Category Archives: The Writing Life

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

Buy this book at:


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Books I Recommend

The Chestnut Man

By Soren Sveistrup

The Chestnut Man

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Left You Dead, (DI Roy Grace #17)

By Peter James

Left You Dead, 17

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

A Litter of Bones

By JD Kirk

A Litter of Bones

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

The Night Hunter

By Caro Ramsay

The Night Hunter

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

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

112: How Your Surroundings Ignite Your Creativity (And What To Do About It) with Eric Weiner

I used to believe that creative work was mysterious.. That coming up with a good idea, finding inspiration, or writing a blog post or book wasn’t something I could plan for, but was something I had to wait to happen to me. I’m not alone in this, either.

There’s a shroud of mystery that surrounds creative work. And I totally get it. Creative ideas can at times appear out of nowhere. And when I’m most in need of creative inspiration, it can be hard to find.

So, is creativity something you can plan for?

Well, the answer is yes and no.

You see, there’s no exact science, formula, or process you can follow to successfully yield creative results 100% of the time. What works for some people doesn’t necessarily work for others.

However, you can teach yourself how to become more creative, learn how to identify good ideas, and even change your surroundings or the place you live to improve your creative work.

This week on The Portfolio Life, Eric Weiner and I talk about why creative work flourishes in certain places today and throughout history. Eric discovered in his research and travels a significant connection between the place you live, your surroundings, and the influence they have on your personal creativity.

Listen in as Eric shares the common elements that not only lead certain places to become more creative, but will also help you to improve your personal creativity.



Source: 112: How Your Surroundings Ignite Your Creativity (And What To Do About It) with Eric Weiner

3 Modifiers Left Dangling Without a Supporting Subject



An introductory phrase intended to modify the subject of a sentence is said to be left hanging when the main clause it precedes begins with a reference to a noun that is not the subject of the sentence—hence the label “dangling modifier.” In each of the sentences below, the subject is faulty; the paragraph following each discusses the problem, and a revision remedies it.

Source: 3 Modifiers Left Dangling Without a Supporting Subject

Misuse of “Comic Relief”

DCP_2937_0146     The photo is for “comic relief”. From the series: Instant

The following passage from a newspaper feature alerted me to confusion between the literary term “comic relief” and the idiom “to throw [something] into relief”: Inside, the obituary request for humane society donations comes into comic relief. There’s a Jack Russell and a King Charles, a cockatoo Miss Peepers and a cage full of finches.

Source: Misuse of “Comic Relief”

What “For-” Is For

      100_1404         I would like to add a series about writing from Instant Hope you enjoy.         

The element for-, though it stems from the same Proto-Germanic word that gave us the preposition for, deviated from the common ancestor to serve as a prefix meaning “away,” “opposite,” or “completely.” That’s the sense that contributes to the meaning of most words beginning with for-. Notice that these words have in common that their connotations are definitive: The verbs forbid (“prohibit,” with a root cognate with bid and meaning “command”), forget (“fail to remember” or “inadvertently neglect,” with a root cognate with get and meaning “grasp,”), and forgive (“pardon,” with a self-evident root) are potent; so, too, is the adverb forever (“always,” with a self-evident root).

Source: What “For-” Is For

My New Purse, The Conference, and The Happy Weed

SAM_1506Sadly, one of my neighbors will be moving to a different country soon, so she had a big garage sale to get rid of a lot of stuff, good stuff. She’s moving from here to Japan., going from big to small. I bought a purse from her. It’s a lovely purse, and a purse is a purse is a purse, unless it’s a suitcase.

I took my find to the Houston Writer’s Guild conference and proudly showed it off to my friends who love this kind of accessory. I usually have a smaller purse. It was there at the conference the trouble began. It’s as if I’ve suddenly sprouted wings, or a much larger behind. I couldn’t calculate the width of openings. I’d step through, my purse wouldn’t come with me. I jerked my shoulder out of sync a couple of times extricating myself from the car, or the bathroom stall. I would sail through a place only to be hauled up short for those few seconds it took for the purse to catch up.  Though this purse is gorgeous, I shall remain evermore the dinky purse sort.

The conference went well. I thank all those who put a lot of elbow grease toward such a successful weekend. Whatever you did. It worked.

There were a few glitches. At lunch Saturday in the hotel lobby restaurant, we never got our food. The restaurant emptied of people and we were sitting at our table.

Then there was the other small glitch. What is that smell? Incense? Why would anyone be burning incense in such excessive amounts. I could see the smoke in the hall. Wait, what’s that other smell? Hmmm. This was apparently not contained to just my floor of the hotel. It was on several floors, all throughout the night. I went to report it to the front desk. That’s right. I’m the spoil-sport! As I approached, the front desk person looked down and drawled “what up?” Really? This is what you say to someone you don’t know? At work? When I told him about the marijuana, he smirked. Seriously? Yep.

Ah well, the rest of everything was very good. Thank you, kind readers for taking the time to read!


A Radio Interview April 21, 2016

Women of mystery panel2This is a photo of The Women of Mystery panel discussion at the Lone Star Literary Conference on April 8.


Here is a radio interview from last evening, where I am being interviewed interviewing Kimberly Morris.

April 29 to May 1 The Biggest and Best writing conference in Houston will be underway. Houston Westchase Marriott.


For those librarians and teachers now receiving this newsletter, I will be emailing you individually to share with you about school visits. Yes, the wasp has agreed to come with me. That’s what the BUZZ is all about.

Free is Always Good

What are you looking at?

Hello all,

It’s officially spring. I thought you would like a baby photo. This is the grand girl when she was the age her baby brother is now. They look so alike. I will post his when I have one.

I wanted to tell you all that my book The Dry now has a free teacher guide to go with it. It is excellent. It contains all the important things a fifth to seventh grade teacher would need for her class after reading the book. It is FREE on the home page just under the photo of the book.

Have a lovely week. It’s sunny here with lots of flowers blooming at the moment. We had such a hard rain, with hail, a few days ago that it knocked all the flowers off the azaleas.

Happy Spring!!