Wednesday Writing Warriors: G. Dean Manuel

It’s been some time since I’ve been able to post a Wednesday Writing Warrior, but today I would like to introduce G. Dean Manuel! He has also allowed me to post a bit of his work, which you can find below the interview.

TSW: Tell us a bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

Manuel: I’ve been into writing since the 3rd grade. I remember writing a really derivative piece called “A Unicorn Day” that was totally taken from “The Last Unicorn”. Couldn’t stop me after that.

TSW: In which genre do you classify your writing?

Manuel: I’m most certainly Fantasy. And Sci-Fi. Ooooo… Dramatic Fiction also. Wait, wait… Comedy. One second: Slipstream! If you can’t tell, I don’t narrow down. I’m a multi-genre writer and I like it that way. :)

TSW: What books/short stories/novellas/poetry have you published, or what projects are you working on?

Manuel: Well, so far I’ve only published The Tommy Case Files #001: The Dollhouse. Now, there are many things that I give away for free or publish on various websites. Stories like The Twilighman (That also stars Tommy Twilight), Laundry Knights (Also starring Tommy), The Fall of Lord Covington (You gues—actually you didn’t, it’s about a teddy bear).

I’ve got several stories currently sent in to some anthologies. I’ve got a couple that have been accepted. My story, “Grandfather” will appear in Heart of a Child, releasing in March. Another story, “The King’s Road”, will be featured in Unsheathed, releasing in spring. Also you can find my story, “Bounty: Greed”, a Weird West story, featured in the sixth issue of Gathering Storm magazine.

I’m also working on a super-hero fiction called The Crucible, a slipstream story called Lost and Broken, and a supernatural serial killer story called The Shadow Man’s Acoming.

TSW: What is your favorite writing resource, be it a book, website, program…?

Manuel: … This is a super secret, awesome website. IT TRANSLATES ENGLISH INTO A SCOTTSMAN’S SLANG!!!

TSW: Are you a plotter or pantser?

Manuel: I am a pantser when it comes to writing short stories. I’ve recently become a plotter when it comes to novel length work.

TSW: Can you give us a glimpse into your writing routine?

Manuel: I start with a concept. Something usually very basic. Like what if your psyche was broke down to its component pieces. Then I figure out some characters. Then I let them talk inside my head. They discuss, argue, and laugh. Somewhere in the middle of all that, a story starts to present itself.

One of my favorite characters, that I’ve written, this is a total aside, is a character named Wanderer. Total Pony Express cowboy. Talks about his mammy. Just hold a sec, I’ll get you an excerpt. Ok, back. You didn’t notice, but that took a while. Two deliveries (One food, the other furniture) and a hungry dog later, here is the excerpt from Lost and Broken:

The Wanderer snatched his hat off his head and gave a hoot, slapping the hat on his knee and guffawing scratchily. “Well, did you think the Wanderer is the name my mama came up with? It’s just what the locals call me. I lost my name long ago. I had a mighty sadness take over me for a while until I remembered something my Mammy told me: A name ain’t nothin’ but some dern fool stringin’ together some letters to make some sounds and expectin’ you to answer to it. I reckon if’n you start answerin’ to some other string a letters that make a different bit a noise, then that’ll be yer name. So, I started answering to the Wanderer.”

“But a name is more than that,” he said, searching for the proper words, “it is a shield against the world.”

“Well, that is a mighty poor shield you be havin’ then,” the Wanderer said.

“No, it isn’t a shield,” the soldier said frustrated, “it is who you are, a name identifies you to everyone else.”

“Who you are, you say?” the Wanderer said with a lopsided grin, “so if I named you a dern fool of a pole cat at the beginning of yer life, would you be a fool the rest of your life? Sounds more like a prison cell than anything else! Be glad ya lost yer name that way’d you’d be free!”

TSW: What do you find to be the hardest part about writing?

Manuel: Different things at different times. I don’t find anything hard all the time. Sometimes the characters just aren’t talking. Sometimes they sing. Sometimes it is the plot. Or the setting. Everything at one time or another is difficult.

TSW: What’s the first book that made you cry?

Manuel: Dragons of Spring Dawning. Dragonlance. Flint Fireforge’s death.

TSW: What does success look like to you?

Manuel: That scene in Rocky where he makes it up the steps and is standing there with his hands in the air.

TSW: Are there any writers who inspire you?

Manuel: ... Lots. Tad Williams, Kevin Hearne, Sara Dougglas, R A Salvatore. That is to name a few.

TSW: What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned on your journey as a writer?

Manuel: That not everyone is going to like you a 100% of the time. That you are doing good if people like you 25% of the time. Hell, if you can get them to like you 50% of the time, then you are doing something amazing.

About Greg Manuel:
I don’t think there is much else I can say about myself… who am I kidding, I could go on and on. But I won’t. Want to find me? You can find me on:
Facebook: @Deantheblogger

Twitter: @courtjester005



And now for some of Greg Manuel’s work:

“You’re Beautiful”

She’s barely thirteen with all of life ahead,

Barely at the beginning, she wants it all to end,

Looking in the mirror, not a kind word ever said,

Young girl, a little confidence I want to send,

She seeing with eyes the world has pulled apart,

Can’t tell she’s beautiful, never knows she’s beautiful,

The world just criticizes and leaves a hole not a heart,

It’s our fault she doesn’t see she’s beautiful, it’s inexcusable.


Let me catch you before the tears can start,

don’t even know yourself, how can you hate who you are?

So take  these words and let them find your heart,

Know you’re beautiful, beautiful like a star.


Jump forward and now she’s eighteen,

Sees the world through a mask of jealousy,

Can’t love herself and that’s obscene,

life falling within her entropy,

Never sees her worth, she lives in spite,

Tears others down but it never brings her up,

Young lady, you’re beautiful, don’t lose the fight,

now‘s the time to stand up


Let me catch you before the tears can start,

don’t even know yourself, how can you hate who you are?

So take  these words and let them find your heart,

Know you’re beautiful, beautiful like a star.


Mid-twenties, she’s at the bottom of the glass,

Sex is a tool, because she can’t start forgiving,,

Found a man but he’s nothing but an ass,

He’s punishment, she’s never started living,

Unhappy, sick, bound by the weight of hate,

lost her voice to life constrained in depression,

Believe you’re beautiful, it isn’t too late,

Say it, let that be your confession.


Let me catch you before the tears can start,

don’t even know yourself, how can you hate who you are?

So take  these words and let them find your heart,

Know you’re beautiful, beautiful like a star.


Thirties now and she’s finally found herself,

Put all the bad thoughts high up on the shelf,

A mother now, she loves everything she is,

She’s found someone and now she’s his,

A little daughter, now she is dutiful,

Please, remind her she’s beautiful.



Also, here’s a snippet of a short story, “The Heist”, about his character Vincent Fleet: 

Vincent Fleet, the title character of this story, is someone near and dear to my heart. I know this is crazy to admit, but he was a character of mine for a Living Greyhawk campaign. I tried to capture his essence without combining it with any poor D&D tropes. That being said, I had six long and lovely years of playing this character and couldn’t just let him die. He was the character that had the audacity to light a cigar off a fire god’s leg… you can’t let balls like that die. I hope you enjoy and thank you for the read! This story is part of a story exchange, Truly Hunter has written one of her own, “Tempest Moon”, that will be appearing in my blog. Hope over and give it a read!  

                                                                                                          –G Dean Manuel


He clung to the wall with the barest of handholds, his strong fingers supporting most of his weight. He looked down, his violet eyes scanning the area quickly and carefully. He was happy to note that not even a tremor of discomfort passed through the muscles of his arms at having to hold him suspended in such an awkward position. That meant that his latest acquisition, the platinum bands that encircled his upper arms with delicate traceries of bulls and bears, had been worth the king’s pieces he had paid for them.

After a few moments he was satisfied that no traps, trips, or alarms would impede his way down the wall. He struck a nimble course down the wall, swinging from handhold to handhold in a rather rakish manner. When he was about 8 ft. above the floor, he pushed off the wall with the balls of his feet, tucking his knees in and twisting. He landed on the floor without even a whisper of sound, the soft soles of his leather boots absorbing all of it. He sketched a court-like bow, waving at an imaginary audience. Sometimes, just sometimes, he wished someone was around to enjoy the skill with which he did things.

Shaking off such unhealthy ruminations he focused back on to the task at hand. Such thinking got thieves caught, he thought darkly. Though, he mused as he glanced up the almost 40 ft. to the window he had climbed from, he was a maestro at work here. He let a warm sense of pride suffuse him as he pondered how easily he had scaled the outer keep walls, the inner curtain walls, the keep walls, and then down the walls of this great hall. He had won his way through to the great hall of this slumbering keep without alerting a single guard, dog, or whatever other manner of creature the keep’s residents may employ.

Of course, it wasn’t really pride he felt, he admitted to himself as he exited the hall, carefully dipping from shadow to shadow, drawing the hood of his cloak up. His cloak seemed to match the quality and depth of the surrounding shadow, making him nigh invisible to any but the closest of inspections. Not that most of the big races would have even noticed him even if he wasn’t cloaked in shadows. Vincent barely stood 3’2”, and most big races, especially humans, ever looked that far down. Hell, he had seen 70 winters pass, give or take, and still most acted as if he was a child! Of course, hardly anyone got to see him as he looked now, he thought with a smile. His body was festooned with a horde of magically enhanced equipment, worth more than most kingly treasure rooms. That is not to say that he was some charlatan, only boosted to his level of skill through the use of magical enhancement! Far from it. As a young lad, he was taught to use every advantage open to him, and his skills had afforded him many advantages over his 70 years!

Besides the boots and cloak, he wore black woolen pantaloons that were tucked into his soft leather boots. A black silk shirt and spidersilk gloves hid the rest of him from view, his head concealed by the shadowed recess of his hood. His eerily violet eyes seemed to float within a pool of blackness. As he made his way down from the great hall, he started mentally going over the map in his head. He knew that the room that he wanted was very close, that is part of the reason he had chosen this entry point. He walked briskly down the hallway, making two quick turns then stopped abruptly, the hairs in the back of his neck standing on edge. He didn’t immediately see what had put him on alert but he had been doing this too long to ignore such a feeling. He stood frozen as if made of stone, his only movement the slight adjustments of his head as he scanned the walls, floor, and ceiling. He looked around warily as his initial sweep of the area produced nothing that would have warranted this feeling of unease. He was about to chalk it up to one of those times that his senses were in overdrive when a shadow caught his eye. It wasn’t that it was out of place, more that it was too big. As he studied he noted that shadow was deeper towards its end rather than its beginning. He closed his eyes, letting his vision slip into the spectrum that allowed him to pierce the darkness with ease, revealing the tight packed sigils of the ward that was inscribed within the wall. He studied it carefully, not yet moving until he had ascertained that it would be set off by him breaking the line that it drew across the hallway.

Now, most thieves were trained in the basics of lockpicking and trap disarming by their local guild. Now few individuals ever took it beyond there, most content to be pick pockets rather than second story men. Few were the elite thieves that could deal with all the mechanical traps that seemed to proliferate in this modern age. (Vincent naturally blamed the gnomes, but then Vincent seemed to blame the gnomes for most things these days. Not that this time he was far from the truth, for the gnomes of Formaggin’s Hall, the great dwarven hold, were tasked by their dwarven lords to seek better ways to protect the vast treasuries that resided underneath their mountain. But really, Vincent just liked blaming gnomes.) Now, amongst those elite few, only a handful of masters existed that could take apart a magical trap, and among those, Vincent could count on one hand the number that could bypass this trap, leaving no evidence of passage. Of course, Vincent was one of those fingers. Vincent agile hands worked their way across the magical ward, marking without touching the contours of the trap. He closed his eyes, reaching out, feeling the energy contained within the arcane sigils and deftly redirecting their flow. He smiled, opening his eyes once more, to look upon his work. After a moment’s inspection to make sure that there were no other surprises, he shook his head, quietly clucking in disapproval. If they wanted to keep their valuables, why didn’t people protect them better? Of course, he thought, not many were there that were prepared to challenge the likes of Vincent Fleet!

No longer was his step as jaunty as it had been just moments before. He was an extraordinarily skilled, arrogant bastard, but even one of his skill could find himself dead if he did not take things seriously at times. And if that ward upon the wall was any indication, now was one of those times. He began scrutinizing the walls more intently, alert for even the slightest indication of something out of the ordinary. He was slightly disappointed when he realized that the ward probably was the breadth of the powerful defenses that protected this man’s treasure. Sadly, it was a rare occasion when he would be challenged during a heist but luckily he was very deficient in many other parts of his life, so challenges did abound.

He had almost returned to his jaunty pace, seeing the door of his destination when he noticed the slightest shimmer in the air in front of him. He stopped, his cautiousness returning tenfold and examined the corridor he was in. Crossing the corridor, nearly invisible to the naked eye, was a spider web about 6 feet across and almost 10 feet high. Each strand was nearly an inch in width and Vincent had to fight down the rising panic as he calculated the size of the spider that would have spun the web. It wasn’t that he was particularly scared of spiders, but everyone would be scared of spiders the size of a dog, he mused. His hand darted down to the kukri belted at his side, sliding it soundlessly from its sheath. He rolled back his sleeve of his other arm, revealing a bracelet hidden beneath. He spoke an arcane command word under his breath, causing an oval of force to wink into existence, about the rough equivalent of a buckler upon his forearm. Vincent backed away slowly from the web, scanning left to right, up to down, trying to locate the owner of the web. He had begun life as a denizen of the Deep Realms and knew a thing or two about giant spiders and gave a silent prayer to the gods of chance that this one would be of a more mundane variety.

He wheeled quickly, cursing in the same breath that he had just prayed in, instincts honed too perfectly to ignore telling him that the spider was behind him. He groaned inwardly as he watched the spider step from the wall, its body solidifying as it left the protection of the stone. He quickly sheathed the kukri he was holding, knowing it would avail him naught against the likes of a spirit spider, drawing instead a bone bladed dagger that had a slight ethereal shimmer to it. He may not be the most skilled fighter in the boundaries of Witchhaven, but he was certainly one of the better prepared.

The spirit spider eyed him balefully, its long legs clicking upon the stone floor of the hallway. Vincent was almost taken by complete surprise, barely dodging out of the way, as the spider spit a web at him. He rolled into a wary crouch, prepared to launch himself once more if needed but the spider seemed to have grown bored of the game and was closing the distance between them.

Vincent rolled backwards, the spiders forelegs coming down on the spot where he had been. When his hands met cold flagstone, he pushed up, easily springing back to his feet. He immediately lunged forward, dagger held in a reverse grip, his blade biting deep of a foreleg. The limb fell to the ground then dissolved into ethereal nothingness. The spider chittered angrily, shocked that his blow had connected. It existed between two planes, the physical and the spirit, and it took a specially enchanted blade to hit it with any surety.

The spider attacked in wild abandon. Vincent ducked and weaved around the viscous blows. The combat had an eerie surreal quality about it. It took place in almost complete silence. Vincent was barely a whisper on the cold stone and the spider’s pointed legs only made the barest of clicks upon the flagstones. The spider was fast but Vincent was faster. He was patient. The spider finally over extended itself, a reaching blow with its good foreleg. Vincent masterfully flipped over the sweep of the leg, landing silently on his feet.

Vinnie struck, an overhand blow at the second leg, severing it at the joint. The spider’s balance faltered. He didn’t wait for it to recover and kicked out at it. The blow coupled with the loss of its leg caused the spider to tip to the floor. Pressing his advantage, Vincent gripped his dagger in both hands and plunged it into the exposed underside of the spider’s maw. It sank deep. Vincent held it until the death throes of the spider weakened and finally ceased all together. Like the severed limbs, the spider’s body dissolved into a pile of ethereal dust.

Vincent took a moment or two to access his situation. Wounds could be missed in the heat of battle. Adrenaline had a way of hiding pain. Vincent felt confident that no blow had been struck but he liked to be sure. He was wearing a mithral chain shirt with a mithral undershirt. The main piece was elven and the undershirt was dwarven. Each was exquisitely crafted. The elven chain shirt he had won at the tables playing against an elven swordmaster. He had to have it resized but it was worth it. The shirt had saved him more than he cared to admit. The undershirt was a marvel of dwarven craftsmanship. The links were so tiny it was more woven than forged. It had stood between him and a sword blow a time or two too.

With the spider dead, the web had itself disintegrated. Vincent hummed silently to himself. Things were going quite well. He should be done with this job ahead of schedule and be able to catch an ale at the Hooded Lantern, his favorite tavern in the area. Nothing barred his way from there to the door to the treasury room.

He paused and didn’t immediately approach the door. Something didn’t feel right and Vincent knew it wasn’t the time to let his arrogance get the better of him. His keen eyes scanned the area. It took him only a moment to notice what was out of place. There was a carpet laid out in front of the door. Vincent smiled. He imagined that this man had gotten tips on protecting his valuables from a book entitled “How to protect your valuables for idiots”.

He carefully pulled up a corner of the carpet. He stuck his hand underneath and confirmed his suspicions. Pit trap. Vinnie opened his pack and withdrew his climbing kit. He took a couple of spikes from the kit. Strategically placing them along the scene, he tested to make sure that the trap couldn’t be sprung. Once sure, he turned his attention to the door. He closed his eyes and ran his fingers over the door and frame. When his tactile inspection yielded nothing suspicious, he opened his eyes. He gave the door a once over with his eyes then turned to the door lock.

Vinnie snorted. Could it really be this easy? It was an exceedingly difficult lock but not the most difficult he had encountered. Much easier than he expected. He inserted his tension bar into the lock and with a small bit of wire he manipulated the tumblers. He felt them fall, one after another with satisfying clicks, until he finally turned the tension bar and the door released from its frame.

He withdrew his tools and immediately threw himself into a roll left. He was scant inches in front of the blackjack that was arcing towards his head. He twisted in the middle of his roll so that he ended facing his adversary. His hand disappeared within one of the hidden recesses of his cloak and threw the bottle secreted within. The man reacted without thinking and caught the bottle. Vinnie grinned at him and whispered, “Taramos.”

“Dragon’s balls,” the man said as the bottle spewed its noxious contents right at his face. He caught the cloud squarely in the face.

Vincent moved forward and caught the man before he fell boneless to the floor. He was surprised to realize he recognized the man. Valnos of the Blade he was named. A decent second story man and enforcer for the street gang the Nighthowlers. He considered his situation as he retrieved his bottle. He didn’t kill unless absolutely necessary. Besides, the Guild frowned upon such actions. Vinnie satisfied himself by patting the Blade down and retrieving his Guild token. With it, he could extort Valnos for a favor.

He decided he would have to hide the unconscious body. He grabbed Valnos by the arms and drug him to the nearest storage closet. He dumped him unceremoniously within. The potion he had used would keep him unconscious for at least fifteen minutes. Vincent planned to be long gone before he woke up.

Opening the door to the vault room, he made a quick scan of the contents and gave a low, appreciative whistle. He deftly pocketed a few choice gems that he appraised at middling worth. Nothing worth more than 200 king’s pieces. Harder to trace that way. Jewelers tended to recognize gems of a certain value. They ended up with names. Vinnie didn’t need that kind of attention.

He reminded himself that this wasn’t a personal shopping spree. He was hired to breach the treasury of this small keep for a specific item. It was time that he retrieved it. His employer’s instructions were very specific at this point. Just like he was told, there was a trap door in the northwest corner of the room. The door in the floor opened easily when Vincent uttered, “Karnos.” So far, just like he’d been told.

He descended the ladder into a small cave-like vault. These items within were supposedly items of no small arcane power. His instructions at this point were to only retrieve a mask. Remove nothing else. Vinnie located the mask quickly and removed it. It was a small thing, made of some pliable material. It was made to fit over the face, covering eyes and nose. He stuck it in his pack. He abided by the contract and took nothing else. But it was hard. Vinnie’s hand reached out to touch things of its own accord. He mentally reeled it in. Considering this was a vault of magical treasure, he couldn’t be sure what all this stuff did or how dangerous it was. Prudent thing would be to leave it. For now.

So, he climb back up to the now less stellar treasury room. He stole a few more things on his way out, to make himself feel better about leaving the magical hoard downstairs.



Wednesday Writing Warrior: T.G. Campbell

Welcome to another edition of Wednesday Writing Warriors! Today I have crime author T.G. Campbell.

TSW: Tell us a bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

Campbell: I’m the middle child of five and, as we were growing up, it wasn’t uncommon for my siblings and me to watch a crime drama on television with my mother. We would all discuss, and try to figure out, the mystery unfolding on screen. As I grew older, and I’d exhausted the young adult’s section in the local library, my mother introduced me to Agatha Christie’s books. I was hooked from the very first word.

It was Christie’s books, and the many years spent watching police and crime dramas on television, which birthed a dream  in me to become a police officer. Unfortunately, due to various reasons, I was unable to realize this ambition. Rather than dwell on something I couldn’t change though, I decided to turn it into something positive. If I couldn’t be a police officer I’d write about one instead.

My first attempt at writing was actually a series of (short) scripts for a crime drama called the Sunsdale Murders. It featured a broody, female Detective Chief Inspector, called Colette Campbell, at its center. Needless to say, these scrips have never seen the light of day since!

My best friend, Jenny, always had words of encouragement for me whenever I’d produce a new ‘Sunsdale’ script for her to read, however. I wanted to repay her for this unconditional support by writing something especially for her. I also wanted to challenge myself to write a mystery like one of Agatha Christie’s. I therefore borrowed Writing Crime Fiction by H.R.F Keating from my local library, studied the mechanics of the classic detective story which were outlined within, and wrote Death of a Kindred. It was only forty pages long—and featured detectives with ludicrous names—but it was, nonetheless, a complete murder mystery. I presented it to my best friend for her sixteenth birthday—much to her delight—and discovered a newfound addiction for writing mysteries. My friend and I are still best friends to this day and, yes, she still has her copy of Death of a Kindred.
TSW: In which genre do you classify your writing?

Campbell: Primarily crime fiction. My current works are all set in London in 1896 though, which gives me a compulsion to provide as much of an accurate portrayal of the clothes, real-life-places, technologies, etc., as possible.  I want to transport my readers back to the era in addition to challenging them with the puzzle of a good murder mystery. As a result, my writing may also be classed as Victoriana, crime-historical fiction, and historical fiction.
TSW: What books/short stories/novellas/poetry have you published, or what projects are you working on?

Campbell: Currently, I have two published books featuring the Bow Street Society: The Case of The Curious Client and The Case of The Lonesome Lushington. They are volumes one and two, respectively, in a long series I have planned.

There are also three short stories, currently published in eBook format only, which also feature the Bow Street Society. These stories form a sub-series of mini mysteries, designed to be read on the go, called the Bow Street Society Casebook. The aforementioned stories are, in order: The Case of The Shrinking Shopkeeper, The Case of The Winchester Wife, and The Case of The Perilous Pet.

I’m currently working on the third book in the main series—to be published in 2018—and a Bow Street Society Casebook short story collection. The collection will include the published stories above in addition to two, previously unseen, stories. There will also be a ‘notes from the author’ section, explaining the inspiration behind the collection, the real-life historical context of the plots & places, and my reasoning behind the mysteries’ creation. This bonus feature also appears in The Case of The Curious Client’s second edition, and will feature in the forthcoming second edition of The Case of The Lonesome Lushington.

Aside from my fiction writing, I also write a regular, monthly feature for Fresh Lifestyle Magazine. I was invited to write for the online magazine after The Case of The Curious Client won the magazine’s Book Award in April 2017. My feature has covered a wide variety of topics since it begin in May, including the tradition of street food in the Victorian era, Victorian era haircare techniques, and interviews with fellow authors John Bainbridge and Richard Jones. John writes Victorian era-set thrillers, while Richard has written numerous books about the paranormal and conducts regular historical tours and ghost walks around London.

Using some of the material from my extensive research, for my Bow Street Society books, I also wrote a list for Listverse entitled Top 10 Little Known Facts about Victorian Era Scotland Yard.

TSW: What is your favorite writing resource, be it a book, website, program…?

Campbell: The Queen’s London: A Pictorial and Descriptive Record of the streets, buildings, parks and scenery of the great metropolis in the fifty-ninth year of the reign of Her Majesty Queen Victoria by Cassell & Company Limited. It is a vast volume containing photographs of Victorian era London, along with descriptions to accompany each image. The reason why this is my favorite writing resource is because it was published in 1896—the very year my books and short stories are set! This was pure coincidence, but this source has been invaluable when forming a picture of a real-life place for the reader—specifically a picture which is true to the Victorian era incarnation of that place.

I found this source on Lee Jackson’s Victorian Dictionary website. The website itself is a veritable mine of literary and journalistic sources, from the Victorian era, about London.


TSW: Are you a plotter or pantser?

Campbell: I am, without a shadow of a doubt, a plotter. The crime fiction I write follows the classic “clue-puzzle” blueprint of the crime fiction golden age of the 1930s/1940s. Agatha Christie was the Queen of this type of crime fiction. It places as much emphasis on the puzzle, i.e. the mystery, as that which is placed on character development, setting, dialogue etc. It’s very important to me that my readers are able to follow the various clue trails and, in doing so, have the opportunity to solve the mystery. Rather than constantly dupe my readers into believing false information and/or leading them to a false solution, I strive to give my readers enough information so they may make an educated guess by the time they reach the “big reveal”. When the readers’ suspicions are proven right, the reader may be given a tremendous sense of satisfaction and enjoyment from that satisfaction. For me, this is what classic “clue-puzzle” mysteries (or cozy mysteries, as they’re referred to today) are all about.

I therefore have to plan out the mystery for each book/short story I write in order to ensure the reader can follow the trails. It also helps me organize characters’ alibis, red herrings, and the detectives’ journey from problem to solution. For me, the crime scene is the departure point for the reader and detectives alike. From there, I guide them both along various paths in the garden, i.e. the mystery. These paths may converge and separate at various points along the way but, ultimately, they will all flow into one path which leads both the characters and detectives to their final destination—the solution.

TSW: Can you give us a glimpse into your writing routine?

Campbell: I rarely write an entire first draft before I start the next stage of self-editing my work. I used to write an entire first draft and then start to edit it into a second draft but I, honestly, found it too difficult. With the many twists and turns a mystery story may take, I found I couldn’t hold the entire draft within my head while editing it. When I started writing The Case of The Curious Client, I decided to make things easier on myself. I wrote each chapter within its own Microsoft Word file. Within each file I’d write the various sections (or scenes), following my master plan.

After writing the first draft of a scene I would leave it, go away from my computer, think about the scene’s various elements, e.g. character developments, dialogue, descriptions, clues etc., and iron out any inconsistences in my head. When I returned to the computer, I would make the necessary changes. I would keep doing this until I was satisfied it was complete enough for me to move on. A lot of my ‘writing’ is actually done away from the computer and within my own imagination. Even though it sometimes feels like I’m watching a scene from a television program on repeat.

After all the chapters are complete, I put them together and take a day to do a full read through from start to finish. After this, it goes to my Beta Readers, followed by my editor. More editing and tweaking always follows, right up to the point where I hit ‘publish’.

I know a lot of other writers may frown upon my methodology when it comes to my initial drafting but it’s the method that works best for me. Due to the fact I write my chapters in separate files, I don’t keep a running tally of my word count. Actually, I have no idea of what my final word count will be/is until I put all the chapters together into a manuscript. I find keeping track of a word count as restrictive as trying to hold an entire first draft in my head!
TSW: What do you find to be the hardest part about writing?

Campbell: The technical side—that is, formatting. I’m very fortunate to have found an excellent editor in Susan Soares though. She’s taught me a great deal about this side of the process. I think I find the technical side the most difficult because everyone has their own opinion on what it should look like. Style manuals, articles, blogs, vlogs, even Facebook writing groups all have rules on how a page should be laid out and the whole show vs tell debate.

While I do agree quality should always be paramount —and that there is a minimum standard of quality all authors should strive for—I’m reluctant to automatically bow to the ‘rules’ of others simply because “everyone else does it”. Popularity doesn’t always equal quality. I therefore analyze the advice/rules I’m being given and decide if they make sense and/or are something I’ve seen done in traditionally published works. 9 times out of 10 I roll with the advice/rules. The rest of the time, I go with my instincts.

TSW: What does success look like to you?

Campbell: Someone who is so engrossed by my writing they feel the suspense and intrigue, smell the scents of Victorian London’s streets, know each character intimately, and feel a desperate emptiness when they finish reading my book/short story. Even if just one person experiences this while reading my work, I would’ve achieved success.
TSW: Are there any writers who inspire you?

Campbell: Agatha Christie —of course! I’ve also recently discovered the books of John Bainbridge. His Victorian era thrillers, about an avenger called William Quest, keep me on the edge of my seat from start to finish. John’s works don’t get the widespread readership they deserve, which is a shame. I’d recommend the William Quest books to anyone who enjoys action, intrigue, and adventure—even if history and the British Victorian era aren’t their usual go-to topics for their reading material.
TSW: What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned on your journey as a writer?

Campbell: Negative—even brutality harsh—feedback/reviews can be just as important, if not more important, than positive ones. They have the power to guide a writer back onto the right path by helping them identify what’s not working in their writing. Sometimes, pride can blind us to reality. Putting aside our pride and accepting we were wrong—despite our best intentions and hard work—can be the hardest thing to do, especially when you’re an independent writer. If you achieve this though, it can be very enlightening and very rewarding. It will also make you a stronger person and a better writer in the long run. Remember, failure is only an option if you choose it to be.

About T.G. Campbell:

T.G. (Tahnee Georgina) Campbell is the creator of the Bow Street Society—a fictional group of amateur detectives operating in Victorian London in 1896. Each of its civilian members has been enlisted for their unique skills or exceptional knowledge in a particular field, e.g. illusions, architecture, art etc. The Society feature in several published books and short stories. T.G. Campbell also writes a monthly feature for Fresh Lifestyle Magazine, covering a variety of topics from Victorian haircare to street food. She has published Top 10 Little Known Facts about Victorian Era Scotland Yard on Listverse. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature from the University of Winchester (Jane Austen is buried in that town’s cathedral). She’s previously worked for a charity supporting witnesses attending criminal court, and a project assisting current and ex-offenders into paid work or training. She enjoys doing extensive research for her writing, including visiting museums and locations in and around London on a regular basis. She currently lives in a city just outside London with her canary, Tweeps, and an extensive collection of souvenir cups.

Connect with T.G. Campbell at:

Wednesday Writing Warrior: Danae C. Little

I’m happy to have connected with the author behind the amazing story, Finding Home, Danae C. Little!

TSW: Tell us a bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

Little: Being the oldest girl in a large family who also did foster care meant that I had many younger children to help care for and entertain. Creating stories and make-believe scenarios became an enjoyable necessity to keep the little wildlings calm. Also, writing and reading gave me the much needed escape from the chaotic world I lived in.

As I grew older, journaling became the way I coped with my ever-changing life. I would also dream up short stories, children’s books, novels, and poetry. I once craved to be the youngest published novelist!

Dreams may not turn out exactly as we hope, but the dream still exists. With wonderful, encouraging pushes, my friends and local writing group counterparts have blessed me with the confidence to finally do something on a professional level with my writing. Over the last four years I have published several books, journals, and a novelette. My debut novel, Finding Home (released Nov. 28th), is actually my tenth book!
TSW: In which genre do you classify your writing?
Little: As my bio suggests, I live a very eclectic life. I try to touch a bit on all my experiences which is why I have a conglomeration of books including non-fiction, baby journals, marriage journals, and fiction. My fiction normally classifies as romance or literary fiction – romance.


TSW: What books/short stories/novellas/poetry have you published, or what projects are you working on?



Non-fiction:   Carson’s Gifts: A journey through love, loss, and finally hope

Interactive Classroom Management: Interactive Tools


Journals:        Did You Hear That?

Did You See That?

Baby Blessings

Write Your Marriage Back Together (series of 3 guided journals)


Fiction:          Misplaced Love – a novelette

Finding Home (Book 1 of Homestead series) Released Nov. 28th

I am currently working on Book 2 of the Homestead Series as well as a short story from the perspective of a character from that series

For a complete list go to


TSW: What is your favorite writing resource, be it a book, website, program…?

Little: There are so many resources out there! My absolute favorite resource is my local writing group. Without those strong, supportive, and talented women, I would not be where I am today! There are many authors I follow like Jay Boyer who has a long list of resources and gives the best informational trainings including pdf sheets that go along with them! Katelyn Silva and E. Ardell have also assisted me tremendously, especially with marketing know-how.
TSW: Are you a plotter or pantser?

Little: I love this question! I happen to be both. When I write my non-fiction I am definitely a plotter. I detail very specific outlines to the point of practically having it written before I actually start writing. My fiction, on the other hand, is definitely written as I go. Many of my short stories and novelettes actually are born from dreams I have had. I wake up with them and the emotions they create within me, sit down at my laptop and write. Misplaced Love is an example of that.

Finding Home, the first novel I have published, started from a personal rant not meant for anyone else’s eyes. From there, Cora, the main character was born and the story unfolded on its own accord. There were times I lay in bed at night and wondered where my characters would end up, but almost every time, once I put my pencil to paper (yes, I did write the entire length of Finding Home by hand) I became the witness rather than the creator. Or at least it felt that way!  Much of the rant is now dispersed throughout the book, but it just shows how a quick free-write can create something so much more!
TSW: Can you give us a glimpse into your writing routine?

Little: The stage in life I live in the moment does not grant much routine or writing time. When our miraculous son was born, my husband and I decided for me to give up my teaching position so I could be home with him full time. It has been the best job, but also the hardest and most time consuming. I wouldn’t change it for the world!

That being said, I used to utilize my son’s nap time to write. He no longer naps, but we have instilled a “quiet time” in our routine where I sometimes get a chance to work on my writing. Pretty much at this stage in my life I write whenever, and I mean whenever, I am blessed with the time. I have been known to jot down notes or a scene at stop lights or while my husband runs into the hardware store to grab a few items.
TSW: What do you find to be the hardest part about writing?

Little: Right now the hardest part of writing is having enough time to get it all down. I sometimes wish my brain was a computer that I could download into a document. I would be unstoppable then!
TSW: What’s the first book that made you cry?
Little: The first book I remember that made me cry was Where the Red Fern Grows. It broke my little 8 year old heart!


TSW: What does success look like to you?

Little: What a complicated, deep question! Success has the face of happiness to me. If I and my family are happy and full of love, no matter what we do—that is success!

My dream though? I would love to be able to earn enough with my writing to travel the country with my husband and son or move to an even more secluded cabin higher up in the Sierras.
TSW: Are there any writers who inspire you?

Little: Every writer I have been honored to talk with inspires me. I know that sounds corny, but it’s true! Writers have such a distinctive and individual way of viewing life. Each one has something unique to offer this world!
TSW: What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned on your journey as a writer?

Little: The biggest lesson I have learned on this journey is to trust myself. It is so easy to give in to self-doubt and criticism. The beauty arises, though, when we can truly embrace our own voice and trust what it says.


About Danae C. Little:

Danae Little takes real life and wraps it up neatly into something beautiful you can hold in your hands.

Life is dynamic and ever-changing and Danae embraces that, bringing an eclectic array of expertise to her readers. Checkout her author page,, for a full list of her books and journals.

Danae lives in a small town at the base of the majestic Sierras with the adventurous love of her life and their miraculous son. She spends her days feeling blessed to be chasing imaginary dragons in their magical forest and finding any quiet moment possible to put pen to paper.


Connect with Danae:

Wednesday Writing Warrior: Lucy Summers

Welcome to another edition of Wednesday Writing Warrior! Today I’d like to introduce fantasy writer Lucy Summers. You can samples of her upcoming work, Storm of Thieves, on Facebook. Click here to check it out!

TSW: Tell us a bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

Summers: I think I’ve always loved writing. Ever since I was about 10 years old, I would dabble with short stories that I now cringe at. I enjoyed the freedom in writing and loved that I could design the world and shape the characters any way that I wanted to. I have a bucket full of old musings that I still keep, just as a document of my creative worlds. The passion and ability to shape something from nothing is an art that I have fallen in love with.
TSW: In which genre do you classify your writing?

Summers: I have played with romance and thrillers when I was much younger, but after watching Lord of the Rings, my passion for fantasy was kindled deep within me. I went as far as learning archery because of it, and later got good enough to become an archery coach. I coached for 3 years before I had to quit due to work, but I will still shoot recreationally. I think it’s the freedom of fantasy that I love most, because in a world that doesn’t exist, anything at all can happen. There are no limitations put on it by the rules of our world. I mostly read fantasy as my go-to as well, but I will read just about anything.
TSW: What books/short stories/novellas/poetry have you published, or what projects are you working on?

Summers: I’m currently working on an epic fantasy story that will eventually be a trilogy. I have not yet published, but for all my musings in writing, this is the first piece I’ve written that I truly believe in. I am nearing the final stages with it and hope to eventually find an agent to help me share it with the world.

(See below to learn about Storm of Thieves!)

here is a brief synopsis: Ryale Stromstorm is a notorious thief in the land of Ashtrean, where magic has ceased and crime is spreading. Her latest mission: a high-risk heist to steal from one of the very lords ruling her city. Miscalculating the brevity of her attempt, she lands herself in the custody of the very man she tried to steal from.
Thanifear has been owned by Lord Saydor for as long as he can remember. He knows little of the outside world and doesn’t know what it’s like to be free. When Ryale enters the mines, his chance at a new life starts to take hold.
Daemon Arroyan has unparalleled abilities. The multitude of daggers on his belt and dark glare are enough of a warning. He has little issues killing any who get in his way. Forced to accompany Ryale and Thanifear as they make their escape, he just might be their only chance at surviving, as Ryale didn’t leave the city empty handed…

It is written in first person with 3 POV. The book is broken into 3 sections, each told by one of the three.

TSW: What is your favorite writing resource, be it a book, website, program…?

Summers: I haven’t really used alot of writing resources, per se, but I have taken creative writing classes in college by a crazy professor who taught me more than I realized. Styles, point of view, learning better vocabulary, thinking of seeing and communicating a scene without telling are all points that I developed through those classes.
TSW: Are you a plotter or pantser?

Summers: Absolutely a pantser. I don’t like outlining. Even for high school papers, despise it being a requirement, I wouldn’t do it. It is all unknown to me. I write to discover. I write because I’m curious and need to see how the story unfolds. Small bits get revealed slowly, one scene at a time. If I plan and outline it, I already know the story, so I don’t have the same motivation for it.
TSW: Can you give us a glimpse into your writing routine?

Summers: What a fun question! For me, I like to be completely alone when I write. I’m not the type who can go to a cafe or public place and sit down and work. I don’t have the same level of focus. I usually keep to my room and lay on my back with my laptop propped against my legs, the same position I’m currently in as I write this. And I need silence. I used to be able/prefer to listen to music while I worked, but I find now that it can drown out the characters at times and I want to see them clearly. I am a firm believer that somewhere, on the other side of the veil, their voices slip out and find us. How they choose us, I don’t know, but it is our duty to write their stories. I picture myself sitting in a fairly dark room, one table pushed against the northern wall, a single light source from above. I sit on the far end, my back to the wall, and my 3 MCs sit on the other side. They talk to me, tell me scene by scene how things happened. I stay silent and write, unless I have a question. And they can be so moody, especially my assassin, Daemon. Sometimes, they just aren’t in the mood to talk. And I have to try and motivate them to reveal what happens next. This is the same reason why I can’t outline.

As the story progresses, I force myself to keep on writing. If I try and edit each scene, I get stuck in an endless loop and never am able to move forward. For the first draft, I don’t even allow myself to edit typos or spelling. The editor in me will take a mile if I give an inch: edit one word, it will be a sentence then a paragraph then the whole darn chapter, and then I’m just focused on making it tighter, instead of on the events of the story. I’m currently well past that point now, and making my final changes to the story. I have such high hopes that the world will love my characters as much as I do.
TSW: What do you find to be the hardest part about writing?

Summers: Not editing as I go is definitely one of the issues I’ve found. I have seen my characters pretty clearly and don’t really have problems finding the next scene or how they’re connected, but thinking around the plot and finding plot holes, then filling them, makes it difficult at times. And then of course, there are the words themselves. Creating a sentence to be perfect is difficult. I will be pleased with one paragraph, look at it, tell myself, “this is good!”, then read it a week later and rewrite every single word. Writing is hard. We, as writers, have to see everything. We don’t get the luxury of the movies, where visual effects–not even special effects–come in. If a wagon pulls down a dirt drive, we, in a movie, see the wagon, the horse, the driver, hear the hoof falls, see the dust rising behind the wheels. In a story, we have to not only see that all in our heads, but communicate those details to the reader, all without cluttering up the story. It’s not easy. But it’s so much fun.
TSW: What’s the first book that made you cry (if there is one)?

Summers: Oh geez, I don’t remember. But I can tell you this much. I’ve only ever cried during 3 movies. I just don’t get sucked into movies the same way I do books. Number of books that made me cry? Lost track a long time ago. You just get so much more out of a book that a movie lacks.
TSW: What does success look like to you?

Summers: There are two levels I see as success. Professional success and personal success. On a professional level, it would be to have my work published. I intend to get there. I believe in fulfilling dreams, and this is something I dream of doing with Storm of Thieves. I will get there. Traditional or self publishing, one way or another, I will get there. Personal success, though, comes with what we do as writers. Finding that “a-ha!” moment when things slip into place, finishing a scene that was hard and struggling (my current ch. 13 was like this, hardest thing I ever wrote) to get right, or, my favorite, writing that very last sentence and being able to pause, stop, and look at it and say, “It is finished!” Those are the moments we strive for. There is no feeling like it.
TSW: Are there any writers who inspire you?

Summers: Absolutely! Patrick Rothfuss is an incredible author whose work has given me more passion. His way with words is incredibly beautiful. Ernest Cline is another. He is the author of Ready Player One. This book is actually a funny story. I’m not a big gamer. I’d rather be reading. I also am not a big sci-fi fan at all. Futuristic stories, science, aliens, space, etc. are just not my types. I only picked up this book because it was laying on the floor of our house and I was told it was good, so I grew curious. I expected to only read the first page. I read the whole thing in two days. I couldn’t put it down. His writing is incredibly clear, without questions of uncertainty. The writing in it alone inspires me to do better with my own, but the fact that I not only read the whole thing, but loved it, in a genre that I normally wouldn’t read…that is some serious inspiration.
TSW: What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned on your journey as a writer?

Summers: I would say that writing is now a part of me. Developing my characters, or as I think of it, letting them tell me who they are, is a really big change. They are now constantly in my head, living there almost, and will talk and express themselves in the oddest times, like at work. I think no matter what I do now, the three of them will always be part of me. I think writing has taught me to think more analytically as well. I need to see the scene myself before I’m able to convey it. Every little detail matters. I now read books with a new look and a new respect. I never really knew just how much time went into writing. Now that I do, I have to appreciate a story more. I also read with a more critical eye. I have found a few typos in stories as well as thought of a few different ways to express parts of it different than the author did. I see differently now. Even in my everyday life, things I see I think could be a good story, or be part of a future story, or make a good setting, etc…

Check out the first two chapters of Storm of Thieves on Facebook!
Ryale Stromstorm is a notorious thief in the land of Ashtrean, where magic has ceased and crime is spreading. Her latest mission: a high-risk heist to steal from one of the very lords ruling her city. Miscalculating the brevity of her attempt, she lands herself in the custody of the very man she tried to steal from.
Thanifear has been owned by Lord Saydor for as long as he can remember. He knows little of the outside world and doesn’t know what it’s like to be free. When Ryale enters the mines, his chance at a new life starts to take hold.
Daemon Arroyan has unparalleled abilities. The multitude of daggers on his belt and dark glare are enough of a warning. He has little issues killing any who get in his way. Forced to accompany Ryale and Thanifear as they make their escape, he just might be their only chance at surviving, as Ryale didn’t leave the city empty-handed…

About Lucy Summers:

I am a fantasy fiend. I’m the type of person who has no problem expressing what I love. I will go out in public wearing a cloak, hood up over my face. I love reading and have been a reader since before kindergarten. I have my mom to thank for that. She quickly instilled in me a love for books. I am an archer and horseback rider. I have been riding since I was 9 and have an amazing horse who I ride 3-4x a week. I have shot my bow off her many times as well, usually dressed up as one of my characters. My passion for fantasy stories was always there, but after seeing Lord of the Rings, it was the spark the really fed the fire. I live in California, USA. I love to travel, anywhere and everywhere. I always have a striving desire for adventure.