Quick Tips To Help You Tighten Up Your Writing | Catherine, Caffeinated


This is a reblog I thought I would share with you writers out there. It never hurts to be reminded too many times on how to cut the fat out of our writing. Catherine Ryan Howard has shared these tips from author C.S. Lakin.



Quick Tips To Help You Tighten Up Your Writing | Catherine, Caffeinated.

I hope you enjoy these tips. I find it handy to be reminded of these tips to keep me from falling into the same pitfalls repeatedly. As writers we don’t often notice these little oversights unless we have our ‘editing’ eyes finely tuned in.


blog tag


Hello readers! I am excited to share that I was invited to participate in  a blog chain. I was invited by a fellow author friend Alana Munro. Alana has kindly tagged me and my book Conflicted Hearts. She is the best selling author of Women Behaving Badly. A book I thoroughly enjoyed reading about the misbehaviors of women and their petty jealousies.

women behaving



Have you ever been hurt by a woman? Are you fed up with the constant bitching,
gossiping and manipulation between the females in your life? Do you want happier
and healthier relationships with females? Do you wish to weed out the toxic
women and seek out only positive women?

If you have ever wondered why
some women are complicated creatures this book will offer you straight talking
answers. This book will highlight all the strange, controlling and spiteful
behaviours that some females specialise in. This book attempts to understand
what actually drives women to be cruel or bitchy to each other. It attempts to
make sense of the huge expectations women place on each other. How can we avoid
toxic women? What bad behaviours should we be looking out for? This book
explores every cruel behaviour possible and attempts to understand what is
really going on between the females in our life.

Congrats on your book’s success Alana and thanks for sharing my work.

Now as part of this blog, I am to answer four questions:

1.  What are you currently working on?

I have just finished writing the first draft for my next book, a humorous take on my menopausal experience. I am also working on an anthology of short essays on things that girls love which encompasses vanity and our love for accessories. I am also in the beginning stages of writing a sequel to my first book, Conflicted Hearts. My plate is full!

2. How does your work differ from other’s in same genre?

I am a nonfiction writer and all my writing comes from my own life experiences. My first book was a memoir based on my dysfunctional childhood and narcissistic mother and my journey into the world alone to discover life on my own. I suppose there are many memoirs written but each individual has their own journey to share and the lessons that come with it.

3. Why do you write what you do?

I have always written about my feelings on life and my experiences and kept a journal for years on such. By writing I get to express my true feelings and at the same time it is so freeing to get the words out of my head and onto paper. I have found through the years that people are interested in what I have to say so I decided to take my writing more seriously and share my thoughts with the world.

4. How does your writing process work?

I write in long-hand. Some may call this ‘old school’ but I cannot sit in front of a keyboard and create. My mind is always thinking and I have several notebooks which I write in pertaining to different subjects and for the books I am currently writing. I do an outline of chapters I’d like to write about for each book and then I discipline myself to just sit down and write. Sometimes the course I have laid out for myself gets sidetracked and ideas begin to take on another path other than the one I had planned but that is all part of the writing process. Only when I have completed first draft do I begin to enter it into the computer and then that is where all my revisions take place. Although I do print out several copies along the way because I find it so much easier to read and revise off paper.

Now that I have shared some insights into my writing, I am going to introduce you to three other authors that I am tagging.

*Please note, if you have been tagged, please answer the above questions and introduce your followers to the person who has tagged you plus you must tag three other authors who you choose to have their work recognized.

I would like to introduce author JM Bushnell. Her debut book is Manual Exposure.

manual exp


Sage Brant, a photography student focused on her career and love of nature, is drawn into the world and arms of Kirby Chapman, son of the local real estate magnate who values money and possessions above all else.
Sage, unwilling to become a powerful man’s puppet, forces Kirby to see beyond the vision of the world he’s inherited. Sage exposes the truth that threatens to tear them apart and challenges Kirby to step out of his father’s shadow.
Will Kirby sacrifice it all to prove his love is as enduring as the mountains that surround them in Asheville, North Carolina?
Manual Exposure is a New Adult Romance.
Also introducing author Adam Henig and his debut book on the life of author Alex Haley.
alex haley
In 1977, when the New York Times declared that the television mini-series Roots was the “most significant civil rights event since the Selma-to-Montgomery march of 1965,” its author, Alex Haley became America’s newest “folk hero. ”
His book was on the Times’ Best Seller’s list for months, and won the Pulitzer Prize. His story had captivated a nation and then the world. From Idaho to Israel, it seemed everyone was caught-up in “Rootsmania.”
Alex Haley was on his way to becoming the most successful author in the history of publishing. That’s when his troubles began.
Within a decade and a half following the publication of Roots, Haley managed to alienate most of his fellow writers and at the same time squander most of his wealth.  When he died at the age of 70, his estate was auctioned off and his iconic book went out of print.
What happened?
Based on interviews of Haley’s contemporaries, personal correspondence, legal documents, newspaper accounts, Adam Henig investigates the unraveling of one of America’s most successful yet enigmatic authors.

And last but not least I would like to introduce Stephanie Lahart, author of Overcoming Life’s Obstacles. The first of her two books.
Personal transformation is what you will experience as your read through
thought-provoking passages that will impact and change your life. This self-help
guide will take you on a journey of emotions. This book is meant to empower you
in all areas of your life. The author specifically targets and discusses
important issues that affect people’s everyday lives.You will be
intrigued as you read passages such as: I Made It, No Longer, Until You Get
Enough, I’m Staying for the Kids, Give Me a Chance, Never Felt Love, and SO much
more!Overcoming Life’s Obstacles is as real as it gets. This book was
written for people who TRULY want a change in their lives. The author doesn’t
sugar-coat anything, so if you’re not quite ready for personal-growth and you’re
not ready to face your truth, then this book may be difficult for you to digest.
Stephanie Lahart discusses topics that will encourage the reader to look at
“what is” and take the steps to heal, grow, and move forward.


About A Girl

maria 4


Some people are just special. They have a certain charm about them and a smile that can have an ability to light up any dark spot by anyone who encounters them. This person I am writing about is named Maria.

Maria is a girl I encountered on my last year cruise vacation. Every night as my husband and I walked up to the fifth floor dining room, there was Maria, happily mopping the marbled floors. Being that I am friendly with everyone and don’t judge others by their occupations and class in life, I always smile and say hello when passing people on the ship, whether it be fellow passengers or crew. Surprisingly I noticed that there were many who looked down on these staff members with menial jobs as if they were somehow better than them because they were lucky enough to be a passenger on this luxury liner. For me it is all about kindness and karma.

Every night I passed Maria in the hallway working diligently, I would say hello to her and acknowledge her by name as it appeared on her mandatory name tag. We engaged in little chats as the days passed and I commended her on her hard work and her shining personality. I remember thinking how happy she was to be mopping floors and when I asked her how long she had been with the cruiseline she had told me it was her first eight month contract and she was so grateful to have the job. Something about Maria had warmed my heart. She was a small girl with brown longish hair and she had a zest for life in her shining brown eyes and a smile to win anyone’s heart.

Before the cruise ended, I made sure to say good-bye to her and gave her a hug and told her I hoped to see her again next year.

On my recent cruise on the same ship, one night after dinner, I went to the ladies room on the fifth floor and the attendant in there looked vaguely familiar to me. As she greeted me by holding the door open, I smiled and said hello and within a moment, Maria said, “Hi beautiful lady from last year, remember me?” I blurted out “Maria?” with a huge grin. Then we hugged. What had caught me off-guard was that she had cut her long tresses into a pixie cut which she explained to me had to be done because the humidity was making her hair too much to handle while working on the ship.

I told Maria that I had filled out a guest comment card last year, letting guest relations know how cheerful and hardworking she was. These comments are taken very seriously by the cruise ships and thus they are very precious to cruise staff. The comments made can literally bump them up in position or send them home. Many employees come from Slavic countries, Indonesia, Philippines and many other places where it is hard to get a job. All the staff I had talked to seemed so grateful to have whatever job they had on the ship.

Maria is from Honduras. Every evening I went to that washroom just to visit Maria for a few minutes only as I didn’t want to interrupt her duties and get her in trouble. She had told me that she was happy she got bumped up to bathroom attendant and thanked me for my comments, as they were read back to her. I felt like I had a special bond with Maria and I wished that I could talk to her longer and find more out about her and it seemed that seeking her out at her post was the only way I could steal some time with her. When her duties are done she disappears to the ‘down below’ where the staff live and are not able to fraternize with the passengers. I detected that Maria was not only lovely but well-spoken and my curiosity got the best of me.

One day, a few days before my trip ended, I made it my business to find her in the morning while she was on short shift. I told her I came to say good-bye while it was early in the morning and the bathroom wasn’t too busy like at night near the dining room. I asked if I could take her picture (in the lounge, not the bathroom) and I spent a bit more time with her. She told me how much she wanted to work in hospitality and her goal was to work herself up to food and beverage. As the minutes passed, Maria continued to fill me in on her life as women entered the washroom in and out, all the while Maria opening the stall doors for them and handing them paper towels.

Maria told me SHE WAS A LAWYER. I just about flipped. I knew there was something more to that girl that met my eye. She told me her mother is a lawyer and her father is a doctor. She was going to be a doctor but she was too empathetic around sick and wounded people so she went to law school instead. Then she had a case where a husband was abusing his wife and Maria went out of her way to help the woman beyond the call of duty and later felt she couldn’t deal with the corruption going on with the system and decided she wanted to get away from everything and see the world. Quote from Maria, ” If my mother knew I was cleaning toilets she would have a fit.”

Maria had the courage to leave her position and boyfriend behind and start a new career where she could see the world and she didn’t flinch at the thought of starting from the bottom. Quite an admirable quality we don’t see much of in our North American world. I told Maria I’d love to write this post about her and asked her if she would mind if I did and also if I may use her picture. She was elated. I had also given her a copy of my book Conflicted Hearts one night and the next day when I saw her, she was quoting off parts of my book. She told me she got strength from my book to persevere through life’s bumps. I was touched beyond words.

I truly felt sadness leaving my Maria behind. We hugged and kissed and I told her I’d see her again next year and that she would be serving me a drink or working at the front desk after I got done filling out a comment sheet on her. Many women who came and went into that washroom had the same affection for that sweet girl and many said they would write good comments for her. I didn’t want to chance that to hear-say so I went right down to guest relations and asked for some paper and directed my letter to the hotel operations manager whom I had previously had a drink with. I wrote a lot about Maria and specifically noted that this girl was a waste of personality to be hidden away in a bathroom.

Keep on smiling Maria! Your time to shine is coming!

Valentine’s Day – From: Me….To: You

valentine heart


I remember when I was a child I used to love making Valentines cards for friends and loved ones and it was an even bigger thrill when I was taken to my local variety store and I was allowed to pick out a package of Valentine’s cards that I could write my personal messages on and give them to my school mates. These cards were packaged in sheets and there was an assortment to choose from with their various pictures and sayings. All of which had the traditional ‘To’ and ‘From’ pre-printed on the backs, leaving only the dotted lines to fill in who I chose to give them to.


I eagerly looked forward to carefully tearing them out of the pages along the perforated dots. I’d pile them in categories of who I was going to give them to in class – boys – girls – teachers. Then I’d happily begin writing the names of who each one was for. I never put ‘love’, always from.

As children, I don’t know if we see the real significance of Valentine’s Day, for me it was the fun of the arts and crafts of the holiday and the giving and receiving. But I also remember that if I had received fewer than I had given that it had somehow made me sad.

As I got older, the significance of the day sometimes made me sad. When I was single or newly broken up in a relationship, Valentine’s Day seemed to make those times more pronounced. A day which emphasized that I was alone. As I got older I began to realize the huge commercialization of this day. Yes, it was still lovely to give and receive cards but the over-hyped media of this day had begun to make some people feel like they were less worthy if they didn’t have a partner. I know that when I was a younger girl and dreamed of great romance, that I was caught up in the lust of desiring the romance that was supposed to be a part of the great day. Wasn’t every girl supposed to feel extra special and be wined and dined on this one day of love?

When I got married my husband always bought me a beautiful card and a present and flowers and took us out for dinner. After a few years had passed we noticed that we had to begin reserving a table well in advance, the price for dinner near doubled on that day and the food was never as good as it usually was. This became mostly due to busy kitchens, double seatings booked for dinners and many times the regular menus we initially chose the restaurants for, were altered into select menus giving us three or four choices only for that evening.

After a few years we decided that we would no longer go out on that night and do Valentine’s on the following Saturday night. Through the ensuing years, the presents diminished and as I had received so much throughout the year, I no longer felt that we had to spend money on something I didn’t need. I began my own routine of cooking a special dinner and a having a glass of wine with the meal, which we only normally indulge in when we have company.

cheers V day

I still get flowers and we never stopped exchanging cards. No matter how the times change it is never out-dated to give a few lovely words to your significant other or anyone else you may want to remind how special they are.

Wishing you all a lovely Valentine’s Day.


Words While At Sea

red hat

While I lazed in my lounge chair looking out onto the Caribbean Sea, I thought about all the writing I promised myself I’d keep up with but just couldn’t bring myself to focus on. The weather was very hot, we were with friends, old and new and their was always so much activity going on whether on or off the ship that there wasn’t any real time of solitude to collect my thoughts. The best I could do was keep a notebook in my bag while lounging at the pool to jot down any ideas that came to mind for my books and my blog. Thankfully I did manage to get some ideas down on paper, knowing I wouldn’t be able to fully elaborate on them until I returned home and once again disciplined myself to focus.

While I gazed at the repetitive waves and the music of the sea, I thought about the past year and how many hours a day I worked on my writing and publishing and I found myself spent, basking in the hot sun in a surreal world of rest and relaxation. The weather was too beautiful to sacrifice one selfish moment to do anything other than laze and socialize rather than to surrender to the discipline of working. My mind wandered back and forth from feeling guilty about not working to just taking in the simple pleasure of my environment.

more balcony

I watched the waiters in their floral, Hawaiian-like shirts humming happily as they served drinks and ice cold towels laden with ice chips to help combat the hot sun that we so willingly allowed to scorch our bodies. I couldn’t believe how many of us were sitting on this lovely Celebrity cruise ship sunbathing when most of us not so long ago, had come from minus forty degree temperatures. I was grateful for every blessed moment in my abyss of relaxation.

more ship view aruba

We travelled to eight islands: Aruba, Curacao, Saint Martin, St. Thomas, Saint Lucia, Grenada, Barbados and Antigua. We were with our good friends Gary and Lynn and my good friend Mary from New York who I had written about previously and her husband Joe. We have been on the same cruise for a few years now and many of the passengers take the same cruise every year as their winter vacation. There weren’t too many lapses without us laughing our heads off at something. It was true bliss and a wonderful escape from real life.

me mary lynn

I tried  also to catch up on some of my reading, thinking vacation would be opportune time for this, but wrong again.  It is hard to read when people are around you chatting and my usual good reading time at home is at night before going to sleep and I can certainly say that the sun and the sea drained me by 1030 pm. By the time I got in bed, I was out cold after reading one or two pages. A definite cure for insomnia. Surprisingly though, I did manage to read two books at the pool while my friend Lynn would have her naps.

We were up by 630 am or 7 every day. Between the laughs, the ports and the pina coladas, the days were busy.  Around 4pm a group of us congregated at the top back deck of the ship, ‘The Sunset Bar’, to socialize and make evening plans or watch the ship pull out of port.

drinks on deck

So although my intentions were good to get some work done, after being cooped up at home for so long for the past year and our long, cold winter, the trip somehow flicked a switch in me that just wouldn’t allow my brain to function when paradise was all around me. I found the minutes tick away as there was so much to do and my inner social butterfly became hugely activated.

As time flew by I literally found it to be too hot (without complaint) to do much. Our first week seemed like I had been away for a long time and then by the second week I felt as though time was passing too fast before we had to come home. I remember thinking each morning as I took my vitamins in their little daily containers, they were diminishing with the days. I also received emails from our snow plow provider sending updates of snowstorms and one which he informed us that the city by-laws had been reached by the amount of how high he could pile the snow and not to be alarmed by the narrowing of our driveway because he had to use part of it to pile the snow. My husband and I chuckled about the crap we were missing and how timely our trip was to miss three snowstorms, but we didn’t laugh too hard because we knew full-well that we would be back living it in a short time.

Back from Vacay

st. martin


Hello! I don’t usually like to broadcast to the internet that I am on vacation, but some of you may have noticed that my posts have been sparse. Yes, I went on a glorious two and a half week vacation to Florida for three days and then on a two-week Caribbean cruise. I had originally planned a whole routine of how I would sneak in some work while on vacation and put up a few posts a week and perhaps get some writing done but that proved difficult as the social activities abounded and I had such computer problems with my website while on the ship.

ship view Aruba

I bought an (expensive) internet package and as though that weren’t enough, the lag in between getting pages up was eating up my minutes hungrily. I managed to eventually get my emails up every morning ( in slo-mo) and get onto twitter and for the first four days I did manage to get here into my website. One day I could no longer log in to my site, a box came up that it was a malware site and I look like a robot and the ship’s internet provider wouldn’t let me access it. I went crazy. I spent time in the internet room with a tech, complained to guest relations but their internet provider, apparently a military provider based in the United Kingdom, deemed my site not safe. I then had to resort to days when we were at port and lug my laptop to a cruise terminal to try and pick up free wifi, but two ports proved to be bogus wifi. It seemed that hundreds of people were seated on the floors in these terminals, trying to connect to the outside world thus hogging up too much wifi and again I couldn’t connect. Although I did manage one more post as my determination was fueled to not be forgotten and managed to connect for five dollars in the terminal in Saint Lucia. I once again lugged my laptop and purse and shopping bag, trudging through the extreme heat in search of some wifi. That was my last post as the remainder of days were at sea and I was S.O.L. in accessing my site.


Some of you may have noticed that I did still respond to any comments though because I did manage to find a way to get up my notifications by logging into to some of your blogs (thank you), I just couldn’t open my main page. I complained a lot to the front desk, to the point where they credited my account and gave me back tons of minutes for wasting my valuable time and paid minutes trying to log in. It seems that no matter where I am, I have these website woes. I was convinced that “Murphy” had sent some distant relative to accompany me on vacation so I wouldn’t forget him. I had visions of my readers wondering where I was and if I just abandoned my blog without notice. I think in future I may just post something like my friend Carol when she went on holiday. She put up a picture of a palm tree and wrote “Taking a Break”. That just seems so much simpler.

Another lovely blog award

Thank you Stefan for the lovely ‘Cracking Chrispmouse Bloggywog Award. Just as I thanked you on your page I will post here that I am breaking protocol for these lovely awards and would just like to say that I shall display it here on this page for any of my lovely readers to help themselves to (copy and paste), as I believe we all have something to say and share and therefore, we are all deserving. 🙂 Thank you so much my friend Maxima!


Author’s Work is Never Done


As we continue to get in our daily writing there is a myriad of other things we have to contend with in life as well as look after our social platforms.

Some of us are content to write, while many keep switching their hats daily. It’s not enough to just write if we wish the world to share out labours of love. Time is of the essence. How many of us wish that we could add just a few more hours in a day?

If our goal is to achieve exposure to our words, it is an going work in progress to keep up with our social media and marketing strategies. With the growing status of acceptability to Indie authors and the ever-growing number of books being published, it is up to us to be diligent in keeping status up to date in our strive to attain exposure. I liken it to cleaning our homes. You know that urgency that falls upon us when things are a bit unkempt and suddenly company is coming and we go on a mad dash to do a quick emergency cleaning job? But, if we did a bit each day to upkeep and maintain our home we wouldn’t have to be in such a mad rush to do everything all at once.

In our quest for exposure, we secretly wish in the back of our minds that perhaps a set of eyes from a publishing house may glance our pages. If that is the case, we can demonstrate our works on our websites and we must keep up with our followers and keep building and cherish our readers for having interest in our work. It isn’t just about accumulating followers and likes. It’s about giving good information and giving back of yourself for those who spend their own precious time reading and commenting on our works. If the content we put out doesn’t have any value or resonance, people can leave as fast as they came.


Remember to write generously, send out good posts or write about things which people can relate to or comment on. Pay it forward and who knows, maybe a certain set of eyes may someday fall upon you.