My favorite stories have strong sense of place. I absolutely love when an author pulls you into the story so deeply that you’re startled to find there isn’t six feet of snow outside when you put the book down. This is achieved though worldbuilding.
Most people think worldbuilding is easy. Science fiction and fantasy writers get told it’s easy because they can just make stuff up. Historical fiction writers get told it’s easy because they can just look stuff up. Writers who use contemporary settings are told it’s easy because it’s just the real world, duh. Savvy writers know worldbuilding is anything but easy. Continue reading →
Every autumn folks become enamored with “witchcraft.” When the annual autumnal uptick is accompanied by the release of a popular book or movie like Hocus Pocus or Harry Potter interest in the occult skyrockets.
A surprising variety of traditions fall under the umbrella “witchcraft,” which encompasses everything from Sami Shamanism to Haitian Voodoo. You can see lists of the various religions HERE and HERE. To the best of my knowledge, Halloween isn’t a holy day for any of them.
Fictional stories, like the Harry Potter series, bear no resemblance to actual pagan religions. Sure, pagans enjoy dressing up and handing out candy as much as our Christian brethren. But that’s generally the extent of our participation. The influx of folks seeking admittance to “secret Halloween rituals” are left confused and disappointed. The only hocus pocus they’re likely to find on Halloween will be playing in theaters.
Few people realize Halloween’s origins are purely Christian and its customs uniquely American. Continue reading →
Writers get a lot of terrible advice. Among the worst are phrases like “follow your passion” and “believe in yourself.” This type of advice sounds inspirational—in reality it’s just nonsense. Meaningless platitudes won’t make you a better writer or increase your word count.
Another equally useless piece of advice is “find your muse.” I’m all for seeking inspiration, but there’s a glaring problem with this advice. Most people don’t know who the muses are. Worse, they have no idea how each of their domains aligns with the different genres. Continue reading →
Meet the Feral Five: Little Bit, Ghost, Bruiser, Adventure Cat, and Hissy Kitty! They herald from a large a large feral cat colony that spans the border between Potlatch and Onaway, Idaho.
Kasey Kampster’s home is practically at the center of the feral colony’s range. She has a tender heart and a cat-killing dog, which is a rather unfortunate combination.
This summer two mama cats had litters on Kasey’s property—within reach of the dog. She managed to catch the sole remaining orphaned kitten from one of the litters. This time of year, both Helping Hands Rescue and Animal House Ferals are overwhelmed with kittens. She knew both organizations were already begging for fosters, so no help would be available there.
Not wanting the orphaned kitty to become a snack for her pooch, she posted a picture on Facebook asking for help. I told myself I wasn’t going to do it; I’d just lost a cat and wasn’t eager to take in another. Besides, Tabby is territorial and doesn’t like other cats. (Both Tabby and Storm were feral rescues from the same bloody colony.)
By the time I got off work, there still weren’t any takers for the orphan kitten. Sighing I got in the car and drove up to the Kampster’s, prepared to do my civic duty. I thought I was only picking up ONE kitten. I came home with FIVE!
I arrived to find Kasey’s husband on his knees, drill in hand, removing boards from the breezeway between the house and their deck in an attempt to catch kittens from the other litter. That litter was obviously sick. Between the three of us, we managed to catch all four of the tiny balls of fluff. I figured that if I was going to take one, I might as well take them all. That probably wasn’t one of the better decisions in my life.
There is big difference between nursing one kitten back to health, as I had done with Storm, and nursing five kittens back to health. I had Terramycin to treat the conjunctivitis in their eyes and kitten formula is readily available. But keeping 5 kittens clean is a never-ending nightmare, especially now that they are wallowing in the soft cat food before they eat it.
Over the past few days, the kittens have begun to sneeze and the oldest, Hissy Kitty, is congested. The vet thinks they need to be seen. I’ve contacted the two rescue organizations in the area. Animal House Ferals has generously offered to get the kittens spayed/neutered prior to them going to their forever homes but lacks the funds for veterinary care. Helping Hands Rescue hasn’t responded to either of the emails I sent–they are based in the LC Valley, not up here on the Palouse. That’s where you come in! Continue reading →
When I started this project, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I thought I’d do some interviews during the summer and follow-up with second interviews after the pandemic was over. I mistakenly assumed everything would be over by the end of 2020. Boy was I wrong!
As I work though my interview archives, I’ve noticed that a lot has changed in the intervening years and follow-up interviews simply aren’t possible for some folks. Carol Kampehnout falls into that category.
I completed my interview with Carol at her home in Moscow, Idaho in August 2020. Continue reading →
We all joke about the dubious search histories of authors. A mystery writer might search “best ways to hide a body.” Crime and thriller writers might search “how to hide drugs in your car.” So, what’s in my search history? Abortifacients and emmenagogues.
Some people just won’t take no for an answer. Members of Doug Wilson’s cult fall into that category. The rogue pastor preaches that slavery should be legal, husbands should beat their wives, women should not be allowed to vote, and sexual assault is a man’s right. Their goal is to achieve a whites-only, Christians-only community, and they will stop at nothing to get it.
After years of being told that I’m not wanted in the community and having people drive by my home shouting, “nigger lover” and “act white,” they have finally changed course. Instead of threatening, shunning, and harassing me (which obviously doesn’t work), they have decided to buy me out. Continue reading →
Debut and self-published authors struggle to compete with the thousands of other books published each year. Writing awards come with the feeling of validation that your writing is “good enough.” They are also a marketing tool.
Awards drive sales by catching the eye of new readers and opening doors to new sales opportunities. Many readers and booksellers are skeptical about trying an unknown author. A good way to allay their fears is adding the tagline, “award-winning author.”
If you win an award, don’t be shy—let everyone know! Announce the award in your newsletter and on social media. Post the information on your website and include it in your press kit. Get extra milage out of an award by adding it to your Amazon author page and on GoodReads.
The small town of Targhee Falls, Idaho has a problem. A serial arsonist has been taunting the sheriff and someone else is hell-bent on sabotaging the remote guest ranch nestled into the wilderness outside of town. That’s where Darby Graham comes in.
After a leave of absence from law enforcement following a horrific accident that resulted in part of her lower leg being amputated, Darby’s detective skills are put to the test when she is assigned to go undercover and investigate the “oddities” happing at the ranch. The oddities in question range from busted pipes to accidental deaths that seem anything but accidental. Continue reading →
A writer’s first priority is to set aside dedicated time to writing books. Their second priority is to sell those books. Since most writers juggle a day job in addition to caring for family and finding time to write, marketing often falls by the wayside. Yet, marketing information is the most common request I get from authors each year.
When authors think about marketing, often times they envision an advertising campaign that will magically draw people to their book. In reality, marketing encompasses much, much more. Marketing is defined as any activity an author undertakes in order to sell books. Consequently, a good marketing strategy begins the moment an author decides to write a book.
Below is a step-by-step guild that walks authors through the various stages of book marketing and includes a downloadable checklist to keep authors on track. Continue reading →