Guest Post: C.S. Boyack on Goals

Craig Boyack (C.S. Boyack) from Entertaining Stories is visiting today to introduce his new book, The Playground, and to share how his personal goals influence his writing. His stories often develop from the challenges he sets for himself.

image9The hottest toys of the Christmas Season are the Playground Network dolls. They contain a worldwide social network for children. Except, the network is controlled by a ruthless businessman with dreams of power.

To reach his goals he turns to the occult. Will our children make up his personal army? Could we have an enemy soldier in every home?

Gina Greybill is a cancer survivor who stumbles into her own brush with the paranormal. She wants nothing to do with it, but may be the only one who can bring down the Playground Network. To do it she’ll have to embrace her new situation, and recover the next generation of Playground software.

There is competition for the software in the form of a brutal thug named Clovis. He’s bigger, more ruthless, and more experienced. To top it all off, he has a head start.

The Playground is suitable for more mature readers, due to violence and mature themes.

I decided a long time ago that I have to push myself if I’m going to improve my writing. Every story I’ve written so far includes a personal goal that requires me to push the limits. Most readers will never see this, but it’s important to fill my toolbox. Many times the goal is pretty simple. Some past examples include:


  • Writing a character with no backstory, a non-human character with no backstory.
  • Writing a buddy story where two characters get relatively equal time, but are different enough to stand out.
  • Writing something using fairy tale story structure.
  • Writing something in first person, but limiting it to one character only as the point of view.


These challenges served me well. It’s amazing how little backstory is required, but I might not have learned that without the personal challenge. Another one was the experience of only letting the story unfold through my first person protagonist. There is no opportunity to write, “Meanwhile, back at the ranch.” This requires coming up with a different way of revealing the information.


I’ve always wanted to try epistolary style in a novel. It amazes me, and I’ve always enjoyed it. This style involves the discovery of old documents that move the story along. Some of them even get so tricky as to tell a story within a story.


The truth of the matter is that I’m not quite ready for that. I’ve written a short story in epistolary style, but it needs a severe edit at this time. If I can get the shorty in decent shape, I may be ready to try it in a full sized novel.


One night I was watching Pulp Fiction, and it struck me. I could get close to the story within a story by writing something similar to Pulp Fiction. The Playground concept grew from this idea.


The Playground involves three main characters in three very different stories. When you read the whole thing, the bigger picture emerges. It isn’t quite epistolary style, but it’s a neat trick if you can pull it off. I’m a humble guy, and the readers will have to decide if I pulled it off or not.


This is still a C. S. Boyack story, and I’ll say it’s paranormal with science fiction sprinkles on top. It involves a social network for children that has more sinister goals underneath it all. My idea is that our kids spend too much unsupervised time online these days. I thrive on the question every speculative author uses, “What if…?”


Check out The Playground and decide if I met my goal with this one. I’d love to hear from you and find out what the ultimate judges think.


Follow my blog:

Check out my novels here:




On Goodreads:




We go Spying With Lana, on Lisa Burton Radio

Fun radio interview with Lisa Burton and Lana from “Spying with Lana” showcasing some of artist Sean Harrington’s work.

Entertaining Stories

Welcome to another edition of Lisa Burton Radio. I’m your host, Lisa the robot girl, and we’re having a little difficulty getting through to Hogwarts. Maybe we’ll play some music while we wait. I have a Runaways album that’s pretty awesome.

Wait, we have a caller. “Hello, You’re on the air with Lisa Burton.”

“Hi, this is Lana, calling from an empty warehouse in the middle of nowhere. First time caller, long time listener.”

“Lana, as in Spying with Lana?”

“Alas, yes.”

<Squee> “Spying has to be such a glamorous lifestyle. Beautiful locations, pretty clothes, hanging out with high rollers. Maybe knocking down the casino at Monte Carlo.”

“That’s what they tell me. I’m still waiting for the glamour part to kick in. I wonder if the Agency is giving the glamorous missions to someone else behind my back…..”

“Where are you now, and what’s involved with…

View original post 1,000 more words

Round Trip Fare, the newest book in Barb Taub’s Null City series, is now available on Amazon for preorder.

Round Trip Fare

**Although a sequel to Book 1 (One Way Fare), this is the stand alone story of twins Carey and Connor Parker.

Barb Taub has a lovely, entertaining blog here. Her fascinating stories are often peppered with humor, as are her books. I’ve spoken with her about humor, and she tells me she’s rarely trying to be funny, she simply has a naturally interesting way of looking at life that often comes across as hilarious. A voracious reader, she also does some very thorough book reviews that demonstrate her love and knowledge of the craft of writing. I read One Way Fare and you can see that review Here.

Today she’s introducing one of her own:


Round Trip Fare
by Barb Taub

Round_Trip_Fare-Barb_Taub-1563x2500Is it wrong that shooting people is just so much easier than making decisions? Carey wonders— and not for the first time. But the Agency claims this will be an easy one. A quick pickup of a missing teen and she won’t even have to shoot anybody. Probably.

Carey knows superpowers suck, her own included. From childhood she’s only had two options. She can take the Metro train to Null City and a normal life. After one day there, imps become baristas, and hellhounds become poodles. Demons settle down, join the PTA, and worry about their taxes. Or she can master the powers of her warrior gift and fight a war she can’t win, in a world where she never learned how to lose.

And then there is… him. For the past two months, a dark stranger has persistently edged his way onto the mental game board behind her eyelids. Well, whatever trouble he’s selling, Carey Parker is not buying. Her to-do list is already long enough: find her brother and sister, rescue her roommate, save Null City, and castrate her ex-boyfriend. Preferably with a dull-edged garden tool. A rusty one.

She just has a few details to work out first. Her parents have been killed, her brother and sister targeted, and the newest leader of the angels trying to destroy Null City might be the one person she loves most in the world. And her sexy new partner’s gift lets him predict deaths. Hers.



  • TITLE: Round Trip Fare
  • Genre: Urban Fantasy (okay and there is humor, romance, a sentient train, a great dog, and bunch of other stuff—but Amazon only gives you a couple of words to pick genre, so…)
  • Series: Null City [NOTE: prequel One Way Fare is now available FREE from Barnes & Noble and Kobo, and the kindle version directly from Barb) but this book works as standalone.
  • Release date: 7 April, 2016

Contact & Buy Links

Blog | Facebook | Twitter: @barbtaub | Goodreads | Amazon US | Amazon UK


Barb pix 300 dpiBarb Taub:

In halcyon days BC (before children), Barb wrote a humor column for several Midwest newspapers. With the arrival of Child #4, she veered toward the dark side and an HR career. Following a daring daytime escape to England, she’s lived in a medieval castle and a hobbit house with her prince-of-a-guy and the World’s Most Spoiled AussieDog. Now all her days are Saturdays, and she spends them traveling around the world, plus consulting with her daughter on Marvel heroes, Null City, and translating from British to American.




Round Trip Fare RWA Contest Finalist 2015Was it wrong that shooting people was so much easier than finishing up the humanities requirements for her criminal justice degree? Carey Parker sipped her coffee and—not for the first time—wondered about herself. But the Agency said this would be an easy one. A quick pickup and she wouldn’t even have to shoot anybody. Probably.

There were two distinct advantages to her corner table at the rear of the self-consciously artistic coffee shop on the edge of Seattle’s eclectic Fremont district. Nobody could see her screen, and—infinitely more important—she had sole possession of the outlet currently charging both iPad and phone. She checked her iPad’s video screen to make sure the blonde teen she was tracking still had no idea she was being studied. Well, okay—studied along with the research materials for Carey’s overdue Humanities 201 essay. “Discuss the relationship of capitalism and patriarchal post constructivist theory. Provide data and cite literature supporting your thesis.” She squinted at the assignment, minimized to parallel the video window, and cringed.

Enlarging the video, Carey automatically evaluated her target. The teenager was a few inches under Carey’s own five-five. But where Carey’s cargo pants and hoodie hid a leanly muscled frame and a surprising number of weapons, the other girl’s designer Goth outfit made the most of her soft curves. Plus that pink streak in the younger girl’s hair was a little too shiny, her dark eyeliner a bit too creamy, while her wannabe goth leather jacket, fitted black T-shirt, and long dark skirt screamed Nordstrom personal shopper and Daddy’s credit card.

A lifetime of training—three years at the Academy, four more in the field—and they send me after Goth-Barbie. Carey sighed. Is it even worth it? But a flash memory—her guardian Harry’s blood-drenched golden hair, the almost-forgotten faces of her murdered parents, her missing brother and sister—stopped her. If she had a prayer of finding Gaby and Connor, she couldn’t afford to give up the all-important info access the Agency jobs provided. And then there was…him. For the past two months, the dark stranger had persistently edged his way onto the mental game board behind her eyelids where her harmonia gift visualized connections only she could view. Whatever trouble Mr. Six-Feet-Plus of arrogance is selling, I’m sure not buying.

“Excuse me. Do you need both outlets?”

Carey looked up to see the blonde standing in front of her, expectantly holding up her power cord. “Yes.” She returned her focus to the iPad screen, ignoring the muttered “bitch” as the girl went over to try her smile on the men two tables over. Her reversed video window showed the younger girl breathlessly thanking the man who leaped to free up an outlet for her. As she leaned over their table, the men’s eyes lit with appreciation for the way she maximized scoop-neck T-shirt, youth, and the best technology the foundations industry had to offer. Guess there’s all kinds of ways to say thank you.

Shrugging, Carey returned to her own essay assignment. Her business partner, Marley, was pushing her to finish the degree that would let them bill the Agency at a higher rate. But at twenty-four Carey felt a generation older than her fellow students. With her erratic hours, she had to take classes offering online options whenever possible, so she was currently sentenced to Humanities 201: Postmodernist Applications for Economic Themes in Literature.

“What took you so long? I’ve been waiting here for ages.”

At the sex-kitten whine, Carey’s eyes flicked back to the little video window to see the other girl pouting up at a new arrival. But her complaints didn’t stop her from giving the young man—a boy, really, although Marley’s data sheet said he was nineteen—a thorough tonsil cleaning. Pulling away, he threw himself into a dramatic slouch across the next chair, giving Carey her first good look at him. He was thin, but more like an adolescent whose slender arms and legs had yet to develop a man’s solid outlines. His pale fallen-angel face sulked behind long hair too carefully slashed and tossed over one eye to be accidental. He looked, Carey thought, beautiful and brooding and more than a little stupid. Score!

Pretending to check her phone, Carey took a quick picture of the boy and texted it along with the address of the coffee shop. It had only been a few days since he’d left home and stopped showing up at his classes or part-time job. Too little time for the police to be concerned, but long enough for his frantic parents to agree to her search fee. Setting the phone aside, she adjusted her video window to give him a critical once-over. But he didn’t seem any more pale or unhealthy than would be explained by devotion to the laptop he was even now pulling out and opening.

“Get me a coffee?” He didn’t look up from his laptop as he spoke. The girl pouted again but bounced off. Returning with a cup for each of them, she leaned forward to lay a gentle hand on his arm. “Is your poem cycle done yet?” The boy shook his head impatiently, fingers tapping at his laptop’s keyboard. She smiled. “Don’t worry. Now that I’m here, it will go so much better.” He blinked, and shivered. She breathed in and smiled again. His typing increased, his face intent on the screen.

Carey flipped the cover down on her iPad, rewound its power cable as well as the one for her phone, and stored them in their specially padded—okay, armored—case. The Apple people had been incredibly nice about that last bullet incident, but she could just hear Marley explaining, again, how their little company couldn’t afford to keep buying her new iPads. Setting the case into the backpack hanging behind her corner chair, Carey leaned both elbows on the table, peering over the brim of her raised coffee cup. Excellent coffee, she decided. Wonder if they roast it themselves?

Finally the two men, the only other customers in the secluded rear room, stood up and left. She took a final look around at the coffee shop’s rear seating area—one door, no windows or other access—and left to talk to the barista in the front room of the coffee shop. Twenty dollars later, Carey taped a handwritten sign—“Rear room reserved for private meeting”—to the outside of the door. Stepping back inside the room, empty now except for the younger couple, she closed the door behind her and stopped in front of the boy.

“Your mother is worried about you, Will.” His automatic sneer came a fraction too late to cover his stunned expression. Before he could speak, she turned to the girl. “It’s time to go, Leigh Ann.”

“The name is Leannán.”

Carey laughed. “Well, Leannán Sí…” She pronounced each Gaelic syllable with exaggerated care, L’ann-AN Shee. “Since you refuse to honor the Accords Agreement, the Council feels it’s time for you to go to Null City. Let’s go. I have a class this afternoon, and I don’t want to be late again.”

The boy started to stand, trying to look tough, but only managing to achieve the ferocity of a puppy protecting his favorite chew toy. “We don’t have to go anywhere with you. Get your stuff, Leigh Ann. We’re outta here.”

“Actually.” Carey’s voice was quiet. “You’re half right.” Her hand shot out and pressed his stomach. “You don’t need to go with me.” His breath whooshed out, and all three looked down at the tiny needle as she pulled her hand back. A moment later, his legs buckled, and Carey guided his falling body back down to his chair. He slumped there, head hanging awkwardly.

Leigh Ann stared from Will to Carey, eyes round. “Is he…?”

“He’s fine.” Carey turned to the girl and pointed to her corner table. “Sit. And don’t even think about talking.”

Carey checked the boy’s pulse and nodded to herself in relief. As a young witch, her friend Claire’s sleep spells wore off pretty quickly because she had to boil down the spelled water to make it take effect so fast. He’d probably just wake up with a hell of a headache. She arranged his head on his arms as if he was taking a quick nap in front of his laptop. In an afterthought, she picked up his fedora from the floor and pulled it onto his head, hiding his face.

Returning to the scowling girl at her table, she took a small book of forms from her backpack and started filling out the top page.

“You can’t just—” Leigh Ann sputtered.

Without looking up Carey showed her the hand. “What did I tell you not to do?” The girl fidgeted for another minute as Carey frowned at the form in front of her. Finally she looked up. “How old are you again?”

“Nineteen. And I don’t…”

Carey shook a warning finger without looking up. “I hate these Accords forms. You have to make sure you fill in every last blank or those badgers in accounting will hold up your check.” She made a final note, put the notebook away, and pulled out her phone to check the time. “They should be here by now. Must be that damn bridge traffic.”


Carey jerked her head toward the next table. “Sleeping Beauty’s parents. I’ve found it best to collect my fee on the spot. People’s memories tend to…fade…otherwise.”

“Wait.” Leigh Ann sounded indignant. “You were hired to find Will?”

“Nah, he was just a bonus. One of his friends told the Agency that he’d disappeared with a Leannán Sí. I used him to find you because I have an authorized ARC warrant for you.”


“Accords Recovery and Capture.” When the girl still looked confused, Carey sighed. “Amateurs. I’m an Accords Warden licensed for paranormal recoveries, and I’m serving an ARC warrant in your name. That reminds me.” She rooted through the pocket of her backpack for the laminated card and set her phone camera to video. Centering the camera view screen on Leigh Ann’s face, she pushed record, and began to read the card. “By the authority of Accords Agency warrant number 110309A57, I charge you, Leigh Ann—” Pausing, she looked over to the form she’d filled out before returning to the card. “—Leigh Ann Shay, a practicing Leannán Sí, to accompany me to the Council Headquarters. If you request a hearing, you are entitled to representation. Otherwise, you are sentenced to five years of Null City residency without an amnesty day. This recovery and your rights are specified in Amendment 3, sections 7-18 of the Accords Agreement of 1998. The current time is 15:57 on March 7, 2011. Carey Parker, Accords Adjunct Warden License 07823 class 3, submitting authorized Accords Recovery and Capture statement.” She turned off the camera and played back the recording. Satisfied, she uploaded it to Agency servers, put her phone and the card back into her backpack, and faced the girl.

Leigh Ann looked uncertain. “Null City?”

Carey looked at her curiously. “You don’t know about the City?”

“Yeah, and I know about the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny too. Come on. You really believe there’s a city you get to on a magic train, and after a day there you become a normal human?”

“Since my family founded it, yeah. I kinda do believe it.” She leaned back in her chair to consider the teenager in front of her. “You could have killed that boy, Leigh Ann. What could be worth his death?”

The girl widened soft blue eyes at her. “I’m a Leannán Sí. He’s a writer, and I would have given him an intense, brilliantly inspired life of creating masterpieces. So what if it would have been a short one? It’s got to be better to go as a blazing star than stay as a…” Her voice trailed off as a snore filtered from beneath the fedora.

“Did you give him a choice? Did you say to him, ‘Will, I’ll be your muse and give you lots of coffee-shop kissing although the actual sex won’t be that great, and there’s the whole die young thing… But you won’t mind because it will all be for your Art’?”

Leigh Ann frowned. “The sex wouldn’t have been that bad.”

Carey snorted. “And actually, that masterpiece he was producing?” She reached over to snag Will’s computer and pulled it around to face Leigh Ann. “First thing I did was put a keystroke tracker onto his laptop. And believe me, reading that drivel was almost as bad as my humanities essay. He copied most of it from last month’s Poetry!Slam online. Here’s what he was actually writing.” She selected Recent Documents on the laptop and opened the top file listed.

The younger girl’s eyes widened. “Fanfiction?” She peered at the screen and looked like she might be sick. “One Direction fanfiction?”

“Nothing wrong with fanfiction.” Carey raised an eyebrow. “We’ve all done it. But Will’s was…” She shuddered. “Really, really bad.” She looked curiously at the younger girl and waved at the snoring boy. “Why did you do it?”

Leigh Ann looked down at her clasped hands. “My parents were killed just before the war ended. When Haven and Gifts signed the Accords in 1995, I was sent to live with my father’s cousins. They had a little apple orchard up on the Olympic Peninsula, and there wasn’t much money. Everyone had to work pretty hard all the time, just to get food to eat and a few clothes. But I knew there was something different inside me. Something that would inspire beauty and genius and glorious creativity.”

Carey stared at her. “Well, that’s an entire pickup truck full of prime-quality manure.”

“Was it the farm?” Leigh Ann frowned. “The orphan bit?

Adapt or Die

I’m going through another learning curve, or two or three.

You know how I feel about the happiness engineers at WordPress. I’m still bitter over the whole blue screen thing and how it’s complicated the manner in which I get in and out of my nice, familiar, professional editor. Well, obviously, they aren’t the only ones who get paid to figure out how to “fix” things.

I updated to Windows 10 a while back and that wasn’t too bad of an adjustment. It scares me a little. My computer has become a bit more animated and interactive. Little windows pop out to distract and let me know what’s going on elsewhere and it’s a little disconcerting that it knows more about what’s going on than I do.

Finding my new pic files has become a chore the way it stores, so I’m fumbling around a lot. (This is so telling…I’m a bit embarrassed to share.) Nothing seems to be where I put it. All of the pretty little boxes on the explorer are wasted on me.

not my computer

Yesterday, the RS decided I needed to update Office and Outlook from 10 to 13…he runs 16 and assures me that I’m not ready for that. I was doing okay with it until I opened a pre-existing Word file (my beloved ms) and it wouldn’t let me proceed. It said I had updated the file too many times for the terms and conditions of the Microsoft agreement and needed to re-register. WTF? Never heard of such. Of course I never read that agreement. That took a phone call to resolve…even for the RS.

When I finally got inside the file I was relieved to see that it was okay, but I opened my original edit file from my editor and nearly freaked out. Thank goodness we didn’t perform these changes in the middle of my edit…all the ways Word 13 tracks changes is so very different from the way 10 did it, I would have been lost and fuming. Heaven help me in the future. Maybe there’s just more to tweak, but all the little red lines on the left side confused me…and when I clicked on them, weird things happened, and it just made it seem like a lot more work. Too many clicks needed to get the manuscript looking like it was supposed to. And the comment bubbles are different. I was so confused I just had to close it and say a prayer.

When I was working in Nursing I adapted to change constantly without problem. It went with the job. Every day there were new meds, procedures, skills, people. I thought writing would remain rather stagnant and I could simply relax and write…but no.

And then there are changes to Outlook, so my mail….sheesh, my mail. The blocks were so big I had to scroll through paragraphs, cursing all the while, until the RS decided to come rescue me and change all my settings and tweak everything until we got it looking as close to normal as we could. Thank goodness for knights in shining armor. I have three major email accounts, so he had to process the same changes in all three, and my many folders were safe.

What’s next?

Am I the only one who freaks out whenever forced to adapt or die?

Cover Reveal and Pre-Order The Playground by C.S. Boyack

A splendid storyteller, Craig Boyack is a prolific writer. He has one of the most creative minds I have come across. His work, while all well-crafted, is not genre specific. He is able to develop interesting concepts into fascinating stories that defy genre conventions. One of my favorite categories on his blog is the Idea Mill, where he shares unusual research tid-bits and then develops ideas for mini short stories from what he has gleaned. I invite you to follow his blog and check out his latest novel creation.

Introducing The Playground
The Playground

The hottest toys of the Christmas Season are the Playground Network dolls. They contain a worldwide social network for children. Except, the network is controlled by a ruthless businessman with dreams of power.

To reach his goals he turns to the occult. Will our children make up his personal army? Could we have an enemy soldier in every home?

Gina Greybill is a cancer survivor who stumbles into her own brush with the paranormal. She wants nothing to do with it, but may be the only one who can bring down the Playground Network. To do it she’ll have to embrace her new situation, and recover the next generation of Playground software.

There is competition for the software in the form of a brutal thug named Clovis. He’s bigger, more ruthless, and more experienced. To top it all off, he has a head start.

The Playground is suitable for more mature readers, due to violence and mature themes.

You can pre-order this book by clicking Here!


I was born in a town called Elko, Nevada. I like to tell everyone I was born in a small town in the 1940s. I’m not quite that old, but Elko has always been a little behind the times. This gives me a unique perspective of earlier times, and other ways of getting by. Some of this bleeds through into my fiction.

I moved to Idaho right after the turn of the century, and never looked back. My writing career was born here, with access to other writers and critique groups I jumped in with both feet.

I like to write about things that have something unusual. My works are in the realm of science fiction, paranormal, and fantasy. The goal is to entertain you for a few hours. I hope you enjoy the ride.



Follow my blog:

Check out my novels here:




On Goodreads:



The Travelers

Nearly twenty years ago I packed everything I owned into a little 1989 Chevrolet Cavalier and said good-bye to my family in Georgia. There were tears in my eyes as I looked in the rearview at Small Town, U.S.A and my stomach felt as if a gymnast had taken up residency. I was leaving everything I had ever known to be familiar.

I won’t go into the reasons why I had to move on, but I had five-hundred miles and eight hours in front of me to reach my destination. When I arrived at my new home in Florida, I parked my car under the Spanish moss draped oaks and walked past the bromeliads blooming phallic red and purple plumes along the path. A giant luminescent-green grasshopper and dozens of tiny yellow frogs greeted me at the door. The house was empty and the only sound came from a clock ticking on the wall. That sound would be my greatest comfort for the next three years.

I spent those three years writing poetry, painting pictures, and learning the computer. There was a huge void in my soul that has not entirely dissipated in all these twenty years. And yet, I thought of the immigrants who left behind their world in search of a better life worlds away and felt truly blessed. But my plight was trivial by comparison.

I had family here. I had a career that promised a means of self-support. I had shelter. I had food. And I didn’t need clothing; after all, my landing place was a nudist community. But it WAS as if I had dropped off the edge of the earth onto another planet.

We are all travelers. It’s not enough to think of our ancestors who came to this country in search of a better life. It’s not enough to think of our ancestors who slaved, and fought wars to secure their new homeland. We need to embrace those who seek refuge within our borders today. We share one world.

The Statue of Liberty is most often associated with immigration. Many did come through Ellis Island on their way here, and many of us, including my own children, would not be here today if that had not happened. It’s a symbol of hope and new found freedom.

There are others, though, who came on slave ships, crossed dangerous deserts, drifted through the perilous seas to make their way here. They weren’t promised freedom and were abused and mistreated. They labored and lobbied their way to freedom, and still do. They are us, too.

While I commend anyone for trying to access legal citizenship in this country, I recognize, also, how nearly impossible and time-consuming our bureaucracy has made the process. I have friends here and across the States who have been working for decades to achieve what we take for granted.

The hate spewing memes and posts circulating social media spitting bile at illegal aliens and undocumented workers make me ashamed to be an American. Talk of building walls, deporting all members of a religious faith, and killing women and children make me nauseous. And the comments under these posts make me cringe. Have we no social conscience? Have we really forgotten who we are?

There’s a man who sculpts statues that seem to make the Statue of Liberty such a small thing by comparison. His name is Bruno Catalano, and like the designer of the Statue of Liberty, he is a native of France. A fascinating series of sculptures called “Travelers” depict people setting out on their journey with suitcase in hand and the center of their bodies missing. It’s as if that hole is their lost self, and they’ve set out to rediscover it. I’d like to leave you with his images of who we are:

The Travelers


Bruno-Catalano-1 Bruno-Catalano-17-600x900



catalano-bruno1455537462 - Copycatalano-bruno1406794705

Images are from Bruno Catalano and you can see more of his work at this link.


Unquiet Mind of a Writer In-between

I never post this late at night, but the RS is out in California, I’m bored, and I have an unquiet mind.

I’m trying really hard to be patient with this querying process. Having worked on Naked Alliances for two years, you would think that another span of time wouldn’t make much difference, and yet it does.

I had myself psyched up to self-publish. So much energy goes into that process. So many rewrites and revisions, edits and proofs accomplished. My beta readers, author friends, editor, and blog readers have supported me through the book building process and shared in my trials and tribulations along the way.

Holding a book cover contest at 99Designs with 117 entries…getting them to turn the corner from hard core graphics to a light touch of humor without going overboard into comedic took weeks. Finalizing and purchasing a cover image with a few more tweaks from the designer and I felt I was good to go. The ms needed formatting with a TOC and fleurons for scene breaks. I had someone set to get the work done.

Now, all that effort might have been for naught. If I can get an agent for this work, the agent still has to sell it, and the buyer may (most likely will) want an entirely different cover.

I was all set to have the cover image imposed on a Facebook and Twitter banner and revved up to keep the momentum going for the book’s release. I haven’t been posting heavily since my father died, but I have been writing some posts in reserve for a blog tour that I had planned to initiate. Of course, without knowing what the cover will look like if the book is picked up, that’s all on hold.

Recently, I read a post on Janet Reid, Literary Agent’s blog wherein she explained to another reader that, “Publishing works on a long lead time. Right now, I’m selling books in to Fall 2017 catalog and Winter 2018 lists. You’ve missed the window completely for Fall 2016.”

My heart sank a few feet. Really? That long?

So, even if my agent partner (which I don’t have yet) and I found a publisher today (Haha!), Naked Alliances may not see the light of day for another year or two? Ouch!

Tonight I received my query response from Ms. Reid: “Right now my list is very full, and I’m fortunate that business is very good so I have to pass on projects that are not only good and publishable, but ones I really like. I strongly encourage you to query widely. Other agents have more room on their lists and are able to take on more than I can. Please think of this as redirection to another agent, not a rejection.”

Well, it might be a bit generic, but it was pleasant enough not to make me cry. Knowing that she has a reputation for calling out folk when things are really rotten, I’m taking this as a win 🙂

Trying to stay in the positive, I’ve read over the fleshed-out outline of Book Two in The Naked Eye Series and feel confident that I can have the first draft completed by late-June. Sooner if we weren’t heading off for a couple of weeks to Anna Marie Island in April.

I’m reading now and don’t like to read and write at the same time. When I do, I find myself distracted from having too many stories going on in my head. I have a few novels I want to get through over the next couple of weeks. Next Friday I have a minor surgery and won’t be back at the keyboard for a couple more weeks, except for brief posts and book reviews.

Keeping the Faith!

Me: Then and Now, Opinions Sought

I’m going to be shifting some things around on the blog soon. I had a fun photo shoot recently and I think it’s time to update. The pic in my side-bar was taken nearly ten years ago. A lot can change in ten years.

Here’s a comparison of now and then. I had the blond pic on FB and never changed it until I got my hair cut recently. Beneath all the blond lay the gray. I’ve argued with my hairdresser about the gray. Part of me wants to embrace my age gracefully and the other part of me refuses. Should I blond up my top knot? it seems awful dark to me having been blond for so long.

Out of two-hundred and sixty pics, I’m thinking of this one for the side-bar. What do you think? Should I crop it for a head shot or put it up as is?  Would you go with a broad smile or a slight smile?



I decided to stick with the aloha shirts as they are an integral part of who I am and professional attire seemed stuffy. I’m just not the least bit stuffy. BTW, the necklace is the Cypress Cove logo. I wish it showed better in the pics. I love the vibrancy of the colors in the last shot, but will it even matter if I crop it?


Let’s have some fun

Do you have a favorite book or movie line? Want to win a copy of a fun and entertaining book?

readful things blog

Drop a line in comments below and quote the most memorable line you can recall off the top of your head in a book or movie. Then you will be entered in to win a copy of “Crossing Bedlam” by Charles E. Yallowitz.

I will choose one lucky winner this weekend to receive their copy, I can only gift to US residents via Amazon, but everyone is welcome to play just for the fun of it. Help out an author and share this post if you have a chance. Book details below .


Available HERE

The United States of America has been crippled. Violently contained by a global military force and left without its leaders, the country has become shattered and chaotic. A decade has passed since the first strike and a new landscape has emerged where survival is more important than anything else. Who will uncover the…

View original post 116 more words

Second Guessing Myself: For Better or Worse


A week has passed since we returned from Sleuth Fest. The excitement is slowly ebbing away and I’ve begun to start all of the second guessing.  Why do we do that?

Go confidently into your dreams!

Yeah, yeah, yeah…I know the “experts” tell us that we are supposed to exude confidence on our marketing platform, but this started out as a blog to socialize and get to know readers and writers, and you’ve learned, by now, that I’m about as candid as they come.

I’m trying my best to stay positive, but Doubt, the raven, keeps flying around overhead. (Thanks a lot Craig. Could you keep him in Idaho for a couple of months?)

It’s not that I have no faith, it’s that I’ve been living on faith for a couple of years now.  My faith is much greater than my fear. And yet, I second guess myself.

I shouldn’t have repeated myself about my character’s dynamics. “I got that already,” the agent said. (ie. “Let’s not waste time here.”)

When asked about my experiences with the LGBT community. In my effort to avoid saying, “I have friends who are trans,” (You know, that’s like a white person saying, “I have friends who are black.”), I stumbled all over my experiences with the transsexuals I’ve known in hospital settings and their struggle with transition, both physical and psychological. I totally forgot to mention the joy we find at the Footlight Theater at the Parliament House. We have a large LGBTQ community here in Orlando and they are an integral part of my everyday life. I’ve heard their stories. We’ve laughed and cried together.

Stereotypes: There are so many negative connotations associated with that word. Why, oh why, did I mention stereotypes? You all know how I feel about stereotypes. I’ve written about them on this blog and in guest posts, and how we can use the hardwired images to introduce them, yet show how a person breaks out of the stereotype in our fiction writing, or by giving an antagonist a stereotypical thinking and showing how it contributes to his demise in the end. But did I really need to go there with an agent? Was what I was trying to say received clearly? IDK.

Okay, it was a short meeting, and he DID ask for the full manuscript, and I was thrilled.

I couldn’t decide whether to send the brief one page synopsis or the more detailed three page synopsis. I sent the detailed three page one to the agent who asked for the full manuscript, and both to the agent/editor who asked for partials. Have absolutely no idea why I did that. Probably should have sent the brief one to the one who asked for the whole manuscript, and the more detailed one to those who asked for partials.

And now I wait with the anticipation of a child at Christmas who has just been told, “There is no Santa Claus.”

We were told to expect anywhere from two weeks to three months to hear back from an agent, and yet, I find myself clicking send/receive a dozen times a day, just to see if, by chance, there is any word.

On the brighter side, in an effort to block my anxieties, I’ve thrown myself into reading. In as much as I’ve decided not to worry myself over Amazon’s review dropping, I’ll be posting some book reviews here in the near future. I’m reading both craft books and fiction.

Things are getting back to normal. There are a few diversions on my calendar; the grandbaby’s birthdays, a week-long trip to the Gulf Coast in April, another minor surgery (it sucks getting old), and I have a HUGE surprise to announce soon about something that will occur in August, if all goes well.

Have you ever second guessed yourself?

How did it turn out?