Wednesday, November 4, 2020

8 Books for Freelance Writers

Article shared from Non-Profit 

Freelance writers – and those who want to be one – know one of the cardinal rules of the writing business: “To be a writer, read a lot.”

Use this list to gain know-how for building your freelance writing business, whether you’re pursuing the writing life as a copywriter, content writer, blogger, book author, or freelancer for publications. 

I hope you’ll add your suggestions for books for freelance writers in the Comments below!

Secrets of a Freelance Writer by Bob Bly

Now in its third edition, Bob’s book is considered the authoritative guide to making money as a commercial writer. Bob’s career as a copywriter is legendary. He explains why corporations, small businesses, associations, nonprofit organizations, the government, and commercial clients need all kinds of writing projects and also how to get started freelancing, market yourself, and run your business. Great bonus in the appendix: model documents and resources to get you started. (More about the book here.)

Starting Your Career as a Freelance Writer by Moira Allen

Moira draws upon 30 years as a freelance writer in this step-by-step guide to getting started as a freelancer. She takes you through the fundamentals: finding markets and how to write for them (articles, online writing, commercial writing) as well as managing your day-to-day office tasks (getting paid, keeping records – even setting up your office.) This book is a solid start-up manual if you want to make a living as a freelancer. (More about the book here.)

The Well-Fed Writer by Peter Bowerman

Peter’s blueprint to building a successful freelance writing business is packed with practical advice for copywriters and business writers. His focus is on the nuts and bolts of getting started as a commercial freelancer for larger companies with skills are transferable to any freelance writing niche. (More about the book here.)

Back for Seconds by Peter Bowerman

In this sequel to The Well-Fed Writer, Peter unpacks how-tos for finding freelance writing assignments in smaller or unusual commercial markets. Back for Seconds is a comprehensive and valuable roadmap for making money as a freelance writer in a down economy or a specific niche – plus like the rest of Peter’s work, it’s fun to read. (More about the book here.)

Writer For Hire: 101 Secrets to Freelance Success by Kelly James-Enger

The winner of the 2013 American Society of Journalists and Authors Outstanding Book Award, this book explains how to make a steady paycheck from your words. Kelly's focus is on articles and books – her primary writing vehicles – but her professional principles are transferable to all kinds of content and she touches on 16 other lucrative markets for freelancers. If you want sound, honest advice about making a sustainable living from writing, read her book. (More about the book here.)

How To Make A Living as a Writer by James Scott Bell

This book from a former attorney and best-selling author, columnist, instructor and speaker explains the formula for financial success as a writer: you need to write both quantity – a body of work, not just one novel, even if it’s lucrative – and quality. Two dozen short chapters are laced with practical advice from how to write an elevator speech to the basic structure of a fiction plot. While the book is geared towards succeeding as a fiction writer, its principles touch on nonfiction markets, too. Bonus: I’m a nonfiction writer, but Jim’s book made me want to write fiction! (More about the book here.)

How To Make A Living With Your Writing: Books, Blogging, and More by Joanna Penn

Joanna has become a leading voice for author entrepreneurs and in this book she explains how to develop an “author entrepreneur” mindset by creating multiple income streams. The key is to focus on scalable income: those writing projects you create once, repackage, and sell over and over.  Use her book and the rest of her How-To series for writers to achieve financial independence as a writer. (More about this book.)

Jumpstart Your Writing Career & Snag Paying Assignments by Beth Ann Erickson

I love Beth Ann’s voice – down-to-earth and practical – that she uses to guide you through the first stages of launching a freelance writing career. This book is organized in short one- or two-page snippets that you can use to follow like a series of steps.  (More about this book.)

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Book blast and Review: Unlock Bliss by Dr Zeev Gilkis

Meet the master of the art of self-transformation!
Dr. Zeev Gilkis has experienced so many transformations in his life that he is a virtuoso in the art of change. In this inspiring memoir Dr. Gilkis will take you on an extraordinary journey through the many stops in his rich and diverse career. He went from being a "couch potato" geek, whose only workouts were playing chess and bridge, to becoming a surfer and triathlete, who competed in a triathlon, for the first time, at the age of 66! Not only that; after defeating advanced stage cancer he became a healthy and happy person. He shares everything with you in this book, in a perfect balance of anecdotes, popular science, and true wisdom that will help you unlock new paths to happiness. Rise above the slump and experience life with a smile. Read and discover his secrets... 

 Unlock Bliss is book three in the series Younger than ever. I never knew happiness has a formula. Dr Zeev dissected the topic in a mathematical way that I found interesting. Taking every scenario into account, he came to insightful conclusions. 

It is only when we face a valley that we are forced to seek the answers for ourselves. In Dr Zeev’s life, cancer was his motivator to become better acquainted with his body, mind, and spirit. Tapping into the resources available to him, he made it a scientific quest that led to his health, happiness, and the joy of life.

The book is written in an understandable way where I learned more about his driving force, as well as the more technical deductions he had discovered. Each step took him closer to a world of bliss, a very apt name for this book. Through the many stories as examples of his conclusions, I understand the why and also learn how to apply it to my own life. 

Each chapter concentrates on a specific subject. Through crafty illustrations, you learn how to make good decisions. How to play a game or invest in the stock market. Being a sufferer of headaches myself in my younger years, I can relate to his drive to find the solution. In my case, I had to learn to relax my jaw. But it cost me many visits to the hospital before that to find the ‘cure’. Once we recognise the triggers, we know what to avoid. Our brain is a wonderful machine that tells us what to do if we are willing to listen. The trick is to listen. 

I appreciated the summary at the end of each chapter. A recap or one-liner of what you have read in the simplest form. 

Through this book, I got to learn his way of thinking, his love for his children, his undying love for his wife, and his dedication to living life to the fullest. He is unashamed of his choices and what he has accomplished while paying it forward in a humble way. His drive to grow an inspiration to the younger generations.

Happiness is not about what you own. Happiness is staying in the present and enjoy what you have. This is apparent within this memoir. Once the big stones are in place it is easy to add the rest, but the key is to have the stones in place. This truth is evident throughout the book. 

This is a book a layman like myself and a scientific person will enjoy. His rational conclusions are valid. Something that I have to learn though is to stop being frustrated about the things I haven’t accomplished yet. My frustrations are my driving force but reading the book I realised how silly it is. In the end, I forget to enjoy life as well. It is a fine balance every person should learn to implement in their lives. 

Despite the globalization and social networks, the family is still the most important anchor in our life. Studies show, that one of the key impacts on happiness are the relations of children with their parents. It is not surprising, they were the first to give us encouragement, and to believe in us. So naturally we don’t want to disappoint them, and are happy to show them how well we manage and succeed in our life. I strongly believe that the first feedback we got from our parents stays with us for a lifetime and has a major impact on our self-esteem and self-assurance. Even when they get older and don’t have direct influence on our lives anymore, we still want to share with them the challenges we face, the progress we make and to hear their feedback. It is important for us how they see us: Winners or losers. If we receive the trust of our parents at an early age it strengthens our self-assurance and paves the road to success, let’s remember that, as parents. From my early childhood I admired Bobby Fisher. Robert James "Bobby" Fischer (1943 - 2008) was an American chess Grandmaster and the eleventh World Chess Champion. Many, including myself, consider him the greatest chess player of all times.

In 1972, he won the World Chess Championship beating Boris Spassky of the USSR in a match held in Reykjav√≠k, Iceland, publicized as a Cold War confrontation which attracted more worldwide interest than any chess championship ever. But in 1975, Fischer refused to defend his title and lost it. The 2014 movie “Pawn Sacrifice” allows a glimpse into Fisher’s life. It seems that despite his unprecedented achievements he was never happy. Bobby Fisher never met his father. His mother refused to tell him who his father was. I believe that his lacking “half" his parents could have been the major source of his weirdness and unhappy life.

Time summary

√ A lost pinch of gold can be found, a lost pinch of time, never.

√ Time is the most precious resource; it’s priceless, because it can’t be bought.

√ The modern man is losing some of his joy of life, because of being always in a hurry.

√ Does watching or listening to the news really contribute to our daily life and wellbeing?

√ It’s possible to measure time by events, the more events and experiences we have the longer our real life is. 

Friday, October 2, 2020

Book review The Cure by Athol Dickson

Sometimes The Cure is much worse than the disease.

Riley Keep, former missionary, now a drunk, is begging on the streets and desperate to forget a past he lost in one far-flung act of wickedness. Then he hears the rumours. Miracles are happening in the picture-postcard village of Dublin, Maine.

Riley isn't the only Pilgrim searching for deliverance. There's the old woman fleeing a horrific monster, the lonely wife tempted by forbidden desire, the impoverished lobsterman lured by tainted wealth, the young girl weighing life and death decisions, and the small-town cop with murder on his hands. But only Riley Keep will learn if it's true what people say: sometimes The Cure is much worse than the disease.

It took me a couple of years to get to this book. I have downloaded it back in 2012 when things in my life were falling apart and my life changed. Back then I was angry, disillusioned with life, marriage, church and God and I lost my way. The last thing I wanted to do was read another Christian book.

Now, after all these years I have found my way back
and enjoyed this book. The foundational scripture the author used is very appropriate for the storyline and it came alive through the character of Riley Keep. A man who lost his way after a heartbreaking experience as a missionary.

The storytelling took me right to the heart of the mystery Riley found himself in. A mystery that caused riots around him, false accusations to derail his family while this man tried to fix things the best he could.

The problem with fixing things from the natural has a tendency to backfire and in this book, it is a certain fact. Never rely on your own understanding. It is then that you think you are all-powerful, in control and untouchable. But as the wheels came off Riley realised his flaw. When God steps in you know you have to be meek in order to be strong.

A wonderful book with so much depth and empath that it touches your heart while you enjoy a good mystery thriller.

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Book review: Running Back in Time by Dr Zeev Gilkis



Dancing, running, surfing, biking, diving, swimming, and skiing… just to read this book makes me excited and tired (whispering). To think of competing in a triathlon at any age is tiresome but to do it at the age of 65 is almost unheard of. Here is a man 12 years my senior doing all of the above with so much energy that I feel ashamed of my own efforts.

Facing some health problems, he approached it more like a hurdle and adjust his eating and exercise habits in such a manner which only propels him forward. Investing in himself is cardinal to meeting his goal and you can clearly see the results through the many pictures added. I am amazed how in tune he is with his body; every message of his body adhered to and adjusted to achieve his goal.

“Am I enjoying this moment?” a determining factor in his life and how he lives.

His positive outlook is absolutely remarkable. In a conversational way, Dr Zeev tells about his daily routine, his preparations for the different events, and his feelings after the race. An open book filled with nuggets of wisdom and insights into his life. He hides nothing of his difficulties but shares it from a scientific viewpoint while focussing on the how in a positive way. Unblemished and clear you understand his reasoning and the results speak for themselves.

I cannot help but feel encouraged and mesmerized by his way of life and the method he follows. His analytic approach helps us to understand this path more deeply.

He is clearly a proud man that lives his life as he pleases, but humble in so many ways. I didn’t get the idea that he tried to show off his superior knowledge with me. It was more like a show and tell that opens his world to me with a greater depth you get from similar books.

The pictures added an extra layer to his story which I really enjoyed. His trips to India and his meditation breakaways, reveal his spirituality and the importance of a well-balanced person. Balancing is an art form, he perfected with positiveness. His extensive knowledge improves his ideas with finesse as he explains it while keeping it lively and to the point.

“I feel my body, observe it as it moves, almost effortlessly, almost by itself. But I also “feel” the road. Is an everyday way of life to him.

There are so much that we as the younger generation can learn from him. His knowledge and wisdom an eye-opening experience that makes you think.

I wish you luck Dr Zeev. I know that the next year and the marathon will be a wonderful success.

Truly, an awesome book.


Mind Over Matter

The quote below is attributed to Marilyn Monroe:

“The sky is not the limit. Our mind is.”

Everything originates in the mind.

There are moments of doubt, and whether I continue or not, go for it and fight or give up, depends only on my determination. Determination is ruled by the mind. I owe all my sport achievement to the mind first. Pursuing training is the result of the mind’s decision.


Our well-being is built on four pillars: physical activity, proper nutrition, social life (friends, family, and community) and mental or spiritual attitude. Most people believe in God and that can definitely be helpful when they are true believers and their faith is deep and strong. For many it is just habit, something shallow, not having much significant impact on their lives. In modern times, in the Western World, many ancient Eastern techniques have been introduced that are greatly contributing to the quality of life of many people. I’m one of these. I learned Transcendental Meditation (TM), as taught by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, when I was 27 and it has changed my life. It has given me greater peace of mind, short periods of effective rest during the afternoon, that enable me to perform well for the rest of the day, a “shrink” in times of crisis and a great tool for dealing with stressful situations. It has also opened for me a window into the spiritual world.

Running an 18K Run for the First Time!

September 4th. My first 18K! Really not easy… Various parts of my body seemed to wake up and start complaining and making demands. Some of my pains left as quickly as they arrived while others of varying intensity decided to stay. An interesting process of getting to know one’s body… I liked the second part of the run better. The beginning is always more difficult, the brain probably needs time to understand what I am demanding of it and of my body… And there are always fears and doubts, just what pains will I be experiencing this time…?

In the past, I would finish each run with a sprint, I really enjoyed it. I like speed. But now, when the goal is to cover greater and greater distances, I prefer to slow down at the finish to take it easy. The idea is to not feel completely exhausted at the end but still able to run. The logic behind this is as follows: I could run that distance and I wasn’t exhausted at the end. Therefore, I can run even more! Next time adding 500 meters, or even more, shouldn’t be an issue! So far it has worked. In mathematics it’s called coming to a conclusion by induction. According to this math logic, I can run forever. We will see.

The Triathlon Season September 27th – Netanya Triathlon

I don’t take for granted my returning at age sixty-eight and a half, to again compete in a triathlon, with full Olympic distances:

1.5 kilometers swimming in the sea

40 kilometers by bike

10 kilometers run

It was a long swim, it felt like it would never end. At the end the Garmin (my sport watch and best buddy) showed that I had swum 2,250 meters, which is fifty percent longer than the Olympic distance! After the competition, the organizers admitted that the distance had been 2 kilometers instead of the required 1.5, because the buoys had drifted out with the current… The other 250 meters I added because I had failed to swim in a straight line and had deviated from one side to the other, especially when returning to shore, I had been blinded by the sun. I concluded that it is important to swim straight– the shortest distance. I will have to give this priority and to work on it. The biking was good; my average speed was 26 kilometers an hour with a total time of an hour and half. Because of the heat, the run was reduced to 5 kilometers. I eventually finished it with 3:03, still a reasonable time.

At the closing ceremony, I was surprised when I was recognized as #1 in my category.

Dream big. Set ambitious goals. Attain unusual achievements.

At the age of 68, while still recovering from his second knee injury, Dr. Zeev Gilkis decided to give himself an unusual present for his 70th birthday.

He dreamed of running a full Marathon, and completing the seventh decade of his life seemed to him the ideal timing to do so.

Perhaps this ambitious goal wouldn’t have been so unusual, had he been a very physically active person in his younger years. But Zeev is a cancer survivor who began his ‘career’ in sports relatively late, in his mid-sixties.

As two years is a long time, he set a milestone for his 69th birthday: to go mid-way - running a half marathon.

Along with his plans and dreams he kept a diary where he recorded the ups and downs, practical tips and original thoughts that crossed his mind in this long, challenging journey.

Join Zeev in this adventure and discover that age doesn't matter. You too can achieve anything you truly dream of.

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Review: The Murmur of Bees by Sofia Segovia

From a beguiling voice in Mexican fiction comes an astonishing novel—her first to be translated into English—about a mysterious child with the power to change a family’s history in a country on the verge of revolution.

From the day old Nana Reja found a baby abandoned under a bridge, the life of a small Mexican village forever changed. Disfigured and covered in a blanket of bees, little Simonopio is for some locals the stuff of superstition, a child kissed by the devil. But he is welcomed by landowners Francisco and Beatriz Morales, who adopt him and care for him as if he were their own. As he grows up, Simonopio becomes a cause for wonder to the Morales family, because when the uncannily gifted child closes his eyes, he can see what no one else can—visions of all that’s yet to come, both beautiful and dangerous. Followed by his protective swarm of bees and living to deliver his adoptive family from threats—both human and those of nature—Simonopio’s purpose in Linares will, in time, be divined.

Set against the backdrop of the Mexican Revolution and the devastating influenza of 1918, The Murmur of Bees captures both the fate of a country in flux and the destiny of one family that has put their love, faith, and future in the unbelievable.  

I am not a big fan of translated stories but since I cannot speak Mexican, I had to trust my gut about this book. It was recommended to me by Goodreads and thought why not. Let me expand my knowledge.
I was not disappointed.

Simonopio’s story is written with so much empathy and understanding that I simply could not put this book down. And I believe the translation was spot on because the essences of the story came through in each word and sentence and could I enjoy this historical read to the fullest. The author’s ability to capture my imagination by the amicable storytelling had me from page one.

It is storytelling at its best. As a reader, I was taken on a journey, back in time when Influenza played a huge role in the reshaping of the world.
At one stage, I wondered if the 2020 pandemic has influenced my thoughts, since the same changes are visible all around us. But this was worth every minute I spend within this book.

The relevance of the history and Simonopio's story, even today is heartfelt as you venture into this world of surviving everyday life with the unusual boy accompanied by bees. The relationship between man and bees is well-known but, in this story, it felt as if I could understand the hive and their reasons for protecting the boy. The delicate relationship of trust and determination between them added a subtle twist into the story. Knowing that something is about to happen but unsure.
The continual built up gives you glimpses of life on this farm and the people that lived there. The subtle nuances between landowner and workers became part of the suspense. Written in the third person, I had a good understanding of each character’s thoughts which enhanced the storyline greatly.

Simonopio’s character though was absolutely the best to follow. This boy could not speak a word but through the eyes of the author, this character felt like an old soul with so much wisdom that I was mesmerized. His actions are genuine and insightful as you tagged along.

Nana Reja’s character also filled me with curious wonder. Her tale just as unusual and fitting to the story.

Within all these events, evil loomed like dangerous cancer which only the bees were aware of. The bees and Simonopio. An evil with no name but growing in intensity. As his journey continues it grew while the world went off their lives as normal as always.

The trail always leading Simonopio onwards. Seasons come and goes and each time the intensity grows with the boy. Like a fever, it builds till that moment of revelation. The small breaks like the discovery of orange blossoms gave realism to the plot and you are plunged into time, progress and growth.

A book I can recommend to every reader that likes the delicate intricacies of a well-written tale.


Sunday, September 6, 2020

Review: The Farm: On Practical Wisdom by George Benda

The Farm, set in the second global energy crisis, juxtaposes Jack's high-flying energy career with his pursuit of an idyllic life with his new bride, Anna. Together with Jack's old philosophical friend, Ben, and Ben's wife, Rebecca, the couples explore a path to practical wisdom in the nuclear age. Jack and Ben, learning from their jobs and their marriages, distill out from the noise and tumult seven essential criteria in achieving happiness and a good life, the measure of practical wisdom in all ages and cultures.

“This pulls it together for me. The things that look like they cloud practical wisdom sort of gravitating to narcissism. I’m right; you’re wrong. I’m important; you’re not. My friends are like me; you’re not. Most of all, I want what I want, consequences are damned.”

This is a quote that brings this story together for me. The true meaning of the plot and what to expect.

Taken back to the late 70’s you step back in a world of faxes, pagers and cryptic messages where no one can be trusted. It’s the time of nuclear threats, Chernobyl, already lefts its mark on history and it’s a global fight about knowledge and power. Old lovers create interesting plots and couples tries to live an ordinary life while espionage and industrial terrorism threatens to bring it all to an end.

The Farm, On Practical Wisdom, is not a non-fictitious book as I thought at first. But a technical story that touches on Marx philosophy, Madame Curie’s death and nuclear disarmament as the group of scientists, and CIA agents rush against time to disarm another global energy disaster.

The delicate relationship between Russia and America cleverly weaved into the fabric of this growing plot that takes you across the borders into the heart of this crisis.

It is not my usual read and I feel a bit left out at times. As if the choppiness left me in a daze. The flow robotic and I miss the elegance a good story invokes. The exploration into the nuclear age practical wisdom gave it an interesting spiel. As the patterns reveal itself to us, we are left with thought-provoking points that are relevant for today. The book is one big dialogue that springs from one event to the next but strangely it works within the book’s genre. The unusual writing style left me hanging at times. I had no real connection with the characters, feeling one-dimensional. Like stick figures and then the author would surprise me with some good description to draw everything together.

The author comes right to the point with no-nonsense at the end.

George Benda grew up in the Chicago area. Born with a passion for the natural world and improving the environment, Benda studied first science, then politics, and ultimately philosophy to answer his burning question: how do we resolve the expanding conflict between human activity and the well-being of the planet on which we live?

Book clubs? Libraries? Academics? These are forums in which that burning question can be explored and answers formulated. Benda actively supports all of those pathways to a broader understanding. He offers free readers guides, Zoom sessions, and more. 

Check out some resources:

Benda started writing philosophical dialogues in 1977 while still a graduate student at the University of Chicago. He was inspired by Plato to experiment with dialectic styles. After multiple abandoned manuscripts, he found in Elmore Leonard a modern style of dialogue he could adapt to serious thinking -- propelling readers with strong storylines and action, as well. From this synthesis came the Jack Slack Shoebox Dialogue series.

The first in the series, The City, took nearly 40 years to mature. Those 40 years were filled with an active life and events which have inspired most of the dramatic plots of the Shoebox Dialogues -- fictionalized, of course, but a granular look at history. The action in the dialogues provides an intimate glimpse at the realities that lie behind the headlines and belie the history as told by the winners.

Benda started his career in government at age 18, working in natural areas preservation. He was Director of Energy Programs for the State of Illinois at age 27. Those years -- the late 1970s through the early 1980s -- proved to be the emergent years for today's global issues of both climate change and political turmoil fueled by an unending energy crisis.

Since leaving public service in 1983, Benda has been in the private sector, leading companies in sustainability, indoor environmental quality, and energy efficiency improvement. He has been the CEO of Chelsea Group, Ltd since 1990. Benda's company has won numerous awards for innovation in energy efficiency. Often a controversial figure in his industry, Benda has never escaped the universe of turmoil that enmeshed him in his early years.

Now residing on Molokai, a small island south and east of Honolulu, Benda still works diligently on environmental issues through his role as President of the Molokai Land Trust. Always engaged in both a life of action and a life of the mind, he continues to collect stories and plot lines, characters, and emotions that enliven his novels. Serious thinking has rarely been so much fun.

 “Reading Marx got me thinking about the nature of work. The work you and I do is advancing technology, reshaping the work,” Jack responded. 

“Isn’t all work like that? As you start building something, variations in materials… or changing goals… or altered aesthetics… or maybe an ah-ha moment of how to make things better, easier… any of those things can change at least the direction, sometimes the nature of the work.” “You need to take the longer view of what Marx says,” Ben argued. 

“Work is only part of it. Work, music, contemplation, socialization – it takes all of these and to do that takes balance. Achieve that balance and maybe you’re happy. Three areas for personal accomplishment and one shared area. Get something done and then talk about it. I know that sharing my accomplishments with others brings me that sense of wellbeing that I associate with happiness.”

“And accomplishment means what? Personal benefit? Societal benefit? Happiness – is that your personal happiness? Familial happiness? Societal happiness?” “I don’t think there is such a thing as societal happiness,” Ben said, eyebrows lifted. “Au contraire! Have you never heard of the tiny kingdom of Bhutan?” Jack, voice filled with glee. “They measure the prosperity of the country on its gross domestic happiness instead of its gross domestic product.” 

“Okay, okay, but stick to the argument here, Jack. Your question is a good one. We already answered it in part – we tied happiness to justice. Help your friends, harm no one. I believe practical wisdom also has to be anchored in something more positive, more beneficial, than justice alone. And I assert that the something we are looking for is happiness.” Jack nodded concurrence. Journal out, Jack again scribbled: Practical wisdom is the ability to build on good decisions and actions to make a good life, the standard for which is happiness.

Excerpt # 2

The car, Evie thought, was the perfect cover. 1956 Ford pick-up. Exterior beaten to crap, the guts beefed up and tuned to race-car perfection. Her blue jeans and plaid cotton shirt, tucked in, combined with her long blond hair, parted in the middle, made for a solid country look. She pulled up to the feed store – a combination of farm supplies, hardware, and a sort of snack bar that might elsewhere pass for a trendy coffee shop because of the authentic rocking chairs out front. Rural West Virginia – no place like it. Heads turned when she walked in – tall slender blond, new to town. Country boys filled the place. Lots of beards, plenty of bald spots covered with seed caps. Evie flashed them a warm smile and tossed out a casual “Hey.”

Evie walked up to the snack bar counter and asked for a cup of coffee. The young man behind the counter straightened and adjusted his cap to a jauntier angle. “My cousin Arlin lives up in one of the hollers, or at least that’s what he tells my pappy. You know him?” Evie asked the boy at the counter. “Uh, no ma’am. Don’t know no Arlin ‘round here.” 

“Maybe there’s a town records office? My pappy’s worried. Could be Arlin up and died and nobody knows…” Evie said. “Ma’am, it’s a quiet little town. Not kindly to strangers poking around. Can I help you find what you need?”

Evie smiled at the boy and smiled to herself. Her first field test complete. She recruited a source for information in a closed community. Her first operative. Mission accomplished. DDD “It was a hero’s welcome at the office today, and I owe it all to you!” Novovic exclaimed, popping a bottle of champagne in his Lake Shore Drive apartment. “That is so wonderful, my love,” Tanya crooned, thinking: two, maybe three more days. “How was your day, sweetheart?” he asked. “A good day,” she smiled. “No one died in my arms.”

“Excellent,” he said. “Do you think you could take some time off tomorrow and come meet the crew? I haven’t told them it was your idea, but I’d like to introduce you to my colleagues.” Her eyes darted.

Excerpt #3

Wednesday, 28 March 1979, about 4:00 am. Three Mile Island Nuclear Generating Station, near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Cycle 10,942 of Novovic’s optimization program. The control algorithm switched off the main feedwater pumps, which normally sent water to the steam generators that remove heat from the reactor core. “Sir,” the plant operator, a well-trained nuclear engineer, said to his floor supervisor. “Sir, we have an excursion in the feedwater pumps. I’m trying to override the software now.”

The plant’s turbine-generator, and then the reactor, automatically shut down. Immediately, the pressure in the primary cooling system for the nuclear reactors began to increase. “The system is not responding properly, sir.” Older safety algorithms kicked in to control that pressure, opening the relief valve at the top of the pressure vessel. The valve should have closed when the pressure fell to proper levels. It did not. “There it goes, sir, the pressure is dropping.” “Is the safety protocol working correctly now, Aaron?” asked the floor supervisor. “It looks correct for the data I see, sir.”

The new optimization software continued in its cycle, overriding the safety algorithm. It held the valve open. Instruments in the control room indicated to the plant staff that the valve was closed. The operator opened his emergency protocol manual and ran through a checklist. “Pressure is nominal, sir. I think the relief valve closed and the pumps should restart in their normal mode. Looks like everything is back under control.” Unaware that cooling water was pouring out of the stuck-open valve, the supervisor nodded to Aaron and went back to his crossword puzzle. Coolant continued to flow from the primary system through the valve. “Uh, sir, we have another excursion. Coolant pressure just alarmed.”

The supervisor threw aside the newspaper and shouted: “Everyone, check and report!”

The seven operators frantically checked every gauge. Shouts of “nominal” filled the room. Every instrument indicated that system parameters were normal. There was no sensor, no instrumentation, that showed how much water covered the core. The new sensors installed at Novovic’s direction, and his new software routines, all indicated that the pressurized water level was sufficient. All parameters appeared nominal. The core must have been properly covered with water. It was not. A new round of alarms rang, and warning lights flashed. A wide range of parameters was no longer nominal, but the patterns made no sense. Following the protocol books for each out-of-range parameter, operators adjusted controls and made incremental changes. Conditions worsened.

“Everyone remains calm,” the supervisor said above the rising din of operator panic. Stacks of operation manuals and incident protocol handbooks were pulled from desk drawers wedged into the ledges of the control panels. Books flopped open on the central table, normally used for reviews of operations reports. Shouts of commands disappeared in the cacophony of voices. “Get that coolant pressure down,” shouted the supervisor. “Open the reliefs.” The operators received no indication that the plant was experiencing a loss-of-coolant event. No action was taken to reverse the coolant loss.

TBR List / Amazon 

Monday, August 24, 2020

Interview with Marie Lavender

1. What makes you proud to be a writer from Indiana? 

Hmm…tough question. Being a Hoosier is a condition. We’re more grounded, yet somehow backward hicks at other times. LOL. For example, I heard a story once about someone who went Mardi Gras in New Orleans. Quite a few of the girls around the group were going topless, and when they were asked to do the same, they all said, “Nah, we’re from Indiana.” So, I rest my case. It’s a thing. We also tend to mispronounce words, which really drives me nuts as a writer. I catch myself doing it in conversation now and then. 

So, as for being proud of where I come from? There are disadvantages, but I guess one upside is that I can look at some crazy situations that are supposedly ‘normal’, and then wonder what’s wrong with people. And yet, I think I’m a little more openminded than most of my family, so it balances out. 

2. What or who inspired you to become a writer? 

It was probably a collective of experiences and my love of literature that first sparked my interest in it. Not to mention I couldn’t get the stories in my head to go away without writing them all down. 

3. When did you begin writing with the intention of becoming published? 

So early. From the age of nine, I knew this was what I wanted to do. I spent a lot of time researching the industry, while also honing my craft. However, I didn’t actually get published until 2010. 

4. Did your environment or upbringing play a significant role in your writing and did you use it to your advantage? 

Our close family ties have inspired me to funnel the same sense of ‘family’ in many of my book series. Diversely, I would have to say that being from a small town helped to open my mind to writing about worlds and cities I wasn’t familiar with. 

5. Do you come up with your title before or after you write the manuscript? 

It depends on the project. Sometimes I know what the title is in the beginning, but usually, I come up with a the temporary title just to save the document, and change it later. 

6. Please introduce your genre and why you prefer to write in that genre? 

I usually write in various subgenres of romance, but now and then, I have surprised myself with story ideas that venture further out. One of my latest books, Chasing Ginger, is a steamy romantic comedy. It’s actually the first time I’ve ever written a rom-com, though I’m familiar enough with those kinds of books and movies. 

7. What has been your most rewarding experience with your writing process? 

I think the most rewarding part of writing is knowing that you’ve honored your vision for the story, that you’ve held the life and tale of the character you’re writing about with capable hands. The knowledge that I did my best and then it’s time for someone else to see my work is both terrifying and exciting. 

8. Have you had a negative experience in your writing career? If so, please explain how it could have been avoided? 

There are often pitfalls in a writer’s career. I think the biggest mistake I made was to reach out to my favorite author in the genre and ask for a recommendation of my first traditionally published romance novel. Just a simple quote to put on the published book. I won’t name names here, but her response turned me off her work for life. She was unreasonably unkind. She only had to say no, she didn’t have the time, and I would’ve understood. Instead, that well-known author chose to not only try to read the book, but to tear every inch of it apart based on the first chapter alone, despite the fact that the book was already set to be published by a good company. It would’ve been different if I had asked for a real critique before I’d ever submitted the manuscript to anyone. 

So…I would say to others to be incredibly careful if you’re set to meet one of your idols. You may be disappointed in the experience. 

9. What has been the most rewarding experience in your publishing journey? 

Meeting new readers has been so much fun! Plus, it’s always nice to earn book awards, or to even garner good reviews. That makes you feel like maybe all the time and effort you put into writing the novel was really worth it. 

10. What one positive piece of advice would you give to other authors? 

Always come back to why you began this journey in the first place. Remember the reason you write stories. If it’s because you live for being ‘in the zone’, when the pen is flowing and the characters’ tales are unfolding before you on the page, then you got into this for the right reasons. Because doing it for a paycheck or any other monetary purpose won’t carry you too far for long. We all want to be able to survive financially, but you must also love writing with everything you are, or you’ll never find fulfillment. 

11. Who is your favourite author? 

Right now, it’s probably J.R. Ward. I love her paranormal romances. 

12. Which book title would you like featured in this interview? 

Chasing Ginger (Review will follow at a later stage.) 

13. If you are a multi-book author, please tell me three of your favourite book titles: 

Chasing Ginger 

Magick & Moonlight 

Blue Vision 

Published books with purchase links: 


Release date: March 2nd, 2014. Second edition release date: April 2, 2020. 


Release date: March 10th, 2020 

Universal reader link:


Release date: February 14th, 2017. Second edition release date: February 28, 2020. 

Universal reader link:


Release date: November 13, 2016. Second edition release date: December 1, 2019. 

Universal reader link:


Release date: May 30th, 2018 

Universal reader link:


Release date: July 25th, 2017 

Universal reader link:


Release date: October 19th, 2015 

*Always free on Amazon, B&N, Smashwords, Kobo and iTunes 


Release date: July 20th, 2015 

Universal reader link:


Release date: December 8, 2014 

Universal reader link:

Website Links: 

EMAIL LANDINGPAGE: Sign up for Marie’s Newsletter: 

Personal Questions: 

1. What is your favourite colour? 

Hot pink. 

2. Are you a sweet or savoury person? 

I’m pleasant with most people, but I can be salty when pushed enough. I guess savory. 

3. What time do you write best? 

Any time, but it flows better in the evenings, right before I go to sleep. 

4. Favourite music or song? 

Paramore or OneRepublic 

5. How do you manage writer’s block? 

I stay focused on a deadline. If I’m struggling, I’ll take a break for a while, or try writing exercises to try to get my motivation back. At other times, I must climb through the chaos of writer’s block to find my way back. Later on, I’ll realize I needed the space to figure out a plot problem. 

6. What social platform do you enjoy most and why? 

I think you can get to know people better on Facebook, but if I’m just posting about blogs or author news, it’s faster to do Twitter or Instagram. But if I had a choice, probably Facebook. 

7. What artist’s date do you do where no one else is allowed except writing? 

If you’re asking about NaNoWriMo, I don’t subscribe to confining myself to a certain date or time. However, if I am fully immersed in a project, I try to work on an aspect of the book every day, even if it’s just research. 

8. What is next on your To-Do List? I still need to finish up some final details on my romantic mystery collection before I start edits. 

9. Where do you like to go on holiday? 

I don’t take a lot of vacations, but I prefer coastal spots to get away when I can afford it.

To feature on this blog, contact me at for your book blast.

8 Books for Freelance Writers

Article shared from Non-Profit  Freelance writers – and those who want to be one – know one of the cardinal rules of the wri...