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, June 24, 2018

Deadlines, research, and rabbit holes

cj Sez:  I wish I could have begged, borrowed, or stolen some of Elmore Leonard’s discipline for writing. What started as necessity for him turned into habit when he became an established author.

“To support his family, he worked as a copywriter at an ad agency, where he developed his aversion to adverbs, and also his knack for brief, punched-up prose. He began a habit of waking at five a.m. and immediately starting to write -- not even putting the water on for coffee until he had something down on paper -- then going to work at the office, first in advertising and later writing educational films for the Encyclopedia Britannica.” (Source:

It used to be that I worked better when I had a short-term deadline. So, I thought if I gave myself a deadline, I’d have the incentive to keep going. Found out that’s not true because somehow I seem to know the deadline is self-imposed. (As if!) I manage to bury my deadline under weeks of procrastination that I called “research.” (Leonard paid others to do his research.) It seems that the more I research, the less creativity I have. And if I get bogged down in facts, the stories will suffer (I’m working on three manuscripts right now).

Once I have an idea for a story, research is what I do first. But, of course, I can't anticipate every need, and I head back to Google regularly. Too regularly and that's when I disappear into a rabbit hole of information. I'm trying to curtail those random distractions by making notes that I can research the next morning, before I start working again. In fact, last night I made a note or two when I went to bed . . . I get a lot of good ideas just before or just after I fall asleep. That’s why I keep a pad of paper and a pencil on the table next to the bed. 

Sundays are for family and etc., so I won’t be sitting in front of this computer for very long but Monday that’s when I’ll start writing …right after I feed all the critters, including me, weeding and picking up pine cones, keeping a doctor’s appointment, doing a bit of housecleaning, watching the news at 5, 6, and 6:30, making supper, doing dishes. I promise you I won’t be making any deep dives down research rabbit holes. (If I promise myself, I’ll probably find some rabbit hole in which to disappear.)

I suppose some of you might say I’ll still be procrastinating. Nah, it’s just delayed discipline ‘cause once I get all those housekeeping things done, I’ll be sure to start writing on Tuesday. 

That’s all for now, but how about you? When do you get your best ideas? How do you conquer the blank page in front of you? How do you stay out of the research rabbit holes?

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

Another 5-star Amazon review for Deadly Star…a click on the cover picture will take you directly to Amazon to buy a great vacation read. 5 out of 5 stars Hard to Put Down Till the End  From front to back this action-packed mystery kept me guessing about what could possibly happen next to make Mirabel's predicament any more complex. Her practical scientific mind stayed in constant contradiction with her impractical attraction to her ex-husband which added a genuine human aspect. CJ Petterson's broad knowledge of astronomy, airplanes, law enforcement, espionage and peoples' psychological foibles brings this book to life. I could see, smell, and almost touch each character as they interacted with emotions ranging from greed to love. As one who is usually successful in guessing the ending in mysteries, I failed with this one.
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Simon&Schuster Author Page =

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Father's day has a history, too

cj Sez: I hope all the wonderful dads out there have a Happy Father’s Day.

   Father’s Day, like Mother’s Day, has a history that goes well beyond greeting cards. The first known American celebration to honor fathers happened in 1908 at the Williams Memorial Methodist Episcopal Church South in Fairmont, West Virginia. A Mrs. Grace Golden Clayton wanted to have a memorial service for the more than 200 fathers who had died in the Monongah mining explosion that occurred on December 6, 1907. Described as “the worst mining disaster in American History,” the explosion left some 1,000 children without fathers.

   Two years later, Father’s Day was formally observed in
Spokane, Washington, on June 19, 1910 (the third Sunday in June). It became an annual celebration there and started events in other towns, but did not become a permanent national holiday for decades. Congress first introduced a bill to honor fathers in 1913, but it did not pass. In 1966, Lyndon Johnson used his Presidential Pen to issue a proclamation designating the third Sunday in June to honor fathers. Father’s Day finally became law in 1972, when President Richard Nixon signed a law declaring that Father’s Day be celebrated annually on the third Sunday in June.

cj’s note: According to a National Review analysis, at the time of the mine disaster in the early 1900s, fewer than eight percent of kids under the age of ten lived in a household that didn’t include their biological or adoptive father. Today, one in four kids under the age of ten have absentee fathers.
My father struggled through a hard life, was raised without a father and with little love. I don’t remember that we ever said “I love you” to each other but I knew he loved me by the unexpected, thoughtful things he did for me. What I remember most about Daddy are his strong hands, his Swedish accent, and seeing him dance the schottische around the kitchen on Saturday mornings when he made breakfast. I miss him still.    

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


5 Star review for Choosing Carter, a fast and exciting vacation read . . . 5.0 out of 5 stars Another Page Turner!    No slow passages in this suspenseful and action-filled novel. The interesting cast of characters and even the rugged landscape (so well described) contribute to the feeling of "being there." Highly recommend this one.

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Father’s Day Info Sources:

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Since I can't decide...

cj Sez: I guess one day the decision will be made for me. But in the meantime, because I'm thinking about self-publishing, I’ve been doing a lot of research on the subject. And boy, are there a lot of opinions and experiences.

   I’m going to take one of my short stories and try to format it to see if I really want to become an indie author. In case you didn’t know the difference between an “indie author” and an “indie publisher,” here are excerpts of an article defining the two:

An indie author is an author who maintains complete creative control by self-publishing his or her book through companies such as CreateSpace or Book Baby, both of whom offer editing, proofreading services-for-hire, along with cover and page design services or do-it-yourself templates.

   The indie author who uses one of the company’s ISBNs is not the publisher of record, although CreateSpace allows, with conditions, the author to use her/his own ISBN.

An indie publisher is someone who treats the book publishing project as a serious business and not just a hobby. The author is the CEO of his or her indie publishing company.

   Indie publishers know their name is their brand and want their name associated with a quality product. They know consumers will not accept shoddy product design.

A traditional publisher is any publisher—big or small—that agrees to publish a book on behalf of an author and to pay the costs for doing so.

For more on this subject, drop by:


Congratulations to the finalists for the 2018 Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction:

 Exposed by Lisa Scottoline
 Proof by C.E. Tobisman
 Testimony by Scott Turow

   The award was established in 2011 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of “To Kill A Mockingbird,” written by former Alabama law student, Harper Lee. The University of Alabama School of Law partnered with the ABA Journal to award the prize to a published work of fiction from the previous year that best demonstrates “the role of lawyers in society and their power to effect change.” 

   The inaugural prize went to John Grisham for his novel, The Confession.

   The 2018 award ceremony is scheduled to take place in late August during the Library of Congress National Book Festival

   And you have a chance to vote for your favorite.

  “Members of the public will have the opportunity to vote for their favorite among the finalists on the ABA Journal website, and the winner of the public vote will be considered during the prize selection process.”

   The poll is going to remain open through June 30, so  To vote for one of the books, go here.

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


PS:  I plan to do my new logo reveal in my next newsletter, coming in July.

Choosing Carter is a fast and exciting beach read. (Click on the cover to buy.) Here’s Harper Lee Award winner Carolyn Haines’ 5-Star review:

The tension is high in this romantic thriller from Petterson. This is a great suspense novel with characters who are independent but learn to trust each other to survive.

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Simon&Schuster Author Page =

Sunday, June 3, 2018

D-Day and critiques

cj Sez: This coming Wednesday is the 74 th remembrance of D-Day, June 6, 1944—the day Allied forces hit the beaches of Normandy in defense of freedom.

    I remember especially an uncle who was injured on those bloody sands and a dear friend, who traveled with Patton and with whom I am privileged to be able to still connect. There are few of these World War II heroes still living todayI am honored to salute you and say, THANK YOU.  

Do you critique?
    Critiques are a must for serious writers. We’re way too close to our manuscripts, too subjective. Despite our best intentions, we can’t judge, proofread, or edit our own words, at least not thoroughly and objectively. We read past things, especially those sneaky gremlin misspellings. Sometimes the words we intended to write aren’t even on the page. Objective critique partners are able to find those missing words, poorly constructed sentences, punctuation errors, missing story threads, plot holes, and all the etceteras that the subjective writer misses.

    It’s true that finding compatible critique partners can be hard, very hard. Shared likability and a mutual respect for expertise are required by/for/from each other. But your manuscript deserves/needs critiques, so connecting with a critique group is definitely worth the effort.

    Your (and my own) role in a critique group is to remember the rules for critiquing. The most important one is: Be kind. Second: Find a way to start the critique with something positive. (Writers have fragile, creative egos, but you know that.) Third: Be truthful. It won’t help any writer if you praise something that is poorly written. I truly understand that no one likes to hear their baby manuscript is ugly, but speaking from experience, if we’re going to be successful writers, we have to develop a rhino hide in order to keep writing despite criticism—whether unwarranted or warranted—and despite the feared agent rejections.

    I’m currently not connected to a critique group, and I can testify my writing has suffered. I desperately need the deadline of a critique group meeting to make myself write. I think my best option right now is to join an on-line group with Sisters-in-Crime/Guppies.

    How about you? Do you critique on-line or in person?  How often?

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

Click on cover to buy.
Super beach read: Deadly Star 5 Star ReviewI just finished reading “Deadly Star.” It’s a great story and very well written.
I loved the way each chapter ended with a big “omigosh” moment that made it hard to put it down, just because I needed to find out what happens next. I suppose that’s the essence of suspense. Her style reminded me of Dan Brown, since he similarly keeps those chapter-to-chapter hooks going.
She obviously did a lot of research in several diverse fields to keep the details so wonderfully specific and accurate relative to weaponry, aeronautics, biology, astronomy, Japanese, and various secret government agencies and programs. Very impressive.
Great job!
I can’t wait to see her next one.