Memes, memes, and more memes!

 This one is fun. I used Canva for this one.

This one is fun. I used Canva for this one.

Hey y’all,

As I said in an earlier post, I got to making lots of memes to promote my existence here in this world and in cyber space. I think Cole and I came up with some pretty awesome images, and thought it would be cool to share some of our collection in the blog. 

These memes are original in the pairings of images with words. Many of the quotes are from those who are wiser and more experienced than I - not to mention famous. Unless the author is unknown, I always credit brilliance where it is due. And of course, I didn't take the pictures. But many are quotes from my work, and in one meme, my perspective.

These are some favorites of mine as well as those pinned often on Pinterest. I don’t know how all of this will shake out, but for the sake of passing on some good advice, I recommend Canva as a great place to design memes for free. My second choice is Quotes Cover, which is where I got started. I was pretty limited with how I could design the image and where I could put words on Quotes Cover. I think Canva makes a cleaner, more pristine image, so I use it all the time now. But I had to figure it out and have somebody show me a little of how to work that site. Both sites are free to work with, which is always a bonus. That said, I hope y’all enjoy the images and feel free to share them on your own social media – especially those that have Free Flying Press on them. ;)

 Canva. Personally, I would contact improv with my shadow, with moments of tango. And you?

Canva. Personally, I would contact improv with my shadow, with moments of tango. And you?

 This meme is one of my favorites, but it wasn't pinned as much as I would have liked. Made it on Quotes Cover.

This meme is one of my favorites, but it wasn't pinned as much as I would have liked. Made it on Quotes Cover.

 This meme is one of Cole's. I think they worked with Adobe on this one, but I'm not sure. I was also surprised it didn't get the Pinterest love because I think it's lovely.

This meme is one of Cole's. I think they worked with Adobe on this one, but I'm not sure. I was also surprised it didn't get the Pinterest love because I think it's lovely.

 This meme I used to promote my work, Ella Bandita and the Wanderer. Made on Canva. I hope the model doesn't take offense I used her face, because she's beautiful.   Just in case you are intrigued, this quote is also in a  free download  because Part 1 is a freebie.

This meme I used to promote my work, Ella Bandita and the Wanderer. Made on Canva. I hope the model doesn't take offense I used her face, because she's beautiful. 

Just in case you are intrigued, this quote is also in a free download because Part 1 is a freebie.

 Made on Canva. This meme may get some Pinterest love yet.

Made on Canva. This meme may get some Pinterest love yet.

 This bit of awesomeness was made by Cole.

This bit of awesomeness was made by Cole.

 I made this on Quotes Cover.

I made this on Quotes Cover.

 And I made this meme on Canva. I also altered the color from my computer to make the blue deeper.

And I made this meme on Canva. I also altered the color from my computer to make the blue deeper.

 This meme is by Cole, and the quote is out of Ella Bandita and the Wanderer. It makes me wonder if people are scared of sex, bondage, or both because I'm surprised this didn't get a lot of attention. And no, this doesn't imply a bondage scene. You'll have to wait for the second novel to get something like that. ;)

This meme is by Cole, and the quote is out of Ella Bandita and the Wanderer. It makes me wonder if people are scared of sex, bondage, or both because I'm surprised this didn't get a lot of attention. And no, this doesn't imply a bondage scene. You'll have to wait for the second novel to get something like that. ;)

 This meme was much loved. And I'm proud of this one!

This meme was much loved. And I'm proud of this one!

 I reused this picture to make a different meme. I'm fairly proud of it too.

I reused this picture to make a different meme. I'm fairly proud of it too.

 It shouldn't surprise anybody that this was a big hit. I couldn't have made this meme so graceful without the tools on Canva. 

It shouldn't surprise anybody that this was a big hit. I couldn't have made this meme so graceful without the tools on Canva. 

 Meme made on Quotes Cover. This was pretty fun!

Meme made on Quotes Cover. This was pretty fun!

 Quotes cover meme. This one surprised me. It was pinned a lot. 

Quotes cover meme. This one surprised me. It was pinned a lot. 

 I'm proud of this meme, and I'm proud of the attention it received because it was personal, and especially because the quote is not out of a novel I wrote. This is advice I've given many friends and family when a relationship falls apart. I came to this conclusion over the years after experiencing my relationship disasters and observing others. The kind of catastrophe that happens after somebody has given everything except their blood to make someone happy - and more loving - only to have that blow up in their face when their beloved leaves.

I'm proud of this meme, and I'm proud of the attention it received because it was personal, and especially because the quote is not out of a novel I wrote. This is advice I've given many friends and family when a relationship falls apart. I came to this conclusion over the years after experiencing my relationship disasters and observing others. The kind of catastrophe that happens after somebody has given everything except their blood to make someone happy - and more loving - only to have that blow up in their face when their beloved leaves.

 Cole. This meme got some Pinterest love - which was well deserved, I believe.

Cole. This meme got some Pinterest love - which was well deserved, I believe.

 I was pretty disappointed this didn't get much attention on Pinterest. Maybe the word "Loneliness" put people off. Made on Quotes Cover.

I was pretty disappointed this didn't get much attention on Pinterest. Maybe the word "Loneliness" put people off. Made on Quotes Cover.

 This meme is one of my first attempts at making a writing prompt. Made on Quotes Cover.

This meme is one of my first attempts at making a writing prompt. Made on Quotes Cover.

 This meme is one of Cole's first and it's one of my favorites. I love the ferocity of it, but those on Pinterest did not. I guess a woman with a bloody sword may be off-putting.

This meme is one of Cole's first and it's one of my favorites. I love the ferocity of it, but those on Pinterest did not. I guess a woman with a bloody sword may be off-putting.

 This meme is one of my recent writing prompts, and I'm proud of it too. It's gotten some respectable attention on Pinterest. But again, I was surprised it didn't take off in a spectacular way.   It's also part of collection of writing prompts if you care to check that out  here .

This meme is one of my recent writing prompts, and I'm proud of it too. It's gotten some respectable attention on Pinterest. But again, I was surprised it didn't take off in a spectacular way. 

It's also part of collection of writing prompts if you care to check that out here.

 Cole. Isn't it fabulous!

Cole. Isn't it fabulous!

 One of my early ones, and I still think it's one of the funniest. Making myself laugh is a real joy. Made on Quotes Cover.

One of my early ones, and I still think it's one of the funniest. Making myself laugh is a real joy. Made on Quotes Cover.

So there y'all have it. There are many more. I hope y'all enjoyed viewing these as much as we did making them! It's a lovely creative pursuit to make some memes!





Writing Prompts! Come and Get 'Em!


Hey y’all,

Are you a writer? Or someone who likes to write?

Do you love fantasy?

Do you love fables and myths?

Do you love the idea of taking fables and myths in a different direction?

Did you like that prompt above?

If so, have a look-see at these bits of inspiration to get your creative juices flowing! Some are also rather pleasing to look at, if I say so myself. ;-)

Most of these are take-offs on myths and fables, but there are also two suspense prompts, and Rogue and Babe promise to make a romp of a romance – or a spoof of a romance if that’s how you roll.

The possibilities are endless…

FYI, these prompts are original and unconnected to my creative work, so use them however you like and enjoy!

Happy writing,


 If only women would think like this more often...

If only women would think like this more often...

 The best treasures are intangible...

The best treasures are intangible...

 Scheherazade deserved so much better...

Scheherazade deserved so much better...

 True love will challenge you...

True love will challenge you...

 Come with this. I dare you.

Come with this. I dare you.

 Bloody murder mystery? Or suspense? Race against time!

Bloody murder mystery? Or suspense? Race against time!

 I'd be terrified too if I had to rely on the police.

I'd be terrified too if I had to rely on the police.

The Long Game is Built on Relationships



Hey y’all,

Much has changed in the world of publishing and self-publishing. This past weekend, I attended the Willamette Writers’ Conference in Portland, Oregon. This was my first Conference in several years.

About 10-12 years ago, I went to quite a few. At that time, I was hungry for an agent or an editor or both because, like most of us who had been writing for many years, it was my dream to get published. By my 3rd Conference, I was a pro at finding where the agents and editors would be, at angling for an opportune conversation where I could pitch my story that was not yet a novel. I had an agenda. So did every other writer who was at the same conference. We were sharks circling a handful of meaty minnows. It was exhausting. And I’m pretty sure it was highly unpleasant for the agents and editors who attended these conferences. There wasn’t an agent or editor at any conference I went to that didn’t have some over-the-top stories of being stalked by 100’s of writers – some more overzealous than others.

One of the classes I went to this weekend taught me that my mindset back then had been a mistake. Since I am committed to the self-published path, I hadn’t signed up for any pitches. I couldn’t care less about who the agents and editors were – unless they were freelance and good, because I need one. I went to this WW Conference because they had a lot of classes on self-publishing and marketing tips. I was there for what I needed to learn.

Russell Nohelty taught most of the classes on self-publishing, building an audience, and making a profit. His core theme surprised me though. In his class on building an audience from scratch and on pitching, what he had to say came down to one thing. Connection.

“Publishing is a long game. And it is a game that is built on relationships.”

In his talk on building an audience, Russell said he spends about 10 hours a week communicating with some of his fan base. He asks questions about themselves, their lives, their favorite books, movies, shows, hobbies, and interests.

“Instead of treating them like a $20 bill, I find out who they are as 3-dimensional humans. Be a human treating somebody else like a human. Then go out and find other humans who have similar interests to the human that likes your stuff. Chances are you will find more.”

When I went to his pitch class, he said pretty much the same thing.

“Go into the pitch session and take a minute to find out what the agents like, and what they are looking for. Treat them like a human, not an opportunity. Even if they don’t want what you are looking for, you might have something like that later. And in the meantime, you’ve made a friend because you’ve treated them like a human. And if they can’t help you, they might direct you to somebody who could.”

And in that class is when Russell said.

“This is a long game. And it’s built on relationships. Chances are none of you will sell your book or your script from this conference. But you can make connections. From those connections, you could make some friends. That is what will serve you in the long game.”

As I listened, I cringed a little when I thought back to those early conferences, my sharp eyes, and restlessness that probably made the agent or editor very uneasy. I was not being a human trying to connect with another human. I was a predator looking for something to feast on. That had to be very unpleasant for them. And when I think back on those conferences, I’m pretty embarrassed.

My agenda mindset may have accounted for some less than fabulous perceptions I had ultimately of the publishing industry. Yet in defense of hungry writers stalking agents and editors for a chance, the Monolith of Traditional Publishing set it up that way when it became a business rather than a forum for the art of the written word.

Ours is an aggressive culture that is very focused on the outward trappings of success measured in tangible units like money, and less tangible ideals of elitism and exclusion. Something happens to creativity when the focus is on money, not the finished piece of art, whether this is writing or painting or music or theater or film or dance. When the focus is on getting in, getting up, and getting more, how can the creative juices flow? How can new ideas and fresh perspectives flourish when the pressure is on to make money, Money, MONEY?

To backtrack to the Conferences I had gone to more than a decade ago…

My journey through the Conferences started during my DIY booktour/roadtrip, an odyssey of self-publishing. With the Beast filled with 100’s of my self-published copies of “Ella Bandita and other stories,” I went to the San Diego Writers’ Conference in the spring of 2006. Yet the advice given to me was: Do NOT bring attention to the fact that I had self-published. There was a strong stigma to being a self-published author, and I was told that would be the kiss of death for anybody who was somebody in New York publishing. Marla Miller, an editor and writer who had her non-fiction published, but still couldn’t get her fiction published, was very blunt in talking about how publishing was a tough business and we all had to play the game. A lot of classes talked about all the rules and regulations, the have-to-do-this and the don’t-you-dare-do-that RULES TO LIVE BY, for any of us to have even a snowball’s chance in Hell of ever getting published.

Oh, and the market for fiction was shrinking faster than a receding glacier.

The pressure was on. Those who were in the Industry were all-powerful. Those who had been published in that Industry had oversized egos. They were the cool kids and the writers (unpublished) were the outsiders. Of course, many of the cool kids were very nice people. Most of them were quite reserved – obviously necessary for the sake of self-preservation with all the hungry writers stalking them. But it wasn’t long before I began to feel like the pathetic geek trying to get the cool kids to accept me.

That really sucked. And frankly, I think the dynamic of in-group vs. outcast is grossly inappropriate. Writers are, as a general rule, odd and eccentric people. Most of us were not in popular crowds in high school, college, or even adulthood. We were the introverts, the watchers, the geeks, and the freaks. Chuck Palahniuk (Fight Club) said in a fantastic speech: “I believe writers became writers because we were the ones who were never invited to the party.” This was at the last Willamette Writers Conference I went to several years ago. Of course, this pithy line was part of a hilarious story he shared about an exclusive yacht party he’d been invited to because he was now “THE Chuck Palahniuk, Famous Author.” But he was so right it hurt. A publishing industry constructed on popularity dynamics becomes an environment where the creative minds of voyeuristic screwballs cannot and will not thrive.

I remember many of the agents and editors wanted something that was “a lot like Jodi Picoult.” A lot were looking for Urban Fantasy, which was really hot at that time. One agent suggested I rewrite my pre-Industrial Revolution fairy tale of Ella Bandita into an Urban Fantasy, and maybe she’d be interested. What did I write that was a lot like what somebody else had written? We were encouraged to define ourselves as effective copycats of somebody else who had already succeeded.

They were looking for the next hot book to be the next runaway bestseller. It was all about money.

The world was addicted to self-help. A non-fiction book on how to lose 100 pounds in 6 months or less, or how to get rich in 3 years, would have a shot. But the fiction market was shriveling up.

I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with ambition, wanting to do a good job, wanting to be successful, or even wanting to make a profit. But there has to be a limit and there has to be balance. And if the publishing houses want profitable stories, they need to nourish and support the weirdoes who will be the ones to bring them something different – that might actually become that next runaway bestseller. But you have to support them, not choke them. Creative minds don’t flourish under pressure like that.

Also, the upstart Amazon was stirring things up at this time.

With the burgeoning ebook market, Amazon was coming out with guns blazing and suddenly, there was an endless vista of possibility for self-published authors. Many agents and editors expressed nervousness about what was happening, because of course, Amazon was totally undercutting the Monolith of New York Publishing and their overpriced books. One agent compared Amazon and the state of publishing as the Wild West where anything goes because it was lawless. In other words, New York Publishing was no longer all-powerful and invincible. What was going on at that time would change the world forever, when it came to publishing and even better, doing away with the stigma of self-publishing. It’s a badge of courage to claim yourself as an Indie Author. It also sounds more rock star.

Of course, publishing and those who played in that arena have adapted to the changing market and what needs to be done. The Big 6 publishers are still going strong. But there are now hybrid authors who do both traditional and self-publishing. Even those with Big Publishing Houses behind them still have to do all the promotion that Indie Author has to.

Back to this past weekend…

Since I didn’t go to any of the panels with agents and editors lined up like ducks in a row, I have no idea the current attitude of the players from the Big Publishing World. So there’s no way to compare then and now.

It was refreshing to go to a Conference, and not give a hoot who the agents and editors were - unless they were freelance and good, but stalking is not necessary; I can simply hire one. I’m sure there were writers stalking agents, but none of those sharks was me.

Instead I focused on the classes geared towards Indie Authors, what I could learn, and the only thing I kept an eye out for were other writers who needed a writers’ group. I found them too. In the classes geared towards Indie Authors. Our first meeting is at the end of the month.

So, in this long game built on relationships, perhaps now, I’m on the right path.

Thanks for reading!





Cage Escape Quest Dragons Home







This is the “Inverted C.” I learned this basic story structure about twenty years ago during a 9-month Writers Workshop at the University of Washington in Seattle. I really, truly desperately wanted to become a novelist, and I had no idea how to get started. Being a voracious reader of novels did not make me adept at writing them.

The Inverted C is very similar to the Joseph Campbell’s narrative structure that is known as the Hero’s Journey. I like the Inverted C because it is simple and flexible. However, if anybody struggles with a Quest cursed with a sagging middle, the Hero’s Journey would help to flesh out the meat of the story.

The Inverted C is perfect for beginners. Over the years, I’ve shared this in 5-10 minutes with friends who were natural writers, but didn’t know what to do when it came to structuring a story.

When it comes to the Inverted C: 1. The arc of the entire novel is to fit the curve of the Inverted C; 2. Every chapter is to be structured on the Inverted C; 3. Every character should have an inverted C storyline, even the minor players.

For the purposes of simplicity, I’ll stick with the protagonist.

Cage:  This is where the Protagonist begins. The Cage could be attractive, the protagonist a Lucky Dude who has everything – beautiful and loving wife/girlfriend (or both), exciting career, beautiful home, Master of the Universe status, etc. Or the cage could be the prison of misery. A Wretched Dude has a broken spirit, broken bank, addiction, depression, despair, etc.

Escape:  Enter the Intruder and the Protagonist leaves the Cage. The Intruder can be a friend or a foe. A murderer could kill the Lucky Dude’s beautiful wife/girlfriend (or both), and the character is now kicked out of his Cage of a wonderful life. Or Wretched Dude could be visited by an angel or a demon (or both) and be challenged to change, heal, grow, or perish. Thus Wretched Dude leaves his miserable life to start the Quest.

Quest: What does Protagonist want? What does Protagonist yearn for? No Longer Lucky Dude wants vengeance for his dead and beautiful wife/girlfriend (or both). So he has to find the killer, find why the killer chose him and his loved ones, figure out the best revenge for killer, and meet all kinds of characters along the way, one of whom is a Comely Lady Cop. Wretched But Wanting a Better Life Dude yearns for wholeness, healing, abundance, and redemption. Wretched Dude is in a battle against himself and his inner demons that lead him to make such bad decisions. He still meets friends and foes along the way, those who would help him grow and heal, and those who would keep him stuck, addicted, and toxic. These adventures and journeys make up the bulk of the novel story.

Dragons: The moment of truth. Challenges/confrontations lead to the Crucial Choice. Not Lucky Dude finds the killer of his wife/girlfriend (or both), and they battle. He has his chance to torture and kill the killer, and avenge her death (or their deaths). But he has met the Comely Lady Cop is on his tail, knowing that he is on the killer’s tail. Does he let Comely Lady Cop bring killer to justice or does he take it in his own hands? Not So Wretched Dude has conquered his addictions and is feeling renewed hope in life. He goes to a party to celebrate his acceptance into school, but there are cocaine and a Hooker there. The Hooker’s Pimp is a dealer and it is her job to get Not So Wretched Dude back into his addictions. She pressures him to snort and swallow. Wretched Dude feels an uprising of his self-loathing and takes that silver straw to snort. But then he thinks of all he could have ahead of him. Does he give in to habit and the temptation of his weaknesses, or does he choose redemption and the unknown of a sweeter life?

Home: The destination at the end of the Quest. Back to the original Cage, on to an open wide Vista, or descending into a deeper and darker Cage. Has the protagonist changed? Or did the protagonist remain the same. What did the protagonist learn? Did the protagonist find liberation or did the protagonist die? Home can be anything from a happy ending to the abyss of despair to emptiness. Lucky Dude could become Transcendent Dude if he forgives killer enough and chooses a second chance at joy and love with Comely Lady Cop. Or Lucky Dude could become Convict Dude in the Cage of prison by killing killer and getting caught by Comely Lady Cop who lives by her Cop-ly duties even with a man she’s fallen in love with. Wretched Dude could become Healer Dude if he says no to cocaine and the Hooker, goes on to school, and becomes a therapist. Or Wretched Dude could become Homeless Dude because he succumbs, and goes down the spiral until he loses absolutely everything.

If every chapter and every character has the story curved on an Inverted C, and you’re golden. This works for short stories, novellas, plays, screenplays, novels, and it would probably work well with poems too. This is a structure, not a formula. And it is ancient. Myths and fairy tales are structured along the Inverted C. Even Pulp Fiction was told along the Inverted C. Every character in that crazy movie had an Inverted C storyline that was spliced up and rearranged.

Hope this helps. Thank you for reading and happy writing!

Great Expectations and the Death of Common Sense - On the Road #2


This 2nd email from my road trip journal is of the first event I did on a year long booktour roadtrip of telling stories and selling a book out of my rig - the Beast. Looking back, I can't believe my mindset. I really was half cocked and had no idea what I was doing! It is a huge regret of my life that I did not get any pictures from that time. These photos here are much more luxurious than what I had to work with at that time, but they evoke the "vibe" I was going for in setting up my first booth for my first attempt at DIY writer/storyteller glory. Enjoy!

Oh Expectation!

That enemy of common sense, I had a mighty vision of massive book sales dancing in my head as I drove my poor, little, injured Brown Beast to the end of the road - also known as Homer, Alaska. There was a Concert on the Lawn weekend event happening in a town that was known for its artistic hippies. It was my first stop. How could anything go wrong? I pushed my broken Beast to the limit to get there.

The bands were my first clue that my vision and reality were not in alignment. Many of the bands playing were the baby-faced offspring of the artistic hippies. Therefore, most people in the audience

But, I get ahead of myself...

I made a new friend at a coffee shop. Something about living in your rig really makes for fast and furious bonding glue when you meet somebody who's doing the same thing. Ann had arrived in Homer four weeks before from Montana. She's one of those who always needs something to do, so Ann was more than happy to play the role of my lovely assistant in setting up the cheap Wal-Mart special that was my canopy, and lining it with silk tapestries and sarongs, and putting blankets and pillows on the ground, as well as scented candles to make our booth smell nice. The idea was to make our space more appealing to the passerby. Our master plan was that people would be lured in by the atmosphere, would want to come in and sit for a spell while I captivate them with stories about my heart-eating anti-heroine. My mythical audience would be so enthralled they would have to buy the book. Of course, they would. To find out what happens next.

It didn’t exactly work out that way.

One thing I didn’t consider was how loud the music would be blaring into my cozy, seductive, storytelling space. Kind of hard to create a mesmerizing-sit-down-and-chill-so-you-will-buy-my-stories vibe when the background music is the off key screeching of 14-year-old punk rockers. They might have even been twelve.

As the day passed, several people asked how much the sarongs were. Even though there were books displayed with price tags. Many commented on how cozy we looked as they passed by. One guy offered me ten dollars to sit under the booth while Laura Love was playing, if it started to rain. He did end up being my last sale of the day.

But that's not the point.

Three teenage girls came up to the booth and said: "Okay, we're gonna do it. How much for all three of us?" Fortunately, by that time, word came around that everybody thought I was fortune teller reading tarot cards, so at least I wasn't caught off guard. When I told the girls I was a writer selling a book, they sneered and walked off. These kids wanted face paint, exoticism, and angsty teenage punk rock played by kids who had been doted on by their parents.

Enough said.

A red-headed Tinkerbell who came to my booth, declared she had participated in

the love-ins of the 60’s. She said that's what my booth reminded her of. I wasn’t sure what to make of that, but decided to take it as a compliment.

An artist/writer named Nancy said "Eeewww" when I told her what Ella Bandita was about. Her disgust about my character was not enough to repel her away from my booth, however. Nancy proceeded to tell stories from her own life, about how much she had gotten jacked. She took up all the space – physically and psychically – and managed to repel any people who came by and showed some interest in my booth and my book. Possible customers craned their necks around her, but couldn’t seem to fit past the chip on her shoulder. So they moved on. After a few minutes of me saying: “Thanks for stopping by, Nancy. Nice to meet you! And have a great day!” Nancy finally left, after telling me she didn’t like to receive hugs from “strange women.”

I hadn’t been inspired to hug her.

A very sweet Swiss guy named Remo bought a book on CD after buying the collection of stories. He is in Homer, living in his van and staying out on the spit. Really, the fellowship of homeless travelers is pretty gorgeous. The next day, Remo brought me people to buy my book. One dude he roped in didn’t buy anything, but he sold me the “Key to Art” for $50. This Key to Art was mixed with chocolate, so it would even taste better.

Day one. 10 “Ella Bandita and other stories” sold. 2 “Why Roses Have Thorns” and 1 book on CD of “Ella Bandita.” That morning, I had had grand visions of 50 books a day. That evening, I knew that was unrealistic. It’s good to have dreams, I suppose. But it’s not so good to be attached to them.

The 2nd day came with tempered expectations and a more reasonable sense of promise. A guy who had stopped by the booth at the Concert on the Lawn, and had shown interest in the book but didn’t buy it was at the coffee shop that morning. I was there to brush my teeth and recharge my battery with a frothing mocha. His sister prompted him to buy the book before I got the Concert on the Lawn.

Ann and I rearranged the interior to make it more open. People were stopping by for a reading earlier and things were looking up. Around 3pm, I noticed a common trend that much of the interest coming my way was not exactly from my target market. It seemed a lot of interest was from 55 year old men who wanted to know me better. I’m no complaining. At least, not really.

In all, I sold 22 books. One was an exchange with the Reverend Poor Child and his CD of love songs. I didn’t have the heart to say no to a trade. Within hours, somebody told me that the Reverend Poor Child was considered the bad seed in town, and to “stay the f*** away from him.”

Oh gossip! Oh small towns! A friend in Juneau who knew the Reverend Poor Child from Anchorage didn’t go quite that far. But she did say that he was a prick.

This is an adventure. I’m meeting lots of really cool people and having a lot of fun.

Miss y’all.


Struggle with the Juggle? 40 days to Healthy Habits!


Hey y’all,

Did you know that it takes 40 days to change a habit?

According to the late Yogi Bhajan, it is so. It also takes 90 days to confirm the new habit; after 120 days, the new habit is who you are; and if you keep it up for 1000 days, you have mastered the new habit.

I’ve found that 120 days will make some profound changes. 120 days was enough to quit smoking. I did this by replacing a bad habit with a good one. Instead of puffing on a cigarette, I practiced the Kundalini breathing exercises Yogi Bhajan passed on to Western culture. I focused on 1 or 2 meditations and mantras at a time for 40-day runs. At the end of that winter, I had transformed into a non-smoker rather than an ex-smoker craving a cigarette. That was more than 15 years ago. Some would say Yogi Bhajan was a cult leader. And maybe that is true. Either way, smoking is a gnarly addiction for a lot of people; it was for me, so the man and his memory have my respect, as well as my gratitude. Since then the 40-day method has been my standard go-to when it comes to making constructive changes in my life.

I’ll get back to this later.

A few days ago, a gentleman responded to a meme on my Twitter page about writer’s block. From what he had to say with very young children to raise, I gathered that he doesn’t have time to write. Since I’m new to parenting via the stepmother path, I could sort of relate to what he was talking about.

I got to thinking about all we have to juggle in life – and then there’s the writing. It’s a balancing act that I’m not comfortable with. There was a time when I had the time to isolate for several weeks to write a rough draft because I didn’t really have to worry about anybody but myself. Even if the loneliness of being that single got to me so much that I suffered some serious writer’s block as a result, I miss having that kind of space to immerse myself in another world. Now, I only get 2 hours of daily writing time - 4 if I’m lucky - before I have to move on with everything else that needs to be done.

As an independent author, I’m also a publisher. I have to find my editors, artists, graphic designers, printers, and whoever else will be involved in the process of giving birth to a new book.

Independent author or not, there’s no getting away from all the social media stuff that needs to be done. Instead of simply working on the creative juice of novels and stories, writers now have to have a platform. We have to blog, tweet, pin, Facebook, and Instagram, etc. all for the sake of getting our name out there in the hopes that the world knows our stuff exists and will come to read it and love it. Published authors have to do the social media thing just as much as the Indies do.

Then there is the stuff of life - relationship, friendships, parenting, day jobs for most people, and beloved hobbies for those who have the time. Maybe it’s just me, but it seems there are much more demands on time and attention and energy than there ever have been before. Or maybe it’s because a child has been thrown into the mix of life, and I’m still getting used to that.

I’ve never been organized in my life, and now I have to be at least a little competent at it. Which brings us back to habits because I had to improve mine.

So about that 40-day method of creating healthy habits…

Or 90 day.

Or 120 day.

In March, I made a commitment of 4 small yet mighty changes of habit - daily meditation, walking, chores, and writing. I started the day with meditation and walking before getting my morning coffee. Then I wrote at least 2 pages every day and did at least 1 chore.

Yesterday was Day 120.

Small changes lead to big results.

Meditation has balanced me a lot more and I can concentrate so much more. I’ve lost about 15 pounds from walking – just walking. I usually write more than 2 pages a day. One chore often leads to at least another chore, sometimes 2 or 3 more. I’m not saying that I’m a neat freak now, but I tidy more than I used to and it has made a difference in how functional I am. In 120 days, I’ve finished a rough and messy draft of a novel. I’m almost finished with rewriting and polishing a fairy tale I wrote years ago.

I’ve been more productive during the last 120 days than I have been in years. With all the demands on my time and energy, I’m more productive than I was when I had the time and space to dive into an imaginary world for weeks at a time.

Just in case anybody would like a to-do checklist on consciously changing habits, I got some great tips from the guys at JumpCut, and their Viral Academy on making Youtube videos. Here ya go:

1) Identify the bad habit you need to change.

We lie to ourselves all the time about our habits, and justify them. Don’t do that.

2) Replace the bad habit with a good one.

We rely on our habits to get through the day. Taking away a bad habit without putting something else in its place won’t work. For example: Meditate for 5-10 minutes first thing in the morning, instead of opening your phone to check Facebook. Or do deep breathing exercises that will give you a head rush instead of reaching for a cigarette. That’s what I did.

3) Plant a seed habit.

Start small and build from there. It helps if you put yourself in the position that you have to do it. That makes it easier to do it every day. For example: Walk or ride bike to work. Write 2 pages before checking social media, etc.

4) Don’t break the chain.

This is where the 40 days comes in. If you don’t have a wall calendar, get one. Put a big fat X in any color you want on each day that you do your new, healthy habit. Do this for as many days as you can. Doing this feels deliciously satisfying.

If you make it to 40, try to push it to 90 days. Maybe spread to 120 days. And then…

I should probably aim for 1000 days to make sure these new habits stay with me forever.

Are there any writers out there who have any healthy habit forming tricks you’d like to share? What tools do you have to make it all happen? If you have any insights, please check in with a comment or two. Check in if you struggle with the juggle. Because I’m pretty sure we all do.

Thanks for reading.






The Joy of Memes


Hey y’all,

So… I’m making memes now. It was that something new learned this week.

For the record, I’m very proud of the meme that starts this blog.

In my personal life, I’m addicted to Facebook in a love/hate kind of way. My partner hates it and I wouldn’t say I love it, but it’s become a habit. An annoying habit. Anybody who is not addicted to any kind of social media and does not participate -especially if that somebody isn’t a hermit in a cave somewhere in the Rockies – has my respect.

But I’m a sucker for memes, especially the good ones. It’s such a succinct way to get a pithy message across with words and a visual. Thanks to my flailing in the world of Pinterest, I came across a blog on how to make memes.

So I read it, and started. And I think I’m kind of hooked.

If I’m not careful memes will take over and I will stop writing. And that would be a bad, bad thing. Perhaps these are natural growing pains that come with donning lots of new hats?

It’s good for my brain to learn new things. That’s what I’m telling myself right now. I’m overwhelmed. I’m trying to embrace it.

But I loved learning about memes. I made 10 memes on my first day. Self-expression feels good to choose images and quotes – sometimes I even use my own. Or I use an image from the piece of artwork from Ella Bandita with a punch that fits in in a different way, and thus alters the meaning. The possibilities are endless. So what’s not to love?  

The best part is that I already taught something the day after I learned it. My friend and former housemate, Cole is stepping in to help and I taught her how to make memes too. The ones she made were completely different from mine, but fabulous! Maybe we will rock cyber space with our fresh take on things and our memes that go viral.

Or maybe we’ll simply do a great job of getting people’s attention to this website and my stories. Because that’s what I’m really here for, you know?

What about you, dear reader? Do you like to pass the time making memes, finding memes, or both? What are some of your favorites? Let’s have some show and tell, please.



PS: Here’s the link to a site that makes it really, really easy to make a meme:

PPS: Cole found her medium through the Adobe Spark app. And here is one of hers.




On the Road #1


In 2005, I was extremely blessed to receive a grant from the Rasmussen Foundation in Anchorage, Alaska to self-publish a collection of original fairy tales and hit the road, telling stories and selling a book out of the back of my truck. I was on the road for a year. It was one of the greatest adventures of my life. I kept an email journal that I sent out to my friends, which eventually became a blog due to one of my friends being into it on I don't know if that site is still up, but if it is, my blog is not there. And self-publishing has changed a lot since then. We rely far more on the internet and more people are doing what I did now. Whereas no other writers were then. Anyway, it seems fitting as adventures in self-publishing continue to resurrect those stories from that time. It is a huge regret of my life that I did not get any pictures of me in my beloved Beast from that time. But above is a picture that looks a lot like the old rig that I traveled in. Enjoy!


Ode to the Brown Beast
King of Resilience
(At least, I hope so)

Cursed be the blockhead that twisted the oil cap too

The Brown Beast lost precious blood on the first run
of his long journey.

Clanking its death rattle into Tok, Alaska,
the rider of the Brown Beast was alarmed to
receive the news from a twelve year old with braces
that the Brown Beast would be lucky to make it to

The Brown Beast would need bypass surgery, if not a

"It's got an old heart, and old hearts get tired," 
said the shaman grandfather of the boy.

The boy offered to buy the Brown Beast, if the rider
cared to sell...

No, the rider most certainly did not.
Fear not! 

The Brown Beast rattled and rolled its way out of Tok,

determined to make its way to the City of Muck.

The death rattles wound down to an occasional clank on
slowing to a walk and stop, and the rider was
reassured. Sort of.

The Brown Beast made its way to the city, coming to
life when called upon to do its duty.

But the need for a doctor is imminent, if not

Will the Brown Beast ride again, valiantly to the end
of the road, holding out for the Carnival?

Or is it a terminal case?

Either way it sucks that my emergency fund is needed,
oh... immediately.

At least I had a place to crash...


Why Do We Pin?

spiral staircase.jpg

Hey y’all,

It is overwhelming taking the helm and learning the steps of the social media dance that Jessica set up in the last four years. On one hand, I’ve never been a huge fan of social media. Yet, on the other hand, I use it in my personal life and I’m a little addicted – my partner would say I’m addicted A LOT. Be that as it may, I might as well use it for my work and work with it until I “get it,” which I really don’t right now.

I will learn a lot in the coming months. I’m pinning on Pinterest without a clear idea as to why I should do this. I’ve heard that it has helped with driving traffic towards my website, where people can find out I exist and about my work, etc. So I’m going through these images and pinning, without really understand what I’m doing.

Also, this lovely young woman I interviewed - who is likely to be the book designer for The Golden Pedestal - said she used to use Pinterest as a knitter, but she has found it to be full of ads and not as useful as a marketing tool. I'm scared she may be right, but I don't know enough to know that yet. So I continue to pin on a daily basis, and hopefully that will do something wonderful. And if it doesn't, I'm sure another social media site will come up and maybe I'll get in on that as the wave is coming up, not after it has peaked and crested and fallen down.

But I'm here now and I can see why people get really into Pinterest. It’s pretty amazing all the stuff I am finding there. In fact, it's fascinating enough that it’s distracting me from what I should really be doing.

Which is writing…

Any extra insights on how and why to use Pinterest would be gratefully appreciated. Thoughts?



Tiny Victory and Giant Satisfaction!


Hey y’all,

Something wonderful happened for me on June 30th and I’m so excited!

For the first time, somebody bought an ebook off of my website!!!

As silly as I feel getting euphoric over 1 penny less than a dollar, it is so thrilling to have made a sale off my website and not Amazon.

How did this happen? I look forward to the day when I won’t be certain of the answer to this question. But in this instance, I do know.

I was browsing a royalty free website for pictures that might work for a video I’m putting together. Yet instead of taking advantage of the free pictures, I donated a dollar per picture to all the photographers. As a writer who has done my fair share of giving away excerpts and doing storytelling for donations, I prefer to support other artists who are in the same boat as me. Any sale, no matter how small, gives me a boost. It gives me hope that maybe…someday…this will actually work and I will actually make a livable salary off work I love to do. Out of all the photographers who I supported, one came back to my website and supported me with a purchase.

It made my day! I was high off the sale, but it warmed my heart that another artist came back and supported me.

So to anybody who reads this and is tempted…well, go ahead and check out my ebooks and get the one that looks good to you.

Which ebook did the photographer pick? The sexy one. Of course. He picked “Challenge,” the ebook that is censored by Amazon because they don’t like sensuality and skin.

That also made me happy.



Many Thanks and Happy Trails!



Hey y’all,

This is Montgomery Mahaffey writing, the author behind Free Flying Press. Allow me to introduce myself, because the manager for Free Flying Press, Jessica Cox, has been doing the blogging for the past few years.

I’d like to thank Jessica from the bottom of my heart for her excellent work over the last four years. As the manager and promotions consultant, Jessica has single-handedly created the infrastructure for Free Flying Press, and I could not have done this without her. This pipe dream of mine would have tanked had she not been here.

But now, Jessica is moving on to new opportunities with her own business - Work Lunch PDX. For anybody who wants to have healthy, vegan, plant-based, and delicious lunches made with love and delivered to you, check out her new gig at – you will not regret it. The picture is a lovely one of her next to the array of gorgeous food she did for my book release party 4 years ago! It was not all vegan, but it was delicious!

From here on out, it will be me doing the blogging, as well as trying to follow in the footsteps of the social media dance Jessica developed as I try to figure out my own.

So yeah, my input and feedback is likely to be very different from Jessica’s, but I hope all y’all enjoy it!

Change is beautiful. Good times!




Fantasy Chose Me: A guest blog by Author Fiona Tarr

Jericho Cover - 2HC.jpg

Every so often we get a great up and coming author to share with you their personal story. Today we have Fioina Tarr, an Australian Fantasy writer.

Dig in as she discusses why she writes fantasy, and gives you an update about her latest work!

I have often wondered why I chose fantasy as a genre, but I have come to realise that I think it chose me.

Like most kids, I used my imagination; singing like a superstar in front of the mirror or making spaceships with sheets and cushions in the living room on sleep over nights, but fantasy is another step away from reality; or so I used to believe.

I became addicted to the fantasy genre when I read British author David Gemmell (since deceased). His novels are full of magic with good and evil characters, but what I most enjoyed about his writing style was how his evil characters often turned out to be heroes and his heroic leaders were sometime quite nasty people in private. This got me thinking how fantasy was not really so far removed from our reality as I had once thought.  

Now I write fantasy adaptations of Old Testament bibles stories (among other projects).

Depending on who you speak with, the original stores are considered anything from pure speculative fiction to religious law. Over the years, as I have researched and worked with these Old Testament stories I have come to understand that although they are old, they still reflect so much of the cultural diversity we find today.  Even though I reproduce my version in a fictional way, the reality and relevance of the context never seems to fade away.

The Jericho Prophecy is more than a retelling of a biblical tale, it is a fantastical reimagining of a time when genocide was normal practise, refugees were often murdered and women were traded as commodities. I never set out to be confrontational with my writing which is why I believe fantasy chose me as a genre, but it is my hope you enjoy the fantasy elements of my books and find the deeper humanity of why I chose to write the way I do. 

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How to Grow as a Writer (and Get Outside Your Comfort Zone)

No matter how hard you try, you can't stay in the same place. The thing is, you can either choose to let life's whims direct you, or you can grab the bull by the horns and see how you are at steering.

If you want to choose your own adventures as a writer that will help you learn more, grow more, and write more (and more better), you should be thinking about ways to push out of your comfort zone and give your creativity more room to wiggle.

dark fantasy fiction blog

I once heard someone talking about growth. He used an interesting metaphor: the lobster. When a lobster grows, he begins to push against his shell. It becomes uncomfortable.

Once the discomfort becomes too great, the lobster retreats to a safe place and sheds his shell, so he can regrow a newer, more roomy shell.

The process repeats.

Growth comes from doing things outside your comfort zone.

This post is all about how to break out of rut of familiarity and routine and into new realms of creativity, growth, and progress.

Routine is good. Routine is bad.

Routine, that thing that gets you out of bed in the morning, has you eat three regular meals a day (or six, like me), and has you brush your teeth before bed.

But routine, when it breeds familiarity and comfort, can be bad.

Creativity benefits from outside perspectives. If you go to the same cafés to write, or hole up in your writing space, you'll suffer from a lack of "fresh air" that can really blow your abilities up.

The fix?

Do | Learn | Discover new things.

You can change up the location of your writing space and see what new influences you can find to stimulate your story.

You can invest in a community college course that will inform you of new ideas, perspectives, and challenge old assumptions.

Make a list of all the things you'd love to do but don't have time for, and DO one of them.

Experiment with a hobby one of your characters has.

Dress like the opposite gender for a day.

Take a day trip to a town you've never been before.

Practice silence. Dedicate a day to complete silence. Even texting.

Read outside your genre. Love mystery and hate romance? Give a top rated romance novel a whirl!

You can come up with your own ideas for how to break out of your comfort zone. And when you do, interesting things will happen.

Leave a comment below with your own suggestion for pushing past your comfort zone!

How to Keep Motivation High While Working Alone

The writer's life is a lonely one.

Especially as a self-published author, you are your own boss, responsible for your own deadlines and schedule.

When you've got a new idea for a book, it's easy to get fired up and spend hours on end writing your heart out. But I've often found that many authors experience a slump in the middle of writing a novel. When all that brand new excitement has drained out into thousands of black marks on a page.

When difficulty sets in.

When you really have to start figuring out plot devices and how to reconcile issues, or even realizing that the tense is wrong for what you're about to undertake.

Or maybe life rears its complicated hydra-heads and you cut back on your writer hours in favor of focusing on your family, your work, or anything else.

For whatever reason, if you've found motivation and passion for writing isn't at the level you'd like it to be, here are a few ways to keep your motivation revving, even when you're feeling overwhelmed.

How to Keep Motivation High While Working Alone

Work Out Your Passion Muscles

Stephen King famously said that waiting around for your muse to show up isn't the job a writer. The job a writer is to write. If you show up every day, on time, and get down to work, you're doing the writer's job. But let's be honest, not every day is going to be filled with the same level of motivation and excitement. The key here is to not fall into a slump where you've been so unmotivated for so long that writing begins to feel like a drag.

Fact: your mood is made up largely by your physiology.

Imagine this: you're sitting at your desk, slumped down in your chair, neck forming double, triple chins where there weren't any before. Your fingers smack the keyboard sloppily. How are you feeling about your writing? How can you possibly feel anything but unmotivated, tired, and bored?

Now imagine this: you're sitting at your desk, feet planted solidly on the floor, your back erect and your chin jutting out as if you're a Royal espousing a new decree. Your fingers hit each key with confidence and vigor. How are you feeling about your writing? Even if your head is saying, "this sucks, I suck" you won't be stuck there for long. You can't be.

Harvard social psychologist Amy Cuddy has revealed that the way you carry your posture actually affects the amount of hormones in your body. You're not simply tricking your body to be more motivated, alert, and powerful when you adopt a particular body posture, you're changing your physical and mental landscape.

So the next time you're feeling lackluster about writing, try changing your posture to one that's brimming with power, energy, and excitement.

Practice this daily. As often as you can. Someone once said if you think you can go around your day feeling 80% unmotivated and disinterested, it's ridiculous to expect you can turn on passion and drive for the 20% when you really need it.

Bring passion and excitement into everything you do and it will spill naturally over to those more difficult tasks, like writing.

Enlist a Buddy

If you're finding writing alone is a lonely pursuit, and you'd rather not be stuck at home alone or in a noisy café anonymously plugging away at the keyboard, enlist a writing buddy or join a writers group. You may thinking of this as a non-option because working with a friend or in a group would mean you're too distracted, but if you establish a few ground rules at the beginning, like using the first 5-10 minutes to chat and catch up, and then 20-30 of uninterrupted writing time, you've successfully navigated that problem.

Writing buddies or groups can help you hold yourself accountable. You don't even need a physical buddy to do this. You can have a writer friend that you've met online hold you accountable by requiring you to send them x pages or chapters by a specific deadline.

Having someone else holding you accountable helps you not slack off, and can be a productive way to reinvigorate your motivation if you find it slipping.

Use Novelty

If your motivation is really flagging, change something! Your passion for writing has always been there, you know that. So when you're feeling unmotivated to write, just think: it's not me. Your environment can go a long way in affecting your motivation. Maybe you've been writing in your home office for the past few months and the routine environment is hacking away at your excitement.

To fix this, try switching things up, like working from a coffee shop, college library, or hotel lobby. I used to have a few specific places I could rotate through so that novelty stayed fresh and I wouldn't fall into boredom simply because I was too used to the locations I was writing from.

Novelty can work in other ways too. If you always write in the morning, try switching to writing at night. If you write on the computer, try switching to a notebook for a little while. These hacks can boost creativity and inspire you when you find yourself flagging.

Track Accomplishments

There's no better way to keep your motivation high than to acknowledge you're doing good work and making progress. After all, one you've written the book your ultimate goal is over. That moment of true completion is so brief, so your motivation better not be coming from the idea of having a book finished or you're doomed. 99% of your time is spent on writing, so your achievements are coming not by finishing the book, but by making progress.

Log your accomplishments at the end of each day and you'll be inspired to continue every day. After a while, those achievements are going to add up: 30 pages, 50 pages, 100 give yourself a boost of happiness by celebrating certain milestones you set for yourself.

Stay inspired. Stay writing.

Please share any other motivation tips you've used in the comments below!

How to Simplify the Writing Life

Remember when all you needed was a feather quill and a roll of parchment and you could be a world-renowned writer?

Now the writing life is a negotiation between your job, your six hungry kids, all of your day to day distractions (I’m talking about you, facebook) and worst of all, writing is no longer the “just sit at your desk and write” practice it used to be.

Our computers are equipped with a millions of distractions; our desks cluttered with the business of our lives; our minds focused on so many other things, like whether or not we fed the cat.

If you’re lucky enough to persevere and find a way beyond all this to an actual written work, you know you’ve got to slug through the world of marketing and promotion.

It’s overwhelming.

It’s time consuming.

It sucks.

So I’ve put together 3 tips (yeah, just 3, because if you had 100 this would all just go into the pile of “oh my gosh it’s too much I can’t handle it” and you won’t get anything out of simplifying the writerly life.

Tip #1: Distraction-free writing

Do you know how often you’re distracted? I mean really, truly. How many minutes a day (or hours) do you spend on instagram, facebook, snapchat, and the like? How many articles do you read about writing once the anxiety of facing the blank page kicks in? How many times do you get up to go to the bathroom/wash the dishes/make food/pet the cat when you should be in the middle of a writing session?

Writing is HARD. Thus, it’s uncomfortable. Sometimes you’ll get into a flow and the time will fly by. But sometimes you’ll hit a tough spot and unconsciously reach for your phone, to check a fact/the weather/your likes.

Distraction free writing means that NOTHING is taking your energy and focus away from your writing time.

Even if that’s just 15 minutes. Even if that’s 4 hours.

No open tabs. No phone. Fill your water bottle and have a snack handy and sit down and don’t get back up.

Here’s a rundown of how to make truly distraction-free writing happen:

To make distraction free writing UBER easy, utilize a distraction free app.

Not 6 of them. Just 1.

Enter: Focus Writer


  • TXT, basic RTF, and basic ODT file support

  • Timers and alarms

  • Daily goals

  • Fully customizable themes

  • Typewriter sound effects (optional)

  • Auto-save (optional)

  • Live statistics (optional)

  • Spell-checking (optional)

  • Multi-document support

  • Sessions

  • Portable mode (optional)

  • Translated into over 20 languages

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...and put it somewhere away from you, like in a kitchen drawer or another room. Don’t just put it on silent. The fact that it’s still alive and lurking somewhere darkly without you can still pull irresistibly on your consciousness.

Make sure everyone in the house knows not to disturb you.

You may still pet the cat.

Tip #2: Set goals

Setting goals will help you achieve them. Kind of a no-brainer; you can’t hit what you don’t aim at. So whether that’s a word count you’d like to make, or a set period of time in front of your word processor, define a clear, achievable goal before you start, and don’t stop until you make it.

Tip #3: Distill marketing and promos to one category

The most daunting task of all as a writer comes after writing the book.

If you’re self-publishing, marketing and promotion falls on your shoulders.

With the self-publishing industry gaining a lot of popularity over traditional printing, bloggers and websites dedicated to helping you market your book have been vying for attention for Google’s top results page.

It’s hard to market yourself. Especially if you don’t already have a background in marketing. So aren’t you supposed to slog through hundreds of articles reading the results of a hundred real people who did a ton of things to break through to the best seller lists?

Realistically? No. It’s a clear path to overwhelm, yet again.

So what do you do?

PICK ONE thing and stick to it until it either works, or you’re absolutely sure it’s a sh*t strategy.

Fragmenting your focus while you try and boost Amazon sales through keywords, instagramming hashtags, signing up for promos, and paying for facebook ads is a lot.

It means your focus doesn’t go to any one thing so you can do that one thing really well and then move onto another thing.

So to start, find the one person who gives you a strategy you agree with and do ONE thing from that strategy until you’ve locked it in tight. Then move onto another strategy.

When I first started marketing Ella Bandita and the Wanderer, I used Nick Stephenson’s strategy for building an email list. Once I got it dialed in, I found about 700 people had subscribed to my email list.

Then I knew it was time to move onto another area of focus: paid promotions.

A lot of the promotions I made bombed. So I scaled back to free promotions, hoping to understand the best ways to use these before either a) considering promos a failure for me, or b) conquering them and moving onto another strategy.

Work strategy by strategy until you start to see results!

I hope this was helpful and you’re ready to take a step towards simplifying your writer life!

Character Spot Light: Ella Bandita

Ella Bandita isn't your typical fantasy protagonist. She's ugly. She seeks out bad men to destroy them. She's contemptuous and confident. And she's got hidden vulnerability that flashes only every so often.

Ella Bandita is a badass anti-hero who struggles with her own feelings of grief, loss, and identity as she hunts down her prey.

Here's a chance to find out why Ella Bandita lures men into traps to steal their hearts, and what makes her vulnerable despite having lost her own heart a long time ago.

Introducing: Ella Bandita, Thief of Hearts

  “Your face is so ugly, it’s beautiful.”   

“Your face is so ugly, it’s beautiful.”

At first, Ella Bandita didn't have a name. Until she reached her 20th year no one called her by any name. She was tolerated by the Patron's servants, but shunned by her father, the Patron, and the rest of the village community.

Brief glimpses into her past suggest a sad upbringing, but not without bouts of freedom riding through the fields, and the hint of a child hood love.

Unable to go on with a life lacking in love and decency, the girl decides to end it all and prepares to throw herself into an icy river, dangerous with rocks and a wild current.

But a hand stays her demise...

From the novel:

“There’s a better way.”

His voice rang clear, even over the thrashing water. The girl froze, and her fear exploded
into terror. She could feel him right behind her, standing at her right shoulder. Turning her head, she saw that the Sorcerer of the Caverns looked just like the Cook had always described him. His hair and beard were the color of dust, hanging in matted ropes to his waist. Lines were etched into the papery skin of his face and his frame was shrunken from the unnatural passage of time. The blood drained from her face and her head grew light. The girl opened her mouth, but no words came out. She should have known better than to come here. Pieces of legend about the Sorcerer came to mind. He’d been born an ordinary man until he sold his soul for the powers of magic. Then he preyed on virgin girls so he would never die.

The girl is given a choice...continue her life of sorrow, or earn knowledge of the dark arts of seduction. 

Thus, the woman who will become Ella Bandita's education begins.

From the author:

I once heard an editor say: "Don't tell me your story is about love and redemption because all stories are about love and redemption." She was right and mine is no different. But isn't it marvelous how many different stories can come from one theme? My particular take on this theme involves a predatory seductress who is mad, bad, and dangerous to know - and the people who helped shape her, and an adventurer frozen in grief who won't go away because he can't bring himself to go home.

Ella Bandita's world opens up when she meets the Wanderer, a man, like herself, who is full of grief.

Something in her awakens. Having steadily worked through her goal of annihilating vile and contemptuous men in villages around the world, she's paused for a moment upon meeting the wanderer.

character sketch dark fantasy novel

From the novel:

From the abyss between sleep and consciousness, he heard the humming growl. He was confused by the sound until the heavy cloth collapsed, and he woke up with the burden of his tent upon him. Flailing through the canvas, the Wanderer pushed his head and shoulders through the flap into a whirlwind of dazzling colors.
“Hey!” he shouted. “What are you doing?”
His heart pounded and the Wanderer was suddenly dizzy. He squeezed his eyes shut until the feeling passed.
“How strange. I was about to ask you the same thing.”
The Wanderer recognized her voice. The girl he followed into No Man’s Land had finally come awake, and she was now standing over him with one hand wrapped around her necklace. He swallowed hard. She had the coldest blue eyes he’d ever seen. She opened her palm and dropped a crystal in the folds of her shirt. Her glare seared into him.
“So what are you doing here?” she asked.
The Wanderer felt foolish on his knees with his tent collapsed around him. The girl’s presence was unnerving. Even though she was angry, she made his flesh come alive as soon as he saw her.
“Making myself at home,” he said, stepping out of the heap. “Same as you.”
He noticed that she was dressed like him, in a loose shirt and pants, but she also wore a holster, a small pouch slung around the belt at her left hip, and a pistol and dagger held in sheaths on her right. The Wanderer glanced at her face and saw the corners of her mouth twitching. She might be an adventurer, but not of his kind.

Ella Banita's quest takes a different kind of turn after meeting the Wanderer, as if he woke in her something that had long been dormant. A care for the state of her heart.

To read the rest of the novel and get to know Ella Bandita in depth, get the full novel here.

Top 5 Websites for Indie Authors

I thought it important to put together a list of websites for indie authors, meaning, websites that will help independent authors rise to success with their hard-wrought novels and stories by educating the independent author about how to write, publish, market, make sales, and build a fan base for their work.

There are a few explosive success stories you can read about all over the internet...where one independently published author hit the best seller lists and grew an empire seemingly overnight.

What you don't get to read about are those authors who spent years trying different tactics, waiting for a "big break" that more likely came as a slow upward trend until it steadied out into something less resembling an empire and more of a steady, committed relationship.

As an independent author you aren't beholden to any agent or publisher. You are a direct line to your readers, and must put your readers at the forefront


First on our list is the author marketing course brought to you by best-selling author Nick Stephenson. Stephenson has his marketing formula down pat. His course guides authors to build their own, personal fan base, so that your readers are never in the hands of an unstable platform, like Amazon or Facebook.

By focusing on gathering an email list, you have people to pitch to whenever you have a novel to sell or another book to promote.

First and foremost, indie authors are fan-reliant, meaning you need to grow an audience. Stephenson shows you how to do that organically, and then capitalizes on this organic growth to drive sales.

Imagine a reader picks up your first book for free in exchange for their email address. When your second book releases (or if you'd like to offer it for a promo discount) you've got someone familiar with your work to try and sell to. It's a lot easier to keep a customer than convert a new one, so this strategy is overwhelmingly successful.

Stephenson shows you exactly how to set up these freebie incentives either on your own website or through a sales platform like Amazon, and then guides you through the email correspondence that will keep your readers hooked.

Further, he shows you how to isolate niche keywords in Amazon so your book climbs up the sales ranks and premiers on more likely to be seen recommended book pages.

And if you're ready to start advertising, he's got the facebook marketing strategy for you.

His insights are invaluable to an independent author. If you're confused about marketing your books and how to start grooming your empire, this is a must-have course.

The Creative Penn


No wonder Joanna Penn and Nick Stephenson are buds. They're both hugely successful fiction authors with a massive following for their non-fiction writing and advice for authors.

Joanna Penn has a huge resource built up for independent authors interested in writing, publishing, marketing, and selling their book. She holds a place on the most prestigious Top Websites for Authors lists. Probably because of her willingness to walk authors through the step-by-step process of writing, publishing, selling, and promoting a book.

She has books, blogs, podcasts, and courses all designed to help independent authors maximize their potential.

The Creative Penn is where I first started when I was learning about the independent author marketing process, and even 3 years into it I find a wealth of information at my fingertips when I visit her website.

With interviews from notable indie publishing specialists, such as Steven Spatz from BookBaby, to inspiring posts like this tip-filled gem, she's a goldmine of information and strategy planning for the independent author.



If the first stage of building your independent author empire is gathering up relevant knowledge and tools from people like Nick Stephenson and Joanna Penn, the second stage is building your fan base and foundation for attracting more and more readers.

That's where book websites where readers can leave reviews, engage with the author, and participate in giveaways come in.

There are plenty of new platforms popping up all the time, but one of the oldest and biggest is Goodreads.

Goodreads allow you to join very active groups, and I recommend singing up for reader groups as well as writer groups to really diversify your reach. Many groups are geared toward helping independent authors introduce their works to other authors, get feedback and reviews, and offer tips and suggestions for promotions.

Another really useful way to use a platform like Goodreads is to host giveaways. Giveaways help you draw attention to your book and get it on a lot of "to read" lists, which helps with visibility. Especially if you're in pre-sale mode, giveaways can add a lot of juice to your promotions, and they're free to use! You just need to ship a book to the winner.

Sales Platforms

If you're an indie author you've GOT to be on a sales platform. The most mainstream (and often, lucrative) option is Amazon, but you have to deal with a lot of red tape and corporateness that can feel icky for an indie author.

However, Amazon is a powerful tool in getting your book into readers' hands, especially if you offer ebook versions of a print novel.

Other sales platforms are available, such as Barnes and Noble, Nook, Kobo, etc. If you want to go really indie fringe you can try publishing on sites like Etsy and BigCartel, but these can be a little harder to market with.

*Bonus: if you sign up for Nick Stephenson's 10K readers course, he'll walk you through how to optimize your Amazon pages for more sales. I found his strategies very helpful!



If you're all set with building your author foundation and finding fans for your work, the next step is to promote the heck out of your books.

There are SO many sites offering book promotions. Bookbub is just one. They tend to be very powerful for those whom they accept; but the selection process can be a little tough. My advice is to keep submitting after you've been rejected. It may take months to get accepted, but is well worth it.

Also note that you do have to put some money into these types of promotions, but the return is usually very great. Do your work and research before you commit to any kind of promotion and make sure that the results seem real and replicable for you.

Bonus: Your Website

Of course you should also be putting in a lot of attention to your own website. Make sure it's optimized, introduces the reader to your work in a clear, uncluttered manner, and offers a free incentive to sign up for your email list (a free first book is a great place to start).



Dark Fantasy Romance Writing Prompts from Ella Bandita and the Wanderer

Alright ladies & gents! It's time for another round of dark fantasy romance writing prompts to inspire your own stories and get your writer juices flowing!

The dark fantasy romance writing prompts are proving to be the most popular blog posts we do here over at Free Flying Press, so today I want to come at you with something a little different.

Taking snips and clips from the book, Ella Bandita and the Wanderer, we've crafted writing prompts that are sure to spark your imagination in any direction. You can write backstory based on the prompt or imagine the scene unfolding from the prompt.

Because these are from the novel Ella Bandita and the Wanderer, they each already have a backstory and future scene, but it would be so cool to hear what you come up with! Please share your writing in the comments below!

Dark Fantasy Romance Writing Prompts from Ella Bandita and the Wanderer


dark fantasy romance writing prompts from Ella Bandita and the Wanderer
dark fantasy romance writing prompts from Ella Bandita and the Wanderer
dark fantasy romance writing prompts from Ella Bandita and the Wanderer
dark fantasy romance writing prompts from Ella Bandita and the Wanderer

Enjoy your writing! As always, let us know what work you've done in the comments below!

Best Fantasy Book Art (Roundup)

Every year as I go through and evaluate our yearly stats, one Pinterest board reigns supreme.

Fantasy Art is a hot topic. Why? Because some of the most talented artists gravitate toward the genre, where they can play with magic, mythical creatures, and tell a story with a single painting.

I've been quite obsessed with the fantasy art genre since I was young, and so I thought what better way to end the year with a round up of some of the best fantasy art out there.

*Note to authors: the art on your book cover is extremely important. Many of the top fantasy artists create work that would look so lovely illustrating your novel or gracing its cover. Spend time hunting around and send out some queries to your favorite artists -- you might be surprised with how they respond!

Top Fantasy Art of 2017

Eiich Matsuba is an artist living in Tokyo, Japan. His works are gritty, fantastical, and gorgeous. Almost like a rougher version of Hayao Miyazaki. Though he works in dark colors, there remains something light about each work.

 FireFly Galaxy

FireFly Galaxy

 Nameless Driftage

Nameless Driftage


Tomislav Jagnjic from Belgrade, Serbia, has an incredible style reminiscent of watercolor though he favors digital art. What's most notable about his work is his composition choices, for example, angled lines shot through with light and shadow create landscapes that are both majestic and mythical.

 Brainstorm Challenge

Brainstorm Challenge

 Wolf Rider Speed Paint

Wolf Rider Speed Paint


Quentin Mabille of Paris, France jumps effortless from realism to illustration in works that could easily grace the tv screen for a new magical series. Even his simplest works include meticulous detail that adds to the overall pleasure of looking at his work.

 Old Valley

Old Valley

 Skull Cave

Skull Cave

BANE from St Paul Minnesota is one of my all time favorite artists, and, incidentally, the artist who rendered Ella Bandita and created all of the covers for my novelettes. His work is powerful -- he managed to capture Ella Bandita's ugliness when other artists would make her too beautiful, and still imbued her with a sexiness and allure that helps her ensnare her victims.


Aditya Ikranegara is an Indonesian artist with an extraordinary style. He's one of those rare artists who are able to convey more through a lack of detail -- a sort of blurring of the works that creates raw emotion out of the sidelines.

 Dark Phoenix

Dark Phoenix



Ruiheng Liu from Wuhan, China is the last stop on the art list. He doesn't have a big spread of work on the internet, yet the one piece I discovered is one of my favorites. He's created a magician with a backstory that you can feel from the art itself.




a collaborative erotic writing game

Are you ready to play?

The rules:

1) use one of the following prompts to begin your erotic tale. You can write as much or as little as you like.

2) send what you've written to

3) We'll post your [attributed or anonymous] below the appropriate prompt.

4) Anyone can continue writing where you left off! Just browse the stories, write some more, and we'll keep adding!

It's collaborative erotica and it's a blast to play!

We can't wait to read & share what you've come up with!

The Prompts:


The continuation....

Author: Nonbinary Me

...he knew what I really wanted and I could see it in his eyes! I took flogger out and I could see he was excited. Lay down I tell him, NOW! Roll over! I start softly running the flogger up and down his bare back, then one flog on his firm ass, two flogs.... I know he was loving every minute of it .....


Send your contribution, short or long (size doesn't matter here) to or using the form below!