirits of the West.

I hope that you will join us and follow the rest of the tour to learn more about the stories included in this set and their authors. Undawnted does not have commenting abilities, but feel free to leave any comments you have on the interview here: http://www.undawnted.com/2021/12/wordcrafter-lingering-spirit-whispers.html

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Day 2 of the WordCrafter “Lingering Spirit Whispers” Book Blog Tour: Interview with author Kaye Lynne Booth

Lingering Spirit Whispers Book Blog Tour

Welcome to Day #2 of the WordCrafter Lingering Spirit Whispers Book Blog Tour, where we are celebrating the December 1st release of the Lingering Spirit Whispers paranormal anthology set. This unique collection of ghosties galore is a must read for all lovers of paranormal fiction. Available for pre-order now.

Lingering Spirit Whispers

We’re hanging out over at Un dawnted, where D.L. Mullen is interviewing contributing authors from the anthologies included in this set, and today’s author guest is… um… me! Kaye Lynne Booth. I have one story featured in each anthology. Un dawnted has no commenting capabilities, so please leave any comments you might have about the interview here, on Writing to be Read.

Kaye Lynne Booth lives, works, and plays in the mountains of Colorado. With a dual emphasis M.F.A. in Creative Writing, writing is more than a passion. It’s a way of life. She’s a multi-genre author, who finds inspiration from the nature around her, and her love of the old west, and other odd and quirky things which might surprise you.

She has short stories featured in the following anthologies: The Collapsar Directive (“If You’re Happy and You Know It”); Relationship Add Vice (“The Devil Made Her Do It”); Nightmareland (“The Haunting in Carol’s Woods”); Whispers of the Past (“The Woman in the Water”); Spirits of the West (“Don’t Eat the Pickled Eggs”) and Where Spirits Linger (“The People Upstairs”). Her western, Delilah, her paranormal mystery novella, Hidden Secrets, and her short story collection, Last Call, are all available in both digital and print editions.

In her spare time, she keeps up her author’s blog, Writing to be Read, where she posts reflections on her own writing, author interviews and book reviews, along with writing tips and inspirational posts from fellow writers. She’s also the founder of WordCrafter Enterprises. In addition to creating her own imprint in WordCrafter Press, she offers quality author services, such as editing, social media & book promotion.

In Whispers of the Past, my story is “The Woman in the Water”.

In Spirits of the West, my story is “Don’t Eat the Pickled Eggs”.

In Where Spirits Linger, my story is “The People Upstairs”.

You can pop over and join us for my interview with D.L. Mullen here: http://www.undawnted.com/2021/11/wordcrafter-lingering-spirit-whispers_30.html

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Welcome to the WordCrafter “Lingering Spirit Whispers” Book Blog Tour: Interview with author Stevie Turner

Lingering Spirits Whisper Book Blog Tour

Thank you for joining us for Day #1 of the WordCrafter Lingering Spirit Whispers Book Blog Tour. This tour celebrates not one, but three different anthologies offered together in one anthology set. This unique paranormal set combines three paranormal anthologies into a single set for ghosties galore. A must have for lovers of paranormal fiction.

Whispers of the Past

As you may know, every year WordCrafter Press runs a short fiction contest, and each year there is a resulting anthology. For 2019, it was Whispers of the Past, with paranormal stories from contributing authors including myself, Roberta Eaton Cheadle, Stevie Turner, Laurel McHargue, Julie Goodswen and author of the winning story, Jeff Bowles.

Spirits of the West

For 2020, it was Spirits of the West, with western paranormal stories from contributing authors including myself, Roberta Eaton Cheadle, Jeff Bowles, Arthur Rosch, Tom Johnson, and author of the winning story, Enid Holden.

Where Spirits Linger

For 2021, it was Where Spirits Linger, with paranormal tales from contributing authors including myself, Roberta Eaton Cheadle, Stevie Turner, Enid Holden, S.L. Kretschmer, and author of the winning story, Christa Planko.

You can get all three in one anthology set, Linger Spirit Whispers, to be released on December 1 and available for pre-order now.

Lingering Spirit Whispers

And join us for the tour to learn more about the stories contained within these three paranormal anthologies and their authors. D.L. Mullen will be doing interviews on her Un dawnted blog site Monday through Thursday and we will finish up her with a guest post from 2021 contest winner, Christa Planko discussing the inspiration behind her winning story, “Olde-Tyme Village”, featured in Where Spirits Linger. Un dawnted does not have comments enabled, but feel free to post any comments you have on the interviews here. Interviews with authors Roberta Eaton Cheadle, Kaye Lynne Booth, Stevie Turner and Jeff Bowles will be featured. I hope you will join us today and follow us through the rest of the tour.

Today’s author guest is contributing author Stevie Turner, who has stories in two out of three anthologies included in this set.

Stevie Turner is a British author of suspense, paranormal, women’s fiction family dramas and darkly humorous novels, and likes to find subjects to write about that are not often covered. Stevie is married and lives in the wilds of East Anglia, England, and enjoys cycling about the countryside when she is not busy writing. 

Her story “Partners in Time” is featured in Whispers of the Past – a paranormal romance where past and present cross.

And her story “David’s Revenge” is featured in Where Spirits Linger – a tale of revenge from the grave.

You can join in on Stevie’s interview with D.L. Mullen here: http://www.undawnted.com/2021/11/wordcrafter-lingering-spirit-whispers.html

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Book your WordCrafter Book Blog Tour today!


Spirits of the West Book Blog Tour

Spirits of the West Book Blog Tour

Welcome to the first official WordCrafter Book Blog Tour featuring the WordCrafter western paranormal anthology, Spirits of the West. We’ve got a great tour lined up, so let me tell you a little about this unique anthology and the stories featured within. I hope you’ll all follow along with the tour as the week progresses, to learn more about this colorful story collection.

It’s no secret that I love ghost stories, which is why the theme each year for the WordCrafter Short Fiction Contest always seems to lean toward the paranormal genre, although other genres may be involved. It’s also no secret that my first novel was a western and I enjoy writing and reading this genre, so it shouldn’t be surprising that the 2020 theme was western paranormal. I didn’t get a lot of submissions, but the ones I did get were top notch stories, and the resulting anthology, Spirits of the West, contains eight stories with western and paranormal elements, from six very different author’s worlds. The theme for the contest was not a traditional genre mixture, and there’s not much that’s traditional about the anthology.

My story, “Don’t Eat the Pickled Eggs”, is a western paranormal mystery, to confuse the genres even more. It’s a colorful story, about the disappearance of a saloon owner, a ghostly nighttime visit to leave a warning, and a young boy named Stinkweed, who holds the key to the mystery. You’ll be able to learn more about the inspiration behind this tale on Jessica Bakkers.

Roberta Eaton Cheadle contributed two South African western paranormal tales, which help to make this anthology very unique. “The Thirstyland Journey” and “The Ghost in the Mound” tell stories of pioneers, traveling across the South African wilderness – a different type of western, but with just as many ghosts. Both are powerful stories of survival, courage and determination and are welcomed additions to Spirits of the West. Robbie will be telling us more about both of these stories on Roberta Writes and Robbie’s Inspiration.

Jeff Bowles, the author of the winning story in 2019, contributed “Wenekia”, an excellent story of Native American folklore and traditions. When two young boys sneak out to eavesdrop on the tribal council gathering, they learn more than they bargained for when they witness the reality of legend. Sue Vincent’s Daily Echo will have a post for us about Jeff’s story on Saturday.

“The Clouds in the West”

Arthur Rosch contributed a science fiction western paranormal story, “The Clouds in the West”, which takes the cowboy to another world, where the rider may not always control of his mount, and leaves the ending open to reader interpretation.

The winning story in Spirits of the West was submitted by Enid Holden. “High Desert Rose” is a more traditional western tale of revenge, but Holden does it with a heroin, rather than a hero, and the spirits are watching. Patty’s world will feature an interview with Enid on Wednesday and wrap up the tour on Sunday for us.

“Gunsmoke”

Also included in the anthology are two stories that were not contest submissions. Tom Johnson’s story, “Gunsmoke” really doesn’t have a paranormal element, and is included as a tribute to Tom as his only western story in a lifetime of science fiction and pulp titles, as the author is no longer with us. And Enid Holden contributed a second story, “Queen of Spades”, which didn’t make the submission deadline, but is every bit as good as her winning story.

“Queen of Spades”

Time constraints did not allow for posts on some stories, but I hope you’ll join us on the tour this week to learn more about this very special collection of stories and their authors.


 

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Looking Back on 2020 and Forward to 2021

2020 has been an difficult year for all of us as Covid 19 turned lives upside-down. Here at Writing to be Read and WordCrafter, we saw some great accomplishments, in spite of the fact that my genre theme schedule fell apart half-way through the year on the blog and content was a little more sporadic. I had to figure out how to adjust to my own “new normal”, which life changes brought my way, but they also led me to remember who I am. Now, I’ve analyzed and regrouped, and I’m ready to head into the new year with new ideas and projects.

WordCrafter’s 2020 Virtual Writing Conference

One of the biggest things for WordCrafter was the 2020 Stay in Place Virtual Writing Conference back in April. We ended up with twenty-two distinguished authors, offering live stream and video lectures, and interactive workshops and discussion panels, with free content for the Facebook event and a Zoom platform for the interactive stuff. We had a good turn-out with only a few glitches, and we’re preparing to do it again in 2021.

WordCrafter Press releases in 2020:

Ask the Authors

In April, the Ask the Authors writing anthology was released after two years of compilation. This book is an ultimate writer’s reference with tips and advice from twenty-two authors, and it started right here, from a 2018 blog series of the same name. In November, the print edition of this book, (and all WordCrafter Press books), became available, as well.

Spirits of the West

The Spirits of the West western paranormal anthology resulted from the 2020 WordCrafter Short Fiction Contest, and was released in October. The winning story, “High Desert Rose”, was written by Enid Holden and is included in the anthology. The theme for the 2021 WordCrafter Short Fiction Contest was announced and WordCrafter Press is now taking submissions to be considered for next year’s anthology, Where Spirits Linger.

Hidden Secrets and Last Call

Two of my own books were also released. Last Call and Other Short Fiction is a collection of my short stories, and my paranormal mystery novella, Hidden Secrets, is now available in print on Amazon, but the digital edition can be purchased through other retailers. In the coming year, I will have a story in the Where Spirits Linger anthology, and I’m working on a new book, The Outlaw and the Rockstar which I hope will be ready to release before the end of 2021.

Raise the Tide

WordCrafter Press‘ first stand alone author’s book was released in December, Raise the Tide, a devotional book by James Richards. We also look forward in anticipation to adding the January release of a massive poetry collection by Arthur Rosch, Feral Tenderness, to this list.

Feral Tenderness

Writing to be Read 2020:

We had some great guests on Writing to be Read. On “Chatting with the Pros”, my author guests featured Diana Raab, Amy Cecil, Cherokee Parks, L. Deni Colter, and Kevin J. Anderson. I’m hoping to transform this blog series into a podcast, which can be accessed through the blog, in the coming year, and I hope you all will join me there. Other authors interviewed in 2020 included Mark & Kym Todd, Jade C. Jamison, and Alan Dean Foster. The most viewed interview was with erotic romance author Nicky F. Grant. Interviews fell by the wayside along with the genre themes, but I’m planning to bring back author interviews for 2021, and I’m working on a new blog segment, “The Authors’ Covid Coffee Clache”, which will address issues of the pandemic specific to authors.

Treasuring Poetry

Robbie Cheadle’s poet guests included Sally Cronin, Colleen Chesebro, Victoria Zigler, Sue Vincent, Annette Rochelle Aben, Christy Birmingham, Kevin Morris, Frank Prem, D. Avery, Geoff Le Pard, and Balroop Singh. Of course, each segment on “Treasuring Poetry” are filled with poetry examples and includes a review of the poet’s latest poetry collection.

Growing Bookworms

Robbie Cheadle’s “Growing Bookworms” has great ideas for promoting literacy in children. Topics discussed “Making Learning the Alphabet Fun“, “Reading and Mathematics“, obtaining a balance of parental approval, “Sir Chocolate and the Valentine Toffee Cupid“, the benefits of singing and rhyming verse for children, “Teaching Children to Read“, “Introducing Non-Fiction to Children“, “The Future of Education“, “The Great Roald Dahl“, “Chapter Books vs. Short Stories for Children“, “The Joy of Nursery Rhymes: Twinkle, Twinkle Little Bat“, and “Incorporating Reading into Christmas Activities“. The post with the most views this year was a “Growing Bookworms” post from 2019, “Developing Imagination and Creativity Through Reading“, and in fact, it is also the post with the most all time views.

Words to Live By

On “Words to Live By”, Jeff Bowles offers up his thoughts on writing and life, and writing life. In 2020, he reflected on “The Creator in the Creative“, “The Kid in the Machine”, “Sex, Love, Warfare and Death“, “Fear, Creativity, and that Pesky Pandemic“, “Love in the Time of Covid“, “Be Here Now (Sanity for the Modern Writer), and”Creative Legacy“. The most viewed “Words to Live By” post was “The Big Chill“.

Mind Fields

With Art Rosch’s “Mind Fields”, you never know what the topic will be, but in 2020, they included “T.V. Addicts Annonymous“, “Nightmare with Tracphone“, “The Power of Villians in Story Telling“, “The Big Grief or Computer Wipe-Out“, “The Air in the Sky“, “Obsession: Craving Flashlights“, “Curvature: An Essay on Discernment“. The most view “Mind Fields” post was “Am I Real“.

Super Heroes and Supervillains

In May, Jeff Bowles took over the spotlight as he took over the Super Heroes and Super Villians theme, with a look at “The History and Evolution of Comic Books“, “The Rise of the Comic Book Film“, “DC Comics Gets Animated“, “D.C. Comics vs. Marvel – Rivalry and Inspiration“, and a celebratory posts for comic books and super heroes, “Look Up in the Sky!

Craft and Practice

Also in May, Jeff introduced a new blog series “Craft and Practice”, filled with great writing advice, which covered topics such as “The Revision Process“, “To Self-publish or Not to Self-publish“, “Writing for Catharthis“, “Story Synthesis: The Ultimate Tool in the Tool Kit“, “To Comma or Not to Comma“, “The Odds and Ends of Worldbuilding“, and “What’s the use of Trunk Novels“. The most viewed “Craft and Practice” post was “Should You Write Every Day?“.

Jeff’s Movie Reviews

Jeff’s Movie Reviews” covered The Invisible Man, Birds of Prey“, Hamilton on Disney+, Bill and Ted Face the Music, The Trial of the Chicago 7, The Queen’s Gambit, and The Godfather Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone. The most viewed movie review post was for 1917.

Arthur’s Visual Media Reviews

“Art’s Visual Media Reviews” covered Homeland, Better Call Saul, 13 Reasons Why, Just Mercy, 13 Reasons Why (the later seasons), a critique of Marvel movies, and The Secret: Dare to Dream, but the most viewed review was a life review in “My Life with Jazz“. Unfortunately, “Arthur’s Visual Media Reviews” will not be appearing in 2021, but Art’s “Mind Fields” will be appearing twice a month.

My book reviews included Missing: Murder Suspected: True Crime Stories Brought to Life, by Austin Stone On Being a Dictator, by Kevin J. Anderson and Martin L. Shoemaker; Saint, by Amy Cecil; Heat: Book 1, by Jade C. Jamison; Old One Eyed Pete, by Loretta Miles Toleffson; Death Wind, by Travis Heermann and Jim Pinto; Severed Wings, by Steven-Elliot Altman; X Marks the Spot, an anthology of pirate fantasy tales edited by Lisa Mangum; Indominable, by J.B. Garner; Echo One, by Mercedes Lacky, Denis K. Lee, Cody Martin, and Veronica Giguere; the audio edition of Shadow Blade, by Chris Barili; Love/Madness/Demon, by Jeff Bowles; In the Shadow of the Clouds, by Jordan Elizabeth; Keeper of the Winds, by Jenna Solitaire with Russle Davis; Inspirational Visions oracle cards, by Judy Mastrangelo; The Freedom Conspiracy by Nathan B. Dodge; Disappeared, by Lucienne Diver; Fool’s Gold Rush, by Tim Baker; Terminal Sequence, by Dan Alatorre; Gunslinger, by Edward J. Knight; and Clay House, by Jordan Elizabeth. The top viewed review was Hold Your Fire, an anthology edited by Lisa Mangum.

Judging the Spurs

I was also honored to be a judge for the Writers of America’s Spur Awards and I reviewed my top six picks, and the winner of the western romance category, The Yeggman’s Apprentice, by C.K. Crigger. These were the best of the best, and I was honored to be given the opportunity to read and review them.

WordCrafter Book Blog Tours

Also, in 2021 Writing to be Read will be a host for the WordCrafter Book Blog Tours, so we’ll be keeping you up to date on several new releases as they come out. Robbie Cheadle will bring us a new blog series on nursery rhymes and fairytales, “Dark Origins”, and I plan to bring in a new series, “Writer at Work”, which will talk about different issues that writers face. Subscribe to this blog with one of the buttons in the upper right-hand corner to be sure not to miss this great new content or the tried and true content of continuing series on Writing to be Read in the coming year.

Dark Origins

Happy New Year and Happy Writing!

From Writing to be Read and WordCrafter

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For the Love of Halloween

Happy Halloween

Halloween has always been one of my favorite holidays. We get to dress up and be anyone or anything that we want to be. As adults too big to trick or treat, we find one Halloween party or another to attend, so that we have a legitimate excuse for donning a costume and pretending to be someone or something else for a while. Or we turn our yards into graveyards to scare the kids who come to trick-or-treat, or maybe we channel or Halloween fantasies into the costumes we make for our children. But no matter how well we hide away our inner children, the longing to once again play make believe never really goes away.

But this year, things may be a bit different. The Covid 19 pandemic has turned the world upside-down, and trick-or-treating poses new threats to both us and our children. Social distancing is the new buzz word and large social gatherings are falling out of fashion. Although masks are in style, they aren’t the kind that will go well with our costumes. In fact, in many places trick-or-treating has been cancelled and other types of holiday celebrations are emerging in its place.

It’s sad, really. We may be seeing the destruction of many time-honored traditions which are no longer deemed ‘safe’ activities. Thanksgiving celebrations are being limited to maximum numbers, as well. Apparently, no holiday is safe.

2020 WordCrafter Halloween Book Bash

I hope all of you will join us for the 2020 WordCrafter Halloween Book Bash tomorrow evening. For the past two years, WordCrafter has hosted or participated in Halloween book events on Facebook, and this year is no exception. Many of the activities and events being used to replace traditional forms of celebration are of a virtual nature, so our celebration this year is probably trending. It is a short one this year, only three hours, from 6 p.m. MDT to 9 p.m. MDT, but we’ve got some great contests and games, and some fantastic book promotions and new releases. My co-hosts are authors Mark McQuillen, Ellie Raine, Jordan Elizabeth, and Amy Cecil. It’s my way of keeping Halloween traditions alive during tradition crushing times.

Spirits of the West

I think the thing that I’m most excited about though, is that WordCrafter will be promoting their newly released western paranormal anthology, Spirits of the West. This anthology contains eight unique stories with hints of paranormal and western flare. Contributing authors include myself, Roberta Eaton Cheadle, Jeff Bowles, Art Rosch, Tom Johnson, and the author of the winning story, “High Desert Rose”, Enid Holden. It’s an antholgy like no other and I am so pleased with how well it turned out.

However you choose to celebrate this Halloween, be safe and have fun.

Happy Halloween!

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Anthologies: An alternative path to publication

I’m seeing a lot of promotions for anthologies these days. This excites me because short fiction anthologies are a wonderful way for rising authors to gain new readers. If you look for them, there are plenty of opportunities for short fiction submissions and contest entries, and many of those hold the possibility of having your short story featured in a new anthology.

All authors want to see their work published, but full length novels take months or even years to craft and polish before being ready to consider publication. And if an author is considering the traditional route of pitching their work until they find an interested publisher, they could be looking at that manuscript gathering dust on the shelves for a very long time. Short fiction offers a chance for authors to get their names out there on multiple works in a much shorter period of time than it would take to write and publish multiple novels.

Even before I published Delilah, I had two short stories accepted for publication online. Then my story, “If You’re Happy and You Know It”, was accepted by Zombie Pirate Publishing and it appeared in their The Collapsar Directive anthology. I learned very quickly that one difference in having short fiction published in an anthology, as opposed to being published online, was the spirit of comraderie among all the authors featured. The other cool perk of being published in an anthology was the invitation to submit to the next planned anthology. Hence, my story, “The Devil Made Her Do It”, appeared in the next anthology ZPP put out, Relationship Add Vice.

The trick to getting into an anthology is to read the submission guidelines and submit a story that meets them. Most of the time, that may mean writing a story specifically for that submission call or contest. When I was invited to submit a story for Dan Alatorre’s Nightmareland, the guidelines were pretty general, “horror”, and I happened to have a piece of flash fiction that fit into the genre. All it required was a bit of polishing and my story, “The Haunting of Carol’s Woods”, was ready for submission and acceptance. But, many submission calls are more specific.

For the above mentioned submission to ZPP for Relationship Add Vice, submission guidelines required a story that contained elements of romance and crime fiction. Chances are that you don’t have a story sitting in your files with those elements and you would need to create a new story to submit to meet these guidelines. I did have the beginnings of one, as it happened, but that certainly isn’t always the case.

The submission guidelines are important. Read and follow them carefully. Other than the type of story, they may include specific formatting requirements and other submission instructions. Many publishers are strict about their guidelines and will put down a story without finishing it, if the story doesn’t meet even one of the specifications. Of course, that doesn’t apply only to anthologies. Every submission you make should conform to the given submission guidelines, whether we’re talking about short fiction, novel manuscripts, articles or poetry. Why read something if the submitting author can’t even follow directions?

With each of these anthologies, I got that same feeling of comraderie and networking with my fellow authors. I love that feeling. Because anthologies, by definition, have several different authors, they also carry with them the advantage of widening the pool of possible readers. Each author promotes the anthology to their reader audience, so it is possible to extend your own reach beyond your own reader following and gain new readers who read your work in the anthology and want to read more. It’s a win-win for all authors involved.

Naturally, when I started WordCrafter Press in 2019, the first undertaking was to launch a short fiction contest and compile and publish the resulting anthology, Whispers of the Past. The submission guidelines required a paranormal stort story and the contest winner received a $25 Amazon gift card.

Spirits of the West

For 2020, the contest submission call requested a piece of short fiction with elements of both the paranormal and western genres. It may have seemed a weird combination to some, but to me, it seemed only natural. The old west is filled with ghosts and spirits, and my first novel was a western. I think it was the western genre that threw potential authors off, but what resulted from this genre combination were some very interesting stories, including two South African ‘westerns’ by WtbR team member Robbie Cheadle, “The Thirstyland Journey” and “The Ghost in the Mound”, and a science fiction ‘western’ by WtbR team member Art Rosch, “Clouds in the West”. This author of this year’s winning story is Enid Holden, and she has two stories included in the anthology: the winning story, “High Desert Rose” and another paranormal western, “The Queen of Spades”. And my contribution is a story I wrote specifically for the occassion, “Don’t Eat the Pickled Eggs”. “Wenekia”, by last year’s contest winner, Jeff Bowles and “Gunsmoke” by author Tom Johnson are also included. This unique collection of paranormal westerns have been compiled into the Spirits of the West anthology and scheduled for an October release.

Authors can find calls for submissions or short fiction contests all over the internet these days. If you just look for them, you’re sure to find one that works for your writing style and preferences, or maybe one that offers a challenge and takes you into writing realms where you’ve never before ventured. In January, I’ll be announcing the theme for the 2021 WordCrafter Short Fiction Contest, so be sure to watch for that, too. If you want to get your name out there, grow your audience and have people read your work, short fiction anthologies are a great start, or they can be a supplement to already published books. Find one that suits you and submit a story today.


Butt in Chair, Write the Damn Book

Writer at Work

Some of the best advice I ever received on writing a novel length work came from one of my M.F.A. instructors, Russell Davis. He said, “Ass in chair, write the damn book”. And you know, he was right. If you don’t sit your butt in that chair and start writing every chance that you get, chances are that novel will end up unfinished, sitting on a shelf, collecting dust rather than on an Amazon bestseller list. No the only way to complete a novel is to just sit down and write.

Lately though, finding time to put my butt in the chair and keep it there has been a real challenge. All the strategies I had used successfully to create productive writing have fallen to the wayside since Covid came along and turned our worlds upside down and inside out. WtbR team member Robbie Cheadle made a good point when she said that lockdowns and quarentines have blurred the lines between work and personal lives. With many people working from home, the boundaries between work and personal time may not be as distinct as they were before. There is no commute on which to transition from work to home life, or vice versa.

That is kind of what happened with me. Although I’m back to the grind of commuting now, when I was staying at home, I threw everything I had into my writing. My personal life and relaxation were laid to the wayside. Then, when I went back to work, I was overwhelmed with work, school and all of the many projects I had started working on while at home.

Although my butt was in the chair, I found it difficult to focus on any one project and to prioritize which project I should be working on. My school work fell behind. Life circumstances changes that required more of my tijme and attention. My regularly scheduled blog posts weren’t getting written; I struggled to finish my short paranormal western story for the Spirits of the West anthology; and the book I had planned to write this year was just plain not happening. It doesn’t do a bit of good to place your butt in the chair, if all you do while there is stare at a blank screen.

So, I pulled back and prioritized all the different things that I needed to get accomplished. I regrouped, so to speak. Even though I am very close to earning a degree in marketing, I decided it would have to wait and I withdrew from my schooling. I went camping to give myself some ‘me’ time, and rediscovered the Colorado mountains that I’ve always loved, and my passion for writing, and found myself once more sitting down in front of my laptop and writing with purpose.

It was amazing, but once I started writing for the right reasons, because I wanted to write, not out of obligation, I was able to focus and the words fell onto the page. It just goes to show you that staying home and away from people doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll be able to pump out the best writing that you ever have. Beside sitting your butt in the chair, focus is another necessary element.

Spirits of the West

In addition to getting this blog back on track, and doing a bit of restructuring on it, I finished the story for the Spirits of the West anthology, “Don’t Eat the Pickled Eggs”, and I’m currently working through the kinks in the publishing process, as well as working on my next novel length work, The Outlaw and the Rock Star. It is a time-travel western inspired by the music of The Pretty Reckless, and I have three and a half chapters so far. This is where my priorities lie and these projects are what I intend to focus on. Writing is where my heart is, and I feel like I’m back in the saddle again. Ass in chair, focus, and write the damn book.

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