Category Archives: The Writing Life

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!!

Interview with Novelist Rebecca Nolen (The Dry, Deadly Thyme)

Here is a recent interview.

Novel Writing Festival

Rebecca Nolen
President, Houston Writer’s Guild
Author:  The Dry  and   Deadly Thyme
Follow her blog

MT: Do all of your novels have a general theme and tone?

Rebecca Nolen: No. One if for adults and the other is a middle-grade. I plan to do more novels that will go with my two published novels. I’m working on a novel called Deadly Haste that takes place right before Deadly Thyme. It is a stand-alone, too.

MT: Why should people buy your novels?

RN: My children’s novel The Dry is a great adventure story for children ages 9 to 99. It’s a fantasy that involves giant bugs and also, for the science nerds like me, each chapter heading starts with a wasp fact. The wasp facts have nothing to do with the story.

Adults who love discovering a great story to keep them up reading at night, will love Deadly…

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Missing Cats, and Best Sellers

comfortable-catHere I am. Me. Fallible. Ready to disappoint. It’s Friday February 5, 2016 (can you believe time has flown so quickly?) and I have decided that my YA novel, which is in the second draft stage is just toooo darn boring. Well, okay, I realize it’s just me saying that, but it is now on my proverbial shelf, being thought about but not worked on. I think of that shelf as the back burner of my stove, the one with the various degrees of “simmer” which may mean that spaghetti sauce could sit there all day getting better by the minute. Thing is I need to put conflict on every page as my friend Roger Paulding always says in critique group. He is so correct. Conflict on every page moves the reader to turn the pages. If there is no conflict the reader is just going to fall asleep. My YA has no conflict in it, or at least not enough to keep every reader involved. So say goodbye to the YA novel I’ve been working on for two years, and say HELLO to a new murder mystery set in London with Jon Graham as the hero. It’s true. I think it’s going to be a winner. And I don’t mean that in a Donald way. I mean, if you liked Deadly Thyme I think you might like the one I am now writing set just before Jon Graham goes to Cornwall.

But back to being a winner. You see, Deadly Thyme is a winner. I say that because for all of three nano-seconds in January, I was a true BEST-seller. I was #1 in mystery, thriller, detective series and in several other categories. I was so thrilled I think I couldn’t see straight. Yes, I may have actually made a bit of money there. And if the world’s idea of success is making money, then I won in the world’s opinion of best-selling author. Plus, I paid a few bills, or at least I will when the royalties hit the bank sometime in the next four weeks.

Most people don’t realize, and when I say most people I include myself here, because I never thought about what kind of money authors made before trying to become an author. I just figured authors made a lot of money. Best-seller doesn’t always translate into what you and I would consider rich. Last year I went in the hole only $665.00. That’s pretty fantastic! The year before my debt was over $3,000. That’s what I spent getting my books out in front of you versus what I made selling said books. But this whole book idea/plan needs further expose. Let me break it down for you in a super simplified way because I am a super simplified-thinking person. I put Deadly Thyme on sale for .99 for the month of January 2016. Bookbub, bless their hearts, accepted me into their daily deal campaign. I sold three thousand Deadly Thyme ebooks on Kindle alone in one day. For the month of January, between all the various e-book outlets I sold over 6 thousand ebooks at .99. On Kindle I made 35% of that .99. Amazon made the rest. I am not complaining. A penny is still a penny to me, as old-fashioned as that sounds, and 29 cents is still a lot times three thousand. Compare that to what happens when a traditionally published big-name author sells their e-book for $14.99 on Amazon. Check this out! The publisher makes 15%, the author’s agent makes 15%, and because it isn’t in the price range of 2.99 to 9.99 with Amazon (that’s the 70% profit range) the profit is only registering at 35%, Amazon is making the rest. The author is taking home 35% of that $14.99, less 15% less 15%. Oh bother, as Winnie-the-Pooh would say.

Deadly Haste. There, I’ve said the title of my new effort. I even found the most gorgeous Byron quote for it. “Now hatred is by far the longest pleasure; men love in haste, but they detest at leisure.” So apropos. Don’t be mad. I love really cool classical quotes. Morris would be pleased. My setting is Harrow a northwest borough of London. And there are missing cats involved here.

Full disclosure. This is a preliminary draft and I realize that as time goes by what I love won’t always get to “stick” because, though I love it, the “thing” no matter what it is doesn’t always move the plot forward. I am all about story. I want you, my precious readers, to enjoy my story. If my little beloved “thing” — like missing cats, doesn’t move the story forward it’s going to be kicked outside into the snow.

I know, it makes me sad, too.

So this is the news from my end. I hope you all are enjoying a little quiet and comfort wherever you are. Stay warm. It is cold out there.