Thoughts on working from home …

… or, “My Life Never Turns Out Quite Like I Planned.” Also, “It’s A Little Too Quiet, What Are They Doing Now?”

Prior to giving birth to two perfect little girls, I had many ideas of how perfect our perfect lives would be. One of the things I swore up and down I would do, had to do with how much screen time I would allow the children. They would definitely never watch more than an hour—per week! And it would only be shows that my spouse and I deemed educational, or with merit. Our logic went, if we never let them watch anything except what we let them, then how would they know to ask for anything else?

What ever are those vibrations? Could it be the combined laughter of those experienced toddler parents out there, admiring our goals? Possibly. They were lofty, perhaps a little naïve, but we do our best to balance them with the reality of keeping two little people alive—and also keeping a little bit of our sanity.

We do our best to place controls over what our kids watch—guided access on the phone, no YouTube, not letting them watch television unsupervised. We–and by “we”, I mean “me” as I’m also trying to get in my 2,000 words a day and plan a re-launch of my urban fantasy series–do our best, also, to re-direct and get the kids playing with their toys or each other. Sometimes it works.

Sometimes it doesn’t. What to do when they come to you with the need for attention and the desire to give theirs to the screen? Our oldest is currently in an obsession with a show that features puppies who talk and go on adventures, and so I’ve tried to come up with a few alternatives to watching the same thirteen downloaded episodes over and over.

  1. Let’s read your Talking Puppy Cartoon books! They’re about five pages each, and mostly consist of the characters saying their particular catchphrases—over and over. You do have four of them, so it seems like we’re reading a lot.
  2. I know! You can draw a picture of your Talking Puppy Cartoon friends! Sure, it looks like an early-period (and also crappy) Jackson Pollack, and there are marker stains on our upholstered chairs, but you’re happy and I didn’t have to listen to any characters’ monosyllabic catchphrases for the past twenty minutes.
  3. Take your Talking Puppy Cartoon doll for a walk. While it’s true that I’ll be the one doing the work as you ride in style with Ms. Plushie in the jog stroller I’ve never actually used for jogging—at least we’ll be out of the house. And maybe you’ll take a nap. Or not.
  4. Sit next to me as we put together your Talking Puppy Cartoon jigsaw puzzle that we got as a bonus gift at your dad’s work holiday party. True, your baby sister has gnawed on a few of the pieces, and you aren’t old enough to quite grasp the concept of a puzzle. So it’s mostly you being impatient all the time that I’m putting it together, but at least you aren’t in full-out screen time frenzy meltdown mode. And once it’s finished, you’ll admire it for a full ten seconds before getting bored.
  5. Play with your actual puppies. They don’t talk, but they’re fluffy and will give you love. And possibly some slobber. And yes, the Basset hound is a little stinky. But learning how to interact with pets is good for you, emotionally.
  6. Revisit your previous obsessions! There’s Purple Amulet Princess, Doll Starring as a Mermaid, the Let-it-Go Princess, and of course the multitude of Tiny Yellow Meepers. You’ve got the dress-up dresses, the stickers, and the coloring books, so spend five minutes with them. (Okay, just kidding about the dress. We never take that one off.)
  7. Do some art on the hand-made, wood-crafted, one-of-a-kind easel that your dad made for you with brass fittings from your great-grandmother’s old wicker storage chest. That’s family history right there, kid. Appreciate it. And while we’re at it, don’t drop the chalk on the floor, because your sister likes to eat it.
  8. Let’s read some more books! No, not the Talking Puppy Cartoon books. Other books. Oh, okay. Talking Puppy Cartoon books it is…
  9. Build something with that giant bag of megablocks your mom thought it would be a good idea to get for you. Or throw them around the room and spend a half hour crying because I told you to pick them up. That works, too.
  10. You know what, baby girl? I’m going to let you watch your Talking Puppy Cartoons while I sob softly into my well-researched library of parenting books. Because I have a deadline, three piles of laundry, and a desperate need for a small glass of wine. Tomorrow, we’ll start again.

New Release: Sealed With a Kiss

For immediate release! On January 29,  Boroughs Publishing Group will release a double-stacked Valentine’s Day compendium, Sealed With a Kiss. (Available now for pre-order in multiple digital formats.)

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As readers of this blog may be aware, last year I started writing romance under the pen name, Becca A. Miles. My project is a romantic suspense series, set in Wilmington, N.C., which is one of my favorite places to vacation. This Valentine’s Day, one of my stories, “Sweetheart,” a novella that follows up my debut novel, Negotiating Her Release, will be available as part of a two-story collection with Marilyn Baxter’s “The Last Take-Away.” I’ve invited Marilyn to join me as we talk about our stories.

MARILYN: The Last Take-Away is contemporary romance and tells the story of both the hero (Drew Paxton) and heroine (Maggie Sullivan).  Because my editor liked the story so much, she’s asked me to develop this into a series, so it’s the beginning of the larger universe of St. Magnus Island, a small fictional barrier island off the coast of Georgia.

BECCA/IS: I love the idea of a novella that introduces us to a larger world. That is one of the reasons why I enjoy reading romance–in many cases, authors write not just books, but whole series, that allow the reader to spend time in the worlds that they love. My story, “Sweetheart,” is a romantic suspense that takes the characters from my first book, and puts them in a new predicament. It also introduces a few more of the characters that I’ll be sharing with readers in future stories. For example, there are two characters who seem like total and complete opposites. But here’s a romance pro-tip: If a character declares that another character is absolutely, totally, and definitely “Hot, but not my type …” well, I’ll let you be the judge.

I came to writing romance first as a reader who enjoyed the genre, but didn’t have much luck getting any ideas off the ground. Luckily, I had a mentor, romance author Emmy Curtis, who saw promise in my other writing and encouraged, bribed, tricked, and offered me resources to start plotting and creating this series.

Dancing on the Sand, by Marilyn Baxter.

MARILYN: My first published work was in my ex-husband’s government agency’s professional journal.  He was a federal auditor, and we were gypsies living all over the southeastern US for the first two years we were married.  I wrote a humorous article about living out of a suitcase for the southeast field office newsletter, and the regional manager liked it so much he sent it to Washington, DC for inclusion in the national journal.  I even got a nice plaque from the Comptroller General of the United States!  Fast forward to the early 2000’s.  I read in spurts in the years after college (Stephen King, Robert Ludlum, Sidney Sheldon, Belva Plain to name a few) but in 2004 I discovered romance, and oh my gosh, I was captivated!  I especially loved category romance and devoured them.  I got to know a couple authors online and was asked to work for a now-defunct website as a reviewer.  A couple of those authors (one of whom is a brainstorming partner) encouraged me to write.  I dabbled and dawdled and took five years to finish my first book.  And a month after I finished it, my marriage fell apart.  It’s hard to write happily ever after when your own has ended.  But fast forward again a few years, and Boroughs had a novella contest I was a finalist in, and they not only published my novella but invited me to submit a full-length novel.  That novel was the five-year endeavor.  And I haven’t looked back.  Also, in and around the romance, I began writing for the confessions and romance magazines (True Confessions, True Romance, True Story) and sold about 50 stories and features to them before they closed shop last year.

BECCA/IS: One of the ways that I began to get a handle on how to write was to review the various romance novel tropes, and see which ones spoke to me. With a background that includes military service, a degree in criminal justice, and an interest in politics and high stakes, it seemed that romantic suspense was my most natural genre, and the alpha male/law enforcement/military was one of the tropes I was drawn to–with a twist! I love it when my male and female characters both live in that world. I also really enjoy opposites attract, friends to lovers, and character in peril, especially when they save themselves with the support and love of the other character. Surprisingly, my first novel, NHR, also uses a virgin trope. I’m not sure why that spoke to me, but I hope that people give it a chance!

Negotiating Her Release, by Becca A. Miles

MARILYN: I love marriage of convenience, friends to lovers, jilted bride and accidental pregnancy.  Least favorite?  Uhm… I haven’t read one yet I didn’t like.  Some are just more favorite than others.

After we talked about tropes, I asked Marilyn, what’s the most challenging thing about writing romance?

MARILYN: EVERYTHING!  I hear people say “I could write that,” and I want to challenge them to do it.  Creating a world and relatable characters with good motivation and conflict isn’t easy.  Or it isn’t easy for me.  Then you have to put it all together into a compelling story.  But struggle as I might, I always love the end result!

BECCA/IS: I don’t have much to add to that!

So what’s coming up next for us?

MARILYN: In addition to writing for Boroughs Publishing Group, I also write for Amazon Kindle Worlds, specifically Roxanne St. Claire’s Barefoot Bay Kindle World.  I’ve had two BBKW novellas released so far and my next project is another one to be released in July of this year.  It will feature a trope I haven’t tackled yet – the billionaire hero.  And I have no idea who he is yet.  ACK!

BECCA/IS: I’ve just submitted another novel in the series to Boroughs, and am currently working on researching and plotting the next book in the series. It’s been challenging, because I’m working on spending more time in my characters’ heads–and one of them is a serial killer! My goal is to share more of these stories, including writing more holiday-themed novellas, as they are just so much fun.

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If you enjoyed our conversation, please stop by our Facebook release party on Tuesday, January 30, from 5-10 pm! There will be some terrific authors present, awesome prizes, and much fun to be had. Also, you can check us out online, drop us a Tweet or a Facebook comment–we’d love to hear from you!

Visit Marilyn Baxter at her Web site:,

or via Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram


Visit me online at Facebook or Twitter! And stay tuned for more news and musings…

Marketing is hard…

As we enter the New Year, I do what I normally do, which is sit down to sketch out my plan for the year. Some of that I’ve put here in my last post, some is still hanging out as an outline in my bullet journal, and some remains to be uncovered in the book I’m currently reading, The New Rules of Marketing and PR (more on this, just scroll down a bit.)

One thing that has changed from previous years is that this time, I’ve set up a system of tracking what I am doing which will enable me to identify areas of effort that are performing, underperforming, or actually quite lucrative. My brain does well with systems that allow me to fill in numbers and see, in a tangible way, what I am doing.

Also, I spent some time, money, and effort in previous years on things that did not really do anything except waste all three.

The first thing to do, though, is get some words down. I’m putting off a few submission goals until I complete the two series I’ve got going on now. The intended result is to improve my craft, and build an audience through giving readers a full series instead of just a one-off. (It will also, with luck, demonstrate to any future agents I query that I have the ability to stick with writing a series, which is pretty important in the genre work I prefer.)

I will talk about my Patreon page, which falls in here somewhere and is intended to create a community of storytellers through coaching, but I’ll hit that at length at a later time. Although you can definitely check it out if you’ve been thinking about wanting to write your own stuff. I won’t stop you. 😉

The next thing is to build social media through connections and interactions. I’m under no illusions that I will sell books through Twitter, but again, it’s a way to demonstrate to readers and potential agents/publishers that I am more established and serious about what I’m doing. Connections and interactions are another reason that I’m applying to various conventions and conferences as a panelist and workshop leader. My theory is, if people want to read books or hire someone as a coach, they are more likely to do so if they’ve met that person in real life, and are able to then connect with them (me) online. So I have some shiny new bookmark/business cards, and a couple of dates in 2018.

The last thing, and this is courtesy of The New Rules book referenced above, is taking a look at how I can use content to gain a wider audience. (I realize I’m burying the lede here, but bear with me.) I’m about halfway through the book, but what grabs me as Mr. Scott’s central concept, is the idea that we’ve gone beyond marketing and public relations to a new concept of communicating and interacting on an authentic basis. The book delves into tactical-level concepts and courses of action, but the overall idea is that an author, or an organization, or a corporation, etc., must find a way to engage an audience of both potential buyers and non-potential buyers. (I know, what? I gotta talk with people who have no intention of buying my book?) This communication then shapes the general perception of that organization.

While much of what I write is available on places like Amazon or my publisher’s Web site, or at my Patreon, I wanted to find a way to continue to share content that would be the basis of interaction. And I specifically wanted that content to come from articles and interviews with a wide variety of interesting people doing interesting things. While some of them may be authors, or poets, or journalists, I also wanted to interview nurses, and scientists, and crafters, etc.

When I first started this Web site, I had a page called “Characters and Conversations.” I still entitle my interviews “A Conversation with …” My goal is that in inviting people to come on here and talk about who they are and what they do, these articles will spur more conversation and invite more people to join us.

If you are an author, or someone who works in any sort of capacity with trying to generate interest in, publicity for, or interaction with any sort of organization (or your sole proprietorship), I can’t recommend this book enough. It comes with a lot of great suggestions and stories, as well as a full online presence, and a blog.

I also suggest checking out the Twitter hashtag #bookmarketingchat as well as The Author Biz Podcast. Find what works for you, even if you have to do a little experimenting to figure that out. (Don’t forget to track your data and set your benchmarks!) And if you figure out the magic overnight secret to amazing online book success, feel free to share in the comments. 😉

Happy Writing!


Meet the New Year…

…with any luck, it won’t be the same as the old year.

To be fair, while 2017 was challenging at times, there were still some really great parts of it. For one, we welcomed our newest addition to the family, baby Jennifer. I got to spend time with friends and family, traveling to both the Pennsic War for the first time in almost twenty years, and heading down to Dragon*Con on our annual pilgrimage. I marched in my first protest, and then my second. My romance writing got picked up by Boroughs Publishing, and I made the decision to rebrand and relaunch the Rick Keller series. Also, I won NaNoWriMo for the first time in a really long time.

2017 was also a time of learning. I took a hard look at what I wanted to do as a writer and writing coach. In a manner that was half-experiment and half-throwing pasta at the wall to see if it’s done, I tried a bunch of different things, from a SkillShare account (too much noise to signal ratio), to sitting my butt down and putting words on paper (very effective!), to starting a bullet journal (so far, pretty helpful.)

So, coming up to 2018, I’ve got a few, focused goals and actions.

  1. Finish the Wilmington romance series for Boroughs Publishing. Grow my audience through social media and blogging.
  2. Finish and relaunch the Rick Keller Project for Untold Press.
  3. Finish more than just the first book of the Blues series and write my submission plan.
  4. Expand/promote my Patreon page to not only attract followers, but build a community of storytellers.

I’m also going to pursue attending conventions and workshops as a presenter/panelist. So far in 2018, you’ll find me at Arisia in Boston, where I’ll be leading three panels, two workshops, and sitting on a few more. Then, in March, I’ll be at the Liberty State Fiction Writers Conference, where I’ll be leading a workshop on writing military heroes.

If you’re going to be at one of these locations, drop me a line! Let me know if you’ll be stopping by. If you’ve decided that 2018 is the year you finally sit down to write that story/novel/memoir, get in touch, or stop by Patreon, and let’s make a plan.

2018 is going to be great. Let’s do this!


A Conversation with Conrad Glover…

Conrad Glover, filmmaker.

Welcome back to filmmaker Conrad Glover, currently on set in Las Vegas filming his series “Shades of Sapphire.” I’ve been following Conrad’s work in film ever since he hired me to do some set photography for a horror feature he was directing. (2005’s Woods of Evil.) Since then, he’s been doing ever bigger and better things with his production company, JOCO Films. He’s in the middle of production and all the craziness that entails, but he stopped by to answer a few questions and give us some quick peeks into the world of Sapphire.

“Shades of Sapphire.” The Series. Sapphire, Arlo and Mack discuss their plan of action on the rooftop of the club. Photo by Danwen Li.

Q (Infamous Scribbler): What is your current project?

A (Conrad Glover): Sapphire St. Clair, known as Queen St. Clair, has a heart of gold, but is the most feared woman in Las Vegas underworld. This is her story. She is the great granddaughter to Stephanie St. Clair, who was the right hand man to Bumpy Johnson, Harlem’s notorious gangster and crime boss. This is how Sapphire learned the street game that was passed down to her as a small child.

Once released from Danbury federal prison after doing a 10 year stretch, Sapphire St. Clair moved to Las Vegas to start her own criminal enterprise. As Sapphire’s success grew in her many businesses, this brought on unscrupulous attention from dirty law enforcement who tried to stop her, all for a piece of the wealth that they knew Sapphire obtained from her illegal dealings.

“Shades of Sapphire” is a crime action/drama that is full of plot twists and turns. Las Vegas will serve as the backdrop of this web series. The show will be shot at a high production value. The WIRE meets POWER type of story, but with more action!  

Q: There are tons of filmmakers out there, trying to bring their project to life. How did you get yours off the ground?

A: I was able to get this project off the ground after talking with my distributor Doug Schwab, CEO of Maverick Entertainment. We have had a long working relationship for over a 10-year span. We talked about “Shades of Sapphire,” he liked the concept, so he decided he wanted to come on as the Executive Producer on the project.

“Shades of Sapphire” The Series. Sapphire handles Ms. Bowdon for wearing a wire on her. Photo by Danwen Li.

Q: What are some of the challenges you have faced doing the project? How did you overcome them?

A: The biggest challenge with this project I would have to say is scheduling the day-to-day shoot. Shooting a series is much harder than doing a feature film, because you’re casting more actors, and you’re constantly on the hunt for new locations for each new episode. It can be very stressful at times. 

Q: You are working in a bit of a stylized genre. What do you do to keep the project aligned with your vision? 

A:  This project is more of drama/action. I think what’s different about this project is that the female lead is black for one.  Second she’s running a crime organization in the heart of Las Vegas. Plus no one is squeaky clean in this series. We have all types from the Russian mob, Italian mob, street thugs to the Mexican cartel, etc. 

“Shades of Sapphire.” The Series. Venus takes out a trick for Sapphire’s Organization. Photo by Danwen Li.

Q: What are some aspects of working with actors that you find integral to the process?

A: I love working with actors. Acting is where I started in this business. I love being able to speak the language of an actor, knowing what strings to pull to get the performance I want from them.  (IS Note: For more of Conrad’s insight into the craft of acting and film, check out my 2013 interview with him on filmmaking and the work he was putting in to his career.)

“Shades of Sapphire.” The Series. Sapphire sits with her psychiatrist Dr. Brown to deal with her many problems. Photo by Danwen Li.

Q: What is the next step in finishing the project? What comes after that?

A: Post- production, which usually takes two months if everything goes as planned. Once that’s done, the project is sent to the distributor to be cleared. Then it’s just a waiting game on a release date. In the meantime, it’s back to writing and preparing for the next project. 

Q: Anything to add?

A: Anyone thinking about becoming a filmmaker? Learn to write, write, write, I can’t stress this enough. Everything starts with a good script. Also learn to write stories with a budget you can put your hands on to make your movie. I’ll close this out by saying…. Always follow your dreams, never give up.

Conrad Glover, filmmaker.

Excuse Our Dust!

It’s the sign that retailers put out when they’re going through renovations, but still want to stay open for business. And now, as I find myself in the thick of NaNoWriMo, I am also going to be slowly renovating this Web site to reflect some new directions, new writings, and a new focus on coaching the writing process.

Part of this renovating process includes doing more “Characters and Conversations” interviews. If you check out the “Conversations” category tag, you will find a series of blogs spanning a few years at this point. The posts are conversations that I have had with authors, entrepreneurs, artists, Army commanders, homesteader/preppers, teachers, journalists, filmmakers, and a whole host of other folks who have shared cool information about themselves and their lives.

During the past year or so, I’ve mostly been focusing on author interviews, which are totally fun and enable me to spread the word about upcoming releases. On the other hand, my original intention was to first, keep a hand in my old journalism training by interviewing people outside the realm of my experience. Additionally, I find that learning about real-life characters not only helps to inform my writing, but might inspire others who are also working on their own writing projects.

So, stay tuned. Check back in. Check out some Conversations. Maybe shoot me a suggestion for someone cool to interview (even if it’s yourself. Don’t be shy.)

And now, back to my regularly scheduled NaNo writing panic. Peace!

Introducing: Scribbler Coach

Good morning! I hope that your week is short and started with a bang–at least for all the folks on this side of the pond, and squished between Canada and Mexico. Which has got to be the most awkward way of saying, “Happy Fourth of July, my fellow Americans.” But hey, that’s what edits are for!

Speaking of edits, I am posting to introduce a new service on this site. Scribbler Coach, an on-site offshoot of The Infamous Scribbler, will offer a full suite of coaching, writing, and editing services. Whether you are trying to figure out how to start, or you’ve gotten halfway and gotten lost, or if you are done and are trying to figure out what to do next, I can help you.

How did this come to be? I started receiving requests from authors and aspiring authors, with whom I worked in various writers’ groups, for extra help on the side. Some of these authors needed a beta reader, others needed help putting their thoughts together for an outline, and some just needed the motivation that a deadline and a willing ear could give them.

Also, as I started introducing myself as an author (a helpful tip if you’d like to let people know about your work), I started getting variations on the response: “Oh hey, I have this great idea for a book, I just …. don’t have the time/don’t know where to start/am not sure if it would be viable/would like someone else to write it for me, how about you?”

And I thought to myself, you know, I can help people with all of those issues–except the last one. If you need a ghost writer, I’d advise advertising on Upwork, because I do not have the time to write anyone’s novels except my own. And even that is tricky.

If you take a look at the Scribbler Coach page, you will find the services broken down with descriptions of and rates for what I am offering, as well as some testimonials from people I’ve worked with in the past. I’ve got a some discounts for students and military/veterans, and as a biz launch incentive, I’m offering every fifth coaching session free. If you like what you see–drop me a line at

Happy Writing!

A Conversation with Dan Jolley…

Welcome back!

Today, the guest here at Infamous Scribbler is artist, author, and game creator Dan Jolley. His latest novel, Gray Widow’s Walk, is the story of an angry young woman, Janey Sinclair, and the powers she must learn to control, before they end up consuming her. Today, Dan discusses being a multimedia creator, good and bad writing advice, and of course, gives us a peak into the world of his new creation.

Gray Widow_s WalkCover1200X900

Q (Infamous Scribbler): I noticed in your bio that you are from Georgia. How has your natal geography influenced your writing?

A (Dan Jolley): I don’t know that it’s been a huge influence on my actual prose or scripts, but I definitely do like to set stories in Georgia when I can. When I first came up with the idea that would eventually become Gray Widow’s Walk, many years ago, stories set in Atlanta were relatively rare. Now, what with The Walking Dead and various other media projects setting up shop there, it’s a lot more commonplace. One thing I did have a little fun with, though, was in my comic book series Bloodhound, when I set the fictional Red Clay Federal Penitentiary in my hometown of Ringgold, Georgia. I had a few hometown folks approach me and say, “Of all the things you could’ve put here, it had to be a prison?”

Q: In your new book, Gray Widow’s Walk, your protagonist is an angry young woman. What were some of the decisions you made and challenges you faced when writing Janey?

A: Yeah, Janey Sinclair’s life has been a series of cruel, unfair tragedies. Her mother died of cancer when Janey was nine, her father was shot right in front of her (Janey herself was shot in the same encounter and almost died) when she was sixteen, and she lost her husband in a horrible way when she was twenty-five. She’s got some seriously pent-up emotions. Most people deal with that kind of trauma in one of three ways: they handle it in a healthy fashion, usually by going to therapy; or they disappear into drugs and alcohol; or they let it consume them completely and self-destruct. Janey has the opportunity to exercise a fourth option, because—in a way she still doesn’t understand—she’s developed the ability to teleport from one patch of darkness to another. So she’s got an outlet that no one else has, and decides to try to prevent other people from going through the kind of trauma that she has.

There are definitely some superhero tropes in the book, though it also has elements of science-fiction and horror, and one of the decisions I made early on was not to make Janey too powerful. Teleportation is already an incredibly potent ability, so I wanted be certain that she had reasonable vulnerabilities, and not ones like “the color yellow,” or “alien space rocks.” That’s why she stole a suit of military body armor before she started prowling the streets. Janey’s a little stronger than most people, but she can be hurt by things like bullets and blades and poison gas just like anyone else.

As far as challenges, definitely the biggest one was writing a convincing female protagonist, since I am terminally male myself. But I’ve had some practice with that, in the form of three original YA novels I wrote back in 2007 and 2008, a trilogy called Alex Unlimited. The protagonist of those books is an 18-year-old girl named Alexandra Benno. When I first pitched that property, the protagonist was a boy, and the publisher said, “We really like this, and want to pursue it, but would you mind changing the main character to a girl?” I wasn’t sure how that would turn out, but I agreed, and to my own surprise, it worked out beautifully. (Apparently my inner child is a teenage girl.)

Plus, for Gray Widow’s Walk, I was diligent in getting as many female beta readers as I could. The last thing I want to do is make some boneheaded mistake thanks to being entrenched in a male perspective.

Q: Your work spans a variety of media, including video games, comics, and of course, novels. Is it a challenge to work in different formats? How do they affect your writing process? Did they bring anything new to the Gray Widow’s Walk series, and if so, what?

A: There’s definitely some mental gear-shifting when I go from one medium to another, but I’ve worked out a few different methods to make that easier. I got my start writing comic books, many moons ago, and over the years, largely through trial and error, I’ve gotten it down to a sloppy sort of science. I actually have a series of blog posts on my website,, called “How To Write the Way I Write,” that explains all the nuts and bolts of comic book scriptwriting.


Learning to write comic scripts first was a big help. I sometimes say it’s like learning to drive on a three-speed, stick-shift, two-ton flatbed truck. If you can drive that behemoth, you can drive anything. Comic book scripts, even though there’s no set format for them the way there is for a screenplay, are incredibly rigid in their parameters; your page count is set, your panel count per page has to be tightly controlled, your word count per panel also has to be tightly controlled, you have to take into account the page turn, which means all your big moments and surprises should really be at the beginning of even-numbered pages, etc. Writing in other media doesn’t seem so difficult once you’ve mastered all that.

One of the biggest successes I’ve had with techniques for writing prose might not work for everyone, but for me, using a walking desk is the way to go. I set up a shelving unit over my treadmill, got my wireless keyboard and laptop in the right positions, and now whenever I write prose I plod along at two miles an hour, typing as I walk. It gets the blood flowing through my brain just right.

And probably the biggest benefit of working in deadline-based creative jobs for as long as I have is that I’ve gotten really, really fast. Once I have a solid outline in place, knocking out a chapter a day is pretty standard. You can expect the next two books in the Gray Widow trilogy to come out on schedule.

Q: Without giving away too much, what plans do you have for Janey and the crew?

A: Well, the biggest question Janey has in the first book is where the hell her teleportational ability came from, and in the second book she’ll probably regret not being more careful what she wished for. Also, that same source is what “augmented” Gray Widow’s Walk’s principal antagonist, the twisted, grotesque, bloodthirsty shapeshifter named Simon Grove. Janey will definitely encounter more people who’ve been affected, not quite in that exact way, but in similar fashions. Plus, there’s the question of where Janey and Tim Kapoor are headed, as they try to figure out exactly what their relationship is, and how Janey’s past will influence it.

Basically, life doesn’t get any easier for anyone.

Q: What is the best and worst writing advice you’ve ever been given?

A: The best advice is this: Finish what you’re writing before you start editing. Just plow through that first draft. Don’t go back and try to get the first page, or the first paragraph, or the first line exactly right until you’re done with the whole thing, because if you do, you run the risk of getting hung up in the editing and never completing the story. Now, what this means is that your first draft will probably be really shitty. That’s okay! First drafts are supposed to be shitty. My first drafts are the ripest heaps of camel dung. But once you have a first draft, you can go back and fix it. You can’t fix what isn’t there. (I’ve heard it described as shoveling sand into the sandbox. You’ll have time to sculpt your castle once the box is full.)

I don’t know that I’ve ever been given any really, truly bad writing advice, but I have been given some really, truly bad feedback from an editor. At one point, I was writing a monthly comic book series, and after I turned in a script, the editor called me and said, “I don’t think you’re firing on all pistons, Dan.”

I sort of sputtered, and said, “Okay, but, uh…what did you not like? What do you want me to change?”

He sighed and said, “I just don’t feel like you’re bringing your A game.”

Talk about useless. He refused to give me any specific feedback, so I had to flounder around in the dark, and ended up doing five or six drafts of the script until he finally decided I had delivered what he was looking for. To any editors out there reading this? I know you’re overworked. I know your job is massively hard. But please, don’t do that. Don’t be that guy.

Q: Anything to add?

A: I’ll be a guest all four days of DragonCon this year, set up in Artists’ Alley, and I’ll be part of the Seventh Star Press crowd at Imaginarium in October. Come say hi! (IS Note: We’ll definitely stop by! I need a signed copy…)

Also, please give me a shout on Twitter (@_DanJolley) or Facebook ( Or both! I’m there more often than I probably should be. (IS Note: So say we all…)



There you have it, folks. Stop by, pick up a copy, come to DragonCon, get it signed, and say hi! Until then, happy reading.

#WriteFridays Number … Something … Writing Exercise

It’s been a while since I posted a writing exercise or prompt, but I’m feeling inspired. I sat down with one of the ladies from my writing group, who mentioned that she was having a hard time coming up with a certain part of the plot of a short piece she was working on. She just couldn’t think of what to have the character do, or what part of the plot to develop. I looked around and found a few exercises that might help, but this lady in particular had responded well to a timed exercise previously, so I wanted to add in a personal touch.

So, here is a writing exercise if you are trying to sketch your way through some writers’ block. It may also be a good technique if you are doing some pre-writing and outlining. Hope it helps!

WriteFriday Exercise: Character vs Plot

Character/Plot Exercise

Instructions: Print out or fill in on the document. Before you start, read through the questions to start them percolating. When you have reflected on the character and the questions, start a timer. Give yourself 15 minutes per section for 1-3 with a 1-2 minute rest in between (shorter or longer if necessary.) Once you are done, sketch down a few notes for Section 4. If you start to feel inspired, get back to your story!

Section 1: What is the BEST thing that could happen to your character…

This year?

This month?

This week?


Right now?


Section 2: What is the WORST thing that could happen to your character…

This year?

This month?

This week?


Right now?


Section 3:

What does your character fear most?

Who/what does your character love most?

What does your character hope for?

What does your character need RIGHT NOW?

Section 4:

Take a look at the section you are stuck on. Which of the above make the most sense to use in order to heighten a sense of conflict and let the reader know WHAT’S AT STAKE? Push the intensity as far as you can. And—go!

A Conversation with A.L. Butcher…

Good morning, Happy Monday, and welcome to A.L. Butcher, the British author of the Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles fantasy series, and featured author of the week at the Goodreads Paranormal group. I invited Ms. Butcher here to talk a little bit out her work, her writing, and a few other topics as well. Without any further ado, let’s get started –and don’t forget to click through a few links and check out her stuff!

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Q (Infamous Scribbler): Tell me a little bit about yourself and your writing — something that I won’t read in your biography.

A (A.L. Butcher, Fantasy Author): A bit about me – when I was a kid I was obsessed with squirrels, LOVED THEM!!!!! I wanted to be a squirrel… When we bought our first house last year what sold it to me for certain – squirrels in the garden. So now I suppose I’m an honorary squirrel. Oh and I’m coulrophobic.

A bit about my writing – I have a whole folder full of Phantom of the Opera fanfic.

Q: Who was your most challenging character to write — why? How did you overcome the challenge?

A: All the characters have different quirks and different challenges to maintain. Novel-wise I’d say it was Dii (Dii’Athella) the elven sorceress. When we meet her she starts off as an escaped slave in a world where her very existence is illegal. She has seen very little of the world and knows even less about her own origins. As the books progress she becomes stronger, braver, more resourceful and who she truly is, not who she believed she was. It’s hard keeping her as the sweet, kind soul after her terrible treatment but she needs to remain true to herself, her real self. It’s an ongoing challenge.

Short story-wise I’d say it was Ilsa or Rufus from Of Blood and Scales, which is featured in Heroika: Dragon Eaters. Ilsa is a Bloodsister – think nuns who use blood magic to fuel their spells and worship an old deity. Her abilities meanshe sees the world differently to other people, seeing what is REALLY there, reading emotions people don’t even think show and generally being pretty suspicious. She needed to be more mysterious, ‘other’, than the non-magical characters, who all have their own skillset.

Rufus Redblade was an embittered mercenary trying to support a regime that’s failing. He’s not a bad person, but he knows he needs to do what he must to succeed and prevent civil war.

Heroika 1 Perfect promo 6&9Q: What is the most valuable piece of writing advice you’ve received? How has it helped you in your work?

A: Write what you want to write and what you want to read. My work is not mainstream. It’s been described as ‘sex and sorcery’, that is sword and sorcery with a goodly helping of bedroom fun. That said it’s fairly dark. But I like fantasy with a hint of erotica, a hint of romance, a lot of heroes and morality, and I use morality as a relative term here. I read gothic horror, sci-fi, fantasy, crime fiction, history and lots more. I like the mythic aspect of fantasy and the world building. I’m a fan of Tolkien, Janet Morris and Terry Pratchett with their supreme world building and mythos, their complexity and the feeling that these adventures take place somewhere which is both real and unreal. An alternate Earth, if you like.

The companion series to my novels are tales of lore, legend and myth from the world. I read ancient tales of the Greek and Roman heroes and gods and I think a lot of that gets reflected in my work.

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Q: What was the most surprising thing you’ve discovered in your writing?

A: Friendship. I am a bit of a recluse really but since I’ve been writing I’ve made some really good friends, including my best friend. We talk daily even though we live thousands of miles apart.

Q: Scene: A big Hollywood producer calls, wanting to put your books on the big screen. Who is your dream cast?

A: Archos – Ian Mckellen

Olek – Chris Pratt or Chris Hemsworth or Luke Evans

Dii – Evangeline Lilly

Ozena – Emma Watson

(IS Note: I’d watch that! :D)

Q: What would you like people to know about your writing, process, or characters, that they may not know?

A: Writing is a stress release for me. I suffer with depression and writing helps. Often it’s poetry – which I doubt anyone else will see.

Thank you very much, Ms. Butcher, for stopping by! If you enjoyed this conversation, check out her presence on Twitter, Goodreads, Facebook, or her blog.

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A.L. Butcher Bio: A. L. Butcher is the British author of the Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles fantasy series, and several short stories in the fantasy and fantasy romance genres.  She is an avid reader and creator of worlds, a poet and a dreamer. When she is grounded in the real world she likes science, natural history, history and monkeys. Her work has been described as ‘dark and gritty’ and her poetry as evocative.

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