Category Archives: about writing

Here’s a new website that features my book, and a few books I recommend – SHEPHERD.COM

Do visit the website for more lists of great books! This is a great website to follow to find exact books you’re looking for. Here’s my list below.

The best British books of suspense that will keep you up reading all night

Rebecca Nolen Author Of Deadly ThymeBy Rebecca Nolen

Deadly Thyme

By R.L. Nolen

Deadly Thyme

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Books I Recommend

The Chestnut Man

By Soren Sveistrup

The Chestnut Man

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Left You Dead, (DI Roy Grace #17)

By Peter James

Left You Dead, 17

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A Litter of Bones

By JD Kirk

A Litter of Bones

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The Night Hunter

By Caro Ramsay

The Night Hunter

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The Blackhouse: The Lewis Trilogy

By Peter May

The Blackhouse: The Lewis Trilogy

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Random Book Lists

The best books about the Vikings

Dawn M. Hadley and Julian D. Richards Author Of The Viking Great Army and the Making of EnglandDawn M. Hadley and Julian D. Richards

The best books on Stalin and the Second World War

Sean McMeekin Author Of Stalin's War: A New History of World War IISean McMeekin

The best books on the background of the Pilgrim fathers

Derek Wilson Author Of The Mayflower Pilgrims: Sifting Fact from FableDerek Wilson

The best books on real conspiracies

Jan Stocklassa Author Of The Man Who Played with Fire: Stieg Larsson's Lost Files and the Hunt for an AssassinJan Stocklassa

And It Rained August 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 2017

Hurricane Harvey dumped a lot of water.

I don’t believe anyone really believed it would be that bad. I mean, the weather people exaggerate, right? They get a bit excited and talk about it without stop. I know I feel sometimes as if they have called “wolf” a few too many times.

I take it back. They didn’t exaggerate this time. It was so bad one of our major television stations on Buffalo Bayou had water to the second floor. It didn’t stop raining for four almost five days. At night it would get bad. The wind would kick up and the rain slanted first one way then another. We didn’t have rising water at our house. Our neighborhood was one of the fortunate few that didn’t have rising water even though we are only six blocks from a bayou – six blocks up a hill though. Some water came through one of my windows and warped a bunch of pads of writing paper I had sitting on the floor.  Now, it’s been almost two weeks and there are some parts of Houston still under water. I don’t know what will become of those homes.

You know when you write a character in your story, the best way to show character is to throw that character into adversity and see how the character reacts. I lost a few pads of paper, but it is truly tragic to lose everything. Many Houstonians have stories. The best ones are about the helpers. I’ve always been proud to be a Houstonian, but this tragedy showed this city’s true character, one with a huge heart.

Despite the last terrible two weeks, the organization I am a co-director of is still having what we call our KILLER event.

Houston Writers House is excited to announce: This Friday night will be a murder mystery dinner with actors acting out a play where all of the guests might be suspects.  Also, it’s time to pull out that flapper dress you never thought you would wear again, because the murder takes place in a 1920’s speakeasy. The next day, Saturday, we will have real-life experts impart their special knowledge on aspects of crime scene. So if you love CSI or you are writing a crime novel of any type, you will want to come. To find out more and to sign up here is the link:

Buyer Beware: Predatory Publishers


piranaYou’ve got a book. It’s ready to be published, but you don’t know the first thing about how to do that. You ask around. No, you don’t want to go through the traditional publishing route because it could be several years after your book is accepted for it to even see the light of day. You want your book published and you want it now, though you don’t want to self-publish either. It sounds like too much work.

Then, someone comes along who tells you they will publish your book for you. Wow! A dream come true. Or is it?

What is a Publisher?

There are different kinds of publishers. Some are legitimate and will be good for you, while others are predators looking to make money off of you. The latter will not help you except to produce an inferior product that won’t last long in the market place.

Let’s look at the difference:

A publisher could be one of three things according to the dictionary. A publisher is a firm in the publishing business; a publisher is a person engaged in publishing periodicals such as magazines, books, or music; or a publisher is the proprietor of a newspaper.

Unfortunately, with this broad definition anyone can claim to be a publisher.

A legit publisher will not ever ask for your money. Ever. I can’t stress this enough.


An assisted publishing company will ask for money. And they are legit. So what is the distinction?

An assisted publishing company offers services to get your manuscript in shape, get artwork and narrative formatted, get the cover and book designed, and Continue reading Buyer Beware: Predatory Publishers

Using Real-World Places to Inspire Fictional Settings

photo by Sophie Masson

This is a good post about world building. Its important to study world building if you write any genre of novel. The world you build around your characters is essentially a new one, even if it is set in present day Your Town. Here’s more from Sophie Masson.

A couple of weeks ago, I was in an extraordinary place: Rotorua in New Zealand, where bubbling mud pools, shooting geysers and steam-wreathed villages create an amazing otherworldly atmosphere, complete with sound effects ( gurgle, hiss, splash ) and smell ( rotten eggs, burnt toast.)

It’s a place full of stories, of course: Maori legends, tales of historical tragedies, love stories and scary stories. A place to fire the imagination! And one which could be a living example of the idea that setting does not have to be just a backdrop to story, but almost a character in itself.

It’s easy to see that in Rotorua, where the bubbling mud seems ready at any moment to spew out a strange creature, the very hot springs sometimes called murder ripples have a weirdly placid beauty under their clouds of steam, and the fires of the earth’s center are much closer to the surface than is truly comfortable to think about for too long. Here, a writer can–and in my case, does–file away verbal and written impressions as well as photos and videos to help in the creation of a fictional setting that won’t be actually Rotorua, but will be greatly inspired by it. And like the real place, it will be more than just a backdrop.

That kind of real-world setting, which in its extraordinary distinctiveness can seem almost fictional (as, in a contrasting but complementary example, a city like Venice, which I’ve also used in my fiction, does as well) might seem like an easy way into creation of a fictional world. After all, how hard can it be to take elements like boiling mud and clouds of steam and sleeping volcanoes—or gondolas and bridges and golden-domed palaces–and fictionalize them? Don’t all you need to do is simply faithfully transcribe what your senses tell you?

Newsflash: What must be believed in real life because you see it (and smell it!) in front of your nose is not so obvious when you’re dealing with fiction. You…


Source: Using Real-World Places to Inspire Fictional Settings

This is so cool. Detailed instructions


stack-of-books1I’ve had trouble since the beginning trying to learn how to format my books for Kindle and then for all the other sites. Kindle accepts only a .MOBI file. What is a .mobi file? It’s the type of formatted book file that  will get your book on Kindle. That’s my complicated and very scientific explanation. Your book is changed from a Word .doc to a Mobi.

All other places where you would buy and download a book take EPUB files. What is an .epub file? See above and substitute googleplaybooks, smashwords, kobo, nook, etc.for Kindle.

iTunes (yes, they sell books) is a completely different set-up and I must ask someone who has an apple product to format my Word .doc to fit.

I’ve always just paid someone else to format my Word document for me because I’m a clutz with reformatting, and I don’t have a lot of patience with this sort of thing. So when I come across an explanation with PICTURES online, I’m pretty excited.

This is so cool. Detailed instructions about ebook formatting.

How to Keep Writing When You Want to Quit

Note: This is a guest post by Ali Luke.. Ali has been writing for a living for eight years, and she blogs weekly about the art, craft, and business of writing on her site Aliventures .. You’re at your desk, and the words just aren’t flowing.. You feel like getting up and walking away from your writing… and never coming back..

However much you love writing, it’s hard at times. It can feel like a relentless, unrewarding slog.

And those doubts (that were at the back of your mind all along) start getting louder:

“No one cares about what I write.”

“No one’s ever going to read this.”

“I’m wasting my time.”

I’m too old (or too young) to be a writer.”

“I might as well give up.”

… and maybe you do give up, for a day or a month or even years – but writing draws you back in.

Trust me, I know what it feels like. I’ve been writing for a living for eight years now, and writing novels for far longer, and I still find myself questioning. Doubting. Thinking about quitting.

Sometimes, of course, quitting is sensible. There’s no point carrying doggedly on with a project that you’ve long ago lost all interest in.

But often, quitting isn’t the right choice. A week later, or a month later, or five years later, you find yourself wishing you’d just stuck with writing a little longer.

(After all, since you’re reading this post, it’s a safe bet that deep down you don’t want to give up.)

Here’s how to decide when to stick with it and when to quit, whether you’re considering giving up on a single project, or writing altogether.

#1: Should You Give Up on a Writing Session?

Twenty minutes into your planned writing hour, you’ve accomplished precisely nothing. Maybe you wrote a sentence or two, hated them, and promptly deleted them. You’re feeling very, very tempted to give up and try again tomorrow.

Occasionally, this might be the right choice. If you’ve hit a block in your work-in-progress, for instance, perhaps you need to take a step back and do some extra planning.

Often, though, the reluctance is because you’re tired or in a bad mood or overwhelmed. So:

  • Set a timer for five minutes, and write—without deleting!—until your time is up. You can do anything for five minutes, however much you don’t feel like it initially.
  • Now, reassess. Do you want to carry on? If you still really don’t feel like writing, stop. Be kind to yourself. You might want to spend a few extra minutes journaling about why you’re feeling blocked, or what’s going on in the rest of your life.

Of course, one skipped session isn’t going to derail your project – just like one cupcake isn’t going to ruin your diet.

The problem is that one skipped session usually leads to another – and the longer you spend away from your work, the more resistance you’ll feel toward getting started again.

#2: Should You Give Up on Your Work in Progress?

TO CONTINUE READING Go to the Source: How to Keep Writing When You Want to Quit

The mingled souls of wheat and corn

(Photo: Robert G. Ingersoll, via Library of Congress.)In 1887, American lawyer and famed orator Robert G.. Ingersoll sent to his future son-in-law, Walston, a bottle of the finest whiskey and a letter, reprinted below, in which he poetically sang its praises.. The alcohol was enjoyed, but not as much as the letter, which was so loved that it soon circulated amongst family, friends, and strangers, and was eventually printed in American newspaper The Nation to be read and adored by the masses.  But not all. Ingersoll’s letter was also spotted by a resoundingly unimpressed Rev. Dr. J. M. Buckley, editor of The Christian Advocate, who responded by publishing a letter of his own, also seen below.
89 Fifth Avenue
New York

Walston H. Brown, Esq.

April 16, 1887

My dear Friend,

I send you some of the most wonderful whiskey that ever drove the skeleton from a feast or painted landscapes in the brain of man. It is the mingled souls of wheat and corn. In it you will find the sunshine and the shadows that chased each other over the billowy fields; the breath of June; the carol of the lark; the dews of night; the wealth of summer and autumn’s rich content, all golden with imprisoned light.

Drink it—and you will hear the voices of men and maidens singing the “Harvest Home,” mingled with the laughter of children.
Drink it—and you will feel within your blood the star-lit dawns, the dreamy, tawny dusks of many perfect days.

For forty years this liquid joy has been within the happy staves of oak, longing to touch the lips of men.

Yours always,
R. G. Ingersoll



My dear Bob,

I return to you some of the most wonderful whiskey that ever brought a skeleton into the closet or painted scenes of lust and bloodshed in the brain of man. It is the ghost of wheat and corn, crazed by the loss of their natural bodies. In it you will find a transient sunshine chased by a shadow as cold as an Arctic midnight, in which the breath of June grows icy, and the carol of the lark gives place to the foreboding cry of the raven.

Drink it—and you will have woe, sorrow, babbling and wounds without cause. Your eyes shall behold strange women and your heart shall utter perverse things.
Drink it—and you shall hear the voices of demons shrieking, women wailing, children mourning the loss of a father who yet lives.
Drink it—and long serpents will hiss in your ears, coil themselves about your neck and seize you with their fangs. ‘At last it biteth like a serpent and stingeth like an adder.’

For forty years this liquid death has been confined with staves of oak, harmless there as pure water. I send it to your mouth to steal away your brains, and yet I call myself your friend.

Rev. Dr. J. M. Buckley

Source: The mingled souls of wheat and corn

This is from me, I miss getting real letters, don’t you?