Time, Time, Time…

Oh, time. There never seems to be enough anymore…

After another brutally busy weekend launching into another excitingly* busy week, I find myself succumbing to The Writer’s Alphabet for a quick and, ahem, timely definition.

T is for Time.

*Kicking off my Monday with a very special visit from South Africa! Can’t wait to see you again, Liesl!

Here’s to Time, Time, Time
(Originally by my all time favorite, Simon & Garfunkel, here’s The Bangles cover version.)

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Getting Lit!

at the Chicago Printer’s Row 34th Annual Lit Fest celebration.

For the second year in a row, I was able to set up a table and sell my books, A Stranger’s Child and Pocket Money, under the Chicago Writers’ Association tent.


This year’s time slot felt different…
We set up Saturday from 3-6 pm. The rain held off and the temps were comfortably cool for a mid-June afternoon. The Saturday crowd seemed more fluid…more people, but not necessarily more conversations or sales.
There was a larger crowd in attendance this time around–last year we closed the fest, 2-6 pm on Sunday, and it was excessively windy and brutally hot.
Last year may have offered less lookers, but definitely more long-talkers, lol.

I held a contest to give away a free Kindle version of one of my books–it was crazy to me how many people had to pass because they do NOT have a Kindle or Kindle app. (Crazy-cool! Reading it old school!) Freebies always draw a lot of people. They were nice, not too chatty, and absolutely unfazed by my name/email request. I promised not to abuse their information. They ALL basically shrugged and said ‘no problem, I already receive so much unsolicited email…’
Last year I was harassed by a non-smoker for suggesting she help herself to my swag matches! True story, read it here.

I sold three books. Not a lot, but hopefully some of the drawing entrants and pen grabbers will look me up at home and order through Amazon.

It was a pleasant afternoon. My table mate, YA author Debbie Winnekins Deutsch, and I made up a game of bingo to help pass any down time. There really wasn’t much down time, but we’d interrupt a conversation to shout, “TUBE TOP!” or “SLEEVE TATTOO!” and cross off the square on our boards. You see A LOT of interesting things in downtown Chicago in the summer…we’re already collecting ideas for next year’s game.

I also chatted with a handful of CWA book hawkers. Such an eclectic and talented group. I directed many interested parties to the other side of the tent for detailed information on the CWA and how to join. If YOU are a writer, I recommend you look into joining as well. The connections and opportunities available through this professional writer’s group are impressive and abundant. Getting Lit is really just the tip of their offerings. (pa-dum-pum, lol)

The mythology fans I spoke with got me really excited to finish Book 2 in The Pandoran Legacy!

How cool would that be? To sell Book 2 at next year’s Lit Fest?
Oh, I am SO GETTING LIT again.

Random things I learned Saturday:
1. Zombies are a blue-collar monster.
2. Olympia Fields is the place to retire to if you love golf.
3. You don’t need the Square because you can manually add the number through the app on the phone!
4. Once you start looking for things to check off your bingo board, you have a hard time not looking for those things…even after you’ve marked them off.
5. You can survive a 30 degree parking garage ramp in an SUV. Entering and exiting.















Ohmygod, ohmygod, ohmygod…

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The Book Party

A couple of weeks ago, Friday, May 18, I had my first ever BOOK RELEASE PARTY for my contemporary mythology tale, A Stranger’s Child. Hosted by the Karnitz Art Gallery, it was a splendid little affair.

Despite ASC being my fourth publication, this was my first launch. I’ve facilitated three Word of Arts, each with a hard cover, full-color book, but I shared the stage with 60 other amazingly talented authors and artists for those receptions.

This was MY gig.

Have you met me? I do not enjoy public speaking.
(that’s an understatement)
As I mentioned in the party announcement blog, I was both EXCITED

and a little nervous.


I was a LOT nervous.

But Cindy Karnitz, gallery owner, event organizer, and decades long friend, and her assistant, Sabrina Tassoni, took care of me. The MANY supportive friends and family that attended the event–both the drop-ins to say “Hey” and “Good luck!” and also those who stuck around to chat, listen, and buy a book, made the experience down right enjoyable.

Despite being the first City Market with throngs of locals falling upon the downtown Rockford area (and filling most every available parking space!), we had about thirty people through, not including the handful of art lovers who did a quick perusal of the wonderful pieces featured in the “MAY FLOWERS” exhibit (it IS an art gallery, after all!). More than twenty filled the audience as I did my (rapid) readings. (Hey, if you missed what I said, read the book!) I was pleased by the attendance of the ones I knew were coming and also by the ones who surprised me. And honestly, the ever knocking notification of my cell phone with the copious texts of well-wishes and regrets, added to my fulfillment.


It was very cool.
I’m glad I did it.
I would totally do it again.
(Book Two in The Pandoran Legacy?)

And I think YOU should do it, too.

I have a LOT of author friends and yet, mine is only the second book release party I’ve attended. C’mon, writers! Do it! It’s fun! Considering the myriad days of solitary pounding on the keys, the hours lost querying, pitching, formatting, all while battling personal uncertainty, don’t you think you deserve to put your doubts to rest and let people know about your amazing book?

Cindy’s calendar is filling up fast, but if you’re interested in renting the gallery for your event, contact her through the Karnitz Art Gallery Facebook page, here. If the space is available, she’s very accommodating and competitively priced. If KAG is not available (or your book isn’t out yet), check around. Make plans! Seriously, give it a try, your published book is worth the effort.

Thank you again to everyone who has supported my writing and publication efforts.
I really appreciate it.


Be sure and check out other Karnitz Art Gallery events, including a writing session I’ll be hosting called Liquor & Letters, a sort of in-class writing Prompt Club with, well, liquor and letters. Join us Friday, June 22 for our first meeting!

I will be selling and signing at the Chicago Printers Row Lit Fest again this year. You can find me Saturday, May 9 from 3 to 6 pm with the Chicago Writers Association in Tent O.

I will have copies of Pocket Money and A Stranger’s Child available.

I’m proud to announce I have TWO short stories in The Write City Review – the Chicago Writers Association anthology of poetry, short stories, essays, and book excerpts drawn from the Chicago Writers Association’s online publication, The Write City Magazine, which will also be for sale.

I better start exercising my hand so I’m ready to sign all those autographs, 😉

(clicking on the highlighted words will take you to a page with more information)

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Colorado Connection

This month’s Literary Mary Chats interview is with DeAnna Knippling, a talented, knowledgeable, and ballsy writer, speaker, and horror discussion panelist that I met at the Pikes Peak Writing Conference, #PPWC2018.

DeAnna Knippling is a freelance writer, editor, and book designer living in Colorado.  She started out as a farm girl in the middle of South Dakota, went to school in Vermillion, SD, then gravitated through Iowa to Colorado, where she lives with her husband and daughter. Some of her fondest childhood memories are of putting together haunted houses in the basement of her grandparents’ house with her cousins, and taking flying leaps off haystacks and silage piles in the middle of winter with her brother.  She was in charge of coming up with the “let’s pretend” ideas when they were kids, at least in theory. But then no plan survives contact with the enemy.

She now writes science fiction, fantasy, horror, crime, and mystery for adults under her own name; adventurous and weird fiction for middle-grade (8-12 year old) kids under the pseudonym De Kenyon; and various thriller and suspense fiction for her ghostwriting clients under various and non-disclosable names. Her latest book, Alice’s Adventures in Underland:  The Queen of Stilled Hearts, combines two of her favorite topics–zombies and Lewis Carroll.  It’s the story of a tame zombie who told a little girl named Alice a story that got them both in more trouble than they could handle. Her short fiction has appeared in Black Static, Penumbra, Crossed Genres, Three-Lobed Burning Eye, and more. Her website and blog are at www.WonderlandPress.com.  You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.

We crossed paths at the Pikes Peak Writers Conference in April. I was very impressed with the sessions you lead/assisted with and especially your contributions to the Writing Horror panel discussion with Jonathan Maberry and Steve Saffel. After checking out your websites, your many publications, and reading through several blog posts, I was very happy you agreed to answer a handful of questions.

1. You mention that you ghostwrite…where you take someone else’s idea and do the research, take/write the stories and turn them into books. Sounds like you’re doing ALL the work! Do you credit them with the idea but are cited as the author? How are you paid?! Doesn’t this interfere with your own idea writing time?!

Ghostwriting is kind of a case-by-case basis.  Mostly I don’t get credit.  I get a flat fee and have to keep my mouth shut about what I write 🙂  I usually have to work from an outline, or at least a loose structure for an outline, or we develop one together.  And a lot of the time, I’m writing from a series of indie books, so the world and characters are already developed.

Does this interfere with my own writing time?  Yep, but it’s what I do for a living…mostly what people do for a living interferes with their own writing time anyway, and I get to hone my craft.  I’ve learned how to write mysteries and adventure novels this way, and I’m working on one of my first romances–all stuff I might not have tried (let alone had the chance to write several books in) if I hadn’t been a ghostwriter.

2. I love the way your mind seems to work…in that it’s always working and no dust is allowed to settle! You must have more hours in the day…how do you possibly design, edit, create, craft, blog, publish, WRITE, ghost write, parent, wife, and vacuum? 

How do I do it all?  One of the first things I did was train myself to write quickly and (relatively) reliably.  I’ve also learned how to hit that 80% mark of “good enough” where I let things go to the reader or client and let them judge the work.  I think a lot of writers try to hone their craft by honing one perfect story, rather than a lot of “good enough” stories.  For some people that works, but I would have gone insane.  I still suffer from perfectionism (nothing, literally nothing I write feels good enough), but I try not to get stuck on it.  As for moods, there’s a perfect task that suits every mood.  Feeling depressed?  I’ll study, because it seems like studying is more effective then. Feeling a little manic?  I’ll set the timer and do writing sprints.  Feeling anxious?  Time for a horror story 🙂

I still need to identify a reliable “mood” for marketing, though.  Uggggghhhhh.  I’m trying to improve at writing ads, and it’s melting my brain.

I think the secret is to focus on one thing at a time, actually, even if you have to change that focus pretty often to respond to real-world and brain-function events.  I didn’t learn all the things at the same time.  For example, on the production side, I did blogging first, then newsletters (for a job), then formatting, then shifted over to leveling up covers, then worked on print formatting and covers, then on book descriptions, and now on marketing text and strategies.  And that order isn’t a strict order, either.  Sometimes I have to double back and work on whatever the weakest link is.  Most of 2016-2017 was about literally fixing links in ebooks, for example.

If you stay focused on getting better on one tiny thing at a time, no matter how bad it hurts your brain, it adds up after a while.  Trying to do everything right the first time seems to leave me right back where I started, so I ditched that.  Whether that was the right thing to do is an entirely different question 🙂  Just in case someone needs to hear it, let me say that I feel like everything I do sucks every day (although I have moments where I’m happy with things before I start tearing it all down again).  My spouse and I have a great name for that:  “Flaw Goggles.”  You can’t take them off, not really, but you can learn to trust that 50% of the flaws you see just come from smears on the lenses.

3. Your fiction focus is sci-fi, fantasy, and horror (with a special affinity for zombies) but in those genres your sub-cats are many. My favorite is “adult weird” as Chance Damnation is described. You also write short stories, historical, adventure, adult crime, and YA (to mention a few). Again, I want to ask, how do you have the time?! But I’ve already asked that, and you’ve answered, so instead, I wonder, do you have a favorite sub-genre? Is there a genre you’d like to tackle but haven’t had the time (!) for? Maybe something fluffy or non-fiction? 

I’ve always struggled with, “What kind of writer am I anyway?!?”  I finally figured it out:  while there are some genres and subgenres I love more than others, what I’m chasing is story with a capital S.  So my writing idols are people like Neil Gaiman and Ira Levin, who write stories that are identifiable as uniquely their own, but that you go, “What kind of genre is that anyway?  Not sure…but I like it.”

My favorite subgenre right now is horror, of the “The characters don’t know this is horror, but the reader suspects it,” type, like The Truman Show or Pleasantville.  Those are a bit lighter than the things I’m working on right now, but it’s the same general  idea.  Metropolis is another great one.  I’m trying to work out a 1920s con job fake utopia story to finish out a collection.

4. Can you tell me more about Wonderland Press?

I needed a legal umbrella for practical purposes – to cover my pen names and be ONE THING I could use to sign up for distributors and pay taxes under.  I don’t currently take submissions.  Sorry, it’s boring 🙂

5. Lastly, please share a past favorite project and tell me what you’re currently working on. Also, what challenges are you looking forward to in the near future?

  • Past favorite ghostwriting project: it’s probably still Choose Your Own Doom: Zombie Apocalypse, which was super fun to plot out.
  • Current ghostwriting project:  a romance!  It’s draining (because it’s out of my usual genres) but also really rewarding, because I get to be FAR snarkier than on anything else I write, which is kind of a surprise but I’m loving it.
  • Past me project:  Alice’s Adventures in Underland: The Queen of Stilled Hearts.  I could finally put all that Alice research into words, which made me feel like I could do this writing thing.  I wanted to say something in particular, and I think I actually said it.  How often does that happen?
  • Current me project:  I’m trying to launch a secret pen name, and I’m editing book 2 on that series.  Fingers crossed.  I’ll announce it later, after I’ve found out what I wanted to know.
  • Challenges coming up:  I need to write a couple of short stories to fit specific slots in short story collections that I want to put together, and I’m finding it a challenge to come up with The Perfect Idea, or at least The 80% Idea, on demand.  But a 1920s con job collection across genres and a haunted house collection should be coming up.

Thank you, DeAnna, for ChattingMaybe we’ll cross paths again next conference…

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A Literary Loss

Kindle Worlds, a publication platform where authors could choose a licensed World, write their own story in that world with the author’s permission (and encouragement), then publish with Amazon to be available through Kindle for purchase and download, will be no more.

I am crushed.

In the midst of promoting the book I just published, A Stranger’s Child,  I am, of course, working on the book I would publish next. That book is titled, Safe Harbour, and will be a sequel to Kinder Gardenmy successful first foray into the Kindle Worlds. SH would have been my third entry into the Mary O’Reilly Paranormal Mystery Kindle World, also joining Baker’s Dozen.

I had hoped for a mid-June release date. KW submissions ended last week.
Everything currently posted will be removed by July 16.
There are rumors of alternatives for those published in the Kindle Worlds. The rights revert back to me, but since my stories take place in a world belonging to another author, that complicates things.

So, if you want to read either Baker’s Dozen or Kinder Garden, I encourage you to download now. (click on the highlighted titles to go directly to the Amazon page)
If you enjoy a quick and easy ghost story, you might want to invest in other books in this world, as well.

Quick. Now. While you can!

(once they’re downloaded, they belong to you and will not disappear after July 16.)

Safe Harbour is about an unwilling medium who must solve the mysterious death of a handsome ghost with amnesia. Kimmie Jillison, my creation, is the main character. I had built in Mary O’Reilly Alden because it was meant to be published in her world.
With a shout-out to her original mentor, I think I may allow Kimmie to fly solo on this one. Which means rewrites of a nearly completed piece.

Augh, damn you Amazon and your rug-pulling antics.

(Part of me believes this is the Universe telling me to make book two in The Pandoran Legacy a priority!)

Writing in the Kindle Worlds was a great experience for me. It exposed my writing to a whole new audience, and for that I am grateful.

Too bad it had such a short run.

I will keep you posted on my Safe Harbour progress…
I really like this story! I think you will, too!
It WILL find an outlet…

I’d like to offer a hearty thank you to author Terri Reid for allowing us into her world, and one last reminder to check out the Kindle World stories now!



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When in Doubt…

I’m way past the letter D in The Writer’s Alphabet, and when I was there, D was for Discover, which is much more optimistic than D being for Doubt, but in my head right now, well, I am doubtful.

Full of doubt. That’s bad, right?
A smidge of doubt in most situations is inevitable, I think.
If we stop to think about it, I bet we all have that seedling buried somewhere in our brains.

Relationship solid?
Work steady?
Kids safe?

Good, good, good.

Well, there is that one thing…

We worry, we rally, we rationalize.
It’s part of being human.
We feel, we fail, we function.

Doubt is a personal issue…one man’s “oh, crap” is another’s “yeah, baby!”

I don’t have any answers here.
I’m battling my own doubts, those growing seedling demons.
I tell myself this too shall pass.
And it will.

–And on the other side, I will be better for it.

In the end, it’s all good.

In totally unrelated business–
Come see me Friday, May 18, at my book release party for A Stranger’s Child
at the Karnitz Art Gallery
223 E. State Street, 2nd Floor

I’ll be around 6 to 10 pm.
Support, solace, and sales welcome.

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S is for soooo many things…

Scene, senses, styles, suspense, symbolism…
But the MOST important S is SAVE!

If you have EVER lost anything, you KNOW this!
And yet…

Control S! Do it! Now! Again!


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