Category Archives: On Being a Writer

How to Succeed as a Writer (or Anything Else)

“The failure to comprehend a problem is sometimes the best way to transcend it.”

—C. A. Newsome, June 2015

I spent some time talking to a literary genius recently. Someone who can write rings around me while juggling Mom’s china. I’ve known this person all my life, and he could do this before he went to two prestigious schools to obtain degrees in English lit. He’s devoted his life to books. Yet, as far as I know, he has never published anything except some brilliant reviews he wrote for  his college newspaper. I expect the world will discover thousands of pages of priceless prose after his death. I am hoping he will leave them to me in his will.

“The problem is, you either have to have a one-in-a-million lucky stroke, or you have to spend years rigorously refining your writing until you’ve perfected your pandering.”

—literary genius on achieving success as an author

My literary genius is paralyzed by too much knowledge: too many stories about iconic books that were rejected dozens or even hundreds of times before they were printed, passed over again and again while the best seller lists teemed with barely-literate fluff; the DNA-deep understanding that it takes ten years or more of banging your head against the door before someone will let you in, and once they do, they will take the child of your heart and do with it what they will while tying you up with a contract that says they own you.

You would think the explosion in self publishing would have oppressed literary types like my genius at the forefront. Instead, they are suffering their own form of Stockholm syndrome, still seeking approval from the brutal and draconian system that rejected them all their lives.

There are many stories of first time hacks (like me) who said, “Writing a book would be fun. I can publish it myself? Cool!” who blundered into self-publishing and quickly turned it into a full-time business. My favorite example, Colleen Hoover, became a millionaire and hit the NYT bestseller list in six months.

Random House takes 18 months to turn a manuscript into a book. It took me five months to earn enough from my first book to quit my job. That’s why I penned the pithy and profound saying above. All us newcomers did not know that publishing was supposed to be a path to failure and humiliation. We didn’t see what the problem was, and for us, there wasn’t one.

So, take everything you’ve ever heard about succeeding at anything and scrap it. Here’s my philosophy:

Not everybody is going to like what you do. Some people will. Some people won’t. Your job is to be yourself, the best ‘you’ you can be, and create the most authentic, book, painting, or widget you can. Then go find those people who do like and want what you do.

That’s it. Seriously.

It’s not complicated, but It takes work, flexibility, and the willingness to get up off your ass when life knocks you down. You’ve got to get rid of your preconceived ideas of what help, opportunity and success look like. You need to be determined to learn what you need to know and able to look at your stuff with an unbiased, critical eye. You must do all this with a smile on your face and a song in your heart.

Or you can hang out in obscure little coffee houses, waiting for the Book Fairy to sprinkle stardust on you.

The Plot Thickens . . .


I did a signing Thursday at Westwood Library, which is featured in Sneak Thief. Cover-beagle Julia’s pawtographs were a big hit. I had to go sit next to her just to get my picture taken. You can see her to the left, mugging for the pup-erazzi. You’d never know it was her debut, she was such a diva.

JuliatheDivaMe, I had to spend 30 minutes talking about myself without looking like an egomaniac. I had to answer questions. Sound like I know what I’m doing.

Claudia, who is currently co-writing her first novel, asked me what the hardest thing was about writing. I said, “Plotting. Knowing what happens next.” I gave a little advice, signed some books, and went out for fish and shrimp tacos, satisfied with a job well done.

I woke up in the middle of the night with one thought in my head: “I left stuff out of my answer to Claudia.” I know Claudia’s book will be great without my help, but I feel compelled to flesh out my advice anyway.

This advice is not for outliners. Outliners are an alien life form, and nothing I say has any relevance for them, just like oxygen has no relevance to the natives of the methane planet Golgaranth. I’m what you call a semi-pantser. I start with a few key concepts and toss them like salad to see what happens. I have a couple of scenes that I know will take place. I keep a vague idea of the next few chapters and the end game in mind, then I dive in.

I discover the story through writing it.

It Starts With Concept:

Write the Book You Want to Read Think of all the books you love, then think of everything that’s wrong with each one of them. If you’re a true writer you love books, but always leave them with a “yeah, but . . .” or “If I wrote that I would’ve . . .” (Except Harper Lee. There is nothing you can do to improve To Kill A Mockingbird. The book lives to taunt the rest of us.) Take all your “would’ves” and “yeah buts” and “I wish someone woulds” and toss them together. What do you come up with?

Trash Your First Idea  It’s almost always the most obvious one. If you thought of it so easily, then so did your readers. So twist it, make it do back flips, turn it inside out. Know your genre well enough that you can make your reader think you are being obvious, and use that to lead them merrily down a garden path. Deliver the goods when they are most complacent.

Do What Doesn’t Bore You If you’re not having fun, it’s likely that your readers won’t, either. Have a love/hate relationship with Mr. Darcy? Spice it up. Toss in zombies. Yes, That’s a real thing. Look it up. While you’re at it, look up Dinosaur Porn. One caveat: while having fun is essential, never do so in a way that demeans your readers.

When You Don’t Know What Happens Next:

Take Role Call  Check in with all of your characters. What do they know and how are they reacting to events and revelations? Usually this is enough to shake things loose. Great books are character driven. While we want events to surprise our readers, they must make sense in relation to our characters.

Just Start Writing  Some of us channel our stories more than invent them. The right brain (where all your great ideas hide) doesn’t communicate directly with the left brain, but it sometimes comes out of your fingers as you are typing. Start with what you know and keep going. See what happens. I discover some of my best plot twists this way.

Amp It Up If the logical course of events is falling flat for you, consider exaggerating the situation to make it funnier, scarier, sexier. A monkey scratching his butt at the local convenience store is enough to make you laugh IRL, but on paper it’s pretty ho-hum. What if it’s eight monkeys loose in a bridal shop? Take your experiences and juice them till they grab you.

Don’t Know What Happens Next? Write What You DO Know  Skip ahead to that scene that you haven’t written because the story isn’t there yet. The one that’s half-fleshed out and teasing you with ideas. Go ahead. Just keep moving. You can always come back later.

If You Don’t Know How to Write it, Write it However You Can  You know what happens, but you can’t get a handle on how to write it. Just get it down any way you can, and move on. This is where you give yourself permission to write badly. Let it go. The back of your brain will work on the issue with out you banging your head against the wall. Inspiration will occur when you least expect it and you can rewrite it.

Take A Break  This one is dangerous, but sometimes necessary. I find that ideas flow more readily the more I write, and other authors I know feel the same way. Stopping when you are frustrated can lead to procrastination. So, take a break, but Make Sure You Come Back.

Must You Torture Your Characters? That’s the current advice. Torture them, then torture them more. Never give them a break. “Readers LOVE it.” This one doesn’t.

It might work for one novel, but today the market is in series and character identification. If you never give your characters a break, if they never have any fun times, then what’s the point?

I gave up one best-selling author last year. Every time his MC talked to someone, they died. After the fifth body, I was done. I gave up another the year before. In twenty books, you never saw her MC having a pleasant, loving, fun time with those closest to her. Instead, she opens book 21 with a rant about her main supporting character. Really? In twenty years, you haven’t figured out how to get along with this guy? You keep him around and bitch about him? Shoot me, NOW. Halfway through the second page, I was out of there.

If All Else Fails:

Ask Your Sister Or someone you love and trust like a sister. Bounce your ideas off someone who’s smart. They don’t have to be a writer. They just have to enjoy a good story.

New Covers!


With the release of my fourth Dog Park Mystery, It has been past time to ramp up my game. I hired the inimitable and incomparable Elizabeth Mackey to take my portrait of Julia to the next level and redo my covers to create a series brand for me.


I’m a painter. I’m not a designer. I am especially not a book cover designer, a discipline which involves much more than arranging text and images.

I love how she’s taken my paintings and added a fun, sassy edge.

She has also updated my audiobook covers:



And then there’s the new logo for my imprint, Two Pup Press:


How many ways are there to say, “I LOVE it!”?

Advice to a New Writer from a Slightly Less New Author

Today John (AKA Terry in my books) grabbed me when I entered the dog park and dragged me over to the water-pump where an attractive young lady not quite old enough to be my daughter stood.

“This is (insert name) she wants to publish. You two should talk.”

“Oh? What do you write?” I ask.

Whereupon this very nice young lady whose name I can’t remember (though her dog is Stella) tells me she’d like to write Dystopian Sci-Fi but doesn’t have a concept yet. “I’m at the word-vomit stage,” she confesses.

At this point she had to leave, so we could not continue talking. Meanwhile my brain started churning with all my thoughts about being a good writer and I had no one to pontificate to. Which is why I’m writing this post.

I’ve only been writing since 2010, self-published in 2011. I have watched dozens of others who started this enterprise the same time I did. Some have always wanted to write and even had old manuscripts they could drag out of their trunks. Some, like me, said “Hey, I’d like to write a book,” and went for it. Among my friends are writing newbies who are now making six figure incomes.

My income? Like I’d tell you. I will say sitting around in your sweats with a dog under your desk is a fine way to pay the rent.

I’m not all about money. Money equals sales, which equals readers, which is what we all want.

So here is my list of tips for anyone who wishes to succeed as a writer.

1. Write every day. Set an easily achievable goal and do it. You really do have time. Most people can knock out 500 words in the time they waste watching a Star Trek rerun. You don’t wait to exercise until you are inspired, you don’t go to work only when you’re in the mood. Treat your writing the same way you treat every other important thing in your life.

2. Create a structure for your writing habit. If you consistently write in the same place at the same time of day, your brain will be ready to write when you sit down at your desk. Just like my dogs are ready for their afternoon walk at the same time every day and will disrupt whatever I’m doing to make sure it happens.

Make sure the environment is pleasing to you and conducive to your productivity, and stay consistent. write with the same pen in the same chair or on the same computer and get ready with coffee in the same funky souvenir cup on the same coaster. Use the same word processing software.

These little details become signals that ready your writing neurons and get you salivating. It’s like AA in reverse. They tell you to get rid of that cool leather jacket you always wore bar-hopping and not to drive past your favorite bar on the way to church, even if it is shorter, for the same reason. We are all Pavlov’s dogs. Use it to your advantage.

3. If you don’t have a book going yet, start a blog. Blogs are great for getting your writing juices going and will provide an outlet for your word-vomit stage. There’s a side benefit. If you wind up with a big blog following, you will have a pre-made audience for your book when it comes out. Nick Russell’s Gypsy Journal RVing blog readers put his first novel, Big Lake, on the NYT best seller list.

4. Pick a genre and concept and stick to it. In my writer’s group (80 + self-published authors), some folks wrote series and some folks wrote multiple books in multiple genres. The books that took off were all in a series. NONE of the stand-alone books has achieved any traction. Even successful writers lose traction when they take time out to write in another genre. Granted, it’s not all about the money. Remember, money equals readerage, and that’s a good thing.

5. Yes, you need to have an original hook. It’s not as hard as it sounds.

Pick your favorite genre, the one type of fiction that you’ll read and be entertained, even when the books are mediocre.

If you are truly ready to be an author, you will be vaguely unsatisfied with much of what you read. Some writing will be too violent, some not racy enough, and some will lack description or likeable characters. You’ll follow plots and think, “If I were writing this, I would (fill in the blank).” Your niggling complaints reveal what you want out of a book. Use that.

Next look around you. Places you’ve lived, careers you’ve had, disciplines you’ve studied. How can you add your experiences to your concept?

Write what you know. Veracity of detail makes for better books, and lack of knowledge will make you look like a buffoon. I recently read a romantic thriller by a best-selling author where the final confrontation took place in a natural ravine in Chicago. You ever been to Chicago? There’s not a natural ravine within fifty miles of the city. There were other details that made no sense in the context of the story and its location. I can only surmise that the author farmed out this book to a ghostwriter who didn’t bother with research.

Toss all the things you know and love into the blender and see what you come up with. Somebody had to invent Jane Austen with Zombies. Please yourself, and there are sure to be others who appreciate what you do. Try to play to the market, and chances are you will please nobody and be miserable doing it.

6.  Respect structure. Don’t sneer at the basics. You want to be different? Great. The roof still goes on top of the house. You will never see a building with a roof in the basement.

You can go crazy reading all the how to books out there, but winging it without any knowledge will likely end up in an overblown mess. My favorite books are:  Write your Novel From the Middle by James Scott Bell, Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King and Hit Lit by James W. Hall. I also like Fiction Writing for Dummies by Peter Economy and Randy Ingermanson.

7.  If you don’t have a good grasp of grammar and spelling, find a retired English teacher to proof-read for you. Spell-check alone is not enough. Nora Roberts may get away with a dozen spell check errors in one of her books. You will not.

8. Know your process. Some folks are avid out-liners and never write the first word until they’ve decided what happens in every chapter and where the postman’s nephew was born. Others are (seat of the) pantsers and begin their book with nothing more than a basic premise.

I’m in the middle-ish. I have my cast of characters and a few ingredients I’m going to throw in the pot, Like a kleptomaniac Beagle or a neighborhood Fourth of July parade. I know who’s going to die and I know Lia and Peter are going to catch a killer in the end. I know where they’re going to find the body. Beyond that, I honestly can’t figure out what happens next until I write it.

Figure out what works for you and don’t make yourself miserable trying to do the other way.

9.  Understand your characters. Nothing turns readers off like characters who don’t act in line with their motivations.  It’s the first thing beta readers will point out to me. Even if your story is a plot driven thriller, your characters still have to make sense.

A writer I know once wrote a billionaire going incognito to a ball game, driving a twenty year old station wagon and dressed in farm clothes. Then a vendor in the stands treats him rudely and said billionaire snarls, “Look at me, boy, Don’t you know WHO I AM?” Huh?

Someone recently told me about a book that got hundreds of bad reviews based on characters that acted inappropriately, starting with the romantic hero lusting after the hot babe he just met, with his best friend’s newly (and violently) deceased body lying nearby. Um, yeah, I’d sure be thinking about sex at a time like that.

You’re not four years old, and while Barbie might be a paleontologist one day and Supergirl the next, your characters may not.

The benefit of knowing your characters is that they can then tell you what happens next. When my mind goes blank, all I have to do is consider how each of my characters is reacting to what’s happening, based on who they are.

10. Have fun. I shouldn’t have to explain this, but the more fun you have writing, the more fun your readers are likely to have reading what you write.




The Bible Meets Science in Messiah’s Star



Last winter, Marti Dourson (a dog park friend) said, “Mike is writing this paper about the Star of Bethlehem and he wants to get it published. I keep telling him he should talk to you because that’s what you do.”

“Sure, have him call me when he’s ready,” I say. I always say this.

Early in March, they sent me a copy of Messiah’s Star.

Marti’s husband, Mike Dourson, is a well-respected toxicologist. He’s president of TERA (Toxicology Excellence for Risk Assessment) and spends much of his time traveling all over the world to consult. He’s such a busy guy, that I only knew him to wave at, even though I’ve lived two doors down for a quarter of a century.

Mike has been teaching a class at his church called “Evidence for Faith,” which has evolved into a passion for integrating scientific knowledge with Biblical text. He explained to me that he takes his core premise from Saint Augustine:  the Bible and the world align, and if interpreted correctly, say the same things.

Messiah’s Star, in which Mike uses astronomy to support key Biblical texts regarding events surrounding the birth of Christ, is the first of what I hope will be many books based on his classes. He retells the months before and after Jesus’ birth, through the eyes of Biblical figures. While fictionalized, his version is true to scripture. The book is short and easy to read, rigorously researched and well supported. There are copious foot notes.

I am a non-traditional Christian, what most people call “spiritual but not religious.” Despite not having much interest in Bible study, I found Messiah’s Star fascinating and faith-affirming. I put everything else on hold so I could help him get it out.

If this is a subject that interests you, I hope you’ll take a look at Messiah’s Star. Currently is it only available in Kindle form, on Amazon (at the introductory price of $2.99).



#FurbabyFriday – Corrie Fischer

Russell In Corrie’s own words:
Tucker’s Tale
With cash in hand, I drove over two hours with the intention of making my dream a reality. I was bound and determined that I would own a yorkshire terrier. After weeks of searching, I found a listing online for yorkie pups within my price range. When I arrived, all of the puppies were cute, but I struggled to choose one. Something about the whole situation just felt off. However, I had invested too much time and effort to turn back empty handed. I choose the smallest male puppy there.

I took him home for a few days and all was well. He was a sweet little guy and cleaning up after him while potty training wasn’t much of a mission (that was a bonus). A few days passed and at the urging of a friend, I went over to their house for the night and brought my puppy, Russell, with me. The friend had a few other people over that I had not met previously. We all had a few drinks and enjoyed our night. The strangers were primarily women and they gawked over my little puppy. That night, I feel asleep on the couch with Russell snuggled up in my arms.

When I awoke the next morning, my puppy was gone and so were the strange girls. The front door to the country home was wide open. Not wanting to believe the worst, I awoke everyone in the house and we started a massive search. We trekked around for hours, calling his name, “Russell!” Finally, my mind led me to one conclusion. One of the girls had taken him. It broke my heart, but was still more comforting than the thought of my helpless little puppy running around in the woods alone.

In case I was wrong, I put up ads on Craigslist, posted flyers, and did all I could to find my lost puppy. My friend also called the girls to ask if they had seen the puppy. They replied that they had not. In my heart, I hoped it was a lie. Why, you may be wondering. Well, if they were willing to steal and lie to take my puppy, they must at least have wanted him fairly badly (and would hopefully provide him with a good home). To this day, I do not know if they were telling the truth or a lie.

Several weeks passed with no sign of my lost puppy. Since he had been the first dog I had gotten on my own, it drove me to completely question my responsibility level as a potential pet owner. One day, I decided to search online and came across a website with local shelter listings. I figured if I got a mutt then other people would be less inclined to steal him/her from me. The idea gave me a small spark of hope as I searched through the pages.

Then, one little, black puppy caught my attention. He had been given the temporary name of Trek. I called the shelter to ask some questions about him and the adoption process. The woman on the phone apologized and said he was already pending adoption. She insisted they had other great puppies needing homes, but I took it as a sign. Okay, it just isn’t meant to be.

Approximately two weeks later, I was driving around randomly as I sometimes do to relax. I realized I was close to the shelter. I thought to myself, “screw it, why not just look?” I walked down the aisles and saw several older dogs. I felt bad, but I really wanted a puppy. I wanted to raise him or her and teach them from the beginning. I wanted to know I could do it and be a good pet parent. I asked the receptionist if they no longer had puppies and she directed me to a separate part of the facility.

I walked past several pens containing numerous, adorable puppies, but none of them truly caught my attention. Then, as I approached the last pin, one stood out. He was a small black puppy with eyes that stared directly into mine. It was almost as though he was saying, “Me. Pick me.”

If you have never experienced this, there are no words to explain it. As a child, I have had many dogs I loved dearly, but none ever immediately connected with me like this. It was incredible. I turned around to look at the postings on the wall to identify this pup’s name. I searched and searched, but could not find it. Then, it dawned on me.

There, in the center of the wall, was a picture of a small black fur baby with the name Trek. The photo was cute, but he had his ears back in it and looked like a completely different puppy. I nearly broke out in tears of joy at the realization.

I walked to the front desk and asked to start the adoption process for Trek. The woman handed me a clipboard while typing away on her computer. “Oh dear, it looks like he is already pending adoption. He has already had his first shots, gotten neutered, and they have paid for him.” My heart sank. I wanted to start bawling my eyes out right there, but then she continued. “Actually, the family was supposed to pick him up last week. We’ve tried calling them several times, but they have not answered or returned our messages.”

I think she could see the tension on my face. I wanted that puppy more than words can express; there was something about him and he was the one. He was my intended to be my fur baby. “I’ll tell you what, go ahead and fill out the paperwork. If we can’t get a hold of them by Saturday, then I’ll call you and he’s yours.” She smiled brightly and I did the same before completing the paperwork.

Walking out, I felt my nerves screaming at me in every way. I wanted to embrace the elation, but I was scared. What if they did call? What if they came to get him first? I knew they had the right to do so. They had found him before me after all, but my heart hoped they would not.

Saturday morning rolled around and I checked my phone like a mad woman, every five seconds. I longed for the call that would say he was mine. Then, it came. “Miss Fischer, this is the ____ Animal Shelter, the previous adopters for Trek have not arrived. If you’d still like to adopt him, you may come get him.” I wanted to jump up from my desk for joy. I could not have been more excited!

Now, I will admit, it was not all fun and games. Like any other puppy, Trek who was renamed Tucker, had his rebellious streak. I lost more than one piece of furniture throughout the training process, but I wasn’t about to give up on him. I loved him from day one and decided I would do anything to provide him the best home possible. After months of training from me and with the help of those close to me, Tucker became an obedient, nearly perfect dog.

Today, Tucker is three years old and knows a multitude of tricks, including sit, shake, lay down, speak, talk (he growls in a way that sounds like “Uh huh”), wait, and can even balance treats on his nose. His favorite toys are balls and he obsesses over them. He will still obey the command to stay/wait even if the ball is thrown. He doesn’t go after it until I give him the release command. He also loves to snuggle under the blankets by my feet each night and that is where he loyally sleeps.

Though losing Russell was a major heartache, it could not even compare to the joy I have now owning Tucker. He is my dog, my best friend, and my child. He is my fur baby and I will continue to love every day I am blessed by his existence.

Corrie’s Book

Three young women are all confined by the same enchantment. It is an ever powerful, eternal demon that rests within their very hearts and minds. It is fear. The feeling consumes each one of them like a plague, influencing their every decision.

Renee, a thirteen year old girl, is the first to attempt freedom from this internal curse. She embraces the tinge of courage within her and allows her feet to drive her far away from her small town life of entrapment. Little does she know her journey against the unseen terror has only just begun.

The older, questionably less mature, Emily is blinded to her own imprisonment. Instead she allows guilt to cloud her mind while hiding under the cover of meaningless socialization. It is only when Emily finds herself in a strange land that she must finally confront her demons. Will she bow down to the nightmare before her? Or alas will she defeat the monster within?

Unlike the other two, Ms. Morrison has finally gotten her life in order, or so she believes. A professional, strict school teacher, she stands proud in all she has accomplished. Despite her success, terrors of a life long forgotten still torment her mind.

When all three women are forced to confront their inner horrors, their paths cross in an unimaginable way that will leave you breathless!

About Corrie
Corrie Fischer was born in Fort Oglethorpe, GA but only lived there the first three days of her life. The daughter of a military chaplain, her life of travels continued on for many years. She has lived in eight different states and over fifteen homes. When she was sixteen years old, Corrie started attending college. At the age of eighteen, she was accepted as a member of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society. In 2013, she graduated from Northwest Arkansas Community College. She currently resides in her Fayetteville, Arkansas home with her dog Tucker and a leopard gecko named Spike.

Corrie’s Website:


#FurbabyFriday – Author Jill Yesko

JasperJasper – In Jill’s own words:

The Michael Phelps of Basset Hounds
How may times have I heard the refrain “bassets hounds are fat and lazy dogs.”If only people knew the truth…Behold Jasper, my five-year-old basset hound. Jasper belies every stereotype of the couch potato basset who only moves when he hears the dinner bell ring.

Jasper is a dogathlete, a remarkable houndie physical specimen. He swims, runs, jumps, and would probably ride a bike if his legs weren’t three inches long.

It began when Jasper he was a wee puppy. Walking along the shores of a reservoir he nearly yanked my arm off pulling me into the water where he immediately began paddling away.

Bassets aren’t supposed to be swimmers. That’s the province of labrador retrievers, right?

Well, guess who loves to swim? Don’t even get me started about how Jasper jumped out of the canoe in the middle of the lake and began swimming away like a doggie Michael Phelps. This basset never met a body of water he didn’t plunge into. One of my favorite bonding activities is to walk in the creek with Jasper splashing his way beside me.

And then there’s my theory that Jasper is part kangaroo.

He’s been know to leap onto the highest beds and scale the tallest boulders in the dog park so he can bark his head off at all the doggies at his feet. Those well-muscled back legs mean he can bunny hop through two-foot-high snow drifts with his Dumbo-like ears flowing behind him.

Since Jasper has come into my life I’ve lost five pounds trying to keep up with him as sprints across the field after squirrels, robins, and whatever imaginary critters his nose mandates that he chase at top speed.

Yeah, that’s my lazy basset hound!

Jill’s Book

DogSpelledBackwardsPrivate investigator Jane Ronson suffers from oppositional defiant disorder–the uncontrollable urge to punch first and ask questions later. When a rabbi with a shady past offers a bag of cash to spy on a rival rabbi, Jane jumps at the chance. To succeed, Jane must infiltrate a black market kidney ring in Baltimore’s Orthodox Jewish community by impersonating one of its members. Between Russian gangsters and double crosses, Jane is No. 1 on everyone’s hit list. To get the bounty–and stay alive–Jane forms an alliance with a rabbi’s wife and confronts a dark family secret.

Excerpt from “Dog Spelled Backwards: An Unholy Mystery”

Jerome stood before me with his hands clasped together as if in prayer. He was swaddled from head to toe in a dark blue robe. On his head was a foot-tall white turban and his eyes were outlined in dark khol. Green sparkly loops dangled from his ears.

“Get your butt outta the car,” he mouthed through the glass. “I need you to give me the once over before our meeting with your Rabbi and his mobster rent boy.”

I stepped out of the car. “I told you to dress conservatively, not to wear a damn burqa! Didn’t you look at the pictures I emailed to you? You can’t go into a kosher restaurant looking like Cleopatra!”

Jerome put his hands on his hips. “This is the best I can do on short notice. It’s an abaya, not a burqa. I borrowed it from a Muslim friend. And another thing Miss Know-It-All, Orthodox Jewish women and Muslim women obey the same rules of modesty. So zip it.”

I held the restaurant door open as Jerome wiggled his hips and butt like a fashion model striding down a runway. I counted to ten and hoped for the best.

Author bio:
Jill Yesko is the author of the acclaimed crime fiction novels “Murder in the Dog Park” and “Dog Spelled Backwards: An Unholy Mystery.” Before becoming a writer, Jill was a cartographer, bicycle racer, and mate on a water taxi. Jill patrols Baltimore’s dog parks with Jasper, her red and white basset hound.

Author of:
“Murder in the Dog Park: Bad Girl. Good Cop. Bad Dog”

“Dog Spelled Backwards: An Unholy Mystery”
Available in bookstores and on

Twitter: @Jillyesko

#FurbabyFriday – Author Cleve Sylcox

Boots – In Cleve’s own words:
This is boots…He got the name because of his white paws.
It was one of those great spring days after a hard winter that Boots, a stray, adopted me. It wasn’t hard though. A cute little kitten drenched by a cool spring rain melted my heart. I picked up the kitten, dried it and put it down. That’s when he attacked my shoe strings and played with the fringe on the leg of my worn old jeans. He held onto my shoe with his front paws while gnawing the lace. He stayed there as I swept, and cleaned the winter out of the basement.He grew into a medium size, fuzzy indoor/outdoor cat who was dominate in controlling the rabbit and squirrel population on our half wooded lot. Mice were never a problem. He even brought us gifts of rabbits. I soon referred to him as the best dog that ever owned me.

Playful and curious he was always around me. Outside he would playfully attack my backside after I bent over to pull a weed. Inside he wanted to be a part of everything. Sometimes he would curl up on the keyboard as I was trying to type.

One of the funniest things he did was lay on top of our refrigerator and swat at hair as people walked past. He would lie onto top of the kitchen cabinets and reach down, swatting an unsuspecting guest in the head. Then pop back up and hide before they had chance to discover him.

At night as we slept he would curl up with us and sleep sometimes with is head resting on my head. I heard it said that animals have no souls and are in capable of love. Whoever said that never knew Boots. I swear he loved us as much as we loved him.

Several years after that cool spring rain where his heart and mine became one we lost him. He was hit by a car. I buried him in the woods he so loved to prowl. Even now as I type this tears swell. I miss him as if I had lost a child, or best friend.

Cleve’s Audiobook:
The Package in Audio
David Winters likes Cloak and Dagger Novels,
but never thought he would be in an actual mystery.
That is until his law partner, Tinsley, asked him to
do a simple little favor and he finds himself swept
away in intrigue, death, and women.
You can find out more about Cleve and his books at

#FurbabyFriday – Author Traci Tyne Hilton


Dr. Watson – In Traci’s words:

Dr. Watson is our first dog ever. In our whole lives, neither my husband, nor I ever had a dog before this one. He’s not a Nuevo-designer dog. He’s a real live mutt. Part Pug, part Rat Terrier, part Chihuahua. He has the Pug’s barrel body, the buggy Chihuahua eyes, and the skinny legs of the Terrier and Chihuahua. He has eye-catching ruddy fur that is as soft as silk. And he thinks he’s the boss of the world.

We’re pretty huge Doyle fans at our house, and so Dr. Watson seemed a good name, before we got to know this guy’s personality. But now that we know him, only Napoleon really fits. He’s truculent, stubborn, and pouty. He wants to be the boss of everything, and he thinks the whole world is his territory.

When he was big enough for his first vet appointment—all of six or seven pounds–the vet came out to see us with a very serious look on his face.

“Your dog is a biter.” He said. (Technically this was the vet’s husband speaking, but that’s too complicated to get into.)

We laughed like doting dog parents. “He sure does like to nip!” we said.

“No. He bites. It is dangerous and you have to train him to stop.” He looked at our two-year old daughter with sad eyes. “To protect your kids, you need to have the baby lie on top every day and be the one who feeds him. Teach him where he belongs in your family and he won’t hurt anyone.”

It seemed like sound advice, and matched up with what the Dog Whisperer has to say in similar circumstances, so we did all of that. The result is that our Dr. Watson believes firmly that he is third in line in our family structure. I’m #1, Lucy (now 7) is #2, and the rest of the family is well behind him. This frustrates my husband when he tries to walk the dog, but as Watson has never bitten anyone, ever, I consider it quite a coup!

Adopting Dr. Watson from the shelter is the best decision our family ever made, I have to say. Nothing compares to the love this dog has given us: not our trip to Disneyland, not the big trampoline, nothing.

Our other dog, the free Pomeranian from Craigslist…he’s a different story

Traci Tyne Hilton

Traci Tyne Hilton
is the author of The Mitzy Neuhaus Mystery Series, The Plain Jane Mystery Series, and one of the authors in The Tangle Saga series of science fiction novellas. She was the Mystery/Suspense Category winner for the 2012 Christian Writers of the West Phoenix Rattler Contest, a finalist for Speculative Fiction in the same contest, and has a Drammy from the Portland Civic Theatre Guild. Traci serves as the Vice President of the Portland chapter of the American Christian Fiction Writers Association.

Traci earned a degree in History from Portland State University and still lives in the rainiest part of the Pacific Northwest with her husband the mandolin playing funeral director, their two daughters, and their dogs, Dr. Watson and Archie.


Good Clean Murder…
Hardworking and hungry Bible school student Jane Adler cleans houses to make ends meet. But finding the money to pay for the last semester of school is the least of her problems when she uncovers a body in her boss’s bed.

More of Traci’s work can be found at

#FurbabyFriday – Author Mike Meyer


Coco and Pom Pom – In Mike’s Words:
Coco loves to be chased, and Pom Pom loves to chase. They tear after each other, running up the stairs in less than a second, and flying down the hall in a flash. Every now and then the tables will be turned, and Coco will suddenly be chasing Pom Pom. Kitty and I have so much fun just watching our little boys romp through the house. Sometimes we will pour ourselves a glass of wine and sit together on our sofa, watching Coco and Pom Pom chase each other, wrestle, play tug-of-war, suddenly pounce on one another, and playfully stalk each other. Kitty and I have the best entertainment ever, watching the boys at play. They make us feel good, and they make us laugh.

Michael Meyer
A writer of international suspense stories, Michael has also published a memoir about his journey with Coco, Pom Pom and Kitty.


Losing loved ones is an awful fact of life; losing one’s loving spouse, one’s day-to-day partner through life, especially in the prime of life, is one of the most unbearable tolls that we humans are forced to endure. This is the true story of my journey from grieving widower, not caring if I lived or died, to the once-again happily married man I am today, a man who both loves and cherishes life. My three kitties have given me a new zest for living.
My story begins with loss and tears, but it ends with lots of love and laughter. I hope that you will find yourself both entertained and inspired by my journey.

It is amazing how time helps. In time, I have learned to overcome my own albatross. I have learned to live again, to love again. Life is a gift reads a plaque on our dining room wall, and that sums up what I have gained from the three kitties that saved my life. From Coco, I learned to care again. From Kitty, I learned to love again. From Pom Pom, I have learned how to cope with my own demons, the effects of aging being one of these. Pom Pom has taught me to accept what is and then to move onward. Yes, I have learned plenty from my three kitties.

Find out more about Michael Meyer at: