"There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate's loot on Treasure Island." - Walt Disney

Thursday, November 21, 2019

November Scribbler Box: Science Fiction

I just received my eighth box from Scribbler. You can learn about previous boxes, and why I subscribed by clicking the "Scribbler" link in the labels below.

I was surprised it came a week early this month - I suppose in anticipation of the holiday rush. This month's theme is science fiction. As always, the first thing you see upon opening the box is a writing exercise/contest postcard. Each month provides a new challenge for writers to practice. However, the deadline for this month says 11/14 which was before they shipped the November boxes. I'm assuming this is a typo which should say 12/14, but I have not heard back from the company yet for a clarification of this. I will try to update this post when/if they clarify.


The "Curated Writerly Gifts" this month include A Writing Map to Fabulous Stories text and writing prompts with ALICE IN WONDERLAND themed artwork (and absolutely beautiful illustrations), a SPICE HOUSE packet of hot cocoa (yum), an "I make stuff up" sticker, a tablet of "Chapter Planner" pages, and a couple of cards of art inspired prompts/suggestions from writingmaps.com.


As usual, this box also came with an inside look at the publishing process for this months author, and an exclusive invitation to chat with a publishing professional: Grace Doyle, editorial director at Thomas & Mercer, as well as the collectible 'Writing Passport' with the authors discussing this months theme of SCIENCE FICTION.

This months new release novel is AFTERSHOCKS by Marko Kloos:


Across the six-planet expanse of the Gaia system, the Earthlike Gretia struggles to stabilize in the wake of an interplanetary war. Amid an uneasy alliance to maintain economies, resources, and populations, Aden Robertson reemerges. After devoting twelve years of his life to the reviled losing side, with the blood of half a million casualties on his hands, Aden is looking for a way to move on. He’s not the only one.
A naval officer has borne witness to inconceivable attacks on a salvaged fleet. A sergeant with the occupation forces is treading increasingly hostile ground. And a young woman, thrust into responsibility as vice president of her family’s raw materials empire, faces a threat she never anticipated.
Now, on the cusp of an explosive and wide-reaching insurrection, Aden plunges once again into the brutal life he longed to forget. He’s been on the wrong side of war before. But this time, the new enemy has yet to reveal themselves…or their dangerous endgame.

To learn more about this monthly box service: https://www.goscribbler.com/


Do you subscribe to any boxing services? Have you heard of SCRIBBLER? Are you tempted to join?

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Writing Veterans and Military Appreciation

Happy Veterans Day!

Thank-you to all veterans and active military. We may not show it enough, but you are so very appreciated!

A few years ago my interview of Vietnam War Veteran and author Tim O’Brien appeared in Proud to Be: Writing by American Warriors, Volume 2. Now, I'm getting ready to introduce my eleventh graders to THE THINGS THEY CARRIED.

Since my own contribution, the publishers have continued the tradition of supporting our troops. This yearly anthology presents essays, fiction, poetry, interviews, and photography by military-service personnel, veterans, and their families. It is an annual series published by Southeast Missouri State University Press in cooperation with the Missouri Humanities Council's Veterans Projects and the Warriors Arts Alliance.

"The stories and poems of service and sacrifice are essential in understanding what has so broadly been termed 'the American experience.' For me, Proud to Be: Writing by American Warriors is required reading and worthy of a thousand tears."     ―St. Leger Monty Joynes, veteran, Vietnam

Books can now be ordered from the Southeast Missouri State University Press and Amazon.

Interested in submitting to Volume 9? They are already accepting submissions which are due by April 17, 2020. Contests and prizes will be awarded in each of the five categories. To learn more, please visit:  http://www.semopress.com/events/proud-to-be-writing-by-american-warriors/

Want to check out more "support America" reads? Chicken Soup for the Soul publishers have several books honoring veterans and their families as well. Try some of their titles such as: Military Families and The Spirit of America.

How about reading more veteran related material? Try Noir and Returning War Vet Sub-Genre, or Being a Veteran.

Have you thanked a Veteran for their service? Have you written with our military in mind? What military reads would you recommend?

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

IWSG: Strangest Google Searches

It’s time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! founded by Alex J. Cavanaugh. Time to release our fears to the world – or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic. If you’d like to join us, click on the tab above and sign up. We post the first Wednesday of every month. Your words might be the encouragement someone needs. You can also join us on twitter using the hashtag #IWSG, or on the Facebook page.

Now, IWSG hosts have changed up the format in an effort to make it more fun and interactive.Every month, they will announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG Day post. These questions may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Include your answer to the question in your IWSG post or let it inspire your post if you are struggling with something to say. 

Don’t forget to visit others that day to see their answers. Want to join, or learn more? Visit our - Sign-up List.



NOVEMBER QUESTION: What's the strangest thing you've ever googled in researching a story?



MY ANSWER: That would have to be "ritual suicide by self-disembowelment on a sword; practiced by samurai in the traditional Japanese society. Synonyms: hara-kiri, harakiri, seppuku Type of: self-annihilation, self-destruction, suicide, the act of killing yourself". I did some research on these ideas when I was writing my short story "WIN". I only briefly mentioned a similar event in the story, but I can only imagine what others might think of writers if they see our search histories ;-)

How about you? What's the strangest thing you've ever googled in researching a story?

Saturday, November 2, 2019

Book Signing: 16 Texas Horror Authors

16 authors: one signing

15 other authors and I will be celebrating a new book launch in one week. On Saturday, November 9 we will hold a book signing at Fleur Fine Books from 3 to 5 pm in Port Neches, Texas.

The book officially released a couple weeks ago, but most of us are finally able to come together for one joint signing. If you're in the area next weekend, we'd love for you to come by and visit us at this amazing book store.

For more information about the book, or the authors, click here.

Do you hold book signings? Do you visit other authors when they hold a signing?

Sunday, October 27, 2019

October Scribbler Box: World Building II



I just received my seventh box from Scribbler. You can learn about previous boxes, and why I subscribed by clicking the "Scribbler" link in the labels below.

Alas, this month is a repeat when there are still so many topics that could be covered... the theme is once again WORLD BUILDING. They've covered this topic before, and while there is nothing wrong with the reinforcement of ideas and examples, I'm a bit disappointed when there are still so many genres they have NOT focused on yet.

As always, the first thing you see upon opening the box is a writing exercise postcard. Each month provides a new challenge for writers to practice.

The "Curated Writerly Gifts" this month include a Halloween style art piece (see the skull card on the left), Gummy fish snacks, a 3 pack of mini journals, a "Writer on Fire" pumpkin + apple + molasses scented candle, and a bookmark and postcard featuring this months selected read.



This months new release novel is HOW FIRES END by Marco Rafala'.

A dark secret born out of World War II lies at the heart of a Sicilian American family in this emotional and sweeping saga of guilt, revenge, and, ultimately, redemption.
After soldiers vacate the Sicilian hillside town of Melilli in the summer of 1943, the locals celebrate, giving thanks to their patron saint, Sebastian. Amid the revelry, all it takes is one fateful moment for the destiny of nine-year-old Salvatore Vassallo to change forever. When his twin brothers are killed playing with an unexploded mortar shell, Salvatore’s faith is destroyed. As the family unravels, and fear ignites among their neighbors that the Vassallo name is cursed, one tragedy begets another.
Desperate to escape this haunting legacy, Salvatore accepts the help of an Italian soldier with fascist ties who ushers him and his sister, Nella, into a new beginning in America. In Middletown, Connecticut, in the immigrant neighborhood known as Little Melilli, these three struggle to build new lives for themselves. But a dangerous choice to keep their secrets hidden erupts in violence decades later. When Salvatore loses his inquisitive American-born son, David, they all learn too late the price sons pay for their fathers’ wars.
Written with elegiac prose, How Fires End delves into the secret wars of men; the sins they cannot bury; and a life lived in fear of who will reveal them, who will survive them, and who will forgive them.

As usual, this box also came with an inside look at the publishing process for this months author, and an exclusive invitation to chat with a publishing professional: Hafizah Geter, editor for Little A and TOPPLE Books, as well as the collectible 'Writing Passport' with the authors discussing this months theme of WORLDBUILDING II.

In August I weighed the pros and cons of this service if you'd like to see my thoughts on this subscription box. I'm still undecided as to whether or not I will continue the service beyond the holidays. If not, hey at least I've received some interesting books and a few cute swag to give away at upcoming events.

To learn more about this monthly box service: https://www.goscribbler.com/

Do you subscribe to any boxing services? Have you heard of SCRIBBLER? Are you tempted to join?

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Updated Cover Art and Release Information

HellBound Books Publishing has updated the cover design for our new release. Here is the current design and to the right is the original version, or mock artwork. What do you think?

Description and list of authors below:

For four years now, Bret McCormick and E. R. Bills have been beating the bushes and peering into abandoned wells to seek out the most terrifying tales the Lone Star State has to offer. They have left no stone unturned, no attic unexplored, and no grave undesecrated. Road Kill Volume 4 is the best and grimmest yet! You hold in your hands a grand collection of 16 goose-flesh-inducing prose. But, don't just take our word for it; these sixteen stories speak - or perhaps scream - for themselves.Featuring tales of Texas terror from:Corey Lamb, E. R. Bills, James H Longmore, William Jensen, Patrick C. Harrison III, W. H. Gilbert, Jeremy Hepler, Dan Fields, Thomas Kearnes, Sylvia Ney, Mark A. Nobles, Russell C. Connor, Elliott Baxter, Ralph Robert Moore, Carmen Gray, and Andrew Kozma. 

Now available for purchase on amazon: here.  Book signing and official launch information coming soon!

Do you recommend any new reads for this Halloween season?

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Halloween Seasonal Fun and Free Reads

Fall has finally arrived, although temperatures in our area haven't dropped much and it usually still feels like summer. Orange decor, and pumpkin everything seems to be surrounding us amidst continued clean-up after Tropical Storm Imelda. We usually stay busy all month long with many seasonal activities. 

If you prefer to stay home cuddled up with a good book instead of heading out to crowds celebrating seasonal festivals, try one of my suggestions from 10 Scary Reads to Terrify Your Inner Child.

I also recommend trying something new like "Black Cat Magazine", or my short story "Lights Out" which will appear in the Road Kill, Texas Horror Volume 4 which will be available soon from Hellbound Books Publishing: here.

If you're looking for something a little lighter, try my romantic Halloween short story (about 800 words): Madame Tooshkas Spell.

Interested in FREE scary books? Try one of these!

Need a few scary good costume ideas? Try one of these 10 Minute Literary Halloween Costumes and dress like your favorite characters.

How are you celebrating this season?

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

IWSG: Reading Others

This Month:

It’s time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! founded by Alex J. Cavanaugh. Time to release our fears to the world – or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic. If you’d like to join us, click on the tab above and sign up. We post the first Wednesday of every month. Your words might be the encouragement someone needs. You can also join us on twitter using the hashtag #IWSG, or on the Facebook page.

Now, IWSG hosts have changed up the format in an effort to make it more fun and interactive.Every month, they will announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG Day post. These questions may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Include your answer to the question in your IWSG post or let it inspire your post if you are struggling with something to say. 

Don’t forget to visit others that day to see their answers. Want to join, or learn more? Visit our - Sign-up List.

OCTOBER QUESTION: It's been said that the benefits of becoming a writer who does not read is that all your ideas are new and original. Everything you do is an extension of yourself, instead of a mixture of you and another author. On the other hand, how can you expect other people to want your writing, if you don't enjoy reading? What are your thoughts?

MY ANSWER: I firmly believe reading is a MUST! Many believe you'll end up copying other writers, and lose your own voice. This may happen to some degree for a time, especially when first beginning or fighting the dreaded writers block. However, reading widely is essential to expanding your skills. Studying the craft in a multitude of formats and styles actually aids in honing your skills and finding your TRUE voice. 

You can read more of my thoughts on this in 5 Myths About Published Authors.

How about you? Do you believe reading is essential?

Friday, September 27, 2019

September Scribbler Box: Endings

I just received my sixth box from Scribbler. You can learn about previous boxes, and why I subscribed by clicking the "Scribbler" link in the labels below.

This month's theme is ENDINGS. As before, the first thing you see upon opening the box is a writing exercise postcard. Each month provides a new challenge for writers to practice.


The "Curated Writerly Gifts" this month included a triplet of highlighters, a "Book Nerd" pin where the double o's are a pair of glasses, a NOTE PALS sticky tabs set, and The Story of my Life - a DIY memoir: every life is packed with stories worth telling, and no one can tell them better than the person who lived them. But when you sit down to put it all into writing, where do you begin? the blank page is the most intimidating and procrastination-inspiring part of any writing project. Luckily, this notebook clears that hurdle for you. In its pages, you’ll find prompts and exercises, written by a published writer, to help you bring your stories to life. A good memoir is more than an autobiography that chronicles your existence; it’s a life on a page full of description and dialog, a window into your past. If you’re not a writer, even if you’ve never written before, don’t worry: these prompts and exercises are designed to coax out your inner storyteller with specific, guiding questions. This book will create a record of your life, but it will also help you express who you are as a person, and how you became who you are today. Whether you’re writing down your life story for yourself, your close family, or for a wider audience, this book will guide you through the project and make your life story a joy to write and a pleasure to read. Once you’ve done all of the prompts, you’ll have a wealth of memories, anecdotes, and personal knowledge to work with. The question is, what will you do with it?


This months new release novel is SAVE YOUR BREATH by Melinda Leigh with an autograph. This is the 6th book of the Morgan Dane series.

When true-crime writer Olivia Cruz disappears with no signs of foul play, her new boyfriend, Lincoln Sharp, suspects the worst. He knows she didn’t leave willingly and turns to attorney Morgan Dane and PI Lance Kruger to find her before it’s too late.
As they dig through Olivia’s life, they are shocked to discover a connection between her current book research on two cold murder cases and the suicide of one of Morgan’s prospective clients.
As Morgan and Lance investigate, the number of suspects grows, but time is running out to find Olivia alive. When danger comes knocking at their door, Morgan and Lance realize that they may be the killer’s next targets.

As usual, there was an inside look at the publishing process for this months author, an exclusive invitation to chat with a publishing professional (Anh Schluep, Ediorial Director of Montlake Romance), and the collectible 'Writing Passport' with the authors discussing this months theme of ENDINGS.


In August I weighed the pros and cons of this service if you'd like to see my thoughts on this subscription box. I have since then experienced a problem with their additional order service, but have also received an enticement of something to come. I may go ahead and keep the service for another three months in the hopes that all kinks will be worked out. If not, hey at least I've received some interesting books and a few cute swag to give away at upcoming events.


To learn more about this monthly box service: https://www.goscribbler.com/

Do you subscribe to any boxing services? Have you heard of SCRIBBLER? Are you tempted to join?

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Banned Books Week 2019

September 22 is the beginning of "BANNED BOOKS WEEK 2019". Below is a couple of lists of ten of the most frequently challenged books.

A challenge is an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group. A banning is the removal of those materials from the curriculum or library, thereby restricting the access of others.

The Top Ten Most Frequently Challenged books list is compiled by the Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) and is based on or derived from communities across the United States. According to their data, the eleven most challenged books of 2018 were:




  1. George by Alex Gino
    Reasons: banned, challenged, and relocated because it was believed to encourage children to clear browser history and change their bodies using hormones, and for mentioning “dirty magazines,” describing male anatomy, “creating confusion,” and including a transgender character

  2. A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo by Jill Twiss, illustrated by EG Keller
    Reasons: banned and challenged for including LGBTQIA+ content, and for political and religious viewpoints

  3. Captain Underpants series written and illustrated by Dav Pilkey
    Reasons: series was challenged because it was perceived as encouraging disruptive behavior, while Captain Underpants and the Sensational Saga of Sir Stinks-A-Lot was challenged for including a same-sex couple

  4. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
    Reasons: banned and challenged because it was deemed “anti-cop,” and for profanity, drug use, and sexual references

  5. Drama written and illustrated by Raina Telgemeier
    Reasons: banned and challenged for including LGBTQIA+ characters and themes

  6. Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
    Reasons: banned, challenged, and restricted for addressing teen suicide

  7. This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki, illustrated by Jillian Tamaki
    Reasons: banned and challenged for profanity, sexual references, and certain illustrations

  8. Skippyjon Jones series written and illustrated by Judy Schachner
    Reason: challenged for depicting stereotypes of Mexican culture

  9. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
    Reasons: banned and challenged for sexual references, profanity, violence, gambling, and underage drinking, and for its religious viewpoint

  10. This Day in June by Gayle E. Pitman, illustrated by Kristyna Litten
    Reason: challenged and burned for including LGBTQIA+ content

  11. Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan
    Reason: challenged and burned for including LGBTQIA+ content

TEN OF THE MOST FREQUENTLY CHALLENGED BOOKS IN HISTORY:

Some books have been repeatedly banned or challenged throughout history. This is a list of books that appear the most often on banned books lists.































If you would like more information about banned and challenged books, contact the Office for Intellectual Freedom at (800) 545-2433, ext. 4220, or oif@ala.org. Another god source of information on banned books is the "Libraries and Center for Academic Technology" site by Butler University: https://libguides.butler.edu/c.php?g=34189&p=217684