Authorial Aggravations – Elle Hill

I recently stumbled across one author’s list of things never to say to an author. I pored through it, nodding my head vigorously at some of her points and shaking my head at others.

Sabhu: “Really, Mom, could my metaphor about thinking outside the box be any more obvious?”

The post started me wondering: Do peeps really voice such gems as “Anyone can write a book, [sic] what else do you do?”?! If so, that’s pretty horrifying, and it help explains the author’s grumpy tone.

I may not jibe with everything the author said, but I have to admit I have my own list of author aggravations. Now, I don’t want to toss out this discussion as a list of things never to say to an author, since I don’t like putting gags on folks’ rights to express themselves. I mean, people be peoplin’, right? I just figured I would toss out a few grumps in hopes of garnering a nod or two of agreement from my colleagues.

1. “You’re an author? Cool! I have a screenplay/short story/novel I’d love for you to read!”

This one happens a lot. A lot. I like to think the person is all “You’re an author? Me, too. Let’s bond over our literary pursuits!” rather than asking me to donate my editing skills (see below). I’m a busy person, though, working long hours with giggle-worthy pay. I have precious little free time.

2.  This is a variation on number one. “I know you’re so good at editing. Would you be willing to edit my blog post/novel/resume/letter of interest/memoir?”

This is endemic in any job that requires a highly specialized skill set. And yes, my friends, writing well requires a lot of study, practice, and upkeep. My spouse, an IT guru, gets texts from pretty much every living human, all desperate for free computer advice and repair. Although I’m an author, not an editor, editing has become my version of computery things. I’m not saying I hate helping out my friends, and I’m pretty free and easy with Word’s Review tab. Still, when I think about how much money I could be earning, – correction: when I think that I could be earning any money for these services, because I doubt editors make bank – I sometimes cry and rock myself to sleep.



Our time has not yet come, sweet backpack. 

For example, today I finally finished editing a friend’s 5000-word blog post. It took me a bit over two hours. I couldn’t help but reflect that, at the pay I receive for my day job, that amount of work could have earned me that super cute, faux leather backpack I’ve been eyeing.

And btw, editors who may read this, I don’t want to pretend I’m a Real Editor (see number one). I think I’m decent at editing, or at least at recognizing basic mechanical errors, but I’m no professional. Heck, if editing qualifies as greatness, greatness has been thrust upon me by others! 

3. “I have an awesome idea for your next book! It’s sorta autobiographical…”

So, you want me to be a free ghostwriter of the story of you? Uh, I think I might be busy washing my hair.

Also, I write paranormal romance, so unless you’re a weregiraffe who recently fell in love with a Frankenbeast from whose neck sprouts the head of Walt Disney, we’re probably not a winning match.

4. “Oh!” *eyes start glassing* “You write romance? That’s… cool.”

I admit, there is a part of me that wants to respond with something like, “You know, it’s unfortunate that we devalue romance because it’s a feminine genre. It’s actually quite lucrative [for someones not me, but whatever] to tell stories that put feelings at the center and the action as a satellite.” Who am I kidding? I do say this. However, I also fantasize about yelling, “It’s the bestselling genre out there, mofos!” Oh, sweet, cathartic fantasy.

5. “How cool to be paid for doing something you love.”

Ha! Ha ha ha! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!

But seriously, this is a kind statement, and I thank anyone who values what I do and recognizes the emotional satisfaction that comes from being an artist. The funny part is the

"You want another bowl of pho, baby? Let me go spend six months writing my next great novel."

“You want another bowl of pho, baby? Let me go spend six months writing my next great novel.”

notion that most of us get paid buckoo bucks. Ha ha ha! Ha! Ha ha ha! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!

My last royalties check bought my partner and me lunch. At TGI Friday’s. Without sodas.

During my last virtual book tour, one of the bloggers asked me for advice to new writers. My response was immediate: Don’t quit your day job. Unfortunately, fewer people read and more and more books are flooding the market, so the likelihood of becoming the next Charlaine Harris or James Patterson is pretty freakin’ slim. If you don’t write for the love of writing, you’ll come to resent your artistic medium – or perhaps the reading public, which has become increasingly anemic in recent years.

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Spooky Town

I set my paranormal series, The Folk, in and around the area where I live—the foothill suburbs of Denver. This always surprises my neighbors, who are convinced that there’s nothing remotely supernatural about the place. They think I should be writing about Transylvania, or at least Savannah. But I’d argue that most places have plenty of supernatural potential, if you just stop and look.

Some towns specialize in being spooky, of course. New Orleans, thanks to Anne Rice and scads of other writers, is everybody’s favorite setting for vampires. San Francisco and Seattle have their moments, maybe because they both experience lots of foggy evenings. I recently spent a few days in Santa Fe, and I’m amazed more writers aren’t setting supernatural stories there. You can’t turn around without encountering a clutch of Calaveras, the artistic skeletons from Dia de Muertos.

But I decided to work with what I knew, for good reason. The mountains, where a lot of Away, Unseen, and Found  takes place, can be very spooky. The silence, the isolation, the sound of the wind in the aspens. It all leads to the kind of situation where you find yourself checking to see just who or what is coming up the trail behind you. There’s also the fact that the extraordinary beauty of the mountains is coupled with extremely random danger. Just last spring two house-sized boulders slid down the mountains outside Dolores, CO, on Memorial Day with no particular warning. No one was hurt, but the possibility is always there.

However, I’d argue that you can find the spooky just about anywhere if you only look around. When we moved to Colorado ten years ago, I was a little worried. I’d been living and writing in Texas for a couple of decades, and I wasn’t sure I’d be able to find something to write about in my new home. After Halloween that first year, my hubs and I were driving down a particularly steep road a few miles from our house. At the top of the steepest stretch we came upon a couple of kids rolling discarded jack-o-lanterns down the hill to watch them smash. As I watched those pumpkins roll, I found myself thinking, “What if they were heads? And what if the kids were goblins? And what if…” After that, I figured I wouldn’t have any problems coming up with new plots.

So what’s spooky about your town? I’m willing to bet you can think of something. Just consider the parts of town where you get an uncomfortable feeling if you drive after dark, the deserted buildings where you walk a little faster, the old hotel where the ballroom seems a little…weird.

Spooky is all around. Fortunately for us paranormal writers.

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Pushing Past Fear into Unsuspecting Joy

By Jeanine Englert

Last year at this time, I never could have imagined being here writing a blog for Soul Mate Publishing a mere week after publishing my debut novel with them. This is a joy I never expected, but one I am so happy to have. Last year at this time, I was consumed with worry, doubt, and fear.

I couldn’t sleep well and I was so on edge that I was never really “present” in the moment. I remember booking my airline tickets for my husband and I to go to Denver for the Romance Writers of America conference. I was a 2018 Golden Heart ® Finalist after entering the contest five years in a row, and I wanted to go. . .but as I clicked BUY for the tickets, I had a pit in my stomach.

My Dad was in hospice, as he had been since March 19th, two days before I got the call that I was a Golden Heart ® finalist. Did I go to the conference? Did I not go? What if he got worse, and I couldn’t get home in time? Would I ever forgive myself if he passed away and I wasn’t there? I knew my Dad wanted me to go, but I was afraid to.

The pit of fear I had in my stomach grew with each passing day leading up to the conference, and I wasn’t sure I would really go until the day of the flight arrived. And even while I was there at the conference, for the most part enjoying myself, that nagging worry was in the back of my mind following me around like a long lost shadow. But, if I hadn’t pushed through that fear and boarded that plane, I never would have had such an amazing experience, or met Char Chaffin, my SMP editor at the Golden Heart ® mixer, or been offered a book contract, which lead to the publication of my first book.

My novel, Lovely Digits, was released on June 12th, 2019.

And now, a year later, I’m happy to say that my Dad beat the odds. After ten months in hospice, his cancer is in remission thanks to the combined miracle of prayer, medical care, and him taking his own risk by taking part in a phase one drug trial two years earlier. That drug saved his life and is now FDA approved.

In his own way, he took a risk and boarded his own plane when he received infusions week after week uncertain if the medication would help or not. And I boarded a plane, not knowing what unexpected joys it would also bring me. We both pushed through our own fears and were greeted with unexpected joys.

So if fear is holding you back, whether they are small or large fears, I challenge you to push through that fear. Everything you want may be waiting for you just on the other side of it.

Jeanine Englert is a Golden Heart ® Finalist and Daphne du Maurier Award winner in historical romantic suspense. After years of writing in secret, she joined Romance Writers of America and Georgia Romance Writers in 2013 and has been an active member ever since. She writes Scottish Highland historicals and historical romantic suspense novels.

When she isn’t wrangling with her characters on the page, she can be found trying to convince her husband to watch her latest Masterpiece or BBC show obsession. She loves to talk about books, writing, her beloved pups, and of course mysteries with other readers on Twitter @JeanineWrites, Facebook, or at her website

Her debut novel, Lovely Digits, released in June of 2019 by Soul Mate Publishing, is a Victorian romantic suspense that won the 2017 Daphne du Maurier Award and was named a 2018 Golden Heart ® Finalist for best unpublished romantic suspense.

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Summer Green

Whenever I think of summer, the color green pops into my head. Looking up from my laptop to give my eyes a break, my neighbor’s healthy lawn fills my view. The blue-tinted blades of grass contrast with the bright, chartreuse of potted plants which line the walkway. To the side, the muted, olive-toned leaves of a live oak provide shade so those plants don’t shrivel in the south Texas sun. Tan homes, brown fences, creamy limestone all provide a benign background which makes the green really pop.

It was like that in my hometown in Kansas, too, canopies and carpets, even the rivers, all in the same hue. Except when, like here in Texas, the inevitable drought occurred, and the grasses turned brown while the leaves dulled and drooped. But when the rains did come, the greening happened, and life turned happy once again.

There’s something about summer that makes me want to eat green things, too. Salads seem refreshing, the tart Granny Smiths so much better than the sweet, red versions, the cucumbers and zucchinis and peas and string beans all mouthwateringly earth-fresh. People can the abundance of these vegetables for wintertime dinners, but nothing can compare to the flavor of straight-from-the-garden. Which inspired my new breakfast, the green smoothie.

My version has protein and flax seed additives, but I’m convinced you can blend anything into the base of: a couple handfuls of spinach leaves, a ripe banana, a cup of liquid (water, coconut water, almond milk, or plain milk),and a couple ice cubes. Tomorrow, I’ll add blueberries, and I’m prepared for some horrifying alteration to the bright green of the base. But blueberries…enough said. The day after, I might try pineapple.

All I know is, I’ve found a new way to bring summer into my kitchen. And like the neighbor’s grasses, plants, and trees fill one office wall with green, this new breakfast drink adds a needed splash of happiness to my very white, grey, and black kitchen.

I hope you can find a way to bring a bit of summer happiness into your home, too.

BTW, the summer solstice is on Friday. These days leading up to that event have significance in my book, Daughter of the South Wind. If you’re interested to find out how and why, check it out here.

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Happy Father’s Day!

Whether you have one father, two fathers, a step-father, or an honorary father, and if you’re blessed to have a grandfather or two, today is the day to stop and be grateful for the many ways in which they enrich your life.

Fathers wear many hats: hard-working breadwinner, nurturer, role model, bringer of fun, biggest fan, and proud parent. They share their love of sports, music, cooking or a whole array of hobbies and want nothing less than the very best for their children. It’s an honor and a privilege to be a father and today we pay homage to all that they do.
Happy Father’s Day! Enjoy your day!


Cover PerfectlyHonest600Perfectly Honest
You never know where your words will take you…
When Mikaela Finn agreed to be Sam’s “fiancée” for a weekend, she probably should have told him that she’s a doctor. Sam O’Brien, aka “Dr. Eye Candy,” is trying to shed his playboy reputation and convince a small town hospital that he’s ready to settle down. But when his “fiancée” helps deliver a baby in the middle of the meet and greet, it’s a bit of a shock. If he’d known the whole truth, he might have done things a little differently because somehow his “fiancée” ends up stealing his job and his heart. Not exactly the change he wanted. Lies and deceit – it’s a match made in heaven!

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Award-winning author Linda O’Connor started writing romantic comedies when she needed a creative outlet other than subtly rearranging the displays at a local home décor store. Her books have enjoyed bestseller status. When not writing, she’s a physician at an Urgent Care Clinic. She shares her medical knowledge in fast-paced, well-written, sexy romances – with an unexpected twist. Her favourite prescription to write? Laugh every day. Love every minute.



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The Learning Curve of Releasing a Book


As of last month, I now have two books out with Soul Mate! Whoop!

And the difference between the two releases is astounding.

Before my first book released, I studied up on all sorts of different marketing techniques. Book reviews vs books tours vs speaking events vs pre-orders vs giveaways. Instagram vs Facebook vs Twitter. I basically threw whatever money I could afford at a wall to see what stuck.

Some had great results: I joined a big group of authors in my YA genre and hosted a giant giveaway of books and tea. I’m proud to call some of these authors my friends. I enjoyed tweeting and making graphics and posting, loved the busy social angle of marketing.

Some had terrible: I swore never to do pre-orders again until I had a much bigger audience or was on a final book in a series.

When the first book released, I was a bottle with a lightning storm of emotions swirling inside, just waiting for the my top to bust free. I couldn’t sleep the night before, couldn’t breathe, and the only way I could get my head on straight was to work on book 2.

All in all, the book release (and everything leading up to it) was wonderful and stressful and, surprise!, took more a toll on my health than the actual writing of the book. I felt as though I was strapped to a roller coaster with the car flying down the hill, speeding toward my pinned body fast.

If I tried all the same things again, I’d be looking at a flattened body with no hopes of finishing a book 3.

So I learned.

This time would be different. When it was time to prepare for the release of book 2, I first made a goal. Did I want to focus on getting my name out there, like I did with book 1? Or do I have a different goal? Like keeping a lower stress threshold while trying to gain more reviews and gaining some read-through from book 1?

I picked the latter.

I made a list of all the marketing/release strategies I did for book 1 and ranked them by how successful they were in terms of helping me gain reviews and how much I enjoyed it. I love graphics and it takes me way less time to whip out 5 different graphics with book quotes than writing 5 guest blog posts. So, keep the Instagram graphics, cut the guest blogs, but keep the review request tour. I wanted more read through from book 1, so I tried my hand at ads.

I felt way more in control of my marketing this time around. My budget was way lower, but so was my stress. The night before release I slept ten hours. Glorious. My ARCs came later than expected, so readers didn’t have the turnaround time needed to decorate the book page with reviews on release day. Even though this is usually a negative thing, this actually worked in my favor–I didn’t have to worry about running into a negative review on release day! Yay for lower stress!

I took the day off and just enjoyed having another book out there in the world. And I’m already looking forward to the day book 3 arrives 🙂

How has your release day strategy changed from book to book?


abby-j-reed-headshot-smilingABOUT ABBY:
Abby J. Reed writes young adult science fiction and fantasy novels that ask what if.She has a degree in English Writing and is drawn to characters with physical limitations due to her own neurological disorder called Chronic Migraine. Her second novel, WHEN DREAMERS FALL, will be published May 2019 by Soul Mate Publishing.

Abby lives in Colorado with her husband and two fluffy pups. If her hands aren’t on the keyboard, they are stained purple and blue with paint. Find her online at

When Dreamers Fall ebook cover 505x825

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Birthing a Book

This week was one spent in limbo for me. My latest release, “Electricity,” was “born” last Saturday, June 8th. After the exhilaration of seeing the title go live came the “diaper-changing” ordeal of converting the eBook into a paperback, because that format is due on June 16th, Father’s Day.


You see, I always aim to release my books on significant days. June 8th was my Grandson’s 7th birthday. June 16th, in addition to being Father’s Day, is also the date of my late father’s birthday. One of my most bittersweet regrets is that although my dad was one of the biggest advocates of my writing journey, he was gone before my first title was under contract with SMP in 2013 (Phantom Traces).

I hope there are bookstores, or at least Kindles, in heaven.

Now, however, I’m floating lost in the limbo of being “between books.” Which one should I start on next? I have two titles I’ve done significant work on before they stalled, and another I’ve been trying to write for almost fifteen years.


Thank goodness one of the characters from “Electricity” came to the rescue.

The sister of my hero, Kim Gallagher was but a minor character in the book. Once I wrote “The End” I really had no intentions to continue her story. Until two evenings ago. I’d fallen asleep on the sofa (a very bad habit of mine, but I get up at 4:30 a.m. and by 8 p.m. I’m done). When I awoke, instead of my usual before-bed routine, I walked straight into my office, sat down at the keyboard, and opened a new Word doc.

Kim was whispering in my ear. I wrote an entire opening scene to yet another book. I’m now in the process of developing my hero (a young German clock maker) and my setting (a haunted clock shop and museum). And I think I’ve even come up with a title: “TimePeace.”

I guess minor character Kim Gallagher wanted her story told. Either that, or the Muses have been especially kind to me. An idea for an entirely new book is a true gift, and I can’t wait to get started.

So I guess I’m “pregnant,” i.e., “with book,” once again…


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