The Benefits of an Active Shelf Life

I’m a reader. Not just a reader. I’m a “must read the list of suggested books from my local library or online resource” type reader. Don’t try to limit me to only one genre. I’m interested in everything from books about local history to ghost stories to modern thrillers to classic tales. I will, on occasion, explore the works of foreign authors from diverse backgrounds. Why do I read everything I can get my little mittens on? I’m a reader, because I’m a learner.

The Benefits of Being a Reader:

© Konstantin Yuganov – Stock.Adobe.Com

  • Reading is exercise for the mind – Your brain needs fresh knowledge to grow. Don’t stop learning just because you become an “adult.” Growth is essential for everyone regardless of age.
  • A well-read brain is a healthy brain, especially as we age – Staying active is important for a healthy body. Your brain ages too. Learning new things can help keep your mind sharp.
  • Reading promotes imagination – Movies, TV and video games are entertaining, but someone else is doing the imagining for you. Reading a book offers plots and descriptions of the author’s story scenes, but it’s your imagination building the world as you see it. You take away inspiration, encouragement and knowledge gleaned from what you’ve seen in your mind’s eye.

Read Often. Learn as Much as Possible. Share Your Knowledge.

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Be Positive. Be Happy. Be Well

And They Call It Book Love

Running my fingers across the rows of shiny spines, I slowly slide one out of its place among the other tantalizing covers. The aroma of recently cut paper and new print fills my senses. I absorb the words stretching across the back. Heart racing, I wonder what type of adventure this book will take on.

@Sergey Nivens – Stock.Adobe.Com

Sorry Romance fans. Love is fleeting. Book Love is forever. Think about it. Whether you’re two or one hundred and two, a good story is always one of life’s greatest pleasures.

How to Find Your Next Love

Book Stores – Ask for staff recommendations – Check out their Listopia section with recommendations by readers just like you

Best Seller Lists – Amazon and B&N both have Best Seller Lists. I’ll be honest. I rarely pick from the best seller lists, because they distract from other (and possibly better) books

BookBub and Riffle – Books on these sites are vetted pretty well. And they feature the ones on sale. Big bonus!

Word of Mouth – Book clubs or Goodread Groups are a great way to discuss what others are reading

What I’m Reading Right Now:

Tangerine by Christine Mangan

Death Without Company by Craig Johnson

Odd Hours by Dean Koontz


Are You Ready to Put Your Work Out There?

You’ve worked hard writing and revising your book (short story, article, fill in the blank). It’s finally ready to share with the world! After all, you’ve done your due diligence preparing:

  • Author Platform – Check!
  • Social Media Presence (Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, the newest trend) –  Check! Check!, Check! And Checkity Check!
  • Mental and Emotional Change Preparedness – Che…wait. What?

Have you stopped to consider how publishing your book might impact your real life? I know you have! In a few months you’ll be living the life of Richard Castle. Big money in your accounts. Parties. Celebrity friends. No worries at all. Right? Wrong. Publishing your first book is the most incredible feeling in the world…until the first royalty check comes in (sliding trumpet sound). These low points and uncomfortable social encounters are the things you have to mentally and emotionally prepare for the most.

Business Plans Give You the “Big Picture” Outlook – Low or no sales can crush your spirit. If you have a point of reference to remind you this is just one step in the overall effort, you’ll weep less and sleep better

Lose Your DIVA-tude – As the Roman servant used to whisper into Mark Antony’s ear as he paraded triumphantly into Rome, “You are just a man.” Take off your DIVA glasses and be a person. I won’t quote the number of books published on Amazon each day. It depresses me. My point is you are not alone, so don’t alienate your author friends, book sellers and READERS by being a pain in the butt

Grab Your Security Binky. It Can Get a little Weird Out There –  I love my readers. It tickles me when they ask questions and/or get excited about my next book. Heaven Bless them all!  There are, however, other types of individuals interested in you. Not your work, but what you can do for them. Nobody warned me I would run into these folks at readings or conferences. These are the overly attentive souls who follow me into the bathroom as they pitch their book idea. I call these people “writer groupies.” Most of the time, they have no interest in my books. Rather, they want me to write their million dollar ideas for them while they kick back and wait to see their name on the cover. Weird right? Well. Be Ready. This will undoubtedly happen to you the minute you’re published. Why? Everybody wants to be a writer. Very few want to do the work. Even fewer have the dedication and tenacity to stick with it through hard times.

Enjoy your accomplishment. Eat up the kudos. Your life is about to change. Be ready for the good and the bad.

Publisher Spotlight: Literary Wanderlust


Literary Wanderlust is a new royalty paying print and digital press located in Denver, Colorado. We publish well-written fiction and interesting non-fiction books.

We are currently accepting the following:

  • Romance/Erotica
  • Science Fiction/Fantasy
  • Mystery/Thriller
  • Non-Fiction
  • Short Story Collections of all genres

Please send query, brief synopsis, and 1st three chapters, and a brief marketing plan to


I’m pleased to welcome Susan Brooks, Editor-in-chief of Literary Wanderlust. Thanks for joining me today. Let’s get started:

What do you look for in a novel or short story? Do you look for the same things in your non-fiction projects?

We look primarily for well-written works. By well-written I mean that we can see that the author has learned their craft regardless of the genre. For genre fiction, it is important to us that the author has worked through the plot and there is a good story arc with enough conflict. The story needs to have a beginning, middle and end. It is also important to us that the author has created compelling characters that are interesting and dynamic. There should be some unique twist if at all possible.

Short stories are a different on many levels and are structured quite differently than novels. Short stories tend to focus only on one character in one moment in time. There may be more narrative. There may be significantly less action and conflict, but this is not always so. Short stories still should have some unique twist, and we truly love it when we didn’t expect the ending. We look for short story collections where the writer has been judicious with word usage and has thought carefully about how the sentences are structured. Usually the collections are themed, but this isn’t necessarily so. We recently signed two authors with short story collections, both with themed collections.

Non-fiction, topics can range from everything you ever wanted to know about Billy the Kid’s girlfriends’ brother’s son who ran for governor of New Mexico, to how-to manage your time, to a history of all the head stones in the Fairmount Cemetery. We like niche, interesting, and even obscure topics. The key is that the editorial team has to find the topic interesting and we like it especially if the project has “a freshness” to it. In other words, the non-fiction project presents information that hasn’t been presented before, or hasn’t been presented before in this way.

Tell us about your latest release. What made it special? What made it stand out above other submissions in your slush pile?


Our latest release was Frog Kisses by Linda Joffe Hull which was released June 1st. Frog kisses is a romantic comedy and is Linda’s fourth book to be traditionally published. Linda is usually known for her mysteries, but she really wanted to tell this story about a young woman who realizes that she dislikes her life because she has made choices based on who she thinks she is, rather than who she really is. This book is special because Linda writes with such wit, and creates interesting characters that she puts in difficult situations. The story made the whole editorial team laugh out loud, and that is special in and of itself. Linda is a professional and that showed in her submission.

Do you have more new releases in the works?

Our latest projects are slotted to be released March 1st, 2016. Both are short story collections.

The first collection, Mexicali Blues by Joseph Grant, takes a dark look at the dichotomy between what it means to be Mexican in Southern California versus Mexican in Mexico, and how some people are not Mexican enough, while others are too Mexican. Both of these scenarios can lead to racism and all the stories have unusual twists.

The second collection, Not Quite So Stories by David Atkinson, is a collection of absurdist humor stories. David has a way of looking at things from a unique perspective which we find refreshing. The humor ranges from the slightly absurd to the very dark. These stories express David’s belief that existence as a whole is beyond everyone’s grasp. Life is absurd and beyond comprehension.

Both of these collections stood out to us because the authors thought about their topics deeply have learned their craft and it shows. It started with well written queries.

Do you have any advice for new writers who want to submit their work to you?

First of all, I want to congratulate them for completing their books. I am well aware of the amount of work that goes into completing a novel, or a collection of short stories, or a non-fiction book.  For new writers, I would say take the time to write the best possible book that you can write. Don’t submit it until it is ready. Don’t submit a draft. Submit polished pages. Take the time to write a synopsis that tells all the action from beginning to end for genre fiction (don’t leave out the ending to entice me. I want to know that the writer knows how to resolve the story). If it is a short story collection submit a brief paragraph about each story. For a non-fiction book project, write a clear synopsis of the project.

Look at the publisher’s website before you submit. Each publisher will have their own guidelines and requirements. Tailor your submission to meet those specific guidelines. Be professional.


Susan Brooks, Editor in Chief

Susan Brooks has been reading voraciously since she was a toddler and got her hands on a copy of Go, Dog! Go! Soon after, she won a copy of A Wrinkle in Time through her public library’s summer reading program for reading more books in one summer than all the other students combined. She was six. She decided right then that when she grew up she wanted to read books for a living.

Since 2009, she has served on the board of directors for Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, a non-profit educational organization supporting both published and aspiring writers of commercial fiction, and she currently acts as the conference chair for Colorado Gold, RMFW’s annual writers’ conference. She holds a master’s degree in publishing from George Washington University and has over 20 years of editorial experience.

Susan’s main focus in fiction is romance, science fiction, fantasy, non-fiction, and short story collections.

You can follow her: and @oosuzieq


What Makes a Classic?

Is there anything better than getting lost in a good book? Yes – having your soul touched by a great book. The term “Classic Literature” is thrown around libraries and bookstores, but what does it really mean? What eternalizes a piece of literary work? What makes it a classic?

My Criteria List:

  • It contains a unique and unforgettable character.
  • It touches me with a profound truth.
  • This “profound truth” is timeless.

Earlier this season I posted the different types of summer readers (What Type of Summer Readers Are You?). If you’ve read it, you know I’m a “Squirrel! Chaser” Reader. Something (I can’t remember what) made me think about all those Charlie Chan movies I used to watch as a kid. I believe it was an article explaining how Earl Derr Biggers loosely based his classic character, Charlie Chan, off Honolulu Detective, Chang Apana. His first Charlie Chan novel, The House Without a Key, inspired the movie franchise.

Why is House Without a Key a classic? Let’s run it through my criteria list:

It contains a unique and unforgettable character – Charlie Chan. Enough said.

It touches me with a profound truth – One of the characters, John Quincy Winterslip, is pulled out of his comfortably normal life in Boston. He sets out across the country (a big deal in the 1920s), headed for Honolulu to fetch his wayward aunt. Forget the murder. Forget the colorful characters. Set aside the author’s groundbreaking representation of racial stereotypes for a moment.

It is John Quincy’s awakening as he sees San Francisco for the first time which really touches me. He has never been to the western united states, but feels sure he’s seen the city before. This begins a new awareness for the character. His true self begins to stir. He has taken his first step in becoming who he really was meant to be.

This “profound truth” is timeless – The book was written in the 1920s. As I read John Quincy’s account of seeing San Francisco for the first time and his further travels to the Islands, I was there with him. It took me back to my gypsy youth when traveling to new places awakened my soul. I found who I was meant to become by opening myself up to new adventures and cultures. This was true for restless souls from the beginning of time and will still remain true long after I’m gone.

We have so many options for entertainment in this age of technology. Books, movies, video games, streaming TV shows. Don’t forget the classics. These are the gems which make us think and feel deeply.

Look To Your Own Backyard

Stuck for inspiration? Have a story idea, but not sure where it takes place just yet? Look to your own backyard. Your hometown/ home state has a history. I know what you’re thinking. Yawn. Nothing interesting happens here. Are you sure about that? Delve a little. You may find some juicy history interesting to a reader who’s never been to your part of the country. Don’t forget about the folks like me who love old unsolved crimes or haunted places.

I’m one of the blessed souls who gets to live in the state of Colorado. Stunningly beautiful, impossibly mellow with the addition of our newest agricultural commodity (Puff. Puff.) and dripping with interesting history. Buffalo Bill, Annie Oakley, Sitting Bull, The Unsinkable Molly Brown…the list goes on. Denver is full of history (and ghosts), as is the rest of Colorado. It makes a great location for several genres.

Doing research on the early days of the Colorado and New Mexico Territories for my new Horror novella, The Hounds of Perdition, has been an amazing journey into the past. I walked into the story with preconceptions for certain simple details about life in 1865. Yep. You guessed it. They were all wrong. The Civil War had just ended in 1865, affording me the opportunity to throw two characters on opposite sides into the same bad situation. Indian attacks had risen to a high intensity, necessitating several forts to be built in the territories to protect settlers. Famine. Disease. Life wasn’t easy and civilized townships were far apart. In fact, Denver wasn’t established as the capital or recognized central government until a few years later.

Now it’s your turn. Check out your state’s history. Do any ideas come to mind? Good luck and have fun!

The Pitfalls of Impatience


(Image from dotcomwomen)

Like most creative folks, I’m always antsy to start my next new endeavor. Those fresh day dreams of strange characters and exotic lands excite me. They’re like a first kiss or eating chocolate éclairs in Paris. Time goes by all too quickly as I work on the relationship. Then here we are again. An old married couple, tired of the same conversations.

I want a divorce.

Yes, childish I know. If the impatient bug hits me, I take some time away from my WIP.  After all, trudging up the mountain path of edits will be worth it one day. I still love my characters and am invested in their lives. I remain loyal until the very end (almost). Of course, there is nothing wrong with a little “Something Something” on the side. Kicking out a draft outline of my Paris chocolate éclair keeps my writer brain fresh. I return to my WIP, renewed (but not repentant).

Final Thoughts – If you can’t shake off the impatient bug, step away from the keyboard. Go outside, give yourself a good slap and understand there is no “next book” if you don’t do the best job you can with the one you’re working on now. Put your reader hat on. If an author half-assed a book, would you give their next book a read? Of course not. Readers have thousands of choices at their finger tips. Don’t give them a reason to throw yours aside. Do your absolute best on everything you write.

Guest Author: Najah Lightfoot

One of the most amazing people I know joins me on DT&J to share her latest articles. Welcome, Najah Lightfoot!  

2015 Magical Almanac

“Magickal, Mystical, Salt” – 2015 Magical Almanac

2015 Witches Companion

“Prosperity Magick and the Goddess Abundantia, Create and Work with Money Altars” – 2015 Witches’ Companion

 Purchase Information:



Author Bio 

Najah Lightfoot is a Priestess of the Goddess.  She keeps her faith strong by following the Pagan Wheel of the Year.  She is dedicated to keeping the Old Ways while living in these modern times.  Najah has a passion for writing, ritual, magick, movies and martial arts.  She can be found online at, and

Upcoming Events:

I will presenting a workshop titled, “Show and Tell, Magic vs. Magick – Tools of the Craft”, at the 2014 Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers – Colorado Gold Conference!

The Conference will be held at the Westin Hotel in Westminster, CO.  The Conference runs from September 5th – 7th, 2014.

Guest Author: Doreen Shababy

I’m thrilled to welcome Herbalist, Doreen Shababy today. Her latest article, “Herbal Pantry Staples – Time Savers with Great Flavors” is now available in Llewellyn’s 2015 Herbal Almanac.


Available for Purchase:

Check out other works by Doreen:


Autumn smile, no glasses! (2)

Author Bio:

I am the author of THE WILD & WEEDY APOTHECARY, an A to Z Book of Herbal Concoctions, Recipes & Remedies, Practical Know-how and Food for the Soul, and published by Llewellyn. I have upcoming articles in their Herbal Almanac for 2015 and 2016, and am also working on a series of 8 menus for the 2016 Sabbats Almanac.

I’m a mom, grandma, sister, daughter, auntie, wife, and spontaneous lover of life. I currently work from home and in my local community, consulting and teaching, cooking and gardening. I grew up in Chicago and have lived in northern Idaho for over 40 years.

I also offer private sessions involving hands-on healing touch and other energetic modalities.

Upcoming Events:

I have been teaching a series of 6 classes titled Gluten-free Baking: Sweet and Savory offering demonstrations for making bread, rolls, sweet breads and flourless fudge brownies. All classes include a fabulous meal.

Link to class sign-up    (calendar)

Find out More about Doreen by Visiting:

Link to my blog

Amazon link with reviews