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December/January Blog: Resolutions

Blog Yellow MidMiss  XCynBest

As the days of December wane, an eager new year waits to embrace us. Have you made resolutions for 2016 yet?

To be perfectly honest with you, 2015 was a bust for me. The two main entries on my list of resolutions for the year were the only things I didn’t do: finish my sequel and exercise regularly. Sounds easy enough to accomplish, right? Wrong! And the irony is that they’re both activities I love. So, what did I do?

  • I put my writer’s retreat in San Antonio up for sale, packed myself, and moved back to Kentucky to be closer to family.
  • I went on several vacations and entertained guests in San Antonio.
  • I spent countless hours—to the detriment of my writing process— on book business, all the behind-the-scenes nuts and bolts of publishing and promoting a book.

That’s about it. Those three things consumed 2015! And here I sit at the end of the year with enormous guilt for lack of productivity in both my resolutions. Did I mention that every moment I spend not writing, I feel guilty? Yeah, I’m one of those authors. But I blame no one but myself. I’m the type of writer who needs everything else to be settled before I sit down and become incarcerated in my story. There was so much extraneous activity on my agenda this past year that concentration was out of the question. But I resolve to change my mindset in 2016!

Before I declare my resolutions for the upcoming year, I want to talk about the psychological importance of making resolutions and why we fail to keep them. Resolutions, which we typically make at the end of a calendar year, make us reflect on our lives, take stock of where we’ve been, and aim for where we want to go. They focus us on what is important to accomplish in the foreseeable future—and, possibly, on what we need to leave behind with the passing year. It’s always great to have a plan, right?

So, why are we rarely able to keep our resolutions past the middle of January? Bottom line: When we focus on extraneous events other than our objectives, we’re hiding from something.

For writers, it generally takes the form of procrastination in starting that new book—or hiding from the emotional drain required to write great prose or poetry. Or we could be hiding from the overwhelming task of querying countless agents and publishers. Since we don’t have a boss hanging over our shoulder (although some writers have an editor biting at their heels), it’s easier and more fun to fritter away our time on social media, blogs, books, or anything other than our writing. Guilty as charged!

Exercise is the same for me. It’s enjoyable alone-time where I can listen to music, think about my current manuscript, and tone my body and mind. But if anything else comes up, exercise is the first to go.

And every other resolution “should” is just the same. So, what can we do to stick with our resolve? Well, your friendly refugee from Over-Thinkers Anonymous has some ideas, of course.

  • Keep regular hours. Regardless of your occupation, find a block of time to practice your resolutions and stick to it! For writers, we need to go to our writing spot, sit our butts down in a chair, and write. That means NO Facebook or social media, NO phone calls (except emergencies), and NO interruptions by family members or friends. Be protective of this designated time! Other people need to respect your personal priorities.
  • Your resolution HAS to become a habit. That means you must make it a priority in your life. It has to come first, and you must become invested in it. Perhaps, you can create little rituals around it to make it more fun. For instance, with exercise, you could use a step counter and calculate your steps or activity per day. Or you could share your progress with friends. Writers often give themselves arbitrary word or page counts to achieve. These little activities keep us interested and make us feel successful. And nothing spurs one on like accomplishment!
  • Remember to be grateful. Gratitude works miracles. I’ve practiced it for years now, and it never fails to bolster my spirits. It makes me take stock and realize how lucky I really am in life. It also feeds on itself. A positive mindset brings positive circumstances.
  • Meditate. Time seems to fly these days, doesn’t it? In this high-pressure tech world, it’s easy to become overwhelmed and fall into bad habits. Meditation slows us down and centers us. It only takes a few minutes, but it makes a world of difference in our mental wellbeing. I now practice it before bed every night, and it has cured my insomnia. In combination, gratitude and meditation keep us grounded and moving forward with our plans for the year.
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What’s on my list of resolutions for 2016? I plan to KISS (Keep it simple, stupid!) this year. This means that I need to say no to extraneous events a little more often, and discard things that don’t serve my resolutions. So, here’s my shortlist for 2016:

  • Finish my sequel manuscript and have it edited by the end of 2016.
  • Exercise every other day—regardless of what my schedule looks like.
  • Stay present and remember to meditate each day.
  • Travel to Europe. I have a few other little trips already planned, but a trip to Great Britain will be the crown on my year!

IMG_0935And that’s my KISS list! What are your 2016 resolutions? I’d love to hear them! Share your opinions and anecdotes in the section below, and, just to prove how much I adore my readers, I’ll send a signed copy of Beautiful Monsters (with matching bookmark) to a randomly drawn commenter. Also, if you enjoyed this blog post, I’d appreciate a “share” on your social media pages. Thanks for stopping by! Happy reading and see you in 2016, tribe.

Remember Sharing is Caring! ❤️

~Cynthia

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November Blog: The Audacity of Singular “They”

Blog Yellow MidMiss      grammar-nazi_o_254474

 

I’m surprised at the number of people—and writers—who are unaware of singular “they.” I’m equally surprised at the number of copy editors who disparage as distastefully ungrammatical the use of singular “they” (and it’s related forms) as a singular pronoun—and want to blue pencil it out of existence. And I suspect you’d be surprised at my relaxed stance over this lexical debate.

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What would you say about the writer of the following sentence? “She kept her head and kicked her shoes off, as everybody ought to do who falls into deep water in their clothes.”

 

Would you tell (him/her/them) (he/she/they) needed a grammar lesson? Well, you’d be insulting the late C.S. Lewis—and many other authors of note. This illustrious list includes: Lewis Carroll, George Eliot, Shakespeare, Walt Whitman, Oscar Wilde, William Thackeray, and Jane Austen to name a few. Oh, and did I mention that various versions of the Bible employ the singular “they” as well?

 

Before I get into this brouhaha further, let me first offer some examples of the much maligned singular “they” and its related forms.

 

  • A journalist should not be compelled to reveal their sources.
  • Everybody returned to their assigned classroom.
  • Somebody left their car keys at the desk. Would they please return to the counter to retrieve them?
  • A patient should know their rights.
  • Everyone promised to behave themselves.
  • No one put their hand up.

 

So you see the problem, right? According to standard grammar, “they” and it’s related forms can only agree with plural antecedents. Well, to my mind, there is no problem. Singular “they” has been used for centuries because English lacks a gender-neutral third-person singular pronoun. So “they”was pressed into service and has become part of our standard lexicon. I learned it back in high school and college, but I’m always leery of using it out of fear of the grammar Nazis, who favor reworking sentences to avoid the black sheep “they.”

PG

Through the years, strict grammarians have tried to eradicate this tricky issue by employing “he” as a gender-neutral third-person singular pronoun. (No one put up his hand.) But this did not sit well with women in the 1970s or with the transgender crowd of today. Also, the “s/he,” “she/he” solution has proven clunky at best. Other attempts at “xe,” “ze,” and “thon” left readers uttering “What the f …?”

 

Swedish grammarians, however, will list the gender-neutral pronoun “hen” as one of 13,000 new words in its official dictionary this year. “Hen” has been proposed since the 1960s as a gender-neutral substitute for “han/he” and “hon/she.” It will be interesting to see how “hen” fares with the populace. (Ben Zimmer, “‘They’, the Singular Pronoun, Gets Popular,” The Wall Street Journal

 

As all writers know, when a reader stops reading to figure out what the heck the author means, it stops forward momentum. Essentially, it’s the kiss of death. And because of this, some of the grammar bibles (The New Fowler’s 3rd Editon and Grammar Girl) are either acquiescing or taking a neutral stance on singular “they.” And many other grammar mavens are seeing the light as well.

 

For those rule-conscious holdouts like my grammar bible (The Chicago Manual of Style), I would offer these arguments:

 

  1. The real sticking point is when “they” is paired with a singular antecedent. The two do not agree in number. But I would offer a comparison with the subjunctive mood.
  • I wish he were home now.
  • If she were here, we’d go to the dance together.

Because this is the conjugation of subjunctive, it appears on the surface that the pronoun and verb do not agree in number. So singular “they” is not alone! There are many irregularities in the English language.

 

  1. The English language needs a gender-neutral third person singular pronoun more than ever today. To dabble with odd-sounding hybrid words is an insult to readers. When the only holdouts are the pedantic blue-pencil copy-editors and grammarians, it’s time to come down from that grammatical high horse and get with the prevailing historical sentiment that singular “they” is fine—and it offends no one.

 

  1. It’s always been my stance that it should be the objective of writers and grammarians to build a system of language that makes the written word easy for the reader to understand. That’s the purpose of grammar and punctuation. That’s all. Since singular “they” is common, well-understood usage, why fix what’s not broke(n)?

 

This Hemingway quote comes to mind when I hear pedantic grammar divas duking it out: ” We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.

 

Our English language is a living, breathing, evolving entity. It’s been tough for me to let go of certain staples of the lexicon, but evolve we must! I hold on to icons like the sacred Oxford comma and let go of lesser favorites. I suppose these various choices contribute to each writer’s personal style. But if the grammar Nazis want to harass some grammar foible, let them set their sights on the flagrant use of comma splices in modern writing. Or how about bringing back into common parlance the useful interrobang? Those are causes I’ll fight for!

interrobang-thumb

 

How do you feel about singular “they”? Are you morally offended when it doesn’t agree with it’s singular antecedent? You know I lurve you, and I adore hearing from you. So if you post a comment and give me an earful, you’ll have a chance to win a signed copy of Beautiful Monsters by yours truly—and maybe a little extra swag. *waggles eyebrows* Enjoy your November, tribe, and keep reading!

Remember Sharing is Caring! ❤️

~Cynthia

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September/October Blog: KyANA Book Signing

As some of you may have noticed, I’m running behind on my blog posts. With the move and unpacking, I’ve barely had time to breathe. I assure you the blog will be back in action soon. But it hasn’t been ALL work and no play!
I had a delightful time at the  KyANA (Kentucky Association of Nurse Anesthetists) Fall Meeting, held at the beautiful Griffin Gate Marriott Spa and Resort in Lexington, KY, the weekend of September 25-27. I’d like to thank KyANA board members Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists: Lara Barrow, CRNA and Donna Fiaschetti, CRNA , (picture below) for their warm welcome and support. Readers are simply the best people, aren’t they? I plied them with cookies, book chat, and jokes. And not only did I sign a lot of books, but I made some new friends. Check out these photos!❤️

 
[If you would like to learn more about Anesthesia and the tremendous care given by Nurse Anesthetists please check out the KyANA and the national organization the AANA (American Association of Nurse Anesthetists)]
Cyn Lara Donna at KYANA
Cyn at KYANA
KYANA Book Sign Ad 1
KYANA Book Sign Ad 2

~Cynthia

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August Blog: 6 Reasons NOT to Use a Pen Name!

Blog Yellow MidMiss  11403445_1042217255790534_4096150509203496263_n

Do you know who these authors are: Douglas Spalding, Erika Leonard, Mary Westmacott, Robert Galbraith, Victoria Lucas? I’ll explain later in the article.

It’s a brave new world in publishing. Just ask any author. The old paradigm has fallen, and more than ever, success in the field is up for grabs. But in order to stay afloat as an author these days, we must keep up with the rapidly changing landscape of the book business.

One pillar of the old guard to fall is the pen name. Traditional wisdom in the land of words was that an author needed a pen name for each genre s/he wrote in. But this applied to the days when readers browsed in bookstores and didn’t have unprecedented access to the digital world—and to authors. Not only has Amazon turned the page on that concept, but they rewrote the book.

I’ll briefly discuss 6 reasons authors should NOT use pen names in this digital age. That’s not to say there aren’t very good reasons to adopt pseudonyms in certain circumstances, which I’ll mention briefly at the end of the article. I just want authors to be aware that they have choices these days. (Little did Bob Dylan know how prescient the song “The Times They Are A-Changin'” really was!) Many famous authors now lead the exodus from the pen name and openly write in different genres with their real names. It’s truly up to the author. But hear me out before you make a decision.

First, let me say that while I was writing Beautiful Monsters, I agonized for three years over whether to use a pen name or write under my legal name. There’s some erotic content in my book, although I use it mainly as a device to make a point. It’s not the theme of the story. Still, it’s enough to offend some people who are not comfortable with explicit sexual scenes. I worried about what my friends, family, and neighbors would think. I didn’t want anyone to be embarrassed privately or professionally because of what I write. I told my family about the content, and they’ve been extremely supportive and encouraging. I doubt all my neighbors and friends are so supportive, but I feel strongly about owning what I do in life. So eventually, I came to the decision to put my real name on the book and claim my work—but to leave specific mention of my family out of my online social interactions. And I’m so thankful I chose this route! In the four years since this decision, the trend of using pen names has slowed significantly. I’ll tell you why.

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1. The new catchword in publishing is branding. The author is the star, not the book. And the brand is what sells the book. Big Brother—I mean, the digital world—has killed any notion of privacy. Google is God. It knows everything and can find anyone. And our social networks are our platforms—or our voice as authors. Readers want to know us. They expect to get up close and personal and to post with us. Many authors (who are mostly introverts) find this intrusive and would prefer to hide behind their books. But to sell books in this overcrowded market, it’s imperative to get out there and mix it up with readers, bloggers, and industry professionals. And this is much easier to do with your primary profile in place. I personally love to interact with other writers, creatives, and readers. I’ve met some truly wonderful friends and colleagues who’ve enriched my life enormously. And I realized at the end of my agonizing decision to pen name or NOT to pen name that it was an advantage to launch my book form a platform where people know (and hopefully, like) me.

2. Privacy is an illusion. Most readers know the different pen names used by authors. It’s nearly impossible to keep people from finding out your identity. Again, Google is God. (Bow and be known! lol) If some troll wants to out an author, it’s easy to do. Unless you enlist cybersecurity, they’ll find you anyway. So why go to the extra work of another name? Plus, readers fully accept that writers write in different genres.

3. LOTS of extra Work! If you already have a real profile on the social networking sites, then your connections already know you’re an author and that you’re writing a book. When it comes time to publish, these peeps (your tribe) will become an invaluable source of encouragement, networking, and sales. To employ a pen name, one has to start a whole new social networking platform. I don’t know about you, but I can barely get through my email and interact with my friends on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Google+ as Cynthia each day let alone repeat it with a nom de plume! A pen name adds a whole new layer of bureaucracy to an already fully punched dance card. And wouldn’t you rather be writing?

4. A postscript to number 3 is the legal responsibilities of having a pen name. Here in the states, it’s no longer enough to just assume a name and go with it. Masked authors need a DBA (doing business as) to cash checks as someone else and to pay taxes. That’s just one more layer of legalese that gives me the heebie jeebies. And this gets even more complicated with success. Think screenplay rights, translation rights, etc.

5. I touched on this briefly before, but you no longer need to have separate names for each genre you write in. You can use the power of your name, personality, and platform to cross genres and reach an entire new field of readers! For example, James Patterson now writes book for young people. And remember the debacle with J.K. Rowling and her initially unsuccessful 2013 crime fiction, The Cuckoo’s Calling? Under her pseudonym, Robert Galbraith, the book didn’t launch well. It’s surmised that the dismal sales prompted the publisher to announce that the author was J.K. Rowling in disguise. The book then took off like fireworks on the 4th of July. There’s a lesson to the wise here: play the cards you’re dealt!

6. Your time is better spent writing than in juggling branding platforms! It’s estimated that before an author actually makes a living at writing, s/he needs five books under the belt. Thus, it’s imperative to keep writing and turning out great work. This is difficult to do while managing multiple platforms. Personally, I prefer to use this time reading (for pleasure and to keep up with industry news) and honing my craft. My motto has become: Keep it simple, stupid! I’m torn in so many directions with writing, blogging, staying informed, researching, maintaining my platform, and endeavoring to have a real life that I cannot imagine having to deal with my alter-author’s demands, too.

So there you have the 6 reasons NOT to use a pseudonym. But when SHOULD you take a pen name?  If you’re a teacher and you write erotica, it’s necessary to go incognito. When your day job or personal relationships might be jeopardized by your genre, it’s definitely something to consider. These are possible examples:

  • lawyers who write legal thrillers and might be accused of mimicking an actual case.
  • law enforcement personnel, military personnel, or intelligence officers whose superiors might have a problem with disclosed information.
  • an author whose family might have serious objections to the material. Don’t give dad a heart attack! lol
  • an author who is divorced or divorcing and who wants to keep the legalities separate.
  • an author who shares a name with a famous author.
  • an author who needs the out-of-body experience of slipping into your alter-author’s skin—and name—to achieve the mindset to write a specific genre. (All my alter-authors come to the name Cynthia!)
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And for heaven’s sake, if you’re already a branded author with a following, a platform, and a pen name, keep it! You’re sitting pretty! But the rest of us newer scribblers—who are developing our platforms in this ever-changing industry—need to seriously consider the pros and cons of each choice. Perhaps the ultimate questions we should ask ourselves are these: Will a pen name offer me more advantages or disadvantages? Will it make my life easier or harder?

And by the way, remember the authors I named in the first paragraph? Respectively, they are either the legal name or alternate pen name of these famous monikers: Ray Bradbury, E. L. James, Agatha Christie, J. K. Rowling, and Sylvia Plath. All were easily googlable.

I’d love to hear what you readers, writers, and industry professionals think about this topic. I’m sure there’ll be strong feelings on both sides. Weigh in in the comment section and let’s discuss it! I’ll award one randomly drawn commenter a signed copy of Beautiful Monsters (and you can tell me if I should have used a pen name lol).

I’m moving this month, so I’ll see you in September if I can fight my way out of the boxes—and if I haven’t lost my marbles by then. Happy reading and writing, tribe, and enjoy these waning days of summer! If you enjoyed this article, please share it on your social media sites. Remember Sharing is Caring! ❤️

~Cynthia

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July Blog: Interview of Author Chris Sheerin

ChrisSheerinBlog Guest              10551590_10203473851402051_2516523315660470054_o
Welcome to the July issue of Midnight Missives! For Americans, July is a month of celebration: family gatherings, barbecues, vacations, fireworks, and the spectacle of our 4th of July. I can’t think of a better way for Midnight Missives to celebrate this Independence Day than to introduce you to Author Chris Sheerin, who has just released his new ghost story/psychological chiller, Grave Union (darkWolf Press). And it’s quite a sparkler! (pun intended)
Author: Chris Sheerin

Author: Chris Sheerin

And while Grave Union takes place during the Civil War (rather than the Revolutionary War—from which springs our Independence Day), Sheerin’s beautiful prose captures the essence of war, the stench of evil, and the natural setting in a manner that awes the reader as much as the most spectacular fireworks display. I am a big fan of Sheerin’s work, and while reading Grave Union last night, I marveled at how this talented author consistently manages to place the reader into whatever scene he sketches. He’s a master of setting, creating mood and tone with his prodigious vocabulary and deep connection to the earth. His themes are subtle, never preachy, and he always manages to surprise the reader with a unique twist or two.

 

But what, perhaps, surprised me the most with Grave Union, is his excellent grasp of Civil War terminology, parlance, and general knowledge. You see, Chris Sheerin is an Irish author. Most American authors couldn’t have written a better Civil War ghost story!

 

I met Chris a few years ago on Facebook and decided to read one of this novels. Well, one novel turned into several—and a few of his poetry and erotica books, as well. And I became a fan! Since then, we’ve become colleagues and friends, and I have learned much from him. I urge you to check out his author’s bio and the interview I did with him below, then proceed to the purchase links. If you’re a fan of the classics, like me, you’ll adore his wonderful style of writing.

 

Author Bio:

Chris Sheerin was born in Manchester, but has lived in Derry, Ireland, since 1969. He trained as an electrician, studied Hotel and Tourism Management at Magee College, but has also taught Creative Writing locally. He currently writes and works in security.

His first novel, Chasing Shadows, was published in 2001, and tells the tale of an across-the-divide love affair during the Troubles in 1970’s Derry. Since then, he has published six more novels, ten books of poetry on all subjects, and one self-help book. He also writes erotica under the pen-name Padraig E Griffiths. Most of his books are available in paperback from amazon.com and amazon.co.uk, though all are available as e-books.

 

Interview:
  • Tell us a bit about yourself and what you are currently working on or promoting.

Hi, Cynthia 😉 I’ve just finished a novel entitled Grave Union. This is a mystery chiller set during the American Civil war. I don’t normally write horror, but I’m still in the process of discovering what I write best. Nor do I particularly like horror, because so many of the stories are predictable: More often than not, you have a house, a hero, a supernatural villain, and dozens of scenarios in which a chase ensues and our hero barely gets away.

I’ve tried to be slightly more original. The hero of this tale is Private Gallant. He is, by all appearances a despicable man who, though the reader may detest his actions, at least has a sound philosophy for acting in the way he does. When he attempts to flee the northern side of the Rappahannock on the eve of the Battle of Fredericksburg, he encounters four orphan girls. Now, he has a chance to make up for all of the things he has done wrong in his life. But, to his horror, he soon discovers that helping others isn’t always easy to do.

  • What genre(s) do you write in and why?

I write in every genre there is – or, at least, that is what I seemingly aiming for. It didn’t start that way. The first novel – an historical thriller entitled Chasing Shadows – was set in Derry, N. Ireland during the Troubles of the 1970s. It was well-received by many, but not everyone liked it, and it was described as controversial and unsettling by many newspapers of the time. The next book I wrote – another historical thriller called Days of Rain – was also quite controversial, in that it was set during the 1940s and it is based strongly upon the true story of Herman Goertz and a few of the other Abwehr spies who were sent to Ireland to fashion links with the IRA during that period.

Since then, however, I have written everything. I have penned another four novels: Three Wolves is set in Yellowstone park shortly after the American Civil War, and is related from the perspective of wolves; Consequences of Being is a fictional Greek tragedy set in modern-day southern Ireland; Old Habits Die Hard is a Private Eye yarn set in ‘the city’ in the 1990s USA; and now I’ve just completed Grave Union.

In addition, I’ve written seven or eight poetry books, three hoetry books (rude poetry for the non-discerning lover of the unclean rhyming word), one self-help book entitled One Year from Today, and about seven or eight erotica novellas under the pseudonym of Padraig E Griffiths. Oh, and I’m trying my hand at a few scripts as well, just to keep things fresh.

  • Do you have an agent and/or publisher, or are you self-published?

Most of my books are self-published. I have my own imprint name – darkWolf Press – and I do all of my own editing and typesetting. I also make most of my own covers. I won’t say the latter are the best on the market, but they do hold up and people seem to like them.

To be honest, the entire publishing game is in a mess these days, and self-publishing is actually the way to go – initially, at least. A lot of publishers out there are simply interested in taking your money. They will provide the cover for your book, but you do most of the marketing, and, although they may tell you differently when you sign with them, your work isn’t guaranteed to be actually published in book form. It will go into e-book form at the start,, simply because there are no costs involved. After that, they may do a limited run – or they may not even bother – in which your book hits one or two stores at best.

  • What advice would you give to an aspiring author?

Write your book from start to finish, without overly editing it. I recently read a quote from an author who wrote half a book, then spent a year editing it. But, when he went to write the second half, the story had changed, and so he had to go back and rewrite much of the first half. So, write the book, leave it in its raw form, all the way up until the end. Then edit. You will save yourself so much time.

Then self-publish, and self-promote. Once you have your book out there, you can start looking for agents and publishers, but be discerning. Don’t jump at the first deal you get, because you might waste two or three years of your life in the thrall of someone who really doesn’t care less how far your book goes.

  • What are you currently working on?

At the moment, I’m working on the screenplay for Grave Union. Well, I will be after I have a few days off. As I near the end of a novel, I tend to work night and day on it until it is exactly how I want it to be, which I often do to the exclusion of all else. Luckily, I wrote the screenplay for this book before I wrote the book (if that makes sense) and I was advised by an agent to pen the story. I didn’t want to, simply because of all of the studying and research involved, but now I’m glad that I did. People seem to like a good ghost story, and hopefully that is what I now have out there. To see the film of the book, of course, would be nothing short of amazing.

  • What makes good writing?

To write well, you will have to ignore what people think and say about your writing. If you allow opinions to sway the direction of your writing, it isn’t your writing. After that, you should write what you want to read. I wanted to read a story narrated from the perspective of wolves, in which their philosophy unfolds in line with the story. So, I wrote Three Wolves, which is still my favorite. I wrote Chasing Shadows feeling that the untold story of the Troubles in Derry should be told. At the time, no one did that: All of the stories of that time followed a political agenda.

I received lots of reviews for that story, some from Irish Senators, some from politicians, and one – which is still available online – from An Phoblacht (a paramilitary newspaper of the period) in which they weren’t all that nice, and ended up calling me a ‘simple bastard’, a term I use in the book to describe my central character.

So, you have to be prepared to receive some sort of flak for your work, though hopefully not to that extent. The thing is, you will be criticized no matter what you write. Should your book sit on the bestseller list for ten years, you will be criticized, so write with that thought in mind and you will write the way you should do.

Oh, and recently, I decided that rude poetry – hoetry – was the way to go. To be honest, I got a lot of flak for that idea, though I did put three short books of it out there (Whore Moans, Whore’s Play, and Whore Nets) before I decided that it might not be the way to go. The people who bought the books liked them, though, so that’s the main thing. And I enjoyed doing something different. Do I regret it? No. You have to go with what you feel, and I enjoyed being creative, even though it was rude.

  • With all the demands of an author, how do you keep sane?

I try to live a varied life, Cynthia. I have always participated in sports. In my early years, I was involved in Karate, Judo, Kickboxing, Boxing, Running, Hiking, Marathon running. Now, I do strongman shows – perhaps four or five a year – and so I lift a lot of weight. More recently, I was asked (talked into) competing in a bodybuilding show, which is set for September.

I’m dieting for that at the moment, which isn’t as bad as I thought, though it takes one hell of a lot of time to cook and prepare the right meals. I’m enjoying seeing the changes in my body; and, to be honest, this is perhaps the best I have ever looked, physically, in my life. But my hat has to go off to anyone who competes in that sport and holds down a full-time job. As a writer, I can write anytime, and so I can work around this. But would I bodybuild full-time – not on your life.

  • Have you had to make sacrifices for your writing, and if so, what are they?

To become a writer, you have to give up expecting to be published, expecting your book to be a bestseller, and expecting fame to search you out. That will only happen in less than one percent of the authors out there. To be a writer, you have to enjoy sitting down, in privacy and away from the crowd, and putting your thoughts on paper.

I have given up a lot, yes, but nothing that I didn’t want to ultimately give up. I like writing, and that’s what I want to do. But, thirty years on and having received very little for it, I now write for me. If people like my books, so well and so good. But I can’t make them, and I don’t have the time to go chasing after reviews or nice sentiments. If people want to say something nice, excellent, but it’s neither here nor there. So, I have learned to give up on all expectation, and I believe that’s what you must do in order to succeed, perhaps in anything at all.

  • Are excellent writers born to the craft, or can they be taught?

I don’t hold with the idea that writing is something you are born to do. I hold with the theory that no matter what you want to do, you can do it – or at least attempt to do it to some degree. The thing is, there are millions of writers out there, and not all of them are very good. But they still write, simply because they want to. And the strange thing is, once a person believes that they are a writer (this applies equally to anything) then it doesn’t matter how ‘bad’ they are perceived to be by the majority: Their love of writing makes them good at it, because they project their story onto paper. This becomes their style, and their style is then accepted by some, if not all. Strangely, that style might then turn out to be the next biggest thing.

For example, if you ask a schoolteacher for a couple of editions of a school magazine, you will learn more about writing in one hour than you will learn in a library in ten years The reason for this is because children group their words together differently (foreigners do this too, when writing English, as we do when we attempt to write in their language) In the case of children, however, we see words grouped together that we would never consider placing together, ever. And there is a simple brilliance in this, which makes you smile and wonder why you haven’t got that skill.

So, writing is also about unlearning to write conventionally. For this reason, anyone who writes is eventually excellent, if they do so consistently and if their message is relayed to the reader.

  • Which author would you give credit to for shaping your style of writing?

I like Tanith Lee. She has the most amazing vocabulary, and her ideas are brilliant. Too many modern writers dismiss the value of settings and characterization, and instead go straight to the plot. That’s fine, if you like that sort of thing, but I like to know where I am in a book, and I believe the setting and character-hints should be revealed in line with the progression of the story.

I also like some of Paulo Coelho’s novels, mainly for the simplicity he can impart into a story and the underlying philosophy. To be honest, though, I don’t particularly favor any modern writers, though I do try to read as much as I can when I can. Nor are there any modern novels out there that I would say I’ve especially enjoyed of late. Today’s writers appear to skimp on everything but action. Which is fine, I suppose, because we all like action, though I’d prefer that it was a part of the tale and not the entire story. Of course, who am I to say what’s right? Those kinds of books are the kind people read, so maybe there is something to be said about writing for others/money.

  • If you write stories about foreign lands, how do you approach language differences and research to make your work authentic?

Google is God, basically. Years ago, I was never out of the library, but now you can get absolutely anything online with the punch of a few buttons. So research had changed for the better in that respect. What I tend to do is approach it as simply as I can. For example, for Grave Union, I typed in ‘phrases used in 1860s USA’ which I then further refined to Virginia. As you point out in your question, language is important. I also researched uniforms, living conditions in a Union encampment, prevailing diseases of the time, period dress, and food consumed by both sides in the conflict, etc.

To be honest, I wasn’t looking forward to that research at all. As I say, I wrote the film script first, and there’s no call for such detail in a script. We all know what a Union soldier looks like, for example, and when we place him in a conflict situation, our mind fills in the gaps. However, I’m happy that I wrote the book now – (I pray there aren’t too many mistakes in it; though, even if there are, they can easily be corrected) – and hopefully my readers will feel the same. By the way, I welcome all constructive criticism on that or any of my books, because that ability to take it on the chin is also part of being a writer.

Find Chris Sheerin on social media:

Chris Sheerin on Facebook

Chris’ FB Author Page

Author Padraig E Griffiths on FB

Purchase links for Grave Union:

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• Amazon (U.S.) • Amazon UK

Find all of CHRIS SHEERIN’S books here on Amazon or Amazon UK

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Poetry AnthologiesCS

PEGCollage of Erotica

THANKS, CHRIS!

I’d like to thank Chris for this interview with Midnight MissivesIf you have any questions or comments for him, please post them in the comments section below. One lucky commenter will win an eBook of Chris’ wonderful new chiller, Grave Union! For the rest of you, do yourself a favor and pick up one of his novels at the links listed above. You’ll thank me for introducing you to this incredibly talented author.
 
Thanks for stopping by, tribe. For my American readers, have a safe, enjoyable 4th of July! And to my foreign friends—I wish all of you a wonderful July and happy reading—regardless of season. See you in August when I discuss whether or NOT to use a pen name in this brave, new world of publishing. And if you enjoyed this interview, please share it on your social media sites. Remember Sharing is Caring! ❤️

~Cynthia

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June Blog: Interview of Thriller Author Mathew Peters

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One of the goals of Midnight Missives is to introduce you to some of the wonderfully interesting people I’ve had the privilege to meet along my journey in life. In my current incarnation as an author, I’ve become friends with many talented and creative authors, poets, and publishing industry insiders. One of my favorites—and my first guest blogger—is novelist Matthew Peters.
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Matthew is the author of The Brothers’ Keepers (MuseItUp Publishing) and Conversations Among Ruins (All Things that Matter Press)widely available online. He’s currently working on the much-anticipated sequel to The Brothers’ Keepers.
Rather than use a typical blog format, I chose to interview Matthew because he’s far too humble to to toot his own uber-talented horn. Yet you’ll see through his answers what makes him so special. He is, without a doubt, one of the most gifted writers I’ve met—or read. Matthew’s Hemingwayesque prose (in its ability to be concise, yet gorgeously descriptive) keeps me glued to his storylines, eagerly turning pages! His command of the language rivals any celebrated author, and he’s a true master of story structure.  And to top it off, Matthew is one of the nicest men I’ve ever met. Humble, multi-faceted, extraordinarily gifted, and generous: these ingredients add up to a wonderfully interesting novelist and and an even better human being. Without further adieu, I give you Matthew Peters:
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  • Tell us a bit about yourself and what you are currently working on or promoting.

I am a recovering academic, who turned to the world of fiction writing about a decade ago. I have two books out: The Brothers’ Keepers, a religious-political thriller, and a work of literary fiction called Conversations Among Ruins.

  • What genre(s) do you write in and why?

I write thrillers and literary fiction. I feel like my creativity is fulfilled by writing both genre and literary fiction.

  • What sets you apart from other authors in your genre?

The amount of research that goes into my books, and the quality of book I try to give my readers.

  • Do you have an agent and/or publisher, or are you self-published?

I have two publishers. MuseItUp Publishing handles the religious thriller(s) and All Things That Matter Press publishes Conversations Among Ruins.

  • What advice would you give to an aspiring author?

My biggest piece of advice would be not to rush into shopping for an agent or a publisher. Don’t give into a case of premature querying or shopping your manuscript around before it is ready to go. Have your manuscript professionally edited before submitting.

  • What are your three favorite books?

Crime and Punishment, The Brothers Karamazov, and Dead Souls

  • Who is your favorite author and why?

Dostoevsky because of his psychological and philosophical depth

  • What are you currently working on?

I’m working on the next Nicholas Branson novel (i.e., the one that comes after The Brothers’ Keepers).

  • If you could have a conversation with one person living or dead whom would it be and why?

The historical Jesus. It would answer so many questions.

  • What are you currently reading?

Frankenstein

  • What makes good writing?

Good writing is a good story well told. Anything less is substandard.

  • Is there a theme/message underlying your book(s) that you hope comes across?

Don’t follow others blindly. Form your own opinions and establish your own way of doing things. These are often the most effective means of achieving anything worthwhile.

  • With all the demands of an author, how do you keep sane?

Sane. I once came across that word in a novel. I had to look it up.

  • If you could be any character in literature, whom would you choose to be?

Any fictional character, whose story is made into a movie, and who plays the love interest of any fictional character acted by Scarlett Johansson.

  • Has reading a book ever changed your life? If yes, which one and how?

The philosophical works of Marx & Engels, as well as the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche

  • If someone wrote a book about your life, what would it be called?

Don’t Try this at Home

  • Have you had to make sacrifices for your writing, and if so, what are they?

No, writing has actually saved my life on more than one occasion.

  • What obstacles, if any, have you encountered in being a writer?

Only those I have put it my own way, like the demon of perfectionism.

  • What do you like best/least about writing?

I like the research the best. I like the messiness of the process of writing the least.

  • Do you remember the first book that had a strong impact on you? If so, what was it, and how did it affect you?

I think the first book that had a strong impact on me was Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder. The rest of the books in the series affected me as well, especially the portrayal of a strong familial bond. It was something I desperately wanted growing up, but never did find.

  • At what age did you develop a love of writing? At what point in your life did you decide to become a professional writer?

I developed a love of writing early on. But I did not decide to become a professional writer until 2010.

  • How would you describe your style of writing?

Succinct. It is descriptive, yet economical.

  • What are your thoughts on the current climate of today’s publishing experience?

The current climate of today’s publishing experience is a nightmare. The market is saturated with (mostly) self-published books of poor quality that muddy the waters for writers truly devoted to the craft of writing. The self-publishing revolution is therefore not without deleterious consequences. Of course, traditional publishing and smaller press publishing suffer from serious defects as well. Too little money is given to the author in standard contracts, making writing for a living tenuous at best. I think writers need to form a union and demand that conditions change.

  • Are excellent writers born to the craft, or can they be taught?

I believe you have to be born with a basic aptitude for writing, and then you can learn how to do it better over time and with much practice.

  • Would you rather be discovered and lauded as an icon of literature after your death or be a moderately successful author (among many) in your lifetime?

I’d rather be lauded as a literary icon after my death. I tend to go to extremes; mediocrity never appealed to me.

  • Which author would you give credit to for shaping your style of writing?

Ernest Hemingway

  • Would you consider yourself a prolific reader? How many books would you guess you’ve read in your lifetime?

I would consider myself a prolific reader. I’ve read thousands of books in my lifetime.

  • What themes or occurrences from your daily life bleed over into your writing?

That’s a hard question. I think my struggles with alcohol and depression bleed over into my writing.

  • How do you approach cover art?

My publishers handled the cover art for my books. I had some input, but the specifics were left to them.

  • If you could pick a perfect setting to write in, what would it be? Describe it, please.

A mountain cabin with a lake nearby

Here are Mathew’s social media links and links to purchase his books.

Mathew Peters’ Website/Blog:  www.matthewpetersbooks.com

Twitter: @MatthewPeters65

Mathew Peters on Facebook

                      Conversations Among Ruins:                                                The Brothers’ Keepers:

ConversationsRuinsBook                               BrothKeepersBook

 • Amazon Paperback • Amazon Kindle                            • Amazon • Barnes & Noble • MuseItUp Publishing

• B&N Nook • All Things That Matter Press Paperback

THANKS MATHEW!

I’d like to thank Matthew for consenting to be the first guest of Midnight MissivesIf you have any questions or comments for Matthew, please post them in the comments section below. One lucky commenter will win an eBook of one of Matthew’s wonderful thrillers! But for those who don’t win the giveaway, do yourself a favor and pick up one of his novels (widely available online). You’ll have won far more than a free eBook, and you’ll thank me for introducing you to this incredibly talented writer.
 
Thanks for stopping by, tribe. Enjoy these summer days and see you in July! ❤️

~Cynthia

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May Blog: The Science of Creativity: Are Creatives Born or Taught?

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I ran across an article the other day that surprised me, yet confirmed what many of us artistic types have always suspected: that there’s a link between highly creative people and mental illness. But the further implications of the cited studies prove even more profound!

“Secrets of the Creative Brain” (The Atlantic), by psychiatrist and neuroscientist Nancy C. Andreasen, (see full article) details the doctor’s decades of study on mental illness and creativity. She shares what she and other scientists have discovered about where genius comes from, whether it’s dependent on high IQ, and why mental illness so often accompanies it.

Creative Definition Magnifier Shows Original Ideas Or Artistic Designs

What does this have to do with creatives being born or taught, you ask? Bear with me, and I promise you’ll be as astounded as I was. Andreasen’s article is lengthy and a bit clinical, so after some preliminary background, I’ll break it down into key points and add some of my own insights.

Although Dr. Andreasen has spent most of her career studying the neuroscience of mental illness, more recently, she has focused on the science of genius and the elements that produce highly creative brains. Specifically, the two following questions fuel her research: How do nature and nurture play into the quandary of why some people suffer from mental illness while others—like close relatives—do not. And why are/were so many of the world’s greatest creative geniuses more afflicted with mental illness than the general population?

Andreasen’s ongoing study grew out of the work of earlier pioneers such as Cesare Lombroso: Francis Galton; Havelock Ellis; and Lewis M. Terman, a Stanford psychologist who developed the IQ test. From Terman’s empiric, extensive study (1920s), scientists learned that high IQ does not predict high levels of creativity, even though the myth of the highly intelligent creative brain persists today. None of the participants in his study won any major awards (like the Pulitzer) for creativity, and few contributed creatively to society. Subsequent research studies confirmed Terman’s conclusion that high IQ does not predict high creativity. What they found, instead, was that highly creative people are generally pretty smart, but above a certain point, intelligence doesn’t have much of an effect on creativity. An IQ of 120 is considered sufficient for the creative genius.

In further studies, Andreasen hypothesized the link between mental illness and high creativity, using distinguished writers from the University of Iowa’s Writers’ Workshop (the most famous creative-writing program in the U.S) and creative legends with mental illness in their families: James Joyce, Bertrand Russell, Sylvia Plath, Robert Lowell, Kurt Vonnegut, Albert Einstein, and others. She not only confirmed Termen’s findings but also found that 80% of her subjects had suffered some type of mood disturbance in their life, compared to 30% of the control group. The connection between mood disorder and creativity was obvious. She also realized that many of these writers had creative relatives in other fields such as visual arts, chemistry, dance, mathematic, and architecture—and that creative geniuses often had close relatives with mental illness. Creativity tends to run in families, as does mental illness.

I am a writer..Andreasen’s study answered some questions, but raised even more provocative ones: Are writers were prone to mood disorders because of the lonely, introspective nature of the profession? How much of creativity is nature versus nurture? Why does creativity run in families? And if so, what component gets transferred? Is there a difference in creativity between scientists and artisans? She was astounded by what she discovered through MRI and PET studies. I’ll summarize her preliminary findings, highlight the key points, and add some fascinating corollary implications.

  • Andreasen’s creative subjects (scientists and artisans) and their relatives have a higher rate of mental illness than the control group. They also tend to have one or more close relative with schizophrenia. Other typical mental illnesses include: depression, alcoholism, bipolar disorder, and anxiety disorder.
  • Highly creative people are better at making associations and connections—at recognizing relationships. They see things that others in the normal population can’t see. They “think outside the box” and are able to see the bigger scope of things.
  • The association cortices in the brains of highly creative individuals become extremely active during rest. This holds true for both artists and scientists. (which brings into question the wisdom of forcing students to choose between the arts and sciences). When flashes of brilliance strike, they are often triggered by long stretches of preparation, and gestation—and they hit while the mind is at rest. This speaks volumes on the importance of relaxation for both adults and children. Creative people need free time to dream and “veg out” in order for the association cortices to produce flashes of creative inspiration. Now I know why I get hit with brilliant insights or perfect narrative phrases while I’m listening to the radio and driving the car!
  • Creatives work much harder than normal people, probably because they enjoy their work so much!
  • Creativity runs in families and takes various forms. These families place great value on education and learning, so nurture obviously plays a role here too.
  • Other factors contributing to creativity probably have to do with personality, specifically the following: an adventurous, exploratory nature; risk-taking; persistence; obliviousness to the fact that their ideas are unique; feelings of excitement and joy about their gift; the desire to teach themselves instead of participating in traditional education; diverse interests in several fields of study; a tendency to see the big picture.
hand shows concept of "think outside the box"

Do you see yourself in this picture? I do. While I wouldn’t consider myself a creative genius, I certainly fit the criteria. I undoubtedly fall on the spectrum somewhere. Finally, science is confirming what most of us have already secretly surmised: 1. There’s a fine line between creative genius and mental illness. 2. The evidence strongly suggests that heredity plays a vital role in creative genius, but that environment nurtures the creative soul, as well. For writers, this implies that we may be able to learn the craft of writing through education, but we’ll never become masters of literature without a genetic predisposition. And the same probably applies to the other creative fields.

The iconic mad scientist and the crazy creative aren’t just anecdotes or fodder for snappy memes anymore; they’re either genetically predisposed creative geniuses, people suffering from mental illness—or a combination of both. The line of separation is thin, apparently. Throughout history, creative masters were thought to be odd or, worse, mad. I love Nelson Mandela’s wonderful quote: “It always seems impossible until it’s done.” And visionary creatives are always the ones who do it.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic! Share your opinions and anecdotes in the section below, and as always—just to prove how much I adore my readers—I’ll send a signed copy of Beautiful Monsters (with matching bookmark) to a randomly drawn commenter. Also, if you enjoyed this blog post, I’d appreciate a “share” on your social media pages. Thanks for stopping by! Happy reading and see you in June, tribe.

~Cynthia

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April Blog … So You Want to Be an Author, Eh?

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I recently read an article in The Guardian that claimed the number one most desired job in Britain is author, according to a YouGov poll. In fact, 60% of Brits desired the authorly life—even topping movie star. I suppose the meteoric success of E L James (Fifty Shades of Grey), Stephanie Meyer (the Twilight series), and J. K. Rowling (the Harry Potter series) has something to do with this poll result. And I bet if polls were taken in most other countries, the results would be similar. Suddenly, being an author is the cool gig!

Girl Typing

If you’re a writer like me, trying to sell a book, you’re probably snickering and thinking that, indeed, 60% of people actually ARE authors because of the record number of people hawking books online and at the various social networking sites. But I find that most fledgling authors—and the public, in general—have a skewed notion of what the job of scribe entails. Many people think we’re enigmatic, intelligent oddballs who set our own hours, stare off in space, throw down a story in a month, then rake in the cash as we’re lauded at book signings and interviews. Nothing could be further from the truth! Well, … maybe the enigmatic oddball label fits since we do loiter in the dusty corners of life. lol This snicker-worthy quote by Jules Renard speaks to the possible lure of the occupation: “Writing is the only profession where no one considers you ridiculous if you earn no money.” It’s true!

Pink Typwriter

Being an author is hard, tribe! There’s so much more to it than committing a story to the laptop. All those exquisite passages that give us goosebumps and make our hearts clench don’t just fly off the tip of an author’s fingers. The fiction writer must first master plot, structure, character, setting, mood, point of view, pacing, subtext, theme, description, dialogue, ad infinitum. These literary elements work together to create the magic of great prose. Add to that a working knowledge of grammar, format, and genre specifications, and the learning curve is high. It’s an arduous, exhausting task that writers continually pursue throughout their careers. It took me over three years to turn Beautiful Monsters into a book I’d be proud to put my name on.

If you don’t believe me on the strenuous nature of a career in publishing, consider this quote by George Orwell (often rephrased and expressed by other icons of literature as well): “Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon which one can neither resist nor understand.” And he’s right!

Orwell Quote

Writing one’s first manuscript is perhaps the most idyllic time in an author’s entire career. There’s no real pressure except to create. But after that, things get dicey! I remember well the first time my pink bubble of naivety was popped by a savvy editor who gave a workshop in my town. He looked out at our inspired faces and said, “You have a better chance of getting hit by lightning than of having your first manuscript picked up by a publisher.” WHAAAAAAT??? Pop, pop, pop. (That’s the sound of our naivety bubbles bursting.) He further crushed our hopes by telling us that writing the manuscript was the easy part of a career in publishing—just the tip of what would be required of us with long hours of promotion and social networking. By the end of the seminar, our wide-eyed, hopeful expressions had been tempered with a dose of harsh reality.

Red Pop Balloon

To say the least, I was miffed by the editor’s dire pronouncements, but I now realize he was preparing us for the disappointment later when rejection notices and dashed dreams would land in our laps. Nor do I want to discourage anyone who loves to write. You see, writing is not a choice; it’s as necessary as oxygen for some of us. First and foremost, it’s an ART, secondly, a business. Just know that you probably won’t become rich, famous, or successful with your books. Writing rarely pays the bills. And besides, there are much easier routes to those goals. But for those of you born to the craft, an author’s life is the most difficult, demanding, thrilling pursuit of ART you’ll ever know.

To soften the blow of bursting any pink bubbles—and to show you how much I “luvs” ya, I’ll send a signed copy of Beautiful Monsters to one of you (randomly chosen) who comments below. And if you find this blog informative or interesting, I’d appreciate it if you’d share the love. Happy reading and writing, tribe!

~Cynthia

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March Blog … The Reluctant Blogger

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Welcome to the first official post from my new blog, Midnight Missives! As the blog is in its infancy, so is my blog page. The lovely people at DREAMCO will be working with me to improve the set-up, composition, and appearance of the page as time goes by, so please consider me “Under Construction.” I do have a comment section at the bottom of the page, and as always, I’d love to hear your ideas and remarks. However, the most glaring oversight at the moment is my lack of a share button! We writers live by reviews and shares, so I’d be grateful to any of you who would copy and paste the URL of this blog page into Facebook or any of the social networking sites to share my content. Nothing like Stone Age blogging, right? lol

And yes, those of you who know me are rolling your eyes and remembering my protests of “I’m a writer, not a blogger! I’m too busy to blog!” As I sit here and eat crow, I’ll explain my change of heart and fill you in on what to expect from the blog—and why you should spend your valuable time listening to me blather on about everything imaginable.

But first, let me explain the title, Midnight Missives. As you’re probably aware, “missive” is just a snobby word for “message,” “memo,” “letter,”  or “note.” As I’m prone to word crushes, “missive” is my current heartthrob. And beyond the fact that Midnight Missives holds great alliterative value for a word nerd like me, much of my writing happens at night—often after midnight.

Now, why did I finally decide to write a blog? Mmmm … this crow isn’t bad, especially with picante sauce! Several reasons: 1. Common wisdom among the Grand Poobahs of the publishing world dictates that writers and authors need to write a blog to “get noticed” and to gather a following. Since I rarely follow common wisdom, that’s not a primary reason why I decided to blog—but it did influence my decision.2. Probably the biggest contributor to my decision to blog is that—having been through the process of writing, publishing, and marketing a book—I’ve gained lots of knowledge that I’d like to share with those of you on the same path, my tribe. Of course, I have much more to learn, but as I do, I will share it here in Midnight Missives. A blog is the perfect forum to communicate in depth with like-minded people, so I’ll be delighted to learn from you, the readers, as well. 3. Blogging stimulates the mind, flexes the writing muscle, and forces the writer to keep a schedule, even when promotion or research directs the writer’s attention elsewhere. 4. Blogging allows the writer to expound on a given topic, which is difficult to do in other forums on social media. 5. As a blogger, I get to share news about Beautiful Monsters and future books, upcoming events, and the minutia of my crazy, chaotic life. When you’re Queen of your blog, anything goes!

Now that you know why I’m diving into the blog pool, what do I offer you here at Midnight Missives? Well, I hope to offer you thought-provoking posts about various aspects of the literary world. I’ll also feature guest bloggers—writers, creatives, and industry professionals—with interesting lives or viewpoints. I’ll either interview them, or they will entertain you with an guest blog post. Some months, I’ll write book or film reviews, expound on grammar gremlins, or just blather about whatever obsesses me on a given day. And finally, I’ll host fun contests, give away signed copies of Beautiful Monsters and book swag, and keep you updated on any upcoming book signings or events. But mostly, I hope to pique your curiosity about the writing life … or just make you laugh.

So I hope you’ll stop by (around) the first of each month and join the conversation in the comments section. Also, please feel free to send me any questions or topics you’d like to see explored here. As always, I love hearing from you, tribe! And to prove it, I’ll send a signed copy of Beautiful Monsters to one (randomly chosen) person who comments below this post. See you in April! It’ll be worth stopping by just to see if I’ve come out of the Stone Age yet. lol

~Cynthia

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