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Bish Denham's List Blohhop: Top Unreliable Narrators

Bish Denham: The Listing Hop, Question of the Month,  a Win,  and Being Thankful:

Now That's my kind of bloghop:  A Listing Hop. How fun. I love making lists. I make list of the lists I need to make each day. Anyone else do the same? C'mon, you're among friends here.

Bish has been making lists most of her life, but the idea for this blog hop came from Ray Bradbury's book, Zen In the Art of Writing.

This fest will be so easy and fun it should probably be a crime.

Well, that's all I needed to hear from Bish, and I was on board.

You had me at "crime."

A quick breakdown of the very simple rules: {and I'm taking the rules straight from her blog, so there is no confusion ... they are her rules, not mine. But, to simplify and for clarity, I'm copying her rules, word for word.

The rules are simple. All you have to do is sign up in the linky thingy below, grab the banner, and make a list. I suggest you keep your list to between 5 and 25 items long. We'll visit each other on October 26th.

You can list whatever you feel like (except for adult type content). That's it! Of course, if you'd like to help spread the word, I'm not going to fuss at you.

And, if this bloghop does well, it will become an annual October event!

Here are some examples from Bish's blog of lists you might choose: Really the options are endless.

Think about it, the ideas are endless.
You could list:
favorite trees/animals/flowers/insects/pets
favorite books/movies/actors/heroes/villains/music/concerts you've been to
places you'd like to go/places you've been to
make a bucket list
favorite food/desserts/drinks
favorite names
favorite scientists/mathematicians/artists
favorite activists/saints/prophets
favorite myths/mythological places/gods/goddesses
your morning/evening routine
important things to pack when going on vacation
what to take on a picnic
biggest fears
greatest loves
the birthdays of your family members
things you like/dislike doing
foods you don't like to eat
pictures of your cat/dog
cars you've owned
places you've lived/schools you've attended
musical instruments you play
important moments in history you've lived through
historical eras you'd like to have lived in
famous people (dead or alive) that you'd like to meet

And there you have it, Bish came up with a 25 to 50 point list, listing things, without even thinking about it. 

And while you're thinking about it, hop over to L. Diane Wolfe's Spunk on a Stick, for a real treat. She takes you on an an adventure to my favorite places in the world. Amusement Parks. I haven't had a chance to scroll through the blog hop yet, but I will this week. And I'm sure, the mighty ninja and co-host of this fun blog hop, Alex J. Cavanaugh, will have some fun, interesting lists full of knowledge and tid bits we will all learn from.

So, now ... for my list ... 

I'm tying my list into NaNoWrimo theme for this year:

Unreliable Narrators:

I've been studying unreliable narrators, which means I've been re-reading some of my favorite novels; reading some of the classics, I've never read and I've tried quiet a few that were suggested by many of my blogger friends and I've also found a few recommendations from the comment section of other blogs, Amazon & Goodreads. Some, I've fallen hard for. Others, I couldn't manage to complete, but hey ... we can't all love the same books and actors now can we.

The first 10 in my list are my absolute, all time favorite stories told with unreliable narrators:

1. The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson
2. The Girl on the Train by  Paula Hawkins
3. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
4. Defending Jacob by William Landay
5. Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haass { this book actually has a little story to go along with it. I really wish I could remember the name of the blogger who recommend this incredible book, because it blew me away and left Gone Girl and the others in the dust)

 But, you see, I couldn't find the damn book I was looking for because the dark psychological thriller written with an unreliable narrator that I was searching all over the world for, with the title, Dangerous Girls, was authored by, Abby McDonald, and I googled and searched online and inside every actual book store and apparently this dark and disturbed writer who made Gillian Flynn and Amazing Amy seem like Barbie and Marie Osmond, didn't exist. Abby was a ghost. A figment of someone's imagination and that person was hell bent on playing a cruel joke on me. Which, of course, if you know me, only intensified my search to find this Abby McDonald and demand to know why she had entered the witness protection program. It turns out the the mystery surrounding Abby McDonald Haass' real life is nothing as sinister as her deeply disturbing psychological thriller, Dangerous Girls. She does indeed exist and she is alive and well.

Fortunately for me, I discovered another blogger who directed me to Abby under her new ...  last name. Thank you Writer of Wrongs. Without you, I  might never have discovered Abby McDonald is now Abby Haass. However, my initial problem remained. I did finally get my hands on Abby's book, and it just might be my favorite psychological thriller to date. Which is why, her own blog post about her sales broke my heart. I'm not that far along in my own career, but it saddened me. Abby has a contract with Simon and Schuster UK, but apparently they weren't impressed with her her sales and won't be bringing her beloved book to the U.S.

You should read Abby's words. She passionately talks about her readers sending her tweets that Dangerous Girls is their favorite book. Having read it, I can see why. Abby's finally plot twist rivals any other I've ever seen and believe me, you don't see this one coming.  The author is truly devoted to her fans and despite having a contract with Simon and Schuster in the U.K., she has self published Dangerous Girls in the U.S and her sequel Dangerous Boys. Read more about Dangerous Girls & Abby Haass here.

6.  The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick

7. The Usual Suspects

8.  The Catcher in the Rye by J.D Salinger

9. The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith

10. American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis

The remaining in my list are all favorites of mine, but they are not in any particular order.

11. Until You're Mine by Samantha Hayes

12.  In the Woods  by Tana French

13.  The King of Lies by John Hart

14. Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver

15. We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

16. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie 

Unreliable Narrator: Insecure Writers Support Group

Insecure Writers Support Group; NaNoWrimo & Writing a Novel with an Unreliable Narrator:

Greetings fellow writers & IWSG members. Another month has flown by and it's time to share our insecure feelings and support one another. As always, I want to give a shout out and a great big thanks to Alex Cavanaugh, the vigorous creator of this rewarding group.

Today's co-host are: TB MarkinsonTamara NarayanShannon LawrenceStephanie Faris & Eva E. Solar. So make sure you visit each one of the cosponsors as they have a busy day (and night) ahead of them and they go out of their way visiting each of our blogs. They not only visit our blogs, they read our posts and they pay attention to our content. These selfless co- host engage us in conversation and genuinely seem to care about our struggles and insecurities. Sure, they leave comments, but that's not the end of of what some of you might think of as their obligatory duty.  I've noticed that if you reciprocate, the co- host continue visiting and before long you've made a new friend ... and that, my dear blogger buds, is what blogging is all about. 

Yup ... that's what it's all about. Connections. 

You put your left foot in ... you take your left foot out ... you put your left foot in and you shake it all about ... you do the hokey pokey and you turn yourself around ... That's what's it's all about!

We all want friends and connections so it stand to reason, we have to put in the time and effort. I'm the first to admit that I'm not the best blogger. That's why I never complain about lack of connections or lack of followers or comments, but it irks the crap out of me when I read posts from people who complain about their readership. It irks me even more when I notice the leeches who follow simply to up their number then quit following. 
I love that word. Leeches. But I can't take credit for it. L Diane Wolfe nailed it though & I know some other bloggers including myself who've had our own share of bad experiences with Internet trolls and they are anything but cute little deformed creatures living under bridges. Many of them are lonely. Some are unstable. Others are just vindictive, but some can be dangerous.

 I "borrowed," the term leeches from, L. Diane Wolfe, in an article where she blasts the Blog Leeches & Trolls, for following just to you to follow them, visit them, feature them, or list them in your sidebar. And then there are the trolls who comment just to harass you or get a rise out of you. Hail to Diane! But, that's not my gripe, I mean insecurity or my topic of the day

 NaNoWriMo 2015

I've Finally Decided to Participate in NaNo this Year 

But what I'm most insecure about this:

I’ve been tossing around the idea of writing a novel with an unreliable narrator. I know … either love the idea or your hate it. If done well it’s a mind-blowing literary device full of unpredictable plot twists. If not, the the story tanks. 

After Gillian Flynn’s breakout novel and blockbuster movie Gone Girl, just about every fourth book jacket I come across compares their story to Gone Girl: If Your Liked Gone Girl, you will love …

     On the Heels of Gone Girl we had another breakout novel, The Girl on the Train, and the book jacket hype ramped back up with a with a two book comp: Fans of Gone Girl & The Girl on Train will devour

The unreliable narrator can be unreliable for a variety of reasons. A liar, such as Verbal Kint, in one of my all time favorite movies, The Usual Suspects; an alter ego, in Fight Club, or Multiple Personality Disorder as in the novel and film Psycho. Many critics claim that the main narrator in the novel, The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins, wasn’t a true unreliable narrator, rather a simple drunk who couldn’t recall the events as they occurred when she got pissed (Brit for drunk).

The reason I keep referring back to The Girl on the Train is because this is the book that sparked the seed in me that continued growing and wouldn’t die. It eventually won me over and now I’m hell bent on writing a story with an unreliable narrator. For those of you who read the novel, you may remember it being told from the POV of three women. Rachel, Megan & Anna. Rachel is the drunk, Megan is the missing girl and Anna is the woman now married to Rachel’s ex husband. Most of the story is told from Rachel’s POV, until the third act. In the third act or part four (if you follow Larry Brooks' story telling structure) the three alternating POV'S continue, but more of the story is told from Anna's present POV and it continues alternating from Megan's past POV right up unit the moment she was killed which eventually catches up with the other two female POV characters. Rachel’s story is told out of order and begins before she disappears and ends when she is killed. The author uses a fascinating storytelling method of alternating POVS and alternates between past and present.

Throughout the story, I didn’t really root for Rachel as the protagonist and I suppose she was she was the protagonist as she was the character who changed the most, but I did grow to like her more as she attempted to change her life. She gave up drinking, made her life better and in the end, she made an ultimate sacrifice, even saving the woman who ruined her life.  I didn’t feel one way or the other about Anna. I didn’t really like or or dislike her. If I had to choose. I guess I leaned more toward disliking her, just because she she didn’t appear to have an ounce of sympathy for Rachel and she didn’t seem to care at all about the poor girl gone missing, other than how poorly it reflected on her as a mother. She and her husband had used the girl as a babysitter in the past. Anna just rubbed me the wrong way, but there wasn't anything specific I could pinpoint. Megan was missing from the beginning so it would be wrong to form an opinion one way or the other about her. We knew she was cheating on her husband, but it's not my place to judge. She was a young woman and regardless of her fidelity, no one deserves to die. I'm not going to go into the male characters in this post. In a review I certainly would. Of course I would. I would have to. I'm touching on the females simply to give you the reason I feel compelled to tackle an unreliable narrator.

Very close to the ending, however, something that Anna said, struck me as extremely disturbing. She let on about creating a fake Facebook page in her husband’s name for the sole purpose of posting family photos and comments so it would appear her husband made the comments. She knew his ex-wife would read the comments. She hoped the fake comment would hurt her husband's ex-wife so badly they would drive her to drink and injure herself. Anna didn't stop there You see, Rachel was a really bad drunk. Anna truly hoped when Rachel read the comments and believed that Scott wrote them (he didn't - Anna wrote them, pretending to be Scott) Anna hoped Rachel would get so drunk she would injure herself and that would ensure she would no longer be a part of Scott's life. 

I had to re-read that passage. Up until that point, I had no idea the suburban housewife and mom had a devious streak. Vindictive. Jealous. But Why? She had nothing to be jealous of. As the book continues we learn just how devious Anna is. She isn’t the killer or anything, but ever since I read that book, my mind has been playing the “What if,” game, every writer plays, and I’ve conjured up all kinds up wicked and mentally unstable characters.

What kind of person would do that? What kind of person would deliberately create a fake Facebook page and pretend to be her husband and write messages that purport to be from him for the sole purpose of hurting another person with the hope of causing the other person serious bodily harm? What happened to that person to cause them to become the way they are today? What is their problem? What is their fatal flaw? What is their secret? What is their wound?  

If the past is to blame for who we are today, what happened in this character’s past? I’m going to spend the rest of this month digging deep into my character study so I can get a jump start in November. 

What do the rest of you do to really get to know your characters, warts, wounds, flaws, secrets, lies, traumas and all? Have you ever studied your villains as deeply as you’ve studied your protagonists? This is weird, because when writing a story with an unreliable narrator it feels like my MC is a villain. Is she? Can I make her redeemable? Or do I want to? Would that ruin the story?

How do we unearth from our character’s past, her emotional trauma? Where do I dig to find her wound? If she’ll do anything within her power to avoid suffering it again and keep it hidden, where do I begin? Where is the lie buried? This should be a fun month? 

Is she mental unstable? 

Or just evil? 

Cruel? Or does she suffer from a personality disorder? Was she abandoned by someone as a child? Betrayed? Hurt? Bullied? The ugly duckling? I think I will start with Angela & Becca over @ Writers Helping Writers 

Elizabeth Spann Craig will be by my go to girl for advice and tips. I just discovered this article on her blog. She explains why some people don't like unreliable narrators and what kind of unreliable narrators make us feel cheated. 150 Thoughts on Unreliable Narrators.

What do you think of unreliable narrators?

Call me a sucker ... but I loved this book and the movie, and yes, I even liked the ending. I saw no other possible way it could end. 

Feeling insecure about anything this month?

Have you visited the other writers?

Dynamic Writing 1 - by Tyrean Martinson - Dynamic Writing Lessons for Middle School Students

Need Help Getting Middle School Students Excited About Writing?

How hard is it to get your middle school child/student fired up and excited about a writing assignment? I feel certain that teachers often struggle to come up with new, fresh, innovative ways to capture and keep the attention of their tween and teen students.

I have the answer you've been searching for.

 Well, I don't have it ...  I didn't create it or write it, but I did read an excellent book that will change the way teachers and home school parents approach writing with middle school students.

Tyrean Martinson, author of Dynamic Writing (Everyday Writing Volume 1) has authored the perfect book for teachers and parents. This is one book you will want to add to your current curriculum. Martinson offers enough lessons, games, and challenges for middle school writing that her book could replace your current resources for engaging middle school students in dynamic and creative writing.

Dynamic Writing 1 is a full curriculum of writing for one year.

This is what the author, Tyrean Martinson has to say about Dynamic Writing 1:

"Dynamic Writing 1 is available in complete form in paperback through Amazon. Containing 161 Lessons for Middle Grade Students, this curriculum is meant for a complete year of home-school, home-school co-op, or classroom use. Eighteen of the lessons are "double" lessons and may be split over two days worth of time to extend the school year to 179 days with a planned celebration day at the end. Teaching notes, grade sheets, a resource list, and extra writing prompts are included in the text, as well as an answer key at the back of the book for the writing exercises. Within a year, students will study journal writing and essay writing, with short forays into fiction and poetry. Specific instruction in sentence variations, similes, and other writing concepts is spread over the course of the book and reviewed throughout the year so that students can wrestle with these concepts over the full course. "

Now Let me share with you what I have to say about Dynamic Writing 1:

I normally review fiction and occasionally I review non fiction, usually writing craft books for the novelist. When I review a book I like to begin with what I liked about the book and follow that with what I didn't care for.

What I Liked about Dynamic Writing 1: A lot:

What I Didn't Care For: Can't think of one thing I disliked about this book

I like how functional this book is. It has unlimited potential, and can be used by anyone. A teacher can add the book to her school's current curriculum. A parent can use the book for home school lessons. A parent, like me, whose child attends a public or private school, can use this book to help the child gain a better understanding of writing or to encourage creativity.

I absolutely love the journal entry idea and that spelling and grammar are not graded during this brainstorming activity. This encourages the kids to turn off their inner editor and write without all the inhibitions that so often paralyze young writers. This free writing is what will lead our kids to their most creative and imaginative work.

The author gives many easy to follow examples of every type of writing. She provides lists and examples. In addition, Martinson provides examples of how the student's work should be graded.

Her book encourages parents and teachers to help students develop their own unique writing voice and she also demonstrates how to teach more structured writing.

Her journal prompts are amazing. They give the student the perfect push to spread their creative wings.

One of my favorite things about the book is that the author provides a plethora of lists. A list will prevent students from staring down at a blank piece of paper while their mind goes blank on them.

I keep going back to the author's use of lists. She offers a list for everything. List of books. List of books I've read. List of books to be read ... my TBR list. A list of all the books I've read during my lifetime ... last year. A list of books I didn't like. A list of books that had an impact on me. Martinson's variety of lists will enable even the most reluctant writer to feel they have something to share.

I've been praising the author for her fresh and unusual approach to writing for middle school students, but she also teaches basic writing, such as format and useful topics like subject - verb - predicate and sentence variation.

I love that the author teaches students to use concrete words rather than vague words.

The author really makes use of the journal and drawing and other unconventional techniques to pull the vibrant writing out of the students. She uses an abundance of exercises, games, and challenges that require the student to experience sensory perception in a hands on way.

Another of my favorite learning adventures from Dynamic Writing 1, was the author's use of columns and charts to emphasize each of the senses. I used this right away with my son, an 8th grade student. He now understands sensory perception and how to write with all of the senses, not just sight or sound. He has a new appreciation for envisioning and feeling sensations prior to writing his first word. He raves to his friends about this lesson.

I like that the author recognizes the popular use of sentence fragments, but does not use them for this course.

I truly adored the loss of sense journal prompt because my daughter is hearing impaired.

You will reach even the most hesitant, wary or disinclined writer with the use of Dynamic Writing 1. 

The author's approach to teaching and learning is above reproach. She offers games, campfire journal stories, timed journals, easy use of time transitions and she makes learning fun and challenging. She does so in a way that ensures the student will remember each assignment and lesson forever, rather than just memorizing rules for the sole purpose of completing an assignment. Martinson's book teaches all of the writing fundamentals and offers oodles of resources outside the book.

I highly recommend this book for any parent or teacher who strives to reach middle school students. This book will teach the joy of writing, creativity and individuality while never failing to expound upon the integral components of writing.

Does your middle school aged child or student need extra encouragement for writing? Do you want to inject passion into a student's writing? Then you can't go wrong with Dynamic Writing 1 by Tyrean Martinson. Buy it now at Amazon.

Book Release: The Amaranthine by Murees Dupé & Other Announcements

The Amaranthine is now Available:

Is that an alluring cover or what?

It is such an honor for me to announce the release of Murees Dupé's debut novel:

Title: The Amaranthine (Thelum Series)
Author: Murees Dupé
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Release Date: 8 September 2015

Claire is sassy, human, and an outcast of societywho only wants to know where she belongs. 

Alex is arrogant, selfish, and an immortal warriorwho thinks he’s prepared for everything. 

Claire knows the world of immortals is where she belongs. As her guide and guardian, Alex finds it hard to resist Claire’s subtle charm. Can the two overcome their differences and embrace their passion for each other, or will the possibility of true love be lost to both forever?

Find your copy here:
E-book: Kindle * Nook * Ibooks * Kobo 
Paperback: Amazon

About the Author
Murees Dupé was born and still lives in South Africa. When she is not thinking up new stories, she is spending time with her family, playing with her three dogs and cat, watching TV, or overindulging on desserts. To learn more about Murees, visit her website

I would like to add something here. Murees is one of the very first bloggers I connected with when I started blogging. She has been a loyal friend. Murees is a dedicated author/blogger and she always has time to help new or fellow bloggers and authors. While I'm always excited when a fellow author announces the release of their debut novel, with Murees I feel like the blogging world and all authors should join in the happy dance with her.

I hope you will share this blog post announcing the release of The Amaranthine with all of your friends, not just your writer friends. Way to go Murees! We're all so very proud of you and wish you a long and successful career as an amazing author. You deserve it.

Other Announcements:

Do you have a completed, polished, unpublished manuscript that is query ready? If so, don't dare miss out on Brenda Drake's #PitMad - a Twitter Pitch Party It takes place on Twitter, tomorrow, September 10, 2015. Don't worry ... if your novel isn't quite ready, you'll have another opportunity for #PitMad on December 4, 2015. 
For more tips on Twitter Pitching, check out Carissa Taylor's Twitter Pitch Party Roundup. Her article is chock full of advice, tips and links to just about everything you need to know before pitching your novel on Twitter.

Carissa shares How To's, Past Winning Pitches & a Pitch Contest Calendar. You'll want to bookmark this page.

Carissa Taylor even includes some fun links like her Pitch Factory - a Twitter Pitch Logline Generator

So, I gave it a try. I opted for the High Stakes Pitch and was directed to the YA Writer's Toolbox - High Stakes Pitch Generator. It works for all genres, not just Young Adult. I typed in my answers to the questions and the generator spit out about twenty pitches for me. With a little tweaking here and there, some of them were quite good.

I just tried it again and this is what the generator popped out for me. Feel free to critique my pitch in the comment section. 

This is the generated pitch, before I tweak it. Just curious what you think:

Ambitious prosecutor has 2 options: Expose illegal adoption attorney & risk losing son or leave innocent person on death row. #PitMad #A

Even with adding the hashtag for #PitMad and #A for Adult it leaves 5 spaces on Twitter. I need to work on it and I'm not sure I'm going to jump in tomorrow. I keep putting it off, but I feel like I will have a better chance in December and I want to make sure my first encounter with visiting agents is a good one and I leave a good impression. Nerves? Yes. How to figure out if it's just nerves and fear of putting myself out there or if I really need more time and work on my manuscript before I put it out there. What a question.

Another Fabulous Contest: 

Miss Snark's First Victim - On the Block takes place tomorrow as well. This is an auction type contest. On the Block will showcase 24 first pages. There is a $20 entry fee for this contest.

My Last Announcement: well, this isn't really my announcement, but a recommendation that you pop over to Cherie Reich's Blog for her List of September Book Releases ... it's a big un!

Please don't forget to stop by Murees Dupè's Site and check out her fantastic debut novel, The Amaranthine or better yet, pop over to Amazon and purchase your copy of Amaranthine by Murees Dupè now!

So have any of you entered Twitter Pitch Contests? Any luck? 

Have you read Murees Dupé's debut novel, The Amaranthine?

Have you checked out all the new releases for September?

Tweet: Book Release: The Amaranthine by Murees Dupé

Insecure Writer's Support Group (IWSG)

September's Insecure Writer's Support Group Post

It's been a long time since I've joined in on the IWSG post. The IWSG posts are published on the first Wednesday of every month. I wish I could say it's because I've been feeling so confident and on top of everything that I've learned to push all insecurity from my life. Yeah right! 

Show me someone who doesn't feel insecure about something major in their life and I bet they aren't being truthful. 

We are all insecure and that's okay.  It's healthy, actually. Now listen to me ...  the amateur pop psychologist. 

My Biggest Insecurity Relates to Time:

I feel like my non writer family and friends don't understand the lengthy process of writing a novel and having it published. 

"You're still writing a book? But, that's what you were doing all summer?" Or. "I thought you wrote that book last year. It isn't in the stores yet?" 

When will I feel secure enough to think of myself as a full time author and not someone who writes as a hobby?

Being a writer or anyone in a creative field, I believe adds another layer to our insecurities. We don't produce daily or weekly tangible results of our current work. It's hard for non writers to fully comprehend how much time and effort is involved in the process of writing a novel or whatever you happen to write. There is so much more to it than just jotting down words that turn into sentences. I always wanted to write a book, but until I seriously decided to make it happen, I didn't realize the extent of work involved. Sure we write, but that's just the tip of the beginning. 

Then comes rewriting, and revising and more rewriting and revising. Then, if you're lucky enough to figure out what you're doing, you can take all of your newly acquired knowledge and apply it to your work. If you're like me, not only was your first draft crap, but maybe you're entire first book was crap. Only after learning the craft and acquiring better skills can you apply them, but for some of us it takes a really long time to let all of that sink in. We've worked so hard on our first book, the one we think is going the be the next greatest novel, that we are reluctant to let part or all of it go ... and begin again. That part, for me, took years. When I finally accepted that if I wanted to become a published author, I had to be able to recognize my earlier work for what it was. It was the story inside of me that needed to come out, but not for the world. That's hard to accept.

I love that quote and it applies to writers as much as actors.

Once we accept it, we can truly begin to write a novel.

Then comes the really hard revisions and rewrites, followed by our critique partners' showing us all the areas that need improvement. That plot hole or a character's arc that needs further development. Once we finally get it to the next level, we have to find beta readers and then make more revisions. For many of us the next step is a developmental editor followed by a copy editor, then a line editor. Once we have a final and polished draft are we there yet? Hell no.

Now comes the even harder part. Sending your work out there in the form of a query or pitch and waiting for the rejection letters until finally we are matched with an agent. Is that the end? Hell no. Our fabulous agent might require boatloads of change and more revisions. The fabulous agent has to be able to find an editor for a publishing company willing to take a look. What I'm saying is that the road to publication is long and hard and along the way, we feel insecure.  And from I've read from many of your who are already multi-published authors, the insecurity doesn't end there. Reviews, sales, marketing, our next book. The list is endless.

In my lifetime, I've witnessed a plethora of insecurity. There are two very different kinds of insecure people and how we act on our insecurity, defines our character.

When it motivates and challenges us to work harder toward our goal, it is a strength.

It's when an insecure person allows her insecurity to rise to the level of jealousy or envy that it becomes a flaw. 

I'm honored to belong to this amazing group of people. We cheer each other on and we are genuinely happy for the success of others. I've never encountered a group of people more willing to give their time to help struggling writers. It makes me proud to be a part of this group.

So, what's eating at you this month? Feeling insecure? Please share.

You've come to the right place.


Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It's a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds.

Tweet: Feeling Insecure? Visit blogs from Insecure Writers Support Group #IWSG

Twitter Hashtag #IWSG

Check out the other post. Here is a list of the Insecure Writers Support Group Members.

It's hard to believe that it's been four years since Alex Cavanaugh formed the IWSG

Check out the IWSG Anniversary Announcement. It's big.

This month's co-host are

Murees Dupé - She has some amazing, big news of her own. Make sure you stop by her blog and learn more about the release of her debut novel.

Blogger Verses Wordpress: The Best Blogging Platform

Choosing a Blogging Platform: Pros & Cons of Wordpress and Blogger

I use Blogger or Blogspot as my blogging platform. Let me tell you why.

First of all, I'm far from an expert when it comes to blogging. I'm probably the most technologically challenged blogger bud you have. I have no idea how to write code and if not for the help of the experts over at TCBOTB, my blog wouldn't have any upgrades or cute little fonts or labels. I don't know jack about code, html, site hosting, shared server hosting, Virtual Private Servers (VPS), Cloud hosting ... yada yada. Hell, I still haven't figured out where this damn cloud is that is holding all my photos and documents hostage. It's out there ... so my kids tell me. 

I started blogging for fun and I wanted to connect with other writers/authors/bloggers with shared interest and Blogger seemed like the easiest choice. In defense of Blogger, they've made many style updates and bloggers have many more options when it comes to design and style. It's taken me years, but I've finally taught myself how to add widgets, photos, links and a few other accessories. I'm still a cut rate beginner and that's where I'll probably remain. I don't plan on taking any computer or code courses.

Many of you have probably heard me tossing around the idea of switching from Blogger to Wordpress. If I do, I will switch to Wordpress Dot Org, not Wordpress Dot Com. There are far more advantages and swag to owning your own site on WordPress Dot Org. I wouldn't even consider moving my blog to another platform unless I owned and controlled my website/blog.

I haven't made up my mind.

In fact I'm scared shitless about making such a bold move. Just look at me.

The move seems like quite an ordeal and one that I'm not technically up for. Although, WP users swear by their platform and the web is flushed with easy to follow tutorials. But, can a computer simpleton like myself follow those so called easy to follow instructions?

Here's how I see it: The advantages of moving from Blogger to Wordpress:

I currently reside on Blogger and while I've purchased my own domain name, I'm still only renting space. I am a tenant, renter, lessee.

Bottom line: I do not own my home on Blogger. 

If I move to WP, I will purchase my new home on the blogosphere. 

In the real world, I recognize the benefits of owning my own home, but if I am new to an area, I might be better off renting until I get a feel for the location. The question is: how long should I rent, before ponying up and become a home/land owner and enjoying all of the rights and benefits afforded an owner?

What I like Most about Blogger:

I am familiar with the platform and have pretty much learned how to use it.

I've made some amazing friends on blogger via Google Friend Connect (GFC), and I am worried about losing them if I move.

But, I also recognize that Google can take GFC away from me any day. I believe they've already stopped new blogs from even installing it. I know that Google no longer allows WP bloggers to use the widget.

We all know how easy it it for Google to yank the rug out from under you. They took away Google Reader and many speculate that GFC is next. Hell, half the people I know have hinted that it's only a mater of time before Google pulls the plug on Blogger/Blogspot all together. Then what? I guess all of us using the Blogger platform are up shit creek, not only without a paddle, but without a life preserver and facing riptides and a strong current.

I'm not a complete idiot. Yes, it has to be better in the long run to own your own blog; have control over your content, ads, and widgets/plugins. I understand we can hire a hosting service. So, what is holding me back?

One of the biggest drawback and I don't know how many of you have come across this, but there seems to be a big divide between the WP bloggers and Blogspot bloggers. During the A to Z challenge, I read many WP blogs and the authors came right out and admitted that they seldom if ever even read Blogger blogs because they claim it is far too difficult to leave a comment.

It's hard for me to leave a comment on WP blogs, as well, but if I like the blog, the author or the content, I make the effort and I find a way to leave a comment.

I'm certain that all of you know the wondrous, ingenious Arlee Bird, the mastermind and creator of the acclaimed A to Z Blogging Challenge. If not, you must be living in a hole or in solitary confinement at a super max prison. Arlee is one of the nicest, most helpful bloggers you'll ever have the honor of knowing. I read his blog post last week over at Tossing it Out and he made some good points about cross over commenting that really stuck with me.

Arlee wrote about all of the WP blogs that he follows. He regularly leaves comments, but he's noticed that quite a few of the WP bloggers that he visits: here let me give it to you straight from the gurus mouth:

"One of the first things I'm going to be tackling is my subscriptions to a number of Wordpress blogs that I've followed over the years.  There are many that I regularly read and comment on and they never seem to acknowledge the existence of my blogs.  I've already begun unsubscribing to many of those."

Arlee went on to say that he fully intends to maintain the wonderful friendships with the WP bloggers he interacts with. After reading his post, I felt like he'd ripped the thoughts straight out of my brain. Mind reader? Nope. Just another blogger who is feeling the neglect of some WP bloggers who make zero effort to reciprocate. It stings! It hurts. And he's right. we have too little time to continue following and commenting on blogs who fail to acknowledge we exist.

How do you feel about Wordpress bloggers who refuse to or can't comment on Blogger blogs? For all of you WP bloggers ... is it really that time consuming or too difficult to leave a comment on a Blogger blog? I have WP friends who manage to leave comments and I have (hands down) the worst commenting system out there ... Disqus. I know it sucks. Don't throw rotten bananas at me.

Any ideas how we can remedy the cross platform commenting issue? 

How many of you Blogger/Blogspot bloggers are content with your platform and intend to remain indefinitely? Do you see any drawbacks to your preferred platform?

Those of you who have made the switch from Blogger to WordPress ... any ideas or suggestions for someone on the verge of making the move? Can you recommend a specific theme? Hosting service? Other necessary services?

Those of you who are still using the Blogger Platform ... are you contemplating a move to Wordpress? What factors are you considering? What, if anything is making you reluctant to switch from Blogger to WordPress?

Those of you who will remain loyal Blogspot bloggers: Will you share the reasons behind your decision?

And finally ... Blogger/Blogspot bloggers ... how afraid are you that Google will yank the rug out from us and leave us high and dry without a blog to call our own? Have you taken any counter measures to ensure this doesn't happen?

If Google gives us the big Fuck Off ... then what?

I realize I'm bombarding you with questions, but I am confused and on the fence. A decision of this magnitude requires much thought.  I don't want to make a rash decision. 

And, if I make the move to WP, can anyone recommend a custom website/blog designer who specializes in creating WP blogs and transferring blogger blogs to Wordpress?

The suggestion box is open! Please speak up & voice your thoughts & opinions.

Tweet: Weigh in on the WP vs Blogger debate #blogging
Tweet: Weigh in on the WP vs Blogger debate #blogging
I appreciate any input and suggestions you can offer.

Do You Mary Sue?

It's Up to You ... Do You Still Like Mary Sue?

It's Been a While Since I've Screened My Characters Through the Mary Sue Test:

Is your character all knowing, powerful, flawless, pretty & perfect?

I'm sure my characters have enough flaws, maybe too many. But whenever I see this test, I can't help but give it a spin. If nothing else, it's quite fun.

It just might be time for another Mary Sue test for the protagonist of my current novel.

I'm a little worried that I may have taken her from Mary Sue to Bitchy Brenda Lou.

Here's another test, I came across. It's an interactive Mary Sue Test. But, this test is definitely geared more for fantasy novels. The first one works for all genres. 

This Mary Sue -test is a lot more comprehensive and asks the questions I remember from years ago, like if your character is named after you, resembles you or works in your same industry or profession.

And here ya go, for all the male protagonists ... is your character a Marty Stu? Damn! Poor dude. He has to lose the name or his looks might not be enough.
Because a Marty Stu + a Mary Sue = one
 dimensional, unbelievable characters who are too perfect and laughable. 
Don't get me wrong. I'm not implying that your characters have to be ugly, stupid, and so flawed that they are beyond redemption, but you get what I'm saying.

Most of us know if our characters are a little too good to be true. Hey, we don't like making a mess of someone we created, especially if their image and features and personality are already second nature to us. That's why it can't hurt to take an objective step backward and participate in a few fun quizzes, just to make sure, we've given our beloved characters enough flaws and imperfections to make them real on the page.

Or try this one on for size. Are you a Mary Sue & Marty Stu Critic? This quiz will (supposedly) alert you if you've gone overboard in the opposite direction. Are the characters you taged as Mary Sue or Marty Stu, really that bad, as in too good?

Or are you someone who harshly judges other writers' creativity? Whoa! A site making fun of those who judge Mary Sue characters. This should be fun. Or not.

And finally ... the official Mary Sue litmus test

Then just for the hell of it, hop over to Fuck Yea Character Development

This last site is not for taking the Mary Sue test, bur for questioning the absurdity of such test. Check out the Original Anti Universal Mary sue Litmus Test

Wow. Who knew? So much conflict for poor Mary Sue and Wimpy, but hot & sexy Marty Stu. Marty Stu needs a better name or he's gonna continue getting his ass kicked, wherever he goes.

Need some more ideas?

Want to morph your pantywaist, paladin, demigod, diva into a sneaky, badass Mary sue? Try this site for ideas on transforming your loyal, perfect character into a badass.

Have you taken these test? For fun? Or do you place any stock in the answers and outcome?

Egg Donation: Big Bucks for Elite Eggs

Egg Donors: An Altruistic Gift for Infertile Couples or a Baby Factory?

Seeking: Single white female, Ivy League college degree, blond, blue or green eyes, tall 5'9 minimum, slender, athletic, IQ 130 or above, musically inclined,  Jewish heritage, SAT score 140 minimum, excellent bone structure, gifted, excellent health, non smoker, no alcohol or drug problems in extended family, no mental health issues, coordinated, perfect vision and hearing, excellent breeding. 

Nope. This is not Harry the hunk's online dating service profile.

Nope! Not a job listing in the classified section.

It's a human catalogue. Egg donors fill out questionnaires and fertility clinics catalog the available egg donors with pages of beautiful, young, educated, talented, women. Prospective egg buyers peruse the catalog scrutinizing the girls and their pedigrees. Females offering their eggs are required to list their names (some companies use code numbers), height, weight, hobbies, IQ and asking price. Yup, you heard me. A price tag accompanies the offering. This is after all a business transaction.

And many couples are searching for the Golden Egg

 And they are willing to pay top dollar for A Perfect Match. Click on the link to the left and take a gander at some of the perfect match ads.

Bright Creative Egg Donor

Wanted by playful Boston couple. We recycle, floss & respect our elders. 

Generous Compensation Provided

Men have been donating sperm to sperm banks for decades and with the advancements in assisted reproductive technology more and more infertile couples are becoming parents. Reproductive technology will always be a controversial subject and many have strong opinions on the topic. I'm all for it. If not for a variety of assisted reproductive options, I wouldn't have any of my loving, bright, beautiful children.

But not eggs are created equal. Fertility and egg donor organizations have what they refer to as their "A" list; exceptional donors and the price tag on Grade A eggs reflect what people consider the quality of the eggs.

A Perfect Match advertised a $500,000 reward in an Ivy League Newspaper for egg donors meeting their criteria.

I'm all for assisted reproductive technology and I am in favor of sperm donors, egg donors, embryo donors, surrogate mothers, gestational hosts, IVF, adoption and other means that allow loving couples to fulfill their life long dream of becoming parents. Becoming a family. I advocate the rights of women to choose this option and the rights of women to donate eggs. I firmly believe the donor should be adequately compensated for her time and any pain and suffering involved in the process.

I don't know exactly where I draw the line. I think most of us who may have traveled this area, and given the option to choose your egg donor, would attempt to match with a donor who shares some of your physical attributes. There's nothing wrong with wanting a child of your same race and even who shares your basic physical components. If I were using an egg donor I would be interested in her mental and physical health history and that of her family. It's the same with adoption.

But ... when does one cross the blurred ethical line.

My search on the Internet showed me that Jewish and Asian donors with exceptional educational backgrounds and pedigrees are currently in high demand.

What's you take on this subject?
Should we be able to choose purchase the best that money can buy. Does the government need to step in and offer some real guidelines in this industry

Please watch this short trailer shown on We are Egg Donors. Sonja O'Hara, a New York writer and actress, starred in the narrative film based on her experience as an egg donor. Ovum is meant to spur conversation about eugenics and the unseen side of the market for elite and top shelf eggs, according to We are Egg Donors.

This teaser trailer is very short, but a must see.

Please share your thoughts on egg donation. For it? Against it? Should we be permitted to get into bidding wars for elite eggs. What about siblings who grow up not even knowing they are related? What problems can we foresee in the future?

Check out Kristen Lamb's Post

The talented and intuitive Kristen Lamb has penned an excellent article over on her blog - 

Lies, Denial and Buried Secrets - How to Create Dimensional Characters:

I'm posting this from my phone so I can't mange to create a hyperlink to her blog.

Lies, Denial and Buried Secrets - How to Create Dimensional Characters. 

She expounds on how we show a different side of ourself to different people and we don't do it to be deceptive . It's part of life. We all do it. We have our mom face, work face, the face or mask we show our acquaintances, neighbors, friends and then the truer face we share with our more intimate friends.

It's an interesting read and a helpful article for anyone struggling to create more believable, dimensional characters. Take a look. You'll be glad you did. 

She is also offering a second chance for writers to participate in her class: Hook Your Readers - The First Five Pages

Check out her blog now to find out more and read all about using lies and secrets to add character depth and also tension, mystery and suspense to your novel.

The Fixer -- Joseph Finder Explores Secrets, Corruption, Greed & Father Son Relationships

The Fixer by Joseph Finder: Finder's Latest Novel: Important to Finder that the Book be About Fathers & Sons:

The Fixer by Joseph Finder

Verdict: 5.0 Stars out of 5 Stars

Finder is one of those authors who writes fast paced books you can’t put down, but it’s a bittersweet love affair with a book that you can’t put down. You hate for it to end and the faster you read, the quicker you get to the end. Ugh, now I must wait another year for his next book — always worth the wait. Do I wish Finder’s books came out more often? Hell yea! Would I want him to sacrifice his storytelling techniques, trendy exploration of themes and taut, gripping narrative just so I could read more of him? Hell No! 

We don’t need any more James Patterson clones who put out 20 books a year (okay I exaggerate a little), all of them now “Co-authored,” by another author. Hint hint: I don’t think I’m exposing any big secret here by sharing my opinion that Patterson no longer writes his books. I’m sure its a win-win for the co-author. They write the book, do the work, but hell, who wouldn’t do that for their name in print at the front of the bookstore — yes a real live bookstore. Patterson’s co-authors benefit from the experience. The thing is, as readers, we don’t know what we are getting. When each novel is co-authored by a different author we can’t look forward to a certain writing style or the unique voice of a favorite author. 

 With Joseph Finder, Michael Connelly, Lisa Gardner, Harlan Coben, Chevy Stevens and a few others … I’ll bide my time and wait the year or more for the next book because I know I won’t be disappointed — well normally I’m not disappointed. Every author hits a low from time to time. I haven’t experienced that low or slow speed or anything remotely resembling a down hill ride with the brilliant author, Joseph Finder. The names I've linked to above will take you to my reviews of the author's novels.

The Fixer explores the lengths to which people will go to cover up mistakes, accidents or anything that might cost them money and even further lengths people will go to cover up crimes, their past and to keep things hidden.

Investigative reporter, Rick Hoffman sold out on his dream of becoming the next Woodward and Bernstein for a high paying job writing puff pieces for a Boston elite magazine. He did it for the money and glamour — sold his soul, but the cash flow and expense accounts didn’t last when the magazine cut the print edition. 

Almost out of cash and fresh from a recent breakup with his gorgeous-model fiancee, Hoffman returns to his home town and is forced to live in his father’s run down, dilapidated home that hasn't been occupied for years.  His father lives in a nursing home and hasn’t spoken a word since his stroke, eighteen years ago.  Hoffman begins renovations of the family home with the help of one time friend and neighbor and discovers large amounts of cash hidden in the walls of his father’s study, to the tune of over three million bucks.
 Where did the money come from? Before his stroke, his dad made barely enough money as a lawyer to keep his two kids in private school and the house afloat after their mother’s death.

What’s a guy to do when he finds three million bucks. 
Me, I’d probably hide the money and ask no questions, but that wouldn’t make for a very suspenseful story now would it.

 Left in the hands of the talented author who brought us Suspicion last year and the concept has all the makings for the next big thriller film. In 2002, Finder’s novel High Crimes was made into a major motion film.

Rick hides the the money, well most of it and sets out to learn where it came from. Some things are better off not known. Some things are better left buried. 

Rick, begins the novel as a somewhat superficial, egotistical, status seeking jackass who is more concerned about image than people. His former fiancee, points this out to him early on. She pegs him when she alerts him that he never loved her — only the image of her, his decorative arm piece, his trophy girlfriend. So he pockets about a hundred grand and hides the rest. After bumping into a former high school girlfriend, one he dumped because she didn’t fit into his future image, Rick drops about ten grand on new clothes then wines and dines her with the upper echelon of Boston, ordering expensive caviar dishes with ridiculous names like Beggars Purse and a four thousand dollar bottle of wine. Andrea is anything but impressed.


While Rick doesn’t garner the attention he hoped from his former flame, dropping 25K in a weekend draws the attention of just about every person Rick doesn’t need on his tail. 
It doesn’t take long for the bad guys to pick up on his new found wealth and Rick finds himself in one ass beating, near death situation after another.

“Who have you been talking to?” The thugs want to know as they crush his ribs. Hmm … not “Where is the money?”

We are taken on a 374 page ride of Rick trying to find out where the money came from and along the way, Rick learns that he never really knew his dad at all and by the end of the book, Finder has transformed the MC from a selfish, image seeker into a decent, caring man who vows to do the right thing, regardless of the costs. He is willing to risk his life to ... well I can't tell you that or it would spoil the book.

Joseph Finder is by far one of, if not the best author I’ve read in a decade. His last two stand alone novels have given us ordinary people who are thrust into extraordinary circumstances and he is the master of upping the anti at the perfect moment. Just when we begin to believe Rick is safe, wham bam his world is torn a part again. Throughout the book the character is given plenty of opportunities to leave well enough alone ... stop asking questions about The Fixer … the cash bank … and some other long buried secrets. But the investigative reporter in him can’t quit. What he learns about his father gives him the courage and drive to continue his quest for the truth.

Turns out dad had more to hide than money and his law practice involved some shady big hitters. Rick’s dad was what’s known as a Fixer, hence the title of the book. 

Corrupt? Or just the price of doing business in a big city with the big boys? We all have our own opinions, morals and ethics. We all have different backgrounds in the under-goings, under the table, behind the scene events in politics, city government, construction contracts … 

I’m from Louisiana so none of this is unbelievable in the world where I grew up. I hail from the great state of Louisiana where we having bragging rights to Huey Long and the charismatic Edwin Edwards as two of our finest governors ever. One of the more infamous quotes in Louisiana about Edwards has always been — “He may be a crook … but he’s our crook.” 

What I Liked:

 His writing is action packed, fast paced and the suspense builds and builds with perfect mini climaxes at the perfect time.

 The chapter ending cliffhangers that made it impossible for me to stop reading.

 His dialogue is real, full of subtext and never, “on the nose.”

 A lot of authors are able to keep my attention once they grab it. The last few books I read took me a while to get into , but I kept going at the insistence of others, (The Girl on the Train for example), but Finder never fails to captivate me from the beginning. He grabs you on the first page and never loses you.

 With Finder there are no sagging, drooping, dragging middle areas. Many authors could cut their pages by about 100 and get the same result. Not Jo Finder. The man doesn’t waste space and never waste our time (the readers).

His characters are believable. None of the perfect Mary Sue or super smart, too good looking, MC’s with awesome jobs and perfect families — no, we get real life people we can relate to. We’ve all had issue with our parents, regret for things left unsaid or undone or regret for things said without apology. Most of us have dealt with an aging or debilitated relative in a nursing home or assisted living and we know the guilt that accompanies those visits, lack of visits and the general thought of putting them in a home rather than caring for them ourselves. We’ve all lost a job or a fiancee or suffered heartbreak, divorce, embarrassment, humiliation, etc. His characters are made up of tiny components so real that each one of us will resonate on some level. His characters are flawed and we witness the actual character transformation. He doesn’t just tell us that Rick is a selfish … and then at the end throw in one gratuitous scene of character revelation. We watch it unfold, transpire before our eyes and it is done with such impeccable precision and timing that the author doesn't call attention to it or take away from the story’s plot. In fact the character arc enhances the plot.

 His writing is clear, concise, succinct and to the point. No purple prose here or wasted space on overly described characters or settings. If an office building looks just like any office building then it doesn't require a page and a half of fluff, but if there is something unusual or unique about a particular setting, Finder shows it to us via all the senses. He is particularly strong in this area. Using the sense of smell, taste and sound, all of which conjure up vivid images in our mind. He doesn’t rely solely on sight. I love the way he introduces new characters with a short physical description, but gives us something in their mannerisms or way of speaking that make them memorable and distinctive.

Finder's novels are always filled with plot twists and unexpected reveals. The closer you get to the end the quicker the twists funnel in. He always sets them up early in the story and the pay off is usually a whopper.

 Finder never fails to remind the reader what's at stake for the main character and what he stands to gain or lose. He puts his MC in danger, and his life is threatened — not just threatened, but the threats are acted on and the character is beaten nearly to death ( great symbolism here,) but if I discuss it I will give away one of the best secrets revealed in the book


I really don’t have any. This book does require some suspension of disbelief. I've said this a million times — you can’t write a tight, fast paced thriller or read one without the willingness to suspend disbelief. This is especially true now in the digital era. Bad guys could always find the MC or money or whatever secret, hidden item they are searching for in a matter of seconds with computer hacking, GPS devices, Phone spying software etc. But if we want to continue being entertained with thrilling novels of suspense, then we know in advance that we are expected to suspend disbelief. If not, I suggest reading memoirs and other non fiction.

After writing the draft of this review, I learned that Joseph Finder's own father died while he was writing The Fixer.

Read Amanda Orr's Full Review of The Fixer, where Joseph Finder said in a phone interview that his new suspense novel, The Fixer, is his most personal book. "My father died while I was writing it," Finder said in a phone interview. "The story started out differently than it ended up. It was important for this book to be about father and sons."

Finder discussed The Fixer, on June 10, 2015 on Murder Books

You can purchase The Fixer at Amazon.

Read more about the author, Joseph Finder on his website.

Read more of my Novel Reviews

What are you currently reading? Have you read The Fixer? If not, I highly recommend it. What books are on your summer TBR list?

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