Negative Reviews – A Given

Fall is falling in Central Pennsylvania. The air is crisp and fresh. The skies take on a different hue of blue. It won´t be long until the mountains are ablaze with gorgeous color. Without a doubt, this is my favorite time of year. My prayer is that you all are safe from the wildfires and hurricanes and are enjoying this time of year wherever you are.

Did you ever write something you thought was really good, and then a bad review shows up? If you haven´t, you will. It´s bound to happen. Negative reviews are just a part of writing. Nothing will ever change that, but there may be a way to lessen unwanted feedback.

I came across a story about an airport that constantly got bad reviews for slow service at baggage claim. They came up with a unique idea, and the negative reports slowed considerably. What did they do? Well, they could have emphasized speed on the service – make sure everyone is hustling and pushing things through faster.

Instead, they simply moved the baggage pickup to a further carousel. People would have to walk further, which would take longer, which would eliminate them standing around waiting and complaining. What’s funny is, it took the same amount of time for people to get their bags. But because they were walking (and not “waiting”), the complaints dropped significantly.

The moral of the story is maybe you don´t have to rewrite your story (you can be sure someone won´t like the rewrite, too), but change the way you frame the book. The reason people give negative feedback is because their expectations have not been met. So, meet their expectations.

How about this? Is your book longer or shorter than most? Let your audience know ahead of time.

Got clean or explicit romance scenes? (Hopefully, it´s clean, or at least, not too explicit). Tell them.

Is your writing more technical or more inspirational? Make it known.

There really is a market for just about anything you write. Some will love it and others will hate it. That´s just the nature of the beast, but when you identify from the get-go what the book is about, you´ll have a better chance to eliminate those unwanted reviews.

Just some thought to ponder and that will wrap it up for another week!


My Unplanned Vacation

Have you noticed? You didn´t get an update last Wednesday. Computers are wonderful – when they work. They´re terrible – when they don´t. Well, my computer isn´t working. I have to borrow one to get today´s update out. So, thank you, thank you, thank you to the one who loaned it to me.

Although I appreciate the use of the computer, it´s different than what
I´m used to, so I´m on an unplanned vacation. It´s been really hard to figure out stuff. You may have noticed no pictures week. That´s easy. I
don´t know how to add them. Somehow, things don´t seem right without a picture, Oh, well!

To you who follow me on HubPages, it´s going to be a while. If I haven´t commented on one of your articles – well, now you know why. I´ll get back to you just as soon as I´m able. To my students who have not finished their courses, I´ll add the time to your commitment when I get back up and running.

Even typing is confusing to me. The keyboard is much smaller than what I was working on. Every time I hit a t, I hit a y. Every time I hit a c, I hit v.

This being the case, l´ll be short this week. Better days are ahead, so keep plugging away on whatever you have. See you next week! – hopefully.


Backstage – II

Welcome to Wednesday’s Update, August 26, 2020. Where has the year gone? Hopefully, The Marisol Deception should be finished by late September. I hope I can stay true to that. Things have been so busy. I realize some of you experience the same situation, but keep going – a little each day.

Okay, let’s head backstage with Pinpoint Analysis.

I published Pinpoint Analysis in May 2019. To date, it’s been one of my best-selling fiction books. And if I may say so, it’s my favorite, too. The setting takes place in Miami, Florida, with the major action happening off the coast in the Bermuda Triangle. We know the Triangle is known for strange, unexplainable happenings and seemed to make a suitable backdrop for another thriller.

I’ve forever been a panster, so the tale unfolded day by day as I wrote. I never knew what would happen next, and I tried to keep it that way for my reader. A story of faithful love willing to pay the ultimate price pitted against the master of hell was the result. A little sci-fi, including time travel, popped on to the pages. Scientific research by the protagonist, Les Griffin, added to it. I threw in family dynamics and a few twists and turns.

I enjoyed doing my own research for the project. Usually, that’s the part that weighs me down, but I learned much about the waters of the Atlantic, the theories on the many missing planes above the Triangle, and the workings of the naval base off the Bermuda coast.

I wanted to create a story that would get people thinking about the more serious questions in life, or in this case, the afterlife. We don’t hear much about hell these days, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. And there are real consequences to pay.

If you’re interested, you can get the book by going to the Books and Resources page where shipping is always free. Or you can order through Just a little of the backstage business today, and we’ll see you next week!



During the next few weeks, I want to give you a glimpse of “what’s behind the book – a sort of backstage pass”, if you will. There may be some new to the site and it’s always good to get to know each other. For now, this is the best way I know. So let’s take a peek behind the scenes of Cadeyrn’s Tale.

Cadeyrn’s Tale was published in December of 2019, and is the story of a young shepherd turned king. The story developed after listening to a song where singer David Byron voices these words –

Just a man in my prime
Love was there but I had no time
I was cheered and adored
And I thought fame was all the world . . .
. . . Love or war I could not choose
And so both I had to lose

That was the secular influence, but as a Christian author, I also expanded on some of King David’s successes and failures in the person of Cadeyrn, intertwining biblical themes. My purpose of writing the story was to explore how easily innocence can be lost, and the heavy price tag that accompanies that loss. I suppose that in one way or another, we’ve all been there.

The last name Kovacic speaks nothing of Ireland, but I’ve always had a fascination with the country, especially its link to the Druids. What could make a better setting than 5th-century Ireland? The beauty of The Emerald Isle brought together with the blood-thirsty tribes warring for dominance seemed to be an intriguing thought to me. The natural beauty of the moors drenched in the blood of war changed the landscape drastically. The blood of war changed the landscape of Cadeyrn’s mind – forever.

I couldn’t get the character of Cadeyrn out of my mind. He traveled with me everywhere I went. Maybe because he was a lot like me. In the end, It’s so easy to trade a pearl of great price for a husk of corn from a pig’s trough. Sometimes, it seems 5th-century Ireland isn’t so far removed from 21st-century living.

If you’re interested, you can order the book on Amazon or on the Books and Resources page. Shipping is always free when ordering directly from me.

Hey, that does it for this Wednesday. Have a great week, and I’ll see you in a week!


The Not-so-fun Part of Writing

Well, Pennsylvania is in the yearly time of hot August nights and hotter August days. It’s a good time for swimming. It’s a good time for writing, too. Just make sure the air conditioner is running on high. Writing is the fun part. Other parts may not be as interesting – like editing.

But we must do it. Here are some thoughts about self-editing to get you through these humid days.

1. Learn to be ruthless.

If you are using a professional editor, that’s easy. Take his advice. Don’t question it. Just do it. He knows better than you. If you’re self-editing, learn to be ruthless. Criticize everything and fix what needs fixed.

2. Avoid a long story introduction.

You may get 30 seconds of an agent’s or publisher’s time. Make it count! Don’t keep us waiting. Hit us right from the beginning.

3. Choose the simple over the complicated.

There’s no need to try to impress. It doesn’t work anyway. Unless you live on Vain Avenue, there’s no purpose to show off your extraordinary vocabulary. Keep it clear. Keep it simple or you’ll lose your readers. Is showing off worth the risk?

4. Get rid of needless words.

My guess is we often add unnecessary words to the story or piece. Get rid of the excess.

5. Eliminate subtle repetitions.

Jerry Jenkins lists the following examples in his article How to Edit a Book.

“’She nodded her head in agreement.’ We could delete the last four words. What else would she nod but her head? And when she nods, we need not be told she’s in agreement.

‘He clapped his hands.’ What else would he clap?

‘She shrugged her shoulders.’ What else?

‘He blinked his eyes.’ Same question.

‘They heard the sound of a train whistle.’ The sound of could be deleted.”

6. Stay away from the words up and down…

…unless they’re really needed. “He fixed [up] the car.” “They went [down] to the store.” Less is always better, especially when it’s not needed.

7. Don’t overuse the word that.

This is one of my pet peeves. I hate the overuse of that – probably because I have a tendency to overuse it. Most of the time it just doesn’t belong.

“He believed [that] his friend was lying.”

”Was it possible [that] he could escape?” Get the point?

Okay, maybe we’ll look at some more next week. Until then, no matter what the weather, write on! See you in seven!


The Sounds of Silence

Have you ever noticed, some things are better left unsaid. Our words can have a healing effect or a damning effect. We read about it in the book of James, chapter three. At times, we would do well to listen more and speak less.

But how do you write? Often. we just spew words onto the paper, not considering the result. We have a story to tell, so we tell it using any choice of words we determine. We both know that’s not creative writing. When we write creatively every word matters. The way we frame our words becomes the reason for writing.

That’s where silence comes in. Stop spewing and relax. Take a deep breath and listen. Turn off the phone. Shut off the TV and stereo. Just listen. Listen to the sounds of silence. Let your mind shift gears for a few minutes. Allow your thoughts to take you where they take you.

Be silent and observe. Observe people. Observe situations. Observe relationships. There is so much to learn in life – to learn about life. Be still and take it all in. Notice the hummingbird by the window or the morning dove cooing from its nest. Pay attention to the azure blue sky and white puffs of clouds as they drift by. Listen carefully to the sound of a sleepy stream as it trickles down its mountain path.

We writers are passionate about we do. We are so passionate that there are times we must slow down and dwell in silence, if only for a moment. Learning to write isn’t always about the newest webinars or the latest courses. Sometimes it’s just about being quiet and listening – to the sounds of silence.

See you next week.


The Name Game

I hope you’re enjoying this week’s Wednesday. This week’s Wednesday only happens once, so milk it for all it’s worth. August is just a couple days away. There is only one August 2020. Make it count!

Have you ever thought, do character names matter? The answer is absolutely. How much time do you give to considering the names of your characters? It may be one important step you overlook. Here are some ideas from my course, What a Character! You can get more information on the Books and Resources page. I’ve discounted all courses. Now, let’s create your character’s name.

1. Check root meanings. Use hidden meanings in your names.

In my book, Cadeyrn’s Tale, Cadeyrn is a battle king. Guess what the name Cadeyrn means? Yep, Battle King.

In The Voice, I named the Protagonist Peter. Peter means a stone – something stable, something solid. Peter became the stabilizing force of the story. He remained solid throughout the turmoil that surrounded his life.

2. Choose names that agree with the time period and location of your story.

I might have named Cadeyrn Mason or Joe. I could have named him Abraham or Asher. I set the story in 5th-century Ireland. A 21st-century name wouldn’t work. Neither would a 4,000-year-old Jewish name. It had to be 5th-century Ireland. You might find help at

3. Speak the names out loud

Your novel might become an audiobook or an e-book with text-to-speech enabled. Consider the Name, Adam Messina. It may be fine on paper but could be confusing when spoken – Adam Essina? Adah Messina?

4. Don’t muddle the cast.

It’s a good idea to avoid using the character’s first initial with multiple characters. Also, try to vary the number of syllables in the names. Think Winch-Hunt’s Tom Winch, Mrs. Camp, Ronald Berry.

5. Use alliterative initials.

If you want a character to stand out, maybe alliteration is the answer. Think of Margie McClanahan in The Voice. Or Commander Colbo in Pinpoint Analysis. Don’t overuse it, but it can add a nice touch.

Okay. Let’s get on with our Wednesday. See you in a week!


Are You a Busy Beaver or an Eager Beaver?

Welcome to my world. Every minute of every hour is booked today. I’m already wondering how I’ll get it all done. The truth is, it won’t all be done. Busyness is good unless it becomes overly busy, and I’m hitting the threshold.

Busyness calls for prioritizing. First things first. Second things second. Your priorities differ from mine, so we each need to devise an individual plan that works for us. The point is to make a plan – then do it. Sometimes when we get overwhelmed as writers, we just do nothing. I hope that’s not the case with you. Sometimes we can become eager beavers, wanting to accomplish rather than being busy beavers and actually doing.

Let’s face it. To do nothing can lead to discouragement and a feeling of defeat. No matter how hard it may be, if we do what we know to do, we will feel better.

Have you heard the saying, “Likes beget likes.” Two cats won’t produce a dog, but they will create something like themselves – another cat. Guess what! Left to itself, procrastination begets more procrastination. It takes an intentional effort on our part to break the cycle.

But know also, activity begets activity. Once you get the ball rolling, it’s much easier to keep it rolling. So on this Wednesday, get your ball rolling. Be a busy beaver but not an exhausted beaver. Have an incredible week and I’ll see you next Wednesday.


Rules – Rules – Rules # 2

Does anyone care about the Pennsylvania weather? Does it really matter what I have planned for the day? Nope. So how’s your weather? What’s your day look like? I’d like to hear about it?

That being said, let’s get on with it. My friend, Lori, suggested we continue to peek (see rule # 7) at some grammar rules – and so we shall. Here are seven more for you to think about.

  1. What is the difference between everyday and every day? Use everyday as an adjective and every day to mean each day.
  2. Fables/Parables/Allegories – Both fables and parables are allegories, the difference being fables feature animals while parables use humans to make their point.
  3. Is it heroes or heros? It depends. Do you want to use the plural form of hero (heroes) or are you talking about a fish (hero)?
  4. What is correct – into or in to? Into is a preposition used to express movement toward or into something (The caterpillar turned into a butterfly). In to is just in followed by the word to (They moved in to the housed).
  5. Is it it’s or its? It’s is a contraction for it is. Its is either a possessive pronoun or an adjective. When you can’t replace it with it is, it usually is its. How’s that for a mouthful?
  6. Leaped/Leapt/Lept – Leaped and leapt (leapt is the UK spelling) are both accepted as past tense for leap. Lept – well, it doesn’t exist. It’s a misspelling of leapt. Simple enough.
  7. Should I use peek or peak or pique? Peek means to look at something. Peak represents the highest point as in a mountain peak. Pique means to stimulate. Depending on what you want to say will determine which one you use.

Let me know how you make out with these. Maybe we’ll look at some more at another time. Until next week . . .


Rules – Rules- Rules

The sun is slowly rising over Central Pennsylvania while the cover of night quietly fades. Another hot and humid day is on the way. But that’s okay. I hear people say, “It’s too hot.” I hear the same people on a winter’s day say, “It’s too cold.” Some folks always have something to complain about. All the complaining in the world won’t change most of what we complain about. As I said many times before, you only get one shot at this thing called life. Make it count. With that in mind, let’s get to it.

Life is filled with rules. Most of us don’t like rules. But in reality, most rules are set in place for our good, and the writing world is no exception. It’s probably safe to say in fiction writing you can get away with breaking rules. But even at that, we need to keep grammar rules in place. Let me give you seven things to think about and apply as you write.

  1. A lot, alot, or allot? “A lot” can be an adverb or a pronoun. “Allot” is a verb. “Alot” is usually a misspelling of “a lot” and there is no such word.
  2. All right or alright?. “All right” is used to replace the word “okay.” The word “alright” doesn’t exist. You can use it, but it has no meaning.
  3. Is it E-mail or email? Both the AP and Chicago style guides agree. Drop the hyphen. It’s definitely “email.”
  4. Ensure or insure? “Insure” refers to financial insurance policies and “ensure” means to make certain.
  5. Raise or rise.? Both mean the same thing, but a subject “raises” an object while something that “rises” does it on its own. 
  6. Let alone or leave alone? “Leave alone” means to leave a person alone by himself. On the other hand, “let alone” means to quit annoying a person.
  7. Might or may?. “May” and “might” mean the same thing, but “may” hints you’re more likely to do it, while “might” signals you’re less likely to follow through.

Okay (or is OK or O.K.? – all three are correct), that does it for this week. Have a great week and stay COVID Free.