Posted in Thoughts, Uncategorized

Truth in Fiction

For many of us who write fiction, at least I know this is true of myself and some of my writing friends, we broach subjects with our fiction that might not be easily discussed in real life. I can write about a character’s difficulties following her rape from her self-medicating to her pushing others away, but only a therapist or close friend could discuss this touchy subject with a real person. Showing a character going through something so heartbreaking and difficult allows the reader and writer to empathize.

With fiction we can allow a reader and even the writers ourselves to live for a bit in the skin of a person who is hurting so we might better understand those around us who are also hurting. I’m not saying all fiction is therapy or designed to enlighten. Fiction is first and foremost written to entertain, but within our entertainment if we can also learn something or experience something, that is an added bonus.

When I think about some of the books that have touched my soul and left their mark. I’m reminded that not everyone reads the same way I do. Some people simply read a book and move on, but others absorb a book until it becomes a part of them. John Hart’s book The Last Child left me feeling raw and vulnerable. It was one of those books that even years after reading it, I still remember parts of the story, and the main character, thirteen-year-old Johnny Merrimon.

Have you ever read a book that affected you strongly? I’d love to hear about it. Share some of your favorites or most memorable books and I’ll share some of mine.

The Truth about Lord Stoneville by Sabrina Jeffries

The Demon Duke by Margaret Locke

The Elemental series by Brigid Kemmerer

Blake Crouch’s Good Behavior and Pines

Posted in backstory, my books, News, promo

In Honor of My Interview with Jeff Aydelette of The County Compass

More of the Story…

The County Compass will be featuring a brief interview with me Thursday, January 19th. To celebrate, I’ve put together a little behind the story information and I’ve placed all of my eBooks on sale for 99 cents through Tuesday, January 24th at all eBook retailers and on my website.

I started out writing historical romantic fiction. I even sent off a couple of manuscripts, pieces of manuscripts and hundreds of query letters to agents and publishers long before doing it by email was a thing. But then tragedy struck and we lost our home to a house fire that pretty much wiped us out. My husband got us all out with our lives. I still have flashbacks of that night.

After losing all of my research books, my big computer and files, my husband and friends encouraged me to get back to writing. I took an online class about creating characters. The instructor said describe someone. I chose my husband. The next day, she told us to change their gender, ethnicity, keep some of their traits but expand others. I wasn’t sure if I’d ever write again but with the love and support of my family, friends and writers’ groups, Rae Lynne was created.

My town, Aurora was the inspiration for the fictional town of Leeward. I decided on a fictional town in order to have a little more creative freedom, but locals recognize places like the Depot Café as Wayside, the Hardhat Lounge and of course, the fossil museum and library.

Chrome Pink was inspired by several things that happened at nearly the same time. I’d created the character Rae Lynne but she was just a paper doll, I didn’t have the rest of her story, but my husband and his boss were restoring a motorcycle in memory of a nephew who’d passed away. At the same time my friend’s mother was diagnosed with breast cancer and my sister-in-law was always volunteering me for something or other that had to do with Relay-for-Life or other projects. Then I met one of my sons’ friends, a lovely half-Hispanic lady who was very kind but she was tattooed and pierced. When I asked about the tats and piercings, my son simply said, she’d had a rough life. From there, I found Rae Lynne and had my theme for Chrome Pink.

Reading that North Carolina was ranked 9th in human trafficking and growing up listening to seafood trucks running in the middle of the night got my imagination playing in the dark. What if they weren’t really carrying seafood, or not just seafood?

The Leeward Files was supposed to be a three-book series about three best friends: Rae Lynne-Chrome Pink, Dana Windley-White Gold, and Jenna McKenzie Roberts-Titanium Blue who uncover the town of Leeward’s darkest secrets while finding their strengths and falling in love.

White Gold’s Dana Windley is a force to be reckoned with. She is one of the ladies all small towns need who gets jobs done whether it’s volunteering to coach a youth ball team or organize the local beauty pageant. My sister-in-law loves this book best because she knows she’s one great ladies who inspired the main character. Dana is a plus-size multiracial woman who carves out a place for herself and becomes a hero all little girls can look up to.

Titanium Blue has Jenna McKenzie and her estranged husband Tar Roberts struggling to get on with their lives after separating. This was the first book my son, Jason and his wife, Brandi helped me with. Since they were both in the Army their insight helped me make my character Tar, who was an Afghanistan vet who lost his leg and was dealing with PTSD more real. Jason served two tours in Afghanistan but thankfully returned home and is now retired from the Army.

After writing the first three books I wasn’t ready to leave the town of Leeward. Evergreen Crystals was supposed to be my first true romance with Rae’s wedding, but I can’t write anything without a murder and blowing something up. “Holidays, weddings and babies are happy occasions until someone ends up dead.” Or in Rae Lynne’s case, arrested.

Red Steel is the final book in The Leeward Files series, my youngest son, a volunteer firefighter and his wife, a photographer, helped me with this book, and were the inspiration for the young couple Billy Grimes and Tracy Harrell. This is the final book is also the spin-off for The Harrell Family Chronicles.

The Harrell Family Chronicles came about from a dream my husband and I had as a young married couple of owning our own camp. I grew up in the community of South Creek which was at one time known as Stanton-Harrell thus the name, the Harrell Family Chronicles. The Harrell family turned part of a failing farm into a family campground. The middle brother, Charlie and his wife, Liz have seven children and they run the family campgrounds. Charlie’s older brother John runs the farm and his younger brother, Robert is a hunting and fishing guide.

The first book in the series was actually written third when I realized Red Steel couldn’t be the last of The Leeward Files and the first in The Harrell Family Chronicles. Willow’s Retreat deals with estranged married couple John and Willow, the oldest of the Harrell brothers and his wife, Dr. Willow Rider. The difficulty I had in writing this book was how can two people be married for thirty years and not know each other. With my husband’s help I tried to show the relationship and the couple’s choice to stay or go, and how they found their happy ending. Using my research into therapy animals, PTSD and trauma, I tried to craft a story that was both romantic and suspenseful with the deeper story of family.

All of my stories have family as part of the theme whether it is the family we’re born with or one we create. Even though my stories are fiction, I feel it is important to portray honest relationships. Red Steel and Willow’s Retreat also show the family that comes about through shared experiences, such as being part of the local volunteer firefighters.

Janie’s Secrets is about mistakes and second chances. Janie hides behind the safety of her life as a small-town librarian, she even lives at home. She’s afraid to take chances. Afraid of getting hurt and making mistakes. But life is about risk, and if we aren’t taking a risks are we really living? This is a second chance romance.

Roxy’s Betrayal was a lot of fun to write. Where Janie was the good girl in the family who never did anything wrong, well, Roxy was just the opposite. She was known for her bad girl antics and it takes something truly serious to make her forget about herself and put someone else first. But even trying to do the right thing, a bad girl’s got to do a little bad along the way…and boy does she have fun doing it. She falls for the wrong guy who just might be her Mr. Right and together, they save the day. But even being the hero of the story might not be enough to salvage her relationship with her family. She had to betray them to save them. Will they understand?

Christmas Inn at Teach’s Island slipped away from Leeward but not too far. After a visit to Bath, I decided I needed to write a story with it as my backdrop, so I created Teach’s Island ( a combo of Indian Island and Bath). Hurricane Irene devastated this area and took several years to recuperate from. People who don’t live in areas affected by hurricanes don’t understand the devastation. I thought this Christmas romance was a good way to show the rebuilding of the small community and making my bad guy the hurricane instead of a person was good for a change. I also used this novella to set up the next book.

Trent’s Melody was partially written several years ago but I couldn’t get it right. I think the timing was wrong. Using some of the previously written material, I managed to recreate the idea and make a few changes. Trent is Tracy’s twin brother. He’s as different from her as chalk from cheese but I had to dig deep to understand why. This story revealed itself to me like an onion peeling layers away to reveal something new each time. Of all the books I’ve written Trent’s story touched my heart in ways I never expected. For one, it helped me understand one of my sons better. I had a couple of contests, one a song writing contest where my writer friend, K B Davenport sent an awesome song that fit so well within the story. If you love music competition shows like The Voice and home improvement shows like Rock the Block, you’ll enjoy this story.

I am working on Remy’s Dilemma the last in The Harrell Family Chronicles (for now). I won’t completely leave this world but the next book will be a new point of entry for the series and I’d like to lighten things up, do a little romantic comedy. I don’t know if I can write a book without murdering someone and blowing things up, but I will try. Maybe…

My historical novel, The Americans are Coming, is a cozy mystery. This is more family friendly but I still managed to blow a few things up and kill a couple of people. I can’t help it, it’s an addiction. When seventeen-year-old, wild west show performer Winnie Applegate’s brother Riley is accused of causing the death of a fellow performer, Winnie seeks to prove him innocent. Instead, she uncovers a murder and a family secret that could put her brother and father at risk. What does a mysterious benefactor, an invitation to England and a family secret have to do with murder and sabotage? Winnie along with the young man she plans to marry, and a female Pinkerton agent will uncover the truth of who is really trying to sabotage Colonel Bill Dexter’s Wild West Extravaganza even if it kills them.

Posted in event, my books, News, poetry, promo, road trip

Over 30 Local Authors with Over 100 Titles

Join Us Sunday, November 20th from 1 to 4 pm at the New Bern Farmers Market

Thanks to the efforts of author Sarah Maury Swan, she has brought together an eclectic group of authors and poets for a one-day only sale at the New Bern Farmers Market, 421 South Front Street, New Bern, NC. Sarah was featured on my Creekside Cafe author interviews.

I met Sarah many years ago at a Pamlico Writers’ Conference and later we attended a Carteret Writers’ Meeting together. Sarah is a vibrant woman with so much passion for life and writing that just being around her is inspiring. While many people would make excuses not to do things, Sarah looks for ways to get them accomplished. If she doesn’t know how, she calls on her friends and she has a lot of them which is evident by the number of people who have signed up for this event.

Bill, or W. C. Furney is one of Sarah’s posse, he might even be the sheriff of this motley crew. It is thanks to his efforts that we have the poster with all of our covers. I have used his work to make a few of my own, thanks Bill for helping to promote this event. I am looking forward to a drink with Bill and a chance to pick his brain.

The list of authors attending the Sunday Author Event is astounding. We have authors who are award winning like Sarah and Eileen Lettick, Leslie Tall Manning and Michelle Garren Flye, we have professors, researchers, therapists, poets, leaders in the local arts, and more. Whether you are looking for non-fiction, poetry or genre fiction, something for yourself, your spouse, grandma or your children, we have something for everyone. Come check out our books and get a signed copy for the holidays. I will even have gift wrapping available.

If you are unable to attend the New Bern Farmers Market Authors’ Event, you can still connect with these authors and buy their books through these links.

1*Hope Andersen

2*Mike Barton Fantasy

3* Nathan Black Poetry

4*Phil Bowie Mystery

5* Rosemary Klim Bricker Non-fiction

6*Chris Brown  Self Help

7 *Paloma Capanna Eclectic  

8*Heather Cobham

9*Karen Dodd Eclectic

10 *Bill Furney

11 *Michelle Garren Flye Poetry &

12*Beth Garver Cozy Mystery/Fantasy The Java Tavern Series


13* Diane Gray Non-Fiction finding her birth

14* Sherri Hollister Cozy Mystery

15* Nicole Kerr NF Self Help

16*Deirdre Kiernan PB 

17*Jo Anna Kloster MG

18*Veronica Krug Fantasy

19* Eileen Lettick Children’s; https//

20* Julie Lombard Eclectic

21*Leslie Tall Manning Eclectic

22*Nina Makhatadze Eclectic

23*Barbara McCreary MG Historical

24 *Murinda MacDonald nonfiction

25 * Sue McIntyre: email: 

26 *Cheryl Meola non-fiction

27*Margaret Pollock MG

28*Timothy Reinhardt Fantasy

29* Robert Reinschild/DeForest Shields Fiction https://

30* Natalie Singletary ? Eclectic

31*Blaine Staat Sci-Fi, Dystopian

32*Cyrus Spears (a.k.a. Sirius) Fantasy

33*Sarah Maury Swan Children’s YA & MG

34 *Sev Tok Spiritual

35* Stanley Trice Eclectic

Children’s Books

Hope Andersen

Deirdre Kiernan PB

Jo Anna Dressler Kloster MG

Eileen Lettick MG & YA

Barbara McCreary MG Historical

Margaret Pollock MG

Sarah Maury Swan MG & YA


Paloma Capanna

Karen Dodd

Michelle Garren Flye

Julie Lombard

Nina Makhatadze

Leslie Tall Manning

Sue McIntyre

Natalie Singletary

Stanley Trice



Mike Barton

Veronica Krug

Timothy Reinhardt

Cyrus Spears a.k.a. Sirius

Blaine Staat Sci-Fi, Dystopian


William Charles Furney

Heather Cobham

Robert Reinschild/DeForest Shields


Phil Bowie

Beth Garver

Sherri Lupton Hollister


Memoir, etc.

Rosemary Klim Bricker

Cheryl Meola

Murinda MacDonald


Diane Gray

Self Help

Hope Andersen

Chris Brown

Nicole Kerr


Sev Tok


Nathan Black

Posted in Creekside Cafe, interview, writing inspiration

Welcome W C Furney to Creekside Cafe

Welcome Bill Furney to my Virtual Cafe

Bio: William Charles Furney(

A former soldier, journalist, and communication professional, William Charles Furney has tapped into a lifetime of experiences and adventures to craft riveting novels such as Black Hearts White Bones, a love, hate, revenge story about the two infamous pirates Anne Bonny and Mary Read; Aphrodite’s Whisper, an epic love story reminiscent of Legends of the Fall; and now…Ivy Moon Last Girl on Earth.

Now retired from public service, William is a full-time writer and novelist.

Sherri: Welcome to my virtual café, Bill. You have had an interesting life so far, from a tank commander to reporter to a Public Health Communicator, and now a novelist. I won’t ask you about the latest health issue, I know it can be a pretty divisive discussion and we’re not in that business now. As writers, we hope to bring people together through our stories. What is it about a story that can reach a person when all the facts cannot?

Bill: Wow! That’s a three-beer conversation. We could spend hours kicking that idea around and still leave many rocks unturned. (How’s that for mixing metaphors?) My stab at a short answer is this; facts can be blunt objects with which people hit each other over the head. The facts themselves may be impersonal, but the feelings, attitudes and beliefs of the person wielding them are usually very apparent. While it may be fun hitting people over the head with facts, doing so isn’t conducive to changing opinions. In truth, it makes people resistant to them.

Well-written stories can introduce facts and ideas slowly. They can be attached to sympathetic characters with whom readers can identify and care about. If done correctly and unobtrusively, the actual “facts” in question can be debated, dissected and a defended without ever having stated what the “facts” are. George Orwell was a master at this.

Sherri: As you know prepping for this interview, I stalked your website and social media looking for just the right questions to ask but we don’t have that kind of time. Unfortunately, I have thirty-four authors to promote before our Author Event, but I’d love to buy you a drink and pick your brain.

Bill: NOW we’re talking!

Sherri: But for now, let’s just hit the highlights.

On your website, you mentioned four writers as the fab four, who in your opinion are the masters of the craft. I agree with the first two, King and Flynn. Even though I’m not a horror/thriller fan, there is much we can learn from authors who are not in our genre. For me, my King-ism is to have a little something that shocks the reader. It has to fit the story, but maybe not the genre. In Chrome Pink, my first novel, I have a scene my romance writer friends said made them throw-up in their mouths. They thought I should take it out. I didn’t because it had a reaction. What do you feel these authors have done to influence your writing?

Bill: I think the answer to this question is covered somewhat in the Fab Four author profiles featured on my webpage. Each author offers a different influence. So, here, let me address them as a group. What is the common denominator that, in my mind, sets them apart?  Well, you touched on it. In a word…mastery. “Mastery” is a term that’s not used very often these days. Webster defines it as:

2a : possession or display of great skill or technique
  b : skill or knowledge that makes one master of a subject

I became familiar with the concept during my youth when I was first introduced to Hemingway and later when I was heavy into martial arts. To be brief, being in the presence of a master or being exposed to a master’s work is a – if you have the humility to recognize your shortcomings and inadequacies – very humbling experience. It’s a moment of truth, self-realization and gut-checking. As people with egos, it’s hard to look at your own work in comparison and admit…I suck at this. But, if you were raised right and were gifted with a never-quit attitude, it is life-changing. The four authors I’ve featured – Stephen King, Gillian Flynn, Cheri Priest, and Mary Beth Keane – are masters in four very disparate types of writing. You don’t have to be a fan of their genres to recognize their greatness. I have been writing for more than forty years now, and compared to the mastery of these four writers I still feel like Grasshopper kneeling at the feet of Master Po.   

Sherri: I laughed when I read why you wanted to meet Gillian Flynn. “Because she has so much talent I want to be nearby when some of it spills out.  Also, because I’m the type of guy who jumps out of airplanes, rides motorcycles, and runs around the room holding scissors – I love danger.” Does your writing reflect your love of danger?

Bill: Interesting question. My line about loving danger was meant to help illustrate Flynn’s penchant for writing really dark psychological stories. I don’t think I love danger any more than the next Type A personality. But I do love adventure, which can sometimes put you in dangerous situations. My writing borrows heavily from life and death situations and brushes with mortality I’ve experienced. When I write about cannons firing in Black Hearts White Bones, I know how to describe it because I’ve lived it. I know what it feels like to hold a sword in your hand and face an opponent who is equally armed. Like some of the scenes in Aphrodite’s Whisper, I know what it’s like when an aircraft goes into freefall, and you don’t know if you will live or die. And like in both of those novels, I know what the sound of a bullet whizzing by your head actually sounds like.

Sherri: Writing is an adventure all its own, but publishing can be quite daunting. What do you wish you’d known before beginning this journey? What advice would you offer newbies getting ready to publish their first book?

Bill: God bless you, Sherri. You just introduced another three-beer conversation. Perhaps you should start a variation of the Algonquin Roundtable so we can entertain these fascinating questions at length…over adult beverages.

The answer to the first part of your question is…I wish I had understood what a crap shoot traditional publishing is. There are SO many variables and there is nothing on the novice writer’s side…unless you know somebody. Even then, you still need talent. Well, most of the time. I’ve seen some really awful stuff published over the years and I’ll never understand why such tripe gets published while other great stories don’t. One thing I’ve learned as an independent is that there are many wonderful writers out there who weren’t traditionally published. A lot of them will be at the Farmers Market authors event you are promoting.


Which leads to the second part of your question. First, read Stephen King’s A Memoir of the Craft of Writing. Skip the memoir part if you don’t care about King, but his essays on HOW to write are invaluable. There are other such books out there, but none I know of were authored by a writer as successful as King. So…

I would also suggest starting small. Try to write short stories for traditional and web-based magazines and forums. Hone your skills and create a following. This will help whether you break into traditional publishing or independent publishing. I didn’t do this. I wish I had.

Third, learn marketing and social media. These days, even traditional publishers expect authors to drive marketing. I despise this aspect of modern-day publishing, but that’s the environment we now live in. Remember, the best thing about independent publishing is that anybody can do it. And the worst thing about independent publishing is that anybody can do it. It leads to writers actually giving their books away in the hope of some day being able to sell books to loyal followers. Nobody should ask me for advice on how to do this. I suck at it. But there are many resources available, both legit and parasitical…if you know what I mean. Caveat emptor. One good place to start is Reedsy’s How to Market a Book.    

Sherri: Your stories are all in different genres, is there anything that links the stories? Do they have a similar theme or premise?

Bill: You’re the first person to ask me this question. Thank you. The answer may surprise you. The common thread between all my novels is love. Now, it’s not always evident who loves who or who loves what, but my characters and stories are driven by humanity’s most enduring emotion…love. I invite everyone to read my novels and try to identify how I’ve woven the concept of ever-lasting love into my characters and which ones, but you’ll have to buy me a beer to find out if you’re right.

Sherri: Aphrodite’s Whisper you mentioned took twenty years to come to fruition. Why such a long time? Was it based on a true story? You mention in your blog that it is similar to Cold Mountain and Legends of the Fall, these stories straddle the fence between genre fiction and literary. They focus on the character’ journey. Are all of your stories a deep dive into the character?

Bill: Well, it took five years to write Aphrodite’s Whisper because I was working and raising two boys at the time. Also, I spent about three hours conducting research for every hour or writing. And the writing was done late at night after putting the boys to bed and on weekends and holidays. I spent the next 15 years alternating between submitting to literary agents and conducting re-writes. I re-wrote the novel at least three times and I was able to connect with two agents. But we could never quite get it over the hump and picked up by a publisher. By the time I finished Black Hearts White Bones – another five-year endeavor – the evolution of independent publishing had reached the point where it made sense to skip the traditional route – especially given my age – and self-publish. After Black Hearts was published, I spent the next year re-writing AW yet again and finally published it.

Was it based on a true story? Yes and no. I actually have an Author’s Notes section at the end of AW where I discuss which aspects of the story are history and which are fiction. Unlike BHWB, the main characters in AW, are totally fictional. BHWB is based on two very real female pirates, Anne Bonny and Mary Read.

And yes, all my stories are, in my opinion, character driven. Despite the abundance of adventure, suspense, and mystery, the main characters in my novels reign supreme. Even Ivy Moon. Hell, especially Ivy Moon. I’d like to believe this is part of what makes my stories unique and enjoyable. The characters are three dimensional and relatable. And the stories are never exactly what the readers expect based on the genres they fall in. In short, they are unpredictable.

Sherri: As a fellow historical fiction author, I understand the work that goes into writing an accurate portrayal of both era and character. I was a bit intimidated to tackle my recent novel, The Americans are Coming and have been working on it for several years, doing research and taking classes that would help make it a better story. While all fiction requires a little research, we don’t always use everything we learn. What is the most important thing to get right when writing a historical? What is the line in the sand for you as a reader, as well as a writer?

Bill: Love, love, love this question! As with Aphrodite’s Whisper, I conducted about three hours of research for every hour spent writing Black Hearts White Bones. The amazing part is – which may scare the hell out of any budding historical fiction writers out there – I didn’t use but five or ten percent of the information in the actual stories. Dumping a bunch of mundane historical facts on readers heads is not the way to write historical fiction. Such information must be woven into the narrative in a way that the reader won’t stumble over it. As you allude to, it’s a fine line. And I think the key to finding that line is to be an avid reader. If you become adept at recognizing when the line is crossed in a book you are reading, you should be able to apply that awareness to your writing.

But aspiring historical fiction writers don’t despair! All that time conducting research isn’t wasted. While you may not use most of the knowledge you gain learning about the history of swords or the use and crafting of rush candles, all of that information will give you a better sense of time and place in which your characters exist. THIS is the difference between a good story and great writing…in my humble opinion.

Sherri: Your story, Casey and the Bear mirrors an incident in my own writing. Casey is my sister-in-law’s great-nephew. At the time he went missing, I was writing a similar scene in my third novel, Titanium Blue. I felt so guilty for writing that scene even though I’d planned it months before Casey went missing. My sis, who is one of my Beta readers was aware of it and helped me through the guilt. Like you, I believe animals, whether wild or domestic, often come to the rescue of those in need. I heard about your story shortly after Casey’s rescue, it’s nice to put a name to the story and to read it for myself. I’d love to include it in this interview with links to your website.

Bill: That is truly flattering. Yes, by all means, it was meant to be shared. Casey’s story is amazing, and I hope I did him justice. We will probably never know if he was actually befriended by a bear, but the boy he was when the incident happened believed it, and that’s good enough for me.

Sherri: If you enjoyed this interview with Bill Furney, come out to the New Bern Farmers Market, Sunday, November 20th for our Author Event.

If a girl cries of loneliness and there’s no one alive to hear…can she still survive?

I just released, Ivy Moon Last Girl on Earth.

Readers who love post-apocalypse stories will appreciate the unique perspective author W.C. Furney brings to the genre. Taking place almost entirely in Craven County, Ivy Moon – Last Girl on Earth is a Young Adult, post-apocalyptic tale of a girl’s survival and self-discovery. The story begins when the young teen who suffers a head injury emerges from a sailboat that ran aground during a hurricane. The trauma of discovering she is amnesic is soon dwarfed by the realization she is totally alone. Gradually, her expectation that people will return to the community they evacuated is replaced with the startling truth that everyone is gone. Vanished from the face of the earth. Hindered by a selective memory that affords only brief glimpses of her past, Ivy and her new friend Tonka – a West Highland White Terrier –  set off on a quest to find other people. She soon discovers that surviving a post-apocalyptic world isn’t what the adventure books and movies make it out to be.


Before agreeing to perform the audio version of Ivy Moon, voice over actress Shey Greyson (Rose Walker in Audible’s production of The Sandman) read the manuscript to determine whether she connected with the main character and the story. Her response?

 “Connect with it? I’m obsessed with it!”

A former soldier, journalist, and communication professional, William Charles Furney has tapped into a lifetime of experiences and adventures to craft riveting novels such as Black Hearts White Bones, a love, hate, revenge story about the two infamous pirates Anne Bonny and Mary Read; Aphrodite’s Whisper, an epic love story reminiscent of Legends of the Fall; and now…Ivy Moon Last Girl on Earth.

After graduating high school in Virginia Beach, Va, William served in the U.S. Army as a tank commander and later attended college at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Armed with degrees in public relations and advertising he honed his skills by becoming a reporter and columnist with a small newspaper in eastern North Carolina. Afterward, he became a director of public relations for private industry and the director of communication for several government agencies. He established two public affairs offices where none previously existed; one for the State Health Director’s Office and the other in the Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response – the state agency created in 2001 to oversee preparedness efforts associated with biological attacks and pandemic outbreaks. He became one of the first five people in the country to become a Certified Communicator in Public Health. 

As a public health communication expert, he coordinated or participated in the media/public information responses to health crises involving AIDS, anthrax, SARS, E-coli, Pfiesteria, Brucelosis, Legionnaires’ disease, SIDS, Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, Small Pox, West Nile Virus and numerous hurricanes. He also collaborated with the CDC Office of Communication on several health issues and was a certified trainer of their Emergency Risk Communication Program. He was a member and president of the National Public Health Information Coalition – twice.

Now retired from public service, William is a full-time writer and novelist.

Buy links:

Social media links


Instagram: BillFurney

Twitter: @wcfurney


Posted in Thoughts, writing inspiration, Writing tips

Starting in Medias Res

When you start a book do you want it to begin in the middle of the action or do you prefer a slow build up? Brandon McNulty did a YouTube video that made me think, what is the best way to open a story.

As a reader I like both depending on the story. If I start reading and a character is being shot at or chased, I’m interested to see what happens next. BUT…I also enjoy getting to know a character a bit before they’re thrown into the pot of boiling water. The rom coms where we see a little bit of normal life before everything goes haywire, or the cozy mystery that starts with what appears to be just an average day in the life of the sleuth or the accused.

Which version has more power to attract the reader?


  1. Her arms and legs trembled with fatigue. The dizziness and nausea still lingered but self-preservation pushed those discomforts to the back of her mind. From the shore she could see the yacht burning. She flinched as a second charge exploded, demolishing what was left of the life she’d begun to build. Shivering in her wet clothes, she knew she couldn’t wait around until her strength returned. An ex-con couldn’t be found this close to a crime scene. Stumbling barefoot over the rocks, shells and detritus that littered the shoreline, she hoped she wasn’t leaving bloody footprints behind. Slowly, she made her way home by the backroads praying no one would see her and note her appearance. It wouldn’t pay for anyone to connect her to the murders.
  2. She turned off the vacuum cleaner, her head still bobbing to the music coming out of her headphones. The boat swayed. Were they being boarded? No one was due to arrive until later tonight. Quickly, she shut off her phone and pulled her headphones out. Angry shouts from the upper deck caused her heart to pound. She needed to hide. Hurriedly, she stowed her cleaning stuff it the tiny closet, and herself in the shower. She wasn’t supposed to be here. If her parole appointment hadn’t run so late…the boat started moving. Oh shit, oh shit, please don’t head out to the ocean. What do I do? The boat stopped. Breathing a sigh of relief, they weren’t far from shore. Her relief was short lived at the pop of silenced gun shots. Balling into the fetal position at the bottom of the shower, she blinked back tears and nausea. Another boat came along side, scraping the hull. Thank God, they’re leaving. The odor of gasoline warned her things were about to get worse. Creeping from her hiding place, she tried not to look at the dead bodies. She leaped into the water as the smaller boat drove away from the yacht. She felt the percussion and for a moment feared she’d drown from the nausea and dizziness of the impact. She floated on her back until she could get her bearings then swam to shore. She stared back at the burning yacht as another explosion rattled the night. Not waiting for the trembling in her legs to ease, she made her way home along the backroads hoping no one noticed her leaving the scene of the crime.

As you can see, number 2 has more details, but does it give you more or less? Number 2 gives more background information, orients the reader a little more but it takes away some of the punch the first has. If you started reading a book that opened with either of these, which would be more interesting? Would it really matter to you? I believe there are many different types of readers as there are many different types of writers. There is no one-way is the right way. It’s a matter of what fits the story, the genre, and the individual taste. While I like both, I would tend to go with the first to create that intense reaction and then build the character more in the next scene especially if I’m writing a fast-paced suspense. If it’s more of a psychological thriller, the slower pace might be best.

I’d love to hear your opinion. As a reader or as a writer, what do you think is best?

Posted in Uncategorized

Guest Blogger, Tyler Wittkofsky

Today, I’d like to welcome guest blogger, Tyler Wittkofsky. Tyler is no stranger. He’s been on my blog several times with author interviews and promoting his books. If you follow me on social media, you have probably seen some of Tyler’s posts. He is an advocate for mental health. Tyler is open about his own diagnosis and shares his struggles with the development of his fictional characters. Tyler proves that we all deserve to be the hero in our own story. I hope you enjoy Tyler’s blog.

What It’s Like Writing with Mental Illness

I’ve been diagnosed with a mental illness for nearly ten years now. In that ten years, I have seen the way that mental health impacts people and have experienced the ups and downs of mental illness. When I first received my diagnosis, I was ashamed of who I was. I hid it from people. Every aspect of my life was impacted by this diagnosis, I just had never noticed it before because I simply didn’t know.

When I started writing poetry in 2012, it stemmed from my mental illness. I needed an outlet to write down my feelings to free my troubled soul. I wrote poetry to describe how I was feeling and release the emotion that would build up within me. Some of it was dark, some of it was happy, all of it was mental illness personified.

My mental illness served as my muse in that respect, giving me a source of inspiration and raw emotion to fuel my writing. I found that who I was deep down was the person I would grow to love. Despite the mental illness diagnosis, I had hope again because of my writing. I never thought about publishing it though, because it was still a secret I was ashamed of.

Fast forward a few years and my mental health was the worst it had ever been. I was drowning in life’s tides and couldn’t escape the incessant ebb and flow of the waves. Still, I hid my diagnosis from everyone except those closest to me. I was still ashamed of it.

Then one day, a book idea came to me. My first novel came about out of a desire to help others feel like they aren’t alone in life. I had spent so many years hiding my secret from everyone that when I finally started opening up to people, it made me question why I hadn’t sooner. I had this desire to write my story and help other people like me not feel alone.

I used my mental illness and experiences as my muse to write that story. I crafted a new adult fiction story that followed a young man with mental illness, showing the harsh realities of living with mental illness. My goal was to raise awareness and help people understand what it was like to live with a mental illness and help those with mental illness have the courage to reach out to those closest to them.

Then came time to let people actually read my work. My anxiety kicked in and my heart beat out of my chest. Every time I thought about someone reading it, I would hyperventilate. It felt like the air was sucked out of my chest and replaced with a void that sucked away every bit of my confidence.

When I sent it to friends and family, I started to avoid them. I didn’t want to hear their feedback because I was afraid of hearing the truth. I secluded myself and delved into a pit of darkness. The thing was, though, these people were the same ones I wrote about in my story.

They all loved it and that sent me into a spiral of mania. I was on top of the world. I put together everything I needed to publish the story and was throwing money at it to help keep it afloat, because I didn’t care about money anymore. Desire to be published filled my heart. I was happy and on a mission that I would accomplish.

It’s a never-ending cycle though, because once I published it my manic spree was over. The depression and anxiety of bipolar swarmed through my mind. I was so terrified of letting the world read my work, especially about a topic so sensitive.

I feared what future employers would think of me if they knew I cared so much about mental health. What would my current job think? Would my other friends who didn’t know about my diagnosis judge me?

Then came the people who told me thank you for writing the story. That put me on the top of the world. It wasn’t a manic type of joy, but one of pure ecstasy. I felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders, and I discovered what my truest passion was.

Writing my story pulled me out of the darkness. When I heard the stories of others, it helped me understand Iwasn’t alone in my struggles. I made it my mission to raise awareness for mental health through my writing after that. Giving people that kind of hope is what I want to accomplish with my stories.


Tyler Wittkofsky is a multi-genre author, podcaster, mental health blogger, and award-winning marketing and communications professional from the southern coast of North Carolina where he currently resides with his wife Grace and dogs Dutch and Belle.

The Seeds of Love: Sunflower Kisses Book One

His first novel, (Not) Alone, was based on true events surrounding the struggles of mental illness. The Seeds of Love: Sunflower Kisses Book One was his debut romance novel centered around a mentally ill young man. His first poetry collection, Coffee, Alcohol, and Heartbreak, was composed of mental health-based poems written over four years.

Tyler blogs his mental health journey on He is the co-host on the Back Porch Parley podcast where he discusses society and modern trends in an attempt to bring civility back to discussion.

You can find him on social media at @TylerWittkofsky and his work at

Posted in inspiration, my books, Thoughts, writing inspiration, Writing tips

Weather and Setting

Weather, how it sets the tone or mood of a story…

“But who wants to be foretold the weather? It is bad enough when it comes, without our having the misery of knowing about it beforehand.” ― Jerome K. Jerome, Three Men in a Boat

“After three days men grow weary, of a wench, a guest, and weather rainy.” ― Benjamin Franklin

My uncle swore it didn’t take three days for fish, guests or bad weather to start to smell. Like old Ben he had a way with words and little patience for fools.

“The storm starts, when the drops start dropping

When the drops stop dropping then the storm starts stopping.” ― Dr. Seuss

With the threat of winter mix looming over eastern North Carolina my thoughts turn to the weather and how it affects the setting of a story whether it’s a book or movie or even a television show. Weather can play an important part and at times feel like one of the characters.

“In Ohio seasons are theatrical. Each one enters like a prima donna, convinced its performance is the reason the world has people in it.” ― Toni Morrison, Beloved

Have you ever opened a book or started a story and immediately felt different? Maybe you were feeling tired and blue, overwhelmed by the holidays and you start reading a story that begins with…

The first snow of the season fell like promises upon the town.

Sunlight glittered off the new fallen snow as Christmas carolers sang on street corners and sidewalk Santas rang their bells.

That tone, mood is much different than say…

She shivered in her too thin coat as the sky darkened and the snow turned to ice burning her skin.

The clouds hung swollen and ominous in the gray sky as the wind shifted bringing with it the promise of freezing rain.

The first two sound happy, promising, maybe a sweet romance or family story, while the others seemed darker, more threatening, like horror or suspense. There is an expectation with each genre that the weather, if referenced will affect the story. If a romance, a snowstorm might force a couple together to get to know each other and come to be attracted to each other. In a mystery, the snowstorm might force suspects together and could result in murder or mayhem. In horror, a snowstorm could be foreboding as victims are forced to be in whatever horrifying situation whether haunted house or a madman’s lair.

“A lot of people like snow. I find it to be an unnecessary freezing of water.” ― Carl Reiner

“When all is said and done, the weather and love are the two elements about which one can never be sure.” ― Alice HoffmanHere on Earth

Ignoring the wind and white caps lashing against the side of the ferry, Cole propped his hip against the ship’s rail and watched as the dolphins frolicked in the river. Through his binoculars, he could see the pod clearly. Shivering in his canvas work jacket, he swapped his binoculars for the camera strapped around his neck. He zoomed in on the sea mammals, thrilled to have caught sight of them on the ferry ride back to Leeward.

First paragraph of Christmas Inn at Teach’s Island

Jeremy kissed her as they came out of the woods and into her yard. Lush green grass surrounded the house in a small patch near the wrap-around porch. The rest of the yard was hard-packed dirt that too often ran to mud, especially during the winter months. When everyone else was having a white Christmas, eastern North Carolina had mud.

Only in My Dreams

Violet stared out the window of the sitting room. Snow floated from the sky in tiny white ice crystals that were often a nuisance. Winter was far from her favorite season, be she supposed the snow was preferable to rain. – The Rogue Who Stole Christmas anthology, The Rake Who Loves Me by Dawn Brower

“October extinguished itself in a rush of howling winds and driving rain and November arrived, cold as frozen iron, with hard frosts every morning and icy drafts that bit at exposed hands and faces.”
― J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

If these were in the opening paragraphs of a story, it would set a tone and expectation for the rest of the book that may or may not be true. If it’s later in the story, we expect certain things to happen in the upcoming scene. But like the weather, things can change even in fiction, a midnight storm might be frightening and sleep-depriving, but the morning might dawn clear and sunny.

Writers have used weather to set the tone of stories throughout the ages. It’s not just books but movies and television also depend on the weather to set the mood of a piece. Think about the beginning of the movie Twister, it starts with a tornado, yes that’s what the movie is about but while the tornado looks ominous, the reaction of the actors is joyous, celebratory. In another familiar movie, The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy is trying to get home before the tornado. She is worried, frightened, the beginning of the movie is in black and white with lots of swirling dust.

The weather can also be used to fool you into a false sense of well-being.

The beautiful summer night just before Jaws bites her first victim.

Christmas in Los Angeles, very different than the weather in New York, Die Hard.

When we think of weather, especially in stories, we usually think of the extremes: snowstorms, hurricanes, tsunamis, tornados, but it is also the seasons that have certain expectations. Autumn in the southern states can be a relief from the intense heat, or Indian Summer when the heat returns with an oppression that steals your energy and joy.

Weather can be used to describe something else, making something unfamiliar more relatable.

“They call this war a cloud over the land. But they made the weather and then they stand in the rain and say ‘Shit, it’s raining!” ― Charles Frazier, Cold Mountain

“It always rains on tents. Rainstorms will travel thousands of miles, against prevailing winds for the opportunity to rain on a tent.” ― Dave Barry

“Summer in the deep South is not only a season, a climate, it’s a dimension. Floating in it, one must be either proud or submerged.” ― Eugene Walter, The Untidy Pilgrim

“It was one of those perfect English autumnal days which occur more frequently in memory than in life.” ― P.D. James, A Taste for Death

“The month of August had turned into a griddle where the days just lay there and sizzled.”
― Sue Monk Kidd, The Secret Life of Bees

The Pamlico river, at least down near Bond and South Creeks was usually placid. It was only out in the sound nearer to the Atlantic that you had the strong currents but with the wind and tide fighting against her along with the torrent of rain and bouts of lightning, Roxanne was no longer sure she was swimming in the right direction or even how long she’d been in the water. She was cold, exhausted and was starting to cramp. The water had cooled as night fell and the rain had lowered the temperature even more. Her limbs were starting to feel heavy. She was afraid to flag down a motorboat for fear she’d unwittingly fall prey to the bikers. Not that she’d heard anyone in several hours. Those who’d been on the river when the storm started had long since headed to shore.

Roxy’s Betrayal

What is more powerful? The beautiful, sunny day or starry night that turns deadly or the foreshadowing of something bad with a storm or fog?

They say it’s good luck to have rain on your wedding. Does that mean a sunny, beautiful wedding day is foreboding? We often think of cloudy skies, fog and rain for funerals but in fiction as in life that isn’t always so. What if a beloved is laid to rest on the most beautiful day of the year? What would that represent to the reader? To the characters?

I could not cry, there wasn’t even a cloud in the sky. Not even God was crying the day we laid Aunt Lettie to rest.

How could the sun be shining? How could the day be so perfect and bright? A day this perfect wasn’t for funerals, it was for fishing or flying kites in the park, but my Joey, my baby would never fly a kite. He’d never learn to fish. The sun shouldn’t be shining. It will never shine for me again.

Okay that may have been a bit melodramatic, but you can feel the story amid the setting, the weather.

“With Dante gone, time seemed to stand still around me; the mornings just as cloudy and dark as the evenings, as if the sun had never decided to rise. There was no wind, like the world was holding its breath along with me, waiting for him to return.” ― Yvonne Woon , Life Eternal

“Don’t knock the weather. If it didn’t change once in a while, nine out of ten people couldn’t start a conversation.” ― Kim Hubbard

Share some of your weather-related story bites, your own or some of your favorites. Are they first pages or somewhere else in the book?   

Posted in Creekside Cafe, interview, my books

K B’s Interview with Me

K.B.: Hello and welcome to Creekside Café, Sherri Hollister’s virtual café where writers connect! I’m K.B. Davenport, author of Magic in Autumn Springs and your guest interviewer this week. I’ll be chatting with Sherri about writing, life and what she has in store for us next. Hello, Sherri! Thanks for letting me interview you this week! 

Sherri: Oh wow, KB, it’s strange to be on the other side. Thank you so much for doing this. You know I love to talk about books and writing. 

K.B.: Yes, I do! I love talking with you and getting to know you better. By the way, I hear it’s your birthday soon. Happy birthday! Do you have any big plans to celebrate? What’s your idea of a good time? The older I get, the more I enjoy a nice dinner and relaxing with my partner. A little party now and again never hurts, though!

Recently celebrated 30 years!

Sherri: Well July is a big month for me. David and I will celebrate thirty years of marriage, two of my grandchildren have birthdays this month as well as my niece and myself, but I’m not planning anything other than babysitting my grand-dog. We’ll have a celebration for the fourth, my husband and oldest grandson go to summer camp and then my oldest son and his family have a trip planned, thus, I’m dog-sitting. I’m taking a couple of days off from work. I have a book to finish that I’ve gotten behind on. I am planning to visit my youngest son and his family for the day and will probably do something later with my gal pals.

K.B.: Wow, sounds like an eventful month! I love dog-sitting. Our friends have a sweet older dog we take care of sometimes when they’re out of town. With all that going on, finding time to write could be tricky! When did you first begin writing fiction? I’m reading Chrome Pink now, the first book in The Leeward Files series. I love its intensity and slick vibe. Have you always been inclined to write suspense, thrillers and romance? Are there any other genres you’d like to try your hand at? My book is about paranormal romance and fantasy, but I enjoy writing suspense, comedy, sci-fi and horror as well. 

Sherri: My first love is historical romance. I’m an arm-chair history buff. I wanted to be a female Indiana Jones, but I hate spiders. I started writing contemporary romance and it turned into suspense. I think it had to do with a lot of things that was happening in my personal life especially losing our home to fire. It kind of changed my attitude for a while. Right now, I want to write historical suspense with a touch of humor and romance. I’m working on finishing my new series, The Harrell Family Chronicles, there are 7 siblings, 2 cousins and assorted old folks, neighbors and I have an idea for a spin-off of White Gold tentatively called Cupid Zone Romances after Dana’s match-making service.

K.B.: That’s great, so much for readers to look forward to. I imagine dealing with the fire was traumatic. I find that writing serious subject matter often helps me process things when I’m going through something rough. What drew you to suspense and thrillers? I love that edge-of-your-seat feeling I get from your writing. Are you a thrill-seeker in real life, maybe a bit of a daredevil? 

Sherri: Me a thrill seeker? Ha! I’m a pansy. The most interesting thing I do is ride a motorcycle, but I don’t want to ride long distance because I have a fear of bridges. I tend to be afraid of everything, but I force myself to do it anyway. My mentor in high school, who is still a good friend, Ms. Glenoria Jennett told me I can let fear keep me from living my life, or I can use it to fuel my life. Sometimes, I think you have to push yourself to do what scares you.

K.B.: Very good advice. I’ve had my battles with fear as well. Anxiety can be killer. It’s true, though, you have to get out of your comfort zone to really find what you’re capable of. I find that’s true for writing, too. I love trying new genres and formats that I’m not used to, just to see what happens. What does your writing process look like? Do you have a space where you write at home, or do you need to be somewhere else to get work done? I’m really lucky, my desk is by a window with a view of a pond, as cliché as it sounds! The geese do get a little noisy, though. 

Sherri: I raised six sons and there was seldom ever a quiet moment. I learned to write anywhere amid most anything, but I have to admit that now that everyone is out of the house I’m getting used to the quiet. My husband has always made sure I had a designated office for my writing though I use my laptop nearly as much. I work in the backroom at work during slow times and lunch breaks. The main time I need complete focus is when I’m revising or editing. 

K.B.: Same. I need total quiet when it comes time to edit. I can usually listen to music or tune out things when I’m writing, but editing requires a different sort of focus. Is there anyone or anything specifically that got you into writing? Do you have real-life influences or favorite authors who made you want to write? We’ve talked a bit about our partners and how they help with reading and feedback. Was there anyone early on who was your cheerleader? 

Sherri: My Granddaddy Bill Joe Lupton and my father were both avid storytellers. Now, I cannot tell a story the way they did but it gave me the love. My mother was and still is an avid reader, in fact, she is one of my BETA readers. Being an only child and living in a rural community, having to entertain myself, I developed my imagination into stories. I wrote my first romance at ten years old, in red ink. I think it was like ten pages long, handwritten.

I credit Jayne Ann Krentz and my librarian best friend, Robina Norman for introducing me to her for my turn to contemporary romantic suspense. JAK writes under the name Amanda Quick as well as Jayne Ann Krentz and Jayne Castle, as Amanda Quick she writes historical Jayne Castle, sci-fi/fantasy romance. My love of her stories made me want to crossover and try contemporary.

K.B.: Those are some great influences. It’s nice to have people in your life who are storytellers and supporters. My grandmother wrote books and books of poetry, and my grandpa always had a tall tale to tell. I know you’re a fellow southerner, having lived in North Carolina and New Orleans. As an Arkansas boy, I love the beauty of the natural state, but I’ve always enjoyed visiting other places and have thought about living elsewhere. Have you ever lived outside of the south? Do you think being a southerner influences your writing? 

Sherri: I’ve lived in New Mexico but other than visit, I’ve always lived in the south. My oldest son and I had a conversation about southerners whether from the US or Europe, mothers from Southern places want to feed you and take care of you. We’ve not noted the same in northern areas, but I’ll go out on a limb and say, any country folk, feel the need to be hospitable. We learned to depend upon each other. While we might distrust strangers, we will probably still feed you. I think that innocence shows up in my writing. While I’m older, and have lived other places, I’m still a bit naïve and trusting. There is a safety about living in a small town, of course I shatter that illusion in my Leeward Files series.

K.B.: That makes a lot of sense. I used to dream about living in a big city when I was younger, but I’ve become so accustomed to a slower pace of living in a smaller place. Although I imagine city living would provide lots of fodder for writing. We’ve talked a little about writer’s block before. How do you cope with it? Do you have any strategies for getting around it, or do you have to let it run its course? 

Sherri: For me, writer’s block usually stems from one of three things: either it’s emotional or it’s fatigue or I’ve written myself into a corner. I don’t handle my emotions well. As I mentioned, I’m an only child and I didn’t develop the tools for fighting or negotiating with others like most children with siblings do. I tend to internalize everything, blame myself for everything and pull into my shell. When I finally get brave enough to talk about whatever is upsetting me, it’s a release valve and it allows me to get back to work.

The other is stretching myself too far. I put so much of my writing career on hold while raising my family and I feel like I’m in a race against time to get it all done. I want to do everything yesterday. I forget I’m human and there are only 24-hours in the day. I have to sleep, and I have a full-time job. So, learning to juggle, say no, prioritize and make myself do the grunt work, is often what gets in my way of writing more than actual writer’s block.

If it is true writer’s block, it’s because I didn’t plan well enough. I’m a pantser or a reformed pantser, I do plan a bit now. I don’t outline but I do brainstorm plot ideas, conflicts, reactions, etc. and sometimes I’m writing along, and an idea comes to me, but I didn’t plan it in advance and I’m not sure where to go with it. I need to decide if it’s worth the effort to rework the story for this new idea, plan and strategize how to make it work or ditch it and go back to the original plan. Sometimes I think I have writer’s ADHD… I’m writing along according to my plan and ooh, shiny new idea, let’s go wandering over here…

My advice is simple, get your rest, eat right, exercise, fresh air is your friend, take time to recharge your batteries with friends and family, and plan your stories even if you don’t outline, jot down a few ideas of where you want to go next and what the goal is for that scene.

K.B.: I get that. I’m always biting off more than I can chew, writing down a million different ideas so they don’t escape me. I have to make myself focus on a few projects at a time, though, or I’d never get anything done. I have something for each emotional state I find myself in, so it’s harder to come up with an excuse not to write! Do you have any triggers that bring on writer’s block? For me, it’s hard to write when I’m not feeling well. I have some physical ailments that make it difficult to focus sometimes. Also, depression and anxiety can be a struggle when I’m trying to get things done. Do you have any experience with obstacles like these? How do you manage them? 

Sherri: I struggle with depression, low self-esteem and I don’t sleep well. I have to give myself pep talks. I try to turn the channels in my brain. Rest, exercise and doing something to recharge your mind and body helps. Sometimes you have to give yourself permission to take a break.

K.B.: I totally agree. Know your limits and work with them. There’s a big difference between pushing your comfort zone and knowing your triggers. Do you have any advice for those who struggle with depression or anxiety? I’m a big proponent of communication and making therapy more available and affordable. I also find it’s helpful to know others are fighting the same battles. Having a space where you can be part of a conversation or at least finding representation of what you’re going through is so important, too, I think. 

Sherri: A friend and I have been talking about starting a Facebook page that’s exclusive but inclusive, where people can talk about anything. We’ve had several overdoses and suicides in our community over the past couple of years and feel we need to do something to let people know we’re here. My only fear is neither of us is a professional therapist and before we start, I’d really like to have someone who is on call for anyone who needs more than just someone to talk to.

I am blessed that I can talk to my mom, my husband and friends about my problems. I know part of what I’m going through is hormonal. I’m a woman of a certain age and I’m not sure if men go through this but women seesaw emotionally at various ages and then we level off again. I’m hoping to level off soon.

For those who don’t have close friends to talk to and a therapist isn’t available I write letters, poems, rants, whatever you want to call it, that I never send. It’s a way to unburden myself of what is hurting me. I just ramble on through the pain getting it out and then I’m able to breathe again.

I have also found that dealing with my pain through fiction helps. In each of my stories there is a little piece of my own emotion hidden there. While I may not have experienced the exact same pain my character are going through, the similarities allow me to get those emotions out and possibly kill off the person who hurt me. Maybe not the healthiest therapy but then again, I’m not committing real murder so there is that.

K.B.: Writing is some of the best therapy I’ve had, honestly. It’s cathartic to write out your frustrations and see a different outcome. Do you have advice for up-and-coming writers, especially those who are self-publishing for the first time? As a recently self-published author, I know how rocky it can be trying to navigate these waters. I found the writing community on Twitter to be a huge boon. Do you think it’s important for a self-published author to be good at marketing and promotion as well? 

Sherri: I’m a shoe-string budget author. I published and promoted my first book with only $500 to start with. I believe learning everything about the craft and business of writing makes us better. While we can’t be good at everything, as small business owners and as indie authors, that’s what we are, we need to learn as much as we can. No one, even if they are traditionally published is going to do the marketing for you. Even the big publishing houses expect their authors to do much of their own marketing, of course the better you sell books the more money and resources they’ll give you.

For those of us who are doing it on our own, I have found talking to other authors, joining author and writing groups, being involved on social media, all of these things help get the word out about your books.

If you are part of a group and you’re good at graphics or interviewing, or writing blurbs, and someone else is great at cover design or something else you are not, offer your services for theirs. Doing these interviews with other authors allows me to reach other audiences because you are going to share with your friends and maybe they’ll start following me and decide to check out my books. The same with my friends and you.

We can’t expect to know everything coming into this business. I took so many classes on marketing and promoting but it wasn’t until I was in the middle of things that I started seeing what worked for me and what didn’t. Mostly, it’s trial and error, a lot of error. My first advice is to document what ads you do and how many sales you had afterwards. Make a file for what to do again and what not to do.

K.B.: Great advice! Making connections is so important. Networking has always been hard for me, but it’s so nice to find groups and fellow writers who are supportive. What can we look forward to seeing from you next? Are there more plans for The Leeward Files? Are there any upcoming events you’d like to promote?

Anyone wishing to be part of my ARC Team, just message me!

Sherri: I’m finishing up Willow’s Secrets and hope to have it out soon. I’ll be following it up with Trent and Cole’s stories from the Harrell Family Chronicles and I hope to redo a World War 2 Christmas novella and expand it to a full-length novel in time for the holidays. I am also doing research for a historical series I’ve been planning for years that I can’t wait to get started writing. 

K.B.: Can’t wait! Thanks again, Sherri, for letting me interview you this week on Creekside Café! If you enjoyed this conversation, check out our chat about partners, cooking, travel and more in our first interview which we’ll link below. Also, check out Sherri’s interview with Damian and Marble, characters from my book! It was a pleasure getting to know you even better and getting a glimpse into your life and your writing, Sherri. I look forward to chatting again soon!

Posted in contest, my books

Let’s Play a Game

Questions I used for my book signing. How many questions can you answer? You could win prizes. Just post your answers on Facebook and Twitter, the ones who answer the most will be put into a drawing. Don’t forget the drawing for the charm bracelet December 2nd, all you have to do is leave a review. You can leave one on Amazon (even if you didn’t buy the book there), Book Bub and Goodreads. I’ll put your name in the hat as often as you post a review. I’ll even count it if you put it on your personal social media, just don’t forget to tag me. 

  1. In White Gold, who do you think is pregnant?
  2. Who is Dana’s mother, Ms. Sandy seeing?
  3. What is the name of Dana’s dating club?
  4. What is the name of the town where the stories take place?
  5. What was Agent Jake Monroe’s alias in Chrome Pink?
  6. What did the girls call their group of friends in middle school?
  7. Who owns the Lee Creek Mine?
  8. Who took the picture used on the cover of White Gold?
  9. Rae’s mother’s name?
  10. What is the name of the cafe?
  11. Who owns the café?
  12. The names of Leeward’s Police Officers? (2)
  13. What’s the computer guy’s name?
  14. Logan’s mother’s name?
  15. Where did the title Chrome Pink come from?
  16. Where did Logan and Rae first meet?
  17. What was the name of the bar in Chrome Pink?
  18. What did Rae like to do to unwind besides drink? (4)
  19. How did Rae save the fishing camp?
  20. What was Todd’s wife’s name?