Category Archives: Writing

Dark Night of the Soul and the men behind The Man

A few months ago I finally got around to reading, loving and reviewing Gary Reilly’s first published book, The Asphalt Warrior.

Book 6 in the series, Dark Night of the Soul is releasing this month. If you’ve become a fan of these books like I have, or if what follows intrigues you enough to dive in, the official launch event is happening Friday, November 21st at 7pm at the Lodo Tattered Cover.

dark night of the soul

I highly recommend adding this event to your calendar. Not only will the two publishers of Gary’s books (Mark Stevens and Mike Keefe) be there to launch and talk about Dark Night of the Soul and the amazing Gary Reilly, but Mark Stevens will also be launching his own book Trapline which is the 3rd book in his Allison Coil enviro-mystery series.

If you’re wondering why Gary Reilly won’t be at his own launch event, allow me to back up a bit.

A couple of years ago the reading and writing worlds lost one of their brightest stars, and the worst part is, we lost him before most of even knew to look for him. Gary Reilly died a mostly undiscovered genius, and I do not use the G-word lightly.

gary reilly

The Man Himself

Like his Asphalt Warrior protagonist, Murph, Gary was a prolific writer of a vast trove of unpublished books. After Gary’s passing two of his closest friends inherited his literary estate and worked to publish his works posthumously.

Gary’s works have since received significant acclaim, not just from stray bloggers like myself, but also from major reviewers around the country.

Since Gary can’t be here himself, I scored a wee pre-release interview with Mark and Mike, his publishers, to talk about Gary, Murph and the Dark Night of the Soul –

Before I dive in – I will be starting Dark Night of the Soul this afternoon for my “Tuesday Twitter Read-Along” and will be live tweeting my thoughts and a few choice quotes as I go under the hashtag #ReillyDarkNight (What a punderful hashtag, amiright!?) I invite you to join the conversation. I’ll get going around 4pm today and will keep it up as I read throughout the week. If you want to join in real time 4pm-5pm Tuesdays and Thursday and after 9pm all week long are reliable times to catch me “reading out loud” on twitter. Once I’m done I’ll post a full review here as well as a final reminder to get yourself to Tattered Cover Lodo on November 21st to get your copy signed by Mark Stevens and Mike Keefe.

And now, the interview:

I know you’re both longtime friends of Gary Reilly, the author of The Asphalt Warrior series as well as The Enlisted Men’s Club– when did you each realize his genius? I ask, because his alter-ego, Murph, the Asphalt Warrior Himself, keeps all of his unpublished manuscripts (which are different from his unfinished manuscripts) tucked safely away in a big steamer trunk. How long did Gary keep his genius hidden from you?

Mike Keefe: I met Gary in a filmmaking class in 1977. It turned out that he and I were the only members of the class who were interested in creating animated short films. We collaborated on several and became friends. His passion for writing was revealed slowly over time. In the mid-90s he wrote a column for a humor/cartoon site I had on AOL. He penned an advice column in the persona of a cab driver. When that gig dried up, I didn’t know what he was up to for a year. Then he handed me a draft for the first of The Asphalt Warrior series featuring Murph, the character he developed online. Earlier he had begun to leak other manuscripts in every imaginable genre. I read them all and was amazed. So, to put a number on it, I’d say Gary did not fully reveal his genius to me for nearly ten years. But then I was in the loop for another thirty.

Mark Stevens: I met Gary in 2004. Mike introduced us because Mike knew I was working on writing fiction and thought I would appreciate Gary’s point of view. Gary and I started meeting for coffee and long chats about our works, so we traded manuscripts. At the time, I had three completed books. I started reading the Asphalt Warrior series and some other books, too. It was clear to me—immediately—that Gary was one of the most dedicated writers I had ever met. And that he was very, very good. Gary doled these out one at a time. It took me a couple years to read everything and catch up with everything he had written—some 25 books.

I am in desperate awe of Gary’s observations on life, the universe and everything. His writing reminds me a lot of Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett (minus the fantasy element) in that way – the wry, cynical observations on humanity and society that were nonetheless tainted with a hopeless amount of optimism for the species as a whole. Reading about Murph’s adventures as a Denver Cabby, you get the feeling that he’d like nothing more than to just throw in the towel, but every new interactions rekindles Pandora’s cursed hope that maybe this time things will be different. How similar are Gary and his alter-ego Murph in that sense? Was Gary the same sort of reluctant hero? Aside from winning that big mythical publishing deal, what were Gary’s aspirations?

Mark Stevens: Great question—and excellent comparisons! All I can really do is answer based on the many, many times Gary and I met and talked. All he wanted to do was talk about storytelling—movies, books, movies, books. And more. He channeled this fundamental paradox about his life into Murph. I really believe Gary had no ambitions to climb the corporate ladder. And the same is certainly true of Murph. Murph had a fundamental skepticism about that world, as evidenced throughout the books whenever he talks about his time working at the fictional Dyna-Plex, Murph’s sole gig in the world of white-collar work. Murph was bewildered by the function of large corporations—and questioned everything about their efficiency and effectiveness, just as Private Palmer in The Enlisted Men’s Club questioned the organizational efficiency of the U.S. Army. Yes, Gary had hope that a novel would sell. A few times agents asked for “partial” manuscripts and I could see Gary get his hopes up, for sure. Gary studied writing and storytelling more than anyone I’ve ever known. He thought about plotting and structure—and cared about those issues. And he was a copious, meticulous editor who had no problem combing through his manuscripts, as well as many written by friends or even friends of friends, dozens and dozens of times.

I feel like Gary breaks a lot of the “hard and fast” rules of writing, but he does it in such a way that it works. For example, his plot centers around literally nothing, as in, Murph’s desire to do nothing, or at least as little as possible to survive. I love the subversiveness of that, of having the protagonist’s goal be the attainment of actual nothingness. It felt very Buddhist to me. Did Gary have a spirituality that played into his creation of Murph on that level? Do you think his subversion was intentional?

Mike Keefe: I don’t see Gary as spiritual in any way that would pigeon hole him into one discipline or another. He was an individual and developed his unique personal take on human existence. I would agree that his way of thinking resembled Buddhism in some ways. Nothingness in Murph’s world is simply different. I can’t imagine, for example, the Dalai Lama channel surfing for re-runs of Gilligan’s Island.

Gary’s books are incredibly character driven. While the plot is there, and the pacing is solid, it really is the characters that kept me turning the pages, you can just feel his absolute love for his characters even while he puts them through hell. Where do you think that love came from? Did it spill over into his interactions with people in the real world? Some of the best writers I know are complete misanthropes, but they LOVE their characters, did Gary fit that mold? Do you think his writing was more of an escape, or a reflection?

Mike Keefe: Murph and Gary are nearly identical characters. For the most part, Gary avoided social contact. He had friends and loved ones who resided in mutually exclusive universes. Still, he was an incredibly generous soul as Mark will tell you. If you were a writer, he gave you his complete and devoted attention, trying to help you hone your craft.

Do either of you have a favorite passage or line from one of Gary’s books that you’d like to share to whet reader’s appetites and give them a taste of Gary’s style?

Mark Stevens: Here are a few favorites. So many to choose from.

The Asphalt Warrior
On the day that I applied for the job as a corporate writer I brought along my English diploma. I had heard on the street that corporations preferred to hire people with college degrees. I didn’t believe a word of it because I didn’t place any value on college degrees—the fact that I had one proved how much they were worth. But the fact that I didn’t believe corporations were impressed by college degrees indicated that I was wrong about corporations. My inability to interpret reality correctly has stood me in good stead over the years.

Ticket to Hollywood
I never tell another taxi driver that I’m a taxi driver. I usually call Yellow Cab or Metro Taxi, I rarely call Rocky Cab for a ride. I do this because I like riding incognito. I ask the drivers inane questions about cab driving: what’s it like, how much money do you make, is it dangerous, do you ever have weird experiences? It’s a “game” I play, although I assume psychiatrists have a technical term for it.

The Heart of Darkness Club:
One thing I had learned in college was that if you ever had a question about truth, reality, or the meaning of existence, read a novel by Albert Camus. Pretty soon you’ll be so baffled you’ll forget the question. (For those of you who never served in the army and subsequently faked your way through seven years of college, “Camus” rhymes with “Shamu” [the killer whale]).

Doctor Lovebeads
All my life I have wanted people to think I was normal. My batting average is about .500 if you divide the world into people who know me, and people who wish they didn’t.”

Home for the Holidays
A lot of artists start out as failed poets, then move on to being failed short-story writers before they finally break through to the big time and become failed novelists. If they’re like me, they branch out to become failed screenwriters. A few take the high road and become failed playwrights, but most just stick with being failed novelists because the potential to not make lots of money is greater.

Dark Night of the Soul
I had been up the previous evening thinking about trying to write a novel, and nothing drains a writer more than thinking about trying to write. A lot of it has to do with the energy it takes to not watch television. Not watching television is like going to a bar and not drinking. That’s as far as I can take the analogy, because I’ve never done that.

Mark, you’re a writer and Mike, you’re a political cartoonist – now you’re both also publishers. How has this experience changed your views of the publishing world? How sharp was the learning curve?

Mike Keefe: After he made his wishes clear in his will, there was not a moment’s hesitation on our part to get Gary’s work out to the public. Gary’s backlog was a treasure chest. Mark and I were pretty much naive about the nuts and bolts of publication and we are still learning in this ever-changing environment. But one thing is clear: If you want to publish, you can do it, one way or the other.

Mark Stevens: Publishing is complicated and hard. We’ve been fortunate to have tremendous help from Big Earth in Boulder and our publicists, JKS Communications. But there is a lot that goes into putting a high-quality book out there and finding readers. It is lots of fun, but lots of work. More and more, I appreciate all the folks in publishing at every level—writers, editors, agents, artists, designers, publicists, you name it.

I recommend Gary’s books to almost all the newbie writers I meet. His observations and wit are truly inspirational, not to mention Murph’s determined ability to write without hope of ever getting published. As I understand it, Gary was originally holding out for that mythical traditional publishing deal. Now that you two have taken the reins and seen such remarkable success with these books, do you have any advice for new authors just getting into the business regarding the choices between independent publishing, small press publishing and traditional big house publishing?

Mark Stevens: Simple: shoot high at first, then recalibrate. I say “go for it.” Query the best agents you can find. Go to conferences and meet agents. Introduce yourself. Buy them drinks. Tell them about your work. Get them to read your stuff. Try this approach for a couple or three years—or as long as you feel like you want to keep going. If you get good feedback, use it! Make changes in your stuff. Keep writing better books. If that doesn’t work, look for a small or independent publisher. Do the same thing—in other words, work it! And if that still doesn’t turn you into a published author, start to look for the self-publishing route. Gary was finally open to an alternative route to publication about a year before he passed away. It was too late. There aren’t too many days that I don’t wish he had chosen this path earlier, so he could see the tremendous public reaction to his works.

Me again –

I agree, I never knew Gary personally, but his writing makes me wish I’d had the opportunity. His books are close, intimate portrayals of the human condition. They are positively littered with humor and wit. And for my fellow aspiring writers – they are a true treasure trove of inspiration, style and know-how, not to mention stubborn perseverance.

I cannot recommend Gary’s books highly enough and I am looking forward to diving in to his newest offering this afternoon. I encourage you all to come join the conversation at #ReillyDarkNight and start getting excited for the official launch at Tattered Cover!


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Filed under Books, Things that work, Writing

Connecting more dots

I finished that last post and then put my head down and decided I was going to clean up my out of control inbox once and for all.

An hour and some later I discovered this gem, hiding at the bottom, inviting me to be courageous, which it turns out is actually synonymous with vulnerable!

When I finished it, I remembered this awesome call to come out of the closet:

Which both tie back to this.

And back again to being courageous – living with our whole hearts.

To being brave enough to be vulnerable.

To telling our stories.

To connecting our dots.


Hearts within hearts.

So, once more with feeling – please. Share your stories. The ones that only you can tell.

We’re listening.

1 Comment

Filed under Naive idealism, Writing

The time is always now

I watched Amanda Palmer’s talk on Connecting the Dots and making art and stirring controversy and…

I remembered this argument I had with my Chinese History professor one day back in college. It was a pretty epic battle – my 19-year-old arrogance vs. his desire to teach his class and make a point.

I’m pretty sure we both lost.

Anyway – the battle started because he wanted us to try to imagine a nation where art, music, literature didn’t exist because it had all been outlawed.

I raised my hand, “That’s stupid. You can’t outlaw art. And even if you did, it wouldn’t go away. You can’t stop people from making art, it’s what we do.”

water poetry

Writing poetry with water

I argued all the way back to primitive times and the art we found on cave walls, I dragged in Jamaica and steel drums made from old barrels, I talked about kids with sticks doodling in the dirt, adults humming as they cooked in the kitchen, the oral story telling that helped found civilization.

“You can’t outlaw art, it’s an intrinsic part of being human. Art is how we express our humanity. It’s how we communicate, how we process, how we cope. Outlawing it would be dumb, you’d just turn everyone into criminals.”

“Ah-ha!” he said, as if I had just made his point for him.

I don’t know if I had, but I know that for perhaps the first time in my life – I realized that I was an artist.  I was a creator.

And I think, for the first time ever, I realized that our drive to create is what defines us. Look at the gods we aspire to – they’re creators, that is their highest gift. It’s the thing we identify with and worship – creation – of art, of tools, of tech…

creating god

How did God make us, after we made Him?

I remember having previously believed that I was not an artist, courtesy of my elementary school art teacher. I laid claim to the title writer early on, and story-teller even more so. If Bard was still a viable profession, I would be a bard. But somehow, I did not equate that with being an artist…

I love to tell stories, to make them up, to retell truths in a fresh light so that they can be seen in new ways.

As Amanda says, I like to connect the dots.

There are times when I don’t feel much like a writer anymore.

Part of that has come from my association with so many writers. With so many rules.

I’ve never been good at rules.

They chafe.

I read a post a while back that echoed so many of my writer “friends” in defining what it means to be a writer. I was blessed to come to this post via some of my professional author friends who make their living writing words and telling stories who all shared it with a statement along the lines of, “Wow. I don’t do any of these things. Guess I better get a day job!” and some cyber laughter.

It helped me see the ridiculousness of this approach – and it’s everywhere, not just in writing – this idea that my way is THE ONLY WAY.

I think we all fall into this trap from time to time.

I know when my husband and I drive through town he’s always a little perplexed at the routes I take. I don’t get there the same way he would.

But it’s okay – we still get there.

I was at my favorite writer’s conference recently, and I admit, I felt like a bit of a fraud all weekend. I was there not just as a participant, but also as a presenter. And yet… despite it being a fiction writer’s conference… I haven’t written a single word of fiction in over a year.

Not one.

I’ve had other projects, other goals, other itches to scratch.

It didn’t take away from what I was presenting, I know that material well as a reader and as an editor – but still… I felt like a cheat.

Amanda reminded me though, the format doesn’t matter. The stories do. Connecting the dots does. Making art – that’s what matters.

She also talked about the idea, the fear, that “this isn’t the time” for art, for story telling, for that kind of story telling… And then – she calls out that heinous bullshit.

Because it is ALWAYS the right time to create art.

create freedom

Be fearless.

When we are hurt, when we are scared, when we are raw and wounded…

When we are ecstatic, when we are in love, when we are open and wondering…

When we’re tired, burnt out, exhausted by the daily grind…

When we’re pumped up, full of energy, bursting through our creative glass ceilings…

Art is how we display our humanity, how we connect not just the stray dots of the stories and scenes we take in each day – but also how we reach out and connect our dots to each other.

We live through stories and images – through art. We exist in fable. We reach each other through leaps of imagination and courage.

We know our art has succeeded when a single person tells us, “Yeah, I felt that.”

We don’t need permission to make art. We don’t need a publisher, or an agent, or a label, or a gallery to bless us with their patron’s wand in order to call ourselves artists. We don’t need validation from every person we meet, or a set of rules telling how to structure our time or hold the brush.

We just need to tell our stories.

And find one other person, just one, standing among the rubble, trying to make sense of it all to see us, hear us and say, “You felt it too?”

Then the art stops being about you – and it starts being about everyone.

Your dots connect to their dots. The ripples spread.

The best line, the line that reminds us to strip away our fear – “If I’d known 250,000 people were going to see it, I would have written something better. But if I’d written something better, it never would have gotten written…”

Tell your story and let it go.

Create your art, the art only you can create, and then set it free.

lantern festival

Let your light shine




Filed under Writing

Not my Magic

When I turned 17 and graduated high school, my dad made me a “magic box”.

It’s a newer family tradition.

My father had one, his was an old wooden cigar box filled with little bits of things that had some… magic to them. Some memories or hints of possibilities.

My sister and I used to sneak into my parents’ bedroom and go through it, examining and admiring all the things inside.

Sometimes my dad would catch us. Then he’d come over and tell us the stories that belonged to each item.

When my sister left home, she got his magic box. And quite a bit of the original stuff that had been inside. Along with a note and some new things, things my dad had been saving just for her.

I was SO jealous. But there was also a calmness that came over me, because I knew that I too would get a magic box when I “came of age.”

On the day I got mine, I was amazed.

magic box

Here there be Magic

It was… so much more than I could have imagined. It was hand (machine) made by my father. A French coin was inlaid into the top, because my first trip out of the country, the trip that infected me with the travel bug and insatiable cultural curiosity was a family trip to France when I was eleven.

Inside was a letter from my dad and… some pieces from his magic box that I assumed he would keep forever.

inside the magic box

Bits of Magic

When I asked him about them he told me, “I always knew that wasn’t my magic to keep. It was just mine to pass on. Now it’s yours.”

He didn’t have to add, “to pass on.” I knew the stories. And I realized he was right, this stuff wasn’t mine forever, to be kept locked away in a box.

It was mine to SHARE.

THAT was its magic.

Over the years since then my magic box has grown. I’ve added trinkets and baubles and memories and pictures and little bits of life and love and… magic.

My magic box has also shrunk as I’ve met people who I just knew were the next recipients of one of the pieces I was holding in trust.

I feel this way about ideas and creativity too.

I have an odd relationship with The Muse. She likes to leave me other people’s packages from time to time.

When she first started doing this, I didn’t catch on.

I would grasp every idea, every nugget of inspiration, every wayward delivery and try to wring “good art” from it (to borrow a phrase from @neilhimself).

inspiration wall

Dizzy-Making Inspiration

It took me a while, years in fact, to realize that sometimes The Muse was just messing with me. Or, perhaps she was overworked, tired, or just had the wrong address.

It took me a while to realize that not every Muse Flash was actually meant for me.

I began to collect them, jotting them down on index cards, in notebooks, on sticky notes. I sent emails to myself.

Then I waited.

Sometimes it took years, sometimes it was only minutes, but eventually I would meet someone who was just right for that idea, that flash of inspiration.

I am often met with skepticism when I give other people ideas. There’s a moment of, “What’s the catch? Where’s the price tag? You’re going to sue me if I actually use this aren’t you?”

I guess these days that’s justified. But it saddens me.

The truth is – I have a limited creative skill set and small area of interest. I’m a writer. And I have a narrow range of genres and themes that excite me.

I don’t draw, I don’t sing, I don’t do theater, or humor, or westerns, or romance or…

It’s not that I couldn’t, but I don’t want to.

Those are not my boxes of frogs. (To steal a phrase from Christopher Moore.)

Box of frogs

Who knew frogs were an allergen!?!

So, ideas that fall into those categories – aren’t mine. Not to keep anyway.

I’m just a landing strip, a holding zone.

The Muse’s custom’s department if you will.

For those of you who have read A Dirty Job, by Christopher Moore, you may recognize this concept. Charlie Asher (aka death) collects souls, and when the time is right, he passes them on to their next intended recipient.

I think ideas and inspirations and magic are just that – pieces of souls, floating around. And, from time to time, we catch someone else’s. If we try to use it, it brings us frustration and agony.

It doesn’t fit.

It scratches and rubs us wrong.

It feels funny.

But if we hold on to it, tuck it away somewhere safe, but accessible, we’ll eventually meet the person it was meant for. And then we can pass it on, and if we’re lucky we might get to see it in action.

So, rest assured, if I ever pass on an idea to you – there’s no hidden price tag. There’s no impending lawsuit. It’s just a piece of magic that wasn’t meant for me, and that I think you might be able to do something awesome with. My only interest in giving it to you is the selfish desire to see what YOU create with it.

And if I judge wrong, and I give you magic that doesn’t click, that’s okay.

Maybe you’re just a way station too.

Perhaps I only gave it to you so that you could pass it on to its real intended soul.


Filed under Rant, Writing

So you think you’d like an editor?

As part of my rebranding and remessaging, I thought I would offer this brief insight into the work of a freelance editor. There is a lot of confusion out there about what we do, why we do it, and what we require from our clients to do our job.

what editors do

This is why I just tell people I read books for a living. So much easier to say.

I discuss this in short form frequently on my facebook page and twitter. I post about industry expectations, common pet-peeves, and things that literally make me scream out loud at my computer. (Apologies to my office neighbors. I’m not being killed by a psychopath. Really.)

I thought perhaps a full post was in order, a brief introduction to hiring, retaining and getting the most out of your indie-editor relationship.

We are professionals. We do this for a living.
Those of us who are good at what we do keep our fingers on the pulse of the publishing industry. We follow industry news, we read books like crazy, we stalk agents, editors and publishing houses on social media. We know what the expectations are in our genres.
(Not all genres. For instance you don’t want me to edit your western. I don’t read westerns, I don’t know the formula and I don’t enjoy the subject matter. However, if you write fantasy, sci-fi, thrillers (even the romantic kind), horror, YA or gripping non-fiction (yes, there is such a thing) I just might be your girl.)
As professionals we try to stay busy. Expect a good editor to be booked out for 1-3 months in advance. Get in touch early and get yourself on their radar and on their schedule – and then, deliver your manuscript on time or you may lose your spot in the queue!

Rates vary. Generally they vary based on experience. (And a little on geographical lines.)
If you are self-publishing, budget the cost of a good (ie; not the cheapest) editor into your expenses.
A traditional Big Six house will do three rounds of edits on a manuscript they buy.
That’s after it has been through a round or two of edits at the agency.
And before that it most likely went through a few rounds of critique from a critique group or some deeply honest beta-readers.
Jeffery Deaver famously edits and revises EVERY SINGLE manuscript 30+ times before he allows his agent to see it. Then they do another round or two, then he still gets 3 rounds at the publishing house.
Editing is important. Don’t skimp here.

There are different levels of editing.
Critique – This is not editing, this is having someone read your book and tell you what they think of it. Some editors offer this service and their critiques are likely to be more detailed and in depth as well as more specific than average. We’re professional readers, so we tend to catch things that casual readers miss.
Content, substantive or developmental editing – This looks at the structure and content of your story. Character arcs, plot holes, flow and structure.
Line editing – This looks at the details – Point of view shifts, word choices, verb tenses, and fact checking.
Copy editing – This is the final nit-picky comb through to make sure that all the details are buttoned up, the grammar is in line, wayward commas have been expunged and all the ts are crossed.

*Not all editors offer the same services. Alice Levine is America’s best copy editor. That’s it, that’s her thing. She does the final comb through to make sure every dot is in line and every grammatical faux pas has been untangled. Others do only big picture edits or critiques.
Check to see what services are offered before you approach an editor, make sure they offer what you’re looking for.

This is your chance to learn standard manuscript formatting. Most freelance editors base their rates on a standard MS page.  When we bid jobs, we do so based on our reading speed of a standard MS page.
If an editor quotes you a price and then you jiggle the formatting to fit extra words on the page, it will NOT reduce your bill.
It will, generally, raise it as your self-respecting editor will charge you for the time it takes them to reformat it correctly.
If you send them a hard copy that is formatted incorrectly, your self-respecting editor will send it back to you unedited and charge you for the postage, costing you additional time and printing/shipping costs.
See item 1, we are professionals, treat us as such.
You want us to help you, right?

Run spell check.
Before you submit your MS to anyone, anywhere – run spell check. It won’t catch everything, not by a long shot, but it will catch some obvious stuff.
When I get a MS that clearly has not been run through spell check – I run it. And I charge for the time. I once had a manuscript that took me 3 hours to spell check due to an exceedingly large number of unfamiliar, complex terms that required me to toggle between the manuscript and The Google.
That’s a serious chunk of change to shell out for something that you can easily do yourself.

Know what you want to get from the editing job – Tell the editor your goals.
Are you submitting to agencies, publishers, or are you planning to hit print after you “accept all” on the suggested changes?
(And – don’t do that. Editors have not so sneaky ways of making sure “Accepting all” is a bad idea, like inserting comments inline, not just in the margins.)
Let us know if there is something specific you want us to look for – do you know you have a bad habit of starting every sentence the same? (Especially common in first person books.) Are you unsure of your character arc, do you know you need to ramp up the tension but you’re not sure how? Share your concerns with us so we can help, after all – you’re paying us.
If you send us in blind, we might not shine the light in the places you were hoping for.

Remember, you’re paying us for our honesty. If you want sunshine and roses – send it to your grandmother.
Editors are in this business because we love books, we love words and we want to help writers tell their stories and expand their craft.
We’re not dissing you, or your precious. We’re helping you to see missed opportunities, to fill in holes, to reach the highest peaks of your story and character arcs, and to make your story shine like a beacon for the audience you hope to reach.
We are your book’s BFF, helping it come out of the closet and show you its truest self.

A good editor will not re-write your book for you. (That’s what ghost writers and book doctors do, and that is a whole other post and a much bigger budget…)

tell your story
A good editor will bring out your best writing, showing YOU how to deliver on your promises to the reader and how to get out of the way so your characters can tell their story!


Filed under Books, Business, Writing

A Little Flash

I wrote this a few months ago for a flash fiction contest. I didn’t place, so I still have the rights to it.

The Wolf Won
By Bree Ervin

Wolf Howl

It was not enough to say, “He did it.” It was not enough to prove he did it. It was not enough to be hurt, damaged, broken, shattered to dust.
I also had to rise, like the phoenix, collecting my ashes into a new whole.
A powerful whole; hellbent on fighting back, shouting loud, making my truth heard.
But it still wasn’t enough.
I had been a victim once before.
And no one will believe you twice.


Filed under Fiction, Of Course I'm a Feminist, Writing

What it’s all about

A friend of mine recently introduced me to Wordle which will create a word map of your manuscript, article, essay, or yes, even your blog.

This is a great tool for us writers, it shows us in a visual form that we can’t ignore, just what words we are using most, and which ones we should be using more of.

So – what’s this blog all about? Well, according to Wordle it looks like this:

TBT Wordle

Books, stories, writing and other word slutty topics. That’s me.

This is a fun tool. If you want to know what you’re really writing about (not just what you think you’re writing about) I recommend checking it out. It’s free, it’s fun, and if you like what you create you can print it out poster size, or on tee-shirts (the ultimate fan-geek merch item!)



Filed under Books, Marketing, Writing