Interview: A Window Seat with Publishing expert Jane Friedman




Welcome back to the Writing Train



Have you ever had to go out of your way to get a window seat? Whether it be on a bus, train, car, or an airplane? Well if you did, there were definite benefits to the journey. So why do adults and children alike fight for the ever-sacred window seat? It’s not about the window itself, but the view that comes with it. The scenery and vista are the grand prize! Something well worth fighting for, so here it is.


Today we have a “window seat” experience  with a very special person among both the publishing and writing community. Someone who hardly requires an introduction; who is widely respected for her knowledge, experience, generosity and expertise in multiple areas.








car of train of long-distance message



People are multi-faceted creatures with many sides that we may or may not be aware of. In the process this interview, I was ecstatic to see various sides of Jane I hadn’t seen before. Splendid indeed!





Hi Jane!







Here’s a little more about Jane, which is just the tip of the iceberg. If you’d like the full iceberg experience please visit her about page on her  blog. Her resume could very easily saturate an entire blog post.


  • A Writer and Professor who has 20 years of experience in the publishing industry and specializes in digital media strategy for authors and publishers.
  • Former Editorial director and publisher of Writer’s Digest.
  • Teaches digital media and publishing at the University of Virginia
  • Columnist for Publishers Weekly.
  • Educates authors about the publishing industry




So just in summary: 


~Jane is the ultimate Jedi Master~







If you’re looking to publish anything anytime soon, take heed you of little faith, to the work of Jane. 



  1. Visit her site or Jane’s blog.
  2. @JaneFriedman or @HotSheetPub  on Twitter
  3. How to Publish Your Book, by The Great Courses (Video, audio, DVD, and CD formats available). 24 Scrumptious lectures!
  4. The Hot Sheet a biweekly email newsletter and essential publishing news for traditionally and self-published authors.
  5.  Online Classes
  6.  Books
  7.  Resources for Writers
  8.  Speaking in upcoming workshops and keynotes.
  9.  Facebook
  10.  Youtube




Here’s a great book to get started with…







Don’t miss Publishing 101!




A Window Seat….



I’ve heard of some famous Friedmans in Cincinnati and beyond, are you related to them?

I wish I knew, but probably not.


Fair enough.


You write poetry! Do you still write poetry? I was so elated to see “Jane’s Embarrassing College Poetry” on Amazon. I think we largely know you in the publishing realm, but not so much as a writer, or even a reader.


I haven’t written poetry since I left graduate school in the early 2000s—I became consumed with my career in the publishing industry.


Now that I’m my own boss, and my business is doing well, I have a chance to steal back some personal time. So what do I write? I don’t know. Staying busy with my career (perhaps a “shadow career” to use a term from Steven Pressfield) has been an excellent way to avoid confronting the most fearful step of all—seriously devoting myself to my own writing.


Jane writes poetry! YES. I almost fell out of my chair when I saw your poetry book on Amazon. I’ve included the first poem for proof.  




The little things that keep us up at night-

a drip drip coming from the kitchen sink;

the entrancing  glow of the streets and soft moonlight;

the heater rattling on, clink by clink.

Two thrown-off sheets and sweat above my lip, 

the windows open, breezes blowing in.

Both hands and fingers grasping the air,no grip, 

but shadows touch the walls, acting the twin. 

The curse of overactive minds I know,

for the art of sleeping well is lost on me, 

when I remember your leaving years ago

and sleep away from where I thought I’d be. 

Then you laugh someplace and mention my small name.

I wake to hear you; nothing is the same.

~Jane Friedman



*Poetry is just the evidence of life. If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash. -Leonard Cohen






I read somewhere where you said, “I probably read more than anyone on the planet”…and I wanted to get a window into your THAT experience. I’m assuming this is academic reading. Can you bring us into this experience, and what exactly you’re looking for?


I think what you’re remembering is a line from Publishing 101, where I discuss having read more writing advice than anyone else on the planet. That’s a result of working for Writer’s Digest, the No. 1 publisher of writing advice books in the world. We released several dozen books every year while I worked there—in addition to the monthly magazine—and not only did I read the majority of what we published, but I had to keep up on the competing books as well.


These days, most of my reading is related to the business of the publishing industry and the evolution and future of the media. I have moments of existential angst where I ask myself, “Did I really choose this? How did I end up here?” But I don’t think the answer matters; it’s where I am, and there’s satisfaction in the mastery I’ve attained. However, it does matter what I do next: is this an obsession I want to keep feeding?

In recent years I’ve become interested in reading histories. Maybe reading too many trend pieces and hot takes has resulted in a desire for a deeper understanding of cyclical change and behavioral patterns. I want to get beyond either/or, reductionist thinking and instead investigate better questions to ask and how certain frameworks affect the questions and answers we come up with. Unfortunately, nuanced thinking isn’t known to drive traffic or buzz.


Epic indeed. I enjoyed what you said about the “evolution and future of the media” as it relates the business of publishing. Definitely a hot topic!





The Hot Flame of Publishing

What kind of books do you read for pleasure?

Almost always nonfiction. One of my recent favorite reads was What Technology Wants by Kevin Kelly. I’m currently working through From Dawn to Decadence by Jacques Barzun and will soon finish Status Anxietyby Alain de Botton.  I’m looking forward to reading Virginia Heffernan’s newest book on the internet. To fall asleep I read Wikipedia entries on my phone.


I’m also a devoted subscriber to The New Yorker; that’s my coffee-and-toast reading in the morning. I haven’t missed an issue since 1998.


Nice. I hear you–Can’t miss that coffee time. The apocalypse can wait…Give me my coffee first. I’m all over the place with reading habits, but reading a lot about personality traits. I saw that you’re INFP! Woo-hoo! I’m ENFP, so we’re in the same neighborhood. 



Who are your favorite authors and why?

I don’t really have favorite authors, but if I had to choose one, Alain de Botton. Reading his books are like eating a nutritious doughnut.


 Nutritious doughnuts, now that’s something they could genetically modify. Haven’t heard of Alain de Botton, I’ll have to check him out.


Here’s my one publishing question based on the most recent Hot Sheet [] newsletter. Can you briefly touch on the deeper market factors affecting the income of writers today? (See excerpt below)

“Publishers share the frustration of the author community that it is increasingly difficult for authors to make a decent living from their writing. However, we locate the principal source of this problem not in the contractual relations between publisher and author but in deeper market factors. With margins being squeezed across the whole supply chain, books facing increasing stiff competition from other media and entertainment sectors for consumers’ time, and there simply being more writers … the reasons for the decline in average author income are wide and varied.”

Well, here’s the thing—my partner on The Hot Sheet wrote this particular item, and while you can find evidence to support this view, I don’t buy into the popular myth that it’s increasingly difficult for authors to make a decent living from their writing. It has always been difficult.


That said, perhaps one of the best times to be a writer was during the 19th century. Literacy dramatically increased, and the number of magazines exploded, in addition to the number of books published annually. But despite it being something of a golden age, one author complained to a US congressional committee that he did not know any author who made a living by writing literary work. He said that of all the learned professions, “Literature is the most poorly paid.” The truth is that many writers’ careers are gifted into existence by their birth, by privilege, by marriage.


Authors sometimes lay the blame for their economic situation on the publisher, and it has always been thus. Going back to ancient Rome, authors have been accusing their publishers of greed. But such accusations almost always betray ignorance about how the industry works.

In the digital era, it’s becoming more common to lay the blame for authors’ suffering on the tech companies, such as Google. The Authors Guild in particular has expended all kinds of resource on trying to argue before the US courts that Google essentially steals money out of the pockets of authors and publishers. There’s an oft-repeated and oft-misunderstood saying that “information wants to be free,” which the Authors Guild says creates a sense of entitlement among readers, or that it creates an expectation that writers shouldn’t be paid. I don’t think this is true at all. However, what’s valuable to us, or what is worth paying for, has changed. Analyst Ben Thompson explains the value shift very well in his post about the the Smiling Curve []. Clay Shirky too has written at length about how publishing has been turned into a “button”—publishing is the new literacy, meaning that anyone can publish, it doesn’t require professional experience any longer. We live in an era of universal authorship where everyone has the ability for self-expression and distribution of that expression. Not all of that expression will be high quality (a lot of it will be crap), but I don’t place a value judgment on that; it’s a fact of digital life and we can’t go back to some previous era. And if you could go back to a previous era, you would simply find the same complaints in the culture: that too much crap is being published. It dates back to Gutenberg, these “problems” we have with both quality and quantity of material being published.


Authors can make a decent living from their writing if they’re willing to pay attention to how the business works, figure out a business model that works for them, and adapt as needed. Too many authors and authors’ organizations want to preserve a system that doesn’t work with new forms of publishing, distribution, and media.


This is great info. I think I’ll start calling you Jedi Jane.  


Your Twitter profile has the following statement: “A writer who believes art and business can happily co-exist.” Can you give us a little marriage counseling, those of us who are not looking forward to this union?

Another one of the harmful assumptions of “serious” writers is that art and business are antithetical to one another. This belief is so ingrained that no one questions it any longer. Before writers even have a single word published—before they’ve encountered any aspect of the business of their art—they presume that they are bad at business or that business concerns will pollute their efforts. There’s absolutely no openness to the possibility that the business side can be just as imaginative and interesting as the artistic process itself. And of course businesses excel when they employ people who have kept their artistic side alive, who can bring imagination and innovation to their work.

To be sure, business can and does ask for compromises—but that’s not always to the detriment of art. A bit of friction, some kind of barrier—a net on the tennis court!—is healthy. There’s a wonderful book Make Money Make Art by Elizabeth Hyde Stephens that looks at this dynamic using the framework of Jim Henson’s career. He started off in advertising, and found ways to pursue his art in commercial settings. He used those commercial opportunities to hone his craft and support later artistic projects. Dana Gioia is another example of someone who sees how art and business can inform each other—a poet who has an MBA and worked as a corporate executive. And Alain de Botton is yet another; although I don’t think I’ve heard or read him on this topic, it’s clear that he has an integrative approach. Just look at his venture, The School of Life, and how it’s a business manifestation of the ideas you find in his books. It’s genius. What if he said, “Oh no, getting involved in a business is beneath me, it is crass. I need to focus on my writing.” Thank God he is not that boring.

Thanks, I needed to hear that. I’m glad you’re pointing the misconceptions that many of us have ingrained us already. I guess this is the part where we ride off into the sunset and live happily ever after!. Hey, my grandparents were married for 60+ years!  And that’s really saying something.

Tell us about your upcoming book!

There are thousands of students in creative writing programs who study the art and the craft, but receive very little or no guidance on what to do once they’ve graduated. They don’t know how the publishing business works and their expectations can be wildly out of line with reality. Even worse, they can even be conditioned—because of everything I’ve described above—to feel bitter and resentful toward editors, agents, and the industry, to feel victimized. This doesn’t help anyone and it has to stop.


My book, The Business of Being a Writer, is meant to provide that missing education—what it means to make a living as a writer, and how to understand the business well enough to advance your writing career, without relying on luck or magical thinking. It’s slated for release in Fall 2017 from the University of Chicago Press.



Businessman Superhero With Sunset In City

*The Business of Being a Writer*




Thanks Jane!



To show we really appreciate your time, we’d like to present to you an honorary fist bump. I’ve only given out a few of these so I hope you enjoy it.




Gestenserie- Faust

 Honorary Fist Bump


Do what no one else can do-

Be you.

~Benjamin Thomas




Benjamin Thomas


Story of the Writer: Author James Priest




at the Writing Train


Please Welcome James D. Priest 


Priest-Author Photo


Everybody say hello to fantasy author James D. Priest! He’s the author of the KIRINS fantasy trilogy, a retired physician, husband, father, podcaster and currently enjoying life in Hawaii. You can check out his official home page at



Thanks so much for joining us Jim! 









 *Don’t miss the Kirins Series Book Trailer*




*Where are you originally from?

I was born and raised in Minnesota, went to high school and college in Minnesota, and went on to medical school at the University of Minnesota. However, since then I have lived in Japan, California, and now Hawaii.

Nice. I’ve been to the twin cities a few years ago and to the gigantic uber mall there. I used to live in So. Cal, would love to visit Japan, and never been to Hawaii.  







*You used to tell stories to your friends on the bus. How did that come about? Or how did you pick up the knack for storytelling?

Storytelling on the grade school bus came from what I have since discovered is an ample imagination. In composing my fantasy trilogy, I borrowed a few names from real people or situations, but the vast majority of what I created and wrote is directly from imagination.

I’m lovin’ it Jim. Just by looking at your fantasy trilogy I can see you have a very vivid imagination. 



*What was it about Tolkien that drew you into fantasy?

I loved his world building, creating an alternate universe, Middle-earth, from nothing but his imagination. His conflict between good and evil. His characters, such as Frodo and Bilbo, are genuine and likable. His Gollum is a work of creative art, the likes of which fantasy authors should strive for, as I have with an urgol, Gian, in the third book of my trilogy.

Yes! You’re touching on some of the things I love most about being a writer. CREATING AND IMAGINATION are my favs. Don’t hate me, but I haven’t read Tolkien yet. I’ve seen all the movies though. Gollum is probably the most compelling character to me in the whole book!



*Did you want to be writer before going into medicine?

I think I’ve always had somewhere in the back of my mind that I wanted to be a writer. And I was a writer while in medicine, where I published about 30 medical articles.

Ah yes, I’m all too familiar with this kind of writing. Not my favorite honestly, but necessary. 




*How has studying English in undergrad, graduate school and participating in professional medical writing prepared you as an author?

As they say, practice makes perfect. I think the more writing you do, the better you get. But I’ve also learned that every writer needs an editor. We’re only human, and we need guidance both on a grammatical level, and in the line of reasoning, the logic, of your writing.

Yep, you nailed it there Jim. We desperately need good editors, especially us intuitive types. 



*First, give us a knockout summary of your trilogy.

My trilogy is published in print, ebook, and audiobook. But there is, in fact, a fourth book, a sequel, not yet published.




NO'AN-Book I 1124x1124





My trilogy, The Spell of No’an, The Flight of the Ain, and The Secret of the Hanging Stones, tells the epic tale of KIRINS, a race of tiny, magical beings who live throughout Earth today.

Dwelling in elaborate tree homes and underground sanctuaries, they enjoy a strong kinship with the animals and birds of their region. In the distant past humans knew them well. But an ancient rift occurred between the races, and kirins chose to separate themselves from humans. Sadly, we humans are now unaware of their secret civilization.



AIN-Book II 1124x1124


For thousands of years kirins everywhere lived in calm. But now a mysterious, dark force threatens their existence. Knowing little about the enemy they face, the kirin clans choose a party of five daring adventurers led by the wise magician Speckarin. On the backs of birds they travel thousands of clan-dominions across land and sea to Stonehenge, to save the kirin race. But what the journey holds in store for them, they could never have imagined.



STONES-Book III 1124x1124



In the fourth book, The Seer of Serone, a sequel, Speckarin and his intrepid party journey to Alaska to attempt to bridge the chasm between kirins and humans, and to rescue a kirin lad captured and forced into loathsome service by a human. Assistance in dealing with the offending human is provided by a powerful local wizard, a kirin, The Seer of Serone.

Review by Mary Logue, award-winning writer and poet, author of Dancing with an Alien and Snatched: “Having read all three books of James Priest’s wonderful trilogy, I have nothing but praise. The scope of this work, which takes us from the middle of North America across the Atlantic on the backs of birds to Stonehenge, is extraordinary. I enjoyed every moment I spent with the kirins. Priest’s work resembles Lord of the Rings, but is more rooted in nature and gentler in tone.”

This looks so fascinating!  Love the cover images on all three books. You’ve got some great reviews too on Amazon.



*You’re a writer; so what’s your story, or what inspired you?

Having always liked the idea of writing, I challenged myself to write in a genre I’ve enjoyed, fantasy. I decided to write a story set in today’s world. Every culture has mythical small beings. In Ireland they are leprechauns, in Norway and Denmark nisse, and in Hawaii menehune. People want to believe they exist in gardens, trees, and nature. In my tale they are kirins. Because I have always liked small things, the story is of a race of tiny, magical beings, kirins, living throughout Earth today, though humans are unaware of their existence.

Wonderful. Creative little creatures!  




*What’s your GOAL in becoming a writer?

Like most or all writers, to become a bestselling author, and to leave something in this world that will make it a better place.

Excellent. No shame in that.  It shows you’ve got heart! 




Strong Superhero Businessman Heart Concepts
You’ve got heart




*What 3 things have hindered you from completing your projects?

Finding time to write was a problem while I was practicing medicine. Getting the books into all three formats, print, ebook, and audiobook (self-narrated), has taken years to complete. As with almost all writers, promotion and marketing have been a challenge.


WOW! That’s unbelievable! You wrote these books while practicing medicine, had them formatted AND self-narrated them? That’s more than amazing. Promotion and marketing are challenge, no doubt. 



*What keeps you motivated in achieving your dream?

I like to work, but writing fantasy was never work for me. It engrossed me so much that it made me forget about anything else. If I went too long at the keyboard, I would become fatigued, tired of writing. I didn’t want that, so learned to pace myself and take time off when necessary. I never had a specific time of the day to write. I wrote when I could, and loved it.

I am motivated by two factors:

1)  I want to create something for all the world, especially my family, to appreciate, and 2) My books are good, and thus I keep working in promotion and marketing. KIRINS is a fantasy in the classic tradition: epic storyline, an immersive all-new world, great characters, powerful and mysterious magic, plot twists and turns, an immediate threat, romance, and heroism. And the books are suitable for readers 10 to 110. No vampires, werewolves, zombies, blood, guns, drugs, car wrecks, or post-apocalyptic landscapes. No obscenities or erotica. No superheroes, just heroes.

Hah! I love it. Your vision and motivation is very clear.







*What would you say to a struggling writer who’s given up?

If he/she wants to be a writer, pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start all over again.


Amen, and amen. I’ll add, if you can’t pick yourself up, join a supportive writing group. They’ll pick you up and keep you going.









*Who’s your favorite author?

J.R.R. Tolkien




*What’s your favorite quote?


“A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.” -Richard Bach, author of Jonathan Livingston Seagull



Thanks, Benjamin!



Thank you for coming Jim!

Keep writing…


is out there waiting

~Benjamin Thomas





Benjamin Thomas





Story of the Writer: With Greg Spry














Everybody please welcome science fiction author Greg Spry of the Beyond the Saga series!

Beyond the Cloud Nine won silver medal in 2015 Reader’s Favorites Awards in the Science Fiction category, and IAN Book of the year awards nominee for Science Fiction. He writes action-packed hard science fiction with space combat and technology. If you go to his website, you can enter a Goodreads giveaway beginning Jun 23 and ending Jun 30.  I’ve wandered around his site and it really has a nice feel to it. Please go to:


I found Greg to be an all around fascinating person with a great background to write science fiction. He has worked in IT, computer programming, search engine marketing, entrepreneurship and holds a MS Space Systems degree from the Florida Institute of Technology. But above all, he loves science fiction.   There it is folks!



Let’s meet our guest!






*How did you get into science fiction? Early childhood influences?

I’ve loved science fiction as far back as I can remember. As a kid, I used to create Lego spaceships, watch Star Trek and Robotech, and play video games like Final Fantasy and every space shooter I could find. Now that I think about it, my dad used to watch a lot of sci-fi, so I watched along with him.


Yes! I did much of the same thing. Lego spaceships, Robotech, video games, Star Trek, but my brother never let me play Final Fantasy. I begged him to play it but he was quite dedicated to my misery. Robotech is probably my favorite out of this group though. I wish they would”ve made it a longer series.




Sunrise over group of planets in space




*What kind of books did you read over the years?

I remember reading My Teacher is an Alien and plenty of Choose Your Own Adventure books. I read Ender’s Game in late elementary school, the 21-book Robotech series three times in middle school, and classics like To Kill a Mockingbird in high school. Now, I read hard science fiction and self-published books.


I can see you were an early consumer of science fiction. Never realized that Robotech had a book series! My diet mainly consisted of  various cartoons versus books. 


*Have you always wanted to be a writer?

Since a young age, yes. I wrote a couple of full manuscripts in middle school.

This is an amazing feat for a kid in middle school. Some adults haven’t even completed full manuscripts!





*Are you currently writing full-time?

No, I work as a software consultant for an IT company during the day. I’m working toward turning writing into my full-time day job.

That’s great, I’m all for it. A lot of us have the same dream. I certainly think you have the talent to do so.



*Who are your favorite authors?

My favorite authors are Arthur C. Clarke, Peter Hamilton, and Alastair Reynolds.


Nice. I’ve heard of Clarke, but the others are new to me honestly. They must be pretty good!



*Tell us about the Beyond Saga series

The Beyond Saga is my generational, fate-of-the-galaxy-hangs-in-the-balance type of space opera based on elements of hard science fiction. The saga includes the first attempts at faster-than-light speed travel, exciting space combat, cool technologies that are truly possible, first contact with alien races, time travel, alternate realities, and more.


Wow. This sounds like a very juicy series! 


See the Beyond Cloud Nine official homepage






Beyond Cloud Nine (Beyond Saga Book 1)



Book 1, Beyond Cloud Nine (, is the story of the first pilot to fly faster than light and the solar conspiracy that gets in her way. Book 2, Beyond the Horizon (, follows a young ensign as she tries to stop the extermination of a benevolent alien race during humankind’s first interstellar mission. Book 3, Beyond Yesterday, involves travel to Earth’s past to discover mankind’s origins and book 4, Beyond Existence, is the big intergalactic finale in which the human race may perish or prevail—or both. Books 1 and 2 are available now.

Beyond the Horizon was just published May 1, 2016. Read the Beyond the Horizon official homepage. His website is amazing!






Beyond the Horizon (Beyond Saga Book 2)



*Can you take us through your research process?

I’ve immersed myself in science fiction my whole life, so I know the concepts and how things go. With a master’s degree in space systems from the Florida Institute of Technology, I’ve got a solid knowledge base regarding the realities of real space flight. All things space and astronomy naturally interest me, so I’ll use Google to confirm the details about things like the gravity and atmosphere of Titan or the conditions on a planet orbiting a red dwarf star.

At the start of the writing process, I outline at a high level and create basic character profiles. Then I let the story go where it goes as I write a rough first draft. Draft 2 is where I round out the characters, fix plot holes, make sure I’m showing rather than telling, and fill in the fine details. Draft 2 goes to beta readers and/or a critique group and an editor for refinement. After that process completes and the proofreading’s done, the publication and marketing process begins.


AMAZING. This sounds like a pretty refined process. I always enjoy hearing how authors delivers the goods! This is great.




You’re a writer; so what’s your story, or what inspired you? 

The books, movies, shows, and video games I’ve loved throughout the years have inspired me. One big inspiration was the Final Fantasy games. Anyone who has played role-playing video games knows they’re like interactive books or movies. The great plots and characters in them motivated me to create my own.

My brother would know all about it…



What’s your GOAL in becoming a writer? After being published what’s next?

I’ve self-published two books, and I’m working to complete book 3 and then book 4 in my Beyond Saga. My goal is to generate enough of a revenue stream via book sales that I can turn to writing full-time, which means that marketing is currently my biggest challenge. I’ve been trying out different promotional services in hopes of finding something that works. Ultimately, I’d love to have my books turned into movies. Many people have seconded the notion that the space battles, environments, and plot of Beyond Cloud Nine would work well on the big screen.


Let it be so! That would be cool to see it on the big screen. You never know, it just might happen one day.

Beyond the Saga




What has hindered you from completing your projects? (CONFLICT)

A market-savvy author knows that each book is an opportunity to sell all the other books. Hence, the more books you’ve published, the more books you’ll sell. My first problem is that the process of writing and releasing each book takes too much time given that I can only write in my spare time. If I could quit my day job and pump each one out faster, I’d make that much more money. I’ve been dumping hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars into promotion without seeing enough results to even offset my costs. If it weren’t for my day job, I’d be declaring bankruptcy about now. So I’m kind of stuck at the moment not being able to write fast enough to make enough money at it.


Ah, that sounds like such a heartache. Drop me a line, I’d be happy to do some book promotion.



What keeps you motivated in achieving your dream? (DESIRE)

I love smart science fiction and creating plots, worlds, and characters. I also believe in myself and think I can do these things just about as well as most anything else that’s out there.


We definitely share the same values in creating plots, worlds and characters. Your confidence is also inspiring. Don’t let anything get you down.



What’s your ANTAGONIST? What’s in the way?




As previously discussed, visibility and how it takes money to make money. There are some well-known works of fiction out there that are only well-known because they’ve been mass-marketed. Meanwhile, there are other great works that aren’t well-known because a wide audience has yet to discover them. Such is the reality of the industry.


I’m glad I’ve discovered your work! And another reason why I do these interviews is to support authors like yourself. 



Have you ever wanted to give up your dream? If so, why?


I actually got really down in the dumps for a few days after I released book 2. I ran a 3-month promo period prior to publication in which I gave away review copies, put my book on Amazon for pre-order, did Twitter blasts, contacted bloggers, and spent hundreds of dollars. I didn’t do any of that for book 1, yet sales of book 2 paled in comparison to book 1. So I thought if I’m going to pump all that effort into promo and not see results, how can I possibly be successful and why bother to keep writing? I make plenty of money in my day job. If I focus on that, I’ll be far better off financially in the long run, so why waste my time being anti-social and writing in my personal time when I could be out doing more active stuff? But as the weeks have gone by, I’ve noticed a little bit better recurring sales. It’s taken people a while to read book 1 and then get around to reading book 2. While sales are still a long way from where they need to be, I’m more hopeful for the future. I’ve also learned what to do and not to do with a book release, which will help with book 3 and beyond.


This is very helpful to get a view of your experiences. Seems like it’s quite a battle once you get your book published. Probably a lot of writers think getting a book published equals instant success. Thanks for sharing. 




Why do writers give up, quit or never complete their projects?

To answer this question, we should put on our business caps. I’ve started several businesses in the past unrelated to writing. While most of them failed, I learned a lot from trying. Every now and then, a friend who wants to start a business will come to me for advice. They have a great idea and want to know how to make it a success. They want to pitch it like in an episode of Shark Tank. What do I tell them? That except in very special cases, Shark Tank is a lie and their idea doesn’t matter. When running a business, the least important factor in success is your product or service. Rather, your business system is what matters. I mean, of course you can’t be selling crap. But things like internal business practices/culture, marketing, sales, customer service, timing, leadership, and everything else surrounding the product or service is more important. Does McDonald’s serve the greatest, most revolutionary food on the planet? Of course not. Then why are they the biggest fast food chain in the world? Figure that out, and you start understanding what it takes to be successful. The point is that the actual writing itself is only a small part of the overall process—and not necessarily the most critical part—of being a successful author.

That’s why I think the single most important thing is passion. You’ve got to be able to conjure up the motivation to keep writing and promoting when nothing’s going right. So I ask people who come to me for advice about whether to start a business if they want to live and breathe their trade for 100+ hours per week. Do they want to not get paid for years until their product or service finally catches on? Do they want to spend far more time on everything else besides the actual trade (writing) that they love in order to make the business successful? Only if you answer yes to every one of those questions should you start that business, or in our case, get serious about writing. So to sum up and answer the question, people who quit don’t have the sustained passion for EVERYTHING that it takes to be successful.


Wow, this is wonderful advice for us newbies. You definitely sound like an entrepreneur to me. Simply being a writer isn’t going to cut it in today’s world. We must be the ultimate entrepreneur. 





(Your name here)



What would you say to a struggling writer who’s given up?

Do you have the passion to keep going? Is this what you truly love? If not, give up. But if yes, stick with it. Even if your writing isn’t very good, if you love doing it and have great desire to improve, you can and will get better. Don’t let anyone tell you writing a book is some mysterious art form that some people are born for and others aren’t. While some people are naturally good storytellers, the vast majority of all stories have certain structural elements in common. Simply put, there are right ways and wrong ways to write a story. You can learn them if you stay open to feedback, do your research, and are willing to put yourself out there.


I’m lovin’ it. Solid words here. Let’s face it, authors are the most resilient people on the planet. We must have an undying passion, a steadfast commitment, and a desire for life long learning.  I love writing and learning equally.  It’s an awesome journey and adventurous process.  Let’s keep the ball rolling!  Woohoo! 



BONUS: What else do you have coming down the pike?

I’m currently working on book 3 in the Beyond Saga. After that, I’ll write the final book 4. Somewhere in there, I’m going to publish one or more of my Bears in Space short stories, which are sci-fi comedies. Think South Park in space but with raunchy adult Disney animal characters. Bears in Space allows me to do some fun venting about all the horrible clichés out there: unrealistic alien invasions where the all-powerful but completely moronic aliens hover their spaceships over our cities like big bullseyes instead of just blasting us from orbit or releasing a virus, cheesy romance novels with the dude with washboard abs on the cover, dystopian apocalypses where the biggest threat is zombies that can’t even move fast enough to jog, and more. After the Beyond Saga, I’ll return to working on Destalis, which was the first full manuscript I wrote as an adult. Destalis will continue to explore the concepts introduced toward the end of the Beyond Saga but with more of a Game-of-Thrones-in-space type of feel. I haven’t decided whether it will remain a single book or if I’ll expand it into a book series.


Man, that sounds pretty sweet. Can’t wait to see what you come up with. Write on! Don’t let anybody slow you down.



Thanks for coming on the site Greg! Come again!




There’s also a BEYOND THE HORIZON ENCYCLOPEDIA that lists the following:








Favorite quotes?


“There’s no sense in nonsense, especially when the heat’s hot.” – Safety Not Guaranteed movie. I don’t know why I love this saying. Maybe because it’s so stupid it’s awesome.













Benjamin Thomas






Story of the Writer: Caroline Peckham




Welcome back to the Writing Train!




To Trains sign







Do you love stories? We ALL do right? It’s no secret writers have some of the most gripping minds on the planet. The characters they’ve created; worlds they’ve crafted, and plots they’ve weaved together, have left their imprint upon the world. This series is dedicated to them, published or unpublished.

~Every author is a story~





Books, old, stacked.


Everyone please welcome

YA Fantasy Author

Caroline Peckham










First off, I’d like to pay a special tribute to my friend Caroline. She may be largely aware of this, but she inspired me in a very particular way as a writer. I was stuck in a dreamy state wishing and wanting to be a writer. There I was, sitting on the sidelines cheering and watching everyone else’s success. She had just published one of her books (can’t remember which one) and I got so excited and genuinely happy. I proceeded to ask her the question. Kind of like,  what’s your secret sauce question. So I asked; what’s the difference between those who dream, and those who achieve their dreams?  Then she dropped the line on me. BAM. Just like that, it smacked in the face like a ton of bricks. But what she said was utterly simple. Make a plan and do the work. That’s it. Make a plan and do the work. I’d like to plaster these words on my forehead in neon ink. Possibly a green, or orange color would suffice.


You may never know how your words affect other people. Words have power. Lasting power. Enduring power. A single word, phrase, sentence can last a generation. It may ignite and inspire an entire generation. It certainly did with me.







*Give honor to whom honor is due*



~Make a plan and do the work~

-Caroline Peckham





*Are you originally from Kent, UK?


I am! I live ten minutes from my family \home so I get to see my parents all the time. I currently live in a little village which is famous for being where Winston Churchill lived. Lots of tourists come here in the summer. It’s a very typically English town (pubs, teashops and the like!)


Wowsers! Winston Churchill, thats amazing!  I saw some pictures online and it  Kent is a very beautiful place. Would love to visit there someday. Here’s some juicy quotes by Winston Churchill. 



“This is no time for ease and comfort. It is time to dare and endure”

~Winston Churchill




“Success is going from failure to failure without a loss of enthusiasm.”

~ Winston Churchill



“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”

~ Winston Churchill




*Did you love books as a child? Name your favorites. 




I did, I was brought up in a strict diet of books and The Beatles haha. My dad used to read to me all the time and, as he was a bigger lover of fantasy, even read me books like The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings when I was probably much too young for them!
I remember him reading me the first couple of Harry Potter books but I was old enough to read them myself by the time the third one came out and was absolutely hooked! Some of my all time favourites were His Dark Materials trilogy by Phillip Pullman, The Healer’s Keep by Victoria Hanley, and any of the Katherine Roberts books (I actually won a signed copy of one of her books which I still have!). They were fantasy books for young teens, my particular favourite was Spellfall. I used to read it every time I was sick off school.
I’m beginning to realize that reading begets writers, and writers beget readers. It’s an endless cycle. It seems to affect only a select group of individuals though. Obviously everyone who reads doesn’t become an author. But somehow when it reaches kids at a young age; and their combustible imaginations, it takes flight. Then in turn your words will indeed beget more writers, enable more readers. Awesome.
*What influenced you the most in your early years towards being an author?
It’s a bit of a cliche but I grew up in the golden age of Harry Potter. The stories just captivated me and I began writing around this time. When I was older one of the things that really resonated with me from this series was that feeling of pure excitement about a novel coming out. I used to queue up at midnight to buy the books from my local supermarket and I wanted to write something that made me feel that way again. I can honestly say my debut series excites me as much as they did, if not more!
Yes! I love it. Exciting isn’t it? 
*Would you write anything besides YA fantasy? 
I have a few science fiction ideas but, through no real intention of my own, most of my ideas tend to be based in the fantasy genre. I would definitely move around a bit perhaps into something a but more paranormal. I have a massive document dedicated purely to ideas so any time something comes to me it goes straight in there!
Yes, having something like an idea folder is quite critical. Especially us writers who have ideas literally coming out of our ears. That in itself sounds paranormal.   🙂
*Did you study literature in college?
I didn’t, I actually studied Zoology. One of my other passions in life is animals and I never actually considered a writing career as a possibility until the last few years. I always just assumed writing would have to be my hobby until I realised there was nothing I wanted more than to do it fulltime.
Awesome! I always find it intriguing when I hear this. Lawyers, Physicians, journalists, engineers etc. all have had an unquenchable desire to write. It never ceases to amaze me; that those in top notch professions would be willing to put them aside and pursue writing!  Passion is powerful. 
*Tell us a bit about your series
My series follows a sixteen year old boy on a journey through the seven worlds to save his sister from a curse. Each world is locked by a Gateway and a challenge must be completed in order to receive a key. An enemy is on the rise who is looking to thwart them at every turn and Oliver’s family is much more involved with him than he could ever have imagined. It’s got a bit everything from action, magic, adventure, to romance!
I always enjoyed a book with a journey in it. I love the organic feeling of movement in a story that is always heading toward an end point.
Journey wins every time. Let’s take a look at some of your books.

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Creeping Shadow  (The Rise of Isaac, Book 1)
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Bleeding Snow (The Rise of Isaac, Book 2)


May 24, 2016









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Turning Tide (The Rise of Isaac, Book 3)
*Can you tell us a bit more how you made the transition from zoology to being a full-time writer? What was the tipping point
I suppose I’m the sort of person who follows her heart – mushy as it sounds! I try to do things in life that make me happy. I don’t believe in ‘one day I’ll do this’, instead, I make a plan and start working toward that goal. So I guess the tipping point was leaving university and after several failed interviews for jobs my heart wasn’t even in, I asked myself what I wanted to do. The answer was writing. So, I decided to work for my family business and on the side start writing my fantasy series with the goal of one day doing it fulltime.
YES. I. Love. It. Not mushy at all. You totally sound like a go getter. Keep following your heart!
*What made you chose the self-publishing route? 
I, like I imagine a lot of self-published authors do, tried to get an agent first. I was so unbelievably naieve to the whole publishing world I didn’t even know anything about self-publishing! After being rejected…a lot…I discovered Amazon’s KDP programme. I learnt about building an author platform by blogging and getting out there on social media. I started to really look at being an author as a business and now (having five years of experience in my family’s business) I had a good background in what made a business work.
It was another year before I was ready to hit publish on Amazon with my first book last December and I haven’t looked back!
Nice. It’s certainly not easy to take this route. I’m glad you overcame those hurdles. 
*What was your goal (s) in becoming a writer? (GOAL)
The number one reason I’m writing this fantasy series is that I love it. I couldn’t stop writing it whether I had people reading it or not. In fact, for the first years it was just me and a whole lot of self-doubt. It wasn’t until I got the first book out there and I started getting reviews that I really started believing I had written something worthwhile. So I suppose my goal in becoming a writer was to write something I love and, now that it’s out there, all I want is for the people who read it to love it too!
This is better than going to the movies. Seriously. I wish I had some popcorn right now. Your passion is tangible! I highlighted your words because they’re so inspiring. 
*Now that you’re published, do you have new goals in view?
It’d be a lie to say that it’s all sunshine and rainbows in self-publishing. There has to be a certain amount of planning, deadlines and marketing that goes on behind the scenes. My goals now are to get out books regularly (every 90 days) which benefits the fans and keeps my books up there in the new releases etc. so I don’t fall off the radar. I suppose my short term goals are to have this series out over the summer and have hopefully started a new one before the year is out.
I’m floored. Self-publishing has done a lot for authors though.   Its been a game changer on many fronts. I think its also cultivated authors to become entrepreneurial in today’s world.  Every 90 days! Wow! Hey, if you’re sending out review copies in the future drop me a line.
*Do you have any major conflicts hindering you from attaining your goals?  (CONFLICT)
I think the one thing self-published authors are always battling against is visibility. Amazon changes the way it ranks books/publicises them/presents them all the time. So we indie authors have to try and keep up with that, constantly adapting to try and stay visible. With 2,000,000 ebooks on Amazon Kindle alone it’s no wonder a single author has to battle for their spot in the limelight!
You’re not kiddin, and there’s alot of people casting shadows. Hopefully there’s enough limelight to go around.
*What keeps you motivated? (DESIRE)
I think a simple passion for my stories is what keeps me going. In a funny way, I‘m as excited to find out what happens as the fans! I get the same joy out of writing as I do out of reading. I can’t deny receiving great reviews and emails from the fans doesn’t make my heart absolutely sing though. Knowing someone out there is waiting for the next installment of my book is the best motivation an author could ask for.
“I get the same joy out of writing as I do out of reading” … This is so amazing.  Joy and passion working together in unison. 
*What’s the main antagonist in your  career?
The antagonist of my career! What a brilliant question!
I suppose Amazon is the antagonist and the protagonist. It can be the best and most helpful thing in the world when its algorithms are in favour of my books but it’s getting Amazon to work for you that is the most monumental task for an indie author.
That kind of sounds like an anti-hero with evil algorithms.
Evil antagonist
*Why do writers give up? And what would you say to inspire them?
I can see why writers give up. It has been a seriously long road to where I am and, now that I’m here, I can’t just sit back and enjoy the view. It takes constant work to keep yourself out there. I think anyone looking to write fulltime, self-published or not, should do it because it’s their passion because at the end of the day it’s hard work!
Also, I’ve looked into whether there’s a magic fix or formula that makes your books blow up and get sales but I can honestly say that the key is consistency. Stick at it and you’ll get there. View this as a life long thing not a quick fix.
I read a self-published author’s advice somewhere (and I wish I could remember who it was now!) but they said something that has really stuck with me: when you independently publish an ebook it has unlimited potential. Over the course of the rest of your life, your book has the potential to return revenue to you. What other business has that much possibility?
Yup. I think Joanna Penn calls this scalable income. It definitely has unlimited potential. You’re on the right track, keep running.

*Writing is marathon. Are you a distance runner?*




Writing is the journey

BONUS: What are your favorite quotes?


I’m a big Pinterest freak! I love looking at quotes on there that give me a boost when I need it. So, instead of sharing my favourite book quotes with you I’m gonna share a couple of my favourite motivational quotes that make me believe anything is possible.

“Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway.” – Earl Nightingale




“Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will.” – Suzy Kassem





“Anything’s possible if you’ve got enough nerve.” – J.K Rowling



You can find Caroline online:

Thanks so much Caroline! Please come again. 








Keep writing,

someone’s always feverishly hunting 

the next book…

Why not write it?

Benjamin Thomas


Forensic Lenses: With Cozy Mystery Author Elizabeth S. Craig




“Read a lot. Write a lot. Delete a lot.”

~ Hannah Richell



Hello everyone and welcome back to another episode on the Writing Train. Well today is very special because it’s the day we’re kicking off our new series! Check it out.



Contact lenses


What is forensic lenses? First, it’s another reason for me to interview people. Second, it’s an interview with a particular view in mind (No pun intended) hence the name forensic lenses. But why forensic lenses? The word forensic means: pertaining to, connected with, or used in courts of law or public discussion and debate.  So far I’ve been interviewing so many wonderful writers both published and unpublished. Writers from all backgrounds, levels and walks of life. Now, I’d like to interview  them as…wait for it…..READERS. Yes you read that correctly. Readers.



A lens is defined in part, as a substance that changes the convergence of light rays, as for magnification, or in correcting defects of vision. In other words, they help you see things you wouldn’t normally see. They make things bigger, or magnified, that wouldn’t normally stick out. But the most simplistic definition is that they help you see. Everyone’s eyes are different, and everyone’s lenses are different in how they affect eyesight. We were all born with two embedded scanners in our heads, but we still see things in our own particular way. So when you’re reading the next bestseller what do you see? What do I see?  What resonates you to tears may bore me to death, and vice versa.


Personally I LOVE eyes for some reason. Research estimates that eighty to eighty five percent of our perception, learning, cognition and activities are mediated through vision (Vision Is Our Dominant Sense). Before there were writing conferences, retreats, blogs, and how-to-do-everything, there were just books. Good old fashioned tangible books. How did the great writers before our time learn the craft so well? BREAKING NEWS: They read a lot. Sounds simple eh?



Forensics naturally solves crimes by scientifically providing evidence to be used in a court of law. To prove one’s guilt, or perhaps their innocence. In other words help solve crimes and catch criminals.  As a reader do you have any pet peeves? Have you ever read something that made you throw the book across the room? Or made you close it, never wanting to open it again? Most of the time it’s not that dramatic, but it could be something small and equally frustrating. These are what I consider crimes so to speak. Things that violate your emotional resonance. That’s on the negative side. The positives are things you enjoy, observe, or witness that prove to be worth your time. It’s the evidence of a great read, and possibly a re-read!



Reading is dreaming with your eyes open




open your eyes
Keep your eyes open…




Teen girl reading book outdoors
Dream reading






Let’s get started with the first guest of the series!

Please welcome

Elizabeth S. Craig 







Elizabeth is the bestselling cozy mystery author of the Southern Quilting mysteries and Memphis Barbeque mysteries. She also has one of Writer’s Digest’s 101 best websites for writers. Feel free to visit her over at: Receive a free ebook, updates, recipes by signing up for her newsletter click here.











tn_fingerlickindead (2)


To see more books by Elizabeth click  here.


*How did you begin reading habits as a child? Did someone in your family read to you?

My father was an English teacher and my grandmother was a retired English teacher. Reading was as much a part of my day as eating and sleeping.  Everyone in my family read to me and continued reading to me, even when I was able to read for myself.  Sometimes the settings of the books we read together, the Oz complete series, for example, were almost more real to me than my own home.

YES I love this. It always begins with reading. That’s great you had English teachers in your family AND experience collective reading habits from family members. Amazing.


*Who was your childhood favorite? Scooby-Doo, Nancy Drew, Trixie Belden, Hardy Boys? Why?

Nancy Drew was an early-elementary school favorite because she seemed so calm, collected, mature and brave as she unraveled genuinely creepy mysteries.  By late elementary, I’d shifted my loyalties to Trixie a bit.  That’s probably because Trixie was closer to my age and actually misbehaved in the stories…she seemed a little more realistic.  The interesting thing about my childhood favorites; Nancy, Trixie, and Scooby; is that they all embody the ‘friends as sidekicks’ approach to sleuthing.  That had a tremendous influence on me as a writer…no solo sleuths or lone wolf detectives for me.

Yeah, I think the lone wolf characters are kind of boring honestly. Unless something really sticks out.


“Reading… a vacation for the mind….” ~Dave Barry



*In your bio, you state “I started in on the Agatha Christies. Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot made me a lifelong mystery fan.” What was it at this stage of reading that made you a LIFELONG mystery fan? Something had a major impact here.  


Agatha Christie and the other masters of the genre turn mystery reading into an interactive experience. Their mysteries grab the reader and drag him in. A good mystery, such as the ones Christie wrote, make the reader feel as if he or she is in the sleuth’s skin, solving the mystery as they go.  It’s this armchair detection, the ability to feel the thrill of edging closer to a dangerous killer, all from the comfort and safety of one’s home. To me, there’s nothing else like it—it’s the ultimate escape.


Wow! I had an escape just by reading your statement! Excellent.


*Currently, who are your top 5 mystery writers and why? 

For cozies, my top pick is M.C. Beaton.  Her ability to write quirky characters and an engrossing setting is second to none. For police procedurals I like Elizabeth George, Deborah Crombie, and Louise Penney—their sympathetic portrayals of their detectives and how they balance their personal lives and professional lives makes their books both realistic and a joy to read.  For a darker story, I go to Norwegian writer Jo Nesbø…the grittiness of his stories sometimes just hits the spot, as a reader.


Elizabeth George is absolutely amazing. Can’t wait to read more of her books. 



*Since you’re an experienced reader in the mystery genre, is it easy to figure out whodunit? Or does it make it harder to enjoy a good mystery book? 

Unfortunately, yes, I usually figure it out.  I absolutely love it when I’m wrong. I love twists, I love being surprised.  But if the writer has done a good job wrapping up all the loose ends of a mystery and circled around to the beginning of the book from the conclusion, I’m still satisfied as a reader, even when I’ve pegged the killer.


Man, just was thinking how hard it must be to fool an experienced mystery reader.


*As a reader, what are your biggest pet peeves? (Writer Crimes)

I’m really not keen on plot devices and seeing writers manipulate plot and make characters behave out of character just out of convenience. This kind of Deus ex machina, especially at the end of a book, feels contrived and can contribute to a flat ending.

This is a very interesting viewpoint. We must be the ever skillful writer to avoid things like these. 


*After all these years of reading, what makes a good mystery? Or a great one?

I think greatness ultimately is attained through the sleuth’s personality. We don’t have to like the sleuth, but we have to relate to or understand him or her. A good mystery will have an interesting or appealing sleuth and a cast of supporting recurring characters that either act as a sleuth’s foil or play up his or her strengths.

I love this. It comes down to character and more specifically his personality. Understanding him or her makes all the difference. Sweet!


Thanks so much for joining us Elizabeth! Please come again.
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A book is a gift you can open again and again.

-Garrison Keillor




Keep reading

It’s one of the most marvelous adventures

that anyone can have

-Lloyd alexander







~ Benjamin Thomas





Join the Locomotion

Benjamin Thomas





Story of the Writer: K.T. (Kate) Ivanrest





Everyone please welcome K.T. (Kate) Ivanrest


Kate is a Fantasy writer, cosplayer, and Latinist who recently completed her PhD in Classical studies in Michigan. She also enjoys sewing, cosplaying, decaf coffee and bubble tea.
IMG_0153 (533x800)

Here’s Kate at the Michigan Renaissance Festival



(photo credit: Caitlyn Faust)


Hi Kate! 

*So what interests you in classical languages and studies? (I love Greek, Hebrew, and Latin by the way).

What actually got me into Classics were the languages themselves, particularly Latin grammar. I’ve always leaned heavily philological—my dissertation looked at how Roman authors used descriptions of odors in their texts, and at how those descriptions give us greater insight into Roman sensory culture.

Now that sounds cool. First, Classical studies is utterly fascinating. It’s no secret that people love roman culture. They definitely left their footprint on society. Yammers, I’ve got so many things to pick your brain about!

*What made you want to pursue this in college?

I needed a language requirement and had a friend who took Latin in high school and loved it. The next year I took “Greek and Roman Civilizations” to fulfill an honors requirement, and the rest, as they say, is (ancient) history.

Oh, Greek and Roman Civilizations sounds great. I’m not sure what it is about these two cultures, but they were powerhouses.

*Have you always wanted to be a writer?

Yes and no. I wrote as a kid—my school had a “Publishing Center” where we could illustrate our stories and have them bound into little books—and when Peter Jackson’s Fellowship of the Ring adaptation came out I got really into fantasy writing. I entered college as a writing major but didn’t really know what I would do with it—I naively thought I could study creative writing and magically become a successful fantasy author, so I was never very interested in my professional writing classes. In hindsight, I wish I’d gone that route; I think I would have enjoyed marketing.

Man, your high school had a publishing center? That’s awesome! Wish we had one. So many people have been influenced by the Lord of the Rings its amazing. I’ve seen the movies but haven’t read the books yet. *sinks in shame*

*Are you originally from Michigan?  (I was just in Ann Arbor actually)

Yes; my family lived in Indianapolis for a year when I was about 2, but otherwise we’ve always lived in Michigan.

Cool beans! I like Michigan. 

*Do you despise the Buckeyes?

I had to look up the Buckeyes to make sure they are, in fact, Ohio State, so…that probably tells you how I feel about them. 😛

Lol! Yup, that’s good ol’ fashioned Ohio State.  Just curious. There seems to be a great rivalry between the two. Makes for great entertainment!

*Would you use your background in classical studies to influence your writing?

Subconsciously, I think I do—my Latin classes were where I learned 90% of English grammar, and studying literature has definitely made me think about what I’m conveying with my own writing. I haven’t set any stories in Rome-inspired cities, though, or raided classical mythology for ideas—probably in the future, though!

I bet. It’s a rich source to draw from! 

stone-with-writing-md (1)

*You’re a writer; so what’s your story, or what inspired you?

I’ve always been telling stories to myself—I played soccer as a kid and mid-game I’d be standing in the field staring at the clouds imagining what lived up there. I remember taking bike rides and narrating stories out loud as I rode. 😛 Because I was fairly shy, I think writing them down was the natural next step. Interestingly, though, I’m not a natural storyteller—I’ve always been better at the actual writing than at crafting a narrative.

Eh, narrative, can be learned of course. You’ve been telling stories since you were a kid though, that counts. For what it’s worth, I’m not a natural storyteller either, but that’s a skill that can be picked up as we learn the craft.  I have a particular fascination with narrative, point of view and how it affects the story. When you learn something new drop me a line.

Tell us a Story Typewriter

*What’s your GOAL in becoming a writer?

At the end of the day, I think I’d say it’s to give people hope. I’ve got nothing against sad stories, and while I shy away from killing characters whenever possible, I understand the value of doing so in the right situation. But I want to write stories that, no matter what bad things might happen in them, leave my readers looking forward and thinking about the possibility for good—in people, in the world, in their own lives. I don’t write Christian lit, but I am a Christian, and I hope that underlies everything I write.

Well very good. (Pun unintended)

*What 3 things have hindered you from completing your projects? (CONFLICT)

1. Loss of interest. Occasionally I start writing and have no idea where the story’s going, and most of the time I peter out and lose interest before I develop a direction. But that’s not always bad—sometimes I just need to get a scene out of my system, or try something new as an exercise.

2. Writing difficulties. If I’m not sufficiently dedicated to a story, any serious snag (plot holes, character issues, etc.) might cause me to give up rather than push through.

3. Edit-as- you-go syndrome. I get so bogged down in editing that I don’t give the story room to grow and develop. My most popular tweet says “Keep writing, you can edit later,” but it’s advice I’m terrible at following!

These are all valid points. The “edit-as-you-go-syndrome” seems to be a common one. You hack the thing to pieces before its even ready. I planted a gladiolus bulb in the front yard one year. After a few short weeks, I was so frustrated because I didn’t see any growth. So what did I do? Dummy me, had to go dig it up to see if it was growing. It had a beautiful bright green stalk about 3 1/2 inches long judding out of the bulb. Of course it broke in half when I dug it up. *sigh* Plants are both beautiful and frustrating at the same time. To see them grow, develop, bud and blossom is absolutely beautiful.  But sometimes waiting for it to grow can be very frustrating. I suppose beauty requires patience.

Beautiful spring daisy flowers
Beauty on a stem

*What keeps you motivated in achieving your dream? (DESIRE)

One of my favorite things about writing is just hanging out with my characters. Getting to know them. Watching them interact. Giving them a hard time. If I’m not excited about the people in my story, chances are I’m not enthused about the story itself. So part of my motivation is getting to spend time with cool, albeit totally fictional, people, and part of it is hoping that someday I’ll get to share these characters with readers—who will hopefully grow as attached to them as I am.

This is a good one. I’ve heard many writers say the same thing. Hanging out with characters, or living in imaginary worlds etc. But you’re right Kate, if we’re not excited about our own peeps, it’s hard to imagine anyone else will. 

*What’s your ANTAGONIST? What’s in the way?

Impostor syndrome—the constant conviction that I’m not good enough, not creative enough, don’t know enough. It might sound stupid for a fantasy writer to say this, but I don’t tend to think of myself as a very creative person. I need to remind myself that cool ideas are only a small part of what it takes to succeed as a writer, regardless of genre.

This just validates that you’re a writer! A normal one. Cool ideas are relatively easy to come up with. But to take an idea and ripen it into a compelling story, is craft. Which can be learned. To me, a writer is essentially a learner. We’re just like the characters we create. We have goals, desires, dreams and what not. Then there’s the dreaded antagonist standing in our way. He often uses the fear tactic to stymie us. Works like a charm every time. As writers we have to learn to work through those internal conflicts to achieve what we want. Then as we overcome the internal conflict, we’re empowered to deal with the external conflict. Next thing you know you’re off to save the day and live happily ever after. But knowing the nature of the conflict and facing our own antagonist is the heart of the battle.

*Why do writers give up, quit or never complete their projects?

Any number of reasons. I was just reading a post by a writer lamenting that her favorite genre has fallen out of favor with agents and publishers—despite the fact that this was what she loved to write, she was considering giving it up because she was worried it wouldn’t sell. Time is another one—either the realization that writing a book takes a great deal more time and effort than expected, reluctance to set aside the necessary time, or an actual lack of time due to life circumstances. In the end, unless you remember what it is you love about something—a hobby, a dream, a job—you can always find a reason to give it up.

Well said. I like how you brought it back to what we love about something that’ll “keep the drive alive”.  Love is most interesting isn’t it? There’s a great deal of investment that goes into writing a book, published or unpublished. Love will keep us afloat amidst treacherous waters. 

*What would you say to a struggling writer who’s given up?

Think about why you started writing in the first place, and what you love about it. It can be really easy, in the tsunami of social media, to feel you’re not a “real writer” or that you’re “doing it wrong.” It can also be easy to get caught up in what’s popular and believe that in order to be successful, you have to write something similar. Don’t. Stick with the story in your heart. Write for yourself. Write for the fun

of spending time with your characters. Whatever gives you joy in writing, start from there.

I LOVE THIS. You know, by doing these interviews, I’m the first one that get encouraged. Writing is an extremely subjective experience, written by fantastically subjective persons. And the definition of success is also a very twisted subjective concept to most people. We tend to subjectively measure ourselves based on what we see objectively in others. We try to climb the mountain that they built. As they say, Rome wan’t built in a day. But then, it’s hard not to see the mountains around us. James Patterson, Patricia Cornwell, JK Rowling, Suzzanne Collins, Victoria Aveyard, George R.R. Martin. They’re gorgeous and breathtakingly majestic. Don’t try to climb their mountain; grow your own wings and take to the sky, see where it takes you.

Thanks for joining us Kate! I thoroughly enjoyed it! Please come again. 




Twitter: @KT_Ivanrest

Eagle in flight about the clouds
Imagination in flight

Grow your own wings. Sky is the limit, but imagination has no boundary…

~ Benjamin Thomas











Benjamin Thomas


On The Train: With Angela Ackerman


On The Train

with Angela Ackerman



We have a very special post today, with bestselling co-author of mutiple blockbuster thesauri Angela Ackerman.



We’re so pleased to have you with us today!



Author Angela Ackerman_Writers Helping Writers


Angela Ackerman is a writing coach, international speaker, and co-author of the bestselling book, The Emotion Thesaurus: a Writer’s Guide to Character Expression, as well as four others including the newly minted Urban Setting and Rural Setting Thesaurus duo. Her books are available in five languages, are sourced by US universities, and are used by novelists, screenwriters, editors, and psychologists around the world. Angela is also the co-founder of the popular site, Writers Helping Writers, as well as One Stop for Writers, an innovative online library built to help writers elevate their storytelling.

You can also connect with her on Twitter: @AngelaAckerman


I’m so glad to have at least one half of the dynamic duo of Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi. These two are a completely awesome pair and deserve a splendid title. Therefore, by the power vested in me, I deem thee Champions of Inspiration and Thesauri Queens! WAHOO! HIP HIP HOORAY!

And if you haven’t heard already, Becca & Angela are the masterminds behind the game-changing Positive and Negative Trait Thesauruses, as well as the Emotional Thesaurus.



little sketchy man with tie and glasses on winner's pedestal








The life of every man is a diary in which he means to write one story, and writes another. ~J.M. Barrie 




Hi Angela,
You and Becca have two wonderful setting books coming out soon, June 13th I believe. Can’t wait to read them. YUM. So let’s talk settings shall we?
Please don’t stone me, but I’ve never been to Canada. Hopefully sometime soon though. Especially since I keep meeting great people from Canada. (and I drink Tim Horton’s coffee)
*You live close to Calgary, Alberta; what’s it like living there? I bet it’s UBER GORGEOUS. Do you have any pictures of the Canadian Rockies to woo us with?

I won’t lie—it’s very beautiful. I am close to the mountains, and a well-known place called Banff, which is one of the most sought out natural areas in the world. Becca recently came up (from New York) as we were teaching a workshop together, and the first thing we did when her feet hit the ground was drive 45 minutes to Banff.

That sounds pretty inticing. I’ll have to follow suit. 



banff 2


This is absolutely breathtaking.




Looks like the mountains are right in your backyard practically!


See below for a list of their publications.

The Positive Trait Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Attributes

The Negative Trait Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Flaws

The Emotion Thesaurus : A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression

Emotion Amplifiers Kindle edition

The Rural Setting Thesaurus:  A Writer’s Guide to Personal and Natural places. Add this publication to your Goodreads  account.

The Urban Setting Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to City Spaces. Add this publication to your Goodreads



*Tell us about your new setting books and how they can enrich our writing.
This pair of books I think will surprise people, because so many writers really don’t peel back the curtain on setting and all it can do. Most think of setting as a stage, a place that is necessary for a scene’s action to unfold, the anchor for readers. They sprinkle in a few sensory details to help the reader picture it and then focus the storytelling lens on the action. But setting is story glue. It lends powers to all other elements: helps to characterize the story’s cast, adds dimension to plot and character growth through challenges and conflict, evokes mood, steers emotion through emotional triggers and symbolism, and even allows writers a way to deliver critical backstory in a non-dumpy way. Honestly, choosing the right setting for each scene is akin to creating magic, so learning how to use setting to its fullest may be one of the smartest things a writer can do to improve their storytelling.

But I guess that might not fully answer your question. Bare bones, these books show writers how to use the setting to elevate a story as mentioned above, plus list the sights, smells, sounds, tastes, and textures for 225 setting a characters might visit, spark ideas on how to generate natural conflict in the setting, and give descriptive examples of each one using different techniques. Most of the book is set up in list format, and each setting location has two pages of sensory detail and information. This allows writers to find the description they need that fits perfectly with their story and then quickly get right back to writing.

You guys are the best in the business, honestly, at what you do. We give honor to whom honor is due. I have all your books, yet there’s unplumbed depths waiting to be discovered.

Hone your skills with the Urban Setting Thesaurus.



Unearth the secret of mastering the Rural Setting detail.


I have to say, I’m licking my chops here waiting for these books to come out. In order to write or utilize setting to its fullest potential we need a KEEN NOSE. For detail, discerment and skill. The skill is in the balancing affect. Knowing when, how, and how much of the setting to enrich our  stories with.





*Can you tell us about the adventures you and Becca experienced in researching settings? I’M SURE YOU HAD MANY ADVENTURES LOL!
Yes we did. Becca has taken quite a few road trips to check out marinas, lighthouses, schools, and racetracks. I hung around some seedier areas to get sensory detail on alleys and underpasses, toured a jail cell, watched half a dozen videos on (ugh) taxidermy, and was arrested so I could get the sensory experience of being handcuffed in the back of a police car. Thankfully it wasn’t a real arrest because my family set the whole thing up, but it FELT pretty real, let me tell you!

I like how you casually weaved in getting arrested. I bet that was quite a sensory experience. Adventurous indeed!
*Where physically did you have to go in order to obtain the necessary sensory feedback?
Most of the locations we have in our books we physically visited. Some we couldn’t. It’s hard to get into a psychiatric ward, for example—they aren’t big on letting you tour a place like that. Or a funeral home, or a slaughterhouse. In these cases we watched a lot of you tube videos, did a lot of googling, and often talked to people who worked in these settings. But other places—a cruise ship, casino, a fire hall, ancient ruins, pastures, rainforests, orchards, salvage yards—these we visited. At the fire hall I got to try on all the firefighter gear, and man, talk about heavy!

Cool. You should’ve taken a picture! Sounds like it was a pretty thorough job. My dad was actually a fireman his whole career. 
*Where emotionally did you have to go to tune in to the settings?
Good question. It often depended on the setting, and what sort of emotions were naturally evoked. Sometimes we had to distance ourselves. To get detail on slaughterhouses and pastures, we watched a lot of videos that were disturbing and graphic—animal slaughter processes, factory farming, animal cruelty, things like that. We had to try and focus as much as possible on the details, not what was happening, to get these entries right.

Wow. That’s sounds very challenging. Hard to imagine having to sit through that. Well thanks for taking one for the team. It just goes to show how much work physically and emotionally are invested in these kinds of things. THANK YOU.
*Did you encounter any difficulties on your adventure?
Not that I can think of. Mostly it was fun, albeit time consuming—these two books took several years to create. But I am a big traveller and been to different countries, which really helped me get access to some of the different types of natural environments that are climate-specific (rainforests, deserts, places like that). And the fact that Becca and I live in different places helped us access different types of locations. It worked out well.

That’s great! Although personally, I would skip the rainforests and deserts. But seriously, this shows the caliber of writers you are, and I commend you for it. 
Thanks so much for asking these great questions!



Thanks for joining! Feel free to come back anytime.


ADDITIONAL RESOURCES: Must see interview with Becca Puglisi and Lorna Faith.




1. How Writers Can Bring Setting to Life through Personification  A guest post by Becca Puglisi over at C.S. Lakin’s site

2. Something Big is Coming by Angela Ackerman.

3. Level up your Setting by Thinking Outside the Box by Angela Ackerman.

4. Showing Through your Characters Senses a guest post by C.S. Lakin.

5. Learn How NOT to Waste Your Story Setting’s Full Potential by K.M. Weiland








Benjamin Thomas 


Story of the Writer: Abby Jones


Story of the Writer

Interview Series

with Abby Jones



Howdy all, welcome back  to the Train. Today we have another special guest…They’re all special right? Everybody please welcome Abby Jones! She’s actually a friend of the first interviewee of this series, Bethany A. Jennings. Thanks for joining us today Abby.




Here we go folks, let’s learn a bit more about Abby….

Are you married with children? 

I’m happily married to a man who is Licensed Teacher (Recognized Gifted Brother) in our church, with a desire for the eldership. We haven’t been blessed with any of our own children, but we have 11 nieces and nephews. I often write children’s stories for them, which I hope to publish as picture books someday. You can read some of them on my blog.

That’s awesome you already have an audience! 


Where are you located?

I live in the great state of Texas near Fort Worth.

Sweet. I’m in Buckeye country. I love Texas though.


Where did you go to school? Major?

After high school, I attended a local junior college where I got an Associate’s Degree and swore off college.

I have an Associate’s as well. Think about going back, but it’s much TOO expensive.


You said you switched genres a few times, can you take us through your experiences, journey with these?

Well, the first switches were due to my desire to spend more time writing and less time doing research. My older brother is an amateur historian, and I’m an armchair historian, so even writing Swords and Sorcery type fantasy required lots of research for fear my brother would call me out on an incorrect detail. Moving closer to a time frame I loved—Victorian—didn’t solve the problem. Funny enough, I still needed to do research. Confounded, I switched to Urban Fantasy. At least I’m familiar with what types of clothing we wear. Here I discovered my voice: action flick meets thriller meets fantasy with smatterings of beautiful prose.

For several years I settled down nice and snug in my world of serial killers, saved vampires, and broken hunters. While I was researching how to torture people (researching serial killers didn’t bother me as much as researching corsets or halberds), my husband and I sold our business so we could focus more on our church. I had several books under my belt by then, finished, and in various stages of editing.

My husband started preaching for our church on almost weekly basis. That’s when I realized that if I continued, I’d be going down one path and he’d be going down another. After talking to him and some close friends, praying, and crying a lot, I switched genres to something that lines up better with his plans: Faerie Stories and Children’s Stories.

Before anyone freaks out, my decision wasn’t forced on me, nor do we believe a hopefully-future-pastor’s wife couldn’t write vampire serial killer stories. Not at all. We both believe I had the total freedom to do that. It was me asking myself if those stories were serving my church at all. The answer was no. About three or four people total would even read them. Most people shied away from them. And, I didn’t feel comfortable talking about them with my church family.

Switching that last time to something I could actually share with my church was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I switched blogs, set aside stories I loved, and packed away very dear characters.  But, I didn’t want to go down a path that would lead me away from my husband’s hopes for the future, and I didn’t want to be unable to share the writing side of me with my church. If I’m not using my gift to encourage Christ’s bride, what’s the point of having it? (This is by no means meant to guilt anyone, just me being honest about my choices.)

God is amazing. He’s graciously blessed my work. My church family has been encouraged by my blog. I’ve connected with other churches via my writing that I never would have met otherwise. I’m closer to being published than I’ve ever been before with my children’s books. And, I’ve figured out how to tie my new YA Faerie Stories into my beloved Urban Fantasies minus the violence and language. God has been so gentle and kind to me through this time.

That’s a very touching story, thanks for sharing! I’m sure it wasn’t easy. At least you’re still writing!

Below you’ll find an image that has inspired Abby in her writing endeavors. Check it out, there’s some pretty cool artwork.


novel inspiration from Bethany

1. You’re a writer; so what’s your story, or what inspired you?

I discovered my love of writing back in 2000. My husband (then boyfriend) had just read Lord of the Rings, and was inspired to try his hand at writing. Wanting to be engaged in his interests, I started piddling around with writing as well. All my life, I’ve been a reader and a lover of stories, but I hate all things grammar-related. My mom even put me through remedial English as a home schooler. I longed for a way to artistically express myself, but couldn’t imagine dealing with commas and spelling and such. Don’t even get me started on homonyms. Everything changed when I finally gave in and put pen to paper. I discovered my form of self-expression. The stories in my head have been escaping ever since. Even with 16 years under my belt, I require editors (friends). I still can’t sort out where commas are supposed to go.

It always begins with reading doesn’t it? I talked to so many people that’ve been inspired by the Lord of the Rings. I’ve seen the movies but haven’t read the books!


2. What’s your GOAL in becoming a writer?

My original goal was to express myself. I’ve always felt the need or the longing to do creative things. I tried music, painting, drawing (which I still dabble in), photography, fashion (still something I love), and crafts. I was never satisfied with what poured out. I could never get anything to match what was in my head. Discovering writing was like discovering magic, though it should have come as no surprise based on the way I devour books.

Once I found my voice, my goal became, and still is, to tell warrior stories that don’t mince on the hardships of life but are flooded with beauty, light, and hope, from a Christian worldview. I love the concept of the man who sacrifices a normal life to hunt things that go bump in the night, and the woman at his side…with magic thrown in. I also love the idea of the Undeserved Rescue. I always have at least one villain being shown grace.

There you go, sounds good. Even the villains need mercy. That’s probably why I like Darth Vader so much. 


3. What 3 things have hindered you from completing your projects? (CONFLICT)

The first thing that has hindered me is just the learning curve. My first few projects fell by the wayside because I wrote myself into a plot corner that I couldn’t see a way out of. I’m also determined to publish a well-written story. I love books with excellent prose, and refuse to add to the slush pile of poorly written literature. This means years spent honing my craft and wordsmithing. I’m also a pantser and can’t publish one part of a series until the whole thing is done because it takes me that long to make sure I don’t need to make changes.

Second, I’ve changed my focus several times. I started out pretty traditional Sword and Sorcery, switched to Victorian Historical Fantasy, then to Urban Fantasy with a strong Criminal Thriller feel where I found my voice, and finally to YA Dark Faerie Stories. Each time I’ve changed focus, I’ve set myself back and created a new learning curve.

Last, writing is not my main focus in life. I love it. I write every day. I hope to be published someday, but all that is secondary to serving my church, my husband, and my family. Those three things are far more important to me than my stories. I’m unwilling to sacrifice them for the sake of my writing. This can be a real struggle. In our culture, we’re pushed to give up everything for the sake of art. I constantly battle the voices that tell me I should abandon everything to be a published writer. The voices lie. The stories are important, but they aren’t everything.

Yeah, I guess changing focus would definitely slow you down. Suppose it’s part of the journey of being a writer.


  1. What keeps you motivated in achieving your dream? (DESIRE)

I love stories. I love telling stories. I love this story and my Worlds before the Door (my name for them) specifically. Even if I can only write for ten minutes a day, I’ll take it. Even if I couldn’t write, I’d still be making stories up in my head. I’ve been doing that since I was six. It’s part of who I am, and who God made me. Besides…I’m really rough on my characters and even if I’m the only one reading the story, I can’t leave them until they reach the light.

I can relate! I love creating things and being creative. So storytelling is an outlet of that for me. The possibilities are endless! Honing or craft is learning how to take those ideas and shape them into a compelling story. Keep at it!



Business cartoon showing businessman with smiling face jumping from one cliff to another cliff.  The second cliff has a sign that reads 'Welcome to the Other Side'.



5. What’s your ANTAGONIST? What’s in the way?

My main antagonist is probably being a pantser. I have to discover the story first, while I’m writing it. Then I have to do major edits and rewrites. It seems to me that outlining is very useful because it cuts down on rewriting entire plot points or just having to yet again change the time of day. But, outlining doesn’t work for me. I am trying to learn how to outline, but thorough outlining drives me away from the story.

I’m a panster, or tweener, kind of. It’s good knowing what doesn’t work for you though. It’s part of the process!


6. Why do writers give up, quit or never complete their projects?

Learning to write well takes a long time, a lot of focus, and dedication. You can’t just sit down and peck out the next Great American Novel. It can take years to hone your craft. That’s intimidating. It can be a long time before you can share your work. That can be lonely. Every book you read seems to be better than anything you can produce. That can be discouraging. These are the reasons I’ve been tempted to give up.

It’s 100% intimidating, but also liberating and fun! Jerry Jenkins said something simple that lifted alot of weight off my shoulders. “Give yourself time to learn the craft first”. EPIC. Simple yet full of wisdom. So I gave myself permission and time to learn. The fact that it’s a life-long learning with dedication involved is very appealing to me on many fronts. One, being a life long learner! I’m probably a polymath of some sort. A lover of learning. Just take the process as it comes. Day by day. 


7. What would you say to a struggling writer who’s given up?

Find your core. What was it that first excited you about writing? Why did you start writing? Getting back to your roots can help you regain some perspective. Also, make sure you’re doing some fun writing, whether it’s fan fiction, word doodles, or poetry, do something playful. Last, write what you want to read.

Anytime I feel like I’ve lost my desire, I return to the concept of the Undeserved Rescue, war movies, and friendship stories. (Think Band of Brothers and Firefly.) These concepts fuel my mind and inspire me. You have to find that thing that keeps you going.

Absolutely, I love it. That’s very inspiring. “Find your core” I adore that statement. Those are some really good ideas, I’m going to have to play with some of those. Thanks for sharing. 



Can you tell us a little about your writing time in homeschooling? (Sounds like fun).

Most of the writing I did while in school was English/Grammar related, like parts of a sentence and such. At one point, my mom did tell me I could write sentences that didn’t include a black stallion.  Good luck with that one. I manage to work a black stallion into just about every major story I’ve ever written.

One time my Mom gave me a ‘free-writing’ type of assignment. I wrote an anthropomorphic story about my cat. My mom loved it and suggested I try my hand at writing beyond the required homework. I ran screaming in terror and didn’t try writing for fun again until several years later.

The great gift home schooling gave me was books. My Mom encouraged me to read, and read with discernment, filling me up with beautiful stories. I’m so thankful for the books she constantly put before me.

Books, books and more books! Wonderful aren’t they?


Can you say a little about how you run your writing time in your group?

Due to some health issues, I’ve had to step back from our group for over a year now. But, when I ran it, we would start by going over our goals, then I had a ‘Being Brave’ question which forced all of us to share something about our work. The bulk of the time was spent reading aloud a 1000 word excerpt from a project of your choice. After each reading, we would go in circle and offer remarks. I used a timer (3 minutes per person) and we had a no repeat rule: if it’s been said, either say something new or pass.

I’d like to say we kept things organized, but the group could get very long-winded. I have a love/hate fascination with Writing Groups.

Thanks for sharing your story and joining us on the Train Abby!


You can connect with Abby all over social media:














Benjamin Thomas




Story of the Writer: Janice M. Whiteaker



Janice M. Whiteaker



Ladies and gentlemen today we have a very special guest and fellow daytonian Janice M. Whiteaker. She’s is a mom and an author. I absolutely LOVE author moms. Being a parent is tough as it is, but then being a mom AND an author, adds a whole new dimension.

Everybody please welcome Janice! 

Welcome to the locomotion. Let’s begin!





Janice Whiteaker


Janice writes romances with a bit of suspense. One of her books, RUN is available now, and her new book OUT BAD is due on Amazon July 15th 2016. Here’s a peak at the covers.



RUN COVER 4-page-001




Her new book Out Bad, is available to pre-order and will be delivered wirelessly via Amazon July 15th. Check it out, I just pre-ordered!


out bad cover 2-page-001


Hi Janice!

It’s so nice to interview someone from my neck of the woods.

It’s great that you are a full-time mom and pursuing your dreams. I find that very inspiring.  Well, here it goes.

Are you originally from Dayton, Oh?

I am!  I was born at Kettering Medical Center and raised in Miamisburg.  Now, I live in Springboro which is where both my grandfather’s grew up.  One grandfather’s great-uncles actually helped found the city.

That’s awesome, I love Springboro. It’s a bustling area right now too. We frequent the urgent care center there. Lol!


Tell us a little about when you were a hairstylist.

I did hair for 15 years, most of them as a sole-proprietor.  I very much like to be in control of things (the same reason I self-publish) and it was a great fit for me.  I made my own hours and handled my own books.  The profession requires you to be a self-starter and I have found that to be very helpful experience when it comes to writing.

I admire anyone who can tackle self-publishing head on with its challenges. You also strike me as a go-getter. That’ll definitely work to your advantage.


YOU’RE A MOM! AWESOME! I love moms because they’re the hardest workers on the planet. Period. So what’s a typical day like at home?

Essentially, I make food, clean up food, make food, clean up food.  All.  Day.  Long.  Oh, and I try to keep the workplace injuries to a minimum.

I can relate to this all too well. Little eating machines aren’t they? It’s hard to believe human beings can be that messy. I’ve managed to keep that quality in adult life. *sigh* The workplace injuries MUST be kept to a minimum. Safety and fall prevention is part of my day job, I completely understand! Essentially we try to keep them fed, clean, and from killing each other. Fun!



Overworked and Multitasking
An overworked very busy multitasking author-mom under stress



Do you have any major hobbies you enjoy?

I actually have quite a few hobbies.  We own an RV, so we do quite a bit of traveling/camping.  I knit and crochet.  I also love gardening, the edible kind, and canning.  I’m pretty handy with power tools and love home renovation.  These hobbies rotate in importance since there’s only so many hours in a day.  Right now, we are in prime camping season so that is the major one.

Traveling is definitely a fun one. Not too outdoorsy, but I’ll go camping. It’s great you can work power tools. I’m jealous, sort of. Kind of mechanically declined. It’s hopeless.


What’s your genre? Why?

I write romance.  I love it.  Always have.  I love reading and writing about the complexities of love and relationships.  Plus, I’m a little bit sensitive so a book with a sad or upsetting ending will gnaw at me for a long time.  I like knowing the end of a book is going to be a happy one.  With romance, your odds of leaving the story with a smile on your face are pretty darn high.

It’s great you write what you love, love what you write. Makes a big difference. Youre readers are keen on this. I’m curious as to what you think a bad ending is though. 


Tell us about your upcoming book, Out Bad.

Right now I’m neck deep in editing a stand alone titled Out Bad.  It’s about a former motorcycle gang member trying to build a new life, one he hopes will attract a future wife.  He feels his past will make most women avoid him like the plague so he works hard to build a business and a beautiful home, hoping it will be enough to offset his misdeeds.  When he meets the woman he’s been looking for, it turns out the life he actually needs to help rebuild is hers, only in a very different way.

Your premise sounds very intriguing with lots of history. Can’t wait to read it!


1. You’re a writer; so what’s your story?What inspired you to take this journey?

Initially, it was simply to see if I could.  It’s probably odd, but I didn’t always write.  I didn’t always want to be a writer.  I have, however, always been a reader.  At a certain point, I was reading books by women just like me and I thought, I wonder if I could do this too?  So, I sat down and started writing.  Very quickly, I realized there was more to it than just writing.  That’s when I found K.M. Weiland’s books on structure and outlining.  I took some time, educated myself and then went back to work.  Right now I have one published book, one book in editing and another completed draft hanging out and I am deeply in love with what I’m doing.


Hey, you can’t go wrong with KM Weiland. Your story sounds very much like mine! The only difference was I didn’t read alot growing up (this didnt stop my rampant imagination) I did however fancy words a bit, kept a dictionary in my back pocket. Lots of TV and comics too.


2. What’s your GOAL (S) in becoming a writer?

I want each book I write to be better than the last.  I want my books to make people feel warm and fuzzy on the inside.  I want to write stories that stick with the reader long after they’ve finished, in a good way.  I want to keep people up at night, reading one more chapter.

Hmm. I like your focus here. You sound very passionate about what your doing. I love it! The profilic James Patterson said, one thing you can’t teach is passion. Every writer needs it, and you’ve got it. A+. 


3. What 3 things have hindered you from completing your projects? (CONFLICT)

Well, my first issue was lack of knowledge.  I had to learn the basics before I made a big mess so that really slowed down my first book.  Now, my primary struggle is perfection.  I am constantly forcing myself to keep moving forward and not get hung up on one line.

Somehow I think we’re kin.


4. What keeps you motivated in achieving your dream? (DESIRE)

I really like to push myself to progress.  I want to be the best I can be at everything I do, and writing is a great challenge in that aspect.  There is always something to learn, a skill to develop.

Very inspiring!  Writing will always teach you something new. Nature of the beast. Something of ourselves, characters, our writing process, the world, life etc. It’s the constant learning  that I love. You’ll find perfection in the process,  it comes included in the journey. 


5. What’s your main ANTAGONIST? What’s in the way of you accomplishing your goals?

This is going to totally ruin my chances at winning mother of the year, but as cute as my kids are, they are kind of energy and attention vampires.  Right now, my older son is dancing in his underwear, stabbing the television with a silk flower stem, repeating the dialogue to Pinky and the Brain at the top of his lungs.

You’re already Mom of the Year. Seriously, to your kids, your the BEST ever. That’s all they need. Nice visual.  All too familiar with underwear dancing, especially in front of the mirror before bedtime. Right when my patience is evaporated. They should make it into a sport.

We’ve got two mini-vampires aged 5 and 7. Not sure where their energy comes from, except sucked out of us. Hah! Actually we’ve got one Frankenstein, one Vampire. Adorable little cuties aren’t they?


~Every mom is a superhero to their children~



Author Momma



6. Why do writers give up, quit or abandon their dream?

Being a successful writer means different things to different people.  I would guess, most people want their books to be well received and make them some money.  Unfortunately, getting to that point is preceded by years of hard work with very little financial gain while you build a back list, a fan base, and an online presence.  It isn’t just about writing books anymore.  Now you have to build a brand while you write books.  Success involves strategy and business savvy, not only talent and creativity which can be more than a little overwhelming.

I love this answer, it’s so true!


7. What would you say to a struggling writer who’s given up? Or perhaps to encourage other moms in your position?

I think it’s important to realize writing and publishing is a marathon.  You have to train for it and then keep putting one foot in front of the other.

Nice. Words if wisdom here. Definitely a marathon. Takes training, commitment, determination, pleasure and endurance. Well said.




BONUS: What are your favorite quotes?

“You can’t edit a blank page.” Nora Roberts

“If I waited for perfection I would never write a word.”  Margaret Atwood

You can also list a few of your favorite books, novels, or writing books.


Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing-Mignon Fogarty

Smarter Faster Better-Charles Duhigg

All the Writer’s Thesauruses by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi




Keep writing sister! 

God bless you and your family!

Benjamin Thomas