Book covers, what pulls a readers eye
Thoughts / March 31, 2015

Last Year I was doing a search to see how often our latest book showed up on a web search and discovered a not so nice critique. It wasn’t about the story within the book but the cover. My nose was out of joint for a short while, I put a lot of work into the cover, but, then I thought about it. If the cover was so bad as to make it to a blog about “Worst Book Covers” it needed to be changed. The idea is not to put off the reader by the cover but to invite the reader. We like to put a small blurb on the front about the book. Too much was given away on the original cover so even that had to be rewritten. Original cover                                                                                 To this As you can see there was a dramatic change. Did it make a difference in what a person picking up the book will think. I really do not know. Does a book cover really make a difference. According to many blogs, the answer is yes. My ego aside, it…

A Question On How Big To Be.
Thoughts / May 17, 2014

I was asked the question, the other day. “How big (word count) should chapters be?” and this implied “How big (word count) should the story be?” Also implied would be, “How many chapters should there be?” My answer was/is, roughly, when the story is told, then you have the word count for story, chapters, and the number of chapters. My opinion is that a story should have a beginning, middle, big scene, and end. Each chapter that helps lead you in that direction should have the same, beginning, middle, big scene, end. I have read books that had some short chapters, and I think I remember, there was this one story that only had a one page chapter. Then there were stories that had chapters that could have been stand-a-lone books. I know an author that shoots for 100k for his books, not sure what his goal for chapters is. I have taken and split a large chapter into 2, since it seemed to add to the overall effect. I have also gone in and combined 2 chapters into one, again, because it seemed to add to the overall effect of the story. Of course there are probably rules for…

Welcome Robert Stanek
Thoughts / February 10, 2014

We are pleased today to welcome Robert Stanek as a guest on our blog. Robert Stanek is not only the talented author of more than 150 books for adults and children but someone who has been helping other writers ever since his first book was published in 1995. Back in the early days of the Web, Robert created Writer’s Gallery, Internet Job Center and Internet Daily News to help other writers (archives at These days Robert helps other writers by hosting some terrific writers groups, by blogging about writing-related topics, and through his Read Indie tweets on twitter. On Facebook, Robert Stanek hosts one of the more popular groups for getting the word out about your promotions and free offerings. It’s called “Free Today” and you’ll find the group at…. On Twitter, you can tweet using the hashtag #freetoday as another way to spread the word about your promotions and freebies. Go Indie ( is another terrific group for writers that Robert hosts on Facebook. Go Indie is a group dedicated to promoting indie authors, indie books, and indie booksellers. On Twitter, you can also use hashtag #goindie to spread the word about your books. On, Robert…

Book Announcement
Thoughts , Updates / July 15, 2013

Hear ye, Hear ye, A Book Announcement is ready to be made.   We would like to announce the fourth book of the Demesne YA fantasy series “The Challenge” is now live on and e-book for your favorite device.  Short synopsis of “The Challenge”    Montiack invokes the Matriarch Challenge, a deadly duel on dragon back. The first obstacle for Jira is to find a dragon from her own clan as her dragon mount. Her connection to the valley and to the crystal, and any help from her friends Aithera and Devon is forbidden by the First Matriarch, and any interference will be met by instant death. Links to this and the first three books of course can be found on our book site For more information about our books please feel free to contact Steven Swem at We are and independent self publishing team. We hope you enjoy our stories.

Going With The Flow
Thoughts / May 19, 2013

Chapter 15 out of 21 chapters, is off to the editor. The current project is right on track. What? Huh? Just what do you think you’re up to? Are you really sending off just one chapter at a time to the editor? Are you nuts? This might be what some are thinking, if they are following my entries in my face book fan page. So what am I up to? Why not wait and send the whole manuscript to the editor? Well, let me splane the madness. Pst, pst; that was intentional. We work at it and work at it, and finally we think we have the story, from start to finish. Now back to the beginning. We throughly go through the first 3 chapters and eventually call it good. Then we notify the editor and when she is ready we send off the first chapter with synopsis of the story, chapter by chapter. This starts the editing process of sending and receiving chapters. This does 2 things. It imposes a deadline: We know that we will be getting a chapter back, so we have to have another chapter ready to go out to editing. If we are not ready,…

So What is Next?
Thoughts / May 4, 2013

So what is next up, now that ‘The Challenge’ is getting closer to completion. I really don’t know. There is ‘Devon’ waiting in the wings, and I have 11 other concepts with at least a rough draft of the rough outline of the rough idea. So what is next. The Merlin like story? One of a couple of space adventures? Maybe the underwater/spy/save the world like story? Some would say, that, Devon should be next, if that is his story, and picks up where ‘The Challenge’ leaves off. Which it does, and which it is. Even though I try to stay clear of it, some things just sneaked in. I have tried and tried to stay away from Devon. There is more to his story then the character in the story. He is the character that started this roller coaster, oh so very long ago, and neither he nor I could have guessed, that what was developing, was ever going to be told. Shawna, created and operated by the better half, Deeitras, and another (who, out of respect will remain nameless), were the primary developers for helping to create Devon. Yes, there was a real personality behind Shawna, and a…

Editors and Beta readers
Thoughts / February 22, 2013

Are Editors and Beta readers helpful? Most say that editors are a necessity and I fully agree with that. If not for spell & grammar checking software, I wouldn’t even consider doing this writing thing. Then there is my editor. Must have! Mine lets me know if I start using one word or phrase too much, tells me when I need to do some more research into this English language thing. And then she adds just a little touch here and there, that, most of the time adds to the scene. Sometimes I don’t agree, and change it. I would never consider sending my editor a rough draft or first draft, that would be cruel. I do the best I can, and when I think I have gotten it good enough, then I send it on. I don’t know if this is normal or not, but I send my work, one chapter at a time to my editor, trying to have a chapter ahead of the one she is working on, in her mailbox. I know a few writers that send the whole manuscript, and wait for the editor to get done with it. I like this chapter at a…

Keeping Characters in Character
Thoughts / February 2, 2013

We are in the editing phase of the 4th story and I was taking a break. A train of thought came to me about the characters in the series. On how much a stickler I am about the character being who they are. Huh? You might say. Well let me get on my soap box. Maybe it stems from my gaming days or maybe it is just me, but, when I am going through a re-read of a chapter, one thing I try to keep in mind, is the character acting properly. Does the character maintain the core personality that developed. Are they reacting the way they should or have I given them traits from someone else. Are they walking, talking, reacting and feeling things, the way that their character should. There has been a time or two when I stop and ask. “would Aithera really do something like that?”, “is Beth talking better then a child of that age?”, “should Jira be scared or concerned, or would she be more able to handle the situation by now?”, “would Aithera wear pants here or would her penchant for skirts or gowns be better?”, “what would Jira be thinking of at…

The Next Big Thing
Thoughts / December 20, 2012

The Next Big Thing is a questionnaire going around the author community. Diana Anderson tagged us, so now it is our turn. Participants answer, and then tag five more authors to participate. Our answers are short, this will apeal to some and others may want more. Feel free to ask for more. What do you want to know? 1. What is the working title of your next book?   Demesne’ Challenge – this is the fourth in the series 2. Where did the idea come from for the book? A comment was made about a couple of characters, and that got us to thinking how we could do it. An idea formed and expanded from that. 3. What genre does your book fall under? Fantasy Fiction 4. What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition? This one is tough. There are so many good personalities that would fit. 5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? A challenge is issued, and accepted. The results changes the lives of more than the combatants. 6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? Self-Published 7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript? We…

A blog about blogs
Thoughts / October 28, 2012

Ok, I was sitting here writing my last blog and was thinking, do I send this off to the editor to have a look see? NO! And I know some out there in media land would say, “You are a fool, you have to have your blog edited. How are you going to be taken as a serious author if your blog is “grammatically full of errors.” Well guess what, I have some good spell checking programs that do a pretty good job of telling me my grammar sucks. As well as my spelling. If I were to have my blogs checked, re-checked, and checked again. Then it would be other people’s work and not my work. Oh, the overall concept would be mine, but the wording would be changed to fit into what is considered the norm or “the professional look.” I may be old, but I do not live in the past. This is the 21 first century. A lot of the “norms” that “those in the know” like to tout, are governed by concepts and rules that have not changed in a hundred years. Sorry folks, I do not ride a horse to get to the next…