Can My Writing Be TOO Tight?


As writers, we’re frequently told to tighten our writing. It’s a common thing. I mean, how many of you have sat in a critique group and NOT heard that mentioned at least once? Believe me, tightening our sentences and paragraphs in general is a good thing. But can we do that to the point where it becomes a negative? Let me tell you about my first experience pitching to an agent.

I attended my first conference. I was so excited (and nervous). Despite the fact I didn’t know to sign up for agent appointments ahead of time, I snagged the last appointment on one of the agent’s agendas. Whew! One barrier crossed. Now cue the nerves. But I had been practicing my pitch, I’m really ready to go. And you know what? He liked my story. Truly. He was rather intrigued by my characters, their arcs, and the history I had pulled in. So he asked for me to send him the first however many chapters.

writing computerAnd I took the next day and poured over those chapters, making sure everything was how it should be. Hit “send”, breathe again. When he responded later that day, I got the most curious feedback I could have ever imagined: “Your writing is too tight.” What? Is that possible?

So, I call up my writing mentor…have you ever heard of this?…too tight? Nope. She’s got nothing. Never heard of that. I search the internet. Nothing. All I can find is “How to Make Your Writing Tighter”. What am I supposed to do with this feedback? How can I take this and improve if I don’t know what this could mean?

Fast forward to my next conference. I schedule appointments ahead of time (learned my lesson)…only this time, I scheduled a Mentor session first and an Agent session second. The Mentor read the same first page the first agent looked at. Her response? “I wouldn’t call it ‘tight’, I’d call it concise…and that’s not a bad thing. But as I went through it, I didn’t get a picture of what your main character looked like.”

Oh. So, I’ve tightened it to the point, I’ve left out some necessary description. Maybe that’s what that first agent meant. So, I take the manuscript, add in some description. Now I’m golden, right?

10K-Day-header-croppedWell…that’s not where this story ends. At some point I decide to do a 10K day. That means a LOT of writing, right? And at some point in the day, you get to a point where you let loose your internal editor and just write. And something clicked. As I’m writing that day, I found a rhythm to my writing that had not existed. And I discovered something. In my striving for tight writing, I had lost flow. There wasn’t the smoothness to the manuscript that should be there.

So, for me, I would say, that yes, there is such a thing as writing that is too tight. As a general rule, I would say newbie writers need to strive for more tight, concise writing. But the “sophomore” level writers out there, need to make sure they aren’t sacrificing a nice flow for the sake of tightness. There’s my two cents, for whatever that’s worth.

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FEATURED GUEST & GIVEAWAY: Author Jannette Spann

Welcome, everyone! Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving are having a not-so-crazy Black Friday. My blog is even having a Black Friday deal! A giveaway from my guest! I have fellow Clean Reads author Jannette Spann with me today, talking about her novel, Right time for Love. (You’ll find the details for the giveaway below.) So, without further ado, let’s jump in with Jannette.

jannettespannWelcome, Jannette! It’s always a pleasure to have a fellow Clean Reads author. First, can you tell us a little about your novel?

Brandy Wyne’s future includes an old house with plumbing problems, a new job, and caring for her mother who has suffered a stroke. Gavin Wilkin has increased his Grandpa’s plumbing business to twice its original worth, but the old man’s got a hot lady friend with greedy hands. How can he convince his grandpa of what she’s after without hurting him? Added to his problems is the responsibility of caring for his seven-year-old niece for the summer. Brandy can’t afford the plumbing repairs she needs, and Gavin can’t find a sitter for his niece. Ever heard of the barter system?

Interesting. What was the inspiration for Right Time for Love?

We’ve all heard about the proverbial crack that a lot of plumbers show when they’re down on their knees working under a kitchen sink. Well…my adult son was in that position fixing my drain when I noticed his shirt remained neatly tucked in at the back of his waist. That was my ‘what if’ moment. ‘What if’ my heroine calls the plumber (of course he’s got to be young and hot) and gets caught trying to see the proverbial crack? Throw in a precocious seven-year-old, plus the humorous side of some serious medical problems, and I was off and running. As you can see, it doesn’t take much to inspire me with a plot line.

I know that’s true. Give a writer a kernel of inspiration and we’re cooking up a whole novel. Did you always want to be a writer? If not, what did you want to be when you were a child?

Not always, there was a time when I wanted to be a beach bum. Come to think of it, that ideal still appeals to me.

Isn’t that the truth! When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

That didn’t occur until fourth-grade. A student reader came to our classroom each afternoon and read from, “The Adventures of the Camp Fire Girls”. The stories were so real to me that I could almost smell the forest. That’s when I decided that I’d someday writes stories like those.

I love it! And I know we all love making magic like that happen. But it’s not all magic. There are parts of the process we don’t like so much. What part of the writing process do you dread?

Conflict. Just look around and there’s problems everywhere, but it’s hard for me to pinpoint one that I can sustain throughout the entire story and then bring to a happy conclusion. In my own life, I’ve never been a drama queen. I’m a peaceful person and avoid conflict whenever possible.

I agree. I dread conflict in real life…and bringing it to the page can be challenging. Can you tell us something about your newest release that is NOT in the blurb.

There’s an entire neighborhood of unique people introduced, one of which will be the heroine in a manuscript I’m in the process of plotting.

One last question before we dive into Right Time for Love. Do you have any current projects your working on? Care to share?

I had a full manuscript request from a publisher for the first book in my new ‘Home to the River’ series, and I’m currently working on the 2nd book in the series.

Wonderful! Best of luck with that! Thank you so much for being on my blog today and for talking with us!

Right Time for Love


Enjoy an Excerpt

He eased into Brandy’s drive, looking forward to spending time alone with her. An hour in her company never failed to relieve his stressful day, but when she came off the porch and headed his way, the frown was less than welcoming.

“I’ve got a problem,” she said, the moment his door opened.

“Join the rest of us.”

“I’m serious.” Brandy remained hot on his heels, following him around the truck.

He shoved his cap back. It didn’t matter if he was fed up and bone weary, she wasn’t relenting. “Okay, Brandy. What did she do?”

“Lily said she wants me to be her mother.”

He stopped, glancing back over his shoulder. “What brought that on?”

“I’m not sure. We were playing dress up, and I’d done her makeup and hair. Then out of the blue, she threw her arms around my neck and said she wanted me for a Mama!”

“What did you say?”

“That she has a mother.”

Gavin picked up the shovel and pickaxe, and headed toward the house. Ordinarily he’d use the backhoe and be done in a day, but he needed this job to last as long as possible, or at least until Paul and Clarice got back. Spending time with Brandy was icing on the cake—sometimes.

She grabbed his arm. “What am I supposed to do?”

“How should I know?”

“Well, you’re her uncle. They made you the guardian.”

He walked on. “They gave me guardianship, but they didn’t leave instructions on how to raise her. Besides, you’re the school teacher, you should know this stuff.”

“Well, I don’t!”

“Sounds like you need to get busy then.”


He pivoted, finding her right behind him, fists balled on her hips and fire in her expression. “Oh, all right, but it’s going to cost you.”

A suspicious gleam entered her eyes. “Just what’s that supposed to mean?”

“I’ll make a deal with you.”

She kicked at the grass. “That’s how I got into this mess in the first place.”

He laughed for the first time since he’d kissed her that morning. “I’ll straighten this out with Lily, if you’ll go to the zoo with us on Sunday.”

“Nothing else?” Her stance relaxed, and the cheeky grin went straight to his heart. “The zoo sounds like fun. But I’m not sure, it’s according to how Mom’s feeling.”

“Can you get Mrs. McGuire to stay with her?”

“I guess.” She hesitated. “Why don’t you and Lily go to church with us? We’ll come back here to eat lunch, and I’ll talk to Mrs. McGuire.”

He planned to attend church anyway, so if going with Brandy would guarantee him her company for the entire day… plus lunch… How could he go wrong?

Buy Links


Barnes & Noble



More About the Author

Jannette lives in northwest Alabama and writes Sweet Southern Romance with a Sense of Humor. Her books are about small towns and regular folks (you may find someone you think you know) with problems everyone can relate too. Depending on the season, whenever she writes, there’s always a cup of hot coffee or an ice-cold glass of sweet tea sitting beside her computer.

Connect with Jannette and Her Books





The Giveaway

Jannette will be giving away one e-book or PDF copy of Right Time for Love (winner’s choice) to one selected winner chosen from those who comment on this blog post between Friday, November 25th and Monday, November 28th (by 11:59pm CST). Please feel free to ask questions, comment, or answer this question:

What did you want to be when you were young? Are you living that dream?

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FEATURED GUEST: Author Andy Lewter

12967515_1684061061832663_5189089321656162740_oToday I am hosting another Clean Reads author, Andy Lewter! She has just released the third book in her Valens Series. Welcome, Andy! First, tell us a little about your novel.

It is an urban fantasy novel that is captivating, suspenseful, and unpredictable! Need I mention a love triangle?

I love a good love triangle! I know this is a “give me” question for writers, but when did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

I knew I wanted to be a writer when I was in the 4th grade. Every day, we had 45 minutes to write whatever we wanted, so long as we wrote the whole time. It was empowering and my love for literature blossomed since.

What a neat way to get kids started in the craft of writing. Glad you found your passion. But, as we know, it’s not all fun…what part of the writing process do you dread?

Plotting. I plot, then replot. Then question the plot some more. Which is why my books are so fast-paced and suspenseful. I yearn to be on the edge of my seat as I’m reading, so I strive to achieve that in my books.

Speaking of being on the edge of your seat as you’re reading…what are you currently reading?

The Premonition Series by Amy A Bartol

One thing that helps get me in my writing groove is the right music. What kind of music, if any, do you listen to when you write?

It depends on where I’m at in the book. If my character needs to be angry, I pull up a soundtrack of thunderstorms. If romance is involved, I listen to Pandora. It ranges according to my mood as well.

Do you have a favorite time of day to write? What about a favorite place?

Hands down, at night in my bed!

I’m always curious about other authors and the time they put into their art. How long does it take you to write a book?

About a year. I have little kids that need attention during the day. Plus, it’d be hard to be in the heat of a moment and have to file it away for a time I’m more readily available. I’d rather tap into writing mode when there’ll be no distractions.

I totally understand. I have littles too. It’s tough finding that undisturbed time. One last question, Andy, then I’ll let you get back to those kiddos 🙂 Tell us something about your newest release that is NOT in the blurb.

It is the final installment of my trilogy – definitely the most anticipated one of them all! There’s closure of all sorts, and the action and suspense is on full force.

Thanks again for being on my blog today, Andy, and for sharing about your release!




War was imminent, and Abigail Everett knew it.

Struggling to gather allies while afflicted with significant losses, she’s forced to step forward as the rightful leader of Valens. Between training with recently enhanced abilities, deliberating the next move toward freedom, and determining where her future lies, time grows desperately short as the enemy closes in.

Will she gain the upper hand before it’s too late?

Enjoy an Excerpt

I peered into the eyes I felt like I’d known my whole life. Our bond was undeniable, and I knew I loved him, but a pair of emerald green eyes pierced through my thoughts. I pursed my lips and swallowed hard. “But Miles.”

Nicholas’ features dropped into an emotionless expression. I could see his mind calculating his next words, and I placed my hands on my hips while I waited. “Sometimes love isn’t meant to be forever.”

Buy Links




More About the Author

Andy is an urban fantasy/fictional writer that loves a healthy dose of character development. She’s a true Potter-head with a deep love of nature, cooking, and comfy clothes. Rain storms and movies are the key to her heart, and you can find her chasing around her kids during daylight hours. Mom by day, Author by night, Superhero 24/7.

Connect with Andy Lewter and her books





SPOTLIGHT: Lora Palmer’s “The Mirror Masters”

Hello, all! I hope everyone is enjoying the weather and getting their word counts in (for those of you participating in NaNoWriMo). Today, I get to introduce you to another book by fellow Clean Reads author, Lora Palmer. This book takes me back to my first love – science fiction. It sounds intriguing. But don’t take my word for it, check it out:

The Mirror Masters


Leah Ellis never knew why she was found abandoned on the beach at two years old. Content with her adoptive family and small town life, she hadn’t thought much about it over the years. That is, until her life takes a bizarre turn when she begins seeing images in mirrors she can’t explain–cloaked figures using powers that manifest like lightning bolts, or flash-frozen beaches on another world beneath a purple sky.

She practices mirror-gazing, driven to understand these images and their possible connection to her forgotten past, and discovers that it’s kind of addictive with its wild, boundless power coursing through her veins. Soon, she learns to control what the mirror shows her.

When new neighbors move in, Leah is shocked that they’re dead ringers for the people in her visions. According to Brian, with the gorgeous ice-blue eyes, and his father, she is a MirrorMaster–an alien with a gift that lets her travel through mirrors, even to worlds light years away. Her birth parents sent them to take her from Earth back to her homeworld of Jantyr, a planet she doesn’t remember. They’ve searched for her ever since she disappeared.

But Leah’s long-lost birth sister, a sorceress, activated an ancient device to trigger a cataclysm on Jantyr as a bid to consolidate her own power. Leah must return to Jantyr, master her newfound ability in order to locate and wield crystals that will disable the device, and thwart her sister’s plans. Otherwise, the destruction will consume the entire galaxy, including Earth and everyone she loves.

Enjoy an Excerpt

Strange things happen in Sea Cliff Heights every single year on this date, June 15th. Mysterious pulses of light flickered in the forest. Not-quite-solid figures appeared in the cemetery one second and disappeared the next. All day, I couldn’t shake the intuition that this year would bring something much worse than the usual weirdness, much worse than the usual gibes about how it began thirteen years ago, the same night my parents found me abandoned on the beach.

“Let’s watch something light — not a horror movie,” I said.

“Leah, Leah, Leah.” My brother David shook his head and scooted closer to Kara, my best friend, on their loveseat. They shared a conspiratorial grin. “Don’t tell me you want to watch some lame comedy when we can have a slasher fest. It’s tradition.”

A shiver raced down my spine at the mental image the idea conjured, one of chilling music, strangled sobs and hitching breaths, followed by silenced screams. Tonight also marked the town tragedy of the 1870s, when strangers murdered the Stanford twins, the mayor’s daughters. Of course David would insist we do something scary to commemorate the anniversary.

“Come on!” I shot him a pleading look. “I’m sure you breezed through exams, but I took three AP finals this week and fielded a million alien jokes today. Enough already — I deserve a break from crazy.”

“Just go out to the cemetery with us,” Kara said, her eyes sparkling. “We won’t do anything risky, I promise.”

Sure. Why wait for trouble to find us when we could seek it out and bring it right here?

Glancing out the sliding glass doors toward the church beyond, I couldn’t help checking for signs of unusual activity. My hands fidgeted, and I fought to still them. I thought I could just make out the sound of otherworldly voices speaking in urgent whispers outside. A gust of wind rustled the palm trees, obscuring any other noise and causing moonlight and shadows to flit across the lawn. Every muscle in my body tensed. Whatever might lurk out there, we’d be safer staying away from it.

Buy Links

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/MirrorMasters-Lora-Palmer- ebook/dp/B01EKZKP6E

Smashwords: https://www. smashwords.com/books/view/ 631608

Kobo: https://store.kobobooks. com/en-us/ebook/the-mirrormasters

ITunes: https://itunes.apple. com/us/book/the-mirrormasters/ id1109653965?mt=11

More About the Author

lora-palmerLora Palmer writes science fiction and fantasy for young adults. Bucks County, Pennsylvania is her home, where she resides with her wonderful husband and their mischievous cat. She has earned a graduate degree in Psychology and works at a local residential facility serving autistic children and teens. In her spare time, she also sings in a praise band, Chalice Sounds.

Connect with Lora

Website: http://lorapalmer. weebly.com

Blog   http://lorarpfictionblog. blogspot.com

Facebook https://www.facebook. com/Lora-Palmer-YA-Writer- 144172288935800/

Twitter @lorareedpalmer

Instagram: lorareedpalmer


SPOTLIGHT: Melanie Dickerson’s “The Silent Songbird”

Hello, all! As you know, last week I hosted one of my favorite authors. What a privilege! Well, this week, I am shining a spotlight on my other favorite author and her newest release. I have talked about Melanie Dickerson’s books before. You can read more here. But, I want to look at her most recent release, The Silent Songbird, a retelling of Hans Christian Anderson’s The Little Mermaid.

The Silent Songbird


Evangeline longs to be free, to live in the world outside the castle walls. But freedom comes at a cost.

Evangeline is the ward and cousin of King Richard II, and yet she dreams of a life outside of Berkhamsted Castle, where she might be free to marry for love and not politics. But the young king betroths her to his closest advisor, Lord Shiveley, a man twice as old as Evangeline. Desperate to escape a life married to a man she finds revolting, Evangeline runs away from the king and joins a small band of servants on their way back to their home village.

To keep her identity a secret, Evangeline pretends to be mute. Evangeline soon regrets the charade as she gets to know Wesley, the handsome young leader of the servants, whom she later discovers is the son of a wealthy lord. But she cannot reveal her true identity for fear she will be forced to return to King Richard and her arranged marriage.

Wesley le Wyse is intrigued by the beautiful new servant girl. When he learns that she lost her voice from a beating by a cruel former master, he is outraged. But his anger is soon redirected when he learns she has been lying to him. Not only is she not mute, but she isn’t even a servant.

Weighed down by remorse for deceiving Wesley, Evangeline fears no one will ever love her. But her future is not the only thing at stake, as she finds herself embroiled in a tangled web that threatens England’s monarchy. Should she give herself up to save the only person who cares about her? If she does, who will save the king from a plot to steal his throne?

Buy Links

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Silent-Songbird-Melanie-Dickerson-ebook/dp/B01CXE9L1O

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-silent-songbird-melanie-dickerson/1123515468?ean=9780718026318

Christianbooks: https://www.christianbook.com/the-silent-songbird-melanie-dickerson/9780718026318/pd/026318?event=ESRCN

iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-silent-songbird/id1092984343?mt=11

About the Author

melanie dickersonMelanie Dickerson is an award-winning author who earned her bachelor’s degree in special education from The University of Alabama. She has taught in Georgia, Tennessee, Germany and the Eastern European country of Ukraine.

A member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and Romance Writers of America (RWA), she now spends her time writing and taking care of her husband and two daughters near Huntsville, Alabama.

Connect with Melanie and Her Books

Website: www.melaniedickerson.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MelanieDickersonBooks

Twitter: https://twitter.com/melanieauthor

Google+: https://plus.google.com/108629842831555891515

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/MedievalMelanie


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FEATURED GUEST & GIVEAWAY: Bestselling Author Tamara Leigh!!!



It is my distinct privilege to welcome one of my favorite authors to my blog site today. (Excuse me while I “fan girl” over here for a minute.) I was introduced to this author’s work this summer when I attended two classes she taught at a local Writer’s Conference. Of course, I picked up a couple of her books. And fell in love with her writing. Her stories are compelling and engaging. And she has quite a command of the craft. But enough rambling. Please allow me to introduce Tamara Leigh!

Version 2Welcome, Tamara! Can you tell us a little about your novel being released later this month?

From the USA Today best-selling author of the acclaimed Dreamspell comes another medieval time travel romance set during the 15th century conflict of the Wars of the Roses. Lady Catherine Algernon, dreaming of her death at the hands of traitors, is stunned when a handsome stranger from the twenty-first century saves her life just as her nightmare is about to come true. Look for Lady Ever After in late November 2016.

I am excited! I just finished The Feud Trilogy and it had me from the beginning to the end! I imagine you had as much fun writing it as your readers did taking it in. But there’s bound to be something about the process you don’t enjoy as much. Is there something about the process that you dread?

The synopsis. Oh my goodness, the hair-pulling, nail-biting synopsis! I’m mostly a seat-of-the-pants writer, so building a story with enough detail to satisfy a publisher is incredibly painful. Fortunately—yay!—no synopsis necessary as an indie author. But there’s something nearly as difficult that I still have to tackle—the back cover copy. It can take days to get those 2-3 paragraphs right.

That is so true. Lots of coffee and some of restless nights to get that back copy. I can’t imagine having a best-selling author’s ear for an interview and not asking for some suggestions to help me become a better writer. What are your recommendations to those growing and learning, maybe even starting out?

Set aside a regular time to write a minimum of 5 days a week, even if only a half hour each day. Learn your craft by taking workshops, reading books on the writing craft, and joining organizations such as American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) that offer annual conferences and have local chapters in most cities. Oh, and read, read, read, particularly in the genre you’re writing. Osmosis!

On that note…what are you currently reading?

I’m reading Wine Of Violence: A Medieval Mystery by Priscilla Royal. Obviously, this selection is something of a hybrid read for me (pleasure and research). Though it took several chapters for the story to grab me, I’m enjoying it and look forward to the next book in the series.

Looking a little more to your process, let me ask: what kind of music, if any, do you listen to when you write?

I often start my mornings at Starbucks. Providing it’s relatively quiet, I write music-less, but when those caffeine-holics (what are they thinking!?) start pouring in, I drown out the noise with headphones that deliver inspiring, mood-appropriate instrumental music.

You are quite prolific! A fast reader like me loves that. How long does it take you to write a book?

On average, it takes 6 months to write an original story. My rewrites—the seven general market medieval romances published with Bantam and HarperCollins 1994 thru 2001—take 3-4 months to bring each one up to my current standards.

What about any current projects you’re working on? Care to share?

I’m gearing up to write the sixth book in my Age Of Faith series. Though it’s untitled, I’m finally giving readers the story they asked for—that of the wonderfully redeemed Sir Durand. Very excited!

Thank you again, Tamara, for visiting with us today and sharing some valuable insight! It’s really been a treat for me. Without further ado, let’s jump right in and check out Lady Ever After.

FINAL LEA eBook 05.26.16


Lady Ever After

Releasing later this month, Lady Ever After will be available on:




B & N

and Paperback

Please visit http://www.tamaraleigh.com/lady-ever-after to read more and to enjoy an excerpt!

More About the Author

Tamara Leigh is the USA Today bestselling, award-winning author of twenty-eight medieval and contemporary romance novels published with Bantam, HarperCollins, and RandomHouse since 1994. Tamara lives near Nashville with her husband, a Doberman who bares his teeth not only to threaten the UPS man but to smile, a German Shepherd who has never met a squeaker toy she couldn’t destroy, and a feisty Morkie who keeps her company during long writing stints.

Connect with Tamara & Her Books

Website ~ www.tamaraleigh.com

Facebook ~ https://www.facebook.com/tamara.leigh.50

Twitter ~ https://twitter.com/TamaraLeighAuth

The Giveaway!!!

Tamara Leigh has graciously offered 1 ebook copy of Lady Ever After to be gifted. All you have to do to enter is comment on this blog post. Qualifying entries will be taken November 11th – November 16th (11:59 p.m. CST), 2016. Please feel free to ask questions in the comments, make a comment, or answer this question:

If you were to time travel, what time period would you like to end up in?



NaNoWriMo Strikes Back!


Hey, all! I know, I know. It’s been a strange day on social media. A hard day for some. And I’m not trying to detract from the seriousness of the election, but I’m all like, now that it’s decided, let’s get back to NaNoWriMo…cause I’ve got a TON of words to do in less than a month.


For those of you who were following me last year about this time, you remember that it was the first time I participated in National Novel Writing Month. And I succeeded! But, whew, was it rough. Why do they put NaNoWriMo the same month as Thanksgiving, the month everyone is shopping for Christmas? I haven’t a clue. But they did. And accept the challenge, I have.

My WIP (Work In Progress)

This year, I am not starting a novel from scratch. I was about 20,000 words into a novel. Add 50,000 to that (the goal for NaNoWriMo) and you have 70K…the low average for historical fiction/romance. So, I decided to take on the NaNoWriMo challenge to add to this novel I had started.

It’s a story set in 1870s Arizona. A young woman, Amanda, has just lost her husband and is forced to make a marriage of convenience. Her new husband, a young rancher named Brandon, sought to merge her first husband’s small herd of cattle with his own, has a debt to the bank and a hard deadline in order to keep his flailing ranch. Will he make it? Or will all be lost to himself, Amanda, and her young son? What about the two of them? Will there be a second chance for Amanda to find lasting happiness with a man who may or may not be all he seems? What happens when Billy the Kid shows up in town and on the scene?

boromir-nanowrimoWhat about you?

Anyone else out there with me? Have you started writing a novel? Or working on something you already started? Are you signed on with the nanowrimo.org website or just doing it on your own? Regardless, I wish you high word counts, boundless inspiration, and restful sleep though the hours may be fewer.

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FEATURED GUEST: Author Lucie Ulrich

Hello! It is my great privilege to welcome a fellow author to my blog today! Author Lucie Ulrich is here to talk about her new release, The Starlight Inn. I know, some of you are not ready for Christmas yet, but some of us are. If I could, I’d be listening to Christmas music from September on, but my husband keeps that in check. And I do intend to write a Christmas novel or novella one day. But Christmas books are already hitting the shelves, so let’s take a moment to talk with an author who really knows…

lucieWelcome, Lucie! First, can you tell us a little about your novel.

It’s a contemporary romance that involves Christmas, a major snowstorm, mistletoe, a handsome innkeeper, a bit of family drama, and a little old lady by the name of Tillie who seems to always knows more than she should.

Those little old ladies! They always do seem to know more than they should… What was the inspiration for The Starlight Inn?

Christmas and my love for travel. My husband and I fell in love with Vermont about a dozen years ago. We stumbled on the charming town of Woodstock, and I could only imagine how magical it would be during the holidays. For years I’ve wanted to write a Christmas story, but there was always something else I needed to work on. This year I determined to make it happen.

Truly it is one of my goals (to write a Christmas story). But, like you, I am always on other projects. Who knew we’d get so caught up in other things? Glad you were able to make it happen. Did you always want to be a writer? If not, what did you want to be when you were a child?

Not at all. I wanted to be a pediatric nurse when I was young, but my older sister told me I’d be required to get all kinds of shots since I was around babies. That dream died a sudden death. Lol! As I got older, I decided I wanted to follow my father into the airline industry. I loved that job, and worked for 7 years until I gave birth to my first child. I became a stay-at-home mother for the next eighteen years.

That’s kind of where I am right now. And I love caring for my youngsters and learning all about this writing thing. But I have come to understand that there are parts of the process I love and parts I don’t love so much. What part of the writing process do you dread?

Promoting! I love the creativity of writing and developing characters. Editing can be tough, but the promotion aspect of this business is something I struggle with.

I will say “amen” to that! I just want to write the next book. But we have to keep an eye on promoting the last one. When you are writing, what kind of music, if any, do you listen to?

I don’t play music when I write. I do, however, have the TV on. Sometimes it’s muted and other times it’s not. All depends on my mood.

Do you have a favorite time of day to write? What about a favorite place?

I have a room set up just for me. I had a desk at one time, but found that I spent most of my time sitting on the couch. I use a laptop, and I’m most comfortable that way. I can write whenever, but tend to be most productive in the mornings.

I am still finding my groove I think. Every season produces a “new normal” for me. Every book even… How long does it take you to write a book?

It depends on the book—anywhere between six months and two years.

Do you have any current projects your working on? Care to share?

I just submitted a sequel to my book “The Rose Ring.” I hadn’t intended there to be a second book, but my readers asked for one. I honesty, I left the ending open to the possibility, though it was done unintentionally. In the end, I’m glad I wrote it. Now to hope it’s accepted. I’m also working on a sequel to Starlight Inn. I want to bring Tillie into other stories that take place in inns around the country.

Thanks so much for being here and talking with me. And, without further ado, let’s hear more about Lucie’s book!



The Starlight Inn

On her way to celebrate her birthday and Christmas with her family, Ella Dixon finds herself trapped in the middle of a blizzard. She seeks refuge at The Starlight Inn. Though the inn is full, an elderly guest offers to share her room. Accepting the kind offer, Ella soon realizes Tillie Spencer isn’t your average “little old lady.” She knows things nobody else does, and appears to come and go on a whim.

Nick Wallace runs the inn along with sister, Fran. The attraction Nick feels for Ella is instantaneous and unexpected, but with the miles that separate them, and both busy with their careers, Nick doubts much will come of their Christmas Eve meeting. Tillie, on the other hand, holds a much different view.

Though Tillie won’t admit to being an angel, Nick and Ella think otherwise. How else can they explain the twists and turns that started at The Starlight Inn.

Enjoy an Excerpt

Not wanting to interrupt her call, or worse, eavesdrop any further, Nick backed away from the door and waited for her to finish. The inflection and hurt in her voice filtered into the hall. From the bit of information he’d gathered, she was a Christmas baby.

He jumped when the door slammed with a bang. Now he didn’t know whether to knock again or come back later.

With all he had to attend to, there really wasn’t much of an option. He knocked and waited. Ella opened the door with a smile, though it didn’t come close to reaching her eyes. He smiled back. “I brought your things.”

“Thanks.” She reached for the handle and her hand brushed against his, sending a surge of electricity up his arm. Their eyes locked momentarily, but she didn’t hold the gaze. “What time is dinner?”



“Yes, please. The establishment frowns upon guests who dine without their clothes on.”

Ella looked up, a spark lighting her eyes, and a slip of a smile lifted the corner of her mouth. “Good to know. Allow me to rephrase. Should my attire be casual or dressy?”

“We don’t hold to a dress code, but most of our guests tend to range between formal and semi-formal.” He chuckled. “I gotta tell you, though, Tillie sets the bar pretty high. I can hardly wait to see what she wears this year.” He handed over the garment bag. “As for you, I’m guessing there’s some sort of party dress in there?”

Ella chewed the corner of her lip. “Let me guess. You overheard my conversation.”

“Just a small part. The door was ajar, and . . . ” He shrugged.

“It’s okay. I don’t blame Eva for being upset. This birthday was really important to her. If I hadn’t taken on so much work, I’d be in New York instead of here.”

“Wait. Your sister’s name is Eva, as in Eve, and yours is Noella, as in Christmas?”

“That’s what happens when your twin is born on Christmas Eve, you on Christmas Day, and your parents obviously have no imagination.” Ella hung the garment bag in the ornate armoire.

“I’m glad to learn I’m not the only one.”

Ella pulled her brows together in a frown. “Care to explain?”

“Believe it or not, I was born on Christmas day too, and my folks couldn’t think of anything more original than Nicholas.”

“As in Saint Nicholas?” She chuckled. “I hope I’m more creative, if and when the time ever comes for me to marry and have kids.”

Warmth filled Nick’s chest. She had just answered one of the many questions he had about her.

Buy Links


More About the Author

Lucie Ulrich is an award-winning author of inspirational fiction. Whether funny or serious, her books are filled with stories of faith, family, and forgiveness.

A former drama teacher and performing arts director, Lucie now enjoys going on photo shoots with her husband, and taking long (or short) road trips. She continues to find inspiration as she and her other half explore the four corners of The United States.

Connect with Lucie Ulrich

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/inspywriter

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LucieUlrich

Website: http://lucieulrich.com/

guest post


November has come! Hope you got all the treats you wanted last night (and no tricks). Today, I am welcoming fellow author J. L. Salter onto my blog. He’s here to talk about his newest release Size Matters. He is also offering a digital copy (Kindle only) of this novel (Size Matters). The winner will be determined by a drawing from those who leave comments on the day this post goes live (November 1st). So, before I start rambling, I’ll hand it over to him.

What I Wanted To Say…

As a kid, I saw the feature film Tom Thumb and I was transfixed. “How cool it would be,” I thought, “if you could REALLY become tiny and slip into places where nobody else can go… and nobody even knows you’re there.” Later on, I would see several of the popular sci-fic movies – starting with the Incredible Shrinking Man (from 1957, though I saw it later on TV) – which featured people (or creatures) becoming either tiny or gigantic. One movie, about Gulliver’s travels, had both — he was gigantic in one segment and doll-sized in another. One thing clear from all those films was that life is not a bowl of cherries when you’re pint-sized.

So in my story, I wanted to show the fun parts of being tiny… along with the difficulties and scariness. I also wanted to focus on the emotional aspects, including the oppressive fear that you might not be able to return to normal size. To keep everything moving along, I needed a bit of comedy (mostly from her neighbor and the neighbor’s boyfriend) and a nice portion of romance (from her hunky lawyer, Logan Stride).

I also wanted to focus (just a bit) on the prevalent notion that so many people seem so dissatisfied with the way they look — and want to look better, be taller (or shorter), lose weight, develop six-pack abs, have more dramatic cleavage, etc.

Furthermore, I wanted to say something about the dependence so many Americans have on daily maintenance medicines. It’s a miracle of modern medicine and visionary science that people have developed drugs which allow folks with horrible diseases to cope with their symptoms — and I certainly don’t case any aspersions on any of that life-saving, cutting edge treatment protocol. But I do read a lot about people getting hooked on daily maintenance doses of drugs which have stupefying side effects and may even make them sicker than the original condition for which they were seeking relief. And that’s what I touch on in part of my story.

But, my soap-boxing about Big Pharma aside, this story is entertainment. Fun to imagine what it would like to be tiny. And if you played with Barbie dolls as a child, I think you’ll especially enjoy how my heroine Emma Hobby interacts with the Cyndi dolls in her collection. And their clothes!

6b2b0212-2Thanks for such a fine introduction to your work! And for being on my blog today. First, can you tell us a little about your novel’s concept?

Accidentally swallowing a mysterious pill from her eccentric scientist cousin causes Emma Hobby to shrink to under a foot tall. When she resumes normal size, she must track down her cousin, who’s obviously in trouble (based on those crazy messages he sent). Can those sci-fi miniaturization pills help find him? How about Logan Stride, the attorney who wants to handle more of Emma than her case?

Intriguing. What a truly unique idea! What was the inspiration for Size Matters?

In my head as I awakened on Sept. 16, 2015, was the rough concept of a woman who discovers she can transform herself to the size of a fashion doll. The first time was accidental but she later realizes it could be useful to become “Barbie” sized — even though it could also be quite dangerous. The working title was “Being Tiny.”

It is interesting how and when inspiration hits. When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

If not before then, certainly by Third Grade. I was composing little rhymes and (short-short) “stories” before I reached Jr. H.S. By my sophomore year in H.S., I had a “real” story published in the school’s creative writing anthology and had begun writing “serious” poems. By my senior year, I had won a regional (university-sponsored) poetry contest and my winning entry was published on the front page of my hometown newspaper.

Wow! What a great start! I know there are parts of the process we as writers love and parts we tend to not love so much. What part of the writing process do you dread?

I love drafting, but really dislike editing, revising, overhauling, re-writing, etc. Oddly, however, I DO enjoy proof-reading.

Ah, I can certainly understand. I have places/times that I feel that I’m more able to focus and truly think I work more efficiently. Do you have a favorite time of day to write? What about a favorite place?

After I retired from librarianship, we moved (from LA to KY), and later built a house on my wife’s ancestral farm. That new house provided me with my own study/office… and that’s where I do most of my writing. Before I got involved with all the necessary networking and promotional efforts – through Facebook and Twitter, for example – I used to “write” in the mornings and late evenings. Now, however, it seems my mornings are sucked dry by networking, so I write mostly after supper.

You are not lying about that networking stuff. It can be a time drag! Especially when all I want to do is write, write, write. How long does it take you to write a book?

That depends a lot, of course, on the external distractions and commitments I have. Assuming my schedule has nothing unusual in it – beyond the several things which I do have to deal with each week – I can typically average between 2k – 3k words per day (on days I can write at all). Other than my first three novels, I believe the other 14 titles have each been drafted within some 6-8 weeks, typically. Of course, that first draft is usually pretty durn rough and needs a lot of work in round two.

One last question, then we’ll hear more about Size Matters! Can you tell us something about your newest release that is NOT in the blurb.

It took only 29 writing days to complete my first draft (about 44,000 words) of this story, though those days were distributed among just over seven calendar weeks. The longest stretch that I could NOT work on the story at all was six consecutive days. Highest daily output was nearly 7200 words on Oct. 4, 2015.

Thanks again for being on my blog today!


Size Matters

Emma Hobby mistakenly takes a pill from a bottle mailed her by her eccentric/brilliant cousin — and it reduces her to eleven inches tall. Now she’s eye to eye with the Cyndi dolls she collects and sells in her shop. Nobody – not even her best friend – believes her, so Emma takes another pill to see if it happens again. It DOES! This time she has a witness (Vickilee), who records things as they happen… and establishes a partial timetable.

Now that she thinks she knows what happens and when, can Emma use these pills somehow to help rescue her cousin? And will that handsome attorney she’s almost dating help her efforts? Or will Logan Stride just get in her way?

Enjoy an Excerpt

“What do you mean you were a foot tall?” asked my friend Vickilee, after I’d tearfully repeated what happened to me last night.
“As in literally,” I explained for the fourth time. “I was standing eyeball to eyeball with thirteen Cyndi dolls in my big display in the main room.” I live above my shop but had fallen asleep downstairs still wearing my traveling clothes.
Vickilee sat me down again — though I kept popping back up because I was too rattled to sit — and tried to pin me to her chair by pressing on both shoulders. “Now, start from the beginning, after you woke with the horrid migraine.”
This wasn’t helping. It was early Saturday morning, and I’d invaded Vickilee’s home, where her fiancé Brisco was loudly snoring in the back bedroom. “Maybe it was a mistake to come here. I’m sorry.” I tried to peel her hands from my shoulders so I could slink away into the Verdeville, Tennessee, morning.
After she released me, she slumped back into her own chair with tears in her eyes. “Emma, I want to help, and I’m trying to understand. Honestly, I am. But all this malarkey about being one foot tall is freaking me out. Is this about your dreamy lawyer boyfriend? What’s going on?”
“Logan Stride is not officially my boyfriend yet.” Though I already thought of him that way. “I told you he’s a stickler about not dating clients. So we’re just pre-dating until Grandma Nana’s estate is completely settled.” 

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More About J. L. Salter

Romantic comedy and romantic suspense are among thirteen completed novel manuscripts and four completed novellas. So far, fourteen of these seventeen titles have been published and one more is expected during 2016.

I’m co-author of two non-fiction monographs (about librarianship) with a royalty publisher, plus a signed chapter in another book and a signed article in a specialty encyclopedia. I’ve also published articles, book reviews, and over 120 poems; my writing has won nearly 40 awards, including several in national contests. As a newspaper photo-journalist, I published about 150 bylined newspaper articles, and some 100 bylined photos.

I worked nearly 30 years in the field of librarianship. I’m a decorated veteran of the U.S. Air Force (including a remote tour of duty in the Arctic, at Thule AB in N.W. Greenland).

I’m the married parent of two and grandparent of six.

Connect with J. L. Salter and His Books

Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorJLSalter

Twitter: @AuthorJLSalter

J.L. Salter blogs on Thursdays here: http://fourfoxesonehound.wordpress.com/

What would you do if you were suddenly under a foot tall?