Strong Writing Made Easier

This is all good advice for authors!

Very Sherry Terry

The War on Words

Every time I take part in a discussion about using certain words, or not using them, I always imagine at least one person having a moment.

house head exploding

The conversation turns into a heated debate between people who hear “never” and people who say “within moderation, not too much, sparingly.” The argument has left me filled with the conviction that even when used correctly, certain words can weaken the sentence if overused.

Weak Writing Isn’t Cool

A story filled with weak sentences, even when technically correct, make the words blur together into a boring tell-all with the style of a grocery list. Strong writing snares the reader and gives the story a chance to shine.


Sharon was walking down the street. The pain in her heart had been bad all day because she was a failure at marriage. She heard her heels clicking loudly on the sidewalk…

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New Marketing Ideas

Unfortunately writing a book is not the most difficult part of the business and as much as I hate to admit it, it is a business. Marketing is the hard part. Just because you write a book and post it to Amazon, it doesn’t mean people will flock out to buy it. I have a degree in marketing and I spent years in sales. Easy-peasy–right? Uh, no!

I have scads of ideas but not scads of money to carry them out. I can’t hire a high-powered publicist to get my name out there or a market research company to tell me where I need to focus. It’s all on me. I’ve hired author PAs in the past but been disappointed. Perhaps I expected too much or didn’t know what I should have expected. I have a new PA now and happy with her services but there is only so much she can do.

I’ve been looking into participating in book signings around the country. I want to focus on signings geared to Westerns and Western writers as those are what I’ve been turning out lately. There is a big event in Deadwood I hope to attend in 2019. I also love to sew and create period garb. I hope to create some costumes resembling clothes some of my characters wear to dress in during the signing events to garner attention. As I mentioned before–scads of ideas. This will also involve a good bit of time and money. The events I’ve found are not inexpensive and then there is travel and accommodations to think about. I will need to sell a lot of books to break even. It’s a lot to think about.

I’ve run several promotions with Bargain Booksy but they want me to drop the price of my book to .99 for the event which means I only make .35 on each book sold. Most categories cost about 40.00 to run but Romances run in the neighborhood of 80.00. I usually sell 40 to 50 e-books during these promotions which is great for getting my books out there but it’s not a big money maker. It’s a good thing I didn’t get into writing for the money!

I’ve been working on a new project called Forty Weeks about a young woman in Tennessee who is assaulted and then heads north on the Oregon Trail. I had to do quite a bit of research, which I enjoy and learned a lot about the Trail. I’m 45K words into it and winding down to the conclusion. I hope you will all check it out when it’s live on Amazon.

Keeping Busy!

I recently read James Scott Bell’s Super Structure and found it very helpful. I’ve always been a Panster and just wrote whatever came into my head rather than an Outliner who plotted every scene. Bell’s simple explanation of the 3 Act Structure really clicked with me. I mocked up my own chart and have been using it along with Dabble Writer to plot and write like crazy. I also read Bell’s book on writing Pulp Fiction. It was enlightening. The guys who cranked out those Noir stories in the Fifties wrote millions of words a year! I was inspired.

My first stab at the new plotting was Escape: Tansy Granger Book 1. I intend for this to be a series Tansy Granger coverand have other stories simmering. Tansy is a prostitute and as she travels from town to town, as the girls did back then, she will right injustices she sees being done to other women.

After Tansy, I jumped back to Black Bayou and wrote a story I’d been thinking about for a while. I had a werewolf in my first Black Bayou story and I’d been thinking for a while about adding a vampire. I did just that in Bad Moon Rising.Bad Moon Rising cover As soon as that went live on Amazon, I returned to another Western Romance I’d been toying with called Dolly.Dolly_Cover_for_Kindle.jpg Dolly Stroud is sold to a brothel owner by her brother when the man buys up all the brother’s debt. Trace Anderson, Dolly’s next door neighbor, sets out to rescue her, but can he forget what he saw. Dolly is live on Amazon as well.

I’m currently working on what I hope to turn into a new series I’m calling The Barn-wood Builders Mysteries. A sister and brother have a business together they started in their father’s garage. They tear down old buildings and salvage the lumber to build furniture and crafts. The sister, however, is a Medium and can see ghosts. When she comes across ghosts in the buildings they are tearing down, she sees it as her calling to help them. She must solve their mysteries and find them justice so they can cross into the next plain and find peace.

I’m having fun with it and hope to have it on the market soon. I’ve been very busy and very productive. Thank you Mr. Bell!

Until the next time:  Write On!

Insufferable Self-Promotion

The writing is not the difficult part about being an author. It’s the marketing. Unlike in The Field of Dreams, If you Build it They’ll Come, just because I’ve written it doesn’t mean people will rush to Amazon, buy, read, and review. It’s a never-ending struggle.

Needless to say, the blog today will be my groveling. No, not really. I just wanted to let everyone know that my new release Bad Moon Rising along with the other Black Bayou Witch  Bad Moon Rising cover  Tales have been marked down to .99 in Kindle Books on for the month of August. You can get The Legend of the Swamp Witch as well.untitled She was my first foray into publishing and the beginning of my Black Bayou idea. After her came Moon of the Witch,, inspired by a werewolf tale I read in grade school called Moon of the Wolf. The red cover is my self-published version. The other was JK Publishings version. It is not priced at .99.moon on orange skyThe next tale is The Man in Black and was a continuation of The Legend of the Swamp Witch. Her curse has been lifted and Silas, one of her cursed victims is free to walk the Earth again.Man in Black cover The next installment I wrote last year for NaNoWriMo. National Novel Writing Month when authors are challenged to write fifty-thousand words in thirty days. Haunted Delphi tells the story of the raising and final destruction of Rubidoux Island in the center of Black Bayou.Haunted DelphiThey are all on sale this month for.99 I hope you’ll all check them out.

I woke up yesterday with an idea. It happens that way sometimes. I made coffee, opened my laptop, and immediately plotted out the first story in my Barnwood Builders Mysteries. I look forward to telling you all about it in the near future.


Until then, Write On!


Where Do the Ideas Come From?

When I tell people I write books, one of the first questions I get is ‘Where do you get your ideas?’. I usually answer with ‘They always say to write what you know.’ People who’ve read some of my books may screw up their faces in confusion or outright surprise. Most of my books are set in the Nineteenth Century and deal with Prostitution. Others are set in a Louisiana bayou with witches and ghosts. What would I know about any of that?

I think all writers put a bit of who they are into every book they write. Their main characters usually are reflections of them in some way and their antagonists reflect people in their lives who have done them harm or antagonized them in some way.

My main characters are always women. Duh … I’m a woman. I have male hero counterparts, of course and do my best to try and write from a man’s point of view. Luckily I have a husband, who is a man, to read my rough drafts and give me pointers, such as, No man would do that. or What kind of man would put up with that crap?. It helps and I always thank him in my Acknowledgements.

I grew up on a small farm and gardened, canned the produce, milked a cow, and made butter. There tends to be a lot of that referenced in my books set in the Old West. I like to cook, so I have my gals cooking a lot, though I’ve never cooked on a cast iron, wood burning cookstove. Some things must come from the imagination!

I started making my own clothes when I was quite young. My mom had an old Singer and taught me. It was a 1960s Singer that ran on electricity. As an adult I studied Historic Costume and I’ve always loved the lavish frill of the Nineteenth Century. My female characters had to sew and I tend to go into a good bit of detail about their clothing. It’s something I know.

One of the reviews I received for Escape: Tansy Granger Book 1Tansy Granger cover said it was depraved. It is and I meant it to be. Unfortunately, sex trafficking of young women isn’t anything new. We see news stories about young women and girls being kidnapped and taken to truck stops where they are forced to prostitute themselves or face beatings–or worse. This is nothing new! In the Old West there were Cat Wagons that traveled from one military encampment to another. Those wagons were filled with young women chained naked and forced to prostitute themselves. It was the lowest form of the business. Old prostitutes who no longer attracted business in brothels ended up on the wagons of their own accord, but the young women and girls there were usually stolen along the way somewhere or sold to the wagon owner by a relative who no longer wanted the responsibility of a useless girl. I write about it because it isn’t something new and shouldn’t be forgotten.

Men have had unusual sexual desires since the beginning of man and there have always been enterprising individuals out there who found a way to profit from it. In my Work In Progress, I reference places in the Old West where wealthy men could go to watch or participate in the beating, rape, and even murder of a woman on stage. This stuff isn’t just for Criminal Minds of today. The Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries aren’t the only producers of serial killer, serial rapists, and serial abusers of women.

So, you see, there is plenty of fodder out there for an author to find ideas. We read and watch television. The seed for my Soiled Doves Sagascrown-queens-cover came from watching a documentary on the History Channel about prostitutes in the gold fields as well as the HBO series Deadwood. Then I did a lot of research on the subject. Did you know there’s a website that lists 19th Century slang? You can find almost anything with Google!

Some ideas spring from dreams. The basic idea for Dreams of MollyDreams of Molly cover came from a disturbing dream I had and wrote about while a senior in high school. My literature teacher told me to never forget that dream because it would make a good book some day. I didn’t and it did. I woke one morning last winter with the idea for my novella Tale for a Long Winter’s Night, got out of bed, typed up the basic plot, and wrote the story in a few days.

Ideas come from everywhere, so Until the Next Time: Write On!

Writing On!

Bad Moon Rising coverBad Moon Rising is now live on Amazon.

Fiona DuBois was born into Black Bayou’s witch family, but was never allowed to be trained to use her power. Her father, a bastard by a Rubidoux, hated everything about the witch families and made Fiona’s life hell, forcing her to endure a brutal Catholic education by nuns who knew her parentage and were bound to beat it out of her.

Fiona is a grown woman now and the owner of a small bookstore and coffee shop, popular in the small bayou community of St. Elizabeth, Louisiana. One evening a man visits her store. He’s none other than world-famous Gothic Horror author Marcus Lourdes. By the end of the evening, Fiona finds herself and her shop embroiled in the author’s life when he offers to hold a book signing there.

Her free and easy life becomes even more complicated when Fiona hires her fourteen-year-old niece to work for her during her summer break. Melanie wants to head the DuBois coven someday and takes it upon herself to train her Aunt Fiona in the ways of Magic.

One of the DuBois gifts is the ability to see and speak with the dead. Fiona’s young cousin Kelly has that gift in spades and has turned it into a profitable gift with her paranormal investigations television show, Southern Sightings.  When the author is killed in a drunk driving accident, the DuBois women must put their heads together to keep Fiona’s bookstore afloat and unravel the puzzle of Marcus Lourdes.

I hope you will all go to Amazon and pick up a copy of Bad Moon Rising!

For the time being, I’ve set aside the contemporary Louisiana swamps and returned to the Old West. I’m working on a steamy Western Romance now set in northern Arizona. The Working Title is Dolly, but that may change. I’m almost 50% into it and my hero and heroine are about to have their big blow up and separate to put the pieces back together and find their HEA.

My Doc File is full of story ideas and I really want to play with some other genres. I recently plotted a haunted plantation house thing with the ghosts of murderous  slaves prowling in the night and slave owners popping up. It could be fun. I’m letting it simmer, but think it might be a good Halloween release!

The reviews of EscapeTansy Granger cover have been mixed. One person left a One Star review, saying the graphic sex was depraved (which I meant it to be), while the other Four and Five Star reviews called the story realistic and engaging (which I was happy to hear). I have another Tansy Granger story plotted and will get back to her very soon. I can’t leave her in Abilene for more than one cattle season. I don’t think the town could handle her for much more than that.

Until next time, Write On!


Back to the Blog!

OK, I know I’m a horrible blogger! It’s been 6 months since my last post. Should I treat the blog like Confession? At least once a week? Monday, Wednesday, and Friday? Everyday? Ugghh!

What have I been doing with my writing for the past 6 months? I wrote and published a western. I called it Escape: Book 1 of the Tansy Granger Series. Escape is now .99 on Amazon. com. I hope you’ll check it out.

Tansy Granger coverThe story is set in Champaign, Illinois in 1870. Linda Granger Martin has dreamed of becoming a school teacher all her life and has studied hard to accomplish it. On the verge of going to Springfield to take the Teacher’s Examination, everything changes. Her father has set a bride-price for her hand and someone has met that price–Adam Trent. Trent is three times Linda’s age and has only one stipulation in the marriage contract. Linda must be a virgin! She sees only one way out of the unwanted marriage and when she does the unthinkable, she finds herself in a whole new world.

As you can see, this is the first in a series. I recently read James Scott Bell’s book Writing Pulp Fiction and was inspired. The Tansy Granger series will see her moving through tough western towns, righting injustices toward women as she goes. I think it will be fun!

I picked up Bell’s Super Structure as well to assist me with plotting. I have a computer filled with stories I started, got a few thousand words in, and found myself stuck. Where did I go with it next? Mr. Bell takes the Three act structure and breaks it down into very simple steps. I used his structure with the writing software, Dabble, and wrote Escape in only a few days of steady writing!

I also read Susan May Warren’s book How to Write a Brilliant Romance. I adapted her suggestions for plot points into Bell’s three act structure and, using Dabble have plotted a Romance. Ms. Warren writes Clean, Sweet Romance. As any of you, who have read my stuff know, that’s not how it would be characterized. I plan to have fun with it.

Thrilled with this new-found plotting method, I took one of the stories I started some time ago, plotted it out in Dabble and wrote almost fifty thousand words in a week. I’m letting it simmer before I begin my first round of edits. It’s one of my Black Bayou Witch stories and references events and characters from The Legend of the Swamp Witch, Moon of the Witch, The Man in Black, and Haunted Delphi. I’ll be marking all of those down to .99 when I release Bad Moon Rising and will let you all know when that is.

Until then: Write On!

Getting Going Again!

Before the death of my beautiful daughter and fellow author, Tiffany M. Rock last month, I had been working on a Fantasy I called Vermaland. The story is about some gypsy-like people who are caravanning across their Kingdom in wagons in search of a valley promised to them in a prophecy. There is magic and elves. There is also a smattering of sex and violence. It wouldn’t be mine if there wasn’t.

I actually started this story a couple of years ago ( I have the attention span of a kitten with a ball of string) and it had been simmering in my document file while I jumped around to other projects. I picked it up again last summer, but set it aside when my daughter was diagnosed as terminal and we began the months of hospital visits and disappointing news from oncologists ( I shredded one–an oncologist–in a wood chipper in a story I started in October and may get back to it later in the year).

One of the things Tiffany begged of me was not to give up on my writing in my grief, so after that horrible day on December 17, I opened my computer and got back to work, editing the first draft of Vermaland and doing the cover. I published on December 31.Vermaland coverVermaland can be found in paperback or e-book on I hope you will give it a read. It’s my longest so far at 614 5×8 pages and 103K words.

I really enjoyed writing this story. It took me back to my twenty years of reading almost only Sword and Sorcery Fantasy. The reviews I’ve received from my beta readers have been good and I’ve outlined and begun writing Book 2! I’m 10 chapters and 25K words in already on my first draft.

I signed up with and have really enjoyed their service. I can outline, plan scenes, organize my plot grid, and write my chapters. I can then export it all to Word to format for printing. Dabble is easy to use and fun. You should all check it out!

My 2017 plan was to publish 6 novels, but I only managed 3 full length novels and a novella. I’m back on track for 6 in 2018. I enjoyed the online Creative Writing class I took through Wesleyan University and hope to publish the Capstone Project as a novella. It is set between books 2 and 3 of my Soiled Dove Sagas and features Roxie’s return to Dodge City after Willard dumps her in the hospital in Colorado Springs. I titled it The Return of the Queen. Wish me luck! I hope you all have a very productive 2018.

Until the next time, Write On!

I just signed up with It is a crowdfunding thing set up for artists. Back in the day, artists had to find patrons to fund their art. This is based on that historic concept. I will be offering short stories set in either the Old West or my Black Bayou settings each week for my patrons to enjoy.

There are also rewards for each tier of patronage. For 1.00 per story I am offering my patron a short story set in their choice of Old West or Black Bayou setting with them as the main character. For a 5.00 patronage, I am offering a Novella set in their choice of Old West or Black Bayou settings with them as the main character. It will be bound with a cover, signed by me, and mailed to them. For a 10.00 patronage, I will send them a signed copy of any of my published novels.

I’m not a famous author, so I’m not expecting any 10.00 patrons, but some 1.00 patrons would be cool! They’d be investing 4.00 per month and get some great entertainment. They would also get to be the hero or heroine of their own story. This is all new to me, so I may need to adjust my numbers.

If any of you are interested in helping to patronize a struggling artist, hit me up at I’d really appreciate it! I thank you in advance for your patronage and support!

Return A Book To Kindle?

I recently ran some promos and when I checked my sales on Kindle, I was surprised to see a book had been returned. It was a 2.99 book. Do people really do that? I can’t imagine it is easy.

What’s more, I went to the book’s page to look for a horrible review, but there wasn’t one. Why? If you thought the book was bad enough to return it and get your money back, then tell me why. There must have been a reason you bought it to begin with. How did it not meet your expectations? Was it poorly written? Was it poorly edited? Did you find the subject matter offensive? Why would you return a 2.99 e-book?

The book in question is Sweet RewardsSweet Rewards cover and I can understand how it might have offended some readers in our overly politically correct age. The story takes place in southern Louisiana just after the Civil War and I use the ‘N’ word liberally in dialogue. It was a very heated time in our national history and white folks weren’t very nice to their newly-freed black brothers and sisters. I write Historical Fiction, not fictitious history. A story set in 1874 Louisiana is going to see some offensive references to blacks.

There is also some graphic sex and violence. There is also some graphic violent sex. The book comes with an 18+ warning. That generally implies graphic sex. My characters find romance with one another, though it may come about in an unusual way. My hero is a pompous ass, but comes around in the end and they find their Happily Ever After. It is by no means a sweet, clean romance. They were not sweet, clean times.

It just surprised me that a person would buy a book and then return it without leaving a review–not even a simple ‘Don’t waste your money.’ I’ve left those reviews, but always went on to explain why and I’d never ask for my money back no matter how much I disliked the book.