Sara Barnard’s Latest Release

Sara Barnard is a wonderful editor and is currently working with me on my soon to be published novella, A Painted Room. However, she is also a best-selling author in her own right. Her newest historical novel, A Heart Forever Wild has just been released.


Available from 5 Prince

Genre: Fiction, Romance, Historical
Release Date: April 3, 2014
Digital ISBN-10: 1631120298 ISBN-13: 978-1-63112-029-9
Print ISBN-10: 1631120301 ISBN-13: 978-1-63112-030-5
A Heart Forever Wild

Outlaws. Lies. Executions. Indians.
When all of their dreams come true, will Sanderson and Charlotte still have what started it all – their everlasting love?
In this final installment of the Everlasting Heart series, Sanderson and Charlotte must make a home for themselves in the Army town of Fort Bidwell, California. When the job as an Indian agent begs him to round up the peaceful area Indians for execution, Sanderson again runs afoul of the government. In answer to the broken promises of the Army, Sanderson and Jerry turn to a well-paying job with the railroad. However, they are warned to turn a blind eye to the treatment of their Chinese workers …  or else. But can money buy this formerly-happy Arkansas family the happiness they are so desperately searching for?
Meanwhile as Charlotte stands up for Cotton against the town bullies, she accidentally falls into favor with Johnny Tan, the handsome young outlaw who slowly transforms into both Sanderson’s nemesis and his saving grace. In a world where women are expected to be silent, can Charlotte be a parent Cotton, a wife to Sanderson who seems to have fallen more in love with money than with her, and friend to Minerva, who seems to be drifting farther and farther away?
About Sara Barnard
Sara Barnard, who was most likely born into the wrong century, is mother to four awesome children. In addition to Rebekah’s Quilt, she has authored the historical romance Everlasting Heart series, consisting of bestselling A Heart on Hold, which was also a 2012 RONE award finalist, A Heart Broken, A Heart at Home, and A Heart Forever Wild – all from 5 Prince Publishing. She also writes for the younger among us. Chunky Sugars is a picture book from 5 Prince Kids and her independently published children’s nonfiction titles, The ABC’s of Oklahoma Plants and The Big Bad Wolf Really Isn’t so Big and Bad, have hit bestseller lists several times. She and her family make their home in the far reaches of the west Texas desert with the Javalina, mesquite trees, and of course, lots and lots of oil.
Where to find Sara:
Twitter: @TheSaraBarnard
Excerpt of A Heart Forever Wild:
The thundering hooves from both the stampede and the onslaught of soldiers vibrated the ground.
“Sanderson!” Charlotte had to shout to be heard over the growing din. The scene before her unfolded in slow motion as Jerry lifted Minerva, Jay Jay, and Cotton into the wagon with expert precision, one after the other.
Cotton’s normally musical voice tore from his throat in a hysterical shriek. “Mr. Sanderson!
Don’t forget Button and George!” Tears left wet trails down his bronze face while more still shimmered in his clear blue eyes. His arms trembled as they reached for his wolf pup.
George whimpered, scared and helpless, until Jerry plopped Button into the wagon beside him. At once, the gray pup ceased his cries and began to snarl and snap at his brother and friend, both of their fluffy tails wagging, oblivious to the mortal danger that careened toward them from seemingly all directions. Cotton folded his little body over the puppies as Minerva draped her arm over Cotton. Her emerald eyes, wide and staring, darted to and fro.
Sanderson’s strong
hands snapped Charlotte from her trance. “Come on!” Her grip tightened around tiny Charlie. “We gotta clear out!”
Nicolai flung his huge head as the herd of wild horses drew nearer and the shouts of the soldiers grew louder. He stomped his hooves as though he may take off with the mustangs at any moment. Achilles, hooked to pull the wagon alongside the younger stallion, glanced over his gray shoulder and whuffed.
Cocoa and Peanut zipped through Jerry’s legs as he pitched a few bags out of the birthing tipi that Charlotte had called her home — the warm, snug, safe place where precious Charlie had come into the world and she herself had almost exited it. Both buckskin and cloth bags landed at her feet in the thin layer of mud. Careful not to trip over them, Charlotte quick-stepped to Sanderson and shoved Charlie into his waiting arms.
Once Charlotte was safe in the wagon bed with her family, Jerry tossed in the rest of the bags as she reached for Charlie.
Sanderson’s eyes were as wild as she’d ever seen. As she accepted their child from him, he was looking everywhere but at her. “Hunker down, going to be a rough ride,” he called, disappearing around the side of the wagon. Nicolai stomped and reared, making the wagon lurch as snippets of conversation made its way back to the bed where Charlotte tried to remain brave. Sanderson’s voice was the clearest. “You drive and I’ll ride!”
Cries from the Indians drowned out Jerry’s reply.
The wagon jerked to life as a few words from Charlotte’s beloved met her ears again. “Turn in with the herd … kick for that river!”
Fear churned in Charlotte’s stomach as she grasped Charlie tighter. Her gaze, searching the faces of her loved ones who shared the wagon bed with her, met the wide one belonging to Minerva.
The words rolled off her tongue in choppy Romani-tinged syllables. “There is a river near?” Jay Jay screeched, prompting Charlie to join in, as the popping of gunshots peppered the air above the deafening roar of hoofbeats.
Careful to keep from looking out the front of the wagon, Charlotte hunkered down and tugged at the neck of her buckskin dress. Once her swollen breast was freed, she offered it to Charlie who quieted his whimpers and began to nurse.
Minerva busied herself with watching Jay Jay, following Charlotte’s lead not to look out the front of the wagon – or the back. “We’re with herd? Of wild horses?”
Cotton peeked up from his furry fort of wolf pups. “We’re riding with those stampedin’ horses?” His inky eyebrows arched skyward. “To get away from the soldiers?” He pushed himself up into a semi-sitting position. Had he ears like Button and George, they’d have no doubt been perked up, sitting at attention.
Charlotte laid her hand on his shoulder and nodded. “Please, stay low. Those shots are close.” No sooner had the words passed her lips than a crack sounded and a shot of hot lead tore through their canvas cover. Jerry roared from the driver’s box.
“No!” Minerva’s face contorted into a mishmash of planes as she tried to scramble toward the front of the wagon and conceal Jay Jay at the same time. “Jerry!”
Charlotte shoved Cotton back into the nest of puppies and slid down until she and Charlie were flat, as far from Army bullets as possible. “Minerva, get down!”
Tears leaked from Minerva’s flashing eyes as her mouth gaped, sobs roiling up from the depths of her being. “No, he’s dead! They’ve killed him!”
The wagon turned sharply to the right, sending Minerva and Jay Jay crashing over Cotton and into Charlotte’s legs. Hoofbeats thundered against the frozen earth in deafening thunks. Someone screamed, though Charlotte wasn’t sure if it was her or Minerva. Surely, her world was coming to an end.
Jerry’s voice rose above the din like a phoenix from the ashes. “I’m alright! You gals stay low — we’re running with the herd now!”
Thank you God. Charlotte reached with her free arm and patted Minerva’s ebony head. Shots from the Cavalry rifles sounded farther away as the wagon roared wildly toward the north, in the company of a thousand wild horses.
Cotton’s head poked up again. “We’re in the herd? With wild horses?” With the grace and stealth of a cat, Cotton rose and crept toward the driver’s box, somehow managing to keep his footing amid the mess of goods, people, dogs, and the rolling of the wagon.
Charlotte reached to snag the youngster, but missed. “Cotton, no!” Before she could adjust her seat and grab for one of his moccasined feet, Cotton slipped through the canvas arch and situated himself next to Jerry without a single misstep. Holding onto the roughhewn wooden bench, Cotton swiveled his head back toward Charlotte, a grin lighting his entire face. “Miss Charlotte! I ain’t never seen so many horses!”
As she held the youngster’s stare, Charlotte’s lips spread back farther and farther until her eyes crinkled at the sides and her cheeks ached, her body rocking in rhythm with the wagon. The sudden surge of happiness was so unexpected, it threatened to consume her right then and there. “Watch ‘em for all of us, alright?”
Nodding his ebony-tressed head, Cotton hollered back. “Alright!” Before the word was fully formed and free of his lips, he had already turned back to face the horses.
George and Button took turns nipping at Charlotte’s toes before being knocked off their paws by the jostling wagon, only to begin again as soon as they regained their footing. Silly puppies. She froze. Puppies. Her head snapped back and forth, searching the wagon for the animals she knew weren’t there. Finally, she found her voice. “Minerva!” Charlotte’s voice broke as though speaking the words brought a whole new level of pain with them. “We left Peanut and Cocoa!” Right on cue, baby Charlie began to shriek.


The Next Big Thing – A Painted Room

I’ve been tagged by novelist, playwright and pamphleteer Adrian Deans in the Next Big Thing Blog Meme in which writers answer a series of questions on their works in progress.

With Wings well and truly out in the big, wide world, my attention is now turning to the release of my Novella, A Painted Room, which I’m hoping will be the next big thing.

1) What is the working title of your current/next book?

As you may have guessed from the introductory paragraphs, it is A Painted Room

2) Where did the idea come from?

A Painted Room tells the tale of two parents whose first child becomes seriously ill shortly after being born. The work was written shortly after the birth of my fourth child who was rushed into intensive care within hours of his birth. Thankfully, he pulled through and is now a happy and healthy one year old. You’ll have to read A Painted Room to see what happens to Gary, Melinda and their son, Justin.

3) What genre does your book fall under?

Family drama

4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

I would choose Hugh Grant to play the role of Gary, and Julia Roberts to play Melinda. I’m open to suggestions for the part of baby Justin.

5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

The best day in the life of a pair of first-time parents suddenly turns into the worst.

6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

As this is a novella, I will most likely be self-publishing it.

7) How long did it take you to write the first draft?

I wrote a novel-length first draft in a frenetic 4 months straight after Ethan’s birth. On review and reflection, I took a scalpel to this draft, chopping out more than half of the content and turning it into a tightly-focused novella.

8 ) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

One Summer by David Baldacci is one that springs to mind.

9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?

As mentioned earlier, observing my youngest son being admitted into intensive care within hours of birth was the primary event that led me to write A Painted Room.

10) What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?

When it comes to new additions to the family, the focus is largely on the baby and the mother. Dads rarely get a look-in. A Painted Room examines the situation from the father’s perspective.

To keep The Next Big Thing going, I’ve tagged some writers whose work is well worth exploring:

Dion J. Crowe, the popular short story author of In Dark Times.

D. Robert Grixti who has just released his speculative fiction debut novel, Sun Bleached Winter.

L.M. Visman, the author of well-loved YA novel Ben’s Challenge, which is also enjoyed by Baby Boomers.

Ryan Schneider, commercial pilot, screenplay writer and sci-fi author.


The Spoken Word

I gave a speech recently at the Thirroul Library covering three topics which have occupied my mind to a great extent over the past year or two. The topics were Wings, eBooks and Writing. The audience seemed to enjoy my talk, so I’ve decided to post it here on my blog. I hope you enjoy it too …

Thank you very much for coming to listen to me tonight – I’m very pleased to have this opportunity to speak to you. Having my book published has provided a unique and amazing chance to share my thoughts with numerous people from around the world – people whom I would otherwise never have had the chance to interact with. Although you’re not reading my book tonight, you are listening to me, and I do appreciate your presence and hope you enjoy at least some of what you hear. I’ll do my best to give you value for money!

An author called JA Konrath once said, “If you can’t be clever or funny, be brief.” I can’t be too brief – Helen has given me some guidelines on how long I should talk for – but despite this, I suspect brevity is likely to be the most redeeming feature of this presentation.

I only have three things to talk about this afternoon. First of all, I’ll talk about Wings, sharing something of the plot and origins of this, my debut novel. Given Wings has been published by a specialist ebook publisher, I’ll talk a little about the rapidly growing phenomenon that is ebooks, and finally, I’ll share something of what I know about writing. This last topic is likely to be the shortest of the three.

It still sounds funny to be referred to as an author. I’ve been writing on and off for a number of years and seriously for at least the last two, but through this time I’ve never thought of myself as an author.

Now that I’ve written a book, and a publisher has published it, and I’ve sold some copies, I guess I really must be an author. However, if someone asked me who I am or what I do, author would be the third or fourth or fifth thing I said. In fact, to many people I wouldn’t even mention it. I might talk about being a husband, a father, my career in IT or my failed attempts to achieve sporting prowess, but talk of my writing rarely comes to the fore.

Despite the fact that I don’t see myself as an author, I feel proud to have written Wings, for a number of reasons.

The first is that it takes a large dose of tenacity and stubborn-ness, probably mixed with a hint of craziness to finish writing a novel. Wings is relatively short for a novel – I must have been following JA Konrath’s maxim when I put it together – but it still took many, many months of effort. When I was about three quarters of the way through writing it, I actually gave up, tired of the time that it took, unsure whether it was any good and totally perplexed about how to end it. From the time I gave up, Wings stayed in a lonely folder on my hard-drive, forgotten and unloved for nine months. I’m very thankful that I stumbled across it one rainy weekend and decided to take a second look. Reading through it, I found it of a higher quality than I had remembered and even better, an idea for an ending struck me straight away. It took another couple of months to finish the first draft, another three months to edit it for submission to a publisher and another couple of months of editing with the publisher but I finally got it over the line. It was a very satisfying moment when I finished the last of the edits for the publisher.

Another thing I’m proud of about Wings is that people really enjoy the part of the story set in the 1930s and 1940s. Given this part of the story took place a long time before I was born, I’m pleased that the end product was authentic and compelling. Writing this part of the story (and it makes up more than half of the book) really stretched my imagination. Doing the research was one thing, but trying to make scenes come alive when you’ve only studied the concepts in a dry encyclopedia or other research book was quite another. The research had to cover not only the major details, such as the most important events of the day, but also the minutiae that bring a story to life: food prices, wage-rates, the interior design of houses and even fashions of the day. For someone like me who struggles with 21st century fashion trends, the idea of coming to grips with those from the 1930s was challenging, enjoyable and scary at the same time.

The third and most important reason I’m proud of Wings is the family connection. Although Wings is a novel which owes much of its content to my imagination, it’s also inspired by the experiences of two members of my family. The first is my grandfather who grew up in the depression in England. He was the son of a lower-class labourer and poacher yet dreamed of flying.

The other is my younger brother; a casual larrikin who never stuck at any task or activity for any length of time, but decided he wanted to be a pilot as a young child and has never wavered from that goal.

There are some industries that it’s very tough to break into; fields that are full of people with talent, passion and commitment. Music is one: you just need to look at the amazing abilities of those who progress on The Voice, Idol or the X-Factor. Despite their amazing musical skills, the vast majority of these people will never be heard of again and will live their lives as accountants, teachers or plumbers. At best they may earn a few bucks plying their trade in pub gigs on a Friday night.

There are a number of other areas of endeavour with similar characteristics, including sport, acting and writing. In all of these fields, there’s an abundance of very talented people who want to participate but very few get the opportunity to earn their living from their passion.

Flying is just such an activity. It’s expensive, attracts talented and passionate individuals and the chance of being able to earn your living as a pilot are low.

Without giving too much away, Wings is a story that follows a grandfather and his grandson, both of whom dream of flying and set about making their dreams become a reality. “Wings” weaves together their two tales: one set in war-torn northern England, and the other set in the modern-day Illawarra region of New South Wales. As the blurb says, it’s filled with insights into the modern aviation scene and life in the Royal Air Force of World War II, making Wings an interesting read for anyone who has an interest in history, aviation or simply an old fashioned love story.

My grandfather and brother both achieved their dream and I’m very proud of their accomplishments. I would have been quite happy just to write Wings for my kids so that in years to come they’ll get some sense of the amazing man that is and was my grandfather and the incredible traits of their uncle. My grandfather is still alive, although he’s 91 years of age and suffering from Alzheimer’s. He cannot have too many years left. My youngest children are 14 months and three years old and there’s a very good chance they’ll not even remember him as they get older.

They will, however, be able to read Wings and I’ll be able to explain how it relates to their great-grandfather and the elements of the story that closely relate to his life.

It’s a bonus for me that I’ve been able to make Wings available to a much wider audience – people like you and many other potential readers around the world – and I’m delighted that almost everyone who reads Wings seems to really enjoy it.  There have been some great reviews of Wings, reviews from unknown people in other countries, who have read it and praised it in glowing terms.

I do realise that I’m probably going to end up like the person who comes 7th in Idol and writing will never be my main job. Because of this, and for someone who still doesn’t really see himself as an author, that sort of feedback and response has been very gratifying.

Follow this link for the second part of my speech.

The Spoken Word (Part 2)

I gave a speech recently at the Thirroul Library covering three topics which have occupied my mind to a great extent over the past year or two. The topics were Wings, eBooks and Writing. This post contains the second topic, which is some thoughts on eBooks. (Here are the links to the other parts of the speech about Wings and Writing).

The audience seemed to enjoy my talk, so I’ve decided to post it here on my blog. I hope you enjoy it too …

The second topic I’m covering tonight is ebook publishing. Despite having been an avid reader all my life, I only purchased my first ebook reader in January this year so I’m a relative newcomer to this rapidly growing phenomenon.

Wings was published by a new Australian publisher called Really Blue Books. Despite their name, I can confirm they do NOT publish pornography!

Really Blue Books have observed the trend towards Ebooks and decided to focus only on publishing ebooks. They operate in much the same way as a normal publisher – they review numerous submissions, provide an editor, design the cover and help with publicity. The difference is they only publish in electronic format – supporting all readers including kindles, nooks and a variety of tablet devices and PCs. They sell directly from their website and also through major channels such as Amazon.

In January, I signed a contract with Really Blue Books, who, at the time professed themselves to be the only specialist ebook only publisher in Australia. Although less than a year has passed since then, there are now at least four or five such Australian-based publishers who have setup shop and the trend seems set to continue.

Really Blue Books published their first few novels in February this year. Wings was published by them in May, and they have now released 11 novels with more on the way. They price their books very competitively – full length novels are $4.40 from their website – and they are part of a major revolution in the publishing industry.

Although $4.40 seems very cheap compared to the $20 or $30 that a paperback normally costs, the author is still being looked after. A traditional author would typically receive only 10% of the list price as a royalty, with the other 90% being spread around amongst the retailer, the printer, the publisher, the warehouse operator and the delivery man. That leaves the author with between $2 and $3, depending on the price of the book.

Given most of those middle-men don’t exist in the e-world, there is a much greater share of the pie available to the author. In the case of Really Blue Books, they offer 45%, providing the author with around $2 per sale – a figure not too dis-similar to the traditionally published author.

Ebooks obviously also provides the opportunity of selling to a global audience. This is the upside. The downside, of course, is that the competition is also global and there are literally millions of ebooks being published every year. As I mentioned earlier, I’m an avid reader and have spent many happy hours browsing bookstores and libraries. When the thought of writing started taking hold within me, one of the negatives voices I had to contend with was a sense of being overwhelmed. Why would anyone want to read my book when there are already all these books out there. Ebooks on a global stage magnifies that situation immensely. It’s a very busy world out there and difficult to be heard.

The other thing ebooks have enabled is an explosion of self-published books. I’m still undecided about whether this is a good or a bad thing. The positive aspect to this is that there are many good authors who may never have cut through to one of the few editors present in the major publishing houses. The downside is that there’s a lot of rubbish being published and the consumer who buys a self-published book is really taking a gamble as to whether they’re getting a decent quality product. I’ll speak more about the editing process in a moment.

In short, ebooks have revolutionised the publishing world. I’ve spent a good part of this year reading many of the classics – Dickens, Twain and even Bram Stoker – for free. I’ve also bought numerous other ebooks, all for less than $10, and most for around $5 or $6. The major publishers are trying to work out how to make money in this new world order and I think the winds of change are still swirling. I don’t know where this revolution is going to end but I’m very happy to be along for the ride.

Follow this link for the 3rd part of my speech, which covers some of my thoughts about writing.

The Spoken Word (Part 3)

I gave a speech recently at the Thirroul Library covering three topics which have occupied my mind to a great extent over the past year or two. The topics were Wings, eBooks and Writing. This post contains the third topic, which is some thoughts on writing. (Here are the links to the earlier parts of the speech about Wings and eBooks).

The audience seemed to enjoy my talk, so I’ve decided to post it here on my blog. I hope you enjoy it too …

The final thing I’ll do tonight is share a few thoughts about writing.

Given I’m not a professional author (in that it’s not my main source of income), the hardest aspect of writing is making the time to do it. When asked for their most important tip to would be authors, many established authors simply respond with one word: ‘write’. But it’s easier said than done. I have a wife, a full-time job and four kids. I like to exercise as well.

Finding time to write amongst those responsibilities is easier said than done. When I’m in the midst of a writing project, I try to aim for 700 – 1000 words a day on at least 5 days a week. That word count typically takes me around an hour, often split over two or three mini-sessions. Possible times include early in the morning before anyone in the house is awake, a few minutes in my lunchbreak at work or in the evening when the kids are in bed and my wife is catching up on her soapies. It’s a regime that needs to be kept up over weeks and months in order to craft a novel, and relies more on dedication and planning than any particular writing genius.

It’s not a regime that I’ve been able to keep up year-in and year-out, but is something that I can manage for a few months at a time.

What else can I say about writing? Lots of reading is important. The aim of reading is not to find new story ideas, but to develop new techniques and ways of telling a story. Someone once described it to me as reading with a writer’s eye, attempting to analyse what the author is trying to achieve and how they’re doing it.

For me, professional assistance was also important in taking the step up to be published. I received this assistance twice. The first time was when I initially submitted Wings to a publisher. They replied telling me that they liked the concept, and the writing was good, but it wasn’t quite at publishable standard. They suggested I get a “reader’s report” – a review of Wings written by a professional editor highlighting weaknesses and opportunities for improvement. I did as they suggested, and received a report with a number of suggestions.

It took me a couple of months to work the suggestions into the manuscript. When I had done so, I submitted to Really Blue Books, and received an acceptance within a few short weeks. However, that wasn’t the end of the professional development.

I spent another few months revising Wings, incorporating the subtle changes and improvements that Sarah, my publisher, suggested. The overall story didn’t undergo too much in the way of surgery, but the enhancements and clarifying touches that she brought to the entire process elevated the finished product to another level. There wasn’t a page that didn’t have at least one minor revision and I was delighted with what she brought to the table.

Having seen how much the manuscript was enhanced through the input of a professional editor, I would be very reluctant to self-publish something which hadn’t been through such a process. This is despite the fact that I obviously learnt many things from these skilful editors which I have incorporated into my subsequent writing.

Given Wings has been professionally edited and had a cover designed for it, I did take the opportunity to make it available in hardcopy (Mum really wanted one and she doesn’t have an eReader). This was a very satisfying process. Despite all the positive aspects of eBooks, I really enjoyed holding a physical copy of my own creation.

Writing remains a work in progress for me. Since Wings, I’ve written a novella about parents whose first baby develops complications and is whisked into intensive care within a few hours of the birth. This novella (A Painted Room) is currently being edited. I’m also halfway through my next novel, called Lessons from a Two Year Old. This is about a thirty-something, single IT geek who still lives with his parents. He gets dragged into baby-sitting his two year old niece, and she turns his life upside down. He’ll have plenty of mishaps along the way, as, inspired by his independence seeking niece, he seeks a new job, a new wardrobe, and – of course – his first girlfriend.

I’ve often been asked where I get my ideas from. The short answer is that I derive them from my own experiences and observations. As mentioned, Wings is inspired by the lives of my grandfather and brother. A Painted Room was written following the birth of my youngest son who spent the first week of his life in intensive care (thankfully he’s made a full recovery and is a happy and healthy one year old). Lessons from a Two-Year old originated from a conversation at work. A friend was talking about her two year old and how he had displayed a momentary touch of wisdom. I replied to her that she was getting lessons from a two year old and the turn of phrase grabbed my fancy. I wrote it down, and then spent a bit of time trying to think of a plot that could support such a title. I’m hoping that the plot I have developed will be a winner for me, although I’ve still got plenty of hard work in front of me in order to make it a reality.

Thanks again for listening to me today. I hope that at least some of what I’ve shared about Wings and my writing has been of interest to you. If you do have any questions, I’d be happy to try to answer them.

Navigating my blog

Thanks for stopping by my blog. After an intensive six months of blogging, I’m taking a break to spend more time with my family and work on my next book. But wait! Don’t go. There’s plenty of interesting material on this site to keep you entertained and informed so make yourself a coffee, settle back in your chair, and keep browsing.

To make things easy, I’ve compiled a roadmap to help you find the posts most relevant for you.

My two favourite posts (and they’re very different) were An Innocent’s Introduction to Horror and The Circle of Life (which was also my very first post).

I have excerpts from Wings introducing the two main characters, Walt and Scott.

If you’re interested in how I go about writing a novel, checkout 700 words a day, Structured or Unstructured, Evolution of a Cover, or Editors: Who needs them?

Want to know more about setting and achieving goals? See Which Goals to Chase, Fear of Failure, The Daily Habit, The Importance of Being Precise, The Benefits of Lists or Post-goal Letdown.

There are also posts about the use of social media, some great interviews with other authors and even a few jokes!

Thanks again for visiting. I hope the extensive links above will help to give you an insight into writing, assist you to be more productive or simply give you a chuckle. If you’d like to give me feedback about this blog or Wings, or there’s any other questions you’d like to ask, don’t hesitate to drop me a line. My details are on the contact page.

The Seven Year Itch

I’m handing my blog over to author Andrew Clawson today for a guest post about his first novel, “A Patriot’s Betrayal”. When I was talking to Andrew, one of the things that caught my attention was the fact he took seven years to complete this novel – a remarkable feat of persistence. I asked him if he’d mind sharing the journey. What follows is Andrew’s story. Take it away, Andrew.

First of all, I’d like to thank Pete for allowing me to post on his blog. I truly appreciate the honor, and hope I can be half as entertaining as he usually is.

I published my first novel in June of 2012. It was of average length, a little over 95,000 words. Lengthy, of course, but nothing crazy. At least until you realize it took me seven years from conception to publication. There were several reasons for this, impediments to completion that almost every author will face on their journey to getting their manuscript published.

When I first decided to write a book, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I thought it would be a breeze; have brilliant idea, put words on screen, collect royalty checks in perpetuity. Sadly, as anyone who’s attempted to write a novel before already knows, I couldn’t have been more wrong. Sure, I had (I hoped) an interesting idea, a new twist on a popular genre that would send the public into a frenzy and cause near riots at one minute after midnight on release day. When I first put pen to paper and actually started fleshing out my idea, I had some vague notion that I should make an outline. I mean, that’s what we did in college, right? Start with a bang, create some interesting characters, throw in a little action and viola, you’re good. Best-seller complete.

And for the first few weeks, things actually went smoothly. I had an idea of where I wanted to go with the book, what storylines I wanted to follow, so I was able to plod my way through the first few chapters. It was only when I sat back and read what I’d dumped onto the screen that I realized my story was disjointed, uninteresting, and absolute garbage. It seemed that every time I sat in front of the computer I’d have a new flash of inspiration and would rush to write it all down before I forgot. This resulted in such a pile of trash I was tempted to give up, and I was only ten thousand words in.

Frustrated, I quickly lost motivation. What had been daily half hour sessions turned into every other day, then once a week for ten minutes. I’d go so long without writing anything that I’d forget where I was going with a chapter, and that only made things worse. A few months into the process I got a new job and relocated seven hundred miles away. My writing time declined even further, down to maybe once or twice a month. Sure, I’d sit at work, thinking about what I wanted to write, but when the time came, I always had an excuse. This continued on for over a year, until one day I realized I’d been at it for two years and had less than half the book done. Thomas Harris could get away with this glacial pace, but I couldn’t.

So, for the first time since I’d started, I did something intelligent. I researched HOW TO WRITE.

What a novel concept. And this was the turning point.

Almost immediately I realized that everything I’d been doing was wrong. My point of view jumped all over the place. The scene descriptions were pathetic. I’d thrown in so many obscure personal references that the story was getting lost in the minutiae (which no one cared about anyways!). So, after a humbling month of furious study, I finally had an actual plan.

I banged out the last twenty thousand words in a few weeks (ten thousand the last weekend alone), and immediately set about revising. As you can guess, I basically had to start from scratch. This time, however, I set about doing things properly. I started to look at my work as a writer, not as a reader. I approached it as you should, like a job. Because if you want to be an author, you better give it everything you’ve got. One year later, my second draft was done. After my test group read it (and shed tears of joy that it wasn’t more trash) I went through two further revisions before sending it off to an editor. Once that was done, I made some final tweaks, commissioned a cover artist, and uploaded it for the world to see.

Looking back, I can pick out three moments, three forks in the road, when I finally got it together and started to work like an actual writer and not some amateur.

First, when I began to research how you should actually write. The web is filled with invaluable advice from brilliant authors who are happy to share their expertise. Make use of it.

Second, when I started to read like a writer, not a reader. While reading I’d look for what made a scene work, what made me love the book. That was invaluable.

Finally, and I believe this is by far the most critical aspect to being a successful author, I made the decision to write every damn day. To write for as long as I could, be it twenty minutes or ten hours. No excuses.

That’s the short version of my odyssey to becoming an author. If I can do it, anyone can. Just make up your mind that you’re going to see it through to the end, and you’ll get there.

It just might take a while.

A Patriot’s Betrayal
The last thing Parker Chase expected to find after burying his murdered uncle was a cryptic letter from the dead man. Parker realizes that his uncles death was far more than a robbery gone bad and soon finds himself pursued by the very men who killed his uncle. Joined by his brilliant ex-girlfriend, Parker fights to stay one step ahead of a shadowy organization hell-bent on silencing him forever.
Desperate to uncover the truth behind his uncles death, Parker learns that he was killed after uncovering information about a centuries old mystery involving America’s Founding Fathers.
Both the CIA and the police join the death-dealing cabal of murderers in a chase to capture Parker, who must run for his life while unraveling the greatest conspiracy in American history.
Link to purchase:

Book marketing: Virtual tours by Jo Linsdell

I’m delighted to welcome Jo Linsdell for a special guest post on the subject of Virtual Book Marketing Tours. Jo Linsdell is the author and illustrator of the rhyming children’s picture book OUT AND ABOUT AT THE ZOO. Find out more about her at Take it away Jo …

Virtual tours are an excellent way to drum up interest in both you and your work. It’s a marketing strategy that I often use and find that the results aren’t just linked to better book sales. I’m currently touring to promote the release of my children’s picture book ‘Out and About at the Zoo’

Benefits of a virtual tour:

  • You sell more books. This is obviously one of the biggest goals of the tour. If you’re a multi published author, not necessarily just the title you are touring either.
  • It’s a great way to collect reviews for your book.
  • It helps build your online reputation.
  • It increases traffic to your sites. You’ll notice a rise in visits to your website, blog and social media pages during and just after a tour.
  • You can find new clients if you do freelance writing.

 Here’s a few tips to help you to tour success:

  1. Think about your tour goals. Knowing what you want to achieve with your tour will give you focus both for content and where you need to be hosted.
  2. Think about types of content. To keep a tour interesting you need to make the content of your posts varied. From my own experience I find that a few interviews, a couple of reviews and a lot of guest posts is the best combination. Why mainly guest posts? They create more discussion, appeal to a wider audience and normally get more attention.
  3. Create a banner for your tour. Not only does it make you look more professional, it also serves as an immediate publicity for you, your book, your website and your tour. Even if people don’t read all the post they will have seen the most important information just by clicking on the page.

My tour banner:

As you can see, this is a very simple banner. It includes; my book cover (the item I am promoting with the tour), My photo (an ‘on theme’ shot of me at my computer. Putting your face allows people to feel more connected to you), Virtual tour and the dates (what I am doing and when) and lastly my website url (so people can find out more about the tour, me and my work). 

This banner took me about 5 minutes to make using the program ‘paint’.

4. Target hosts. Whilst it’s always good to send out a general appeal for tour hosts you need to hit sites where your target audience are going to be e.g. for this tour I targeted review sites, authors sites, sites for children and parents.

Do some research and find sites that fit in some way with the topic of your book and drop them a message asking to be featured. Highlight why you are a suitable guest.

Also aim for sites with larger numbers of followers. The more traffic they get to their site the greater audience your post will have.

5. ALWAYS comment on your tour stops. A thank you to the host is a must. Checking back regularly can really help to get the conversation going too. Reply to all those who take the time to comment. 

If you have a comment to share about this post, my book or book marketing in general I’d love to hear from you, so just drop a note in the comments section :)


Out and about at the zoo

Written and illustrated by Jo Linsdell 

Rhyming text and colourful pictures accompany this fun day out discovering different animals at the zoo.

About the author:
Jo Linsdell is a freelance writer, author and illustrator. Originally from theUK, she now lives inRome,Italy with her husband and their two young sons.

Author website:

Release Date: 1st June 2012

Product details:

ISBN/EAN13: 1477446591 / 9781477446591
Page Count: 32
Binding Type: US Trade Paper
Trim Size: 6″ x 9″
Language: English
Colour: Full Colour with Bleed
Related Categories: Juvenile Fiction / Stories in Verse

Purchasing links:

Contact details:



5 Stars

“Out and About at the Zoo by Jo Linsdell is a delightful story set in rhyme about a boy and his mum. The two spend the day at the zoo and meet many animals along the way. Your child will enjoy reading this book time and time again. The colorful illustrations make this book a joy to read. Pick up a copy of this book and share a day at the zoo memory with your little one”.

By Kate Mueller, Author of Bella’s Birthday Surprise

5 Stars 

“Out And About At The Zoo is a cute book that describes a child’s memory filled trip to the zoo. Are you heading to the zoo and you would like to tell your kids what animals they will see there and what they might be doing? Then Out And About At The Zoo would be a great choice. Easy to understand and easy for children to read along with. It is filled with simple yet colorful pictures that even held my one year old’s attention!

Would also make a good gift for young readers who are just beginning to read!”

By Virginia L. Jennings, Author

Is blogging a waste of time?

In the old days, if you wanted to be heard in a crowd, you brought a soap box along and stood on it so you’d be visible. But what if everyone stood on a soap box? How could you be heard then?

I wonder if the current situation where every author has a social media platform – including Twitter, blogging, Facebook and Goodreads – is akin to everyone standing on a soap box. Is a social media platform enabling you to stand out from the crowd? Or simply making you a part of the crowd?

Today’s post is intended to be thought-provoking and raises more questions than answers. Consider the following:

  • If you get a new follower on Twitter who already follows 5,000 others, what is the likelihood that he’s going to engage with you, much less buy your book?
  • How many blog posts will it take before you get someone over the line and they decide to finally buy your book? 1 blog post? 5 posts? 10 posts?
  • Is it essential that you post regularly and religiously? Or once you’ve built up a store of posts, is that enough to give people a sense of who you are and what you’re about? Should you confine your social media activities to the immediate period before/after the release of a new book?
  • What is the purpose of a social media platform? An enjoyable activity? To connect with others? To sell books? To build up a brand or presence? To distract you from your writing?
  • How can you make your social media platform stand out? Are you simply using a soap-box that’s the same size as everyone else? Are you simply part of the crowd?

Perhaps the most important question of all: What return are you getting from your blogging and is it worth your while to keep doing it?

Interview with Author Sands Hetherington

For today’s post, I’m interviewing Sands Hetherington, who has just released a children’s book called Night Buddies and the Pineapple Cheesecake Scare. I started by asking Sands about his book and the suggested reading age.

Thanks for having me, Pete.  Maybe 7-9 years for reading, and 2 isn’t too young for listening.  The book is the first in a series featuring John, a young city kid who isn’t ready for bed yet, and Crosley, a bright-red crocodile who shows up in his room to rescue him and take him on an adventure.  Both of them are fond of pineapple cheesecakes, especially Crosley, and it so happens that the world’s supply of pineapple cheesecakes is mysteriously disappearing.  Major emergency, so our Night Buddies’ “program” for tonight is to find out what the problem is and set things to rights.  They sneak past John’s parents with Crosley’s invisibility doodad and ride the subway to the great (and only) pineapple cheesecake factory across town.  On the way Crosley explains why he is red.  He is red because he is allergic to water.  In a roundabout way, that is.  If he gets wet he breaks out doing the Black Bottom dance for hours and hours.  Unless he takes his antidote pills.  The pills stop the Black Bottoming well enough, but (you got it!) they turn him red.  They get to the pineapple cheesecake factory and meet Big Foot Mae the gigantic manager.  Crosley discovers what’s been happening to the pineapple cheesecakes, and that’s when the scare and all the crazy stuff really get started—–

How long did you have the idea for Night Buddies before you wrote it?

Actually it was my six-year-old son’s idea (whose name happens to be John).  We always had bedtime stories.  And one night out of whole cloth he presented me with a red crocodile named Crosley that he had invented for an after-lights-out companion.  We started making up John-and-Crosley episodes, and Crosley got to be a regular member of the family.  About a year later it got into my old head that this stuff might be decent fodder for a book.  I think I started writing stuff down a few months later.

When did you realise you wanted to be an author?

It was in tenth grade and there was this really foxy student English teacher named Ellen.  I handed in some sappy poetical piece and she gushed over it.  She was an older woman and spoken for, but that did it for me right then.

What’s the best part about being an author?

Mark Twain said it: “I hate writing.  I love having written.”

I love that quote and can relate to it myself as I’m currently trying to churn out my next novel. Do you have any tips for would-be authors?

Set yourself a schedule and really, really stick to it.  Three hours is plenty for most people.  If you try to go all day you will eventually give it up, but don’t ever skip your two or three hours.  Read and read and read, and never shirk this either.  And get out and look around you and have experiences.

What do you do when you’re not writing?

The short answer is everything else.  I used to be a single parent to young John and was a money manager and housekeeper and multisport little league dad.  Now I’m just a housekeeper and like to travel. 

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

Night Buddies, Imposters, and One Far-Out Flying Machine is the second book in the series and comes out this fall.  It starts the same way: It’s been awhile and John is wide-awake at bedtime again.  Crosley shows up per their Night Buddies contract and they sneak out of the house.  They borrow a really fantastic flying machine and fly off to investigate the vandalism that’s been happening all over town.  Vandalism by a red crocodile!  This book is much longer than the first one.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts today, Sands. I really enjoyed having you as a guest on my blog.

Thanks for letting me in, Pete.

The World of Ink Network will be touring author Sands Hetherington’s nighttime adventure for kids,  Night Buddies and the Pineapple Cheesecake Scare published by Dune Buggy Press all through July and August 2012.
You can find out more about Sands Hetherington’s World of Ink Author/Book Tour 

Night Buddies and the Pineapple Cheesecake Scare by Sands Hetherington is an after lights-out adventure story that will delight young readers and middle graders who relish roller coaster fantasy and fun, filled with unforgettable characters and an astonishing and inventive collection of magical whatchamacallits.

 The book is all about the night time adventures of a young boy named John, who is not ready to go to sleep, and his friend, a bright red crocodile named Crosley who turns up under John’s bed.

 They sneak out of John’s house using Crosley’s “I-ain’t-here-doodad” which makes them invisible to John’s parents. They then embark on an adventure chasing down enemies and cleaning up one mess after another as they solve the earthshaking mystery: who stole all the pineapple cheesecakes from the only factory in the world that makes them!

The investigation starts out fine but things get a little crazy when Crosley, who is allergic to water, gets wet.  Hilarious things happen when Crosley’s allergy to water kicks in, and when they get to the pineapple cheesecake factory and meet Big Foot Mae, the investigation gets more complicated and zany than either of them bargained for.

 Night Buddies is an astonishing and inventive adventure with unforgettable cast of characters that will make you laugh and win over your heart. The book has lots of thoughtful, multi-layered twists, giggles, and perils — things kids can relate to and enjoy. 

List $7.99
Paperback 128 pages Also available in Kindle and Nook
Publisher: Dune Buggy Press; One edition (June 1, 2012)
ISBN-10: 0984741712 ISBN-13: 978-0984741717

Available wherever books are sold and online. For more information visit

The story is filled with well-drawn fascinating characters embellished with some excellent illustrations by Jessica Love. The fonts change with emotion and circumstances, a fact that makes every page a little artwork that keep the child’s eye involved in the book. And just to make sure the youngsters reading this book have the inside information for a mystery, a glossary of ‘Night Buddies Uncommon Words’ is supplied – explaining ‘Jeeks’, ‘Wuff’, ‘Snerk!’ etc.  The 128-page book is packed with all-new picture drawings by illustrator Jessica Love.

About the Author

Sands Hetherington credits his son John for being his principal motivator. Sands raised his son as a single parent from the time John was six. He read to him every night during those formative years. He and young John developed the Crosley crocodile character in the series during months of bedtime story give-and-take. Sands majored in history at the University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill) and has an M.F.A. in creative writing and an M.A. in English from UNC-Greensboro. He lives in Greensboro.

 About the Illustrator

 Jessica Love grew up in California, with two artist parents. She studied printmaking and drawing at UC Santa Cruz, then went on to study acting at The Juilliard School in NYC.

Jessica currently resides in Brooklyn, New York, toggling back and forth between her work as an actor and her work as an artist.

 What People Are Saying

 “This little book is a winner!”

 —Grady Harp, Hall of Fame Amazon Reviewer

 “Hetherington seems to have the right ingredients for a classic children’s whodunit—talking animals, an unsolved mystery and a brave hero willing to face unforeseen foes…”