Category Archives: The Writing Life

Time for New Possibilities

Goodbye 2016

Last year wasn’t a great one for a lot of people. And I’m not talking about all the celebrity deaths which seemed to be a lot more than usual. There were other things that went a whole lot wrong last year in my personal life. Dad’s cancer. Dervish’s (aka Slippy Cat) heart condition getting worse. Financial struggles for the first half of the year. But I don’t want to dwell on the bad. There was good too.

The finances got sorted. Even though Dad’s cancer is back there is still hope with the ongoing treatment. Dervish did get worse but we had the fluid removed from around her lungs and adjusted her medication. How long the improvement will last is anyone’s guess. The last round of medications kept her stable for two years. I’m hoping this will keep her stable for longer than that. I finally started a weight loss program and have lost 32 pounds so far.

And because of the bad stuff last year I found focus. Focus to concentrate on what is important to me. Spending as much time with family (that includes the cats) and friends is my goal. To that end I decided to focus on a full time writing plan. To become a full time writer will take a lot of hard work and in the beginning a lot less time with family and friends. But once I am a full time writer, not having to divide my time between a day job, writing, running my groups, family and friends I will have more time for the things that matter.

Hello 2017

Of course a new year means new goals for me. I always list what I plan to do during the year with every intention of actually accomplishing it. The shine of a brand new year makes one optimistic. This year is no different except the goal at the heart of my plans is to become a full time writer. To do that I will need to release books – under my own name. The short stories and novellas I have out under pen names don’t count. I’m starting with a fresh slate. Well, sort of fresh. I do have one short story up under my name as well as stories in two anthologies.

I plan to finally release Almost Normal (Shifting Sands Book One). I’ve already started writing Almost Never (Shifting Sands Book Two). I also have stories in mind for a prequel (so readers who sign up for my mailing list can get the inside scoop as to how Sierra’s boss found out about her secret) and book three which will be titled Almost Perfect.

Besides the Shifting Sands series I will be working on a few other series. One involving angels. Another one involving demons. And it wouldn’t be a complete year if I didn’t throw some ghosts into the mix. There will also be at least one book in my dystopian trilogy though I’m hoping for them all to be finished and released next year. All of these plans depend on the actual writing, though. So I will be doing a lot more of that in 2017.

Other goals for the year include spending more time with family and friends, reading more, watching more movies, and continuing on the weight loss journey. I have a Supernatural convention to go to this year complete with Jensen photo ops and I want to look my best!

Do you have goals for the new year?

Until next time…



Featured image copyright erika8213

It’s a New Year – Time to Get Focused

Copyright jamesstar on Depositphotos

Copyright jamesstar purchased from Depositphotos

Happy New Year everyone! I’m so happy that 2015 is over. Last year was incredibly sucktastic with a lot of things going on that crushed my spirit. It took a while to get it back and it’s still not 100% back to normal. Despite that I wrote more last year than I had in any year before that. But it was all over the place. In my quest to diversify my writing I was all over the place. Though I have twenty-two works published on Amazon (and other retailers) I will only publicly claim five of them and two of them are under a pen name. I improved my craft and had fun but I have nothing to show for it really.

This year will be different. I’m determined to make 2016 my year. It’s time for me to focus on my stories. Novels and series I’ve had in the works and can’t wait to see available online. Standpoint, the first book in my dystopian trilogy still isn’t finished so I need to finish writing that as well as the other two books in the series. It’s time I finished revising Almost Normal and released that as well as book two. I have plans for a non-fiction book about my time in Citizens Police Academy.

Out of necessity last year I started ghostwriting. It’s been a lot of fun and I’ve expanded the kinds of stories I’m able to write because of it. I will continue to ghostwrite while also working on stories that will be released under my name.

Because of my new focus this year’s goals will be short and sweet and totally doable.

1. Stick to a writing schedule to get my target 85,000 words a month written
2. Read 26 books (I’ll be posting about my reading challenge later this month)
3. Release Standpoint Trilogy
4. Release Almost Normal
5. Grow ghostwriting business
6. Exercise and eat better
7. Spend time with family
8. Blog regularly (one day a week to start)

Anyone else out there have goals for this year? Anyone refuse to do goals?

Keep up to date with my releases by signing up for my mailing list here: Mailing list

Until next time…


A new year and reflections of 2014

Belated Happy New Year to everyone! I should have posted this earlier. So far so good this year during the first week and a half of 2015. I know this post is late and I have no excuses except my procrastination. And my tendency to make long lists of things to do that I will never be able to finish. I had intentions of doing a wrap up post on December 31. It’s been over a year since I’ve posted here but I have good (to me) reasons for neglecting my blog for so long. Then I intended to do another post New Year’s Day with my goals. As writers frequently do, I’m combining those two posts into one to make things easier, cleaner, and shorten my to do list.

A Look Back

First, I’m going to talk about 2014. The year was full of ups and downs, not only for me but for friends as well. We had deaths in the family that are still painful to think about. We had illness and accidents. The weather sucked and I found myself working from home a lot giving me a lot more time to think about the bad stuff 2014 brought. But there was a high, and that high was really high. I got married.

During ceremony - photo taken by Nik Rosser

During ceremony – photo taken by Nik Rosser

I didn’t talk about the wedding plans on my social media accounts because we didn’t get married in Ontario. We got married in England. Planning an overseas wedding is not an easy feat and I wouldn’t recommend it unless you have help. We,thankfully, had lots of help from my brother-in-law and his girlfriend. We got married at the town hall in Woodstock. My husband did a lot of internet research to find our caterer, photographer, and cake person. I was a little nervous because the only one we met in person well in advance of the wedding was the woman doing our cake. We made a special trip to England in November of 2013 to apply for our marriage licence and to discuss what we wanted for a cake. Everyone else we met the week of the wedding and I actually never met our florist.



The cake - photo taken by Christopher Graefe

The cake – photo taken by Christopher Graefe

After the wedding we stayed in England for two more weeks. It was a honeymoon packed with activities including the beer festival, WorldCon, a soccer match, plus lots of shopping. Now I want to go back to England with a smaller agenda because we still haven’t done everything we said we wanted to do there. And we’ve been there three times since we met.

It’s been a series of firsts since August. First flight as a married couple. First birthday as a married couple. First Thanksgiving, first Christmas as a married couple. I’m loving every minute of it. And of course this was our first New Year’s Eve as a married couple. You’d think we would have done something, gone out. But we did exactly what we wanted. Relaxed at home with the cats.

New Year Lots of Goals

With the new year a lot of people make resolutions. I don’t call them that. To me they’re goals. Goals with clear tasks to accomplish those goals. This year is no different. What is different is the sheer number of words I want to write this year. I have a lot of projects I want to finish and release. So, here they are in no particular order.

1. Write 600,000 words
2. Release Almost Normal
3. Release new adult dystopian trilogy
4. Read 25 books
5. Watch 100 movies
6. Continue on low carb diet
7. Exercise three times a week
8. Spend quality time with family and friends
9. Blog regularly

That’s it for now, though I’m sure I’ll be adding to the list as the year goes on. To accomplish the word count goal I’ll have to write 2400 words a day (taking weekends off).

What about you? Anyone have any goals/resolutions they want to share?

Until next time…




Looking back at 2013

I’m a superstitious person. I knock on wood, if something bad happens I don’t wear the same outfit again, I throw salt over my shoulder. In the past five years I’ve noticed that odd years aren’t good for me. Bad things happen in odd years that I would rather forget. And 2013 was no exception. I got bronchitis, had stomach flu, found out my cat is very sick (heart problem and a blot clot), my grandmother passed away. But I realized that good things also happened in those years and that’s what I should be focusing on. I went on an amazing trip to England with my fiancé, I published my first short story – and then two more were in an anthology.  I also figured out why I tended to procrastinate a lot instead of getting work done.

First I want to examine the goals I had for 2013. I didn’t accomplish them. I got close on a few but for the most part they were a total bust.

To recap here were the goals I posted January 1:

Have at least 5 books available on the major online stores – the first one in January (most of these will be under my pen name but Reflections will be under mine)I have 4 “books” up. Reflections, Nefarious North (with the two short stories), a booklet about wedding dress shopping by the creative pen name Wendy Bridal and another short story under my pen name.

Submit the four short stories I wrote for Woman’s World to Woman’s WorldI submitted one short story.

Submit at least 2 other short stories for calls for submissionsBy the end of today I will be submitting 2 short stories for calls for submission.

Finish writing one script (I have a few on the go so I should be able to finish one of them)Nope.

Read 24 books (I’m starting today with Tess Gerritsen’s The Apprentice)Including non-fiction I’ve read 12 books this year.

Watch 100 movies (I’m starting this today too with January Man)Not even close. I think it was around 30.

Read 12 scripts (I have a list started of the ones I want to read)Nope.

I saved the most important goals for last:

Spend time with family and friendsI always do this one.

Plan my wedding!Yes. Most of it is planned but we still need a caterer.

Save for my weddingYes, started saving for it but still have a lot to save.

Diet and exercise to improve my healthNope.

Not a stellar year. I’ve definitely had better. But I did get some things accomplished. Back to the why I procrastinate part. If you’ve been following the blog you know I was diagnosed with sleep apnea. It’s dangerous if untreated and has a lot of symptoms. Now that I know I have it I realize my lack of focus was probably because of the sleep apnea. My irritability (especially at work) was because of it. Waking up tired all the time, especially during the week, was because of it. Now that I’m using a CPAP machine I have more energy and more focus. So that was my year in a nutshell. How was yours? Did you accomplish everything you wanted? Tomorrow I’ll be posting new goals. I’m hoping 2014 will be a great year.

Until next time…








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What are you thankful for?

Photo purchased through Depositphotos

Photo purchased through Depositphotos

Happy Thanksgiving!

I love this time of year. Thanksgiving is a family time. A time to examine our lives and reflect on what we’re thankful for. I’m thankful for my family, my friends, my cats, my (relatively) good health. Though I would love to be a full time writer I’m thankful for my day job. I’m thankful for my readers. I’m thankful that my parents just celebrated their 45th wedding anniversary. They’ve had good times and bad times over the years but they stuck together and have a marriage I hope my fiancé and I will have.

Even though Thanksgiving is today we did our dinner yesterday. Loved seeing my family and eating great food. I’m still stuffed. 🙂 I’ll be watching what I eat for the next little while so I can dig into my niece’s Hallowe’en stash. She’s almost six but she doesn’t eat all of her candy. Her parents end up throwing most of it away. She just likes to go trick-or-treating. 🙂

What are you thankful for?

Until next time…


Sleep apnea, Hallowe’en reads and an update

It’s been a while since I posted on my own blog. 🙂 I’ve had a lot of guest posts recently and those will continue every so often but I found I’ve missed blogging here.  I blog regularly over at Writing Wranglers and Warriors. I’ll start posting a schedule here so you can check out my posts over there. Today I’m there blogging about the importance of sleep. Check it out: How well do you sleep?

Hallowe’en Reads

halloweenreadsLooking for something spooky to read for Hallowe’en? Romance Junkies has put together a list of Hallowe’en reads. Check out their list (my short story Reflections is included) by clicking on the picture.

There are lots of great looking books there.










I’m working away on Almost Normal. It needs to be delivered to my editor by the beginning of December. And I’m working on a novella for an erotica box set as my pen name. That’s due October 3st. So while I will be blogging here again it might be infrequent for now until I can get these projects off my plate. I will still be blogging at least twice a month over at Writing Wranglers and Warriors. We have a great bunch of writers there with interesting posts. You should check it out.

I will hopefully have a lot more updates soon. If I can find the time I’ll be switching the blog over to a Hallowe’en theme after Thanksgiving. Oh and I’m testing the post scheduling function on the blog. I’ve been having troubles with it lately. If it works this should go live at 8:00 am Wednesday morning. Fingers crossed. *edit – My fix did not work so I’ll have to think of something else.

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Until next time…



Reflections is available!

How well do you know the people around you? Friends, co workers, family? A group of friends believe they know each other very well. They go on a road trip together but when they stop at a cursed inn they find out things they never knew.  Lena and her friend Margo end up fighting for their lives.

It’s taken a long time but my horror short story Reflections is finally available on Amazon and Kobo.

ReflectionsFinal2Buy on Amazon: or Kobo:











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Until next time…



Want blog comments? That’s up to you.

Let’s face it, we all want comments on our blog posts. Sure we have stat counters in the background telling us how many people visited and from where but comments are the only way visitors know for sure that people actually read the blog. And to entice you to leave comments I’m having a giveaway! Read on to find out what it is.

If you want readers to comment on your blog I’m going to give you a simple tip. Make it easy for them to comment. Make it difficult and readers won’t bother. For example if you make them log into anything like most blogs do, I won’t bother commenting.


If you have a Blogger blog and don’t offer the Name/URL option I won’t bother commenting either.


I don’t think I should have to log into anything to leave a comment. I’m stubborn like that. Must be the Irish blood.

And if you make the CAPTCHA too hard I’ll just keep on surfing and not leave a comment either. There are other ways to avoid SPAM comments.

Now, the giveaway. I’m giving my Social Media for the Writer workshop starting May 1. I’m giving away two free spots in the class. I’m doing a Rafflecopter giveaway so there are a number of ways to enter. One is by leaving a comment below about social media! Winner will be announced before the class starts and you’ll receive an invite to the email loop.


a Rafflecopter giveaway


Until next time…



Victoria Roder’s Bolt Action

Hi everyone. I’ve got Victoria Roder on the blog today talking about her book Bolt Action!

Here’s Victoria!

Thank you for hosting me on your blog, Cindy!


If the police commandeered your computer, would you worry? Any detective with my computer would wonder if I was planning a murder.  I’ve researched poison in the forms of chemicals, medications, toxic plants and poisonous snakes.  I’ve investigated death by hanging, deadly gun shot wounds, fatal stab wounds, and countless serial killers.  My family might say I’m a little crazy, but my defense for my computer searches is that I am a published author of crime novels.

In my action thriller Bolt Action from Champagne Books, Detective Leslie Bolt is a smart talking, gun hording, motorcycle riding investigator forced to work a serial murder case with her sexy ex-lover.  After a childhood of abuse suffered at the hand of her father, Leslie stashes a collection of pistols, revolvers, and even a Browning A-Bolt Stalker Rifle in her broom closet.  The “State Quarter Killer” is taunting police but with the help of forensic science, Detective Bolt is hot on the trail. You’ve got to check out the book trailer for Bolt Action:


Although Bolt Action is fictional, I needed to research how an autopsy is preformed, weapons, psychological profiles, and crime scene analysis.  Accurate facts pull the reader into the fiction and make it believable.  In a detective novel, you have to know that a police officer needs twenty-one feet to recognize a knife threat in order to react in a defensive manner. Believable fiction.


The science and factual information are fun to research, yeah geek, I know, but creating the character of Detective Leslie Bolt was the best. I based her sarcastic attitude and kick-butt disposition on one of my sisters. I have five sisters and they are all fighting over which one I used. Leslie’s got attitude, but she is vulnerable and wants to find love like the rest of us. You know, sometimes I wish, like Detective Bolt, I could voice all the sarcastic thoughts that come to mind. Of course, no one would ever speak to me again.


About Victoria:  Victoria Roder lives in Central Wisconsin with her husband and house full of fur babies and one smooth baby that is a blue-tongued skink. She is the author of  Action Thriller, Bolt Action, Champagne Books, paranormal romance, The Dream House Visions and Nightmares and Inspirational Devotional book, It’s Not You – It’s Them: Six Steps to Healing and Thriving after abuse from Dancing With Bear Publishing.  She is the author of children’s chapter book, The Curse of King Ramesses II from Wild Child Publishing, and picture book, An Important Job to Do: A Noah’s Ark Tale from DWB Children’s Line. Her short stories have appeared in Chicken Soup for the Soul, A Cup of Comfort, The Latke Hound a Christmas Anthology, How I Met My Husband and One Red Rose. She writes articles and creates puzzles for magazines and activity books. Please visit or contact Victoria at:


Ebook and Print available:


Cindy here again! Thanks for being here, Victoria. The book sounds great. I know what you mean about research. It’s very important to get the research right so the story is more believable.


Until next time…



Creating a mystery series character

Please welcome Sally Carpenter to the blog today. She’s talking about creating a character for a mystery series.


Here’s Sally!


            When creating a series character for a mystery, one needs a protagonist who’s worthy of the honor—someone is not only likeable and can stay interesting for several books but who can also believable solve a crime. So for my humorous caper books, why on earth did I pick a former 70s teen idol as an amateur sleuth?

            As I built my character, I discovered that teen idols have a number of qualities that would serve them well as a detective.

            Time is on their side. A “retired” teen idol isn’t locked into a nine-to-five job. A teen idol who handled his income well doesn’t have to work every day. He’s free to look for clues and interview suspects.

            Money—that’s what I want. Teen idols have enough money that they can travel about, go to nice restaurants, and do what it takes to find the killer.

            Intelligence. Most people perceive teen idols as vapid, cute guys with big smiles who sing fluffy love songs—but these guys are no dummies. A guy needs his wits about him to cope with the demands and the insane schedule of a teen idol which consisted of working on a TV show, records, guest appearances and concerts.

            Charm. Teen idols know how to deal with the public and talk to people. They’ve worked with a variety of people in the studio and on stage. They’re extroverts and make friends quickly. They can easily glean information out of a person of interest.

            Celebrity status. Teen idols are known the world over. If they need a seat on an overbooked plane or a table at a crowded restaurant, that’s no problem. People will readily open doors and talk to a sleuthing teen idol.

            The downside is a teen idol is easily recognizable and can’t go undercover without a good disguise. And sometimes the idol is distracted by his fans who want autographs at the most awkward moments—like when the police are interrogating him.

            Eye for detail. Teen idols are meticulous about their craft. Most of them wrote or produce their music. Their stage shows were carefully choreographed and well rehearsed. Some teen idols moved into directing, producing and writing videos and TV shows. They paid attention to their public image.

            So they see clues that others miss. They pay attention and see the big picture.

            A teen idol is also aware of his surroundings. He’s had to dodge hyper fans and persistent reporters. He can spot someone tailing them. He’s usually extra-careful when out in public.

            Moral center. Teen idols are good guys and have a strong sense of right and wrong. They’re generous with their time and money, quietly giving to charitable causes. They want to see justice served and a disordered universe restored.

            Sense of humor. These guys are funny! They know how to work the crowd and get the audience jazzed up. They have a good sense of their own worth and can laugh at themselves. They’ve managed to overcome career slumps, divorces, and public criticism and still remain optimist. They’re good storytellers when relating their sleuthing exploits.

            Persistence. Teen idols have to work hard to overcome their “bubblegum” image and move into a post-idol career. They keep plugging away on film or music projects until the finish. They will continue dogging on a case, despite the obstacles, until it’s solved.

            My amateur sleuth is 38-year-old blonde haired, blue eyed Sandy Fairfax who recorded 10 gold records in the 1970s and starred in the hit TV show, “Buddy Brave, Boy Sleuth.” After being out of the public eye for far too long, he quit drinking and is making a serious attempt at a comeback.

           In his first case, “The Baffled Beatlemaniac Caper” (Eureka! Award/Left Coast Crime finalist for best first mystery novel), from Oak Tree Press, a guest appearance at a Beatles fan convention turns deadly when a member of the tribute band is shot and the police finger Sandy as the prime suspect. Sandy’s looking for the killer while dealing with fans and filling in for the dead musician for a concert.

           His second case, due out in late 2013, is “The Sinister Sitcom Caper.” Sandy’s a guest star on “Off Kelter,” the lowest-ranked TV show of the season. When an actor drops dead at his feet, he suspects foul play. A dwarf and an animal actor aid Sandy as he uncovers some Hollywood secrets.

What are the qualities that you look for in a literary sleuth/detective? Share a comment to be entered into a draw to win a signed copy of my book! Open to residents of the U.S. and Canada.

Sally Carpenter is the  a native Hoosier now living in Moorpark, Calif.

She has a master’s degree in theater from Indiana State University. While in school two of her plays, “Star Collector” and “Common Ground,” were finalists in the American College Theater Festival One-Act Playwrighting Competition. “Common Ground” also earned a college creative writing award. “Star Collector” was produced in New York City and also the inspiration for her book.

Carpenter also has a master’s degree in theology and a black belt in tae kwon do.

She’s worked a variety of jobs including actress, freelance writer, college writing instructor, theater critic, jail chaplain, and tour guide/page for a major movie studio. She’s now employed at a community newspaper.

She’s a member of Sisters in Crime/Los Angeles chapter. Her short story, “Dark Nights at the Deluxe Drive-in,” will appear in the 2013 SinC/LA anthology, “LAst Exit to Murder.” Contact her at Facebook or

Cindy here again! That’s some great information about series characters, Sally! Thanks for being here. Everyone, don’t forget to leave a comment by Monday for a chance to win a copy of Sally’s book.


Until next time…