Thursday, September 27, 2012


Happy Thursday!
Ready for commitment?
Introducing Peter Twohig!

I wrote a novel, and it took me four years. In that time I was working full time. I was writing about 4,000 words a month. But I was aware that the novel was taking second place, and that was not what I wanted. So I took a stand. I became a full-time writer with a part-time job.

My next novel took me one month to write. I wrote about 3,500 words a day. It found an agent, and my agent sold it to HarperCollins. Now I have to take myself seriously, because so many others do. There’s no motivation like respect.

My writing workload has since increased, not so much in wordage -- I think that would not be possible -- but in quality and commitment. I am now working on a the second draft of a nonfiction book (120,000 words and writing), the second draft of a novel (114,000) and the first draft of a novel (44,000 so far). I am also maintaining a blog for writers. In the present context, I am committed to: excellence in writing and becoming financially dependent on writing alone.

So how do I maintain the balance between writing and the rest of my life? That’s easy. My commitment puts writing first. It means for the time being doing casual work I’d rather not be doing. It means taking the train to work and back (an hour and a quarter each way) so that I can write on the train (a possible 2,000 words). But I’m not obsessed (though I’m not sure about that…) and I do make sure that I get time off to eat (one meal a day), sleep, swim and ride my motor bike (an hour every Sunday morning to the beach and back). I catch up with friends (mainly in coffee shops, where, if they turn up late, I can catch up on my writing).

To help me maintain the balance, I write as efficiently as possible, having bought myself to touch-type at 60 wpm. I have a most excellent MacBook Pro with an 18” screen, a 27” Mac cinema display for all my work at home, the best possible writing, word processing, database and book planning software. I also have an agent who does a heap of work for me, and I am a member of writing organisations.

The only potential problem is communication with my non-writing friends. The trick is to maintain social networking, email, and Skype a lot.

So you can see that my ‘balance’ is little skewed in the direction of writing. But I have good advice here. it is this: commit to your writing, and you will attract friends and contacts you never knew were out there to help  and to be your friend. When you succeed, your old friends and relatives will be genuinely happy for you. Don’t forget, there are many people out there (and you know some) who secretly harbour a desire to write. They make excuses --I’ve heard them -- but really, the bottom line is, they have not committed.

I guess I don’t intentionally lead a balanced life: I have found that what most people call balance naturally springs from commitment.

Peter is the author of The Cartographer (Fourth Estate, 2012). 
His author platform is and his writing blog is The Voice of Fiction. Visit also

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Every Bit Involved.

Another wonderful post,
by another wonderful author.
Today's featured guest is
Thirza Vallois

I never intended to become a writer, although I had been writing since my childhood — poems, songs, stories, plays (one of which was put up at school). I never thought much of it. Children are naturally creative and experiment in lots of different things before finding their vocation or the chance path of their lives. I suppose I did the same. Once I became an adult I found myself needing to express myself in writing whenever I felt strongly about something. Eventually things became cristallised around France, and Paris in particular, not because Paris is the unique city many people fall in love with, but quite the contrary. I had issues with Paris, because  the place and the people both compelled me and exasperated me. Mistakenly, my readers believe that I was unconditionally in love with Paris. I wasn't. At the time when I wrote my books my feelings were complicated. It was a love-and-hate relationship. Writing about Paris was like going through therapy. I had to understand the French psyche, with all its paradoxes and contradictions. And of course the myths and the mystique.

It took me fifteen solid years to plunge into the psyche of Paris. Almost nothing else mattered during those fifteen years. I was wholly engrossed in and committed to my project. I slept it, I breathed it. It mattered little whether it was day or night, winter or summer. It was my one commitment (obviously it wouldn't have been possible with young children at home). I am pretty sure that without that kind and level of commitment,  I could have never written such books. There can be no concessions. It takes a lot of sweat. And time cannot come into the equation, for the simple reason that writing flows from inspiration. You can't stop that flow; you must keep going,  somewhat like beating  an egg into a mayonnaise, steadily and patiently, adding the oil, drop by drop until the yolk starts thickening. If you stop midway, everything collapses.  You never know beforehand how long it's going to take. Hence the long hours of anxiety that accompany any creative undertaking.

The intensity has since subsided, because my next books were easier ones to write. But there is no vouching what will happen in the future. I write a lot of articles these days, which obviously don't take as much out of me as full-length books do. Yet even an article is a demanding task, even though easier to balance with other activities (and one's own private life). However, I would not express it as "balancing writing with one's 'real' life," because writing IS part of one's real life. The object of writing may be fictional, but the writing itself couldn't be more REAL! Since every bit of us is involved, together with the above-mentioned anxiety, the fear, the responsibility, the frustrations, but also the immense joy.

 Author Thirza Vallois is an expert on all things Parisian and lectures worldwide on Paris and France. She has lived in Paris  most of her life and holds several post-graduate degrees from the Sorbonne, including the most prestigious agr├ęgation. She is the author of the internationally acclaimed Around and About Paris series, Romantic Paris Aveyron, and A Bridge to French Arcadia. Thirza Vallois has appeared on PBS, BBC, the Travel Channel, the French Cultural Channel, Discovery and CNN and has spoken on radio in the UK, the US and France. She is also the author of the Paris entry to the Encarta Encyclopaedia and contributes regularly to the international press.  Her award-winning Three Perfect Days in Paris story was published in United Airlines' Hemispheres and aired on their international flights. 

Monday, September 17, 2012

No Stone Unturned

Today I'm fortunate to talk with Jeanette A. Fratto.

Author of


Tell me a little about yourself and your writing life.

Jeanette:  I grew up in Michigan but have lived in southern California most of my life, graduating from California State University at Fullerton, with a B.A. and M.A.  I’ve always loved to write short stories, articles, and essays, and have won awards for some of them. It wasn’t until I retired from a 26-year career in probation that I wrote my first novel, NO STONE UNTURNED.  The sequel, NO GOOD DEED, has just been published.

What made you decide to write a novel?

Jeanette:  It seemed to be a logical extension of my writing experience, and a challenge for me to develop a plot and characters that would engage readers. I’m an avid reader, and love mysteries. I decided that would be the genre for me.

Was it difficult to come up with a story line?

Jeanette:   Yes and no. I knew I wanted my story to unfold through the inner workings of the probation department for two reasons. One, when I worked, I realized that few outside the field understood what probation officers did, and what the department did in general; two, mystery writers rarely mention probation, which is an important aspect of the criminal justice system, and if they do, they usually get it wrong. I wanted probation to have its own audience. The harder part was coming up with a plot where my protagonist becomes a probation officer and have it be believable.

How did you finally get there?

Jeanette:  I thought about the many people who want to make a change in their lives and used that premise to bring my protagonist from Michigan, where she was a school teacher, to California, with the promise of a job in publishing. Unfortunately the position doesn’t work out. She decides to stay in California and job hunting leads her into probation, where she finds more than she bargained for. The reader will learn a great deal about a very interesting component of law enforcement, while following an engrossing story line.

I understand you’ve written a sequel. How did that come about?

Jeanette:  The sequel, NO GOOD DEED, is the result of suggestions by many of the readers of my first book for me to continue writing about my main characters. They said they wanted to know more. I listened to them and came up with NO GOOD DEED, which begins about six months after NO STONE UNTURNED ends. It has just been published and is available in paperback, Kindle, the Nook, and an e-book. A synopsis and ordering information can be found on my website: Through this website readers can also click on my other title, NO STONE UNTURNED, and proceed to that website for that book’s synopsis and ordering information.

What’s next for you?

Jeanette:  For the next few months I’ll be busy promoting NO GOOD DEED, with book signings, blogging, and any other promotional opportunities that come along. I’m also thinking about whether I want to turn this into a series, in which case I’ll be trying to plot the third book.

Anything else you’d like to let my readers know?

Jeanette:  I’d just like to thank them, and you, for the opportunity to share my writing, and encourage anyone who likes a novel with mystery and romance to check out both NO STONE UNTURNED and NO GOOD DEED. Both are set in southern California, and my probation experience ensures that the reader will get an accurate glimpse into this segment of the criminal justice system. I encourage feedback and can be reached at 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Life Is Not Like A Trip To The Buffet

I mean, (deep lower voice,) Thursday.
Today I am featuring Rick Lauber

Do you give your writing the time and attention it truly deserves? Or, do you vainly squeeze in a few words when and wherever you can?

Several years ago, I found myself working a full-time job, a part-time job and trying to freelance write. Obviously, my writing (along with most everything else in my life) was taking a back seat and I decided a change was in order. Let’s face facts though; I don’t often make major decisions easily or quickly. After considerable dithering, I quit my full-time job to focus more on writing. The part-time hours, I surmised, would continue to provide me with a regular enough paycheque to stave off any wolves howling at my door for at least a few months while I focused more on writing.

I have continued this arrangement and truly enjoyed finding more of a life balance and having more time to write. Thanks to having more time at my computer keyboard, my portfolio of published magazine/newspaper articles has grown immensely as has my self-confidence level. I am now both healthier and happier.

The highlight from the last several years, undoubtedly, has been my completing my first book, Caregiver’s Guide for Canadians. This guidebook, for new and existing caregivers, serves as a valuable resource for individuals stepping in to help with an aging parent/friend/partner and is based on my own personal experience assisting with both of my parents. Sample chapters include “Caring from a Distance”, “Searching for Appropriate Long-Term Care for A Parent” and “Finding Joy in Caregiving”. While my book does include websites of specific relevance to Canadian caregivers, the content is general enough to appeal to a global audience.

Through my experiment, I’ve concluded that life is not like a trip to the buffet where you load as much as possible on your plate. Take less and go back for seconds, if desired, instead. Find balance. Without prioritizing your own writing (and your own desire to do so), you are shortchanging yourself (along with potential readers of your work).
 Rick Lauber is the author of Caregiver's Guide for Canadians, a freelance writer, publicist and public speaker. His writing credits include magazine/newspaper articles, creative copy, website material and news/sports stories for radio broadcast. Rick has written on a great variety of subjects including global warming, business profiles, arts and entertainment and senior care.

For more information, please check out or e-mail to

Friday, September 7, 2012

A Funny Thing

I'm so pleased to have an interview with 
comedian, Brian Shirley on my blog today.

"Brian Shirley has a natural gift of humor and reading his books can be equally as hilarious as seeing him on stage. He is surely someone to watch out for in the book industry...." PAPERCUT by WooTheme

You've been a comedian for almost twenty years, yet you published you first comedy book just three years ago,did you always want to write a book?
  I started writing horror and Sci/Fi stories when I was a kid and wanted to be an author at that age. However, I was also very silly and would make up my own words and phrases, this is where comedic writing took over. My first two books "Make Love Not Warts" and :Four Score and Seven beers Ago..." are perfect examples of the style of comedic writing I love to do, but do not perform as well as my character or real life stage comedy. I've always considered myself a writer first, then a performer.
Your third book is different than your first two, how so?
 My first two books are silly sayings, original comedic sentences and twists on old proverbs. My latest book (Aug. 2012) is a series of short stories that give an insiders look at the world of stand-up comedy.
How did your latest book "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the club" come about?

  I was messing around with the idea of a third book in the "Make Love Not Warts" trilogy, kind of like the  "Star Wars" saga (ha,ha), plus there's the rule of three's in comedy. I was going to have some more silly sayings and proverbs, some crazy poems (there's one in the back of my second book) and maybe a short story or two. This book may still happen, look for "My Ship Came in but it Sank" maybe next year. Anyway as I was messing around on the Internet, I saw a post about a pilot program for a new publishing company. I thought maybe I could see about this new book, so I left my web site URL with the publisher's representative and went on my way. I had forgot about the post until one morning I got a call from Fernando. He said he was calling from Libboo and had went to my site. He was curious about the stories in my "Life/Road stories" section. he wanted to know if I had ever thought of making a book out of them. I said I had not really thought about a whole book of the stories, I was going to sprinkle some of them in another book idea. He asked if I would like to just the stories themselves into a book.Of course I said yes and started coming up with an idea of how to present them. Then it hit me. I would take just the "road stories", which had to do with things that had occurred around my travels as a comedian, add some more and make the book a tale of true road stories. Thus, "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Club" was born.
Aside from your latest book being full of short stories,are there any other differences?
  Yes, the coolest part, I didn't do.Each story has an illustration to go along with it. When I had turned in a good bit of the book, Fernando said he had a problem with the picture I sent him for the cover. He suggested we have an illustrator do the cover and I would have full control over the artwork.At first I just wanted Jason (Jason Freeman, a very talented illustrator) to just draw the picture I had sent in.Then Jason came up with the idea of drawing me with a golf club in my hand.This eventually became the back cover. Jason then read all the stories and got inspired. He came up with the concept of the cover and I loved it when I first laid eyes on it. His job was done, but then he asked me if he could illustrate some of the stories as he had enjoyed them. I gave him free rein and he did every story illustration without any input from me. It made the book release be put on hold for a while, but I would have waited any amount of time with the job Jason did. There's Jason's site for anyone out there who wants a great illustrator for their book.
What are you working on now?
 Well I'm always trying to ad to my act. I just did some shows at The Bonkerz Comedy Club in Atlanta and actually wrote some new stuff from the stage. I was in the middle of a bit I usually do and went into improv mode with the audience and came up with some new stuff. I just need to write it out and remember how it fit in with my other material. I recently started co-hosting an Internet radio show called "The Triangle Variety Comedy Show" and I'm writing comedic bits for the show to put around the comedian interviews,comedy clips and other segments. I also write for an online comedy site out of the U.K. called Amock,which can be found at big thing is promoting this third book and the publisher is so new they are having a hard launch of their company in Sept. their site is
 I've got a big show in Savannah,GA, at The Bay Street Theatre Sept. 7th and I'll have both of my first two books with me as my third one is an ebook. I just wrote a short story of Sci/Fi entitled "The Seer" and entered it into a contest. It had to be under 2,000 words so it was very short. I'm glad though because I have not attempted Sci/Fi in about 30 years. 
Do you or does your writing appear in any other publications?
 Yes, I'm proud to say that I have a post I submitted that's in "The Write Balance", thanks for including me. I also have an interview I did put in the book "Author interviews by Author Ethen Carrell". These two books just came out this summer. Next I have some short stories that will be appearing in the book "Intertwine" by Angie Merriem, which may be out in Sept.
Where can people find out more about the book, where to buy them and where to see one of your shows?
  My web site is the best place for all of these things.   of course I do have an Amazon author page  and I'll be live on air very Wednesday 9-11pm EST on  just go to The Triangle Variety Comedy Show link. We keep the show PG-13, just so the folks know.
Brian is also a philosopher. No, he doesn't have a degree, but he has written two books of wisdom and wise sayings called "Make Love Not Warts", and " Four Score and Seven Beers Ago..." which are available now on,,, publisher's web site) or for a signed copy and a free personalized 8x10 head shot you can order from this web site . These books are also available for ebook downloads. Brian is one of the featured interviews in the new book "Author Interviews with Author Ethen Carrell". Brian is also one of over 60 authors featured in the book "The Write Balance" by D.Jean Quarles. Check out Brian's calendar for a show near you!

BRIAN"S THIRD BOOK IS NOW FINISHED! As of Aug 10, "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Club" is now available @ and soon to be added on Amazon!

Brian is also Co-Hosting the new internet radio program "The Triangle Variety Comedy Show" with veteran radio personality Patrick Walters. The Show airs 9pm-11pm EST on Wednesday's.This show features interviews with 3 to 5 comedians per show doing call ins, original segments from Patrick and Brian,Amock (an online comedy site out of the U.K.), Radio Free Rocky D and more. There will also be clips of comedy from comics all over the country. To access this great new show go to or the site link FB fan page!/groups/167913359986129/ Call in 949-272-9578
Comedians can email Brian @ to get on the show.
Club owners and bookers cam also get in touch with Brian about having their club or organization mentioned on the 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Writing Isn’t Just Sitting at the Computer

The very best day of the week.
At least I think so.
Today I'm honored to introduce
Debbi Weitzell

Someone approached me a couple of weeks ago about a contract job. She opened with something to this effect: “What do you do now [that you’re a published author]? Are you act the computer all day, every day, writing?” I could honestly answer, “No.” On the other hand, writing isn’t just sitting at the computer.

When do I write? When do I NOT write? Look at is this way: everything that happens in my life or to people around me impacts my thinking. Everything I experience or observe filters through my brain, and may at some point emerge through my fingers. I try to remember this on days when I don’t even get to sit down at the computer, let alone get any “writing” done. And when I have writing projects in the works (when do I not?), while I’m painting or ironing or cooking or whatever else has to be done, those projects are percolating in background. When at last I do put hands to keyboard, what comes forth is a distillation of all that thinking.

For a long time, the actual writing didn’t happen very often. Kids to raise, a job—whatever. Always something. But then I started to realize that when I wasn’t creating anything, I got grumpy. I don’t like grumpy. I learned the lesson. Now writing is higher on the list. In the last year, I’ve finished two projects that were years in the making, simply because I decided to make them priorities. Many more are in process.

Side note: our kids noticed, too. They have adopted my philosophy; they pursue their interests in the present as much as possible, working them in as they can, so that they are developing their talents all their lives. I didn’t realize that this would be a benefit of my decisions, but it has by far been the greatest reward.

By the above definition, Debbi Weitzell has been writing since she could speak, in one form or another, and actually putting words down for almost as long. She is the author of two books, a blog, and a lot more. The books are “Dan Powell, the Making of an American Cowboy” (historical novel) and “Ora’s Quest” (fantasy adventure). Both are available in soft cover and e-book formats. Free excerpts at the bookseller sites. For access to all, go to

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Quirky? Yep!

Interview with Bridget Straub
I'm so intrigued by Bridget Straub's characters. Read on and you'll be too.

Tell us a little about yourself.

I have been writing for as long as I can remember. I have a very vivid imagination that helps to pass the quieter times of my day and I love to draw and paint, although that is clearly not my expertise. I have three beautiful children, and live in Los Angeles where great weather and inspiration abound.

What genre do you write in?

I write in the here and now. I guess it could be called contemporary fiction or chick lit, or even women’s fiction, but I find those to be limiting terms. I mean guys have read my books and found themselves caught up in the stories just the same as women, and chick lit sounds like fluff to me.

Do your books have a central theme?

Overall, I think they do. Family is a strong subject, as is the struggle to make sense of the relationships and situations we find ourselves in. I try to tap into the humor that exists even when things seem bleak because I think our sanity is maintained in those funny moments.

What books have you published?

“Searching for My Wand”   Glenda was named (incorrectly) after Glinda the Good Witch and therefore, subconsciously, has spent her entire life trying to live up to the reputation of a fictional character.

 “On a Hot August Afternoon”   Stacey is an artist with a rock star husband, Pete, whom she loves with all of her heart. With two young children, and the financial security to pursue her career only when it suits her to do so, she and the kids are about to join her in-laws at the family compound in beautiful South Lake Tahoe for her sister in-law’s wedding. There, she’ll be reunited with Pete, who has been out on the road with his band for several weeks. However, she is blindsided when she goes to her mailbox and discovers an envelope of photographs, explicit photographs of her husband and another woman. Suddenly, she’s left questioning everything she thought she knew about the man she never meant to fall in love with.

Have you published traditionally or are you self-published?

I have chosen to self-publish. I considered going the traditional route, but after much research concluded that with the amount of material I have, this was the way to get my work seen sooner rather than later.

What has been the biggest challenge in self-publishing?

Without a doubt it has been marketing. I have been blessed with really great reviews, but getting the word out when you have little to no budget has been difficult. It requires hours and hours of work and a fair amount of patience. Patience is not something that comes easily to me.

What is next for you?

I am in the process of preparing my next novel, “The Salacious Marny Ottwiler” for publication, and I am also trying to come up with the best way to raise funds to mount a production of my musical “Room to Grow”.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Don’t be discouraged by the current state of the publishing industry. It takes a relentless determination to get published regardless of which route you take, but the rewards can be exhilarating.