Happy holidays readers! We're officially in the season.

To celebrate, a group of 12  authors have banded together to give you a truly awesome collection of speculative fiction novels. Over the next 12 days leading up to Christmas Eve, we'll all be offering you ways to enter to win them!

An official unveiling of the complete 12-book giveaway collection will be coming soon (one of them is my own debut novel, the award-winning Mud: Chronicles of the Third Realm War).

But for now, go ahead and enter to win! You can start by joining my email list.

Then, check out the other participating authors for even more ways to enter! Here is the full list of authors:

Charles Cornell

Danielle DeVor

Louann Carroll

Connor Drexler

Jeff Elkins

M. G. Herron

Sharon Johnston

Jade Kerrion

R. Perez de Pereda

Brian Rella

Antonio Simon, Jr.

E. J. Wenstrom

Share this post!


2014-400x400Brian Rella lives north of New York City along the Hudson River with his wife, who is far too good for him, and his two vivacious boys who challenge his light-saber skills on a regular basis.

In an effort to escape the cube farm where he works to pay his bills, Brian decided to follow his passion for writing and published his first book in 2015. He hasn't managed to escape yet, but he's patient, and chips away at his dream every day.

Where did your inspiration to write Queen of the Fallen start?

Queen of the Fallen, and the Second Death series, evolved from a short story I wrote in 2015 called, “Arraziel”. I included “Arraziel” in my first self-published short story collection and then immediately got to work on turning the story into a series.

In this series, I tackle the classic good versus evil theme from a Judeo-Christian, angelic-apocalyptic perspective, blurring the lines between pure good and pure evil. The good guys are all damaged in very personal ways by the bad guys, and they act with vengeance, which they perceive as justice for what’s happened to them. And so, there’s a darkness and muddy morality that underpins all the characters, regardless of what side they are on.

I’m intrigued by religious mysticism, the religious occult, and religious books that have been excluded from the mainstream religious traditions. I recognize threads of horror and science fiction in many religious books – the Old Testament plagues on Egypt; Noah and the great flood that cleansed the world; demonic possessions; the Crucifixion, etc. These all have elements of horror and the supernatural if you look at them from the perspective story-telling and set aside the religious aspects. In this way, they are cosmic and terrifying and epic – all of which captivates and inspires me. So, I created a universe for the series that mixes some real biblical books and history with some fictitious ones that I’ve imagined, and married those with one of my favorite horror universes.

Several years ago, I came across H.P. Lovecraft’s short story, “The Call of Cthulhu.” I became hooked on the universe of creatures and the lore behind them that Lovecraft created. He was a poor man who lived in the early twentieth century and his imagination seemed way ahead of his time. His stories were very dark with epic backdrops. I kept reading more about his mythos of the Old Ones and the Elder Ones and loved the close intertwining of horror and science fiction in his story-telling. I think H.P. Lovecraft embodies the juncture of the two genres and that’s something I want to emulate with my own writing.

The Second Death series is horror fantasy with religious undertones. It’s my twist on the Fallen Angel theme, interlaced with the Lovecraft universe of cosmic evil and monsters. The Watchers (the good guys) are half breeds – part angel, part human – born of interbreeding between the two. They are more human than celestial. The Fallen (the bad guys) are fallen angels. They’re more monstrous than human in a Lovecraftian way. The two are at war and the prize is humanity.

What was the hardest thing about writing Queen of the Fallen?

Time is always an issue for me because I have a full-time day job and a young family, but for this book I also had a lot of trouble with one of the main characters. For some reason, Frank, who is a Watcher and is pursuing Jessie, a girl who is seduced by the King of the Fallen, was a struggle to write.

In my writing process, I plot an arc and basic framework, and leave lots of room to develop the story while writing. My storyboards will have 50-60 scenes with a few sentences describing what will happen in each scene and how the story moves from point A to point B. When I sit down to write a scene, I have plenty of room to work and develop the characters and story within the boundaries I’ve set.

In this book, I kept getting Frank wrong in all his scenes. His character is gruff, dark, and noir, but I kept writing him too soft or too mean or too whatever, and my editor would send me back the manuscript covered in red. It took four or five drafts to get him right which has never happened to me before. I’m still not sure why that happened, but it was a good experience to struggle and persevere to get the character right.

Writer’s block: How do you beat it?

For me, being blocked means I can’t move forward. When that happens, I force myself to move in any direction until I can move forward again.

I’ll do any number of things: change where I write, exercise more (or less), change the time of day I write. I will write “what if” statements in a notebook (“What if I killed Frank in this scene? What if I change this character in this way?). I’ll also switch from the computer to pen and paper (or vice versa). Sometimes, I’ll just write stream of consciousness, even if it has nothing to do with the story. If you looked in some of my notebooks, you’d see pages of “I don’t know what to write. I can’t think of anything to write. What the *&^% is wrong with me? Why can’t I think of anything to write!”

The trick for me is to keep moving, even if I’m not making forward progress and flailing around aimlessly. Eventually something clicks and I’m able to make forward progress again.

Do you have a favorite book or author? What do you love about them?

My favorite author is Stephen King. Favorite book is The Stand. I just finished reading the “author’s cut” of The Stand which is something like over 1000 pages.

His characters and storytelling are something I model my own writing on. He takes ordinary people and relates them quickly and easily to a reader. Then he puts them in horrifying situations and makes them extraordinary. I also love how prolific King is. He writes faster than I read I think.

I love The Stand because it’s a meandering good versus evil epic about ordinary people in an end of the world, dystopian scenario. The characters are deep and rich and layered. King embodies good and evil in his characters like I’ve not seen another writer do. Often times I find myself thinking about The Stand and the characters when I write. And sometimes, I’ll recognize a character’s idiosyncrasy in a real person and think to myself, “that’s something Stu Redman would do.”

That kind of stickiness – the long-lasting memories of a story or a character that stays with a reader – is something that King has mastered and is what I aspire to in my own writing.

What do you absolutely need in order to write?

A quiet space, a warm drink, and an idea I am passionate about. And of course something to write on, which at this moment is my MacBook Air.

What do you love outside of writing and reading?

I like spending time with my family, especially playing and talking about Star Wars and super heroes with my five-year-old and three-year-old. They love the lore behind the characters and test me all the time. We have light saber battles and make massive scenes with their action figures in the living room. Stuff I used to do when I was a kid. (Well I guess I still do it J)

I watch very little TV, but when I do, I’m a binge watcher. I love what Marvel and Netflix are doing with Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage. Game of Thrones, Mad Men, Shameless, and the Walking Dead are other shows I’ve binged on.

I like helping people, especially other authors. One thing I love about the indie author community is the comradery and the feeling we are all in this thing together. It’s a movement and I’d like to see the spirit of the indie author community spill over into the rest of the world.

I also love to cook. I was a chef for a while, before I went into a technology career, and now I’m trying to write for a living. You could say being an author is my third career, but cooking came first and I still love it.

Before I go, I’d like to thank you, Emily, for taking an interest in my work, taking the time to ask these thoughtful questions, and allowing me speak to your readers. The writing community needs more people like you and I hope you inspire other writers to give as you do. And congratulations on Mud! Well done and well deserved!




OCTOBER 21, 2015

New York, New York

Jack had always been a dreamer, even as a baby. At least that’s what his mother had told him. But he'd never had a dream this lucid or long before. It seemed to last all night…

In the dream, he was standing on a road that went on forever. He turned to his left, and saw the earth had been scorched black, burned to ash and soot. The trees… Some of the trees had been burned to stubs, and looked like cleats turned upside down. Others were still tall and stabbed into the ominous sky, like spears trying to pierce the blazing orange sun setting on the horizon. A thunderous heartbeat pounded from somewhere. He could feel the vibration through his Nikes and up into his body. He had never been so scared in his life than he had been hearing that sound.

A song came to him on a gentle breeze from his right. He knew the tune but couldn't place it. A lullaby? A church hymn? One of his first memories was his mother humming it to him as a toddler. He turned to gaze in the direction of the sound. To his right, lush green fields of grass and wildflowers spread across fertile land. Trees, as tall as skyscrapers, slow-danced on an easy wind. Far off, past the fields and trees, a majestic mountain stood stoic under a bright yellow sun. The sun breathed warmth on everything it touched. A tranquil calm came over Jack as the tune played on the wind, lifting his spirits into the scattered clouds that accented the deep blue sky.

Thunder boomed, startling Jack from his gaze on the serene scene. He turned left as lightning slashed at the blackening sky and the silhouette of something purple-black and thudding in the dead landscape flashed brilliantly for an instant. Jack was filled with dread that tingled all over his skin as the images came rapid fire, slicing through his brain. His jaw fell open and he screamed, but he couldn’t hear his own voice over the cadence that reverberated through him.

A girl…

A purple heart…

An ice-breathing monster…

Tarek… Tarek is dead…

The name resounded in his head. He bolted upright in bed, wide awake, his vocal cords vibrating until they were raw and painful. He was vaguely aware his mother was holding him. That sound…that sound…The cadence was a terrifying rhythm; an endless thrumming.

A heartbeat

His hands slammed over his ear holes and his voice was like a steel rake running through the inside of his neck. He tasted blood in the back of his throat. His mother held him to her bosom, and rocked him and hummed to him. The tune she hummed—it was the same tune from the dream. The words found him and his screams trailed off into sobs.

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound,

That saved a wretch like me.

I once was lost but now I'm found,

Was blind, but now I see.


Share this post!


Danielle DeVor

DanielleDeVorAuthorPhotoNamed one of the Examiner's 2014 Women in Horror: 93 Horror Authors you Need to Read Right Now, Danielle DeVor has been spinning the spider webs, or rather, the keyboard for more frights and oddities. She spent her early years fantasizing about vampires and watching "Salem's Lot" way too many times. When not writing and reading about weird things, you will find her hanging out at the nearest coffee shop, enjoying a mocha frappuccino.

You can follow Danielle at these links:

Blog † | ††Twitter† †| ††Facebook† †| ††Instagram

So, let's hit it, Danielle ...

Tell us about yourself:

I’m a horror movie loving girl who likes to spend her time trying to get scared. I also enjoy reading, watching animals in the backyard, and, of course, I write weird books.

Where did your inspiration to write Sorrow's Edge start?

It is the sequel to my novel Sorrow’s Point. But, I needed something different for my MC, Jimmy Holiday, to get into. And, my father watches old westerns all the time. So, the name of the town, Tombstone, popped into my head and how cool it would be if Jimmy Holiday had to do something in a place called Tombstone.

What was the hardest thing bout writing Sorrow's Edge?

Remembering all the little nuances. Writing a series is tricky because it is the little things that will trip you up.

Writer’s block: How do you beat it?

I kick myself in the butt and give myself a hard deadline. When working with a publisher, you know you only have a certain amount of time to write a book.

Do you have a favorite book or author? What do you love about them?

That’s a tough question. I have about 5 that revolve. Right now, I would have to say Richard Matheson because his books, while deal with terrifying situations also have an innocence about them that is lost today.

What do you absolutely need in order to write?

Silence, a steno pad, and sparkly gel pens.

What do you love outside of writing and reading?

Crocheting, hanging out with friends. Music.

NOTE: Be sure to keep scrolling past the sneak peek to learn about the awesome giveaway Danielle is doing to celebrate Sorrow's Edge's launch!

SNEAK PEEK: Sorrow's Edge
Book 2 in the fascinating series The Marker Chronicles!



I got the phone call at three. Just as Lucy said I would. I was really starting to hate the true ìwitching hour.î I needed sleep, dammit.
I let the phone ring a few times, hoping that whoever was on the other end would just hang up. I wasnít that lucky. I dragged my tired-ass body up, grabbed my phone off the nightstand, and swiped the screen.
ìMr. Holiday?î the man asked when I grunted into the phone.
ìYou realize itís 3:00 AM, right?î My head hit the pillow. I did not want to be doing this right now.
The man sighed. ìIt couldnít be helped. We need you.î
I twitched. Who the hell was this guy anyway? Kind of presumptuous to call somebody at random this late at night when youíd never met the person on the other end. Apparently, manners werenít his strong point.
I glanced around the room. The lamp in the corner was on. The light glowed just enough to keep my mind at ease. Iíd gotten into the habit of sleeping with a light on ever since Sorrowís Point. Yeah, it was irrational, but hey, I was trying to keep the beasties at bay. From the dim light, I could see Lucy sitting on the floor in front of the TV. I, just barely, made out the program through her. Her hair was as pale as usual and so blond it seemed almost white. She wore the same white nightgown she always did.
ìHow did you get my number?î I had to know. I mean, I doubted Will would suggest me to someone else. Things hadnít exactly ended on a positive note.
ìYou came highly recommended.î
That was news to me. A very small group of people even knew I did something besides graphic design. ìBy who?î
ìThatís not important right now. Youíre needed. Thatís what should matter.î
I sat up. Not important to him, maybe, but it sure as shit was important to me. I squeezed the phone so hard my knuckles began to ache. If I broke it, this asshole was going to owe me another phone. ìListen. Iím not about to traipse around and do whatever the hell it is you want me to when you wonít tell me who you are or who told you about me.î
ìOíMalley said youíd be difficult.î
I froze. Father OíMalley had been the one who allowed me to see the church as a vocation when I was a kid. But there was one problem. Heíd been dead since before I left the church. I didnít care where he got the information. That was a low blow. I clenched my teeth.
ìIím going to hang up now. Iíd appreciate it if you didnít call here againóî
ìNo, wait!î
The desperation in his voice was the only thing that kept me from hanging up the phone. ìAll right. Iím listening.î
ìOíMalley told me about you in a dream. When I woke up, your phone number was scrawled on my hand.î
Yeah, I knew that kind of weird. I had firsthand experience with it. Having a dead person talk to him in a dream wasnít that different from a disembodied soul speaking to me in a nightmare. Yeah, my life was really interesting. Though Iíd never drawn on myself in my sleep. That was a new one. ìWho is it who needs an exorcism?î
The guy hung up. I literally heard the phone hitting the cradle. Who used an old phone like that anymore? I almost threw my cell phone against the wall. I mean, what the hell? Wake me up in the middle of the night for what?
I scratched the sleep out of my eyes and glanced over at Lucy. ìDonít you ever sleep?î
She stared at me and grinned. Her blue eyes almost sparkled. ìI donít have to.î
I shook my head. Of course a kid would think it great to not sleep. I, on the other hand needed my restóstrange phone calls or not. And if someone else called, Iíd probably be facing a murder charge.
ìDo you think Tabby will like me?î Lucy asked. She stayed dressed in this little white frilly nightgown. I wasnít sure if it was her favorite or if there was something else at work keeping her dressed that way. When Iíd done her exorcism, she sure wasnít in frills.
Now that was the question, wasnít it? Iíd been toying with the idea of not telling Tabby about my ghostly child, but it appeared that was no longer an option. And with my luck, Tabby would eventually see her, freak out, and the whole thing would be blown out of proportion.
ìIím sure she willÖî I hoped that was true. ìAfter she gets used to the idea.î
Lucy stared at me for a bit. I could tell she wasnít buying it. Best I start remembering there was more to her than to a regular six-year-old.
ìIt will all work out,î I told her. ìEventually.î Part of that was me trying to convince myself. There was only so much oddness a normal person could take, and I figured I was probably getting close to the threshold.
ìUh-huh,î Lucy said, back to watching the TV. How she could just sit in front of the TV for hours on end, I didnít know. It was almost like she became somehow hypnotized by it.
I laid my head back on the pillow. Hopefully, I could go back to sleep. Hopefully, I could stop worrying about that odd phone call. HopefullyÖwho was I kidding? I was seriously screwed. Again.


Sorrow's Edge (The Marker Chronicles,†Book 2)

Uncovering the truth will take an exorcist.
Jimmy Holiday, defrocked priest turned exorcist, is trying to get his life in order. With his on-again off-again witchy girlfriend moving in, the spirit of the little girl from his last exorcism hanging around, and a secret organization of exorcists hounding him, Jimmy equals stressed.

When a stranger calls in the middle of the night asking for help with a possession, Jimmy is about to land in a mess of trouble. Especially since the man on the phone claims to have gotten his number from Jimmyís old mentor. Too bad his mentor has been dead for years.

After a mysterious silver flask arrives at his doorstep, Jimmy is left with two options: either ignore the newest enigma the universe has tossed him, or listen to Lucy and travel to Arizona to solve the mystery before all hell breaks looseÖagain.


You can buy SORROW'S EDGE at these retailers:

Amazon † † | † † Barnes & Noble


Open internationally. Must be 13+ to win.


1 Winner - Amazon $5 Gift Card

2 Winners - ebook copy of SORROW'S POINT

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This†tour†is brought to you by



Please check out our other†tour†hosts for Excerpts, Interviews and more chances to win!

11/6/16 Natalia Brothers mycookbookofwriting.blogspot.com
11/6/16 Cheshire Cat cheshirecatlookingglass.com
11/6/16 Jennifer Theriot http://jennifertheriot.blogspot.com/
11/6/16 Em shotwell EmShotwell.com/blog
11/6/16 Leigh Anderson www.leighandersonromance.com
11/7/16 Steven Ramirez http://stevenramirez.com/
11/7/16 Randi Perrin www.randiperrin.com
11/7/16 Mindy Wall http://dream-reader-dreamer2229.blogspot.com/
11/8/16 Maer Wilson http://maerwilson.com/
11/10/16 Maryanne Fantalis mfantaliswrites.wordpress.com
11/10/16 E. J. Wenstrom www.ejwenstrom.com/blog
11/10/16 Ashley Pomykala parsimoniouspash.com
11/10/16 Kathleen Kelly http://www.celticladysreviews.blogspot.com
11/10/16 Miriam Greystone www.miriamgreystone.com
11/10/16 Craig Comer http://craigcomer.com
11/12/16 Christina Mandara http://christinamandara.com
11/12/16 Ronelle Antoinette http://www.redhotbooks.com
11/12/16 Tina Traverse https://writersonthewharf.wordpress.com
Share this post!



Janice Hardy is the award-winning author of The Healing Wars trilogy and several books on writing, including her Foundations of Fiction series and Skill Builders series. For more advice and helpful writing tips, visit her at www.fiction-university.com or @Janice_Hardy.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes | Indie Bound

Where did your inspiration to write Understanding Show, Don't Tell (And Really Getting it) start?

This was a topic that really wanted to be a book. It started out as a handout my Show, Don't Tell workshop (I'd done a little booklet for that one) and even conference goers who hadn't been in my workshop asked me if I had extras to spare. Earlier this year, I decided to do a newsletter for my site and started prepping that booklet to use as a thank you gift for signing up. In a few hours of tinkering, I realized I had a lot more to say about it, and "show, don't tell" was the perfect topic to launch the new Skill Builders Series I'd been planning. I'd wanted to do smaller books that analyzed and dug deep into various writing techniques to go with my larger planning and revision books. Since this is something writers struggle with the most, it made sense to write this first.

What was the hardest thing about writing Understanding Show, Don't Tell (And Really Getting it)?

Keeping it small. "Show, don't tell" is connected to so many aspects of writing that I kept wanting to add chapters to discuss those as well--such as point of view, filtering, and narrative distance. I do talk about how those aspects affect show, don't tell, but I could do (and will) a whole book on point of view alone. I wanted to keep this book (and series) focused and manageable for new writers. It's easy to get overwhelmed when too much is thrown at you.

In your years as a writer and blogger, what common mistakes and challenges have you seen writers struggle with most?

Show, don't tell, obviously. Point of view (which causes most of the show, don't tell issues) is something that trips up a lot of writers. I often see stories that describe an idea and how a character gets from Point A to Point Z, but it isn't actually a compelling plot with a strong protagonist solving problems to achieve a goal (so that would be a goal-conflict-stakes issue).

Generally, a lot of early drafts focus more on explaining the story idea and get in their own way, preventing the characters from living that story. It's not about saying, "Look at this cool idea I had," it's about interesting people solving interesting stories in interesting ways. Half the fun of reading is figuring out everything along with the characters.

You explain “show, don’t tell” better than anyone else I’ve found. Can you break it down for readers who haven’t found your blog yet?

Aw, thanks so much! Basically, it's when we explain things to readers they ought to be able to figure out by watching the characters experience the story. If we see characters cry, we can tell they're sad or hurt. If they're snapping at loved ones, we can assume they're unhappy or distracted in some way (or just mean). If everyone puts on gloves before they leave the house, we can surmise that gloves are a vital part of this society for some reason.

I've also created a list of what I call red flag words that are frequently found with told prose that people can search for in their manuscripts. They don't catch every instance of telling, and they don't always mean it's told prose, but they do give you a solid place to start looking. A few examples, are "to-verb" phrases (such as, to pick up) and "when" statements (such as, when she went for the gun ... ).

What can writers do to safeguard their work against “telling”?

Understanding what it is and how to spot it. The problem with it, is that it's subjective and depends on so many variables, so there are no hard and fast rules. You can't just "do X" every time and have it work. The same sentence can read fine with an omniscient narrator, but feel told with a first person narrator. Keeping a list of my red flag words handy will certainly help find told prose, but just cutting those words or rewriting sentences using those words doesn't always solve the problem. My favorite chapter in the whole book is an in-depth analysis of this, actually.

When editing ourselves, what can writers do to look out for “telling”—and turn them into “showing”?

Keeping an eye out for red flag words is a good start. Once you get used to looking for them they jump out as soon as you use one and you can stop and revise. After a while, you train yourself to avoid them. It's also helpful to consider if what you're writing is something the character would say, do, or think, or what the author is explaining. If it feels like an author explanation, it's probably telling.

How do you protect your own work against “telling” and fix it in your own drafts? 

I do an edit pass for my red flag words. This catches most of my slip ups, and anything I miss my beta readers and crit partners usually pick up. The nice thing about telling, is once you get used to avoiding it, you do it without thinking, so there isn't that much telling in your work.

You also write fantasy fiction! I have to talk to you about your fiction a little too, before I can let you go.

Writers block: How do you beat it?

I don't use the term (grin). That sounds flippant, but I'm serious. I think getting truly blocked is rare, and most of us just get stuck. We have a story that doesn't want to be written, a problem we have trouble solving, personal issues that are sapping our creativity--but all of these are things in the way, and once we figure out how to go around them, we're okay. So "writer's block" to me means there's something in my story (or life) I need still to work through to move forward.

When this happens, I walk away from the keyboard and let my subconscious work. Taking a hot shower helps more often than not. I think the brain massage of washing my hair does it. Doing tasks that take the focus off the writing also help a lot, so I'll do chores or exercise--anything that involves my hands and activity and doesn't use my brain.

For those who are truly blocked, take a break. Forcing yourself to write when you can't only puts more pressure on you and adds to the problem. Do things you enjoy, forget about writing and let the creative juices refill. When you feel ready to go back and write, do it for the fun of it for a while. Don't go back to the same project that blocked you. Rediscover the joy of your writing and remind yourself that you can do this, and then tackle that tough project.

Do you have a favorite book or author? What do you love about them?

Harlan Ellison. I love his voice, the way he organizes his sentences, his story ideas. He breaks all kinds of conventions and rules and it just works.

What do you absolutely need in order to write?

Focus. And by that, I mean the ability to pay complete attention to what I'm working on without distraction. So no email, no internet, no people coming in and out of my office, no cats jumping on my keyboard (this is the hardest one to get in my house). I need to cut out all the things I know will draw me away from the work. Quiet is nice to have, but I found I can get a lot of writing done at a coffee shop, so if the noise is more white noise in nature, that works just as well.

What do you love outside of writing and reading?

I'm a huge movie buff, so I see a lot of films, and I especially LOVE cheesy movies. I'm also a gamer (from old-style card games to pen and paper RPGs, to computer and console games), and I can lose myself for weeks with a good city builder or MMO. I met my husband scuba diving, and though we stopped diving when we moved to Georgia, now that we're back in Florida, we plan to get back into it. I love the water, so that will be fun to do again. I've missed it.


Understanding Show, Don't Tell (And Really Getting It)


Do you struggle with show, don't tell? You don't have to. 

Award-winning author Janice Hardy (and founder of the popular writing site, Fiction University) takes you deep into one of the most frustration aspects of writing--showing, and not telling. She'll help you understand what show, don't tell means, teach you how to spot told prose in your writing, and reveal why common advice on how to fix it doesn't always work.

With in-depth analysis and easy-to-understand examples, Understanding Show, Don't Tell (And Really Getting It) looks at what affects told prose and when telling is the right thing to do. It also explores aspects of writing that aren’t technically telling, but are connected to told prose and can make prose feel told, such as infodumps, description, and backstory.

This book will help you:

  • Understand when to tell and when to show
  • Spot common red flag words often found in told prose
  • Learn why one single rule doesn't apply to all books
  • Determine how much telling is acceptable in your writing
  • Fix stale or flat prose holding your writing back

Understanding Show, Don't Tell (And Really Getting It) is more than just advice on what to do and what not to do—it’s a down and dirty examination and analysis of how show, don’t tell works, so you can adapt the “rules” to whatever style or genre you’re writing. By the end of this book, you’ll have a solid understanding of show, don’t tell and the ability to use it without fear or frustration.


Share this post!

Em Shotwell is a cancer survivor, foster care advocate, and white belt in Brazilian jiujitsu. Sometimes she writes about oddballs and the weirdos who love them. Her debut novel, Blackbird Summer, is available now. You can visit her online at www.EmShotwell.com or find her on her goodreads page.


Where did your inspiration to write Blackbird Summer start?

I always have characters before I have a plot. With Blackbird Summer, the first character I came up with was Evelyn, my main character’s grandma. I remember thinking, how cool would it be if someone was able to make flowers bloom simply by touching them?

This eventually morphed into the idea of giving off the power of life itself, making everything alive the best version of itself simply by being near.  

Then I wondered how it would feel to be related to such a person, to someone so powerful, and how that would affect a person’s view of themselves. This is how Tallulah came to be. She is rather ordinary (or so she thinks) and struggles to find her place in her powerful family.

On top of that, she lives in a town that hates her simply for being a part of that family. (Being Magic in south Mississippi isn’t necessarily a good thing. People don’t like what they don’t understand.)

What was the hardest thing about writing Blackbird Summer?

Blackbird Summer was my first full-length novel, so that in itself was a daunting task. The more you write, the easier it becomes, but that first book just feels like such a huge undertaking. For me, getting over being intimidated and actually just doing it was probably the hardest part.

Writer’s block: How do you beat it?

I switch projects for a day and write something else. If that doesn’t work (it usually does) I take time and just read. A lot. This refreshes me, and usually gets me in the mood to get back to work.

Do you have a favorite book or author? What do you love about them?

I have so many! My favorite book is and always will be Wuthering Heights. My favorite SFF author is probably Octavia Butler. I consider her the mother of the modern dystopian novel. She was doing it and doing it well a decade before it was the genre behemoth that it is now. A newer book that I enjoyed is Vicious by V.E. Schwab.  I will also read anything that Sarah Addison Allen writes. She could publish instructions on how to properly use a toothbrush and I’d buy it. I also love the voice in Joshilyn Jackson’s novels. She writes southern women’s fiction, but there isn’t anything fluffy about her books. She doesn’t shy away from the ugly parts of southern culture and writes complex relationships very well.

What do you absolutely need in order to write?

It’s cliché, but coffee. It helps me focus. I also will listen to music before getting started on a project, to help me get my mind right, but once I begin writing, I do better with complete silence. So I guess I need coffee and silence.

What do you love outside of writing and reading?

I am a mom to two amazing boys, and I adore doing things with them. We do everything from football games to comic-con, and we have a blast. I also love television. I know that “book people” kind of have this stigma that we turn our nose up at television—but I love campy television shows. Always have. Always will.

I have also recently gotten into Brazilian jiujitsu. I suck so bad, but it is seriously some of the most fun to be had.

Sneak Peek: The Chans

Em is giving away a free short-story eBook.
Follow the link to claim your copy of THE CHANS!



Logan has spent his entire life knowing he is different...

 An invisible force has guided him through important—and not so important—decisions, always pointing him in the right direction. His Gram calls his sixth sense the Chans, a word that means luck in her native Haitian creole. 

One afternoon, while driving home from a faculty meeting at the school where he teaches music, Logan feels the familiar tug of the Chans. Usually the pull is like a suggestion being whispered in his ear. This time, however, it is a demand—one he is compelled to follow. 

When the Chans leads him to a ramshackle diner in an out-of-the-way rural Mississippi town, Logan thinks there must be a mistake. But before he talks himself into leaving, a woman walks in that will change his life forever.


When people fear the unknown, being GIFTED is a CURSE...

 In the cornerstone of the rural south, Brooklyn, Mississippi, no one dares make eye contact with the strange Caibre family. Until the rewards are worth the cost. The townsfolk come, cash in hand, always at night, to pay for services only a Gifted can provide.

No matter the Gifts prevalent in her family, at twenty-one, Tallulah is expected to follow the path laid out for her: marriage, babies, and helping her mama teach the family home school program. She’s resigned to live the quiet life and stay out of trouble…until she meets Logan.

An outsider and all around rebel, Logan doesn’t care about her family’s reputation. Yet after a tragic loss wreaks havoc on the crumbling relationship between the Caibres and the townsfolk, Tallulah must decide if love and freedom are worth risking everything.

Want to read the first chapter for free? Click here!


Share this post!