Years ago, in fact many years ago, I along with a writer friend started a little group called StoryCrafters. It was made up of writers and friends from LongRidge Writer’s Group where we we taking a class and hanging out in the chatroom.  Thing is, we needed more. So, that’s how StoryCrafters began.


Sassy & I at our first con together. Can you guess who is who?

StoryCrafters was a special place.  You could be yourself and soak in the moat, gnaw a bone under a shade tree, swim in the lake, or recline by the pool, and relax.  And the food…talk about yum.  A chocolate fountain that flowed 24/7/365, trollhouse cookies always fresh from the oven, icy drinks of all flavors in the summer, and plenty of hot cocoa in the winter.

But, life happens and we sorta got busy and started neglecting our special place. And since it was only  open to LongRidge students, activity there became less and less and then soon practically died.  Those of us who remained made the decision to let StoryCrafters fade into the night. We were saddened but didn’t really know what else to do.

Now though, years later, I’ve been asked by several people to revive StoryCrafters.  And I’m excited at the possibilities.

So, now, StoryCrafters is back.  I’ve cleaned the moat and added fresh muck, brought in a new chocolate fountain that dispenses three kinds of chocolate (dark, milk, & white – I’m not sure white is really chocolate but…) and set out some warm trollhouse cookies.

StoryCrafters is open to all writers and readers.  Right now, we are starting slow but I encourage you to stop by, join us, and make yourself at home.  The old posts are still there, just not visible.  You can find them if you search.  A lot of the links are broken which is why they are hidden though there is still a lot of good info there.

I look forward to seeing you there.


Posted by on September 15, 2014 in StoryCrafters


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Beware the Vanity Press

Warning, Vanity Press

First some definitions…

Vanity press – a publishing house in which the author pays all or most of the costs of having the book published and generally require minimum number of copies to be purchased.

Small press – a small publisher with annual sales under a certain level. (One place I saw said $50 million) Often called “Indie Press”.

Traditional publishing – publishing with one of the “Big 6″, 5, 4, or whatever it is now, using an agent and editor.

Self-publishing – an author publishes their own book, without the aid of a publisher.


Publishing has changed so much in the last few years that it’s almost a different industry. Once, self-published authors were thought not to be able to get a “real” publisher. Now, more and more, it is becoming accepted to self-publish and looked at as a good thing, a personal choice. However, there are still those out there who would take advantage of a novice writer.

Vanity presses are those that charge the author to print their books and often require minimum purchases. Their money is made on what they charge the authors. For example, if a book costs $8.00 to print, and that’s about average, with a minimum purchase requirement of 150 books, that’s $1,200 out of your pocket right into theirs. Sure, you have 150 books but what are you going to do with them?

If you want your books on Amazon and formatted for Kindle, that’s an extra charge. One site I know of charges $200 for this service. Now, you’re up to $1,400 out of pocket. Many vanity presses also charge for cover creation, editing, formatting, and even marketing material such as bookmarks.

Do you have 150 friends and family members who will pay $15 for your book so you can clear a little profit?

Thing is, vanity presses have no market. Sure, they get your book on Amazon for a fee and may take them to a conference or two, but your book isn’t available at any bookstore. Is this really your publishing dream? If all you want is to publish a book then this might be the right option for you. However, if you want a publishing career, then consider other options such as small presses or even self-publishing.

A reputable small press makes money when you, the author, makes money. They have an interest in your success. Even self-publishing is inexpensive these days. (Just make sure you put a great book out there.)

Before you commit to any option, do the research. Get the facts needed to make the best decision for you and your publishing dream. You won’t regret taking the time to avoid a possible disaster.

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Posted by on July 23, 2014 in Misc., Writing


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LexiCon 2014

This past weekend I attended LexiCon in Denton, Texas. 2014 marked the third ever LexiCon, and I’ve been blessed to have attended all three. This year though, Mitch outdid himself.

Here’s a picture of Mitch I stole from CL Stegall. He runs Dark Red Press. All you horror writers, check him out.

Mitch Haynes, LexiCon

Mitch Haynes, Sunday Morning at LexiCon

There’s so much I want to say about LexiCon that I’m not sure where to start so have decided to just go for it.

The speakers – WOW! Elizabeth McCormick, first female Black Hawk helicopter pilot, awesome is the best word. She totally inspired me. Tammy Kling, Harry Hall, Renee Groskreutz, and all the others were just wonderful. Kudos to Mitch for getting such great speakers.

The atmosphere – The first rule of LexiCon is “Leave your ego at the door.” And everyone does. Speakers and attendees mingle and share ideas as if they were old friends. And while some of us do know each other from previous LexiCons, new attendees are welcomed with open arms.

The people – I’ve made some great contacts at LexiCon. But, not only are they contacts, they are friends. Friends who are willing to help however they can. Whether you need help with social media or planning the perfect crime, there is someone ready and willing to share their knowledge.

We talked Mitch into putting together another LexiCon in 2015. The tentative dates are July 17-19. I encourage each of you to mark your calendars now and plan to be there.  You won’t regret it.




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Posted by on July 18, 2014 in Misc.


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A Different Kind of Cheerleader – Lira Brannon

Get to know author Lira Brannon and her new release A Different Kind of Cheerleader.


What was your inspiration for A Different Kind of Cheerleader?

I was poking around the internet one day and I saw a news article on a cheerleader who had been confined to a wheelchair since birth. I just thought “Wow, that is some dedication.” I then started to research other para-athletes. I was amazed at their strength of character, positive outlook, and in many cases, their faith. It made me question my own. Could I be as strong? What would it be like to be faced with seemingly overwhelming challenges, and come come out on top? After that, Tansy sat me down and told me her story. It wasn’t just about cheerleading. It was about healing and moving on, and though Tansy realizes her dream in the end, even if she didn’t I know she’d be just fine.

Is there much of yourself in your main character?

Absolutely not.Tansy is a natural leader and, despite her bitterness, is really a people person. Once she blossoms and finds friends, she comes to realize how wonderful this is. I am the classic introvert that, unless pushed, is very much happy at home.

Tell us a bit about your setting and why you chose it.

I chose a small Texas city very much like the one I live in because it was familiar.  I could go to the park where Tansy broke her back. I drove by Tansy’s trailer park and The Links (Bryn’s home) every day, I have been to the big church. The cheerleaders in my town are big, competitive, and greatly supported by the community. And I love Texas. It is so diverse and yet small town. It just fit Tansy.

How long did it take you to write A Different Kind of Cheerleader?

The actual story just few onto the pages. Maybe 2 months? Three tops. Now the editing on the other hand–that takes longer.  Tansy had a story to tell and it just came out like you see it–very linear and first person.

Did you do any special or strange research for this book?

Not really. The information is readily available for the finding.

What is your writing process – outline or seat of pants?

I do both, depending on the story. I usually outline after I write the story to make sure everything is cohesive, but I didn’t really need that with Tansy. She knew her story and just told it.

Any writing rituals or such?

Heavens no. With three home schooled children and a business on the side, I grab writing time whenever I can. I take a NEO2 with me everywhere to write on that, I have notebooks handy for those moments when I have to jot something down. But I really don’t have the time for rituals. This year I have started getting up very early and try to write, but to be honest I probably spend more time catching up on social media than anything else.

What bit of advice do you have for any writer reading this?

If you want to write–just do it and then get feedback. Honest critique partners are worth their weight in gold. They help with catching cliches and such.

When did you start writing and when did you finally consider yourself truly a writer?

I started writing when I was nine. My great grandma decided it was time for me to learn to type and she started me off on one of those mechanical beasts–I loved it.  I was writing ever since. I wrote my first novel at 15 (600 pages of single spaced awfulness) and then took a break to finish school, ride horses, and have kids. I guess I have always considered myself a writer so I can’t really pin it down.  However, getting published does help with making me feel a little bit more verified.

What’s in store next for Tansy?

Tansy is going to take a break for the next book. At first I thought there was more, but Meg, a teenager from her physical therapy group, is begging to be heard.

What are you working on now?

I always have too much that I am working on. Meg’s story is slowly taking shape in my head–though I have started taking notes. I will most likely start her story soon. But I do have a contemporary romance I need to finish, just so it is not hanging over my head, plus a few short stories that just seemed to pop up.


Posted by on June 22, 2014 in Authors & Books


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Not my circus, not my monkeys…

A couple days ago, this came across my timeline on Facebook.


I’m not sure where it came from or who created it but the more I thought about it, the more it made sense.  (Let’s not debate the chimp/ape/monkey thing.)

Naturally, I’ve shared it, and even quoted it a couple times around my family. I’ve actually decided it’s my new philosophy.

Think about it…  How many of the things we let bother us, do we have control over?

Friends try to drag us into their misery. They don’t mean any harm, but their misery affects us.

The boss is having a bad day cause things aren’t going right so he snaps at you for no reason. Do you dwell on it and make yourself miserable?

Several times since this first came across my timeline, I’ve found myself quoting it about things that aren’t my circus.  It’s kind of nice knowing those aren’t my monkeys. It’s like I told my daughter, “You may work for the circus, but those aren’t your monkeys.”

So, next time things get a little crazy, do a check.  Is it your circus and are those your monkeys?

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Posted by on June 19, 2014 in Misc.



First Chapter Plus – Dragons of Jade

Not sure about buying books when you can’t read a bit of them beforehand?  Then this is just for you.

You can read the whole first chapter of Dragons of Jade through First Chapter Plus.

Dragons of Jade Cover

I just love this cover.  I can almost see myself relaxing in front of the fireplace, dragon sleeping at my feet.


Here’s a review by T. Fouch…

Dragons of Jade by Jean Lauzier has a great balance of fantasy, action and romance – three elements I love in any good story. The character of Jade is very likable and down to earth despite her choice to answer the call of a dragon into a fantastic and dangerous new world. Supporting characters are both realistic and intrinsic to the fabric of the story. The dragons themselves are portrayed in a most delightful style. The book reveals its secrets coyly with each turn of a page, and you can’t help but read on to discover a satisfying and enjoyable conclusion.

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Posted by on June 16, 2014 in My Writing


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Dust in the Wind

In our town we have a street preacher. He stands on the busiest street corners holding his little signs (Jesus Saves! & There is a hell.) with a Bible in his other hand, and at the top of his lungs (I think) yells to those who happen to stop near him.  Let me say, I’m not against him, I applaud him for his passion. However, it seems to me, he’s wasting his time.  This  is Texas, in the summer. We have our windows up, the a/c on, and music blaring. We can’t hear him.  All his passion is being sucked up by exhaust and traffic noise and we are left with the image of a Bible-waving fanatic.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind a little Bible waving on occasion, heck, my hubby is a Baptist preacher, the Associate Pastor of our church, which makes me a preacher’s wife.

But what does this have to do with writing you ask? After all, this is a writing blog.

Just this…are our words being lost in the noise of our writing?

First, are we over-writing? Are we adding in so much description and backstory that our readers skim over it? Do we have info dumps that are meaningless to the present story?  And what about flashbacks – if we have them, are they relevant to the story being told?

Next, what about POV? (Point of view.) Are we using the best possible POV? Not only are we using the best POV but is the best character telling the story? Could another character’s pov be better?

And…are we choosing the best method of publishing our words? There are so many new opportunities in the publishing industry now that it’s kind of scary. There’s still the Big 5 in New York, numerous small presses, and self-publishing. Just avoid the vanity presses that charge an arm and leg, require you buy so many copies of you book, (that’s where they make there money) and promise you fame. Do your research on publishing options…don’t jump at the first offer. Something better might be out there. :-)

So, think a bit.  Is your message getting out there and being heard? Or do you need to adjust some things?



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Posted by on June 11, 2014 in Writing


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