Jun 102014

Her books have rung the bells of the New York Times Best Seller list ever since her debut novel, The Informationist, first burst onto the literary scene to critical acclaim (the book is currently being adapted into film by director James Cameron).

Since then, author Taylor Stevens has assembled a global following of fans with her Vanessa Michael Munroe series; the main character of which has been described as a heroine with shades of Jason Bourne, Sherlock Holmes and Stieg Larsson’s Lisbeth Salander.

Born and raised into the apocalyptic, sex-and-Jesus hippie cult, the Children of God (the same cult that the family of River Phoenix once belonged to and which now goes by the name, Family International), Stevens was separated from her family at a young age and denied an education beyond sixth grade. Sent to CoG-operated communes throughout the globe, she lived a bleak adolescence that consisted of begging on city streets and caring for the commune’s younger children. It wasn’t until she was in her twenties that Stevens managed to break free from the cult.

The highly anticipated latest installment in her Vanessa Michael Munroe series, The Catch, is scheduled for release on July 15.

In an interview with the author, she discusses the long and meandering journey from cult kid to bestselling author.


Taylor Stevens pic Continue reading »

May 292014

tabard innWe all find ways to inspire our writing. For me, it is often a location. I am especially partial to a nice café, a local Starbucks, or a bar with a nice ambiance. Most of all I find places that inspire memories and a sense of nostalgia to be the best writing environments.

Continue reading »

May 232014

The Wonderful World of Blog Tours

I love book bloggers I used to think a blog tour was when an esteemed blogger, ahem, went on a virtual tour, imparting her “voice” to various blogs. That’s not it.

On a blog tour, a book goes on a virtual trip with just a note from its author, usually around the time a book releases. A publisher or author sets a up a time period for the “tour” and sends out pitches, asking various book bloggers to choose a day during that time to review or highlight the book.

How do you hug a book blogger? By visiting their site! Continue reading »

May 192014

On cloud nineBefore I jump into my post with my mature author’s pen (or typewriter or metaphor of your choice), I’d like to share a huge WHOOPPEE and thank-you. Memories of Me: A Complete Guide to Telling and Sharing the Stories of Your Life is now available! Oddly, I don’t feel the great sense of accomplishment I expected to feel. Instead, I feel an overwhelming and humbling sense of gratitude for all my supporters and cheerleaders. (If you’re one of them, read my thank you post!) Continue reading »

May 152014

Hell ImageI swoon for summer. I get hot for the heat. The waft of barbecue in the summer air is like an aphrodisiac. For my money, nothing beats a road trip with the windows down and a great music playlist. Yep, nothing gets my dopamine flowing better than a pleasant day. But that’s the problem. As a lifelong Michigander, I’ve come to learn that pleasant days aren’t exactly something you can plan a picnic around. Continue reading »

May 122014

The following first appeared in Laura Hedgecock’s blog, www.treasurechestofmemories.com.  With the trees budding and the bees buzzing, I thought it’d be a fitting post for a spring day.

There we stood, lined up along that faulted slab of asphalt outside the school gymnasium. Third grade. That time when it began to dawn on me that there might actually be something awkward in the way I looked—freckled with a wavy mop of hair; brown corduroy pants and red pull-ring zipper shirt that I’d come to know as my “Tuesday” ensemble. Continue reading »

May 052014

I want to become a full time author
A call to arms, if you will.

How many times have we wondered how much of it is luck? Well, my newest stance on that is “Who the heck cares!” Take a cue from Peter Dinklage’s recent quote on luck. If you aren’t putting in the sweat and tears to make it happen, you will need a whole hell of a lot of luck, and even that may not save you. Continue reading »

May 032014

As a follow up to Writing for SEO: Does it Ruin Good Writing?, I’d like to illustrate some painless tricks to elevate your Search Engine Optimization that will have minimal impact on your article content or writing style.

Give Search Engines Information about Your Image(s)

Easy SEO Tricks aren't magic

Easy SEO Tricks are simply ways of helping search engines understanding your content.

Two easy SEO tricks are setting your image file name and image description. When you place an image on your page, the source code of your post offers text for search engines to evaluate. If you upload an image with the filename of pic.jpg, Google finds no added value in that.

If your image is directly related to your content, help search engines out by giving your image a relevant file name. For instance, if your post is an interview with author Stephen King, your image file name should be something along the lines of Stephen-King-Author.jpg. (This is especially true of your own author photo. Always name your photos with your full name followed with the word “author.”)

When you upload and select an image to place in your post, you also have the option of setting a description for it. Most platforms call this an “alt text” or “alt title.” By including your key word phrase in your alt tag, you give Google reason to believe that your image is relevant to your content. Continue reading »

Apr 282014
Writing for SEO gets google results

Writing for SEO: Can writers maximize search engine results and still put their best foot forward?

Writing for SEO (Search Engine Optimization) can help our content reach a maximum number of readers. But, on the other hand, we’ve developed our craft so that when readers do find us, they’ll want to read more. Do we really want to alter our writing?

‘‘ search-engine optimization
the methods used to boost the ranking or frequency of a website in results returned by a search engine, in an effort to maximize user traffic to the site… (Dictionary.com)

Does writing without regard to SEO limit our audience? Will writing for SEO ruin our craft?

The answer to both is, “it depends.”

Continue reading »

Apr 202014
Mug Shot

The author as “Corey Brown”

Without even trying, I tend to be attracted to literary and film characters that, like me, share a nihilistic view of life and morality. Pretty ironic, given the fact that my day job requires me to uphold and enforce laws enacted from a bunch of handed-down, subjective truths. Perhaps it’s a bit of the Preacher’s Kid Syndrome in me, but there’s a part of me that envies those pesky trickster figures that get everyone all up in a twitter. You need ‘em to challenge the status quo; to point out the ideological hypocrisies of personal values. But above all, they’re just a heck of a lot more interesting to have around.

Back in my undercover days, I had one of the most succinct, albeit brief, conversations about this very topic with the unlikeliest of persons: a coke addict. For the past month, I’d been meeting “Ken” (not his real name) in his sad, flat apartment where, beneath the seizure-inducing flicker of a dying fluorescent light, I’d hand him $160 in exchange for an 8-ball of cocaine. Quick and simple. In-and-out. Continue reading »

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