The Hybrid Publishing Experience

Posted by on Jan 27, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

Today’s guest blog is written by Christopher Valen, author of the award-winning John Santana mystery series. The sixth novel in the series, The Darkness Hunter, will be released in September 2015. Christopher hails from the Twin Cities area of Minnesota. You can learn more about him and his books at

By Christopher Valen

When I completed White Tombs, the first book in the John Santana mystery series in 2007, I did what many writers do. I mailed query letters and sample chapters to publishers––and waited. Although some expressed interest in the novel, no one offered a contract. And so, left with the choice of leaving the manuscript in a desk drawer or taking a chance, I formed Conquill Press and decided to self-publish the book in 2008.

White Tombs garnered positive reviews, including one from Library Journal, and won two national small press awards. However, because I had no distributor, White Tombs was considered a POD book and was not warehoused in Barnes & Noble, a significant disadvantage if I wanted to do signings and events.

In 2009 I wrote The Black Minute, the second book in the series, and was offered a two-book contract by a Midwest publisher. The book was well-received and reviewed by Booklist and others, won a national award, and was a finalist for the Midwest Independent Publishers Association Mystery of the Year. I now had national distribution but was making little money. There had to be a better way.

Around that time, I met author Jenifer LeClair. A small east-coast press had published her first novel in the Windjammer Mystery Series, Rigged For Murder. The book received positive reviews and sold well, but she found herself in the same dilemma as I was in. Frustrated with the lack of control we had over our books, and by the small amount of money we were making, we decided we could do better on our own. I was able to re-acquire my rights for The Black Minute, Jenifer her rights for Rigged For Murder. In 2010 we signed a contract with a national distributor, began hiring our own editors and cover designers, and re-launched our books under the Conquill Press banner.

Over the course of the next four years, I published three more John Santana novels. The Darkness Hunter, the sixth in the series, will be released in September of 2015. Jenifer’s fourth book featuring Homicide Detective Brie Beaumont, Apparition Island, will be released in March of 2015. Conquill Press has grown from two to five authors and now includes thriller writers Brian Lutterman and his Pen Wilkinson series, and bestselling authors Steve Thayer and Chuck Logan.

We refer to Conquill Press as a “hybrid” publishing model. Each author funds their individual novels, marketing, and travel, but each collects the money from their print and e-book sales. This allows us to fund our future books, while keeping our rights and profits. We believe strongly in print books, but we also see the value of e-books, particularly for international distribution through Amazon.

If you’re a writer struggling with publication and/or are frustrated with your current publisher, this model might work for you. Feel free to email me with questions at

Thanks to Lynn for giving me this opportunity to blog about my experiences and our press.


Christopher Valen

There is No Write Way to Right a Novel

Posted by on Jan 20, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

Today’s post is written by author L.D. Bergsgaard, who currently lives in sunny Arizona, but for many years braved the Minnesota winters. Larry is a retired Special Agent with unique experiences adding a rare dimension to the crime story genre. Fellow writer William Henry says, “There are many authors who dream of being cops. Few do. There are many cops who strive to write. Few can. L.S. Bergsgaard is the rare exception of a street harden cop who can write like a poet.” In addition to writing crime novels, Larry also pens some darn good western stories.

By L. D. Bergsgaard

I ask you to suspend your belief in what Ms. Hammersmith told you in high school creative writing class about penning your masterpiece. Please toss aside the dozens of enticing promises that offer a sure fired system to write your novel. Why listen to me? I just finished my 7th novel and have failed in a dozen methods. I had read a dozen how to books and attended more seminars than I care to count. I tried each method so carefully laid out as the only way to write. I learn by failure.

Take, for example, the author who insists on outlining the entire plot then covers the four den walls with handwritten Post-It notes chronologically detailing each chapter, even each paragraph. Down she plops in the swivel chair and with keyboard on her lap. As she swivels she types out a remarkable novel. Her debut novel reaches the New York Times bestseller list. Her second book is a How to Write Your First Novel.

Does this mean every writer must run out to purchase Post-Its and a fancy leather swivel chair?

Perhaps, but what about the equally successful and acclaimed writer whose nimble mind conjures up a mystery, gives birth to a few colorful characters, and lays the puzzle at their feet to solve as they see fit?    “Ridiculous!” the Post-It crowd screams from their swivel chairs. “You must have a plan, an outline. Yes, you must know the ending before penning the first words!”

Not necessarily so. When a bottle of wine and flowers show up unexpectedly on your desk, do you know who sent them and will the flowers lead to a relationship and romance and marriage? No! What happens will be determined by you; what you think, what you say, how you react.

So, you floundering authors without a proven method of writing consider this: What would make a compelling plot? What conflicts will your characters encounter? Then, perhaps most importantly, who are your characters?

A wise author once told me, “Unfortunately for you every story has already been told.” She let those words sink in then mercifully added, “But no one can tell your story like you.”

And no writer can create characters like yours. Think of the power. You can form these really interesting people then put them in difficult if not impossible situations. You know these characters so very well because, well, they live in your head. They talk to you. You know they hate eating sushi and are klutzes. They have a birthmark on their butt shaped like Triceratops. And when told they are “fired” they will punch the boss in the nose.

Unlike Ms. Hammersmith (she has the dinosaur birthmark by the way) I’m not instructing you how to write. I do however suggest you keep open to the possibilities and creativity of experimenting with different approaches. Learn by your failures.

For more information about L. D. Bergsgaard, visit his website at and his Facebook page.



The Writing Process: A Personal Experience

Posted by on Jan 12, 2015 in Blog | 1 comment

Today’s guest blog comes from award-winning author Duke Southard. After retiring as a public school educator, Duke directed his energies to writing and has published three novels, one memoir, and a commissioned nonfiction history. He currently is working on a true crime novel and a memoir about growing up with a “Greatest Generation” father. His novel, Live Free or Die, the second in the Parker Havenot series, will be released this

Sixteen years ago, I ended a thirty-five year career in public education
and redirected my energies to a career as a writer. Initially, my writing
process was filled with rookie mistakes that I’m no longer making. I now
make new and much more interesting veteran mistakes.

Here are a few things I no longer do because they interfered significantly
with my writing process.

1. I never go back to the previous day’s keeper-pages. Nothing stops the
progress on a writing project faster, in my opinion, then revising and
editing what I thought was good enough to keep yesterday.

2. I don’t interrupt my writing to look at e-mails or surf the internet
unless I need to check something for the content of what I am writing.

3. I try, with varying degrees of success, to not allow everyday things to
get in the way of my writing time.

Here are a few things I do now that help my writing process.

1. I set a goal for the day. (e.g.minutes, hours, chapters, pages—something
realistic like three keeper-pages a day)

2. I write “end notes” (a Stephen King idea) when I’m finished so that
tomorrow I know exactly where I’m going without looking back at
yesterday’s work.

3. I ignore those irritating little red and green lines when I look up at
the screen, telling me I misspelled something or have a grievous
grammatical error. (will fix them later)

4. I allow for thinking time, staring ahead as I imagine how an upcoming
scene to going to play out or how my dialogue is going to sound.

5. I do not stop thinking about the story or my characters when I stop
writing for the day. The plot and characters are part of my life and are
waiting helplessly for me to move things along.

If you’ve incorporated other ideas into your writing process, send them on over.
Writing is a personal experience, but fortunately, we can all learn from each other.
Duke Southard
 12-2Southard-Live Free or Die-cov

The Art (and Challenge) of Writing Dialogue

Posted by on Dec 2, 2014 in Blog | 0 comments

By Kathryne Squilla

I recently listened to a great segment on NPR’s Morning Edition in which the author Mallory Ortberg discussed her new book, TEXTS FROM JANE EYRE. In the book, Ortberg, a humorist who often turns her satirizing eye to western literature, imagined what many of the greatest characters from the history of the novel would say to each other if they all had smartphones and were communicating via text message. The examples she gave made me laugh out loud, but after the segment was over I got to thinking more seriously about dialogue. We often hear about how modern technology has “dumbed down” the way we communicate, or how young people devalue the importance of face-to-face conversation with their ultra abbreviated text speak. But it occurred to me as I thought about Ortberg’s book that many a fiction writer today might glean something from your average text conversation: namely, brevity.

As an editor I often meet fiction writers who are struggling with dialogue. It isn’t easy (little to do with writing is), and it can make or break a novel. You might have a brilliant plot, multidimensional characters, and fresh narrative descriptions, but if your dialogue is clunky, unnatural, or overwrought, you’re sunk. Often times the problem is simply that the characters are saying too much. Of course I’m not suggesting all dialogue be reduced to the contents of a text message, but when we send texts we say what we need to say as quickly and efficiently as we can, and this approach works in fiction writing as well. In addition, we usually only send text messages to the people with whom we are most familiar, and when two people are well known to each other, there is much that goes unsaid because it is already understood. I believe the true art of dialogue writing can be found in what the author choses not to have his characters explicitly say, yet conveys to the reader nonetheless.

Edith Wharton, in her essay The Writing of Fiction, described narrative as “the substance of the novel” and dialogue as “an adjunct to be used skillfully and sparingly as the drop of condiment which flavors a whole dish.” Or more poetically: “The use of dialogue in fiction seems to be one of the few things about which a fairly definite rule may be laid down. It should be reserved for the culminating moments, and regarded as the spray into which the great wave of narrative breaks in curving toward the watcher on the shore.”

We may not always be able to compose dialogue that is like the spray of a metaphorical wave, but we can certainly embrace Edith’s words as an exemplary guide. When it comes to writing dialogue, less is more.

Authors & Libraries: A Match Made in Book Publicity Heaven

Posted by on Nov 19, 2014 in Blog | 0 comments

These days we authors should be loving libraries, and if not loving them, at least courting them. Not merely because libraries have shelves that hold our books and services that loan out our ebooks. We should love libraries because many of them have made it a common practice to host author talks. Just like our beloved indie bookstores, libraries are intent on increasing traffic.

Who frequents libraries? Readers. Who do readers love? Authors. What do authors love to talk about and sell? Their books.

Could this cycle have LOVE stamped on it any clearer?

Here are some tips for scheduling a library presentation.

  • Plan in advance.

Find out how far in advance your local library schedules events. The Denver Library, for instance, is booking authors six to 12 months in advance. I’m heading to the Cedarburg Public Library the first Saturday of December to give a presentation about The Horse Lover; an event scheduled back in August.

  • Pitch local media.

Newspapers, TV, and radio often like to support libraries. For the Cedarburg talk, I pitched the local paper about eight weeks in advance. “Thank you for giving us plenty of notice,” the reporter said. The story just came out.

  • Contact Friends of the Library groups.

These are the fundraising arms of libraries, which often sponsor luncheons and special programs. Who best to speak at such events? Why an author, of course!

  • Also contact retirement community libraries.

Here in Tucson we have two major retirement communities. Both have libraries, each supported by Friends of the Library. Two Friends from one of the communities attended a presentation that my co-author, Alan Day, and I did at our local library. After the talk, they asked us if we would speak at their annual luncheon. Attendance: 300 readers. Happiness is.


So after your next morning coffee, head over to your local library and ask to speak with the events coordinator. Bring a review copy of your book. For libraries located beyond driving distance, give a call. Again, ask for the events person, and if possible, get that person’s email. A pitch by email is another way to make contact.

And remember, librarians talk among themselves, so in addition to putting your best writing forward, put your best author-foot forward too, one that leaves a lasting, positive impression and results in future invitations to speak.

Write on!


A Cowboy Hits the Book Writing Trail

Posted by on Nov 12, 2014 in Blog | 2 comments

Today’s guest blogger, H. Alan Day has spent more time riding a horse than writing on a laptop. Yet, he co-authored the  New York Times bestseller, Lazy B, with his sister Sandra Day O’Connor, and this year published an award-winning memoir, The Horse Lover: A Cowboy’s Quest to Save the Wild Mustangs, with University of Nebraska Press and co-authored with Lynn Wiese Sneyd. His book writing journey is as unique as they come.

I came to writing in a very oblique way. I never had dreams of writing a book while I was growing up or during adulthood. But then one day, the phone rang and my sister Sandra, who is pretty plain spoken and gets to the point in a direct fashion, said, “Alan, I think we should write a book together.”

After I picked my jaw up off the floor, I said, “Tell me more. Why would we want to write a book? And what would that book be about?”

Sandra said that we had been raised in a very unique environment that had taught us both a very strong work ethic. Being raised on the Lazy B cattle ranch, a 200-square-mile chunk of Sonoran desert, taught us to be problem-solvers because out on the ranch nobody was going to solve your problems for you.

I had never taken any writing classes and certainly had minimal skills in that department, so the book Sandra was suggesting felt about as big as that ranch. I had a hard time getting my arms around it. Sandra was far more skilled than I in terms of writing ability. She wrote many legal opinions not graded for literary quality but read by many lawyers and historians.

After stumbling and fumbling with an answer and not wanting to look like a fool, I finally said, “Well, how do I go about this? How do I start to write a book?”

Her answer was Sandra simple. Yellow legal pad and number two pencil.

“What if the product sounds dumb or doesn’t make sense?”

“Whatever you have on paper submit it to me and we’ll make it work,” she said.

I have a feeling that not many would-be authors get that kind of a send off in their writing careers. Having been given an assignment, however, I rolled up my sleeves and tackled it.

A lot of days I would only get a paragraph or two written, and then after sitting and contemplating it for awhile, I’d tear it up the sheet and throw it away. Other days, I would say to myself, okay big boy, today’s the day for writing. And then I would find fifteen excuses why not to write. Progress was very slow.

After six months of writing, I had several chapters that seemed a little bit appropriate. I sat down and read everything that I had written. It was so bad that shame consumed me. The thought hit me that even if I could rewrite these pages twice as good, they would still be bad. In a fit of depressed anger, I tossed it all away.

I had attempted to write the history of the ranch chronologically beginning in 1880 when our grandfather settled on Lazy B. I decided I needed a whole different format to make it more interesting. Since I didn’t know what other formats were used by writers, I gave myself two weeks to come up with another way to write the book. I spent time each day jus trying to think up a different way to write the story. Toward the end of my two week self-imposed deadline, I finally had a bright idea.

I asked myself the question: which author do you most enjoy reading? The answer was Larry McMurtry. I then asked why Larry McMurtry? What is it that draws you to his writing? My answer to that was I admire his character development. I mentally bond with his characters and want to go on their adventures with them.

Ohmygod. I have on the ranch six characters and each one is worthy of a book, or at least a part in a book. This idea hit me so hard that I could feel the truth of it inside me.

Two of the six characters were my parents and the other four were cowboys who worked on our ranch, each for more than fifty years. I had huge respect and admiration for all six of these people. I thought golly, if I can just bring them back for readers in the same bigger-than-life mode that I saw them, readers will be very entertained. The heart of the Lazy B was right there in front of me.

I immediately went to writing a chapter about each of the characters. The writing became easier and the pages started flying off the yellow tablet. Sandra was very accepting of what I had written and incorporated the stories into the book Lazy B: Growing Up on a Cattle Ranch in the American Southwest. She sold it to Random House in 2002 and it’s still out there, finding its way into the hands of new readers.


When Fear Strikes the Hearts of Writers

Posted by on Oct 28, 2014 in Blog | 3 comments

By Kathryne Squilla

For the past year, I’ve been watching a dear friend of mine write her second YA novel.  She’s by no means an inexperienced writer, having published two non-fiction books and many essays. Her first YA novel is in production. She is one of the most disciplined and productive writers I know.  Earlier this year, she finished her first draft of the new novel, and then promptly completed the second draft. After sharing her work with a few trusted readers, she revised yet again.  At that point, she believed she had a book her agent would love unconditionally.

He did love it, but not unconditionally. A major plot line bothered him and one of the two main characters just didn’t thrill him in the way he felt he needed to be thrilled in order to effectively sell the novel. He brought in a trusted editor who agreed and recommended major cuts.  I mean, MAJOR cuts. They wanted my friend to lose almost half of the book – to take out the character in question entirely — and then rewrite with a new focus in mind.

Needless to say, my friend had a lot of soul searching to do, and potentially a whole new book to write (or half a book anyway).  She loved her character, and so did many of her readers.  I felt her pain; to cut away all that work in one fell swoop! Ouch! And yet, ultimately she decided to go ahead with the revision. She could see how their view of the novel, combined with her vision and hard work, could result in something truly special. She is still at it, but just this morning she told me that she thinks she has only about 50 pages left before she is done with this draft, hopefully the last draft, though there are no guarantees on that.

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about my friend’s journey. In addition to being editors and publicists, we are also writers. I, myself, am working on a novel – when I can, anyway.  And although I have not yet completed my first draft, I am already dreading the second. I know this is silly. After all, as writing instructors love to say: writing is revision.

I was recently at an event where the writer, Anne Lamott, read from her latest book of essays. Someone later asked her about her tips for writing fiction. She said the secret is to give yourself permission to write a really “shitty” first draft, and then do the real work in the editing process. As an editor, I know this to be gospel – I’ve seen books transform from dull to radiant in the later drafts. Yet, as a writer, I cringe at the thought of highlighting some large section – perhaps an entire chapter – and hitting that delete button.  (I have another writer friend who pastes all of her major cuts into one master document of deleted sections because she can’t bring herself to erase them completely. She calls the document, The Prose Graveyard.)

In making cuts, it helps to think of the bigger picture, the strength of the novel as a whole, as opposed to some little flourish at the sentence level. That sleek metaphor I thought was so clever when I first wrote it isn’t worth keeping for a section that I can now see does nothing to further the novel.  As Faulkner says, “kill your darlings.” Oh, but its tough! It’s so very tough.

I take courage in stories like that of my friend. If she can do it, if Anne Lamott can do it, if hundreds of writers can do it, so can I, so can you.

Still, I can’t help but wonder if there is a physiological term for fear of a second draft?

Kathryne Squilla is a writer and an editor at LWS Literary Services.

The Three Things We Can Learn from Poets

Posted by on Sep 10, 2014 in Blog | 4 comments

Today’s guest post comes from my friend Rod Miller, a Spur Award-winning poet and author, who I met this summer at the Western Writers of America conference in Sacramento, CA. In addition to writing poetry, Rod pens novels, short stories, magazine articles, and other non-fiction pieces about cowboys and the American West.

Three Things We Can Learn from Poets
By Rod Miller

Prose and poetry are different. The discipline is different, the approach is different, the craft is different, the emphasis is different. But, despite the many differences, much is the same. Both rely on words, and the meanings of words, whether literal or figurative, expressed or implied. Generally speaking, however, poets pay more attention to words—dissecting them into syllables and sounds, rhythms and rhymes, stresses and shapes.

While it would be impossible, not to mention unwise, for writers of prose to agonize over every syllable in every word in every line as poets do, a little extra attention to a few literary techniques can make prose read better, sound better, and communicate more effectively on more levels.

Here are three tools poets use (as do the best prose writers, as in the examples that follow) that can shape and sharpen what you write. But remember—like any tool, they can be over-used, misapplied, and cause harm, so proceed with caution.

1. What you say, vs. How You Say It.
This is an eternal tug-of-war, but is, for the most part, based on false assumptions. Those on the “What” end of the rope claim plain and simple is preferable. Extremists on the “How” end believe purple prose should take precedence.
Both points of view are lacking.
Language can be clear and communicative as well as distinctive and delightful. Consider this sentence:

In 1776, our founding fathers, desiring freedom and equality for all, created the American nation.

Not much to complain about there. The meaning is clear, the structure and syntax acceptable. But, in the better hands of Abe Lincoln, that same sentiment becomes musical and memorable:

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

2. Metaphor
To a poet, metaphor is mother’s milk. As part of a balanced diet, metaphor can lend vitality to prose as well. Along with pure metaphor, lump in other metaphorical techniques such as simile, synecdoche, and metonymy. Comparisons can be powerful; often more vivid than a plain description. Given my long career writing ad copy, I like this pointed metaphor from George Orwell:

Advertising is the rattling of a stick inside a swill bucket.

And there’s this descriptive comparison, from William Faulkner:

He looks like right after the maul hits the steer and it is no longer alive and don’t yet know that it is dead.

3. Repetition of Sound
Another big deal among poets. There’s rhyme, of course, which has limited application to prose. But rhyme should not be excluded out of hand, as this famous opening by Charles Dickens demonstrates:

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…

And there’s assonance, the repetition of vowel sounds, and consonance, the repetition of consonants. Both are aptly demonstrated in this sentence by Cormac McCarthy—repeated “a” sounds, both long and short; hard “g” sounds; the “k” sound from that letter as well as the hard “c.”

And stepping softly with her air of blooded ruin about the glade in a frail agony of grace she trailed her rags through dust and ashes, circling the dead fire, the charred billets and chalk bones, the little calcined ribcage.

There is also alliteration in that line, as there is in the repeated “st” and “ch” sounds at the beginning of words in this line by Herman Melville:

. . . neither of those can feel stranger and stronger emotions than the man does, who for the first time finds himself pulling into the charmed, churned circle of the hunted sperm whale.

While each example demonstrates a particular literary device, you probably noticed that most employed more than one. Using poetic devices isn’t always deliberate—it is often instinctive—but no less real. Sometimes magic just happens, other times it is made. But as you write and rewrite, consider poetry, and how the techniques that make poetry poetic can improve your prose.
I will close with a line from Shakespeare’s Love’s Labour’s Lost, in which a pair of characters is called out for unsuccessful attempts at fancy talk:

They have been at a great feast of languages, and stolen the scraps.

I see in that line further meaning: as writers, we regularly dine at “a great feast of languages.” There is no reason for us to settle for the ordinary or mundane; to steal “the scraps.” There are remarkable and magnificent words on the table and we should dish them up and dish them out, in appropriate doses, to our readers.

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Check out Rod Miller’s new collection of poetry, Goodnight Goes Riding and Other Poems,  now available from Pen-L Publishing. For a limited time, you can purchase the book online from the publisher at a 15% discount off the retail price. Please visit

On Handling Rejection

Posted by on Aug 5, 2014 in Blog | 6 comments

The world of writing comes with a constellation of certainties. Creating. Editing. Research. Solitude. More editing. And if you’re submitting your work for publication, add the Big R to the list: Rejection.

As Isaac Asimov wrote, “Rejection slips, or form letters, however tactfully phrased, are lacerations of the soul, if not quite inventions of the devil – but there is no way around them.” Yep, all the greats have suffered rejection.

I’d love to give the subject a Pollyanna-polish, but really, there’s no way around it. Rejection sucks. Since it’s an inevitable pothole in the writing journey, the question is not how to avoid rejection, but how to handle it.

Here’s one slightly comforting perspective. Writing may be a lonely endeavor, but when you’re swimming in the pool of rejection, you’re never alone. A lot of bodies inhabit that salty, tear-filled water and the good thing is they are alive. So while you’re dog-paddling around, do some commiserating. Then swim to the side, haul yourself out, shake like a dog, and get back at it.

About two years ago, I attended a writer’s workshop where a very successful author related the sad tale of one of his manuscripts. He had worked on the novel for over a year, finally had it polished to his satisfaction, and sent it off to his agent, who promptly rejected it. He then sent it to the editor who published his previous book and she, too, rejected it. But get this. The author’s previous novel had been optioned, found its way into a screenplay, and then into an Academy-Award-winning movie. Needless to say, after this particular manuscript was soundly rejected, he and a bottle of scotch spent some serious time on the couch.

I just saw this author at a writer’s conference, where he presented. He’s still writing. He’s still getting published. He’s still at it.

So the thing about rejection is somehow you have to handle it, get it out of your system and get back at it. Punch pillows. Line up pints of Ben & Jerry’s and plow through them. Run like you’re Forrest Gump. Whatever works for you, just do it.

Because in the end, we writers have to scrape ourselves off the pavement, stash that chocolate-caramel smeared spoon in the dishwasher, and strap ourselves to the chair. If we don’t, we’ll get all gummed up with words and stories, and we won’t be able to finish any manuscript.

And that, my friends, is far worse than rejection.

Write on!




What’s Your Writing Process? Blog Tour

Posted by on Apr 21, 2014 in Blog | 0 comments

I’d like to thank my friend and fellow writer, Liza Wiemer for tagging me to be part of this blog tour. Liza’s had some excitement recently. Her agent, Stuart Krichevsky of Stuart Krichevsky Literary Agency, sold her debut YA novel to Patricia Riley at Spencer Hill Contemporary. The novel, HELLO?, is about five Wisconsin small town teens, whose lives intertwine when a grieving girl calls her dead grandmother’s old phone number. In an innovative use of free verse poetry, screenplay format, narration, and drawings, five narrators tell a story of hope, friendship, and redemption, Congrads, Liza!!

Find Liza on:


Author Site

WhoRuBlog – book reviews, author interviews, and giveaways




Liza has had two adult non-fiction novels published, Extraordinary Guidance: How to Connect with Your Spiritual Guides by Random House and Waiting for Peace: How Israelis Live with Terrorism, by Gefen Publishering. A graduate of UW-Madison, Liza is a Badger fan and a die-hard Packer fan! To learn more about Liza, check out Liza’s “About” page.

So. On to my writing process, which by the way usually includes a cup of coffee, cappuccino, or pot of tea. (I think the writing muses appreciate a little caffeine.)


Currently, I’m working on a novel about a woman who works in the world of art and via a series of paintings stumbles on some rather alarming activities she traces to a well-respected local businessman. I also have some personal essays underway and am hoping National Poetry Month inspires a few poems, though it has been quite awhile since I wrote poetry. Then, there’s all the work-related writing – book proposals, query letters, press releases – writing that actually pays bills.


I’m not sure my fiction differs or that it’s necessary that it differs from other literary fiction. What I’m looking to create is a good read that compels someone to keep turning the pages.


I’ve always wanted to write a novel and I’m finally doing it, albeit it at a snail’s pace because I do it in my “spare time.” Drives me nuts. (The bane of writers.)  The other writing is connected to business and clients. For a few years, I wrote poetry. At the time, I was reading a lot of poetry and was open to writing it and the inspiration came. One of these days, I’d like to try my hand at short stories.


I’m a morning person and my creativity tends to be the freshest about the time the sun rises and the coffee is hot. Getting the first draft of anything out is rather painstaking. That’s my least favorite part. Once it’s out, the fun begins. The project becomes a big puzzle, and I’ve always loved puzzles. Trying new words in paragraphs, moving paragraphs around, making sure there aren’t spaces between the pieces – this is where joy and a sense of accomplishment really begin to bubble and gurgle. Writing endorphins. Even better than caffeine.

Okay. Enough about me. Here are some other writers you should meet.


Kate Traci is a California raised beach girl at heart who now finds herself residing under the hot desert sun. Thankfully her sister has a pool. Her first published adventure Simon Says can be read in the book “The Dog with the Old Soul”, a collection of true stories about people and the animals in their lives. After coaxing clever words, her German Shepherd to fetch, and herself to the gym, Kate can be found patiently waiting for her next adventure under the star-filled desert sky.

Follow Kate’s stories at





Jack B. Rochester launched The Fictional Cafe. grew up in South Dakota and Wyoming, graduated from California State University at Sonoma (when it was still Sonoma State College) with a Master’s degree in English and Comparative Literature. He has worked in publishing his whole grown-up life (if, indeed, he can be called a grownup) and is author of a bunch of books, including the national bestseller The Naked Computer. He self-published a novel, Wild Blue Yonder, in 2011. The sequel, Madrone, will be published by Wheatmark in April, 2013. His writing and editorial services company, Joshua Tree Interactive, celebrated its 30th anniversary on April 15, 2013. Jack’s favorite activities are reading, writing, bicycling, snowshoeing, and drinking insanely great coffee. Please visit him at


Kendall Kulper is the author of SALT & STORM, a Young Adult historical fantasy to be published by Little, Brown in September 2014. She grew up in the wilds of New Jersey and currently lives in Chicago (where she dreams of someday returning to the land of thin-crust pizza) with her economist husband, Dave, and Abby, her chronically-anxious Australian Shepherd.
Find Kendall here: Website | Goodreads | Twitter | Facebook