The Buddy System for writing


Last week I talked about how if I wanted to get something done, I just had to do it. I had to push aside all excuses, and I can really come up with some doozies. I’m also a genius artist at putting things off.  So my technique was basically to shut up and just do it. Yeah, I know, it doesn’t sound scientific at all but it is honest and when I actually do it, it really works.

I recently learned of a scientific technique to achieving your daily goals. It’s called the WOOP method and it even has an app that you can download to help you put the method into action. It is an acronym that lays out the steps. W for wish, the goal that you want to achieve. O for Outcome, what you will get from finishing your goal.  O for Obstacle, for that thing within yourself that is standing in your way. And P for Plan, what you’re going to do to overcome your obstacle. (If you want to learn more about WOOP, please visit )

If you follow these four steps for each goal that you have, you will achieve success. It’s elegant in its simplicity and honest just like my “technique”. It lays bare the fact that the reason you aren’t already achieving your goals is because you are standing in your own way. When I used the app, it basically took the last two steps and turned them into a statement. It asked me what stood in my way and I said “I hate my writing”.  Then it asked what I was going to do to overcome that and I said “I was do it anyway”. So the statement it created was “When I hate my writing, I’m going to do it anyway.” Or something like that. Wow, that sounds…familiar. I think I’m going to make that my mantra.

Whenever you go down any trail in life like the one pictured above where I walked with my husband and son earlier today, you should always travel with a buddy.  The buddy-system has been around forever and is used for many aspects in life. I think it’s perfect for achieving your writing goals. I gave it a try this week on twitter. For three days I began my day with a tweet that invited any writer who saw my tweet to tell me what their writing goals were for the day. I promised that if they told me theirs, I would tell them mine and together we would encourage reaching those goals. The first day, I had no takers. The second, two people told me their goals, so I shared mine. At the end of the day, I was able to check back with one of them and they had reached their goal.  And so had I. It was a great feeling. The next day, I had charming girl confess that she had writer’s block and only wanted to write 500 more words. I gave her a writing prompt that I thought would help her break through and it worked! I was so happy to have helped her reach her goal, I completely forgot to reach mine. At least some writing was done, even if it wasn’t mine.

I’m going to keep this up. If you want to buddy up with me, just reply to my tweet any day that I send it out. (You can find me @vg.acorngirl )20170210_171018

This week’s cat is Lucky. She wears sweetness like a mask and will lash out at you if you even so much as breath near her wrong. She had come to us from my husband’s brother who had to give her up because of the birth of his daughter. He had found her as a kitten, hitchhiking under the hood of his car, (hence the name). After all these years, she is still very feral and most of the other cats in our herd give her a wide berth. She still likes to snuggle as long as you keep petting her and remain perfectly still.


Dedication : what to do if don’t have it


I had big plans for this week. I’m not exactly positive what they were but I remember feeling that they were big. Part of the reason I don’t write as much as I could is because I use my husband as my excuse not to. Let me just say right up front that I know this is unfair. I will tell myself that it’s better to spend time with him than plug myself into a computer.

Let me explain first I’m not talking about quality time. Although he works very hard to fit in bouts of quality time, hikes, drives to the country, etc. I’m also counting the times when we’re just sitting around watching reruns on Netflix. Unlike me, he manages to work during these times. His computer is right there in the family room. Mine is upstairs in the loft. I could be working and still be within earshot.  See the shot from above? That’s my desk. Two steps to the left and I could look down the stairs and see him at his desk. I’m separated from him by about ten feet. I would just rather be lazy.

So my big plans that I had for this week stem from the fact that my husband would be away for almost five days. He’s at a convention in Indianapolis. Without him here, I couldn’t use him as an excuse. His presence wouldn’t be my crutch and I would work like never before. That was the plan, anyway. It’s not exactly how it played out. Let’s just say that I learned a lot about myself this week.

I started off by asking other people what they do to make sure that they stay focused on the work. I went on twitter. A few techniques were proposed. Most of them utilized phone apps.  One of these is called “Forest”.  By setting the timer for ten minutes of time that you are supposed to be “focused” on your task, you plant a symbolic tree. It’s cute and I have used it for at least two days this week but I can’t guarantee that I’ll return to it. Another person also recommended “Habitica”.  A couple of months ago I was a big user of this app. It turns your real life into a role-playing game. The tasks that you want to accomplish become things that you can earn experience points and gain levels.  This is a wonderful concept but I’m afraid that after a few weeks, I just lost interest. Both of these apps (which I found on Google Play) utilize imaginary punishments and rewards. The stakes are not real no matter how hard I pretend.

If the rewards from succeeding at my goals aren’t enough to make me do the work, why would imaginary trees and experience points convince me? So is this all just a mental block?

I had coffee with a friend yesterday and told her that I had planned to go to the gym later. She told me that she was proud of my dedication. I thanked her but it made me think. I don’t consider myself dedicated. I HATE working out but I do it. I even think about quitting while I’m doing it. But I don’t. Don’t ask me why because I don’t know. I have a set of certain exercises that I do and then I just do them until I’m done.

What if I apply that to my writing?

My husband makes a to-do list every day and it really works for him. One day this week I made a to-do list of what I wanted to do with my writing just for that day. It was hard. I wanted to skip out on the list but I didn’t. Like with my workout, I just did the work. I accomplished my goals for that day.

So yeah, there you go. That’s the secret. How do you make yourself do the work when you don’t want to? You just do the work, even though you don’t want to. So that’s the plan for this week. Make myself work.  Maybe not every day. I don’t work out every day. I’ll let you know next week.20170126_203135

So, that brings me to my cat of the week.  This is Jack. He is one of my original three. I had only wanted to have three cats but fate had other plans. (The other two of the original three are Odin and Seamus. Seamus passed away back in May.) I’m not sure exactly of Jack’s age but I know he’s over ten and is still very healthy and active. I think we named him after Jack Sparrow. It’s been a while and I can’t remember for sure. He can be a jerk sometimes but he is my daughter’s favorite, hands down. She calls him her son.

Failure : a temporary option


This is hard. I don’t mean writing. Everybody knows that writing is hard. I think that I’ve seen at least three memes illustrating that on Twitter this week. What’s really hard is sticking to arbitrary self-imposed deadlines. I have accomplished some things that I meant to. I typed up a bunch that I’ve written in “Frogsong”. I joined a beta-test group for a new online story publishing format. I’ll tell you more about that as I learn more. I may have found a beta reading partner too.  I think that “Frogsong” will be perfect for both.

But it’s not enough. It’s not my original plan. While I did post more on Twitter and Facebook, I keep chided myself that I could have done so much more. I have considered it an accomplishment that I posted something on Twitter once a day. I want to develop a “presence” or whatever, but that’s not going to do that.  I need to do more. Sometimes I participate in a writing game like #MuseMon or #1lineWed. Sometimes I comment on my progress on editing “Vibrancy” which has me the most down in the dumps right now.

I had found a VERY talented editor and she convinced me that the story had real potential but I have to make the changes. So I dove right in.  That was the one big thing I had put on my goals. Make the changes and submit the story to a journal or magazine for publication. Within the first steps into editing I began to drown myself in self-defeating questions. How long ago did I write this? Why did I think this was any good at all? If I make all of these cuts, will there be anything left?

I keep telling myself that other writers have these doubts, other people who try to create things but while I make myself do the work, I feel like I’m so out of my depth. Seeing my work through someone else’s eyes can be really painful. I thought about posting some of the sentences that my lovely editor had marked for deletion but looking at them from her perspective I am just ashamed. I wanted to show you how pretentious my writing had been but to reveal that to you now that I know the truth makes me feel so exposed. I might as well strip naked and run down the middle of my very public street.

So I thought about quitting. Being a writer is not all that I am. I’m a wife and mother. I drive to work every weekday as a professional librarian, where I catalog a multitude of books that somehow found their way to publication, despite their level of writing. It’s easy to go to work and earn my paycheck and bury myself in the odd minutia of cataloguing rules and formulas. I’m actually proud of my ability to navigate the complexities of that world and I get paid to do it. Maybe I should just pack up my writing journals and my self-imposed goals and let go. Just be what I already am.  It would be so easy.

Honestly, I only entertain that thought for just fleeting moments. The point of living is to not be stagnant, keep moving forward, keep improving.  “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming.” So what if I didn’t fulfil my goal for this experiment. Failure should be treated as a temporary condition. Sure, I’m disappointed in myself but I’m not out of the running yet. (Brace yourself for a platitude…)

I can only truly fail when I stop trying.

So, I’ll be back next week with new goals and hopefully a couple of updates.  For now, let’s celebrate my cat of the week. The picture above is of Oreo. She came from the same irresponsible people that left us Friday. We found her gasping for breath in our backyard and took her to the vet. She had a lung infection causing her lungs to fill with fluid. The vet at the time told us that we should put her down because the chances of fixing her were too slim. Her owners at the time said that they couldn’t even afford to pay to have her put to sleep. My wonderful husband decided that this vet was an idiot and took Oreo to a different vet who cured her condition without a hitch. We took over ownership of Oreo and she has lived with us for the past five years.


She is a sweet cat that is shaped like a miniature black bear, with bugged out eyes like the actor Steve Buscemi. She is actually Friday’s aunt. She had nursed him with her kittens when his mother tragically died. About five seconds after this picture was taken, the two of them were beating the crap out of each other.

Selfie deficient–should I seek professional help?


Have you ever seen anyone who was so beautiful that you could just stare at them for hours? I’m not talking about celebrities. I mean people that you can see in real life. For me, one of those people is my daughter. She is unbelievable beautiful. I understand how DNA works. I saw that classic episode of Cosmos with Carl Sagan when I was a kid and it really made an impression. I know that part of what makes her beautiful had to come from me. (The rest from my wonderful husband, of course, but I believe she got a lot more valuable gifts from him.) People have even told me that she looks like me, but, and I know I’m soundly overly self-critical here, it has to be only the good parts.

I have always had deathly pale skin. When I was a kid, I was bullied relentlessly for it. Shocking, right? Tormented for the shade of my skin and Irish genes. The popular girls would always make a bee-line for me when they came back from spring break on some sunny beach, all so that they could compare their tans to my white skin. (Skin cancer was really not much of a concern back then.) To this day I still can’t wear shorts because I’m embarrassed of my pale skin. I thank God that my daughter loves her pale skin, striking red hair and she can wear shorts just fine.

One thing she can do that I can’t do, even if my life depended on it, is take a selfie. She recently got her hair cut short and I asked to see it. She sent me three selfies that could have been ads in a fashion magazine. The lighting was perfect and she was perfectly placed in each of the shots and as always she looked so beautiful. Is taking a selfie a self-taught skill or a talent that people are just born with?

I’ve seen other people who are not my children who can take selfies. I see them on Twitter and Facebook. They’re usually writers who are trying to promote themselves (because that’s usually who I follow and I guess that’s what I am). These are decent looking human beings, sometimes beautiful, sometimes just incredibly human but very capable of taking good selfies. Each time I have tried, I think I look like a paranoid, freaked out human candle that is in the early stages of melting.

While my pale skin has kept the wrinkles to a minimum, gravity has not been kind. I recognize that I’m hyper-critical of everything to do with myself but I do have moments when I can look in the mirror and be more than a little okay with what I see. I can have good hair days and sometimes I wear the right colors to make me look as good as it gets. Sometimes the lighting in my bathroom is just perfect. Why can’t I translate this to a picture that I take of myself?  My face is never where it should be. My eyes are never looking in the right place and I just look weird.

I’ll keep trying and if I get one that doesn’t repulse me, I’ll share it with the world. Until then, I will represent myself with pictures of my husband’s art or pictures of my cats. Today’s picture is of Friday. He is probably the most photogenic of my herd. We ended up with him when our previous neighbors moved away and didn’t take their cats with them. I never knew what they called him. I called him “Friday” because I was reading the Thursday Next series of books and I thought the name suited him. He is extremely affectionate to people but plays a little too rough with the other cats, so we usually put him in his own room at night.20170806_111111

He is such a ham for a close-up.

As for reaching my writing goals, I still have a week to go. I have begun to make changes to “Vibrancy” and have found a couple of journals/magazines to submit to when I have it ready. I have typed up some of my longhand writing for a speculative fiction novella called “Frogsong” and I’ve written some dialogue for a scene in my YA fantasy novel temporarily titled “Boxes”. (I’m sure a better title will come along.) I have also been working on promoting myself more on Twitter. You can find me @vg_acorngirl .

I wouldn’t be here without believing you are here for me also.  I thank everyone who has liked my blog so far and shown me your support. Next week, we’ll see if I met my goals.

Accountability–careful, it’ll bite


Something is wrong with me. I’ve lost my mojo, whatever that is. I had it once, maybe a couple of times. I think it comes in spurts.

I wrote a book once. I even had two publishers who wanted to sign me to publish it. I picked one and began the long process of – I’m not even sure what. My book was put on the schedule to hit the stores more than 18 months later. I didn’t know any better. I thought this was normal. What I didn’t know was that this was a blazing sign of a publisher that had over-reached and would eventually implode under the pressure of their good intentions.

But I’m not here to whine about how they went out of business and my book remains unpublished. This isn’t about them. This is about me. I called this post “Accountability” for a reason.

I could blame the publisher’s demise for my unpublished status but if I look at the facts, I just can’t. While I was signed, I was so active. I wrote short stories that were destined for anthologies and web-exclusives.  I started new novels. I began to develop a strong web presence on social media.

Then I stopped.

The weird thing is, I really want to be a writer. It’s something I still can do, even though I’m rapidly approaching 50. I just need to get off my ass and put in the work. I think I am inherently lazy. I’ll cocoon myself in excuses to not do the work. I’d rather sit in silence and do nothing with a wheezing cat on my lap. (The wheezing cat is Odin and he is pictured above. He was having a bad day. ) I have even done housework to avoid writing. But to accomplish what I want I have to stop making excuses and being lazy.

This is my first step in being accountable. Without a publisher checking up on me, and encouraging me and making me do my work, I’m asking for you to fill in. The beauty of this is that you don’t have to do anything.  If I believe you’re out there and believe that you’re reading this and are aware of my goals, that should be enough motivation. I don’t know for sure. Let’s just call it an experiment for now or me grasping at straws.

Now comes the point where I state my goals. I’ve written a lot of stuff.  99.9% has never seen print. I have a short story. For now let’s call it “Vibrancy”, mostly because I can’t find a better name. I believe it’s an excellent story. I just don’t know if I executed it well.  I sent it to an editor and paid her $20 to tell me what was wrong with it. The pages came back bleeding with comments. Goal #1: Make the revisions to “Vibrancy” and submit it somewhere for publication. From this day forward I’m giving myself two weeks to do this. During that time I’m going to type out as much of the writing I’ve accumulated in long-hand.

Next week, I will post another blog and report to you what I’ve accomplished. If this works, I’ll keep posting and keep adding goals as I get closer to getting my mojo back. I answer to you now and this is where I’ll do it.

J.D. Bretton, one amazing paranormal romance author…


This week, we get to see the inner workings of paranormal romance writer and poet J.D. Bretton. You can see why I find her so fascinating if you check out her website at

Question–I see that your current book, Three of Swords, (in fact the whole trilogy) is based on the tarot. Which came first, your desire to write or your attraction to the tarot? Tell me how you came to both of them and how you decided to combine them?

J.D.– For as long as I can remember I have always loved reading, words, and writing, so that definitely came first. Poetry is actually my first love when it comes to writing. Three of Swords is my first book in the paranormal romance genre.

Along with Book 2 of The Tarot Trilogy, I’m also currently working on a collection of love poems called The Drunken Bell. Here’s a link:


I also recently tried my hand at flash fiction and have a piece (a twelve word story) coming out at Haunted Waters Press in the fall.


When I completed the very first draft of Three of Swords, tarot was not even a part of it! The book had an entirely different name-Flutter. When I started researching the name, I saw that a whole slew of books already had that name, so I knew I needed to come up with something different. I also felt that there was something missing from the story. One day while struggling with revising, I picked up my tarot cards, shuffled my deck, pulled out a card, and it was the Three of Swords. I immediately felt the connection to the main character and knew it was the perfect title. I was able to weave the elements of tarot seamlessly into the story, and had the next two book titles right away. It was meant to be! For me, tarot is a tool to help you tune in and listen to your own intuition which I think we all possess, but often ignore when our minds are cluttered with the noise of everyday life.


Question– I also found that tarot is an excellent tool for meditation and finding mental focus. I can see how it was used for inspiration for your Tarot Trilogy but have you used it for your other writing? Do you find other inspiration for your poetry? Does your writing come to you as images, sounds or words?

J.D.– The Tarot Trilogy is the only piece of work so far that has been directly influenced by the tarot. I am most inspired by words, followed closely by images. I am completely addicted to writing prompts on Twitter because of my fascination with language. I love to see how everyone can use the same words and interpret them in a completely different way. Inspiration can strike at any time triggered by something I see, overhear, or read. To be a writer, I think you have to be a keen observer, and a professional eavesdropper! Sound impacts my writing in another way as I almost always write with my headphones on and music playing. Listening to music helps set the tone for my writing, and tunes out other distractions. I usually listen to the same music if I’m working on something in particular; it’s like a soundtrack to my writing. For example, for Three of Swords I had Mumford and Sons, Ryan Adams and Halsey on shuffle with a little Miguel thrown in for the steamy scenes.


Question– I’ve also made “soundtracks” to listen to when I write. Does the music differ much between writing projects or can you only use those sounds for that one project? As far as writing prompts go, how often do you use them? Do you share what you write from a writing prompt and is it from your current WIP or something new just for the prompt?

  1. D.– I find that each writing project needs a different “soundtrack” because each project will have a different feeling and tone. The music I choose reflects the mood of the story.

Depending on how much time I have, I probably write new poems as a result of a poetry prompts once a week and share those on Twitter, my website, and Tablo. I must give a shout out to @MadQueenStorm, @WrittenRiver, and @fieryverse for posting some fabulous prompts!


I also periodically share from my current WIP on Twitter with #1linewed, #musmon, and #2bitTues.


Question– Besides the tarot influence, is there anything that makes your Tarot Trilogy unique, something to set it apart from other books of its type and make readers flock to it?

J.D.– I think that my book has a unique storyline that develops over the course of the three books. It has been called a true twist on the paranormal which I think is an apt description. It crosses several genres with elements of erotica and paranormal; but above all, at its core, it is really a classic love story which I think everyone can identify with. I also think being a poet, my writing style is a bit different as I am used to distilling ideas down to their essence. My preference to write with an economy of words probably contributed to it being novelette length.

Be sure to check out J.D.’s novel Three of Swords.  It’s only 99 cents on until November 1st.


Meet Unknown Suspense Author Nicole Wilson


This week I want you to meet a fresh, new upcoming author of thrillers and suspense, Nicole Wilson. I learned a lot of interesting things about Nicole from her website, , so if you want to know where some of my questions come from…see for yourself.

Question– I’m not sure how a love for spreadsheets can go hand in hand with a desire to be a writer but you can convince me. I see that you have family support in becoming a writer. Do you think you would still want to be a writer if you didn’t have that support? What would become of Nicole without it?

Nicole–Spreadsheets DEFINITELY go hand in hand with writing! My Excel-loving heart would actually be lost without it. I use it to help me plan out my requirements for each week’s writing goals, and it helps me plot out my stories.

It would be a huge struggle for me if I didn’t have the support of my husband in my writing career. Honestly, I’m not even sure I’d be here today without his encouragement. I’d grown up thinking that writing could be a hobby, but being a full time author was just a pipe dream, and I’ve had some people try to take me away from writing. But my husband saw potential in me, saw how much I loved writing, and told me to go for it. Since he’s also a writer, he helped me along the way. I’ve also had some other family members offer encouragement along the way. Without “author Nicole”, I think my personality would be different. I’ve grown much more open to views that are not my own because I have truly lived inside a character’s head–that’s not me–for a year or so at a time.

Question–Who is “author Nicole” and how is she different from the Nicole you would be without her?

Nicole–Author Nicole has been beautifully woven with regular Nicole, so it’s hard to identify what she does, but she brings a lot of empathy. I’m able to focus into other people’s lives and understand how they feel. It also makes my life more interesting – I’m always on the lookout for how to make a story out of regular circumstances. It’s a lot of fun.

Question–Tell me what project you have been most dedicated to recently and tell us how you plan to share this with the world?

Nicole– I have been busy on three projects. One (The Grudge) is in the editing stage after I got some great feedback from an agent and the pitchwars mentors. One (Captured) is in the early editing stages and is almost ready for beta readers. And the last is my latest WIP (By Blood Alone) that I’m currently about 40K into. It’s about a homicide detective that investigates a serial killer who turns out to be closer than she thought.

All of these will at some point be sent out to agents, so after they get through the agent, editing, and publishing processes, I WILL TAKE OVER THE WORLD. *ahem* I mean, the world will get to see my books. 🙂


Question 4: So your current WIP is a thriller.  Tell us about the two that are in editing stages.  What are they about and are these the typical genres that you are drawn to?

Nicole–The Grudge and Captured are also both thrillers. Thriller is my favorite genre, both to read and write. I love the fast-paced action and the small details about weaponry and combat.

The Grudge is actually intended to be part of a series I’m writing, though each book should stand alone. The only things that carry over are the characters and the central focus on emerging technologies. I love technology. I’ve been in the IT field for seven years, so it holds a special place in my heart, which is why I wanted to write books that included them. Also, everything in my books is actual, existing technology, not science fiction. But I try my hardest to make all the technology very accessible, because I don’t want people who aren’t techy to shy away from it. This book in particular is about a homicide detective who investigates robotic snipers attacking US infrastructure while struggling to lead a new team.

Captured is a standalone book, and it has stretched my writing techniques (in a good way). The two main protagonists are four hundred miles apart, so there is a lot of internal dialogue, rather than dialogue between characters, which I’m used to. But this book is about an Army veteran who runs into his supposedly dead best friend and must stop him before he leads an attack the Peruvian government.

Question–Since you write thrillers, is there a particular author whose style you hope to emulate, like Iris Johansen, J. D. Robb, or Nevada Barr? What future books are there on the horizon from author Nicole?

Nicole–I don’t have a style I try to emulate, but I have a few influences. James Rollins has been the biggest for my series. He writes science thrillers, and my series is heavily based in technology. Lee Child also drove my love of thrillers, and Joseph Finder showed me how ordinary men do extraordinary things.

For future books, I’ve got the synopsis for the third book in my series already drafted. I also have several other ideas for books, but I’m still writing my fourth, so I try not to look too far ahead.

Meet Hot Romance Author Cherie Summers


This week on my blog I’m talking with the romance author Cherie Summers, whose “Love on Fire” series takes us through a romance spanning decades.


Question: I saw on your website, (you  can see it too that you began to make up stories in your head when you were a kid.  Did you ever share your stories?


Cherie–The stories I made up were for the most part locked away in my mind. It may have begun because of my rocky childhood.  Maybe I daydreamed to get away from what the real world was dishing out.


I could read for hours and I also loved television and movies. The stories I created in my mind involved me being on some television show or in a movie. I was the girl, playing Starsky’s girlfriend or Luke Skywalker’s REAL sister and I acted out the screenplays in my mind. I remember clearly in 4th grade being asked to write down what I wanted to be when I grew up and I said a singer (I cannot sing). When the teacher read this out loud, everyone  laughed out loud. I was mortified and it destroyed something in me that thought I could grow up and actually be Starksy’s girlfriend or Luke Skywalker’s REAL sister.  So, I never shared my stories or imaginings with anyone for a long time.


In junior and senior high, my “fan fiction” stories began to turn from actors to musicians But no obsession has matched the one for Billy Idol.  I discovered him when I got MTV for the first time, and have been hooked since.  My first novel, A Melody for Adrian came to me in a dream and I wrote it all down.  I was eighteen at the time and most of the characters were inspired by people I went to high school with and other 80’s music icons.


It amazes me now that “fan fiction” is a thing.  I imagine Billy Idol playing Adrian “Bolt” Hall in a movie of my novel.


Question : I love that your story hints at a fanfiction. If Billy Idol is a dead ringer for Adrian, what other real people do you picture when you think of your characters? Do you adopt their voice and mannerisms as well?

Cherie–In some ways my characters do mimic their more famous muse, but then again, not really, such as….

Keith “Kat” Williams – inspired by John Taylor of Duran Duran.

Anthony “Ringo” Barber – Jon Farriss of INXS.

Douglas “Dagger”Meyers – inspired by Brian Setzer and has the looks.

John “Buzzy” Thomas – inspired by Nick Rhodes of Duran Duran.

I imagine the female lead as a Jessica Simpson type, very down to earth but sexy and curvy.


So I’d say I mostly copy their looks, not mannerisms.  Although Adrian Hall has the sneer, pout, fist pump, swagger, that Billy Idol does as well as the spiked hair and blue eyes.  (When I met Billy, I wasn’t given a lot of time, but let him know he inspired me to write and my first novel was being published).

Me now, this really happened. Photographic proof at top!

Electric Guitar in fire Isolated on Black Background

Question : Since so many of your characters find their origins in the faces of musicians, does music itself play a part in how you create your world? Are there any songs or pieces of music that you find to be creatively influential?


Cherie–Definitely.  For my “Love on Fire” Series, I’m always playing Generation X, the punk rock band Billy Idol fronted back in the late 70’s/early 80’s, as I write.  The songs just capture the youthful exuberance that I see in my characters.  And since it is about a punk rock band, all the more reason it makes sense.  I also listen to Billy’s solo songs as well.

Question: tell us about your “Love on Fire” series. What makes it different from other novels in its genre? What about the plot and its characters make it unique?

Cherie–The “Love on Fire” series will span a few decades.  It begins in 1981 as Melody and Adrian meet as seniors in high school.  In book 3, the year is 1996.  I plan to continue to follow the couple and any offspring they and their friends have for as long as possible.

When I wrote the first book, I looked at it as Melody’s story of falling in love with this badass punk rocker who was completely opposite of her. But as the story grew and changed with rewrites, it really became Adrian’s journey. He has the most emotional baggage from his childhood and all that is confronted over the course of the series.  Melody stays the same wonderful person but she learns to help Adrian through emotionally charged times when his anger gets the better of him. As I finish up with book 3, I’m quite impressed with how he has changed and grown as a man.

For me, even though this is erotic romance and is filled with explicit scenes, the sex only enhances the story, it is not THE story. You do have two people very deeply in love AND lust with one another, but you also have people working toward their dreams and working through their drama. I put these characters through emotional hell and so not only will they bring the heat, but they’ll make you laugh and cry as well.

Question : What have you planned for writing after “Love on Fire”? What are your long term plans? Anything beyond romance?

I want to stay in the romance genre. I have a few partially finished things I started in the past I could move on with.  Romance was always something I loved reading growing up and as an adult.  I think it’s what I’m best suited to write.  It’s funny that my favorite author is Johnathan Kellerman and I love criminal psychology, but I don’t see myself going in that direction at all. While the subject fascinates me it’s not something I plan on writing. But, then again you never know.

(Me again) You can find Cherie’s books on and on her website, Her second novel  A Melody for Adrian, was released recently yesterday on publisher’s site  (eXtasy Books) and is available for pre-order on amazon.

Next week, I’ll be talking with another great author.  Just come back and see.

My first love


I’d like to say that my great love affair with Japanese anime and manga began when I was a kid. That would make sense. You’re supposed to like them then because of cartoons. Maybe I just decided to do things backwards. I started with soap operas as a child. Maybe it makes sense that I would wait until I was by definition a grown up, to find anime.

Okay, okay, minor confession here. My husband, Sam, did try to convert me to them when we dated in college but my instant and complete hatred for Minmei in Robotech had me hold the genre at arms-length.  To this day, I don’t get the point of her singing.

The tipping point occurred several weeks before my wedding to Sam when a friend left us a book of manga. It was the first volume of Ranma ½.

I was understandably stressed out, a state in which I spend a majority of my life. I was getting married. I had to plan all of the little bits and pieces of that. I had just gotten my first real librarian job. In West Virginia.  So we had to move from what was in my opinion, the best apartment ever. So, yeah, lots and lots of stress.

Ranma ½, volume one just sat there on my coffee table, so one day I picked it up and began to read.

It took me a little bit to get used to its brand of storytelling but once I did, I fell absolutely in love.

It’s story is simple. Ranma Saotome is a young martial artist who fell into a cursed spring so that when he gets hit with cold water, her turns into a girl. Hot water returns him to his previous form. The story is touted as a romantic comedy focused around Ranma and his reluctant fiancé, Akane Tendo. There are various obstacles to their union, in the form of romantic rivals, meddling parents and of course stubborn feelings.

Its creator, Rumiko Takahashi is a master of unrequited love. That point in any serialized romance where the boy and the girl get together is the point where we as an audience lose interest. Takahashi has found a way to keep us forever interested in the relationship between Ranma and Akane.

Each story she tells brings us to the edge of a declaration of love and then stops. She showed me that the most delicious part of romance is the anticipation. Strangely enough another thing she showed me was that to be a reliable storyteller you have to be predictable.

Predictability is comforting. I always know that no matter where the story is going to go, it will end up where it’s supposed to be. Ranma and Akane will always love each other.  They will never say it but one will always be there for the other. No matter what. That’s what you need when your own world is in chaos and it’s just what I needed at that point in time.

When you find something that you need at just the point when you need it, it makes an impression on you. That’s what Ranma ½ did for me then and it opened my mind for other anime.

While Ranma ½ brought me predictability and the perfect unrequited love, other stories have brought strong themes not expressed as well in Western styled stories, unique characters, overcoming inner demons and the strength of familial bonds.

As I continue to discuss the effect of anime of the next few weeks, I’ll show more stories that have gotten to me just as much as Ranma ½.



When I had planned what to put in my blog this week, I thought about talking about my long term love affair with anime. Unfortunately, life has a way of throwing a monkey wrench into small plans. Sometimes more than one.  My first monkey wrench happened at my day job. I work as a cataloguer at a public library. Two of my faithful staff are retiring and I have to begin the process of hiring their replacements.

Replacements. Sometimes, that word is not the best but it has been a recurring theme in my life lately. That brings me to my second monkey wrench and the general subject of my blog this week. The publisher, RRPI,  that I had signed with to publish my novel, Executioner’s Road has decided to close.  My book, a short story that was to appear in their anthology, as well as three in progress projects, all reverted back to me. Apparently, I have more that needs to be replaced.

As I looked at my current situation, I wasn’t as thrown as I could have been. Instead of crying, I just sort of sighed and made plans to participate in the next twitter pitch party to find a replacement publisher. I kept thinking of that stupid platitude “when one door closes, another opens”. Except I kept thinking it was a window that opened. Whatever. I’m going to be fine. The only thing that I lost to this venture was time.

What I didn’t understand was that I had fared better than others. When RRPI closed down, they closed everything. Their website is closed, their contests cancelled and the books that they represented on amazon had their links shut down. Kayla Krantz, author of Dead by Morning, whom I interviewed here not that long ago, lost her book’s ranking as well as some very good reviews. She had to resort to putting her old (and I assume self-published) listing, just to keep selling. Look everyone, another replacement.

Hearing about how this event had effected a gifted author, I had to do what I could and it was relatively simple.  I installed kindle on my phone and bought her book. It was only $2 and what’s $2 when you’re helping a friend. Now, I’ll be the first to tell you that I don’t care for ebooks and it takes a lot to get me hooked but to my surprise, I got hooked and quickly. Knowing what I know from interviewing Kayla, I’m anxious to see what’s going to happen and see how this story takes shape. I’m reading her book and enjoying it and when I finish, I will leave her a review. That is all any author asks. That’s all we want and honestly, I think that’s all we need. I mean, that’s why I write fanfiction, for people to read my work and tell me about it.

Of course, selling millions of copies of our work and becoming rich and famous would be a major destination in our lives but right now, it’s about the journey. Right?

Let’s be honest, small publishers don’t have healthy life expectancies. It’s easy to blame them for building up our hopes, but you can’t say that they duped us without recognizing that they duped themselves. They had hopes too and I believe that they lost a whole more than I did in this process.  I’m going to bounce back and so will Kayla Krantz, Julie Burns, Kade Cook, Terra Beilman and Jason Pere.  RRPI is gone.  They aren’t bouncing back from this one.

Below are links so that you can support these wonderful creators.

Kayla Krantz :  to buy her book  to follow her on twitter

And remember, her book is nominated #SIBA, the Summer #IndieBookAwards  If you want to vote for it click here

Julie Burns

Kade Cook

Terra Beilman

Jason Pere

Next week, I’ll finally get to talk about anime and then I’m going back to interviewing some wonderful authors.