Saturday, February 22, 2020

The Need to Write or How Life Interferes

 Why I Must Write 
or How Life Interferes 

      Every book I write runs like a movie in my head until it becomes a manuscript ready for review, editing, and revision. Living with a continuous movie causes a great need to get that manuscript written. However, life does not always cooperate, no matter how demanding the movie becomes.

        I started my historical suspense, mystery, romance Burnt Offering two years before my husband died. At least, the movie in my head began. To be sure the factual parts of the story agreed with actual facts, I researched life, culture, religious practices, the worship of the idol Moleck, and other necessary items from the 8th Century BC for a year, and the writing done during that time included tons of notes. One interesting side note, Moleck can be spelled multiple ways, but I chose one to use in the book. 

        As I researched, the movie continued. I would awaken at night with the story rolling through my head. During the last part of my husband's life, his care demanded more and more of my time, and Burnt Offering had to wait. But, it refused to wait in my head. The urgency to write the story built until I had to take time out of the night, when I should sleep, to write another section. 

       When Robert died the end of March 2015, the book became my obsession, perhaps saved what sanity I still had. I wrote, rewrote, read, edited, revised, wrote more, checked my notes, wrote more. All this time, the movie continued. It might change a bit as I discovered facts that made a difference or a character decided he or she wanted a change (other authors will understand). However, the movie would not let me forget my job -- write that book and hurry.

         Finally, April 2, 2019, Burnt Offering became a reality, and the movie ended.

       Two months ago, I discovered a three-ring Rawleigh notebook that held a manuscript I began writing in the late 1960s, early 1970s: some pages typed on my old manual typewriter, some pages still handwritten. I read the words a younger me wrote over 45 years ago and liked the story. I wanted to enter those words into my computer, finish the story, and discover the final project's worth.

       A folder on the computer held three chapters before problems reared their ugly heads. Oh, not with the story or the manuscript but with life interfering with my work time. I still managed to take a fifteen-to-twenty-minute writing time every day (as best-selling author Jodi Thomas says every writer must do), but the short periods of time didn't slow the movie's demands. Life didn't slow its demands, either.

       4RV Publishing's authors, editors, illustrators, projects, and problems: All needed attention NOW. Poor health taxed my energy and concentration ability. Living alone (except for a black cat named Panther, who also required attention) meant I must fix or do all meals, cleaning, and other necessities. Still, in my head runs a different movie, the one triggered by the found manuscript. 

          Yes, I MUST write because of an inner urge, demand, requirement, but life does get in the way too often.

To find my books go to the new site for 4RV Publishing for the best deal. They can also be found on other online stores such as or and through brick and mortar bookstores.


Sunday, December 29, 2019

Here comes 2020

      I've been fighting with time flying by and editing and writing and health and ... well, I've not been promoting or keeping up with my blog. Shame on me.

      I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and are prepared for a good 2020. I don't do resolutions, but I set goals. 
      My first goal is to complete a novel I began over 35 years ago (that ages me, huh) and just found last week. I had typed a few pages on my old Royal standard typewriter, and the rest is in longhand. I never finished the book, but as soon as I read what I finished, the whole story returned to my mind. I will update my progress as I work my way to the finish of Violent Cycle.
      As a child of a man who had a temper he couldn't control, or wouldn't, I know the fear and helplessness felt by those who suffered from violence. Later, I learned that my dad was bipolar, which called manic-depressive then, which didn't help his self-control. As a result, I vowed not to abuse my children, if and when I had any, but I didn't know how to avoid hurting them. I knew enough to realize child abuse passed from generation to generation, and I did not want to continue the pattern.
      I prayed many times for a solution during my teen years. Then, an answer came: Never touch a child if I were angry. So when the time came I had children, I sent them to their rooms if I were angry because of something one did or was angry about something else. When I controlled myself, I dealt with the child and the situation. I tried to be a good mother, but I found other ways to fail (another story).

      My husband also came from an abusive home, but his situation was much worse than mine. He tried so hard not to be physically abusive, but he developed Parkinson's which often includes a horrible rage -- Parkinson's rage, but no one warned us about that until long after we discovered it through experience. I would often place myself between him and a child. My husband didn't know why he had this explosive rage, but he did begin to recognize when it began to build. When he felt the start of the anger, he went off by himself until the rage passed, but by then, the damage had been done. Understanding and forgiving doesn't erase the scars left behind.
     As a result, I have an interest in destroying child abuse. The novel concerns how and why the problem continues through a family line. 

     I will share other goals for 2020 in the upcoming weeks.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Burnt Offering Given 5 Stars by Readers' Favorite

  Burnt Offering 
reviewed by Trudi LoPreto for Readers' Favorite

     Hadara is the daughter of a rich Egyptian and married to Tzabar, a cruel and conniving man. King Ahaz of Judah believed in idols and not the one true God. He and Tzabar, together in their evil ways, killed children by placing them in bronze idols and burning them alive. This caused many to flee and hide to protect their children and their religious beliefs. Hadara left the home of Tzabar in the middle of the night, taking her son and others of the household and she did her best to protect all of them. 
     Burnt Offering has much romance as each person finds love and marries but there is much danger as well. There are those worshipers of the idols and those who believe there is only one God and are ready to fight to prove that their beliefs are the right ones. When Hezekiah, who has been in hiding for many years, becomes the new king, many changes take place, but the fighting and killing still continue.
     Burnt Offering by Vivian Zabel takes place in the eighth century,
beginning in 720 BC. The story brings the Old Testament alive and depicts  a way of life so very different than anything we can imagine. There are many characters in this book and each plays an important role in telling the story. Burnt Offering has enough suspense and romance to keep you reading long into the night.
     Vivian Zabel is a master of words and turns them into vivid pictures as she takes us very far back in time. Burnt Offering fits  into so many genres that I can only say I do not think there is anyone who will not enjoy reading this book. It is a page-turner.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Newest Novel, Burnt Offering

     A modern tale set in ancient times, Burnt Offering contains suspense, romance, and a problem found still today, the sacrifice of children through neglect, abuse, and murder.
      Judah, 8th Century BCE, King Ahaz sat and watched his own infant placed in the hands of a red-hot bronze idol. He heard the child’sscreams over the beating of 100 drums. He watched the child turn red, then black as it burned alive. He smelled the odor of burnt skin. Yet, he and his followers did what Moleck wanted, killing their own children.

     After two years of in-depth research and over four years of writing, re-writing, editing, revising, I sent the manuscript to six different editors, all who set high standards. I revised the manuscript after each edit. I found other places that needed tweaking and polishing. A year later, the imprint editor did her final edit, and I did the final revision. The manuscript went to the design department, and a few weeks later, I had a proof for final editing, and few changes were needed. The files for the cover and interior uploaded at the printer. 

     I held the book in my hands and thought, "How powerful." The cover, created by Aidana WillowRaven couldn't be called beautiful, but it was powerful. The amount of work to make the idol reflect the fire, the effect of evil she created with her art work took my breath away.

     Reviews of the manuscript by William Bernhardt and Stan Toler encouraged me, and the reviews since gladden my heart. The reviews posted on Amazon make me feel that readers are enjoying my book. 

Copies can be ordered on the 4RV Online Bookstore, through brick and mortar bookstores, and other online providers.



Monday, August 5, 2019

Frustrations Trying to Learn New Things

     After being pushed into starting an author's page on Facebook, I find many things to do, things I don't understand and can't find. I have a hard time learning new things as I age, and, yes, I am getting older every day. That means every day I find new things, especially technology, more difficult to conquer.

     Therefore, I need to stop allowing people to talk me into doing new things for several reasons:

1. I don't want to take the time and mental energy to figure out something that isn't necessary.

2. If someone isn't willing to guide me through all the steps more than one or two times, I don't have to do it.

3. I need to use my time and energy (which is very limited) on my writing and helping others in the areas I do understand and know.

4. If new things are not worth the frustrations involved, then I don't need new things.

     Now, if I can persuade certain people that I don't need an author page on Facebook that looks professional, that I don't need to know how to run a WordPress website, that I don't need to tweet every time I change the sheets on my bed, that I don't need ... whatever new thing that takes more time and energy than what I can spare, then I will be better off, at least for a day or two.

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Life Gets in the Way of Life

     We often have such good intentions for updating our blogs, working on important projects, calling friends, and other things that life pushes aside.

     One excuse I have for letting my blog slide is the work involved in finishing my historical novel Burnt Offering. Between running 4RV Publishing and doing revisions of the novel (had six different editors tear it apart), I let my blog whither on the vine, so to speak.

     However, the novel went through all the process everyone else's does: submitted, sent by an imprint editor to an acquisition editor anonymously for evaluation, survive the full editing process (as I stated above, I had six different editors), do proof edits, and then wait for that book baby's birth.

     After the book arrived, friends held a book celebration for me June 29, 2019.

      Now, I finished celebrating, and the time to pay attention to other things, such as my blog and writing other books. I'm now concentrating on children's books and my autobiography (good sleeping material for sleepless nights, better than any prescription).



Thursday, August 17, 2017

Promote Yourself First

         Before writers have books to promote, they need to build an interest in themselves, according to Joan Steward, The Publicity Hound [blog and various email Tips of the Week]; Brian Feinblum [The Writer, September 2017, page 16-19, “Promotional Pitfalls”]; Kirkus Reviews []; Author Unlimited []; and Brad Phillips @MrMediaTraining.
         Allow me to share some of the tips the sources above have given, mixed with a few ideas and thoughts of my own.

Promote Your Book Yourself

         Before authors promote a book, they should promote themselves. Of course, if a writer hasn't promoted herself yet, doing so can occur after the book, but promotion should first be about the author.

         Often writers wait too late to promote themselves. Joan Steward says authors should become "experts" and build a personal base before promoting a book. Nonfiction writers have a built-in topic about which to write articles or present workshops: the theme or sub-themes of the future nonfiction book. However, fiction writers can also be experts, if they have researched information for their books correctly. For example, research for a book dealing with kidnapped children can create an author who is an expert on the aftereffects of being kidnapped on the children and families; what steps to take to find kidnapped children; or how to survive being kidnapped or having a child kidnapped.

         Authors who have studied and developed their own writing expertise can share their knowledge of writing and become an expert on writing. But, that expert level should probably come after proving through being published that they know the subject. To gain more knowledge about writing, a person can attend classes, workshops, and conferences about writing. He/she can read articles and books about writing, keeping the knowledge that usable and deleting the rest.

         Another way authors can promote themselves and create themselves as experts is to create cheat sheets and checklists. Joan Stewart, the Publicity Hound, states the following: "Readers love chunks of information they can digest easily in just a minute or two. That's why they're wild about cheat sheets and checklists. These powerful one-page PDFs are like digital crow bars that can pry an email address out of a website visitor faster than any other lead magnet you might offer." She goes on to say:

                   Checklist/cheat sheets can be released before the book for promotion or used in a the appendix of a book or both. These lists don’t have to be about serious topics. Be helpful and have fun.

Five examples:
                   1. Create a checklist of advice from your main character on how to overcome a challenge or solve a problem mentioned in the book.
                   2. Offer a cheat sheet for tourists who want to visit the city, state, region or country where your novel takes place. If your book is about Venice, your cheat sheet could be titled, “Favorite Foodie Hideaways to Explore in Venice.”
                   3. Do your sci-fi characters have their own language? Create a cheat sheet of words and their definitions.
                   4. Create a checklist of “7 Most Romantic Places to Propose” that ties into your romance novel.
                   5. Does your children’s book include a fairy as one of the main characters? Create a cheat sheet of “What the 5 Most Famous Fairies Can Teach Your Child.” (The Tooth Fairy, Tinkerbell, etc.)

         Include a short blurb about your book at the end, with a link to the sales page.

         Writers need to become familiar names on social media, familiar in a good way. They can post encouraging comments on other people's blogs, social media posts, etc. They can post reviews of other authors' books on their blogs and the other authors' blogs. Posting bits of information on Facebook, Twitter, Google +, and other media helps to build interest in the writer and in his/her topic. The more readers are interested in a writer as a person, the more they will be interested in reading the writer's book.

         I hope to share more tips about promoting and marketing in the future.