Sunday, July 16, 2017

"Meet an Author Who Can't Not Write." By Patricia Fry

 "Meet an Author Who Can't Not Write."
By: Patricia Fry 
July 16, 2017

There are some careers that provoke imagination, and the writing profession is one of them. I’m not speaking of the writer’s imagination, but the curiosity of others. People wonder what it’s really like to be a writer—how a writer spends their day and how their mind works. I’m a career-writer. I’ve been writing for publication for over forty years—articles for magazines, mostly. Those of you who are old enough to remember when magazines were popular, might be familiar with some of them—Woman’s World, Country Woman, Cat Fancy, Cats, Writers Digest, Entrepreneur, Catholic Digest, The Toastmaster, Vibrant Life, Pet Age and many others. (Some of these are actually still being published.)

For a change of pace over the years, uI also wrote books now and then. These were all nonfiction books on a variety of topics: how to present a Hawaiian luau on the mainland, youth mentoring, long-distance grandparenting, how to choose and care for a horse, journaling, and I wrote a lot of books focused on the business side of writing. I was among the early authors to produce books for other writers—how to break into the article-writing business, get your book published, promote your book, etc. I spent fifteen years teaching what I’d learned about the writing and publishing field through my books, hundreds of articles, and the many workshops I presented at conferences throughout the US.

I can tell you that, for me, writing is a passion. It’s something I can’t not do. When I realized this, back in the 1960s, I began studying the writing field. I practiced writing—letters, little stories for my three young daughters, poetry, personalized messages for family and friends in greeting cards… And I dreamed of writing articles for some of the magazines I read—in particular Writer’s Digest, horse-related magazines and women’s magazines. The day finally came when I had the time and space to launch my writing career. I wrote my first article in 1973 in the corner of my bedroom on a manual typewriter. Boy was I thrilled when the editor accepted my piece and even used my submitted photo on the cover of the magazine.

Because I’d been studying the article-writing business, I knew something that many new writers don’t. In order to succeed, you must take charge. It’s rare that an editor comes to you for a piece—at least in the beginning. The freelancer must know what the particular magazine editor needs/wants. She must come up with the idea, flesh it out so that it resonates with the editor, and present it in a professional manner. This is also true for writers interested in landing a publisher for their book manuscript. If you want to be published, you cannot be passive. You have to be well-informed as to each editor’s or publisher’s desires and present a polished proposal. It’s a lot of work and it also results in a lot of rejection. This business is not for the meek.

Fast forward several years and I’m able to respond to the questions some of you have posed. How does a writer spend her day? By writing! By establishing good work habits. And by keeping her eye on her goal—which, for me, was to earn a living through my writing. How else could I justify spending all of that time in such an enjoyable pursuit?

I also came to terms with what goes on in my mind. How does a writer see the world differently than most people do? What I learned is that no matter what type of writing one does, in order to be successful, it requires keen observation skills. I don’t think I was even aware of the shift in my brain as I pursued my career—but I soon realized that I look at the world differently than some others. I see potential stories in nearly everything that happens around me, that I hear reported through the media, that I see in a movie or a commercial, that someone tells me about, etc. Little did I know how valuable that trait of observation would be as my career evolved.

And evolve, it did! After nearly forty years writing nonfiction—nothing but give-me-the-facts-ma’am stuff—I decided to try my hand at fiction. And I’ve come to realize that I still adhere to the skills and habits I established in order to eke out a living writing nonfiction. These skills and habits have propelled my career in a fabulously fun and profitable new direction as the author of the Klepto Cat Mystery series—cozy mysteries with cats.

I’m still extremely disciplined because I know that one secret to success in this business is, butt in chair—fingers on keyboard. I’ve also learned it’s beneficial for a writer to take breaks, to spend time with people, and to pursue other areas of creativity (for me—at the moment—it’s photography). And my keen observation and research skills are still paying off big time in coming up with story ideas for my fiction and making sure they ring true. There’s another part of my being that seems to help formulate my cozy mystery stories—visualization. It’s one of my strengths. I write what I see in my head and, for the most part, it’s fairly lucid and connected. One thing fans love about my books is that they’re easy-reading and I think that’s because of my ability to move the story along logically.

So what’s the difference between someone who writes and a career writer? I think it boils down to passion, a wide-open mind, and a business sense. I’ve met a lot of writers with plenty of passion, but with unrealistic expectations. Without a willingness to stretch, grow, learn, and maybe even make a few sacrifices, a would-be author may never reach his goals. We must remember that a goal without a plan won’t be realized. And the first step to creating a plan is to understand what it actually takes to get from point A (a desire) to point B (the goal).
Five years ago I set a new goal for myself. I would establish a cozy mystery series. I figured that by now (2017) my series might be five books strong. That would bring me up to 47 published books. Quite a feat! Instead, I’ve produced 24 Klepto Cat Mysteries and can boast 66 published books to my credit. To my own amazement, I’m publishing 6 books per year and cozy mystery fans are eating them up!

Can someone earn a living as a writer without lucking out and hitting it big with a best seller? Absolutely. Can a writer shift from one genre to another successfully? I’m happy to say, YES! Do the skills and work habits essential for one type of professional writing spill over to another? Totally. Can anyone become a successful author? Yes. How? Study this blog post again and take it seriously.

Patricia Fry is the author of the Klepto Cat Mystery series—cozy mysteries featuring an ordinary cat with some extraordinary habits. He can’t keep his paws off other people’s things. Sometimes the things he finds help to solve a crime or a mystery.

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Sunday, September 20, 2015

Celebrate Life!

Celebrate Life!
By: Michele Ashby
September 18, 2015
Last Saturday night I had the privilege of celebrating my Father’s 90th birthday with our family.  For the first time in my life, I realized just how extraordinary our ordinary family is.  We are mostly Irish and some German, but my Dad is all Irish.  Our upbringing was during the 60’s in a small neighborhood in Denver, Colorado where all the houses on the block were basically the same.  Every house had at least 2 kids and we all played outside in the front yard every night until our parents called us in for supper. 

Some of the photos we found of Mom & Dad from those early days were reminiscent of a simpler time and my folks looked like movie stars. With their jet black hair and trim bodies, and the innocent and carefree expressions on their faces they represented a couple in love who were just beginning their lives together. My parents never fought – never that I knew of anyway.  My Mom says there was no need to argue – they were meant for each other and that was that.

They met on a blind date and both of them told their respective friends that “they didn’t like each other really that much on the first date”. Six months later, my Mom got sick with strep throat and when my Dad heard she was sick, he brought her some ice cream.  She decided he was a pretty nice fellow after all and they started dating after that.  The rest is history (61+ years later). And ice cream is still her favorite food group to this day.

When I hear stories about my Dad growing up and from my Mom and think of my growing up, I realize just how special he is as a human being.  He was never flashy or loud.  He was generous with his time and talent and he gave religiously to the church. After working all day, he would do chores, or work on the accounts for the church group that he was treasurer for and I would help him type up the account cards on the electric typewriter we had. Dad also prepared taxes for dozens of people from work and family members for free.  Some people would have us over for dinner as a thank you for him doing their taxes.  He just liked doing it.

He has always loved football and every season we would go to football games together, either college ball games or the Broncos no matter what the weather was like, and watch football together.  My Dad could tell me where any of the players came from, what schools they went, and all about their record.  Did I mention my Dad was really smart? 

He is a model of a man – a gentle heart, quiet, funny, articulate, generous, and loving.  He has lived a long and amazing life so far and still gets out and does what he can every day.  I am so lucky to have been blessed with this man as my Father and his life partner as my Mother.  I am one lucky girl. 

Happy Birthday Dad and many, many more.

Michele Ashby, Author of  Secrets of a Closet Millionaire; A Step-by-Step Guide to Financial Freedom – available now on Amazon, Holistic Financial Guide and Coach, Executive coach and Key-note speaker  

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Saturday, August 29, 2015

Spanish Without Grammar! The E-book Revolution.10 Free Copies Available for Giveaway.

Spanish Without Grammar! (Español Sin Gramática)

The ebook revolution has been driven mainly by fiction, especially popular genres such as romance and thrillers. But at Clic-books DM we’ve been looking at other ways to exploit reading on a small screen.

We publish ebooks for people learning languages. This is quite a challenge, because the ebook format is very simple; it’s basically just text. To make a language-learning book interesting and useful, it has to be quirky, something different from the normal reading experience.

Well, our books are fully bilingual. That’s the first difference. They help you practice a foreign language by letting you ‘click’ from screen to screen. Our titles typically have well over 1,000 ‘pages’ to click through, with every word and sentence translated for you into English.

Recently we thought about another ‘quirk’. Would it be possible to teach a language from scratch using this format, and to do so while avoiding all mention of grammar? Most people hate grammar, and it’s particularly daunting when you’re just starting off in a new foreign language. A book with NO grammar would be great, we thought...

So we wrote one. Here it is:


Its an experiment really. It’s not a textbook, but it will give you confidence in the language right from the start. The book will not make you a fluent Spanish speaker overnight, but it’s 100 % bilingual, so every word you read in Spanish will be accompanied by the English equivalent. 

The idea is to help you feel comfortable with Spanish through reading and practicing. Exercises are very short, and are all in Spanish and English, allowing you to progress at exactly your own pace, even if it’s just two minutes a day.

We think it’s a useful way to start (or restart) a foreign language. But we want to know what other people think. The kind of people who don’t like grammar!

So, if you’re interested in learning some basic Spanish, we’re giving away ten copies of FIRST STEPS IN SPANISH to readers of Oh My Bookness (Oh Mi Bookness). Plus, for the first person to respond, we’ll add two more books from our catalogue:

Please just mail us at:
Remember to tell us which format you need: mobi (for Kindle) or ePub (for other ebook reading devices)

Best wishes,
Sam Fuentes 
Clic-books Digital Media 

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Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Wedding season Money matters – even if you are just the guest.

Wedding season 
Money matters – even if you are just the guest.

By: Michele Ashby 
June 10,2015

My husband and I have been invited to a few weddings already this year – and I found out that this can be a budget breaker even for family and friends attending the weeding – see what I mean……….

Imagine that your best friend’s daughter is getting married - and when there is a wedding in your circle of family or friends, it is a very special occasion.

The big wedding day is coming up soon and you need to buy a gift for the special couple.

 You have the invitation in your pile, and you remember that it has the web address to the couple’s wedding site, which includes their pictures together and their story of how they met 2 years ago and how much they are in love now.

 The web page also includes the stores where they selected all the items for their registry.  Isn’t that convenient you think. I don’t even have to go to the Mall – I can shop from my computer.  This is great! ---- (and maybe a little dangerous).

 You dig through your pile of mail on your desk and find the invitation and then you type in the web address and start searching through the wedding site –

 “Oh, aren’t those pictures so cute of them together”

and look at the story of how "they met at the office where she works and he was a client.”

This is pulling at your heart strings – but you need to get to the shopping so you can get back to work, so you press the button for the Wedding Registry.

Up pops two retail stores and a honeymoon site.

“Oh, I can buy a gift AND also help them pay for a part of their honeymoon.  This is so cool” you think.  

As you click through the retail sites and at the items the couple has picked out, you are focused on the items that are left on the list.

 “Hmmm, that set of cutlery looks nice, but $135 is a bit more than I wanted to spend."

How about that set of glass bowls, or the wooden spoon collection – those are both nice? And reasonable too.

 But you want to get them something really nice, something impressive – this is your best friend’s daughter. You don’t want to look cheap, plus they only get married once, right?

 This is such a special occasion – you can’t let them down

–“I am going to splurge”, you tell yourself.

  The store will wrap it in the beautiful silver wedding wrap with the Ivory bow and a nice white dove ornament on it AND they will ship it on the date you want them too.

You justify this as saving money and time not having to go to the store and get a gift.

 “I’ll just put this one thing on my credit card and pay it off next month or the month after that.” You select the cutlery and head to the checkout, -- oh but wait, you can’t check out without giving them some money towards the honeymoon, you add $50 to the pot – and now to check out.

 A few moments later, you hit the “purchase now” button.  “DONE

Whew – that was easy – and kind of a rush.  

The next day, you go to the mailbox and open this month’s credit card bill.  Oh dear, you forgot about that $845 repair on your car last month that you put on your card, intending to pay it off this month along with all those other charges and the balance carried.

  “Wow, I hope I have enough money left over this month to pay this off" 

AND I added onto it again yesterday with the wedding gifts.

"Why do I do this to myself?  I’m never going to catch up!”

You are having buyer’s remorse now, but it’s too late to go back now.  

Have you ever felt this way? Maybe it’s not a wedding, maybe it is a sick pet or family member, or a golf outing with your buddies, is this YOUR normal relationship with your money?

Learn more about how to deal with your money woes

  Read  Secrets of a Closet Millionaire and get well financially!

Michele Ashby, Author of  Secrets of a Closet Millionaire; A Step-by-Step Guide to Financial Freedom – 

Michele Ashby, Author of  Secrets of a Closet Millionaire; A Step-by-Step Guide to Financial Freedom – available now on Amazon, Holistic Financial Guide and Coach, Executive coach and Key-note speaker

You Can Find Michele Ashby's Book Here:

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Saturday, April 25, 2015

Ultra Runner/Ultra Business Athlete by Michele Ashby

Ultra Runner/Ultra Business Athlete by Michele Ashby

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

I am an Ultra Athlete – I have run over 26.2 miles a number of times (way back when it was not so normal) and rowed 24 hours on a Concept II rowing machine (136,010 meters was my longest) and I consider myself an Ultra Business Athlete as well.  Maybe you are too – I meet them every day in my consulting work. 

What is an Ultra Business Athlete? People who are making it happen in their business, company or industry – carrying the responsibilities of many and of one (themselves).   They may consider themselves multi-taskers, and they are hyper-organized, taking on big things that others are too shy, intimidated, risk-averse or tired to.  Ultra Business Athletes know how to pace themselves and to keep on going when others give up or give in. They are aware of their environment at all times and know when to lean in and when to sit back.

I learned my ultra-skills when I was a casual runner and luckily became the running partner of a world-class ultra-runner named Essie Garrett in 1994.  Over a four year span, Essie and I ran thousands of miles together in training and events all over Colorado to raise money and awareness for AIDS, Alzheimer’s, Martin Luther King Day, the homeless, children in need and other causes.  Essie taught me how to pace myself, when to eat and hydrate, when and how to rest, home remedies for aches and pains and all the secrets to overcoming any obstacles and conditions we faced.  

Essie taught me to be patient, take care of myself, and keep putting one foot in front of the other to reach my destination or timeline.  It was never about how fast I was going, rather that I got to the finish line.  Essie’s wisdom was something I carried into the business world and applied to my entrepreneurial endeavors and still serves me today.  These skills enable me to tap into a constant source of energy and keeps me going long after many of my colleagues (even young ones) are done for the day.

How can you do this too?

Literally, you need to think about balance and pacing. It is important to rest as well as work and you want to be conscious of how much you hydrate, what you are eating and how it affects you.  If you drink alcohol and stay out late at night, you have a higher chance of missing an important call or meeting early in the morning.  If you carry a lot of extra weight from eating too much, you tire more easily than others.  If you don’t get enough rest or exercise, it is harder to concentrate and accomplish the tasks you have on your to-do list every day.  

All of us are ultra-athletes when you look at it – we have so many demands on our lives these days between business and personal, it is a balancing act and constant challenge to keep ourselves healthy, full of energy, financially well and emotionally stable.

My top Ultra-business athlete tips are these:

1) Simplify as much as possible – eliminate piles and clutter in all aspects of your life.  

2) Build successful patterns in your life which will save you time, energy and decision making, i.e., use the same hotels, restaurants, coffee shops, transportation, etc.  

3) Drink lots of water every day – keep it nearby and add lemon when you can, because it helps detoxify you.

4) Walk barefoot in the grass whenever possible – connecting your feet to the earth affects your cells and helps balance out your biological energy.

5) Lie down and put your feet up above your heart for 15 minutes a day – this increases circulation and helps you relax.

6) Do one thing at a time – prioritize your list of to-dos and then start with the first one and complete it to the best of your ability before moving on to the next one.

7) Exercise often – everyday if possible which includes walking.  I walk whenever possible, even in the airport if I have a lot of time between flights. I also have a 7-minute workout for those rushed mornings in hotel rooms when I don’t have time to go to the gym – it’s enough to get the blood pumping and the brain going.

8) Always do the hardest thing first – this releases stress, fear and uncertainty and brings us energy.

9) Keep your finances in good order – know when you are overspending and need to cut back – live within your means which minimizes stress because you don’t have debt worry.

10) Discovery and curiosity will always help you stay engaged and young – be interested in what others are doing and thinking, it will keep you fresh and energized and may give you new ideas.

11) Love what you are doing – there is great energy and endurance when we are passionate about what we are doing.

12) Give back – help others, donate, mentor, and hire people.

Michele Ashby, Author of  Secrets of a Closet Millionaire; A Step-by-Step Guide to Financial Freedom – available now on Amazon, Holistic Financial Guide and Coach, Executive coach and Key-note speaker

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What is your story? By D. E Wyatt author of No Good Deeds

What is your Story?”
By: D.E Wyatt (Author of No Good Deed)
April 23,2015

It’s the question that I’m sure every author gets asked at somepoint:


What made you decide to take up writing?”


I’m sure there’s a lot of profound answers out there, but if I had to pick one reason that led me to want to write, I think it’s really pretty self-explanatory:


I did it for the chicks, man.


Now that I’ve got the bad jokes out of my system, and before the offended parties light up their pitchforks, the truth is I’m by nature a very creative person (bad jokes not withstanding). I’ve always been doing something creative; All through high school I was in the band, and my college career actually began on a musical path. I drew, I built models, I cannibalized Lego sets to build X-wing fighters before Lego got the idea to do itthemselves, and I still do a bit of 3D modeling in my spare time.


Writing actually started pretty early for me, and I’ll admit that the very first things I ever wrote were probably Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle-related (I was 7 when the Fred Wolff cartoon first airedcut me some slack). But if I were to pick one thing that truly got me started wanting to write, it was Sierra’s Quest for Glory series.


For those of you who missed out on the glory (no pun intended) days of computer gaming in the 1980s and 1990s, the big genre on the PC was the adventure genre. The Big Two developers of the time were LucasArts and Sierra, who both took two different approaches. LucasArts’s games were much more forgiving, while Sierra delighted in murdering you in as varied, hilarious, and humiliating ways as possible. And I’m not kidding; Leisure Suit Larry killed you in one scene if you flushed the toilet! While console games of the time usually only had as much story as they needed to kick off the gameplay, that wasn’t the case for adventure games. In an adventure game you lived the story.


Nowadays deep storytelling in games is an expectation, and ever since Half-Life even shooters have gotten in on the act. In fact aside for a few genre throwback-style games, it’s quite rare for a game not to have an actual plot guiding it forward, but it’s easy to take for granted that, up until the late-90s, a game having a deep an engaging story was the exception.


In 1989 Sierra brought something a little bit different to the table, mixing their typical text-driven adventure game interface with the now-familiar Fighter/Wizard/Thief trifecta of character classes, along with the ability to build up and improve your skills over the course of the game. Then toss generous helpings of self-referential humor, horrible puns, and winks and nods to Germanic fairy tales and mythology, with a dash of mature and serious plot, and hit “puree.” This was Quest for Glory I, and with one title my love of fantasy, and desire to write fantasy,was born.


The Quest for Glory series stood out even among Sierra’s other adventure series of the era, with an eclectic cast — many of whom recurred throughout the series — and a feeling that the choices the lead character made mattered. It was possible to render the game unwinnable by stealing from the wrong character, or any number of other foolish decisions. And by design the game wouldn’t tell you. With the introduction of the Paladin in Quest for Glory II, those choices became even more important in defining who the character was as a personQuest for Glory IVtook the character development and relationships, and depth of storytelling, even further with the introduction of tragic villain Katrina (voiced by the inimitable Jennifer Hale in her first voiceover role)IV marked one of the first mainstream games ever to make it possible to play the main character as if they were falling in love, even giving a dialog option for it at a critical moment in the plot. It had no effect on the outcome of the game, but almost two decades before Bioware’s RPGs made romance sidequest’s a standard RPG feature, Quest for Glory IVincluded it for no other reason than for storytelling.


My very first fantasy story actually began as a loose Quest for Glory fanfic. Over time it started to evolve, but I was never satisfied with how it was turning out. Throughout high school I played with different ideas to varying degrees of maturity (though never more than a few chapters), reworking some and abandoning others. During that time my dad put The Lord of the Rings in my hands, and to this day I consider Tolkien the standard by which I judge fantasy world-building. It was something I wanted to do: Create a world that could live, breathe, and endure, but somehow I just couldn’t quite find the right formula.


Eventually I decided to take a bit of a step back and try something a bit smaller. Rather than the high fantasy of Gloriana and Middle-earth I set my sights on a world much more low-fantasy, and instead of a sprawling epic I aimed for something a bit smaller and more personal. I knew I wanted to use a female protagonist, which I had worked with on my abortive high fantasy, as the idea of taking the traditional fighting, drinking, and wenching antihero, but making him a woman instead, appealed to me. TV Tropes would call her The Lad-ette, and it was a way to play with the conventions and expectations of the reader. The first attempt wasn’t quite right, so I borrowed the elements I thought worked and played with what didn’t.


One of the first steps I took in revising the story was how I developed the world in which it was set. Ever since I first stepped into the world of Gloriana I had an interest in swords and swordfightingIn addition to boffer fighting (which I still regularly participate in. Don’t get any ideas from Role Models, the group I’m in is very hard-contact. Think high school-level hockey with swords) I did a bit of sport fencing in college, but most recently — around the time I was first working on this shorter story — I began studying Western Martial Arts, and I used that as my inspiration. I chose the Holy Roman Empire of the mid-15th Century as a loose basis for the setting and created a new world built around that society and history. I retained something of the protagonist of that first short story, and tweaked her background a bit further. I also gave her a traveling companion rather than having her on her own, and set my two ne’er-do-wells on an adventure that was a bit over their heads, but not so much that I risked veering into Grimdark.


That was how my first published work, No Good Deed..., came to fruition, and it all began with the words “So you want to be a hero...” on the back of a game box.

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"Meet an Author Who Can't Not Write." By Patricia Fry

 "Meet an Author Who Can't Not Write." By:   Patricia Fry  July 16, 2017 There are some careers that provoke i...