Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Author Confession: I Broke Two Cardinal Writing Rules and I’m Glad #OurAuthorGang #POTL

I Broke Two Cardinal Writing Rules and I’m Glad
N. N. Light

I admit it, guilty as charged. My name is Mrs. N, one-half of the bestselling N. N. Light, and I broke the first rule in writing: never write about yourself or real life in a novel. The truth is I am happy I did both and here's why. I was inspired to write Princess of the Light through a chance encounter with a homeless man.

I first got the idea for our debut novel one chilly morning back in 2012. It was a cold wintry morning and I was walking to the grocery store. I happened to look across the street and what I saw made me stop in my tracks. A homeless man was sitting on a curb next to the gas station. He wasn't holding a sign or asking for money. His eyes were closed and his head was uplifted to the sky. There was such a contented and happy look in his weathered face. It took my breath away.

I wondered how he became homeless and if there was some way I could help him. I continued on with my day but my thoughts were filled with him and his plight. Who is he? Could I help him?
As the days and months passed, I saw him every day. He kept to himself and never begged for money. Instead, he walked the length of our town. Yes, he walked the length of the town. Every time I saw him, I nodded and said good morning. The simple act of kindness didn't seem like a big deal to me but to him, it was as if I had given him the sun. I started leaving food and clothing for him. The more kindness I showed, the happier he appeared.

Rule #1: Never write about real life in fiction
I knew in my heart it was my calling to tell his story. He isn't some nameless face; he's someone's son, brother, grandson, uncle, father, husband, and/or friend. If I had the power, I would be his protector and free him from the darkness keeping him prisoner. He would no longer be the forgotten man.

I made a promise to myself to donate part of the proceeds to food banks if our book got published. I am keeping my promise and through our marketing, people are donating to food banks on their own.
My motto for our book and for my life is spread the Light. It doesn't matter to me what your spiritual beliefs are for everyone has the Light inside them. Spreading the Light comes in many forms but it starts with being kind.

Rule #2: Never write about yourself, especially when it comes to love and romance.
I wrote about my own love story with Mr. N. Gasp! I know you’re in shock and hoping I brought smelling salts. Stick with me for a moment and let me explain. The romantic story between Mary and Joe is simply based on my own love story.

I met Mr. N back in 2001. We actually met online in a Buffy the Vampire Slayer yahoo group and hit it off right away. We both adore Buffy and it was one of many things we had in common. We started out as friends but soon it blossomed into love. Through some uphill battles and insecurities on my part, I broke his heart not once but twice. It pains me to admit it but the second time around, I was truly cruel.

I thought it was over and I had moved on. I joined another Buffy yahoo group in 2003 and as fate would have it, Mr. N was there. Is the Universe trying to tell me something? He and I got to talking one night off-list. I asked for forgiveness and he granted it. We took it turtle-slow and before I knew what happened, I was in love with him. I mean, true love (the hills are alive with the sound of music) and my walls came tumbling down.

Long story short, I moved up north and married him in 2004. A few weeks ago, we celebrated our thirteenth wedding anniversary. Every day, I thank my lucky stars he forgave me and loves me unconditionally. This is my love story and every time I tell it (or Mr. N tells it), people swoon and say how utterly romantic it is. So I incorporated our love story into Princess of the Light.

Giving the rules a heave-ho allows writers the freedom to create irresistible stories.
Sometimes breaking the rules is needed to tell a really great story. I hope you will see how weaving real life with fantasy makes for an irresistible book. More writers should rebel like me and add dashes of real life into their stories.

Title: Princess of the Light
Author: N. N. Light
Genre: Paranormal Romance, Supernatural, Spiritual Romance
Tagline: Mary's the Princess of the Light but her only hope is to make a pact with her enemy.

Blurb: Mary Miller receives a startling visitation from Gabriel, the Messenger of God. The Archangel reveals an astounding truth--Mary is the Princess of the Light and even more amazing, her destiny is to battle Lucifer's army of demons and restore the balance of good and evil on Earth. It's getting harder to fulfill her new role and keep her identity secret while juggling her personal life, and when Than, Lucifer's second in command, amps up the attacks on her, she knows she needs help. Joe Deacons is everything she's ever wanted in a man. And as providence would have it, in a moment of great need, he's the Warrior of Light--the one who can help her defeat the forces of darkness. Not so simple when they confront Lisbeth, a demon hell-bent on usurping Than and Lucifer himself. When Lisbeth wages war and several innocent people die, Mary must form an alliance with her enemy in order to destroy her. But will this be a grave error or the choice that saves their world?

Marie furrowed her brow and softly interrupted, "André is the Walking Man?" I looked at Marie and asked, "You've heard of him?"

Marie nodded. "Of course. He is a staple of the Downtown area. There are a few groups I'm affiliated with that hand out food and clothing to those in need. He never comes to these events so I leave them by the area where he sleeps." She paused, thoughtfully. "I just can't believe that it is André."

Joe cleared his throat and looked at his father. "What happened to André?"

Alfred sighed and after a moment said, "It really was the fault of that witch he was married to. She and her family treated him horribly. She was a gold digger and all she cared about was money and the prestige."

Marie interrupted Alfred by saying, "I remember her. She was so mean to André and all she cared about was looking rich. Wealth is a gift—she just wanted it for a toy. She treated André so badly... and his mother-in-law was the worst. She would put him down all the time. In front of other people, no less."

Alfred continued, "André was a good man and worked hard. He was working on a big project for the city. He worked night and day on the project and told me it was going to put Golden Lake on the map. "He absolutely adored his daughter, too. I remember that clearly. She was his everything."

Alfred paused, apparently lost in his thoughts. With a sigh he said, "There was a scandal with the project, though, and André got fired. Soon after, Dara left him, took Katherine with her and André fell apart. He started drinking heavily and, without his daughter, his life fell apart."

Joe looked at me and I fought to keep from throwing my hand over my mouth. There was purple fire in his eyes and I felt his anger. I already knew the story of André and I tried to smile at him. I smelled burning flesh. Joe flashed in full armor fighting demons with a golden sword. I gasped at the vision and brought my hand to my chest in shock feeling the key necklace, before I could stop the physical reaction. The necklace weighed heavily as did my heart. He would be fighting at my side soon.

Marie asked, "Are you okay, dear?"

Joe turned to look at his mother. He nodded and only said, "I never knew any of this."

Alfred continued, "I am sorry, son, but you asked for the truth. This is what I know. André was sleeping at the office and drinking all the time. He was supposed to give a presentation to a client and was drunk. He got into a scuffle with his boss and rumor has it, André punched him."

I feigned shock and said, "Oh my!" Than is to blame. I don't know how I know or what happened but I vow to the Lord that I will make Than pay, thought Joe. I choked and almost spit out my drink. I just heard Joe's thoughts! I had to set him straight and right away. I cleared my throat and said awkwardly, "Joe, I think I left something in the car."

Joe looked at me with eyebrows raised. "Excuse me, we'll be right back," I said with a smile.

I walked outside and knew that Joe was right behind me. When I reached the car, I whirled and said in a stern tone, "Are you trying to get yourself killed?"

Joe stopped mid-step and said, "What are you talking about, Mary?"

I ran into his arms and whispered, "You cannot take on Than by yourself! I heard your thoughts in there. Now, I don't know how you know that it was Than who drove André to punching his boss but please promise me that you will not get revenge." I paused to catch my breath and remembered what Gabriel told me. "Joe, in order to defeat the darkness and not become dark ourselves, we need to have a pure heart. We are filled with the Light and our motives must always be to speak the Truth and spread the Light."

Joe took several deep breaths while he held me. He stroked my hair and whispered, "I'm sorry, my angel. I didn't mean to frighten you and you are right. It was just a momentary thought."

I lifted my head and locked eyes with Joe. Tears filled my eyes but I was determined. I bit at my top lip and then whispered, "Promise me you won't put yourself in harm's way."

Hot tears spilled down my cheeks. Joe wiped at them and said in a deep, reassuring tone, "I promise, Mary. I promise I won't be a hothead and I won't be rash." Then, he laid his forehead on mine and whispered, "Please don't cry, darling. Please."

I nodded and whispered, "I would die if I lost you. Than will use you to try to get to me. You are my love, my everything." My voice cracked. "I would die if I lost you," I repeated.

Joe shook my shoulders a little and looked deep into my eyes. "Listen to me, Mary, you will never lose me! Do you hear me? I am by your side now and forever." Overcome with emotion, Joe kissed me.

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Author Bio: N. N. Light is the husband-wife writing team, commonly known as Mr. N and Mrs. N. Mrs. N. has been creating stories ever since she was little. Her grandfather remembers when she was two years old, she would stand at the top of the stairs and tell him a story filled with emotion (and in a language foreign to him) with her hands on her hips. Let’s just say she was a born storyteller. They’re blissfully happy and love all things chocolate, books, music, movies, art, sports, trains, history, cooking and baking. Their mantra is to spread the Light. Most of the time you can find them on Twitter or getting new ideas on how to spread the Light on Pinterest. They’re a proud member of ASMSG and Independent Author Network. Sign up for their author newsletter and get exclusive content and prizes In addition to being authors, they’re also book promoters/reviewers, social media marketers/influencers and the owners of N. N. Light Author Promotions. They both love books, have ever since they were young. Matching up books and readers is something that gives them great pleasure.

50% of the proceeds of Princess of the Light go directly to food banks (US and Canada) in order to feed the hungry and help those in need. With only 7,500 books sold, N. N. Light will be able to set up a monthly endowment for the local food bank. They’d love to connect with you either via email or via these various social media sites:

Website: Blog: Goodreads: Bookbub Twitter: Pinterest: LinkedIn: Google+: Amazon Author Page: Independent Author Network: iAuthor:

Footnote: All photos (with the exception of Princess of the Light cover and N. N. Light author picture) are from Pixaby.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

On a Dare She Wrote: Erika M Szabo #OurAuthorGang

We invited authors, aspiring authors, and poets to be our guest on the Author Gang's blog.

Author Erika M Szabo submitted her story and chose this picture to match.

Erika's story will be featured in the Golden Box Books Publishing's Readers' Magazine.


Searing pain squeezed my chest as I struggled to breathe. Let it be over, I begged silently. I'm so tired. My wish was finally granted and I was floating over my withered, old body.

The pain was gone and I was finally free. My earthly feelings of jealousy, hate, pity, entitledness and vanity peeled off and left only acceptance, serenity and love behind.

The tranquil feeling enveloped me as if I was wrapped in a comforting blanket. Basking in the brilliant white light I floated up in the familiar, wide tunnel. My memories slowly surfaced and by the time I reached the end of the long tunnel and floated into the beautiful gathering place, I remembered every single lifetime I lived.

"Welcome home Tiana," the familiar, soft voice in my head greeted me with my real name that was given to me so long ago. A large group souls surrounded and greeted me with loving embrace. Their gentle touch gave me pure joy. I saw my parents from many lifetimes along with my children, relatives, and friends.

"Finally you’re home," came the thought of my soulmate from the crowd. The souls parted to make way for him. "I’ve been waiting for you for so long."

"I missed you so much, Joland," I projected my thoughts. "I couldn’t find you and I was so lonely without you."

"My last lifetime was too short, only fifteen earthly years," he sent me his loving thoughts and longing vibes. "I love you so much! Come, I have so many memories to share with you."

We floated toward our beautiful, comfortable home that we shared while we both waited to be reborn again.

Finally, after spending a long life without him, we had a chance again to embrace in the purest form of lovemaking. We held each other in silence for a long time, floating in the warm light and enjoying our reunion.

"How was your life, my love? Would you show me?" Joland asked.

"It was too long," I showed him a mental picture of my last life.

My short childhood years were uneventful, so I started with my wedding day that was a sad occasion because my parents married me off young. I didn't love my husband but I learned to respect him over the years. We struggled and he worked very hard to provide for our growing family. He died in the war and I was left alone to raise ten children. Sadly, after all that struggle and hard time, I outlived them all and I died alone in a nursing home.

"Sorry, love. My last, short life wasn't happy either," Joland replied sadly.

He showed me a mental picture of a young boy who was abused by his brother from the time he turned nine, until his fifteenth birthday when he gathered the courage and strength and stabbed his brother to death. His father was heartbroken over the death of his favorite first born and shot Joland in the head, killing him.

We recalled happier lives for a while and then a group of souls we've connected with through so many lifetimes and resting periods, came over to visit us.

"How was your life since I’ve seen you?" I asked Kira, who was a cook in King Tut's court when I was a dressmaker.  

Kira replied, "I haven’t been sent back for a long time, but I didn’t tell you about the last one. Although I was born to a rich family and had a chance to travel a lot and study, I kept bumping into brick walls in the men's world. I found out a lot about how the human body works and learned herbal medicine from healers but I was not allowed to enter medical school because I was a woman."

She showed us a mental picture of her travels in many European countries when she visited healers, shamans, and medicine women.

Then she continued with a bitter tone of her voice, "I became a midwife but when the doctors who believed in bloodletting as the only form of medicine found out that I've been using herbs to heal people, they declared me incompetent and locked me up in a mental asylum where I died years later."
"So sorry, Kira," I tried to console my friend.

“It’s okay but under different circumstances, I could have earned my permanent stay. Well, maybe next time. Oh, I hope you don’t mind me inviting Sandor,” she pointed toward soul floating alone by the window.

“Of course I don’t mind. Who’s he?”

“He’s been a permanent for a long time but he’s kind of a loner and doesn’t make friends easily. You see, all his lifetimes, that happened to be war-times every time, he was destined to be the underdog, sickly and weak. He couldn’t fight but in his last lifetime he wrote a poem that moved an entire nation which led them to victory.”

“Wow! I never knew writing a poem would be enough to earn someone a permanent stay,” I mused and then spotted my dear friend in the crowd. “Have you met Gertrude?” I asked Kira.

“No, but I see she’s a permanent. How did she earn it?”

“She invented the first antiretroviral drug to treat AIDS. I wish I could achieve something similar in my next life.”

“Yes, me too,” Kira projected her words.

We mingled, socialized, enjoyed each other’s company and learned from each other’s earthly experiences. Later we played our favorite games, listened to music and went to see a play.

Although we don't measure time in our resting periods, this time Joland and I had a longer than usual time together. We spent the time enjoying the pure happiness that only soulmates have a chance to experience.

"I hope in our next earthly lives we could be together in body and soul." he wished.

"I hope we will be born at least on the same continent so we could have a chance to meet,” I replied. “But, let's not waste time worrying. Let's enjoy what we have."

We did for a long time but then the voice came, "Tiana, Joland, it's time for both of you to go."
"Can we stay for just a little bit longer?" I begged.

"No, you know the rule," the stern voice replied. "Both of you must keep going back until you achieve something in one of your lifetimes that helps to move humanity forward. You must do something that people find worthy to remember your name for. Then you can reunite and stay together for eternity."

I embraced Joland and he sent me his thoughts and his feelings of pure love, "Until we meet again."

We floated away from each other dragged by a force we couldn't fight. Suddenly, I found myself struggling to push my way through a dark, narrow, and very tight tunnel. I pleaded silently, please, let us both find our purpose in life this time.

As I wiggled my small body free and struggled to take my first breath, I tried to hold onto my memories but everything faded away. Cell memories surfaced and I remembered only sounds and the comfortable feeling of floating in warm liquid. I heard familiar, loving voices and the calming, rhythmical lub-dub sound as I was laid on a warm and soft surface and felt the reassuring vibes of love radiating toward me. I'm not alone. Everything will be alright.

I became an avid reader at a very early age, thanks to my dad who introduced me to many great books. I write alternate history, romantic fantasy, magical realism novels as well as fun, educational, and bilingual books for children ages 4-12 about acceptance, friendship, family, and moral values such as accepting people with disabilities, dealing with bullies, and not judging others before getting to know them. I also like to encourage children to use their imagination and daydream about fantasy worlds.

Read about Erika in her author magazine

Monday, August 14, 2017

Tenet 1: Build Only What you Need #OurAuthorGang

By Rich Feitelberg

So you want to writing a fantasy story? Great. One thing you'll need is a world to set it in. The term for doing this is world building. It's a bit of a misnomer because the world part isn't what you think. It's a frame of reference thing.

For example, the Lord of the Rings and the Wheel of Time and many other stories require a whole world to tell their tales. But Thieves' World doesn't. For that, you need a very detailed city and lots of characters.

Harry Potter, on the other hand, only requires the bits that are different from the modern world. So you need the school he goes to and some idea about magic and potions and the back story of some characters.

My point here is world building varies from story to story and gets me to my first point: build only what you need because building a whole world can take months or years and drive you mad with all the details. So I'll repeat myself: build only what you need.

How do you do that? Well there's no one way to do it. You can read articles online and even a book entitled, Planet Construction Set, which will outline aspects to consider. But all that's not needed to get started. A simpler -- and in my mind -- an easier way is to think of the world as a character in your story. Is the world modern? Medieval? Futuristic? Steampunk? Ancient Greece? Set in a specific period or location? In each case you'll need different information to define the world.

What's the technology level? What races or groups exist? What religions and government? As you answer these questions, you'll quickly sketch out and define the world and provide yourself with a skeleton for the information that will come later. Of course, to answer these question you may have to do some research on religion, government, technology, and so on.

Don't be afraid to do it. I will serve you better later.

That begs the question: how do I know when I've built enough? Answer: you won't. Or more precisely, you can't know, at least unless you start writing. You'll hit points where you need more than you've got. That's okay. You can stop and work those parts out. I don't recommend skipping over that point in the story; it will likely lead to extra rewrites and revision. I also don't recommend that you start writing until you have a general sketch of the world; otherwise, you'll be working without a net and decisions you matter later will introduce inconsistencies, which will lead to rewrites.


Here's how I'd answer these questions for my fantasy world:
Is the world modern? No 
Medieval? Yes with magic thrown in.
Futuristic? No 
Steampunk? No 
Ancient Greece? No, but there are influences of ancient Greece in the world like the name of the country, Thalacia and its capital Andropolis. 
Set in a specific period or location? Specific period, no? Location yes; Thalacia  
What's the technology level? Medieval, no black powder weapons. But magic which can simulate modern technology if I let it. I decided not to because it would ruin the flavor I am trying to achieve. Magic as seasoning, not entree. When I write stories focused on my favorite wizard, then magic can be the entree.
What races or groups exist? Lots of them: elves, humans, dragons, giants, dwarves, gnomes, lizard men, goblins, and other associated fantasy races. 
What religions and government? Religions: several, the christian sect, jewish, muslin, and various pagan religions, plus most other races have their own beliefs. There are also older religions that have died out from humans of past centuries. 
Governments: Most races have some form of government, monarchies mostly. Humans government vary worldwide; in Thalacia, the feudal monarchy prevails. And most other races have a similar form of government with a strong single leader, like a king or thain or tribal chief or matriarch, depending on the race.
Once you know all this, or at least some of it you can think about maps. And that is the topic for the next post. See you there.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Readers #OurAuthorGang


Greg Jolley

Must open this post by first tipping my hat to all the good and interesting writers of The Small Gang of Authors for letting me weasel my way into their excellent celebration of books. I’m thrilled and honored.

To the topic: Readers

Yesterday evening, I joined another reading group, this one in my very small home town. I delight in these, no matter the genre or the group’s temperament or lack of cake and coffee.

The book being discussed was Elizabeth Gilbert’s The Signature of All Things
(which I hadn’t read, being new to the gaggle). I held my singular, almost standard question until the end (manners for once keeping me leashed).

“As you wadded into this novel, assuming you didn’t toss it across the room, what drew you through, what compelled you to engage with the story and read on to the end?”

I won’t summarize, but simply share what I scribbled as these kind and sincere folks spoke:

“I cared for her (the main character).”

“It was a puzzle that I wanted to complete.”

“The first few pages snagged me, I want to see what would happen.”

“There were these interesting twists. Even when some confused me, I pressed on.”

“It was so real.”

“I had to know what happened in her life.”

“I was learning so much about moss.”

It’s for others, likely the East Coast Literati, to construe a single learning or insight from such comments. Not my job. But for my work, I am encouraged yet again to remember on a daily basis (I write seven days a week), that I write for myself and others and offering a hand whenever I can, feels right and caring. I’ve also decided to not research and work at length in moss – it’s now be done by one of the finest.

All the best,

Greg Jolley

Saturday, August 12, 2017

On a Dare She Wrote: Grace Augustine #OurAuthorGang

We invited authors, aspiring authors, and poets to be our guest on the Author Gang's blog.

Author Grace Augustine took submitted her beautiful story and chose this picture to match her story.

Grace's story will be featured in the Golden Box Books Publishing's Readers' Magazine.

There’s a chill in the air and the heat from the fireplace feels wonderful…especially after spending most of the day outside doing chores.

I don’t mind milking the cows or tending the chickens. After all, it is food for the table.

I think it’s going to be another harsh winter. We lost several heads of cattle last year because of the frigid temperatures. There’s only so much coal you can burn and someone needs to be awake twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week to assure the barn doesn’t catch on fire. We only have ourselves, and of course, my brother Billy. It’s a challenge to take turns staying up all night. 

Lance is doing the best he can, I know that. Poor man, he works from the dark of morning to the dusk at night. When he’s not outside tending to the animals or making repairs, he’s inside working on the financial aspect of keeping this place going.

Me, well, I keep the home fires burning. I make sure his clothes are clean and there is hot food on the table. I take care of the dog and cats and try to get a bit of sewing done so I can take it into town.
Jenny and Mick run the general store. Jenny’s said that my dresses are some of the finest she’s seen and she goes on lots of buying trips for fancy fabric. She says if she could take them into the city, they’d bring top dollar. I don’t know about that. It would be nice, though, to have some extra money. I just like to sew. She wants me to use some of that fancy lace fabric for something she calls overlays. She’s willing to take me with her the next time she goes into St. Louis. 

Lance and I have been married for ten years now. Seems like yesterday when my Daddy and Momma walked me down the aisle. It was a lovely early spring day, and we had the wedding outside at my Grandmother’s house in her fabulous garden. The trellis of roses smelled divine as we stood under it reciting our vows.

We’d thought by now we’d have several children running around. That’s not the case. Doc says I can’t have kids, something about my female parts not being developed properly. Lance says it’s alright. So long as we have each other, that’s all that matters. I still wish I could have a baby or two to cuddle.

Lance and I usually sit in the rockers in front of the fireplace after the dishes from dinner are washed and put away. He plays his guitar and sings such wonderful songs to me. Sometimes he just plays music. When he does that, I read or work on my ever-growing stack of mending. Can someone tell me how there can be so many holes in a pair of socks?

The fire is dying slowly, the sign another day is ending.  I’m sure we’ll awaken to a new foot of snow. But that is tomorrow and tomorrow has its own adventures. Right now, it’s time for Lance and me to head to bed and snuggle down under the heavy wool quilt. We’ll hold each other until we fall into a restful sleep and Lance will once again be up before the sun to care for our land and provide for our needs. I sure do love that man.

Grace Augustine

My fascination with the written and spoken word began as a 6th grader. I was like a sponge. I couldn’t get enough spelling, sentence diagraming, and literature. This passion followed me through junior high and high school and into adulthood.

I’m a Jill of most trades: co-owned a weekly newspaper, administrative office work, kitchen design, custom jewelry creation, wedding planning, floral design, preaching sermons, public relations, and marketing, designing social media promotions, copy and manuscript editing, and now add the title author to this mix.

I write mainly romance in several genres. The Acorn Hills series is a seven-book series based in the Pacific Northwest and deals with life issues and romance for the over 50 yr. old group. I have written a paranormal romance trilogy, a 40+ yr. collection of poetry/prose, a contemporary romance, and a self-help book. I am currently working on book 1 in a Christian romantic suspense series.

I’m originally from Northern Montana, currently live in Iowa, have 2 adult sons and a three-year old cat named Bou, who is Princess of the Manor.

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