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Monthly Archives: April 2017


As you can see, I am doing something a little different. I read a book by Elisabeth Zguta called Seeking Redemption. Although it may not be the kind of book many of my readers like to read because there is some sexual content, I personally thoroughly enjoyed it. I wrote a review of this book and then I had the privilege of connecting with Elisabeth and was able to interview her.

Review of Seeking Redemption

Seeking Redemption is the third book in the Curses and Secrets series about the de Gourgues family. First, there was Breaking Cursed Bonds-Emily’s story and then, Exposing Secret Sins-Michelle’s story. In Seeking Redemption, Zguta wrote Robert’s story, another spellbinding suspense novel.

In Seeking Redemption, Robert wants to turn a new leaf and wants redemption for his past indiscretions including the murder of Tom Bennett. He marries the love of his life. Agent Sloan offers Robert a deal. Either he can help the US government discover the leader of the notorious Black Wolf Society, or he can go to prison for his crimes. By choosing to spy for the government in secret, he puts his family, with whom he is trying to reconcile, in jeopardy. This decision resulted in murder, attempted murder, and kidnapping.

Even though I did not read the first two books in this series, I was able to enjoy this story as a stand-alone book. It makes me want to go back and read the first two books. I would love to read more of Ms. Elisabeth’s books.

Elisabeth is an independent author. Seeking Redemption was edited by Richard Thomas of Dark House Press, and the cover was created by EZ Indie Design.

interview with Elisabeth Zguta

How long did it take you to write your first book?

Elisabeth:It took me over four years to write Breaking Cursed Bonds. I published the first edition in 2014. Then I decided to turn the storyline into a serial, so I rewrote Breaking Cursed Bonds with the eyes of a new editor, and I smoothed out the flow so that it would help set up the books to follow. I re-published the second edition in 2016. In total, it took six years for the first. The second story took two years, the third a year, but all of them had a lot of re-writes and editing

Has writing become an easier process with each book that you write? How has your writing style changed from your first book to this on

Elisabeth: Yes, of course, the more we write, the easier it becomes in some sense. Along the way, I’ve learned to understand the difference between showing and telling and overwriting. I still may err on those issues, but being aware of them is an important step to correct these when editing.

Once a writer understands story structure and the techniques to create tension, etc. then writing is easier. I think the writing flows better when the writer has a handle on the plot and characters. However, if you have no idea of what you want to say, then it will be hard to write no matter how many words you’ve previously written.

No author ever stops learning the craft, so there will always be challenges

What is your definition of Indie publisher and self-publisher? Are they the same or different? Do you see this trend toward Indie publishing and Self-publishing to continue? Are you a self-publisher or an Indie publisher/author? What do you think is the future of traditional publishing? Do you have any advice for the big publishing companies?

Indie Publisher can mean a small press like college and university presses, it can refer to a small imprint or an imprint of a larger publisher, and it can mean a single person registering their business as a company and imprint. Once a person takes on the role as an Indie Publisher, they become responsible for all aspects of publishing the book: editing, branding, formatting, interior design, cover designs, marketing, distribution, and publicity.

A self-publisher is a person who chooses to upload their manuscript themselves using their name, and may or may not use an ISBN that is registered through Create Space or Smashwords (or another aggregate) and the book would be listed as published by the entity where the ISBN was issued in the formal records. All the other aspects that follow still fall on the shoulders of the self-publisher.

I believe in the future, all forms of Independent Publishing and Self-publishing will continue to grow. The genie is out of the bottle, the tools are there to use, and the public has embraced the chance to be heard. The ability to publish a book, to share your ideas, is a freedom we are fortunate to experience.

What is your publishing process? What do you do yourself and what do you hire out?

Elisabeth: My process is a continuous work in progress.

I do everything myself regarding my platform and writing. That includes website design and maintenance, all social media posts and blog posts, and I format my books (eBook and print) and design the covers.

When I began writing, I got feedback from friends and a local critique group here in Memphis. I also belonged to an online small private critique. These were all a great way to dip my toes into the writer’s pond of knowledge. I think it’s crucial to have someone else read your work and offer feedback, and we must be brave enough to hear the critique with an open mind. We write for ourselves, but we edit for the reader.

After my drafts had been completed, I hired professional editors, and they have taught me the most about my writing’s weaknesses and strengths. I highly recommend hiring the best editor you can afford. There are also many valuable resources available online to learn about writing and marketing. In this evolving business, it’s beneficial for writers to check out as many resources as possible to hone their skills. There are many books by professional authors who offer their personal insights into what works and what doesn’t for them. I’d like to stress that we each have our path, so research always, pick what sounds right for you, and toss the other ideas to the side. Along my journey, I’ve taken online courses in creative writing and marketing.

The important thing to remember is that learning is never ending

You said at the end of Seeking Redemption that Richard Thomas, the editor-in-chief of Dark House Publishing was insightful and pointed you in the right direction to make it a strong story with developed characters and plot. Do you think that an author must have another set of eyes to edit his/her work? Do you think that it is possible for only the author to edit his/her own work?

Elisabeth: The editor gave me some insight on how to make the characters more visible, and he suggested adding their appearance from the beginning. I thought that since it’s the third book, and they had been fleshed out before in the others, that it might bore the reader. However, he was correct since it was a new story and even those who read the first two books may not have a good picture in their mind as they read the third. So I fleshed out the characters as soon as they were introduced, leaving nothing that could confuse the reader.

It’s extremely important to have an editor. I do think it is wise to have another set of eyes on our work. We get so involved with our stories that some things that are known to us (the backstory in our head) are not conveyed to the reader. We may think we’ve done so, but fresh eyes on the manuscript will tell you that the idea never made it to the pages. An objective set of eyes will offer feedback that will enhance the story to read stronger than if left unchecked

What advice would you give an indie author about publishing his/her own books? How would you suggest the indie author finance his/her endeavor?

Elisabeth: I think all Indie Authors have their unique paths, and there is no one right way to go. Each author needs to be open to possibilities and choose what works for them. One word of caution—beware of vanity presses who often try to look like legitimate deals. Read more about this at David Gaughran’s blog.

Some authors have found success beginning with a small press to help them get reviews and then later branch off on their own. There are downsides to this because the author loses control over the original work and they often have to buy back their rights later if they want to manage them on their own.

Some authors go hybrid, selling the paperback rights to a publishing house but keeping their digital rights. There are many scenarios, so best to do the research into this business to make the most informed decision possible.

Trying to do it alone does get costly. Be prepared to hire out whatever you cannot do or learn to do. Remember, there are many online resources where you can get free shareware, advice, and technical skill information. Read it, absorb it, and then decide what you can and cannot do on your own. Often it comes down to a matter of time rather than money.

Some authors have used a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds; however, I think that platform is more appropriate for projects that involve public appeals rather than personal ones.

Bottom line, save your money, use free software and tools whenever possible, do as many hands on as you can, and don’t be afraid to quote out the jobs that you cannot handle on your own. Compare prices; many people offer quality services for low cost. If you want to self-publish, you must seek out the information first, ask many questions, and follow the authors who have already done it. Do not reinvent the wheel; morph the process in place to fit your individual needs.

For more information on how to get those resources and answers, follow Elisabeth’s website.  https://ezindiepublishing.com

What changes have you made in your publishing practices since you first published your first book?

Elisabeth: I have slowed down; being too demanding of myself only caused the creativity to freeze up. Realizing that this is a long journey, not a short sprint, made it easier to budget the time needed to get things done right. Another epiphany – it will never be perfect. It’s all about the journey.

What other information would you like other authors/readers to know about your books, your writing, your writing style?

Elisabeth: My books have characters who deal with problems of the here and now; however, I like to add twists that bring back secrets of the past. Supernatural events, paranormal experiences, these are present in my stories, but they aren’t the main course. Though my work is not Gothic, I like to bring into the setting the feel of those tales by using architecture and landscape atmosphere in keeping with the old style.

My premise is that monsters are real and they live among us because people do dreadful things to each other. Although my stories have some scenes that fit the horror genre, the main substance of my books contains family drama, romance, and psychological suspense.

Some of the American writers who influenced my way of thinking are Poe, Lovecraft, Saul Bellow, and Hemingway. That doesn’t mean I write similar to them, though I wish I could. My tastes for books fringe on the strange and bizarre and I read many genres. I think my writing shows a melding of styles

You can get Seeking Redemption and any of Elisabeth’s books at the links below.

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Amazon AU

Amazon CA

iBooks Apple

Barnes & Noble

Nook

Kobo

Smashwords

 

Did you like the change up to me doing a review and an interview? If so, leave a comment below. If didn’t like the interview, leave a comment below anyway and let me know what you topics you would prefer?

 

 

The author of this blog, How My Spirit Sings, Cygnet Brown has published several nonfiction books including Simply Vegetable Gardening: Simple Organic Gardening Tips for the Beginning Gardener, Using Diatomaceous Earth around the House and Yard, and Help from Kelp.

 

She is also the author of historical fiction series The Locket Saga. which includes When God Turned His Head and Soldiers Don’t Cry, the Locket Saga Continues, and, A Coward’s Solace, Book III of the Locket Saga,  Book IV of the Locket Saga: Sailing Under the Black Flag–and most recently–Book V of the Locket Saga: In the Shadow of the Millpond. She is also working on another nonficiton book: Living Today, The Power of Now.

 

.For more information about Cygnet Brown and buy her books, check out her website at http://www.cygnetbrow.com

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The Problem with Someday

 

How many times have you heard yourself saying–someday I would like to … go on a trip, write a one-time gift to my favorite charity, get into shape, start a business, lose ten pounds, finish sewing that quilt, etc. I can’t tell you how many times I talked to people who said that someday they would write a book. The next words out of their mouth were why they couldn’t do it now. By the end of our conversation, I realized that that person probably never would write that book. Someday became the enemy of today for them. Someday is like yesterday and tomorrow. Someday never really comes.

 

Value Your Dream, Make it a Goal

 

The first thing you have to do is determine what your dreams are and if you’re willing to do what it takes right now to get those dreams accomplished. Are there things that you would rather be spending your time doing? My husband for instance, is perfecting happy driving a semi-truck all week and spending his free time watching Netflix, listening to music, kayaking on the river, and shooting pictures and videos that he puts on Flickr and YouTube. He had written a blog for a while decided that was not how he wanted to spend his time. He lives in the moment and is perfectly happy with his results.

 

What’s your dream? What is the one thing that you want to accomplish that you feel you don’t have time to do? Write it down. A dream doesn’t really become a goal until you write it down. Look at that goal every day. When can you start working on it? If the answer is not today, figure out what you can do to make today that day. Start by writing down the details of this dream. Get your senses involved. What does it look like, sound like, smell like, taste like, and feel like? Get as detailed as possible. Reach the point where the dream is as real as being there. If you cannot finish this part of your dream today because of prior time commitments, don’t let it stress you out. However, do look at what you do with your time and other resources. See if there is something that you can do to take a baby step toward that dream.

 

Make your dream one of your priorities. Laura McHugh, author of Weight of Blood, a novel about slave trafficking here in the Ozarks, took a year off from working and stayed home with her two preschool children to write the book. Yes, she had children and yes she had household responsibilities, but in between taking care of the children and cleaning house, she wrote her successful novel. She didn’t waste her day watching soap operas. She stayed to task and by the year’s end she had a winning product that agents and publishers were fighting over.

 

Value Your Time and Other Resources

 

Fight to protect the time and resources you want to devote to your dream. At first you may have to steal those moments and those resources, but do what you can today.

 

However, like exercise, don’t overdo it in the beginning. Ease into it so that your subconscious doesn’t rebel. Start new habits related to this dream by taking tiny baby steps. For instance, if your goal is a thinner, healthier body, rather than starting a diet today to help lose weight, begin to change your eating habits. One habit at a time, spend the next several weeks getting into the habits of eating breakfast, taking a kelp or vitamin tablet or capsule after that meal, drinking a glass of water before eating any meal and eat your protein and fat before your salad or carbs and take no less than twenty minutes to eat. Even if you never change the kinds of food you eat, you’ll still find you have better control of your weight. However, if you do decide to switch out unhealthy foods for healthy foods, you’ll be better able to continue the path to a healthier lifestyle.

 

If your day is filled with a job, taking kids to after-school activities, running errands, and doing housework, but your dream is to be a professional writer, you will no doubt have to get creative if you want to make that dream a reality. This goes for any ongoing dream that you have, you will have to carve out the time and resources that you need if you will ever make this dream a reality.

 

You could simply wait until your children are grown and out of the house, but why wait? Can you find fifteen minutes every morning to work on your first book? Do you realize that if you type 40 words per minute you can write an entire book in a year? If you have a smart phone, you can work even when you’re nowhere near your computer. Get the app Evernote on your phone and computer and when you’re out doing errands, waiting for your children at their school or after school activity, whenever you think of something to add to your book, add a note, a voice recorded note, or even photo that of a person who you could use to help describe a character. Even if you’re nowhere near your phone you can still work on your book in your mind. After your fifteen minutes at the computer is over, decide which aspect of the book you will focus your attention. Then whenever you are working around the house, driving on the freeway, or showering take a few minutes to think about what you will write about next. Authors like Thoreau and Twain have been doing this same thing for hundreds of years. Smart phones and computers make it easier today than ever before.

Whatever your dream, whether it is to lose those excess pounds, write a book, save for retirement or whatever, don’t wait for someday. Today is your day!

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Yesterday Thinking

On our last post, we discussed the idea that worry is a negative form of “Tomorrow Thinking”. “Past Thinking” also exists. Some past thinking is healthy. For instance, having pleasant memories are a form of ‘past thinking” that is appropriate. Pleasant memories can create good emotions that energize an otherwise depressing day.

Regret and Shame are negative “Past Thinking”. Regret is a negative emotion about something that we did in the past. Shame is an emotion that causes us to feel bad about who we are.

I had a dream several times that related to this idea of shame. I dreamed that I was in a restaurant with a number of my friends. The mood of the room was fun. Everyone was enjoying themselves. Then a guy came in and he seemed nice at first. He and I struck up a pleasant conversation. The next thing I knew, all of my friends left the room and I was alone with this person. He suddenly started telling me how I wasn’t any good, and that I would never amount to anything. He told me that God couldn’t and wouldn’t use me because of all thing bad things that I had done in my life.

I told him that I rejected what he was saying and I told him to leave. With that, I awoke from my dream. I was pleased with myself for my stand.

No Regrets, No Shame

We all make mistakes. There isn’t a person on this earth who didn’t make a mistake and never has been, except one, and they crucified him for it!

Asking God for forgiveness is the first step, but we have to go beyond that.

We have to forgive ourselves, make appropriate restitutions, and move on. Better than that, we can discover what we learned from that experience. For instance, if we went to jail because we stole a car, we paid the owner for any damage to the vehicle and we learned that crime doesn’t pay. We don’t have to beat ourselves up over the past. Being a car thief is no longer what we are. That is in the past. If I learned from my mistake, I no longer have to feel shame for my mistake either because I am no longer that person. I have grown from the experience.

Sometimes we feel regret and shame for things that happen to us that are not our faults. I have known a couple people who were convicted of crimes they did not commit. They plea-bargained because they could only afford a public defender who was not interested in defending an innocent person in court. One convicted person rather than regretting the situation showed gratitude for the situation. He said that he had time to reflect on his life and to pursue hobbies in jail that he would not have been able to do if he were not in prison. He sees the experience as a positive rather than a negative.

Gratitude, A Positive Form of Yesterday Thinking

Gratitude is a positive form of past thinking and today thinking. When we feel gratitude, we are remembering and feeling something good about a past event. Feeling this gratitude creates positive energy within us.  For best results, it is important that we express that gratitude. We can express it by telling someone, by recording our voice expressing this gratitude, or by writing it down in a journal. For best results, we need to feel gratitude at the same time that we express it. If you’re feeling low on energy, expressing gratitude can increase your energy as much as a Red Bull does but without the jittery after effects.

Not everything that happens in our lives is necessarily good. My friend who went to prison for a crime he did not commit could have left him bitter and full of regrets. Rather than this bad experience cause him to live in regret and shame, he chose to create a positive experience from it. The experience itself wasn’t positive, but what was positive was how he decided to spin his experience. Gratitude, like regret and shame is a choice. Which one do you choose?

Gratitude, like regret and shame, is a choice. Which would you rather choose?

 

Book V of the Locket Saga: In the Shadow of the Mill Pond

Now Available in Paperback with 40% discount!  Click here to buy now. Taking Preorders for Kindle Edition until May 6! Order now!

B) In the Shadow of the Millpond by Cygnet Brown

In Book V of the Locket Saga, fifteen-year-old Lacey Mayford has been infatuated with Matthew since she was a little girl. Matthew, a half-breed Indian, doesn’t see her as anything more than a little girl cousin. How can she convince him that she is growing into a beautiful young woman he should consider?

In the frontier town near the turn of the century, Matthew Thorton is blamed for Luther Hannibal’s murder after an altercation with Luther over stolen furs. Lacey defends Matthew with the help of a teacher, Felix Grackle. They look into other suspects who could have killed Luther Hannibal. Matthew’s father Luke and his best friend Jacque Pierre are looking for the person responsible for stealing the furs. They believe the thief might have something to do with Luther Hannibal’s murder.

A vigilante group seeks to avoid the imposed whiskey sales tax. The group goes to extremes; they steal the US mail and tar and feathering U.S. government officials who attempt to collect those taxes.

Will Lacey be able to clear Matthew’s name? Will Luke and Jacque Pierre find the man who stole the furs? Will the vigilantes stop the Whiskey Rebellion without bloodshed? The truth is far more sinister than anyone could imagine.

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