Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Good Reads #2 - Review of Write it Forward

Write it Forward by Bob Mayer is a very extensive "how-to" book structured much like a self-improvement book, providing strategies (Mayer calls them tools) that take writers to their next level.

Whether it's writing, marketing, networking, etc., the writer can employ these tools to plan, do, then evaluate one's progress.

Mayer is a former Green Beret and so draws on that experience for illustrations, which are surprisingly relevant. I especially liked the use of SOPs - standard operating procedures - for each stage of the writing process.

The nine tools are what, why, where, character, change, courage, communication, command, complete. These form a 'circle of success' for when you complete the strategies in one area or at one level of your life (or writing), you cycle through them again to continue to improve and advance in your career.

The book is a bit repetitive at times, but I think that's intentional as the material covers so much ground it's good to cycle back and read something you learned earlier but then again in light of a greater context. Very practical. Recommended and not just for writers.

Mayer has a website ( where he blogs and gives away some free ebooks (I've read a number of his military thrillers and have enjoyed them). But he also provides some excellent slide-shows with great information on dozens of topics relevant to writers and life in general. Good stuff.

Peruse more of my #GoodReads.
Get yourself a free ebook.

Monday, January 08, 2018

Write Stuff #2 - Progress

Week of January 7 to 12, 2018
Write Stuff - Current Projects, Goals, and Celebrations.

My weekly writing goal for January is to compose a short story each week of around 5,000 words. So 1000 words a day is my target. If I miss a day, no biggy, the goal is 5k/week this month.

UPDATE for last week: I wrote a short story of about 5,500 words. So mission accomplished!

Long range, though, this translates to 60,000 words over the next three months. And since I'm about 20,000 words into book two of my "Mack the Magical Cat" cozy mystery series, my plan for February and March is to complete that short novel and publish it in April. You can read snippets of it at #WIPSnippet.

Last week I said I was going to focus on craft this month so I can submit January's short stories for publication. And I joked I would not write any silly space monkey pirate stories. ;) But I take that back. If I can sneak one more space monkey story in, I'll have a collection and will publish that later this month.

Why? Because of another challenge I think I'll take up. May not hit it exactly, but another writer posted an idea that I liked - publishing some project every two weeks for a total of 25 books or collections or short stories in 2018. That would be way cool. Two projects a month.

I already have an Amish romance novel nearly completed, so that could go up by the end of January. And if I finish my space monkey pirate collection, that will go online in a week or so. Boom, baby! Two projects for sale in Janaruay. Imagine 25 new books in my online bookstore by the end of the year!

I'm imagining it and going to work at making it a reality!
Thanks for reading. By the way, want a free ebook? :)

Saturday, January 06, 2018

WIP Snippet #4

Welcome to Jan 6 & 7 "WeWriWa" blog hop.

Weekend Writing Warriors is where participants post 8 to 10 sentences of their latest release or work-in-progress. All genres represented; commenting is encouraged. Spread the word: #8sunday #wewriwa

My WIP - Ma Tutt's Secret Spice (coming April, 2018)

This is book two of a curious cozy featuring a magical cat named Mack and the owner of a donut hut named Ma Tutt. Each week I'll simply post the next 8 to 10 sentences of my novel, so obviously not all of these will be complete scenes. Still, should be fun. To catch up, click #WIPSnippet.

Snippet #4

Ma Tutt looked at the cute little kitty door next to the back entrance and considered herself fortunate that Mack hadn’t brought back any of his 'prizes' into the kitchen. Oh, the local food and health inspector would have a fit if he were to visit on the day Mack left such an offering!

She peeled her eyes off her feline friend and grabbed a favorite apron, one with a colorful splay of California poppies. She donned a hairnet and tucked away a few graying strands of hair. Ready at last, she began her opening routine with a spry step that belied her sixty-year old legs.

“I have a feeling it’s going to be a busy morning, Martía, so if you’ll man the oven and deep fat fryer, I’ll make sure the display case out front is fully stocked.” The Gypsy woman nodded and, with another yawn, got to work.

This being a Friday and the start to a busy Fourth of July holiday weekend in the middle of tourist season, Dolly expected quite a crowd. But then, so far this summer, most weekends had boasted a whirlwind of activity.

After just two months of business, the Hut was already the community’s hotspot and a favorite stop for vacationers on their way to a mountain lake getaway; it was not unusual to see a line forming at the front door by the time Dolly hit the lights and turned the Closed sign to Open.


Thanks for reading! If you want to get in on the mystery and like gentle bakery stories - and with a magical cat! - then book one, Ma Tutt's Donut Hut, might be of interest. Available at Amazon. Here's the back copy:

Dolly Tutt has just opened her own bakery in the small mountain community of Sugar Pine Station. But the Creamy Pie franchise across the street is giving her fits. Her business is dying. She needs a miracle or she'll be forced to close. 

Fortunately, Mack, a mysterious tabby that came with the doughnut shop, lends a paw by pointing Dolly to a magical ingredient that definitely puts the spice back in her life and rejuvenates the Donut Hut. Unfortunately, it also unleashes a series of catastrophes that may end up destroying her business once and for all. 


To find out what else I write, visit my publishing site, Tule Fog Press. And if you subscribe to my monthly newsletter, I'll send you a free ebook as a thank you gift. Appreciate you dropping by!

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

Good Reads #1 - Every Day is a Gift

For my Wednesday column, I'm going to share some "good reads" that I've come across. Could be books I'd like to recommend or an article or two, a blog post maybe. For this inaugural post today, though, I'd like to copy (with my friend's permission) a devotional by Nate Matt. He shared this a few months ago on his Walk to Emmaus and with our church family as well. Some good thoughts here.

“Every Day is a Gift” by Nate Matt 

When the doctors come to the waiting room to update the family on the status of a newly admitted critical patient, you don’t want to hear them say every day is a gift. You should know that it is time to pray. Pray hard! Share your efforts with everyone you can think of!

When the staff returns several times over the next few days and they repeat the status... Keep Praying. Most of us can’t offer specific medical assistance in times like this. We can only ask our Lord to guide the hands of the medical team. We can only ask that His will be done. We can only request that His peace come to the situation. 

We can only ... wait! WHAT? “ONLY”??!?!? Are you kidding me?

What WE can offer is “only” the All Knowing Guidance of the Great Healer! We can invite the One who walks on water! We can cry out to God, our Father to bring about the exact result we desire – because He TOLD US TO!

Jesus told us that if we abide in Him and His words abide in us, then ask what you will and it will be done unto you!

People – PRAY! Pray without ceasing – in good times and bad. Our Lord has given us the greatest tool to calm the seas. Prayer. Challenge your own faith and ask for HIS help. Keep Jesus close. Keep His words in your heart and on your tongue! Sing His praise and cry for His assistance.

Every day truly IS a gift. Just know that you have, at your side, the One who defeated death – and through His Amazing Grace, you have no less days to sing His praise, than when you first began. Amen? Yes, Amen!


A priest functions as God’s representative IN the world – but a priest also acts as the people’s representative TO God, going to bat for the sake of the people and offering sacrifices of love on their behalf.

I have the joy of having a great mother-in-law. And not only that, my mother-in-law has a fantastic best friend, Joleen, who has shared much of life’s big events right alongside my wife and her family, truly making herself available in all things as that classic second mom to so many of the neighborhood kids growing up in Derby, KS.

Now this great friend of the family, Joleen, is of retirement age and she loves to garden and spend time outdoors. She was out in the yard doing some fall clean-up when she found herself getting dizzy. She goes into the house to lie down and can’t get comfortable, can’t relax, can’t cool down. She ends up getting her husband on the phone who had been away from the house, and he quickly realizes that she needs medical help. An ambulance is called.

She ends up at the hospital and by that evening, her two children are either back in town already or making emergency accommodations for their young families and taking whatever means available to get to Wichita immediately.

Joleen has suffered a massive heart attack and the outlook is weighing heavily on the negative side. Now everybody in that family has Facebook, Twitter, SnapChat, LinkedIN, GooglePlus, Tumblr, and Instagram accounts and they are all equally well versed in what one another had for lunch the day before. But this news is not something that travels by that medium – the information is far too personal and the situation far too fluid to take to the web and start blogging, vlogging, chatting, and posting. (Personally, I had walked away from my Facebook addiction a year or two earlier, but I still knew how to post to my wall.)

Well, nobody in Joleen’s family had said a single word online yet, so I was certain that I could not share more than a heavily veiled reference to her. And it kinda came out as a simple plea to our Lord asking for His guiding hand in the situation – begging for one more holiday for her family to enjoy their mom, wife, grandma.

Here’s the post from that night, Nov 3, 2015: Please pray with me – Lord please be with your child this night – this wonderful friend, mother, grandmother, wife, second-mom – Carry her through this heart trouble and deliver her healthy back into the arms of her loving husband. We pray in your Great and Holy name, Amen. 

I closed my prayer asking for any believers to simply post an “amen” and more information will come forward in time. Understand, I don’t have the kind of following that makes something go “viral,” but to me, the response was overwhelming.

As the family was willing to share more, I got permission to offer a bit more information and the pleas and petitions to the Lord kept coming in. A couple days after Joleen was admitted to the hospital in critical condition and after many reports with verbiage communicating very low expectations from the doctors, we were greeted one morning with a report that the doctor could not explain: Joleen had progressed so well in the few hours just before dawn that they could not believe what they were seeing. Options and procedures absolutely not available the night before were well within reason in the morning. They acted swiftly as the window of opportunity presented itself and with that, Joleen was on the road to recovery!

Here’s the follow-up post: All – again thank you for your prayers – the Power that carries is obvious and Amazing! Joleen had a great bit of news this morning – her positive progress overnight has surprised her surgeon and he suspects that if she continues on this current trend, she could move out of CICU this weekend! The heart attack was regarded as massive – and yet this progress is positive – we all know things will not be the same, but we can sure pray that she and her family get to enjoy one another’s love on this earth for a while longer :-)

They couldn’t explain the turn-around. It didn’t make sense to them. But I believe absolutely and with no doubt that the power of focused prayer brought the Great Healer, Our Lord into that hospital room for the express purpose of acting on the prayers of a loving people behaving as one body, petitioning Him with love on behalf of another member of the body of Christ.

Each one of us, a Believer with the power to make His Grace REAL in our daily lives. That moves me! Knowing that, it makes me quake! I wanted to learn more about this power!

I took the opportunity to study a little more and I ended up writing a little something* for a small publication, just hoping to touch someone else with the fact that we are each given the authority – The Responsibility – to be priests to one another. 2nd Corinthians 5:18 and beyond makes it clear that God gave his Son, holy and pure, to partner with us as members of His body, joined in His priestly work of reconciling God and man.


That was the fall of 2015, and just last month, I had dinner out with Joleen and her husband along with my wife and Mother-in-Law. Joleen is a real world testament to the Power of Prayer!

– Nate Matt, September, 2017

* See “Every Day is a Gift” at the beginning of this article.

Monday, January 01, 2018

Write Stuff #1 - January Projects

New Column for the New Year: 
Write Stuff - Current Projects, Goals, and Celebrations.

I'm thinking every Monday I'll post an update on what I'm working on, where I'm at with my goals, and share some success stories (things I've published, acceptances, goals met, etc.). Sound like a plan?

So for this first day of 2018, here's what I have on deck for January. I've set up a writing schedule in my office, blocking out a project per week (or over multiple weeks) for the next three months. January's list includes 4 short stories of about 5,000 words each (short story a week).

My goal for each story is to submit them for publication. So I'm going to really focus on the craft here. No silly space monkey pirate stories this month. ;) Yes, I'll have fun with the process but these will be less off the cuff and more intentional.

Numbers wise, this means my daily word count goal is 1,000 words (5 days a week, that is). Which translates, 3 months out, to 60,000 words. That's equivalent to a short to mid-length novel. Keep that up for a year, and I'll have 4 novels done by the start of 2019. That's a stretch goal, to be sure...a quarter of a million words. Whew! But shoot for the stars and all that.

If you're a writer, what are some of your writing goals this year?
If you're a reader, what are some of your reading goals this year?
Comment below and I'll keep you updated as well.
Thanks for reading. By the way, want a free ebook? :)