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FREE! Cindy’s Sin Kindle E-Book

cindy's sin free ebookIt’s FREE! I said FREE! For a limited time. Download it now! Hurry! Cindy’s Sin Free Ebook

That’s right, you heard it first folks, my premier novella on Kindle Cindy’s Sin, and my first foray into self-publishing, is now FREE as a download on Kindle until Saturday (7/28/18). I just ask for a review if you enjoyed it, and a review if you found it lacking. Review help me improve. So, pile on!

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Cindy’s Sin

Cindy’s Sin is the first novella in the series Tall Tales of Sin. You can read the novella in chapters here, or you can purchase the entire story on Amazon. The novella starts off with the chapter Greyhound Arriving as Cindy Lash arrives in Las Vegas to avenge the murder of her father. Cindy appears a novice. But she quickly learns some street smarts to carry her through to the end of her revenge plan.

Cindy Lash came to Las Vegas on the Greyhound Bus. So the first chapter of the novella is Greyhound Arriving. If you have ever arrived in Las Vegas in the summer who already know what Cindy feels the moment she gets off the bus; a blast of heat.

She’s in Las Vegas to avenge the death of her father Tommy. But getting to the killer will take a bit of luck, magic, and street smarts. She lacks the street smarts, but her luck may turn out to be her best asset. I feature the Las Vegas neon as a central character allowing the magic of the light to flow through Fremont Street and eventually landing at the Neon Boneyard.

When completed the entire series will cover a lot of mystery, surprise, and excitement. Currently, I am learning Klingon for a sexy romp at a space-themed marriage bureau that ends with the bride married to a different husband. I’m also working on a mystery taking place in the underground sewers where people live a stone’s throw from the Las Vegas Strip.

One of the tricks is to weave all of the characters throughout the series. I’m currently trying to find a way to keep all of the characters located near downtown. Hopefully, readers notice this as they read Tall Tales of Sin.

Cindy’s Sin started out as a short story and quickly became a much longer story. Many of my short stories could become bigger stories if I chose to write them.

You can find Cindy’s Sin at Amazon or your favorite bookstore by special order.

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July Newsletter

In my latest newsletter I muse about writer’s block, review a new TV Western, and give away my latest novella.

All in a day’s work!

You can join the newsletter here:

Subscribe to my newsletter and download Start Writing Now!

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Feeding Your Muse with Music

Sometimes the best way to fill a blank page is to feed your muse with some writing music. While I would love to have a writing table overlooking the ocean near the cliffs of Big Sur, I can still get there with some music to remind me of the atmosphere and the setting. Of course, writing music also helps me get into a new scene or chapter.

Now, this isn’t a treatise on what type of music to listen to. I get inspiration from country, rock, pop, or classical styles. However, it is a reminder that music is a powerful way to get you into a particular place or character’s mind. Is it any wonder music soundtracks often hang with us longer than the film? That is because music feeds our inner muse and makes the story stronger.

Merle Haggard’s Seashores of Old Mexico serves as inspiration for my work in progress, Fish Tacos. The song tells a story of a fugitive on the run who discovers love in Mexico and a reason to stay on the run.

In fact, story songs are often the best for prompting a new story. What happened to the protagonist? As a writer, we can tell their next story. So, dig out those old vinyl records or that lost playlist and listen. You might find a story hidden in the feeling you get from the music. Even our muse needs writing music from time-to-time to keep us writing.


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Book Review – The Ultimate Hero’s Journey: 195 Essential Plot Stages Found in the Best Novels & Movies

Well, that’s a mouthful and they had to use an ampersand to make it all fit. However, Neal Soloponte provides 195 plot stages to consider in shaping a novel so the title needs some heft. The Ultimate Hero’s Journey: 195 Essential Plot Stages Found in the Best Novels & Movies delivers so many plot stages that I fell into the rabbit hole Soloponte took in writing this book.

Like my favorite, Structuring Your Novel: Essential Keys for Writing an Outstanding Story, by K.M. Weiland, this book provides an outline of what must go into a novel to make the reader want to finish the story. Except this is a scientific look at the process. Soloponte takes Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey canon (I recommend The Power of Myth) and breaks it down further into what needs to happen as the hero journeys from the reactive (ordinary world) to proactive (adventure world) stages of the novel.

Soloponte says that a good novel contains 3 phases:

  1. Something happens
  2. Someone does something about it
  3. Either things change for the good or bad

He then goes on the show the 195 things that have to take place in each of these phases to grab the audience and hold them until the end.

At this point, it gets rather complicated because you can’t see where all of these stages have to land, other than a rough idea of the progression of the plot. So, you have to keep going back and finding out where you’ve been and what you’re missing. I suggest an overlay of the plot stages over Weiland’s model just to keep track of it all (I may work on something to be downloaded later from my Writing Tools page).

Overall, the book is great and revealing as to what goes into a story with many fine examples examined and torn apart by Soloponte. The author says at least 80 percent of the plot stages he has identified will be found in a great novel. Of course, the creative mind may alter the placement of the plot stages, but Soloponte says the plot stags can be found in the most successful novels.

I recommend this book as an excellent resource into what science finds makes a great story. Of course, we are writers and creative license is something we will always take with us.

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Write Fiction with a Story Prompt

I am a big fan of story prompts whether they consist of a word, a sentence, an idea, or a photo. The story prompt serves as a launch pad for creativity and it prompts the writer to see inward, consider possibilities, and think how the reader will respond.

On Steemit, the #freewrite group of writers tackles a daily story prompt provided by @mariannewest. Nearly 250 writers participate by writing whatever comes to mind in five minutes. Some of the output rambles around as the writer latches onto a prompt. Other writing comes away seemingly polished regardless of the writer using The Most Dangerous Writing App, a sadistic writing tool promising to give you the finished work as long as you don’t stop writing. Pause for only a second and it eats your words! Needless to say, I am not a fan. I am all for writing as fast as you can and throwing it away. However, I do like to read it first.

Amazon offers a number of writing prompt books. Writers Digest serves up a weekly offering of Creative Writing Prompts. Even if you choose not to write something to fit that prompt, each one often leads to another idea.

Sometimes an entirely random idea pops in my head, which then leads to a story. I read about a white Redwood “ghost tree” standing on the coast of California. A few days later I heard a lawyer complaining about a long deposition – a pre-interview of a witness. This led me to combining the Redwood with a deposition to write A Moment of Pure Truth. I like to think this story might not have started without the story prompt.

I make a habit of writing at least 500 words in the morning. Some of it is trash; bits of ideas and random observations. Some of it ends up in my Scribbles or Conversations. Most of it ends up deleted. Every once in a while, I find a random idea or sentence that might make a story. I then use this idea for further writing later in the day or week.

Story Prompts in the Wild

  • You can ask your friends and family for a prompt. What is the first word you can think of? They will probably wonder why you asked, but they can always read the final draft.
  • An editor may also give you a prompt. I will pay a lot of clams if you write about a physicist who hates the weird and wonderful world of science. Yeah, I can do that.
  • Read the newspaper. Discounting the threat of “fake news” what better place than the newspaper to prompt your next story? Some of the best mysteries start out as news headlines.

Wherever a story prompt comes from it is bound to result in something you can use. If anything, you can always shake out the cobwebs and get on to the real writing.

Leave me a reply and let me know what you think. All feedback helps me get better.

Oh, the Amazon Link sends me a commission.
Photo by Amber Holmes. Used with permission (She’s my cousin!).

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My Typewriter Affection

In the fourth grade I received an old manual typewriter. I immediately put out a family newspaper and charged my sisters 5-cents to read it. They loved me and bought my daily scribblings until mom told them to stop it. I then just gave them copies. We never had hamster cages, so I always assumed they read them and probably tossed them (recycling wasn’t a thing when we were kids). My early writings are probably rotting away in a landfill somewhere and a future archaeologist will find them and say, “Now, here is proof that early humans knew a thing or two. Even the 9-year-olds!”

I loved the idea of the typewriter. My handwriting was always so poor. Yet, the typewriter made everything seem so permanent. You could jot down a thought and there it was in type, like a book. Only you wrote it!

The click-clack of the keys also gave me a sense of power. Slap, slap, slap and there was a word, then sentence, and finally a whole page. I felt like an early philosopher who had discovered new sight.


My first professional typewriter was an IBM Selectric. I actually typed on the Selectric I and then I moved up to the Selectric II. Now, that was a typewriter. The golfball in the middle gave it a futuristic sense like you were moving through space to find letters. It was nothing like the wire and letter cage of my manual typewriter. And could you fly. The words just bounced onto the page as the golfball rose up and spun to find the letters. I think that was my favorite typewriter.

It also seemed so professional. You really had made it if you were typing on an IBM Selectric.


After that came the computer, and while it also has a charm, it has never replaced my love for the typewriter. I now collect old manual typewriters and here is my latest toy. A Bluetooth typewriter keyboard for my iPad. While it looks like an old Remington, it connects to my writing tools on the Ipad and only comes slightly close to the real thing.

It gives me a sense of the past even if I’m evolving toward the future.

Images mine or Wikimedia

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Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic

I occasionally offer up my writing advice. My personal routine centers around writing at least 500 words or just anything for me everyday. This could be fiction, poetry, a chat-story, or just scribbles. I am a professional writer of non-fiction. Putting up a word count of 2,000 words takes little effort. Of course, most of those words focus on how-to, technical, and specialty writing.

Writing comes natural and I enjoy it. However, those 500 words of just anything can prove a challenge. Think of writing with your non-dominant hand; the letters scrawl out, but they may not be easy to read.

Which takes me to my topic of Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic.

These topics took center stage in our K-12 learning. They were what the teacher started off with in the grade school classes, and then there were specialized classes in high school and college. Sometimes they made sense. Other times, they were a mishmash. The first two subjects – Reading and Writing – came pretty easy. Math ended up being my weak point. So, I’ll start with Reading and Writing.

writing adviceReading – Learning to identify patterns, techniques, plots, and story elements come from reading. Read as much as you can. I think the best writers spend more time reading than writing. Reading sparks ideas for your writing. For instance, the other day I was reading a technical article on generating oxygen on Mars. The article centered on making rocket fuel so Martians could get to Earth. I thought about terraforming; using oxygen to create an atmosphere. And if you could create oxygen, you could probably mix in other gases.

Reading helps you learn creativity. For instance, in poetry there are forms for verse, syllable, and rhyme. Most of these you need to learn to write them. A mystery has certain elements a writer must include. Now, you can learn about these various forms by studying the patterns, or you can learn them by reading. The creative spark comes through when a writer reads a novel, poem, or short story from start to finish. They start to see what the writer was attempting or the turns needed to get to the final denouncement. Basically, you can learn the various forms, but you don’t really understand them until you see the inspiration behind the words.

writing adviceWriting – Papa Hemingway used to say you had to just write with no stopping whatever came into your head. And then throw it away. Sort of like running oil through an engine, a writer must lubricate the keyboard to get everything moving. Now, I tend to think some of that literary lubrication can be saved. But if it is good enough, you’ll come back to it again. Like reading, writing must be done everyday. You have to put the words down on paper, or screen, so they can lead you to other paragraphs.

And try different forms. I try a different style or writing when I am practicing to give me the courage to break the rules. You can’t stick to just one style because it will become rote. Practice foreign ways to set up a story so you will have the confidence to try different styles when it counts. You may not like how the story is going. That is fine, because you will soon now how you like to write. Just mix it up so you have a reason to write everyday.

writing adviceArithmetic – You are on your own here. I know how to find a word count. And I remember the PEDMAS formula so I can do those fun math quizzes that stump others. I learned statistics because it’s the best way to catch someone in a lie. But I couldn’t spend time on algebraic equations because I don’t have the patience. Besides, I’m a writer, what do I need math for. (Oh yeah, those paychecks for word count.)

Diving into brain science, working a math equation, or puzzle, helps with your creativity. You use a different side of your brain, which causes you to jump out of your writing orientation and into problem solving. This is perfect for anyone trying to think up a new plot point.

So, yes, even math has its use to a writer.


Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic all form the basics of education. You really need all three to discover better ways to build a story, express yourself, and collect a paycheck. Build upon them to become a better writer.

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