Donna Barker, Author Ignitor BSW21

Show Highlights

  • Donna calls herself an “author igniter”
  • strong and storied background in writing, mostly non-fiction
  • she’s an accountability and motivational coach, basically working with writers in the stages before the completion of a first draft
  • she also does some developmental editing with non-fiction writers
  • she is working on a non-fiction book called, Your Shitty First Draft
  • believes we need passion, but we need purpose even more.
  • she is part of the on-line writer’s community, The Creative Academy

Donna Barker’s dark humorous novel has a fresh, snarky voice that will leave readers laughing out loud and turning pages right until the end.” Eileen Cook, author of With Malice

Mother Teresa’s Advice for Jilted Lovers is a hilarious, irreverent take on the darker side of spirituality.

Every time Tara Holland thinks she’s getting close to finally having her white wedding, the man who should be on his knee, giving her roses, winds up on his back, pushing up daisies. Needless to say, Tara’s beginning to think she’s cursed when it comes to men.

Her best friend, Betsy, who’s always there to put the pieces back together, convinces Tara she’s the cause of each of her boyfriend’s untimely exits to the other side. Could it be that Tara has that kind of psychic power? And is Betsy right that women all over the world would pay a pretty penny for it?

What follows is a wild and humorous trek down the path of Tara’s spiritual growth and ultimate awakening. But the road to enlightenment is no cakewalk. It’s fraught with stacks of ill-gotten cash, death threats, and orange jumpsuits.

Buy Link

Want to know more about Donna?

Her complete bio and contacts can be found on her website here. 

Favorite Drink: Mock Frangelico

1/2 cup heavy cream (32-36%)
a handful of ice cubes (4 to 6)
2-3 TBS squirt of Golden or Corn syrup
1 tsp of almond extract

Add into a Magic Bullet with

Whizzed and or shaken.
(And it tastes like something that would be delicious with rum for folks who like cocks not mocks!)

A Special Offer from Donna

and the Creative Academy

If you’re looking for great resources to help you through all stages of the writing, editing, pitching and publishing stages of your writerly journey, head over to and sign up for our free resource room. 
We want to reward go-getters like yourself who are out there doing the research and listening to great podcasts like this one. If you sign up for annual membership and use the coupon code PODCAST25 you’ll save 25% off your first year of membership to The Creative Academy which gets you access to all kinds of additional coaching and support including moderated writing sprints, blue pencil writing evaluations, query/synopsis feedback, office hours, Q+A interviews with industry experts and more! 

Next Week on Blood Sweat and Words:

 Sandra Wickham, organizer of The Creative Ink Festival in Vancouver


As always, Canva

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Kevin Tumlinson, Draft2Digital, Writing, Publishing and Podcasting_BSW019 1901008

“My real passion is telling a story.”

“My personal mission is to inform and inspire, educate and entertain.” Kevin Tumlinson


Kevin Tumlinson has a long-standing career in film, television, radio, and podcasting.  His popular podcast, the Wordslinger, is downloaded each week by thousands of listeners. He is known as the Voice of Indie Publishing—a title he’s proud to hold—as he has helped thousands of new authors grow their self-publishing careers. He is the head of marketing at Draft to Digital.

I asked Kevin Tumlinson about:

  1. his own books (i.e., award-winning archeological thrillers)
  2. what D2D, Draft2Digital, offers Indie publishers
  3. Marketing
  4. his podcast (i.e., Wordslinger)

One – About Writing

Kevin started writing at the age of 5 and never stopped. As a kid he would record stories onto cassette tapes, using his bathroom as a sound studio.

His number one tip for writers is: “Write every day, every single day.” Make it part of your routine, make writing time sacred.

The best choice of occupation for writers is copywriting as it teaches writers how to write fast, meet deadlines, self-edit and market.



Two – About D2D

The core principle of D2D is to make publishing so easy, a writer can focus on writing.

Tumlinson calls Draft 2 Digital The Easy Button for Indie Writers

There is an abundance of free tools available at D2D to help you go from a word document to an electronic and/or print book. You can also start audio books there.

Going Wide

Tumlinson believes “going wide” is the best, long-term practice for writers. There are many markets outside the reach of Amazon that other platforms, such as Kobo, target so by going wide you can reach more readers. Also, you need to consider that having all your books in one basket has its risks for you and for the industry.

Author Pages

The author pages on D2D are easy to manage, well-organized and informative. You can use one as your author webpage if you’re just starting out. There are no ads on the page. It’s all about you and your books.

Click here to see my author page.


On your author page, your books automatically arrange themselves in “series” carousels, according to the metadata you submit for your books. You can manage these carousels yourself, as well. For example, you can add a “Holiday Carousel” or a “First Book Free Carousel.”

Universal Book Links

Instead of having to list all your links, you can now register a UBL, a Universal Book Link, created by D2D. It’s pretty slick. You can even customize its name, so it is easy to read and remember. My book, A Highland Ghost for Christmas, for example, has the following UBL:

What About Money?

You can make more money going directly to each platform (e.g., Kobo, Apple and Amazon) but working with each one separately is a lot of work, and tracking your sales is a nightmare. D2D aims to make it easy for you to get your book out there on multiple platforms of your choice.

Why D2D is Different

Unlike Amazon, which is an enormous search engine that sells everything under the sun and is run by algorithms, D2D is a bookstore run by a group of Indie authors. They know what we need, and they work hard to make it happen.

Three – Marketing

The number one marketing tip he offers is that content marketing is the Indie author’s marketing tool of choice. He suggests leveraging content that relates to your stories to draw readers to your books.

Four – Podcasting

The key to success in podcasting is breaking down the process into systems. Know your goal, target your audience and make it easy for yourself by having systems you can rely on.

Contact Information:


Kevin Tumlinson is an award-winning and bestselling thriller author, with books available in hundreds of countries worldwide. With a long-standing career in film, television, radio, and podcasting, Kevin is a seasoned world traveler, and has produced documentary programming and films ranging from historic aviation to military history. His debut thriller novel, The Coelho Medallion, was a 2016 Shelf Notable Indie award winner.
Kevin’s popular show, the Wordslinger Podcast, is downloaded each week by thousands of listeners, eager to learn from guests that include New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling authors, Fortune 500 professionals, and industry leaders and entrepreneurs of all types. He is known as the Voice of Indie Publishing—a title he’s proud to hold—and he has helped thousands of will-be and new authors build and grow their self-publishing careers.

Kevin’s love for history, archeology, and science has been a tremendous source a material for his writing, feeding his fiction and giving him just the excuse he needs to read the next article, biography, or research paper. He lives in Texas, but works in random coffee shops, cafés, and hotel lobbies around the world.

My Review of The Girl in the Mayan Tomb

If you like the adventures of Indiana Jones, you’ll love this book. It’s an action-packed archeological thriller, filled with strong, well-defined characters that had me sitting on the edge of my seat from the first word to the last. There are many things I like about this story, but I’ll focus on one. The story opens when a young boy discovers the location of an ancient archeological site; that event captured my imagination and from there I was hooked.
I’m looking forward to reading more in Kevin Tumlinson’s, Dan Kotler series. I highly recommend The Girl in the Mayan Tomb to readers who like thrilling, archeological adventure.

Amazon Buy Button

Back Blurb:

When Broadway star Maggie Hamilton disappeared five years ago, it was a mystery that captured the imaginations of everyone. When her body turns up in the tomb of a Mayan god, it opens the door for an evil that could consume the world.

Dan Kolter and Agent Roland Denzel are back, and just in time, as a new threat emerges that could mean the end of all humanity. A mysterious figure has his sights on the contents of a lost Mayan tomb, and Kotler and company will need to use all of their resources, intelligence, and any luck they may have to keep an ancient curse at bay.

In this fourth full-length adventure, Dr. Dan Kotler faces off with the most clever death traps the Mayan culture ever conceived, using his wits and his skills to keep himself and everyone else alive.

Even if he escapes the Mayan tomb, it could be too late.

If you would like more information about D2D, check out this podcast on the Stark Reflections podcast:
The Three Co-Founders of Draft2Digital, by Mark Leslie Lefebvre.

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The Publishing Landscape BSW019 190101

Today’s episode airs on New Years Day, 2019.

I’ll be talking about the publishing world, as I see it, as we enter a new year.

I realize for many of you this information is not new, but for others it is, so bear with me.

The publishing world functions as a big monopoly game. The writer leaves home with her freshly polished manuscript under her arm—her head and heart filled with hope. As she meanders through the streets, she discovers many publishing options, but the roll of the dice is not always kind.

The object of the game is connecting her story with an audience that will appreciate it, but that’s not as easy as it sounds. There are more opportunities out there than ever before, but the question is, which one is best for her stories.

Forget Monopoly. It’s a crap shoot.

There are three main publishing choices:

  • Traditional Publishing
  • Small Presses
  • And/or Self-Publishing

Each option has advantages and disadvantages.

Traditional Publishing

Traditional Publishing, sometimes called Legacy Publishing, is dominated by “The Big Five.”. That’s right, just five.

  • Penguin Random House
  • Simon Schuster
  • Harper Collins
  • MacMillan
  • Hachette

Once upon a time, there were more publishers, but the bigger ones ate the little ones until we are left with the “Big Five.” Each of them owns many imprints. If you check in my show notes, you will find a link to a fascinating diagram that details which imprints are held by each of them.

To get a contract for your book with one of “the five,” you need an agent who will “shop” your book around the editors that represent the big publishers.

When you get a contract, your story will go through several edits and be given a cover. The process can take a year and a half or longer. These books are featured in brick and mortar bookstores.

What are the advantages of being published by one of the Big Five?

  • You get an advance when you sign your contract.
  • You don’t have to pay for your editing or cover design.
  • You can proudly say that you are published by one of the big guys.

What are the disadvantages?

  • You only make between 5 to 15 % on gross royalties and 25% on ebooks.
  • You have little say over the title or cover of your book, and its distribution.
  • It takes a long time to get your book to the market.

Small Presses

The definition of a small press is a publisher with annual sales below a certain level. In the U.S. that level is fifty million dollars.

The advantage of a small press is they have more flexible contract terms, and the author can negotiate a higher percentage of the royalties.

…the disadvantages? The editors and cover designers are assigned by the press.

Self-Publishing or Indie Publishing

There are many ways to self-publish. I prefer to call it “Indie Publishing,” by the way, because it’s all about independence. The writer is the author, publisher, and entrepreneur.

The advantages of “going Indie” are:

  • You retain all your publishing rights.
  • On ebooks, you make 70 % of the royalties unless you price your book below $2.99.
  • You have control over how much you make on print books by adjusting the price.
  • You have full control over the title, editing, cover design, marketing, and distribution.


The disadvantage: All parts of the writing and publishing of your book rests on your shoulders.

The Changing Landscape

As 2018 comes to a close, the world of publishing is changing at breath-taking speed. I’ve noticed five pivotal changes of late:

  1. Imprints which belong to the Big Five are folding into each other, as publishers fight to survive.
  2. Amazon nixed also-boughts, forcing writers to pay for exposure on their sales pages, a model which is called, “pay to play.” Facebook went to this model two years ago.
  3. Amazon appears to be moving towards a more geo-centric model, where books are managed more within countries. It makes sense regarding taxes, but the US market continues to be the strongest, so it’s rather confusing at the moment.
  4. As it becomes easier and easier to publish, a growing tsunami of books is flooding the market, creating a situation where there is more supply than demand, and it is increasingly difficult to get a book noticed.
  5. Audiobooks and podcast serials are becoming more popular, taking some of the market away from print.

The Good News

No matter how much the publishing landscape changes there is one absolute constant: We need good stories. It’s part of our cultural DNA. From the time of the caveman, stories have been handed down. Storytelling will never disappear. The world needs more storytellers. The world needs you.

Will Things Slow Down?

No. That’s not the way things work when you’re in the middle of a technological revolution. Change is the constant. I’ll borrow from Joanna Penn’s (from her Dec. 3rd podcast) timeline:


2007 – Kindle books opened in the U.S.

2009 – KDP launched internationally

Kobo and Nook started up

2010 – Apple launched iBooks

2013 – ACX launched, which allowed writers to create their own audiobooks

2014 – Patreon began, which allows creators to get paid by their patrons

2015 – Facebook went to a Pay to Play model, so that all of us who had spent hours and cash developing a massive list of followers could no longer reach them unless we paid FB money

2018 – Amazon rocks the world with changes, which are somewhat unclear at this point. It appears they have gone to a Pay to Play model and are developing a more geo-centric model.

All of these changes have made it difficult for mid-list writers to make a living by indie publishing alone. The terms, “content marketing” and “multiple streams of income” have become buzzwords.

Each of these events I listed monumentally changed our lives as authors and readers.

At the end of November, Mark Dawson said, “There has been more change in the book industry in the last six weeks, that there was in the last six years.” (Webinar)

We need to embrace change.

Who am I to give advice? No one. I’m like you, a writer in the trenches watching it all happen.  What I can do is tell you my plan for 2019, even though we all know where plans sometimes lead.

My 3 goals for 2019 are to keep:

  • informed about the events that affect the industry,
  • learning to improve my writing craft and marketing skills
  • talking with my fellow writers, because I believe that when we share our ideas and experiences, we all grow stronger

Getting more specific: I plan to launch my book, Podcasting for Authors, in February and the first two stories in Cassi Black Mysteries, my new paranormal cozy mystery series, in the spring. I also plan to build my podcast.

What are your goals? I’d love to hear from you.


The Big Five Link:

Joanna Penn (The Creative Penn Podcast, Dec. 3, 2018)

Christmas Show 2018 BSW 017 20181225

Welcome to Blood, Sweat and Word’s first, annual Christmas show. Today we are chatting with three Vancouver Island authors:

Jacqui Nelson

Judy Hudson

me – Jo-Ann Carson

Sit back and enjoy.

Jacqui Nelson


Award winning author Jacqui Nelson has a rich background to draw on as a writer. Her love for historical romance with adventure, grit and passion came from watching Western movies while growing up on a cattle farm in Alberta, which is in northern Canada. She says she had the best childhood imaginable.

Jacqui focused on computer programming in university and worked for years number crunching in the business industry. She moved into animation and worked on Harry Potter computer games. [how cool is that]

Then she started writing. She now splits her time between writing and working part-time at one of the most popular bookstores in Victoria.

Show Notes

  • Christmas memories of growing up in snowy Alberta with 2 1/2 TV stations
  • the Mail Order Brides shared world series
  • how she creates characters and plots
  • her favorite drink from the Christmas Market in Germany


Fall in love with a new Old West… where the men are steadfast & the women are adventurous. You’ll find Wild West scouts, spies, cardsharps, wilderness guides, and trick-riding superstars in my stories. Those are my heroines. Wait till you meet my heroes! My love for historical romance adventures with grit and passion came from watching Western movies while growing up on a cattle farm in northern Canada. I’ve been nominated for over 20 awards and won the RWA® Golden Heart® — but my best reward is hearing from readers who have enjoyed my stories.

Jacqui’s Christmas Books

Robyn: A Christmas Bride

Who’s the perfect match for a flame-haired Welsh tomboy who loves driving wagons?

Raised by three free-spirited older brothers, Robyn Llewellyn has learned to fight for what she wants—and now she wants to transform her boss and best friend, Max Peregrine, into a life-long partner. Determined to become the image of what a marriage-minded man wants, Robyn trades her trousers for a dress and heads to Max’s hometown of Noelle, Colorado. But changing who she is with the help of the now happily-married Brides of Noelle puts her friendship with Max at risk.

Who’s the perfect match for a work-addicted Denver business owner who loves his independence?

Defying his brother and grandpa’s wishes for him to stay with them in Noelle, Max Peregrine has created his dream job—leading a highly successfully branch of Peregrines’ Post while working beside the only person who makes him smile every day. But when Robyn leaves without a word, Max follows her to Noelle where the choices they both must face could make it impossible for them to stay together beyond Christmas day.

Inspired by My Fair Lady, The Gift of the Magi, and the spirit of gift giving, Robyn: A Christmas Bride is a classic Western historical love story set in a small town high in the mountains during Christmas 1877.

The Calling Birds: The Fourth Day

The 12 Days of Christmas Mail-Order Brides series

Many years have passed since Bernadette Bellamy fled the Cariboo Gold Rush and her reputation as the sister of a French-Canadian gang of thieves. Armed with only an honest talent for sewing and a willingness to lead a solitary life on the run, she stays one step ahead of everyone seeking her brothers’ last—and now lost—heist. Until a craving to settle down makes her reinvent herself as Birdie Bell, a dress shop owner. The arrival of an old foe combined with her desire to hold onto her treasure trove of fabrics has Birdie joining a wagonload of brides bound for a remote town.

After losing his leg and his wife, Jack Peregrine buries his pain under a mountain-high pile of work. He only agrees to sign up for a mail-order bride to save the town of Noelle, keep his freighting business, and care for his absentminded grandfather. But Jack’s request for a sturdy bride who won’t crumble under his burdens brings him a woman as tiny as she is troubled. Can two mismatched people band together to become the perfect match?

A wanted woman’s flight, a man in pursuit of honesty, not stolen gold…and only nine days left to save the town.

The 12 Days of Christmas Mail-Order Bridesseries blurb (if it can be used) …

Twelve men. Twelve brides. Twelve days to save a town.

Christmas, 1876: Noelle, Colorado is in danger of becoming a ghost town if the railroad decides to bypass the mountaintop mining community. Determined to prove their town is thriving, twelve men commit to ordering brides before the railroad’s deadline six days into the New Year.

Each of the twelve women has her own reason for signing up to become a mail-order bride. But after they arrive in the uncivilized settlement, they aren’t so sure they’ve made the right decision. Neither are the grooms.

Will the marriages happen in time to save Noelle? The countdown starts on Christmas Day.


Jacqui’s Special Christmas Drink

I love Glühwein (the hot mulled wine traditionally found at German Christmas markets) but I’ve never made it. I’ve just had it at markets. Now after finding a recipe, maybe I’ll be inspired to try making it at home.

Judith Hudson


Award-winning author, Judith Hudson, lives on Canada’s wild west coast. her Fortune Bay Series, focuses on relationships, between friends and families in a small town, and each story has its own happy ending. Her Pacific Northwest setting is based on Honeymoon Bay, a logging town on Vancouver Island, but she changed its name to Fortune Bay and moved it to the Olympic Peninsula to, shall we say, protect the innocent.

Besides being a talented writer, Judith is an artist and photographer with a Fine Arts Degree. Her understanding of cover design is amazing, so I’m really happy to talk with her about that as well as Christmas.



When Star’s van, her childhood home and only inheritance from her mother, broke down in Fortune Bay, she thought her mother had guided her to this warm, friendly place. But now, one year later, she still hasn’t figured out why. Her job at the café certainly isn’t a reason to stay, and although everyone here is very nice, so far she hasn’t met anyone really—special.

Now she’s moving into the Murphy’s cabin and couldn’t help noticing that everyone who lives there seems to find their happily ever after — even if it isn’t exactly what they’d thought it would be.

Harry Brewster has ended up in Fortune Bay too — a place he’d never expected to be. He’s kept his old buddy Marshall’s band on the road for 20 years, and although the life was getting old and he’s starting to look forward to settling down, does it have to be here, in Fortune Bay?

He’s never been the one in the band to get the girls, and although there had been a few women in his life over the years, there had never been anyone like Star. She was the yin to his yang and just might be the one to help this bottled-up business man slow down and smell the incense.

Starlight and Tinsel – available as an e-book or paperback on Amazon.

Buy Link

 Jo-Ann Carson

Whatever you believe, wherever you live … I wish you unlimited joy and infinite fun! May this holiday season revive your spirit.

Here are my three Christmas stories. They are free on Amazon and The Highlander is free across platforms (Universal Book Link). My gift to you. Merry Christmas.

A Highland Ghost for Christmas

I Messed Up Christmas

Murder for Christmas

Mimi Barbour: The Success of Boxed Sets_BSW13


I have to make an admission here. I’ve known Mimi for seven years. We live on the same island in the Pacific and share a love of books. She is a cherished friend and a mentor.

Who is Mimi Barbour?

NYT & USA Today, best-selling, award-winning author, MIMI BARBOUR, has seven romance series to her credit. She’s also created many single titles and has a huge number of box sets. Some of these sets are her own, others are multi-author collections, and that’s what we’ll be talking about today.

Mimi writes romance with humor and heart. She’s been known to say: “If I can steal a book-lover’s attention away from their everyday grind, absorb them into a fantasy love story, and make them care about the ending, then I’ve done my job.”

Show Highlights

  • boxed sets sell
  • working with other writers is rewarding and profitable
  • with good authors and good marketing you can make a best-selling list
  • her latest box set did make the USA Today best-selling list

Mimi’s Books

Love Christmas 2 – 99 cents USD

Sprinkle a little Christmas magic into your life with 26 ALL-NEW, never before released romances. Each title – exclusive to this set – is inspired by a favorite holiday movie, spun into a fantastic love story by a NY Times, USA Today, and/or award-winning, bestselling author and delivered to you in this wonderful collection full of cheer for the coming season.


Special Agent Charli

The only man she wants in her life is her old Gramps, and all he wants is a grandchild.

Special Agent Charli Madison can’t get a break. After the stress of her last horrific assignment, all she wants is to spend time vacationing with her Gramps in Fort Lauderdale, a city they both love. Plans go awry, and she’s forced into witness protection, guarding a teenage girl who’s the only person able to identify a notorious killer.

To make matters worse, she has to accept the womanizing local FLPD Major as her fictitious fiancé and her backup on the dangerous mission.

Heaven knows, she doesn’t deserve this mess…

Blake Sebastian is tired of his role as lover for the women who hang around him in droves. Problem is – he doesn’t trust any of them with his heart, never mind with his future.

When pushed, he admits to the curly-headed, disapproving FBI agent under his jurisdiction, a man can get sick of so much sugar. Every so often, he needs a little sour to offset that much sweetness.

Charli was not impressed.

Meet Mimi

NYT & USA Today, best-selling, award-winning author, MIMI BARBOUR, has seven romance series to her credit. She’s also created many single titles and has a huge number of box sets – her own and multi-author collections.

Mimi lives on the East coast of Vancouver Island with her husband and writes her various romances with tongue in cheek and a mad glint in her eye. She’s been known to say: “If I can steal a book-lover’s attention away from their everyday grind, absorb them into a fantasy love story, and make them care about the ending, then I’ve done my job.”

Her reviews are numerous and incredibly positive:

“Love Mimi Barbour, love her books. When you can read a book that within just a few words, you are brought right into the book. You feel, taste, see everything going on. Great story lines. Fantastic characters, fantastic plots, story lines like real life both honest folk and of crooks. Humor that will have you giggling then full on belly laugh. You may even shed a tear or two. All in all, Mimi never disappoints.” ~ Reviewed by Shirleen Miller

Email / Website / Amazon Author Page

Facebook / Twitter / BookBub / Newsletter

Favorite Adult Drink

I drink rye and coke. Tall glass full of ice. A small amount of rye whiskey and fill the glass with diet coke. It’s so good after a day of wracking my brain to keep up with all the chores.


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Mary Buckham: Multiple Streams of Income for Writers BSW015_181211

“The stories that each of us has are stories only we can tell. And if we don’t find a way to get those stories out into the reader’s hands, the world is a lesser place.”


I first met Mary seven years ago at a workshop she gave on writing active hooks. She blew my mind. Every sentence she uttered was pure gold. Since then I have attended several of her workshops. She’s a phenomenal speaker on all aspects of writing craft and a gifted writer. She’s published several series of the paranormal persuasion in adult and young adult categories and crafted a long list of reference books for writers.

And besides all of this, she has a large family. I figured if I wanted to know more about multiple streams of incomes for writers she’s someone I should speak to.

Show Notes

  • there are all sorts of opportunities out there for writers
  • create multiple, inter-related products
  • she writes fiction, non-fiction, creates webinars and does live events
  • the term writer-preneur fits the new reality
  • work less, do more by repurposing content
  • having kids taught her time-management
  • when you finish a book consider how you can enhance it
  • we need storytellers in our world – we need to value them
  • feed  your creative soul with the different projects
  • new writers should focus on craft and then look at the business of writing
  • once you have the craft and business down, then consider going wider
  • “trying and learning” is part of the process – see what works for you


USA Today Bestselling author Mary Buckham learned to get into and out of trouble at a very early age. Time has added to her opportunities—detained by Israeli intelligence; strip-searched by a Greek border patrol while traveling with a priest, sneaking into Laos. When not personally avoiding nuisances caused by her insatiable curiosity she creates lots of disorder in her Urban Fantasy Invisible Recruits series. Her characters at least have paranormal and preternatural abilities!

Her Urban Fantasy series is centered around five women drafted to combat preternatural beings agitating for world domination and combines a fantasy/paranormal element with high stakes and the pace of action-adventure stories. Mary loves creating thrills, spills, and spells as she follows the ups and downs of fascinating characters starting with Alex Noziak, the heroine of INVISIBLE MAGIC, INVISIBLE POWER, INVISIBLE FATE, and INVISIBLE JOURNEY  and Kelly McAllister, the heroine of INVISIBLE FEARS, INVISIBLE SECRETS and INVISIBLE EMBRACE. A prolific writer, Mary also co-authors the young adult sci-fi/fantasy Red Moon series with NYT bestseller Dianna Love.

When taking a break from the paranormal Mary crafts Writing Craft non-fiction including, A Writer’s Guide to Active Setting (Writer’s Digest Books), Writing Active Hooks and Break Into Fiction®co-authored with Dianna Love. If Mary’s not hiding out, find more about her and her writing projects by visiting:

She can also be found on Facebook at

Twitter at

Goodreads at


For information on Mary’s street team, Mary Buckham’s Book Ninjas, go to


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Julie Howard: Building Writing Communities BSW14_2018


Mystery writer Julie Howard is  a former journalist. She worked as a reporter and editor for publications such as The Las Vegas Review-Journal and The Sacramento Bee, and she wrote for a national news service and magazines. In her reporting life, she interviewed Oscar winners, Emmy winners and top business executives. She also did political writing for three governors in Idaho.

Then came book writing. Julie Howard worked as a ghost writer for a former Hewlett-Packard executive who wanted his memoirs written.

Her first published book, Crime and Paradise,  was released in August 2017 by The Wild Rose Press.

She is a member of the Idaho Writers Guild and founder of the Boise chapter of Shut Up & Write.

And that brings us to our topic today, Building Writing Communities. Welcome Julie …


Show Notes

  • Julie has a rich and varied background in writing
  • Crime in Paradise released in spring 2017, Wild Rose Press, the first in her Wild Crime series – latest release, Crime Times Two featured below
  • founder of the Boise chapter of  Shut up and Write
  • Shut Up & Write is an international organization
  • it has it’s own “method” – you gather with writers of different genres, chat a bit and then shut up and write for an hour
  • not every writing group works for every person – you need to find your own fit
  • lots of benefits to belonging to writing groups

Crime Times Two

Meredith knows three things: First, the man in the library begged her to help him. Second, he was afraid of his wife. Third, now he’s dead.

While the evidence first points to a natural death, Meredith is certain there’s more to discover. People are tight-lipped in this small mountain village, and the man’s wife isn’t talking either. Then a second death occurs, with remarkable similarities. It’s time to talk about murder.

As a slow-burning relationship heats up in her own life, Meredith struggles with concepts of love and hate, belief and suspicion, and absolution and guilt. Nothing is clear cut…

She must decide: Is guilt, like evil, something you can choose to believe in?

Who is Julie?

Julie Howard is the author of the Wild Crime series. She is a former journalist and editor who has covered topics ranging from crime to cowboy poetry. She is a member of the Idaho Writers Guild and founder of the Boise chapter of Shut Up & Write. Learn more at



Julie’s Favorite Drink

Straight Up Margarita


1 fresh lime

kosher salt

2 oz frozen limeade

4 oz water

2 oz Cointreau

5-6 oz top shelf tequila

large handful ice

Wipe rim of chilled cocktail glasses with fresh lime. Dip glass rim in a saucer of salt. Tap glass to shake off excess. Even you don’t like salt, don’t skip rubbing lime around lip of glass.

Combine limeade, water, Cointreau, tequila, and ice in cocktail shaker. Close and shake until frothy. Strain into chilled glasses. I usually serve over ice.

(Note: Don’t skimp on quality ingredients. Good tequila and orange liqueur is a must!)

My question to you:

What is your favorite quote or concept from this episode?


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Sharon Ashwood: Christmas Stories in a Dark Paranormal World_BSW013 181127


Sharon Ashwood is one of my favorite paranormal authors, so I’m over the moon  excited about this interview. She’s written for Penguin’s Signet Eclipse (before the line was closed), Harlequin Nocturne (which recently closed), and Del Rey, publishing18 trad novels, plus novellas, essays and shorter pieces. She began her professional writing career as a freelance art critic for several publications, including Monday Magazine and occasionally for the Globe and Mail. As a result of a cover article she wrote for the local RWA conference, she joined the chapter and began learning the crucial step of moving from under the bed manuscript to professional submission. In 2005 she got her first traditional contract with Penguin by winning the local chapter contest for unpubbed writers.

She’s tremendously talented and successful, but she claims,: “I still don’t know anything about this business!”

Show Notes

  • the paranormal world  has the same excitement and angst about Christmas
  • humor is a really valuable tool when you write dark stories
  • paranormal stories offer a terrific canvas for comedy and social commentary
  • she’s always been drawn to stories with magic, swords and unicorns
  • paranormal stories allow you to be super creative
  • plays on the contrast between everyday life and the otherworldly – the friction between the fantastic and the mundane
  • she describes the honor of accepting the Rita (the biggest award in the Romance world)
  • in the writing/publishing world you can be on top of everything one second and in  the basement the next, and then on top again
  • recently became a hybrid author and is learning the world of Indie publishing
  • she started in the Indie Publishing world with the Corsaire’s Cove Series, a shared universe she writes with friends
  • she has a demanding full-time job, so she manages her writing by planning in a paper notebook with lots of lists in it
  • considers herself a “plotter” as opposed to a “pantser,” but she’s a plotter who let’s herself lie
  • using her Nanowrimo time to create a new Urban Fantasy series

Tip: Prepare to constantly be learning.

Last Comment: The real secret to success is persistence.


Who says the holiday season is just for humans?

For all the holly-jolly times, family gatherings are complex no matter who—or what—you are. When you’re hunting for the latest “it” toy to stuff a stocking, it doesn’t matter if you’re alive or Undead, fanged or furry—you’re just as desperate to be the cool dad. And then there are the family grumps who never send cards, the ones who eat all the good candy, and those who drool and dig up the neighbor’s yard.

No, the Yuletide Season isn’t for the faint of heart—and sometimes it’s downright demonic—but holiday miracles make it all worthwhile. Chance encounters and unexpected forgiveness remind us that joy doesn’t come in a gift-wrapped box.

This novella from the Dark Forgotten world catches up with favorite characters for a fresh take on the holidays. Those visiting the world for the first time will understand why Chicago Tribune called it “simply superb.”

Grab this book and return to the world of the Dark Forgotten. Santa Claws is waiting!

Who is Sharon Ashwood?

Sharon Ashwood is a novelist, desk jockey and enthusiast for the weird and spooky. She has an English literature degree but works as a finance geek. Interests include growing her to-be-read pile and playing with the toy graveyard on her desk. As a vegetarian, she freely admits the whole vampire/werewolf lifestyle would never work out, so she writes her adventures instead.

Sharon is a winner of the RITA® Award for Paranormal Romance. She lives in the Pacific Northwest and is owned by the Demon Lord of Kitty Badness.

Contact Info:

WebsiteEmailFacebook / Twitter /

Instagram / Pinterest / Goodreads

Bookbub / Newsletter


A Drink She Invented for a Series

The Cat’s Purr 
Put in a largish mug:
3 TB of Calvados or other apple brandy
1 TB Frangelico
Fill with hot chocolate
Top with dash of cinnamon and a generous splash of cream.
Note: for The Corsair’s Cove series


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S. G. Wong: The Marginalization of Minorities BSW012_181020


Hybrid author S.G. Wong is a member of The Writers Union of Canada, the Writer’s Gold of Alberta and the past president of Sisters in Crime, Canada West. She writes alternate history, speculative fiction.
S.G. is a remarkable speaker. I met her at a Sisters in Crime Conference where she spoke about making book marketing manageable. Today we’re going to talk about the hot topic of marginalization of minorities in books.

Show Notes

  • even calling a group a “minority” is marginalizing
  • the importance of learning about the culture and life of the individuals through interviews
  • sensitivity edits, what they are and how they work
  • “inclusivity” vs “diversity” – words matter

Devil Take the Hindmost

This is my most recent novel release, from 2016, Devil Take the Hindmost:

A simple job. A den of thieves. A woman committed to the truth.

It’s a straightforward case: find a missing husband who spends his days examining stamps. Still reeling from recent tragedy, however, PI Lola Starke wants to pass altogether, more so since her ghost, Aubrey, insists it’s the perfect case to ease back into things. But the wife is adamant that something bad has happened. What’s a shamus to do—especially when the missing man works just down the hall?

But straight ain’t in the cards, not in the middle of a high-stakes business deal involving the City’s most powerful film studio, a wily gangster, a rival PI…and a rare stamp. When her client is kidnapped, Lola discovers just how far down the twisting path she’s willing to go to save the woman and her missing husband.

This is the ’30s and this is Crescent City, where gangsters and thieves are thick on the ground and the film studios are the biggest game in town. Where smiles hide secrets and good intentions mean nothing. Where the only question is, what will it take to be last woman standing?

Contact Info

Twitter: @S_G_Wong


S.G. Wong writes the Lola Starke series and Crescent City short stories: hard-boiled detective tales set in an alternate-history 1930s-era “Chinese L.A.” replete with ghosts and magic. She is a Whistler Independent Book Awards nominee and Arthur Ellis Awards finalist. As an avid reader since the age of 7 and a current professional writer nerd, she’s always geeking out on all sorts of genre reads, as well as on worldbuilding, historical research, and the latest publishing industry blog post.


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Janice MacDonald: Genre Fiction the Poor Cousin, BSW011_181113


Janice MacDonald is the author of the Randy Craig Mysteries, set in Edmonton, Alberta. Randy is an amateur detective and academic manqué, who finds herself in a variety of dilemmas as she tries to worm her way into one niche or another of university life. Janice herself no longer teaches at the university level, although she used to lecture on English literature, communications and creative writing. Her MA was on Parody and Detective Fiction, one of the first studies of “subliterary fiction” allowed at the University of Alberta.

She and her husband live in Edmonton

Show Notes

  •  “genre fiction is the poor cousin at the table who actually pays for all the snooty poets to be at the party.”
  • the alignment of genre writing
  • levels and sub-genres of mysteries
  • what makes the mystery genre do compulsory readable
  • changing settings and aging characters
  • many readers are obsessively addicted to mystery fiction
  • Advice: shut the door and write
  • Crime pays

The Eye of the Beholder

The Eye of the Beholder takes reluctant sleuth and sessional university lecturer Miranda “Randy” Craig from Mexico’s Pacific coast to Edmonton’s vibrant visual art scene while retaining the trademark suspense and humour that have made the series so popular with lovers of academic mystery.

Randy and Steve have finally tied the knot. With the snow blowing and temperatures dipping well below zero they are looking for an escape from the frigid Edmonton winter. Like so many others, they head south to Puerto Vallarta, Jalísco, Mexico, along with a crush of University of Alberta students, looking for a good time during spring break. When a student is found dead in an elaborately staged scene, Randy’s romantic beach walks and candlelit dinners will have to wait. Instead Randy and Steve will have find meaning in the murder to catch the culprit. If they don’t, the honeymoon just might be over.

Meet Janice

“Janice MacDonald is a Canadian author of literary and mystery novels, textbooks, non-fiction titles, and stories for both children and adults. She is best known for writing seven novels featuring amateur sleuth Miranda “Randy” Craig. The Randy Craig Mysteries were the first detective series to be set in Edmonton, Alberta, where Janice lives and works. The latest installment, The Eye of the Beholder, was published in October 2018 by Ravenstone Books, an imprint of the highly respected Turnstone Press. In recent years Janice has also concentrated on literary short fiction, essays, and creative non-fiction. Confederation Drive, a passion project about her trip across Canada on the 50th anniversary of Expo ’67 in Montreal, was released by Edmonton-based Monto Books to coincide with the “Canada 150” sesquicentennial celebrations in 2017.

Janice is a lifelong fan of detective fiction and even wrote her master’s thesis on the subject. She was a long-time reviewer of mystery novels for the Edmonton Journal and an on-air “crime fiction expert” for the Canadian television series Booked. Her first Randy Craig mystery was published in 1994. She is not to be confused with the “small d” Janice Macdonald who writes romance novels. Capital-D Janice MacDonald always makes certain that her books have a much higher body count.

Janice is honoured and delighted by the enthusiastic response to her latest books, and she enjoys interacting with readers through social media on Facebook, Goodreads, and Twitter. To join the discussion, see the icon links at the top of this page.” (from her website)

Contact Info



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Murder for Christmas

Agatha Christie meets The House of Usher

When code-breaker Madison Rathborne gets an all-expense paid trip to a remote island in the Pacific Northwest the week before Christmas, she expects a peaceful getaway from the fake Santas in the city and the drama of her family’s turkey feast, but Deadman’s Island offers no such sanctuary. Trapped in a maze of secrets, scandals and murder, with a side of ghost, Maddy struggles to make sense of it all. Macabre stories of gruesome deaths on the estate go back centuries. Her logical mind refuses to believe in legends, but there’s no reasonable explanation for what’s going on around her.

Twelve strangers invited to the gathering discover turkey is not the only thing on the menu, as one by one they meet their maker.

Will Mad Rath’s superior logician skills crack the mystery before the killer gets her? Or is there a supernatural force at work that cannot be conquered?

Buy Link