Guest Friday Feature – Christy Birmingham on Mental Health Awareness #WATWB

Featured author of the week


Today I’m delighted to introduce one of my oldest blogging friends, author, poet and huge advocate for empowering women, Christy Birmingham.


About Christy Birmingham

I have a BA in Psychology and have taken professional writing courses. I am an avid freelance writer, author, blogger and poet living in British Columbia, Canada and am the proud owner of the blogs Poetic Parfait and When Women Inspire.  I dedicate one blog to poetry and all kinds of literary goodness, while the other blog supports female-driven initiatives to impact and change the world positively. I have written two poetry books to date, Pathways to Illumination and Versions of the Self. My short story collection will release soon.


Christy runs two wonderful blogs – The Poetic Parfait and When Women Inspire.  On her Poetic Parfait blog you will find posts on poetry, short stories, writing and book reviews. At her When Women Inspire blog (which I’m all about and addicted to), you’ll find inspirational and informative articles on empowered women and issues that women have overcome through the decades on topics covering anywhere from health, feminism, politics, lifehacks, education, environment, and so much more.

I invited Christy to write a post for my Friday author feature today and she has chosen to write a post on mental health to share with us today.

Christy Birmingham


Mental Health and Friendship: The Importance of the Company You Keep

When Debby asked me to guest post on her blog, I immediately knew I wanted to use this valuable opportunity to write about mental health. But, the exact topic within this umbrella changed the closer I got to the posting date.


You see, I had a wonderful evening with a dear friend and reflected on it afterward. The mental “high” I felt continued well after our friendship time and I realized that the company you keep plays a pivotal role in your mental health. With that in mind, let’s look at who to surround yourself with for good mental health, whether they be friends, family, acquaintances, or work associates.


Uplifting People

These are your go-to people who can make you feel better with a text saying “thinking of you” or who always offer positive advice when you come to their doorstep with tear-stained cheeks. They support you, tell you when they think you did something great, and (here’s what happened to me recently with my awesome friend) you feel energized after visiting with them.


It is the uplifting friends, family, and others in your life that help you better deal with stress and react to changes in your life. A sense of confidence and contentment is important for a mentally healthy person.


Those Who Motivate You

Aha! They make you want to be a better you. Instead of holding you back with criticisms, they are cheering you on to keep going with your goal to lose weight, get your degree, keep applying for jobs, and so forth.


After talking to my gal friend last week about my falling off the fitness path, she encouraged me to balance exercise with the other things my life and, so, I went for a walk the next day. I did it! It was the company I kept that motivated me. And, you know what, I felt better, both mentally and physically, after that walk.


Non-Judgmental Personalities

Immediately some people will argue that this sub-heading is pure fiction. While we all do judge, to some degree, as an intrinsic part of the human personality, it is not something we have to voice out loud. Instead, I am talking here about surrounding yourself with people who will not speak or act in a demeaning way toward you or chew you down for a decision you made. Who needs that unnecessary drama?


If they disagree with you, they will do so with a respectful tone and also will listen to your justifications. “No judgment,” and my dear friend and I say to one another regularly when talking about happenings in our lives.


Looking Forward

To sum all of this up, choosing to surround yourself with positive people can improve your mood and keep you feeling confident. It may take some time to assess who these people are in your life but it really is important to do so to make the most of your days and keep you away from people who only radiate negativity. Slowly detach yourself from those who have unhealthy influences on your life. Instead, the well-wishers are the ones to embrace in your life to achieve and sustain good mental health.

Thank you to Debby for having me here to your wonderful site! Talking about mental health is a passion of mine, and I appreciate the platform you’ve given me today.


Thank you Christy.

Check out Christy’s books

Pathways to Illumination

Birmingham’s intense collection of poetry follows the trail of a woman’s journey from the end of an abusive relationship to the valiant growth of a newly-awakened, independent spirit. Inner light shatters layers of powerful verse to deliver a poignant hope.

Get this book Here  

Versions of the self poetry

Imagine a shift to the way you see the world that arises through poetic narration. Imagine the world, at its base level, is a collection of selves. These selves collide, disperse, intermingle, and share themselves in lines of free verse. Such is the premise of Versions of the Self, poetry that assumes multiple types of selves exist and relate in ways that alter them. Each of the eight chapters looks at a different type of self, including the singular “I” and romantic interactions. These unique 80 poems definitely color themselves outside of the lines.

Get this book Here

Feel free to connect with Christy on social media at:

This post has been added to #WATWB the monthly post for posting for positivity!


We are the World Blogfest

The cohosts for the June 2017 WATWB are: Belinda Witzenhausen,  Lynn Hallbrooks,  Michelle WallaceSylvia McGrath, Sylvia Stein.

Filter words and phrases it’s best to avoid in writing fiction

writing tips


Today’s reblog is a fantastic post by Kathy Steinemann whose blog offers fabulous posts on writing tips and she wrote this informative featured article for another prolific writing blog I follow with Anne R. Allen.  Read and enjoy and see if you can pick out the errors.


A list of 80+ filter words it is best to avoid in writing fiction. Filter words separate the reader from the characters’ feelings.


This article provides a list of writing filters, with practical examples of how to replace them. You’ll also find exercises that can double as story prompts.


Popular advice recommends that writing include all five senses whenever possible.


Let’s evaluate a paragraph that complies with this recommendation.


Patricia heard steps on the front porch, and she smelled sulfur. She could taste bile rising into her throat. She couldn’t see anything in the dark, so she groped until she felt the familiar cold metal of her son’s baseball bat.


“What’s wrong with that?” you might ask. “The paragraph embraces all five senses.”


Please review the underlined words. They filter the events through Patricia’s perceptions. Let’s consider a different version.


Someone—or something—stomped across the front porch. The reek of sulfur overwhelmed Patricia’s nostrils, and bitter bile burned her throat. She groped in the darkness for a weapon. What was that? Ah, the comforting cold metal of her son’s baseball bat.


The second version employs strong verbs to transport readers into the action. Patricia hears stomping, she smells sulfur, she tastes bitter bile, she sees darkness, and she feels cold metal.


Or something, set off by em dashes, adds to the tension. The reek of sulfur leaves no doubt that the odor is unpleasant. Bitter bile burns her throat—a more effective taste reference. Familiar cold metal changes to comforting cold metal, a tell that adds to the paragraph.


All filter words (heard, smelled, taste, see, felt) were traded for active replacements.


If you don’t know what filter words are, you can’t avoid them.


Let’s review a partial list of filters and their close relatives. I tried to classify them logically, although some words could appear in multiple groups.


See: appear like, become aware of, detect, discern, distinguish, give the impression of, identify, look, look like, note, notice, observe, perceive, realize, recognize, reveal, seem, sense, sight, spot, watch


Smell: detect the smell of, diagnose, get a whiff of, scent, smell like, whiff


Hear: catch, eavesdrop, overhear, listen to, sound, sound like


Touch: feel, feel like


Taste: appreciate, delight in, enjoy, like, relish, savor, take pleasure in


Know: ascertain, assume, believe, bring to mind, decide, deem, discover, gather, get, glean, guess, infer, intuit, learn, posit, regard, remember, suspect, think, understand, wonder


Experience: be subjected to, face, go through, live through, suffer, take in, undergo


Be able to: be capable of, be equal to, be up to the task, can, could, have the ability to, have what it takes to Continue Reading . .


Source: Filter words and phrases it’s best to avoid in writing fiction

Just Sayin’ – Have You Had a Bad Experience with a Service bought through Groupon?

Beware Prices that Look too Good


Just Sayin'

Today’s episode of Just Sayin’ is a little different in that I’m going to share my recent experience using a Groupon certificate.


A few weeks ago it was my birthday and my lovely cousin/friend Cousin D, suggested we were both long overdue to have a massage. We had talked about going to a ‘real’ spa for a treat but time and money factored in and when I suggested to D that we should look on Groupon for discounts to spas and found a few, she offered to pay for mine as a birthday gift and we’d go together. The one we chose was not far from where we live and we got to choose which type of massage we wanted for 45 minutes plus an additional 30 minute foot massage. Sounded heavenly, but was more hellish.


I did what I thought was my due diligence in reading the many reviews saying how wonderful their experiences were at the massage salon and the photos seemed like it was indeed a nice spa-like atmosphere. Its location and address is in a busy, thriving neighborhood, and the half price deal through Groupon was tempting at $60 a person, so D purchased the certificates.


D asked me to call and book our massages. The Asian girl who answered the phone had a difficult time understanding me. I was asking to book on the coming Saturday and she managed to tell me that I could come at 10am or 5pm. As those weren’t my ideal times to go, I proceeded to ask her about the following Saturday (almost 2 weeks in advance) and she gave me the same time availabilities. By then I caught the drift. I asked her if by any chance if those were the only available times on Saturdays for Groupon certificate holders, and she chuckled and said yes. After asking her why she didn’t just tell me that from the beginning and having to explain what I had just said 3 times I went onto the next topic of asking if they are registered massage therapists and could get a receipt back to claim back from insurance. she said yes. Then I proceeded to try and book. I didn’t have the voucher numbers, D did, so after 20 wasted minutes on the phone I couldn’t book. So D called them back with the numbers.


This past Saturday, D and I went for our massages. We were given the address which was located on a busy street in a retail plaza but when we got there, found the place was around the back of the building with no signage in front. I was already leery,


We walked into the small salon  and had to fill out a lame form. I’m saying lame because I’ve had hundreds of professional massages through the years from a woman whose house I used to go privately to spas through my travels and no matter where I’ve gone, the first visit they normally have me fill out a form asking about health questions, issues why I am having the massage, any medications I’m on, a few more usual things and then sign a disclaimer. This form basically asked for name, address, phone number, email, date of birth, and occupation. I didn’t bother filling in the last two. And found out there was not going to be any type of receipt that could be used to claim back from insurance.


The older Asian woman at the desk in the tiny reception area proceeded to ask us what type of massage we wanted, offering a variety of choices from deep tissue to hot stone and about 5 more in between. The place was deserted so I asked her which masseuse specialist is on duty for that time and what does she specialize in. She responded by telling me her masseuses do every kind of massage. I smelled a rat. I’ve been at enough spas to know that when there are several types of massage offered there are several masseuses because they all specialize in one or two types of massage. I normally love a hot stone massage, but have had a few crappy ones in my lifetime and really needed my neck and shoulder worked on with deep massage so I opted for that.


The reception lady asked us if we wanted to go separately in rooms or have a couple’s room, which we opted for to enjoy together.  After we were instructed to get undressed down to our underwear and hop on to the tables, within a few minutes 2 young Asian girls came in. I was to have the deep tissue massage and D was have Shiatzu, only the 2 girls seemed confused as to who was having what and stood there for about 5 minutes chatting in their language before they each chose one of us to work on.


The massage part before the foot massage was to be 45 minutes. About 15 minutes into what was supposed to be my massage she was still warming up my body with the blanket on, rubbing my back in one spot as mother would rub a child’s back. I began getting tenser by the moment with displeasure. I finally lifted my head and asked her when she was going to start the massage and was she going to take off the blanket and use some oil. She chuckled that innocent little girl ‘oh yes’ chuckle and began rubbing my back in the same spot and method she had done with the blanket. Again I lifted my head, trying my best to not scream and with disciplined and forced patience I reminded her I came for a deep massage not a pat on the back. She began jabbing her elbows into my spine, certainly not a spot that felt good and didn’t bother to move her hands around to feel where the tight spots were. After several loud bursts of ‘ouch’ from me from her continuous elbowing my spine I snapped.


I wrapped the blanket around myself and sat up and pointedly told her that she doesn’t know what she’s doing. My cousin knew my patience had worn thin and I didn’t hear her moaning of any pleasure herself without having to tell her girl where to massage and repeated requests of asking for some pressure, but at least she was having some sort of massage.


Cousin D’s masseuse began speaking in her language to mine and my girl walked out. For another 5 minutes I just sat there and told D this was ridiculous and I’m getting dressed and waiting in the car. In that moment, an Asian MAN walks in our room, introduces himself as the manager and asks me what the problem is. I recapped the experience to him but I couldn’t make out much of what he said other than he’ll send in another girl and add back 15 minutes of time. By that time, the FULL BODY massage I’d paid for 45 minutes was well into half hour passed and the first girl had barely massaged only 1/4 of my lower back, hadn’t even touched shoulders or neck. The new young girl proceeded to start over with the ‘warm up’ and I told her to get moving with the real massage. By that time I was so tense from frustration and wanting to slap them all in the head that it would have taken a good masseuse to make me unwind. But no such luck.


I told her to work on my neck and shoulders, but she never once addressed any of the knotted tension spots on my upper back and never touched my neck where my tension is always held and was ready to combust. She then moved down to my calves, not massaging them but merely making a semi circle with 2 fingers on each hand and running her hand up and down my calves for about 30 seconds. And then she proceeded to attempt to give me a foot massage. She bent back my toes then pulled each one in succession and began Karate chopping my calves for another few seconds then asked me to turn over so she could do my arms (after reminding her she hadn’t yet touched them).


During this time my cousin’s massage was still ongoing and I could hear her pleasureful moans as her foot rub continued for some time. When my girl barely touched my forearms and hands for a few minutes I asked her if that toe rubbing thing she did on me was my foot massage, she chuckled with her naive laugh and said yes. In that moment my cousin’s timer went off, indicating her massage had come to an end and my girl put the blanket on me and informed me I was done too.


That was it! I darted up from the table and my anger and frustration was unleashed. I asked her how could my massage be over when my cousin and I started together and I’d lost nearly half an hour of nonsense no massage and waiting for another girl, and I was to have time lost made up. And then I blasted her for rubbing and pulling my toes for 2 minutes and telling me that was a half hour foot massage. I asked her if a foot massage was supposed to feel good because I wouldn’t know it. I told her that nobody knows what they’re doing in that place and it was the worst massage I’ve ever had in my life with not one but 2 girls. I continued to mutter my frustrations under my breath as I scurried to get the hell out of that room. My cousin followed not saying a word and I had no words left to say or I was going to scream at the top of my lungs at the disgusting, unqualified service they offered.


The woman at the desk proceeded to inform us we could leave a tip. I looked at her with death eyes and said in shouting voice “Are you kidding me????” I stormed out the door shouting out loud all the way to the car how horrendous that place was.


Lessons I learned:


  • Groupon reviews I read must have been bogus
  • When calling to book an appointment somewhere and communication isn’t understood with a receptionist, it’s a big indicator of worse things to come.
  • When you’re not asked at booking time what type of massage you are booking, it’s another indicator you’ll be getting a Jill of all trades, or maybe of none.
  • All signs that lead to misunderstood conversations and disorganization are a certainty for disappointment.


I will add after relaying my ungratifying massage situation to my sister, she informed me Groupon had tried to get her business to sign up with them to bring her more business. After she investigated how beneficial it would have been for her business – giving away car cleaning services for half price and minimal cash back from Groupon she declined to be part of it claiming it was an option for them to make money, rather  than for her as she’d be giving away labor-intensive work time to hope she gets a few more customers from it.


It’s possible that some of the Groupon certificates may be worthwhile such as certificates for discounts in restaurant or entertainment but I highly recommend reading the small print for services, and I’d call the business to inquire before purchasing vouchers.. Often there are many exclusions and inclusions that must be adhered to in order to get the benefit from the coupon.

Sunday Book Review – The Plot Whisperer

Book reviews by D.G. Kaye

Today’s book review is on a wonderful book I read while on vacation that I’d recommend to all writers, The Plot Whisperer. This book is a wonderful rundown about how to construct plotting stories for writing books, offering various methods of outlining for both, the plotter and the pantser.

Get this Book on Amazon!




When it comes to writing bestsellers, it’s all about the plot. Trouble is, plot is where most writers fall down–but you don’t have to be one of them. With this book, you’ll learn how to create stories that build suspense, reveal character, and engage readers–one scene at a time.
Celebrated writing teacher and bestselling author Martha Alderson has devised a plotting system that’s as innovative as it is easy to implement. With her foolproof blueprint, you’ll learn to devise a successful storyline for any genre. She shows how to:


  • Use the power of the Universal Story
  • Create plot lines and subplots that work together
  • Effectively use a scene tracker for maximum impact
  • Insert energetic markers at the right points in your story
  • Show character transformation at the book’s climax

Filled with dozens of exercises and examples from both classic and contemporary novels and best-selling authors such as To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, The Old Man and the Sea by Earnest Hemingway, Lord of the Flies by William Golding, and many more, The Plot Whisperer is the ultimate guide for you to write page-turners filled with conflict and suspense that sell!


My 5 Star Review


This book offers a great breakdown of plot construction in simplified terms and added pages of infographic charts indicating elements of peaks and scene trackers demonstrating where to drive plot crisis from beginning to end of a book.
The author also offers handy tips, such as using post-it-notes of various colors to represent characters and their traits for tracking progression throughout the story.


There is also a section explaining the difference between the writing process for authors who are both right and left-brained writers. Interesting deductions are made stating left-brained writers are analytical, detail-oriented, dramatic writers who prefer pre-plotting and outlining, and language preference to big picture, compared to right-brained writers who are stated to be more intuitive toward character emotion, preference to pictures more than language, and who are referred to as pantsers because of the thrill of writing on the seat of their pants. I’d highly recommend this book for all writers new and old.


Are you a pantser or a plotter?

Sunday Review: Have Bags, Will Travel by D. G. Kaye | Diane Tibert

D.G. Kaye's books


This post is titled Sunday book review, but it’s not my usual Sunday review about a book I’ve read. It’s a lovely review I happened to come across from fellow author/editor Diane Tibert whose blog I follow. Diane’s post of the day happened to be about my book, Have Bags, Will Travel  she recently read and kindly took the time to review.



Have Bags, Will Travel

by D. G. Kaye

Rating: 4 stars

Quick, Light Read of Travel Memories


The opening sections had me nodding my head and smiling. Germs. While I’m not as obsessive about them as D. G. Kaye, I am a faithful hand-washer. Years ago, I began using my shirt, jacket or the paper towel I dried my hands with to open public washroom doors. I thought I was the only one who did this until I read Johnny Depp also did. And now I read Kaye does the same.

Kaye explains how air travel has changed over the years with new regulations, restrictions and lack of comfort. It’s not for the better but if you’re like Kaye, you keep travelling and apply humour to the wounds.


My travel doesn’t always involve planes, but I have noticed many things have changed over the years. The biggest being security. Before 9/11, a week-trip to Montreal for a hockey game and shopping found my brother and I the only ones on the plane after the stop-over in Moncton, NB. Once in the air, the steward asked if either of us wanted to go into the cockpit. I jumped at the chance. While my brother and the steward broke out the liquor, I sat between the pilot and co-pilot all the way home, including for the landing. It was a thrill I’ll remember always. It was Christmas Eve and they were talking about sightings of Santa Claus and joking about who could land the plane better. Sadly, this would never happen these days.


Kaye shares many travelling adventures she has had with friends and family over the years, and although they don’t all include shopping, many of them do. For Kaye, shopping is a sport. Her perspective on how the atmosphere and landscape has changed in Las Vegas, Nevada, is interesting because she has been visiting her beloved Vegas since she was twenty.


I’ll admit I do not like to shop—buying only a few items when I travel—and I pack lightly—taking only what will fit into a backpack and the shoes on my feet—but anyone who finds themselves struggling with luggage weight restrictions and too many things to fit into their baggage for the return trip, will find a few great tips and lots of humour.


You may also start reminiscing about your own travel adventures.

This book can be purchased at and

About Sunday Review . . . Continue Reading . . .




Source: Sunday Review: Have Bags, Will Travel by D. G. Kaye | Diane Tibert


Guest Author with a New Book- Featuring Sacha Black

New book feature

Today I’m excited to have over blogger, friend and new author Sacha Black.


Sacha is a prolific blogger who blogs about all things writing in her Writespiration – 52 words in 52 weeks blog series where you will find her weekly word prompts for writers challenging to write a short story in 52 words, no more, no less, and many other articles pertaining to the craft of writing. Her debut nonfiction book  13 Steps to Evil – How to Craft Superbad Villains, was recently released as a writing guide for writers who write in the fiction genre. I haven’t read this book yet, but I can guarantee that Sacha’s style of writing and instructing will have a unique voice filled with fact, distinct humor and directness that Sacha is known and appreciated for by all of her readers.


Sacha is also a fiction writer and has been working tirelessly these past few years writing, and will soon be publishing her other books in the  dystopian and YA fiction genre


To read more about Sacha and her fiction writing you can visit her HERE at her fiction blog. Oh, and of course I will mention she is one of the founders of the Annual Blogger’s Bash!


Sacha Black


About Sacha:


Sacha Black has five obsessions; words, expensive shoes, conspiracy theories, self-improvement, and breaking the rules. She also has the mind of a perpetual sixteen-year-old, only with slightly less drama and slightly more bills.

Sacha writes books about people with magical powers and other books about the art of writing. She lives in Hertfordshire, England, with her wife and genius, giant of a son.

When she’s not writing, she can be found laughing inappropriately loud, blogging, sniffing musty old books, fangirling film and TV soundtracks, or thinking up new ways to break the rules.


13 Steps to Evil -Sacha Black


Get this book on Amazon!  Also available at:  Kobo, Nook, iBooks, Tolino, Barnes and Noble, inktera




Your hero is not the most important character in your book. Your villain is.


Are you fed up of drowning in two-dimensional villains? Frustrated with creating clichés? And failing to get your reader to root for your villain?


In 13 Steps to Evil, you’ll discover:


  • How to develop a villain’s mindset
  • A step-by-step guide to creating your villain from the ground up
  • Why getting to the core of a villain’s personality is essential to make them credible
  • What pitfalls and clichés to avoid as well as the tropes your story needs


Finally, there is a comprehensive writing guide to help you create superbad villains. Whether you’re just starting out or are a seasoned writer, this book will help power up your bad guy and give them that extra edge.


These lessons will help you master and control your villainous minions, navigate and gain the perfect balance of good and evil, as well as strengthening your villain to give your story the tension and punch it needs.


If you like dark humour, learning through examples and want to create the best villains you can, then you’ll love Sacha Black’s guide to crafting superbad villains. Read 13 Steps to Evil today and start creating kick-ass villains.






Why Writers Fudge Up Their Villains


Villains are like newborn infants. So much glorious potential. Until we writers get our grubby mitts on them and balls it up. With the careless flick of a pen, we can turn a finely sculpted baby villain into a cringe-worthy cliché because we didn’t make him bad enough, or we create something so heinously evil it’s unrealistic.


A villain might be a plot device, but he still needs a purpose and a goal, or he’s unworthy as an opponent for your hero (See STEP 3 for motives and goals).


While researching this book, writers told me all kinds of problems they encountered while creating their villains. From getting the dialogue right and avoiding clichés, to knowing how evil to make a villain, to how to reveal her motives without using blatant exposition.


Behind all these issues lie two basic barriers that are the Achilles in every writer’s villainous heel:


  1. Depending on the point of view (POV) the book’s written in, the villain is usually seen through the eyes of your hero.


A solitary POV gives you a page-limited amount of time to show your villain’s best, most authentic and devilishly evil side. Page-limited to the point it makes it eye-wateringly difficult to convey her backstory effectively without information dumping. You have to be better, clearer, more tactical and more concise with your words to create superbad villains.


  1. Writers are hero worshippers.


We love our heroes and protagonists more than our spouses. And as a result, we spend shameful amounts of time honing our protagonist’s muscular heroics into shape. But that relegates our villain (the plot-driving conflict-creator) to the corner of our book, complete with a nobody-loves-you-anyway hat. In other words, writers don’t pay enough attention to their villain.


Now let’s delve inside the talented mind of Sacha, the busiest multi-tasking writer I know, and get some insight as to how she separates her fiction and nonfiction writing and what her further plans are in her writing world.


Your blog is wildly popular. Writers look forward to your weekly ‘writespiration’ writing prompt challenge. Do you expect to be adding more to your blog with informational posts about writing?


Wildly popular?? Me?? *toe nudge, foot shuffle* aww shucks.


I took a break from my ‘tips’ blogging back in April because I was burning out. I was doing loads of ‘stuff’ every day and so exhausted, but I wasn’t achieving anything. I had to prioritize completing my books because I sure as shit hadn’t spent that many years writing not to publish.


Am I coming back to regular Monday posts? Of course. But perhaps not quite as frequent as before, I need to continue to prioritize book writing, and it’s easy to get sucked into blog admin. I’ll never quit blogging. I can’t; it helped me on my writing journey. But likewise, I also can’t spend hours and hours every week on blog admin. The good news is, the break has given me the time to build up lots of ideas and a ton of lessons I need to share.


I know that besides just publishing 13 Steps to Evil, you’re also preparing to publish your first fiction book (spoiler alert) Keepers, part of a six-book series. As a nonfiction writer myself, I’m wondering what is your perspective on writing in two different genres?


Now that is a cracking question. It’s taken me YEARS to finish Keepers, yet 13 Steps was written, edited and edited again after beta feedback in about 14 weeks.


You could argue loads of reasons why like the fact 13 Steps was my second book, so I knew my process a little better. But I honestly think it’s because I’d spent so many years blogging I already had my non-fiction voice nailed. Lots of people say I write like l speak when they meet me, and I really do. But because of that, I could dictate most of 13 Steps, which helped speed up the process and meant it didn’t need anywhere near as much editing as Keepers. I’ve genuinely re-written that sodding book from scratch three times. Villains, however, wasn’t far off the final product first time round.


What inspired you to write 13 Steps to Evil?


Honestly? I was pissed off with the lack of decent female villains. They were all so clichéd. So, I started investigating villains and learning everything I could about them. And like everything I’ve learned on my journey to ‘authordom,’ I’ve blogged it. I was fortunate enough my series of posts on villains proved really popular. That told me something. It told me that I wasn’t alone in wanting to create better villains and if people were visiting little ol’ me to get the knowledge then there clearly wasn’t enough knowledge out there on it. So, the seed was sown for 13 Steps To Evil.


What made you feel there was an open niche in the market for this type of book?


Research. I know there’s that whole awkward should-we, shouldn’t-we on ‘writing to market’ buuuuuuut I want to write full time, and if that means doing a bit of writing to marketing to fund the dreamy fictional worlds that fill my brain, then so be it. I looked at the market and discovered that although there were lots of blog posts about writing villains, there were only a couple of books out there that covered the topic specifically. None of which were as in depth as I would have liked as a reader.


Do you feel there’s a particular issue writers struggle with when writing about villains that you address in this book?  


I think so. It comes at villain-creation from a different angle. For a start, it’s based on a myth-busting concept. Your hero is not the most important character in your book. Your villain is.


Most writers have hero-worship syndrome. Blindly concentrating on their hero and forgetting that a novel isn’t just one character. 13 Steps To Evil tries to blow that concept apart by suggesting the villain is actually the most important character in an author’s book. Why? Because a villain is the source of conflict, and without conflict, there is no story and no need for a hero.


Regarding the issues, it covers everything step by step to help writers build their villain from the ground up.


I love your sense of  and writing style. Can readers expect to find some of your ‘witty’ narration you are known for in this book?


Abso-fucking-lutely. Haha! I’m like the queen of awkwardly odd metaphors. I genuinely considered putting an ‘explicit lyrics’ label on the cover. It’s less bad words and more the unusual way of describing things that might get people’s backs up.


The point is, this isn’t a stuffy textbook. I purposely use really well-known character examples from books, film, and TV because most people will have heard of all, or at least most of the examples and examples make things easier to understand. But without a doubt, I sprinkle and splash a little of my humor and sarcasm all over the book!


How will your book benefit other writers?


The book is an easy to understand, step by step guide to creating Superbad villains. Each step has bite size chunks of info a summary and a couple of useful questions/exercises. There’s also a free checklist to go with the book. Eventually, I’m going to finish the short course I’m creating, and I also have a Facebook group for readers/subscribers where they can discuss their ideas/feedback with each other, and I will be in there helping as well. 13 Steps To Evil will take writers from the basic thief all the way up to their ultimate warlord.


Do you have a favorite villain?


SUCH a hard question. I’m going to cheat because I secretly favor anti-heroes over villains. The first anti-hero I ever fell in love with was Beetlejuice; I secretly wanted to wear his stripy suit! But recently, I fell in love with Deadpool too; I love his ego and outrageous sense of humor. Then there’s Loki, Patrick Bateman, Dexter, argh. There are so many. If I answer the actual question and we talk pure villain, then one of the best has to be Hannibal Lecter, surely?


Do you see yourself writing more ‘how to’ nonfiction books in the future?


Hell yeah, I’m bringing out a workbook version of 13 Steps To Evil shortly. After that I’m not sure, I considered a ‘hero’ companion book, but I want to make sure I’m writing books people need and want. Whatever happens, I’m not stopping with 13 Steps. There will be more!


I hope you all enjoyed learning about Sacha and her writing and works. And I would highly recommend her book How to Craft Superbad Villains – 13 Steps To Evil for all writers who want to fine tune their hero and villain writing. It was a treat having Sacha over here today!


Connect with Sacha:




Non-fiction Website:

Fiction Website:


Social Media

Twitter: @sacha_Black

Facebook: Sacha Black author page

Pinterest: Pinterest profile

Instagram: Sacha Black profile


Goodreads non-fiction: Sacha Black profile

Goodreads fiction: Sacha de Black profile


Tumblr: Sacha Black profile

Google+: Sacha black profile

Linkedin: Linkedin Profile  


Information About The Book


Title: 13 Steps To Evil – How To Craft Superbad Villains

Where is it published: Amazon, Kobo, Nook, iBooks, Tolino, Barnes and Noble, inktera

No of Pages:  222

Release Date: 30th May

Formats: Paperback and eBook

Purchase from: All good retailers, but universal link to all bookstores is here.


Amazon Author Page 


And I would love to add that Sacha runs one of the most newsworthy newsletters for writers. Check out her newsletter and subscribe HERE


*Note – Sacha is currently on vacation. She informed me she was going to pop in when she could to reply to comments. And at the latest she’ll be responding into next week so please feel free to comment for Sacha, and I will reply to them before Sacha gets to them in a few days. 

Newsflash – New books on Amazon and Books on Sale Now!


I’ve come across a few books by author friends of mine that are currently on promotion and some that have newly published books.  I’m excited to say that two of these authors will be featured on my blog as guests this Friday, June 23rd – Sacha Black and next month, July 21st – John Maberry.


Newly Published on Amazon


John Maberry’s new book, The Fountain is on pre-order now at Amazon HERE 


Humor, twists and more in this collection of seven fantasy and sci-fi short stories. Karma can be painful in “The Fountain”–when a plunderer meets a long-dead shaman. A family adopts a retriever with special talents in “Lily, an Amazing Dog.” A vampire has a strange problem, in “Alfred’s Strange Blood Disorder.” A perennial favorite, dimensional travel, with a strange twist in “The Closet Door.” What could that column of fire be, rising from the Atlantic off the Outer Banks? Read “The Flame” to find out what it meant to troubled writer Carson. A wizard casts a spell that works well for a princess, but will it be as good for him? Check out “The Wizard.” Finally, “The Fribble” offers an alien encounter of an odd sort, to a pharmaceutical company rep searching for new drugs in the Amazon Rain forest.


Sacha Black’s debut book, already popular seller 13 Steps to Evil is live now on Amazon HERE 


Your hero is not the most important character in your book. Your villain is.

Are you fed up of drowning in two-dimensional villains? Frustrated with creating clichés? And failing to get your reader to root for your villain?

In 13 Steps to Evil, you’ll discover:

+ How to develop a villain’s mindset
+ A step-by-step guide to creating your villain from the ground up
+ Why getting to the core of a villain’s personality is essential to make them credible
+ What pitfalls and clichés to avoid as well as the tropes your story needs

Finally, there is a comprehensive writing guide to help you create superbad villains. Whether you’re just starting out or are a seasoned writer, this book will help power up your bad guy and give them that extra edge.

These lessons will help you master and control your villainous minions, navigate and gain the perfect balance of good and evil, as well as strengthening your villain to give your story the tension and punch it needs.

If you like dark humour, learning through examples and want to create the best villains you can, then you’ll love Sacha Black’s guide to crafting superbad villains. Read 13 Steps to Evil today and start creating kick-ass villains.


Natalie Smith-Ducey’s book, The Heart’s Lullabye is live now on Amazon HERE


 The Heart’s Lullaby is a candid portrayal of love in all its splendor and pain.

Love, in its purest form, is tranquil and soothes the soul. But love, as is life, can sometimes be cruel and unjust with its paths of uncertainty and forced goodbyes.

In essence, it is a journey of self-discovery. A continuous journey of becoming. Often, it becomes a delicate dance of holding on and letting go.

We linger in memories of ill-fated love; our minds can easily soil them, and our hearts can effortlessly polish them to perfection, altering their resemblance entirely. We can anchor ourselves to yesterday by zealous choice or solemn grief. So easily, we can become obsessed with what “might have been” and miss the beauty that lies before us. Our minds craft spectacular moments that will never be realized. Why? Is it self-indulgence, or are they necessary companions for our soul’s survival?

Love, its force so formidable, transcends time, distance, and even death. Eternal love is the epitome of its grandeur.

To feel the exquisite, majestic splendor of love is the greatest gift we can give or receive. To have another see the unique beauty in our imperfections, that will protect us and elevate us without greed or envy, a soul willing and proud to walk this journey of life with us and share in its joys and sorrows … this is love, a gift unmeasurable and unmatched by earthly possessions.

But two souls must be willing. Therein lies the intricate complexities of the heart.

And in the end, we must never forget … Love, as is life, is a continuous journey of becoming.


Linda G Hill’s new book, The Magician’s Curse – on Amazon HERE


When Herman Anderson leaves home to make a better life for herself, she doesn’t expect to meet a tall, dark stranger with whom she’ll fall hopelessly in love.
Charming and mysterious, Stephen Dagmar is a stage magician seeking an assistant. The moment he sets eyes on Herman, he knows she’s the one. He brings her home to his Victorian mansion where they embark upon an extravagant romance. Yet a shadow hangs over their love. Will the curse on his family end Stephen and Herman’s happily ever after, before it really begins?
Amidst lace and leather, innocence and debauchery, The Magician’s Curse begins the Gothic tale of The Great Dagmaru. Magic and romance await.

ON Sale Now



Colleen Chesebro’s book, The Swamp Fairy is will be on FREE, June 23rd and 24th on Amazon HERE 


Fourteen-year-old Abigale Forester, recently orphaned and a ward of the State of Illinois moves from Chicago to Florida to live with her aunt, her last living relative. Magnolia Forester becomes her legal Guardian, and together they claim an ancient inheritance; land that belonged to Abby’s mother’s family for generations.

Holding onto the only piece of her mother Abby has left, a calcite pendant and her mother’s most sacred possession, she discovers the truth of her legacy. The pendant is more significant than she could possibly imagine. Forged from a giant mystical heart-shaped stone found on the very swamp land Abby now owns, it holds the power of her ancestors.

But with that power comes greater responsibility, one that pits her against Rafe Cobb, a greedy land developer, who will stop at nothing to own Abby’s swamp land.

As Abby learns to be part of a family again and explores her love of horses with friends, Savanna, and Blake, the swamp slowly gives up some of its secrets. She is summoned by a primeval nymph, who teaches Abby that her true destiny is to protect the nymphs from evil in an ever-changing modern world.

Can Abby save the swamp and the Naiad Nymph Clan from certain destruction before it is too late?


Sarah Brentyn’s, Hinting at Shadows on Kindle Countdown at .99 cents  Amazon HERE 


 No One Escapes Life Unscathed

Delve into the deeper reaches of the human condition and the darkness that lives there.

A girl haunted by her sister’s drowning. A boy desperate for his father’s affection. A woman forced to make a devastating decision. A man trapped by his obsessions.

Experience tales of love, loss, murder, and madness through this collection of flash and micro fiction.

Take a peek behind the smile of a stranger. Get a glimpse inside the heart of a friend. Scratch the surface and discover what is hidden beneath.

These stories will open your mind, tug at your thoughts, and allow you to explore the possibility that, even in the brightest moments, something is Hinting at Shadows.

Each selection is approximately 100 words, with a bonus section of Microbursts in which each story is told in 50 words or less


I admire the writing of all these authors and hope you enjoy reading them too.

Just Sayin’ – Part 2- Getting the Best Price in Department Stores

Taking Advantage of Department Store Sales

Just Sayin'


                                                                      Department Store Sales Tips


Welcome to Part 2 of my economical shopping tips. Today I’ll be talking about how I get the best deals when it comes to shopping in department stores.


How many times have you gone shopping for something in a department store randomly just to browse and maybe discover an item you wanted to buy, or purposely set out to purchase a particular item and perhaps that item wasn’t on sale? Did the fact that it may not have been on sale deter your from buying it? Or do you only wait for sales before you decide to buy? Well today I’m going to share a few smart shopping habits I’ve developed through the years to ensure I’m getting the best price for my purchases.


I’m not going to pretend that I’m the most frugal person on the planet, but when it comes to shopping for fashion and beauty items I don’t appreciate being a ripped off consumer when I purchase something only to find it’s on sale the following day or week. So I feel as though it’s my duty to keep on top of sales.

I do love to shop and keep on top of fashion trends and keep an eye on items that spark my fancy.  This may be just window shopping or checking things out online and it doesn’t mean every time I do so I’m buying, but I’m observing and making note of items I may like to purchase if they go on sale. And as it turns out, in most departments stores the likelihood of an item I have my eye on does eventually go on sale.


Department stores such as Macy’s and Lord and Taylor in the U.S. and here in Canada, our Hudson’s Bay (a.k.a. The Bay) use a rotating cycle  for their sales. These stores run what’s known as ‘The weekend sale” every weekend, and often other sales are run intermittently such as a flash sale (one day only), holiday sales, seasonal sales, where merchandise maybe be offered from 20 – 40% off for a time limit, as well as bonus sales for members who have and use their loyalty membership card for purchase.

It’s a huge marketing game, and if you keep track of these sales you’ll become more aware of how often the sale prices will rotate on particular items and brands weekly. For example, I love my Hudson’s Bay department store and buy most of my household small appliances, clothing and shoes from there. I have my favorite clothing and shoe brands and I often receive advance sale notice by email offering extra discounts for upcoming sales, or I’ll go to their website anywhere from Thursday night after midnight through Sunday to check out their weekend sale and have a look at the weekly flyer to check if there’s anything I’ve been eyeing that will be on sale.

Every week certain brand items will be on featured sale, offered at anywhere from 25 to 40% off regular price. If something I’ve been keeping an eye on happens to go on sale, I just might be inclined to order it at a tempting price. I’ve come to learn that each weekend sale, a group of clothing brands will be on sale and the following week another group will be on sale, and so on, learning that if an item I’ve been wanting isn’t on sale one week, it will more than likely go on sale the following week or perhaps the week after.


You may be thinking, what if you need that item today or for an upcoming occasion and you don’t want to take a chance that by the time it goes on sale they may be sold out of your size or perhaps completely out of stock. Here’s my advice: Buy it and keep your receipt.

I’ll admit that years ago I used to frown upon chronic ‘returners’ of merchandise until I realized how much money I could save becoming one of those people myself.


[bctt tweet=”Did you know you can return merchandise without returning it to get a rebate? It’s called price adjustment. ” username=”pokercubster”]


  • Most stores have a deadline for returning merchandise and limits will vary by store. For the purposes of explaining how it works I’ll talk about The Bay here in Canada. The Bay offers a 30 day return policy for merchandise not purchased with a department store credit card and 90 days returns for those with the card. Of course there are time limit exceptions on bigger ticket item purchases such as furniture, appliances and jewelry where you may only have 2 weeks to a month for returns, but basically, this is a generous amount of time to be able to return items.


  • But why would I want to return an item? Here’s the deal – keep that receipt. All merchandise may be ‘price adjusted’ within 7 days of purchase. So let’s say I purchased something at full price (rare, but it happens) and the following weekend it becomes 30 or 40% off. You can count on me doing a price check on an item I recently bought and if it’s on sale the following week, I’ll be dashing to my nearest Bay with my receipt for a price adjustment, money credited back to my account if the item goes on sale within 7 days. I’m not really returning the item but I’ll need my receipt for proof of purchase to credit back the difference to my account. I can pretty much predict that the shirt or pants I purchased the week before not on sale then, will be on sale the following week, and if not, almost certain it will be the following week.


  • But what if that item I bought doesn’t go on sale until 2 or 3 weeks later? Let me preface by saying that I do have a knack for knowing what a popular item is and I’m a great predictor of knowing a certain item won’t be around for a long time. Those circumstances may give me reason to purchase at full price because if I wait for a sale they may be sold out. That said, I will purchase the item and not wear it, keeping the tags on awaiting to ‘return’ it. If I anticipate that item I’ve purchased will be on a sale within the next few weeks and the 7 day price adjustment period has passed, and it finally does go on sale, I return it. After the return transaction, I tell the clerk I’d now like to re-purchase that same item. It’s legal and once you’ve returned it for a refund, it automatically goes back on sale for whatever the sale price is that day. Someone’s going to buy it, so why not me rebuying at a better price? The money is better in my pocket right?


  • Beware: If you’re a last minute shopper and buy that dress days before the event you want to wear it, if it doesn’t go on sale within 7 days to adjust your receipt and it does the following week after you’ve worn it – tags off – you’ll be out of luck for the return and re-buy.


  • Things to keep in mind:  If you plan ahead for occasions you know you’ll be needing a new blouse or outfit for eventually and purchase that item in well-planned time, this will give you time to let it stay unworn with tags still on and eligible for it to go on sale before the time comes you have to wear it. Remember, if you’re going to do a return, the tags must still be attached to the merchandise and not worn. This is why it pays to plan ahead and purchase ahead of time for upcoming events.




  • If you can wait for an item to go on sale, do so.

  • If you can’t wait and purchase an item, make sure to check the following weekend sale to see if your purchased item is on sale to obtain a price adjustment.

  • If you buy something you love not on sale try not to wear the item for a week or two to see if it goes on sale so you can return and re-purchase.

  • For items you know you will be needing, such as a dress for a special occasion, buy it within the month in advance of the event even if it’s not on sale and most likely before the month passes it will go on sale where you can return and re-buy it.


Happy shopping!!