Monday, June 16, 2014

Big Easy Blog Tour at Vera's Version

Blog tours are so enlightening. Whenever I’m invited to join in on one, I learn about myself. So I’m saying a big thank you to Ike Keen for inviting me to participate in the Big Easy Blog Tour.

Ike Keen likes the tough guys. So tough guys is what he likes to write. He has been writing since 1986, starting off in the horror field and publishing shorts in Fright Depot, Sterling Web, and Black Pedals. He then decided to go a different route, the hardboiled detective. Mickey Spillane and Max Allen Collins are a couple of his favorite authors. Retired from the Springfield Public Schools, he lives outside the small town of Fair Grove,  Missouri. Ike hopes to include Fair Grove in a future novels.

Three other authors follow me in posting on the Big Easy Blog Tour next Monday: Tierney James, Brandy Nacole and S.J. McMillan. There information is at the bottom of this post.

Okay, here goes on the questions that I--VJ Schultz--am supposed to answer.

1) What am I working on?

Sheeshhh! Sometimes I feel like ‘what am I NOT working on’ and I have to admit my list of projects appears to perpetuate itself with no end in sight. Perhaps that is what keeps me interested in the writing life.

At the moment, the top project is a book I’m thinking about calling Vera’s Version. It will hold my humor columns which were published in the 1990s. That means I’ve been wearing several hats: cover designer, editor, publisher, cartoonist, researcher, and even poet. A poem will be the introduction and bring the reader back to the events of the 1990s to set the stage for the humor from that period.

The focus in my professional life at present is not so much on being a writer with this project, because I’m pretty much letting the humor columns stand as they were published way back when.

Vera’s Version is about 80 percent ready for publication on CreateSpace and as an ebook. My goal is to have it published by the end of this month--June.

I am also in the process of educating myself on author self-promotion and how to best use social media. Developing a plan for getting publicity for my books is on my agenda.

Another project I’m toying with is writing a collection of Bigfoot short stories. Death of Bigfoot & Other Tales got me to thinking about this idea. Can you ever have too many Bigfoot tales?

The other major project on my list is to update a humorous romance which has a serial killer as the villain. See how mixed up I am? :)

Creating entirely new stories hasn’t been on my list much for the past few months. Besides the humor book, I recently put together and published a collection of short romance stories written over several years. It is entitled Undercover Love & Other Tales.

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre? 

I write in mystery, suspense, romance, paranormal, and so on. The one thing my stories have in common, I believe, is that I have a quirky sense of humor and like to weave in the unexpected.

3) Why do I write what I do?

I enjoy spinning tales which entertain, cause a chuckle or a shiver, and, hopefully, leave the reader with an ‘ah, ha’ moment.

4) How does my writing process work?

When I am writing--not doing any of the myriad other tasks that a writer in this age has to do--I get really focused. Except when I have to stop to straighten my desk, get coffee/tea, eat chocolate and stare out the window at my garden.

My typical writing day, when I have a goal in mind, is to get to the computer about 10 a.m. and write until I have the number of words done for the day. Say I want to write 2,500 words, I will stay pretty much focused until I reach that number. It could take me an hour or four hours depending upon how the muse cooperates.

When I’m starting a book-length manuscript, I write a bio for each of the main characters bringing them up to the day the story starts.

Plotting is also part of my pre-writing process, although I do not do an intensively detailed plot. It is more likely that I will jot down different ideas for each plot (main and subplots) and later figure out where they should occur. Generally I know the beginning and the probable ending.

Each day I will re-read the pages I wrote the day before and make some small corrections and changes. While this is left brain, it helps me to get focused on where the story is. Then I switch to right brain activity and start creating the next pages.

During the initial writing of the book, I do not go back any further than the pages I wrote the day before. A deeper edit only comes when the whole story is written.

When I finally do a complete edit, I print out a hard copy. Looking at a hard copy is so much better than the words on the screen. I find it easier to do a deep edit on paper. A story is edited several times before I’m satisfied. Then I have a friend read it for feedback and make more changes.

That’s pretty much all there is to my writing process. Of course, if I self-publish the book, I will hire an editor to do an edit, make those suggested changes, let the editor read it again, make those changes, ask one or more beta readers to tell me what they thought and make even more changes. That is how the manuscript gets polished. Writing is much more than putting words down on the blank page.

I enjoy what I do and hope my readers love the stories as much as I loved writing the tales.

Thank you for stopping by Vera's Version. Remember next week the Big Easy Blog Tour continues with these authors Tierney James, Brandy Nacole and S.J. McMillan. You might like to stop by their blogs to get their own take on the tour questions.

Tierney James at

Tierney has been in education for over thirty years. She currently teaches World Geography for a nearby college. Besides serving as a Solar System Ambassador for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab and attending Space Camp for Educators, Tierney has traveled across the world. From the Great Wall of China to floating the Okavango Delta of Botswana, Africa, she ties her unique experiences into other writing projects such as the action thriller novel, An Unlikely Hero. Living on a Native American reservation and in a mining town for many years, fuels the kind of characters she never tires of creating. By taking readers into the depths of the earth, Tierney hopes her next novel, The Rescued Heart, will show the courage and dangers of loving a hard rock miner.

Besides teaching and writing, Tierney enjoys gardening, reading and offering writing workshops. Other pursuits involve learning Hebrew and research, which sometimes has led to becoming certified with various weapons.

There’s never a dull moment in Tierney’s life. And that is just the way she likes it.

Brandy Nacole at

Gemini Brandy Nacole is a writer of urban fantasy books. She is the author of the Shadow World series and the Spiritual Discord series published by Ponahakeola Press. A reader from a young age, Brandy has always loved folklore and stories of beings that go bump in the night.

Brandy lives in Arkansas with her husband, three never stopping kids, two snooty cats, two very lazy bearded dragons, and one mellow turtle. She is a member of the Ozark Romance Authors in Springfield, Missouri. Whenever she’s not reading or writing, Brandy is spending her time outdoors wheeling, hiking, playing amateur photographer, and enjoying a good laugh.

S.J. McMillan

S.J. plays many roles in life. She is a wife to a supportive husband, a mother to three young rascals, an administrative assistant during the week, and an author of urban fantasies and romance novels.

She is currently working on the third book of her City of the Gods series. You can follow her Facebook at, on Twitter at, or on her website at

Saturday, June 7, 2014


Storms make life interesting. It sure has been storming in Missouri this week. Lightning and thunder and buckets of rain and gales of wind have pounded on us. I know I’ve been in a storm and have had enough. Oh, for blue skies, balmy breezes and smooth sailing.

BUT, while we may want such a quiet calm in our own, real lives, a character who experiences only fair weather is a boring character. The boring character is caught up in a world which is equally as yawn inducing in a reader. No storms in a character’s life, means a flatlined, dead plot. The character’s story is DOA.

All work and no play make Jack’s character dull, dull, dull. To give Jack a little bit of play, create a bag of tricks. Gather some small slips of paper and a container (envelope, box, recycled plastic-lidded container). Write something on each slip and place it within the container.

For example:
falls through the floor
loses all his/her money
is held up
has a car wreck
steals a car
kisses his/her boss
is kissed by his/her boss
loses a pet
loses a bet

And so on.

Then when you have a character who is stuck in the doldrums, hang an albatross around his/her neck by plucking out a slip of paper and putting the words into action. The character will be more interesting and the plot starts to sail along under the winds of change.

May your characters always be in trouble and you always have fair weather.

VJ Schultz