Sunday 27 September 2020

Writing Tips: How to Write the Next Book by Author C.D. Hersh...

At some point, in the beginning of every writing journey, we authors wonder if we can really write a book. We ask ourselves: Can I do this? And if I can, will I be able to write a second book? Will my next book be as good as the first book? Will an editor love book number two as much as the first one? And, heaven forbid, what will I do if no wants the next book I write— assuming I can even finish it?

When we started our publishing journey back in 2012, with the pitch of the first book in our paranormal/urban fantasy series The Turning Stone Chronicles to Soul Mate Publishing, we had some of those questions. Book One, The Promised One was taking a maiden journey into the editorial world of queries. And after the rejection stories we heard from other aspiring authors, we truly thought we’d have our first rejection slip. We had ideas about where the remaining books in the proposed series were going, but not much more than nutshells of ideas and a few paragraphs written in a black-and-white school composition book. Book number one didn’t even have a contract, and here we were bold enough to assume we could write and sell a six-book series.

Four years later (2016), with the release of book number four in the series, The Mercenary and the Shifters, we were now more than halfway through our series. Ah, but life had some interesting twists planned for us as we started on book number five. More later.

The journey has an interesting one. We’ve had a few surprises along the way. We never expected our series to sell on the first toss over the publishing world transom. And we certainly didn’t expect the editor would want all six books without ever seeing them. We also didn’t expect the overwhelming learning curve of marketing that came crashing down on us. But somehow, we figured it all out—including the total replotting of book 4 when a minor character in book 3, Son of the Moonless Night, suddenly decided she wanted center stage and took over the plotting process. We also learned, thanks to a lovely review we received, that we can write without the dreaded sophomoric slump in our later books.

At some point, in the beginning of every writing journey, we authors wonder if we can really write a book. We ask ourselves: Can I do this? And if I can, will I be able to write a second book? Will my next book be as good as the first book? Will an editor love book number two as much as the first one? And, heaven forbid, what will I do if no wants the next book I write— assuming I can even finish it?

If you’re just beginning your publishing journey and you’ve answered “no” and “I don’t know to the questions in the opening paragraph, you are starting your journey off stifling your creativity. If you can finish a single book that has all the elements an editor wants, then never fear. You can write another book as good as the first and maybe even better.

Now for the “more later” promised above. With the release of book four in July 2016 we started on plotting for book five. However, we got asked by our publisher to join a group of twelve other authors and to write a book in the series of The Soul Mate Tree. That book, Can’t Stop The Music happened in February of 2017 plus then a lot of promotion for the rest of the year for the other authors as we tried to get back to plotting book five. The next three years proved to be a health challenge plus being asked to write and direct three Easter dramas at our church. Book five is plotted but still being written. Maybe this year? Now back to writing the next book in a series.

Here are some tips to help you make your goal of book number 2, 3, and more.
  • Keep a positive attitude. A lot of people want to write a book. Many say they’re going to write a book SOME DAY. You have written a book. You’ve slapped those all-important two words on the last page—THE END. Additionally, if you got a contract from an editor, you have validation that your book was good. So don’t let doubt get in your way.
  • Don’t wait until your creativity well runs dry to begin the next book. Writing stirs up our muses, and there’s no better time to start thinking about the next book than while you are working on your current book.
  • When you have an idea for the next book, let the need to write it spur you on. Having a second story waiting in the wings compels us to finish the WIP.
  • When you get that nutshell of an idea for book number two, write it down! Don’t say, “I can remember that.” Chances are you won’t. Instead, drop it in a computer file or paper file, whichever works for you. Read it often. Think about it before you go to bed, but not if it makes you an insomniac. Let it bubble and stew in the back of your mind until a full-blown story is born.
  • Capture ANY wild story ideas that come your way. No tidbit you find remotely interesting should be ignored. You never know when inspiration for the next book will hit. The plot could be residing in a snippet of conversation you overhear at your favorite restaurant, a story you read in the newspaper, or even an interesting road sign. The Turning Stone Chronicle series originated from a road sign for a place named Turning Stone that we passed on a long road trip. We said, “What an interesting town name. Could we write a story with that title?” And the rest is history.
  • Learn from your mistakes. Continued practice of the craft makes you a more skilled writer. Keeping a weasel word list, noting the places where your editor or beta readers say you are weak, and continuous education in the craft will improve your writing skill and storytelling ability. The more we write, the more second nature the job becomes. So, when the next book comes along, you’ll have an easier time putting it down. And who doesn’t want that?
  • Planning on writing a series be sure to keep a world book. Nothing slows the writing process faster than trying to remember someone’s eye color from book one or any other character’s feature or a place name.

C.D. Hersh–Two hearts creating everlasting love stories. Putting words and stories on paper is second nature to co-authors C.D. Hersh. They’ve written separately since they were teenagers and discovered their unique, collaborative abilities in the mid-90s. As high school sweethearts and husband and wife, Catherine and Donald believe in true love and happily ever after.

They have a short Christmas story, Kissing Santa, in a Christmas anthology titled Sizzle in the Snow: Soul Mate Christmas Collection, with seven other authors. They are looking forward to many years of co-authoring and book sales, and a lifetime of happily-ever-after endings on the page and in real life. 

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Sunday 20 September 2020

Book Tour: ASCENT; Unreachable Skies, Vol. 3 by Karen McCreedy...

Welcome to the 1-Week Virtual Book Tour for 

Unreachable Skies, Vol. 3 
by Karen McCreedy

About the Book:

Zarda, the Fate-seer, and the Drax she accompanied into exile have settled into a new life far to the north of their homeland, the Expanse. They have pledged their loyalty to Kalon, whose rightful place as Prime was stolen by his brother Kalis. 

Zarda’s one certainty is that Kalis’ wingless heir, Dru, is destined to defeat their old enemy, the Koth; but how is he to do that when he is no longer the Prime’s heir? And how can Kalis, his scheming adviser Fazak, and their followers be overcome? 

To find the answers and to help the rightful Prime take his place in the Spirax, Zarda must first find a way back through the Crimson Forest for the exiles – but danger and betrayal await them all.

Exclusive Excerpt:

Everyone murmured “May it so remain,” and, as Kalon folded his wing and the meeting broke up, I returned my attention to Dru, who was still rubbing his nose.

“Come along, I’ll put something on that for you.” Outside, clouds drifted on a warm westerly, and I paused to sniff the breeze that drifted over the lake and the island where Kalon had made his home. Avalox and kerzh-grass, both sprouting well in the centre of the island. Chalkmoss, camylvines, and a hint of kestox, their various aromas carrying distinct but faint from the lake’s western shore. The shoots and seeds we had planted there moons ago were surely almost ready to harvest. How good it would be to have kerzh-fruits again, to have camyl leaves available for balms and medicines. From the top of the hill where we stood, I looked out across the water to the islands that surrounded ours, and followed the flight-path of nine purple-clad females as they made their way from Rump Island to skim low across the water. Every few beats, clawed toes dipped below the surface and emerged with a wriggling fish. “That’s this evening’s meals supplied,” I said, my mind already running ahead to a bowl of baked white flesh basted in Rewsa’s herb sauce. Tomorrow it would be the turn of the drax on Doorway Island to provide our meals, and by then, perhaps, there would be fresh chalkmoss to add to the pots. We had no groxen meat, no zaxel, no hoxberries, but we had sufficient food to fill our stomachs, and enough variety to keep our palettes interested.

More importantly, we were safe. Though how long we would stay that way with battles and enemies to overcome, only the Spiral knew. I moved my gaze to the western shore, and nodded approval as I noticed the nines of younglings climbing the steep-sided bluff of black rock that towered beyond our crops. We would need their climbing skills soon, if my expedition to the Expanse went as planned.

Though Dru’s Vision suggested…

I shook myself. What he had Seen might mean any number of things, surely? Besides, in the Vision that my teacher, Vizan, and I had had for Dru’s future, I had been beside Dru when he defeated the Koth. If death waited on the Expanse, it could not be for me.

Could it?

Jotto and Shaya emerged from Kalon’s dwelling and walked past us, their heads together, the words I overheard indicating that they were still discussing tactics for scouting the Expanse. As they headed down the spiralling pathway toward the log-built dwellings further down the hill, I looked past them to the place I had made my home. Blue fields of kerzh-grass at the bottom of the slope reminded me of the first time I had seen the island, the day we had lost so many drax to the rapids upstream. Two drax – Jotto and Manel I’d later discovered – had been sowing seeds as they walked to and fro along clawed ruts of earth. Enough for the two nines of adults and half-growns who occupied Kalon’s Isle at the time. Now, where that flat central section of Kalon’s Island had been cultivated, nines of females and younglings with baskets were already busy cutting leaves, gathering fruit, and batting away the flisks and mites that buzzed round them.

“Zarda?” Dru had taken several steps along the path before he’d realised I was not following, and he stood, hopping from foot to foot.

“Sorry, Dru. I was remembering.” We followed the path down to my dwelling, which was the next highest on the hill, and I took the time to light a torch and shut the door behind us before I spoke again: “Well, now that Kalon and his council know you have the Sight, it won’t be long before everyone else knows.” I pulled a jar of dried sweetleaf from the shelf and set a pot of water on the fire to boil, then indicated the logs by the hearth that I used in place of stools. “You might want to tell Cavel and your other friends yourself before they hear it from someone else. Sit down.”

Dru was still rubbing his nose. “Elver doesn’t believe me,” he said, as he lowered himself onto one of the stools near the hearth and edged it away from the heat. “And Kalon doesn’t think I See clearly.”

I pulled up a stool next to him, and considered his statement. “I think perhaps they won’t allow themselves to believe you,” I said, “which is not quite the same thing. The Sight is a rare gift, Dru, rarer still in one so close to the throne-stool, and your gift is more powerful than mine.” The pot was beginning to steam, so I threw the sweetleaf into it and leaned over to sniff the sweet aroma for a moment. “You must remember that I was not Vizan’s first apprentice, Dru, nor even his second. I was a poor third, taken under his wings only because the first two died of the Sickness.”

“But you learned. Vizan taught you.”

“Yes. But he was still teaching me when he went to his last nest. There was much he did not teach me, and much I still don’t know. One of the things I don’t know is how to control what I See, to sharpen the focus, heighten the smell.” I sighed, and brushed a paw across my black Fate-seer’s tunic, wishing I felt more worthy of it.    

Follow the Tour:

Book Information:

Print Length: 229 pages
Publisher: Mirror World Publishing; 1 edition
Publication Date: August 17, 2020

Purchase Links:

Mirror World Publishing Bookstore: 

Meet the Author:

Brought up in Staffordshire, England, Karen now lives in West Sussex where she is enjoying her retirement. When not writing she enjoys reading, watching films, local WI and U3A activities, volunteering with the South Downs National Park Volunteer Rangers, and spending time with friends and family. She has also flown in a Spitfire!

Karen has written articles on films and British history for a number of British magazines including ‘Yours’, ‘Classic Television’, and ‘Best of British’. In 2009, her essay on ‘British Propaganda Films of the Second World War’ was published in ‘Under Fire: A Century of War Movies’ (Ian Allen Publishing). She also wrote a number of online articles and reviews for The Geek Girl Project (, as their British correspondent. 

Karen’s short stories have appeared in anthologies by Fiction Brigade (2012, e-book), Zharmae Publishing (‘RealLies’, 2013), Audio Arcadia (‘On Another Plane’, 2015), Luna Station Publishing (‘Luna Station Quarterly’ December 2015), Horrified Press (‘Killer Tracks’ and ‘Waiting’, both 2015; and ‘Crossroads’, 2016), and Reflex Fiction (‘Voicemail’, published online 2017). She also won second prize in Writers’ News magazine’s ‘Comeuppance’ competition in 2014 with her short story ‘Hero’.

‘Ascent’ is the third and final book in the ‘Unreachable Skies’ trilogy and Karen is now working on her next science-fiction novel.

You can follow Karen on Twitter @McKaren_Writer, or check out her website at

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Sunday 13 September 2020

Barbecue Season's Far from Over According to Sloane Taylor and her Sizzling Summer Cookbook...

Introducing the latest in my Meals to Make Together series!

Romance meets Outdoor Dining

Why not share a summer night with someone special?

What better than a sizzling romantic dinner, candles, wine and music?

Create 45 delicious and complete dinners for two that can be cooked on your grill or stove. No exotic or expensive ingredients needed. These 103 recipes use everyday products already in your kitchen cabinets. Increasing the dinners is a snap for those fun nights friends or family join you.

You’ll love Date Night Dinners Sizzling Summer, Book 2 in the Meals to Make Together series, because great food is the doorway to infinite possibilities.

Here's one of the recipes to whet your appetite.

Add a little romance to a starry evening with a delicious dinner perfect for two. Uncork the wine and enjoy!

Serve with Avocado Salad and Baked Potatoes on the Grill. These recipes are found under Salad and Veggies in the book's Index.

1 – 1½ lbs. (500 – 750 g) sirloin steak, trimmed of fat
1 lg. onion, quartered
1 med. yellow pepper, seeded and ribs removed
1½ cups (350 ml) garlic infused olive oil* (recipe in Extras section)
½ cup (125 ml) dry red wine
2 rosemary sprigs or 1½ tsp. (7.5 ml) dried 6 parsley sprigs or 1½ tsp. (7.5 ml) dried
Freshly ground pepper to taste
10 – 16 cherry tomatoes
10 – 16 baby bella mushrooms, stems removed
Vegetable oil for grill

Cut beef into 1½ in. (3.8 cm) pieces and then place into a plastic bag or bowl. Separate onion sections, add to meat. Slice yellow pepper into 1 in. (2.54 cm) pieces and add to meat.

Add remaining ingredients, except tomatoes and mushrooms, to the meat mixture. Marinate 6 – 20 hours in fridge. Sirloin requires a long marinate to make it super tender. Filet, porterhouse, and rib eye work well in this recipe. Only marinate them for 3 – 4 hours as they are tender cuts. Coat grill lightly with olive oil. Set grill to medium.

Thread steak and veggies onto skewers, e.g.: sirloin, onion, sirloin, yellow pepper, sirloin, tomato, sirloin, mushroom, and so on. Make sure all the pieces touch but aren't jammed against one another. Discard remaining marinade.

Grill 10 – 15 minutes. Turn skewers frequently so meat cooks evenly.

No skewers? No problem.

Drain sirloin mixture in a colander. Heat a skillet on the grill or stove. Add beef mixture, tomatoes, and mushrooms. Sauté 10 – 15 minutes, stirring and turning frequently.

*If you use regular olive oil add 3 garlic cloves, pressed or chopped fine.
Grab your copy today.

May you enjoy all the days of your life filled with good friends, laughter, and seated around a well-laden table! Sloane

Sloane Taylor is an Award-Winning romance author with a passion that consumes her day and night. She is an avid cook and posts new recipes on her blog every Wednesday. The recipes are user friendly, meaning easy. Learn more about Taylor's cookbooks, Date Night Dinners and Recipes to Create Holidays Extraordinaire on Amazon.

Excerpts from her romance books and free reads can be found on her website, blog, and her Amazon Author Page. Connect with Taylor on Facebook and Twitter.


Monday 7 September 2020

Recipe and a Read: Labor Day Classic Chicken Fettuccini Alfredo and a Teen Psychic Mystery to Solve by Sharon Ledwith...

Picture this – savory, sautéed chicken cooked in a cheesy, creamy sauce with Roma tomatoes, served atop a bed of fettuccini pasta. Is your mouth watering yet? Mine is. One of my go-to meals I order at a restaurant includes this classic pasta dish. So, I thought I’d bring this Italian favorite from the restaurant into your kitchen to enjoy with 8 of your family or friends wherever and whenever you choose to get-together. With a prep time of 30 minutes, and a cook time of 30 minutes, you can divvy up the duties and make it a culinary collaboration. Wine, of course, is optional, but encouraged.

Classic Chicken Fettuccini Alfredo

6 skinless, boneless chicken breasts halves, cut into cubes
6 tbsp. butter, divided
4 cloves garlic, minced, divided
1 tbsp. Italian seasoning
1 lb. (454 g) fettuccini pasta
1 onion, diced
1 – 8 oz. (227 g) package sliced mushrooms
⅓ cup all-purpose flour
1 tbsp. salt
¾ tsp. ground white pepper
3 cups milk
1 cup half-and-half
¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese
8 ozs. (227 g) shredded Colby-Monterey Jack cheese
3 Roma (plum) tomatoes, diced
½ cup sour cream

IN a large skillet set over medium heat combine chicken, 2 tablespoons butter, 2 cloves garlic, and Italian seasoning. Cook until chicken is no longer pink inside. Remove from skillet and set aside.

BRING a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain.

MEANWHILE, melt remaining butter in the skillet. Sauté onion, remaining garlic, and mushrooms until onions are transparent. Stir in flour, salt, and pepper; cook 2 minutes. Slowly add milk and half-and-half, stirring until smooth and creamy. Blend in Parmesan and Colby-Monterey Jack cheeses. Continue to stir until cheese is melted. Stir in chicken mixture, tomatoes, and sour cream. Serve over cooked fettuccini.

IF by any chance you have leftovers, the Alfredo mixture freezes well.

Has all this cooking made you ‘stir’ crazy? After your guest have departed, may I suggest settling in with a good book and a glass of wine? How about a visit to Fairy Falls, or if you’re feeling really adventurous, a trip back in time with The Last Timekeepers? Whichever you choose, I guarantee either series will take you on a journey far away from dirty dishes and messy pots.

Here's a glimpse into one of the books from Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls, my teen psychic mystery series.

The only witness left to testify against an unsolved crime in Fairy Falls isn’t a person…

City born and bred, Hart Stewart possesses the gift of psychometry—the psychic ability to discover facts about an event or person by touching inanimate objects associated with them. Since his mother’s death, seventeen-year-old Hart has endured homelessness, and has learned ways to keep his illiteracy under wraps. He eventually learns of a great-aunt living in Fairy Falls, and decides to leave the only life he’s ever known for an uncertain future.

Diana MacGregor lives in Fairy Falls. Her mother was a victim of a senseless murder. Only Diana’s unanswered questions and her grief keeps her going, until Hart finds her mother’s lost ring and becomes a witness to her murder. Through Hart’s psychic power, Diana gains hope for justice.

Their investigation leads them into the corrupt world threatening Fairy Falls. To secure the town’s future, Hart and Diana must join forces to uncover the shocking truth, or they risk losing the true essence of Fairy Falls forever.

Wednesday 2 September 2020

Cover Reveal: Mirror's Despair by Justine Alley Dowsett and Murandy Damodred...

Welcome to the cover reveal for 
Mirror's Despair
Mirror Worlds, Book 4
Justine Alley Dowsett and Murandy Damodred

About Mirror's Despair by Justine Alley Dowsett and Murandy Damodred:

Mirena’s back to claim what’s hers; this time, Tendro is ready for her. 

Following ten tense years of absence, Mirena Calanais suddenly resurfaces as the Avatar of the Destroyer. With Abraxas’ dark army at her back, she’s determined to reclaim what she feels is her due; control over the lands the Panarch’im once ruled.

His political career and his marriage both drying up, Tendro Seynor long suspected this day would come, but what he isn’t prepared for is Mirena’s return to his personal life. There’s more to Mirena than her persona as the Dark Avatar; she’s the mother of the son Tendro hasn’t seen since the day he was born. As her presence in his life grows, Mirena confides in Tendro that she’s being haunted by someone who should be dead. As this vengeful presence closes in on her and the Destroyer’s hand thouches the world once more, they begin to realize their son may be at the center of it all and his innocence hangs in the balance.

Can Tendro and Mirena put aside their rivalry for the sake of their families, or will the bad blood between them finally escalate to the point where it has the power to tear the entire world apart?

Book Details:

Page count: 242
Genre: Dark Fantasy, Romance, Fantasy
Publisher: Mirror World Publishing
Publish Date: October 17, 2020
Pre-Order Link:

Meet the Authors:

Justine Alley Dowsett is the author of nine novels and counting, and one of the founders of Mirror World Publishing. Her books, which she often co-writes with her sister, Murandy Damodred, range from young adult science fiction to dark fantasy/romance. She earned a BA in Drama from the University of Windsor, honed her skills as an entrepreneur by tackling video game production, and now she dedicates her time to writing, publishing, and occasionally role-playing with her friends.

With a background in Drama and Communications from the University of Windsor, Murandy Damodred enjoys fantasy fiction with strong romantic subplots. She is an avid role-player and is happiest when living vicariously through her characters. Though she'd rather think of herself as the heroine of her next novel, in the real world she is a new mom living in Windsor, Ontario, training to become a nurse.

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