2nd Story “A Cup of Tea” Published as Guest Blog

Once again, the good folks at Stories from the Soul have considered one of my short stories worthy of appearing on their site! Always a nice feeling. My short story A Cup of Tea was published on Thursday 10 March 2023. Here’s the opening paragraph. Hope you enjoy it and have a few moments to read the rest of the story.

Nothing is more hospitable in the world, or so my travels have taught me, than a cup of tea with a congenial host. That little gesture, seen in British television and movies, is best experienced in real life. I had such an occasion – so comforting at a time when I had needed it – that it has stayed in my memory for three decades now. Read rest of story here.

Read more about the site here:

Stories from the Soul Blog - Stories by Women, for Women

Time for me to get back to work goes on with the Freelan Series and other WIPs.

Best wishes to you all on your endeavors!


Using Your Personal Experiences

You broke up with your boyfriend/girlfriend, got divorced, were diagnosed with a terrible disease, won first prize in a contest, were fired from a job, and so on. Well, guess what? You have a great item to use in your next short story, novella, or even as part of a novel.

Don’t waste those personal experiences. And don’t spew them out on social media as if they were a symptom of your stomach flu or a bit of rotten food that your body was rejecting. All you do by such actions is portray not only your lack of professionalism but a need for hearing people say, “You poor thing!” (See my article Let Your Social Media Reflect You.) Remember that potential readers as well as literary agents and publishers will see that mess, not just your followers.

Worst of all, you are wasting content.

These personal experiences can be nuggets of gold. You may have to spin them a bit differently, though, for your work of fiction.

Example of What Not to Do

An author who seems to sell well recently posted a long rant on Twitter about being fired from her position teaching creative writing at a university. She relayed a story that was full of bitterness and that could have been told in one tweet. She used nineteen instead. Based on her rant, I have a vision of her books as long-winded, full of that bitterness, and a cry for the pity and sympathy of others. She also seems to think that because her books sell well enough for her to write full-time, that they have literary merit and that the man who fired her should feel really sorry about doing that now. It reeked of childishness and a big “Nyah – nyah!”

Example of What to Do

Think of what a great short story this would have made, one that could have been filled with hope. Something like this:

Years ago, I was a lecturer at a university. The world was my oyster, or so I thought. Eager young things hung on my every word and thanked me at the end of the semester. All the while, I wrote, and had in fact completed my second novel. The first one was published and had a modicum of success. Some of my students had read it and had found it a good example for their own work. This second novel built upon the first, and my editor had said it would sell even better.

This made the phone call from the Dean of the College an even bigger surprise than it would have been.

“Hi, Helen, got a minute?” he had asked.

“Sure, what’s up?” I had replied, but my stomach was suddenly in a knot.

“We’re letting you go.”

“Oh? What’ve I done?”


“Any complaints about me? Someone offended by something I said?”

“No, I said. There’s nothing.”

“There has to be something, or did you just pick my name out of a hat or flip a coin?” I asked, trying not to be snarky but unable to stop myself.

“No need to be like that. Finish the semester and move on.”

“There has to be something!”

The Dean hung up.

I fumed and then sat and cried. And then I stopped crying, dried my eyes, and said, “Screw him!”

The next day I heard that he had told one of the other lecturers that my novel hadn’t sold “big enough.”

“Don’t worry about it, Helen,” she said to me. “He’s a literary snob. He thinks the ideas aren’t big enough – you know, like Victor Hugo or something – and you didn’t get any literary awards.”

I smiled and thanked her. From that moment on, I saw this change as an opportunity, one of which I would make the most use. And I have.

Over the years, I continued my writing, focusing on stories that pleased me. Leaving the stuffy world of academia had turned out to be a very positive influence. I now make my living off of those “not big enough” novels. A literary critic recently said that I was the modern Danielle Steele but not nearly as good. I just laughed and counted my royalties again. After all, that’s what matters, isn’t it? And that critic could say whatever he wanted. People bought my books.

Time to get back to writing my next novel.

Now, doesn’t that sound better than a putrid rant on social media?

Bottom Line

I try to be encouraging both on my site in these articles and on social media along with promoting my work and interacting with others in a mostly positive way. I’m hoping it will set an example for others. Obviously, she didn’t get the message, but hopefully you do. Use those experiences in a positive way. They could be the stuff of bestsellers.

Hope you found this helpful and have been inspired to start and/or continue writing!

Please check out my works in progress (WIPs). And thanks for reading.

Excerpt from Hammil Valley Rising Intro

I had posted this excerpt on social media but wanted to put it here, too. This shows the first sight of a main character who transitions from an antagonist to a protagonist. (I post excerpts as images to counter content scrapers out there used by unscrupulous people to grab site content.) Your thoughts on this or other items on my site are always welcome.

See more about Hammil Valley Rising, book 1 of the Freelan series.

Thanks and best wishes for your writing or other endeavors.

Publisher & Agent Fiction Genres Defined

Genre can decide the fate of your work of fiction (short story, novella, novel, poetry), so paying a bit of attention to what it is and how publishers and agents see it will help you gain their attention. (Agents generally go by what publishers want, so that is the focus of this list.)

This PDF file took about a week to prepare and is being presented free. You can print a copy for yourself, but please don’t mass print it without my express permission. Copying text has been turned off.

Writing Tip Publisher Agent Fiction Genres Defined

And bear in mind that this information is currently accurate but could change fairly quickly.

Hope you found this helpful and have been inspired to start writing!

Please check out my WIPs. And thanks for reading.

Disclaimer: I get no compensation for links to other sites and/or products.

Great News for Conservative Authors & Readers

As if things weren’t tough enough for us authors (I saw a post the other day that an author had gotten a rejection from the 256th literary agent she’s contacted within minutes of submitting to that agent), the political atmosphere has frozen out any of us who don’t write on a certain list of topics.

Our voices are sounding coarse and ill-mannered in their ears – downright deplorable! We have men who love women, women who love men, men who know they’re men, women who know they’re women, characters who carry guns and know how to use them, and more. Love of country is not considered a crime. And making a profit is applauded. Sure, we can self-publish, but we still need to get our books in front of readers who will want them.

Enter on the scene a new site dedicated to listing our literary achievements, serving as one-stop-shopping for your readers craving conservative fiction. And the site is aptly named:


Who’s Behind the Site

The site concept, in the design stages now, is the brainchild of Jamie K. Wilson, owner and editor of Conservatarian Press, which replaced the now defunct Liberty Island Press.

See more about Jamie here.

Interview with Tiffani Jones on Rumble

What the Site Will Be

In short, a searchable hub connecting authors and readers.

The site exists now but is just a holding place. It will be developed into a database where authors will be able to create an account and enter book information to give readers all the information they need to find the books in which they would be interested. Authors will also be able to post inexpensive advertisements or find industry professionals (artists, editors, etc.) who can help them create their next masterpieces.

Why the Site Is Needed

Big publishers have deals with booksellers to place their booked in prominent positions. They own most of the text space in publications like Publishers Weekly or the New York Time Review of books. Thousands of online outlets promote their books. Not yours.

How You Can Help

Make a donation. Jamie has a fundraiser on GiveSendGo. Her monetary goal is modest, and she’s over halfway there. You can submit a contribution or you can contact her at her website about sending a check (which is what I did recently).

Spread the word. Share this article or at least the link to the fundraiser on your social media accounts, blog, and website, and tell your friends.

Thanks for reading!

Disclaimer: I get no compensation for this post. I pass along this information for your benefit.