My Mission For You:

Don't let #Doubt extinguish your #Sparks. Find the #Sparks you need to ignite your stories, dreams, and life.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Empowering Women - Madeline Stuart

Every month I am highlighting an empowering woman. This month it is:

Madeline Stuart

Madeline Stuart is a young woman who became known for being the first person with Down Syndrome to model, which was always her dream.

In 2014, she saw a fashion show in Brisbane with her mother. and that’s where her dream began. After struggling with her weight, she lost 44 pounds. A year later, her mother started an online campaign to help Madeline land the coveted modeling contract, which led to not one, but two modeling contracts for Manifesta Fitness Wear and EverMaya Handbags.

Later, she participated in a bridal photoshoot for Rixey Manor and also appeared in Vogue. Since then, she’s been on the catwalk for New York Fashion Week twice, “becoming the second model with Down Syndrome at the event after Jamie Brewer. She also became the face of GlossiGirl (a cosmetic company).


All of this has led to Madeline being known at the first professional model with Down Syndrome in the world. If that’s not enough, she even had a bag named after her: The Madeline by Evermaya. All of its sales are donated to National Down Syndrome Society.

And her pictures are just stunning.

From her website:

“Maddy really wants to change the way people discriminate against disability through gaining attention through social media. She wants people to know that Down Syndrome is a blessing, something to be celebrated.” 


QUESTION: Have you seen Madeline's photos on Facebook or elsewhere?

Friday, November 10, 2017

Fighting with the Ending / Guest Post by Patricia Josephine / Mistakes of the Past

GUEST POST by Patricia Josephine

Fighting with the Ending:

I’m a panster, so when I write, I don’t have an outline or even a plan for the story. What starts me is a character or a scene that excites me and I can’t get it out of my head fast enough. I start writing with zero direction. That often means I have no idea how to end the story. I don’t figure it out until I’m there, staring at the screen, and wondering how to save the day.

The ending to Mistakes of the Past went through quite a few different versions before I finally got it right. Luc went from three chances at redemptions to one, back to three, then finally one. There was a sex scene, but that got axed. Another scene moved from one location to another. Parts got cut then added back in and adjusted to fit. Whole elements that I researched were discarded. Even lines I loved didn’t make the final cut.

It was quite the evolution. Sometimes you have to fight to get it right, to find the perfect resolution that readers love. I hope this ending is one that readers will enjoy. At the very least, I enjoy the ending. That’s got to be a good sign, right?


Luc seeks atonement for the actions that banished him from his home. Living as a priest in a small town, he strives to show how much he’s changed with the hope that one day he can return to his family.

Haunted by the guilt that destroyed her family, Rose has shut her heart off. She vows to never let anyone near again lest she hurt them. When she meets Luc, she can’t deny the draw she feels to him.

But the past is not easily forgotten. When Luc’s past finds him, Rose is caught in the middle. Forced to face who he used to be, Luc must decide if he’s willing to give up his chance at redemption to save Rose. But doing so means he won’t be able to hide who he is. Will Rose be able to reconcile the man she knows with the devil he used to be? Or are the mistakes of the past too damning?

Buy Links:


About the Author:

Patricia Josephine never set out to become a writer. In fact, she never considered it an option during high school and college. She was all about art. On a whim, she wrote down a story bouncing in her head. That was the start of it and she hasn't regretted a moment. She writes young adult under the name Patricia Lynne.

Patricia lives with her husband in Michigan, hopes one day to have what will resemble a small petting zoo, has a fondness for dying her hair the colors of the rainbow, and an obsession with Doctor Who.



Comment: Give Patricia some love!

QUESTION: Have you ever struggled with the ending for a story you were writing?

Monday, November 6, 2017

Books for Writers - Children's Writer's Word Book

Sherry Ellis recommended this book to me when I was helping my mom with her children’s story.

Writing for children can be tricky. There are several different genres including picture books, picture story books, easy readers, for specific age groups, and chapter books. Each of these have guidelines such as word count, age brackets, and reading levels. You really have to know the ins and outs of what type of children’s book you want to write and the age of your target readers.

Children’s Writer’s Word Book by Alijandra Mogilner & Tayopa Mogilner is a great tool to help you learn how to write a children’s book. This book is divided into 7 sections from kindergarten to grade 6th and middle grade. Under each section is a word list that all children learn at the level and can be in your story. There’s explanations for what children learn in the classroom at each grade level, publishing information such as what publishers expect in terms of length and content, and also short writing samples to give you an idea of how to write for each level.

At the end of the book, there’s a neat thesaurus that highlights common words and provides synonym alternatives for different grades.

EX: abandon (4th): desert (1st), discard (6th), give up (K), leave (1st), quit (1st), reject (5th), surrender (5th), yield (4th).

EX: zone (4th): area (3rd), arena (5th), belt (2nd), district (4th), field (2nd), part (1st), quarter 
(1st), ranger (3rd), realm (4th), region (4th), section (4th), space (1st), sphere (6th), territory (3rd), ward (5th).

If you want to write for children, but you don’t understand the levels and age groups, this book will assist you greatly.

QUESTION: Are there any words I shared above that surprise you with the grade level that they are for?

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

So, I Tried a Thing... / IWSG

The Insecure Writer's Support Group is a safe place for insecure writers of all kinds.
Sign up here: Insecure Writer’s Support Group 

YouTube: Alex had asked me: Where else can I go to promote my books online?

Here is my answer:


So, I tried a thing that didn't turn out as planned.

During the summer, I set up a talk at a local library. I wanted the practice because, back in January, I was asked to be the speaking author for a local chapter of writers who get together for an annual book and author luncheon. Everything I've done this year has been gearing me up for that, but I wanted to do a real in-person discussion and reading before that luncheon. That's where my local library came in. I promoted it as much as I could through social media and other authors in my area were kind enough to share the information. 

The big day came.

I set up my stuff.

And only one person came, fellow IWSGer, M.J. Fifield.

I am not a public speaker. I didn't want to forget anything, so I had my speech on paper. MJ let me practice reading my speech to her and gave me a pointer: to try to memorize my speech so next time I can use my printed speech as more of a guide. I'll do that next time, MJ. Or, at least, I'll try. lol

I had a feeling only my mom and MJ would be there. MY TRUE FANS! Yay! I was bummed that the other people I knew locally didn't come and that the library didn't do what I'd seen them do for other authors, but that happens. Even if something doesn't turn out, we learn from it.

At least I know the luncheon in January guarantees people will be there. Score!

I am doing something next month, though, a local book signing on November 18th with 49 other authors, one of which will be MJ! So far, I haven't had luck selling books at an event, but that has to change eventually, right? RIGHT?! 

(I didn't admit to this before, but that big event I did in June, it resulted in one book sale thanks to MJ buying a copy of Tsunami Crimes. In return, I bought Effigy from her. It was great for other reasons, though. I got a bunch of new subscribers, handed out stacks of postcards, and networked.)

So other than my "failure" at selling books at events, I just realized this post is also about MJ. She'll hate me for this but...three cheers for MJ!!!





QUESTION: Have you done an event that was a bust?

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Trick-or-Treat Reads Blog Hop - FREE EBOOKS


Trick-or-Treat Reads is an annual Halloween event where authors put their books for free and readers go trick-or-treating to get the books. BOOKS ARE THE CANDY!


Disaster Crimes Series:
Hurricane Crimes #1
Seismic Crimes #2
Lightning Crime #2.5
Tsunami Crime #3


A freak lightning storm unleashes its energy on Central Florida. Bolts of lightning crash to the ground. Torrential rain soaks everything within seconds. And the power goes out, casting Beth and Donovan’s apartment into darkness. Beth is already on edge after receiving a menacing phone call several months ago, and this storm doesn’t help with her nerves.

Donovan tries to distract her from Mother Nature’s tantrum, but someone else has other plans. When they find the front door to their apartment wide open, they soon realize it isn’t an accident. Someone is in their apartment with them.

What crime can happen as fast as lightning?



Monday, October 23, 2017

Diverse Characters - V + W


There’s been a lot of talk about adding diverse characters to fictional books. Most of the time, this is about including people of color if you’re a Caucasian writer, but all writers can add diverse characters to their books. And why stop at race? In this series, I’m going to list all sorts of diverse characters.

Note: I'm not knowledgeable about all types of people, so I'm skipping my usual tips in favor of letting others share their knowledge. See below 

**I won't be able to list them all, so here's a list of ethnic groups...with a list of even more lists at the bottom of the page. lol

Here are the diverse characters for V:









Public Domain
Vietnamese Individuals



Voodoo Priestesses

Here are the diverse characters for W:


Wealthy Individuals


Welsh Individuals




Wiccans (Real Witches)


Photo Credit

SHARE: If you can come up with more diverse characters that start with V or W let me know and I will add them to my list.

QUESTION: Do you have tips or Do's/Dont's for one of the characters I mentioned above? Share your advice for writing about those characters in your comment.

Have you written about a character from my list?

*All images are free to use.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Toi’s Top 5 Angel Books Blitz / #Kindle Sale + Paperback #Giveaway.

In celebration of author, Toi Thomas’ birthday, on October 21st, all her ebooks are on sale $0 - $1.99 from October 20th – October 24th. All these books are also available in print and come with reasonable shipping through, if you don’t have Amazon Prime. Check them out below and then stick around for Toi’s Top 5 Angel Books and giveaway.


Legend of the Boy, In the Window, and Other short stories 

sale $0.99 |Createspace $9.99

Collection of multi-genre stories including science fiction, romance, and paranormal. The first title story is that of a boy who must destroy the world so he can save humanity.

It’s Like the Full Moon 

sale $1.99 | Createspace $14.99

A romantic comedy and the first in a series. The mild-mannered Rebecca gets caught up in a most unlikely love-triangle and her BFF Lisa isn’t much help.

Eternal Curse: Giovanni’s Angel  

sale $1.99 | Createspace $14.99

Giovanni’s a creature out of time. Mira’s a doctor trying to classify him. Beauty and the Beast meet Jekyll and Hyde in this paranormal romance with biblical influences.

40 DAYS AND NIGHTs OF ETERNAL CURSE- a nonfiction companion guide to the novel
sale FREE | Createspace $5.99 

Eternal Curse: Battleground 

sale $1.99 | Createspace $14.99

A family saga that touches the past and future. Giovanni’s story will bring you to tears as loss and duty blur the lines of hope for what is to come.

BATTLEGROUND SURVIVAL 101- a nonfiction companion guide to the novel
sale FREE | Createspace $5.99 

Chip and Skip Need Each Other  
sale $0.99 | Createspace $9.99

What Does Joe Need 
sale $0.99 | Createspace $9.99

These two simple, yet vibrant stories teach young children, and those with special needs, the difference and importance of needs and wants, at home, school, and overall. Sold separately.

Plants and Animals Change Over Time 
sale $0.99 | Createspace $9.99

Land Changes Over Time 
sale $0.99 | Createspace $9.99

These two simple, yet vibrant stories teach young children, and those with special needs, the importance and inevitability of change in living things and the world. Sold separately.


Hi there; I'm Toi. If you aren’t familiar with me yet, don’t worry; this is your chance to learn that I love Batman, Betty Boop, Star Wars, and Angels. I like all kinds of angels. Good ones, bad ones, and creatures with wings that look like angels but may not actually be. I don’t think it’s just a matter of wings either. There are other winged creatures I like, such as dragons, but there are also some I don’t like such as flying monkeys or seagulls. LOL! But seriously, I’ve grown a fondness for angel lore and stories about and or containing angel-like creatures. Heck, I even write about them in my Eternal Curse Series. While my books are influenced by Bible tales, a great many angel stories are not. Either way, if it’s about angels, I’m probably going to like it. So, here’s a list of the Top 5 angel books (or books with an angel or angel-like character) I’ve read in at least the last ten years, and in no particular order.

Angelfall - Book Depository | Amazon

The Conduit - An older edition cover; same awesome story. 

The Devil’s Daughter - Book Depository | Amazon

Mercury Falls - Book Depository | Amazon

Secret in the Wings - Amazon

If you like angels or supernatural and urban fantasy stories, you should enter my paperback giveaway (open to US only) of the books mentioned above. I’ve enjoyed them and hope you will too. If you are looking for discounted print books with free international shipping, give Book Depository a try. Thanks for celebrating my birthday with me... And remember, book reviews are every author's life force. :)

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Monday, October 16, 2017

Empowering Women - Viktoria Modesta

Every month I am highlighting an empowering woman. This month it is:

Viktoria Modesta

I found out about Viktoria Modesta a few years ago through Facebook when her debut song “Prototype” come out. She is a Latvian-born English singer with a prosthetic leg. She suffered health struggles from birth, leaving her with a dysfunctional leg after 15 surgeries. Inspired by creative imagery of Alexander McQueen and Matthew Barney, she had her lower limb amputated and replaced with a prosthetic to finally have control over her body. This was the end of her limitations and soon she entered the music scene.

She uses her creativity to mix “fashion, sensuality, and physical augmentation in a progressive way.” What she does with her prosthetic is much like what Lady Gaga did with her outfits.

Vikoria is bringing a new awareness to people with physical augmentations, and she's fighting the stigma that augmentation is ugly. She's never identified herself as disabled or let herself be constrained by her physical body.

She was also part of Coldplay’s performance at the Paralympics in 2012 where she portrayed the Amazing Snow Queen.

She is a model, singer, and fashion icon.

In 2014, she launched a collaboration with Chanel 4 for the campaign Born Risky, presenting herself as the world’s first bionic popstar. It was this video that amazed me. What she does with her prosthetic is stunning.

Her video starts with this message: “Forget what you know about disability…”

Check it out:

Warning: Some parts are strange and suggestive. 

Monday, October 9, 2017

Books for Writers - The Artist's Way

NOTE: I will be giving away a paperback copy of this book in my October 24th newsletter. Are you subscribed? Make sure you are so you have a chance to enter. Sign Up Here

If you’re not a spiritual person, there are things about this book that you may not like, but there are also things that you’ll benefit from. NOTE: There are mixed reviews. Much of the book I didn’t connect with, but many techniques I found to be smart and clever.

One of these techniques is morning pages. Julia Cameron encourages you to wake up each morning, and before you do anything (even have the first cup of coffee), write 3 pages of whatever comes to mind. It doesn’t have to make sense or be descriptive. “Nothing is too petty, too silly, too stupid, or too weird to be included.” Even if all you write about are your problems, get it down, because that negativity is lowering your creativity.

Julia discusses our censor. This is where out critic is, and Julie says, “always remember that your censor’s negative options are not the truth.” She prompts us to find a cartoon image of our censor (perhaps the shark from JAWS), put an X through it, and post it where we write.

“Just making the censor into the nasty, clever little character that it is begins to pry loose some of its power over you and your creativity.”

And two pieces of advice that rang true to me: 

“Judging your early artistic efforts is artistic abuse.”

“…you must be willing to be a bad artist. Give yourself the permission to be a beginner. By being willing to be a bad artist, you have a chance to be an artist, and perhaps, overtime, a very good one.”

This book is also a 12-week course “to becoming and discovering your creative self.” Julia walks you through tasks to help you get to know yourself and your dreams, and she pushes you to meet those dreams by taking easy steps. Some of these may seem silly, but I’ve always enjoyed self-help books. I couldn’t do all of the lessons because I got the book from the library, but I did create wish lists.

QUESTIONS: What image would you use for your censor?

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

I'm Stepping into the Audiobook World / IWSG

The Insecure Writer's Support Group is a safe place for insecure writers of all kinds.
Sign up here: Insecure Writer’s Support Group 


A couple of months ago, I found out my publisher was doing audiobooks for their authors. I immediately put in a request for all of the Disaster Crimes books. On September 17th (Sunday), I got an email letting me know all of the books' applications were uploaded to The next night (Monday), I was given 5 auditions for Hurricane Crimes!

It was strange and neat to hear my words come to life. I chose an audition I liked where the narrator did a marvelous job of not only sounding real but added emotion. The contract was sent to her for Hurricane Crimes. There might be a male narrator for the other books, which I'm okay with since Hurricane Crimes was only in Beth's POV, but the other books include Donovan's POV. 

Now I'm going to have to figure out how to promote audiobooks. ANY IDEAS?


Yolanda Asked Me: Can an Author make a Success of His or Her Books without being on Social Media? This video provides my answer.


For October/November, the IWSG Book Club is reading: 

The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

In a poll in our group, structure was voted #2 for what our members want to learn more about, and this book is a great example of story structure that works.

The discussion will begin November 22nd.



My very own ebook Ghost of Death is part of this prize! :)

To celebrate the release of her latest novel, Carry Me Homeauthor Jessica Therrien is hosting a HUUUGE BACK TO SCHOOL BOOK GIVEAWAY! The giveaway includes nearly 50 books, all from different authors. Keep scrolling for prize info and how to enter the giveaway.

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Friday, September 29, 2017

Meet the Muse / CARRY ME HOME by Jessica Therrien

Book Title: Carry Me Home
Publisher: Acorn Publishing
Date of Publication: September 26, 2017


1. Tell us about your recent release. 

CARRY ME HOME is a fictional novel inspired by the true story of a teenage girl’s involvement in several Mexican gangs in San Jose and Los Angeles. The members of her crew call her, Guera, Spanish for “white girl” and it doesn’t take long for her to get lost in their world of guns and drugs.

* * *

Lucy and Ruth are country girls from a broken home. When they move to the city with their mother, leaving behind their family ranch and dead-beat father, Lucy unravels.

They run to their grandparents’ place, a trailer park mobile home in the barrio of San Jose. Lucy’s barrio friends have changed since her last visit. They’ve joined a gang called VC. They teach her to fight, to shank, to beat a person unconscious and play with guns. When things get too heavy, and lives are at stake, the three girls head for LA seeking a better life.

But trouble always follows Lucy. She befriends the wrong people, members of another gang, and every bad choice she makes drags the family into her dangerous world.

Told from three points of view, the story follows Lucy down the rabbit hole, along with her mother and sister as they sacrifice dreams and happiness, friendships and futures. Love is waiting for all of them in LA, but pursuing a life without Lucy could mean losing her forever.

Ultimately it’s their bond with each other that holds them together, in a true test of love, loss and survival.

2. Who is your muse?

My muse would have to be my sister. Carry Me Home is about her. The things that happen in the book are 90% true. She not only inspired me to write the story, she continues to inspire me daily with how strong she is.

3. What does your muse look like?

Well here’s a picture of her, then and now:

4. Describe your muse’s personality.

Stubborn, resilient, unstoppable, which can all be good or bad depending on what she’s trying to accomplish. In her teenage years, it got her into a LOT of trouble.

5. How do you tempt your muse to work?

I beg her, lol. This book started as her memoir. She wrote about 40 pages and stopped. Once I got her blessing to finish it, she would send me memories and I would mold them and fit them into the story. But she has 3 kids now, and a full-time job, so getting the good stuff required a fair share of hounding her.

6. When/where does your muse inspire you the most?

Every day. While I was writing I felt especially inspired, because I would read her memories and think, “This didn’t really happen, did it?!” But, most of it did. I still feel amazed that she came out of it and got her life together. Even to this day she empowers me to be better, stronger, more grateful for the little things.

7. Has your muse ever gone on strike?

I think we all did a few times. My mom, my sister, and I all wrote the first draft together. It took us several years to get through it. We’re all happy we did, though.

8. What would your muse’s motto be to get your butt into gear?

Life is tough. So what. Get over it.

9. What was your relationship like with your muse while writing CARRY ME HOME?

Best friends. Still are.

10. Are you and your muse working on something new?

No, she’s not a writer. But I’m co-writing another YA book with screenwriter Joe Gazzam. It’s a suspense thriller. Can’t wait to share more about it!


Jessica Therrien is the author of the young adult series Children of the Gods. Book one in the series, Oppression, became a Barnes & Noble best-seller shortly after its release. Her trilogy has been translated and sold through major publishers around the world, such as Editions AdA (Canada), EditionsMilan (France), and SharpPoint Press (China).

Aside from her Children of the Gods series, Jessica is the author of a kid’s picture book called, The Loneliest Whale. Her award-winning stories can also be found in a published anthology of flash fiction.

Jessica currently lives in Irvine with her husband and two young sons. She is working on an a YA suspense thriller series and a middle grade fantasy series.

Author Links:


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