Friday, December 30, 2016

Five Year Goals: Year in Review

Last Friday of the Month

It’s the last Friday of the month, which makes it time to review the goals I made a little over a year and a half ago with the Five Year Project (thanks Misha Gericke for putting this on), but it’s also the last Friday of the year, which makes it a good time to review things in general.

My goal initially was to have The Newstead Project to be the next great American novel, but somewhere along the line (about 6 months), that didn’t seem to fit anymore. My goals weren’t just about my writing, my books. It needed to be about something bigger. So it became bigger—so big it was almost ridiculous—to have a World-Class Publishing Company. Even as I type this I feel the arrogance of it, and I know it must sound that way, but really it isn’t.

It can only be arrogant if it’s about me, and it’s never been that.

Now, about a year and a half into this whole goal thing, a year with this ridiculous goal, I’m looking at how it’s going. On the surface I’m nowhere near there. True, Black and White has now published other authors besides myself, but none of those stories/books are at the top of any lists—can’t that be said of any other middle-of-the-road publishing house? True, we have a team now: A Musical Director, Marketing, Illustrator, new Authors…but how does that separate Black and White from anyone else?

There is one thing, though—a dream, a spark, an idea that God whispered into my soul six years ago. More than a dream, it was a question, and that question was why. Why are things done the way they are? Why can’t books be set to music? Why do they have to be certain lengths for certain genres? Better yet, why does there have to be genres at all?


A year ago, an idea, a gift, was given to me. That idea was Ubooks, a patent-pending book format where reading material is placed on video feed, so the words come on the screens of devices at reading pace, words finally set to music at just the moment they needed to be set. Now that idea has become a reality, a living, breathing thing that I am so proud of that every time I think of it I’m overwhelmed with gratitude to the point I can hardly breathe.  

Because, this, too, is not about me.

Those closest to me know how inept I am in all things technology based. They are my witnesses. There is no human way I could have invented something so groundbreaking. God gave this to me, and only He knows the reasons why. I can only keep on being so grateful it hurts to breathe.

So here I am, at the end of the year, at the end of a year into this Five Year Goal, and while on the surface it looks arrogant, and impossible, I end with this:

1. It’s not about me.

2. Nothing is impossible with God.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

IWSG: December

First Wednesday of the Month

Today is the first Wednesday of the month, making it IWSG time. Thanks to Alex J. Cavanaugh and co-hosts for putting this on each month. It’s a safe place to be authentic and vulnerable in regards to this crazy thing called writing.

Usually writing takes a major backseat for me in December. In a typical year I’ve just completed NaNo, therefore am completely burnt out, but it’s more than that. For our family, all of December is Christmas. We go caroling, make cookies, decorate like crazy; the list goes on and on. And while that part is still true this year, for the first time in six years I did not participate in NaNo. I still feel fresh and excited when it comes to this whole writing thing. Not that I’m working on a project, personally. Producing and publishing Ubooks has taken and will take up most of my time. It’s more a wanting to write, an excitement about it. I’ve had an idea for a middle grade story for a long time now. The story is there, but the main character isn’t. I’ve tried just about everything, but I can’t quite get the make-up of who this person should be. Just recently I took a job on a children’s psychiatric unit—hopefully I’ll find some inspiration there.

How are your projects going? Ever been stuck like me?  

Friday, November 18, 2016

Coming Alive


It’s literally sixty-five degrees outside (for WNY—that’s amazing) and I’m in here—writing. Not that I’m complaining, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Something comes alive in me when I write, something I didn’t even know was dying until I sit down and start. I know other people feel the same way. I’ve seen my nephew’s face when he sits down at the piano stool, seen my daughter’s eyes as she sees something that makes her grab her camera. Is it just creative people who are like that? Do accountants feel the thrill when the numbers all align? I have no idea. I hope so. Everyone should feel this alive.

Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

IWSG: November

First Wednesday of the Month

Welcome. It’s the first Wednesday of the month, making it IWSG time. Thanks to Alex J. Cavanaugh and co-hosts for putting this on. Insecurities come in many shapes and forms, and this month for me they come in the form of a clock. This is the last week of my thirties. Birthdays, especially big ones, make me stop and reflect. Am I happy with my life? Have I done everything I wanted to do? Yes and no. All in all I’m content, so.that’s not what I’m focused on this year. Today, with less than five days left to be thirty-nine, I’m faced with the reality that my life is more than likely half over. Scary, right? The first half was pretty good. I wonder what the second half will bring.

Anyone else out there face these insecurities around a big birthday?
Beginning this month, there will be changes here on this blog, mainly that it will focus exclusively on writing related things. I’ve begun two other blogs:  setbooksfreedotorg, to highlight Ubooks, and  Black and White  to offer information on publishing with us. Hope to see you there!



Monday, October 31, 2016

For Halloween

Here it is, as promised: In Lord Shadow’s House


I wrote this a few years ago, this haunting tale of lust and deception, and ultimately, betrayal. Enjoy.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Five Year Goals: Set Books Free

Last Friday of the Month

Today is the last Friday of the month, which makes it time to review some goals. A little over a year ago, I signed up for The Five Year Project with Misha Gericke  (waves hi and says many thanks for coming up with this brainchild and hosting it each month). Basically, it’s about goals and accountability. We begin by making a goal we’d like to achieve in five years, then we review those goals each month to track our progress. My goal: to have a world-class publishing company. I was never one to dream small. With just four years and counting, how is it going?
Really, really well.

1.    *Ubooks are up and running, with new authors and new stories joining the mix in November—look for flash fiction from Milo James Fowler and a picture book from Liz Daniels.

2.   A central hub has been created for a major marketing push, beginning in November—but you can get a sneak peek now—check out I am super excited about this—it’s a site/push directly aimed at my target audience: Young Adults. With that in mind, they’ll be some major changes to this blog as well—look for those to begin on the first.

3.   Still actively seeking new authors. Our line-up is full for the rest of this year, but I may be willing to make an exception for a really great story. Who needs to spend Thanksgiving with family, right? I kid, I kid.  Seriously, though—I’ve read some really great stories lately and am excited to make a round of offers in the next couple weeks or so for publication next year.

That about covers it for now. If you get a chance, stop back on Monday, for a special Halloween surprise. Until then—

*patent-pending musically enhanced video book format, only available through


Wednesday, October 5, 2016

IWSG: October

First Wednesday of the Month

Today is the first Wednesday of the month, making it IWSG time. Thanks to Alex J. Cavanaugh and co-hosts for putting this on this month. For those of you who don’t know, this is a great place to express your own and support others in their insecurities. About this time of year, it’s normal for me to think about NaNoWriMo. I’ve participated the last five years, so, naturally, the pull is there to do it again. And I want to. Here’s the rub: I haven’t worked on a full-length novel since last NaNo. I know it’s not something you forget, but I’ve been so geared up writing short pieces, that I’m worried I’ll look at the blank page and…nothing.

I’ve got the idea. I’ve got the outline. But do I have the story? I guess only time will tell.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Five Year Goals

Last Friday of the Month

Today is the last Friday of the month, making it time to review some goals. Thanks to Misha Gericke for putting this on each month.

My goal: To have a world class publishing company in five (now four) years.

How it’s going: September is the first month since I began this whole project that I’ve been able to invest serious time. And that being the case, I’ve accomplished a lot, mainly on the production end. Black and White has two short stories coming out in October, seven in November, and three in December. I’ve been actively searching for new talent, so hopefully those numbers will keep getting higher. Small steps, but they’re there.

How are your goals going?

Friday, September 23, 2016

Things I Don't Get

My marketing director told me that I need to post more on pop culture, you know, to show I “get” the times, but to be honest with you, I don’t get it. I don’t get how two people sitting on a couch would rather text each other than turn and have an actual conversation. I don’t get spending all day playing cheesy games on our devices that are nowhere near as (forgive my lack of computer-lingo here) rich and detailed as the ones on our dust covered x-boxes. I don’t get selfies or selfie sticks. I don’t get the belief that there is no actual truth—how can they be sure that’s true, if there is no truth? I don’t get Common Core. I don’t get why people don’t realize the high number of abortion clinics in largely black communities isn’t compassion, it’s genocide of the black community. Literally. Did you know that the largest ender of black lives isn’t police officers, it’s abortion? Time to put some things in perspective. Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, was a Nazi whose main goal was the extermination black people.  Don’t believe me? Look it up. Now there’s some truth. There’s something I “get”.

Sorry for my rant, sometimes you just have to. Disagree on anything I said—do you believe selfie sticks are the best thing ever? Feel free to leave it in the comments. I don’t mind differing opinions, just as long as it’s respectful.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

In Need Of: Schedules

This is the first week I’ve been able to really work on writing in over a year. Usually the school year beginning meant adjustments on my part, but I could still squeeze some time in for writing. But last year it just didn’t happen. There was always something, and those somethings equaled up to a lot of things not getting done. That’s a big part of why I decided not to homeschool anymore. And now I have six glorious hours each day to write, to work, to read, and to learn.  Now don’t get me wrong, I miss my kids, but this was good for us. It was time.

Now that I’m here, I’m stammering a bit with what to do.  What is the best use of this precious time I’ve been given? Do any of you have a schedule you’d like to share?  Usually I don’t like the structure, but right now, I think it’s just what I need to get things done.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

IWSG: Choices

First Wednesday of the Month

Today is the first Wednesday of the month, making it IWSG time. Thanks to Alex J. Cavanaugh and co-hosts for putting this on. I’m actually writing this post on Sunday, because I will be out of town at a conference this week (Disney World!!!); which makes my insecurity for this month alarmingly clear: Can I juggle it all? While I’m at a conference for one of my jobs (yes, I have several) my kids are starting school for the first time. Ever. And I’m going to miss it—backpacks and lunch boxes, first day of school cookies and milk –and they’re going to miss me.

My insecurity: I can’t be everywhere and everything. I have to choose. And sometimes choosing is hard. I just hope I make the right choices.

How about you—what are you feeling insecure about this month?


Friday, August 26, 2016

Five Year Goals in Review

Sorry about the lack of posts lately—just trying to squeeze out the last rays of summer. But post I must, because today is the last Friday of the month, which makes it time to review my five year goal (four years left). Thanks to Misha Gericke for putting this on each month.  

My goal: To have a world-class publishing company.

For only being a year into it, it’s going very well. Ubooks are patent pending, we just signed three new authors:  Milo James Fowler (a collection of flash fiction to be released in November), Rebekah Leder (author of The Farm—to be released in December—a Laura Ingallsish middle grade collection about life on a 1950’s farm), and Liz Daniels (author of Garden House—to be released late December/January—a whimsical picture book about a giant pumpkin turned playhouse). I’m super excited to be working with these three amazing authors.

Also, expect to see some of my own work over the next couple months: The Reader, The Writer, and The Open Book (a short story trilogy to be released in October—a dark tale about a girl who can read things to life and a boy just waiting to be read) and In Lord Shadow’s House (to be released on Halloween—a short horror about getting what you wish for). Both of these have been major works of love for me, so I’m super excited to have them out there. In September I plan to get back to my regular blogging schedule, and hunt down new work and new authors/illustrators/musicians. If you have an amazing story and feel like saving me some time, you can submit it to me at: . That’s about it for me; busy, but in a very, very good way. How about you?

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

IWSG: Time/Life Management

First Wednesday of the Month

Today is the first Wednesday of the month, making it IWSG time. Thanks to Alex J. Cavanaugh and co-hosts for putting this on each month. Today I’m in a new frontier. My writing career up to this point has been very whimsical when the juices are flowing type of thing. Yes, I have regular writing hours, but they're (often) interrupted by this thing called life. And that was okay. Now I have deadlines and release dates for works other than my own and all that has changed. Things need to get done.  For the first time in my life I have a (sort-of) 9-5 type of job. And it’s summer, and the kids want to live this thing called life with me. So, what am I insecure about this month? My inability to balance it all. Any suggestions?

*Hey, Everyone! Click out the right sidebar for free Ubooks! If you have a story you’re interested in submitting as a Ubook, email me at:

Friday, July 29, 2016

Writer's Retreat/Five Year Goal in Review

Last Friday of the Month
I’m back. Last week I’d planned on taking my computer on a much needed writer’s retreat. My goal: finish the sixteen short story pieces for this October’s release of Sister’s Grimm. But like everything in life, plans change. I left the computer at home. It was a last second decision, but it was the right one. I’d told myself not having WiFi would be enough to keep me focused on my work, but as the time drew near for the trip, I realized that wasn’t entirely true. I could work on Ubooks all day long without WiFi. So I left it home and brought a nature journal with me instead. That’s actually how I started writing in the first place, so it felt right, and it was. I jotted out the rest of the stories and had plenty of time left to enjoy nature and some time with my son. Win. Win.

Also, today is the last Friday of the month, which makes it time to review some goals. I’m part of an initiative began by Misha Gericke, where you make a long term goal (five years) and review how it’s going each month. My goal is to have a world class publishing house. How’s it going? Very, very well. For years I never solicited authors because I didn’t think I could give them anything they couldn’t get for themselves. Let’s face it; an indie author can hire an editor, cover designer, marketer and sell the book themselves. Why would they need me taking a piece of their pie? I didn’t want to take on an author unless I thought I could really be of use to them. And now I can.

With Ubooks*.

I truly believe they’re going to be huge. Think about it: combining books with music, no limits on backgrounds and fonts—and best yet—they’re free.

So what does this have to do with my goal of having a world-class publishing house? Simple. No one else is publishing Ubooks; they can’t; there’s a patent pending on them. While they’ll never replace books—and I don’t want them to—they’re a creative new way for author’s to reach their readers on a much deeper, more personal level, and let’s face it; it’s another avenue for revenue. Early on when I came up with this crazy thing, I decided to be generous, very generous. Authors will receive 40% gross on all monies received (from commercials). And if they come with a cover, they will receive even more (5%). The only exceptions to this are picture books. Author and illustrator will each get 25%. Why so generous, you might ask? Simple. Author’s with something to gain will promote more. Another win/win. Right now I’m looking at/for flash fiction and picture books. Later, when this idea takes root, I’ll take on full length novels. If you’re interested, feel free to submit your work to me at . For some of you, I’ve been stalking your pieces, so don’t be surprised if I email you in the next few months with an offer.

Have a great weekend!




*Ubooks are musically enhanced video books.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Writer's Retreat

Nest week I’m embarking on something I’ve wanted to do for years: a writer’s retreat—not a thing to do but write—all meals made, no cleaning to do, just me and my computer. But, there is a draw back—no WiFi—which means no post for next week. Sorry about that that, but I hope to make up for it the week after with all the details. Have any of you gone on a writer’s retreat before? The one I’m going to isn’t as seclusive as I’d like; there’s still electricity and civilization nearby, but since I write on a computer, those were compromises I had to make. For those of you who’ve taken one, do you have any suggestions?

My work list:

I plan on finishing my part of Sisters Grimm, a project I’m working on with my sister Emily White, to be released in October. Also, I’m creating a short story trilogy Ubook: The Reader, The Writer, and The Open Book, which I hope to release in September. There is another project I’m procuring right now that I’m so excited about, but I don’t think the contract will be finalized until after I get back, so I won’t be able to work on that. L But I will be thinking about it… I’ll pass on more details as soon as they’re available.

Also, thanks for all the love concerning Jellyfish Jones. Your suggestions were great!
Have a wonderful week everyone!

Wednesday, July 6, 2016


First Wednesday of the Month
Today is the first Wednesday of the month, which makes it IWSG time. Thanks to Alex J. Cavanaugh and co-hosts for putting this on. If you’d like to join in the fun, you can, just sign up here.

This month I’m doing Camp NaNo, which has me insecure for about a million reasons. Because of Ubooks, and editing work for others, I haven’t sat down and all-out written for what seems like years (about 8 months, actually), so sitting down every day and pumping out that word count is super intimidating for me. Thankfully Panera has free coffee all this month—I’m going to need it!

Thanks everyone for spreading the word about Jellyfish Jones! Here it is for those of you who missed it last week, Black and White’s very first picture book Ubook:


Also, just wanted to give a shout out to all the fellow authors for the IWSG Anthology; t was so great being included in this amazing project with each and every one of you.


Because the kids are off(and I’m killing myself with NaNo) I will only be posing once a week for the months of July and August. Have a great weekend everyone!

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Jellyfish Jones Release

Here it is!
Jellyfish Jones
Jellyfish Jones wants to play on the beach with his friends, but his mother says, “No!”
Will he listen?
Join him as he catches the next wave onto the sand with disastrous results. Maybe his mother was right. Maybe jellyfish should stay in the sea.
*Feel free (please, please) to share this with as many people as you can. In fact, if you have any ideas on how to get this in front of lots and lots of kids, please let me know.





Friday, June 24, 2016

Five Year Project Review TIme

Last Friday of the Month

It’s that time again—the last Friday of the month, which makes it Five Year Goal review time.

Thanks to Misha Gericke  for putting this on each month. If you feel like joining us, you can; just sign up here.

My goal is to have a world-class publishing company, and since I’ve been at this for a while it’s more like four year review time: 2020.

I know it’s a big goal, but why not? Stranger things have happened. And it’s going well. Black and White is publishing its first picture Ubook* next Wednesday, with more to follow. I am actively seeking authors, so if you have a fantastic piece of flash you’d like made into a Ubook*, email it to me at

What will it look like for me to publish my story as a Ubook? First, we’ll get you linked onto our Youtube channel. Eventually, it’s our goal to set up a direct App for people to access our Ubooks, but until then YouTube is how we're going. These stories will be free for our readers to enjoy. I feel this is one of the great advantages Ubooks has. People are used to getting their books for free between Bookbub, Kindle First, etc. This mentality has made it very difficult for the new author to break into the market. Ubooks are the solution. The books are free, just as the reader has come to expect. If they're free, how do I get paid? Like Pandora is to music, Ubooks are to books. A short commercial viewed at the beginning of the video is how income is generated. More views, more income. The sky's the limit. That's why social media and marketing are so important. How much do I get paid? Royalties will work like this: For picture books, the author will receive 25% gross of all royalties received; the illustrator will receive the same. For works without illustrations, the author will receive 40% gross. How long does it take to get my piece published? That depends. If it’s a picture book, it may take a while—long enough for one of our illustrators to complete the pictures. If it’s a standard piece of flash, then it can be up and generating hits in as little as two weeks.

Interested? I’d love to hear from you.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Summer Plans

Summer is the best time of year—at least that’s my personal opinion, and let me tell you why:

1.      You get to enjoy all that work you put into the garden in April and May

2.      Camping and S’mores, pool parties and hiking

3.      A break from homeschooling (my personal favorite)

Here’s what my plans are for this summer:

1.      Go on a backpacking/hiking trip with the kids

2.      We got season passes to our local amusement park, so I plan to be there at least weekly

3.      I’m taking a writer’s retreat—one week in a cabin—heaven.

4.      Plan to catch up with some old friends vie Saturday night cookouts at our place.

5.      Visit my friends in the Adirondacks –for those of you who’ve read Erron—yes, the lake is real.

That’s about it; no really big trips planed, just spending time at home enjoying the weather and each other. Professionally, I hope to finish The Writer and The Open Book; the short story sequels to The Reader which is coming out later this month as part of The Thing that Turned Me Anthology. Look for those in August. In July I’m participating in Camp NaNo, finishing up short stories for Sister’s Grimm—a project I’m working on with my sister, author Emily White. It’s a collection of thirty-one fairy tales to be released one per day in the month of October, right here on this blog; Ubook style. Jellyfish Jones—Black and White’s first picture book—is to be released a week from Wednesday; so that’s got me busy right now, making sure everything is perfect with that.

That’s about it for me—what are you plans for this summer?

Monday, June 13, 2016

Party Recap

I know I promised you a bunch of pictures, but it turns out when you're cooking for a hundred and fifty people, you tend to forget your camera. Seriously, I didn't get one picture of my daughter's graduation party, not one. And I didn't even think of that until this morning as I sat down to write this post. In a way I'm glad. It shows I was really there in the moment, enjoying the day. And we did enjoy it. There we were, surrounded by one hundred and fifty of our closest friends. The weather was great, despite the earlier warning of tornados. I'm not kidding. I know for some of you that doesn't sound that spectacular, but I live in New York, we've had maybe one tornado in the last twenty years. Picture it: I'm cooking all this food, listening to the weather forecast and they lay that bomb on me. If you're picturing me on the floor you'd be about right. But there wasn't a tornado, not even a drop of rain. The sun was out, the food got cooked, (all but that one pork shoulder, but it turned out it didn't matter, we had more than enough), and the syrupy sweet tea got consumed--all five gallons of it--I think mainly by my six-year old son who spent the day running between the trampoline and the pool. Have you ever had a day like that before--where you felt God in every moment? Well, that's what Saturday was for me. It was wonderful.
For those of you who weren't able to make it, I have more than enough potato salad/pulled pork/pie for a second party. If you're in the Western New York area, stop by and pull up a chair. I might even be able to scrape up some more sweet tea.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Crazy Life

Sorry I haven't posted per my normal schedule--even today is going to be a bit light because between today and tomorrow I have to:
1. Bake 20 pies
2. Clean my entire house
3. Make salads/sweet tea/BBQ pork (yes, all caps)/everything else that goes into to cooking for one hundred and fifty people.
My little (no so little anymore) girl graduated last weekend and we're throwing her a party at the farm tomorrow.
I promise lots of pictures on Monday to make up for it.
Have a great weekend and pray for no rain for me!

Monday, June 6, 2016

What I'm reading and why

I’m in a sad state in my life, I rarely read for pleasure anymore. Actually, that’s not entirely accurate; I get pleasure from many things I read. I guess the word I’m looking for is leisure. I never read anything unless I have a specific reason. And right now I'm reading the following:

Affected by Randi Lee
Reason: writing style
As most of you know, Randy Lee is a phenomenal writer. Her voice is incredibly strong, and right now I’m working on a sparse piece where I need an incredibly strong voice.  I actually finished this book over the weekend.  Highly recommended.

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater
Reason: writing style and romantic element
Maggie has a subtle way of introducing romance in this book; just enough to pull you in, but not over-the-top like some modern day romances. Again, I’m working on a piece now where I want that kind of romantic element. For me writing is all about emotions. They need to be charged before I start and this book has been good for that.

Tramp for the Lord by Corrie ten Boom
Reason: emotionally charged
For those of you unfamiliar with Corrie, she was the author of The Hiding Place, a true story about her and her family hiding Jewish people in a secret room during the Holocaust. She and her family were sent to a concentration camp for these efforts, resulting in the death of her sister and her father. I highly recommend reading The Hiding Place and I have, many times. Talk about emotion charging! This book is a sequel to that—the story of Corrie’s life after the war.  While not as soul stirring as The Hiding Place, this book has left me crying on more than one occasion, which for me, is a very good thing.

How about you—what are you reading and why?