I Like Mike

From Antananarivo, Madagascar
To Stockholm, Sweden,
There’s no rhymester better
Than the poet Mike Steeden.

His lovely wife Shirley
Is his best friend and muse;
She’s also on his book’s cover –
Now that’s exciting news!

The humor in his book
Will truly make you convulse;
So go pick up a copy of
Gentlemen Prefer a Pulse!

Not only is it amusing, but
Its brilliance will make you think;
To purchase it, just click below
On the Internet hyperlink.

I got to help Mike with his cover
And formatting for publication;
It was so much fun, I wish I could
Make that my life’s vocation.

It’s a good gift for the holidays,
And looks great in gift wrap;
And I promise you it’s far better
Than this, my own rhyming crap.

(As promised, here’s that internet hyperlink: http://www.amazon.com/Gentlemen-Prefer-Pulse-Poetry-Lunacy/dp/1517436478/ref=la_B015WAUW8C_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1446143038&sr=1-1)

Okay, so as the poem said, I was honored to recently assist my buddy and yours, Mike Steeden, in getting his first book of poetry, Gentlemen Prefer a Pulse, published.  It comes in both Kindle and paperback versions, and features over one hundred magnificent poems by his highness, Sir Mike.  As you can imagine, the poems are not unlike those on his blog… filed with brilliance, lunacy, humor, wit, and WOW!

Of course, Mike did all the really hard work by writing it, but I contributed a teeny-tiny bit by designing the cover and formatting the paperback version.  We searched high and low for a photo that I could manipulate for the cover art, but when we selected the perfect photo, we couldn’t authenticate its owner to request permission to use it.  (A few sources said it was a French postcard circa 1920, but we couldn’t be sure.)  So finally, Mike was able to dig up a photo of his lovely wife, Shirley, taken on the Cob at Lyme Regis (the same spot they used in the film The French Lieutenant’s Woman).

Gentlemen Prefer a Pulse

When I saw this, I fell in love with the scene, and just knew it would be perfect.  So I did a little Photoshop magic, and voila!

Gentlemen Prefer a Pulse

So to conclude, GO BUY THE BOOK!  (You won’t regret it.)

On Editing


A while back, I posted a call to all writers who wanted to share their editing tips, and Rhonda Blackhurst volunteered.  If you don’t already follow Rhonda’s blog, you’re missing a real treat.  So without further ado, here’s Rhonda:


Rhonda Blackhurst

Please share one to three tips or tricks that you use when editing your work, how specifically you use them, and why they work for you.

Putting some time between each edit allows me to see more clearly what works and what doesn’t, making each edit more effective. While extra time between edits takes longer to complete the project, that space between edits allows time to work on other ongoing projects, actually making me more productive. After the first draft is written and the manuscript has been tucked in a drawer for a couple of weeks, I like to read through the entire manuscript in as few sittings, and closely together, as possible. During that first complete read through I don’t make any changes, but rather I have a coding system where I jot down in the margins of what needs to be changed and how. For example areas that don’t make sense, where the plot seems to be dragging, inconsistencies in character development, plot or details, if more needs to be explained or areas need to be cut, etc. After tucking the manuscript away for a couple of weeks once again, I then begin the major overhaul, followed by another break from the manuscript and the final finishing touches.

When I get to the editing phase of the project I’m working on now, a novel titled Finding Abby, I’m eager to try an editing process I stumbled across in a writing magazine. Each read through will be spent on one specific area of editing, starting with the biggest issues of plot and character, and ending with the proofreading and glitter. That will allow my brain to focus on one thing throughout the run through with less likelihood of missing something. I’ve learned multitasking a project isn’t the most effective way to edit.

The InheritanceWhat was your biggest repeated mistake when you first started writing? What is your weakest point of editing and why?

My biggest mistake of writing was simply not writing. I would wait for huge chunks of time where I could devote purely to putting words on the page, which resulted in no words on the page. I’ve learned to grab every fifteen minute increment I can and work with it accordingly. Lots of time? Work on my novel. Short amount of time? Work on a character sketch, plot ideas, etc.

As for the weakest point of my editing, I think editing is always a work in progress. The more I read what works for others, the more I find what works for me. Ideas like the one Rachel has here are golden learning opportunities for writers.

Shear MadnessPlease tell us something about your current work in progress or your most recent completed work (or both), and tell us where we can purchase your book(s).

My last book, Shear Madness, is the first in a series. I love a good mystery, so writing one was the most amazing journey! The first draft of the second book in the series, Shear Deception, is completed and awaiting the editing process which I will start after I’ve completed the first draft of the novel I’m working on now, Finding Abby. My current work in progress is a complete makeover of a Camp NaNo project from last year. As much as I enjoyed writing it, when I read through it back then, it just didn’t do anything for me so I filed it away (electronically) and forgot about it. One day when I was running I was hit with an idea of what I wanted to do with it. And that was to make it another series. While I’m working with the same “general” idea, the setting, characters, and plot have changed drastically. And I’m loving it! My first book, The Inheritance, and Shear Madness are both available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. The Inheritance is also available at Old Firehouse Books in Ft. Collins, CO.

If you have any other news to share with us, please feel free to do so now.

This fall is bringing some fun writerly activities. (I’ve made the word “writerly” a legit part of my vocabulary. ) September 5th I have a book signing at the local bookstore. My postcards and flyers arrived today and my personalized pens arrive next week. September 11-13 I’m attending a writer’s conference. Though it’s not far from my home, I’m staying at a hotel to take full advantage of the evening hours to practice all the gems I’ll have learned during the sessions. (Or to crash from brain overload from all the gems I’ll have learned.) Then there are the new books to read on the craft. I’m a sponge when it comes to learning the craft. Nearly every page I read gets marked with highlighter or pen. And last, two fall vacations, one in Minnesota and one in the mountains (well, the one in the mountains is actually a conference for work, but it’s in an amazing, breathtaking part of Colorado, tucked in the mountains) with lots of time for writing and editing.


WOW!  Rhonda really has her writing game on, doesn’t she?  Thank you, Rhonda, for such awesome tips!  Now, who’s up next?  If you’re game, please contact me at:


Lucky YOU!

Hi, friends,

Some of you may have noticed that I’ve been M.I.A. lately, but that doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten about you…  It’s just that the day job has me burning the candle at both ends and the middle at the moment.

However, despite my hectic schedule, I couldn’t resist sharing the coolest deal with you!  My friend (and yours), Craig Boyack, has done it again!  Yes, he’s published a collection of short stories and micro-fiction entitled The Experimental Notebook of C. S. Boyack.”

The Experimental Notebook of C. S. Boyack

(And not to break my arm patting myself on the back, but, yes, I did design the cover from scratch!  I’ll blog more about that as soon as I’m back to Bloggyville full time.)

Now, the really cool thing is not only that Craig’s stories are so awesome, but so is the price!  Just click that Amazon link above, and you’ll get a dozen or so stories for only 99¢!  Yes, you read right… Twelve different stories by a talented writer will cost less than one dollar!  That means that each story costs only 8¼¢!  And if it takes you sixteen and a half minutes to read each story, that means you’re paying only a half a cent per minute for pure entertainment pleasure!

If you have small children, you know that even a Little Golden Book can cost upward of $7 these days, and I promise every one of Craig’s stories are much better than The Little Engine That Could.

So what are you waiting for?  Hurry on over to Amazon and snag a copy of “The Experimental Notebook of C. S. Boyack” before Craig realizes he’s priced these too low!  I’ll see ya soon!


On Editing

A while back, I posted a call to all writers who wanted to share their editing tips, and Drew Conry-Murray stepped up to bat.  If you don’t already follow Drew’s blog, you’re missing a real treat.  So without further ado, here’s Drew:


Thanks to Rachel for offering her blog page to other writers. I’m looking forward to learning some useful editing tips from my fellow scribes. Here’s a few that work for me.

1. Walk Away
When I write, I often find a gap between what I meant to say, and what I actually wrote down. It’s as if there’s a narrator in my head who provides context or assumptions that don’t always make it onto the page.

You can’t stand over a reader’s shoulder and provide that internal narrative as they read, so the best way I’ve found to close this gap is to walk away from a piece for a time.

Then, when you come back to it with a cold eye, it’s easier to see the places where the words don’t match your intentions.

For short blogs, I find even a few minutes away from the screen helpful. For longer pieces and fiction, I put more distance between edits—days or even weeks if possible.

2. Read Aloud
When I read to my kids at night, I know I’m in the hands of a good writer when the words flow smoothly and gracefully out of my mouth, even if it’s the first time I’ve read the book.

I decided to try reading my own work aloud (just to myself). It was a useful exercise because I found a lot of rough patches and clunky language. Reading aloud also forces you to slow down and pay closer attention compared to silent reading. The slower, more attentive pace makes it easier to find passages that need more work.

3. Paper Edit
I like to do a paper edit for short stories and novels. Once I have a rough draft I’m satisfied with, I’ll print a copy of the work, and then sit somewhere comfortable with a pen and go at it.

Something happens when words on a screen become words on paper. There’s a freshness and clarity with paper—and perhaps an element of seriousness—that pixels lack. Mistakes that I missed dozens of times on the screen leap forward in print.

Biggest Repeated Mistake
I think my biggest mistake was believing that the main character had to be noble and upright, as if I were writing a book of moral instruction. Messy, complicated people are more interesting.

Weakest Point of Editing
I think my weakest point of editing is that I’ll speed through sections of the work because I’ve seen it so many times. Instead of reading carefully, I just skim.

Work in Progress
I’m currently querying agents for a novel called Atlantis Rising. Set in 1887, it’s a paranormal thriller about the search for the lost kingdom of Atlantis. I also posted a short story, Crypto, on the free story site Wattpad [https://www.wattpad.com/story/37422090-crypto]. My novel Wasteland Blues [http://www.amazon.com/Wasteland-Blues-Scott-Christian-Carr/dp/1935738593/], a mad quest through a post-apocalyptic world, is available in print or as an ebook.

My blog is http://andrewconry-murray.com/ and you can follow me on Twitter at @DrewConryMurray

Thanks for the opportunity to contribute to your blog, Rachel!


Thank you, Drew, for such awesome tips!  Now, who’s up next?  If you’re game, please contact me at:

On Editing

Tap, tap, tap.  (Tapping my microphone.)  Is this thing on? 

Well, folks, I thought I’d have a nice little Tuesday segment during the summer that all of us writers could participate in and share and enjoy, but I can’t get anyone else to play along.  Don’t YOU want to share some of your editing tips and tricks with us here?  In exchange for your participation, you’ll get a shameless plug for your book(s) as well as a heartfelt thank you from many of my followers.

Too many of you seem to think that you don’t do anything special or you don’t know anything that everyone else doesn’t know.  But that’s not necessarily true.  We all do things a little differently, and we want to hear from YOU.  What do you say?

If you’d like to play along, please email your responses to the following questions to my email address below, and include any photos and/or links of you and your blog and your work so we can purchase it.

  1. Please share one to three tips or tricks that you use when editing your work, how specifically you use them, and why they work for you.
  1. What was your biggest repeated mistake when you first started writing? What’s your weakest point of editing and why?
  1. Have you used any editing methods previously that just didn’t work for you? If so, what were they, and why didn’t they work?
  1. Please tell us something about your current work in progress or your most recent completed work (or both), and tell us where we can purchase your book(s).
  1. If you have any other news to share with us, please feel free to do so now.

On Editing

A while back, I posted a call to all writers who wanted to share their editing tips, and the first to take me up on my offer was my good friend and blogging brother, Craig, known to many as C.S. Boyack.  If you don’t already follow Craig’s blog, you’re missing a real treat.  And if you haven’t read any of his books yet, you don’t know what you’re missing.  (And I’m not just saying that because I got to design the cover to his most recent outstanding publication, Will O’ the Wisp.)  So without further ado, here’s Craig:


Rachel invited me over today to post about editing. (Like I know anything about it!) I’m fumbling along, learning as I go.

I’ve learned a few things along the way, and I’m willing to share these bits. I do my own editing for financial reasons. I know many of you will think I’m insane, but it boils down to simple arithmetic. Write a book, slap a $200 cover on it – sell 40 copies at $2.00 each.

I’d love nothing more than an editor, but rely upon my critique group and beta readers. It’s also forced me to learn some things. So here we go:

Pick names with a purpose. If you name a character Theophylaktos, like I did, you have to spell it correctly throughout the entire novel. You can bet he became Theo to his friends within about two paragraphs.

Google all your character names. Make sure your cool character named Sam Spade hasn’t been used in something more famous than you’ll ever be.

Use the word search function on your word processor. Search all of your character names and make sure you have them spelled right. An advance reader of mine once pointed out that Detective Groves became Detective Graves about halfway through the story.

I keep a living document for edits. My list of word searches includes standards like; its & it’s, there, their, & they’re. I write speculative fiction and include rein, reign, & rain in the list.

I also search for filtering words like:

  • See
  • Touch
  • Watch
  • Feel
  • Hear
  • Wonder
  • Seem
  • Think
  • Realize
  • Decide

These words tend to increase the distance between the reader and the character. I’m giving stage directions that aren’t necessary. Remember to catch them in other tenses too, e.g. watched, thought.

I try to eliminate all the weak verbs. These are usually two word verbs that could be better: had walked = walked, did say = said. Remember they can hide in contractions too: she’d eaten, he’d yelled.

I kill all my personal sin words too. I keep a list of them: just, very, that, and though. Your sin words may be different, make a list and search them out.

‘Was’ is also on my hit list. It moves things along, but it kills reader buy in. “Mary was pretty” is nice but it doesn’t give the reader the same feeling as, “Mary’s raven locks stood in sharp contrast to her alabaster skin.”

The other trick is to add the words ‘by zombies’ to the end of a sentence. If the sentence still makes sense, it is passive writing. For example, “The potato soup was made that morning”… By zombies. How about, “Dave made the potato soup before unlocking the restaurant.”

I’m sure there are hundreds of things I don’t know. This is supposed to be an ongoing series, and I’ll let others weigh in. I have more, but I’ll only offer one:

Change your pitch, font, and color before rereading your book. 12 point Courier, in black, is probably how your wrote it in the first place. Try something else and it will make mistakes stand out a tiny bit.

I’d like to thank Rachel for inviting me over today. (I’d like to, but editing – seriously?) Editing is one of the least fun parts of the writing process for me. It’s important, no doubt, and I applaud Rachel for creating a repository for this kind of information. Now somebody else take her up on this so I can up my game.


Thank you, Craig, for such awesome insights!  (By the way, who here didn’t love the brilliant “by zombies” tip?)  Now, who’s up next?  If you’re game, please contact me at:

Happy Birthday, Paul Reiser!

You might remember the actor Paul Reiser from his days as a stand-up comic, or on the big screen in Beverly Hills Cop I and II, or on the television show My Two Dads.  But my favorite role of his was as Paul Buchman when he played opposite of Helen Hunt as his wife Jamie Buchman on Mad About You.  You might even remember him in all these things, but did you know that Paul Reiser is also an author?

That’s right!  Paul wrote Couplehood back in 1995 when he and his wife Paula had been married only seven years.  (It was New York Times best seller for 40 weeks!)  Couplehood is unique in that it actually starts on page 145 to allow the readers to have a sense of accomplishment.

He wrote Babyhood in 1998 about his experiences as a first-time father to their first child Ezra born three years earlier.

He wrote Familyhood in 2011, eleven years after their family expanded to include his second son, Leon. Familyhood is a collection of humorous essays about family life.

And in 2014, he penned How to Get to Carnegie Hall.  In this book, he recalls his encounters with numerous legendary Hollywood greats who gave him advice on his way up the ladder to success.

His books are hilarious and are reminiscent of his character in Mad About You, which he intended to be modeled after himself.  If you ever get an opportunity to watch it, check out my very favorite episode entitled “Two Tickets to Paradise.”  If you’ve never seen the show, I encourage you to watch… and be ready to laugh!  Hard!

Let’s Talk:  Have you ever seen the show Mad About You?  Have you ever read any of Paul Reiser’s books?  When your favorite actors and actresses write books, do you read them?

The Secret’s Out!

So you’ve all heard me talk about my good friend and blogging brother, Craig Boyack, before.  Craig is an awesome writer, and when he named his blog “Entertaining Stories,” I wonder if he knew just how right on the money that name would be.

Well, Craig and I have been sharing a secret that I’ve been dying to let out of the bag!  Now if your mind is in the gutter, get it out.  It’s not that kind of secret!  This secret has to do with an edge-of-your-seat story that Craig wrote called Will O’ the Wisp.

A few months ago, Craig graciously allowed me to beta read for him.  At the time, I really didn’t know that a will o’ the wisp was an actual thing, but rather, I thought it was a term he made up himself.  Knowing how much I love working with Photoshop, around the same time he sent me the book to read, he also asked if I wanted to design the cover.  He didn’t have to ask me twice!

So he told me he wanted a dark forest with a shallow creek, a will o’ the wisp, and certain hardwood trees with autumn leaves.  He also wanted a simple font that could be read easily as a thumbnail.  Being as I’m a professional photographer, I was planning to alter a photograph to make this cover.  The only problem was that we don’t get autumn colors here in Florida.  I immediately put in some calls to all my photographer friends to the north of me, but sadly, they all reported back that their leaves had already fallen, and their trees were bare.

My next problem was that I really didn’t know what feel the image should have until I read the story.  So late that evening, I started reading.  I actually don’t think I ever made it to sleep that night because the book was that good!  Seriously, once I got started, it sucked me in right away, and I couldn’t have put it down if I’d wanted to.

The story is written in first person which I don’t usually care for, but in this case, it really worked, and I loved it.  In fact, once you read the story, I think you’ll agree that Craig made the best choice in this, his first time venture in writing first person.  It’s set in 1975, and features a teenage girl named Patty and her best friends, Laura and Pete, who help her solve a family mystery.  There’s a lot of action and adventure, as well as goosebump moments that leave you on the edge of your seat.  I don’t know how much Craig will allow me to share with you here, but let’s just say The Wonder Years meets The Exorcist, and it leaves you wanting more.  Seriously, the only complaint I had with Craig over this book is that he hasn’t already written a sequel!

So by the next day, after a good long nap and a shower, I clearly envisioned the cover I knew Craig wanted.  I scoured the internet and found the perfect photo which was taken by another blogger (who we didn’t know) who is a fisherman and actually took this on one of his fishing expeditions.  Craig contacted him, and he was happy to allow us to use his photo for the book.  The only problem was, the photo had no autumn leaves, it was the wrong size and shape, and it was taken during the daytime.  But for me, that challenge was the fun part.

What I did to the original daytime photo was as follows:  I flipped it to make the stream go in the other direction; I made it vertical instead of horizontal without cropping any important elements; I removed some stones from the creek bed; I burned the edges and darkened the sky to make it look more like nighttime; I added fog to make it look eerie; I took moss off of some of the stones; I removed some boulders from the ground; I changed the green leaves to have some autumn colors; I added some autumn leaves to the ground to cover the dead, brown leaves that were there previously; of course I added a will o’ the wisp and the title and author name; and I added a subtle “cracked” overlay to the words to add to the feel of  spookiness.

Anyway, while I don’t know if I did the story justice, I sure had fun helping Craig with this project.  I do happen to know that Will O’ the Wisp will be published and on sale very soon.  So please hop on over to Craig’s Blog and ask him how you can pick up a copy.  (And if you need a cover for your book and would like my help, feel free to contact me.)

“Will O’ the Wisp” by C.S. Boyack

Tropical Fish and the Greek Alphabet

Tropical fish and the Greek alphabet aren’t the only categories that include betas.  “What else?” you ask…  Beta readers, of course!

As writers, we need to enlist the help of beta readers to identify any potential problems before we unleash our story on the world.  For the months (or years) that we spend writing, we hear from others just how creative we are and what a cool idea our current work is progress is.  But when we ask for beta readers, we hear crickets.

Oftentimes, people really don’t have the time to commit to reading a book.  But for many people, I believe the reason they don’t volunteer is because they have no clue what is expected of them.  So for those people, I offer this post.

A beta reader is essentially a test pilot (or unfortunately sometimes a crash dummy).  As a beta reader, you are not expected to be a grammar or punctuation specialist.  That is a job for the proofreader and should have been done before the book made its way to you.  That being said, if you do happen to find any grammar or punctuation errors, I’m sure the author would love to know.  (Last year, I beta read for an author friend who wrote a chapter book for the 9 to 12 age group.  He sent a specific list of questions and specifically told me that I was not to look for any errors under any circumstances, as those were already addressed and he would not be making additional changes.  However, despite his instructions, when I found the word “heal” instead of “heel” as it referred to a person’s foot, I told him anyway… And he was grateful.)

Beta readers are good way for the author to learn if the story makes sense and is able to be followed without difficulty.  They let the author know if certain characters are weak or if the dialog sounds forced.  They identify if the story is interesting and if the descriptions paint a vivid picture.  Some questions an author might ask a beta reader are as follows:

  1. Did the book hold your interest from the very beginning? If not, why not?
  2. Did the style of writing appeal to you? Why or why not?
  3. Are there any parts that should be condensed or even deleted?
  4. Were there parts where you wanted to skip ahead or stop reading?
  5. Could you relate to the main character? Were you able to put yourself in her shoes?
  6. Did any characters need more development? Which ones and why?
  7. Is there anything that might have made any of the characters more interesting or three-dimensional?
  8. Were there too many characters or too few? Were any of their names too similar?
  9. Was there enough conflict and suspense to keep your interest?
  10. Did you feel that the story started to lag at any point? Where?
  11. Were you ever confused at any point? If so, were your questions soon answered?
  12. Did you notice any discrepancies or inconsistencies in timeframes, locations, characters’ histories, or any other details?
  13. Did the dialogue sound natural? If not, was a particular character’s dialogue worse than others’?
  14. Was there too much description or explanation, or not enough?
  15. Was there too much backstory or too many flashbacks? Could any of it be deleted and still make sense?
  16. At any point, did the story feel rushed? Did any part of it drag on too long?
  17. Were you able to accurately predict the end before you got to the end?
  18. Were you satisfied with the end? Was the end believable?
  19. Was this book too long or too short?
  20. If this book was published, would you recommend it to others? Would you read anything else by this author?

Many of those questions may not even be applicable to certain stories.  It’s certainly not supposed to feel like a homework assignment or create more work for the beta reader, but it should identify any specific potential problems to the author that they can address before they either seek a literary agent or self-publish.

Another reason people may not be beating down a writer’s door to volunteer to be a beta reader is that they’re afraid to criticize the author’s work.  Friends, I guarantee that a good writer would appreciate your well-meant constructive criticism a lot more than they’d appreciate a yes-man who gives only false compliments.  You don’t have to feel like those two angry judges on The Muppet Show when you offer your suggestions.

So there you have it.  YOU may very well be the difference between just another book and the next New York Times Bestseller.  Your efforts will probably be recognized in the book’s Acknowledgements.  You’ll likely get a free copy of the finished book, and maybe even an autographed first edition.  And your writer friend will value you more than you know.

Time to talk:  Have you ever specifically been asked to be a beta reader for a friend?  Did you accept the challenge?  If so, were you honest with your critique, or did you whitewash it?  If you’re a writer, do you rely only on friends and family to beta read for you, or have you ever asked strangers?

My Friend, Craig Boyack…

When I started blogging here, I never dreamed I’d meet so many wonderful and fascinating people.  So many of you make me smile each day with your comments.  One man in particular always makes me happy.  (You might remember him from a previous interview.)  When he blogs, he often interacts with characters from his books, and he allows us to see not only a snapshot of his writing style, but he also cleverly makes us want to know more about these endearing characters.

For years, Craig imagined, told, and wrote stories.  Finally, in 2014, he decided to jump into the self-publishing pool and share some of his talent with the world. He published four of his previously written stories over the course of the year while he worked on writing some new ones.  I’ll let him tell you about what he published last year.  Craig?

*     *     *

Thanks, Rachel.  Craig here.  It’s good to be back.  I’d love to share a bit about my work:

Wild Concept is the story of an experimental robot. Lisa was designed to show off corporate superiority, and was programmed with emotional response software. She winds up placed with the local police department to help solve a murder. The end of the experiment involves her being disassembled and studied to perfect a commercial version of robot. Lisa decides to make a run for it, rather than be destroyed. This story explores prejudices and what it really means to be human.

Wild Concept can be purchased here:

Panama is a paranormal romp set during the building of the canal. President Roosevelt knows Ethan can talk to ghosts, and that Coop dabbles in magic. Roosevelt sends them to Panama to investigate some mysterious disappearances. The boys discover a demon army under control of a Carlist rebel, bent on recovering Spain’s lost colonies.

Panama can be purchased here:

Arson is the story of Perry Wolfe, an elite firefighter who works in space. Big insurance is the villain here. Perry has a minor accident that ends his career. While trying to rebuild his career, his sister is murdered. He travels off planet to train as a federal arson investigator with ATF. It is there that he discovers some unusual ties to his sister’s murder. He tries his best, but discovers something else he needs along the journey.

Arson can be purchased here:

Which brings us to The Cock of the South. This was a pile of loose notes and electronic pages at the beginning of 2013. I’m counting it as one of the older stories, even though it wasn’t finished.

I always challenge myself with each new story. The challenge in Wild Concept was to write a non-human protagonist. Panama challenged me to write a buddy story with two main characters. The challenge in Arson was to explore a main character’s downward spiral. These challenges won’t matter to readers, but writers might find them interesting. The personal challenge in The Cock of the South was to use fairytale story structure.

The Cock of the South is a fantasy set during Greco-Roman times. It involves a group of non-humans, who are all on the verge of extinction, banding together to carve out a place they can survive.

The main character is Cobby, a Southern Dwarf who was raised by humans. At the beginning of the story, he assumes he is just a short, broad human. When his comfortable world collapses he learns the truth. His “father” killed his real family and claimed Cobby as a prize of war.

Cobby makes a great character for readers to learn about this special world, because he is just learning about it himself. The world is a much bigger place than Cobby realizes, and there are more problems than just attending religious festivals or selling his wares at the market.

This story is a scoop of Exodus, with spices of King Arthur, hang together or hang separately, and finding the lost city. It’s all set in a Greco-Roman environment and I really enjoyed writing it.

The Cock of the South can be bloody and brutal in places. Fairytale structure isn’t necessarily for kids.

It’s important to me to stay true to my genre. A fantasy ought to have something fantastic in it. This story includes special people like centaurs, a minor goddess, and a touch of magic.

I strive to create memorable characters in my stories, and went out of my way to include some strong female characters. Many women like the fantasy genre, and the female characters ought to do more than cook, get rescued, or bind wounds.

I hope readers will take a chance on this story. I had a lot of fun with it, and I think you will too.

The Cock of the South can be purchased here:

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Hi, friends.  It’s Rachel again.  I appreciate Craig stopping by to share some of his work with us.  But what he didn’t mention was his upcoming novel Will O’ the Wisp.  Actually, I was among the lucky few to receive an advance reading copy of Will O’ the Wisp, and I have to say, it’s fantastic!  In fact, I’ll not only highly recommend it when it comes out, but I am hopeful that Craig will actually write a sequel.  Yes, it’s that good!

And there you have it, friends.  Doesn’t Craig’s work sound fascinating?  (And besides being an awesome writer, he’s also a really nice guy.)  If you don’t know him already, please hop on over to his blog and introduce yourself.  And be sure to tell him Rachel sent ya.