Guest Post

HAVE A BOOK TO PROMOTE? Lyrical Pens welcomes guest posts. Answer a questionnaire or create your own post. FYI, up front: This site is a definite PG-13. For details, contact cj

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Tax day is not April 15, and a field of dreams

cj Sez: Tuesday, April 17, 2018, is the deadline for filing your 2017 federal tax return. 

   It’s also the last day to make a contribution to an individual retirement account (IRA) for it to count against 2017 income, the last day to file a tax extension, and the day quarterly estimated tax payments are due for those who make them.

   So why is tax day not on April 15 this year?

   It’s because of a combination of the 15th falling on a Sunday and a holiday unique to Washington, D.C., falling on Monday the 16th.

   The nation's capital celebrates Emancipation Day to mark the date that President Abraham Lincoln freed slaves there in 1862. Yes, it's a holiday only for D.C., but it affects when taxes are due, so tax payers get a two-day extension this year.

Next year’s tax day will be on the standard date of April 15.
   I have a conundrum. Now that Crimson Romance is closed, do I self-publish or join the hunt again for an agent or another traditional publisher?  

   There are advantages and disadvantages to either choice, of course. The first things I noted in my research are:

~ Self-publishing allows the writer to keep everything s/he nets from the sale of the stories/novels. I say “nets” because, unless the sale is on Amazon or through an indie book store which collects the taxes, the author is responsible for that.  However,
It also means authors must contract and finance everything: editing (please do not try to publish without this step), cover design, layout, production, marketing, publicity, distribution, storage, marketing, and maybe selling out of the trunk of their vehicle because libraries and book stores may not agree to carry the books.
Unless there are beau coup sales, the author has trouble recouping launch and marketing expenditures.

~ The traditional approach means the writer is only responsible for writing the story plus some of the marketing and promoting. However,
S/he also earns a smaller (sometimes a lot smaller) portion of the sales revenue.
Don’t count on a pre-publishing cash advance, because they are disappearing like ice cubes in a cup of hot tea.

~ Self-publishing allows the author to publish when s/he feels the story is ready and often that is much sooner than a publisher could schedule.

   Oh yeah, the thought that sales dollars flow directly to me is enticing. That said, the up-front costs might be a barrier for me. On the one hand, I'll have to see where guesstimates of fees lead me. On the other hand, all of that is really chaff.

   As a writer/author, however I'm able to publish or not, success is really all about writing a good story that readers want to read. (Sounds like a motto to me.) 

   Sounds also like my field of dreams: If I write it, they will come.

   All you self-publishers out there…how do you do it? What’s your biggest worry? What’s your greatest expense? What’s your biggest headache with Amazon? How much time do you 
dedicate to track/promote your book(s)?

   That’s it for today’s post. You-all guys keep on keeping on, and I’ll try to do the same.

Which reminds me, since I’m still learning to speak Southern, I found the following from linguist Michael Montgomery:  Montgomery claims that “y’all” goes back to the Scots-Irish phrase “ye aw,” and he offers as evidence a letter written in 1737 by an Irish immigrant in New York to a friend back home: “Now I beg of ye aw to come over here.” Montgomery’s hypothesis is that "ye aw” was Americanized into “y’all,” which is indeed a contraction of “you all” but would not have come into being without the influence of the Scots-Irish phrase.

My version is simply what my oldest granddaughter said when she was about six. She has a Southern mama who says “y’all,” and a Northern daddy who says “you guys.” One day, exasperated while trying to get their attention, she blurted out, “Hey, you-all guys!” I figure if it’s good enough for her, it’s perfect for me.

A 5-star review of DEADLY STAR from “Avid Reader.”
Scientist Dr. Mirabel Campbell finds her life in danger as well as several friends when her hobby of star gazing has her stumbling across something no one was supposed to see. A top-secret nanosatellite. When her ex-husband Sully shows up at the most opportune time to save her life she also has to deal with long-buried emotions. And it turns out Sully isn't who she thought he was. But Mirabel is extremely intelligent and it doesn't take long for her to see that 1+1=her! And her discovery along with her scientific specialty makes her the target of a mysterious psychopath who sends an assassin to silence her. Sully & Mirabel obviously have unfinished business but secrets drove them apart once, will they again? When I first read the premise of this book I almost didn't read it but the review ratings changed my mind and I'm so glad they did. Kept me on the edge of my seat. This action packed drama filled book has a high rating for a reason. IT WAS GREAT!
Buy it now at  
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Sunday, April 8, 2018

A bit about Isaac Asimov

cj Sez: I got to reading about science fiction and came across the preeminent author in the genre, Isaac Azimov. 

When I discovered the anniversary of his death was April 6, the proximity to the date of this post sent me down a rabbit hole of research on his life and writings.

There is a wealth of information out there (two sites are referenced at the bottom of the post). Here are some of the comments about his books and life:

This prolific writer, whose writings included violence, is attributed with this quote:
 “Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent.”
Isaac Asimov's first published book-length work was Pebble in the Sky in 1950, but he didn’t start writing full time until after publication (in 1960) of The Intelligent Man's Guide to Science earned him a decent income.

Asimov was claustrophobic and preferred to write in small, windowless rooms. He routinely sat at his typewriter from 7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. and churned out as many as ten books a year. During his lifetime, he published 40 novels, 382 short stories, and more than 280 non-fiction books.

“If the doctor told me I had six minutes to live, I’d type a little faster.”

Nightfall was originally a short story written in 1941. Twenty-three years later, it was voted the best short science fiction story of all time by the Science Fiction Writers of America.

I, Robot, published in 1950, is a collection of nine previously published short stories that are woven together as a 21st-century interview with a fictional robopsychologist. The collection was followed by four full novels.

Asimov coined the term “robotics.”

Although he wrote books that featured space flight, he flew only twice in his lifetime and that was while in the military.

The noted American author and biochemist was born Isaac Yudovich Ozimov sometime between October 4, 1919, and January 2, 1920, in Russia. Since there were no accurate records of his birth, he chose January 2 as his birthday.

He became a U.S. citizen when he was eight, began to write short stories at age eleven, and became a paid contributor to science fiction magazines before he was twenty.

His father did not approve of him reading pulp science fiction, so Isaac pointed to the word “science” in the titles and said it was educational material.

Isaac Asimov died on April 6, 1992, after having contracted HIV from a blood transfusion during the triple bypass operation he had in 1983.

That’s it for this post. I’m sure I’m not the only one who gets lost for hours down a research rabbit hole. Where did your last research rabbit hole take you? Care to share on this blog? Let’s discuss that.

Okay, you-all guys keep on keeping on, and I’ll try to do the same.

I’ll leave you with one of the 5-star reviews of Choosing Carter:
This was a great read. Being part of Crimson Romance, I was expecting a standard romance. I was pleasantly surprised with the suspenseful action that I found instead. The book has a romantic element to it, but it is truly a suspense novel. You follow these characters through the Colorado wilderness trying to stop terrorists. The characters are fun, and this novel is a real page turner. We get into Byrn's head well, but I wish a little more time was spent on Carter, his chapters were always short. A very fun read, and full of suspense with great chapter endings that had you on the edge of your seat. I would recommend to any fans of suspense.

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Sunday, April 1, 2018

Easter and Passover

May this Easter day bring peace and happiness 
into your life,

knowing that even when we feel like giving up, 
there is hope.

Wishing you the Gift of Faith
The Blessing of Hope
And a Life filled with Joy

Have a blessed and happy Easter Day

And for those celebrating Passover…
חג פסח


May your life be blessed 
with peace, prosperity, and joy.


Sunday, March 25, 2018

Newsy item and Historical fiction bytes

cj Sez: Newsy tidbit: Now that spring has sprung, U.S. and Canadian Coast Guard ice cutters getting ready to clear the shipping lanes in the Great Lakes.

Three Coast Guard cutters gathering at the Soo Locks will open shipping channels in Whitefish Bay and Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada, to facilitate $500 million worth of commercial traffic during the shipping season. In an average year, the Coast Guard breaks ice for 120 days. Whitefish Bay on the eastern end of the southern shore of Lake Superior is 90 percent ice-covered. There are windrows of ice piled four feet in upper Whitefish Bay. 

The U.S. Coast Guard operates nine ice-breaking-capable cutters on the Great Lakes, including the heavy ice-breaking Mackinaw. At 240 feet in length, the vessel, with a crew of nine officers and 46 enlisted personnel, can break solid ice up to 42 inches.  (Excerpted from the, March 23, 2018)
cj Sez: Ice 42-inches thick? I moved from Michigan to the Gulf Coast, so let's get back to my personal reality…

The above is a picture of about 50 feet of my side yard in Mobile. The picture was taken March 8. What a difference 1,300 miles makes.
Some things to remember when writing historical fiction manuscripts:

First, as with all stories, well-developed conflict drives the plot.

I have seen historical manuscripts described as those set in a time that predates the end of World War II.
   That makes a lot of writers I know historical figures, so I don’t buy that definition. Historical to me would predate the end of World War I, but you go ahead and be safe. Use the World War II definition.

Historical characters, their dialogues and dress have to be appropriate to the time and setting.

  Believe it or not, sailors in the 17th and 18th centuries pioneered the wearing of trousers ("slops") made of a denim fabric called “jean.” but the plural term “jeans” wasn’t used in the United States until 1843.1 

Historical manuscripts require long hours of research (notice my footnotes just in this post).

The things that fill the scenes have to belong there. Examples:
    Incandescent lights didn’t exist before the late 1800s.2  Before 1947 the number of U.S. homes with television sets could be measured in the thousands.3 (It's likely that very wealthy people may have had one.)

Don’t beat your reader over the head with all the historical details you’ve discovered...the dreaded info dump.
   Historical elements are essential but mustn’t be boring. They should be blended into the plot. You want these details to draw the reader deeper into your story.
Yeah, right, D.T. (Love this one.)

All of the above points directly to long hours of exacting research to write a historical fiction novel. Keep in mind, if a history buff reading your novel spots an error s/he considers egregious, your Amazon review will not only reflect that reader’s disappointment but can deflect potential buyers as well.

That’s it for this week’s post. Please let me know if you found a nugget in here you can use or improve upon.

You-all guys keep on keeping on, and I’ll try to do the same.

Although Crimson Romance has closed, Simon&Schuster still has (so far) my books available on Amazon, so stop by and try one. I think you’ll like it.
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Choosing Carter  -- Kindle  /  Nook  /  Kobo   /  iTunes/iBook
Deadly Star --  Kindle  / Nook  / Kobo
California Kisses—10 ebooks publisher’s bundle (includes Deadly Star)
The Great Outdoors  8 ebooks publisher’s bundle (includes Choosing Carter)
Bodies in Motion — 10 ebooks publisher’s bundle (includes Choosing Carter)
Short romance stories in:
        Pieces Anthology 20+ short stories published by Mobile Writers Guild
       The Posse a Western anthology of 8 short stories

Sunday, March 18, 2018

ABCDE Short story structure

cj Sez: Since yesterday was St. Patrick’s Day, I’m sending all of you my wish that the Luck o’ the Irish (includes health, happiness, love, success…all the good things) continues with you throughout 2018.  

I’ve taken to writing more short stories recently and find myself referring to the following notes for guidance and reassurance that I’m on the right track. I’ve posted about this before, but perhaps you’re new to the process, and the notes will help you as well.

The first thing I do is put a copy of Anne Lamott’s ABCDE structure of a short story within eyesight:

Action—Start with something happening to draw the reader into the story. 
Background—Provide context for readers to understand how the characters came to the current situation
Conflict—The characters must want something they don’t have and work to achieve it (sometimes against each other)
Development—The 70-80 percent of the story describing the characters’ struggles to get what they want. Each time it appears they have the goal within reach, give them something more difficult to overcome until they reach the climax  (cj Sez: That’s the part where you get them up a tree and throw rocks at them.)
Ending—What happens after they reach their goal. In a romance, the hero and heroine realize their “happily-ever-after”. In a mystery or thriller, all the loose ends are tied up. In a literary story, the ending may be rather ambiguous.

I merge Ms. Lamott’s guidelines with a ton of writing tidbits I’ve cobbled together from how-to workshops and essays. And this is what I’ve learned (and a lot of this applies to novels as well)…

Short stories are about ONE thing, so start as close to the central action as possible, and I find that to be close to the end.

Try to let the setting help reveal the character and advance the plot. This is where a deep point of view can reveal internal character through reactions to setting.

In a short story, every line should (probably must) serve more than one purpose.

Every character needs to want something, even if it’s only to be left alone so s/he can take a nap.

Make the reader care about your main character. Snappy dialogue, beautiful settings, or surprising plot twists won’t keep your readers turning the pages if your main character is boring or unlikable. They need someone to root for.

That being said, all great characters have flaws—something that readers recognize or sympathize with. You don’t have space in a short story for paragraph-long character descriptions. This is where less is more, necessarily. One significant detail can tweak the imagination, and a complete character is formed in the reader’s mind. This is the character that can lead the reader to an unexpected twist ending, perhaps best exemplified by the master of twisted endings, William Sydney Porter (O. Henry).
A story with a moral appended is like the bill of a mosquito. It bores you, and then injects a stinging drop to irritate your conscience.Strictly Business by O. Henry 
Okay, all you short-story writers, is there something I’ve missed that you’ve found helpful?

That’s it for this post. You-all guys keep on keeping on, and I’ll try to do the same.

By the by, Adams Media has closed the Crimson Romance imprint. My books are currently still available on Amazon, but I’m on the hunt for another publisher for my next novels. Wish me luck.

Short romance stories in:
      Pieces Anthology 20+ short stories by Mobile Writers Guild
    The Posse a Western anthology of 8 short stories
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Sunday, March 11, 2018

40 Days of questions, and a good copy edit is a must

cj Sez: Daylight Savings Time is here. Did you remember to Spring Forward one hour? I did then forgot to actually do it (sigh).

I wonder how many of my Lyrical Pens visitors have been, like me, the beneficiaries of author and editor Ramona De Felice Long’s 40 days of questions.  Instead of fasting for Lent, Ramona, my Sisters in Crime/Guppy mate, pledged to ask three thought-provoking questions (writing tasks) every day for 40 days.

I can’t believe how fast the time has flown. Only a few more days to go. I’ve saved them all as reminders and cues while I’m writing.

The next time you’re on Facebook, slip over to Ramona’s site and ask to friend her. You can reach her on Facebook at  or at her website:

Speaking of editors, do you ever open a book, read a few chapters (or even a few lines), and then put it down because of errata gremlins, i.e.; those typos, misspellings, and factual errors that drive a pedantic like me crazy. One or two will make me shake my head and pause. More than that and the book becomes a give-away.

It used to be that indie books were the worst. They tended to be poorly edited and poorly written. Now, I find errors in books by established authors and big publishing houses who should know better. Perhaps the problem comes down to the time it takes to do a detailed copy edit vs. getting the book on the market.

Self-published books are so often done on such a shoestring (cost-wise) that the author can't afford to hire a copy editor. Unfortunately, I have come across some who simply don’t want to go through the process.

Speaking from experience, self-edits and beta readers do not, will not, and cannot catch everything that a good copy editor will. You do not, however, need to hire a copy editor for your first draft…nor your second or third or however many drafts it takes to get your story told.  Don’t presume that because you’ve typed “The End,” your manuscript is ready to publish. It’s probably months away from publication. It needs fresh eyes. That’s when you should consider hiring a copy editor.

What does a copy editor do, you ask? Besides checking spelling and correcting grammar and punctuation, copy editors review the manuscript for proper word usage and syntax. They make sure the author has maintained a logical and consistent flow of style, and they polish the story structure. 

Personally I want my manuscript to be the best I can make it. I read the document on the computer screen, and then I print a few pages. Because the text looks different when printed, It makes it easier to find the missing comma, period, or quotation mark that was missed on numerous computer-screen read-throughs. Sometimes, I make a copy of the printed page. Copying changes the size of the font once again, and I will (too often) find something else to correct. When you’ve gotten this far, read it out loud. Your mind won’t self-correct what isn't on the page when the text is read out loud. 

It’s a personal and financial consideration for each author, but please consider hiring an editor if you can afford it. Caveat: Expect that if your manuscript is accepted by a publisher, their punctuation rules and style manual for how they want their publication to look may differ from your copy editor’s input, and there could be more changes needed. But don’t think of your copy editor dollars as being wasted. They got your story accepted.
Got any horror or triumphant stories to share? Lyrical Pens would love to read them.

You-all guys keep on keeping on, and I’ll try to do the same.

And now some verbiage from my sponsors:
PIECES ANTHOLOGY…I’m thrilled to have two stories included in this collection of short stories and poems by more than 20 authors from the Gulf Coast of Alabama, including USA TODAY best-selling authors Carolyn Haines and Craig A. Price Jr. The anthology is available at
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Sunday, March 4, 2018

Milestone or millstone?

cj Sez: I am pleased to announce that I recently passed another annual milestone: I had a birthday—of course, the cake was chocolate.

I spent the day taking advantage of free celebratory lunches and free desserts at more than one restaurant. Interestingly, those freebies were not age-based. That is, I didn’t have to be a certain age to qualify. But that age thing is a big deal for me and a lot of women, maybe “most” women. Aging can be a millstone if you let it.

We (that plural pronoun includes men) have come to the realization that the world is geared to the younger generation. They get ads for computers, tablets that can do everything but dance, hundreds of phone apps, outrageously sexy vacations, every sort of sports equipment you can think of, and flirty workout apparel that’s sure to inspire you to shape and tone. Past the age of let’s say 35, it seems the majority of advertising is aimed at medicines … for constipation, overactive bladders, or erectile dysfunction.

Agents, some of whom look like they’re two years out of high school, voice their interest in finding the unique voices of young writers that they can “develop.” I was personally exposed to this attitude at a conference a few years ago, and it put a damper on my ambition…for a short time.

Then I decided, I didn’t need an agent to write. Personally, I didn’t even “need” to be published, (although I have appreciated very much publishers' affirmations of my story telling skills).

I did and do, however, need to write.

Here’s a quote by author Babette Hughes that I keep on my computer:

Age is not a disability, it is a second chance at life. I’m 92 years old and Post Hill Press has just published my three-novel Kate Brady series; (The HatThe Red ScarfThe Necklace); I’m working on my fourth novel (Searching For Vivian) and fifth book, and am a frequent contributor to the Huffington Post. 

(cj sezBabette is now 94 and has published that fourth novel, as well as a memoir, Lost and Found. If this post seemed familiar, it’s a modified re-run.)

I had a wonderful time at the 2nd Annual Mobile Literary Festival today, an event that shines the spotlight on local authors and poets, both traditionally and self-published.

The talented writers conducted workshops on marketing and publicity, writing the forbidden, story creation, and an emerging writers’ workshop exploring world building and character development methods. Poets read from their published works; and fans of sci-fi, fantasy, horror, magical realism, and the supernatural enjoyed the Speculative Fiction discussion panel.

All of that in one day. And it was free! The Festival was sponsored by the Mobile Writers Guild, the Mobile Public Library, and the Metro Mobile Reading Council. Thank you and sa-lute.

So, tell me. What keeps you from writing? More importantly, what inspires you to write?

That’s it for this week’s post. You-all guys keep on keeping on, and I’ll try to do the same.

And now some verbiage from my sponsors:
PIECES ANTHOLOGY…I’m thrilled to have two short stories included in this collection of short stories and poems by more than 20 authors from the Gulf Coast of Alabama, including USA TODAY best-selling authors Carolyn Haines and Craig A. Price Jr. The anthology is available at
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Sunday, February 25, 2018

Word counts and “rules” for newbie writers

cj Sez: Wanted, Readers and Writers in the Mobile, AL area. Come on down to the 2018 Mobile Literary Festival on March 3 at the Ben May Main Library. I’d love to see you there.

    Back in 2012, Writers Digest contributor Chuck Sambuchino wrote: Word Count for Novels and Children’s Books: The Definitive Post. I’ve excerpted his informative post below because I think he offers “good rules of thumb” for writers to use as a guide. (I did a Google search for genre word count, and found Internet sites in 2017 that still reference Mr. Sambuchino’s info.)

“Word count for novels and books is something I don’t think about too often until I travel to a writers’ conference, and then someone asks a simple, innocent question: “How long should a book be?” With that in mind, I’ve tried to put together the definitive post on word count for fiction (novels, young adult, middle grade, children’s books and even memoir).

The most important thing here is to realize that there are always exceptions to these rules. However, aiming to be the exception is setting yourself up for disappointment. What writers fail to see is that for every successful exception to the rule (e.g., a first-time 175,000-word novel), there are at least 100 failures if not 300.

“But what about J.K. Rowling???” asks that man in the back of the room, putting his palms up the air. Well—remember the first Harry Potter book?  It wasn’t that long. After JK made the publishing house oodles and oodles of money, she could do whatever she wanted.  And since most writers haven’t earned oodles, they need to stick to the rules and make sure they work gets read. The other thing that will make you an exception is if your writing is absolutely brilliant. But let’s face it. Most of our work does not classify as “absolutely brilliant” or we’d all have 16 novels at this point.

Between 80,000 and 89,999 words is a good range you should be aiming for. This is a 100% safe range for literary, mainstream, women’s, romance, mystery, suspense, thriller and horror. Anything in this word count won’t scare off any agent anywhere. Now, speaking broadly, you can have as few as 71,000 words and as many as 109,000 words. That is the total range. When it dips below 80K, it might be perceived as too short—not giving the reader enough. It seems as though going over 100K is all right, but not by much. In short:
80,000 – 89,999:       Totally cool
90,000 – 99,999:       Generally safe
70,000 – 79,999:       Might be too short; probably all right
100,000 – 109,999:    Might be too long; probably all right
Below 70,000:           Too short
110,000 or above       Too long
Chick lit falls into this realm, but chick lit books tend to be a bit shorter and faster. 70-75K is not bad at all.

Science fiction and fantasy are the big exceptions because these categories tend to run long. It has to do with all the descriptions and world-building in the writing.

With these genres, I would say 100,000 – 115,000 is an excellent range. 
Writers tend to know that these categories run long so they make them run really long and hurt their chances. There’s nothing wrong with keeping it short (say, 105K) in these areas. It shows that you can whittle your work down.

Middle grade is from 20,000 – 55,000, depending on the subject matter and age range, and the word count of these books has been trending up in recent years. When writing a longer book that is aimed at 12-year-olds (and could maybe be considered “tween”), using the term “upper middle grade” is advisable. With upper middle grade, you can aim for 40,000 – 55,000 words.

Perhaps more than any other, YA is the one category where word count is very flexible. For starters, 55,000 – 69,999 is a great range. 

The word round the agent blogosphere is that these books tend to be trending longer, saying that you can top in the 80Ks. When it gets into the 80s, you may be all right—but you have to have a reason for going that high. Again, higher word counts usually mean that the writer does not know how to edit themselves. A good reason to have a longer YA novel that tops out at the high end of the scale is if it’s science fiction or fantasy. Once again, these categories are expected to be a little longer because of the world-building.

The standard is text for 32 pages. That might mean one line per page, or more. 500-600 words is a good number to aim for.

There wasn’t a whole about this on agent and editor sites, but from what I found, these can be anywhere from 50K to 80K. 65,000 is a solid number to aim for.

Memoir is the same as a novel and that means you’re aiming for 80,000-89,999. However, keep in mind when we talked about how people don’t know how to edit their work. This is specially true in memoir, I’ve found, because people tend to write everything about their life—because it all really happened. Coming in a bit low (70-79K) is not a terrible thing, as it shows you know how to focus on the most interesting parts of your life and avoid a Bill-Clinton-esque tome-length book.”

And cj Sez: Before you submit to an agency, be sure to check the agency’s website for their specific requirements. Okay, you-all guys keep on keeping on, and I’ll try to do the same.

Is your word count in the ballpark for the genre you’re writing?

And now, from my sponsors: 
PIECES ANTHOLOGYA collection of short stories and poems written by more than 20 authors from the Gulf Coast of Alabama, including USA TODAY best-selling authors Carolyn Haines and Craig A. Price Jr. and, hand waving frantically, me, cj petterson. The collection is available at

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Sunday, February 18, 2018


cj Sez: Paradise Valley by USAToday best-selling author Rosanne Bittner is not a new release but one that I happened across while doing research for my Western work-in-progress.

The novel is historical fictiona Western romance about Maggie McPhee Tucker and Sage Lightfoot. Violated, battered, and widowed while on her way to Oregon, Maggie is determined to exact vengeance for her husband’s murder. Sage lets her tag along with him even though he has his doubts, but Maggie holds her own and then some in untamed Wyoming in the mid 1880s.

Ms. Bittner knows her historical facts but didn’t beat the reader over the head with them. I particularly enjoyed that the fast pace and conflict were not interrupted by the historical detail dumps that some writers in this genre pack into one complex sentence.

I’m not into sappy romance stories with bleeding hearts, and Paradise Valley is none of that. It’s tightly written, gritty, and tough, as I would expect the Wild West to be. If you like strong women and men who will do what it takes to do more than just survive, you’ll like this novel. I give it 4.5 Stars.

Calling all mystery, suspense, thriller, and crime writers. Sisters-in-Crime is an international organization of several hundred authors able and willing to encourage and applaud your work. And they do not hesitate to share their expertise.

The next time you’re on Facebook, drop by their page and see what’s happening.

In case you didn’t read Lyrical Pens last week (and why not?), here’s a reminder of an upcoming one-day reader and writer eventThe 2018 Mobile Literary Festival:

Discover book marketing and publicity
Every author, no matter the publishing method, is responsible for marketing and publicity. But, why go it alone? The Book Marketing: What Works! panel discussion brings together Emily Chambers Blejwas, Angela QuarlesFrank Kelso, and Lee Ann Ward to reveal their marketing success stories, challenges, and pitfalls experienced along their way to becoming not only authors, but sellers! See you at this and other programs at the Mobile Literary Festival on March 3, 2018 at the Ben May Main Library.

cj Sez: That’s it for this post. You-all guys keep on keeping on, and I’ll try to do the same.
Now a word from my sponsors…

PIECES ANTHOLOGY…The Mobile Writers Guild’s collection of short stories and poems by more than 20 authors from the Gulf Coast of Alabama, including USAToday best-selling authors Carolyn Haines and Craig A. Price Jr. Available on Amazon at

PS: (I’m one of the more than 20 authors, too.)

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Choosing Carter  -- Kindle  /  Nook  /  Kobo   /  iTunes/iBook
Deadly Star --  Kindle  / Nook  / Kobo
California Kisses—10 book publisher’s bundle @ 99 cents (includes Deadly Star)
The Great Outdoors  8 book publisher’s bundle @99 cents (includes Choosing Carter)
Bodies in Motion — 10 book publisher’s bundle @99 cents (includes Choosing Carter)

Sunday, February 11, 2018

2018 Mobile Literary Festival

cj Sez: Wanted, Readers and Writers. The 2018 Mobile Literary Festival kicks off on March 3 at the Ben May Main Library, and if you’re in the Mobile area, we’d love to see you there.

Excerpts from press releases:

How do you begin? Where do you go from there? How do you get from brilliant idea to “I hate every word,” to published novel? The Emerging Writers’ Workshop will explore story creation, world building, and character development methods, including Michael Hague’s Six-Point Plot Structure, story mapping, free writing, and spider diagrams. The workshop features Emily BlejwasCarrie Dalby CoxAngela Quarles, and Joyce Scarbrough, and participants will be given the chance to discuss their own story ideas with these distinguished authors.

And for you fans of Sci-fi, fantasy, horror, magical realism, or the supernatural: Transport, beam, or ride your broomstick over to the Ben May Main Library for a Speculative Fiction discussion panel featuring authors Craig Price, Jr., Meleesa Swann, Steven Moore, and Lee Ann Ward. Readers and writers will go behind the curtain of their favorite genres. Following Speculative Fiction, audience members can explore the genres of Women’s Lit, Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction, Mystery, Romance, Poetry, and Hybrid Fiction. 

Find more updates and the day’s schedule on their Facebook page:

I’ll be there as well, so be sure to stop by and say “Hi.”

PIECES ANTHOLOGY…The Mobile Writers Guild has published a collection of short stories and poems by more than 20 authors from the Gulf Coast of Alabama, including USA TODAY best-selling authors Carolyn Haines and Craig A. Price Jr.

Other authors featured in the anthology include: Candice Conner, Joyce Scarbrough, Lady Lester, Frances Roberts, Ron Polizzi, Mavis M. Jarrell, Dee Jordan, Oksana Leslie, Rachell Jackson, Carrie Dalby, Caren Rich, Isabella N. Jetten, D. Dean Carroll, Steven Moore, Ross Conner Smith, Christa Stanley, Jodie Cain Smith, Jim Hancock, and Me, cj petterson. The collection is available at

Valentine’s Day is coming up and the Mad Catters have put together the perfect gift: The Trouble with Cupidan anthology of short stories, all featuring fun-sized bites of Trouble, the black cat detective. But wait, there’s more. The anthology is a feel-good two-fer. You get to read 10 great, short story mysteries spiced with romance and all proceeds from the sales of the anthology go to BEST FRIENDS ANIMAL SANCTUARY, a caring place for homeless pets. Such a deal! Best Friends Animal Sanctuary and the Mad Catters thank you for your support.

Order it now on Amazon:
Question: What’s your favorite book that made it to the big screen?

My answer:  Without a doubt, my favorite is Charlotte Brontë’s JANE EYRE. Neither of the characters is perfect, not in features and not for each other. They are deeply flawed; yet, they make it through somehow. It’s the ultimate romance story.

Now you: What’s your favorite book that made it to the big screen?

cj Sez: That’s all for this post. You-all guys keep on keeping on, and I’ll try to do the same.

Sponsors say: Here’s how to get a lot of reading for a little money…buy one (or all) of these great romance bundles:
California Kisses—10 book publisher’s bundle @ 99 cents (includes Deadly Star)
The Great Outdoors  8 book publisher’s bundle @99 cents (includes Choosing Carter)
Bodies in Motion — 10 book publisher’s bundle @99 cents (includes Choosing Carter)

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Choosing Carter  -- Kindle  /  Nook  /  Kobo   /  iTunes/iBook
Deadly Star --  Kindle  / Nook  / Kobo