Author Archives: Susan

It’s the release day for Safe House!

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Safe House (Tales from the Sheep Farm Book 3)

Woo hoo! It’s here! It’s here! It’s here!

Yep, book three in the Tales from the Sheep Farm series, Safe House, releases TODAY. Thanks to everyone who bought it — and its two predecessors, Maybe the Bird Will Rise and Populated — at its presale pricing.

I don’t know what to tell you about this book. It continues the story of Mack and Tess and their hunt for the answers of the Mackenzie treasure and legacy. It’s my pandemic book, in its own way. And it’s a story of a person with a lot of baggage and secrets that simply cannot remain hidden any longer.

Of course, like the entire Sheep Farm project, there’s plenty of found family here.

Oh, heck. Here’s what the back cover says:

A deadly virus is bearing down on the world and Emerson Mackenzie, CEO of PharmaScience Technologies—now back in its ancestral home of Port Kenneth, Tennessee—opens up the historic Mackenzie house on the family’s defunct sheep farm to six people: himself, his wife Tess Cartieri, his house manager, two members of his board of directors, and his executive assistant, Taylor Alexander.

Taylor won’t abandon Emerson, but at the same time, they don’t want to be there. Taylor has secrets, a past and memories they cannot face, and they fear that being locked in a house with five others will be entirely too revealing.

Taylor’s passion is to be outside, hiking, in a world that makes sense to them, and Emerson harnesses that, asking Taylor to map the boundaries of the old sheep farm and maybe help discover secrets buried on the land. Taylor is glad to do so, although the secrets they help Emerson and Tess discover are immediately darker and more disturbing than any had expected.

As the virus rages, as tensions across the country simmer, as relationships within the house change, and as the land gives up its secrets, Taylor realizes time has grown short. Their secrets cannot remain hidden any longer.

When they spill, Taylor is exposed for all in the house to see.

And every person inside the house responds in ways Taylor never expected.

Like the first two books in the series — and the ones coming after — this was a ton of fun to write.

Pick up your copy. As always, my books are available at every retailer who’ll carry them, and via such library apps as Hoopa and Overdrive/Libby. Yes, I get paid if you read the book via the library! So if your book budget is thin, there’s a solution for you. (Granted, not all library systems play nice with Hoopla or Libby, and may not carry certain books. But go ahead and ask for ’em anyway. It’s good for them to hear what you’d like to read.)

A reminder for you Large Print lovers: All books in the Tales from the Sheep Farm series are available in Large Print. I recomment either B&N or Bookshop.org

As always, I am eager to know your thoughts. You’ve seen me say it over and over, but it’s so very true…
The best way to help an author is to buy a copy of a book for a friend.
The next best way is to tell a friend.
The third best way is to leave a review online. And in fact, if you’d like to join my reviewing team, drop me an email! I’d love to send you a free copy, and there’s no need to be all “I am afraid to leave a one-star review” in my world. Your opinion matters more than an algorithm.

People are treasures too. That includes you and your opinion of my books.

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All the Books

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Maybe the Bird Will Rise

We’re leading with Maybe the Bird Will Rise today because Mack and Tess ended a week bookended with books. (Oh, my. If I wrote that into my fiction, I’d edit it on out. This, however, is not fiction, and so I will not.)

Last Sunday, authors Joyce Tremel/Joyce St. Anthony and Amanda Flower did a joint conversation and book signing, hosted by Pittsburgh-based Riverstone books. Best of all, they came to the McCandless store, which is closer for me than their city-based store. Although give me a reason to go to the city and I’ll usually grab it.

It was great fun, and I encourage you all to pick up Joyce and Amanda’s books. I had every opportunity to and… honestly? After ten years of having a rigid book budget of $0.00, I don’t want an overflowing bookshelf. (I actually have recently culled my shelves and have more than a few boxes to haul off to resell.)

And then I got word of a new bookstore opening in town. Reading Ready Pittsburgh, it’s called, and I am 100% behind this. Not only should we support an effort to get families and kids reading from the get-go, but those kids deserve to see themselves on the page, too. As do we adults!

On the editing front, since I was just doing a re-read this week, I knocked that out and surprised myself by getting it back to its author on Friday. But it was good, and interesting, the change from first person to third changed the book’s genre! How was that for a fascinating discovery?

This week, I’m tackling a debut romance from a new client. So yes! If you want to work with me, I may take you on! (I do not take on everyone, because you deserve the best client for you.)

And then I ended the week with another book event… my own! With seven others, but still. We did a panel discussion that was comfortable, relaxed, fun, and had total strangers riffing on each other in a good-natured way, and then we retreated to our tables and sold books. Not quite all the books, but enough to make me happy! One reader told me the plot of Populated was more interesting to her than the plot of the Bird, and that’s super! (also, not unexpected… it’s the art thief that gets everyone.)

So this is your reminder that you CAN read Populated first. Or you can even read only the odd-numbered books and only the even-numbered books in the Tales from the Sheep Farm series. And, of course, the ebook version of Populated is still on sale for $2.99 at your favorite retailers, including my own shop, if you too need a copy because what’s this about an art thief?

And, of course, Maybe the Bird Will Rise is 99c, and so is the preorder of Safe House and gosh darn it, but I forgot to plug Safe House’s presale yesterday… This is why I have a lot of signs on my table.

Grab a book — Hell, grab all the books — while the sale is on. And remember to leave reviews (I encourage you to leave HONEST reviews. A one-star review never killed an author and I won’t see it anyway.)!

If you’re an author who needs me, reach on out. I’m here, and the queue is starting to get a little thin.

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Safe House is up for preorder!

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Safe House (Tales from the Sheep Farm Book 3)

There’s been a lot of chatter this week on socials about quick releasing books. I stand by the practice… IF the author can hold off on publishing until their books are the best possible, they’ve been through editing… in other words, don’t rush. Publishing is the long game, so it’s smart to make sure you’re playing to your best advantage.

That’s what I’ve done with the first four books in the Sheep Farm series. (I’m working on Book Five right now, in fact, and I do hope to have it out for you by the end of 2024.)

Which brings us to today’s subject matter: Safe House, Tales From the Sheep Farm #3 is up for preorder at all the usual retailers. And like always, it’s 99c

Here’s your universal book link.

I’ll have my amazing web person update the books page soon, but in the meantime, here’s the book description:

A deadly virus is bearing down on the world and Emerson Mackenzie, CEO of PharmaScience Technologies—now back in its ancestral home of Port Kenneth, Tennessee—opens up the historic Mackenzie house on the family’s defunct sheep farm to six people: himself, his wife Tess Cartieri, his house manager, two members of his board of directors, and his executive assistant, Taylor Alexander.

Taylor won’t abandon Emerson, but at the same time, they don’t want to be there. Taylor has secrets, a past and memories they cannot face, and they fear that being locked in a house with five others will be entirely too revealing.

Taylor’s passion is to be outside, hiking, in a world that makes sense to them, and Emerson harnesses that, asking Taylor to map the boundaries of the old sheep farm and maybe help discover secrets buried on the land. Taylor is glad to do so, although the secrets they help Emerson and Tess discover are immediately darker and more disturbing than any had expected.

As the virus rages, as tensions across the country simmer, as relationships within the house change, and as the land gives up its secrets, Taylor realizes time has grown short. Their secrets cannot remain hidden any longer.

When they spill, Taylor is exposed for all in the house to see.

And every person inside the house responds in ways Taylor never expected.

If you’ve read the first two books, or even just Maybe the Bird Will Rise, you’ve met Taylor. But now you get to really know them. So did I as I wrote this, and I really like who Taylor revealed themself to be.

If you need a copy of Maybe the Bird Will Rise or Populated, both are on sale right now to celebrate the release of Safe House.

And of course, if your library uses either Hoopla or Overdrive/Libby, look for me there. I get paid, the library gets circulation numbers, you get books within your budget… it’s a win-win-win for everyone.

On the editing front, I’m going to be finishing up one that’s taken me longer than I would have liked, but it needed a lot of attention and love. Next up in the editing queue is a genre switch by an established author. This is the second time I’ve gone over it for her (reminder that I charge half the original amount when you ask me to do this) and I’m anxious to see her improvements. This author, like all of my clients, is more than willing to do the hard work, and it shows. Watching her develop as a writer has been a pleasure and a privilege.

Next week (Feb. 3), I’ll be appearing with a few other authors at the Peters Township library here in the Pittsburgh region. If you’re nearby, come see me and my friends! Event flyer for Peters Township Library event.

That’s it from this end. Expect more of these updates and let me know what you think of them!

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Short Fiction for Short Moments of Time

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Broken but Undaunted: Collected StoriesMy Broken but Undaunted is part of a promotion via BookFunnel that’s featuring short works.

I think it’s the only collection in the group, but don’t quote me on that!

My mom was a big fan of short stories. She repeatedly took a class via our local Osher program (well, one of them, as both Pitt and Carnegie Mellon have their own) that was all about short stories. And she wasn’t wrong; short stories are an art form of their own. When you take creative writing classes at the university (or graduate) level, that’s one of the first things that becomes blatantly apparent.

Now, this promo features a lot of novellas which are, again, their own art form. More complex than short stories, less complex than a novel. They can have subplots or not; it’s all a matter of what the piece demands and the skill of the reader.

So I’m glad to be part of this promotion. I love that it’s about short work.

But there’s one other thing that has me excited to be part of this: It’s multi-genre. And that means exploration is imminent.

I went and explored what was on offer. I downloaded a bunch of books, and I hope they’re all good. Some are tie-ins to existing series. Some aren’t. It’s a wide, exciting grouping of short works — perfect for this time of year when we’re all so time crunched.

Go and find something for yourself.

And as always, if your book budget doesn’t allow for everything you want, you can take my book out of your local library via the Overdrive/Libby app. (It’s not on Hoopla yet and I don’t know why, especially because Maybe the Bird Will Rise is) OR you can hit me up for a review copy — just remember to follow my rules of review copies (You must post a review online — and let me know! — within one year. One-star reviews are fine; people are treasures too and that means your opinions are valid and respected, at least by me and my team. But you only get one book at a time, and if you don’t get a review up, don’t ask for another review copy.)

If you choose the library route, I’m more than a fan of that — I still get paid! It’s not a lot, but who cares? It all adds up.

Also, remember to check out my books for others you may like. With the Sheep Farm coming out relatively quickly (Populated releases on Tuesday! Are you ready?), I’m going to be asking you to do a lot of reading. Go ahead. Use those library apps.

But mostly, check out the books in this promo with Broken but Undaunted. Expand your horizons with a good short story or novella — or collection of short stories, like Broken but Undaunted!

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Two Weeks Until Your Lives are Populated

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Populated (Tales from the Sheep Farm Book 2)

Cover for Populated, written by Susan Helene Gottfried

Two weeks to go.

I know I’m throwing books at you fast. That’s the idea: The faster I get ’em to you, the happier the people who like to see most, if not all of a series up for sale before they start reading. And it makes for better promotions when there’s a long backlist. Readers like those, and Populated will be my tenth release.

Now, if you picked up Maybe the Bird Will Rise (and over a thousand of you did! Thank you!), you may think you know what to expect.

If you’re expecting a tale set in the fictional city of Port Kenneth, TN, you’re right.

If you’re expecting something like Maybe the Bird Will Rise, which gets into heavy territory with Mack’s family history, well, think again.

Populated is the story of Delia Ford, street photographer and Port Kenneth social media darling, and what happens when someone breaks into the Woolslayer Gallery and steals all her art. And only her art.

We’re not kidding when we say all. Delia is suitably impressed.

Add in a slow-burn romance with a man early readers said is their new book boyfriend, an across-the-hall neighbor who is retired from the Bank of Port Kenneth, a family you love to hate (or hate to love), and oops, the ire of one of the less savory families in town, and you’ve got a story that expands the world of Port Kenneth into directions you may not have seen coming.

Grab your copy ASAP. I’m not doing any price drops until after the new year, so once the price goes back up after release day on the 21st, it’s going to stay there.

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The Axe by Linda Griffin in the Featured New Book Spotlight

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Let’s welcome Linda Griffin back to West of Mars!

If you’ve missed her in the past, you can catch up with her here:
Guilty Knowledge
Love, Death, and the Art of Cooking
Bridges
Reluctant Hearts

Look at that backlist! If you haven’t explored it yet, why not? It’s all right there, so have some fun!

Today, though, Linda is back with a new book. This time, it’s called The Axe, and somehow, I don’t think we’re talking about the body spray.

But before we get into what sort of Axe we’re talking about, let’s get into the tunes. I mean, let’s face it. Tunes make the world a happier place. Although it’s true that so do good books.

So… Linda Griffin, what song makes you think of your new book, The Axe?

“Lizzie Borden” by the Rumjacks because the murder victims were “hacked to death in daylight.” But remember that Lizzie Borden was acquitted…

Oh, my! WHAT are we in for????

(Also, this song? Is wild, y’all, as one of my editing clients would say.)

Here’s the book description. Are you ready? I am sure curious!

Sweethearts Eric Leidheldt and Desiree Chauveau are spending a weekend at his uncle’s cabin when they encounter two strangers cutting wood. Eric is knocked unconscious, and Desi is viciously attacked. The following day two police officers come to their apartment to arrest Desi. Her assailants are dead, murdered with an axe, and her fingerprints are on it. She confesses–but is she really guilty? Eric is determined to stand by her, but the physical and emotional effects of the attack severely challenge their relationship.

WHAT???? This sounds crazy, and in all the good, nightmarish ways. (Or am I the only one who’s been terrified of being framed for something I never did? Really?)

Grab a copy because hello, what’s really going on here?
Amazon
Apple
B&N
Google Play
Kobo

Remember, if you pick it up and read it, the best way to thank an author is to buy a second copy for a friend. The second best way is to tell a friend about it. And the third best? Leave an online review!

Also, connect with Linda online.
Facebook
Twitter
Instagram
YouTube

One more thing to keep in mind: I do this as a labor of love to help out my fellow authors. If you’re an author, or if you have a friend who is, or heck, even an enemy, send ’em over to fill out the form and I’ll feature them as well.

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Maybe the Bird Will Rise… Book One of Tales from the Sheep Farm

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Cover for Susan Helene Gottfried's Maybe the Bird Will Rise

Are you ready?

I am.

And I am not.

But here we go!

Book One of Tales From the Sheep Farm, Maybe the Bird Will Rise, is up for preorder, with an on-sale date of September 26. That’s not very far away from right now!

To entice you toward the preorder, do I have a deal for you. It’s 99c through the end of September. And then it’ll go back up to its regular price of $5.99. That’s five bucks off!

That’s because I want you to read this book. I want you to love Mack and Tess and the fictional city of Port Kenneth as much as I do. I want you to find alligators. I want you to think about issues of racial justice and equality. (If you’re an author, I want you to enter my world and write a book set here. I want to hear YOUR voice, real and raw and powerful and often censored by other spots within this publishing ecosystem.)

I want this book, and this series, to challenge you. To make you think. To strive to do tikkun olam, the Jewish act of healing the world.

Ready for what Maybe the Bird Will Rise is about?

Tess Cartieri has called Port Kenneth, TN home for her entire life. An architect specializing in urban renewal, she’s long dreamed of renovating an old sports field at her alma mater, Kenilworth University. But without the funding, the field sits, forgotten—until the day she’s hired to take on this project at last.

The money is coming from, of all people, the man Tess set free after college, Emerson Mackenzie. He had shared this dream with Tess but had turned his back on her and Port Kenneth when the family business needed him.

But now Mack is back in Tess’ life, still reeling from the recent loss of his wife and hoping this project will help him heal. There’s something about Port Kenneth, though, something more than how normal and natural it feels to be with Tess again, that calls to him and he begins investigating what it would take to move his company to the city.

Old family secrets come out of hiding and as Mack and Tess face them together and discover the legacy of the Mackenzie Treasure, they cement their commitment to each other and begin to understand how the past will affect their futures.
Maybe the Bird Will Rise is a story of the search for answers, the hope that adventures brings, and a second chance at love.

See those last four words? This book isn’t a romance, for a bunch of reasons. But there’s romance here, or at least a rekindling of what was, as two people move forward to a future full of uncertainty and secrets.

Seriously. This is the place. This is the time.

Pick up your copy; here’s the universal link!

Need to know more about the entire Tales From the Sheep Farm project? Follow this link, and I’m glad to share. If you have questions, reach out! Don’t be shy. People are treasures too — and that includes you!

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Broken but Undaunted: Collected Stories — Another new book by Susan!

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book cover for Susan Helene Gottfried's collection, Broken but Undaunted

Whew, have I been busy, or what?

Definitely not “or what.” I have been busy.

This collection was even easier to put together. It’s shorter than Permission to Enter by almost half! (That’s because there’s no novella in there… Among other reasons.) All I had to do was make sure no typos had crept in and… we were off to the races. Even the title came to me easily — Broken and Undaunted are the titles of two of the stories, so it was a matter of… well, Broken but Undaunted just fit, didn’t it? It certainly ties the theme in with Permission to Enter.

When I stopped and thought about the stories in here, I was actually surprised. Almost all of them are either tie-ins to the Trevolution series from all those years ago. The two that aren’t are the two most recently written — if 2011 and 2015 count as recent!

The point, though, was to gather the stories into one spot. Many of them are now out of print, and it’s fun to have them for posterity. Look at how far I’ve come… or just go visit with my old friends. I’m glad to stand behind these stories. They encapsulate a period of time in my life, and I had a really good time revisiting them as I weighed whether or not to publish them like this.

Pick up your copy of Broken but Undaunted.

Also, bear in mind that starting at Authors in the Steel City in 2024, you’ll be able to pick up special print editions with the cool dark covers designed by Lex Valentine! (The covers for this and Permission were designed by Rachel Bowdler and I’m proud to work with both women on this project.)

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Permisson to Enter: Susan’s First New Book in Years

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Book cover for Susan Helene Gottfried's book Permission to Enter

I honestly never thought this day would come. And to be honest, being primarily an editor is great fun and I love it and I hope that no matter where this author ride takes me, I remain an editor first.

But.

I had a couple days back in March without editing work. And that’s NEVER good. Idle Susan equals trouble, in big, fat, screaming capital letters.

So I decided to channel that trouble and dig through my hard drive. It wasn’t as much of a mess as I thought, which is good. And I knew all this material was there, so it was a matter of taking a good hard look at it through my editorial lens, not my Susan-who-wrote-this lens, and I decided I have enough material to bring you a collection of short stories.

I know. I know. Believe me, after the Demo Tapes, I know! Short stories don’t sell.

In this case, I don’t care. There’s some strategy here, but mostly, this collection is full of material I’m really proud of, really confident of. And I want to share it with the world. (That means you.)

So. Permission to Enter.

Now, I hope a few (only ten!) copies will have arrived by the time the Books Books Books Festival in Lititz, PA happens at the end of September (If you’re nearby, come see me!). BUT in 2024, you’ll be able to pick up special editions with special covers. The content will remain the same. It’s just going to be an in-person bonus of sorts with a slick cover that’s kind of opposite this one, and it’s just perfect and I love it too.

So go and pick up your own copy of Permission to Enter.

Oh! Wait! You need to see the official description, especially because I love it as much as I love the stories themselves.

Permission to Enter

Women feature in this collection of short stories and one novella. Women regaining their power, moving forward through life, learning to face and deal with their pasts. These women have lived, loved, and lost. They have optimism for the future and darkness in their pasts. They have been granted permission to enter, they have seized it, or else they stand ready to do so.

Really, they’re just like us.

Okay! Universal Buy Link to make sure you can pick up the book where you’d like! If your library supports Overdrive or Bibliotheca, you can read it that way! Hoopla is coming at some point, if that’s your poison. I do encourage and support library use, so I hope you do the same.

And, as I say every time I post a Featured New Book Spotlight, remember that the best way to thank an author for their hard work is to gift a copy to your friend. The next best way is to recommend it. And the third? Leave an online review.

Have at it. Have fun.

I’m really proud of this little collection!

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Remnants of Fire by Alana Lorens in the Featured New Book Spotlight

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Book cover for Remnants of Fire book written by Alana LorensHoly smoke. This book makes the sixth one Alana Lorens has dropped in to tell us about. Sixth! I don’t know about you, but I’m in awe of that sort of prolific output. (She must keep her editors busy and I approve of that, knowing the trouble I get into when I am not busy.)

Today’s book is called Remnants of Fire, which is such a provocative title. That can mean so much!

So let’s get to it. Alana Lorens, what song makes you think of your new book, Remnants of Fire?

Newspaper reporters are driven to dig deep for their stories, even when the subjects of their investigations don’t want people to see what’s buried there. This is true for Sara in her new position at the paper, as well a her friends.

“Music of the Night” from Phantom of the Opera would be it. Not only did I discover Phantom during the period I first wrote this, but there are comparable themes in the stories. Heroine Sara Woods is swayed by her teacher into certain beliefs that could save her life–or end it.

Comparable themes? Yikes! But at the same time, you’ve got to read the official book description of Remnants of Fire… Ready? I am!

Looking for a fresh start, Sara Woods takes a job as a news reporter in a small town. Her first assignment for the Ralston Courier is to investigate of a string of deaths, all young women, all her age.

To deal with chronic back pain, she seeks help at a local healing center. She soon becomes convinced that there is something strange about the Goldstone Clinic. Its doctors and nurses are all the picture of perfect beauty and health, while their patients at first seem to improve and then mysteriously deteriorate.

Dr. Rick Paulsen, a physician at the local hospital, offers to teach Sara how to access her internal power, enhancing hidden skills and revealing secrets from her past.

Police officer Brendon Zale also takes an interest in Sara, watching her every move and trying to get close to her.

The deeper she digs into the Goldstone, the harder it is to deny links to the paranormal. Can she figure out what is going on and who to trust before it’s too late?

NB: This story was previously released as Love Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me. It has been rewritten and new material added.

That is NOT the comparison to Phantom that I was expecting — and I am glad of it! (This actually sounds way better and the paranormal twist has me certainly extremely curious.)

Get your copy!
Smashwords

B&N

Amazon

And hey, before you connect with Alana Lorens, check out her past time in the bright light of the Featured New Book Spotlight!
Second Chances
Tender Misdemeanors
Encounter
A Rose by Any Other Name
Prophecies and Promises

Okay, now it’s time to connect with Alana so you can talk to her about Remnants of Fire

Website
Facebook
Goodreads
Amazon Author Page
Bookbub
Twitter
Instagram
Book Trailer

And remember! The best way to say thanks to an author for a good book is to buy it for a friend. But other really good ways include telling friends about it — and strangers, too, via a review. Be sure to leave a review online; it helps make a book more visible to the buying public. And we don’t want to keep these gems all to ourselves, do we?

No, no we do not.

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The Solace of Denim by Kathy Otten in the Featured New Book Spotlight

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Book cover for The Solace of Denim, written by Kathy OttenLet’s welcome my fellow Pennwriter, Kathy Otten, to West of Mars!

Kathy has a new book out that she’d like to tell us about, so let’s get to it. Kathy, what song makes you think of The Solace of Denim?

Music has a power to heal and guide us when we are at our most troubled. The father of the murdered boy in this story is a former band member and follows his rock idols when he is his most despondent at the loss of his son. The denim jacket his son wore–the one that comes to young Joey, our hero–is bedecked with patches from the great bands of that era.

The song that makes me think of this story is Bob Seger’s TURN THE PAGE, a song about the ups and downs of life on the road. (In fact, it’s also the title of the musician’s biography, written by Edward Sarkis Balian.) Lines like “You pretend it doesn’t bother you/but you just want to explode” define the journey Joey is going through to a T. He is coming from one of the worst experiences a child can have–nearly murdered by his own father–to being accused of the murder of the only friend he has in his lonely foster child existence. But he finds help in the most unlikely place he can imagine.

Now, longtime readers and fans of West of Mars will recognize that I am a total Rock Fiction junkie. Which means that no matter how heavy this sounds, I’m there. (Also? “Turn the Page” was the song for Trevor’s Song, my first novel.)

What’s the book description, though? In case this wasn’t enough to hook you?

The victim of a horrific crime, fifteen-year-old Joey Kowalski has bounced around in the foster care system for six years. When his only friend Luke is murdered, suspicion falls on Joey.

As evidence mounts against him, Luke’s denim jacket appears in Joey’s closet. When he puts on the jacket, he gets visions of Luke’s murder and hears Luke’s voice in his head. Can Joey convince Luke’s father, Detective Marek, to look past his grief and help him find the real killer?

Whoa… mystery clothing! I’m there. Are you?

Pick up your copy of The Solace of Denim:
Amazon
eBook at Apple
eBook at Kobo
eBook at Smashwords — on sale for 99 cents in July!

And connect with Kathy!
Website
Facebook
Goodreads
Amazon Author Page
Book trailer
Bookbub

Remember that the best way to show thanks to an author is to buy copies of their books for your friends! Next to that is telling people about a great book, and then we have the old “leave an online review” option. All are great, and when you can do all three, authors benefit. We want authors to benefit — if they don’t, they won’t keep publishing their writing for us to read! (Yes, it really IS that simple.)

And, as always, be sure to send your friends and your colleagues over for their turn in the spotlight. I’m glad to host them!

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The Scout: Legends of Pern Coen by Hannah E Carey

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Book Cover for The Scout by Hannah E. CareyI love repeat offenders around here, and Hannah E. Carey (or just Hannah Carey, or just Hannah, as I know her) is always a favorite in particular. Today, she’s got The Scout: Legends of Pern Coen to tempt us. And let me tell you…

I’m excited to bring you news of an impending release! Order it now and either wait until tomorrow, or, if you’re reading this on Tuesday the 23rd or later, you won’t have to wait at all! How can you argue with that timing?

I sure can’t.

So let’s get to the book because you’re going to be itching to read this once you get through this post and I’m going to warn you now: You’ll need to read the first installment (The Shifter) to get the most out of this one. Ready?

Hannah, what song makes you think of your book?

A Storm Is Coming”- Tommee Profitt & Liv Ash

The Scout is Book 2 in a trilogy and as any good middle installment, everything more or less goes to hell. The first book really built up the brewing darkness in the land and in the second installment, the heroine, Seren, and hero, Bran, are forced to deal with the storm that’s been created by that darkness. This line of the song in particular really resonated with me:

A storm is comin’
That you can’t escape
Tears are fallin’
Like blood and rain

Seren’s father (who is also the clan leader) has been trying to ignore the darkness that’s right in front of him, but as it grows in power, there’s no escaping it. And while Seren and Bran know this, there are many in their clan, Seren’s father included, who don’t want to heed their warnings and want to live in denial instead. But that denial costs the clan greatly, in both bloodshed and heartache, and it’s up to Bran & Seren to put a stop to it all.

Yeah. This. I don’t think the book description can get any better, but here it is:

Will they survive Fianna’s flames?

Seren has saved Bran’s life, but their hardest battle is yet to come. Fianna is gaining ground in the land of Blaidd as Cadfael refuses to unleash the full power of the war band against it. The future of the clan looks bleak and Seren is hearing whispers in the Spirit Realm. Ones that speak of a power that hasn’t been woken for over a hundred years.

If they want to save their people and their land, Bran and Seren will have to defy Cadfael in every sense imaginable. But will it be enough? And will they, and their love, survive the flames of destruction that threaten to devour them?

Epic fantasy meets shifter romance in part two of this Celtic inspired romantic fantasy trilogy featuring elaborate world building, shapeshifters, a fierce heroine, a morally grey hero with a hidden heart of gold, dark magic, fire monsters, forbidden love, and low spice romance.

Woo, right? And sheesh. This song! I think it was Hannah who first introduced me to Tommee Profit and wow wow wow. That’s one artist who’s become a favorite around here, and this song’s no exception.

Get your copy NOW! Lots of buying options, so pick your favorite:
My Direct Store
Apple
Kobo
Barnes & Noble
Google Play
Smashwords
Amazon

And be sure to connect with Hannah. She’s one of those people you want in your social circle. (Just not so much that she runs out of time to write!)
Website
Facebook
Instagram
GoodReads
Ream

If you’ve missed Hannah’s other visits here at West of Mars, here you go!
The Hunter’s Featured New Book Spotlight
The Betrayer’s Featured New Book Spotlight
The Shifter’s Featured New Book Spotlight

Of course, if you’re still here and not busily buying Hannah’s backlist, let me remind you that leaving online reviews — thoughtful reviews that are oh, so much better than high school critical papers — is always the second best way to show appreciation for an author’s hard work. The first way, of course, is a tie between buying the author’s books and telling your friends to buy their books.

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Reluctant Hearts by Linda Griffin in the Featured New Book Spotlight

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Let’s welcome our buddy Linda Griffin back to West of Mars!

You all know I love repeat visitors, and I hope you’re having fun following the careers of these authors. I personally love watching authors grow and mature and settle into their craft of writing. And man, do we get some good books for it!

Today’s book is Reluctant Hearts, and let’s let Linda tell us what song makes her think of it:

“I’ll Never Fall in Love Again” by Burt Bacharach and Hal David because the characters in Reluctant Hearts aren’t ready for new relationships. Unexpected love may triumph though!

Whoa, this is an oldie, but wow, has it held up well. Not as a contemporary song but as a song that stamps the time it was written and made famous. It’s so much fun! Be sure to give it a listen.

Let’s get back to the book.

So you know, this book releases today!

Ready for what it’s about, so you know what you’re buying?

Four couples, four stories:
Darien Francis and Richard Li meet during a bank robbery, but she’s afraid to love again.
Shane Kenniston and Beth Parker are reacquainted years after she had a crush on him, but she is a recent widow, and Shane’s life was upended by a false accusation.
David Early and Kate Howard meet in the laundromat, but her life is consumed by the needs of her disabled child, and David isn’t ready for the responsibility.
Realtor Frank Ellison meets Kayla Barnes at an open house, but a mistaken first impression derails any chance of romance.
Can they all overcome the obstacles to love?

Lots of trauma and messiness in here… just like real life, no? I love it. I love messiness.

Pick up a copy of Reluctant Hearts!
Amazon
Amazon print
Barnes and Noble
Apple
Bookshop.org
Indiebound

Connect with Linda:
Website
Goodreads
Facebook
Twitter
Instagram

If you’ve missed Linda’s past visits, this is a great time to go check them out, too!
Bridges
Love, Death, and the Art of Cooking
Guilty Knowledge

Remember: The Featured New Book Spotlight is here for you if you’re an author, your friends, the authors you love to hate, whoever! If you’ve got a book that makes you think of a song, come on by.

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Fire! Fire! And, of course, Archery

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Young man in a Pitt Archery Club jersey at full draw with a recurve bow

That’s a USA Archery certified coach, an archer who was nationally ranked in the top 100 as a collegiate archer, and a high school JOAD state champ (those last two in his category, of course). He’s my first resource when I have a question about archery. He’s also the person who got me so involved in the sport, and immersed me in a sport I respect, adore, and want to see presented properly on the pages of fiction.

So when I saw another editor with a hot take that said something along the lines of, “It’s not proper to use the word fire in association with archery,” I wasn’t real happy. How many tournaments and practice sessions and lessons have I sat through where the coaches (also USAA-certified) had said things like “Hold your fire,” “Do not fire your bow,” and even “Step up to the firing line.” Heck, there’s even a term in archery — DRY FIRE — that is one of the first things you learn when you pick up a bow, because dry firing a bow (that means pulling the string back to full draw, ready to fire, but without an arrow, and yet you let the string go as if an arrow is present) is BAD. Do not dry fire!

Seriously. It’s one of the first lessons with a bow. (Instead, for those of you who are curious, let the string down in a controlled fashion.)

But to be safe, I double-checked with Mr. USAA-Certified pictured above. Yep, my memory’s still good. But, he said to me, “I wonder what the etymology for using the term fire with an arrow is.”

It’s a good question. I wondered that too. This kid often asks me good questions, like “What does Apocalyptica sound like live?” and “Where is the Roxian Theater, and what does it look like inside?” We found out together. It was fun.

So… I did as deep a dive as I could. I even reached out to Lancaster Archery, which is kind of the gold standard of retail, at least here outside of Pittsburgh. The kid satisfied his question about what it’s like there when he went for a National Indoor Championship shoot a couple years back. Like I said, we do our best to learn the things we have questions about.

What I found, since that’s what you’re all dying to know, is that at least from what I found, we won’t know if the term “fire” is something that came before or after the introduction of firearms. The rest of this lengthy post will explain what I found and my thinking.

All this said, if you have legitimate sources of information on this topic, bring it. I’d love to learn.

Okay. Let’s start where the kid suggested I start: with the etymology of the word FIRE:

English fire was applied to “ardent, burning” passions or feelings from mid-14c. Meaning “discharge of firearms, action of guns, etc.” is from 1580s.

That clearly mentions firearms. And a lot of people make the assumption that this is where it begins as an archery term. But I am not convinced of that! Here’s why. That same definition goes to to say:

Symbolic fire and the sword is by c. 1600 (translating Latin flamma ferroque absumi); earlier yron and fyre (1560s), with suerd & flawme (mid-15c.), mid fure & mid here (“with fire and armed force”), c. 1200.

Okay, but that’s a noun, and we’re looking at the verb. What does this page say about that? Well. Hmm. Here we go. The word as a verb traces back to 1200 CE. Here’s more:

1660s. Meaning “to discharge artillery or a firearm” (originally by application of fire) is from 1520s; extended sense of “to throw (as a missile)” is from 1580s. Fire away in the figurative sense of “go ahead” is from 1775.

But note! That’s artillery or a firearm. There’s no note about archery, arrows, bows. Nothing. Why is that? Is that because it was so common that no one wrote it down, or was it so UNcommon that there was nothing to write down? And when DID the first documentation of the use of the word begin to be attached to archery? THAT, I do not know. I’d love to. If you’ve got that information, send it along.

However, the timeframe to associate the word “fire” with firearms works… sort of. After all, firearms date back to the 10th Century (CE), and by 1380 were found across Europe. They’d first been brought to Europe in the 13th Century (CE) by travelers of the Silk Road.

It’s an easy association to make, no? FIREarms. To discharge. Fire your firearm. But it makes ya wonder what people were saying for those two hundred years between the firearm’s arrival in Europe and the documentation of the term.

And still, I’m not convinced that the term wasn’t used for archery prior to the proliferation of firearms. There’s no proof one way or the other, just anecodotes that English longbowmen would say “Loosen” during warfare. Again, I’d love a source for this. I’m really fascinated!

So, while I didn’t write down all my sources for what comes next (and I’m kicking myself for that, too; you’d think I’d know better), here’s some of what I’ve found that makes me wonder if the term “fire” as associated with an arrow predates the use of “fire” with firearms.

Ever heard of Greek Fire? It predates the Chinese development of the firearm by three centuries (7th Century CE). It was used in warfare, and the linked article includes this gem:

many writers of antiquity refer to flaming arrows,

Flaming arrows! YES! Arrows on fire!

There’s a problem with setting most arrows on fire (Greek Fire being an exception) and shooting them, though. Fire needs oxygen to survive, and when something is flying through the air at speed, the flame tends to go out. So while incendiary arrows are sexy as hell, especially as a gesture with a funeral pyre, unless we’re talking Greek Fire, which seems to have solved the problem of being extinguished, incendiary arrows really weren’t a thing. Still, Greek Fire was clearly able to defy that, and Greek Fire incendiary arrows were definitely a thing.

If an arrow on fire was able to fly through the air… Well, I think it’s possible that the term “fire” became associated with archery at that time. Three centuries before the development of the firearm during the Song Dynasty.

Now, here’s another fact to consider. The term “fire arrow” was used in 9th Century China. This Wikipedia page has some really cool facts, including mention of earlier incendiary arrows. Check this line from the site:

Although the fire arrow is most commonly associated with its rocket mechanism, it originally consisted of a pouch of gunpowder attached to an arrow.

So again, we’re back to arrows being linked to an ability to ignite… or to catch on fire. And given the way we twist language today, it’s not a stretch to think that someone along the line started saying “fire” in assocation with arrows coated in Greek Fire, or that it was a shorthand for using a Fire Arrow in place of a regular boring old arrow without pockets of gunpowder. I’m not saying it’s a sure thing, but it’s also not a stretch of believability.

What if it began accidentally? If someone misfired and an incendiary arrow landed nearby, people screamed “fire” and others loosed their bows so that they could get the shot off before the fire became a problme? And what if it stuck?

What if…

What if…

This is one I don’t think we’re going to find out so fast, although I’m still intrigued. Not all questions are so easy to answer, especially when we have to stop and take a look at what’s been lost to history (or altered to fit certain narratives).

But I’m 100% confident when I say that it’s perfectly acceptable to use the term “fire” when discussing shooting an arrow, be it in a work of fiction with a contemporary setting or a historical one.

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It happened as we rushed by #SaystheEditor

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Ad for West of Mars Editing services

More from the list of homophones — or, as I like to call ’em, words that sound alike and get confused ALL the time and please stop.

I know. homophones is SO MUCH more concise. Maybe that’s why it’s the more commonly used word.

What’s on the chopping block today? PAST versus PASSED.

I first started noticing this one from my Black clients, or those who use some degree of AAVE. Which of course creates a conundrum: Is it AAVE? I’m no expert — far from it (she says with a snort) — but given that the rest of the book wasn’t in AAVE, then yeah, it was something to call out as incorrect, and to query in dialogue. Because not all characters talk with correct grammar. (I mention that a lot when I edit for you.)

Let’s take a look…

PAST
Things that are over with. Think in terms of “The past, the present, the future.”

Our past lives.
I am past the age of eating nothing but chicken nuggets and mac and cheese. (No, you’re really not.)
I walked past the garden today.

See? It’s all stuff you put behind you.
Webster’s, of course, breaks it down differently and maybe better. Judge for yourself.

Now, PASSED.
This is also something that happened previously. (In the past. How about that? Ha!)

BUT it’s a bit different because it’s the past tense (there I go again) of the word PASS. And oof, if you’re going to go read this definition, do it with a full beverage and maybe some snacks. It’s a LONG one, as many good, variable words produce. This is why English is so great and so much fun and why you need people like me in your corner!

Grandma passed away.
We passed the garden today. (Note how this is different from “We walked past the garden today.” See the subtle differences? Need me to unpack this?)
I passed the fifth grade. Barely.

These are WAY more active sentences. And that’s your quick test for past versus passed. Unless, of course, you struggle with active versus passive. And I can help with that, too.

Oh, the many things a good editor can do for you!

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The Enduring Legacy by Joyce Reynolds-Ward in the Featured New Book Spotlight

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Book cover for book The Enduring Legacy by Joyce Reynolds-WardLet’s welcome Joyce Reynolds-Ward to West of Mars with her book, The Enduring Legacy!

Let’s dive right in, shall we? I love talking books and music… It’s my happy thing. Joyce, what song makes you think of The Enduring Legacy?

“My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys” as performed by Willie Nelson. It sums up the saga of Gabriel Martiniere, from star-crossed billionaire heir testifying against his family company’s abuse of mind control technology, to ranch hand on the run, to billionaire again and his ongoing crusade to reform the abuses of indenture and mind control tech.

Hello? Mind control tech?

I. Am. There. (Mostly because I am worried we’re not that far off from that day in our present society. Yikes. Something I never thought I’d have to say!)

Reaady for the cover description? I sure am.

Series Standalone.

WHAT PRICE DO YOU PAY FOR HAPPILY-EVER-AFTER?

Ruby Barkley and Gabriel Martiniere have made it. They’ve defeated Philip Martiniere, and Philip’s suicide leaves them an opening to reform the Martiniere Group as well as the Martiniere Family. To create their own, positive legacy.

But. The legacy of the Martinieres isn’t so easily repaired. Forty-five years of dominance by Philip doesn’t just go away overnight. Gabe and Ruby have a lot of work to do, especially since Philip’s toxic legacy endures in unexpected places.

New foes arise—including the specters of age and health. The mysterious worm that interferes with digital and living memories, and glitches their newest biobot designs.

Then Gabe begins to wonder—is Philip truly defeated?

Can he keep his legacy safe? Or is he doomed to lose his second family, only in a slower manner than the plane crash that killed his first family?

What will it take for Gabe to guarantee that his legacy endures?

Now, this is the fourth (Smashwords says fifth; Amazon says fourth and yes, I’ll ask and update when I get an answer) in a series, but it’s listed as a standalone, so… dive in here, or back up and go hunt down the first three books as well as this one. Your call! (I love when authors give you choices. It’s like Choose Your Own Adventure for grown-up bibliophiles.)

Grab your copy!
Amazon
Smashwords
Apple
Kobo
B&N

Connect with Joyce! I can’t say we’ve done that yet. YET. You all know how I love to chat with authors about their books and their worlds and their processes.
Substack link to the books
Joyce’s main

And as always, be sure to refer your author friends (including yourself) to the Featured New Book Spotlight submission page. This is my labor of love and… I’d love to exercise that love in your direction. Or your friend’s direction.

One last note? Leaving reviews helps other readers find good books, so be sure to leave a few thoughts!

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Introducing Tales from the Sheep Farm

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Books: They tell our stories. Support the NEA or NEH

I wasn’t going to do this yet. I mean, I’ve been sitting on this for well over a year, and the plan was to wait until the website is live and launched.

Life happens when you make plans, huh?

My daughter is doing a study abroad this semester in Africa. Ghana, to be specific. It’s through the university and the group of 12 of them have a faculty member from home present with them; the whole thing has been seamless. They are there to take a deep dive into tropical ecology, as this specific program is designed for Biology majors. But they are also there to learn about their host country, of course. How can you not?

On Friday the 13th, she toured Elmina Castle.

I mean, you can’t talk about the west coast of Africa, the former Gold Coast, without talking about the atrocities committed there. Forced migration. Enslavement. Killing. Murder. Death. Rape. Starvation. Disease.

The Door of No Return.

But even before this, long before we knew for certain that my daughter was going on this adventure, I’d been thinking. Watching, really, as diverse author after diverse author (and even some editors!) got the shaft from the big publishing houses (and some small ones, too). I have spent years listening to some well-published LGBTQ+ authors bemoaning the lack of support they receive, the difficulties they’ve had getting respect from their own publishers. Authors who are searching for a literary agent, only to be told, “I really like your book but I already rep an author whose book features a Jewish main character.” And my favorite: “If you’re disabled, you should be writing about disabled people. That’s what’s hot right now. Not this very good book you’ve put in front of me.”

Yep. All true.

“Tell the whole story,” my rabbi said in a sermon in 2022. “Teach the suffering, teach the pain, and remember it, share it. Because the only way to move beyond it, the only way to return to a more healthful way of getting along with each other and interacting with each other is to tell the story, to remind ourselves of the low that we suffered together.”

Powerful words.

When I heard them, I knew what I had to do. I had this book, this story that has since become MAYBE THE BIRD WILL RISE, the first book in the Tales from the Sheep Farm series, and it begged me to do just this. To tell the whole story, pieces of which I cannot even begin to fathom because I am not the right person to tell it.

There’s only one option: To make this a Shared Worlds project, where I’ll invite others into my fictional world and let them tell stories — fictional of course, but fictionalized is super as well — so that we can, together, move beyond the pain we inflict on each other in the world.

“If we can figure out a way to make ourselves see the other more favorably, to view the other not with a sense of dread or fear, but to see in the other the same holiness that we want for ourselves, then we can tell this story [he was referring to the story of Passover] in a way that builds us all up and builds up our society and builds up our nation.

“So follow the path of the Torah. Tell the story. Look for ways to find goodness in the other. See our own holiness as we look into the eyes of another person.

“If we do that, if we can figure out a way to tell this story, we can figure out a way to use it to remind us to seek the good…”

Join me. If you’re an author with a story to tell and would like to be part of the world of Tales from the Sheep Farm, let’s talk. If you’re a reader who’d like to read more stories of and by diverse authors, stay tuned.

The website’s being built as we speak. I’ve been waiting a long time for it, but when you hire the best, you have to wait for the perfect site. It’s going to be worth it.

But today, as I’m thinking of history of Elmina Castle and my daughter, my heart, standing in those dungeons into which human beings were forced, as I think of her there, looking at the Door of No Return, I just can’t be quiet about what I’m up to.

Tell their stories…

And so I will strive to. Because as the tag line for this project states, People are treasures too.

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The Train: A Short Story by Cendrine Marrouat in the Featured New Book Spotlight

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Let’s welcome Cerine Marrouat and her short story, The Train, to West of Mars!

(Throw confetti. Okay, it’s paper shreds to reduce plastic and be good to birdies. And maybe some dryer lint for nest building.)

I’ve gotten to know Cendrine via Counter.Social and its lovely writing community. I’m really delighted to host her today, which means… let’s get right to it, shall we?

Cendrine, what song makes you think of your new short story, The Train?

While writing my short story “The Train,” I often listened to Leigh Nash’s “Nervous In The Light Of Dawn.”

I chanced upon the song a few years ago and immediately fell in love with Nash’s haunting voice. It also has some of the most beautiful lyrics I have ever heard. To me, they speak to the need for self-love and the importance of introspection, which feature heavily in “The Train.”

The first note of this song is, indeed, haunting. And Nash’s voice is nice and light… this is lovely music! And yes, a new-to-me musician, so YAY for that, too. I love it when my author friends widen my musical horizons.

What’s the story about? I’m curious, especially as the song plays.

You never know what a train ride may have in store. Maggie is about to find out as she journeys to Coueuses to visit her family.

“A powerful and deeply touching story with layered characters that all felt real.” – Berneta L. Haynes, author of Eve and the Faders

Ooh. All the potential… and then this song? I’m there. Are you?

Note that The Train is currently a preorder, BUT the release is later this week, so you won’t have to wait for long! Go buy barely-in-the-future you a present!

Here’s a universal link for you. You all know how much I love these; you get to pick your retailer!

Of course, connecting with Cendrine is the way to go.

Website
Facebook
Twitter
Goodread:
More links can be found here

Remember, if you’re an author, have a friend who’s an author, know someone with a book to promote, the Featured New Book Spotlight is here! It’s such a lovely way to meet new authors, see what they are writing and listening to, and expand all our musical horizons, all with one simple question!

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#SaystheEditor The Emotion Game

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As authors, we walk an interesting, fascinating line: that between emotionally engaged and not. We need to emotionally engage in order to write the heart-wrenching stuff that our readers demand. We also need to be emotionally engaged enough to be able to create an emotionally appropriate, fully-rounded character. Because believe me, if the author doesn’t care about his or her characters, neither will the reader.

But we also need to be detached from the emotional games that go along with emotional involvement. And that’s because we are both the puppet and the puppet master. (No. Wrong Master of Puppets!)

When we’re wearing our author or editor (or beta or crit partner) hats, it’s easier to disengage. It really is. We have the space we need, physically and emotionally. We can put the book or manuscript down and walk away and think.

Our characters usually can’t. And often, they shouldn’t have this distance. Sometimes, your character needs to be playing the bad guy’s emotion game. Your character probably needs to be more emotionally vested than you are, especially if your character is going up against a narcissist, a sociopath, or a psychopath. This is because until the character — the victim, the target — knows what s/he is dealing with, the emotion game is impossible to avoid.

What’s it look like?

Shock. Disbelief. An inability to wrap your head around a consistent set of actions. A refusal to accept the reality you’re faced with — and not necessarily the reality you’re living (that gets into the whole area of gaslighting) but the reality that this is how the bad guy behaves over and over again and isn’t going to change that. The character self-righteously claims they are refusing to normalize abnormal behavior.

Yet their shock and disbelief and anger continue to play the exact role the bad guy is feeding to them. And the bad guy wins.

Let’s take a step back.

Shock, disbelief, anger — these are emotions. Emotions have good points and bad points and advantages and disadvantages. (kind of like everything else in life!)

If you retain nothing else from this post, remember this: When your character is caught up in the cycle of expressing emotion, your character is not able to gain the upper hand on his or her enemy, something that requires emotional distance and clarity to achieve. And so long as your character is emotional, they are off-balance. Off-balance means easier to manipulate.

Bad guy wins.

Yes, it IS that simple.

So, as authors, it’s your job to, to an extent, get caught up in this emotional cycle — insofar as the character needs you to, in order to create an authentic experience for the reader.

BUT as authors, you also need to know how to rise above that emotion, how to break the cycle. There are many ways to do this, of course; what works for one person or character may not work for the next. Method isn’t nearly as important and being able to sever that emotional reaction. Once your character can get past the emotion game, your character comes out the winner.

Sounds simple, right? But look around you in your own life. Take a good, cold, hard look. Notice how many people are caught up in the drama of the emotion game. Because, hey, it’s drama! Friends respond to drama (at least until you tip the scales into the land of the drama queen). They hear you better when you are passionate!

Except… guess what? You are also too emotionally invested, and you can’t think clearly and critically. You are unconsciously holding yourself down in a position of weakness under the narcissist/sociopath/psychopath/asshole who is using your emotions to manipulate you and keep you under his/her thumb.

Yes, you are allowing yourself to be abused.

You.

Are.

Allowing.

Yourself.

To.

Be.

Abused.

In fiction, we expect the abused to be able to rise above, end the emotion game, and triumph in the end. We cheer the main character as they embrace their agency, find their strength, and defeat the agents of evil.

So why aren’t we doing it in real life?

Take a deep breath. And a step back. What do you respond emotionally to? Are you playing someone else’s emotion game in the name of resisting the abuse?

Is your character?

Is that where you want to be? Is that what you want your character to be doing?

Think about it. Think hard.

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His Melody by Tara Conrad in the Featured New Book Spotlight

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We’re back after a short blackout (I hate those!) with a return visit from my new friend Tara Conrad.

You can visit her first post, featuring Submitting to Him, here.

Which means Tara’s an old hand at this already. I mean, of course she is after only being here once before. This isn’t hard stuff, gang — and that’s by design. I want it easy for you, both as spotlit authors and as readers. Which means, we gotta get right to it, no?

Tara Conrad! What song makes you think of your new book, His Melody?????? (Lots of question marks ’cause I really want to know and yes, today is a MOOD. Go with it.)

Just Give Me a Reason by Pink

Viktor and the girl he ends up with (I can’t give away who it is) both believe they’re damaged beyond repair. Both of their pasts are filled with loss, pain, and more trauma than any person should have to endure. Neither of them believe they’re worthy of love.

Their paths cross–their worlds collide and they can’t ignore the pull to one another.

But, there’s one big problem, their love is forbidden.

This song? One of my all-time favorites! And I want to one day write a book that makes me think of this song. It’s so… mmmm. Everything. Yum.

And if you didn’t notice, by Tara’s refusal to let us know the female lead’s name, this is one in a series — the fourth, to be precise. So you might want to backtrack and catch up before reading this one! (Hey, the first book? I linked to it above! It’s Submitting to Him!)

But before we think about that, let’s talk about the official book description. Ready? I sure am!

Everyone seems to believe time heals all wounds. But is that really the truth or something people say to ease their conscience?
The pain from loss never completely goes away. Instead, we learn to live with the suffocating grief.
I shouldn’t have gotten my hopes up. A man like me doesn’t get a happily ever after.
I knew better. That mistake won’t happen again.
This time, I’m starting over with nothing left to lose.
I just hope when the dust settles, everyone I care about can forgive me.
~Viktor

Ooh! Tara STILL didn’t spoil the woman’s name!!! Notice what she did there!

I gotta know. Do you gotta know?

Here’s the way: Amazon only book you gotta read

And here’s how to connect with Tara… well, how to get signed paperback copies, anyway! They make great gifts…. just sayin’…

This is that spot where I remind you that if you can’t gift a copy to a friend, and if your friends are tired of you talking up all the great books you find here and want them to know about, the next best way to help an author raise their visibility is to leave a review online! Another good way is to send them here, for their chance to stop into the spotlight.

Be a good reader. Share the name of your favorite book or author with the world.

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