My Guardian Angel

20180215_185715 (1)When I started this blog, my purpose was to give readers a look behind-the-scenes at the world of writing and publishing. To let others see what writers go through to write their books, to get published, and to promote the books they have written.

I spend my days communicating with many writers, both those that Oghma Creative Media publishes, as well as those that publish elsewhere, and some that don’t publish at all. Some writers are seasoned veterans, others are just getting started.

Along the way, and as an expected hazard of my job, I caught the dreaded writing bug. The beginnings of this blog are rooted in that illness, and I thought that the blog would cure my illness. I was unbelievably mistaken. My dreams have taken off, and I am now planning a cozy mystery series, a biography, and various articles to be written.

I communicate with writers daily. I look for ways that writers can promote themselves and their work. I look for new avenues to promote Oghma Creative Media as a company. I read constantly and offer suggestions to others. I encourage everyone to be the best person they can be, the best WRITER they can be.

And in the course of all this – I forgot to write. No excuses, I simply forgot to sit down and do it.

Luckily for me, I have a guardian angel. I’ll call her Brenda, because that is her name.

Brenda and I met at a writer’s conference last year, and I felt an instant connection with her. She came there to learn, and to pitch her book idea. I was there to represent Oghma Creative Media. We spent some time talking, and have kept in touch ever since.

A couple weeks ago, Brenda sent me an email with the beautiful picture featured here. She said she felt led to send it to me, and wasn’t sure why. When I received it, I admired the picture and had thoughts of writing about it. I framed a post about her generous gift of a lovely image, another post about how writers need someone/thing to light their way, another post about using random images to spark a story.

But you know what I didn’t do? I didn’t write.

Every day I encourage others to write. To simply put their butt in a chair and get to it. And I somehow neglected to apply that to my own life.

This week my guardian angel nudged me again. She didn’t nag, she didn’t criticize, she simply encouraged me to sit down and write.

So I did.

Brenda gently reminded me of the most important thing a writer must do. To be a writer, one must sit down and write. It doesn’t have to be great literature, nor does it need to be hundreds (or even dozens) of words or pages at a time. But we must write. Let the stories out onto the pages. Don’t worry about what will happen later –the editing, the publishing, and the marketing. Those things are necessary tools that we need. But not right now.

I hope that all of the aspiring writers in the world can find their guardian angel to guide them gently down the path to success. But a word of warning—stay away from Brenda. She’s mine, and I need her.

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“Crash and Burn” Just Means You’re on Fire

It’s December now, and NaNoWriMo has been over for more than a week. I promised to report back to you on my results, and here I am to keep that promise. Not surprisingly, I crashed and burned on my first attempt at winning NaNoWriMo. The reality is that I pretty well stopped writing after the first 5000 words or so. I’m not going to make any excuses for myself, but I do see reasons why it happened.

First, I am not a professional writer. I haven’t yet developed the discipline needed to complete a project of that magnitude in a short time. I’m sure that you will agree with me, as you have experienced evidence of me trying to “find my groove” here on the blog.

Second, as a reader, I had no real idea of the WORK that is involved in getting the stories and characters from my head to the page. When I’m thinking a scene through in my mind, it seems as if the events and the dialogue go on for hours. On the page, it turns out to be a few paragraphs, may be a couple pages if I’m really lucky. Now what do I do? Go to a new scene? Create more dialogue? More background information? It’s a delicate balance.

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Third, I’ve spent my life as a wife and mother. I have not yet learned that it’s okay to create a time and place in the day for me to concentrate on myself. People are constantly talking and writing about “self-care”, and this is just another form of that. Learning that I am important, and that it’s okay to put aside the needs of others in order to accomplish my own goals. I’m honestly not sure that is a lesson I can ever learn.

Fourth, I am a professional procrastinator. I’ve told many people that my house was never cleaner than when I was going to college. Every time I had a paper or project due, I suddenly discovered the dishes or laundry needed washed, or a closet needed cleaned. Or something similar would occur at the most (in)convenient time.

Having said all that, I have a question for you—have you ever seen anything crash and burn? Does the fire instantly die out? NO. What happens is that the fire continues to burn, consuming everything, burning brighter when it finds more fuel. And that is what has happened to me. No, I didn’t win NaNoWriMo this year. I didn’t really expect to. But I did light a fire, and am now consumed with the dream if being a professional writer.

So come along with me, follow the adventure, join me if you will—the dream is burning bright.

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Back in the Saddlebag Again

After a much needed, but much lamented, break from writing for this blog, I’m back on track again folks. I know the past couple of weeks have been busy for all of us, and the next month won’t be much better. The holiday season is always a busy time for everyone, and it’s not any different at Oghma Creative Media.

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In addition to the novels we publish and the events for writers that we are involved in, we have an incredible western-theme magazined that we publish. Saddlebag Dispatches is a full-color, glossy publication that comes out twice a year right now, perhaps more often in future, that features fiction, non-fiction, interviews with western writers, articles, and advertising featuring other western-themed writing.

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And western-themed isn’t limited to cowboys. We are also serializing Bender, the Graphic Novel, the true account of America’s first family of serial killers. The Bender family lived in Kansas, and therefore fits the western criteria. Brothers David and Michael Frizell do an incredible job of bringing the story to life in all its horror. If you’ve never heard about the Bender family, I encourage you to check out either the serialization in our magazine, or better yet, get the full-length graphic novels telling the story. The first two volumes are currently for sale, and the third in on its way. Keep your eyes open for public appearances around the Midwest as well. The Frizell brothers love meeting their fans and talking about their work.


When we say “western-themed”, we mean anything that happens west of the Mississippi River, and embodies the spirit of the Old West, as most American imagine it. This of course includes the cowboys, but also the pioneers, the women, the settlers from all nations who moved westward to create a life for themselves and future generations. And it includes modern stories of rodeos, and ranchers, and anyone else who continues to work hard, play hard, and keep the spirit alive for all of us.

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We’ve talked to romance novelist Linda Broday about the power of storytelling, interviewed Craig Johnson, the man behind the incredibly popular Longmire books and television series, included articles about Native Americans, and introduced our readers to museums and collections that are relevant to all of our topics.
Our next issue will be out soon, but in the meantime pardner, mosey on over to pick up an issue or two. Then grab a chair or a log, get a little closer to the campfire, and let yourself be transported to the spirit of the West.
SaddlebagDispatches.com
Oghmacreative.com
Amazon.com
barnesandnoble.com

Reminiscing with the Ranch Boss

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Like many kids of my generation, I loved playing the now-politically-incorrect-on-so-many-levels game of Cowboys and Indians. When my friends and I played, we didn’t care which side we were on, it was all about the game. As we grew older, we still played the game, but now we rode horses and imagined that someday we would reclaim the Wild West. Little did we realize at the time how much the “Wild” West had changed, and that the days of the cowboys as we imagined them were fading fast.

But every once in a while, a kid like me gets to meet real-life heroes. That is exactly how I felt  when I sat down to talk to Dusty Richards. I’ve known Dusty for a while, and known of him pretty much all my life. Dusty has lived in Northwest Arkansas since before I was born, and has always been something of a local legend. Besides being a successful rancher in the area, he had a local radio program for years and appeared on a regional morning TV show, and everyone I know talked about the books he wrote and had published.

Wonderful, magical books about COWBOYS.

Meeting Dusty for the first time a few months ago was exciting for me and I managed not to fangirl too much. Even more exciting is the fact that Dusty is one of the authors at Oghma Creative Media, and that means I can talk to him anytime I want.

Dusty Richards is very friendly and approachable, and absolutely loves talking about his life and his books. As part of my official duties, I sat down to ask him about his life this past weekend. As Director of Marketing, I want to try to know our authors not just as writers, but as people—who they are, what makes them happy or sad, what brought them to the point they are now as artists.

Dusty had scheduled an appearance at the Springdale (AR) Public Library as part of Indie Author Day. He agreed to sit and chat with me until his scheduled time slot, and we found a place to settle in and get comfortable.  The tables near the south windows offered light for recording, and space apart from the main activity to prevent us from interrupting others.

In my innocence (not being a published author) I asked the question “What got you started writing westerns?” Three hours later, I still wasn’t sure that I had a definitive answer.

But looking back over the interview, I discovered  the answer was right in front of me. Dusty had given it to me in true storyteller fashion.  I had expected him to say “This is how it happened,” but what he actually said was “This (a writer of westerns) is who I am, and here is how I got to this point in my life.”

Dusty Richards told me about his early years, living in Chicago, moving to Arizona, meeting the people on the ranches, working with vaqueros, and learning to do things with his hands. He told me about learning to ride horses, entertaining the notion of riding bulls (he became an announcer instead). He told me about the authors he read, the stories he loved, the stories he wanted to write. He told me about his failures and successes, his mentors and supporters, his family and friends.

The closest to a “real” answer to my question came down to this. Dusty once had a friend who spoke about what he wanted to do when he retired. Unfortunately, his friend died before making his dream come true. Dusty said that woke him up. He told his wife he didn’t want to miss his own chance, so he retired from Tyson Foods after more than thirty-five years, and got serious about writing his stories. After more than one hundred books, numerous short stories, three Spur Awards, and now a movie deal, I can say that his fans are glad he took the chance.

Wait—did I just say there is a MOVIE?? Yes, folks I did.  This summer (2017) Dusty earned his third Spur award from Western Writers of America for his novel The Mustanger and the Lady, published by Oghma Creative Media. The new movie Painted Woman is based on characters in that book and will be showing in select theatres around the United States. Friday night (November 10th) it will be premiering in Poteau, Oklahoma. That’s fitting, since it was filmed in Oklahoma. Ask your local venues if they will be screening it. If not, go ahead and ask them to request it. And while you’re waiting, pick up the book. We’ll talk more about this Saturday, after the show.

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Na-No-What-What??

For those of you who haven’t heard, November is also called NaNoWriMo. And if you don’t know what that is all about, let me take a few minutes to explain.
Apparently, a few years ago, some writers got together and decided that the holiday season wasn’t causing people enough stress. Between Halloween decorations and costumes, Thanksgiving dinners and family obligation, and the impending gift-buying season, they still had too much time on their hands.
So, being writers they asked the question, “What if?” In this case, it was, “What if we came up with a way to motivate writers and challenge them to set goals, form support groups, and write a novel? And just for fun, let’s tell them to write AN ENTIRE BOOK in a month. And for even more fun, we’ll schedule it for November, dropping it smack dab into the middle of the holiday season!” And so they did.
NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month, and as I stated above, it occurs every November. All joking aside, it really is a fantastic program. It’s easy to sign up for, you can challenge yourself, or work with buddies to try to outdo each other, learn some great motivational skills, and also WRITE A NOVEL.
As I stated in my first post, I have dreamed of seeing my name on the cover of a book since I was a small child. What better way and time than NaNoWriMo to give it a try? I would have a structured environment, plenty of support, and a tiny taste of what our authors at Oghma go through year round. And as I told one author, even if I crash and burn, I still have material for my blog. What do I have to lose?
I promised myself I would not start early, (some authors do, and that’s ok), because I wanted the most authentic (in my mind) experience. But I did spend the end of October thinking about a storyline, obsessing over a title, reading about NaNoWriMo, visiting their website (www.nanowrimo.org ) to get hints and tips, and preparing to WRITE.
My husband (the real writer) (you know, the guy with published books) is completely supportive of my project, and says I’ll be a great writer (bless his heart). I set my account up (it’s free) and started my profile, found a couple buddies among our authors, and anxiously started planning what I would do next.
I discovered you can EARN BADGES, connect with BUDDIES, find events in your REGION, and other fun activities. You can participate completely online, or meet up with groups in your area to write for a few hours. My favorite feature is the spot where you can update the number of words you have written, to show your progress as well as find out your expected completion date if you follow your current pattern, and the number of words you still need to write to reach 50, 000 for this project. I’m basically lazy, so this is a nice touch. You can also see how many words your buddies have written when they update their word count.
The main point is to write 50,000 words in 30 days. You “win” if your reach the goal by November 30.This comes to an average of 1667 words per day, and I advise that said words are actually found in some known language and form coherent sentences. In all fairness I did not see anything in the rules that said you must follow this formula.
It is also not against the rules to continue a work-in-progress if you are already writing something, or want to use this time to work on a collection of short stories or poetry, whatever YOU need to write for your own fulfillment. The only real rule is to keep writing!
On November 1st I logged into my account (my handle is SecretKeeper17 if you want to be my buddy and follow along), added my title and synopsis, then found and uploaded a cute picture for my book “cover”. There is a space to upload an excerpt from your novel, but not enough space to upload the entire book. That isn’t the purpose of this site anyway. The purpose of http://www.nanowrimo.org is to provide a motivational community. You write your novel in your own space, and track it online.
On day one I fell a little short of the word count, on day two I wrote enough to exceed the necessary words for the day as well as make up for my previous shortage. The goal of 50,000 words is achievable. I do have an idea of where my story is going, but I am writing without an outline and meeting my characters as they come along.
Is this easy? No, I’m not a writer, and I have a family and a day job. Will I someday have a novel on the shelves? Maybe, but it’s not why I am doing this. I am embarking on a new adventure, meeting new friends (some real, some not real yet), and gaining a greater understanding of what every author struggles with when telling us their stories.
So go ahead— give NaNoWriMo a try. It’s not too late to get started!

And Now for a Word from Our Sponsors…

Years ago, when dinosaurs roamed the earth and television was a new and exciting invention, commercial breaks were introduced by this phrase. At that time, a single company would sponsor an entire show, instead of the newer practice of companies buying 30-second advertising slots spaced throughout the program.

I’ve said many times that without the amazing talent of our authors and artists, Oghma would not exist. And I mean that literally, because in addition to creating products for booksellers to promote, the talent pool of Oghma Creative Media often works behind the scenes as well to keep the company moving in a direction that is beneficial to all. Therefore, I consider the artists and authors as my sponsors for this blog, and indeed for the company as well.

Two of those authors released books during October, and I want to brag about them for a few minutes today.

The first author that I want to introduce is Gil Miller. Gil writes crime-fiction and lives right here in Northwest Arkansas. In fact he lives in the same house with yours truly, and although you might think me a little biased (I am), I can say with complete honesty that I would buy, read, and enjoy his books even if I had never met the man. His characters take you into the world of crime in an honest and insightful way that allows the reader to think of the characters as more than criminals or cops, but as living, thinking, feeling humans. He often focuses on the WHY rather than the WHAT of the crimes being committed, allowing the reader to understand how an average person can find themselves caught up in situation with no clear route of escape.

This month saw the release of Spree, the fourth book Gil has published with Oghma, although it’s the first book he ever published. Originally released with another publisher, Gil got the rights to his work back when his previous contract expired, made a couple changes, fixed a few things, got a gorgeous new cover, and put it back out there for more readers to enjoy. His other Oghma releases are part of an ongoing series, but Spree stands alone.

http://oghmacreative.com/our-authors/gil-miller/

https://gilmiller.wordpress.com/

https://www.facebook.com/gilmillerauthor

Gordon Bonnet is, by his own admission, a compulsive writer. Living in New York State, he maintains two blogs, is constantly at work on yet another work of fiction, runs in countless marathons, teaches science, and somehow finds time to be married. We at Oghma suspect he might be more than human.

Despite Gordon’s training in the sciences, and his work as a skeptic and debunker on his blog Skeptophilia, his chosen field of writing focuses on the paranormal. And he does it with style, perhaps because he has given so much thought to what doesn’t work. I do not read paranormal books, I do not like paranormal books, I think they are a silly waste of time.

I love Poison the Well.

The characters are written in such a manner that anything “unusual” seems completely natural to the human race. Gordon makes you believe any supernatural gifts or paranormal happenings are commonplace, even expected. Did you ever watch the X-Files? Admit it—you believed. Maybe not after you turned the television off, but for that one hour a week, it all made perfect sense. Gordon Bonnet gives his readers that same experience.

http://oghmacreative.com/our-authors/gordon-bonnet/

http://skeptophilia.blogspot.com/

http://gbfiction.blogspot.com/

https://www.facebook.com/Gordon-Bonnet-author-228439720509691/

Go check out these amazing writers. I promise you won’t be disappointed. Their books are available through Amazon, barnesandnoble.com, on their webpages, and through various independent retailers. If your local library doesn’t yet carry their books, suggest these titles for purchase. Leave reviews so the authors, as well as other readers, can know if you enjoyed them as much as I did.