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: 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.

unnamed (1)

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


May 24, 2016









unnamed (3)
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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-Garrison Keillor




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~ Benjamin Thomas





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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: Susan McIntire

Story of the Writer: Interview Series

Susan Mcintire


Ladies and gentlemen welcome back for another ride on the Writing train. So glad you could join the locomotion as we’re just getting started here. Well, shall we begin? All aboard! I’ve been THOROUGHLY enjoying getting to know my fellow writers on different levels. Our next guest is rather special in many regards. You might know her from her wonderful inspirational quotes she sends out on twitter on a daily basis. Everyone, please welcome Susan Mcintire.


~Welcome Susan~




Susan is many things all wrapped into one.  She’s a well traveled professional who’s path has made her into a stellar author, mentor, speaker, journalist and entrepreneur. I hope you catch the same light of inspiration that I’ve discovered in her. Susan frequently sends out very thoughtful quotes that I always find encouraging. Here’s a few.


If someone’s energy tries to damper your light, protect your spark even when he or she is blind to the fire within you. 

~ Susan McIntire



Secure writers don’t sell first drafts. They patiently rewrite…

~ Robert McKee


Art is not what you see, but what you make others see. 

~ Edgar Degas

Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time. 

~ Thomas Merton

What a writer has to do is write what hasn’t been written before or beat dead men at what they have done. 

~Ernest Hemingway

If you want something new, you have to stop doing something old.

~ Peter F. Drucker

Susan is also the author of Kindle Secrets with Scrivener for Mac: Make Money Self-Publishing Now.  I just got this book myself and can’t wait to read it.




Check it out here


Alright, so let’s learn a little more about guest…

Can you tell me where you went to school? I saw that you studied Journalism, cool! Why journalism?
I went to the University of South Carolina College of Journalism, where I also attended the South Carolina Honors College. I wanted to be a journalist from the age of 7 when I first wrote to the Ft. Myers “News Press,” asking to write two pages of children’s news. They turned me down but offered a tour of the paper instead. My mother thought they were just humoring me, so she never took them up on it. I kept writing and became President of the Florida Scholastic Press Association and our high school newspaper staff attended the Southern Interscholastic Press Association convention at USC. I also had an internship with the Poynter Institute, a global leader in journalism that was then called the Modern Media Institute. All of that experience is what lead to my attending USC with a journalism scholarship.
Wow. I find it amazing that you knew what you really wanted at age 7. I’m just now figuring that out for myself!
Tell me about your career path, and how it’s course has brought you to
where you are today.
To be honest, because I had already had an internship with what’s now called the Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg, FL, I was bored in my journalism classes. I interned at the “State Newspaper” in Columbia, SC during college and while I enjoyed it, I took note that nobody working there seemed to look happy (I’m sure some people were but in my youth, that was my impression)! I also realized that journalism was a business more than anything and I got sort of turned off by that as I was much more interested in telling a good story vs. having to write about something that would sell like stories about Michael Jackson (and this was in the 1980’s).
After that, I  switched tracks to ad/pr because I already knew how to write and I wanted to learn something for my money. Tuition costs went up 70% during my four years and I didn’t have a full ride but I had to re-apply for a scholarship every year. I worked almost full-time while attending school as well. I tried to work in my field. I wanted to get something out of my education but when I changed over to ad/pr, my friends all thought I was a traitor for leaving the newspaper track! Ad/PR wasn’t my passion like reporting had been but I was curious about it. At least if it was business related, it was pretty straight forward. I have to say I continue to see examples of journalism/media geared for ratings to this day and it is always disappointing to me but people are becoming more conscious of it.
 I totally understand about being turned off about the business side of things. Sounds like it really had a impact on you. Sounds like you had quite a bit of experience as well negotiating licenses  (not as a in-house employee) in the Ad/PR realm with working with Disney, Hasbro, NBA, Target, Wal-Mart etc. But I find it equally fascinating that retained that love of writing and storytelling throughout the years. 
Did something or someone in your youth affect your love of writing or helping others?
I think I answered this one already in the above.
Can you tell us a little about what you do now?
I went on to have a successful ad/pr career where I worked with some very high profile companies (think Oscar Mayer, Godfather’s Pizza etc.) but found it be hollow. It never really mattered to me how many hot dogs or pizza my work helped to sell. It’s not surprising that I didn’t find it that rewarding, since I sort of fell into it. My friends were right that I probably would have found more sense of worth by sticking with journalism even with the lack of control over the story assignments.
I came from a family of writers and it was heart-breaking to me that my mother kept procrastinating about her writing until retirement and then she died in a kayaking accident a year after she retired. She had received one rejection letter from a publisher. It had a profound effect on me and motivated me to want to help other writers not to die with a book in them, similar to the cliché of not dying with your music still inside. Since the self-publishing technological advances have enabled everyone to be a master of their own destiny in that area, I just have felt a calling to help support authors in their efforts.
That’s a very powerful story and very touching. You must be a very passionate person. In that regard, we must be siblings. My father died of bone cancer in 2012 when he was only 60. The impact was very crippling. The last time I saw him it felt like he wanted to tell me something. Kind of like unfinished business. The look on his face is forever seared into memory.  On my side, I needed to tell him something as well. Rather I just wanted what any other kid wanted from his dad, a father son connection. He died two months later while I was driving to see him.  That suffering has motivated me to appreciate the ones around me while they’re still here.
Can you tell us about your blog?
My blog is very neglected. I spend more time writing longer works behind the scenes that I will turn into books and I need to pay more attention to blogging. I’ve not been too concerned about building a following there or being famous in any way. I suppose I haven’t found the internal reason for blogging as much as I have the short motivational/inspirational posts I put out on social media that people seem to enjoy.
Here is link to a cool video from Susan’s blog.  Successful Story = Successful Habit Creation
You’re a writer; so what’s your story, or what inspired you?
Aside from the answers to the pre-interview questions, I’ve just always been a writer and a storyteller. My mom told me that my first grade teacher, Mrs. Dawson, was amazed that the first thing I ever wrote for her was three sentences long and included a beginning, middle and end. She’d never seen that before.
I don’t really need inspiration because writing is just how I’m wired. Words just come to me without very much effort. I can say the same thing about fifty different ways. And I do. I do write stream of consciousness, but when I edit, I edit a ton.
That’s awesome Susan. A writer and a storyteller. I’m loving this one “I don’t really need inspiration because writing is just how I’m wired.” Sweet. I’m finding a lot of what you say is very quotable. 
What’s your GOAL now in this stage of your career?
My goal first and foremost is to help other writers. I see myself as a tool to support other writers more than worrying about my own writing career. I always write too because I can’t coach other writers if I’m not experiencing the process as well. I think if I’d not become a journalist, I wanted to be a teacher and I always felt someday I would become a teacher but I wanted life experience first. So for me, it’s a pretty natural progression.
I love that you’ve always knew your aim in life, even as a child. You love writing and storytelling yet your priority is to help other writers. That’s very touching. Please feel free to come back anytime! Seriously, I definitely would love to have you back here. “..I can’t coach other writers if I’m not experiencing the process as well.” 
As writers we’re all “experiencing the process”,  this really does make us siblings in the craft then. When I really consider this statement, writing sounds mysteriously dynamic. We’re all in the this thing called “the process”. Everyone’s process is uniquely different, yet the same in other regards. It’s mind boggling. 
What 3 things have hindered you from completing your projects? (CONFLICT)
Or what have you observed in other writers?
The number one thing that keeps me from completing projects is “shiny ball syndrome.” I have multiple books at about the 2/3 way part when I decide that something else is more important and start something new. I don’t like feeling like a factory, so I’m okay with that and switching things up. Sometimes I’ve taken a break and sold my art as well and I’ve had a lot of very positive feedback from that. There’s a great satisfaction of knowing that someone loves your art so much that they hang it in the entrance to their home or in their living room. It was pretty enlightening to me that I enjoyed making people happy in that way and it’s a thank you or a recognition in a way that I never felt as a writer. So, I try to balance my creative endeavors.
Ah, the ol’ shiny ball syndrome eh? A lot of us know it all too well unfortunately. I definitely have my shiny moments in many things. I’m probably ADHD. 


Distracted businessman distracted
A man with shiny ball syndrome








“Well Bob, which idea do we build with today?”

*shrugs shoulders* “I don’t know”

What keeps you motivated in achieving your dream? (DESIRE)
While some people may think it’s silly, I feel great when people acknowledge that some little tweet I put out was just the thought or idea that they needed to hear at that moment to help them move forward in a work. I think my mom is always in the back of my mind and it motivates me to help others achieve their dreams.
I love your tweets! They’re very special and thoughtful. You’ve got your work cut out for you though. As you know, besides coffee, writers need boatloads of encouragement and inspiration. So keep up the good work we’re going to need it!:)
What’s your ANTAGONIST? What’s in the way?
Routine. I always feel guilty for the difficulty I have in sticking to routine but it’s just not me. I know what to do but I suppose I don’t have the desire necessary to routinize my day. I allow myself to be more creative with my day which may both help and hurt me at times.


Now I’m really convinced your’e my big sister. You just described my entire life in a nutshell. 
What’s been your experience as a mentor?
One of my favorite experiences was a random mentoring opportunity that had nothing to do with writing. A few years ago one of my Instagram followers was down around Christmas time and posted about how he was not looking forward to the New Year but I was the only person who replied.( I don’t understand that about our society though. I wish people would be more attentive even to acquaintances. The world would be a lot better place.)
Anyway, he needed a bit of advice both for his career and personal life and I helped him during a transition period to get a great job and improve his personal life. He wrote me the nicest thank you and still will send me an occasional text for well wishes on various holidays. He’s a dear friend and I’m really proud of him. It just goes to show how one person can really make a difference for someone if they just take a bit of time to connect. It felt great to be able to help and see him shine as he already had a lot going for him and just needed a bit of temporary guidance.
You’re testimony reminded of a TED talk given by bestselling author Amalie Jahn of the YA Clay Lion series. The impact of kindness is powerful.




Has your experience as a journalist helped you as a writer?
I suppose my journalism experience took the fear of editing out of me. I know it’s just part of the process and don’t worry about the fact that what I put down may look a lot different in the end.
 Hah! Losing the fear of editing would be great! Must be nice.
Why do writers give up, quit or abandon their dream?
I think most people do a pretty good job at second guessing themselves with a lot of unnecessary negative self-talk. First, they make the mistake of showing their writing to a family member or friend and if they get the typical bad reaction, they take it to heart when in fact that person may not be the right audience or have the expertise to really give appropriate feedback. Second, if a writer has early success, they may experience imposter syndrome, meaning that they don’t feel worthy of the accolades so they sort of shut down. Third, I think a majority of people just let life get in the way and don’t make writing a priority because they don’t have a clear vision of their dream.
 So true. We need to surround ourselves with positive people who will support achievement of our dreams. 
What would you say to a struggling writer who’s given up?
I would say that you’re not just letting yourself down but you’re letting the world down because you are the only person who can put your spin on things. Your voice will never be heard unless you make the effort to express yourself and we are all richer in connection when you put your thoughts out there. Yes, they may need polishing and no, not everyone is going to write a Pulitzer Prize winning novel but I believe as I did when I was seven-years-old that everyone has worth and has a story to tell that benefits us all. If anything, tell yourself you will write for just five minutes tonight after dinner. Keep the expectations low and doable and reward yourself when you succeed in writing for those five minutes. Soon, you’ll be in flow and the writing will become easier but don’t overdo it. The idea is to go for consistency.
“Everyone has worth and has a story to tell” I love that. Awesome!

Owning a pen does not make you a writer but not using it is like lamenting missing a plane to your future when you had a ticket at your disposal. 

~ Susan McIntire 


Thanks so much for joining us Susan! Please come again!

Lastly, we’ll end with Susan’s favorite quote:


“There is no rule on how to write. Sometimes it comes easily and perfectly; sometimes it’s like drilling rock and then blasting it out with charges.” ~ Ernest Hemingway







Benjamin Thomas



Story of the Writer: Linda Yezak






Welcome back to the Writing Train folks!

All aboard!


Our next guest to kick off the series is none other than the great Linda Yezak. Wahoo! Everybody put your hands together for Linda. *applause* I mainly know Linda as one of the critique partners of bestselling author K.M. Weiland, and a fellow wordplayer in our awesome facebook group. If you would like access to this group click here.  Now if Kate or KM Weiland is likened to Yoda, then Linda is definitely Obi Wan Kenobi. Hands down.



Linda cropped


Here’s a little more about Linda

Linda W. Yezak lives in a forest in Deep East Texas, where tall tales abound and exaggeration is an art form. She holds a BA in English and a graduate certificate in Paralegal Studies. Thirty years after graduation, she’s finally putting her degree in English to good use, combining it with her natural inclination toward story-telling to create fun, unique novels, including the Carol Award Finalist, Give the Lady a Ride, its sequel The Final Ride, and short stories like “Slider,” which won an honorable mention position in Saturday Evening Post’s 2015 Great American Fiction contest.


1. Essentials first. What’s your favorite BBQ sauce?

My husband makes one that has me spoiled to all others, and it uses as its base a name-brand sauce that is one of my least favorite. Go figure.

Hmm. Sounds like a man with admirable skills. Tell him he’s hired, and we’ll put it on mail order. 


You Underestimate My Power 10052016232559











2. Tell us a little about where you live, ranch etc.

Currently, we’re in a rural residential neighborhood in a forest in Deep East Texas, about a thirty-minute drive from Louisiana. From where I work, I can see our pond with all its lily pads in bloom, the squirrels chasing each other around the hickory trees, and bluejays and cardinals preening in the birdbath. Until we retire and move back closer to home, this is our little slice of heaven. Our farm back home is a bigger slice of heaven.

“in a forest in Deep East Texas” wow, the imagery this evokes is explosive. I used to live on a six acre property and thought that was big. Mowing the lawn was brutal. But your ranch sounds very peaceful and conducive to the writing process.
2. Have you always been a writer?

In one way or another. In college, I had a professor who wanted me to pursue it as a career, but I had other plans. Turns out I should’ve listened to her. If I had, I would’ve been better established before the industry started going wonky.

Wonky, now that’s a word that’s definitely going in my vocabulary.  Hindsight is 20/20 as they say. But I don’t believe in accidents or coincidences, you’re right where you need to be.


3. What’s your favorite book?

This is always tough for me to answer. I have several favorites, each for different reasons. To make it to my favorites list, a book must totally submerge me into the story and leave me drained afterward, leave me with a sense of awe. It also must teach me something about the craft of writing. Of all the books I’ve read, only a handful reach this level.

You just left me dangling on the edge of my seat here. We’re gonna have to have you back for an additional interview just to mine the riches of this statement.


4. Favorite writing craft books?

These days, I’m more a fan of learning from other authors than from “how-to” books, but if I had to name one, it would be Steering the Craft, by Ursula Le Guin. (Not a K.M. Weiland star, but at least it’s one she recommended to me.) What I love about this one is that it’s aimed at more mature writers who have advanced beyond basics. She does include the basics, but she also goes beyond Writing 101. She has a new one directed at 21st century writing  that I’d love to have.

I have the second book you mentioned: Steering the Craft: A Twenty-First-Century Guide to Sailing the Sea of Story, and I can’t wait to read it! YUM.


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

As I said, I’ve always written, but most recently, back in 1997, I got back in to it out of sheer pragmatism. I needed a job I could do from home. When my husband and I moved here, my father had cancer, and my mom was soon a widow who lived 150 miles from me. I needed something to do that would keep me busy, but available to her when she needed me.

I don’t remember what inspired the first novel I wrote. It was a sorry thing, as was the second one. But the story behind my first published novel–my award winner, Give the Lady a Ride–is on my blog right now (here: Give the Lady a Ride) because I’m promoting its sequel.


GiveTheLadyARide_2016 Kindle

Give the Lady a Ride is available now.



The Final Ride: The Circle Bar Ranch Series is coming July 2016.

Lovely book covers by the way.
6. What’s your GOAL now in this stage of your career?

Now that I have several novels under my belt, my immediate goal is to learn how to better manage them and make money from them. I learned more about how to write than I did what to do once I’d written, so I’m scrambling to catch up. Since I always pursued traditional publishing, I thought there were some things I didn’t need to learn. Wrong. Now I’m enjoying the control I have over my books, but I realize how little I know about the promotion/marketing end of the business.

Yep, that sounds like marketing. You’ll want to tune in for next Friday’s interview with someone who knows exactly how to help writers make money from their projects. Stay tuned Friday 5/20/16 for something special. 


7. What 3 things have hindered you from completing your projects? (CONFLICT)
a. I have more projects than I can complete in my lifetime, which is the biggest problem–and should be familiar to anyone who is of a creative nature.

b. I apparently am incapable of saying “no,” so I’m always adding to my workload. Since, as a freelance editor, much of what I do is paid for in advance, I have to push my projects down the list until I finish work for others.

c. Since I don’t live in a vacuum, and I’m not a recluse, life tends to get in the way quite a bit.

On the flip-side, I have finished most of my projects for this year, so I’m not complaining.

Those all sound like pretty legit conflicts to me. Having an idea folder seems to help. But picking an idea and fleshing it out unto full maturity can be challenging when you don’t have the time. 


8. What keeps you motivated in achieving your dream? (DESIRE)
Deadlines, self-imposed or otherwise, and the occasional kind word.

Ah, yes. The blessed deadlines. Those would be helpful. Or dreadful depending upon who you ask.  Motivation and encouragement we all need on a daily basis. Maybe they could  fill IV bags and pump it directly into our veins, that’d be sweet. 


9. What’s your ANTAGONIST? What’s in the way?
Good question. The answer is twofold: my inability to say no–which eats my time–and my lack of time.

Father time, stubborn ol’ geezer isn’t he? As they say, time and tide wait for no man. Matter of fact he’s running with reckless abandon.  Definitely not on our side that’s for sure. I’ve been writing for five minutes a day and building on the momentum. Some of the most effective engines start out slow, but once they get going they’re hard to slow down.  Trucks, locomotives etc. 


10. What’s been your experience as an editor?

I’m always honored when people trust me with their manuscripts. They’re paying for my knowledge, expertise, experience, and, yes, opinion. I love it when my work for them is well received, and it breaks my heart when it’s not. But I always give it my best.

You’re right. It’s a very honorable interaction. Like handing your newborn sweetie over to a complete stranger. Well, kind of.  Excuse the analogy. 


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

I think the answer is as diverse as the writers who have quit, but among the top three are lack of time, lack of discipline, and lack of encouragement.

Aside from that, writing isn’t easy. Even those with a knack for it must learn, and keep learning, the craft if they want to rise above mediocre. When people type “the end” on their manuscripts without a firm understanding that they aren’t finished yet–that they have to edit and rewrite and sweat and spill more blood–they’re destined for disappointment.

You said it, Linda. Time, lack of discipline and encouragement will do anybody in. The writer’s graveyard is expanding as we speak in part to these three monstrosities. These three great assassins target your dreams at the end of their barrel. Without mercy or respect of person. The lack of time is inevitable and varies widely according to the individual. We can schedule, make it up, or let it squander. But let’s be clear, time and tide wait for no man. We have to go after it with whatever is left in the tank. Discipline can, and should be cultivated, learned as a vital productive tool. Otherwise we’re looking at holes in our pockets. Lastly we should seek daily encouragement from a writing community. 

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

Lands, I want to give up every day. This job, like old age, ain’t for sissies. It’ll pulverize your pride and stomp on your heart. It can be a cruel demon one day, and fly you away on gossamer wings the next. You can’t rely on your muse–she’s a drunken hussy who’s never around when you need her. So you’re on your own.

To the writer who has given up, I say bravo! Life is what happens when you’re not bleeding over a keyboard. Go live it!

To the writer who struggles with his decision to give up, I say re-evaluate. Are you–or others– disappointed in your writing skills? Study. Try again. Are you setting unrealistic goals? Give yourself a reality check. Are you suffering from a lack of encouragement from those whom you need it the most? Leave them to God and write.

Analyze why you’ve quit and fix it. Because if you’re really meant to be a writer, that drunken hussy of a muse will never leave you alone. At least not until you need her.

Your first response is comical. Had a nice chuckle! The second response is honest and practical. Re-evaluate things and determine the cause of disappointment. Take a step back and get a bird’s eye view. 
BONUS: What’s it like being a critique partner with KM Weiland?

I’m blessed to have her as a critter. Though we disagree on some things, her input is a vital part of my process. Very few know the craft as well as she does.

I’ll say amen to that, we’re glad to be her little ducklings!

Thanks for joining us Linda! Please come back for a second round on the Writing Train!
Linda W. Yezak

Hopeless Coffeeholic

Triple Edge Critique Service

The Circle-Bar Ranch Series

Give the Lady a Ride

Coming July 2016: The Final Ride

Due in 2017, Ride to the Altar

Facebook Fan Page:


Twitter: @LindaYezak

Amazon Page:
777 Peppermint Place:


Just FYI, I’ll be posting interviews every Wednesday and Friday for the Story of the Writer series. Our next guest on Friday the 13th is Kim Vandel! Come back hop on the train and check out her new book, Into the Fire. Don’t change that channel!

Over and out.



“Sleep is good,” he said. “And books are better.”

-George RR Martin



Benjamin Thomas






Physiology of the Writer: Respiratory System


Lungs with visible bronchi




Howdy there!

Welcome back to another edition of the physiology of the writer!  We will dedicate this weeks post to the awesome respiratory system.  Did you know that the average person breathes 7-8 liters of air per minute? And uses about 550 liters of pure oxygen on a daily basis?  That’s a lot of air!  And that’s not even taking into account any amount of exercise you might be engaged in.

The entire respiratory system as a whole is extremely vital to our body’s functioning and survival.  Without it we die.  Plain and simple.  Without oxygen nothing works. Plain and simple.  The physiology of the respiratory system is very complicated and I won’t go into details here. But there’s one word I could I’d use to characterize the entirety of the respiratory system.  RECEIVING.  The lungs consume oxygen amongst other elements and delivers them to virtually every part of our body.  Technically as the lungs expand and recoil they not only receive but relieve the body of excess gases when we exhale. Pretty cool huh?

As writers we can liken this receiving function to READING. Yes, reading. You hear a lot about how we need to write daily and often, but we need to read just as much.

  “Great writers are great readers”

 -Bestselling author Jerry Jenkins

So I did something this year to dedicate myself to reading.  I joined myself to a 100 book reading challenge hosted by author K.M. Weiland!  Excellent.

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Have fun!