Sunday, December 4, 2016

When You Win NaNoWri You Need to Stand Up & Pull Out Your DIY Treadmill Desk With Maureen Bonatch

By Maureen L. Bonatch

Okay, so I gave it away- I won #NaNoWri! (National Novel Writing Month). But after my endless flapping about it last month, it would be a bit embarrassing to admit defeat. Although I truly believe anyone who commits to participate and puts any words to the page is a winner.

But to win and get the very rough draft done for Sister From Another Mister (Book 2 in A Touch of Magic Series), and for most of the year, I’ve spent a lot of time with my “butt in the chair”

This means I also win extra backaches and must constantly fight the force of gravity on my dedicated behind. 

Exercising has gotten more difficult as the cold weather closes in on Pennsylvania, but I’ve developed a few solutions over the years that I’d like to share with you.

Drag Out That Old Clothes Hanger

You know what I’m talking about, your treadmill. Many of us have one that we’ve either held onto over the years, or have gotten rid of and reacquired each time we renewed our exercise efforts.

Most writers, and many other people who work at jobs that result in a lot of sitting, struggle to get enough exercise throughout the day. Plus, it’s difficult to carve out the extra time for exercise. 

Hence, the treadmill desk. When I first learned about such sorcery, a desk that you can write and exercise at the same time, I was amazed and immediately put it to the top of my ‘want’ list.  Then I looked at the prices…and the treadmill dropped a few pegs on my list.

Until This Non-DIYer Made a DIY Treadmill Desk

I am not a crafty person. I don’t make things, I buy them. But turning my treadmill into a treadmill desk was incredibly easy & I had everything I needed already. Cost= Nada.
I’m nothing special. If you Google it, tons of people have done similar DIY Treadmill Desks.

What I Used:
  •       Treadmill
  •       Old Extra Large Shelf from my Daughter’s Room
  •       2 Big Ass Belts I’ve hoarded from the 1980’s (don’t judge- I didn’t say I’ve worn them…lately) 

My DIY Treadmill Desk & My Poor Photography Skills ;)
When I’m ready to do some editing (writing is a little more challenging), or check my email, marketing etc. then I grab the loose wood shelf and lay it across my treadmill arms and hook the 2 belts around the hand bar. Viola! I can walk at a slow pace—so I’m not breaking any race records, but I am off my butt. 

Speaking of Sitting

Then there’s the study most of us heard about a few years ago published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine that had everyone talking about how sitting is the new smoking and how sedentary lifestyles were killing us. That increases in physical activity has less of an impact that merely reducing the time sitting.
So there are plenty of Standing Desks on the Market as well, but I didn’t have room for one, and didn’t think I’d use one enough to make it worth it. A little thinking out of the box, and digging through my closet I found my solution.

As a writer, I have multiple laptop tables, so I pulled one out that had legs to use in bed and sat it on top of my current desk. Place my Laptop on Top + Stand Up to Write=Standing Desk.

Now…to stand up and write on!

Do you have any tips to share for maintaining movement while creating or escaping into a good story?

                                                                                                                                                                         Check out 
Grandma Must Die
 & all of my stories on my Amazon Author Page

About Maureen
Maureen writes stories in the beautiful state of Pennsylvania that boast laughter, light suspense and something magical in the hope of sharing her love of finding the extraordinary in the ordinary world. She writes Paranormal Romance and Fantasy.

Find Me:

Saturday, December 3, 2016

NANO AND YOUR SERIES by Marie Dry @MarieDry1

We're happy to introduce our guest, Marie Dry. She's here to talk about her experience with NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month, known to the rest of us as November).

NaNo and Your Series

Every year during NANO life seems to happen and I end up barely making my 50k. Then on top of that, when I start editing I have to cut more than half of the story and rewrite almost everything. I’ve heard many authors complain about this.

This year something strange happened. In spite of life happening i.e. two French tests, a crazy busy time at the office and family responsibilities, I made 80k easily this year. It felt as if I barely had to put in any effort to reach 50k and before I knew it I had 80k.

I believe the one reason is that long before my first book was accepted by Black Opal Books I wrote minimum three hours every day. Whenever the successful authors give advice on writing that is the one advice all of them give. Write every day and write with discipline. I followed it religiously and it seems to be paying off. My writing muscles have strengthened.

Before NANO started I went on the forum for Pretoria (South Africa) and asked if there were people near me who wanted to do write-ins. We got together once a week close to my place and it was wonderful. I also joined an online sprinting group that was created for NANO. Waving at the NANOWRIMOERS facebook group!

The one major difference I made with the writing was I decided to not be so focused on the 50k but instead to try and write a tighter novel. Not easy to do for a pantser like me. The moment I decided to focus on the story and not the word count it took a lot of pressure off.

If I had to choose one decision I made this year that allowed me to reach 80K in a month while working full time, it is to work on more than one book. Instead of writing words for the sake of the word count, if I ran into trouble with one book I worked on the next one until my mind figured out the problem. It worked! I now have the rough draft for Alien Resistance, an even rougher and shorter draft for Alien Captured, a good bit of Alien Ruled and the outline for a novella for Alien Rescue.

The support from other writers during NANO is amazing and it has made a huge difference to me. When I joined RWA Australia in 2010, I did online sprints with them and it was the first time I ever sprinted and had company in my writing. It was wonderful. I lived in Spain at the time and it was hot and I remember all of us buying flakes (a brand of chocolate) in our respective countries and putting them in the fridge as a reward for after the sprints. I still like cold flakes because it reminds me of that year. That is also when I finished Alien Mine and yip, I had to rewrite the whole book because I was so focused on word count I didn’t pay attention to the structure of the book.

What I’m trying to say in a very convoluted fashion, is that NANO is wonderful, but if you want to walk away with a book you can sell it is better to have a strategy. My strategy of not even thinking about the word count this year paid off. Maybe it will for someone else as well.

For anyone looking for craft books here is a list of the books that I went through this year before NANO. There are many more but these are my current favourites.

Goal Motivation & Conflict – Debra Dixon
Writing Active Settings – Mary Buckham
Secrets of the Selling Writer – Dwight Swain
Self-editing for Fiction Writers – Renni Browne, Dave King
Writing the Breakout Novel – Donald Maas
Dialogue – Gloria Kempton
On Writing – Stephen King

Below is the blurb and a short excerpt of Alien Under Cover, the second book in my Zyrgin Warriors series. Enjoy.


In a bleak and apocalyptic future, Julia Benzoni flees the violence-saturated world of her mafia family to build a peaceful life in a No Name Town, Montana. Now, while civilization disintegrates into anarchy around her and evil men prey on the innocent, she’s pursued by an alien, whose warrior life thrusts her back into the world where might makes right and violence is the order of the day. Torn, she now has to choose between her need to distance herself from war and violence and the alien warrior who holds her heart.

The first time he revealed himself to his breeder she fainted.
Zurian caught her before she hit the floor. Left with a beautiful human woman helpless in his arms, he’d laid her down on her bed, covered her with blankets, and left her alone. It had taken a surprising amount of willpower to let her out of his arms.
He was not a warrior known for his mercy. He’d killed and executed many and, for a long moment, while he stood there staring at her soft human face, he’d been tempted to take her to his dwelling despite the fact that she was too small and delicate for life with a Zyrgin. Not taking her as his breeder so he wouldn’t break such a fragile woman had been an act of mercy from a warrior considered the most pitiless in the empire.
In the end he could not stay away from her and, when he revealed himself to her the second time his faith had been rewarded. She’d tried to shoot him. Julia handled the pistol well and, instead of crying when she couldn’t manage to hit him, she was furious. His Julia knew some words his translator did not have the meaning of.
He returned a third and fourth time, cloaked, curious to know more about her. Since then he’d gone to her many times. Sometimes cloaked, sometimes not. She intrigued him with her strange habits. She spent most of her time on the human communication device they called a TC, which seemed to be her means of earning a living. She liked to paint her tiny claws—nails he reminded himself, humans called them nails—many colors. Women on Zyrgin frequently adorned themselves but since no warrior with honor would look at another warrior’s breeder he’d only been vaguely aware of perfumes and lavish clothes during ceremonies.
He thought about her when he should be concentrating on his warrior duties. Curious to see what she would try next, he returned to her impoverished dwelling. She was clever enough to stay out of grabbing range. Sometimes he played with her, pretending he only moved at human speed. Countering her attacks, he grabbed her and enjoyed the feeling of her skin, of her body held briefly against him while she fought and squirmed. Once, she tried to knee him in the groin. Seemingly convinced she could harm him that way. He’d observed some of the women in the raider camps, the ones who were not broken, use that tactic with great success on human males.
It had been a week since he’d seen his golden human. At the back of her small house, in the settlement the human’s called No Name Town, Zurian stepped forward and stopped, his boot lifted. A thin white powder covered the door entrance. Something gleamed on the windowsill and, as he moved to the side, more of it gleamed at the bottom on each window ledge. He pinched a tiny amount of the white powder and tasted it. Salt, the spice the humans put in everything. It had to be one of her curious tricks to try to keep him out.
The first four chapters of my books are available on my website.


Ever since she can remember Marie Dry wanted to travel. She had had the privilege of living in Zambia, Morocco, and Spain and sees herself as a bit of a gypsy. Every few years she gets restless and has to be some place new.

She read romances since she was nine and was fairly young when she decided she would write the perfect story that had all the elements she looked for in a romance. In 1997 she decided to go all out with her writing and to get published. Being published by Black Opal Books is a dream come true for her.

There are several wonderful moments in her life that she would never trade for anything. One of them is meeting President Nelson Mandela and the second being published. Her Book Alien Mine was released by Black Opal Books in June 2014.

Marie's social media links:
Twitter:  @MarieDry1

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year by @MeganSlayer

The most wonderful time of the now! 

Have you heard that a ton of times? I have. For the longest time, I wondered what that meant. Now, follow me here. I don't mean, I didn't know Christmas was awesome. That's not it. 

In the last few years, it's been tough around this time of the year. Two of my grandparents passed away in December - not the same year, but it's never easy. I was blessed with extra grandparents. At one time, I had four sets. Yep, four. Grandparents and Great-Grandparents. Honestly, it was very cool. Also a culture clash, but I miss it. I miss them. I see ornaments given to us by them or even just the stuff we inherited and it's tough.

Besides, 2016 has been a tough year. Our first dog, the one we've had a long time - almost 14 years - passed away. This has been the first holiday season without her. We have other dogs and the cats, but she was one of our children. Explaining to people why a song or a commercial makes me cry is rough. Canon in D makes me think of when I got married, which makes me think of being young and getting the dog... and yeah, tears.

But over Thanksgiving, I came to a realization. I looked at all of the reasons I wasn't fond of this time of the year and got depressed. But that's now that the holiday season is for. Sure, we should look back on the year and our lives and reflect. But it's more than that. For me, it's looking back on the things that happened and the fun. What did we accomplish? How did we grow.

I managed to deal with health problems, survived surgery and am so glad I went through the trial. I feel better, that's for sure.

I wrote in a Kindle World. That was big. I did a completely self-published project and put it out. 

I'm raising the boy and successfully got him through another Cross Country season. He improved his time and is doing 5k races after the season. 

Dh is my biggest support and I love him. We've grown a ton through the year.

I visited the Cincinnati Reds baseball park. #win

I've got great friends who have my back and I cherish them.

I've got goals for next year. Writing another kindle world book, continuing the Sanctuary series, continuing the Cedarwood series... writing as much as the muse allows... and being happy for what I have and those in my life. 

What about you? What are you looking forward to? What's on your 2017 bucket list? I'd love to know. Maybe we can compare notes. :-)

Here's a book that was a bright spot for me in 2015, Harvest Moon :-)

Harvest Moon by Megan Slayer  
Moon Series, book 2Also part of the Bleh! Turkey! SeriesMLR PressContemporary, Paranormal, HolidayShort StoryM/M, Anal SexWhat's a guy to do when the time to be with family is the time he dreads the most?
All Matt Green wants for Thanksgiving is to propose to his boyfriend in the most epic way he knows-in front of their families. There's only one catch. His boyfriend, Reed Jordan, doesn't do family gatherings. To be honest, Reed isn't wild about Thanksgiving, but he won't say why.
Matt's willing to do anything in order to get Reed to talk, but will it make the holiday perfect or or ruin all of Matt's plans? The Harvest Moon just might be the right omen to make everything all right. Available now at:MLR Press: * * * * * 
Megan Slayer - It's Always Fun to Squirm
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Monday, November 28, 2016

Writing a Holiday story with paranormal characters by Barbara Edwards

Until I wrote this blog, I haven’t thought about using the holidays in my books. I did read a story by Christine Feehan about a Christmas ‘Dark Celebration’ by her Carpathian characters. I though it was well done since it took people who didn’t celebrate the holiday with those who had fond memories. It is a feel good story.

So would I chose to use a holiday?

I do write Christmas novellas and they’ve been published by The Wild Rose Press. They are about regular people, except for my ghost dog Dixie. I’ve added the url at the end of this since it is a paranormal story.

I have a free read on my blog about Halloween in Rhodes End the setting for my series.
So I guess I do use the holidays.

I’m not sure I could write a full-length novel about a single holiday. What do you think? 

Do you want to write a full-length holiday book?

Which holiday? Why?

Dixie’s Gift by Barbara Edwards
Buy Link:

Ellen Carter deeply grieves for her husband Dan, but at least she still has Dixie, her beloved Malinois. However, soon Dixie leaves her too. But the faithful dog cannot rest easy in heaven while her mistress is unhappy. Dixie pleads with the Archangel Michael to let her send help, and intercedes for Ellen in the only way she can. But will Ellen get the message, and more importantly, will she accept Dixie's gift?

Sexy newcomer Michael Burke can barely take enough time from his successful restaurant for a decent night's sleep, let alone romance. Still, he is intrigued by the beautiful widow and can't resist entering her shop. Sparks fly, and when Ellen has an accident in a snowstorm, he comes to her rescue. Trapped by a blizzard and aided by Dixie's Gift, Ellen and Michael find more than shelter--they find love.

Please follow, friend or like me. I love to hear from my readers.
Amazon Author’s Page

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Breaking the Billy Goat Curse by L. A. Kelley

What is a Curse?
It’s not dropping the f-bomb. That’s swearing, and your mama doesn’t approve. A real curse is like a negative post-hypnotic suggestion reinforced by circumstance. Effectiveness hinges completely on the gullibility of the victim and involves a ritual to either enact or retract. All curses rely on superstition and a certain whack-a-doodle mentality sadly lacking in modern life. Fortunately, it’s still wildly abundant in the sports world.

Hows About Dem Cubbies?
Only coma victims haven’t heard the news yet that The Billy Goat Curse was lifted, and the Cubbies triumphed in the World Series. Hard to believe, but the Chicago Cubs were once one of the winningest teams in baseball. When known as the Chicago White Stockings they took the first National League Championship and had six titles before 1887. Renamed the Chicago Cubs in 1903, success continued. Three years later the team won a record 116 games and their first pennant. Another pennant and a World Series title came in 1907, and the following year they were the first team in baseball with back to back World Series wins. From 1876 to 1945, The Chicago Cubs had 51 winning seasons, 16 first place finishes, and 16 pennants. They racked up two World Series and six Championship titles. Then it all went south with the dreaded Billy Goat Curse.

The Billy Goat Curse
Legend has it in 1945 William "Billy Goat" Sianis, owner of the Billy Goat Tavern and a Cubs fan, bought two tickets to Game Four. Hoping to bring the team good luck he took his pet goat, Murphy, to the game. The ushers stopped him at the entrance because no animals were allowed. Billy Goat appealed to the owner of the Cubs, P.K. Wrigley, who replied, "Let Billy in, but not the goat." When Sianis demanded a reason, Wrigley replied, "Because the goat stinks." Billy threw up his arms and shouted, "The Cubs will never win a World Series so long as the goat is not allowed in Wrigley Field." The curse was cast.

A good paranormal writer knows a curse can always be broken. You just need the right ritual and Cubs fans certainly tried. Over the years clothing superstitions abounded. One fan website suggested wearing Cubs hats 24/7. Another swore by donning new Cubs apparel, still another only old. For some, the road to victory was paved with dirty laundry. A smelly faction refused to clean Cubs shirts or jerseys while the Series continued. A less aromatic sect washed when the team lost to remove the bad luck. No wonder it took over 75 years to break the curse. The baseball gods were confused by conflicting ceremonies.

Sacred Offerings
In primitive societies, breaking a curse often involved food, animals, or magic potions. In Chicago, the closest thing to a magic potion is beer, but food had its place as well. The 2015 attempt to break the curse featured five competitive eaters scarfing down 40 pounds of goat meat in 13 minutes at Taco in a Bag on Chicago’s North Side. Fans cheered them on. “If it works, we’re the smartest people in Chicago,” boasted co-owner Patrick Bertoletti. It didn’t. The Cubs lost to the Mets. A group called Reverse the Curse Chicago urged fans to donate dairy goats to impoverished Caribbean families while Heifer International ran a campaign to raise money to send goats to needy families in Third World countries.

In the end, what finally broke the curse? Nothing. There are no curses, silly, only 75 years of lousy baseball followed at last by one season where a team kept it together to the end. (And a certain writer never washed a lucky shirt because you never know.)

Batter up.

L. A. Kelley writes fantasy/sci-fi adventure stories with humor, romance, and a touch of sass. You can connect at