An author withdraws

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Bestselling member M.L. Doyle explains what of today’s circumstances have convinced her to put down her pen.

I will not be writing fiction or much of anything else for the foreseeable future. 

I know withdrawing from writing fiction at this time won’t make much of a difference in the scheme of things. My readers haven’t read anything new from me for almost a year already. The last time I posted to this blog was in April. There are millions of fantastic books and short stories out there to keep everyone entertained forever. I have no illusions that anything new I might produce would be missed. 

I’m not boycotting the writing world as some kind of call to action, nor do I think declaring an end to my fiction writing will result in some kind of change that will impact how people think. Between the pandemic and the arguments over masks, the lives lost and the massive economic hardships millions are facing, my imaginary characters, their lives, their issues …  well, who gives a shit? Certainly not me. 

Every single day I’ve felt guilt and insecurities because I can’t do more than stare at the empty page. I wish I could fill it with my fear, frustration and the extreme anxiety that washes over me every time I consider what will happen to my country, to the world, if the same thing happens in November 2020 that happened in November 2016. If the politics aren’t enough, watching George Floyd die and the callous indifference on Chauvin’s face broke me. I didn’t think I could take one more story of police brutality and the wrongful deaths of innocents at the hands of people who simply didn’t care. Then there was Breonna Taylor and Elijah McClain and Venessa Guillen, a sister in arms whose murder inexcusably went unsolved for so long even when the killer was the most obvious person imaginable. If her murder had been a novel, readers would have excoriated the author for making the solution to the puzzle so damn obvious.

Why is it so hard for Americans to wear a damn mask? How could parents support a president who demands they send their children into virus riddled infection chambers? How do we allow news organizations to spread propaganda against Black Lives Matter as if this civil rights group is some sort of terrorist organization? How is it okay for the party of POTUS to put a mentally ill rapper on the ballot in a scheme to draw votes from his opponent? How do we allow our neighbors or, more importantly, our employees to scream the N word and call the police on people simply for walking down the street? How does anyone make excuses for people who stand on their front lawn and point weapons at people exercising their first amendment rights? Did that cop really think it made things better to help a 16 year-old girl sit up, after he made her and her sisters lay face down on the ground and put handcuffs on them? And even after people from around the world have expressed their anger, shock and horror over our handling of this pandemic, and indeed, ban Americans from visiting most countries around the world because of it, how can the architect of this disaster claim we are the envy of the world? Worse, how can his followers think this is all okay? 

The horrific destruction left in the wake of the explosion in that Beirut warehouse seems almost representative of the collective pressure we are all facing. I’ve had enough. 

Every single day my frustration and feelings of helplessness have grown in the face of all of this madness.  At the same time my guilt over not being able to put words on a page multiplied exponentially. The horrific destruction left in the wake of the explosion in that Beirut warehouse seems almost representative of the collective pressure we are all facing. I’ve had enough.

I wish I could control the fear so many millions feel over their need for that extra $600 congress can’t come to an agreement on. I wish I could control the guilt some cops may be wrestling with as they start to understand the realities of the systematic racism they have unknowingly supported. I wish I could control the risk to health so many teachers will face. I wish I could control the gut-wrenching feelings low income, hardworking parents must be facing who know their children won’t get the homeschooling they need. I wish I could have control over how much further behind those low income kids will become. I wish I could control the hatred in the hearts of so many who become incensed, outraged and violent over a simple demand that no lives matter until Black, Brown and Native lives matter.     

I know that many people share my frustration and feelings of helplessness in the face of all of this. By saying I’m not going to write anymore, I’m finally taking control of the one stone of guilt I can lift off my shoulders. Unlike COVID or federal troops on the streets or those who refuse to wear masks or the lunatic in the White House and all of the evil monsters who support him, this one thing, the guilt I feel over my inability to write, I can control. So I will.

M.L. Doyle

has served in the U.S. Army at home and abroad for more than two decades as both a soldier and civilian.

Mary is the author of The Desert Goddess series, an urban fantasy romp consisting of The Bonding Spell and The Bonding Blade. She has also penned The Master Sergeant Harper mystery series which has earned numerous awards including an IPPY, a Lyra Award and the Carrie McCray Literary Award.

Mary is the co-author of two memoirs: A Promise Fulfilled: the story of a Wife and Mother, Soldier and General Officer (January 2011) and the memoir, I’m Still Standing: From Captive U.S. Soldier to Free Citizen—My Journey Home (Touchstone, 2010), which was nominated for an NAACP Image award.

Mary’s work has been published by The Goodman Project, The War Horse, The WWrite Blog and The Wrath-Bearing Tree, an online magazine for which she serves as a fiction editor.

A Minneapolis, Minnesota native, Mary current lives in Baltimore. You can reach her at her website at mldoyleauthor.com.

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When a book idea strikes

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Monday musings on new ideas for books

By M.L. Doyle

It never fails. I usually get hit with the good idea stick when I’m at my desk … at my day job.

Like most indie authors, I don’t make millions writing books (don’t I wish), so I have to earn a living doing something not as fun or as cool or as fulfilling as writing books. Ah well.

That said, it’s at the job where I actually earn a living that I get ideas for the job that isn’t responsible for putting food on the table. I’ve never asked, but I’m guessing my real employer wouldn’t be too happy with me dashing off a chapter or two while I’m supposed to be doing what I get paid to do.

It’s frustrating as hell.

Between having the first two books in my Desert Goddess series made into audio books, I’m sketching out ideas for book three. I’d been rolling a bunch of ideas around but hadn’t really landed on anything that was worthy of a jumping-off point. Until, off course, I got to work.

It felt as if, as soon as I booted up my computer, opened Outlook and started scanning through the piles of emails that would govern my day, that Hester, Gilgamesh, Sarah, Reuben, Quincy, Rashid and everyone else in my made-up world, demanded my attention. The opening scene unfolded. The emotion and atmosphere made themselves real. I could hear Hester in my head and the new character that will make his debut in this book, finally became a solid, fleshed-out human. For the first time, I could see his thoughts, could feel his fatigue, his hunger and confusion. He finally took shape and I knew exactly how I would make him work.

I grabbed a post-it pad, scribbled a quick tease of the ideas, and stuck them in a notebook. Throughout the morning, between meetings, phone calls, discussions with colleagues, I kept scribbling ideas and setting them aside for later. By the end of the day, I had a decent stack.

Photo by Startaê Team on Unsplash

At home, I spent some time sticking the post-its to the wall, moved them around, tried to build a bit of a timeline. There is still a lot of work to do plot-wise, but I’m finding the sticky note method works for me.

Once I sat down to write, I flew through the words that tied all of those ideas together. Chapters one and two were done in a flash.

Writing and my day job, for obvious reasons, have to be separate, but I’ve yet to figure out how to tell my brain to stop firing when I get to the office. I’m not even going to try.

M.L. Doyle

calls on her years of serving as an Army Reservist to write about women in combat boots. She co-authored the memoirs of two brave soldiers to ensure their stories keep their proper place in history. Her work with Spec. (Ret) Shoshana Johnson, an African-American POW of the Iraq War, was finalist in the NAACP Image Award. She also co-authored with Brig. Gen (Ret.) Julia Cleckley the story of her rise through Army ranks from humble beginnings and despite great personal tragedy.

Mary has written the three-book Master Sergeant Harper mystery series, and Limited Partnerships, a four-novella erotic romance series. Her latest release, The Bonding Blade, is the second book in her Desert Goddess urban fantasy series.

Mary’s essays, reviews and interviews have appeared in The War Horse, The Wrath-Bearing Tree, The Goodman project and O-Dark Thirty.

Check her out on Facebook.com, or Twitter @mldoyleauthor, and you can read excerpts of all of her work on her website at www.mldoyleauthor.co

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Why I write, and the role of Resistance

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Monday musings by bestselling author

Toby Neal

Photo by Cathryn Lavery on Unsplash

I write because I have to. I write because I’m driven to.

Sub-reasons exist: I write because it helps me know what I know. I process my life experiences and understand them better through writing. I write because I’m a born storyteller who loves both reading and writing. I write because I have stories banging around in my head that want to be let out.

I wish there were a prettier answer, something philosophical or otherwise groovy—there isn’t. Here it is: I write because I’m driven to.

And yet, I spent many years—most of my life, in fact—NOT writing. Living in a half-light, half-life filled with many worthy activities masquerading as purpose, like working at a meaningful career, marriage, keeping house, raising kids. I even did a three-year Master’s Degree to avoid doing the writing I was called to.

How can this be, when I’ve always been driven to write? In a word: resistance.

Steven Pressfield’s cult classic book, The War of Art, is a vital expose of this pernicious influence. This slim tome is written in small, dense, intense nuggets, as if Pressfield had his hands full just discharging the vital one-paragraph bullets that expose the battle against Resistance. “Resistance cannot be seen, touched, heard, or smelled. But it can be felt. We experience it as an energy field radiating from any work-in-potential. It’s a negative repelling force. Its aim is to shove us away, distract us, prevent us from doing our work.”

You must, if you want to write, overcome Resistance. I finally did, by outwitting it. When I was forty and the lies about what I was supposed to be doing instead of writing began to unravel, I started an anonymous blog on LiveJournal and entered little writing contests. I wasn’t actually committing to anything; no one knew me there. I allowed the thoughts, the fear of failure, of mockery of broken dreams to swirl around, and I wrote anyway. I endured the mental battle against writing, without overtly resisting it. For me, Resistance is bested through a sort mental tai chi, interspersed with plain old stubbornness and refusal to give up. I eventually outwitted it enough to complete my first book. And then another, and another, and another.

Photo by Danielle Cerullo on Unsplash

Want to know what Resistance sounds like, even for someone who makes a six-figure annual income from writing and has won numerous awards?

I put my pen to paper and asked for a quote for this article from Resistance, and it obliged swiftly with this creativity-killing missile:

“You’re a shitty writer. Always have been. All those grandiose ideas about your talent when you were a kid? Ridiculous. You’ll never amount to anything. Show some dignity! If you couldn’t write when you were younger, what makes you imagine you can do it when you’re fifty-five?” (I just celebrated this dubious milestone.)

The cruel, vituperative tone of Resistance is unmistakable, and it pisses me off. For thirty years, I let Resistance keep me down, sprinkled with excuses and distractions like marriage, work, and raising kids—but in spite of that foul voice in my head, I’ve persevered in my writing until I know I’m at least decent, no matter what Resistance tells me.

Are you a writer or other creative? Get smart and find a way to outwit Resistance. Your calling is waiting for you—and thirty-plus books later, I’m glad I keep fighting the good fight to do my writing.

Toby Neal

Toby Neal, mystery, thriller, romance and autobiography

Award-winning, USA Today bestselling social worker turned author Toby Neal grew up on the island of Kaua`i in Hawaii. Neal is a mental health therapist, a career that has informed the depth and complexity of the characters in her stories. Neal’s mysteries and thrillers explore the crimes and issues of Hawaii from the bottom of the ocean to the top of volcanoes. Fans call her stories, “Immersive, addicting, and the next best thing to being there.”

Neal also pens romance, romantic thrillers, and writes memoir/nonfiction under TW Neal.

 Visit her on her:

And follow her on Twitter @TobywNeal.

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Thursday teaser: Freckled

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A Memoir of Growing Up Wild in Hawaii

By Toby Neal

At preschool I heard the ladies talking about ESP. There are two kinds of ESP: the kind where you hear other people’s thoughts, and the kind where people can make other people do what they want just with their thoughts. 

I always listen to grownups so I can know things— “Elephant ears” Mom calls me. Grandma Gigi, Pop’s mom, believes in ESP too. “I can tell when you’re thinking about me, so that’s when I call,” Gigi says. She does usually call when we need something, and I love when her packages come in the mail, even though Pop grumbles that I’m getting spoiled.

I want to have the make-people-do-stuff kind of ESP.

We’re at dinner, and the sun has gone down behind the ocean. I can hear the surf outside; it’s coming up bigger with a shushing sound.

“Should be good tomorrow,” Pop says, sipping his beer. Because my dad’s a surfer, we always pay attention to what the surf is doing and the weather conditions. There’s “onshore,” which means the wind is in my face off the ocean and that’s bad for surf—I don’t really know why. Then there’s “offshore,” which is best to make the waves good, and “Konas,” which means the wind is light and from the side. 

Mom is sitting between Pop and me. Her tummy is super big, almost touching the table, and she’s wearing her favorite blue muumuu that she sewed herself. There are some oven-baked fries, special because they are not goodforyou, and fish Pop caught, and Mom’s salad with bean sprouts. We have white plates with a flower border, a milk bottle filled with daisies, Mom’s favorite flower, and everything is pretty and good.

Even after he smoked today, Pop was still grumpy. I can see how he’s feeling like a black cloud over his head. Bad things can happen when I make him mad, and I do that a lot because I’m noisy and too bouncy. I’m always trying to get him to like me and see that I’m smart and can do things as good as a boy. Because I was supposed to be a boy and be named James Theodore the Third. 

Mom and Pop didn’t know what to call me when I was a girl, so they named me Toby after the redheaded boy who runs away to the circus in a movie Mom watched at the hospital. I have no middle name because “when you’re old enough, you can choose your own middle name.” This worries me. How do I pick the right name? I wish I could just be named James Theodore the Third, even if I am a redheaded girl.

Maybe I can make Pop do something with ESP. 

PICK UP THE KETCHUP, I think. PICK UP THE KETCHUP. PICK UP THE KETCHUP. 

Pop looks up at me. His green eyes have red around them. The overhead light shines on his curling blond hair, going thin at the top. I stare at him, my lips moving, as I think as hard as I can—PICK UP THE KETCHUP.

“What are you looking at?” His voice is a low thunder sound. He narrows his eyes. I don’t look away or answer. He’s going to PICK UP THE KETCHUP any second now. I just know it!

“Stop staring at me.” Pop gets louder and seems to swell.

I can tell how mad he’s getting, but I stare until my eyes hurt because I can feel it almost working—he’s going to hear me any minute now. I don’t blink. I want to be scary: eyes wide, mouth tight, staring hard as I think PICK UP THE KETCHUP. I will make him do what I want!

“I said stop looking at me, disrespectful little brat!” He stands up and his chair flies back and lands on the linoleum with a thud. He’s enormous. 

My mom makes fluttery noises, but it’s too late. Roaring something I don’t hear, he comes around the table and whips me off the chair by my hair. I crash onto the floor and hold onto my head and use my legs to hold myself up, trying to keep from being dragged—it hurts so bad, as he hauls me down the hall, but I won’t cry. I’m stubborn like that. I’m not afraid of pain.

I’m still thinking, PICK UP THE KETCHUP. Like it’s going to save me. Like he can hear me.

But he doesn’t. 

**Download Freckled and continue reading now!**

🌺 Amazon US fb: tobyneal.net/Frfb
🌴 iBooks: tobyneal.net/Frib
🌺 Barnes & Noble: tobyneal.net/Frbn
🌴 Kobo: tobyneal.net/Frko
🌺 Google Play: tobyneal.net/Frgp
🌴 Paperback: tobyneal.net/Frppbk

Freckled

For fans of The Glass Castle and Educated, comes mystery author Toby Neal’s personal story of surviving a wild childhood in paradise.

We never call it homeless. We’re just “camping” in the jungle on Kauai…

We live in a place everyone calls paradise. Sure, Kauai’s beautiful, with empty beaches, drip-castle mountains, and perfect surf…but we’ve been “camping” for six months, eating boiled chicken feed for breakfast, and wearing camouflage clothes so no one sees us trespassing in our jungle hideout. The cockroaches leave rainbow colors all over everything from eating the crayons we left outside the tent, and now a tractor is coming to scrape our camp into the river.

Standing in front of the tent in my nightgown, clinging to my sister as we face the tractor, I know my own truth: I just want to be normal.

But Mom and Pop are addicted.

Addicted to Kauai’s beauty, to drugs, to surfing, to living a life according to their own rules out from under their high-achieving parents’ judgmental eyes. I’m just their red-headed, mouthy, oldest kid. What I want doesn’t matter.

But I’m smart. I will make a different life for myself someday if I keep up my grades no matter what happens.

No matter how often we run out of food.

No matter how many times I change schools…or don’t go to school at all.

No matter how many bullies beat me up for the color of my skin.

I might be growing up wild in Hawaii, but I have dreams I’m going to reach, no matter how crazy things get.

Toby Neal

Award-winning, USA Today bestselling social worker turned author Toby Neal grew up on the island of Kaua`i in Hawaii. Neal is a mental health therapist, a career that has informed the depth and complexity of the characters in her stories. Neal’s mysteries and thrillers explore the crimes and issues of Hawaii from the bottom of the ocean to the top of volcanoes. Fans call her stories, “Immersive, addicting, and the next best thing to being there.”

Neal also pens romance, romantic thrillers, and writes memoir/nonfiction under TW Neal.

 Visit her on her:

And follow her on Twitter @TobywNeal.

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Bestseller joins BestSelling Reads: Meet M.L. Doyle

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Bestselling and award-winning author M.L. Doyle has joined the ranks of BestSelling Reads.

Mary Doyle is the author of two memoirs, three mystery novels, a four-novella erotic romance series, and the first of a series of urban fantasy novels. Her first novel, The Peacekeeper’s Photograph, won the Carey McCray Memorial Literary Award for best unpublished novel from the South Carolina Writer’s Workshop. It has since been published and received consistent five-star reviews.

“When I published my first book in 2010, I thought writing was a solitary thing. It’s still up to me alone to put words on the page, but I’ve learned that working within a writing community means you can find the support you need when you need it,” she says. “I know and have worked with many of the authors in BestSelling Reads already and I am honored to be invited to join such a talented group.”

Mary Doyle’s first book was as the co-author of  I’m Still Standing: From Captive Soldier to free citizen—my journey home (2010, Touchstone) which chronicles the story of Spec. (Ret.) Shoshana Johnson, a member of the 507th Maintenance Company who was captured during an ambush and held prisoner in the early days of the Iraq War. The book was nominated for a 2011 NAACP Image Award in the literary category for best Autobiography/biography, a year in which the category included books about Nelson Mandela, Jay Z and Ray Charles.

Mary has also co-authored another military memoir. A Promise Fulfilled, My life as a Wife and Mother, Soldier and General Officer tells the compelling story of Brigadier General (retired) Julia Cleckley, the first African-American female general of the line in the U.S. Army National Guard. The book chronicles Cleckley’s journey from joining the Women’s Army Corps, to a position of power wearing the star of a military general. The story details her journey to success while facing the most devastating losses a woman can endure: the loss of a husband and of a child.

Originally from Minnesota, Mary Doyle served almost two decades in the Army Reserve. She was stationed in Germany, Korea and the U.S., and her career took her from Central America, the Middle East, and across western and eastern Europe.

She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in broadcast communications from Metropolitan State University and a Master of Arts in International Relations from the University of Oklahoma.

The Peacekeeper’s Photograph was planned as the first in a trilogy that now includes The Sapper’s Plot and The General’s Ambition, both featuring Master Sergeant Lauren Harper. But experience has shown that Mary isn’t done with writing about Master Sergeant Harper and her British companion, Sergeant Major Harry Fogg. Mary has written companion short stories, The Ceremony and Canceled Plans. She is planning a fourth and perhaps a fifth book in the series.

Mary’s adult romance series is called Limited Partnerships. It comprises Part I – Charlie, Part II – Luke, Part III – Wolf and Part IV – Derek, are available as individual ebooks format and as the Limited Partnerships Omnibus in ebook and paperback.

Her current project is a second novel in her Desert Goddess urban fantasy series that began with The Bonding Spell (2015). “I’ve been working on The Bonding Blade for a couple of years and I can’t wait to release it to the world,” she says. “It’s the second book in the Desert Goddess series aand I think it moves the story in a whole new direction. Ever since I released The Bonding Spell, my readers have been clamoring for the next book. I’m so happy to be closer to delivering it and can now promise that I’ll announce a release date by very soon.”

Mary loves to hear from readers. Find out more about her and her books on her BestSelling Reads Author page; check her out on Facebook.com/mldoyleauthor, or Twitter @mldoyleauthor.

You can read excerpts of all of her work on her website, www.mldoyleauthor.com.

 

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Win-A-Book Wednesday: Broken Places

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By Rachel Thompson

FINAL FINAL BROKEN Places COVER  (1)

 

Win a free copy of Broken Places, Rachel Thompson’s acclaimed memoir, just by leaving a comment below.

About Broken Places

Within one week of its release in January 2015, Broken Places, reached the Top Five in Women’s Poetry and #1 on Amazon’s Hot Releases List. Thompson courageously confronts the topics of sexual abuse and suicide, love and healing, in her second nonfiction book of prose and poetry (her fourth book overall). The author bares her soul in essays, poems and prose, addressing life’s most difficult topics with honesty. As you follow one woman’s journey through the dark and into the light, you will find yourself forever changed.

“A stellar achievement” — Tracy Riva (Top Amazon Reviewer, Tracy Riva Reviews) 

About the author

Rachel Thompson copyRachel Thompson is the author of newly released Broken Places and the award-winning Broken Pieces, as well as two additional humor books, A Walk In The Snark and Mancode: Exposed. Rachel is published and represented by Booktrope. She owns BadRedhead Media, creating effective social media and book marketing campaigns for authors. For affordable group sessions check out Author Social Media Boot Camp, monthly sessions to help all authors! Her articles appear regularly in The Huffington PostThe San Francisco Book Review (BadRedhead Says…), 12Most.com, bitrebels.com, BookPromotion.com, and Self-Publishers Monthly.

Not just an advocate for sexual abuse suvivors, Rachel is the creator and founder of the hashtag phenom #MondayBlogs and the live Twitter chat, #SexAbuseChat, cohosted with certified therapist/survivor, Bobbi Parish.

She hates walks in the rain, running out of coffee, and coconut. She lives in California with her family.

Visit her:

Connect with Rachel Thompson on:

Read her:

And follow Rachel on Twitter Twitter @RachelintheOC
and her consulting business  @BadRedheadMedia.

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