Tag Archives: writing

Been Awhile…

…with no real excuse, but I have been busy.

Since SoonerCon, I have attended three shows,  released two books, and signed several contracts.

Book Two of The Conn-Mann Chronicles is now available. The Nearly Notorious Nun is on Kindle and in paperback on Amazon.

I also have a new poetry chapbook, Overheard in Hell, which is also available on Amazon.

October will be a busy month too. I have two major releases the week of the 23rd. Killing It Softly, available now for pre-order, and my second Steampunk anthology for Mocha Memoirs, Ghosts, Gears, and Grimoires will also debut that week. This was fun to put together. It is horror with a Steampunk twist.

Coming up, more Conn-Mann is with the beta-readers, and I will be writing Book Four for NaNoWriMo, as the first three have been. What it will be, is still in question…I thought I knew…but I have been rethinking what I was planning.

I am also working on several other projects, but who knows when they will be finished. 😉

Getting the Most from Your Promotional Dollar: Part 1– Writing Implements

As writers, we soon learn that as hard as the actual writing seems to be at times, it is the easy part. Once you finish the manuscript, find a publisher–or decide to go it alone–and have the final product in your hands, THEN the hard part really begins.

You have to promote the book.

Promotion is by far the hardest, and potentially most expensive part of the writing process. It is easy to get caught up in the excitement of a new book and go hog-wild trying to get the word out.

That enthusiasm can lead to this:


That’s not all the promo stuff I have…and haven’t used.

I get great ideas. I get caught up in the moment. I am SURE I have found the next best thing that will make my books fly off the shelves. But let’s examine some of these things in more detail:


See that bottom box? It is 2/3’s full of pens like this:


The pen says in total:

Visit Rie Sheridan’s website
Come share the fantasy!


Nice sentiment…though you can’t read it all at once. And…I bought those pens in…2002 maybe? What are the chances that they still all write?

Most of my recent work is Steampunk or horror. It isn’t that I don’t HAVE fantasy, but most of my canon can’t be effectively promoted that way.

A more useful promotional device would just have the first two lines.

Are these pens still useful? Maybe, but if I put them out, it should be after checking EACH one to make sure it still writes. What a time sink!

Three lessons learned here:

    1. Buy the smallest quantity you think you might use. Sure, you might get a price break if you buy 1000 pens. But if you still have them almost 15 years later, you bought too many.
    2. USE the promo items you buy. You don’t have to be sold on your work. OTHER people do. So don’t keep them hanging around.
    3. Be generic in your message if you are a multi-tasking author. Don’t pigeon-hole your work.


It gets worse when you get fancier with the pens. The Highlighter pens aren’t quite that old, but I doubt that all the highlighters still work, and the batteries for the flashlights go dead VERY quickly. If you aren’t going to use something like that almost immediately, there isn’t any point in them.

Of all the types of pens to buy, I recommend the plain stick pens. People will almost always pick up a pen–you can never have too many pens. A simple stick pen, or one of the plain click pens like my friend Kathryn Sullivan uses will keep your message in front of people on a daily basis.


I use Kathy’s pens all the time. They write well and have a good ink.

For my Steampunk series, The Conn-Mann Chronicles, I decided to go even more old school, because it fits the period (1874). My promo for Jo and her friends is classic and practically indestructible. They will have an unlimited shelf-life…as long as the series does well.


But, can anyone spot the flaw I just saw?

These are a great, long-lasting promotional item…that promotes the main website and not the series specific one that now exists, but didn’t when they were ordered… Ah, well.

When you are looking for writing utensils as promo items–and these are always a practical choice, as long as you keep the number down, because you can always use them around the house if nothing else…here are some websites to consider:

National Pen — this is where I got the stick pens.

Oriental Trading Company — great for pencils.

4imprint — where I got the Conn-Mann pencils.

All of these sites have other items available besides writing implements. We will get into the paper products next week. 🙂




What Do I Talk About Now…?


The end of the insanity has left me a bit at odds. Yes, some days it was almost impossible to come up with a submission. But in the end, it always worked out, and I did it.

There were For the Love submissions, like the Haiku Universe offerings. (Great place to submit, by the way–even better place for your daily haiku fix.)

There were the “for the long haul” royalty submissions to Horrified Press.

Several flat fee submissions, like “Leaving the Tower” in Hides the Dark Tower.

My first editing foray into the world of anthologies with Avast Ye Airships!

Branching out on my songwriting with a sale to GriffinEd.

It was a great year.

But now, it is over. And I am a little at a loss for direction. It isn’t as if I don’t have many project irons in the fire… (Did you see the call for my next anthology Ghosts, Gears, and Grimoires?)

Still, I am feeling a little lost. My house is getting more organized. I actually cooked dinner the other night. I am trying to walk 30 minutes a day. But missing that extra frenzied urgency is weird…

Ah well, I am sure I will find some sort of mischief to get up to. 😉

Ending and Beginning: The State of the Resolution Address

Those of you who read this blog regularly (Thank you!) have been following my saga of submittals for the past year. Some days, we weren’t any of us sure that I could meet my goal–but I did. Over 400 submissions for 2015. At least one a day. Those submissions ranged from haikus to a novel. Some were submitted multiple times before they found a home–I never said it would be a new submission every day–but most of them did eventually find their niche.

Total Stats:

Month Rejected Accepted Subs
Jan 11 7 33
Feb 9 3 29
Mar 20 23 39
Apr 13 11 32
May 17 15 38
Jun 20 13 31
Jul 16 18 38
Aug 20 19 37
Sep 17 9 30
Oct 13 19 34
Nov 11 16 30
Dec 14 3 32
Total 181 156 403


It took some searching to find numbers I had missed posting to the proper columns, but this now works out correctly, with 66 subs still out and not finalized carried over to the 2016 page for follow-ups in the coming week.

I don’t know if you are impressed, but I am…lol.


It was exhausting. And, though i saw an uptick in the income page, not particularly profitable. My greatest income by far came from CD royalties and editing.

This year, my husband has provided me with a new goal–$5,000 income. Steep, but I am now of the opinion that if I try hard enough, i can do anything. 🙂

I will be cutting my submission goal to one a week, so I can concentrate on writing more polished pieces of greater length for markets that stretch me as a writer. (I won’t neglect my favorites, but that is the official goal.)

I will consider taking on more freelance work, and doing more paid editing.

Plus, I am in the process of re-releasing my Conn-Mann Chronicles books, and finalizing guidelines for a new Steampunk anthology with Mocha Memoirs.

The year ahead should be exciting, and busy, but not as terrifying as trying to come up with that sub for the day. 😉

I Find This Fascinating…

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I promised more pictures from Galveston, but this struck me as something I wanted to talk about more. After all, the pictures will still be here next week, or the week after…

So, last Saturday, there was a special showing of Mary Poppins on TV. I recorded it and watched it on Monday.  I was incredibly impressed how well it held up. I sang along with most of the numbers, and rediscovered some that I had totally forgotten about.

It got me thinking about the recent Saving Mr. Banks. I wanted to see the story of the movie getting made. I’d never seen it, and I hadn’t read a lot about P. L. Travers, though I knew a bit about her life. So, I watched this film immediately after Mary Poppins. I was amazed how different the film the fictional version of the author wanted was from the final version.

It made me wonder what the original book was like. I started reading it Monday night. I haven’t gotten terribly far in the novel, but it is substantially different. I also have copies of The Real Life Mary Poppins: The Life and Times of P.L. Travers and Mary Poppins, She Wrote: The Life of P.L. Travers in my queue, because I want to see how accurate the portrayal of Travers was according to her biographers.

Am I obsessing? Is this a trip down the rabbit hole–or maybe up the chimney? 😉

I think it is a good example of how interesting following a research thread can be. 🙂

It’s also an interesting tale of how a writer’s work can wind up totally different than their vision if they are ever lucky enough to get that “Big Hollywood Break.” This is something that every writer needs to be aware of. (Though I’d still love to have to worry about it…)



Decompression Time Almost Over

Well, I finished NaNoWriMo despite Jo’s last minute stalling, and I have had a lovely week of doing pretty much the minimum daily list work, which will culminate this weekend in my first visit to Dickens on the Strand, which I have always wanted to go to.  My sister Lauren and I are taking my niece, and dressing up and everything. I am really excited about it.

Have you seen the new Conn-Mann Chronicles website. It will be a one-stop location for all things Conn-Mann. Though it is currently a work-in-progress. Suggestions about what you want to see there are appreciated. 🙂

But I still have my dailies to do first, and blogging here, and Patreon updates, and…isn’t being an adult fun? 😉

Time for the end of the month statistics…through today:

Subs — 375 (after I sub today…and you KNOW I will.)

Rejections — 167

Acceptances — 147


Still have some packing to do, so this is short and sweet today. 🙂 Pictures next week.


Procrastination Station!

Okay, so we are down to the wire on NaNoWriMo. There are only 5,697 words to go. Jo has behaved herself admirably through most of the draft, and the book has done some things that I really am loving, but…

You knew there was a but coming, right?

BUT, we have gotten to the final exciting climax–and I have no idea what it is going to be. There is no more overt character development to be done in those few pages. The plot has come to a screeching halt before the edge of the cliff, so it can’t be a cliffhanger…

And here I am, procrastinating. I’ve done all my daily chores for the day. I’ve done all my weekly chores for the week (once this is done.) I’ve even done some housecleaning today–and long time readers of this and my occasional blog over at Here’s the Clean know that that means I am really desperate to avoid something.

I have to get going though. It is too close to quit–the end in sight, the word counter filling up, the story compelling me along…

I just need to figure out that last bit. 😉


Here’s a snippet from the Dime Novel for The Incredibly Irritating Irishman, “Practical Polly and the Village of Doom” — to see more, head on over to The Conn-Mann Chronicles page on Facebook, and don’t forget to Like us. 😉 Website on the way…

Day 25’s excerpt:

Polly held her breath as long as she could, swimming with the current downriver. She was a much stronger swimmer than Jack, so hopefully, she would be far away from where he expected her to be when she finally had to come up for air.

She angled her way toward the far bank as well as possible in the dark. Swimming until her lungs were threatening to burst, she finally broke the surface, gasping for air.

Dawn was breaking, the sky tinged with gold as the mist rose from the warming river. It provided a bit more screen. She would take any cover she could get.

Slogging out of the river on the opposite bank from the village, she put her back to a tree and slid down it to huddle in a miserable heap at its base. What was she to do? Jack had been the center of her world from the moment she met him.

Tears rolled down her cheeks as she realized that most of what she knew of him was probably a lie. Had he even been to the places he claimed? Were the artifacts he had donated to the museums stolen treasures he had no right to? She had given him everything—and he had thrown it all away.

Sobbing, she laid her head on her crossed arms and let all her dreams leave her.

But Polly was practical above all else, and she didn’t let her emotions hold sway for long. Jack would be coming. Probably with his new best friend the chieftain and his warriors in tow. She needed to stop feeling sorry for herself and take stock of the situation.

Swiping the tears from her cheeks, she got to her feet. She could see the smoke of the village cook fires in the distance, so she was still too close for comfort.

Checking her pockets, she found the penknife—she had forgotten that Paolo returned it to her…he probably had too. It was a welcome find. She also had her sling, three rocks—but she could gather more—a ten pound note, and a piece of jerky. She’d save that until she got too hungry to bear it.

She wracked her brains for every bit of survival lore that she could remember. Moss grew on the north side of trees…didn’t it?

Damn Jack! He had her compass in his pack last time she had seen it. And that had been before their capture the first time, so she doubted it was anywhere to be found now.

There hadn’t been anything else of use at the camp, had there? A few bits of canvas and maybe a few feet of rope. Not worth the risk of returning there. He’d probably look there first, sure that she would go back to the familiar.

No, she would strike downriver, staying on the bank opposite the village. He’d never give her credit for that much sense.

Writing is Exciting — 3 D’s for Daily Success!

It’s another week down on NaNoWriMo. So far, things are going along swimmingly. Jo is proving to be her usual feisty self, and things are heating up for Practical Polly in the dime novel too.

There is nothing more exciting than work that is going well.

Several things help make writing go well.

1) Discipline — writing at least a little every day instills a pattern, and having a pattern is one of the ways that it becomes ritual. Once something is ritual, it is much easier to keep it going on a schedule. 🙂

2) Determination — one of the things that helps make sure that the discipline leads to ritual is determination. Determination to keep going even when the days are hard and the Muse is taking an extended coffee break.

3) Divergence — now, some may disagree with this last one, but I have found it to be truly helpful. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. If things aren’t going smoothly in one area, switch to another genre–or format. Switch from fantasy to historical. Switch from poetry to short story. Perhaps just take an hour or two and research rather write (as long as you go back to the writing part before the day is out.)

So, there you have it. Three tips to potential success. Go and write!

It’s Friday Already?!

Conn Mann Alt Poster for WEB VIEWThis will probably be a short, sweet post, because I have to be about my 1667 words for today–

Yes, it’s that time of year again. November is upon us, and NaNoWriMo is here.

This year, I am writing the first draft of the third book in The Conn-Mann Chronicles, The Incredibly Irritating Irishman.

I don’t want to spoil it too much, but suffice to say that Josephine Mann may have met her match in her mysterious cousin Seamus O’Leary.

I am really enjoying the dime novel that goes with it this time–Practical Polly and the Village of Doom. Garrett Goldthwaite is back on top of the game. To follow along with Polly’s perilous predicaments, visit the Conn-Mann Facebook page for daily snippets.

Here’s the first sample to give you a taste of it:


Polly Peterson peered out of the thick underbrush,scanning the clearing before her. The village looked quiet in the throes of after-dinner torpor. None of the brown-skinned natives was to be seen. Even the ever-present children were absent. No dogs roamed the fringes, no women sung about their chores. Where was everyone? Was it seriously just time for a siesta, as she had seen with other tribal groups?

She bit her lip. Somewhere in that deceptively quiet landscape was the man she loved-and she wasn’t leaving without him. Despite his orders.

The thatched huts huddled in a rough circle around the central fire-pit were little more than lean-tos. She could probably knock them down with a gentle push…but that wouldn’t free Jack Stanton from the clutches of the cannibals.

She didn’t want to think too hard about that last part. What if Jack had been lunch? She wouldn’t be able to live with herself if he was dead. Especially if he had been eaten because she wanted to make a name for herself as an explorer the world took seriously.

She ducked back into the underbrush, heart pounding, as a lone warrior stumbled out of his hut and relieved himself against a tree. She shuddered. Primitive man…why did she want to research these people again?

She swiped her forearm across her face. It was so damn hot here in the Amazon basin. Her clothes clung to her, soaked with sweat.

Jack had tried to dissuade her from the expedition. She should have listened. He was the more experienced explorer, after all.

She might even admit to him that he was right.

If she ever saw him alive again.

Damn it all. They should have gone to the South Pole!



Feel free to leave comments on what you would like to see next. I’ll talk to Garrett and see what we can do! 😉


Happy Halloween!



This is my favorite holiday of the year. Ghosts and ghouls wandering the world, trick-or-treating, scary stories…

Last week I told you about some of the scary stories that I had for Halloween. Today, I am going to give you some suggestions for classic and contemporary October and Halloween books.

First of all, one of the best Halloween books I’ve ever read, A Night in the Lonesome October. Roger Zelazny’s last book is a wonderful tale of two teams, one trying to open, and the other to close, the door which will let the Elder Gods back to the Earth.

My personal recommendation is to read this book throughout October. My husband and I were reading it aloud to each other when we first got it, and next year, I may make this a tradition. The chapters are titled with dates, so it is easy–if you can wait. By the time I was halfway through, I gave up and read several chapters at once to finish it.


If you think you recognize some of the characters on the cover, you are probably right. It is full of lovely, quirky, characters, led by the humble narrator–Snuff the Dog.


Next up, is The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury. Another absolutely fabulous tale of Halloween night. In this fast-paced story, a group of boys are whisked through time and space learning about the customs and traditions of the holiday season.

This is a book I remember fondly from my childhood. I need to reread this one for sure. 🙂



My third recommendation is for a book I am currently reading, so I don’t know how it ends, but so far, it has made the list of great Halloween stories– The Halloween Host: A Holiday Novel. This is the story of a father who misses Trick-or-Treating with his son one year and is sentenced to host the Halloween Senate the next year. It has the fun of trying to figure out along with the main character who each senator is.



Of course, you are always welcome to pick up one of my new Halloween books too. 😉

Halloween Night: Trick or Treat


October’s End


There are a handful of books for you to consider, three episodic novels and two anthologies. If you have any other suggestions to add to the list, please tell me in the comments! I am always looking for a good Halloween book.